Sky Blue FC, currently atop the NWSL’s standings, just finished the league’s most impressive road trip of the season, the New Jersey-based club taking six points during last week’s tour of Cascadia. At JELD-WEN on Thursday, Jim Gabarra’s team handed the previously unbeaten Thorns a 1-0 defeat. Three days later, a 3-0 win in Seattle left Sky Blue with a 5-1-1 record, making them the surprise pace-setters of the nascent women’s league.
On Saturday, the league-leaders visit one of the preseason favorites, FC Kansas City – one of four teams sitting on one loss. Coming off a 2-0 victory over the previously unbeaten Boston Breakers, the Blues’ form has them on top of ProSoccerTalk’s power rankings, even though they sit third in the league’s standings.
Kicking off at 8:35 p.m. Eastern at Shawnee Mission District Stadium in Overland Park, Kan., Sky Blue’s visit to FCKC this week’s ProSoccerTalk NWSL Game of the Week (stream).
THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. Allocation the beginning (not end) of the world
So much of the NWSL’s early attention was defined by January’s national team player allocation. Not only did the process disperse the league’s biggest names among the circuit’s eight clubs, it also gave teams their piece of identity. U.S. national team icons Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach, and Hope Solo became the faces of their new clubs (Portland, Western New York, and Seattle, respectively.
W. New York
FC Kansas City got Lauren Cheney, one of the league’s most talented players, but they didn’t land one of the big marketing prizes. Instead, the new club were given one of the deepest allocations in league, handing them prominent names at each level of their formation. Their “balance,” a word that constantly comes up from opposing players and coaches, is epitomized not only by a fluid style that stresses freedom and creativity but also their personnel: Nicole Barnhart in goal; Becky Sauerbrunn and Lauren Sesselmann in defense; Desiree Scott at the base of midfield; Cheney as their playmaker; and Renae Cuellar at forward. With those six internationals distributed through the middle of Vlatko Andonovski’s formation, Kansas City has the best spine in the league.
Sky Blue FC’s starter kit wasn’t quite as flushed out. Of the 11 players coach Gabarra’s likely to start on Saturday, only three will be from his allocation: center half Christie Rampone; likely left back Kelley O’Hara; and central midfielder Sophie Schmidt. Instead of spending much of the winter looking for parts to complement a core, Gabarra had to build an entire squad.
In his words:
“It was different [from] in past leagues. With past teams that we put together, we had more input.
I thought we were fortunate in the allocation process, and then you had to go about it in a step-by-step process and do the best you could. I was fortunate to get some good, quality pieces to go along with them … It says a lot about the other players that we did get to sign and their commitment and their hard work in our success so far.”
Those pieces include two Australian internationals (Lisa De Vanna, Caitlin Foord), two other veteran free agents (Danesha Adams, Manya Makoski), one college draftee (Kendall Johnson) and three Supplemental Draft selections (Brittany Cameron, Katy Freels, CoCo Goodson). They’re the eight players that will join Rampone, O’Hara, and Schmidt in Saturday’s lineup, an XI which, having posted three straight shutouts, are proving player allocation isn’t the be-all, end-all in the league’s first season.
Teams like FC Kansas City and Portland were clearly fortunate in January’s dispersal, but with a 5-1-1 record, Sky Blue have shown no team has to be defined by its stars. Right now, Jim Gabarra’s making new stars.
2. Time Desiree Scott stopped being “unsung”
“I’ve come to love my new position,” is not what you expect to hear from somebody who’s quickly become a standard-bearer for her role. After all, if you’re new to a position, you probably haven’t gathered the years of expertise it usually takes to be the best at your spot. Yet when you’re talking about destroyers – players at the base of midfield tasked with breaking up opposition attacks – no one’s better than Kansas City’s Desiree Scott, a Canadian international who’s only been playing defensive midfield for a couple of years.
All it took was a new set of eyes to set Scott’s career in motion. Those eyes came to Canada two years ago.
“When John Herdman came into the national team, I was actually playing an outside winger,” Scott recalls of her time under Herdman’s processor, Carolina Morace. “I wasn’t getting a lot of playing time. Then he found this defensive, holding midfield (role), and I’ve come to really find this is where I shine.
“It’s a position I’m meant to be [in]. I like to really shut down the opposition’s transition and be the player people look to stop those things. I would like to be a little more offensive, but can’t get all we want all the time.”
That’s one of Scott’s main goals – improving her contribution going forward, a desire that coincides with an area in KC’s game where Andonovski would like to see improvement. Although Kansas City has done a good job of controlling possession and deciding how their games are played, their coach would like to see more of that possession in the final third. For Scott, that means not only winning balls in midfield or picking the ball up off the defense. She needs to evolve into a player who can, in her words, “dictate the pace and try to find players in dangerous places.”
Even before that’s developed, Scott is one of FC Kansas City’s most valuable pieces. Here’s Andonovski, asked to describe Scott’s importance:
Desiree Scott is probably one of the key players on our team (given) as attacking as we want to play, with our two outside backs pushing forward as high as the 18-yard box, and both of them at the same time.
Desiree Scott really reads and understands the game so well. She covers every inch the open field, especially when those two outside backs are up. Not only does she cover (the space), she covers it very well. She’s always successful in those 50-50 tackles and stops a lot of the attacks. She also stops all the balls that are going toward the opponents’ forwards. She’s a key element in our team, and she does her role extremely well.
On Saturday, Scott will be operating where Sky Blue’s most dangerous: between Sophie Schmidt and Lisa De Vanna, players who’ve combined for six of the team’s 11 goals. Deliver again, and Scott will not only go a long way to securing KC’s fourth clean sheet in six games, she will take herself out of the running for yet another “unsung hero” award. By now, everybody should be singing the praises of Desiree Scott.
3. The value of Christie Rampone
Ask Gabarra about his team’s success in Portland, and he’ll say “midfield was really where we won the game,” yet in tracking Alex Morgan’s futile attempts to try to break open the Sky Blue block, Christie Rampone got all the attention. One month shy of her 38th birthday, the U.S. national team captain won the NWSL’s Player of the Week honors, the high point of a three-week stretch where she’s been the league’s best central defender.
“The biggest benefit we have (in defense) is having Christie back there to provide stability, experience and leadership,” Gabarra said of his captain, describing her importance to a defense that often features three rookies. Foord, the starting right back, is only 18 years old. Goodson and Johnson are each 22. At times, Gabarra has dropped U.S. national team left back Kelley O’Hara from her left-wingrole into defense, but most of the time, it’s three kids and the captain.
That dynamic completely changes the demands of job. According to Rampone:
“A lot times, I’m more mentally fatigued in these games rather than physical. (I’m) probably over-talking, shifting and rotating people, just so that they can understand their positions.
I know it’s a young back line. Even in the national team, it takes six months to get a back four all on the same page. Now I’m working with a younger squad and that didn’t have a lot of time (to prepare). For me, it’s just educating as much as I can away from the games, and then during the games, trying to communicate and given them the confidence.
With Rampone on the pitch, Sky Blue has a second coach, somebody who guided the club to a WPS title while serving as a player/interim coach in 2009. Hoping to go into coaching after she retires (which doesn’t appear likely any time soon), Rampone has leveraged that experience while forging one of the league’s best defenses out of inexperienced personnel.
Kansas City, however, represents a whole new challenge. The interchangeability of Lauren Cheney, Kristie Mewis, and Sinead Farrelly – attacking midfielders playing behind Renae Cuellar – will test Sky Blue’s organization and communication. In addition to tracking Cuellar, one of the league’s most efficient strikers, Rampone’s going to have to organize a midfield that will have resist the temptation to be drawn out of position.
“It’s a lot of communicating,” Rampone said, explaining how Sky Blue have to adjust to Kansas City’s movement. “With three players interchanging, changing lines, and changing speed, it’s being mindful of them at all times and trying not to get caught ball-watching.
“When you have players like Lauren Cheney who will commit to running behind the line, making sure that we’re talking to each other, it’s challenging … making sure we’re cutting off players in the passing channel, not chasing – trying not to man mark. They’ll run us all over the place.”
But just as Rampone will be adjusting to the challenges presented by Kansas City, the Blues will adapt to Rampone.
“We’re going to have to make a lot of adjustments, left and right, and try to avoid head-to-head battles with Christie Rampone,” Andonovski said, asked to describe how the Sky Blue defender changes the game. “She’s fast. She’s smart. She’s experienced. She reads the game – everything you would like to have in a defender. The less one-on-one battles with her and the more we have with the other defenders, I would hope we’re going to have a lot of success.”
“A lot” of success may be asking too much. Sky Blue’s given up multiple goals only once this season, though with Kansas City sporting a stingy defense of their own, one goal may be enough. The question is whether Kansas City can succeed where Sky Blue’s last three opponents could not.
FC Kansas City
Sky Blue FC
Star to Watch
Lauren Cheney – “She’s just a very technical, smart player. She’s able to read the game while the game’s going on. If a defender’s going to get pulled out, she’s going to take that space … she just moves throughout the game. She probably covers twice the ground that most midfielders do, and she’s just got energy. She’s going to constantly make the effort to get in behind and make her team better.” — Christie Rampone
Sophie Schmidt – “I was especially impressed with her on the defensive side of the ball against Portland … She showed a lot on the defensive side that wasn’t really expected. The attacking side, I always knew and expected she would contribute and awful lot to our attack. In my mind, that’s always been a given. That’s what we expect of her. If there’s anything she can improve on, it’s the defensive side of it, but she’s been great, on both sides of the ball.” — Jim Gabarra
Renae Cuellar – “We have to be aware of her runs, because she is slipping in behind. She is finishing her chances. I think she has four goals now … I would say she’s been doing an exceptional job. You can’t let her put you to sleep. She’s going to turn it on at the right time, so we have to be mindful of that.” — Rampone
CoCo Goodson – “CoCo’s one that’s kind of overlooked … She’s just been incredibly solid – played every minute, has a good presence in the air, has picked up how to defend, and being not the fastest of the four back there, it’s been a real adjustment for her. Christie likes to play a very high line, and there’ve been some adjustments that she’s had to make, and they’ve been seemless. — Gabarra
Win if …
… they have success wide against Foord and O’Hara, and are able to get around the block in the middle of Sky Blue’s midfield.
… strong defense in front of their back line, particularly from Danesha Adams and Kendall Johnson helping in wide areas, gives Schmidt and De Vanna a chance to steal three points.
OTHER GAMES, WEEK 7
Friday, May 24
Western New York vs. Chicago Red Stars
Saturday, May 25
Boston Breakers vs. Washington Spirit
FC Kansas City vs. Sky Blue FC (stream)
Seattle Reign FC vs. Portland Thorns FC (stream)
Lionel Messi rejects Saudi Arabia mega-offer, will sign with Inter Miami
Lionel Messi will sign with Inter Miami, opting to move to MLS this summer rather than return to Barcelona or join Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kante in Saudi Arabia, according to multiple reports.
The deal will reportedly include profit sharing with two of MLS’s biggest commercial partners, Apple and Adidas, alongside his playing contract. According to reports, it could also include an option to purchase a minority stake in the club, which is partially owned (and operated) by David Beckham, who signed a similarly unique deal when he joined MLS in 2007. Beckham’s contract gave him a $25-million option to purchase an expansion franchise, which he exercised in 2018.
Messi’s contract with Paris Saint-Germain is set to expire on June 30 and the Ligue 1 club announced earlier this month that the Argentine superstar — widely considered the greatest player of all time — will leave the club this summer.
Perhaps Inter Miami and MLS weren’t Messi’s first-choice option this summer, as his father previously stated his son’s desire to return to Barcelona, where he famously won 21 major trophies before an unceremonious exit amid financial troubles in the summer of 2021, but those issues still linger two years later. The offer from Saudi Arabia would have reportedly paid Messi, 35, more than $400 million per year.
Gerardo “Tata” Martino, who previously worked with Lionel Messi at Barcelona (2013-2014) and Argentina (2014-2016), is reportedly the leading candidate to replace the recently departed Phil Neville as head coach.
Inter Miami, who currently sit bottom (15th) of MLS’s Eastern Conference with 15 points from their first 16 games, parted ways with Neville last week. In his two full seasons in charge, Neville guided the club to regular-season finishes of 11th (of 14) and 6th (of 14) in the Eastern Conference and qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2022.
With Darwin Nunez the big name arrival last summer to help limit the impact of Sadio Mane’s departure, Liverpool want to add another big name in midfield and they strengthened an already ridiculously strong attack in January by signing Cody Gakpo.
Below we roundup the latest done deals, reports and rumors and give our analysis on Liverpool transfer news as Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Nicholas Mendola (NM) and Andy Edwards (AE) will guide you through a hectic next few months.
Fabrizio Romano is reporting that the long-mentioned Alexis Mac Allister to Liverpool transfer is moving closer to reality.
Romano says that Mac Allister’s father/agent headed to England with the expectation of agreeing terms with the Reds, and that they’ve sorted a deal through the 2027-28 season.
That would then put the ball firmly in the court of Brighton to agree a fee with Liverpool for the World Cup-winning midfielder, with Romano saying it’ll be for a buyout clause “way less” than a reported $75 million. (NM)
June 3 – In-demand $40M back name checks Liverpool
Wolfsburg defender Micky van de Ven has had a dream to play at Anfield since attending a game there as a youngster.
An excellent ball progressor, Van de Ven is viewed as a $40 million target and reports have said Jurgen Klopp is an admirer.
So it’s a mutual appreciation society.
“I once went to the Liverpool stadium with my dad,” he told AZ WAZ. “That was over Christmas on Boxing Day. Liverpool vs Arsenal. That was madness. Then when ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ comes [on] – that’s a goose bump moment, that was very cool. It’s a dream to play there.”
The 6-foot-4 Van de ven turned 22 in April and has served as the captain of the Dutch U-21 national team. He moved from Volendam to Wolfsburg in the summer of 2021 and became a full-time starter in his second season, occasionally swinging to left back. (NM)
May 31 – Liverpool join Kone chase
Bild says that the Reds are turning to the Bundesliga to address their midfield.
Jurgen Klopp will turn to Borussia Monchengladbach’s Kouadio “Manu” Kone this summer, as Liverpool has reportedly told the player that it will be approaching Gladbach.
A ball progressor who reads the game very well, Kone is said to carry a price tag of more than $40 million. (NM)
May 22 – Reds closing in on Mac Allister but Man City lurks
La Nacion in Argentina says that Liverpool has agreed a transfer fee with Brighton and wages with Alexis Mac Allister as a summer transfer could be nearing in the midfield.
Mac Allister, 24, won the World Cup with Argentina this winter and has been part of a spectacular Brighton team, pairing with Moises Caicedo in a dynamic midfield.
The report claims that Mac Allister will cost Liverpool close to $75 million, a huge fee but barely half of what Borussia Dortmund hopes to get for oft-mentioned target Jude Bellingham.
Mac Allister would certainly give Liverpool a playmaking unit up there with anyone in the world, but a spectacular report later Monday claims Man City might try to hop to the front of the Mac Allister line in the case of an Ilkay Gundogan exit.
What’s the better fit for Mac Allister? (NM)
April 18 – Gravenberch angling for Liverpool move after holding talks last week
According to a report from the Mirror, Liverpool held talks just last week with representatives for Bayern Munich midfielder Ryan Gravenberch. The sides reportedly came to a loose agreement on contract terms for a summer move, with a transfer fee still needing to be agreed between the clubs.
Gravenberch joined Bayern from Ajax last summer, but the 20-year-old has reportedly grown frustrated by his lack of playing time and would like to leave this summer. Also last week, Liverpool pulled out of the race for Jude Bellingham, with a pair of starting central midfielders a high priority for Jurgen Klopp’s side. (AE)
April 13 – Klopp and Liverpool have shortlist of midfielders after Bellingham decision
After Liverpool reportedly decided to move on from signing Jude Bellingham due to the huge expected transfer fee of over $160 million, it appears Jurgen Klopp and the Reds have a shortlist of other, more attainable, options. Per our partners in Germany at Sky Sport, Liverpool have another five midfielders lined up to bolster their options in the engine room.
Per the report, Ryan Gravenberch, Nicolo Barella, Matheus Nunes, Declan Rice and Moises Caicedo are the four central midfielders Liverpool want to sign this summer. Rice will have less than a year left on his contract so he could be attainable but there would be severe competition to sign the West Ham skipper, while Caicedo may be a very good option but he could be expensive with Chelsea and Arsenal linked with the Ecuadorian in the past. Barella, Gravenberch and Nunes would perhaps be the cheaper options with the respective Italian, Dutch and Portuguese internationals solid additions but it seems like Rice should be their first choice and their midfield can be built around him. (JPW)
April 9 – Reds ready to joust for pair of World Cup midfielders
Liverpool is looking to Brighton and Real Madrid to fix their midfield.
So say the Sunday papers, with Spanish site Revelo claiming that Liverpool is ready to duel with Chelsea to land Alexis Mac Allister from Brighton.
Mac Allister’s shown he can star in the Premier League and the World Cup winner won’t come cheap. And might he want to stick around Brighton if the Seagulls and Liverpool are in the same European competition or, perhaps, if Brighton’s in the superior competiton?
As for Tchouameni, you have to ask the same questions. No, he’s not a nailed-on starter in a brilliant midfield behind Eduardo Camavinga, but he’d playing plenty at age 23 and on a perennial Champions League contender.
Mac Allister would seem the easier and less expensive — not my much — lure, but watch out for Chelsea who already has his World Cup-winning midfield mate Enzo Fernandez. (NM)
March 23 – Reds to rival biggest names in world for Florian Wirtz
Bayer Leverkusen phenom Florian Wirtz is back from a major knee injury and has shown he’s fit and firing, recalled back into the Germany set-up.
Fabrizio Romano says Liverpool is ready to rival Barcelona and Real Madrid for his services, while 90min claims that Man City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Newcastle, Bayern Munich, and Borussia Dortmund are in the chase for Wirtz.
Wirtz, 19, has a contract with Leverkusen through the 2026-27 season and his fee will be massive should he continue to show no ill effects of his ACL injury.
The teenager returned to Leverkusen’s lineup in late January and has four assists in Bundesliga play but was a thorn in the side of Monaco and Ferencvaros in the Europa League. He scored twice with two assists in four legs between the two opponents.
Liverpool has a bevy of young attack-minded midfielders in Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho, but Wirtz is legitimately one of the most exciting prospects to come out of the Bundesliga since Kai Havertz and Timo Werner came from Leverkusen and Stuttgart.
Wirtz posted 10 goals and 14 assists in 31 games across all competitions in 2021-22 but suffered an ACL injury in late March. (NM)
March 20 – Reds hope for Wolves double midfield swoop
Football Insider says that Liverpool could turn to Wolves for a pair of midfielders including club captain Ruben Neves.
Matheus Nunes is also a target for Jurgen Klopp, according to the site, who says Liverpool faces serious Neves competition from Newcastle United.
Barcelona is also going after Neves, 26, who could slide into the Blaugranas lineup and refresh the midfield for club legend Sergio Busquets. Barca, of course, also has teen midfield phenoms Gavi and Pedri, and also currently boasts Dutch star Frenkie de Jong. (NM)
March 12 – Roberto Firmino linked with St. Louis City in MLS
Roberto Firmino could be heading to MLS and sign for new boys St. Louis City FC, according to Bleacher Report. The 31-year-old Brazil international is out of contract this summer and it has been announced he will leave Liverpool and won’t sign a new contract. The free agent will have plenty of offers from some huge clubs in Europe given his incredible impact at Anfield over the last eight years. Would a move to MLS be a good idea for Firmino? You have to think he would score plenty of goals and be a star man in STL and there is a strong connection with the new MLS side as their current sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel was with Firmino in Germany at Hoffenheim. The expansion side have had a great start to life in MLS and adding a player of Firmino’s quality would be a major coup and give them a huge boost but you would think a huge number of MLS sides would be interested in signing Firmino. (JPW)
March 11 – Reds joined by Big Six rivals in pursuit of Lille teenager Carlos Baleba
Carlos Baleba’s only been in Ligue 1 for just over a year, but he’s earned his way to the wishlist of Jurgen Klopp and several other Premier League suitors.
Lille resisted an AC Milan bid for 19-year-old Baleba in January, according to 90min.com, but the calvary is coming this summer.
Liverpool has been joined by Arsenal, Manchester United, Newcastle, West Ham, and Leicester City in pursuit of Baleba, who will cost near the $35 million Lille got from Everton’s Amadou Onana last summer.
Baleba just turned 19 in January and already has 14 senior appearances. It seems like $30 million is the new $15 million when it comes to teenage talent, and that also seems like it’ll cross off a number of names from the above list.
Baleba as the 6 joining Harvey Elliott and Stefan Bajcetic as 8s — not to mention Fabio Carvalho — would give Klopp four midfielders under the age of 20. (NM)
March 3 – Roberto Firmino to leave Liverpool when contract expires this summer
After eight years at Anfield, Roberto Firmino will leave Liverpool when his contract expires at the end of the current season. The 31-year-old Brazilian has thus far scored 107 goals in 353 appearances since arriving from Hoffenheim in the summer of 2015. In his Liverpool career, Firmino has won the Premier League, UEFA Champions League (twice a runner-up) and the FA Cup.
February 27 – Liverpool among teams chasing Rafael Leao; Salah could leave
Yes, one of the greatest players in Liverpool history could skip town this summer, with the report saying that Paris Saint-Germain could be a destination. The Ligue 1 set could see Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr, or Kylian Mbappe leave Paris this summer or soon afterwards.
Liverpool has restocked its attacking cupboard with powerful (but snakebit so far) Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo joining Luis Diaz, and Diogo Jota in the team.
Leao, 23, has eight goals and six assists across 23 matches in Serie A this season, and the left winger is one of the most sought-after players in the world.
Would you, if you were Jurgen Klopp? (NM)
February 25 – Ryan Gravenberch, Nicolo Barella as Bellingham partner
Reports out of Gazetta dello Sport and Express say that Liverpool’s midfield rejuvenation is well underway.
Jude Bellingham is on every big club’s want list but Liverpool is consistently being named as a favorite for the Borussia Dortmund and England star’s service.
Would he work better with Inter Milan’s Nicolo Barella or Bayern Munich’s Ryan Gravenberch? We may find out on at least one count.
Barella, 26, came up through the ranks at Cagliari before moving to Inter in 2020. He’s an elite playmaker and ball progressor who seeks to find spaces up the pitch to receive it, too.
He has six goals and seven assists in 30 appearances across all competitions this season, and he’s up to 42 caps with Italy.
Gravenberch, 20, moved from Ajax in the summer and has made 22 appearances totaling 665 minutes as of post time, scoring a goal and an assist in cup play against Viktoria Koln.
Before making the move, Gravenberch was one of the most sought-after young players on the market. He’s not on the same level as Barella in ball movement but he’s very good at creating shots and is a harder tackler and defensive presence than Barella.
Liverpool is also named alongside Newcastle, Spurs, and West Ham as a club “monitoring” Mainz’s Anton Stach, via 90min.com. (NM)
February 24 – Jurgen Klopp acknowledges busy summer ahead
Liverpool’s forward ranks have been turned over and its injury list has been long, but the Reds’ have been bossed in the midfield for large portions of this season and things may not be better until the summer.
Jurgen Klopp’s admitted as such, and he’s known it a lot longer than Real Madrid’s 5-2 embarrassment of his Reds at Anfield: His mentality monsters might still be confident but the system’s not going to work without better players.
Then again, it’s difficult to read Klopp’s Friday comments and think he has more ways to fix things than he has reasons they aren’t working in the first place.
In other words, you can’t romanticize the relative efficiency of your club and also be mad about it, especially when a reputation is built on “Jurgen Klopp doesn’t miss on transfers” but also you’re missing on transfers.
“Of course, we are not that dumb. It’s not like, ‘Today is not good and now we have to change.’ This is clear, it was always clear. This team has a wonderful history. The way this club is led is by not splashing the money and having a look at if it works out or not. Our transfers always have to be on point. So that makes it really tricky where we cannot make four transfers before we know who will leave the club.
“Last year was not a season for a big change. We played until the last moment. If you want to change again, this club, we can’t just bring in new players and then realise later, ‘Oh, nobody wants to leave.’ It doesn’t work, it doesn’t work like that. That’s why it’s not possible to start it early because we had final after final after final. Played the season until the last minute, played the Champions League final. Then we had a short break, then we have a lot of injuries, and then the World Cup.
“All the problems we knew we would have, this came on top. And now we are in it and I know it’s too long. For me it’s too long because I have to always face you in the press conferences. Believe me, I don’t like to talk about it all the time. But I have to think it all the time. But that’s not as bad as talking about it to be honest, because I don’t have to read it the next day. That’s the situation, I cannot change it.
“Now the people are not happy. We try to fight through and make the best of this season, that’s the idea. And stay in the period as good as a person as you can. If I said, the better you behave in the moment like this, the better the times will be after it. The more useful the bad times are because they have to be useful otherwise they are completely useless.
“But based on the way this club is led. It’s obviously different to other clubs, that’s how it is. But it worked out so far and we have to see if it will work still or if we have to adapt. Let me say it like that. But that’s something for us in the offices, when we are not in the training pitch. And for us, from my conversations with the owners. But that’s it, nothing else. It’s just work.”
Got it? No? Exactly. Jurgen Klopp needs the summer transfer window to get here, that’s for sure. But to say that reaching finals stops them from planning for the future is either an uninspired excuse or an indictment on the brains of every one inside of Liverpool including Klopp himself. The wise money is on the weak excuse. He’s one of the most impressive man motivators, tacticians, and soccer minds of his generation. Certainly he can walk and chew gum at the same time.
It also has to be exhausting to a coach to be outperforming teams but not finishing chances while also making uncharacteristic (in previous seasons) gaffes at the other end. Liverpool is still third in expected goals but is hemorrhaging xGA. It certainly looks like Klopp bet on a handful of mainstays to hold off Father Time for one more season and Father Time was like, “Nah.” And being asked about transfers by journalists might be annoying, but it sure isn’t the worst job on Earth, is it? (NM)
Liverpool completed transfers – January 2023
Cody Gakpo – PSV Eindhoven ($40 million plus incentives)
Liverpool archived transfer news, January 2023
January 19 – Liverpool prepare summer move for Mason Mount
England midfielder Mason Mount reportedly wants a raise from Chelsea, who is loading up on young talent amidst its season struggles to stay in the top four mix.
Liverpool sees a good solution for the Blues: Sell Mount to the red part of Merseyside.
The Reds would love to bring Mount to Anfield and the player has only 18 months left on his current deal at Chelsea. One thing that hasn’t often been mentioned about owner Todd Boehly’s big spending is the need to satisfy those who are currently in blue.
Mount would bridge the gulf between old and young midfielders at Liverpool, but how much money would he cost given his status as an England national team player and moving to a direct rival (but also Chelsea’s desire to balance their books)?
January 17 – Ruben Neves continues to be linked with Liverpool
It wouldn’t be a transfer window if Ruben Neves wasn’t linked with a move away from Wolves, would it? The Portuguese midfielder is currently the skipper at Molineux and is leading their charge up the table after the appointment of Julen Lopetegui. Per a report from Football Insider, Liverpool want to sign Neves this month as his contract has just over a year left on it. That means Wolves would still get a very big transfer fee for him, but nowhere near the previous $120 million they were quoting clubs.
Given Liverpool’s struggles in central midfield this season, it is believed Jude Bellingham is their preferred long-term target. They probably needs Neves and Bellingham together to rejuvenate their midfield and push them back towards the top four, at the very least. Can we see this happening? It would be pretty crazy for Wolves to sell Neves this month as they battle against relegation. That said, if the offer is big enough then they could sell. (JPW)
January 16 – Jurgen Klopp perturbed with transfer questions
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is the mouthpiece for the club, and the mouthpiece for the club would like to stop answering questions about transfers.
“It must be a language issue,” Klopp said. “It must be, that you ask these questions again and again and again,” he told reporters, via The Liverpool Echo. “I answered it already so often. We look outside as well. It’s not that we are stubborn and think, ‘That’s it. We’ll go with these boys until 2050.’ That’s not how we see it.”
Klopp said he forgave the reporters because he knows they are being asked by their bosses to ask about transfers.
“We are underperforming, definitely. I know that but I cannot sit here and blame everyone else. The players, it is my responsibility that they perform. It’s my first concern, my first job to do. … Yes, we have to strengthen. Oh yes, but is the right time to do it? I can’t see it because of the situation we are in.
“I think I know exactly how the situation is and that’s it pretty much. I can’t change the answer every week because the situation doesn’t change, even when we lose another game since the last press conference.”
Liverpool has brought in Darwin Nunez, Cody Gakpo, and Fabio Carvalho on permanent deals while also loaning in Arthur Melo. Last season, they bought Luis Diaz and Ibrahima Konate.
January 16 – Liverpool linked with discount Ruben Neves deal
There are reports that Ruben Neves’ contract situation at Wolves could give Liverpool its latest Anfield discount.
Somehow, the Reds have been able to land players below market price rather often but this one is an easier explanation: Neves only has 18 months left on his deal and Wolves may want to cash in now.
Neves is a sensational midfielder but Wolves would potentially be risking their Premier League status, though perhaps they feel Julen Lopetegui’s system can thrive without Neves.
It’s a no-brainer for the Reds, even in Klopp’s money-complaint world (see update above this one). (NM)
December 29 – Liverpool linked with Moises Caicedo as Brighton sets big price
Brighton and Hove Albion’s strong and inexpensive midfield is the envy of much of the Premier League, but the latter adjective makes Roberto De Zerbi’s club vulnerable to big-money suitors.
That’s going to be a problem as clubs like Liverpool look to strengthen in the January transfer window, and a “liked” Instagram post by one Moises Caicedo is fueling the transfer rumor mill this Thursday.
Liverpool’s said to want the ever-energetic 21-year-old Ecuadorian to help rejuvenate an aging unit led by Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, and Thiago Alcantara.
Caicedo learning from Fabinho could be a match made in Anfield heaven for Jurgen Klopp, and the young, fierce midfielder could also take some lessons from Jordan Henderson.
The pay packet rise and Champions League opportunities would make the minute dip worth the sacrifice for Caicedo, and this one could cost $30-40 million less than Enzo Fernandez. (NM)
December 28 – Liverpool confirms Cody Gakpo transfer
It’s official: Cody Gakpo is part of the Anfield set.
Liverpool announced Gakpo’s arrival on Wednesday with an interview on its web site, and manager Jurgen Klopp issued glowing praise for the Dutch forward.
“There is a lot to like about Cody. He is still only 23 years old but he already has a lot of experience. He was the captain of PSV, he was the Player of the Year in Holland last season and, as a lot of people have just seen, he also had a great World Cup with his national team. So, it is clear that he is already a really, really good player but his age also means he also has the potential to become even better. Offensively, he is very versatile and on top of this we know he is a smart footballer and also a smart person, so we are really excited to be able to work with him.”
There could hardly be a better time for this move whether you’re discussing in terms of the club or the player. Injuries to Luis Diaz and others have opened the door for a strong player to make an instant impact, and Gakpo certainly showed at the World Cup that he’s on his game.
Might this be the difference for the Reds as they charge onward in both the Premier League’s top four race and the UEFA Champions League?
An initial report from The Times said the talks were ‘advanced’ as they look to pip their rivals to sign the Dutch star who was excellent at the World Cup. The 23-year-old is expected to travel to Liverpool for a medical soon and according to The Athletic an initial fee of close to $45 million has been agreed with PSV Eindhoven for Gakpo.
Where would Gakpo slot in at Liverpool? With Liverpool already having Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino in attack, this is going to be intriguing. Gakpo, Nunez and Diaz will be Liverpool’s front three for the next five years plus if all goes well, and that is a trio full of trickery, intensity, clinical finishing and directness. This is a surprising move by Liverpool but it slots in superbly with their recruitment model and Gakpo seems to be the kind of player who is ready to break out in a big way and score 20 plus goals a season in the Premier League. Just like they did with Luis Diaz, Liverpool have snuck in ahead of their rivals. (JPW)
December 22 – Huge offer to arrive for Argentine star Enzo Fernandez?
With Liverpool linked continuously with Jude Bellingham and the quartet of Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara either in or approaching the twilight of their careers, it appears Liverpool’s main need is in central midfield.
That is where Enzo Fernandez comes in. The 21-year-old midfielder announced himself to the world at the World Cup as he scored and created goals, snapped into tackles and his driving runs all contributed to him being named the young player of the tournament. In many ways he and Bellingham are very similar players. According to the latest report from Record in Portugal, Benfica have rejected a $105 million bid from an unnamed club for Fernandez. His release clause is said to be around $126 million.
When you think about his qualities as a player, Fernandez would perfectly slot into this Liverpool side. They haven’t been shy about splashing the cash on players needed in key areas of the pitch in the past (Virgil van Dijk and Alisson prove that) and Fernandez slots into that category as Liverpool’s midfield needs strengthening and his signing would allow them to be pretty settled for the next four to five years. Yes, it’s a lot of money for Fernandez and they may pay a premium due to his displays at the World Cup. But he’s still cheaper than Bellingham. (JPW)
July 7 – Joe Gomez signs long-term contract extension
Joe Gomez might not be a first- (or second-) choice center back for Liverpool anymore, with Ibrahima Konate and Joel Matip both out-appearing him last season, but the 25-year-old is keen to continue his seven-year stay an Anfield. Gomez signed a five-year contract through the summer of 2027. Gomez has since spoken to the club’s website:(AE)
“It’s obviously a special moment for me and my family. Another one that you dream of as a kid, and one I don’t take for granted.
“It is an unbelievable place to be. In my eyes, probably one of the best — if not the best — clubs in the world at the minute. The opportunity to extend my stay here was an easy decision to make, really.
“Obviously, I have been here quite a while now, but in the grand scheme of things I still feel young and, like you say, the best years are ahead of me. I have got more to learn and the time to do that.
“I think I have the platform here to do it with the manager and the coaching staff around me and my teammates, to make sure the best years are ahead. I think as a group, the sky is the limit. We want to go one, if not two, better than last season and aim for it all.”
July 1 – Mohamed Salah signs new Liverpool deal
So, updating the note below…
It’s a three-year deal for Salah, who will join holdovers Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz, Roberto Firmino in addition to new signing Darwin Nunez in chasing down Manchester City.
June 25 – Liverpool open to selling Salah this summer
Liverpool are reportedly open to selling Mohamed Salah this summer as the Egyptian star has just one year left on his current contract. The Reds have been locked in talks with Salah for months about a new deal and per a report from the The Sun, Liverpool could sell Salah this summer for $74 million. Per the report, Real Madrid are the club Salah could move to as they look to bolster their attack after missing out on Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland this summer.
Should Liverpool cash-in on Salah just like they did with Sadio Mane earlier this week? With one year left on his contract and no real movement on talks, the situation is pretty similar and Salah has won everything he can at Liverpool. With Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz arriving over the last six months at Anfield, it feels like Liverpool have already made the moves to replace Mane and Salah long-term. Now it’s all about whether they sell Salah this summer or risk him running down his contract and leaving for free next summer. The latter option would not be good for Liverpool from a business sense, especially as they’ve been very good in terms of net spend and bringing in like-for-like replacements over the last six years. (JPW)
June 22 – Sadio Mane unveiled by Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich is claiming Sadio Mane as a coup for its club and league after the Bundesliga champions unveiled the 30-year-old on Wednesday.
“In Sadio Mane a top international star is coming to FC Bayern, who has left his mark on world football. We’re proud to have brought him to Munich. Sadio made it clear from the first minute in our talks that he now only wanted to play for FC Bayern. Everyone knows his outstanding technical qualities as well as his incredible mentality. He will contribute a lot and help to lead our team, which has a great structure. The fact that he’s joining FC Bayern shows that our club and he have big aims. Sadio Mané fits perfectly with the football that FC Bayern play under Julian Nagelsmann.” (NM)
June 22 – Liverpool, Monaco agree transfer fee for Takumi Minamino
Takumi Minamino’s time at Anfield appears to be over after Liverpool and Monaco reportedly agreed a transfer fee for the 27-year-old Japan international. The fee is said to be just shy of $16 million, with an additional $3 million possible in add-ons. After signing Minamino for $9 million two and a half years ago, Liverpool are set to make a small profit in the deal (plus any loan fee they received from Southampton in 2021. (AE)
June 21 – Sadio Mane arrives in Munich ahead of move to Bayern
The Senegal star is inching closer to his move to Bayern Munich as he is in Bavaria for his medical. Mane, 30, will soon become a Bayern player after the clubs agreed a fee of over $43 million. Liverpool fans will be sad to see these scenes but Mane leaves a legend as he scored 120 goals in 269 games for the Reds and epitomized what they were all about under Jurgen Klopp. At Bayern he will be the main man (Robert Lewandowski is expected to leave) and it felt like he was keen to have a fresh challenge in his career after winning every trophy possible with Liverpool over the last six seasons. Mane’s incredible consistency, intensity and quality will be tough to replace and he will always be a hero at Anfield. (JPW)
Highly-regarded right back Calvin Ramsay, 18, has arrived from Aberdeen in a deal reportedly worth $8 million. Ramsay was wanted by plenty of Premier League clubs but Liverpool’s pull was too strong and given Jurgen Klopp’s record of nurturing young talent (Harvey Elliott, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Curtis Jones to name a few) this move makes a lot of sense.
“There’s obviously a pathway here – that’s one of the reasons I chose it as well. It’s not just a massive club, they give young players chances in the first team,” Ramsay said.
“So if I can come in in pre-season, put my mark down, then there’s no reason why I can’t push to get in the first-team squad.”
Ramsay has been sensational for Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership and is a Scotland U21 international already. He will have his work cut-out to replace TAA at right back but perhaps his arrival will allow the Alexander-Arnold to move further forward or even play in central midfield? (JPW)
Ramsay is a Red 🙌🔴
We are delighted to announce the signing of @calvinramsay03 from Aberdeen, subject to international clearance.
Liverpool is awaiting a fresh bid from Bayern Munich for star winger Sadio Mane, as reports claim the Senegalese has agreed to terms with Germany’s serial champions.
Mane, 29, has been linked to Bayern for some time and Fabrizio Romano says that it’ll be a three-year contract for the forward.
Liverpool has signed Darwin Nunez this summer and added Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota last season to reinvigorate its attack. This asks more questions of Mohamed Salah, who is entering the final year of his deal at Anfield (NM).
June 14 – Darwin Nunez unveiled by Liverpool
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is excited by the potential of his latest massive purchase, especially because possible nine-figure striker Darwin Nunez is already very, very good.
“Darwin is a wonderful player; already really good but so much potential to get even better,” Klopp said. “That’s why it’s so exciting, to be honest. His age, his desire, his hunger to be even better than he currently is. His belief in our project and what we are looking to do as a club.”
Read more about the League Cup and FA Cup winners’ latest big cash splash, here (NM).
June 12 – Liverpool set to sign Darwin Nunez for club-record $105 million
Darwin Nunez to Liverpool looks to be close to completion, as the Uruguayan ace is reportedly on his way to Anfield.
According to Fabrizio Romano, the 22-year-old Benfica star has agreed a six-year contact at Liverpool and the Premier League giants have also agreed a transfer fee with his current club. Per the report, Liverpool will pay Benfica a guaranteed $84 million and could pay up to another $21 million in add-ons. After being on international duty with Uruguay over the last few weeks, Nunez left Uruguay’s camp and has flown to Madrid, Spain and is set to travel to England to complete his medical and sign the contract on Monday.
Darwin Nunez impressed Klopp when Liverpool played against Benfica (Nunez scored in each leg) and is a rising star in world soccer. His aggression, clinical finishing and pace mean he is perfect for this Liverpool team and will slot in well alongside Luis Diaz and Mohamed Salah (at least for next season) up top. Liverpool don’t mess around once they identify a player they want to sign and Nunez ticks all of the boxes Jurgen Klopp wants from a striker. This deal make so much sense it’s almost too perfect of a fit. (JPW)
June 8 – Reds ready to break their transfer record for Darwin Nunez
Jurgen Klopp could bring Uruguayan center forward Darwin Nunez to Anfield as the Reds continue to spend as much as much as the next guy. The 22-year-old Nunez is going to cost significantly more than Manchester City paid for Erling Haaland, who had a release clause in his Borussia Dortmund contract.
June 7 – Liverpool lose Aurelien Tchouameni race as Real Madrid seal $107-million deal
Liverpool were reportedly one of three clubs in the final running for Aurelien Tchouameni, but the 22-year-old Monaco midfielder is likely headed to Real Madrid after the reigning European champions got the best of the Reds once more. It’ll be $85 million upfront, with the remaining $22 million available through add-ons. (AE)
June 7 – Liverpool reject opening bid from Bayern Munich for Sadio Mane
Bayern Munich reportedly offered $26 million (plus $5 million in add-ons) for Sadio Mane, but the Bundesliga giants were quickly turned away by Liverpool. Bayern will no doubt be back with another offer, though they hope to cap their costs at around $50 million. (AE)
May 31 – Darwin Nunez on Liverpool’s radar
According to a report from FootballTransfers, Uruguayan forward Darwin Nunez, 22, is a target for the Reds this summer. After a superb season at Benfica the center forward is a wanted man as Manchester United, Newcastle, Real Madrid and several of Europe’s top clubs are chasing his signature. With Sadio Mane looking to be on his way out and question marks over the future of Mohamed Salah, Klopp may need to strengthen this attack this summer. After bringing in Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota over the last 12 months, Liverpool have strength in-depth but Nunez would give them something very different in attack with his hold-up play, runs in-behind and ability to run the channels from a central position. (JPW)
A thoroughly disappointing Premier League campaign saw West Ham finish 14th after avoiding relegation with only two games remaining, but all is well that ends well — at least as far as under-fire manager David Moyes is concerned. After 25 years as a manager, Moyes is also a major trophy winner himself (his Preston North End side was crowned third-tier champions in 1999-2000).
12 – West Ham United won more games in the Europa Conference League (12) than in the Premier League this season (11), the first time ever an English side has won more games in European competition than in the league in a single season. Specialists. pic.twitter.com/qJ9jGDWziK
Play was stopped following some unsavory scenes in the 33rd minute, when Fiorentina left back Cristiano Biraghi was struck in the head by what appeared to be a plastic cup thrown from the stands. The object opened a cut on the back of Biraghi’s head, which turned red as blood streamed down his neck and required bandaging before play resumed. On more than one occasion, objects were thrown onto the field as Fiorentina took corner kicks.
Fiorentina appeared to have broken the deadlock with the final touch of the first half, as Luka Jovic headed a rebound over the goal line after Christian Kouame’s header hit the post, but the assistant referee immediately flagged for offside and the decision was upheld by video review.
After 60 mostly uneventful minutes, the Europa Conference League final burst to life right on the hour mark. As Bowen trapped the ball with his chest and turned to run toward goal, Biraghi tried to position himself between Bowen and the ball, but only managed to punch it away with his hand. Video review revealed a clear handball offense, and Said Benrahma hammered the ensuring penalty kick into the upper-90.
The Hammers’ lead lasted only five minutes, though, and what a beauty of an equalizer it was that drew Fiorentina level. Giacomo Bonaventura showed off with some sensational close control, collecting the ball and unleashing a volley from a tight angle with two fast touches in one smooth motion.
Just as extra-time appeared to be inevitable, it was once again Bowen at the center of a rare moment of positive play for West Ham. Lucas Paqueta slipped a through ball behind Fiorentina’s defense and found Bowen, who timed his run perfectly before racing in on goal and beating Pietro Terracciano even though he got a shin on the strike. Along with thousands of West Ham fans behind the goal, Bowen and Co., celebrated wildly, as they undoubtedly will late into the night and perhaps also the weekend.
David Moyes has a very good idea of his starting lineup as Alphonse Areola has been his goalkeeper for European competition this season, while Declan Rice will captain the Hammers in midfield in what could be his final game in a West Ham shirt. Tomas Soucek (playing in his homeland of Czechia) will partner Rice in midfield.
Michail Antonio, Jarrod Bowen and Said Benrahma are certain to start in attack, with Lucas Paqueta also a nailed-on starter. In defense Kurt Zouma will be the main man, with Aaron Cresswell, Nayef Aguerd and Thilo Kehrer completing the defensive line. Gianluca Scamacca is the only injury absentee for West Ham with Danny Ings, Pablo Fornals and Manuel Lanzini very good options off the bench.
The main men to look out for are Arthur Cabral up top, while Moroccan star Sofyan Amrabat in midfield and Argentina winger Nicolas Gonzalez are key. Fiorentina also have the likes of Luka Jovic and Jonathan Ikone to call on in attack.
The Red Devils have Champions League football to offer once again after finishing 3rd in the Premier League this season, now they must start to chip away at the 14-point gap between themselves and three-time defending champions (and noisy neighbors) Manchester City.
Last summer, Man United brought in Lisandro Martinez, Tyrell Malacia, Casemiro, and Christian Eriksen and bolstered their squad further in January with loanees Marcel Sabitzer and Wout Weghorst.
Below we round up the latest done deals, reports, and rumors and give our analysis on Manchester United transfer news as Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Nicholas Mendola (NM) and Andy Edwards (AE) will guide you through a hectic month.
Striker – A goal-scoring, line-leading star man to permanently move Marcus Rashford to the left wing/underneath.
Midfielder(s) – A more attacking box-to-box player than Fred/Donny van de Beek; an upgrade of Casemiro’s backup/someone who can play alongside him (currently Scott McTominay).
Goalkeeper(s) – Maybe as many as three, if David de Gea doesn’t sign a new contract.
Manchester United archived transfer news today, live!
June 6 – Who’s at the top of the center back wish list?
While Raphael Varane has been great, Lisandro Martinez impressive, and Victor Lindelof reborn, there’s still desire for strengthening the center back corps at Old Trafford.
Rumors Tuesday said Harry Maguire could be out the door and that Tottenham Hotspur has interest under new coach Ange Postecoglou, but who would might be coming to Man United?
Napoli’s Kim Min-Jae has a $50 million release clause and was absolutely monstrous for the Neapolitans in their huge scudetto-winning season. The 26-year-old is a brilliant passer and an absolute force in the air.
But hold on: L’Equipe says that United’s center back priority is versatile World Cup winner Benjamin Pavard. The Bayern Munich star can also play right back and has elite metrics in pretty much every statistical area.
Who would you rather have, Man Utd fans? (NM)
June 4 – Diogo Costa links continue
United is moving to sort out its goalkeeper situation and its months-long links with Portuguese star Diogo Costa are resurfacing.
A Bola says that Costa, 23, will leave Porto following Sunday’s cup final against Braga, and that Man United is joined by Chelsea and Newcastle in pursuit of the backstop.
But Erik ten Hag’s bunch is leading the way for his signature and the Red Devils could have a new No. 1. Currently, United boasts David De Gea, Jack Butland, and Tom Heaton, plus Dean Henderson is returning from loan.
All but Henderson are out of contract at the end of the season. Butland is not expected to be back and Henderson will want someone’s No. 1 shirt. De Gea? Who knows. This could be the time for Costa. (NM)
June 2 – Talks ongoing for young forwards
According to The Athletic, Manchester United have been in ‘detailed talks’ over the signing of Randal Kolo Muani and Rasmus Hojlund. The young forward duo are both being chased by the Red Devils as Erik ten Hag wants to add one of them and a more experienced striker. Per the report, John Murtaugh has spoken to both Eintracht Frankfurt and Atalanta multiple times about Kolo Muani and Hojlund respectively and United are hoping to move on with chasing summer targets despite uncertainty surrounding their ownership status as the Glazer Family continue to explore the option of a full or partial sale of the Premier League giants. Kolo Muani and Hojlund both fit the mould for the type of player Erik ten Hag wants and if United can land one of them and somehow pull off an unlikely move for Harry Kane (unlikely due to Daniel Levy’s unwillingness to do business) then it will be a heck of a summer for the Red Devils. (JPW)
June 1 – United move to front of queue for Mason Mount
A report from ESPN says that Manchester United have moved to the front of the queue when it comes to signing Mason Mount this summer. Mount, 24, has just one year left on his contract at Chelsea and is expected to move on this summer. Mount has been linked with moves to United and Liverpool but the report says that Mount is keen on heading to United although the Red Devils have some reservations over the $75 million transfer fee Chelsea are asking for. Per the report, clubs are waiting for later in the summer to try and buy Mount as they known Chelsea will have to move players on due to the enormous squad Mauricio Pochettino has inherited and will have to trim. Does Mount to United make sense? It does. He can slot in anywhere in Erik ten Hag’s midfield and is the perfect kind of player to add depth to their squad and be a great 12th man or step in when key midfielders are injured or need a rest. His time at Chelsea is clearly coming to an end and even though Mount has struggled this season at Chelsea, his quality is proven in the Premier League in recent years and on the international stage with England. (JPW)
May 25 – Harry Kane, Declan Rice, Mason Mount are summer targets
A report from our partners in the UK at Sky Sports says that Manchester United are trying to sign a trio of England internationals: Harry Kane, Mason Mount and Declan Rice.
“Manchester United will try to sign Harry Kane, Declan Rice and Mason Mount this summer. Their No. 1 target is Kane. He is the player Erik ten Hag wants most. It is unlikely they will sign all three players and everything depends on what happens with the takeover. Kane, Rice and Mount are exactly the kind of characters Ten Hag wants in his dressing room.”
It is clear Kane will be the top target for United as Erik ten Hag has spoken about signing a new striker and that is their main transfer need. It is tough to see Tottenham selling Kane to a direct top four rival in Manchester United for anything less than $130 million, even with Kane’s contract winding down. That said, do you take that money this summer and use it to rebuild? Or let him go for free in the summer of 2024?
Next up, Declan Rice will surely be their next main target, as all three of these players have just one year left on their contract. Rice, 24, is just the type of player United need alongside Casemiro in central midfield and the England international has become one of the best two-way central midfielders in Europe under the age of 25. Rice’s close friend is Mason Mount and the latter clearly doesn’t want to sign a new contract at Chelsea, so he could be the cheaper option of the three. All of this hinges on Manchester United’s takeover but if, as expected, they qualify for the Champions League, then signing two of these three players would be a huge upgrade on their current options and gives them quality, depth and experience in midfield and attack. First choice would be Kane and Rice but Kane and Mount would still be pretty decent. (JPW)
May 20 – Rasmus Hojlund to Manchester United?
A report from The Times says that Manchester United are looking to sign Denmark and Atalanta forward Rasmus Hojlund. The 20-year-old has scored seven goals in 29 games for Atalanta and the report says he could be available for $50 million this summer. Hojlund’s style of play slots in with what United want from their forwards and his speed, technical ability and height will give them a different options in attack.
Per the report, Manchester United will still focus on signing Harry Kane this summer but they also want Hojlund to arrive to give Erik ten Hag extra attacking options. Scoring goals has been an issue for United this season as they’re the second-lowest goalscorer in the top 10.
May 15 – Man United looking back into Adrien Rabiot
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before…
L’Equipe says Manchester United is ready to pursue Adrien Rabiot of Juventus a season after missing out on the French midfielder last summer.
Rabiot, 28, has eight goals and three assists this season and his advanced metrics are very good in ball progression, aerials, and defending.
Erik ten Hag will certainly be looking to upgrade his midfield depth alongside 31-year-old Casemiro. Might Rabiot be a good fit? (NM)
April 24 – More buzz on Harry Kane to Manchester United
Tottenham’s 6-1 loss to Newcastle at the weekend put a serious crimp in the club’s top-four plans and Manchester United may seem the time as right to strike in its striker search.
United’s been linked with Harry Kane for a while and Kane has to be questioning is future with Cristian Stellini the latest Tottenham coach to be fired by Daniel Levy, and that move coming amid reports that former boss Mauricio Pochettino is the front-runner for the Chelsea job.
(command-c, command-v) Kane, 29, is heading into the final year of his Tottenham contract and is being mentioned as a target for Bayern Munich and others. United would make sense here, too, as a new center forward is top of their list. (NM)
April 9 – Man Utd become front-runner for long-time Ten Hag target Frimpong
Frimpong, 22, came up through the ranks at Manchester City and exploded onto the scene with a move to Celtic in 2019.
The youngster impressed in 1.5 seasons in Glasgow, winning a Premiership, Scottish Cup, and League Cup treble before moving to Bayer Leverkusen midway through the 2020-21 season.
He’s on fire this season, with eight goals and six assists from the wide places. His ball progression numbers are outlandish in nearly 2.5 seasons with the Bundesliga outfit, and Ten Hag is said to have wanted to bring him to Old Trafford last summer, too. (NM)
March 28 – Goncalo Ramos emerges as top target for summer
Benfica and Portugal forward Goncalo Ramos has emerged as a top target for Manchester United this summer. According to a report from Record in Portugal, United want to sign Ramos as they need a new man to lead their attack. Per the report, Ramos has a release clause of $130 million in his contract. Given that Manchester United would have to pay a similar fee for Harry Kane and a deal for Kane would prove very difficult given Spurs’ reluctance to sell to a Premier League rivals, perhaps a move for Ramos, 21, is more attainable?
It would slot in with their philosophy of buying young emerging talents such as Jadon Sancho and Antony in recent windows and Ramos’ style of play would suit Erik ten Hag and United well. With injury issues to Anthony Martial throughout this season and Wout Weghorst expected to return to Burnley when his loan ends this summer, only Marcus Rashford is around to lead the charge up top. Even he is better starting out on the left so signing a new striker is a priority for ETH this summer and Ramos is experienced enough at a very young age, but also on the way up with plenty of room for improvement, to suggest he would be the perfect long-term option. (JPW)
March 27 – Manu Kone price tag starts at $53M plus add-ons
Kouadio “Manu” Kone is being linked with a move to Manchester United as the Red Devils look to invigorate their midfield with a player who won’t turn 22 until May.
Kone debuted for Toulouse as a teenager and came into his own once the club was relegated to Ligue 2 for the 2020-21 season.
His performances there got him a move to Borussia Monchengladbach, where the central midfielder has become a regular contributor as an aggressive dribbler and tackler.
March 23 – Red Devils to beat Chelsea to Watford teenage starlet
Watford left back Harry Amass is on the fast track to Hornets success, but instead may choose life in Manchester United’s academy over first team time at age 16 (?!).
Amass is an England U-15 and U-16 call-up who has made the bench for Watford against Reading in a January FA Cup match.
The London Evening Standard says that Amass believed a Champions League regular would be a better spot for his growth, and that Manchester United is expected to win his signature over Chelsea. (NM)
March 15 – Manchester United linked with $145 million bid for Eintracht forward
Regarding our latest update, Manchester United being linked with nine-figure strikers may become rather common until it solves its center forward challenges.
Bild, via Sky Sports, says that United will offer around $145 million for Eintracht Frankfurt’s Randal Kolo Muani, The 24-year-old forward scored his first senior goal for France when he added Les Bleus’ second goal of a 2-0 win over Morocco. He has five caps.
Kolo Muani’s star has risen dramatically over the past three seasons. He joined Nantes at age 17 and took a Championnat National loan before scoring nine Ligue 1 goals and eight assists two seasons again and bagging 12 goals in his second season.
Kolo Muani then signed for Eintracht Frankfurt and his first season in Germany has been exceptional. He has 16 goals and 14 assists across all competitions and Eintracht made it to the Champions League Round of 16 (where it seems destined to dip out following Wednesday’s second leg at Napoli, where it’s down 2-0).
FBRef.com details Kolo Muani as an elite ball carrier for a center forward, but the price tag is absolutely massive. That said, perhaps $100M is the new $50M. Rich. (NM)
March 11 – Harry Kane is Erik ten Hag’s No. 1 summer target
Imagine a Manchester United attacking three of Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, and Antony, sitting underneath Harry Kane.
Come on, right? That’ll give any back line a run for its money, and the Manchester Evening Newssays that Erik ten Hag has prioritized Kane for a summer move.
Kane, 29, is heading into the final year of his Tottenham contract, with Spurs looking a good bet to keep their place in the top four and give Kane a route back into the Champions League.
But Kane has also been heavily linked with a move to Bayern Munich if he were to leave Tottenham, leaving North London without drawing as much domestic ire from a club and fan base which has earned him so much devotion.
The same report says Anthony Martial is going to leave United this summer.
Could you see Kane at Old Trafford in a home shirt? The powerhouse forward has been as crucial a finisher as any player in the Premier League not named Erling Haaland. Kane has 22 goal involvements in 27 Premier League games, not far off Haaland’s — relatively speaking — 32 in 25. (NM)
February 27 — Red Devils linked with Celta Vigo starlet
Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, and Man Utd are reportedly in hot pursuit of the 20-year-old, viewing as a ball-carrying wizard with a eye for goal.
Veiga has eight goals, three assists, and 46 shot-creating actions during 22 La Liga matches for Celta, where he plays as an attacking midfielder and has earned call-ups to Spain’s U-18 and U-21 sides. (NM)
Manchester United confirmed transfers & signings – January 2023 window
January 31 – Marcel Sabitzer wants to leave Bayern Munich
Surprising moves between Munich and Manchester may not be limited to Joao Cancelo’s move abroad.
Marcel Sabitzer could end his frustrating spell at Bayern Munich by heading to Manchester United, as the Austrian is reportedly unhappy with his usage at Bayern.
The move makes a ton of sense now that Christian Eriksen is out until at least April with injury, and Sabitzer would likely be freed up to make more adventurous passes. He’s been in a more defensive role at Bayern.
A hard-tackling midfielder who likes to both advance the ball and receive the ball in advanced spots, Sabitzer could be another masterstroke from Erik ten Hag. (NM)
Marcel Sabitzer wants to leave and Manchester United are now pushing in talks with Bayern. Discussions on the formula of the deal, ongoing. 🚨🔴 #MUFC#DeadlineDay
One reason to consider this a bit unusual is that Diogo Dalot has become a Ten Hag favorite and currently occupies the right flank with Aaron Wan-Bissaka as the backup. Of course Ten Hag wants depth but Dumfries isn’t leaving Inter Milan to be a backup.
January 12 – Weghorst to United officially official
It is done. According to our partners in the UK at Sky Sports, Wout Weghorst terminated his loan deal with Besiktas, completed his medical and officially joined Manchester United on loan. It was widely reported that United have paid $3.2 million in compensation to Besiktas to sign Weghorst on loan from Burnley until the summer. Erik ten Hag wanted an extra forward option and the 30-year-old Dutch striker is his man. Weghorst will give United something totally different and his hold-up play should suit their style of play extremely well. (JPW/AE)
January 10 – Reports say Weghorst ready to personally pay compensation to leave Besiktas
Okay, this is pretty wild, but reports from Turkish journalist Gokhan Dinc state that Wout Weghorst is ready to pay compensation to Besiktas so he can rip up his loan deal with them and head to Manchester United. That’s right, the 30-year-old Dutch forward will dip into his own pocket to pay the termination fee to the Turkish giants who have an agreement with Burnley to loan him for this season. With Manchester United coming in for Weghorst and wanting to loan him until the summer, the forward is said to be desperate to join the Red Devils and even waved goodbye to Besiktas fans after scoring his most recent goal for them. This is fast moving but Weghorst was pictured training with Besiktas in photos released on Tuesday, so it appears there is still a little way to go in this one. (JPW)
January 9 – Besiktas holding firm over Weghorst deal; monster deals lined up summer
Turkish giants Besiktas have released a statement saying there will be no imminent move from Burnley to Manchester United for their on-loan striker Wout Weghorst. They added that reports suggesting it is possible to get Weghorst out of his loan deal to them for $3 million are wide of the mark. The Dutch forward is subject of serious interest from United as a loan signing until the end of the season as Erik ten Hag looks to boost his attacking options.
Weghorst is currently on loan at Besiktas from Burnley but the Turkish Super Lig side want to be compensated if Burnley decides to recall him and then he heads to United. The Dutch international, 30, has scored eight goals in 16 league games for Besiktas this season and they are extremely reluctant to let him go. Weghorst will give United an aerial threat up top, plus he can hold up the ball, link play and Erik ten Hag knows him extremely well. Per a report from ESPN, Weghorst is the short-term solution and in the summer United will try to sign Harry Kane, Benjamin Sesko or Victor Osimhen. That trio are the long-term options for United to build their attack around but in the meantime they certainly need to add one forward who is something different to what they already have and can help them in the League Cup, FA Cup, Europa League and Premier League grind. (JPW)
January 7 – Man United negotiating loan move for Wout Weghorst
Earlier this week, Erik ten Hag made Manchester United’s January intentions very clear: “We are looking for a striker,” he said. According to multiple reports, the Red Devils are in talks with Burnley over Dutch forward Wout Weghorst, who is currently on loan to Besiktas. To facilitate a move to Old Trafford — temporary or otherwise — Burnley would have to recall Weghorst from his loan spell in Turkey. (AE)
Jan. 4 – Jack Butland in talks over becoming United’s No. 2 goalkeeper
According to The Telegraph Jack Butland, still just 29 years old, is in talks about signing for Manchester United. Butland is currently the back-up goalkeeper at Crystal Palace but with Martin Dubravka recalled by Newcastle United from his loan at Manchester United, the Red Devils need an extra goalkeeper to step in for David de Gea when needed. They currently have Tom Heaton as their other goalkeeping option.
Butland is an England international who suffered a serious ankle injury just when he was pushing to become England’s No. 1 but he still made the 2018 World Cup squad. He was relegated with Stoke City just before the World Cup and battled it out with them in the Championship before moving to Crystal Palace in 2020 to try and revive his career. He has six months left on his contract at Palace and remains behind Vicente Guaita in the pecking order so swapping a back-up role at Palace for a back-up role at United is a pretty decent move. Butland will likely play in FA Cup, League Cup and perhaps some Europa League games for United and with David de Gea’s future not certain, perhaps a spot could open up for him to fully revive his career? (JPW)
Jan. 2 – Ten Hag: “We are looking for a striker”
With a top-four place very much within reach, Erik ten Hag has confirmed Manchester United’s top January priority: a striker.
“We are looking for offensive players. We are looking for a striker. We are always in the market but it has to match the sporting criteria — also the financial criteria. We do what we can to bring in the players we need.”
Dec. 29 – Manchester United, Tottenham open talks with Rennes for Martin Terrier
Discussions about a new center forward at Manchester United had become commonplace even before it cut ties with Cristiano Ronaldo but another left winger (who, yes, also plays some center forward)?
Terrier has become a regular amongst the Ligue 1 scoring charts, bagging 21 goals last season and already delivering eight in 14 matches this season. He’s chipped in three goals in Europa League and also had provided 11 assists across all competitions since the start of last season.
Very strong in the air and a good passer to boot, Terrier is an expected goals and assists monster who could combine with Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, and Anthony Martial (plus others) to haunt Premier League defenses. Problem is, might he match up just as well with Harry Kane and Tottenham? Antonio Conte is said to be on the case. (NM)
Dec. 21 – Cody Gakpo to continue Eredivisie imports at Old Trafford
UPDATE: Gakpo has signed for Liverpool
PSV Eindhoven held onto young Cody Gakpo this summer and the Dutch club looks fit to reap the rewards as it holds out for a club record transfer fee.
That wouldn’t be a problem for Man United if it goes for Gakpo, who has been rated at $50 million-plus and that fee has not been a problem in the past. According to talkSPORT, United are ‘desperate’ to sign Gakpo in January.
There are some Robin van Persie qualities in the 23-year-old’s game, but Gakpo will be hoping to find RVP’s highs and reproduce them more often in his career.
Gakpo stands 6-foot-2 and often comes off the left wing, scoring three goals in five appearances at the 2022 World Cup.
The Netherlands star has an almost-absurd nine goals and 12 assists in 14 Eredivisie minutes this young season, chipping in three more goals and two assists in the Europa League.
He’d join Lisandro Martinez, Antony, and Tyrell Malacia as imports from the Netherlands’ top flight. (NM)
Dec. 21 – Diogo Costa to join World Cup teammate Bruno Fernandes in Old Trafford move?
Note the vowel: This is not about Diego Costa, now at Wolves.
No, it’s DIogo Costa, who was Portugal’s goalkeeper at the recently-completed World Cup in Qatar and apparently got tongues wagging around Old Trafford.
But the Red Devils would have to wait until summer, according to a report translated by Sky Sports, and they will have to pay Porto big bucks.
According to Portuguese outlet Correio da Manha, Costa will not be allowed to leave Porto in January and any move in the summer would require United to pay the full €75m (£65m) to release him.
The Swiss-born 23-year-old has 11 caps for Portugal and allowed just six goals in five matches in Qatar. Costa has appeared for Portugal at the U15-U21 levels and also performed for the Olympic team.
Manchester United 2022-23 confirmed transfers & signings — Summer
Lisandro Martinez – Ajax ($68.7 million)
Tyrell Malacia – Feyenoord ($13.2 million, plus $2 million possible add-ons)
Christian Eriksen – Free
Casemiro – Real Madrid ($70 million)
Antony – Ajax ($103 million)
Martin Dubravka – Newcastle United (loan – $3.5 million fee)
Andreas Pereira – Fulham ($11.9 million)
Dean Henderson – Nottingham Forest (loan)
Paul Pogba (end of contract)
Nemanja Matic – Roma (free transfer)
Juan Mata (end of contract)
Edinson Cavani (end of contract)
Jesse Lingard (end of contract)
Lee Grant (end of contract)
Eric Bailly – Marseille (loan – $3 million fee)
Manchester United archived transfer news, rumors
August 31 – Ronaldo expected to stay at Man United; Antony, Dubravka to be last signings
Erik ten Hag has said he expects Cristiano Ronaldo to stay at Manchester United as the transfer deadline ticks down, while the Dutch coach also confirmed that winger Antony and goalkeeper Martin Dubravka will be United’s final pieces of business in the summer window.
Ronaldo, 37, has been linked with a move away all summer as it is believed he wanted to move on and play for a team in the Champions League. However, no deals have been lined up for him and Erik ten Hag and United have always stated that they want Ronaldo to stay. It seems like they may win this battle as the only real options left are Sporting Lisbon and Napoli on loan, and even those two deals seem very tough to get done with just over 24 hours to go in the summer window.
“It’s clear, of course. We need quality players,” Erik ten Hag said when asked about Ronaldo staying at United. “You need more to cover all the games to keep the consistency going, that’s what we strive for.”
If he doesn’t leave, let’s see how Ronaldo reacts to being a bit-part played at United over the next few months… (JPW)
August 29 – Antony flying to Manchester for medical ahead of $100 million move
Brazilian winger Antony, 22, will be on his way to Manchester shortly for his medical, according to Fabrizio Romano. After United and Ajax finally agreed a fee of $100 million (after a little push from Antony as he expressed his desire to leave the Amsterdam club), Antony is now ready to head to Manchester to complete the formalities of this huge deal. Do United need a winger? Probably not. But Antony’s arrival would add another attacking player who is able to play across the front line and United’s forward unit would become even more flexible. (JPW)
Manchester United are planning for Antony's arrival and medical tests, while contracts have been approved by clubs and player side. Five year deal with option for further season, here we go confirmed. 🚨🛩 #MUFC
August 19 – Man United confirm agreement with Casemiro, Real Madrid
Man United announced on Friday that an agreement has been reached with Casemiro and Real Madrid, with the 30-year-old Brazilian defensive midfielder set to move to Old Trafford upon completion of his medical exams. Casemiro recently held talks with the Real Madrid hierarchy and indicated that he “wants a new challenge” at this point in his career. According to reports, Casemiro’s contract will pay him just short of $450,000 per week ($23.4 million annually), marking significant investment in a vitally important position as Erik ten Hag tries to right a wayward ship. The transfer fee is reportedly $70.9 million with another $11.8 million possible in add-ons. (AE)
We are delighted to have reached an agreement in principle for the transfer of @Casemiro 🇧🇷#MUFC
August 19 – Manchester United “making progress” on USMNT right back Sergino Dest
Sergiño Dest is not wanted by current Barcelona manager Xavi — not to mention, the club needs to rid itself of unwanted wages in the worst way — making the 21-year-old USMNT right back extremely available. The only problem, at least thus far, is that Dest doesn’t necessarily want to leave Catalonia. Now, according to a report from the Independent‘s Miguel Delaney, Manchester United and new manager Erik ten Hag are “making progress” on a deal to bring Dest to Old Trafford. Dest played two seasons under Ten Hag at Ajax, from 2019-2021. (AE)
The reports that Christian Pulisic is a loan target for Manchester United are swirling but both the BBC and Sky Sports believe a loan move for the USMNT star to United is very unlikely. Why? Well, Chelsea don’t want to strengthen a potential top four rival by letting the 23-year-old join them. Per the latest reports, Chelsea would prefer to sell Pulisic on a permanent deal or they may want him to extend his contract with them first before loaning him so his market value remains high. It seems unlikely that United, or any other club, will pay what Chelsea want for Pulisic as the American winger has just under two years left on his contract and the Blues are said to want to recoup most of the $70 million they paid for him in 2019. (JPW)
August 18 – Casemiro now the main target for United
According to a report from The Athletic’s David Ornstein, Manchester United’s main transfer target is now Casemiro from Real Madrid. The 30-year-old Brazilian midfielder has been a star at Real over the last nine years, winning five UEFA Champions League titles and his status as a Real legend is undoubted as he’s meshed so well with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric. Per the report, United have offered Casemiro huge wages and see him as being key to Erik ten Hag’s rebuild as he would give the team defensive stability in midfield. The midfielder is also said to be keen on a move (he’s been offered a five-year contract which will reportedly almost double his wages) and he has just under three years left on his current contract at Real Madrid. It is believed Casemiro would cost in the region of $70 million.
Would Casemiro be a good fit? Of course he would. He would break up play, get attacks going and general dominate the engine room. However, he is just one of a few key players United need to sign between now and the end of the summer window. Erik ten Hag needs a deep-lying playmaker (ahem, Frenkie de Jong…) to sit alongside Casemiro as that means all of the tackles he wins will then be used effectively to start attacks. Perhaps Christian Eriksen alongside Casemiro would work? (JPW)
August 17 – Cristiano Ronaldo sends cryptic message ahead of expected exit
Cristiano Ronaldo is apparently keeping a notebook with all of his transfer rumors, as the egomaniac Portuguese megastar is reportedly moving closer to get his desired Manchester United exit, with the club reportedly now ready to sell him.
Ronaldo says that the media has been “telling lies” about him and his potential moves while promising that he will give an interview in two weeks’ time to give all the details of his summer. Does this mean he’s planning to stay, or just that he knows any Ronaldo transfer is going to take to the end of the transfer window?
Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Newcastle United, and AC Milan have also been linked with Pulisic, who wants to stay at Chelsea but is anxious to leave Stamford Bridge in pursuit of playing time before the World Cup.
United could pair Pulisic and Jadon Sancho on either side of a center forward, whether Anthony Martial, Cristiano Ronaldo, or even Marcus Rashford. A new face has been expected to join United at CF for some time, too.
What does it say about the status of Manchester United that Chelsea would be open to the move? And to a lesser extent, what does it say about Thomas Tuchel’s view of Pulisic? (NM)
August 14 – USMNT back Sergino Dest linked with Old Trafford
Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez needs players to leave in order to give him the freedom to register new players before the end of the window but Sergino Dest has so far shown desire to fight for his place.
And so Dest’s omission from the 18 for Barcelona’s 0-0 draw with Rayo Vallecano on Saturday is reportedly intended to show the USMNT back his status in the pecking order, and now Man United is said to feel encouraged at their chances of wooing the player to Old Trafford.
Dest will surely want to play and Saturday could well serve as the intended wake-up call. Gregg Berhalter will be encouraging Dest to go somewhere he can play and United would provide that hope with reports of Diogo Dalot going the other way. With a pal in Frenkie de Jong continually linked with United, maybe having a teammate join them in the move could sway both to Manchester?
Would it be good for Dest? Who knows? United is a mess right now but the player would be familiar with so many pieces at United including fellow ex-Ajax men Lisandro Martinez and Erik ten Hag. (NM)
👉DEST: fuera de la lista. -Decisión técnica. -Lo entiende como una medida de presión del Club para que busque una salida. -Dest mantiene que quiere triunfar aquí y demostrar que tiene sitio en este Barça. -De momento no hay negociaciones de de Dest con otros clubes. @tjcope
According to a report from The Athletic, a deal for Marko Arnautovic is off after uproar among United’s fanbase. Per the report, United’s hierarchy didn’t expect such a negative reaction and Bologna also began to increase their asking price for the Austrian striker. Let’s see who United move for next when it comes to forward options? (JPW)
Excl: Manchester United pull out of Marko Arnautovic pursuit.
Bologna pricing player out of low-cost bracket + complaints from fans seen as contributing factors.
July 29 – Ronaldo to play for Manchester United in preseason friendly this weekend
Cristiano Ronaldo may want to leave Man United this summer, but with a clear path away from Old Trafford yet to materialize, the 37-year-old is set to join his Red Devil teammates in a preseason friendly this weekend. Ronaldo made the announcement himself on Friday, via Instagram, commented “Domingo o rei joga” — “Sunday, the king plays.” It was reported earlier on Friday that the Portuguese superstar had been left out of Erik ten Hag’s squad for a friendly against Atletico Madrid on Saturday (in Oslo, Norway), but Ronaldo has indicated his return is slated for a friendly against Rayo Vallecano on Sunday (at Old Trafford). (AE)
July 29 – Ronaldo’s agent in talks with former club Sporting Lisbon
We now that Cristiano Ronaldo wants out of Manchester United and his first-ever club, Sporting Lisbon, could be the solution. According to a report from The Athletic, Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge Mendes, is in talks with the Sporting hierarchy over a potential deal. Ronaldo, 37, came up through the youth team at Sporting and left them for Manchester United when he was 18. Sporting finished second in the Portuguese top-flight last season, so are in the Champions League group stage and Ronaldo is adamant he wants to move to a club playing in the Champions League. So, in theory, this seems like a good fit. But financially there’s no way Sporting Lisbon could afford this move and Ronaldo will have to lower his wage demands massively.
With Atletico Madrid, Napoli, Bayern Munich and Chelsea all passing up on signing Ronaldo, the legendary forward has basically run out of other options to leave Manchester United this summer. There has been talk that United want Ronaldo to sign his option of an extra year on his contract (which will take him up to the summer of 2024) and he will then be loaned out to Sporting Lisbon for the 2022-23 season. That scenario still seems very unlikely but what other choice does Ronaldo have right now? He’s used to getting his own way when it comes to negotiations because, well, he’s Ronaldo. But Ronaldo and his representatives have badly miscalculated this one and Manchester United are holding firm as Erik ten Hag wants him in his plans for the 2022-23 campaign. (JPW)
July 28 – Cristiano Ronaldo still wants out after talks
Manchester United could not sell Cristiano Ronaldo on its project after crisis talks with the reportedly wantaway star, according to Sky Sports.
Ronaldo, 37, still wants to leave Old Trafford after flying into Manchester to meet with club hierarchy, but is now training with the team.
The reporting says Ronaldo wants to exit in order to join a UEFA Champions League club, and to be fair this is totally on-brand and what United should’ve expected when signing the Portuguese.
But that’s not changing United’s stance on Ronaldo, as they do not want to sell him. And the story around soccer is that there may not be a club that both wants Ronaldo and can afford his wages. Sky Sports says to not completely rule out Atletico Madrid, but there’s a massive portion of the supporter base that doesn’t want the club’s longtime massive rival. Wouldn’t it be hilarious to see Ronaldo and Diego Simeone respecting each other? Seems like a recipe for success, doesn’t it?
Ronaldo wants to play in the Champions League and compete for major trophies. So does every other player in the world. It looks, for the moment, that he’s going to have to come to terms with the fact that he’s not bigger than the club, and you have to think that United would be thrilled find a buyer for him regardless of its public stance. If there’s a player in the world capable of short-circuiting Erik ten Hag’s project, he’s the one oft-mentioned in this article. (NM)
July 27 – Done deal: Lisandro Martinez deal complete
Now, we knew this deal was all but confirmed but now it is officially official: Lisandro Martinez is a Manchester United player. The Argentine international, 24, has joined United for a fee of $68.7 million and has signed a five-year contract with the option of an extra year. Martinez starred for Ajax last season as he was their player of the season under Erik ten Hag, and he now links up with his former manager to help usher in a new era at Old Trafford.
Martinez is exactly the kind of player United needed, as he will bring a calmness, authority and class to their defense. Able to play as a center back or at left back, Martinez will slot straight into this team and it will be intriguing to see if Harry Maguire loses his place or if Martinez initially plays at left back or ETH switches United to three at the back. Wherever Martinez plays, he brings quality to United and along with the signings of Christian Eriksen and Tyrell Malacia, there is a clear identity to the new players the Red Devils are signing. (JPW)
In the last few hours both Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid have talked down the idea of signing Cristiano Ronaldo. Basically, they’ve both said it isn’t going to happen. Bayern Munich director Oliver Kahn had the following to say about reports linking the German champs to Ronaldo: “We discussed about Cristiano Ronaldo internally – I consider him one of greatest footballers ever. Then we came to conclusion that, despite appreciation for Cristiano, he would not fit into our philosophy in the current situation.”
That came hours after Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo said this about reports linking Real Madrid legend Ronaldo with an audacious move to his former crosstown rivals: “I’ve already said this several times, I don’t know who invented the Cristiano story but I’ll tell you that it’s practically impossible that he comes to Atletico de Madrid. Rumors are rumors and they have to stay as rumors. If you keep on fuelling the rumors then eventually it will look like it’s something real, which it’s not.”
Ronaldo, 37, is back in Manchester at United’s Carrington training ground and is reportedly still set on leaving United this summer. But where on earth will he go? If his dream is to remain in the UEFA Champions League, there are very few options for him to join a team in the UCL which will be able to compete to win it. PSG seems like a no-go. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Bayern Munich all seem like no-go’s too. Of the 26 teams who have qualified for the Champions League group stage this season, perhaps his best option is a return to Portugal to play for Sporting Lisbon? They will do well to get out of the group stage, though, so would that be worth it for Ronaldo? United seem to be set on keeping Ronaldo for this season but if he doesn’t want to be there, is that a big mistake? We will find out much more in the coming days and it will be intriguing to see if Ronaldo is in the United squad for their opener against Brighton in 9 days’ time. (JPW)
July 26 – Ronaldo arrives at United’s training ground for talks
Blink and you’ll miss him, but the video below shows Cristiano Ronaldo arriving at Manchester United’s training ground for the first time this summer. With just over a week to go until the new season kicks off, Erik ten Hag will sit down with Ronaldo to discuss his plans and try to convince him to stay at United. Jorge Mendes, Ronaldo’s agent, was shown alongside him in the car and it was reported that Sir Alex Ferguson also arrived at the Carrington training base but our partners in the UK at Sky Sports say he was not involved in talks. Ronaldo, 37, is running out of options for a move away this summer as Bayern Munich and Chelsea both opted out of moving for the Portuguese superstar. Ronaldo reportedly wants to leave United in order to play in the UEFA Champions League. With Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho excelling as a front three in preseason for United, it may be tough for Ronaldo to actually get into this new-look United side early in the season. But, after all, he is Cristiano Ronaldo and if ETH convinces him to be a part of his plans, then surely he will play a big part in the 2022-23 campaign. (JPW)
📸 Cristiano Ronaldo and his agent Jorge Mendes arriving at Carrington
July 25 – Ronaldo traveling back to Manchester, will hold talks with United
One way or the other, the Cristiano Ronaldo want-away transfer saga must be resolved at some point, and that point in time could come much sooner rather than later. According to a report from David Ornstein, Ronaldo is traveling back to England and expected to meet with Man United executives as well as, eventually, new manager Erik ten Hag. The key line, from Ornstein’s report: (AE)
Sources around the matter suggest it is increasingly likely that Ronaldo remains at United, but there is still a lack of clarity about the situation.
July 19 – Cristiano Ronaldo saga rumbles on as Atletico Madrid linked
Cristiano Ronaldo, 37, is running out of places to move to this summer as Chelsea and Bayern Munich are out, while PSG seems very unlikely. According to a report from AS in Spain, a return to the Spanish capital could be on the cards but no, not to Real Madrid. Per the report, Ronaldo and his representatives have been contacted by Atletico Madrid and Diego Simeone really wants to sign him. As a Real Madrid legend, how would fans of Atleti take this one? If it helps them challenge for trophies in Spain and Europe then they would probably accept it. Could Ronaldo have a similar impact to Luis Suarez turning up in 2020 to help them win the Spanish title? Potentially. Still, it’s tough to see Ronaldo lining up in the red and white stripes of the team he tormented so often during his nine-year stay at Real.
The Portuguese superstar is still wanted by Man United and Erik ten Hag has gone as far as stating that Ronaldo is in his plans for this season and he could see Ronaldo extending his contract for another year (which he holds the option to do so) after a positive 2022-23 campaign. That seems unlikely as Ronaldo clearly wants to leave and although it is just preseason, Erik ten Hag’s front three of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jadon Sancho seem to be a very good fit as a unit. The kicker to all of this is that either Ronaldo would have to significantly reduce his wage demands or Atletico would have to offload plenty of other forwards just to afford him, with Alvaro Morata and Angel Correa potentially being sold. Is Ronaldo worth it for Atletico? If Simeone thinks he can add the goals and cutting edge his team is sometime lacking and can slot in to their high-pressing, manic style of play, who are we to disagree? (JPW)
July 17 – Manchester United reach agreement with Ajax for Lisandro Martinez
Arsenal were first linked with him this summer, but Lisandro Martinez appears headed for Manchester United instead after the Red Devils announced on Sunday that a $65.3-million agreement had been reached with Ajax. The 24-year-old center is expected to sign for Man United upon agreeing personal terms and/or completing a medical. (AE)
July 15 – Christian Eriksen signs for Manchester United
Christian Eriksen, 30, has signed for Manchester United as a free agent. The Danish playmaker has finally completed the move and he has signed a three-year contract at Old Trafford. This is another big move for the Red Devils as Eriksen will play a key role in helping Erik ten Hag implement his playing style.
Eriksen said the following about his arrival at Old Trafford: “Manchester United is a special club, and I cannot wait to get started. I have had the privilege of playing at Old Trafford many times but to do it in the red shirt of United will be an amazing feeling.
“I have seen Erik’s work at Ajax and know the level of detail and preparation that he and his staff put into every day. It is clear that he is a fantastic coach. Having spoken with him and learned more about his vision and the way he wants the team to play, I am even more excited for the future. I still have major ambitions in the game, there is a huge amount that I know I can achieve, and this is the perfect place to continue my journey.”
This is a superb free transfer from United and Eriksen showed his quality in the second half of last season at Brentford. His intelligence on the ball and ability to play in a variety of roles across midfield and attack will be invaluable for United. So too will his experience as United have a world-class midfielder ready to help make them tick. Now, how will ETH fit Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes and potentially Frenkie de Jong into the same team? Eriksen could play a slightly deeper role and at this stage of his career, that would be perfect for him to dictate the tempo of the game and help United keep the ball. (JPW)
July 15 – Lisandro Martinez deal is done for $55.4 million
Manchester United continue to head to the Netherlands for their new players as Ajax and Argentina defender Lisandro Martinez is about to join. Erik ten Hag was a huge fan of Martinez during his time at Ajax and the versatile defender (he can play center back or left back) will be key in improving this United defense. With Tyrell Malacia already arriving, the left-sided of United’s defense could have a totally new look this season. Martinez was chased by Arsenal for most of this summer but Martinez has decided to join United to work with ETH once again. (JPW)
Lisandro Martínez to Manchester United, here we go! Full agreement in place between Man United and Ajax for package up to €55m. Lisandro will sign until 2027, documents now approved. 🚨🔴 #MUFC