Premier League Playback: Can Manchester United afford to lose David de Gea?

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DE GEA HEADING FOR THE EXIT

“David De Gea, we want you to stay!”

That was the chant from the Manchester United fans at Old Trafford on Sunday before, during and after United’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal. The message was clear, as the reigning PL goalkeeper of the season has a big decision to make this summer.

[ RELATED: Three things we learned from Man United 1-1 Arsenal ]

His manager, Louis van Gaal, knows it too and said as much in his post-match press conference.

“I don’t think I can persuade him because he knows everything he has at Manchester United,” van Gaal said. “I don’t have to say something because he can feel it every day. You have seen the fans – unbelievable. When he is going, he is losing that. Here he has a lot of credits. He has to decide.”

De Gea, 24, has been at United for four season’s and this season he has been the star player for the Red Devils as they are back in the top four. However, Real Madrid are reportedly readying a bid for De Gea and the Spaniard may find it difficult to turn down a move back to his hometown.

[ RELATED: LVG knows he can’t force David de Gea to stay ]

With just a year left on his contract, he has been offered a new deal by United which is said to be a five-fold increase on his current wages. De Gea is adored by United’s fans and after a shaky start following his move to England as a gangly 21-year-old, the Spanish goalkeeper is now the best in the PL with several stunning displays this season reaffirming that.

However with Real looking for a long-term replacement for Iker Casillas and their current No. 2 Keylor Navas failing to impress, now would be the time to go big for De Gea as United will have to cash in on him this summer or risk losing him for nothing when his deal expires in 2016. The finances aside, can United afford to lose De Gea? This season alone he has won them 10-12 points which was the difference between them finishing inside the top four. It’s a big risk for the Red Devils if their star ‘keeper does leave and there’s no question that LVG’s plans to push on and challenge for the title next season will take a big blow if DDG departs.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]

Late on against Arsenal De Gea hobbled off with an apparent hamstring injury and was replaced by ex-Barcelona ‘keeper Victor Valdes. When Valdes was brought to the club in January on a free transfer following a combination of his ACL tear and his deal ending at Barca last summer, plenty of eyebrows were raised. Valdes is also a Spanish international who played for the Catalan giants throughout their dominant period under Pep Guardiola and at the age of 33 he still has at least four or five seasons left in him. If De Gea does leave, getting a replacement for a free transfer is good business for United but the jury is still out as to whether Valdes is a top, top goalkeeper. Other names such as Asmir Begovic have been linked with a move to United this summer if De Gea goes but amid all that uncertainty one thing is clear: United will struggle immensely to replace him.

After being replaced by Valdes on Sunday, De Gea was serenaded by the fans as he walked off the pitch and down the tunnel at Old Trafford for perhaps the final time in a United jersey.

The Spaniard has a big decision to make, and van Gaal isn’t making it any easier on him with comments like this.

“I analyse his position and then I say he is Spanish, he is a Spanish international still behind Iker Casillas,” van Gaal said. “Now a Spanish club is coming, his girlfriend is Spanish, his father and mother come every week or every two weeks here, so it is difficult.”

De Gea’s departure isn’t quite imminent, but it’s getting there.

Premier League Schedule – Week 37

Result Recap & Highlights
Burnley 0-0 Stoke Recap and watch here
Liverpool 1-3 Palace Recap and watch here
Man United 1-1 Arsenal Recap and watch here
QPR 2-1 Newcastle Recap and watch here
Saints 6-1 Villa Recap and watch here
Sunderland 0-0 Leicester Recap and watch here
Swansea 2-4 Man City Recap and watch here
Tottenham 2-0 Hull Recap and watch here
West Ham 1-2 Everton Recap and watch here
West Brom 3-0 Chelsea Recap and watch here

RELEGATION HAUNTED HULL

And then there were three. Following the past weekends results, Leicester City and Aston Villa have survived relegation but one team from Sunderland, Newcastle United and Hull City will go down in the final week of the season.

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

Leicester’s “great escape” may be one of the greatest in history as Nigel Pearson’s side have won six and drawn one of their last eight games. Remarkable. On Saturday they drew 0-0 at Sunderland and the Black Cats need one point from their final two games of the season, Arsenal and Chelsea away, to secure safety. That will not be easy to do on their own but they will likely get help in their survival bid.

The favorites to go down are Hull City. The Tigers are in 18th spot on 34 points, while Newcastle sit on 36 and Sunderland on 37 points above them. Hull have Manchester United at home on Sunday in the final game of the season with Steve Bruce’s men knowing they have to win or they will be relegated after a two-year stay in the PL.

[ RELATED: Premier League schedule ]

Newcastle suffered another defeat at the weekend and they host West Ham United at St James’ Park on the final day. The Magpies haven’t won in 10 games, losing nine of those, and if they slip out of the PL with a combination of not beating the Hammers and Hull pulling off an unlikely win vs. Man United, there will be a venomous atmosphere at Newcastle towards owner Mike Ashley.

Here’s a final look at the standings as we enter the final week of the season:

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GERRARD’S EMOTIONAL FAREWELL FITTING

It was an emotional farewell for Steven Gerrard on Saturday as the Liverpool legend said goodbye to Anfield after a 17-year career with his hometown club.

[ RELATED: Gerrard gets fitting farewell at Anfield ]

Getting a guard of honor out onto the pitch and the entire stadium holding up banners, mosaics and applauding him throughout, Gerrard got the storybook ending to his storybook career. The local lad who led Liverpool for over a decade as their captain didn’t get a fairytale finish on the pitch as Crystal Palace played the role of part poopers perfectly in a 3-1 win. But nobody really cared about that. It was all about Gerrard.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Gerrard’s influence on Liverpool has been incredible over the years. His presence in midfield has seen him become the heart and soul of the team and his legacy will live on long after his final game for Liverpool at Stoke City this weekend finishes.

Personally, it was a pleasure to witness his sendoff and the incredible ovation he got before and after the game from his adoring fans.

A one club man. A Liverpool legend. A hero to those in his hometown and around the world. Gerrard’s Anfield career will be remembered for decades to come as he walked out of the hallowed stadium for the final time as a Liverpool player as his new adventure in MLS with the LA Galaxy awaits.

MANE’S INCREDIBLE 176 SECOND HAT TRICK

Sadio Mane. Take a bow. On Saturday Southampton hammered Aston Villa 6-1 to end their home schedule in style at St Mary’s. Mane scored three times in 2 minutes and 56 seconds to score the fastest Premier League hat trick in history.

Liverpool’s Robbie Fowler had the previous record of 4 minutes and 33 seconds back in 1994 but Mane’s pace and precise finishing shaved over 90 seconds off that record as a rampant Southampton ripped Villa’s shambolic defense apart. Going into the final weekend Saints can finish in fifth if they beat Manchester City and qualify out-right for the Europa League.

Mane was one of Ronald Koeman’s main signings in his first season in charge and the Dutchman expects even more from the Senegalese striker next season. A record points tally. A record high position in the PL and now a player who holds the record for the fastest hat trick in PL history. Safe to say, it has been a record-breaking season for Saints.

WENGER TALKS ZELALEM

On Sunday following Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at Manchester United, ProSoccerTalk got a chance to pick the brains of Arsenal’s boss Arsene Wenger about his young talent Gedion Zelalem.

[ RELATED: Wenger pleased Zelalem picked USMNT ]

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Wenger and Zelalem on the training ground.

Zelalem, 18, caused quite the stir last week as it was announced FIFA had rubber-stamped his switch from Germany to the USA for his international career. The Berlin-born midfielder moved to the Washington D.C. area at the age of 10 until he was 15, then Arsenal took him to England. We asked Wenger what he thought about Zelalem’s decision to switch his national allegiance.

“I leave the freedom to the players to play for the country where their heart is,” Wenger said. “There are more and more people who have been educated in two or three different countries. He is an interesting case because he has been educated until the age of 9-10 in Germany and then 10-15 in the States. That is maybe the age where you go out of the family and start to have friends. He felt he wanted to play for the States.”

[ RELATED: Caution over hype: U.S. handling Zelalem well ]

Wenger also touched on his plans for the future and how USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will be a “fantastic” role model for the talented midfielder.

“It is possible [a loan move] but I always test the players in preseason,” Wenger said. “After preseason I make an assessment on how close they are to the first team. If he is not close next year then yes, he needs to play somewhere.”

“Jurgen has all the knowledge that is needed at the top level. He has now started to have a good experience as a coach as well. It will be fantastic for him [Zelalem].”

Premier League Playback comes out every Monday as PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here

DC United back to winning ways with 4-1 rout of FC Cincinnati

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D.C. United hasn’t added too many tick marks to the win column of late, but they got back to victory lane with a 4-1 victory over FC Cincinnati that featured a fantastic second half.

The win is just the club’s second since May 13, and that should give Ben Olsen and company a huge boost as they jump into second place in the East past Atlanta United and move four clear of the fourth-placed New York Red Bulls. With Philadelphia just a single point on top, it’s all to play for despite the nine-match run that saw just one win, now ended by the victory at Cincinnati.

Luis Rodriguez bagged a brace while Wayne Rooney and Paul Arriola added one each to complete the scoreline. The visitors to Nippert Stadium went ahead on the first of Rodriguez’s pair, a curling effort with his right foot that put D.C. United up before halftime.

The home side struck back with a penalty by Emmanuel Ledesma nine minutes after the break, but it took D.C. just two minutes to restore the lead as Rodriguez again came through, this time via a deflection that took the ball into the top-left corner.

Rooney and Arriola were then on hand to put the game away, with the former England international latching onto an exquisite long ball from Leonardo Jara that was presented on a platter for Rooney to split the center-backs and finish cooly for a 3-1 lead. Arriola finished it off with 17 minutes to go, again on the breakaway as the American international burst down the left and finished it himself from a tight angle.

Playing with the lead for most of the second half, D.C. United was happy to let FC Cincinnati hold much of the possession, 57% to be exact. They were deadly on the counter, leading the shot count 17-11 despite the possessional deficit, including 8-3 on target. Up next for D.C. United is a critical date with Atlanta United on Sunday as the two duke it out near the top of the Eastern Conference.

Winks says trophies for Spurs are “round the corner”

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Tottenham Hotspur has just one trophy in the last 20 years, but midfielder Harry Winks says the club is knocking on the door and should be earning hardware in no time.

With the club reaching the Champions League final this season before falling to Liverpool, Winks – who started the big game in midfield – is believing in what Mauricio Pochettino has brought to the squad.

“As long as we keep believing in what we have to do… I’m sure they [trophies] are round the corner,” Winks said after the club’s first training session in Singapore. “Everybody is ambitious in the squad. Of course there comes a time when players want to start winning trophies. But there is a bigger picture at Tottenham.”

Winks signed a new five-year contract at Spurs just over a week ago, rewarding the Spurs academy product for breaking into the first team and earning a significant role throughout last season, only cut short by a groin injury. Winks made 17 starts and 26 total appearances last season and was a consistent presence in the Champions League run as well, starting eight of the team’s 13 matches in the competition.

Tottenham’s only trophy of the last 28 years is a 2008 League Cup victory, when they topped Chelsea 2-1 in the final with Jonathan Woodgate scoring the winner in extra time. You have to go all the way back to 1991 for their previous trophy, when they won the FA Cup by beating Nottingham Forest 2-1 in the final on a stoppage-time own-goal.

Spurs has come closer in recent years, with last season providing a legitimate title chase until Liverpool and Manchester City pulled away at the turn of the calendar year. They reached the Champions League final before falling to Liverpool, and fell to Chelsea in the League Cup semifinals as well.

Big things have taken place for the club this summer, with Winks’ contract extension plus the addition of Tanguy Ndomele on a club record fee. Spurs is also rumored to be in for attacking midfielder Giovani Lo Celso in what would be a quality addition to the squad. Christian Eriksen has not yet made a move to depart despite heavy interest from the top Spanish clubs, and Toby Alderweireld has also not yet departed despite his low release clause sparking rumors. Meanwhile, Danny Rose has not made the trip to Asia for preseason and the 29-year-old is reportedly on his way out.

Europa League: Rangers, Aberdeen, FCSB advance in first qualifying round

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The first qualifying round of the 2019/20 Europa League wrapped up Thursday as the competition pairs down teams en route to the group stage.

A couple of notable teams lived to see another day, including Steven Gerrard and Scottish side Rangers who passed its test with flying colors, hammering Gibraltar side St. Joseph’s 6-0 for a resounding 10-0 aggregate win. Jermaine Defoe scored a late brace but Colombian international Alfredo Morelos was the man of the hour, bagging a hat-trick including a stunning rabona at the doorstep that probably wasn’t necessary but still found the back of the net.

Fellow Scottish side Aberdeen who topped Finnish club Rovaniemen Palloseura – or RoPS – 2-1 for a 4-2 aggregate victory. English striker Sam Cosgrove put Aberdeen in front from the penalty spot in the 26th minute, and 19-year-old Scottish youth international Lewis Ferguson picked up the late game winner in the 94th minute with essentially the last kick of the game.

FCSB, previously known as Steaua Bucuresti, knocked off Moldovan club FC Milsami Orhei 2-1 for a 4-1 aggregate victory. FCSB, who finished second in the Romanian top flight last season, got the winning strike from 21-year-old Romanian youth international Razvan Oaida in the 42nd minute to give FCSB the victory.

Danish club Brondby advanced despite a 2-0 road loss, topping Finnish side FC Inter Turku 4-3 on aggregate thanks to their 4-1 victory in the first leg. Turku struck twice in quick succession after the break, scoring in the 52nd and 56th minutes, but it was too little too late.

Legia Warsaw shook off a 0-0 first leg draw and secured a 3-0 win over aptly-named Gibraltar side FC Europa. A brace from Spanish striker Carlitos led the way, with goals in the 7th minute and 60th minute to set the pace for the Polish side.

Irish club Shamrock Rovers advanced over Norwegian side SK Brann on a late winner by new signing Gary O'Neil who bagged an 87th minute strike to secure the 2-0 win and lead the Irish side through 4-3 on aggregate. O’Neil only just joined Shamrock Rovers from UCD this summer, and he came off the bench for the final 10 minutes and found the winner.

Swedish club Malmo, famous as Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s boyhood club, finished off Ballymena out of Northern Ireland 4-0 for a 11-0 aggregate bashing. Malmo featured four different goalscorers, including American international Romain Gall, who picked up his only international cap with a late bench appearances against Italy back in late 2018.

Croatian side Hajduk Split was upset by Maltese club Gzira United 3-1 at home, which gave the visitors the win on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate tie. Gzira striker Ben Hamed Kone struck for a pair, including the game – and matchup – winner in the 97th minute that sent the Maltese side through. The two goals were utterly spectacular, with the first coming in the 69th minute on a bicycle kick from all the way at the top of the box, while his second was a flick from nearly the same position that sent them through.

All Europa League scores (bold team advances)

Rangers 6-0 St. Joseph’s
Ballymena 0-4 Malmo FF
Legia Warsaw 
3-0 FC Europa
FC Milsami 1-2 FCSB
RoPS 1-2 Aberdeen
FC Inter Turku 2-0 Bronby
Apollon Limassol 
4-0 Kauno Zalgiris
Hapoel Be’er 1-0 KF Laci
Hajduk Split 1-3 Gzira United
Kilmarnock 0-2 Connah’s Quay
KR Reykjavik 0-0 Molde
Shamrock Rovers 
2-0 SK Brann
Hapoel Be’er 1-0 KF Laci
Tobol Kostanay 1-1 Jeunesse Eche 
FK Makedonija 0-3 Alashkert FC
Kairat Almaty
2-1 Siroki Brijeg
KS Teuta 1-0 FK Ventspils
FC Levadia Tallinn 3-2 Stjarnan
Rigas Futbola Skola 0-2 Olimpija Ljubljana
Universitatea Craiova 
3-2 Sabail
Dinamo Minsk 1-2 FK Liepaja
Levski Sofia 2-0 MFK Ruzomberok
Cracovia 2-2 Dunajska Streda
FC Vaduz 
2-1 Breidablik
Haugesund 5-1 Cliftonville
Neftchi 6-0 Speranta Nisporeni
Petrocub-Hincesti 0-1 AEK Larnaca
Torpedo Kutaisi 0-2 Ordabasy Shymkent
Zalgiris Vilnius 1-1 Honved
Zrinjski Mostar 
3-0 Akademija Pandev
Progres Niederkorn 1-2 Cork
UE Engordany 0-1 Dinamo Tbilisi
B36 Torshavn 2-3 Crusaders
FK Kukesi 1-1 Debrecen
Hibernians 0-1 Shakhter Soligorsk
IFK Norrkoping 
2-1 St. Patrick’s
NS Mura 2-3 Maccabi Haifa
Vidi 0-0 FK Zeta
FC Vitebsk 1-1 KuPS Kuopio
Shkupi 1-2 Pyunik
Buducnost Podgorica 4-0 JK Narva Trans
FC Spartak Trnava 2-0 Radnik Bijeljina
NK Domzale 1-0 Balzan FC
Radnicki Nis 2-2 Flora

Report: Barcelona logs bid for Neymar

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According to a report by Sky Sports, Barcelona has officially submitted an offer to Paris Saint-Germain for Brazilian superstar Neymar that includes a $113 million cash component as well as a two-player offer that PSG can choose from.

The report states that Barcelona submitted a six-player list to PSG which includes Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Ivan Rakitic, Nelson Semedo, and Malcom. PSG can reportedly pick two from those six players, and the deal would be complete. Sky Sports did not know the identity of the sixth player at the time of the initial report.

Neymar has become unsettled at PSG after his time in France has been marred by suspensions and disappointing results in European play. He was involved in an altercation with a fan after PSG fell to Stade Rennais in the Coupe de France final in May, and has been accused of rape this summer by a Brazilian girl he flew to Paris late last season. Neymar was also suspended for three upcoming Champions League matches for critical comments made on his Instagram page after PSG was beaten by Manchester United this past spring.

Neymar has reportedly told PSG sporting director Leonardo that he wishes to leave the club in a recent meeting following the Brazilian’s late arrival to PSG preseason training. He missed the Copa America this summer thanks to an ankle injury suffered in a pre-tournament friendly against Qatar.

Over the last two years at PSG after joining from Barcelona via a world-record $250 million transfer fee, Neymar has made 58 appearances, scoring 51 goals and assisting 29 more. However, he’s been eliminated from the Champions League Round of 16 both years, finding himself injured for at least the return leg of the knockout matchup in both years.