» Sports » Football Briefs: Mourinho warns of tough times if United fail to improve squad

Football Briefs: Mourinho warns of tough times if United fail to improve squad

Last updated on: August 06, 2018 18:34 IST
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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho

IMAGE: Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photograph: Andreas Gebert/Reuters

Manchester United could be in for a tough Premier League season if they do not add quality players before the transfer window closes, manager Jose Mourinho has said.

United have been relatively quiet in the transfer market, adding Brazil midfielder Fred, 19-year-old Portuguese defender Diogo Dalot and goalkeeper Lee Grant.

"If we don't make our team better, it'll be a difficult season for us," Mourinho told MUTV after United's 1-0 defeat to Bayern Munich on Sunday.

"The other clubs who compete with us are really strong and already have fantastic teams. Or they are investing massively like Liverpool, who are buying everything and everybody.

"My CEO knows what I want and I still have a few days to wait and see what happens."

The transfer window in England closes on August 9, a day before United begin their Premier League campaign against Leicester City.

Willian keen to stay in Chelsea under Sarri


IMAGE: Chelsea's Willian during a match. Photograph: Craig Brough/Reuters

Chelsea midfielder Willian has ended media speculation linking him with a move away from Stamford Bridge, saying he is happy at the club and has no intention of leaving them in the current transfer window.

British media reports said Brazil international Willian had become a target for Barcelona and Manchester United following the breakdown of his relationship with former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte towards the end of last season.

The 29-year-old cleared the air after Chelsea's 2-0 Community Shield defeat by Manchester City under new coach Maurizio Sarri.

"I've always made it very clear that I've always been very happy playing for Chelsea. I never said that I want to leave the club," Willian told reporters.

Willian returned late from his close season break and only joined his team mates at the club's training ground four days before the Community Shield clash at Wembley Stadium.

Former Napoli boss Sarri, who replaced Conte last month, had said he had no problem with Willian and hoped to keep him at the club as he sets about putting his stamp on the team.

"This is a new era, with a new manager and I've had a good conversation with him. I hope we can enjoy a lot of victories," Willian said.

Chelsea, who are looking to improve on their fifth-placed finish last season, kick off their league campaign with a trip to Huddersfield Town on Aug. 11.

Belgium midfielder Witsel agrees to join Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund have agreed to sign Belgium international Axel Witsel from Chinese side Tianjin Quanjian, the German club said on Monday.

Witsel, 29, a central defensive midfielder who impressed for Belgium during the World Cup in Russia, will be given a four-year contract by Dortmund.

"We're very happy that he has chosen Borussia Dortmund," the club's sporting director Michael Zorc said in a statement, adding that Dortmund would pay the release clause in Witsel's Tianjin contract without revealing any financial details.

"Axel is a player with a great deal of international experience who has all the skills to shape BVB's central midfield: tactical understanding, tackling power, speed, and creativity," Zorc added.

Klopp admits Liverpool's defensive concerns ahead of league opener

Liverpool face potential defensive problems ahead of Sunday's Premier League opener against West Ham United, with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez their only senior centre backs fit and available, manager Juergen Klopp said.

Joel Matip (hip) and Ragnar Klavan (hamstring) both missed Saturday's 5-0 thrashing of Italian side Napoli due to injuries and are doubtful for Liverpool's final pre-season match against Torino on Tuesday.

"Joel, we'll have to see. Klavan, shouldn't be too serious, but if Tuesday is too early I don't know yet," Klopp told the Liverpool Echo.

"Maybe we will do some magic things with the formation on Tuesday. I don't know how we will do it."

Croatia international Dejan Lovren will rejoin the squad on Monday after an extended break following the World Cup but is a doubt for the next two games.

"Dejan didn't train so far. He probably won't play Tuesday and Sunday will be very difficult as well," Klopp added. "The first two league games at least are in the 'pre-season' (for the World Cup players)."

Liverpool finished fourth last season and reached the final of the Champions League where they were beaten by Real Madrid.

"The league will be difficult," Klopp said.

"It is not about judging our situation and thinking 'wow, really good'.

"We need to be ready each week, not only for a few games. That is our challenge."

Chinese FA investigating Ba racism allegations

The Chinese Football Association (CFA) said on Monday it had launched an investigation into allegations by Shanghai Shenhua striker Demba Ba that he was subjected to racist abuse by an opponent during a league match at the weekend.

The former Chelsea forward alleged he was the target of a racial slur by Changchun Yatai midfielder Zhang Li after they clashed during Saturday's 1-1 Chinese Super League game.

"After the game, according to the supervising report, the Chinese Football Association immediately launched an investigation and will hold a hearing about the irregularities in this game," said the CFA statement.

"If it's true, the players involved will be dealt with seriously in accordance with the rules and regulations."

Local media have reported that Changchun had denied the allegations.

The CFA said football in China had always been based on the principle of "fair play and the spirit of sports".

"We oppose any form of racial discrimination," the CFA said.

"We encourage all participants to work together to preserve the good order of the game and spread the positive energy of football."

Rangers boss Gerrard denied opening win by last-gasp goal

Former England midfielder Steven Gerrard was denied a win in his first Scottish Premiership game in charge of Rangers on Sunday when Aberdeen snatched a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw after the visitors were reduced to 10 men at Pittodrie.

Aberdeen teenager Bruce Anderson scored in stoppage time on his debut to cancel out James Tavernier's penalty on the half-hour as Rangers battled for more than 80 minutes without Alfredo Morelos who was sent off for a kick at Scott McKenna.

"I thought we were magnificent," said Gerrard.

"I thought we were very good with 11 men, I thought we were even better when we went down to 10. Aberdeen didn't have any idea against us.

"For 93 minutes it was perfect, I'm gutted for my players, we conceded so late on but we're a class above Aberdeen."

Gerrard took over at Rangers in May and has brought in 10 players as he looks to end the dominance of Glasgow rivals Celtic, who have won the league for seven straight years.

Celtic won an unprecedented 'double-treble' last season with victories in the league and both domestic cup competitions.

Brendan Rodgers's side began their title defence with a comfortable 3-1 home win over promoted Livingston on Saturday.

Rangers had conceded their first goal in four matches under Gerrard on Thursday in the Europa League but a 1-1 draw with Osijek put them in the third qualifying round.

Algeria winger Ghezzal joins Leicester from Monaco

Leicester City have agreed terms with AS Monaco to sign Algeria winger Rachid Ghezzal on a four-year contract for an undisclosed fee, the Premier League club announced on Sunday.

The 26-year-old's style of play has been compared to fellow Algeria international winger Riyad Mahrez, who left Leicester to join Manchester City in July.

Ghezzal will be reunited with the Foxes' French manager Claude Puel, who was in charge of Olympique Lyonnais as the player moved through the Ligue 1 club's academy.

He will become Leicester's fifth close-season signing after Jonny Evans, James Maddison, Ricardo Pereira and Danny Ward, subject to Premier League approval.

British media reported that Ghezzal, who joined Monaco in 2017 and scored twice in 33 games for the principality club, would cost the 2016 Premier League champions 10 million pounds ($13.01 million).

The winger made his Algeria debut in March 2015 and has played 13 times for his country, scoring once, having featured in their group games at the 2017 African Cup of Nations.

"He’s an exciting addition to our group who will bring creativity and competition ahead of an important season for us," Puel told LCFC TV.

"I know his qualities from my time at Lyon, where he was in the academy, and I look forward to seeing him test himself in the Premier League."

Ghezzal, who scored 14 goals in 110 games for Lyon, said of the Midlands outfit: "It’s a good club and an ambitious one too. Leicester City has many great players and I hope we will have a great season."

He will link up with his new team mates ahead of their Premier League opener against Manchester United on Friday.

Japan's Honda signs with Melbourne Victory

Former Japan midfielder Keisuke Honda has signed with Melbourne Victory for the 2018/19 season, the A-League champions said on Monday.

The former AC Milan player bowed out of international soccer after Japan's exit from the last 16 at the World Cup in Russia, having represented the nation 98 times and scored 37 goals.

Honda's signing is a coup for Victory after the departure of stalwart striker Besart Berisha and a bonus for the Australian league which has struggled to lure world class talent.

"I'm so happy to join the club," Honda, wearing a Melbourne Victory shirt, said from Los Angeles in an interview with local broadcaster Fox Sports.

"I think Melbourne Victory is the best club in Australia. I am honoured. I will make the club win. I have confidence, I will help the team as much as I can.

"I'm an ambitious person and I always work my best, so let's make it happen."

National governing body Football Federation Australia confirmed it would make a significant contribution to Honda's multi-million dollar salary out of its marquee fund.

"The marquee fund ... was set up for just this purpose," A-League boss Greg O'Rourke told a media conference in Melbourne.

"We set out about three months ago with only two or three names (in consideration), one of those was Keisuke Honda.

"It's fantastic that we take this next step to bring Asia to the A-League."

Osaka-born 32-year-old Honda, a set piece maestro capable of playing across the forward line, underlined his class with a goal against Senegal at the World Cup, which made him his nation's only player to score at three of the global showpieces.

He said his agent brother had told him of Victory's interest a week after the World Cup but he had never thought of continuing his career Down Under.

"I couldn't believe that because I am a Japanese and I never thought I would play in Australia in my career," said the bleach blond playmaker, whose last club stint was with Mexican side Pachuca.

"I checked a couple of things. Melbourne Victory is the most successful club in the A-league in the last 13 years, they became champions many times, I am proud of this kind of club.

"Also the manager Kevin (Muscat), he is a really nice guy when I talked with him.

"He has a big, big passion. I love it, so I think that reason was also why I decided to play with the club."

Muscat coached Victory to a record fourth A-League title last season and said he was convinced Honda could make a big contribution.

"He's a hugely driven individual as no doubt many people have seen over the years in his career," Muscat told reporters.

"From a football side of things who can contribute and contribute heavily to my team and the competition was the most defining thing for me.

"He's still got so much more to offer in relation to football."

Recovering Mawson out of Fulham's first three league matches

Fulham's new signing Alfie Mawson will miss the start of the new Premier League season as the centre back recovers from a knee injury, the promoted club's manager Slavisa Jokanovic said.

The highly-rated Mawson joined Fulham from Swansea City this month in a deal that the British media said was worth 20 million pounds ($25.98 million).

The 24-year-old has been ruled out of at least three league matches as he battles for fitness after having surgery in May.

"He won't be ready. We will be waiting between two and three weeks for him to start working with us," Jokanovic told the London Standard.

"I don't expect he can help us before September."

Apart from Fulham's opening league match against Crystal Palace on Aug. 11, Mawson will also be absent for the games against Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley.

Fulham are back in the top flight for the first time since the 2013-14 season.

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