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Keane, Ronaldo love-in over? Man Utd legend urges Ten Hag to ‘put marker down’ – ‘Off you go’

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Keane slammed by pundit

Manchester United legend Roy Keane has urged new manager Erik ten Hag to ‘put a marker down’ at the club with his handling of Cristiano Ronaldo this month.

Ronaldo has been angling for a departure from Old Trafford as he’s desperate to be playing for a Champions League club.


READ MORE: Big Weekend: Arsenal and Palace kick off season but Lampard, Man United need more time


The striker was absent for the majority of preseason, reportedly for ‘family reasons’, returning after showdown talks with Ten Hag for the 1-1 draw with Rayo Vallecano.

But reports suggest the Portugal international still wants to leave the club this summer, but is struggling for interested parties, and his decision to leave his only preseason game at half time didn’t go down well with the United boss.

An injury to Anthony Martial has increased the chances of Ronaldo featuring in the season opener against Brighton on Sunday, though Ten Hag remains coy on his chances.

Keane is often Ronaldo’s biggest fan, going head to head with Jamie Carragher on United’s decision to bring the goalscorer back to the club, and claiming earlier this year that he would score 50 goals if he played for one of their Premier League rivals.

But the United hero says he would now allow Ronaldo to leave if they get some of their money back, claiming Ten Hag can send a message to the rest of his squad through his handling of the situation.

“We don’t know what Ronaldo’s behaviour is like now that he is back in training,” Keane told Sky Sports. “Missing pre-season, obviously we have been told it is family issues, if that’s the case then so be it.

“If it is downed tools then that is unacceptable. But I don’t think it’s such a big deal as everyone’s making [it] out [to be]. When you’re a manager, you don’t put up the trouble, trouble comes your way.

“So this has come to the manager in front of him and he has got to deal with it, but I think he can put a marker down and say to Ronaldo next week or two, and he’s got takers and if the deal works for United they will probably want some money back.

“Go: ‘Yeah if you want to go to Lisbon then off you go’, and the other players are looking and going ‘Okay short-term we will miss him, but in the bigger picture we are trying to rebuild’, because Manchester United aren’t competing for league titles I don’t think for two or three years.”

Ten Hag was asked about Ronaldo leaving the Rayo Vallecano draw in his press conference on Friday, and bemoaned the focus on one player when others made the same decision.

“Now I have to point – those who left but there were many players who left, but the spotlight is on Cristiano and that is not right,” Ten Hag said.

“So I think then do your research and make out many players left, that was what was said.

“Good, but I don’t understand what is the relation. He was part of it. Again, there were a lot of players.”

There have been lots of teams linked with Ronaldo, though no club – except one based in Saudi Arabia – have offered the player a way out of Old Trafford.

Asked about Ronaldo’s position at the club, Ten Hag said: “I’m really happy.

“I told you before, we plan with the season (with him). We have a top striker and I’m really happy he’s here, he’s in the squad and we stick to that plan.”

On if the Portuguese striker will start against Brighton, Ten Hag responded: “We will see on Sunday.”

When asked if he is concerned about his lack of options up front, Ten Hag said he is still hoping to bring in more new recruits before the transfer window closes.

“We said before: we are still searching to strengthen the squad.”

The 52-year-old also confirmed the reports claiming that Martial will miss Sunday’s game: “Yes. It is always difficult to say with injuries [how long he will be out for]. I hope it is not for too long.”

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Lionel Messi needed just 8 mins of 2022-23 to invent a new type of assist

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Lionel Messi needed just 8 mins of 2022-23 to invent a new type of assist

It’s often worth consulting a flowchart when asking yourself football questions. 

Did that player know what he was doing leaving a leg in like that? -> Was it Sergio Ramos? -> Yes.

Why on earth did he choose to backheel it there? -> Was it Guti? -> Because: Guti. Why wouldn’t he choose to backheel it there?  

Did that player mean to pull off that utterly outrageous thing we’ve never seen before? -> Was it Lionel Messi? -> Of course he meant it. It’s Messi.

You should know by now. Never question Messi. Not now, not ever.

For almost two decades, the Argentinian has been doing ridiculous things with a football. Yet 332 assists and 772 goals into his dazzling career, he’s still finding new ways to surprise us.

He needed just eight minutes of the new season to remind us that we’re blessed to witness greatness in front of our very own eyes.

On first glance, it wasn’t a remarkable goal. Pablo Sarabia finding space and cutting the ball back, the ball swerving past Messi and into the path of Neymar, who took a touch before drilling it home into the bottom corner. Nice enough, but nothing to write home about.

PSG will probably score a hundred goals just like it this season as they cruise to yet another Ligue 1 title.

But wait for the replay. What’s this? Messi touched it – and in doing so set the ball up at a perfect height for Neymar to control it and take on the shot.

Were this any other player on the planet, you’d probably chalk it down to a stroke of luck. A miscontrol that ended up in just the right place.

Indeed, were this Messi midway through last season, we’d probably be saying the same thing. Whisper it, but for much of his first season in the French capital, he looked ordinary. For the first time in his career.

By January, he’d only scored one league goal – doing so from 44 shots.

Taking time to adapt to a new environment, a new club and new team-mates showed that Messi is human after all, to deploy the cliche to end all cliches for the very player it was designed for.

• • • •

READ: The 5 players with the most assists for Lionel Messi goals: Suarez, Xavi…

• • • •

He has admitted he didn’t find it easy last year in Paris.

“When I was halfway there, the Real Madrid thing happened and that killed us,” Messi told Argentinian broadcaster TYC Sports in May.

“It killed me and the whole locker room in general and all of Paris because we had this big dream in that competition. And the way it happened, the game, the result… it was a gut punch.”

He also revealed he struggled to recover from Covid-19.

“It left me with after effects. It left me with after effects in my lungs. I came back and it was like a month and a half without even being able to run because my lungs were affected.”

Could it be? Might Messi finally be on the wane?

The answer to that question is in one glorious touch. Here, we’ve slowed it down for you.

 

You know it wasn’t a fluke because Messi is looking back to his best once again.

He followed that assist up with two goals, including a superb overhead kick, to cap off a 5-0 victory away to Clermont Foot.

The 35-year-old scored and looked exceptionally sharp in the curtain-raising Super Cup victory over Nantes and seems to have picked up where he left off in the summer, when he scored five goals against Estonia and absolutely ran the show in a virtuoso performance against Italy in the Finalissma at Wembley.

And after a slow start to life at PSG, things are beginning to click into place. In fact, only team-mate Kylian Mbappe has registered more assists in Europe’s top five leagues in 2022.

Peak Messi is capable of impossible things. Never question him.

By Nestor Watach


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Chelsea ‘work on deals’ for £84.5m duo as Tuchel ‘insists’ on improved Fofana bid

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Reported Chelsea target Wesley Fofana during a match

Thomas Tuchel is reportedly ‘insisting on another bid for Wesley Fofana’, with Chelsea said to be £10m short of Leicester’s valuation for the centre-back.

Tuchel is looking to bolster his defence before the close of the transfer window and Fofana has emerged as his top target.


READ MORE: Ten Hag makes his Winners and Losers debut as Gerrard and Liverpool keep him company


Reports suggest Chelsea have had two bids of £63m and just over £70m turned down and are preparing a third.

The 21-year-old is said to be keen on a move to Stamford Bridge and the Independent claim the Blues are £10m short of agreeing a deal, suggesting a bid of around £80m would be enough to persuade he Foxes to part with their prized asset.

Brendan Rodgers has said Fofana, like James Maddison, is not for sale, but sources close to the club claim the financical strife they find themselves in means one of the two will likely have to leave.

Tuchel is ‘insisting’ on an improved bid to get the deal done, while the report claims Chelsea owner Todd Boehly is also ‘working on deals for Frenkie de Jong and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’.

Manchester United agreed a £71m fee with Barcelona for De Jong last month, but the midfielder has dug his heels in over his deferred salary and reticence to leave the Nou Camp for Old Trafford.

On Sunday, Barcelona president Joan Laporta reiterated a desire to keep De Jong and the player’s desire to stay at the club.

Laporta said: “Frenkie de Jong is a Barcelona player of great quality and we want him to stay. With him and his teammates, we have a very powerful midfield.

“He has offers, but we want him to stay and he wants to stay too.”

But multiple reports have suggested that if De Jong does end up leaving the Nou Camp, Chelsea would be his preferred destination, and Blues chiefs are still said to be in talks with the Dutchman’s representatives.

And Aubameyang –  valued at £13.5m by Transfermarkt – emerged as a target last week as Tuchel looks to bring a striker in to lead the line and score the goals that have been hard to come by for too long.

Tuchel spoke of the need for Chelsea to bring in young talent like Fofana after their 1-0 win over Everton on Saturday, a game in which his back three of Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and new signing Kalidou Koulibaly had a combined age of 100.

“Azpi is the legend that he is, Thiago is in the moment still very important to us and when we had the chance to sign Kalidou we did it because we believe that he has some years ahead of him,” the German boss said.

“But in general it is the fact that like the goalkeeper and the double sixes are in their thirties, and that is just what it is. Pace is an issue and speed is an issue. In all signings, this is the demand of the game that you can play one on ones, that you can defend space if needed with high-speed runs.

“It is a lot of experience, it is maybe another of age – it is a lot of experience and they have their quality and they know what they are doing. We also need to make sure we have a new generation to take over in the next years but the guys are strong that is why they are under contract and the guys have our trust.

“There needs to be [balance]. I think it is necessary. The game in general is very physical and demands a lot. This is the situation. We knew it before.”

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McTominay ‘interesting Juventus’ as swap deal emerges for £15.3m Man Utd target

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Ten Hag McTominay Man Utd

Manchester United star Scott McTominay is ‘interesting Juventus’ amid multiple reports of the Red Devils’ interest in Adrien Rabiot.

The former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder is entering the final 12 months of his contract with the Serie A side and has been linked with both Chelsea and Arsenal this summer.


READ MORE: Ten Hag makes his Winners and Losers debut as Gerrard and Liverpool keep him company


And David Ornstein of The Athletic claimed on Monday that the 27-year-old has ’emerged as a leading option’ for United as they look to bolster their midfield options.

It’s not clear whether they will chase Rabiot irrespective of their pursuit of Frenkie de Jong, or if they will wait to see if they can tie up a deal for the Barcelona star before making a decision on the France international.

They would also need to agree personal terms with Rabiot – valued by Transfermarkt at £15.3m – who is ‘high among a number of candidates’.

And Italian outlet JuveDipendenza, who picked up on United’s interest in Rabiot on Sunday evening before other outlets, also claim McTominay could move in the other direction.

The Scotland international, who came through the youth ranks at United, is ‘interesting Juventus’, according to the report.

McTominay has divided opinion throughout his United career and came under fire after Erik ten Hag’s first game as manager on Sunday.

United fell to a 2-1 defeat to Brighton, and both McTominay and midfield partner Fred were heavily criticised for their performances as the Seagulls opened them up with ease in the first half at Old Trafford.

Club legends Roy Keane and Paul Scholes were adamant after the game that their former club need to significantly improve in central midfield.

Keane told Sky Sports: “The decision making and the football intelligence, in particular from Fred – and I’ve said this for a long time – Fred and McTominay are not good enough. They won’t get Manchester United back competing at the top.

“We see it week in, week out. [They are] not up to it.”

Scholes described the first half showing against Brighton as “shambolic” before agreeing with his former teammate.

He told Premier League Productions: “The quality in the middle of the pitch was really poor.

“I was happy he [McTominay] didn’t get sent-off [for a late challenge], but I think he was slightly lucky. Again, he’s running with the ball, absolutely ridiculous. The quality in the middle of the pitch was nowhere near good enough, but we have seen that for the last few years with these two players.

“With Fred and McTominay, he [Ten Hag] is going to have to play just one of them [moving forward] but even one of them is probably too many. Fred gives the ball away all the time and McTominay tries run with it constantly and then gives it away. Pass it to your best players…

“It’s not that difficult. It’s criminal on a day like today [Sunday afternoon].”

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