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Mourinho gives update on Ibrahimovic’s future, transfer plans

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Jose Mourinho believes Manchester United’s top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be around next season.

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Ibrahimovic, 35, has a deal which runs out in the summer but Mourinho has stated multiple times that he believes the Swedish striker will stay at Old Trafford for another season.

Speaking ahead of United’s clash with Watford on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) Mourinho is defiant Ibra will remain in Manchester.

“I’m totally convinced that he is going to stay. He came with the intention of staying two years,” Mourinho said. “We are going to try to share with him in a fantastic way probably the last year of his career at the highest level. He came with the intention of two years and has been better than every expectation – maybe apart from his own. He knows we will try and improve next season for what will be the last year of his career at the highest level. I am convinced he is staying. No problem with his family. I offer him extra days off to go to Sweden, he never goes.”

It is likely Zlatan, who has scored 15 PL goals this season, has offers on the table from elsewhere to finish off his playing days. Perhaps Major League Soccer or the Chinese Super League from 2018 onwards?

Wherever he ends up, Mourinho doesn’t expect plenty of ins and outs in the summer.

United’s Executive Chairman Ed Woodward revealed record revenue levels on Thursday as their quarterly financial report was released and he stated that there wouldn’t be much “churn” in the playing squad this summer.

Mourinho had to look up what churn meant but has added it to his vocabulary and agrees with Woodward that United’s transfer policy will be as follows.

“We know that we have a squad that like every squad needs changes, but we know also that our squad has potential. Our squad has good players, many of them in their best age of evolution,” Mourinho said. “It is not our philosophy, independent of the numbers, if we can spend 10 or 100 million. Independent of the numbers it is also the philosophy, the idea, we look at it in this way. We prefer to bring two, three, four players, but good players, players that feel an idea of football that we try to to play and improve our squad.

“We are not interested in selling six or seven and buy six or seven and from this six or seven only one or two or of the quality of the others we are selling. We are stable. We think that our market in the summer will be soft, natural. Some players to leave, some players to come but in a very natural way.”

There you go.

Expect a soft, natural summer transfer window, United fans. Cue the “Antoine Griezmann to United for $130 million” and “Six stars heading to United” reports.

In all seriousness, Mourinho is right. United probably need a new center back, right back and maybe left back, while also a strong defensive presence in midfield and a new striker to eventually replace Ibra should be top of the list. Apart from that, they’re good.

With Mourinho’s United looked solid as rock after going 15 games unbeaten in the Premier League, if they do finish in the top four (currently they’re two points outside of it) then that will obviously help them attract a better caliber of players.

Then again, with the financial figures we saw released earlier this week it’s clear to see their spending power remains untouched by a relatively dormant period on the pitch.

Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

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PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alex Sanchez this weekend ]

The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”

His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”

Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.

Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.

In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.

He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

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Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.

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The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.

“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.

“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”

Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.