Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta had three transfer dreams before coronavirus crisis

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had three transfer priorities before the coronavirus crisis struck, reports say. The Spaniard will look to strengthen the Gunners this summer, knowing they require more if they’re to secure a return to the Champions League. But things have been made tougher because of the pandemic currently causing chaos around the world.

Arsenal named Arteta as manager in December, giving interim boss Freddie Ljungberg a different role following the departure of Unai Emery.

He’s managed to steady the ship at the Gunners but they still remain a long way off the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City.

Arsenal are facing a difficult transfer window because of the coronavirus crisis, with the north London giants hit hard financially.

Analysis by the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust shows they’re set for a loss of £19million for the year ending May 2020.

Before the pandemic, they were reportedly on course for a small profit of £4m – but that’s no longer the case.

Arsenal have had to refund supporters for the final four remaining home Premier League matches of the season.

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And there’s also been a drop in commercial and retail revenue, with Arsenal likely to lose £144m for the year 2020-21 should all games next season be played behind closed doors.

And Goal say that, before the coronavirus crisis, Arsenal had been hoping to sign a centre-back, box-to-box midfielder and a right-back.

Now, though, the pandemic means Arteta may have to switch his focus.

Arsenal will see Willy Saliba link up with the first team in the summer, having agreed to sign the centre-back from Saint-Etienne a year ago.

But they still wanted another defender to play alongside the 19-year-old, who is highly-rated behind the scenes.

Arsenal were seemingly planning to sign a box-to-box midfielder in order to replace Dani Ceballos, who is primed to return to Real Madrid.

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And a right-back was being eyed, too, with Cedric Soares’s future uncertain.

Cedric could actually be signed as a free agent come the end of the campaign, with Southampton set to lose the Portugal international.

But it appears Arsenal’s hopes of a fruitful summer have been ended by the pandemic – and Arteta could suffer for it.

Meanwhile, Arsenal legend Kevin Campbell recently urged the club to sign Jack Grealish – and get Mesut Ozil off the books in the process.

“Arsenal need an all-rounder in midfield,” he said.

“Arsenal need someone in the middle of the pitch who not only can create, he can break the play up, but he’s got legs, we miss that. We’ve been a strong spine for years.

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“There was talk of should we go for Jack Grealish or James Maddison, these type of guys would improve Arsenal.

“No disrespect to Mesut Ozil, but Ozil is on the wrong side of his Arsenal career with a year left on his contract after this.

“But we need someone who’s going to be in there with legs, we need creativity, and someone that when the game’s not going particularly well, he can get stuck in and knuckle down as well.

“We’re being shown up by the likes of Sheffield United, Chris Wilder who has done a fantastic job there, they haven’t got the quality that Arsenal have but they’re above us in the league.

“Why? Because they’ve got a system and they fight, grab and battle, and they’ve got some quality there as well. If we can’t match these teams, we don’t deserve to be up there.”

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Liverpool to make offer in matter of days to beat Man Utd to Andy Roberson back-up

Liverpool are reportedly ready to move for Manchester United transfer target Nuno Mendes. The Sporting Lisbon left-back has made an impressive start to his career in Portugal and will turn 18 next month.

He is yet to make a senior appearance for Sporting, but his performances at youth team level have earned rave reviews.

United icon Nani is said to have recommended the player to his former club.

Mendes is believed to be keen on a move having recently turned down an offer of a two-year extension from Sporting.

His contract expires next year meaning he could be available on the cheap this season.

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According to A Bola, Liverpool are preparing an offer for Mendes in a mater of days.

Mendes played against the Reds in New York last summer for Sporting in a 2-2 draw during their pre-season tour of the United States.

It’s unclear whether the amount they are ready to offer will be enough to secure a deal.

The one area deemed as a hole in Liverpool’s side is cover at left-back.

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Andy Robertson rarely gets the chance to rest given that he is the Reds only recognised left-back.

Veteran James Milner has been known to fill in whenever necessary but Liverpool are eyeing something more sustainable.

Youngsters Yasser Larouci and Adam Lewis are also knocking on the first team door.

Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka is also a player of interest for the Reds as his Arsenal deal runs down.

Sky Sports reporter Vinnie O’Connor has confirmed there is interest from the European champions.

“He’s 18 and has already impressed in the Premier League and the likelihood is his value will rise,” he said during a recent Q&A.

“It makes sense for Liverpool to be looking at that kind of player particularly given he’s only contracted to Arsenal until 2021.

“However, would he get the regular game time at Liverpool that he’s getting now? Probably not.

“So whether there’s interest or not I certainly do not see this happening this summer, while Arsenal will continue doing what they can to ensure he stays beyond 2021.”

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Man Utd star Bruno Fernandes sends fans wild with Paul Pogba picture – ‘Tears in my eyes’

Manchester United fans are loving Bruno Fernandes’ picture with Paul Pogba, which was uploaded to the Portugal international’s official Instagram account. Fernandes moved to Old Trafford in the January transfer window and is yet to play alongside the France international, who has been injured for all of 2020 so far. Now, though, they’ve been training together for the first time.

United have seen Fernandes flourish since his move from Sporting Lisbon in the New Year, with the 25-year-old involved in six goals from eight games to date.

He’s finally shared an image of himself and Pogba at the club’s Carrington training complex, accompanied with the message: “PP @paulpogba.”

Hopes are high United can coax the best from the pair to give themselves the best possible chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

And fans have reacted positively to Fernandes’ picture, with one saying: “Can’t wait to see them play together football hurry back.”

A second said: “Really hope they link up well.”

A third opined: “Hope their partnership will destroy the prem.”

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“My word I’m not ready for this partnership,” were the words of a fourth excited supporter.

“Bruno and Pogba in the same picture.. tears in my eyes,” another added.

“I cannot wait for this duo ffs,” a sixth fan contributed.

And a seventh said: “Brogbaaaa…Romance …u love to see itt..”

Pogba has struggled for consistency ever since he returned to United from Serie A giants Juventus back in the transfer window of 2016.

He’s become a much-maligned figure and wants out, with Real Madrid and Juventus both showing interest in the 2018 World Cup winner.

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But Fernandes recently defended his new team-mate in an interview with United’s official website, saying: “We can say in football that people normally forget what you do good when you have a mistake.

“You can do good for 34 games, and one game you do bad and everyone will remember that.

“Paul is coming from a bad moment, because of the situation.

“When he played also, the club and the team was not good, because the expectations are high for Paul, because Paul is a top player and Manchester United pay a lot for him, and expectations are a lot for him.

“It’s normal when you are in that situation you don’t play like a superstar, because everyone expects from Paul like they expect from (Cristiano) Ronaldo at Juventus or (Lionel) Messi at Barcelona.

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“Everyone expects this from Paul in Manchester, because they know he has the qualities for this.

“Also this is confidence in Paul.

“The team, we have a lot of confidence in Paul.”

United were on a run of 11 games without defeat before the coronavirus crisis brought football to a crashing halt.

They’ll be hoping to continue that form if and when the Premier League season starts up again. 

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Jadon Sancho ‘ready to play for Liverpool or Man Utd’ but Real Madrid warning revealed

Jadon Sancho is “ready to play” for the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United, according to former Borussia Dortmund midfielder Steffen Freund. Sancho is linked with a host of Europe’s top clubs after another fine season for Dortmund in the Bundesliga. His assist against Wolfsburg on Saturday made it 16 assists to go with his 14 goals this term.

Sancho is a top target for United heading into the next transfer window.

And Freund says statistics the winger has racked up prove he has what it takes for a big move.

“Jadon is ready to play for Liverpool or Man United, no question, because his stats are unbelievable,” Freund told talkSPORT.

“That shows that he can take the next step.

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“In the Borussia Dortmund side with [Erling] Haaland, [Julian] Brandt improving, with Emre Can signing, with changing to a back-three that suits Sancho.”

However, Freund reckons it would be wise for Sancho to play for Dortmund for another season.

The former Germany international believes there is no rush for Sancho to make the move to another top club yet.

Freund has warned the 20-year-old could turn out like Luka Jovic, who left Eintracht Frankfurt for Real Madrid last summer and has struggled for game time at the Bernabeu.

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“It would be good for him to play for Borussia Dortmund now and next year so that he will have more match time,” Freund added.

“He’s only 20, so why not play for Borussia Dortmund? We’re not talking about Freiburg or Paderborn, we’re talking about Borussia Dortmund, one of the top 20 clubs in Europe.

“Remember Jovic, who moved to Real Madrid from Eintracht Frankfurt, he’s not playing. If you have an offer from Real Madrid you think, ‘I have to go’.

“No, you don’t have to go because the salaries in the Bundesliga are on a good level, too, not as much as Real Madrid or the Premier League, though.

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“But you can earn good money and improve and not make too much of a big step at once.

“So for Jadon to move to Man United with that pressure, they are struggling to qualify for the Champions League, so maybe it’s better to stay another year in Dortmund.”

Sancho is yet to start for Dortmund since the break due to a calf injury.

But Jan Age Fjortoft expects him to start the top-of-the-table clash against Bayern Munich on Tuesday (5.30pm).

“They will play [Sancho], 100 per cent, he will be in there,” Fjortoft told ESPN FC.

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Man Utd turn focus to Timo Werner and Moussa Dembele transfers amid Odion Ighalo exit

Manchester United are eyeing Timo Werner and Moussa Dembele with Odion Ighalo primed to return to China, reports say. The Nigeria international has impressed for the Red Devils since joining on loan in January, scoring four goals from eight games. But, with the player set to leave Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now eyeing replacements.

Manchester United were criticised by many within the footballing world following their decision to swoop for Ighalo in January.

However he’s proven to be a shrewd acquisition in the time since, with the Nigeria international scoring four goals from eight games.

Ighalo is, though, set to return to the Chinese Super League with Shanghai wanting him back in time for the new season.

And Goal claim United could now swoop for Werner and Dembele, with the pair under consideration behind the scenes at Old Trafford.

RB Leipzig have seen Werner scale new heights following the arrival of Julian Nagelsmann at the start of the season.

The Germany international has scored 24 Bundesliga goals this season, managing seven assists along the way.

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Werner was sublime at the weekend as Leipzig kept their hopes of winning the league title alive with a 5-0 win over Mainz, with the striker scoring a hat-trick.

And it’s claimed that United have him in their thoughts as Solskjaer hunts a replacement for Ighalo this summer.

Another player being considered is Lyon’s Dembele.

The France international was tipped to join United in the January transfer window, only for Ighalo to join instead.

Lyon may have to cut their best players loose this summer in order to raise funds following their failure to qualify for the Champions League.

They finished seventh in the Ligue 1 table following the French government’s decision to scrap the campaign as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

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And he’s been of interest to United for a number of years, with interest dating back to when Dembele played for Fulham.

Since leaving the Cottagers he’s impressed, becoming a key asset for Brendan Rodgers at Celtic prior to his return to France.

And he could be set for a sensational return to England should United decide to go after him at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Solskjaer recently opened up on what he wants from any new signing – and admitted he preferred players without egos.

“I’d rather have a hole in the squad than an a**hole,” Solskjaer told United We Stand.

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“Personality is so important. We’re a team in a team environment. You want players to have a bit of ego and edge but they have to be able to adapt.

“In March 2019, players were physically tired, mentally tired and we had injuries. The players started with negative thinking, whereas now it’s positive thinking.

“There were other 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.”

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Liverpool legend chooses between captain Jordan Henderson and Reds hero Xabi Alonso

Liverpool legend Steve Nicol holds Jordan Henderson in a higher regard than former Reds midfielder Xabi Alonso. Liverpool skipper Henderson has been instrumental in his side’s charge to 25 points clear at the top of the Premier League table. The 29-year-old is also one of the favourites to win the PFA Player of the Year award.

Former Spain World Cup-winner Alonso won three major honours during his five-year spell at Liverpool, including the 2005 Champions League.

However, Henderson also helped Liverpool lift the same trophy last season, which puts him ahead of Alonso in the eyes of Nicol.

Though Nicol admits as stand-alone players, Alonso was better than Henderson.

“Well you have to say that Henderson’s been more effective because Liverpool have won the Champions League and he’s pushed them, he’s one of the main reasons why they’re going to win the Premier League,” Nicol told ESPN FC.

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“As great a footballer as Alonso was, I think the influence that Henderson has had on this team has been bigger than Alonso had.

“Listen, as football players, Alonso’s a better technician than Jordan Henderson. I don’t think that’s in question.

“So it becomes the biggest impact and I think no doubt Henderson’s made a bigger impact in this Liverpool side than Alonso did for the team he played for.”

Today marks 15 years since Alonso helped Liverpool come back from three goals down to beat AC Milan in Istanbul, with the Spaniard scoring the equaliser.

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But Jamie Carragher, who played the entire match at centre-back, insists he did not believe Liverpool could come back from 3-0 down at half time.

Carragher told Sport Bible: “Probably the whole world is laughing at you at half-time or almost saying, ‘Well that’s what Liverpool are really…’ It’s almost like you’re stunned. Stunned into silence.

“So I was just thinking I didn’t want it to be 5-0 or 6-0. If the game had’ve finished 3-0 it’s not the end of the world.

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“But I can’t say there was any belief there that we’d go on and win the game or get back into the game.

“It was more trying to save face more than anything.”

“3-1 gives you hopes, 3-2 gives you belief. But that just sparked something with the support, with the players on the pitch.

“It was inevitable that something was going to happen to make it 3-3, I just felt that.”

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Chelsea ace Ross Barkley could have been next Steven Gerrard, says ex-Everton defender

Ross Barkley could have become the best English midfielder since Steven Gerrard, according to ex-Everton defender Mark Hughes. The 33-year-old claims Barkley had the potential to match the Liverpool legend both domestically and internationally but the Chelsea ace is yet to fulfil that promise.

Barkley came through the Everton youth system, making his senior debut as a 17-year-old at the start of the 2011/12 season.

The playmaker went on to feature 179 times for the Toffees but his development stalled before a controversial £15million move to Chelsea in January 2018.

Barkley has struggled to nail down a first-team spot at Stamford Bridge and Hughes, who currently plays for Accrington Stanley, believes the midfielder had some of his natural flair coached out of him following his breakthrough.

Comparing Barkley’s teenage development to that of another Everton prodigy, Hughes told Tribalfootball.com: “If Wayne Rooney was playing at that age now, I’m not saying it would get taken out of him, but I look at someone like Ross Barkley when he was at Everton, and he came in a bit of a street footballer, but I think managers and even fans they sort of take that out of them.

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“I love when a young lad comes through, and he was the one who I thought could be the next Steven Gerrard for Everton.

“You could have built a team around him. I thought he could’ve been the best midfielder England had since Steven Gerrard.

“But because the way he played, he used to run with the ball and sometimes he’d get it taken off him. That’s the hardest part of football – taking people on.

“Then the fans would get on his back because he’d given it away. He just started passing it.”

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Hughes progressed through the academy at Everton and made three senior appearances for the Goodison Park outfit before leaving for Northampton Town in 2007.

The defender has since played for a host of Football League clubs while also enjoying a brief spell with North Queensland Fury in Australia.

Now a regular at Accrington, Hughes reveals a frustration that Barkley has not been able to do more with his obvious ability and emulate the success of Liverpool icon Gerrard.

“He just had that little street footballer taken out of him,” he said.

“I like to watch things as a neutral now, I do support Everton but now I watch the two teams tactically when I go to games.

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“And he was the one when I think to myself I felt sorry for him a little bit, even though he’s earning £100k a week at Chelsea.

“He could’ve been Everton’s Rooney, that local lad coming through.”

Barkley is yet to fully convince the Chelsea supporters of his talents, despite notching up 72 appearances for the Blues in all competitions since his move south.

The 26-year-old is behind N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho and Mason Mount in the pecking order at Stamford Bridge, although eye-catching performances before the coronavirus lockdown drew praise from manager Frank Lampard.

Barkley has won the FA Cup and Europa League since moving to Chelsea but has some way to go in order to match Gerrard’s trophy haul while he is 81 caps shy of his fellow Scouser’s international tally.

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Man Utd star Bruno Fernandes picks favourite Premier League moment so far

Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes has named the club’s 3-0 win over Watford as his favourite Premier League moment so far. The 25-year-old joined the Red Devils from Sporting Lisbon back in the January transfer window. And he’s been sensational ever since, boosting the club’s chances of finishing in the top four and securing a return to the Champions League.

Fernandes has been magnificent for United since joining from Sporting, being directly involved in six goals from eight games.

There have been some big moments for the Portugal international, who flourished in key victories over Chelsea and Manchester City.

However, Fernandes has now told United’s official website that the club’s 3-0 win over Watford was his favourite moment so far.

“The game I would like to watch would be the game where I scored my first goal, against Watford,” Bruno said.

“I want to feel – not exactly how I would feel in the game – but I can feel the game, the atmosphere and everything when I score.

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“[If I watch this] I can have the motivation to keep training and keep the focus on the return of the game [after the COVID-19 pandemic].”

Many at United think Fernandes will only get better.

The Portugal international will likely be deployed alongside a fit-again Paul Pogba if and when the Premier League returns.

Pogba has been out of action since December.

He will return to the pitch with a point to prove, though, with the 27-year-old a divisive figure among supporters.

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And Fernandes recently defended Pogba for his inconsistency, expressing a belief that he can’t be expected to do the same things as the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

“We can say in football that people normally forget what you do good when you have a mistake,” Fernandes said.

“You can do good for 34 games, and one game you do bad and everyone will remember that.

“Paul is coming from a bad moment, because of the situation.

“When he played also, the club and the team was not good, because the expectations are high for Paul, because Paul is a top player and Manchester United pay a lot for him, and expectations are a lot for him.

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“It’s normal when you are in that situation you don’t play like a superstar, because everyone expects from Paul like they expect from (Cristiano) Ronaldo at Juventus or (Lionel) Messi at Barcelona.

“Everyone expects this from Paul in Manchester, because they know he has the qualities for this.

“Also this is confidence in Paul. The team, we have a lot of confidence in Paul.”

United where on an 11-game unbeaten run before the coronavirus crisis.

And the club are confident they’ll be able to pick up where they left off when football comes back again.

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Man Utd star Bruno Fernandes reveals favourite Cristiano Ronaldo memory for club

Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes has fondly recalled the club’s famous 2008 Champions League final win over Chelsea. And he’s hailed Cristiano Ronaldo for the goal the Juventus star scored that day. The Red Devils won the prize on penalties with Edwin van der Sar the hero.

Manchester United beat Chelsea in the 2008 Champions League final on a dramatic night in Moscow.

The Red Devils took the lead through Ronaldo, who out-jumped Michael Essien to power the ball past Petr Cech.

Chelsea levelled through Frank Lampard just before the break, with the current Blues boss capitalising on a slip from Van der Sar.

The Blues looked the favourites to win the match with Lampard and Didier Drogba striking the woodwork.

But it was United who ended up reigning supreme, winning the trophy via an enthralling penalty shootout.

And Fernandes has fondly recalled the match and hailed Ronaldo for the stunning header he produced that night.

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“I think from history I have maybe one game – the Champions League final when Cristiano scores with the header,” he told the club’s official website.

“After this, he misses a penalty, I think it’s the same one right, against Chelsea? This one.

“I think it was a great final and for Cristiano it was one of the best games yet, because he scored an amazing goal with a header. He doesn’t jump, he flies.

“After this, he missed the penalty, but United won the Champions League and at the end we see him crying on the ground because he won the Champions League.

“It was one of the most important games in the history of Manchester United.”

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The game is largely remembered for John Terry’s penalty miss.

After Ronaldo had fluffed his lines, the Chelsea captain at the time had the chance to win the west London giants the trophy they crave most.

However, Terry ended up missing with United going on to win the prize.

And he was recently mocked by Rene Meulensteen, who claimed the Aston Villa coach wasn’t focused enough in the decisive moment.

“If Drogba had been sent off earlier in the game I think we would have been able to capitalise properly, but it seemed to spur Chelsea on,” he told Planet Football.

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“When Terry came up to take the penalty, he thought, ‘This is all about me – all the lights are on me.’

“He pushed his captain’s armband up, but he lost focus and slipped.

“The difference with us was that Nani, Anderson, Ryan Giggs and our other penalty takers were clinically focused.

“When Anelka stepped up, I couldn’t watch but I knew, whatever happened, Edwin was determined that he was going to stop that penalty because he was a winner – it was his Federer moment.

“To win the Champions League and share that euphoria with the players, the staff and the fans was an unbelievable feeling.”

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Man Utd star Paul Pogba in transfer talks with Juventus as Mino Raiola looks to seal deal

Manchester United star Paul Pogba could be on his way to Juventus with Mino Raiola in talks with the Serie A side over a possible transfer, according to reports. Real Madrid are also interested in making a swoop for the World Cup winner though.

Pogba has struggled with injury throughout this season and has made just seven Premier League appearances this campaign.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was also involved in a public spat with Raiola over the future of the 27-year-old.

Le10 Sport claim Juventus have opened talks with Pogba’s agent over a possible return to the Serie A champions.

The Turin side have been considering a move for over a year, according to the reports.

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Real Madrid are also monitoring things but there is a disagreement between Zinedine Zidane and Florentino Perez over their thoughts on the player.

The president of Los Blancos is not a major fan of Pogba and would prefer to avoid dealing with Raiola.

United have made no decision on the future of Pogba but with the performances of Bruno Fernandes since his arrival in January, they now have flexibility with whatever they choose to do.

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Juventus could be in need of a midfielder should they sell the likes of Adrien Rabiot and Miralem Pjanic.

Former United midfielder Paul Ince thinks the future of Pogba needs to be a priority for the club this summer.

“They’ve got to resolve the (Paul) Pogba situation,” Ince told Paddy Power.

“It has to be resolved. You can’t keep having what we’re having every six, seven, eight weeks. He’s going, he’s staying, the agent comes out. Pogba is not bigger than Manchester United, no player is bigger than Manchester United.

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“The way Ole is going, you don’t want any disruptions. He either knuckles down and starts performing the way he should be performing for the money he cost, or they sell him.

“The biggest thing is for Man United is (Bruno) Fernandes coming in. Before that you are saying, ‘We need Pogba in there’.

“Now because he’s been out injured and Fernandes has come in, all of a sudden, ‘Do we need Pogba in there?’

“Does he get in there? I know he (Solskjaer) likes (Scott) McTominay. (Nemanja) Matic has come in and started playing well. Does Pogba start every game?

“If Ole thinks he’s not going to, he might think he can cash in and bring one or two other players in. But the saga needs to be sorted out before the start of next season because next season is a big season for Ole. A big, big season.

“But I like the way they are going now, I like what I’m seeing. I can’t make judgement yet.

“They are not there yet where Liverpool and City are, but signs are good and that’s a good thing to say because I didn’t see those signs a year ago.

“I like what I’m seeing. I like the place and I like the players they are bringing in. You’ve got to give Ole time now to take them where they need to be, which is challenging for the league title.”

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