If Manchester United want Paul Pogba back, they’ll need to pay $100m

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Back in 2012, Manchester United allowed Paul Pogba’s contract to run out, which meant Juventus were able to snap him up on a free transfer. Now, if the Red Devils want Pogba back, they’re going to have to fork over a cool £60m ($100m) to secure his services.

According to a report in The Guardian, United have made repeated attempts to convince Juve to sell Pogba back to the Premier League side. He was part of David Moyes’ plans to revamp the ailing midfield, plans that never really got off the ground. But is Pogba worth such a huge fee, especially to incoming manager Louis van Gaal?

It’s nearly impossible to argue that, on talent alone, Pogba does not command a fee of $100m or more. The 21-year-old is a fantastic player, and it’s almost hard to believe that he’s only going to get better in time. It’s not only his physicality that has clubs wooing him – once he brushes an opponent off the ball, he’ll turn around and make a dangerous run into the box, leaving a stunned defense in his wake.

And once his talent is on full display with France in Brazil, his asking price could very well rise. So what would be stopping Manchester United from digging into their pockets and paying the fee?

Pride, for one thing. Earlier this year, Pogba accused United of “disrespect” for the way the club behaved in his final weeks with the team. There’s no guarantee that Pogba won’t be a disruptive force on a side that’s in desperate need of smooth sailing.

It’s also not known just how keen Pogba is to move. While United believe he’d be open to a return (despite his accusations of disrespect) his agent has insisted the Frenchman is happy in Turin. Juventus, for their part, have insisted they intend to keep Pogba at the club.

All in all, it sounds highly unlikely that Paul Pogba will make a return to Old Trafford.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia