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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.

PHOTOS: France’s World Cup winners get glitzy rings

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The 2018 World Cup winners have a very special ring to commemorate their achievement.

Paul Pogba is the man they have to thank, as he paid for them.

France’s World Cup heroes have already received the customary winners medal after winning it all in Russia last summer, but now in true U.S. sports fashion they have been handed diamond-encrusted, customized rings to remember their success with Pogba and Antoine Griezmann designing the rings and Pogba then bought them for this teammates.

“It’s a small gesture after winning a World Cup with great players,” Pogba said. “I consider them my family. It’s a small gift from me.”

Take a look at the photos and video below to see the incredible rings.


Marcus Rashford struggling with injury

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Marcus Rashford will not play for England during this international break.

The Manchester United striker, 21, has suffered an ankle injury and has been training away from the team as the Three Lions prepare to open up their EURO 2020 qualifying campaign against the Czech Republic.

Rashford has been in fine form for United since caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge in December, but he will not be risked by England boss Gareth Southgate.

The Three Lions manager confirmed to the media on Thursday that Rashford would be sent back to United as he was not fit enough to play in either of the qualifiers over the next few days.

United’s homegrown star injured his ankle in the 0-0 draw against Liverpool at Old Trafford on Feb. 24 and was forced to play on after United suffered injuries galore in the first half and couldn’t sub him off. He has been nursing the ankle injury ever since. That could explain a little dip in form in recent weeks as Rashford has scored just once from open play in his past six games for United.

Solskjaer and everyone at United would not want England to take a risk with Rashford, and Southgate hasn’t done that as he has a wealth of attacking options he has at his disposal.

Harry Kane is expected to lead the line for England, with Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Jadon Sancho supporting him. Callum Wilson is another forward option for Southgate, and Callum Hudson-Odoi could also be involved, so although Rashford is a hugely important player for England there is no need to take a risk on his fitness. The decision to release Rashford is a good one by Southgate.

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:Β How will USMNT line up v. Ecuador?Β ]

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. TheΒ 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.