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Manchester United linked to 23-year-old Villarreal central defender – reports

Manchester United have been linked with a move for Villarreal central defender Pau Torres this summer according to a report from The Times. Over the past season, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have seen that his defence requires attention this summer despite signing Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire last summer for more that £125 million, before add-ons. Victor Lindelof has not looked like the most solid partner for Maguire, despite his brilliant performance against Leicester City on the final day of the Premier League season.

United have already been linked to Bournemouth central defender Nathan Ake, after Solskjaer was speaking to the player after their recent match and Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes already this summer with Torres being another name added to that list. It is suggested that the Spanish defender has become Solskjaer’s number one defensive target this summer after helping Villarreal rise to fifth in La Liga. It is expected that Torres, if United sign him, would replace Lindelof in the starting XI which would also see Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe slip down the pecking order at the Old Trafford club.

During the course of the delayed 2019/20 season, playing in La Liga and the Copa del Rey, Torres made a total of 36 appearances for Villarreal scoring two goals and two assists. Barcelona also seem to be interested in the Spaniard this summer but their finances could be a problem with United seemingly having the money to spend. It would all come down to whether the player would want to move to Manchester from his native Spain. Two seasons ago, the player was loaned to Malaga where he proved his potential.

The 23-year-old is known for his aerial ability and is left-footed, which is one of the reasons why a big deal was made of the fact that Solskjaer spoke to Ake after the Bournemouth match. The player has already made his international debit for the Spain senior side, playing in a UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier against Malta in which he scored the third goal of the game in the 7-0 victory played in Cadiz. The player has a €43 million release clause (£39 million) which is interesting. It is also suggested that Real Madrid are showing interest in the player.

If he is indeed a target for Solskjaer, United might need to act quickly in the transfer market. With suggestions that United are confident of reaching a deal with Borussia Dortmund for Jadon Sancho this summer, it remains to be seen if United can sort out transfers of more than one player consecutively, as last summer, that was not something the club was able to do. United will need to act quickly though as if Barcelona are serious about the player, it may just be a matter of time before the club make their move.

I am sure that United will have other defensive targets this summer, other than the likes of Ake, Magalhaes and Torres but it would seem that United are actively seeking to bring in a defender to solve the problems at the back. Having a solid defence at the club will be important if United want to build on the season that has just been completed. During the 2018/19 season, United conceded 54 goals in the Premier League alone, reducing that to 36 goal during the 2019/20 season. To improve even more, reducing that against during the 2020/21 season will be imperative. Perhaps Torres could help, if United end up signing the Spaniard?

Written by John Walker

Ratings: Manchester United 1-0 Villarreal – Premier League International Cup 2016/17

In the club’s first foray into the Premier League International Cup, Manchester United’s U23’s faced off against reigning champions Villarreal at what can now be called the youth side’s home ground of Leigh Sports Village. It was an impressive start to the tournament for the young reds against a far more experienced side as they won 1-0 thanks to a Josh Harrop goal, in which they then controlled the game expertly. Regan Poole, Ethan Hamilton and Charlie Scott had impressive performances whilst Axel Tuanzebe and Joe Riley continue to look above their current level. On the whole, though the side can be proud of the way in which they went about a match that was delayed by an hour due to weather and floodlight issues. Warren Joyce will be pleased his team could get the result they wanted, winning their first Premier League International Cup fixture against the current holders. United next face Sparta Prague in December.

Goals: Josh Harrop 34′

Assists: Ethan Hamilton 34

Manchester United: Johnstone; El Fitouri, Tuanzebe, Poole, Riley; Scott, McTominay; Redmond(Olosunde 46′), Willock, Harrop (Kehinde 80′), Hamilton (Mitchell 90+3′)

Substitutes Not Used: Henderson, Doughty, O’Connor

Here are the player ratings from the 1-0 victory over Villarreal in the Premier League International Cup:

Manchester United

40 Sam Johnstone

Johnstone did his job when called upon although he potentially could've been helpless for two of Villarreal's early chances as they got through United's defence twice in the first five minutes. He had no outstanding saves to make but that's no fault against the 23-year-old as he kept a clean sheet.

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Ratings: Manchester United 1-0 Villarreal – Premier League International Cup 2016/17

He was tidy in possession and was looking to move the ball around quickly in attack which contributed to United's upheld pressure on the Villarreal defence. However, he was suspect positionally and was fortunate that it didn't cost his side at different stages in the match.

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38 Axel Tuanzebe

The new captain at this level put in a performance typical of him at this level, superb defensively and superb on the ball, there's little more he could do to impress any further. Although his runs forward are nothing new, one that he made in this game saw Tuanzebe find himself in a promising position offensively, as a result of which he hit a cracking shot from 25 yards out which could easily have doubled United's tally.

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Regan Poole

This was one of Poole's best performances since joining the club last summer. Committed in the tackle and making important interceptions throughout the match, the Welshman was defending on the front foot and was completely successful in doing so. He was also comfortable in possession and wasn't afraid to venture out with the ball, much like his centre-back partner, this greatly contributed to the team building up from the back and maintaining control of the match.

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Joe Riley

Yet another lively game from fullback Joe Riley. A great run forward early on almost set up Willock for what would have been the opener; it was a lung busting effort which deserved an end product but sheer number of yellow shirts in the middle meant that this wasn't the case but this was a sign of what was to come from Riley as he continued to get forward throughout the whole match relentlessly. He also did his job defensively and didn't put a foot wrong all night.

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39 Scott McTominay

Strong both in the tackle and on the ball, McTominay is growing in stature in games and showing why central midfield is his best position as opposed to lone-ranger upfront. He rotated with makeshift striker Matty Willock well, swapping positions seamlessly throughout the 90 minutes although he could mainly be found performing box-to-box duties. He was brought down numerous times when getting forward, a tribute to how elusive he was, he'd have hoped for better end product on his runs forward but he did well nonetheless.

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Charlie Scott

Scott was comfortable on the ball in what was his first start at Under-23 level and he would've done no harm to his chances of getting more minutes from here onwards. In an unfamiliar wide right midfield position, he got forward well and contributed to attacks, rarely if ever lost possession and, vitally, covered for El Fitouri well on numerous occasions, showing that he still had his defensive head on.

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Devonte Redmond

It was another quiet game for the midfielder although he was part of a well-functioning midfield which shut down Villarreal's efforts for the most part. Positionally he looked much better than in previous matches and made a couple of good cross field passes but he'll still be looking to impose himself in matches more, both in regaining possession and breaking lines going up the pitch. He was taken off at half-time but it is unknown whether it was tactical or forced.

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Ratings: Manchester United 1-0 Villarreal – Premier League International Cup 2016/17

Harrop got his first goal in a long time with what proved to be the winner for the Under-23s, as he was played in by Ethan Hamilton and finished well with his left foot from what was a narrowing angle. He was booked for simulation in the first half but got on with the game and was influential in the final third for United, with winning the ball high up the pitch as well as creating chances.

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Ethan Hamilton

The standout player for United in what was his first start for the Under-23s. The Under-18 player got the assist for Josh Harrop's goal and it was a fitting reward for his efforts. Playing in left midfield, he was proficient in attack and should have had the second assist for Joe Riley late in the game to clinch it but the fullback skewed his effort. He recovered the ball well consistently in the game and his pressing was second to none on the pitch; Hamilton also showed good awareness positionally, picking opportune times to drift centrally and take advantage of the space ahead of him, which led to his most of his brightest moments in attack although he wasn't afraid to try to beat his man done the outside.

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Matty Willock

In an unusual role for him, Willock put in as could a performance as you could hope for. His hold up play was decent and he often managed to keep hold of the ball and lay it back to his onrushing supporters. He lacked the movement of a natural centre-forward which is to be expected but he played the false nine position well and allowed his teammates to have some promising moments running off of him, he also dropped into midfield at times which added a needed extra body. Was the most impressive player in the dying minutes of the game for United as he expertly killed off the match further up the pitch.

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Substitutes

Matthew Olosunde

On for Devonte Redmond. He came at half time and done a similar job to Redmond although he came under slightly less pressure. Remains to be seen where he is truly most comfortable on the pitch but he put in a decent performance.

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Tosin Kehinde

On for Josh Harrop. Was energetic in pressing the Villarreal back line when he came on but he had little time to do anything on the ball as United looked to hold the game out.

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35 Demetri Mitchell

On for Ethan Hamilton. Only had little over a minute on the pitch.

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Report: Manchester United 1-0 Villarreal – Premier League International Cup 2016/17

Manchester United’s U23’s played their first ever Premier League International Cup match at Leigh Sports Village on Tuesday evening as they faced last year’s champions, Villarreal. United made one change to the team which drew with Manchester City in their last game with 17-year-old Ethan Hamilton making his first U23 start as he replaced Demetri Mitchell. There was also a place on the bench for 16-year-old Lee O’Connor who has impressed for the under 18’s since joining the club from Irish side Villa F.C. this summer.

After an hour delay due to a power cut caused by bad weather in the area, the game kicked off and it was Villarreal who started better with Ié going close in the second minute but his shot flew wide after cutting in from the right. Villarreal went close again in the fourth minute but the attacker tried to pass the ball when clean through on goal and the chance went wide. United began to get to grips with the game following a difficult opening few minutes and had their first chance of the game in the 17th minute as Harrop won the ball in midfield and drove forward with the ball but dragged his 20-yard shot wide of the post.

Following a brilliant run down the left from Hamilton, the ball found its way to Harrop in the box who went down far too easily under a challenge but the referee waved away United’s appeals and booked Harrop. The game was becoming a really competitive affair with both sides flying into challenges with McTominay winning the ball back for United on a number of occasions and Poole making a couple of important interventions. United took the lead in the 34th minute as the impressive Hamilton won the ball in midfield and carried it forward before playing the ball to the overlapping Harrop who finished well with his left foot to make it 1-0.

Following the goal, Villarreal began to come forward a bit more and a couple of efforts from the edge of the box but Johnstone dealt with them comfortably. When Villarreal did manage to create an opportunity in the 42nd minute with a dangerous cross from the right-wing United’s captain Tuanzebe was in the right place to make the clearance. Villarreal then threatened again a couple of minutes later from a 25-yard free kick but Johnstone again saved comfortably. United went in at half time leading 1-0.

United went close to increasing their lead in the opening minute of the second half following good work from Hamilton and Harrop down the left the ball fell to Hamilton in the box but he was crowded out by defenders. Axel Tuanzebe has been praised a lot this season for his defensive work but showed he has the footballing ability to go with it in the 49th minute as he won the ball on the halfway line and drove forward with the ball before unleashing a powerful from 25 yards which the goalkeeper did well to push away before Tuanzebe’s effort from the rebound hit a United player in an offside position.

Villarreal threatened to get back into the game in the 59th as Ié won the ball on the right wing and fired in a dangerous cross but Poole did extremely well to adjust his body and knock the ball out for a corner. United were doing very well to deny Villarreal space in attack with Poole and Tuanzebe stepping in to win the ball back quickly on a number of occasions and Johnstone a virtual spectator for much of the half. Hamilton continued to cause problems for Villarreal down the left and United won their first corner of the match in the 73rd minute of the match from another of his runs.

Villarreal went close to a spectacular equalizer in the 75th minute as Raba’s effort from 40 yards had Johnstone beaten but was narrowly over the bar. They went even closer a minute later as Gonzalez was allowed too much space in the box and smashed a powerful shot past Johnstone which hit the inside of the post and flew across the goal but stayed out. Villarreal were putting a lot of pressure on United in the closing stages as their experience began to show. United responded by replacing Harrop with Kehinde in the 80th minute.

The change seemed to give United a renewed vigor as they got back on top in the game and went close to extending their lead in the 86th minute as Scott’s dangerous cross from a left-wing free-kick was punched up in the air by the goalkeeper and McTominay’s header was blocked on the line for a corner. United went close again in the 89th minute as Hamilton came forward again and found Riley on the overlap but his shot flew wide of the near post. Villarreal went close to 97th minute equalizer but Fernandez’s header flew narrowly wide. United held on to secure an impressive win with Poole, Tuanzebe, and Hamilton all excellent.

Goals: Josh Harrop 34′

Assists: Ethan Hamilton 34

Manchester United: Johnstone; El Fitouri, Tuanzebe, Poole, Riley; Scott, McTominay; Redmond(Olosunde 46′), Willock, Harrop (Kehinde 80′), Hamilton (Mitchell)

Substitutes Not Used: Henderson, Doughty, O’Connor

Starting XI: Manchester United v Villarreal – Premier League International Cup 2016/17

Manchester United U23’s face Villarreal for the very first time in the Premier League International Cup at Leigh Sports Village this evening. This is the first time United have entered this youth competition and it should be something which players learn from as they will be facing teams from other European leagues; Villarreal and Sparta Prague along with English side Middlesbrough. Warren Joyce has been left with a barebones squad with no out-and-out striker this season, which could change in January, or with the coach bringing players up from the U18 side, which should give those a much better challenge playing in an age group above theirs, which will also help with their development. Here are the starting XI’s and list of substitutes for both teams this evening.

Manchester United:

Johnstone;

El Fitouri, Tuanzebe, Poole, Riley;

McTominay;

Scott, Redmond, Harrop, Hamilton;

Willock

Substitutes:

Henderson, Olosunde, O’Connor, Kehinde, Doughty, Mitchell

Villarreal:

Femenias;

Ie, Bueno, Fernandez, Felipe;

Morlanes, Guerra;

Garcia, Raba, Lazo;

Gonzalez

Substitutes:

Perios, Cantero, Acosta, Lopez, Doffo, Cantelapiedra, Martinez

Preview: Manchester United v Villarreal – Premier League International Cup 2016/17

Leigh Sports Village, Leigh, Greater Manchester

Premier League International Cup

Tuesday 13th September 2016, KO 19:00 [Live on MUTV]

Manchester United U23’s play their first match in the Premier League International Cup this evening against Villarreal at Leigh Sports Village. The Spanish side is currently the holders of the cup and based on that could well be a challenge for Warren Joyce’s side. United have played four matches in the Premier League this season, winning once, losing once and drawing their last two matches against Chelsea and Manchester City. Joyce’s side has lost many players this summer with some being sold and others being loaned out for the whole season, or part of. A striker is the main thing that this United side is missing, with means that Joyce will have to look at the U18 squad, who have won their last three matches by scoring five goals in each, which after last season would be something that many could have only dreamed of. Joyce will have seen many players who are currently performing well, which may suggest they are finding that age level easy and need a challenge. Against City last Friday, Joyce promoted DJ Buffonge to his squad, also utilised Ethan Hamilton, who played from the bench against Chelsea.

Villarreal have a strong side at this level, winning the Premier League International Cup last season and will be looking to retain the cup this season. United will be up for the challenge too, not entering the cup before and it allowing their players to face some of the best invited teams to play in the competition from the continent. Joyce is a winner and strives to get the best from his players and playing some of the better youth teams in Europe this season could bring out something new in his players. Normally United’s player’s would not play in a competition like this and may only get the benefit of seeing how foreign teams play by being sent out on loan to one of them. Speaking to the official Manchester United website about the Premier League International Cup and holders Villarreal, Joyce said:

“It’ll be an interesting game. It will be a good test for us.

“Villarreal won it last year and, judging from the bits I’ve watched, the teams were quite old in their make-up and they all treated it like a proper competition really. This was particularly true of the foreign sides who often played almost their B teams, as they are called.

“I expect a tough game but a clever game, tactically, and we will have problems to solve. I anticipate them being older than us as well so it will be a proper test and should tick all the boxes you want for it to be a really good challenge for the boys as part of their education.”

Manchester United U23 Squad:

Manager: Warren Joyce

Goalkeepers: Sam Johnstone, Kieran O’Hara, Ilias Moutha-Sebtaoui

Defenders: Matthew Olosunde, Axel Tuanzebe, Ro-Shaun Williams, Regan Poole, Charlie Scott, Sadiq El Fitouri, Joe Riley

Midfielders: Scott McTominay, Tosin Kehinde, Josh Harrop, Sean Goss, Devonte Redmond, Matty Willock, DJ Buffonge, Ethan Hamilton

Forwards: Demitri Mitchell, Josh Doughty

Villarreal U23 Squad:

Manager: Paco López

Goalkeepers: Ander Cantero, Joan Femenías

Defenders: Edgar Ié, Felipe Alfonso, Maldo, José Peris, Juan Ibiza, Marcos Mauro, Miguelón, Pau Torres, Ramón Bueno

Midfielders: Agustín Doffo, Aitor Cantalapiedra, Anton Shvets, Daniel Raba, Javi García, Leo Suárez, Manu Morlanes, Pablo Larrea, Ramiro Guerra, Chuca

Forwards: Carlos López, Carlitos, Franco Acosta, Mario González

Manchester United U23 Form:- DDLWLL

Manchester City 1-1 D, Chelsea 1-1 D, Southampton 1-0 L, Leicester City 1-0 W, Oldham Athletic 1-1 (3-4 penalties) L [F], Port Vale 4-2 L [F]

Villarreal U23 Form:- WLDLWW

Sabadell 3-1 W, Barcelona II 3-2 L, Gavà 1-1 D, Cornellà 1-0 L, Olímpic de Xàtiva 5-1 W [F], Al Rayyan 3-0 W [F]

Predicted Starting XI:

Predicted Score:

Manchester United 2-1 Villarreal

copyright: JW