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Manchester United could discover their next permanent manager this weekend

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When you’re a club as enormous as Manchester United, every decision you make will polarise the fanbase, such is the broad depth of opinions held by their following.

Right now, that is no more apparent than in regards to the search for a new permanent manager, a decision which could well shape the next decade at Old Trafford.

A whole host of names are being linked with the role at the end of the season, though it is Erik ten Hag and Mauricio Pochettino who are the two current frontrunners for the position.

There does not seem to be a unanimous favourite among fans, and no matter who United do pick, a large section of social media supporters will be quick to voice their displeasure if the candidate they are backing is eventually overlooked.

The only thing supporters seem to agree on is that change is needed at the end of the season, though interim manager Ralf Rangnick might well harbour his own intentions of keeping his current job on a permanent basis.

Things have hardly been spectacular since the German arrived to steer the ship through very choppy waters, but by the end of the month, fans might well be hoping he gets more consideration for the role.

Rangnick could hardly have picked an easier set of matches to get to grips with life at United, yet despite the favourable opposition, the team has consistently struggled to assert their dominance. This weekend’s game against Man City will be the toughest test of his tenure so far, and arguably the defining result of his reign.

While things have been rather slow under the German, United have at least shown some signs of steady progress. They are unbeaten in eight Premier League games, the longest current run without defeat in the competition (W4 D4) and they’ve opened the scoring in seven of these eight games, with the other finishing 0-0.

There is still plenty of room for improvement, but unlike under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, there is noticeably more control in matches now and a clearer idea of what United are actually trying to accomplish.

With better finishing, United could already have a firm grip on fourth-place in the Premier League; it is important to note that Rangnick is not necessarily to blame for their profligacy in the final third.

Since Rangnick took charge, no team has created more chances in the Premier League than United’s 160 — though four teams have scored more goals than they have in this period. United’s wastefulness might be alarming, but there is at least some mitigation in the fact that they have been without the suspended Mason Greenwood and the injured Edinson Cavani for much of this run, severely diminishing the options available in attack.

The last time United faced City, they were embarrassed at Old Trafford in one of the final games of Solskjaer’s reign, as Pep Guardiola’s side played as if it were merely a weekend team-building exercise rather than a proper day of work.

An improved performance on Sunday is essential, and if they manage to go toe-to-toe with their noisy neighbours, then Rangnick’s stock will only increase.

For all the steady improvement under the caretaker manager, there has always been the huge caveat of the quality of their opposition. This weekend, they face the toughest test available.

As the fanbase continues to argue the cases for and against Ten Hag and Pochettino, Rangnick could be about to reveal his strongest evidence yet.

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Barcelona youngster in line to bench Jordi Alba for Real Sociedad clash – report

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As Barcelona drew 0-0 against Rayo Vallecano for the season opener, Jordi Alba was among the five to be substituted off to make way for offensive depth. The Spaniard is usually among the brightest offensive outlets in the team, but failed to make an impact last week.

Alba also looked out of his depth during pre-season, and it was reported that people within Barcelona were surprised that he started over Alejandro Balde.

The 18-year-old was impressive during the run-up to the league opener, and was expected to take Alba’s place in the lineup.

While that did not happen vs Rayo, Javi Miguel reports that he is in line to start against Real Sociedad as the left-back. Xavi has informed Balde about his decision, and has told him to train with high intensity leading up to the game.

Balde has been linked with an exit from Barcelona, especially given Marcos Alonso’s imminent arrival. However, an impressive performance at Anoeta could open the doors for his continuity.

The Chelsea defender has reportedly completed his move to Barcelona, subject to registrations and signatures. The club plan to announce it in the coming days if they are able to register Jules Kounde in time for the game.

Balde played in every single one of Barça’s pre-season fixtures, even registering an assist — to Raphinha —, against Inter Miami.

Barcelona fans will hope the gamble pays dues, especially because it will likely not go down well with Alba, who is one of the team captains

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Barcelona yet to receive any offers for exit-bound right back, price tag sits at €20m

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Barcelona are said to be pushing Sergino Dest towards an exit, but a recent report from journalist Adria Albets has confirmed that the player does not have any offer at the moment.

Regardless of what has been said in the past, neither have Manchester United tabled any formal offer for the right-back, nor have they made contacts with the 21-year-old’s representative.

For the moment, Barcelona are clear pretty clear about offloading Dest but in order to fulfil the operation, they are demanding in excess of €20 million.

For that particular reason, his agents are finding it hard to find a suitor as no club is willing to match the valuation for a player who is already fallen down the pecking order.

Xavi has so far preferred to use make-shift centre-back, Ronald Araujo, as a full-back. And while the Uruguayan has done well at times, it’s pretty clear that the team is looking to bring in a full-time right-back this summer.

For that, several players such as Hector Bellerin, Juan Foyth, Diogo Dalot, Thomas Meunier and Jeremie Frimpong have been considered, but there remain several complications in carrying out the operation

To begin with, Villarreal’s valuation of €42 million for Juan Foyth is proving to be a hindrance.

Barcelona are finding themselves in this situation mostly because their attempt to sign a certain Cesar Azpilicueta failed.

Meanwhile, as far as Dest is concerned, he knows in order to get regular minutes, he needs to move away from Camp Nou, but Barcelona’s asking price of €20 million is putting a stop to his desire.

Manchester United were thought to be weighing up a fresh move worth €20 million for the defender, but the Premier League side is yet to make any formal move. Hence, the Dutch-born American defender continues to train within the Barcelona ranks for the time being.

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Report: Chelsea prepared to listen to offers for their ‘huge talent’, will demand nearly £60m

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Report: Chelsea prepared to listen to offers for their ‘huge talent’, will demand nearly £60m

Chelsea would reportedly prefer to sell Christian Pulisic rather than loan him out this summer.

According to The Sun, Manchester United are interested in signing the 23-year-old Blues attacker on loan

is understood that Chelsea would rather offload the American on a permanent basis, though.

The report says they’ll listen to offers for Pulisic during the next couple of weeks, but want to recuperate the full £58million they paid for him a few years ago.

With Chelsea demanding nearly £60million for the forward, will any club step forward with a bid?

Chelsea prefer to sell Pulisic

It makes little sense doing Man United a favour by sending them Pulisic on loan, so you can fully understand why a permanent transfer would make much more sense.

Described as a “huge talent” earlier this year by Gary Neville, Pulisic is a player that frustrates supporters at Stamford Bridge.

The winger can produce moments of brilliance in the final third, but there’s no major consistency in his game.

He finished last season with eight goals and five assists in 38 matches across all competitions, which wasn’t a bad return considering he missed a couple of months with an ankle problem

However, the United States international can’t seem to become a real favourite under Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel.

His 2019/20 campaign is proof of what a talented player he can be.

The forward had 21 direct goal contributions in 34 Blues appearances, but it was a familiar case of injuries interrupting him whenever he builds up some momentum.

It would be quite a surprise if a clubs willing to fork out a near-£60million sum for him.

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