Ibrahimovic will face Man Utd, Chelsea summer warchest, Haaland transfer LATEST, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool news

MANCHESTER UNITED are set to face a familiar foe in Zlatan Ibrahimovic after drawing AC Milan in the Europa League last-16.

We've got the very latest for you on the chase for Erling Haaland, while stick with us on SunSport for all the transfer news from the Premier League's top clubs.

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  • Ian Tuckey

    RODRIGUEZ: REAL DON'T WANT ME BACK

    James Rodriguez rules out a return to Real Madrid after making claims about Zinedine Zidane and key figures at the club.

    The attacking midfielder says he was not part of plans under his former manager and things have not changed since he departed last summer.

    Rodriguez has been a pivotal player for the Toffees since signing last summer

    A fan asked if Rodriguez would return to Los Blancos when he hosted a live stream on Twitch.

    The 29-year-old was adamant in his reply, and took the prospect of a return off the table, per Marca.

    He said: "Nobody wants me there anymore. That's part of football, guys."

    That is a positive development for Everton fans, as the Colombia international has five goals and eight assists in all competitions this season.

    It may also mean that Rodriguez is thinking about activating an extension clause in his contract, which would keep him at the club until 2023.

  • Ian Tuckey

    ZLAT: ORIGINAL RONALDO BETTER THAN CRISTIANO AND MESSI

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic has awarded Brazil legend Ronaldo his title of the world’s best-ever footballer.

    The debate over the game’s greatest of all time, or GOAT, has ramped up in recent years amid the stunning longevity of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

    While Diego Maradona and Pele are also often named as candidates, Ronaldo has also earned a high number of nominations.

    And AC Milan icon Ibrahimovic made the case for the double World Cup winner.

    The 39-year-old told the Discovery+ Sweden: “Ronaldo, El Fenomeno, he’s the best of all time.

    “For me, that Ronaldo is football, the way he moved. He’s the greatest player in history, without a doubt.”

  • Ian Tuckey

    MAN THE BRIDGE

    Man Utd head to Chelsea on Sunday afternoon hoping to take another step closer to securing Champions League football for next season.

    The Red Devils start the weekend in second – ahead of Leicester’s clash with Arsenal – and go into the game six points clear of Chelsea.

    However, United will be without Paul Pogba once again for the journey to West London.

    Pogba is set to be missing for a ‘few weeks’ still with his thigh strain.

    Edinson Cavani, Donny van de Beek, Scott McTominay and Daniel James are also doubts for the 4.30pm kick-off on Sunday as they try to shake off injuries.

  • Jake Lambourne

    ZLAT'S CRAZY

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic is on course to return to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in the Europa League.

    The Red Devils host his AC Milan side on March 11 before the return leg at the San Siro seven days later.

    It will be just the third time he has gone up against the English giants and the first since he left the club in March 2018 for a spell at LA Galaxy before rejoining the Rossoneri.

    In those previous two matches, in the Champions League last 16 with Inter in 2009, he failed to score as the two legs ended 0-0 and 2-0 to United.

    Ibrahimovic made 53 appearances for the Red Devils between 2016 and 2018, scoring 29 goals – although the vast majority came in his first season before his knee injury in April 2017.

    He only featured seven times in 2017-18, with his final game coming on Boxing Day with a 2-2 draw at home to Burnley.

    Here's how United looked that match.

  • Jake Lambourne

    WORK OF ART

    Mikel Arteta is hoping Arsenal's win against Benfica in the Europa League will help bring the belief back to his squad.

    He said: "Hopefully for us and the players it will generate belief.

    "We know that in this competition we're going to go through difficult patches, be it a moment in a game, a whole game or something unpredictable that happens.

    "You have to be able to react to it. All the winners in European competition have to have a magic moment, a moment of luck, have to be able to overcome difficult situations.

    "We did it last night and in a convincing way as well because I could see the players were ready to fight and they never looked disappointed, even after the way we conceded the second goal.

    "That gives me hope. It's a good experience to have together. Hopefully we can use it for the future in the next games."

  • Jake Lambourne

    RED NOSE DAY

    Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman was forced to interrupt his own press conference today, after suffering a nose bleed.

    The Dutchman sat down to take questions ahead of tomorrow's trip to Sevilla in LaLiga, but he was left cursing in Spanish as he exited to deal with a nose bleed.

    This is the second time that such an incident has happened in a Koeman press conference. Barcelona swiftly confirmed that their manager is fine.

    And AS reporter Javi Miguel has revealed that the frequent nose bleeds are a symptom of blood thinners that Koeman must take following his heart operation last year.

    The 57-year-old was rushed into hospital last May with heart trouble, where it was revealed that his coronary vein was blocked.

    Koeman had to have a tube inserted in order to keep the blood vessel open, before making a full recovery.

  • Jake Lambourne

    ZLAT'S TOUGH

    Man Utd have been handed a tough Europa League round of 16 assignment in the shape of AC Milan.

    While Spurs take on Dinamo Zagreb and Arsenal face Olympiacos, the Red Devils will go head to head with the seven-time champions of Europe.

    While Milan may not be quite as good as the vintages of the likes of Arrigo Sacchi, Fabio Capello or Carlo Ancelotti, they still represent a dangerous opponent for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men.

    Currently second in Serie A, Stefano Pioli's side possess a number of excellent players capable of hurting their Premier League counterparts.

    SunSport takes a look at five in particular that fans will have to keep their eyes peeled for.

    Click HERE for the full story.

  • Jake Lambourne

    NO WAY, JOSE

    Jose Mourinho insists Tottenham are not frightened of facing rivals Arsenal or Man Utd after drawing Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League.

    Asked if was pleased to have avoided their two fellow Premier League rivals, Mourinho said: “When you are in this competition and you get to this stage you don't get easy clubs.

    “If you want to win it, sooner or later you have to play against the best clubs or the ones who go through the different stages.

    “So the objective now is to win against Dinamo and then if later Arsenal and Manchester United are in the competition we have always to face them.

    “I think, yeah it happened in the Champions League final, two English clubs, happened in the Europa League with Arsenal and Chelsea too.

    "It's something that can happen and if it does, wonderful for us if we are one of the two teams and wonderful for English football to have two teams in the final.

    “But in this moment 16 teams, everybody wants the same so it's very premature to think about it.”

  • Jake Lambourne

    GUARDIAN ANGEL

    Pep Guardiola's ‘Open Arms’ hoodie has become a regular feature of his press conferences in recent weeks.

    The Etihad chief paid out £130,000 of his own money to restore one of the Open Arms boats – the Proactiva – so it could return to sea.

    Guardiola told The Athletic: “The work that Open Arms does is extraordinary in helping to protect some of the most vulnerable people in society.

    “So many of those who are seeking refuge continue to find themselves in unimaginably difficult situations – often suffering illness, separation from family and, in many cases, loss of life.

    “Open Arms has built a framework to protect these displaced people, both in the emergency stage when they are at sea.

    “But also in educating and supporting them on land. I want to do all I can to help ensure that the valuable work continues.”

  • Jake Lambourne

    OPEN ARMS

    Footie-mad Britain could host all of the Euros this summer thanks to the stonking vaccine rollout.

    Whitehall insiders said they are “ready and waiting” to step in to host the summer spectacular if asked.

    No10 is facing a growing clamour to rescue the championships, which was meant to be played across 11 countries this summer.

    MPs have warned that forcing teams to zigzag around Europe while the pandemic is still raging is a “biohazard disaster” waiting to happen.

    And President of the Albanian FA Armand Duka broke cover to say the entire tournament could now be moved to England.

    He said: "The hope is that Euro 2020 can be played with 50 per cent of fans in the stands. It's possible that Euro 2020 will be played solely in England.

    "There are still four or five months left, let's see if the situation will change. If not, England remains a possibility."

  • Jake Lambourne

    MUMMY'S BOY

    Former Real Madrid hardman Pepe revealed he slept in bed with his mother until he was 17 – much to the annoyance of his dad.

    The Portuguese centre-back, 38, now captains Porto but grew up in Brazil before leaving for Europe when he turned 18.

    Pepe developed a reputation as a no-nonsense defender during a decade at the Bernabeu in which he was booked 79 times and sent off on six occasions in 334 appearances.

    But in an interview with Portuguese outlet Tribuna Expresso, the towering 6ft 2in defender revealed he was spoiled as a child.

    Pepe – who left Madrid in 2017 – said: "Until I came to Portugal, at the age of 17, I slept with my mother, so imagine what it was like [laughter].

    "I was already big and I slept with my parents, so I imagine my father did not like to have me there [laughs]. 

    "This is interesting: the other day I was talking to my mother and she was telling me that I really liked to run my hand through her hair and I told her that maybe I already knew it would be too much time away from her."

    Veteran Porto defender Pepe revealed he slept in his mother's bed until he was 17
  • Jake Lambourne

    FANDEMONIUM

    Steve Bruce has hit back after angry Newcastle fans spotted him laughing with Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on TV following their 3-1 defeat on Monday. 

    The Toon Army were far from amused to see their manager smiling on the touchline moments after their 12th loss in 16 games. 

    The Magpies could drop into the relegation zone by the end of the weekend if they lose to Wolves and Fulham beat Crystal Palace. 

    But Bruce defended it by stating that Solskjaer had complemented his side, and stressed there was nothing wrong with chatting to his old mate.

    He said: “Listen, I've known Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for 20 years. 

    “Now, if I'm caught smiling with him – he was complimenting us on how well we played, so if that's a bad thing that I've smiled with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, then unfortunately okay. Let it be.”

  • Jake Lambourne

    BRIDGE BRIGADE

    Man Utd head to Chelsea on Sunday afternoon hoping to take another step closer to securing Champions League football for next season.

    The Red Devils start the weekend in second – ahead of Leicester's clash with Arsenal – and go into the game six points clear of Chelsea.

    However, United will be without Paul Pogba once again for the journey to West London.

    Pogba is set to be missing for a 'few weeks' still with his thigh strain.

    Edinson Cavani, Donny van de Beek, Scott McTominay and Daniel James are also doubts for the 4.30pm kick-off on Sunday as they try to shake off injuries.

    Here's how United could start.

  • Jake Lambourne

    TUCH AND GO

    Thomas Tuchel could have Thiago Silva fit for Sunday's clash with Manchester United.

    A thigh issue has kept Silva, 36, out since the start of the month but he is nearing a return to action.

    Whether Tuchel risks the centre-back will be a key selection headache ahead of United's visit.

    The case for sticking with the same XI that beat Atletico Madrid in midweek is strong.

    Andreas Christensen has ably filled in for much of Silva's absence, helping keep a clean sheet as Chelsea progressed in the Champions League.

    Olivier Giroud's breathtaking overhead kick winner should be enough to earn the striker consecutive starts for the first time since Tuchel became Blues boss.

    Here's how the Blues could line-up.

  • Jake Lambourne

    FULL DRAW

    These are all the ties for the Europa League Round of 32.

  • Jake Lambourne

    EUR HAVING A LAUGH

    Arsenal have been drawn against Olympiacos in the last-16 of the Europa League.

    The Gunners will be hoping for revenge after being knocked out of the competition against the Greek side last season.

    Manchester United meanwhile will face AC Milan in what is the standout tie of the round.

    Tottenham will pit their pits against Dinamo Zagreb, with Rangers to battle Slavia Prague.

  • Jake Lambourne

    ERLI BIDS

    Chelsea and Manchester City are the frontrunners for Erling Haaland's signature this summer, according to reports.

    The Borussia Dortmund hotshot has hit 27 goals in 25 games this season, including a recent scissor kick spectacular against Schalke.

    A fee of around £150million is said to be required to prise the Norwegian from the Bundesliga club.

    In 2022, a release clause worth £75m will activate but Europe's top clubs may not wait for such a reduction.

    According to Eurosport, Chelsea want to make a statement in the market to highlight their title ambitions under Thomas Tuchel.

    The Blues are described as confident of their chances of signing Haaland, having made contact with senior figures in his camp.

  • Jake Lambourne

    EUROPA LEAGUE DRAW

    A reminder that the Europa League draw for the Round of 16 starts at 12!

    There are no restrictions, meaning the likes of Arsenal, Man Utd, Tottenham and Rangers can all face each other.

    Head over to the SunSport LIVE blog of the draw for coverage.

    Click HERE to follow.

  • Jake Lambourne

    'ZERO CONNECTION'

    Ex-Celtic and Newcastle star Ki Sung-yueng has blasted reports linking him to the abuse of youths as a starlet in his native South Korea.

    The midfielder, 32, released a furious statement after articles hinted he was the country’s mystery star player who had been accused of attacks on two schoolmates in 2000.

    It comes after a lawyer in the country claimed an ace forced two youths to perform sexual acts on him and a pal and they beat them if they refused.

    Ki, who joined Seoul FC last summer, wrote on Instagram: “I have absolutely zero connection to events reported in the media.

    “I don’t think I really need to say much more than that. Nothing of that nature ever happened. I will stake my football career to that.”

    The midfielder, who was a hit with Celtic fans during his two-year spell at the club, vowed to take legal action to protect 'my suffering family'.

    He added: “I didn’t think this could be a problem because it’s not true, but then I realised it could threaten my career and put my family in danger. I will not sit idly by.”

    Ki Sung-Yeung, pictured during his time at Celtic, denied claims he was involved in forcing youths to perform sexual acts on him
  • Jake Lambourne

    GOTTA BURN

    Burnley have demanded £50million from Tottenham if they are to sell Nick Pope this summer, according to reports.

    Jose Mourinho is eager to find a replacement for Hugo Lloris and is considering a move for the Clarets shot-stopper.

    Pope, 28, has been grabbing attention due to his fine form this season, making nine clean sheets in 24 games in a struggling Burnley side.

    The likes of Chelsea and West Ham have come knocking as a result, but it seems Burnley are determined to keep him.

    His contract runs until 2023 with the option of an extra year, so his asking price has been set at £50m, report LanchashireLive.

    Such a price tag is a blow for Spurs as they had a net spend of only £47m last summer.

    Nick Pope has a contract at Burnley until 2023
  • Jake Lambourne

    BUK THE TREND

    Mikel Arteta has heaped praise on Bukayo Saka after the Arsenal ace chipped in with two assists in the 3-2 win against Benfica.

    Speaking of the 19-year-old, he said: "How good can he be is a question nobody can answer.

    "How good he is and how good he wants to be, that is probably where we can find a lot of answers for why he is doing so well.

    "He is a boy that is constantly willing to learn, to get better, to work on the things he can do better and he is a very humble and hard working boy.

    "When that happens normally, and you have the talent he has, you can go a long way."

  • Jake Lambourne

    YOU'RE THE RON

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic has awarded Ronaldo Nazario his title of the world's best-ever footballer.

    The debate over the game's greatest of all time, or GOAT, has ramped up in recent years amid the stunning longevity of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

    While Diego Maradona and Pele are also often named as candidates, former Brazil forward Ronaldo has also earned a high number of nominations.

    AC Milan star Ibrahimovic made the case for the double World Cup winner.

    The 39-year-old told the Discovery+ Sweden: "Ronaldo, El Fenomeno, he's the best of all time.

    "For me, that Ronaldo is football, the way he moved. He's the greatest player in history, without a doubt."

  • Jake Lambourne

    MAX POWER

    Man Utd may be put off signing Max Aarons due to Norwich's £35million asking price, according to reports.

    The Red Devils are one of a number of clubs interested in the 21-year-old ahead of the summer transfer window.

    But despite Aarons appearing certain for a move, Championship table-toppers Norwich won't budge on their valuation.

    According to the Express, club chiefs may deem a £35m outlay on Aarons 'unnecessary' – choosing to target a new striker and centre-back instead.

    SunSport revealed this week that Norwich turned down a £20m bid from Roma last month.

    Everton and Bayern Munich are also interested in the England youth international.

  • Jake Lambourne

    WAKE BLOW

    Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson will heartbreakingly miss his father's funeral due to coronavirus restrictions after he drowned in Brazil.

    Jose Agostinho Becker, 57, was found dead at midnight on Wednesday by a lake on the family's rural property near Lavros do Sul in southern Brazil.

    And The Mail reports Reds shot-stopper Alisson, 28, desperately tried to find a way to negate travel bans and restrictions in order to return to Brazil to be with his family.

    But with his wife 28-weeks pregnant and the prospect of a ten-day stint in hotel quarantine, he has been unable to find a way home.

    Alisson's boss Jurgen Klopp tragically found himself in a similar situation earlier this month when he was forced to skip his mother's funeral with a total ban on travel into Germany from the UK.

    Jose Becker was declared missing at around 5pm on Wednesday when workers on the ranch raised the alarm with his family who alerted local police.

    His funeral will take place on Friday in Novo Hamburgo – where the family's main residence is.

  • Jake Lambourne

    SAY IT AIN'T SOU

    Tomas Soucek celebrated with Slavia Prague's heroes after their shock win at Leicester on Thursday night.

    After a 0-0 draw in their Europa League last-32 first-leg tie at home, the Czech side knew they needed a miracle to progress away to the high-flying Foxes.

    Incredibly, Slavia Prague stunned Brendan Rodgers' side to win 2-0 thanks to second-half goals from Lukas Provod and Abdallah Sima.

    As they celebrated on the King Power Stadium pitch, they grabbed a phone and gave Soucek a ring.

    The West Ham midfielder, 25, spent 15 years at Slavia Prague before his move to England.

    Soucek worked his way through the youth ranks to the first-team before finally leaving in a £19.1million deal last summer.

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