EPL

Ronaldo returns to Man Utd's starting XI for Brentford trip

By Sports Desk January 19, 2022

Cristiano Ronaldo returned to Manchester United's starting line-up for their trip to Brentford after missing the past two games through injury. 

The Portugal captain has scored 14 times in 21 appearances this term but has not featured for Ralf Rangnick's side since a 1-0 home loss against Wolves on January 3, having suffered a minor injury setback. 

The former Real Madrid man led the United attack – replacing Edinson Cavani – in west London on Wednesday, though, with Bruno Fernandes slotting in behind his countryman as captain. 

Rangnick also handed another start to youngster Anthony Elanga, who was utilised from the outset against Aston Villa last Saturday, while Mason Greenwood was deployed on the opposite flank. 

Scott McTominay was Rangnick's only other change from the Villa game as he returned from a one-game suspension to replace Nemanja Matic in midfield. 

Club captain Harry Maguire was still only fit enough for the bench after suffering from an abdominal injury, meaning Victor Lindelof partnered Raphael Varane in the United defence again. 

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    Massimiliano Allegri says Juventus will look to bring more experienced players into the squad ahead of the 2022-23 campaign.

    Juve's disappointing season ended with a whimper on Saturday as they slumped to a 2-0 defeat to Fiorentina at the Artemio Franchi.

    Alfred Duncan opening the scoring for a Fiorentina side who were far and away the superior team, before a late penalty from Nicolas Gonzalez finished the Bianconeri off.

    It was the first time Fiorentina have won a Serie A home clash against Juventus since January 2017.

    The game marked the end of Giorgio Chiellini, Paulo Dybala and Federico Bernardeschi's Juve careers, and Allegri acknowledged that the club, who have been linked with free transfer moves for Paul Pogba and Angel Di Maria, will need to replace their experience.

    "I am happy because we have unity of purpose," he told Sky Sport Italia. "We have many players, several will have to leave. Chiellini has stopped, Bernardeschi and Dybala are at the end of their contracts.

    "Then there is the transfer market, but everything must be done calmly and clearly. The team must be arranged calmly.

    "In the 11 there are already young people, we have five. [Dusan] Vlahovic, [Manuel] Locatelli, [Matthijs] De Ligt, [Federico] Chiesa, and then [Fabio] Miretti is playing well.

    "The team grows, it is normal that a mix is ​​needed within the team otherwise with all young people it is more difficult to win.

    "Experience is needed. We will need balance in the team."

    Juve ended the Serie A season with eight fewer points than they did under the leadership of Andrea Pirlo in his maiden campaign, yet Allegri believes that is not a true representation of what he has achieved since he returned to the club.

    "There is a psychological aspect because we had to chase from the start and knew once we lost to Inter and had secured fourth place, the results after that didn't entirely reflect the team and are somewhat false," he added.

    "After that push to get back, once the motivation was lacking, we lost intensity.

    "We also know that we need to score more goals, play with more intensity, we have to keep the good things from this season and improve those that didn't work as well."

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    Mauricio Pochettino's side relegated Metz by dishing out on a thrashing in their final game of the season after Mbappe signed a new contract.

    It was announced before kick-off at Parc des Princes on Saturday that France forward Mbappe had snubbed Real Madrid in favour of putting paper on a new three-year deal with the Ligue 1 champions.

    Meanwhile Di Maria, who left the field in tears when substituted late on, marked his final appearance for the club after seven years in the French capital by rounding off the scoring.

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    Speculation over Kylian Mbappe's future is finally over as he will be staying at Paris Saint-Germain.

    The 23-year-old had widely been expected to join Real Madrid as a free agent, but it was confirmed on Saturday that the France forward has signed a new three-year contract with PSG.

    Mbappe joined the Ligue 1 champions from Monaco, initially on loan, in 2017 and has become the capital club's leading light, despite playing alongside Neymar and, as of the 2021-22 season, Lionel Messi.

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    217 - As he featured in PSG's starting XI against Metz, he has now made 217 appearances so far, more than any other player in the period since he joined the club. Of those appearances, 190 have been starts.

    168 - Before the Metz game, the forward had scored an incredible 168 goals for PSG, 72 more than Neymar, who was second on the list since Mbappe made his PSG bow.

    77 - Prior to the Metz game, he was also the leading assister since he joined PSG, creating 77 goals. 

    775 - As expected, he also topped the PSG squad for shots, having had 775, with 398 of those hitting the target. Magnifique.

    42 - No player had contributed to more goals across Europe's top five leagues this season heading into Saturday's match than Mbappe, who has been involved in 42.

    The records

    15 - This season, Mbappe became the first player to score at least 15 goals and provide at least 15 assists in a single Ligue 1 campaign since Eden Hazard did so for Lille in the 2011-12 campaign.

    100 - When he scored against Lyon in March 2021, Mbappe became the youngest player to rack up 100 goals in Ligue 1, at the age of 22 years and 91 days. He is also the youngest player to net a century of goals in the top five European Leagues in the 21st century.

    2 - Mbappe is already the second-highest Ligue 1 scorer since the turn of the century, having scored 132 times in the competition before Saturday's game. Only PSG great Edinson Cavani, with 138, has netted more.

    1 - He is hoping to become the first player to finish as the highest goalscorer and the leading assist provider in the same Ligue 1 season since Opta began collecting such data in 2008.

    8 - Ever consistent, Mbappe had scored at least one goal and delivered at least one assist in eight different Ligue 1 games this season, the highest tally of his career in the same top-flight campaign, prior to the final match of the 2021-22 campaign.

    3 - Mbappe is aiming to be the third player to finish as the highest goalscorer in four consecutive Ligue 1 seasons, after Carlos Bianchi (four in a row with Reims and PSG) and Jean-Pierre Papin (five in a row with Marseille). 

    50 - It is not just domestically that Mbappe has thrived. Since Opta collected such data, starting in the 2003-04 season, he is the fastest and youngest player to have reached 50 goal involvements in the Champions League, doing so in 51 matches, by the age of 22 years and 352 days.

    32 - As of kick-off against Metz, Mbappe was 32 goals shy of matching Cavani's club record of 200 for PSG.

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