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Manchester United discovered second Paul Pogba at Old Trafford

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Back in 2016, Manchester United spent big on signing Paul Pogba from Juventus.

Jose Mourinho was convinced the midfielder would be the solution to the club’s woes, adamant the France international was the midfield general he needed.

Alas, things haven’t worked out so far. And Harry Maguire is now starting to resemble a similar signing to his current team-mate.

Pogba was one of the best players on the pitch as United were held to Burnley on Tuesday night.

The France international put in a solid showing in the middle of the park and scored, too, finding the net after good work from Luke Shaw, Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes in the build-up.

While Pogba has been good when called upon for United this season, however, he’s still been a flop since arriving from Juventus nearly six years ago.

For every moment of brilliance, an error. For every neat pass, a sloppy one. For every surge upfield, a hesitancy when it comes to tracking back.

Pogba will be gone at the end of the campaign, with United resigned to losing the 28-year-old for a second time.

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And there are some who would love to see club captain Maguire follow him out the door.

Like with Pogba, United spent big on the England international – shelling out £80million to prise him away from Leicester in 2019.

Only Pogba has cost more in the club’s entire history, with the 2018 World Cup winner costing £89m upon returning from Juventus in 2016.

And, like his French team-mate, Maguire has never been able to achieve consistency in his game. So far, at least.

With Victor Lindelof still recovering from illness, and Eric Bailly sidelined through injury, United had no choice but to start Maguire alongside Raphael Varane against Burnley on Tuesday.

However, it was a gamble that backfired spectacularly at Turf Moor.

Maguire, whose confidence has appeared shot for a while now, struggled amid the heat of the battle.

His defending was poor for Jay Rodriguez’s equalising goal, with the skipper putting in a half-hearted attempt at a tackle.

It came just days after he’d allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to do the motivating before United’s penalty shootout defeat to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup.

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And Maguire has attracted criticism for his performance in Lancashire, with Rio Ferdinand and Alan Shearer both unhappy.

Ferdinand told BT Sport: “This comes from Man United attacking.

“Two or three of them lying down, playing forward and running forward. It’s about feet, that bit of skill is beautiful, can it be prevented?

“There’s McTominay, he’s your protection, all he’s got to do, Maguire, is keep pushing him away, he hasn’t got to overcommit, as soon as he over commits, it’s a great piece of skill, this pass is sublime, if Kevin de Bruyne does that [Weghorst pass] we’ll all be going crazy.”

He continued: “This touch across Maguire takes him completely out of it. I don’t think Maguire is quick enough to have got there to affect that situation once it got beyond him.

“It’s about stopping it at the source, once he has the big number nine, keep him facing [away from] the goal, he’s got the security of McTominay in front of him, he can deal with him a little bit, these are small mistakes leading to big moments.”

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Shearer, too, ripped into Maguire.

“From Manchester United’s point of view, I mean Maguire and McTominay?” he told Premier League Productions.

“The lack of effort and the lack of a tackle from Maguire and McTominay was embarrassing in that midfield.

“It was far too easy and that’s how Burnley scored.”

Maguire arrived with a huge reputation and for huge money.

But, like Pogba, he’s been unable to prevent United enduring a torrid malaise.

The progress they once seemed to be making under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been undone. Maguire is a weak link and, so it seems, a questionable captain.

United need their players to lead by example but, with such an error-prone centre-back as their leader, what hope do they have?

Pogba hasn’t been worth the money and neither has Maguire. United fans would likely rather want the defender to leave instead but, given his huge price tag and role with the club, that’s unlikely to happen.

Now, the onus is on the former Leicester and Hull star to get back to the player that made him worth £80m in the first place.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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