Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fabio da Silva leads Manchester United's loanees on a voyage of self-improvement

Fabio da Silva
Fabio da Silva is on the verge of signing for Benfica on a season-long loan deal.

United’s Brazilian left-back is being farmed out to gain further experience with the Lisbon club expected to win the battle in Portugal to land him for a campaign, though their domestic rivals Sporting also keen.

The player’s mother has been in the Portuguese capital checking out his potential new home in readiness for her son’s temporary switch.

Consistent Reds skipper Patrice Evra has blocked the 21-year-old’s path to the senior team, while Fabio’s twin brother Rafael has had more joy in the right-back berth.

Phil Jones confident Manchester United will bounce back next season

Phil Jones
Manchester United defender Phil Jones is hoping to bounce back from narrowly losing out to local rivals Manchester City in the Premier League title race by regaining the trophy next season.

The 20-year-old thought that the Red Devils had done enough to win the title in dramatic fashion before City's late comeback to beat QPR saw them finish first, and the youngster is looking to build on the experience.

"It was mixed feelings at the final whistle," Jones told the club's official website. "I thought we'd pulled off the impossible at first, we thought QPR had done us a massive favour with a difficult task of going to the Etihad [Stadium]. But then City scored two goals in quick succession and that killed us.

"I'll take that on board with what I've learned this season. It's been a massive learning curve for me and I've played a lot of games this season and I've really enjoyed playing."

Man United could land Rayo Vallecano midfielder Michu for bargain £3m

Michu (left)
Michu, the highest-scoring midfielder in Spain last season, could move to the Premier League for as little as £3million this summer.

Rayo Vallecano’s financial problems mean the former Real Oviedo and Celta Vigo player, who hit 17 goals in 39 games, is available at significantly less than the club's original £8m asking price.

Manchester United scouts have been watching Michu, 26, and London-based agents DBW have also spoken with several other English clubs, including Liverpool, about him.

Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher to see specialist as he targets return for pre-season

Darren Fletcher
Darren Fletcher will see a specialist next month to determine whether he will be in contention to take part in Manchester United’s pre-season preparations.

The midfielder began an extended break from football in December after suffering from ulcerative colitis, a chronic bowel condition.

The 28-year-old, will see his usual team of specialists next month and sources at Old Trafford say the club are optimistic that he will get the all-clear to start pre-season training in July.

Earlier this year, there were rumours that the Scot may be forced to retire from football but having played his last game against Benfica in November.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has pulled out of the running to be the next Aston Villa manager

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner has flown back to Birmingham from the United States to step up the search for Alex McLeish's replacement - but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has pulled out of the running.

The former Manchester United star, currently manager of Norwegian side Molde, was interviewed by Lerner over the weekend.

But reports suggest Solskjaer has opted not to be considered McLeish's successor for personal reasons and family commitments.

Solskjaer was the favourite with the bookmakers to take charge of Villa who only just avoided relegation from the Barclays Premier League.

But sources close to the club are keen to stress Solskjaer was never offered the job by Lerner.

Top Five: United CM transfer targets

Luka Modric
Manchester United have been linked with a number of top central midfielders, but who should Sir Alex Ferguson sign to challenge Manchester City next year?

Paul Scholes' five-month return was a success, and the midfield maestro has signed on for another season. But the Giggs-Scholes axis will be available for an ever decreasing number of games next season, and Ferguson is looking ahead to bring in a long-term replacement.

The Old Trafford side have the cash to bring in one of Europe's best, but will most probably look to avoid challenging Manchester City head-to-head in a transfer battle this summer.

With that in mind, GMF looks at five central midfielders who could be heading to Old Trafford in the near future.

Ronaldo bemused by Ferdinand omission

Ronaldo and Ferdinand
Cristiano Ronaldo believes England coach Roy Hodgson has made a fundamental error by not including Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand in his squad for Euro 2012.

Ferdinand was the headline omission when Hodgson announced his 23 players last week, with the former West Brom manager instead favouring John Terry amid suggestions of a strained relationship between the pair.

Terry will make a court appearance shortly after the European Championships accused of racially abusing Ferdinand's brother and Queens Park Rangers defender Anton - an allegation the Chelsea captain denies.

Hodgson has dismissed claims that this had any influence over his though process when selecting his squad, and attributed his decision to omit Ferdinand to purely footballing reasons.

Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley eager to put injury-hit season behind him

Tom Cleverley
Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley is keen to put a nightmare season behind him and look forward to starting afresh in August.

The 22-year-old seemed set to play a pivotal role for the Red Devils' after an impressive start to the campaign but an ankle ligament problem curtailed his involvement and he did not start a Premier League match after October.

"It has been a nightmare at times but I am only 22 and have around 15 years ahead of me yet. I just hope I have got it all over and done with now," he told the Manchester Evening News.

Eden project: Hazard to choose between City, United and Chelsea after England friendly, says agent

Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard will decide which club he will sign for after Belgium's friendly match with England on June 2.

The 21-year-old's agent claims an agreement has been reached with all parties interested in the Belgium international and the final decision now rests with the player himself.

The Lille playmaker is one of Europe's hottest properties and he has been closely linked with a summer transfer to Barclays Premier League rivals Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea.

Lille managing director Frederic Paquet said earlier this week that he believed there were four clubs leading the chase for Hazard but said he did not know where the player would be moving to.

Manchester United set sights on £12m Baines - report

Leighton Baines
Manchester United’s hunt for a long-term successor to Patrice Evra has led them to £12 million-rated Everton left-back Leighton Baines, according to the Daily Mirror.

The Toffees full-back has enjoyed an excellent season at Goodison Park, appearing in the PFA Team of the Year and receiving international recognition with a call-up for England’s Euro 2012 squad.

With current United left-back Patrice Evra set to turn 32 next month, reports are suggesting Sir Alex is on the hunt for a replacement for the French international and that Baines is the Scot's number one target.