Maguire? Alderweireld? Capello reveals who Mourinho really wanted

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho wanted to sign Inter defender Milan Skriniar and Napoli centre-half Kalidou Koulibably in the summer transfer window, claims Fabio Capello.

The Red Devils were heavily linked with several defensive targets prior to the last deadline passing.

They were ultimately left frustrated in that search, with no additions made to an area of their side which has sprung an unfortunate leak in the 2018-19 campaign.

Leicester star Harry Maguire was considered to have been their first choice, having starred for England at World Cup 2018, while Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld has seen a switch to Old Trafford mooted for some time.

Both are understood to have been considered by Mourinho, but his sights were also trained on Serie A as he sought to address supposed weaknesses by landing proven performers.

Ex-England boss Capello told Sky Sport Italia: “I met Mourinho during a meeting between managers last summer.

“He wanted to sign two defenders, one was Milan Skriniar, the other one was Koulibaly.”

With no fresh faces brought in, Mourinho has had to make do with those already at his disposal.

Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof have all seen game time, but a settled centre-half pairing is yet to be found.

United even experimented with Scotland international midfielder Scott McTominay in a three-man defensive unit during a trip to West Ham, but found themselves on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline.

It now remains to be seen whether Mourinho will still be at the helm by the time the next window opens.

His future at Old Trafford continues to be called into question, with various figures connected with United having had their say on whether the Portuguese should stay or go.

Paul Scholes has suggested that the Red Devils are being “embarrassed” by their current boss, but Ryan Giggs thinks he should be given time and Paul Ince believes underperforming players should be shouldering more of the blame.

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Champions League Winner Odds: Manchester City still favourites after dramatic win at Hoffenheim

A late winner from David Silva gave Manchester City victory at Hoffenheim and kept them as outright favourites to win the Champions League.

bet365 make City 9/2 (4.50) to lift the trophy at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid next May despite only taking three points from their opening two matches.

Whilst a 1-1 draw at Hoffenheim would not have been a disaster as such for Pep Guardiola’s men, it would have left them in a precarious position and certainly behind Barcelona in the outright market.

Lionel Messi Barcelona

Lionel Messi inspired Barca to a 4-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur and the Catalans are 5/1 (6.0) to claim their sixth Champions League title and break the hold of El Clasico rivals Real Madrid.

Available at 6/1 (7.0) are Juventus, who have eased to six points despite only having Cristiano Ronaldo for 29 minutes due to his early red card against Valencia.

Next in the betting is Liverpool at 8/1 (9.0) and backers will be hoping they up their game after a toothless performance in a 1-0 loss at Napoli means they have work to do to ensure they even reach the knockouts.

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A 1-1 draw at home to Ajax means Bayern Munich have slipped from 13/2 (7.50) down to 9/1 (10.0), whilst Paris Saint-Germain can also be backed at 9/1 (10.0) after their 6-1 mauling of Red Star Belgrade.

Current holders Real Madrid failed to score in the Champions League for the first time since April 2016 as they were stunned 1-0 by CSKA Moscow, prompting their odds to drop from 8/1 (9.0) to 10/1 (11.0).

Cross-city rivals Atletico are available at 12/1 (13.0) after taking maximum points from their opening two games, whilst Manchester United can be backed at a huge 40/1 (41.0) after an uninspiring stalemate with Valencia.

Betting Banner - Best BetCheck out the latest Champions League odds at bet365

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Real Madrid boost as Bale makes Wales squad after clear scan

Real Madrid have received a boost with Gareth Bale included in the Wales squad to face Spain and Republic of Ireland after a groin scan showed no sign of injury.

Bale went off at half-time in Madrid’s 0-0 draw against Atletico Madrid in La Liga last weekend and was left out for the surprise Champions League loss at CSKA Moscow on Tuesday.

Goal later revealed that the injury was not serious and he would be available to face Deportivo Alaves this weekend, which Giggs revealed the 29-year-old expects to be the case.

“He had a little groin strain, but the scan has come back clear. He expects to be involved at the weekend so that’s good,” said Giggs.

Bale could then feature against Madrid colleagues including Nacho Fernandez and Sergio Ramos when Spain visit Cardiff next Thursday, but the Wales boss was unwilling to make any guarantees over his selection.

He said: “I think every player’s motivation will be high for a number of reasons; playing for your country first and foremost, you’re playing against a very good team, it’s a chance to test yourself and it’s at a different stadium.

“With Gareth playing in Spain there will be added motivation for sure.

“I think every player will want to be involved in this game because it’s a fantastic game. It’s my decision. I’ll analyse the lads, what they’re like when they turn up.”

Wales squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace), Danny Ward (Leicester City), Adam Davies (Barnsley)

Defenders: Ashley Williams (Stoke City), James Chester (Aston Villa), Ben Davies (Tottenham), Chris Gunter (Reading), Connor Roberts (Swansea City), Chris Mepham (Brentford), Jazz Richards (Cardiff City), Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea), Paul Dummett (Newcastle United), Declan John (Swansea City)

Midfielders: Joe Allen (Stoke City), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), Andy King (Leicester City), David Brooks (Bournemouth), Matthew Smith (Twente, on loan from Manchester City)

Forwards: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Ben Woodburn (Sheffield United), Harry Wilson (Derby County), Tom Lawrence (Derby County), Sam Vokes (Burnley), George Thomas (Scunthorpe United), Tyler Roberts (Leeds United).

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Giggs warns sacking Mourinho will cause Man Utd more problems

Ryan Giggs has warned Manchester United that sacking Jose Mourinho would cause more problems than it would solve.

Talk of an imminent change in the Old Trafford dugout continues to build, with a four-game winless run seeing pressure piled onto the current man at the helm.

Various candidates are being mooted to fill Mourinho’s shoes should he be moved on, with the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pochettino all reported to be in the frame.

Giggs, though, believes that further disruption is the last thing that United need, with the club already onto their third manager since Sir Alex Ferguson slipped into retirement back in 2013.

The United legend and current Wales boss told reporters when asked if Mourinho should be relieved of his duties: “No. They’re going through a tough time at the moment.

“I said that last time, where do they go? Change now and you’ll be in the same position in a year or two years quite possibly.

“The problem of late has been forward planning. So just take stock, it’s a tough time, but my stance hasn’t changed.”

“I believe he should keep his job.”

Giggs’ comments stand in stark contrast to those of fellow ‘Class of ‘92’ star Paul Scholes, with the ex-United midfielder having held little back in his assessment of goings on under Mourinho.

He told BT Sport ahead of a goalless draw with Valencia in the Champions League which came on the back of a humbling 3-1 defeat at West Ham: “I’m actually slightly surprised that he survived after Saturday, the performance was that bad.

“He’s coming out in press conferences and he’s constantly having a go at players, he’s having a go at people above him because he’s not getting what he wants.

“I think his mouth is probably out of control and I think he’s embarrassing the club.”

Various other former United stars have also had their say on Mourinho’s situation, with Paul Ince accusing certain members of an underperforming squad of throwing their manager under the bus as they try to get him sacked.

It remains to be seen whether that will be the case again in the Red Devils’ next outing, with Newcastle due at Old Trafford on Saturday as they attempt to pile yet more misery on an out-of-sorts opponent.

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‘Messi has completed football’ – Winks honoured to play alongside ‘greatest ever’

Harry Winks hailed Lionel Messi as the ‘greatest ever’ after Barcelona dashed Tottenham’s Champions League hopes in Wednesday’s 4-2 win at Wembley.

Messi scored two and made two as Mauricio Pochettino’s team failed to recover from defeat in Milan two weeks ago, falling six points behind the top two in the race to qualify from Group B, and Winks believes his side were ultimately undone by the ‘exceptional’ Argentinean.

Spurs fell 2-0 behind inside the first half at Wembley before Harry Kane halved the arrears shortly after half time, only for Messi to restore Barca’s advantage with a close-range finish. Erik Lamela pulled one back for Tottenham before Messi added a fourth in the final minute.

Winks, who was starting in his first Champions League game of the season, played the full 90 minutes as he continues his rehabilitation from the ankle injury which kept him out of last season’s run-in, and afterwards spoke of his pride at having shared a pitch with the five-time Balon d’Or winner.

“I did enjoy it,” he told the Evening Standard. “To play against him was an honour. The result takes away a lot of the enjoyment from the game, but in years to come, when I look back and say I played against — in my opinion — the greatest player to ever play football, it will be a proud moment.

“It’s so difficult to reflect on that right now because we’ve lost and, ultimately, that’s the most important thing. I’m gutted.

“The only way I can really describe [facing him] is he’s just completed football. The man just knows where everybody is. His weight of pass is just exceptional. He’s just special. But everyone who has played against him has said the same thing for years.”

Winks made five Champions League appearances for Spurs last season on their run to the last-16 where they were eliminated by Juventus, and the 22-year-old England international, who broke into the first team at White Hart Lane in 2016, has relished the opportunity to learn from Europe’s finest as Tottenham seek to establish themselves as a regular presence on the continent.

“For me, it was special to play against a player like that. I learnt a lot from it. I’ll watch the game back and I’ll dissect my game. There were times when I gave the ball away sloppily, which wasn’t good enough.” 

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