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Solskjaer defends Pogba, says Man United don’t need to sell

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has defended Paul Pogba‘s attitude and commitment as the French superstar continues to push for a move away from Manchester United.

Following his agent Mino Raiola saying that “hopefully there will soon be a satisfying solution for all parties” after he announced that he was “in the process” of arranging a transfer for Pogba from United, Solskjaer was asked about Pogba’s situation during their preseason tour in Australia.

He appeared to give Raiola what he wanted, as the so-called ‘super agent’ had suggested that United hadn’t done enough to stop reports about Pogba’s poor attitude off the pitch.

“Paul has never been a concern for me. When he is on the pitch, he is working hard, he is a true professional and he is a proud boy,” Solskjaer said. “I can’t be sitting here talking about Paul all the time and what agents are saying. We have got a few years left of his contract and, for me, he has been fantastic when he has come back in training. There is an agenda against Paul but he is a top, top bloke. He is a great professional, there have never been any problems and he has got a heart of gold.”

Solskjaer then went on to confirm that as far as he knows the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus haven’t bid for Pogba.

He also said United haven’t received offers for any other players, including Romelu Lukaku who is said to be wanted by Inter Milan, and they will not be forced into selling any of their players.

“Well there has been loads of talks and speculation, about many of our players – both ins and outs. For me, it is business as usual,” Solskjaer said. “When you are at Man United you expect these things to pop up in the summer. I have spoken to Pogba and spoken to Romelu. I have spoken to all of the players over the summer, as you do.

“As far as I’m aware we don’t have any bids for any of our players. Most of our players have got long contracts. We are Man United – we do not have to sell players.”

That last line is perhaps the most important.

Solskjaer defending Pogba seems like a message to Real or Juve that they must pay what they want for him, otherwise he is going nowhere. At least that is United’s stance. They will not let such a hugely valuable asset, on and off the pitch, leave for anything less than they think he is worth.

Pogba, 26, has two years left on his contract (with an option of a further year) and this summer is the best chance United have of getting the $110 million back they paid for him in the summer of 2016.

This is a strong stance from Solskjaer and leaves the possibility open that Pogba could well be a United player when the transfer window shuts on Aug. 8.

In terms of incomings Solskjaer also said United “don’t have to overpay” when it comes to signing new players and they hope to do some more business this summer.

Turns out Solskjaer is standing firm as United aim to play hard ball when it comes to selling and buying players. That would be a huge chance in stance compared to most of their dealings under Ed Woodward in recent years.

Chelsea needs to wait “48 hours” to assess Mount

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Mason Mount‘s move from the Championship to the Premier League has been nearly seamless.

His adjustment to the Champions League was cut down too quickly to get an understanding of whether it would be too big of a jump.

[ MORE: Match recap | Barkley drama ]

Mount, 20, was chopped down by Valencia’s Francis Coquelin, the former Arsenal man, and had to leave the game after just 16 minutes.

Here’s Frank Lampard, from ChelseaFC.com:

“He’s got an ankle injury but we don’t know how bad it is. We’ll have to assess it in the next 48 hours to see the scale of the injury. It was a shame because he started the game well and it meant we had to make the change early on.”

Mount scored nine times with four assists on loan under Lampard at Derby County last season, and has already chipped in three goals for Chelsea this season.

Lampard turned to Pedro off the bench on Tuesday, but any lengthy absence for Mount will spell more time for American youngster Christian Pulisic.

UEFA Champions League Wednesday preview: Man City, Spurs debut

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Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur begin their UEFA Champions League campaigns on very different results and with very different vibes.

City is coming off a stunning 3-2 loss to injury-hit Norwich City, and is set up in Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk for the third-straight season, a side which beat Pep Guardiola once in four tries between 2017/18 and 2018/19 in the UCL.

[ MORE: UCL Tues. wrap ]

But on Wednesday, Guardiola’s men are going to carry a similar feel to one of his old Barcelona teams, as Pep seemingly will have Fernandinho pull a Javier Mascherano and drop into the back line.

Yes, Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi are Manchester City’s hopes at center back, now that John Stones has joined Aymeric Laporte on the shelf.

“For me as a manager it’s an incredible challenge,” said Pep Guardiola. “But I believe a lot, people don’t know the spirit and resolve to solve this problem. The players going to come back with Dinho, Eric Garcia, Taylor Harwood-Bellis. … It’s happened, but what we are not going to do is complain. We have to have 11 players on the pitch and I like it, to find a solution. For the players as well to find an incredible step forward.”

Spurs, meanwhile, will simply be trying to build on any momentum gained by a 4-0 demolition of Crystal Palace at the weekend, a win which came after manager Mauricio Pochettino begged his side to “re-focus” after a relatively poor start to the season.

Now a bit more relaxed, Spurs head to Greece as the clear favorites against stingy Olympiacos. These are, after all, the finalists of last season’s tournament.

Pochettino won’t be sleeping on the challenge, from The London Evening Standard:

“They have good players and if we are not focused and don’t take our best game we are going to suffer. But last season we played in the final of Champions League, so it’s normal people think before the game, Tottenham is one step above Olympiacos but in the end you need to show it on the pitch.”

Spurs are one of two early kickoffs on Tuesday.

Full UCL Wednesday schedule

12:55 p.m. ET
Club Brugge v. Galatasaray
Olympiacos v. Tottenham Hotspur

3 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen v. Lokomotiv Moscow
Paris Saint-Germain v. Real Madrid
Atletico Madrid v. Juventus
Dinamo Zagreb v. Atalanta
Bayern Munich v. Red Star Belgrade
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Manchester City

American coach Marsch speaks after landmark Champions League day

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Jesse Marsch made his UEFA Champions League debut on Tuesday, a historic first for not just the Wisconsin native but also his country.

Marsch, 45, oversaw Red Bull Salzburg’s 6-2 demolition of Genk, becoming the first American to win a UCL match as manager.

[ MORE: Champions League Tues. wrap ]

“We knew we were going into the match full of confidence,” he said, via the Salzburg site. “We knew too that we could put in a performance of this quality. I wasn’t pleased with a few situations, such as conceding for 3-1. That shows our incredible mentality though as it prompted us to give a few more percent and immediately score two goals.”

The ex-New York Red Bulls manager and RB Leipzig assistant manager got another three goals from incredible 19-year-old striker Erling Braut Haland, who nows has 17 goals in nine matches this season.

“It is an absolute joy to work with this team. We have a lot of players who just know how to battle, and that rubs off on the others. You can see that on the pitch on nights like tonight.”

There will be tougher nights ahead for Marsch, who is in a group with Liverpool and Napoli, but Tuesday was a fine start for the tactician. And it was a banner moment for American coaches abroad, who’ve been led by past and present USMNT coaches Bob Bradley and Gregg Berhalter.

Maybe one day that’ll be Marsch’s title… but it seems like he may have some loftier ground to cover on his path through world soccer.

Klopp: Liverpool made wrong decisions; Penalty also incorrect

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is going to bat for his left back after Andrew Robertson gave away what became the decisive penalty in a 2-0 loss to Napoli in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it’s a penalty,” Klopp said. “What can I say, for me, it is clear and obvious no penalty. He jumps before any contact, we can’t change that.”

[ RECAP: Napoli 2-0 Liverpool ]

For what it’s worth: It sure seemed like both a foul on Robertson and a comical embellishment from Callejon, but we digress.

Liverpool just didn’t have it on the day, like when Sadio Mane played a terrible pass to Mohamed Salah on what could’ve been an easy 1-0 lead.

In the moments they did have it, there was Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret making a splendid save.

“We played a lot of good football but didn’t finish it off. We controlled moments but had not enough chances in the end. We made decisions that were not right and have to accept the result. It was very often the final ball that was not right.”

Also, forgive Klopp if he has stopped enjoying the beautiful country of Italy.