With questions remaining over who could be Manchester United’s main striker, the Sky Sports pundits discuss three options – Edinson Cavani, Harry Kane, Erling Haaland.
Cavani produced a man-of-the-match performance in Man Utd’s 3-1 victory against Tottenham on Super Sunday, scoring the second goal in another away win.
At the other end, the afternoon was less fruitful for Kane, who is expected to tell Tottenham he wants to leave if they fail to qualify for the Champions League next season.
Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland is also attracting attention from across Europe, with United still looking for their next star striker.
Here, Man Utd manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gives an update on Cavani’s future, while Sky Sports pundits Roy Keane, Micah Richards and Jamie Redknapp discuss who United could target…
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Ole: We want Cavani to stay
When asked by Sky Sports’ Geoff Shreeves if he would like Cavani to stay at Man Utd, Solskjaer said: “That’s up to Eddie. He knows my feelings, I know his feelings.
“He hasn’t made up his mind yet and I understand that it has been a difficult year for everyone but for a new lad who doesn’t speak English, not to feel the English culture to go and see people, have friends around, it’s in the back of your head if this is what you want.
“You can’t have your family over, so fingers crossed, if he decides it’s just this season, we have been very fortunate to have him here.”
Solskjaer later added: “It was a fantastic performance, I’ve said a couple of things about Edinson today, that we are awaiting his decision, if he wants to stay or move on. Of course, a performance like today, as a club we have missed for a few years.
“We have not had that type of No 9 for a long, long spell. We can see the boys played a little bit to his strengths as well.
“We’ve had up front and honest meetings. There’s no secret, we want to keep him… He’s contemplating and thinking hard and long about what he wants to do, and I understand. He knows what I want, him at Old Trafford at the Stretford End scoring a diving header, there’s not a better feeling. So let’s wait and see.”
Keane: Kane will fancy United
Sky Sports’ Roy Keane:
“Ole has made it clear that they are trying to keep Cavani with the option of another year. But he’s an experienced player, you have got to respect that and Ole made some good points that there’s been a lot going on in the background with Covid and family situations, moved to a new country.
“There’s no doubting his quality. You might not get him for 40 or 50 games per season, but does Cavani then want to be a squad player? United have still got (Anthony) Martial and they are probably in the market for another striker, so lots goes into the mix.
“Today would have done him the world of good, playing in an important game and scoring, but there’s a big question mark. But I would love him to stay because he is great to watch.”
Do United need another striker?
“One hundred per cent. With Martial and his injury problems, you would not hang your hat on him, Cavani is pushing on [in age] and you would not expect him to be playing every week. If United want to get back to winning titles, they certainly need another striker.
“Kane, Haaland – I will take any of them. Maybe Haaland because of his age and the investment behind it, but I would not say no to Kane either if he was the second option.
“Kane will be looking at this United team and they have made progress over the last 12 months, but surely Kane will be thinking ‘I could be the main man at United up front’. With the service he would be getting, Kane must fancy United. I just have that feeling.
“If Kane is in the United team, night follows day [with trophies]. Man Utd have closed the gap on City and Kane would be another huge step, although City are going to buy as well, of course. And maybe Kane does not want to go abroad, maybe he likes playing in England, he knows the league inside out. Man United are still a huge pull.”
Richards: Kane would do the business straight away
Sky Sports’ Micah Richards:
“Haaland has got resale value because he is so young. But if you want someone who you know is going to do the business straight away, you do not think further than Kane.
“You see him today, he’s very frustrated at times in this team, but on the Man United counter-attack, I think he would be perfect.
“It’s not fair for me to say Kane should be going to United – he’s a Spurs player at this moment in time and he needs to focus on that because that’s the most important thing. He wants to get them into the Champions League and if he doesn’t, you can have the conversation at the end of the year.
“If you are going to leave Spurs, Kane would surely go anywhere in the world or you would pick somewhere you were guaranteed trophies because United are still in that rebuilding stage. If I am Kane, in the form that I am in, I would be going to the team that is going to get the most trophies.
“City have won four Premier League trophies in the last 10 years. If it was an option, why would you pick a rebuilding stage, when it’s a rebuilding stage at Spurs?”
Redknapp: You would be delighted with Kane or Haaland
Sky Sports’ Jamie Redknapp:
“United have good young players with Rashford and Greenwood, Kane might fit because he has that bit more experience, especially if you were to lose Cavani.
“For other teams, they might look at Haaland, maybe Man City having lost Aguero, you might go for someone younger. But they are both lovely players, whichever one you get, you would be delighted with.
“But I think a centre-back is more important for them right now.”
Manchester United are hoping to raise funds from player sales to help finance a move for Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland.
According to We All Follow United via Express, the Red Devils are planning to sell Jesse Lingard and either David de Gea or Dean Henderson, to raise £70m in the summer. The money will then be invested in bringing the Norwegian striker to Old Trafford.
Manchester United have reportedly made Haaland their number one target ahead of the summer, but Dortmund have slapped an astronomical fee on the player. The Norwegian has been on a brilliant run of form since his move to the Bundesliga side. Haaland has scored 47 goals in 48 games since joining Dortmund from RB Leipzig in January of 2020.
Haaland is the target-man Ole Gunnar Solskjaer desires at Old Trafford, even though the player has already rejected Manchester United on two occasions in the past.
However, the Black and Yellows want a fee of over £100m for the Norwegian, which could be a problem for the Red Devils. Interestingly, Haaland’s £70m release clause will only come into effect in the summer of 2022.
Solskjaer has already revealed that Manchester United will not be able to spend freely in the transfer market due to the financial repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the Red Devils are planning to raise funds from the sales of Jesse Lingard and one of their goalkeepers.
The Englishman has impressed while on loan with West Ham United and could be allowed to leave for around £20m. The Hammers are reportedly desperate to sign the player on a permanent deal, which will work in Manchester United’s favor.
The Red Devils could also sell one of De Gea and Henderson in the summer, with the Englishman currently valued at £50m. Paul Pogba could also be allowed to leave unless he signs a contract extension at the end of the season. Manchester United, however, are eager to retain the Frenchman.
Funds raised from player sales will help the Red Devils compete with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea, who are also monitoring Haaland.
Manchester United want to end the season on a high note
Manchester United are currently second in the Premier League and are also in the final of the UEFA Europa League final, where they will face Villarreal on 26 May. The Red Devils have five games remaining in the Premier League and will want to end the season on a high nite despite their congested fixture list.
When Day 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft concluded, several first-round talents had yet to be taken. Many viewers were shocked to see names like Asante Samuel Jr., Teven Jenkins, Trevon Moehrig, Jevon Holland, Christian Barmore, and Levi Onwuzurike still available after 32 picks. However, the most notable exception from the Day 1 selections was Notre Dame linebacker, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.
According to multiple reports, JOK dropped on many teams’ draft boards because of a “heart issue that came up late in the process,” per Adam Schefter. That sounds serious. That definitely warrants teams being skeptical of selecting him, right? Well, here’s the thing…..JOK had already been cleared by medical professionals prior to the draft. After selecting Owusu-Koramoah with the 52nd overall pick, Browns GM Andrew Berry said “He’s completely healthy. There’s nothing really in his background that would suggest he can’t have a nice, long career.”
JOK’s talent is obvious to everyone. The selection has been universally praised by damn near everyone. I mean, he’s a linebacker with slot cornerback speed. That will always be a valued asset in the National Football League. Despite being the 23rd defensive player taken in the draft, most sites give Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah top-5 odds to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in the upcoming NFL season. Some sites believe JOK should be the top choice for the award. JOK won the Dick Butkus Award in 2020, awarded each season to college football’s best linebacker (other notable recipients of the award include Patrick Willis, Von Miller, Luke Kuechly, and Devin White). He also earned the distinction of 1st team All-American, 1st Team All-ACC, and ACC Defensive Player of the Year. With a resume like that, it makes you wonder why any team would wait until Day 2 of the NFL Draft to take the 21-year-old despite the health concern.
Other prospects with more serious injury concerns haven’t fallen nearly as far in the past. Take Jaylen Waddle, the number 6 overall selection in the most recent NFL Draft. Waddle, a former Alabama wide receiver, missed almost the entire 2020 college football season with a fractured right ankle. Ankle injuries are particularly worrisome for wide receivers as being able to push off your foot and change direction on a dot are keys to getting open. However, that injury didn’t hurt Waddle’s draft stock. In fact, Waddle went before his teammate and 2020 Heisman Trophy winner, DeVonta Smith. Smith did suffer a dislocated finger, but that injury barely kept him out of one game.
Even more egregious is the NFL’s concern over JOK compared to guys with non-drug related off-field issues. Prior to the draft, Alabama quarterback Mac Jones was held in high regard for his good decision-making. Now, I think we all can agree that drinking and driving is never a good decision to make. So, why didn’t that hurt Jones’s draft stock at all?
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Maybe comparing quarterbacks to linebackers is a bit of a stretch — apples to oranges. So then let’s compare JOK to another recent linebacker with an injury history. Reuben Foster had a torn right rotator cuff surgically repaired two months before the 2017 NFL Draft. He also had a history of aggressive behavior and anger management issues, even having to be removed from the 2017 NFL Combine after getting into an altercation with one of the medical staff on the premises. Foster did fall in the draft, but was still selected in the first round with the 31st pick by the San Francisco 49ers. Foster fell approximately 10-15 spots from where he was projected. Owusu-Koramoah, despite having no such history with surgeries or aggression, and after playing every single game for Notre Dame last season, fell approximately 35-40 spots.
It boggles my mind that a player everyone knew was fantastic and every fan, analyst, and general manager acknowledges as an incredible talent, would drop so far for such a minor health concern. Coming into the draft, Owusu-Koramoah was my number one defensive prospect. I am still absolutely confident that he will win Defensive Rookie of the Year. And when he does, hopefully teams won’t pass on the next guy to play an incredible season of football with a seemingly resolved health issue in their past.
It’s the hope that kills you and after what has been an extremely difficult season for Tottenham, they were given a glimmer of hope on Friday evening with Newcastle victory at Leicester.
It pushed open the door to Champions League football for interim boss Ryan Mason and his side, who could have gone two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and four behind third-placed with victory at Leeds.
However, Mason’s side spurned a golden opportunity to put pressure on the sides above them, turning in a rather lacklustre display at Elland Road.
They failed to match Leeds’ intensity and it proved crucial as Spurs lost a fifth away defeat in 2021, more than they suffered throughout the whole of 2020 (W6 D7 L4).
Now, Spurs’ Champions League hopes are hanging by a thread and they will almost certainly be looking over their shoulders with games against Wolves, Aston Villa and Leicester to come.
European football could go down as far as seventh, but with Everton, Arsenal, and now Leeds, fighting to finish as high as they can, Mason has a huge job to make sure Spurs’ season does not end with a whimper.
What has already been a poor season by Spurs’ standards, could end disastrously if they fail to secure any European football whatsoever and it could be the difference between keeping a certain Harry Kane. Oli Yew
Chelsea: Premier League title contenders 2021/22?
First they ended the Quadruple dream. Then they delayed the title party. Will they shatter Manchester City’s Champions League hopes on May 29, too?
Chelsea will be going for a hat-trick of wins over City in Istanbul later this month but, as Thomas Tuchel rightly pointed out, we shouldn’t link Chelsea’s comeback win at the Etihad too strongly with the Champions League final.
After all, City made nine changes for Saturday’s match. Kevin De Bruyne wasn’t even in the squad. And on Chelsea’s side, Mason Mount, Thiago Silva, and Ben Chilwell are all likely to start the final.
But these back-to-back wins over City and, more importantly, Chelsea’s improvement since Tuchel took charge is certainly enough evidence for us to start to consider whether the west London side could well be City’s strongest challengers in the Premier League next season.
Liverpool, with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez fit, will be back in contention. Manchester United – especially if they invest again this summer – should step up a level, too. But it seems certain Chelsea will be in the title race picture as well.
Defences are the foundation to any Premier League challenge and Tuchel has remedied Chelsea’s vulnerability, with the Blues keeping 18 clean sheets in his 25 games. In midfield, there are a variety of options to use around N’Golo Kante, who is back to his best. A clinical striker will be on the shopping list this summer but Chelsea have an abundance of wide forwards to pick from.
And in Tuchel, they have a world class manager who knows how to win big titles and big matches.
The pieces are all coming together for Chelsea to be Premier League title contenders again for the first time since 2017.
Predicting whether they will come out on top in a one-off game with City later this month isn’t easy. But over the course of 38 games in 2021/22 there will be a growing confidence in the camp that they could get the better of Pep Guardiola’s side again. Peter Smith
Can Leeds sneak into Europe?
Another day, another ‘Big Six’ side frustrated at Leeds.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side put in another exceptional display against one of the Premier League’s traditional top-six sides, and they are the first team to remain unbeaten at home in a Premier League season against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Spurs since West Ham in 2015-16.
While the result is a huge blow to Spurs’ top-four hopes, it keeps Leeds’ slim chances of European football next season alive.
Victory saw Bielsa’s side move into the top half and up to ninth in the table. While it is still a big ask for them to qualify for Europe, it is not out of the question, especially with winnable games against Burnley, Southampton and West Brom left.
With a seventh-place finish in the Premier League looking likely to secure a place in next season’s Europa Conference League, Leeds still have plenty of work to do as they look to make up a four-point gap to Liverpool in seventh, having also played two more games than Jurgen Klopp’s side.
They will certainly need three wins and of course, other results to go their way, but stranger things have happened in what has been arguably the most unpredictable Premier League season in history.
While Leeds fans will be beyond delighted with their performances this season, securing a European tour against all the odds in the final few games would just cap a sensational season for the Premier League newcomers. Oli Yew
Eze for Palace at Bramall Lane
What a joy it is to watch Eberechi Eze in this sort of mood.
The rain was relentless at Bramall Lane and so was the man whose services cost Crystal Palace the initial fee of only £16m last summer.
A goal, an assist, three key passes, five successful dribbles to make Sheffield United heads spin and five fouls drawn to gain his side set-piece advantage; this was a man-of-the-match display bursting with artistic impression as well as technical prowess.
He had starred back in January against the Blades when the 2-0 scoreline was equally misleading, riding half-challenges and leaving helplessly outstretched legs in his wake before finding the finish.
Here he did the same, treating John Lundstram’s paltry efforts at the touchline with contempt before gliding through more home mannequins to beat Aaron Ramsdale via John Fleck.
Between his elegant runs, there were tidy touches and forward-thinking passes but always the smell of menace. Only Wilfried Zaha has been directly involved in more Palace goals than his nine this term.
“It is his first season coming up from the Championship and you expect people to need time to adjust and play at this level,” said Roy Hodgson and yet Eze, in a side that usually prizes structure over creative freedom, looks right at home.
“We know that’s the quality he possesses and we encourage it. He was bold with the ball today and drove forward at every opportunity.
“If you ask me if I’m happy with Eberechi Eze, I say absolutely.”
No wonder. How well that money seems spent; Eze is a real talent and much more looks likely to come. Kate Burlaga
Willock thriving away from troubles at Arsenal
Friday Night Football brought a result of huge significance at both ends of the Premier League table. Newcastle moved to within a point of guaranteed safety with three games remaining against an out-of-sorts Leicester.
Barely a month ago, the prospect of that being so seemed very remote. But Steve Bruce’s side have won as many points in their last five matches as they managed in their 15 games prior to a run that has coincided with the blossoming of Joe Willock on Tyneside.
How Arsenal could have done with the in-form youngster on Thursday night as their season was left in ruins by their Europa League exit. Since Willock moved to St James’ Park on loan in February, he has scored five Premier League goals for the Magpies – in that time, no player from his parent club has managed to score more goals than him in the competition.
🔥 Joe Willock is the first Newcastle player to score in 4 successive PL appearances since Papiss Cisse who did so in 6 between March-April 2012 pic.twitter.com/cwiQuJhXcD
The Gunners’ loss is certainly Newcastle’s gain, with Willock making it four goals in as many games to spark this impressive 4-2 victory at the King Power Stadium.
“Going away from London, from my boyhood club wasn’t easy for me, it was a big move for me to come here,” he told Sky Sports after another fearless display, typified by the way he took his goal. “To come and be welcomed by the lads so easily, and learn so much from the staff and manager, it’s a blessing. I’m glad I can contribute with my goals.”
At 21 years and 260 days, Willock became the youngest player to score in four consecutive Premier League appearances for the club, and he is also the youngest player to score in four consecutive Premier League appearances since Marcus Rashford back in January 2019.
Steve Bruce was delighted with the midfielder, saying: “We’ve said before the game, he’s forced his way onto the pitch by what he’s done as a substitute. For an hour until he tired he was excellent. He’s a smashing young player, I think that’s his fifth goal for us, that’s a wonderful return since he joined in January.”
Ahead of a daunting climax to their season, Leicester must embrace the challenge in the same way Willock has welcomed his time away from the troubles at Arsenal. Ben Grounds
More Leicester heartbreak feels within sight
Will it happen again? Is Leicester’s top-four hoodoo beckoning for a second season? A couple of weeks ago, you would have said no chance. Now, it’s not so certain.
The Foxes missed Jonny Evans like a lost limb but even without their defensive ‘brain’, as Brendan Rodgers put it, they were an absolute shambles in a humiliating defeat to Newcastle on Friday.
Caglar Soyuncu looked like he had put his boots on the wrong way round. Timothy Castagne played the role of a man being played out of position perfectly. Leicester’s back three was always going to be damaged without Evans, but they were worryingly rudderless as no one took over that leadership void.
“It’s still in our hands,” said Rodgers after the game. Leicester still have to travel to Manchester United and Chelsea either side of an FA Cup final next Saturday.
Fifth-placed West Ham could be two points off the Foxes by the end of this gameweek, and have a relatively straightforward run-in on paper against sides without the same rewards to play for.
Even being in the mix this late on in the season for a Champions League spot is impressive for Leicester over the course of a season.
But if they fall at the final hurdle for the second year in a row, this one will hurt a lot more than the first time around. Ron Walker
Blades need clarity and big character
Paul Heckingbottom declared himself “angry” at Sheffield United’s first-half display in a miserable rout by Tottenham last week but his words drew little response against a Crystal Palace side who will have fewer more comfortable afternoons despite a scoreline that long belied their dominance.
It hardly helped that the long-beaten hosts were familiarly behind after just 66 seconds, Eberechi Eze – as he had at Selhurst Park in January – allowed to swagger through gaps and over casually draped legs.
But on a day when the gloom stretched across the city, Wednesday’s relegation on a dramatic final day in the Championship meaning a first double drop in a season – this was another limp, leaden display; a painful reminder of a striking slump and a warning about the road ahead.
Heckingbottom, recruited by Chris Wilder, is respected at the club. He has been viewed as a credible permanent successor behind the scenes, a figure, crucially, more likely amenable when it comes to budgets and remits.
But the Blades have lost six of his seven league games in charge, conceding 18 goals, scoring just two and seeming ever more sapped of spirit and identity as a dangerous state of limbo has rumbled on. Here, they failed to manage a shot on target.
“I have no concerns, regardless of what anyone says,” said Heckingbottom when asked about worries that the misery of this term could roll into the next. “Totally different league, totally different season.”
Only time will tell how quickly psychological wounds left open for so long will heal.
But plotting the path after Wilder requires a big character sure of his convictions, able to re-organise and re-energise. The club’s next appointment will likely set the tone for more than just next season. Kate Burlaga