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EPL 2021, Manchester United transfer news, Donny van de Beek, Yves Bissouma, Jude Bellingham, Declan Rice, seven players to be sold

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Manchester United are willing to sell as many as SEVEN stars in a mid-season fire sale to fund two massive transfers at the end of the current campaign.

United added three superstars before the season kicked off, landing legendary striker Cristiano Ronaldo, veteran centre-back Raphael Varane, and English rising star Jadon Sancho.

Sancho cost a whopping 85 million euros, Varane 40 million euros and Ronaldo cost €15 million plus €8m in potential add-ons – a total of 140m euros rising to €148m or $238m AUD.

Only one significant sale was made – winger Dan James to Leeds for £30 million or $48m AUD.

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United did not suffer the financial pain of Covid-19 as much as many rivals across the continent (see details at bottom), most notably Barcelona who are mired in billions of dollars of debt.

But coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now looking to cash in on a number of fringe players who have been bumped out of regular first-team action.

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According to The Sun, centre-backs Phil Jones and Eric Bailly could be sold, as well as fullbacks Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles.

But the biggest potential departures are Donny van de Beek, Jesse Lingard, and Anthony Martial.

Van de Beek was signed in August 2020 for £35 million plus £5 million in add-ons, to reinforce the United attacking midfield and reduce the reliance on Portuguese star Bruno Fernandes. It’s safe to say the 24-year-old product of the famous Ajax academy has struggled to make his mark. He made just four Premier League starts in his first season, instead coming off the bench for almost all of his 36 appearances in all competitions.

This season he was unused in United’s first three games, was a late substitute in their win over Newcastle, before finally getting his chance in the Champions League in midweek.

But he was brutally hooked at halftime after United went down to ten men against Young Boys, in what coach Solskjaer defended as a “tactical decision”. United lost 2-1.

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Legendary United midfielder Paul Ince said van de Beek was guaranteed to leave after that match. He told The United Stand there’s ‘no chance’ van de Beek will turn into a success at Old Trafford.

“Absolutely no chance!

“He’s tried to make the player happy [by playing him]. It’s always tough when you don’t play to come and make an impression on your first start. And to sub him off at halftime, what does it say to us, what does it say to the fans, what does it say to Donny? If I can’t get a full game against Young Boys, ten men or no ten men, then it’s time for me to go.

“There’s nothing Ole could say that would persuade me that my future is at Manchester United.”

Van de Beek had been desperate for a move away from United before this season, and had been in negotiations over a loan deal with Everton, but was emphatically denied by Solskjaer.

His agent Guido Albers since blasted the club, telling VL: “Today I have been trying to find a club for Donny. Everyone knows the situation. We worked very hard for it, but the club is blocking everything. There was much interest from Italy, Germany & England.”

He has missed out on selection for the Netherlands squad since the Euro 2020 competition, including the provisional 28 man squad for next month’s international fixtures against Latvia and Gibraltar.

“I called Donny van de Beek yesterday,” Netherlands coach Louis Van Gaal said last month “I told him that he needs to start playing games.”

Jesse Lingard was another player in hot demand over the English summer window, after a scintillating loan spell at West Ham in the second half of last season saw him tally nine goals and five assists in 16 matches.

Jesse Lingard has already got on the scoresheet for United this season.
Jesse Lingard has already got on the scoresheet for United this season.Source: Getty Images

West Ham wanted the 28-year-old permanently, but he was another player blocked from leaving. West Ham boss David Moyes said: “Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] made it clear to me quite early in the transfer window that he wanted to keep him.

“So I knew pretty early in the transfer window that he was staying at Manchester United.”

Lingard’s contract expires at the end of the season, raising the prospect that United will sell him mid-year rather than lose him for free if they can’t extend his deal.

But Solskjaer recently asserted he wants to keep him at Old Trafford.

“He’s got one year left on his contract and the club is talking to him and his dad. We see him as a Man United player in the future,” said Solskjaer.

“Jesse has come back into us after a great spell at West Ham he showed his qualities and got back into the England squad, scoring goals.

“We really want to see the best of him this season – we support him and we hope to keep him here with us, he’s a Red through and through.”

Leicester are also interested in Lingard should star midfielder and long-term Arsenal target James Maddison force a move.

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UNITED’S TOP TRANSFER TARGET

United’s top target is reportedly England midfielder Declan Rice, according to The Independent. The 22-year-old No. 6 has built a reputation at West Ham as a superb defensive midfielder, while his surging runs from deep would certainly add value to United’s play in transition.

United had been linked to Rice in the last window, but his £100 million price tag was out of reach even before Ronaldo signed.

Paul Pogba’s future at the club is still clouded – his contract is set to expire at the end of the season, and Real Madrid, Juventus and Barcelona are all keen to pick him up for free.

Rice is viewed as the perfect man to play alongside the French maestro in a midfield duo, offering protection for the defence in what is undoubtedly an offensively-stacked squad.

And should Pogba leave, getting his wages off United’s books would free up plenty of salary space for the gifted youngster.

Another name strongly linked to United – and in demand among most of the Premier League giants – is Brighton’s Yves Bissouma. He was expected to receive offers in before this season, which he has started in brilliant fashion. But per The Independent, United view him as more of a box-to-box midfielder than a genuine No. 6.

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HEY JUDE: UNITED LEAD RACE FOR YOUNG GUN

Another superstar rising talent that has been linked with United for some time is 18-year-old Jude Bellingham.

Bellingham, who has already proven himself at the international level with England (eight caps), reportedly turned down a deadline-day bid from United a year ago to leave Birmingham City for Borussia Dortmund.

The price was £25 million – making him the most expensive 17-year-old in history.

He enjoyed a sensational year in Germany, making 46 appearances, and has taken on a key role in supplying goals for star striker Erling Haaland.

Liverpool are another Premier League heavyweight keen on the youngster, but with four years left on his contract and no release clause, he won’t come cheap.

Either way, after touring United’s facilities last year and meeting legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson and current manager Solskjaer, The Sun reports they lead the race for his signature.

A source told The Sun: “United may have lost out last year when he moved to Germany, but the ground work they put in has made a lasting impression on Jude and his family.

“They were really impressed with the effort United made and the respect they were shown by everyone at the club.

“Meeting Sir Alex Ferguson was the icing on the cake.

“Ultimately as Jude has made clear since, he decided to move to the club where he could see he would play games straight away and gain top level experience week in, week out.

“United couldn’t offer that, but his memories from that day and the interactions he had with the club are extremely fond ones. United did everything right so maybe in the future that will work in their favour.”

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UNITED’S FINANCIAL SITUATION

Annual financial figures showed total revenue for the year to June 30 — related to a full season played during the global health crisis — was down 2.9 per cent to £494.1 million ($680 million), with matchday revenue plummeting more than 90 per cent.

In their previous annual results, United’s revenue dropped sharply from £627.1 million to £509 million — figures that incorporated the early months of the pandemic.

The club reported a net loss of £92.2 million for the period — up from £23.2 million in 2020, significantly inflated by a £66.6 million tax charge.

– AFP

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Belenenses playing with nine players, Primeira Liga, covid-19 outbreak, match against Benfica, social media reaction

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Belenenses has been forced to take to the field with just nine players against Benfica as the side deals with a Covid outbreak, leading to farcical scenes and a half-time deficit of seven goals.

Already on the canvass after failing to win any of its opening eight games, Belenenses were forced to take to the field with just nine players, including two goalkeepers, in their starting eleven after 17 players and staff tested positive for Covid-19 in the lead-up to the match.

Despite the lack of players and substitutes, the Primeira Liga match was given the green light to go ahead, which left many onlookers dumbfounded.

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The spectacle was labelled (among other things) a “disgrace” and “shambles” as the undermanned side was demolished from the outset by Benfica, which was aiming to return to the top of the Primeira Liga table.

The match got off to a horrible start for Belenenses, with an own goal coming via Eduardo Kau in the first minute.

Goalkeeper Joao Monteiro was forced to start at right-back for the side as a result of the player shortage.

The side took to the field in a 5-3-0 formation.

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Benfica win farcical Primeira Liga game 7-0 as opponents start with nine players

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BENFICA won after the game was eventually called off when opponents Belenenses were reduced to seven men.

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Michael Carrick could spring big selection surprise for Man Utd's clash with Chelsea

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MICHAEL CARRICK is set to take charge of his second Manchester United game when they take on Chelsea.

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