Real Madrid, Juventus and Barcelona are threatening to extract damages from their former partners in a doomed European Super League.Less than two weeks after they became partners in a superleague project that would have cast aside the structures and organizations that have underpinned European soccer for a century, a group of the sport’s biggest clubs are now engaged in another pitched battle behind the scenes.This time, their fight is with one another.At the heart of the new battle are two letters: one renouncing the project, a short-lived Super League, and recommitting the teams to Europe’s existing system, and another threatening any club that walks away.European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, is demanding that the league’s founding clubs sign the first letter, which would complete the formal demise of the Super League and begin the smooth of repairing the clubs’ broken relationship with European soccer. Eight of the teams already have agreed to do so.But three of the 12 Super League founders — Real Madrid, Juventus and Barcelona — are refusing to let the project die. Doubling down in a letter of their own, they are threatening to pursue legal action against their former partners to extract millions of dollars in penalties if any teams follow through on plans to withdraw from the league.The Super League, announced by its 12 founding teams in a late-night news release on April 18, collapsed 48 hours later amid a popular and political backlash. In the days and weeks since that humiliating retreat, club presidents and owners have held emergency meetings with leaders of soccer in their own countries and with UEFA to try to limit any punishment they might face for being part of a breakaway that would have devastated the value of leagues and clubs across Europe.UEFA has said it will treat repentant clubs more kindly than those that refuse to back down. Those that refuse, it has warned, risk the most severe penalty available: a two-year ban from the Champions League.Fans angry with the owners of Manchester United invaded the team’s stadium on Sunday, forcing the postponement of a Premier League game against Liverpool.Oli Scarff/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesDocuments, messages and conversations with executives involved in the talks suggest that eight teams of the 12 original Super League members have agreed to sign a declaration legally distancing themselves from the breakaway competition, one short of the number required to force through the liquidation of a company set up in Spain to run it.The three holdout clubs, though, are warning others of severe legal and financial consequences if they break the commitments they made when they signed up.The dispute is an indication of just how badly and how quickly relations between the top teams have soured, and underscores how even after its demise the Super League continues to tear at the fabric of European soccer.A majority of the breakaway teams have told UEFA they will sign on to a letter confirming their intent to walk away. But in a draft of the letter, which was reviewed by The New York Times, they point out that if all 12 teams do not come to an agreement, efforts to revive the competition may be outside their control.UEFA shall “promptly receive” details of what formal measures each club has taken to break free of its obligations, the letter says.Despite the popular backlash to the project, opinions have hardened among the three clubs — Real Madrid, Juventus and Barcelona — that were most committed backers of the project. They have vowed to press ahead with legal action to prove soccer’s current rules are incompatible with competition and free trade laws.In their letter, sent on Thursday, the clubs accused the teams that have publicly declared their intention to leave the Super League with committing a “material breach” of the founders agreement. Amplifying that damage by signing a declaration pledging their allegiance to UEFA would open them to significant damages, the letter warns.The Super League started to wobble even before the formal announcement of its creation. Within a day, some of teams started to make private entreaties to UEFA, acknowledging that agreeing to join had been a mistake.Less than 48 hours after the league was launched, Manchester City became the first team to officially announce its intention to withdraw. That started a cascade, with all six Premier League teams releasing public statements revealing their plans to withdraw.The defections left teams in Spain and Italy acknowledging the league was no longer viable in its original form, but not formally declaring they would not try to revive it.Two weeks later, as many as eight teams had told UEFA they were committed to walking away from the Super League project, and ninth, A.C. Milan, was on the verge of making the same decision. According to the Super League contract, the withdrawal of nine clubs can force the liquidation of the entity that was created to run the competition. That dissolution is one of UEFA’s requirements to put the entire chapter to rest for the clubs involved.The breakaway attempts continue to roil soccer on a domestic level, too. In Italy, the national association has introduced new regulations aimed at preventing any new breakaway attempts, while in England discussions are taking place over similar rule changes and also about how to punish teams whose actions threatened the interests of the Premier League.The Premier League is expected to announce the result of its consultation within days. One plan involves securing long-term commitments from member clubs not to join any unsanctioned competition, or to withdraw from the domestic competition, with severe penalties — including fines of more than $50 million — if they do.Finding a suitable punishment is proving difficult, however. Soccer’s leaders are aware that the collapse of the Super League owed much to the public opposition of fans of the English teams that had agreed to join it; punishing the teams in ways that do not anger those same fans is now the goal.That means clubs are unlikely to be hit with sporting sanctions, but rather with financial penalties aimed at the owners that backed the Super League plan. For now, one tangible response has been ostracism: Officials from the six breakaway clubs have been removed from the league’s internal committees. More
TOTTENHAM have been accused of ‘breathtaking incompetence’ by demanding £60 a ticket to watch their last home game of the season – double to cost of rivals Arsenal.Spurs have decided on a flat-rate charge for the game against Aston Villa which kicks off at 6pm on Wednesday 19 May, with some seats costing more than they are usually priced – plus a £1.75 booking fee.
Tottenham fans must pay £60 to see the final home game of the seasonCredit: AP
The club, which sparked fan fury by signing up for the European Super League, set the prices for the match without consulting any supporters groups and opted to charge one price for general admission no matter where the seats are located.
By contrast, Arsenal have come up a range of ticket pricing for their final game, against Brighton on May 23, with adult seats ranging from £25.70-£35.50.
However, Arsenal’s game is a ‘Category C’ match while Spurs’ clash with Villa is ‘Category B’ so some difference in pricing could be expected.
Martin Cloake, co-chair of the official Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust told the club in a tweet: “The first ticketing decision taken without talking to your fan reps in 8 years and you’ve made a total shambles of it, and turned even more loyal supporters against you.
“The sheer incompetence is breathtaking.”
Tottenham have four games remaining this season with hopes of finishing in the top four slim.
They trail Chelsea – who occupy the final Champions League qualifications spot – by five points.
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Ryan Mason’s side travel to Leeds before hosting Wolves.
Fans will then return for the game against Aston Villa before the season finishes with a trip to top-four rivals Leicester on the final day of the campaign.
The summer ahead could be a tricky one for Spurs, with SunSport revealing that Manchester United are plotting a £90million bid for Harry Kane.
The Tottenham talisman has indicated he will make a decision on his future after the Euros.
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ALLAN SAINT-MAXIMIN wants more than to be forever stuck in a relegation battle at Newcastle. The in-demand fan favourite maintains he is happy on Tyneside – but that could change if the Magpies stand still and continue treading water.
Toon Army hero Allan Saint-Maximin has scored six league goals since arriving from Nice in 2019.Credit: Getty
Toon boss Steve Bruce said interest in Saint-Maximin, 24, is “inevitable” this summer.
With little money to spend themselves, the Toon Army are worried their wing wizard will be off if someone stumps up £40million.
After finishing 13th last year – the Frenchman’s first in England following a £20m move from Nice – Newcastle sit 17th, nine points clear of the drop.
Contracted until 2026, Saint-Maximin said: “I hope we don’t fight again to not go down.
“For me, Newcastle should not have to fight for this, you know?
“My ambition is to go up with the club. It’s what I always say when we talk with the players.
“We have a good team, but in the Premier League it’s not good enough to have only a good team.
“Every team has some good players.”
Liverpool boast the most-valuable squad in the Premier League
Saint-Maximin’s return from a five-week lay-off inspired Newcastle to an unbeaten April, leaving them on the verge of safety.
The trickster bagged a stunning goal and assist off the bench at Burnley to claim the Mags’ first win in eight.
They were shocking before his intervention, as they were for large parts against West Ham and Liverpool before super-sub Joe Willock’s late goals.
Saint-Maximin has been playing off a central striker, now the fit-again Callum Wilson.
The French flyer put his dancing shoes on after a stunning solo goal against Burnley last monthCredit: Tom Jenkins/ The Guardian
Saint-Maximin claimed Newcastle’s first win in eight at Turf Moor after bagging a goal and assist off the benchCredit: Tom Jenkins/ The Guardian
But he failed to shine last weekend in the 2-0 defeat to Arsenal, another below-par showing – and the former Saint-Etienne youngster is frustrated they cannot transfer their form from training.
He added: “The most important is to do exactly what you do in training in the game.
“If in training we play really great football, we have to do the same in a game.
“Against Burnley, we worked a lot and were really good in training, and after, we are 1-0 down.
“This sometimes is hard, but for my future, I know I need to play and play good football.
Magpies owner Mike Ashley is not expected to provide boss Steve Bruce with much money this summer as he looks to sell the clubCredit: PA
“That’s why I try to do everything in Newcastle to play better.
“I’m really happy. If you see when I play in my position, number ten, it is easier to help my team to play good football.”
Fans hope suitors could be put off by Saint-Maximin’s injury record.
Targeted by every opposition, the dribbling whizz, who missed two months during the winter with Covid, has struggled with the special treatment.
He said: “If you are a really important player, they treat you differently.
Saint-Maximin was kicked from pillar to post against West Ham in AprilCredit: Getty
Fans hope suitors might be put off by Saint-Maximin’s injury recordCredit: Getty
“I feel maybe because I’m a new player, a lot of players start to kick me and sometimes it’s really, really hard.
“Like West Ham, they started to do everything to stop me and tackle on my ankle, and now I feel not too good.
“All my career will be like this, but more in the Premier League. I get more tackles, more everything.
“If you get kicked every game, it’s difficult to start every game. That’s the way I play.”
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City, the Gulf-backed soccer team on the cusp of a fourth English Premier League title, is fighting an investigation over financial control rules.LONDON — Manchester City, the English soccer team that is on the cusp of winning the Premier League for the third time in four seasons, is involved in a secret legal battle with the league over whether it complied with financial rules as it surged to become one of the sport’s dominant forces.The Premier League has been tight lipped since confirming in 2019 that it was looking into City’s finances a few months after the German news weekly Der Spiegel, citing internal club information, said the club had disguised direct investment by its owner, Sheikh Mansour, as sponsorship income. City has always insisted it has not broken any regulations and denounced the stolen documents as “out-of-context materials” that were published as part of an “organized and clear attempt to damage the club’s reputation.”City has spent millions of dollars defending itself since the allegations first emerged. Its lawyers are fighting against the league’s arbitration process, arguing that the club will not get a fair hearing, according to documents. City and the league did not immediately reply to a request for comment.City is challenging the Premier League in Britain’s civil courts, where hearings have been held behind closed doors, and where publication of material related to the case has been kept confidential despite intense public interest in the case. It is not known what action the Premier League would take if it found City to have breached its rules. Penalties in its rule book include points deductions and fines.City, backed by the billionaire brother of the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, one of the richest men in the world, waged a successful battle in 2020 when it won an appeal against a two-year ban from the Champions League after being found to have breached separate cost control rules by the European soccer governing body, UEFA. City won its case at the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration after convincing judges that a time limit had elapsed on the evidence against it. The Premier League’s rules do not have similar deadlines.City requires just one more victory to be sure of the English championship. It is also on a charge toward securing its first Champions League crown. It holds a 2-1 advantage over Paris St.-Germain, another Gulf-controlled club, before Tuesday night’s decisive second semifinal game at its own stadium.The case is taking place against the backdrop of major scrutiny of owners in English soccer. A protest by fans of City’s crosstown rival, Manchester United, led to its game against Liverpool being postponed on Sunday after the two clubs joined City and three other English teams in signing up to a planned breakaway European competition. The plans were abandoned within 48 hours after a torrent of criticism and the threat of government action.Still, City won plaudits after becoming the first of the rebel English clubs to announce it had backed away from the project.City’s battle against the Premier League bears the hallmarks of its approach in the UEFA case. Before finding salvation through a technicality in the rules that set a five-year time limit on the infractions eligible for punishment, the club tried to have the case thrown out at the CAS before UEFA had even ruled.City’s stance in the Premier League case is a second major recent assault on the league’s governance structures. The owner of Newcastle United started legal action last fall against the league after it failed to clear a sale to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.City’s relationship with UEFA has strengthened significantly since it successfully appealed the Champions League ban. UEFA resisted appealing the CAS judgment even after Der Spiegel published new revelations that appeared to cast doubt on some of the evidence a senior City official provided to the court.UEFA told The New York Times in a statement that it had sought legal opinion on the chance of appealing the CAS decision after Der Spiegel published new emails. “The clear view was that such an appeal would stand little chance of success in forcing CAS to rehear the case and on the slim chance it did, the chance of success at a second hearing was also limited. A similar view was also taken on the possible success of a prosecution under the UEFA disciplinary framework,” said UEFA.Its president, Aleksander Ceferin, praised City personally, issuing a statement minutes after the team last month became the first to withdraw from the proposed breakaway competition.While the superleague proposals continue to attract widespread criticism, those involved in the negotiations insist part of the rationale behind them was to cool rampant spending that has imperiled the futures of some of the elite clubs as they seek to keep up with teams backed by wealthy benefactors, particularly those controlled by the Gulf nation states.Documents reviewed by The Times showed each team would have had to submit detailed financial information to financial auditors, as well as agree to rules forbidding owners from artificially inflating teams’ balance sheets. Penalties for breaches included a suspension or ban from the competition, as well as millions of dollars in fines.City’s backers say existing rules have been designed to keep historically dominant clubs from facing competition from up-and-coming teams. Sheikh Mansour has plowed more than $1 billion into turning City into the dominant force in English soccer over much of the past decade. His largess has been spent on acquiring top executives, players and Pep Guardiola, the pre-eminent manager of his generation.City has also spent millions on rejuvenating the deprived Manchester neighborhood where it plays its home games, building new facilities and creating jobs in an area that had suffered from high unemployment. More
The protests, by Manchester United fans demanding the Glazer family sell the club, forced the postponement of a match after the stadium was stormed.At the Lowry Hotel, Manchester United’s players could do nothing but sit and watch. Outside, hundreds of fans had gathered, blockading the buses scheduled to take them on the short trip to Old Trafford. They were supposed to depart at 3 p.m., local time. It came and went. The crowd did not disperse. Then 4 p.m. ticked by on the clock. Still no movement.A couple of miles down the road, what had started out as an organized protest against the team’s ownership — the irredeemably unpopular and, by most definitions, parasitic Glazer family — had swelled and warped into something far more chaotic, far more wild.Hundreds of fans had broken through the security forces and made it onto the field. There were suggestions that some had found their way into the entrails of the stadium, reaching as far as Old Trafford’s sanctum sanctorum, the home team’s changing room. A small number of those still outside the stadium clashed with the police. Two officers were injured.United’s players were still restricted to their hotel rooms at 4.30 p.m., as the Premier League’s marquee fixture should have been kicking off. Manchester United against Liverpool is English soccer’s greatest rivalry, the meeting of its two most successful clubs. This edition even had a title on the line, for good measure, albeit indirectly: a Liverpool win would have handed Manchester City the championship.For a while, the Premier League refused to bow to the inevitable. The game would be delayed, it said, but would go ahead as soon as the players’ safety could be assured. By 5.30 p.m. — what should have been the start of the second half — the scales had fallen. The league released a short statement, confirming the match had been postponed.“We understand and respect the strength of feeling but condemn all acts of violence, criminal damage and trespass, especially given the associated Covid-19 breaches,” it read. “Fans have many channels by which to make their views known, but the actions of a minority seen today have no justification.”There are two roads that the league, the clubs involved and soccer as a whole can take from here. One is to focus on the method. It does not need to be pointed out that the violence outside the stadium — limited though it was — should be condemned. It cannot and should not be justified. The same is true of the more minor offenses of “criminal damage and trespass.”Those offenses open a door. They make it possible to depict all of those involved with the protests, both at Old Trafford and the Lowry Hotel, as hooligans and troublemakers and, above all, yobs, the epithet wheeled out whenever soccer fans need to be demonized.They disincentivize engaging with the sentiments behind the protests, make it easy to cast the events of Sunday as nothing but mindlessness and lawlessness. They turn emotion, sincere and deep, into nothing but self-serving revanchism: fans protesting because their team is not top of the league.Carl Recine/Action Images, via ReutersOli Scarff/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesThey offer an easy solution, the panacea that soccer always turns to in the end. Win the Europa League later this month and all of this will be forgotten, nothing more than a few million more social media engagements for the club to cite in glowing terms in the next quarterly review of its finances.The second is to avoid that easy pitfall, and to focus instead on the message. The Glazers have never been popular at Old Trafford. There were protests when they completed their heavily leveraged takeover of a club they knew little to nothing about in 2005. There were more at the end of that decade, fans decking themselves out in the club’s first colors — green and gold — rather than its more famous red to signal their discontent.That hostility has never dissipated. But for much of the last decade, it lay dormant. Not because of United’s success — by its own standards, the last eight years have been disappointing — but because of the apparent futility of protest.Manchester United, like all soccer teams, might feel like a social and community institution. It might continually pitch itself as one. It might occasionally even act like one. But it is, in the most real and relevant sense, a business, and it is a business owned by the Glazers, and because no matter how ardent the protests, the Glazers did not seem to flinch, the energy dissipated.And then, two weeks ago, Joel Glazer, a co-chairman of the club, put his name to a proposal to start a European superleague, and the fury awoke. Fans of the other English teams tainted by association with the project have taken to the streets — a protest by Chelsea fans precipitated the league’s demise; their peers at Arsenal came out in the thousands a few days later — but none have gone quite so far as United. None have brought the league that styles itself as the greatest in the world to a standstill on one of its red-letter days.In part, that is down to the unpopularity of the Glazers. The reaction at each of the clubs involved has, in some way, reflected the fans’ relationship with the owners.Arsenal is desperate to be rid of another unloved American, Stan Kroenke: It came out in force. Liverpool, where Fenway Sports Group has some residual admiration, has been a little more circumspect. Manchester City has not seen any mass gatherings, testament to the debt of gratitude its fans feel they owe its backers in Abu Dhabi. At United, hatred of the Glazers runs deep.The message their protest sent, though, stretches way beyond parochial concerns or tribal affiliations. It is not just, as it might appear, that fans do not want a superleague. That was established beyond doubt a couple of weeks ago. It is not just that fans do not want their clubs to be used as playthings by owners who care less for the names on the roster than the numbers on the bottom line.It is that, after years of fretting that their teams had been hijacked by the billionaire class and that their game had been taken away from them by television contracts and rampant commercialism and unstoppable globalization, the last two weeks have taught fans that they are not quite so powerless as they once thought.If they do not want a superleague, they can stop it in its tracks; it follows, then, that if they do not want the game they have now, then they can do something about it. As one of the chants that United players will have heard, drifting up to their rooms in the Lowry from the street below, had it: “We decide when you will play.”Manchester United’s Scott McTominay, left, and Lee Grant watching the protests from inside the Lowry Hotel.Phil Noble/ReutersThat has not felt true for some time, but, all of a sudden, it is possible to believe it. It has gone unsaid for too long, but the whole cash-soaked edifice of modern soccer has been built on fans: the match tickets and the television subscriptions and the merchandise and the captive advertising demographic.All of the money that is frittered on sky-high salaries and inflated transfer fees and inexplicable agents’ commissions: It all, ultimately, comes from fans. Fans make it all add up. Fans keep the show on the road.And it is fans, now, who have realized that means they can make it stop, too: an abortive idea for a league here, so why not a major fixture there? They have, suddenly, rediscovered their power.The irony of all this, of course, will be lost on the Glazers, and all the owners like them. It was soccer’s easily monetized fanaticism that drew them to the game in the first place, and that eventually convinced them that their harebrained superleague scheme could work. The fans, they assumed, would go with them. They did not.And now, that same force is aligned against them. The methods it chooses cannot always be condoned. But the message is clear, and it is one that soccer would do well to heed. More
FULHAM once erected a statue of Michael Jackson before it was, thankfully, packed off to the National Football Museum.But in contrast to that utter embarrassment commissioned by Mohamed Al-Fayed, there would have been genuine clamour for a bust of Scott Parker to appear somewhere around Craven Cottage had his team, somehow, won the last five games of this season.
Fulham boss Scott Parker has been linked with the vacant Tottenham manager job
It would have been the greatest of all great escapes. Yet considering they had only managed five victories all seasons, it was completely impossible.
Fulham picked the wrong time to deliver their worst run of form since failing to win their first six top-flight matches at the start of the campaign
The gap with Newcastle remains at nine points and Arsenal visit the North East on Sunday. Mikel Arteta’s soft-centered team are the last side you would ever want to rely on.
Ahead of Saturday’s west London derby against his former club, Parker claimed he still believed his team could somehow avoid relegation.
But they had to leave Stamford Bridge with three points and despite putting up a decent enough fight, the spirit and hope drained out of the team once Kai Havertz scored the second.
So now, Fulham are once again continuing their increasingly regular Premier League exchange with Norwich. Two clubs who no longer seem to spend a season in the same division as they are too busy getting promoted and relegated.
After winning 1-0 at Liverpool in March, the season has tailed off badly for Parker, whose stock nevertheless remains high and rightly so.
At times, Fulham have looked capable of getting out of the mess they found themselves in. But when they needed a final push, the quality – and also some fortune – has not really been there.
Parker sent out the same team which was just seconds away from landing three points in the 1-1 draw at Arsenal
His side started brightly and Antonee Robinson – sent off in the 1-0 loss to Chelsea in January – forced a half-decent save from Edouard Mendy
Mason Mount scored the winner in that west London derby and it was his stunning ball control and subsequent pass beyond full-back Ola Aina which allowed Havertz the chance to score his first Premier League goal at Stamford Bridge since October.
Keeper Alphonse Areola, who has had a good season for Fulham, got across his goal impressively to keep out a shot from Hakim Ziyech. On the stroke of half-time. Mendy also reacted well to palm away a deflected shot from Aina off Reece James.
But shortly into the second half, the German connection worked well as Havertz combined with Timo Werner and he touched the ball past Areola for a second.
And sadly, the light went out on Fulham’s hopes.
There will once again be massive changes at Craven Cottage when you consider the club have had seven loan players with six of them starting yesterday.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek was ineligible due to the fact he is a Chelsea player and wherever he ends up next season, it will not be in the Championship.,
There was also a first outing on the subs bench for a Premier League game for winger Fabio Carvalho who, despite being born in Portugal, represents England at youth level. He is one talented player who it is worth keeping an eye on.
So, there are reasons to be optimistic for Fulham, but the biggest battle will be to keep Parker.
The 40-year-old is an impressive character and he also learns from his mistakes. His decision to change tactics and personnel resulted in Fulham having half a chance of staying up after their lousy start.
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And Fulham’s owners will look to emulate Norwich who stuck with Daniel Farke and clinched the Championship title yesterday.
But the club’s biggest problem is that another of Parker’s former clubs, Tottenham, are finding themselves in a bit of a pickle over who to appoint as a manager.
Parker may only have an outside chance of getting the job but he is a contender. And for Fulham, that potential loss could be nearly as painful as another Premier League relegation.
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Ryan Giggs has breakfast with new lover as he’s pictured for first time since court appearance More
MINO RAIOLA refused to rule out Paul Pogba leaving Manchester United – and is even open to a swap deal involving Eden Hazard.The super-agent has often linked Pogba with a move abroad, and he explained why a move to Real Madrid still has not materialised.
Paul Pogba has frequently been linked with an exit from Old Trafford
Eden Hazard is still yet to establish himself at Real Madrid due to injury issues
Pogba was linked to Los Blancos in January and July last year most recently, and Raiola was asked why he has not moved to the Spanish capital by AS.
He said: “It is a question to ask Madrid. At one time Pogba felt a lot of love and trust from United, and there were several other clubs.
“Later, it is very difficult for United and Madrid to understand each other for a great transfer, because strong clubs do not want to sell strong players to other strong clubs.
“And I’m not going to fool him, for Pogba playing for Madrid was always a very attractive thing, for Zidane too. He is his idol as a young man.
Raiola was then asked if Pogba moving to Real Madrid this summer was a possibility.
He added: “I do not know. I think that nothing is impossible, but football depends on the day. As it is.
“You have to be flexible to think of all the possibilities. And if tomorrow Madrid wants to make a Hazard-Pogba change? It is just an example. And if all four parties like it, why not?”
In the interview, Raiola suggested that Madrid can afford Erling Haaland, so there is potentially a transfer kitty available for a big-name player like Pogba.
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The midfielder has scored six goals in 37 games this term and looks settled under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and United have one foot in the Europa League final.
Pogba recently revealed that he thinks his side are now capable of challenging Manchester City for the title, so he could be keen to stay.
And given Pogba’s important to Solskjaer, it is perhaps unlikely that United will be willing to let him go this summer.
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Solskjaer pleads for peaceful Man Utd protests as 10,000 fans plan to march on Old Trafford before Liverpool clash More
The boycott, set to begin on Friday, is the most direct effort yet by a sport to pressure social media companies like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to take action against abuse.English soccer officials said Saturday that they would conduct a social media blackout next weekend to protest “the ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received online by players and many others connected to football.”The boycott has the support of a coalition of groups, including the Premier League, the richest and most high profile soccer league in the world, but also England’s soccer federation; the top two professional tiers of men’s and women’s soccer; referees; the country’s players union, and others.The action is the most direct effort yet by a sport to pressure social media companies like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to take action against online abuse, and comes after a season in which players, clubs, team executives, referees, female commentators and others have been the targets of abuse.The social media boycott also follows a week of fury and street protests against top clubs and their owners who tried — and failed — to create a breakaway European Super League that would have walled them off from many of the structures, including the pay system, that have sustained soccer for a century. At each of the protests, there were vitriolic demands for the owners of teams to sell.Cases of harassment have been well documented online. In February, Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah posted a picture on Twitter with the caption “Working with a smile!”The tweet was met with racist abuse from a Twitter user who told Nketiah, who is Black, to leave the club. Twitter responded by permanently suspending the user’s account, Sky Sports reported.Karen Carney, a former footballer and current sports pundit, deleted her Twitter account after she received waves of online abuse.Peter Cziborra/Action Images via ReutersSuch harassment has been instigated not only by fans, but also by club social media accounts. In December, the commentator and former soccer player Karen Carney deleted her Twitter account after she received a wave of online abuse.After a 5-0 win by Leeds United over West Brom, Carney on Amazon Prime Video Sport wondered whether Leeds would “blow up at the end of the season.” A clip of her commentary was shared by the Leeds team Twitter account, which invited a slew of hateful messages toward Carney.Many on Twitter defended her and criticized the team’s social media folks, including the former Leeds captain Rio Ferdinand, who called for the tweet to be deleted.Bethany England, a forward for Chelsea, called out Leeds’ social media team for “atrocious behaviour.”“Cyber bullying a female pundit and opening her up to mass online abuse for DOING HER JOB AND HAVING HER OPINION!” England said.In February, the top executives of the Football Association — English soccer’s governing body — the Premier League, and other organizations wrote an open letter to Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, and Mark Zuckerberg, the C.E.O. of Facebook, calling for the leaders to put an end to “the levels of vicious, offensive abuse” coming from users on their platforms.“The reality is your platforms remain havens for abuse,” the soccer executives wrote. “Your inaction has created the belief in the minds of the anonymous perpetrators that they are beyond reach.”In the past, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have taken steps, such as banning users temporarily or permanently, but the issues of online abuse have persisted.In a news release announcing the social media boycott, which will take place from Friday afternoon through Monday, English soccer called on the United Kingdom to “bring in strong legislation to make social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms.”In the statement, Richard Masters, the Premier League’s chief executive, said the league would continue to push social media companies to make changes to prevent online abuse.“Racist behaviour of any form is unacceptable and the appalling abuse we are seeing players receive on social media platforms cannot be allowed to continue,” Masters said. “Football is a diverse sport, which brings together communities and cultures from all backgrounds and this diversity makes the competition stronger.”It’s not the first time soccer has tried to shine a light on racism.Players and coaches in the Premier League and other top leagues, for example, have been kneeling before kickoffs all season in a show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement — at the encouragement of the league’s team captains and with the support of league officials.But some players and even entire teams, frustrated with a lack of concrete progress on racial issues and feeling the gesture has become more performative than productive, have recently stopped taking part.Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha said he had come to see the kneeling as “degrading,” and said he would stop doing it and would focus his efforts elsewhere. Brentford, a team in England’s second-tier Championship, in February stopped taking a knee before games. While the players said in a statement that they still supported antiracism efforts, they said, “We believe we can use our time and energies to promote racial equality in other ways.”The social-media blackout will take place while an entire slate of games in multiple leagues will be played, including one between Manchester United and Liverpool, the Premier League’s defending champion.Edleen John, director of international relations for the Football Association, said English soccer will not stop pressing for change after next weekend.“It’s simply unacceptable that people across English football and society more broadly continue to be subjected to discriminatory abuse online on a daily basis, with no real-world consequences for perpetrators,” John said. “Social media companies need to be held accountable if they continue to fall short of their moral and social responsibilities to address this endemic problem.” More
MANCHESTER UNITED and Manchester City are monitoring Aston Villa prodigy Carney Chukwuemeka, reports claim.The midfielder, 17, is an emerging talent at Villa Park and is edging closer to first-team action, having featured on the bench against City on Wednesday.
Carney Chukwuemeka is being tracked by clubs across Europe but is contracted until 2023
And he is very highly rated by his current club, with chief executive Christian Purslow describing Chukwuemeka as ‘probably the best 16-year-old in England’ last year.
A number of clubs have now joined the Manchester clubs in taking an interest, The Guardian claims.
Monaco, PSV Eindhoven and RB Leipzig are all believed to be tracking the youngster, with the latter no strangers to pinching young English talent.
Juventus and Bayern Munich have also been linked to the wonderkid in the past.
All the clubs mentioned may find it tricky to lure Chukwuemeka away from the Midlands as Villa are reportedly desperate to keep him.
He signed a three-year deal when he turned 17 last October, the most they could give him, and Villa aim to extend his stay on his next birthday.
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Chukwuemeka can play in a number of midfield roles, both defensively and as an attacker, which may be while he appeals to United and City.
His technical skill and ability to glide past opponents has caught the eye in Premier League 2 this campaign.
And the youngster was rewarded for his fine form with his first appearance for England Under-18s in March.
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Manchester United fans protest outside Old Trafford in a bid to remove club’s owners More