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Ralf Rangnick has made an important change to Man United squad

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There is a lot of time for reflection in the weeks ahead. Manchester United have five days off before the start of the international break and then the best part of a fortnight before they return to action again.

Elimination from the Champions League this week took away any chance of this season being remotely linked with success, and instead United’s hopes rely on a top-four finish when they should have been aiming for the Premier League title.
The manner of United’s defeat to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday once again highlighted the mentality issue within the star-studded squad as Ralf Rangnick’s side failed to deal with the dark arts cast against them, which prevented their only chance of success from moments of magic.

In the long run, such a reality check could provide United with the kick up the backside required to finally get their act together, though we’ve been here before. Once again, the club approaches a ‘defining’ summer, and once again they could end up going around in circles when it looks like they have turned a corner.

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In the grand scheme of things, the loss to Atletico was just another dismal defeat in a long list of failures over the last few years, though this one did at least upset the squad hierarchy and bring into question the status of many senior stars.

For many years, there has been a sense of stagnation at United and the club has been held back because far too many people, both on and off the pitch, are comfortable in their roles. It’s led to plenty of complacency and a drop in standards, which had often been covered up by a freak run of results or incredible solo performance to paper over the cracks.

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A key component of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s downfall at the club was that he had a key group of undroppable players who kept their place in the starting line up regardless of form. This not only alienated those on the periphery, but it once again allowed for complacency to creep in because there was no punishment for failure on the pitch.

Despite his obvious shortcomings, Rangnick has at least tried to address the issue by challenging the positions of a number of struggling star players in the United squad, though he has also granted former fringe players a similar bias as compensation. Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford both found themselves on the bench on Tuesday night, while Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes, Fred and Scott McTominay were all hooked during the match, having failed to impress during it.

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By full-time, the team selection might have been up for debate, but given the poor performances in recent weeks, there was little substance behind an argument for another of the substitutes to have been given more minutes during the defeat. It speaks of the deep-rooted problems at the club that United’s gross transfer spending has been £1.4 billion over the past decade, yet those players recruited still can’t be trusted to put in a worthy performance on a night of such magnitude.

With a mass exodus a very realistic possibility at the end of the season, United’s next manager could well have a clean slate to work with as they begin the tough process of somehow getting the club to function. Even those who are left to work with might not automatically deserve a place in the team.

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Man United enter ‘final negotiation’ to sign £64,000-week-star

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Manchester United are in final negotiations with Barcelona to sign USA defender Sergino Dest, according to Spanish publication Sport.

The Red Devils are keen on bolstering multiple positions before the transfer deadline, and a new right-back is said to be among priorities.

Earlier this month, it was claimed that United are prepared to accelerate Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s exit in order to secure the services of Dest.

It is now reported that United are in the final phase of negotiations with the Blaugrana for Dest, who started his playing career at Ajax.

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There has been talk over a loan deal with an obligation to buy, but the Catalan giants are quite clear that they want €20 million (£17m) to offload him.

Dest was initially reluctant to leave Barcelona, but has now changed his stance. The 21-year-old is said to welcome a reunion with Erik ten Hag.

Dest would be an ideal right-back for Erik ten Hag

United lacked creativity from the right-back position last term. Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka failed to register a goal or an assist in any competition.

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The trend has remained the same this season. Dalot is now the first-choice, but the Portuguese has started the new campaign in a relatively poor fashion.

Hence, there are no surprises that United are looking to land Dest. The United States star has not lived up to his expectations at Barcelona, but was impressive at Ajax.

Under Ten Hag, he made his debut for the Amsterdam giants in 2019/2020. He had a solid maiden campaign with eight goal contributions from 38 appearances.

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A reunion with Ten Hag at United could bring the best out of him. Graduating through the Ajax system, he should be familiar with the playing style under the Dutchman.

At £17m, it seems a no-brainer signing for United. He has not even entered the prime of his career, and won’t command big wages. He is currently on £64,000-a-week.

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Oleksandr Zinchenko left Arsenal teammates to shame in dust with unreal skills in training

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Oleksandr Zinchenko has had a superb start to life at Arsenal.

The versatile Ukrainian signed for the Gunners in a £32 million move from Manchester City this summer.

He has hit the ground running, starting at left-back in each of Arsenal’s opening two Premier League games of the campaign.

Arsenal have won both of those games with Zinchenko even recording an assist in the 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace.

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Zinchenko’s impressive technical ability has been on full show so far this season.

And he has shown just how good his ball control is in a recent video posted by Arsenal.

Mikel Arteta gave his players a keepie uppie challenge in training.

Players were tasked with keeping the ball in the air from one side of the pitch to the other.

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If a player let the ground hit the floor they had to go back to the start line and start all over again.

The person that was last to complete the drill was given the forfeit of having to buy the rest of the squad breakfast the following morning.

The drill starts and Arsenal players are nearly all of the players start steadily with the focus on not letting the ball touching the ground.

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Zinchenko didn’t have that mentality, though. The 25-year-old went all out from the start and raced well clear of his teammates.

You can watch it in the embedded video below:

 

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Barcelona were offered the chance to sign Manchester City fullback – report

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A recent report from Diario SPORT explores Barcelona’s pursuit of a new right-back in these remaining weeks of the summer transfer window.

Unhappy with the performances and overall growth of Sergino Dest, Xavi is actively looking for various options in the market. The likes of Juan Foyth and Thomas Meunier have emerged as the prime targets for the club.

But as per the report, Barcelona were offered the opportunity to sign another option in the form of Issa Kabore. The Manchester City youngster was handed to the Catalans, who had not ruled out the option in light of the desperation in the right-back unit.

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Formerly of Mechelen, Kabore is one of the brightest defensive talents coming out of Belgium in recent years. He notably enjoyed a breakthrough season on loan at Troyes last season, racking up 31 league appearances and even registering two assists.

Manchester City offered Barcelona the opportunity to snap him up for a fee of just €10 million. However, the club failed to secure the services of Kabore, who has recently joined Olympique Marseille.

Following his breakthrough in Ligue 1, the French giants were determined to sign the youngster in the summer. They were able to secure his signature as well, reaching a loan agreement with Manchester City that will keep him at OM until the end of the 2022/23 campaign.

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There are reports that the Premier League giants have reserved the right to re-sign the player in the future, should he join Marseille permanently in the summer of 2023.

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Barcelona, for their part, might not be fazed by Kabore’s move to Olympique Marseille. However, the Catalans are desperately looking for a new right-back and must quickly make a move in the market, if they are to find a reliable replacement for Sergino Dest this summer.

Thomas Meunier and Juan Foyth are the two players targeted by the Blaugrana, although it remains to be seen whether any of them are up for sale, especially in these late stages of the summer transfer window.

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