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Manchester United fans make their midfield solution clear during Brighton win

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Paul Pogba came on to make an impact for United against BrightonManchester United’s players might have been looking to the technical area for solutions to their poor first-half performance against Brighton, but 25 yards down the touchline Paul Pogba was doing a bit of freelance coaching to try and fix the issues.

This was a vital three points for United but it didn’t look likely in a first 45 minutes in which they were comprehensively outplayed by the Seagulls and once again lost the midfield battle.

Fixing the centre of the pitch is proving as difficult for Ralf Rangnick as it was for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and when the interim manager signalled for United to shift into a 4-2-3-1 midway through the first half, with Scott McTominay and Fred as a double pivot, it felt like stepping back in time.United’s midfield had given up plenty of space in a 4-3-3 so there might have been some sense in the switch, but the issues were less to do with structure and more to do with quality.

For Fred, this was one of those games where his passing range makes you think he will never be the answer to these problems. The Brazilian deserves to be cut some slack – this was his first game back after suffering from Covid – and he was playing well in January, but time and again he coughed up possession with wayward passes.

One simple short pass in the first half was so far away from a teammate there was probably a United shirt in the crowd that was closer to it.

For all that he offers in terms of pressing, Fred’s passing has to improve if he’s going to be a fulcrum in United’s midfield when they finally rouse themselves for a title challenge.

So having spent some of the first half trying to tell his colleagues to close the spaces between midfield and attack, Pogba came on to try and sort it out on the pitch for the final 17 minutes.

The reaction of what had been a pretty fractious Old Trafford crowd spoke volumes. Patience is evidently wearing thin at what has been a dreadful season and there were ironic cheers when Marcus Rashford was subbed against Southampton, a reaction repeated when Fred’s number flashed up on the board of fourth official Kevin Friend. Pogba’s introduction was greeted by cheers.It was a sign that United’s fans want this midfield to become more progressive, for better and, occasionally, worse.

Within a couple of minutes Pogba was having a shot blocked from the edge of the area.In injury time he showed the quick thinking that can so often be a part of his game.

When Alexis Mac Allister fell on the ball and conceded a free-kick for handling it the game was done, but Pogba saw the space United had to play in and immediately released Bruno Fernandes into it.From there the Portuguese playmaker surged towards Robert Sanchez’s goal and finished coolly.

It was a much-needed confidence boost for a player who has missed chances recently.It was also Pogba’s eighth assist of the Premier League, but his first since August.

Since returning from three months out injured against Middlesbrough he has looked immediately back to his best, although he did tire against Southampton on Saturday.

As he walked off Pogba handed his shirt to a young fan in the Stretford End, the souvenir of a lifetime, and as the last player off the pitch he received a huge roar from the Red Army supporters above the tunnel.

This is a player likely to leave the club on a free transfer for the second time in a matter of months, but at the moment his performance levels are as high as anyone at the club and this reaction showed the supporters certainly feel he is part of United’s best midfield three at the moment.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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