More stories

  • in

    Frenkie de Jong’s girlfriend hilariously trolls Man Utd fans over failed transfer ahead of Barcelona Europa League clash

    FRENKIE DE JONG’S girlfriend had a hilarious response for Manchester United fans desperate to get an update on the Barcelona midfielder. De Jong was at the centre of a long-running transfer saga in the summer as the Red Devils desperately tried to spring him from the Nou Camp.
    Mikky Kiemeney is the glamorous girlfriend of Barca midfielder de JongCredit: Instagram / @mikkykiemeney
    But the deal could not be done and the star now faces playing United twice in the Europa League this month.
    Girlfriend of de Jong, Mikky Kiemeney, couldn’t help but have fun with United fans still pining over a potential move.
    One asked her on Instagram: “when’s Frenkie coming to Manchester?”
    Kiemeney replied by uploading a picture of Barcelona’s upcoming fixtures, pinpointing the European second-leg at Old Trafford on February 23, before a deadpan response of: “23-2 I guess.”
    Despite the transfer speculation and a row over wages, de Jong has settled back into the Barca team and appeared in all but two league games this season.
    He is fighting to get into a talented midfield which includes young Spain stars Pedri and Gavi and veteran Sergio Busquets, who went off injured in the weekend win over Sevilla.
    Barcelona are a side fit and firing at the moment as they look to win their first league title under Xavi.
    Real Madrid’s loss at Mallorca over the weekend means the Catalan club now have an eight point lead in the La Liga race.
    Most read in Football
    It should be a titanic Europa League tussle with a Man United side who are in devastating form of their own.
    Erik ten Hag’s team have only lost one of their last 15 games and have won 12 home matches on the bounce in all competitions.
    With de Jong not joining, United instead swooped for Christian Eriksen and Casemiro who have both boosted the club’s midfield.
    But Eriksen is set to be out until April with injury while Casemiro will be suspended for United’s next three domestic games.
    Marcel Sabitzer was also recruited on transfer deadline day and made his debut off the bench in Saturday’s win over Crystal Palace. More

  • in

    Man Utd’s new transfers Sabitzer and Weghorst added to Europa League squad – as players making way revealed

    MANCHESTER UNITED have added new boys Wout Weghorst, Marcel Sabitzer and Jack Butland to their Europa League squad.The Red Devils are preparing to face Barcelona in a two-legged play-off this month, the first of which will be at the Nou Camp on February 16.
    Marcel Sabitzer arrived at Manchester United on loan this weekCredit: Getty
    Wout Weghorst is another new signing in their Europa League squadCredit: Getty
    The return date is on February 23 at Old Trafford where the victor of the tie will advance to the Europa League knockouts.
    Midfielder Sabitzer, 28, joined United on loan from Bayern Munich until the end of the season on deadline day.
    He joined fellow loanee Wout Weghorst, who arrived from Burnley, and goalkeeper Jack Butland, who is on loan from Crystal Palace.
    Now boss Erik ten Hag has all three to call on for Europa duty after naming the trio in his 25-man squad that has been submitted to Uefa.
    Christian Eriksen was ruled out for three months with an ankle injury last week but he was also part of it along with Donny van de Beek, who is expected to be sidelined for the remainder of the campaign.
    However, a space was created by goalie Martin Dubravka getting recalled from his loan by Newcastle.
    That is the spot Butland has taken, while Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Saudi Arabia has freed up a position for Weghorst.
    Defender Axel Tuanzebe, 25, was sent out on loan to Stoke City on deadline day.
    Most read in Europa League
    He has been replaced by United with midfielder Sabitzer, although there is still no place for injured Phil Jones or defender Brandon Williams.
    Only three new players were allowed to be included in the new squad list, which was submitted to Uefa at 11pm on Thursday. More

  • in

    Barcelona launch crackdown on Man Utd fans for Europa League clash with English IP addresses banned and no child tickets

    BARCELONA have launched a crackdown on ticket sales ahead of their Europa League fixture against Manchester United.The LaLiga giants are hoping to avoid similar scenes to when they faced Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt in the competition last season.
    Barcelona have put measures in place to avoid Man Utd fans from buying home ticketsCredit: Getty
    Last season Eintracht Frankfurt’s fans are estimated to have bought 30,000 tickets to the Europa League clash at the Nou CampCredit: AFP
    The German club’s fans managed to get their hands on a reported 30,000 tickets for the fixture at the Nou Camp, way more than their allocation.
    This led to Barcelona’s home leg feeling a lot more like an away fixture due to the atmosphere created by the Frankfurt supporters.
    To stop this from happening for the Europa League tie against the Red Devils, the Spanish club have implemented measures to reduce the risk.
    The fixture has been deemed as high-risk by the Anti-Violence Commission, which has seen the measures come into action.
    The club has created an internal transversal committee which will block computers with an IP address coming from England from buying tickets.
    It has also reduced the number of tickets an individual can purchase from six to four.
    The fixture will also not have child tickets available.
    Tour operators have also been hit as only 1,000 tickets will be sold to them to pass on to customers.
    Most read in Football
    On the day, there will be random checks on fans, and those who have received a seat from a season ticket holder will have to have the correct form to hand.
    Erik ten Hag’s side have been made aware of the measures that affects the club’s supporters.
    The Red Devils are estimated to have a ticket allocation of 4,700 for the fixture at the 99,354-seater Nou Camp stadium. More

  • in

    Man Utd boost as Ousmane Dembele is set to miss both Europa League clashes after Barcelona star suffers injury

    BARCELONA winger Ousmane Dembele could miss both legs of the club’s upcoming Europa League play-off against Manchester United due to a thigh injury.The Frenchman, 25, was forced off during Barcelona’s La Liga clash with Girona on Saturday.
    Ousmane Dembele has sustained a thigh injuryCredit: Getty
    The Frenchman was forced off during Barcelona’s match against GironaCredit: Getty
    He was seen clutching his leg midway through the first half, raising concerns for Xavi and his coaching staff.
    And a post-match statement from the club confirmed that he had sustained an injury to his quadricep.
    The statement read: “Tests carried out this evening on Ousmane Dembele have shown that he has a rectus femoris injury in his left thigh.
    “He is out and his recovery will determine his availability.”
    Read More on Football
    According to Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo, he will be sidelined for five-to-six weeks as a result.
    Consequently, the winger will miss both of Barcelona’s upcoming Europa League games against Man Utd.
    The La Liga giants are due to face the Red Devils twice next month in a play-off which will determine who progresses to the round-of-16.
    Dembele could also miss up to six La Liga games due to the injury.
    Most read in Europa League
    Barcelona currently sit at the top of the league table, six points clear of rivals Real Madrid.
    But, the absence of Dembele could hinder the club’s title charge.
    The Frenchman has re-established himself as a crucial first team player for Barcelona this season, with eight goals and seven assists in 28 games so far. More

  • in

    I’m a Man Utd fan and these are the competitions I’d sacrifice this season to bring back the glory days

    ERIK TEN HAG may have to sacrifice the Europa League and FA Cup in order to win the Carabao Cup and secure Champions League football this season.If you had said to any Man Utd supporter in August, following back-to-back defeats to Brighton and then Brentford, that they would be in the top four and have one foot in the Carabao Cup Final, most would have laughed and bitten your hand off.  
    Man Utd are set to reach the Carabao Cup final and sit fourth in the Premier LeagueCredit: AFP
    It’s crazy that a little over 10 days ago we were even discussing the possibility of a title challenge as well.  
    But a draw at Crystal Palace and defeat to high-flying Arsenal mean that is certainly not going to happen this season.  
    What is universally agreed amongst United supporters is just how well Ten Hag is doing given the numerous obstacles he has faced.  
    In this January window alone, he’s having to watch as most of his rivals for the top four are splashing the cash.
    And although Wout Weghorst is a welcome addition up-front, there’s so much more required in other areas.
    United, traditionally, have done very little in the January window, but the gaps are significant.  
    On top of this, the manager has dealt with the Cristiano Ronaldo situation very well, along with the impending sale of the club and other disciplinary matters.  
    It’s the lack of squad depth that is the real issue, though. 
    Most read in Football
    It makes you wonder, with United placed so nicely in the Premier League, if Ten Hag might be happy to sacrifice one of the FA Cup or Europa League.  
    It’s not something that he would ever publicly admit – and we’ve heard him say that “we must win every game” – but it’s simply not possible.
    There’s no doubt Ten Hag’s United will try and win every game, but will the XI he puts out be capable of doing so?  
    United play eight times in February alone, which works out as a match every three and a half days.  
    People have pointed to the run United had in 1999 but they only faced six matches in February that year, and had a far superior squad.  
    So it’ll come down to fixture management.
    Jurgen Klopp was a huge supporter of English football when he managed in Germany.
    But, after joining Liverpool, he was alarmed at how much football was played over here during the winter period.  
    We watched him tinker sufficiently in earlier years, in a way the great Sir Alex Ferguson once did.
    Hopefully Ten Hag doesn’t try to compete on too many levels – which could end with United missing out on a place in the Champions League and losing the Carabao Cup final. 
    Whatever happens, the signs are that United are on their way back.
    Read More on The Sun
    Hopefully the fans are smiling come May and not rueing a squad that was simply pushed too far.
    Tom McDermott is the host of The Red Devils Podshow which you can subscribe or listen to here. More

  • in

    Inside Andre Villas-Boas’ shock career change after ex-Chelsea boss quit football management to race rally cars

    EX-FOOTBALL manager Andre Villas-Boas broke the mould when he traded management for rally car racing.The 45-year-old was once considered one of the most exciting young managers in Europe.
    Andre Villas-Boas gave up football management to race rally cars
    He entered the Dakar Rally in 2018Credit: AP:Associated Press
    But he had to withdraw after crashing into a sand duneCredit: Jordi Rierola
    Villas-Boas attracted attention after an unbeaten season with FC Porto, in which he won the league title as well as the Europa League.
    This saw him be appointed to Chelsea in 2011 but was sacked a year later and moved to Tottenham.

    When he left Spurs in 2013, he boosted the record win percentage of any of the club’s managers in the Premier League era.
    Before leaving the North London club, Villas-Boas revealed that he would leave management in the next decade with the aim of rally racing.
    He told the Portuguese newspaper O Jogo: “My passion for football makes me live it very intensively over 11 months and dedicate myself to that, but I think life allows you to enjoy other things.
    “For me, there is a limit and, in the next five to 10 years, I will quit coaching.
    “To compete in the Dakar Rally is a lifetime ambition for me and is something I know I have to do.
    “It went from a passion to an ­obligation, a destination of life, but I can only do it when I leave football. I will do it.”
    Most read in Football
    After spells in Russia and China, Villas-Boas announced that he would be taking a break from management and instead compete in the Dakar Rally in 2018.
    However, he had to withdraw from the rally after crashing into a sand dune on the fourth stage in Peru and injuring his back.
    He then participated in the Baja TT do Pinhal in 2018 while driving a Can-Am Maverick X3.
    The Portuguese boss returned to club management between 2019 and 2021 when he took charge of Ligue 1 side Marseille.
    Andre Villas-Boas had to end his chase to complete the Dakar Rally after crashing on a sand dune but managed to walk away from the incidentCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    He managed in England at Chelsea and Tottenham HotspurCredit: AFP
    His last club was Ligue 1 side MarseilleCredit: Reuters
    He was admired by many players in football, as Aleksandr Kokorin revealed to Foot Mercato: “André Villas-Boas, I worked with him for a few months, he’s really the best coach I’ve had in my career, a great coach, a wonderful person.
     “A great guy, a great coach, always available when I called him, able to keep the confidence. A really great man.”
    He then raced again in 2022 in the WRC Vodafone Rally de Portugal.
    After the race, Villas-Boas admitted that it was a “dream come true”.
    He told reporters: “It is one of those things you dream of as a boy. I have been watching rallies since I was a little boy, and Formula One as well.
    “It is a very special, it is a great opportunity as we do it for our causes for good.
    “It is very stressful to tell you the truth. I wasn’t aware of how intense it was.
    “But we did well and finished on a good note, happy with the jump because I was scared to death.”
    Last year the former manager also spoke of how he collects cars and how he always wanted to rally.]
    Villas-Boas told “I like to collect cars with prestige, I always wanted to own a rally car, so I started investigating.
    “At first, I was in limbo about which rally car to own.
    “I have, fortunately, a good relationship with the PSA Group, and the first car that came up was actually a [Citroën] C4 from Loeb.
    Villas-Boas is still open to a return to football managementCredit: AFP
    “It was a great car with six wins, but it needed rebuilding.
    Read More on The Sun
    “It was actually a car that had been around for a while, was sold by Citroën and then was around a few drivers, so the ten years of its life were very intense.”
    However, he is still open to a return to football management before 2026, as he admitted that he wants to take charge of a national side. More

  • in

    Can January signings play in the Champions League and Europa League or will they be cup-tied?

    THERE’S no better feeling than hearing your favourite football team has bolstered their squad in January – but can they represent two different teams in Europe?Previously, three new players could be added to the squad between the groups and knock-out stages as long as they had not played in the competition for another club.
    Philippe Coutinho signed for Barcelona during the January transfer window in 2018Credit: Reuters
    And this rule affected Philippe Coutinho when he made his mega £142million switch from Liverpool to Barcelona as the Brazilian had already represented the Reds in the Champions League that season.
    Clubs playing in Europe must still stick to the 25-man limit on ‘List A’ – players born before January 1, 1998 – and meet the quota of eight ‘locally-trained players’.
    However, there has been a slight tweak in what competitions January signings can be involved in.
    Can January signings still play in the Champions League and Europa League?
    Since the 2018/19 season, UEFA confirmed that it no longer matters whether players have played in the same competition for another club, even for another club still in the competition.
    Read more on transfer news
    But teams can still only register a maximum of three new eligible players during the January transfer window.
    Clubs have to communicate their squad changes by 11pm UK time on Thursday February 2, 2023.
    And once all teams changes have been approved, UEFA will release the full squad lists.
    Who has been a recent winter squad edition?
    There has been some big names who have made the switch in time for the new changes.

    Luis Diaz made the winter switch in January 2022Credit: Getty
    Most read in Football
    When does the January transfer window 2023 open?
    The Premier League transfer window opens on Sunday January 1, 2023 but different leagues across Europe have different dates.
    Open date by league:

    Premier League – Sunday January 1, 2023
    EFL – Sunday January 1, 2023
    WSL – Sunday January 1, 2023
    Scotland – Sunday January 1, 2023
    Bundesliga – Sunday January 1, 2023
    Serie A – Monday January 2, 2023
    La Liga – Monday January 2, 2023
    Ligue 1 – Monday January 2, 2023 More

  • in

    Alejandro Garnacho still hasn’t got place in Man Utd’s first-team dressing room at Carrington despite breaking into team

    MANCHESTER UNITED starlet Alejandro Garnacho still doesn’t have a place in the first-team dressing room at Carrington despite starring for Erik Ten Hag’s side.Garnacho, 18, announced himself when he made his first start for United in last month’s 3-0 victory over Sheriff before scoring the winner against Real Sociedad in the Europa League.
    Manchester United ace Alejandro Garnacho still doesn’t have a place in the Carrington dressing roomCredit: Getty
    Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag claims Alejandro Garnacho has to improve his attitudeCredit: Rex
    The winger also stood out against Aston Villa on Thursday’s EFL Cup clash at Old Trafford with two vital assists that helped the Red Devils come from behind with a 4-2 win.
    According to the Daily Mail, however, the Argentina Under-20 international has yet to secure a spot in the training centre’s main dressing room as manager Ten Hag is not yet fully convinced.
    Ten Hag insists that Garnacho’s involvement going forward will be determined by his attitude.
    The Argentine reportedly got into trouble during United’s pre-season tour last summer as he was late for two team meetings in Thailand and Australia.
    Read More on Man Utd
    Ten Hag said: “It depends on his approach, his attitude.
    “When he keeps working then, yes, it is possible [for him to play more].
    “He wants to improve every day. He has to do the right things in his lifestyle. He has the capability.”
    But Garnacho appears to be knuckling down as he looks to break into United’s first team for good.
    Most read in Football
    That is why the ex-Atletico Madrid ace has developed his English to near-fluent while training hard in the gym with a personalised program by Ten Hag’s fitness staff.
    The exciting prospect also had his parents and brother move to England for moral support. More