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    Most costly Man Utd failures and what happened after their Old Trafford nightmares including Di Maria, Lukaku and Sancho

    MANCHESTER UNITED are still the most-successful in the Premier League era – but they have made several expensive mistakes along the way.With 13 Prem titles in the bank, the Red Devils have had countless superstars pull on their famous jersey over recent years.
    Massimo Taibi was a complete disaster for Sir Alex FergusonCredit: Times Newspapers Ltd
    United have a history of making some incredible signings.
    Even as recently as last summer, they also have a knack for spending big on flops with £86million Antony still struggling to make an impact.
    From Alexis Sanchez and Angel Di Maria to Juan Sebastian Veron and Romelu Lukaku, check out our best XI of United mega-money failures.
    And we start in goal:
    GOALKEEPER – Massimo Taibi
    Cost: £4.5m from Venezia (1999)
    Sir Alex Ferguson was struggling to replace Peter Schmeichel and forked out £4.5m to Venezia for the Italian back in 1999.
    After flapping at a free-kick on his debut against Liverpool that allowed Sami Hyypia to score things failed to get better.
    In September he famously allowed a weak shot from Southampton’s Matthew Le Tissier slip through his legs and into the net, leading to him being dubbed ‘The Blind Venetian’ by a newspaper.
    Taibi only played once more for United, which was a crushing 5–0 defeat at Chelsea that October, before he headed back to his homeland.
    Matteo Darmian cost United nearly £13m from TorinoCredit: AP:Associated Press
    DEFENDER – Matteo Darmian
    Cost: £12.9m from Torino (2015)
    Darmian has played 60 times in the Premier League in four years at United, but never made the right-back slot his own.
    Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s arrival saw his surplus to requirements, and he joined Parma on a four-year deal in 2019.
    Most recently, he became a Serie A winner with Inter Milan on loan.
    Daley Blind did not have much to smile about during his stint at UnitedCredit: Getty – Contributor
    DEFENDER – Daley Blind
    Cost: £14m from Ajax (2014)
    Always a tough one to judge, Blind both proved he was a good footballer and failed to shine while at Man Utd.
    After four years at the club, Blind opted to head back to Ajax where he has gone on to become a key player once more – and helped his side reach the Champions League semi-finals in 2019.
    Marcos Rojo was plagued by injuries while at Old TraffordCredit: Getty – Contributor
    DEFENDER – Marcos Rojo
    Cost: £16m from Sporting Lisbon (2014)
    Rojo was plagued by injuries and lack of form in his five years at the club.
    Back in February 2021, the Argentinian finally ended his Old Trafford nightmare by signing for Boca Juniors.
    Morgan Schneiderlin failed to hit the heights at Old TraffordCredit: PA:Empics Sport
    MIDFIELDER – Morgan Schneiderlin
    Cost: £24m from Southampton (2015)
    After seven years at Saints, Schneiderlin was supposed to be United’s midfield maestro for years to come.
    But after just two years, the France star was shipped off to Everton with 32 very underwhelming appearances under his belt.
    He’s now at Nice after his three-year stint on Merseyside.
    Sir Alex Ferguson splashed out £28m to sign Juan Sebastian VeronCredit: Getty
    MIDFIELDER – Juan Sebastian Veron
    Cost: £28m from Lazio (2001)
    Arguably one of the best midfielders of his generation, the only positive about Veron’s time at United was that at least it was better than his time at Chelsea.
    Both transfers frequently pop up in ‘worst Premier League transfers of all-time’ lists – and with good reason.
    The ex-Lazio man could have helped United be as unstoppable in Europe as they were domestically, but alas, it wasn’t to be.
    Antony has not lived up to the hype of an £86m signingCredit: Alamy
    WINGER – Antony
    Cost: £86m from Ajax (2022)
    Antony was signed with much fanfare by his former coach Erik ten Hag for a staggering £86m fee.
    And he got off to the best possible start by scoring on his debut against Arsenal at Old Trafford in a 3-1 win earlier in the campaign.
    However, since then he’s been labelled one dimensional.
    Eight goals in 39 games is a huge disappointment in his first campaign.
    Still time to turn it around, though.
    Angel Di Maria started well but soon dipped at the Red DevilsCredit: Getty
    WINGER – Angel Di Maria
    Cost: £59.7m from Real Madrid (2014)
    Superb at Real, brilliant at Paris Saint-German… bang average at United.
    Yes, we all remember his blistering first few weeks and that goal against Leicester, but what else did Di Maria do at Old Trafford? Very, very little.
    His single season at United, in which he and his family suffered a traumatic burglary while at their home, was worth nowhere near the £59.7m spent, before he went on to thrive in Ligue 1.
    Alexis Sanchez had an absolute stinker at UnitedCredit: Reuters
    FORWARD – Alexis Sanchez
    Cost: Free from Arsenal (2018)
    A free signing. What could possibly go wrong?
    Well, throwing £505,000-a-week down the drain and struggling to sell him due to his wages, that’s what.
    Former Barcelona and Arsenal star Sanchez scored three – just THREE – goals during his 18 months at Old Trafford… that’s roughly £40m in wages.
    After a loan spell, he left United for Inter Milan permanently in 2020.
    Romelu Lukaku failed to sparkle after his big move from EvertonCredit: Getty
    FORWARD – Romelu Lukaku
    Cost: £75m from Everton (2017)
    Both Chelsea and United were chasing Lukaku and Alvaro Morata in the summer of 2017.
    Maybe things would have been different for the two flop strikers had they switched destinations.
    But Lukaku – save for a few brief matches where he showed his unstoppable potential – was dreadful at United… at least, by the standard we now hold him to.
    Shipped off to Inter, Lukaku became one of Europe’s most-feared strikers thanks to his knack for scoring goals and that form secured him a £97.5m return to Chelsea.
    Although he has since struggled there and was loaned back to Inter.
    Henrikh Mkhitaryan only played 39 times for the Red Devils in the Premier LeagueCredit: PA:Press Association
    FORWARD – Henrikh Mkhitaryan
    Cost: £30m from Borussia Dortmund (2016)
    Sought-after by a host of Europe’s giants during his days in Ukraine and Germany, Man Utd won the race for Mkhitaryan’s signature.
    But after 39 disappointing Premier League appearances he was part of the ill-fated swap deal with Arsenal for Sanchez.
    He’s now performing admirably at Serie A side Roma. More

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    I’m an ex-Celtic trialist who was dubbed the ‘next Ryan Giggs’, now I own a luxury watch business and rake in £5m a year

    HE was once trying to impress Martin O’Neill while on trial for Celtic. Now he is making millions from his luxury watch business since hanging up his boots, despite being one of the biggest prospects to come out of British football almost 20 years ago.
    He is earning huge cash selling his luxury watches
    The former wonderkid started the business in 2013
    He sells the luxury watches to celebrities and footballers
    Labelled the next Ryan Giggs when he trained with the Manchester United first team, Ramon Calliste was tipped for big things when he arrived onto the scene as a teenager.
    He joined the Red Devils in 2001 and was invited up to the senior squad under Sir Alex Ferguson and trained alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney during his time at the club.
    It didn’t work out for him at Old Trafford though and he moved on to Liverpool instead, where he became the top scorer for their reserve side.
    But frustrated with his lack of first team opportunities, and taking on advice from then-Wales manager John Toshack, he moved to Scunthorpe in 2006.

    After bouncing around the lower leagues in England, he realised that his career may never hit the heights many expected after struggling with injuries.
    His career could have been very different though as it’s understood Calliste once had a trial with Celtic and was invited to take part in a summer youth tournament in 2004.
    He joined the club for the competition but he was never offered a contract.
    But despite not reaching the level he hoped he would as a player, it’s not done him any harm as he’s now raking around £5million a year after starting up his own luxury watch business.
    Most read in Football
    He launched Global Watches, now known as Global Boutique, in 2013 – a company that sells high-end timepieces, including Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Hublot.
    And he’s now making mega money selling products to footballers, celebrities and other high-rollers.
    Speaking to SunSport last year, he said: “When I realised football wasn’t going to give me the life I desired, it was about setting up something else and moving fast.
    “I started to get involved in watches through contacts I had in the world of football.
    “Once I saw it could become a viable business, I set up Global Watches in 2013 and it’s become a really strong company that’s now turning over millions.
    “The idea is to keep it growing and hopefully sell the company in five or ten years time, just like Watchfinder did recently.”
    He admitted that he was a complete novice when it came to setting up his own business.
    But having a well-known name in football helped him as other players contacted him as they trusted him due to his past playing career.
    “Running any business is very difficult,” he said
    “When you’re dealing with high-value goods, there’s a lot of compliance and regulations to bear in mind.
    “We do everything by the book here and it’s very important to be clear on what you’re doing.
    They have been selling for crazy prices
    It’s been raking in millions for Calliste
    “I was lucky it was very lucrative from the beginning. Some watches we sell can go from £250,000.
    “Having my footballing history has also helped.
    “I dealt with footballers in the beginning, selling them watches and I already had that trust there.
    “Even today, clients come online and they see it’s me and they feel comfortable buying from me.
    “There might be other companies that are stronger than mine, but because I played the game it does help the business.
    “We have a bespoke service where we go out to the clients, and it’s not just footballers.
    “We started with an office in Mayfair. Now, we’ve got a shop front in North London.
    “When you can take your inventory to a room of footballers, perhaps ten millionaires, that’s better for all concerned.
    “They prefer that service and it’s an easier chance to sell goods
    “I have a great relationship with the players and make sure they are looked after.”
    On a regular day, the former Hoops trialist revealed he sells the watches from around £50,000-£70,000.
    On the odd occasion though, he can receive around £150,000-£250,000 for a sale in a market where clients can make money from pieces that are collector’s items.
    He said: “They appreciate, watches have become commodities.
    “It’s nice for my clients to make money if they’ve bought a watch from me, if they want to sell the watch in the future.
    “I see myself as a consultant. I know watches inside out and try to advise them on what to buy.
    “So sometimes when my clients come to me with what they’ve want, I will tell them straight if it’s a good or bad idea.
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    “I don’t want any of my clients to lose lots of money, when they come to sell their timepiece.”

    Keep up to date with ALL the latest news and transfers at the Scottish Sun football page  More

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    Scott McTominay spotted with iconic singer as Man Utd & Scotland ace hails ‘real honour’

    FOR Scott McTominay, it’s been an incredible couple of weeks on the pitch for club and and country.Off the pitch, the Manchester United and Scotland ace has been rubbing shoulders with a real music icon.
    McTominay continued his superb scoring run at the weekendCredit: PA
    McTominay opened the scoring for United in their 2-0 win over Everton on Saturday, a victory that saw the Red Devils maintain their stop in the top four.
    The 26-year old has found a bit of a scoring streak recently, having been the Scotland hero in the recent international break.
    The midfield ace clambered off the bench at Hampden to bag a late double in the opening 3-0 Euro 2024 qualifying win over Cyprus.
    And then he bagged another double just three days later as Steve Clarke’s men secured that incredible 2-0 win over three-time European champions Spain in Glasgow.

    After his starring role on Saturday, McTominay found the time to enjoy a bit of down time.
    And he was spotted rubbing shoulders with the legendary Sir Elton John.
    The midfielder posted a picture of himself alongside the iconic 76-year old singing superstar.
    He said: “A real honour to meet you Sir Elton John.”
    Most read in Football
    The night got even better for McTominay, as Sir Elton DEDICATED a song to him at the sold-out gig.
    McTominay was spotted with Sir Elton John at the weekendCredit: INSTAGRAM
    Fans flocked into the comments on Instagram, with one saying: “McTominay and a fan.”
    Another added: “Can’t believe Elton John met the GOAT.”
    A third joked: “The strike partnership the world didn’t know it needed.”
    Another said: “Scores the opening goal on Saturday, hangs out with Elton John on Sunday. The life of Scott McTominay.”
    Sir Elton is currently embarking on what is slated to be his last-ever tour.
    He’s currently coming to the end of a mini-residency at London’s O2 Arena, where he was playing over the weekend.
    The Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour has already seen Sir Elton play all across North America, Australia and New Zealand, with a second leg in Europe to follow after his UK shows have concluded.
    Sir Elton will also be one of the headliners at Glastonbury this summer.
    Last week, Rangers legend Ally McCoist left his talkSPORT co-host Laura Woods in stitches with a hilarious impression of the Rocket Man star.
    Putting on a pair of ‘Elton John glasses’ gifted to him by the presenter. McCoist left Woods laughing after pretending to play a piano.

    He joked: “That was quite a good impersonation of Elton there, at 6 o’clock in the morning?”
    Keep up to date with ALL the latest news and transfers at the Scottish Sun football page More

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    Scotland hero’s Wag labelled an ‘actual angel’ as she stuns in sun-kissed poolside snaps

    SCOTT McTOMINAY was the Hampden hero as he climbed off the bench to strike twice to seal Scotland’s 3-0 win over Cyprus.But as the Manchester United ace was feeling the heat of the Hampden Roar, stunning partner Cam was feeling the heat of the Dubai sunshine instead!
    McTominay scored twice at HampdenCredit: Getty
    The midfield ace pictured with stunning girlfriend CamCredit: INSTAGRAM
    McTominay, 26, came on as a second-half substitute as the Scots got their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign underway at the national stadium.
    While it was a comfortable afternoon for Steve Clarke’s men, it was proving a struggle to get that killer second goal to add to John McGinn’s first-half opener.
    In the end, McTominay popped up with two, firing his second and third international goals to put some well-earned gloss on the 3-0 win.
    The midfielder’s stunning partner Cam wasn’t in attendance at Hampden, instead watching from afar as she enjoys some time in Dubai.

    She posted a picture of Scott celebrating at Hampden, captioned: “Two goals in the bag! Could not be prouder.”
    Cam also shared some stunning poolside pictures from Dubai, with Scott sharing one on his Instagram stories alongside a love heart.
    Cam is currently enjoying some sunshine in DubaiCredit: INSTAGRAM
    A pal called her an ‘actual angel’ after she shared stunning holiday picsCredit: INSTAGRAM
    Cam regularly shares her holiday snaps with her followersCredit: INSTAGRAM
    Cam, a regular visitor to the popular destination, posted the pictures, joking: “Trip no. 27,493 to Dubai.”
    Many of her 10,000 Instagram followers were loving the pictures, including McTominay.
    Most read in Football
    He commented: “You are beautiful my angel.”
    One of her pals replied: “Cam, this is stunning!”
    Another simply said: “Beautiful.”
    Another follower wrote: “An actual angel.”
    McTominay’s double helped fire Scotland to the top of qualification Group A.
    In the hours that followed, three-time Euro champions Spain joined the Scots at the top with a 3-0 win over their own, over Norway.
    Scotland and Spain will now go head-to-head at Hampden on Tuesday in a mouth-watering showdown in Glasgow.
    Keep up to date with ALL the latest news and transfers at the Scottish Sun football page More

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    Man Utd TEAM Sir Alex Ferguson ALMOST signed, including Zidane, Lewandowski, Shearer, Ronaldinho, Gazza and Kompany

    SIR ALEX FERGUSON retired as arguably the greatest football manager  – certainly in Premier League history, at least.The Manchester United legend won 13 Premier League titles as well as five FA Cups and two Champions League crowns.
    Sir Alex Ferguson was the greatest Premier League manager of all-timeCredit: Getty
    The best XI of players Ferguson narrowly missed out on
    Despite boasting a host of stars, including David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville down the years, Fergie often worked wonders with less quality than his rivals.
    You only need to look at what’s happened to the club after his retirement to see just how remarkable a coach he was.
    But that’s not to say Ferguson didn’t try to make big moves in the transfer market.
    Most-recently, Robert Lewandowski revealed he was ‘ready’ to join United in 2012 – ahead of Fergie’s final season – but was blocked from leaving by Borussia Dortmund.
    But the now-Barcelona star is by no means the only player Ferguson missed out on despite making his move.
    We’ve taken a look at the best XI of players Man Utd nearly signed under Fergie:
    GK – Petr Cech
    Before becoming a Chelsea legend, Cech could have been a United starCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    BEFORE he became a Premier League legend with a glittering spell at Chelsea and a late stint at Arsenal, the Czech stopper was a youngster at Ligue 1 side Rennes.
    Aged just 19, Cech was starting to make a name for himself, with Ferguson watching him closely.
    However, the then-Man Utd boss opted against a move as he believed him to be too young to stand between the sticks at Old Trafford.
    Ferguson revealed: “I went to see Petr Cech when he was at Rennes. He was 19 at the time and I said to myself, ‘He’s too young’.”
    In 2004, Chelsea made their move and the rest, as they say, is history.RB – Philipp Lahm
    Philipp Lahm was once on the radar of Man UtdCredit: AP:Associated Press
    IN the 2003-04 season, Bayern Munich legend Lahm was shipped out on loan to Stuttgart to get some first-team experience – but still at a top level.
    Man Utd took on the Bundesliga side in the Champions League that season and Lahm starred in a 2-1 win.
    Able to play at right-back, left-back and central midfield, Ferguson was keen to sign him based on that one game, according to Lahm’s former Bayern coach Hermann Gerland.
    Speaking about loaning Lahm out, Gerland revealed: “It was not easy to arrange. But at Stuttgart, Philipp could play in the Champions League.
    “After three months he was the best player on the field against Manchester United.
    “Sir Alex Ferguson wanted him in England, I think that says enough.”CB – Vincent Kompany
    Kompany could have been a winner in the red of Manchester, rather than blueCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    THE Belgian star is a real Premier League legend, leading Man City to an unprecedented period of success in their history.
    Kompany played a vital role in all four of their league triumphs – including his stunning, out-of-the-blue strike against Leicester to keep Liverpool at bay in the 2019 season.
    But things could have been so different, with then-Anderlecht ace Kompany top of Ferguson’s wish list in 2004 – with the defender aged just 18.
    The move never came to fruition though and the Belgian ended up at Man City – via Hamburg – in 2008.
    Watching him have such success must be a bitter pill to swallow for United fans – especially as it came for their rivals.CB – Paolo Maldini
    Fergie once chased Paolo Maldini, but was turned down by his dad
    AFTER years of being stuck with the likes of Phil Jones and Eric Bailly, Man Utd could have once had arguably the greatest defender of all time on their books.
    But in truth, it was never going to happen – thanks to Maldini’s dad, Cesare.
    Ferguson approached him during an event in Italy and mentioned he was a big fan of his son but was swiftly rebuffed.
    Fergie recalled: “Well I did try. But when I met his father he was quite formidable. I got a shake of the head. That’s all I got.
    “He did say ‘my grandfather was Milan, my father’s Milan, I’m Milan and my son is Milan. Forget it’.”LB – Bixente Lizarazu
    Bixente Lizarazu was once the top left-backs on the planetCredit: Reuters
    AT the time the best left-back in the world, Lizarazu was once being lined up to replace Denis Irwin at Old Trafford.
    But Bayern Munich were adamant their star man wouldn’t be going anywhere while at the peak of his powers.
    Lizarazu revealed: “I had the chance, I think in about 2001 or 2002, to go to Manchester United, but it stopped very quickly as Bayern said no.
    “Ferguson was keen to sign me and United had talks with Bayern, but Bayern said there was no question that I’d be leaving and so I was staying with them.
    “I was very happy in Munich, but Manchester United did try.”CM – Paul Gascoigne
    Ferguson had his head turned by a young Gazza during his Newcastle daysCredit: Getty Images
    JUST a year into his reign at Man Utd, Ferguson was left in awe of one man… Gazza.
    During a game against Newcastle, Gascoigne schooled Norman Whiteside, Bryan Robson and Remi Moses – midfielders Fergie described as ‘all great players’.
    But they were made to look like Sunday League players by Gascoigne’s artistry, with Fergie saying ‘he just tore them apart’.
    Ferguson was later left devastated after Tottenham beat him to the punch – after they bought Gazza’s parents a new house to sweeten the deal.
    The Scot recalled: “I’m lying by the pool when there is a tannoy for me to take a call.
    “It was [chairman] Martin Edwards telling me Tottenham had [signed him instead] by buying Paul’s mum and dad a house in the north east.”CM – Zinedine Zidane
    Ferguson was worried Zidane and Cantona would not be able to play together
    ERIC CANTONA or Zinedine Zidane? That was the big conundrum for Ferguson.
    With Cantona already on the books, both the French forward and then-chief scout Les Kershaw recommended Zidane to the Scot boss.
    But, feeling they both played the same position, Ferguson opted to stay loyal to his own star.
    Former chairman Edwards recalled: “When Zidane was at Bordeaux, Les Kershaw, the chief scout, was telling me we should be interested in him and I mentioned it to Alex.
    “Alex said that Eric had also mentioned Zidane to him but Alex felt Zidane played in the same position as Eric.
    “Having gone over to France to persuade Eric to re-sign for us, after the Crystal Palace incident [with Cantona banned for eight months for his kung-fu kick], he felt that, if he had brought Zidane in, it may have affected Eric’s position, so he stuck with Eric.”RW – Arjen Robben
    Arjen Robben met with Man Utd during his time at PSVCredit: AP:Associated Press
    DURING his time at PSV Eindhoven, before he became one of the most-feared wingers on the planet at Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, Robben thought he was destined for a move to Old Trafford.
    The Dutch legend insisted he would have moved to United in a heartbeat, but they went cold on him, before the Blues swooped.
    Robben recalled: “I had a very good conversation with [Ferguson] over dinner in Manchester and we spoke about football and life.
    “I also went and had a good look around the training ground and everything was good.
    “But after I went back to PSV nothing happened. There was no real contact and the deal didn’t happen.
    “PSV were also negotiating with Chelsea at that time, so maybe they offered PSV more money? I don’t really know.
    “I spoke to Chelsea and I liked their plans. We had one meeting and everything was done pretty quickly.
    “Had Manchester United offered me a deal straight after I met them, I would have signed there, but it didn’t happen and I’ve got no regrets.”LW – Ronaldinho
    Man Utd wanted Ronaldinho while he was still at PSGCredit: Getty
    A YEAR on from his 2002 World Cup heroics, still aged just 23, Ronaldinho could have been a United player.
    Then at Paris Saint-Germain, the Brazilian was being lined up to replace David Beckham on the wing after he was sold to Real Madrid.
    Clearly still bitter about the failed move, Ferguson blamed then chief executive Peter Kenyon for dropping the ball.
    Fergie claimed: “There was a problem with his brother, who was his agent.
    “But Peter Kenyon, who was chief executive then, didn’t get the job done.”ST – Alan Shearer
    Alan Shearer stayed loyal to Blackburn owner Jack Walker and snubbed UnitedCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
    MAN UTD wanted Shearer. Shearer wanted Man Utd.
    The only problem was then-Blackburn owner Jack Walker, according to ex-United chief Edwards.
    In his autobiography, he wrote: “Shearer had been to Alex Ferguson’s house, spoke to him and assured him he wanted to come.
    “The problem, I think, was with the chairman of Blackburn, Jack Walker, who was not a great fan of Manchester United, [we were] local rivals, both Lancashire clubs.
    “He did not want Alan Shearer to come to Manchester United.
    “Shearer was quite close to Walker, who was like a father figure to him, and I don’t think Alan wanted to upset him by coming to United.
    “And I’m not sure Jack would have let him come anyway, whereas he was happy for Alan to go to Newcastle, I don’t think that was a threat to him.”
    Fergie’s almost XI is mouth-watering but how does it compare to the team Arsene Wenger nearly assembled at Arsenal?
    ST – Robert Lewandowski
    Lewandowski wanted to move to Man Utd in 2012 after Fergie’s approach only for Dortmund to block it
    MUCH like Shearer, the feeling was mutual between Lewandowski and United.
    Unfortunately, Dortmund were unwilling to let the Polish superstar – who won the Best Fifa Men’s Player award for 2020 – leave in 2012.
    In the end Fergie turned to Arsenal’s Robin Van Persie to fill the striker’s berth, which didn’t work out too badly.
    Lewandowski eventually forced a move to Bayern two years later on a free and would go on to become one of the world’s best – even if he missed out on the Ballon d’Or.
    Looking back at his failed to move to Old Trafford, Lewandowski told France Football: “After my second year in Dortmund, I had a conversation with Sir Alex Ferguson.
    “He wanted me to come to Manchester.
    “I was very interested. I can even say I was ready. But Dortmund didn’t want to let me go.
    “It didn’t upset me more than that because things were going well with Borussia.” More

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    I was almost booted out of Brentford pub after bodying Cristiano Ronaldo – no-one knew who I was, reveals Aaron Hickey

    AARON HICKEY has recalled the moment he was almost refused entry to a bar in Brentford – because no one knew who he actually was.That’s despite the Scottish international full-back having just hours earlier aided Brentford to a 4-0 win over Manchester United, where he bodied Cristiano Ronaldo in the process.
    Cristiano Ronaldo and Aaron Hickey famously clashed when their two sides metCredit: AFP
    Hickey in action for Scotland against the Republic of IrelandCredit: Kenny Ramsay
    In fairness to the locals, the 20-year-old had not long moved to the West London club from Bologna in Serie A.
    Even now, with all the glamour involved with the Premier League, Hickey keeps himself to himself and is quite the laid back character, shying away from the limelight. Maybe even now they wouldn’t recognise him.
    Nonetheless, Hickey probably wasn’t expecting the same fans who were cheering him on as he left CR7 on the floor to be mistaking him for some random youngster in a pub later that night.
    He told The Herald: “My dad and a few of my cousins were at the game.

    “After the match, actually, they were at the pub around the corner with some Brentford fans. I’ve just popped in to see them and say hello, but I don’t think any of the fans actually recognised me – they just thought I was some random bloke in the pub.
    “A funny thing, actually, the security guard stopped me and said: ‘Show me your ID!’”
    THAT tackle on Ronaldo was just another tackle to the Scottish full-back.
    Despite the images going viral and he himself receiving loads of text messages about it, Hickey doesn’t have much to say on the challenge heard all around the Premier League.
    Most read in Football
    “Yeah, everyone talks about that. I don’t really know what to say about it. It just happened to be him,” he explained.
    “I don’t know too much about it, it just sort of… happened. Everyone was messaging me saying ‘you’ve just done Ronaldo!’”
    Hickey became somewhat of a trendsetter for Scots when he left Hearts for Serie A’s Bologna in 2020.
    Since then the left-back has been followed by Lewis Ferguson from Aberdeen and Josh Doig from Hibs, with Jack Hendry also on loan at Cremonese from Club Brugge.
    Fellow Scot Liam Henderson’s journey to Italy’s top division was a bit different, as he originally joined Bari in Serie B.
    What it means though is that for the first time in decades – or ever, really – there is a strong contingent of Scottish players not just playing outside of Scotland, but on the continent.
    Leaving Italian football (not to mention the weather and food) behind wasn’t exactly an easy decision but Hickey says Brentford caught his ear from the first interview.
    He said: “What they were saying interested me the most.
    “I had a Zoom call with the manager before I signed and he told me what his plans were for me. The fact that it was in London, and it being such a nice area, helped me make the decision.
    “I’m still young and I want to progress and play football. At my age, the most important thing for me is to get as much game-time as I can.
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    “I feel like Brentford and Bologna were the best opportunities for me to get that. I’m not saying that I would [definitely] have got the game-time but those were the best chances to get it.”
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    Meet Kobbie Mainoo, 17, who won the FA Cup Youth Cup last season and looks set for shock Premier League debut

    KOBBIE MAINOO has already been given his Manchester United debut and he could soon be in line for a first Premier League appearance.The youngster has been named amongst the substitutes on several occasions in the league and he played for the first time in United’s Carabao Cup win over Charlton.
    Kobbie Mainoo celebrates wining the FA Youth Cup with Man Utd’s U18’sCredit: Getty
    Mainoo is seen as a wonderkid by Man UtdCredit: Getty
    Mainoo then came off the bench in last month’s 3-1 FA Cup win over Reading.
    And behind the scenes at Carrington there is growing belief the talented 17-year-old could be the heartbeat of the club’s midfield for years to come.
    The Stockport-born youngster was a key member of last season’s successful FA Youth Cup-winning side, and was rewarded with his first professional contract in May 2022.
    This season he has continued to progress for the Red Devils Under-18’s and Under-21’s, following that up with a 60 minute senior cameo against Charlton and a further 17 minutes against Reading.

    Erik ten Hag has been impressed and is now beginning to integrate the teenager into first-team more often.
    Mainoo was part of the squad that went to Spain for a warm-weather training camp and friendlies matches during the World Cup break.
    Been with the club since nine
    Mainoo began his football at grassroots level with Cheadle & Gatley junior football club.
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    He was scouted by United aged nine and he worked his way through the youth ranks to establish himself as one of United’s biggest prospects.
    In pre-season, United fans caught a glimpse of the playmaker in action against Altrincham.
    BBC Manchester commentator Jonny Crowther called him “different class”.
    Earlier this season, Mainoo scored twice in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Brighton for the Under-21 team.
    While back in August, he had fans purring during a mercurial display against Carlisle in the EFL Trophy.
    His vision, anticipation and tackling ability certainly caught the eye.
    One fan wrote: “I can watch 17-year-old Kobbie Mainoo’s compilations all day. Man Utd have a player on their hands,” while another said: “Investing in Kobbie Mainoo stocks now.”
    A third said: “I watched Kobbie Mainoo vs Carlisle United yesterday. Ten Hag has to include him in the first-team. This is not a joke.
    “He’s a baller. All he needs is the physical strength and forget Frenkie De Jong. He can do the job simple.”
    This season, Mainoo has thrived for the U21’sCredit: Getty
    Ten Hag has listened
    The excitement around Mainoo has seen Ten Hag, known for giving youth a chance at Ajax, take a closer look at the player himself.
    He is now a regular fixture in first-team training sessions.
    The teenager was first named in a matchday squad for the 0-0 draw against Newcastle back in October.
    And Ten Hag explained Mainoo, who has been capped by England’s Under-18 team, wasn’t there to just make up the numbers.
    The Dutch boss told the club’s official website: “It’s not experience, they [young players] have to deliver.
    “You are here to contribute to the team, to the team’s success, and that is why he is here.”
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    With Casemiro unavailable for United’s defeat at league leaders Arsenal, Kobbie Mainoo was also named on the bench for the huge Emirates game last month.
    And it’s surely just a matter of time before he finally gets his first taste of Premier League action for the Red Devils.
    At just 17, midfielder Mainoo has been raved about by United fansCredit: PA
    With more first-team opportunities approaching, Mainoo should get used to wearing a club suit in the futureCredit: Getty More

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    Chelsea to ‘accelerate transfer interest in Josip Juranovic’ amid Reece James injury worry for Premier League giants

    CHELSEA are set to accelerate their interest in Celtic star Josip Juranovic, according to a report.The Croatian full-back is a man in demand after a stellar showing at the World Cup with a host of clubs plotting a January move for the right-back.
    Juranovic has been a standout for Celtic over the last eighteen monthsCredit: Kenny Ramsay
    Blues full-back Reece James was forced off on his competitive Chelsea returnCredit: Reuters
    And one team who could now step up their interest are Premier League giants Chelsea, who suffered a major injury setback in Juranovic’s position last night.
    The Daily Mail claim that the West London side will ‘accelerate’ their interest in Juranovic after Reece James went off against Bournemouth last night.
    Juranovic’s performances have seen him linked with the likes of Spanish giants Barcelona and Manchester United too.
    Blues star James was forced off with a knee injury after only just making his competitive comeback from injury against Bournemouth last night.

    The English right-back cruelly missed out on a place in Gareth Southgate’s Qatar squad after picking up a knee injury against AC Milan in the Champions League.
    And he was forced off just shy of the hour mark as the Premier League got back underway this week, in his first appearance after his injury.
    Celtic are open to listening to offers that are expected to come in for the Croat in January after contract talks stalled before the World Cup break.
    Hoops chiefs are braced for bids and look to have already prepared for life without Juranovic after completing an ealy move for Canadian full-back Alistair Johnston from Montreal CF, who arrived in Glasgow just over a fortnight ago.
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    Ange Postecoglou splashed out a fee in the region of £3m to secure the right wing-back’s services and he could make his debut against Rangers on January 2.
    Keep up to date with ALL the latest news and transfers at the Scottish Sun football page More