Romelu Lukaku

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Pogba sets up Rashford in Man United’s win in Australia

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PERTH, Australia (AP) Unsettled Paul Pogba provided the backheel flick for England striker Marcus Rashford to score in Manchester United’s 2-0 win over the A-League’s Perth Glory on Saturday at Perth Stadium.

[ MORE: Saturday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

With his back to the goal in the 60th minute, Rashford took Pogba’s pass, swiveled and lashed a left-footed shot into the bottom corner of the Perth net.

Midfielder James Garner, who had been on the pitch for only a minute, scored United’s second goal in the 85th on a long-range volley after a mix-up in the Perth defense.

After a scoreless first half, Rashford and Pogba were two of 11 changes for United at the start of the second. Pogba’s future with the club has been the subject of much speculation after saying that he wants to play elsewhere in Europe next season despite having two years left on his contract.

[ MORE: Matthijs de Ligt left off Ajax roster for start of preseason ]

Daniel James started for the visitors but fellow summer signing and right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka was on the bench until halftime.

Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelof were not included in the lineup.

United is in Perth for 10 days and two matches. Its second match is next Wednesday against Leeds at the same Perth Stadium.

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.

Inter Milan reportedly meets with Manchester United on Lukaku

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Romelu Lukaku wasn’t very good this year, but it should come as no surprise that some of the biggest clubs in Europe are plenty interested in the big Belgian striker.

Manchester United has given a new rich contract to center forward Marcus Rashford, and Lukaku reportedly wants to leave Old Trafford after a terrible season by his standards.

Inter Milan has been widely linked with him, and Sky Sports says the Serie A side is in England for talks with United, even more intrigued now that serial scudetto winners Juventus are reportedly creeping around the striker. The quoted fee is around $94 million.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

Lukaku just turned 26 in May and is coming off his worst season, well, ever. He scored 12 goals in 32 Premier League appearances and two more in nine Champions League runs.

But United was a mess last season, and finishing wasn’t exactly in form for them. Not only did Lukaku have his goal numbers dip, but his assists sank dramatically.

The Belgian has been a magnet for six or seven assists a season, but only produced one this year.

What both Juve and Inter are betting on is Lukaku’s down year being an aberration, and it’s a safe bet considering he was a big time producer with West Brom, Everton, and United.

And that’s why I have to think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is seeing Lukaku report to United preseason and hoping he can persuade him to spend another season at Old Trafford. It’s hard to envision the striker failing to show up, and he did score three goals in his only international caps of the summer.

Man United ‘in the process’ of selling Pogba

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This summer Paul Pogba has made his wish clear to leave Manchester United, and it appears the Red Devils are now working on making it a reality.

Pogba, 26, told reporters at a promotional event in Japan last month that “now could be a good time to find a new challenge.”

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The French World Cup winner has spent the last three seasons at Manchester United following his then world-record $110 million transfer from Juventus in 2016.

Speaking to The Times on Friday, Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, has confirmed he is working on behalf of his client and with the club to seal a transfer away from Old Trafford.

“Everyone knows the willingness of Paul to move on. We are in the process of doing that,” Raiola said. “Everyone knows what the feelings of Paul are… Everyone within the club, from the manager to the owner, knows Paul’s wishes.”

The timing of this statement makes sense, but quite how far along Raiola is in “the process” of a transfer remains to be seen.

United are heading to the preseason tour of Australia and the Far East on Sunday, and it is clear Pogba doesn’t want to be on that plane. When asked that, Raiola simply added: “I cannot tell you anything. I live day by day.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had given Pogba extra time off and he has yet to return to preseason training at their Carrington base, but the reason given for that was due to Pogba’s heavy workload last summer at the World Cup as his summer break was cut short by then manager Jose Mourinho.

Clearly that isn’t the case and his erratic form for the Red Devils first under Mourinho, and then in the latter months of last season under Solskjaer, prove he just isn’t what United need at the moment. Over the past three seasons he has had severe ups and downs, as United have won the League Cup and Europa League, but have twice finished outside of the Premier League’s top six. Last season was his best-ever in terms of his output, as he led United with 16 goals and 11 assists.

Pogba’s influence in the dressing room is massive and if he wants out there is likely to be a cloud hanging over United’s squad until it happens. Solskjaer has hinted at more transfer deals to be done by United this summer, as so far they’ve added young talents Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka for a combined cost of $85 million. If Pogba leaves and Romelu Lukaku follows him out of the door, United will need to spend plenty to replace their star quality. That said, their new transfer policy involves buying young, hungry players instead of superstars who are the finished article.

Real Madrid and Juventus have both been linked with a move for Pogba this summer, as the central midfielder is contracted to the club until 2021 and this transfer window represents the best chance for United to recoup the vast majority of the $110 million they paid for him.

With the transfer window shutting for Premier League clubs on Aug. 8, we haven’t heard the last of this one.

Man United expect more arrivals; Pereira, Tuanzebe sign new deals

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Maybe Manchester United won’t splash a lot of cash this summer after all…

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer locked down two academy products to long-term contracts on Friday, as Andreas Pereira and Axel Tuanzebe committed their futures to the Old Trafford club, but he has also been talking about signing new players.

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And it seems like he isn’t that confident off adding more than one new player this summer…

Speaking to Man United’s website as the squad prepare to head to Australia and the Far East for preseason, Solskjaer said he is delighted to have signed Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James this summer and is hoping to make just a couple of new additions between now and the 2019-20 campaign kicking off.

“Well, it’s a long-term and it’s a short-term project. You cannot just think three years down the line, so we’ve got short-term goals as well, of course,” Solskjaer explained. “I think we’ve been quite calm and good in the market as we’ve got the right people, and we’re still working on a case or two. Of course, we’re always looking to improve the squad and, all over the summer, I’ve been in touch with Joel [Glazer] and Ed [Woodward] and all the recruitment people, and analysis people. I’ve got to say it’s been very good so far. I’ve got the backing and we’ve got the people we wanted, for now, and there will probably be some more business being done.”

With United linked with moves for Harry Maguire (United had a $87 million bid turned down by Leicester earlier this week) and Bruno Fernandes among others, those two deals could cost over $200 million to complete. Maguire in particular would be a huge coup with Manchester City also said to be interested in him, as United’s main aim in the transfer this summer is to get younger across the board and better defensively.

It seems like Solskjaer is keeping his cards close to his chest, and the amount of signings he makes will likely depend on which players he can shift on with no UEFA Champions League action to rely on.

As for the players signing new contracts, Pereira, 23, signed a new three-year deal, while Tuanzebe has agreed a three-year contract. There is an option year for both players to extend the deal, as both look like being a part of United’s squad this season.

Pereira featured 29 times for United last season and the Brazilian scored a screamer in a 3-2 win against Southampton, and with Ander Herrera leaving for PSG and Pogba potentially being sold, Pereira adds extra cover in central midfield and a little extra attacking flair.

Tuanzebe, 21, excelled on loan at Aston Villa last season at center back and it was thought he could return to PL new boys Villa for the upcoming campaign. That may still happen, but he will spend preseason with United and try to beat Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Victor Lindelof to one of the starting center back spots.

Pereira and Tuanzebe join Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata in signing new deals at United over the past week and with AWB their new first-choice right back and James set to compete for minutes right away, the squad is starting to look settled and needs to be large to deal with the Thursday-Sunday grind of the UEFA Europa League.

But there is still plenty to sort out.

Both Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku sound like they want to leave this summer and Solskjaer is likely to want that issue resolved as soon as possible so he can bring in replacements.

Solskjaer doesn’t sound certain about other big additions this summer, and that may be worrying for United’s fans who want a huge overhaul between now and Aug. 8 when the window shuts.