Stiliyan Petrov is unsurprised by Aston Villa's struggles in the Premier League this season, believing questionable recruitment is a main factor.

Villa sit 18th in the table ahead of Manchester United's visit on Thursday, with Dean Smith's side four points off safety.

However, ex-Villa captain Petrov is in no way surprised by the club's perilous position, and the former midfielder cited the recruitment of inexperienced players as a major issue for Villa.

"I'm not surprised. I remember at the start of the season saying it was a big task for them," Petrov told Stats Perform News.

"Recruitment and prep, they were way behind everybody else. It was expected. It doesn't look promising.

"[These are] challenging times for the club and for fans, like me. I hope the boys can pick it up enough to stay up, but with Watford winning [on Tuesday] our task is more difficult.

"Villa signed a lot of promising players, but inexperienced players. It took me two years to adapt to the league from Celtic, so you can see where the trouble is.

"The problem is scoring goals. You can let them in but if you don't create opportunities then it's very difficult.

"I don't know what plan they have, but I hope we can stay up. Getting back up will be difficult."

Petrov also acknowledged it will be a challenge for Villa to keep hold of their key performers should they fail to beat the drop, using England international Tyrone Mings as an example.

"He's been a very good addition to the club," Petrov said of the defender, who joined from Bournemouth in 2019 following a successful loan spell at Villa Park.

"He's shown he's improving. He wants to be a leader; he likes to be a leader.

"It will be difficult to keep hold of him if we go down, he is an asset and some people will look to buy. I know we've lost a lot of games, but his individual performances and development have been well ahead of everyone else."

Paul Pogba is relishing playing alongside Bruno Fernandes and Manchester United's in-form attackers, with their "beautiful" link-up play a joy to behold for the Frenchman.

United have extended their unbeaten run to 16 matches across all competitions since returning from the coronavirus-enforced break last month and their forwards have played a significant role in that.

Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood have scored eight goals between them already, while Fernandes has added another four and also grabbed a pair of assists.

Pogba, too, has impressed since the resumption, coming back into the side after missing the majority of the first part of the campaign through injury, and now there is talk of a possible contract extension for the Real Madrid-linked midfielder.

While his long-term future remains a little uncertain for the time being, there is no doubt Pogba is enjoying life at United, with his slightly deeper role giving him the opportunity to look on and savour the attacking talents at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's disposal.

"From behind I just enjoy it. I'm enjoying just watching Bruno, Rashford, Martial and Mason, who all played the last game, and seeing them score goals," he told United's official website ahead of Thursday's trip to Aston Villa.

"You just keep applauding, it's beautiful. They make me enjoy football every time!

"As well though, there is the defensive work that people don't talk about – they do it. The pressing - they do it. That's what you maybe don't see that much.

"Football fans who know football see that and that's the difference that we have and it's great to see them at their best.

"I think it's about the mentality – the attacking and defending that they do every time – that helps us, it helps the midfielders and the defenders and obviously the talent speaks for itself - the goals and the action and the football, everything."

Pogba believes Fernandes and United's frontline all have the desire to keep pushing themselves for more – a trait which makes them even more dangerous.

"For example, Martial scored three goals, his first hat-trick, then he goes again, you have to carry on. He wants to take another ball home, you know," Pogba continued.

"You have to have this mentality, score a goal and do it again and again… Bruno, Rashy [Rashford], Mason. If you've got two goals, great, but go for three, why not? You have to keep this mentality, keep a clean sheet too. We want to keep working on this and we have the mentality to do it.

"That's also the mentality of this club, it's always been like that. We're never satisfied with one trophy or one game we win or two games or 10 games, you want more, you always want more. That's what makes Manchester United the biggest club, for me, in England."

Victory for United on Thursday will take them to within a point of fourth-placed Leicester City, who Solskjaer's men will face on the final day of the Premier League season.

Kai Havertz is reportedly ready to leave Bayer Leverkusen – and he knows where he wants to go.

The Germany international enjoyed another fine campaign with the Bundesliga club, leading to interest from across Europe.

And, it seems Havertz knows his preferred destination.

 

TOP STORY – HAVERTZ WANTS CHELSEA MOVE

Havertz wants a move to Chelsea and his agents have told Bayer Leverkusen he would like to leave if an important bid arrives in the next few weeks, according to Fabrizio Romano.

The 21-year-old is contracted at Leverkusen until 2022, but has been linked with the likes of Real Madrid.

Havertz scored 17 goals for Leverkusen in 2019-20, having netted 20 times in the previous season.

ROUND-UP

- Amid growing pressure on Antoine Griezmann, Barcelona have reassured the forward he has a future at the LaLiga club, according to ESPN.

- Real Madrid will listen to offers for forward Luka Jovic, according to Marca. The Serbia international has struggled during his first season at the LaLiga giants, scoring just twice in 25 games. Jovic has been linked to the likes of Milan, Arsenal and Newcastle United.

- Staying at Real Madrid and Sport reports the LaLiga leaders will target Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe and Rennes midfielder Eduardo Camavinga next year.

- Paul Pogba may be happy to stay at Manchester United. Fabrizio Romano reports United have opened contract talks with the midfielder's agent Mino Raiola, with Pogba having been linked to Madrid and Juventus.

- Alexandre Lacazette could be set for an Arsenal exit. CalcioMercato reports Juventus have already started talking to the forward's agents about a possible move.

- Also in Turin, CalcioMercato says Juventus are considering a move for Atalanta left-back Robin Gosens if Alex Sandro decides to leave.

Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said the Bundesliga side are targeting attacking players in the case Manchester United target Jadon Sancho leaves.

Sancho has been heavily tipped to join Premier League giants United, while the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid have also emerged as possible destinations.

Dortmund reportedly want around €120million (£108m) for the England international star, who arrived from Manchester City in 2017.

Asked about Sancho and a potential departure, Zorc told Kicker: "If Jadon left, we would do something again in the offensive area.

"There are certainly one or two players we are targeting."

Sancho scored 17 goals and supplied 16 assists as Dortmund finished second behind Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich this season.

The 20-year-old attacker scored 20 goals across all competitions in 2019-20.

Dortmund, meanwhile, are reportedly on the verge of signing Birmingham City sensation Jude Bellingham ahead of United.

"When you don't have a billionaire or a state backing you up, then you need to be careful how you will invest your money," Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke is quoted as telling Kicker.

"We don't have an end date for corona, without that we simply have no planning security.

"Should we sell Sancho, then every player will cost €5-10m more. We have nothing to give away."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hopeful star midfielder Paul Pogba will sign a new contract at Old Trafford.

Pogba's future has dominated headlines throughout the season – the World Cup-winning Frenchman reportedly unhappy in Manchester and linked to former club Juventus and Real Madrid.

But Pogba, who has endured an injury-ravaged campaign, has been in fine form since returning from an ankle problem last month, striking up an exciting partnership with Bruno Fernandes in midfield.

Pogba is contracted to Premier League giants United until 2021, with the option for a further year, and Solskjaer is looking to negotiate fresh terms with the 27-year-old after Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay re-signed.

"I can't comment on discussions between player and the club but of course, we want to keep the best players around the club," Solskjaer said ahead of Thursday's trip to relegation-threatened Aston Villa.

"We want to build a squad for the future and Scott and Nemanja are a similar position but at different stages in their careers. One at the start, one really experienced one.

"We also need players in the mid-range group. Hopefully we can do something.

"I know that since Paul's come back he's looking better and better. He's enjoying his football and let's see where it takes us."

Pogba has supplied three assists in 11 Premier League appearances for United this season.

United are fifth in the Premier League and can close to within a point of Leicester City if they beat lowly Villa on the road.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer feels David de Gea has been the world's best goalkeeper for a decade.

De Gea is poised to overtake United great Peter Schmeichel as the overseas player with the most appearances for the club, having initially joined from Atletico Madrid in 2011.

A number of high-profile mistakes, including a calamitous error in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham, have led to questions over the Spain international's future as number one, especially with Dean Henderson thriving on loan at Sheffield United.

But after Schmeichel insisted De Gea is the right goalkeeper for United over the long-term, Solskjaer was in agreement.

"David has had some fantastic seasons here now and next year is his 10th," Solskjaer said ahead of United's away Premier League game against Aston Villa on Thursday.

"He has proven [former goalkeeping coach] Eric Steele right, that we believed in him. 

"He had a little bit of a tough ride early on, with the physicality of football in England, but, for me, he has been the best goalkeeper in the world over the last nine or 10 years.

"Just to work with him closely, you see he's still keen to learn, he's still working hard. 

"Richard [Hartis] coming in with Craig [Mawson] as the coaches, I think they've reignited a little bit of a spark in David and he's working really hard in training."

The back problem sustained by centre-back Victor Lindelof against Bournemouth was described as "not bad" and he may be able to play a part against Villa.

If not, Eric Bailly is likely to step in, with Solskjaer not feeling pressure to rotate his squad as he ponders whether to name an unchanged starting XI for the fourth straight top-flight game.

"There are not many that haven't played in the last two weeks," he said of his players not in that team. "They all know they are fit and available, that they are valued. It's not an issue. 

"There are so many things to play for. Trophies - the FA Cup, the Europa League - but also the top four in the league. The group is very tight knit and they all know they've got a part to play."

Manchester United have weaknesses that Aston Villa will look to exploit in Thursday's Premier League clash, according to Dean Smith.

The Villa boss feels Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's in-form side, who are chasing a top-four finish, showed some vulnerability even in dismantling Bournemouth 5-2 last time out.

That was United's third Premier League win in a row, a run during which they have scored 11 times, but Smith is feeling confident after seeing his team produce an encouraging display in Sunday's 2-0 loss to champions Liverpool.

Speaking about the challenge of taking on United at Villa Park, Smith identified Bruno Fernandes as a key threat, but cited deficiencies the hosts could target.

"They are a very good team, they have improved," said Smith. "Fernandes is playing very well, they have pace and power up front.

"But they have conceded a couple of goals against Bournemouth. You can see weaknesses in any team.

"We felt there were weaknesses to exploit against Liverpool. So that's our job as coaches to analyse weaknesses, try and exploit them and stifle their strengths as well.

"There is a lot of heart we can take from our performance against Liverpool. We will need that sort of performance again but be better in the final third."

In contrast to United's fine form, Villa have not won in nine top-flight outings, leaving them four points from safety with a game in hand over Watford in 17th.

However, Smith believes his side have shown improvements since action resumed following the coronavirus-enforced shutdown.

"Our form in terms of performance levels has been much better since the restart," he said.

"We haven't got the points tally we feel we deserve and probably lack a bit in the final third.

"There's certainly points we have left out there and we should be in a much healthier position.

"The only way we can put that right is on the training ground and in the last five games."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer dismissed the idea of signing Bournemouth's Nathan Ake after a video appearing to show the Manchester United manager suggesting he wanted to do a deal for the centre-back went viral.

United crushed Bournemouth 5-2 in the Premier League on Saturday, with Ake featuring for the visitors at Old Trafford.

At full-time, Solskjaer greeted Ake and briefly exchanged words, and a clip of that moment was shared on social media with subtitles suggesting the Norwegian told the Netherlands international he was hoping to buy a left-footed centre-back.

Unsurprisingly it led to considerable debate and interest on social channels, though Solskjaer has distanced himself from his alleged comments.

Speaking to reporters ahead of Thursday's Premier League trip to Aston Villa, Solskjaer said: "I've got seven centre-backs.

"I don't know where that's come from. We're fine."

Another player who has been strongly linked with a switch to Old Trafford this season is Jack Grealish, who will be hoping to impress at Villa Park on Thursday.

The attacking midfielder caught the eye and scored a spectacular goal when the two teams played out a 2-2 draw in December, though Solskjaer would not be lured into a trap by lavishing him with praise, adamant United cannot afford to just concentrate on the playmaker.

"I think in the last game they caused us some problems, both Grealish off left and [Anwar] El Ghazi on right," he said.  

"He [Grealish] scored a fantastic goal. There's been loads said about him and we need to be aware of him, if he's off the left, middle or right.

"He attracts players to him but there's not just one player in that Villa team, there are a lot of them."

United go to Villa Park 16 matches unbeaten across all competitions and, following Leicester City's 1-1 draw with Arsenal on Tuesday, know victory will leave them just a point off fourth.

Solskjaer still feels United need to win their remaining five matches to secure a top-four finish, however, with their final game a potentially vital showdown with Leicester at the King Power Stadium.

"I think so, yes, you never know what's going to happen but it looks like teams around are playing well," he added.

"There are so many games, if you win every single one, we're in the top four. We cannot rely on help from anyone else, have to do it ourselves and go into next season we can put other challenges into teams."

Real Madrid are planning to make a splash in the transfer market.

Reports claim three of Europe's finest – Kylian Mbappe, Kai Havertz and Eduardo Camavinga – are waiting to make the move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Could it happen?

 

TOP STORY – TRIO WAITING ON LOS BLANCOS

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz and Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga are holding off contract talks as they wait for Real Madrid, according to the frontpage of Wednesday's edition of Marca.

Mbappe is highly coveted by Zinedine Zidane and Madrid, Havertz has been linked to Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, while Camavinga is reportedly a Madrid target.

However, the trio may have to wait beyond this year to make the move to the Spanish capital, though Sport Bild claims Havertz has asked to leave Leverkusen before 2020-21.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport reports Barcelona still want to sign Inter star Lautaro Martinez, despite his release clause expiring.

Borussia Dortmund have issued an ultimatum to United. Sport Bild claims United have been told if they want to bid for Jadon Sancho, the deal must be done by August 10. Sancho has been heavily tipped to move to Old Trafford.

Arsenal want to sign Lyon's Moussa Dembele if they lose Alexandre Lacazette or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, reports Foot Mercato. Lacazette has been linked to Atletico Madrid and Inter, while Barca, PSG and other clubs are reportedly interested in Aubameyang.

Inter are not David Alaba's first choice should he leave Bayern, says Sport Bild. Alaba has been linked to Madrid, Barca, PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Sevilla are leading Juventus and Inter in the pursuit of Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin, says the Express.

- According to the Express, Tottenham are confident of signing Kurt Zouma from London rivals Chelsea at the end of the season.

- Could Inter be about to hijack Napoli's bid for Lille forward Victor Osimhen? The Nigeria international has been tipped to join Napoli in a €80million deal, however, Le10Sport says Inter are making a last-ditch attempt to sign Osimhen.

- Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri has handed in a transfer request as he looks to reunite with Antonio Conte at Inter, reports Gazzetta journalist Nicolo Schira.

Milan are trying to hijack Inter's move for Brescia star Sandro Tonali, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. Inter have been favourites to land Tonali but Ralf Rangnick – who is tipped to become Milan's head coach in 2020-21 – has reportedly made the Italy international his top target.

Peter Schmeichel has insisted David de Gea is the right goalkeeper for Manchester United and could play on for another decade.

De Gea's form has been a huge talking point, with the Spain international struggling to maintain the performances which saw him become one of the world's best goalkeepers.

The 29-year-old has made a number of high profile mistakes for United, most recently a calamitous error in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham, which drew robust criticism from Schmeichel's former team-mate Roy Keane.

However, United great Schmeichel, who De Gea will overtake as the overseas player with the most appearances for the club the next time he plays, has given the former Atletico Madrid man his full support.

"He’s been tremendous for us, there’s no doubt about that," Schmeichel told MUTV.

"He stuck it through in the most difficult period of modern-day Manchester United history. It's been up and down and, basically, he has been our best player.

"There's no doubt about that. Four out of five years being our Player of the Year. That just tells its own story about his performances for the club.

"David is our number one – he's still a young lad, by the way.

"He could play on for another 10 years. Let's back him. We should support what we have because we know what we have is really good."

Schmeichel also suggested the more attacking approach favoured by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is bound to leave De Gea more exposed.

"It's easy to just blame the goalkeeper, but I'm not going to," Schmeichel added.

"I'm trying to make a case that every goalkeeper needs to be protected and there's no doubt that the way the team is playing now, as opposed to when a team plays more defensively, the type of chances that you concede fit into David’s best skills.

"Those kind of saves we've seen came from chances created by being defensive.

"At the moment, we are attacking a lot and that leaves strikers man-to-man. It becomes like a counter-attack. These are the kind of goals we are conceding now.

"I think he needs a bit of time to adjust to the way we are playing. If you’re a goalkeeper that has been busy for three or four years, and now you're not busy, you have to change your game a little bit. You need to find new ways of keeping your concentration, of staying with the game."

Already rivals on the field, Manchester United and Manchester City might be set to clash off it.

Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly and Milan Skriniar of Inter are both reportedly wanted in Manchester.

An off-season battle may therefore be set to take place between the two foes.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED, CITY EYEING DEFENDERS

Manchester United and neighbours Manchester City are going head-to-head for centre-backs, according to the Independent.

United and City are both reportedly eyeing defensive reinforcements as they look to catch Premier League champions Liverpool next season.

Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly and Inter defender Milan Skriniar – also wanted by Real Madrid – have been strongly linked to the Manchester clubs.

 

ROUND-UP

Ralf Rangnick has agreed a deal to become the head coach of Milan in 2020-21, says The Guardian. Rangnick will replace Stefano Pioli, who was only appointed in October. The German is also set to hold talks about combining the coaching role with that of sporting director – a position held by Milan great Paolo Maldini.

- Qualifying for the Champions League will be the first step of any deal to bring Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho to United, reports the Evening Standard. Sancho has been linked to Liverpool, Chelsea and Madrid.

- According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Paris Saint-Germain are poised to make an €80million offer for Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. The Ligue 1 champions, however, are wary of competition from United, Madrid and Chelsea.

Kai Havertz is aware of interest from Chelsea but the Premier League side are yet to make an offer for the Bayer Leverkusen star, claims Bild's Christian Falk. Liverpool, United, Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona have also emerged as possible destinations.

Juventus, Inter and Atletico Madrid are eyeing Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette, according to L'Equipe.

- A cross-town move? Gianluca Di Marzio says Inter are continuing to pursue Milan midfielder Franck Kessie.

Nathan Ake to United? The Daily Mail claims Bournemouth could be forced to sell some of their stars as they battle to avoid relegation. The defender has previously been linked to City.

Juve are interested in Arkadiusz Milik but Napoli would prefer not to sell to their Serie A rivals, reports Calciomercato. Napoli are said to be prepared to move Milik abroad amid links to Atletico and Tottenham.

Nemanja Matic earning a three-year contract extension to the widespread approval of the Old Trafford faithful would have seemed a fanciful state of affairs a year ago.

Like most of a lumpen midfield assortment, Matic suffered during Jose Mourinho's tenure and seemed to represent a chunk of the deadwood Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would have to move on as part of his rebuilding process.

The 31-year-old has looked a player transformed this season, already putting in some quality work alongside a rapidly developing Scott McTominay and a much-improved Fred.

Bruno Fernandes' January arrival provided the club with a shot in the arm and Matic now finds himself as the classy enforcer in something approaching a fantasy midfield three alongside the Portugal star and a fit-again Paul Pogba.

A new contract was firmly on the cards for the former Chelsea man before "Project Restart" launched and Opta data shows how some fine performances during this short period of time have sealed the deal.

93.8 – Matic has completed almost 94 per cent of his passes in four appearances since the resumption, including an assist for Mason Greenwood during the 5-2 thrashing of Bournemouth. Compared to some of the other leading lights in his position in the Premier League, that places Matic alongside Liverpool's Fabinho (93.5 per cent), while he pulls up a little tidier than Chelsea's N'Golo Kante (90.2). Typically for a Manchester City holding midfielder, 96.1 per cent of Rodri's passes have found the target.

77.8 – Matic's percentage success in duels is up considerably from 56.6 per cent this season before lockdown. The fact he has contested 18, compared to 35 for Fabinho (60 per cent won), 30 for Kante (50 per cent won) and 31 for Rodri (45.2 per cent won) hints towards the dominant nature of United's performances at present.

37 – This season, Matic's displays have been shorn of the lethargy that afflicted him at times last term. He averages a tackle every 37 minutes, a slight increase in output from one every 40 before lockdown. That's comfortably more frequent than the famously all-action Kante (58 minutes per tackle) and Rodri (63.8 minutes per tackle)

108 – Over the course of 16 appearances this season, Matic has recovered possession 108 times. His minutes-per-recovery figures have remained consistent, 11.2 and 11.8 either side of the break. McTominay has knocked his number down from 11.8 to 9.6 minutes per interception since June, while Fred has made one every 7.2 minutes – the Brazilian's two English summertime outings amounting to 86 minutes in total.

Nemanja Matic has put pen to paper on a new contract with Manchester United that runs until 2023.

Serbia international Matic had one year remaining on his previous deal.

But the club announced on Monday he has been signed to fresh terms following some impressive displays under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The 31-year-old joined United from Chelsea in 2017 and has made 114 appearances.

"I am very happy that I will continue to be part of this great club," midfielder Matic said in a statement.

"As a player, I still have a lot more to give and achieve in my career and to do that with Manchester United will be a huge honour.

"This is a really exciting team to be part of, we have a good balance of youth and experience within the squad and there is great comradery amongst the group.

"This is a key part of the season and we are playing well. We will continue to fight to finish the season on a high and make our amazing supporters proud."

Solskjaer added: "I am delighted that Nemanja has signed a new contract, I know his experience, professionalism and leadership will be invaluable to this young talented group.

"We have great strength in midfield and Nemanja's attributes are a key part of that. Nemanja has been here for three seasons now and really understands the values of playing for Manchester United.

"He remains hugely ambitious and determined which will be vital as we look to achieve our aims over the coming years."

Matic has started each of United's past three Premier League games, helping them extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to 16 matches.

Solskjaer's side have moved up to fifth in the top flight, three points behind third-place Leicester City in the race for Champions League qualification.

Paris Saint-Germain have reportedly agreed to let Neymar return to Barcelona, while Borussia Dortmund have set their asking price for Jadon Sancho.

Neymar, 28, has regularly been linked with a return to Camp Nou, and that could be getting a step closer.

But can the LaLiga giants make it happen?

 

TOP STORY – PSG AGREE TO LET NEYMAR RETURN TO BARCELONA

Neymar has reached an agreement with PSG to return to Barcelona ahead of next season, according to AS.

However, the report says Barcelona must still find the means to make it happen.

Neymar starred across four seasons at the LaLiga club before joining PSG in a world-record €222million move in 2017.

ROUND-UP

- If Manchester United want Sancho, it seems they know what they need to pay. Ruhr Nachrichten reports Dortmund want £108.3m (€120m) for the star attacker and the deal must be completed before August 10.

- Amid links to Barcelona, Xavi signed a new contract with Al-Sadd until 2021. However, Mundo Deportivo says the club's former midfielder has a release clause in his new contract to be able to sign to take over at Camp Nou before his deal ends. Staying at Barcelona and the club have agreed to lower Ivan Rakitic's price, according to Sport, with the midfielder linked with a Sevilla return.

- Nemanja Matic has found form at Manchester United. According to Gianluca Di Marzio, the 31-year-old midfielder – whose contract was expiring next year – has signed a new deal with the Premier League club until 2023.

- While Hector Bellerin has a deal at Arsenal until 2023, his future is somewhat uncertain. The Daily Express reports Paris Saint-Germain are keeping tabs on the Spaniard.

- As they near promotion to the Premier League, Leeds United could be ready to strengthen. The Sun reports Leeds are prepared to sign Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard – who has been linked to Manchester United and Arsenal – if they return to the top flight.

- Valencia are searching for a new head coach after the sacking of Albert Celades. L'Equipe reports former PSG boss Laurent Blanc is on the LaLiga club's list of possible successors.

Manchester United teenage sensation Mason Greenwood is ready for an England call-up amid his fine form at Old Trafford, insisted manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Greenwood, 18, scored twice as red-hot United defeated relegation-threatened Bournemouth 5-2 in the Premier League on Saturday.

The highly rated forward – who has drawn comparisons to former United star Robin van Persie – has netted 15 goals across all competitions this season, including eight in the Premier League.

Solskjaer backed Greenwood to make the step up to Gareth Southgate's England squad.

"When you play for Man United, I think that's a test that's good enough and difficult enough," said Solskjaer, whose United are in the midst of a 16-game unbeaten streak.

"If you can handle playing for Man United then you can handle playing for any team and Mason's got the qualities that not many others have.

"So he could play for England full team or Under-21s, I don't really mind. I know he's doing well for us and it's great to have him here.

"Mason's a naturally good finisher, so he'll always score goals. He's a humble boy, he wants to learn, he listens and he works hard.

"Mason is one of the best if not the best finisher I have worked with and seen. He is so calm."

United, who have not lost since January, are fifth in the Premier League and two points behind Chelsea in the race for Champions League qualification with five games remaining.

The Red Devils are next in action away to lowly Aston Villa on Thursday.

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