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Man Utd only have £100m for transfers

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been given just £100 million to strengthen his Manchester United squad this summer, with further spending likely to be dependent on money raised by player sales. Despite United suffering one of their worst seasons since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, further investment in the squad hinges on the futures of Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and David De Gea, who have all been linked with moves away from Old Trafford this summer.

If United are able to retain all three players — Pogba and De Gea, in particular — there is a view within the club that the recruitment of emerging talent ahead of next season can make Solskjaer’s team competitive for a top four finish. But having seen Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia leave as free agents at the end of last season, five months after the £10.5m sale of Marouane Fellaini to Shandong Luneng, Solskjaer has been told that his initial rebuilding plans must be financed by the £100m transfer fund.

Solskjaer, who was confirmed as full-time manager in March after initially replacing the sacked Jose Mourinho on a caretaker basis last December, has so far added just one signing in Swansea City winger Daniel James to his squad since the end of last season, when United finished sixth and without a trophy for the second successive campaign.

United, who have recently given new contracts to Ashley Young, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Juan Mata, are also pursuing Leicester and England centre-back Harry Maguire, Newcastle United midfielder Sean Longstaff and Crystal Palace defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

But with the club’s players due to report back for preseason training on July 1, only £15m has been spent so far. Moves for Maguire and Wan-Bissaka have so far failed to achieve a breakthrough due to United offering substantially less than the valuations of Leicester and Palace respectively.

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Argentina lucky to be alive at Copa – Scaloni

The Albiceleste are only just clinging to hopes of securing progress after being held to a 1-1 draw, with their coach conceding they are fortunate. Lionel Scaloni admitted Argentina were “lucky” to still be alive in the Copa America after a 1-1 draw with Paraguay on Wednesday.

Lionel Messi’s second-half penalty cancelled out Richard Sanchez’s goal in the Group B clash in Belo Horizonte. But Argentina also needed goalkeeper Franco Armani, who saved a spot-kick from Derlis Gonzalez to earn his side their first point of the tournament.

Scaloni, whose team are facing a group-stage exit and need a win over Qatar on Sunday, said Argentina were fortunate.

“The solution is that we have to win. We are lucky to be alive,” he told a news conference.

“We have to look more like the second half, but be more balanced and thus be able to manage the game.”

He added: “Our first half was not good, we played with desperation at times and we couldn’t control the play or create attacks. We had a very clear plan but couldn’t execute it as we kept losing the ball. They scored with their first attack and that caused us a lot of uncertainty.

“For a team like Argentina, which feels like it always has to win, the first blow is hard to take, but we assured the players at half time that it was just one goal.”

The introduction of Sergio Aguero at the interval led to a more dangerous Argentina as the forward played alongside Messi and Lautaro Martinez. But an unhappy Martinez was substituted in the 67th minute with what was later described as a glute injury.

“I don’t know if it was the best version [before Martinez came off], but without a doubt it was the most dangerous,” Scaloni said.

“Sergio entered very well.”

Argentina remain bottom of the group on one point, behind Colombia (six), Paraguay (two) and Qatar (one) ahead of Sunday’s games.

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Keita looking for Klopp to work Salah & Mane magic

The Guinean midfielder believes there is much more to come from him under a coach that has already raised the standard of fellow Reds stars.

Naby Keita is hoping to see Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp replicate the success he has enjoyed with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane when it comes to his own game. The German tactician at Anfield is considered to be one of the very best in the business. He boasts a CV to back up that standing in the global game, with a Champions League crown added to his roll of honour in 2018-19.

Klopp has made shrewd additions in the transfer market during his time at Anfield and found a way of maximising the talent at his disposal. Salah and Mane are two examples of players fulfilling their undoubted potential – having claimed a share of the Premier League Golden Boot last season – and Keita is looking to follow in their footsteps.

A man who made a big-money move to Merseyside in the summer of 2018 said of life under a highly-regarded manager: “Klopp knows how to treat players and help them, he always talks with everyone on and off the pitch and helps them to improve. He can make you give all that you have and more on the pitch.

“People can see how he improved Salah and Mane and I hope he can do the same with me next season.”

Roberto Firmino, Naby Keita, Liverpool vs Porto, UCL 2018-19

Keita is convinced that he has more to offer the Liverpool cause, with a slow start to his time with the club having been overcome to start justifying the £52.75 million ($67m) invested in him.

He added on the changes he has made since leaving German football: “I was a playmaker in Leipzig. I took the ball with more freedom to do what I want, playing the ball to strikers and wingers to assist or get in front of goal and score.

“At Liverpool, we have more attacking players like Salah, Mane and [Roberto] Firmino who boast great scoring numbers.

“My first year was about adapting with the team and to the Premier League. There are big differences between football in Germany and England and also between Leipzig and Liverpool, in my duties and the way of playing. I hope things will be even better next year.”

Keita ended the 2018-19 campaign with 33 appearances and three goals to his name.

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Messi: ‘Crazy’ if Argentina have early Copa exit

Argentina captain Lionel Messi said “it could be crazy” if the squad doesn’t advance from the Copa America group stage following their 1-1 draw against Paraguay on Wednesday night. Messi scored from the penalty spot to salvage the draw for Argentina at the Minerao stadium in Belo Horizonte, cancelling out a first-half strike from Paraguay’s Richard Sanchez.

“Frankly, it’s a little frustrating not being able to get the win we need to take the next step,” Messi said after the match. “We knew this would be difficult, we’re still looking for the best group, for the best performance, to keep growing.”

Argentina are still bottom of Group B with one point from two games but they could progress to the last eight with a win over third-placed Qatar in their final group game on Sunday.

“[The squad] is hurt by the situation because we can’t manage to win a game, and we know today was key for us,” Messi said. “We know we have to win the next game to advance.”

The result ensured Colombia clinched top spot in the group on six points after they beat Qatar 1-0 earlier on. Paraguay are second on two points.

“We know we’ll be playing for our lives,” Messi said. “It would be crazy if we can’t advance from the group stage, when basically three [teams] advance from each group. I have no doubt we’ll do it.” Argentina’s caretaker coach Lionel Scaloni said his side had not played well and struggled to cope with the shock of conceding the first goal.

“Our first half was not good, we played with desperation at times and we couldn’t control the play or create attacks. We had a very clear plan but couldn’t execute it as we kept losing the ball,” he told reporters.

“They scored with their first attack and that caused us a lot of uncertainty. For a team like Argentina, which feels like it always has to win, the first blow is hard to take, but we assured the players at halftime that it was just one goal.”

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Coutinho unsure of his Barca future

The playmaker is putting talk over his club future to one side to focus on helping Brazil to Copa America glory, despite the ongoing speculation. Philippe Coutinho says he is unsure where he will be playing next season as speculation continues to mount over his Barcelona future.

The Brazil international had an underwhelming first full campaign at Camp Nou, contributing five LaLiga goals and two assists. Coutinho acknowledged earlier this week he needs to improve to justify his hefty price tag, with Barcelona paying a fee that could rise to £142 million to sign him from Liverpool in January 2018.

Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain are rumoured to be interested in the 27-year-old, but he is keeping his attention on helping Brazil to Copa America glory on home soil.

“I do not know. The future, nobody knows,” Coutinho told reporters when asked if he will leave Barcelona.

“I am focused to play with the national team now.”

Coutinho scored twice in Brazil’s 3-0 win over Bolivia in their opening Copa America match, but he could not inspire his side in Tuesday’s 0-0 draw with Venezuela. The midfielder has admitted that he did not play as well as expected for Barcelona in 2018-19, saying last week: “I had a tough time on the field because I have not performed as expected, but football is like that and I’m working hard to improve.”

As well as links to United and PSG, there has also been talk of a potential return to Liverpool. And Reds legend Jamie Carragher believes Coutinho would be welcomed back at Anfield with open arms if he wanted to return.

“I wouldn’t say I would be actively going to get him, but if there was a possibility of bringing Coutinho back for decent money, and Barca wanted to cut their losses a little bit because it hasn’t worked out, then I’d do that,” he said last month. Meanwhile, Liverpool chairman Tom Werner believes the player likely regrets leaving Anfield in the first place.

“We tried to convince him that we had the club moving in the right direction and that he could experience big Champions League occasions by staying at Liverpool,” he said. “I think he probably regrets his decision.”

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Luis Enrique quits Spain for personal reasons

Spain announced on Wednesday afternoon that Luis Enrique has stepped down as coach of the national team because of personal reasons. Enrique, 49, has been on a leave of absence since March 26, with his assistant Robert Moreno having guided La Roja in their past three Euro 2020 qualifiers. Moreno will replace Luis Enrique as head coach, Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales announced.

“Luis Enrique has announced he will not continue as coach,” Rubiales said in a news conference on Wednesday. “It is his decision and we have to respect it.

“We have to thank Luis Enrique. We’ve learned a lot from him. We will continue to support him. He will always have the doors open in this federation. I ask the press to continue to respect him during this difficult time which is down to a personal issue. The decision of the RFEF is to put its trust on Robert Moreno, who will lead us at Euro 2020. We are convinced he is the best choice in view of the situation we are in.”

A statement given on behalf of Enrique was read at the news conference: “Due to the reasons that prevented me from carrying on my duties as coach since March and because they continue, I’ve decided to step down.

“All my gratitude to the RFEF for their confidence and the understanding shown. I want to thank especially all the people that are part of the staff and the players for their professionalism. I cannot forget the media for your discretion and the respect shown in view of the situation.”

The RFEF had expressed last month their “total commitment” to Enrique and hoped to have him for “many years in charge.”

Enrique was contracted to the RFEF for a further year, but his spell in charge has lasted 11 months. Spain have gone 8-2 since the former Barcelona coach replaced Fernando Hierro at the helm following the national team’s last-16 exit to Russia at the 2018 World Cup.

“It’s a mixed feeling,” Moreno said Wednesday at the news conference. “I’m sad but I feel the responsibility. It’s special circumstances and Luis Enrique wanted me to accept this role. I’m certain Spain will qualify for Euro 2020.”

Spain play at Romania on Sept. 5 before hosting the Faroe Islands three days later as part of their European qualifying campaign. La Roja lead Group F with four wins in as many games.

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Tite: I have concerns about Brazil

The manager admitted that he wasn’t thrilled with the display against Venezuela on Wednesday. Brazil manager TIte admitted that were some concerns after his side were booed off the field following a scoreless draw with Venezuela.

The Copa America hosts were undone by the Video Assistant Referee twice with two goals ruled out after video review. After limping through the first half of a win against Bolivia in their opener, Brazil were able to turn it on with three second-half goals to seal victory.

However, they could produce nothing of the sort on Wednesday, as the hosts dropped points in unconvincing fashion, prompting a flurry of boos from the home supporters.

“I have concerns, yes. The players are not insensitive. But we must know how to work on the adversity,” Tite said.

“I kept asking them during the second half, ‘keep exchanging passes, working for the space’. That’s how we play, there’s no point trying to do differently, that’s not our idea. That’s not compatible with the players’ features. But we must know how to work under pressure, and that’s one of our challenges.”

He added: “We must understand the fans, they want to see goals. If I was in their place I’d want the same. It’s understandable.”

Brazil seemed to break through in the second half through Gabriel Jesus, only to see the goal ruled back following a VAR review. A second Philippe Coutinho finish was then ruled out in the game’s final moments, causing a bit of controversy as Brazil were forced to settle for a scoreless draw.

But Tite had no issues with either call after seeing both plays for himself.

“It was fair. If I was on the opposing side I’d be satisfied, I have absolutely nothing to complain about,” he said.

Tite was criticized for his substitutions following the result, with the manager opting to put Fernandinho into the match for Casemiro while also opting to utilize Gabriel Jesus and Everton.

Brazil never changed their formation throughout the match, and, in the wake of criticism, Tite hit back sarcastically.

“I don’t have that intuition, of changing a defender for a midfielder, for example. I’m incompetent on that matter, to put a player on the pitch and hope that he magically finds a solution, You must have a good structure, and not just change things based on pressure and need for a result.”

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Real Madrid interested in Neymar amid PSG exit reports

The Liga club accept any deal for the 27-year-old will be complicated amid interest from Barcelona and the significant costs associated with a move. Real Madrid are keeping abreast of Neymar’s situation at Paris Saint-Germain and, despite any deal for the Brazilian being difficult, remain keen on the prospect of taking him to the Bernabeu.

The 27-year-old’s future in Paris is very much up in the air, with Neymar having been tipped to depart in the summer and Barcelona having been heavily linked. Indeed, PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi had a strong message for the Ligue 1 side’s star players, insisting that he will not accept “celebrity behaviour” and that he only wants players who are “willing to give everything”.

He also insisted that nobody forced the Brazil international, who is currently sidelined with an ankle injury and has thus missed out on the Copa America, to sign for PSG in the first place. There has also been a shake-up behind the scenes at the club that could affect Neymar’s future, with sporting director Antero Henrique, who had been a big supporter of the forward, departing and being replaced by Leonardo.

According to sources close to the Ligue 1 champions, the Brazilian doesn’t hold Neymar in as high regard as Henrique, with Al-Khelaifi insisting Leonardo will have “all the sporting powers” to make decisions regarding players at the club. And Madrid, for their part, have been alerted to the goings on in Paris and are encouraged by what they see as a potential opportunity to finally get the player to join them.

Madrid president Florentino Perez has long been an admirer of the former Barcelona forward having almost signed him as a 14-year-old in 2006, before seeing him join Barca in 2013, and then again missing out on him in 2017 as PSG won the race.

The signing of Neymar would be the icing on the cake of what has already been a hugely productive summer for Zinedine Zidane’s side. After a disappointing 2018-19 campaign that saw them finish third in the table and suffer humiliation in the Champions League, Los Blancos have reacted by signing five new players including Eder Militao, Luka Jovic, Eden Hazard, Ferland Mendy and Rodrygo.

And they’re not likely to stop there as  Madrid are also keen on Paul Pogba and willing to go head-to-head with Juventus for his signature, with Zidane a huge fan of the Manchester United midfielder. It is unclear whether a move for Pogba would then bring an end to any hopes of signing Neymar, although there are significant hurdles to overcome regardless.

The transfer fee for Neymar, who joined PSG for a world-record €222 million (£195m/$260m), will undoubtedly be astronomical while his wage demands will also be high. There is also the fact that Madrid possess an already bulging squad that includes a number of star attacking players on big contracts.

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PSG open to Neymar sale this summer

Paris Saint-Germain are open to selling Neymar this summer, sources have told media, although the Ligue 1 champions have yet to receive any formal offers for the Brazilian. A potential move would come two years after Neymar joined the capital club from Barcelona for a record transfer fee of €222 million.

A source said that PSG expects an offer from either Barcelona, Real Madrid, or Manchester United. Noted football agent Pini Zahavi is involved in the process. Monday that the Catalan giant think a deal transfer “could be doable, but it won’t be simple.”

One reason Barca are now contemplating bringing Neymar back is because key players desire to have him back in the dressing room, according to a source. The Brazil international remains good friends with Barcelona stars Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, in particular.

PSG owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi has hinted that Neymar could be allowed to leave in the current transfer window. He told France Football this week that the club will no longer tolerate superstar attitudes from their biggest players and warned Neymar he only wants players who are “willing to give everything for the shirt.”

Neymar is sitting out the Copa America in Brazil after suffering a right ankle injury in a friendly match against Qatar earlier this month. He is also under investigation after a woman accused him of raping her at a Paris hotel. He has denied wrongdoing.

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Mourinho: I see myself at a national team

After winning trophies in four different European countries, the former Red Devils boss has revealed that he sees his future away from club football. Jose Mourinho has dropped hints to his future plans, revealing that he sees himself becoming the manager of a national team rather than another club.

The former Manchester United boss has been out of coaching work since being sacked by the Red Devils in December 2018 and has recently appeared as a pundit for broadcaster beIN SPORTS. In an interview broadcast by Eleven Sports however, the 56-year-old revealed he still has the desire to take on new challenges in the world of management.

I want to compete in new competitions,” he said.

“I think about the World Cup and the European Championships. For a long time I have had the desire to try out such an adventure. Right now, I see myself more at a national team than with a new club. Is Portugal the right team for me? Not necessarily.”

The self-proclaimed ‘special one’ has enjoyed a glittering career in club management since lifting his first league title with Porto in 2003 – a year before the Primeira Liga side won the UEFA Champions League. Mourinho would go on to lift the Champions League once more with Inter in 2010, but not before winning consecutive Premier League titles with Chelsea in 2005 and 2006, as well as four domestic trophies.

He added his fourth league title in as many countries with Real Madrid in 2012, and although his spell at Manchester United may not have gone as planned, there is no question that there is little left for him to achieve in club management.

The 56-year-old did not rule out a return to club football when speaking earlier in June however, telling Eleven Sports: “Winning a fifth championship in a different country or the Champions League with a third club are things I’d like to do.

“I wouldn’t do it just for that. I only go where a project convinces me. I want to be happy, not necessarily win, I want to be happy and I don’t want to accept a proposal without being convinced of it, that’s what I’ve always thought.

“That’s why if [a club] told me ‘today there are no conditions to win, but we want you to create the conditions to win’, then I would evaluate it.”