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Erik Ten Hag favourites emerge as core Man United group learn they’re safe from axe – for now

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Erik Ten Hag reportedly believes that his new Manchester United squad should be doing much better and he has identified his early favourites.

The Red Devils looked to be turning a corner under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season. He guided his old side to a second-placed finish in the Premier League. However, things have gone backwards this season.

United are scrapping for a top-four finish again, with Ralf Rangnick in charge.

The German has struggled to truly stamp his mark on the team knowing he is only the interim coach. Nevertheless, Ajax boss Ten Hag – soon to be the new permanent boss – is relishing getting stuck in.

See also  Man United warned 'nothing is easy' in center-back transfer negotiations but have hope

The Dutchman will arrive as a host of players pack their bags for leaving. Indeed, six stars including Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard are out of contract.

However, reports have claimed that Ten Hag could cull six more including Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Marcus Rashford.

See also  Erik ten Hag told to replace Manchester United star and make another four signings

According to the latest from The Guardian, though, Rashford is in the core group that Ten Hag wants to keep.

The incoming manager believes Rashford is entering his peak years alongside Scott McTominay.

Behind the pair, Jadon Sancho is ‘on an upward trajectory’ in Ten Hag’s eyes and must stay. Furthermore, the new boss wants to keep academy stars such as Hannibal Mejbri, James Garner and Alejandro Garnacho.

See also  Ole Gunnar Solskjaer risking Man United sack because of two players

As for the older players in the squad, Bruno Fernandes and Raphael Varane are reportedly definitely staying under Ten Hag.

The 52-year-old believes the duo are in the ‘pinnacle’ of their careers and will play a vital role.

Finally, Donny van de Beek will get a chance to save his Man United career under Ten Hag. The midfielder was one of the star men at Ajax under his fellow Dutchman until United snapped him up in 2020.

Chelsea

Tuchel hands 22-year-old his first Chelsea start – predicted starting XI against Leeds this weekend

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Chelsea will look to get back to winning ways in Sunday’s game against Leeds United at Elland Road.

The Blues dominated proceedings in the London derby against Spurs last week, however only came out of things with a point following Harry Kane’s late equaliser.

Thomas Tuchel operated a fluid and unique system at Stamford Bridge, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount especially thriving in the new look system.

However, the Blues could turn back to the recognised back three this weekend, with our predicted lineup for the game against Leeds.

GK and Defence

Edouard Mendy made a brilliant save just before Spurs’ late equaliser at the end, and his position in the squad is more than secure for this one.

See also  Man United 'very close’ to long-term target transfer breakthrough as saga nears end

With there still being no breakthrough on the Wesley Fofana front, Cesar Azpilicueta will return to the starting lineup as captain at Elland Road.

Fixtures are yet to pick up in the early stages of the season, so Thiago Silva should still be fresh and okay to participate again.

The centre-backs will be completed by Kalidou Koulibaly, who showed his quality again in an emphatic display against Spurs.

Midfield

Reece James scored almost instantly after being moved back to wing-back on Sunday, and the Blues will look to get the attacking best out of him on Sunday.

See also  Manchester United icon Sir Alex Ferguson nearly made Cristiano Ronaldo cry

Jorginho may have been at fault for the first conceded goal last week, although his great performance will still see him start again against Leeds.

Injuries have ruled N’golo Kante and likely Mateo Kovacic out of the game, there is a big choice to be made to partner the Italy internatonal. While Ruben Loftus-Cheek starred against Spurs, Conor Gallagher will be chosen to partner in midfield, being handed his first start for the club.

Marc Cucurella will look to build on his impressive performance last week with another start against Leeds, with Ben Chilwell still not quite at match fitness.

See also  Man United warned 'nothing is easy' in center-back transfer negotiations but have hope

Attack

The Chelsea attack will have a familiar look to the last two weeks, with Mason Mount occupying the free-roaming role in the attack against an opponent he has had a lot of success against before.

Raheem Sterling will try again in his quest to open his Chelsea league account, with him missing a glorious chance last week.

Kai Havertz is another man who missed a great opportunity to win the game for the Blues at the weekend, although his work in the front three was enough to see him start again.

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Football

Atletico Madrid do not want to pay €40 million for Barcelona attacker

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Atletico Madrid are in a precarious situation in regards to their ownership of Antoine Griezmann.

The Spanish giants had signed the Barcelona forward on a two-year loan deal last summer. The contract included a mandatory purchase option worth €40 million if the player features in 50% of the matches with a minimum of 45 minutes between the games across two seasons.

Last season, Griezmann featured in 82.5% of the matches, meaning Atletico Madrid may have to virtually leave him out on the bench throughout the 2022/23 campaign if they are to avoid paying the fee for the Frenchman in 2023.

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However, with Luis Suarez leaving the club, Atletico Madrid consider Griezmann a viable part of the club’s attacking unit and Los Colchoneros must get the best out of him, if they are to regain their lost status in the title race in this new season.

At the same time, the club are not too keen on meeting the mandatory €40 million purchase clause set on Griezmann’s contract. This has been reported by Mundo Deportivo which suggests the club are looking to reduce the overall valuation of the clause.

While Barcelona are yet to respond to Atletico’s overtures, there is a clear indication that the capital club have no intention to pay anywhere near the €40 million for the services of Griezmann, who was barely even a starter for Diego Simeone’s men last season

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The Frenchman was even left out on the bench in Atletico’s opening game against Getafe. However, coming on as a substitute in the final half an hour, the attacker was able to break his scoring duck by netting the third goal in a 3-0 victory.

See also  Erik ten Hag told to replace Manchester United star and make another four signings

It will be interesting to see whether the little cameo compels Simeone to start him in future matches, although his performances should not deter Atletico Madrid from their attempts to lower the price tag of the star striker.

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Chelsea

Barcelona star’s move to Chelsea is now ‘heating up’ – report

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be close to securing a move to Chelsea from FC Barcelona, with the move now heating up, reports Victor Navarro on COPE.

Aubameyang joined Barça only eight months ago, arriving as a free agent from Arsenal in January. He helped the Catalans finish second in La Liga last season and finished the campaign as the club’s joint top scorer in all competitions along with Memphis Depay

And, Barcelona could now lose both their top scorers this summer. Depay is closing in on a move to Juventus, having reportedly agreed a two-year contract with the Italian giants.

See also  Manchester United icon Sir Alex Ferguson nearly made Cristiano Ronaldo cry

And now Aubameyang could be on his way to Chelsea imminently, with the move ‘heating up’ recently. The Blues have made the 33-year-old Gabonese striker their top target after losing both Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel enjoyed a successful relationship with Aubameyang during their time at Borussia Dortmund and is now pushing for a reunion.

Reports earlier on Thursday indicated that Chelsea were planning to submit a formal offer for the former Arsenal captain imminently.

See also  Ole Gunnar Solksjaer confirms £250k-per-week star won't face West Ham on Saturday

Now, Victor Navarro is claiming that the two clubs are negotiating over the transfer of the 33-year-old, with all parties intent on getting the move over the line.

Barcelona need to get rid of players so that they can register Jules Kounde and make more additions, with a new right-back and left-back on the club’s agenda.

The departure of Depay alone will not be enough to register Kounde. And with Frenkie de Jong unwilling to leave and no offers arriving for Sergino Dest yet, Aubameyang’s exit seems the best option for Barça.

See also  Man United 'very close’ to long-term target transfer breakthrough as saga nears end

The ex-Arsenal superstar has fallen down the pecking order at Camp Nou this season following the arrival of Robert Lewandowski. A move to Stamford Bridge could see him become the first-choice striker and enjoy regular game-time.

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