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Adrien Rabiot: Why do Manchester United want to sign Juventus midfielder?

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Manchester United have turned their attention to Adrien Rabiot to solve their midfield problems as talks for Frenkie de Jong continue to stall. Here, Sky Sports takes a look at why they’ve opted to move for the polarising Frenchman…

The move comes from left-field after a summer-long pursuit of Barcelona midfielder De Jong, and has been met with scepticism by supporters. It was only on Friday that United manager Erik ten Hag said it was important to sign “the right player” rather than buying just anyone when quizzed about the club’s slow business this summer.

The France international has failed to make a substantial impact at Juventus since signing on a free transfer from PSG and drama seems to follow him wherever he goes. Never far behind is his mother and agent, Veronique.

Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Brighton was a wake-up call for Ten Hag, as it laid bare the necessity for reinforcements in midfield. Rabiot is now being lined up to remedy those problems.

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A broad agreement for the transfer of Rabiot has been reached with Juventus, and United still believe there is a deal to be done for De Jong. The possibility of signing both has not been ruled out, with central midfield identified as a priority area for reinforcement this summer.

Rabiot established himself in Paris Saint-Germain’s first-team after coming through the academy and won five Ligue 1 titles in seven seasons. The midfielder made 227 appearances for PSG, scoring 24 goals.

He left in controversial circumstances in 2019 after being frozen out by the club for failing to agree a new contract. PSG felt they had been misled about his intentions, while his mother claimed he was leaving to “buy his freedom”.

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Rabiot was highly sought after when it became clear he would be on the move, with Bayern Munich and Barcelona among those interested, before he eventually signed for Juventus.

He’s failed to set Serie A alight since arriving in Turin and, after four years, the Italian side are willing to let Rabiot go as he approaches the final year of his contract.

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Rabiot was picked to be part of France’s stand-by squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but removed himself as he refused to be a back-up and watched on as his teammates lifted the trophy.

Didier Deschamps brought him back into the fold for Euro 2020, and Rabiot started three of the four matches they played before being knocked out by Switzerland on penalties in the last 16

“You look at some of the numbers he’s produced and wonder if he’s that impressive,” European football expert Kevin Hatchard told Sky Sports News.

“But when you think of the coaches he’s played under and the teams he’s played for – regular for PSG, Juventus and he’s played under Didier Deschamps with France – and you feel there must be something tangible there that coaches see.”

Where would Rabiot fit in at Man Utd?

Ten Hag has tended to line up with two midfielders behind Bruno Fernandes since arriving at United. One in a deeper role, which is the position the former Ajax coach so desperately wants to fill with De Jong, and another operating slightly further up the pitch as a box-to-box midfielder

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Fred was used in the deeper role against Brighton, while Scott McTominay pressed higher up the pitch. Their inability to progress the ball from deep made for frustrating viewing and gave Brighton plenty of encouragement to press.

Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane said United’s midfielders lacked “decision-making” and “football intelligence” as he tore into McFred. “They are not good enough,” Keane told Sky Sports. “They won’t get Manchester United back competing at the top. We see it week in, week out. They’re not up to it.”

Rabiot has played both of these roles with Juventus, PSG and France, but struggled to nail down his best position. The 27-year-old has also spent time playing on the left of a narrow midfield four or as a wing-back.

Hatchard is unsure where Rabiot would fit into Ten Hag’s system, but believes the midfielder is an improvement on the options United already have.

“Technically, he’s probably better than someone like Fred or Scott McTominay,” Hatchard told Sky Sports News. “Maybe he’ll be able to progress the ball a bit better. He plays with intensity as is a bit of a character and somebody who can break up play.

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“He can do a bit of everything and it’ll be interesting to see how Erik ten Hag uses him. Does he want him in the role that McTominay played in against Brighton, pressing the play?”

What does Rabiot bring?

First and foremost, Rabiot’s arrival would address the lack of deeper midfield options at Ten Hag’s disposal in a summer which has seen Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic leave on free transfers.

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His defensive stats show he would bring stability in transition. Opponents dribbled past Rabiot only 0.8 times per 90 minutes last season – fewer than any of United’s other midfielders.

Rabiot’s stats from last season show he also competes well in terms of tackling and his success-rate in duels.

But he fails to top any of the key passing metrics when compared to United’s current options, which raises concerns about how much of an impact he could have on progressing the ball from deep.

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“You look at it, and think, ‘What’s the plan here? What are they trying to achieve in the long-term,” said Hatchard. “Rabiot is a good player and has qualities, but I’m not entirely convinced it’s a sure-fire success.

“The intensity Adrien Rabiot plays with could rub off on other players [in a bad way].

“What we definitely know is that they need quality and bodies in midfield, as they don’t have it at the moment.

“If this is looked at as an exchange of Paul Pogba going one way and Rabiot heading the other, I would say Juventus have got the better deal.”

 

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Voodoo new to me – Waldrum

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In the aftermath of the drama that ensued between Nigeria and Cameroon during the penultimate qualifying fixture for the 2024 Olympic games, Super Falcons coach, Randy Waldrum, says voodoo is strange to him.

There was drama at the start of the second half inside the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja on Monday after a Cameroonian player allegedly attempted to plant ‘voodoo’ inside the Falcons goal post.

Falcons’ goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie, was in fine form as she stopped every shot in her direction to prevent the Indomitable Lionesses from scoring.

However, in the closing minutes of the game, Cameroon sent Annie Enganemben on as they were about to launch a free kick into the Nigerian box with claims that the player was sent on to touch the net in a bid to give Cameroon a saving grace as they were running out of options, and had to resort to diabolical means.

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In a video, the substitute, alongside another striker, were seen trying to run towards the Nigerian goal in an attempt to touch the net, but Asisat Oshoala took it upon herself to prevent that from happening. The drama led to the player being sent off after she hit Nnadozie in the process.

When asked by our reporter about the attempt by the Cameroonians to use voodoo during the game, Waldrum said, “Yes it is true.”

“I have never seen it before but our players wouldn’t let them in our goal to use it.”

The only goal of the two-legged tie came in the early minutes of the first half, with Esther Okoronkwo tapping home from close range after Jennifer Echegini’s clever footwork on the edge of the box.

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Liverpool Win Carabao Cup Title With Late Heroics Thrilling Against Chelsea

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In a thrilling Carabao Cup final clash at Wembley Stadium, Liverpool emerged victorious with late heroics against Chelsea, clinching the coveted title in dramatic fashiion.

The match, highly anticipated by football fans worldwide, showcased the fierce competition between two Premier League giants. Jurgen Klopp’s youthful Liverpool side faced off against Thomas Tuchel’s formidable Chelsea team in a showdown that promised excitement and tension.

Throughout the game, both teams demonstrated their skill and determination, creating numerous scoring opportunities and thrilling moments for the spectators. However, as the clock ticked down towards the end of regular time, the score remained deadlocked in a tense stalemate.

As the match entered extra time, the intensity on the field only intensified, with each side pushing for a decisive breakthrough. It was Liverpool’s star defender, Virgil van Dijk, who ultimately proved to be the hero of the night. In a heart-stopping moment, van Dijk rose above the Chelsea defense to head home a crucial goal deep into extra time.

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The Wembley Stadium erupted with cheers from Liverpool fans as van Dijk’s late header secured the victory and clinched the Carabao Cup title for Klopp’s side. It was a moment of pure jubilation for the Liverpool players, staff, and supporters, marking a memorable triumph in their footballing journey.

The match’s thrilling conclusion highlighted the unpredictable nature of football and the exhilarating drama that unfolds on the grand stage. Liverpool’s triumph with late heroics against Chelsea will be remembered as a testament to their resilience, determination, and unwavering spirit in pursuit of success.

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Boniface named among Bundesliga’s most skilful stars

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Bayer Leverkusen star Victor Boniface has secured a nomination among the most skilful players in the ongoing 2023/24 Bundesliga campaign so far.

After his move from Union SG last July, the Super Eagles striker wasted no time making an impact under the guidance of manager Xabi Alonso.

Boniface’s initial burst in Germany was nothing short of impressive, netting ten goals in 16 league matches.

However, his promising run hit an abrupt halt due to a groin injury, forcing him to miss the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations held in Ivory Coast.

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Despite his current injury setback, the striker’s noteworthy performances have not gone unnoticed.

The spotlight now shines on a particular display of individual brilliance during Leverkusen’s Bundesliga clash against RB Leipzig at the Bay Arena in August 2023.

In that game, Boniface executed a cunning feint, deceiving his marker into anticipating a right-footed shot, only to cleverly pass the ball with his left foot. Although he didn’t find the net, Leverkusen emerged victorious with a 3-2 scoreline.

Boniface shares the skills spotlight with four other notable players: Andrej Kramaric, Jadon Sancho, Felix Nmecha, and Xavi Simons.

To participate in the voting process, fans can visit the Bundesliga’s official website and select their choice among the nominated players.

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At the time of this report, Jadon Sancho leads the polls with an impressive 75% of the votes. Xavi Simons secures the second position with 17%, while Boniface currently holds 5%. Hoffenheim’s Kramaric and Dortmund’s Nmecha trail behind with 1% and 2% of the votes, respectively.

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