EPL

Ten Hag confirms contract extensions for Man Utd quartet Rashford, Shaw, Dalot and Fred

By Sports Desk December 24, 2022

Manchester United have triggered one-year extension clauses in the contracts of Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw, Diogo Dalot and Fred, Erik ten Hag has confirmed.

With United three points adrift of the Premier League's top four with a game in hand ahead of the competition's resumption, each of the quartet has played a key role for Ten Hag's side.

In particular, Rashford has looked rejuvenated since the Dutchman took charge, leading the Red Devils' scoring charts with four Premier League goals this term and netting three times for England at the World Cup.

Rashford's deal had been due to expire at the end of the season, leading the forward to be linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain, but Ten Hag has confirmed the 25-year-old is set to stay.

Asked about widespread reports claiming United had extended the players' contracts, the United boss told MUTV: "Yes, I can confirm it.

"We are happy because the squad is going in the right direction and those players [have made] a massive contribution in that direction.

"We want to develop, we want to support those players and we want them to keep in our process, so that's why we came to those decisions, I'm sure they are the right decisions. 

"We want to construct a team for the future, for longer years, and those players have to be part of it."

United will resume their Premier League campaign against Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford on Tuesday, having won four of their last five home games in the competition (D1).

The Red Devils have won each of their last six games against Forest in all competitions, recording an 8-1 victory in the teams' most recent meeting in February 1999.

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  • New England Revolution v Vancouver Whitecaps: 'Evolving' Revs are ready for fight, says Porter New England Revolution v Vancouver Whitecaps: 'Evolving' Revs are ready for fight, says Porter

    Caleb Porter praised his "evolving" New England Revolution side as they prepare to face Vancouver Whitecaps on the back of consecutive wins.

    In their opening 13 games, New England only had two wins on the board in the Eastern Conference, sitting bottom with seven points.

    Though they still prop up the standings, they are now on 13 points after wins over Nashville SC and New York Red Bulls, with Porter hopeful they can keep building on this momentum.

    "The biggest key is our mentality has been stronger," Porter said, as quoted in The Blazing Musket substack.

    "We're finding ways to get results. That evolution, I'm very pleased with, so I think, for me, it's unquestionable, we're evolving in every aspect."

    "We know we're in a hole, there's no doubt about it. We have to continue to fight our way out, and it's going to take every game, and it's going to take until the end of the season."

    Vancouver, meanwhile, are fifth in the Western Conference after back-to-back victories of their own against Sporting Kansas City and Colorado Rapids.

    After their mid-season break, Vanni Sartini is aiming to improve on some of the weaknesses shown in the first half of the campaign.

    "I think we did okay [in the first half]," he said. "We're doing well. I think that we were doing very well defensively - I'd say the best in my years as head coach here.

    "I think we can do a little more in the final third. We are playing well, but we need to be better at finishing the action more. If we can do that, we can aspire to go to the top four positions."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    New England Revolution – Carles Gil

    Gil assisted Emmanuel Boateng on the lone goal of the match in New England's win Saturday. The Spaniard has been involved in seven (five goals, two assists) of the Revs’ 12 goals this season.

    Vancouver Whitecaps – Ryan Gauld

    Gauld assisted both of Vancouver's goals in their win over Colorado on June 1, taking him to 31 assists to go along with 30 goals in regular-season play.

    The Scotsman is one of three players (Luciano Acosta, Hany Mukhtar) with at least 30 goals and 30 assists since he joined the MLS in August 2021.

    MATCH PREDICTION: DRAW

    The Revolution have lost only two of their 11 all-time meetings with Vancouver (W5 D4), including winning four of the six meetings at Gillette Stadium (D1 L1).

    New England have also won back-to-back matches for the first time since July last year after winning just two of their first 13 league matches this season. All four of New England's wins this year have been by a one-goal margin.

    Meanwhile, the Whitecaps have won back-to-back matches, recording 2-1 wins against Sporting Kansas City and Colorado Rapids. This is Vancouver's sixth set of consecutive wins since the start of last season, though they have not won three league matches in a row since September-October 2022.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    New England Revolution – 38.6%

    Draw – 26.5%

    Vancouver Whitecaps – 34.9%

  • Shaqiri insists Euro 2024 is not a vacation as fitness doubts dismissed Shaqiri insists Euro 2024 is not a vacation as fitness doubts dismissed

    Xherdan Shaqiri is ready to take centre stage for Switzerland once again as he dismissed doubts about his match fitness ahead of Euro 2024. 

    Shaqiri, who will feature in his seventh major tournament in Germany, will hope to continue his glistening career with his nation as they kickstart their Group A campaign against Hungary on Saturday. 

    The 32-year-old has scored or assisted 46 percent of Switzerland’s goals at major tournaments over the last 10 years, becoming only the fifth player to reach 100 caps for his country two years ago. 

    Despite his experience, coach Murat Yakin has questioned Shaqiri's ability to play back-to-back games in the competition, with the forward insisting he has not travelled to Germany to make up the numbers. 

    "It's almost embarrassing to have to answer this question. Every player who comes into the national team can and wants to play -- over the full distance," Shaqiri said. 

    "No one should only show up for work half the time. I don't see any problems with that. Did (Yakin) really say that?

    "I gave the answer: I'm here with the national team because I want to help the team and play as much as possible. I didn't travel to the European Championships to take a vacation."

    Shaqiri scored three times during qualifying as the Swiss finished five points behind group winners Romania, drawing five of their 10 fixtures in a group that included Israel, Kosovo and Belarus. 

    But Switzerland have proved in recent tournaments they have the ability to compete against the top sides, most notably beating France on penalties at Euro 2020. 

    The former Liverpool midfielder believes the group of players have the quality to succeed in Germany, and is hopeful his national team can lift an international honour in the years to come. 

    "It's my seventh finals, and each one has its story," Shaqiri said. "I love the tension before tournaments, it doesn't exist anywhere else.

    "Since I joined the national team, we have continually improved. The respect of the opponents and the public for us has grown, as has the quality in the national team. Many players have important roles at big clubs.

    "To talk about the best national team of all time, we don't have the big exploit -- three years ago we were very close to the semi-finals. The next generation is in the starting blocks and I hope that at some point Switzerland can lift a trophy."

  • Italy v Albania: Spalletti urges Azzurri to act like defending champions in Euro 2024 opener Italy v Albania: Spalletti urges Azzurri to act like defending champions in Euro 2024 opener

    Luciano Spalletti hopes Italy can use their title of reigning champions to their advantage when they open their Euro 2024 campaign against Albania on Saturday.

    The Azzurri secured Euro 2020 glory by upsetting England on home soil with a 3-2 win on penalties following a 1-1 draw to win their second European title.

    After Roberto Mancini's shock departure last year, Spalletti stepped into his shoes, qualifying for Euro 2024, and he is confident they have what it takes to win the tournament for the second time in a row.

    "It feels like heaven to be in situations like these," Spalletti told UEFA.com. "Matches come and go. These tournaments are really important, and this is why we need to be prepared for everything; as we say in our anthem, 'We are ready to die' for these matches.

    "In my opinion, coming into the tournament as defending champions is an advantage. But we need to understand straight away that we need to behave like defending champions. We will only see whether or not we are up to the task during the matches.

    "In a way, we are facing ourselves, not the outside world. We need to show what we are made of, to show what we have inside."

    Albania, meanwhile, are making just their second appearance at the Euros, and their first since 2016 when they were knocked out in the group stage.

    After topping a qualifying group including the Czech Republic and Poland, the Eagles have now been drawn into the 'group of death', also containing Spain and Croatia, but Sylvinho remains optimistic about their chances.

    "We do all of this together and understand what we're all after," Sylvinho told UEFA.com. "We've achieved things, we've made it to the Euros: that's some feat.

    "We've got this far, we know our size, we're improving. It's set to be a real challenge. However, we'll knuckle down to work.

    "The games will be fantastic but hard, and if we're able to overcome our opponents, we want to keep going. We're doing well, but if we can take another step forward, then even better."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Italy – Nicolo Barella

    Barella registered more assists than any other Italy player during Euro 2024 qualifying (three) and created seven more chances than any other Italian player (15). Barella also assisted two goals during Italy's victorious Euro 2020 campaign. The Azzurri will be hoping he can get fit in time to start the tournament.

    Albania – Jasir Asani

    Asani was Albania's joint-top goalscorer during Euro 2024 qualifying, scoring three times (level with Nedim Bajrami). All three of his strikes were scored from outside the box.

    MATCH PREDICTION: ITALY WIN

    This will be Italy and Albania's first encounter at a major tournament. Italy have won all four of their previous meetings with Albania (seven goals for, one against), which have all taken place since 2014.

    Italy have not conceded more than one goal in a match across their last two Euros participations, in 2016 and 2020: that is a total of six goals conceded across their last 12 matches in the competition.

    Italy's 45 matches at the Euros have produced 1.84 goals on average (52 for, 31 against) – it is the lowest ratio amongst any of the 25 teams to have taken part in 10+ matches in the competition.

    This is just Albania's second appearance at a major international tournament after Euro 2016 – their sole victory in this competition came against Romania in the final group match that year (1-0).

    Indeed, after losing their first Euro 2024 qualifier against Poland, Albania did not lose any of their next seven (W4 D3).

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Italy – 66.3%

    Draw – 19.6%

    Albania – 14.2%

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