Man United to make FAWSL debut against runners-up Man City

Manchester United will make their Women’s Super League debut against near neighbours Manchester City when the season begins in September.

Casey Stoney’s side won the Championship title by nine points in their inaugural campaign and will make their maiden top-flight appearance at City, who finished runners-up and won the SSE Women’s FA Cup and Continental League Cup last season.

Champions Arsenal are at home to beaten FA Cup finalists West Ham, while Champions League semi-finalists Chelsea start at home to WSL newcomers Tottenham.

The opening round of matches will be played on the weekend of September 7 and 8.

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Other opening-weekend matches see Birmingham host Everton, Bristol City at home to Brighton and Reading go to Liverpool.

“It’s a very exciting time for women’s football with the country currently swept up in the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Lionesses performing brilliantly,” said Kelly Simmons, director of the women’s professional game.

“We’re looking forward to this increased interest carrying over into our domestic game next season and beyond.

“Opening weekend is packed full of great fixtures that are sure to set the tone for what promises to be the biggest and most exciting domestic season yet and we look forward to releasing the full fixture list next week.”

The remaining fixtures will be announced next Wednesday.


Spurs to loan Clarke back to Leeds after £8.5m transfer

Jack Clarke will return to Leeds United on loan once he completes his move to Tottenham on Monday, according to reports.

Reliable Leeds reporter Phil Hay, who has just left the Evening Post, has claimed on Twitter that the 18-year-old will be loaned by to the Whites for next season after completing a transfer.

Spurs are believed to have reached an agreement of £8.5million for Clarke, who made his breakthrough at Elland Road last season making 25 appearances.

Leeds are also close to the loan signings of Manchester City winger Jack Harrison, Brighton defender Ben White and Wolves’ Helder Costa.

The Evening Post claim Harrison, who spent last season on loan with United, is set to rejoin Marcelo Bielsa’s squad after undergoing a medical.

And White, 21. will have a medical at Thorp Arch today before signing from the south coast club.


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Man Utd to ‘accelerate’ £65m deal after Liverpool, Spurs decision

Manchester United are now reportedly ready to try to land Sporting Lisbon midfielder Bruno Fernandes after sealing the signing of Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace.

Wan-Bissaka completed his protracted £50m move from Crystal Palace on Saturday after United decided against pulling out of the deal.

That means there is now two in the door at Old Trafford this summer with the signing of Daniel James earlier this month and United are ready to press ahead.

And Portuguese publication Record (via Sport Witness) claims that United have ‘expressed their intention to accelerate’ a deal for Fernandes – who could cost in the region of £65million – now they have Wan-Bissaka finalised.

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The report adds that there could be news as early as next week on Fernandes‘ departure from Sporting with his agent, Miguel Pinho, visiting London recently for talks.

And in further news of a boost for United, ESPN say their rivals for Fernandes’ signature – including Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham – have ‘distanced themselves from a move’.


Liverpool legend: Why Klopp must spend big this summer

Liverpool legend Ray Clemence thinks that Jurgen Klopp must still “make purchases” to improve the squad this summer or risk being left behind by Manchester City.

The Reds missed out on the Premier League title by a point to Pep Guardiola’s men last campaign before making up for that with Champions League glory in Madrid.

Despite winning their first trophy under Klopp and closing the gap on City, Clemence still thinks money must be spent this summer at Anfield.

“The thing is – and Liverpool and Klopp will know this better than anyone – you’ve got to keep trying to get better,” said Clemence.

“What they did last year was great, but they still finished second and I’m sure City will be looking to improve. For Liverpool to keep up, they need to make purchases as well. They have to go up another level because of the way City play.

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“They got 97 points, lost one game all season and came second. That’s just incredible and it’s why I’m delighted they won the Champions League. To have won nothing would have been unbelievable.

“For the football club – and Jurgen – the longer it went on without winning anything, despite playing so well, the pressure would have got more and more and more. Klopp was allowed four years, which a lot of managers wouldn’t have been given if they didn’t win something.

“He was allowed that time because the board and fans realised what he was trying to do.

“Now they’ve got the monkey off their back, they’ve won something. I know myself that doesn’t mean it becomes easier the following year. Because you’ve won something, other clubs are even more determined to try and beat you. But at least you know you can do it now – and you know how you did it.”


Pogba ‘to beg Solskjaer to let him leave’ Man Utd in £120m deal

Paul Pogba will ‘plea’ with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to let him leave Manchester United this summer, according to reports.

There has been intense speculation about the 26-year-old’s Old Trafford happiness and Pogba recently admitted he was considering “a new challenge somewhere else”.

Real Madrid have a long-standing interest in Pogba and Juventus are interested in bringing back the France midfielder, three years after selling him to United for a then world-record fee of £89million.

And The Sun claims that Pogba will make a ‘personal plea’ to Solskjaer when they meet this week after the France international has returned from his holiday.

Pogba is hoping that Solskjaer will be able to persuade Ed Woodward to let him leave the club with the executive vice-chairman expected to demand £120million for the midfielder’s services.

The 26-year-old has ‘told all his United team-mates he wants to go’ and Pogba ‘wants the issue sorted’ before United’s first pre-season game on July 13.

It is understood that neither Real Madrid or Juventus have made an offer for Pogba despite their interest in the player, with Zinedine Zidane not interested in paying above £90million for his compatriot.


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Spurs want seven in, seven out with £100m man house-hunting

Tottenham want seven new signings and ‘could offload’ as many – including house-hunting Christian Eriksen.

The Champions League runners-up have not made a single signing since that of Lucas Moura in January 2018, with Mauricio Pochettino stating it was “imperative” for Tottenham to change that this summer.

Jack Clarke is the closest to joining after undergoing a medical ahead of his £10m move from Leeds, while difficult negotiations are well underway over priority target Tanguy Ndombele.

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas stated that Tottenham’s first offer for the midfielder was £31.4m short of their valuation, with Juventus also interested.

The north London side are also expected to follow up their failed club-record bid for Giovani Lo Celso, but The Times claim Pochettino ‘also wants’ Ryan Sessegnon ‘and potentially another two defenders and a reserve striker’.

One of the defenders could be Lucas Digne, who would be targeted if Danny Rose was to leave.

In the same story, it is suggested that the manager’s desire to ‘rejuvenate the squad’ means they ‘could offload seven players’, with Fernando Llorente among them.

Christian Eriksen could also be included, as it is said that his ‘family members have been seen looking for a house in Madrid’.

Eriksen outlined his desire to leave in the aftermath of the Champions League final – and Tottenham really should go all in on his departure – but the Dane is still valued at £100m.

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Even with a only a year left on his contract, the fact that Real Madrid, his likely destination, are reluctant to enter a bidding war over Paul Pogba could weigh in Eriksen’s favour.


Holding reveals Rashford apology over season-ending injury

Rob Holding says Marcus Rashford texted him to apologise for inadvertently ending his season in December.

Holding ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee after a clash with Rashford in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw against Manchester United before the turn of the year.

The centre-half has not featured since, returning to training towards the end of the season in the hope of proving his fitness by August.

But Holding does not hold anything against Rashford, stating that the United forward personally contacted him to deny the tackle was in any way “malicious”.

“Marcus text me when the [extent of the] injury came out,” Holding told Arsenal’s website.

“He just dropped me a text and just said, ‘Hi mate, sorry to hear about the injury, I didn’t mean it in any malicious way’.

“I didn’t take it as a personal attack on me, it’s just football. I just replied to him like, ‘Yeah mate, don’t worry about it, it’s football, you didn’t even make a tackle, you just sort of ran into me, there’s nothing in it, I’m not going to be judging you off that’. I’ve got nothing but respect for him and just wished him the best for the season.

“It wasn’t until a few nights when I was sort of in bed and on FaceTime to my girlfriend and just talking, and then thinking about it more, and then you sort of realise how long it’s going to be and you’re not going to play football, or kick a ball for three or four months.

“But yeah, that’s what it was and then it was just about a long road to recovery basically.”


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‘Outstanding’ Valencia starts post-Man United career

Former Manchester United captain Antonio Valencia has agreed a move back to his homeland with Ecuadorian side LDU Quito.

Valencia spent a decade at Old Trafford having joined from Wigan in 2009 and was named club captain by Jose Mourinho at the start of last season.

United opted against extending the 33-year-old’s contract at the end of the season and he has now joined LDU Quito on a two-year deal.

A statement from LDU Quito read: “One of the most outstanding players in the history of Ecuadorian football, Antonio Valencia has joined the Whites.”

Valencia won two Premier League titles during his time at Old Trafford, as well as the FA Cup, two League Cups and the Europa League.

LDU Quito won the Ecuadorian top flight last season and currently sit seventh in the table, with the season set to resume in early July at the conclusion of the Copa America.


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Zaha ‘pleads with’ Palace to let him join boyhood club Arsenal

Wilfried Zaha has ‘urged’ Crystal Palace to ‘reach an agreement’ with boyhood club Arsenal this summer.

Zaha has emerged as one of Arsenal’s main targets in this transfer window as they look to stretch a reported £45m budget well beyond comprehension.

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The winger reportedly met with Palace in May to explain his desire to leave the club after five years.

A month prior, Zaha declared that he was “too ambitious” to stay at Selhurst Park for much longer.

And the Ivory Coast international has now told Palace of his ‘desire’ to move to Arsenal, the club he supported as a boy, specifically.

The Daily Mail say that Zaha has ‘pleaded’ with Palace to sanction a move, despite the south London club’s reluctance to lose both him and Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the same transfer window.

With Wan-Bissaka’s move to Manchester United almost complete, it seems as though Zaha may be stuck at Palace.

Their valuation of £80m is also far beyond what Arsenal are willing to pay, with Zaha ‘hoping that Palace chairman Steve Parish will lower the club’s demands to make his dream switch a reality’.


Leeds starlet warned Spurs move may ‘send his career backwards’

Jack Clarke has been warned that leaving Leeds for Tottenham “could send his career backwards”.

Clarke is set to become Tottenham’s first signing since January 2018 after a £10m move was agreed with Leeds.

The Championship had a cheeky request to keep the 18-year-old rejected, with the confirmation of his move to north London expected within days.

But former Leeds right-back Danny Mills has warned Clarke that he is making “the right move at the wrong time”.

“There’s a lot of potential there,” he told Sky Sports. “But at this stage he’s very, very raw, and it is purely potential.

“You have to say, if a player is that good at 18 years old, 19 years old, whoever you are, you have more than four starts in a Championship side. That’s what people have got to think about.

“You know, you’re coming off the bench, it’s easier to pick the ball up and run at people, and you’re generally coming off the bench because you’re either one, two, three-nil up and there’s a little bit more freedom, or there’s desperation stakes, and it’s ‘right, just go and have a go at people, go and do something and be creative,’ whatever it is.

“Why is Marcelo Bielsa not saying, ‘Right, OK, you are worthy of more starts than this’? Can he be trusted? Has he seen enough in training?

“I actually think it’s the wrong move. No, let me correct that: it’s the right move at the wrong time. He’s too young. Is he going to play at Tottenham next season? No chance. He’s going to be nowhere near the first team.

“He’s dipped his toe in the water in a Championship side with a handful of starts. Next year he might have got 15, 20 starts and the opportunity to impress. He now goes to Tottenham and he’s going to, at best, be in their U23 squad.

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“I think it’s the wrong move. He should stay and play. He’s a good player. Look at what the Ajax players have done. Look at what other young players going out on loan, some of the young Chelsea players. Playing games week in, week out is what he needs to do.

“Going back to the U23 system…he’s not going to play ahead of Lucas Moura, he’s not going to play ahead of Ndombele. All these people that are coming in, I think this actually could send his career backwards because he’s not going to play football.”