All posts by Ben Parsons

Sports Writer- The United Stand

Gabriel Barbosa set for United move

Manchester United are set to fend off interest from a host of top European clubs in signing highly rated Santos forward Gabriel Barbosa.

The 19 year old is emerging as one of the top young prospects in world football, and has been inevitably described as “the next Neymar” by many after his highly impressive performances in his home Olympics with Brazil’s national side.

Santos president Modesto Roma had earlier been said to have held talks in London with Premier League clubs which include both United and Leicester City, as well as having talks with Athletico Madrid over the striker’s future.

Italian sides Juventus and Inter Milan were also thought to be interested.

Just days ago it seemed Leicester were in pole position in the race to sign the Brazilian however United are now favourites to pull the deal off.

Gabriel Barbosa (Picture: goal.com)
Gabriel Barbosa in action for Brazil (Picture: goal.com)

United manager Jose Mourinho regards Barbosa very highly and thinks he would be a perfect fit to eventually replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic, along with Marcus Rashford.

A deal for Barbosa is likely to cost between £25 and £30m and the Santos wonderkid is keen on a move to Old Trafford.

Initially, Mourinho identified 4 specific targets which have all been snapped up in Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and record signing Paul Pogba. However, Barbosa could conclude United’s spending as a back up striker signing after the Olympics in Rio.

Fosu-Mensah to sign new deal

Timothy Fosu-Mensah has became the latest United youngster to agree a new long term contract at the club following Marcus Rashford and Cameron Borthwick Jackson.

The Dutchman, 18, made his first team debut under Louis Van Gaal last season after joining from Ajax in 2014. The new contract shows Jose Mourinho’s faith in Fosu-Mensah and shows he is likely to be in his first team plans, after youngsters Donald Love and Paddy McNair moved to Sunderland earlier in the week with more expected through the exit door at Old Trafford.

The fan favourite impressed last season in his limited opportunities after making his debut in the 3-2 defeat of Arsenal, memorable because of Marcus Rashford’s first two Premier League goals for the club. He also got an assist in the home win against Everton with a good cross from right-back into Anthony Martial.

However, it is still unclear what the Dutchman’s best position is after impressing in the academy at both center-back and in a central midfield postion.   The manager  sees Fosu-Mensah in his plans for the season ahead, so it is unlikely he will look for a loan move.

Januzaj set for Sunderland loan move

Adnan Januzaj is expected to go out on loan this season having failed to make it into Jose Mourinho’s plans.

The Belgian’s likely destination is Sunderland, where he would link up with David Moyes who he previously worked and excelled under at United.

It is understood, however, that Januzaj would prefer a permanent move away from Old Trafford after having limited chances last season and things unlikely to change in the Jose era after not being named in Mourinho’s 26 man squad for the season. He has since been training with the reserves.

Januzaj’s attitude has often been an issue

It is hard to doubt Januzaj’s obvious talent and potential, however his commitment and attitude has been questioned after he broke onto the scene in David Moyes’ short stay at the club.

Fans were in awe after his match-winning performance away at Sunderland under Moyes and the Scotsman is very keen to be reunited with the Belgian at the Stadium of Light.

United want a loan move for Januzaj as they recognize his talent and understand he needs to develop playing first-team football, albeit with a much better attitude.

They are aware of the Paul Pogba situation where a midfield talent was let go and a world record transfer fee was needed to bring him back to Old Trafford.

McNair and Love to join Moyes at Sunderland

Manchester United defenders Donald Love and Paddy Mcnair are set to leave Old Trafford for David Moyes’ Sunderland as Jose Mourinho begins his summer clear-out.

The two clubs agreed the fee for the pair in the region of £6m with McNair the more expensive signing.

McNair had impressed at Old Trafford but has struggled to maintain a first team place with Chris Smalling and Daley Blind being Louis Van Gaal’s preferred center-back pairing.

It was unlikely McNair would ever be part of Mourinho’s plans with Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and also academy product Timothy Fosu-Mensah likely to be ahead of the Northern-Irishman in the pecking order.

He comes off the back of being part of the Northern Ireland squad in the  European Championship in France.

Love, 21,  on the other hand spent the majority of last season out on loan at Wigan Athletic and only made one first team start last season, ironically away to Sunderland in a humbling 2-1 defeat.

Moyes will hope Love can push on in his career and solve his right-back problems at the Stadium of Light.

It still remains unclear whether Moyes will make an attempt to sign Marouane Fellaini or Adnan Januzaj having recently expressed an interest in signing them.

Mourinho targets experienced central defender

Jose Mourinho is thought to be looking to continue his spending this summer, and is keen to add an experienced central defender to his ranks after the impending arrival of Paul Pogba to Old Trafford for a world record fee.

Mourinho has already signed a center-back this summer, bringing Ivorian defender Eric Bailly to the club for a fee in the region of£30m. However, the only other central defensive options at Mourinho’s disposal that have already made first team appearances at Old Trafford are Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Chris Smalling.

Eric Bailly has pleased fans with his contribution this summer (Picture: reddevilarmada.com)
Eric Bailly pleased the travelling fans with his contribution (Picture: reddevilarmada.com)

Phil Jones has struggled in his time at United due to a number of injury lay-offs, meanwhile it is believed among many that Dutch international Blind is not suited to the position in what is  a very tough and physical Premier League.

There have also been doubts on whether Marcos Rojo has the quality to partner Chris Smalling, who is likely to begin the season as Mourinho’s first choice centre-back after impressive performances in United’s previous campaign.

Marcos Rojo could be out of Old Trafford this summer (Picture: mendozapost.com)
Marcos Rojo could be loaned out this season (Picture: mendozapost.com)

Jose Fonte, Ezequiel Garay and Kostas Manolas have been touted as possible signings that could be possible for Mourinho, all three regarded as experienced defenders.

Fonte, 32, has just come of the back of Euro success with Portugal, and is a proven Premier League defender having lead Southampton to another top ten finish last season, which may be what Mourinho is looking for in his pursuit. However, ex Southampton manager and new Everton boss Ronald Koeman is keen to be reunited with the Portuguese and has reportedly bid £9m for the European Championship winner.

Argentinian Garay is another option for Mourinho, currently playing for Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia having had spells at Real Madrid and Benfica. The Argentinian international has 32 international caps and regarded highly around Europe, but it is still questionable whether Garay could adapt to the Premier League, having been linked with United on previous occasions.

Kostas Manolas has reportedly been watched by United (Picture: thesun.co.uk)
Kostas Manolas in action for Roma against Real Madrid (Picture: thesun.co.uk)

Greek defender Kostas Manolas has also been linked to United throughout the summer with Chelsea and Arsenal also said to be interested in the Roma defender. His pace and power are assets suited well to the Premier League, however it is said United would have to pay upwards of £40m to get their man.

Jose Prepares to Wield Axe on United Fringe Players

Many of Manchester United’s first-team fringe players will learn their fate regarding their futures at Old Trafford as Jose Mourinho prepares to cut his squad down ahead of the new season.

Among those under threat include Will Keane, linked with a move to David Moyes’ Sunderland and James Wilson, who was not included in the squad for United’s preseason tour of China.

Mourinho is keen to cut his squad down to 24 names he feels will be suitable for a title-charge, but is looking to loan out players as well as let players who are surpluss to requirements go on a permanent basis.

It is understood that Mourinho is willing to let Brazilian midfielder Andreas Pereira leave on a season-long loan deal in order to play more first team football, before coming back and proving himself for a spot in the first team lineup at Old Trafford.

Mourinho may choose a Championship club for Pereira to develop, as his son Jose Jnr is on the books of Fulham under manager Slavisa Jokanovic, who has a reputation of bringing through talent.

Adnan Januzaj also could be heading for the exit door,  his future at Old Trafford in doubt after a troubled loan spell at Borussia Dortmund last year was abruptly ended by Louis Van Gaal, and he has failed to continue his form delivered under David Moyes. It remains unclear if Januzaj did indeed leave, whether it would be on a loan or permanent basis.

Mata’s United future remains a mystery

Juan Mata’s future at Old Trafford is also still unknown, despite Mourinho denying in a recent interview that the sale of Mata at Chelsea was not personal, and he can still fight for his place in his first team.

However, with the signings of the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, an attacking midfielder, and Mourinho confirming that captain Wayne Rooney is likely to be utilised in a number 10 role this season, it is hard to see a place in United’s first team for the Spaniard.

Varela joins Eintract Frankfurt on season-long loan

Manchester United have officially confirmed a deal for Uruguayan right back Guillermo Varela to join Bundesliga side Eintract Frankfurt on a season-long loan deal.

The 23-year-old defender joined United in 2013 from Uruguayan side Penarol but has struggled to hold down a first team place at Old Trafford.

He has made 11 appearances for United and has also spent a year on loan with Real Madrid’s Castilla team.

He was highly regarded by United fans as an exciting young full back, however he has not pushed on under Louis Van Gaal and fell out of favour with Matteo Darmian and Antonio Valencia preferred as right-back options.

The Uruguayan had also been known for his attacking instinct as a full back but his defensive frailities were recognized in Van Gaal’s last season at Old Trafford, most noticeably in the Europa League tie against Liverpool where he was at fault for Phillipe Coutinho’s solo goal.

It now remains unclear at Varela’s age whether he still has a future at Old Trafford, however Frankfurt may offer him the first-team football he requires.

Varela was involved in Mourinho’s first pre-season friendly away to Wigan, however did not travel to China on United’s tour as the deal was finalised.

Negotiations begin for £100m Paul Pogba

Manchester United have begun negotiations within the last 48 hours for French international Paul Pogba, according to Sky Sports, which is believed to be for a world record fee.

Jose Mourinho is keen to make the Juventus midfielder his fourth addition of the summer, and with Pogba’s agent being Mino Raiola, who United have successfully had neogitations with twice already this summer, there is a growing confidence at Old Trafford that the deal could be done.

The Juventus star may not be interested in a move back to Old Trafford

However, Juventus have made it clear to United that Pogba is not for sale, despite a  £100m offer may being too tempting to turn down. It is still unclear whether the France international, who left United in 2012 on a free transfer, would be interested in a return to his former club. There is no doubting United’s desire to bring their former player to Old Trafford, and they certaintly have the funds to to pull what would be the world’s largest transfer ever off.

Real Madrid still confident in signing Pogba

Real Madrid are the main threats to United in the chase for the Juve midfielder and have also held talks with Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola. Raiola has been quoted previously as saying that a move to the Bernabeu would be a good move for his client as it will be key in his clients ambition to win the Balon’dor. Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane and president Florentino Perez are still confident the midfielder wants to move to the club, however United may offer the money for Pogba that Real can not compete with.

What do you think of the potential signing of Paul Pogba? Would he be a good addition to the side, even for a world record fee? Leave a comment down below.

Jose’s First Press Conference – What we learned

Jose Mourinho was clear, bullish and even humorous about what is to come in his first press conference as United manager, and also let us United fans know more of what to expect under his regime.

Ins and Outs

As expected, the new boss was coy on potential transfer dealings having already securing the services of Villarrael defender Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. However he did confirm the third signing of the summer was imminent, even having a joke with a United official over whether the deal had been officialy announced or not.

The deal jose was talking about was Dortmund winger Henrikh Mkhitaryan, after the Armenian international  had already been confirmed to be joining United via Dortmund’s twitter page, and widespread reports suggested he was in Manchester to complete his medical on Monday afternoon.

Also, Mourinho said that he had secured 3 out of 4 priority signings, leaving United fans wondering who the fourth mystery target may be. Everything seems to suggest Paul Pogba is the target that would be the missing piece to Mourinho’s United jigsaw, however the attraction of Real Madrid may sway the Juventus centre midfielder to the Spanish capital.

A worry to the likes of Maraoune Fellaini, Juan Mata, Daley Blind and others was Mourinho’s quotes on specialist players in their positions. “I’m a manager that likes specialists” he said and also went on to say how there was only room for 1 or 2 ‘multi-functional’ players in his squad.

With Daley Bland vastly regarded as a player who can cover in a range of positions but not necessarily as specialist, his future has been cast in to doubt. Juan Mata is also another player who many already feel does not have a future with Mourinho after he was sold to United from Mourinho in his spell at Chelsea.

Wayne Rooney will not play in midfield

“Maybe he is not a striker, not a number nine any more but for me he will never be a number six or number 8, playing 50 metres from goal”.

This was Mourinho’s response to how Rooney will be utilized and suggests Rooney is most likely to operate in the number 10 position, just behind the striker next season. This comes after Rooney played in a deep lying postion for Louis Van Gaal and subsequently Roy Hodgson at the Euros.

Mourinho is keen to play youth

Jose was adamant and aggressive when it came to being questioned on his apparent inability to bring youth through, something that is in the heritage of United. He claimed he has brought through 49 different youth players over his career, some having even gone on to domestic and European success.

The Portuguese proceeded by saying  he intends to play youth and plays youth out of choice, rather than necessity. Marcus Rashford, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Andreas Pereira are all acadamy products and giving these players who many believe are ready to be first team regularly, a chance to prove themselves at the highest level, will prove to United fans that Mourinho is more than willing to follow club traditions in his quest to bring back success to Old Trafford.

What do you think of Jose’s comments in his first press conference as Manchester United manager? Let us know in the comments below.