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How Nemanja Matic has become key to Manchester United revival under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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Opta data shows how Nemanja Matic has helped Manchester United turn their form around – and earn himself a contract extension.

Nemanja Matic neatly sums up Manchester United’s upturn in form in recent weeks.

The midfielder was considering his future in December but has now earned a one-year extension to his contract and talks have started over a longer-term deal.

The 31-year-old started only three Premier League games this season before the turn of the year but has become a key part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side during an 11-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

Using Opta data, we look at how Matic has turned around his United career – with a little help from a certain midfield partner…

 

Adding substance to style

Matic has always been regarded as a solid technician – his abilities on the ball and when distributing have never really been in doubt.

Even when it looked like his days at Old Trafford were numbered, one could still rely on Matic to be neat in possession.

But towards the end of last season, and when he featured in the earlier stages of this term, it was his effectiveness off the ball that raised concerns, appearing sluggish, slow and perhaps generally lacking fitness.

READ   Jose Mourinho opens up about Tottenham Hotspur’s summer transfer plans after Champions League exit

He is on the right track again now, however. Over United’s unbeaten run, he has averaged three tackles per match, a figure only Fred and Andreas Pereira can match – though the latter has played significantly fewer minutes.

Matic is also averaging two interceptions per match. Scott McTominay (three) is the solitary United midfielder to have a better record in comparison – but again, the Scotland international has not played as regularly as the Serbian.

Recoveries are another area Matic is proving effective in, with eight per game, the second-highest among United’s midfielders.

Fred finds his feet

But undoubtedly a key element of Matic’s renaissance has been the overall improvement among United’s midfield options, particularly with respect to Fred.

Even with Paul Pogba in the team last season, United’s midfield was a real problem area. They rarely lacked control, teams often sliced straight through them and not enough creativity was coming from the middle.

The same cannot be said now. While Bruno Fernandes’ introduction has obviously had an impact, a lot of it is down to Fred’s adaptation. The Brazilian’s well-rounded abilities have him excelling in many areas.

READ   Former Germany international tells Bayern Munich not to sign Manchester City attacker

In 2020, Fred (546) is second only to Rodri (670) for successful passes, while his defensive side of the game has also seen him stand out.

The former Shakhtar Donetsk star has made 25 tackles, a figure bettered by only five other midfielders this season, 16 interceptions – behind just six other central players – and 92 recoveries, one shy of the leading figured posted by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

Matic certainly deserves praise for seemingly saving his United career, but on the face of it, he is being helped by the fact he is now playing in a significantly more effective and cohesive midfield.

 

 

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Cameroon

Castelletto Agrees To Join French Side Nantes FC

Cameroon International, Jean-Charles Castelletto has agreed to join FC Nantes. The Cameroon international penned a three-year contract that will keep him at Stade de la Beaujoire until 2023.

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Jean-Charles Castelletto

Cameroon International, Jean-Charles Castelletto has agreed to join FC Nantes. The Cameroon international penned a three-year contract that will keep him at Stade de la Beaujoire until 2023.

In a statement release after signing Castelletto, FC Nantes said, “FC Nantes is very happy to announce the signing of Jean-Charles Castelletto (25 years old), who will arrive free of any commitment on July 1 from the Stade Brestois 29.”

On his part, Jean-Charles Castelletto said,

“I am very happy to be able to sign at FC Nantes. This is a very large French football club in which I hope to be able to achieve great things in the coming days. I am impatient to start and to discover my new teammates.”

The 25 year-old player contract ends on July 1 at FC Brest. The player is said to have given an impressive account of himself in his debut Ligue 1 season with his fine defensive displays. He played 22 matches in the just-concluded French Ligue I season, helping Brest finish 14th in the league table with a goal to his credit.

READ   Former Germany international tells Bayern Munich not to sign Manchester City attacker

Castelleto started his football career at Auxerre Academy in 2012 and he featured for the club in Ligue 2, before moving to Belgium to join Club Brugge in 2015.

After struggling for playing time in the first half of the 2015-16 Belgian First Division A season, he was loaned to Royal Excel Mouscron where he played 10 league matches.

His lack of playing time at Brugge, forced him to return to France to join second division club Red Star on a season-long loan. The Cameroonian defender joined Brest at the end of the temporary deal in 2017 and helped the team earned promotion to Ligue 1 in 2019.

By Etienne Mainimo

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Reports: Real Madrid target Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, Juventus take decision on Cristiano Ronaldo future

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Liverpool star Sadio Mane is reportedly being pursued by Real Madrid.

Could Liverpool part with Sadio Mane?

The star forward is a key member of Jurgen Klopp’s side, who won the Champions League last season.

However, Real Madrid are reportedly ready to test Liverpool’s resolve.

TOP STORY – MADRID SET SIGHTS ON MANE

LaLiga giants Real Madrid are targeting Liverpool star Sadio Mane, reports The Mirror.

Mane has established himself as an integral part of Liverpool’s squad after arriving from Southampton in 2016.

However, Madrid believe they could tempt Liverpool with a £140million (€154m) offer.

 

ROUND-UP

– Tuttosport’s frontpage has the headline “Hands off Ronaldo”. Sunday’s newspaper features a story which says Juventus and Cristiano Ronaldo want to continue together as the Serie A champions look to sign a “real number nine” amid links to Mauro Icardi. The Argentina international is on loan at Paris Saint-Germain from Inter.

READ   Wojciech Szczesny rewarded with new Juve deal

– PSG expect Neymar to leave at the end of the season, with ESPN claiming the Ligue 1 giants value the Barcelona target at €150m. Neymar left Barca for PSG in a world-record €222m deal in 2017.

– According to the Express, Chelsea are preparing a £85m (€93m) bid for Bayer Leverkusen’s Leon BaileyLiverpoolArsenal and Manchester United have also been linked to the 22-year-old.

– Gazzetta dello Sport claims PSG are keen on Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic, who is contracted to the Italian giants until 2023. While Pjanic could leave Turin, Emerson Palmieri could arrive as Juve eye the Chelsea full-back.

 

– United have offered goalkeeper Dean Henderson a new contract worth £100,000 per week, reports The Sun. Henderson is on loan at Sheffield United.

– The Mirror says UnitedBorussia DortmundBayern Munich and Chelsea have all met Birmingham City’s asking price for teenage sensation Jude Bellingham.

READ   Former Germany international tells Bayern Munich not to sign Manchester City attacker

– Liverpool are ready to offload Xherdan ShaqiriDejan LovrenNathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana at the end of the season, according to the Liverpool Echo.

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El Clasico hero reveals he ‘had three days’ to choose Real Madrid over Barcelona

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Real Madrid’s El Clasico hero Vinicius Jr. revealed in a recent interview that he almost joined Barcelona in 2017, before making the decision to sign for their arch-rivals within three days.

Speaking to FourFourTwo, Vinicius said, “It was right after I came back from the 2017 South American Under-17 Championship in Chile, that rumours started saying that Barcelona and Real Madrid were interested.”

“There were already a lot of rumours in the press also, but I never believed them.”

“Eventually it happened: both Real Madrid and Barcelona put offers on the table and I had only three days to make my decision.”

“I always wanted to play for the greatest club, so that’s why I chose Real,” he said.

“My parents visited both clubs and liked them more. It matched with what I already wanted, and I felt their project was better for me,” the Brazilian added further.

“They give a lot of minutes to the younger players, like me, and were going through an outstanding period of success in the Champions League back then.”

READ   Wojciech Szczesny rewarded with new Juve deal

“Fortunately, I played a lot of games in my first season,” the 19-year-old went on, before concluding:

“Now I have surpassed 50 matches for Real Madrid – few players achieve that at such a young age.”

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