How can Man United get the best out of Sanchez?


Manchester United’s stunning comeback win against Crystal Palace on Monday saw Romelu Lukaku step up, while Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata were influential off the bench in their second half fight rally.

But where was Alexis Sanchez?

[ MORE: Mourinho happy with comeback

The Chilean star, 29, cut a frustrated figure throughout the first half as he started out on the left and failed to impact the game. In the second half he was pushed into the middle to play behind Lukaku and although he saw more of the ball, Sanchez gave the ball away on 34 occasions (more than any other player on the pitch) and failed to assert himself on the game as we often saw with Arsenal over the past three years.

That’s been the case for most of his first few weeks at United.

Following his eagerly anticipated arrival from Arsenal in January (he arrived at Old Trafford via a swap with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and signed the largest contract in club history) Sanchez has scored one goal in eight outings and that was a tap in after his penalty kick against Huddersfield Town was saved. He has added two assists across those eight games.

The main reasons for the lack of offensive output is because Mourinho doesn’t seem to know where to play Sanchez. He’s often started on the left then found himself pushed inside and there’s an argument to be made that he’s actually much more effective as a central striker than a wide man.

It will be intriguing to see where he starts against Liverpool on Saturday (Watch live, 7: 30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via, or if he starts at all given his poor display against Palace. He will likely start but if Jesse Lingard, Rashford or Anthony Martial put in that kind of display, they would not start the next game. Fact.

Sanchez played primarily up top for Arsenal in the 2016-17 season and he scored 30 goals and added 19 assists in 51 games in all competitions. That is incredibly productive and he kept Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck out of the team as he made the central striker role his own.

The main issue is that Romelu Lukaku, Rashford and even Zlatan Ibrahimovic are ahead of him in the pecking order in the center forward role at United and even though Mourinho may now use him more in a central area as a No.10, he is at his best when he is creating chances in the final third and running at defenders in the penalty box.

Right now Sanchez is doing most of his work 40 yards from goal and Mourinho must find a way to get him more involved further up the pitch.

Then again, with Sanchez a willing runner and never shying away from his defensive responsibilities, United’s more defensive approach compared to Arsenal’s free-flowing attacking play may be the real issue here. Mourinho may not want to upset the balance of his team and with Lukaku well on track to reach 30 goals in all competitions, perhaps he is happy with less goals and assists from Sanchez.

Either way, United need to figure out how to get the best out of Sanchez and that could well be playing him up top alongside or just underneath Lukaku.

Battle-tested United could turn attention to Neymar this summer

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Last summer’s drama surrounding Neymar could be nothing compared to what is in store for the Brazilian in 2018.

[ MORE: LA Galaxy announces Zlatan Ibrahimovic ]

Diario Gol is reporting that Manchester United is exploring the possibility of making a bid for Neymar this summer, which would come at a record fee for the Premier League side.

The report suggests United would be willing to pay over $367 million for the Paris Saint-Germain star, while possibly sending Paul Pogba to the French giants in the swap.

Neymar, who joined PSG in 2017 after a messy ending at Barcelona, has been heavily linked to his former’s side bitter rival Real Madrid

Man United boss Jose Mourinho is reportedly keen on the move for Neymar after the club’s signing of Alexis Sanchez didn’t live up to the billing.

The Chilean international has scored just once in 10 appearances for the Red Devils, and Mourinho has let it be known that he wasn’t pleased with the player after United crashed out of the UEFA Champions League against Sevilla.

Meanwhile, Pogba’s relationship with the Portuguese manager has been anything but steady in their time together at Old Trafford, making the reality of the French midfielder leaving Manchester a strong one.

Nothing has been indicated for certain that Neymar will leave PSG following the World Cup in Russia, but all signs are pointing to the currently-injured attacker moving from the Parc des Princes.

Report: Conte, Pirlo could spearhead Italy managerial team

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Various nations are still mourning their failure of missing out on the 2018 World Cup, but arguably none bigger than powerhouse Italy.

[ MORE: Premier League player power rankings ]

The Azzurri, who lost to Sweden in a UEFA playoff series in 2017, will not take part in soccer’s most-prestigious competition in Russia for the first time since 1958.

Former manager Gian Piero Ventura has received heavy criticism for the nation’s failure, and stepped down from his role as head coach immediately after Italy’s dismissal from World Cup qualifying.

A familiar face could now be in line to replace Ventura though, as Football Italia reports that Chelsea manager Antonio Conte could make a return to the Azzurri.

Conte remains under contract at Stamford Bridge, however, Chelsea’s dip in form this season after winning the title in 2016/17 has many speculating that the Italian won’t survive to coach the Blues next year.

Meanwhile, Italian legend Andrea Pirlo has also expressed his interest in joining the technical staff if Conte is appointed.

The two have a close history together from their days with the national team and at Juventus.

In addition to Conte, Carlo Ancelotti is reportedly being considered for the job as well, and Pirlo is believed to be willing to join the managerial staff is the former Bayern Munich coach is hired.

Former Sevilla player Diego Capel training with Sounders

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A former Sevilla star is training in MLS, as the veteran midfielder looks to continue his career stateside.

Diego Capel was spotted training with the Seattle Sounders on Thursday, despite club manager Brian Schmetzer initially playing coy on who the player was.

[ MORE: Where does Zlatan rank in MLS superstar signings? ]

“We have a player that’s in camp,” Schmetzer said. “He’s a good player. He’s probably worn the number 10 in his career. Maybe as a youth player. Maybe it’s just a player borrowing Nico’s jersey.”

The Sounders have suffered several major injuries in their attack to start the 2018 MLS season, which also contributed to the team’s derailment in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

While Capel traditionally has played on the wing throughout his career, the Sounders could use all the help they can get in the attacking third.

Jordan Morris has already been ruled out for the season with an ACL tear, while Nicolas Lodeiro and Will Bruin are currently sidelined for the club with respective injuries.

Capel came up through the ranks of Sevilla, while also playing for notable European sides such as Sporting Lisbon and Anderlecht.

The 30-year-old last played for the Belgian side in 2017, but has been a free agent since.

Int’l friendlies: Lingard guides England; Colombia tops France

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A roundup of Friday’s international friendlies….

England suffered an early setback in Holland after Joe Gomez limped off the pitch with an injury. However, the Three Lions bounced back with a 1-0 victory when Jesse Lingard struck after halftime.

[ MORE: USMNT reveals new kits ahead of Paraguay friendly ]

A drastic second-half turnaround for Colombia gave the South American side a 3-2 victory over France. Olivier Giroud and Thomas Lemar had Les Bleus out in front in the first half with a 2-0 lead, but the Colombians responded with three unanswered finishes to grab the win.

Mohamed Salah‘s second-half strike wasn’t enough to pace Egypt due to Cristiano Ronaldo’s late brace for Portugal (his 80th and 81st international goals), while Victor Moses‘ penalty kick helped Nigeria top Poland.

Meanwhile, Brazil picked up a convincing 3-0 win over this summer’s hosts Russia. Barcelona teammates Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho each scored in the second half, after Miranda opened the scoring for the Selecao.

Germany and Spain settled for an exciting 1-1 draw, while Argentina topped Italy, 2-0, without Lionel Messi or Sergio Aguero in the lineup.

Below are all the scores from today’s friendlies involving teams that will play in Russia this summer.

Portugal 2-1 Egypt
Argentina 2-0 Italy
Germany 1-1 Spain
Netherlands 0-1 England
Poland 0-1 Nigeria
Scotland 0-1 Costa Rica
France 2-3 Colombia
Uruguay 2-0 Czech Republic
Japan 1-1 Mali
Russia 0-3 Brazil
Saudi Arabia 1-1 Ukraine
Greece 0-1 Switzerland
Tunisia 1-0 Iran
Serbia 1-2 Morocco
Peru vs. Croatia — 8:30 p.m. ET
Mexico vs. Iceland — 10 p.m. ET