Manchester United have left it late again, but they are finally adding more new faces to the squad in this transfer window in the form of Edinson Cavani and Alex Telles.

Cavani, who has been a free agent since leaving Paris Saint-Germain in June, is reportedly joining the Red Devils on a one-year contract with the option of a second, while Telles arrives from Porto in a deal worth in the region of £15.4million (€17m).

Cavani became PSG's record goalscorer in his seven years in France, scoring 200 times in all competitions to help them to win 19 trophies.

He certainly has the pedigree to be a strong addition to the United ranks, but they have endured mixed fortunes in the past when it comes to South American signings.

Here are their previous 18, ranked from worst to best...

18. Rodrigo Possebon (2008-10)

Possebon squeaks onto this list as a Brazil-born player, even though he represented Italy at youth level.

Signed by United from Internacional in 2008, he mustered three league appearances before a fruitless loan to Braga and then a return to Brazil. He last played for Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

 

17. Radamel Falcao (2014-15)

Falcao, the man who tore through defences for fun with Porto, Atletico Madrid and Monaco, looked as though he had practically forgotten how to play football when he pulled on the red shirt at United, even if he did manage four goals in 26 Premier League appearances.

Just to rub it in, he returned to Monaco in 2016 and promptly became brilliant again. He's now at Galatasaray.

16. Kleberson (2003-05)

A World Cup winner snapped up for approximately £6.5million - what could possibly go wrong? Pretty much everything, it turns out.

Kleberson played 20 league games between 2003 and 2005 before being shipped out to Besiktas.

 

15. Guillermo Varela (2013-17)

Becoming David Moyes' first signing was probably never going to work out for the best.

Varela spent four years at United, two of which saw him leave on loan, before he went to Penarol to get his career back up and running. He now plays for Copenhagen and started in the 1-0 loss to his old club in last season's Europa League quarter-final.

 

14. Alexis Sanchez (2018-19)

He had some moments - the winner in the comeback against Newcastle United, the FA Cup strike against old club Arsenal - but they did not exactly justify the reported basic wage of £300,000 per week.

Sanchez has gone some way towards rekindling his career alongside good friend Romelu Lukaku at Inter - another player who could not convince Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of his importance.

 

13. Angel Di Maria (2014-15)

His audacious lob against Leicester City showed the sort of quality he could offer United as a then-British record signing (£60m, according to reports). Sadly, in that same game, United collapsed to lose 5-3 and Louis van Gaal seemed to lose all faith in attacking football of any kind.

Di Maria never seemed to gel with Van Gaal, nor did he ever settle in Manchester, and he was sold to Paris Saint-Germain for a loss within a year. He has, of course, been exceptional in France.

 

12. Andreas Pereira (2011-)

A Brazil international born in Belgium, Pereira had a long wait to break into United's first team on a regular basis. Many supporters are still wondering when he will justify the patience.

The midfielder has talent, for sure, but whether he has enough to become a mainstay over the coming years remains to be seen. He was given plenty of opportunities to impress last season but failed to do so consistently, and a loan move to Lazio for 2020-21 was considered the best for all parties.

 

11. Juan Sebastian Veron (2001-03)

Veron is another expensive Argentina star who scored a memorable goal in a 5-3 game for United - on that occasion, it was when they came from 3-0 down to beat Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

Veron was a good example of the right player signed at the wrong time. United still had great quality in midfield in 2001, when Veron joined from Lazio; within a couple of years, that strength in depth had evaporated, and the world's most right-footed footballer would have been a welcome addition.

 

10. Anderson (2007-15)

A combative, hard-working presence in the United midfield, Anderson seemed to have a peculiar habit of kicking the ball as hard as possible regardless of whether he was shooting from 35 yards out or passing to a team-mate behind him.

He certainly got a huge medal haul – seven major trophies in eight years, no less – but his crowning achievement at Old Trafford was having a song to the tune of Black Lace's 1984 hit 'Agadoo'. And, yes, he was better than Kleberson.

 

9. Fred (2018-)

Like Sanchez, Fred was said to be a man coveted by Manchester City only for United and Jose Mourinho to get in the way. Like Sanchez, the £47m midfielder proved initially to be a redundant presence in the squad, apparently not valued by Solskjaer.

Unlike Sanchez, Fred has managed to prove his worth to the manager and was arguably their most consistent midfielder in 2019-20. His place in the first XI is far from guaranteed, though, after Donny van de Beek's arrival from Ajax.

 

8. Marcos Rojo (2014-)

Injuries, including serious knee damage, and a proclivity for a reckless challenge or two have dogged Rojo's past couple of seasons and may leave many wondering why he is so high in this list.

Well, it's easy to forget the important part he played in Mourinho's first season, when United won the EFL Cup and Europa League. Such was his determination to run through the proverbial brick wall for his boss, he asked for a banana to give him an energy boost while playing in the last-16 win over Rostov.

 

7. Fabio (2008-14)

Whether or not he really was the most talented of the Da Silva twins, as was claimed, Fabio was certainly not the most effective in his Old Trafford career, although he won plenty of silverware.

Although a full-back by trade, Fabio made two rather decisive appearances in midfield for United. One was in a 2-0 FA Cup victory over Arsenal, when Alex Ferguson somehow pulled off a win with Fabio, Rafael, Darron Gibson and John O'Shea as the central four; the other was during a 3-2 home defeat to Blackburn Rovers on New Year's Eve in 2011, a match that convinced Paul Pogba he had no immediate future at the club.

 

6. Diego Forlan (2002-04)

Forlan's best days were after he left Old Trafford, when he would become a fine forward for Villarreal and Atletico Madrid. He retired last year to a general hum of respect and admiration.

United fans will always remember him for a winning double against Liverpool in 2002, but his talent was just a little too raw for him to establish himself in the north west permanently. Still, he won the Premier League and FA Cup and cost under £7m.

 

5. Rafael (2008-15)

A popular figure like his brother, Rafael simply offered more quality and consistency in the United team, his best season coming as first-choice right-back when they last won the league in 2012-13.

Van Gaal was not a big fan, so he was sold to Lyon in 2015. Five good years in France came and went and he now plays for Istanbul Basaksehir, meaning he will get an Old Trafford reunion in this season's Champions League group stages.

4. Gabriel Heinze (2004-07)

Although he was a touch heavy-handed with challenges at times - he really did like to lead with his elbows when jumping for headers - Heinze was an excellent player for United despite his second season being ruined by a major knee problem.

In fact, he would likely have stayed for longer had his place not been usurped by Patrice Evra, who was signed as cover following that injury and went on to become one of the club's finest full-backs in years.

 

3. Sergio Romero (2015-)

Okay, he has not played as often as others on this list, but Romero has essentially established himself as the most accomplished back-up goalkeeper in the world at United.

Hugely dependable when called upon, he was also first choice in the successful Europa League campaign of 2016-17 and kept a clean sheet in the final against Ajax. He has barely put a foot wrong.

 

2. Antonio Valencia (2009-19)

Some fans lost patience with him in his final few months, when he seemed to be phased out of the squad by Solskjaer with little explanation, but Valencia had a commendable career at United after joining from Wigan Athletic in 2009.

His decade at Old Trafford yielded two Premier Leagues, two EFL Cups, an FA Cup and a Europa League, as he marauded down the right flank as a wide midfielder and later as a first-rate converted full-back. He was the club's Players' Player of the Year twice, in 2011-12 (as a winger) and 2016-17 (as a defender), and served as club captain.

1. Carlos Tevez (2007-09)

He's not exactly the most popular man in the red half of Manchester given his move to City in 2009, but even the angriest of Red Devils cannot deny Tevez's impact.

He spearheaded an attack containing Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo - one of the most fearsome United have ever had - and led Ferguson's side to two Premier Leagues, an EFL Cup, a Club World Cup and the Champions League in just two years.

Manchester United's problems in the transfer window have reportedly continued as they target Federico Chiesa and Alex Telles.

The Premier League giants have had a tough window so far, with only Donny van de Beek arriving from Ajax.

That is their only inclusion despite links to the likes of Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho and Telles, and their progress is still seemingly slow ahead of the window closing on Monday.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD'S CHIESA BID REJECTED, SNUBBED OVER TELLES

Manchester United had a loan enquiry for Fiorentina attacker Chiesa turned down, according to The Telegraph.

As they struggle to land a deal for Sancho, United have been linked with Chiesa and Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele.

Chiesa, a 22-year-old Italy international, has made a fine start to this season, scoring once and providing an assist in two Serie A games.

United seemed closer to bringing in Telles, but O Jogo reports Porto did not even respond to their first bid for the left-back – believed to be around £11.8million (€13m) – as the Portuguese giants see it as unrealistic.

 

ROUND-UP

- After Luis Suarez's arrival at Atletico Madrid, Diego Costa is linked with a move away. AS reports Paris Saint-Germain are considering a move for the forward, and it adds Atletico could look to replace him with free agent Edinson Cavani.

- Manchester City's transfer business in this window could be done. The Sun reports any plans for the Premier League side to bring in a left-back – either Bayern Munich's David Alaba or Ajax's Nicolas Tagliafico – are reliant on a late bid being received for Oleksandr Zinchenko.

- Are Bayern Munich looking for a back-up for star Robert Lewandowski? Sport Bild reports the Bundesliga champions want to sign Hoffenheim forward Andrej Kramaric. The Croatia international scored twice against Bayern in the Bundesliga on Saturday and is up to seven goals in three games in 2020-21.

- Tottenham are reportedly looking at Benfica striker Carlos Vinicius. Football.London says Spurs are hoping to loan the striker with an option to buy for £36.3m (€40m). Carlos Vinicius scored 24 goals in 47 games in all competitions last season.

- Staying at Spurs and Sky Sports reports Celtic have made an approach for Tottenham left-back Ryan Sessegnon. However, it says finances are problematic, while multiple Premier League clubs are also keeping an eye on Sessegnon.

- Andreas Pereira is set to leave Manchester United. Fabrizio Romano reports a deal between United and Lazio has been signed for a loan with option to buy for €27m (£24.5m).

Lazio head coach Simone Inzaghi hailed Andreas Pereira as a "quality" player as the Manchester United midfielder nears a move to Serie A.

Reports in Italy have suggested Lazio will look to sign Pereira on loan with an option to buy, having missed out on the chance to bring in David Silva.

Pereira, who has been at United since the age of 15, has fallen down the pecking order under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the arrival of Donny van de Beek is likely to limit his first-team chances further.

It looks likely Pereira will undergo a medical in the coming days ahead of a move to the Stadio Olimpico, and Inzaghi seems excited by the prospect of his arrival.

"I know him, he's a quality player who could help us a lot," Inzaghi said on Monday, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

"Right now, I don't want to talk about players who are not ours. We're fortunate to have [sporting director Igli] Tare, who knows how to do things. We'll see if he gets it done or not."

Pereira made 40 appearances in all competitions last season, scoring two goals, but he struggled to make a consistent impact under Solskjaer.

The 24-year-old has started only four Premier League games in 2020 and just one of those, a 4-0 defeat of Norwich City in January, ended in a victory for United.

Manchester United may be getting closer to finding a way to land Ajax star Donny van de Beek.

Van de Beek has been linked to numerous European giants after impressing with the Eredivisie outfit.

United are among them and the Premier League side could be ready to make a sacrifice to bring the Netherlands international to Old Trafford.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD FIND WAY TO LAND VAN DE BEEK

Manchester United will sell Andreas Pereira to bring in Van de Beek, according to the Mirror.

Van de Beek has been linked with the likes of Real Madrid, but United could beat the LaLiga giants to the midfielder.

The 23-year-old has managed double-digits in goals in three straight seasons, netting 10 times in 37 games in 2019-20.

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Old Trafford and Manchester United may keep Alexis Sanchez. On loan at Inter this season, Sanchez is contracted at United until 2022 and the Mirror says the Chile international could stay at the club if he accepts a squad role over being first choice.

- Barcelona are said to be struggling to find a suitor for Philippe Coutinho. Marca reports no clubs have made a move for the playmaker so far.

- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is being linked with an Arsenal exit. However, The Sun says the Premier League club are willing to sell Ainsley Maitland-Niles to fund a new contract for Aubameyang, or find the forward's replacement. Aubameyang's deal at Arsenal expires next year.

- Several clubs are reportedly eyeing RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano. Tuttosport says Arsenal are favourites to land the 21-year-old ahead of Milan. Staying at Arsenal and La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Justin Kluivert could join the club from Roma, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan – on loan at the Serie A club this season – heading permanently in the opposite direction.

- Speculation continues around Achraf Hakimi. Marca reports Bayern Munich are keeping an eye on the defender's situation, with the 21-year-old on loan at Borussia Dortmund from Real Madrid this season.

- Juventus could be preparing to sell Aaron Ramsey. The Mirror reports Tottenham are one of several clubs to have been offered the chance to sign the midfielder.

Manchester United midfielder Andreas Pereira is determined to play for Santos, even if it is much later in his career.

The 24-year-old has spoken previously of a wish to represent the Brazilian club, whose president admitted this month to having contacted the player personally.

Pereira has been at United since 2011 and had been a mainstay in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's plans this season, making 37 appearances in all competitions before the campaign was halted by the coronavirus pandemic.

While he remains keen to stay in Europe for now, with his United contract running until June 2023, Pereira yearns to win trophies with Santos before he retires.

He told Globo Esporte: "My whole family is from Santos. Since I was little, I grew up watching this. I was becoming a player and I always dreamed of playing for Santos, but I went to Manchester.

"I got older, then everyone said, 'Why won't you play for our Santos?' I want to go, but I can't now. I want to play football in Europe, and then I'll go.

"I want to go to Santos to win. I'm not going there to finish and to 'steal' money. I'm going to play well, so people say: 'Remember Andreas at Santos?'"

Pereira was born in Belgium and played for them at youth level before representing Brazil in the Under-20s.

He earned his first senior cap in a friendly against El Salvador in September 2018 but has not made an appearance for the Selecao since.

Pereira says Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has told him he would be welcome to switch allegiances, but the player insists he only ever wanted to play for Brazil.

"The Belgium coach spoke to me after I was called up. He asked what the situation was, if there was any chance I could play for Belgium," he said.

"I said that I'm Brazilian at heart, my family is Brazilian. I was born in Belgium but I never intended to play for Belgium. I never thought about that.

"He said that, if I don't feel happy one day, if they treat me in a way I don't like, they will always have open arms."

Santos president Jose Carlos Peres has reiterated his interest in Andreas Pereira after Yeferson Soteldo expressed his desire to join Manchester United.

Pereira is contracted to United until June 2023 and featured regularly for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer prior to the coronavirus pandemic leading to the suspension of football in the United Kingdom and across the globe.

Only Harry Maguire (41) and Fred (39) have made more appearances for the Red Devils this season than Pereira's 37.

The 24-year-old is a Santos supporter and said this week a move to the Paulista giants would leave him in tears.

Peres has been in touch with Pereira and hopes to make his dream a reality in the future.

"I have Andreas Pereira on WhatsApp and I have been talking to him," Peres told Gazeta Esportiva.

"He's done well at Manchester United. He will certainly the wear the club's [Santos] shirt one day."

Peres' comments came after Venezuela international Soteldo announced his intention to leave Santos at the end of the year.

Soteldo outlined his desire to help the club enjoy success in the Copa Libertadores and Campeonato Brasileiro before moving on with a career he hopes will someday take him to United.

"I want to finish this stage at Santos by December, win the Libertadores and whatever is possible and then take another step," Soteldo told 'El Drink Team' podcast.

"I always dreamed of playing for Manchester United. The dream remains intact. There are many steps to get there, but I feel I can.

"I want to go to Europe, but not to go and come back. I want to go and pursue my career with greater success. I feel prepared and I have to wait for the right moment to do it."

Manchester United look destined for the Europa League quarter-finals after cruising to a resounding 5-0 victory over LASK in the first leg of their last-16 tie in Linz on Thursday.

In a match that was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak, Odion Ighalo used his third start for United to take his tally for the club to four with a stunning effort in the 28th minute.

Ighalo then set up James to score his first goal since August, ending a run of 32 games and 2,527 minutes without hitting the back of the net in all competitions, before Juan Mata slid home a lovely pass from Fred.

Substitute duo Mason Greenwood and Andreas Pereira hit the back of the net within the space of 85 seconds in stoppage time to cap an impressive victory for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, who are now 11 unbeaten in all competitions.

The future of Lautaro Martinez could also have an impact on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Martinez is wanted by Barcelona and Real Madrid, while Aubameyang is reportedly eyeing an Arsenal exit.

Both players could be at different clubs in 2020-21.

 

TOP STORY – MARTINEZ OUT, AUBA IN?

Inter will look to replace Barcelona target Martinez with Arsenal star Aubameyang, according to Calciomercato.

Martinez has been heavily linked to LaLiga champions Barca as well as Real Madrid, Manchester United and Manchester City following his exploits for Inter.

The Daily Mail claims Arsenal are considering selling forward Aubameyang, who is out of contract in 2021, and he could be targeted by Inter should Martinez leave San Siro.

ROUND-UP

- Kepa Arrizabalaga is Chelsea's record signing but his future at Stamford Bridge is in doubt. El Chiringuito TV reports Chelsea have offered out-of-favour goalkeeper Kepa plus €30million (£25m) to Atletico Madrid for Jan Oblak.

Madrid are ready to offer €70m to Napoli for star midfielder Fabian Ruiz, claims Calciomercato. City and Barca are also reportedly looking to sign the Spaniard.

- Manchester Evening News writes that United have stepped up their interest in Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish. It comes as the Daily Express claims United are likely to offload Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira.

- Calciomercato says Inter are ready to battle Europe's elite for the signing of Gent star Jonathan David. The Canada international is wanted by the likes of United, Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal, Tottenham and Ajax.

Juventus hold an interest in Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar, according to Calciomercato. Aouar is an option for Juve should the Serie A champions fail in their efforts to sign either United midfielder Paul Pogba or Brescia's Sandro Tonali.

Each close-season transfer window has a defining 'saga' and everything points to the next revolving around Jadon Sancho and Manchester United.

Media reports began to circulate on Wednesday claiming Sancho is set to leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season, having emerged as one of world football's next great hopes since joining from Manchester City.

The England international seems likely to return home later this year and United are rumoured to be leading the chase, ready to pay £120million for his signature.

United's issues on the flanks are nothing new. For several years they have seemingly operated with a bizarre square-pegs-round-holes policy, assigning numerous players who clearly aren't wingers to wide roles.

We looked at the data to understand how Sancho stacks up with United's current attacking options.

A PROLIFIC CREATOR

It's difficult to imagine Sancho joining United and not having a swift and decisive impact. The only other genuine winger in their squad is Daniel James, and while the Wales international has enjoyed a solid debut season after a shock move, he has faded recently and clearly lacks a certain presence.

After Andreas Pereira (31), Fred (30) and Marcus Rashford (24), James (23) has created the most Premier League chances for United this term and his haul of six assists isn't matched by any of his team-mates.

By comparison, Sancho has laid on 47 opportunities for team-mates in the Bundesliga this season, the fifth-highest in the division, and his haul of 13 assists is the same amount as James, Anthony Martial and Rashford combined.

SUBTLETY IN THE FINAL THIRD

The United squad isn't exactly blessed with lots of physical attackers renowned for their aerial ability, which suggests hooking hopeful crosses into the box does not represent a fertile route to goal.

For the most part, United forwards aren't desperate to cross, with Pereira (28), Rashford (19) and Martial (7) often looking for alternative ways to penetrate the box, but James (79) is the 11th most-frequent crosser in the league, even if he's some way off Trent Alexander-Arnold (159).

Sancho fits in more with the former group, supplying only 22 crosses this season. Perhaps such a low figure is justified by the fact only five per cent were accurate.

Nevertheless, this does suggest Sancho is more subtle and deliberate with his creativity, and given he has crafted comfortably more chances and goals than the United contingent, it is difficult to argue he should alter his style.

A KEY INFLUENCE

As someone who creates so many opportunities, it wouldn't be unusual to expect Sancho to be somewhat wayward in possession, given the necessity to take risks.

But 80 per cent of his 496 passes into the final third have been accurate. Of the 284 Bundesliga players to play at least 50 passes into that part of the pitch, only 11 have greater accuracy than Sancho, though none of those attempted more than 308.

Martial, Fred, Mason Greenwood, Luke Shaw, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard have all been more accurate in the final third, but Sancho has attempted far more passes, while none of them have got anywhere close to the Dortmund star's chance creation record.

DEADLY WHEN IT MATTERS

Sancho's not just a creator, however.

As well as his 13 assists, Sancho has also chipped in with 12 Bundesliga goals this season, a figure bettered by only Robert Lewandowski (22) and Timo Werner (20).

Those 12 goals came from 37 attempts, meaning he is averaging almost a goal every three shots, comfortably better than Martial (17 per cent of 48 shots) and Rashford (19 per cent of 74 shots).

A complete player in attack, Sancho offers an all-round threat that United simply do not possess.

He also appears to be the ideal player for United stylistically, with his attributes and dynamism similar to the likes of Martial, Rashford and Greenwood, around whom club seem intent on building their future.

Will Sancho be the next to join that trio?

Manchester City have one foot in a third consecutive EFL Cup final after dispatching Manchester United 3-1 in the first leg of the semi-final at Old Trafford.

Beaten 2-1 by their local rivals in the Premier League a month ago, Pep Guardiola sprung a tactical surprise by starting with no recognised striker in a strong-looking line-up.

The move proved inspired as City tore through a United defence that was missing the injured Harry Maguire, with Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and an Andreas Pereira own goal putting them 3-0 up at the break.

Marcus Rashford got a goal back to give United a glimpse of hope ahead of the second leg in three weeks, but a first final since they won the competition in 2017 already looks beyond them.

After a cagey opening, Silva put City ahead in emphatic fashion, driving away from Fred and unleashing a ferocious strike from 25 yards that left David de Gea with no chance.

United had City on the ropes in the first half-hour of the league meeting at the Etihad Stadium, but Guardiola's side were firmly in control and largely untroubled by the threat of the counter-attack.

Their grip on the tie was strengthened 33 minutes in, when Victor Lindelof could not cut out Silva's throughball and Mahrez had time to round De Gea and finish.

A miserable first half for United got worse five minutes later, when the ball deflected off Pereira and into the net after Kevin De Bruyne left Phil Jones on the turf.

De Gea had to make a smart save with his right foot to stop Mahrez from adding a fourth, although City mostly eased off after the restart, and that relative complacency did allow United a lifeline.

De Bruyne's loose pass to Rodri was closed down by Angel Gomes, Mason Greenwood raced forward and played in Rashford to slot the ball beneath Claudio Bravo, giving the Red Devils something to hold onto ahead of the second leg.

What does it mean? Final beckons for City, but there is only more scrutiny on Solskjaer

United were outthought and outplayed in the first half and only a minor miracle in the second leg will see them turn the tie around and reach the final.

The home fans stuck by their team admirably in the second half but, with arguably their best chance of a trophy this season all but gone and with performances in 2020 far from adequate, how much longer will Solskjaer be given to implement his long-term vision?

Bernardo sets tone with blockbuster

Silva's goal was spectacular, but his assist for Mahrez was of an equally high quality. United simply did not know how to keep him in check.

Pereira out of his depth

Injuries mean United's midfield options are down to the bare minimum, but Pereira may have played anyway given the trust he has been given by Solskjaer. Such was his display here, his manager's faith may not last much longer.

What's next?

These two meet in the second leg on January 29. More immediately, United host Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday, while City head to Aston Villa a day later.

Andreas Pereira admits Manchester United are "desperate" to win a trophy this season and prove progress has been made under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Pereira helped United reach the EFL Cup semi-finals on Wednesday with a 3-0 victory over Colchester United at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils won that competition, along with the Europa League, in Jose Mourinho's first season in charge in 2016-17, but they have not lifted a trophy since.

With United already 24 points behind leaders Liverpool in the Premier League, the cup competitions once more represent their best chances of winning a first piece of silverware since Solskjaer took charge.

Pereira says the drive for success within the squad, particularly those players to progress from United's academy, is burning strongly this season as they look to show how they have improved since Solskjaer replaced Mourinho.

"We are desperate to get a trophy," he said. "Everybody at the academy is raised to win trophies.

"We have been winning trophies since the academy days and we want to do it now with the first team.

"We have evolved a lot. Mentally we are more patient, we work for each other more and more and we have more confidence on the pitch

"It is all the United way we play, on the counter-attack. We are very direct and the manager's played a massive part in that. Hopefully, we can keep that going and he can stay for many, many more years.

"We have to keep it going and keep this form."

Standing in United's way in the last four of the EFL Cup are holders Manchester City, whose last defeat in the competition came against United at Old Trafford in 2016.

United won 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium in the league this month and Pereira says they will approach the two-legged tie with no fear.

"It's a good game," he said. "We are up for it. We know it is difficult. Derbies are always special.

"We will never fear it, but the last game, we won, and now we have to look at it from a different perspective.

"It is a new game, a semi-final and they will come with something new because they know for sure they lost last time and they will do something different.

"We will prepare like we did last time and hopefully win."

Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial were to the fore once again as Manchester United saw off Brighton and Hove Albion 3-1 at Old Trafford to move back into the top half of the Premier League table.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men impressed in Thursday's 3-0 Europa League victory over Partizan Belgrade, which Martial and Rashford both scored in, and the forwards both played crucial roles again as a resilient Brighton were dispatched fairly comfortably.

United looked as though they were going to cruise to victory during the early exchanges, as they found themselves 2-0 up thanks to a couple of fortuitous goals from Andreas Pereira and Davy Propper, who beat his own goalkeeper.

Lewis Dunk pulled one back for Brighton just past the hour, but Rashford - set up by Martial - lashed in soon after to seal the points, though United arguably should have added several more goals, with the England star, Daniel James and Brandon Williams all going close.

United began with real purpose but were extremely fortunate to open the scoring in the 17th minute.

Pereira was guilty of overplaying on the counter and was dispossessed, but the ball came to Martial and he teed the Brazilian up again, with the eventual shot finding the net via a massive deflection.

The hosts were lucky again soon after, as Scott McTominay attempted to bundle over the line and Propper prodded it into his own net.

Chances came at both ends just past the hour – Mat Ryan unconvincingly knocking Fred's long-range effort on to the crossbar, before Dunk lost Pereira at a corner to emphatically head Brighton back into the contest.

Rashford restored the two-goal lead two minutes later, however, crashing an effort in off the crossbar after Martial teed his strike partner up.

An awful miss from Rashford was followed by saves to deny him, Williams and James, but Brighton were unable to make United rue their wastefulness.

A late ankle injury suffered by McTominay, which left the midfielder in considerable pain, was the only significant dampener on an otherwise fine day for the Red Devils.

 

What does it mean? United moving in the right direction

It has not been a straightforward start to the season, but in recent weeks United have shown signs of getting back to the side they were during Solskjaer's days as caretaker manager.

In that period, Rashford and Martial were vital and it is no surprise to see them central to most of what is good about United at the moment. While seventh place is hardly impressive, they are now just a point adrift of Sheffield United and Arsenal.

Fred finding his feet

This was arguably Fred's best performance in a United shirt. His passing was crisp, he moved the ball on quickly and played a role in two of the three goals. Perhaps he is not the dud many claimed he was.

Pereira out of his depth

While he did manage to score a goal, there was little to recommend in Pereira's performance. It remains something of a mystery how he manages to retain a place in the starting XI.

What's next?

United travel to high-flying Sheffield United next Sunday, while Brighton host Leicester City the day before.

There is a train of thought that Manchester United would be better off without Paul Pogba.

Move on from an inconsistent performer, cut your losses on your record signing, and perhaps United could benefit without 'the headache' of their World Cup-winning Frenchman.

Yet that theory gained little support on Saturday.

United, shorn of their only dynamic midfielder for a fourth successive Premier League game, reverted to type, displaying a lack of creativity and ideas in going down 1-0 to Bournemouth, whose winner was scored by Manchester United academy graduate Joshua King.

The Cherries had not kept a clean sheet prior to their last home game against Norwich City and yet their defence enjoyed a largely worry-free afternoon in the wind and rain.

A central-midfield three of Fred, Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira might have impressed in the win over Norwich City on Sunday, but the trio epitomised everything that is wrong with this United, producing ponderous, pedestrian play and failing to conjure up anything of note in an attacking sense.

Pereira was the chief culprit. The Brazilian made only 25 passes and completed just 60 per cent of them - the fewest of any outfield United player. The most damning statistic, though, was that he failed to complete one pass to his team's centre forward Anthony Martial.

His performance was not an anomaly. Pereira has scored just once and contributed only two assists in 30 Premier League appearances, while making four big chances and providing one throughball.

Given he turns 24 on New Year's Day, you have to wonder whether Pereira is ever going to be good enough for United.

His infuriating moments on Saturday included failing to beat the first man from a set piece and overhitting what should have been a routine pass to Martial as he approached the Cherries' penalty area.

And when Solskjaer looked to his bench to replace his underperforming midfielder 68 minutes in, his only real option was the woefully out-of-form Jesse Lingard - a man who is yet to have a shot on target, provide an assist or deliver a throughball this season.

Solskjaer had spoken of the "good relationship" Fred and McTominay have in the build up to this game, but neither man is known for their creativity or flair.

Fred at least tried to take the challenge on, creating more chances than anyone else on the pitch on Saturday, but in seven appearances this season he not scored, provided an assist or a big chance.

The problem is, without Pogba, who can make something happen in that United midfield?

Saturday's showing should serve as a cautionary tale for those wanting Pogba gone.

Manchester United players are as upset with recent results as supporters and will do everything possible to make amends against Liverpool, according to Andreas Pereira.

United head into Sunday's Premier League match still reeling from the 1-0 loss to Newcastle United that left them languishing in mid-table.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men have taken six points from a possible 21 since beating Chelsea on the opening weekend and, with David de Gea likely to join Paul Pogba on the sidelines, are expected to encounter more misery at Old Trafford.

But a battling win over Jurgen Klopp's high-flying European champions could get United's season back on course and buy manager Solskjaer more support from the terraces.

"We know the fans are hurting," Pereira told United's official matchday programme.

"The players and everyone at the club, here at the training ground, hurts. Me even more, because I'm a Manchester United fan and a player and I am here [training] every day. It hurts not getting the results.

"Everybody is doing their best to get it turned around and I am sure it will happen. Everyone is working hard, even harder, and sooner or later, when everyone is working hard, things get back to good ways.

"It's a perfect game against Liverpool, a perfect derby, and we have to build up for it."

Reds defender Virgil van Dijk described the Old Trafford clash as no more important to Liverpool than big Champions League games but midfielder Pereira had no interest in underselling the size of the occasion.

"I think it means a lot to us," he said. "It's one of the most important games of the year. It's the derby and we absolutely want to win this game.

"We will do absolutely everything to win it.

"I know we're not living the best moment right now and we're not getting results but I think it's a derby and it is always a different game.

He added: "We all want to do everything to win the game and it can be a nice bounce back and provide a nice lift for us to start getting results."

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