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Wilshere nearing West Ham return; Carroll linked with New England

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Injury-plagued or not, Manuel Pellegrini insists West Ham United must continue to fight for a place in Europe until it becomes mathematically impossible.

[ MORE: Costa suspended 8 games ]

“I always demand more from the players, from myself and from everyone,” Pellegrini said on Thursday. “If you ask if it’s a good season; nine games before the finish we were not fighting against relegation, with an average of five or six players not available. From that point of view, it’s not a bad season.”

Pellegrini visits his former derby rivals Manchester United on Saturday in a must-win if West Ham is to challenge for seventh. The Irons are five points back of that target.

Jack Wilshere is close to returning, with Pellegrini saying the English midfielder has one more U-23 match to go until he dons the senior team kit. Samir Nasri is also out with a muscle injury, while Andriy Yarmolenko and Carlos Sanchez are still a couple of weeks away.

Andy Carroll has undergone ankle surgery. The news of his surgery comes as the injury-plagued striker is linked with a move to Major League Soccer after this summer, with a source telling ProSoccerTalk that New England is a possible landing point for the former Liverpool star.

The 30-year-old has appeared in just 30 matches since the start of the 2017-18 season.

Solskjaer ‘cannot see’ Pogba leaving Man United this summer

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One way or another, Paul Pogba‘s name has wound up attached to transfer rumors during every transfer window since he returned to Manchester United in August 2016.

[ VIDEO: Eden Hazard slices through West Ham for stunning goal ]  

Despite the fact the Frenchman is once again linked with a move to Real Madrid this summer, Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he “cannot see (Pogba) not playing for Manchester United next season.” Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League quarterfinal clash with Barcelona, Solskjaer also said Pogba “can run a game like this” when he is at his very best.

It’s a good thing he can, because United will almost certainly need a superstar performance from Pogba to have any hope of knocking off Lionel Messi and Co.

[ MORE: Sarri says Hazard irreplaceable to Chelsea amid Madrid speculation ]

Madrid will likely be linked with every player who commands a transfer fee of over $100 million, so it’s probably wise to take each rumor with a grain of salt.

Given the change in culture — not to mention the individual performances and team results — at United since Solskjaer took over in December, it’s difficult to see Pogba choosing this summer as the time to leave. He endured and survived a nightmare spell under Jose Mourinho, only to come out the other side with a manager who finally believes in him and gives him the tactical freedom to be the best version of himself.

Eden Hazard edging closer to Real Madrid move?

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Eden Hazard‘s Chelsea future is up in the air with just over 12 months left on his current contract.

It may not be that way for much longer though.

With Zinedine Zidane back in charge at Real Madrid, the man who was Hazard’s childhood hero seems destined to coach him for the Spanish giants.

Our partners Sky Sports have more details on Real’s growing belief that Hazard, 28, will step out at the Bernabeu from this summer and beyond.

“Real Madrid are increasingly confident of signing Eden Hazard this summer, Sky Sports News understands. However, Chelsea are holding out for £100m despite Hazard having just over a year left on his contract. The situation is made complicated by Chelsea’s two-window transfer ban, which will come into effect this summer, with the Blues’ appeal to be heard on Thursday.”

Sky Sports go on to state that Chelsea are holding out for a $130 million transfer fee for Hazard, even though he only has 12 months left on his current deal.

The Belgian star is probably worth closer to $200 million, so a price of around $75-100 million is likely what Chelsea will receive if a club signs him this summer.

Hazard has admitted in public that he is torn between staying at Chelsea, where he has been for seven years, or moving on to a club like Madrid when his current deal was up. Apart from winning the UEFA Champions League, he has won everything else with the Blues since arriving from Lille as a youngster in 2012. If he leaves this summer, few Chelsea fans will lambast Hazard who has stuck around through some tumultuous years and has always given his all for the west London club.

Even though losing Hazard would be a big blow to Chelsea’s team, especially with a transfer ban likely until July 2020, they have youngsters Callum Hudson-Odoi and the incoming Christian Pulisic lined up to replace the mercurial playmaker. Whether or not manager Maurizio Sarri will be around to coach them next season is another matter, but we all know how volatile the head coach’s position at Chelsea is…

As for Real, it is clear they need a new global superstar to lead their attack as they’ve struggled mightily without Cristiano Ronaldo this season as the likes of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Isco have been in and out of the team under their various managers.

Real will qualify for the Champions League next season, which is something Chelsea cannot say right now with real conviction, and Hazard would be linking up with his close friend Thibaut Courtois in the Spanish capital.

It is likely that Real’s move for Hazard won’t be their only big move of the summer window, as Zidane has returned for a reason and that is probably because club president Florentino Perez has told him he can lead a huge squad overhaul after their disappointing campaign.

Robben reportedly prefers MLS move to Serie A

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Arjen Robben to Major League Soccer?

Bayern Munich’s living Dutch legend, 35, is said to like the thought of an MLS move more than an offer from Inter Milan, according to Calcio Mercato.

[ MORE: Man City to FA Cup Final ]

Out-of-contract this summer, Robben has not returned to Bayern’s side after thigh and calf injuries short-circuited a decent season (especially relative to his age).

Robben scored five goals and added two assists in all competitions, including a brace against Benfica in the UEFA Champions League.

He has 143 goals and 101 assists in 305 matches for Bayern in a career which includes Bundesliga, Premier League, La Liga, and Eredivisie titles between the Bavarian side, Chelsea, Real Madrid, and PSV Eindhoven.

Where could he fit, presumably as a Designated Player? Chicago could theoretically buy down Aleksandar Katai, who makes $1.3 million, with allocation money to reunite Robben and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Or maybe Robben wouldn’t need a DP deal, somewhat like Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s start in MLS?

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…