Manchester City have turned down the opportunity to sign Paul Pogba on a free transfer from Manchester United over the next few months, according to reports. Pogba is set to leave Old Trafford at the end of his current deal in the summer and is said to have no shortage of interest in his services from across Europe ahead of the upcoming transfer window.
City have been linked with a surprise move for Pogba in recent weeks as the Premier League champions weigh up their options in the market to strengthen their ranks in advance of next season. However, those in command at the Etihad Stadium have already passed up the opportunity to bring Pogba to the blue side of Manchester without having to pay a transfer fee, according to the Daily Star.
It is claimed that Pep Guardiola has told Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, that he will not be pursuing a move for the Frenchman’s signature between now and the start of the new campaign. The City boss previously rejected the chance to sign Pogba four years ago and does not appear to have changed his mind over the last few seasons, with the United man having struggled to impress at club level on a consistent basis.
It seems unlikely that Pogba will move to another English club when he walks away from United at the end of the season, with Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus said to be the leading contenders to snap him up at this moment in time. Barcelona may also join the race if they are prepared to pay his eye-watering salary, which is believed to be in the region of £350,000 per week.
Pogba has endured a lacklustre second spell at United since returning to Old Trafford from Juventus back in the summer of 2016. He was roundly booed by his own supporters when he was introduced as a substitute against Norwich City earlier this month and it seems as though a clean break would be the best solution for all parties involved at this stage.
The midfielder may have already played his last game for United after he was forced off during the early stages of their recent defeat at the hands of Liverpool with a calf injury. Red Devils manager Ralf Rangnick recently confirmed that Pogba would be sidelined for the next few weeks at least before going on to suggest that he is unlikely to remain on the club’s books at the start of next season.
“He’s injured, he’s a player who won the World Cup with France, he’s such a good player that he was a regular starter for a team like France,” said Rangnick before Saturday’s defeat at Arsenal. “We all know what kind of potential he has and what kind of good player he can be.
“He was quite like a few other players struggling to get his best performance sustainably on the pitch for a team like Man United. This has not only been the case this season or in the last couple of weeks. As far as I remember it was also the case in earlier years.
“It’s difficult to say [why]. If myself or other coaches knew it would be easier to change that but I don’t know. Right now it doesn’t make sense to think about that because he won’t be available for tomorrow and most likely not for the upcoming games.
“As it seems right now he will not renew his contract and I don’t know, maybe the club or Erik [ten Hag] will not want to renew his contract, I don’t know. It’s most likely he won’t be here anymore next season.”
Certain football clubs from around the world have a knack of signing players from a certain country and seeing them perform despite often playing thousands of miles from their home country.
Wolverhampton Wanderers have seen many Portuguese players turn out of the Old Gold in recent seasons including the likes of Joao Moutinho, Rui Patricio and Ruben Neves while Brazilian players have long been a staple of the Galactico teams of Real Madrid, with Ronaldo Nazario, Roberto Carlos and Kaka just to name a few.
In the case of Manchester City, the special relationship lies with the South American football powerhouse of Argentina. Up to now, City have had nine Argentinian players on their books, with all nine of them arriving since 2008.
This is soon to reach double figures though as the Premier League club announced the reported £15million signing of River Plate forward Julian Alvarez in January, with the player expected to link up with Pep Guardiola’s squad in the summer.
Alvarez is set to be City’s tenth Argentinian player in little over a decade but when and how did this special link between a South American nation and a northern English city start?
The first-ever Argentinian to turn out for Manchester City was cult hero and club legend Pablo Zabaleta. The tough-tackling defender joined the Sky Blues in 2008 from Spanish side Espanyol. Zabaleta laid the foundations for what was to be expected from an Argentinian playing at the Etihad Stadium. He was tenacious in his defending and gave everything to the club.
This was a pattern to follow with those who followed Zabaleta to City, with both Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero going on to join the club within the next three years. The latter’s effect on City’s history is monumental, with the striker being one of the most important players in the last decade for the club.
This is a decade which saw City win their first top division title in 44 years, courtesy of an iconic last-minute strike from Aguero himself on the campaign’s final day. The dramatic 3-2 victory over Queens Park Rangers, in which Zabaleta also scored, lives long in the memory of football fans, not just those in sky blue.
Aguero went on to become the club’s leading all-time goal scorer with a haul of 260 goals in just 385 appearances for the current Premier League champions, with the Argentinian winning a total of five Premier League titles during his ten-year stay in Manchester.
La Albiceleste defenders Martin Demichelis and Nicolas Otamendi also gave it their all for the Premier League club, bringing a raw passion that was rarely matched during their spells at the Etihad Stadium.
City’s special relationship with Argentina can be characterised by the fact that during Argentina’s first World Cup final in … years, coming in 2014 against Germany, the South American squad had as many as three Manchester City players present with Zabaleta, Aguero and Demichelis all playing a part in proceedings.
Another perfect example of an Argentinian who gave his all to Manchester City is that of reserve goalkeeper Willy Caballero, who arrived at the club in the summer of 2014. Caballero started multiple Premier League games in Joe Hart’s absence, often proving himself as reliable as City’s number one and went on to become somewhat of a cult hero with the Etihad crowds.
Caballero’s moment of crowning glory came at Wembley during the League Cup final against Liverpool. After regular and extra time had finished 1-1, the final went straight to a penalty shootout. Caballero, despite being City’s and most fans’ second choice keeper, stepped up to save not one, not two, but three penalties from Liverpool. This won City the cup on the day against their rivals and is remembered dearly by the sky blue faithful.
City have also provided a springboard for Argentinian talents to get moves elsewhere across Europe with players including Bruno Zuculini, Geronimo Rulli and Nahuel Bustos all getting moves to the continent. Rulli is now playing for Spanish side Villareal and finds himself in the Champions League semi-finals alongside City themselves. The shot-stopper also saved in last season’s Europa League final penalty shootout to help Villareal win their first major trophy.
Following Aguero’s departure at the end of last season, City found themselves without an Argentine in their squad for the first time in 13 years but of course it wasn’t long before the tradition was reignited with the acquisition of Alvarez, and City fans will hope he will emulate his predecessors and form a long and cherished career in Manchester.
Pep Guardiola says he could re-think his preference of working with a small squad, with Manchester City stretched by injury at the business end of the season. Problems for John Stones, Kyle Walker and Nathan Ake, plus Joao Cancelo’s suspension means the Blues could be down to just three fit defenders for the visit of Real Madrid on Tuesday.
And that has called into question Guardiola’s preferred policy of working with a relatively small squad – the Blues have the third-smallest squad in the Premier League in terms of senior players. The manager says he has no plans to change that, although they are expected to add a striker to the squad in the summer with plans to land Erling Haaland progressing.
Guardiola made up his subs’ bench with academy youngsters in the two recent games against Liverpool, who were able to include eight senior outfield players on their bench plus an Irish international goalkeeper. But the City boss is still relaxed about working with a small, tight group, and dipping into the academy to make up the numbers.
He said he would “maybe” think about a change in approach, but added: “I don’t like it. I’m sad to leave four or five on the bench who don’t play much – I don’t want to be eight, nine, 10.
“That’s why the academy is important to provide extra depth, with the quality, they can help us be more stable. Sometimes we are lucky, we have new technologies, new machines, for the players to be better.
“They help players to be fit. When we won the quadruple (Premier League, the domestic cups and Community Shield) everyone was fit at the end. Now we are in the position of doing the same – we have problems in many important positions and you have to adapt.”
Guardiola says the issues cropping up now – his medical staff dealt with 71 injuries from the Atletico Madrid draw to the Liverpool FA Cup semi-final defeat last week – are akin to those teams normally get at the height of the winter schedule.
“Normally it happens in November and December, but now we suffer a lot,” he said. “When we arrive with one month left and the players (will) know we are in trouble when a winger has to play central defender. He will do it and he’s focussed because he knows we are getting so close to the titles – and they will do it well.”
James Trafford and Gavin Bazunu have spent the season out on loan from Manchester City in League One picking up valuable first team football experience.
Bazunu, a Republic of Ireland international, has starred out on loan at Portsmouth this campaign, playing 44 times for Pompey.
Trafford meanwhile spent the first half of the campaign at Accrington Stanley, making 11 appearances for John Coleman’s side before switching in January to Bolton Wanderers.
He has since gone on to become Bolton’s first choice stopper and played 21 times since arriving in mid-January.
Both stoppers are now coming to the end of their respective loan deals and the questions remains whether they will be at City next season to challenge the likes of Ederson, Zack Steffen and Scott Carson for the number one jersey, or head out of the club once more.
Wanderers would very much be open to the possibility of Trafford returning to the University of Bolton Stadium next season, while Pompey boss Danny Cowley rates Bazunu as the ‘best I’ve ever worked with’ as EFL pundit George Elek has also claimed that the City loanee Gavin Bazunu is arguably the best goalkeeper in League One.
But according to the Sun, the duo may not be at City or their current loan clubs again next season.
Bazunu could be on the move to the Championship, with Sheffield United keen to sign the 20-year-old goalkeeper, with fellow Championship side Preston North End also tipped to be interested.
Trafford meanwhile could link up with legendary former City defender Vincent Kompany at Belgian side Anderlecht.
Spanish newspaper Marca reports that Real Madrid are unaware of recent reports suggesting that Kylian Mbappe is looking for a further 100 million euros to complete their proposed deal for the French striker, and are expecting the transfer to go through. They are also weighing up an offer for Erling Haaland, and beating Manchester City in the Champions League could help their cause.
Gabriel Jesus would be the perfect signing for Arsenal if Mikel Arteta can get a deal done this summer. Reports from Brazil have claimed the Gunners are in advanced talks to sign the player.
Brazilian journalist Jorge Nicola has claimed on his YouTube channel that an agreement has been struck between Arsenal and Jesus after a meeting with his agent and all that needs to be done now is for Arsenal and Manchester City to agree on a fee. Meanwhile, The Athletic says Arsenal are the favourites to sign the forward and talks have been held with representatives for months.
If a deal does happen, Arteta will have found a key piece of the jigsaw he is building at the Emirates. Jesus would fit seamlessly into the Arsenal side.
The Gunners would be getting a hungry player, keen on making the Brazil squad for the World Cup in Qatar later this year. He may not be the most prolific in front of goal but 89 goals in 229 games for City is not a bad record by any stretch of imagination.
He has often been used as a substitute by Pep Guardiola which also distorts his record somewhat. Jesus only turned 25 earlier this month and there is a feeling plenty more can be drawn out of his undoubted talent.
Arsenal are going to need at least one striker this summer, even if one of Eddie Nketiah or Alexandre Lacazette do end up staying. And a move for Jesus makes perfect sense.
He has shown in recent seasons he can play across the frontline. So even if Arsenal do sign a more established centre-forward, Jesus could still earn a spot in the starting XI.
Guardiola never stands in the way of a player wanting to leave, so if his desire is to move elsewhere, Arsenal will be in a good position to snap him up. A big reason for that is the presence of Mikel Arteta at the Emirates.
Jesus officially joined City in 2017, the year after Arteta became Guardiola’s assistant. Arteta worked closely with the forwards at the Etihad and Jesus spoke glowingly about him following his departure to become Arsenal boss.
Jesus said of the Spaniard in 2019: “He’s helped a lot of players. When I want to do finishing after training, I tell him and he comes and helps me.
“So he is really fantastic for us. All the players know that — everyone knows that in the club. He is a fantastic guy and fantastic manager.
“I don’t honestly know what he thinks about his career, that is for him. I hope he can find his way and I hope he can be happy.”
Arteta is attempting to adopt a similar style of play to Guardiola at Arsenal but hasn’t yet got the players to do that. Signing a player from City would go a long way to achieving that.
Ralf Rangnick has complaints about four specific Manchester United players ahead of the Erik ten Hag era, according to reports. The Red Devils’ season hit a new low on Saturday when they were beaten 3-1 by Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. And a big summer of change, clearly, can’t come soon enough.
Manchester United are preparing for the start of the Ten Hag era after it was confirmed the Dutchman would be taking over at Old Trafford this summer.
And The Mirror say Rangnick is preparing a dossier to present to his successor at the end of the campaign.
This is apparently because chiefs John Murtough and Richard Arnold have asked the 63-year-old to ensure his successor is well-informed when he takes charge.
And four players are set to be criticised more than other players at the German’s disposal.
Rangnick apparently ‘doesn’t rate’ Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones.
Wan-Bissaka has gone backwards this term, with the former Crystal Palace star behind Diogo Dalot in the club’s pecking order.
And Bailly and Jones have never fulfilled their potential having arrived from Villarreal and Blackburn in 2016 and 2011 respectively.
Furthermore, Rangnick has complaints over Victor Lindelof as well.
The Sweden international started against Arsenal but endured a troublesome day at the office, with Eddie Nketiah exploiting his lack of pace.
Rangnick feels the former Benfica star’s decisiveness and positioning leave plenty to be desired.
And he also thinks club captain Harry Maguire, who was benched for the showdown at the Emirates, has been made a scapegoat for their dire campaign.
Erik ten Hag insists he will be able to handle the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United. The incoming Red Devils boss has warned Ronaldo he, or any other player, will not be given any special treatment.
United announced on Thursday that Ten Hag will become the club’s next permanent manager at the end of the season. The Dutchman will leave Ajax to replace Ralf Rangnick at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo is almost halfway through the two-year contract he signed upon his return to United last summer. The Portugal superstar will immediately become the most high-profile player Ten Hag will have ever managed in his coaching career.
Some have questioned whether Ten Hag’s lack of experience at top European clubs will hamper him at United. But in his first interview since being announced as the new United boss, he insists he is ready for the task ahead.
Ten Hag was asked: “Can you deal well with stars, the Ronaldos of this world?” And he was pretty clear in his response that no player will be able to go against his values.
He told Dutch outlet Trouw: “I think so, but I will remain myself in that too. I will not change my view on coaching.
“The material always determines how you play, but I indicate the requirements that come with it and the standards. I tell who has what task and who does not meet it, will be told that, regardless of who it is. I make no concessions in that regard.”
Ronaldo is United’s leading goalscorer in all competitions this season. The 37-year-old has scored 21 goals, with no other player in the squad reaching double figures.