Give me the ball faster


Cristiano Ronaldo has told Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that Man United need to play faster for him – ESPN’s Insider Diary has the latest. MORE: Football’s push for mixed matches.

Go to: Mixed matches in football? | taekwondo champion signs for Barca | Salah’s contract saga booms | Lacazette edges for exit door | Phillips in Leeds renewal talks

Ronaldo wants a faster United

Cristiano Ronaldo’s demand for the highest standards at Manchester United has led manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to urge his players to move the ball faster in attacking areas in order to get the most out of the Portuguese striker, have sources told ESPN.

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Ronaldo has scored five goals in five games for United since returning to Juventus this summer after a 12-year absence. But sources have told ESPN that Ronaldo has made it clear to Solskjaer and his coaches that he can further increase his goal ratio if United get more precise and quicker when distributing the ball in the opposing half.

Ronaldo has been deployed in a central attacking position by Solskjaer since his debut against Newcastle last month, with Jadon Sancho and Mason Greenwood used as reverse wingers alongside the 36-year-old.

Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes were used as attacking midfielders behind Ronaldo, but sources said United’s coaching staff wanted the team’s defensive players to pass the ball to attackers faster, which would help them. will in turn feed Ronaldo and take advantage of opponents. be out of shape at the back.

– Wright Thompson: Ronaldo mania and the fight for the soul of Man United

Sources told ESPN that the United coaching team believe the arrival of Raphael Varane from Real Madrid has helped improve the team’s speed of play, with the France international being more able to move the team forward. ball with rhythm and precision as Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly.

But work is underway on the training ground to send the ball to Ronaldo faster, as Solskjaer tries to make United more ruthless in front of goal. –Marc Ogden

Pioneer Fokkema could pave the way for mixed football

Ellen Fokkema made Dutch football history last week as the first woman to play for a senior men’s league team and sources told ESPN that football associations across Europe hoped the mixed matches could become widespread.

Fokkema, 20, was banned from continuing to play for his team, VV Foarut, because the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) only allowed mixed football until the age of 19. But after a successful pilot program in which Fokkema played seven matches under KNVB Supervision, the Dutch FA changed their eligibility rules in May 2021. This allowed Fokkema to make history when she came into play at the 60th minute in his team “4th Class“Opener (Dutch Ninth Division) against Sleat last weekend.

– Hamilton: The day Fokkema made history

Sources told ESPN that FIFA and UEFA are in talks with KNVB to learn more about the pilot program in the Netherlands that paved the way for Fokkema’s historic appearance, and the German FA also been in contact to request the search results. Fokkema’s seven pilot matches in the senior men’s team were watched by a representative of the KNVB and she was interviewed after each match, along with her opponents.

Sources added that amateur clubs in England are also keen to learn more about the Dutch federation with a view to taking the Fokkema case to the English Football Association to change its eligibility rules.

“I guess this is a big milestone for football in general,” Fokkema told ESPN after his debut last weekend. “The women will be able to choose which team to play on … it’s new, that they have the choice. I hope I won’t be the last, otherwise it would have been for nothing.” – Tom Hamilton

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer talks about Cristiano Ronaldo’s impact since returning to Manchester United.

Ugh! Taekwondo champion is Barca’s new player care manager

Barcelona have named an Olympic taekwondo champion to head their player care department as President Joan Laporta continues to make changes behind the scenes.

Joel Gonzalez, who won a gold medal in London 2012 and a bronze in Rio de Janeiro four years later, replaced Pepe Costa, who moved to Paris Saint-Germain with Lionel Messi. Costa’s contract expired on June 30 and Barca did not offer him a new deal, allowing him to easily follow Messi to France. He was known around Barça as “the shadow of Messi”.

Gonzalez, 31, was recommended for the role by former handball player Enric Masip, who now works as an advisor to Barca boss Laporta. In addition to winning gold in London, which saw him named Spain’s Male Sportsperson of the Year in 2012, Gonzalez is also a two-time taekwondo world champion in the 58 kg (128 lb) division.

His duties at Camp Nou will include building and strengthening relationships with club players and supporting them with any issues they may encounter off the pitch. – Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens

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Ellen Fokkema explains the decision to allow him to train and play for the senior men’s team.

The Salah saga rumbles

The situation with Mohamed Salah’s contract at Liverpool remains unresolved as the forward has yet to make a deal to replace his existing terms which expire in June 2023, but sources told ESPN that his focus and his dedication in the midst of uncertainty have further strengthened his reputation among his teammates.

Salah and fellow strikers Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, who are all free agents at the end of the 2022-2023 season, have yet to extend their contracts, but Salah’s situation is probably the most difficult according to sources, with ongoing talks.

The former Chelsea and Roma forward has previously refused to play down the prospect of a La Liga move, with Real Madrid and Barcelona both linked with the 29-year-old in the past, but neither side are able to recruit Salah. transfer windows ahead due to financial issues at both clubs and Real’s main goal of signing Kylian Mbappe. Paris Saint-Germain have also been admirers of Salah in recent seasons, but the summer signing of Lionel Messi appears to have closed the door to any possible move.

Liverpool are aware of the limited options Salah have to move away from Anfield for a fee in 2022, but with the Egypt international set to turn 30 next June, sources said the club also need to consider the implications long-term commitment. deal for a player who would be in his mid-thirties when he expires.

Despite the off-pitch distraction of his contract, Salah has started the season in impressive form and is the Premier League’s co-top scorer with five goals. Last Saturday’s goal at Brentford saw him become the fastest player in Liverpool history to score 100 Premier League goals.

Sources said Salah had been “sensational” in training and displayed no frustration within the squad or towards manager Jurgen Klopp.

Liverpool have signed an important summer signing in the form of RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate, as the club have spent the past few months securing Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold on new long-term contracts term. –Marc Ogden

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Julien Laurens speaks after Ansu Fati’s goal on his return to Barcelona against Levante in La Liga.

Lacazette lines Arsenal’s exit door

The odds of Alexandre Lacazette leaving Arsenal in January increase as the forward runs out of playing time, sources told ESPN. Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Sevilla are among the clubs that have shown interest in Lacazette, which could be used in a more cash player deal. Arsenal have already spotted Sevilla striker Youssef En-Nesyri.

Lacazette, 30, has made a substitute appearance in the Premier League this season – in August’s 5-0 loss to Manchester City – and the Gunners’ absence from European football this season means there are fewer matches and less chance of rotation.

Manager Mikel Arteta has insisted Lacazette remains part of his plans, but ESPN reported on September 17 that there was no contract offer on the table despite his contract expiring at the end of the season. Lacazette is free to talk to foreign clubs from January 1, but would not be able to make a free transfer until the summer.

However, sources say the France international is inclined to push for a move before that date – a situation that has financial appeal for Arsenal given that they would be able to claim a transfer fee if he left the team. mid-season.

The Gunners are looking for options to reshape their advanced options given the situation with Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah, who Arsenal sources say would have joined Crystal Palace this summer had the player’s agent not complicated a deal one times the agreed transfer fee. – James Olley

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Janusz Michallik speaks after Mohamed Salah became the fifth fastest player to score 100 Premier League goals.

High-demand Phillips discusses deal with Leeds

Leeds United are in talks with England midfielder Kalvin Phillips over a new long-term contract at Elland Road, sources have told ESPN, amid interest from Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United.

Leeds are aware of the growing interest in Phillips following his impressive performances in England’s race to the Euro 2020 final this summer and are determined to reward the player with a lucrative new contract to prevent a ‘he is not tempted to leave the club.

Sources said Liverpool and City are both monitoring Phillips’ progress with Leeds and England, while reports this week have linked United with a move as they seek alternatives to West Ham’s Declan Rice.

But while talks with Leeds are still in their early stages, sources said they were confident a deal could be reached with a player who has become a key figure for coach Marcelo Bielsa. –Marc Ogden


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