Opinion – Parker: The pressure will be on Sancho, Varane and Trippier to perform

Paul Parker thinks each of Manchester United’s expected summer signings will need to hit the ground running – they’re all under pressure in their own way.

Take Jadon Sancho. He is expected to join from Borussia Dortmund in the next few days, all being well, and he’ll need to link up quickly with his new teammates.

I haven’t been jumping up and down like others about his arrival because I’m yet to see enough from him to prove he’s what United need. But he should still be putting pressure on Marcus Rashford.


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We need to see if he can play on the left wing – not the right – and consistently be able to go inside and outside his man, because they’ve not been getting enough of that from Rashford. If he can do that, then it’s a step forward for United as an attacking team.

Looking at the cost of the player, United will expect him to be contributing from the start of the season. They’ve also waited long enough for him to arrive, so there may be a lack of patience where he is concerned.

When I’ve seen Sancho play, I’ve often seen him on the left, and that’s where the team’s weakness is. Mason Greenwood deserves to start the first game of the season with his form compared to Rashford’s. The big games need to have Greenwood starting, and Rashford hasn’t done anything near enough to be ahead of him at the moment.

Rashford mentioned a shoulder injury as one of the reasons he’s struggled of late, but you’re either injured or you’re not. If you need to mention it, then you go and get it sorted out. Football is different now, players will be given the time to properly recover with doctors willing to step in and protect them from being rushed back. A shoulder injury seems like an easy out when his form isn’t good.

As for Raphael Varane, I’m not expecting him to wow people. Not because he doesn’t have the talent, but because we all know what he’s done. We’ve seen what he’s won for Real Madrid and that he’s played for France. One thing I’d say is that at Real he has had a great partner to lead him in Sergio Ramos.

But he’s another one who has to start well. Because of his pedigree, people will expect him to slot in and be an immediate upgrade on Victor Lindelof. What he’ll have to show is physical and mental toughness – exactly what Lindelof lacks.

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When you have a poor central defender alongside a better one, it unbalances the side. This United side has been unbalanced for a while. Varane’s arrival would be a chance to build a side on something stead. Something that the fans believe in, but the players behind and in front of him. For the goalkeeper that has been a huge issue for years.

Once you get that, you can compete as Manchester United. Any top side can talk about their central defence. At City you have Ruben Dias, and the form he inspired in John Stones. People might discuss centre forwards, but you have to have quality centre-backs and goalkeepers. You don’t achieve a lot without them.

Kieran Trippier, it’s interesting where he will play, because Aaron Wan-Bissaka will be under pressure. The thing about Wan-Bissaka is that when he isn’t there, people will realise how important he is. As well as Trippier has done at Atletico Madrid, to come back at United is completely different.

The players aren’t as disciplined as they are under Diego Simeone. It will be hard for him to adjust right away at United.


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Barcelona struggle to ditch Griezmann – Paper Round

Barcelona struggle to sell Griezmann

Spanish newspaper Marca reports on the struggles at Barcelona to balance their books. Selling Ousmane Dembele seems impossible with the 24-year-old French international injured, and Samuel Umtiti and Miralem Pjanic are not interested in having their contracts rescinded. That leaves the high-earning Antoine Griezmann, 30 years old and in the midst of another racism scandal, as the next in line.

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Paper Round’s view: Even when they signed him from Atletico Madrid, it was not clear how Griezmann was going to fit in at Barcelona. He’s been fine as a player, but nothing exceptional, and his 120 million transfer appears to be a huge waste of cash for the Catalans. The only thing is that with Philippe Coutinho to be sold as well, there will almost certainly be similar mistakes to come.

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United target Goretzka

Bayern Munich hope to keep hold of Germany international Leon Goretzka. The 26-year-old midfielder has won titles with the Bundesliga champions and is in his final year of his contract at Bayern. That has seen him linked with Manchester United, but the Mail reports that he would rather remain in Germany than move to Old Trafford, even if it would make sense financially for Bayern.

Paper Round’s view: If Goretzka wants to stay at Bayern, few could blame him. The German side are likely to keep challenging for titles both at home and abroad, and there is presumably little appeal in switching to a Brexit-blighted Britain. Instead, he can hold out for a sizeable increase in his wages in the next few months and remain at the best-run club in Europe.

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Arsenal face Aouar difficulties

The Mirror reports on the struggles that Arsenal face in order to secure the signing of 23-year-old French international Hassem Aouar from Ligue Un side Lyon. Aouar posted a picture of his return to training in preparation for the next season, and the paper also suggests that Arsenal will need to sell players in order to raise funds in the transfer market to make the signing.

Paper Round’s view: Arsenal already have to sign Ben White from Brighton which will cost around £50 million, which is a pretty big sum for a club that seems to have little chance of finding its way to the Champions League in the near future. As well as that, Bruno Tavares and Albert Sambi Lokonga will also cost a fair chunk of cash, meaning any move for Aouar seems unlikely.

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Real ready to sell Varane

The Sun suggests that Real Madrid are ready to entertain a £43 million deal for their French central defender Raphael Varane. The 28-year-old player is said to be a top target for Manchester United. In turn, Real would use the cash in order to build up funds to land Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe, who is above Erling Haaland as their top target.

Paper Round’s view: Mbappe is clearly the best striker in the world perhaps after Erling Haaland, but signing either of them would be a huge achievement for Real as they finally prepare to move on from Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo. Keeping Nacho and adding David Alaba means their defence is probably fine for a year or two, and they can let Varane go.

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Real Madrid want Van de Beek to agree Varane deal – Paper Round

Real want Van der Beek as part of Varane deal

The Sun suggests that Manchester United are willing to let Donny van de Beek join Real Madrid on loan, with an option to buy the 24-year-old Dutch international at the end of the season. The paper says that Real were keen on the midfielder before he switched to United, and would be willing to pay a small initial fee. In return they would be willing to compromise on a fee for 28-year-old defender Raphael Varane.

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Paper Round’s view: It seems to be a waste that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not ready to give Van de Beek a proper chance at United, especially as Paul Pogba’s inconsistency means it is hard to rely on the Frenchman, however brilliant he can be. But pragmatically, they need a defender much more than they do a midfielder the manager refuses to use, so it would be a sensible use of resources.

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Pogba future unclear

The Mail writes that Paul Pogba’s future at Manchester United remains unclear. The 28-year-old Frenhh midfielder was one of the standout performers for Didier Deschamps’ team at the Euro 2020 finals, but could not prevent the team from going out at the hands of the Swiss. He has just one year left on his current deal at United and could leave for nothing next summer.

Paper Round’s view: Pogba is a brilliant player on some occasions, and a middling presence on other days. If United do manage to bring in Jadon Sancho as well as Varane, then his performances with Juventus and the French team suggest that he will raise his game to match theirs. However he might be tempted to move to a more glamorous team and secure a raise in the process.

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Atletico close in on Paulo

Marcos Paulo has arrived in Spain to sign a contract with Atletico Madrid, reports Spanish newspaper Marca. The 20-year-old winger is out of contract at Fluminese and can sign for Diego Simeone’s side on a free transfer, with a deal until 2026 reported. The arrival of the Brazilian means that Atletico may send Vitolo out on loan, with Cadiz and Celta Vigo keen.

Paper Round’s view: Atletico tend to operate more effectively in the market on a budget, so this could prove to be another bargain. Given their success in La Liga last year, this may give Simeone more flexibility in the market, but Spanish clubs appear to have universally been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, so moving on Vitolo at the same time will balance the books.

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Arsenal target Berge

Arsenal are continuing their transfer spending plans as they are linked with the signing of Sheffield United midfielder Sander Berge. The 23-year-old Norwegian international joined Sheffield United two seasons ago for around £20 million but struggled with injuries last season as the club were relegated. Arsenal need a new midfielder as Granit Xhaka is expected to join Roma.

Paper Round’s view: There were high expectations for Berge when he arrived in the Premier League, and his first season offered enough impressive displays to expect that he would improve for the second. United’s poor form and his own problems with injuries meant he didn’t get the chance to contribute much, but if he is sold at a fair place then he could be a decent gamble for Mikel Arteta.

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