Kevin De Bruyne is "right up there" among the Premier League greats such as Steven Gerrard, Yaya Toure and Paul Scholes.

That was the message to Stats Perform from Kolo Toure, who also likened the De Bruyne and Erling Haaland pairing at Manchester City to former Arsenal combination Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp.

The Belgium midfielder has been central to City's push for a third straight top-flight title this term, assisting 16 times and scoring seven of his own in the league.

Toure believes not many compare to De Bruyne as City remain competing for the treble, with an FA Cup final against Manchester United and a Champions League last-four meeting with Real Madrid also to come.

He said: "[Kevin De Bruyne] is right up there with those top, legendary players. Steven Gerrard, Yaya Toure, all those players, Paul Scholes.

"I rate him really, really high, because this guy technically, tactically is unbelievable. His range of passes is fantastic, his vision is incredibly great and he is, for me, the best midfielder in the world right now.

"One of them definitely. Maybe the best one, because what he has shown game after game is great."

De Bruyne put City in control of the title race with his double against Arsenal in Wednesday's 4-1 win at the Etihad Stadium.

Haaland followed that up with the final goal against the Gunners before netting his 50th strike of the season across all competitions in Sunday's narrow 2-1 win over Fulham.

That half-century tally of goals is 21 more than any other Premier League player this term and more strikes than seven English top-flight clubs in all competitions this campaign.

Toure says the combination between Haaland and chief creator De Bruyne reminds him of Arsenal legends Henry and Bergkamp, who played an integral role in the Gunners' last title-winning campaign back in 2003-04.

"He shows all his quality technically, tactically with his passes and having Haaland with him has made his game even better, because he has a player he can pass the ball to, as soon as he lifts his head Haaland is on his way and he can pass him the ball at the right time," Toure added.

"Sometimes in teams when you create those relationships – in our time you would say Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry, and Thierry Henry as Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne as Dennis Bergkamp really.

"They have this connection together and you can feel that they both know each other, they look for each other. When one provides the ball and the other one scores, the other one runs at him and praises him.

"But, De Bruyne at the moment, for me, is top, top, top. Right up there with all the top midfielders we have had in the Premier League, definitely."

Christian Fuchs' overriding memory of Leicester City's title celebrations in 2016 are Jamie Vardy's tears... at having to move house.

Leicester won their first Premier League title on May 2, 2016, when Tottenham drew with Chelsea.

Seven years on, the Foxes are scrapping at the wrong end of the table, having drawn 2-2 with Everton on Monday in a relegation six-pointer.

Vardy scored against Everton, marking his second league goal in as many appearances after only striking once before in the top flight this term.

The 36-year-old might still play a key role in Leicester ensuring safety, and was one of their talismanic figures during that glorious 2015-16 campaign.

Indeed, the Leicester squad gathered to watch the Chelsea-Tottenham game at the striker's home, and it was there that the title celebrations started, as Fuchs recalls.

He told Stats Perform: "Jamie was crying because he knew he had to move out right away the next day! Because now everybody knew where he was living. The whole town, Everybody was there.

"The emotions, when you see the video right after the final whistle, what happened was insane.

"But it was between crying, screaming, laughing, players on the floor, people on the floor. It was just manic, it was crazy."

Fuchs stressed that it was not until Leicester were mathematically champions that the Foxes squad allowed themselves to bask in their achievement.

"A big secret to success is being humble, even if you are five points ahead," Fuchs said.

"We stayed humble. And we thought okay, we're not the favourites even though we're so close. Eventually we made it."

Claudio Ranieri's remarkable work with Leicester's squad holds a special place in Fuchs' heart.

"His calmness, first of all, his understanding for individual needs and situations of players," Fuchs said when asked what made Ranieri such a special coach.

"He treated you as a player, not just okay, you're number five, your number 12. Whatever it is, he really took care of us, understanding that if I give my players the freedom off the field, and I trust them, then they will perform better for me on the field.

"It was kept very simple, our football back then was so simple. Basically, protect the goal and kick it long. Find Vardy on the break.

"But this personal level that he really took interest in. Who are you? What's your family like? Who's your family? That went a long way with me."

Kolo Toure believes working under Pep Guardiola was the perfect crash course in management for Vincent Kompany.

Former Manchester City captain Kompany has enjoyed a fine season in charge of Burnley, leading the Clarets straight back to the Premier League and the Championship title.

Kompany, 37, left City in 2019 to become player-manager of Anderlecht.

He joined Burnley last year, and his success at Turf Moor has seen him become one of the most highly coveted young managers, with Tottenham reportedly interested in taking him to north London.

Kompany's ex-City team-mate Toure, who endured a difficult, short spell as Wigan Athletic boss earlier in the 2022-23 campaign, always felt the Belgian would go onto big things in management.

"You could feel that [he would be a manager]," Toure told Stats Perform.

"Vincent has everything. He has the manager skill. I could see it already as a player. Even when he wasn't captain you could see he had a great relationship with players.

"A great relationship with the fans, a great relationship with the media, and a great relationship with the owners.

"He's always been somebody who is very intelligent, somebody who can connect with people very easily and speaks both languages really, really well. And he prepared himself very well."

Kompany played under Guardiola for three years of his 11-season stint at City, and Toure believes the Spaniard was the perfect teacher to learn from.

"I think for me what is the best thing that happened to him is to be able to play and be managed by Pep Guardiola because he learned from Pep, and Pep is an unbelievable manager," Toure said.

"What he's been learning under him is incredibly great in that's what he's showing really there. Of course, he has a little bit of detail that is putting on the way he wants this team to play. But when you look at his team, he is taking that from Pep Guardiola, definitely."

Toure's first foray into management was not quite as successful as Toure's endeavours; he lasted just 59 days in charge of Wigan.

He failed to win any of his nine games and left Wigan with the club sat bottom of the Championship. They were relegated on Saturday.

Toure, though, is keen to carry on in coaching.

"I would say that it was a great learning moment for me because, during my career as a player, I never experienced fighting for relegation. When the opportunity came, I took it because, for me, it was a great opportunity to start my managerial career," he explained.

"I wanted to challenge myself because you cannot wait for the perfect moment to get the perfect job. I wanted to do that job. I found players who are top guys, and I was my mission was to change the style of play and keep the team up.

"Unfortunately, it didn't work really because defensively we conceded so many goals, and attacking-wise we were dangerous, and we created chances but we never scored them.

"I learned, and you have to be honest, you try things with the level of players with the pressure that the players had, it wasn't easy for them. Next time I have another opportunity, I make sure to assess the situation even better, and just try to help the team win games by taking some of the pressure out of the players."

"I'm definitely looking for a job now," Toure added. "I'm more hungry than ever. I'm looking forward. I'm looking to get a new job. My passion for the game is there to push players to really win games and be the best that they can be."

Kolo Toure sees no reason why Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe cannot take up the mantle of football's great rivalry.

Haaland scored his 49th goal of the season as Manchester City thrashed Arsenal 4-1 on Wednesday, while Mbappe is enjoying another stellar campaign at Paris Saint-Germain, as well as having won the Golden Boot at the Qatar World Cup.

Mbappe's 34 goals across all competitions this term is bettered only by Haaland's extraordinary tally when it comes to players from Europe's top five leagues.

With Mbappe's club-mate Lionel Messi reaching the twilight of his career and Cristiano Ronaldo having left Europe for Saudi Arabia, former City and Arsenal defender Toure has no doubt the France star, 24, and Haaland, 22, will be the players battling it out at the pinnacle of the game.

"Absolutely, absolutely. They are both incredibly great players," Toure told Stats Perform.

"Young, hungry players with big qualities, playing for top clubs. You can see that the rivalry is coming, you can feel that, because they're both goal scorers.

"They have different qualities obviously. There is one who really is a good scorer and there is one who – yeah he can score goals, but at the same time, he can provide, he can dribble.

"It's going to be really interesting to see both of them fighting, because they are the next generation, definitely."

Haaland, who supplied two assists for Kevin De Bruyne against Arsenal, lacked his usual clinical edge in the game, seeing several attempts saved by Aaron Ramsdale before he ultimately got his goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

That took Haaland onto 33 league goals for the season, a new record for a 38-game Premier League campaign and one away from the competition's best-ever tally of 34 (held by Alan Shearer and Andy Cole).

"He is a very dominant striker," Toure said of the Norway international.

"But, one thing I have to say is he chose the right thing for him, because he's a goal scorer and he needs to play for a team that provides him the ball.

"When you have De Bruyne, you have [Bernardo] Silva, you have [Ilkay] Gundogan, you have Jack Grealish, unbelievable players around him providing the ball, the quality they're showing to support him is incredibly great.

"That's so clever from the boy, he made the right choice.

"He got to the right team. We're going to do the work for him to just finish, because he's a finisher.

"His control, the way he handled the ball to bring the team up when Arsenal were pressing them, it was unbelievable. I saw a player who can get the ball from the feet, take the ball, dribble past two, three, three players and have a shot.

"That shows the quality he has and there's big room for him to just keep improving. He is in the right team, he has the right manager and he will keep improving definitely. But, what he has shown is unbelievable."

The Premier League title race is "not over" for Manchester City and Arsenal, but ex-player Kolo Toure acknowledged the reigning champions hold the advantage.

Pep Guardiola's side ruthlessly dismantled Arsenal in a 4-1 win on Wednesday, to move two points off the Gunners at the summit with two games in hand.

After dropping points three games on the bounce before their loss to the champions, Arsenal's hopes of a first title since 2004 look to have slipped away.

But Toure, who won Premier League titles with both clubs across his career, feels it cannot be called until the final day of the season, despite City's ascendancy.

"It is not over yet," he told Stats Perform. "There are still some games. [It was a] big statement from City. They showed their qualities, they showed their mentality.

"They showed that they want to win the Premier League. From the start of the season, they have always been the favourite to win it, but [there are a] few games to go.

"Arsenal have been doing very well this season. Challenging City is always really, really hard because of the manager, because of the depth of the team they have.

"But Arsenal are surprising everybody and until the last game, you cannot say that league is done. As soon as you have one mistake, and you lose one game, everything changes in your mind.

"The pressure starts again. That's why, for Arsenal, it's very important that they stay on it. They have to make sure they don't make any mistakes to keep the pressure on City."

Arsenal had been considered rank outsiders for the title in pre-season, but until their recent dip, looked in a commanding position to push on and secure victory.

A slew of draws with Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton have cost them dearly however, with the defeat to City taking matters out of their hands.

Toure disagrees with the idea Arsenal have choked from the pressure however, and believes the Gunners have shown exceptional growth under Mikel Arteta to even be in the conversation.

"It's very harsh [to say so]," he added. "That's harsh because no one expected Arsenal to do what they are doing. Until the season is over, it's not over.

"I would say they're on the right road and the right track, because Arsenal have been suffering for a few years with some of their results. Arteta came, he did a great job.

He has put the club on the right path now. They just have to believe in him, they just have to carry on with what they're doing. I believe they are on the right track.

"[If they] stay calm, keep doing the process, keep putting pressure on those immense clubs like City, like Liverpool, then there is a moment where your time will come to shine."

Arsenal next face a London derby with struggling Chelsea on Tuesday before a clash with top-four rivals Newcastle United a week on Sunday.

Juan Mata has named Didier Drogba as the best team-mate he played alongside in the Champions League, while Lionel Messi is the Spaniard's most revered opponent.

Drogba, a legend at Stamford Bridge, scored the winning spot-kick in Chelsea's penalty shoot-out victory over Bayern Munich in the 2012 Champions League final.

It brought up Chelsea's first European crown, one they followed up nine years later by beating Manchester City 1-0 in Porto.

Drogba's coolly taken penalty was his memorable final contribution during his first stint at Chelsea, albeit he returned for a brief second spell in 2014.

Mata, who now plays for Galatasaray, had left for Manchester United by that time, but for him, Drogba will always be the former team-mate synonymous with big Champions League moments.

"If I think about the Champions League, and the times we played together at Chelsea, and when we won the competition, the first big man that comes to mind is Didier Drogba," Mata said in an interview with the Go Turkiye YouTube Channel.

"He scored the goal in the final, he scored the last penalty, he was a leader on and off the pitch, and he is definitely one of the best strikers of the last 20 or 30 years, so he has to be there. 

"He was very helpful to me during my time in London, and he comes to my mind when I think of the Champions League.

"I also have to mention John Terry, [Frank] Lampard, Wayne Rooney, [Robin] van Persie, and many other greats that I had the chance to play with.

"But when I think of Champions League and that final in Munich, it has to be Didier."

 When it came to the toughest opponent playmaker Mata has faced, there was only one player who came to mind.

"I'll have to go with Messi," Mata said. "I played against him in the Spanish league with Valencia, but also in the Champions League with Chelsea.

"I remember those semi-finals when we won it, and he missed a penalty, and he was very unlucky.

"But he is an unbelievable player, still playing at such a great level, we got to see what he did at the World Cup.

"I admire him, and it was a pleasure for me to play against him, hopefully we can play against each other again.

"For me, I have to say he is the one."

Hamit Altintop, who played for Bayern and Real Madrid, echoed Mata's sentiment, though it was not as easy for the former Turkey international to pick out an individual.

"Didier is a real leader on and off the pitch, I played with him in Galatasaray," he added.

"One of my friends asked me if I could make my best XI. In goal: Oliver Kahn, Manuel Neuer, Iker Casillas… These names are all unbelievable players that get mentioned if you talk about the Champions League.

"Iker Casillas is amazing, Cristiano [Ronaldo] the same, if you're talking about the Champions League, you have to mention Messi, of course. All of these names come to mind."

An Italian team is guaranteed to reach the Champions League final for the first time since 2017, when Madrid beat Juventus, with a Milan derby on the cards in the semi-finals.

Manchester City and Madrid face off in the other semi-final tie, and Mata pointed out it is not always the strongest team that goes on to win the competition.

"Sometimes in the Champions League, the best teams don't win, because it's not as long as a normal league, so sometimes you need a little bit of luck: a post, a save, a penalty or other things like that," the 34-year-old said.

"If you don't have mental strength, and if you don't all behave as one, you're not going to win. I felt like that is what happened with Chelsea at that time, we felt like it was meant to be, we felt that was the year.

"For me the mental aspect of football, sometimes it is undervalued, but for me it is key."

Manchester United need to win the Europa League for this season to be considered a real success, former striker Dimitar Berbatov has told Stats Perform.

Erik ten Hag's side are locked at 2-2 in their quarter-final with Sevilla heading into Thursday's second leg in Spain after throwing away a two-goal lead last week.

United ended a six-year trophy drought by lifting the EFL Cup in February and also have an FA Cup semi-final against Brighton and Hove Albion next weekend.

With a top-four finish in the Premier League now looking a formality, Berbatov is eager to see United go all the way on the continent to make this a truly memorable season.

"Winning the trophy is always a good thing," said Berbatov, speaking on behalf of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. 

"But to be successful, in my opinion, really, really successful, I think they should qualify for the Champions League and win the Europa League. That'll be an amazing season.

"If they qualify for the Champions League and don't win Europa League, then in my mind will be an okay season because of [the EFL Cup] they won. 

"But I think with Ten Hag now in charge, seeing the team can perform really well, everybody knows what they need to do on the pitch, the appetite for big things should grow.

"I always connect United with [being] the top one. But this is something that is left in my mind from my time there. Obviously, my time is different to now. 

"Man City are top in the Premier League, and everybody's challenging for their spot. United know they have a way to go to catch them. But they're on the right track."

United led Sevilla 2-0 at Old Trafford in the first leg thanks to Marcel Sabitzer's first-half double, only for late own goals from Tyrell Malacia and Harry Maguire to level up the tie.

It marked the first time United had failed to win a European match in which they led by two goals since a 3-3 draw with Basel in September 2011.


The Red Devils now have their work cut out, as Sevilla have won 23 of their past 26 home matches in the Europa League, a competition they have won four times in nine years.

Berbatov, who twice finished a Champions League runner-up with United, urged his former side to learn from last week and stay focused right until the final whistle.

"I think now it's 50-50. If you are two goals up going into the second leg, then it's a different game," he said. 

"Now it's 2-2, purely because of the lack of concentration in the first game and two own goals. Now they have made their life difficult and they know that.

"That's why I say it's 50-50 – Sevilla are a dangerous team. They have a lot of history in the competition and they know how to get out of difficult situations.

"Again, the only thing I can say is United need to be fully concentrated for 90, 95 minutes, 100 minutes, it doesn't matter. Stay concentrated until the end. They have the quality. 

"They've been struck with some injuries, but Ten Hag knows how to manage and get the best out of players. The only thing I want to see is concentration for the whole game."

United have faced Sevilla four times without winning in European competition – their joint-most against a side without winning in Europe, alongside Atletico Madrid.

Dimitar Berbatov and Ben Foster featured in Enterprise Rent-A-Car's 2022/23 UEFA Europa League campaign content, Mission Masterclass. You can view episode one in full at:

Graham Potter's Chelsea dismissal was "harsh" but ultimately the price of failing to meet expectations, according to Blues great Gus Poyet.

The former Brighton and Hove Albion manager was appointed to replace Thomas Tuchel last September as new co-owner Todd Boehly began to make his presence known at Stamford Bridge.

But after slipping to 11th in the Premier League with defeat to Aston Villa at the weekend, Potter was sacked just over six months into the job.

Poyet, a Chelsea cult hero and former Brighton boss himself, feels the decision to fire the 47-year-old was a tough one but ultimately unsurprising given their slide down the table.

"I think it was a difficult period," he told Stats Perform. "They had a few good results, especially in the Champions League, and it looked [like] a new beginning.

"But football nowadays, it depends on so many things. We don't analyse performances anymore, only a result. I think for Graham in particular, it's harsh.

"Brighton to Chelsea is a big change. That is a learning process, but at the same time, it's Chelsea. When you are in a team like Chelsea, with the money spent, you definitely cannot be 11th."

Having dismissed Champions League-winning coach Tuchel in order to install Potter, Poyet feels Boehly will be cautious when it comes to his next pick.

"He's learned that at Chelsea, it's important to win," Poyet added. "If Chelsea don't win, the fans are not going to be happy because the Chelsea fans are winners and they feel the need to win. 

"I think personality is very important. I think it's very important when a coach in the situation that Chelsea are now can start winning games, but at the same time they will develop young players.

"I don't know how many managers will walk into a club in the quarter-final of the Champions League. It's a dream job. But I think Chelsea first need to be clear what are the characteristics of the manager [they want]."

Graham Potter's Chelsea dismissal was "harsh" but ultimately the price of failing to meet expectations, according to Blues great Gus Poyet.

The former Brighton and Hove Albion manager was appointed to replace Thomas Tuchel last September as new co-owner Todd Boehly began to make his presence known at Stamford Bridge.

But after slipping to 11th in the Premier League with defeat to Aston Villa at the weekend, Potter was sacked just over six months into the job.

Poyet, a Chelsea cult hero and former Brighton boss himself, feels the decision to fire the 47-year-old was a tough one but ultimately unsurprising given their slide down the table.

"I think it was a difficult period," he told Stats Perform. "They had a few good results, especially in the Champions League, and it looked [like] a new beginning.

"But football nowadays, it depends on so many things. We don't analyse performances anymore, only a result. I think for Graham in particular, it's harsh.

"Brighton to Chelsea is a big change. That is a learning process, but at the same time, it's Chelsea. When you are in a team like Chelsea, with the money spent, you definitely cannot be 11th."

Having dismissed Champions League-winning coach Tuchel in order to install Potter, Poyet feels Boehly will be cautious when it comes to his next pick.

"He's learned that at Chelsea, it's important to win," Poyet added. "If Chelsea don't win, the fans are not going to be happy because the Chelsea fans are winners and they feel the need to win. 

"I think personality is very important. I think it's very important when a coach in the situation that Chelsea are now can start winning games, but at the same time they will develop young players.

"I don't know how many managers will walk into a club in the quarter-final of the Champions League. It's a dream job. But I think Chelsea first need to be clear what are the characteristics of the manager [they want]."

Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk remains a "world-class player" who is as capable as anyone of keeping Manchester City striker Erling Haaland quiet.

That is according to former Reds striker Robbie Keane, who also told Stats Perform talk of Jurgen Klopp departing Anfield is "absolutely ludicrous".

Van Dijk's form for club and country has been the subject of much debate, with Netherlands greats Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit heavily criticising the defender this week.

On the back of the Netherlands' 4-0 loss to France, Van Basten accused Van Dijk of "making noise but not saying anything" and creating chaos in the side.

Fellow former Netherlands international Gullit, speaking alongside Van Basten in his punditry role with Ziggo Sport, said Van Dijk "thinks he is better than the rest".

Experienced defender Van Dijk faces arguably the toughest challenge in world football this weekend when Liverpool travel to City on their return to Premier League action.

Haaland, who is expected to be fit despite pulling out of Norway's squad, has scored 42 goals at club level this season – 11 more than any player across Europe's major leagues.

But Keane believes Van Dijk is more than able to keep the prolific striker quiet in Saturday's contest at the Etihad Stadium.

"The number of goals Haaland has scored is incredible for such a young player," Keane said. "He's certainly suited to this league and he's powerfully strong.

"When you're playing a team like Man City, who create the chances they do, you know as a striker you've always got a chance to score goals.

"But then you have someone like Van Dijk, who is a world-class player. If there's anybody that can keep [Haaland] quiet, it's certainly him."


Liverpool have won just one of their past 13 Premier League away games against City, with that solitary victory coming in November 2015 when winning 4-1.

The Reds were beaten by Bournemouth last time out in the league and will finish the campaign trophyless following Champions League elimination at the hands of Real Madrid.

Klopp has been asked numerous times about his future in what has been a poor campaign for Liverpool, but Keane does not expect him to go anywhere at the end of the season.

"If I'm being totally honest, I think it's absolutely ridiculous people are even questioning Jurgen Klopp, if he should leave this club or not, absolutely no way," he said. 

"The only person I think should get to decide that is Jurgen Klopp after what he's done for this football club. It's not going to happen. No way. The fans love him. 

"I know the owners love him being here, so it would be absolutely ludicrous for people to suggest that he would leave."

Liverpool have taken 12 points from 13 Premier League away games this season, compared to 30 at home – the biggest difference (18 points) between any side in the division.

They are running out of time to climb into the top four, but Keane is confident Klopp is the right man to rebuild the squad regardless of what happens over the next two months.

"The team, like any other team, goes through bad spells and that seems to be happening this year," added Keane, who spent one season with Liverpool in 2008-09.

"Jurgen Klopp, he's very good at rebuilding. So I'm sure he'd be trying to get into the top four the season with 10 games still to go. 

"He won't be resting. We know what he's like, the character he is. We hope to get into the top four and then I'm sure he already has one eye on next year and ready to go again."

Robbie Keane expects Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte's future to be resolved "in the next few days".

Conte is facing the sack after an extraordinary outburst following a 3-3 Premier League draw at Southampton last weekend.

The Italian accused his players of being "selfish", having "no heart" and not wanting to "play under stress" after they dropped points against the struggling Saints.

Conte has returned to his homeland during the international break amid reports he could be shown the door before his contract expires at the end of this season.

Spurs bowed out of the Champions League with a whimper at the hands of Milan and are fourth in the Premier League.

Former Tottenham striker Keane thinks uncertainty over Conte's position will be ended early next week.

Asked about Spurs' season, he told Stats Perform: "I would say inconsistent if you look where they are. If they finish in the top four, is that a fantastic, successful season? I would say probably yes.

"With just 10 games to go, I think they're in a good position. Of course, the situation with Conte is not helpful. But nothing has come out yet in terms of the club or Conte saying that he's going to leave or he's going to stay.

"I'm sure that will be sorted out in the next few days, definitely before Monday or Tuesday because the lads are back in training, but it's not unusual for Conte to go home.

"He's been doing this since he's been at the club when the lads are on international break. He goes home and spends time with his family. So that's normal because I think we have three first-team players that are there.

"Ryan Mason and other first-team coaches take it. So that's not unusual. I think everybody, every Tottenham fan, would probably need a bit of clarity, certainly in the next few days."

Tottenham, who have been tipped to move for sacked Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann, face Everton on their return to Premier League action a week on Monday.

Any delay in the sale of Manchester United could lead to a "vacuum" that impacts transfers at the end of the season.

That is according to football finance expert Kieran Maguire, who also believes the reportedly high asking price put on the Premier League club by owners the Glazer family is because United are seen as a "trophy asset".

The deadline for bids for the club passed at 9pm GMT on Wednesday, though reports have suggested both British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe and Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Al Thani requested an extension before submitting their respective offers.

Speaking to Stats Perform, Maguire detailed why any buyer will likely want to get a deal over the line quickly in preparation for the transfer window at the end of the season.

"I think whoever does acquire Manchester United will want to do it as early as they can into the transfer window for the summer of 2023 because they'll be wanting to make a statement," he said.

"Also, from the Glazers' point of view, they don't want to be committing themselves or committing the club to long-term contracts on players who might not be in favour with any potential new owners.

"So the danger is that if things are dragging on over the summer, there could be a vacuum with regard to player trading."

Though reports suggest that several bids for either a takeover or minority investment have been made, Ratcliffe and Shekh Jassim have been the most public about their interest, though have made it known they do not want to pay over the odds for the Red Devils.

It is expected that any successful bid would need to be above the world-record amount paid for a sports team, which was NFL franchise the Denver Broncos when they were bought for $4.65billion by the Walton-Penner family ownership group in June last year.

Maguire explained that the money involved in acquiring a sports team is rarely based on financial prudence, rather it is a way for billionaires to "win the room" among their peers.

"If you take a look at Chelsea, which was sold for around $3billion last year, that was a distressed asset," Maguire said. "Roman Abramovich had his assets frozen by the UK government at the time and I think that took a lot of people by surprise, because Chelsea had lost well over £1million a week for 19 years under Abramovich.

"You put that into any spreadsheet and the fundamentals say the business isn't worth it, but football is a trophy asset industry.

"There are many billionaires who want to make a statement and the way to do that is to buy a brand, to buy a franchise, which from a financial perspective the prices cannot be justified, but if you've got billions burning a hole in your pocket, what better way to win the room?

"If your social circle is fellow billionaires, everybody's got an apartment in Manhattan and Monaco, everybody owns a yacht, everybody's got a few helicopters, but if you own a sports franchise which is as unique as the Broncos or in the world of football, Manchester United, then you win the room, and that's what the price is going to be linked to.

"On a cash flow basis, on a comparative basis to other football clubs, are Manchester United bigger than Newcastle United? Yes it is, but is it worth 20 times the price of Newcastle? The answer, fundamentally, is no, but that's probably what it's going to take to persuade the Glazer family to sell."

Andrew Cole is adamant his former team Manchester United have no chance of winning the Premier League this season.

United picked up their first piece of silverware since 2017 with a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United in the EFL Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. 

They also remain in the hunt for the Europa League after defeating Barcelona, while Erik ten Hag's team face West Ham on Wednesday for a spot in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

In the league, United sit third – eight points off leaders Arsenal – but Cole is certain that, despite their fine form in 2023, they will not challenge for the title.

Speaking to Stats Perform, he said: "If you look at the teams in front of them in Manchester City and Arsenal, Manchester City would have to capitulate and so would Arsenal.

"Man City's form has been very indifferent this season and Arsenal at the present moment are scratching through and getting results.

"So for Man United to win the league, those teams would have to capitulate and Manchester United would have to win virtually every game from now until the end of the season. 

"That is a tall order, especially with the games coming up.

"I'd be very happy for us to finish in the top four which we have a great chance of doing. We're still in Europa League, we are still in the FA Cup and then go from there. 

"But I think if you set the priorities at the start of the season, to talk about winning the league, everyone would have said, 'Nah you're mad, actually mad, not a chance.' So what's changed?"

City hammered Bournemouth on Saturday but had previously slipped up against Nottingham Forest, with Arsenal reclaiming top spot.

Arsenal have the opportunity to move five points clear at the top of the table when they play struggling Everton on Wednesday.

Yet Cole, who won five titles with United, believes the experience of reigning champions City will help them to triumph over Mikel Arteta's side.

He added: "I'm still going for Man City – they've got the experience, they've won it numerous times before. Their form has been so indifferent this season but at some stage, they're going to catch fire.

"Arsenal at this present moment, are at this time getting results but not playing particularly well – whoever's at the top of the league will always go for a little blip.

"United have done it at the start of this season. Chelsea have actually imploded, Tottenham – exactly the same thing. 

"It feels a little bit like when Leicester won the league. It wasn't down to Leicester being a good team, it's about the teams around them just for whatever reason, couldn't get themselves going to get themselves in a position to win the league, and Leicester were very consistent. 

"That's why they won it, as simple as that. So we'll have to wait and see."

Tommy Haas says Carlos Alcaraz is already primed to succeed Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at the very top of tennis.

Alcaraz became the youngest men's world number one when he won his maiden grand slam title at the US Open last year.

The Spaniard missed this year's Australian Open due to an injury, allowing Djokovic to reclaim his place at the summit of the rankings with his 10th triumph in Melbourne.

Djokovic celebrated a record-breaking 378th week at number one on Monday, the day after Alcaraz had fallen short against Cameron Norrie in the Rio Open final.

Alcaraz, who has already won seven singles titles, battled through pain in Brazil but ultimately slipped to a 5-7 6-4 7-5 defeat against the opponent he beat in the Argentina Open final a week earlier.

With the 19-year-old having already reached 10 tour-level finals, though, former world number two Haas has no doubt Alcaraz is in line to enjoy success close to that of Djokovic and Nadal.

"Yes, you have to say that he already is [ready]," Haas told Stats Perform.

"He had an unbelievable year last year, right. I think he won a title down there in Rio, on clay then he came to Indian Wells playing extremely good tennis, losing a tough battle match against Rafa in the quarters.


"They played some incredible tennis and you could just tell the way he moves on the court, his mental toughness and the shot selection that he has, the repertoire there is, there's nothing really missing.

"Being that young sometimes can be like the only hindrance in my mind because maybe you want it too much, or you overthink things. Or maybe in this case, you clearly don't overthink things, and you just go out and play your best and fight and give it everything you have.

"A lot of respect obviously goes to his team, his family, his coach. He just kind of went on that run, winning [in] Madrid, in his home country. And then winning his first slam, the US Open and being the youngest world number one, so what a quick rise. Just unreal, I can't even imagine how his life has been turned upside down in many ways."

The only concern, as far as Haas sees it, is Alcaraz's injury worries.

"He's a guy that wants to stick around, and remain up there at the top for a very, very long time," Haas added.

"With his game, and his potential, if he stays healthy... that's the thing, he's been already a little bit injured at a young age. So, that's a little bit of a warning sign.

"If he can remain healthy, I think that's where the team is obviously very smart. I think they're trying to build up his body still, to sustain the crazy amount of travel and the stress on the body that tennis creates on you to make sure that he has a long career, because that's what everybody hopes and dreams for."

Germany great Jurgen Klinsmann believes Toni Kroos is an "exceptional player" who can remain at the top level with Real Madrid for another four seasons.

Kroos has made 395 appearance and won a remarkable 18 trophies – including the Champions League four times – for Madrid during nine seasons with the club.

The 33-year-old remains a key player for the LaLiga giants, starting 26 of their 34 games this term – only Federico Valverde (29) and Vinicius Junior (32) have started more often.

However, the midfielder's contract at the Santiago Bernabeu expires at the end of this season and he stated last week he will not rush into making a decision on his future.

Kroos has made clear he will not join another club after he brings an end to his Madrid career, and Klinsmann is hopeful he will hold off from retiring for many more years.

"What he has achieved in the last 10 or 15 years is truly fabulous," Klinsmann told Stats Perform. "He's won it all. I don't even know how many trophies he has won. 

"He is an exceptional player who can manage his energies not only for 90 minutes but up to 120, giving it all for Real Madrid. 

"He could easily play at this level for another three or four seasons, even more since he unfortunately retired from the German national team to save further energy. 

"I hope he can go on playing because it would be sad for him to quit so soon."


Kroos' influence has once again been clear for Los Blancos this season, with his 1,219 completed passes the most of any player in LaLiga, despite missing three games.

He also ranks highest in the division for passes attempted per 90 minutes (94) – 11 more than any other player – among those to have featured more than twice. 

Commenting on his future after helping Madrid to another Club World Cup title last weekend, Kroos said: "I will end my career here.

"I just don't know exactly when yet. I'm thinking about it. It won't take many more months, but there is still no decision."

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