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Report: Bayern, BVB ready to buy Keita from Liverpool

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A report claims that Liverpool is ready to admit defeat in the case of Naby Keita.

Keita, 24, was bought from RB Leipzig last season and arrived at Anfield in the summer, but has struggled to find consistent playing time under Jurgen Klopp.

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Viewed as the missing link between the Virgil Van Dijk and Liverpool’s torrential attack, Keita has not come close to replicating the form that saw his price tag reach $69 million.

Indeed, Team Talk says Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich look prepared to pay around $53 million to bring Keita back to the Bundesliga.

Keita has played 27 matches in all competitions for Liverpool, accumulating 1,388 minutes and just one assist. He had nine goals and seven assists in more than double the minutes one season ago.

According to WhoScored.com, he’s passing the ball better and taking almost a foul less than last season, but almost every other measurable has declined since he moved to England.

I’m as guilty as anyone of thinking Keita would be everything the Reds required after an improved 2017-18, but he’s either being used very poorly or having trouble adjusting to the culture.

It’s early to quit on a player so talented, but maybe Klopp and he just don’t mesh well. But if it isn’t a case of clashing with the club, it may be worth waiting out a player who looked a giant just eight months ago.

Man City seeking apology for Bayern president’s oil comments

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Manchester City will demand a public apology from Uli Hoeness for his recent comments about the Premier League club’s transfer dealings, lest the Bayern Munich president and/or his employers face legal action.

[ MORE: Jose Mourinho “preparing” for next job; expects to start “in June” ]

Hoeness, who worked with Pep Guardiola during his trophy-filled stint in Germany, recently alleged that Man City owner Sheikh Mansour pays for the club’s transfers by ramping up oil prices. The allegation didn’t come without salacious detail, either.

“My friend Pep told me what happens when he signs a player costing ($110 million). He puts some videos together and goes to see the sheikh.

“There is an opulent feast put on, during which he teaches the video to him and the money is transferred. The next day, the sheikh raises the price of oil to recoup the money.”

According to the Daily Mirror, City officials were very upset over the comments. So much so that they are considering legal action if Hoeness, a convicted tax evader, is unwilling to make a public apology and/or retraction. One source had the following to say on the matter:

“It was the remark of a smug, arrogant egotist. We are also concerned that there may be a racist element to what Hoeness has claimed.”

Report: Man United stars lined up for exit

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It appears that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer already knows the players he wants to get rid of this summer.

We know that Antonio Valencia, the club captain, will leave this summer after the club declined to offer him a one-year contract extension, but a few others may be joining the 33-year-old Ecuadorian in heading through the exit door at Old Trafford.

A report from the Daily Star claims that both Alexis Sanchez and Marcos Rojo will be sold this summer, as caretaker boss (for now) Solskjaer plans to offload the injury-prone South American duo.

Sanchez, 30, has been a big disappointment at United following his arrival from Arsenal last January, as the highest-paid player at the club has scored just once in 17 Premier League appearances this season. The Chilean star was injured in their 3-2 win against Southampton earlier this month and isn’t expect to return to fitness until mid-April at the earliest.

As for Rojo, the 29-year-old Argentine center back suffered a serious knee injury early in the season and has struggled for fitness since as he then picked up a back injury. With Chris Smalling and Phil Jones handed new contracts and United constantly linked with moves for new center backs in Toby Alderweireld and Kostas Manolas, it seems like Rojo’s five-year stay at United is almost up.

Would these exits make sense? For both the club and the player, 100 percent.

Sanchez just hasn’t looked happy at United since he arrived, as Solskjaer clearly has other players ahead of him in the pecking order. A move to PSG or maybe one of Italy’s big boys either permanently or on loan seems like the best bet for everyone, although Sanchez will be in no hurry to leave United as he still has over four years left on his huge $650,000 a week contract.

As for Rojo, the writing is on the wall for him given his poor record with injuries and United’s persistence to try and sign a new center back. He is a solid defender who can play at either center back or full back, and he did rebound well in Jose Mourinho’s first season after struggling under Louis Van Gaal. Rojo’s current contract runs until the summer of 2021 with an option to extend by a further year so, like Sanchez, he probably won’t be in a hurry to go anywhere and a loan move is probably more likely.

It remains to be seen how ruthless Solskjaer will be if and when he does take charge of United on permanent basis, but it is likely Sanchez and Rojo will not be alone in being available.

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.