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Man United board revert to old tactic as Zinedine Zidane set to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was involved in a game of bingo that centred purely on managerial sackings, Manchester United’s 4-1 defeat at Watford contained enough cliches for him to land the jackpot.

A humiliating loss at the hands of a mid-table side? Check.

The club captain sent off in the most irresponsible fashion? Check.

Most popular player on the team becoming embroiled in a row with supporters in the away end? Check and check.

The only square that remained unchecked on Solskjaer’s bingo card was the sacking itself. But after holding emergency talks on Saturday night, the Manchester United board decided to wield the axe.

The Norwegian made his plea to stay in the job and fight for another day after apologising to the supporters for their display, insisting he could turn things around.

But the damage had been done. His 35-month reign had been brought to an end and disappointingly for him, without yielding a trophy.

Man United were taken apart by Claudio Ranieri’s Watford, a team languishing in the bottom half of the Premier League table who hadn’t won at home since the opening day of the season.

They were also thrashed 5-0 by Liverpool in their own home in Ranieri’s first game — and that is a feeling Solskjaer can relate to after being beaten by the same scoreline.

The difference between the two bosses is that Ranieri’s side have made gradual progress over that time, picking up some decent results since the Italian’s arrival.

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Few could argue Solskjaer’s United have done the same since their Old Trafford mauling; their tally of four points since September 25 is the lowest of any club in the Premier League.

The 48-year-old had been afforded the patience and loyalty his predecessors — and other managers at big clubs — haven’t. After this disastrous display, Man United had to make the ruthless but right decision.

It must be said that under Solskjaer, United have made some progress, going from fifth to second in the space of two seasons. But the lack of silverware in their trophy cabinet is damning and for a club of United’s size simply intolerable.

Of course, there may be a lack of general managerial options available after Antonio Conte was snapped up by Tottenham and Mauricio Pochettino, linked with the Old Trafford post for a long time, is now at Paris Saint-Germain.

Man United are serious about bringing success back to the club, highlighted by their £120m investment over the summer. Now they have ejected Solskjaer from the managerial hot seat, they could do a lot worse than turning to the unattached Zinedine Zidane.

The Frenchman has been out of work since stepping down from his post at Real Madrid, where he won the Champions League in three consecutive seasons between 2016 and 2018 and La Liga twice across two spells.

Unlike Solskjaer, Zidane has pedigree in managing clubs at the high level and his track record suggests he could be the man to turn United’s underachieving squad into title contenders.

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According to The Times, the club’s owners, the Glazers, have made contact with officials telling them to increase their offer in order to land former Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.

Reports have suggested the Frenchman is reluctant to take over midway through the season, but there is understood to be optimism that the two parties can agree terms.

If Zidane were to walk into Old Trafford and replace Solskjaer, he would not need to perform a dramatic overhaul of the playing squad.

The feeling is that for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, the players are good enough to mount a challenge for the Premier League title.

Even at 36, Cristiano Ronaldo has shown he still has a skillset of the highest quality when it comes to finishing and the Portuguese may relish the opportunity to link up with his former coach.

Then there is a pool of exciting talent waiting to be unleashed with Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Jadon Sancho and Scott McTominay.

And the central defensive partnership of Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane would supposed to turn United’s leaky backline into an impenetrable wall.

His arrival could also have a positive effect on Paul Pogba’s contract negotiations, with the 28-year-old still yet to renew his deal which has only seven months left before it expires.

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It is widely accepted that United are in desperate need for a new defensive midfielder such are the struggles of Fred and Nemanja Matic in recent months.

Zidane has worked in difficult circumstances before, handling a dressing room with superstars such as Ronaldo, Isco, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos, so controlling the Red Devils’ squad should not be too difficult a task.

The French head coach is certainly not afraid to cast aside those who do not fall in line with his methods and that could be what United need in order to fire them up.

But more importantly, Zidane’s tactics and coaching methods get results, while the biggest criticism of Solskjaer is that United have had no discernible identity under his management.

There are doubts as to whether Zidane is willing to take over at Old Trafford — one factor being his wife’s apparent reluctance to move to England. If he can be convinced to take the role, United’s decision to act decisively may well have paid off.

It indicates that after nearly three years of building towards the future, the board have reverted to United’s old tactic of putting results and success above all else.

It is what prompted them to move for Louis van Gaal in 2014 and Jose Mourinho two years later. They were proven winners.

Now, with Zidane, it appears they are primed to take on the challenge once again.

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Report: Arsenal now really Keen to sign ‘Astonishing’ attacker who scored more goals than Gabriel Jesus last season

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According to But Football Club, Arsenal want to sign Bayer Leverkusen and France winger Moussa Diaby before the transfer window shuts.

The Gunners are looking for a new wide player. Raphinha was high on their wish list and Mikel Arteta tried really hard to bring him in. The Brazilian, however, joined Barcelona for £55 million (Sky Sports) instead, and Arsenal have now apparently turned their attention to Diaby.

Arsenal really keen to sign Moussa Diaby from Bayer Leverkusen

Diaby is one of the finest players in the Bundesliga.

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The 23-year-old France international scored 17 goals and provided 14 assists in all competitions, which is a truly sensational return for a wide player.

His performances have caught the eye of a number of clubs, including Arteta’s Arsenal. The report claims that Diaby ‘strongly appeals’ to the Gunners boss, who is really keen to bring in a new winger before the window shuts.

The ‘astonishing‘ winger has come out and claimed that he wants to stay at Leverkusen this season, while the German outfit are keen to retain his services too.

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However, the report claims that if an offer in the region of £59.2 million arrives, they will let him go.

Arsenal don’t intend to pay that figure, but the report claims they will try to negotiate a deal for a lower fee.

Diaby still has three years left on his contract at Leverkusen.

Diaby really is a sensational player.

31 goal involvements in a single campaign for a 23-year-old wide player is a truly sensational return.

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Even Gabriel Jesus, who is viewed as the answer to Arsenal’s goalscoring woes, didn’t score as many goals as Frenchman last season.

Arsenal’s backup winger at the moment is Nicolas Pepe. The Ivorian, on his day, is unplayable, but sadly for Arsenal supporters, those days have rarely ever occurred over the last three years.

Diaby would be a massive upgrade over Pepe, but whether Arsenal can lure him in remains to be seen.

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Report: Star ready to join Man United now wants £33.7million contract

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The latest reports in the media are anything to go by and Adrien Rabiot’s mother-agent, Veronique, is proving to be a difficult negotiator.

Last night, we covered a story (via La Gazzetta Dello Sport) claiming that the French international has demanded a three-year deal worth £25.4million to move to Old Trafford.

This morning, as per Corriere dello Sport (news image provided below), the Red Devils have agreed a fee worth 17-18 million euros with Juventus but the dilemma is that the agreement with the player is still missing.

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Ten Hag contacted Rabiot to convince him to join Man Utd which is why the midfielder became willing to negotiate personal terms.

However, Veronique now wants a four-year contract worth 40 million euros (£33.7million) for his son and the negotiations have slowed down.

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Manchester United’s midfield department is in desperate need of reinforcements and Ten Hag may end up losing out on signing Frenkie de Jong to Chelsea.

The last big signing for the central midfield was done back in 2018 when Mourinho splashed the cash to lure Fred from Shakhtar. The Red Devils must act fast to strengthen things in the center of the park.

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Rabiot is neither as creative as Pogba nor as versatile as De Jong. However, he has experience of winning big titles with PSG and Juventus and even with France. So, in all fairness, he would be an upgrade to McFred.

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Man United pushing for Pogba replacement in more ways than one

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Manchester United may be about to take on another troublesome Frenchman, having just gotten rid of one.

The departures of Paul Pogba and others this summer have left new manager Erik ten Hag with a bare cupboard in terms of midfield options.

United have turned to Juventus outcast Adrien Rabiot, who is available for £15 million, after failing to secure Frenkie de Jong, the Ten Hag’s top transfer target, from Barcelona.

Rabiot, 27, isn’t particularly popular at Juventus and hasn’t replicated the form that established his reputation during the seven years he spent at PSG before that.

But it isn’t just on-field sluggishness that has harmed the reputation of a player who was once regarded as France’s golden boy.

Off-field squabbles and indiscretions, not only by Rabiot but also by his formidable mother and agent Veronique, have earned him a reputation as a difficult customer in the game.

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However, Ten Hag and United are becoming increasingly desperate. Despite the club’s insistence that their interest in Rabiot was firm prior to Sunday’s season-opening loss to Brighton, the timing appears to be a reactionary move.

And Rabiot’s rap sheet contains numerous items that could cause United to live to regret their decision.

Rabiot was on the verge of breaking into the PSG senior squad after graduating from their academy in 2012.

Rabiot was supposed to travel to Qatar with the team for a mid-season tour, but his mother insisted on accompanying him.

Veronique, Rabiot’s uncompromising agent, enters the picture. After his father, Michel Provost, suffered a stroke in 2007 that left him with locked-in syndrome, she took over his career. Michel is paralysed but fully aware.

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Her insistence on accompanying the tour caused friction, and Rabiot was eventually loaned out to Toulouse.

Even stranger, she allegedly insisted on attending all of their training sessions while there.

Two years later, Rabiot was on the verge of leaving PSG after Laurent Blanc demoted him to the reserves.

Veronique was waiting for Blanc as he left PSG’s Camp des Loges training facility one evening.

‘You can’t treat him like that. ‘I’m not going to agree to that,’ Blanc was told, presumably forcefully.

PSG had no choice but to call in security, but the confrontation appeared to work.

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Rabiot’s contract with PSG was renewed – and on better terms – not long after he failed to secure a move to Roma.

France’s hopes of adding the European Championship to their World Cup glory last year ended when they lost on penalties to Switzerland in the last-16.

Afterwards, an extraordinary video emerged of Veronique confronting Mbappe’s father, Wilfried, after the PSG striker missed the decisive spot-kick.

It is thought she said: ‘It is embarrassing how he struck that, for a player of his level. He hit it too lightly, I hope you are going to scold him.’

Apparently during an earlier discussion, Veronique told Wilfried his son was ‘arrogant’, has a ‘big head’ and gets ‘too much protection from the press.’

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