As another Premier League season draws ever so closer and with our title rivals improving their squad, the excitement now is really setting in amongst not just United fans but fans of the beautiful game in general.
Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal all seem destined to dominate the Top 4 again this season. However there are loudening murmurs coming from Anfield that Liverpool may yet sneak in after their rebuilding which has been made since Kenny Dalglish’s return.
Just like United, City and Liverpool have both spent big this off-season and the expectations really are high for them. But despite that, no United fan should be fearful as we begin the defence of our crown.
In a series of articles where I’ll look at the Premier League title contenders, first up let’s have a look at last season’s runners up assessing whether they have enough in them to win the league?
The articles looking at City, Arsenal and Liverpool will follow later today.
It would be fair to say that after last season changes were expected at Stamford Bridge for the coming season. After all under Carlo Ancelotti last season, Chelsea had a major mid-season blip which for a short period of time saw them struggling to hang onto 4th place in the league.
Being dumped out of the FA Cup by Everton didn’t help matters but to their credit Chelsea (with abit of luck) surged on and cut United’s lead at the top of the table to 3 points from 12 to set up a title-showdown at Old Trafford in May. As we thankfully know United went onto win the game convincingly 2-1 which affectivity won us the league.
That title-showdown defeat only added to speculation that Ancelotti was going to get the chop by Roman Ambramovich who after seeing Chelsea outclassed by us in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in April, had seemingly had enough of the Italian who had only won the double the season before.
Change came quickly as seconds after the season ended Ancelotti had been shipped out, like so many mangers before him and over the coming weeks Andre Villas-Boas (which is a cracking name to pronounce) was brought into bring back the glory-days of ‘you know who’ Jose Mourinho.
Fresh blood is exactly what Chelsea need but Villas-Boas despite being linked with a whole bunch of players from Porto and Luka Modric has yet to bring in anyone. Well tell a lie, he has signed a young Belgian goalie in Thibaut Courtois, but he’s been shipped out on loan to David De Gea’s old side Atletico Madrid.
With Michael Essien out for large parts of the coming season and no replacement currenly linked up, it must be abit of a worry at the moment for Chelsea fans. After all they have an aging squad and Fernando Torres (despite two goals in pre-season) is still uncertain to produce despite his undoubted talent.
Frank Lampard is no longer able to produce his classic surging runs into the box time and time again and Mikel (who signed for us at one stage, least not we forget) is still failing to impress.
Didier Drogba too his credit at 33 years old, is still a key-man for Chelsea this season and at times is an unstoppable force. From what I have seen there is no reason to be overly fearful of Roman’s men, well aside from when Drogba’s on tip-top form.
The pressure is on for Villas-Boas who has declared he will win the Champions League for Chelsea. That of course is exactly what Ambramovich wants more than anything but for this coming season I think it may be a step too early to replicate the kind of success that ‘The Special One’ achieved.
Transfer blow for Man United as £13m difference could stop the deal for Portugese star
Bruno Fernandes transfer to Manchester United at the risk of collapse
The transfer of Portuguese star Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon is at the risk of collapse with Sporting Lisbon holding out for £55million, according to Portuguese station TVI24 (h/t Metro).
The 25-year-old midfielder has informed the Portuguese club of his wish to move to Old Trafford and has already agreed on personal terms with United. Sporting are unhappy with United’s opening offer of £42m, which is £13m short of the Portuguese club’s expectation.
United’s offer contains a number of add-on clauses that can eventually take the deal to £60million. Sporting, however, deem the conditions improbable and are seeking a greater fee upfront.
Sporting are unwilling to drop their asking price as United have failed to include a player in exchange as a part of the deal.
The Portuguese side were willing to accept a lower fee had a player been included. However, neither Andreas Pereira or Marcos Rojo were willing to move to the Portuguese Primeira Liga.
Fernandes played in the 2-0 loss to arch-rivals Benfica in what could be the player’s last match for Sporting.
The Portuguese club have demanded a minimum of £55.3million as a guaranteed payment. They also expect United to include bonuses that are more achievable.
More Manchester United News
- Manchester United are interested in Wolves striker Raul Jimenez
- Ashley Young rejects one-year contract extension offer
- Barcelona willing to sell United target Samuel Umtiti
Sporting will have to pay 50% of the sell-on fee to Fernandes’ previous club Sampdoria and will look to get as much as they can from United.
Man Utd agree on contract terms with midfielder who could be signed for £51m
Manchester United have reportedly agreed on terms with Bruno Fernandes
Manchester United have reportedly agreed on terms with Portuguese star Bruno Fernandes. (h/t Sun)
The 25-year-old has played 25 times for Sporting this season and has scored 13 goals and 10 assists. (h/t Whoscored)
United were to make their first formal offer for the player. It is being reported now that the deal has already been agreed upon. (h/t Sun)
It’s claimed that Fernandes has been offered a deal nearing £100,000-a-week at United.
The signing of the Sporting skipper should provide the United midfield with numbers and an attacking impetus.
The midfielder has an £85million release clause in his contract but Old Trafford bosses have been working to drive the price down. The club were also open to offering two players to bring the price down. (h/t Sun)
Fernandes was part of the Portuguese squad that won the UEFA Nations League in 2019.
He has won 19 caps for the Portuguese national side and has scored 2 goals since making his debut in 2017.
More Manchester United News
United next play Manchester City in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semifinals at the Etihad on Wednesday.
The Red Devils trail 3-1 from the first leg as they aim to get to their first final under Ole Gunnar Solksjaer.
Man United veteran snubs extension and demands immediate transfer
Ashley Young rejects one-year contract extension offer
Veteran star Ashley Young has rejected a one-year extension on his contract at Manchester United. (h/t Sky Sports)
The 34-year-old’s contract at United expires at the end of the season and the player looks likely to leave in the summer. Inter Milan are said to be interested in securing Young’s services (h/t Sky Sports).
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is keen to keep the player at Old Trafford. Young is one of the leaders in the United dressing room and has the versatility to play in multiple positions.
Antonio Conte has been a long term admirer of Young and even tried to sign him when he was at Chelsea. Conte is ready to offer the play an 18-month contract at Inter with a considerable pay rise.
Young joined United in the summer of 2011 and has gone on to make 261 appearances for the English giants.
He took over as captain from Antonio Valencia at the beginning of this season.
More Manchester United News
Young is keen on moving to Inter immediately rather than waiting for the summer (h/t Daily Mail). He has been left angered by United’s refusal to sanction the deal in January.
United are in the midst of an injury crisis and losing Young would deal a harsh blow to whatever little chances we have this season.
Man United to enter head-to-head battle with Arsenal for this £19m-rated MLS wonder kid
United and Arsenal to fight it out for Atlanta United forward Ezequiel Barco
Manchester United and Arsenal are interested in the signature of MLS wonderkid Ezequiel Barco. (h/t Daily Star)
The 21-year-old winger, who plays for Atalanta United, has impressed since his move to the MLS from Independiente in 2018. Barco has made 59 appearances for Atalanta and has scored 9 goals and 9 assists. (h/t Whoscored)
He won the 2017 Copa Sudamericana with Independiente and scored in the second leg of the final through a penalty as the Argententians prevailed 3-2 over Flamengo.
Both Manchester United and Arsenal need midfield reinforcements in the January transfer window and Barco would be a good signing for either club.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solksjaer needs additions in the midfield with Paul Pogba and Scott Mctominay out injured. United also sold both Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera in the summer and failed to replace them. Barco can score and assist and be the creative spark that we need.
The 21-year-old has represented the Argentinian Under-20s, 9 times and has scored 2 goals. (h/t Whoscored)
Atlanta value Barco at around £19m, which would be a snip in today’s market.
With the likes of Inter Milan, Sporting Lison and AS Roma also interested in the player, United must move quickly to secure him if we want to avoid a bidding war.
More Manchester United News
- Manchester United could end up paying £70million for Sean Longstaff
- Maddison and Grealish earmarked to bring life to Man United’s midfield
- What Would Represent a Positive Season for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer From Here?
With the player’s contract running till 2022, Atalanta hold the aces in any negotiations