Victor Lindelof

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UEFA Champions League Weds. preview: Chelsea, Man Utd look to break out

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Only one of 16 teams was held off the score sheet on Tuesday. Could the same level of entertainment reach the UEFA Champions League a day later?

Two more Premier League teams take the pitch on Wednesday, with Manchester United facing its stiffest test of the group stage and Chelsea with a tricky visit from AS Roma.

[ MORE: Champions League Tues. wrap ]

Manchester United has a significant challenge in Benfica, and may need a man familiar with the Estadio da Luz to help them out. Center back Eric Bailly remains out for United, which could bring Victor Lindelof into the fold to help stop Haris Seferovic, Gabriel Barbosa, Raul Jimenez, and especially Jonas.

Coming off a sleepy weekend draw versus Liverpool in an underwhelming derby, United will take on a desperate Benfica team which is traditionally strong but lost at home to CSKA Moscow and was crushed in Switzerland by Basel.

(AP Photo/Armando Franca)

Speaking of the need to rebound, Chelsea’s loss to Crystal Palace still has many scratching their heads. Fortunately, Roma is also in a mini-funk after a weekend loss to Napoli that ended a five-match winning streak.

There’s a reunion for Antonio Rudiger inside Stamford Bridge with Roma in town. I Lupi has been pretty one-dimensional in terms of offense, with ex-Man City man and reigning Serie A capocannoniere winner Edin Dzeko. He’s scored eight times in nine matches for Roma this season.

Full Wednesday UCL schedule
All kickoffs at 2:45 p.m. ET except where indicated

Qarabag vs. Atletico Madrid — Noon ET
Anderlecht vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Benfica vs. Manchester United
Juventus vs. Sporting Lisbon
Barcelona vs. Olympiacos
Chelsea vs. Roma
Bayern Munich vs. Celtic
CSKA Moscow vs. Basel

Jose Mourinho: Neymar transfer “changed everything”

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Jose Mourinho is patting himself on the back for getting his transfer business done early in the window.

Manchester United spent a reported $190 million on signing Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof, but Mourinho believes that the club would have had to spend even more had the transfers come after Neymar’s $260 million move.

[ MORE: Full lineups, PL stats, box scores ]

“I think we were very clever,” Mourinho told the Times UK. “We thought that something could happen that could change the market forever. Normally the last part of the market is less expensive, but this season, after Neymar [left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record £199 million deal], everything changed — and changed for the worse in terms of prices. I think Lukaku on August 31 would have been £150 million. Matic would have been £60 million or £70 million. Neymar changed everything. If the biggest transfer in history had still been Pogba, I think Philippe Coutinho [the Liverpool playmaker] would now be in Barcelona at £101 million.

“People look to the £200 million figure now. Now the players of £20 million became £40 million, the players of £40 million became £60 million and everything changed. Lukaku and Matic, now, would have cost us £200 million in total. But because we did it in the first part of the summer, it was much less. I think we did well in financial terms and well in preparation terms, getting them before the season started. That is not crucial but it is important.”

Mourinho has a right to be happy about his work in the transfer market. He was able to bring in three players to improve the team’s spine and Man United is flying high with three wins out of three to lead the Premier League.

Now it remains to be seen whether Man United can keep up the strong performances throughout the rest of the season, giving Mourinho his fourth Premier League title.

Manchester United unveils Swedish center back Lindelof

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic said countryman Victor Lindelof was “ready for the big clubs” when the defender was first linked with Manchester United in late December.

More than a half-year later, Lindelof is trading red shirts. The 22-year-old center back is leaving Benfica for Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Southampton fires Puel ]

Lindelof has 12 caps and a goal for Sweden, and played 47 matches as Benfica won the Portuguese Primera Liga and advanced to the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16.

The reported fee has been $39 million with the potential to rise as high as $50 million. Here’s Jose Mourinho, from ManUtd.com:

“Victor is a very talented young player, who has a great future ahead of him at United. Our season last year showed us that we need options and quality to add depth to the squad and Victor is the first to join us this summer. I know that our fantastic group of players will welcome him as one of us.”

Lindelof played every minute of Benfica’s UCL run, and also has experience at defensive mid and right back. He’ll fight to fit into United’s lineup alongside Eric Bailly.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Lindelof arrives at Man United for medical

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Manchester United’s latest signing has arrived in Manchester. Well, Carrington, to be exact.

Defender Victor Lindelöf, ahead of his now-confirmed transfer to Manchester United, arrived at the club’s training ground to undergo his medical. Manchester United confirmed Saturday that they had agreed a deal with Benfica over the Swedish defender, reported to include a nearly $40 million transfer fee.

Lindelöf started 40 times for Benfica at centerback in the Portuguese league and UEFA Champions League combined, scoring one goal and helping earn 23 shutouts.

The 22-year-old, who has already made 12 appearances for Sweden and started for them at Euro 2016, is expected to slot into the Man United starting lineup next season, possibly alongside Eric Bailly, with Phil Jones and Chris Smalling rumored to be leaving the club.

Here’s a look at more transfer news around the Premier League:

(more…)

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Lindelof to Man Utd and more

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With the international season in full swing, clubs are hoping to complete deals that will see them compete at a higher level once next season starts.

Manchester United looks to be quick off the blocks, with a deal for Benfica defender Victor Lindelof apparently complete. Multiple outlets are reporting that the deal is fully done, and that it will become official on Wednesday after his international duty with Sweden is complete and he can fly to Manchester to perform the medical.

According to the reports, the purchase will cost Manchester United around $45 million. Lindelof, a 22-year-old center-back with 12 international caps to his name, was a player that Jose Mourinho was reportedly in for last winter, but instead the United boss pulled his offer with the squad already full.


With Liverpool still shaking off the embarrassment of the Virgil Van Dijk disaster, there are rumors that the Reds have begun to turn the gears on a play for Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. The 22-year-old Serbian has 11 international caps and was a regular for Lazio in midfield last season as the club finished 5th in Serie A.

The process has just begun, with Liverpool enquiring about Milinkovic-Savic’s availability, but according to the player’s agent, there are “many big clubs talking about him” (of course he would say that). The Serbian’s agent did say Juventus was not one of those suitors, and that the player is happy at Lazio, having just signed a new contract in April that lasts through the summer of 2022.

Given his brand new contract and likely interest elsewhere, it will be costly for Liverpool to bring the Serbian midfielder to Anfield. It also might behoove Liverpool to let the player continue to develop, as he shows top ability both with the ball at his feet and in the air, but still has some growing to do, as evident by his 73% passing accuracy last season over 34 Serie A appearances.


Reports in Russia have suggested that Arsenal is close to signing 21-year-old midfielder Aleksandr Golovin from CSKA Moscow. The youngster is highly experienced for his age, with 12 international caps under his belt plus two full Russian league seasons which saw CSKA finish top of the table in 2016 followed by a second-place finish this past year.

According to the report, Golovin would cost Arsenal just $13 million.

The young Russian is a superb tackler and solid passer out in front of the back line, and has a far better disciplinary record than the incumbent Arsenal midfielders. While the hope is that Golovin would eventually challenge both Francis Coquelin and Granit Xhaka for the holding midfield spot, initially CSKA is reportedly interested in taking Golovin back on loan for a season should the deal go through. The report also mentions Hull City as a possible loan destination should Arsenal decide to keep him in England.


Spurs midfielder Dele Alli has spoken about his future, in the hopes of easing Tottenham fans who may have fears of him leaving. While the young England international would not rule out any future move – even something this summer – he wanted to make sure Spurs fans knew where his head was at.

“I think people get too worried about where they are going to eventually end up,” Alli told The Guardian. “They lose focus on the journey, and are not enjoying it.”

There are endless rumors that Real Madrid are interested in the 21-year-old star, but nothing has come of that yet.

“I’m signed to Tottenham and I’m enjoying it. Who knows where I am going to end up, whether I stay at Tottenham for the rest of my career or if I do happen to go somewhere else. I’m sure if it happens, if I do go somewhere else, it will be at a time when I think that’s what’s needed. But I am just looking forward to enjoying the journey.”