Smalling has no regrets leaving Manchester United for Roma loan

‘It was a challenge I wanted to take’: Chris Smalling reveals he has no regrets about leaving his Manchester United ‘comfort zone’ for Roma loan

  • Chris Smalling revealed he has no regrets leaving Manchester United on loan
  • The defender has recaptured his best form this season with Serie A side Roma 
  • Smalling also revealed he is being kept in the loop with Serie A’s potential return 

Chris Smalling has revealed that he has no regrets leaving Manchester United on loan this season for Serie A side Roma.

The England international fell down the pecking order at Old Trafford after the club signed Harry Maguire in the summer for £80million. 

Smalling explained that he didn’t want to sit on the bench at United and wanted to leave his ‘comfort zone’ in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team as he asked for a loan move.  

Chris Smalling revealed he has no regrets leaving Manchester United for Roma on loan

‘Some English players have gone abroad but not many,’ he told The Times. 

‘It was a challenge that I wanted to take. I’m someone who definitely lives by not having any regrets. I like new things maybe out of my comfort zone and show people that anything is possible.’

Smalling has revived his career since joining Roma with a dominant season in Italy. He has been an integral part of the Serie A side’s defence as they sit fifth in the table.  

Smalling has revived his career in Serie A with impressive performances in Italy

No return date has been set yet for the return of Serie A, after all major leagues suspended their matches due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the uncertainty, Smalling said he and his team-mates are being kept well in the loop with developments. 

‘I can understand everyone’s position if they’ve not got that full clarity,’ he added.

‘Everybody wants to be as informed as possible. Fortunately, here at Roma, I feel like they have that clarity. They’ve kept us in the loop.

The defender said he is being kept well up to date as Serie A plans return from coronavirus

‘We had regular meetings with the CEO [Guido Fienga], talking about different measures, and keeping us up to date.

‘That’s been very useful to know their discussions with the league and the doctors and they are relaying that straight back to us. That’s why I feel like a lot of players here are comfortable about coming back, knowing the different measures.

‘It’s all been listed, but if some players at some clubs who don’t have that all in place yet then I can understand them being a bit fearful until that’s put in place. I’d want the same as well.’




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Pochettino has had an 'offer' to move to Newcastle, says Ardiles

‘Newcastle is a firm possibility to work again’: Mauricio Pochettino HAS had an ‘offer’ to move to St James’ Park, according to close friend Ossie Ardiles

  • Mauricio Pochettino wants to return to management after six months out of work
  • The former Spurs boss has been strongly linked with a move to Newcastle
  • The Magpies are on the verge of a significant £300m Saudi-led takeover 
  • Ossie Ardiles has confirmed that an offer has been made for Poch by Newcastle

Newcastle have made an offer to Mauricio Pochettino for him to become the next manager at St James’ Park, according to the Argentine’s good friend Ossie Ardiles. 

Former Spurs manager Pochettino has completed his gardening leave this week, following his sacking in November after a six-year stay in north London. 

And ex-Tottenham midfielder Ardiles believes a contract offer from some ‘first-rate people’ at Newcastle has been made to Pochettino, who admitted in an interview with Sportsmail that he’s keen on staying in England. 

Mauricio Pochettino is keen to return to management and Newcastle are firmly interested

Former Spurs midfielder and close friend Ossie Ardiles says an offer has been made 

‘Mauricio is fine in England,’ Ardiles said, as reported by The Mirror. 

‘He is linked with Newcastle United and when he spoke directly to that club there were many first-rate people involved who made him a good offer. 

‘Mauricio had a (contractual) relationship with Tottenham, but last Tuesday his situation was unlocked and he is free to coach. In this way, he will hear offers again, but Newcastle is a firm possibility to work again.’ 

Ex-Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is reportedly edging closer to Newcastle hotseat

The lure of a ‘project’ at Newcastle could be crucial for Pochettino, with a Saudi-led consortium led by Amanda Staveley on the verge of completing a £300m takeover of the club.

Ardiles, a Tottenham ambassador, admitted that Pochettino enjoys living and working in England. 

‘He really likes managing in England,’ the 67-year-old added. ‘There are a few very large teams that can appoint him – and one of them is going to be chosen.’   

The Saudi-led consortium, led by Amanda Staveley, are on the verge of a £300m takeover

Though current manager Steve Bruce looks set to finish the current campaign, with the team currently lying in a respectable 13th place, the potential new ownership group – led by Amanda Staveley – may want to make a high-profile appointment as a serious statement of intent at Newcastle. 

Pochettino spoke yesterday about how a job in the Premier League is ‘one of the options’ for his next destination. 

‘We love England,’ Pochettino admitted. ‘We have our house and our home here. The people are respectful. The Premier League is the best league in the world. It is one of the options. I’m very open to wait for the seduction of the project.’



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How has Solskjaer dealt with player issues at Man United?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he’d ‘rather have a hole in the squad than an a**hole’ and has no time for ‘personal agendas’… so how has the Man United boss dealt with Lukaku, Sanchez, Pogba and other players who have caused issues?

  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed his ruthless streak in a recent interview 
  • Man United manager said he wouldn’t tolerate ‘bad apples’ among his players
  • Norwegian wasted little time in showing Romelu Lukaku the door last year
  • Solskjaer continues to maintain that Alexis Sanchez will be a success at United
  • He has a big dilemma ahead in deciding whether Paul Pogba is worth the bother
  • Leaving Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira out the squad sent a strong message 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is regarded as one of the most mild-mannered men in football but the Manchester United manager has left his players in no doubt where they stand.

As he continues the slow and steady process of rebuilding United back up into a title-challenging force, Solskjaer made clear ‘personal agendas’ within his squad won’t be tolerated.

In an interview with the fanzine United We Stand, the Norwegian said: ‘I’d rather have a hole in the squad than an a**hole. Personality is so important. We’re a team in a team environment.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer showed a ruthless streak when he spoke about ‘bad apples’ in the squad

‘You want players to have a bit of ego and edge but they have to be able to adapt.

‘There were things I didn’t like last year, some personal agendas which couldn’t be sorted out until the summer.

‘There will always be players who want to play more in football, but if a team is to be successful then players have to be available at different times.

‘I feel in this group we don’t have one bad apple.’

Solskjaer’s United side had started to play well before the Covid-19 shutdown but the Norwegian has made it clear he won’t tolerate ‘personal agendas’ in his squad

But Solskjaer has already had to deal with a few ‘bad apples’ during his time as United boss, feeling it essential to stamp his authority and not allow egos to take over the dressing room.

And, to borrow the manager’s own words, it has sometimes come at the cost of leaving ‘a hole in the squad’.

We take a look at Solskjaer’s various run-ins with his players since becoming United’s manager back in December 2018 and who came out on top.

Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku had been one of the headline signings of Jose Mourinho’s time in charge at Old Trafford, setting them back £75million when joining from Everton in 2017.

His first season was prolific, with 27 goals in 51 appearances to help United finish runners-up to Manchester City in the Premier League.

And Lukaku started the 2018-19 campaign well too but Mourinho’s sacking in December changed everything. Solskjaer left Lukaku out of his first two matchday squads and demoted him to the bench.

It was quickly clear that Solskjaer had no place for striker Romelu Lukaku in his plans

It was abundantly clear from the outset that Solskjaer wanted United’s forward line to play a different way – direct and with speed rather than looking for Lukaku as a target man.

Though Lukaku played a major part in United’s astonishing comeback win over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, he was by no means a guaranteed starter anymore.

Assured by their other attacking options, United decided to cash in, with Inter Milan paying them around £60m to sign Lukaku last summer.

Solskjaer was blunt about the reasons for letting Lukaku leave: ‘When you have players, [they may have] great potential, but Romelu’s head was not here for us working forward as a group.

‘I have got lots of respect for Romelu but his time was up here.’

Lukaku was sold to Inter Milan last summer but his departure left United short in attack

Letting Lukaku go was seen as an indication of Solskjaer’s ruthless streak and the direction he wanted to take United in.

As Lukaku acknowledged after his move: ‘It was just done. For me, it was done. I had to make a decision where I have to go somewhere where I can learn other aspects of my game and work with somebody that wanted me as well.’

But for most of this season, it appeared Solskjaer’s decision had backfired. While Lukaku was banging in the goals for Inter in Serie A and the Champions League, United failed to replace him and were desperately short in attack.

Solskjaer came in for much criticism when Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial both suffered injury problems at the start of the season, leaving the likes of Daniel James, Jesse Lingard and teenager Mason Greenwood to fill a gaping void.

‘I can say [I am a striker short], but that was the decision that I made and I made it happily,’ Solskjaer said at the time, reflecting just how much he didn’t want Lukaku in his squad.

The Belgian had some good moments under Solskjaer but didn’t fit into his style of play

ALEXIS SANCHEZ

Alexis Sanchez came to symbolise the colossal amount of wasted expenditure United have been guilty of over the past few years.

Though they didn’t pay Arsenal a transfer fee for the Chilean, his extortionate wages of £400,000-a-week for virtually nothing in return were viewed as Exhibit A of how a once great club had declined.

Having been maligned and sidelined under Mourinho, Solskjaer’s arrival was meant to be a fresh leaf for Sanchez but his performances in an injury-affected second half of the season were poor.

By last summer, Sanchez had repaid his immense salary by scoring just five goals and supplying nine assists in 45 United matches, so few eyebrows were raised when Solskjaer loaned him to Inter.

Solskjaer sanctioned Alexis Sanchez’s loan move to Inter Milan last summer but maintains that the Chilean will return and become a success at United

Indeed, United were so desperate to get shut of this expensive mistake – for a year at least – they agreed to foot three-quarters of his weekly wages while at Inter.

‘I think Alexis needed to go. Because at the moment we know he has been here now for 18 months and it’s not really worked out for him,’ Solskjaer explained in August.

‘For him as well to restart and get himself playing regularly, getting himself scoring goals, that loan will benefit everyone in the end.’

Sanchez has since scored just one goal in 15 outings for Inter where, inevitably, he has spent much of the season out injured.

Sanchez has become a symbol of poor decision-making by the Old Trafford hierarchy 

Yet despite this, Solskjaer maintained back in January that Sanchez ‘will come back in the summer and prove you all wrong.’

It was an unexpected remark that caused dismay among United supporters and as Solskjaer continues to rebuild, it really is incredibly difficult to see where Sanchez fits into his plans.

Solskjaer’s remarks probably best illustrate the fact Sanchez is contracted at United until 2022 and it’s going to be a herculean task to find anyone willing to buy him and pay his wages this summer.

This is one issue Solskjaer is going to have to find a solution to when the end of the season finally arrives.

Lukaku and Sanchez have been team-mates at Inter Milan this season, with varying success

PAUL POGBA

The biggest and toughest decision Solskjaer has on his horizon is what to do about Paul Pogba.

Here is a player who has often underwhelmed since his world record £89m return to United in 2016 and who openly clashed with Mourinho.

The Frenchman has continued to agitate for a move away to Real Madrid and his agent, Mino Raiola, started a war of words with Solskjaer earlier this year.

In what is the penultimate year of his United contract, Pogba has barely featured because of ankle injuries and his rehabilitation to full fitness has only just been completed.

How to reintegrate Paul Pogba into United’s team is a big headache awaiting Solskjaer 

And yet United had been doing fairly well in his absence, with a settled midfield of Fred and Scott McTominay improved in January by the purchase of Bruno Fernandes.

Prior to football’s shutdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic, United had gone 11 matches unbeaten in all competitions and a bright finale to the season looked likely.

Pogba’s return to fitness presents Solskjaer with a headache. Trying to shoehorn him into a winning side will inevitably upset the balance and force someone to make way. Leaving him out risks causing disruption.

Solskjaer has chosen his words carefully when it comes to Pogba, even though the player has surely taken the mickey out of his manager at times during his injury lay-off.

When he posted an Instagram video of himself playing basketball with Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler back in November, Solskjaer didn’t criticise.


Pogba played basketball with Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler despite his injured ankle

Solskjaer refrained from criticising Pogba but now has to decide whether he stays at United

‘We don’t play basketball. I don’t see many basketball players tackling ankles, twisting and turning with studs. He’s not ready to train,’ the manager said.

The following month, Solskjaer claimed Pogba was suffering from an ‘illness’ and unable to play against Everton. But video then emerged of Pogba dancing at his brother Florentin’s wedding.

And another row erupted in February when Pogba was linked again with Real and Solskjaer said: ‘Paul is our player and not Mino’s.’

Later that day, Raiola took to Twitter to say: ‘Paul is not mine and for sure not Solskjaer’s property. Paul is Paul Pogba’s…. I HOPE Solskjaer DO (sic) NOT WANT TO SUGGEST THAT PAUL IS HIS PRISONER.’

Solskjaer has maintained all along that Pogba is desperate to get back playing football again but it remains to be seen whether there’s still a place for him in United’s plans. Solskjaer may think he isn’t worth the bother.

Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola openly criticised Solskjaer in a war of words earlier this year

In an astonishing rant, Raiola posted three photos on social media expressing his view

Raiola insists he has the right to express his view and says Solskjaer should ‘inform himself’

The super agent also pointed out that the Red Devils boss has other things to worry about

ANTHONY MARTIAL

Anthony Martial has chipped in with 16 goals in 34 appearances for United this season but the French forward can sometimes be infuriatingly inconsistent.

This is less of a run-in more a gentle cajoling on Solskjaer’s part to try and get even more out of Martial after moving him from the wide forward role to centre forward this season.

Former striker Solskjaer went onto MUTV and made clear exactly what he expects from Martial.

‘If you’re a wide forward, you’re facing forwards more and running at people. Now he’s in a different position, where it is more physical and you’ve got to be stronger with your back to goal and be more patient.

Solskjaer continued to cajole Anthony Martial to try and get the best out of the forward

‘It’s your job to be in the box when the ball arrives. I’m still at him. I demand more of him.

‘Sometimes, the ball is squared across the six-yard line and it’s where he should be. I just nudge him and say: ‘It should have been a goal for you.’

‘Scoring 25 instead of 15 is a big difference for a No 9.’

To be fair to Martial, given the hot form he was in before football’s suspension, 25 is a reasonable target should the season be able to resume.

The United manager expects the Frenchman to be scoring 25 a season playing centre forward

JESSE LINGARD

Quite a few have questioned whether Jesse Lingard deserves to play so often for United and his game time has certainly reduced since Fernandes arrived.

And Solskjaer certainly didn’t hold back when Lingard made one mistake too many in the second leg of United’s Carabao Cup semi-final with Manchester City.

The Sky cameras caught Solskjaer shouting ‘Jesse, one more time and you’re f****** off’ after he misplaced a pass which led to a City chance on the counter.

Solskjaer was caught on camera blasting Jesse Lingard against Manchester City in January 

Solskjaer warned the 27-year-old that he would be taken off if he made the same mistake again

Indeed, Solskjaer did take Lingard off a few minutes later as United were unable to overturn a first leg deficit.

In February, both Lingard and Andreas Pereira, regulars in the first half of the season, were left out of Solskjaer’s squad for the 3-0 home win over Watford.

Asked why, Solskjaer offered an answer that wasn’t exactly music to their ears: ‘We’ve picked a squad of 18 that we felt it was the right 18 here.

‘There’s more and more competition for places. Your standard has to improve.’

it was certainly made clear to Lingard and Pereira their places could no longer be taken for granted. 

Solskjaer put an arm around Lingard and attempted to console him when he was taken off 




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Lionel Messi has coronavirus test at Barcelona training ahead of La Liga return

La Liga’s stars including Barcelona’s Lionel Messi reported to their training grounds on Wednesday morning to be tested for coronavirus as the Spanish league looks to ramp up plans to restart the season.

The government in Spain has eased some lockdown restrictions this week, with La Liga organisers now targeting a June restart date to finish the season.

Players from the top two divisions in the country will train individually initially after coming to an agreement with Spain’s sports and health authorities that guaranteed the safety of players and staff.

That involves regular testing, starting on Wednesday, with Barcelona’s players arriving in staggered time slots at the club’s Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper training facility.

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The first four players to arrive were Sergi Roberto, Ivan Rakitic, Clement Lenglet and Marc-Andre ter Stegen to undergo a PCR test.

They stayed for only around 20 minutes, with their weight and BMI measured, as well as a cardiogram test, in addition to being swabbed for Covid-19.

No sooner had they left than the next batch of players arrived, including six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi, with very few players wearing masks in their cars – though Arturo Vidal did opt for a dust mask.

One notable absentee was Ousmane Dembele, who was not registered to play in the second half of the season after picking up a serious hamstring injury, and he will not train with the squad or be tested right now.

Real Madrid’s squad also reported to their Valdebebas training ground on Wednesday to undergo testing, with Eden Hazard present despite picking up an injury before the season was suspended.

La Liga predict around 2,000 tests will be carried out across the 42 professional clubs who are returning to action and estimate that around 30 asymptomatic positive results will be returned, slightly less than 2%.

Those players will remain anonymous if they so wish and be put into isolation, with the rest of the squad allowed to train individually, then in small groups, before full contact training returns later this month.

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Pichot has Fortnite plan to make next generation of players and fans

‘We fall in love with sports between eight and 15, that is like your first love’: World Rugby chairman candidate Agustin Pichot reveals FORTNITE plan to create the next generation of fans

  •  Pichot is keen to further globalise the game and has a firm eye on future fans
  • He believes gaining visibility in games like Fortnite can help boost the game
  • Former Argentina captain will seek to unseat Sir Bill Beaumont next month

Agustin Pichot has vowed to jolt World Rugby out of ‘copy and paste mode’ if he manages to unseat chairman Sir Bill Beaumont next month, with online video game Fortnite an unlikely pillar of his plan.

Voting has already begun to determine whether Pichot, the former Argentina captain and a voice for radical change, or England stalwart Beaumont receive a mandate to lead the game for the next four years on May 12.

Pichot, the current vice-chairman, is keen to further globalise the game and has a firm eye on future fans. He has previously talked of getting behind a new computer game to grab the interest of younger generations and, far from being a flippant aside, he is open to even more creative avenues.

Agustin Pichot is keen to further globalise the game and grab interest of younger generations

Pichot believes gaining visibility in games like Fortnite can help boost the appeal of rugby

Fortnite, an interactive battle simulation, is a highly popular past-time among Pichot’s desired demographic and getting visibility on the platform appeals to his principles – even if there is more shooting than scrumming.

‘For the last 20 or 30 years we’ve been in copy and paste mode, doing the same things, and we have always been on the back foot,’ he told TalkSport 2.

‘I want to change the mindset, everyone knows I used to play that way. The most important thing in a human being is his state of mind, to just challenge, to get out of my comfort zone.

‘A computer game now is going to be (too) old probably, if you think how kids are interacting. Maybe it’s a part of Fortnite; maybe you have a warrior that is dressed with the RFU rose and he combats an All Black. Or it is a genuine computer game as well, a company who want to do the same as they did with NFL Madden or with FIFA.

Pichot or Sir Bill Beaumont will receive a mandate to lead the game for the next four years

‘(We) fall in love with sports between eight and 15, that is like your first love. Even before you like a girl or a boy you are just in love with your sport. We are missing a chance to get into young adults and kids all over the world.’

On his wider hopes for the game, Pichot suggested the current pause in action due to coronavirus should be harnessed to affect change.

‘This is an amazing time and a very delicate time,’ he said. ‘Societies will be hit by this virus, we’re all going to be hit socially, economically and psychologically but I strongly believe rugby needs to be on the front foot after this happens.

‘We need to reset the bigger picture. This virus will not allow us to carry on in the same way. It is a moment to integrate everyone and see how they can work together.’

The former Argentina captain will seek to unseat chairman Sir Bill Beaumont next month

 

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Rising British star Jubb has his sights set on breaking into top 100

Rising British star Paul Jubb has his sights set on breaking into top 100 when tennis resumes after leaving college in America to turn professional

  • Jubb was the surprise package of last summer’s grass court season
  • He earned £55,000 but as an amateur he was only able to pocket some of it
  • The  next time he appears on circuit it will be as a fully-fledged professional

The days of Paul Jubb having to forego his Wimbledon prize money are over, now that he is formally leaving college in America to turn professional.

Jubb, brought up on a council estate in Hull largely by his grandmother, was the surprise package of last summer’s grass court season, which earned him £55,000.

He was unable to take most of it due to his amateur status as a student at the University of South Carolina, where he created waves by winning the prestigious NCAA championship.

Paul Jubb (above), 20, was the surprise package of last summer’s grass court season

Now 20, he will be rejoining the circuit as a fully-fledged professional, whenever it happens to restart.

Due to strict rules governing American college sports he was only able to use his earnings to directly meet tennis costs, in what has turned out to be his final year as a student of Retail Management.

‘I can’t actually do any more with that money now,’ said Jubb, who has been back in Yorkshire during the lockdown period.

‘That money has gone. I didn’t really get that much back, only what I used for expenses. I worked closely with my university’s compliance to make sure I didn’t break any of the rules or take more than I was allowed to take so I could go back for this season.

He plans to train partly at the JTC centre in West London and also in South Carolina

‘It was obviously a bit disheartening to watch all the rest of that money go away and not see it go into my bank. Hopefully I can put myself in a situation again when I can play in a Grand Slam and keep it next time.’

He has still to finish his degree, although will retain the option to do that remotely. The time has come to see if his athletic baseline game can really cut it among the pros.

‘I’m actually just finishing up this semester, I’m finishing my classes online. Come the end of this week I’ll be done with school. I haven’t got my degree, I’d need to have another year of school (because he had missed quite a lot of time to play the tour).

‘It’s just the way things worked out and I want to get on with my tennis. I can always go back and finish my degree whenever I finish with tennis, so I’ve always got that option.’

Having barely played the circuit this year, his ranking has drifted back below the 500 mark. His performances last season suggested his actual level is much higher than that.

A place inside the world’s top 100 is the goal: ‘I want to get there as soon as possible really. I don’t want to be hanging around outside it.. You never know how long it’s going to take and have to trust the process and keep going.’

Jubb will get support from the LTA and plans to train partly at the JTC centre in West London, but he will also return at times to South Carolina and his coach there, Josh Goffi.

Like his fellow British players, he is itching for the chance to return to the court. He may play in one of the exhibition events mooted for the summer, although the planning for any such thing is embryonic and subject to factors that nobody can yet know.

‘Definitely I wish I could be hitting balls right now,’ he said. ‘It’s what any tennis player who loves the game wants to be doing. The fitness work is all good but we want to be doing the thing we love which is hitting those tennis balls on the court. It’s tough in that sense mentally, but it just gives you that extra motivation to get on the court working hard.’

Jubb has not come from what might be perceived as a traditional tennis background, having been mostly raised by his grandmother Valerie, after his parents died young. He remains close by to her while the current restrictions remain in place.

‘I’m at my auntie and uncle’s house,’ he said. ‘ They’re literally around the corner from my grandma’s house. I go to take stuff round to her when she needs it in these tough times. She can’t be really going outside and we have to be careful with those things.’ 

 

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Kawhi Leonard has improved his offensive game in first season with LA Clippers

Kawhi Leonard has made incremental offensive improvements throughout his career. His first season with the LA Clippers has seen him continue that trend, writes Sky Sports NBA analyst Mark Deeks.

Jordan's Last Dance on Sky Q from April 20

Watch The Last Dance, a 10-part documentary on the 1997-98 Bulls, on Netflix via your Sky Q box

A certain line of conventional wisdom holds that the hallmark of a basketball superstar lies in how they always come back each season with something else added to their game. It is that which separates the superstars from the mere stars, the greats from the very goods, the perennial All-Stars from the fringe.

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What Marcus Rashford has told Ole Gunnar Solskjaer about Jadon Sancho transfer

Marcus Rashford has told Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Jadon Sancho is a big fan of his work at Manchester United, reports say.

The Borussia Dortmund star has been the subject of relentless transfer speculation in the last year and reports this week claim United are confident they have won the race to sign the talented forward.

Borussia Dortmund are set to demand a monster transfer fee for Sancho and United fans have been calling on Rashford to seal the deal for them.

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The Irish Independent claim Rashford and Sancho have become great friends having played together for England.

Rashford has told Solskjaer all about Sancho and informed his manager the 20-year-old ‘decent’ and ‘dependable’.

Chelsea and Liverpool are keen to sign Sancho, as well as Real Madrid, and United will have to fend off some serious competition for the winger.

But Rashford has also told Solskjaer that Sancho is an admirer of what the Norwegian has been trying to build at Old Trafford.

The club have already spent a small fortune on Solskjaer’s vision for the Red Devils and Dortmund have slapped a £120million price tag on Sancho.

Dortmund chief Hans-Joachim Watzke fuelled speculation about Sancho’s future this week by hinting the England international can leave if he wants to.

‘You always have to respect what the player wants,’ he told Bild.

‘We said before coronavirus that our favourite idea is that Jadon will stay with us.

‘I can say that even the very rich clubs, despite the existing crisis, don’t believe they can go on a bargain tour with us.

‘We don’t have to sell anyone below value.’

United’s plan to sign Sancho this summer could be derailed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Football has been suspended and the Premier League have extended the season indefinitely.

Postponed games are expected to be played during the summer, which might see the opening of the next transfer window delayed.

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Cassano: Messi has 'ousted' Maradona as greatest of all time

Lionel Messi has ‘ousted’ Diego Maradona as the greatest of all time after playing at the pinnacle for 15 years, claims ex-Italy and Real Madrid star Antonio Cassano

  • Cassano believes that Messi has overtaken Maradona as the greatest of all time
  • Argentine star has won every honour in the domestic game with Barcelona
  • But he has been unable to replicate Maradona in lifting the World Cup so far
  • However, ex-Italy star Cassano believes Messi’s consistency gives him the edge 

Lionel Messi has ‘ousted’ Diego Maradona as the greatest-ever player because of his incredible consistency over 15 years, according to Italy striker Antonio Cassano.

Barcelona star Messi has played at the pinnacle of world football for so long but hasn’t matched the success on the international stage with Argentina enjoyed by Maradona.

However, ex-Real Madrid and Roma star Cassano argues Messi deserves to be recognised as the best.

Lionel Messi is the greatest player of all time, ‘ousting’ Diego Maradona, according to Cassano

Maradona inspired Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986, something Messi hasn’t yet been able to replicate for his national side

‘Maradona did something never seen before for four or five years, but Messi has done the same things for 15 years,’ Cassano told Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport.

‘He has scored 710 goals and 300 assists. When he plays you start with a 1-0 lead.

‘The ‘Maradonians’ have to accept it: there is someone who has ousted him.’

Cassano, now 37 and retired, came up against a young Messi when he played for Real Madrid between 2006 and 2008.

He has continued to admire the Argentine wizard, who has delivered 10 league titles, six Spanish Cups and four Champions League crowns to Barcelona, his one and only club.

Former Italy striker Antonio Cassano believes Messi has overtaken Maradona as the greatest

But Messi has yet to lead Argentina to glory in any major competition, whereas Maradona inspired his national team to World Cup glory in 1986.

At the age of 32, time is running out for Messi to replicate this success with the closest he has come being Argentina’s 1-0 loss to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final.

Cassano now puts Messi ahead of his former Real team-mate Ronaldo, the Brazil striker, as the game’s greatest.

Cassano believes that his former Real Madrid team-mate Ronaldo is one of the best ever

‘We were losing 1-0 at home,’ Cassano said. ‘The whole stadium was whistling, especially at him [Ronaldo].

‘In the locker room the coach removes Ronnie to put [Ruud] Van Nistelrooy on, but he [Ronaldo] stops him and says ‘no, you take me off in 15 minutes if I haven’t scored two goals.’

‘Minute 15: 2-1 and two goals from Ronaldo. I said that if there is a football God, it is Ronaldo. Then I discovered that Messi is above him.’

 


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