Manchester United are “one world-class winger” short of being “a complete squad”, in the eyes of Gary Neville.
The Red Devils have invested well over £100 million on fresh faces this summer, with Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic drafted in at Old Trafford.
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It could be that there is further movement to come, with Jose Mourinho having called for four additions before the latest transfer window opened.
Inter forward Ivan Perisic continues to be heavily linked with a move to England, despite a desire on the part of his current club to end the exit talk, and Neville would appear to consider him the final piece of the jigsaw.
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The former United defender told Sky Sports: “Is [Marcus] Rashford a wide player – not really?
“That is where United could get one world-class winger and it would be a complete squad.
“They have to challenge this year.
“Last season was not good enough and it was a big under performance from the players.”
United made a perfect start to their 2017-18 Premier League campaign on Sunday, with new boys Matic and Lukaku helping to inspire a convincing 4-0 victory over West Ham.
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The former was named Man of the Match, while the latter bagged a brace to continue his fine start to life with the Red Devils following a £75m move from Everton.
Mourinho’s side are next in action against Swansea City and have until August 31 in which to complete any late recruitment business.
The 24-year-old’s long road to the top almost ended before for it had even began and now he’s ready for the big time – if anyone will notice
Luan Guilherme de Jesus Vieira doesn’t have YouTube highlight reels packed full of rabonas, back-heels and chapeus.
He doesn’t lead Brazil’s scoring charts and nor is he the multimillion-dollar face of national or international marketing campaigns.
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And at 24-years-old, while all around him teenagers are being shipped off to Europe for eight-figure sums, he’s still in Brazil.
But Luan had a late start, not even making his professional debut until he was 21. He has grown accustomed to being overlooked.
“At 15-years-old, I took him to the Rio Preto Esporte Clube,” his former mentor, Alex Sandro Rocha Pinheiro told UOL. “For a whole year, he never played. So, after 12 months of training sessions, he went back to Futsal. From the age of 16 to 18, Luan played only futsal.”
The frustrated youngster had lost interest in the more formal version of the sport – and futsal had proved rewarding.
Having lost his father when he was just five-years-old, the Sao Paulo native was earning around £12 per game to help support a single-parent family struggling to makes ends meet on his mother’s humble salary as a maid to the more affluent.
But Pinheiro saw something. He had stopped and taken a proper look, noticing what Ronaldinho would later say made Luan “different”.
“He’s very skilful, creative and he thinks differently,” he said.
Having championed the wiry, lightweight forward since his ninth birthday, Pinheiro refused to give up.
In 2013, he convinced local club America to include the youngster in their squad for the prestigious Copa Sao Paulo youth tournament in 2013. Though it was Luan who would need convincing.
“Two days before registration closed, he told me he didn’t want anything from them and would rather go back to futsal,” revealed Pinheiro, who eventually persuaded his prodigy to give it one last shot, agreeing just hours before registration for the competition closed.
It would be the turning point. Luan lit up the competition and attracted the attention of a couple of scouts from down south, eventually rebuffing Internacional to agree a six-month deal with Gremio in Porto Alegre.
“It was like a switch had been flicked in my head. From that moment, I just went for it,” Luan recalled. “It was the chance of a lifetime.”
Finally, in an environment where onlookers took more a fleeting glance, Luan was finally given an opportunity with the first-team during the local state championships.
His emergence on the national scene arrived a year later, after former coach Luiz Felipe Scolari’s exit coincided with a dramatic change in fortunes for Gremio. Luan flourished in a more ambitious setup under Roger Machado.
Moved central from a wide attacking role, his best showings came in a false 9 position that illustrated his intelligence and supreme ability to create and exploit space.
He exploded on the national stage and in 2015 and hit 10 goals to ensure Copa Libertadores qualification. A year later, he arrived to rescue Brazil’s Olympic gold medal dream at Rio 2016.
Luan wasn’t supposed to be a star in Rio. Gabriel Barbosa, Gabriel Jesus and Neymar had formed a ‘golden trio’ in attack. But, after two hapless stalemates against South Africa and Iraq, they’d appeared as common as aluminium.
Luan arrived for the third group game, transforming Brazil’s misfiring attack as the Selecao romped to a 4-0 victory over Denmark to book their place in the quarter-finals and win back the increasingly hostile locals.
Prior to the tournament, erudite and progressive coach Rogerio Micale had worked extensively on a 4-2-4 formation which evoked memories of Brazil’s first World Cup triumph in 1958. Luan was the key.
Designed to break down defensive sides who set out only to spoil, he was introduced to float around the front three, offering better angles for the quick passing exchanges and join a previously fragmented midfield to the front line. “He is like a bridge, connecting two pieces together,” said the great Tostao.
Luan started every match from then on, playing starring roles in the quarter- and semi-finals as the Selecao claimed the one title that had always eluded them.
A star had been born, though few seemed really to notice. Neymar got the glory, and in Gabriel Jesus Brazil had found a new posterboy.
There were some rumours of interest from Barcelona but, one year on, Luan has neither started a full international at senior level nor left his native Brazil.
But last week, on a big night in the Libertadores, he finally hit global headlines, with all eyes on him as a prospective move to Spartak Moscow was put on hold amidst reported interest from Liverpool and Sampdoria.
His moment came in the second half, when he galloped forward on the counter-attack, committed the Godoy Cruz defence, paused, and played a simple, intelligent through-ball for Pedro Rocha to steer in the winner.
Scolari labelled Luan a “game-changer” – and that’s exactly what he is. Luan doesn’t win games, he changes them, enabling others to do so. He has that rare ability to make everyone else better. It took a while, but Brazil has caught on. Luan is now widely regarded as arguably the league’s best player.
Tostao went on to insist: “Luan is among the top five Brazilian players today.” And Tite is now on board, too, last week adding Luan to his Brazil squad for World Cup qualifying.
So if your club doesn’t try to sign Luan this transfer window, it’s likely because they just weren’t looking hard enough. They wouldn’t be the first.
Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool are still planning to add during the summer transfer window, with their squad lacking depth at present.
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The Reds have been relatively quiet on the recruitment front so far, with deals done for Mohamed Salah, Dominic Solanke and Andy Robertson.
With Champions League competition set to be added to their workload again this season, Klopp acknowledges that more bodies are required.
He told reporters: “We are still working on all parts.
“We are in talks and we work on all parts of the game. The squad at the moment is not too wide for a lot of games. That’s it.”
Calls for Liverpool to step up their long-standing interest in Southampton centre-half Virgil van Dijk are growing in intensity, with their defensive frailties – particularly from set-pieces – exposed once again in a 3-3 draw with Watford on Saturday.
Klopp added: “We have to defend better.
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“Of course we know it’s an important thing. I don’t feel comfortable but I know what to do.
“We got things wrong and what do I want to do to sort it? Buy a new player in that position? I am not really sure if it makes sense. We have to work on it because we did well in pre-season in this situation.”
Klopp has previously declared that he has no need for another centre-back, with the likes of Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho and Ragnar Klavan already on his books.
Former Reds favourite Jamie Carragher is not convinced that Van Dijk would be the answer either, with it his opinion that tactics, rather than personnel, are to blame for Liverpool’s struggles.
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He told Sky Sports: “It’s down to the manager and one man won’t change Liverpool’s defence – on average they concede almost 50 goals a season.
“Their set-pieces are the worst in the league. You see the same thing year in, year out. It’s not rocket science, set-pieces and counter-attacks.”
Liverpool are next in action on Tuesday when they head to Germany to take on Hoffenheim in the first leg of their Champions League play-off tie.
Thiago Silva has welcomed Paris Saint-Germain’s interest in Kylian Mbappe, believing the Monaco sensation can become an important player for the Ligue 1 giants.
After completing a world-record €222 million transfer for Neymar, PSG are now reportedly set to sign 18-year-old forward Mbappe in another lucrative deal – with a €180m fee being mooted.
Mbappe – also linked with Real Madrid and Manchester City after his 26 goals in all competitions helped Monaco to Ligue 1 glory and a Champions League semi-final berth last season – was an unused substitute in Sunday’s 4-1 rout of Dijon.
And PSG captain Silva lauded the France international’s maturity ahead of his seemingly imminent arrival.
“Mbappe, he always wants to score. He also dribbles well,” Silva told Canal Plus.
“I think for a team like Paris, who like good players. He can be an important and very interesting player.
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“From what I saw on TV, he also has a good head [he is mature].”
Mbappe sustained a knock in Monaco’s season-opening 3-2 win over Toulouse last week, and he was named among the substitutes in what head coach Leonardo Jardim described as “a club decision”.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has refused to comment on speculation linking the Red Devils to Tottenham defender Danny Rose, stressing that he had nothing to do with the full-back’s recent comments criticising Spurs’ transfer dealings.
Rose was forced to apologise on Friday for the opinions he aired in an interview with the Sunthat were critical of Spurs’ transfer dealings and his own contract situation at the north London club.
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The controversial remarks, which included Yorkshire native Rose expressing a desire to play “up north” again, have fuelled rumours that the 27-year-old is agitating for a move to Man United, but Mourinho has distanced himself from the furore.
“I should not comment because (Spurs boss) Mauricio [Pochettino] would not be happy if I comment, Mr Levy would not be happy if I comment and because I had nothing to do with that interview,” the 54-year-old told ESPN.
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“I just read it the way you did, I just read, but Danny Rose is a Spurs player and it is not my problem at all.”
Tottenham boss Pochettino admitted that he was frustrated by Rose’s critical remarks, but dismissed the idea that the England international is set to leave the club. The Argentine stressed that Rose signed a five-year deal last summer and urged him to focus on getting “back into shape”.
Rose did not play in Spurs’ opening day win over Newcastle United on Sunday as he continues to work his way back from a knee injury that ruled him out for the majority of last season.