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Man United have given Paul Pogba exactly what he asked for

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Manchester United fans were left pinching themselves when the summer transfer window finally came to an end last week after a frantic finale, which saw them celebrate the return of Cristiano Ronaldo on top of two already impressive acquisitions.

Such has been the hype of Ronaldo’s return that the queues for his No.7 shirt haven’t shown any signs of slowing down in recent days; it will be another bumper week at the Megastore ahead or his potential second debut this weekend.

It’s been the perfect response from a club that divided opinion by labelling last season one of ‘progress’, for a club that calls itself the best in the world it’s controversial to ever take positives when there is no fresh silverware to shine.

In the last few years, the summer months have signified uncertainty at United, this year the feeling is very much of rejuvenated belief — that a title-winning side has finally been assembled again.

United’s summer business is the clearest indicator of such rejuvenation, but perhaps the greatest success has been that Paul Pogba and outspoken agent Mino Raiola have stayed awfully quiet as he enters the final year of his current deal.

Raiola claimed last December Pogba’s United career was ‘over’ and outlined his intention to engineer a transfer in the summer window, yet such an exit was effectively scuppered in the last two summer windows due to the financial impact the global pandemic had on elite clubs.

An the European Championship this summer the French midfielder would have had the perfect opportunity to broadcast a transfer plea, instead he maintained a professional approach, which so many sources at United have referenced when discussing him.

Perhaps he knew of compatriot Raphael Varane’s impeding move to Manchester, perhaps he’d seen enough last season to convince him of another year at Old Trafford, or perhaps he is simply playing the long game and a free transfer next year.

Whatever the case, it is a clear change from Pogba’s approach two years ago when he publicly outlined a desire for a ‘new challenge’ in his career.

“There is a lot of thinking [going on],” the French midfielder stated in June 2019. “I have been three years in Manchester and have been doing great – some good moments and some bad moments, like everybody, like everywhere else.

“After this season and everything that happened, with my season being my best season… it could be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else.”

In the wake of those comments, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer optimistically stated Pogba’s new challenge could be handed to him by United, now it seems like that is case as they go in search of their first title since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.

In the two years since, United have never looked like true Premier League title challengers, but after substantial summer reinforcement there is growing belief of a title parade around Old Trafford next May.

Solskjaer’s new long-term deal is further endorsement of the faith the club have in him, while few other sides in Europe can rival United in regards to the squad depth which now they possess.

If the goal really is for Pogba to win trophies, then there are few other clubs that can offer him the same platform of doing so quite like United over the next season.

The elephant in the room is of course Pogba’s dwindling contract length, with the 28-year-old free to negotiate with European sides in the New Year, but by January he might have been convinced of the long-term reasons to stay put.

Pogba is already settled in Manchester with a young family, his ‘dream’ move to Real Madrid has been complicated by the arrival of Eduardo Camavinga and exit of idol Zinedine Zidane, once again United is looking like the place to be.

The real test is for United to now prove to Pogba exactly why he is better off staying, although after their summer business it is perhaps he who needs to earn that contract too.

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Rio Ferdinand issues major warning about Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag

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Former centre-back Rio Ferdinand believes it is still too early to judge whether Erik ten Hag is the right man to lead Manchester United back to the top, despite their unquestionable improvement under him this season.

United head into tomorrow’s Manchester derby against City at Old Trafford with the knowledge that a win will lift them to within a point and place of their neighbours in the Premier League table.

The Reds have lost just one of their last 18 matches since being battered 6-3 by City back in October, featuring a current run of eight wins on the bounce.

The Reds, such is the level of progress they have made under Ten Hag this season, are now considered as one of the favourites to qualify for the Champions League for next season.

They have made significant strides in a relatively short space of time and victories over the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur already this season have proven that they are capable of competing in the upper echelons of the table again.

However, despite heading into the second half of the campaign with form in their sails, Ferdinand insists the jury is still out on Ten Hag, despite him reaching 20 wins as United manager quick than any of his predecessors.

“I think it’s too early to say,” said Ferdinand to the Mirror. “We’ve been here with previous managers when it looks like we are onto something.

“We’ve got to be patient and give the man time. I think all the signs are very positive at the moment. He’s come in and seen what is happening, assessed how things are, looked at individuals and looked at the shape of the team.

“These were a bunch of players that were quite low. They were shot to pieces and he’s had to build, not only footballers, but men back up again. He’s had to build a lot of human beings back up and that takes time.

“The fact he’s now talking about qualifying for the Champions League so positively, he can sense a confidence coming back into this team. There’s a consistency of performance from the team that wasn’t there before and the signals and signs are all very promising.

“But they’re still not where they want to be. City are way ahead of where United are. The distance is a bit closer, but it’s still not anywhere near where we want it to be. There’s still work to be done.”

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Manchester United takeover bids ‘expected imminently’ with serious interest in Club

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Manchester United are expecting takeover offers from across the world as they are set to invite bids ahead of ‘mid-February deadline’.

The Telegraph have reported that the club have received ‘serious interest’ from consortiums based in the Middle East, Asia and the United States.

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also weighing up an offer, as the Glazers hope to the sell one of the biggest clubs in the world for over £5billion.

The report also adds that parties who had been interested in taking over Chelsea, before Todd Boehly’s £4.25bn takeover, are set to return with approaches for the Red Devils.

It’s expected that potential investors will go public with their attempts to buy United in the coming weeks with the clock ‘now ticking on a deal’.

Senior United figures will issue a mid February deadline for formal offers in order to help get get the takeover completed before the end of the season.

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Confirmed: Chelsea ready to make late bid to hijack another Arsenal transfer

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Chelsea will make a late attempt to scupper Arsenal’s hopes of finally signing Mikhailo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Gunners have submitted their third bid for the Ukraine international winger and hope an offer of £62m before add-ons, which take the deal closer to £70m, will be enough to break the deadlock between the two clubs.

Chelsea’s interest in the 21-year-old winger was earlier this week described only as ‘exploratory’ but ESPN now claim that Todd Boehly will test the waters and attempt to throw a spanner in the works for the Premier League leaders.

Shakhtar’s technical director Darijo Srna was pictured at Stamford Bridge last week as he watched Chelsea’s defeat against Manchester City and Boehly would have little issue with meeting an asking price which is closer to £88million.

Arsenal are said to be confident that their latest bid for Mudryk will be enough to finally secure the services of their No.1 January target, but have already been beaten to the punch once this month by their west London rivals.

Chelsea won the race to sign Joao Felix on loan from Atletico Madrid amid competition from Arsenal and Manchester United, but the Portugal international’s promising debut ended in devastating fashion when he was sent off just shy of the hour mark for a dangerous challenge on Fulham’s Kenny Tete.

Felix will now miss the next three games through suspension as the problems mount for Chelsea’s under-fire manager Graham Potter.

‘It sums up where we are at the moment – everything that can go wrong, is going wrong,’ Potter said after Chelsea’s 2-1 west London derby defeat.

‘It was a forward’s tackle from Joao, there was no malice in it but I understand why it was a red. It is another blow the hits keep coming at the moment.

‘He was really good you could see his quality in the game so it is doubly disappointing for us because he was looking dangerous throughout.

‘I don’t think there was too much malice in it and it is an unfortunate action and we are going to lose him now for three games.’

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