Victor Lindelof

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VAR allows Man Utd goal, overturns Mane as Liverpool trails at half

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Marcus Rashford has put Manchester United ahead at Liverpool, and the Reds are furious that VAR didn’t reverse the marker.

The English striker was on the business end of a Daniel James cross, which came two moves after Victor Lindelof kicked Divock Origi as the Belgian lost possession with a sloppy touch.

[ MORE: WATCH 2nd HALF LIVE ]

Scott McTominay picked up the ball and sent James down the right flank. Virgil Van Dijk played off the crosser, and Joel Matip couldn’t clear the effort and it reached Rashford who beat Alisson Becker.

Origi was certainly caught by Lindelof, and no one would’ve blinked had Martin Atkinson ruled it a foul, so perhaps the poor touch is what cost the Belgian his whistle?

VAR again worked against Liverpool minutes later when a long ball over the top glanced off Sadio Mane’s hand before the Senegalese scored a goal. It had a little impact on the play, but the rules are the rules when they are bad ones.

Either way, the Red Devils relish the chance to deny Liverpool its chance at history. The visitors are one win from matching PL records for consecutive wins and away wins.

Lindelof wanted by Barcelona this summer, says agent

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Victor Lindelof has developed a solid partnership with Harry Maguire at Manchester United this season, putting together one fo the better defensive records in the Premier League thus far.

It could have been much different had the transfer market had its way this summer.

According to Lindelof’s agent, the 25-year-old was wanted by Barcelona, among other clubs, but Manchester United was not open to any transfers.

“There was a lot of interest from clubs that are even better [than United] at the moment,” Lindelof’s agent Hasan Cetinkaya told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. “When Matthijs de Ligt chose Juventus, Victor was pronounced Barcelona’s first choice.”

As much as Lindelof or his agent wanted the move, there was no chance a move would take place thanks to Manchester United transfer chief Ed Woodward. “His way of playing, his DNA, is very close to Barcelona’s way of playing. He is one of the world’s best centre-backs with the ball at his feet, and Barcelona wanted him. That’s how it was. I can talk about that now. They contacted Ed Woodward on numerous occasions with concrete offers. I had a meeting with their transfer manager, Matt Judge, to try to make a transition. But they just said: ‘There is no chance. Victor is one of our best players’.”

That led to a new five-year deal at Manchester United, hoping to ward off any outside interest that could eventually turn his head despite three years left on his contract. With his future secure, the agent was comfortable discussing past possibilities.

It’s no surprise that Barcelona was interested. They lost out on Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus, and their current situation is dicey. Samuel Umtiti has struggled with injuries the past few years and is out with a foot problem for at least another month, while Clement Lenglet has seen spotty performances, sent off over the weekend against Getafe. That has pushed 19-year-old Jean-Claire Tobito into action, digging deep into the squad depth.

Victor Lindelof signs new five-year contract at Manchester United

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Manchester United has signed Victor Lindelof to a new five-year contract that runs through the summer of 2024, with the option for a further year, Manchester United confirmed on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old Swedish international has been a rock at the back for the Red Devils since joining in the summer of 2017. He started just 17 matches in his first season with the club as Jose Mourinho integrated the then- but earning a consistent starting spot the following campaign and making 30 starts in 2018. Lindelof has started and played the full 90 minutes in each of Manchester United’s first five matches this season with two clean sheets, partnering well with new arrival Harry Maguire.

[ MORE: Premier League underrated XI ]

As reported by David McDonnell of The Mirror back in August, Lindelof’s deal is worth around $187,000 per week, about double what he was making previously. His old deal was set to expire in two seasons, leaving this extension in line with common timing for a player in his prime to sign a new contract.

“Since the day I arrived at United it has felt like home,” Lindelof said in the official announcement. “I have grown significantly both as a player and as a person in the last two years and for that I am grateful to everyone at the club for their help and support. I love playing football and my aim now is to help the team to win trophies and repay the fans for their unrivaled support.”

Lindelof arrived at Old Trafford from Benfica for $39 million, one of three big money center-backs that Manchester United has purchased in the last four years alongside Eric Bailly and Maguire. With Chris Smalling departing for Roma, Bailly going down injured, and the lack of consistent form from Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones, Lindelof has emerged as one of United’s most consistent defensive presences.

The defender’s extension comes just two days after the signing of goalkeeper David de Gea to a long-term contract of his own.

Man Utd’s Maguire ‘showed what a man he is’ vs. Leicester

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Manchester United is still working to find its form as a team, but center back Harry Maguire continued his run of fine performances when the Red Devils beat his former team on Saturday.

United beat Leicester City 1-0 on the day, a Marcus Rashford penalty the difference, but Maguire and fellow new back Aaron Wan-Bissaka were again exceptional.

[ RECAP: Man Utd 1-0 Leicester City ]

Ashley Young has been through a few iterations of Manchester United, and the long-time club offered up lofty words to credit Maguire’s contributions to the team.

“Again he showed today what a man he is,” Young said. “You know, I think the manager’s said about him, he talks non-stop, he’s a real leader and he can play as well.”

Maguire won five aerial battles and two tackles while completing 83 percent of his passes and managing two shots against his former side (WhoScored). On the season, only Anthony Martial has consistently been more important to the team.

He also did not record a loss of possession, and seemingly was unbothered by plenty of criticism from the traveling fans. From The Manchester Evening News:

“I don’t think it bothers (Maguire) whatsoever,” said Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. “You’ve got to be that way and when you play, when you coach, when you manage, we don’t get carried away when we win a game that we maybe didn’t deserve to win, but we don’t get in the dumps when we don’t win.”

Solskjaer also loved Maguire and Victor Lindelof for their performance against pesky Leicester star Jamie Vardy.

“I’ve got loads of admiration for Vardy,” Solskjaer said. “I think he’s my type of centre forward, runs in in behind, harasses and you’ve got to be spot on with the decision-making, when to stay up, when to drop off, and both of them proved their worth today. There were a couple of races and Harry did well.”

Maguire didn’t love being on the other side of Vardy, either.

“It was tough playing against Jamie,” he said. “I’ve played with him for two years and he is a top player who can terrorize defenses when he is on his game. … We knew it was important to get the win, especially after the international break. We have to build on a solid base and we want to keep clean sheets, especially at Old Trafford. We are always going to score goals with the attacking talent we have.”

United hosts Kazakhstan’s Astana on Thursday in the Europa League before visiting West Ham United on Sept. 22.

One area where Mourinho was right: Man Utd badly needs center backs

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Big Manchester United wins and losses, especially post-Alex Ferguson, have a tendency to get overstated at both ends of the spectrum, but there’s plenty to take away from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s recent struggles at the helm of the Red Devils.

[ MORE: Recap | Solskjaer reacts ]

For one thing: Jose Mourinho wasn’t right about much this Manchester United season, but he knew he needed better men in the back.

Everton’s beautiful opener in the first half of Sunday’s 4-0 pummeling of the Red Devils may tempt some to wash over the defending, but heading below the surface shows more problems.

The opener saw Richarlison score a terrific overhead kick after Dominic Calvert-Lewin flick a Lucas Digne throw-in to the back post. Beautiful, for sure, but Smalling never gets up to thwart Calvert-Lewin’s powerful jump.

Now that’s certainly just one example, but United’s slide is a feature of a few things.

Nineteen goals conceded in 17 PL matches is a clear upgrade from the 29 in 17 under Mourinho, and let’s not pretend United hasn’t been better with Solskjaer at the proverbial wheel.

Throw in a very average season from David De Gea — which in his case is far below standards — and it’s not a surprise that United is flailing away from the Top Four. The Alexis Sanchez move has been poor, Romelu Lukaku‘s form has dipped save back-to-back braces against a pair of unremarkable defenses, and Paul Pogba remains mercurial. He’s a monster of the midfield at his best, and a drifting object in the wind at his worst.

There’s a comparison to made with where Liverpool was under Brendan Rodgers somewhere, a legendary club not quite sure of how to fit its standard to its standing. Marcus Rashford needs room to grow, not constant comparison to Romelu Lukaku. There are a lot of extra pieces in the squad, the guys you like as a luxury for a great team but are either too old or too green to be reliable.

Of center backs to play in 10 or more Premier League matches this season, Phil Jones ranks 16th, Chris Smalling is 38th, and Victor Lindelof is 44th. Only 57 are ranked. Advanced stats aren’t foolproof, but they help (Jones and little-used Eric Bailly, for what it’s worth, were well-rated last season).

The club needs a big rebuild, to be sure. De Gea is a suitable goalkeeper for a team with top end ambitions, and we know that Lukaku and Pogba at their best can dominate (whether either is capable of doing it consistently under anyone is a debate).

But really, perhaps De Gea’s amazing 2017-18 and Mourinho’s defense-first system papered over something that’s been evident for some time. There’s neither a Aymeric Laporte or Toby Alderweireld at United, let alone a Virgil Van Dijk.