Inter Milan have their eye on a Premier League forward. 

With Romelu Lukaku heading back to England, the Nerazzurri are eyeing Anthony Martial.

However, Manchester United do not appear willing to let him go.

 

TOP STORY - UNITED WANT TO KEEP MARTIAL

Inter Milan want Anthony Martial to bolster their attack, according to multiple reports, but it does not sound like he is available. 

The Mail claims United are prepared to reject a £50million offer for the 25-year-old, who is still easing his way back in after injuring his knee in March.

Martial is under contract until 2024, with an option for an additional year at Old Trafford, so there is no urgency for United to move him on. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Meanwhile, Edin Dzeko's move from Roma to Inter is "imminent" according to Fabrizio Romano, with the 35-year-old set to sign through to 2023. 

- United and Arsenal have interest in Bayern Munich midfielder Corentin Tolisso, according to a Bild report, with Juventus and West Ham also rumoured to be possibilities for the Fran. 

- Bild also says Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton are eyeing Borussia Monchengladbach's Denis Zakaria

- Rennes midfielder Eduardo Camavinga is on United's radar but FootMercato reports Paris Saint-Germain could swoop for the 18-year-old despite a need to balance the books following Lionel Messi's addition.

- Leicester City and Sevilla could be set to bid for Schalke defender Ozan Kabak, according to Calciomercato.

- Veteran goalkeeper Sergio Romero is set to join Granada on a free transfer, as per Romano. 

- Everton are considering a move for 24-year-old Antwerp right-back Aurelio Buta, the Sun reports, saying the Belgian club want £3m. 

Marcus Rashford revealed he is "a little sore" but "feeling good" after undergoing shoulder surgery that will see him miss the start of the 2021-22 season.

Manchester United confirmed Rashford would have to undergo an operation to resolve a longstanding issue with his left shoulder, having played through the pain for much of the previous campaign.

The England international – who was part of Gareth Southgate's squad for Euro 2020 – had the procedure last Friday. While his club have not made it clear how long he will be out, reports have suggested it could be a 12-week recovery process.

However, Rashford appeared in good spirits on Tuesday as he provided a fitness update on Twitter.

"Thank you for all the well wishes. I had my surgery on Friday morning and everything went very well," he wrote to accompany a picture of him relaxing in a chair with his feet up.

"A little sore but other than that I'm feeling good. Hope you're all having a great day!"

United open their Premier League campaign with a home game against Leeds United on Saturday.

Rashford scored 11 goals in the competition last term, helping Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's squad finish second to Manchester City. He also scored twice as the Red Devils made the Europa League final, albeit they missed out on securing the trophy when losing to Villarreal on penalties.

There was also shoot-out disappointment for the 23-year-old with his country in Euro 2020 too, Rashford one of three England players to miss in the Wembley final defeat to Italy.

Since Solskjaer's first match in charge in December 2018, Victor Lindelof (10,289 minutes) is the only player to feature more regularly for the Red Devils than Rashford (9,671 minutes) across all competitions.

Still, United are not short of attacking options in his absence. Rashford's international colleague Jadon Sancho has arrived in the close-season, with the former Borussia Dortmund forward undergoing his first training session with the United squad on Monday.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi is a free agent after his time with Barcelona officially ended.

The Argentina international has been heavily linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi is yet to declare his intentions and unlikely to confirm his next move until later this week at the earliest.

TOP STORY - MAN UTD CONSIDERS LAST-MINUTE MESSI MOVE

Manchester United have entered the race for free agent Messi and are considering a late offer to pip PSG, claims the Daily Star.

Messi's exit from Barcelona was confirmed over the weekend, although the 34-year-old refused to declare his next destination amid strong links with PSG.

The report claims United are considering an opportunistic bid, with competition still swirling for Messi's signature and his PSG move unlikely to be progressed until later this week.

However, Ole is reporting that Messi will be in Paris on Tuesday, with the PSG deal almost done.

 

ROUND-UP

- AS claims that Messi's imminent move to Paris Saint-Germain could signal a transfer swoop from Real Madrid for Kylian Mbappe. PSG and Mbappe appear to have been drifting apart in recent times, with the France international opting not to extend his contract due to expire in 2022.

- Messi's imminent move means PSG have ended their interest in signing Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba,  according to Le Parisien. The France international's agent Mino Raiola had opened talks with PSG about a switch and Pogba was keen on the move but no offer was made.

- Chelsea and Roma have agreed to Tammy Abraham's transfer terms with the move subject to the player's approval, reports Gianluca Di Marzio. This is part of a cascade of moves as Chelsea are set to land Romelu Lukaku from the Nerazzurri, with Roma striker Edin Dzeko headed to Inter.

- Lyon have submitted a bid for Liverpool's Swiss attacker Xherdan Shaqiri, claims L'Equipe. Shaqiri was largely a bit-part player at Liverpool last season.

- Liverpool are also looking to add to their squad as they eye a move for young Belgian talent Jeremy Doku from Rennes, according to Voetbal 24.

On August 9, 2016, Manchester United completed a deal that was expected to transform them back into title regulars.

Paul Pogba – who had left United in 2012 – arrived in an £89.3million (€105m) deal from Juventus, a then-world record transfer fee.

Five years on, Pogba seems to be at something of a crossroads in not just his United career, but as a player altogether.

Like in 2016, Pogba heads into the 2021-22 season on the back of an impressive European Championship with France.

Unlike in 2016, Les Bleus failed to go deep in the competition, dropping out in the last 16 stage to Switzerland.

That game in June perhaps provided the perfect summary of Pogba the player. A global superstar in his own right, the 28-year-old has perhaps never hit the heights his talent suggested, or at least not on a consistent basis.

An exquisite long-range strike put France 3-1 up against Switzerland, yet it was Pogba who dawdled on the ball and was robbed of possession as Les Bleus contributed to their own downfall in Bucharest.

But just how has Pogba fared in the five years since he arrived back at Old Trafford, and what could come next?

 

HIS UNITED RECORD

Pogba has made 199 appearances in all competitions for United in his second spell at the club, with Marcus Rashford (252), David de Gea (216) and Anthony Martial (208) playing more games in that time.

Indeed, only De Gea and Rashford have played more minutes than Pogba's 15,708. While he has struggled at times with niggling injuries, he has more often than not been consistently available throughout his time at Old Trafford, with De Gea and Rashford the two players to start more games than the former Juve star (174).

Pogba has played 134 times in the Premier League since 2016, helping United to 73 victories –  a win percentage of 54.5 per cent.

He has missed 56 league games, with United's win percentage dropping down to 50 per cent in those matches, underlying that he is perhaps more crucial than some of his critics would suggest.

It has to be said, however, that Bruno Fernandes' arrival in 2020 did see Pogba take a back seat.

The Portugal playmaker has already netted more goals (40) in all competitions than Pogba (38), in 119 fewer appearances, though 21 of Fernandes' goals have come from the penalty spot.

Rashford, with 39, is the only United player to record more assists than Pogba, who has teed up as many as he has scored, while the Frenchman's 301 chances created is a team-high, 66 clear of second-placed Rashford.

Pogba ranks in the top three for dribbles attempted (624), with 393 of these being successful, displaying his ability to carry the ball through the thirds, and his total of 11,723 passes is way clear of Nemanja Matic in second (9,849).

 

PARIS FOR PAUL?

With just 12 months left on his contract, talks of a move away for the Frenchman at the end of his deal continue – Paris Saint-Germain his most likely destination, given their reported interest last year.

PSG already have a wealth of midfield options, though, including former team-mate Ander Herrera, Euro 2020 winner Marco Verratti and Leandro Paredes.

Pogba completed 1595 passes last term, yet the PSG trio, along with Idrissa Gueye, averaged out at 2126 successful attempts – perhaps aided by their domination on the ball in Ligue 1.

Despite this, only Paredes (322) completed more passes in the final third than the United midfielder's 282, suggesting a different dimension Pogba could bring to Mauricio Pochettino's midfield.

Pogba also won 255 duels, recovering possession 242 times when doing his defensive duties for Solskjaer. Idrissa Gueye, PSG's best performer in this area, only managed 201 successful duels and 208 recoveries in two games more.

However, Verratti, who featured in 11 fewer games than Pogba, was victorious in 233 duels and made 174 recoveries  – could the pair form Pochettino's pivot next season?

While Pochettino now also has Georginio Wijnaldum, who made 262 recoveries albeit in six more games for Liverpool last year, to call upon, Pogba would add undoubted quality to the French giants in every midfield aspect.

Lionel Messi has officially left Barcelona following Sunday's press conference and farewell.

Paris Saint-Germain have been widely linked with a move for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

The Argentina international admitted that a move to PSG was a possibility but said nothing was confirmed.

TOP STORY - MONDAY PSG MEDICAL FOR MESSI

Messi is scheduled to have a medical with PSG on Monday before he completes his free transfer move from Barcelona, according to L'Equipe.

The Argentina international bid farewell to Barcelona on Sunday and the Parisians appear the frontrunners to sign him.

The report says PSG and Messi have almost agreed to all the final details of the contract, with ESPN claiming he will be unveiled at a special ceremony at the Eiffel Tower this week.

 

ROUND-UP

- Inter are targeting Anthony Martial as they look to replace Romelu Lukaku, who is expected to join Chelsea, reports The Sun. Manchester United are believed to be ready to sell him for £50million. Inter want Martial initially on a season-long loan.

- Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Jose Mourinho's Roma are plotting a move to sign French striker Alexandre Lacazette from Arsenal. The stumbling block may be that Lacazette wants to play Champions League football, which Roma cannot offer this season.

- Arsenal are lining up a move for Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic if they cannot land Tammy Abraham from Chelsea, reports Gianluca Di Marzio. The Serbian scored 21 league goals for Fiorentina last term.

- Arsenal and Newcastle have agreed to a fee of £25m for English midfielder Joe Willock, claims Sky Sports. Willock spent the second half of last season on loan with the Magpies.

- The Sun claims that Southampton are trying to lure Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain back to the club on loan from Liverpool.

 

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer trimmed his squad ahead of Raphael Varane's arrival by shipping out Axel Tuanzebe on loan to Aston Villa on Sunday.

The announcement of Tuanzebe's switch for a season-long stay at Villa comes as United prepare to finalise the signing of France centre-back Varane from Real Madrid.

The Varane deal looked set to push Tuanzebe further towards the fringes of the Red Devils squad, and the 23-year-old will have more obvious first-team prospects at Villa Park, where he has spent two previous loan stints.

Tuanzebe's spells at Villa came in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, before he looked to establish himself in the United first-team squad under Solskjaer.

Although Tuanzebe has left Old Trafford for now, he has signed a one-year extension to his United contract that had been due to expire at the end of the new season.

It means he has committed until the end of June 2023, with United having an option for a further 12 months, and Solskjaer will hope a full season of action with Villa sees the versatile defender fulfil the potential he has shown.

Villa said in a statement: "Aston Villa is delighted to announce the loan signing of Axel Tuanzebe from Manchester United. The defender returns to Villa Park on a season-long arrangement.

"Tuanzebe was a key member of the squad that helped Villa clinch promotion back to the Premier League in 2019."

The English defender started four Premier League games for United last season and played just 402 minutes in the top flight

United, in announcing the deal, said: "Having endured a difficult campaign last time out due to a couple of injuries, the highly rated centre-back will use this loan as a vital opportunity to assert himself and make an impression."

The signing of Varane is expected to go through in the coming days, with Solskjaer recently telling United's club website "paperwork" matters were holding up its completion.

Last season's Premier League runners-up begin the 2021-22 campaign with a home clash against Leeds United on Saturday, August 14.

England international Kieran Trippier has expressed his desire to return from Spain this off-season.

The Atletico Madrid full-back has spent two seasons in Spain, helping Diego Simeone's side win LaLiga in 2020-21.

A former Burnley and Tottenham defender, Trippier has been pursued by Manchester United who are yet to agree a fee with Atletico.

TOP STORY – ARSENAL ENTER TRIPPIER RACE

Arsenal have joined United in targeting Kieran Trippier, reports The Sun.

The Gunners see Trippier as Hector Bellerin's replacement, with the Spaniard having been linked with Inter as he aims to make a move away from north Lonndon.

Atletico are demanding €40million (£34million) for 30-year-old Trippier.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Sunday Mirror are reporting that Harry Kane will need to force through his transfer from Tottenham to Manchester City, after Spurs chairman Daniel Levy's claim the England captain is not for sale. City are reportedly prepared to wait and start the new season without a recognised striker.

- Inter are closing in on a deal for Atalanta's Colombian forward Duvan Zapata, with an offer of €30m on the table, reports Cesar Luis Merlo. Zapata is seen as a replacement for Romelu Lukaku, with the Belgium striker set to exit for Chelsea.

- Atalanta are ramping up their move to sign Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham as part of the three-club shuffle. Fabrizio Romano claims the Atalanta board will meet Chelsea in the next 48 hours, with a price tag of around €40m to be discussed.

- Paris Saint-Germain have held advanced talks with the agent of Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly about a move, reports Foot Mercato.

- Burnley are struggling to complete a move to sign RB Leipzig's Ademola Lookman on loan, according to The Sun.

Raphael Varane is expected to formally complete his transfer to Manchester United in the coming days as he waits to undergo a medical.

United reached an agreement to sign the centre-back from Real Madrid last month, with the deal reportedly worth £42.7million (€50m).

Varane, who was in action with France at Euro 2020, said farewell to his former Madrid team-mates at the end of July, but could not complete a medical until he had isolated upon his arrival in the United Kingdom, due to current COVID-19 travel restrictions.

With both Varane and fellow new arrival Jadon Sancho absent, United still cruised to a 4-0 rout of Everton in their final pre-season friendly before kicking off their Premier League campaign against Leeds United next week.

And Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed Varane's deal will be finalised as soon as the 28-year-old has completed his period in quarantine.

"With Raphael, the medical has to be done. He's isolating at the moment," Solskjaer told reporters after the win over Everton.

"He had to wait for visas, so unfortunately that took a few more days than expected but we've got to follow the protocols and the rules."

Solskjaer also revealed Sancho, who has been given an extended break after helping England to the Euro 2020 final, will report for training on Monday, so could be in contention to face Leeds.

"Jadon is in on Monday, hopefully in decent nick and he can be involved," Solskjaer added.

Mason Greenwood, Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Dalot were on target against Everton.

United's preparations for the game were hindered somewhat by a coronavirus outbreak within the squad, leading to the cancellation of a planned friendly against Preston North End last week.

Jesse Lingard has tested positive and is a doubt to face Leeds, while United are taking a cautious approach with Dean Henderson.

The goalkeeper has missed the entirety of United's pre-season after testing positive for COVID-19 following his return to training and though he no longer has the illness, Henderson is still suffering from the after-effects.

"Jesse feels okay, hopefully it'll stay that way," Solskjaer said. "But when you get a positive test you've just got to isolate even if you feel well.

"Dean was positive early on. He's negative in his testing but he has not felt as energised and sharp as he normally has done, so he still feels fatigued and is feeling the after-effects.

"You never know. You've seen so many effects of this virus, he's still got a few days to rest and then we'll check up on him."

Bruno Fernandes' sublime free-kick was the highlight of Manchester United's rout against Everton, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side rounded off their pre-season with a 4-0 victory.

Fernandes curled in a sensational effort from 25 yards out to put United three ahead in the 29th minute of Saturday's friendly at Old Trafford.

A large crowd was treated to a superb first-half display from United, albeit Rafael Benitez evidently has work to do heading into his first season as Everton boss.

Jordan Pickford, making his first appearance of pre-season after helping England to the Euro 2020 final, was partly at fault for United's eighth-minute opener – Lucas Digne's header catching Everton's goalkeeper cold, with Mason Greenwood on hand to pick up the scraps.

Pickford was beaten again seven minutes later, another returning England international Harry Maguire powering home a brilliant header home from Luke Shaw's corner. 

With Fernandes having compounded Everton's misery, Solskjaer was able to make plenty of changes in the second half as he prepares for a tough start to the Premier League campaign against Leeds United.

It was one of those substitutions – Diogo Dalot – who capped things off with the final action of the game, his header looping in over Asmir Begovic. 

Andros Townsend hit the crossbar and Demarai Gray missed a golden chance as Everton toiled before Dalot's header.

There was no United debut for Jadon Sancho, while Raphael Varane's move from Real Madrid is still being finalised. 

The Toffees face Southampton in ex-Liverpool manager Benitez's first competitive game in charge.

Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard is isolating after contracting coronavirus, the club announced on Saturday.

United were preparing to face Everton in a friendly at Old Trafford in front of an expected crowd of 55,000 and confirmed starts for captain Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial.

But the club added: "Unfortunately, Jesse Lingard is unavailable after testing positive for COVID-19. He is isolating in line with government and Premier League guidelines."

Lingard enjoyed an outstanding loan spell with West Ham last season, scoring nine goals in 16 Premier League appearances.

The England international netted on average once every 158 minutes, the 11th-best rate in the division among players with multiple goals.

Lingard, who also provided four assists last term, has returned to the first-team fold at United in pre-season.

He posted on his Twitter page on Saturday: "Really gutted to have tested positive after a good pre-season.

"Luckily I feel fine and will follow the guidelines and be back with the boys on pitch very soon! Thank you for your support."

Where will Lionel Messi land?

Barcelona's shock announcement of his departure set rumours flying.

Will it be Paris, Manchester or somewhere else?

 

TOP STORY - MESSI ON THE MARKET

Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are rumoured to be the top suitors for Lionel Messi.

The French giants have already made contact with Messi's representatives, according to Fabrizio Romano, and are seen in many quarters as the favourites to land the Argentine forward.

It remains to be seen wherher PSG can take on Messi after making several major moves during the transfer window, while City may be in a similarly difficult situation after finalising their £100million deal for Jack Grealish on Thursday.

A reunion with Pep Guardiola may still be a possibility, though, especially if Tottenham refuse to engage in talks around a Harry Kane deal.

Major League Soccer could also be a possibility, though Messi is expected to remain in Europe for at least a few more years.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United have not given up on a move for Kieran Trippier, though they have not come close to Atletico Madrid's £34million demands for the England international, The Sun says.

- West Ham are in talks with Fiorentina for centre-back Nikola Milenkovic, Fabrizio Romano reports, with the Serie A side eyeing Matija Nastasic of Schalke as a replacement.

- Arsenal have bid £17m for Lazio striker Joaquin Correa, claims Corriere dello Sport.

- Juventus are interested in bringing back Barcelona's Miralem Pjanic on either a loan or a permanent deal, says Calciomercato.

- Roma are lining up a £21m bid for Fulham midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, says Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Crystal Palace are among multiple clubs hoping to lure Adam Armstrong from Blackburn, with the Daily Mail saying they are favoured ahead of Norwich City and Southampton.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer understands the expectations at Old Trafford as well as anyone, and the Manchester United manager is leaning into them with the start of the season just over a week away. 

Now ready to move past a campaign that saw United finish a distant second to Manchester City in the league and fall to Villarreal in the Europa League final, Solskjaer is pleased with club's two key additions in the transfer window and optimistic about their chances this time around. 

With higher expectations comes more pressure, but after seeing his contract extended last month, Solskjaer is confident the club are on the right path. 

"You feel under pressure all the time," Solskjaer told ESPN. "At this club, with this responsibility, it's not just clinging onto your job; it's about the responsibility that's in my hands.

"We've got millions of fans, the players, the club, the staff... and the responsibility is on getting results. As long as you get results and improve, that's what I felt that we've improved all the time. As long as you can see improvement.

"We've gone from third to second [in the Premier League] and a lot closer in points, we've gone from three semi-finals to a final and one kick away from winning so it's about taking the next step now. That's the challenge."

Solskjaer said he expects United to enter the final month of the season in contention for their first league title since 2013 and hopefully deep into another cup run as well. 

After adding Jadon Sancho and agreeing a deal in principal for Raphael Varane, the manager believes United can move past Manchester City with "maximum effort, maximum season and maximum sacrifice" from everyone at Old Trafford. 

Even that would not guarantee a trophy, particularly given the level of competition. 

"For me, it feels like this season coming up is one of the strongest Premier League seasons," he said.

"Of course it's been City and Liverpool fighting it out for a few years. I feel us and Chelsea have spent well and worked well and we should look at ourselves as potential challengers, but it's potential.

"The first game is the most important, then the first block of games, and then keeping that momentum."

After a slow start to the last Premier League campaign, Solskjaer is counting on United getting out of the gate at a better pace, particularly once Sancho and Varane are integrated into the squad. 

While the high-profile newcomers will be the centre of attention early on, Solskjaer is pleased that the dressing room is full of players he believes are ready to handle the unique challenges of playing for United. 

"We want to be successful," he said. "We want to start winning trophies and we've laid the foundation, and I feel now that the foundation has been laid on the training ground, in the transfer market and with the work that the coaches and the staff that everyone has been doing with the players.

"I think we've made [the players] more robust and ready to face the challenges of a Man United player. That's not the same as playing in any other team and I think everyone that's been here or arrived here, they know the demands and expectations are higher."

Solskjaer singled out the addition of Edinson Cavani to the mix as a key factor in building that atmosphere, saying the Uruguayan has "shown the way for many" in his time with the club.

He also thought back to his own former team-mates like Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane and Gary Neville as players who embraced the situation.

"There are so many good players out there, but some of them don't handle the pressure," he said. "Some do. Some thrive under pressure, some enjoy it. ...

"You have to enjoy it -- if you don't enjoy being a Man United player, you can play somewhere mid-table."

Pep Guardiola's quest to conquer Europe and continue domestic domination with Manchester City has seen him sign Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish in a deal reportedly worth £100million.

Grealish becomes the most expensive signing in Premier League history after being prised away from Villa Park, where he had spent his entire career and captained his boyhood club since 2019.

The England international, who helped the Three Lions to a first major final appearance in 55 years at Euro 2020, has regularly been linked away from Villa but committed his future after rumoured interest from Manchester United, signing a long-term contract in 2020.

In the 2020-21 campaign, the 25-year old contributed with six league goals and 10 assists, while also creating 81 chances across 26 appearances for the Villains.

Dean Smith will no longer have the playmaker to call upon, though, as Guardiola has demolished the previous Premier League transfer record – set by Paul Pogba's return to United in 2016 – to secure Grealish's services.

After City's record-breaking acquisition of Grealish, Stats Perform looks at the other most expensive signings in English top-flight history.

PAUL POGBA – Juventus to Manchester United, £89.3m

Jose Mourinho's first transfer window with the Red Devils saw the France midfielder return to Old Trafford in a then-world record transfer.

Since making that reunion in 2016-17, only Marcus Rashford (78) and Anthony Martial (64) have been involved in more Premier League goals for United than Pogba (57 – 28 goals, 29 assists), while the midfielder has created more top-flight chances (207) than any other player for the club during this period.

He scored and assisted one apiece for France at Euro 2020, while only Antoine Griezmann (10) created more chances than Pogba's eight for Les Bleus.

HARRY MAGUIRE – Leicester City to Manchester United £80m

United broke the world transfer record for a defender in 2002 when they signed Rio Ferdinand for £30m and 17 years later they acquired Maguire for more than double that fee.

The centre-back endured a tricky start to life in Manchester, however, his quality eventually shone through as he strung together 71 consecutive appearances for United.

Despite missing the last four games of the 2020-21 campaign, Maguire ranked second in the Premier League for aerial challenges won (135) and fifth for successful duels (203) before featuring prominently at Euro 2020 for England.

 

VIRGIL VAN DIJK – Southampton to Liverpool, £75m

Jurgen Klopp, albeit under contentious circumstances, convinced Van Dijk to move away from St. Mary's Stadium in December 2017.

The commanding Netherlands captain guided Liverpool to their sixth Champions League success in 2018-19 before playing a key role as the Reds ended their 30-year wait for an English title.

Van Dijk's absence severely affected their Premier League defence last term. Klopp's men have won 75.8 per cent of their league matches with Van Dijk in the side since his debut in January 2018, a figure that falls to 54.3 per cent in his absence.

 

ROMELU LUKAKU – Everton to Manchester United £75m

The Belgium forward never settled in at Old Trafford and left after two seasons, despite converting 42 times in 96 games for United.

Lukaku scored twice in United's stunning Champions League last-16 comeback victory over Paris Saint-Germain in 2019 before completing a switch to Inter, where he helped Antonio Conte's men to their first Scudetto since 2009-10.

During the title-winning campaign, Lukaku shunned doubts over his finishing as he converted almost one in four chances to bag 24 goals and improved his link-up play to form an effective partnership with Lautaro Martinez. Since his Inter debut only five players have scored more goals in Europe's top five leagues than Lukaku (64).

He has now been linked with a return to former club Chelsea in a deal which could shatter Grealish's new record.

 

JADON SANCHO – Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United £73m

After leaving Manchester City in 2017 for Borussia Dortmund, Sancho found himself signing for the red half of Manchester four years later. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pursued Sancho for multiple transfer windows and finally got his man in the wake of England's Euro 2020 shoot-out heartbreak.

Since the start of the 2018-19 campaign, the 21-year-old has been directly involved in the joint-most goals of any English player across the top five European leagues (78), while he has played fewer minutes than Harry Kane – also on 78 – in this period.

Sancho also became the first Englishman to reach at least 10 assists for three consecutive seasons in Europe's top-five leagues since David Beckham, who achieved the feat between 1997-98 and 2000-01 for Alex Ferguson's United.

Manchester United have allowed talented youngster Facundo Pellistri to re-join LaLiga side Deportivo Alaves on loan for the 2021-22 season.

Pellistri, 19, joined United from Penarol in his native Uruguay last October before moving to Alaves in January for the second half of 2020-21 in search of first-team football.

He featured 12 times in Spain's top flight, five appearances coming as a starter, with Alaves ultimately finishing 16th and avoiding relegation.

Pellistri returned to Old Trafford for pre-season and enjoyed a fairly prominent role with many of United's attacking players yet to return from international duty.

He scored a lovely goal that turned out to be the winner in the 2-1 friendly victory over Wayne Rooney's Derby County, before teeing up Jesse Lingard against QPR and also appearing for the best part of 30 minutes at home to Brentford.

His performances led some fans to suggest Pellistri could be a viable option in the United first-team in 2021-22, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer always hinted another loan move was likely – with Jadon Sancho, Mason Greenwood and Amad Diallo all seemingly ahead of him in the pecking order on the right flank, a temporary departure has come to pass.

The teenager will hope to have slightly more of an impact on the pitch at Alaves in 2021-22 than last season, however.

While his talent on the ball was obvious, his 2.5 successful dribbles per game more than any other player in the squad between January 1 and the end of the season, creatively he struggled to be influential.

Pellistri only averaged 0.33 chances created per 90 minutes – among the outfield Alaves players to feature for more than 20 minutes after January 1, only six players were less effective at picking out key passes.

Louis van Gaal has returned to football management after being named as the new head coach of the Netherlands.

The 69-year-old, who announced his retirement in 2019, is back for a third spell in charge of the national team as their World Cup qualifying campaign prepares to resume next month.

His first appointment since leaving Manchester United back in 2016, he takes over following the departure of Frank de Boer, who stepped down after the Netherlands' last-16 exit from Euro 2020.

Van Gaal, who will be assisted by Danny Blind and Henk Fraser with Frans Hoek serving as goalkeeping coach, was first in charge between 2000 and 2002 but stepped down after failing to secure qualification for the World Cup.

He returned for a second stint in 2012, guiding his nation to third place at the World Cup in Brazil two years later before departing for Old Trafford.

Van Gaal's first match back in charge sees the Dutch travel to Norway on September 1 in a World Cup qualifier.

Currently second in Group G with six points from three matches, the Netherlands then play back-to-back home games against Montenegro and table-topping Turkey.

Van Gaal said: "Dutch football has always been close to my heart and the national coach is, in my opinion, a key position for moving our football forward. 

"Moreover, I consider it an honour to coach the Dutch national team. There is little time until the next qualifiers, which are immediately crucial for participation in the World Cup. 

"The focus is, therefore, 100 per cent on the players and the approach. After all, that's what I'm assigned to do. It's good to be back. 

"I have already spoken to a number of players and together with the KNVB (the Dutch Football Association), the technical staff has been assembled. I'm really looking forward to getting the job done together."

Nico-Jan Hoogma, KNVB director, added: "In the coming months, we will be tasked with qualifying for the World Cup. For this, we have a minimum preparation period. 

"In view of this job, we were looking for a coach with exceptional qualities, who can also anticipate quickly. 

"With his experience and track record at the highest level, we have that coach in our eyes with Louis van Gaal. The contact was made quickly and we have spoken many times since then. 

"In the last few days, we have been able to carefully put the finishing touches together. We are happy that Louis is taking on this job."

 

A league winner in three different countries, having secured domestic titles while at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Van Gaal has enjoyed a hugely successful managerial career.

He also won the Champions League with Ajax in 1995, then guided Bayern to the final 15 years later.

Van Gaal won 27 of the 44 games he oversaw during his first two spells with the Netherlands, drawing 13 and losing just four.

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