Erik ten Hag says questions about the future of Cristiano Ronaldo and other Manchester United stars are "for the future" as he focuses on attempting to see Ajax over the line in the Eredivisie title race.

It was confirmed last month Ten Hag will be the replacement for interim boss Ralf Rangnick from next season.

The long-term future of Portugal superstar Ronaldo, who signed on for a second spell at Old Trafford from Juventus back in August, has been shrouded in doubt despite the fact he has another year on his contract, with an option to extend for a third season, and has contributed 18 Premier League goals for a United side that has badly underperformed this season.

Reports in the British media suggested Dutchman Ten Hag wants Ronaldo to be a part of his plans next term, but when asked about the prospect of working with the 37-year-old at a news conference previewing Ajax's clash with AZ, he kept his cards pressed firmly to his chest.

"They are questions for the future and not in this moment," he said.

"I want to answer questions about Ajax, we are in an important race, and an important week. I want to focus on Ajax and not on Manchester United."

There have been rumours Ten Hag could look to take some of his Ajax squad with him to Old Trafford, with Sebastien Haller, Antony, and Jurrien Timber among those linked with a switch.

Ten Hag denied suggestions any deals are in place, though.

"No, there are no agreements about that," he added. "I now have very good players, but it's not an issue at all."

Manchester City have become a shock suitor for disgruntled Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, with his contract set to expire at the end of this season.

Pogba, 29, has previously spoken about regretting his move to Old Trafford, and had been expected to leave the Premier League in the upcoming transfer window, being strongly linked with Barcelona and Real Madrid.

While the Frenchman has highlighted his desire to compete for trophies, he may not have to leave the city to get his wish, with a chance to insert himself into Manchester football folklore if he ditches the red for sky blue.

 

TOP STORY – CITY TO OFFER POGBA FOUR-YEAR DEAL WITH FREE TRANSFER

The Daily Mail is reporting City have interest in bringing in Pogba on a free transfer, while the Guardian claims the French midfielder would like to work with Pep Guardiola, and that the club are willing to offer a four-year deal.

If he makes the move, Pogba would be arguably the biggest name to ever make the switch, rivalling Carlos Tevez, but the Guardian report notes he would be taking a pay cut in doing so.

It is not known if offers coming from Spain would be more lucrative financially, but arguably no team can offer a better chance at European and domestic success than City.

In 154 Premier League appearances since his arrival in 2016, Pogba has scored 29 goals and laid on 41 assists.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Telegraph is reporting Brighton and Hove Albion manager Graham Potter is considered the favourite to replace Antonio Conte at Tottenham if he is to leave at the end of the season. Brighton are said to be seeking compensation of £10million from Spurs in the agreement.

Manchester United are interested in 19-year-old French striker Hugo Ekitike from Reims, according to the Daily Mail.

– Football London is reporting Chelsea are considering a move for Torino defender Gleison Bremer.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, Monaco will not accept less than €70m for Liverpool defender Aurelien Tchouameni.

– The Liverpool Echo is reporting Liverpool have agreed to a £7m deal for Fulham's 19-year-old Portuguese forward Marco Silva.

Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick has defended his decision not to play Jesse Lingard in what could have been the winger's final game at Old Trafford after receiving criticism from the player's brother.

Lingard was an unused substitute as the Red Devils ran out as 3-0 winners over Brentford in their final home league game of a frustrating season on Monday, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, and Raphael Varane on the scoresheet.

A number of players either confirmed or likely to leave Old Trafford, including Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Phil Jones, and Edinson Cavani, were given appearances by Rangnick, although Lingard was not afforded a farewell outing ahead of his contract expiring in June.

That attracted the ire of the player's brother Louie Scott, who posted on Instagram: "20 years of blood sweat and tears, four domestic trophies, three cup final goals, not even a farewell. No wonder it's Conference League next year."

But Rangnick insists he has done more for Lingard than several past United bosses, and listed several factors affecting his decision not to play the 29-year-old.

"Well to start with, I think in the last couple of weeks under my tenure, he has played far more games than he used to before I came," Rangnick said.

"Number two, on gameday against Chelsea [last Thursday] he contacted me at the hotel and asked me to release him from the game and to also release him from the training session two days after the Chelsea game, for some personal family reasons, and I allowed him to do that.

"This was the reason, and with only three substitutions, unfortunately – in all the other leagues you have five – I had to take a decision between bringing on Cavani or Lingard, or even the young Alejandro Garnacho, who I also would have loved to bring on and give him a chance after being 3-0 up.

"I took the decision to bring on Edinson for the very reasons I just explained. If I hadn't brought on Edinson maybe someone else would have posted 'it was classless not to bring on Cavani', or someone else would have posted 'why didn't the manager bring on Garnacho?'

"You have to take a decision. This will not be to the liking of everybody, but it's part of the game."

Lingard has made 22 appearances for the Red Devils in all competitions this season, although only four of those have been starts and the 29-year-old has only featured for a total of 548 minutes.

United are looking to avoid a fifth consecutive away league defeat when they travel to Brighton and Hove Albion in their penultimate game of the Premier League season on Saturday, with their current run of four consecutive league losses on the road already their worst such streak since the 1980-1981 season (a run of six).

Harry Maguire is in line for a return to action when Manchester United travel to Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League on Saturday, Ralf Rangnick has confirmed.

The United captain has not played since the Red Devils fell to a crushing 4-0 defeat at rivals Liverpool on April 19.

He was only the bench four days later as United lost to Arsenal 3-1, with Rangnick confirming the mental toll of a bomb threat made against Maguire was one reason for leaving him out.

A knee injury then forced him to miss the 1-1 draw with Chelsea and United's 3-0 defeat of Brentford.

United sit sixth in the Premier League table, five points behind fourth-placed Arsenal going in to the final two games of Rangnick's tenure as interim manager.

Maguire has been criticised after playing his part in just seven clean sheets in 35 appearances across all competitions this term but should return at the Amex Stadium, although Rangnick refused to say whether he would start.

Fellow England international Marcus Rashford, however, has been ruled out after suffering from a bout of bronchitis.

"Harry is back in training, he trained the whole week, the second day after the Brentford game he resumed training, so he will be available and will be part of the group," Rangnick told his pre-match press conference.

"This [whether will start Maguire] is a decision I have to make after training today, obviously I don't want to tell our opponents the line-up with which we will start, but he will definitely be part of the group.

"Edinson [Cavani] is in training, obviously he came on as a sub [against Brentford], [but] Marcus Rashford will be missing, he has caught bronchitis, with a high temperature, so he won't be able to be part of the group."

United will defend an excellent head-to-head record against the Seagulls when they travel to the south coast: they have won each of their previous seven games against Brighton in all competitions, their longest ongoing winning run against another current Premier League side.

However, the Red Devils have lost each of their past four away Premier League games, as many as they had in the previous 42 on their travels, making it the club's longest run of consecutive league reverses on the road since a streak of six between December 1980 and March 1981.

However, as Rangnick prepares to make way for Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag and assume a consultancy role at the end of the season, he reiterated his belief that the future is bright at Old Trafford, saying he was pleased to see his players enjoying their football against the Bees last time out.

"In last two home games we got four points, and the Brentford game was one of our best games in the last six months. I'm positive that the team will try to play on the same level tomorrow and in two weeks' time against Crystal Palace," he added.

"Once again, what I liked about the game was you could see they had fun playing together, that they were enjoying themselves on the pitch, and this is exactly the kind of approach we need for tomorrow as well.

"I think it was visible against Brentford, you could see they enjoyed themselves on the pitch. This does not mean everything was perfect, but in possession we were controlling the game.

"With regard to next season, there will be some changes, obviously. There are some players whose contracts are expiring, with new players to join us here, in the end it's also a thing that needs to be discussed with Erik and the board.

"Erik needs to tell the board which players he wants to work with, but I'm positive with the right new players, plus the players that are already here, the pathway could be a very positive one, this is what we will all try to achieve.

"We will definitely speak at the end of the season. Both Erik and myself want to have our full focus on the outstanding games, he has another three games to play and will do everything to try to win the title in the Netherlands.

"We have agreed we will chat and speak about everything at the end of the season."

Anthony Elanga is eager at the prospect of working under Erik ten Hag when he eventually takes over as manager at Manchester United.

Despite a turbulent season that saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer dismissed in November, the 20-year-old Elanga has progressed under his interim replacement, Ralf Rangnick.

Elanga was not in a first-team squad in the Premier League this season until Rangnick's arrival and since then has made 19 league appearances.

However, Ten Hag's football with Ajax has Elanga excited with what he can bring to Old Trafford.

"You can see the way Ajax are playing in Europe," he told Sky Sports. "He's a great manager with a fantastic record in Europe. I've seen how good he is with developing young players, so that's one of the reasons I'm really excited to work with him.

"Obviously we're focused on finishing the season strongly, but we're also feeling very, very positive about next year. His experience in Europe, developing young players like myself and we've got other young players coming up. He'll bring exciting football to Old Trafford.

"It all starts from pre-season and how we take in his instructions and tactics. He'll be a great addition to the club and I'm really, really excited to work with him."

Elanga has started to establish himself at United, with 25 appearances in all competitions this season, claiming three goals and two assists in that time.

The attacker believes the difficulty of this campaign at Old Trafford, that will likely result in a failure to qualify for the Champions League, has still provided him an important learning experience.

"Playing 25 games for the first team and making my international debut, I've personally learnt a huge amount," Elanga said.

"Despite what's happened this season, I still feel I've learnt a lot and I'm ready to take my game to the next level next season."

Manchester United will next face Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Manchester United have been proven wrong by David Moyes, who deserved more time at Old Trafford, according to Phil Neville.

Neville left United as a player to join Moyes at Everton and then returned to his former club as part of the new manager's backroom staff in 2013.

But Moyes' United tenure did not go to plan after he was appointed with the backing of outgoing legend Alex Ferguson.

The Red Devils were reigning Premier League champions but finished seventh in a season Moyes failed to see out, sacked with four games remaining.

Since then, Moyes has endured mixed fortunes, struggling at Real Sociedad and suffering relegation with Sunderland before restoring his reputation across two stints with West Ham.

The 59-year-old will lead the Hammers out in a Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday, with the club on course for a second successive season of European football having been battling relegation when the manager returned to London Stadium.

Meanwhile, United – one place above West Ham in sixth – are turning to Erik ten Hag as their sixth appointment since Ferguson's retirement (including incumbent interim boss Ralf Rangnick).

Neville feels the club would have been better served giving time to the man named as Ferguson's successor.

"If you look back now, it was totally wrong the lack of time that he was given," the Inter Miami head coach told Sky Sports. "It was totally wrong the lack of backing, the lack of finance in terms of the investment that other managers have had.

"I'd say that's the biggest thing. When we both left the club at that time, we needed another season.

"Ten months at Manchester United, in a difficult period when the greatest manager of all time had just left, wasn't enough. He had unbelievable plans to take the club forward in that summer.

"I'd say that, looking back, it was probably one of the biggest mistakes United made since Sir Alex left, not giving David Moyes more time.

"I think he's proven now at West Ham: with time, he can build a football club to sustain, with quality and to be successful.

"That, for me, was probably one of the biggest disappointments in football, when he was sacked by Manchester United."

Barcelona are reportedly open to "big-money" offers for Manchester United target Frenkie de Jong.

De Jong, who has 40 caps for the Netherlands, arrived at Barcelona from Ajax for a €75million fee in 2019, accumulating 137 appearances for the club in all competitions.

The midfielder has been a key pillar in Barcelona's line-up this season, appearing 44 times, but the Catalan giants may be ready to move on as the interest from United intensifies.

TOP STORY – BARCA ARE CONSIDERING OFFERS FOR DE JONG

The Blaugrana are open-minded about potentially parting ways with De Jong, who is being closely linked with his former Ajax coach Erik ten Hag for his new venture at United.

He is one of the main players on the Red Devils' wish-list, which Fichajes reports also includes Southampton's James Ward-Prowse, Feyenoord left-back Tyrell Malacia and West Ham's Jarrod Bowen.

The Telegraph adds that Ten Hag has identified eight players "he can trust" at the club, while being on the fence about Marcus Rashford's future.

ROUND-UP

– L'Equipe is reporting RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku would like to leave the club after this season, with a desire to head to Manchester City, United, Paris Saint-Germain or Milan

Newcastle United have met with the agent of Watford's Ismaila Sarr but will have to match the club's £40million asking price, per FootballTransfers.

Bayer Leverkusen are planning a move for PSG youngster Eric-Junior Dina Ebimbe after failing to secure the deal during the January transfer window, according to RMC Sport.

– Sport is reporting Samuel Umtiti will leave Barcelona in the next transfer window and wants to return to Lyon, who will be competing for his services with Rennes, Montpellier and Nice

– Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha is unlikely to sign an extension with the club and could be sold in the next transfer window with his contract set to expire in 2023, according to The Times.

Sensational comebacks are increasingly a staple of the modern Champions League, and this season they have belonged almost exclusively to Real Madrid.

Los Blancos trailed Manchester City 1-0 heading into the 90th minute at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, with Pep Guardiola's team leading 5-3 on aggregate.

Yet two goals in the space of 91 seconds from Rodrygo forced extra-time, and Carlo Ancelotti's team set up a meeting with Liverpool in Paris when Karim Benzema converted a penalty to claim a 3-1 win (6-5 on aggregate).

It was the third stunning turnaround Madrid have enjoyed in the knockout stages this campaign, following Benzema's hat-trick against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 and Rodrygo's goal against Chelsea to secure an aggregate win in the quarters last month.

Here's a few other incredible comebacks to jog your memory.

Real Madrid 3-1 PSG (3-2 agg), 2022

Madrid have done it the hard way this season, as they target a 14th European title. 

Not many fancied them to get through against PSG, especially when Kylian Mbappe, who had scored a stunning goal in the first leg in Paris in February, put Mauricio Pochettino's team ahead at the Santiago Bernabeu with a crisp finish.

Yet Gianluigi Donnarumma's slack play enabled Benzema to pounce and pull one back, with the striker then scoring twice in two minutes to turn the tie on its head and set Madrid en route to the final.

Barcelona 6-1 PSG (6-5 agg), 2017

Barcelona remain the perpetrators of the most remarkable of all Champions League comebacks, at least in terms of deficit overhauled.

Trailing 4-0 from the first leg of their last-16 tie with PSG, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi scored either side of a Layvin Kurzawa own goal, only for Edinson Cavani to grab what was expected to be the decisive strike for the visitors.

However, two quick Neymar goals – the second a highly controversial penalty after an apparent Suarez dive – levelled the tie at 5-5.

Then, in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Sergi Roberto struck to create a slice of Champions League history – no side had ever turned around a four-goal first-leg deficit before.

Roma 3-0 Barcelona (4-4 agg, Roma won on away goals), 2018

The boot was on the other foot when Barcelona were dethroned in the Italian capital last year as Roma completed one of the most unlikely turnarounds in quarter-final history.

Eusebio Di Francesco's side came back from a 4-1 first-leg deficit to progress to the last eight on away goals after a thrilling 3-0 win in front of their home fans.

Edin Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas secured the 4-4 aggregate draw and sent the Stadio Olimpico into raptures, as Barca completely fell to pieces.

Liverpool 4 Barcelona 0 (4-3 agg), 2019

Fresh from netting a late winner at Newcastle United the weekend before, Divock Origi allowed the Liverpool faithful to dream by poaching his maiden Champions League goal in the seventh minute.

Jurgen Klopp needed Alisson to be on form as he saved from Messi and Suarez, before another unlikely hero emerged.

Andrew Robertson's injury forced James Milner to left-back and Georginio Wijnaldum into the fray at half-time. By the hour, the Dutch midfielder had Liverpool level thanks to two goals in 122 delirious seconds.

Origi had the final word thanks to Trent Alexander-Arnold's quick thinking from a 79th-minute corner, leaving Barcelona and Messi crestfallen once more. The Reds went on to beat Tottenham in an all-English final.

Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax (5-3 agg), 2019

Despite their impressive display in their 2-1 first-leg defeat, nobody really seemed to think Ajax could turn things around at the Santiago Bernabeu. Sergio Ramos certainly did not – he earned a booking to avoid the risk of a quarter-final ban, earning an extra-game suspension from UEFA in the process.

In the absence of their captain, Madrid completely capitulated amid a fearless and thrilling Ajax – the type of which Liverpool might yet be faced with in the final.

Hakim Ziyech and David Neres put the visitors 2-0 up after only 18 minutes and it was 3-0 just after the hour mark thanks to the inspired Dusan Tadic.

Marco Asensio got a goal back, but Lasse Schone's free-kick beat Thibaut Courtois and sent Madrid crashing out. It was the first time they had ever been knocked out after winning the first leg of a Champions League tie.

PSG 1-3 Manchester United (3-3 agg, United won on away goals), 2019

It really had been quite the season for upsets in Europe's premier competition. A day on from Ajax's thrashing of Madrid, United made history at Parc des Princes.

No side had ever won a knockout tie after trailing 2-0 from a first leg at home, and with 10 senior players missing, including the banned Paul Pogba, United's chances looked slim.

Romelu Lukaku scored just two minutes in, though, and despite Juan Bernat's equaliser on the night, Lukaku struck again after a Gianluigi Buffon error to make it 2-1.

As the game crept towards second-half injury time, Diogo Dalot's shot struck Presnel Kimpembe's arm and the referee awarded a penalty after a lengthy VAR review. Marcus Rashford scored it, United progressed, and the clamour for Solskjaer to be given the permanent manager's job grew louder.

Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 AC Milan (5-4 agg), 2004

Deportivo were among Spain's major forces just after the turn of the century and one of their finest moments in Europe came in April 2004 when, despite being 4-1 down from the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final with AC Milan, they stunned the Italians at home.

Walter Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valeron and Albert Luque had Depor ahead on away goals before half-time, with Fran Gonzalez – who played for them in the second division in the late 80s and is still their record appearance holder – fittingly scored the fourth to make sure of their passage.

Depor were eliminated by eventual winners Porto in the semi-finals, but this comeback stood as arguably the very best in Champions League history until Barca went one better.

Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan (AET, 3-2 on pens), 2005

That famous night in Istanbul. Liverpool found themselves on the end of a hiding at half-time in the 2005 Champions League final, as Paolo Maldini and a Hernan Crespo brace had the Serie A side 3-0 up.

But the second half proved to be one of the most iconic 45 minutes in Liverpool's history, with goals from Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso levelling the match up by the hour mark.

Milan then failed to hold their nerve in the penalty shootout, as Jerzy Dudek's leggy antics in the Liverpool goal helped the Pole outsmart both Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko after Serginho blazed the first kick over, resulting in the Premier League side lifting their fifth European title.

Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich, 1999

Possibly the two most dramatic minutes in the history of European club football.

United were trailing 1-0 to Bayern Munich in the 1999 final at Camp Nou, with Mario Basler's skidding free-kick into the bottom-right corner looking set to be enough for the Bavarian giants to end a 23-year wait for glory in the continent's top-tier competition.

However, the United of Alex Ferguson's era could never be discounted until the final whistle, and substitute Teddy Sheringham swept Ryan Giggs' shot into the bottom corner to bring the scores level in the 91st minute.

Solskjaer, another late substitute and now the man in the United dug-out, avoided the need for extra time by stabbing Sheringham's header from a David Beckham corner into the roof of the net as United completed an historic treble in astonishing fashion.

Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea (AET, 6-4 agg), 2000

A 3-1 first-leg loss at Stamford Bridge – having trailed 3-0 – had Barca in danger of being on the wrong end of a major 1999-00 Champions League upset prior to the Roman Abramovich era, but in the return match the Catalans showed their true class.

Tore Andre Flo's 60th-minute goal was sending Chelsea through despite Rivaldo and Luis Figo scoring before the break, but Dani Garcia scored seven minutes from the end of regulation to force extra time.

Rivaldo then converted a penalty after Celestine Babayaro was sent off and Patrick Kluivert wrapped things up, crushing Chelsea's dreams.

Erik ten Hag may be a "perfect match" for Manchester United, according to former Ajax defender Joel Veltman.

Ten Hag will leave his role as Ajax head coach to take over from interim United manager Ralf Rangnick at the end of the season.

The Dutchman faces a significant rebuilding job, with United only sixth in the Premier League and set to miss out on Champions League football after falling short of expectations again this season, and having not won a trophy in five years.

However, Veltman – who moved from Ajax to Brighton and Hove Albion in 2020 – is optimistic for the Red Devils, having played under Ten Hag in the Eredivisie and believing his appointment could be "the most important thing" the club has done.

"I think it's a good choice only because he's tactically really good, and I think that's the most important thing that they need right now," Veltman said to Sky Sports.

"They have the major players, every player showed already they are amazing and can perform well in this league at the highest level, so they just need a gaffer who is like, 'Guys, you have to do this, this and this.' He needs time of course, but I think he's probably the perfect match.

"Hopefully he will make a team of them. Like OK if you go there, I will go here. Like a harmonica they call it in Holland so it's like not loose ends any more, so hopefully he will do that next season."

Veltman is set to face United on Saturday as Brighton host the Manchester club in the Premier League, and did add a word of warning that they should not expect an immediate rise under his former boss.

"He came from Ajax, next season to United, so he did it step by step, and he is still learning," said the 30-year-old.

"You are still learning every game, but he is still learning as well I think. Hopefully he will get the time, and he can get to show the players, directors, everybody and the fans that he is the guy and of course he needs results.

"As a gaffer you need results and hopefully they will come to him, but I think it will be fine actually."

Cristiano Ronaldo has denied saying "I'm not finished" following Manchester United's 3-0 Premier League win over Brentford.

The Portugal international scored a second-half penalty as United saw off the Bees at Old Trafford on Monday and, after the game, reports suggested he made the comment into a television camera during the lap of honour to mark the Red Devils' final home game of the season.

However, Ronaldo has rebuffed those claims on social media.

A United fan account on Instagram posted about the 37-year-old's alleged comment, to which the player himself replied directly, writing: "I didn't say that."

It was claimed by some who thought Ronaldo had made the comment that the Portugal great was making reference to the fact his future at United has been shrouded in doubt.

Ronaldo still has a year remaining on his deal with the Red Devils, with the club having the option to extend it by a further 12 months.

He has been one of the few success stories in what has been a season to forget for United, scoring 24 goals in 37 appearances in all competitions since returning from Juventus last year.

There has been increased speculation as to whether the former Real Madrid man will be staying with United next season, with new manager Erik ten Hag arriving at the end of this campaign to try and return the club to their former glories.

Barcelona's financial volatility has necessitated a cut of overall wage spend, and Philippe Coutinho has long been viewed as dispensable.

Since his big-money signing from Liverpool, the incompatibility the Brazil international has represented has only been reinforced with loan spells at Bayern Munich and Aston Villa.

However, in need of funds, the Blaugrana have reportedly set the Birmingham club a timeframe for confirming his permanent signing.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA GIVE ASTON VILLA COUTINHO ULTIMATUM

Barcelona have given Aston Villa until the end of the month to confirm whether they will sign Coutinho on a permanent deal, Sport is reporting.

The cash-strapped Catalan giants loaned Coutinho to Villa in January with a €40million (£33.7m) purchase option, but Villa have now been given until the end of May to finalise the deal.

Barcelona have reportedly insisted that the finances be resolved by the end of June, as it would help balance their accounts for the season. 

The 29-year-old has played erratically despite four goals and three assists in 14 appearances, not directly contributing to a league goal since early March against Leeds.

ROUND-UP

- Romelu Lukaku has no intention of joining Milan or Newcastle United despite frustration over a lack of opportunities, according to the Evening Standard.

- Chelsea want to sign 20-year-old Croatian defender Josko Gvardiol from RB Leipzig, Goal reports.

- Football Insider reports Inter Milan are looking to sell Stefan de Vrij, with Tottenham and Aston Villa among the clubs interested.

- Lazio are willing to lower their asking price for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to around €80million, per Calciomercato.

Raphael Varane pledged Manchester United will improve on their disappointing season in a new era under Erik ten Hag.

Varane scored his first Red Devils goal in a 3-0 Premier League win over Brentford on Monday, but has endured a largely frustrating first season in England following his move from Real Madrid.

The 29-year-old has made 28 appearances in all competitions this season, 25 of them starts, but has been involved in just six clean sheets with United looking certain to miss out on Champions League qualification ahead of the imminent arrival of new boss Ten Hag

United have gone five years without winning a major trophy, but Varane, who featured as Madrid were humbled 4-1 by Ten Hag's Ajax team in the Champions League at the Bernabeu in March 2019, is expecting a better showing next term.

"Personally, it's been an amazing experience, the feeling of being a player at Manchester United is something special," the France centre-back told MUTV of his first campaign with the club.

"I'm always positive, I think the next season will be better.

"This season was something irregular, we will work to be ready to win trophies and do our best over the next few months."

The signing of the 2018 World Cup winner was announced on the opening day of the Premier League season, and Varane predicted he would benefit from having a full pre-season under his belt in the 2022-23 campaign.

"I hope to do a full pre-season, to be fit to help the team as much as possible. I want to do my best for this club and the fans," he added.

Varane's team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo has scored nine of United's last 12 Premier League goals after netting the team's second against the Bees, and the defender was keen to hail the 37-year-old forward.

"It's fantastic, he's a great professional, and I think his talent is amazing, if he is on the pitch he will score goals, it's crazy," Varane added.

"Even with his age, he has the hunger and with his talent he can help the team."

Cristiano Ronaldo will still be at Manchester United next season "as far as I know", says outgoing interim manager Ralf Rangnick.

Big changes are anticipated at Old Trafford in the offseason as new boss Erik ten Hag replaces Rangnick, who is taking on a dual role as United consultant and Austria coach.

Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata and Edinson Cavani all made their final home appearances as United players in Monday's 3-0 defeat of Brentford.

And there has also been widespread speculation around Ronaldo and how he will fare under Ten Hag – or whether he could even move on a year after his return to the club.

But Ronaldo has scored 18 goals in just 29 Premier League games this season, and Rangnick does not foresee United's number seven leaving.

Speaking to Stadium Astro after the Brentford game, Rangnick said of Ronaldo's response to the crowd at full-time: "I don't think why it should be a wave of goodbye.

"He has another year of contract, and as far as I know, he will be here next season again."

Meanwhile, Ronaldo posted on his Instagram page: "Once again, great support from the stands.

"Let's take this opportunity of our last game of the season at Old Trafford to thank our amazing supporters, who endured a difficult season by our side and never abandoned us.

"Thanks, guys. Your support means the world to us and our goal is to become better everyday, so that we can achieve what we all want: glory for Man. United!"

Along with veterans Matic, Mata and Cavani, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard are set to depart United, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been linked with a return to Crystal Palace.

Manchester United have "bigger problems" than Cristiano Ronaldo and there is "no logic" in selling the superstar forward, says Red Devils legend Roy Keane.

Ronaldo was named man of the match as United secured a 3-0 win over Brentford in their final home match of the Premier League season on Monday.

The Portugal great scored a second-half penalty at Old Trafford to take his Premier League account for the campaign to 18 – a tally bettered by only Mohamed Salah (23) and Son Heung-min (19).

Despite his excellent return in front of goal since rejoining the club from Juventus, many doubted whether Ronaldo could fit the high-pressing style preferred by interim boss Ralf Rangnick and if he would suit the methods of incoming boss Erik ten Hag.

Throw in the fact Ronaldo is now 37, there is a school of thought among some pundits that United should look to move on their star man and bring in younger forwards.

Former United captain Keane does not subscribe to such a notion, though, suggesting instead the club need to invest in other strikers to complement him.

Speaking on Monday Night Football for Sky Sports, Keane said: "It [Ronaldo's signing] was a short-term fix, for the fans, for the share price. But he has still scored the goals.

"Manchester United have bigger problems than Cristiano Ronaldo.

"I just think with the goals that he has got, his performances, warrants staying at the club. But Manchester United have to get players around him, they have to get other strikers in, there has to be competition for places.

"If the leading goalscorer, the man you are depending on, is 37 years of age then that is certainly not good but I would certainly be holding onto Ronaldo.

"There might be a conversation that needs to be had about the way you are going to play or that you are not going to be playing week in and week out. But why would you get rid of a player who scores that many goals? I don't see the logic in it."

However, Keane did accept Ronaldo must be more "mature" when it comes to acknowledging his advancing years means he will not always be a regular starter.

"I think a top manager will come in and have that conversation with him and cut that rubbish out, like at Brentford when he is shaking his head 15 minutes after coming off. That is where Ronaldo has to be more mature and be a better leader," Keane added.

"Of course you are disappointed when you come off but don't keep it up for one or two days, that is where you have to sort that maturity out.

"Even Ronaldo has to look at the bigger picture.

"And when you do have that conversation as a top manager, make it plain to him that won't be tolerated, if he is not buying into that then you do say, 'No, you're not going to be part of my plans'.

"If he is thinking he has to play every minute of every game, that is rubbish at his age anyway."

Ronaldo's team-mate Marcus Rashford is another whose long-term future at Old Trafford is shrouded in doubt.

The England forward has just four Premier League goals to his name this term and has never registered fewer than five in a campaign.

With United all but certain to miss out on Champions League football next season, there are rumours Rashford may be among those to be shipped out of Old Trafford ahead of what is likely to be a major rebuild under Ten Hag.

Having been left out in favour of Anthony Elanga and Juan Mata against Brentford, Keane questioned if Rashford still has the "hunger" to succeed at Old Trafford.

"Whether it's short on confidence, we've seen his quality before but we've not seen it for a year or two," said Keane.

"I think he's taken his eye off the ball, whatever [it is] with his off-the-field stuff. Rashford has been around for a few years now, he's got that experience and played international football.

"But it doesn't look like he's matured enough. We've seen a few games recently, when he was playing at Liverpool through the middle, I said he was playing like a child.

"It's as if he's not learnt about the game. He's drifting. He's lost the hunger. These young players get a lot of money and good luck to them, but I think he's lost the eye of the tiger and he's struggling to get it back.

"Wherever Man United want to go, Marcus is being left behind. He's left out again tonight and he must be sitting on the bench going 'where has it all gone wrong for me?'. He can get it back, he's shown it before, but sometimes when you do lose it, it is hard to get it back.

"He's got to get the hunger back into his game and make the runs like we've seen tonight from Elanga. Rashford has lost that bit of hunger, which is huge for a player. He is a talent but we're not seeing it."

Manchester United reportedly have a clear runway to sign West Ham midfielder and England international Declan Rice in the upcoming transfer window.

Rice, 23, has emerged as one of England's brightest young talents after being released from Chelsea's youth setup back in 2014.

He is expected to command a transfer fee in excess of the £100million Jack Grealish was signed for by Manchester City in a British record – but United may not be engaged in a bidding war.

 

TOP STORY – RED DEVILS LOOM AS RICE'S SOLE ENGLISH SUITOR

ESPN are reporting that United will not be facing competition from fellow Premier League clubs in the pursuit of Rice.

Sources have allegedly claimed the goal is to make Rice into a "modern day version of [Paul] Ince", who helped ignite the rise of legendary boss Alex Ferguson with his arrival from West Ham in 1989.

City are said to be using their resources on Erling Haaland; Chelsea are hampered by their ownership situation and the need to replace Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Romelu Lukaku; and Liverpool would prefer to wait for Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham at a cheaper price.

Despite a lack of bidders to drive up Rice's price, West Ham are reportedly firm on their £100m-plus valuation.

 

ROUND-UP

– Everton would accept a £50m fee for Brazilian striker Richarlison, and are confident of getting such an offer, according to Football Insider.

– According to ESPN, Milan and Juventus are the leaders in the race to sign United's Jesse Lingard.

– Sport are reporting Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves has chosen Barcelona over Premier League clubs United and Arsenal.

– Lazio's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is said to be for sale for a €80m price-tag, with Sky Sport claiming United and Paris Saint-Germain are the leading suitors.

Arsenal have renewed their interest in Inter striker Lautaro Martinez, per The Times. 

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.