Ranking Mourinho’s signings at Man United

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We all know it is the manager who has to bite the bullet if results aren’t going well on the pitch, but what about the players he sends out there?

Specifically, what about the ones he brought to the club with him?

[ MORE: Mourinho on United exit

Jose Mourinho will likely be sat in his swanky London house rubbing his chin right about now, and as he tucks into another mince pie (’tis the season, Jose…) he will wonder if signing the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly was really worth all of the hassle.

It is also worth remembering he shipped out the likes of Wayne Rooney, Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger from Old Trafford, but all of those moves still seem like the correct ones. Then there is his treatment of Luke Shaw, Juan Mata, Ander Herrera and others. With no Director of Football in charge, Mourinho had the ultimate say on which players were bought and sold, so the buck has to stop with him for building this squad.

With that in mind, lets rank all of Mourinho’s signings since he arrived in the summer of 2016 to try and turn United’s fortunes around. Parental guidance: some of these scores may be offensive.

Summer 2016 transfer window
Eric Bailly – $38 million from Villarreal: Had a great debut season but regressed massively in last few years. One of the victims of Mourinho’s preseason comments about wanting to sign a new deal. Lacking in confidence. 6/10

Paul Pogba – $112 million from Juventus: Probably the biggest problem for Mourinho throughout his time at United, as Pogba played, scored, assisted and tried to do it all. Mourinho benched him multiple times and in the end, despite giving him the captaincy which he then took away after Pogba’s comments in the media, it felt like it was a battle between Pogba and Jose to win the dressing room. Pogba won. 4/10

Henrikh Mkhitaryan – $33 million from Borussia Dortmund: Played mostly in the Europa League in 2016-17 and scored some big goals in the run to win that trophy. United thought they had a great deal when they swapped him for Alexis Sanchez in January 2018, but we all know how that worked out. Never suited Mourinho’s defensive style and apart from a few amazing goals, can be considered a flop. 3/10

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Free transfer from PSG: Incredible signing who held the squad together. Scored 28 goals in all competitions before his serious knee injury. Never returned to the same form before leaving to join the LA Galaxy in March 2018 as Lukaku was the main man at that point. Still, probably Jose’s best signing as United’s manager. 9/10

Summer 2017 transfer window
Victor Lindelof – $38 million from Benfica: Struggled massively last season but was better in recent months after a strong World Cup for Sweden. Still guilty of a howler or too, but you can never question his commitment. The entire defensive unit has had a shocker alongside him 5/10

Romelu Lukaku – $114 million from Everton: If you judge him by the goals he has scored, Lukaku is a success. 33 goals in 70 games for United is just less than a goal every other game but his overall play hasn’t been good enough. You can argue that Lukaku hasn’t had enough support around him, and that is probably true. But his hold-up play really hasn’t improved that much over the past 12 months. 6/10

Nemanja Matic – $50 million from Chelsea: Was very good for the first half of last season after arriving from Chelsea, and quite why they allowed their Serbian destroyer to leave was baffling. However, like Bailly and others he regressed this season markedly. Mourinho turned to one of his favorites to lock down the midfield and Matic has been okay. Nothing more. Nothing less. 6/10

Winter 2018 transfer window
Alexis Sanchez – Swap deal for Mkhitaryan with Arsenal: Just hasn’t worked out at all. Sanchez’s tenacity seemed like a perfect fit for Mourinho but he didn’t deliver goals, was played out of position several times and in the end they fell out despite a few key goals from the Chilean. Sanchez’s recent injury means this season has been a write off and he perhaps, alongside Pogba, has the most to gain from a new manager coming in. 2/10

Summer 2018 transfer window
Diogo Dalot – $24 million from FC Porto: Has shown promising signs in recent weeks. Still just 19 years old, but looks set to be United’s long-term right back once he shakes off his recent injuries. Whips in some dangerous crosses, and one of the better deals Mourinho did. 7/10

Fred – $60 million from Shakhtar Donetsk: This has been one of the most disappointing deals so far. The Brazilian midfielder was a perfect two-way midfielder at Shakhtar in recent seasons but he seems to have lost his bite after a decent start to life at Old Trafford. Was meant to shore things up alongside Nemanja Matic in midfield but had the opposite impact. 3/10

Lee Grant – $1.9 million from Stoke City: Back up goalkeeper who has hardly played but hasn’t done much wrong when he has. 4/10

Vela leaves door open for Barcelona move

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LAFC striker Carlos Vela has been the surprise subject of new rumors of a January move to Barcelona, and when asked about the prospect of such a departure from the United States, the 29-year-old wasn’t about to rule out the La Liga giants.

ESPN Deportes first reported the move, and while they say such a deal is “unlikely,” it’s not a complete uncertainty. They did report, however, that Barcelona has yet to make a permanent bid and that a loan deal has not yet been floated.

When ESPN contacted Vela for comment on the subject, he shed responsibility, suggesting he’s not even in control of his immediate future. “They are issues for the clubs and agents,” Vela said to ESPN. “I’m relaxed, working on the preseason and the most important thing is to be happy in the place you are. In the future we’ll see what happens.”

While Vela said he is “happy” at LAFC, he also made it sound like the wheels are in motion to explore his options. “Whatever I may decide or happens I’ll be happy because I’m loving being in Los Angeles with my team enjoying the day-to-day and I don’t have anything to lose in any case.”

Vela came up as a youth player in the Chivas Guadalajara setup, and moved to Arsenal in 2006. He made 64 appearances for the Gunners but spent a significant time out on loan at clubs like West Brom and Osasuna. He made a permanent switch to Real Sociedad in 2012 and spent six seasons there before joining LAFC in the club’s inaugural season in Major League Soccer. He scored 14 goals in 28 MLS appearances, which has apparently caught the eye of Barcelona.

Vela’s session at MLS Media Day was cancelled Sunday after he failed to show.

Dembele hurts leg in Barcelona victory

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Ousmane Dembele injured his left leg during the second half of Barcelona’s 3-1 win over Leganes in the Spanish league on Sunday.

The 21-year-old France forward slipped while trying to dribble past an opponent, causing him to fall back on his own leg.

After being attended to by team doctors he limped off and was substituted.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde says it seemed his player had “slightly twisted” his ankle, but more tests are planned on Monday.

Dembele scored Barcelona’s opening goal, taking his tally to 13 goals in all competitions this season as he excels as a strike partner to Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Longtime Mourinho assistant Faria earns first managerial job

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Rui Faria, best known for his 17 years as a Jose Mourinho assistant, has earned his first managerial job, taking charge of Qatari side Al Duhail.

The 43-year-old Faria has followed Mourinho since 2001 at Uniao Leiria, where he linked up with the fellow Portuguese coach and followed him to Porto, Chelsea, Inter, Real Madrid, Chelsea again, and then Manchester United. The two parted ways last year, with Faria leaving Manchester United last May.

Without a job since leaving Old Trafford and Mourinho recently fired at Manchester United last month, Faria has chosen to finally venture out on his own.

Faria has been linked with a number of jobs in Europe over the years, with teams always looking for a coach with the experience and pedigree Faria has built despite not ever holding a head coaching job. In the past, he has been linked with clubs like Arsenal and Aston Villa. Mourinho said amid links to Arsenal last summer that “if my friend one day has the possibility of a big job, I would help him to pack and carry the bags and to wish him luck.”

Al Duhail won the Qatari Stars League champions last season under manager Nabil Maaloul, who left his post at Tunisia to take charge of the team last July. The two parties went their separate ways 15 days ago. The Doha club claimed Faria chose this job over “great European offers.”

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Higuain nearing Chelsea move, City looking for Fernandinho cover

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Gonzalo Higuain has been linked with a move to Chelsea almost all winter, and all signs point to a move away from the San Siro any day now. The 31-year-old striker was left out of the AC Milan squad to take on Genoa on Monday, the most recent sign of his imminent departure.

In his pre-match press conference, Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso spoke about the likely move, saying angrily, “I spoke in my office with Higuain and it is right to leave him out. We are still waiting on the move and there’s nothing completed but I want to see people who are mentally ready and available and if I don’t get that, I’ll go into battle with those who are more prepared.”

Chelsea has had trouble finding a productive striker of late, with Alvaro Morata benched for poor performance. With Olivier Giroud injured and inconsistent, Maurizio Sarri has utilized Eden Hazard as a false nine, and the result has been just five goals over the last six matches across all competitions.

Manchester City is reportedly looking to find a player to back up defensive midfielder Fernandinho, and the name mentioned is Schalke’s Sebastian Rudy.

The 28-year-old German arrived at Schalke from Bayern Munich this past summer, but has logged just 644 league minutes. While Rudy likely wouldn’t find the starting lineup more often at the Etihad, Pep Guardiola is known for his effective player rotation at Man City, and the club could tempt him with a title race.

Fernandinho has been one of the world’s best defensive midfielders over the past few years, but with the Brazilian on the sideline for two matches earlier this season, Manchester City dropped both games and slipped behind Liverpool in the title race. Center-back John Stones was utilized in the defensive midfield role in Fernandinho’s absence, but Crystal Palace and Leicester City scored a combined five goals.

According to multiple reports in England, a short-term loan would be effective in giving Fernandinho cover for the rest of the season as City looks to catch up with Liverpool and hold of Tottenham, Chelsea, and Arenal.

Arsenal fans were put on alert with Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti in attendance at the Emirates for Arsenal’s win over Chelsea. The French defender is currently injured, and with Barcelona playing on Sunday, Umtiti was able to make his way to England and watch his countrymates Laurent Koscielny and Alexandre Lacazette.

It would be highly unlikely for Umtiti to move this winter, as he is vitally important to the Barcelona squad and is out injured for another few weeks due to a long-term knee problem. It’s plausible Arsenal could make a play over the summer, but given how Barcelona’s defense has sagged in his absence, it’s unlikely the La Liga leaders would be willing to let him go. Umtiti’s contract with Barcelona runs through the summer of 2023, so he is under clear club control for the time being.

Rumblings in England have suggested that Tottenham defender and American international Cameron Carter-Vickers could leave Spurs this winter after the club has decided the 21-year-old will not break into the first team. According to a report by TeamTalk.com, Wigan Athletic could be in play for a permanent move for Carter-Vickers, who is currently on loan at Swansea City, but has struggled for playing time with the Championship club.

The American was also linked with Ipswich Town earlier this January, although that was mentioned as another loan. Either way, it sounds increasingly likely that Spurs could recall Carter-Vickers and look for a new club to deploy him at this winter.