On the back of a seven goals so far this Premier League season, Manchester United has reportedly triggered a club option in Anthony Martial‘s contract.
The report from the BBC states that Martial’s contract now runs through the end of the 2020 season, as his value rises based on recent impressive performances. The French winger, who missed out on the 2018 World Cup, scored five goals in five games during October and early November, and if the option wasn’t triggered, Martial could have signed a pre-contract agreement with another club. Multiple reports in France and England state that Martial and Man United are currently in contract negotiations over extending him into the long term.
[READ: What did we learn in the Premier League this weekend?]
Man United paid $57.8 million in 2015 from Monaco to sign Martial, but his time in Manchester has been filled with plenty of ups and downs. He’s scored 44 goals in four seasons at Man United, but he’s never truly lived up to the price tag. Perhaps his recent form can give him a boost into the future, or it can bring Man United a decent pay off if Mourinho chooses to sell him this summer.
Both Liverpool and Manchester United were handed mouth-watering draws on Monday as the UEFA Champions League set up the first stage of matches in the Round of 16.
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Liverpool drew Bayern Munich while Manchester United faces Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain. Elsewhere in the Premier League, Manchester City drew Schalke 04 and Tottenham drew Borussia Dortmund. Let’s take a closer look at each of the eight matchups:
Jose Mourinho isn’t in danger of losing his job after Manchester United’s latest soul-crushing defeat to a rival.
That’s according to a report from The Guardian, which states that Mourinho is safe for the time being and it’s “business as usual” at Manchester United, despite the 3-1 defeat to Liverpool. The Red Devils were mostly played off the park by Liverpool on Sunday, and the defeat left Mourinho’s team 19 points behind league-leading Liverpool and 13 points outside the top four places. The loss also moved Man United to 7-5-5 on the season, the club’s worst start since 1990.
[READ: UEFA Champions League Last 16 Draw]
The pressure on Mourinho continues to grow with every passing week as a star-studded and incredibly expensive squad continues to under perform for the Portuguese manager. Mourinho inexplicably left Paul Pogba and Juan Mata on the bench against Liverpool, and while it can be argued that Liverpool got lucky bounces in their second and third goals, the same can be said for Man United’s only goal of the game, which came thanks to a howler of an error from goalkeeper Alisson.
While Manchester United are into the knockout stages of the Champions League, the side’s inability to win the group ensured that they would face a European giant, which the Red Devils did when it landed Paris Saint-Germain. Like his two predecessors before him since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, it feels that it’s only a matter of time before both sides part ways and move on, with a decision possibly coming in March or April if Man United is confirmed that it will finish outside of the UEFA Champions League places.
We could be just hours or days away from the official announcement: Zlatan Ibrahimovic is returning for a second season with the LA Galaxy.
The veteran Swedish striker posted a teaser video across his social media pages with the caption “MLZ Im (sic) not done with you yet,” in which MLZ surely stands for Major League Zlatan. The video features clips from various ESPN shows as pundits discussed Ibrahimovic’s future earlier this offseason, when it appeared more likely that he’d be leaving.
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Since October there have been strong rumors linking him to a return at AC Milan. However, Milan sporting director Leonardo said that a deal fell through and reports out of Sweden state that his family is enjoying life in Southern California and didn’t want to trade that right now for Italy. The LA Times reported last week that Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy were renegotiating his contract, one that would likely make him a Designated Player, in order to bring him back in 2018.
Of course, if Ibrahimovic became a Designated Player, one of Giovani and Jonathan Dos Santos or Romain Alessandrini would have to either leave or sign a new, lower contract. That is still up in the air, though signing Ibrahimovic as a DP would necessitate a move in one form or another.
It will be fascinating to see whether Ibrahimovic can follow up on his incredible 22-goal, 10-assist campaign. Can he continue to score timely and important goals as a 38-year-old?
UEFA conducted its second knockout stage tournament draw on Monday morning, as Arsenal and Chelsea learned their next opponents.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Arsenal drew BATE Borisov out of Belarus while Chelsea were drawn with Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s former club Malmo in Sweden. Since both Arsenal and Chelsea were seeded, they’ll travel east for the first legs and host the second legs, though they’re not allowed to be hosted on the same night. Matches will take place on February 14 and February 21, with the exception of Arsenal-BATE and Sevilla-Lazio, since Real Betis, Sevilla’s second club, is playing in this stage of the competition as well.
It’s the second-straight season in which Arsenal and BATE will play, after the pair were placed together in the group stage of the 2017-2018 Europa League. Both Arsenal and Chelsea may have an advantage, as both the Belorussian and Swedish top divisions run from spring to winter, taking a long break from December through March due to the weather conditions.
Here’s a look at the full Europa League draw: