‘Pogba isn’t a Barcelona type of player’ – Scholes predicts Man Utd stay and captaincy

Paul Pogba is not “a Barcelona type player”, says Paul Scholes, with the midfielder urged to stick with Manchester United and revel in a captaincy role entrusted to him by Jose Mourinho.

The France international has seen his future called into question for some time, with a move to Spain or a return to Juventus having been discussed at length this summer.

He is, however, now a World Cup winner and a man handed the United armband despite reports of a breakdown in his relationship with Mourinho.

Scholes believes Old Trafford remains the best place for the 25-year-old, with it difficult to see how he would fit into a system at Camp Nou.

The Red Devils legend told Radio 5 Live: “I just don’t see Pogba as a Barcelona type player. We hope he stays, every team wants to keep their best players and we want him to stay.

“He has amazing qualities but has not shown them enough. Hopefully he can drive United to a title challenge.”

Scholes added on reports of a row with Mourinho, which the Portuguese has played down: “I don’t know – there’s obviously some sort of breakdown in their relationship from what we read.. do we know that for definite? I don’t know.

“What we do know is that Paul needs to perform more often than he is doing.

“We all know the talent that he’s got. Great ability, great strength, an athlete, but he’s only doing it once every three of four games and if you’re going to challenge for a title I just don’t think that’s enough.”

Pogba silenced some of his critics with a goal-scoring display in United’s opening Premier League fixture of 2018-19 against Leicester.

That was his first outing since the World Cup final, with Scholes hoping to see the midfielder handed more responsibility over the coming weeks as a leadership role appears to bring the best out of him.

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The ex-England international said: “Course he showed desire [against Leicester], he should be showing that every week anyway. Captain’s armband? I thought the minute we signed him he should have been made captain.

“Give him some responsibility, a young player. I don’t think there was a standout person to be captain in that team, I just that that was ideal for him hopefully he can keep that.

“He started okay Friday, I don’t think it was anything special. If he can thrive on the responsibility then yes, keep him with the armband.”


Sarri: I feared losing Hazard amid transfer rumours

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has admitted he was was concerned about losing Eden Hazard during the transfer window, but says that he has since had reassurances that the Belgian will remain at Stamford Bridge despite interest from Real Madrid.

Hazard, who has less than two years left to run on his current deal with the Blues, has yet to put pen to paper on a new £300,000-a-week deal, which remains on the table amid speculation that the 27-year-old could be set to join Los Blancos.

Thibaut Courtois has already moved from west London to Madrid and remarked that it would be “fantastic” if his Belgium team-mate could join him at the Santiago Bernabeu, but Sarri has indicated that he is calm when it comes to his star’s future.

“Of course, I was concerned about this problem,” Sarri told journalists when asked about the uncertainty surrounding Hazard.

“The first time I spoke to him, I was sure that he would stay. So I was concerned for 20 days, no more. Chelsea are one of the most important clubs in Europe.

“I think one of the most important clubs in Europe cannot sell an important player without the possibility of buying a player on the same level.”

Having taken part in the World Cup in Russia with Belgium during the summer and reaching the semi-final, Hazard returned to Chelsea without a full pre-season and was forced to settle for an appearance from the bench in Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Huddersfield Town on the opening weekend.

And, while he is still playing catch up in terms of regaining full match fitness, Sarri is in no doubt about the playmaker’s ability, mentioning him in the same breath as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Eden Hazard Chelsea 2018-19

“Hazard, technically, is really one of the best in Europe in this moment, I think. He has to work from the physical point of view, of course,” continued the former Napoli coach.

“In the last five years, Cristiano [Ronaldo] has played like a striker. [Lionel] Messi like a striker, Eden sometimes like a winger. Eden can improve. We are talking about one of the most important players in Europe now but, in my opinion, he can improve more.

“He can be the first. It depends on him. The best for technical skill, the best for scoring, but I think it depends only on him. On his mind.”

As well as Hazard, Chelsea were also faced with the prospect of losing another star in the form of Willian who had several offers from Barcelona, which rose to as high as £55 million, before the Catalan giants lost interest following repeated rejections.

Former Blues boss Antonio Conte had to contend with dressing room problems towards the end of his reign and Willian has since made his dislike of Conte public. However, Conte’s successor has made moves to ensure a happier camp by relaxing certain rules.

Maurizio Sarri Chelsea 2018-19

Sarri’s appointment has seen ketchup and other sauces return to the menu at Cobham Training Centre, while players are being allowed to choose how much salt and butter they want on their food as Conte’s strict diet plan is ended.

As well as that, the team will not be required to stay in hotels on the night before every game, which was an unpopular decision amongst many of the squad.

“Because I think my players are professional. They must be professional not by rules, but by a good mentality,” Sarri explained when asked about the change of approach. “I don’t know [if I have a relaxed attitude]. We talk about nutrition, but we have a very good doctor [as well]. He’s better than me (on that subject).

“We are talking about the day before the match, but that depends on the moment. Now, at this part of the season, we need to stay together the day before the match. But, in the future, when we play three times a week, maybe it would be better to stay at home before the matches. It depends upon the moment, I think.”

Chelsea’s captain under Conte in his second year was Gary Cahill, but Sarri may change that with the England international having not even made the match day squad for the match at Huddersfield.

Although Sarri hasn’t made his mind up over the captaincy, Cesar Azpilicueta has been wearing the armband during most of pre-season and the opening league game.

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Rumours suggest Hazard is also in the frame, but Sarri says he is still deciding what to do over this final detail.

“As I said last week, for the moment the captain is Azpilicueta,” said the Italian. “But I want to know very well my players. In 10 days or a couple of weeks, I will be able to decide the final one.

“I don’t know [if Cahill will lose it or continue]. Maybe Cahill [will keep it]. But I’d like to know very well the players [first].”


‘Salah will stay at Liverpool for as long as he can’ – Mido rules out Real Madrid move for Egypt star

Mohamed Salah wants to stay at Liverpool for “as long as he can”, says Mido, with Real Madrid set to be kept waiting for at least “three or four years”.

The Egypt international shot onto the transfer radar of those at Santiago Bernabeu with his stunning exploits in 2017-18.

A 44-goal haul saw the 26-year-old forward become a global superstar, with his profile now considered to fit the ‘Galactico’ mould.

Liverpool have, however, always maintained that they have no intention of selling and were able to tie their prized asset to fresh terms through to 2023 over the summer.

With that deal in place, Mido expects Salah to stay put for the foreseeable future, telling Sky Sports: “I’ve spoken to people around him, he’s very happy and he wants to stay at Liverpool as long as he can.

“He’s established himself at Liverpool and I think he will want to stay at Liverpool for another three or four years.”

On the links to Real, Mido added: “Why would he want to leave?

“Real Madrid are massive but Liverpool are not a small club. To be there and feel loved by the fans, that’s what every player dreams of.”

Mido has changed his tune over recent months when it comes to the future of a fellow countryman.

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Back in April, the former Tottenham striker claimed that Salah was ready to link up with Real.

He told King Fut: “I was afraid that Salah might fail at Liverpool, but I think he is ready to jump to the next level. Real Madrid would be able to use his strengths.”

Liverpool were able to fend off that interest and have already seen their Egyptian star open his account for 2018-19, with the target found in a 4-0 opening day mauling of West Ham.


Ospina leaves Arsenal on Napoli loan ahead of €5m transfer

David Ospina has completed his loan switch from Arsenal to Napoli, with the Serie A side having a €5 million (£4m/$6m) purchase option.

The Colombia international goalkeeper has headed for the exits at Emirates Stadium after slipping down the pecking order.

Having competed with Petr Cech for starting duties in recent years, the 29-year-old saw Unai Emery bring in Bernd Leno over the summer .

Ospina had already been considering a move before that deal was done, with regular game time proving hard to come by in north London.

He conceded ahead of World Cup 2018 duty that he would be weighing up his options , and the decision has been taken to make a fresh start.

Napoli moved to secure his services on Serie A deadline day.

A statement released by the Italian club on their official website read: “SSC Napoli have officially acquired the services of David Ospina from Arsenal with the details of the loan including a purchase option.”

Ospina had been at Arsenal since 2014, when he was acquired from Nice.

He made 70 appearances for the Gunners across four seasons, but only 29 of those outings came in the Premier League.

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The South American will be hoping to be a more prominent figure at Napoli, who have been in the market for a proven performer between the sticks.

Having seen Pepe Reina depart at the end of his contract and link up with AC Milan , an important position has come up for grabs.

Ospina is ready to step into the void, with it now up to him to prove his worth and ensure that a permanent transfer clause is triggered in the summer of 2019.


Pogba transfer talk of no interest to Barcelona boss Valverde

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde has dismissed speculation the La Liga champions could sign Paul Pogba.

The Manchester United star is reportedly unsettled at Old Trafford amid speculation he has fallen out with manager Jose Mourinho.

Those rumours were strongly denied by Mourinho on Friday, the United boss claiming he has “never been so happy” with the World Cup winner.

Pogba will retain the United captaincy for Sunday’s Premier League game at Brighton but rumours over his long-term future continue to swirl.

Barca have been touted as a potential destination for the France midfielder, with Valverde looking to fill the gap left by departing club icon Andres Iniesta.

But ahead of Saturday’s La Liga opener at home to Deportivo Alaves, Valverde swerved questions about the club’s reported interest in Pogba.

“We do not get into discussions about players of other teams,” Valverde told reporters at a news conference.

“We want them to respect our players and we respect those of others.”

Barca have signed uncapped Brazilian pair Malcom and Arthur in preparation for their title defence, while Arturo Vidal has joined from Bayern Munich.

And while Valverde is open to concluding more deals ahead of the transfer window’s closure, he is satisfied with the squad at his disposal if there are no further arrivals at Camp Nou.

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“I do not stop to compare squads with the previous ones, but I have some extraordinary players,” Valverde added.

“We do not know if the squad is closed or not. We have a good team to face what’s coming, but there’s still time.

“The markets are closing, there are many rumours… but here we will continue until August 31. I’m happy with what I have.”