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Man Utd’s Champions League hopes rest on two players – ‘It will be down to them’

Manchester United’s hopes of securing qualification for the Champions League next season is all down to Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba, according to former Tottenham striker Darren Bent. Fernandes has continued his fine start at United since his £46.6million arrival from Sporting Lisbon in January. The Portugal international scored a brace in the 3-0 win at Brighton on Tuesday.

Fernandes has started to build a partnership with Pogba, who has featured in all five games since lockdown after recovering from the ankle injury that had kept him out of the majority of the campaign.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side sit fifth in the Premier League table, which could be enough to qualify for the Champions League pending Manchester City’s appeal against their two-year European ban imposed on them by UEFA.

United are unbeaten in their last 15 matches in all competitions but Bent says how they finish the season will largely be down to how Fernandes and Pogba perform.

“The obvious one [who has impressed me] is Bruno Fernandes and the impact he’s had on the squad, I think he’s been fantastic,” Bent told Premier League Productions.

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“Not only that as well, Pogba has kind of seen what Fernandes has been doing and it’s like he’s kind of said: ‘Well hold on, I’m a good player as well, you’re not going to forget about me’.

“So both of them in tandem have been fantastic.

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“[Anthony] Martial’s been good, scored a hat-trick, [Marcus] Rashford’s still trying to find his feet, [Mason] Greenwood, young kid, 18 years old, looks like he knows how to play the Manchester United way.

“So for me I think those two in the middle of the park, Pogba and Fernandes, I think however far Manchester United go this year, whether they get into the top four, it will be down to them two.”

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Meanwhile, legendary United striker Dwight Yorke has explained how Pogba has changed his game while playing alongside Fernandes.

“When it comes to Pogba, Pogba recognises now that he doesn’t need to do it all,” Yorke told Stadium Astro.

“Before, I think he needed to do it all at United because it was so frustrating at times watching.

“He felt like he needed to make a wonder-pass and I think now with Bruno coming in and hitting the ground running, not only can he score but he can create himself as well.

“So he doesn’t need to play those killer balls all the time and I think that’s relieved him to recognise sometimes I can do it simple.”

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When Man Utd plan to unleash Hannibal Mejbri after Angel Gomes departure

Manchester United will only unleash Hannibal Mejbri when he’s physically ready to cope with life at the highest level, reports say. The 17-year-old has been tipped to replace Angel Gomes in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first-team squad next season. But the youngster may have to wait a little while longer to prove his worth.

According to The Athletic, United will only throw Mejbri into the mix once he toughens up physically.

The Premier League is a tough crack for many players to crack and, with the midfielder just 17, the Red Devils want to do everything they can to protect his development.

United have seen Gomes leave on a free transfer with the playmaker linked with Chelsea and Barcelona, having turned down the offer of a contract extension.

But Mejbri, as it stands, won’t be filling the void left behind by his departure.

United are currently blessed with midfielders, with all of them impressing under Solskjaer in recent times.

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Paul Pogba has been reborn since returning from injury, with the 27-year-old shining in matches against Tottenham, Sheffield United, Norwich and Brighton so far.

Bruno Fernandes has performed well, too, ever since his arrival from Sporting Lisbon in the January transfer window.

Nemanja Matic is resurgent in the defensive midfield role, with the Serbia international winding back the years in the middle of the park.

And Scott McTominay and Fred have been much-improved following Solskjaer’s appointment as manager back in 2018.

Meanwhile, United coach Neil Ryan hailed Mejbri when asked about the teenage talent back in March.

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“He comes with a high reputation, good player, lovely character, good kid,” he told the Evening Standard.

“He’s working very hard and like every young kid in the club, he is learning still and we are seeing some really positive things from him on the pitch.

“He is part of a group of boys who are trying to push on and develop.

“They are all at stages in their career and it’s not just him. It’s a group of 28-30 players. He is one of a number of boys we have high hopes for.”

United coach Nicky Butt also hailed Mejbri and admitted earlier in the year that he wanted to keep the playmaker under the radar.

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“It’s hard to get him under the radar when we’ve chased him for so long and he’s come from a big club for a big fee, so that’s impossible,” Butt said.

“But you want to get young people under the radar because, coming from a different country and getting the price tag on your head and coming to one of the biggest clubs in the world, there’s going to be so much pressure in the first place.”

Regarding Gomes, it’s unclear where he’ll go next.

Both Chelsea and Barcelona have been touted as potential destinations for the 19-year-old.

But clubs from Italy and other areas of Europe are interested in snapping him up too.

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Man Utd hero issues Bruno Fernandes warning to Premier League champions Liverpool

Manchester United ace Bruno Fernandes can lead the team to Premier League glory, because he unlocks the whole team and can provide creativity. That’s the opinion of Phil Neville, who thinks the Portuguese ace is exactly what United have been missing in recent years.

Fernandes has completely changed United’s fortunes since he joined the club.

The midfielder was signed late in the January transfer window for £46.6million, ending a long-running transfer saga.

And since he joined, he has been superb, scoring six goals and providing four assists in his first eight Premier League games.

United are unbeaten in all competitions this season, and are making a run at third place in the league.

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They are currently three points behind third-placed Leicester, who have a game in hand.

Chelsea are two points above United with a game in hand in fourth spot, but have a tough run-in compared to the Red Devils.

There is a strong chance United could end up sneaking into the top-three, provided they keep up with their form.

Their recent surge up the table has led many to theorise that they could end up challenging the likes of Manchester City and Premier League champions Liverpool for the title next season.

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And Neville believes Fernandes could be the man to guide them to the next level, as his stats so far have proved he is can make the difference for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

Speaking to Premier League Productions, the former defender explained that the January signing is exactly what Solskjear needs going forward.

Neville said: “They’ve been missing that link between midfield and attack.

“The forwards have been missing that creativity, someone who can find a pass.

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“You look at the great teams, they all have that someone who can unlock the door, someone with that creativity.

“I think over the last seven years, that’s been the biggest missing chink.

“Sign someone who can win you the league title, sign someone who can unlock the whole team.

“At this moment in time, I don’t want to go overboard, but he is that good. His stats prove that.”

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Man Utd fans noticed Bruno Fernandes doing something odd in Brighton win

Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes scored twice as the Red Devils beat Brighton 3-0 in their Premier League clash against Brighton. But, while he was the match winner, many supporters were shocked at the sight of him drinking milk after coming off at the Amex Stadium. The Portugal international could be seen guzzling the stuff after being withdrawn by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United enjoyed a comfortable night against Brighton, cruising to victory and boosting their chances of a top four finish in the process.

Mason Greenwood scored the opening goal of the match in the 16th minute, cutting in from the right wing and unleashing a fine finish past Mathew Ryan in the Albion goal.

Fernandes then got his first goal of the night 13 minutes later, finishing from the edge of the box after some good work from Paul Pogba.

And the 25-year-old then got another early into the second half, expertly volleying home Greenwood’s pinpoint cross.

Fernandes was hooked by Solskjaer after playing the full 120 minutes against Norwich in the FA Cup just days previously.

And many supporters responded brilliantly on social media to the sight of the midfielder drinking milk after coming off.

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“Fernandes is an actual psychopath, scores a brace including a worldie finish than downs a pint of luke warm milk on the sidelines,” one fan amusingly said.

“Bruno Fernandes on the GOAT milk,” said another.

“Bruno Fernandes drinking milk. Is that his secret?” said a third.

“Just when I thought I couldn’t love Bruno Fernandes anymore there he is drinking a pint of milk after being taken off,” a fourth opined.

“Fernandes is currently sitting in the stands after a MOTM display drinking a bottle of milk and screaming at our players. Iconic,” were the words of another.

A sixth said: Fernandes drinking milk is perhaps the biggest power play in Barclays history.”

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A seventh chipped in with: “Normal ballers drink water whilst Bruno Fernandes is out here drinking a gallon of milk.”

And an eighth fan said: “Great advert for #milk tonight as a rehydration and post workout drink, Bruno Fernandes casually sipping a pint of the white stuff post game tonight.”

Speaking after the game, Fernandes addressed the media and expressed his delight with United’s performance.

He said to Sky Sports: “The most important thing is the three points but we played well and the result was good. We didn’t concede again which is important.

“David de Gea made two or three amazing saves, we are very happy.

“We knew that we needed to push forwards and to try and score from minute one. I was lucky with the first goal and the second goal was amazing, an amazing pass from Mason.

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“We are fighting for a place in the Champions League and we know we can achieve this.

“I don’t want to talk too much about me and Paul Pogba, we are happy to play together but I am happy to play with everyone.

“We can combine together, we have qualities, but we know that we have team-mates who can do well.”

United hero Patrice Evra hailed Fernandes after the final whistle while working as a pundit for Sky Sports.

He said: “I’m in love with this player (Fernandes)! I’m really impressed. Coming in January is not easy. Even the way he talks is positive. But we talk about Bruno, Pogba… what about Matic? He was my man of the match today.

“Without him I don’t think Bruno and Pogba can express themselves as well.”

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Man Utd star Bruno Fernandes reveals why he won’t talk about Paul Pogba after Brighton win

Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes has labelled David De Gea and Mason Greenwood ‘amazing’ for their performances in the 3-0 win against Brighton in the Premier League. The Portuguese did not want to talk too much about Paul Pogba though.

He said to Sky Sports: “The most important thing is the three points but we played well and the result was good. We didn’t concede again which is important.

“David de Gea made two or three amazing saves, we are very happy.

“We knew that we needed to push forwards and to try and score from minute one. I was lucky with the first goal and the second goal was amazing, an amazing pass from Mason.

“We are fighting for a place in the Champions League and we know we can achieve this.

“I don’t want to talk too much about me and Paul Pogba, we are happy to play together but I am happy to play with everyone.

“We can combine together, we have qualities, but we know that we have team-mates who can do well.”

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Man Utd hero Gary Neville believes Solskjaer has found his very own Robin van Persie

Manchester United hero Gary Neville believes Mason Greenwood can be every bit as good as Robin van Persie if he continue his development going at the club. The starlet netted the opener in the Premier League clash with Brighton this evening in emphatic fashion.

And Neville thinks Greenwood is starting to give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a headache as he is proving he should be starting most matches.

The 18-year-old has enjoyed a breakout campaign, netting six times in the Premier League.

And Neville thinks Greenwood is very like Van Persie in his abilities and technique on his left foot.

He said on Sky Sports: “Why Mason Greenwood? Because of that.

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“He can operate in tight space, receive the ball on the back foot. The first part was brilliant and then defenders don’t know what he is going to do.

“Solskjaer was a master at this, taking it through the legs and then pulling it back.

“He justifies his selection on that right-hand side.

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“He reminds me so much of Robin van Persie when he cuts in off the right on that left foot. The composure, the technique.”

United are embroiled in a battle for the top four with Chelsea and Leicester in their sights.

And Solskjaer has challenged his side to extend their unbeaten run which would stand at 15 if they can avoid defeat at Brighton.

“Any Man United team should go into any game against any opposition believing they can win that game so the short answer to whether we can go unbeaten is yes,” said Solskjaer.

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“The long answer is that there’s more to it than that but we hope to extend it and want it to go on as long as possible.

“Of course we are delighted with the way things are going at the moment but we are just going to take one game at a time.”

Bruno Fernandes netting on the half an hour mark to make it 2-0 to United.

If the Red Devils get all three points they will be just two behind Chelsea although they will have played one game more.

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Patrice Evra reveals Man Utd excitement but makes honest Premier League title assessment

Manchester United legend Patrice Evra says he is excited by the direction his former side are heading under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. However, Evra does not think United have the squad at the moment to mount a Premier League title challenge next season.

United have extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 14 matches with two wins and a draw since football was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Red Devils were sixth in the table heading into Tuesday’s visit to relegation-threatened Brighton, knowing three points would take them back above Wolves in fifth.

Evra has been seriously impressed with the form Solskjaer’s side have shown upon the league’s resumption and claims the Norwegian has brought back the club’s “DNA”.

However, the former France left-back says Solskjaer knows the squad are not ready to compete for the title yet.

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“[United have been] brilliant, I think even against Tottenham I was really impressed to see them in a good shape, they were sharp and it was a good game against Tottenham,” Evra said on Sky Sports.

“But after against Sheffield [United], what a win, brilliant win.

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“[Anthony] Martial hat-trick, [Paul] Pogba and [Bruno] Fernandes – I’m excited.

“I’m excited for tonight and to be fair it’s a must-win and I just think until the end of the season United will have to play only finals.

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“What I love about Ole is I can feel that the United DNA is back.

“I know the results should be better and we should win the title but it’s not the time.

“I think Ole is really honest with himself, they don’t have the team to win the title.

“But I can see a lot of improvement and I’m pleased with the spirit.

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“That’s why tonight is a final, it’s a must-win.”

Meanwhile, former England forward Sue Smith says United are two or three players away from competing for the title.

“I think they need to make two or three signings, another good top-quality centre-half in there, adding to the strength in depth of the squad,” Smith told Sky Sports.

“But you look at that midfield now and the competition in there, I think [Nemanja] Matic sort of adds that balance to then allow Pogba and Fernandes go forward, go and do what you want, go and make things happen, which they have been doing.

“It’s great to have [Marcus] Rashford back fit, Martial back scoring, so of course they’re going to be a team there or thereabouts.

“But I just think they need to add a couple, two or three more players if they’re going to be competing with the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City.”

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What Man Utd think about Jadon Sancho transfer interest from Chelsea and Liverpool

Manchester United believe an impasse with Borussia Dortmund over Jadon Sancho could lead to Chelsea and Liverpool hijacking a transfer deal for the 20-year-old, reports say. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is determined to bring the England international to Old Trafford this summer. However, the Red Devils aren’t willing to pay more than £50million because of the coronavirus crisis.

It’s an open secret that Manchester United want to sign Sancho this summer, with interest in the England international dating back years.

Jose Mourinho wanted to bring the youngster to Old Trafford back in 2017, only for the forward to choose Borussia Dortmund instead.

Solskjaer was then eager to sign Sancho a year ago but, after the club’s failure to secure Champions League qualification, ended up swooping for Daniel James instead.

Now, United aren’t willing to pay more than £50m for their top transfer target this summer.

Ed Woodward previously warned fans it wouldn’t be business as usual at the Theatre of Dreams and United don’t want to pay over the odds for Sancho at a time where so many people are struggling across the world.

Chelsea and Liverpool could now swoop for Sancho, with Frank Lampard and Jurgen Klopp both admirers of the Dortmund star.

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And Sky Sports say United believe an impasse in negotiations could open the door for their Premier League rivals to swoop.

Chelsea boss Lampard has already seen his side have a flying start to the transfer window, signing both Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner.

But the Blues would also relish the chance to sign Sancho, who grew up supporting the west London giants as a child.

Liverpool are the most-attractive team in the land again after winning the Premier League title under Klopp’s guidance.

The German has mischievously admitted in the past that he’s a fan of Sancho’s but insisted he would be ‘surprised’ should the Dortmund forward join at the end of the season.

Yet it appears United are aware of their interest and are worried that their Premier League rivals, as well as Real Madrid and Barcelona, could swoop.

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Meanwhile, former United striker Louis Saha recently opened up on Sancho.

And he urged his old side to get a deal for the Dortmund star done, saying: “He is a player that is uncatchable, he’s clever, quick, very precise. He’s got the legs, the stamina, the quality.

“He’s very creative for that type of player. When you have all those things, like I said about speed and creativity, but precise as well.

“So imagine how deadly these things are. You can’t stop the guy and at the same time he is very precise because he knows how to stop when passing the ball.

“It’s really hard because players, for example Anthony (Martial) and (Marcus) Rashford, it can be hard for them because most of the time they’re going so quick so it’s hard to deliver the good pass like Juan Mata would do.

“Sancho has got that ability to address the right passes, the right weight of the pass because of his intelligence.”

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Solskjaer was asked if he’d be signing any players from Dortmund before United’s recent FA Cup victory over Norwich City at Carrow Road.

And the Norwegian laughed it off, saying: “I’m good at math, but I can’t answer that question. There are many good footballers on many teams.”

On recruitment, he added: “If something is in front of us screaming that it’s sensible, both from a sporting and a financial perspective — I know we’re going to try, but you can’t make any promises.

“We’ve [him & the owners] had a good dialogue the entire time, and we’ve had a plan for it since I signed in March [2019].

“The three months of lockdown and for how long we’ll have to play in front of empty stands, if we’ll play in the Champions League next season. There are many things like that which will be factors in terms of what we can do when the season is over.”

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Man Utd may have new Jack Grealish transfer plan after Norwich FA Cup win

Up to now, the common consensus has been that Manchester United will be signing Jack Grealish as a replacement for Paul Pogba. However, the France international is looking increasingly likely to stay at Old Trafford – with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisting the Real Madrid and Juventus target won’t be going anywhere. And now, after United’s 2-1 FA Cup win over Norwich, they could end up signing Grealish as a replacement for Jesse Lingard instead.

Manchester United remain keen on signing Grealish.

Express Sport understands the Red Devils will go after the Aston Villa star with everything they have, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believing he can propel them back to the top of the English game.

Up to this point it’s been Pogba who has been tipped to be the fall guy.

The United star publicly expressed a desire to leave Old Trafford last year. He wanted a move to Real Madrid and opportunity to play under childhood hero Zinedine Zidane at the Bernabeu.

In the end, that didn’t happen. Pogba stayed and speculation over his future has continued to rumble on in the time since.

Except now, an extended stay is looking increasingly likely.

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Real won’t be breaking the bank for him – or anybody – this summer. Instead, they’re saving their pennies until 2021 when pursuits of Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland should be launched.

Juventus also can’t afford the 2018 World Cup winner. Interest from Turin still exists but, following the coronavirus crisis, a deal is impossible.

But while Pogba staying at United looks set to happen, the club still want to bring in Grealish.

And that could now be at the expense of Lingard, who struggled as the club narrowly battled their way to a 2-1 victory over Norwich City on Saturday afternoon.

Throughout lockdown, nobody worked harder than the England international. Determined to prove a point, he put in the hard graft to show he’s got what it takes.

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He topped fitness charts collected from StatSport, who gathered information on players throughout that time.

The playmaker was top of the high-speed running category with a result of 13,341. The test clocks total distance covered at a speed of 5.5m a second or above.

Lingard also reportedly topped an intensity chart, which works out how hard the body is working.

And the 27-year-old also recorded one of the fast times for speed overall, clocking up 35.78km/h and narrowly missing out on the gold medal to Daniel James.

But on the pitch against Norwich he was nothing short of woeful.

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The Canaries were easily able to nullify the threat of the England international, with Lingard unable to break down their defence.

And it’s now looking increasingly likely he’ll be sold, with Solskjaer running out of patience with the playmaker.

That could be the key to getting Grealish. It would free up a space in the squad.

And the Aston Villa star would easily be an upgrade having taken the Premier League by storm since helping his side reach the top flight again.

Before it was Pogba, now it looks like Lingard. And United would be all the more stronger if that remains the case. 

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What Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer privately thinks about Alexis Sanchez finances

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to sell Alexis Sanchez but thinks finding a buyer for the Chilean will be difficult, reports say. The 31-year-old is spending the season on loan at Inter Milan. But he’s struggled at the San Siro, only finding the net once since his summer arrival.

Manchester United thought they were onto a winner when they signed Sanchez from Arsenal in January 2018 in a direct swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

But while the Chile international had flourished at Arsenal, the forward’s performances at Old Trafford prior to his loan exit left much to be desired.

Sanchez scored just five goals for United in 18 months, all while earning an eyewatering salary close to £400,000—a-week.

Now, The Mirror say United want to get rid of the 31-year-old as they look to raise funds for a summer swoop for Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho.

Yet Solskjaer reportedly thinks that finding a buyer for Sanchez will be tricky given the huge salary he currently pockets at Old Trafford.

Earlier in the season, Solskjaer suggested he’d give the forward a second chance.

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But it appears there’s no place for Sanchez at Old Trafford with United currently excelling without the former Barcelona star in their ranks.

Throughout his time at United he was often played on the left wing.

But that area now belongs to Marcus Rashford, with the England international finding the net 19 times across all competitions from that position this season.

Sanchez was used as a striker during his final year at Arsenal, scoring an impressive 30 goals from 51 matches during his final, fully campaign in the capital.

But United are content with Anthony Martial leading the line at present. The France international, like Rashford, also has 19 goals.

Should Sanchez head back to Old Trafford, he’d likely have to make do with a place on the bench.

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But United would still rather cut him loose altogether, particularly with transfer deals for Sancho and Jack Grealish lined up.

Meanwhile, speaking recently, Real Valladolid owner Ronaldo instead the La Liga side would ‘open their doors’ for Sanchez.

Speaking on a Zoom call, he said: “Alexis Sanchez has succeeded wherever he’s gone. He has a lot of quality.

“If he doesn’t succeed at Inter, Valladolid will open their doors to him.”

Former United star Paul Ince recently expressed a belief that Sanchez made the wrong choice moving to the Red Devils, saying: “Going to United was a mistake.

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“I bet Alexis wishes he’d gone to City, like he was supposed to.

“United was never ever the right move for him – the team wasn’t settled and their style of play wasn’t conducive to him.

“And he was clearly desperate to make an impact.

“Look at the way Bruno Fernandes has hit the ground running at Old Trafford, that’s what Sanchez wanted and was expected to do.

“But he didn’t get a lot of game time and he was used out of position, so when he did play he started to come deeper and deeper to get on the ball to try and influence the game and that wasn’t his game.”

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