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Priority targets and Ronaldo – the issues Manchester United have to address before the transfer window closes

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Discard the dead wood

United have not negotiated a significant sale all summer (Andreas Pereira spent the last two years on loan in Italy and Brazil). Figures at the club expect more activity with outgoings as deadline day looms and Alex Telles is expected to join Sevilla on a season-long loan.
That United haven’t sold the redundant Telles and Liverpool can bank £17million for fellow full-back Neco Williams highlights the yawning chasm between England’s two biggest clubs and how they operate. Nobody would have guessed Liverpool had changed sporting directors prior to the summer and their major business was concluded before July.

Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Axel Tuanzebe, Brandon Williams, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Tahith Chong are all available for transfer. There has not been anywhere near enough noise around any of them even though it was established months ago all were deemed surplus.

Jones has started two games in two-and-a-half years and has wilfully missed the entirety of pre-season to follow a curated training programme as he manages his knee injury. That is no good to United and Jones is sixth-choice centre-back – at best. If he is serious about prolonging his career then he will accept a hit to his wages and play elsewhere.
The United squad against Brighton could read: De Gea, Heaton, Dalot, Maguire, Lindelof, Malacia, Varane, Martinez, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, Van de Beek, Fernandes, Eriksen, Rashford, Sancho, Martial, Garnacho, Elanga, Ronaldo. That does not scream top four, never mind squad rebuild after the club’s worst season in decades.
United’s antiquated approach of targeting players selected solely by the manager when there is a football director, a deputy football director, a head of recruitment operations and a technical chief scout on the payroll is an early red flag of Erik ten Hag’s reign.

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Enough time has been expended on Frenkie de Jong and Antony and United are not operating with alacrity to line up alternatives. John Murtough met Red Bull Salzburg striker Benjamin Sesko’s agent more than two weeks ago.

If United secure Sesko, nobody could parade him as a priority target. He is 19 and was on loan at FC Liefering last year.

United sources acknowledge they are “light” in attack. Ie. they lack proven options in reserve. Elanga, 20, has not scored since February and Garnacho only turned 18 in July. The alternatives are Tahith Chong, Facundo Pellistri and Amad. Only Chong has not played for United in two years, Pellistri has not made his official debut and Amad has started twice in the Premier League.
Ronaldo: preserve the status quo?

As long as the transfer window is open it is in Ronaldo’s interests to appear coveted. Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Sporting Lisbon – four Champions League clubs – have all been linked but there has been nothing tangible.

No sportsperson has a reach as powerful as Ronaldo’s and he is making power plays through social media, whether it is teasing United supporters of his return by donning their training shorts or confirming his playing return before Ten Hag.

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Ronaldo will not loom over the United manager as he did last season. Ten Hag is a more authoritative figure than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and responded concisely to a question about Ronaldo’s early departure from Old Trafford while United were still playing Rayo Vallecano.

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United cannot give away the game’s greatest goalscorer if there is not an acceptable financial package and he is their most dependable goalscorer. Preserving the status quo, even if it means waking up to back page splashes about Ronaldo, is the sensible strategy.
Ronaldo is likely to be on the bench on Sunday unless there is an injury or illness in attack
Youngsters on loan?

The next four weeks are particularly pivotal for a number of fringe players at United. With one game per week and no opportunities in cup competitions until September, some will get itchy feet and request loan moves and some will sit tight.

As it stands, James Garner is well placed to get fulfilling playing time as one of United’s four central midfielders (if Donny van de Beek is to be included). Should United recruit a midfielder, then that could signal a shift and Garner has already outlined his intention to seek a loan move if he senses he will not get sufficient game-time.

Pellistri and Amad are peripheral forwards and Pellistri needs to remain current if he is to secure a place in Uruguay’s World Cup squad. Charlie Savage and Zidane Iqbal impressed on tour and do not have long to serve in the Under-23s.
United have four games before the window closes and Ten Hag prioritised continuity with his selections in pre-season. The expected line-up against Brighton is the same that started against Atletico Madrid in Oslo, bar Jadon Sancho for Anthony Elanga.

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Sancho, Fernandes, Fred, Dalot, Maguire and De Gea’s places seem assured. A fit and firing Ronaldo ousts one of Martial and Rashford, Christian Eriksen would be the popular pick in midfield while Malacia is arguably level pegging with Shaw at left-back.

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EPL: Bacary Sagna predicts scorelines for Man City vs Utd, Arsenal vs Tottenham fixtures

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Former Arsenal defender, Bacary Sagna, has predicted the scoreline for Manchester City’s Premier League clash against Manchester United.

Sagna also predicted the outcome of Arsenal’s Premier League tie against Tottenham Hotspur.

Man City will host Man United in a Premier League derby at Etihad on Sunday, while Arsenal will take on Tottenham in a London derby at Emirates on Saturday afternoon.

Providing his predictions, Sagna said Man City would beat Man United by three goals to nil, while Arsenal will defeat Tottenham 2-0.

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“I can’t see anyone other than City winning this match. I think City will win 3-0,” Sagna told Lord Ping.

He added, “Arsenal will win. Arsenal 2-0.”

“Listen, make no mistake, this will be a tough game for Arsenal. Tottenham has quality players, dangerous players. Son [Heung-min] has come into a bit of form. [Harry] Kane, we all know what he can do.”

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Volleyball: Offa, Customs win Premier League

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Offa Volleyball Club (male) and the Nigeria Customs Service (female) have emerged the champions of the 2022 Nigeria Volleyball Premier League competition.

In the men’s final match at the indoor hall of the Ondo State Sports Complex, Akure, Offa defeated Nigeria Correctional Service 3-2 (25-16, 23-25, 25-17, 17-25, 15-11), while in the women’s category, Customs emerged champions, beating Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps 3-0 (25-23, 27-25, 25-21) on the final day of the league.

Offa coach, Suleiman Ajeigbe, expressed delight over the victory, saying the trophy would be going to Offa community for the first time.

Ajeigbe also commended his players for properly executing their game plan and playing to instruction.

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He said, “I feel so proud, I feel so excited and I give all glory to God almighty. It has been a very challenging one, but to the glory of God. In the history of the Nigeria Volleyball Premier League, Offa, a local government in Kwara State will be lifting the trophy, this is historical, this has never happened before.

“Offa Volleyball Club came into being to help the youths in my community. I started the club to ensure that every member of my team is Kwara-born, majority of them are born in Offa. It is to the glory of God that I was able to start it, most of my players are playing outside the country now. I started the club in 2010, so it’s been a long time actually.”

Customs coach, Sunny Akapson, said his side’s victory was as a result of hard work, determination and dedication.

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EPL: Glen Johnson predicts result of Arsenal vs Tottenham derby clash

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Former Chelsea star, Glenn Johnson has provided his prediction for Saturday’s North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham.

Mikel Arteta’s side will receive Antonio Conte’s Spurs at the Emirates on Saturday.

The Gunners would be leapfrogged by Tottenham at the top of the Premier League table if they hand Arteta’s side their second defeat of the season.

Arsenal has won six out of seven of their opening games, losing once to Manchester United.

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Spurs are unbeaten and just a point behind them in third, with Tottenham able to leapfrog their rivals with a victory.

Johnson told SafeBettingSites: “It’s going to be a tough one to call, to be honest.

“Tottenham looks great, Arsenal looks great. Finally, we’ve got two good teams going into the north London derby!.

‘This is their first big test, for both teams. [I’m going] 2-1 to Arsenal.’

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