Florian Wirtz EXCLUSIVE, Dembele blow, Rudiger ‘perfect signing’, Ronaldo inspires Haaland

MANCHESTER UNITED are pursuing Bayer Leverkusen starlet Florian Wirtz, SunSport can exclusively reveal.

Ralf Rangnick is going to use his knowledge of the Bundesliga to unearth some future stars and the German has told his new colleagues the midfielder, 18, will be his country’s next big player.

Antonio Rudiger would be a “perfect signing” for Manchester United, according to a former Old Trafford star.

The Chelsea defender is out of contract in the summer and former Red Devil Paul Parker says the club should move for the Germany international.

Parker said: “If you had him next to [Raphael] Varane, what a difference you’re talking about.

“Good pace and you’re talking about someone who’s won a World Cup, Champions League and then you’ve got a centre-half, who in the old-school way of talking is actually a leader.”

Meanwhile, Ousmane Dembele looks set to stay at Barcelona with reports suggested he is on the cusp of signing a new contract.

Elsewhere, United are keeping close tabs on Erling Haaland, with the club looking to pounce on a move for the striker should he become available.

Boss Ralf Rangnick is said to have spoken to Haaland’s dad as United look to snap up the Dortmund star, who previously stated Cristiano Ronaldo is the reason he started playing football.

And we’ve the very latest on Edinson Cavani, who is being eyed by Juventus.


Get all the latest Man Utd transfer news, gossip and updates here.

  • Ex Liverpool star backs United

    BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson has backed Man United to beat Newcastle 2-0 tomorrow at St James’ Park.

    He wrote in his column: “I do think this game will end in another defeat for the Magpies too.

    “Yes, they were competitive at Anfield, and they also had a big decision go against them against Manchester City, but the facts are they were just not good enough defensively to get anything out of either game.

    “I’m expecting a similar story here. Manchester United have had a couple of weeks off since their last game because of a Covid-19 outbreak, but their training ground reopened this week and Ralf Rangnick will have been working them hard.

    “They will be going to St James’ Park to win.”

  • Michael Owen predicts tomorrow’s game

    Former Manchester United striker has had his say on tomorrow’s clash between the Red Devils and another of his former sides, Newcastle.

    He told BetVictor: “This is one of my favourite fixtures and St James’ Park will be noisy for this one. Newcastle continue to struggle, mainly at the back.

    “I’ve said all season that I don’t worry about the goals in this side, Callum Wilson is a natural goal scorer, but they need to improve defensively. They’ve been in a difficult run of fixtures though, and things will get easier from now.

    “I’m very interested to see how Man United perform. There’s been some signs of change from the new boss in terms of pressing and how he wants them to play. He’s had some time with the squad to get more of his ideas across and it will be fascinating to see how they play.

    “With the home fans behind them, I can see Newcastle scoring. I don’t trust them at the back though and United will score a couple of their own.”

    Owen has backed a 2-1 Man United win.

  • Red Devils star on Rangnick training

    David de Gea has opened up on what it’s like to work for Ralf Rangnick.

    He told United’s official website: “We’ve been training hard, of course.

    “It’s very intense, every training session, every moment with him [Rangnick] is intense.

    “You have to give 100 per cent every time in training and in the games.

    “Let’s see. It’s just the beginning, it’s been a couple of weeks, so let’s see in the future.

    “The team is training with energy, with pace, and now we have to show that in big games.”

  • Merry Christmas everyone from JLingz

    Jesse Lingard took to Twitter to wish his followers a merry Christmas yesterday.

    The Man United and England star posted a picture of himself performing his trademark hand gesture alongside a sign saying ‘Christmas with the Lingards’ and a number of presents.

    He wrote: “Merry Christmas everybody!”

  • Doesn’t matter if it’s scruffy

    Here’s your festive goal of the day, Red Devils fans!

    As United say in their post, it doesn’t matter how they go in.

    All Red Devils fans would take a scruffy winning goal like this against Newcastle tomorrow!

  • Elanga on living the dream

    Man United starlet Anthony Elanga penned a new long-term deal on Christmas Eve.

    And the young winger is excited for what’s next under Ralf Rangnick.

    Upon signing the contract, he said: “My ultimate ambition has always been to play for United.

    “I know that with dedication comes opportunity at this special club and I cannot wait to continue my progress here.”

  • United joined in Trippier chase

    Manchester United are set to be rivalled by Newcastle in the race to sign Kieran Trippier.

    The Red Devils hold long-term interest in the former Spurs right-back, as they hunt for competition for Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Diogo Dalot.

    According to transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, Atletico Madrid are ‘waiting’ for an official approach by Newcastle.

    Trippier’s contract is set to run until June 2023.

  • United rivalled in Boubacar Kamara chase

    Newcastle are making a dramatic bid to sign Marseille midfield star Boubacar Kamara — from under the noses of Premier League rivals, writes Alan Nixon.

    The Toon’s transfer team have lined up talks with Kamara’s agents — and hope to agree a deal with him before sorting out a fee with the French giants.

    The anchorman, 22, is a free agent at the end of the season but Newcastle plan to fix personal terms and offer as much as £10million to buy him in January.

    That kind of money could see off other Premier League interest from the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea, as most of Kamara’s fan club want to wait until he can go for nothing in the summer.

    Newcastle boss Eddie Howe has told the owners that he wants Prem experience — but also believes Kamara is too good to miss and should be snapped up quickly.

  • Ronaldo reveals origin of celebration

    Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed that his iconic “Sii” celebration was born against former Premier League rivals Chelsea.

    The Portuguese superstar, now 36, is now renowned for his trademark jump in the air and swivel move – accompanied by him shouting “Sii” – whenever he scores a goal.

    He regularly performs the unique celebration now, but it was fans in America who first witnessed the pose.

    Speaking to the YouTube channel Soccer.com, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner revealed he whipped out the now-classic move while playing for Real Madrid in a friendly against Chelsea.

    Ronaldo recalled: “Well, I was in the US and we played against Chelsea and I don’t know where it came from. I just scored and I went, ‘sii!’

    “But it was natural, to be honest.

    “After that, I started doing it and I feel like the fans, when they see me they’re like ‘sii’ and I was like, ‘wow, people remember Cristiano because of the sii,’ so I continued like that.”

    The Portuguese star revealed that he first did the trademark pose in a match against Chelsea

  • What happened to Cristiano’s pals?

    The 2003-04 season wasn’t the finest of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Old Trafford reign – but the emergence of Cristiano Ronaldo still made it one to remember.

    Manchester United came third in the Premier League and crashed out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage to Jose Mourinho’s Porto (although they did win the FA Cup).

    After a turbulent off-season that saw Ferguson lose David Beckham and Juan Sebastian Veron – as well as miss out on Ronaldinho – the Scot took his side to Portugal for a friendly with Sporting CP.

    And a scrawny Portuguese teenager impressed Sir Alex so much, that five days later he had signed him for £12.5million

    Just four days later Ronaldo – now back at Old Trafford for a second stint – was included on the bench for his new side’s Premier League season opener at home to Bolton.

    He replaced Nicky Butt after 61 minutes – and the skinny 18-year-old was electrifying, bamboozling the visiting defence and giving the Stretford End a new hero.

    Here’s the XI that was fielded by Sir Alex that day.

  • More on Florian Wirtz chase

    He knows the prospect of a leading role at Old Trafford would be hard to reject.

    United have also been watching Leipzig’s Amadou Haidara and Boubacar Kamara of Marseille – but Wirtz is their first choice.

    Ex-Germany and Liverpool star Didi Hamann has called him the best central midfielder he has seen in years, after two stunning seasons at Leverkusen.

    Wirtz made his debut just three weeks after his 17th birthday and became his nation’s youngestever Under-21 international at the same age.

    He has since been called up into Germany’s senior squad.

    United know they would have to pay big bucks to sign him, as his Leverkusen deal runs to 2026.

  • Exclusive – Wirtz United transfer target

    Ralf Rangnick will step up his efforts to land £60million-rated German superkid Florian Wirtz, writes PHIL THOMAS.

    The Manchester United boss has also drawn up a hitlist of crack Bundesliga rookies he wants at Old Trafford – whether he is in charge next season or not.

    Yet his No 1 target is Bayer Leverkusen teenager Wirtz – described as the best young German midfielder in decades.

    The 18-year-old has long been on the radar of some of Europe’s top dogs.

    However, he has hinted he would prefer to develop his game in the Bundesliga.

    Yet Rangnick is prepared to test that resolve by offering him a chance to star at United.

  • Tottenham vs Crystal Palace could be postponed

    Tottenham vs Crystal Palace looks set to be the next Boxing Day game called off.

    A Covid outbreak among the Palace staff has put the clash at risk, with speculation suggesting it will be cancelled.

    However, an announcement has yet to be made.

  • Mourinho wants Wellens

    Jose Mourinho could earn a measure of revenge on Man Utd for his sacking three years ago.

    The Special One is looking to bring youngster Charlie Wellens to Roma.

    Wellens has featured in United’s Champions League squad but may feel he has a better chance of progressing elsewhere.

    Roma and another of Mourinho’s former clubs, Spurs, are reported to be leading the chase.

  • Feeling the heat

    Footballers across the country celebrated Christmas today.

    However, Cristiano Ronaldo has his mind on a huge game with Newcastle in two days.

    The five-time Ballon d’Or winner spent part of his Christmas Day in the sauna ahead of the big match on Tyneside.

  • Man Utd ‘to activate Haaland release clause’

    Manchester United are ready to pay Erling Haaland’s release clause, according to reports.

    This summer, the sought after Norwegian can leave Dortmund for £63m.

    And Bild claim that the Red Devils are leading the chase for Haaland, with Man City and Real Madrid also interested.

  • Boxing Day fixtures

    Man Utd fans can put their feet up tomorrow after their Christmas turkey and enjoy four Premier League clashes from around the country.

    United aren’t in action until Monday against Newcastle, where Sky Sports will be showing the 8pm KO.

    • Liverpool vs Leeds – 12.30pm – postponed
    • Wolves vs Watford – 12.30pm – postponed
    • Burnley vs Everton – 3pm – postponed
    • Man City vs Leicester – 3pm
    • Norwich vs Arsenal – 3pm
    • Tottenham vs Crystal Palace – 3pm – BT Sport
    • West Ham vs Southampton – 3pm
    • Aston Villa vs Chelsea – 5.30pm – Sky Sports
    • Brighton vs Brentford – 8pm – Sky Sports
  • To be Frank

    Manchester United should make a move for Barcelona star Frenkie De Jong if Paul Pogba leaves.

    That’s the opinion of former Liverpool and England star John Barnes, who thinks the 24-year-old Dutchman ‘has everything’.

    Pogba is out of contract with United at the end of the season, and has given little indication he is ready to stick around.

    And if he does decide to leave United for a second time, Barnes thinks De Jong is the perfect replacement.

    Speaking to BonusCodeBets, the 58-year-old said: “Frenkie de Jong would be a brilliant signing for Manchester United.

    “He has everything in terms of passing range, intensity and a great attitude. It’s exactly what Manchester United need in midfield.

    “That was their plan with Donny Van de Beek, but of course he’s been stifled by other players in his position playing better than him.”

  • Iggy Stardust

    Newcastle are interested in signing former Manchester United star Odion Ighalo, according to reports.

    The striker, 32, currently plays for Saudi Arabian side Al Shabab and is the top scorer in the league this season with nine goals.

    He moved to the Middle East after his loan spell at United, from Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua, came to an end earlier this year.

    He scored five goals in 23 games for the Red Devils and he would be open to a move to St. James’ Park, report Sky Sports.

  • Ou are ya

    Ousmane Dembele will NOT be joining Manchester United, with the Barcelona winger reportedly set to put pen-to-paper on a new contract.

    The Frenchman has previously been linked with a move to Manchester United, but has now agreed a new five-year deal at Barcelona on a lower weekly wage.

    According to Spanish outlet SPORT, the 24-year-old will sign a new contract next month.

    By taking on a lower wage the wide-man will help reduce Barca’s overall wage bill, therefore helping to fund new signings.

  • Un-bar-lieveable lineup

    Manchester United almost managed to get Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to link-up… for Barcelona.

    Portuguese superstar Ronaldo shattered football’s transfer record in 2009 when he left Old Trafford to join Real Madrid for £80million.

    Los Blancos had already splashed out on Karim Benzema, Xabi Alonso and Ballon d’Or winner Kaka in response to Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering debut season as Nou Camp chief the year before.

    But they were almost denied the jewel in returning president’s Florentino Perez’s masterplan if Sir Alex Ferguson had got his way.

    The legendary Scot was desperate to avoid losing Ronaldo to Real once he’d accepted that the former Sporting Lisbon winger was set to leave.

    Fergie had even said back in 2008 that he wouldn’t sell Madrid a ‘virus’ let alone his best player.

    And according to Spanish newspaper AS, the United boss realised at the time that Barcelona were the only other club who could afford Ronaldo.

  • Ron’s Christmas wishes

    United talisman Cristiano Ronaldo has delighted fans with an adorable family Christmas picture.

    Ronaldo, partner Georgina Rodriguez, and his four children all dressed up in matching red Christmas pyjamas on the eve of the big day.

    CR7’s mother Dolores also cracked a smile for the cameras as the Ronaldo family lined up to pose for the picture on the staircase of their Manchester mansion.

    He made a peace sign with his fingers as he sat next to stunning partner Georgina, either side of his four children at the bottom of the stairs.

    The family smiled next to their enormous Christmas tree that was already well stacked with various presents and gifts.

    A number of Ronaldo’s other nearest and dearest are also in the picture.

  • Merry Christmas Red Devils!

    It’s all smiles at Old Trafford with Ralf at the helm – and that feel-good factor seems to be rubbing off on the players.

    That was evident as Bruno Fernandes and Nemanja Matic poked fun at Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo after coming out on top in a training game.

    They appear to be in high spirits as Matic took to Instagram to gloat about a victory in training.

    The Serbian midfielder took it upon himself to call out Ronaldo as he posed with the rest of his winning teammates.

    Matic said: “Winning team! @cristiano are you ok?,” alongside a laughing emoji.

    United are back in action on Monday, with their game at Newcastle currently still on despite Covid-19 fears.

  • Roy’s relegation picks

    United legend Roy Keane has given his relegation picks for this season.

    The Irishman told Micah Richards in their latest Driving Home for Christmas episode: “I’ll tell you, I’m going to go Norwich, and I’m going to say Newcastle.”

    Keane then brought three other sides into the mix as he predicted the trio would be battling to avoid the final spot.

    Discussing Southampton, he said: “They are a moody team, they can win two or three at home then lose six or seven.

    “I’m going to say it’s between Southampton and Watford.

    “But even Burnley. Burnley’s points total… But you know, Burnley could be one of them teams where because they have got out of it before, you automatically think ‘oh they will get out it’ and they don’t.”

  • Buffon: Juve ‘lost their DNA’ with Ronaldo

    Gianluigi Buffon blames Cristiano Ronaldo for Juventus ‘losing their DNA’ and team ethic.

    Legendary keep Buffon claims the Italian champs were no longer a squad pulling tougher and fighting for their places during Ron’s 2018-21 stint.

    Ronaldo is now back at Manchester United, still firing in the goals at 36 but sparking questions over his suitability to team tactics.

    And the Azzurri’s 176-cap icon Buffon, 43, now with Parma, told TUDN: “Juventus had the chance to win the Champions League the first year he arrived, which was the year I was at Paris Saint-Germain, and I couldn’t figure out what happened.

    “When I returned, I worked with Ronaldo for two years and we did well together, but I think Juventus lost that DNA of being a team.

    “We reached the Champions League final in 2017 because we were a side full of experience.

    “But above all we were a single unit and there was this competition for places within the group that was very strong. We lost that with Ronaldo.”