Erik ten Hag has warned Manchester United's board the club need to sign an attacker to be competitive this season, though he remains excited to integrate Cristiano Ronaldo into his plans.

United travelled to Thailand and Australia for the first part of their pre-season obligations with reserve left-back Tyrell Malacia the only new signing Ten Hag has been able to work with.

Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez have since agreed switches to Old Trafford, while a move for Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong – who worked with Ten Hag at Ajax – is still in the works, albeit that deal is fraught with difficulties.

But Ten Hag wants attacking reinforcements to bolster a forward line including Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jadon Sancho. 

Superstar striker Ronaldo is too still on the books despite reports suggesting he wants to depart Old Trafford less than 12 months after returning.

A move for Ajax's Antony has been touted, with one of the winger's representatives, Junior Pedroso, said to have been in Manchester for talks, though an asking price of €80million (£68m) is thought to be a sticking point.

When asked if an injury up top could leave United short, Ten Hag told a news conference: "That is a reason but also the number of games. You need more options in the offence.

"I think it’s vital if you want to get success – the season is really long – but we also still have time to fill that in."

Ronaldo did not travel with United for personal reasons unrelated to his future. Asked if there was any update about when he might join up with the squad Ten Hag added: "No – it is the same [situation] as last week."

Questioned on whether there was "concern" over Ronaldo's fitness for the new campaign, Ten Hag said: "Of course, but concerned is maybe not the right word. 

"I focus on the players who are here. They are doing really well, they are in good shape. I prefer to focus on that and develop that. 

"But I cannot wait for [Ronaldo] to come in. Then we will integrate him [into the team]."

United's competitors by contrast have concluded business swiftly, with Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham acting quickly in the market.

Ten Had concedes it is not ideal working without new signings but is confident the squad will adapt.

"It is definitely an advantage we could have but we are not in that situation," he said. 

"Then you have to deal with that situation. You have to develop the team with the players you have. That's what we do.

"Back in Manchester, Eriksen, Martinez, will join in, we have more options. I think they can quite quickly integrate into the team."

Another headache for Ten Hag is how to get the best out of skipper Harry Maguire, who has endured a difficult 12 months and was the subject of boos during United's 4-1 win over Melbourne Victory on Tuesday.

Ten Hag told the England centre-back the only way to win over the doubters is via his performances on the pitch.

"About Maguire we heard [the boos] but you see, if you perform, it slows down," he added. "I think [Maguire] and the team impressed with the way we played.

"I don't think it matters to find out if I understand it [the boos]. It’s about how we can change it. So it's the team and Harry himself by performing. That is what we're working on. That is the only focus."

The revolving door at Stamford Bridge could face a potential slow down with the growing wage disparity between the Premier League and the rest of Europe's top five leagues.

Premier League clubs dominate lists of the highest wage spenders in European football and since Roman Abramovich's takeover, Chelsea have long been a prominent figure in that regard.

In a changing marketplace, however, moving players this season has become a trickier task.



Chelsea are struggling to move Timo Werner and Kepa Arrizabalaga among other players due to wage demands, according to The Telegraph.

The Blues are also finding it tricky to move Michy Batshuayi and Ross Barkley, despite the club's desire to accommodate potential signings.

Werner has seen the Blues search for attackers this off-season and could potentially be joining Romelu Lukaku out the door, while Kepa has notably been Edouard Mendy's understudy.

Finding a suitable club for the two has the potential to be difficult, however, with both being brought in on lucrative wages.



– Barcelona will make a final attempt to sign Sevilla's Jules Kounde amid likelier interest from Chelsea, Sport is reporting.

Manchester City have had a £30million bid for Marc Cucurella rejected by Brighton and Hove Albion, who value him around £50m, according to The Athletic.

Paris Saint-Germain are looking to offload Georginio Wijnaldum and Roma have emerged as a potential destination for the Netherlands midfielder, Corriere dello Sport reports.

– Juventus are considering the termination of Aaron Ramsey's contract in an attempt to cut heavy wage spending, per Fabrizio Romano.

Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah believes he will be able to form a threatening strike partnership with Gabriel Jesus, who arrived from Manchester City in the off-season.

Nketiah finished the Premier League season in solid form last term, scoring five times in the Gunners' final seven games amid speculation over his future at the club.

With his contract expiring at the end of the season, the 23-year-old renewed with the North London club, while Gabriel Jesus joined on a reported £45million transfer from the eventual Premier League champions.

Despite the potential of both fighting for the same spot, Nketiah feels Mikel Arteta could potentially get the best out of them together on the pitch, as witnessed in Wednesday's 3-1 pre-season win over Orlando City.

"I think we can play together, and I think we’ve shown that," he said. "Obviously, he’s a great player and it’s nice to play with him.

"Naturally with the kind of strikers we are, we’ve been able to combine quickly. It’s also good that we have a common celebration. I’m enjoying playing with him and hopefully we can continue to link up.

"Obviously, I like to play in the middle but I can play on the left as well and enjoy that. I’m just happy to be on the pitch in areas where I know I can be a threat and be dangerous. When 'Gabby' came on in the second half it was good to link up with him."

Jesus is the highest-profile signing for Arsenal in what has been a busy transfer window, with Fabio Vieira and Marquinhos also joining, and Oleksandr Zinchenko's signing reportedly imminent.

With the arrivals in mind, the England youth international added Arsenal was ultimately the best place for him to progress his career, despite interest from elsewhere.

"I wanted to wait until the end of the season and of course I had a lot of offers," Nketiah said. "I sat down with my team and with the manager and my family and we felt like Arsenal was the best place.

"When you get down to that stage of your contract you’re obviously going to have options and I sat down with my agent and family to go through them all.

"But Arsenal is a great club for me. I support the club and it’s a great project to be part of. I hope I can contribute to that in the future."

Raphinha has credited former boss Marcelo Bielsa as the man who changed his career, following the winger's recent signing with Barcelona.

After protracted negotiations with Leeds United, the 25-year-old's signing was finally confirmed last Friday, joining on a five-year deal.

The transfer punctuates what has been a sudden rise to prominence for Raphinha, who spent only one season at Sporting CP and Rennes respectively before heading to Leeds in 2020.

From there under Marcelo Bielsa, the winger believes he played his best football to this date and helped him achieve a "bigger" footballing dream than once imagined.

"He was very important for me," Raphinha told Barca TV. "He got me out of France, gave me confidence, and then I managed to get to the Brazil team, with the way he made me play, he got the most out of me.

"My real dream was to play professionally in Brazil, to show my work for the Brazilian fans. I didn't get it but I had another opportunity, to stay in Europe. It was closer to my dreams, arriving here, playing in the Champions League, playing with Brazil. Today I am realising a bigger dream."

The Porto Alegre native was one of few shining lights for Leeds as they managed to stave off relegation from the Premier League last season, with Bielsa also replaced by Jesse Marsch in February.

Contributing to 29 goals in 65 Premier League appearances, and scoring in his debut on Tuesday against Inter Miami, Raphinha added he hopes to emulate compatriots who have worn the Barcelona shirt on the way to World Cup success with the Selecao.

"When the team goes well, the individual shows up, I really want to win the league, the Champions League, everything," he said.

"Individually, I have the dream of winning the World Cup with Brazil and I will stay at Barca for many years. It was a dream to follow in the footsteps of Ronaldinho and Neymar, Dani Alves too, Romario, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, they are the Brazilian idols.

"Following in their footsteps is a huge honour for me, there are no words to explain the feelings. I always talk about Ronaldinho, because since I remember that I began to understand football, it was when Ronaldinho arrived at Barça, I always saw him play, do spectacular things."

Sadio Mane has been named African Footballer of the Year for 2022, seeing off competition from former Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah and Chelsea's Edouard Mendy at Thursday's CAF awards.

The Bayern Munich new boy, who was also crowned the continent's top player in 2019, helped Senegal win their first Africa Cup of Nations title in February, scoring the winning penalty to down Salah's Egypt in the final.

The forward scored three goals throughout the competition in Cameroon, after which he was crowned Player of the Tournament.

One month later, Mane was influential in another shoot-out win over the Pharaohs, as Senegal sealed qualification for the World Cup in Qatar later this year. 

On the domestic front, meanwhile, Mane scored 23 goals in all competitions as Liverpool won the EFL and FA Cups during his final season at Anfield.

Mane made 51 appearances across a mammoth 2021-22 campaign with the Reds, a tally only bettered by Jordan Henderson (57), Diogo Jota (55) and Allison (54).

Oliver Kahn, chief executive of Mane's new employers Bayern, was the first to offer his congratulations to the 30-year-old, writing on Twitter: "We are very happy about Sadio Mane's award. 

"FC Bayern has never had an African Footballer of the Year in its ranks in its long history, which is a special honour for our club.

"We are very proud that he is now on the ball for our club and have many big goals with him."

While Chelsea shot-stopper Mendy missed out on being crowned the continent's best player, he could draw some consolation from Senegal's clean sweep of awards.

The Lions of Teranga were named CAF's team of the year, while boss Aliou Cisse won Coach of the Year and midfielder Pape Matar Sarr scooped the Young Player of the Year gong.


Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp called it "a perfect night" for marquee recruit Darwin Nunez as he came off the bench at half-time and scored four goals in his side's 5-0 friendly win against RB Leipzig on Thursday.

It was 1-0 at the break after Mohamed Salah netted the opener eight minutes into the friendly, with Liverpool making four substitutions before heading back out for the second 45 minutes, including Darwin replacing Roberto Firmino up front.

The former Benfica striker did not have to wait long to get on the scoresheet, stepping up to the penalty spot and converting to make it 2-0 in the 48th minute.

Just three minutes later Darwin was the beneficiary after a turnover deep in the Leipzig defence, getting slipped through on goal by Trent Alexander-Arnold before finishing hard and low across the goalkeeper into the bottom-left corner.

He completed his hat-trick with a lunging tap-in from the edge of the six-yard box, getting on the end of a low cross from Harvey Elliott, before completing his rout with a fourth in stoppage time.

Speaking to the media after the win, Klopp said he was excited to see his side clicking in the second half with their near-£100million man, and that it is the best way to quell any chatter about his hefty purchase price.

"When we struggled a little bit, it was always after three minutes' break we played football again, then a deep breather and play football again," he said. "I wanted us to be a bit more hard with ourselves, go over that point – it's pre-season. 

"I think we did that in the second half, obviously. 'Hendo' came on, and [James Milner] – they both were lively. 

"Hendo all of a sudden as an eight, went in behind and we created chances. Then Mo gives Darwin the penalty and Darwin – Pandora's box was open. That'a of course a perfect night for him.

"We always think that if you pay a lot of money then the players feel no pressure or whatever – they are all completely normal human beings.

"If the first touch is not perfect then all of a sudden… this generation of players read social media, which is really not smart, but they do. All of a sudden you get in a rush and these kinds of things. 

"That's the best way obviously to stop all these discussions. He's a different striker to what we have or what we had, but he's a really good one."

Liverpool's next friendly will take place away against Salzburg next Wednesday.

Darwin Nunez opened his Liverpool account in some style after scoring four times in the second half in a 5-0 thrashing of RB Leipzig on Thursday.

Nunez left Benfica for Liverpool in a deal potentially worth up to £85million (€100.5m) last month, but struggled to leave his mark in the opening 4-0 pre-season defeat to Manchester United in Bangkok.

The Uruguay international again failed to find the net in the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace, leading Jurgen Klopp to downplay murmurs of impatience and scrutiny by backing Nunez just two games after his arrival.

And the striker soon showed his qualities at the Red Bull Arena, converting from the penalty spot three minutes after being introduced at half-time, before latching onto a Trent Alexander-Arnold pass to finish coolly for his second.

Nunez completed his treble in the 68th minute, displaying an attacking nous that will have satisfied Klopp after ghosting into space to turn home Harvey Elliot's low cross.

But the 23-year-old was not finished there, adding his fourth in the closing stages by curling home after Fabio Carvalho's offload.

Attacking partner Mohamed Salah provided the other strike in what proved to be a routine friendly victory for Liverpool, who next face Salzburg on Wednesday.

Jesse Lingard has joined Nottingham Forest on a free transfer after his Manchester United contract expired.

United academy product Lingard struggled to make his mark at Old Trafford last season, starting just twice in the Premier League across the 2021-22 campaign.

The England international was offered chances in cup outings, making 22 appearances across all competitions and scoring twice, but the decision was taken not to renew his contract.

Lingard was repeatedly linked with a move back to West Ham, where he enjoyed a fruitful loan spell in the second half of the 2020-21 season, finding the net nine times in 16 top-flight appearances.

Newcastle United were also said to be interested in the midfielder, alongside a host of clubs in Europe.

But the 29-year-old opted to join newly promoted Forest on Thursday, signing what has been widely reported as a one-year deal.

Lingard will join Forest on their pre-season tour in Germany, where they next face Union Berlin, after becoming the 11th signing of the transfer window for Steve Cooper's side.

Forest added Huddersfield duo Lewis O'Brien and Harry Toffolo to their ranks the day prior to Lingard's arrival, with United loanee Dean Henderson, Neco Williams and Taiwo Awoniyi among the other additions.

Raphael Varane insists he does not regret joining Manchester United despite enduring a poor first season at Old Trafford, as he rejected criticism of Cristiano Ronaldo's performances last term.

Varane joined United in August 2021 following a trophy-laden spell at Real Madrid.

However, he was unable to stop the Red Devils posting the worst defensive record in their Premier League history en route to a sixth-placed finish, as they conceded 57 goals in 38 games.

The 2018 World Cup winner started Erik ten Hag's first pre-season game in charge of United, a 4-0 thrashing of Liverpool, which they have subsequently followed up with two more friendly victories.

In an interview with the BBC, Varane stood by his decision to join United as he hailed the high-octane style introduced by Ten Hag on their pre-season tour of Asia and Australia.

"In football, you have to challenge yourself and try to improve," he said. "I wanted to live another experience after 10 years in the same place.

"The Premier League is absolutely fantastic and Manchester United are a great club. There was no doubt about my decision.

"It's a new season, a new start. Confidence is important and we lost confidence when we lost some games. But I think we have great potential.

"The new manager is very positive. He wants this energy and to press high up the pitch, with more space behind our backs. That is maybe more offensive but it is football we really enjoy, so that is a good start."

Varane made 22 Premier League appearances in his first campaign at Old Trafford, fewer than fellow central defenders Harry Maguire (30) and Victor Lindelof (28), and will face greater competition next term after United struck a deal to sign Ajax's Lisandro Martinez.

But the France star says he is not fazed by that prospect, as he hailed Maguire's ability after the United captain was jeered during a pre-season win over Crystal Palace.

"Competition is good for the team," Varane added. "Harry is a very important player for us. He's the captain and obviously he has a lot of good qualities."

While results appear to be looking up for United, uncertainty over the future of superstar forward Ronaldo continues to cast a shadow over the new era at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo has reportedly asked to leave for a Champions League club, having been criticised for a perceived lack of work rate despite top-scoring for United with 24 goals on all fronts last season.

Though Varane did not comment on the 37-year-old's future, he hit out at such assessments of Ronaldo's performances.

"That debate was outside of the dressing room," the defender said. "We know his quality. And we know he's very famous. So we know a lot of people will speak about the performance of the team and his performance. Cristiano is a great competitor. He's a legend and he always helps the team, so obviously it's very good to play with him."

Tiemoue Bakayoko says Milan Police endangered his life after being stopped by officers and held at gunpoint following what was a case of mistaken identity.

The Milan midfielder was subject to a gunpoint search on July 3, with the Serie A side confirming the Frenchman was the person captured in a video of the incident.

Milan Police released a statement on Monday confirming they had stopped the wrong person and Bakayoko had chosen to not take action after a "misunderstanding", where "colleagues behaved correctly".

Chelsea loanee Bakayoko subsequently took to social media on Thursday to detail his experiences as he questioned Milan Police's methods.

"Making an error is human," Bakayoko said. "I don't have a problem admitting that. However, the methods they used pose a problem.

"It needs to be made known that in the video you don't see everything, perhaps just the most calm part.

"I found myself with a gun a metre away from me, and [so did] the passenger. They really put our lives in danger.

"The consequences could have been more serious if I had not remained calm and if I had not been recognised in time."

Bakayoko is halfway through his two-season loan spell at Milan, who ended an 11-year wait for the Scudetto last campaign.

Raheem Sterling hailed the "winning mentality" of Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea side as he targeted silverware after swapping Manchester City for the Blues.

Having won four Premier League titles in a successful seven-year spell with City, Sterling completed a £45million move to Chelsea earlier this month.

Chelsea's top league goalscorer last season was Sterling's England team-mate Mason Mount with 11, and the signing of the 27-year-old Sterling should give the Blues more cutting edge. Sterling's haul of 91 Premier League goals is a total that has been bettered only among City players by Sergio Aguero (184).

Chelsea have not won a Premier League title since Antonio Conte's men triumphed in the 2016-17 season, but they have collected several pieces of silverware in the intervening years.

The Stamford Bridge outfit have won the Champions League, Europa League, FIFA Club World Cup and both domestic cups since that success, and Sterling's desire to lift major trophies was a key factor in his decision to make the move.

"In the last two years, it's four or five finals that you guys have been in, you won the Champions League and are now looking to challenge for the Premier League," Sterling told Chelsea's website.

"It's something that intrigued me when I was having a conversation with the club.

"Seeing the direction that you guys are going in, it's something I really bought into and I just felt it is a place where I can really come into my own. I just think it's the perfect platform for me.

"The club's already got that winning mentality, but to keep doing it every single year and keep winning more and more trophies and building on the previous season, I think that's what top managers like Thomas do.

"It's not one year win and next year rest, it's again and again and again, and that's what excites me to be here."


Having been allowed to leave City to make room for marquee arrival Erling Haaland, Sterling explained how Tuchel's faith in him was also a crucial consideration.

"You can see how genuine he was and how much he wanted me here, and that was the nail on it for me," Sterling said. "I was certain that this is a place I want to be.

"I feel at home already, and I'm just going to keep putting the work in and can't wait to gel even more with [my team-mates].

"I know how much more I have to offer. I still feel within myself that there's another step that I've been fighting to get to, and I think this is the perfect platform for me to do that."

Sterling could make his Premier League debut for Chelsea when they travel to Everton on August 6.

Manchester United face a "long road" before they can mount a Premier League title challenge but signing Frenkie de Jong would make a "huge difference", according to Jamie Carragher.

United have won all three of their pre-season contests under Erik ten Hag, including a 4-0 thrashing of Liverpool in their first outing under the Dutchman.

The Red Devils broke a number of unwanted records during their dire 2021-22 Premier League season, posting their lowest points tally (58) and worst defensive record (57 goals conceded) in the competition's history.

Despite United impressing during their tour of Asia and Australia, Ten Hag warned on Tuesday there was a "lot of work" remaining and Carragher echoed similar sentiments.

Asked by Sky Sports whether he feared United could rival his beloved Liverpool, Carragher said: "I wouldn't say [I'm] nervous. 

"I think there's a long road for United that they're on at the moment in terms of challenging for the title.

"I think the first thing when it comes to Ten Hag and the players they're bringing in will be, 'we need to get this club back in the Champions League, where it belongs'. That's where Manchester United should be.

"They're one of the biggest clubs in the world, never mind this country, so to not be in the Champions League just doesn't feel right, not when United are in the Europa League.

"So I think that's the first thing and I think once United do that, then it'll be looking at the title in the next couple of years.

"But it won't be easy to get back in the top four this season – not just for United but for any team who are normally in the top four.

"You'd expect [Manchester] City and Liverpool to do it because they're always going for the title, but you look at how strong Chelsea will be and the signings they're bringing in, Tottenham's work as well, Arsenal also.

"So I think competitively now in terms of getting in the top four, it's really tough, and it's proven that way for a lot of Manchester United managers with great CVs in the past.

"But there's no doubt this manager has a really good CV and they made a really good start in pre-season."

Having already added Tyrell Malacia and Christian Eriksen to their squad, as well as agreeing a deal for versatile Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez, United have been strongly linked with a move for talented Barcelona midfielder De Jong.

The future of the Netherlands international remains uncertain after he was included in Barcelona's squad for a tour of the United States, and Blaugrana president Joan Laporta has repeatedly claimed the Catalan giants do not need to sell the 25-year-old.

Carragher believes De Jong would have a huge impact should he make the switch to Old Trafford.

"It'll be interesting if they get De Jong," he added. "I do think he's a top-class player and I think he would make a huge difference for them."

United's next pre-season outing sees them face Aston Villa in Perth on Saturday, before fixtures against Spanish duo Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano next week.

Sevilla left defender Jules Kounde out of their pre-season squad for a trip to Portugal, as he looks to be on his way to Chelsea.

Kounde has been linked with a move for much of the transfer window, and it appears he is now close to changing clubs.

Chelsea have reportedly upped their bid to £55million, and Sevilla's decision to leave him out of plans for their camp in Portugal suggests he may indeed be heading to Stamford Bridge.

However, Barcelona are also reportedly keen on the Frenchman and could make a late attempt to pip the English side to his services.

Kounde signed for Sevilla from Bordeaux in 2019 and has impressed with the Spanish side, helping them to win the Europa League in the 2019-20 campaign.

He would add steel to his new side's backline, after he ranked first in duels won (169) and second in blocks (17) among Sevilla players in LaLiga last season, as well as second in headed clearances (56).

Patrick Bamford says Kalvin Phillips' former team-mates were "almost pushing" for the midfielder to leave Leeds United and fight for trophies.

Leeds academy product Phillips left Elland Road this month to joined Premier League champions Manchester City for a reported £45million, signing a six-year deal.

The 26-year-old caught the eye in his first top-flight season under Marcelo Bielsa in the 2020-21 campaign before making a name for himself at Euro 2020 for England alongside Declan Rice.

Phillips recovered possession a team-high 45 times, while only three England players completed more than his 293 successful passes as the Three Lions reached their first major final in 55 years.

He was limited to 20 league appearances in the 2021-22 season, but still ranked third for recoveries (180), sixth for tackles (54) and seventh for successful passes (777) among Leeds outfield players.

While Bamford was disappointed to see his team-mate depart for the Etihad Stadium, he acknowledged Phillips deserved the opportunity to play in the Champions League and compete for titles.

"It said it all when Kalvin went straight from getting promoted to being in the England team and becoming a mainstay there," Bamford told reporters.

"He deserves this chance to fight for trophies on all fronts.

"None of us can begrudge him for going. As sad as it is, we were almost pushing him because he deserves it and it's his time."

Leeds also lost Raphinha to Barcelona as another key star departed from Jesse Marsch's side, who narrowly avoided Premier League relegation on the final day of the last campaign.

Marsch's team have been busy in the transfer window, though, bringing in Marc Roca, Brenden Aaronson, Luis Sinisterra, Tyler Adams and Rasmus Kristensen to bolster their squad.

With the new arrivals, Bamford assures Leeds will still play an entertaining brand of free-flowing football that supporters became accustomed to under Bielsa.

"We've retained our Premier League status and the squad's changed a lot," the 28-year-old added.

"We've had time to work on what Jesse wants and understand his tactics and work on them. I think this year will still be an entertaining Leeds United – but slightly different."

Pep Guardiola has confirmed Manchester City are in talks with Brighton and Hove Albion over a move for Marc Cucurella.   Left-back Cucurella has emerged as a target for the Premier League champions, with Oleksandr Zinchenko on his way to Arsenal.   Brighton have reportedly rejected an offer of £30million from City for the Spanish left-back, as the Seagulls are holding out for a fee of £50m.   City boss Guardiola suggested he may miss out on his compatriot due to the asking price, but says he is not short of options in that position.   He said: "We are in negotiations. If it doesn't happen, we've alternatives… Cancelo, [Josh] Wilson-Esbrand is a young talent, [Nathan] Ake can play there.”   Big-money signing Erling Haaland played no part in City's 2-1 friendly win over Club America last time out, but Guardiola says the striker is fit to face Bayern Munich on Saturday.   "Next game he will be ready," Guardiola said of the Norway international. "He had niggles and a few problems.   "We'll see. He's trained just two sessions and we didn't want to take risks. The season is so long. He had problems last season and tried to handle it. We want to take care of him and want him fit."

Kevin De Bruyne scored both goals in City's first match of their pre-season tour of the United States.

Guardiola handed debuts to Julian Alvarez, Stefan Ortega and Kalvin Phillips at Houston's NRG Stadium, with Haaland an unused substitute.


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