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Soccer

Liverpool’s stance on signing Virgil van Dijk cover as Jurgen Klopp makes final decision

Liverpool have reportedly made no emergency plans to bring in another central defender off the back of Virgil van Dijk’s injury. The Holland international ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in a horror tackle from Jordan Pickford last week in the Merseyside derby.

Van Dijk is set to undergo surgery soon and it’s expected that he will be unlikely to return in time to play any action this season.

That leaves just Joel Matip and Joe Gomez as the only two recognised senior centre-backs at Liverpool.

Fabinho though has proven he is more than capable dropping back to play in defence.

Still, Gomez and Matip have never started a Premier League game together as Liverpool’s two centre-backs.

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Both defenders have had their own injury struggles over the years, particularly Matip who has only completed a full Premier League match on eight occasions since the start of last season.

Dejan Lovren may not have been a fans favourite at Anfield, but he still played a big role in Liverpool’s title-winning campaign last year.

Liverpool opted to spend money elsewhere as opposed to bringing in a direct replacement for Lovren.

But despite Van Dijk’s injury setback, Liverpool have seemingly not changed their stance.

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According to The Athletic, Liverpool aren’t ready to push the panic button just yet to sign a centre-back in the January transfer window.

The club are hopeful that Klopp can bring one of the many talented young centre-backs through to provide the cover needed.

Both Rhys Williams and Billy Koumetio have received high praise from Klopp in recent weeks, with the former being handed his Champions League debut this week.

And club captain Jordan Henderson is also confident Liverpool have the players to step in when needed.

“Any team on the planet would miss Virgil, that’s just common sense,” he told Liverpool’s official website.

“But in the spirit of not making an issue bigger than it needs to be, we can’t do anything about that for a while. What we can do is focus on being better ourselves.

“I look at the players we have who can play that position and I wouldn’t swap them for anyone else.

“Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Fabinho are international-quality players who have produced for us as a team time and time again.

“Nat Phillips is nearly back to full fitness and has the making to be a very good centre-half. Rhys Williams has impressed me so much with his attitude and his mentality.

“Billy Koumetio and Sepp van den Berg likewise. All learning in the best environment there is.

“Are any of them Virgil van Dijk? No… but they don’t need to be. They just need to be themselves and give everything they have for this club, be it in training or when called upon in games. And the rest of us have to be there to help.

“Virgil will back with us in no time at all, I’m sure. Because he is such an extraordinary professional I know he will come back not just as good but better. He’s the sort of character who will use the time out to learn and develop. But while we wait for him we don’t stop.”

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Soccer

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane makes sack admission ahead of Barcelona El Clasico clash

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane believes he has the full backing of everyone at the club ahead of today’s El Clasico match against Barcelona. Zidane is reportedly on the brink at the Bernabeu after a sluggish start to the season.

Madrid’s poor start to the campaign continued on Wednesday as they suffered an embarrassing defeat against Shaktar Donetsk in the Champions League.

Zidane’s side were 3-0 down at half-time after a disastrous start at home, before failing with a second-half comeback.

The result was made worse by the fact Shaktar were missing ten first-team players as a result of Covid-19, meaning they were forced to play a second-string team.

It was Madrid’s second defeat in a matter of days, having lost 1-0 at home to newly-promoted side Cadiz at home in the league last weekend.

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The back-to-back defeats have turned up the pressure on Zidane, who now goes into today’s El Clasico knowing he must win in order to put the speculation to bed.

But the French boss insists he still feels the full support of everyone at the club, and referenced his previous successes in the role as reasons to stick by him.

Zidane said: “Yes, [I feel support from] all of them.

“Ultimately, I’ve won many things with these players; they have made me win a lot of things.

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“I will be with these players to the death. They are the ones who fight and run.

“I can see the support, yes, but for now, what’s important for us is to change the mindset.

“Games are coming for us to change things. Football is beautiful for that.

“When things get worse, you have to bring out your character and quality.”

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Zidane went on to dismiss Madrid’s recent poor form, and insisted he was fully in control of the team’s fortunes.

He continued: “Nothing at all has changed. It was the same last year, the same in my first period. It doesn’t change.

“What I have to do is my job, give 100 per cent as always and, to the rest, nothing. We look at the games.

“We started badly in the sense that, when they scored, it was tough for us to lift our heads.

“That’s football. There are high and low moments and you have to accept them. You have to forget what happened the other day.

“I don’t like being a victim or anything. It’s a game and each one has its story, and that’s the good thing about football.

“You can go through bad moments and the good thing is you can take that and come back to change the situation.

“I’ve always been critical of myself. It’s the engine to improve. After a defeat, as coach, most of the criticism is for me, and that’s normal. I don’t live in the past; I’m interested in what lies ahead.”

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Soccer

Man Utd sent Mauricio Pochettino hint over ‘massive issue’ with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Former Manchester United star Paul Parker believes there is a “witch hunt” against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but has backed the Old Trafford gaffer to prove his doubters wrong amid continuing reports of Mauricio Pochettino being touted as the club’s next manager. Solskjaer enjoyed a brilliant result against French champions Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday night with Marcus Rashford scoring the winner.

It followed on from an impressive 4-1 win away from home against Newcastle a few days before.

But Solskjaer was facing serious questions as United boss prior to the international break following the humiliating 6-1 defeat to Tottenham.

There has been ongoing reports linking Pochettino with taking over at United, casting a shadow over Solskjaer’s time in charge.

Being United manager comes with its usual pressures but the position has been under the microscope more than ever in recent years, particularly with the success of rivals Liverpool and Manchester City.

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And with Pochettino still on the market, there is more pressure on Solskjaer to deliver silverware this season.

Parker, who won two league titles during his time at Old Trafford, believes some of the criticism Solskjaer receives is unwarranted.

And he wants to see his former side stick with Solskjaer as opposed to making another change at the helm.

“I think there is a witch hunt against Manchester United in certain ways,” Parker said on talkSPORT.

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“People are looking at a situation that’s happening within the club and their hierarchy.

“There’s a massive issue against Ole Gunnar being manager of Manchester United.

“There’s a lot of people who can’t wait to throw knives every time United lose a game who never pat him on the back for winning a game of football but they’ll throw knives when he loses.

“He’s a good fit for Manchester United in this moment in time.

“It needed something like that after Jose Mourinho went.

“It needed someone who was going to put the club first and look at every area that needed the soft touch or just a little cuddle and he’s gone and done that.”

Solskjaer will be hoping his United side can make it three wins on the bounce when they take on Chelsea on Saturday.

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Soccer

Premier League manager wages as Man Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool salaries emerge

Nine of the division’s 20 bosses pocket base annual salaries of £5million or more and pay packets usually rise when new contracts are handed out. Sportekz have published details of the wages being earned by the Premier League managers. We’ve ranked them here in terms of their earnings.

20) Chris Wilder, Sheffield United

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the man who was first appointed at Bramall Lane when the Blades were languishing in League One is the lowest-paid manager in the Premier League. 

However, Wilder has signed two new contracts since Sheffield United earned promotion – a three-year deal in the summer of 2019 and then a new contract in January, seeing him through to the summer of 2024, as per BBC Sport.

Wilder earns a reported £14,000 per week with a base salary of £675,000 per year.

19) Slaven Bilic, West Bromwich Albion

Slaven Bilic is the only other Premier League manager who is said to have an annual wage of less than £1million. 

His two-year deal was signed when the Baggies were in the Championship and is due to expire at the end of the current campaign.

One of four Premier League managers out of contract at the end of the season, Bilic earns a reported £17,700 per week.

18) Ralph Hassenhutl, Southampton

Hassenhutl may have finished as a runner-up with RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga, but he’s one of the lowest-paid bosses in England’s top tier.

The 52-year-old, who replaced Mark Hughes as Southampton boss in December 2018, earns £21,000 per week and an annual income of £1million.

In June 2020, he signed a new contract to extend his stay at the club until 2024, as per The Guardian.

17) Graham Potter, Brighton

Having previously worked wonders at Swedish underdogs Ostersunds, Potter impressed at Swansea City before being appointed by Brighton in 2019.

Potter is reported to be on the same wage as Hassenhutl, with an annual earning of £1million.

16) Dean Smith, Aston Villa

There is a significant hike in income to the next man on the list, with Aston Villa boss Dean Smith earning a reported £31,250 per week – translating to £1.5million per year.

Smith’s current deal runs through to the summer of 2023, as per BBC Sport, with Villa recently rewarding him for maintaining their top-flight status.

15) Sean Dyche, Burnley

The Burnley boss is one of five Premier League managers whose contract expires in the summer of 2022, with his most recent deal penned in 2018, as cited by BBC Sport.

Dyche has been in charge at Turf Moor since 2012 and has established the Clarets as a fixture in the Premier League in recent years.

Sportekz claim his salary is £2.4million per annum, but the Lancashire Telegraph have previously reported it could be as high as £3.5million.

14) Steve Bruce, Newcastle

One of the league’s most experienced managers, Steve Bruce is said to be on a weekly wage of £57,000, which translates into an annual salary of £2.75million.

He has two years remaining on his contract at St James’s Park, which was signed upon his appointment in the summer of 2019.

13) David Moyes, West Ham

On slightly more than Bruce, West Ham boss David Moyes has an annual wage of £3million.

The Scot penned an 18-month deal last season and the Telegraph report there will be no discussions over a contract renewal until the turn of the year at the earliest.

12) Scott Parker, Fulham

The former combative midfielder guided Fulham to promotion via the play-offs last term and the club confirmed in September that he had penned a three-year contract through to 2023.

He is said to earn a wage of £73,000 per week, which is £3.5million per year – surprisingly high for someone at the start of his managerial career.

11) Nuno Espirito Santo, Wolves

The Portuguese boss signed a new three-year deal at Molineux on the eve of the current season, as per BBC Sport.

He is said to now be on an annual wage of £4million, with weekly earnings of £85,000.

10) Roy Hodgson, Crystal Palace

Now 72, Roy Hodgson is the league’s oldest manager and is under contract at Selhurst Park until the end of the season.

His most recent deal was signed back in March, as per BBC Sport, and while he has generally impressed across his spell at Palace, it is unlikely he will remain beyond the current campaign.

Hodgson is currently in his 44th year as a manager, his career having begun at Swedish club Halmstads in 1976. He is said to earn £4.5million per season.

9) Brendan Rodgers, Leicester

Brendan Rodgers committed his long-term future to Leicester last December – when the team were comfortably in the top three – by signing of a new contract to 2025, as per The Guardian.

Reports indicate the Northern Irishman earns £105,000 per week and has an annual salary of £5million.

8) Mikel Arteta, Arsenal

Arsenal appointed Mikel Arteta through to the summer of 2023 last December, and Goal say his salary is the same as Leicester boss Rodgers – an annual sum of £5million.

The Spaniard has enjoyed a successful opening year at the Gunners, helping them to last season’s FA Cup and also lifting the Community Shield ahead of this season.

He is one of the youngest managers in the league but the protégé of Pep Guardiola looks to have a bright future in coaching. 

7) Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manchester United

It is perhaps a little surprising that the manager of Manchester United – known for their generous contract offers to players – is not even among the six highest-earning managers in the Premier League.

The Norwegian was appointed permanently in March 2019 following a successful stint as caretaker. He earns a reported £160,000 per week, which works out as £7.8million per annum.

6) Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds

Marcelo Bielsa penned a one-year contract extension at Elland Road last month to make him one of the highest-paid managers in the Premier League.

The Argentine is on a reported £166,660 per week – £8million per year, a figure which is higher than his Arsenal and Manchester United counterparts.

He has overseen the club’s return to the big time and will leave a lasting impact on the Whites regardless of what happens this season.

5) Frank Lampard, Chelsea

Frank Lampard is the fifth highest-paid manager in the Premier League, earning marginally more than Bielsa at £166,850 per week.

As per Sky Sports, the former England international penned a three-year deal at Stamford Bridge last summer.

Lampard met his objectives of a top-four finish last year, but more will be expected after the Blues’ significant outlay in the summer transfer market.

4) Carlo Ancelotti, Everton

It is unsurprising that one of the game’s most distinguished managers earns a significant salary at Everton.

Sportekz claim Carlo Ancelotti’s salary is £11million per annum, but The Sun have reported Ancelotti’s deal is worth £14million over the course of a season.

With Juventus, Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich among his former employers, the Italian is one of the division’s highest-profile head coaches.

3) Jose Mourinho, Tottenham

Jose Mourinho is still managerial box-office and his appointment at Tottenham last season stole headlines across the football world.

The Daily Mail claim Mourinho is on a £15million-a-year contract at Spurs, making him the third highest-paid manager in the Premier League, with a whopping weekly wage of a £313,000.

2) Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp has transformed Liverpool from Premier League underperformers into record-breaking champions in England and Europe.

Unsurprisingly, he is very well paid and pockets marginally more than Mourinho at Spurs. Sportekz claim his weekly wage is £313,500, which is around £15million per season.

Klopp’s current deal at Anfield runs through until 2024.

1) Pep Guardiola, Manchester City 

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola last signed a contract extension in 2018, with the Daily Mirror reporting his annual salary is a whopping £30million.

That places the Catalan far above any of his competitors in the Premier League and reflects Guardiola’s status within the game.

Guardiola’s weekly wage is £417,500, but with his contract up at the end of the season, there could be a new leader of this list next term.

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Racing

Lewis Hamilton critical of FIA appointment ahead of Portuguese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton has slammed the FIA’s decision to use Vitaly Petrov as a steward at this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix.

Hamilton has been at the forefront of tackling anit-racism issues in society and within the sport and at the recent Tuscan GP he wore a T-shirt calling for the arrest of the officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor.

The FIA responded by banning unofficial clothing on the podium and declared that the top three drivers must keep their race suits done up to their necks.

And Petrov, who raced in 57 Grand Prix between 2010-12 voiced his dissatification at Hamilton’s actions.

He said: “For me, this T-shirt, on top of calling for everyone to kneel, was too much.

“But to call on that in Formula One itself, I think half of the spectators didn’t even know what the shirt was about until it was explained to them.

“Let’s say a driver admits to being gay. Will they come out with a rainbow flag and urge everyone to become gay as well?

“I think the FIA will no longer allow such behaviours.”

Petrov’s comments were put to Hamilton during Thursday’s press conference and the six-time world champion was scathing in his assessment and declared that the FIA should be hiring people more in tune with ongoing issues.

“I’ve not seen all the quotes, obviously you’ve just recited some of them,” Hamilton said.

“So yes, of course, that is I would say a surprise to see that they would be hiring someone that has those beliefs and is so vocal about things that we’re trying to fight against.

“So you should take it up with them really, it’s nothing I can particularly do anything about it.

“But we should definitely be including people here who are with the times, who are understanding of the times that we are living in and sensitive to the matters that are surrounding us.

“So I don’t really quite understand what their goal is or why particularly he’s here because it’s not that they don’t have any other good options.”

In response, the FIA said in a statement: “The FIA appoints driver stewards with the relevant Formula 1 experience and expertise to carry out this function at the highest level, and who have expressed an interest to the FIA in being a driver steward.

“The Federation does not discriminate in this process based upon views expressed outside of their function as an FIA Steward, provided that any such expression does not contravene the FIA’s regulations and Code of Ethics.”

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Soccer

What Arsenal star Lucas Torreira has said about returning after Atletico Madrid loan spell

Arsenal star Lucas Torreira has no desire to return to the Emirates Stadium once his loan spell with Atletico Madrid comes to an end. The Uruguay international was sent to Spain for the year during the summer transfer window. And he’s apparently loving life under Diego Simeone having struggled for chances under both Mikel Arteta and Unai Emery during his two years in north London.

Torreira was determined to join Atletico back in the transfer window, with the midfielder’s agent, Pablo Bentancur, saying shortly after the midfielder’s move: “Arsenal were targeting Thomas Partey and when the two clubs have a different objective it is difficult to be in the middle of the two operations.

“We had other agreed-upon teams such as Roma, Fiorentina and Lazio, who play the Champions League, but Lucas was blunt.

“He told us that his goal was Atletico and that we get it for him and we work for the players.

“He closed all the other possibilities, it either, ‘yes or yes’ to Atletico. Luckily in the end it was done.”

The 24-year-old has made two appearances for Atletico since joining and impressed, despite his limited game time.

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And Torreira has now revealed that he’d be happy to stay in Spain, telling Ovacion: “I’ve suffered a lot of things, I had a lot of personal problems and more than anything my family also suffered.

“I know that I am a year on loan.

“But I’ve been here for four or five days and it seems like it’s a lot, because I’ve been treated very well.

“It is a new opportunity in my life, in which I have fought a lot, because Atlético has always been one of my dreams, one of my goals as a team.

“And being able to achieve it at the age of 24 is something very important.

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“It all depends on how I go during the season, which I hope is very good, and maybe in the future I can stay in the club.”

Torreira posted a touching message to Arseal supporters upon leaving the club, saying on an Instagram post: “I would like to thank all the people I met at Arsenal during these two incredible years, all the outstanding staff working on and off the pitch.

“And, of course, I would like to hug all the Arsenal fans for the amazing support they have been showing me since the first day.

“The chant you sang for me will always be in my heart. It was an absolute privilege playing for Arsenal these last two seasons.

“Thanks a lot! We’ll catch up soon. Once a Gunner…always a Gunner! #LT11.”

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Arsenal signed Thomas Partey from Atletico as Torreira’s replacement and the Ghana international sparkled on Thursday as Rapid Vienna were beaten in the Europa League.

And Arteta was full of praise for the powerhouse after the match, saying: “He looked really solid, really comfortable, and I think he held the midfield by himself in the second half when we were a little bit more open and took more chances, attacking spaces with some players.

“I think he was fantastic tonight and there is much more to come from him obviously.

“He needs his team-mates around him, it’s not about him. With the price we paid for him and the profile of him, he’s going to have a lot of people looking at him every single game.

“But it’s about the structure we have as a team, the flow, the unity and cohesion we have in the team, and he’s one piece of that and hopefully a big piece.”

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Soccer

PSG masterclass justifies Man Utd chiefs’ feeling that Solskjaer has next Nemanja Vidic

Manchester United seem to have mastered the knack of pulling off an exceptional result when they need it most under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. On Tuesday night they went to Paris Saint-Germain and outclassed last season’s Champions League runners-up as Solskjaer laid on a tactical masterclass in the French capital which was capped by Marcus Rashford’s late winner.

It was the very least United deserved after an impressive showing which saw them flaunt two different formations.

United started in 3-4-1-2 before switching to a 4-3-3 following the introduction of Paul Pogba, a tweak that later won the Red Devils the game.

In stark contrast to previous weeks, United looked strong at the back and never really looked in danger of throwing the game away.

Much of that was credit to the performance of young Axel Tuanzebe, who was making his first senior appearance in 10 months.

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Despite the long injury lay-off, Tuanzebe was comfortably up to speed with the ferocious intensity of the match and also led by example.

Kylian Mbappe and Neymar endured a difficult evening up against the 22-year-old and now United are hopeful he can stay fit and Marshall their defence moving forward.

It was a performance that confirmed the feelings of those who work at Carrington, who have seen Tuanzebe up close and personal since he joined the club’s academy in 2005.

Earlier this summer, journalist Andy Mitten revealed the extent of the praise he was receiving behind the scenes at Old Trafford despite being absent through injury.

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“Axel Tuanzebe is a player that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer really likes. Everybody at the club likes him,” Mitten said on Talk of the Devils podcast.

“There’s people at the club that think he’s good enough to be absolutely top class, [Rio] Ferdinand class, [Nemanja] Vidic class.

“But he’s got to do it and the time to do it was this season. He’s had a season that has been interrupted by injuries and United can’t wait forever.

“Sometimes there are just situations with players where for whatever reason, it just doesn’t quite happen for them.”

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The humble Tuanzebe will no doubt be honoured by comparisons to Ferdinand and Vidic but now his full focus will be on nailing down a spot in Solskjaer’s line up.

Speaking in the BT Sport studio after the game, Ferdinand was delighted with the performance of Tuanzebe and claimed he was ready for a run in the side.

“Ole has just said it’s two of the best two strikers in the world, he snuffed out danger many a time today,” Ferdinand said.

“You have to reward performances like that. He’s had a hard time with injuries – first game in 10 months – to come in and play like that, from in out of the cold, you deserve to be rewarded. But Ole is the man to make that decision.

“This is where Man United have struggled in the last six to 12 months, in them areas chasing players down the channels, they can’t stay with them and then obviously that opens up the back four or back three. But he was smelling danger.”

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Soccer

Liverpool injury news: Keita, Thiago, Matip, Alisson updates as Klopp leaves stars at home

Liverpool will begin life without Virgil van Dijk tonight in their Champions League opener at Ajax. The club confirmed on Sunday that the Dutchman will be undergoing surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament after hobbling off in the Merseyside derby. Naby Keita, Thiago Alcantara and Joel Matip were among others to be left at home for the trip to Holland and Express Sport brings you the latest in regards to Liverpool’s injury concerns.

Naby Keita

The former RB Leipzig man has been left at home as a precaution.

It appears he may have sustained a knock during training ahead of the trip to the Netherlands.

Keita missed the Merseyside derby because he was isolating following a positive coronavirus test while on international duty.

He was in line for a start tonight but Curtis Jones gets the nod.

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Thiago Alcantara

The midfielder was sent for a scan on his knee following Richarlison’s dangerous tackle in the Merseyside derby.

The Everton forward was shown a straight for the challenge which ruled Thiago out of the Ajax clash.

Although the scan did not reveal any signs of serious injury, it was enough to keep him out of the trip to Amsterdam.

Liverpool are hoping he will return for the visit of Sheffield United on Saturday.

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Alisson

Liverpool had feared he would be out until November after picking up an injury in training.

Ahead of the 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa, the Brazilian was involved in a collision in training.

He has now returned to individual training but the match comes too soon for him.

Alisson is expected to return in the near future in a major boost for Liverpool.

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Joel Matip

Matip did not train after the Merseyside derby and underwent a scan on a niggle.

He was deemed not fit for the Ajax match but the injury is not serious as he bids to fill the void of Virgil van Dijk.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

The midfielder is working through a rehabilitation program after picking up a knee injury in Liverpool’s pre-season camp in Austria.

Klopp is happy with his progress but he is not closing on a return just yet.

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Soccer

Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer urged to make Chelsea call on the back of PSG win

Manchester United pulled off an incredible 2-1 win over PSG in the Champions League on Tuesday night. And ahead of a huge Premier League clash with Chelsea this weekend, Rio Ferdinand has some words of advice for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer about his team selection.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been urged to stick with Axel Tuanzebe for this weekend’s clash with Chelsea after his performance against PSG on Tuesday night.

The Red Devils secured another famous Champions League victory in Paris thanks to a late Marcus Rashford goal this week.

But it was the defensive display that caught most people’s eye, with the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe stifled by United’s previously shaky backline.

In his first game back after a 10 month injury lay off, Tuanzebe was a standout performer at the heart of United’s defence.

And former Old Trafford favourite Ferdinand, who became one of the best centre-backs in the world with the club, insists that Solskjaer should stick with the 22-year-old going into Saturday’s clash with Chelsea.

Ferdinand said on BT Sport: “Ole has just said it’s two of the best two strikers in the world (Mbappe and Neymar), he snuffed out danger many a time today.

“You have to reward performances like that.

“He’s had a hard time with injuries – first game in 10 months – to come in and play like that, from out of the cold, you deserve to be rewarded. But Ole is the man to make that decision.

“This is where Man United have struggled in the last six to 12 months, in them areas chasing players down the channels, they can’t stay with them and then obviously that opens up the back four or back three, but he was smelling danger.”

Meanwhile, fellow former Red Devil Owen Hargreaves praised Tuanzebe’s ability to cope with the big occasion.

“Good luck getting this guy out of the team,” said Hargreaves. “This guy… I love him. He’s a good athlete, he makes good decisions, physically he’s got a good presence, he wasn’t fazed by Mbappe or Neymar.

“I think he grew into the occasion. We saw a couple of years ago Scott McTominay came here and put in a top performance.

“This young man… he’s not getting out of the side.”

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Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may change formation permanently due to two players

Last night’s triumph at the Parc des Princes against Paris Saint-Germain belonged to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the Manchester United boss came up trumps to answer his critics. A small tactical tweak and shift in formation in the second half transformed a draw into a well-deserved victory thanks to Marcus Rashford’s late drive that flew in off the post.

It was a performance that saw Solskjaer learn a lot about his team, their character and fight and he may have also found a solution moving forward.

The Red Devils set up in a 3-4-1-2, a system that Solskjaer has called on several times before since being appointed United boss.

In truth, it’s rarely let him down and gives United a platform to build on defensively.

While 4-3-3 enabled them to win the game and will always be their preferred formation, the performance in Paris suggests 3-4-1-2 could be the way forward.

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United’s defence has been a problem and an area that continues to hold them back.

They shipped three goals against Crystal Palace before being run ragged by Brighton in a 3-2 win at the Amex and Tottenham hit them for six.

Yet with a back three, United look like a team capable of keeping the opposition at bay.

Much has been made of Axel Tuanzebe’s brilliant performance as he helped nullify Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

His re-emergence could still United switch permanently to three at the back given that he offers Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof plenty of protection.

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Tuanzebe has the pace to cover ground but is also confident bringing the ball out from the back.

The arrival and display of Alex Telles, also points towards changing to three at the back.

Telles is a natural athlete who loves to get forward, parade the channel and launch crosses into the box.

In many ways, he is a left-back and left midfielder rolled into one and gives Solskjaer the option to drop Luke Shaw into the left side of the back three.

While Telles has the credentials to prove a real hit in an attacking sense, on the other flank, Aaron Wan-Bissaka is also the perfect wing-back.

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He is often urged to improve the attacking side of his game but defensively, his game is almost faultless.

That was evident last night on several occasions when the PSG attack struggled to evade him.

Elsewhere, United have the perfect balance both in midfield and attack. With Paul Pogba pulling the strings from deep, Fred is the legs and Bruno Fernandes is the creative spark to ignite the fire.

Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have both struggled to maintain a high level of performance through the middle but as a duo, they’re explosive.

In Tuanzebe and Telles, Solskjaer may just have found enough encouragement to persist with a back three moving forward and last night’s stunning 2-1 win in Paris may have just been the eureka moment he needed to kick on this season.

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