Cristiano Ronaldo will remain with Juventus despite speculation he will depart before the new season, according to the Serie A club's vice-president Pavel Nedved 

The Portugal international is into the final year of the four-year contract he signed following his transfer from Real Madrid in a €112million (£99.2m) deal.

Ronaldo has been linked with a move away from Turin ahead of the new campaign, with former clubs Manchester United and Real Madrid among those to have reportedly been interested, along with Paris Saint-Germain.

The 36-year-old scored 29 times in 2020-21 to win the Capocannoniere having previously also been the top scorer in the Premier League and LaLiga.

Since he joined Juve in July 2018, only Robert Lewandowski (103) has scored more goals in all competitions than Ronaldo's 73 among players in Europe's top five leagues.

Ronaldo's 83 goal involvements over that period ranks fourth behind Lewandowski (121), Lionel Messi (106) and Kylian Mbappe (97).

"Ronaldo will return to training on Monday and he will stay with us," Nedved told Sky Sport Italia.

Nedved spoke about Ronaldo's future after Juve beat Cesena 3-1 in a pre-season friendly on Saturday, and was also asked about what was in store for Paulo Dybala and Giorgio Chiellini.

Argentina forward Dybala, 27, is also entering the final year of his contract with the Serie A club. 

“[Director Federico] Cherubini has already been in contact with his [Dybala's] agent, who will arrive in Turin next week," former Juventus and Czech Republic midfielder Nedved explained.

"We are in good time to get the situation resolved, it’s not a problem."

On Italy centre-back Chiellini, whose contract expired in June, Nedved added: "When he returns from his vacation, then we can talk."

The problems that led to South Africa's second-half collapse in Saturday's 22-17 defeat to the British and Irish Lions are "fixable", according to head coach Jacques Nienaber. 

Four penalties from Handre Pollard put the Springboks 12-3 ahead at half-time, but Warren Gatland's side roared back in the second period at the Cape Town Stadium. 

A Faf de Klerk try extended the world champions' lead after Luke Cowan-Dickie had crashed over, yet Dan Biggar took his tally from the tee to 14 points with a couple of penalties, before Owen Farrell put the Lions five points up late on.

While Nienaber was pleased with his side's first-half display, he acknowledged the Lions were good value for the win based on their improved showing after the interval. 

Pollard missed both of his kicks in the second half – one penalty, one conversion – while the Lions, having missed a pair of penalties just before the break, were flawless with the boot following the restart to win a Test having trailed at half-time for the first time since 1989.

"The kicking game was won by us in the first half and we got the rewards, but the second half was a different story," Nienaber said, with South Africa's seven-game winning run – their best in Tests since 2014 – ended.

"They won that battle and it gave them territory, advantage in broken field play and we had to scramble, and we could not cope."

Despite their poor second-half performance, Nienaber is confident it will be just a case of minor tweaks ahead of the second Test next Saturday.

"We were nine points up, so things were working for us," he added. "We were playing in the right areas.

"Our half-time talk was to step up at the breakdown and then our discipline fell away. We started to make mistakes, especially at maul time. We did not make the step-up needed when required.

"We can certainly salvage this. A proper review is needed, but we can sort it out, no doubt. It worked in the first half and I believe what happened in the second half is fixable."

Captain Siya Kolisi was in agreement with his coach, highlighting the Springboks' failure to dominate the maul as a key reason behind the defeat. The Lions won 10 mauls to the Springboks' three.

"We did not get the maul going and we need to look at that," he said.

"They won the crucial balls in the air and the scraps that came from that. Well done to them. We are back at work tomorrow and will start fixing what we need to."

Memphis Depay claimed he will thrive on the expectancy at Barcelona after scoring his first goal for the club in a friendly match.

The Netherlands forward converted an 85th-minute penalty as Barca clinched a 3-1 win over Girona at Johan Cruyff Stadium on Saturday.

Depay joined the Blaugrana on a free transfer earlier this month after his contract expired with Ligue 1 club Lyon.

"I know they expect a lot from me," Depay told a post-match media conference.

"I'm very happy to have played with this shirt. I enjoyed the fans in the stadium, they were very enthusiastic throughout the match and they have shown a lot of energy. 

"I work hard to provide incredible moments for Barca fans. 

"When we play in the stadium it will be incredible too. The fans will give us energy."

Depay netted 76 goals in 178 appearances for Lyon where he enjoyed an impressive final season in Ligue 1 with 20 goals, trailing only Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe (27 goals).

The 27-year-old's 12 assists and 94 chances created were more than any other player managed in France's top flight in 2020-21.

In all competitions, meanwhile, Depay scored 22 goals last term at an average of one goal every 141.5 minutes, making it his second-best season since arriving.

He massively exceeded his expected goals (xG) total of 12.38.

"He is a high-quality player," Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman said of Depay after the win over Girona.

"He has shown it in certain moments of the game. It is important because you have to have competition in the positions at the top.

"Some players may have more minutes than others in pre-season. The internationals, not yet. Little by little we will give more. We will try to be prepared for the first league game."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's working relationship with the club he loves is set to carry on until at least 2024 after he signed an extension with Manchester United.

The deal, a pre-season boost as United prepare for a new campaign, came with a glowing endorsement from outgoing executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who talked up the "foundations in place for long-term success on the pitch" in the official statement released by the club.

There are obvious reasons to be so optimistic, too, considering the Red Devils finished runners-up to Manchester City in the Premier League and also reached the Europa League final.

However, as has become a worrying trend of late, they still came up short in the quest for silverware. Solskjaer's new deal, plus the signing of Jadon Sancho, shows a high degree of faith in the current regime, but also shortens the list of excuses if the near-misses continue.

Partnerships in football can sour swiftly if things do not pan out as hoped – the previous manager to occupy the home dugout at Old Trafford knows that only too well...

A sign of better times after life under Mourinho

Solskjaer has a win rate of 52.6 per cent in the Premier League since taking charge. His average of 1.86 points per game sits him third on the United list since the competition's inception, behind an undoubted club legend and a former boss who knows an extension is not always a guarantee of sticking around.

Jose Mourinho triumphed in exactly 50 of his 93 league games in charge. In contrast to the man who replaced him, the Portuguese had early success with United as well, winning the EFL Cup and the Europa League in his first season.

Those seemingly solid foundations subsided quickly, though. He was handed an extension in January 2018 yet was gone inside a year, dismissed amid dissatisfaction with not just results on the pitch but also the style of play. A defeat to Liverpool at Anfield proved to be the final straw.

Mourinho fell seven games short of his Premier League century with the Red Devils, caught out by his entrenched views on how the team should be set up as he seemingly failed to grasp the club's traditions.

Solskjaer now has his hundred within sight, a number that seemed highly improbable when he flew in from Molde to answer United's SOS (Save Our Season) call. The trip to Wolves on August 29, United's third outing in 2021-22, following on from games against Leeds United and Southampton, will see him reach three figures in the Premier League. 

In doing so, he will become the first manager to make it to the milestone with United since Alex Ferguson. Matching his league success rate of 65.2 per cent may appear a tall order, but the team have been trending in the right direction after mixed times under the stewardship of more illustrious names.

United's 73 league goals they scored last term were the highest tallied in the post-Ferguson era, while 12 away wins in the top flight were also the most since the Scot stepped aside. All they need to do now is work out a way to get over the hump, whether that be at home or abroad.

Finding the balance in the quest for success

Upon his arrival in December 2018, Solskjaer cited the "very talented squad" at his disposal. That group which struggled for points in the dying embers of Mourinho's reign went unbeaten in his first 12 league games, a run that helped the caretaker stick around in the job for a while longer.

A Champions League away win over Paris Saint-Germain provided further ammunition to suggest the Norwegian should be retained on a permanent basis (he would receive a three-year deal). Marcus Rashford scored the winner from the penalty spot on that famous night in the French capital, one of his 52 goals under Solskjaer.

No player has managed more than the England international, who also tops the list for appearances (128). Mason Greenwood – another product of the academy system that remains so highly valued by both club officials and supporters – has 29 goals in 105 appearances.

There have been hugely successful signings, too, with Bruno Fernandes (40 goals in just 80 games) the pick of the bunch. Edinson Cavani, who scored 17 times in the 2020-21 season, proved an astute bit of business as well, a free transfer that paid off spectacularly as a much-needed focal point in the forward line.

Rashford, Greenwood, Fernandes and Cavani demonstrate the "good balance" within the squad that Solskjaer mentioned in the announcement of his new contract. Sancho joining from Borussia Dortmund only adds even greater depth to the attacking options, having returned to Manchester – albeit the other side of the divide – after dazzling during his time in the Bundesliga.

A centre-back, quite possibly Raphael Varane, would help bolster the back-line that gave up 44 league goals in the previous season, but Solskjaer has plenty to work with already.

He spoke both prior to the end of the league season and also in the aftermath of losing on penalties to Villarreal in the Europa League showpiece about the need to strengthen the squad, calling for two or three high-profile signings.

Sancho is certainly one of those, while Varane would tick that box as well, so it seems the much-maligned owners board are set to grant him his wish.

United have shown faith in Solskjaer throughout and now he needs to repay them in the only way possible – by winning trophies.

Maro Itoje hailed the British and Irish Lions' "mental fortitude" as they came from behind to seal a superb 22-17 first Test win over South Africa on Saturday. 

Four penalties from Handre Pollard put the Springboks 12-3 ahead at half-time, but Warren Gatland's side roared back in the second period at the Cape Town Stadium. 

A Faf de Klerk try extended the world champions' lead after Luke Cowan-Dickie had crashed over, yet Dan Biggar took his tally from the tee to 14 points with a couple of penalties, before Owen Farrell put the Lions five points up late on.

Man of the match Itoje was in supreme form for the visitors, missing only one of 10 tackles and making three turnovers.

"These moments don't come very often in your career and you've got to take advantage," he told Sky Sports. 

"It's a massive privilege to wear this jersey and represent the Lions. To come out here and win as well is really special

"Second half was a great comeback but we don't want to get ahead of ourselves. We want to come out here and win this series so we have to go out and do the business next week.

"Fingers crossed after that we can go out and be a bit more light-hearted.

"We had to tidy up our discipline. We were making silly mistakes and giving away silly penalties.

"We tidied up our discipline in the second half and luckily we had the mental fortitude to see it through."

Gatland was full of praise for the performance of Saracens and England man Itoje.

He added: "Maro was immense and both he and Courtney Lawes had outstanding games.

"Then we had some decisions to make about bringing players on and we got those right, but certainly those two were very good."

The second Test takes place next Saturday in Cape Town.

Captain Temba Bavuma led the way with the bat as South Africa wrapped up a T20I series sweep against Ireland thanks to a 49-run victory in the third and final game.

The Proteas made it four wins on the spin in the shortest format – their best run since a five-match span between October 2018 and February 2019 – thanks to a dominant display at Stormont, despite making five changes to the team.

Bavuma struck his maiden T20I half-century, making 72 from 51 deliveries while opening the batting as South Africa posted an imposing total of 189-2.

Reeza Hendricks made 69 at the top of the order, helping put on 127 for the first wicket with his skipper. Ireland eventually broke the stand in the 16th over, though David Miller came out at three to produce a stunning late attack, blitzing 36 from just 17 deliveries.

The home team lost Kevin O'Brien to the ninth ball of their reply, setting the tone for wickets to fall at regular intervals. Andy Balbirnie top-scored with 27 before becoming one of three batsmen to be dismissed in the space of nine runs, ending any hope of an Irish victory as they slipped to 78-5.

George Linde, Lizaad Williams and Wiaan Mulder all claimed two wickets apiece but Ireland at least avoided being bowled out inside the distance, finishing up on 140-9.


Miller makes hay on tour

A late cameo in the third game completed an impressive series for Miller. The left-handed batsman finished up with 139 runs having been dismissed just once.

His strike-rate of 169.51 runs per 100 deliveries was the best for any South African who faced a minimum of 10 balls, aided by hitting 11 fours and six sixes.

Irish made to wait

Ireland's winless run in T20I action continues. It is now seven without success, with this result extending their longest drought in the format.

Even facing a much-changed line-up minus both Quinton de Kock and Tabraiz Shamsi, two pivotal players for the Proteas, they were well beaten having been far more competitive in the preceding 50-over fixtures between the nations.

The British and Irish Lions roared back in the second half to beat South Africa 22-17 in a gripping first Test at Cape Town Stadium.

Four penalties from Handre Pollard, playing his 50th Test, gave the Springboks a 12-3 half-time advantage as the struggling Lions were made to pay for indiscipline.

Luke Cowan-Dickie crashed over early in the second half, but a somewhat contentious Faf de Klerk try extended the world champions’ lead.

Dan Biggar took his tally from the tee to 14 points with a couple of penalties to put Warren Gatland’s side in front for the first time with 18 minutes to play and Owen Farrell put them five points up late on.

The Springboks had two second-half tries ruled out and they could not provide a late twist, with Pollard missing a penalty and conversion attempt.

The tackles flew in and high kicks galore were sent up in a frantic start and the Springboks struck a psychological blow when they had the better of the first scrum.

Pollard put the world champions in front with a 13th-minute penalty and he doubled their advantage to punish Tom Curry for a late hit on livewire fly-half Faf de Klerk.

Biggar got the Lions on the board soon after with a great strike from long range midway through a breathless first half, but another two clean strikes from the tee from Pollard made Gatland's side pay for yet more indiscipline with relentless South Africa winning the battle.

The Lions struggled at the lineout and Biggar pulled a penalty wide, while Elliot Daly was just short with a shot at goal from inside his own half before Willie le Roux kept his side nine points in front late in the first half with a great tackle on a charging Robbie Henshaw.

South Africa came out after the break with a new front row and they were pushed back by an unstoppable driving maul only three minutes into the second half, with Cowan-Dickie touching down and Biggar adding the extras.

Le Roux had a try ruled out for offside moments later, but TMO Marius Jonker was in the spotlight again when he saw no issue with a score awarded to De Klerk, which the Lions thought should have been overturned for a Pieter-Steph du Toit knock-on.

Biggar's penalty made it a one-point game and the fly-half put the Lions in front with another clean strike from the tee.

Pollard had failed to convert De Klerk’s try and he missed a penalty after Hamish Watson was fortunate to escape without a card for a tackle on Le Roux.

There was further drama when Damian de Allende’s try was chalked off for offside with eight minutes to go and the Lions clung on to take a series lead following a late Farrell penalty.

Sri Lanka will be hoping a win in 50-over cricket can trigger a white-ball resurgence as they prepare to take on India in a three-match T20I series, beginning on Sunday in Colombo.

Half-centuries from Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa helped Sri Lanka win the third and final ODI between the nations on Friday, just their second win in 11 outings.

They have struggled in T20 action too, winning just once in their previous 13 completed fixtures. Home advantage should help, yet they have not triumphed at the R. Premadasa Stadium – the venue for all three of the upcoming fixtures against India – in the shortest format since August 2018.

Runs were hard to come by on the recent tour of England, including being bowled out for 91 in the final match as the hosts completed an emphatic 3-0 sweep at the Ageas Bowl.

Sri Lanka at least avoided that fate against India in one-day action, aided by a turning track on Friday that allowed their spinners to trigger a batting collapse – the tourists lost their final seven wickets for just 68 runs following a rain delay.

They could also be boosted by the return of Wanindu Hasaranga, who missed the final ODI due to an injury concern.

India, meanwhile, remain without a number of their star names, so these games provide crucial opportunities for fringe players as they look to impress, particularly as this is a World Cup year.

Pushing the boundaries

Sri Lanka have hit a boundary once every 7.7 balls faced in the powerplay overs since the beginning of 2020 in T20I action, the worst rate for any team in that period. 

India have the third-slowest rate, taking 5.6 balls for every boundary. Captain Shikhar Dhawan will hope to help lower that number as he continues to lead the team, while Prithvi Shaw could get the chance to stake his claim for a regular top-order spot.

Positive spin can help India

Varun Chakravarthy could finally be handed his international debut in the series. India appeared keen to pick the mystery spinner against England in the T20I series on home soil earlier this year, yet concerns over his level of fitness ruled him out of contention.

The 29-year-old is a compelling option, though. He has taken 25 wickets in 21 matches in the Indian Premier League, 17 of which came in a 2020 campaign for the Kolkata Knight Riders that saw him finish with an economy rate of 6.84 runs per over.

Key series facts

– India are unbeaten against Sri Lanka in multi-game bilateral T20I series (W3 D1). India have beaten Sri Lanka in each of the past three such series, the most recent meeting being in January 2020.

– Sri Lanka have one win from their past 11 completed T20I matches against India (L10). The solitary triumph was achieved in March 2018 when the Lions beat the Men in Blue by five wickets at the very same venue this match is being played.

– Since the beginning of 2020, only 43 per cent of the runs scored by Sri Lanka in men's T20I matches have come via boundaries, the lowest rate for any team in that period.

– Dasun Shanaka has a batting dot ball rate of 48 per cent in T20I matches since the beginning of 2020. Only two players have a higher rate than the Sri Lankan (Chris Gayle at 53 per cent and Andre Fletcher at 51 per cent, minimum 100 balls faced).

– Bhuvneshwar Kumar needs five wickets to reach 50 in T20I action for India. He will become the fourth player to achieve this feat for his country, with his career-best figures seeing him take 5-24 against South Africa in 2018.

The United States returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion to kick-start their bid for Olympic glory, while Barbra Banda tied a Games record with a second successive hat-trick for Zambia.

Sweden had sensationally put an end to USA's 44-match unbeaten streak at the start of the women's tournament, with Megan Rapinoe admitting the beaten world champions had "played a bit tight" in a 3-0 defeat.

However, Vlatko Andonovski's side responded impressively to that setback on Saturday, thrashing New Zealand 6-1 in Saitama, in the process registering their largest margin of victory in an Olympics fixture.

Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan gave USA a 2-0 half-time lead, the latter on target to mark her 100th cap. Further efforts from Christen Press and Alex Morgan added to the score after the break, while they were helped out by their opponents scoring two own goals.

It is the Swedes who sit on top of the table, though, as a strong second-half performance sealed a 4-2 triumph against Australia.

Meanwhile, Banda equalled the record for most goals scored by a woman at a single Olympics, matching Christine Sinclair's tally of six for Canada at London 2012 with another treble, this time against China.

Zambia's captain scored all her country's goals in a 10-3 loss to the Netherlands in their Group F opener. She followed up with three more in a thrilling 4-4 draw on Saturday, though China's Wang Shuang went one better as she hit four in a see-saw contest.

Vivianne Miedema later moved level with Banda on six goals at this Olympics. The forward had scored four as the Dutch crushed Zambia, then managed another two in a 3-3 draw against Brazil.

Ellen White continued her impressive start to the tournament with the winner as Great Britain defeated hosts Japan 1-0 to qualify for the last eight.

Having scored twice in the opening 2-0 win over Chile, White made it 13 goals in her past 14 international outings when heading in a cross from Lucy Bronze in the 74th minute.

Also in Group E, Canada overcame Chile 2-1 thanks to a brace from Janine Beckie, putting them second in the standings ahead of a clash with Team GB to finish the round-robin stage.

Manchester United certainly can't be accused of standing still this year. A day after sealing the signing of Jadon Sancho, they confirmed a new contract for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer until at least 2024.

But there's still plenty to press on with for Solskjaer and United. While the signing of Sancho addresses one area that has been a problem in recent years, it appears there are still two glaring weaknesses in the first-choice starting XI.

It would seem United have identified the man to take care of one of them, with Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane reportedly set to bolster their defensive options. In one sense it will have been a signing long in the making, given the club were supposedly close to buying him from Lens as a teenager only for Los Blancos to get the deal over the line in the end.

Although it took Varane a little time to truly establish himself at the Santiago Bernabeu, he's gone on to enjoy a hugely successful time in the Spanish capital, winning three LaLiga titles and four Champions League crowns, among a host of other trophies.

Below, Stats Perform delves into the Opta data to see how Varane might improve United and where else they could do with reinforcements.

 

Physical dominance is the key

There are some obvious strengths that Varane would bring to United at the back – chief among them is his pace, which they arguably don't have a great deal of at centre-back.

While Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire may not be considered painfully slow, neither boasts the same kind of speed as the Frenchman and that would undoubtedly be a considerable asset for United.

Recent reports have suggested Solskjaer wants to play more attack-minded football in 2021-22, and having a faster centre-back could be crucial in that sense.

In theory, it would allow United to play slightly higher up the pitch. While they didn't exactly defend deep in 2020-21, their average starting position of 42.3 metres from their own goal was deeper than six other teams – Varane's pace could potentially provide them with a little more security in a high line.

In terms of possession, there's not a great deal separating Varane and Lindelof, the man whose position is surely in doubt. The Sweden international averaged fractionally more successful passes (58.1 to 55.9) and accurate passes in the opposing half (17.81 to 17.77) per 90 minutes last season, but that could be a reflection of slightly differing styles of play implemented by the teams rather than ability.

Opta sequence data suggests they are similar as well. While Lindelof (14) may have been involved in four more goal-ending passing sequences, the expected goals (xG) value attached to Varane in those instances is actually higher (8.9 to 8.8), meaning the current United man's influence is likely being exaggerated by particularly good finishing from his team-mates.

Even their ball carrying tendencies aren't hugely different, though Lindelof does boast a greater average carry distance of 11.3m to 10.9m, while his average progress up the pitch of 5.7m is a minor improvement on the 5.4m posted by the Madrid man.

But it could be argued United don't need their right-sided centre-back to be forward-thinking all the time because that's one of Maguire's key strengths. If anything, having a dependable partner could allow for their captain to have even greater prominence going forward, as he may feel more relaxed about stepping up with better protection behind.

 

And that's where Varane could really shine as an upgrade on Lindelof. The Swede's effectiveness in physical duels has been routinely questioned since he joined from Benfica in 2017 – a prime example being when Mbaye Diagne bullied him as West Brom scored in their 1-1 draw with United in February.

While it's impossible to guarantee Varane wouldn't have also been dominated in that instance, he does have a better record in situations where physicality is important. In 2020-21, he won 2.4 aerial duels per game across all competitions compared to Lindelof's 1.8.

That equates to a 72.3 per cent success rate for Varane, as opposed to 59.4 for Lindelof. In fact, Maguire – the most dominant defender in that respect in the Premier League last season (100 duels or more) – only marginally edges the World Cup winner (72.9 per cent).

But when we broaden the comparison to encompass all duels, Varane comes out on top among all three of them (66.5 per cent). Maguire wins 63.8 per cent of those contests, whereas that drops to 53.1 per cent for Lindelof.

United fans have been crying out for a more physically dominant defender to partner Maguire, and in Varane they may have identified a centre-back to rival him in those stakes.

Is the Fred-McTominay axis necessary?

Centre-back certainly isn't the only area United fans would be eager to see an upgrade – there's little doubt they have room for growth in midfield, regardless of whether or not Paul Pogba leaves.

The Frenchman actually featured more from the left during the second half of 2020-21 and looked more comfortable out there with some creative freedom, rather than sitting behind Bruno Fernandes in the middle.

That meant Fred and Scott McTominay were, more often than not, the first-choice pairing at the base of the midfield.

Now, it must be said that both players have clearly improved significantly over the past couple of years and they do offer a lot to United in certain areas.

 

For instance, in the Premier League in 2020-21, Fred won possession more often than any other United player (228) and his 81 tackle attempts were only bettered by Aaron Wan-Bissaka (88). McTominay ranked fourth for tackles (51) and joint-second for fouls won (42), which speaks to his improved ability on the ball as well as a knack for relieving defensive pressure in transition.

But neither are particularly creative. Fred laid on 25 key passes with an expected assists (xA) value of 2.1, while McTominay created 17 chances that combined to an xA total of 0.7.

Of course, you can't expect every outfield player to offer creativity. In many cases a player's productivity – or lack of – is intrinsically linked to the role they're playing or system they're part of, and Fernandes has done a lot of the heavy lifting. But United are a side who generally have more of the ball than their opponents – do they need two 'destroyers'?

 

If Solskjaer is to implement a more forward-thinking setup in 2021-22, he would be wise to finally ditch the Fred-McTominay axis. More often than not, it comes across as extremely conservative.

 

But the caveat to that is Solskjaer's rather limited options. Donny van de Beek endured a pretty dreadful first season as he showed very little authority whenever he played, Pogba was more useful towards the left so his lack of work rate off the ball wasn't exposed, and Nemanja Matic just isn't athletic enough anymore even if he is still a talented ball-player.

Pressure now on Ole

Who's to say if another midfielder, Varane and Sancho will be enough to overthrow Manchester City while also holding off a Liverpool side who promise to be back with a vengeance and defending European champions Chelsea.

But such decisive addressing of the team's weak points should at least give Solskjaer the right tools to work with. It'll then be on him to prove conclusively he's the right man for the job, because further under-achieving with such a strong squad won't be tolerated for long, regardless of his new contract.

Jose Mourinho was sacked less than a year after signing his renewal in January 2018.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has signed a new three-year contract, the Premier League club announced on Saturday.

Solskjaer's United finished as runners-up to Manchester City in the 2020-21 Premier League season and reached the final of the Europa League, losing 11-10 on penalties to Villarreal.

United confirmed the Norwegian's new deal contained an option for a further year.

Solskjaer said: "Everyone knows the feeling I have for this club, and I am delighted to have signed this new contract. It is an exciting time for Manchester United, we have built a squad with a good balance of youth and experienced players that are hungry for success.

"I have a fantastic coaching team around me, and we are all ready to take that next step on our journey. Manchester United wants to be winning the biggest and best trophies and that's what we are all striving for. We have improved, both on and off the pitch, and that will continue over the coming seasons.

"I can't wait to get out in front of a packed Old Trafford and get this campaign started."

Former United striker Solskjaer took over from Jose Mourinho on a caretaker basis in December 2018, after the Portuguese boss was sacked, and was handed the job on a permanent basis three months later.

He committed to a three-year deal at the time and has now signed up to stay at Old Trafford.

There is change afoot at the club, with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward due to leave at the end of the year.

Woodward said Solskjaer had justified the club showing their faith in him with the extension.

"Ole and his staff have worked tirelessly putting the foundations in place for long-term success on the pitch," Woodward said.

"The results of that have become increasingly visible over the past two seasons and we are all looking forward to seeing this exciting team develop further in the years ahead.

"What is especially pleasing is the way this progress has been achieved with a blend of young, homegrown talent and top-class recruits, playing attacking football in the best traditions of Manchester United. We are more confident than ever that, under Ole's leadership, we are heading in the right direction."

Solskjaer has yet to win a trophy as boss of the Red Devils, or reach a major domestic cup final.

However, United have finished third and second in the league in his first two full seasons at the helm, guaranteeing lucrative Champions League income.

They finished five points ahead of third-placed Liverpool last term, losing just six of 38 domestic league games, albeit that was not enough to be competitive with City, who took the title by 12 points.

Their 2020-21 win percentage of 55.3 in the Premier League was the second highest United have achieved in a season since Alex Ferguson retired as manager in 2013, beaten only by the 65.8 per cent they managed under Mourinho when finishing second in the 2017-18 campaign.

The 73 league goals they scored was the highest United have tallied in the post-Ferguson era, with the team's 12 away wins in the top flight also the most they have mustered since the long-serving Scot stepped aside.

In fact, United have not lost away from Old Trafford in the Premier League since going down 2-0 to Liverpool in January 2020 – that is a run of 26 matches.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has signed a new three-year contract, the Premier League club announced on Saturday.

Daniil Medvedev says it is a "joke" that players do not have longer at changeovers but will not "cry about the heat" after coming through his Tokyo 2020 opener, while Novak Djokovic started at a canter as he looks to add the next step of a Golden Slam.

Representing the Russian Olympic Committee, Medvedev appeared fatigued at times in his 6-4 7-6 (10-8) triumph over Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik at the Ariake Tennis Park.

The conditions in the Japanese capital were sweltering on Saturday but Novak Djokovic was able to keep his cool in coasting to a 6-2 6-2 win against Hugo Dellien.

MEDVEDEV CALLS FOR MORE TIME

Medvedev, who saved three of four break points and now has a 3-0 head-to-head record over Bublik, was pretty pointed about what he feels should be done about the heat.

"Like they do in Mexico, the matches maybe should start at six (pm) because the heat actually gets much, much lighter. We all try to practise at six," said Olympics debutant Medvedev, who next plays Sumit Nagal.

"The fact that we have only one minute between changeovers is a joke. If you ask, let's say 200 tennis players that are here, I think 195 will tell you that one minute is a joke. It should be 1:30.

"But you have to play, that's the Olympics, you go for the medal. You're not here to cry about the heat. It was really tough for both of us. We talked about this after the match on the court. It was unbelievably hot. But you need to get through it."

Fellow Russian athlete Aslan Karatsev (11) defeated Tommy Paul 6-3 6-2 to set up a meeting with Jeremy Chardy, while Lorenzo Sonego (13), Ugo Humbert (14), Fabio Fognini (15) and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (16) all progressed.

 

DJOKOVIC UP AND RUNNING

Since winning bronze in Beijing 13 years ago, Djokovic has not had the best of luck at the Olympics – losing in 2012 and 2016 to Juan Martin del Potro on both occasions.

But with a host of big hitters from the ATP absent – including Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal – Djokovic is the overwhelming favourite in Tokyo.

Only Steffi Graf in 1988 from either the WTA or ATP Tour has ever completed a sweep of all four slams and an Olympic gold in a calendar year, and Djokovic needs Olympic gold and victory at the US Open to match the feat.

He needed just 61 minutes here to beat Dellien of Bolivia.

MURRAY SCORES UPSET DOUBLES WIN

Andy Murray is the two-time defending men's singles champion in Tokyo, but struggles with injuries mean it would take a herculean effort to make it three in a row.

But he is also representing Great Britain in the doubles and together with Joe Salisbury upset French second seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 6-3 6-2 in their first time competing with one another.

Murray is not looking too far ahead, though, saying: "You take one match at a time, you know, so a lot of the players here are really motivated to play for their country. 

"This is such a rare opportunity for all of us and I think we all want to do well. So, yeah, just take it one match at a time."

Whatever the Boston Red Sox had in mind heading into Friday's showdown with Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees, it did not include their own starting pitcher leaving the game after recording just three outs.

Even after Eduardo Rodriguez was forced to leave the game in the second inning due to what the team described as migraine symptoms, the Red Sox had enough firepower to defeat their rivals 6-2 at Fenway Park.

After Rodriguez's unexpectedly early exit, Phillips Valdez stepped in to get out of a second-inning jam and strike out seven in three scoreless innings of relief on the day he was called up from the minor leagues.

Rafael Devers gave the home side the lead with a two-run homer off Cole in the fifth and added a three-run shot against Nestor Cortes in the seventh to put the game away. The latter was the 100th home run of Devers' career.

 

Mets blank Blue Jays

Pete Alonso accounted for all of the New York Mets' runs with a pair of homers and Tylor Megill had the best start of his career with six shutout innings in a 3-0 defeat of the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Colorado Rockies picked up their 10th road win in 44 games away from Coors Field this season, rallying to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-6 as Charlie Blackmon had three hits incluing the extra-inning homer that sealed the victory.

Nelson Cruz homered in his first game after being traded to Tampa Bay and Ji-Man Choi's three-run homer in the ninth blew open a close game as the Rays beat the Cleveland Indians 10-5.

 

Rangers pounded again

Kolby Allard surrendered a three-run homer to Kyle Tucker to cap a five-run third inning for the Houston Astros that helped send the Texas Rangers to a 7-3 loss, their 10th consecutive defeat. The Rangers have been outscored 73-18 in that span and have not held a lead for 86 straight innings. According to Stats Perform, that drought is the longest since the Atlanta Braves went 96 innings without a lead in April and May 1977.

 

Brewers slam White Sox

In a matchup of NL and AL Central division leaders, the Milwaukee Brewers got a boost from Tyrone Taylor's seventh-inning grand slam to down the Chicago White Sox 7-1.

 

Friday's results

Chicago Cubs 8-3 Arizona Diamondbacks
Tampa Bay Rays 10-5 Cleveland Indians
Philadelphia Phillies 5-1 Atlanta Braves
Boston Red Sox 6-2 New York Yankees
New York Mets 3-0 Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles 6-1 Washington Nationals
San Diego Padres 5-2 Miami Marlins
Cincinnati Reds 6-5 St Louis Cardinals
Kansas City Royals 5-3 Detroit Tigers
Minnesota Twins 5-4 Los Angeles Angels
Milwaukee Brewers 7-1 Chicago White Sox
Houston Astros 7-3 Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners 4-3 Oakland Athletics
Pittsburgh Pirates 6-4 San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies 9-6 Los Angeles Dodgers

White Sox at Brewers

A pair of All-Star pitchers go head-to-head as Carlos Rodon and the Chicago White Sox (58-39) continue their series against Corbin Burnes and the Milwaukee Brewers (57-41).

The New Orleans Saints have long since enjoyed the benefit of continuity on offense in Sean Payton era, but in 2021 they will have to contend with some significant changes.

For the first time since the 2005 campaign, the Saints will begin a season with a quarterback not named Drew Brees as their starter.

Brees' retirement was regarded by some as overdue but, if his decision to ride off into the sunset was not viewed as a damaging one for New Orleans, the loss of the receiver with whom he had built a devastating rapport certainly is a significant blow.

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported on Friday that Michael Thomas is expected to miss the start of the season having undergone ankle ligament surgery in June.

Thomas was limited to just seven games last year because of persistent ankle injuries and the procedure to fix those problems will, at least in the opening weeks, rob the Saints' 2021 starting quarterback of a two-time first-team All-Pro who has blossomed from 2016 second-round pick into one of the most dependable wideouts in the NFL.

Renowned for his route-running and his proficiency in making contested catches, Thomas produced at a historic level in 2019.

He broke the single-season receptions record with 149, racking up a career-high 1,725 receiving yards at an average of 107.8 per game.

Per Stats Perform data, Thomas registered a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup with a defender on a play where he is targeted regardless of whether the ball is catchable, on 76.1 per cent of his 184 targets.

That was the fourth-highest rate among wide receivers in the NFL. Only one player who finished above him, Corey Davis (69), had even 50 targets.

Thomas was tied for the second-most burn yards per route, trailing only Stefon Diggs (3.9) with an average of 3.6.

He got open on 83.2 per cent of his targets, though he did so with an average depth of target of 8.1 yards, illustrating the Saints' dependence on shorter passes in the latter stages of Brees' career.

Thomas will now miss out on the chance to quickly develop an even better understanding with the two quarterbacks, Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill, vying to be Brees' successor.

The frustration of that for the Saints will be two-fold. Winston's aggressiveness -- he was second in the NFL in air yards per attempt (10.7) in his last season as a starter with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019 -- could unlock Thomas' potential as a downfield receiver to a greater extent than Brees did.

Meanwhile, Thomas' dependability would be a significant aid to an interception-prone quarterback or to a passer in Hill whose only four pro starts came last season.

Instead of enjoying those possible benefits, with Thomas on the sideline, Payton and the Saints have the imposing challenge of maintaining their offensive consistency without a Hall of Fame quarterback and without their All-Pro wide receiver.

The Saints are used to life among the NFL's offensive elite, but with the two most important parts of the equation on that side of the ball out of the picture, at least for the start of 2021, they face being removed from the top table.

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