Harry Maguire was thought to be set for a prolonged absence with a hip injury, but the Manchester United defender started as captain for the visit of Norwich City on Saturday.

Maguire suffered the blow during United's 0-0 FA Cup draw with Wolves last weekend and missed their 3-1 loss to Manchester City in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final on Tuesday.

Although reports suggested a possible lengthy lay-off for Maguire, United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer suggested on Friday that the England international could be involved against the Canaries.

And that proved to be the case as he returned to a back four that again featured Brandon Williams, once more picked ahead of Luke Shaw.

Juan Mata was handed just his sixth Premier League start of the season and his first since a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa on December 1. 

United went into the game sixth in the table, five points adrift of the top four.

Xavi seems set to return to Barcelona as head coach, replacing Ernesto Valverde.

Valverde is under pressure again at the helm of the LaLiga giants after Thursday's Supercopa de Espana semi-final loss to Atletico Madrid.

And, it seems Barca are wasting no time finding a replacement.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA OFFER XAVI DEAL TO REPLACE VALVERDE

Barcelona have offered Al Sadd boss Xavi a two-and-a-half-year deal to replace Valverde, according to AS.

Xavi's potential return to Camp Nou, where he won eight LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues in a glittering playing career, is dominating headlines in Spain.

The cover of Sport reads 'Earthquake Xavi', while Marca also reports that Barcelona have offered the job to the former midfielder.

ROUND-UP

- Bruno Fernandes. Manchester United. Here we go again. Record reports Sporting CP officials met with the Premier League club with a move potentially going ahead in January. The Daily Mail says United are considering a £55m (€64.6m) move for Fernandes, who they were reportedly interested in during the close season.

- Staying at Old Trafford and The Sun reports Manchester United are eyeing a £40m move for West Ham defender Issa Diop, who is also apparently a target for Chelsea.

- Manchester United are at the centre of plenty of speculation this month, including a potential exit for Ashley Young. CalcioMercato reports Inter want the 34-year-old and the Serie A side are offering Young – who is out of contract at season's end – a deal until 2021.

- Gedson Fernandes is seemingly set for a move to London, but to which club remains to be seen. The Guardian reports West Ham fear they will miss out on the Benfica midfielder to Tottenham.

- Out of contract at the end of the season, Hugo Vallejo appears set for a Malaga exit. AS reports Real Madrid are considering making a move for the forward this month before sending the 19-year-old out on loan until the end of 2019-20. Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Valencia are also reportedly interested in Vallejo.

- Meanwhile, Barca have had an offer of €6m for midfielder Matheus Fernandes rejected by Palmeiras, according to Globo Esporte.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted he was forthright with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward regarding transfers.

United, who are sixth in the Premier League, are expected to strengthen their squad in January as they face an injury crisis.

And Solskjaer said he was direct with Woodward when it came to United's approach in the transfer market

"Of course I am [forthright]. We have got open discussions and, of course, we're open and honest and we talk," he told UK newspapers.

"But I wouldn't say to you what I say to him. I would never say I need this and this player out of the club to you.

"We are building towards something and I'm almost getting bored myself talking about this, and the fans will definitely be bored listening to me talk about what we have as a vision and a plan, but it doesn't change from September 1 to now. It's impossible for that to change. Ask [Woodward] if I am.

"I am not going to protect myself. I am going to do what is best for the club, what I think and we feel is right for the club, and I will never put myself before the club. This is Man United and there is no 'I' in Manchester and, for me, there is no 'I' in this team and I could never, ever do that."

Solskjaer, whose side host Norwich City on Saturday, said he was happy with his squad despite the club potentially looking to make moves this month.

"I have those conversations with Ed all the time. And we are looking at how we are going to look in one month's time, five months' time, in the longer period," he said.

"He knows my feelings and we know our feelings. I am very happy with these players."

Erling Haaland said an immediate good feeling about Borussia Dortmund persuaded him to join the Bundesliga club instead of Manchester United.

Premier League giants United and Serie A champions Juventus – along with Dortmund's Bundesliga rivals RB Leipzig – were interested in the 19-year-old.

However, the striker, who scored 28 goals in 22 appearances across all competitions for Salzburg in the first half of 2019-20, decided to sign for Dortmund, who had activated a release clause in his contract.

Presented to the media at Dortmund's training camp in Marbella on Friday, Haaland outlined the reasons for his decision, adding his belief that the Bundesliga is a perfect league for him to continue his development.

"It's been good, great guys, great staff. A good first week," Haaland told a news conference.

Asked why he picked Dortmund above United, Haaland said: "I chose Dortmund because my feeling was best here. It's a massive club. I've always liked this club.

"When I mention it, I start to smile because I like the club and how it is, so that's why. I like everything [the fans, the style of play], all of it.

"[The Bundesliga] is a good league with a lot of good players. It's a great league, the teams play nice football and I think it'll fit me."

Haaland is set to make his debut for Dortmund in a friendly match on Saturday. His competitive bow will not come until at least January 18, when Lucien Favre's side take on Augsburg.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer suggested he is yet to discuss Inter's reported interest in Ashley Young with his captain and does not expect much transfer activity at Old Trafford this month.

Inter are said to have agreed a deal to sign Young when his contract expires at the end of the season, with the Red Devils apparently reluctant to sanction a sale during the January transfer window due to a mounting injury list.

It is claimed United have offered the 34-year-old a new contract, but Solskjaer was giving little away when addressing the media ahead of Saturday's visit of Norwich City.

"He's one of our players," Solskjaer told reporters on Friday when asked for an update on Young's future. "He's our captain.

"There's loads of speculation and we've just got to handle it - we're getting used to that in the club - and Ashley's been very professional and focused, so I don't think that's going to change.

"That [Young's future] is a discussion that me and Ash will have if something comes up. We haven't got too many players fit and ready, so we need the ones we have.

"Ashley's been very, very good for this club, he's been a very good captain this season, so let's see where we are in June and see where we are in February as well."

United's injury problems in midfield have resulted in talk over potential new arrivals.

One of those linked with a switch, despite having recently signed a new contract, is Sporting CP's Bruno Fernandes, though Solskjaer says United will not be very busy this month.

"We go back to speculations," he said when asked about Fernandes. "We do go and watch games all the time, but where I've been is irrelevant, that’s another player in a different club I can't speak about.

"We've still got the same thoughts we had a month ago, got the players we have, working with the ones we have and if something happens we'll tell you.

"I can't say yes or no, but wouldn't expect many ins and outs, no."

Harry Maguire is in contention to feature for Manchester United against Norwich City on Saturday despite reports he was facing a significant spell out with a hip injury.

The most expensive defender in the world missed Tuesday's 3-1 EFL Cup semi-final first-leg defeat to Manchester City.

It was then claimed he was set to be out for an extended period due to torn a hip muscle, seemingly dealing United a massive blow given their dwindling defensive numbers.

But United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has allayed such fears, revealing the England centre-back could start against Norwich in the Premier League clash at Old Trafford.

"He's got a chance for tomorrow," Solskjaer confirmed in his pre-match news conference on Friday. "It was a minor thing.

"I don't know where the reports are coming from, you might've mistaken him for Harry Kane. No, he has a chance. We'll go through training and see how he reacts.

"It's not a surprise [that Maguire may be ready to play]. He's a warrior and if there's a minor problem he'll put himself up to play. That's what he did against Wolves. At half-time he was feeling discomfort but was adamant he'd be fine.

"He was close to playing against City, just not fit enough, but he's got a chance now."

There was less encouraging news for Scott McTominay, however, as the Scotland international is not expected to be back in action until the end of February after suffering knee ligament damage.

"Scott's out for a while," Solskjaer added. "I don't think we'll see him before the winter break [in February]. Hopefully we'll see him in February."

Eric Bailly and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are close to being match fit, though, with both yet to make an appearance this season.

Solskjaer said: "Eric and Tim are playing tonight [Friday] for the reserves, so that will be positive for them. They've been training well for a month now. Hopefully they'll get through that to be available for us again."

Tottenham appear close to landing a replacement for Harry Kane, while Thomas Lemar could also be set for the Premier League.

Kane needs surgery on his left hamstring and is not expected to return to training for Spurs until April.

It seems the Premier League club are nearing a move for Milan forward Krzysztof Piatek, although there are contrasting reports over the status of the deal.

And, Atletico Madrid midfielder Lemar could also be heading to London.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS CLOSE TO LANDING PIATEK AS KANE REPLACEMENT

Tottenham have agreed a deal worth £28million (€32.95m) for Piatek, according to The Sun.

However, the Mirror reports Spurs have had a loan bid for the 24-year-old Poland international rejected, although talks are continuing.

After netting 11 times in 21 games for Milan last season following a January move from Genoa, Piatek has four goals in 18 this campaign.

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea and Tottenham are both trying to sign Atletico's Lemar on loan until the end of the season, according to The Telegraph. Lemar is linked with an Atletico exit after just nine LaLiga starts this season.

- While Christian Eriksen's possible Spurs exit will dominate headlines this month, it appears the midfielder will not be heading to Old Trafford. Sky Sports reports Manchester United have ruled out making a bid for the Denmark international this month.

- Searching for a right-back, Tottenham are keen on signing Barcelona's Nelson Semedo, according to the Mirror. The position has been a problem for Spurs since Kieran Trippier's off-season move to Atletico.

- Javier Hernandez's stay at Sevilla could be coming to an end. Marca reports the club could let the forward, who has one goal in nine LaLiga games this season, leave amid apparent interest from LA Galaxy.

- Leicester City are trying to sign Juventus defender Merih Demiral, according to the Mirror. Manchester City and Everton are also reportedly interested in the Turkey international.

- Piatek aside, there may be other moves at Milan. La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira says Roma are interested in Suso and Cengiz Under could be heading to San Siro, while Milan are still eyeing Inter's Matteo Politano.

- Could David Moyes and Marouane Fellaini reunite for a third time? Sky Sports reports Moyes' West Ham are interested in signing the Shandong Luneng midfielder, who played under the Scot at Everton and Manchester United.

Massimiliano Allegri is without a club since leaving Serie A champions Juventus at the end of 2018-19.

However, Allegri could be nearing a return to management sooner rather than later.

The Italian is believed to be interested in taking charge of Manchester United.

 

TOP STORY – ALLEGRI WANTS UNITED JOB

Massimiliano Allegri is interested in becoming Manchester United manager as pressure mounts on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to the Daily Mail.

Allegri has been rumoured to be of interest to Bayern Munich after leaving Serie A champions Juve at the end of last season, while the Italian was also linked to Arsenal prior to Mikel Arteta's appointment.

However, he is reportedly holding out for the United job should Solskjaer be sacked. Ex-Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is also believed to be monitoring the situation.

 

ROUND-UP

- ElDesmarque claims MLS duo Inter Miami and LA Galaxy are ready to vie for the signature of Real Madrid's Gareth BaleChelsea, though, have also been linked with the former Tottenham star.

- The race is heating up for Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek. Struggling for goals and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic back at San Siro, the Poland international is wanted by Tottenham, reports The Guardian and Calciomercato. Spurs want to boost their attacking options following Harry Kane's injury. Aston Villa have also tabled a bid for Piatek, but Calciomercato claims he is holding out for a bigger club.

- While Piatek could prove a difficult signing, Villa are closing in on Milan goalkeeper Pepe Reina. Calciomercato, Gazzetta dello Sport and Tuttomercatoweb say former Liverpool keeper Reina has agreed a contract with the Premier League side until the end of the season.

- The Mirror reports United are in the market to sign a defender on loan after Harry Maguire's injury. Maguire – the world's most expensive defender – is facing a spell on the sidelines due to a muscle tear.

United are also weighing up a move for Ajax and Netherlands star Donny van de Beek, reports The Telegraph. With Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba injured, the Red Devils are in need of midfield reinforcements. Van de Beek has previously been linked to Real Madrid.

- AS claims Atletico Madrid are looking at Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik as an alternative to Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani. Out of contract at season's end, Cavani is reportedly poised to make the move to Atletico, however, United and Arsenal are also interested.

- Gianluca Di Marzio says Inter winger Matteo Politano has agreed to join city rivals Milan. Struggling for game time with the Nerazzurri, Politano's agent met with Milan's management on Wednesday as a shock switch nears.

Chelsea are preparing a £40million bid for West Ham defender Issa Diop, according to the Express. London rivals Tottenham are also reportedly interested.

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde said he is not thinking about Arturo Vidal leaving the LaLiga champions amid links to Inter and Manchester United.

Vidal has slipped down the pecking order since Frenkie de Jong's arrival from Ajax, prompting speculation over his future at Camp Nou, where he has only started four LaLiga matches this season.

The 32-year-old Vidal has been heavily linked to a reunion with former Juventus head coach Antonio Conte at Serie A side Inter, while struggling Premier League giants United are reportedly interested.

Valverde addressed the rumours ahead of Thursday's Supercopa de Espana semi-final against Atletico Madrid in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

"We're not thinking about him going to another team," Valverde told a news conference. "We'll see tomorrow [Thursday]. In principle he's with us. No clues."

Pressed on reported interest from England and Italy, Valverde replied: "Arturo Vidal plays for us and tomorrow he'll be on the pitch or on the bench.

"We don't pay any attention to other clubs being interested in our players."

Vidal swapped Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich for Barcelona in 2018 and the Chilean has since won LaLiga and the Supercopa de Espana.

He has scored six LaLiga goals in 15 matches this season, while the veteran has amassed 20 appearances across all competitions.

Marcus Rashford has called on Manchester United to draw inspiration from last year's stunning Champions League comeback in Paris as they look to pull off a similar revival against Manchester City.

United were outplayed in a 3-1 defeat to their bitter rivals in the EFL Cup semi-final first leg at Old Trafford on Tuesday, leaving them with a mountain to climb at City in three weeks' time.

There are parallels with the situation Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side found themselves in last March, when they headed to face Paris Saint-Germain in a last-16 tie after losing 2-0 on home soil.

On that night in the French capital, Rashford's last-gasp penalty secured a 3-1 win and sealed progress on away goals.

And Rashford, who wore the captain's armband and scored against Pep Guardiola's City, wants United to rediscover that magic when they travel to the Etihad Stadium.

"It is a different game with different players, but what we found in Paris we have to find that within us again," he told the club's official website.

"We have to go there, score goals and win the game. I think we are capable of doing it. But let's just focus on [Saturday's Premier League game against] Norwich for now and hopefully we can put this result behind us to bring the positivity back."

Rashford was proud to lead his team out for the first time and is closing on a landmark 200th United appearance, with only one more needed to get there, but the England forward is only concerned with results.

"It is obviously a nice feeling [to be captain], but at the end of the day it is the result that matters and we didn't manage to get the win," Rashford said.

"We will look ahead now to the next game, put this one behind us and go again.

"To be honest, the games have all come thick and fast. You don't notice the numbers going up so much.

"It is my 200th game and obviously it is going to be a good night for me. It is definitely a proud moment to play 200 games for this club.

"But if we don't get the three points then for me it doesn't mean a thing. We have to make sure that we win the game and put on a positive performance."

Inter are seemingly nearing an agreement with Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen, reports say.

The Denmark international is out of contract at the end of the season and has also been linked with a move away from Spurs in January.

Inter are among the clubs reportedly interested in Eriksen and it seems the Serie A high-flyers are close to a deal.

 

TOP STORY – INTER IN ADVANCED TALKS WITH ERIKSEN

Inter are in advanced talks with Eriksen for a move ahead of the 2020-21 season, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira.

However, he reports Spurs are looking to sell Eriksen in January for at least €20million (£17m).

Amid uncertainty over his future, Eriksen has made just nine Premier League starts for Tottenham this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at San Siro, multiple reports suggest Inter are eyeing Manchester United veteran Ashley Young. Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano reports Inter and United are in advanced talks regarding the 34-year-old.

- Georginio Wijnaldum has been linked with a surprise move from Liverpool, with his contract expiring in 2021. However, Sky Sports reports the Netherlands international is happy at the European champions and wants to stay as long as possible.

- Arsenal are looking to strengthen in January, but the Premier League club are considering loan deals. Goal reports Arsenal are unlikely to make any permanent signings this month, unless an opportunity is too good to turn down.

- In a Premier League relegation battle and with injuries mounting, Aston Villa have held talks with Milan over possible deals for forward Krzysztof Piatek and goalkeeper Pepe Reina, according to the Daily Mail. Villa lost Wesley and Tom Heaton for the rest of the season to begin the year.

- Wilfried Zaha still looks set to leave Crystal Palace. The star's agent is said to have held preliminary talks with Bayern Munich, although a move to the Bundesliga giants is unlikely, according to Sky Sports. The Mirror reports Zaha's new agent, Pini Zahavi, is also trying to get the attacker to Tottenham.

- There continues to be talk about a possible move to Tottenham for Thomas Lemar. The Independent reports Spurs are considering making a loan approach for the Atletico Madrid midfielder, with a £51million (€60m) option to buy.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer felt Manchester United's first half against Manchester City in the EFL Cup on Tuesday was the worst they have played this season.

City dominated the first leg of the semi-final at Old Trafford, where Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez scored before Andreas Pereira's own goal.

Marcus Rashford struck in the second half for United, to give them a glimmer of hope heading to the Etihad Stadium on January 29 despite the 3-1 loss.

Solskjaer was unhappy with the way his side started, lamenting their first half – particularly after Silva's fine 17th-minute opener.

"From their goal until half-time it's the worst we've played," he told a news conference.

"Before then, it could've gone either way, a goal, but that doesn't matter now.

"We've just got to focus on Saturday, Norwich [City]. After that second half we've got something that we can believe in."

Solskjaer said his message to his players was clear after they trailed 3-0 at half-time and looked in danger of being thrashed.

"Pride is one word that you speak about at half-time," he said.

"Make sure you win the second half and you're in the tie and of course it's a difficult task that we've got in front of us.

"But that second half at least gave us something to hang onto."

Pep Guardiola remains wary of a Manchester United comeback in their EFL Cup semi-final despite Manchester City's 3-1 win at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

City were largely dominant as Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez scored before an Andreas Pereira own goal in the first half.

Marcus Rashford struck in the second half for United, who will head to the Etihad Stadium for the second leg on January 29.

But Guardiola pointed to United's comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in last season's Champions League – when they recovered from a 2-0 first-leg home loss in the last 16 – as a warning to his team.

"I've played many times against United, not just here, but when I was in Munich and especially Barcelona, and two finals of the Champions League. Of course I have incredible respect for this club and its history," he told a news conference.

"This club helps this Premier League in England and in Europe, to make our game a better place to be. Of course it's an incredible stage to come, an incredible scenario, and to try to play good like we did in the last times we've came here is an honour.

"But that is not three points, that is not done. Last season they lost 2-0 to PSG and after they went to France and you know they qualified.

"Anything can happen in football and I know after what happened in the second half that they are a dangerous team. Hopefully now in front of our people, they can support us like Man United support their team, and again, qualify for the final."

After City dominated the first half, United grew into the game in the second and found a goal through Rashford.

Guardiola was pleased with his side's opening 45 minutes, while praising United's response.

"We played good in the first half, we played really good. In the second half they changed to a diamond [formation] and we struggled more to press and they found [space] behind our holding midfielders," he said.

"[Mason] Greenwood, we could not press because they have two weapons up front with [Daniel] James and Rashford, so it's difficult for central defenders controlling these situations.

"And of course they have pride, they are United so that's normal the reaction they had in front of their people.

"I take note about what happened in the second half for the second leg in three weeks, but it's a good result tonight for us."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is uneasy at the thought of letting players leave Manchester United following rumours Inter have expressed an interest in Ashley Young.

United lost 3-1 at home to bitter rivals Manchester City in the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final on Tuesday, with the visitors outclassing Solskjaer's men for most of the match.

The defeat highlighted the glaring deficiencies in United's squad, with Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira, Phil Jones and Victor Lindelof coming in for criticism for their respective performances.

Shortly after the match, rumours began to emerge claiming Serie A leaders Inter are in advanced talks for Young, who has been used as a back-up option for the full-back positions over the past few seasons.

Despite the 34-year-old being out of contract at the end of the season, Solskjaer seemed reluctant to let Young leave this month.

"Tonight's not the time to talk about players leaving, because we need the players we have in the squad and we've got a few months left of this season," Solskjaer told reporters.

"You've got to ask Ash, to be fair. For me it's about focusing on the next game and tonight [City]."

United return to Premier League action this weekend at home to Norwich City.

Pep Guardiola insists the EFL Cup semi-final has not been settled despite Manchester City's dominant 3-1 win over Manchester United on Tuesday.

City raced into a 3-0 lead by half-time at Old Trafford, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and an Andreas Pereira own goal doing the damage against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

United were simply unable to handle City in the first half as the visitors sprung a surprise by playing without a recognised centre-forward, although they did improve after bringing Nemanja Matic on at half-time and Marcus Rashford's goal offered a glimmer of hope for the tie.

Solskjaer pointed to last season's second-leg win over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last 16 as proof his side cannot be written off, and Guardiola is not prepared to consider the Red Devils incapable of a similar comeback.

"The first minutes were tight, they had one or two counter-attacks, but the first shot or second shot was an outstanding goal from Bernardo," the City manager told Sky Sports.

"After, we played really good, with a lot of passes, arriving from behind. In the second half, they changed the shape, the diamond 4-4-2 and we struggled a little bit more to keep the ball.

"But yeah, a good result. It's not over, because it's United, and we see how many times, last season was a good example against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. They are able to score goals.

"Hopefully, with our fans, we can make a good game and reach the final again."

Guardiola said he set up his side to avoid the kind of counter-attacking damage United did in their 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League last month.

"It's always difficult to control Rashford and all the people in front because they are so fast, and that was the main target today, with a lot of passes. We feel comfortable with the ball and we did it," he said.

Guardiola also bristled at the suggestion City invited United back into the contest by relaxing too much after half-time.

"Always we have to accept the result. We played against United – what do you expect? One, zero-seven here, or what?" he added.

"They played good, they changed their situation and we could not control quite as well, especially [Mason] Greenwood between the lines, we struggled a little bit with that, but in general it was an incredible performance.

"We played at Old Trafford, against our rivals, in a semi-final, and it was a fantastic result for us."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.