International News - Issue 312

Manchester United to appoint Jose Mourinho after sacking Louis van Gaal
Jose Mourinho is Manchester United's number one target to replace Louis van Gaal
Man United To Appoint Mourinho After Sacking Van Gaal

Louis van Gaal has been sacked as Manchester United manager, with the club bringing the Dutchman's two-year reign to an end on Monday. Van Gaal led United to the FA Cup on Saturday but it wasn't enough to save him after he failed to qualify for the Champions League and received criticism throughout the season for his conservative tactics. Van Gaal has been in charge at Old Trafford for two years after replacing Moyes as manager and the weekend success at Wembley gave them their first trophy since Sir Alex Ferguson's reign ended in 2013. His win rate is the third best of all of United's permanent managers at 51 per cent but this season has seen him attract criticism for his team's style of play. United scored an average of just 1.29 goals per Premier League match having always been over 1.5 goals per game each season since the inception of the revamped top flight in 1992. At one point the team went eight games without winning and recorded just three victories in 15 matches at the end of 2015. Form in the second half of the campaign was better and it led to the cup win but a fifth-place finish in the Premier League and failure to qualify for the Champions League looks to have been costly for Van Gaal. Jose Mourinho will take over from Van Gaal, with the former Chelsea manager's arrival expected to be confirmed in the next couple of days. Mourinho has been out of work since being sacked by Chelsea last November after overseeing the Blues' worst start to a Premier League campaign.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is high on Jose Mourinho’s wishlist at Manchester United. The Portuguese is expected to be announced as Louis van Gaal’s successor this week and knows added firepower is a necessity next season. United scored just 49 Premier League goals this season - their worst record for more than a quarter of a century - just 11 more than Ibrahimovic scored on his own in Ligue 1. Mourinho sees Ibrahimovic as a perfect short-term solution after he leaves Paris Saint-Germain this summer. The 34-year-old allowed his contract to run down in the French capital and now has the pick of clubs for what is likely to be his final move. Agent Mino Raiola moved to state no deal was close for Ibrahimovic to move to Old Trafford earlier this month. And it has been suggested the striker’s wife, Helena Seger, is not keen on a move to England - and would prefer America. United, however, want to push through a free transfer and hope to have some summer business done before the European Championship starts. There is a clamour from those around the club for executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward to waste no time in signing a player who will guarantee goals after a year in which they struggled badly. Former goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel said: ‘I would love for him to come to Manchester United, I've said this for a long time. He was born to play for Manchester United.’

Mainz goalkeeper Loris Karius is set to complete a £4.7m move to Liverpool. The goalkeeper, 22, will be expected to challenge Simon Mignolet for the No1 jersey next season.  The former Germany Under-21 international is expected to spend the next few days in Merseyside. Personal terms have been agreed after Liverpool met the terms of the 22-year old's release clause. Karius could miss the opening three weeks of the Premier League season though, as he is expected to be in Germany's squad for the Olympics.

Patrice Evra has revealed he will sign a two-year contract extension with Serie A champions Juventus. The former Manchester United defender's future in Turin had been under threat with his contract set to expire this summer. The 35-year-old has impressed under Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri, making 35 appearances as the Bianconeri won a Scudetto and Coppa Italia double for the second successive season. Evra, who has been named in France's squad for this summer's European Championships, has been rewarded for his consistent form, confirming he will remain in Italy until at least 2018. Speaking after Juve's extra-time Coppa Italia victory over AC Milan, Evra told Gazzetta dello Sport: "Yes, I gave my consent to the club, I'll stay for another two years." Evra won five Premier League titles, one Champions League, three League Cups and one FIFA Club World Cup at United but had to end his glittering eight-year spell in 2014, citing 'personal problems'. However, the defender has flourished following his Old Trafford exit, reaching the fifth Champions League final of his career last season as Juve were beaten by Barcelona in Berlin, in addition to consecutive league and cup doubles.

Arsenal will pay in the region of £30m for Borussia Monchengladbach's Granit Xhaka and the deal could go through before Euro 2016. Xhaka has agreed personal terms and taken the first part of his medical, and will complete the rest of that when he meets up with the Switzerland squad for this summer's finals. Pictures emerged earlier this week of the player photographed in an Arsenal shirt. They were taken early so as he could join up with his national team - the pictures do not mean the deal has been done. It does now appear however to be a case of when - and not if - the 23-year-old will become an Arsenal player. Xhaka played the full 90 minutes in Switzerland's last international match - a 1-0 defeat to the Republic of Ireland in Dublin in March - and is expected to feature prominently for his country at Euro 2016. In February, Xhaka, once dubbed the 'young Bastian Schweinsteiger' by former Bayern Munich head coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, told Sky in Germany he was keen on a move to the Premier League. "I think everybody has a dream," he said. "Everybody has a childhood dream and that's my childhood dream. If my dream comes true, it remains to be seen. At the moment I cannot say how realistic it is."

Arsenal set to sign Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka


Romelu Lukaku has hinted he could make a return to Chelsea in the summer. Lukaku has been linked with a move away from Goodison Park after a strong season with the Merseyside club. The Belgian striker scored 25 goals in all competitions and was a highlight in an otherwise disappointing campaign for the Toffees.  Chelsea are confident they will re-sign Lukaku this summer after the Everton striker made a return to Stamford Bridge his first-choice destination, according to reports. A number of clubs have been linked with the Belgium international, who was sold by Chelsea to Everton for £28million in 2014, including Paris St Germain, Bayern Munich and Manchester United. Lukaku has given few clues publicly, saying: “In my head, I have already made a decision. It’s true that the English competition suits me perfectly, but there are plenty of other beautiful clubs.” But it is understood Lukaku favours a switch back to west London, feeling he has ‘unfinished business’ with the Blues after his disappointing first spell. Reports have linked the 23-year-old with a return to Stamford Bridge, after leaving the London club in 2014. And when the move was put to him by Belgian newspaper HLN, he reportedly smiled and said: "we'll see". New coach Antonio Conte, who will take over after Euro 2016, wants to sign another forward to form a partnership with Diego Costa and it is believed Everton will cash in if a club offers £65m.

Barcelona clinched a La Liga and Copa del Rey double for the second successive season on what turned out to be yet another landmark night for Lionel Messi. The Argentina international was in inspired form against Sevilla at the Vicente Calderon, setting up goals for Jordi Alba and Neymar in extra time as Barca ended their domestic campaign with a record 28th King's Cup triumph. Those assists - his 25th and 26th of the season - helped settle an ill-tempered encounter in the Spanish capital which saw Javier Mascherano, Ever Banega and Daniel Carrico sent off. The result provided the final gloss on Barca's recovery following a mid-season meltdown which saw them dumped out of the Champions League and surrender their nine-point lead at the top of the Primera Division. It turned out to be an extra sweet night for Messi who capped another record-breaking season by claiming his fourth Copa del Rey winners' medal - the 30th honour in his trophy-laden career. It is a campaign that will no doubt live long in the memory for Messi who, having won an unprecedented fifth Ballon d'Or in January, cemented his place in La Liga history when he broke the 300-goal mark with a double against Sporting Gijon in February. Later that month, he scored Barcelona's 10,000th goal in official competitions with his side's second in their Champions League last-16 victory over Arsenal. Hopes of replicating Barca's treble-winning 2014/15 campaign, however, were dashed by defeat in the Champions League quarter-finals by Atletico Madrid. Despite this, the records kept on coming for Messi as he notched his 500th career goal in April's defeat to Valencia, ending a five-game goal drought. And, with the Argentina captain leading his side into this year's Copa America, Messi has the chance to cap his landmark season by inspiring his nation to a first major honour in 23 years.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi


Luis Suarez is a doubt for next month's Copa America after hobbling off in tears midway through Barcelona's Copa del Rey final win over Sevilla this past Sunday. The Uruguayan departed just before the hour mark with a muscle injury in a bad-tempered final which saw three players sent off. "It is something muscular. Until the doctors look at him in Barcelona we won't know the extent of the injury," said Barca boss Luis Enrique. "Now we have to wait for the tests tomorrow," Suarez posted on his official Twitter account. "I hope it is nothing and I can be with my national team next week. Thank you for the support." Suarez returned to competitive international duty in March after completing a lengthy ban for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup. Uruguay face Mexico in their opening match in the Copa America, which is being hosted by the United States, on June 5 before playing Venezuela and Jamaica in Group C. Suarez scored 59 goals in a prolific season for Barcelona to become the first man in seven years other than team-mate Lionel Messi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Pichichi prize for La Liga's top scorer.

Sevilla boss Unai Emery has confirmed that Ever Banega will leave the club this summer. The Argentina international has been heavily linked with a move to Inter Milan while Manchester United are known to be interested as well. Reports from Italy earlier in the season claimed that United hope to beat off the competition from Inter by offering the midfield ace a more impressive contract. Banega was sent off during Sevilla's Copa del Rey final defeat to Barcelona last night and Emery revealed after the game that it would be the 27-year-old's last outing. "He shed some tears in the dressing-room because he's going," Emery said. "I have a great relationship with him. It's one of love and hate. "I love him, because he's a boy who loves football, who endears himself to you and who gives you all of his heart and his ability - and he has a lot." Banega, who helped Sevilla to their Europa League final win over Liverpool recently, joined the La Liga outfit from Valencia in August 2014. He has three goals in 40 caps for Argentina.

Chelsea have reportedly signed a £60million-a-year shirt sponsorship deal with Nike. The Blues have been on the lookout for a new kit manufacturer after confirming that their agreement with Adidas will be scrapped at the end of next season. The Daily Telegraph report that a deal has been done with Nike which will be worth double the current £30million-a-year contract. £60million every season will help allow Chelsea to continue competing at the top end of the transfer market despite failing to qualify for the Champions League. It is also reported that leaving their Adidas deal six years early will cost Chelsea an estimated £40million in compensation. But the new deal would make it worth their while. Nike are believed to have been keen on securing a deal with one of the Premier League's London clubs after severing their ties with Arsenal in 2014. Chelsea's kit deal would be the second-largest in Europe, falling behind Manchester United's £75million-a-year contract with Adidas. It would be double what Arsenal earn from Puma and three times what Manchester City earn from Nike - although Pep Guardiola's arrival could spark a renegotiation.