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Paul Pogba’s transfer situation at Manchester United has changed, according to Phil Neville

Former Manchester United defender and Class of 1992 graduate Phil Neville believed that Paul Pogba will stay at the Old Trafford club for many years to come and become and all-time club great. The French World Cup winner, 27, faced an uncertain future at United after announcing that he wanted a new challenge last summer.

However, after a season filled with injury and the arrival of Bruno Fernandes during the January transfer window, Pogba could have a new sense of security at the Old Trafford club seeing the club build things whilst he was recovering from ankle injuries this season. He has since returned to full fitness and is helping United on the pitch once again.

There are suggestions that both Real Madrid and Juventus are both interested in signing Pogba, however, the coronavirus pandemic seems to have thwarted any chances of that with United reluctant to lower their valuation on the player with Real Madrid and Juventus not wanting to pay much, or send unwanted players instead of paying a fee.

Neville believes that all the transfer speculation related to Pogba is now in the past as the player has seen what United can do in the transfer market which seems to have rekindles his excitement at the club, which he returned to in the summer of 2016, stating that United was his destiny at the time. Neville, speaking to Premier League Productions, said:

“Before the shutdown I would have said definitely he would leave the club but I think the situation has changed.

“It’s a different dynamic now. I think with the introduction of Bruno Fernandes and the way they’re playing [is positive].

“The way the trajectory of the team is looking I think Pogba might be thinking ‘I think this is a good team to stay and play in’ and to commit more than he has done in the past.

“Yes the economic situation has changed but i still think for Paul Pogba, stay at Manchester United, prove yourself, become a great at the club that you joined at 14 years of age.”

So far this season, Pogba has made just 11 appearances for United and has not yet scored any goals, assisting three times, two of them from the very start of the season when United beat Chelsea 4-0 at the Theatre of Dreams. It is good to see Pogba back in the team and believing in himself and United once again, pushing to end this season on a high then moving on to the next.

Marcus Rashford is getting the right praise to continue his rise to fame

Marcus Rashford scored the winning goal for England in their 2-1 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Slovakia on Monday evening. The player did well in the match despite being at fault for Slovakia’s opening goal inside three minutes with Rashford tracking back to cover for Kyle Walker, who was out of position, him not being blamed for that but Rashford being blamed for helping to concede the goal. United equalised through Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Eric Dier with Rashford getting the assist from a corner, scoring the winner in the 59th minute of the match. England manager Gareth Southgate praised Rashford for his “huge impact” in his comments after the match.

Manchester United teammate Phil Jones praised Rashford, suggesting that he will become a “world beater” for the Old Trafford club with the 19-year-old off to a great start this season. In the three matches United have played in the Premier League this season, all victories, Rashford has played in all three, starting in the 4-0 victories over West Ham United and Swansea City, coming off the bench in the 2-0 victory over Leicester City. The England international has scored once (Leicester City) and assisted another goal (West Ham United) also adding the assist and goal for England against Slovakia. Jones feels Rashford has only just scratched the surface of his potential. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, Jones said:

“He’s a great lad off the pitch and, on it, he’s a special talent. He’s already special but he’ll be a world-beater one day, he’s that good.

“He’s so quick, sharp, technically gifted, two-footed and a nightmare for defenders. You’ve seen it this season already, he’s given defenders nightmares.

“He’s an academy product and players from the youth system have done great over the last few years. He’s a special player and we’re lucky to have him.”

Class of 92 graduate and former England international Phil Neville also praised Rashford after Monday’s World Cup qualifier victory over Slovakia which sees England only points away from confirming their place in the FIFA World Cup in Russia next summer. Neville, also a former coach for United in the David Moyes season, and post-Moyes departure with Ryan Giggs leading the club alongside Neville and Paul Scholes. Neville, speaking to Sky Sports spoke about Rashford and how nothing fazed him, saying:

“I think we saw what Rashford is all about and his unbelievable temperament in showing that nothing really fazes him. After criticism of the performance in Malta and then what was probably Rashford’s mistake in trying to run the ball out of defence for Slovakia’s opener, he responded by showing he is made for the big stage.”

Neville also spoke about Rashford’s start to the season and that he seems to have goals on his mind, scoring one for United, also an assist, plus the same for England one month into the new season. The former United player also spoke about the position Rashford has been playing, predominantly on the wing, which is where he fits in at this moment in time whilst he is developing as a player. Some question why the player is put on the wing, Neville offers his opinion comparing it with Thierry Henry, who played on the wing in the early days  of his career, saying:

“This season he’s looked like he’s got goals on his mind, having more shots than before, and he has become stronger and faster. I think we’ve got an absolute star on our hands.

“People are questioning his position, whether he should be playing on the left or the right, but I don’t think it matters one bit just as long as he is playing.

“I played against Thierry Henry when he was on the left and that didn’t stop his development. What it actually does is provide a bit more freedom and takes the pressure off a bit.”

Neville also stated that Rashford will end up as a centre-forward, the position he wants to play but has suggested himself that playing in the wide roles and behind a striker will see him learning much more to become that out-and-out striker he wants to be. Neville, concluding his comments on Rashford, said:

“Rashford will end up as a centre-forward but just getting minutes and experience is important. Playing in Europa League and FA Cup finals and for England is fantastic experience at that age.

“He’s already proven himself on the bigger stage and, as much as you don’t want to overhype young players, I think he’s perfectly poised to really step up at the World Cup.

“When you are talking about young players stepping up at major tournaments – Michael Owen in ’98, Wayne Rooney in ’04 – these players go to these tournaments and relish the opportunity to really announce themselves and I think Rashford can do that.”

Rashford seems to be in for a lot of praise at this moment in time with teammate Phil Jones suggesting he will be a world-beater, former Red Phil Neville suggesting that his development is going just fine, but the pinnacle of the praise comes from Ruud van Nistelrooy, a player who scored 150 goals in 219 appearances for United, scoring a total of 347 goals in 589 club appearances during his highly decorated career as a player. Van Nistelrooy made his return to Old Trafford this weekend in the legends match against Barcelona, scoring in the 2-2 draw which saw United win 5-3 over the two legs this summer. The Dutchman, reported by The Express, said:

“As a striker, of course, you depend on service, and now there’s a team that can create chances and can get you balls in the box as well, gets passes in, they can make your runs and get crosses in and that helps a lot.

“Looking back on what Marcus Rashford came into he’s done spectacularly well, as a young lad coming in to a team that didn’t score that many goals.

“He’s done brilliantly, so I think the development he’s gone through means he will only get better now.

“There’s creativity there, there’s passes there, there’s players who can move, who can finish.

“The full-backs are joining in, putting in the crosses as well, there’s a very strong block in the centre of the midfield and in the back, a strong goalkeeper so it’s a very complete squad at the moment.

“It was great to see United back winning the big trophies last year, and now they have built on a better squad and hopefully this year the football will join the trophies.”

It seems that Rashford is a player many have high hopes for, all for a good reason too. The player is not the flop than many a United supporter said he was, he is an exciting player who is willing to do what it takes to make his rise to fame come apparent during his career. Rashford is a long way from the finished article, but what he has done so far in his career has shown just what he is capable of. He fears nobody, which for a 19-year-old is great.

With praise coming from Jones, Neville and Van Nistelrooy, it really will show the player that he is doing the right things on his rise to stardom. Rashford will be a player that we hear more of and see more from this season with Jose Mourinho looking to get the best out of the teenager, fitting him into the squad with Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Zlatan Ibrahimovic when he returns from injury later this year if the reports are correct – Mourinho has previously suggested January but the player has been included in the clubs UEFA Champions League squad for the group stages of the competition.

Manchester United’s title bid strengthened by Nemanja Matic arrival

Former Manchester United player and coach, Phil Neville believes that Chelsea’s decision to sell Nemanja Matic, which he suggests was ‘horrendous’ has strengthened the Old Trafford club’s Premier League title bid. Jose Mourinho became United’s manager after Louis van Gaal was sacked in May 2016 and immediately started to strengthen the club with the immediate arrival of Eric Bailly, followed by both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, later followed by former world record signing, Paul Pogba. This summer, Mourinho has added Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku, and now Matic. The 29-year-old Serbian was sold to United for £40 million (£35 million plus £5 million in add ons, according to reports).

Neville, speaking to Sky Sports television programme, The Debate, said that United’s acquisition of Matic puts the club in the driving seat in the Premier League this season, the season Mourinho is expected to assemble a title-winning team, challenging and possibly bringing home the first league title after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, which has been four years now. Mourinho has done well with his side over the last season, finishing with three trophies; the FA Community Shield, EFL Cup and the UEFA Europa League, also qualifying for the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, which was something that needed to happen to stop United from having their adidas deal cut in terms of revenue. Neville said:

“I can’t think of a reason why Chelsea would sell him. If Nathaniel Chalobah or Ruben Loftus-Cheek were still there they could get rid of Matic and play a younger kid. 

“You would applaud that but those players aren’t even at the club now. They have weakened their own team and strengthened Manchester United, who now have a better chance of winning the Premier League than Chelsea.

“United were crying out for a central midfielder with the qualities of Nemanja Matic. He is probably the best in England alongside N’Golo Kante.

“Chelsea have broken up that partnership and strengthened their rivals. All of a sudden United are in the driving seat ahead of Chelsea to win the Premier League.

“Chelsea are weaker than last season – no Diego Costa, no Matic – and I’m concerned for them. Is Tiemoue Bakayoko a similar type of player to Matic? Will he gel alongside Kante?

“Matic has intelligence and experience of the Premier League. Bakayoko has not and I saw him in the Champions League last year. He was good in some games, inexperienced in others. He will take time to settle.

“I think the [Matic] sale at this moment in time, with that Chelsea squad, could cost them the league.”

Neville also suggested that he expected the arrival of Matic to help Paul Pogba settle a bit more and have the midfield freedom he would thrive on, making him more of the player he can become. Last season, many football supporters suggested that for a fee of £89 million, Pogba should have been more of a finished product and a player who could score more goals. It is like they expected the fee to dictate what a player does when that is not exactly the case and shows that they don’t exactly understand football. Pogba has never been a 20 goal a season player, he has been consistent with his performances for Juventus during the previous four seasons, stepping up to the competitive nature of the Premier League. Neville said:

“Every time we watched Pogba last season it was, ‘Where do you play him?’ Now there is no excuse.

“He has somebody in there that will fill the holes when he vacates them, he has licence to go wherever he wants and he [Matic] will provide that stability for the back four. Of all the signings United have made, Matic is the best one.

“Pogba teased us last year. In some games it was, ‘Wow’, and in others it was ‘Dear me’. This year is his year.

“Last season he reminded me at times of when United signed Juan Sebastian Veron. He was a brilliant midfield player, one of the best in the world, but he kept chasing the ball and vacating areas. That is difficult to play with and Pogba was like that last year.

“Pogba scored nine goals last season, I think he can get 15.

“It amazes me, why would you sell Matic to Manchester United? You are not only improving United in defensive midfield, you are making Pogba better, [Ander] Herrera better. It is a horrendous sale.”

Neville seems to see something that many have failed to see. When Matic was linked to United, the majority of supporters were moaning about the fact Mourinho was interested in bringing a ten 28-year-old to the club, him turning 29 the day after he signed. Some seem to stigmatise a players age, suggesting that the mere number means they cannot compete in the English top-flight, or on a European stage. You would have thought the arrival of a 35-year-old Swedish striker proving them wrong last season would have changed their opinion, it clearly didn’t. Matic made his debut against Sampdoria in Dublin, playing 45 minutes and showing he had fit right into his new team. He then made his competitive debut against Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup on Tuesday, playing 90 minutes and being the best player on the pitch for United. You can watch The Debate on Sky Sports Premier League at 22:00 BST tonight (Thursday 10th August 2017).

copyright: JW