Manchester United Hand Chris Smalling New Long-Term Contract to 2022

​Chris Smalling has signed a new contract with Manchester United, extending his eight-year association with the Old Trafford side. 

The deal ties the 29-year-old to the club until 2022, with an option for a further year on the end of that – a strong statement from United’s hierarchy that they see Smalling as a player who can play the role of veteran leader at Old Trafford. 

Quoted on the ​club’s website, Smalling said: “This is my ninth season with the club and I am delighted to be continuing my progression with this team. It is a real honour to play for ​Manchester United and we are all now concentrating on the busy schedule of games throughout the festive period.”

Jose Mourinho added: “I am very happy Chris has signed a new contract. Chris has been with the club for a number of years and is now one of the senior players within our squad.”

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys - UEFA Champions League Group H

Smalling has made over 300 first team appearances for the Red Devils over the years, including 18 starts this season alone. Only ​Nemanja Matic and goalkeeper ​David de Gea have played more league minutes than the London-born defender, with a rotating cast alongside him a reflection of both injury issues and Mourinho’s continued unhappiness with his options at the back.


Christmas Crackers: 10 of the Best Ever Premier League Goals During the Festive Season

Christmas is the time for giving, and that includes giving us great goals. There have been some absolute thunderbastards over the years during the festive season. 

Sit back and enjoy these stocking fillers… 

Note: This might be harder if you’re a Villa fan. Oddly a lot of them are against the Claret and Blue. Sorry, Villa!

1. Robin van Persie vs Watford (26/12 2006)

December 2006 produced one of the all-time great Goal of the Month compilations.

Robin van Persie’s patented cut inside and curl past the keeper on Boxing Day was one of his finest. Seek it out and watch as the Dutchman wraps his foot around the ball like pigs in a blanket.

2. Paul Scholes vs Aston Villa (26/12 2006)

It would’ve been frankly wrong not to put together any festive goals list and not include Scholes thundering volley from Boxing Day 2006.

The ginger wizard lends his incredible technique to one of the Premier League’s greatest ever goals. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo vs Sunderland (26/12 2007)

There is nothing anyone can do once Cristiano Ronaldo steps up to hit the ball at the Stadium of Light. You may question the goalkeeper’s starting position but that is pretty much the perfect free kick. Peak Ronaldo.

Man Utd ran out 0-4 winners in a Christmas stuffing.

4. Andriy Shevchenko vs Aston Villa (26/12 2007)

Both defences were presumably still hungover on Boxing Day, when Chelsea and Villa played out a 4-4 draw.

The £30m lump of coal that was Shevchenko got the pick of the goals with a top corner screamer that day.

5. Robbie Keane vs Arsenal (21/12 2008)

Robbie Keane may be remembered as a bit of a turkey for his short-lived spell at one of his many boyhood clubs Liverpool, but his equaliser against Arsenal is the dictionary definition of a thumping finish. 

Great technique to take it over the shoulder, first time, at pace. 

6. Dwight Gayle vs Aston Villa (26/12 2013)

Villa fans, please continue to avert your eyes.

Back on Boxing Day of 2013, Dwight Gayle tore through a suspect defence on the break, like the ghost of Christmas worldies, before putting away a very neat finish.

7. Gylfi Sigurdsson vs Aston Villa (26/12 2014)

Gylfi Sigurdsson’s Boxing Day free kick against Villa back in 2014 is in absolute treat for the eyes.

Few players have as many direct free kick goals in the Premier League as the Icelander. However, this one from 2014 might be his best. 

Find it and watch as the spray come off the turf as he hits it. Delightful. And, better than just about anything Swansea fans received under the tree that year.

8. Cuco Martina vs Arsenal (26/12 2015)

Cuco Martina stepped up almost nonchalantly, before hitting an absolutely ridiculous outside of the boot screamer against the Gunners on Boxing Day 2015.

If we are treated to anything of this quality while chowing down on leftovers this year, it will indeed be a very Merry Christmas indeed.

9. Xherdan Shaqiri vs Everton (28/12 2015)

Shaqiri’s ‘chip of the tastiest variety’ (as one of the weirder lines of FIFA commentary used to say) won Stoke’s goal of the season in 2015. It is definitely one for Santa’s naughty list.

The ‘Messi of the Alps’ scored twice in a barnstorming encounter with Everton on 28 December 2015. 

10. Henrikh Mkhitaryan vs Sunderland (26/12 2016)

Henrikh Mkhitaryan won December’s Goal of the Month (unsurprisingly) for his ‘scorpion kick’ against Sunderland two Christmases ago. Afforded some Christmas cheer from the linesman, the Armenian might have been a shade offside…but really who cares?

Apparently inspired by Mkhitaryan’s effort, Olivier Giroud scored a similar goal just a week later for Arsenal.


Picking a Combined XI of Liverpool and Man Utd Players Ahead of Sunday’s Premier League Clash

Liverpool host Manchester United on Sunday in what is always a hotly contested fixture in the Premier League calendar. Whilst United aren’t the force they once were during the Fergie years, this match will always feel big. 

Liverpool are flying at the top of the table and remain undefeated this season, whilst United are languishing in sixth following a wildly inconsistent first half of the campaign. Despite the reversal in fortunes of the two teams, Liverpool haven’t beaten their Manchester rivals in eight league matches (drawing three, losing five). 

1. David de Gea

Apt after the debate surrounding Alisson’s save in the Champions League midweek, De Gea gets the nod over the Brazilian. 

Although the porous defence in front of him has made him look human this season, De Gea is still one of the top goalkeepers in world football. He also has a good record of making important saves in big games – see games against Liverpool. Arsenal and Man City last season. 

2. Trent Alexander-Arnold

The Golden Boy nominee has come on leaps and bounds after Marcus Rashford gave him a tough time when the sides last met in March. 

Alexander-Arnold is always a threat down the right hand side, with his delivery from wide and tidy passing. The youngster possesses a threat from set pieces as well, as Watford found out recently. 

3. Virgil van Dijk

The Dutchman has improved Liverpool’s defence immeasurably since his arrival from Southampton (obviously), and he’s established himself as one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League – if not the world. 

Van Dijk’s reading of the game, aerial prowess and speed across the ground have been a huge asset to Klopp’s defence, and has given Liverpool a more solid foundation to grind out results when they aren’t playing at their best. 

4. Eric Bailly

When fit, Eric Bailly has been United’s best centre-back in his time at the club, which makes his constant exclusion from the squad by Jose Mourinho all the more baffling. 

The Ivorian’s aggression has helped endear himself to the United faithful, and he’s more comfortable on the ball than most of United’s centre halves. He’s quick and strong in the tackle, and at his best he is a better option than Dejan Lovren. 

5. Andrew Robertson

The Scotland captain continues to improve under Jurgen Klopp. He’s a bundle of seemingly boundless energy down the left hand side, providing a deadly end product for Liverpool’s front three. 

The 24-year-old has also improved defensively. His recovery pace is exceptional, meaning that he can dig himself out of any trouble he finds himself in. It’s hard to believe that he was still competing for his spot with Alberto Moreno this time last year. 

6. Fabinho

After a period of adjustment to English football, Fabinho is starting to show why Liverpool paid so much for him in the summer. 

A genuine holding midfielder, the former Monaco man is just as adept at breaking up the play as he is starting off attacks. His presence gives Liverpool’s more forward thinking players the freedom to express themselves higher up the pitch. 

7. Paul Pogba

Although he strongly divides opinion between fans and pundits alike, there’s no doubting Paul Pogba’s talent. 

Despite his ongoing issues with Jose Mourinho and United’s lacklustre form, the Frenchman has still scored five goals and provided four assists in all competitions this season. He’s capable of making something happen, and has shown he’s a man for a big occasion – as his goal in the World Cup final demonstrated.

8. James Milner

The man made his 500th Premier League appearance last week, and it doesn’t look like he’s stopping any time soon. 

The 32-year-old can still run up and down the pitch for 90 minutes, and has sixteen years of experience to bring to the table. His positional sense is impressive as well, as he knows when to cover for advancing full backs and when to get himself into goalscoring positions. There are few players you’d trust more from the penalty spot too. 

9. Mohamed Salah

People questioned the Egyptian’s form at the start of the season, but he has responded emphatically. Salah leads the Premier League scoring charts (joint with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang), and had 13 goals in all competitions this season. 

Salah is deadly as part of the Liverpool attack, as his directness and eye for goal make him a handful for any defender. With the player in such hot form, United will have to pull out all the stops to keep him quiet. 

10. Marcus Rashford

The Wythenshawe born forward has been one of United’s few bright sparks over the last few weeks. Rashford is slowly starting to convince Mourinho that he should be a regular starter, and after being involved in eight goals in his 13 league matches, Jose should start to listen. 

His pace and directness can instil fear in any defender, and he’s always willing to try and make something happen for his side. 

11. Sadio Mane

Mane may be the most overlooked of Liverpool’s front three, but that doesn’t make him any less deadly. 

The winger can beat players at will with his pace and dribbling, and he has a keen eye for goal as well. Mane already has six league goals this season, and he’s had many chances to add to that tally. Given how poor United’s defence has been this season, the smart money says he’ll get a few more on Sunday. 


90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings: Week 15 – UEFA Champions League Group Stage Special

Welcome to another edition of 90min’s DEFINITIVE European Power Rankings. With the culmination of the Champions League group stage, we thought it would be apt to make this week’s list a UCL special. That means that teams absent from the competition are exempt, even those recently knocked out.  

We also thought it apt that the accompanying film quotes this week be provided by the works of the McDonagh brothers, Martin and John Michael, because, as the saying goes, and as Atletico Madrid found out, When In Bruges…

It will take into account not only the most recent round of action, but the group stage as a whole, and assess how these teams are shaping up for the knockout round. With 15 places available, there’s also room for one high profile exclusion. Stay tuned. 

15. Manchester United

“You know, if you hadn’t stopped coming to church you’d have a little bit more understanding of people’s feelings.” (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Let’s not beat about the bush, the team who’s missed out is Schalke 04, ok? Sorry, they’re just boring, alright? Ok. 

Right, now that’s dealt with, here’s Manchester United – a team only slightly more interesting than Schalke. Ever so slightly.

And that’s only because of the inevitable thrill that will come following United’s ignominious last 16 exit to Porto, and Jose Mourinho’s post-match combustion. Also, that Phil Jones own goal was genuinely world class. 

14. Porto

“You think I care about dentists?…I don’t care about dentists…Nobody cares about dentists.” (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MIssouri)

The top point scorers in the group, with five wins and one draw, how could we put them 14th?!?!?

Well, if you think we care about that, you’ve got another thing coming. Porto are the dentists of this Champions League campaign – there, we said it. 

Their group exploits have been sincerely impressive, but if you think they’re genuine contenders, at least after they’ve beat United in the last 16, then think again.

13. Ajax

“You will not get the crowd to cry hossana, until you ride into town on an ass – Nietzsche.” (The Guard)

That bewildering quote, which in the film is summoned to bewilder cops at a murder scene from realising that a killing was actually due to a drugs trade, ties in nicely with that bewildering night at the Amsterdam Arena. 

Nothing made sense, everything that could happen did happen, and in the end nothing came about or changed because of it. Absolutely bewildering. Ajax are definitely back though, I think. 

12. Roma

“All this anger, man, it just begets greater anger.” (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Yes, Roma will be angry with their final performance of the group stage, but last year’s semi finalists will have to dust that frustration off if they are to compete at a similar level this year. 

While a tough draw may await, the Romans have been faintly good this campaign, without being great, and could certainly spring a surprise or two, as long as they keep their emotions in check.

11. Lyon

Paulo: “Put your hands up.” Hans: “No.” P: “What?” H: “I said no.” P: “Why not?” H: “I don’t want to.” P: “But I’ve got a gun.” H: “I don’t care.” P: “That doesn’t make any sense.” H: “Too bad.” (Seven Psychopaths)

That charming exchange sounds a lot like Lyon’s two clashes with Manchester City in Europe this season.

They failed to bow to convention, upending Pep Guardiola’s gameplans time and again. In that spirit, they’ve proved that, in a one-off game, they could beat anyone. 

10. Tottenham

“I’ll take it as it comes, if it’s all the same to you.” (The Guard)

Some rival fans were lessening Tottenham’s last-gasp heroics at the Nou Camp, belittling them with pointers about the legitimacy of Barcelona’s starting XI. But Spurs will take it as it comes, as the quote says. 

As this is a man’s dying words, it may also double as a timely phrase for when Spurs inevitably draw Juventus in the last 16 and are subsequently battered, if it’s all the same to you. 

9. Real Madrid

“I was trying to rob him. And he took my gun from me. And the gun was full of blanks. And he shot a blank into my eye. And now I cannot see from this eye ever again, the doctors say.” (In Bruges)

That piece of inept attempted robbery sounds a lot like Real Madrid’s ventures against CSKA Moscow this season. 

I mean, that 3-0 loss at the Santiago Bernabeu was harrowing stuff, it really was. A fourth consecutive title is looking less and less likely, even if Europe has been their salvation this season – save for their Russian encounters.

8. Bayern Munich

“I used to hate history. It’s all a lot of stuff that’s already f*ckin’ happened.” (In Bruges)

Yes, Bayern’s clash with Ajax was great fun and everything, but it also must’ve been highly concerning for FC Hollywood. 

Because their script is turning more and more into a tragedy with every passing page. Akin to Real, Europe has been their saving grace this campaign amidst sincere domestic woes, but perhaps this most recent round of action showed the structural malaise that persists at the heart of both. 

7. Atletico Madrid

“A great day this has turned out to be. I’m suicidal, me mate tries to kill me, me gun gets nicked and we’re still in f*cking Bruges.” (In Bruges)

It’s weird. Diego Simeone actually kind of looks like Colin Farrell in ‘In Bruges’ here. It’s quite disconcerting. 

In any case, he certainly wouldn’t have disagreed with most of Farrell’s statements about the city of Bruges. True, not all of the above will apply – it’s only football, after all – but still, when you need a win in Bruges to top the group, and you don’t get in, it sticks like it would in no other European city. Because, well, it’s Bruges. 

6. Liverpool

“Ray, you’re about the worst tourist in the world.” (In Bruges)

Yes, Liverpool made it through. Yes, it was kind of an admirable performance. But Napoli still bottled it, and the Reds are still the same team who have lost every single away game they’ve played in Europe this season. 

They will surely be force in the rounds to come, but their poor record as tourists should be cause for concern.

5. Manchester City

Francis: “Name your favourite philosopher, and lo and behold he’s English.” Clive: “Bertrand Russell was Welsh.” F: Bertrand Russell was Welsh? You know I never knew that, didn’t think anybody interesting was Welsh.” (The Guard)

Lo and behold, Phil Foden and Leroy Sane aren’t welsh.

But they were both in sparkling form for Manchester City against Hoffenheim on Wednesday. Even if they’ve been momentarily toppled from the summit of the Premier League, City’s squad depth remains wholly enviable. 

A few performances like that from the youngsters, and David Silva may have a tougher time of it coming back than he would’ve thought. Again, David Silva, not Welsh, unfortunately. 

4. Paris Saint-Germain

“Is that real leather?” (The Guard)

Ahhh, Paris Saint-Germain – one big happy family. Well, that’s what I’ve heard. 

At the end of the day, whether the sentiments are real or not doesn’t really matter. As long as they keep putting together performances. Although, the thing about fake leather is, it never holds together as long as you think it will.

We’ll see how stern PSG’s is in good time. 

3. Borussia Dortmund

“It’s a kidnapped dog. You don’t just give back a kidnapped dog. Defeats the entire object of the kidnapping.” (Seven Psychopaths)

Jadon Sancho was given a well earned rest against AS Monaco on Tuesday night, when Borussia Dortmund clinched top spot in Group A. 

But, despite Sancho’s recent contract extension, rumours continue to circulate surrounding the possibility of him returning to Manchester City. Now, what would the point in that be? Doesn’t it defeat the entire point of signing a player?

Doesn’t it? Anyway, Dortmund are a definite threat this year. Definitely. 

2. Juventus

“That’s what I’ve always liked about you, Father. You’re just a little too smart for this parish.” (Calvary)

That right there certainly sums up Juventus’ predicament, if they do have one. Unfortunately, Serie A just isn’t strong enough for them right now, even with all the moves made by the Milanese clubs and Napoli in the summer. 

Wednesday night’s surprise loss at Young Boys showed the issues this can hold, and I Bianconeri will need to be wary of any subconscious complacency settling in. Their primary hopes this season depend on it. 

1. Barcelona

“It’s not often you come across that kind of integrity in this business.” (The Guard)

Not only did Barcelona honour Inter by scoring the first goal in an encounter many thought they would deliberately sabotage, they also offered an olive branch of a goal to Spurs at the last minute for their enduring efforts throughout the competition.

What good samaritans. And they’re certainly good this year, Barca. Frighteningly good. Frightening enough to top these prestigious (and DEFINITIVE) rankings from the group stage. They were unbeaten (in a real group, Porto, ok?) and have the (fifth) best player in the world. 

Ominously, frighteningly, GOOD. 


Transfer Rumours: Denis Suarez to Arsenal, Callum Hudson-Odoi to Bayern & More

January is soon, now. Very soon.

It’s just over a couple of weeks away, and that means the transfer window is coming with it. Get prepared for a truckload of stories on Jose Mourinho moaning (more of them, somehow), dozens of transfers being confirmed, and seemingly thousands of potential moves being discussed.

It can be a stressful and annoying time, but hopefully you’ll enjoy this little summary of the top transfer gossip from around the Premier League this Friday.

6. West Brom & Watford Interested as Cardiff Striker Is Set for Release

First of all, a big massive “don’t care” for anyone but Cardiff City, West Brom and Watford fans. Yes, all of you!

Bluebirds striker Ibrahim Meite is on his way out next month on a free transfer, according to the Mail, after making just two first team appearances since he joined in January 2017 – and both the Baggies and the Hornets have been credited with interest.

The likes of Saint-Etienne, Spartak Moscow and Hannover have also been talked up as potential destinations for the former Crawley loanee.

5. Wolves Deal for Leicester & Southampton Target Stalls

Wolves’ talks over a deal for Japanese midfielder Shoya Nakajima have stalled, leaving the deal in doubt, and in turn allowing Southampton or Leicester a shot at signing the player instead.

Record carry quotes from Rodiney Sampaio, president of Nakajima’s current club Portimonense, and he’s confirmed that there’s been a lack of progress on Wolves’ front in terms of completing a deal.

He said: “I said last week that there was a 20 percent gap to close the transfer of Nakajima to Wolverhampton and since then no steps have been taken so that other interested parties can come up with better conditions.”

He also explained that Wolves “do not have any priority and are open other possibilities”, while adding “one of them is the continuity of Nakajima until the end of the season. We believe he will play for Japan in the Asian Cup [next January], and he can value himself even more.”

4. Hudson-Odoi a ‘Serious Candidate’ for Bayern Munich

Among English football’s newest trends are Liverpool actually managing to convince people outside of their own fans that they’re actually good, and young English wingers going to the Bundesliga to absolutely smash it. 

See the Premier League table, Jadon Sancho and Reiss Nelson.

The latest young English winger linked with a move to Germany is Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi, who is notoriously very talented but struggling for game time under Maurizio Sarri. And SportBild journalist Christian Falk claims Bayern Munich are interested in signing him.

Arjen Robben will leave in the summer, Franck Ribery too, most likely, so regeneration is needed – and Falk has tweeted that Hudson-Odoi is a “serious candidate” to step in. If they can get him, of course.

3. Barcelona Set Bargain £14m Price for Arsenal & Chelsea Target Denis Suarez

Barcelona have offered Denis Suarez to Arsenal, as the Gunners seek out a long-term replacement for departing midfielder Aaron Ramsey.

Suarez has been barely used by Ernesto Valverde over the course of the season and could be tempted by north London if Arsenal want him, as he’s already spent some time playing under Unai Emery at Sevilla.

The Independent report that Suarez has been offered to a range of clubs – Chelsea have been linked too recently – and could cost as little as £14m.

2. Newcastle & Man City Tracking Japanese Winger Ritsu Doan

Newcastle have taken a look at 20-year-old Japanese winger Ritsu Doan ahead of next month’s January transfer window.

Doan, who plays in the Dutch Eredivisie with Groningen, has a price tag of £1.7m – a figure of money that most of us likely have forgotten even existed in today’s market – and Newcastle are reported to have a chance of signing him as they’re able to offer regular football. Man City, another linked club, most likely can’t, given they’re a better football team and that.

Chronicle Live carry the story, citing sources in Holland themselves.

Doan is an international teammate of Yoshinori Muto, and has three caps for the Japanese senior team so far. He was also on this year’s Kopa Trophy shortlist along with Kylian Mbappe and Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold.

1. Galatasaray President Flies to England to Try to Sell 18-Year-Old to United, Obviously

Galatasaray president Mustafa Cengiz has met with Manchester United over a potential deal for 18-year-old centre back Ozan Kabak.

(Yes, Manchester United have been linked with another centre back. I’m counting at least 42 so far this year. Honest. Proof to come soon).

Turkish source Aksam, via M.E.N., claim Cengiz flew to England for discussions, and he’s chasing a €20m fee from United. Man City and Arsenal have been linked too in recent weeks.

The question remains though – is that top centre back that’ll solve all of United’s issues in Jose Mourinho’s eyes an 18-year-old kid from Turkey? 

No, obviously.

Not familiar with the name, though? Check out a few things to know about Ozan Kabak just here.