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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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2022 World Cup: Unwanted history for hosts Qatar against Ecuador

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Qatar on Sunday, became the first host country to be defeated in their opening game in the 92-year history of the World Cup.

Ecuador beat the Middle East country 2-0 courtesy of two first-half goals from captain Enner Valencia. Ecuador’s captain also saw a goal ruled out for offside. The result means Qatar become the first host nation ever to lose their opening game at a World Cup.

It’s obviously not the start Qatar will have wanted to make to a competition that had been plagued by controversy before a ball had even been kicked.

Supporters also made their feelings clear about the match at half-time as they abandoned the game in large numbers with the hosts already 2-0 down. Initial estimates suggest around 20,000 supporters left the game at the break.

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There were just 11 shots in this game (five for Qatar, six for Ecuador) – no World Cup match on record (since 1966) has seen fewer attempts.

The hosts return to action on Friday against Senegal.

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Victor Osimhen Bags Huge International Award And Recognition

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Nigeria and Napoli forward Victor Osimhen has received a huge international award and recognition for his relentless contribution at the international and club level.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria and Napoli forward Victor Osimhen received a huge international award from the Globe Soccer Awards. The talented player was recognized for his immense contribution to both club and country.

He was crowned the Emerging Player Of The Year 2022, which was deserved on every level as the player has continued to show his importance at the club level for Napoli by contributing towards the impressive run of the club in the new season as well as the previous season.

Although the Super Eagles of Nigeria would not be going to the World Cup 2022 in Qatar, he had been one of the stand-out players for the Eagles in their qualifiers.

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Contragulations Victor.

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2022 World Cup: I am totally, absolutely focused on Portugal- Ronaldo says amid Man Utd criticism

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In the wake of his scathing interview about Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo declares that Portugal will be his “absolute focus” during the World Cup.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, in an interview with Piers Morgan for TalkTV, which will be made public in its entirety on Wednesday, criticised United manager Erik ten Hag, Ralf Rangnick, and senior officials at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo claimed that United had “betrayed” him and that the team had not advanced since Alex Ferguson left in 2013.

Man Utd react to Ronaldo’s interview with Piers Morgan

After the interview, United reacted with a statement on Monday mentioning it and promising to respond “after the full facts have been established.”

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Prior to Portugal’s November 24 match against Ghana in Group H, the 37-year-old declared on Monday that his entire attention would be on playing for Portugal in Qatar.

“Total and absolute focus on national team work. United group, towards one objective: realise the dream of all Portuguese people!,” he posted on Instagram.

Despite missing United’s previous two games due to “illness,” he posted a photo of himself with his Portugal teammates during a training session.

Without Ronaldo, the Red Devils defeated Fulham 2-1 on Sunday, moving them up to fifth place in the Premier League, three points behind Tottenham with one game remaining.

In the Middle East, where Fernando Santos’ team will also play Uruguay and South Korea, Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo hopes to lead his nation to World Cup triumph.

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