Rumour Has It: Manchester United target Ward-Prowse

By Sports Desk May 01, 2022

Despite the change and uncertainty at Manchester United since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement, the one constant on the pitch has been a dysfunctional midfield.

The Red Devils appear intent on changing that, amid the backdrop of Paul Pogba's contract expiring at the end of the season, while a season remains on Nemanja Matic's deal after the end of this term.

Their idea of a solution will reportedly come from within the Premier League.

 

TOP STORY – MANCHESTER UNITED TARGET WARD-PROWSE

Incoming Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag wants James Ward-Prowse to spearhead a transformation of his new side's midfield, The Sun is reporting.

Ten Hag faces a substantial rebuild at Old Trafford and with the club set to miss out on Champions League qualification, a £150million asking price from West Ham for Declan Rice reportedly appears too steep.

Ward-Prowse appears to be the alternative, with Ten Hag reportedly an admirer and reportedly costing half the price of Rice. 

The 27-year-old's contract with Southampton runs until 2026, but the lure of a club of United's stature would be hard to resist.

ROUND-UP

- Ousmane Dembele has a more lucrative offer from  Paris Saint-Germain but the 24-year-old is intent on staying at Barcelona, Sport is reporting.

- Manchester City are confident Pep Guardiola will sign a new deal at the end of the season, with the Sunday Mirror reporting talks have taken place to extend his tenure to 2025.

- The Sunday Mirror is also reporting that Manchester United are interested in signing Feyenoord's 22-year-old left-back, Tyrell Malacia.

- Milan have agreed terms with Lille to sign  Renato Sanches, per Calciomercato, with the midfielder set to join for €20million plus add-ons.

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    Manchester City have made goalkeeper Stefan Ortega Moreno their second signing of the transfer window.

    The 29-year-old was a free agent after leaving Arminia Bielefeld and has signed a three-year deal with the Premier League champions in a move that is subject to international clearance.

    Ortega Moreno will provide back-up for Ederson for Pep Guardiola's side, with Zack Steffen set to join Championship side Middlesbrough on loan.

    The arrival of German Ortega Moreno comes after City landed prolific Norway striker Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.

    "This is a fantastic move for me," Ortega Moreno told the club's official website. "Manchester City are an amazing team – a squad with world-class quality in every area.

    "To be given the chance to join this group of players and help continue the club's success is a dream for me.

    "I have enjoyed my time in Germany and I want to thank the Arminia Bielefeld fans for their support. But this new challenge of coming to City and playing in the Premier League is too good for me to ignore. 

    "I can't wait to get started, meet my team-mates and begin working with Pep and his backroom staff."

    Meanwhile, City have allowed teenage defender CJ Egan-Riley to join Vincent Kompany's Burnley on a four-year deal.

     

  • The Spain youngsters proving another dynasty could be on the horizon The Spain youngsters proving another dynasty could be on the horizon

    Spain's triumph at Euro 2012 proved to be the final flourish for one of the greatest ever international sides, with La Roja winning three consecutive international tournaments.

    Prior to victory in Euro 2008, Spain had not won an international competition since 1964 and had been perennial underachievers. 

    But that swiftly changed with the Euros win followed up by World Cup success in South Africa in 2010 before the successful defence of their continental crown.

    The triumph in 2012 was the end of an era, however, with Spain eliminated in the group stages of the 2014 World Cup, bowing out at in the last 16 at Euro 2016 and then losing to hosts Russia on penalties at the 2018 World Cup.

    However, a turn in fortunes was shown at Euro 2020, played in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, when Spain reached the semi-finals of the competition, narrowly losing to eventual champions Italy.

    Now, all eyes are focused on Qatar this year. With Spain in a tough group alongside Germany, Japan and Costa Rica, a new dawn of young talents will be decisive to the hopes of the nation.
     

    Pedri

    Pedri's international debut came in Spain's second World Cup qualifying match against Georgia and he soon established himself as a core part of the squad for Euro 2020, where he played all but a single minute and was named Young Player of the Tournament.

    In the semi-final against Italy, Pedri shone as he completed 65 of 67 passing attempts and overall at the tournament, he failed to complete just 40 of 461 attempts, resulting in a passing accuracy of 91 per cent.

    Understandably, this has led to the general consensus that Pedri is the heir apparent to Xavi and Andres Iniesta, who were vital for Spain's glory years a decade ago, and under the stewardship of the former at Barcelona, expectations are high.

    Still a teenager and only turning 20 in the days after what is expected to be his World Cup debut against Costa Rica on November 23, his calm and composed demeanour will help to keep Spain ticking through midfield in Qatar.

    Gavi

    The other half of Barcelona's exciting midfield duo, Gavi too has settled into Spain's international fold since his debut appearance in the semi-finals of the Nations League against Italy – where he became the youngest-ever player to represent Spain's senior squad.

    A further record would tumble last month in the Nations League clash against the Czech Republic, where he became his country's youngest-ever scorer, and he has accumulated 10 appearances for his national side in less than a year.

    Gavi's creativity has proven to be a stellar asset for his national side and his movement across the field, shown by his touches during his international career, is extremely difficult to track – and noticeably touches inside the box are few and far between.

    Just 14 of 321 touches have come inside the 18-yard box, with his work tending to orientate from a deeper role. That is reflected by his passes – with just eight passing attempts inside the box and the remaining 234 coming outside.

    Ansu Fati

    Earning an international debut in September 2020 against Germany, then scoring a few days later against Ukraine, Ansu Fati notched up four caps for Spain before the close of that year but injury problems derailed his progress for club and country.

    A nine-month absence began in November 2020, forcing him to miss the remainder of the season, and a further injury setback occurred in January this year which saw him miss three months of the campaign before his return in May.

    While his international football has been limited ahead of the World Cup, expectations remain high at Barcelona where he has netted 19 goals during his career – with 15 of those strikes coming from inside the box.

    That results in a significant asset for Spain, as Pedri and Gavi often provide the sort of passes that Fati thrives on.

    Fati could prove particularly important given La Roja are limited with central options in the attacking third.

    Eric Garcia

    While not commanding as many headlines as other young talents within the Spain squad, Eric Garcia's role in the years ahead is vital given the ageing defensive line La Roja have at their disposal.

    In the most recent call-ups in June, Garcia was the only defender under the age of 25 and one of only three beneath 30, alongside Pau Torres and Diego Llorente, which shows a clear changing of the guard lying ahead.

    Garcia is likely to be one of the first names on Spain's teamsheet in the heart of defence, with 17 caps since making his international debut in 2020 and having started five of Spain's World Cup qualifying matches.

    In true Spain style, one of his greatest assets is his ability on the ball and he showcased that last month in Spain's 2-0 Nations League against the Czech Republic, where Garcia completed 110 of 115 pass attempts.

  • Rumour Has It: Chelsea make progress in move for £102m Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt Rumour Has It: Chelsea make progress in move for £102m Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt

    Chelsea are reportedly weighing up a potential £102million move for Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt.

    The Stamford Bridge club have been actively searching for ways to plug the gap in the centre of their defence since losing Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen on free transfers, and are said to have also enquired about Inter's Milan Skriniar and Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly.

    Kouliably appeared the most palatable option at a fee in the range of £40m, but Chelsea may have decided the 22-year-old Netherlands international is a stronger long-term investment, and they could also potentially include a player swap to avoid forking out the full £102m release clause.

     

    TOP STORY – CHELSEA SET SIGHTS ON ONE OF THE WORLD'S TOP YOUNG CENTRE-BACKS

    The Telegraph is reporting that Juventus are holding firm on making any De Ligt suitors meet his release clause, while Football.London claims Chelsea are hoping to get a deal done with £60m plus sending Christian Pulisic to Turin.

    All reporting agrees that De Ligt desires a move to the Premier League and that talks are progressing well, indicating it could just be a matter of time before a transfer fee is agreed.

    Manchester City centre-back Nathan Ake is also said to be on the move to Chelsea – the club he spent five years with before departing to Bournemouth in 2017 – in a deal Calciomercato claims to be in the range of £40m.

    Chelsea could theoretically land both Ake and Koulibaly for less than it would take to bring in De Ligt, but if their transfer budget in this current window is close to the reported figure of £200m, money may not be an issue.

     

    ROUND-UP

    – The Times claims that Barcelona's finances are in better shape after their recent television rights deal, and the club are now willing to match the £60m required to secure Leeds United winger Raphinha.

    – According to Calciomercato, Paris Saint-Germain have raised their bid for 23-year-old Sassuolo striker Gianluca Scamacca, although it is short of their £50m asking price.

    Tottenham are reportedly in advanced talks to land Middlesbrough full-back Djed Spence in a deal worth at least £15m, per Sky Sports.

    – The Sun is reporting that Ruben Neves is likely to remain with Wolves for the upcoming season as clubs are unwilling to meet their demands of £75m.

    – According to Sky Sports, Kalvin Phillips will undergo his medical on Friday before confirming a £45m move to Man City.

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