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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer taking Paul Scholes’ transfer advice this summer

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seems to be following the advice of former United teammate Paul Scholes this summer. ESPN has reported that United are interested in signing RB Leipzig central defender Dayot Upamecano this summer which was some of the advice that Scholes gave Solskjaer earlier in the summer. The United legend feels that United captain, Harry Maguire should have someone more capable playing alongside him as Victor Lindelof has not been ideal recently.

Scholes has talked about Maguire’s ‘slight weaknesses’ which have been seen during his first season at the Old Trafford club. United kept 13 clean sheets with both Lindelof and Maguire during the 2019/20 season, and the duo improved during the second half of the season but Lindelof was at fault for United conceding a goal against Sevilla which saw them exit the UEFA Europa League at the semi-final stage with Sevilla winning the competition for the sixth time. Speaking on BT Sport about United needing a ‘dominant centre half’ and reported by The Mirror, Scholes said:

“I think they could do with a centre half, I’ve said that all along. I’m not sure Lindelof going to be good enough as a partner for Maguire. I think they need a dominant defender next to him.

“Defensively, the full backs are OK. On the ball you’d have to question but defensively they’re OK. I think the defensive record over the last 15, 20 games has been very good, probably one of the best in the league so you have to take that into respect as well.

“But I still think a dominant centre-half next to Maguire, just to cover for the slight weaknesses he has.”

United will be expected to mount a credible Premier League title challenge during the 2020/21 season and Solskjaer has a starting XI that could do that although the quality in the remainder of the squad is the real issue. In defence, United have Lindelof and Maguire as the first choice pairing, then there is Eric Bailly, who has suffered a number of injuries in his time at United. From there, you have Chris Smalling, who seems to be seeking an exit with AS Roma interested, Marcos Rojo, who seems to be close to an exit and Phil Jones, who has been injury prone throughout his career at United.

Axel Tuanzebe and Teden Mengi will provide some depth in the squad but the pair lack experience with Mengi still a teenager and looking to make the rise into the first team inside the next season or two. If United were to get rid of Smalling, Jones and Rojo this summer, Solskjaer would need to sign at least one central defender, which would leave Lindelof, Bailly, Maguire, Tuanzebe, Mengi (sparingly) and at least one new signing in defence this summer. However, there is no guarantee that Solskjaer will be able to sell the likes of Jones and Rojo based on a lack of interest in the pair.

I believe that Solskjaer wants to build something great at United but he will need to be backed by the hierarchy at the club, which is something that is not as guaranteed as it should be. The signing of Donny van de Beek will be a welcome addition at the club and a signing that should ensure United’s midfield is one of the best in the Premier League. If a winger and a striker can be signed, alongside a defender, then United will be ready to take on the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City to close the gap on the pair and actually challenge for the title for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson managed the club.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United to go all out to sign Dayot Upamecano

Manchester United are reportedly ready to go all out for RB Leipzig central defender Dayot Upamecano after wrapping up the signing of Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek this summer. The Dutchman has a medical in the Netherlands ahead of his transfer to the Old Trafford club and is likely to play for his country in the upcoming matches against Poland (Friday) and Italy (Monday). United are known to be admirers of Upamecano, 21 and missed out on signing him as a teenager.

The 21-year-old French defender has many clubs interested in him with Arsenal and Real Madrid amongst the suitors. At the end of July, Leipzig signed the player on a contract extension, which will expire in the summer of 2023 but includes a £40 million release clause which can be activated in a years time. However, it is expected that United will be seeking to get a deal done for the player this summer, according to ESPN, which will probably cost more than his release clause would next summer.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is keen to bolster his defence ahead of the 2020/21 season, finding a partner for Harry Maguire that could lead United forward from the back. Upamecano is a player that Solskjaer could see playing for United and fitting into the club. Leipzig might not want to part company with the player this summer, which is something that United will be hopeful of. They should tempt them with a £50 million bid, or something in that region, which might just get accepted.

During the 2019/20 season, Upamecano made a total of 38 appearances for his club, not scoring any goals but assisting twice. The 21-year-old can play in both positions in central defence, if right-footed and can also operate in the defensive midfield position, although he did not player their during the course of last season. Upamecano played for Valenciennes FC as a youth player when United were interested in adding him to their academy. However, the player signed for Austrian side FC Liefering.

At FC Liefering, Upamecano made 16 appearances before making a move to Red Bull Salzburg in a €2.2 million deal during the winter transfer window of that season. The Frenchman played for a season (two half seasons) at the club, making a total of 23 appearances, scoring no goal but adding two assists. He signed for RB Leipzig in January 2017 for €10 million and to this date has made a total of 113 appearances for the club, scoring three goals and two assists. He originally signed a four and a half year contract which was extended this summer until the summer of 2023.

If United had completed the deal for the player whilst he was a teenager, he could well have risen through the ranks into the first team by now. However, with that said, playing for the Red Bull clubs; Salzburg and Leipzig, he has learned a lot about first team football which will have advanced his game a bit more as there is something about the two clubs and their production of great quality players. United should aim to get something completed this summer as next summer, with the release clause active, there will be a lot of interest in the player.

Written by John Walker

Five central defenders Manchester United should be seeking to sign this summer

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will need to sign a central defender at the club this summer after the defence did not perform to the best of their abilities, despite recovering from conceding 54 goals in the Premier League alone during the 2018/19 season, and conceding just 36 goals in the 2019/20 season, becoming the third best defence in the league – conceding one goal more than Manchester City and three more than reigning champions Liverpool.

It has been suggested that United will be seeking to sign a winger, a central midfielder and a defender this summer. Lots of names have been linked to the club this summer. On Monday, I published an article which talked about five other options for the right-wing position other than Jadon Sancho, which seemed to be well received. This articles will talk about five different defenders that could be good for United sign this summer. Some of them have been linked to the club already, some have not.

Here are five options that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could pursue to actually sign a central defender this summer…

Dayot Upamecano, 21, RB Leipzig (right-footed)

The 21-year-old Frenchman has been linked to United already this summer and was targeted by the club whilst still a teenager with United not actually ending up signing the player. Granted, he is not left-footed but he would be an upgrade to United’s defence. Upamecano plays in a similar position as Maguire at United, on the left side of the central defence, despite being right-footed. His attributes tick all the boxes though and him signing for United would start to address some problems.

Contracted until the summer of 2023, the 21-year-old will be on the transfer wish lists of many clubs around Europe. He signed his last contract extension at he end of July 2020. During the course of the 2019/20 season, which saw RB Leipzig reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, defeated 3-0 by finalists Paris Saint-Germain, Upamecano made a total of 38 appearances for his club, scoring no goals and adding two assists. He can play in either central defensive position, also as a defensive midfielder, although he did not play in that position during the course of the season.

Pau Torres, 23, Villarreal (left-footed)

The Spaniard is one of the most sought-after players in Europe this summer and has already been linked to United. With Solskjaer seemingly seeking a left-footed defender this summer, having been linked to Nathan Ake and Gabriel Magalhaes. Torres is described as a textbook Spanish defender with good distribution, is comfortable on the ball and gets involved in buildup play. Torres has also been likened to former United and current Barcelona defender, Gerard Pique.

Torres is contracted until the summer of 2024, signing his last contract in October 2019. During the course of the 2019/20 season, the 23-year-old made a total of 36 appearances for his club, scoring two goals and two assists. The player could be available for less than £50 million this summer, which would be a big investment for United but they would be getting a defender who could quickly become a competent defender at the club and a player that could help United lift trophies.

Alessio Romagnoli, 25, AC Milan (left-footed)

The Italian is the oldest player in this article but at 25 still has a lot to do in the game. His is the captain of Milan and his leadership, at the back, would be a great addition for United. Romagnoli is aggressive, commanding and authoritative and has an excellent passing range and is often looking to break down the opposition by breaking down passes and distributing the ball forwards to put his team on the attack. This type of player could work well alongside Harry Maguire at United.

His current contract will expire in the summer of 2022, signing his last contract in the summer of 2018. There is a chance his club will be sitting down with him to renew his contract, but that could be something United could thwart if they had interest in the player this summer. The 25-year-old can play in either central defensive position, also filling in at left-back, should he need to. During the 2019/20 season, the player made a total of 39 appearances, scoring one goal.

Dan-Axel Zagadou, 21, Borussia Dortmund (left-footed)

The Frenchman plays for Borussia Dortmund, so because of the Jadon Sancho transfer seemingly faltering, United might not want to start negotiations with this player. That said, the player does not see any reason to leave the German club this summer, despite his contract expiring in the summer of 2022. United might have many other options themselves regarding this position, and Zagadou might not even be on their list, although based on the future he could have, he should be.

That said, his injury problems could be a concern, which is unfortunate. He seems to have suffered a few knee related injuries recently, which might suggest an underlining problem for the future. During the 2019/20 season, Zagadou made a total of 22 appearances for his club, scoring one goal and one assists. He played a total of 26 minutes for his club in the final two matches of the season, returning from his latest knee injury. The played is said to be extremely strong, robust and has an aerial presence at the back, which would be good for United moving forward.

Victor Nelsson, 21, FC Copenhagen (right-footed)

The Danish youth international has a good future ahead of him. He would be considered as the wild card addition in this article purely based on how he played when United faced FC Copenhagen in the quarter final of the UEFA Europa League earlier this month. United struggled to get the better of their opposition in that first match in Germany, needing extra time and a penalty to beat them. Nelsson played well in that match and really threw himself into challenges and blocks to give his side the defensive advantage.

The 21-year-old is contracted until the summer of 2024 at his club, so they have no reason to sell but a move to United could be a good one for the player. During the 2019/20 season, Nelsson made 54 appearances for his club, not scoring a single goal but adding one assist. Mainly a central defender, Nelsson can also play in the defensive midfield position, as well as the central midfield position, although has not played in either midfield role during the course of the season.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United join Arsenal in chase for Dayot Upamecano with defence an issue at the club

Manchester United have joined Arsenal in scouting RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano ahead of the 2020/21 season starting. Reports like this make me wonder if football clubs know what they are doing when it comes to looking for players. United have had plenty of time to scout the player, especially with him being involved in the UEFA Champions League until Tuesday evening when they were defeated 3-0 by Paris Saint-Germain. United could have signed the player when he was still a teenager.

The Athletic has reported that United and Arsenal will scout the player with the view of making a move for the 21-year-old this summer. The pursuit of Gabriel Magalhaes will be a deciding factor in which club continue to pursue the Frenchman, unless Arsenal are seeking more than one defender this summer. Reports on Thursday suggested that United have made a move for Magalhaes with the player taking a few days to make a decision regarding his future.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer signed both Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire last summer, for around £135 million in a big to steady the shaky defence and with 54 goals conceded in the Premier League alone on the 2018/19 season, reducing to 36 goals conceded in the 2019/20 season, there has been progress but there is more work to be done. Whether it is Magalhaes or Upamecano, it matters not who, United could finally have a defence worthy of challenging for the biggest prizes in football, starting with a league title.

During the 2019/20 season, Upamecano, 21, made a total of 38 appearances, playing 28 times in the Bundesliga, eight times in the Champions League and twice in the DFB-Pokal. The Frenchman scored no goals but added two assists during the course of the season – both in the Bundesliga against Union Berlin and Fortuna Düsseldorf. The Frenchman is yet to be capped for his country, playing at each youth level from U16 right the way through to U21 level, so the progression is there for the player.

Arsenal have been interested in the Frenchman throughout the 2019/20 season and Real Madrid are also said to be interested but this summer might be a problem for them because of the coronavirus pandemic and the financials involved in big transfers, which might see them sit out until the summer of 2021. If the player is not interested in signing for either Arsenal or United, he might decide to stay put this summer, aiming to see what his options were next summer.

That said, Leipzig seem to be fully aware that they could lose the defender before the 5 October closure of the summer transfer window and the club will make sure that the player does not leave for any less than their valuation of the player. A minimum of £50 million would be likely this summer, especially if there was lots of interest from different clubs. However, next summer, the player’s £40 million release clause becomes active, which could see another club swoop in and sign the player.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United and Arsenal in transfer boost as club hints that talented £53.25 million defender could be sold – reports

Manchester United and Arsenal have reportedly been handed a big transfer boost with reports suggesting that RB Leipzig central defender Dayot Upamecano could leave the Bundesliga club for around £53.25 million this summer. It is expected that United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will press on with his rebuild of the club this summer.

Upamecano has been highly-rated by many European club ahead of the summer transfer window with good performances for his team before the coronavirus pandemic halted world football back in March. It has been reported that United will be seeking to sell defenders this summer, including Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Diogo Dalot.

There will be some significant financial uncertainty because of the pandemic which could force Leipzig’s hand in terms of selling the player. United were once tipped to sign the French defender but it never happened for the club with the player seemingly being added to the clubs academy at the time, instead leaving Valenciennes FC for RB Salzburg.

United will find competition from Premier League rivals Manchester City and Arsenal for the 21-year-old this summer and it is expected that Bundesliga reigning champions Bayern Munich will rival the English clubs for the player. Recently, Leipzig managing director Oliver Mintzlaff spoke to Sport 1 about Upamecano possibly leaving Leipzig, saying:

“In the Covid-19 crisis, we have other issues greater than concerns about contracts.

“We know the terms of our players’ contracts and I know them very well – especially that of our top performers.

“For us, it is a no go that the top performers will be allowed to leave our club free of charge.

“That’s the case with Timo Werner and that will be the case with Dayot Upamecano. I have the economic stability of the club in mind.”

This season, Upamecano has made a total of 29 appearances, playing in the Bundesliga, the DFB-Pokal and the UEFA Champions League, not scoring any goals but registering an assist. Upamecano is relatively early into his career and already seems to be gaining the plaudits of a top player, or at least a player with a lot of potential, which is what he is.

During his career, Upamecano has played a total of 143 times in a first team environment, scoring three goals and a further three assists. He has played for FC Liefering 16 times, Red Bull Salzburg 23 times, assisting two goals there and a total of 104 appearances for RB Leipzig, where he has three goals and one assist.

The talented 21-year-old has been capped 46 times at youth level for France, playing in the U16s, U17s, U18s, U19s, and U21s, scoring one youth international goal. As yet, the player has not been capped by the France senior team – but there is time for him to achieve that. Upamecano helped France win the UEFA U17 European Championships where he was named in the team of the tournament.

If United do sell Smalling, Jones, Rojo and Dalot, there will be some availability in defence next season with just Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, and Axel Tuanzebe the experienced players in the team. Adding the likes of Upamecano could be crucial for Solskjaer to build a team capable of playing together for a number of years and achieving what he wants them to achieve.

copyright: JW