Premier League Preview: Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur

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  • United took four points from Spurs last season
  • Spurs fell 3-0 at Old Trafford
  • Red Devils hold all-time series 77W-42D-37

Well, well, well look what we have here: the 2015-16 opener for the Premier League season, and it begins with a doozy.

Two teams looking for big, big seasons square off at Old Trafford when Tottenham Hotspur rolls in to visit Manchester United on Saturday morning at 7:45 a.m. ET (Watch live on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

Spurs have added Burnley standout Kieran Trippier as well as Bundesliga import Kevin Wimmer and ex-Atleti and Saints man Toby Alderweireld, hoping that defense will become a strength. Eric Dier looks to be a part of their midfield.

[ WATCH LIVE: Stream every PL game via Live Extra ]

But it’ll come down to Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Spurs’ attack, as the White Hart Lane crowd is hoping for a long-awaited Top Four breakthrough. Mauricio Pochettino’s second year at the helm should be a boon for the club.

For United, it’s the culmination of another busy transfer season that saw Louis van Gaal bring in a bevy of new talent while offloading Robin van Persie and Angel Di Maria.

[ MORE: Latest PST Extra episodes ]

LVG, however, has only made one big defensive move in slotting in Matteo Darmian, and will have to hope Bastian Schweinsteiger is his healthy, hard-nosed, organizing best at age 30. Can they challenge for the title?

What they’ve said

Van Gaal on starting Sergio Romero over David De Gea: “”It is not easy for David De Gea to manage his situation now. You know that we have problems with De Gea. He shall not play, so I don’t have any concerns [about him this weekend].”

Spurs defender Toby Alderweireld on the match: “I’ve played a lot of big games so I know what to expect. The first game of the season is always a strange one – everybody is very excited and we’re looking forward to it. It’s a big challenge. We have the opportunity to take a good first step – we are confident we can get a good result but we know it will be difficult. They have brought in a lot of good players but we’ve had a good pre-season and trained hard so physically we are 100 per cent and we want to get a good result to start the season.”

Prediction

Really, anything can happen here with two brilliant match managers and a bevy of talent. You’d peg Spurs defense to be hard to beat, but United has an incredibly array of firepower. Who will be the difference: Wayne Rooney or Harry Kane? Will it be Juan Mata or Christian Eriksen who takes center stage? Or will a surprise hero announce his early prominence (much like Dier last season)?

Here’s a shaky, shrugging suggestion that we see this one end 2-2.

Rumored Neymar for Bale swap: Who wins?

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Who would gain more of an advantage from the rumored, sensational Gareth Bale for Neymar swap: Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid?

Both players are currently problems for their clubs, though neither is known as a true rabble-rouser; Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane wants to be done with the newly-minted 30-year-old Bale, while PSG knows Neymar wants to leave and would love to satiate Kylian Mbappe’s appetite to be the man at their club.

[ REPORT: Man Utd, Leicester agree Maguire fee ]

Presumably some money would be headed PSG’s way in addition to Bale, and both clubs would be getting a motivated megawatt star.

Neymar doesn’t turn 28 until February, but the difference in age may be offset by the Brazilian’s track record of injuries.

In fact, his injury status last season combines with an off-field accusation of sexual assault and a red card for confronting a fan to overshadow his production: Neymar’s 23 goals and 13 assists in just over 2300 minutes last season, including five and two in the Champions League (and a goal and an assist against defensively-stout Liverpool).

Bale presents very few personality challenges, and PSG won’t have a problem with his massive wages (especially with Neymar off the books). His numbers have dipped in two of three seasons since his otherworldly 2015-16, but La Liga is a more difficult scoring league than Ligue 1.

Neymar has twice been a Ballon d’Or finalist and, presuming his legal troubles don’t persist, could be a title fight changer in La Liga. Imagine the Neymar, Eden Hazard, and Luka Jovic trying to outgun Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, and Luis Suarez? Insane.

We’d say Real would be winning the straight-up swap, and that it’s pretty unlikely to go down that way. So it depends what PSG does with the relative Financial Fair Play freedom that would come with the money that also arrives from Spain. Is it Idrissa Gana Gueye? Someone else who helps take PSG’s Champions League hopes to the next level?

Manchester United in ‘concrete talks’ with Lille over Pepe

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Manchester United are reportedly in “concrete talks” to agree a fee with Lille for much-tracked playmaker Nicolas Pepe.

The 24-year-old attacking midfielder has been linked with Liverpool and Arsenal amongst others, and Lille has admitted he’ll be leaving the club.

[ REPORT: Man Utd, Leicester agree Maguire fee ]

United’s reported salvo was around $87.5 million. He’d give them a star who could play across from Anthony Martial or as an attacking midfielder under Romelu Lukaku.

Only Kylian Mbappe and Teji Savanier garnered better season-long ratings than Pepe in the 2018-19 Ligue 1 campaign, and Pepe’s 22 goals and 11 assists stand out from the pack. Only Mbappe had more goals and only Savanier more assists.

Pepe has four goals in 11 caps for the Ivory Coast, and made three starts in Les Elephants’ five-match run at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. He’s a fit for the Premier League, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s system. And if the Red Devils can keep him from Liverpool, well, all the better we’re sure.

Report: Manchester United, Leicester agree to monster Maguire fee

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Manchester United and Leicester City have agreed a fee for Harry Maguire, clearing the way for the English center back to join the Old Trafford set.

That fee is a whopping $100 million, according to Bleacher Report’s Dean Jones. That’s about $4 million more than the world record for a defender, set when Liverpool purchased Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton.

[ MORE: USMNT CB to West Ham? ]

Maguire has been a statistical monster for Leicester City, and he passes the eye test, too.

Manchester United has needed to upgrade its stable of center backs for some time, and now the biggest question is who will work best alongside the 6-foot-4 26-year-old.

The former Sheffield United, Wigan Athletic, and Hull City defender is now 20-times capped by England.

The move could have a ripple effect on the Premier League, as the Foxes have been expected to bid for Burnley star James Tarkowski should Maguire leave the King Power Stadium.

Transfer rumor roundup: USMNT’s Long to London, Newcastle linked with pair

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Could USMNT center back Aaron Long be headed to the Premier League?

The 26-year-old could join West Ham United’s stable of center backs, which includes Issa Diop, Fabian Balbuena, and Angelo Ogbonna.

Sky Sports says that the Red Bulls defender has drawn the interest of Lyon and Fiorentina, but been offered to the Irons should they match his $5 million release clause.

Unable to find a place with Portland and Seattle, Long spent a few seasons in the USL before earning a place with RBNY.

Now 11-times capped by the USMNT with two goals, Long could be bringing his talents to London’s Olympic Stadium.

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Newcastle United has the chance to sign oft-injured Danny Welbeck on a free transfer.

The longtime Arsenal striker, weaned at Manchester United, scored five times in 12 matches last season in a return to injury woes following a 43-match season the prior year.

Newcastle is also being linked with a former defender. James Tavernier has gone on to captain Glasgow Rangers, and the 27-year-old would cost around $10 million.

Surely Steven Gerrard would want more for the defender, but prices haven’t met quality for Scottish Premiership players as we’ve seen with Kieran Tierney at Celtic.