With his departure from Manchester United on the horizon, Paul Pogba had been free to discuss his future with other clubs since January.

Failing to ever really match his then world-record price tag with performances on the pitch, the World Cup winner's next destination always seemed limited to a few options.

Reports suggest a return to Serie A and Juventus is imminent.

 

TOP STORY – POGBA SET FOR FOUR-YEAR DEAL AT JUVENTUS

Paul Pogba is expected to complete medical in Turin this weekend to open the path for a free transfer to Juventus, according to Sky Sports.

Leaving Manchester United at the end of June upon the expiry of his contract, the move to Juve would see him return to the club where he spent four years and established his reputation.

Upon completion of his medical, the 29-year-old is reportedly set to sign a four-year deal with the club.

This comes after Pogba turned down what was reported to be a 3.5 per cent increase on his wages at Manchester United.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bayern Munich have reached a verbal agreement with Juve's Matthijs de Ligt amid interest from Chelsea, according to Sport1.

- Tottenham are keen on signing Villarreal's Pau Torres despite the impending arrival of Clement Lenglet, the Mirror is reporting.

- Newcastle United are willing to meet Bayer Leverkusen's asking price for Moussa Diaby, per the Telegraph.

- New Paris Saint-Germain boss Christophe Galtier hopes Neymar can stay at the club amid speculation over his future, The Sun is reporting.

Paul Pogba is seemingly closing in on a return to Juventus after the club's CEO claimed talks are progressing "very, very well".

Manchester United confirmed at the start of June that Pogba was set to leave at the end of his contract, with former club Juventus his likeliest next destination.

His United contract officially expired on Thursday, and although he has not already reached an agreement with another club, it would appear to be a formality.

Nevertheless, reports suggest Pogba will be paid significantly less than he was at United, with Juve said to be the only club taking an interest in him.

As such, Juve chief Maurizio Arrivabene seems confident a deal is likely, and the Frenchman will be considered a major signing from a "commercial" perspective.

"We are talking to him, things are evolving very, very well," he told Tuttosport. "[The idea came about] in our meetings, when names are mentioned.

"It was like that with [Dusan] Vlahovic. You open the door, throw a name and everyone looks at you like you're crazy. Then, little by little, the machine starts up and the operation is built.

"[The idea of] Pogba was born this way. His presence will also be fundamental from a commercial point of view, even if my dream is to have an Italian player who is internationally recognised, like a [Francesco] Totti, a [Alessandro] Del Piero, a [Gianluigi Buffon] Buffon."

Arrivabene also expressed regret over last year's departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, who returned to Manchester United.

Ronaldo spent three years at Juve and has been tentatively linked with a move back to Turin – Arrivabene appeared to dismiss that idea, even if he believes the club needs experienced players to guide their more promising youngsters.

"He was not fully exploited because of COVID [the pandemic], but I am convinced that Juve goes beyond every player," he said.

"125 years of history are not written by a single player; the team is more important than individuals, and here everyone has to respect the rules.

"It's not a change of course, but we need points of reference. I saw the Ronaldo effect on our young players, now players like [Nicolo] Fagioli, [Matias] Soule and [Fabio] Miretti must have players to learn from."

Romelu Lukaku completing his return to Inter would make the Nerazzurri favourites to win Serie A next season, according to Milan legend Alessandro Costacurta.

Lukaku is reportedly nearing an Inter comeback less than a year after making a club-record £97.5million move to Chelsea, where he scored just eight Premier League goals as Thomas Tuchel's men finished third.

The Belgian had scored 30 goals and added 11 assists during his final season with Inter, helping the Nerazzurri end an 11-year wait for a league title as they finished 12 points clear of local rivals Milan.

While the Rossoneri fought back to end their own long Scudetto drought last month, Costacurta believes the return of Lukaku would shift the balance of power in Inter's favour.

"I think they also were [favourites] last year," he told TuttoMercato.

"Inter were the strongest last year and with Lukaku the gap with the others is getting wider."

 

Costacurta also expects Juventus to be back in the title mix after they finished fourth in consecutive Serie A seasons, but claims the return of Federico Chiesa, who sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury in January, is more important to their prospects than the potential arrival of Paul Pogba.  

"A lot will depend on the recovery of Chiesa, one of the best players in Europe. If he recovers well, Juve will fight against Inter," the former defender said.

"This will be the blow, the one that most of all can shift the balance. More than Pogba."

Meanwhile, Milan are reportedly looking to bolster their own attack with moves for departing Liverpool forward Divock Origi and Real Madrid's Marco Asensio, and Costacurta, who won five European Cup/Champions League titles with the Rossoneri, believes both would be useful additions.

"I have never been in love with him [Origi], but he is a wonderful player," he said.

"Like [Olivier] Giroud, he will be able to help. They are not extraordinary players, but [you need] to have players like that, like Giroud last year." 

On Asensio, Costacurta added: "He is an excellent player, he has a lot of quality."

Costacurta's glittering playing career saw him establish a fearsome defensive partnership with Milan's current technical director Paolo Maldini, and although reports have suggested the Rossoneri legend could leave in the absence of a new contract offer, Costacurta remains confident his old friend will extend his stay.

"I can't imagine a Milan without Paolo Maldini," he said. "I don't think they [the club] are morons and so I imagine that as soon as they can, Maldini will sign. 

"I don't even ask myself the problem. A radical change of strategy would be harmful. 

"It seems to me that everything is going very well. The limited budget leads to a lot of ideas, I wouldn't worry much about it."

It is fair to say that Paul Pogba's time at Manchester United has been somewhat polarising.

The France midfielder ultimately struggled to consistently provide the football that made him such a sought-after player in Italy with Juventus, before his big-money move back to United in 2016.

Reports suggest with his contract at Old Trafford expiring at the end of the month, Pogba will be heading back to the Serie A giants to try and revive his reputation.

TOP STORY – POGBA SET FOR JUVENTUS RETURN

Paul Pogba is set have his wish granted and will return to Juventus, according to Fabrizio Romano.

With his contract expiring at Manchester United, his wage demands could only realistically be met by a select number of clubs in Europe.

Pogba had reportedly only wanted to return to Italy with the Bianconeri, where he left a four-time Serie A and two-time Coppa Italia winner in 2016.

The 29-year-old's agent will meet with Juve representatives on Thursday, with a medical to be completed at the beginning of July when his contract at Old Trafford officially ends.

ROUND-UP

Ajax are set to make another offer for Steven Bergwijn meanwhile, with Tottenham not accepting offers below £25million (€29m), per Sky Sports.

Barcelona boss Xavi is hopeful Ousmane Dembele will sign a new contract to ward off Chelsea interest, Goal reports.

– Goal also report that winger Antony is determined to join Manchester United from Ajax.

Leeds United have valued Brazil international Raphinha at £65m (€75.3m) amid interest from Tottenham, Chelsea and Barcelona, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Alessandro Del Piero believes the imminent returns of Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba to Serie A will be a "great move" for Italian football.

Juventus are poised to re-sign Pogba following his departure from Manchester United, while Inter are pushing to bring Lukaku back from Chelsea following a disappointing year in the Premier League.

Both players will represent marquee additions for the two Serie A title hopefuls as they seek to knock Milan off their perch next season, while also boosting them in the hunt for glory in the Champions League.

Juventus legend Del Piero believes the deals have further significance, however, as he feels they can help to push Italian football to compete with the other top leagues in Europe following a number of years off the pace.

"Now the Premier League is the best football you can see in terms of number of teams that can perform at a high level and what happened in the Champions League, in the Europa League how they performed is the answer," he told ESPN.

“It's a different kind of sport in some moments. It seems in the Premier League you run more, you have more physicality, you are more spectacular. 

"It's not exactly like this because in Italy we have this kind of thing but Italy is struggling now: the national team and also in the club teams.  

"So last season showed a little bit more. Roma's win [in the Europa Conference League] is a good hope for the future in the Europa competitions. 

"So Lukaku for Inter and Pogba for Juve could be a great move also for Italian football to become again stronger and have a voice in the Champions League especially."

Since Inter won the Champions League under Jose Mourinho in 2009-10, Juventus are the only Italian side to have reached the final – losing to Barcelona in 2014-15 and then to Real Madrid two years later.

Gary Neville says the nature of Paul Pogba's departure from Manchester United "leaves a bad taste in the mouth".

The 2018 World Cup winner announced his United exit this month, and is leaving the Red Devils on a free transfer six years on from joining for a then-world record £89million fee.

It is the second time Pogba has departed the Red Devils as a free agent, and having spent four trophy-laden years with Juventus last time around, he has been strongly linked with a return to the Bianconeri. 

Although Pogba recorded more Premier League assists (38) and created more chances (231) than any other United player during his second spell with the club, the Red Devils have failed to win a major trophy since 2017.

Pogba hit out at United for making a "mistake" in not offering him a better deal in an Amazon Prime documentary this week, but Neville insists the France midfielder did not do himself justice at Old Trafford.

"I'm not bothered about Pogba's comments to be honest with you," Neville said during a live stream on his TikTok account.

"I think that once a player has left, he can say whatever he wants. Fine, no problem. But I don't think he has performed well over the last six years.

"I don't think the club have performed well with him either, or handled him well. It's been a partnership that, to be fair, has failed on both sides so that is what you'd have to say.

"There is no winner when a player leaves after six years with the money that has been spent and very little has been won.

"The player leaves dissatisfied, and the club are dissatisfied with it as well. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth because it's the second time it's happened.

"You wish him all the best in the future at Juventus."

Manchester United must start being active in the transfer market amid links to the likes of Frenkie de Jong and Christopher Nkunku, otherwise they risk failing to rebuild under Erik ten Hag.

That is the message from United great and television pundit Gary Neville, who warned that late transfer activity will only make Ten Hag's task tougher.

Ten Hag faces a sizeable rebuilding job after inhering a United side that finished with their lowest ever points tally in the 2021-22 Premier League campaign.

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

Paul Pogba is heading for the exit door at the end of June when his contract expires, along with Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata, as Ten Hag looks to leave his mark at Old Trafford.

Reports have linked United to numerous players, such as Nkunku, De Jong and Christian Eriksen, while Ten Hag's former Ajax players Jurrien Timber and Antony have also been floated as options.

West Ham midfielder Declan Rice and Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres may appear more far-fetched options, but Neville says United must get to business otherwise their already difficult task will become even harder.

 

"The others seem set and ready, yet United can't get moving," Neville wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

"[Ten Hag] needs his group together [as soon as possible] to mould them. Bringing them in late will only make it harder for him. [Fingers crossed] it happens soon!"

Ten Hag will hope to have a busy transfer window ahead of the first Premier League game of the 2022-23 season when United will host Brighton and Hove Albion on August 7.

It will be the Dutchman's first competitive game in charge of the Red Devils, who will play their opening top-flight match at home for a sixth straight season – the longest current run of any Premier League side.

Paul Pogba would be an "excellent" acquisition for Juventus should the Bianconeri manage to re-sign the former Manchester United midfielder, according to Italy legend Marco Tardelli.

Pogba, who spent four trophy-laden years in Turin between 2012 and 2016, has been strongly linked with a return to Juventus after his United departure was confirmed.

No United player registered as many Premier League assists (38) or chances created (231) as Pogba during his six-year spell at Old Trafford, although his second spell at the club ended in disappointing fashion, with the 2018 World Cup winner playing just 1,354 minutes of domestic league football last season.

Tardelli, who won five Serie A titles with Juventus during his playing career, insisted that while returning to a former club is always difficult, Pogba would be an ideal signing for coach Massimiliano Allegri.

"I believe that returns are always difficult, because there are higher expectations," Tardelli said, quoted by ANSA. "But it is an excellent acquisition."

Tardelli said Juventus needed to sign players who could make "an important contribution in every department". The squad is set for an overhaul, after finishing fourth in Serie A for a second successive season, having won the title in each of the nine previous campaigns.

 

The fact there are unusually few prominent Italian players at Juventus may not be helping the national team, who missed out on qualification for the World Cup and sit third in Nations League group A3 after winning just one of their first four games.

None of the five players to have played the most Serie A minutes for Juventus in the 2021-22 season (Wojciech Szczesny, Matthijs de Ligt, Juan Cuadrado, Alvaro Morata and Adrien Rabiot) are Italian, with Manuel Locatelli sixth on that list.

Roberto Mancini's Italy endured a disappointing international break in June, being thrashed 5-2 by Germany on Tuesday having begun the month with a 3-0 reverse to a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina at Wembley, and Tardelli also believes the Azzurri are missing an elite forward.

"There is a block of foreigners [at Juventus] more than anything else," Tardelli said. "[Italy forwards Gianluca] Scamacca and [Giacomo] Raspadori play for Sassuolo, a team with little international experience.

"We lack a champion, especially in the advanced department, a player who manages to invent a pass, not strictly the number nine.

"If you don't score a goal there is always a problem, but I have faith in Scamacca, I also had it in [Ciro] Immobile but, if you don't show signs, you are criticised.

"Mancini is doing an excellent job; he is trying to find young people, and he has done it well in some cases. We need to have patience and hope to find a champion like [Francesco] Totti, like [Roberto] Baggio or like [Alessandro] Del Piero, because now I don't see him yet."

Paul Pogba wants to prove Manchester United made a "mistake" by allowing the midfielder to leave at the end of his contract.

The World Cup winner is out of contract at the end of June, ending a six-year stay at Old Trafford after re-signing for United from Juventus for a then-world record £89million fee.

Juve are widely expected to sign Pogba as Massimiliano Allegri attempts to bring the France international back to Turin.

Pogba, speaking in his new Amazon Prime documentary 'The Pogmentary' that comes out on Friday, expressed his desire to show United what they are missing.

"My thought process is to show Manchester [United] that they made a mistake in waiting to give me a contract," he said, as quoted by The Athletic.

"And to show other clubs that Manchester had made a mistake in not offering me a contract."

Reports suggest United made two advances to extend the contract of Pogba, but the 29-year-old claims the club offered him "nothing".

"How can you tell a player you absolutely want him and offer him nothing?" he added. "Never seen that."

Pogba will leave United with just the Europa League and EFL Cup successes to his name as Erik ten Hag prepares to build a new era with the Red Devils.

Still, with 67 goals and assists in the Premier League since the start of 2016-17, United are waving goodbye to a player who has been involved in 17.5 per cent of their goals across that period – only Marcus Rashford (21.9 per cent) has directly contributed to more.

Despite winning the Premier League title this past season, Manchester City are not wasting time when it comes to improving their squad.

With the signings of Julian Alvarez and Erling Haaland already confirmed, the next order of business for the blue half of Manchester is bolstering the midfield.

While City have reportedly long identified who fits their criteria, now they may be able to advance with negotiations.


TOP STORY – MAN CITY TO MOVE FOR PHILLIPS

Having already closed on other positional needs, Manchester City are preparing to table an offer for Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips, according to the Athletic.

Reports suggest a bid will soon be on the way, following the completion of the 26-year-old's international commitments with England.

Phillips has been a target of City for some time, but with Rodri in need of competition, the incentive to sign him has increased after Fernandinho's unexpected departure from the Etihad Stadium.

City are said to believe a figure between £45million and £50m will be sufficient for Leeds to part with Phillips.

ROUND-UP

– Juventus expect Paul Pogba to sign a contract with them at the beginning of July after reaching a verbal agreement, according to the Guardian.

Chelsea have begun talks with Inter over a loan return for striker Romelu Lukaku, but the 29-year-old will need to take a wage cut, the Telegraph reports.

– Manchester United are favourites to sign Porto midfielder Vitinha, says A Bola.

– TottenhamNewcastle and Aston Villa are among the clubs interested in signing former Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale on a free transfer, the Sun reports.

Robert Lewandowski's transfer away from Bayern Munich is becoming an increasingly likely scenario this off-season.

Leaving Bayern for Barcelona has always been the intent for the striker, but other things need to fall into place for it to happen.

In the event the deal falls through, though, there is a reported suitor looking to take advantage.

 

TOP STORY – MANCHESTER UNITED JOIN RACE FOR LEWANDOWSKI

Manchester United will look to swoop if Lewandowski's move to Barcelona falls flat, according to The Sun.

The Poland striker has his heart set on a move to the Camp Nou, despite having a year left on his deal at Bayern.

The move to Barcelona will be dependent on the Blaugrana moving on some of their higher earners first, with Frenkie de Jong and Ousmane Dembele linked with transfers elsewhere.

The 33-year-old is still scoring with intimidating regularity, bagging 50 goals in 46 games for Bayern in all competitions last season.

ROUND-UP

Christopher Nkunku is set to sign a new contract with RB Leipzig, warding off interest from United and Chelsea, Leipziger Volkszeitung reports.

Paris Saint-Germain are insisting on a move for Inter's Milan Skriniar, although the clubs are yet to agree on a transfer fee, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Tottenham are in advanced negotiations to sign Everton and Brazil forward Richarlison, per UOL Esporte.

Paul Pogba will return to Juventus on a four-year deal following his contract expiry with United, Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting.

The seemingly never-ending 2021-22 season may be ongoing, with a number of big international fixtures still to be played this month, but plenty of focus is already on the next campaign.

This month's conclusion will mark the end of an era for many players as their contracts come to an end – though for some it will provide a much-needed opportunity to begin a new chapter elsewhere.

For others, becoming a free agent simply provides more bargaining power when negotiating fresh terms with their current employers, at a time when most clubs cannot spend as frivolously on new players as they once could.

While some big-name freebies have already moved clubs, and others are reported to have signed pre-contract agreements elsewhere – such as Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen at Barcelona – others remain on the market.

Here, Stats Perform picks out some of those who are on the lookout for a new club.


Player: Paul Pogba
Current club: Manchester United
Rumoured suitors: Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain

United last week announced the departures of six players, with Juan Mata, Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard and Pogba among them. While the first three of those will undoubtedly be of interest to teams across the continent, Pogba is arguably the most in-demand free agent around.

Juventus reportedly lead the way for the France international, who won eight trophies in four seasons with the Serie A giants prior to rejoining United in 2016. Whichever side of the divide you stand – that Pogba has too often been used out of position or is just simply not good enough – there is no denying his second spell at Old Trafford has not gone to plan.

Still, with 67 goals and assists in the Premier League since the start of 2016-17, United are waving goodbye to a player who has been involved in 17.5 per cent of their goals across that period – only Marcus Rashford (21.9 per cent) has directly contributed to more.

 

Player: Gareth Bale
Current club: Real Madrid
Rumoured suitors: Cardiff City, Getafe, MLS clubs

As the winner of 16 trophies across nine seasons at Madrid – one of those spent on loan at Tottenham – and still aged just 32, you would imagine Bale would have the pick of the world's top clubs to choose from in the upcoming transfer window.

But that is not quite the case, with hometown club Cardiff City and Madrid-based Getafe now considered the two favourites to land the Wales international. That does come with a caveat of sorts, though, as Bale's main focus is on entering November's World Cup with Wales in peak fitness, rather than adding to his trophy collection.

The forward has had a number of injury setbacks in recent years but, wherever he plies his trade next season, he will want to play more football than he did in 2021-22 when available. He featured in just seven of Madrid's 56 matches, totalling 290 minutes on the field, and started only four of those – seven per cent of all minutes Madrid played.

 

Player: Ousmane Dembele
Current club: Barcelona
Rumoured suitors: Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool

Barcelona were eager to get Dembele off their books in January, so much so that director of football Mateu Alemany publicly told the France international to find a new club "immediately". Five months on, after a strong second half to the 2021-22 season, Barca would like nothing more than to retain Dembele's services.

The former Borussia Dortmund attacker assisted 11 LaLiga goals between the start of 2022 and the end of the season, a tally that no other player across Europe's top five leagues could match, with Lionel Messi next best on 10 with PSG in Ligue 1.

Re-signing Messi has been touted, but that seems fanciful a year on from his emotional exit, so Barca may well focus on tying Dembele down to a new deal before PSG – who also have another ex-Barcelona favourite in Neymar on their books – add to a star-studded frontline.

 

Player: Paulo Dybala
Current club: Juventus
Rumoured suitors: Arsenal, Tottenham, Barcelona

Juventus are coming off the back of their first trophyless season in a decade, and with it comes the end of an era in many ways as Giorgio Chiellini is departing after 18 years in Turin, while Federico Bernardeschi is also on his way out and seemingly set for Napoli.

However, the name on everyone's lips right now is Dybala's, even if the Argentina international has not fully lived up to the admittedly huge hype following his arrival at Juve from Palermo in a €40million transfer seven years ago.

Dybala can still be pleased enough with his goalscoring return at the Allianz Stadium, having netted 115 goals in 293 appearances in all competitions, making him the club's third-highest foreign goalscorer of all time behind David Trezeguet (171) and John Hansen (124).

 

Player: Angel Di Maria 
Current club: Paris Saint-Germain
Rumoured suitors: Juventus, Barcelona

Di Maria signed off from PSG in the near-perfect manner with a goal and an assist in his final game for the club against Metz last month, though his importance clearly diminished following the arrival of Messi as he started just 19 Ligue 1 games last term, down from 23 in the two previous campaigns.

That performance against Metz, albeit in a dead-rubber, highlighted Di Maria's quality when used and it is perhaps little surprise that some big-name clubs are interested. A move to Juventus seemed a certainty not so long ago, but Barcelona are supposedly now the frontrunners for the 34-year-old.

Di Maria is not the only South American attacker available to sign on a free next month, either, as the aforementioned Cavani and Uruguay international team-mate Luis Suarez are also on the lookout for a new club following their exits from United and Atletico Madrid respectively.

Paul Pogba would be welcomed back at Juventus with open arms after leaving Manchester United, according to Bianconeri goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who says the midfielder remains one of the world's finest players.

United announced on Wednesday that Pogba is to depart Old Trafford when his contract expires this month, 10 years after originally leaving the Red Devils to join Juventus.

Since then, Pogba has been strongly linked with another return to a former club, with Juve looking to add dynamism to their midfield after finishing fourth in consecutive Serie A seasons.

Pogba won four league titles with the Turin giants between 2012 and 2016, the latter two under Massimiliano Allegri, excelling alongside the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio in the Juventus engine room.

And Szczesny claims the midfielder, who recorded more assists (38) and created more chances (231) in the Premier League than any other United player during his second spell at the club, remains an elite talent and would be an excellent signing.

"Yes, we'd welcome him back. He did brilliantly in his previous time at Juventus so he would be a great addition to the squad," he said, as reported by the Daily Mirror.

"He is a player with good calibre and experience, and he has good memories from Turin.

"Maybe over the last couple of years the consistency of his game and the injuries didn't help at United. But when he is fit, he is still one of the best in the world."

Having made a strong start to the 2021-22 season by registering four assists in a 6-1 Premier League thrashing of Leeds United, Pogba went on to endure a frustrating campaign as United struggled to a sixth-placed finish under interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

Meanwhile, Juve legend Alessandro Del Piero believes Pogba would be the ideal player to spearhead a Bianconeri rebuild under Allegri, insisting the World Cup winner would contribute at both ends of the pitch.

10 Serie A teams scored more than the 57 league goals recorded by Juve this year, with only the departing Paulo Dybala hitting double figures, who have also lost defensive stalwart Giorgio Chiellini.

"Paul is the right player to assist Vlahovic in attack, but also to protect the defence, which will lose a column like Chiellini," Del Piero told ESPN.

"Everything will depend on what Paul wants to do. If he wants to return to a club where he is loved by the fans and the whole environment, Juve is the right choice. If he wants to fight immediately to win the Champions League, he will have to choose another team. 

"The context will be very different, because in the first cycle at Juve he was young and protected by players like Pirlo and Marchisio, this time it would be the opposite and it would be up to Paul to take the responsibility of making his team-mates grow.

"However, I believe that at United he has grown from this point of view, as a man and as a player."

Manchester United have confirmed Juan Mata is leaving after eight and a half years at the club.

The 34-year-old went on to make 285 appearances for United after his signing under David Moyes in January 2014.

A World Cup and Euro 2012 winner with Spain, Mata helped the Red Devils claim the Europa League and EFL Cup in 2016-17, as well as scoring the equaliser in their FA Cup final triumph over Crystal Palace in 2015-16.

"Thank you for dedicating eight years of your career to United, Juan. Everyone at the club wishes you all the best for the future," the club said in a statement.

Mata added: "I wanted to say thank you very much to all of you for your support over the years, and especially during the difficult times that we lived together."

Mata struggled for minutes this past season under both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick, however, and becomes the third midfielder to announce his departure from the club in under 24 hours.

Amid new manager Erik ten Hag's overhaul, the Spaniard will exit along with Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard, who United confirmed on Wednesday are also leaving when their contracts expire later this month.

The dominoes are starting to fall as Manchester United begin to carry out their transfer window plans.

Erik ten Hag's hire has inevitably led to another squad overhaul, and the rest of the market is in some way connected to who leaves and arrives at Old Trafford this off-season.

Reports suggest one of those arrivals could make for a reunion between the new manager and a former player of his.

TOP STORY – MANCHESTER UNITED MOVE ON FRENKIE DE JONG

New Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag is looking to reunite with Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong,   according to Fabrizio Romano.

After announcing the departures of Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba, United are moving quickly for replacements and have reportedly commenced discussions with the Blaugrana.

While it is understood De Jong would like to remain with Barcelona amid their own rebuild under Xavi, it could ultimately be dependent on the club.

Although De Jong reportedly desires Champions League football, it could be a moot point if Manchester United meet a £72.5million (€85m) asking price. 

ROUND-UP

– Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah would prefer to join a Premier League rival at the end of next season if a new deal cannot be agreed upon, per the Athletic.

– Chelsea have opened talks with Sevilla over the potential transfer of highly rated France defender Jules Kounde, according to Sport.

– Manchester City remain keen on signing England midfielder Kalvin Phillips but Leeds United want to retain the player after securing Premier League safety, the Sun reports.

Real Madrid are looking to sign Jude Bellingham, but Borussia Dortmund are not willing to sell the player until the end of next season, Bild is reporting.

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