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.

Wout Weghorst has joined Turkish giants Besiktas on a season-long loan just six months after joining Burnley, in the aftermath of the club's relegation from the Premier League.

The striker, who has scored three goals in 14 international appearances for the Netherlands, joined Burnley from Wolfsburg in a reported £12million (€14.4m) move in January, as the Clarets battled relegation from the top flight.

That fight ultimately ended in failure, with Weghorst scoring just twice in 20 appearances for the club.

While Manchester City legend Vincent Kompany is hoping to lead Burnley to an immediate Premier League return, he will have to do so without the services of Weghorst, who joins a side which finished a disappointing sixth in the Turkish Super Lig last term.

Burnley confirmed his departure via their social media accounts on Tuesday, wishing the 29-year-old luck at his new club.

Weghorst will be hoping his move to Istanbul allows him to rediscover his Wolfsburg form: In the 2020-21 season, he scored 20 Bundesliga goals, a tally only bettered by Erling Haaland (27), Andre Silva (28) and Robert Lewandowski (41).

Robin van Persie has congratulated Manchester United new boy Tyrell Malacia on his move to Old Trafford, predicting the left-back will build a "great connection" with his new club.

Malacia became the first signing of the Erik ten Hag era on Tuesday, signing a four-year contract after United agreed a deal reportedly worth an initial £13m (€15.1m).

The 22-year-old starred during Feyenoord's run to the Europa Conference League final last season, also showcasing his attacking quality by creating 1.1 open-play chances per 90 minutes in his last Eredivisie campaign.

Van Persie, who scored 26 times during United's most recent Premier League title triumph in 2012-13, believes the Netherlands international, who he played alongside after returning to Feyenoord in 2018, will thrive at Old Trafford. 

In a video posted to his Twitter account, Van Persie said: "Tyrell, I would like to congratulate you on your fantastic move to Manchester United, and this big moment in your career.

"You've shown that with self-belief, talent, and hard work, day in, day out, that dreams come true.

"To all Red Devils fans, you're not only getting a very talented full-back, but as well, a fantastic person.

"Be nice to him, support him in good times and bad, and he will give absolutely everything for you guys. I'm sure it will be a great connection together.

"On behalf of Feyenoord fans and Feyenoord people, thanks Tyrell for what you've done, for all these years from a young kid up until now, this fantastic moment. You are a true example for the next generation."

Upon his unveiling as a United player, Malacia revealed Van Persie's tales of his own time in Manchester had influenced his move, telling the club's website: "I spoke in the past with Robin and I played with him, and spoke with him about his experience in Manchester.

"Everything was good. He says they're the biggest club and the feeling was good, and he loved it here."

Malacia is expected to compete with Luke Shaw for game-time under Ten Hag, and could make his Premier League debut when United host Brighton and Hove Albion on August 7.

A Premier League player has been further arrested on suspicion of two incidents of rape, and subsequently released on bail.

The player, who is in his late twenties, cannot be named for legal reasons.

He was arrested on Monday on suspicion of raping a woman in her twenties in June this year.

On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Police confirmed that while in custody, the man had been further arrested on suspicion of two incidents of rape that were alleged to have been committed in 2021.

He has subsequently been released on bail.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: "On July 4, an allegation of rape of a woman in her 20s was reported to police.

"It was reported the alleged rape happened in June 2022. On 4 July, a 29-year-old man was arrested at an address in Barnet on suspicion of rape and taken into custody.

"While in custody, he was further arrested on suspicion of two incidents of rape that were alleged to have been committed in April and June of 2021 against a different woman in her 20s.

"He has subsequently been released on bail to a date in August. Enquiries into the circumstances are ongoing."

Divock Origi has joined Milan after his contract expired at Liverpool.

Origi signed for Liverpool from Lille after impressing for Belgium at the 2014 World Cup, but immediately rejoined the Ligue 1 side on loan.

He was used sparingly throughout his eight-year stint with the Reds, leaving on loan to Wolfsburg in 2017-18, yet still scored some crucial goals for Jurgen Klopp's team.

His most memorable was a strike in the 2018-19 Champions League final against Tottenham.

Origi will hope to be offered more chances at Milan, who lifted the Scudetto in the 2021-22 campaign, after signing a four-year contract at San Siro.

The 27-year-old developed a reputation as somewhat of a super-sub during his time at Anfield, scoring 22 goals in 107 Premier League appearances for Liverpool, while only starting 34 of those matches.

As well as his goal against Spurs in Madrid, Origi also produced the winner in the iconic semi-final comeback against Barcelona in the same competition.

Stefano Pioli has added both quality and depth to his attacking ranks, which already included Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Rafael Leao, as Milan look to defend their Serie A title in the 2022-23 campaign.

Milan reportedly remain in talks with Chelsea over a move for playmaker Hakim Ziyech, though midfielder Franck Kessie has left on a free transfer, joining Barca.

Manchester United certainly can't be accused of not supporting their new manager, Erik ten Hag, given the players they're going for in the transfer market.

Granted, that's more about how United are primarily being linked with players Ten Hag knows or has previously coached rather than them targeting a host of renowned superstars.

Whether that suggests a certain trust in Ten Hag or if it comes down to a lack of belief in the club's own scouting department is a discussion for another time, but clearly Ten Hag is being allowed to build a team in his image, and that's what many fans will have hoped for.

The first one in through the door is Tyrell Malacia, who joins from Eredivisie side Feyenoord on a four-year   contract with an option for a further season.

Netherlands international Malacia had apparently been close to joining Lyon until United came in at the last minute, but once the Red Devils' interest became apparent, there was only likely to be one destination: Old Trafford.

But what sort of player are United getting? Stats Perform takes a look…

Exit looming for Telles?

When considering the areas United needed to strengthen ahead of the new season, left-back might not have been highlighted as a major cause for concern, therefore some are likely to feel Malacia's signing isn't necessary.

But most would agree Luke Shaw endured a generally poor season, and his deputy – Alex Telles – seemingly wasn't good enough to fully dislodge the England international. Then you have Brandon Williams, who has returned from a loan spell at Norwich City but will in all likelihood be sold.

One would assume Malacia's arrival will lead to another sale at left-back as well, and that'll presumably be Telles rather than Shaw, who will be expected to get back to the level he showed in the 2020-21 season.

Shaw has responded well to competition before. In fact, his excellent 2020-21 campaign coincided with United's signing of Telles, but perhaps he took his foot off the pedal once he realised the Brazilian wasn't likely to be a long-term threat to his place.

Malacia could be.

 

At 22, Malacia is youthful and boasts a skillset that may make him a greater understudy – and challenger – to Shaw than Telles.

Already a Netherlands international, Malacia is quick, comfortable on the ball and had an impressive output in attack last season. Telles, on the other hand, isn't especially fast and his final-third threat relies on crosses from deep.

Full-backs performed an important function for Ten Hag's Ajax. Their underlapping runs make them potential threats in the box, while those at his disposal in Amsterdam possessed excellent technical abilities, helping the team to maintain control of possession even out wide, a little like at Manchester City.

Such a role certainly shouldn't faze Malacia considering his pace and technique.
 

A considered threat

Malacia's technical ability and speed are probably his two most obvious attributes, though neither are especially easy to prove with numbers.

Of course, it's difficult to accurately – and fairly – compare players across two hugely different competitions just using stats, but you can at least get an idea of what a player offers.

Malacia's 1.1 open-play chances created every 90 minutes in the Eredivisie last season was the 10th highest among defenders (minimum of 1,000 minutes played). That was the same as Shaw's, though the latter was obviously playing in a league generally regarded to be a higher level.

 

Despite that frequency not being especially remarkable, Malacia did lay on four assists, and his 6.0 expected assists (xA) was bettered by only four Eredivisie defenders.

So although he wasn't necessarily creating a huge amount of opportunities, those he did craft had an average xA value of 0.16 – of the defenders with at least 18 key passes, only Daley Blind (0.27), Noussair Mazraoui (0.19) and Yukinari Sugawara (0.17) created better chances on average.

Similarly, Malacia's xA output on a per-90-minute basis of 0.19 was higher than that of Shaw (0.14) and Telles (0.11).

Both of the xA averages mentioned for Malacia highlight – and can be partly explained by – how he attacks. He recorded 2.7 touches in the opposition's box every 90 minutes last term (fifth among Eredivisie defenders), whereas Shaw (1.1) and Telles (1.0) were far less willing to get into that area.

As such, of his 5.0 passes into the box each game, only 3.0 were crosses. Those respective figures for Shaw (5.9/5.7) and Telles (7.6/7.3) show a far greater reliance on hopeful crosses.

 

Again, specific coaching instructions may explain the figures of Shaw and Telles, so the data isn't suggesting any one is better than the others, but it's still easy to see why Ten Hag might feel Malacia is a good fit as one of his underlapping full-backs.

Malacia also tallied more tackle attempts (2.7), tackles won (1.8) and duels (11.0) compared to Shaw (1.1, 0.7 and 8.2) and Telles (2.4, 1.3 and 9.8).

As before, these don't necessarily mean he's a better defender because the context of the two leagues and the respective teams' playing styles make it difficult to draw such conclusions, but Malacia's figures do at least point to a certain level of tenacity off the ball.

Regardless of the numbers, it seems clear United are taking a bit of a gamble with Malacia. Although obviously talented, he is young, inexperienced and joining a team that cannot claim to have much stability.

Nothing about United over the past decade has suggested it's a club that successfully nurtures young players anymore. Even when you look at the success stories such as Marcus Rashford, he's not appeared happy for a while.

The fact Malacia has seemingly been signed upon the request of his manager – rather than a glorified accountant on the board – is undoubtedly a tick in the pros column, but only time will tell if that trust in Ten Hag is well-placed.

Mainz will push ahead with plans to face Newcastle United in a pre-season friendly despite backlash from their supporters.

Newcastle will face German clubs Mainz and 1860 Munich in Austria ahead of the 2022-23 season.

But the scheduled matches have not been welcomed by supporters of those clubs due to the identity of Newcastle's owners.

The consortium that bought Newcastle last October includes Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), which owns 80 per cent of the club.

Saudi Arabia's human rights record is of major concern, along with its role in the war in Yemen.

But Mainz insist they cannot afford to cancel the Newcastle friendly, both because of the need to prepare for the Bundesliga season and due to contractual obligations.

"A friendly against a big English club is first of all a really good test for us," said chairman Stefan Hofmann in a statement in which Mainz confirmed they had held further talks with Newcastle and would plan to meet with fans. "It's also important for our team’s pre-season preparations.

"After weighing up our options and not having an appropriate alternative opponent of this standard available, we agreed to play this game.

"We didn't expect the reaction we got from some fans. We respect them and regret that these concerns have arisen because it's our responsibility to start the new season as one big unit together with our fans."

Mainz board member Christian Heidel added: "From a footballing perspective, we can't afford to miss out on this friendly.

"A one-sided cancellation of the fixture, as has been demanded by some fans, is not feasible, because were we to not honour our contractual obligations, this could have serious legal and economic consequences for us, and so we're going to stand by the contractual agreement."

Mainz coach Bo Svensson had already addressed the concerns, saying as reported by Bild: "On the one hand, I can understand the arguments.

"[But] whenever it comes to football, things get very inflated and become huge issues."

Referring to the PIF's shares in Disney, Svensson added: "How far are we going? Will we then also forego Disney films with our children?"

1860 coach Michael Kollner said to db24: "You always have to be a bit careful when conducting a moral discussion. I find that difficult. You can find something in everyone.

"We haven't done everything right in the past either – and teams are still playing against us in preparation.

"Newcastle was bought by someone with the money he has. I don't know if we are always entitled to evaluate things – especially in times when we have completely different issues in Europe.

"Unity looks different. I'm responsible for the sport – and I'm glad we got this test match."

Tyrell Malacia has signed for Manchester United from Feyenoord in a deal that is reportedly worth up to £15million.

The Netherlands international becomes the long-awaited first signing of the Erik ten Hag era at Old Trafford, following a slew of exits under the Dutchman.

Malacia will now join up with his countryman at United and is expected to offer competition to England defender Luke Shaw and Brazil's Alex Telles in the left-back role going forward, having signed a four-year contract with an option for a further season.

The 22-year-old was reported to be moving for a £13m (€15.1m) fee, with just shy of £2m in add-ons. Reports in the Netherlands claim Feyenoord will receive a percentage of any future sale, too.

"It's an incredible feeling to have joined Manchester United," Malacia said. "This is a new chapter for me, a new league with new team-mates and a tremendous manager leading us.

"I know from playing against his teams in the Eredivisie, the qualities that he has and what he demands of his players.

"Whilst I know that I am still young and will continue to develop, I can promise the United fans that I will leave everything on the pitch every time I pull on the red shirt.

"I'll always be thankful to Feyenoord for all they have given to me and my family.

"None of this would be possible if it wasn't for them. Now I'm ready to focus on the future with United and help my new club achieve success."

Malacia came through the Feyenoord academy, having joined the club as a nine-year-old, and broke into their senior set-up as an 18-year-old in 2017.

He was an unused substitute in their KNVB Beker and Johan Cruyff Shield wins in 2018 and featured in their Europa Conference League final loss to Roma earlier this year.

Tottenham forward Richarlison has been banned for one game and fined by the Football Association (FA) for improper conduct, having thrown a smoke bomb during Everton's Premier League win against Chelsea in May.

The Brazil international recently joined Spurs from the Toffees in a deal reported to be worth an initial £50million, signing a five-year contract.

But he will miss out on his side's first game of the 2022-23 season after accepting a one-match suspension over his actions with his former club, having thrown a smoke bomb towards the stands after scoring at Goodison Park.

"An independent Regulatory Commission has suspended Richarlison de Andrade for one match and fined him £25,000 following a breach of FA Rule E3 that took place during a Premier League game on Sunday 1 May 2022," read an FA statement.

"The Tottenham Hotspur FC forward admitted that his conduct while playing for Everton FC during the 46th minute of this game against Chelsea FC was improper, and his sanction was imposed during a subsequent hearing."

The ban means Richarlison's competitive debut for Spurs will be delayed past their Premier League opener against Southampton on August 6, leaving him in line for an early reunion with Chelsea on August 13 instead.

The Selecao star will likely get his first taste of action during Tottenham's pre-season schedule, however, with Antonio Conte's side set to face a host of international opponents including Sevilla, Rangers and Roma.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo wants to leave Manchester United and is willing to make some allowances to secure the move.

Reports of Ronaldo's transfer request emerged over the weekend, although United are said to be holding firm in their desire to keep the superstar.

That has not stopped the rumours around a potential destination for the Portugal great, though, and he is doing all he can to get the move he wants.

TOP STORY – RONALDO WILLING TO TAKE PAY CUT

The Independent reports Ronaldo is willing to take a "considerable" pay cut in order to move to a Champions League contender.

The forward's desire to win another European crown was widely cited as key to his decision to push for a departure from United, and the report suggests the player is hopeful a reduced salary could entice leading clubs.

Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain, who employ great rival Lionel Messi, are listed as potential suitors.

The Athletic also again reports Chelsea's interest following talk of a meeting between Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes and new Stamford Bridge owner Todd Boehly earlier in the close-season.

The Sun says Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel is reluctant to agree to such a transfer, though, while AS claims Mendes has also met with Barcelona president Joan Laporta.

ROUND-UP

– Corriere dello Sport claims Bayern Munich are looking to bring in Napoli striker Victor Osimhen for a fee in the vicinity of €100million if Robert Lewandowski is to leave.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, Tottenham have agreed to sign 27-year-old Barcelona centre-back Clement Lenglet for a fee of £17.2m.

– The Sun is reporting Arsenal have made a £47m bid for 27-year-old Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

– After loaning Romelu Lukaku to Inter, Chelsea are also weighing up a potential loan move for Hakim Ziyech to Milan, according to The Athletic.

– The Mirror claims United representatives have met with Ajax to discuss a £39.6m offer for defender Lisandro Martinez.

A Premier League player has been arrested on suspicion of rape.

The player, who is in his late twenties, cannot be named for legal reasons.

He was arrested on Monday after a woman in her twenties reported an allegation of rape to the police.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson told Stats Perform: "On July 4, an allegation of rape of a woman in her 20s was reported to police.

"It was reported the alleged rape happened in June 2022.

"On July 4, a man was arrested at an address in Barnet on suspicion of rape and taken into custody where he remains.

"Enquiries into the circumstances are ongoing."

Everton fan favourite and club great Duncan Ferguson has left Frank Lampard's coaching staff to pursue his own managerial career.

Ferguson, who scored 73 goals in 273 appearances for Everton across two spells at the club in his playing career, has been a member of the first-team coaching staff on Merseyside since 2014.

He has worked under Roberto Martinez, Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce, Marco Silva, Carlo Ancelotti, Rafael Benitez and, most recently, Lampard, with Everton unable to find stability in the Farhad Moshiri era.

Everton just scraped to safety at the end of last season, with a 3-2 comeback win over Crystal Palace ensuring their status as a Premier League ever-present continued.

However, financial difficulties mean another difficult off-season could be in store, with star player Richarlison having already left for Tottenham, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin is reportedly attracting interest too.

Lampard will now have to deal with the loss of Ferguson, who twice oversaw Everton on a caretaker basis.

Firstly, in 2019 after Silva's dismissal, Ferguson led Everton to a 3-1 win over Lampard's Chelsea, a 1-1 draw against Manchester United, a 2-2 draw with Leicester City in the EFL Cup – though the Toffees lost on penalties – and a 0-0 draw with Arsenal.

The Scot then took over for one game after Benitez was sacked in January this year, yet Everton lost 1-0 to Aston Villa at Goodison Park.

"It's been a massive decision for me. An incredibly difficult one but I need to move on, to take that next step in my career and look for that new challenge. Being a caretaker manager has given me confidence to step into management," he told Everton's official website.

"It was difficult last season but this club is definitely heading in the right direction. It's a fantastic club.

"The team is in good hands with Frank as manager. He's been first class and he wanted me to stay on. I'll be there as a supporter. My kids have got season tickets and I'll be looking forward to coming back."

Neither Barcelona nor Chelsea have presented an offer to Sevilla for sought-after centre-back Jules Kounde, according to the Spanish club's sporting director Monchi.

Kounde attracted interest from Chelsea last year and Sevilla acknowledged at the time they rejected at least one offer for the defender.

While the fee involved then is unclear, Sevilla were reportedly holding out for as close to the France international's €80million (£68m) release clause as possible.

Indications this year are that Sevilla have relaxed their stance slightly, with suggestions their asking price is close to €70m (£60m).

Such figures would appear to be out of Barcelona's reach given their financial problems, though Blaugrana president Joan Laporta has been frequently talking of activating "levers" – such as selling off TV rights and half of their merchandising business – to inject capital and ensure the club remains competitive in the transfer market.

Monchi seemed to acknowledge Barca's interest in Kounde, as he distanced himself from criticism of Laporta's dealings in trying to ease the club's economic woes.

"Xavi has good taste, but there are zero contacts with Barca," Monchi told Onda Cero. "As for their 'levers', everything that fits the rules of the game [is fine] ... You have to be innovative, have inventiveness."

But it would appear Chelsea are focusing their efforts on other targets first as well, despite an apparent necessity to get centre-backs in after seeing Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger depart.

"[Chelsea] have to look for two or three central defenders. They don't have many, but there are also more English clubs and clubs from other countries that are looking for central defenders," Monchi continued.

"There are calls from everywhere. The money is starting to roll in a bit. It's what we have left until August 31.

"There is interest. Jules has had a good season, he has established himself in the French team, he's going to go to the World Cup – that has made more clubs interested.

"Directly, there has been little movement, but his name is marked with a fluorescent highlighter in the sports directorates of important clubs.

"Kounde is in the United States. He will join us in South Korea a little later and I don't know what will happen tomorrow.

"There is movement around Kounde, yes. Many teams are looking for central defenders. Let's see what happens."

Sevilla have already seen one important player leave, with Kounde's centre-back partner for the past three years – Diego Carlos – moving to Aston Villa.

Galatasaray defender Marcao was rumoured to be his replacement, and Monchi confirmed there is an interest in the 26-year-old.

"Marcao is a centre-back that is among the names we have considered," he said. "From then on, obviously, he is not the only one. I always try to work with alternatives.

"He has passed all the filters we have to decide and is on that final list of players. He's a centre-back who may only seem aggressive, but he's left-footed with a very good touch, with personality... He's an interesting centre-back who meets the profile we have in mind."

Premier League and Championship clubs have been given the green light to introduce safe standing areas from the start of the 2022-23 campaign.

The announcement by the United Kingdom government on Monday came on the back of a successful 'early adopters' pilot study during the second half of last season.

Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Cardiff City took part, with Brentford, QPR and Wolves set to join them in offering standing in designated seated areas for home and away fans.

Other teams can apply to operate licensed safe standing areas, while Wembley will also offer limited safe standing for supporters at domestic matches later in the upcoming season.

"Thanks to a robust trial, thorough evidence and modern engineering, we are now ready to allow standing once again in our grounds," said culture secretary Nadine Dorries.

"We are not reintroducing terraces and only clubs which meet strict safety criteria will be permitted."

A report from the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) released on Monday found that standing areas in the trial run delivered a positive impact on fan safety.

SGSA chief executive Martyn Henderson said: "We welcome the controlled return of standing for the modern era, which has been made possible by a very close collaboration with the government.

"This is a historic moment for football – and, most importantly, for the fans who have campaigned for this change and will be safer as a result of today's decision."

Barcelona have announced the signing of Andreas Christensen on a free transfer from Chelsea.

The centre-back has moved to Camp Nou after his contract with Chelsea expired at the end of June.

Denmark international Christensen has agreed a four-year deal that includes a €500millon buy-out clause. 

Christensen had been linked with Barca for some time after it began to look likely he would not extend his stay in west London.

Barca president Joan Laporta confirmed on Saturday that Christensen's deal would be officially completed and announced this week.

He becomes Barca's second signing of the transfer window, with Franck Kessie's move from Serie A champions Milan – also on a free transfer – having been confirmed earlier on Monday.

Christensen joined Chelsea from Brondby back in 2012 and made his professional debut two years later, but it was only after a two-year loan spell with Borussia Monchengladbach that his Blues career began to take off.

He has made 167 appearances for the club in all competitions, including 26 last season, scoring four goals in total.

A Champions League, Europa League, Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup winner in his Stamford Bridge career, Chelsea won 92 of the matches in which Christensen featured.

With Christensen and Kessie on board, Barca's focus seems to be on completing a move for Leeds United winger Raphinha.

Chelsea have reportedly agreed a fee with Leeds for the Brazil international, but Laporta insisted Raphinha has indicated he instead wishes to join Barca, who are hopeful of striking a deal despite their financial issues.

Barca are also in talks with Ousmane Dembele over a new deal, with the France winger now a free agent, while Manchester United have an interest in Blaugrana midfielder Frenkie de Jong.

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