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Manchester United will not sell Paul Pogba despite Juventus interest

Luka Modric leads a Clasico-dominated list of the best central midfielders, as Paul Pogba’s positioning causes a stir.
Jose Mourinho praised Paul Pogba and outlined what he needs to do to get back into the starting XI.

Manchester United will reject any attempts to prise Paul Pogba away from Old Trafford in January, sources have told ESPN FC, despite growing interest from Juventus in re-signing the France midfielder.

Pogba, who cost United a then-world record £89 million when returned to the club from Juventus in August 2016, has been dropped to the substitutes’ bench by manager Jose Mourinho for the club’s last two games, against Arsenal and Fulham in the Premier League.

Mourinho insisted after Saturday’s 4-1 win at home to Fulham that Pogba will start Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Valencia in Spain and will “show everyone how good he is.”

But despite Mourinho’s assurance that the 25-year-old will be given the chance to prove his worth this week, Pogba’s future at Old Trafford is increasingly uncertain following a turbulent season since helping France win the World Cup in Russia.

Paul Pogba has been on the bench for Manchester United’s last two matches.

Mourinho has stripped Pogba of the vice-captaincy, claiming that he is unsuited to the role, and the pair were also involved in a much-publicised training ground spat, when television cameras captured the manager clashing with the player in front of teammates.

Pogba, who was ranked as the fifth-best midfielder in in the ESPN FC 100, has also delivered thinly veiled criticisms of Mourinho’s tactics, saying United should “attack, attack, attack” after the draw at home to Wolves in September.

Mourinho last week refused to discuss allegations that he described Pogba as a “virus” following the 2-2 draw at Southampton earlier this month, but the player has not started a competitive game since his poor performance at St Mary’s.

But although the United hierarchy are aware of Pogba’s struggles with Mourinho this season, sources have told ESPN FC that the club has no intention to sell the player.

Barcelona have held a long-standing interest in Pogba, but financial constraints at the Camp Nou due to the Spanish champions’ wage bill make it unlikely that they would be able to pursue a move for the midfielder next month or during the next summer window.

Juventus are interested in taking their former player back to Turin, with sporting director Fabio Paratici saying last week that a move for Pogba has been “discussed many times.”

Sources have told ESPN FC that United and Juventus have a close relationship at board level and speak regularly, although the Old Trafford club have not been made aware of concrete interest from Juve in making a move for Pogba in January.

But while United know that there would be a market for the player if he was to be made available, there are no plans to sell Pogba next month.

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Cristiano Ronaldo challenges Lionel Messi to join him in Italy

The guys respond to your tweets about whether the Derby d’Italia is properly named, Gab Marcotti’s fandom, his friendship with Ale Moreno and more.
Mario Mandzukic’s diving header earned Serie A leaders Juventus a narrow win over rivals Inter in a tense Derby d’Italia in Turin.
Italian Serie A: Mario Mandzukic (66′) Juventus 1-0 Inter Milan

Cristiano Ronaldo has challenged Lionel Messi to leave Barcelona and join him in Serie A to prove his influence in another league.

Ronaldo told La Gazzetta dello Sport that he left his comfort zone by joining Juventus in the summer, and has laid down the gauntlet to Messi to follow his example.

“Maybe [Messi] misses me,” Ronaldo said. “I’ve played in England, Spain, Italy, Portugal and with the national team while he’s always been in Spain. Maybe he needs me more. For me, life is a challenge and I like it and I like making people happy.

“I’d like it if he came to Italy one day. He should do like me and accept the challenge. But if he’s happy there then I respect that: he’s a fantastic footballer, a great lad, but I’m not missing anything here. This is my new life and I’m happy.

“This is not a contest between me and Messi — I just do my job and I’ve been successful in each club I’ve played in and this is the most important thing. I don’t like being compared with others, it’s not fair. The numbers do the talking and if you see the statistics, you’ll see. I’ve tried to bring success to every club I’ve played in and the national team and I don’t have anything to prove.

“I’ve even changed my life and left my comfort zone, accepting this challenge which has gone well. I believed in myself and proved to the people that I’m still an incredible footballer.”

Ronaldo and Messi had shared the Ballon d’Or between them for a decade before Luka Modric broke their duopoly last week, with Messi also finishing ahead of Ronaldo in the ESPN FC 100.

The Juventus forward plans on winning the Ballon d’Or again next year, and said he was disappointed not to be recognised for his efforts in 2018.

“I think I deserve to win it every year, that’s what I work for, but if I don’t win it, it’s not the end of the world,” he said. “I respect the decision. I did everything I could to win it on the field and the numbers don’t lie, but don’t go thinking that I’m unhappy if I don’t win it.

“I’ve got fantastic friends, I play in one of the best clubs and you think I go home and cry? Of course I’m disappointed, but life goes on and I will just work even harder. So congratulations to Modric, he deserves it, but we’ll see next year and I will do everything I can to win it again, understood?”

Victory in the Champions League with Juventus would boost his chances, but he said the Bianconeri “must not make an obsession” out of Europe’s elite club competition, and that Real Madrid’s hunt for the Decima only succeeded when they managed to be more relaxed about it.

He achieved that in a side which included Marcelo, and while he says Juve do not need to add any new players this winter, he would make an exception for the full-back.

“Marcelo is a great player and we open the doors to any top players, and Marcelo is one of these,” he said.

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LIVE Transfer Talk: Manchester United to back Jose Mourinho and sign Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld

Jose Mourinho jokingly suggested Man United were trying to save money for January after he found no water at his press conference.

The transfer window for Europe’s biggest clubs may be closed but they are still working tirelessly behind the scenes to line up the arrival of their next star. Transfer Talk has been scouring the world’s media to see who could be heading to your club when Jan. 1 arrives.

TOP STORY: Jose Mourinho given green light to sign Alderweireld

It is not often one of the best centre-backs in Europe becomes available on the relative cheap but that is the case with Toby Alderweireld and Jose Mourinho has reportedly been given the go-ahead to sign the Spurs defender in January, according to the Sun.

Alderweireld’s contract is due to expire next year but while Tottenham are able to trigger a one-year extension, it would in turn activate a £25 million release clause for the final two weeks of the summer transfer window. So there is a chance Spurs may be open to letting the Belgium international leave in January if they receive an enticing offer.

Man United’s first choice centre-back target is Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly but, at £90m, he would prove very expensive. At 29, Alderweireld is two years older but the paper claims that Mourinho believes he could get him for around £40m and was reportedly given the green light during a meeting with his agent Jorge Mendes and United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward last week.


09.54 GMT: The world is waiting for Frenkie de Jong to decide where he wants to play and for a club to actually put up the €75m that Ajax require for his sale. PSG are reportedly his top choice, but Barcelona are also keen. Though nothing is happening yet.

“The only thing that I will say is that there is no agreement yet,” the midfielder said. “No official decision has been taken. All of my attention is on Ajax. I will finish the season here with Ajax and I certainly will not be leaving during the winter break.”

09.15 GMT: Manchester City may have been beaten for the first time this season by Chelsea this weekend, but they are set for some good news as the Daily Telegraph report that Phil Foden is about to sign a new six-year deal at the club.

The England Under-21 midfielder is one of the best young midfielders around and the new deal will tie him to City until 2024.

08. 55 GMT: Zlatan Ibrahimovic will remain at the Los Angeles Galaxy after the Major League Soccer club agreed with his requests, according to AC Milan sporting director Leonardo.

“He gave his word to Galaxy that he would stay if they satisfied his conditions, and they did so,” Leonardo said. “It would have been a really lovely story because it would have given a significant weight to the team. We can’t deny that both parties thought of it, but it will not be possible.”

08.30 GMT: Manchester United will reject any attempts to prise Paul Pogba away from Old Trafford in January, sources have told ESPN FC, despite growing interest from Juventus in re-signing the France midfielder.

Pogba, who cost United a then-world record £89.3m when he arrived from Juventus in August 2016, has been dropped to the substitutes’ bench by manager Jose Mourinho for the club’s last two games, against Arsenal and Fulham in the Premier League. But although the United hierarchy are aware of Pogba’s struggles with Mourinho this season, sources have told ESPN FC that the club has no intention to sell the player.

PAPER TALK (by Frank Smith, Football Whispers)

Club policy could see Chelsea lose David Luiz

Chelsea have a long-standing policy of only offering players over the age of 30 one-year extensions and that could be set to force David Luiz out of Stamford Bridge — despite the player and manager both wanting the Brazil international to remain, reports the Guardian.

Luiz will be out of contract next summer which means he is able to negotiate with clubs from abroad in January.

The 31-year-old and manager Maurizio Sarri have both stated publicly they want him to stay beyond this season but Chelsea’s hierarchy have reaffirmed their position when it comes to only offering one-year deals to players over 30, leaving the door open for clubs to lure the ex-PSG and Benfica man away by offering a longer contract.

United and Arsenal want the ‘new Toni Kroos’

Manchester United and Arsenal have set their sights on Hertha Berlin wonderkid Arne Maier, if the Sun’s report is to be believed.

The midfielder is 19 years old and has already been labelled as the next Toni Kroos — the Germany and Real Madrid star.

Maier is a Germany Under-21 international and has been tipped for senior honours in the near future after impressing for Hertha in the last 12 months. He is a defensive midfielder who is good at finding space between the lines and dictates the play despite his young age, with a good eye for through balls.

Maier is valued at around £15m although the Bundesliga side are likely to push for a fair bit more considering his talent.

Real, Barca, City transfer target discusses potential move

Tanguy Ndombele is one of the most sought-after players in Europe and he has today spoken to Canal Football Club about his proposed move to some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

Ndombele is just 21 years old but earned his first senior France call-up in October after starring for Lyon. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are among the clubs hoping to sign the £40m-rated midfielder.

“I don’t imagine how my career will go, I live it instead,” he added. “When I was young I didn’t dream of being in this or that club [like PSG], whether it is Real Madrid, Barcelona, City, I have never dreamed of being in a specific club like that.

“Of course they are big clubs, I don’t close the door to anyone. They [PSG] remain one of the biggest clubs in France, I am from a Paris banlieue [suburb].”

Man City are said to have lodged a £45m bid in the summer but Ndombele added remaining at Lyon proved to be the right decision.

Football Whispers’ top five emerging whispers

Football Whispers’ transfer algorithm gives the likelihood of rumours happening a score out of five.

Harry Kane to Barcelona — 1.8

The most talked about transfer story of the last 24 hours has been Harry Kane being a £200m transfer target for Barcelona. The 25-year-old has scored 13 goals in 21 appearances for his club this season but with five and a half years left on the England captain’s contract and a move into their new stadium on the horizon, Spurs would be reluctant sellers.

Kylian Mbappe to Juventus — 1.5

It has been reported that PSG will be looking to sell one of their star names due to concerns around FFP — something the Ligue 1 champions have denied — and that has led to claims Juventus are set to make a move for the France star. Kylian Mbappe cost PSG £165.7m earlier this year after the loan was made permanent and he is likely to cost close to or more than the current £200m world record fee paid for Neymar.

Cengiz Under to Manchester City — 2.4

Premier League champions Man City are said to have joined Arsenal and Chelsea in the race for Roma star Cengiz Under. It is claimed Pep Guardiola is ready to spend £50m on the 21-year-old Turkish winger, who joined the Serie A side for just £11.9m in the summer of 2017.

Denis Suarez to Chelsea — 3.6

Any hopes the likes of Chelsea have to sign Denis Suarez were boosted this week after the former Manchester City midfielder admitted he may leave Barcelona to secure regular first team football. It is reported the 24-year-old could cost as much as £40m and is wanted by a host of European clubs, including Arsenal.

Victor Moses to Crystal Palace — 2.7

Victor Moses has been integral to Chelsea’s success in recent years but he has become the “forgotten man” since Maurizio Sarri’s arrival and has been told he can leave Stamford Bridge in January, as long as the Blues receive £12m. Former club Crystal Palace are reportedly keen to bring him back to Selhurst Park.

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Bale delivers after Salah soars and City suffer

  • Bale ends ten-game goalless run in Liga as Madrid go fourth
  • Liverpool move top of Premier League and remain unbeaten
  • Dortmund claim spoils against Schalke, Bayern nine points back
  • Messi scores twice as Barcelona go three points clear in Spain
  • Mandžukić edges Juventus to 14th win from 15 Serie A games


Dortmund revel in beating rivals Schalke

Dortmund revel in beating rivals Schalke©Getty Images

Group A

Antoine Griezmann stays calm during Atlético's win

Antoine Griezmann stays calm during Atlético’s win©Getty Images

Waasland-Beveren 2-1 Club Brugge
Schalke 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
Monaco P-P Nice
Atlético 3-0 Alavés

11 December: Club Brugge v Atlético, Monaco v Dortmund

Group B

It was two more goals for Lionel Messi at Espanyol

It was two more goals for Lionel Messi at Espanyol©Getty Images

Leicester 0-2 Tottenham
Juventus 1-0 Internazionale Milano
PSV Eindhoven 6-0 Excelsior
Espanyol 0-4 Barcelona

11 December: Barcelona v Tottenham, Inter v PSV

Group C

Mohamed Salah was in superb form for Liverpool

Mohamed Salah was in superb form for Liverpool©Getty Images

Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool
Paris Saint-Germain P-P Montpellier
Crvena zvezda
3-0 Napredak
Napoli 4-0 Frosinone

11 December: Liverpool v Napoli, Crvena zvezda v Paris

Group D

Galatasaray 2-2 Rizespor
Lokomotiv Moskva 2-1 Orenburg
Schalke 1-2 Dortmund
Porto 4-1 Portimonense

11 December: Schalke v Lokomotiv, Galatasaray v Porto

Group E

Vitória Setúbal 0-1 Benfica
Bayern München 3-0 Nürnberg
AEK Athens
2-0 Lamia
Zwolle 1-4 Ajax

12 December: Ajax v Bayern, Benfica v AEK Athens

Group F

Júnior Moraes was on target again for Shakhtar

Júnior Moraes was on target again for Shakhtar©AFP/Getty Images

Mariupol 0-3 Shakhtar
Toulouse P-P Lyon
Wolfsburg 2-2 Hoffenheim
Chelsea 2-0 Manchester City

12 December: Man. City v Hoffenheim, Shakhtar v Lyon

Group G

Mario Mandžukić hit Juventus's winner against Inter

Mario Mandžukić hit Juventus’s winner against Inter©Getty Images

Zlín 0-2 Viktoria Plzeň
CSKA Moskva 2-1 Yenisey Krasnoyarsk
Huesca 0-1 Real Madrid
Cagliari 2-2 Roma

12 December: Real Madrid v CSKA Moskva, Plzeň v Roma

Group H

Manchester United 4-1 Fulham
Valencia 1-1 Sevilla
Juventus 1-0 Internazionale Milano
Young Boys 3-2 Thun

12 December: Valencia v Man. United, Young Boys v Juventus

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What makes Franck Ribéry special?

A 2013 European champion and eight-time Bundesliga winner, Franck Ribéry has sparkled since joining Bayern München from Marseille over a decade ago and is still going strong. pays homage to the Frenchman.

Expert testimony

“He’s still a world-class player. He’s a monster in terms of mental strength and still improving.”
Niko Kovač, Bayern coach

“A decade at one club – and that at Bayern, where the highest standards are required – represents an outstanding achievement, all the more so because he’s always been a key player.”
Ottmar Hitzfeld, former Bayern coach

“He always wants the team to play well. He puts the team first and then himself.”
Mats Hummels, Bayern defender

“Franck Ribéry is irreplaceable. My relationship with Franck is special. He welcomed me and helped me from the very start. We know how important he is for us.”
David Alaba, Bayern defender

Five classic Ribéry goals

Current tally

International: 81 appearances, 16 goals
UEFA club competition: 114 appearances, 25 goals
Domestic competition: 504 appearances, 125 goals

Compelling evidence

Ribéry gets his hands on the 2013 UEFA Champions League

Ribéry gets his hands on the 2013 UEFA Champions League©AFP

• Ribéry was the key player as Bayern became the first German club to win a treble of UEFA Champions League, DFB Cup and Bundesliga in 2012/13. Influential throughout, the Frenchman created Arjen Robben’s winner in the Wembley final against Dortmund. “You wanted success for the whole team and put your individual ability at the service of the greater good,” Jupp Heynckes wrote in kicker of Ribéry’s efforts.

• Ribéry pipped Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year honour in 2013. “This award crowns a very special year,” he said after becoming only the fourth Bayern player – following Gerd Müller, Franz Beckenbauer and Rummenigge – to win either the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award or the Ballon d’Or.

• Now 35, Ribéry has always had a penchant for the eye-catching. His first goal for Bayern was a Panenka penalty against Werder Bremen; his collection of fine strikes has expanded with time to include a stunning volley against Mönchengladbach in 2013 and a brilliant chip against Plzeň later that year.

• With 406 first-team outings for the Bavarian giants since joining from Marseille in 2007, Ribéry is Bayern’s leading non-German appearance maker, having overtaken current sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić (365) in December 2017. The Frenchman’s eight Bundesliga titles also make him the most decorated non-German in Bayern history.

• Ribéry’s displays in his first term at Bayern brought him Germany’s 2008 footballer of the year prize – only the second non-German to scoop this accolade (after Ailton in 2004). He landed a second successive French equivalent that same year.

What you might not know

One look is all it takes: Alaba and Ribéry

One look is all it takes: Alaba and Ribéry©Getty Images

• Ribéry shares a firm frienship with Bayern team-mate Alaba. “We get on perfectly,” Ribéry said in 2013. “We don’t even need to say anything – on and off the field: a quick look in his eyes is enough for me to know what he’s going to do next.” Alaba replied: “Franck isn’t just a world-class footballer, he’s also a great person. He doesn’t look down on young players but treats them as equals.”

• From cutting the toes off Daniel Van Buyten’s socks to driving the team bus, the Frenchman is a prankster. His most famous practical joke came in 2008, when he and Van Buyten waited on the roof of Bayern’s training centre to pour buckets of cold water over fearsome goalkeeper Oliver Kahn as ‘der Titan’ was getting into his car.

Papin: Ribéry's idol

Papin: Ribéry’s idol©Getty Images

• Ribéry worked briefly with his father as a labourer before his football career took off. “I understood just how difficult my father’s job was,” the winger recalled. “I also understood that job was not for me. I absolutely had to succeed in football.”

• Nicknamed ‘Ferraribéry’ at Galatasaray due to his speed, Ribéry has earned the moniker ‘Kaiser Franck’ (King Franck) in Munich, where he is adored by the Bayern faithful.

What he says

“I’ll carry on for as long as my body allows. I can no longer run the way I did when I was 20 but I’m still good.”

“In my first season we weren’t in the Champions League, we were in the UEFA Cup. Bayern were a big club back then but now it’s even bigger. It’s pleasing to see what we’ve achieved in the last ten years. I’ve done my bit to get the club where it is now, and Bayern have obviously had an influence on my development too. The relationship between Bayern and me is special.”

“I’ve become more German during my time here. My mentality and my family are German. We’ve really put down roots here.”

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