Manchester United are particularly targeting Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane to fix their failing defense – the latest issue of ESPN’s Insider’s Notebook talks about it. PLUS: Barcelona are looking for the next Christian Pulisic.

Bond : Barca intensify efforts to find next Pulisic, Hoppe | Starlet Man wanted by Barca | Font does not choose after Cruyff’s promise | Arsenal look to Premier League legend | Oops! Forgetting a player at the petrol station

Solskjaer’s plan to fix Man United’s shaky defense

Manchester United will prioritize attracting a new central defender this summer if manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to address the weaknesses in his team’s defense, sources told ESPN.

United is the top scorer in the Premier League with 49 points, but faced 30 goals against in 23 games. Leeds United is the only team in the top half of the league table to have conceded more goals, with 38.

Solskjaer wants a partner for captain Harry Maguire, who will move to Leicester for £80 million in 2019. Jules Kunde of Sevilla, Tyrone Mings of Aston Villa, Rafael Varane of Real Madrid and David Carmo of Braga are all on his list. RB Leipzig defender Diote Upamekano is also a target, but United’s recruitment team fear Bayern Munich are further along in the race for the signature.

Solskjaer will retain Victor Lindelof and although he is a fan of Eric Bailey, he is concerned about the Ivorian international’s injury history. Bailey impressed alongside Maguire, but has not played since the 2-1 win over Fulham on January 20. He has made just over 20 appearances in all competitions in one of his four full seasons at the club.


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Dawson: defensive lapses cost Man United the title race

Varan’s future at Real Madrid is in doubt as the French defender’s contract expires in 2022. Kunde, 22, of Sevilla, is one of the best young defenders in Europe. He was on Manchester City’s shortlist before getting Ruben Dias from Benfica. Liverpool wanted to sign the contract of 21-year-old Portuguese youth international Carmo on deadline day, but failed to reach an agreement with his club SC Braga.

Solskjaer has been promised money to strengthen the team this summer, but the United boss has also been told that the club will remain cautious with its finances as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Sources told ESPN that United have not given up on contracting Jadon Sancho either, although it maintains its position that Borussia Dortmund should reduce the price by £120 million. — Rob Dawson

Wrong!!! Film not specified.Rafael Varane is Manchester United’s transfer target for the summer. Diego Souto / Quality Sporting Images / Getty Images

Barca begin the hunt for the next Pulisic, Hoppe.

FC Barcelona has stepped up surveillance of their flagship academy in the United States to find the next American star to make the jump to the first team.

Matthew Hoppe is the latest graduate of the Arizona Barca Resident Academy to make his mark in professional soccer, with a hat-trick in the Bundesliga in January. The 19-year-old Californian signed his first professional contract with Schalke this month.

He is not the only player from the academy introduced in 2017 to make the transition to the pros. Julian Araujo (Los Angeles Galaxy), who has already been acquired by the US, is another player who will find his place in the team alongside Caden Clark (New York Red Bulls), Bryce Duke (Los Angeles FC) and Amadeo Chapru Tate (Leganes).

– Meet Matthew Hoppe: the next flashy major league sensation in the United States.

Given the pace at which players are developing, Barca have decided to work more closely with the academy in the hope of finding the next Sergino Dest or Christian Pulisic. USMNT’s Dest signed with Barca last summer for €21 million plus €5 million in potential additions, while his compatriot Pulisic impressed in the Premier League when he moved from Borussia Dortmund to Chelsea.

In partnership with Grande Sports World, Barcelona has also increased its investment in the Arizona school and wants to ensure that no one falls through the cracks.

The Barca Academy project counts 49 soccer schools around the world, but the reputation of the Arizona residence is surpassed only by that of La Masia, and the club hopes that its relationship with Grand Sports World can help develop its talent in the United States.

Under the revised academy control system, players who are not selected by professional teams will receive scholarships to study in the United States so they can pursue a career in soccer in addition to their studies. — Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens

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1:17

Jürgen Klinsmann praises Matthew Hoppe after the American teenager’s heroic hat-trick for Schalke.

The star of the Man United academy, Shoretire, is the target of Barca.

Manchester United have beaten rivals Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich to sign a first professional contract with youngster Shola Shoretire, sources told ESPN.

Representatives for the 17-year-old striker contacted some of Europe’s biggest clubs before the player accepted a professional contract at United on Monday.

Shoretire expressed confidence in his long-term future after speaking with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and first team manager Nicky Batt. The latter spoke of the success of Academy graduate Mason Greenwood under his leadership.

– Big spenders: How Man United lost money in the transfer market

Shoretire, who has already scored five times for the U-23s this season, has begun training with the first team and will make his first division debut in the next 18 months.

Plans to allow young players to gain Europa League experience this season were hampered by strict protocols against the coronavirus, which prevented players from mixing easily with other bubbles. The first Round of 16 of the Europa League between United and Real Sociedad has been moved from Spain to Juventus at the Allianz Arena. — Rob Dawson

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1:01

Craig Burley was unimpressed with Manchester United despite the extra-time victory over West Ham.

Font rejected this choice because Cruyff supports Laporta.

Victor Fonta’s chances of becoming Barcelona president have been dashed after Jordi Cruyff – the man he would appoint as the club’s sports director if elected – said his father Johan would vote for rival Joan Laporta.

The Font campaign was built around the return of Xavi Hernandez and, to a lesser extent, Cruyff’s signature. He is the head coach of Chinese Super League club Shenzhen.

Along with Carl Puyol, Xavi and Cruyff are two figures that could sway the election to one side or the other, but sources have confirmed to ESPN that none of them will side with either candidate. They all hope to return to Barca one day and do not want to limit themselves by clearly committing to a campaign.

Nevertheless, Cruyff tipped the scales in Laporta’s favor by offering him the support of his late father before the March 7 elections.

“I’m sure my father would have voted for Laporta,” Mr. Cruyff said. “Older players and former players speak well of him and that’s not easy. Xavi himself said Laporta is the best president he has ever had.”

Johan Cruyff, who died in 2016, became a legend at Barca as a player and then as manager of the Dream Team, leading the club to its first European Cup in 1992. The club has followed his philosophy ever since.

Laporta has chosen not to use names to promote his campaign, while Font has regularly spoken of Xavi and Cruyff’s involvement in his project. He appointed Xavi as general manager and eventually coach, saying he would resign immediately if elected and that Xavi would not return to Barca from his coaching role in Qatar. – Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens

Wrong: it is the cinema, not specified.Jordi Cruyff, that seems to have supported Victor Font’s campaign, as Father Johan would have voted for the president and hoped for his victory. AFP PHOTO

Color blindness is a problem in the Premier League.

The Premier League has been warned that fans may turn away from the game if radical changes are not made to avoid the confusion that has led to hundreds of complaints this season.

Kathryn Albany-Ward, director of Colour Blind Awareness, told ESPN in January that the organization had been inundated with complaints from fans who could not tell the difference between Liverpool and Manchester United during the 0-0 draw at Anfield. United wore an alternative green shirt, while Liverpool wore the traditional red. Last week, Chelsea wore a light blue jersey in their away game against Sheffield United, although their home jersey would have been the most logical choice against Sheffield United’s red and white stripes.

Sources told ESPN that the Premier League uses computer software to ensure that all matches are played with clubs in recognizable colors. The software was recently updated to include a “color-blind-friendly flag” to determine the best possible combinations for non-color-blind faces.

But Albany-Ward says more needs to be done to help those who have trouble separating teams when their equipment meets.

“If the fans can’t see the difference between the teams, it affects revenue, they turn off the TV shows or, if there is a clash, they choose not to pay to watch,” Albany-Ward told ESPN.

“Regulations already established by the state are supposed to prevent collisions, but because the people who enforce them don’t understand colorblindness, the regulations are not properly enforced. If the regulations are corrected and properly enforced, developers and manufacturers should also ensure that they avoid collisions with kits in the future.

“I think there is a lot of concern about this issue. The people at the coal mine I talk to understand the problem. But they don’t want to upset the top of the sport if it could alienate sponsors or broadcasters. They dare not raise the issue because they fear it will affect them and be seen as them. Fear prevents change.

“The more elite players speak out, the faster the change will be. Colorblind top players [need to] speak out because they themselves are affected, or other players on their behalf.

Color blindness (also known as color blindness) is a genetic disorder that affects approximately 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women worldwide. Although there is an extremely rare version where people cannot see colors at all, most people with this disorder are still able to see colors, but are confused by the different shades. The most common form is “red-green color blindness,” which affects the spectrum that contains these colors. Lewis Holman.

Wrong!!! The film specified.generated more complaints from color-blind fans than Chelsea’s match against Sheffield United. Clive Mason/Getty Images

Vieira has his eyes set on the Premier League, but Bournemouth first.

Arsenal legend and former New York City FC boss Patrick Vieira is on a shortlist of three candidates to take charge of Bournemouth, sources told ESPN.

Vieira won the 1998 World Cup with France and three league titles with Arsenal and most recently led Nice in Ligue 1. At 44, he has also enjoyed a successful career in Major League Soccer, leading New York to the qualifiers for the first time since finishing second in the Eastern Conference in 2016.

Sources told ESPN that Vieira’s dream is to make it in England, preferably in the Premier League, but that he would be willing to come from the league level to start. Bournemouth have been without a manager since the dismissal of Jason Tindall and the club finished sixth in the league.

Sources added that Bournemouth’s position appeals to Vieira because he believes the team is good enough for an immediate return to the Premier League and that the club suits him as he seeks to develop his coaching career. — Julien Laurens

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1:18

Julien Laurens looks at Neymar’s injury during PSG’s 1-0 win over Caen.

Oops! A player went to a gas station in France

Thierry Njoh-Eboa had hoped from the start to take part in last Sunday’s French Cup in Belfor…., before his club accidentally left him at a gas station.

The French Fourth Division made the three-hour bus trip from Lugan to Belfort, with a break after a two-hour drive. Njo-Eboa joined his teammates for a walk, a toilet break and refreshments for the rest of the trip. But when Njo-Eboa returned, to his dismay, the coach left for Belfort without him.

To make matters worse, the left back left his cell phone with the coach so he couldn’t call his teammates. He had to stay at the gas station hoping that sooner or later they would notice his absence.

Unfortunately, the team discovered that their usual defender was not there when they arrived in Belfort for the game and sent a car to take him to Besancon-Marchot, where he had to wait for over an hour.

Njo-Eboa came to the game and first sat on the bench before being called into action in the last 30 minutes. But the story had a happy ending, as his team reached the Round of 16 with a victory. And after the game, he was the first player to return to the coach….Julien Lawrence

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