Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said his players are "looking more and more like a Manchester United team" after they secured third place in the Premier League on Sunday.

A Bruno Fernandes penalty and a late goal from Jesse Lingard - his first in the league since Solskjaer's first match as interim manager in December 2018 - sealed a 2-0 victory over Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.

The result means United finish on 66 points, above Chelsea on goal difference and four ahead of Leicester in fifth.

That marks a commendable turnaround in 2020, with a 2-0 loss to Arsenal on New Year's Day having left United 14 points and 20 goals behind the Foxes in the table.

Solskjaer described it as a "wonderful" achievement but was particularly proud that they set out to win a game in which a point would have been enough to secure Champions League qualification.

"I think the boys have done a great achievement," he told Sky Sports. "From where we were earlier on in the season to end up third is fantastic by them. They've taken on board so many things.

"We've had our ups and downs and it's come down to the last game. I have to say it's a wonderful achievement by everyone.

"It was not a classic, but really we want to learn to win games like this – games you need a result in

"It's been like a mini-tournament, this restart [since the coronavirus-enforced break], and it looks it as well. We're a bit tired and leggy. I think everyone can see we're not the same as we've been early on.

"But we had to go for it. We had to catch up so many points and so many goals and we've done it."

When asked how United had managed to haul back their deficit to the top four, Solskjaer replied: "I think these boys are looking more and more like a Man United team – the Man United way. You play with no fear, you go for it.

"Today, we could have sat back and tried to get a draw but it's not in our genes. It's not in the DNA of the club. We've just gone for it."

A return to the Champions League not only allows United to compete with Europe's elite again but also makes potential transfer business easier, with additional funds and the lure of playing at the highest level likely to make negotiations simpler.

Solskjaer is more excited at the prospect of pitting his developing side against the strongest opposition available.

"For this team, it means better opposition next year and bigger games. We need to step it up because it means every midweek you've got to go with your best team.

"In the Europa League, we've rested players and given an amount of minutes to young lads. Now, we've got to go for every game. You've got to go and get fitter and stronger and more robust.

"That's another part of Champions League, of course, financial gain. But that's not in my head. The club, they know what I feel we need and we're going to try and pursue it and let's see where we end up."

Harry Maguire vowed reaching the Champions League was only the start for this Manchester United team as the captain said standards must continue to rise.

A 2-0 win at Leicester City, Maguire's former club, on the final day of the Premier League season meant Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team finished in third position.

That had seemed a highly unlikely prospect at the start of the year, but the signing of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting CP in January transformed United's season.

Maguire pointed to that as a big factor in United's improvement, as he celebrated victory at the King Power Stadium.

"As a club we expect to be in the Champions League but the last few years have been tough," Maguire told Sky Sports.

"At the start of the season, the majority of people probably didn't expect us to be in the top four at the end of the season. We always had great faith in ourselves."

He added: "Next season we've got to keep improving."

Maguire said United had been "far too inconsistent, dropping silly points" early in the campaign.

"Performances weren't good enough in parts of the games and we were getting punished," said the England defender. "We've been a lot better of late and to come from the position we were in shows the great character that we've got in this group."

Maguire was asked what had changed about United, allowing them to surge up the table.

"It's hard to say. Obviously bringing Bruno in in January has made a big difference. He put us 1-0 up today," Maguire said.

Fernandes slotted a penalty home in the 71st minute, with Jesse Lingard sealing the points in stoppage time.

"Big players turn up in big moments," Maguire said. "It was a nervy, edgy game but we deserved the three points."

Leicester sat third when the Premier League resumed after its three-month suspension, triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

They fell away badly and finished fifth, and Maguire had sympathy for his old club, now led by Brendan Rodgers.

"To finish fifth in the Premier League for this club is a huge achievement – a great set of players and a great manager," Maguire said. "I'm sure they'll have a bright future."

A Bruno Fernandes penalty helped Manchester United to a 2-0 win over Leicester City to send Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side into the Champions League.

The Red Devils needed only a draw to guarantee they would finish above Leicester, who were left needing all three points due to Chelsea's 2-0 win over Wolves at Stamford Bridge.

It was talisman Fernandes who kept his cool on a nervy final day of the Premier League season at the King Power Stadium after Anthony Martial had been fouled by Jonny Evans, who was later sent off, with 19 minutes to go.

Leicester had half-chances throughout but could not find a way past David de Gea and their day was summed up by the late dismissal of Evans and a mistake by Kasper Schmeichel that allowed Jesse Lingard to seal the victory.

Wilfred Ndidi blasted over from a promising position after Nemanja Matic gave away the ball on the edge of his own box, with Leicester pressing United high in the early exchanges.

Kelechi Iheanacho should have done better when leading a three-on-two break but he scuffed a poor shot at De Gea rather than play a pass, with Jamie Vardy offside as he tried to pounce on the rebound.

Youri Tielemans placed a shot just wide before Marcus Rashford wasted United's best chance of the first half, blazing high and wide after Paul Pogba's bouncing ball had reached him.

United finally found some attacking rhythm in first-half stoppage time and only a good Kasper Schmeichel parry kept out Rashford's powerful half-volley.

A looping header from Vardy hit the top of the United crossbar as Brendan Rodgers brought on Ayoze Perez, knowing a goal was critical.

But when Hamza Choudhury lost possession to Mason Greenwood, Fernandes sent Martial through on goal and he was brought down by a combination of Wes Morgan and Evans, with Martin Atkinson awarding United a record 14th spot-kick in a single Premier League season.

Fernandes sent Schmeichel the wrong way to put United back into the Champions League for the first time since 2018-19.

Leicester's frustration boiled over in stoppage time when former United defender Evans was shown a red card for a tired lunge at substitute Scott McTominay, and Lingard made certain of matters when he tackled Schmeichel and slotted home his first league goal of the season in the 98th minute.
 

What does it mean? United complete unlikely comeback in top-four chase

With a 2-0 loss to Arsenal on January 1, United found themselves fifth, 14 points and 20 goals worse off than Leicester in second.

The fact they have finished the season above the Foxes - as well as Chelsea - highlights their improvement in 2020 and the problems Leicester have had with injuries and sustaining their form.

United are heading back to the Champions League then, but a Europa League spot and finishing above teams including Tottenham and Arsenal is not to be sniffed at for Leicester.

Maguire passes huge test on Leicester return

Booked after only nine minutes, Maguire generally marshalled the United defence well and cut out many attempted balls over the top for Vardy. He will be as thrilled as any United player to have snatched top four away from his old club.

Rashford needs a rest

Rashford missed a couple of openings in the first half and generally seemed off the pace, much as he has in the past two weeks. He looks like a player who will welcome a short break between now and the Europa League's return next month.

What's next?

Leicester may be done for the season, but United's Europa League campaign resumes against LASK at Old Trafford on August 5.

Harry Maguire accepted Paul Pogba's apology for conceding a costly penalty at home to West Ham but insisted Manchester United would offer no excuses at Leicester City on Sunday.

United climbed into the Premier League top four with a 1-1 draw against the Hammers on Wednesday, although they trailed to Michail Antonio's spot-kick after Pogba inexplicably handled inside his own area.

Mason Greenwood levelled for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side to ensure they now need only a point at fifth-placed Leicester in their final match of the campaign to clinch Champions League qualification.

Pogba's faux pas - described by Gary Neville as "embarrassing" - ultimately did not prove as pivotal as it might have, but United captain Maguire revealed the World Cup winner had apologised.

"It was soft," Maguire told Sky Sports. "You could say it's a natural reaction from Paul. Should he do it? He should probably take one in the face.

"But he's apologised in there, he's held his hands up, he knew he shouldn't do that.

"I think it's a natural instinct to protect yourself, protect your face. I haven't seen it back - I think it was his hands bang in front of his face.

"But it was soft because it's probably not ending up in a goal and you've given a penalty and they've got an amazing opportunity to take the lead."

With United winning just one of their past four matches while turning in increasingly ordinary displays, Maguire acknowledged a "ridiculous" schedule was taking its toll.

But the defender insisted United had not "run out of steam" and was confident they would deliver on the final day.

"We've got ourselves in a great position," Maguire added. "Six months ago, at Christmas, you'd have snapped someone's hand off to go to Leicester and have an amazing opportunity to get Champions League football, which we set out to do.

"So, we're ready. There's no excuses for us there to be tired. It's a big game - if you can't get up for that game then you're in the wrong sport."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refused to be drawn on whether he will drop David de Gea and says the under-fire goalkeeper has the mental strength to recover from his Wembley howler.

De Gea made a huge mistake to gift Mason Mount Chelsea's second goal in their 3-1 FA Cup semi-final victory on Sunday.

It is by no means the first time the Spain international has made such a mistake and there have been calls for Solskjaer to leave the 29-year-old out when United face West Ham in the Premier League on Wednesday.

The United manager was in no mood to disclose whether De Gea will keep his place against the Hammers as United go in search of a victory that would move them into the top four.

Asked if he faces a crucial decision on who will start between the posts at Old Trafford, Solskjaer said during a virtual press conference: "That's your job to talk about and write about and my job is to prepare a team for West Ham.

"We're not gonna talk about individuals because no one here will feel we put more pressure on them."

He added: "This is not going to become a David de Gea press conference, we’re just going to stick together. David's mentally strong enough to know his job is to perform in training the next day and be ready for the games."

Solskjaer revealed that Eric Bailly is set to miss the encounter with David Moyes' side after being taken to hospital with a head injury suffered during the loss to Chelsea.

Captain Harry Maguire is expected to be fit despite clashing heads with Bailly on a painful afternoon for United in London, while Luke Shaw (ankle) is poised to return.

"Eric stayed down in London for all the checks, he's done all the checks," Solskjaer said.

"I didn't see him yesterday and he followed the [concussion] protocols that are needed. I don’t think he'll be ready for this game, I've not seen him this morning yet.

"I think everyone is available apart from that. We've just got to stick together, stay strong, two games to go and we’ve given ourselves a good chance (of finishing in the top four)."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed Harry Maguire's "magnificent" contribution for Manchester United after the defender's winner against Norwich City.

Maguire tucked away a close-range winner in the 118th minute as United recorded a 2-1 win at Carrow Road on Saturday to reach the FA Cup semi-finals.

An £80million signing from Leicester City last year, Maguire helped United stretch their unbeaten run to 14 games in all competitions and Solskjaer was full of praise for his captain.

"Harry has been magnificent since he's come to the club," the United manager told a news conference.

"His leadership skills are there to be seen, he helps us with the build-up and I think he won every header and every single challenge, so I'm very pleased with Harry."

After Todd Cantwell cancelled out Odion Ighalo's opener, Norwich were reduced to 10 men when Timm Klose was sent off in the 89th minute.

United used Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood off the bench and Solskjaer was pleased with the contributions of his substitutes, with Brandon Williams and Nemanja Matic also coming on during the clash.

"I thought Anthony came on and did really well. I think he made the little bit of difference," Solskjaer said.

"He made runs down the channels, he made some great sprints, he was direct and positive.

"When you're against 10 men, we spoke about it at full-time that we had 30 minutes, we don't have to panic, we just have to keep prodding and chances will come and we need to take them. All the subs played their part."

Sixth in the Premier League, United visit Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday.

Captain Harry Maguire scored a late extra-time winner to secure Manchester United's place in the FA Cup semi-finals with a 2-1 victory at Norwich City.

United forward Odion Ighalo and Norwich midfielder Todd Cantwell scored with their respective sides' first shots on target as an entertaining second half followed a forgettable first.

Norwich took the contest to extra time despite seeing Timm Klose receive a straight red card in the 89th minute.

The game looked destined to be decided by penalties but Maguire popped up in the 118th minute to book United's place in the last four at Wembley.

 

 

Harry Maguire has got his sights set on becoming the first outfield player to complete every minute of a Premier League campaign for Manchester United since the 1994-95 season.

The England defender is aiming to follow in the footsteps of fellow centre-back Gary Pallister, who managed two ever-present seasons with United.

United face Maguire's former club Sheffield United on Wednesday and still have seven top-flight games to play after that.

But even with a packed fixture list, truncated by the coronavirus-enforced shutdown, skipper Maguire is hopeful of being involved throughout as United chase Champions League qualification and he looks to equal a feat achieved by Pallister in 1992-93 and 1994-95.

"Yes, it's going to be hard work with games coming every three days or so," he told the club's matchday programme.

"But, no, I'm in a great position – physically and, mentally, I'm fresh and ready to go. I hope, with every player coming back, we don't want anyone to pick up any injuries due to the amount of games we have coming up.

"Fingers crossed for all players out there – we don't want anybody picking up injuries so there are fully fit squads and everyone going full throttle at it, playing football. It's what we love to do.

"I've seen, on Sky, the fixtures and how many games are being shown every day really, so it's going to be a great time for the fans to sit back and watch.

"They will be disappointed they can't go to stadiums to support the lads, but it's the best we can do at the minute.

"I am sure it will still be a great time for fans and, hopefully, for the players as well."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side marked their return to action with a 1-1 draw at Tottenham and face another potential top-four rival on Wednesday.

Chris Wilder's men have stumbled in their first two games back, drawing with Aston Villa and suffering a 3-0 loss against Newcastle United.

The Red Devils sit fifth, five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and two ahead of the Blades, with whom they drew 3-3 at Bramall Lane.

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire warned his team-mates they must improve when the Red Devils go head-to-head with Sheffield United in a blockbuster Premier League showdown.

United – fifth in the standings – will welcome seventh-placed Sheffield United to Old Trafford on Wednesday, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men two points better off in the race for Champions League qualification.

Maguire and United are two points behind Chelsea, who occupy the fourth and final Champions League spot after Friday's 1-1 draw at Jose Mourinho's Tottenham.

United have already faced Sheffield United this season, playing out a thrilling 3-3 draw at Bramall Lane in November following Oli McBurnie's 90th-minute equaliser and Maguire has called for an improved performance.

"It was a crazy game," Maguire, who played for boyhood club Sheffield United between 2011 and 2014, told The United Review. "We were really poor in the first half. No doubt about it, it was one of our poorest first halves of the season.

"We managed to find ourselves two goals down but then got in a great position and looked like we were going to win.

"They didn't really create any chances in the last 20 or 30 minutes of the game and then, obviously with the last kick, they found space and it was a good finish from Oli McBurnie.

"In the end, it was a tough result to take but I don't think we deserved any more on the day than a point. We weren't good enough and know we have to perform better in this game."

The Blades' visit to the Theatre of Dreams will be the first at Old Trafford behind closed doors following the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's disappointing not to play in front of your fans but, one day, they'll be back," said England defender Maguire. "And, when they're back, I am sure the atmosphere is going to be even better and louder than it normally is at Old Trafford – if you can beat that.

"We're going to miss the fans. Home and away, they follow in great numbers and the support is incredible. But we know they're going to be in front of their TV screens, watching us, shouting us along, and the main thing is we want to put smiles back on their faces."

United have gone 12 matches undefeated in all competitions since losing to Burnley in January and Maguire added: "Maybe it does take away the home fans making the atmosphere uncomfortable for the away team, but it's still about the 11 players who turn up on the day.

"There is enough talent in our squad to go and beat anyone. We're fully focused on ourselves and are not looking at it being home or away. We're just seeing every game as a chance to try to get the three points and perform at our best."

Roy Keane said he was "sick to death" of David de Gea and "staggered" by Harry Maguire after their part in Steven Bergwijn's first-half goal for Tottenham against Manchester United.

The Red Devils went 1-0 down in north London in their first Premier League match since the coronavirus pandemic forced the competition to be suspended in March.

A simple long ball headed away by Luke Shaw came to Bergwijn, who ran straight past Maguire before firing a shot at De Gea that the United keeper failed to parry away.

Former captain Keane was left furious with the manner of the goal and claimed he would not have allowed them to travel home with the team if he were still playing.

"I'm shocked at that goal," he said at half-time on Sky Sports. "To give away that goal… I'm fuming here watching Manchester United.

"I can't believe Shaw, heading the ball up in the air and then running forward. I'm staggered at Maguire, staggered that an international player can just get done like that.

"And I'm sick to death of this goalkeeper. I would be fighting him at half-time. I would be swinging punches at that guy.

"This is a standard save for an established international goalkeeper. I am flabbergasted.

"Maguire and De Gea – I wouldn't even let them on the bus after the match. Get a taxi back to Manchester. They are established international players. We can analyse this until the cows come home. You just do your job.

"We are trying to get in the top four here, not win leagues. God forbid about winning trophies. I'm disgusted with it. Maguire, De Gea, you should hang your heads in shame."

Keane added of De Gea, who made a fine one-handed save to stop Son Heung-min making it 2-0: "He is the most overrated goalkeeper I have seen in a long time."

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire said he felt "so safe" as the Premier League giants returned to training amid the coronavirus pandemic.

United were back at Carrington on Wednesday after Premier League teams received the green light to resume training via small groups on Tuesday.

The 2019-20 Premier League season has been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 crisis – United were fifth and three points outside of the Champions League places through 29 games.

Maguire was delighted to be back training with the club, telling United's official website: "It's been a strange few months, but it has been a protocol which the club has followed. It seems such a safe environment.

"It's our first day back today, but it seems so safe and everyone is respecting it so well, so long may that continue and I'm sure no one will have any problems."

"There is a lot less people at the training ground when we go in," Maguire said. "Today [Wednesday] I was in a group of four, working with one coach, so not many people. You've got a lot space, big areas, not going really close to anyone, but the main thing is getting the work in and it was a tough session, [then] go home and now I'm relaxed and it's all in the bank and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

Maguire added: "The safety, it seems really well organised. We all got tested before we came in, so everyone in the changing room has a negative test.

"Every morning we get our temperature taken before we get to the training ground, so obviously they're checking the temperature. We all have an app where we fill in to see if we've had any symptoms throughout the day. It's such a safe environment and it's an environment which is there to be built on. At the moment we're all just taking it phase by phase, step by step, and that's the only thing we can do at the moment.

"I think it's just taking it day by day. Like I said, the main thing is getting the physical work into our legs and it helps you mentally as well: being at the training ground and seeing familiar faces."

The Premier League season could restart in June and Maguire said: "Well, first and foremost, it's the first step. I think at this moment in time we've just got to take it step by step. We're in phase one, let's get through this phase without any troubles.

"I'm sure with the way things are set up and organised that should be done and then hopefully we can move into phase two and go from there. It's step by step, it's day by day. It's only the first day, but it's been a good start for me. To see the organisation has been really pleasing."

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire labelled Marcus Rashford the most talented player he has ever played with.

Rashford, 22, was enjoying a fine season, scoring 19 goals in 31 games, before suffering a serious back injury in January.

The England forward has continued to improve and Maguire lauded his United team-mate's talent.

"I think as a club, you should have a captain and rely on him, but you need to spread the onus of the leadership in the group," the defender told UTD Podcast.

"Marcus is there and he battles through every game. Obviously he's had a bad injury but he's battling hard to get back. He very rarely misses games.

"He's always wanting to make himself available. I think you can see around the place, on and off the field as well, he's excellent with his charity work, which is great to see.

"On the pitch, like I said, he's amazed me. He's the most talented player I've ever played with."

Rashford, who also has 10 goals in 38 games for England, was enjoying his most prolific campaign for United, reaching double-digits in the Premier League for the second straight season.

While Maguire hailed his team-mate, he was wary of putting too much pressure on Rashford.

"I've always spoken so highly of Marcus when I have been with him in the England squad. I can't speak highly enough of him. I think he's going to go on to have an exceptional career," he said.

"I don't want to put too much pressure on him but I think he's going to be a wonderful player for Manchester United, as he is now.

"He's the best six-a-side player I've played with. Marcus is in my team and I know he'd be banging in goals left, right and centre."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been key to most of the improvements that have been made at Manchester United since Jose Mourinho left, according to Luke Shaw.

Solskjaer was brought in as Mourinho's replacement on a temporary basis in December 2018, but after inspiring a significant upturn in form, he was given a full-time contract in March.

Performances and results dipped dramatically from then until the end of last season and issues seemed to remain at the start of 2019-20, but United had hit their best run of form since Solskjaer's appointment before the coronavirus pandemic led to a suspension in March.

United were unbeaten in 11 matches across all competitions, a run that included two wins over Manchester City, a 2-0 defeat of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and back-to-back 5-0 triumphs in the Europa League against Club Brugge and LASK.

Shaw – who has been at Old Trafford since 2014 – highlighted the unity that has developed in the squad, suggesting it has been even more evident during the lockdown.

"It's great to see everyone helping each other out," he said in a diary entry on United's official website. "Carras [Michael Carrick, first-team coach] was on the group call the other day, praising us for looking after ourselves because everybody looks the same [in terms of physical assessments] as before lockdown, so he's happy.

"Everyone's working hard, we're pushing each other with our runs and helping each other out. Hopefully everyone can be back working together at the training ground soon.

"There really is a great feel about this group of lads now, and that has been the case for a while. I've seen a lot of changes during my time at United and I have to say that Ole has been responsible for a large amount of the improvements around the place.

"When he came in, he knew what was needed, what had to change to get things up and running again. He's signed people who aren't just good players, but also really good lads as well. They've integrated in the squad really well and brought a bit more energy and togetherness in the group."

Harry Maguire has been credited with having a particularly impressive impact off the pitch, with the pre-season signing from Leicester City already becoming club captain following Ashley Young's move to Inter in January.

Shaw feels Maguire's efforts have been focused on creating a better mentality in the group, with players agreeing to a code of conduct that sees them accept a fine if they miss bonding activities.

"He [Maguire] is really trying to make sure we get more things done together as a group going forward," Shaw continued. "Young was brilliant, really tried his hardest, but sometimes it was difficult to get things done as a group.

"Now we've made a pact that whenever a team bonding thing happens, we all have to do it or we get fined. It's great for the team to be together and do things together.

"In some groups, sometimes, there are people who just don't get on, which is natural when you've got big groups, but I honestly believe that in our squad everyone gets on really well.

"We all love each other, we all want to push each other to be the best and, of course, to get United as a club back to where it needs to be."

Saturday should have seen Barcelona host Atletico Madrid in LaLiga and pit Antoine Griezmann against his old club once more.

Griezmann left Atleti for Camp Nou in the second most expensive transfer of the previous close season, his €120million move eclipsed only by Joao Felix, the man bought to replace him.

Neither player has exactly enjoyed a resoundingly triumphant season, which is an affliction to hit many of the top 10 most expensive transfers of 2019.

We look at each of those players and whether their signings have, until now, been a hit or a miss...

 

JOAO FELIX: Benfica to Atletico Madrid (€126m)

Benfica and Portugal's golden boy scored in pre-season victories over Juventus and Real Madrid to give Atleti fans reason to believe the post-Griezmann future was bright.

However, just six goals in 28 competitive appearances later, doubts have been growing as to whether the 20-year-old forward will ever truly suit Diego Simeone's system.

VERDICT: MISS

ANTOINE GRIEZMANN: Atletico Madrid to Barcelona (€120m)

Griezmann vowed to stay at Atletico in 2018 only to change his mind a year later, and his performances for Barca are in keeping with a man not quite at ease in his surroundings.

Only Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez better his goal involvements for the Blaugrana in LaLiga this term (eight goals and four assists), while he is second only to Messi for chances created (26), but fans were entitled to expect more from the club's latest mega-money forward.

VERDICT: MISS

EDEN HAZARD: Chelsea to Real Madrid (€100m)

Chelsea fans feared the worst when their star man was lost during a transfer embargo, but things have hardly gone swimmingly for Hazard at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Injury problems have restricted him to just nine starts and a solitary goal and assist in LaLiga. He has also only created 14 chances, as many as James Rodriguez (who has started just four league games) and Lucas Vazquez (who has started six).

VERDICT: MISS

HARRY MAGUIRE: Leicester City to Manchester United (€87m)

The world's most expensive central defender might not be thought of as the world's best, but that should not detract from his impact on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

He leads the way for duels won, aerial duels won, blocks and interceptions among United defenders in the Premier League this season, helping them to eight clean sheets. Oh, and he's already been made club captain.

VERDICT: HIT

MATTHIJS DE LIGT: Ajax to Juventus (€85m)

The most coveted centre-back of the window after Ajax's remarkable Champions League run, De Ligt delivered a dreadful performance on his Juventus debut in a 4-3 win over Napoli.

He has won the most aerial duels and has the pass success rate of any Juve defender to feature more than five times in Serie A this term, but there are already doubts about his long-term suitability to Maurizio Sarri's side.

VERDICT: MISS

LUCAS HERNANDEZ: Atletico Madrid to Bayern Munich (€80m)

Bayern smashed their transfer record to sign defender Hernandez, but injuries have made it difficult to assess whether the money will prove to be well-spent.

A knee problem in September was followed by a serious ankle injury that kept him out for nearly four months, meaning he has started only nine games in all competitions for the Bundesliga champions.

VERDICT: MISS

NICOLAS PEPE: Lille to Arsenal (€80m)

Pepe was something of a symbol of Unai Emery's problematic final few weeks in charge as he struggled badly to find form for the Gunners.

He has certainly shown signs of improvement in 2020 – only Mesut Ozil (38) has created more chances in the league than Pepe (34) for Arsenal – but fans will have hoped for more from their record signing.

VERDICT: MISS

FRENKIE DE JONG: Ajax to Barcelona (€75m)

Another Ajax star who became coveted by clubs across Europe last year, De Jong opted for Barca and immediately became a regular in midfield.

He has not quite adapted to life in LaLiga - Ernesto Valverde's exit and Quique Setien's arrival as coach did not help - but, in turbulent times for the club, he looks to be a safe bet as the beating heart of Barca for years to come: he had created more chances (24) than any other Barca midfielder this term and only Sergio Busquets has more recoveries and interceptions.

VERDICT: HIT

RODRI: Atletico Madrid to Manchester City (€70m)

Manchester City's record signing has proved a smart bit of a business given midfield-anchor supreme Fernandinho has spent much of this season in defence.

Rodri has attempted more passes (1,996), recorded a better passing accuracy (92 per cent) and more recoveries (181) than any other City midfielder in 2019-20. He looks very much at home in Pep Guardiola's system.

VERDICT: HIT

ROMELU LUKAKU: Manchester United to Inter (€65m)

Lukaku's move to Inter seems to have been that rarity in modern-day transfers: a deal that has worked out well for everyone concerned.

United's attack is taking the more fluid shape Solskjaer wants, Antonio Conte at last got the forward he tried to bring to Juventus and Chelsea, and Lukaku has looked in the form of his career, with 17 goals and two assists in Serie A as part of a fearsome partnership with Lautaro Martinez.

VERDICT: HIT

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