Ole Gunnar Solskjaer considering Paul Pogba for Man United captaincy

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is considering Paul Pogba for the captaincy, despite the Manchester United‘s midfielder desire to leave this summer.

Marcus Rashford’s fine strike was followed by an impressive James Garner effort as the Red Devils opened pre-season with a victory far more comfortable than the 2-0 scoreline against Perth Glory suggests.

Pogba came on at half-time as Solskjaer completely rotated his side at the huge Optus Stadium, where the World Cup winner received a largely warm reception despite publicly admitting his openness to “a new challenge somewhere else”.

Agent Mino Raiola compounded matters by talking about how he is working to get his client a move, but Solskjaer says he would still consider the midfielder for a leadership role this season.

“No, it hasn’t (been decided),” the United boss said of the captaincy, having seen Antonio Valencia depart in the summer.

“So we’ve got quite a few possibilities there and when the season starts we’ll announce.

“Of course we’ll have a good assessment, see how pre-season goes, so there we go.

“But, as you saw, Ashley (Young) will wear it when he’s playing until we decide on someone, yeah.”

Asked if Pogba is under consideration for the role, Solskjaer said: “Yeah.”

The France midfielder regularly captained United at the start of the 2018-19 season, only for Jose Mourinho to swiftly take away any vice-captain responsibilities as their relationship deteriorated.

Pushed further on Pogba’s resuming a captaincy position, Solskjaer added: “Well, I don’t think that needs explaining. We’ll discuss that later on.”

The club-record signing was asked for an interview as he made his way out of Optus Stadium, but simply responded: “No need”. Pogba said similar to another reporter.

Speculation about outgoings will continue throughout the tour, while Solskjaer kept his cards close to his chest when it came to signings.

PA understands that United are still trying to sign Leicester centre-back Harry Maguire, while they are scouring the market for a midfielder.

“I think you need to speak to Ed (Woodward, executive vice-chairman) or others,” the United boss said about transfers.

“At the moment, I can’t give you any updates, no.

“Well, timing is obviously an issue but we’re working, as I’ve said before, so of course we’re optimistic.”

Solskjaer was more forthcoming when it came to the performance of his squad in their pre-season opener, with Daniel James impressing and Aaron Wan-Bissaka showing signs of promise in their first match in a United shirt.

“Both the new lads did well, both Dan and Aaron,” he said, having confirmed Luke Shaw went off with a hamstring issue.

“You had Mason (Greenwood), Angel (Gomes), Jimmy (Garner), you know the young lads, Chongy [Tahith Chong].

“I think they also showed that they can make it as a Man United player and the more experienced ones did a job because we got 45 minutes out of most and it was a professional workout from everyone.”

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PSG are open to selling Neymar, admits sporting director Leonardo

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Paris St Germain sporting director Leonardo is prepared to sell Neymar after the Brazil forward failed to report for pre-season training.

Neymar was scheduled to report back to the French club’s training ground on Monday but was absent without leave as speculation surrounds a move back to his former club Barcelona.

A club statement read: “PSG affirms that the player Neymar Jr was not present at the time and place required, without prior authorisation from the club.

“PSG regrets this situation and will take appropriate action.”

Leonardo would not be drawn further on possible sanctions, telling Le Parisien the club will follow an “internal procedure” and “consider the measures to be taken”.

But he admitted the club have had “superficial” contact with Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu about a move for Neymar, who joined PSG from Barca for a world-record fee of £200million in 2017.

Asked if the 27-year-old had told him he wants to leave, Leonardo told Le Parisien: “It’s clear to everyone. But in football, you say one thing one day and another the next.

“I spoke to him and his entourage. The position is clear for everyone.

“Only one thing is certain today: he is under contract with us for three years. And since we have not received an offer, there is nothing to discuss.

“We have not received any offers. But we have had, it is true, superficial contact (with Barcelona).

“They said they want to buy him but that we are not selling. It was (Bartomeu) who said that. But we have not seen that Barcelona are truly in a position to buy him.

“A move of this magnitude is not just a question of emotions. It is a financial question.

“Neymar can leave PSG, if there is an offer which suits everyone. But up to now, we do not know if anyone wants to buy him, or at what price. It will not be done in a day, that’s for sure.

“PSG want to count on players who want to be here and build something big. We do not need players who are doing a favour to the club by being here.”

Neymar missed the Copa America tournament – which Brazil won by beating Peru 3-1 in Sunday’s final – due to an ankle injury sustained in a friendly against Qatar last month.

He is banned for three matches at the start of the new Ligue 1 season after lashing out at a fan at the end of PSG’s shock French Cup final defeat to Rennes in April.

The former Santos forward will also miss his next three European matches after insulting match officials at the end of his side’s Champions League defeat to Manchester United in March.

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Federico Chiesa, Marcus Thuram and the other promising sons of famous fathers

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A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, so William Shakespeare once wrote. He obviously didn’t account for the sons of famous footballers.

It is difficult to remember any player who has truly lived up to their father’s billing – but there are seven young prospects who are beginning to carve out a name for themselves in their own right.

THE WEAHS
GeorgeTimWeah

George Weah: 
Widely considered the best African player of all-time. Pacy, powerful and deadly in front of goal, he won the Ballon d’Or in 1995.
Tim Weah: Grew up predominantly in the US before playing for his father’s old club, PSG. Still only 19, has recently signed for Lille in a 10m deal.

Like father, like son?

If Tim continues on his dad’s path, who knows – he may end up as the President of the United States.

George, now 52 and Liberia’s head of state, was a new breed of striker back in the 1990s. Never had a forward married physicality with technical gifts, be it through dribbling, scoring or linking play, so successfully.

His son is less tree trunk, more willowy at this stage of his career though his strength is deceptive. Blessed with the requisite pace and a deftness of touch to release others, there are certainly comparisons to be made, though he may end up as a wide forward in a 4-3-3 given modern trends.

What he needs is game time. While he is beginning to establish himself for the USA, a loan at Celtic last season started well but minutes became fleeting. His move to Lille is exactly what he needs and it’s a tantalising one as well, with the prospect of linking up with fellow promising youngster Rafael Leao up top.

Potential: 7.5/10

THE HAGIS

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Gheorghe Hagi: One of the greatest No.10s of his generation, there have been few better left-footed technicians. Played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Ianis Hagi: The 20-year-old, who can also play anywhere across the forward line, is still based in Romania but stole the limelight at this summer’s European Under-21 Championship with two goals in a run to the semis.
Like father, like son?

Gheorghe remained in Romania until he was 25 but Steaua Bucharest were a force to behold with him as their centrepiece in the late 1980s, while Ianis has already made one failed trip to a bigger European league.

He’s no write-off though. After a Serie A baptism of fire with Fiorentina as a teenager that simply came too soon, Ianis got his head down upon his return to Viitorul Constanta and was rewarded with 14 goals from the 2018/19 campaign.

While not as prolific as his father – and it’s doubtful he ever will be – Ianis bears hallmarks of Ghoerghe’s playmaking and dribbling ability, though his risk-taking with the ball veers between wasteful and wonderful.

Sevilla are reportedly close to sealing an 8m deal for Hagi Jr, which gives him an opportunity to replace midfield creator and new PSG man Pablo Sarabia.

Potential: 7/10

THE CHIESAS

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Enrico Chiesa: Dynamic and prolific striker for Sampdoria, Fiorentina and Parma who was capable of the spectacular, but hampered by several injuries.

Federico Chiesa: Tricky, jet-heeled attacker growing in stature with Fiorentina, and has already accrued 13 Italy caps at 21 years of age.

Like father, like son?

Enrico had to wait before showcasing his talent – it was only in his mid-20s that he could finally call Serie A home. In contrast, Federico has been wearing the famous La Viola with regularity in Italy’s top league since he was a teen.

Where the father was quick, the son is on hyper-speed. Federico’s strike in the Euro Under-21s against Spain, in which he jinked past a defender before deceiving the keeper from a tight angle, was reminiscent of Enrico’s famous narrow-angle blast for Sampdoria against Juventus in 1995.

The difference is you won’t often see Chiesa Jr blazing through the centre. He often ties defenders in knots but, just as frequently, confuses himself with mediocre end product. Six goals and three assists from more than 3,000 Serie A minutes last season doesn’t scream efficient, even if his highlights would make anyone’s personal reel.

The 21-year-old is quite clearly a precocious talent, however, and there are rumours that Juventus and Liverpool very much agree.

Potential: 8.5/10

THE SIMEONES

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Diego Simeone: The man they call El Cholo was a formidable foe for any opposing midfielder, snapping at heels for the likes of Atletico Madrid and Argentina over two decades.

Giovanni Simeone: Versatile forward who has just completed his second season playing alongside Chiesa with Fiorentina. Scored his first goal with Argentina last year.

Like father, like son?

Looking past their different duties – yes. Both devour hard work, with Diego famously giving no quarter and Giovanni having pitched in with 43 successful tackles in Serie A last season despite his duties up top.

Simeone Jr will never be the leader that Diego was and certainly not the wind-up merchant. He does have a similarly underappreciated finesse to his ability to bring others into the game. Sadly for Giovanni, that support was decidedly lacking in 2018/19.

A lacklustre return of eight goals from 40 appearances in all competitions last season points to a wobbly wavelength between Chiesa and Simeone, though in sympathy to the latter, he is asked to be the lightning rod of the Fiorentina attack but is frequently isolated.

That is why Sassuolo and Bologna, not Juventus and Napoli, are reportedly interested in recruiting him. A big year is coming up for a man turning 24 on July 5.

Potential: 6.5/10

THE KLUIVERTS

PatrickJustinKluivert

Patrick Kluivert: Famed Ajax academy product who won Champions League at 19 and went on to have a prolific career with Barcelona and the Netherlands.

Justin Kluivert: Next generation academy product who moved to Roma last season, missing out on Ajax’s incredible run to the Champions League semi-finals.

Like father, like son?

The facial features are recognisable in Justin but that’s about it for any physical resemblance. Whereas Patrick was a big man – nonetheless filled top to toe with grace – his son stands at a diminutive 5ft 7in and is best off avoiding any shoulder-to-shoulder confrontations on the wings.

In his formative years at Ajax physicality was not much of a problem in a free-flowing Eredivisie and the highest-scoring team in the league. The then 19-year-old scored an impressive 10 goals in 2017/18 but, given that the Dutch juggernauts crafted 89 in total, it’s not as if he was carrying a huge burden.

Italy so far has certainly added a weight to his shoulders. At Roma he has found opposition defences cannier, far more structured and with a proclivity to sit back, meaning he can’t stretch his legs as often. Still, in a Serie A season of just 14 starts and 15 sub appearances, the 20-year-old bagged a solid six assists.

His close control and dribbling is a real mark of his class and while right footed, he showed signs last year of being able to operate on the touchline and swing in a number of dangerous crosses from the left, too. There’s no need for Roma to be worried yet – at 18.75m, Kluivert remains a remarkable piece of business.

Potential: 8/10

THE THURAMS

LilianMarcusThuram

Lilian Thuram: Studious and supremely athletic defender who at one point could lay claim to being both the best centre-back and full-back in the world. World Cup winner for France and fine club career with Monaco, Parma, Juventus and Barcelona.

Marcus Thuram: Emerging 21-year-old striker who hit nine Ligue 1 goals for Guingamp last season, despite the club finishing rock bottom.

Like father, like son?

Marcus is an even bigger man than his father, but he’s decided that defending is not for him. Measuring in at 6ft 2in, an inch above Thuram Sr, he puts his height to good use in the other half instead.

He won three-and-a-half aerial duels per game in a Guingamp side that were floundering all season and some of that frustration clearly boiled over. He was red carded twice, once for a needless high boot – in contrast, his father was only sent off three times over the course of a near two-decade career.

Thuram Jr flitted in between playing out on the left and through the centre last year and is a keen dribbler, though heavily favours his right foot.

A player with real potential but a stepping stone is needed, which is why Borussia Monchengladbach has swept him up for €12m plus bonuses. The Bundesliga has a distinct French flavour at present and there’s arguably not a better place for him to continue his development.

Potential: 7/10

THE ZIDANES

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Zinedine Zidane: Undoubtedly one of the finest midfielders to ever grace a pitch, won the lot in both club and international football.

Luca Zidane: At present, Real Madrid’s third-choice keeper but has youth international caps for France and is only 21 years of age.

Like father, like son?

They could hardly be more different. Zidane, he of the pirouettes, perfect passes, poise and presence, was never going to have a once-in-a-generation player of his ilk as a son. The older brother, Enzo Fernandez, wisely dropped the name for football purposes and is plying his trade in Spain’s Segunda Division.

So what did Luca do? Strap on some gloves and play with his hands.

While his father has been associated with Real Madrid since Luca was three years of age, it’d be unfair to point the finger at nepotism. Luca is a fully-fledged France youth international and has trained at Real Madrid’s academy since he was six.

What he really needs is a fresh break. Even if Keylor Navas departs this summer, 20-year-old Ukraine international Andriy Lunin should be the next in line behind Thibaut Courtois.

He played twice for Real’s senior team last season but the spectre of his father as boss will loom over him for however long he’s there. It’s time to cut the apron strings, even if he has to do it himself.

Potential: 5/10

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