Nani is relishing the prospect of a Manchester United reunion after joining A-League side Melbourne Victory.

The 35-year-old former Portugal star has moved to Australia on a two-year contract, with his Victory deal announced on Tuesday.

Nani left United eight years ago and has since had spells at Sporting CP, Fenerbahce, Valencia, Lazio, Orlando City and Venezia.

He could line up against United on Friday, however, with his new team facing the Premier League giants in a friendly at the MCG.

Nani, who won the 2007-08 Champions League and four Premier League titles with United, was asked about his prospects of playing in that game.

"I would like to, I don't know. I just arrived in the country, and it's a long flight, so there are lots of things to do," Nani said.

"The body must be ready to compete. I think the fans and everyone expecting me to be able to perform with all my qualities, so playing that game could be not a good idea, but as a player I always want to play, so give me five minutes and I will be ready."

Nani won 112 caps for Portugal, scoring 24 goals for his country.

As his international career was winding down, so Bruno Fernandes was emerging as a candidate to come into the Portugal side and stamp his own mark.

The pair were team-mates at Sporting for a short time and could now go head-to-head, with Nani saying he had yet to speak to Fernandes about his Melbourne move.

"Not yet, we had to be a little bit quiet about this transfer," Nani said. "I know there will be time for us to meet here and talk about everything."

Nani was impressed with Melbourne boss Tony Popovic's plans, persuading him to try his luck in Australia for the first time.

He said: "I had some clubs interested in me, but Melbourne Victory is a club that has been trying to contact me for a long time. I had the opportunity to talk with the coach and had great feelings, and that was one of the good reasons to make me come here."

Value in the transfer market is always hard to gauge, but that feels especially true in the Premier League in this window.

Sadio Mane has left Liverpool for £35million, and Raheem Sterling is on his way out of Manchester City for £45m. Meanwhile, Southampton have reportedly asked for £75m for midfielder James Ward-Prowse.

That comparison is perhaps not fair on Ward-Prowse – Saints' most important figure – but it illustrates how erratic these fees can be.

It is slightly tricky then to establish who might be the most valuable Premier League player, yet why not have a go?

Inspired by Bill Simmons' NBA trade value list for The Ringer, ranking the 64 most valuable basketball stars, Stats Perform has put together an equivalent Premier League top 20.

Of course, there are key differences between how the markets work in the NBA and the Premier League, so a brief explainer is required before complaints come from fans of one or two clubs...

This is not a ranking of the 20 best Premier League players but rather the 20 most valuable – or 20 most difficult to sign.

The following factors have all been considered: how important these players are to their clubs, how replaceable they are, how proven they are, how likely they are to be sold now or in the near future, and how much they would cost if they were to move, influenced by ages and contract situations.

So, let's dive in...

1. Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool

Alexander-Arnold is Liverpool's chief creator from right-back, unique in his passing ability and set-piece quality. The Reds will have an extremely tough time when they come to replace the England man; fortunately, that will not be any time soon, with the Anfield favourite a local boy, a Liverpool fan and under contract until 2025.

2. Phil Foden – Manchester City

Although perhaps still not quite the main man at Etihad Stadium, Foden is City's answer to Alexander-Arnold. Having waited so long to bring an elite talent through their academy, the champions will be in no rush to sell him – especially as Pep Guardiola is such a big fan.

3. Erling Haaland – Manchester City

If Alexander-Arnold and Foden are completely unattainable for rival clubs, there remains a possibility Haaland's stay at City could last only a few seasons, as Real Madrid and Barcelona are likely to again be interested soon enough. But City could command a huge fee for one of the most sought-after strikers in European football.

4. Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City

It is perhaps no surprise City feature so prominently in this list, although there is a balance to consider. Their financial might means there is little motive to move on a star name, but they are also well placed to sign a replacement. Even at 31, there is nobody who could feasibly replace De Bruyne.

5. Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool

Replacing Van Dijk is a similarly tough ask. Liverpool are not afraid to cash in if it benefits the team, but it is difficult to imagine how losing their highly influential centre-back – undoubtedly the best in the Premier League – could ever be beneficial.

6. Mohamed Salah – Liverpool

Having seen Mane depart, Salah likely would not even have featured on this list had he not agreed a new contract. Now, though, both he and Liverpool are committed to one another for three more years. In the immediate future, Salah remains the Reds' leading man in attack.

7. Bruno Fernandes – Manchester United

It says a lot for the state of the United squad that Fernandes is the only Red Devil to be included. Cristiano Ronaldo is old, on a short-term contract and wants to leave, while Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford endured tough seasons. Fernandes ultimately did, too, but his quality is proven, and he will hope for an improved campaign under Erik ten Hag.

8. Son Heung-min – Tottenham

Spurs have a little more security now with Champions League football assured, surely able to keep Son happy – not that the outstanding forward ever appears too downcast. Son is now 30 but shows little sign of slowing after the best goalscoring season of his career.

9. Harry Kane – Tottenham

Son is just ahead of his strike partner on account of Kane pushing for a move last year. That was an unsuccessful bid, though, and City moved on with Haaland. Kane could perhaps be a candidate to replace Ronaldo, but again Tottenham have Champions League football while United do not.

10. Ederson – Manchester City

A move away from the division's elite attacking stars: Ederson simply could not be better suited for City's style of play, an outstanding goalkeeper with the passing range to fit into their midfield. A rival club surely would not even try to prise Ederson away.

11. Alisson – Liverpool

Liverpool do not rely on Alisson's ability with his feet in quite the same fashion, but there is very little between he and Ederson. Still just 29, the Brazil number one will keep his place between the posts at Anfield for the foreseeable future.

12. Reece James – Chelsea

The first Chelsea player on the list is James, who matches Alexander-Arnold for talent but might be seen as a more attainable transfer target for now. With the Blues still in the early stages of their new ownership, it is tough to tell exactly where they fit into the Premier League's hierarchy.

13. Mason Mount – Chelsea

As above, Chelsea would not have wanted to sell Mount under the previous regime and likely will stand firm again, but keeping players of his ilk relies on the club remaining as successful as they have been over the past 20 years.

14. Bukayo Saka – Arsenal

This Arsenal team is packed with young, hungry, talented players, few of whom their fans would like to see depart. But the Gunners have also long since been positioned as sellers to the elite clubs. Saka, the best of the bunch, could attract attention soon enough.

15. Bruno Guimaraes – Newcastle United

As with Chelsea, there is an element of the unknown around Newcastle. With big money and big ambitions, they could eventually join City in having the wealth and status to keep just about any player. Guimaraes – outstanding after talking up a Champions League title bid while still in the relegation zone – looks to be in for the long haul.

16. Declan Rice – West Ham

Rice might have more suitors than Guimaraes right now, but he might also be a more straightforward buy. Although David Moyes suggested £150m would be "the minimum" required to recruit Rice, a player of his talents will want to play in the Champions League – and the Hammers look to have missed their chance.

17. Darwin Nunez – Liverpool

Nunez could jump into the top three in a year's time, yet he still has only two seasons with Benfica on his CV and so will have to continue to prove his class in one of Europe's big five leagues before being ranked alongside Haaland.

18. Kai Havertz – Chelsea

Chelsea are already again having to rebuild the rest of their front line this year, so the future of Havertz appears secure. Despite netting the winning goal in the Champions League final a year ago, it feels like there is still more to come from the forward.

19. Ruben Dias – Manchester City

Besides those listed above, so many of City's outstanding players would be relatively easy to replace given their transfer budget and the pull of working with Guardiola. But the club have consistently lost leaders in recent seasons, so Dias is a key man for the coming years.

20. Cristian Romero – Tottenham

As long as Spurs are trying to keep Antonio Conte happy – and their business so far in this window suggests that is the case – Romero is unlikely to be going anywhere. The centre-back was superb after arriving at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in January.

Chelsea have reportedly turned their attention to Bayern Munich winger and Germany international Serge Gnabry.

The decision was made to pivot away from Leeds United winger Raphinha after Barcelona seemingly moved into pole position for the Brazil international, with Chelsea then deciding to test the waters for former Arsenal forward Gnabry.

He is coming off his highest-scoring Bundesliga season, having netted 14 goals and contributed six assists in 34 league fixtures, scoring another three goals in the Champions League.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA GEAR UP FOR GNABRY BID

Despite it being widely reported that Chelsea have secured Raheem Sterling from Manchester City for fee of around £45million, the Blues are clearly not satisfied with their winger stocks. 

This was further fuelled by reports the club tried to include Christian Pulisic or Hakim Ziyech along with cash in a deal for Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, with Ziyech now appearing likely to land a move to Milan.

The Daily Mail claims Chelsea have enquired about Gnabry, 26, who debuted with Arsenal as a 17-year-old in 2012, but his time at the Gunners fizzled out with injuries before a loan move to West Brom, resulting in Werder Bremen scooping him up in a bargain £5m move.

He scored 11 goals in his first season in the Bundesliga to earn a move to Bayern, where he has tallied 171 games and 63 goals across four Bundesliga campaigns, winning four consecutive league titles.

ROUND-UP

– The Mirror is reporting that Barcelona's top priority is to sell Frenkie de Jong to fund their move for Leeds' Raphinha, while the Manchester Evening News claims top Manchester United officials are in Spain ironing out the details for the Dutch international's switch to Old Trafford.

– TalkSPORT claims that if United's chase of De Jong falls through, they are prepared to target Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves or Leicester City's Youri Tielemans.

Wolves have rejected an offer worth over £20m from Everton for 22-year-old midfielder Morgan Gibbs-White, according to The Telegraph.

– According to the Irish Independent, 21-year-old Nathan Collins will become the most expensive Irish player ever when he completes his £20.3m move from Burnley to Wolves this week.

– Fabrizio Romano is reporting that Ousmane Dembele has decided to stay on at Barcelona, shunning interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea.

Fulham have completed the signing of Andreas Pereira from Manchester United on a four-year contract.

The newly promoted team have reportedly paid £10million to sign the midfielder, who spent last season on loan at Flamengo.

Pereira played 75 times for United across all competitions, having started with club's youth system back in 2012. 

The 26-year-old also had loan spells with Granada, Valencia and Lazio prior to his move to Brazil last season.

He will now look to help Fulham retain their Premier League status over the coming years.

After signing his deal, which contains the option for a further year, on Monday, Pereira said: "I'm very happy to be here and I can't wait to start the season with Fulham.

"I want to help Fulham as much as I can to be where they belong. Marco Silva was very important for this. I spoke a lot with him, and he was a key factor in me being here."

Pereira made 40 Premier League appearances across two seasons for United from 2018 to 2020, but then fell out of favour.

"Everyone at United would like to thank Andreas for his years of service and wish him all the best for the rest of his career," said the Old Trafford club in a statement confirming his exit.

The Belgian-born player has one international cap for Brazil, which he earned in 2018.

Pereira's arrival at Fulham follows their high-profile move to sign midfielder Joao Palhinha from Sporting CP, in a deal worth up to £20m.

Erik ten Hag has confirmed Harry Maguire will stay on as Manchester United captain this season.

Maguire was named skipper by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in January 2020 following Ashley Young's exit from Old Trafford. 

The England international endured a difficult campaign both on and off the field last season, leading to suggestions David de Gea or Cristiano Ronaldo would take the armband instead.

Speaking after being unveiled as United's new manager in May, Ten Hag said he had yet to decide who would captain United in his first season in charge.

That came after interim boss Ralf Rangnick had suggested during his short stint at the helm that it should be down to the players to vote on who captains the side.

However, Ten Hag clarified at a news conference during United's pre-season trip to Thailand on Monday that Maguire will continue to lead the side.

"Harry Maguire is the captain," he said. "Of course I have to get to know all the players but he is the established captain and he has achieved a lot of success."

Maguire is about to begin his fourth season as a United player after joining from Leicester City in an £80million transfer in 2019, making him the world's most expensive defender.

The 29-year-old has made 144 appearances for United in all competitions, which is 11 more than next-highest Marcus Rashford during his time at Old Trafford.

However, he was regularly criticised for his performances in the 2021-22 campaign and was targeted with a bomb threat in April, which left the England international understandably shaken.

But former United captain Gary Neville believes Ten Hag has made the right choice in allowing Maguire to continue wearing the armband.

"Good," he tweeted in response to Ten Hag's announcement, which was met with a widely negative reaction by United's fanbase.

Neville then responded with: "Maybe support Maguire and stop bullying him on here! The new manager obviously likes him.

"The same United fans fuming with me for applauding the decision to keep Maguire as captain seem to be without knowing criticising the new manager for his decision."

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag insisted Cristiano Ronaldo is a part of his plans going forward, amid growing speculation of a departure.

Reports have linked the 37-year-old to a move away from Old Trafford, with the Portugal international's desire to play in and compete for the Champions League cited as a reason.

United finished sixth in the Premier League last season despite Ronaldo's 18 goals, ending the season way off the Champions League spots on 58 points – their lowest-ever total in the Premier League era.

Though United insisted the striker, signed from Juventus last year, was not for sale, Ronaldo added fuel to the fire when he failed to report for pre-season training last week.

Ten Hag, however, has reaffirmed the club's stance.

"So, he's not with us. That's due to personal issues," Ten Hag said in a news conference ahead of a meeting with rivals Liverpool in Bangkok.

"We are planning with Ronaldo for this season – that's it. I'm looking forward to working with him.

"He hasn't told me [he wants to leave]. I have read but as I say, Cristiano is not for sale, he's in our plans and we want to get success together.

"I spoke with him before this issue came up. I had a conversation with him and had a real good talk."

Meanwhile, United remain linked with a move for Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong, with the view of bolstering a weak point in midfield.

Ten Hag was unwilling to provide details on potential transfers, but said their search for reinforcements this off-season continues.

"We want to have the right player," Ten Hag added. "We have a really good squad, we're working on developing our way of play and if the opportunity is there, we will strike.

"Definitely, we are searching for players in the midfield and also in offence we are still looking for players. I never talk about players who are not under contract, players at different clubs. I cannot tell you anything about this issue."

After facing Liverpool on Tuesday, United head to Australia to take on Melbourne Victory, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa in Australia.

Erik ten Hag will get Manchester United into gear and enable them to meet high expectations this upcoming Premier League season, according to left-back Luke Shaw.

Ten Hag arrived in the close season to replace interim manager Ralf Rangnick, who in turn followed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, after United finished the league season in sixth on 58 points – their lowest tally in the Premier League era and 13 points off the Champions League spots.

The former Ajax coach is the fifth permanent manager to take over at Old Trafford since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, and United were expected to be active in the transfer market as Ten Hag aims to rebuild.

But United have only signed Feyenoord left-back Tyrell Malacia so far, despite Rangnick suggesting the Red Devils may need up to 10 players to reshape their squad to compete.

While the lack of transfer activity remains questionable, Shaw believes Ten Hag will raise the performance levels and provide a structure that was lacking in previous seasons.

"It's clear that he's a top, top manager," Shaw, who played 20 league games last season, said at a fan event in Bangkok. "He has a structure to play the way he wants us to play.

"We haven't had that for quite a while and it was clear to see last season, which was extremely disappointing.

"We have to bounce back, and he has been working us extremely hard, but I think we need it. We're really looking forward to this season because I know it's going to be much better than the last one."

Shaw was joined by team-mates Raphael Varane and Anthony Martial in a question-and-answer segment at the event, and was asked to provide a word that best reflects United's new outlook.

While Varane and Martial provided non-committal responses, Shaw proclaimed the team's ambition with the word "trophy", something United have not picked up since the Europa League in 2017.

Before travelling to Australia for an exhibition tour, United will face Liverpool on Tuesday in Thailand to kick off their pre-season.

Paul Pogba has completed a return to Juventus after his departure from Manchester United.

Pogba left United in June following the expiration of his contract, and had long been expected to rejoin his former club in Turin.

He left Juve to rejoin United six years ago, in a then-world record deal worth £89m (€112m).

Pogba spent four years at Juve during his last spell at the club, having also joined Juve on a free transfer from United in 2012. The France midfielder will wear the number 10 shirt for the Bianconeri, who signed Angel Di Maria on a free transfer last week.

His return to Old Trafford in 2016 was seen as a statement move by United as they looked to re-establish themselves as English football's premier power after three disappointing years since Alex Ferguson's retirement.

But Pogba's arrival was not the catalyst for a return to the glory years for United, who have not won the Premier League title since 2013.

Pogba has become a representation of United's underachievement in the eyes of many supporters, with his performances rarely at the level most expected for a world-record signing.

His relationship with fans was often fractious and their chants of "f*** off Pogba" – to which he responded by cupping his ear – during the April win over Norwich City suggested a parting of ways was likely the best option for all parties.

He leaves United having won the Europa League and EFL Cup once apiece.

While Juve have strengthened by bringing in Di Maria and Pogba, they look set to sell defender Matthijs de Ligt to fellow European heavyweights Bayern Munich.

Finding players of a similar profile to Robert Lewandowski is a difficult enough task, let alone trying to actually replace him.

That is the dilemma Bayern Munich find themselves in with the wantaway striker, however.

But the reigning Bundesliga champions might have identified the player who is closest in skill-set to Lewandowski, should he get his wish and leave for pastures new.

 

TOP STORY – KANE BAYERN'S TOP TARGET

Bayern have identified Harry Kane as the successor to Lewandowski, according to Kicker.

Kane's contract with Tottenham expires in 2024 and the 28-year-old would command a significant transfer fee, but one that would be reportedly attainable for Bayern in the event Lewandowski leaves.

According to the report, Lewandowski hopes Bayern will accept Barcelona's offer for him by Tuesday.

He is set to return for the commencement of pre-season training this week, but the German club seem to be preparing for the 33-year-old's departure. They have already brought in Sadio Mane from Liverpool.

ROUND-UP

Barcelona believe they will be able to sign Bernardo Silva from Manchester City, Mundo Deportivo claim.

– Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is reluctant to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to Stamford Bridge this off-season, the Daily Mail reports.

– Juventus are looking to use the funds from Matthijs de Ligt's sale to pay for Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli, per Tuttosport

– Arsenal are in talks to sign Benfica left-back Alex Grimaldo after submitting an initial bid, The Express reports.

– Wayne Rooney is set to return to D.C. United to take over as the team's head coach, according to The Athletic.

 

Victor Lindelof insists he is unbothered by Manchester United's critics as the Red Devils prepare for a new era under the demanding Erik ten Hag.

United endured another tough season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and then interim manager Ralf Rangnick last time out, finishing sixth after recording their lowest points tally in a Premier League season.

The Red Devils also failed to end a league campaign with a positive goal difference for the first time since the 1989-90 season (-1).

Ten Hag has been tasked with transforming United after moving to Old Trafford from Ajax, where he secured a third Eredivisie title in four full seasons at the helm after the 2021-22 term.

Lindelof has spent early July training under his new boss in Manchester before heading to Thailand, where United face Liverpool in a pre-season friendly in Bangkok on Tuesday.

While the Sweden international is keen to ignore doubters from outside the club, Lindelof admitted he and his team-mates are doing their utmost to make a noticeable first impression on Ten Hag.

"When you play at this club there are always going to be people who talk," he told ESPN.

"We want to play at a high level and play well and win games, but I don't think the players care really.

"For me, the pressure I put on myself – I am the most critical person of myself. I don't really care what other people say, and I think the rest of the guys are the same.

"Of course, we didn't perform the way we wanted to, but last season is in the past.

"I think everyone is trying to look ahead and everyone is excited to work with the new manager and learn his style of play. I don't think we want to look back, we want to look forward and try to perform better."

United are also due to face Melbourne Victory, Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano in pre-season, with the latter being Ten Hag's first game at Old Trafford on July 31.

The friendlies will represent a chance to gain much-needed match practice for the upcoming season, though Lindelof was quick to praise the training sessions Ten Hag has run ahead of the pre-season warm-ups.

"The training sessions have really stepped up," he added. "On day one he was explaining what he wants us to do. He's very good at paying attention to the details and that's the biggest change.

"He has changed a lot. He has his style of play and he wants to implement those things. We've been talking a lot and practising a lot of different things. It's been very, very good so far.

"I wouldn't say there's a list of rules but he demands a lot from us, on the pitch but also off the pitch. We are all professionals so it's not a problem.

"He's coming in and he wants us to play in a certain way so of course he has to communicate it to the players. If something is not right or if something is not the way he wants it he will explain it again and try to show what he wants."

Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal have all been active in the transfer window already, but United have only brought in left-back Tyrell Malacia from Feyenoord.

That may come as somewhat as a surprise, given Rangnick suggested up to 10 players were needed and Ten Hag was expected to rebuild, but the lack of activity does not concern Lindelof.

"I'm not really focused on other teams and what they're doing in the transfer market," he continued. "I don't read things. I just try to focus on myself and my team, that's the most important thing.

"[Liverpool and Man City] have been performing well but I have great belief in the players that we have and I think we can perform at a very, very high level. If we do things right and we work hard we can compete.

"We represent this amazing club and we want to compete for trophies. The aim for every footballer is to win so it's always what we're looking to do."

Netherlands midfielder Jackie Groenen is set to miss the defending champions' second game at Euro 2022 after testing positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

The news emerged just 13 hours after Groenen played the full 90 minutes against Sweden in the Netherlands' opener, a 1-1 draw at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane stadium.

In a statement on Twitter, Oranje team officials stated: "Jackie Groenen has unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19 and will therefore be in isolation for the next few days. When she is free of complaints and tests negative, she can rejoin the selection."

After the draw with a Sweden team who are strongly fancied to advance alongside the Dutch to the quarter-final stage, the Netherlands play their next game against Portugal on Wednesday in Leigh, before returning to Bramall Lane next Sunday to tackle Switzerland.

Groenen plays club football for Manchester United, with the 27-year-old having played for the Women's Super League side since the 2019-20 season.

She became the team's first-ever overseas recruit, arriving following United's promotion to the English top flight.

Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool will head into the 2022-23 season "as confident as possible" about the prospect of challenging on all fronts once again.

Liverpool fell short of an unprecedented quadruple last season, faltering in both the Champions League final and on the last day of the Premier League season after lifting the EFL Cup and FA Cup.

Liverpool relied on penalties in both of their cup successes as they failed to score in five and a half hours of football in major finals last season, which led to concerns over their ruthlessness in front of goal.

Darwin Nunez has since arrived at Anfield from Benfica in a deal reportedly worth £64million (€75m), with a further £21.4m in potential add-ons, in a move that Klopp will hope provides greater reliability in attack.

Star forward Mohamed Salah has also penned a contract extension and, despite Sadio Mane leaving for Bayern Munich, Klopp remains convinced Liverpool can compete with Manchester City once more.

"As confident as possible. You never know obviously but I saw today on the plane a squad full of quality," he told reporters at Sunday's news conference in Thailand, where Liverpool are on a pre-season tour. 

"You always need a little bit of luck, how we all know, if you want to win a trophy. But to play a good season you need first and foremost consistency, that's what it's all about and that's what we will try.

"I have no doubt about the quality of the boys. We brought in new players – yes, we lost a few players – but we brought in new players; if you want, fresh blood, really helpful.

"There are no places already sorted, who will play where. The boys will make pressure, which is important.

"We have five subs from now on in the Premier League as well – we have to get used to that, we have to adapt to that. I'm really looking forward to it.

"There are no guarantees in football but there's a good chance that we play another good season, I would say."

Liverpool face fierce rivals Manchester United in Bangkok on Tuesday in what will be Erik ten Hag's first game in charge of the Red Devils.

The Reds hammered United by an aggregate scoreline of 9-0 in the Premier League last season, and Klopp insists there will be no such thing as a friendly between the two teams.

"Manchester United, a new manager, trained a little bit longer than us so might be, I'm not sure, in a better situation in the moment," he added.

"But we see it as an important test because it's against United and we don't play friendlies, obviously both teams don't play friendlies against each other, so we will see what we can do.

"We never prepare for one match, we prepare for a full season. That means the boys who started Monday last week had a proper start so far, we could train in the way we wanted.

"We had now a full week already and we are now here to play two games in Asia, first this one and then in Singapore against Crystal Palace. So, we have to see.

"We have to train and we have to play, it means the games are actually like a session as well but the boys have to go really hard.

"Let's see where we stand in this specific moment and then we can go home to England and then we go from there to Austria for another camp."

Matthijs de Ligt leaving Juventus would be a "great loss" for Massimiliano Allegri's side, according to former Bianconeri defender Andrea Barzagli.

Barzagli formed a formidable centre-back trio with Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci during his time in Turin, with the latter pair still playing for Juve when De Ligt arrived for €85.5million from Ajax in 2019.

The Netherlands international has fallen short of expectations during his first three years, leading to transfer speculation with Chelsea, Manchester United and Bayern Munich apparently interested.

De Ligt played more minutes (2,675) than any other Juve outfield player in the 2021-22 Serie A season as Allegri's side finished fourth after a poor start to the campaign.

While questions remain over the leadership qualities of De Ligt, who Juve chief executive Maurizio Arrivabene says wants to leave, Barzagli believes the centre-back would be missed at the Allianz Stadium.

"Matthijs did not show his maximum potential despite the excellent championship last year, in which he began to take responsibility for leading the defence and the team," Barzagli told Tuttosport.

"De Ligt arrived at Juventus when he was young and with the pressure of having been paid a lot, with two great defenders in front of him like Chiellini and Bonucci.

"It is not easy when you get paid like that and there are expectations. It is difficult to find continuity and have the right confidence with two monsters like that in front.

"If he were to leave, it would be a great loss for Juventus and also for the Italian championship."

Erik ten Hag hopes "one or two" of the Manchester United youngsters travelling with the senior side for pre-season can break into his squad for the new season, but he warned it will not be easy.

Ten Hag was appointed as successor to interim manager Ralf Rangnick in May after the German and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer before him presided over a dreadful season that culminated in United finishing sixth.

Their points total of 58 was the worst United have ever recorded in the Premier League, while the 2021-22 campaign saw them fail to finish a league campaign with a positive goal difference for the first time in over 30 years.

That haul of 58 points was six fewer than David Moyes – and Ryan Giggs as his caretaker replacement – managed in the 2013-14 season, which was the first following Alex Ferguson's retirement.

With many players seemingly coming to the end of the road with United, all signs pointed towards a massive rebuild occurring over the transfer window; several signings were expected after Rangnick suggested they needed as many as 10, while there was an expectation some younger players would get a chance.

Things have not really gone to plan on the transfer front yet, with left-back Tyrell Malacia the only new face, but United did head out on their pre-season tour with a host of youngsters in the travelling party.

Charlie Savage, Zidane Iqbal, Alejandro Garnacho, Nathan Bishop, Matej Kovar, Ethan Laird, James Garner, Facundo Pellistri and Amad Diallo are all with United in Bangkok, waiting to stake their claims, but Ten Hag suggested they are probably not even aware of how hard they will need to work to impress him.

"What I want to see is that they learn but also they show themselves because they have to deserve a position in top football," Ten Hag told MUTV.

"You have to deserve your position. It means you have to deliver every day, that demands a certain style, a certain way of life that they have to adapt to, that they probably don't know yet.

"But I am really looking forward to seeing if they can do it.

"I hope one or two, they can prove themselves and they come into the squad but, if they want to enter the dressing room, they have to deserve it."

United will play their first pre-season match – and first under Ten Hag's stewardship – in Bangkok on Tuesday when they face bitter rivals Liverpool.

They are also due to face Melbourne Victory, Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano in pre-season, with the latter being Ten Hag's first game at Old Trafford on July 31.

Sanctions placed on Roman Abramovich as a consequence of Russia's invasion of Ukraine plunged Chelsea into uncertainty earlier this year, but an ownership change has seen a degree of stability return.

Despite the departures of Romelu Lukaku, Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen this off-season, Todd Boehly's consortium has allowed Chelsea to resume with their preparations for the new season.

And it appears they are close to clinching their first signing of the new era, with a transfer for one of the Premier League's best attackers seemingly imminent.

 

TOP STORY – RAHEEM STERLING SET FOR CHELSEA

Chelsea have reached a deal with Manchester City to sign Raheem Sterling, according to David Ornstein of the Athletic.

The 27-year-old is set to sign a contract until 2027 with the option of an extra season, signalling the first major signing under new ownership.

Starting his senior career with Liverpool, Sterling moved to City in 2015, scoring 131 times in 339 appearances for them in all competitions.

The England international's status under Pep Guardiola became less secure in the past season however, with Phil Foden and Jack Grealish seeing increased time on the left wing.
 

ROUND-UP

– Meanwhile, Barcelona have matched Chelsea's offer of €70.1million (£60m) plus add-ons for Leeds United's Raphinha, Goal is reporting.

– Frenkie de Jong is hoping to remain at Barcelona and will reject an approach from Manchester United, per Sport.

– Bayern Munich have met with the representatives of Matthijs de Ligt, but Juventus are yet to receive an opening bid, according to Fabrizio Romano.

– Brighton and Hove Albion are in talks with Marc Cucurella over an improved deal amid interest from Manchester City, the Athletic reports.

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