Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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Man United favorites to sign Jadon Sancho?

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Jadon Sancho is the youngster all Premier League teams, and top teams across Europe, want and Man United are apparently emerging as the favorites to sign him.

Sancho, 20, has two years left on his contract at Borussia Dortmund and the German giants have openly admitted they expect to sell Sancho in the near future to maximize their profits on the tricky, speedy winger.

Chelsea, Liverpool and his former club Man City (who have first refusal to buy him back) have all been linked with a move for Sancho but according to The Independent Man United are said to be the favorites to sign him due to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s project of building a young, exciting team.

Per the report, Sancho is valued at over $120 million by Dortmund and if Man United sneak into the Champions League it seems like a perfect fit for everyone as Solskjaer continues to prioritize signing young British players after the arrival or Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire and Daniel James last summer. Add Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood into the mix and half of the England team could be playing for Man United next season.

With uncertainty over when the transfer window will reopen due to the coronavirus pandemic, whenever it does you can expect Jadon Sancho to be the most in-demand player in Europe.

His form for Dortmund as a teenager has been nothing short of sensational and his decision to leave Man City for Germany three years ago has paid off, big time. With 14 goals and 15 assists in the Bundesliga so far this season, he’s putting up the best numbers of his career and Sancho is shinning.

Comfortable on the right wing, a front four of Rashford on the left, Bruno Fernandes in the center, Sancho on the right and Anthony Martial up top must have Man United fans licking their chops in anticipation.

Transfer news: Soumare to Liverpool; Lemar to Man United

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Transfer news continues to rumble on despite the lack of games due to the coronavirus pandemic, as plenty of the Premier League big boys are said to be in talks over summer signings.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Let’s take a look at some of the latest Premier League transfer news below.


Do Liverpool need a new box-to-box midfielder? Apparently so.

With Fabinho in and out of the team through injury, plus Naby Keita linked with a move back to RB Leipzig and James Milner becoming more of a bit-part player, it is perhaps one of the only areas where Jurgen Klopp can strengthen his incredible Liverpool squad.

A report from Spanish outlet Sport claims that Liverpool have held talks with Lille over signing Boubakary Soumare, 21, for some time and are keen on the young Frenchman.

Soumare was linked with a move to either Chelsea or Man United in January but remained at Lille and it appears he will have even more options this summer, or whenever the transfer window opens.


As for Man United, they are said to be interested in Atletico Madrid winger Thomas Lemar, 24, who has totally fallen out of favor with Diego Simeone.

After it looked like he could sign for Liverpool, Chelsea or Arsenal in the summer of 2017, Lemar joined Atletico from AS Monaco in 2018 but has struggled to adapt his game to La Liga and according to ESPN his agents have been in discussions with Man United earlier this week.

The French international has quality on the ball and is a fine dribbler and his arrival could perhaps spell the end at Man United for the likes of Jesse Lingard and Andreas Perreira, as Lemar can operate across all three attacking midfield positions. Alongside the brilliant Bruno Fernandes, Lemar would provide something a little different for Man United’s attack with Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford leading the line. Daniel James has faded a little in recent months after a strong start to life at Old Trafford but is still young but Lemar’s quality and experience would surely see him become a regular at Man United.

As the report notes, Lemar will not come cheap as he has three years left on his contract at Atletico but his direct dribbling style and pace on the counter would suit this Man United side very well. His qualities aren’t suite to the way Atletico play but that would not be the case at Man United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Live, Europa League: LASK v. Man United, Olympiacos v. Wolves headlines

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Five of the six UEFA Europa League games will go ahead behind close doors across Europe on Thursday as the Round of 16 first legs, quite remarkably, will take place with Man United and Wolves in action.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

With the coronavirus outbreak impacting much of Europe heavily, special conditions are in place for Europa League games as two have been called off with Inter Milan v. Getafe and Sevilla v. Roma postponed due to travel restrictions between Italy and Spain.

The two Premier League clubs who remain in the Europa League, Man United and Wolves, travel to LASK in Austria and Olympiacos in Greece for their respective first legs but both games will be played in empty stadiums.

Wolves have issued a statement criticizing UEFA after they wanted their game at Olympiacos to be postponed due to Olympiacos’ owner Evangelos Marinakis being diagnosed with coronavirus. Olympiacos have since confirmed all of their staff and players have been tested and their tests have come back as negative and the game will be played in an empty stadium in Greece.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Nuno Espirito Santo will see this competition as a great way to secure Champions League qualification given the congested nature of the top four battle in the Premier League and both Man United and Wolves have taken this competition very seriously, albeit with a bit of squad rotation especially in United’s case. Both United and Wolves are heavily favored to advance to the Europa League quarterfinals are United are the favorites and Wolves the third favorites (behind Inter Milan) to win the whole thing.

Looking elsewhere there is what looks like a lopsided battle between Bayer Leverkusen and Steven Gerrard‘s Rangers as the German side continue their uptick in form, while Rangers have struggled in the Scottish Premiership after they knocked out Braga in the last round. Their game at Ibrox is the only one scheduled to have fans in attendance.

Eintracht Frankfurt against Basel will be an intriguing clash, so too will Istanbul Basaksehir v. Copenhagen as the former have the likes of Demba BaMartin Skrtel and Gael Clichy in their squad. Wolfsburg v. Shakthar Donetsk also takes place with the German side favorites to advance.

Below is the schedule in full for Thursday’s Europa League games, while you can click on the link above to follow all the action live and we will have analysis on Man United and Wolves right here on ProSoccerTalk.


Thursday’s UEFA Europa League Round of 16 first leg schedule

LASK Linz v. Man United – 1:55 p.m. ET
Eintracht Frankfurt v. FC Basel – 1:55 p.m. ET
Istanbul Basaksehir v. Copenhagen – 1:55 p.m. ET
Olympiacos v. Wolves – 4 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen v. Glasgow Rangers – 4 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg v. Shakhtar Donetsk – 4 p.m. ET
Inter Milan v. Getafe – Postponed
Sevilla v. Roma – Postponed

Pogba set to return to Man Utd training; Martial misses LASK trip

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Paul Pogba may be granted a birthday wish to return to Manchester United training.

Pogba turns 27 on Sunday, and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says the United star will rejoin the team in training next week.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

So we’re getting closer to seeing a Manchester United attack with both Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, which is nice considering the Red Devils are unbeaten in 10 matches after a win in the Manchester Derby.

The Frenchman hasn’t played since Boxing Day, and has just four appearances since the calendar flipped to September.

It’s been an extremely challenging season for Pogba, who has constantly been mentioned in the rumor mill.

Every decision in his rehabilitation has been met with second-guessing amongst media and fans, and his agent sure hasn’t helped things.

In other United injury news, Anthony Martial is set to miss out on Thursday’s Europa League first leg at LASK due to fallout from a derby collision with a goal post.

Martial may return when the Red Devils visit Spurs on Sunday before a second leg versus LASK at Old Trafford.

Then there’s an FA Cup match with Norwich City on March 22 before a league match April 4 at Brighton and Hove Albion.

Premier League is better with unique Fernandes magic

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It has been a while – if ever – since the Premier League has seen a player like Bruno Fernandes.

The Manchester United midfielder, who joined this January from Portuguese club Sporting CP, has so far been worth every single penny of the $70 million the Red Devils forked over. At 25 years old, Fernandes was minted as the PFA Player of the Month for February on Monday, and it’s no surprise to see him garner plaudits left and right since his arrival a month ago.

What makes Bruno Fernandes so wonderful to watch – and concurrently so valuable to Manchester United – is also what makes him look on paper to be total chaos personified. He is, quite literally, everywhere. When his movements are transcribed onto graphical images, Bruno Fernandes appears to be a chicken with his head cut off. He kind of is, but it’s obviously more nuanced than that.

First, the fun part. Here’s what his last three matches before that look like on paper, followed by his heat maps for the entire season thus far, from both Sporting CP first and then Manchester United. (Click here for a key of the StatsZone app dashboards)

As you can see, the new Manchester United talisman covers nearly the entire attacking half of the field. He also contributes a heavy amount defensively, to moderate success. This isn’t exactly what sets him completely apart, but it’s the start. Few players are able to cover this amount of attacking ground while having such an effect on the game. Kevin De Bruyne is a player with similar freedom, and he has budded into maybe the most destructive creative force in Europe.

Yet while de Bruyne is more of a facilitator, Fernandes is more of a nomad. The Portuguese international doesn’t exactly feature on the ball nearly as much as his Belgian counterpart across town, instead choosing to float and wander looking for pockets of space as his teammates share the workload. If you watch Bruno Fernandes off the ball, he’s continually serving as a foil for his fellow attackers, often drifting away from a ball-carrier’s direction where space is available hoping to either carry too many defenders or none at all.

Bruno Fernandes picks his spots.

That was never more evident than against Manchester City, where the midfielder had to take special care and not waste what precious little possession the Red Devils had. With the visitors holding an enormous possessional advantage at Old Trafford – Man City out-passed Manchester United 671-215 – Fernandes was forced to make the most of the scraps he could find. He started the game out on the right flank as Anthony Martial found joy down the opposite end, but soon drifted centrally and then to his favored left edge as Daniel James grew in influence on the ball. He eventually found his moment, first earning the key 29th minute foul before serving up the game’s most critical moment.

When he did deliver, it highlighted another of his wide-ranging skill set: Bruno Fernandes is a set-piece wizard. Not only does he consistently deliver excellent corners into dangerous areas, but his chipped free-kick was left on a platter for Anthony Martial on the opening goal. All told, Fernandes seemingly did more with his limited touches – 25 received passes, 24 attempted passes – than Manchester City did all 90 minutes while hoofing a massive 33 crosses and appearing devoid of any creative flair. At the end of the match, despite the huge gulf in possession, Manchester United had somehow out-shot Man City 12-7.

Watch the Every Touch video posted above. What do you notice? Yes, Manchester United was sloppy against Manchester City at times, and Fernandes included. That’s what happens when you play the Pep Guardiola swarm and press. Still, every time he loses the ball he races back to try and challenge, and every time he connects with a teammate there’s a calming presence before he races off to find space of his own off the ball.

Where else can you find a player with this varied and unique skill set?

De Bruyne is the most obvious comparison, but the Belgian does not tackle at such a rate – Fernandes has him almost double, with two tackles per game to de Bruyne’s 1-3. Tackling is still an area of improvement for Fernandes, having whiffed on all five of his attempts against Manchester City to leave him 10/29 so far in Premier League play, but the pressing output is the important part for an attacking player like Fernandes. Otherwise, statistically KDB has a mimic on his hands, which is high praise.

Mesut Ozil is a player that, when at his best, can be a versatile and diverse attacking player but he also wouldn’t dare produce the defensive contributions (0.9 tackles, 0.3 interceptions, and 0.1 clearances per game to Bruno Fernandes’ 2.0, 1.0, and 1.8). Mason Mount will track back every so often, but his usage is far more one-sided as the Chelsea youngster favors the left flank. Fernandes’ countrymate Joao Moutinho is closer statistically than one might think, considering he currently sits eighth in the Premier League in chances created, but he still does not get forward with the fluidity and consistency that Fernandes does, instead anchored in the middle of the Wolves formation and favoring the left side.

In typical Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fashion, the Manchester United boss compared his new signing to a Red Devils great in Paul Scholes, in part thanks to the number of the back of his shirt, and Wayne Rooney echoed that comparison just a few days ago, according to the Mirror, after Derby County was dropped by Manchester United in the FA Cup. In truth, Fernandes has a bit more flair than Scholes did, and that’s not a knock on the midfield legend. Fernandes simply seems to play with a little less strength and a little more finesse than was Scholes’ calling card.

There really is no other player quite like Bruno Fernandes, and he could be the foundation upon which Manchester United builds its new era. There is a new great player who calls the Premier League home, and that should excite fans of all teams, even those who are adversely affected by his magic.