Juventus or Real Madrid? Where will Paul Pogba end up?

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It is no secret that Paul Pogba has not enjoyed the greatest of times at Manchester United and the Frenchman looks set to leave the club this summer, but who for?

Reports have suggested that Fabio Paratici the sporting director of Juventus is in London and having talks with Manchester United representatives about Pogba joining the club. Actually he would be re-joining since United bought Pogba from the Old Lady back in 2016. What has been interesting is that if Juventus do buy Pogba then the player has spent his footballing career switching from these clubs alone, since he started his professional career with United back in 2010.

One wonders if Pogba’s indecisions and playing back and forth for the same clubs sums up his career thus far? The midfielder remains an enigma- a delightful player to watch on the ball and fearsome coming forward but his total inconsistency marks him out to be a player that may well end his footballing career as simply a footnote in the history of the game.

Alongside Juventus’ interest seems to be another and that is Real Madrid who are rebuilding this season after a chaotic last one. Los Blancos have already spent near to £300m on acquiring five players including Eden Hazard and it is thought that coach Zinedine Zidane would love to work with Pogba. Pogba himself may feel that a fresh change is needed from returning to Italy again. One thing is clear and that is United could do with offloading a player that they already know could fetch the club upwards of £100m and release funds to invest in players that want to play for the club and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Keeping with United they have upscaled their interest in Crystal Palace player Aaron Wan-Bissaka who impressed this past season as the Eagles finished strongly. But the talking price seems to be spiralling out of control and one figure has the Palace player at £70m. For now he is on top of Solskjaer’s list and United agree to that sum it seems highly unlikely that they won’t get their man.

West Ham raised eyebrows by purchasing the exciting 23 year old Pablo Fornals. The attacking midfielder cost the Hammers just £24m which is seen as a bargain in today’s football. He comes from Villarreal and even though he had an average last season he is seen as a very good prospect and will add attacking flair to West Ham’s forward line.

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Paratici, Barzagli and Allegri comment after winning awards

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Juventus’ coaching search rages on in Italy and the sporting director Fabio Paratici chimed in after receiving the Gentleman’s award: “We need to be patient, we are making our evaluations, but we have clear ideas in mind. I feel the pressure from the fans, but it is really a pleasure. I am a supporter first and then an executive. Players like Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli and Andrea Pirlo are heroes, they are the champions I was the most attached to. I think this accolade suits my club in every aspect, from the first team to the youth ones. I have had the massive fortune of working in a top club, where there are big possibilities and you get to work with great footballers.” Continue reading

Have Manchester United made a huge mistake giving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer manager’s job?

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Let’s admit it we all believed that Manchester United made the right decision in sacking Jose Mourinho in December and bringing in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. After coming into the team the Norwegian with a smile wider than Manchester embraced the ethos of the club and they went on a 10 game unbeaten run which included knocking PSG out of the Champions League, the good times had returned to Old Trafford, or so we thought.

Since signing a 3 year permanent contract Manchester United’s form has dipped so bad, that it is worse than Mourinho’s first three months of the season and would place the club in 19th place in the league. A 4-0 loss at Everton was supposed to be the worst pick of the bunch. But how about drawing at bottom club Huddersfield or better still losing at home to Cardiff by 2-0 who had already been relegated themselves. It was Cardiff who were the first team to be beaten by Solskjaer’s United side winning 5-1 away from home just before Christmas, how things had changed.

One has to wonder if United have not performed a classic knee jerk reaction. Should they have waited until the end of the season to make a judgement whether Solskjaer was the right man for the job?

Mourinho no matter how talented as a coach he is had to go, he was never the perfect fit for the club that much was evident. And yet he left with the memory of winning the Europa League, the Carabao Cup and placing United in their highest position of 2nd since Sir Alex Ferguson left. Indeed since Mourinho was sacked United have taken backwards steps and will not be playing in the Champions League next season which has got to hurt.

Many would put the blame at the players, and it is clear that half of the first team squad could be sold on in the summer. Quality players who are simply not performing well for the club week in week out. Once the new manager syndrome eroded and the club dropped their first points under him, the confidence was taken from them like a sweet shop owner who forgot to lock the doors adjacent to a school.

What United have done in the cold light of day is replace a world class manager with a proven track record and trophies with a manager who wins trophies with Molde in the Norwegian league. Had Ole never played for United then he would never have been considered and this seems like the most fatal mistake for Ed Woodward and his United staff.

This isn’t to say that the future looks bleak. After all with a clear out of players that could do the club good, but the problem is that they will want to attract the calibre of players that are at Champions League level, a competition they are not in. Next season sadly looks like being a long and testing one for the club and it will be fascinating to see if Solskjaer can prove his doubters wrong and bring the results in.

EPL: Premier League Predictions for Week 37

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There are just 2 games left in the Premier League and all options are open. Who will win the league? Manchester City or Liverpool? City lead by just 1 point and the answer looks like it’s going down to the final game. Both have of course qualified for the Champions League.

However 3rd and 4th is still up for grabs, and Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United will do battle for those places. Then there is the curious place of relegation. The final place is down to Cardiff and Brighton, one of them will be going down- more will be revealed this weekend.

Below we take a look at the fixtures for this weekend and predictions.

Everton v Burnley

Everton have been in good form for the last 2 months now and at home they have won their last 3 games in a row and unbeaten in 4. Burnley have also been in good form, but they should be outclassed for this game. Gylfi Sigurdsson has been brilliant this season for the club and he could get on the score sheet. Everton to beat Burnley

Bournemouth v Tottenham

Tottenham will start as favourites but they lost against Ajax in midweek in the Champions League, and their focus will be on the 2nd leg. If they are not on the ball they could lose this game the good news is that Bournemouth’s form has collapsed and they have been very poor. Tottenham to beat Bournemouth

West Ham v Southampton

West Ham have gone their last two matches unbeaten and last week they became the first ever team to beat Tottenham at their new stadium. Southampton are safe and have lost just one game in their past four. Shane Long can give the Hammers a lot of problems and we are expecting the spoils to be shared here. Draw

Wolves v Fulham

How ironic that Fulham have been brilliant since they have got relegated and have won their last 3 games in a row. This game though is a big stretch for them away to Wolves. Wolves are going for a 7th place finish and the likes of Diogo Jota could be the difference. This has the potential to be a big score for the home team. Wolves to beat Fulham

Cardiff v Crystal Palace

This is it for Cardiff, they must win this match. They are at least at home, and they have had a mixture of being unlucky and poor in recent months. If Cardiff lose they will be going down. As for Palace they have won 4 of their last 5 away games and just look like quality. Cardiff have not beaten Palace since 2012, this might be a very close match. Cardiff to beat Crystal Palace

Newcastle v Liverpool

Liverpool have a terrible record at St James’ Park at the same time if they lose or even draw this game their league title will be in jeopardy. Newcastle are safe and in decent form, winning 4 of their last 5 games at home. Liverpool are in brilliant form, but will have the 2nd leg of their Champions League game against Barcelona on their mind too. Rafa Benitez obviously loves his former club- and they have the better quality at the end of the day. New PFA player of he year Virgi van Dijk will also want to put in a performance. Liverpool to beat Newcastle

Chelsea v Watford

Chelsea’s major criticism in the second half of the season has been focus because they have the quality. If they don’t focus here they give up a top 4 place. Of course a few days later they have the Europa League. Players such as Gonzalo Higuaín and Olivier Giroud have to step up. Chelsea to beat Watford

Huddersfield v Manchester United

Manchester United look like they will miss out on a top 4 place after their poor form of the last month. Having said that playing Huddersfield represents the perfect chance for them to win and score goals and reinstall confidence. Paul Pogba has been under a lot of criticism lately he should try and relish this opportunity to score and help his team in what should be an easy victory for the club. Manchester United to beat Huddersfield

Arsenal v Brighton

This game will be attack v defence and even though Arsenal come here having lost their last 3 games in a row we expect Unai Emery’s side to get back on track and win this match. Arsenal still remain a very strong side at home with just 2 defeats all season, but this match could be settled by one piece of magic. Mesut Ozil to step up? Arsenal to beat Burnley

Manchester City v Leicester

If Liverpool beat Newcastle they will be 2 points clear at the top for the whole weekend as this match takes place on Monday evening. Leicester under Claude Puel beat City earlier in the season, but now City are at home and will be massive favourites to get all three points. They are sure to start quick and Sergio Aguero will be a danger throughout. Manchester City to beat Leicester

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Fred is starting to adapt well at Man Utd, and will only get better

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Manchester United’s lack of midfield depth and quality is quite concerning compared to the top teams in the Premier League, especially when you’re a meant to be either challenging for the league title or finishing in the top four, despite the situation they have found themselves in at the moment.

However, central midfielder Fred, who they spent over £50million on to bring to Old Trafford last summer window from Shakhtar Donetsk, has started to show bright moments here and there as he has began to gain a good understanding with the likes of Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba and Victor Lindelof.

Over the last couple of months, he has shown his range of passing to shift the ball out at a quick pace to making the interceptions and tackle in the middle of the pitch when required. On top of that, he has shown some good awareness of when to drop deep to build-up the play from the back to progressing possession into the final third, something that is not done often by the midfielders.

For sure, many of the Premier League experts and pundits will see the Brazilian international as one of the flops of the season, purely because he couldn’t get into the team on a regular basis and when he did, he was unable to stamp his mark on the game or dominate the midfield and the opposition.

Having made 17 league appearances, with 13 of them being from the start of the match, Fred will have understood his debut season may not have gone down as he had predicted and will be one of the players hoping that the club have a massive overhaul in the summer. If this is to happen, a solid backline and a natural winger may allow him to play with more freedom and protection around him.

To be fair to Fred, a number of midfielders that have arrived at the club over the last couple of years or so have struggled to get going within the side’s style of play. Morgan Schneiderlin is often seen as the perfect example, someone who was once seen as one of the best holding midfielders at Southampton, but had failed to replicate the demanding performances in a Manchester United kit.

Meanwhile, both Bastian Schweinsteiger and Nemanja Matic have been seen as the ideal individuals that could fill the void that was left by Michael Carrick, a player that was a regular starter for the club for many years as he kept the side ticking through his intelligence as well as his composure on and off the ball. This instantly sums up the ongoing matter at the club, where they have found it really difficult to replace the players who have been loyal servants and very vocal season by season.

The questions have been raised about the future of Fred, purely because no one in the dressing room is totally safe following another unconvincing and horrendous season in all competition. On the other hand, the pre-season tour as well as the next campaign will be the defining moment for the Brazilian international and his time at Old Trafford, whether he goes on to prove the manager and his critics wrong, or he ends up having an average season and falls down the pecking order.

Would Paul Pogba be a good fit for Real Madrid?

It threatens to become the transfer saga that will define this summer in European football. There has been smoke for months and the closer we get to the end of the season, the fire is starting to appear. Paul Pogba is, reportedly, a target for Real Madrid and the player himself has done nothing to distance himself from rumours linking him with an imminent exit from Manchester United.

The Frenchman’s Old Trafford career has been a difficult one to decipher. It is widely agreed that Pogba is United’s best outfield player and yet his inconsistency since returning to the club from Juventus has infuriated and frustrated. Now, there is a growing acceptance at Man Utd that if Real Madrid come calling with a mega-money offer this summer, they should sell.

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This assumes, however, that Pogba will fare better at Real Madrid than he has at Manchester United. Is that really the case? Real Madrid already boast one of the best midfield units in the European game, so where would the Frenchman fit? Is he really what the Spanish giants need at this time?

Well, perhaps. It is certainly the case that the midfield unit of Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric have delivered great success for Real Madrid over the years, but at least in the case of the latter two, age is catching up with them. Modric, in particular, has become a shadow of his former self, enduring the worst season of his career.

It’s entirely possible, maybe even expected, that Modric will leave the Santiago Bernabeu this summer, with Inter Milan believed to be a potential destination for the Croatian. Kroos could also leave. The German has long been linked with a switch to the Premier League. There would be no shortage of suitors.

This could open up space for Pogba to fill. Real Madrid have become a stagnant side over the past season and the Frenchman would help shape things up, giving them some much-needed drive through the middle of the pitch. If Zinedine Zidane is intent on playing a 4-3-3 system, as seems to be the case, then Pogba would fit in on the left side of that midfield trio.

That’s where Pogba excelled in his time at Juventus and Zidane could replicate that environment to get the best out of a player with the capacity to dominate games. Real Madrid are set for a summer overhaul and there’s reason to believe Pogba would give them something they don’t currently have.

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Zidane pushing for Real Madrid summer clear out

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Zinedine Zidane will push ahead with plans for a squad overhaul this summer, as he pledges to challenge Barcelona for the La Liga title in 2019-20.

The Frenchman has been clear in his desire to make changes at the club he led to three Champions League title between 2014 and 2017, and that means moving on some big names from the Santiago Bernabeu.

Club President Florentino Perez will fund certain transfer targets, but Zidane will have to clear out players to fund extra moves.

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Crucial Summer Ahead for Juventus

After wrapping up their eighth consecutive Scudetto following their 2-1 win over Fiorentina, Juventus will now focus their efforts on addressing the issues plaguing their roster. While the bianconeri added two trophies to their haul this season, they failed in Europe losing to a superior Ajax side over the two ties, and were sent packing in the Coppa Italia against Atalanta. Both defeats spoke volumes of this Juventus side and demonstrated just how fragile the Italian champions are when pressed. Here are three fundamental questions they must answer come summertime if they are to achieve European glory.

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1) Massimiliano Allegri: In or out? 

Since their collapse in Cardiff, Juventus have not been the same, and look a side devoid of an identity. This season much of the same problems persisted. The bianconeri strolled to the Scudetto, barely challenging themselves in the process as their competitors consistently shot themselves in the foot. Frankly, most Serie A tacticians would have won the title with this roster.

What’s more frustrating for Juve is that Allegri has completely failed at instilling a consistent style of play, and largely depends on individual brilliance to see him through. And when all else fails, the Italian champions typically bombard the box with crosses, and hope for Mandzukic or Ronaldo to come through. When opposing sides pressed the bianconeri high, and played without fear, by contrast, Juventus struggled to put three passes together.

When the board meets with Allegri to discuss the past season, they should replay the Ajax and Atalanta games. In both instances, Juventus cowered deep in fear, while the bolder team was rewarded for their self-confidence. If Juve are to win the Champions League, they need a fearless leader, and one thing’s for certain: Allegri is not that. It’s the end of the Allegri era, as we know it.

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2) Project Fix The Defence. 

Since Antonio Conte brought back Juve from consecutive seventh place finishes, the bianconeri’s defence was always their foundation and backbone for success. With Barzagli, Bonucci and Chiellini, Juventus possessed arguably the strongest backline in the world, and kept opponents at bay with ease.

However, with Barzagli nearing retirement and Bonucci looking like a shadow of his former self since his controversial return, Juventus’ defence has been a weak point for the side and has held the team back. Factor in Alex Sandro’s continued struggles, and it’s clear to see: Without Chiellini, Juventus are a mess at the back.

Considering Daniele Rugani’s stagnation, and Bonucci’s regular lapses in concentration, it’s time Juventus revamp their defence. First of all, they shouldn’t hesitate to sell Rugani and Alex Sandro as soon as a good offer arrives. The former has been a disaster when called upon, and shirks at the first sight of a physical battle. Alex Sandro, by contrast, has lost most of his pace, and offers close to nothing in the final third.

With Cristian Romero already on his way from Genoa, and Leonardo Spinazzola improving with every week, the state of Juventus’ defence remains decent. However, they will need at least two reinforcements: a centre-back and a left back.

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3) Project Fix the Midfield.

Much like the defence, Juventus’ midfield is in complete disarray, and lacks a true leader. Since dismantling their midfield in 2015 by selling Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba, the bianconeri are yet to bolster the midfield sufficiently. At the moment, only Miralem Pjanic and potentially Emre Can are worthy starters, while the others are solid bench options at best.

Even Pjanic and Can, who on their day are world beaters, struggle to impose themselves, and aren’t meant to lead the midfield as seen through the Ajax clashes. Despite Aaron Ramsey’s arrival, Juventus are still lacking one profile in their midfield. A ball-winner capable of maintaining possession. What they would do for a prime Claudio Marchisio again? But Juventus could settle for Lyon’s Tanguy N’Dombele.

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Man Utd 2-1 West Ham: Another unconvincing win at Old Trafford

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With fixtures against the likes of Chelsea, Everton and Manchester City coming up over the next couple of weeks, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had to win their next fixture, being against West Ham at home, a side that have won four league games away from home this season.

As Liverpool take on fourth-place Chelsea in the Sunday afternoon fixture whilst Arsenal face a tricky away day at Watford on Monday evening, it was crucial for the Red Devils to win whilst put in a dominant display on both sides of the pitch, something they haven’t done in quite a long time at Old Trafford.

United were all over the shop, with no defensive composure whilst lacking the required balance in midfield and inconsistent play up in attack. On the other hand, Manuel Pellegrini’s men were causing havoc from start till end, through the likes of Arthur Masuaku, Felipe Anderson and Michail Antonio.

As a whole, the hosts were able to get the two goals through Paul Pogba, who managed to score from the penalty spot in each halves of the game. Meanwhile, the visitors levelled up in the first couple of minutes in the second half, where Anderson’s goal came through United’s defensive mistakes.

Here are the three main factors we learnt from United’s latest league game…

United’s defensive problems continue to increase week by week

Looking at the teams currently in the top four spots and then seeing United lingering around in either fifth or sixth place, it has to be considered that the goals conceded and goal difference will play a huge part in who ends up playing in the Champions League next season. At the moment, United unsurprisingly have the worst, conceding on 44 occasions in 33 Premier League games.

Throughout the campaign, the side have had constant problems defensively, where both Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have failed to identify the solution as well as find out the best backline to place on a regular basis. And if it wasn’t for David De Gea’s brilliant saves, Manchester United would have conceded the same amount of goals as Brighton and West Ham by now.

West Ham were unlucky to leave Manchester without a draw or a win

The West Ham players along with Manuel Pellegrini will have felt hard done by once the final whistle had arrived, given that Felipe Anderson’s goal in the early minutes of the game was harshly ruled out for offside, whilst United were given two penalties to pick up the three much needed points. Luckily enough, the Hammers are not in a relegation battle, or they would have definitely complained about the decisions made by the referee and the linesman’s to the FA (Football Association) straightaway.

Despite conceding two goals, the visitors played well for majority of the game, where they were dominating possession and were playing with flair through the middle as well as down the flanks. When you come to Old Trafford and attempt 18 shots with four of them being on target, which was the same as what the hosts had managed, you can definitely leave with your heads held high even if no points were picked up.

Fred and Paul Pogba together dragged the side to the crucial three points  

For sure, there were not many positives at all to take from the game, but the chemistry and understanding that Fred and Paul Pogba have started to gain between one another is allowing the midfield to dictate and dominate the match to another level. With both players having the ability to drop deep when required and the intelligence to command for the ball regularly, United’s midfield looks more energetic and as a possession-based team when the duo are working their magic.

The renaissance of Fred has been more than helpful to all parties, where he had some concerning issues at adjusting life to the Premier League and showing his quality on and off the ball, but he is now doing enough to prove why he deserves to play as a regular starter. As Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic look to be out for another two to three weeks with an injury, it may give the Brazilian international the perfect amount of time to show what he is capable of to his critics and to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer himself.

Paul Pogba move to Real Madrid unlikely

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Real Madrid are a club who constantly generate headlines and fill newspaper inches with the seemingly never-ending transfer speculation surrounding the club. That is now more intense than ever with widespread reports that the club will be undergoing an overhaul of their playing squad this summer following on from a trophyless season.

Deals have already been tied up for FC Porto defender Eder Militao and Santos forward Rodrygo Goes, while there have been widespread reports that there is ‘near total agreement’ for Chelsea forward Eden Hazard. But the ongoing links, mainly emanating from the Spanish and French press, that Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba is also on his way to Madrid appear somewhat fanciful. Continue reading