Manchester City winger Leroy Sane, has revealed his admiration for the Middle East’s passion for football, as Abu Dhabi gets set to host the youth tournament sponsored by the club. .
This weekend 96 teams from around the world, many from the GCC, will take part in the Manchester City Abu Dhabi Cup at Zayed Sports City.
Sane, who was one of the star attractions when Manchester City FC were in the UAE capital last week, said tournaments such as this are helping quickly develop the game in the Middle East.
He said: “It is such a welcoming place to come as a footballer – there is knowledge and passion for the game and the kids especially love it so much.
“I have massively enjoyed seeing young players and fans in the region on the visit and it is all about getting them to play as much as possible with total enjoyment.
“I wish them all the best for the future and the skills and ideas they learn at a young age are so important.”
A total of 1344 players will take part in the tournament. One of the winning teams will get a trip of a lifetime to experience life at Manchester City’s training campus in Manchester.
Manchester United have announced plans to form a women’s professional team.
United have long been criticised by prominent figures in the game for not having a women’s team. They are the only Premier League men’s side not to have a senior women’s team.
But now United say they have submitted an application to the Football Association to join the second tier of the Women’s Super League.
Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said: “We are pleased to announce that the club intends to establish its first ever professional women’s team and has submitted an application to enter WSL2.
“The FA has provided excellent support through the process and we believe that launching a team in WSL2 would give many more of our graduates from the regional talent club the chance to establish themselves as first-team players.
“The Manchester United women’s team must be built in the same image and with the same principles as the men’s first team and offer academy players a clear route to top level football within the club.”
The team would be based at the club’s long-standing training centre, The Cliff.
The diminutive Chilean forward has been in the eye of the storm with a string of below-par performances as United struggled in the Premier League and limped out of the Champions League at the hands of Sevilla this month.
“It was a bit rough for me because it’s the first time I’ve changed a team in January,” Sanchez told reporters in Stockholm where Chile are preparing to face Sweden on Saturday.
He said he had “expected something better” from himself during his first months under Jose Mourhino.
“It’s been very difficult, we were out of the World Cup, I arrived at my club which was at the time Arsenal, I got injured,” reflected the 29-year-old, who at the start of the season was close to joining Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
“At one stage the transfer broke down, I didn’t go to the other team and at the end I’m in at a team that is United, one of the biggest in the world.”
Away from United, Sanchez hopes to get back to winning ways with Chile in what will be Colombian coach Reinaldo Rueda’s first game in charge.
The team has been hit by internal squabbling in the wake of their elimination from the World Cup, and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo’s refusal to go on the European tour.
Sanchez said the team was “a family” and that Bravo was “keeping the door open” to a return to the national team.