Odion Ighalo may have played his last game for Man Utd as transfer concern emerges

Manchester United are reportedly on the brink of seeing Odion Ighalo exit the club after just eight games after failing to reach an agreement with Shanghai Shenhua on his loan deal.

Amid a striker crisis in January, United signed Ighalo from the Chinese Super League side on loan until the end of the season.

And in his time at Old Trafford, the Nigeria international has impressed, scoring four goals and providing experienced back-up.

However, due to the coronavirus pandemic forcing the Premier League to take an enforced break, Ighalo’s deal which was until the end of the season is now due to expire next week.

And according to the Daily Mail, attempts by United to extend the deal by another three months have been rebuffed by Shanghai, who want the striker back for the start of their season.

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As it stands, against his personal wishes, Ighalo will leave Manchester and return to China, missing the resumption of the Premier League.

The report says United have been paying £130,000 of Ighalo’s £400,000-a-week salary.

Losing Ighalo would leave United short in attack with just Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood as their only recognised forwards.

But Marcus Rashford has been able to start training again after originally being set to miss the second half of the season with a stress fracture in his back.

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Should Rashford get back to full fitness, he could play a pivotal role in United’s final games of the campaign.

Speaking earlier this month in a discussion with former British No 1 Andy Murray, Rashford spoke openly about feeling like he didn’t ‘belong’ with the first-team in the months before his stunning breakthrough in 2016 when he scored four goals in his first two games for United.

He said: “I remember a couple of months before my debut I was on the bench and at that moment I didn’t feel ready. I didn’t feel like I belonged in the first team.

“You know that’s why timing is so important. I wasn’t ready to play that game so I think the manager knew what he was doing at the time.

“Van Gaal is very experienced with young players and he wanted to wait for the right time.

“When I made my debut it just felt natural, it just felt like I was playing with my normal team-mates.“I just remember doing normal stuff like going to college about four days later.

“We had two games in three days and the next day after that I had college and there was press outside my college and I didn’t understand what the big fuss was all about.

“Because in my mind I was just going to college to finish what I started in that year.”

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David Luiz insists he will leave Arsenal soon as he reveals next destination

Arsenal star David Luiz insists he wants to end his career at Benfica hinting that he could be on his way out of the Emirates very soon. Luiz joined the Gunners from London rivals Chelsea last summer and signed a two-year contract with the north Londoners where he features regularly in the starting line-up.

However, an extension seems unlikely as the defender is now 33 years old and has made it clear that he would like to retire with former club Benfica.

Luiz broke into the scene during his four-year stint with the Portuguese giants and then moved to Chelsea in 2011 where he took his career to new heights.

The Brazil international enjoyed tremendous success throughout his two tenures at Stamford Bridge and also won trophies with Paris Saint-Germain in between.

The centre-back now remains loyal to Arsenal but his heart is set on putting an end to his career at the Estadio da Luz with a Benfica shirt on.

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Luiz told Benfica’s official website: “I always said that I would like to end my career at Benfica.

“In football everything changes, what is true today, tomorrow is a lie, but my feeling is not! I love Benfica.

“My dream is to step on the pitch of Estadio da Luz in their colours.

“For all that I lived and felt, for what Benfica is in my life and in my history, for everything, Benfica is bigger than any player.”

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This is not the first time Luiz makes such statements as he said earlier this year that he has never lost connection with Benfica.

The Brazilian said: “I never lost my connection with Benfica, I have that in my heart, everybody knows I want to come back.

“I want to wear the Benfica shirt again and feel that sensation. The day I come back to the Estadio da Luz it is going to be very special, one of the greatest feelings of my life.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, though, wants Luiz to stay at the Emirates for next season and even seems keen to offer him an extension.

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Arteta insists he is “delighted” with his performances and the way he interacts with his team-mates on the pitch.

The Spaniard said: “He is a player that has won more trophies than anybody else in that dressing room.

“We have to use that in a very powerful way. I am very pleased with him. In the games he has played under me so far he has been terrific.

“‘His attitude in training, the way he communicates with his team-mates, his desire to still learn, it’s superb. I am delighted with him.”

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How Man Utd could line up if Jadon Sancho and two other Bundesliga stars join

Manchester United are hellbent on signing Jadon Sancho this summer, with the Borussia Dortmund star Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s top transfer target. However, the Red Devils also have interest in Erling Haaland and Kai Havertz, who are both in fine form. Express Sport now takes a look at how United could line up should they sensationally manage to sign all three.

Jadon Sancho

Manchester United have struggled with right wingers ever since Cristiano Ronaldo upped and left for Real Madrid in 2009.

Angel Di Maria, Alexis Sanchez and Memphis Depay have all toiled on the flank when played there – which is why the Red Devils want Sancho.

They feel the England international can fare better than the trio, deeming him a generational talent.

And that’s why, should he sign, he’d be deployed on the wing that has caused United so many problems over the years.

He’d represent a substantial upgrade on Daniel James, who has fared well since his move from Swansea in the summer.

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Erling Haaland

United still want to sign Haaland one day – despite the Norway international rejecting them in January.

And, should he join, the Red Devils would deploy him in the No 9 role.

Haaland is far deadlier than Anthony Martial, despite the France international enjoying a positive campaign at Old Trafford.

He’d be able to link up with Sancho, who he currently plays with at Dortmund.

And Haaland and Sancho would both be formidable alongside Marcus Rashford, who has taken his game to new heights this season.

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Kai Havertz

While United’s links to Havertz have admittedly been fleeting, Solskjaer is an admirer of the Bayer Leverkusen star.

And it’s easy to see why.

He’s already scored four times since the Bundesliga came back and has 10 goals to his name in the league, with five assists too.

If United were to snap up the Germany international he could take Bruno Fernandes’ place in the No 10 role.

The Portugal international could then drop deeper into midfield – taking Paul Pogba’s place with the midfielder of interest to Real Madrid and Juventus.

Full United XI: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw, Fernandes, McTominay, Havertz, Sancho, Haaland, Rashford

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Erling Haaland praised

Haaland didn’t score for Dortmund in their Bundesliga clash with Wolfsburg on Saturday – but he was praised by ESPN pundit Shaka Hislop nonetheless.

“Erling Haaland is unique in what he does,” he said.

“His size, his strength, his pace, but as a goalkeeper I think his biggest asset is how quickly he hits the ball, with no backlift, and how clean he hits it.

“When he puts his foot on the ball, you know it’ll be something special.

“As a goalkeeper you have to find your position a whole lot sooner than you would ordinarily.

“You have to be prepared for everything that comes, because he doesn’t mis-hit.”

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Kai Havertz price tag set as Chelsea and Liverpool learn how much Leverkusen ace will cost

Kai Havertz is one of the brightest talents in European football and has been linked with a move to the Premier League this summer. The Bayer Leverkusen star is reportedly attracting attention from Manchester United but Chelsea and Liverpool are thought to be leading the race for his signature.

Havertz has scored 14 goals and provided eight assists in 36 appearances across all competitions so far this term, including four strikes in two matches since the Bundesliga restarted last weekend.

That form has seen a number of European heavyweights take an interest in the 20-year-old, who is under contract at the BayArena until 2022.

The current coronavirus crisis is expected to have a significant impact on the summer transfer market, with cash-only deals becoming rarer and swaps on the rise as clubs look to protect their finances and key playing assets.

However, that is not to say that every deal is off the table and Havertz is one such player who could still make a move – if the price is right.

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Back in March, Leverkusen manger Peter Bosz valued his star man at upwards of €100million (£90m) in an interview with Dutch outlet Algemaan Dagblad.

And that figure could even be slightly conservative, based on the latest figures from CIES Football Observatory.

Their unique algorithm, which takes into account age, contract status and on-field performances, places a price tag of between €90million and €120million on Havertz.

This is the equivalent of between £80.6million and £107.5million, albeit this figure has not been updated since March 11.

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Therefore it could well be that Havertz’s market value has decreased significantly in the past two months as the full extent of the coronavirus outbreak became apparent.

It is unlikely that such huge fees will change hands this summer, although Liverpool have few other targets on their radar while Chelsea have not spent significant sums in recent windows due to a transfer ban.

The Blues have also been linked with Leicester left-back Ben Chilwell, who is expected to cost £80m – the same fee Manchester United paid for Harry Maguire last summer.

Frank Lampard is also monitoring Jadon Sancho but the Borussia Dortmund winger is expected to cost £120m with United having reportedly expressed an interest.

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Havertz would therefore represent a slightly cheaper alternative to Sancho, although he is not considered a like-for-like substitute.

The player himself refused to be drawn on rumours surrounding a summer move, saying: I’m concentrating on this season and will see what happens afterwards.

“I am very grateful to Leverkusen and I don’t want to mess it up in any way.”

However, the German has previously admitted he is ready for a move away and could depart the Bundesliga in the near future.

“I’m ready to take a big step, and I like challenges. For me, this also includes abroad,” Havertz recently told SportBild.

“Leverkusen are a great club, I feel good. I have always said that. But of course I want to take the next step in my career at some point. That’s my ambition.

“The coach is a very important person for me. It must be a good fit. You can see that with our coach, Peter Bosz. For me, the sporting direction of the club is also reflected in the choice of coach.”

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Anthony Martial backed to leave Man Utd if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer signs transfer replacement

Manchester United will allow Anthony Martial to leave the club if they sign a world-class replacement, reckons former West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop. Hislop says Martial has looked unhappy at United and would not be surprised if he wants to seek pastures new. The French forward is the Red Devils’ second-top scorer this season with 16 goals in all competitions.

Martial has played in a central striker role for the majority of the campaign following the departure of Romelu Lukaku last summer.

But despite the 24-year-old’s success, Hislop can see him pushing for a move if United strengthen in attack.

Two strikers linked with a move to United are Lyon’s Moussa Dembele and RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner.

“I can see [Martial] departing Old Trafford,” Hislop told ESPN.

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“At times he’s cut a forlorn figure and not looked happy with his football.

“The challenge is, I don’t see why Manchester United let him go right now.

“Manchester United don’t have an awful lot of world-class talent in that dressing room and Martial is one of their brightest talents.

“So until you find a replacement for him, until you can pack that dressing room with players as good as or better than, I don’t see why you let him go.

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“It makes sense for Martial to look for an exit right now, it just doesn’t make sense for Manchester United and they’re holding the cards.”

Meanwhile, former United right-back Paul Parker insists Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the right man to lead the club forward despite Mauricio Pochettino being available after his gardening leave at Tottenham ended.

“You talk about Pochettino, he’s been mentioned a lot of late,” Parker said on talkSPORT.

“I’ve seen today he’s doing something on TV, he’s about and people are trying to push him towards jobs.

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“You throw him in at Manchester United and it’s an easy one to do, to say Poch at a big club, something could happen.

“But we have to say that things at United have shown, with how they finished before this situation started, it would have suggested they would have been there until the last kick of the ball to get into the Champions League.

“They had turned around, [Solskjaer] had turned them around as a team, as a club, the whole place was definitely moving forward.

“So United at this moment are going forward, we’ll wait and see what happens when things start again, but if you’re judging it now it’s wrong that people are still trying to get that man [Solskjaer] out of that job.”

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Real Madrid chiefs considering shock Mauricio Pochettino move in blow to Newcastle

Mauricio Pochettino is believed to be Newcastle’s first-choice manager if their takeover is completed and Steve Bruce is sacked, but according to reports in France Real Madrid are ready to pounce and steal the Argentine boss from under the Magpies’ noses. Le10 Sport claims Madrid president Florentino Perez is considering sacking Zinedine Zidane and replacing him with Pochettino.

Pochettino’s future is currently up in the air after his gardening leave ended.

The 48-year-old was fired by Tottenham late last year, being replaced by Jose Mourinho.

Since then, he has been linked with a host of clubs, but it was reported that any Premier League club would have to pay Spurs in order to hire him before the end of the season.

Newcastle are apparently ready to hire him once their £300million takeover is completed, with Bruce set for the sack.

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But according to French outlet Le10 Sport, Madrid president Perez would consider sacking Zidane this summer and replacing him with Pochettino.

Zidane has only been back at the Bernabeu for a year, and there has been no indication that club chiefs are unhappy with him.

However, with Pochettino set to go off the market, Perez is reportedly keeping the idea in the back of his mind.

Perez would reportedly only pull the trigger on Zidane if he failed to win a trophy this season once play resumes.

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Madrid are currently second in La Liga, just a point behind Barcelona, and are still in the Champions League and Spanish cup.

Despite it being highly unlikely that Madrid would part ways with Zidane, it is seemingly a slight possibility that they could steal him from under Newcastle’s noses.

Speaking during the week, Pochettino spoke about his next move for the first time since leaving Spurs.

He insisted that he is ready to return to football, and declared that he wouldn’t have to coach a team in the top six, opening the door to Newcastle.

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“The problem is which club are top six? It always changes,” he said.

“Today Tottenham and Arsenal are not in the top six. You need to respect all the clubs.

“They are all working so hard, investing and spending money. They all assign a new strategy each season to reach the top four, top six or top eight.

“You cannot underestimate any person, any institute or any club. That is why the Premier League is one of the toughest – all the clubs have the capacity to find a way to be competitive.”

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Newcastle and Wolves ready to offer Chelsea flop Gonzalo Higuain transfer – EXCLUSIVE

Chelsea flop Gonzalo Higuain could be offered another crack at the Premier League with Newcastle United and Wolves both interested. Juventus are keen to offload the former Real Madrid hit-man this summer and both Newcastle poised for a Saudi takeover and Wolves are keen.

The Magpies new owners are looking for big-name signings to announce their intentions and haven’t been put off by Higuain, 32 struggling when he was at Stamford Bridge.

He only found the net five times in 18 appearances when he reunited with his former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri for the second half of last season.

The Blues had an option to extend his loan for another season but declined, and Higuain returned to Juve where he has scored eight times in 33 appearances.

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The Argentinean international is also a target for his first club River Plate and has also started to explore if he has any options in the MLS.

But he would consider any offers from the Premier League as he weighs up what is likely to be the last move of his long and mostly successful career.

Higuain has recently opened up on his future and has admitted he could return to Argentina before he retires.

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He told TyC Sports: “River are a club that gave me everything, from letting me develop to Real Madrid buying me, but right now I don’t know what’s going to happen. My head is here [in Turin].

“[Marcelo] Gallardo’s team are very exciting, they have quality, strength, everything.

“The truth that you watch them and their number nine gets many chances. Clearly someone who played for River before will watch that team, see themselves there and say, ‘how nice’.

“Gallardo has caught everyone’s eyes and he’s earned it. I’d think about going back to River to retire.”

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Higuain has 75 caps for Argentina, scoring 35 goals.

His time with the national team has seen him finish in second at the 2014 World Cup and in the 2015 and 2016 Copa America.

Newcastle could have money to spend this summer with a £300million takeover currently ongoing.

The Magpies have been linked with a number of huge stars including Philippe Coutinho and Kalidou Koulibaly.

And Wolves will look to further strengthen after establishing themselves as top half side in the Premier League.

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Borussia Dortmund’s Bundesliga win over Wolfsburg shows one player is rejuvenated

Borussia Dortmund continued their battle to win the Bundesliga title with a narrow 2-0 victory over Wolfsburg at the Volkswagen Arena. And Raphael Guerreiro continued his blistering form, opening the scoring before Achraf Hakimi made the result safe. It suggests that, having struggled in the weeks before the coronavirus crisis brought football to a halt, Guerreiro is back to his best.

Dortmund’s biggest problem this season has been consistency.

There’s no denying that, on their day, they’re one of the biggest attacking forces on the planet. With players like Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus and Erling Haaland they’ve got a strike force that many can only dream of.

Last time out, Dortmund were at their blistering best.

Schalke were battered 4-0 at the Westfalenstadion, ensuring Lucien Favre’s side claim the bragging rights in the Gelsenkirchen derby.

Erling Haaland opened the scoring that afternoon, scoring his 13th goal for the club following his January arrival from Red Bull Salzburg.

There was a goal for Thorgan Hazard, too, with the Belgian irresistible on the day.

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But the star of the show for Dortmund that day was Guerreiro, who scored two impressive goals for Favre’s team.

And, on Saturday against Wolfsburg, the 26-year-old stepped up to ensure his side pick up three crucial points in the battle for the league title.

Of all the Dortmund players who have featured since the Bundesliga’s return, it is the Portugal international who has been the standout.

Before football stopped, he was struggling.

He failed to score or assist in two matches against PSG, while also failing to sparkle in matches against the likes of Werder Bremen, Freiburg and Borussia Monchengladbach.

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That has led to calls for Favre to drop him and give him a breather – particularly with Julian Brandt mostly on the bench.

But Guerreiro has been resurgent in recent times and now appears rejuvenated, keeping Dortmund’s title hopes alive.

He’s made himself nearly undroppable at the perfect time, too.

With Jadon Sancho still feeling his way back to full fitness, there’s been an opening out wide. And Guerreiro has now surely played his way into the side for Tuesday’s epic showdown with Bayern Munich.

Whether he can blitz the current Bundesliga champions remains to be seen.

But he’s gone back to the player he can be and that will no doubt worry Hans-Dieter Flick’s side.

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Borussia Dortmund fixtures: The next five matches for Lucien Favre’s side

Bayern Munich – May 26 – 5.30pm.

Paderborn – May 31 – 5pm.

Hertha Berlin – June 6 – 5.30pm.

Dusseldorf – June 13 – 2.30pm.

Mainz – June 17 – 7.30pm.

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Liverpool target Kai Havertz advised he will be a ‘special player’ by improving one thing

Liverpool transfer target Kai Havertz will be “even more special” than he already is if he can continue to improve in the air, according to former Bayern Munich midfielder Owen Hargreaves. Havertz scored twice for Bayer Leverkusen in their Bundesliga comeback match against Werder Bremen last Monday. Both of the attacking midfielder’s goals in the 4-1 win were headers.

Hargreaves is a big fan of the 20-year-old Germany international, who also opened the scoring for Leverkusen against Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday – his ninth Bundesliga goal of the campaign.

Liverpool are linked with a move for Havertz and Hargreaves claims he is good enough for most teams in world football.

But the pundit says Havertz will be rated even higher if he can continue to work on his headed game.

“I think everybody’s been talking about Kai Havertz and we’ve seen him for a couple of seasons already, he’s a really special young player,” Hargreaves said on BT Sport.

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“He scored a couple of headed goals against Bremen and the thing is if he can add this to his game then wow, he really will be a special player.

“In terms of goals, assists, creativity, his height, his versatility – everything about his game is really special.

“If he can add more headed goals, because of his physical frame, then he’s going to be an even more special player.

“I think he fits into almost any team in the world and first game back, two goals is pretty good.

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“He’s one the fans are going to love watching because he’s a super special player.”

Meanwhile, former Liverpool midfielder Don Hutchison reckons Anfield is a good destination for Havertz – a player he has compared to former Germany star Mesut Ozil.

“I think he’s far too good for Leverkusen,” Hutchison told ESPN FC.

“I think he goes to the very biggest clubs in Europe and I think he walks into most sides.

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“He’s certainly got to fight for his place but the talent’s there at 20 years of age.

“The one player I would liken him to is a taller, faster version of Mesut Ozil.

“I think he plays off the left-hand side, through the middle, he’s predominantly left-footed, he’s very silky, easy on the eye.

“So again yes Liverpool would be a great fit but even Barca rate him that highly they are willing to trade three players for him.”

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Erling Haaland: Borussia Dortmund star may join Real Madrid because of one player

Erling Haaland is a Real Madrid transfer target with Zinedine Zidane eager to sign the Borussia Dortmund star, reports say. And it’s claimed he could head to the Bernabeu in order to team up with close friend and rising star Martin Odegaard. The Norway international has flourished on loan at Real Sociedad this season.

Haaland was a relative unknown a year ago but, over the past 12 months, the 19-year-old has established himself as one of the deadliest players on the planet.

He scored 28 goals from 22 games for Red Bull Salzburg before choosing to join Dortmund during the January transfer window.

The teenager has continued his stunning form over in Germany, scoring 13 goals from 12 Bundesliga matches to spark interest from Europe’s elite.

Real are on the lookout for a new striker to replace Karim Benzema, with the France international on the wane.

They’re also expected to lose Luka Jovic this summer. The Serbia international has endured a nightmare first season at the club since arriving from Eintracht Frankfurt in the summer.

And Diario Madrisita claim Real are eager to bring Haaland to the Spanish capital come the end of the season.

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It’s suggested he could choose to move to Spain in order to team up with compatriot Odegaard, who is finally living up to his potential.

Real signed the playmaker back in January 2015, giving the midfielder a contract worth £50,000-a-week despite him being just 15 at the time.

He’s had to work hard in order to realise his potential, suffering setbacks aplenty along the way.

But Odegaard has sparkled on loan this season at Real Sociedad, suggesting he may be able to live up to lofty expectations after all.

The 21-year-old has scored four La Liga goals, while also registering five assists from 23 matches.

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And he’s impressed in the Copa del Rey, too, scoring three times and clocking up three assists from six matches in total.

Norway are hoping that Haaland and Odegaard can spearhead a bright new era for the country.

And Real, it seems, could have both players in Zidane’s squad by this time next year.

They have, however, been scrutinised by former Haaland coach Alf Ingve Berntsen for missing out on Haaland when he was available in January.

And Berntsen thinks the teenage talent would be the ideal fit for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, saying: “I’m a fan of Liverpool, so of course I would like to see him play for them.

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“English football is by far the most popular in Norway.

“And most young Norwegian footballers dream of playing in the Premier League, as did Erling’s father (former Leeds and Manchester City midfielder Alf Inge Haaland).

“I sincerely believe that he has the skills to play at such a club.

“I don’t know what the strategies of Real Madrid, Manchester United or the other big clubs are with regard to Erling. But if I had been responsible for the six to eight best clubs in the world, I would have bought him immediately.

“He is already very good, he has shown a great personality, he scores a lot of goals whatever the level of the opponents, and he is only 19 years old.

“He will continue to develop and in two years he will be one of the best.”

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