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Mourinho reveals reason for Shaw’s absence; Zlatan on his future

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Luke Shaw‘s career at Manchester United has stalled this season.

[ MORE: Conte v Mourinho brewing ]

Shaw, 21, joined the Red Devils as a teenager in the summer of 2014 from Southampton and at that time the left back became the most-expensive teenager in the world after moving for over $37 million.

However, after impressing at Old Trafford his fitness was called into question by Louis Van Gaal and then he suffered a horrendous leg break in the UEFA Champions League at PSV Eindhoven which cost him the entire 2015-16 campaign.

Since Mourinho arrived at United, Shaw has not been first choice at left back with Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian and others used in that position.

“The only thing I can say is that Luke is working well,” Mourinho said. “I don’t have any problem and he’s working well. He’s fighting hard, there is no problem with him. He has to work and wait.”

Mourinho also revealed that Darmian has been on the bench ahead of Shaw recently as he only wants one defender among his substitutes and with Darmian able to play in both full back slots, he is included ahead of Shaw. With Mourinho’s comments about Shaw’s fitness in November following a win at Swansea City, plus appearing to criticize his display in the 3-1 defeat at Watford in September, the England international has been on the outside looking in.

Yet, with a congested fixture schedule coming up — United play against St. Etienne in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 first leg on Thursday, Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup on Sunday, then the return leg at St. Etienne on Feb. 22 and the EFL Cup final against Southampton at Wembley on Feb. 26 — Shaw could get plenty of minutes under his belt.

He needs them to regain his form, match fitness and kick on his extremely promising career as the best marauding left back in Europe 21 and under. He has the talent. He just has to stay fit and impress Mourinho. That’s the tough part.


Staying with United, the future of their top scorer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, appears to still be up in the air.

Ibrahimovic, 35, has scored 20 goals in 34 games in all competitions for United this season, but his contract expires at the end of this season.

The Swedish striker has revealed he has met the terms of triggering a new one-year deal to his current contract and Mourinho has confirmed multiple times that United plan to keep the veteran forward at Old Trafford for another season.

Speaking to the media, Zlatan joked when asked if he’d met the extension clause in terms of goals and appearances.

“Something like that. I have to score 100 goals,” Ibrahimovic said. “The option is already fulfilled. But there’s nothing done yet. From my side. We’ll wait and see. Let’s see what happens.”

So, Ibrahimovic seems a little coy but he certainly seems to have enough in the tank for another season at United. He’s already proved all of his critics wrong who said he couldn’t cut it in the PL after spending his entire career away from England’s top-flight before this season.

But after proving his quality, should he walk at the end of this season after winning a trophy or three (Europa League, EFL Cup and FA Cup still up for grabs) plus finishing in the top four, or better, of the Premier League?

Man City into League Cup final (video)

Nick Potts/PA via AP
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  • City outshoots Bristol 28-5
  • Sane, Aguero put MCFC up 2-0
  • Pack, Kent pulls two back for Bristol
  • De Bruyne answers in stoppage
  • City wins 5-3 on aggregate

A pair of late goals put a scare into Man City, but the Premier League leaders scored just before and right after halftime to insure its first leg lead en route to a 3-2 win over Bristol City at Ashton Gate Stadium on Tuesday.

City wins 5-3 on aggregate in the League Cup semifinal, with Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane, and Kevin De Bruyne scoring in the second leg.

Pep Guardiola moves to within 90 minutes of his first significant title as Man City boss, and will face either Chelsea or Arsenal on Feb. 25 at Wembley Stadium.

Marlon Pack and Aden Flint scored for Bristol City.

[ MORE: Full stats, box score ]

Sane scored in the 43rd minute and Sergio Aguero struck less than four minutes after the teams returned from the halftime break.

An errant John Stones clearance helped Bristol to the scoreboard in the 64th minute, with Pack scoring the goal.

Flint then nodded home in stoppage time to give the Robins hope for a miracle win, but new contract hero De Bruyne scored within a minute to burn those hopes to the ground.

Bristol would be in the Football League Championship playoffs if the season ended now, sitting in fifth place.

Midfielder Lassana Diarra joins PSG on short-term deal

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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain has made its first signing of the winter transfer window by hiring midfielder Lassana Diarra on a short-term deal until June 2019.

The 32-year-old holding midfielder will once again try to revive his career in the French league after a successful stint at PSG’s bitter rival, Marseille, that ended last year.

The much-traveled Diarra, who was born in Paris, then played for a few months with United Arab Emirates club Al Jazira.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Diarra, a former Chelsea, Arsenal and Real Madrid player, won English and Spanish league titles in 2006 and 2012. He has 34 caps for France and featured at the European Championship in 2008.

His strong performances with Marseille earned him a recall from France, but he eventually pulled out of Didier Deschamps’ squad for Euro 2016 because of a left knee injury.

“I am very happy to have signed for my hometown club,” Diarra said. “Paris Saint-Germain represents a lot to me and, with the international dimension the club has taken in recent seasons, it is every player’s dream to play here. I am lucky enough to make this dream come true.”

Diarra joined on a free transfer and his signing won’t affect PSG’s bank accounts, which are under UEFA’s scrutiny.

PSG is under pressure to sell players to balance the books after splashing out 402 million euros ($473 million) on forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe last year. That led to Qatari-owned PSG being placed under investigation by UEFA for potential breaches of Financial Fair Play rules.

Palace adds again with towering Polish center back

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Crystal Palace is delivering on Roy Hodgson‘s depth demands at injury-hit Selhurst Park.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

A day after signing Erdal Rakip on loan from Benfica, the South London set has added big Polish center back Jaroslaw Jach on a permanent deal.

Jach, 23, comes from Zagłębie Lubin and has played 17 matches, scoring a goal for the fifth place side in Poland’s Ekstraklasa. Like Palace, he’s risen through the lower leagues to reach Poland’s top flight and now the Premier League.

Jach was capped twice by Poland in November, going 180 minutes in a 1-0 loss to Mexico and a scoreless draw with Uruguay

Here’s Jach, from CPFC.co.uk:

“I know it is the club from south London and has an outstanding manager, Roy Hodgson, who led team England in the past,” he added. “Every game is a sell-out which is one of the greatest things, and I have also heard that even though there are many clubs in London, the biggest derby games for fans are those with Brighton, which makes it one of the biggest games in the season. I hope one day I will be able to win such a game.”

LIVE, League Cup semi: Bristol City host Man City

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Bristol City host Manchester City in the second leg of their League Cup semifinal on Tuesday, with the Robins 2-1 down from the first leg at the Etihad Stadium.

The winner will play either Arsenal or Chelsea in the final at Wembley, with the London rivals locked at 0-0 as they play their second leg at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

[ LIVE: Follow Bristol City-Man City ]

Lee Johnson’s Bristol City are the heavy underdogs, once again, but their fairytale run in the League Cup has seen them oust four Premier League opponents previously in Watford, Stoke City, Crystal Palace and Manchester United. Surely the runaway Premier League leaders won’t be Bristol City’s next scalp…

Pep Guardiola has named a strong starting lineup as he aims to reach his first domestic cup final as Man City boss, with Claudio Bravo replacing Ederson in goal the only major change.

Bristol City, who sit in fifth place in England’s second-tier, five points off the automatic promotion spots, have two absentees with goalkeeper Frank Fielding missing out, while defender Nathan Baker is only on the bench after late fitness tests.

We are all just waiting (and hoping) for Bristol City to score so they can put up an awesome goal GIF…

Click on the link above to follow the action live, while below are the starting lineups for both teams. We will have analysis and reaction on the semifinal second leg right here on Pro Soccer Talk.

LINEUPS

Bristol City: Steele, Wright, Flint, Magnusson, Brownhill, Pack, Smith, Walsh, Bryan, Paterson, Reid. Subs: Wollacott, Baker, Eliasson, Kent, Engvall, Taylor, Diedhiou

Manchester City: Bravo; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Zinchenko; Fernandinho; Bernardo, Silva, De Bruyne, Sane; Aguero. Subs: Ederson, Danilo, Kompany, Sterling, Gundogan, Mangala, Yaya Toure