Mourinho’s pre-season fears mount with Sanchez sidelined due to visa issues

Alexis Sanchez could join several Manchester United stars sidelined during an interrupted pre-season which Jose Mourinho fears will have a lasting effect.

United hoped Sanchez would be one of few experienced forwards on their tour of the United States but the Chile star has been denied a visa after accepting a suspended sentence for tax fraud in Spain earlier this year.

His absence leaves Mourinho with just Anthony Martial and Juan Mata to choose from in attack as Romelu Lukaku, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford remain on holiday after their lengthy World Cup campaigns.

David de Gea, Nemanja Matic and new signing Fred are expected to link up with the squad next week, prior to the first of three International Champions Cup clashes.

“It is really bad. It is really sad, it is not good for us,” Mourinho said of Sanchez’s situation. “It’s not good for anyone, for the team, it’s not good for the organisation of the International Champions Cup.

“It’s not good for anyone but there is no one to blame. I know the club is making the effort. I have to respect the US authorities in their process of selection for visas.

“Hopefully he will come to join us later because it would be important to at least work with Alexis, Mata and Martial, who are the players I think we have in attack for the start of the season.

“No Lukaku, no Lingard, no Marcus Rashford.

“So if Alexis is not working with us for another 15 to 20 days that will be bad.”

United’s first pre-season outing sees them meet Club America in Arizona on Thursday, just three weeks before their opening Premier League fixture against Leicester City.

Mourinho bemoaned the preparation “as very bad” despite the enforced opportunities that will be provided to young players.

“They have the chance to know what it is like to be a Manchester United first-team player and to have the chance to play against fantastic teams – Liverpool, Milan, Real Madrid,” he said.

“But everything is really bad and then we go to the UK and have to play in the Premier League.

“The Premier League and broadcasters, they were not nice to us by giving us the Friday match [against Leicester]. That complicates things. I would lie if I said I am not worried about it, but it is what it is.”

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Mourinho tells Pogba to ‘understand why he was so good’ at World Cup

Jose Mourinho has pointedly urged Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba to “understand why” he was one of the stars of France’s World Cup triumph.

Pogba superbly netted Les Bleus’ third goal in Sunday’s 4-2 final win over Croatia, capping an excellent individual campaign in Russia.

The 25-year-old grew into the tournament and the spectacle of him shining on the biggest stage came in stark contrast to a fractious season under Mourinho at Old Trafford.

Pogba found himself left on the bench for both legs of the Champions League last-16 defeat to Sevilla and was withdrawn during losses to Tottenham and Newcastle United, as speculation mounted over a breakdown in relations with his manager.

Speaking at his first news conference of United’s pre-season tour of the United States, Mourinho confirmed he passed on congratulations to Pogba and hailed his performances during the latter stages of the competition.

The United boss now hopes the club’s record signing has the awareness to bring this form into the Premier League.

“I hope that he understands why he was very good,” Mourinho said.

“I think that’s the point about his performance level and his contribution to a winning team – for him to understand why he was so good, especially in the second part of the competition.

“In the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final he was absolutely brilliant.”

Mourinho added: “To win the World Cup can only be a positive thing. It’s difficult to say that to win the World Cup is not good for a player’s career. So many good players never have the change to be a world champion.

“It’s a young [France] team, apart from [Olivier] Giroud, [Hugo] Lloris and a few others they are all young and have more years to play together.

Paul Pogba

“The future for [Pogba] in the French national team, among that fantastic group of players, can only be brilliant.”

Pogba’s prospective new midfield partner Fred will join up with United’s squad in the USA next week, while fellow new recruit Diogo Dalot is out until September with a knee problem.

Mourinho claimed he was unsure whether there would be further incomings to Old Trafford before the 2018-19 season gets underway in less than four weeks’ time.

“I have no idea, I’m not going to lie to you,” he said. “I’m not going to say something is coming. I’m not going to say nobody is coming. I really don’t know.”

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Odriozola excited by Lopetegui reunion at Real Madrid

New Real Madrid signing Alvaro Odriozola has resolved to repay the faith Julen Lopetegui showed when he made him a surprise member of Spain’s World Cup squad.

Right-back Odriozola, 22, was presented to Madrid fans on Wednesday after completing a reported €40million (£35.4m/$46.8m) move from Real Sociedad, for whom he made 35 La Liga appearances last season.

His arrival at the Santiago Bernabeu sees him link-up with former Spain coach Lopetegui, who selected the defender ahead of Sergi Roberto and Hector Bellerin for his 23-man squad for Russia.

Lopetegui was ultimately removed on the eve of the tournament for failing to inform the Royal Spanish Football Federation of his agreement with Madrid, a saga that has not affected his reputation in Odriozola’s eyes.

“I’m eternally grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to play at a World Cup and I’m very happy that he’s my coach,” Odriozola said.

“I’ve been with him this morning and he’s conveyed to me that I am going to have all the confidence in the world, that I have to give my best and that it’s a big club with extremely high demands, which is why half measures are not worth it.

“He’s a specialist in transmitting his message to the group.”

Lopetegui’s appointment at Madrid heralds a new chapter for the European champions, after Zinedine Zidane’s decision to step down at the end of last season.

The most significant change since Zidane’s exit has been the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus, which Odriozola views as an opportunity for the team to start afresh.

“He’s a Real Madrid legend. We have a lot of respect for him,” he said of the Portugal superstar.

“But we must look to the future; a new era begins. In the changing room we’ve got the best in the world and it’ll be a very nice experience.”

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Oxlade-Chamberlain to miss most of the season, Klopp reveals

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will miss the “vast majority” of the forthcoming season as the Liverpool midfielder focuses on rehabilitation from a serious knee injury.

The 24-year-old sustained multiple ligament damage during the first leg of the Reds’ Champions League semi-final triumph over Roma in April.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was set to play a key role in the final weeks of Liverpool’s campaign, which concluded with defeat in the final of the same competition, and England’s trip to the 2018 World Cup.

Surgery eight days after the Roma match was a success and manager Jurgen Klopp explained it was a matter of waiting until the time was right before disclosing the severity of the midfielder’s condition.

“It feels like now is an appropriate time to tell people that for Ox this coming season will be about focusing on recovery and rehab,” he told the club’s official website.

“We have known this from pretty much the day after he got the injury and after the successful surgery, we were sure of it. I hope everyone treats this information responsibly.

“There has been no change, no setback – it’s exactly on the schedule we expected and planned for. The new information is that we’re now giving more detail publicly.”

 

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Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Liverpool from Arsenal on transfer deadline day last August for a reported £35million fee and hit a rich vein of form after the turn of the year.

He scored five times in all competitions, including a superb long-range strike in the Champions League quarter-final win over Manchester City.

“It is typical of Ox that he didn’t want the news to overshadow the end of the season and, to be quite honest, we thought we could wait and tell people at an appropriate time,” Klopp added.

“His surgery – which he had on the day of our second leg in Roma – has been completely successful and his recovery has started superbly well.

“But the truth of the matter is that we are preparing this season knowing he will not be with us on the pitch for competitive matches for the majority of it. If we do see him back this season it will be a bonus.”

Liverpool have already bolstered their midfield during the close season, with Naby Keita completing his pre-arranged switch from RB Leipzig and Fabinho arriving from Monaco.

Switzerland international Xherdan Shaqiri, who joined from Stoke City last week, provides an additional wide attacking option – another of the roles Oxlade-Chamberlain previously filled.

Klopp’s men open their Premier League campaign against West Ham on August 12.

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‘It’s time for a new adventure’ – Alisson confirms Roma departure

Alisson Becker has thanked Roma fans and declared it ‘time for a new adventure’ as the goalkeeper nears a move to Liverpool.

The Anfield outfit agreed a £67 million ($87m) deal with Roma to land the Brazil international after opening talks earlier in the week.

Alisson was thought to be open to a move to the Premier League club, though personal terms and a medical still had to be finalised.

And while nothing formal has been announced yet, the goalkeeper himself has now delivered a clear signal of his intentions, thanking Roma fans while at Ciampino Airport in Rome, and declaring it the right moment to move on.

“I want say thanks to AS Roma fans,” Alisson said. “Now it’s time for a new adventure.”

It is expected Alisson will arrive in Liverpool this evening.

The 25-year-old goalkeeper broke through in 2017-18, having joined the club the previous season.

After failing to feature in Serie A with Roma in his debut season after his move from Brazilian first division side Internacional in 2016, Alisson went on to play in 37 league matches this campaign, drawing interest for his strong performances.

Roma finished third in Serie A and made a memorable run to the Champions League semi-finals, stunning Barcelona with a comeback in the quarter-finals before going out to Alisson’s new club, Liverpool, in the semis.

Alisson also was Brazil’s starter in goal for the World Cup, with the nation going out in the quarter-finals to Belgium despite being one of the pre-tournament favourites.

If the move is completed, it will be a record-fee for a goalkeeper.

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