Chelsea are in the market for a striker and are seemingly keen on one of their former players.

Romelu Lukaku helped Inter to the Serie A title last term and is seemingly in Chelsea's sights.

The Belgium international scored four goals at Euro 2020 after netting 24 times in Serie A.

TOP STORY - CHELSEA REBUFFED IN LUKAKU BID

Chelsea have had their initial bid worth approximately £86 million (€100m) for Lukaku rejected by Inter, reports The Sun.

The Blues made their transfer offer with defender Marcos Alonso also involved, but the Italian champions are demanding a £100m (€117m) fee.

Lukaku is said to be Chelsea's number one target after failing in their bid to lure Erling Haaland away from Borussia Dortmund.

 

ROUND-UP

Real Madrid are still expecting Kylian Mbappe to let his Paris Saint-Germain contract expire at the end of the 2021-22 season and join Los Blancos for free, according to AS.

- The Daily Star reports Manchester City and Tottenham are still unable to reach agreement in negotiations over Harry Kanewith £40m separating them currently.

- AS claims Barcelona remain in the box seat to sign highly sought-after Atletico Madrid star Saul Niguez despite their financial challenges. Saul has been chased by Premier League trio LiverpoolManchester United and Chelsea.

Atalanta are set to win the race to sign Juventus defender Merih Demiral, claims Sky Deutschland, with Cristian Romero looking likely to join Tottenham. Bundesliga pair Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen were also interested in the Turkey international.

Roma head coach Jose Mourinho has switched his attention from Arsenal's Granit Xhaka to Dortmund's Thomas Delaney, according to Bild.

Dean Henderson will miss Manchester United's training camp in Scotland this week as he is struggling with "prolonged fatigue" after recently contracting coronavirus.

The 24-year-old, who will once again rival David de Gea for a regular starting spot this coming season, tested positive for COVID-19 three weeks ago.

Henderson has recovered from a hip injury that forced him to withdraw from England's Euro 2020 squad during the tournament but has yet to feature in United's three pre-season friendlies.

Former Sheffield United loanee Henderson's preparations for the 2021-22 campaign have now been further disrupted as he deals with the after-effects of coronavirus.

A statement on United's official website on Monday read: "Dean Henderson will miss Manchester United's Scotland training camp while he continues his recovery from prolonged fatigue after contracting a COVID-19 infection three weeks ago.

"He is expected to be training again soon."

United have used new signing Tom Heaton and Lee Grant in their pre-season games to date, though De Gea joined up with the squad on Monday following a post-Euros break.

De Gea and Henderson shared goalkeeping duties last season, starting 26 and 13 Premier League matches respectively.

Spain international De Gea saved 60 of the 280 shots he faced in the Premier League in 2020-21 for a save percentage of 65.22, compared to 76.47 for Henderson (40 saves from 150 shots).

Henderson conceded 0.96 goals per 90 minutes in the competition last time out, meanwhile, a better return than the 1.25 let in by De Gea, albeit with the Spaniard playing double the number of matches.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side take on Everton at Old Trafford in their final pre-season match on Saturday, before facing Leeds United in their opening Premier League game on August 14.

Paul Pogba would have been scrutinised much more by the English media and fans if he had refused to attend training, according to former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand, after Harry Kane allegedly skipped Tottenham's Monday session.

Kane was expected back at Spurs to begin his pre-season preparations following a post-Euro 2020 break, but widespread media reports claim he did not show up.

Spurs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It has been suggested by some publications that Kane believes he has a gentleman's agreement with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy that would allow him to leave the club this month.

Kane, a product of Spurs' academy, hinted before Euro 2020 that he felt he needed to leave in order to win trophies, and he has been strongly linked with a move to Manchester City ever since.

But Ferdinand has seemingly been surprised by the neutral coverage of the situation, suggesting Pogba – a frequent target for criticism by certain sections of the English media – would have endured rougher treatment were he to behave similarly at United, with recent reports claiming he also wants out.

Writing on his official Twitter account, Ferdinand said: "Let Paul Pogba not turn up for Man Utd training and see how the English media and fans go mad!

"Helicopters and police forces [would be] out searching [for] his location immediately.

"And I'm not saying that Kane and his tactics to leave are wrong (if we are to believe what's being said). Harry wants trophies and he isn't getting any younger."

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher disagreed with Ferdinand's belief that Kane was not necessarily in the wrong if the reports were true, however.

Kane has scored more times in the Premier League (166) for Spurs than any other player, while only Sergio Aguero (184), Wayne Rooney (183) and Thierry Henry (175) have greater goal hauls for a single club than the 28-year-old.

And Carragher feels Kane – who signed a six-year contract in 2018 – could put his legacy at the club in jeopardy by trying to force a transfer.

"I disagree, it is wrong not to turn up for training," Carragher wrote in response to Ferdinand.

"We all know he wants to go and can totally understand why. But Harry should not ruin his name or relationship with the supporters who idolise him just to get the move. Spurs will always be HIS club."

Kane finished as the Premier League's top scorer with 23 goals in 2020-21.

He also set up 14 to become only the second player in the Premier League era to top the charts for both goals and assists in a single season, the other being Andy Cole for Newcastle United in 1993-94.

Kane then finished the Euros with four goals – only Cristiano Ronaldo and Patrik Schick (five each) managed more – to draw level with Gary Lineker as his nation's leading scorer at major tournaments.

Jack Grealish has been holidaying following Euro 2020, but it is now decision time on his club future.

Speculation has mounted over the past few days about a potential move to Manchester City.

City manager Pep Guardiola is a long-term admirer of Grealish, and a big-money bid has apparently been sanctioned by chairman Khaldoon Al-Mubarak.

TOP STORY - GREALISH SET FOR MONDAY TALKS WITH VILLA

Grealish has returned from his off-season holiday and will hold showdown talks with Aston Villa on Monday as a move to City looms, reports The Mirror.

Grealish has been linked with a £100million move to the English champions and is expected to inform Villa of his intention to leave.

Villa have reportedly offered Grealish a bumper new deal worth £200,000-a-week.

 

ROUND-UP

Tottenham have turned their attention to Wolves winger Adama Traore, according to the Daily Mail. Wolves reportedly want £45m for the Spain international, who would be re-acquainted with manager Nuno Espirito Santo. Goal claims Leeds United are also interested in Traore.

Atletico Madrid are preparing for Kieran Trippier to exit the club as links with Manchester United intensify, with the Spanish champions lining up a move for Roma's Alessandro Florenzi, claims AS.

Atletico are also pursuing Inter's Lautaro Martinez and have moved ahead of Arsenal in the race to sign the Argentina international, according to Tuttosport.

- Borussia Dortmund's Denmark international Thomas Delaney is being pursued SouthamptonNorwich City and Crystal Palace, reports Ruhr Nachrichten.

- ABC claims Real Madrid will offer forward Karim Benzema a new one-year contract extension.

The transfer window will be open for another month and Manchester United have already made two statement signings. That fact alone is something for fans to celebrate.

"We've scrambled before towards the end of the window and now I have to say we're in a good position," manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said after securing Jadon Sancho's arrival and a deal in principle for Raphael Varane before the end of July.

The issue of whether one of the world's richest and most successful sports franchises should celebrate making just two transfers is best saved for another time. The fact remains United made a mess of the majority of their recruitment drives before Solskjaer took charge in December 2018. Now, they look like having their best pre-season window since the transformative signing of Robin van Persie nine years ago, a deal that heralded their most recent Premier League title.

More signings could yet come before the deadline at the end of August – although this depends on sales - but United will almost certainly look stronger than last term when 2021-22 gets underway. Their bid to close the gap to champions Manchester City, make a decent fist of a Champions League run and win a first trophy since 2017... well, they all look a bit more promising than they did in late May, in that laboured Europa League final with Villarreal.

Off the pitch, Solskjaer has done some sterling work. Now comes the moment to get the Red Devils firing consistently on it. They are close to the top but, as a 12-point gap to City last season proves, not close enough. Solskjaer's tactical decisions could be the difference between another year of disappointment and a return to their perch atop English football.

SANCHO UNLEASHED

United had to play the long game to bring Sancho back to England, but it's ultimately proved cost-effective. Borussia Dortmund wanted over €100million guaranteed a year ago but sold Sancho in 2021 for a fee understood to be worth £72.9million (€85m), the fourth-highest in United's history.

There's a reason Solskjaer was prepared to be patient. He likes his forwards to be fast, direct and fearless, with spontaneous brilliance often encouraged over more systematic attacking patterns. In that regard, Sancho might just be the ideal Solskjaer signing.

Sancho's attacking output is fearsome. He scored 38 goals and provided 45 assists in 104 Bundesliga appearances for Dortmund; since his debut in October 2017, only Thomas Muller (91) and Robert Lewandowski (137) managed more direct goal involvements. In that time, Sancho also attempted 544 dribbles – 100 more than any other player in Germany's top flight – and completed 284 of them, again the most in the division.

But why stop at one dribble? Over the past four seasons, Sancho also leads the way for multi take-ons – times on the ball when he tried to beat more than one player – with 48, at least 14 more than anyone else in the Bundesliga. In that same period, United's best such performer was Anthony Martial with 39.

Sancho, then, is an optimal player for an attack where improvisation is key. His skill and daring on the ball could be critical to United finding a way through those low-block defences against which they can look notoriously laboured.

But to unleash Sancho to his fullest, Solskjaer must tweak the system.

MOVE ON FROM MCTOMIFRED

"As long as them two are playing in midfield for Manchester United, they will not be winning big trophies," former captain Roy Keane said of Fred and Scott McTominay after May's 4-2 home loss to Liverpool. So far, he's been proven correct.

Solskjaer has often favoured a double pivot of Fred and McTominay to screen the defence while allowing Bruno Fernandes creative freedom as the number 10. It's often worked well, particularly against stronger opposition where United have been happy to give up the ball: in 2020-21, they lost only two of the 21 league matches where both players started, averaging under a goal a game conceded. The problem is they only won 10 of those matches.

"Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles," was Ferguson's old adage. In favouring Fred and McTominay last season, Solskjaer focused on both and didn't quite master either. They were sometimes possession-based, sometimes counter-punching, but never entirely comfortable in either guise.

In 2020-21, United put together 562 sequences of more than 10 passes – a figure more than 300 behind champions City. They also ranked only fifth in the league for passes per sequence (4.14) and for build-up attacks (125). However, they were not masters of the quick counter, either: they managed 61 direct attacks last season, the eighth most in the division, and although they scored six times from fast breaks, those goals came from just 13 such attempts – amazingly, seven fewer than City.

United's attack was second only to City for goals scored, but it was still not as effective as it should have been. They finished last season with 392 open-play shots in the Premier League, only the fifth-highest in the competition. Their expected goals tally of 44 put them third, as did their actual goal count of 53, when own goals and penalties are excluded.

One option to sharpen up in the final third would be to abandon the 4-2-3-1 for a 4-3-3, allowing a more forward-thinking midfielder to join Fernandes in the middle. That could be Paul Pogba, but if the France star gets the move away he apparently wants, it is also a role that would suit Donny van de Beek, who underlined his determination to kick on from a poor first season in England by returning for pre-season with some serious extra muscle.

The 6-2 thrashing of Leeds United at Old Trafford showed the value of a midfielder breaking the lines – McTominay, in that case – and United's opener against their old rivals in August would be an ideal time to test the 4-3-3 Solskjaer is said to be pondering. With Fred as the patrolling defensive player – he won possession more often than any other United player (228) last term, and his 81 tackle attempts were only bettered by Aaron Wan-Bissaka (88) – Solskjaer could give licence to two attack-minded midfielders to support Sancho and fit-again Mason Greenwood, likely to start in place of the injured Marcus Rashford.

Of course, such a shift from the double defensive pivot puts the defence at greater risk. There will also still be games where more caution is warranted - key Champions League matches, or Manchester derbies. But Solskjaer may already have solved that problem.

VARANE-GUARD

Whatever certain pundits may think about the pitfalls of adapting to the Premier League, United look to have pulled off a masterstroke by signing Raphael Varane.

A World Cup winner, a four-time Champions League winner, a three-time LaLiga champion, Varane brings huge experience of success to a squad still short on trophy-lifting knowhow. The imposing France international would also, you'd expect, improve United's appalling record last season of conceding 14 goals from set-pieces, a tally surpassed only by Leeds (15) (Varane won 72.3 per cent of aerials in 2020-21; Victor Lindelof won just 59.4).

He will also add pace to a United defence that often looks cumbersome when Harry Maguire and Lindelof face direct runners – another reason why Solskjaer liked his double midfield screen. And that extra speed might also let United push further forward: their average starting position of 42.3 metres from their goal last season was deeper than six other sides.

A higher line would make attacking easier and perhaps keep the opposition shot count down. United faced 317 in 2020-21, more than Arsenal, Wolves, Brighton and Hove Albion, and relegated Fulham. Limiting attempts on goal would also reduce the pressure on the goalkeeper, as David de Gea and Dean Henderson continue to battle for the number-one spot.

The centre-back also offers a tactical bonus, to which Solskjaer has already hinted: he can play comfortably enough in a back three. Maguire, Varane and Lindelof would represent an imposing rearguard and allow the rejuvenated Luke Shaw to push up as a wing-back. If United's pursuit of Kieran Trippier proves fruitful, even better. A 3-4-1-2 would give Solskjaer that balance of defensive security without compromising too much on attacking quality, which could be essential for the biggest derbies, knockout games or cup finals.

Varane and Sancho give United some serious star power, but also tactical flexibility and game-winning potential. If Solskjaer can trust his defence to stay resolute and unshackle the attack, the gap to City may well begin to shrink – and that elusive first trophy could be within his grasp.

Marcus Rashford could miss almost three months of the 2021-22 Premier League season after opting to undergo surgery on a long-term shoulder injury.

Rashford is reported to have suffered a muscle tear in his shoulder last November but he played through the pain for the rest of the season, and then featured for England at Euro 2020.

The forward chose to put off treatment on the injury until after the Euros in order to take part in a tournament that England ultimately reached the final of – though Rashford was one of three players to miss a penalty in the final's decisive shoot-out against Italy.

He played for just 84 minutes of England's campaign in total, failing to score, assist or create a chance.

The 23-year-old's form had suffered towards the end of 2020-21, with his last 10 Premier League appearances profiting just five goal contributions. 

But Rashford is also said to have been carrying back and foot complaints for the best part of two years, meaning a period on the sidelines could provide him with a much-needed rest.

After initial reports emerged earlier this month that Rashford would undergo surgery, United decided to wait and seek further medical opinions before making a final decision.

But on Friday it was confirmed that Rashford would indeed go under the knife.

"Following consultation between Marcus, the manager, club medical staff and specialists, Marcus will undergo surgery imminently to resolve his shoulder injury," read a statement from United.

“He will now focus on his rehabilitation in order to return as soon as possible."

United did not release a timetable for his return but reports suggest he could miss 12 weeks of action. The club start their Premier League campaign at home to Leeds United on August 14.

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

While Harry Maguire (11,197 mins) and Aaron Wan-Bissaka (10,555 mins) have also played more over the same period, including games for other clubs, Rashford arguably plays a more intense role.

United should be well-stocked to cope with Rashford's absence, however, with Anthony Martial set to return from an injury absence of his own, while the options of Mason Greenwood, Edinson Cavani and Daniel James have been added to with the arrival of Jadon Sancho.

Raphael Varane has posted a heartfelt goodbye to Real Madrid ahead of his transfer to Manchester United.

It was announced on Tuesday that the Red Devils had agreed a deal in principle to sign the France centre-back, who had a year left on his contract with LaLiga giants Madrid.

United are reported to be paying a fee of £42.7million (€50m) to secure the transfer, with the player set to travel to England this week, where he will undergo a period of isolation before completing a medical.

Varane visited Madrid's Valdebebas training ground on Friday for the final time before departing the club where he won four Champions Leagues and three LaLiga titles among a host of trophies following his arrival from Lens in 2011.

"These past few days have been charged with many emotions, feelings that I now want to share with all of you," he wrote on Instagram.

"After 10 incredible and wonderful years at Real Madrid, a club I will always carry in my heart, the day has come to say goodbye.

"Since I arrived in 2011, together we exceeded all expectations and achieved things I could never have dreamed of.

"I would like to thank all the coaches and all the people who work or have worked for the club for everything they have done for me.

"Many thanks also to all the Madridistas who always gave me a lot of affection and with their great demands pushed me to give my best and to fight for every success.

"I have had the honour of sharing a dressing room with the best players in the world. Countless victories I will never forget, especially 'La Decima'. I realise it's been a great privilege to have been able to experience such special moments.

"Finally, I want to thank all Spaniards and especially the city of Madrid, where my two children were born. This country will always be special to me.

"It's been an incredible journey in every way. I leave with the feeling of having given everything and I will not change a single thing in this story of ours.

"A new chapter begins..."

 

Kieran Trippier has one year remaining on his Atletico Madrid contract.

The England international has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United.

It has been reported that Trippier wants to return to England, having left Tottenham for LaLiga in 2019.

 

TOP STORY - TRIPPIER TO WAIT ON UNITED MOVE

Manchester United target Kieran Trippier is willing to wait until late in the transfer window to secure his move, reports the Telegraph.

Atletico Madrid full-back Trippier is said to have set his sights on a move to United, who have already been busy in the transfer market by launching moves for Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane.

The report claims Trippier is prepared to sit tight and wait for United to raise the funds required to put together a move for the 30-year-old former Manchester City junior.

 

ROUND-UP

- Aston Villa are ready to restart talks with Jack Grealish about a new deal next week as Manchester City begin to ramp up their interest, according to the Express and Star.

- Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma is being lined up by West Ham,  with a proposed £20m bid set to be tabled, according to the Daily Mail. It had been reported Zouma may be used in a deal for Sevilla's Jules Kounde.

- Barcelona are lining up a second bid to sign Juventus defender Cristian Romero after having had a player-plus-cash deal turned down, reports SportItalia. Tottenham are also keen on Romero.

- Celtic could make a move for ex-England goalkeeper Joe Hart, who is currently on Tottenham's books, says BBC Sport.

Manchester United have postponed their friendly against Preston North End on Saturday due to a small number of suspected coronavirus cases in the squad.

United on Thursday announced that the unnamed players are isolating pending further tests.

A statement on the club's official website said: "Following routine testing of the first-team training group today, we have identified a small number of suspected positive cases.

"This has led to those people isolating, pending further tests.

"As a precautionary measure based on COVID protocols, we have taken the difficult decision that we will not now be able to play the friendly match against Preston North End this Saturday."

The Red Devils were held to a 2-2 draw by Premier League newcomers Brentford on Wednesday, with Anthony Elanga and Andreas Pereira on the scoresheet.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskajer has expressed his gratitude for the backing he has been given in the transfer market, with Jadon Sancho arriving and Raphael Varane poised to complete his move to Old Trafford.

France centre-back Varane's arrival appears to be imminent, with a deal agreed in principle for a reported £42.7 million fee to secure the Real Madrid man.

Solskjaer's side are due to face Everton in their final pre-season friendly on August 7 and get their Premier League campaign under way a week later against Leeds United.

Alex Ferguson will be honoured in statue form by former club Aberdeen.

Ferguson guided the Dons to European Cup Winners' Cup glory in 1983, beating Real Madrid 2-1 in the final in Gothenburg.

He also oversaw three league titles, four Scottish Cups and one Scottish League Cup during his eight-year stint at the club between 1978 and 1986.

Aberdeen announced on Thursday they had commissioned a bronze Ferguson statue, located on the external concourse outside the Richard Donald Stand at Pittodrie, which is expected to be unveiled later this year.

"I am thrilled and honoured by this recognition from Aberdeen Football Club, where I spent a fantastic and memorable part of my managerial career," Ferguson said.

"I am particularly pleased with the image the club has chosen to base the statue on and with the choice of sculptor whose recent work is incredibly lifelike. I can't wait to see it!"

Produced by sculptor Andy Edwards, the statue will be based on a photograph of Ferguson taken after Aberdeen secured the Scottish title at Easter Road in 1980.

It seems clear that Paul Pogba will not remain at Old Trafford for the long haul.

Also clear: Paris Saint-Germain's interest in the France midfielder.

The big question that remains to be answered is the timing of a potential move for the Manchester United man.

 

TOP STORY – PSG WEIGH UP POGBA OPTIONS

Paris Saint-Germain are interested in a move for Paul Pogba but are still debating when to make their bid.

According to The Athletic, PSG have begun discussions to determine Pogba's interest in a move but have not made a formal approach to United.

While the report says a bid is expected within the next few weeks, it remains a possibility that PSG could wait until Pogba is out of contract in 2022 and deal with the player directly.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised Manchester United's transfer business as he declared the Red Devils were in a "good position" ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

Jadon Sancho joined on Friday from Borussia Dortmund and with a deal agreed in principle for Raphael Varane from Real Madrid, Solskjaer hailed the work done to strengthen his squad this month.

United's manager, who signed a new contract until 2024 on Saturday, spoke after his side's 2-2 draw with Brentford in a pre-season friendly at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

"First of all the club shows ambition with one of the most exciting young players in world football, then one of the most respected centre-backs," Solskjaer said post-match.

"We have different ways of playing with Raphael. I can't wait to get him in, hopefully we can get that sorted as soon as.

"Of course, [we are] very happy that we've managed to get a deal with Real Madrid. [The] medical should hopefully be OK. He's a proven winner, a player we've followed for many years."

Varane has collected three LaLiga titles and four Champions League triumphs in a 10-year spell in Madrid, though with a year left on his contract he felt it was time to move on.

The France international also won the World Cup in 2018 before playing in all four games at Euro 2020, where he was the only France defender to not be dribbled past.

The signing of Varane is, as Solskjaer says, likely to go through soon and the former United forward is delighted to have done business early this transfer window.

"We've scrambled before towards the end of the window and now I have to say we're in a good position," he added before providing an update on Marcus Rashford's potential surgery and the return of his international stars.

"With Marcus, we'll probably make a decision in the next few days when we check him up again. What's best for him and best for the club has to be considered.

"I haven't got a Scooby Doo how they [the returning internationals] are fitness-wise. Everyone's due in Monday for training, that means three weeks since the last game. We'll see how they are, what fitness levels they are at."

The Red Devils have friendlies left against Preston North End and Everton before kicking off their Premier League campaign against Leeds United on August 14.

Jack Grealish has been linked with a move away from Aston Villa in the past, and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is a known long-term admirer.

Grealish is currently on holidays after Euro 2020, but talks of a huge transfer to City have not gone away.

Could the Premier League champions be about to make their move?

 

MAN CITY SET TO TABLE GREALISH BID

Manchester City are set to officially commence their move for Aston Villa's Jack Grealish with a £75m bid, claims the Daily Mail.

According to the report, Villa will hold out for £100m for their star England international.

Villa have no desire to sell Grealish for anything less and will know Guardiola is keen to secure his services.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea have opened talks with Sevilla about potentially signing French centre-back Jules Kounde, according to The Guardian. The 22-year-old has a release clause worth €80m (£68.4m).

- Arsenal have enquired with Inter about star forward Lautaro Martinez, reports the Telegraph. It is believed Inter may be willing to sell the Argentina striker for €90m (£77m).

- Eurosport reports that West Ham are interested in a move for Manchester United defender Phil Jones who has struggled with injury in recent times.

- Newcastle are closing in on a deal for Arsenal's Joe Willock, and it could be finalised  within the next 48 hours after his loan stint last season, claims Mail Online.

- Liverpool may sign Wolves' Spanish winger Adama Traore in a cut-price £30m deal, according to the Star.

Manchester United have improved to the extent they are ready to win trophies, according to star playmaker Bruno Fernandes.

The Red Devils finished runners-up in the Premier League last season, recording consecutive top-four finishes for the first time since 2013, but suffered shoot-out heartbreak against Villarreal in the Europa League final.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has strengthened the team ahead of the new season, securing the services of Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund and agreeing a deal for the transfer of Raphael Varane from Real Madrid.

With upgrades in two areas of need, Fernandes, who scored 18 times and provided 12 assists in the league last term, is excited by the threat United could pose next season.

"Obviously I think, as always, we have a chance to win whatever we want, or wherever we try to win, because I think last season unluckily for us we don't get to win any trophies," said Fernandes, who led the Premier League by creating 95 chances in 2020-21.

"We get to the final of Europa League but unluckily we don't win. But, still, with the transfers or without the transfers, Manchester United will always be a tough opponent, we will try to win every competition we are included in."

Fernandes netted 28 times for United in all competitions, the best return by a midfielder for a Premier League club in a single campaign, surpassing Frank Lampard's 27 for Chelsea in 2009-10.

If the United star needs more help from his team-mates, he expects it will follow in the coming campaign.

"I'm proud of what we have done because of course we want to win trophies and we know we have the chance, and we have the capacity to win trophies," he added.

"But I see an improvement on the team, on the mentality of the team, on the quality of the team.

"And I think the team will improve more this season and we are going up, better and better, day by day, and now this is a new season, a new chance to win something and to do something different."

Manchester United have confirmed they have reached an agreement in principle with Real Madrid for defender Raphael Varane.

With only 12 months remaining on his Madrid contract, Varane has been allowed to join the Red Devils.

United are reported to be paying a fee of £42.7million (€50m) to secure the transfer, which is subject to a medical and terms being finalised with the player.

Having recently brought in Jadon Sancho, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is poised to add one of the world's best defenders as United outspend their major European rivals ahead of the new season.

Varane is expected to sign a four-year deal and Solskjaer, who has cited defensive frailties as a problem throughout his tenure, fills yet another key position.

Having moved to Madrid in 2011 from Lens, Varane has a wealth of experience, winning three LaLiga titles and four Champions League crowns as he has racked up over 350 appearances in the Spanish capital.

In the absence of Sergio Ramos for much of last season, Varane impressed again.

The centre-back ranked second among Madrid defenders in terms of both duels won (110) and interceptions (36) in LaLiga.

It was Varane's aerial presence that really shone through at the back and his 73 successful aerial duels were more than double the tallies of his defensive colleagues.

Indeed, out of all defenders in LaLiga to contest 20 or more aerial duels, Varane's success rate of 76 per cent was the best during the 2020-21 campaign.

That ability in the air will boost a United side lacking in that sense last term, despite Harry Maguire's expertise. Excluding penalties, only Leeds United (15) conceded more Premier League goals from set-pieces than United's 14.

 

Varane's vast experience even beyond his Madrid exploits should aid Solskjaer's side, too.

The defender has played 79 times for France, winning the World Cup in 2018 before playing in all four games at Euro 2020 on the way to Les Bleus' shock last-16 exit.

Varane was the only France defender who saw action and was not dribbled past by an opponent at the Euros, showing his talent on the ground as well as in the air.

With pace to get out of trouble, Varane appears an excellent foil for Maguire as United look to improve on last campaign's second-placed Premier League finish.

United finished 12 points behind rivals and champions Manchester City and will hope to have both Sancho and Varane available when they start their quest to bridge that gap against Leeds at Old Trafford on August 14.

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