Rumour Has It: Man Utd confident of luring Rice, Kane with or without Champions League

By Sports Desk February 24, 2022

Even if not quite the force they once were, Manchester United still like to show their fans their ambitions match up, especially in the transfer market.

Interim manager Ralf Rangnick has the job of ensuring the Red Devils qualify for next season's Champions League and is currently on course, with them sitting fourth in the Premier League.

However, the club supposedly remain confident of adding big names at the end of the season regardless of a top-four finish.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD WANT MORE ENGLAND STARS

Manchester United believe they can attract big names to Old Trafford at the end of the season, even if they may not have Champions League football to offer.

According to ESPN, the Premier League club have an ambitious list of targets that includes England pair Declan Rice and Harry Kane, and they believe the 2016 signing of Paul Pogba – when they were in the Europa League – is proof the name of the club is enticing enough.

It remains to be seen what that means for whomever the incoming permanent manager is by then, but they will likely not say no to additions of that calibre.

ROUND-UP

Atletico Madrid are plotting a move for Georginio Wijnaldum from Paris Saint-Germain, according to Fichajes.

- Calciomercato claims Inter wish to add Torino defender Bremer to their ranks next season and may already have an agreement with the player.

- Meanwhile, Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele is being pursued on a free transfer by both Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain, 90min reports.

- The Catalan giants could get one in return though as they have offered a two-year deal to Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta, according to Sport.

- Marca is reporting Tottenham are looking at Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon as a potential long-term replacement for Hugo Lloris.

Roma could reignite their interest in Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka at the end of the season, Calciomercato says.

Related items

  • James advises Slot to block out Man City and target 90 points in first Liverpool season James advises Slot to block out Man City and target 90 points in first Liverpool season

    Arne Slot should block out any noise around trying to catch Manchester City and instead set his sights on compiling 90 points in his first season in charge of Liverpool.

    That is the view of former Liverpool goalkeeper David James, who believes securing Champions League football should be seen as the minimum requirement for former Feyenoord boss Slot, who is replacing Jurgen Klopp at Anfield.

    While Klopp lifted the EFL Cup in his final campaign as manager, James feels it is very difficult for Premier League teams to set any targets relating to any silverware due to the consistent dominance of City under Pep Guardiola.

    City have won an unprecedented four straight Premier League titles and will face rivals Manchester United this weekend at Wembley in an attempt to win back-to-back FA Cup crowns. Guardiola also has four EFL Cup trophies to his name.

    James feels Slot should therefore focus only on what he can control and believes 90 points is an aspirational target that will at least put the Reds in contention.

    Liverpool made it to 82 points in 2023-24, which saw them finish nine behind Man City and seven adrift of second-placed Arsenal.

    That tally was comfortably enough to seal a return to the Champions League for next season, a status which James says Slot must ensure he maintains.

    "As we have seen under Jurgen Klopp, the fantastic manager, there are teams around in the Premier League who don't really care what you think you want to do, namely Manchester City," James said to Stats Perform when asked what Slot's minimum target should be.

    "There could invariably be a situation where whatever it is, such as if Pep decides it is his last season, then it might be fairytale stuff again, that he goes for the quadruple and he does it.

    "Then it doesn't matter [what your targets are], no one wins anything domestically. 

    "The minimum requirement, which Pep can't stop you from doing, has to be qualifying for the Champions League of course. But beyond that, I think it's just getting the performances. 

    "If you get 90 points, and I know this has happened to Liverpool and they have got records to prove it, but if you get 90 points or even more and still don't win the league, then it's not down to you doing something wrong, it's down to the excellence of whoever finishes above you. 

    "I would say minimum Champions League qualification and then just going for 90 points and see where it takes you. As I say, 90 points is the benchmark in the Premier League.

    "You know, it isn't that difficult to achieve when you think about it. You can literally lose to the four best teams, again subjectively, four best teams, home and away, and as long as you beat the others, the other 30 games, that's 90 points.

    "Who cares [which teams you beat]? You don't get an extra three points for beating the teams above you. It's just winning."

    James expects to see plenty of movement in the transfer window now that there have been substantial changes to the staff, but says Slot and his coaching team may not always get their own way.

    He added: "I do [expect a lot of movement]. There are a couple of things to say. The analysis department will have their numbers, they'll know who they need to keep, they'll know who they need to replace and obviously they'll know who they need or want to bring in. 

    "This wasn't just about Jurgen leaving, this was the whole staff going. This is a massive shift, and everybody [left at the club] has their opinion [on the squad], even the analysis guys.

    "[Those opinions] might encourage or discourage the manager from making choices, whether it's selection choices in games or whether it's selection choices for transfers. 

    "The conversation with Slot will be a whole room of [new] opinions added to a data analysis group [trying] to find replacements because some of the players are leaving. 

    "With transfers I think it will cause a little bit of a ruffle. It will be done for the right reasons but I don't think there'll be a situation where Slot will just bring the ones he likes in. 

    "It will be a group decision with the analysis department. It will need to be the right players and, as Liverpool have proven under Jurgen's tenure, when they get it right, they are very successful."

  • Liverpool youngster Doak makes preliminary Scotland squad for Euro 2024 Liverpool youngster Doak makes preliminary Scotland squad for Euro 2024

    Teenage Liverpool forward Ben Doak has been included in Scotland's 28-man preliminary squad for Euro 2024, with Stuart Armstrong and Che Adams also in despite fitness concerns.

    Doak has never previously been called up to Scotland's senior squad, having won seven caps at under-21 level.

    The 18-year-old made five appearances for Liverpool in all competitions in 2023-24, including four starts, and could now make his senior international debut when Steve Clarke's side face Gibraltar and Finland in pre-tournament friendlies next month.

    Clarke must then cut two of the 28 players he has selected ahead of Scotland's trip to Germany, who they face in the opening game of the tournament on June 14.

    Elsewhere, Southampton duo Armstrong and Adams have been included despite fitness concerns, with the former being sidelined by a muscle injury since late April and the latter missing both legs of their Championship play-off semi-final tie against West Brom.

    Forty-one-year-old goalkeeper Craig Gordon is included after returning to the fold earlier this year, but Clarke has something of a selection dilemma at right wing-back.

    With Aaron Hickey and Ryan Patterson both out injured, uncapped Bristol City man Ross McCrorie has made the cut, while Celtic's James Forrest has been discussed as an option in that role after finishing the Scottish Premiership season in fine form.

    Scotland have never reached the knockout stages in four previous appearances at the Euros, only recording two wins in nine total matches at the tournament and failing to score in six of those games.

    However, Clarke's side qualified in style from a difficult group headlined by Spain, their five wins representing their best ever tally in an eight-game campaign. 

    Full 28-man squad: Angus Gunn (Norwich City), Zander Clark (Hearts), Craig Gordon (Hearts), Liam Kelly (Motherwell), Andy Robertson (Liverpool), Kieran Tierney (Real Sociedad), Jack Hendry (Al-Ettifaq), Ryan Porteous (Watford), Liam Cooper (Leeds United), Scott McKenna (Copenhagen), Grant Hanley (Norwich City), Greg Taylor (Celtic), John Souttar (Rangers), Anthony Ralston (Celtic), Ross McCrorie (Bristol City), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Ryan Christie (Bournemouth), Billy Gilmour (Brighton and Hove Albion), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Kenny McLean (Norwich City), Scott McTominay (Manchester United), Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), Ryan Jack (Rangers), Lyndon Dykes (Queens Park Rangers), Che Adams (Southampton), Lawrence Shankland (Hearts), Ben Doak (Liverpool), James Forrest (Celtic).

  • Jackson laments Pochettino exit as Palmer thanks departed Chelsea boss Jackson laments Pochettino exit as Palmer thanks departed Chelsea boss

    Nicolas Jackson appeared to question Chelsea's decision to part company with Mauricio Pochettino as Cole Palmer paid thanks to the Argentine.

    On Tuesday, Chelsea announced Pochettino had left the club by mutual consent after just one season in charge, which ended in a sixth-place Premier League finish.

    Several pundits expressed shock at the decision, after an upturn saw Chelsea recover from a poor start to the season to clinch European qualification.  

    Only four teams – Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal and Newcastle United – had a better expected goals (xG) figure than Chelsea (75.3) in the Premier League in 2023-24, while only three – City, Liverpool and Arsenal – had more shots on target than the Blues (215).

    From March 11 onwards, Chelsea's return of 27 points was only bettered by eventual champions Manchester City, who took 28 in that span.

    A number of Chelsea players appeared to be surprised by Pochettino's exit when reacting on social media, most notably Jackson.

    Alongside an image of himself alongside Pochettino, Jackson wrote on Instagram: "Love you coach. Wish we could stay together more.

    "But may God continue to bless you and your family. Thanks for the advice and support, you're a true lion and a fighter, wish you all the best."

    Leading goalscorer Palmer, meanwhile, paid a heartfelt tribute to Pochettino in an Instagram post of his own.

    "Gaffer, thank you for everything you have done for me and making my dreams come true," the England international wrote. "All the best."

    Former Blues captain John Terry, meanwhile, said he was "gutted" to see Pochettino depart.

    Posting to his Instagram story, Terry added: "I just hope we don't sign or sell any players until we get a manager in."

    Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna and Brentford's Thomas Frank have been touted as possible successors, with co-owner Todd Boehly reportedly looking to hire a progressive young coach to work within Chelsea's existing structure. 

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.