Matteo Darmian

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Reports: Man United nears Wan-Bissaka deal as fee agreed with Palace

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According to widespread reports, including the BBC, Sky Sports, and ESPNFC, Manchester United and Crystal Palace have neared completion of a deal for Aaron Wan-Bissaka and the player is set to complete a medical and finalize a move worth $57 million with another $6.3 million of add-ons.

The 21-year-old Wan-Bissaka will reportedly sign a five-year contract with an option for a sixth year, leaving him under Manchester United control until he is in his prime at 27 years old. He will reportedly undergo a medical within the next 24 hours and become the second Manchester United signing of the summer after Daniel James of Swansea put pen to paper two weeks ago.

According to reports, Wan-Bissaka’s wages will explode at Manchester United, set to earn $5.3 million a year. The increase is significant after coming from Crystal Palace where he was the lowest earning first-team player making under $700,000 a year.

The deal took significant time to complete, with Crystal Palace rejecting a pair of Manchester United bids worth $44 million and $51 million. Palace was most concerned with the amount of deferred and add-on payments, wanting more up front which Manchester United executive Ed Woodward eventually conceded to.

Wan-Bissaka, a Crystal Palace youth product, was a workhorse for the club last season, starting all but three Premier League matches and completing the full 90 minutes in all but one of those starts. The youngster joins a Manchester United squad thin at full-back, with just Luke Shaw, Diogo Dalot, Matteo Darmian, Ashley Young, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, and Timothy Fosu-Mensah at the position.

The 21-year-old was on duty with the England youth squad at the U-21 Euros, but made a mistake in the opening match, scoring an own-goal that led to a late 2-1 defeat to France. He was then sat for the next two matches by head coach Andy Boothroyd, who admitted his decision to bench the youngster partially had to do with the transfer. “For a young player who all he knows is Crystal Palace academy and Crystal Palace it would be daft not to say that in some way he must think about it,” Boothroyd said after England’s early exit from the tournament in the group stage. “When that speculation is flying around it is bound to turn your head. But having said all of that had he not scored the own goal we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

Watch Live: Man United v. Man City, Wolves v. Arsenal

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The Theatre of Dreams is ready for another round of Manchester madness.

The Manchester derby is upon us, with both teams salivating at the prospect of a full three points off their rivals aiding them in their quest for Premier League glory. Manchester City can move back atop the Premier League table with a win, while Manchester United is hoping to gain ground on Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham in the battle for the Champions League places.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has surprisingly opted for a three-at-the-back formation, handing starts at central-defense to giving Matteo Darmian his first start since December while leaving Romelu Lukaku on the bench. Pep Guardiola has countered by handing Fernandinho his second straight start after injury troubles over the past month, while Ilkay Gundogan and David Silva are preferred to young Phil Foden. John Stones doesn’t make the squad, with Nicolas Otamendi on the bench to back up starters Vincent Kompany and Aymeric Laporte.

Meanwhile, Arsenal has a chance to stake its top four claim as well, traveling to Wolves. Unai Emery is without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who required a small sinus procedure and is out for the match, while Sokratis comes back into the defensive unit after serving his suspension. Wolves has Leander Dendoncker back into the lineup, replacing young Morgan Gibbs-White.

Both Arsenal and Manchester United currently sit outside the top four, but today represents their game in hand, and they can both gain significant ground. Arsenal can jump into the top four by leaping Chelsea with a win, while Manchester United could potentially pull level with the Blues on points, needing a six-goal margin to draw level on differential.


Wolves v. Arsenal — 2:45 p.m. ET, NBCSN [ STREAM ]

Wolves: Patricio, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Doherty, Dendoncker, Moutinho, Neves, Jonny, Jota, Jimenez
Bench: Ruddy, Cavaleiro, Costa, Gibbs-White, Saiss, Vinagra, Traore.

Arsenal: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal, Torreira, Xhaka, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Iwobi, Lacazette
Bench: Cech, Elneny, Mustafi, Guendouzi, Kolasinac, Nketiah, Willock.


Manchester United v. Manchester City — 3:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN [ STREAM ]

Manchester United: De Gea, Young, Darmian, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw, Fred, Pereira, Pogba, Rashford, Lingard.
Bench: Romero, Dalot, Matic, Martial, Mata, Sanchez, Lukaku.

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Zinchenko, Gündoğan, Fernandinho, B. Silva, D. Silva, Sterling, Aguero.
Bench: Muric, Danilo, Otamendi, Foden, Mahrez, Sane, Jesus.

How ‘ruthless’ should Solskjaer be at Man United?

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said he is going to be “ruthless” when it comes to ins and outs at Manchester United this summer.

But how ruthless does he have to be?

After a narrow, and undeserved, win against West Ham United on Saturday, Solskjaer admitted that the Hammers got away with one and it once again showed just how much work he has to do at Old Trafford to turn the Red Devils into a genuine force once again.

Here’s a reminder of what United’s new permanent head coach had to say last Friday about potential departures and arrivals this summer.

“It’s going to be survival of the fittest or survival of the best,” Solskjaer said. “That’s how ruthless we have to be.  We need players here who are going to be able to take us forward. That means culture in the dressing room, what we do every single day here to make us challenge again… Liverpool and City are too far head at the moment for what we like. We played against a Barcelona team that sets the standard in European football. We’re under no illusion it’s going to be hard work and there will be some tough decisions made by me, Mick [Phelan] and the club.”

Solskjaer’s task has become a lot tougher now his interim tag has been removed, with the Norwegian coach losing four of his last six games in all competitions and United struggling to make the top four and looking like they will crash out of the UEFA Champions League at Barcelona on Tuesday.

But at least he accepts he must be ruthless, as a whole host of players look set to move on this summer.

Antonio Valencia is leaving at the end of his contract, while Ander Herrera also looks set to leave for PSG and Juan Mata appears to be heading out of the door too. Then there is Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo who both seem set to leave, while Alexis Sanchez and United will both want to move on from a nightmare 18-month spell.

So that’s six first team players potentially on the way out, but only one or two are genuine starters. A bigger overhaul is needed. Here’s a look at where United need to strengthen over the summer, as they also need to sort out David De Gea‘s contract situation very quickly or run the risk of losing him too.


Man United lineup for the 2019-20 season

—– De Gea —–

—- New RB —- New CB —- Lindelof —- Shaw —-

—- New DM —- New DM —- 

—- New AM —- Pogba —- Martial —-

—– Rashford —–


Now, Diogo Dalot can replace Ashley Young as the long-term right back, while Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have been handed new deals at center back, and Eric Bailly is around too, but their limitations have been made clear over the years. A new RB and CB are a must. In central midfield the likes of Scott McTominay, Fred and Nemanja Matic have all had their ups and downs and that is the main area where United need to strengthen. Going forward, they are pretty set, especially with the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez in reserve. But the main thing here is clear: have a clear-out of squad players this summer and focus on bringing in 3-4 star players.

Which players should be the top targets for United? Solskjaer should aim for young, hungry players who can be at United together for a decade, while some experienced center backs are key. Bur remember: Solskjaer has been keen to promote youngsters from United’s academy whenever he can, so that may also be the route he goes down to freshen things up and Ed Woodward and United’s hierarchy would probably be fine with that given how much money Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho have spent over the past five years.

Here’s a look at the players who should be their top priorities:

PL Preview: Manchester United v. West Ham

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  • Irons won 3-1 at Old Trafford
  • United defense is suspension-, injury-hit
  • Man Utd leads all-time 65W-31D-44L

West Ham United seeks its first league sweep of Manchester United since 2006-07 when the Irons visit Old Trafford on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

How bad is Manchester United’s injury and suspension status out wide? Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said, “We don’t have full-backs this week.”

So that’s music to the ears of Felipe Anderson and the West Ham attackers, as Manuel Pellegrini‘s side hopes to make an unlikely climb into the Europa League.

Meanwhile, United has to balance its desire to finish Top Four — they enter the weekend three points back of fourth-place Spurs — with preparation and freshness for its UEFA Champions League second leg at Barcelona next week.

What th ey’re saying

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: “We don’t have fullbacks this week. Not too many as we’ve lost Luke and Ashley through suspension. Antonio Valencia is still not fit. Maybe Matteo Darmian will be available for the bench and Marcos Rojo has been training for a while. He’s available and we’ve got Jonah (Phil Jones), who could also play there. Rojo needed to get out on the big pitch (in the Under-23s, against West Brom last Friday) so he could have that game but we’ve had a couple of practice matches so let’s see what we decide.“

West Ham captain Mark Noble: “We’re looking forward to going to Manchester United on Saturday. We were encouraged by our second-half performance at Stamford Bridge, it’s our last away game outside London and if we can reproduce the sort of performance we produced at home back in September, when we beat them 3-1, then no one will be more delighted than me. Our main worry is that, away from home, we’ve scored just one goal since this year.”

Prediction

Goals on both sides of a 2-2 draw which leaves both sides a bit perturbed with their performances.

Lukaku to join Man United’s summer exodus?

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Romelu Lukaku could be joining the summer exodus at Old Trafford.

With Alexis Sanchez, Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, David De Gea and Marcos Rojo linked with moves, plus Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian out of contract, Manchester United’s star forward is the latest to be linked with a move away.

His representatives have hardly quashed talk of a transfer this summer.

Lukaku, 25, has lost his starting role to Marcus Rashford in recent weeks, with Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard impressing in wide areas under new permanent boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Speaking to our partners at Sky Sports, Federico Pastorello revealed that Lukaku is ‘very open’ to a move this summer.

“At the moment he is very focused on finishing the season,” Pastorello said. “The competition for third and fourth place in England is very tight so let’s see what will happen in the future at the end the season. It’s his second season here and he will still have three years on his contract until the end. Let’s see. He’s someone who loves to know a different culture, a different football.”

“He sees a way to have a career playing in different countries because he would like to win some trophies and prove himself and say to his children ‘I won there and I won there and I won there’ and ‘I was a very good player in all the top championships’ so let’s see, the future is really very open but, at the moment, we don’t discuss about that because really the season is in a big moment.”

Talking about those different countries and culture, Pastorello went on to confirm that Lukaku is interested in playing in Italy, Spain and Germany, and the former is a real option as Serie A is a league he grew up watching. Yet there was also a comment that he appreciates Solskjaer bringing him into the team when he can, as Lukaku how now started seven of United’s last 10 games in all competitions.

But does he have a future at Old Trafford? As a starter, probably not.

Lukaku arrived from Everton in the summer of 2017 with huge expectations on his shoulders and with 42 goals in 90 appearances in all competitions he has delivered plenty of goals. But his all-round play has been criticized time and time again, and with Rashford flourishing in the central role and Solskjaer’s tactics setting United to be a counter-attacking team, it’s clear Lukaku doesn’t really suit that style.

If he leaves United this summer, Lukaku will leave having scored close to one goal every other game, plus winning the League Cup and Europa League. Not a bad haul. United may struggled to get close to the $97 million they paid Everton two years ago for him, but getting around $65-70 million should be doable.

With young talent earmarked to come in under Solskjaer’s watch, the likes of Jadon Sancho, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Declan Rice have all been mentioned as possible arrivals and getting a large chunk of cash for Lukaku while they can wouldn’t be the worst piece of business United could do given their other attacking options.

Maybe a club like Bayern Munich, who are rebuilding their squad and have an ageing Robert Lewandowski to rely on up front, would be a good fit for Lukaku…