Cody Gakpo discusses potential Man Utd move amid failed summer transfer

Cody Gakpo has admitted he ‘thought about’ Manchester United in the summer and would consider them again if they approached him once more.

The Netherlands star was the subject of interest from United late in the summer transfer window with a move for Antony looking increasingly unlikely. However, United went back to Ajax and met their demands to get the deal done for the Brazilian, meaning a move for the Dutchman didn’t materialise.

He’s since enjoyed a stellar World Cup campaign in Qatar and alerted top clubs to his services as a result, one of which is United once again. 90min understands United have been further convinced of his qualities as a result of his showings in the Middle East, with Erik ten Hag pushing for him to be signed.

But Gakpo himself has broken the silence on the matter, revealing to Dutch outlet NRC: “I haven’t heard from Manchester United yet. If they come, I will think about it with God’s help.”

He added: “I thought about Man Utd last summer, but when that didn’t happen, I didn’t know anymore. Then Leeds arrived, I had doubts…now I wait and see.”

Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders, Sean Walsh, Ali Rampling and Brian Goldfarb to look back on the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil – join us!

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A move to the Premier League still appeared to be on the table after United backed off, with Leeds and Southampton showing interest, but Gakpo opted to stay put at PSV Eindhoven.

The 23-year-old headed into the World Cup with the Netherlands off the back of scoring 13 goals and assisting 17 times in all competitions for PSV in the first half of the season and has continued his excellent form for the Oranje.

Gakpo currently has three goals from four games in Qatar and has the chance to add to that impressive tally against Argentina in the quarter-final on December 9.

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D.C. United sign Iraq National Team defender Mohanad Jeahze from Hammarby IF

D.C. United have signed Iraq National Team defender Mohanad Jeahze from Swedish first division team Hammarby IF. 

He joins on a three-year deal through the 2025 Major League Soccer season with an option in 2026, pending receipt of his P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC). 

The deal was completed using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM), and stands as a Special Discovery signing for D.C. United.

“Mohanad has proven himself to be one of the best left backs in the Nordics over the last two years and we are delighted to have a player of his quality join D.C. United,” Dave Kasper, D.C. United President of Soccer Operations, said. 

“Our style of play requires our outside backs to have high energy levels, technical ability, and excellent service in the final third and Mohanad ticks all of these boxes. He will be an excellent complement to our core group as we look to continue building out our roster for 2023.”

He arrived after spending the previous three seasons with Swedish powerhouse Hammarby IF, where he managed five goals and 19 assists in 89 overall appearances. He also spent one season with Mjällby AIF, recording three goals and five assists in 43 games across all competitions. 

Jeahze stands as a product of the IFK Norrköping Academy in Sweden and signed his first professional contract with the club on June 20, 2016 at 19-years-old, before seeing stints elsewhere. 

Internationally, the defender has represented the Iraq National Team since his debut on November 11, 2021. He has made four appearances for Iraq, overall, last featuring in the 2-2 against Lebanon in a World Cup qualifier on February 1, 2022. 

The defender stands as the first international signing of the offseason under new D.C. United head coach Wayne Rooney.

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Columbus Crew GM outlines why it was ‘impossible’ not to hire Wilfried Nancy

From the moment Caleb Porter cleared his office, the Columbus Crew only ever had their sights set on one man: Wilfried Nancy.

The Frenchman worked wonders as head coach of CF Montreal after taking over from Thierry Henry in March 2021, lifting the 2021 Canadian Championship and leading the club all the way up to second in the Eastern Conference last season.

Overall, Nancy enjoyed a 37-25-17 record at Saputo Stadium but with a number of key players leaving this winter, including Djordje Mihailovic, Victor Wanyama, Alistair Johnston, and Ismael Kone, it was always going to be tough convincing him to stay.

For Columbus, that gave them a straight shot at their top target.

“What Wil has done with his prior club over the last two years, it would be impossible for him not to be the guy,” Columbus president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko told reporters at Nancy’s unveiling.

“You start with the team that had some players that other teams had passed [on]. You saw a person take those players and, you know, use that term ‘Coach them up’ to really get a cohesive unit, to see them work together, really play for something bigger than themselves.”

Bezbatchenko added: “The way that they played, it was attractive, it was entertaining, they were scoring goals, they had the ability to dictate the game.”

Equally, Nancy finds himself in a project purely focussed on growth and building for the future.

Whereas his Montreal team was stripped for parts following a period of success, his focus in Columbus will be to build a ‘legacy’ for the future at their state-of-the-art Lower.com Field stadium which debuted in 2022.

“When I came to the stadium [Lower.com Field] for the first time, when I stepped on the field, I got goosebumps. Simple as that,” Nancy said. “I come from Europe, and this stadium is better than some stadiums in Europe. The crowd, the way the stadium is.”

On the project awaiting him in Ohio, Nancy added: “We have to win games, but we need to develop people to leave … a legacy for the future. That’s why developing players is really important.

“… For me, in terms of MLS, this is one of the clubs, or maybe the club. There’s everything to do something great. So that’s why I came.”

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Raul ‘Potro’ Gutierrez signs contract extension with Cruz Azul

Raul ‘Potro’ Gutierrez will stay at Cruz Azul.

He signed a contract extension with the Liga MX side through December 31 2023, transitioning from interim manager to head coach.

Potro Gutierrez initially joined Cruz Azul amid the 2022 Apertura as a temporary solution, following the firing of Diego Aguirre. He originally served as the club’s Under 20 coach, before being promoted on an interim basis as the club searched for a permanent replacement. But his results were enough to convince Cruz Azul owners.

Aguirre departed the Mexico City team after the record-breaking 0-7 defeat against league rivals Club America, forcing Gutierrez to quickly take the helm.

He stood on the sidelines only one week after the historic loss, leading Cruz Azul to an overall 5W-1L-1D record to conclude the season in seventh on the table. The team triumphed 1-0 over Club Leon in the playoffs, before losing 3-0 against Monterrey in the quarterfinals.

But the expectations are high for the 2023 Clausura, as many expect Cruz Azul to return to its winning ways and a top four position in the league standings.

The new tournament kicks off on January 6.

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Morocco vs Portugal – World Cup quarter-final: Team news, lineups & prediction

Morocco line up against Portugal on Saturday afternoon for their first-ever World Cup quarter-final.

The Atlas Lions refused to be hypnotised by Spain’s thousand passes, denying La Roja a goal in normal time, extra time or even the penalty shootout.

If Morocco’s second-round success (and their whole tournament) was defined by defensive resolve, Portugal laid waste to Switzerland with a newfound attacking fluency discovered in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Here’s everything you need to know about the meeting between these two nations with contrasting strengths.

Morocco vs Portugal H2H Results (All Time)

Current Form (Last Five Games)

Morocco team news

Over the course of two hours of energy-sapping football against Spain, Morocco’s historic victory may have come at a price. Nayef Aguerd was forced off with a muscular complaint in the final exchanges of normal time. His centre-back partner, Romain Saiss, didn’t leave the pitch but required lengthy treatment to his thigh.

Both fullbacks – Achraf Hakimi and Noussair Mazraoui – have been carrying knocks through the tournament before recovering to feature while Sofyan Amrabat shook off a back problem to star against Spain.

Morocco Starting 11 (4-3-3): Bounou; Hakimi, El Yamiq, Benoun, Mazraoui; Ounahi, Amrabat, Amallah; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal.
Bench: Munir, Tagnaouti, Dari, Allah, Jabrane, Sabiri, El Khannouss, Abde, Zaroury, Aboukhlal, Cheddira, Hamdallah.

Portugal team news

Danilo Pereira has been stuck on the sidelines with his PSG teammate Nuno Mendes since damaging his ribs in training. Mendes was ruled out of the World Cup with a hamstring injury last month and Pereira is continuing his recovery.

Portugal Starting 11 (4-3-3): Costa; Dalot, Pepe, Dias, Guerreiro; Otavio, Carvalho, Bernardo; Fernandes, Ramos, Felix.
Bench: Patricio, Sa, Antonio Silva, Cancelo, Neves, Palhinha, Nunes, Vitinha, Mario, Horta, Leao, Ronaldo, Andre Silva.

Goncalo Ramos

It’s hard to see Portugal dropping Goncalo Ramos after his hat-trick / Markus Gilliar – GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

Team to win/progress

Portugal to win by exactly one goal – Six of Morocco’s last seven World Cup defeats have come by a single goal margin, while Portugal have won five of their last seven games in all competitions.

Portugal to progress – Before the 2022 tournament, only three African sides had reached the World Cup quarter final, with all three failing to progress to the semis.

Morocco to win/draw – Morocco are unbeaten in their last nine games in all competitions (W6 D3).

Score to be 0-0 after extra-time – Three of Morocco’s last six games in all competitions have finished goalless, including last time out against Spain.

Goals

Morocco clean sheet – Morocco have kept seven clean sheets in their last eight games in all
competitions, conceding just a single goal in their four World Cup matches so far.

Portugal clean sheet – Of teams through to the quarter finals, Morocco have scored the fewest goals (4), have the lowest expected goals (3.1), had the fewest shots on target (10), made the fewest touches in the opposition’s box (41) and averaged the lowest possession (32.3%).

Portugal over 2.5 goals – Portugal have scored 12 goals in four games at the 2022 World Cup (3 per
game over average), only netting more in a single tournament back in 1966 (17).

Under 2.5 total match goals – Six of Morocco’s last eight games in all competitions have seen two or
fewer goals.

Under 2.5 total match goals is currently 4/6*

Anytime scorers

Bruno Fernandes goal or assist – Before the start of the quarter finals, only Kylian Mbappe (7) has
been involved in more goals at the 2022 World Cup than Fernandes (5), while he’s either scored or assisted in each of his last four internationals.

Hakim Ziyech goal or assist – Hakim Ziyech has been involved in a third of all Morocco shots at the 2022 World Cup (10/30), leading the team in both shots (6) and chances created (4).

Goncalo Ramos anytime scorer & over two shots on target – Gonçalo Ramos has scored seven goals in his last four starts for club and country, registering five shots on target last time out against Switzerland.

Goncalo Ramos to score anytime for Portugal is currently 9/4*

Insights courtesy of Opta. Head to The Analyst Stats Hub for live group stage standings, top scores, match metrics, team stats and much more!

*Odds correct at time of publication. 18+. Please gamble responsibly. BeGambleAware.org

Yassine Bounou was the hero against Spain after saving two penalties in the shootout but he hasn’t been overworked in open play. Only two nations at the World Cup have conceded fewer shots on target than miserly Morocco.

Portugal were frighteningly ruthless going forward against the Swiss but it was an attacking display out of keeping with their tournament thus far – Portugal scored as many goals against Switzerland as they had mustered across the entire group stage.

Fernando Santos explained Ronaldo’s absence by reasoning that he “wanted a team that played with a lot of fluidity.” The European Championship winner certainly got that in a display which could cause this revered – but possibly weakened – Morocco rearguard plenty of problems.

Prediction: Morocco 1-2 Portugal

Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders, Sean Walsh, Ali Rampling and Brian Goldfarb to look back on the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download or listen to the episode in full!

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