Christian Pulisic has admitted to being a Manchester United fan and declined to rule out a future move from Borussia Dortmund to the Premier League.
The exciting 19-year-old American midfielder has emerged as one of the top young talents in world football, with admiring glances being shot in his direction from across Europe.
Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona are among those said to be monitoring his development, while United and Liverpool have been mentioned as possible landing spots in England.
A move to Old Trafford could certainly appeal to the US international, with Pulisic welcoming talk of interest from the Red Devils.
Quizzed by ESPN on whether he was a United supporter growing up, the talented teenager said: “Yeah, I was. I was definitely a big fan.
“Right now I am under contract with Dortmund and I’m not looking around or doing anything like that so I’m very focused there. But it’s cool to hear all this stuff.”
Pressed further on whether the opportunity to test himself in the Premier League is a challenge he would like to take on at some stage, Pulisic added: “Of course, the Premier League is an unbelievable league.
“You never know in football what can happen. I’m focused with Dortmund and that’s that.”
Pulisic saw former team-mate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang depart Dortmund for England during the January winter transfer window, with the Gabonese striker joining Arsenal for £55m.
Of Aubameyang’s departure, the 20-times capped talent added: “He brought me along so much as a player and helped me and guided me, and he’s been such a great guy.
“We’re sad to lose him, but I’m excited to see what he does.”
Pulisic generated plenty of speculation himself before the January deadline passed, with being the centre of attention a new experience for the youngster.
“Every day, you hear something different in the media, but now that it’s over, our team has been having kind of a rough go of things lately. So many different coaches in the last few months, but right now, we’ve just got to turn that around and focus on ourselves.”
With the window closed, Pulisic will now focus solely on Dortmund, but interest in his services are sure to be rekindled in the summer.
West Brom striker Jay Rodriguez has been charged by the football Association over an incident involving Gaetan Bong in last month’s Premier League match against Brighton that saw him accused of using racist language.
Footage shows the pair arguing and bumping into each other, before Rodriguez holds his nose and waves his hand as if to gesture Bong smells.
It is not clear what was said, but Bong immediately complained to referee Martin Atkinson who included the incident in his report.
The FA said on Thursday Rodriguez has been charged with using “abusive and/or insulting words which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race”.
If the charge is proven, Rodriguez would face a minimum five-match ban as an aggravated breach of FA rule E3. The rules added that “the regulatory commission may increase this suspension depending on any additional aggravating factors present”.
Rodriguez, who won one England cap in 2013, has until February 16 to respond to the FA charge.
He reacted by writing on Twitter: “Absolutely gutted and in disbelief at the situation I find myself in. I 100% deny the false allegation and will take the correct legal advice to prove my innocence.”
An FA statement read: “Jay Rodriguez has been charged following an incident during the West Bromwich Albion versus Brighton and Hove Albion match on 13 January 2018.
“It is alleged he used abusive and/or insulting words which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race.”
West Brom released a statement saying they would continue to support the 28-year-old. The Baggies’ director of football administration Richard Garlick said: “As a club we remain fully supportive and committed to backing Jay throughout this process.”
Cameroonian defender Bong posted a since-deleted comment on his own Twitter feed after the game, saying: “Some words should not be said on a football field and specially not by players Rodriguez words are unforgivable for the man I am!!”
Bong appeared on French television channel SFR Sport to say Rodriguez’s comment was “racist in nature”, and Brighton said their player had the club’s full backing as the FA opened its investigation.
Baggies boss Alan Pardew said after the match he found it “very difficult” to believe that Rodriguez would make a racist comment, adding: “Jay Rodriguez claims that the allegation, whatever the allegation is, is untrue.”
The match at the Etihad will be the third consecutive league game the winger has missed since Pep Guardiola‘s City failed to get their man on January 31, transfer deadline day.
Mahrez, 26, has not featured for the mid-table Foxes, in matches or training, since his dream move to the Premier League leaders stalled.
“I think Riyad is not available for Saturday’s game,” Puel told reporters at his pre-match press conference on Thursday. “I hope Riyad can get his head right and come back with us and work hard. The best way is for him to come back and enjoy his football.
“He is a magnificent player and he enjoys his football. He loves his team-mates, and that’s important. He loves to touch the football but he needs to come back right. I hope he can come back with a good attitude and prepared to work, but he will need time, and time to be match-fit.
“It’s important this remains inside the club and private, not in the public. The most important thing for me is to keep Riyad and the club and the fans united and in a good way about this. It is important to keep a good feeling together through these difficulties.”
Despite a second transfer request from the player in eight months, Leicester reportedly held out for a deal worth £80 million, with even City’s cash-rich Abu Dhabi owners unwilling to go beyond a reported £50m plus an unnamed player they valued at £15m.
Mahrez is unhappy that Leicester were determined to secure such a huge profit on a player they bought for a reported £350,000 from French second-division side Le Havre in 2014 and who played a pivotal role in the club’s rise from the Championship to Premier League champions.
He was crowned players’ player of the year during Leicester’s remarkable title-winning campaign in 2015/16, scoring 17 Premier League goals, and promptly signed a four-year deal to help lead their Champions League charge.
Adding to Mahrez’s anger is that other heroes of Leicester’s title-winning triumph – N’Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater – have been allowed to leave the club and join Chelsea with far less resistance.