Chelsea ace Christian Pulisic sent Lukaku, De Bruyne, Salah message over Blues future

Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic could follow in the footsteps of Romelu Lukaku, Mohamed Salah and Kevin de Bruyne by walking away from Stamford Bridge in order to play consistent first-team football and continue his development. That’s the opinion of ex-USA international Herculez Gomez, who thinks Pulisic will have to fight for “everything” at Chelsea.

Pulisic had a mixed time during his first season at Stamford Bridge following his £57million move from Borussia Dortmund.

The young American made 16 appearances in the Premier League and had a decent spell in the starting XI before a muscle injury ended his campaign.

He was played primarily on either wing supporting lone striker Tammy Abraham, and popped up with four goals and two assists.

The Blues aren’t short of options out wide, and added to their attacking reinforcements by signing Hakim Ziyech from Ajax.

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And Gomez indicated that Pulisic could become the latest player to leave Chelsea after growing frustrated over a lack of playing time.

Lukaku, Salah and De Bruyne all left the club at an early age to get first-team football before becoming top players, and the ex-America striker hinted Pulisic could be next.

Speaking on ESPN FC, he said: “This is just life at a big club.

“Just to throw out some names you’ve got Lukaku, Salah, Kevin de Bruyne, Higuain, they’ve all made some sort of stop at Chelsea and then you’re gone.

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“If you can’t produce in that half-season or whatever they give you, that’s it and it’s on to the next. That’s life at a big club.

“If I’m Christian Pulisic, I’d never get comfortable, I have to fight for everything.”

However, ex-Chelsea player Craig Burley insisted that Pulisic will be a big part of Frank Lampard’s plans for next season.

He added: “I think they like him a lot and have seen glimpses.

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“But ultimately they want to see him over a full season.

“Frank Lampard didn’t pay a lot of money for him, it was the board who paid a lot of money for him. Lampard just inherited him.

“I think Lampard gave him ample opportunities after a slow start, and I think he saw glimpses of what Pulisic can do.

“I think Pulisic will play a big part next season, but he’ll have competition for places.”

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Chelsea expected to battle three Premier League rivals for in-demand Bournemouth star

Chelsea could be one of four high-profile Premier League clubs said to be monitoring Josh King ahead of a summer transfer. The Bournemouth striker has established himself in the top flight after a number of eye-catching seasons and is now being linked with a move up the table.

King is well-regarded in the Premier League, maintaining a strike-rate of nearly a goal every three games for the Cherries since moving to the Vitality Stadium in 2015.

And four of the traditional top-six clubs are interested in signing up the 28-year-old, according to Sky Sports.

Manchester United made a £20million bid for King on deadline day in January, although this was rejected so the Red Devils signed Odion Ighalo on loan from Shanghai Shenhua instead.

With Ighalo due to return to China when his loan expires, United are on the hunt for a new striker and it is logical that they could revisit their approach for King.

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Meanwhile, the report from Sky Sports points out that Chelsea are also on the lookout for attacking reinforcements this summer.

Manager Frank Lampard is hoping to sign a frontman who can ease the goalscoring burden on Tammy Abraham, with Moussa Dembele, Timo Werner and Victor Osimhen all linked.

Olivier Giroud has recently signed a 12-month extension on his contract at Stamford Bridge but Michy Batshuayi is expected to move on after failing to convince the Blues boss of his worth.

King could therefore fill the void left by the Belgian and would provide the west London club with vital attacking versatility.

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The Norwegian is renowned for his link-up play, often dovetailing well with England international Callum Wilson, and can also play out wide due to his impressive pace.

He has scored 48 times for Bournemouth in 163 appearances, while notching 17 goals in 46 international outings.

King has just one year left on his current contract and is expected to leave this summer as the Cherries cash in.

Meanwhile, Tottenham are searching for a back-up to Harry Kane as the north London outfit often struggle on the rare occasions when their captain is sidelined due to injury.

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Spurs could therefore be the third club monitoring King while Arsenal would complete the quartet, with Liverpool and Manchester City presumably happy with their attacking options.

King started his career in the Manchester United academy and was frustrated that a return to the club did not come to fruition earlier this year.

Speaking to Norwegian broadcaster TV2, he said: “How close it was I have no complete answer to.

“I have to watch what I say. I had some faith that it was going to happen.

“And it was a bit sensitive for me considering that I moved to England as a 16-year-old to achieve my dream and wanted to reach that goal at Manchester United.”

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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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Chelsea make transfer decision on Kepa replacement as Valencia chase deal

Kepa Arrizabalaga is reportedly wanted by Valencia and could join the La Liga outfit, either permanently or on loan for the 2020/21 campaign. Chelsea are set to replace the Spaniard with Ajax stopper Andre Onana, although the Blues have also been linked with a host of other targets.

Kepa has endured a tough time at Stamford Bridge since his world record £71million move from Athletic Bilbao in 2018, falling out with former boss Maurizio Sarri before being dropped by Lampard midway through the current season.

But the 25-year-old has still made 33 appearances across all competitions so far this season and has a number of admirers around Europe.

Mundo Deportivo claim Valencia are the latest club to show an interest in signing the Chelsea goalkeeper.

The Spanish publication suggest Kepa is viewed as a solid replacement for Jasper Cillessen, who has seen injuries plague his time at the Mestalla.

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The Dutchman moved from Barcelona last summer but has managed just 16 La Liga outings and other reports indicate that he is now being touted for a return to Ajax.

Such a transfer would fit nicely with Chelsea’s plans, as the Blues have been monitoring Ajax keeper Onana ahead of a potential move.

However, Barcelona are also said to be keen on the Nigerian and any move from the Catalan giants would cast doubt on Neto’s position at the Nou Camp.

The Brazilian moved from Valencia at the start of last season, trading places with Cillessen to provide cover for Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

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If Chelsea manage to snap up Onana, Kepa will be more than likely to move on as he looks for guaranteed game time ahead of the rescheduled Euro 2021 tournament.

The Blues have already confirmed Willy Caballero will remain at Stamford Bridge next season, with the Argentine having signed a 12-month contract extension last week.

However, the 38-year-old is unlikely to be Frank Lampard’s first choice in a team focused on bringing through youth talent.

The Blues boss is expected to be busy during the summer transfer window, looking to make a number of signings in key positions.

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A new left-back is required with both Marcos Alonso and Emerson Palmieri expected to depart, although it remains to be seen whether Chelsea have the funds to spend £80million on Ben Chilwell.

Further forward, Lampard wants attacking signings to complement the imminent arrival of Hakim Ziyech and is pursuing Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho.

However, the England international is also wanted by Manchester United and valued at £120m so Philippe Coutinho or Kai Havertz may be more realistic signings.

Finally, the Blues desire a striker to share the goalscoring burden with Tammy Abraham and Lyon frontman Moussa Dembele appears favourite to make the move to west London.

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Chelsea hero Michael Essien names the two players who stopped him from joining Man Utd

Michael Essien has revealed how two former Chelsea team-mates combined to prevent the Ghanaian from joining Manchester United. The Blues hero insists he would have loved to play for the Red Devils but couldn’t resist when Jose Mourinho intervened and engineered a move to Stamford Bridge.

Essien made his name in Ligue 1 with Bastia and secured a move to Lyon in 2003, going on to win back-to-back titles in a star-studded side under Paul Le Guen.

The combative midfielder earned plenty of admirers around Europe and was soon the victim of a transfer tug-of-war between Paris Saint-Germain, United and Chelsea.

The Red Devils were leading the race to sign Essien throughout 2005 but it was the Blues who eventually prevailed, shelling out £24.4million to make him their club record signing after some quick work involving Mourinho, future Chelsea ace Florent Malouda and Blues striker Didier Drogba.

Speaking to South African reporter Carol Tshabalala (via The Metro) Essien said: “My second year at Lyon, when we finished the season, I came back to start pre-season with them and I came back very happy to start pre-season.

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“That’s when the other teams started coming in like Chelsea and Manchester United.

“At that point I’d have loved to have joined United. But I was speaking with Jose every other day and he made It clear, very straight to me, that he wanted me to join Chelsea and there was only Chelsea that could pay the transfer fee at that time.

“It was not easy but I remember the first time I spoke to Jose. I went to Malouda’s house for a barbeque and then during the barbeque Drogba called him and he and Drogba started speaking because they are very close and then Drogba asked him, ‘When you see Michael, whenever you see him, can you tell him Jose wants his number, Jose wants to talk to him?’ but then he said, ‘No, Michael is here, we’re having a barbeque!’.

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“So he gave the phone to me and I started speaking to Drogba and that’s how we started. I passed on my number to him and he passed it on to Jose and that’s when everything started. It was a tough transfer saga.”

Essien’s move was rewarded with a trophy-laden nine-year spell in west London where he won two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, the League Cup, Community Shield and the 2011/12 Champions League.

The 37-year-old, now plying his trade with Sabail in the Azerbaijan Premier League, also revealed that he met former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier at the Reds Melwood training ground for talks long before joining the Blues.

“I had lot of offers [when I was at Bastia]. I was close to signing for Liverpool when Gerard Houllier was their coach,” Essien said in an interview on Instagram Live, via the Daily Mail.

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“I even went to Melwood to meet the coach. We had a talk and I returned to France but the offers were still coming.

“PSG, Olympique Marseille et al, but I told Bastia I didn’t want to move and they also didn’t want to sell me at that time because they wanted me to stay for another year which was fine with me because I also didn’t want to leave the club.

“So I stayed for another season, that’s my third year with the club.

“Lyon joined the three aforementioned clubs to enquire about me but I thought it was too early to move to England.”

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Chelsea ‘confident’ of beating Arsenal to midfield transfer, Frank Lampard key advantage

Chelsea news LIVE updates: All the latest news and gossip from Stamford Bridge

Monday, May 18

  • Chelsea are on the trail of Feyenoord midfielder Lamare Bogarde
  • Frank Lampard is ‘confident’ of beating rival suitors Arsenal and Spurs
  • The Blues boast a key advantage over Barcelona in the pursuit of Miralem Pjanic
  • Chelsea signing Hakim Ziyech has been tipped to ‘destroy’ the Premier League

Wanted: Lamare Bogarde

Chelsea are on the trail of Feyenoord midfielder Lamare Bogarde.

That’s according to Football Insider, who claim Frank Lampard is eager to bring the Holland talent to Stamford Bridge in the upcoming transfer window.

It’s thought that Chelsea chiefs are ‘confident’ of beating rival suitors Arsenal, Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund to the teenager’s signature.

The defensive midfielder, 16, has been tipped for stardom having shone at Under-16 level for Holland and Feyenoord’s youth squads.

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Chelsea advantage

Chelsea reportedly boast a key advantage over Barcelona in the pursuit of Miralem Pjanic, despite the La Liga giants supposedly closing in on the Juventus midfielder.

Reports from Spanish publication Sport this week suggested that both Pjanic and team-mate Mattia De Sciglio could move to Nou Camp in exchange for Nelson Semedo, as long as Juventus sweeten the deal with £22million.

However, Gazzetta dello Sport combat this by saying such reports are fanciful and Chelsea in fact hold the cards in the pursuit of Pjanic.

The Italian outlet say that Juventus only want midfielder Arthur, not Semedo, from the Catalan side’s squad but the Brazilian is not keen on leaving the Nou Camp.

Chelsea are therefore in prime position to make a move for Pjanic with Jorginho the ‘ace in the hole’ who could be key to the transfer.

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Ziyech tipped to ‘destroy’ Premier League

Chelsea signing Hakim Ziyech has been tipped to ‘destroy’ the Premier League when he finally arrives at Stamford Bridge, according to Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana.

The Moroccan midfielder agreed a £33.4million move from Ajax in February and is due to join up with Frank Lampard’s squad this summer.

“When he leaves Ajax, we will lose the most brilliant player on the team. It will not be easy,” Onana told Dutch outlet NOS. “He was already here when I got here. I can understand why. I understand his choice.

“I am happy for him and proud of what he has done for this club. I wish him the best of luck. He’s going to destroy everything in the Premier League.”

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Chelsea were rejected by Spanish midfielder due to three key reasons

Joaquin has revealed how he rejected a move to Chelsea because of he did not want to adapt to English culture. The Spanish midfielder instead carved out an impressive career in La Liga, becoming a club legend at Real Betis while also enjoying a five-year spell at Valencia.

Joaquin was scouted by Jose Mourinho during the Portuguese manager’s first spell at Stamford Bridge, with the former Blues boss travelling to Spain in order to get a closer look at the winger.

Mourinho was reportedly ready to snap up the mercurial talent before Joaquin himself pulled the plug on a move, deciding a switch to England was not something he would enjoy.

The 38-year-old, who is still playing for Betis and has made over 400 appearances for the club, has recounted how he snubbed the Blues boss – with the meeting believed to have taken place ahead of the January transfer window during the 2004/05 season.

Speaking about his reasons for rejecting Chelsea, Joaquin told AS: “First, because I didn’t want to leave Betis.

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“A week before we had played at the Bernabeu against England. I had a great match and Jose was there, he was interested.

“A few days later I recorded an advertisement in Madrid and when I returned on the AVE [high-speed rail], my father tells me that Mourinho is in Seville, waiting for me at the Alfonso XIII hotel.

“And I’m on the train thinking about England, the weather, the language… I made a cocoa and when I arrived, I told to my father: ‘Dad, I’m not going’. Anyway, he’s going to convince me, I thought.

“And I did not go. The next day Mourinho returned and [Manuel Ruiz de] Lopera [former Real Betis chairman] told me that I had to sell myself for the future of the club. I answered no.”

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Joaquin won the Copa del Rey with Betis that season but did eventually leave for Valencia in 2006 after his relationship with Lopera had deteriorated even further.

The winger was sold for €25million (£22.3m) and enjoyed five successful years at the Mestalla, winning the Copa del Rey again in 2007/08.

However, the Spaniard may look back on his decision to snub Chelsea with some regret after Mourinho’s side went on to win back-to-back Premier League titles.

Joaquin moved to Malaga in 2011 before a brief spell in Italy with Fiorentina in 2013.

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Two years later he was back at Betis and the player has since acquired a two per cent share in the club, while also earning a contract extension until 2021.

Joaquin racked up 51 international appearances for Spain and holds the impressive record of being the oldest ever hat-trick scorer in La Liga.

The veteran bagged a treble in a stunning 3-2 win over Athletic Bilbao in December, aged 38 years and 140 days.

Betis are currently 12th in La Liga, eight points clear of the relegation zone ahead of a potential return to action in June following the coronavirus lockdown.

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Tammy Abraham on moral dilemma facing Premier League stars over Project Restart

Tammy Abraham has revealed the moral dilemma facing Premier League ­players.

The Chelsea striker admitted he is desperate to get his season up and running again, but watching the news and his own family’s health fears leaves him wondering.

Chelsea players ­had their own group chat on Thursday about the latest Project Restart plans to resume the season.

And Abraham said: “We are humans. We do have feelings as well. It’s tough. I’m watching Sky News every day, waiting for Boris Johnson to make an ­announcement.

“We’re following what’s going on in the world and trying to see if it’s safe or not to go back to football. The most important thing is for everyone to stay well and healthy.

“Everyone wants to come back to football. I love football. I was having a great season and I would love it to continue, but when it’s safe to do so.

“The most ­important thing is to make sure the world is getting better for football to come back. If football can come back in a safe world, then by all means…”

Chelsea players have been training remotely by video link but also having group chats about the prospect of going back.

English football is weeks behind Germany but is facing big decisions in the coming days, with finances and livelihoods at stake.

“We had a chat in a live ­session about a week ago, about coming back to football, and there were a lot of people for it and a lot of people against.

“I feel it will always be that way. I just want to be safe and healthy,” he said.

“I don’t feel like it’s ­rushing. Germany have planned it out well. The coronavirus has not been as big as it’s been in England. I feel they’re going the right way.

“Whatever ­decisions they make are for a good cause. If they bring back the ­Premier League then it’s clearly safe enough to do so. If they don’t then it’s clearly not.

“As players, we’ve just got to be patient and keep waiting for the clubs, the Premier League, the Government and everyone to come to an agreement.”

Abraham has admitted his concerns for his dad Anthony – an asthma sufferer – but even that has brought its own mixed feelings.

They have been watching the Netflix ­documentary series The Last Dance, about Michael Jordan’s final season at the Chicago Bulls, and his dad used that as the reason to return.

He said: “I’ve got his full ­support for going back. He’s one of my biggest fans.

“My parents are always there, and he spoke to me at breakfast and said: ‘You watched the ­Jordan thing, I know you’re ­motivated to go back to football, when you are ready just go out there and do the best you can.’”

Abraham has been keeping fit with a ‘tech table’ playing against his brother Timmy – on loan at Bristol Rovers – as well as ­enjoying his mum’s cooking as the family are in lockdown.

He has not had the virus but had to self-isolate after Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive.


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Premier League clubs fear playing the full 2020/21 season without fans

Premier League clubs are bracing themselves for games behind closed doors for the WHOLE of next season.

Government officials have warned football that crowds may not be allowed back in until a vaccine is found for the coronavirus.

And Mirror Sport understands clubs are now planning for the worst case scenario of not being allowed to have fans in their own stadiums until the 2021/22 season.

That would have disastrous effects on income because clubs would miss out on season ticket sales, sponsorship, retail and it could also impact on TV revenue.

TV companies are already suggesting that if the current season plays out behind closed doors that they may ask for a rebate because the games would not be as exciting.

There is hope within football that a vaccine may become available in February but that would almost be seen as a bonus now because they fear the worst.

Clubs are already making contingency plans and budgets to be without fans and it would clearly also be a massive concern for EFL clubs.

The problem for League One and League Two clubs is that it would actually cost them to play games because they would have to pay wages, bonuses and stewards while getting no income through the turnstiles.

England are also waiting to hear what might happen with the Nations League but there is a growing fear they may not get any international football this calendar year.


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Liverpool could have stopped Cantona becoming Manchester United icon but Souness passed on signing

Former Liverpool boss Graeme Souness has revealed that he passed up the chance to take Eric Cantona to Anfield and prevent him from becoming a legend for arch-rivals Manchester United.

The enigmatic talent had burned his bridges in his native France following Liverpool’s clash with Auxerre in 1991.

Michel Platini, who was manager of Les Bleus at the time, informed Souness after the contest that he was looking to find Cantona a suitable stage on which to showcase his talent.

Clubs in England were sounded out, with Leeds eventually taking a calculated risk on the mercurial forward in January 1992 after he had previously had a trial spell at Sheffield Wednesday.

Cantona spent less than 12 months at Elland Road before being taken to Old Trafford, with five memorable seasons spent with the Red Devils as he helped Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to become the dominant force in English football.

Souness could have prevented that from happening, but the Scot has been left to reflect on what might have been.

He told Sky Sports: “I was manager of Liverpool and we played Auxerre in the Cup Winners’ Cup and we lost 2-0 away, we came back and beat them 3-0.

“After the game, Terry Littlewood, who used to look after the players’ lounge and my lounge, security-wise, knocked on my door and said there’s a pal outside, he’s a good friend of yours and he wants to speak to you.

“I said ‘who is it?’ and he said ‘it’s Michel Platini’. Not a close pal of mine, the only time I had come in contact with him was when I played against him when I was in Italy.

“He came in and said ‘I’ve got a player for you, he’s a real problem in France but he’s really talented and he’d be perfect for your club’. I said ‘look, Michel, I’m fighting fires here at the moment, I’m trying to get some people out of the door that are resisting, I’m fighting a dressing room here. The last thing I need is another controversial figure’.

“Eric of course then came over on trial with Sheffield Wednesday, then signed for Leeds and the rest is history. When he went to United, it was a young team and young players need someone like that on the pitch to look up to. I think Eric was certainly one of them.”

Cantona made 185 appearances for United, helping them to four Premier League titles and two FA Cup triumphs.

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