Man Utd Boss Jose Mourinho Gives Up Chase for Raphael Varane and Turns to Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti

​​Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is reportedly still looking for defensive reinforcements for his squad, despite already making a number of additions to United’s defence.

£30m summer signing from Benfica, Victor Lindelof, has seemingly failed to impress Mourinho so far this this term and has played just 68 minutes in the Premier League since his move to Manchester.  

Eric Bailly, who moved to United from Villarreal in 2016, has become first choice in Mourinho’s defence. But it would seem that the manager does not see Chris Smalling nor Phil Jones as the long term partners to Bailly at the back. 

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After chasing Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane, Jose Mourinho has reportedly conceded defeat and turned his attention to Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti. The ​Mirror are reporting that the French international has become Mourinho’s number one target. 

Umtiti moved to Barcelona from Lyon in 2016, in a move reported to cost around £22m. Since then Umtiti has seamlessly moved into Barca’s first choice back four and looks set to become the successor to the ageing Gerard Pique as Barca’s leader in defence. 

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Umtiti still have four years left on his current Barcelona contract, which includes a £53m release clause. Mourinho will therefore have to pay a high price if he wants to land his target. 

Manchester United have only conceded five Premier League goals this season and have looked strong defensively. But with two league defeats in their last three games, and three goals conceded in that time, Mourinho may feel that he still needs to strengthen his defence.


7 Real Madrid Players for Fans to Look Out for During the November International Break

Real Madrid have not had the greatest start to the season so far, they are already eight points behind league leaders Barcelona in La Liga, after just 11 games. 

They also trail in their Champions League group as Tottenham have a three point advantage over second place Real, with only two games to go. So the international break may be a welcome rest stop for may fans of the club. 

Here is a  look at seven Los Blancos’ players to watch out for during the break:

7. Isco (Spain)

Costa Rica (11th November), Russia (14th November)

With five goals and four assists in 15 games for Real Madrid this season, Isco has been one of their best performers.

With Spain already qualified for the World Cup, their friendlies against Costa Rica and Russia will be a good opportunity for Isco to continue to showcase his ability as his country prepare for next summer’s tournament. 

6. Toni Kroos (Germany)

England (10th November), France (14th November) 

Germany face tough friendlies against England and France as they prepare to defend their World Cup title from their 2014 victory in Brazil. 

Kroos has had a difficult start to the season with Real Madrid, just scoring one goal and getting no assists in 15 games so far this campaign. So the midfielder will probably be hoping to put his troubles behind him on international duty for Germany. 

5. Sergio Ramos (Spain)

Costa Rica (11th November), Russia (14th November) 

Sergio Ramos has been part of a Real Madrid defence that has only kept four clean sheets in 11 matches in La Liga. 

So a change of scenery might be just what he needs as Spain aim to get ready for their bid to win a second World Cup after their 2010 victory, with friendlies against Costa Rica and Russia. 

4. Marcelo (Brazil)

Japan (10th November), England (14th November) 

Marcelo was part of the Brazil side that lost 7-1 to Germany in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. They will probably be hoping to bounce back at next summer’s finals after qualifying with ease from their group.

They face away friendlies to Japan and then England as Brazil and Marcelo look to keep sharp for Russia. 

3. Marco Asensio (Spain)

Costa Rica (11th November), Russia (14th November) 

Spain have already booked their place for next summer’s World Cup and now face preparation friendlies against Costa Rica and Russia. 

Asensio has been one of Real Madrid’s bright sparks this season, scoring seven goals in 18 games, and will hope to continue his good form for Spain. 

2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

Saudi Arabia (10th November), USA (14th November) 

Real Madrid talisman Cristiano Ronaldo is going through a bit of a rough patch right now for his club in La Liga. 

Despite him scoring six goals in the Champions League from their opening four matches, the 32-year-old’s league form has been concerning. He has featured seven times for the Spanish side this season, and scored just one goal.  

With Portugal already through to the World Cup finals, their friendlies against Saudi Arabia and the USA will give Ronaldo the opportunity to try and find his scoring boots. 

1. Luka Modric (Croatia)

Greece (9th November), Greece (12th November) 

Croatia face a key week as they will play Greece twice to decide who will qualify for the World Cup next summer in Russia during their playoff matches.

One of the Croatia’s best players is Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and they will need him to be at his best if they are to secure passage to next summer’s tournament. 


Welsh Legend Ian Rush Reveals Which Club He’d ‘Love’ to see Real Superstar Gareth Bale Join

​Ian Rush has revealed that he would ‘love’ to see compatriot Gareth Bale join Liverpool if he ever opted to leave Real Madrid.

The Wales superstar has endured a frustrating 18-month spell with a variety of niggling injuries which have put paid to his chances of building upon a superb 2015/16 campaign with the reigning La Liga champions.

That has led to Bale being linked with a return to the Premier League, and Rush told the ​Daily Mirror that his former club Liverpool should go all out to land him if the forward ever became available.

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The legendary Reds striker said: “Gareth Bale is a world class player – every club in the world would want him.

“From a Welsh point of view, I’d like him to stay, to get more European experience. That will benefit Wales.

“Any English club would want Gareth Bale. Maybe Tottenham have first offer [to bring Bale back to the Premier League]. Man United has been talked about, maybe because the goalkeeper [David De Gea] could go the other way?

“I’d love to see him at Liverpool. A world class player. We don’t know what will happen, but it would be great to see him back here [in the Premier League] and at Liverpool.”

Bale has come in for stick from Real’s fan-base due to the manner of his performances when he has been fit to feature. The 27-year-old has only netted 12 goals in his last 36 appearances for Zinedine Zidane’s men – his absence from the first-team fold coming due to hip, ankle and calf injuries.

It is the last of those that has caused consternation from Bale, with the niggling strain causing him to miss 18 matches for Real since March – including eight so far this season.

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The pacy goalscorer will miss Wales’ upcoming international friendlies against France and Panama due to the problem, but is expected to resume full training in mid-November.


Ousmane Dembele Could Be Ready in Time for Clasico as Recovery Continues to Go Better Than Expected

There was some ​excellent news for Barcelona this morning, after the doctor who operated on Ousmane Dembele, Sakari Orava, explained to a Spanish radio station that the Frenchman’s recovery is going far better than anticipated.

According to Spanish publication ​Sport, Orava told La Graderia on Cadena SER: “The recovery is going quicker than expected. He already said he wanted to come back before the planned date, but we don’t know if that will be possible,”


And the doctor has not ruled out Dembele facing rivals Real Madrid in El Clasico on December the 23rd. While it may be a tall order, given he was expected to be out for at least four months after his hamstring injury obtained against Getafe on September 16th, Orava remains optomistic.

“Could he play against Madrid? Maybe, maybe… but I can’t assure you of anything,” he added.

Dembele has been working around the clock in order to come back as soon as possible after an injury sustained in only his fourth match in Barcelona colours, and it’s hoped that this month he will be training with the ball at his feet.

“Right now he is training in the sandpits that Barça have and I think that in the middle of November he’ll be able to touch a ball again,” Orava said.

After signing from Borussia Dortmund for an eye watering £96.8m, he had just started to flourish in his new surroundings before this injury curtailed his progress.

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It’s fair to say Barcelona haven’t laboured in his absence, sitting atop of La Liga by four points after 11 games (and eight points clear of Real Madrid), but his reimergence into the side would certainly be a welcome bonus for El Clasico.


Ronaldo Makes Award Bet With Real Madrid Teammates Despite Worst Ever Start to Season

Despite being in the middle of the worst goalscoring start to a season in his entire La Liga career, Cristiano Ronaldo has apparently told his teammates that he will still outscore Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and win the Pichichi award.

That is according to Jose Ramon de la Morena, who claimed on Radio MARCA’s El Transistor programme that the current Ballon d’Or holder made the ambitious bet with his teammates that he will return to form to claim Spain’s top scorer prize at the end of the season.

Although he has netted just one league goal thus far this term, the Portuguese international is apparently showing no signs of concern over his form, and is incredibly confident that he will turn things around.

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Whilst Ronaldo is used to sprinting out of the blocks in the race for individual scoring honours, he is already 11 goals behind Messi this season and it would take either a record-breaking run of form for the Euro 2016 winner (or an even more unlikely dip from Messi) to overturn the lead.

Whilst (at least according to MARCA) not showing any sign of concern off the pitch, Ronaldo has been left visibly frustrated with his team’s efforts on the pitch.

The next league match for Real Madrid sees Ronaldo and co travel across the Spanish capital for the first ever derby to be held at the new Estadio Wanda Metropolitano.

A goal for Ronaldo in this match could put him on his way to catching Messi, and – considering he scored a hat-trick in the last Madrid derby at Atletico – it might just be the perfect opportunity to get back on track.


6 Players Who Benefitted From Leaving a Big Club Early in Search of More Playing Time

Life as a youth player has become increasingly difficult and frustrating. More often than not, youth players will either get released before they even have a sniff of first team action, or they’ll be loaned out to build their experience before signing permanently for another side.  

With so much money in the game nowadays, teams are happier to spend big on a ready-made star who will make an instant impact rather than nurture a younger talent into becoming a club legend. Some of the best names in footballing history came through their club’s youth system to be legends, Steven Gerrard, Francesco Totti, Paolo Maldini to name a few. 

But moving away from a big parent club doesn’t necessarily mean a step down. Here are six players who went in search of first team football and made it back to the top…

1. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

Arguably one of the best strikers produced by Dutch football, Huntelaar started his career at PSV under Guus Hiddink. The striker made only one appearance before being loaned out to both De Graafschap and AGOVV. 

Huntelaar decided to then move to Heerenveen, where he was offered regular first-team football. 60 games and 36 goals later, he signed for PSV’s fierce rivals Ajax for £8m. The Dutchman went on to play for Real Madrid, Milan and Schalke before moving back to Ajax last summer. 

2. Samuel Eto’o

Most football fans will remember Eto’o as a prolific striker who tore La Liga up at Barcelona with Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry. But the Cameroonian forward actually started his career at Real Madrid, although it was unsuccessful. The 36-year-old only made three first-team appearances for Los Blancos as he spent most of his time on loan during his three years at the Bernabeu. 

Following a successful loan move to Mallorca, he made the move permanent, where he continued to impress. Barcelona snapped him up four years after that, and the rest is history. Eto’o has gone on to play for Inter, Chelsea and Everton, and he currently plays for Turkish side Antalyaspor. 

3. Paul Pogba

We all know this story. Sir Alex Ferguson clearly didn’t rate Pogba enough to give him a regular chance in the first team – and when Rafael was selected over him to play in midfield, the Frenchman knew it was time to leave. 

Juventus snapped the 24-year-old up on a free transfer and transformed him into one of the best midfielders of today’s game. Pogba has since moved back to Old Trafford for a once world record fee of £89.3m, claiming he had unfinished business for the Red Devils. 

4. Nathan Ake

Nathan Ake was once part of Chelsea infamous youth system that focuses on sending as many young players as they can out on loan while signing expensive talent to make immediate impacts. 

Ake spent time on loan at Reading, Watford and Bournemouth before making his deal permanent with the latter. He was praised for being brave enough to make the switch, and following his move, he criticised the youth system in place at Chelsea, which has seen them loan out 33 players this summer. 

5. Gerard Pique

Another player to leave Manchester United in search of first team football, Gerard Pique moved on after Sir Alex Ferguson decided to pick Jonny Evans ahead of him. He also had Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic ahead of him, but Evans was the man used for rotation, so Pique packed his bags and moved to Barca. 

Following his £5m move, he has won six La Liga titles, three Champions League and numerous other trophies. It’s fair to say he made the right decision. 

6. Cesc Fabregas

After starting his youth career at Barcelona, Fabregas decided to move to arsenal in search of more first team football. The Spaniard quickly became a fan favourite at the Emirates before being made captain. He reached the Champions League final, eventually losing out to Barcelona, and also won the FA Cup in 2005. 

Much like Pogba, Fabregas decided he had unfinished business at his former club, and decided to move back to the Nou Camp in 2011. The 30-year-old has since moved to Chelsea. where he lifted his first and second Premier League titles. 


Real Madrid Boss Praises ‘Maestro’ Andrea Pirlo on Instagram After Italian Icon Announces Retirement

​Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has taken to social media to pay tribute to Italian legend Andrea Pirlo, who retired last weekend after he played his final game for MLS side New York City. 

The 38-year-old old brought down the curtain on an illustrious career, which has seen him win two Champions League titles, six Serie As and a World Cup with Italy in 2006.

Zidane took to his official Instagram page to praise the retired midfield star, uploading a picture of both players wearing the now-iconic number 21 shirt at Juventus. The former France international’s caption reads “Grazie mille maestro”, which translates in English as “Thank you very much, maestro.”


Pirlo began his club career with Italian side Brescia, where he helped his side win Serie B and win a precious promotion to Serie A. After sealing big move to San Siro giants Inter Milan, Pirlo struggled to find form in his position behind the strikers, and eventually moved on to AC Milan after loans spells with Reggina and his former side Brescia.

The charismatic Italian seemed a player reborn in his new role with Milan, and in his new role as a playmaker from deep he became renowned as one of the finest central midfielders in world football. After being part of an iconic mid-00s Milan side, Pirlo went on to star for the dominant Juventus, who dominated Serie A for a number of years with their carefully assembled squad.

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While injury problems blighted the end of his career at MLS side New York City, Pirlo still played an important role at the club, making 62 appearances and contributing one goal and 18 assists for his side. 

Pirlo will long be remembered as one of the classiest passers in the game, and fans of the tenacious midfielders will be eager to see what his plans are for retirement.


Spanish Report Says Neymar’s Father Held Talks With Real Madrid President Over Future Transfer

Neymar’s father has held discussions with Real Madrid over a potential future transfer for his son, despite joining Paris Saint-Germain in a £200m move over the summer, according to Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo.

The former Barcelona forward was strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid before making Catalonia his home, leaving Brazilian side Santos for Europe in 2013.

Despite missing out on the forward, Madrid’s president, Florentino Pérez, is tempted to bring Neymar to the Santiago Bernabéu when Los Blancos begin their search for someone to replace Cristiano Ronaldo.

Neymar’s decision to leave Barcelona this summer was understood to be, in part, about escaping Lionel Messi’s shadow. Since moving to Ligue 1, the Brazilian’s quality has been clear to see and often at times it appears the 25-year-old is too good to be playing at that level.

With Neymar eyeing success with his club and country, as well as on a personal level, a move back to Spain could be what’s needed for Neymar to go down in history as one of the greatest players of all time.

Although many would argue that Ronaldo and Messi are still a cut above anyone else, at 32 and 30 respectively, it won’t be long before a new contender for the Ballon d’Or emerges.

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However, the chances of Neymar securing the personal honour could be hindered by his decision to move to France, with Ligue 1 believed to be less of a challenge that the other four top European leagues. 

If that is the case, the Brazilian international could be swayed in moving back to Spain and join the reigning European champions.


The Magnificent Seven: the 7 Men to Win the Champions League as Player and Manager

With qualification for the knockout stages almost complete in the Champions League, many players will have their eyes on a medal and a place in football history. Not least the likes of Sergio Aguero, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gonzalo Higuain, who all have that honour missing from their trophy cabinet.

Manager Pep Guardiola on the other hand has won Europe’s most prestigious tournament as both player and manager and is just one of seven men to have lifted the cup from on the pitch and from the sidelines.

So who are the men who have achieved what so few have? We take a look at the Champions League’s magnificent seven…

Miguel Munoz

Miguel Munoz was a legend at Real Madrid both as a player and a manager, sadly passing away in 1990 aged 68.

He started life at the Bernabeu back in 1948, making 223 appearances in the heart of their midfield. He’d go on to lift three European Cups in consecutive years before retiring as a player and taking the reins as a manager.

Only a season separated his last European Cup trophy as a player and first as a manager, lifting the 1959/60 trophy with Madrid and going on to win one more, as well as nine La Liga titles, during his 14-year stint as manager.

Giovanni Trapattoni

Many of you will remember Trapattoni from his spell as Republic of Ireland boss between 2008 and 2013, but his biggest successes came as a player for AC Milan and as a boss with Juventus.

Lifting the cup in both 1963 and 1969 as a player, he was part of a squad that beat Benfica at Wembley, with Trapattoni man-marking the great Eusebio out of the game.

It was at Juventus where he’d build a team of champions however, marshalled by the great Michel Platini. His only European Cup medal as a manager would be marred however. Taking on Liverpool in 1985, Juventus would succeed 1-0, but incidents off the pitch would change football forever, with 39 people dying in the Heysel disaster.

Johan Cruyff

It can be argued that Johan Cruyff has won more than just the four European Cups as player and manager, with the Dutchman being the catalyst behind Barcelona’s meteoric rise to the top. 

His style of play transformed football, and while he was influencing the game as a player, he picked up three European Cups in the red and white of Ajax between 1970 and 1973.

By 1991/92 he was doing it again at the Nou Camp, only this time from the dugout. A master tactician, his coaching career, incredibly, matches up to his playing days and the man behind one of the most iconic pieces of skill in footballing history will go down as one of the finest of all time.

Carlo Ancelotti

Only Carlo Ancelotti stands next to Bob Paisley to have won the tournament on three occasions as a manager, but the great Liverpool boss, never lifted it as a player.

Ancelotti first picked up the European Cup as a Milan player back in 1988/89, and then again the following year in a team that also included Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit.

As a boss, his first European trophy arrived in 2002/03 with the same club, while also taking them to success once again four years later, beating Liverpool in Athens. Real Madrid came calling and the Italian lifted it again in 2013/14 making him part of an elite group of five to have won Europe’s top competition with two different clubs.

Frank Rijkaard

Like Johan Cruyff, Frank Rijkaard won his Champions League medals with both Ajax and Barcelona, with the great clubs’ style of play lending themselves well with each other.

He was part of that great Ajax side to lift the 1994/95 title under Louis van Gaal’s stewardship as Patrick Kluivert’s strike led them to victory over AC Milan in Vienna. 

Hanging his boots up following the title, he’d finally get another shot at winning the trophy as a manager in 2006 when his Barcelona side beat Arsenal 2-1 thanks to goals from Samuel Eto’o and Juliano Belletti.

Josep Guardiola

One of the most respected coaches in world football, Pep Guardiola will be desperate to join Ancelotti as a manager to have won the trophy at two different clubs having failed at Bayern Munich previously.

We all know the Spaniard lifted the trophy as both player and manager at Barcelona, his first coming during Johan Cruyff’s reign as Barca boss back in 1991/92. He was a permanent fixture in that dominant side and after a successful stint as the B Team boss was promoted to first team manager in 2008.

His first Champions League title would come in his very first season, before lifting it again in 2011. Since then, he’s been on the hunt for his third as a manager. Can he win it at Manchester City? Only time will tell.

Zinedine Zidane

It was always going to be an interesting concept, Zidane as manager. A fiery temper, resulting in a certain headbutt, it was going to be intriguing to see whether he’d make that transition.

Now Real Madrid manager, and a Champions League winner in each of his seasons in the hotseat, he’s passed the test with flying colours.

As a player, he only won the competition once, but during the 2001/02 final, Zidane provided one of the Champions League’s most memorable moments. One of the most beautifully struck volleys you’ll ever see, his 45th minute strike was enough to defeat Bayer Leverkusen and deliver the Galacticos their second Champions League trophy in three years.


Kylian Mbappe’s Uncle Reveals Why They Turned Down Real Madrid in 2013

Pierre Mbappé, the uncle of Paris Saint-Germain loanee Kylian, has revealed that the young striker held talks with Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane over a potential move to Chelsea or Real Madrid back in 2013.

Pierre also said that although the prospect of moving abroad to pursue a career in football was tempting, the decision to reject Real Madrid was actually an easy one to make.

I’m very grateful to Kylian,” Pierre told L’Equipe (via  AS). “I never imagined my 13-year-old nephew would take me to Real Madrid or Chelsea, but he did just that. From a selfish point of view, I had the huge pleasure of meeting trainers like Ancelotti and Zidane.”

Despite meeting two of the best managers in world football, the decision to stay in France to continue his development proved to be an easy one.

You can get to Madrid and start from the back of the queue. The whole world then forgets about you,” Pierre added. “I laugh when people say he chose PSG for the money.

“It’s easier to say no to Real Madrid when you don’t have to worry so much about money. That’s true, and Kylian has grown up in a comfortable environment.”

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The 18-year-old striker was voted into Ligue 1’s team of the week after his stunning performance against SCO Angers on matchday 12.

Mbappé, who is currently on loan in the French capital from AS Monaco, scored the first and last goals of PSG’s 5-0 win, with Julian Draxler notching the Parisians second of the match. A brace from Edinson Cavani helped round of the scoring and take the Uruguayan’s goal tally to 13 for the season.