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Speaking Of Spanish Goalies, Do You Remember Ricardo?

Obviously at the moment, there is a lot of talk and speculation surrounding our newest goalkeeper at the moment – David De Gea – and whether or not he will be good enough to succeed in England long-term.

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Obviously at the moment, there is a lot of talk and speculation surrounding our newest goalkeeper at the moment – David De Gea – and whether or not he will be good enough to succeed in England long-term.

Of course much of the speculation surrounding David is just pure nonsense. He’s an incredibly young keeper who is only going to get better and is still probably got some growing (physically and mentally) to do before he reaches his full potential. After all even with his season and a half of experience in La Liga, it will take him time to adapt to the Premier League as all players have to do when they play in England for the first time.

The one advantage our new keeper has is that he has the class and potential to become our keeper for many years to come, which can’t be said for our previous Spanish goalkeeper who we signed who was nothing more than a stop-gap.

With injuries nibbling away at Fabien Barthez at the start of the 2002/03 season and with only Roy Carroll available, Sir Alex paid £1.5million to La Liga side Real Valladolid to bring in Ricardo Lopez to the club as back-up.  

There wasn’t much known about Ricardo other than he’d been a steady goalkeeper in Spain’s top-flight and that he had been involved in the Spanish squad in the last 18 months prior to his signing. In fact a couple of days before the deal was announced he had earned his second Spanish cap by coming on for Iker Casillas in a Ferenc Puskas’ testimonial match in Budapest.

Ricardo didn’t have long to wait to make his Manchester United debut as it came against Israeli outfit Maccabi Haifa at home in the Champions League first Group Stage. Sir Alex brought him on for Barthez with around 20 minutes to go.

It was a nice moment for Ricardo who unfortunately couldn’t keep his goal intact conceding a goal four minutes from time, in the game that most United fans remember as the one where Diego Forlan (finally) broke his goal-scoring duck.

Ricardo ended up starting United’s penultimate game of the first Group Stage away in Cyprus against Maccabi in a 3-0 defeat as part of a make-shift United team. Whilst there was little he could have done for the Israeli teams first and second goals, he was at fault for their third when he hauled down a forward though on goal inside the area, which allowed future Portsmouth and Everton forward Yaububu the chance to slot home from the spot.

In his next appearance at home to Bayer Leverkusen in the final group game for both sides, the Spainard gave away another penalty. This time around he failed future-Red Devil Dimitar Berbatov inside the area when the Bulgarian was through on goal inside the first 15 mins of the game.

He was fortunate not to have been sent off and only got booked. Even luckier for United, Czech midfielder Jan Simerk blazed the spot-kick high and handsome over the bar. It was a moment though that must have lingered with Sir Alex and we did not see Ricardo again until early Spring when the Spaniard played in a 2-0 defeat away to Deportivo as a part of a weakened team.

With Barthez fitness being an issues, it was no surprise when in the title-run in of 2003 that Ricardo made his Premier League debut. Coming on against Blackburn Rovers at home for the Frenchman at half-time with United leading 2-1 within 2 minutes the Spainard had gone from Zero to Hero in what must rank as one of the most action-packed introductions ever for a player on debut at Old Trafford.

Amazingly after misjudging a Rio Ferdinand header into his path, Ricardo dithered and clumsily brought down former Old Trafford favourite Andy Cole inside the area. It looked a blatant sending-off but somehow referee Andy D’Urso not only failed to hand out a red-card, he failed to even book Ricardo who brilliantly kept out David Dunne’s resulting penalty much to the relief of the United fans.

It was a big moment in the 2003 title race and had United gone onto lose or even draw the match, it could have indeed handed Arsenal the advantage in the title race and Arsene Wenger’s side would have probably gone to claim a double that season. Thankfully for us Ricardo’s save kept our lead in the game intact and we would go onto add another to win the game 3-1 and keep our momentum going.

In the summer with the arrival of Tim Howard, Ricardo unsurprisingly was sent out on loan back to Spain for the following season. He did well for Racing Satander and returned to Old Trafford the following summer hoping to challenge Howard and Carroll to be our new first choice goalkeeper for the 2004/05 season.

Frustratingly for him, he never got close to being selected all season and was given a free transfer in the summer. He joined Osasuna back in La Liga and has enjoyed being the Pamplona’s club no.1 goalkeeper ever since.

In conclusion, He came, He didn’t conquer. He gave away 3 penalties of which in giving them away he should have been off twice and had 80% of his appearances for the club in the Champions League. Ricardo whilst not being around for long certainly had a short but eventful United career.

By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87

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Man Utd set to welcome on-loan star in the summer

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Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez to return to Manchester United in the summer

Alexis Sanchez will return to Old Trafford in the summer, according to Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer. (h/t BBC)

Signed from Arsenal in 2018, Sanchez has struggled to replicate his form. The Chilean has made 38 appearances for United, scoring three goals and six assists.

This accounts for a goal contribution of 0.23 per game for United. The figure pales significantly from the 0.72 per game he achieved at Arsenal.

Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez has struggled in his time at Old Trafford

The Chilean’s loan at Inter Milan hasn’t gone according to plan either, playing just 214 minutes due to injury.

The United manager stated the difficulties of signing players in the January transfer window and backed Sanchez to prove his critics wrong if given a second chance.

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United are still paying half of Sanchez’s salary while the player is on loan at Inter (h/t BBC).

The Chilean’s transfer has so far proven to be a disaster. However, if Solksjaer is to be believed, Sanchez could still have the last laugh.

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Man United face PL battle to sign 28-year-old Serie A star

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Matias Vecino

Everton to rival Man United for midfielder Matias Vecino

Manchester United face competition from Premier League rivals Everton for the signature of Inter Milan midfielder Matias Vecino, according to Gazella Dello Sport (h/t Mirror).

United are in the market for midfielders, with Paul Pogba and Scott Mctominay out injured. Inter have already rejected a loan offer from the Red Devils for the player.

According to Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Mirror), Everton have now made a move to sign the player. Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti is said to be a fan of the 28-year-old having managed against him during his time at Napoli.

Matias Vecino
Matias Vecino has fallen down the pecking order at Inter Milan

The midfielder has fallen down the pecking order at Inter with Antonio Conte preferring to use Nicolo Barella, Marcelo Brozovic and Borja Valero when fit. Stefano Sensi’s good form has also seen Vecino go out of favour.

Danish Superstar Christian Eriksen is set to join the Italian giants in the coming weeks. This could further limit Vecino’s chances and he would be better off moving elsewhere.

Vecino has two goals and two assists for Inter in 17 appearances this season. (h/t Whoscored)

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Conte, however, is reluctant to let the midfielder go in this window. Inter are currently three points behind defending champions Juventus as they try to win their first Scudetto in 10 years.

The Inter manager is keen to maintain a strong squad as the season nears its business end.

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Man United keen on signing 2 players on loan to replace Marcus Rashford

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Odion Ighalo

Manchester United keen to loan Odion Ighalo and Islam Slimani

Manchester United are keen on signing Odion Ighalo and Islam Slimani on loan to provide cover for the injured Marcus Rashford. (h/t Sky Sports)

Ighalo plays for Shanghai Shenhua in the Chinese Super League while Slimani is currently on loan at Monaco from Leicester City.

Both Ighalo and Slimani have the experience of playing in the Premier League, having done so on 55 and 39 occasions respectively.

Ismael Slimani Manchester United
Slimani has impressed at Monaco

Both players have done well for their current clubs so far. Ighalo has scored 10 goals in 19 appearances for Shanghai whereas Slimani has registered 7 goals and 7 assists in 14 appearances for Monaco.

Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa are also interested in Slimani (h/t Daily Star).

Ighalo has a better record out of the two in the Premier League. With the Chinese Super League likely to be indefinitely suspended due to the coronavirus epidemic gripping the nation, it remains to be seen if the player will be allowed to travel.

Low-key but effective?

The injury to Marcus Rashford has left United without a reliable striker upfront. United have played both Liverpool and Burnley since the striker’s injury and have failed to hit the net in both games.

Given the nature of the January transfer window, it makes sense for the club to pursue a loan deal for an established forward until the summer.

Ighalo and Slimani are in their 30s but both players are physically imposing and are capable of playing as a target man upfront.

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United are currently 5th in the table with 14 games left to go. We face Chelsea in the league in February, which will give us a chance to close the gap on a top-four spot.

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Transfer blow for Man United as £13m difference could stop the deal for Portugese star

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Bruno Fernandes

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.

Bruno Fernandes

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.

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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.

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