Phil Neville Names Gareth Bale on Four-Man Shortlist of Dream Man Utd Summer Signings

​Former Manchester United defender Phil Neville has had his say on what the club need to recruit in the summer, naming Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale alongside Raphael Varane, Eric Dier and Philippe Coutinho as players he’d love to see the club move for. 

There has been no shortage of transfer speculation surrounding United as of late, with the mass uncertainty surrounding their managerial situation failing to bring a halt to the usual transfer rumours that can surface around this time of year. 

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They have improved tenfold under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer since December, with the Norwegian getting the best out of the likes of Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku, but many still feel there remains a need for some high profile transfer business in the summer months. 

That has led to the likes of Bale, Coutinho and co. being linked, and Neville had his say on the business required when asked on Premier League Today (via ​Metro). 

Picking his dream 11 for next season,  there was room for David De Gea, Luke Shaw, Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot, Pogba, Rashford and Anthony Martial. 

Though he decided against the inclusion of Jadon Sancho, around whom there has been much talk of a ​summer move back to Manchester, Bale joins Rashford and Martial to make up a fantasy front three. 

A new-look midfield trio sees Coutinho, who could reportedly be ​heading for the Barcelona exit door, link up with Pogba and Dier, who Neville backs to provide some cover for the back four. 

Eric Dier,Gareth Southgate

Raphael Varane – whose future at Real Madrid has been ​cast into doubt despite the return of Zinedine Zidane – is fancied to fill the central defensive vacancy for which the club so publicly failed to recruit under Jose Mourinho back in the summer. 

Clearly, Neville is thinking wishfully, but any one of the four players mentioned would be likely to drastically improve the ​United side under the new management regime – or current one – for next season. 

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Why Spanish Report Claiming Paul Pogba Wants to Leave Man Utd Appears Critically Flawed

Paul Pogba has ‘completed’ what he set out to achieve when he returned to England in 2016 and wants to leave Manchester United this summer, either for Real Madrid, a club the Frenchman recently said every player dreams of joining, or former club Juventus.

That was the bizarre and outlandish claim made by Spanish publication AS on Monday morning.

It is alleged that even though former adversary Jose Mourinho has left Old Trafford, Pogba still ‘feels it is time to move on’ and is eyeing a ‘fresh challenge’ in Italy or Spain.

Paul Pogba

The report further claims that agent Mino Raiola is ‘already working hard’ to find a club, that Pogba has ‘already turned down’ a new contract offer from United, that Real would be his first choice, and that Juve are ‘totting up the numbers’ to find a way to finance a deal.

The story is troubling to say the least, and raises a number of questions as to its authenticity.

Yes, Pogba did recently use the word ‘dream’ when asked about Real Madrid and Zinedine Zidane. But his words were less a ‘come and get me’ plea and more a general acknowledgement of how footballers all over the world perceive the grandeur of Los Blancos.

“Real Madrid is a dream for anyone. It’s one of the biggest clubs in the world. There is also Zidane as a coach and it’s a dream for anybody who likes football,” Pogba said last week.

Zinedine Zidane

Not once did he state his personal intention to join Real, nor at any point did he say that he wants to leave United, even specifically insisting that he is ‘happy’ at Old Trafford.

There was an aloof ‘We don’t know what the future holds’, but such words have become so common among modern footballers not wishing to close doors on themselves, even 10 or more years down the line. It’s meaningless.

One of the main claims of the AS story, that Pogba has ‘completed’ everything he wanted to do at United, is absolutely bizarre in the context of his achievements to date.

It would suggest Pogba’s aims when he returned to his former club in 2016 as the most expensive player in history was to win the League Cup and Europa League, finish no higher than second in the Premier League, lose an FA Cup final, fall out with the manager and only consistently play to anything like the best of his ability for a period of three months.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer,Paul Pogba

It is ridiculous to even attempt to claim he has ‘completed what he has set out to do at United’. The only way it can be true is if Pogba has incredibly low standards, which he clearly does not.

The report also directly contradicts a recent story that emerged in England suggesting Pogba has held private meetings with United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – the same man he has publicly supported to become permanent manager – assuring he has no intention to leave.

It isn’t often that one argues in support of an ‘exclusive’ from The Sun, but on this particular subject it speaks with far greater logic and believability than AS does.

Ask yourself why a Spanish report claims a player wants to leave an English club and join a Spanish one. Such media stories designed to unsettle transfer targets are a well known tactic. United have been down this path multiple times with David de Gea, with the goalkeeper ‘agreeing’ deals with Real for months on end, only for truth or substance never to prevail.

David de Gea

But AS namedropping Raiola is also interesting, as is the claim Pogba has turned down the offer of a new United contract and the assertion any new contract will need to be ‘too good to resist’.

Could a new contract be the motivation for the story if Pogba’s camp has anything to do with it?

A report published over the weekend by the Daily Mirror purporting to reveal how much every United player earns, with Pogba said to be on £290,000 per week. That is considerably behind Alexis Sanchez, whose basic salary is said to be £350,000, and up to £500,000 after bonuses.

Pogba’s new found stardom, to the point where he could feasibly be named the club’s next captain, arguably warrants an improved contract that makes him the top earner.

Paul Pogba

Certainly, transfer flirting to command a bumper new deal is not a new tactic in modern football and United chiefs will be well aware that their best player has grounds to demand fresh terms that are more in line with his overall importance to the club.

Does Paul Pogba want to play for Real Madrid before he retires? Quite possibly.

Does Paul Pogba want to leave Manchester United this summer? Almost certainly not.

Does Mino Raiola want Paul Pogba to leave Manchester United this summer? Maybe.

Does Paul Pogba want a new Manchester United contract? Probably.

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Ander Herrera Admits ‘Logical’ Man Utd Exit Could Be On the Cards as Contract Talks Continue

Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera has admitted that he doesn’t know if he will still be at Old Trafford next season, with the fan favourite also revealing that his agent is both negotiating a new United contract as well as looking for new clubs should no agreement be reached.

Herrera is out of contract at United in June and reports last week linked the 29-year-old with a free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain this summer after an alleged bumper offer from France.

Ander Herrera

Subsequent rumours later dampened the PSG link, suggesting that United were still confident of retaining the 2016/17 Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year. But Herrera himself has given fans hoping to see him stay cause for concern after revealing he still doesn’t know what will happen.

“[Rumours are] logical when you have three months left on your contract and it is the international break. I knew something would come out. I take it with a pinch of salt, I’m focusing on playing football in the remaining month and a half of the season,” the player told ​El Periodico.

“The rest I leave to my agent, both a possible contract renewal with United and talks with another club about my departure,” he added.

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Herrera has been eligible to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with overseas clubs since entering the final six months of his United deal in January. Rumours about extension talks have been ongoing for several months but are yet to yield a formal announcement.

“I’m not going crazy about what is going to happen over the next four months because I don’t know if my stay here is over,” Herrera explained.

“I enjoy being at the biggest club in England, the fans love me, they have treated me phenomenally and I owe it to them to listen to what they say, but honestly I don’t know what is going to happen.

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“All I see is trying to win against Watford next week. If you deserve things and if you are an honest and hardworking person, things happen.”

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Predicting Where the ‘Big Six’ Will Actually End Up in the Premier League Based on Remaining Games

The international break might be here, but there can be no doubting that the only football that people are truly looking forward to is how the business end of the Premier League seasons pans out.

In one of the most exciting and cut-throat title fights in recent years, Liverpool and Manchester City continue to set the league alight with a remarkable back-and-forth contest. Below them is an equally enticing top-four race, with Tottenham’s dramatic slump in form seeing them nervously looking behind their backs.

Spurs, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea are all battling out for the two places remaining in the coveted Champions League spots, and each side can all make a genuine case for doing so.

With the disclaimer that I don’t have a mystic ball, below is a look at where the Premier League’s famed ‘big six’ might actually end up when it’s all said and done come 12 May.


6) Chelsea – 71 Points

Eden Hazard

​After a shock 2-0 defeat to Everton just before the international break, ​Chelsea missed the opportunity to go level on points with Arsenal in the hunt for a top four spot. Maurizio Sarri’s side have struggled to adapt to their new manager’s methods and out of the current top six, are perhaps the side looking the least likely to go on a significant winning run in the latter stages.

Even more importantly for the Blues was the kind Europa League draw they received for the quarter-finals, with the relatively less-fancied Slavia Prague. With a potential route into the Champions League next season coming via a triumph in this year’s Europa League, Sarri’s side may well ease off in the ​Premier League and put all their eggs in one basket. 

Fixture Result Points (Currently on 57)
​Cardiff (A) ​W 2-0 ​60
​Brighton (H) ​W 3-0 ​63
​West Ham (H) ​D 2-2 ​64
​Liverpool (A) ​L 2-1 ​64
​Burnley (H) ​W 2-0 ​67
​Manchester United (A) ​D 1-1 ​68
​Watford (H) ​W 3-1 ​71
​Leicester (A) ​L 2-1 ​71


5) Manchester United – 73 Points

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After a simply stunning run of form since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge, ​United were brought back down to Earth when they fell to a 2-0 defeat to top-four rivals Arsenal at the Emirates. That was then followed up with the Red Devils crashing out of the FA Cup quarter-finals in fairly meek fashion to Wolves, and may just be thankful that the international break has come up.

If United can stay injury-free, and that’s a big if, then Solskjaer’s side have every chance of going on another incredible winning run to finish in the top four. Their Premier League destiny undoubtedly rests upon their fixtures in April which read – Wolves (A), West Ham (H), Everton (A), Man City (H) and Chelsea (H). 

Those games also include a two-legged quarter-final against Barcelona in the Champions League sandwiched between them. The City and Chelsea games look particularly pivotal to their chances of finishing in the top four; win both and they should get there, drop points in both and that could well be the end.

Fixture Result Points (Currently on 58)
​Watford (H) ​W 3-1 ​61
​Wolves (A) ​D 1-1 ​62
​West Ham (H) ​W 2-0 ​65
​Everton (A) ​L 2-1 ​65
​Manchester City (H) ​D 2-2 ​66
​Chelsea (H) ​D 1-1 ​67
​Huddersfield (A) ​W 3-0 ​70
​Cardiff (H) ​W 4-0 ​73


4) Arsenal – ​76 Points

Granit Xhaka,Alexandre Lacazette,Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Having suffered back-to-back defeats in their opening two games to both Manchester City and Chelsea, who would have predicted Unai Emery’s first season in charge of ​Arsenal would see them in the top four in the middle of March and in the quarter-finals of the Europa League? The Gunners have showcased that at home they are a formidable opposition, and in beating Manchester United, saw them leapfrog the Red Devils and into fourth.

That game against Solskjaer’s side was Arsenal’s last fixture against another member of the ‘big six’ and on paper, they have the best run-in towards the end of the season. However, their biggest issue lies in the away-heavy nature of their remaining games. After facing Newcastle at the Emirates when the clubs return from the international break, Emery’s side face five away games in their final seven. 

To add a little context, the Gunners have won just the one away fixture since December. If their Spanish boss can get their away form alive and kicking then the Gunners are well placed to make their return to the Champions League; if they can’t, then they will have nobody but themselves to blame.

Fixture Result Points (Currently on 60)
​Newcastle (H) W ​3-1 ​63
​Everton (A) D ​2-2 ​64
​Watford (A) L ​1-2 ​64
​Crystal Palace (H) W ​2-0 ​67
​Wolves (A) L ​2-1 ​67
​Leicester (A) W ​2-1 ​70
​Brighton (H) W ​3-0 ​73
​Burnley (A) ​W 2-0 ​76


3) Tottenham – 77 Points

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​Out of all the sides in the ‘big six’ desperate for the international break, Mauricio Pochettino’s men needed it most. After being considered a dark horse in the title race just a month ago, a run of wretched ‘Spursy’ form has seen them fall out of contention for the league title, and more worryingly, looking over their shoulders to just stay in the top four. The north Londoners lie just three points above fifth-placed Manchester United, and still have to face both Liverpool and Manchester City in their remaining games.

An even bigger X-factor comes in the shape of their new stadium; set to be officially opened next month, ​Spurs could very well feed off the incredible atmosphere at their new ground and propel themselves back into winning form. Or, trying to adjust mid-season with a stadium move could prove to be too much too soon, and see them slip out of the top four altogether. 

Pochettino’s side also have the added element of their Champions League quarter-final with Manchester City as well, and that could prove to be a potentially season-defining ‘distraction’ for a set of players whose mentality has already been called into question in recent years.

Fixture Result Points (Currently on 61)
​Liverpool (A) ​L 3-1 ​61
​Crystal Palace (H) ​W 2-1 ​64
​Huddersfield (H) ​W 3-0 ​67
​Manchester City (A) ​L 2-0 ​67
​Brighton (H) ​W 2-0 ​70
West Ham (H) W 2-1 ​73
​Bournemouth (A) ​D 2-2 ​74
​Everton (H) ​W 2-1 ​77


2) Liverpool – 93 Points

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Two points clear of Manchester City (having played a game more), and a plum Champions League tie against Porto, it is all set up for ​Liverpool to have a truly legendary season. Jurgen Klopp’s men missed out on both last year, but have kept up the pace this season, and ​it would be truly heart-breaking for the passionate Anfield faithful to slip up once more. No pun intended.

The Reds’ most difficult fixtures come in the shape of Tottenham and Chelsea at home, and if the title race does come down to the final day, then they face a potentially trick clash against Wolves, who have been notoriously good against the division’s best sides this season.

As it always does when it comes to titles and trophies, it will come down to who can hold their nerve better. The Reds certainly have the technical quality to do so, and in Virgil van Dijk have a real leader at the back. Klopp’s biggest concern might be the allure and possible distraction of another Champions League final, and whether that might just take their eye off the ball in the league. 

The Reds face Porto, Chelsea and then Porto again in the space of eight days, and that one week will no doubt shape their destiny in the Premier League and in Europe.

Fixture Result Points (Currently on 76)
​Tottenham (H) ​W 3-1 ​79
​Southampton (A) ​D 2-2 ​80
​Chelsea (H) W ​2-1 ​83
​Cardiff (A) W ​4-1 ​86
​Huddersfield (H) W​4-0 ​89
​Newcastle(A) D​1-1 ​90
​Wolves(H) ​W2-1 ​93


1) Manchester City – 96 Points

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The quadruple is well and truly on. City boss Pep Guardiola has done his best to downplay things at the Etihad, but with a Carabao Cup triumph under their belts, and ‘favourable’ draws in both the FA Cup and Champions League, the side could achieve something historic. 

The Citizens currently find themselves two points behind leaders Liverpool, but with a game in hand. Their biggest week of the season comes in mid-April when after facing Tottenham at home in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-finals, they host Pochettino’s side again just three days later, before rounding off a seismic few days with the small matter of the Manchester derby at Old Trafford.

Just as with Liverpool, how big a part will European commitments play on the nature of their Premier League performances? Certainly, City have more of a squad for Guardiola to choose from than his German counterpart at Anfield, but will the pressure of being favourites in almost all the competitions they’re involved in eventually take its toll? 

Fixture Result Points (Currently on 74)
​Fulham (A) ​ W 0-3 ​77
​Cardiff (H) W 5-0​ ​80
​Crystal Palace (A) W ​2-1 ​83
​Tottenham (H) ​W 2-0 ​86
​Manchester United (A) ​D 2-2 ​87
​Burnley (A) W 1-0 ​90
​Leicester (H) W ​3-1 ​93
​Brighton (A) ​W 3-1 ​96

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Romelu Lukaku Reveals How Zlatan Ibrahimovic Made a Lasting Impression During Man Utd Training

​Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku has opened up on the details of a training ground experience which revealed the true quality of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Lukaku only lined up alongside the iconic Swede for half a season under Jose Mourinho following his big-money switch to Old Traffford from Premier League rivals Everton in 2017, but the Belgian forward has admitted that his fellow striker made a telling impression.

Injuries cut short Ibrahimovic’s career at Old Trafford and the 37-year-old departed a year ago to join MLS side LA Galaxy, where his trademark goalscoring heroics have continued, and ​Lukaku admitted that the former ​Barcelona star’s commitment has been the secret behind his success.

The striker told ​Manchester United’s ​official website: “Everything I learned from Zlatan was great, from his stories that he told me when he was at ​Inter, AC ​Milan, Barcelona and even Ajax, to being on the field working with him, seeing how competitive he was.

“I remember one training session. Because we were both strikers, we were never on the same team and, at one point, there was a 50/50 challenge. He went full-on against me!

“That is when I knew this guy wants to compete and this guy wants to fight for his spot. That is why he changed me. It was an eye-opener. The guy had to fight to be in the position he is in.

“So I learned just to focus, work hard and enjoy it as well. Because he is a guy who you can have a lot of fun with as well and having his personality in the dressing room was good.”

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