Manchester United forward Edinson Cavani has goals and silverware on his mind after moving to Old Trafford on deadline day.

Cavani joined struggling Premier League giants United as a free agent before the transfer window closed, having been a free agent following his release by Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain in June.

The 33-year-old arrives in Manchester as PSG's all-time leading goalscorer, while only Lionel Messi (432) and Cristiano Ronaldo (416) have scored more goals in Europe's top five leagues since Cavani (250) debuted for Palermo in 2007.

"I hope I can score plenty, and I'll be working hard towards doing that," Cavani told the club's official website. "As I said earlier, I'm coming here with a real desire to work hard and to prepare, and to be available for my team-mates and to the manager for selection.

"I want to be able to take all that effort and hard work out onto the pitch, and together be able to achieve great things, big things with Manchester United. I'm so keen and excited to get playing and competing again, and God willing, I can score goals, which is pretty important for everybody and also for me, as a striker.

"For the fans, for everyone. So, as I said, I'm dying to start training so I can be ready to be scoring goals, so we can all enjoy them and have some good times together."

Cavani, who scored four goals in 14 Ligue 1 games for PSG last season, added: "I see myself as a team player. I'm the first one to believe that we all need each other's help. And that always, when you work as a team, you can make it easier to succeed and to achieve your objectives.

"I don't think there's anything greater than being able to run hard for your team-mate or being able to do stuff for your team-mate. Or being able to help each other out or being able to make that run for your team-mate when they need it and only you are available to do it. Because for me, the end result of all this is getting the victory, that's when we can all enjoy it. I like this way of thinking, and that's how I live the game of football.

"For me that's what the game is all about, it's a combination of different things blended together as one; and for that there has to be team spirit out on the pitch, there has to be commitment, and well, that's what I try to do. As a striker I often have to convert chances, by finishing off a move. And sometimes I can miss. Because on occasions, we strikers can have the entire goal at our mercy, but we can mess up.

"But equally, my thoughts and beliefs have always been the same as I mentioned before, thinking of the group as a whole, playing as a team and winning altogether."

United have lost two of their opening three Premier League fixtures this term following a humiliating 6-1 defeat to Tottenham prior to the international break.

The embattled club will return to action against Newcastle United on October 17.

Marcus Rashford received a "special applause" in England training on Saturday after he was awarded an MBE for his fight against child hunger in the United Kingdom, Gareth Southgate revealed.

It was confirmed on Friday that Rashford had been named on the 2020 Queen's Birthday Honours list for services to vulnerable children in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Manchester United and England striker successfully lobbied the government to continue its policy of providing free school meals for underprivileged children into the summer months, ensuring vouchers would stay available.

The 22-year-old also partnered with the charity FareShare and assisted in the raising of £20million to help provide free meals amid the pandemic, while he has worked with supermarkets and food brands to create a taskforce focused on the tackling of child food poverty.

In an acceptance statement posted to his social media channels on Friday, Rashford spoke of his pride at the achievement but continued to put pressure on prime minister Boris Johnson to extend the voucher scheme.

His England team-mates and Southgate applauded him as training started on Saturday, with the manager left astonished by Rashford's impact and social conscience.

"Firstly, it's an amazing achievement, it's wonderful for him and his family for the recognition, but he didn't start this for recognition," Southgate said on Saturday.

"He started it because it was something he was affected by and something he cared passionately about and for someone of his age to be able to make the difference he has is phenomenal.

"We are all very proud of him. We gave him a special round of applause this morning because, as a group, we are very close.

"We've watched him grow up – I say grow up, he's still only 22, so… You can only marvel at what he's achieved and the difference he's made to kids who will understand and kids who don't yet understand but will be incredibly grateful in years to come."

Edinson Cavani is ready and willing to impart his wisdom on Manchester United's young forwards after joining on a free transfer but pointed out it is up to them how much they learn from him.

Cavani, 33, joined United on transfer deadline day after emerging as a surprise target just a few days earlier, despite being released by Paris Saint-Germain at the end of June.

United previously appeared set on bolstering their attacking options on the right flank rather than adding a centre-forward, which made Cavani's arrival even more surprising.

Nevertheless, with Odion Ighalo – back-up to Anthony Martial – struggling for form since the Premier League returned in June, Cavani will be expected to keep the Frenchman, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood on their toes.

Although his final season with PSG was disappointing, scoring four times in 14 Ligue 1 games, Cavani still departed the club as their all-time leading goalscorer.

He has been backed to pass on some of his experience to United's three main forwards and Cavani is certainly willing, though he feels how much they benefit it is up to them.

When asked if he feels he can help Martial, Rashford and Greenwood with advice, Cavani told United's website: "Look, I don't think that there's any better advice than simply working hard on a football pitch or in a training session, because you don't win any game by just turning up and walking out on the field.

"You start to win the game during the training sessions, you start to win the game by how you prepare for it. For that you need to start working before the game in the days leading up to it.

"I think you can sometimes, through your ability, demonstrate certain things by example, without even needing to speak, but I think this can depend on each individual and the desire that they have to grow and improve as a player and how much they really want to win and to compete.

"I'm coming here to do my very best, and I'm here to offer a little bit of my experience to the squad, to the manager, and I'm ready and willing to do the very best I can, and to give the best that I can give.

"So, that's kind of my aim as I arrive here, very keen to make myself available to my team-mates. After that it depends on each individual, what they want to take on board and what they want to leave alone. That's a bit like how I see football."

Since Cavani made his Palermo debut in March 2007, only Lionel Messi (432) and Cristiano Ronaldo (416) have scored more goals in Europe's top five leagues than the Uruguayan (250).

But he faces a fight to become United's main striker, as the dynamic Martial made the spot his own last season with 17 in the Premier League.

Cavani has been handed a boost in his hopes to establish himself early on, however, as Martial is suspended for United's next three league matches after the international break due to the red card he received for hitting Erik Lamela in the face in last week's 6-1 humiliation by Tottenham.

The 2020-21 season has only just started but Lionel Messi's future is dominating headlines once again.

Messi wanted to leave Barcelona, but he decided to remain at the embattled LaLiga giants.

Manchester City, who were reportedly tipped to lure Messi to England, are still dreaming of his arrival.

 

TOP STORY – CITY NOT GIVING UP ON MESSI

Manchester City are lining up a move for Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi at the end of the season, reports the Manchester Evening News.

Messi handed in a transfer request prior to the 2020-21 season getting underway and Premier League giants City were favourites to sign the six-time Ballon d'Or winner before he opted to stay.

Pep Guardiola and City, however, remain interested in Messi and will be in a position to land the Barca captain should the opportunity arise next year.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United have identified a list of potential defensive reinforcements that includes RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano and Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, according to The Athletic.

- Fabrizio Romano says goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen's new Barcelona contract until 2025 will be confirmed soon. The 28-year-old's current deal is due to expire in 2022.

- Le10sport claims Paris Saint-Germain are considering a loan move for Inter midfielder Christian Eriksen, who has struggled to establish himself since joining from Tottenham in January.

West Ham are prepared to double Declan Rice's wages to fend off interest from London rivals Chelsea, reports The Sun.

- Tuttosport says Serie A champions Juventus are hoping to rival Madrid for Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga next year. Madrid have identified teenage midfielder Camavinga as a prime target, but Juve feel that by loaning Daniele Rugani to Rennes, it will help build a relationship with the Ligue 1 side.

- Calciomercato reports Lazio and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are facing a decisive season. The Serbia international has been previously linked to the likes of PSG, United, Inter, Juve and Madrid.

Marcus Rashford vowed to continue the fight against child hunger in the United Kingdom after the Manchester United forward was awarded an MBE.

The England international has been named on the 2020 Queen's Birthday Honours list for services to vulnerable children in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic.

Rashford successfully lobbied the government to continue its policy of providing free school meals for underprivileged children into the summer months, ensuring vouchers would stay available.

The 22-year-old also partnered with FareShare and helped to raise £20million to help provide free meals to those in need amid the pandemic, while he has since worked with supermarkets and food brands to create a taskforce with the aim of tackling child food poverty.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Rashford spoke of his pride but called on prime minister Boris Johnson to extend the free meals scheme.

"I'm incredibly honoured and humbled. As a young, black man from Wythenshawe, never did I think I would be accepting an MBE, never mind an MBE at the age of 22," Rashford wrote. 

"This is a very special moment for myself and my family, but particularly my mum who is the real deserving recipient of the honour. 

"The fight to protect our most vulnerable children is far from over. I would be doing my community, and the families I have met and spoken with, an injustice if I didn't use this opportunity to respectfully urge the prime minister, who recommended me for this honour, to support our children during the October half-term with an extension of the voucher scheme, as the furlough scheme comes to an end and we face increased unemployment. 

"Another sticking plaster, but one that will give the parents of millions of children in the UK just one less thing to worry about. 

"Let's stand together in saying that no children in the UK should be going to bed hungry. As I have said many times before, no matter your feeling or opinion, not having access to food is NEVER the child's fault."

Edinson Cavani claims he received plenty of offers before accepting the chance to join an "incredible" club in Manchester United.

The 33-year-old striker, who left Paris Saint-Germain when his contract expired in June, completed a deadline-day move to United on a one-year deal with the option of a second.

The Uruguayan was one of four players to move to Old Trafford hours before the transfer window closed, as United, who had been hammered 6-1 at home by Tottenham a day earlier, also brought in Alex Telles, Facundo Pellistri and Amad Traore, who will arrive in January.

Cavani admitted he had considered retirement this year but now cannot wait to begin his career in the Premier League.

"I feel very motivated and I'm really keen to get started training with my team-mates," he told the club's website. 

"But the best thing about it is that the club have shown their confidence in me by wanting to bring me in. I was really keen to come here. I'm very motivated by the idea of joining this great club.

"We did have a lot of different options, [even] at a time when things aren't so easy, neither in sport nor in the world in general. I was very attracted by the chance to play in English football, and what's more, for Manchester United, so that was a really big attraction for me, and a huge motivation too, because I feel that I still have a big desire to compete, to work hard and to give the best of myself.

"It's my chance to come to the Premier League, which is a very attractive league to play in, and it's right up there with the best leagues anywhere in the world.

"For me, that's a real honour, an honour and a new challenge, which really excites me a lot, and I cannot wait to be able to start to feel what it's like to play in the Premier League.

"The English league represents something really special, but I think what Manchester United represents on a worldwide scale is just incredible, so I'm really looking forward to being able to experience it for myself – the feeling of pulling on that shirt and going out on the pitch to wear it with pride."

Cavani consulted former PSG team-mates Ander Herrera and Angel Di Maria, both previously of United, when the Red Devils made their approach.

"I spoke with Ander a lot, as well as other team-mates, like Angel Di Maria, who I was also with at Paris," he said. "It was genuinely getting to the last minute and I called Ander to have a chat.

"I have a lot of admiration for Ander, for the kind of person he is and I had the feeling that his words were going to help me out, by telling me a bit about what it was like at United. And so, yes, it's true that after I'd finished talking with Ander, we came to an agreement here with the club."

Cavani has been handed United's fabled number seven shirt, previously worn by stars including George Best, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"When you get the chance to pull on the number seven shirt at Manchester United, which has been worn by some top, top players who have been legends here in this country and at this club, it really is a nice responsibility to have," he added.

"I enjoy challenges and, as I said to you, I hope that I can do it great justice and leave it in as high regard as the many great players who have worn this shirt before me."

Eric Bailly insisted he was just suffering from tiredness when substituted on international duty after clutching his hamstring. 

The Manchester United defender sparked fears he could be set for another spell on the sidelines when he sat on the ground and grabbed the back of his leg during Ivory Coast's 1-1 draw with Belgium on Thursday. 

Bailly was withdrawn in the 70th minute as his country ended Belgium's run of 12 straight wins. 

However, the 26-year-old stressed there was no major issue. 

"Thanks for worrying about me," he wrote on Instagram. 

"But I feel perfectly fine, just fatigue." 

Bailly may therefore be involved against Japan on Tuesday before returning to United, whose next game is a trip to Newcastle United on October 17. 

The centre-back has been hampered by injuries throughout his time at United, with long stints out due to ankle and knee issues in recent years. 

He made only one Premier League start in 2019-20, but last month United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer suggested Bailly would have a much bigger role to play this term. 

Bailly was selected in the starting line-up before the international break when United suffered a 6-1 loss to Tottenham at Old Trafford.

Eduardo Camavinga is one of Europe's hottest talents.

The 17-year-old's stock continues to rise following his exploits for Rennes and France.

Will Real Madrid be able to land him?

 

TOP STORY – MADRID CHASING CAMAVINGA

Rennes star Eduardo Camavinga remains Real Madrid's transfer objective, according to AS.

Madrid were desperate to sign Camavinga during the off-season but the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic prevented the LaLiga champions from doing so.

As Camavinga continues to star following his France debut and first international goal, Madrid remain determined to prise the teenager from Rennes before someone else does in 2021, when in which they plan to target Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe.

 

ROUND-UP

Milan have opened contract negotiations with star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and in-form midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu, reports Calciomercato. Donnarumma has previously been linked to the likes of PSG, Chelsea and Juventus.

- Radio Radio claims former Juve head coach Massimiliano Allegri has met with Roma's owners amid doubts over Paulo Fonseca's future in the Italian capital. Ralf Rangnick also been linked to Roma. Ex-Juve boss Maurizio Sarri has also reportedly emerged as a target for Roma and Fiorentina.

Manchester City have made progress with Kevin De Bruyne regarding contract talks, says The Times. City want to offer the Belgian star a new five-year deal.

Tottenham are confident of signing Swansea City centre-back Joe Rodon before the October 16 domestic deadline, reports the Evening Standard. Spurs were heavily linked with Inter star Milan Skriniar. Wales international Rodon has also caught the attention of Manchester United.

- Sky Sports says West Ham are interested in signing Bournemouth forward Joshua King. The Norway international was close to joining United in January.

- El Chiringuito TV claims Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has no intention of bringing in Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund

Paul Pogba dreams of playing for Real Madrid and has had no discussions about extending his Manchester United contract.

United shelled out a then-world record £89million to sign Pogba back from Juventus in 2016 but the France international has struggled to match the lofty expectations placed upon him.

The 27-year-old enjoyed an impressive 2018-19 season, scoring 13 goals and supplying nine assists in 35 Premier League appearances – his best return in a single top-flight campaign.

However, he has struggled with injuries since, being involved in four goals (one scored, three assisted) in 19 league appearances since the start of 2019-20.

Pogba expressed a desire for a new challenge ahead of that campaign but a move away from Old Trafford is yet to materialise.

A return to Juventus and a switch to Madrid have been mooted, and Pogba would relish the chance to play for LaLiga's champions.

"All footballers would love to play for Real Madrid. It is a dream for me. Why not one day?" said Pogba while on international duty with France on Thursday.

"[But] I am in Manchester and I love my club. I perform in Manchester, I have fun and I want to do everything to put the club back where it deserves to be.

"I will give my all, like my team-mates and the club. We all want to come back to the best level."

Pogba was part of France's World Cup-winning squad in 2018 but has only lifted the Europa League and EFL Cup since returning to United.

His contract at Old Trafford is due to expire in June, though there is an option for it to be extended by a further year.

Pogba is yet to hold any talks with the club over his future but expects to have them soon enough.

"There's been a lot of talk, and I prefer not to. I prefer to be focused on football and especially my recovery," said Pogba.

"I have not spoken with [executive vice-chairman] Ed Woodward. There has been no mention of a renewal.

"For now, I'm in Manchester and I'm thinking about getting back to my best.

"I think there will be a time when the club will come and talk to me and maybe offer me something, or not. So far, nothing has happened."

Sergio Romero, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones have all been omitted from Manchester United's 25-man Champions League squad.

United submitted their list to UEFA ahead of the group stage for the 2020-2021 tournament, when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team will face Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig and Istanbul Basaksehir.

Three goalkeepers have been included – David de Gea, Dean Henderson and Lee Grant – but there is no place for Romero, who played in nine Europa League games last season only to be dropped for the semi-final loss to Sevilla.

Romero was linked with a move to Everton ahead of Monday's deadline but the Toffees signed Robin Olsen on loan from Roma instead.

Neither Rojo nor fellow defender Jones have been in the matchday squads for United's first five games of the season and Axel Tuanzebe has been included for the Champions League fixtures instead.

New signings Edinson Cavani, Alex Telles and Facundo Pellistri – all of whom moved to Old Trafford on deadline day – have been named in the 25-man group.

Homegrown youngsters Mason Greenwood, Teden Mengi and Brandon Williams are all on the B list, which means they can feature in the group stages.

Manchester United's Champions League squad: David de Gea, Dean Henderson, Lee Grant; Eric Bailly, Tim Fosu-Mensah, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Alex Telles, Axel Tuanzebe, Aaron Wan-Bissaka; Bruno Fernandes, Fred, Daniel James, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, Facundo Pellistri, Paul Pogba, Donny van de Beek; Edinson Cavani, Odion Ighalo, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford.

Dayot Upamecano is a player in demand.

The 21-year-old RB Leipzig defender and France international is wanted by some of Europe's biggest clubs.

Could he find himself playing for Liverpool or Manchester United?

 

TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE GIANTS WANT UPAMECANO

Premier League champions Liverpool and rivals  Manchester United will go head-to-head to sign RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano, according to Bild.

Upamecano was linked to the likes of Liverpool, United, Real Madrid , Paris Saint-Germain , Barcelona Arsenal and Bayern Munich before re-signing with Bundesliga side Leipzig in July.

However, Liverpool and United are expected to return at the end of the season as they look to bolster their defences.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca claims Luka Modric is prepared to take a wage cut in order to extend his Madrid contract. The 35-year-old midfielder is set to become a free agent at season's end. He has previously been linked to Milan .

- United goalkeeper Sergio Romero wants to move to MLS , says the Daily Mail. Romero, who is behind David de Gea and Dean Henderson at Old Trafford, was reportedly close to joining Everton on loan before Monday's deadline.

- Calciomercato reports Milan are prepared to make another attempt to sign Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare in January.

Atletico Madrid are weighing up a move for Valencia's Geoffrey Kondogbia following Thomas Partey's switch to Arsenal, according to Cadena Ser.

It's seven months since fans were allowed to attend a Premier League match.

While reduced numbers of supporters have started to return to stadiums in some countries, such as Germany and France, the Premier League remains behind closed doors.

Initially it looked as though English top-flight clubs would be able to welcome fans back with reduced capacities in October, but with coronavirus infections on the rise again in England, those plans were put on the backburner as the British government tightened restrictions again.

A petition – which has since been backed by the EFL, Manchester United, Brighton Hove Albion and Sheffield United, among others – hopes to encourage the government to reconsider their previous judgement in an attempt to ease the financial worries of smaller clubs.

Just because fans have been stuck to their armchairs at home rather than in the stadiums doesn't mean talking points have disappeared, however, and a common conclusion many have come to since the Premier League returned behind closed doors in June is that home advantage has diminished.

With that in mind, we investigated using Opta data…

Home wins at a similar level

First of all, for this investigation we have crunched the numbers for all Premier League results up to June 2020 and compared them with all results since June, when England's elite division resumed.

With that in mind, we are of course looking at two hugely different numbers – there have been 130 matches since the start of June 2020, while there were 10,794 before then.

The results show that, on average, there has been a decrease in home wins since June, but, somewhat surprisingly, it's not a big drop-off.

In fact, it only decreased from 46.2 per cent to 45.4 per cent. So, while we are seeing fewer home wins on average, the difference is small.

Away wins increase by a third

The biggest change, however, is with regards to away wins, where we are seeing a significant increase.

Matches with fans in attendance have an average of 27.6 per cent of away wins, but without spectators that goes to 36.9 per cent – that's almost a 10 per cent increase on before.

This is, of course, impacting on draws, which are down to 17.7 per cent from 26.1 per cent.

It means that matches behind closed doors are far more likely to see away wins than they are stalemates – there have been 48 away wins since the restart and just 23 draws.

The results also suggest visiting teams are benefiting from greater focus without the distractions or pressure of home supporters.

Goals and cards

Across the board goals have increased in frequency since fans were told to stay away.

There have been on average three goals every game in the current state, an increase of 0.3 from before, though the biggest overall change is reflected by away goals.

Home teams are conceding on average 1.4 goals per game at the moment, up from 1.1 prior to June, while goals scored are only up to 1.6 from 1.5.

While these figures may not sound like a big deal in isolation, the 144 goals scored in 2020-21 equates to 3.79 per game, the highest such ratio in the top flight since 1931.

And, curiously, it appears referees have become stricter on the whole with regards to minor offences without fans constantly dishing out abuse at the man in the middle.

Yellow card frequency has increased from 1.3 per game to 1.5, though red cards have decreased on average – there were 0.06 per game, but that figure is 0.05 for games behind closed doors.

As you can see, so-called 'home advantage' does still appear to be alive, with home teams taking at least a point in 63 per cent of matches, but away victories have accounted for over a third of all matches since the start of June.

That is a significant boost, suggesting 2020-21 looks set to be particularly anomalous if it continues without fans in attendance - but don't expect Manchester United to lose 6-1 at Old Trafford every other week.

Manchester United may have boosted their Premier League hopes by securing four transfer deadline-day signings but perhaps their biggest deal slipped away.

A season-long loan deal was agreed for Barcelona and France star Ousmane Dembele to join the likes of Edinson Cavani and Alex Telles at Old Trafford, according to the Daily Mail.

But the transfer sensationally fell through when the 23-year-old winger refused to pen a contract extension with the Catalan club.

 

TOP STORY - BARCA 'FURIOUS' AT DEMBELE AFTER UNITED MOVE COLLAPSES

Reports claim the Spanish giants were targeting the signature of Lyon's ex-United ace Memphis Depay and needed Dembele off the books to complete the deal.

After Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side missed out on signing Borussia Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho, the Red Devils lined up a big money loan move for Dembele, agreeing to pay his wages and a substantial fee.

Before the deal went through, Barca wanted Dembele to ink a contract extension until 2023 to increase their leverage if the Frenchman raised his value with a stand-out Premier League campaign.

Dembele, who who has two years left on his contract, declined and both his Man United loan deal and Depay's move fell through, leaving Barcelona chiefs 'furious', according for Spanish media outlet AS.

Edinson Cavani had coronavirus and thought about quitting football before signing with Manchester United.

Veteran striker Cavani and his girlfriend tested positive for COVID-19 following a holiday that saw them join former Paris Saint-Germain team-mates in Ibiza, a trip that also saw Neymar, Angel Di Maria, Leandro Paredes, Mauro Icardi, Keylor Navas and Marquinhos contract the virus.

At that point the 33-year-old Cavani was without a club following the expiration of his PSG contract in June, but United handed him a one-year deal, with an option for another, on deadline day.

Cavani spent some of his time working on farmland in his native Salto, Uruguay, and thought about packing in life as a professional footballer.

"It was something we kept to ourselves and I was going to say it at some point," Cavani told Uruguayan outlet 2 de punta of testing positive for coronavirus.

"There was nothing to be gained by saying it at the time if you were complying with the protocol that had to be followed.

"We spent many days in quarantine, even longer than necessary. There was no need to tell anyone.

"It was after we arrived in Paris from Spain. At first we were negative, but when my girlfriend started to get symptoms we took the test again and we were positive.

"My family's health comes first. Of course I thought about quitting football. It is true I considered that option and the possibility of stopping playing and dedicating myself to life in the countryside."

Cavani, whose last competitive match was in March due to the cancellation of the 2019-20 Ligue 1 season, was linked with Gremio and Benfica before signing with United on Monday.

Asked about what it was like spending so long without a team, he said: "It's normal that you start to feel anxious. The leagues had started and of course I wanted to have a team.

"I believe that in life things come when they are meant to and sometimes, no matter how much you want something, if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen.

"There was a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. Days began to pass and I saw my family, friends and everyone wanting to know where I was going to play.

"Now we're here, happy with the decision and wanting to put on the shirt."

Left-back perhaps wasn't the first position many Manchester United fans thought of in terms of areas that needed strengthening in pre-season, but it's now easy to see why they have added Alex Telles to their ranks.

With Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams as their two left-backs, most supporters would have been content – if not thrilled – by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's options in the position.

Both were solid for the most part last season, though in the case of Shaw, it is fair to say he hasn't hit the heights many expected of him.

Shaw appeared destined for great things when he joined United from Southampton six years ago, and although injury problems have affected him, it's difficult to argue he's any better than he was as an 18-year-old.

Williams, on the other hand, showed real promise as he broke into the United first-team set-up last season, with his forward runs and tenacity earning him praise – but he has appeared short of confidence for much of 2020.

When links to left-backs initially began in September, it seemed obvious what it was felt was missing – attacking output. Sergio Reguilon, who joined Tottenham, and Alex Telles were the names in contention.

United completed a £15million move for Telles on deadline day, and we looked at the Opta data since the start of 2019-20 to see if he can offer anything Shaw and Williams don't…

END PRODUCT, BUT THERE'S A CATCH

While there are many aspects that have to be considered for a full-back in the modern game, it's difficult to escape from how ineffective United's wide defenders have been from an attacking perspective in recent seasons.

Patrice Evra, Denis Irwin, even Gary Neville and Antonio Valencia, many United full-backs down the years have been able to offer something in the final third, whether that's pace, dribbling ability, tenacity or a decent final ball.

With Shaw, Williams and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, fans have been left a bit frustrated. On the face of it, that's why Telles will rock up at Old Trafford after the international break.

The Brazilian is forward-thinking - he's a fighter, a capable dribbler and is used to having an impact in the final third, as highlighted by the 13 goals and 10 assists he has to his name in the Primeira Liga since the start of last season.

By comparison, Shaw has scored just twice in his entire career, while neither he nor Williams have set up a goal in the Premier League since 2019-20 began.

Similarly, Telles' 63 chances created is three times that of Shaw, while Williams has made 13 key passes in 17 league appearances.

But here's the catch - Telles is a set-piece taker. Of those 63 opportunities he has fashioned, only 20 were from open play. Similarly, 10 of his goals were penalties and seven assists came from dead-ball situations.

Obviously, being good at set-pieces isn't a bad thing, but in a team that already has Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and even Marcus Rashford, one has to wonder whether he'll get the same opportunities.

Nevertheless, despite most of his attacking output coming from set-pieces, there is no doubt that he does have a more aggressive attacking mentality than either of his new team-mates. Anyone who has seen him play will be aware that his primary objective when getting into attacking positions is to get the ball into the area.

Telles delivered 125 crosses in open play, while Shaw sent in just 39 and Williams only 12.

Even with attempting so many more, the Brazilian's accuracy compares well - 23 per cent were considered accurate, and although that is shy of Williams' 25 per cent, Telles is delivering with far greater frequency. Shaw found a team-mate with 18 per cent of his.

So, while Telles' attacking figures are somewhat blown out of proportion by set-pieces, it seems clear that United fans can expect more from him in the final third than Shaw and Williams.

A STEADY DEFENDER

United's 6-1 battering at the hands of Tottenham laid bare – if they weren't already – the defensive inadequacies of Solskjaer's defence.

Shaw was partly at fault for at least two of the goals and was lucky not to be sent off when he callously brought down Lucas Moura after being left for dead.

So, while United fans will undoubtedly be buoyed by the likelihood of Telles offering greater attacking prowess than their current options, it's important to compare them defensively as well, and the fact both Porto and the Red Devils are usually expected to dominate provides something close to a level playing field.

In terms of tackles, from 41 Telles has a success rate of 65.9 per cent, both of which are better than Shaw (55.6 per cent from 36). While Williams' success rate is superior (71.4 per cent), that comes from a much smaller sample size of 21 tackles and he was dribbled past by opponents as often as the Brazilian (20) despite playing half as many games as him.

Telles is way out in front in terms of duels, having engaged in 288 to Shaw's 197 and Williams' 115, showing that he sees plenty of involvement, though his 53.5 per cent success rate is worse than the others (57.4 for Shaw, 53.9 for Williams).

The United newcomer also comes out on top with respect to interceptions, making 58 (or 1.87 per 90 minute), while Shaw posted 27 (1.21 per 90 minutes) and Williams 16 (1.43 per 90 minutes).

Telles should also be helped by the fact he is a significant unit physically, while his long strides and powerful running style aid both attacking intent and defensive tracking.

Translating his strengths from Portugal's Primeira Liga to the Premier League may prove a challenge, but certainly the data provides United fans with reasons for optimism.

And at a cut-price deal, it seems a low-risk gamble given Telles could, in theory, revolutionise the team's attacking threat on the left.

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