Manchester United midfielder Fred believes Erik ten Hag is "building something great" at Old Trafford, as the Brazilian targets a "flying" start to the upcoming Premier League campaign.

United won each of their first three friendlies under Ten Hag before ending their tour of Asia and Australia with a 2-2 draw against Aston Villa.

Having recorded their worst ever Premier League points tally (58) and defensive record (57 goals conceded) last term, results appear to be looking up for the Red Devils, for whom a 4-0 thrashing of Liverpool represents the high point of pre-season to date.

Fred has started all four friendlies as Ten Hag looks to implement a positive style of play at Old Trafford, and was effusive in his praise of the team's off-season work.

"I believe the team spirit is getting stronger," the Brazilian told the club's website. "We're working hard this pre-season so we can be flying when the league starts, that's the priority.

"We're building something great here, I hope it all works out over the season.

"Of course, there's a lot of quality with the young players, they've been impressing the manager as well.

"They've been great in training and in matches during this pre-season. I hope they can help us, the older players look to help them to settle into the team as well. Hopefully they can do great things with us in the future."

Only six United players – among them Cristiano Ronaldo, David de Gea and Harry Maguire – played more Premier League minutes than Fred last term (2,035 across 28 games), and the 29-year-old also recorded his best ever goals and assists tallies (both four) in the competition.

But Fred says he is content with playing the role of "piano carrier" next term – a common Brazilian phrase for those who allow others to thrive through their defensive work.

"Last season, I played a bit further forward under Ralf [Rangnick], he gave me a bit more freedom to get in the box to score and assist," Fred added.

"We'll see what Erik asks of me now, he may want me more in the build-up of play.

"As I just said, regardless of scoring, I want to help my team-mates. I want to carry the piano on the pitch for them to score and help the team.

"The most important thing is that we achieve our goals to take us as far as possible."

Leicester City are yet to receive any offers for Youri Tielemans despite reported interest from Manchester United and Arsenal, according to club chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha.

Belgium international Tielemans has been linked with a move away from the King Power Stadium after entering the final 12 months of his contract with Leicester, for whom he made 32 Premier League appearances last term.

The midfielder has recorded 120 league outings for the Foxes since joining – initially on loan – in January 2019, a tally only bettered by goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (127) during that time.

Meanwhile, only Harvey Barnes (24) and James Maddison (19) have bettered Tielemans' 18 league assists for the side since his arrival from Monaco, and only four Leicester players have managed more than his 18 league goals.

Tielemans' creativity has seen him linked with Arsenal and Manchester United, the latter as a potential alternative to Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong, but Srivaddhanaprabha says Leicester are yet to receive any concrete proposals.

"It's nothing. There haven't been any offers yet. There hasn't been anything concrete or a proposition yet," he said at the launch of an artificial pitch in Thailand.

Meanwhile, having finished an underwhelming 2021-22 Premier League season in eighth position, Brendan Rodgers' side are yet to sign a single player during the transfer window.

But Srivaddhanaprabha pledged reinforcements will arrive in due course, adding: "Premier League football is one of the focal points for the King Power Group. You may see that the reinforcement is quite slow, this is because the market is changing quite quickly. You have to wait until the end of August. I think there is still time." 

Cristiano Ronaldo is travelling back to England to hold talks with Manchester United over his future, according to a report.

Ronaldo missed United's tour of Thailand and Australia and has yet to take part in any pre-season training sessions, with that being put down to family reasons.

The 37-year-old, who is said to have asked for a move away from Old Trafford, has instead been training in Portugal.

With United back at their Carrington training base this week after returning from Australia, The Athletic has reported that Ronaldo is due to fly into England on Monday.

It is not known if the five-time Ballon d'Or winner will take part in training on Tuesday, but United are said to consider the latest development a positive one.

The ongoing speculation over Ronaldo's future comes less than a year after he returned to the club from Juventus.

Ronaldo scored 18 Premier League goals last season – only Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min (both 23) netted more – but United still finished in sixth with their lowest ever points tally in the competition.

He scored 24 goals in all competitions in 2021-22, which is 14 more than next-best Bruno Fernandes. No other United player reached double figures in a dire season.

Ronaldo has yet to link up with Erik ten Hag, but United's new head coach reiterated this week that the former Real Madrid star is part of his plans for this season and possibly beyond.

"It is clear – he is not for sale," Ten Hag told reporters on United's pre-season tour of Australia. "I planned with having him and I am looking forward to working with him.

"I am well-informed he also has an option [for a further season]."

United have just two more friendlies to go, against Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano next weekend, before kicking off their Premier League campaign on August 7.

Manchester United may be scouring the market for a striker as speculation persists around Cristiano Ronaldo's future, but Salzburg's Benjamin Sesko would come at a heavy price – at least as far as the Austrians' Twitter admin is concerned.

United's tally of just 57 Premier League goals last season was their lowest since they netted 54 times in 2016-17, and Ronaldo's apparent desire to leave for a Champions League club has intensified rumours the Red Devils may seek a new forward.

Salzburg's Sesko is the latest to be linked with a move to Old Trafford, with the 19-year-old having scored 11 goals for the Austrian champions in all competitions last season.

But Salzburg appear to be driving a hard bargain, according to their English-language Twitter account, which addressed the rumours with the demand: "We want 300million and Bruno [Fernandes]", alongside a thumbs-up emoji.

United are not the only side credited with an interest in the striker, with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund also linked.

Needless to say, if Sesko did command such a fee, United supporters would be justified in expecting him to deliver more than Europa League qualification next season.

Gary Neville believes that Frenkie de Jong should "consider legal action" against Barcelona.

The Netherlands international is a target for Manchester United, who have reportedly agreed a fee with Barca for the former Ajax midfielder.

However, De Jong is supposedly keen to remain at Barca, while it has also been claimed the Spanish club owe the 25-year-old €20million in wages.

That is after De Jong deferred his wages in order to help Barca deal with their financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet in spite of their financial issues, Barca have brought in a number of big-money signings this transfer window, including Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich and Raphinha from Leeds United.

And United great Neville believes that De Jong should consider taking Barcelona to court over their failure to pay him the wages he deferred to help out the club.

He tweeted: "De Jong should consider legal action v Barcelona and all players should be behind him!

"A club spending fortunes on new players whilst not paying the ones they have under contract their full money is immoral and a breach."

He also called upon FIFPRO, the representative organisation for professional footballers, to take action against what Neville calls "bullying."

 

Sporting CP boss Ruben Amorim has cooled talk of Cristiano Ronaldo returning to his boyhood club and stated the priority is retaining the likes of Matheus Nunes.

Portugal superstar Ronaldo is reportedly keen on leaving Manchester United just a year after returning to Old Trafford from Juventus, with Champions League football a priority for the competition's all-time leading scorer.

Suitors for Ronaldo's services are few and far between, but Sporting have been touted as a potential destination and a return to Madrid has also been speculated, though this time with Atletico.

Such a move for Sporting would mark a spectacular homecoming for their youth graduate, who has become one of the greatest players of all-time, but Amorim has poured cold water on the speculation.

"I've heard that [Ronaldo rumours]. I don't read anything, I don't see anything," he said after a penalty shoot-out defeat in Sunday's friendly against Sevilla.

"For me the reality is different, it's keeping my players."

Nunes is among those that Sporting face a battle to retain, with the 23-year-old linked with the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea, but Amorim revealed the midfielder has rejected proposals from other clubs in the current window.

"I'm glad Matheus Nunes is still here. I'm glad Sporting players, like Nunes, reject offers that [would] change their lives to remain at Sporting," he added.

"That's my reality. I'm very happy with my squad and my players are the best in the world."

Despite winning LaLiga and the Champions League last season, Real Madrid want to secure a bright future to follow their trophy-laden present.

Having confirmed the signings of Aurelien Tchouameni and Antonio Rudiger this off-season, Madrid managed to bolster their squad in two areas of the pitch.

Meanwhile, they are on the verge of securing the long-term futures of three foundational pieces in those successes last term.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID TO SECURE BRAZILIAN TRIO

Real Madrid are all but set to confirm renewed contracts for their Brazilian trio of Eder Militao, Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Despite tricky initiations for each, all three have now established themselves as vital players under Carlo Ancelotti, as evidenced by their new release clauses.

Militao and Rodrygo have reportedly extended to June 2028, with respective €500million and €1billion release clauses.

After a breakout season, culminating with his goal in May's Champions League final, Vinicius will reportedly extend to June 2027, along with a €1bn release clause.

 

ROUND-UP

– Manchester United are now considering a move for Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic as an alternative to Frenkie de Jong, Calciomercato is reporting.

– Juventus have made a €23m (£19.5m) move for Liverpool's Roberto Firmino as they finalise the termination of Aaron Ramsey's contract, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

Jules Kounde's departure from Sevilla appears likelier with the defender close to agreeing personal terms with Barcelona, per Fabrizio Romano.

– Arsenal have confirmed their interest in Lucas Paqueta but are yet to make Lyon an offer, The Times has reported.

Manchester United's players must "be ready to hear things we don't want to" from new manager Erik ten Hag if they are to avoid a repeat of last season, according to full-back Diogo Dalot.

Ten Hag officially replaced interim boss Ralf Rangnick at Old Trafford last month on the back of United posting their lowest-ever Premier League points tally (58) in the 2021-22 campaign.

The Dutchman's tenure has started in a positive fashion with three wins and a draw during the Red Devils' pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia, scoring 13 goals in the process.

However, Ten Hag criticised his team for an "unacceptable" loss of concentration in Saturday's friendly with Aston Villa, which finished in a 2-2 draw despite United leading by two goals at half-time.

Dalot, who played 67 minutes of the game in Perth, accepts that such comments must be taken on board.

"It is discipline. We need to be ready for that, to be ready to hear things that maybe we don't want to hear," Dalot said. "Everything is for the greater good of the team and that’s the most important thing.

"I feel that we start from scratch: new manager, new stuff, new energy, new players coming in, and we’re looking forward to playing with them as well. We need to build a team, a staff, a club, everyone together and go forward."

Jadon Sancho's third goal of pre-season and a Matty Cash own goal put United in a commanding position against Villa at Optus Stadium, but Leon Bailey pulled one back and Calum Chambers headed a stoppage-time leveller.

"We should have come into the second half a little bit more lively," Dalot said. "Obviously we were winning 2-0, but we need to keep the tempo, keep the ball, we don't want to concede so many counter-attacks that we conceded.

"But it is something to learn for the future. We are going to analyse the game for sure and take the lessons. We need to be proactive, not just the full-back – everyone. Read the game, be always on our toes.

"Mentally we have to be connected all the time, and hopefully we can improve a little bit more as well and go to the season."

Dalot has started all four of United's pre-season friendlies, suggesting he has dislodged Aaron Wan-Bissaka as first-choice right-back heading into Ten Hag's first season in charge.

The Portugal international has struggled to hold down a place since arriving from Porto in 2018, and was sent out on loan to Milan in the 2020-21 campaign, but he is up for the challenge of proving himself.

"I want to be ready for the manager, for the club – every time he needs me I'm going to be there," Dalot said.

"I need to show my qualities as well. This is why I came here, to show to this club I'm capable of playing many games for it. This is what I want."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has rubbished reports the club have accepted an offer from Manchester United for midfielder Frenkie de Jong.

Erik ten Hag is keen to reunite with the 25-year-old, whom he managed at Ajax, and United have been pushing to bring the Netherlands international to Old Trafford.

The financial situation of Barcelona has been identified as a reason why the Catalan side may be tempted to sell, with reports stating the club have accepted an offer from the Premier League side but De Jong himself is yet to be persuaded by a move.

Such claims have been refuted by Laporta, who made it clear to ESPN that no bids for De Jong have been accepted.

"Frenkie de Jong is our player, we really like him," he said.

"We received some offers for Frenkie but we didn't accept as of now, as we want to talk with him and know exactly what he wants. We need to clarify some aspects of his situation."

Laporta's stance on De Jong was echoed by Xavi, although the Barcelona coach admitted the financial situation could affect the proceedings heading into the final month of the transfer window.

"I’m not here to send messages. I already spoke with Frenkie, I value him very much. He's a key player, but then there's economic situation and Financial Fair Play," he said following Barcelona's 1-0 pre-season win against Real Madrid.

Xavi also dropped a hint on plans to utilise De Jong's versatility next season, adding: "He can give us a lot also as a centre back."

Marcus Rashford says his current pre-season is priceless for his prospects, though the Manchester United forward is reluctant to discuss an England recall.

The Old Trafford star suffered a difficult 2021-22 campaign on the field, and was criticised for his performances as much as he was praised for his humanitarian and community work off it.

It came on the back of a frustrating Euro 2020 final loss to Italy, in which he missed a penalty in the decisive shoot-out, with fluctuating form and injuries ultimately seeing him dropped from Gareth Southgate's Three Lions squad.

But after a string of impressive performances under new United boss Erik ten Hag during the club's pre-season tour of the Far East and Australia, Rashford admits he is raring to go again.  

"For me personally, it's priceless to have the pre-season that I've had," the 24-year-old stated.

"Sometimes I don't really take as much note of it because usually we're playing games in the summer and stuff like that, so the next season sort of just rolls onto the previous season.

"But this year I've had time to break, rest, recover mentally and physically, and then I've had a proper pre-season. I feel really happy. I'm pleased that I managed to do that."

Asked on the matter of a recall to the international setup ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup however, Rashford admitted all he can do is impress at club level to see if he can force his way back into Southgate's plans.

Despite making several squads across the tail-end of 2021, he has not featured since that day at Wembley, with others battling for his spot in the squad in his absence.

"I've not spoken to [Southgate] since the summer, really," Rashford added. "I'm not too sure but all I can do is try and do my best for United, and then we'll see what happens."

Atletico Madrid are reportedly set to fund a bid for Cristiano Ronaldo by putting Antoine Griezmann up for sale, with the club hoping to bring the Portugal superstar back to La Liga.

Ronaldo has sat out Manchester United's pre-season tour of the Far East and Australia amid reports he has requested an exit from Old Trafford if a suitable bid is lodged.

The veteran forward signed a two-year deal in a spectacular homecoming last season, but could not help United avoid missing out on a top-four finish, leaving him without Champions League football this term as things stand.

 

TOP STORY - ATLETICO SEEK TO SELL GRIEZMANN TO LAUNCH RONALDO MOVE

Widely considered one of the greatest players in the modern game, Ronaldo is likely to accept only a move to a club that can offer him a shot at major European glory once again, limiting his pool of options.

Though linked with a host of European heavyweights, the funds required to cover his wage bill also present a major stumbling block - which is why Atletico are looking to push Griezmann off their books, says The Times.

Having left Atletico for Barcelona in 2019, the France international and World Cup winner returned to Wanda Metropolitano last year after a dismal stay at Camp Nou, pushing to recapture his best form.

He is halfway through a two-season loan with a permanent transfer set to come into force at the end of that deal, with Diego Simeone's side looking to move him on early.

Prospective buyers, such as Paris Saint-Germain, are not interested in taking Griezmann however, suggesting Neymar will remain at the Parc des Princes despite talk of an exit.

 

ROUND-UP

– According to the Mirror, United would let Ronaldo leave on a season-long loan deal - providing he triggered a one-year extension that would ensure his Old Trafford return in 2023.

– Sport believes that Barcelona hope to successfully hijack Chelsea's move for Jules Kounde by offering a lump sum payment to Sevilla, rather than the instalments favoured by the Blues.

– Newcastle are weighing up a move for Leicester winger Harvey Barnes, but the Foxes' £50m price tag is throwing a wrench in the Magpies' plans, says The Sun.

Brighton will not take a penny under their asking price for Marc Cucurella, with the Seagulls refusing to drop from their £50m valuation after Manchester City's £30m offer, per The Athletic.

– Timo Werner is eyeing an exit from Chelsea in this window as the Germany international is concerned over his game-time ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Erik ten Hag says there can be no excuse for Manchester United's "unacceptable" second-half display after they let a two-goal lead slip in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Aston Villa.

Jadon Sancho's third goal of pre-season and a Matty Cash own goal put United in a commanding position at half-time in the friendly at Optus Stadium in Perth.

However, the Red Devils were unable to see out a fourth win in four outings, as Leon Bailey pulled one back and Calum Chambers headed in a 93rd-minute leveller.

While disappointed his side dropped off after the break, Ten Hag is glad it happened in a friendly rather than in a competitive contest.

"I said in the dressing room, a drop of focus is unacceptable, but I'm happy because now I can tell them it cannot happen [again]," he said in his post-match news conference.

"[At the start of the second half you] have to get out of the dressing room and back in your plan and your focus and back to your performance and that is what we didn't do.

"We had a lot of movement behind the defending line, scored two great goals, so we were 2-0 up at half-time, and then our focus dropped."

United's fourth and final friendly in 11 days on their tour of Thailand and Australia was played in wet conditions, with concerns raised over the quality of the pitch ahead of kick-off.

Ten Hag did not want to use the playing surface as a reason for their shortcomings.

"It can be that the guys are tired, but that's not an excuse. They have to perform and it is what we didn't do in the second half," he said.

"It was the focus. I don't want to make excuses about the pitch or weather. No matter what, we have to perform.

"Football is a sport of mistakes and we have to decrease the mistakes. That's clear, but I have seen a lot of progress in these two weeks.

"In the first half I saw really good football, really controlling and dominating the game, but we have to learn from what happened in the second half. 

"It's not possible that you go 2-0 [ahead] and then throw it away."

United face Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano next weekend in their final outings ahead of taking on Brighton and Hove Albion in their opening Premier League match.

Erik ten Hag believes Manchester United's 2-2 draw with Aston Villa in Australia will provide important experience for the forthcoming season, following a second-half fightback from Steven Gerrard's side. 

Jadon Sancho scored his third goal in four pre-season games with a first-half volley, which was added to by an own goal, but Leon Bailey pulled one back for Villa in the second half before Calum Chambers' equaliser in the dying moments.

The draw ends United's perfect pre-season run so far, having won each of their three games prior to the clash against their fellow Premier League side, but Ten Hag has seen the positives and believes the setback can provide an education for the upcoming season.

"First half, it was a decent performance, second half, we came back out of the dressing room and we had to control the game but we gave it away. That is no good, so that is a lesson," he told MUTV.

"From the players, the team, I think there has been a lot of progress. There's been some positive aspects. 

"In the end there was a setback but that is also a part of the season because a season is not always getting up, you will also have setbacks that you have to deal with."

United face Atletico Madrid in Oslo later this week in their penultimate pre-season match, before bringing their preparations for 2022-23 to a close against Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford next Sunday, and Ten Hag has outlined how he wants his team to continue to play in those games.

"We now play a different type of football against different systems, I think that will also be the case when we play the two Spanish teams," he added.

"What we want is to play proactive football, we want to play with initiative, we want to play attacking football. That is also what we have seen today over a long period but in the end, you have to control the game and that's what we didn't do."

David de Gea has made his plans for the rest of his career clear, stating in no uncertain terms that he wishes to remain a Manchester United player well beyond the completion of his current contract.

The Spanish international with 45 senior caps has racked up an incredible 487 total club appearances for United in the past 11 seasons, and he will move into the club's top-10 in games played if he makes 24 starts in the upcoming season.

If he sticks around for a couple more years he can make a big impression on that all-time list, sitting only 72 games behind Wayne Rooney in sixth place.

Speaking to the media during his side's pre-season exhibition tour in Australia, De Gea called United "one of the best things in my life".

"I would be really happy to be here for as long as [the club] wants," he said. "I didn't talk with anyone yet, but I want to be here for more years.

"I feel very good here. It's a privilege and an honour to be here in this club. It's one of the best things in my life, to be a part of this club."

He went on to discuss the struggles of last season, and his excitement to get back out there with new manager Erik ten Hag in charge.

"It was a very tough season, embarrassing sometimes," he said. "Some games were a mess, a disaster.

"So we should learn from last season that it cannot happen again. Losing 4-0 or 5-0, it was unacceptable. We needed a better culture of football, of just thinking about football, nothing else. 

"With a new manager, we are in a good way. He is very focused on football and what we need, and the players feel the same."

The 31-year-old has one year remaining on his £375,000 per week deal, with an option of a one-year extension that seemingly will be utilised if it is his choice.

David de Gea has taken pride in winning individual trophies at Manchester United but hopes he never collects another personal accolade because it will mean the Red Devils have failed again.

Jose Mourinho became increasingly frustrated during his time at Old Trafford as goalkeeper De Gea won the Player of the Year award for United, amounting to failure from his outfield stars in the Portuguese's eyes.

The Spain international may have felt hard done by to not win another of those awards last season, with Cristiano Ronaldo pipping him to the honour after scoring 24 goals across all competitions.

De Gea made 128 saves in the 2021-22 Premier League, the third most in the English top flight, as United limped to a sixth-place finish and their lowest points tally in the competition's history.

New manager Erik ten Hag has made a promising start to his tenure with United, though, with the Red Devils winning three pre-season friendlies, including a 4-0 thrashing of Liverpool in Bangkok. They face Aston Villa on Saturday as the season build-up continues.

De Gea has been a vocal critic during United's downfall in recent years, and has insisted he no longer wants to win individual awards as that would represent more failure.

"It's good for me individually, of course, I love to win trophies, but I totally agree with what [Mourinho] said," said De Gea, who has won the Player of the Year award at United on four occasions.

"It must be a striker, a midfielder [who wins that award], that's what needs to happen, but this season it's going to be another player or striker, for sure."

Ten Hag has begun his sizeable rebuilding task with the Premier League side by bringing in Tyrell Malacia and Christian Eriksen, while striking a deal for Lisandro Martinez.

Jadon Sancho, Luke Shaw and Bruno Fernandes have spoken approvingly of Ten Hag, and De Gea hopes the Dutchman will help United respond to an abject campaign last season.

"For me, for everyone, it was a very tough season, embarrassing sometimes," De Gea said, quoted in several British newspapers. "Some games were a mess, a disaster.

"So we should learn from last season that cannot happen again because it was tough, it was painful to be there – not capable to win games, losing games 4-0 or 5-0. It was unacceptable.

"Sometimes you have to feel pain to go up and keep going."

A notable feature of United's early pre-season games has been Ten Hag's insistence for his side to build from the back and play possession-based football.

For this to be successful, as seen with Ederson at Manchester City, De Gea as a goalkeeper must be confident with the ball at his feet, and the 31-year-old backs his own abilities.

"I think I showed it already," he said. "If you watch my games with the national team or when we played with Sir Alex Ferguson at the beginning, you could see it.

"I don't need to show anyone. I've been playing for many years. I will try my best. I'm going to stay quiet, calm and try to show that to the team and play out from the back.

"Obviously with different managers you have to adapt to the way they want you to play, but I used to play like this in the national team for many years so I'm comfortable with it."

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