Joe Cole insists Frank Lampard deserves credit if Chelsea win FA Cup and Champions League double

‘Frank’s fingerprints will be on this team’: Joe Cole insists former team-mate Lampard deserves credit if Chelsea win FA Cup and Champions League double… but BT pundit hails ‘extraordinary’ Thomas Tuchel

  • Lampard was sacked as manager in January and was replaced by German Tuchel 
  • Former Paris Saint-Germain boss has overseen a major turnaround at the club
  • But Cole praised Lampard for successfully bringing through many young players

Joe Cole believes Frank Lampard must take a great deal of credit if Chelsea complete an FA Cup and Champions League double this month.

Lampard was sacked earlier in the season to make way for Thomas Tuchel, the German overseeing a remarkable turnaround in Chelsea’s fortunes, guiding them to two major finals and steering them towards a top-four finish in the Premier League.

Cole and Lampard were Chelsea team-mates for seven seasons and also played together for West Ham and England. 

Former Blues boss Frank Lampard deserves credit for Chelsea’s success, according to Joe Cole

Cole (left) and Lampard were team-mates at their first club West Ham, Chelsea and England

Cole (left) and Lampard were team-mates at their first club West Ham, Chelsea and England

While Cole acknowledges the work Tuchel has done, he believes Lampard’s 18-month spell as manager also helped drive the club to the brink of a hugely successful season.

‘I am friends with Frank and I’ve known him since I was a kid so you don’t want to become a cheerleader,’ Cole told Sportsmail.

‘Tuchel has come in and done an unbelievable job but you can’t disregard what Frank did – holding the fort during a difficult time, getting the club to a cup final last year, getting Champions League when they had lost their best player (Eden Hazard to Real Madrid in 2019).

Cole, who left as Blues academy coach last year, also praised the current boss Thomas Tuchel

Cole, who left as Blues academy coach last year, also praised the current boss Thomas Tuchel

‘He brought in many of these young players in and put £200million of talent on the bottom line. They were going through a bad spell earlier in the season and that’s Chelsea – you know if you go through a bad spell you could get the sack.

‘Frank’s fingerprints will be on this team but you have to credit Tuchel – to come in and have the impact he’s had is extraordinary. Chelsea is in a really healthy place at the moment so I am very happy, very confident.’

Cole was speaking as part of a campaign backed by FA Cup sponsor Budweiser – Support your club; support your pub. The beer brand is handing over advertising space to the local pubs of FA Cup Finalists Chelsea and Leicester.

The 39-year-old has seen a number of his England contemporaries try their hand at management. Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Sol Campbell, Scott Parker and Wayne Rooney have all had varying degrees of success, while John Terry is eyeing a No 1 job after spending time as part of Dean Smith’s backroom team at Aston Villa.

Cole left his role as an academy coach at Chelsea last summer and is keen to take the next step. He added: ‘You are always looking and will have to be the right job at the right time.

‘It’s been beneficial for me to see how my former team-mates have done and see the pitfalls. I am enjoying my work as a pundit but when the time’s right and it’s the right job, I’ll certainly be stepping up.’

Advertisement

Manchester United ‘are set to make £40m bid for Raphael Varane this summer’ 

Manchester United ‘are set to make £40m bid for Raphael Varane this summer’, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer intent on partnering the Real Madrid defender with captain Harry Maguire

  • World Cup-winning defender Varane, 28, is understood to want a new challenge 
  • United have struggled defensively in Maguire’s absence due to an ankle injury 
  • The Red Devils were defensively shoddy in a 4-2 home defeat against Liverpool 

Manchester United are reportedly lining up a £40million bid for Real Madrid centre back Raphael Varane this summer.

United are on track to finish second in the Premier League but their defence has been shaky, with more goals conceded than 17th-placed Brighton. 

According to the Mirror, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is keen on signing the Frenchman to play alongside captain Harry Maguire at the heart of the defence.

Manchester United are reportedly lining up a £40million bid for Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane

Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is said to want him to partner Harry Maguire (left)

Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is said to want him to partner Harry Maguire (left)

Varane, 28, only has a year left on his contract and United believe they can secure his signature for around £40m.

The 73-cap international has spent a decade with the Spanish giants, making 359 appearances in all competitions, winning 18 trophies in that time.

He has won three La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues and the 2018 World Cup, and would bring pace, poise and winning experience to the side.

Victor Lindelof (left) and Eric Bailly (right) failed to impress in a 4-2 home loss against Liverpool

Victor Lindelof (left) and Eric Bailly (right) failed to impress in a 4-2 home loss against Liverpool

The Red Devils have tried to sign him before in previous transfer windows, but could get a deal over the line this summer, with Varane understood to want a new challenge.

United have struggled in the absence of the previously ever-present Maguire, who has missed the last two matches with an ankle injury, and the side conceding six goals in that time, including a 4-2 loss against Liverpool at Old Trafford. 

Eric Bailly, who signed a new contract until 2024 last month, and Victor Lindelof have failed to consistently impress and Varane could be the answer.

Up next United host Fulham on Tuesday before travelling to Wolves in the last Premier League game of the season on Sunday, and Solskjaer urged his defenders to step up with Maguire touch-and-go for the Europa League final on May 26.

He said: ‘Harry has been amazing since he came to the club. He’s been more or less ever-present, so of course, when a player is a leader, a captain, the status of him, his presence is missed.

‘But then we have players who can come in and it’s a chance for everyone to take on that little bit of leadership. We need to do that when he’s gone. You can hear him in the stands when he’s not playing. Someone else has to take that responsibility now.’

Advertisement


Pep Guardiola has ‘Erling Haaland, Harry Kane, Lautaro Martinez and Andre Silva on his radar’

Pep Guardiola has a ‘four-man striker shortlist this summer, with Erling Haaland, Harry Kane, Lautaro Martinez and Andre Silva on Manchester City boss’ radar’ to replace Sergio Aguero

  • Pep Guardiola is to be backed financially in this summer’s transfer window
  • The Manchester City boss has his eyes on Erling Haaland or Harry Kane up top
  • Lautaro Martinez and Andre Silva are also strikers on Guardiola’s shortlist 
  • Guardiola’s biggest priority is replacing Sergio Aguero, who is leaving the club

Pep Guardiola is set to receive the support he needs from the Manchester City board to bring in more top players this summer and has a four-man shortlist for a new striker. 

Despite having the strongest squad in the Premier League, being crowned champions earlier this week and having a first Champions League final against Chelsea on 29 May, Guardiola is ready to bolster his options even further. 

City have made no secret that their top priority is finding a replacement for Sergio Aguero. The 32-year-old will leave the club at the end of the season, and a successor of equal stature is required.

Pep Guardiola has a four-man shortlist for a new Manchester City striker in the transfer window

Erling Haaland (pictured) and Harry Kane have been strongly linked to Manchester City

Kane (pictured) has hinted that he may leave Tottenham this summer

Erling Haaland (left) and Harry Kane (right) have been strongly linked to Manchester City

Guardiola has been strongly linked with Borussia Dortmund superstar Erling Haaland, and England captain Harry Kane, who is increasingly thought to be considering leaving Tottenham this summer. 

Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez and Eintracht Frankfurt striker Andre Silva are also on Guardiola’s shortlist, according to The Times

The 25-year-old Silva has made a huge impression at Frankfurt this season, scoring 25 goals in 30 Bundesliga games and helping them to fifth in the league. 

Meanwhile Martinez, 23, has been a key part of Antonio Conte’s Serie A-winning squad, with 16 goals and eight assists in 36 league games.

Guardiola's biggest transfer priority this summer is finding a replacement for Sergio Aguero

Guardiola’s biggest transfer priority this summer is finding a replacement for Sergio Aguero

Lautaro Martinez (pictured) and Andre Silva are also on Guardiola's four-man striker shortlist

Silva has scored 25 goals in 30 Bundesliga games this season

Lautaro Martinez (left) and Andre Silva (right) are also on Guardiola’s four-man striker shortlist

Both of these options would be significantly cheaper than either Kane, whose Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is renowed for driving extremely hard bargains, or Haaland, who would command a package of £150million-plus to be prised away from Dortmund.

But the German club have a strong financial interest in selling Haaland this transfer window, as the 20-year-old’s contract contains a £65m release clause that can be activated next summer. 

Guardiola’s bargaining power would also increase should Dortmund fail to qualify for next’s season Champions League. 

Further along the squad, the Man City boss is also said to be a big fan of Jack Grealish, though Aston Villa are believed to want £80m for the playmaker, which according to The Times, is too much money for Guardiola. 

Guardiola is said to be a big fan of Aston Villa's Jack Grealish but doesn't want to spend £80m

Guardiola is said to be a big fan of Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish but doesn’t want to spend £80m

Another position of perhaps greater significance is defensive midfield, with Guardiola possibly having to plan for life after 36-year-old stalwart Fernandinho. 

The Brazilian is yet to decide on a 12-month contract extension that City have offered him, and West Ham’s Declan Rice is being viewed as a potential replacement. 

Other players leaving the club include Eric Garcia, who is shaping to move to Barcelona on a free transfer, and Benjamin Mendy, who City are looking to sell after another poor season.    

Guardiola may also have to plan for life without 36-year-old defensive midfielder Fernandinho

Guardiola may also have to plan for life without 36-year-old defensive midfielder Fernandinho

Advertisement

Pep Guardiola sends warning to Manchester City’s rivals that ‘winning is so addictive’

Pep Guardiola sends warning to rivals that ‘winning is so addictive’ as Man City manager says their success drives him on ‘to improve and win again’

  • Manchester City have won their third Premier League title in four seasons
  • City also won the League Cup this term and are in the Champions League final
  • Pep Guardiola says City’s success at the Etihad is what inspires him to continue 

Pep Guardiola declared his addiction to winning is what motivates him after Manchester City clinched a third Premier League crown in four years.

The City manager also revealed details of how chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak convinced him to sign a new contract during a meeting in the Maldives in November.

‘I saw that he trusted me,’ Guardiola said. ‘I saw in his eyes, the way we were during dinner.

Pep Guardiola (centre right) says he is addicted to win and that inspires him to more success

‘Winning is so addictive. You do better, you laugh more, your relationships become better. Why should you stop when there are still things to do? Why should we not try to improve and win again when we still can?’

Guardiola defended City in the face of criticism from their detractors.

‘Unfortunately, some people say the history of this club did not start until 10 years ago,’ he added. 

‘It started at Maine Road, 40,000 taking the bus to support the team in the Second Division.’

Guardiola has guided Manchester City to a Premier League and League Cup double this term

Guardiola has guided Manchester City to a Premier League and League Cup double this term

Advertisement

Manchester United vs Liverpool – Premier League: Live score, lineups and updates

Manchester United vs Liverpool, LIVE: Jurgen Klopp’s side aim to boost their Champions League hopes as they take on bitter rivals who are playing their fourth game in just eight days

  • Manchester United starting XI: Henderson, Wan Bissaka, Bailly, Lindelof, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Pogba, Cavani
  • Liverpool starting XI: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Rhys Williams, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Thiago, Salah, Firmino, Jota
  • Liverpool looking to put the pressure on top four rivals above them in the table
  • Manchester United are looking to bounce back following 2-1 defeat by Leicester
  • Latest Premier League news, including fixtures and results  
  • Premier League table – as it stands 

Liverpool will be aiming to take a big step towards potentially qualifying for the Champions League next season when they visit Manchester United at Old Trafford.

With Chelsea having suffered defeat by Arsenal on Wednesday evening, Jurgen Klopp’s side now have the opportunity to put serious pressure on rivals above them for a top four spot.

The Reds face a tricky trip to their Red Devils rivals, although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are suffering at the end of a fixture crisis which is seeing them play their fourth game in just eight days. 

Follow Sportsmail’s DAN RIPLEY for live EPL coverage of Manchester United vs Liverpool, including scoreline, lineups and build-up of the 8.15pm kick-off.  

Advertisement


Europa Conference League: What is it? Which Premier League team will qualify? How does it work?

The world of football is becoming increasingly difficult to follow. There are seemingly changes in formats and breakaway leagues galore. Heck, most of us don’t even know what offside is anymore. 

And to add a further complication, from next season there will be three tiers of European cup competition, with the Europa Conference League sitting below the existing Europa League and Champions League formats. 

Yes, it’s all a bit confusing. But it also makes the final games of the Premier League season that bit more exciting, with the likes of West Ham, Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton now battling it out for three different competitions.   

In fact, in only 10 days’ time, will will know just who has secured a Champions League spot, who will be playing their football in the Europa League next season and who will be England’s test dummy and first-ever representative in the Europa Conference League.   

Below, Sportsmail explains everything you need to know about the new tournament. 

The newly-formed Europa Conference League is set to commence in the 2021/22 campaign

What on Earth is it? 

Now, this seems a sensible place to start. In addition to the Champions League and Europa League, we now have a third European club competition – the Europa Conference League.   

Essentially, the idea is that with another competition, more clubs will have the opportunity to play European football. 

To use UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin’s words, ‘the new UEFA club competition makes UEFA’s club competitions more inclusive than ever before.

‘There will be more matches for more clubs, with more associations represented in the group stages.’ 

Well, in England anyway, that’s not wholly true. The Premier League will still have a maximum of seven teams participating in European football, including the new format.  

The real benefit will be felt by those in leagues where they struggle to qualify for the existing two competitions.  

But how does it work? 

Just like the Champions League and Europa League, there will be multiple qualifying rounds to play before the tournament gets underway. 

In fact, there will be three – before a final two-legged play-off round.  

The English side who qualifies will go straight into the play-off round, which will be played on August 19 and 26, just five days after the 2021/22 Premier League season begins on August 14.  

Europa Conference League Qualification  
Round  First Leg  Second Leg
Round 1 July 8 July 15 
Round 2  July 22  July 29 
Round 3  August 5  August 12 
Play-off round  August 19  August 26 
*The English team will enter in the play-off round, while the Scottish team will enter in the second round 

So, who will make up the groups? Well, there will be eight groups of four, with teams earning a place via three distinct paths:

1) 17 teams will qualify via the main path, which is through the qualifying rounds shown in the table above. 

2) Five teams will qualify via the champions path, which is made up of those who have lost Champions League qualifiers and are then demoted to the Europa Conference League. 

3) 10 team eliminated from the Europa League play-offs will also join.  

Importantly, it’s now being ensured that 34 UEFA national associations get a minimum of one representative in the group stage of at least one competition. 

And specifically for the Europa Conference League, England, Spain, Italy, France and Germany all get one team. Scotland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Russia all get two.  

Who will qualify from the Premier League? 

Arsenal and Liverpool are among the teams who could qualify for the tournament

Arsenal and Liverpool are among the teams who could qualify for the tournament

Now, this is the all important question. And I’m afraid, it’s not the most simple of answers. 

Just to stress again, there is a maximum of seven Premier League teams who can enter European competition in any given season. 

And as things stand, it’s looking pretty certain that it will be the seventh-placed Premier League side who qualifies. 

Generally, it will be the winner of the Carabao Cup who earns a place in the competition. But this year – for the fourth consecutive season – it was Manchester City who lifted the cup, and they’ve already qualified for the Champions League. 

That means their spot is passed to the next highest-placed Premier League side who have not qualified for a European competition. 

However, this is also the case with the Europa League. Generally, the winner of the FA Cup will be granted a spot alongside the team that finishes fifth. But Leicester and Chelsea – who currently sit third and fourth respectively – are set to play in Saturday’s final. 

Assuming both sides stay within the top five, the team in sixth place would get a place in the Europa League, with the Europa Conference League spot going to the team in seventh. 

If the season ended now, West Ham and Liverpool would play in the Europa League, with Tottenham in the Europa Conference League. 

What about Scotland? 

Well, as mentioned above, Scotland will have two teams in the Europa Conference League. And this will go to the third and fourth-placed teams. 

This is now wrapped up in Scotland, meaning we know Hibernian and Aberdeen will join next season’s Europa Conference League in the second qualifying round.   

When will the matches be played? 

The Europa Conference League fixtures will follow the pattern of the Europa League, with matches on Thursdays, kicking off at either 5.45pm and 8pm. 

The group stages will be played between September 15 and December 9, with the knockout stages starting on February 17. 

The final, which will be played in Tirana, Albania, will be played on May 25. 

Europa Conference League Group Stage
Match day Match date
Match 1  September 16 
Match 2 September 30 
Match 3  October 21 
Match 4  November 4 
Match 5  November 25 
Match 6  December 9 
Europa Conference League Knockout Stage 
Round  First Leg   Second Leg
Knockout play-offs February 17 February 24 
Round of 16  March 10  March 17 
Quarter-finals  April 7  April 14 
Semi-finals  April 28  May 5 
Final  May 25  N/A 

What is the grand prize? 

So, what’s the point? Similarly to the Europa League, where the winner earns a spot in the Champions League, the winner of the Europa Conference League will also move up a tier. 

To put it simply, the winner of the Europa Conference League earns a spot in the group stages of the following season’s Europa League. 

That is provided the team has not already qualified for the Champions League, of course.  

The first final of the Europa Conference League will be played at the National Arena in Albania

The first final of the Europa Conference League will be played at the National Arena in Albania

What about the Europa League? 

While the introduction of the new format will have no impact on the Champions League, there will be some changes to the Europa League. 

The Europa League – notoriously an arduous competition –  will now be shorter, with fewer teams competing in it. 

The group stages in the Europa League will now have 32 teams, rather than 48, in eight groups of four. 

The winners will all automatically progress into the last-16, with the round of 32 now gone. Additionally, there will be a knockout round before the last-16, comprised of those who finished second in the group and third in the Champions League groups. 

Pep Guardiola reveals Manchester City’s boozy title celebrations on Tuesday

‘The best moment was when the pizzas arrived… I was not in the best condition!’: Pep Guardiola reveals Manchester City’s boozy title celebrations – and thanks chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak for backing him after trophyless first season

  • Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City were confirmed as Premier League champions
  • City indulged in some celebrations late on Tuesday at the City Football Academy
  • Guardiola insisted the best moment was when 10-15 pizzas arrived late on 
  • Spaniard also thanked the City board for backing him despite disappointments 

Pep Guardiola has revealed the full extent Manchester City’s title celebrations on Tuesday night, insisting the best moment was when ’10-15 pizzas arrived!’.

Leicester’s win at Manchester United on Tuesday night confirmed City as Premier League champions for the third time in four years. 

With City also in the final of the Champions League and having already won the Carabao Cup too, Guardiola’s side have had a memorable season and the City boss said the team did not let the chance to celebrate go to waste. 

Guardiola and his coaching team, alongside Fernandinho (right), with a replica Premier League trophy

Pep Guardiola has revealed the full extent Manchester City’s title celebrations on Tuesday

‘When Leicester won we came here (City Football Academy) in the bubble, everyone was safe,’ Guardiola said, in his pre-match press conference ahead of the game against Newcastle on Friday. 

‘We trained a bit, we danced, laughed, remembered how good it was. 10-15 pizzas arrived too which was the best moment!

Then, when asked what his favourite slice of pizza was, Guardiola joked: ‘I don’t know. I was not in my perfect condition to decide which one I ate! But I think all of them was so good!

‘Here in England, the parties are always just alcohol not food. I don’t understand why. But in that moment it was perfect.

‘It was a nice moment all-together, we celebrate really good. But now we train for tomorrow and go on.’ 

City have won two trophies this season and can add a third with the Champions League

City have won two trophies this season and can add a third with the Champions League

Guardiola also paid tribute to chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak for backing him after a disappointing first season, back in 2016-17, when City didn’t win a trophy and only narrowly qualified for the Champions League. 

‘When I was here in the first season I didn’t win anything, and I can’t forget the disappointment of Lyon, and the support I had from the chairman (Khaldoon Al Mubarak),’ Guardiola added. 

‘Our success is dedicated to him supporting me. Saying that we now have two weeks before a dream come true in the Champions League final.’

Advertisement


Micah Richards admits he ‘didn’t like’ Gary Neville when he was a Man City player

Micah Richards reveals he didn’t like ‘horrible’ Gary Neville when he was a Man City player, and wanted to ‘put things straight’ with his former Man United rival over ‘false’ claims about Paul Pogba… but now admits Sky Sports colleague is a ‘nice guy’

  • Micah Richards admits he ‘didn’t like’ Gary Neville when he was a footballer 
  • He said his fellow Sky Sports pundit was ‘horrible’ to play against in derbies 
  • But the ex-Man City star feels Neville is ‘a nice guy’ after working with him
  • However, he has clashed with him over his ‘false’ views on Paul Pogba  

Micah Richards has admitted he was not a fan of Gary Neville when he was a Manchester City player during their bitter rivalry with Manchester United – calling him ‘horrible’ to play against.

Richards, now a pundit with Neville at Sky Sports – came up against the former defender a number of times during their time in the Premier League as City began to challenge their neighbours for the title.

And while Richards now believes the former United right back is ‘a nice guy’ having got to know him in the studio, he concedes that he did not see eye to eye with him on the football pitch. 

He said Neville was 'horrible' to play against in fierce derbies with Manchester United

Micah Richards has admitted he ‘didn’t like’ Gary Neville (R) when the pair were players

Richards, now a pundit, concedes Neville is 'a nice guy' having worked with him on Sky Sports

Richards, now a pundit, concedes Neville is ‘a nice guy’ having worked with him on Sky Sports

‘I didn’t really used to like Gary Neville, to be honest, because of the rivalry between the Reds and the Blues,’ the former centre-back told Jamie Carragher’s The Greatest Game podcast.

‘When I worked with him I was like ‘actually, he’s a nice guy’, but playing against him – he was horrible!’

While the pair have since buried the hatchet from their playing days, Richards has still disagreed with Neville on a couple of matters – including his opinions on United midfielder Paul Pogba, who has been subject to severe criticism from pundits.

The 32-year-old says he wanted to ‘put a couple of things straight’ with Neville after hearing what he claimed were ‘false’ comments.

But he said he took issue with Neville's 'false' views on Manchester United star Paul Pogba

But he said he took issue with Neville’s ‘false’ views on Manchester United star Paul Pogba

The former right-back has been a vocal critic of the World Cup winner during his time at United

The former right-back has been a vocal critic of the World Cup winner during his time at United

‘Some of the stuff he used to say about Pogba… I didn’t want to argue with him, but I  wanted to put a couple of things straight because I know Pogba and whatnot. A lot of what he was saying was false.’

Neville has indeed been a critic of Pogba in the past, claiming he played the game ‘at walking pace’ and ‘can do much more’ in 2018, before clarifying last year that he comes down so hard on the World Cup winner because ‘the biggest players will get the biggest criticism’. 

Richards, who retired from professional football in 2019 and quickly became a prominent face on England’s football coverage, admits he felt ‘starstruck’ when he was first invited to work for Sky as he sat alongside big names like Neville, Carragher and Roy Keane, and now considers them as his friends.

‘I was starstruck at the start, because you lot are legends of the game,’ he said. ‘But now I feel like I can call you my friend.’

The former Aston Villa defender said he felt 'starstruck' after appearing alongside big names like Roy Keane (L) when he first linked up with Sky

The former Aston Villa defender said he felt ‘starstruck’ after appearing alongside big names like Roy Keane (L) when he first linked up with Sky

Richards featured 245 games for his boyhood club City, starting his career while the club were still battling in mid-table, before the Abu Dhabi group took them over and elevated them to new heights.

He was part of the team that won their first Premier League title in 2011-12 and also won the FA Cup during their rise to prominence before he was sold to Aston Villa in the 2015-16 season.

But his spell in the Midlands did not go to plan as he was powerless to prevent the club sinking down to the Championship in his first campaign. He played just three times across the next three seasons and decided to call time on his career at the end of 2018-19.

Advertisement


Dayot Upamecano says he came close to signing for Man United aged 17

‘I wanted to sign for them straight away!’ Dayot Upamecano says he came close to signing for Man United aged 17 before turning them down after talks with Red Bull supremo Ralf Rangnick as French defender prepares to leave Leipzig for Bayern Munich

  • Dayot Upamecano is poised to join Bayern Munich from RB Leipzig in summer
  • But his career path could have been quite different if he’d joined Man United
  • They were interested in signing the French defender back when he was 17
  • Upamecano was keen but was persuaded to reconsider by Ralf Rangnick
  • He went on to play for Red Bull Salzburg and then RB Leipzig
  • United were linked with the 22-year-old prior to his agreed move to Bayern  

Dayot Upamecano has spoken about how he turned down the opportunity to join Manchester United at the age of 17.

The France international, 22, is now regarded as one of the most accomplished central defenders in world football and is poised to join Bayern Munich from RB Leipzig ahead of next season.

Bayern paid his release clause of £38.5million to bolster their back line – but Upamecano’s career path could have been quite different.

Dayot Upamecano has spoken about how he almost joined Manchester United at the age of 17

The French defender was persuaded by Red Bull sporting director Ralf Rangnick to join them

The French defender was persuaded by Red Bull sporting director Ralf Rangnick to join them

In an interview, he said that United registered their interest in him as a teenager.

‘I was a young boy. I wanted to sign for them straight away,’ he told The Athletic.

‘Manchester United! But then my parents took me aside and said: ‘Let’s think carefully about this.’

Upamecano, who at that stage was in the youth team at French club Valenciennes, was instead persuaded by Ralf Rangnick, then the sporting director at Red Bull Salzburg and RB Leipzig, to join them.

He was moved to Red Bull’s feeder club Liefering in Austria and within a year moved up to Red Bull Salzburg and then on to RB Leipzig in 2017.

Upamecano (right) is poised to leave RB Leipzig and sign for Bayern Munich in the summer

Upamecano (right) is poised to leave RB Leipzig and sign for Bayern Munich in the summer

He was linked with a move to Manchester United recently but could have joined them aged 17

He was linked with a move to Manchester United recently but could have joined them aged 17

Upamecano has since played 151 matches for the Bundesliga side over five seasons but will move on to Bayern this summer. He has made three appearances for France.

He added: ‘We thought about it for a long time and then decided that going ‘etape par etape’ [step by step] was the best option for me. Everything Ralf said came true.’

His reputation has since grown considerably and United were among a number of clubs linked with Upamecano over the past two years.

Upamecano has the opportunity to finish his Leipzig career with a piece of silverware when they take on Borussia Dortmund in the final of the German Cup on Thursday night.

Advertisement


Premier League’s new £4.5bn TV deal comes with demand they pay lower leagues £100m annually

Premier League set to seal new rollover £4.5BILLION broadcasting deal… but only ‘after agreeing to Government demands that they pay lower league teams an extra £100m a season in solidarity payments’

  • Premier League set to confirm extension to existing deal worth around £4.5bn
  • But UK government insist new deal will see more money paid to lower leagues 
  • New £100m top up deal to come on top of existing £140m ‘solidarity payments’

The Premier League have agreed to pay an extra £100million to lower division and grassroots clubs in order to secure Government backing for a new three-year domestic television deal.

As reported by Sportsmail, the 20 clubs approved the £4.5billion contract extension with Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon Prime on Wednesday.

That decision came after being told that the price of avoiding a competitive tender would be increased funding for the rest of the sport. 

The Premier League are set to confirm an extension to an existing TV deal worth £4.5bn

The extra £100m will be paid on top of the £124m the Premier League already contribute on so-called solidarity payments and will got to the EFL, non-League, women’s football and grassroots.

The top-up funding, which will be spread over the three years of the new TV contract running from 2022 to 2025, represents a victory for EFL chairman Rick Parry.

Parry has been lobbying the Government to increase pressure on the Premier League to provide further help to the lower divisions since the start of the pandemic.  

The move will extend the current deal until 2025 and will protect the finances of top tier clubs

The move will extend the current deal until 2025 and will protect the finances of top tier clubs

The Government still need to sign off the new deal, but that is regarded as a formality.

As with the existing arrangements, Sky will have the rights to 128 matches a season, four of the seven packages, while BT Sport have 52 matches in two packages, and Amazon have one package of 20 matches.

In addition, BBC has the main highlights package to continue with Match of the Day.  

Advertisement