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Marcus Rashford struggling with injury

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Marcus Rashford will not play for England during this international break.

The Manchester United striker, 21, has suffered an ankle injury and has been training away from the team as the Three Lions prepare to open up their EURO 2020 qualifying campaign against the Czech Republic.

Rashford has been in fine form for United since caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge in December, but he will not be risked by England boss Gareth Southgate.

The Three Lions manager confirmed to the media on Thursday that Rashford would be sent back to United as he was not fit enough to play in either of the qualifiers over the next few days.

United’s homegrown star injured his ankle in the 0-0 draw against Liverpool at Old Trafford on Feb. 24 and was forced to play on after United suffered injuries galore in the first half and couldn’t sub him off. He has been nursing the ankle injury ever since. That could explain a little dip in form in recent weeks as Rashford has scored just once from open play in his past six games for United.

Solskjaer and everyone at United would not want England to take a risk with Rashford, and Southgate hasn’t done that as he has a wealth of attacking options he has at his disposal.

Harry Kane is expected to lead the line for England, with Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Jadon Sancho supporting him. Callum Wilson is another forward option for Southgate, and Callum Hudson-Odoi could also be involved, so although Rashford is a hugely important player for England there is no need to take a risk on his fitness. The decision to release Rashford is a good one by Southgate.

Why is Pogba praising Real Madrid?

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Paul Pogba appears to be keeping his options open ahead of his Manchester United contract running out in the summer of 2021, as he also has an option for a further year at Old Trafford.

The French superstar, 26, has been in fine form since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived as United’s caretaker boss in December and has United in the last eight of the UEFA Champions League and in the scrap for a top four finish.

However, when asked about a possible move to Spanish giants Real Madrid ahead of France’s clash against Moldova, Pogba wasn’t exactly shy about his admiration for the club and their new manager.

“Like I’ve always said, Real Madrid is a dream for anyone. It’s one of the biggest clubs in the world,” Pogba said. “There is also [Zinedine] Zidane as a coach and it’s a dream for anybody who likes football. For now, I’m at Manchester. We don’t know what the future holds. I’m at Manchester and I’m happy.”

Now, Pogba didn’t go as far as telling Zidane and Real’s club president Florentino Perez to give him or his agent a call, but you can have a fair wager on that happening in the coming months.

Why is he so outspoken about one of United’s European rivals?

Pogba has had a mixed three seasons since returning to United from Juventus, and the central midfielder has yet to sign a new long-term contract. This could be his way (with a nudge in the right direction from his agent Mino Raiola) of getting United to kick-start contract negotiations this summer, but it could simply just be a sign of his admiration for Zidane as a French national team legend. Is the pull of Zizou enough to get Pogba to swap United for Real?

If Solskjaer remains in charge at United, something Pogba has said he wants, then it is clear he will stick around and work for the manager who has given him a free role in the team and has known him since his days in the youth team and reserve squads at United. If Solskjaer doesn’t stay at United, it is clear Pogba and his representatives will be taking a look at where he can spend the prime years of his career. Given his recent form of nine goals and seven assists in 17 games under Solskjaer, Pogba’s stock is on the rise again.

These comments suggest that Pogba wants everyone to know that, and he is starting to ramp up the pressure from his side of things. Now, it will be intriguing to see if United offer him a new deal, or at least open up negotiations, this summer. Or maybe, just maybe, they could see Pogba as a player who could be sold a profit and would fuel the squad rebuild they badly need.

Pogba ‘happy’ at Manchester United; Real, Zidane ‘dream for anybody who likes football’

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Paul Pogba may want Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to stick around Old Trafford, but he didn’t say he would be there for the duration of the Norwegian’s tenure at Manchester United.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up v. Ecuador? ]

The midfield magician has been a big part of the Red Devils’ post-Jose Mourinho turnaround, but money talks and Real Madrid is likely to spend incredible amounts of it this summer as it attempts to flip its fortunes following a domestic and European trophy-free season.

Pogba was asked about the chances of a move to Real Madrid at a press conference on Wednesday. From Goal.com:

“Like I’ve always said, Real Madrid is a dream for anyone. It’s one of the biggest clubs in the world,” Pogba said.

“There is also [Zinedine] Zidane as a coach and it’s a dream for anybody who likes football. For now, I’m at Manchester. We don’t know what the future holds. I’m at Manchester and I’m happy.”

It stands to reason that Pogba likes football, and he would team-up with a fellow French World Cup winner in Zidane (not to mention his purchase may inspire Raphael Varane to stay… and Kylian Mbappe to join).

The problem Real will run into, though, is Financial Fair Play. The Galacticos that Florentino Perez demand cost more money than ever before. With Pogba, Eden Hazard, and many others linked with Real, how much can they afford to spend before getting in trouble?

Going back to Pogba liking Solskjaer’s understanding of what United is all about, wouldn’t he know this is the sort of talk which would get Sir Alex Ferguson on the phone with Real? No one is bigger than the club? It will be interesting to see how these comments are received by the United public and club itself.

Pogba wants Solskjaer at Manchester United full time

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Manchester United superstar Paul Pogba wants his manager to stick around Old Trafford.

Pogba, who turned 26 last week, has 11 goals and nine assists this season, a heavy portion coming in the time after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took the reins of the Premier League side.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up v. Ecuador? ]

On French international team duty this week, Pogba says the big difference is happiness. The midfielder says the vibe is transmitted to the players by the 46-year-old Norwegian.

From Sky Sports:

“When a player is happy, he wants to keep being happy,” Pogba said. “Solskjaer deserves it. He knows the club, he knows everything about the club.

“He is a really happy coach that gave confidence back to the players,” he added. “This gave us the freedom to play and enjoy football again because maybe we lost that with the results that we had before.”

Solskjaer is certainly the favorite for the gig, and there’s a little wry humor in the fact that his crowning achievement was likely shepherding United past Paris Saint-Germain in Paris without the French superstar.

Maybe it’s the post-Alex Ferguson dry spell, but there’s something ubiquitous about the culture of United that transcends the “stop living in the past” mindset (Ahem, Zlatan). And maybe the idea of clutching the lore of a club is terrible for the players, but it’s working in the short-term. Will it run out if United is bounced from the Champions League by Barcelona and is staring at a silverware-free season which may be followed by a lack of UCL in 2019-20?

Mane to Real Madrid; Manolas to Man United?

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Now that you’ve all recovered from the January transfer window, it is time to focus on the summer transfer window.

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After all, the transfer window opens in just a few months time for Premier League clubs. With that in mind, here are couple of juicy rumors doing the rounds…

A report from France Football claims that Zinedine Zidane wants to make Liverpool’s Sadio Mane one of his first big signings back at Real Madrid.

Mane, 26, only signed a new contract with Liverpool in November but the Senegalese flyer has been in sensational form in recent months and is carrying their hopes of winning the Premier League and UEFA Champions League. Per the report, Zidane is a huge fan of Mane and wanted to sign him in the summer of 2018 before he abruptly left Real.

Mane has scored 20 goals in 36 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool this season, and has scored 11 times in his last 11 games. And besides his improving goalscoring record he has the one thing modern teams want: blistering pace.

Whether or not Mane could be tempted to leave Liverpool this summer remains to be seen, but if they do win either the PL title or the UCL, is that a good time for Mane to move on?

He may believe it won’t get any better than that, but leaving Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah and breaking up that partnership would certainly upset Liverpool fans and neutrals alike. Zizou plans to rebuild this ageing Real team and it is quite right that he wants Mane to be the future of their attack alongside the likes of Vinicius Junior.


Man United’s plans to sign a new center back haven’t been a secret for some time now. We just weren’t sure if that was a priority since Jose Mourinho left and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived as the new caretaker manager.

It appears getting in a new commanding center half is still a top priority for the Red Devils.

A report from Calciomercato in Italy has linked United with a move for Roma and Greece defender Kostas Manolas, with the 27-year-old said to have a $39.8 million release clause in his contract if Roma do not qualify for the Champions League. They are currently four points off the top four with 10 games left in Serie A.

The powerful Greek defender has been a regular at Roma over the past five seasons and was influential in their run to the Champions League semifinals last season. With Phil Jones and Chris Smalling handed new contracts recently, United’s policy when it comes to retaining their current center backs is strange.

Victor Lindelof has improved drastically under Solskjaer, but it seems like both Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo will be sold this summer. Toby Alderweireld and Kalidou Koulibaly have both been linked with moves to United, and having Manolas and Alderweireld as center backs, with one of Lindelof, Smalling and Jones alongside them in a 3-4-3 formation could work very well.