Transfer Talk Paris Saint-Germain monitoring David De Gea’s situation at Man United

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Valencia on his way out?

Meanwhile, United’s Antonio Valencia could leave on a free if the club do not trigger a 12-month contract extension option by March 1, the Sun reports.

It says the Ecuador defender has a clause in his deal that means he could sign a pre-contract deal with another club at the start of that month.

Valencia, who has been at United for nine years, is interesting clubs from Germany and Turkey.

The Sun says the 33-year-old “is happy to stay despite a couple of issues with Mourinho,” but there is doubt over his future.

Trio in race for Chelsea’s Loftus-Cheek

Crystal Palace, Everton and Arsenal are in the frame to sign Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who will “demand a move to save his England career,” according to the Sun.

Midfielder Loftus-Cheek, who excelled on loan at Palace, has been on the fringes of the Blues squad since returning to Stamford Bridge.

The 22-year-old had wanted to fight for a place in Maurizio Sarri’s team, but the Sun says he fears for his England chances after being left out of Gareth Southgate’s latest squad.

Palace “would love to take him back to Selhurst Park,” but Everton have been interested since manager Marco Silva took over and Arsenal “may also be keen.”

Gunners could yet cash in on Ramsey

With Aaron Ramsey set to leave Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United are said to lead the race — but their hopes of signing him on a free could be dashed, according to the London Evening Standard.

Ramsey is out of contract at the end of the season, when he would be available as a free agent.

But the Standard says Arsenal “are yet to decide whether to try to cash in on him in January,” with Italian champions Juventus strongly linked.

It adds that “although Ramsey has insisted he will not force through a transfer during January, a move appears likely.”

Tap-ins

– Fulham’s defensive struggles since returning to the Premier League could lead to a move for AC Milan’s Mateo Musacchio in January, according to the Mirror.

Manager Slavisa Jokanovic wants a new centre-half and could target Musacchio, 28, who is on the club’s transfer list in their big-spending summer.

– Everton’s Ademola Lookman says he has regained his focus after being unsettled by transfer speculation, the Liverpool Echo reports.

Lookman spent a successful loan spell at RB Leipzig last season, but talk of a permanent move to the Bundesliga club came to nothing.



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David De Gea dubbed ‘Karius’ by Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio, Lucas Vazquez

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It seems that Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea has a new nickname in the Spain camp, after he was greeted by Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez with shouts of “Karius, Karius” in the tunnel at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium last Monday.

Ahead of United’s 2-1 International Champions Cup victory, De Gea was heading towards the pitch when he heard a familiar voice coming from behind — with Spanish TV station Gol capturing a smirking Lucas and Asensio having got their national team colleague’s attention.

De Gea had a difficult summer with Spain — making just one save across four games as La Roja exited to hosts Russia in the World Cup round of 16.

This appears to have led to the comparison with Liverpool’s Loris Karius, whose last few months have gone even worse.

Karius’ disastrous display in Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat to Madrid in May was followed by more mistakes in preseason, and the signing of Alisson Becker from Roma as their new first choice goalkeeper.

De Gea took the trolling better than might have been expected — with the video showing him embracing his international teammates before they continued down the tunnel.



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Can Spain afford to show David De Gea the patience he received early at Man United?

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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho gives his prediction for Serbia v Brazil.

David De Gea has been here before. The Manchester United and Spain goalkeeper is on the receiving end of some serious flak after his below-par performances for his country in Russia. Spain conceded two goals on the way to winning the World Cup in 2010. They’ve conceded five in their group stage so far, with De Gea under fire for not making a single save until the third game after Morocco had drawn level. Every shot on target against Spain had gone in.

While De Gea’s stock among United fans has been consistently high for more than six years, in Spain it’s much lower. Debates centre around whether he should be dropped and memes mock him in his home country. One shows a frog trying to catch an insect that is right in front of it — and missing.

It’s his worst moment since his early days in England, when his slight frame was targeted by opposing attackers, when United’s players told Sir Alex Ferguson that they needed more consistency and noise from their keeper, where they felt the team was badly diminished after the departure of Edwin van der Saar. They didn’t like goalkeepers being rotated, as initially happened when De Gea arrived.

Ferguson only really lost his temper with De Gea once, following a game against bottom-of-the-table Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford, where the Spaniard was at fault for their late winner. Even a draw would have meant United won the league in 2011-12, but football doesn’t work like that. An angry Ferguson told De Gea that while he was under fire for playing him, he was going to continue to play him every single week so that he got used to this pressure at an early age.

When the pressure mounted on De Gea, and Ferguson for keeping faith with him, his manager told him that he had bought him because he thought he was going to be the best goalkeeper in the world, and that he still believed he would be. That was some belief in a man even patient United fans were seriously doubting. But that’s what great managers do, they make their own minds up and have courage in their convictions.

De Gea’s turning point came five weeks later at Chelsea, where he started the game dreadfully but finished it as the best player on the pitch. He was encouraged by Ferguson’s words, ate better and worked harder as he built himself up in the gym and was encouraged to a) speak during training and games, and b) speak in English by his teammates. Those actions from Ferguson and the work of his goalkeeping coach Eric Steele that winter mean that De Gea still has a bedrock of love for United, even though he rarely says it — in part because he rarely says anything of interest.

Ferguson stuck by his new goalkeeper and was vindicated in doing so: Manchester United have not made a better signing this decade.

Will Spain coach Fernando Hierro do the same? Four games into being Spain boss and with the stakes higher, can he afford to?

De Gea is hugely talented. He’s popular among teammates and trusted by them too. They’ll stick by him, but he’ll get hammered by the media and fans if he makes mistakes. It takes a strong manager to resist such pressure and plenty of big-name managers of national sides have buckled beneath it.

David De Gea has been backed by Fernando Hierro despite some below-par performances.
David De Gea struggled initially with Manchester United before becoming one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

Several factors go against De Gea. One, he’s still in the shadow of Iker Casillas, the man regarded as Spain’s greatest-ever goalkeeper. Because Casillas didn’t play outside of Iberia, it’s not always appreciated how popular he was in Spain. He was the captain of Real Madrid and Spain, a man who made his debut for Madrid as a teenager and stayed there. Madrid bring few players right through their ranks to be at the absolute top level. Casillas cycled to training when he broke into Madrid’s first team and was still considered approachable when he was a captain of the world champions. He’s Spanish royalty without the crown.

De Gea, whose style couldn’t be more different from his predecessor, bided his time to wait for Casillas to fade and now he’s No. 1, but he’s never had a chance to build up that vast bank of credit that Casillas had.

Nor has De Gea ever built up a strong-enough following in the media or even among Spaniards. He doesn’t play for Real Madrid or Barcelona. In Spain, everyone else is a long way off compared with¬† those two giants.

Three, some of the criticism is justified. This writer asked two Spanish amateur teams for their opinions. The gist was that they know he’s a good goalkeeper, but that he isn’t right now.

“He used to add to the team, now he’s weakening it,” was one notable comment. “He should be changed.”

Yet there was also criticism for the two central defenders in front of him, Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique.

De Gea’s mistakes have not been one-offs. He simply hasn’t replicated his form for his club with his country. Ivan Perisic’s goal for Croatia in Euro 2016 didn’t show De Gea in the best light, and after an error in a friendly against Switzerland a month ago, he said: “Rather today than in Russia.” Then he made several mistakes in Russia.

“I haven’t killed anyone,” said the former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper after a blunder for the second goal in Spain’s epic 3-3 draw against Portugal.

No, but don’t expect the debate to go away, especially as he also committed an error for Spain against Argentina in March.

It’s not like it’s going well for his contemporaries, either. Manuel Neuer, the usual rival for De Gea’s status as football’s finest goalkeeper, hasn’t convinced in Russia either. At least De Gea should get more chances, starting with Saturday’s round-of-16 game against Russia in Moscow. That’s if he’s not dropped for Athletic Bilbao’s talented young keeper Kepa or the veteran Pepe Reina.

United fans aren’t too concerned. Taking the wind out of his sails means Real Madrid are less likely to want him. They’ll back him when he returns to Manchester and support him as they’ve always done at matches, even in his darkest moments of the winter of 2011-12.

Andy Mitten is a freelance writer and the founder and editor of United We Stand. Follow him on Twitter: @AndyMitten.



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Spain’s David De Gea set to keep No .1 spot despite fan vote of no confidence

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World Cup: Cristiano Ronaldo (44′) Portugal 2-1 Spain
The FC crew agree Spain and Portugal’s draw in their opening match at the World Cup proved they are both a class above the rest of Group B.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat trick against Spain set several World Cup and international records for the Portuguese superstar.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunning 88th minute free kick completed his hat trick and secured a vital 3-3 draw against Spain in the process.
Nacho scores his first ever goal for Spain, blasting a shot off the post and in to put them ahead of Portugal.

Spain coach Fernando Hierro has given David De Gea his full backing ahead of Wednesday’s encounter with Iran, despite fans voting in favour of Kepa Arrizabalaga taking his place in the team.

De Gea came under scrutiny after his costly blunder against Portugal in their World Cup opener. The Manchester United star let Cristiano Ronaldo’s shot go through his hands for Portugal’s second in Friday’s 3-3 draw.

“He has all of our confidence,” Hierro said when asked about De Gea in Monday’s news conference. “I see him calm, training the same as always.

“I have very clear ideas and I know what path we have to follow. My experience tells me that sportsmen need to be given confidence not just in the good times.”

A Marca poll carried out at the weekend which asked readers which goalkeeper should start for La Roja had 160,000 votes cast, with Athletic Bilbao’s Kepa Arrizabalaga receiving 49 percent to De Gea’s 41 percent.

“When facing adversity, one’s state of mind and personality plays a part,” Hierro said. “But his reaction has been straightforward. He has already been through difficult times, no one has given him anything and we are going to be as fair as possible.

“After something like this, you need the time and space to digest it. It’s not all about action, reaction. They had a day off and he was able to clear his head. We have spoken to his day-to-day coach, [Jose Manuel] Ochotorena, and we all agree on the path to follow.”

Carlos Marchena, who joined Spain’s staff for the World Cup last week following Hierro’s appointment¬†as coach after the sacking of Julen Lopetegui, says De Gea has the full support of his teammates.

“As former Spain coach Luis Aragones used to say, De Gea has broad shoulders,” Marchena told Diario AS. “These accidents happen but he has all the confidence of the group and the coach. David feels well and ready for what is coming.”

Former Spain international Marchena, who acts as a liaison between the players and the federation, also told Onda Cero the talk of dropping De Gea is only coming from the media.

“We all know how capable De Gea is of bouncing back,” he said. “It is much more an outside debate and it has nothing to do with what is happening on the inside.”

Marchena, whose full-time job is as the assistant director of football at Sevilla, says De Gea and his teammates had been keen to put a difficult few days behind them.

Lopetegui was removed from the position after the announcement that he would take over at Real Madrid following the World Cup. Reports in Spain claimed part of the team was unhappy with the decision taken by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), which its president Luis Rubiales denied.

“When there are complicated situations, either you unite or the family breaks,” Marchena said. “I found a group that has gone through an unpleasant situation [Lopetegui’s dismissal], but this is a mature group that knows what responsibility it has.

“A World Cup comes every four years and the most important thing is that we carry the enthusiasm of a country. Nothing should sidetrack us from that.”

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.



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De Gea howler vs Portugal cheered by United fans worried about Madrid interest

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World Cup: Cristiano Ronaldo (44′) Portugal 2-1 Spain
The FC crew agree Spain and Portugal’s draw in their opening match at the World Cup proved they are both a class above the rest of Group B.

David De Gea was guilty of a rare howler¬†in Spain’s 3-3 draw against Portugal¬†in their opening World Cup game on Friday night.

Social media was awash with rival supporters laughing at the goalkeeper, the best in the world for his position, with some suggesting that United fans had become quiet. The reality is the opposite was true. While they love De Gea and want to see their players do well for their national teams, the goalkeeper’s mistake gave United supporters reason to celebrate. Anything that stops Real Madrid from pushing forward their interest is fine by United fans.¬†

The 20-times champions of England have endured a difficult few years since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. They may have had a few cups to enjoy but have failed to mount a title challenge since last winning the league in 2013. Thankfully, United have had De Gea to save them, with him proving far and away their most important player. He’s been named the Sir Matt Busby player of the year four times, more than anyone since the award was introduced 30 years ago. When you consider that the club has fallen short of the fans’ expectations over the past five years, it’s worth reflecting on how much worse it could have been without De Gea in the team.

Yet they feel like they are on borrowed time with the goalkeeper, who was minutes away from leaving the club for Real Madrid in the summer of 2015. The Spanish club had been admirers for some time, but left their approach until the final day of the transfer window to put United under pressure. If the club didn’t sell him then, they would have likely lost him on a free transfer the following year. With the deal not completed in time, De Gea not only stayed, but committed to a long-term contract at United, much to the relief of supporters.¬†

However, with just two years remaining on that deal, Real Madrid have begun sniffing around him again. The news that Julen Lopetegui was set to be their next manager was awful, knowing he would have all summer to convince De Gea of a move to the Bernabeu. Thankfully the manager’s dismissal with Spain denies him that opportunity, but that’s not to say the Lopetegui, who was manager of De Gea’s Spanish under-21 team that won the European Championship in 2013, won’t be in touch after the World Cup to let his interest known.

Still, every error that De Gea makes this summer will be greeted warmly by supporters back in Manchester. Friday night’s mistake was his third in the past four games for the national team. It’s hard to recall three mistakes De Gea made all season for United and certainly none as glaring as the one with Cristiano Ronaldo’s shot.

Maybe this is why De Gea has been so content at United over the past few years, with him spending the peak of his career at Old Trafford instead of winning Champions League titles with Real Madrid. That’s not to say he can’t cope with pressure, because it’s well documented how much abuse he had to overcome following his debut season at United to stake his claim for the best in the world. But he is roundly adored and supported in Manchester, and that isn’t the case in Spain, and certainly wouldn’t be at the Bernabeu.

Despite being regularly linked with a return to his homeland, the 27-year-old doesn’t believe he is appreciated as much there.

“In England, I have a great affection and respect that I do not notice so much here,”De Gea said in March, ahead of a friendly against Argentina.

In the final home game of the 2014-15 season, with it more or less accepted he would be signing for Real Madrid in the summer, De Gea went off with an injury and was given a standing ovation from the Old Trafford crowd. It mattered little to them that he was about to jump ship. Instead they took the opportunity to show their appreciation for what they thought was the last time.

De Gea’s next appearance for the club came a few weeks in to the 2015-16 season, after the transfer to Madrid had collapsed. He played in United’s 3-1 win over Liverpool, and his name was chanted by the Stretford End when he walked to the goalmouth ahead of kickoff.

“The first game I returned, after all that had happened, was impressive,”¬†he said. “The way Old Trafford received me, it made the hairs stand up. It’s very difficult to describe what that day was like. I really appreciate it.”

De Gea has to know that however well he may play for Real Madrid, he will never get the same love from the fans that he gets now. The moment he makes a mistake or goes through a period of bad form, they will turn on him. Let’s not forget¬†this is the same fan base who have jeered and whistled Ronaldo¬†¬†on occasion, despite the glory he has brought them.

In contrast to his acknowledgement of the great support he gets in Manchester, after his mistake against Portugal, De Gea was again critical of the Spanish fans.

“I don’t see much that they support me from Spain,” he said. “I would have liked that they defend me more in a difficult moment in my life.”

Any mistakes De Gea makes in this tournament will be a further reminder to him of this and that is why every error will be celebrated by United fans. They are desperate for him to stay put, and the belief that he will might not be as far-fetched as once imagined.

Scott is one of ESPN FC’s Manchester United bloggers. Follow him on Twitter: @R_o_M.



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Man United must do all they can to keep De Gea from the draw of Lopetegui Madrid

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ESPN FC’s Gab Marcotti discusses the tricky situation Julen Lopetegui finds himself in as he coaches Spain before taking over at Real Madrid.

If there was anyone who Manchester United fans didn’t want to be announced as Real Madrid’s next manager, it was the man who is spending all summer with David De Gea in Russia. Many would have even preferred to see Jose Mourinho return to the Bernabeu than the current Spain coach, Julen Lopetegui, who will be in De Gea’s ear trying to convince him to join him in Madrid.

During his playing career, Lopetegui was also a goalkeeper and spent three seasons at Real Madrid, so he has plenty of experience of what he will be offering to the United man.

Five years ago, De Gea won the European Under-21 Championships under the guidance of Lopetegui, who claimed the goalkeeper was “sensational” after his man-of-the-match performance in the semifinal. De Gea was full of praise for his manager back then, claiming that his knowledge as not only a former player, but a goalkeeper too, was a “big help”.

They will both be hoping for repeated success in this summer’s World Cup, and while they will be concentrating on the tournament, it would be foolish to think that Lopetegui won’t be laying the groundwork to convince the world’s top goalkeeper to make the journey with him to Real Madrid. After a mistake in a friendly against Switzerland in the lead up to Russia, Lopetegui publicly spoke in defence of De Gea, suggesting that he has already started grafting.

Managers know well that their time at the Spanish giants can be limited, with the first signs of an inability to win the top honours resulting in them being shown the door. If Lopetegui had De Gea as his No. 1, the foundations for success would already be in place.

Every summer, United have the fear of losing their goalkeeper hanging over their heads, with rumours of Real Madrid arising every time the transfer window opens. He has been invaluable to them since signing from Atletico Madrid in 2011, and his contribution to the team has been unrivalled.

No goalkeeper had been named the Sir Matt Busby player of the year before, yet De Gea has won the award in four of the past five seasons, more than any player since it began 30 years ago.

While this is recognition of how well he has played in the past few years, it is also a worrying reminder of the situation the club has been in since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. United have grown dependent on him. Gone are the days when a superstar forward was winning them games every week; rather De Gea’s world-class saves have seen them pick up three points when otherwise they might have finished the match with none.

David De Gea and Julen Lopetegui look on during Spain's training session.
Could the pull of new manager Julen Lopetegui finally be enough to lure David De Gea out of Manchester United and to Real Madrid?

The sad thing is, United supporters couldn’t even really begrudge De Gea’s decision if he wanted to leave. Had he signed for Real Madrid earlier, he could have swapped those four player of the year awards for four Champions League titles. United have been lucky to hold on to him for as long as they have.

The club got two or three top seasons out of Cristiano Ronaldo before he traded Manchester for Madrid. The £80 million transfer fee, which was a world record at the time, could go down as one of the biggest bargains given all he has helped them achieve since.

When De Gea first signed as a skinny teenager, there were worries even then that United fans might not see his best years at Old Trafford, just like Ronaldo, with the pull of Real Madrid and his home city too much to ignore.

The goalkeeper will turn 28 this season, and it’s hard to believe he won’t be eyeing up more top honours while he’s still the best. To play for a manager he knows well, who he has experienced success with, has to be appealing. De Gea has won the Premier League, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Europa League at United, but the days when the club are back to their best hardly appear to be on the horizon.

A dodgy fax machine or an outdated version of Windows, or whatever else it was, denied De Gea the chance to sign for Real Madrid back in 2015. The goalkeeper behaved admirably in response and signed a new deal, which will expire next summer with the option of a further year. He has never been the sort to make ambiguous statements to the press, rather showing true professionalism and only ever talking of his commitment to the club.

It’s as if the clock has been rewound and United are back in the same situation as they were three years ago. They run the risk of losing him for free or at a huge discount if they don’t sell him soon, as the chances of tying him down to another lengthy contract may be slim. There seems something fairly inevitable about De Gea one day playing in the Spanish capital again, but supporters will be desperately hoping to cling on to him for as long as possible.

“One more year!” they chanted on repeat at Edwin Van der Sar in his final game at Old Trafford at the end of the 2010-11 season. If they were given the opportunity to say the same to De Gea now, they’d sing it until their throats were raw. They know all too well that losing him would make it almost impossible to better their second-place finish of last season.

It’s hard to imagine what the club could offer him that would make him extend his stay, though. A better-paid contract? The captaincy? The promise of world-class signings? De Gea doesn’t come across as the sort of player who would be swayed by the former two options, but the last one may have an impact.

De Gea deserves to win the biggest trophies, and United have to do everything in their power to ensure he stays so they can bring those trophies back to Old Trafford. The chances of them managing that without him, in the near future at least, are slim. United must act now and do all they can to counterbalance the promises of Lopetegui.

Scott is one of ESPN FC’s Manchester United bloggers. Follow him on Twitter: @R_o_M.



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Manchester United’s David De Gea happy at club despite Real Madrid speculation

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Fred comments on rumours linking him with a move to Man United, while Brazil boss Tite urges him to solve his situation as quickly as possible.
In an exclusive interview with ESPN FC, Ryan Giggs recounts his Man United memories and reveals what the current squad can learn from his success.
The FC panel react to reports that Man United are lodging a ‚ā¨100m bid for Gareth Bale and question whether the Welshman even fits the Jose Mourinho mould.
ESPN FC’s Craig Burley explains why Gareth Bale should sit tight and bide his time at Real Madrid before moving elsewhere.
Romelu Lukaku was asked who had the better squad Manchester United or Belgium, and the striker chose the latter.

David De Gea has distanced himself from a potential move to Real Madrid this summer by insisting he is “happy” at Manchester United.

The goalkeeper has been repeatedly linked with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu stadium since coming close to swapping Manchester for the Spanish capital in 2015.

“I’m happy where I am,” he told AS. “Now, I’m very focused on the national team. It is the most important thing. Do well in Russia, have a good role, and do things in the best possible way.

“I’m always calm, the important thing now is to start the World Cup on June 15.”

The 27-year-old has a year left on his contract at United with the club holding an option to extend his deal by another 12 months until 2020.

Sources have told ESPN FC that negotiations over a new contract have already started.

De Gea was crowned United’s Player of the Year last season for the fourth time since 2013, while also collecting the club’s Players’ Player of the Year award and the Premier League golden glove award.

He has made 315 appearances for United since arriving in a £18.9 million deal from Atletico Madrid in 2011.

Rob is ESPN FC’s Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.



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Transfer Talk – Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane quit over Eden Hazard, David De Gea disputes

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The guys respond to your tweets about how Real Madrid could get Lewandowski, Iniesta’s importance to Spain and their bold World Cup picks.

The transfer window is open, and Transfer Talk has the latest rumours making the rounds. Follow live with our daily blog throughout the summer.

Zidane ‘quit Real over Hazard, De Gea disagreements’

Zinedine Zidane resigned as Real Madrid coach after a row over transfer policy — and over Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard and Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea in particular — according to the Sun.

Zidane and Madrid president Florentino Perez “clashed over plans” the night before the former France international announced he was quitting.

The report says Zidane told Perez he wanted to bring in Hazard — heavily linked with a move to the Bernabeu — only for the president to say no, and adds that “when Perez told Zidane he wished to bring in long-term target De Gea, the manager said he had faith in Keylor Navas.”

Meanwhile, the London Evening Standard says Chelsea’s hopes of keeping Hazard “have been given a significant lift by Zidane’s decision to step down.”

It reports that the coach had been “pushing the Real Madrid hierarchy to make a bid.”

Foxes set to land City’s Roberts in Mahrez deal

Leicester want Manchester City forward Patrick Roberts as part of the deal that takes Riyad Mahrez to the Premier League champions, the Telegraph reports.

England under-20 international Roberts spent last season — and part of the campaign before that — on loan at Celtic, where Leicester scouts kept tabs on his performances.

And as manager Claude Puel looks to add to his attacking options, and plans for life without Algeria international Mahrez, the Telegraph says Roberts “is expected to join Leicester when the protracted ¬£60 million Mahrez deal is finally thrashed out.”

It adds that “there remains an expectancy that Mahrez will team up with Pep Guardiola” after what had appeared to be a likely winter deal fell through.

Saints’ Hughes in line for Shaqiri reunion

Could Southampton boss Mark Hughes be set for a swift reunion with Xherdan Shaqiri, one of his former Stoke players?

Indeed he could, says the Mirror, which reports that he “will step up his interest in Shaqiri after the Swiss playmaker confirmed that he plans to quit the Potters.”

Hughes, who brought Shaqiri to Stoke in 2015, preserved Southampton’s Premier League status after taking over toward the end of the season and “is ready to activate Shaqiri’s ¬£12m release clause.”

But he is not the only manager interested, with the Mirror reporting that Tottenham are also monitoring the situation and could line up a move of their own.

Tap-ins

— With Stoke already poised to sign striker Benik Afobe days after he arrived at Wolves, the Telegraph says they will also battle Cardiff to sign West Bromwich Albion’s James McClean.

Republic of Ireland winger McClean “is firmly on Stoke’s radar” but could opt to make a return to the Premier League with newly promoted Cardiff, who have registered an interest with the relegated Baggies.

— Hull City striker Abel Hernandez is in demand after confirming that he will leave the club, and the Hull Daily Mail reports that he might already be on the verge of agreeing a deal with Championship rivals Leeds.

Uruguay international Hernandez “could be a Leeds player this week as negotiations have reached the point of finalising personal terms.”



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David De Gea eager for ‘challenge’ of facing Lionel Messi

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ESPN FC’s Craig Burley and Mark Donaldson go head to head to predict the outcomes of Germany-Brazil, Spain-Argentina, Russia-France and more.
The FC crew react to ESPN FC’s initial pre-World Cup power rankings, which see Brazil claim the top spot over Spain and Germany.
The FC crew break down the 1-1 draw between Germany and Spain and how both proved they are among the primary contenders for the World Cup.

Spain goalkeeper David De Gea is excited about the prospect of facing fit-again Lionel Messi in Tuesday’s friendly against Argentina.

The Argentina captain missed his team’s 2-0 win over Italy on Friday with a sore right adductor muscle but trained on Sunday and Monday in Madrid and is set to feature against Spain at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

“We want to face the best players and Messi is one of them,” the Manchester United keeper said in Monday’s news conference.”As a goalkeeper it’s a challenge to face Messi.”

Spain, like Argentina, are preparing for this summer’s World Cup and head into the encounter at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium on the back of Friday’s 1-1 draw with Germany. Valencia’s Rodrigo Moreno started and scored Spain’s goal in Dusseldorf.

“We are going through a good spell,” De Gea said. “We have to maintain this line and hope to arrive in the best form possible at the World Cup.

“We have a wonderful group, we get on well together and that is also transmitted on the pitch. We have ambition, enthusiasm and a great group.”

Spain’s David De Gea will take on Lionel Messi’s Argentina on Tuesday.

Spain’s Thiago Alcantara knows how vital Messi’s presence will be because he played with the football icon at Barcelona for four seasons before joining Bayern Munich in 2013.

“I think it’s important for Messi to be in the game, not just because of the spectacle for world football but because we always want to play and face the best,” the Spanish midfielder said. “We want to be the best and in order to become that, we need to face the best.”

Spain coach Julen Lopetegui said Messi’s presence will not affect his team’s style of play.

“When we prepare a game, we don’t think too much about who we face although we’re aware of who we shave in front of us,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a beautiful game against the World Cup runners-up, against one of the best players in history and that is exciting for us. We want to play a great game and leave with a good feeling.

“We played a good game against Germany and we have to prepare well for tomorrow’s game.”

While Spain went unbeaten in qualifying, winning nine of their 10 games, Argentina struggled and only sealed a ticket to Russia in their final qualifier, a 3-1 win at Ecuador on Oct. 10, courtesy of Messi’s hat trick.

Lopetegui believes Argentina have become a better side since Sampaoli took over last summer.

“I think collectively they have improved with Sampaoli’s arrival, not just in attack but also in defence,” he said. “You can see the work of the coach, how Argentina’s play has evolved since he took over.”

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.



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Man United stars had ‘doubts’ about David De Gea in 2011 – Rio Ferdinand

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David de Gea ensured Manchester United will return to Old Trafford on level terms with these sensational saves against Sevilla.
Sevilla forward Luis Muriel has complimented David De Gea on Manchester United goalkeeper’s wonder save during their 0-0 UEFA Champions League last 16 first leg clash.
David de Gea made two fantastic saves to end the first half and Manchester United held serve in the second to head back to Old Trafford with a 0-0 draw.
David de Gea made two fantastic saves to end the first half and Manchester United held serve in the second to head back to Old Trafford with a 0-0 draw.
David de Gea made two fantastic saves to end the first half and Manchester United held serve in the second to head back to Old Trafford with a 0-0 draw.
The FC boys answer your tweets on a possible move for De Gea, Chelsea and Man United’s UCL draws and who’s declared themselves as Champions League favourites.

David De Gea has been hailed as the world’s best goalkeeper by former Manchester United teammate Rio Ferdinand, who admitted that he and other players had their doubts about the Spain No. 1 when he first arrived at Old Trafford.

De Gea was at his commanding best and made vital saves to allow United to scrape a 0-0 draw at Sevilla on Wednesday in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie.

Ferdinand called him “outright the best goalkeeper in the world,” with one save standing out on the night. Luis Muriel looked certain to score when he was given space to head at goal just before half-time, yet despite making a firm connection from four yards, his effort was brilliantly pushed over by De Gea.

“Time and time again he produces saves like this, but the great goalkeepers don’t have to make saves every 10 minutes,” Ferdinand said on BT Sport. “He can be called upon once in a game and he’s got to be there, it’s that concentration at the top level and he has that in abundance.”

Looking at De Gea’s save from Muriel, Ferdinand added: “The speed of that is phenomenal, breathtaking.”

Manchester United's David De Gea and Rio Ferdinand
David De Gea and Rio Ferdinand won the 2012-13 Premier League title together at Manchester United.

De Gea joined United from Atletico Madrid in 2011, and Ferdinand admits there were players in Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad at the time who were not convinced early on, with the former England defender suggesting he was among them.

“When he first came, as players we were sitting there with doubts really — ‘We need to win every year, how are we going to do that with a young kid, inexperienced, who looks like he’s lacking confidence?'” Ferdinand said.

“Where he is today, that’s a sign of someone who’s worked hard and got to where he needs to get. I think all round he is the full package.”

Paul Scholes believes De Gea’s saves in Spain will prove vital over the two legs.

“He’s saved Manchester United so many times and saved them so many points and tonight, he’s probably ensured that they’ll go through,” Scholes, the former United midfielder, said following the game.

Muriel, meanwhile, told Sevilla’s website that he probably would have scored had he directed Jesus Navas’ cross elsewhere.

“I have that bitterness of that goal opportunity at the end of the first half,” Muriel said. “It was a perfect ball from Jesus and I hardly had to jump. Perhaps I directed the effort a little to the body and should have angled it more. I went for force rather than direction but he made a great save and it’s a pity. “

Muriel also praised De Gea, understanding the challenge Sevilla will encounter again in the return leg at Old Trafford on March 13.

“He is a great goalkeeper,” Muriel said. “Our only disappointment is not to have scored having had chances to do so. We deserved much more from this game although it was important for us not to concede. But we must move on.”

ESPN FC’s Spain correspondent Adriana Garcia contributed to this report.



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De Gea’s saves make Man United slight favourites after first-leg draw at Sevilla

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David de Gea made two fantastic saves to end the first half and Manchester United held serve in the second to head back to Old Trafford with a 0-0 draw.
David de Gea made two fantastic saves to end the first half and Manchester United held serve in the second to head back to Old Trafford with a 0-0 draw.
David de Gea made two fantastic saves to end the first half and Manchester United held serve in the second to head back to Old Trafford with a 0-0 draw.
The FC crew are tempering their expectations following Man United’s uninspiring performance in their UCL first leg against Sevilla.
Jose Mourinho preferred to praise Scott McTominay when asked about Paul Pogba, but then back-tracked and gave a mixed review on his performance against Sevilla.
Relive the best of Wednesday’s Champions League action, as David de Gea kept a clean sheet for Man United in style and Fred struck a beauty for Shakhtar.
Jose Mourinho wasn’t too pleased with a reporter asking about Alexis Sanchez after Manchester United’s draw against Sevilla.

Manchester United came away from Sevilla with a goalless draw in the Champions League on Wednesday, which was probably mission accomplished as far as Jose Mourinho was concerned. The game was an inspiring spectacle for the most part, illuminated by a magnificent first half from David De Gea.

Positives

De Gea was majestic, and United’s draw makes them slight favourites to progress.

Negatives

United’s football was ponderous for very long periods, with their intention clearly to claim a draw, and their attack failed to get going as a result.

Manager rating out of 10

7 — Jose Mourinho seemingly got precisely the result he was looking for, and for that he deserves some credit. This game, however, will not grace many end-of-season DVDs.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK David De Gea, 9 — Made several superb saves, one of which — at the very end of the first half — was astonishing. Played himself out of danger with his feet more coolly than most defenders could. Outstanding.

DF Ashley Young, 6 — Worked as usual but offered little going forward in terms of penetration.

DF Victor Lindelof, 7 — A measured, composed performance. Unambitious but followed orders to the letter.

DF Chris Smalling, 5 — Positioning was worryingly awry in the first half, though that improved in the second. Tackling was good but too often reactive.

DF Antonio Valencia, 6 — Like Young, got high up the pitch but showed too little subtlety against his opposite man.

David De Gea’s heroics between the sticks kept Manchester United in their Champions League tie vs. Sevilla.

MF Nemanja Matic, 6 — Defensively disciplined throughout but his distribution was subpar whenever he tried to play a much more expansive game.

MF Scott McTominay, 6 — Played a conservative game, taking very few risks — one good effort on goal and one misplaced pass aside, did not alter the flow of the game too much.

MF Ander Herrera, 6 — Tenacious as ever, until withdrawn early.

MF Juan Mata, 6 — Combative in the tackle, and worked hard but to little effect in attack.

MF Alexis Sanchez, 6 — Toiled out wide with little supply, and cut a frustrated figure at times.

FW Romelu Lukaku, 6 — Spent much of the game chasing high balls. Had very little service but missed a very presentable chance in the first half, a volley he should at least have got on target.

Substitutes

MF Paul Pogba, 6 — Could not rise above the general torpor of the game. Kept the ball fairly well but created little.

MF Marcus Rashford, NA — Stretched the play well with some good runs from the moment of his introduction.

MF Anthony Martial, NA — Did not have much possession in the final third but got the ball out of defence well.

Musa Okwonga is one of ESPN FC’s Manchester United bloggers. Follow on Twitter: @Okwonga.



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Romelu Lukaku wasteful at fault for both goals in Manchester derby defeat

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Man City capitalized on two errors from rivals Man United to earn an away win and move 11 points clear in the Premier League.
Man City capitalized on two errors from rivals Man United to earn an away win and move 11 points clear in the Premier League.

This was a scoreline which did not reflect the result. Manchester United lost to Manchester City by two goals to one, but the true scale of City’s superiority was to be found in other numbers — they had 64 percent of the possession, and completed 81 percent of their passes to United’s 70 percent. City were fluid and positive on the ball, United were passive and reactive, and both teams can say that they got what they deserved from this tie. City claim their record-tying 14th successive win in the Premier League, and a seemingly-unassailable 11-point lead — while United can only reflect how they might have done had they been braver against a highly imperfect defence.

Positives

Tellingly, the best player for United was probably David De Gea, who made two fine stops from Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva.

Negatives

Romelu Lukaku was at fault for both of City’s goals, and missed a late chance which a forward of his experience and ability should have dispatched with ease at the first attempt. Ander Herrera failed to prompt the counterattack for United too often, and the team as a whole looked largely subdued going forward.

Manager rating out of 10

4 —¬†Jose Mourinho again paid the price for his conservatism in a big match. It is one thing to have tactics of containment, but United did not even have a flurry of pressure at the start — they gave City the bulk of possession from the opening whistle. Ederson, City’s goalkeeper, completed more passes than any United player in the first half. That kind of pressure was bound to tell in the end. When chasing the game, too, he did not have good playmaking options on the bench, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan nowhere near the squad.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK David De Gea, 7 — Made two fine saves, and looked sharp whenever called upon. Distributed the ball well, and continued his strong form from the previous week.

DF Ashley Young, 6 — Was exposed glaringly on two crucial occasions — playing City onside for the first goal, and then not being in position for their second. A great shame as he was otherwise very attentive, but could not cope with the sheer scale of pressure.

DF Chris Smalling, 5 — Was reasonable enough at the back for the most part but could not help his team to build the play, and must be criticised for that. Perhaps, too, he suffered from the lack of options ahead of him.

DF Marcos Rojo, 5 — Made one excellent block in the first half but was also pulled out of position by the superb movement of Gabriel Jesus. An uncomfortable half for him before being withdrawn through injury.

DF Antonio Valencia, 5 — Though Fabian Delph is not the best defender, Valencia did not often threaten him by running in behind him or taking him on. A disappointingly reserved outing from him.

MF Nemanja Matic, 7 — The most composed of United’s outfield players, he frequently turned away from trouble but rarely had good passing options ahead of him. If United had given him greater support, the result could have been different.

Romelu Lukaku failed to exorcise his big game demons with a shocker vs. Man City.

MF Ander Herrera, 5 — A performance which sadly typified United’s — reactive and unambitious in attack, where he paused in receiving possession and allowed City’s defence to recover. A far cry currently from the footballer who once used to attack the gaps.

MF Jesse Lingard, 6 — Worked hard, as ever, pressing high up the pitch — but to little effect, given the little possession that he enjoyed.

MF Anthony Martial, 6 — Could have been slightly more efficient with a chance he had in the second half cutting infield rather than outfield, but was largely a victim of his team’s policy of containment.

FW Marcus Rashford, 7 — United’s sharpest forward. Took his goal well, took the game to his opposite man, and showed courage whenever in attack.

FW Romelu Lukaku, 3 — Probably his unhappiest game for United thus far. He began the game with a fine layoff to launch a counterattack, but thereafter his touch was uncertain. He failed to clear the ball for David Silva’s opener. Worse still, he was directly at fault for City’s winner, slashing the ball back into his six-yard box where Nicolas Otamendi seized upon it. He hit a good chance high and wide in the first half, then — with his team looking for an equaliser late on — he hit the ball directly at Ederson. A night to forget — but he won’t be allowed to forget it anytime soon.

Substitutes

DF Victor Lindelof, 7 (for Rojo, 46) — Had a fairly good game amid the turmoil, shepherding his man away from danger and handling Gabriel Jesus with notable calm more than once.

FW Zlatan Ibrahimovic, NR (for Lingard, 76) — Some good hold-up play but it seemed strange to replace Lingard, who brought more energy and dynamism to the role.

MF Juan Mata, NR (for Herrera, 82) — Got into good positions once or twice but was not able to get on the ball and truly harm City.

Musa Okwonga is one of ESPN FC’s Manchester United bloggers. Follow on Twitter: @Okwonga.

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David De Gea relishing life at Manchester United

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The ESPN FC crew identify the catalysts of Manchester United’s free-flowing play in their 3-1 victory against Arsenal.
The FC crew engage in a heated debate on whether Paul Pogba or Hector Bellerin was more at fault for the Man United midfielder’s sending off.
Stewart Robson illustrates how Man United high pressed Arsenal and worked the counter attack to devastating effect.

At no time since Jose Mourinho took over at Manchester United have things looked as good as they do now. Along with the 2-0 home win against Chelsea last season, the 3-1 victory at Arsenal on Saturday was the best result of Portuguese manager’s time at Old Trafford.

The Emirates clash was a fantastic, goal-filled encounter and was the third such game in recent weeks. Newcastle at home was a fine spectacle and, while Brighton the next week was not, it brought another win and clean sheet.

A trip to Watford saw United put four goals past the team in eighth, while Saturday’s result smashed a dire run of games away at the best teams and showed that United can be far better when using their attacking talent, as well as far more entertaining.

The club’s two best players were key. Paul Pogba significantly improves the team when he plays and he’ll be missed in Sunday’s derby vs. Manchester City; Mourinho could be excused if he opts for a more defensive strategy without the suspended midfielder against a team that has won every away match in the league this season.

David De Gea, meanwhile, was even better than his usual exceptional standard. It’s a decade since goalkeeping coach Eric Steele spotted him playing for Spain against England in the final of the 2007 European Under-17 championship.

Steele wasn’t a United employee at the time; instead he worked for Manchester City and had just agreed to stay at the club. But in December 2007, then-United goalkeeping coach Tony Coton called to say he’d have to retire because of injury and to ask Steele if he would be interested in taking over.

“I didn’t want to be disrespectful to City,” Steele told me in 2015. “There are some very good football people at City, but United is a different level. United have the history and tradition on and off the field; it’s a machine. I wanted to join United. I had an issue with loyalty because I’d signed a three-year contract to work with Sven-Goran Eriksson at City, but I agreed to stay until the end of the (2007-08) season. What a fool I was; I missed out on United winning the European Cup in Moscow, but I felt that I had to be loyal to Sven. I can’t regret that.”

Steele, along with Eriksson, would lose his job anyway when then-City owner Thaksin Shinawatra sold the club to the City Football Group from Abu Dhabi. United, meanwhile, were champions of Europe but, once the celebrations died down, Sir Alex Ferguson’s priority was keeping Cristiano Ronaldo at the club. Steele felt forgotten about and accepted a job with Paul Ince at Blackburn Rovers.

David De Gea made 14 saves in Manchester United’s win at Arsenal.

“I signed for Blackburn at 2 p.m. on July 5,” said Steele. “Guess who rang me two hours later? The gaffer (Ferguson). ‘I’ve just signed for Blackburn.'”

“You stupid so and so,” said Ferguson.

“What do you mean stupid; I didn’t hear anything from you,” replied Steele. “TC (Tony Coton) hasn’t heard from you. What am I supposed to do?”

Ferguson assured Steele that United would “sort it” and, ultimately, paid Blackburn ¬£70,000 compensation for the three weeks Steele spent at Ewood Park.

In his new role, Steele knew that 37-year-old Edwin van der Sar would need replacing sooner rather than later and, while young goalkeepers Ben Amos, Sam Johnstone and Ron-Robert Zieler were talented, they were not ready for the first team.

Steele spent a year flying around Europe, watching Maarten Stekelenburg at Ajax, Hugo Lloris at Lyon and Manuel Neuer at Schalke. He also watched Iker Casillas, Joe Hart and Petr Cech, though United didn’t consider any of them gettable. Indeed, Neuer said that, if he wanted to go to Manchester, he’d go there on holiday.

Steele pushed the case for De Gea and it helped that Ferguson had been to watch Atletico with him several times to look at other players. The duo marvelled at the calmness, composure and inner strength shown by such a young keeper. Meanwhile, De Gea wasn’t delighted with the way his club were treating him and, with Atletico nowhere near as powerful financially as they are now, he moved to Old Trafford in 2011 for ¬£17.5 million.

Six-and-a-half years and 289 appearances later, he’s the best goalkeeper in the Premier League, if not the world. He’s also happy at United, though the temptation of Real Madrid will always be there. It’s natural, given the size of the club and that fact he is from the Spanish capital, as is his partner.

But there’s a buzz about this United team and he’s part of it. The team spirit was evident from the manner in which the players celebrated goals at the Emirates, with dances and smiles. This isn’t a squad fractured and doubtful of the manager as it was under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal. They claimed to be united; they were not.

This is the best United team of the post-Ferguson era, though it’s still not at City’s level and we’ll see how both measure up this weekend. The injury situation is positive, confidence is up and Mourinho’s side is the only team in English league football with a 100 percent winning record at home in the league. They are second with 35 points from 15 games; a year ago at this time, they were marooned in sixth.

The mood will be different if United lose on derby and City are undeniably excellent, but they’ve enjoyed their own luck recently. It’s time for United to enjoy some good fortune, just as they did when they employed the man who’d already spotted De Gea. After all, had Steele stayed at City, the Spaniard might have represented the other side of Manchester on derby day.

Andy Mitten is a freelance writer and the founder and editor of United We Stand. Follow him on Twitter: @AndyMitten.

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Cristiano Ronaldo wants David De Gea Thibaut Courtois or Marc Andre ter Stegen

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s first La Liga goal of the season came late in the match to help Real Madrid secure a win at Getafe.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s first La Liga goal of the season came late in the match to help Real Madrid secure a win at Getafe.
Zinedine Zidane delights in seeing several key Real Madrid players returning from injury as they look to catch Barcelona.

With the January window on the horizon, there’s plenty brewing in the transfer market. All the latest deals and potential deals can be found here.

TOP STORY: Ronaldo lists his keeper demands

Cristiano Ronaldo has called on Real Madrid to sign a new goalkeeper next summer and has drawn up a three-man shortlist of options, Diario Gol reports.

The 32-year-old has reportedly told Madrid president Florentino Perez that the club needs a new keeper if they want to keep up their recent success and has given him a choice of three to go out and get.

Manchester United keeper David De Gea makes the cut, with Ronaldo also favouring Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois and Marc Andre ter Stegen of Barcelona.

The Portugal international feels Keylor Navas and Kiko Casilla do not fit the bill at the Santiago Bernabeu and wants to see a new No. 1 in place for next season.

Thibaut Courtois & Cristiano Ronaldo
Can Cristiano Ronaldo entice his old Atletico foe Thibaut Courtois back to Madrid?

Ozil flunk forcing Sanchez sale

Arsenal will cash in on Alexis Sanchez in January due to a lack of interest in Mesut Ozil, the Daily Star claims.

With both players set to be out of contract come next summer, Arsenal are looking to sell one of them in the winter transfer window so that they do not lose the pair for nothing.

Yet with Ozil attracting no firm interest currently, it is Sanchez that Arsenal will have to sell, with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain expected to lodge £20 million bids.

Inter Milan and Manchester United are keen on Ozil, but would prefer to sign him on a free transfer next summer rather than paying a fee in January.

Prem trio eyeing up Barca youngster Ruiz

Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal will fight it out for the signature of Barcelona youngster Abel Ruiz, according to the Daily Mirror.

The 17-year-old striker, who has been lining up for Barcelona B, has a £3m buyout clause in his contract which expires in 2019.

Ruiz wants to remain at Barca, but the trio of Premier League clubs are hoping to take advantage of fears that he may not get a chance at the Camp Nou.

Arsenal and Chelsea have both already been in touch with Ruiz’s representatives, though Barca are keen to negotiate a new deal with the Spain under-17 international.

Tap-ins

– Cristiano Ronaldo stopped Paul Pogba from joining Real Madrid in 2016, says Diario Gol.

Pogba ended up leaving Juventus for Manchester United, with Ronaldo apparently blocking a move to Madrid as he felt the midfielder’s ego could upset the dressing room.

– Liverpool will reward Ben Woodburn for his progression at Anfield with a new contract, the Liverpool Echo reports.

Woodburn, who is the club’s youngest ever scorer, is set to receive an improved deal in the coming weeks.

– Manchester United flop Memphis Depay is set for a future move to Real Madrid, according to the man himself.

“I think I’m going to Real Madrid. Yes, that’s a serious goal,” the Lyon man is quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror.

Tom is a freelance sports journalist. Follow him @Tom_Sweetman

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Real Madrid to renew saga over Manchester United keeper David De Gea

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Mark Ogden reacts to Jose Mourinho’s comments about David De Gea’s Man United future ahead of their match with Real Madrid.

The football world is awash with gossip. Transfer Talk is monitoring the whispers ahead of all the summer moves. Check out the latest deals and potential deals here.

TOP STORY: Real back in for De Gea

Manchester United might want to be on guard, as Real Madrid are lining up another attempt to lure David De Gea to the Santiago Bernabeu, says The Sun.

Madrid infamously failed to sign De Gea two years ago — reportedly due to a dodgy fax machine — but are hoping to prove more successful this time around.

With Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane having decided that he does not need a new outfield signing after the club’s failure to land Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe, goalkeeper De Gea has become his No. 1 target.

The La Liga champions are preparing an offer of around ¬£46 million to submit to United and are hopeful that will be enough to secure the Spain international’s signature two years down the line.

Perisic to Man United might still be on

United had looked to have given up the ghost in their pursuit of Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic, but the Daily Mirror claims that is not quite the case.

Perisic has been a target of United’s for most of the summer, but the Red Devils appeared to be put off by Inter’s ¬£48 million valuation of the Croatia international.

However, United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward has met with Perisic’s agent, Fali Ramadani, in recent days to try to push through a deal, with Ramadani also having held talks with Inter officials.

With the Premier League club’s original ¬£39 million offer still on the table, there remains hope that an agreement can be struck for Perisic to make the move to Old Trafford before the transfer window closes.

Man City return with second Evans offer

News of Manchester City’s interest in Jonny Evans might have taken many by surprise, but that isn’t stopping Pep Guardiola from doing all he can to get his man.

City have already seen one bid of ¬£18 million for the former Manchester United player rejected by West Brom, but they’re set to return with an improved offer of ¬£22 million, the Daily Mirror claims.

If a chance to work under Guardiola is not enough to entice the centre-back, City are hoping a £140,000-a-week contract will do the trick, which would more than double his current wages.

City view Evans as an ideal acquisition, given that he would bolster their defensive options as well as help them comply with home-grown player rules, though Eliaquim Mangala might have to be offloaded to clear up some room.

Steve Nicol and Sid Lowe discuss Barcelona’s transfer needs as the club continue to pursue Coutinho and Dembele.

Tap-ins:

— Barcelona will continue to “fight” to sign Liverpool’s wantaway star, Philippe Coutinho, the Daily Telegraph states.

The tug of war, as we all expected, is set to continue with Barca lining up a third bid in excess of £90 million for the Brazil international.

— Inter Milan are searching for a new centre-back before the transfer window closes, and they hope that man will be Shkodran Mustafi, according to Gianluca Di Marzio.

After struggling in their attempts to prize away Mangala from Man City on loan, Inter have initiated contact with Arsenal over Mustafi, though the Gunners are unlikely to want to part with a player they spent a reported £35 million on last summer.

— Tottenham are closing in on the ¬£42 million signing of Davinson Sanchez from Ajax, The Independent reports.

Ajax have accepted Spurs’ offer for the centre-back, with the Premier League side set to pay ¬£28 million up front as well as a potential ¬£14 million extra in add-ons.¬†

Tom is a freelance sports journalist. Follow him @Tom_Sweetman

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Keylor Navas says he’s happy at Real Madrid amid David De Gea links

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Adrian Healey and Mark Ogden discuss the prospects of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David De Gea being at Man United this season.

Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas says he is looking forward to winning many more trophies with the club in the future — and that the idea of being protected by coach Zinedine Zidane makes him laugh.

Madrid have again been linked this summer with Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea, a long-time target of club president Florentino Perez, with sources close to the Old Trafford outfit insisting recently that they expect a new offer for the Spain No. 1 in the coming weeks.

The speculation has spiced things up ahead of the two clubs’ International Champions Cup meeting in Santa Clara next Sunday, although Madrid have given no indication that they are planning to push through a move for the player they embarrassingly missed out on two summers ago.

Navas told a news conference at UCLA ahead of a seventh straight day of preseason training that his “dream” of winning more trophies at Madrid remained just as strong — even after he helped secure back-to-back Champions League titles in the last two seasons.

“I am very happy to form part of this great club,” the Costa Rica international said. “The day of my presentation with the president is one of the things I will always keep in my heart. When you arrive at the biggest team in the world you want to be part of its history. And put your country into that history too. That dream remains alive for me, and I am looking forward to winning more trophies [with Madrid].”

Navas’ position came under threat last winter after a number of high-profile mistakes, but there were then reports after he returned to form in the latter stages of the Champions League that Zidane had promised him he would keep his place as the club’s No. 1.

“My relationship with Zidane has not changed,” he said. “It’s funny to say that he is giving me special treatment, as it has always been the same. He gives us a lot of confidence, is very close. [But] I felt nothing different than the year before.”

Navas also maintained that Cristiano Ronaldo, whose future remains in doubt because of his frustration at facing tax fraud charges in Spain, should remain at Madrid as it was the right club for the world’s best player to represent.

“I don’t know, nobody ever knows [what will happen], but we all want him with us,” he said. “Obviously the world’s best player should be at Real Madrid. We hope he returns from holidays soon, but we should let him relax in peace with his family and friends. We have another long year to come, with new challenges for everyone, and I believe he will be with us for that.”

Navas said he hoped Alvaro Morata, linked this week with a move to Milan, remained a teammate so he did not have to face the striker with a rival team in future.

“As a teammate I am always happy to have the best, and Alvaro is one of them,” he said. “Everyone at the club, the players, want him with us. Obviously when you have a great player you do not want to face him as opponent. He helped us a lot last season and next season can help us more too. I hope he is with us many more years.”

The former Levante shot-stopper was a little less sure when asked whether right-back Danilo, a reported target of Premier League side Chelsea, would still be at the Bernabeu when 2017-18 began.

“He looks very well, he is a great professional, and is very relaxed and happy,” Navas said. “He looks very motivated for this preseason, training hard, as all the team are. He is part of the group, not nervous, or wanting to leave. All players want to be at Real Madrid and I hope we can count on him many more years.”

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan

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Man United doubt Real Madrid have funds to buy David De Gea – sources

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Adrian Healey and Mark Ogden discuss the prospects of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David De Gea being at Man United this season.
Shaka Hislop assesses the latest reports of a summer bid from Real Madrid for Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea.
As varying reports surround David De Gea’s United future, where does Gab Marcotti feel the Spaniard will play next season?

LOS ANGELES — Manchester United are confident about their prospects of fending off Real Madrid’s renewed interest in goalkeeper David De Gea, with sources telling ESPN FC that the Old Trafford hierarchy are sceptical over the European champions’ ability to pay for the Spain No. 1.

Real, who are currently training at the same base as United in Los Angeles ahead of their International Champions Cup fixtures, are expected to make a second attempt to sign De Gea this summer — two years after dramatically failing to complete a move for the former Atletico Madrid keeper because of a paperwork hitch on deadline day.

While United believe that De Gea is now much more settled in Manchester than two years ago, when his relationship with former manager Louis van Gaal had become strained, there is an acceptance within the club that a move to Real will always be a temptation for the 26-year-old, whose pop star girlfriend Edurne Almagro Garcia continues to live in Madrid.

But with De Gea doing nothing to suggest to United that he wishes to return to Spain this summer, there is no sense of alarm at Old Trafford about his future as a result of Real’s inability to raise funds for a deal by offloading players in the transfer market.

Man United expect David De Gea to still be at Old Trafford next season.

Real have been unable to find a buyer for James Rodriguez, instead agreeing to loan the Colombian midfielder to Bayern Munich earlier this month.

And the Spanish champions’ hopes of boosting their transfer fund by selling Alvaro Morata to United were ended with Romelu Lukaku moving to Old Trafford from Everton for almost ¬£90m last week.

With Real carrying a huge wage bill, sources said that United are aware that Madrid must first sell players before being able to bid for De Gea.

And with the transfer market becoming inflated this summer — Kyle Walker’s ¬£50m move from Tottenham to Manchester City the latest example of the escalation in fees — United would expect to receive a huge offer for De Gea before even considering a sale.

Currently, there is a view within United that Real lack the finances to test their resolve over their highly-rated goalkeeper.

Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_

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