Category Archives: Sports

Stanford holds off Arizona 54-53 to win women's NCAA title

Stanford holds off Arizona 54-53 to win women's NCAA title

Stanford (31-2) built a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter before Arizona (21-6) cut it to 51-50 on star guard Aari McDonald’s 3-pointer.

SAN ANTONIO — Haley Jones scored 17 points and Stanford beat Arizona 54-53, giving the Cardinal and coach Tara VanDerveer their first national championship in 29 years on Sunday night.

It wasn’t a masterpiece by any stretch with both teams struggling to score and missing easy layups and shots, but Stanford did just enough to pull off the win.
Stanford (31-2) built a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter before Arizona (21-6) cut it to 51-50 on star guard Aari McDonald’s 3-pointer.
After a timeout, Jones answered with a three-point play with 2:24 left. That would be Stanford’s last basket of the game. McDonald got the Wildcats with 54-53 with 36.6 seconds left converting three of four free throws.
The Cardinal, after another timeout couldn’t even get a shot off, giving Arizona one last chance with 6.1 seconds left, but McDonald’s contested shot from the top of the key at the buzzer bounced off the rim.
It’s been quite a journey for VanDerveer and the Cardinal this season. The team was forced on the road for nearly 10 weeks because of the coronavirus, spending 86 days in hotels during this nomadic season.
The team didn’t complain and went about their business and now have another NCAA championship. Along the way the Hall of Fame coach earned her 1,099th career victory to pass Pat Summitt for the most all time in women’s basketball history.
Now the 67-year-old coach has a third national title to go along with the ones she won in 1990 and 1992. That moved her into a tie with Baylor’s Kim Mulkey for third most all time behind Geno Auriemma and Summitt.
VanDerveer had many great teams between titles, including the ones led by Candice Wiggins and the Ogwumike sisters — Nneka and Chiney, but the Cardinal just couldn’t end their season with that elusive win in the title game until Sunday night.
It was the first women’s basketball championship for the Pac-12 since VanDerveer and Stanford won the title in 1992. The last time a team from the conference was in the title game was 2010 when the Cardinal lost to UConn. 
That game was also played in the Alamodome — the site of every game in this tournament from the Sweet 16 through Sunday’s championship game.
The entire NCAA Tournament was played in the San Antonio area because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Stanford had history on its side, Arizona has been building under coach Adia Barnes, who was the fourth Black woman to lead her team to the championship game, joining Carolyn Peck, Dawn Staley and C. Vivian Stringer. Peck and Staley won titles.
Barnes starred for the Wildcats as a player in the late 90s and came back to her alma mater five years ago. She guided the team to the WNIT title in 2018 and led them to their first NCAA title game ever. This was the team’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2005 — although the Wildcats would have made the NCAAs last season had it not been canceled by the coronavirus.
The Wildcats started the season No. 7 in the poll and moved up to as high as sixth — the best ranking ever in school history —for a few weeks.
McDonald, who followed her coach from Washington as a transfer, has been a huge reason for the team’s success. The 5-foot-6 guard, who is lightning quick, is one of the rare two-way players in the game who can make an impact on both ends of the court.
She struggled against the Cardinal, finishing with 22 points.
McDonald got the Wildcats on the board hitting a 3-pointer, but then Stanford scored the next 12 points. The Cardinal led 16-8 after one quarter.
Arizona got going in the second quarter and took a 21-20 lead before Stanford scored 11 straight points, highlighted by Lexie Hull’s four-point play. The Cardinal led 31-24 at the half. McDonald missed nine of her 11 shots in the first half.
The Wildcats were trying to be only the fourth team to trail by double digits and win a championship.
These teams met twice during the regular season and Stanford rolled past Arizona both times, winning by double digits in each game.
Sunday night’s game was the first with two teams from west of the Mississippi playing for a title since 1986. … Notre Dame had the biggest comeback of any team in the NCAA title game rallying from 15 down to win the 2018 title on a last-second shot by Arike Ogunbowale.
STRUGGLING AGAINST STANFORD
Barnes has beaten VanDerveer just twice in her career as both a player and coach at Arizona. She lost seven of eight playing for the Wildcats in the late 90s. The lone victory came in her senior year on a last-second shot off a pass from Barnes to teammate Reshea Bristol, who hit a 20-footer for the win in 1998. As a coach she had lost 10 of the 11 previous matchups before Sunday with the only victory coming in overtime on Feb. 28, 2020.

Premier League's five still alive in Europe are all searching for redemption

Five of the Premier League’s Big Six begin their search for redemption in European football this week.

There’s only one problem… they can’t all achieve it.

Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal all have their individual stories as to why their respective Champions League and Europa League quarter-finals are absolutely paramount.

Under Pep Guardiola, City have won everything except for the Champions League.

Despite all the plaudits, and even if they pull off a domestic Treble this season, it will feel slightly hollow to Guardiola and the club if they do not win the Champions League at last.

Everyone connected with City knows they need this trophy to truly crown their greatness.

Liverpool’s decline from Premier League champions has been alarming.

Klopp and Guardiola are going for glory in the Champions League
Klopp and Guardiola are going for glory in the Champions League

A number of people, me included[1], sense that they might continue bringing their very best to the Champions League – and could win it.

But make no mistake, if they do not lift that trophy, the 2020/21 season will represent a disaster for Liverpool.

Chelsea have done well since Frank Lampard’s sacking, but they are still a mile away from the standards set by City and Liverpool over the last few years.

Champions League football for next season is on a knife-edge and without it, it will be difficult for them to bridge that gap. Lifting the Champions League solves all those problems.

Manchester United are still searching for a clear path back to the Sir Alex Ferguson glory days.

There is improvement but a double-digit points difference behind City doesn’t lie.

Arteta and Solskjaer would love to add the Europa League to their trophy cabinets
Arteta and Solskjaer would love to add the Europa League to their trophy cabinets

Finishing second in the Premier League will be encouraging, but we are talking United here – I can feel Roy Keane’s glare at saying United feel ‘encouraged’ in coming second!

Jose Mourinho led them to the runners-up spot in the league and glory in the Europa League.

If they can win it again it will add far more weight to the progress they are making.

Arsenal are a shadow of their former selves.

The irony is overwhelming that so many fans moaned about Arsene Wenger in his later years at the club, despite having secured 19 seasons of Champions League football.

Now they lie in mid-table mediocrity.

Winning the Europa League is their only way of getting back in the Champions League next season.

And it would be exactly what they need to begin rebuilding themselves.

English clubs are still a major force in Europe and after two seasons of not a very competitive Premier League, the scrap between them for European glory will be intense.

References

  1. ^ me included (www.mirror.co.uk)

[email protected] (Sam Quek)

Married basketball legend films himself having massage

Married basketball legend films himself having massage

Ex-Boston Celtics NBA champ Paul Pierce has caused a stir among viewers including LA Lakers star Kyle Kuzma, having filmed an Instagram video that showed him partying with scantily-clad women while appearing to be worse for wear.

In a now-viral video uploaded to Instagram, the 43-year-old appeared to have been enjoying himself and can be seen surrounded by women whose outfits leave little to the imagination.

The clip has led to widespread criticism and amusement from fans, as well as past and present NBA players.

“Paul Pierce [is] a sicko,” tweeted NBA champion Kuzma, alongside a generous helping of crying-with-laughter emojis.

In the video, Pierce portrayed himself telling a woman called Monica: “You should be here – you could make some money, girl. Stop playing.

“Monica, what are you doing? If you are in LA, come through. You know what I’m saying?”

After the camera panned overhead to show a woman in a bra and parents gyrating with her crotch to the floor, Pierce responded: “Oh my god – what is going on?”

Taking to Twitter with a simple “Good morning” message in the aftermath of the hedonistic clip, Pierce might have only just woken up after a rough Friday night.

But the backlash continued as the 43-year-old was told to grow up by onlookers.

“Not cool last night,” tutted one. “You know better. You are a role model to people.”

“If your kids are looking at Paul as a role model, you failed as a parent,” came another curt reply.

Much has been made of Pierce’s status as a married men that would indulge in this type of behavior.

But some sharp-eyed followers have claimed that his wife, Julie, was actually in on the action and was the woman – alleged by some who were unaware of her identity to have been a stripper – giving him a neck rub.

“What kinda of haters are you, worrying about another man’s wife bro?,” asked one Twitter user in response to a concerned response.

“Why are people mad? What a legend,” said another, when informed that Pierce’s wife was “literally in the [Instagram] Live” clip.

This is the second time in recent months that Pierce, a respected analyst on ESPN, has been in the press for salacious reasons.

In December, it came to light that a former employee of his cannabis empire was suing him over unpaid salaries.

In April, he triggered similar mockery over suggesting that the NBA season could resume in the supposedly UFO-hit Area 51 US Air Force base in Nevada.

Also on rt.com ‘Ask the government’: Former Celtics star claims NBA season could resume at classified US Air Force site Area 51

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‘They spread s**t!’ – Mercedes spark Red Bull and McLaren war of words over George Russell

‘They spread s**t!’ - Mercedes spark Red Bull and McLaren war of words over George Russell
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has launched a scathing attack on McLaren CEO Zak Brown, likening the American to Red Bull chief Christian Horner after his claim that George Russell is being lined up for a Silver Arrows seat next season. The 23-year-old, who has gained plenty of admirers during his time at Williams over the last two years, has long been touted as the natural heir to reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton.
The Stevenage-born racer, along with Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, is out of contract at the end of the year which could potentially open up two free slots with the German outfit.

Russell is a Mercedes junior driver effectively on loan at Williams and seems to be the logical option for Wolff if Hamilton or Bottas decide to move on ahead of next season.

Brown suggested last month that Russell could eventually be partnered by Red Bull star Max Verstappen, who has struggled to chip away at the dominance of Mercedes since his F1 debut in 2015.

“Yes, I think you will see Max and George there in 2022,” Brown told the Daily Mail.

“I think that is the obvious conclusion. Lewis wins title number eight this year and is the winningest driver [most successful] in every category, they have a one-year deal with him.

JUST IN: Lewis Hamilton backed to make retirement decision by ex-Red Bull rival

“George is coming out of his deal and Max has a deal he comes out of. You have Max’s experience and youth, you have George’s youth. 

“If I am Mercedes, that is a pretty killer line-up for the next five years.”

Wolff has since poured cold water on Brown’s claim with a foul-mouthed response in which a comparison was made to Horner, who has gained an unwelcome reputation for playing mind games over the last few seasons.

“Brown is like Christian Horner,” Wolff told Austrian publication oe24.

DON’T MISS

“They just spread s**t. I think Zak wanted to give Christian one with it.”

Mercedes claimed the first Grand Prix victory of the new season last week as Hamilton produced a fantastic display to hold off the challenge of Verstappen on fresher tyres and take the chequered flag in Bahrain.

The Dutchman squeezed into the lead with only a few laps remaining, but was ordered to concede the position after leaving the track in order to get ahead of his rival.

The result came as something of a surprise to Mercedes, who had been comfortably second-best to Red Bull over the course of the weekend and in pre-season testing the previous week.

Wolff revealed after the race that he was not expecting his team to come out on top, suggesting that improvements are desperately needed in order to stand any chance of maintaining their dominance this year.

“If somebody told me before Sunday that a Mercedes win was going to be the result I would not have believed them,” he told reporters.

“We recovered well from the pre-season test but, if we are 100 per cent honest with ourselves, we are lacking quite a bit of pace in qualifying.

“In the past, Bahrain has not been a strong race for Red Bull and they have not been particularly good out of the blocks either, but this weekend shows that in 2021, that is no longer the case.

“I have no doubt they are extremely difficult to beat and are leading the pack.

“We have not suddenly found some awesome performance, but the win was a combination of good race strategy, a solid race car and being fortunate at the end.”

‘You should hang your heads in shame’: Cycling bigwigs’ ‘disgrace’ after ousting star who dared to lob fans a water bottle (VIDEO)

‘You should hang your heads in shame’: Cycling bigwigs’ ‘disgrace’ after ousting star who dared to lob fans a water bottle (VIDEO)

Rule-makers at cycling world governing body the UCI have been ridiculed and drawn an angry reaction after Michael Schar was shockingly disqualified from top event the Tour of Flanders for throwing his water bottle towards fans.

The Swiss AGR2 star was competing in the showdown in Belgium when he was deemed to have broken rules by harmlessly throwing his bidon into the cheering crowds, appearing to do so as a way of giving the recipient a keepsake.

Allowed to continue through a lengthy chase and two changes of bike, the jury eventually pulled Schar over and told him to stop racing.

Rather than being eliminated for bad conduct towards bystanders, though, his afternoon was ended for littering.

“I thought it was a joke but Michael Schar really has been DSQ for throwing a bottle to the fans,” one angry fan wrote in a Twitter rant aimed at racing bigwigs. “Absolutely ridiculous and absurd. Shame, UCI.

“Please make it clear, UCI. Throwing stuff in open nature should be forbidden, not throwing to the fans.

“Yesterday, one of the guys who finished on the podium in [the] GP Indurain threw away his gel in the ditch [with] no people around live on TV and you did nothing.”

A seemingly cooler reply asked: “Is it really a littering thing or is it a Covid thing? Throwing a bottle to fans in a pandemic would be a bit of a risk, wouldn’t it?”

“Life is a risk,” came the snappy answer.

“If the UCI cares so much about ecology, they should reduce the amount of vehicles following the race instead [of] disqualifying a cyclist for throwing a bottle towards a fan,” pointed out a punter.

“It’s ridiculous,” scoffed another.

Schar’s bizarre dismissal is the consequence of an update to UCI rules which came in at the start of the month.

From now on, ranking points can be docked if riders “jettison” objects including “food, bonk-bags, feeding bottles, clothes, etc” in any area except newly designated litter zones.
Also on rt.com ‘I overdid it’: Irish cycling star VOMITS mid-race as he blames overeating for bizarre scenes (VIDEO)

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Ferdinand calls De Gea's next move after being benched by Solskjaer

Rio Ferdinand thinks there is “no chance” David de Gea will stay at Manchester United beyond the summer[1] after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer preferred Dean Henderson in Sunday night’s clash with Brighton[2].

The battle between the pair for the United No.1 spot has been a key element of the club’s season, but it was Henderson who started the last six matches after De Gea returned to Spain to attend the birth of his first child.

Now he’s back, the long-time United No.1 had to watch on from the bench on Sunday, and Ferdinand thinks his former teammate won’t be impressed.

“You’ve got two options: you fight for your position or you say, ‘that’s me done, I’m off and I’ll go somewhere else.'” Ferdinand told BT Sport.

“If Dean Henderson finishes the season as number one, I don’t see De Gea staying there. No chance, I don’t see it. I think he’ll go out now.

De Gea now appears to be behind Henderson in the pecking order
De Gea now appears to be behind Henderson in the pecking order

“His wages will be a determining factor but at the end of the day, two number ones doesn’t work.

“De Gea has been a mainstay in the team but Ole is maybe seeing things differently now.

“He’s put Henderson in front of him in the queue. Does De Gea accept that and stay? I don’t think so.

“Henderson has been waiting for this opportunity. Now the pressure is on him. Can he live up to the hype? I’m excited for him and looking forward to see what he can do.

“Solskjaer has seen something in him but he has to perform now. It’s okay being number one at Sheffield United, but it’s a different kettle of fish at Manchester United[3].

“David will be supporting his team-mate but when he gets home tonight, his pride and ego will be hurting, and if it’s not, he shouldn’t be here.

“He’s in the prime of his career and he wants to play every week.”

References

  1. ^ David de Gea will stay at Manchester United beyond the summer (www.mirror.co.uk)
  2. ^ Brighton (www.mirror.co.uk)
  3. ^ Manchester United (www.mirror.co.uk)

[email protected] (Mark Jones)

Lucky escape: Kid athletes narrowly outrun disaster as snow blamed for terrifying building collapse during race in Russia (VIDEO)

Lucky escape: Kid athletes narrowly outrun disaster as snow blamed for terrifying building collapse during race in Russia (VIDEO)

Horrifying footage has shown the moment when the roof of a sports complex caved in just as a group of youngsters raced at an indoor event in Russia, narrowly missing their heads as chunks of debris hurtled onto the track.

A troubling video of the roof collapse, which stunned onlookers at the Veresniki track and field indoor arena in Kirov, shows parts of the exterior falling over a corner of the track which had just been passed by a group of young runners.

According to local reports, the section of the arena collapsed under the weight of wet snow just as the competitors were running the final part of their race.

“Our eldest son went to the training area and my younger children and I went up to the spectator stands,” a local who asked to remain anonymous told kirov.kp.

“At that moment, boys of 10-11 years old were running a 400m race. They reached the final circle, ran [round the corner] and just a few seconds later a part of the ceiling fell.”

No-one is said to have been hurt by the fall, which is said to have left stone and iron structures on the track.

“The children immediately began to leave the building as they were, in training clothes,” they added, explaining that their family went straight to their car without getting changed before being called by a coach keen to check on their welfare.

All races were immediately suspended and safety checks are now being carried out. The regional prosecutor’s office has also reportedly taken an interest in the situation.

“The arena is new,” wrote a Kirov resident who posted the footage. “I’m very angry. Child athletes could have died.”

A representative purporting to speak on behalf local officials said: “One roof segment partially collapsed. The exact cause of this collapse will be established by the commission, which will begin work on April 5.

“All competitions and training events in the arena have been suspended. There are no victims either among adults or among children. On behalf of the Governor, Igor Vasiliev, the roofs of all sports facilities in the region will be inspected.

“In the near future, details of the situation will be discussed with the owner of the building, from which the regional government is renting the arena building.”

Part of a statement on the venue website said: “There are no casualties. The destruction of one roof segment in the first span occurred over the warehouse.

“All recommendations for roofing maintenance during heavy snowfalls were regularly followed by the administration of the sports complex in full.”
Also on rt.com Massive crash: Female racer escapes after car flips in air and lands upside down at extreme rally in Saudi Arabian desert (VIDEO)

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Arsenal loss to Liverpool proved five stars will be vital to Mikel Arteta reviving Gunners

Arsenal loss to Liverpool proved five stars will be vital to Mikel Arteta reviving Gunners
Gary Neville pulled no punches on Sky Sports commentary during Liverpool’s convincing 3-0 defeat of Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday night, labelling the performance put on by the Gunners one reminiscent of the “old Arsenal” and blasting “a real lack of hunger” from the home side.
“A lack of pace, a lack of a plan,” the Manchester United legend added as Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah put Arsenal to the sword.. “But I have to say, when you are carrying too many who don’t want to do the work without the ball, to the extent that four or five didn’t, then [Mikel] Arteta’s game-plan is gone.

“Arteta knows where he needs to go. And he has got confirmation of it tonight.”

It was a dreadful evening for Arsenal and their manager Arteta admitted post-match: “We completely deserved to lose the game. Liverpool were better in every department. Unacceptable from our side, the way we played today.

“It’s my fault. The team have to perform in a different way. The standard has to be much higher for this football club. It’s my job to get them to perform at that level.

“There were too many simple things not done right. The basics weren’t there today.”

And the Arsenal manager will have learned plenty from a sterile 90 minutes. He refused to use his long list of absentees as an excuse although Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka, David Luiz and Granit Xhaka were all missing for the north Londoners.

It got even worse for the Spanish coach when Scottish left-back Kieran Tierney was forced off with yet another fitness problem shortly before half-time.

As well as underlining how far Arsenal still are behind the teams chasing Champions League qualification, the performance and result showed how vital Smith Rowe, Saka and Tierney will be to the Gunners in the long term.

And in the short term, it also served to prove that Luiz and Xhaka’s influence is incredibly difficult to replace, for all their critics.

This was as meek an Arsenal performance as there has been all season and it was a surprise that they kept the dominant visitors out for an hour. After the first went in, the home team fell apart.

One shot from Cedric Soares in the second half, well caught, was all Liverpool’s goalkeeper Alisson had to do all match and even before Tierney went off, they offered very little in attack.

Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all barely featured, despite Jurgen Klopp’s pre-match claim to Sky Sports: “We have to be ready to defend them.”

Without the youthful effervescence of Smith Rowe and Saka and the energy and impetus they inject into the Arsenal attack, added to the thrust from out wide that full-back Tierney provides, Arsenal were utterly toothless.
And they were rudderless defensively too without the security offered to them on the ball by Xhaka and Luiz, and the leadership qualities they bring that cannot be defined by statistics.

“We gave every ball away, we could not put three passes together,” was Arteta’s apt full-time assessment. Xhaka and Luiz are far from perfect and their Emirates careers dictate that they are two of the most error-prone individuals in the Gunners’ squad.

But contrary to what some may say, they do offer plenty of quality and offer a greater steeliness than shown against Liverpool when they were missing. Xhaka and Thomas Partey is a significantly superior partnership to Partey and Dani Ceballos, who was dire against the Reds.

Defensively, Gabriel Magalhaes and Rob Holding struggled and both failed to offer the influence in possession that Luiz can, also failing to supply the presence off of the ball that the Brazilian – when at his best – gives.

MORE ARSENAL NEWS…
Arsenal fans fear the worst as Kieran Tierney hobbles off with injury
Arsenal transfer chief Edu could sell Saka to fund Odegaard pursuit
Mikel Arteta hints at transfer repeat which upset Arsenal fans

Worryingly for Arsenal, Arteta admitted in his post-match press conference that he does not know if Smith Rowe, Saka, Luiz or Xhaka will be back for Thursday, when they take on Slavia Prague in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final clash.

But beyond that, and heading into next season, it is clear Arsenal must sign Luiz up to another one-year contract extension and find a better way to cope when he and Xhaka are missing.

Smith Rowe and Saka’s impact on the side, given they are only 20 and 19 respectively, was also hammered home by their absence against Liverpool.

And clearly they will be integral to Arteta’s plans for the campaigns to come as Arsenal look to lift themselves back into the Champions League after a long absence.

It will be a mighty task to even get near the top four in 12 months’ time but with the right recruitment, and by utilising the on-pitch quality and leadership that the quintet of Smith Rowe, Saka, Tierney, Luiz and Xhaka bring, Arsenal can ensure there are fewer nights like this. They have to.

Baylor faces Gonzaga in NCAA National Championship

Baylor faces Gonzaga in NCAA National Championship

Baylor is set to take on Gonzaga for the National Championship of the NCAA Tournament Monday on CBS 8.

INDIANAPOLIS — Editors note: The video in this story is from March 17, 2021, about a High Point man who has made a larger-than-life NCAA tournament bracket.

No. 1 seed Baylor (27-2) will face No. 1 seed Gonzaga (31-0) in the NCAA Tournament National Championship at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Monday. The game starts at 8:20 p.m. and will air on WFMY 2.

BOTTOM LINE

Baylor is set to take on Gonzaga for the National Championship of the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga earned a 93-90 overtime win over UCLA in its most recent game, while Baylor won easily 78-59 against Houston in its last outing.

TEAM LEADERS

Gonzaga’s Drew Timme has averaged 19.2 points and 7.1 rebounds while Corey Kispert has put up 18.8 points and five rebounds. For the Bears, Jared Butler has averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 assists and two steals while Davion Mitchell has put up 14 points and 5.5 assists.

SPARKING THE OFFENSE

Mitchell has either made or assisted on 42 percent of all Baylor field goals over the last three games. The junior guard has accounted for 17 field goals and 19 assists in those games.

THREAT FROM DISTANCE

Gonzaga’s Kispert has attempted 200 3-pointers and connected on 44.5 percent of them, and is 17 of 38 over the last five games.

ASSIST-TO-FG RATIO

The Bulldogs have recently used assists to create baskets more often than the Bears. Gonzaga has an assist on 69 of 104 field goals (66.3 percent) over its past three games while Baylor has assists on 49 of 85 field goals (57.6 percent) during its past three games.

STINGY DEFENSE

Baylor has forced opponents into committing turnovers on 24.8 percent of all possessions this year, the eighth-highest rate among all Division I teams.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sends clear Man Utd transfer message to Paul Pogba and Mino Raiola

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sends clear Man Utd transfer message to Paul Pogba and Mino Raiola
Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola, speaking in December, declared that the France midfielder “needs a change of scenery” and saying: “Paul is unhappy at Man Utd. The best solution for all parties is a transfer in the next [summer] window.”

The super-agent declared that Pogba will depart United once his contract expires in the summer of 2022 rather than sign a new deal before then.

The 28-year-old has spent five years in Manchester since rejoining the club from Juventus for a club-record £89million fee in 2016.

Since then, Pogba has been continually linked with a move to Real Madrid or a return to Juve, with Raiola confirming the Italian giants “could be his next destination” late last year.

It is unclear if either club would be able to put the funds together to sign World Cup winner Pogba this summer, with Real Madrid solely enticed by the idea of trying to sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund at present.

But Solskjaer has declared that United’s stance is set – they want Pogba to put pen to paper on a fresh contract.

“While he’s been at the club Paul has always wanted what is best for Man United,” the Norwegian declared. “He’s been such an important part of the squad on and off the pitch.

“Paul is a player we want to see at Man United and play well. Just to have him back fit for the last two months, he’s going to be important to us.

“We know he can be the difference between many, many points or going through in Europe like we did against AC Milan.

“The focus is now on finishing the season strongly and Paul knows what my thoughts are.”

Pogba was one of United’s best performers before sustaining a hamstring injury in February and has produced five goals and three assists in 30 appearances this season.

The Frenchman is now back to full fitness and Solskjaer is delighted to have Pogba, who was named the club’s Player of the Month in January, back available.

“We’ve got a good open dialogue with Paul so what we talk about and how we see that situation remains between us,” he said.

“I’m just happy he’s focused and playing really well. He’s happy within himself and that’s important: you can see Paul enjoying football himself with a red shirt on.

“Our conversations remain private, of course. But for example, Paul is a Manchester United player through and through.

“He’s been here in two spells. He came as a kid, he’s learnt about the history of the club, the passion of the club.

“He wants to do the best for United when he’s here and I think we’ve seen that – that he really cares for his team and he’s trying to be as successful as everyone else.”