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10 World Cup stars Man Utd should buy

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The World Cup always leads to a number of transfers as players burst onto the scene or show that they can perform on the biggest stage. It is usually heading into the summer transfer window, but the winter World Cup in Qatar could lead to a mad January transfer window in Europe.

The tournament also allows clubs who have got their eyes on certain stars to see them up close and in another environment. That is going to be the case for Manchester United who are always one of the major protagonists in every transfer window.

The areas where United could be looking to make moves are up front following Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure, the midfield can always be looked at, and depth is needed in central defence and at right-back.

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Jude Bellingham

Jude Bellingham opened the scoring for England against Iran / Richard Sellers/GettyImages

Let’s just get Jude Bellingham out of the way. He will be leaving Borussia Dortmund in the near future and essentially, every big club wants him.

He would improve any midfield and can United really afford to let him join Liverpool or Manchester City after missing out on Erling Haaland. Erik ten Hag would certainly welcome the move and would do what is needed to make space for the Englishman.

Lautaro Martinez

Lautaro Martinez had a goal ruled out against Saudi Arabia / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

Theoretically, Inter are one of the easier big clubs to buy from. They are not in great financial shape and the owners need cash. Lautaro Martinez is one of their prime assets.

The Argentinian striker can be very patchy, but he could take to the Premier League really well and United really need a starting striker to challenge the injury-prone Anthony Martial. A deal would likely cost around £70-80m.

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Goncalo Ramos

Ramos recently played in a friendly against Nigeria / Carlos Rodrigues/GettyImages

A lesser-known striker, but you can do much worse than shopping at Benfica. Goncalo Ramos is behind Cristiano Ronaldo in the pecking order for Portugal in Qatar, but should get some minutes.

The 21-year-old has got nine goals and three assists in the Primeira Liga this season and, including qualifiers, has scored five Champions League goals.

Jurrien Timber, Noa Lang

Jurrien Timber (right) should get some minutes in Qatar / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

He’s not going to say it publicly, but Ten Hag would surely be okay with the idea of United selling Harry Maguire. That would open the door for one of his old colleagues.

Jurrien Timber was linked to United in the summer, along with everyone else at Ajax. At 21 years old, he could be a very smart signing to slowly replace Raphael Varane over the next two to three years.

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FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022"Senegal v The Netherlands"

Gakpo receives congratulations from Louis van Gaal / ANP/GettyImages

Gakpo announced himself in Qatar with a goal for the Netherlands against Senegal and he could be in for a very good tournament.

If Ronaldo had left United in the summer, it is likely Gakpo would now be a Red Devil. The PSV Eindhoven striker is destined to leave and United could be the perfect place.

Enzo Fernandez

Enzo Fernandez was introduced against Saudi Arabia in the second half / Matthias Hangst/GettyImages

We’re back at the Estadio da Luz to potentially poach another supremely talented 21-year-old. Enzo Fernandez is a midfielder who looks destined for the top.

He is fast, agile, and has an incredible passing range. He didn’t start the game against Saudi Arabia but after that defeat, he should feature more prominently in the next group game for Argentina.

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Lamptey faced Brazil recently in a friendly for Ghana / DAMIEN MEYER/GettyImages

Diogo Dalot has done really well to make the right-back spot at United his own, but now he needs some competition.

Brighton’s Ghanaian star Tariq Lamptey could be just the player to pressure Dalot and even surpass the Portuguese defender. It wouldn’t be a cheap deal, but he is a serious talent.

Joao Felix

Joao Felix is at odds with Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone / Carlos Rodrigues/GettyImages

If Erik ten Hag decided to take a modern striker-less approach to his time at United, he could do a lot worse than taking advantage of Joao Felix’s unhappiness at Atletico Madrid.

The Portuguese-speaking contingent is already big at United and Felix is a deeply talented player who could be the focal point of United’s attack.

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Joakim Maehle, Hannibal Mejbri

Maehle up against United youngster Hannibal Mejbri / Francois Nel/GettyImages

Atalanta and Denmark wing-back Joakim Maehle may not quite be at the quality level that United need but he would provide depth on the left and right.

He would be a cheap signing as Atalanta may not fight the deal too hard, and he is capable of moments of brilliance. Being surrounded by United’s attackers and midfield could help him find a new level.

Min-Jae Kim, Ademola Lookman

Kim Min-jae has been deeply impressive in Serie A this season / Jonathan Moscrop/GettyImages

Kim Min-jae was relatively unknown at Fenerbahce but since joining Napoli in the summer he has become the key defender for the team eight points clear at the top of Serie A.

Napoli are always happy to turn a profit on a player and that is exactly what they could do with the South Korean in the summer, especially if Harry Maguire does leave United.

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Eric Dier on England’s penalty record

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Eric Dier has insisted that England have broken their ‘mental barrier’ in penalty shootouts ahead of their World Cup round of 16 clash with Senegal.

The Three Lions are set to face off against the AFCON champions at Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday evening, and while many expect England to see off Senegal in normal time, fears remain of the lottery of a penalty shootout if the game ends in a draw.

England’s record in penalty shootouts down the years has been well documented, with the victory over Colombia at the 2018 tournament the first time the nation has ever won a World Cup penalty shootout.

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Speaking about the Three Lions’ penalty hoodoo, Dier stated that through the shootout win over Colombia, England were able to get over their mental barrier: “There are ifs, buts and maybes aren’t there?

Harry Symeou hosts Andy Headspeath, Toby Cudworth & La Liga TV presenter Semra Hunter to look back on the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click to download or listen to the episode in full!

“I feel like that World Cup, it’s difficult for me to say because I was involved, but I felt in that game we broke down a lot of mental barriers and stereotypes that exist in English football surrounding things like knockout games and penalty shootouts and playing against that type of opposition as well.

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“I think that game I remember it felt at the time like it was a weight off our shoulders and I think you saw that in the next game against Sweden (in the quarter-final).

“No one was talking about us winning it and that game was a moment in which we all felt like we had got over a few hurdles and now we were free to just play and some of the weight of history had been removed from our backs.

“I’m definitely not scared to take a penalty. I’d be nervous in the moment but I’m not scared to do it. To be honest, my pen against Colombia when Pickford saved the penalty before, it made my penalty a lot easier.

“It was to win it, not to get knocked out, so it’s a completely different psychology. When he saved his, it was a lot easier for me. He helped me a lot.”

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How many teams will play at the 2026 World Cup?

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The World Cup is the biggest event in global football, with nations across the planet dreaming of lifting the iconic trophy.

The tournament has changed in style and format over the years, though the 2026 edition has attracted attention for some key changes which may alter the playing schedule in a way we haven’t seen for decades.

With all sorts of talk over the number of teams playing and the tournament’s format, here’s what you need to know.

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In January 2017, the FIFA Council voted unanimously to increase the number of teams participating from 32 to 48. That decision was met with criticism, especially from organisations in Europe.

The European Club Association, La Liga president Javier Tebas and then Germany manager Joachim Low were among those who argued teams where already playing too many games.

It was also seen as a political decision from FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who had run his election campaign on the promise of involving more countries in the World Cup.

Given the increase of sides from the 2026 World Cup, a change of format is expected. The initial vote in 2017 declared there would be 16 groups each consisting of three teams, with the top two reaching the knockout stage which will include 32 teams.

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The overall amount of matches will increase from 64 to 80, though the finalists will still only play seven games each under the proposals.

In late 2022, it was revealed FIFA are becoming open to keeping the current group stage process involving four teams each, with some revealing concerns over potential dead rubbers on the final matchdays of each group.

The three-game group stage proposal has attracted criticism. There have been concerns over a potential rise in collusion as seen in previous group matches.

The 1982 Disgrace of Gijon saw West Germany and Austria play out a 1-0 win for the Germans, allowing both sides to go through at the expense of Algeria, who had played earlier in the day. The game was met with outrage, though FIFA denied any wrongdoing on either side.

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The 2022 World Cup delivered plenty of entertainment during the group stage, with Group D in particular throwing up drama in the Poland vs Argentina and Saudi Arabia vs Mexico games.

Qualification for a 48-team World Cup would also change as more teams can make the final cut. Asian, African and CONCACAF sides all have greater chances to reach FIFA’s flagship event, while a spot for an Oceania side is now guaranteed.

The USA, Canada and Mexico and jointly host the 2026 World Cup. 23 cities across the three nations will host games, with the US taking 60 matches. The joint bid comfortably saw off an effort from Morocco to host the tournament.



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Virgil van Dijk comments on Liverpool being put up for sale

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Virgil van Dijk has claimed Liverpool will remain one of the biggest clubs in the world regardless of FSG’s potential sale.

The centre-back is currently on international duty with the Netherlands at the World Cup in Qatar, helping his side safely navigate a round of 16 clash with USMNT to book a place in the quarter-finals.

Speaking at the press conference after that 3-1 win over the USA, Van Dijk was asked about the news that Liverpool’s owners FSG are preparing to sell the club.

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“I have full trust in Liverpool that they will be fine. We are a very established club, one of the biggest in the world and that will stay that way. Whoever comes in to fill in those roles, they will do very well. I am aware of everything that is happening.

Harry Symeou hosts Andy Headspeath, Toby Cudworth & La Liga TV presenter Semra Hunter to look back on the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click to download or listen to the episode in full!

“Whether I am taking it in and doing something with it right now, I don’t think so because the full focus is on the World Cup but hopefully everything will be sorted and clarified when I am back. At this point, I am definitely not thinking about it.”

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The Fenway Sports Group recently announced Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were assisting with the potential sale of the Anfield club.

In terms of potential suitors, Saudi Arabia’s sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal has already expressed his desire for the nation to get involved with Liverpool.



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