United players send heartfelt messages to Martial as he exits Old Trafford

Martial's record is impressive when you consider 90 goals and 47 assists in 317 games but over the past three years, he has been injury-prone

In Summary

•Martial won the Europa League, two League Cups, A Community Shield and two FA Cups during his time despite not appearing in the last three finals.

•Sir James Ratcliffe and his INEOS company management installed at Old Trafford are reviewing the whole 2023/4 season during which Erik Ten Hag’s future will be decided.


Man United's Anthony Martial
Man United's Anthony Martial
Image: FILE

Anthony Martial finally said goodbye to Manchester United players and fans before clearing his locker next week.

Bruno Fernandes was the first and other players followed in sending him their best wishes.

His record is impressive when you consider 90 goals and 47 assists in 317 games but over the past three years, he has been injury-prone and has not played since December 9 due to illness and a recurring groin problem. The new owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has not offered him a new contract.

Martial won the Europa League, two League Cups, A Community Shield and two FA Cups during his time despite not appearing in the last three finals.

Several players sent love heart emojis including Marcus Rashford, Christian Eriksen and Aaron Wan-Bissaka along with messages from Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and ex-player Anthony Elanga, now with Nottingham Forest.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka: “My Guy”…Christian Eriksen: “All the best Anto”…Marcus Rashford: “So many memories together. Stay blessed, brother”…Bruno Fernandes: “I’m going to miss linking up with you Toto.”

Cancelo is facing a difficult summer

After his famous fallout with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, Joao Cancelo was loaned out to Bayern Munich and then on to Barcelona.

The Portuguese full-back did well in Xavi Hernandez’s Barca team, making 41 appearances and scoring eight goals.

Xavi will not lead Barca next season and there is no permanent deal option for the Spanish giants to buy Cancelo and he still has three years left on his City contract.

There seems little chance of him returning to the Catalan capital because Xavi’s replacement Hansi Flick is not an admirer of Cancelo.

The German boss has doubts over his defensive abilities and is likely to look elsewhere for a new full-back.

Given that he has already been to Bayern, he can't return to play for City and will likely not return to Barcelona; it is difficult to predict his future.

 West Ham plans after appointing Lopetegui

Coach Julen Lopetegui
Coach Julen Lopetegui
Image: FILE

Following the disappointing departure of David Moyes from West Ham, new coach Julen Lopetegui has been talking big about his plans to take the club forward next season and into Europe.

Unfortunately, his start has suffered controversy and hindrance. The Hammer’s highly-rated midfielder Lucas Paqueta has been charged with alleged betting breaches which could see him face a lengthy ban.

Paqueta has an £85million release clause in his contract and was the subject of a possible bid by Manchester City.

West Ham had prepared a plan if Paqueta left which would allow Lopetgui to bring in new players including Wolves defender Maximilian Kilman. That plan is now destroyed and the new coach will have less money to spend.

The Hammers are determined to keep Ghana forward Mohammed Kudus and they are also looking for two central defenders, a right-back, a midfielder and a right-footed forward.

Lopetegui had originally been promised he could bring in six new players. His two-year deal plan is to strengthen the defence after conceding 74 goals this past season.

Apart from Kilman, West Ham’s new technical director Tim Steidten has also made enquiries about 28-year-old Brazilian Fabricio Bruno who plays for Flamengo. Steidten was one of five back-room staff brought in with Lopetegui 

Ten Hag calls on United board to strengthen squad

United's manager Erik ten Hag celebrates with the trophy after beating Man City to win FA Cup Final
United's manager Erik ten Hag celebrates with the trophy after beating Man City to win FA Cup Final

Sir James Ratcliffe and his INEOS company management installed at Old Trafford are reviewing the whole 2023/4 season during which Erik Ten Hag’s future will be decided.

Winning the FA Cup has gained him a lot of fan support and delight for the owners but it is ultimately Ratcliffe and co who will make the decision.

Despite the possibility that he will no longer be in charge at Old Trafford, Ten Hag has called on the United management to study his proposal for summer additions to the team.

Ten Hag’s brilliant FA Cup strategy to defeat Pep Guardiola’s world-class Manchester City begged the question of where that quality had been all season.

No doubt the directors were thinking the same thing. If United had played like they did in the FA Cup final, Ten Hag would not be in the precarious position he finds himself.

By the time you read this column, he could be on his bike pedalling out of Old Trafford for the last time or he could be arranging his desk for next season.

Ten Hag can be credited with introducing and improving his two best young players for the season: Kobbi Mainoo and striker Garnacho.

Ten Hag complains that his squad does not have the depth of quality to compete with the likes of Arsenal, City and Liverpool. Whether new owners INEOS agree and back him remains a big question. By the time you read this column, you might know the answer.

What persuaded McKenna to stay at Ipswich

A close working relationship and friendship with Ipswich CEO Mark Ashton, the huge loyalty shown by fans and the total commitment of his players, persuaded Kieran McKenna to sign a new deal at Ipswich Town.

Being offered four times his current £700k-a-year salary also played a part. McKenna and Ashton are now meeting daily to decide which players they need to sign to strengthen Town in readiness for their return to the Premier League.

McKenna had been linked with Brighton, Chelsea and Manchester United but only United genuinely interested him but he decided that would be a career move for the future given all the current changes happening at Old Trafford.

Hudson-Odoi interests Spurs

Callum Hudson-Odoi was transferred from Chelsea to Nottingham Forest for a bargain price of £3million last year.

Since then, he has been excellent for Forest, scored eight goals and is a regular starter. Tottenham sent scouts to watch Callum at the end of the season and have now registered their interest in signing the 23-year-old.

Villa secure Emery until 2029.

Aston Villa manager Unai Emery
Aston Villa manager Unai Emery
Image: FILE

Aston Villa coach Unai Emery has signed a new five-year deal pledging his services until 2029.

Villa’s co-owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens worked tirelessly to secure Emery’s signature on a new contract after a very successful 2023/4 campaign.

Villa qualified for Champions League football for the first time since 1982/3 season after finishing fourth in the Premier League.

His reward is total control of footballing matters but working closely with Villa’s president of football Monchi and director of football operations Damian Vidagany.

**Villa are actively pursuing Ross Barkley to return to Villa Park as his one-year deal with relegated Luton ends in two weeks.

Barkley is a free agent and he has also attracted interest from Manchester United. Villa are close to a deal for the 30-year-old midfielder, who previously made 24 appearances and scored three goals in the 2020/21 season. He was voted Luton’s Player of the Year last season but could not prevent their relegation. He scored five goals and made six assists. 

Joao Felix offered in exchange for Greenwood

Mason Greenwood
Mason Greenwood
Image: FILE

Manchester United are in talks with Atletico Madrid, who want to sign Mason Greenwood.

Attacking midfielder Joao Felix is being offered as an exchange after spending the last two seasons on loan at Chelsea and Barcelona.

Greenwood joined Spanish side Getafe after his off-field private life made it impossible for him to continue at Old Trafford and he has scored 10 goals in 36 appearances.

Several European clubs have been tracking Mason including Juventus, Napoli and Borussia Dortmund and he has 12 months left on his United contract.

Liverpool’s Alcantara possibly going to Barca

Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara is watching the developing situation at Barcelona.

With his former boss Hansi Flick confirmed as Xavi’s successor, Thiago could be on his way back to Spain.

Xavi, a club legend, left the club last Sunday and Barca is looking to secure the services of Alcantara as one of the backroom staff because he can communicate with players in German and Spanish.

The situation is complicated because he wants to keep playing at an elite level. He played for Flick when Bayern won the Champions League in 2020.

Three major Man City players heading for the exit door?

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne in a pasta ction
Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne in a pasta ction
Image: FILE

Kevin De Bruyne’s representatives have held meetings with several Saudi Arabian clubs to discuss possibilities in the upcoming summer transfer window.

I can reveal the Man City midfielder is not keen on moving to the Middle East but the Saudi League has long admired his talent and consider him a marquee signing.

Roc Nation Sports represents Vinicius Junior, Gabriel Martinelli and Lucas Paqueta and they have been talking to reigning Saudi Pro League champions Al Hilal, Cristiano Renaldo’s Al Nassr and Al-Ittihad about De Bruyne.

Based on info from my inside sources, I expect Kevin to sign a new contract with City and then eventually move to the American MLS, where he has expressed an interest.

San Diego FC have already made City aware that, should Kevin decide to move early, they are interested in his signature. Pep Guardiola commented on the situation by saying, “I listen to some of the links with Kevin but I don’t know if he has an offer already. I have told him he must decide his future but I am hoping he will stay. I would love him to stay here, of course I would.”

Two other City players are also attracting interest. Bernardo Silva says he is considering a move to Barcelona but PSG are monitoring the situation and could make a move.

Last year he turned down a very good offer from Saudi club Al Hilal and extended his City contract which includes a £ 50 million release clause.

Ederson has eyes on Saudi and his future at City is uncertain. The Brazil national team number one has had personal problems lately including injuries. Al-Ittihad have been reported to be making an initial offer to sign him.

Joe Hart calls it a day

After his glory days keeping goals at Man City and England’s national team, Joe Hart has decided that at 35 years of age, it is time to say goodbye to first-team football.

Hart played his last game for Celtic at the weekend and has won League winners and  Scottish Cup medals this year. Hart was in tears after ending his 21-year career at the top level.

He said: “Football has been everything to me and it’s everything I am as a person. I’ll have to find out who I am now. I’ll miss it one day but right now, I have so much joy and thanks to everyone who made it special for me. I’m super proud.”

Matip is due to say goodbye to Liverpool

Joel Matip is one of the most popular players at Liverpool, so much so that when they are travelling to an away game on the club coach, players often sing “So glad Joel is a Red” and it is something of which he is proud.

His current deal ends this month and despite Jurgen Klopp saying Liverpool should extend his contract, the club have taken a different view, based on his poor injury history.

Joel saw his season end prematurely when he injured his ACL in early December when Liverpool beat Fulham 4-3. Football is a sport where fans wear their hearts on their sleeves but clubs have to be more realistic and although Matip is not one of the big earners Liverpool decided he would probably not reach the high level he achieved when he was regularly partnering Virgil Van Dijk in the centre of defence.

Joel expressed his desire to stay and many will say the club have shown him no loyalty but that is the way football is operated these days.

They have looked at two simple facts: Joel is injury prone and his long time on the medical list this season has influenced the club's decision.

He is also 33 years of age this season which means his long-term value to the club is very limited.

Liverpool's Joel Matip celebrates with Luis Diaz and Virgil Van Dijk
Liverpool's Joel Matip celebrates with Luis Diaz and Virgil Van Dijk
Image: FILE