Frank Lampard insists he never pinned Chelsea's Champions League qualification hopes on Manchester City not being allowed to compete in UEFA competition.

City were handed a €30million fine and two-year ban from the Champions League and Europa League by UEFA in February due to alleged "serious breaches" of club licencing and financial fair play (FFP) regulations.

But the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled in City's favour on Monday following the club's appeal, meaning the 2018-19 Premier League champions will be able to compete in UEFA competition next season, while their fine was reduced to €10m.

The CAS decision will also have serious ramifications in the Premier League, as fifth-place will no longer be good enough for Champions League qualification, as it had looked set to be with City – who sit second in the table – out of the picture.

Six points separate five teams in the race for the second two spots in the top four, and although a Manchester United win over Southampton on Monday will elevate them to third and above Chelsea, Lampard remains relaxed about the situation.

"I was pretty neutral on it [the City verdict] really," Lampard told reporters ahead of Tuesday's visit of already-relegated Norwich City. "I didn't know much about the case, I just looked at the result of it this morning.

"I don't see beyond the games in hand, we want to win them. I was never pinning my hopes on it, we just looked at ourselves.

"My only concern are the games ahead. We are at a critical stage of the season. We know what is in front of us. We have to try to finish the job.

"We are sitting third, it is in our hands. This morning has just made it clear now and we have to fight for it."

Lampard will hope the visit of struggling Norwich provides some relief and respite for Chelsea, who have been erratic this month.

After enjoying a three-match winning streak after the season's resumption in June, Chelsea have since lost two of their past four, including a dire 3-0 defeat at fellow European hopefuls Sheffield United last time out.

While Lampard says he has tried to not dwell on that loss, he did acknowledge changes are likely.

"Possibly, [but] I don't want to give my starting XI away," he said. "While I have to consider the freshness of the team, we are trying to get the balance of the side as well.

"Sheffield United have taken big teams all the way this year. I won't dwell on the game, it can happen to any team. It's something we don't like, but we are striving to be better and it is important for that.

"I don't have a set way of dealing with it, just how I see fit. I like to watch games back. The players could feel they weren't at their best, we are moving on and we have a positive feeling in the camp.

"If you don't turn up and perform, it doesn't matter about momentum, but having good home form gives us confidence. Norwich - we have to treat them with utmost respect. They can feel unfortunate with some of their results."

Leicester City's shock 4-1 defeat at Bournemouth on Sunday at least ensured Chelsea will remain in the top four regardless of United's result against Saints.

Similarly, on paper the Foxes have the trickiest run-in of the three teams as well, as they have to face the Blades, Tottenham and then Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men on the final day of the season.

Sheffield United will work with authorities to ensure the person behind racist abuse aimed at striker David McGoldrick is "brought to justice".

McGoldrick shared an image on Instagram highlighting a sickening message he received after scoring twice in his side's 3-0 win over Chelsea on Saturday.

He added the caption "2020 and this is life" with a speechless expression.

"As a club we will support David McGoldrick and will do all we can to find the perpetrator of this disgusting message," the Blades said in a statement.

"We will work with the relevant authorities to ensure the person behind this post is brought to justice. This cannot continue. Something needs to change."

The abuse shared by McGoldrick came in addition to West Midlands Police arresting a 12-year-old boy after Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha received racist messages ahead of Sunday's match against Aston Villa. 

Zaha thanked authorities for the prompt action, as he insisted action and education was needed to tackle racism, not just condemnation.

"I would like to thank West Midlands police for their swift action in making an arrest, " he said on Monday in a social media post.

"People need to understand that whatever your age, that your behaviour and your words come with consequences and you cannot hide behind social media.

"It is important social media platforms do as they did [on Sunday] and seek out these individuals and remove them.

"This is not the first time I have received messages like this, nor am I the only player to receive messages like this - it happens every day.

"I want to thank everyone for the love and support but enough is enough. It is not enough to be disgusted by these messages I received and move on. It isn't enough to just say #notoracism. 

"We need action, we need education, things need to change."

'Next Generation' is a series focusing on the young players tipped to establish themselves as the elite in the 2020s.


There had already been murmurings of a potential superstar coming through Manchester United's academy, but in December 2018, the noise around Mason Greenwood became that bit louder.

Chelsea had been unbeaten in the FA Youth Cup since 2013 before Greenwood was unleashed on them, the then-17-year-old netting a hat-trick in a 4-3 win.

That treble showcased much of what is deemed special about Greenwood. For his first, he chased down the goalkeeper, forced an error and then showed composure to fire past him and a defender on the line.

He doubled his tally from just inside the area, racing on to a throughball and coolly placing a right-footed effort into the bottom-right corner after creating space with a stepover.

His hat-trick was completed with another fine effort. After beating a defender to an underhit pass, he ran at the centre-back, darted to his left and picking out the far corner with his left foot.

Work-rate, close control, exceptional finishing and remarkable ability on either foot – it was all evidence of a complete centre-forward in-the-making.

Fittingly, Greenwood's dazzling display came the day after Jose Mourinho's final match in charge of the first-team – the teenager's promise a hopeful ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy period for the club.

Matic in awe of teenager

Fast-forward 19 months, Greenwood has played 42 times for United in 2019-20, while his recent form has led to suggestions he will surely be in England's squad for the delayed European Championships next year.

Not only has Greenwood made a strong impression on fans and pundits, but his team-mates are also well aware of his prodigious talents. Nemanja Matic has seen a particularly significant development in him this year alone.

Matic told Stats Perform News: "There are not many players his age of that level – he has this natural instinct for goals.

"There is a big difference from now from to six months ago. He is young and he is changing, and his approach to training and to everything is different. He's a great person, great for the changing room.

"He is quiet, I have to say, but the boy is always very positive and we are happy to have him in the team."

Mourinho's ousting and the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who had previously coached young players at the club, was seen as a potentially critical moment for the next generation coming through at Old Trafford.

While it's impossible to know how Greenwood's career would have progressed with Mourinho, it is fair to suggest he wouldn't have given him his first-team debut in a Champions League knockout clash away to Paris Saint-Germain with United chasing a goal to secure an historic turnaround.

Greenwood then made his first start on the final day of the 2018-19 season. Although United suffered a dire 2-0 home defeat to relegated Cardiff City, the teenager was comfortably the best player on the pitch.

From that point, it almost seemed a certainty Greenwood was to become a regular squad member this term, and he's finally cemented a place on the right side of the attack since football's resumption.

The new Van Persie? Or Robben?

Greenwood's build, running style and technique have drawn understandable comparisons with former United star Robin van Persie, though he reminds Matic more of another Dutchman.

"I don't want to put too much pressure on the lad, but if I had to say someone [Greenwood reminds me of], it would be [Arjen] Robben," Matic said.

However, some might argue Greenwood is poised to become even more of a nuisance to defenders given his unpredictable skillset – after all, much has been said about Greenwood's ambipedal abilities, and in the United youth teams he was known to take free-kicks and penalties with either foot.

While being "two-footed" is by no means a rare concept, Greenwood does appear to be a special case. His recent goals against Bournemouth and Aston Villa are proof of that, with the England Under-21 international hitting two ferocious efforts into the net with his supposedly weaker right foot.

Such unpredictability can only help Greenwood, while Matic also feels having someone like Marcus Rashford in the team will give the teenager a good example to follow.

"I think that when he has seen players who came through the academy, he has seen Marcus as a role model and he has tried to follow those steps, it was easier too for him to see that someone can achieve big things coming from the academy, so I am happy for him," he added.

Best and Rooney in touching distance

"It is important to have players from the academy," continued Matic, a firm believer of giving opportunities to youngsters. "They are making big players, good people, it's important they are good people for the changing room."

But the Serbian stressed the need for those players to be ready for the opportunities, adding: "The expectation from our fans is high and they have to be ready to play at the highest level."

It's fair to say no one is doubting Greenwood's credentials anymore, and the data highlights his impressive early impact.

With 16 goals, he is United's third-highest scorer this term behind Rashford and Anthony Martial, both of whom have 20, but Greenwood nets with a more impressive frequency at one every 129 minutes (Rashford – 142 mins, Martial – 147).

His conversion rate of 22 percent is identical to Martial's and an improvement on Rashford's 17 per cent, but it's in the expected goals (xG) metric where Greenwood's finishing abilities are best highlighted.

From the chances that have fallen to him, Greenwood would ordinarily be expected to have scored eight times this season, but his actual goals haul is double that.

By comparison, Martial's xG is five under his actual total at 15 and Rashford's is 23, three higher than the 20 he has scored.

Add to that, he is just two goals shy of setting a new record for goals scored by a teenager for United in a single season (George Best, Brian Kidd and Wayne Rooney all got 17).

"The players that have come through, Marcus and Mason, they have come with a lot of qualities and are ready at the highest level and [this] shows the academy can work well."

Matic's assessment appears to be on the money – as does Greenwood.

The brother of Tottenham defender Serge Aurier has died, the Premier League club have confirmed.

Spurs issued a statement on social media to confirm Christopher Aurier had been killed in the early hours of Monday morning.

Reports in France had detailed how he had been shot after attending a nightclub in Toulouse.

Christopher Aurier was 26 and had previously been on the books of Lens, while also playing for other clubs in the French lower leagues.

A Tottenham statement read: "The club is deeply saddened to confirm media reports that Serge Aurier’s brother passed away in the early hours of this morning.

"Everybody at the club sends their sincerest condolences to Serge and his family. Our thoughts are with them all."

Serge Aurier, 27, played the full 90 minutes of Tottenham's derby win over rivals Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday and is captain of the Ivory Coast national team.

His younger brother was also a citizen of the west African country.

Paul Pogba feels like Manchester United are "a proper team" again and does not think the club can be stopped if they continue on their current path.

United, who are unbeaten in 17 matches across all competitions, have the chance to go third in the Premier League when they host Southampton on Monday.

Potential silverware in the FA Cup and Europa League is also up for grabs before the end of the season, with Pogba relishing their improvement under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

While United are not yet where they want to be, the France international is sure they will get there.

"It is about the team – you can call it a proper team," Pogba, who scored his first goal in over a year against Aston Villa last time out, said to United Review.

"Sometimes before, we were maybe too defensive or too offensive and we didn't have this balance or this control; now you can see we have that balance.

"There is more structure and we have been working hard on that. The improvement is huge, and you can tell that.

"It is always good to have that improvement, but you don't want to stop it, you know you have to keep working.

"There is a lot of stuff to do, we are not there yet but we are on the way, and if we keep doing what we are doing now, then I think there is nothing that can stop us to get to where we should be."

Weekend defeats for Chelsea and Leicester City boosted United's chances of Champions League qualification, but Pogba is laser-focused on their own results.

"We have to think about us, to be honest," he said of the top-four battle. "If we win all our games, I don't think we have something to worry about.

"You have to win. We don't think about other teams or other results, we have to focus on ourselves."

Despite the tight battle for places in the league, the opportunity for silverware is a key focus for Pogba.

He added: "United is about trophies, we know that, and there are trophies we know we can get, and we can win.

"We don't want to let this opportunity go away. We are going to do our best to go and get those two trophies by giving everything.

"Every game is a final and we have to get the result that we need. That is the mindset. It is never enough for us, we have to carry on, keep fighting and keep pushing yourself to get better and better."

Jurgen Klopp plans to see out the remaining four years of his contract with Liverpool before returning to his native Germany.

Klopp penned a contract extension running until 2024 at Anfield in December before guiding the Reds to a dominant first Premier League title triumph.

In an interview with SWR Sport, the 53-year-old said he intends to return to Mainz – where he launched his decorated coaching career – at the end of his time in elite football.

"Definitely to live, after my career. Most likely even to Mainz," he said when asked about returning to Germany.

When pressed on where that fitted in to his plans on Merseyside, he replied: "Four years in Liverpool [and then] do nothing for a year.

"But in five years, the world can look very different."

Liverpool are back in action against Arsenal away on Wednesday looking to return to winning ways after a 1-1 home draw with Burnley.

"It will be different, but we will have a bit more space [preparation time], which is good," he told the club's official website.

"We have one more day. The last seven days now were really incredible, three games in pretty much a week is unbelievable in that moment.

"But it is how it is and now we have one day more and then hopefully we can completely recover.

"We will and then we go again against Arsenal, which will be an interesting one."

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard does not believe the signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech should be unsettling his squad amid their battle for a top-four finish in the Premier League.

The Blues were beaten 3-0 by Sheffield United last Saturday, a result that could have damaging consequences in terms of their bid to qualify for the Champions League.

Leicester City's surprise 4-1 defeat to struggling Bournemouth on Sunday means Chelsea remain third in the table with three matches to play, although they will drop to fourth if Manchester United beat Southampton on Monday.

The humbling loss at Bramall Lane came on the same day that Ziyech, who is joining from Ajax for an initial fee of £33.4million (€40m), was pictured training at Chelsea's Cobham base for the first time.

"If you want to be a Chelsea player and be in the Chelsea team and squad and fight for the Premier League, to fight in Europe and to fight for trophies you have to focus on yourself," Lampard said ahead of Tuesday's game against relegated Norwich City.

"At the moment, going into this season we were 30-odd points off the top two last season. If you want that gap to close, you have to focus on yourself. If players come in, that should be the nature of the beast playing for Chelsea. It shouldn't be a problem for anyone.

"I feel a huge inquest is not needed [after the loss] because of where we are at. The games are coming thick and fast; we're nearly at the end of the season. I will analyse the game myself certainly but for the players, the biggest thing is that they have to be positive and look to the next one.

"I know the feeling as a player. It was a horrible game for the players and none of the players played well. When you do that at a place like Sheffield United when they are playing well, it is a very difficult place to get anything out of it. I won't dwell on it this time and I will concentrate on the games ahead and the players will, too."

Lampard admits there are defensive problems he must address following the loss to Chris Wilder's side, with Chelsea having conceded more league goals (49) than any other team in the top 10.

"It was certainly one of our worst days of the season in terms of performance and you get what you deserve on that front," Lampard said.

"I would love to have consistency in the back four, or back two or three or whatever you want to call it. That is what you strive for. Unfortunately, this season we have made mistakes and individual errors where you end up striving for it.

"That is the position we are in. The only way out of it is hard work with the individuals involved to get through this season as we’re still in a good position considering the expectations at the start of the season, then we'll look forward.

"Amongst other things, you don't want to concede that amount of goals. There are many reasons for those goals when we look through the season. Sometimes I bemoan the fact we don't score enough - that gives you the feeling of comfort in games and nervousness can create problems that lead to goals.

"We know we have made too many errors in terms of giving goals away and it is something that we have to address."

What does the future hold for PSG stars Kylian Mbappe and Neymar?

Real Madrid have made no secret of their admiration for Mbappe, while Barcelona have tried to re-sign Neymar.

As PSG prepare for the 2020-21 campaign, the Ligue 1 holders have made some transfer decisions.

 

TOP STORY – PSG KEEPING MBAPPE, MAKE NEYMAR DECISION

Paris Saint-Germain will not sell Kylian Mbappe ahead of the 2020-21 season but Neymar's future remains uncertain, according to L'Equipe.

Mbappe has been tipped to make the move to Real Madrid in the future, however, Ligue 1 champions PSG have no intention of parting with the France international before next season.

But Neymar – continually linked with a return to Barcelona after leaving in a world-record transfer in 2017 – could leave as PSG look to avoid losing the Brazilian star on a free transfer in 2022.

 

ROUND-UP

Chelsea are preparing their first offer for Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz. Journalist Nicolo Schira reports Chelsea will make a £62million (€70m) bid plus add-ons for Havertz amid interest from Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Barca. To fund the transfer, Chelsea will look to sell Inter target Emerson Palmieri, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Jorginho, who would like to reunite with Maurizio Sarri at Juventus.

Luke Shaw could be sacrificed as United look to sign Leicester City's Ben Chilwell, claims the Mirror. United have reportedly leapfrogged Premier League rivals Chelsea and Manchester City in the race for full-back Chilwell.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter are interested in Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante, who has also been linked to Madrid.

Willian has turned down a move to David Beckham's Inter Miami, reports the Telegraph. Willian's Chelsea contract expires at the end of the season and he has been linked to Liverpool, United, Arsenal and Tottenham.

- Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren is wanted by Russian champions Zenit, according to the Evening Standard.

- Calciomercato says Juventus are not the only club eyeing Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo. Jose Mourinho reportedly wants the Italy international at Tottenham, while Madrid and United are also believed to be interested.

- The Express claims Chelsea are stepping up their pursuit of United goalkeeper and Sheffield United loanee Dean Henderson. Chelsea are ready to ask Manchester United for a price as Kepa Arrizabalaga struggles in London.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will announce a decision on Manchester City's appeal against their Champions League ban on Monday. 

The Switzerland-based body will confirm the verdict at 10:30 local time (08:30 GMT). 

City's hearing at CAS began on June 8 and concluded two days later, with proceedings conducted by video call. 

The Premier League club are seeking to overturn UEFA's decision to ban them from European competition for the next two seasons, along with a fine of €30million (£27.2m), after finding them guilty of "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations. 

City have persistently denied wrongdoing in relation to the matter, which stemmed from a series of articles published by Der Spiegel in November 2018, drawing on information purportedly obtained by the whistleblower Football Leaks. 

"The club has always anticipated the ultimate need to seek out an independent body and process to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence in support of its position," read a statement at the time from City, who UEFA said had "failed to cooperate" with the investigation. 

City have already secured a top-four finish in the Premier League this season, which will mean a place in the 2020-21 Champions League if the verdict is overturned. 

Manager Pep Guardiola has repeatedly stated his belief that his club will be cleared, doing so again after Saturday's 5-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion. 

"I'm confident in the club, I know their arguments and the defence they had," he said. "We have to wait for Monday. I know there are many teams in the Premier League waiting too. 

"I'm confident because we know exactly what the club has done and that will allow us to play in the Champions League next season and to be recognised by everyone that nothing wrong happened." 

In an interview with HLN, star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne suggested he might be happy to stay at City in the event of a reduction to a one-year ban, although a two-year Champions League absence would force him to consider his options. 

"I'm just waiting," he said. "The club told us they are going to appeal, and they are almost 100 per cent sure they are right. That's why I'm waiting to see what will happen. I trust my team. 

"Once the decision is made, I will review everything. Two years would be long, but in the case of one year I might see." 

Jose Mourinho wants to lead Tottenham into the Europa League, but compared playing in the competition to Lewis Hamilton winning Formula Two.

Spurs recorded a 2-1 Premier League win over Arsenal in the north London derby on Sunday, climbing into eighth in the table and boosting their chances of qualifying for European competition.

Mourinho is eager to qualify for the Europa League, even though the Spurs head coach compared it to Formula One world champion Hamilton racing at a lower level.

"The Europa League is not the biggest competition in Europe," he told a news conference.

"But it's the second and when a club wins the Champions League or when a player wins it or a manager does, well, if you ask Lewis Hamilton if he wants to win Formula Two or 3000 or whatever you call it, I don't think it will be a great deal for him.

"But it's a competition and I prefer to play Europa League than not to. I think it's a title Tottenham would like to get. Of course at [Manchester] United, it's a club with a dimension that thinks about the Champions League, but we played in the Europa League and we won it.

"I think we should do everything to play in the Europa League next season and we should fight for that."

Mourinho led United to the Europa League title in 2017, 14 years after winning the UEFA Cup with Porto.

With a decision over Manchester City's European ban set to be made on Monday, Spurs sit three points behind sixth-placed Wolves and two adrift of Sheffield United with three games remaining.

Mourinho believes he could have led Tottenham to a top-four finish if he had been in charge for the entire season, having replaced Mauricio Pochettino in November last year.

"I know that I could even look to the situation in a selfish point of view and say since I arrived if the championship arrived in that moment there, even with all of the problems after that, I think we would be fourth or fifth," he said. 

"I don't want to be selfish and only look at it as a fan, hypothetically, not yet, finishing above Arsenal. I would love to play in the Europa League. It's not a competition that I'm in love with or like very, very much to play, but when you cannot play Champions League, you play Europa League. 

"Because in my career I only played Europa League twice and I won it twice, it wouldn't be bad to play a third time and win a third time. We have to fight until the end to try to try to finish in a Europa League position."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said he was proud of Raheem Sterling for the way the forward has fought against racial injustice.

Sterling has enjoyed another fine season on the pitch, but the England international is also helping the fight against racism amid movements around the world.

The forward scored a hat-trick in City's 5-0 Premier League thrashing of Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, moving onto 27 goals this season – the most he has netted in a single campaign.

While Guardiola has praised Sterling's performances, he also lauded the 25-year-old for his work off the field.

"People forget that behind the shirt they are human beings," he told reporters.

"I've said many times to my players, 'I know for a long time you've been told you're special, but you're not. All you can do is play football, but you are not an architect, you are not a politician, you are not a doctor, you are not a thousand, million things you can do. You can just play football'. That doesn't make us special.

"But we are human beings at the same time like all the architects, politicians, doctors, journalists. They have feelings and they defend the humanitarian issues in the best possible way.

"I like it because when you have a commitment to society to make a better society for yourself and for your kids, this commitment helps to become a better player. The big athletes always make a commitment, a compromise for society.

"I think Raheem and many, many of our players, a lot of people are trying to make a better world.

"It's difficult, in the world we're living, but I'm proud. I'm really proud of what he is doing and he knows, as a club, myself as a person, we support him 100 per cent."

After back-to-back 5-0 wins, City host Bournemouth in the Premier League on Wednesday.

Brendan Rodgers slammed Leicester City after a 4-1 loss to Bournemouth, labelling his side's performance as "not acceptable".

Chasing a top-four finish in the Premier League, Leicester led through Jamie Vardy before falling apart on Sunday.

Junior Stanislas scored a penalty, Dominic Solanke a brace and Jonny Evans an own goal as Caglar Soyuncu was sent off, and Leicester will fall to fifth in the table if Manchester United beat Southampton on Monday.

Rodgers was furious with his side, who have won just one of seven games in all competitions since the season resumed last month.

"It's not a happy changing room and it shouldn't be, because that is not acceptable, to deliver that level, especially when you work so well," the Leicester City manager told LCFC TV.

"Like I say, it was the attitude. We didn't show the right spirit and that's something that we've showed consistently. But, yes, that was bitterly disappointing.

"[The Sheffield United game on Thursday] will be a great challenge for us because we need to show a greater level of physicality and mentality. That'll be a really good test.

"We had a great result at Bramall Lane earlier in the season and now this is a game where we've really got to show our mettle and look to get working again."

After hosting Sheffield United, Leicester have games against Tottenham and Manchester United to finish the season.

Rodgers apologised to the club's fans for his side's performance, lamenting the second-half showing.

"Listen, first of all, I apologise to the supporters. I don't think I've ever had to do that in my time here," he said.

"We've always been a tough team, mentally and physically, and tried to then play football, but to collapse like we did in the second half was bitterly disappointing."

Jurgen Klopp told his Liverpool youngsters they could have "beautiful" futures if they continue improving.

The likes of Curtis Jones, 19, and Neco Williams, 19, have been given chances in recent matches for the champions, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Burnley on Saturday, while 17-year-old Harvey Elliott has made two Premier League appearances this season.

Liverpool need three wins from their final three games to break Manchester City's record of 100 points in a single Premier League season.

Klopp, whose team are away to Arsenal on Wednesday, said the club's youngsters had plenty of time to grow.

"I'm not sure it's about how high the stakes are, it's about how ready are the boys?" the Liverpool manager told UK media, via the Mirror.

"There are no old and young players, there are only good and not so good players and I hope we have only good players, exceptional players.

"The problem, not just for young players, but all players not now in the first line-up – this team is really good. It is difficult to play 40 games in a row.

"But young players have so much time on their hands that they really can improve and don't have the pressure, especially not from us. If they use the time, then the future is beautiful for them."

After visiting Arsenal, Liverpool will host Chelsea before a trip to Newcastle United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer never considered dropping David de Gea as the Manchester United manager backed the long-serving goalkeeper for another decade at the highest level in his quest for "big trophies" at Old Trafford.

De Gea surpassed Peter Schmeichel to become the overseas player with the most United appearances after playing his 399th match in Thursday's 3-0 Premier League win at relegation-threatened Aston Villa.

Despite the landmark moment, De Gea's future has been debated due to a number of mistakes and the form of Sheffield United loanee Dean Henderson this season.

But United manager Solskjaer was full of praise for De Gea, who has won the Premier League, Europa League, FA Cup and EFL Cup among other honours since arriving from Atletico Madrid in 2011.

"It did not cross my mind for one second," said Solskjaer when asked if he had considered dropping De Gea ahead of Monday's showdown with Southampton. "Not at all. To be a Man Utd goalkeeper you have to have a strong mentality. David has a strong mentality and he has been here for so long that he is coming up to 400 games, and you don't do that by being afraid of the limelight or being afraid of Old Trafford.

"You do that by walking out on to that pitch and showing them your quality and mentality and he is a strong character and I didn't see any good in taking him out at all, no."

Solskjaer, whose United have not won the Premier League since Alex Ferguson's final season in 2012-13, added: "David has been fantastic and since I have been here I have enjoyed working with him.

"He has come out and said that he wants to play many, many more, maybe 10 more years, how long will he be able to stay at the top is just up to him because it's a pleasure to watch him being humble enough to work hard."

"He's won the Premier League, he's won the FA Cup, the Europa League, the League Cup, but that is probably not enough for him," continued Solskjaer. "I don't think he will be happy until he wins the bigger trophies, and staying at Man United in this time and they are not having one more, I think that's something that he will feel is a black dot in his career.

"Yeah, he's won his personal awards, I don't think David is that type who cares about personal awards, I think he wants the team to lift big trophies as well."

United are in the midst of a 17-match unbeaten streak across all competitions as they look to capitalise on a favourable weekend of results in the Premier League in the race for Champions League qualification.

Chelsea and Leicester City both lost, meaning in-form United can move third in the table with three games remaining if they beat Southampton at Old Trafford.

Pep Guardiola is feeling "confident" as Manchester City prepare to learn their fate when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rules on the club's appeal against a two-year UEFA competition ban. 

European football's governing body announced the sanction in February, along with a €30million (£26.8m) fine, after finding City had committed "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play regulations.

City swiftly announced their intention to appeal to CAS and their case was heard in June via video conference.

Pep Guardiola's team have already secured a top-four place in the Premier League this season, while they could add the FA Cup and the Champions League to the already retained EFL Cup.

Monday's verdict is likely to have far-reaching ramifications for the club's short and medium-term future, but Guardiola is optimistic over the outcome.

When asked if he would be able to sleep ahead of the ruling, Guardiola told reporters: "I'm going to sleep because I can't do anything [about the verdict]. I would love to do something but I can't.

"I'm confident in the club, I know the defence and their argument. We have to wait, I know there are many clubs in the Premier League waiting too, but we are going to wait.

"It was issued a long time ago, maybe 90 per cent of the people on the pitch and backroom staff were not there [at the club], but we will see and respect the decisions.

"I feel fully confident in what the club has done and allowed us to play in the Champions League next season." 

Those Premier League clubs chasing European places will take a great interest in the announcement too, as an extra spot will open up if the ban is either upheld or reduced to cover just the 2020-21 season.  

But Guardiola had nothing to say to those teams, instead focusing again on City and his belief they will be proven to have committed no offences.  

"We wait until Monday and after Monday, what UEFA says, the club will make a statement, and in my press conference I will give my answers, but now I cannot say anything else," he said.  

"We have been second [in the Premier League] again, for six or seven years in a row we are in the Champions League, it's a joy to watch our team, I love my guys, and we are ready for the rest of this season to do our best and I'm confident.  

"I don't know anything about this [the decision of CAS], just a feeling, I'm confident because I know what the club has done and will allow us to play the Champions League next season, and not just the Champions League, but to be recognised by everyone that nothing wrong happened."  

Similarly, Guardiola seemed unconcerned about what it would mean for him personally if City's appeal proved unsuccessful.  

"We wait until Monday, I think [City] will clarify everything in the next month in terms of the short-term future of the club and that's all," he added. "I have the feeling the club support me and that's the most important thing.  

"I have friends being above me in the hierarchy in higher positions than me, and we are incredibly honest. If we can do it, we can do it, if we can't, we can't.  

"I know they try to do the best for the club and that's why we can maintain the standards we achieved in the past, being in the Champions League again, and that's a great news for us." 

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