Raphael Varane is excited by the prospect of Manchester United making a "new start" under Erik ten Hag, with the 2018 World Cup winner hoping to enjoy a more successful second season at Old Trafford.

Four-time European champion Varane left Real Madrid to join United last August, but he endured a frustrating campaign as the Red Devils struggled to a sixth-placed finish after replacing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Ralf Rangnick.

Varane made 29 appearances in all competitions during his first season with United, only contributing to six clean sheets as the side finished with their lowest Premier League points tally yet (58).

But the appointment of former Ajax coach Ten Hag has raised hopes United can improve next term, and Varane has spoken of the squad's eagerness to work with the Dutchman.

"It's a new season, it's a new start, so everyone is excited to know about the new manager," he told the club's media channels.

"Obviously, we want to do well and win every game so, for this, we'll have to prepare for the new season, and I think it’s important for us to train hard and be ready."

United will open their 2022-23 Premier League campaign at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on August 7, but they will first embark on a pre-season tour of Asia and Australia.

United's first outing under Ten Hag will see them meet old rivals Liverpool in Thailand on July 12, and Varane says the team's pre-season work will prove crucial if they are to hit the ground running next term.

"We want to be ready for the new season," he continued. "We need to work very hard and there will be a lot of training sessions and a lot of games, so I think it will be interesting and a great moment to work very hard and to prepare for the season.

"I think it’s a different atmosphere, it's pre-season, so we have to get fit, we have to prepare.

"I think it's always exciting to play in front of our fans around the world, it's a good experience for us, and it's a good moment to prepare for the season."

Jose Mourinho will return to Camp Nou in August to face Barcelona with his Roma side in the Joan Gamper Trophy.

The Gamper acts as the curtain-raiser for Barcelona's season, with the Blaugrana taking on Juventus in last year's edition, which was the first to involve both the men's and women's teams.

Barcelona announced on Wednesday that Roma are the chosen opposition for this year's version, with the games set to take place on August 6.

Mourinho will head back to the Camp Nou, where he was Louis van Gaal's assistant for three seasons until 2000, on the back of lifting the Europa Conference League with Roma.

The Portuguese coach is a largely unpopular figure among Blaugrana supporters after managing fierce rivals Real Madrid.

Mourinho guided Madrid to a LaLiga title, Copa del Rey crown and the Supercopa de Espana in his three seasons with Los Blancos.

It will not be the first appearance for Roma in the Gamper either, after the Serie A side were beaten 3-0 by Barcelona in the 2015 edition.

Erik ten Hag will face Rayo Vallecano in his first home game in charge of Manchester United.

United start their pre-season campaign with a clash against Liverpool in Thailand on July 12, before heading to Australia for friendlies with Melbourne Victory, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa.

The Red Devils will then head to Oslo as Ten Hag faces Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid on July 30.

United return to Manchester to cap off their pre-season schedule with a friendly against LaLiga side Vallecano at Old Trafford.

That will be Ten Hag's first game at the Theatre of Dreams and United's football director John Murtough hopes the fans will give him a warm welcome.

"Pre-season is all about preparation and this is a great opportunity for those squad members who may not have featured in some of our earlier tour and pre-season matches to get valuable minutes on the pitch – and where better to do this than Old Trafford?," he said, as quoted by United's official website.

"This will be the new manager's first match at Old Trafford, and I am sure the fans will provide him with a warm welcome."

Premier League rivals Liverpool and Manchester United will face off in a pre-season friendly in Bangkok.

The game will be played at the Rajamangala Stadium on July 12, where Jurgen Klopp's men will battle the Red Devils for the Bangkok Century Cup.

It is the only pre-season fixture confirmed by Liverpool so far, but United announced they will also play Melbourne Victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 15, before facing more familiar opposition again in Crystal Palace at the same venue four days later.

The last time Liverpool and United played in a friendly was in 2018 and saw the Reds win 4-1 in front of more than 100,000 fans in Michigan as part of the International Champions Cup.

United will be hoping to have a new permanent manager installed by the time pre-season begins, with Erik ten Hag and Mauricio Pochettino among the favourites for the role, and the Liverpool fixture could be the first game for whomever is appointed.

Ibrahima Konate was left lost for words after making his first Anfield appearance for Liverpool in Monday's pre-season win over Osasuna.

The centre-back, signed for a fee in the region of £36million (€42.5m) from RB Leipzig, started the 3-1 friendly victory and played 80 minutes in front of a crowd of around 40,000.

The 22-year-old now cannot wait to experience a competitive game on Merseyside, with the Reds' first home game of the 2021-22 season coming against Burnley on August 21.

"To be honest, I don't have the words to explain my feelings when I put my first foot on the pitch," he told Liverpool's website. "It's amazing and I'm very happy to have my first game at Anfield with fans.

"Today was amazing. I cannot imagine the stadium in the Premier League or Champions League."

Liverpool were comfortable winners against the LaLiga side, Roberto Firmino scoring twice after Takumi Minamino broke the deadlock with a deflected strike.

Jurgen Klopp's men are looking in good form ahead of their season opener away to Norwich City on Saturday.

"I think we did a very good game together and this is the most important [thing]. I am happy about my performance," said Konate.

"It was the last friendly game, the last game of the pre-season – now the Premier League will start [on] Saturday and I am very excited for this moment.

"We were together for four weeks [in pre-season]; it was a little bit hard because we were in the hotel, but it was very good because we had a very good atmosphere with the team.

"Now I hope we are ready for the Premier League and the season."

Liverpool defender Andy Robertson has confirmed he suffered ankle ligament damage in the 1-1 pre-season friendly draw with Athletic Bilbao.

The Scotland international limped off after attempting to block a cross and was replaced at half-time by Owen Beck.

Manager Jurgen Klopp said further tests were required to determine the level of damage, casting doubt on Robertson's availability for Liverpool's opening game of the Premier League season away to Norwich City on August 14.

Ahead of Monday's friendly with Osasuna, the Reds' final warm-up game before the 2021-22 season, Robertson said via Twitter that he expected to be sidelined for a time.

"Thanks to everyone for the kind messages and support," he wrote. "Scan suggests nothing too major but there's some ligament damage which will need to mend.

"I will be grafting every day so I can help the team again sooner rather than later. Good luck to the boys playing tonight."

Sergio Busquets insists Barcelona are "looking to compete on all fronts" despite club legend Lionel Messi departing.

Messi was expected to sign a new contract but financial complications at Barca left the forward no option but to leave, with Busquets now assuming the captaincy role.

Prior to Sunday's Joan Gamper Trophy clash, the 33-year-old took the opportunity to reassure the Blaugrana faithful who were rocked by the news of Messi's departure on Thursday, with the Argentina international set to join Paris Saint-Germain.

"We'll do it with you [the fans]," Busquets said at the Estadi Johan Cruyff. "We need you more than ever. We need your help, your support, and we're sure you'll give it to us."

Busquets, who led the tackles and interceptions charts at Barca last term while also completing the second most passes, joins an illustrious group of players to have captained the Catalan club.

Carles Puyol, Xavi and Messi all came before the midfielder and Busquets acknowledged he must now "meet the standards" set by those club legends in a role which he is "very proud" to take.

Having made his debut four years after the Argentina captain, the Spain midfielder was also quick to pay tribute to his former team-mate, with whom he enjoyed a 14-year spell with.

"I want to give a special mention to Leo," Busquets continued. "Thank you, Leo, for taking Barca to the very pinnacle; for making history while being the best player in the world, and for beating all the individual and collective records [imaginable].

"We will always be very grateful for everything you have done. We will miss you and we wish you all the best."

While Messi, who netted 672 times in 778 appearances for the Spanish giants, edges closer to joining PSG, Barca begin their LaLiga campaign against Real Sociedad on August 15 as they begin the post-Messi era.

Jurgen Klopp could still add to his squad before the transfer window closes but insists Liverpool benefit from some advantages that money simply cannot buy.

The Reds have added Ibrahima Konate during the offseason, the centre-back joining from RB Leipzig to provide further competition at a position decimated by injuries last term.

There has been speculation Liverpool could look to add a midfielder, too – Florian Neuhaus and Saul Niguez are two names to be linked – while there are rumours of potential departures to reduce numbers.

However, other top-flight clubs have been busy, too. Both Manchester City and Manchester United have completed big-name signings, while Chelsea are reportedly close to completing a deal to get Romelu Lukaku from Inter.

Klopp made clear after the 1-1 pre-season friendly draw with Athletic Bilbao on Sunday that further arrivals could be possible at Anfield, albeit the club has intangibles that can help them compete with their rivals.

"I'm very happy with the squad," Klopp said.

"That doesn't mean we don't look at the market. But as long as nothing happens, I'm more than happy with the squad I have, more than happy with the players I have.

"We have so many things which you can't sign: you cannot sign pressing, you cannot sign counter-pressing, you cannot sign atmosphere, you cannot sign togetherness, you can't sign the atmosphere we can create in the stadium, you can't sign Anfield, you can't sign our anthem, you can't sign a lot of things. And that's what we have to use, obviously.

"There are different approaches obviously out there and we have no influence on that. Our situation is like it is.

"We have a big squad and there might still be something happen until the end of the transfer window, but I can't say anything about that in the moment."

Klopp may have found an added dimension to his midfield from within: Harvey Elliott has done well in a central role during pre-season, the teenager taking his chance to impress after a hugely successful spell out on loan at Championship club Blackburn Rovers.

For the Liverpool boss, flexibility is key as he aims to get them challenging for the championship again.

On the possible role for Elliott, Klopp told the club's official website: "He can play different positions, there's absolutely no doubt about it.

"But in the pre-season, we wanted to see him just in a deeper role because for a young player you have to learn a lot of things when you are a bit more outside and you get the ball from time to time.

"We wanted to have him more involved. And I think he made a big step in this pre-season. If Harvey stays fit, then the football world can be really excited about that."

Liverpool's final friendly fixture sees them take on Osasuna at Anfield on Monday.

Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson will have scans on an ankle injury described by manager Jurgen Klopp as "pretty painful".

Robertson was hurt during Sunday's 1-1 friendly draw between the Reds and Athletic Bilbao at Anfield.

The Scotland international limped off after attempting to block a cross and was replaced at half-time by Owen Beck.

Klopp said further tests are required to determine the level of damage, casting doubt on Robertson's availability for Liverpool's opening game of the Premier League season away to Norwich City on August 14.

"We obviously don't know in the moment how serious it is," Klopp said. 

"It was pretty painful and that's why Andy went off. You probably saw it on the TV pictures better than we did, but he got the ball, the ball on the front of his foot, [and] twisted the ankle.

"The pain settled already, but we cannot say anything further without further assessment tomorrow [Monday]. He has to get a scan and then we will know more."

Diogo Jota scored Liverpool's opener on Sunday before Alex Berenguer levelled early in the second half in front of a crowd of close to 40,000.

There was a warm reception from the home fans for Virgil van Dijk, who played 72 minutes on home turf for the first time in over 10 months, having missed the majority of last season with a knee injury.

Liverpool face Osasuna on Monday in their final pre-season friendly before the 2021-22 season gets underway.

Gareth Bale was denied from the penalty spot as Real Madrid rounded off their pre-season preparations with a goalless draw against Milan in Austria.

Handed a start by the returning ex-Rossoneri coach Carlo Ancelotti, Bale was making his first appearance for Madrid in over a year after spending last season on loan at Tottenham.

But the Wales international could not mark the occasion with a goal, Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan guessing correctly to save his 41st-minute penalty at the Worthersee Stadion.

Maignan, who arrived from Ligue 1 champions Lille last month, is expected to start the season as Milan number one following Gianluigi Donnarumma's departure for Paris Saint-Germain.

The France international would have certainly impressed Stefano Pioli with his smart saves to deny Bale and David Alaba from distance.

He then went the right way to keep out Bale from 12 yards when the forward was brought down by Davide Calabria after a surging run into the box.

The breakthrough continued to elude both sides after the break, Luka Modric going close as he rattled the crossbar from 25 yards, while Brahim Diaz stung Andriy Lunin's palms at the other end.

Madrid launch their LaLiga season away at Deportivo Alaves on August 14, the same day that Milan complete their preparations for the forthcoming Serie A campaign against Panathinaikos.

Son Heung-min scored the only goal as Tottenham rounded off an unbeaten pre-season by edging out rivals Arsenal 1-0 in the final game of the Mind Series on Sunday.

A tight affair was settled in the 79th minute at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with Son receiving Japhet Tanganga's square pass in the box before firing past Bernd Leno.

Three wins and two draws from their five pre-season games means Nuno Espirito Santo's side head into the Premier League campaign, which begins against reigning champions Manchester City on August 15, unbeaten.

Despite Spurs' victory here moving them level on points with Chelsea, the Blues win the mini-tournament having scored the greater number of goals in their two matches.

Chances were few and far between for the most part. Leno denied Son from point-blank range, while Alexandre Lacazette hit the post from the edge of the box.

Though it was technically a friendly, the competitive nature of the fixture was evident with a crunching Dele Alli tackle on Nicolas Pepe earning a yellow card.

Alli twice went close to breaking the deadlock; the England international hitting the post either side of half-time.

The game appeared to be heading for a stalemate but Son – a scorer in two of the three most recent competitive encounters between the sides – snatched the victory for Spurs 11 minutes from time with his third goal of pre-season.

Mikel Arteta's Arsenal, who launch their Premier League season away at Brentford on August 13, had a chance to equalise late on, but Pierluigi Gollini denied Bukayo Saka from close range.

Brendan Rodgers is confident James Maddison will remain a Leicester City player, despite speculation linking him with Arsenal.

Having already brought in Ben White and Albert Sambi Lokonga, Arsenal are rumoured to be interested in the Leicester midfielder, though Rodgers dismissed those reports on Thursday.

Leicester, who are preparing for the Community Shield on Saturday, won the FA Cup last season before falling at the final hurdle for Champions League qualification, with Maddison playing an integral role.

"Yes, I believe so," Rodgers said when asked whether Maddison would remain at the King Power Stadium. "I haven't been told anything to say he won't be.

"He's happy in training, he's working very hard and he's just recently become a father so he has responsibility off the pitch as well.

"There's obviously gossip and speculation that goes around, especially this time of year, but James is a very important member of our squad.

"He's a very talented player. His season was disrupted last year by injury but hopefully this season he can go and show what a top player he is.”

Maddison, whose 13 goal involvements in 31 games last term represented his best return in the Premier League, led Leicester's charts for chances created with 51, despite playing seven games fewer than second-placed Youri Tielemans.

The England midfielder's 788 passes inside the opposition half were the second most among Rodgers' players, yet Maddison still ranked fourth with 81.22 per cent of those balls finding a team-mate.

While Rodgers will have reason to celebrate if he can keep a hold of playmaker Maddison, Wednesday's friendly against Villarreal led to concerning issues at the back.

Wesley Fofana, who was just one of two defenders to attempt at least 50 tackles, make 50 interceptions and produce 50 headed clearances last season, suffered a broken leg against the LaLiga outfit, leaving Leicester short for centre-backs.

Rodgers admitted he was "not overly happy with the way the game was officiated" and concluded it was "disappointing for something like that to happen in a pre-season friendly".

Already without the injured Jonny Evans, Leicester have just Caglar Soyuncu left as a first-choice centre-half and could be forced to push Wilfred Ndidi back into defence for Saturday's clash with Manchester City.

Rodgers now faces a race against the clock to fill the defensive void as he noted the shock 2015-16 Premier League winners are "definitely light in that area."

Wesley Fofana suffered a potentially serious injury on Wednesday as he left the pitch on a stretcher during Leicester City's pre-season friendly against Villarreal.

The defender was carrying the ball forward when he was caught by a lunging slide tackle from behind by Fernando Nino, forcing the Frenchman off injured on the hour-mark at the King Power Stadium.

Paramedics and Leicester's physios immediately rushed on to tend to Fofana before carrying him off on a stretcher and Brendan Rodgers was visibly frustrated with both the Villarreal dugout and players on the pitch.

The details of his injury remain unclear but it potentially leaves Leicester, who are already without the injured Jonny Evans, another defender short just 10 days before the Premier League campaign begins.

Having joined from Saint-Etienne in September 2020, Fofana impressed in his debut season as he made 28 appearances for Rodgers' men, who missed out on Champions League football at the final hurdle.

Despite missing 10 top-flight fixtures, Fofana ranked third for the Foxes in terms of duels won (183), second for aerial success (91) and joint-first for interceptions with Wilfried Ndidi (61 each).

Leicester were leading 3-0 at the time, though only finished as 3-2 winners over Villarreal, with the La Liga outfit pulling back two late goals.

The Foxes, who won the FA Cup against Chelsea last term, have now completed their final pre-season game and next face Manchester City in the Community Shield on Saturday.

A Tottenham side deprived of the services of star man Harry Kane fought back after two Hakim Ziyech goals to earn a 2-2 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Goals either side of half-time from Ziyech gave Chelsea a well-deserved two-goal lead but Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn cancelled out the Blues' advantage with second-half finishes of their own.

Having paraded their Champions League trophy in front of the near-capacity crowd prior to kick-off, Chelsea got off to an emphatic start with Ziyech blasting in low from the edge of the area to capitalise on Lucas' laziness in possession.

Timo Werner thought he had added a second after rounding Pierluigi Gollini, though the offside flag denied him – with no VAR in operation, the Germany forward could not argue with the decision, despite seemingly looking onside.

Tottenham, who were still without the absent Kane amid his apparent desire to leave, named a strong starting-11, including Son Heung-Min and Dele Alli, but fell two behind when Ziyech drilled in a second just two minutes after the break.

Lucas responded for Nuno Espirito Santo's side, netting a third in pre-season courtesy of a fortuitous looping deflection off Antonio Rudiger wrong-footing Edouard Mendy.

Bergwijn levelled things up 14 minutes later with a thumping finish past Mendy after smart link-up play down the left flank by Moura and Son.

Having dominated for large periods the draw may frustrate Chelsea, who next face Villarreal in the European Super Cup on August 11, while Tottenham round-off their pre-season preparations against Arsenal three days before.

A brace from Hakim Ziyech had Chelsea seemingly coasting to victory at Stamford Bridge before Tottenham fought back to earn a 2-2 pre-season draw on Wednesday.

Goals either side of half-time from Ziyech gave Chelsea a well-deserved two-goal lead but Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn cancelled out the Blues' advantage with second-half finishes of their own.

Having paraded their Champions League trophy in front of the near-capacity crowd prior to kick-off, Chelsea got off to an emphatic start with Ziyech blasting in low from the edge of the area to capitalise on Lucas' laziness in possession.

Timo Werner thought he had added a second after rounding Pierluigi Gollini, though the offside flag denied him – with no VAR in operation, the Germany forward could not argue with the decision, despite seemingly looking onside.

Tottenham, who were still without the absent Harry Kane, named a strong starting-11, including Son Heung-Min and Dele Alli, but fell two behind when Ziyech drilled in a second just two minutes after the break.

Lucas responded for Nuno Espirito Santo's side, netting a third in pre-season courtesy of a fortuitous looping deflection off Antonio Rudiger wrong-footing Edouard Mendy.

Bergwijn levelled things up 14 minutes later with a thumping finish past Mendy after smart link-up play down the left flank by Moura and Son.

Having dominated for large periods the draw may frustrate Chelsea, who next face Villarreal in the European Super Cup on August 11, while Tottenham round-off their pre-season preparations against Arsenal three days before.

Page 1 of 2
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.