David Moyes defended his decision to bring on Mark Noble for the crucial late penalty after the veteran campaigner's miss from the spot cost West Ham a point against Manchester United.

In a dramatic finale at London Stadium, the home side were awarded a stoppage-time chance to get on level terms, after former Hammers loanee Jesse Lingard fired United into a 2-1 lead.

Noble is a spot-kick expert, having stuck away 27 of 31 previous attempts in the Premier League, but the 34-year-old had not taken a kick of the ball before being handed the responsibility of saving the game.

The substitute, sent on by Moyes after the penalty was awarded for Luke Shaw's handball, saw his shot to the right corner pushed away by David de Gea, who had conceded his last 21 penalties on league duty.

United held on for the closing seconds to see out victory, leaving Moyes with questions to face about the sense of his decision.

"I chose Noble to come off the bench and take the penalty kick because I know how good his penalty record is," Moyes told West Ham TV.

"Mark was brave enough, he wanted it, and so from that point of view there's no responsibility with him at all."

Moyes admitted West Ham lacked an obvious candidate to take the penalty, with captain Declan Rice having been poised to take responsibility before Noble came sprinting on.

"We just don't necessarily have someone who is a natural penalty kick taker. It is an easy thing to work on because you can stand and take penalty kicks in training ... but it's a different thing when you've got to go on the stage and do it," Moyes told a news conference.

The Hammers boss failed to complete a full season as manager of United in 2013-14, being sacked in April after struggling to live up to his billing after succeeding Alex Ferguson.

Since then, he has failed to earn a win in eight matches as a manager against the Red Devils, drawing twice and losing six games.

It was a cruel twist that it should be Lingard who scored the 89th-minute winner, and he appeared somewhat apologetic as the visitors celebrated.

Lingard revived his career during his spell at West Ham last season, scoring nine goals in 16 Premier League games. The England midfielder put a midweek Champions League blunder behind him on this occasion to give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side three points in the capital.

"Jesse got a second chance to bounce back as a player when he was at West Ham last year. We'll always be grateful for what he did for us," said Moyes. "I wish he hadn't scored, but we had a chance to get a draw out of it and we missed our chance."

Lingard's winner means West Ham have now had 47 players score both for and against them – excluding own goals – in the history of the Premier League, more than any other team.

Cristiano Ronaldo was denied two "stonewall" penalties in Manchester United's win at West Ham, according to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Portugal star got his fourth goal in three games since his return to the Red Devils in Sunday's 2-1 victory at London Stadium.

Ronaldo's first-half goal cancelled out Said Benrahma's deflected opener, with Jesse Lingard - who impressed on loan at the Hammers in 2020-21 - curling home a sublime winner after coming on as a substitute.

Ronaldo was floored by challenges from Vladimir Coufal and Kurt Zouma during the second half, with referee Martin Atkinson and VAR unmoved, but a penalty was given deep into injury time for a handball by Luke Shaw.

Mark Noble came off the bench but saw his effort saved by David de Gea with just seconds remaining.

Solskjaer had no complaints about the spot-kick given against Shaw but felt Ronaldo had been clearly fouled on separate occasions,

"The first and the last, I think are stonewall, you can't even argue against them," he told Sky Sports when asked about three penalty appeals for his side.

"Paul [Pogba] had a foul against him, Kurt Zouma: he didn't touch him but he went over him. So why is Cristiano's third appeal not a penalty? Hopefully it won't be that Cristiano's never going to get a penalty."

Noble's only touch of the ball was the penalty attempt clawed away by De Gea, who last saved a spot-kick in the Premier League against Everton's Leighton Baines in 2014.

"The thinking behind it [bringing Noble on for the penalty] was simply his record," manager Moyes said. "I'd have been more disappointed if I hadn't made the decision. I made the decision, and it didn't quite work today.

"We've given Manchester United a run for their money, the more we do that at this level against the top teams, the more we will improve as well."

Solskjaer was criticised for his game management in Tuesday's shock 2-1 Champions League loss to Young Boys, in which Lingard gifted the home side their stoppage-time winner with a loose pass.

He was delighted to see Lingard combine with fellow substitute Nemanja Matic to secure another comeback win and stretch United's unbeaten away run to 29 league games.

"Great goal, so happy for Jesse and he had a tough evening on Tuesday. He's knuckled down, worked hard again, been the same bright, positive lad. I'm so happy for him," he said.

"It's always difficult coming here against a West Ham team that's well organised. They're on their longest unbeaten run in the Premier League.

"We know we had to stamp our authority. First half, we had 60, 70 per cent of the possession. They got the first goal, but it's just a game that's waiting to open up.

"You can't take rests when you defend and we dropped into a back six, too many spaces, too late to charge the ball. We sorted and spoke about that at half-time. Great response."

United have now recovered 35 points from losing positions in Premier League matches since the start of last season, which is almost twice as many as any other side.

Manchester United came from behind to beat West Ham 2-1 on Sunday as Jesse Lingard returned to haunt the Hammers in a dramatic contest at London Stadium.

The England international, superb on loan at the Hammers last season, curled in an 89th-minute winner after Cristiano Ronaldo had earlier cancelled out Said Benrahma's deflected opener.

West Ham had the chance to equalise in the fourth minute of injury time, but David de Gea saved a penalty from Mark Noble, who had come off the bench to take the spot-kick.

Phil Jones has revealed how injury hell left him feeling "the lowest I've ever been" and that his career was "finished" as the Manchester United defender at last closes on a first-team return.

The 29-year-old has not played for the Red Devils since January 2020 due to a debilitating knee problem that has dogged him throughout his career.

First identified during his academy years at Blackburn Rovers, Jones had an operation after Euro 2012 to remove the meniscus in his right knee. He was forced to manage the problem for years, playing at "60 per cent" because he would "do anything for United", even though, by 2016, "any resistance against the knee was just agony".

Jones then recovered fitness during the coronavirus-enforced shutdown last year but, when he had to stop running in training, he sought further treatment that culminated in surgery last August. The centre-back has been battling to recover again in the 14 months since and has now played two matches for United's Under-23s, most recently against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Retelling the story of his progress and setbacks to the Times, Jones said the moment his knee gave up again last May left him considering whether the fight was worth it.

He said: "I'd lost my mind completely. I'm thinking, 'I'm finished, can't be bothered with all this anymore'. I went straight to the doc and said, 'Enough's enough. I've had too many anti-inflammatories, too many injections, too many close shaves. I need this sorted.'

"It was the lowest I've ever been as a human being. I used to come back [from the training ground] and be in bits. My head was an absolute mess. I'd be in tears. I'd say to [wife] Kaya, 'I don't know what to do'. I remember us both crying.

"She has kept the ship together while I got my s*** together. I feel guilty because she didn't deserve having to deal with me every day and then look after the kids."

Jones, who has just under two years on his contract, was prompted to speak out when former United team-mate Rio Ferdinand described him as a "waste of time" who was blocking a youth player's passage to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's senior side. Solskjaer himself was angered by Ferdinand's comments.

"Listen, the respect I've got is enormous," Jones said of Ferdinand. "I've shared a dressing room with Rio – great professional. Loved playing with him. Great lad, good humour. Learnt so much off him. But what he said was poor. Really poor. 

"I've done my absolute utmost. From tablets, to my diet, to setting up my house so that every time I get back from training I'm sitting in recovery boots and have my ice machine ready. Nobody can say, 'You didn't do enough'.

"I'll fight for United until someone tells me, 'Go somewhere else'."

Jones, who was also heckled in the street while walking with his infant daughters, added: "In this society we're living in at the minute, all the racism and stuff that affects mental health – I'd just say be careful. You don’t know how it's going to affect players: physically, mentally, emotionally. 

"Listen, my problems are not bigger than the problems someone has to deal with in an office, I know that. But they are problems. Footballers have problems like anybody else, and maybe me talking can help players.

"Every footballer has a tag and unfortunately mine is, 'Let's have a laugh at him'. But – and I say this in the nicest possible way – I know who'll have the last laugh. I'm proud of my career and when it finishes and I'm enjoying my life – and by the way I'm super fortunate that I'll be able to do that, because footballers are fortunate – [the keyboard warriors] will still be in their mum's spare bedroom, sipping Diet Pepsi that's flat, eating a Pot Noodle, sitting in their boxers, tweeting."

Jones, who has only played eight times since the start of 2019-20, won the Premier League title during Alex Ferguson's final season at the club and it was a meeting with his old boss that helped to boost him on his journey back to playing.

"He was just unbelievable for me," Jones added. "I went to the premiere of his film with a few players and he came over, we shook hands and then out of the blue he said, 'Hey, you were f****** terrific against Real Madrid away [in 2013]. F****** marking [Cristiano] Ronaldo.'

"It just gave me so much confidence. To be honest, I didn't even watch his premiere, I was just sitting there thinking about his comment, thinking, 'He remembers it... someone of his magnitude remembers that'."

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has backed Jadon Sancho to come good after a slow start with the club.

The 21-year-old has made five appearances for Untied since signing from Borussia Dortmund for around £73million after a high-profile transfer pursuit that lasted over a year.

England international Sancho arrived to huge fanfare, though he is yet to register a goal or assist going into Sunday's Premier League trip to West Ham.

A frustrating start for Sancho continued when he was sacrificed in the first half of Tuesday's Champions League loss to Young Boys, the winger taken off as part of a reshuffle when Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sent off.

Solskjaer, though, insists nothing has changed in his evaluation of Sancho, who he feels can be a "top forward" for United over more than a decade.

"He is learning all the time," Solskjaer told reporters before the West Ham clash.

"As I said in training as well, he is learning our methods, he is learning the Premier League and of course, he knows the Champions League already from being at Dortmund.

"He is a young boy, he is only 21 and he will improve. 

"We signed him as we see a top forward for 10, 12, 15 years and I have not changed my mind on that.

"He is so clean on the ball and is enthusiastic to learn and that is such a big thing when you come to Manchester United.

"You are always going to get a chance and you play with some of the best players in the world, you are getting some fantastic coaching with the coaches I have got too."

United will do battle with their former manager David Moyes when they take on West Ham, with Sancho not a certainty to start given Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Cristiano Ronaldo are among the options in attacking positions.

Since his sacking in 2014, Moyes has failed to win any of his seven games against United in all competitions, losing five of those.

However, in-form Ronaldo has a mixed record against West Ham.

The Portugal star was involved in six goals in his last four league appearances against them in his first spell in England (five goals, one assist), though he also suffered three top-flight defeats to the Hammers.

Only against Chelsea (four) has Ronaldo suffered more Premier League losses than he has against West Ham.

Manchester United, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona all pursued Erling Haaland in the recent transfer window.

The 21-year-old Norway forward opted to stay with Borussia Dortmund.

But the race will heat up again at the end of the season.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA INTERESTED IN STERLING

Manchester United still want to sign Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland and will make a move next European summer, reports the Express.

United made a major transfer splash when they landed Cristiano Ronaldo last month but remain in the Haaland race.

The Red Devils are looking to end their trophy drought and added Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho along with Ronaldo for this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- United are leading the way in the chase to sign Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund, according to The Sun. The 18-year-old is being pursued by Chelsea and Manchester City too.

- The Sun reports that United are planning a clear-out at the end of this season, including Donny van de Beek , Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial to free up funds.

- Calciomercato reports that Juventus have identified Real Madrid forward Luka Jovic as a transfer target in the January window on loan.

- Ligue 1 club Lens could make a bid for Liverpool's Belgium international forward Divock Origi , claims Fichajes.

- Crystal Palace are interested in signing US international forward Daryl Dike from Orlando City, reports The Sun. Dike is set to command a £18m fee.

- Transfer expert Ekrem Konur claims that Flamengo have tabled an offer to sign Brazilian veteran Dani Alves.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Rio Ferdinand got it all wrong after the former Manchester United captain questioned why Cristiano Ronaldo was allowed to vent from the touchline.

Ferdinand is a former United team-mate of the current Red Devils boss and said he would have told Ronaldo, with whom he also played, to stay in his seat rather than race to pitchside to complain about a tackle.

Ronaldo, newly back at the club after 12 years away, was on his feet alongside Bruno Fernandes as they expressed anger about a foul by Young Boys midfielder Christopher Martins on Nemanja Matic in Tuesday's Champions League clash.

Both Ronaldo and Fernandes had been substituted by that stage of a game that United lost 2-1 after a stoppage-time winner by their Swiss hosts.

In his role as a pundit for BT Sport, Ferdinand had said: "If I'm the manager, I've got to be honest, I'm telling him to sit down."

But, quoted in several Sunday newspapers, Solskjaer explained that he had no complaints about the United pair showing their frustrations.

"Rio, again you know, sometimes he comments on things he doesn't really know," said Solskjaer.

"It's not like he was coaching players. No. Both Bruno and Cristiano, as competitive as they are, suddenly I had them on my shoulder.

"They were there for a brief spell and shouted at the referee. That was the aggravation of getting a few bad decisions against us. But then Cristiano sat down and Bruno sat down."

Ferdinand suggested it would be difficult to prevent a player of Ronaldo's standing in the game to hold his tongue.

"He's just a passionate guy. He wants to win, he's desperate to win, and he can't hold it in," Ferdinand said. "If that means he has to go up there and stand next to the manager, shouting instructions, so be it."

Raphael Varane believes he is fulfilling his destiny after moving to Manchester United from Real Madrid.

The centre-back won three LaLiga titles and four Champions League crowns in Spain's capital, while triumphing at the 2018 World Cup with France.

Varane, who joined Madrid in 2011 from Lens, completed a move to United in a deal worth a reported £42.7million (€50m) in August.

However, in an interview with Sky Sports, the France international revealed he almost arrived at Old Trafford 10 years prior as former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson travelled to his Lille home to tout the then 18-year-old's services.

"It was a special moment for me and my family," Varane said. "It's amazing to meet a person like him [Alex Ferguson] at 18.

"You know, after that, it's your destiny. Ten years in Madrid and now I'm here.

"This is a new challenge for me. A different competition, a different mentality, a different atmosphere. It's all new for me but I've enjoyed every day so far.

"It's a big challenge to get Manchester United back to the top but I feel people want to win, people want to do great things with this club, and that's a big motivation for me."

 

In the absence of Sergio Ramos last term, Varane shone for Los Blancos, who he ranked second among defenders for both duels won (110) and interceptions (36) in LaLiga.

United's defensive acquisition dominated aerially as well, winning 73 aerial duels – more than double the tallies of his defensive colleagues.

But despite his success at Madrid, he remained on the undercard as he was surrounded by big names such as Cristiano Ronaldo, who he has reunited with in Manchester.

"I don't play football for this focus [the headlines]," Varane continued. "I just want to help the team and do my best.

"I want to improve and be who I am on the pitch. That's my objective and my mentality.

"Playing with this type of player [Cristiano Ronaldo], you improve every day. If he is still playing to such a high level at his age, it's because his work is amazing. I'm very happy to play with him.

"I think he is the best example in the world in terms of work ethic and winning mentality."

Could Raheem Sterling leave Premier League champions Manchester City?

The Englishman has slipped down the pecking order in 2021-22.

LaLiga giants Barcelona are reportedly ready to offer Sterling regular football.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA INTERESTED IN STERLING

Barcelona are targeting a loan move for Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling, according to Sport.

Sterling has fallen out of favour under Pep Guardiola this season, leading to speculation over his City future.

The England international is reportedly open to reunion with former City team-mate Sergio Aguero at Barca.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Independent claims Manchester United are prioritising a move for West Ham's Declan Rice. The Red Devils are eyeing Rice to partner Paul Pogba, who himself is the subject of transfer speculation. Out of contract at the end of the season, Pogba has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Juventus.

Lazio are interested in free agent Dani Alves following his Sao Paulo exit, reports Calciomercato. The former Barca and Juve full-back terminated his contract and reportedly met with Brazilian rivals Flamengo.

- Fabrizio Romano says Roma are preparing a new five-year contract for Lorenzo Pellegrini, who has been linked with Premier League clubs.

- Serie A champions Inter are weighing up a move for Torino defender Bremer at the end of the season, says Calciomercato. The Brazilian has also been linked with United and Liverpool.

- According to Calciomercato, City have not given up on signing Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic. The Serbia international forward was linked with City as well as Tottenham, Arsenal and Atletico Madrid before the transfer window closed.

Luka Jovic is on the radar of Juventus, per Calciomercato. Jovic is out of favour at Madrid, with the Serbia international originally tipped to return to Eintracht Frankfurt on a permanent basis.

Brighton and Hove Albion star Yves Bissouma believes he is the best midfielder in the Premier League amid links with Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

Bissouma has flourished in England since joining Brighton from Ligue 1 outfit Lille in 2018, attracting interest from a host of Premier League teams.

As his future continues to make headlines, the 25-year-old Mali international highlighted his ability.

"I don't want to be arrogant, but it's me because in my head I am working to be the best," Bissouma told BBC Sport.

"So I cannot say another name, I know in the Premier League there are so many good midfielders, but for me, it's me because that gives me the confidence and the energy to work hard to show people I am here and I am Bissouma.

"I just want to be focused on football, to play in every game, every week to be good, to help my team win and the rest we will see."

Last season, Brighton's Bissouma topped the Premier League list for tackles won among midfielder with 68 in 36 appearances.

Bissouma won possession on 271 occasions – a number only bettered by Tottenham's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (296), Southampton star James Ward-Prowse (288) and Manchester City's Rodri (285) among midfielders.

He also ranked fourth for duels won (227), behind West Ham's Tomas Soucek (364), Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa (264) and former Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish (231).

His 64 interceptions were only eclipsed by Burnley midfielder Josh Brownhill (69) and Wolves star Ruben Neves (65) in 2020-21, while Bissouma had the fifth most recoveries (271).

Paul Pogba could yet make a return to Juventus, according to Mino Raiola, as the midfielder's long-term future at Manchester United remains unclear.  

Pogba is in the final year of his current deal at Old Trafford, having returned to Manchester in August 2016 after a hugely successful spell in Turin.  

The France international won the Serie A title in each of his four seasons with Juve, as well as the Coppa Italia twice. He was also part of the squad that reached the Champions League final in 2015, though the Bianconeri lost 3-1 to Barcelona.  

Speaking in Italy on Friday, Raiola, the 28-year-old's agent, admitted a move back to the Italian club Pogba joined on a free from United remains a possibility.

"Paul's contract expires next year. We will speak with Manchester United and we'll see," Raiola told Rai Sport.

"Turin has remained in his heart. There is a possibility that he will come back, but this will also depend on Juventus." 

Pogba has started the new campaign in outstanding form, providing seven assists in four Premier League games. He has created 10 chances in total in those contests, helping Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side claim three wins and a draw to sit top of the table on goal difference.

He has already surpassed last season's assists tally in the same competition, having set up three in the top flight during 2020-21.

Pogba also scored three times as United finished second behind champions Manchester City last term.

After a shock 2-1 loss to Young Boys in the Champions League in midweek, Pogba and his team-mates will hope to get back to winning ways when they travel to West Ham on Sunday. 

Ed Woodward is "more confident than ever" Manchester United are "on the right track" after one of the most challenging financial periods in the club's history.

United reported a revenue decrease to £494.1million, with an operating loss of £36.9m last season when they revealed their last financial results on Friday.

In the previous annual results, revenue had dropped from £627.1m to £509m.

The coronavirus pandemic and a lack of supporters at Old Trafford took a big toll on the club.

However, with they have invested significantly to bring in Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane and are now playing in front of a full capacity crowd.

Executive vice-chairman believes these are exciting times for United despite the losses.

"We said during the depths of the pandemic that the club would emerge in a stronger relative position, and I believe we are now seeing that borne out as we build towards recovery from a very solid foundation," Woodward said in a statement.

"We significantly strengthened the squad over the summer, with the addition of Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho and Tom Heaton.

"These signings have demonstrated our continued ability to attract some of the world’s best footballers to Old Trafford, and our firm commitment to helping Ole [boss Gunnar Solskjaer]deliver success on the pitch.

"We have been clear in our strategy to build a squad with a blend of top-class recruits and homegrown talent, comprising a balance of youth and experience, with the aim of winning trophies and playing attacking football the Manchester United way.

"While squad-building is a constant process, we are more confident than ever that we are on the right track."

Cristiano Ronaldo returning to Manchester United will propel Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side towards Champions League success, according to former Red Devil Louis Saha.

Ronaldo has arrived back at Old Trafford, ending a 12-year absence from United after spells with Juventus and Real Madrid, with whom he won the continental competition four times.

Saha was in his final bow with Alex Ferguson's side at the time of Ronaldo's first Champions League triumph, the Portugal forward scoring eight times en route to victory in the 2007-08 campaign.

Returning as a 36-year-old goal poacher, the former Madrid star equalled Iker Casillas' appearance record in Europe against Young Boys in his 177th match, and Saha believes Ronaldo can drive Solskjaer's side to success.

"I think so, yes, I think it [Ronaldo to United] is a game changer," Saha told Stats Perform when asked if United could win the Champions League.

"I do think that the Champions League is the hardest competition. Yes, the Premier League is a marathon and you have five to six clubs who can actually win it.

"But the Champions League in a way that it works when you have groups, you will definitely have to win [against] the bigger clubs or the biggest clubs that's for sure."

Saha, who was speaking after United's 2-1 defeat to Young Boys, is convinced Solskjaer has a squad that is built to achieve at the highest level.

"United has the balance that they didn't over the years to win the Champions League," he said. "We had maybe a less quality squad when we won the Champions League.

"We have seen it with Chelsea, I don't think they had a great squad but it's about the team and about the team spirit and how you want to win it more than others.

"The ability to not make any mistakes as they have done [against Young Boys], this is the type of challenge the Champions League will provide to any good side who wants to go win the Champions League.

"So that's the formula, game by game this team can improve and definitely challenge for the victory [Champions League trophy]."

Despite surrendering a one-goal lead against Young Boys on Tuesday, Ronaldo created another record with his opener – the longest gap between goals for the same club in the competition's history (12 years and 132 days).

The Swiss side also became the 36th different club the forward has scored against as he extended his goal count to 135 goals in 177 games, 15 ahead of second-placed Lionel Messi in the all-time scoring list.

With Ronaldo leading the line, Saha envisages continuous success for United for three reasons as they look to challenge domestically and in Europe.

"The first one is because the guy is very obsessed in front of the goal," he said.

"It will bring this kind of like obsession and demanding from his players around. The second one is his stats, he is a player who's going to score goals for fun.

"He's already on three goals in two games. Let's say that it's a guarantee. If he plays you will have 25 to 30 goals, maybe not in the Premier League, but combined it's almost kind of a guarantee.

"At the same time the actual impact mentally on other teams. You go there and you have [Raphael] Varane, [Jadon] Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo, combined with the already very talented squad.

"I think he gives a different aura to the squad, it does bring definitely United forward in those aspects so it's a huge change for the title [race]. [They are] definitely up there with Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea I would say."

Alexandre Lacazette's future at Arsenal is uncertain and a move to Italy may beckon.

The French forward was said to have been a player Arsenal would have considered allowing to leave at the right price during the recent transfer window.

Lacazette has only managed two substitute appearances for the Gunners in the league this season.

TOP STORY - JUVENTUS PLOT MOVE FOR GUNNER

Juventus are considering a move to sign Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette, claims Calciomercato.

Lacazette is due to become a free agent at the end of next June and it remains to be seen whether he renews, yet the Turin club may move for him in January.

Juventus' slow start to the new season may play a part in their decision-making on when to pursue his signature.

ROUND-UP

- Bruno Fernandes will be rewarded with a bumper new Manchester United contract worth £250,000 per week, claims The Sun. The deal could be announced in the next few days, representing a £100,000 pay raise on his current deal that runs until 2025.

- Chelsea will reportedly consider selling Antonio Rudiger, who has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid. Any Rudiger sale would raise funds to land Sevilla star Jules Kounde, according to Football365.

- Ansu Fati is committed to remaining with Barcelona despite the club's financial issues, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Jadon Sancho's arrival at Manchester United was initially heralded as something of a game changer for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, their right-wing problems set to be a thing of the past with the England international seemingly guaranteeing goals and creativity. 

But, as it did with most other stories in football, Cristiano Ronaldo's signing took the spotlight away and it seems everyone has been focused on the Portugal talisman. 

That might actually be a helpful thing for Sancho, given his start to life at United has been about as explosive as a candle. He is there, in the background, but unless you look at him it is very easy to forget his existence. 

Sancho thus far appears to have largely escaped full-scale criticism, with Ronaldo's goalscoring return and then United's embarrassing loss to Young Boys somewhat eclipsing the winger's muted introduction. 

That is not to say his ineffectiveness has gone unnoticed, certainly not by supporters. But should they be concerned even this early in his United career? 

'Every player has slow periods'

Digging into Sancho's form after just four Premier League appearances probably seems a little premature. Maybe it is, but his slow start is certainly a talking point from United's perspective. 

There could be any number of reasons for Sancho taking a little longer to get up to speed than hoped, such as a shortened pre-season after Euro 2020, adapting to a new system and team-mates, or even a loss of confidence following his spot-kick woes in the European Championship final. 

But it is worth pointing out Sancho had a similarly tricky start to 2020-21, something his Borussia Dortmund coach at the time partly put down to United's interest. 

"Every player has slow periods. There was a lot of talk about Jadon during the summer – something like that can be a factor," Lucien Favre said in October last year. "No player is consistently in top form for an entire year, that's impossible. You have to accept that." 

Sancho's patchy form continued all the way up to Germany's mid-season break – at that point, he had not scored in 11 Bundesliga games and only laid on three assists. It was a far cry from his breakout season the previous campaign when he netted 17 and set up another 16 – that was the standard he set. 

Though that in itself should have been seen as unmatchable given how much he outperformed his expected goals (xG) and expected assists (xA). In total, he was involved in 14.9 more goals than the average player would have ordinarily expected given the quality of the chances, which was the most across the top five European leagues (Ciro Immobile was second with 13.5). 

It was surely unsustainable form and that was what his struggles in the first half of 2020-21 lent further credence to. But how does his form back then compare to his first steps in the Premier League? 

Lacking cohesion in new surroundings

It must be highlighted again that Sancho's first four Premier League matches represent a small sample size, so you obviously have to be a little cautious when it comes to drawing conclusions – after all, he could potentially score a hat-trick against West Ham and his record of three goals from five games would look pretty handy. 

Nevertheless, Sancho's early-season numbers certainly reflect the idea he is not offering a great deal to United. In fact, in terms of productivity, he's significantly down even on that difficult first few months of 2020-21. 

For starters, he has managed just two shots in 184 minutes on the pitch, which is obviously poor for someone brought in to be an attacking threat, particularly given he averaged 2.4 every 90 minutes pre-Christmas last season. Though there is a positive spin – some players may take hopeful snapshots in an attempt to dig themselves out of a rut, but Sancho at least is not panicking in that sense. 

His stunted productivity does extend to creativity, however. Creating one chance from open play every 90 minutes, he's down on both the pre- (1.6) and post-Christmas (2.5) periods from 2020-21, and the combined quality of the openings he has crafted have not been especially threatening with an average xA of 0.11 per 90 minutes. 

Even when deemed to be struggling last season, Sancho's xA value per key pass was almost three times as high (0.32). Of course, Sancho was in surroundings that were familiar to him and linking with players whose habits and characteristics he was more comfortable with, and there's a lot to be said for the value of cohesion, especially when things aren't going your way. 

That is presumably something Sancho will have to work on even harder at United, given he has limited experience of playing with his new team-mates. 

Lacking confidence, playing it safe

Building a natural familiarity can only be even more of a challenge when you appear devoid of confidence. We can only speculate as to why that may be the case, but it is a reasonable assumption to make that he is lacking in self-belief. 

His ordeal at Euro 2020 – when he played just 96 minutes before being specifically sent on in the last seconds of extra time in the final and missed his spot-kick – and the subsequent racist abuse he suffered on social media must have had an impact on his mental state. It would be shocking if it had not, though who is to say if that is the sole cause? 

What we can say is that Sancho's apparent dip in confidence seems to have manifested in a greater reluctance to take players on. He almost looks sheepish when faced up by defenders – it should be the other way round – and as such he is attempting significantly fewer dribbles. 

He tried to beat his man 5.7 times per 90 minutes in the first part of 2020-21, and that rose to 6.9 after the mid-season break – he is attempting 3.9 dribbles and completing 1.5 each game in the Premier League for United. 

He is touching the ball far less often (64.1 touches per 90 minutes compared to 84.8 in the first half of last season), though 64 touches hardly suggests he is being ignored by team-mates. 

But there is always a chance that United players may end up looking to others if Sancho is not deemed enough of a threat – after all, his average of 4.9 shot-ending sequence involvements per game is 1.6 fewer than he managed across all of last season. 

This in itself is interesting because it suggests that, although Sancho was not as much of a creator or finisher in the first part of 2020-21, his influence in the build-up remained constant over the two periods of the campaign. 

Linked to that is the frequency with which he played passes (including crosses) into the box, averaging 9.4 each game pre-Christmas and 9.5 after the mid-season break. But during these early weeks with United, he is producing just 3.4 such passes every 90 minutes. 

Obviously, Sancho's reasoning for this could quite possibly be that he has not seen team-mates in enough space, given most teams United face will have fairly packed defences. But fans would argue he is the sort of player who should be unlocking deep backlines either through his creativity or ability on the ball, and so far he has largely been unable to. 

Nevertheless, it is still far too early for anyone to start suggesting Sancho is enduring something of a crisis. He should be afforded patience and time to build meaningful on-pitch relationships with others in the United squad. 

But when it comes to attaining some confidence, Sancho might just need to take the odd leap of faith – he is playing it safe and that is not what United bought him for. 

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