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Pogba ‘can’t escape Man United’ keen on Juventus return

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The agent of Paul Pogba, Mino Raiola, has stated that Juventus and Italy is like a “second home” for his client and he “can’t escape Man United now” but will reassess the situation after EURO 2020 this summer.

Pogba, 26, has been out injured for most of this season after he picked up an initial foot injury in September and has aggravated it on several occasions.

The World Cup winner has been missed in United’s midfield and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains a big fan but after Pogba’s push to leave last summer there are still plenty of question marks about his future.

“Pogba feels at home in Italy. Italy is like his second home or family, same for [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic. That’s why Paul would like to come back to Juventus. But we’ll go to speak about that just after Euro 2020,” Raiola told reports after Juventus v. AC Milan in the Coppa Italia on Thursday. “Pogba wants to play at the best levels always … but he can’t escape Manchester United now, in this moment where the club is not having a good period.”

The so-called ‘super agent’ then moved to clarify his comments on Friday as he pretty much said that Pogba’s time at Old Trafford with Man United is over.

“Italy is like a second home for him, ” Raiola has then told our partners in the UK Sky Sports News. “The question was is he happy. You cannot be happy if you are not competing for the title or for the Champions League. The aim is for every top player to do that. For now he is concentrated on his recovery the next period is important for him and Man Utd to try to get into the Champions League then the European Championship and then we will see.”

Pogba is almost back to full fitness and it will be intriguing to see how he slots into this United team with Bruno Fernandes arriving in the central attacking midfield role for $88 million in January.

With Pogba and Scott McTominay ready to return for the crucial final few months of the season, plus Marcus Rashford pushing to be fit for March, United just have to hang in there in their battle to reach the Champions League.

Their trip to Chelsea on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) is pivotal both for this season and planning for next season as the likes of Pogba will push harder for a move away without Champions League action.

Win and United will be just three points behind fourth-place Chelsea but a defeat means they would be nine points off the top four with 12 games to go.

Fernandes scores first goal, says Ronaldo backed Manchester United move

Bruno Fernandes Ronaldo
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It’s probably not a surprise that a young Portuguese player would fancy Manchester United given the heroics of Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford early his career.

Bruno Fernandes admits that those images danced through his head well before he signed with the Red Devils in January.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

It’s also not a shock that United would turn to their former player for a take on the playmaker before buying him from Sporting Lisbon.

Fernandes says he’s grateful that CR7 endorsed BF18. From Sky Sports:

“I know some people asked Cristiano what he thought of me and what I was like as a player and a person,” Fernandes said. “I know he spoke highly of me and gave me a good reference, so I sent him a message after to thank him for his kind words.”

Fernandes has 19 caps and two goals for Portugal, while Ronaldo has a few more with 164 and 99.

He now has a goal and an assist in four appearances for United. Ronaldo finished with 118 goals and 69 assists in 292 appearances for the Red Devils.

Here’s the finish:

Eden Hazard suffers fracture ahead of Man City in UCL, El Clasico

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Eden Hazard is set to miss the Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League first leg against Man City with a broken fibula.

Hazard had only returned to the lineup for two matches following a three-month absence with an ankle injury.

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The 29-year-old has made just 15 appearances for Real since arriving in a big-money move from Chelsea, scoring once with five assists.

He has never appeared in less than 30 league matches over the course of his career, five times missing one or zero matches.

Of course, all of his absences show that Real is very comfortable playing and winning without Hazard. Zinedine Zidane’s men lost Sunday to drop behind Barcelona in La Liga, but that was just its second loss of the league season.

Real will be taxed in depth like its rivals, with Wednesday’s visit from Man City followed by an El Clasico at the Bernabeu on March 1. Barcelona hosts Napoli on Tuesday.

Whether you like the playmaker or despise him, there must be some sense of sympathy for his latest ailments (even if Man City and Barca fans will likely offer a Jerry Seinfeld-esque, “That’s a shame”).

Watch Live: Manchester United, Wolves host bottom three battlers

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A pair of Premier League basement dwellers face stiff tests in their bids to win another season in the top flight.

Manchester United hosts Watford on NBCSN while Wolves welcome Norwich City on CNBC as both home sides aim to improve the health of their top four hopes in 9 a.m. ET kickoffs.

[ WATCH: Man Utd-Watford | Wolves-Norwich ]

Lineups notes from both matches:

LINEUPS

Manchester United

Watford


Wolves

Norwich City

Three Serie A matches suspended due to virus deaths in Italy

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ROME (AP) Three Serie A soccer matches scheduled for Sunday in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto were suspended late Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the virus from China.

On orders from the Italian government, the games called off were: Inter Milan vs. Sampdoria, Atalanta vs. Sassuolo and Hellas Verona vs. Cagliari.

Three other matches in Genoa, Turin and Rome on Sunday are going ahead as scheduled.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

A dozen towns in northern Italy effectively went into lockdown on Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the coronavirus from China, and a growing cluster of cases with no direct links to the origin of the outbreak abroad.

“The government is working on urgent measures to decisively confront and contain the cases of coronavirus contagion,” read a letter from Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora to Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago shortly before midnight local time on Saturday. “Those measures also include the sports world in order to prevent risks and to better take care of the health of those involved in the events and competition.

“Following measures taken by the cabinet for protective reasons and maximum precaution, on orders of the government I’m asking you to suspend all sports events of every level and discipline planned for the Lombardy and Veneto regions on Sunday.”

The secondary contagions prompted local authorities in the Lombardy and Veneto regions to close schools, businesses and restaurants and to cancel sporting events and Masses.

The mayor of Milan, Italy’s business capital and the regional capital of Lombardy, shuttered public offices.

A 78-year-old man infected with the virus died in Veneto. A postmortem on a 77-year-old woman in Lombardy came back positive, though it wasn’t clear if illness from the virus caused her death.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf