Nemanja Matic believes in-form Manchester United team-mate Anthony Martial is on course to become one of the best strikers in the world. 

Martial has scored 20 goals in a season for the first time since joining United in a big-money move from Monaco in 2015. 

The France international has played a major part in the Red Devils' resurgence this term, claiming the first hat-trick of his career in the Premier League victory over Sheffield United last month. 

Martial has not consistently hit the heights and suffered injury problems during his time at Old Trafford, though has shown what he can produce during United's 17-match unbeaten run. 

Midfielder Matic says the 24-year-old deserves huge credit for his desire to improve and feels there is still more to come. 

He told Stats Perform News: "A good game for one football player doesn't come [just] like that. It's hard work. 

"Anthony [Martial], in the last year or year and a half, I have seen him working a lot, trying to improve in every part of the game. 

"Of course, then on the pitch that gives you more and you deserve it. Anthony is doing great. In training sessions, he is fighting for every ball, trying to help team-mates. 

"Even when we don't have the ball he's trying to defend. He's doing fantastic. I think that if he continues like this, he'll be one of the best strikers or attacking players in the world. 

"[He is] still young, still young I have to say, [there's] still a lot to improve and time works for him, so he just needs to continue to work like this." 

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.

'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.

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."

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.

Nemanja Matic is enthused by the young talent that has fired Manchester United's revival but believes more improvement is needed to challenge for the Premier League title.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side are enjoying an unbeaten run in all competitions that stretches back to January 22.

Since the Premier League's return from lockdown, United have been in electrifying form, with breakout displays from teenage forward Mason Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes' galvanising effect to the fore.

Matic claimed Premier League glory in 2014-15 and 2016-17 at Chelsea and feels United and their exciting attack must continue to realise their potential more fully if they are to dethrone Liverpool.

"I have to be honest: it was not always easy to be in our team because we had a lot of young players, with no experience of playing at the highest level," he told Stats Perform News.

"But that was a period of transition of our team and I think in the last few years many players matured a lot.

"I have to mention [Marcus] Rashford, [Anthony] Martial, Greenwood, so many players matured a lot. They know they have a lot of responsibility; they play every game.

"I am happy to see them improving, taking responsibility and I am sure this team can only improve.

"It was difficult for us in the past because we were inconsistent, but I think the team is ready, more experienced. If we can improve 10 or 20 per cent more then we can challenge for the title next season."

Chelsea's 3-0 defeat at Sheffield United on Saturday has left the door ajar to the top four and United will go above Frank Lampard's men if they beat Southampton on Monday.

"We are fighting, we are playing, we want to finish in the top four. There are only four games left but we are there," Matic said.

"We are fighting with Chelsea and Leicester [City] for that position, we know it's going to be hard, but we will try and win every game until the end. We want to win the Europa League and the FA Cup."

Chelsea are also in United's way in next weekend's FA Cup semi-finals, while a 5-0 first-leg lead over LASK means they can expect to contest a Europa League quarter-final against Istanbul Basaksehir or Copenhagen next month.

Lifting the Europa League, as they did in 2016-17, of course represents another route into the Champions League if required.

"I don't think it adds more pressure, but it does give you more chances to play in the Champions League," Matic said.

"I think it's great what they did that clubs have an opportunity to fight for the Champions League.

"Also, a trophy is a trophy and we want to win, we can show our kids one day, every trophy is important to us."

The likelihood is that VAR decisions will come under the microscope once again as United contest the closing weeks of the season with all to play for.

Nevertheless, Matic is broadly a fan of the much-maligned system, although he feels breaks in play could be speeded up.

"I think it is better with VAR," he added. "Before, when referees made mistakes, it was finished.

"Now with the VAR they reduce the mistakes. There will always be mistakes because we are human, but I believe it will reduce the mistakes, so I support it.

"It needs to be faster. In the game against Bournemouth [United's recent 5-2 Premier League win] we had to wait too long.

"It's not easy to decide quickly but if they could improve more then it would be perfect."

Marcus Rashford deserves more credit for his "amazing" teamwork for Manchester United despite his goal return drying up, Bruno Fernandes says.

Rashford reached 20 for the season in all competitions with a penalty in the 5-2 Premier League win over Bournemouth at Old Trafford.

This has been the England forward's most productive campaign of his career in terms of goal involvements, but he has not yet scored from open play since the Premier League returned last month.

Fernandes has had no such trouble finding the net, his four goals in his past three league games helping him to win the Premier League Player of the Month award for the second time in a row.

But the Portugal star insists Rashford is hugely important for a United side unbeaten in 17 matches and with a top-four finish now in their own hands.

"I think everyone is talking about Marcus not scoring a lot of goals but he is doing an amazing job," Fernandes told United's website ahead of Monday's game against Southampton.

"The game he is playing now, maybe he is not achieving his goals and everything but, with everything we are doing now, he will achieve more goals and more assists. In the games, in the complete football, because football is not just about goals and assists, it is about the team and Marcus is playing very well for the team.

"I hope Marcus can find more goals because he deserves it for the work he is doing for the team, and nobody sees it because everyone sees the goals and who scores and assists. The work he is doing for the team is amazing.

"Marcus was injured for a long time so it's difficult to find that confidence again, to do things like shoot from far out. But he is doing an amazing job for the group and I think he deserves credit for this."

Fernandes drew attention to Rashford's off-the-ball run in the 3-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion that helped to create the space for the swift counter-attack that ended with Fernandes volleying in United's third goal.

"The play we did, the way we came to score, means it's one of the best goals from a team [perspective] that I've scored,” he said.

"That's because of all the teamwork. We won the ball with the header from H [Harry Maguire], Nemanja [Matic] takes the ball and Mason [Greenwood] did an amazing run but, at that moment, Rashy did a perfect run. He was one of the far [off] guys but comes so fast to the goal that defenders know if they give him space, he will score. 

"So maybe he [the defender] closes him down being closer to the ball and, when the cross comes over, and it was a great ball by Mason, after that I just need to score the goal."

Jack Grealish has not seen sufficient ambition from Aston Villa to tempt him to stay with the club, according to former captain Stiliyan Petrov.

Relegation from the Premier League looks a near certainty for Villa now, after Watford and West Ham claimed potentially decisive wins on Saturday to pull clear of the bottom three.

It will mean Villa's return to the top flight has lasted just one campaign, after Grealish spent three seasons in the Championship helping his boyhood club battle their way back to the elite level.

Grealish is widely expected to leave, having been linked with a host of leading clubs including Manchester United, and the 24-year-old may risk his potential going unfulfilled should he drop into the second tier again.

Although Villa were among the big spenders leading into the 2019-20 season, Petrov suggests the 1982 European Cup winners have still not matched Grealish's needs.

And in turn that leads to the inevitable suspicion he will call time on his Villa career.

Speaking to Stats Perform News, Petrov said: "As a Villa fan I'd love him to stay. Jack likes to compete, he wants to do that at the highest level. He loves the club. He showed that in the Championship, he helped us get promotion, he battled hard in the Premier League.

"If that moment comes [when Grealish leaves], it would be sad to see because he is an exceptional person, not just player. But as a club, have we done enough to keep him?

"I don't think so and it's a big problem going forward as a club, because we may get good players through the youth system, but can we do enough to keep them?

"If he goes, I don't think he can be blamed."

Former Bulgaria star Petrov, who made over 200 appearances for Villa from 2006 until 2012, says it would be a natural progression for Grealish to step up to an established Premier League club.

"Jack has a growth mindset," Petrov said. "He likes to improve, he wants to achieve.

"He likes to be in the spotlight, wants to be counted. He wants to compete at the highest level.

"Of course, he will generate interest from the top clubs because he does perform. If you remember, Pep Guardiola said he's one of the best midfielders in the Premier League.

"That compliment comes from one of the best managers in the world. Those managers don't waste their words saying this about someone who doesn't deserve it.

"That's why Pep came out and said he's one of the best and his performances this season have attracted attention. It's completely normal."

Manchester United's plans for next season remain "up in the air", according to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The delayed end to the 2019-20 season caused by coronavirus has meant a lot of the customary off-season planning has had to be shelved while United's pursuit of a top-four finish and Champions League qualification has exacerbated the problem at Old Trafford.

United's blistering form post-lockdown means wins in their four remaining games will see them secure a place among Europe's elite next term, although fifth may yet be enough depending on how the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) views Manchester City's appeal against a two-season European ban.

With so many variables, Solskjaer concedes there is only so much forward-thinking possible at present.

Speaking ahead of Monday's game against Southampton, he said: "You can't really decide on the training programme, there are so many small decisions and, of course, transfers sometimes are out of our hands as well.

"If the team is going well, what do we need? What don't we need? Do we get injuries? That's just the way we're working in this job and you've always got to plan for different scenarios.

"The uncertainty of dates, how much holiday can you give them, what will next season look like, it's still a little bit up in the air.

"I don't think it's like dramatic decisions, I don't think the club would either panic or suddenly go crazy with plans that we've already talked about for years to come.

"You do have to have a long-term plan but some short-term, maybe some decisions will be easier to make if you get [into] the Champions League."

United have received plenty of plaudits for their attack-minded approach since the Premier League resumed but Solskjaer was also keen to talk up the importance of a defence that has conceded just three goals in the past five games in all competitions.

He said: "It's about winning, of course it is, but it's also about our fans and the way we approach the game, how we approach football.

"You play with pace, power, you play with no fear, you take risks and you've got players who have got quality. That's just the DNA of the football club.

"Of course, I'm happy when you don't concede but it's always been built on a strong foundation.

"When we had [Jaap] Stam and [Ronny] Johnsen, [Gary] Pallister and [Steve] Bruce, fantastic keepers behind them, the engine room with Roy Keane and Bryan Robson laid down foundations for forwards to show their skills. We just need to take it one game at a time.

"Now it's time to keep our feet on the ground, keep working, and don't believe all the hype and praise. Same as not believing in all the criticism when you don't do well: the end is not too far away, so the goal is getting closer."

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not believe teenage star Mason Greenwood will suffer burnout after emerging as a key man at Old Trafford.

The 18-year-old striker has netted four times in United's past three Premier League games, including a wonderful effort in the 3-0 victory at Aston Villa on Thursday.

Greenwood has formed a formidable attacking trident with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial with the threesome set to start again as United continue their challenge to finish in the top four when they host Southampton on Monday.

Such is Greenwood's form, it seems unlikely he will be afforded any rest with United also challenging for silverware in the Europa League and FA Cup.

Solskjaer has no concerns that burnout will become a factor, though.

He told reporters at his news conference: "At that age, you've got so much energy, no fear, you just want to go and play football.

"If we had a day off, he'd go and play football with his mates. I'm not worried about Mason this season; we just need to look after him in his whole career.

"He's a fantastic boy, he loves football and gets the result and rewards for his hard work."

Greenwood has long been tipped for stardom and Solskjaer was not surprised by his emergence, adding: "Not really, we know what he's capable of and always trusted him to be a part of this squad and chip in with performances and goals.

"We've seen it every day, I've seen it since I came to the club, he's just a natural footballer and when you put natural good footballers with better footballers that gives him more opportunities to show his qualities.

"The club know what they're doing when they’re educating players."

With Greenwood taking centre stage, Rashford has been able to focus fully on his game after a lockdown period in which his charity work rightly earned him many plaudits.

Solskjaer has been encouraged with the recent progress made by the England international.

"I am very happy with him," he said. "Physically he's coping well with the games, mixing up his game and making defenders think.

"Marcus has got all the attributes to be a top forward, you can see with our players he suddenly pops up on the right, left, and you want that rotation between them but also the discipline to stick out wide and create the space for others.

"Sometimes you get an assist in my head when you're creating space and making runs for others."

Manchester City are reportedly ready to give up two players in a deal for Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly.

Koulibaly, 29, has regularly been linked with a move from Naples, with several of Europe's biggest clubs apparently keen to land the centre-back.

And City may know who they are ready to offer up as part of a deal.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY PREPARED TO GIVE UP TWO PLAYERS FOR KOULIBALY

Manchester City could use Nicolas Otamendi and Oleksandr Zinchenko in a deal for Napoli star Koulibaly, according to The Sun.

The report says the Serie A club have already contacted City about Otamendi and Zinchenko.

Napoli are said to want €100million for Koulibaly, who has also been linked to Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool have been repeatedly linked with a move for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara over recent weeks. However, ESPN reports the Premier League champions will not pursue a deal for the former Barcelona star.

- Speculation around Eric Garcia's future continues. According to Mundo Deportivo, the Manchester City defender is motivated to return to Barcelona, but the Premier League club have offered the 19-year-old a bumper contract, with his current deal expiring in 2022.

- Jonathan Ikone is seemingly attracting some interest. Le 10 Sport reports Chelsea and Inter are interested in the Lille forward. Ikone scored three goals and provided six assists in 28 Ligue 1 games in 2019-20.

- Will Roma get a deal done for Chris Smalling? Gianluca Di Marzio says Roma are in negotiations with Manchester United to make the defender's move permanent. The report says Roma's offer of €3m (£2.7m) to extend the loan for a season before a €15m (£13.4m) offer to make the move permanent has been deemed too low.

- Mesut Ozil wants to see out his contract at Arsenal, with his deal expiring in 2021. The Sun reports the attacker has told friends he will only consider playing in MLS or the Turkish Super Lig after he leaves Arsenal.

- Paris Saint-Germain could be looking to strengthen while weakening one of their Ligue 1 rivals. Foot Mercato reports PSG are interested in Lyon and France defender Leo Dubois.

Bruno Fernandes has become only the seventh player to win two successive Premier League Player of the Month awards.

Mohamed Salah, Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane, Cristiano Ronaldo, Dennis Bergkamp and Robbie Fowler are the only other players to have achieved the feat.

The Manchester United midfielder, who joined from Sporting CP in January, has made a remarkable start to life in the Premier League, winning both of the Player of the Month awards that he was eligible for.

Fernandes claimed the gong for February after an impressive first month at Old Trafford, before continuing that sparkling form into March.

He picked up where he left off when the Premier League resumed last month following the coronavirus-enforced suspension, with his performances across March and June taken into account for the latest award.

In United's five matches across those two months, Fernandes scored four goals and set up one more.

The Portugal international has helped transform United's fortunes since arriving from Sporting, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men unbeaten in 15 matches since his debut.

Fernandes beat Conor Coady, Danny Ings, Raul Jimenez, Allan Saint-Maximin and his United team-mate Anthony Martial to the June prize, while he also took home the Goal of the Month award.

The goal in question was his second in the 3-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion on June 30, as he volleyed home from Mason Greenwood's pinpoint cross at the end of a rapid counter-attack.

While it was not a double success for United with the Manager of the Month award, it is the first time the two prizes have gone to Portuguese candidates in the same month.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo won the manager's accolade for a second time, as he presided over a five-match unbeaten streak either side of the coronavirus hiatus.

He left Steve Bruce, Frank Lampard and Solskjaer in his wake, though Wolves have lost both of their matches in July, denting their hopes of a top-four finish as they trail fourth-placed Leicester City by seven points with four games to go.

Manchester United are set to face either Istanbul Basaksehir or Copenhagen in the quarter-finals of the Europa League. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, who hold a 5-0 lead from the first leg of their last-16 tie with LASK, could then meet Wolves, Olympiacos, Roma or Sevilla in the last four. 

Antonio Conte's Inter will take on either Bayer Leverkusen or Rangers in the last eight, if they defeat Getafe in the last 16. 

Shakhtar Donetsk or Wolfsburg will face Eintracht Frankfurt or Basel in the other quarter-final. 

The matches between Getafe and Inter, and Roma and Sevilla, will be held as one-off games at neutral venues in Germany as the first legs could not take place due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

All other remaining last-16 ties were able to complete their first legs, meaning the reverse fixtures will be held at the home team's stadiums. 

Those games will take place over August 5-6 before the quarter-finals begin from August 10, with those matches being staged in Cologne, Duisburg, Dusseldorf and Gelsenkirchen. 

The semi-final venues are yet to be confirmed, but the final on August 21 will be held in Cologne. 

Quater-final draw:

Shakhtar Donetsk or Wolfsburg v Eintracht Frankfurt or Basel
Manchester United or LASK v Istanbul Basaksehir or Copenhagen
Inter or Getafe v Bayer Leverkusen or Rangers
Wolves or Olympiacos v Roma or Sevilla

Semi-final draw:

Winner of QF4 v Winner of QF2
Winner of QF3 v Winner of QF1

Gary Neville believes VAR officials are "frightened to death" to overturn on-field decisions following further controversial incidents in the Premier League on Thursday. 

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith was left fuming after Manchester United were awarded a penalty when Ezri Konsa was adjudged to have fouled Bruno Fernandes, who scored the opening goal from the spot in a 3-0 win following a VAR check. 

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho was also stunned when Harry Kane appeared to be pushed over by Joshua King, but both referee Paul Tierney and VAR official Michael Oliver did not feel a foul should be awarded in a goalless draw. 

Former Manchester United and England defender Neville wants to see referees check pitch-side monitors rather than rely on verdicts from Stockley Park. 

"On VAR. Send the Ref to the screens for goodness sake! The "we know better" than Europe way is failing badly," Neville tweeted. 

"The officials off-site are frightened to death to overrule on-site colleagues." 

Villa boss Smith was left frustrated at the VAR call made in the defeat to United as they battle to avoid relegation from the top flight.

"It all changed round on the penalty. I can understand Jon [on-field referee Moss] getting it wrong on the pitch but VAR? I don't know what they're looking at. It's a disgraceful decision," he said.

"They've got a screen there they can go and look at, but they don't seem to be bothered now." 

Carl Robinson hopes Wolves keep star duo Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez, but the former midfielder knows the Premier League club may have to sell in order to improve their squad. 

Traore and Jimenez are reportedly attracting plenty of interest as Nuno Espirito Santo's Wolves continue to challenge the Premier League's elite since their return to the top flight in 2018-19. 

Wolves, who finished seventh last season, are sixth through 34 matches this term and flirting with another European berth thanks to Traore, Jimenez and a star-studded squad, including Portugal internationals Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and Rui Patricio. 

Jimenez – linked to Manchester United and Juventus – has scored 15 Premier League goals and tallied six assists in 2019-20, while reported Liverpool, Manchester City and Barcelona target Traore has set up nine goals and netted four of his own. 

While Traore and Jimenez could leave Molineux in big-money deals, Robinson insisted how Wolves reinvest transfer funds would be crucial in the club's bid to maintain their position and crack the Premier League's top five.

"The reality is, they've played fantastically well for Wolves this season, so there is going to be top clubs sniffing around them," Robinson, who made over 150 appearances for Wolves between 1995 and 2002, told Stats Perform News. 

"Wolves' decision will be: can they afford to keep them, can they afford to turn down these huge transfer fees and if they do and say we're going to turn down £70million for Traore, how can they invest and build the squad from where they are at the moment? 

"If they can't, they might have to look at the £70m and Nuno will ask the question, how much of that £70m can I have invested in the football squad because our starting point is lower than where we are today. That's why sometimes, unfortunately, managers lose jobs because their starting point is a lot lower, but expectations go higher based upon the club getting £70m and Nuno is spending £20m. 

"I hope they keep those players at Wolves because if they don't, there will be two major gaping holes. But I also understand football is a business and if they get £150m for two players, I'm not sure too many teams could turn that down. 

"You could bring in four or five £30m players. If you look at your squad, sometimes you have to go sideways, or backwards, to go forwards. But do it for the right reasons, do it because you're selling one of your key players knowing you have a youngster coming through in maybe 12 months.  

"That's an understandable plan you have as a club. That's why the executives and big boys are paid the big money, because they have to make major decisions. The buck stops with them. If they get it wrong, they lose their jobs." 

Wolves have come a long way since Chinese conglomerate group Fosun International purchased the club in 2016 – progressing from a mid-table side in the Championship to FA Cup semi-finalists last season and Europa League participants in 2019-20. 

Santo's side are six points adrift of fifth-placed Manchester United with four Premier League matches remaining, while Wolves – back in Europe for the first time since 1980 – are preparing to resume their Europa League last 16-tie against Olympiacos next month after the competition was suspended in March due to coronavirus following the 1-1 draw in Greece. 

"When you have Mexico's number nine, when you have three Portuguese international players, the Portugal international goalkeeper in your team, when you have four or five other players who cost you £10-15m each, when you have Adama Traore, who you've managed to buy and develop and now maybe possibly on the verge of a move to Liverpool for £70-80m, you have a standard of players that are of high quality," Robinson, now head coach of Australian team Newcastle Jets, said.  

"When you have better players, they are able to win you games in moments where games are tight. Games are tight in the Premier League especially. The investment has been fantastic, not only on the field but off it.

"They've tried to regain some of what Wolverhampton is about – it's a good old honest, working men's town. It's not the city, the bright lights of London, it's Wolverhampton. When you go there, you see it and you're proud to play for Wolves. But you're only proud to play for them if you understand what they're about. 

"They've managed to be successful and compete at the top half of the Premier League. That's very important and it's great, it's got the interest back in Wolves. It's good when they see their rivals – Aston Villa, Birmingham and West Brom especially – languishing.

"Their issue now, and it's a good issue to have, is to maintain where they are and keep up with the big boys, they need to invest at the minimum level to what they've already invested. We see football clubs sometimes going out of business and drop. Hopefully Wolves will never be at the stage because of the continued investment. 

"Most clubs in football are feeder clubs and I'll say this with the greatest respect to other than four or five teams, and even Premier League champions Liverpool had to sell Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho. They might have to sell either Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah because there are clubs bigger that can pay the money.

"As a club, you know if you're successful you will lose your key players. How you replace them is key. 

"Wolves are in a great place. Hopefully they can stabilise where they are for the next three, four or five years and then continually try to crack the top five or six, which won't be easy." 

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