I’ll show Mourinho I’m ready, says Man United’s Pereira

Manchester United midfielder Andreas Pereira is determined to win a place in Jose Mourinho’s first-team plans after an “important” loan spell with Valencia.

The 22-year-old moved to Mestalla during the transfer window a year ago and made 23 appearances in La Liga last season.

Mourinho criticised Pereira for the move at the time and there was some doubt as to whether he would give the Belgium youth international a chance to impress on his return.

However, the player himself insists his time in Spain was positive and is now focused on earning a spot in the United set-up before the Premier League season begins next month.

“It was a very important year for me at Valencia and I learned a lot,” Pereira told United’s official website. “I had a lot of experiences out there and I am very happy to be back. I am ready to play.

“This pre-season is very important for the team. We have to prepare very well for what is coming up next and I am doing my best to get minutes, and to show that I am ready.”

Pereira suggested he expects to play as a central midfielder for United after speaking with Mourinho about his preferred position.

He is now doing his best to learn from assistant coach Michael Carrick, who retired at the end of last season after 12 years as a player at Old Trafford.

“The manager asked me what position I will play and I said I will play any position he would like,” Pereira said. “Now, I am in this position as a number six. I will try to do my best and of course everyone is helping me a lot, including the manager, by telling me what to do. 

“Carrick is also helping me in every training session and it is very important. It is not only them, but all of the other coaches as well. They’re helping me a lot and I am learning new things every day.

“Michael was one of the best [central midfielders] in the world and one of the best that Manchester United ever had. He gives me tips, he tells me in training what to do and it is very easy when he tells you. You pick it up straight away and it is very easy to learn from him.”

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Pogba, Mbappe, Griezmann? Deschamps sees World Cup stars in Ballon d’Or contention

Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Raphael Varane should all be in the running for the Ballon d’Or, says France’s World Cup-winning coach Didier Deschamps.

Deschamps followed up his 1998 success as a player by leading Les Bleus to glory at Russia 2018, his side beating Croatia 4-2 in a thrilling final in Moscow.

Mbappe claimed the tournament’s best young player award following that success, the Paris Saint-Germain teenager having scored four World Cup goals, including a peach in the final.

Atletico Madrid’s Europa League final hero Griezmann matched that tally while Pogba and Varane – a Champions League winner with Real Madrid – produced commanding performances throughout the knockout rounds.

Deschamps insisted a France star should be in contention for the Ballon d’Or, breaking a 10-year run of dominance from Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, but would not name his favourite for the prize.

“He’s a potential candidate for the Ballon d’Or, yes, he deserves it,” Deschamps told L’Equipe of Griezmann. “It’s not just him, but he deserves it. The Ballon d’Or, that would be a very good thing.

“We’ve seen so many times, there are two who are still there… Come on, even three, you have Messi, Ronaldo with everything they represent in the world and what they do. Neymar too, even if he arrives behind.

“Does Raphael Varane deserve it? Of course he deserves it. Will it be him? A defender, yes, but in general it’s an attacker. I especially hope that it will be a French player due to the fact that it’s a World Cup year and they are world champions.

“Kylian, he’s only 19 years old, we’ll say he has time [to win the Ballon d’Or]. But there is also what he does. Being so important and effective at age 19, it is out of the ordinary.

“Paul, with the World Cup he’s had… Do not ask me who I prefer.”

Griezmann was third in the 2016 Ballon d’Or, with Kaka’s success in 2007 the last time Messi or Ronaldo did not claim the prize.

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‘Welbeck is a £15m bargain!’ – Parlour expects ‘so many clubs’ to be in for Arsenal outcast

Danny Welbeck is likely to attract plenty of interest this summer, says Ray Parlour, with the Arsenal outcast considered to be a bargain at £15 million ($20m).

Goal revealed on Wednesday that the England international is among those the Gunners are prepared to part with during the current transfer window.

Welbeck has endured an injury-ravaged four-year stint at Emirates Stadium, as fitness issues prevented him from nailing down a regular starting spot.

He is, however, a proven Premier League performer with 40 caps and 16 goals for his country to his name.

As a result, former Arsenal midfielder Parlour believes Welbeck will be a much sought-after talent once a scramble for his signature is sparked, telling talkSPORT: “I think people forget he’s only 27.

“[He’s been around forever,] that’s why people forget that he’s so young.

“He should be in his prime now, he needs to play on a regular basis and whether he’s going to get that opportunity, I don’t think he will at Arsenal with the players in front of him.

“But, again, he’ll sit down with the manager, and maybe do a Jack Wilshere, maybe he says: ‘Look, you’re further down the pecking order.’

“He’s got so many players in front of him that he might want to play first-team football.

Danny Welbeck Arsenal

“With the money bounding around now for players, like £50m-plus for not brilliant players, but average players, then £15m you’d think: ‘I’d take that chance.’

“I think he’s great for the dressing room. I think he’s a real lively guy, Danny.

“I’m sure that when he came to Arsenal… I was speaking to Vic Akers, the kit man, and he said: ‘He’s really lively and the energy’s much better in the dressing room now.’

“So he can bring that to the team as well. But I think that so many clubs would be in for Danny Welbeck.”

Welbeck has made 290 club appearances to date, netting 63 goals.

The 2017-18 campaign was his most productive as an Arsenal player, as he took in 43 outings across all competitions and netted 10 times

He has, however, never been prolific since emerging out of Manchester United’s academy system to sign a first professional contract in 2007.

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Mina planning Barcelona stay in blow to Everton

Yerry Mina admits he has received offers but would prefer to stay at Barcelona and win over head coach Ernesto Valverde.

The Colombia international confirmed this week he had been in touch with Everton about the prospect of a transfer to the Premier League.

The 23-year-old made just five La Liga appearances last season and only two of those ended in Barca victories, while his performance in the shock 5-4 defeat to Levante drew plenty of criticism.

Mina is determined to prove his doubters wrong but says he will make a decision on his future after his post-World Cup break.

“I have offers but I want to succeed at Barca,” he told reporters in Colombia.

“Right now, I’m enjoying my holidays and, when the time comes, I’ll decide with my family what’s best for everyone.”

Mina joined Barca from Palmeiras for €11.8million (£11m/$14m) in January, signing a five-and-a-half-year contract that includes a €100m (£89m/$117m) release clause.

He scored three goals in three appearances at the World Cup for Colombia, who were knocked out on penalties by England at the last-16 stage.

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Champions League 2018-19: Favourites, outsiders, underdogs, qualified teams & fixtures

Champions League group stage football isn’t far off now as Real Madrid look to clinch a sensational fourth title in a row – though will need to ready for life without star striker Cristiano Ronaldo.

They remain one of the favourites to lift the trophy once again alongside the big-name likes of Manchester City, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, but last year’s runners-up Liverpool and semi-finalists Roma showed that unfancied sides can go far in the tournament still too.

Goal brings you all the details of the favourites, underdogs and outsiders ahead of the upcoming Champions League season, as well as all the teams who have already qualified and when fixtures will be played.


Favourites to win the 2018-19 Champions League


Manchester City have emerged as strong favourites to win the first Champions League this season after falling gloriously short of the trophy in previous years. They have odds of 11/2 to lift the trophy according to bet365 , and finished as quarter-finalists in the competition last season after being eliminated by eventual runners-up Liverpool.

Pep Guardiola has experience winning the trophy with Barcelona and will be eager to repeat the success with Man City. He will also be looking to push on from the success of winning the Premier League in his second season in charge.

Barcelona are 5/1 favourites to win the Champions League this season, last winning the tournament in 2015 after beating Juventus 3-1 in the final. This season will be the first in which star striker Lionel Messi takes on the captain’s armband, inheriting the honour from Andres Iniesta who left the club to join Japanese side Vissel Kobe.

The event of Portuguese megastar Cristiano Ronaldo joining Juventus this summer in a sensational €100m has put the Italian side as 7/1 favourites to win the Champions League. Ronaldo joins the Serie A team off the backs of three consecutive European Cup wins and five in total and will no doubt provide to be instrumental in their run-up to European glory.

Defending champions Real Madrid are priced at 13/2   to repeat their success this season, having won the competition for the last three years running – and would put them on course to win a fourth European title in a row, which has never before been done. Madrid, however, are currently a side in transition having recently replaced manager Zinedine Zidane with Julen Lopetegui and still aiming to fill the striker void that Ronaldo left behind. 

Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain have odds of 7/1  to win the Champions League after exiting the competition at the hands of eventual winners Real Madrid in the last 16 stage, ruing the loss of star forward Neymar. The French side will doubtless be buoyed by the strengths of Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani leading the line, helmed by new manager Thomas Tuchel.


2018-19 Champions League underdogs


Though Liverpool finished runners-up in the competition last year and made huge strides to get to the final, overcoming the likes of Manchester City and Roma, they are priced at 14/1 to win the competition outright this season.

They could very well emerge as underdogs once again this year after their second-placed finish, however, what with manager Jurgen Klopp making enormous waves in the transfer window this summer to bolster almost every aspect of their attack, signalling their intent. Having just signed the likes of midfielder duo Fabinho and Naby Keita for £90 million, Klopp also added Xherdan Shaqiri for £13m and broke their record transfer fee for Brazilian shot-stopper Alisson for £66m.

Bayern Munich are priced at 8/1 to win the Champions League after being eliminated by Real Madrid at the semi-final stage in last season’s competition. Niko Kovac takes the reins of the Bundesliga giants who will be looking to lift their first European Cup since 2013, when they won against German rivals Borussia Dortmund in the final.

Atletico Madrid are another underdog in Europe, priced at 14/1 to win the competition. The La Liga side won the Europa League last season and will be looking to push on for Champions League success – having finished as runners-up in the competition to none other than local rivals Real Madrid on two occasions, in 2014 and 2016. They will be bolstered by star Antoine Griezmann committing his future with the club amid talks of a move to Barcelona, and have added depth in Thomas Lemar.

Manchester United are tipped at 14/1 to lift the trophy as the Red Devils approach Jose Mourinho’s infamous ‘third season’ with the side. They crashed out disappointingly to Sevilla in the last 16 stage and will be eager to win the competition for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge of the club.


2018-19 Champions League outsiders


AS Roma Barcelona Champions League 2017-18

Tottenham are outside favourites to win the Champions League, priced at 25/1 to win the competition. Mauricio Pochettino’s side did well in the group stage, placing first ahead of Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, but failed to see out Juventus on home turf in the knockout phase.

Odds of Napoli winning the European competition are at 40/1,  and will be rocked by the departure of coach Maurizio Sarri who guided them to a second-place finish in Serie A.

Roma are also priced at  40/1  to be crowned European champions and will also be dealt with a blow following the major loss of goalkeeper Alisson to Liverpool, who kept them in the tie when they played out a narrow 4-3 semi-final tie on aggregate. They shocked the world last season when they eliminated Barcelona in the quarter-final stage after losing 4-1 in the first leg, progressing to the last four based on away goals.


2018-19 Champions League qualified teams


The final play-off round will be contested starting the week of August 21-22, with the group stage set to commence on August 30.

The draw for the group stage will take place on August 30.

Qualified teams      
Real Madrid Borussia Dortmund Roma Porto
Atletico Madrid Manchester City Inter Shakhtar Donetsk
Barcelona Manchester United Paris Saint-Germain Club Brugge
Valencia Tottenham Monaco Galatasaray
Bayern Munich Liverpool Lyon Viktoria Plzen
Schalke Juventus Lokomotiv Moscow CSKA Moscow
Hoffenheim Napoli TBC TBC
TBC TBC TBC TBC

Champions League 2018-19 fixtures


The preliminary round kicked off on June 12 with the lowest-ranked sides to have qualified for the continental club competition, which was followed by a first qualifying round in the first half of July.

The second qualifying round for the Champions League group stage – which will be followed by a third round and a play-off round.

UCL fixtures – second qualifying round Leg 1 Leg 2
Astana vs Midtjylland July 24 Aug 1
Ludogorets Razgrad vs Vidi July 25 Aug 1
Kukesi vs Qarabag July 25 Aug 1
CFR Cluj vs Malmo FF July 24 Aug 1
Dinamo Zagreb vs Hapoel Be’er Sheva July 24 July 31
Red Star Belgrade vs Suduva Marijampole July 24 Aug 1
BATE Borisov vs HJK July 25 Aug 1
Shkendija vs Sheriff Tiraspol July 24 July 31
Legia Warsaw vs Spartak Trnava July 24 July 31
Celtic vs Rosenborg July 25 Aug 1
PAOK vs Basel July 24 Aug 1
Ajax vs Sturm Graz July 25 Aug 1

Red Bull Salzburg, AEK Athens, Benfica, Dynamo Kyiv, Fenerbahce, Spartak Moscow, Standard Liege and Slavia Prague will enter the competition in the third qualifying round.

PSV and Young Boys are the only entrants to the Champions League in the final knockout phase, the play-off round, before the group stage. Unlike previous season, teams from major European leagues don’t have to compete for a spot in the groups as they’ve been given automatic qualification by UEFA.


Champions League 2018-19 – Route to Final


The final of next season’s Champions League will be played at the home of Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano, on June 1. 

Phase Round Draw date First leg Second leg
Preliminary Preliminary round Jun 12 Jun 26 (semi-final round) 29 Jun (final round)
Qualifying First qualifying round Jun 19 Jul 10-11 Jul 17-18
Second qualifying round Jul 24-25 31 Jul-1 Aug    
Third qualifying round Jul 23 Aug 7-8 Aug 14  
Play-off Play-off round Aug 6 Aug 21-22 Aug 28-29
Group stage Matchday 1 Aug 30 Sept 18-19  
  Matchday 2 Aug 30 Oct 2-3  
  Matchday 3 Aug 30 Oct 23-24  
  Matchday 4 Aug 30 Nov 6-7  
  Matchday 5 Aug 30 Nov 27-28  
  Matchday 6 Aug 30 Dec 11-12  
Knockout phase Round of 16   Feb 12-13 & 19-20 Mar 5-6 & 12-13
  Quarter-finals   Apr 9-10 Apr 16-17
  Semi-finals Apr 19 Apr 30-May 1 May 7-8
  Final   Jun 1  

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