Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes David de Gea has done away with distractions and regained focus after signing a long-term contract extension with Manchester United.

Star goalkeeper De Gea ended speculation over his future when he put pen to paper on a fresh four-year deal on Monday.

Long-running negotiations dragged into the new season and kept potential suitors interested but Solskjaer grew increasingly confident of tying down the Spain international.

The United manager now expects to see the best of De Gea following a significant dip in his form last term.

"Most of the time we get to keep the ones we want to keep," said Solskjaer.

"The more I got to listen and speak to David, I was pretty confident we were going to make it.

"David is delighted. I think you could see by his performance [in the Premier League win] against Leicester that he had made up his mind. You could see the focus in his eyes again.

"You do feel very secure with a focused David behind you.

"He's really worked hard this season. He's still young. Edwin [van der Sar] signed for us when he was 35, so I'm sure David will be part of a successful United team."

De Gea will be rested when the Red Devils commence their Europa League campaign at home to Astana on Thursday.

Sergio Romero is to replace the 28-year-old in goal with Fred, Axel Tuanzebe and Mason Greenwood to join him in the starting XI.

It will be a second senior competitive start for teenager Greenwood, a talent held in high esteem by Solskjaer.

"Mason is one of the best finishers I've seen and I played with quite a few decent ones," said the former striker.

"He's still very young but he's maturing and he's developed so much since I came in. I remember the kid who just wanted to play with his mates in the Under-18s. Now he's knocking on my door wanting to play these games.

"I don't want to put too much pressure on him. It's just about enjoyment, go out and express yourself at Old Trafford."

In-form winger Daniel James will miss Manchester United's first Europa League match against Astana through injury.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed Wales international James suffered a "knock" against Leicester City at the weekend and would sit out Thursday's game at Old Trafford.

The 21-year-old skipped United's final training session before the Group L fixture and joins Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw on the sideline.

Jesse Lingard and Diogo Dalot are ready to return from illness and a hip problem respectively.

"He got a knock against Leicester so he won't be available," Solskjaer said of James.

"We're getting some back and losing some, so that's just the way it is."

James, who almost joined Leeds United in January, has shone since moving to Manchester from Swansea City, scoring three Premier League goals.

"Delighted with Dan," said Solskjaer. "That we signed him, that we managed to get him to Manchester is fantastic.

"He's proven with his X-factor already that he will give this squad a lot.

"I know he was very close [to Leeds], but that's football. Sometimes you have to take a chance and sometime life works in different ways, in strange ways. He's started really well here."

James will be one of several regulars missing from the starting XI as Solskjaer rotates his squad against the Kazakhstan Premier League champions.

David de Gea, fresh from signing a new four-year contract, will be rested, with Sergio Romero to replace him in goal.

Axel Tuanzebe, Mason Greenwood and Fred are also set to be given opportunities from the outset.

"It's not set in stone that this tournament is just going to be youngsters," the United manager added.

"They might play in the league. The experienced ones might play in the Europa League. Those are decisions we have to make at the time."

Manchester United defender Phil Jones views the Europa League as an opportunity to work his way into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first-team plans.

The centre-back has not managed a single minute this season, with manager Solskjaer preferring Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof in front of David de Gea.

Jones made it to the bench for the narrow Premier League victory over Leicester City and could come into selection contention when United begin their European campaign against Astana at Old Trafford on Thursday.

It is the first of three matches in the space of a week for the Red Devils.

"There are players like myself who've not been involved as much, but it's a chance for everyone to get games," Jones told United's official match programme.

"It's a busy period when all the games come thick and fast, when you need a big squad with everyone ready to fight. But it's a period we relish."

Eric Bailly's knee injury and Chris Smalling's loan move to Roma weakened United's centre-back stocks but Jones, a member of England's 2018 World Cup squad, understands it will be difficult to dislodge Solskjaer's regular starters.

"Since I came to this club – when I walked through the door – I knew I wasn't just going to walk into the team and expect to play," the 27-year-old added.

"Today's no different. Of course I want to play, but we've got some quality players in that position. I'll wait for my chance and hopefully I'll get a chance sooner rather than later."

United's other Europa League opponents in Group L are Serbian side Partizan and Dutch outfit AZ.

There could be a fight to prise Fabian Ruiz from Napoli.

Fabian has established himself as one of Europe's premier midfielders and the Spaniard is reportedly attracting interest.

Two LaLiga giants and the Champions League holders are said to be eyeing Fabian.

 

TOP STORY - THREE-WAY BATTLE FOR FABIAN

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Liverpool are chasing Napoli star Fabian Ruiz, according to the Daily Mail.

Fabian swapped Real Betis for Napoli in 2018 and the Spain international has quickly become one of Europe's most sought-after midfielders.

Now three of the biggest clubs in the world are reportedly eyeing the 23-year-old.

ROUND-UP

- The Sun reports Manchester United are preparing a January move for Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson. The Red Devils have limited options up front following the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez. Wilson, who has already scored three goals this season, fits the bill at Old Trafford as manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer eyes talented English players.

Juventus, Liverpool and Manchester City are all interested in Real Madrid playmaker Isco, claims Calciomercato.

Barcelona are set to offer 16-year-old sensation Ansu Fati a new five-year deal to fend off interest from European rivals, claims the Daily Mail.

- League One side Southend United want to hire former Celtic, Barca and Manchester United striker Henrik Larsson as their manager, says the Daily Mail. Southend are second bottom in the league after eight games, while Larsson was last in charge of Helsingborg before quitting in August.

- According to Globo Esporte, Flamengo are negotiating to bring Fredy Guarin to the club. The 33-year-old former Inter midfielder is a free agent after leaving Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua.

Jadon Sancho said he does not know what the future holds but the Borussia Dortmund star wants to win titles with the German side amid growing links to Manchester United.

Sancho has reportedly emerged as United's top transfer target following previous speculation over a move to Old Trafford during the off-season.

The 19-year-old England international produced another impressive display as Dortmund drew 0-0 with Barcelona in their Champions League opener on Tuesday.

Asked about his future post-game, Sancho told Viasport: "I can't tell the future. I just take it game by game. I just wanna give 100 per cent for Borussia Dortmund.

"I really wanna do well with Dortmund. Obviously I want to win titles and give everything."

Sancho has established himself as one of Europe's best talents after leaving Premier League champions Manchester City in 2017.

He scored 12 goals and supplied 14 assists as Dortmund finished runners-up to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga last season, while Sancho already has two goals and four league assists this term.

"It's crazy. Everything has come so fast," Sancho told Viasat. "But I have a great team. They keep me humbled. I just take it game by game and give 100 per cent."

Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc was asked about Sancho prior to the goalless draw against LaLiga champions Barca on Tuesday.

"We didn't talk to them [United]," Zorc told Viasport. "They were asking us for a meeting [during the off-season]. Sancho is not for sale."

Erling Haaland made a stunning start to his Champions League career on Tuesday, becoming the eighth player to net a hat-trick on their debut in Europe's elite competition.

The 19-year-old netted all three of his goals in the first half as Salzburg crushed Genk 6-2, with Haaland the third youngest player to score a treble in the Champions League.

His first goal arrived in just the second minute, as he found the bottom-right corner in confident fashion from just inside the area, Haaland then doubled the tally just past the half-hour mark when finishing off a counter.

He completed the hat-trick – remarkably his fourth of the season across all competitions – just before the interval, tucking in from close range.

As impressive as his debut Champions League hat-trick was, he was not the first to accomplish the feat. Below, we look at those who came before.

Yacine Brahimi (Porto) v BATE – September 2014

Tricky winger Brahimi made an explosive entrance to Champions League football five years ago. He punished a goalkeeper error to open his account from a tight angle, before then adding a glorious solo effort and a pinpoint free-kick.

Grafite (Wolfsburg) v CSKA Moscow – September 2009

Brazilian striker Grafite pencilled himself into the history books in 2009 with a treble against CSKA Moscow. The powerful forward finished off a counter for his first, then converting a penalty. He rounded things off late on in the 3-1 win by converting a Marcel Schaefer cross.

Vincenzo Iaquinta (Udinese) v Panathinaikos – September 2005

Udinese made an emphatic start to their first Champions League campaign in 2005, dispatching Panathinaikos 3-0. Iaquinta was vital to that, opening the scoring with a header after wasting a couple of earlier chances. He made it 2-0 in the second half when racing on to Antonio Di Natale's pass and finishing, wrapping up the win with a fierce drive.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) v Fenerbahce – September 2004

After joining United for a reported £24million on the back of an impressive Euro 2004, Rooney truly announced himself with a marvellous treble against Fenerbahce on his Old Trafford debut. The striker got his first 17 minutes in, emphatically converting after a Ruud van Nistelrooy pass. A fine long-range effort into the bottom-left corner followed and he then blasted home a free-kick.

Yakubu (Maccabi Haifa) v Olympiakos – September 2002

Only 19 at the time, Yakubu ran Olympiakos ragged in 2002. Having missed a 5-2 defeat to Man United through suspension, Yakubu made up for lost time on matchday two, opening the scoring with a penalty. He doubled the lead against the run of play with a smart finish after holding off a defender and later added the third after getting in behind the visitors' defence.

Tino Asprilla (Newcastle United) v Barcelona– September 1997

A vibrant, colourful character, Colombian forward Asprilla produced a performance to match against Barcelona in a 3-2 win. He opened his account with a penalty, before twice nodding in towering headers from right-wing crosses, securing a famous result for the Magpies.

Marco van Basten (AC Milan) v Goteborg – November 1992

Synonymous with the spectacular, Van Basten's first goal in the revamped Champions League – having been the European Cup before the 1992-93 season – was a lovely one, finding the top-left corner despite being off-balance. A penalty followed and then came an outrageous overhead kick from the edge of the box. The Dutchman got a fourth by rounding the goalkeeper, sealing an easy win.

David de Gea insists Manchester United's players have complete faith in manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Red Devils have endured a mixed start to the 2019-20 campaign but returned to winning ways on Saturday with a slender 1-0 victory over Leicester City.

De Gea – who signed a new deal at Old Trafford until June 2023 on Monday – has dismissed suggestions some in the United camp are unhappy with Solskjaer, stating his belief the Norwegian is the right man for the job.

"From the moment he arrived here, he showed his faith in me, right from minute one," the Spain international told the official Manchester United app. "I think he had a massive impact with the team. Everyone has faith in him, that's the most important thing.

"The fans are behind him and he's a manager who knows the club really well and the people who work here, and I reckon that is essential.

"He also shows a lot of confidence in the younger players, which is important for us, and so he's a really great manager."

While United have won just two of their opening five Premier League games, they do look more solid at the back following the arrivals of Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

They have conceded four goals in those games and De Gea is pleased with the enhancements in defence.

"I think we have improved a lot defensively," he added. "We are conceding fewer goals than last season. I think that, last year, we were letting in too many goals, but we are defending better and, from there, the team is improving.

"Of course, when you defend well, the team is bound to improve. We have some great players up front and we just have to keep on improving.

"There are lots of things we can work on, so, little by little, we can try and build a very strong team, a team which can dominate games more and dictate the play and, with that, win games."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appears set on his determination to bring young British talent to Manchester United.

There are four English names on the United manager's radar, apparently, as he looks to rebuild the team into a title-winning force once more.

The end of the season could potentially see a spend of a similar magnitude to the £150million, more or less, that he spent on Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James this year.

 

TOP STORY - MADDISON AND SANCHO TOP SOLSKJAER'S WISH LIST

As per ESPN, Manchester United will pursue deals for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho and Leicester City's James Maddison in 2020.

Manager Solskjaer is set on his policy of recruiting young, hungry British talent and remains keen on signing Sancho, who was reportedly a target this year.

United believe Leicester could sell Maddison for around £70m and are also interested in Newcastle United's Sean Longstaff, Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson and Stoke City's Nathan Collins.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona have been ordered by a judge to pay a €300 fine or play a match behind closed doors as part of Atletico Madrid's complaint against the transfer of Antoine Griezmann, Marca say. Atleti believe they are owed more than the €120m Barca paid to activate his release clause.

- The Daily Mail report Napoli are interested in Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard, a player they value at around €34m (£30.1m). 

- A handful of reports in Italy suggest Bernard Arnault, the billionaire owner of Louis Vuitton, is interested in buying Serie A giants AC Milan

- Back with Manchester United, and Calciomercato say JuventusInter, Milan and Borussia Dortmund are all keeping an eye on Nemanja Matic, who has grown frustrated at his reduced role in Solskjaer's plans.

After many, many months of speculation, David de Gea has pledged his future to Manchester United in the form of a new contract.

The Spain international has agreed to fresh terms that will run until the end of the 2022-23 season, with the option of a further year.

De Gea is one of United's senior players these days, having joined the club from Atletico Madrid as a 20-year-old in 2011 as one of the final major signings made by Alex Ferguson before his retirement two years later.

Fergie brought in a fair few goalkeepers during his 27 years at Old Trafford. Some of them proved shrewd, pivotal signings. Some did not.

Here, we run the rule over all the keepers to join during the reign of the great Scot...

Jim Leighton (1988-91)

Leighton followed Ferguson to United from Aberdeen two years after his manager made the move. A fine player in Scotland, Leighton could not replicate that same form and was dropped for the FA Cup final replay in 1990 after some clangers in the first game.

Verdict: Miss

 

Les Sealey (1990-91, 93-94)

The man who replaced Leighton for that victorious replay against Palace, Sealey also played in the 1991 European Cup Winners' Cup final victory over Barcelona. He sadly died at the age of just 43 in 2001 but is fondly remembered by United fans.

Verdict: Hit

 

Peter Schmeichel (1991-99)

Arguably United's greatest ever goalkeeper, Schmeichel won 11 major trophies with the Red Devils, including the famous treble in 1998-99. Even joining Manchester City before retirement has not tarnished his legacy at Old Trafford.

Verdict: Hit

 

Tony Coton (1996)

Better known as a goalkeeping coach than a player at United, Coton never made a first-team appearance for the club. Considered Watford's best ever keeper and a top player for City, his United playing days were forgettable, to say the least.

Verdict: Miss

 

Raimond van der Gouw (1996-2002)

Coton's replacement as understudy to Schmeichel and then Fabien Barthez, Van der Gouw was an astute signing who served United with aplomb - even if he didn't play too often.

Verdict: Hit

 

Nick Culkin (1997-2002)

Signed from York City, Culkin took the record for the shortest Premier League debut when he came on as a substitute against Arsenal just before full-time. At the end of his career, he turned out for FC United of Manchester, the team formed as part of the anti-Glazer protest movement.

Verdict: Miss

 

Mark Bosnich (1989-91, 1999-01)

After a brief stint at the club as a teenager, Bosnich was signed back to replace Schmeichel in 1999. He won a Premier League title but rarely looked convincing, particularly with his kicking, and Ferguson later criticised his professionalism. 

Verdict: Miss

 

Massimo Taibi (1999)

Taibi cost a reported £4.5million, a sizeable fee at the time. It's fair to say it was not justified. Taibi had a good debut in a win over fierce rivals Liverpool, but utterly wretched performances against Southampton and in a 5-0 loss to Chelsea more or less ended his United career before it started.

Verdict: Miss

 

Fabien Barthez (2000-04)

France's World Cup-winning goalkeeper from 1998, Barthez was both an exceptional talent and an eccentric prone to too many mistakes. He was twice a Premier League champion but simply could not be relied upon. Still, we won't forget the Laurent-Blanc-head-kissing routine in a hurry.

Verdict: Hit - just

 

Roy Carroll (2001-05)

Say 'Roy Carroll', and you think of Pedro Mendes. A Premier League and FA Cup winner with United, it was Carroll's error against Tottenham that sticks most vividly in the mind, even if the goal was somehow not given. At least it helped pave the way for goal-line technology.

Verdict: Miss

 

Ricardo (2002-05)

On his Premier League debut against Blackburn Rovers, Ricardo conceded and saved a penalty in a 3-1 win. He didn't play in the top flight again. He still considered his time at Old Trafford "a lovely experience", though.

Verdict: Miss

 

Luke Steele (2002-06)

Snapped up from Peterborough United, Steele's days with the Red Devils comprised of reserve-team matches and time on the substitute's bench. His best days came in a Barnsley shirt.

Verdict: Miss

 

Tim Howard (2003-07)

A promising talent, Howard struggled in the United limelight and infamously dropped a free-kick that led to Porto's decisive goal in a Champions League tie, leading to Jose Mourinho's wild celebratory sprint down the touchline. He had a much better career with Everton and the United States.

Verdict: Miss

 

Edwin van der Sar (2005-11)

It took six years, but United finally got their Schmeichel replacement. Van der Sar runs the Dane close as the club's greatest goalkeeper, winning four league titles and the Champions League as part of the most formidable side since the treble season.

Verdict: Hit

 

Tomasz Kuszczak (2006-12)

Another United keeper to concede and save a penalty on his debut, Kuszczak was a back-up to Van der Sar who never truly inspired confidence. He did win seven major trophies, though.

Verdict: Miss

 

Ben Foster (2005-10)

A bright talent who joined United from Stoke City, serious knee injuries hampered Foster's early career. A good goalkeeper who just wasn't quite good enough, certainly to wrestle the number one shirt away from Van der Sar, he has been a fine servant for West Brom and Watford.

Verdict: Miss - just

 

Anders Lindegaard (2010-15)

A reasonably dependable presence while De Gea adapted to life in the Premier League, Lindegaard won the title in 2012-13 in a United career that mostly went under the radar.

Verdict: Hit

 

David de Gea (2011 -)

He had some tricky early days, but De Gea soon developed into one of the world's elite goalkeepers. A dip in standards over the past 18 months does not diminish his overall standing at the club, and he is showing signs of recapturing his best form.

Verdict: Hit

It is official. David de Gea is going nowhere!

The Spain goalkeeper penned a new contract with Manchester United until 2023 on Monday, with the option to extend the deal by a further year.

De Gea's future at Old Trafford has often been the feature of debate, with Real Madrid most famously coming close to securing his signature in 2015, while Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain have also been reported suitors.

But the 28-year-old, who has become recognised as one of the world's best goalkeepers during his time at United, will be with the Red Devils for the foreseeable future.

Below, we have analysed Opta data to take a look at De Gea's best Premier League stats with United.

 

MORE CLEAN SHEETS THAN A HOTEL

Since De Gea made his debut in August 2011, no other goalkeeper can boast more than his 102 clean sheets from 280 top-flight games. The nearest rival is Tottenham's Hugo Lloris ( 87 from 244 ), while Joe Hart ( 85 from 216 ) and Petr Cech ( 84 from 221 ) also feature highly on the list.


A GLOVE-LY RECORD TO HOLD

De Gea arguably enjoyed his best campaign in a Red Devils jersey during the 2017-18 campaign as he kept 18 clean sheets to clinch the Golden Glove award. In that same campaign, Ederson ( 16 ), Lloris ( 15 ) and Thibaut Courtois ( 15 ) could not match De Gea's efforts. That season saw De Gea make 14 saves in a single match against Arsenal – the most in one game (same as Tim Krul and Vito Mannone) since Opta started collecting shot save data in the 2003-04 season.


ONE HUNDRED NOT OUT

It took De Gea 264 appearances to rack up a century of Premier League clean sheets. That pales in comparison to the 180 it took former Chelsea and Arsenal stopper Cech to reach the milestone. Pepe Reina ( 198 ), Peter Schmeichel ( 212 ), David Seaman ( 225 ), Edwin van der Sar ( 247 ) and Joe Hart ( 259 ) also achieved the feat in fewer games. De Gea's best run without conceding was a streak of six between February 2 and March 30 2013.


THE VITAL PREMIER LEAGUE STATISTICS

280 – De Gea has racked up an impressive 280 top-flight appearances since making the move to Old Trafford from Atletico Madrid, playing 25,184 minutes in the process.

102 – The Spain international has frequently kept opposition attacks frustrated with 102 clean sheets to date.

282 – De Gea has picked the ball out of the United goal on 282 occasions in the Premier League. The most in a single season was the 2018-19 campaign where he was beaten on 54 occasions.

785 – You do not earn the nickname "Dave saves" for nothing and De Gea has 785 to his name so far, with an impressive save percentage of 73.27.

2 – One slightly surprising area of his game is penalty saves. De Gea has stopped just two of the 24 Premier League penalties he has faced.

10 – In his eight-and-a-bit seasons to date, De Gea has been personally culpable for 10 errors leading to goals. The most in a single campaign came last term with four, while he impressively was at fault for zero in the 2013-14 and 2017-18 seasons.

158 – Of the 280 Premier League games he has played, De Gea has been on the winning side on 158 occasions.

David de Gea has committed his future to Manchester United by signing a new deal until June 2023, the Premier League side have confirmed.

De Gea, 28, was set to be out of contract at the end of the 2019-20 season but has instead signed to stay at United for at least another four years.

The Spain international, who helped United win the Premier League in his second season at the club in 2012-13, had previously been linked with Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Serie A champions Juventus.

But any doubt over his future has been cleared up and De Gea could take his Old Trafford stay to 13 years if the option to extend his new deal by a further year to 2024 is exercised.

"It has been a privilege to spend eight years at this great club and the opportunity to continue my career at Manchester United is a genuine honour," De Gea told United's official website.

"Since I arrived here, I could never have imagined I would play over 350 games for this club. Now my future is fixed, all I want is to help this team achieve what I believe we can and win trophies again, together.

"As one of the senior players in the squad, I want to support and lead in any way that I can to assist the younger players, so they know what it means to play here.

"I still feel that I have so much more to achieve at the club and I truly believe that Manchester United can build on the club's tradition of success and reward our fans for their support.

"I am committed to continuing repaying the fans for all of the care that they've shown me during the good times and the bad."

Reports suggest De Gea's new deal is worth £375,000 per week and makes him the world's highest-paid goalkeeper.

The shot-stopper, who is now in fierce competition with Chelsea's Kepa Arrizabalaga to start for Spain, almost left United for Madrid in 2015, but paperwork was not submitted in time.

De Gea claimed the Premier League Golden Glove in 2017-18 and has widely been regarded as one of the world's best at his position, although he is coming off a disappointing 2018-19 campaign.

His new contract is a major boost for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United, who have endured a mixed opening to the campaign, with the Red Devils taking eight points from five matches.

During De Gea's time at United, he has also lifted the FA Cup, EFL Cup and Europa League, and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes he will be vital in their quest to return the glory days to Old Trafford.

"I am delighted that David has committed his long-term future to the club," he said. "Over recent years, David has proved himself to be the best in the world and a vital part of our plans as we look to take Manchester United back to where it belongs.

"David is a fantastic person and his outstanding quality provides the perfect base to our defence.

"Over his time here, David has really understood the values of playing for Manchester United and now represents everything you want in a goalkeeper."

Cristiano Ronaldo said he felt "embarrassed" after being accused of rape.

Kathryn Mayorga claimed Ronaldo raped her in a hotel room in Las Vegas 10 years ago, with German publication Der Spiegel reporting the story last October.

Ronaldo repeatedly denied the accusation and the Clark County District Attorney's Office announced in July that the Juventus striker would not face charges as they could not "be proven beyond a reasonable doubt".

According to Der Spiegel, Mayorga first made a complaint of sexual assault in 2009 and subsequently reached an out-of-court settlement with Ronaldo. It was claimed by the magazine she was paid $375,000 as part of a privacy agreement, preventing her from going public with the allegations.

The Portuguese, speaking to Piers Morgan in an interview to be aired on ITV on Tuesday, has spoken for the first time about the impact the case has had on his family life.

"They play with your dignity. It's hard," said Ronaldo.

"You have a girlfriend, you have a family, you have kids. When they play with your honesty, it's bad, it's hard.

"I remember one day I was at home in the living room with my girlfriend watching the television, to see the news and they talk about Cristiano Ronaldo and this and that, I listened to my kids coming down the stairs and I changed the channel because I was embarrassed.

"I felt embarrassed, I just changed the channel for Cristiano Jr not to see that they speak badly about his father, about a very bad case. It makes me feel so bad, to be honest."

If losing your manager was bad enough, imagine losing your star defender?

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and centre-back Virgil van Dijk are attracting some serious interest from across Europe.

Now, LaLiga's powerhouse duo are reportedly eyeing the Reds pair.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA AND MADRID WANT KLOPP AND VAN DIJK

According to AS, LaLiga champions Barcelona and rivals Real Madrid are set to go head-to-head to try to prise Klopp and Van Dijk from Liverpool.

Klopp and Van Dijk helped lead Liverpool to Champions League glory last season, while the Reds are challenging for Premier League honours this term having narrowly missed out to Manchester City in 2018-19.

With Barca head coach Ernesto Valverde and Madrid counterpart Zinedine Zidane under some early pressure in Spain, Klopp and Van Dijk are reportedly "two priorities" for both clubs.

 

ROUND-UP

Real Madrid have the budget to sign Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe at the end of the season, reports AS. Madrid's financial accounts have been revealed, with €156million in liquid assets at their disposal, as well as €285m in credit. Los Blancos are reportedly planning to persuade the France forward, who is contracted until 2022, not to re-sign in the French capital in an effort to force the club's hand.

Lionel Messi to MLS? There has been talk about Messi and David Beckham's incoming franchise Inter Miami following a report claiming a delegation had been sent out to open negotiations for the Barcelona captain. However, Goal says Messi has had no contact with Beckham's Miami.

Manchester United are trying everything to re-sign star goalkeeper David de Gea. According to the Times, United have offered De Gea a new contract with no wage drop if the Red Devils do not qualify for the Champions League. The Spain international, who is out of contract at the end of the season, reportedly has a four-year deal on the table worth £13.5m a season.

- Staying at Old Trafford, and Record and O Jogo both report United are back in for Benfica star Ruben Dias. The 22-year-old defender was linked to the Manchester club before the transfer window closed. Now reports claim a United official was in attendance for Benfica's 2-0 win over Gil Vicente.

Inter are hoping to sign Mario Gotze from Borussia Dortmund, according to Calciomercato.com. Gotze's contract expires at the end of the season and Antonio Conte's Inter are eyeing the Germany attacker on a free transfer.

- Velez Sarsfield's Thiago Almada is still on the radar of Manchester City, says Record. City had a bid rejected during the transfer window but Pep Guardiola's side remain keen on the 18-year-old.

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic admitted it has been frustrating sitting on the bench this season.

Matic made his first start of the 2019-20 campaign as United edged Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday following the international break.

The Serbia international came in for the injured Paul Pogba at Old Trafford, however, Matic had been limited to just 22 minutes of action prior to Leicester's visit.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has preferred Pogba and Scott McTominay in midfield, and Matic said: "Of course [it has been frustrating]. I want to play, I always give my best for the team.

"The coach is the man who picks the team and when you are on the bench you are not happy, but I am trying to convince him to change his mind and pick me to play.

"The season is long. [Against Leicester] as you saw I played, and we won the game.

"I am happy so we will see in the future what the coach will decide. I am ready. In the last 10 years I have played in a high level and every game I try to do my best to help the team because I think I am a team player and I can help a lot I think."

When asked about knocking on Solskjaer's door about the situation, Matic – who arrived from Chelsea in 2017 – added:  "No, I never did that. I show my quality on the pitch, in training sessions and in games. This is not my way to fight for the place."

While it has been a frustrating start to the season for Matic, the 31-year-old saluted United's young players.

Marcus Rashford, (21), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (21), Daniel James (21) and McTominay (22) have all performed well for United, who are fourth and seven points off the pace after five matches.

"It doesn't matter if you are 18 or 35, you play for your team because you deserve to play," Matic said. "Manchester United are giving opportunities to the guys who grew up here in the academy and that's good because in big clubs they don't always get those opportunities. At big clubs there is always the pressure to get results.

"This season we can see who is ready to play at a high level. I am happy for them. I like to see young players on the pitch and hopefully they can bring us some fresh energy for the rest of the season."

Roberto Firmino is Liverpool's most important player as he "makes everything tick" for Jurgen Klopp's side, according to former striker Emile Heskey.

Firmino came off the bench to help the Reds beat Newcastle United 3-1 on Saturday and extend their run to 14 consecutive victories in the Premier League.

Liverpool were level when Firmino replaced the injured Divock Origi, with Sadio Mane having cancelled out Jetro Willems' opener, but the Brazil international helped set up Mane's second within three minutes of his introduction.

A sublime backheel to Mohamed Salah led to the home side's third at Anfield, which secured a result that puts them five points clear of champions Manchester City after five matches.

Heskey, who spent four years on Merseyside and was often used as a link between midfield and strike partner Michael Owen, believes Firmino turns Liverpool into a stronger side as he makes life easier for his attacking team-mates.

"I would say Firmino [is most important] and the reason I say that is he's the one that makes everything tick when it comes to the front three," Heskey told Omnisport.

"Take him out of there, yes, they will get you goals, yes, they will cause havoc but they won't do it in the same fashion that they do with him.

"He makes everything tick, everything goes through him and it just looks smoother when it goes through him, and they create more chances when he's in the team."

While Firmino's selflessness is an asset to Liverpool, Heskey believes Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford would benefit from being more single-minded.

Rashford's penalty gave United a 1-0 win over Leicester City on Saturday and took his tally to three goals in five league games this term, but Heskey thinks the England forward's versatility is perhaps holding him back from becoming a more ruthless finisher.

"I would like to think Marcus Rashford's best position is centre-forward," Heskey said. "But as you say, he can play all along the front line because he's got that ability. He's very direct, he's very quick, he's got a skill in him, and he doesn't mind providing.

"Now, if you're a centre-forward that wants to score goals, and goals only, you don't want to be pushed on the left or the right because you know you're not going to score from there. You want to be right in the middle where you can score goals. He's more of an unselfish player that you could actually play in different positions."

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