Cristiano Ronaldo said Manchester United have "always had a special place" in his heart after completing his return to the club from Juventus.

The 36-year-old finalised his transfer to the Red Devils on Tuesday for an initial fee of £12.9million (€15m), signing a two-year contract with the option of a third.

The deal came after United made a late push to bring the player back to the club, just as it had looked likely he would sign for rivals Manchester City.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner scored 118 goals in 292 games in his first spell at United from 2003 to 2009, winning three Premier League titles and the Champions League, a trophy he has lifted five times in his career.

Ronaldo is expected to make his first appearance for United in 12 years against Newcastle United on September 11, after the international break.

"Manchester United is a club that has always had a special place in my heart, and I have been overwhelmed by all the messages I have received since the announcement on Friday," he said via United's website.

"I cannot wait to play at Old Trafford in front of a full stadium and see all the fans again. I'm looking forward to joining up with the team after the international games, and I hope we have a very successful season ahead."

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was a team-mate of Ronaldo's towards the end of his playing career, was delighted to bring Real Madrid's record goalscorer back to the club.

"You run out of words to describe Cristiano," Solskjaer said. "He is not only a marvellous player, but also a great human being. To have the desire and the ability to play at the top level for such a long period requires a very special person.

"I have no doubt that he will continue to impress us all and his experience will be so vital for the younger players in the squad. Ronaldo's return demonstrates the unique appeal of this club and I am absolutely delighted he is coming home to where it all started."

Edinson Cavani will now stay at Manchester United during the international break after Uruguay confirmed the striker will not travel due to current restrictions.

The Premier League announced last week that clubs had agreed players who would have to travel to red-list COVID-19 countries would not be released.

Despite the decision, Cavani was initially selected for Oscar Tabarez's squad for their three World Cup qualifiers against Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador.

Both Uruguay and Peru are on the United Kingdom's red list, meaning the 34-year-old would have had to quarantine for 10 days in a hotel upon his return from South America.

Tabarez has opted to cancel the call-up due to the fact the United forward would subsequently miss at least two top-flight games against Newcastle United and West Ham and the Champions League match with Young Boys.

The announcement comes after Aston Villa and Tottenham confirmed they would let their Argentinian contingent travel, while Liverpool remained firm in not letting their Brazil trio leave nor Egypt forward Mohamed Salah.

Indeed, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer urged Cavani to stay loyal to the club last weekend, warning his striker that he risked making himself unavailable should he travel.

Meanwhile, United prospect Amad Diallo will also be staying in Manchester after his proposed loan move to Feyenoord was cancelled due to a thigh injury sustained in training. The 19-year-old is set to be out for up to six weeks and will undergo rehabilitation in England.

Speaking to Dutch outlet AD, Feyenoord's technical director Frank Arnesen confirmed: "He got injured, it [the loan] is cancelled.

"Too bad, everything was done. I've talked a lot with the people at Manchester United, but it's more sensible to let him recover at that club. It may be a while before he is back."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would not rule out Manchester United players leaving following the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, saying the Portugal star was "not signed to sit on the bench".

The Red Devils announced on Friday that they had agreed a deal with Juventus, reportedly worth an initial £12.8million (€15m), to bring the 36-year-old back to Old Trafford subject to personal terms, a visa and a medical.

The signing could not be completed in time for United's Premier League clash with Wolves on Sunday, which was settled by a Mason Greenwood strike in the 80th minute as Solskjaer's men set a new English league record of 28 away games unbeaten.

With an international break now coming up, Ronaldo's first chance to turn out for the club he left in 2009 is likely to be against Newcastle United at Old Trafford on September 11.

Solskjaer, who confirmed on Sky Sports that he intends to deploy Ronaldo more as a centre-forward than a wide player, hopes the new addition will be ready as soon as possible once the deal is concluded and he returns from Portugal duties.

"We need to get all the paperwork done. Hopefully we can get that sorted and announce it 100 per cent," Solskjaer said.

"He's away with Portugal, I think they've got three games, his last game is on the Tuesday, so get him back to Manchester with Bruno [Fernandes] and hopefully he'll be involved as soon as possible."

Ronaldo's comeback means United are stocked in attack and could look to offload some players before the transfer window closes.

Amad Diallo had been close to joining Feyenoord on loan, although an injury could reportedly scupper that move, while Jesse Lingard and Dan James have also been linked with departures.

"Of course, he [Ronaldo] was not signed to sit on the bench," said Solskjaer. "He's going to make us a better team, of course.

"There have been a couple of enquiries for some of our players and with the signing of Cristiano, we might give less playing time to a few.

"Dan is a Man United player at the moment."

United laboured for much of the first hour at Molineux and were indebted to a stunning double save from David de Gea to deny Romain Saiss shortly before Greenwood's winner.

"We got three points, get a clean sheet, on another day they might score one in the first half when Aaron [Wan-Bissaka] saves one off the line, or when David saves those two chances second half," Solskjaer said.

"With Mason, he's a special kid.  The boy is unique at hitting the target quickly: right foot, left foot, it doesn't matter to him.

"We've played better, definitely, but sometimes you've got to earn your luck and I thought we did."

Solskjaer was delighted with the performance of defender Raphael Varane, who was largely impeccable at the back and even earned an assist on his United debut.

"Top, top performance," Solskjaer said. "This was 'welcome to the Premier League': tempo, hustle-bustle, tackle, have to defend counter-attacks. He's good in the air, so composed on the ball and he's so experienced, nothing fazes him, and he was good in the dressing room before the game and at half-time.

"I'm delighted for him. I thought he showed his class."

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is confident "special" Mason Greenwood will go on to become a top player for club and country following his winning goal against Wolves.

Greenwood scored the only goal of Sunday's game in the 80th minute as United made it a record-breaking 28 successive unbeaten away matches in the English top flight.

In doing so, the 19-year-old became only the second teenager to find the net in the opening three matches of a Premier League season after Robbie Fowler for Liverpool in 1994-95.

Despite his promising start to the campaign, Greenwood was left out for the England squad ahead of the upcoming international break.

Although following discussions with Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate, Solskjaer admitted the decision was the right one for the youngster's development.

"The boy is special. Mason's a player we [Southgate and himself] can both see being a top player for Manchester United and England," he told Sky Sports.

"Of course, he wants to play for his country but at the moment, I think the best for him is to just focus on his everyday football. 

"I'm sure he'll come good for England in the end."

Solskjaer also heaped praise on David de Gea, who made five saves at Molineux to keep the hosts at bay.

Among them was a superb double-save from close range to deny Romain Saiss the opening goal in the 69th minute.

"David's found his determination and desire. He's come back with loads of energy,” added Solskjaer, who was taking charge of his 100th league match for the Red Devils. 

"You can see that in the work he's doing every single day. 

"The second save from that corner is special. That's not just hit him; that's reaction and he's got a strong arm to it."

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says the return of Cristiano Ronaldo will provide everybody around the club with a timely boost.

United announced on Friday that a deal had been agreed to bring the Portugal captain back to the club for a second spell.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo will reportedly move from Juventus in a deal worth £12.8m (€15m) plus £6.9m (€8m) in add-ons.

The 36-year-old enjoyed a hugely successful first stint with the Red Devils between 2003 and 2009.

The forward scored 118 goals in 292 appearances while winning three Premier League titles, the Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup before his world-record transfer to Real Madrid.

And Solskjaer is excited by the potential impact of his former team-mate, who is said to have undergone a medical in Lisbon this weekend.

"The fans have been excited for the last couple of days, we all are of course," he told MUTV.

"He has had such a great career and he has been here before. 

"Hopefully, we can just finalise the paperwork and announce it. 

"I played with him, he's a great player, he is a top human being, he is a top professional, so he will give everybody in the squad and everybody around the club a buzz."

Meanwhile, Luke Shaw says he and his team-mates cannot wait to line up alongside Ronaldo and tap into his vast experience at the highest level.

"I feel like it's given the club a massive lift, not just inside but also outside," the defender told Sky Sports.

"Obviously, it's a big positive. He's been one of the best players in the world for a number of years now. 

"Everyone is excited for him to come in and not just learn from him but to be able to play with him too."

Sunday marks a special occasion in the managerial career of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The 48-year-old will take charge of Manchester United in a Premier League match for the 100th time, becoming only the ninth man in the club's history to oversee as many top-flight games.

He could also lead the Red Devils to an English football record should he mark the milestone by avoiding defeat against Wolves at Molineux.

Stats Perform takes a quick data dive into Solskjaer's top-flight record as boss at Old Trafford...

 

In his 99 league games in charge, Solskjaer has managed 52 wins, 28 draws and 19 defeats. That gives him a win percentage of 52.53, with an average of 1.86 points per game.

Of the eight previous managers to reach the milestone for the Red Devils in the top flight, only Ernest Mangnall (54) won more of his first 100 in charge than the Norwegian.

Solskjaer's side have scored 181 goals and conceded 107. Their biggest win came in February, when they equalled their Premier League record by beating Southampton 9-0. That was the fifth time under Solskjaer that United have scored at least five goals in a league match - something they failed to do once under David Moyes, Louis van Gaal or Jose Mourinho.

Solskjaer's average points per game puts him third among United managers in the Premier League era, behind Mourinho (1.89) and Alex Ferguson (2.16). He has the best attack in the post-Ferguson era, but also the leakiest defence.

United have taken 184 points under Solskjaer, a figure that puts him 10th in a league table of managers over their first 99 games in the Premier League. He is just three points off the tally amassed by Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, but well short of the 210 accrued by Ferguson, Pep Guardiola's 234 at Manchester City, or the record of 237 set by Mourinho at Chelsea.

The signing of Bruno Fernandes last January was transformative for United and Solskjaer. They won 21 and lost 13 of their 45 league games under Solskjaer before the Portugal star's arrival; since he joined, they have won 31 of 54 games, and lost only six.

On average, United have scored more goals per game, from a lower expected goals figure per game, all while attempting fewer shots. At the same time, they have faced fewer attempts on average, conceded fewer goals and posted a lower expected goals against figure since Fernandes arrived.

As for game 100 itself, the omens are against Solskjaer: of the previous eight United managers to reach 100 games in charge in England's top flight, only Matt Busby and Tommy Docherty celebrated the milestone with a win.

Of course, if United do avoid defeat at Molineux, they will set a new English football league record of 28 consecutive away games unbeaten.

Cristiano Ronaldo is heading back to Old Trafford.

Going into Friday, it seemed as though Manchester City would be signing one of United's all-time greats.

On Friday morning, the deal appeared to be edging closer – Ronaldo was pictured leaving Juventus' training ground before coach Massimiliano Allegri confirmed the 36-year-old was departing the club altogether.

Yet in the time it took for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Pep Guardiola to complete their pre-match news conferences, the deal had turned on its head.

By early afternoon in the United Kingdom, City had pulled out to leave United as clear front-runners and, just before 17:00 BST, Ronaldo's sensational return to Old Trafford had been confirmed.

United reached an agreement with Juve for the attacker, who scored 81 goals in 98 Serie A matches after joining from Real Madrid in 2018, nine years after his first spell in the Premier League ended.

The €23million (£19.7m) deal is subject to the completion of personal terms, a medical and the acquisition of a visa, but none of those are expected to cause issues.

So, with Ronaldo set to be back in the fold, Stats Perform assesses how United are likely to line up.

4-2-3-1: David de Gea; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw; Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba; Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford; Cristiano Ronaldo.

GK: David de Gea

While he's probably no longer regarded among the world's very best goalkeepers, De Gea still edges out Dean Henderson for a place in this team at the moment, though he is sure to be pushed hard once the England international returns from injury. De Gea played 26 times in the league last season and conceded 32 goals from an expected goals against (xGA) value of 28.1, meaning he was culpable for the concession of nearly four goals over the course of the campaign. Henderson, on the other hand, outperformed his xGA figure of 13.8 by only conceding 12 goals in the 13 appearances he made, giving him a 'goals prevented' record of 1.8 – this suggests he was the more dependable of the two goalkeepers, and his save percentage of 76.5 was significantly better than De Gea's (65.2) as well.

RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Wan-Bissaka made 34 league appearances last term. Of all defenders in the top flight, only Leeds United's Luke Ayling (61) registered more successful tackles than the former Crystal Palace full-back (54), though his success rate of 61.4 per cent was better than the former's (56.5 per cent). Wan-Bissaka also improved his contributions to United's attack with six goal involvements, a figure bettered by only six defenders, while just four kept more than the 13 clean sheets he recorded.

CB: Raphael Varane

Ronaldo will be joining up with one of his former Madrid team-mates, with World Cup-winner Varane having previously arrived to bolster United's defence. Out of LaLiga defenders to contest 20 or more aerial battles last term, Varane led the way with a 76 per cent success rate, which vastly improves on Victor Lindelof's 59.4 per cent aerial success rate from last season.

CB: Harry Maguire

Alongside Varane, Maguire adds leadership and Premier League experience. The England man won 63.8 per cent of his duels last season, while his aerial prowess should help United dominate in both boxes. His ability with the ball often gets overlooked, and expect to see plenty of long diagonals from left to right, where Jadon Sancho or Mason Greenwood will no doubt be waiting.

LB: Luke Shaw

Shaw does have Alex Telles as quality competition but there is no doubting the 26-year-old's place in this XI. Of Premier League defenders, only Trent Alexander-Arnold (77) created more chances than Shaw (72) last term, while the left-back created an average of 2.4 opportunities per 90 minutes, the most in the league among defenders.

CM: Scott McTominay

Ronaldo's signing does mean one thing; Solskjaer has to be bold with his team selections. With so much attacking quality at his disposal, the Norwegian must, outside of the biggest games, dispense with a midfield duo of McTominay and Fred, and it is the Scotland international – who is currently out injured – who should get the nod.

CM: Paul Pogba

A long-standing issue with Solskjaer's preferred 4-2-3-1 is whether or not it gets the best out of Pogba, who starred for France at Euro 2020 in a midfield three. That has not been much of an issue so far this season as he's been filling in brilliantly on the left in Marcus Rashford's absence, with Pogba already registering five assists, becoming the first player in Premier League history to manage that tally across the opening two games of a campaign.

RW: Jadon Sancho

If Ronaldo is one for the here and now, then Sancho is a player for United's future, though the ex-Borussia Dortmund flyer is of course a star in his own right. He seems likely to alternate with Greenwood for a role on the right. He scored 38 goals and provided 45 assists in 104 Bundesliga appearances for Dortmund; since his debut in October 2017, only Thomas Muller (91) and Robert Lewandowski (137) managed more direct goal involvements prior to the start of 2021-22.

AM: Bruno Fernandes

Ronaldo will not be the only Portugal star on show at Old Trafford. Solskjaer's team has been built around Fernandes, who created a league-high 95 shooting chances last season, assisting 12 goals and scoring a further 18. His hat-trick against Leeds on the opening day of 2021-22 also has him joint-top of the scoring charts after two games.

LW: Marcus Rashford

Rashford is currently recovering from surgery on a shoulder injury that plagued his 2020-21 campaign, with Pogba, Anthony Martial, Sancho, Greenwood and Daniel James – if he stays put – likely to battle it out for a place on the left in the meantime. Ronaldo, of course, can also play from the left, though it seems he will be much better utilised as the focal point in United's attack.

ST: Cristiano Ronaldo

United have Edinson Cavani, but there can surely be no doubt who will start in the majority of matches. Ronaldo is a bona fide superstar who has – alongside Lionel Messi – sustained his success at the highest level for almost 20 years. Ronaldo is the only United player to score 30+ goals in a season in Premier League history (31 in 2007-08), and while that record may seem out of reach, his arrival could have transformed the Red Devils into genuine title contenders.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Rio Ferdinand was "out of order" with his comments on why Phil Jones is still a Manchester United player.

Defender Jones, 29, has not played a Premier League game since the 2-0 win over Burnley on January 22 last year.

Former United star Ferdinand said on his Vibe with Five video that Jones should have been released "ages ago" and suggested he was unfairly keeping youngsters out of the first-team picture by being at the club yet unavailable.

The centre-back has been struggling with long-term injury issues, the most serious of which is a knee problem, but he played his first United game for 18 months in a behind-closed-doors friendly last week – also against Burnley.

Solskjaer, who himself battled a long-term knee problem as a player, explained on Friday why he has not been prepared to rush Jones back into action.

"Phil has had a horrible 18, 19, 20 months and probably a year before that as well with injuries," he said. "I think Rio was a bit, not out of order, he should have called me and asked why Phil hasn't played or why Phil hasn't been here.

"Phil is a no-fuss, get-on-with-it type of guy, and I think that was out of order completely [from Ferdinand]. I know more than anyone how it feels to be injured.

"Phil is still not 30 years of age. Since I came back here, he's battled against his knee injury and he put his body on the line every single training session, every single game. There are a few times we've had to manage him, and he's never done anything but give everything for the club.

"Rio of all should know more than go out and say this. I wanted to say a lot, I've not said a lot about Phil's injury because I protect him, he never does social media, never has to do interviews, just gets his head down, proper professional, no fuss, a family man, and just wants to get back fit.

"I was out for two years in a three-year period with a knee injury and Phil has battled valiantly and I know how Phil has felt. Because you're embarrassed at times coming in, but he has to look after his career and he's now getting back to fitness.

"Now is not the time for me to throw him in. Maybe give him a little more, a month, six weeks and he'll be there. For me as a manager to see he can see light at end of the tunnel, it's great because I've been through the same."

While Jones appears unlikely to leave the club before the transfer window closes, there remains speculation over the future of Jesse Lingard, but Solskjaer seems keen to keep a player who has just earned an England recall.

"I know there's loads of speculation about him, but he's had a very good pre-season; just been picked for England in the squad," he said.

"It's just been unfortunate that he got COVID just before the league started. He would have 100 per cent started the first game [against Leeds United] because of the pre-season he had, so I can see him doing well this season."

Solskjaer also insisted Donny van de Beek will be given his chance to impress this season, even though he did not get off the bench in United's opening two fixtures.

"We started against Leeds with a 5-1 win, [which was] justification for the team selection," he said. "Then we moved to the next one, Scott [McTominay] couldn't play and Nemanja [Matic] has been our best player in pre-season.

"Donny has worked hard, he's done really well, I can't say anything else. He'll get his chances when the season gets going."

Scott McTominay faces a spell on the Manchester United sidelines after undergoing groin surgery just two games into the Premier League season.

The Scotland international will also be unavailable for his country while he recovers, with United not putting a timeline on that prospect.

He was omitted this week from Steve Clarke's squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Denmark, Moldova and Austria.

United said in a statement on Thursday: "Scott has undergone surgery for an ongoing groin injury that was causing significant pain when playing.

"Having tried all other treatment options in pre-season, surgery was deemed necessary to resolve the issue. We hope to have him back soon."

Midfielder McTominay will miss Sunday's clash at Wolves, as United attempt to stretch their Premier League away unbeaten run to a record-breaking 28 games.

It then remains to be seen how well he recovers from surgery, with league games against Newcastle United, West Ham and Aston Villa approaching in September, along with the start of the Champions League group stage.

But McTominay is optimistic his absence will be a short one.

He wrote on Instagram: "Just to let you all know I've had minor surgery on an issue which has needed managing for the last couple of months, I hate missing games so to be missing Wolves on the weekend and the international break is so disappointing but that's part and parcel of the game.

"Wishing all the boys the best of luck and I will be back sooner than you think."

McTominay came through the United academy and emerged firstly as a favourite of Jose Mourinho before continuing his progress under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's leadership.

He has proven a useful member of the first-team squad; curiously, though, United have had a higher win percentage from the games when he has not featured since the beginning of last season.

When McTominay has started, United have won 52.6 per cent of their games (20 of 38), but when he has not been selected in the starting XI that win rate has been 64 per cent (16 of 25).

The points-per-game difference is less marked, however, with United picking up an average 1.9 points with McTominay and 2.0 when he has not started.

McTominay has proven his combative qualities again since the beginning of the 2020-21 campaign, with his duel success rate of 58.17 per cent rivalled only by Nemanja Matic (56.05) among United midfielders.

When it comes to tackles by United midfielders, only Fred (121) and Bruno Fernandes (89) have made more than McTominay (81) in the same period.

Donny van de Beek has been given "clarity" over his Manchester United future by boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to the midfielder's agent Guido Albers.

The 24-year-old started just four times in the Premier League in a disappointing first campaign at Old Trafford following a reported £35million switch from Ajax last September.

He was then forced to miss the Netherlands' Euro 2020 campaign through injury and has been an unused substitute in United's opening two games of the 2021-22 campaign.

However, speaking after Sunday's 1-1 draw with Southampton, Solskjaer offered Van de Beek assurances when stating the Dutchman is an "important" part of his plans this term.

Van de Beek's agent Albers is confident Solskjaer will stick to his word and use the Ajax academy product more often over the next nine months.

"Everyone within the club knows that Donny cannot have another season like last year," Albers told De Telegraaf. "In preparation, clarity has been provided about his role. 

"The fans had already embraced him before, but the most important thing is that the trainer has now provided clarity in the English press.

"We are happy with that. And I assume that Donny will play a lot in one of the positions in midfield in the coming period."

United won three and lost one of the four games Van de Beek started in the league last season for a 75 per cent win rate.

That drops to 52.9 per cent in the other 34 matches the Red Devils started without the Dutchman, while their average goals scored fell from 2.3 with Van de Beek to 1.9 without.

He led the way for United in the Premier League in 2020-21 in terms of tackles won per 90 minutes (1.75), meanwhile, and Paul Pogba (2.09) was the only midfielder to play more than once to complete more dribbles per 90 minutes than Van de Beek's 1.4.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reiterated his desire to keep Paul Pogba after he once again caught the eye in Manchester United's 1-1 draw at Southampton.

Pogba provided four assists in a 5-1 rout of Leeds United last weekend and the midfielder set up Mason Greenwood's equaliser at St Mary's on Sunday after a Fred own goal gave Saints a first-half lead.

Former Juventus man Pogba became the first player to provide five assists in the opening two games of a Premier League campaign.

The 28-year-old is in the final year of his contract and has been linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain, but Red Devils boss Solskjaer hopes he will extend his stay at Old Trafford.

When asked about Pogba's future, Solskjaer said: "That's going to be the question every week now until he does [sign a new deal].

"As I've said all the time, Paul is a top player and the talks between the club and his representatives I'm not involved in but he knows how much I care about him and we want him to play well for us."

He added: "He's been very good. Paul has come in bright, with his own personality. He's lean, he's been working hard over the summer and he's enjoying himself.

"I think we've seen that Paul wants to contribute. Of course you don't see him in the dressing room or in training, but he's really determined, he shows his winning mentality and I'm very pleased with him."

 

United felt they should have been awarded a free-kick for a foul on Bruno Fernandes by Jack Stephens just before Saints' opening goal.

Solskjaer was puzzled that referee Craig Pawson and the VAR saw nothing untoward and thinks the officials are being too lenient early in the new season

He said: "We should do better. If we don't get the foul, we should make sure we block the shot, put your body on the line and make sure they don't get a shot on target.

"That being said, it's a foul. He goes straight through Bruno with his own hip and his arm across him and I'm a bit, not worried, but we have to look at it because you can't go from one extreme going from volleyball or basketball last year to rugby now.

"I've liked the more lenient way, more men's football but it's still basically a foul. You can see early on they got the crowd going with a few tackles and we did suffer a few tackles, which was their thinking early on it looked like."

Solskjaer also revealed winger Amad Diallo could go out on loan before the transfer window closes.

The former Norway striker said: "He's a top player and what he's done in training in the last week or so since he came back from the Olympics has been really impressive. If we find the right place for him we will probably let him go, if not he will be in the squad very soon.

"He's training with us and doing really well, I'm sure if he stays he will contribute but if the right offer comes for him we have to consider it of course."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has challenged Paul Pogba and Manchester United to make sure they build on their statement performance against Leeds United.

The Red Devils started their Premier League season with a 5-1 thrashing of Leeds at Old Trafford last week, with Bruno Fernandes scoring a hat-trick in a convincing victory.

Pogba recorded four assists as part of a stellar performance, one more than he managed in the whole of the 2020-21 league season.

The France star became only the seventh player in Premier League history to set up four goals in a single match, and the first for United.

There remains uncertainty about Pogba's future, with his contract expiring next year, although Solskjaer insists talks are ongoing between the club and the midfielder's representatives.

For now, the United manager is keen for his players to keep up their high standards when they head to Southampton on Sunday, facing a team they beat 9-0 in their previous meeting in February.

"That's negotiations with Paul's representatives and the club," Solskjaer said of Pogba's contract talks. "Me and Paul work together every day here and keep on trying to improve, improve the team and enjoy ourselves. When you win games, you enjoy yourself more.

"We've got to make sure that this one game and we get big headlines and all the praise we get... it's about bringing more energy to the next one and being better. One swallow never makes a summer."

Another United player tipped to leave before the transfer window closes is Jesse Lingard, who thrived on loan at West Ham last season and has been linked with a permanent move back to the club.

Solskjaer, however, has encouraged Lingard to find a way back into the regular United line-up.

"Jesse's first priority is to get into our team," the United manager said. "Whenever you're employer is Man United, that's your priority. Together, we can have great moments.

"With players in a squad like I've got now, it's difficult to say that, this weekend, you're not playing. I've got to leave players out never mind from the starting XI, but from the squad. But they have to know that they're going to play a part if we're going to be successful.

"He's come back bubbly and he's got a big part to play."

Solskjaer still expects to see players leave on loan in the coming days. Wales international Dylan Levitt has joined Dundee United for the rest of the season, while James Garner is expected to return to Nottingham Forest, where he spent some of 2020-21.

However, Solskjaer suggested Amad Diallo could stay at United after impressing during training following his return from Olympic Games duty with Ivory Coast.

"I'd definitely think Jimmy will go on loan, that's more or less done, he's done really well in pre-season and really impressed me," Solskjaer said. "For his career, another six months or a season in the Championship will help him.

"With Amad, I have to say he's doing really well, really well in training, he's come back a little later after the Olympics and he's looking really good. I wouldn't be surprised if he stayed. It has to be the right loan, right move, right club, right way of playing for every player."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Raphael Varane has held Manchester United in his heart for the past 10 years as the defender prepares for a possible debut against Southampton.

The France international was presented to fans at Old Trafford ahead of the 5-1 win over Leeds United last week, having signed a four-year deal after Real Madrid accepted an initial fee of around £34million.

The 28-year-old was wanted by United when he was a rising star at Lens, but he chose to join Madrid in 2011, where he went on to win three LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues among a host of honours.

Solskjaer says Varane has conducted himself impressively in training this week ahead of the game with Southampton at St Mary's Stadium on Sunday and believes Varane has fulfilled something of an ambition by joining the Red Devils.

"If you follow football the last 10 years, that's the reason we wanted to sign him, what he's done over his career," the United manager said on Friday.

"It's no secret we were close when he went to Real Madrid 10 years ago, Sir Alex [Ferguson] was there speaking to them.

"His performances on the pitch, his demeanor off the pitch tells me that's a Man United player. I think that's been in his heart ever since he went to Real Madrid, that he had a little bit of a feeling for Man United. The Champions League wins, the World Cup win, everything about him is class. He's quick, strong, good in the air, can play with both feet.

"He's been humble, inquisitive, he asks questions, he doesn't want to learn by a mistake in the game, he wants to learn it on the training field before he comes on the pitch. Everything about him has been impressive."

There is also a chance that Edinson Cavani could return to action this weekend, having missed the victory over Leeds after spending additional time away from Manchester for personal reasons.

"Edinson's joined in, Raphael's joined in, so we're getting fitter and fitter. We've had a very good week. Let's see who's making the flight down to Southampton on Saturday," Solskjaer said.

"Edinson's always looked after himself. He's lacking in team training but he's been looking after himself, you can see that. He had different reasons why he was late, there were some personal reasons, but his body can tolerate a lot so it [the break] was something that was required not physically but for a different matter. He's ready to go."

David de Gea is set to continue in goal as Dean Henderson continues his recovery from coronavirus, with the England goalkeeper not expected to return to action until after the international break.

Solskjaer confirmed the message from the club is for every player to be double-vaccinated against COVID-19, although some have not done so.

"The whole situation around COVID is still unknown and that's the scary bit," he said. "You hear people have it, less fit people than footballers, and no symptoms, and fit footballers [have it] and you get after-effects and side-effects, tiredness, so it's a scary virus. 

"With regards to Dean, he was tired after training and we needed to check him up. Now, he's much better, he's passed all the tests we've gone through with him and he's training, he's building himself up again because he lost a few weeks. He's not in full team training yet but it won't be too long.

"They're not all double-jabbed. I am and I encourage the lads to take the vaccination, but we can't force anyone to do that. To my understanding, we're wanting everyone to be double-jabbed and it's up to them."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted the "re-invented" Jesse Lingard is a part of his plans, while the Manchester United manager also hinted at a return for Dean Henderson.

Lingard enjoyed a productive loan spell with West Ham in the second half of last season, netting nine times in 16 Premier League appearances.

The 28-year-old's impressive showings for the Hammers secured an England call-up at the end of the 2020-21 campaign, though he narrowly missed out on Gareth Southgate's final Euro 2020 squad.

David Moyes is reportedly keen to bring Lingard back to London Stadium but Solskjaer outlined the midfielder's importance to his United squad, despite an incredible depth of talent in that area of the pitch at Old Trafford.

"Don’t forget Jesse Lingard who has re-invented himself and has come back the man that we know he is with the quality," Solskjaer said.

"He is going to play a big part as well.

"Of course there could be more rotation. We will be fresher. We will have to have a big and strong squad to be competitive in this league.

"It's the best league in the world and we also have to be lucky with injuries, but I am looking forward to working with all these players.

"We have to work hard and see who is fit and available. There will be a few fit and available definitely [against Southampton next Sunday]."

Lingard's nine goals for West Ham came from a total of 28 attempts, and he averaged a goal every 158 minutes.

In total, he played 1,424 minutes in the league for the Hammers, putting him behind only Bruno Fernandes (1,446) and Tomas Soucek (1,619) in terms of midfielders from each club from the point his loan started until the end of the season.

His four assists were second only to Fernandes, with his 18 chances created also more than any other West Ham or United midfielder bar the Portugal playmaker.

Lingard's willingness to run with the ball also provided a different dimension to West Ham's attack, and his 51 dribbles attempted was 20 more than second-ranked Pablo Fornals.

Solskjaer will have a welcome selection headache between the posts, too. David de Gea started in Saturday's win, with Henderson still recovering from COVID-19.

However, the United manager confirmed Henderson could come back into contention for the trip to St. Mary's Stadium as he returns to training on Monday.

“We will see how he feels and, hopefully, he can join in training on Monday," Solskjaer added.

"It is a big important test for him and we hope he is feeling better."

The pair shared goalkeeping duties last term, with De Gea appearing 26 times and Henderson granted 13 starts in the Premier League.

The Spain international saved 60 of the 280 shots he faced in the Premier League in 2020-21 for a save percentage of 65.22, compared to 76.47 for Henderson, who made 40 saves from 150 shots.

The England goalkeeper conceded 0.96 goals per 90 minutes across all competitions, while De Gea let in 1.25, though he did start double the games for Solskjaer's men.

Mason Greenwood is a man and no longer a boy, according to Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Bruno Fernandes fired a hat-trick in an emphatic 5-1 win over Leeds United at Old Trafford, while Paul Pogba illuminated his side's Premier League opener with four assists – more than the three he managed in the entirety of the 2020-21 top-flight campaign.

The landslide scoreline did not appear on the cards when Luke Ayling's piledriver brought Leeds level in the 48th minute, but soon afterwards Greenwood latched onto Pogba's majestic pass to hurl the floodgates open.

The 19-year-old forward missed England's Euro 2020 campaign through injury but was quickly up to speed on the opening weekend.

Although nominally playing as a centre forward, Greenwood only touched the ball in the Leeds box twice – one of these for his goal.

Instead, he caused persistent problems by dropping deep and disrupting the Leeds midfield, such as in the build-up to a first-half opportunity for Pogba when the game was goalless.

"I've got forwards who can play different positions. He scored a goal from the left-wing position, he's so effective from the right, he can still be a number nine and centre-forward but he drops in," said Solskjaer, who sent on Jadon Sancho for a second-half debut.

"He's a natural footballer and the way he's developed the past couple of seasons… the way he burst away on that second goal, that's a man compared to the boy who was in the first team two years ago.

"He's worked so hard in pre-season to get his fitness up and he's ready to go.

"I think you can see the forwards we've got into the team with Mason, Jadon, Marcus [Rashford], Anthony [Martial] and Dan [James], they can play different positions.

"Edinson [Cavani] is probably our only one who is fixed in one position. The rest of them we should leave them to enjoy developing in their careers.

"I remember Wayne [Rooney] Carlos [Tevez] and [Cristiano] Ronaldo playing together. Good players can always play together. We need movements and that's what we had today."

 

Greenwood's lead-restoring goal drew a particularly rapturous response from the Stretford End and Solskjaer explained the promise of playing in front of fans had persuaded veteran Uruguay striker Cavani to extend his Old Trafford stay.

"The last 18 months have been strange. The only interactions have been through the media," he said.

"You watch the games on tele, you haven't had that feeling of connection. To be reunited with the fans again, it’s important for the players.

"This is the real Man United, this is how I sold Man United to Edinson, for example. You can't leave after one season playing with no fans. Man United is fans and players and everyone together."

That answer had been in response to a query over whether Pogba was more likely to remain a United player in these circumstances after further speculation about his future.

"The short answer is, 'yes'," Solskjaer added.

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