Month: March 2018

Ibrahimovic set to leave United after officials terminate contract

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has left Manchester United after the club agreed to terminate his contract, with the striker US-bound to join LA Galaxy.

Ibrahimovic, 36, signed for United in the summer of 2016 and had a successful first season at Old Trafford until he suffered a serious knee injury in April.

He has featured in only seven games in this campaign.

“Manchester United confirms that it has agreed to the termination of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s contract with immediate effect,” the Manchester club said in a statement. “Everyone at the club would like to thank Zlatan for his contribution to the team since his arrival and wishes him well for the future.”

Red Devils coach Jose Mourinho has also said in January that while he had not spoken to Ibrahimovic regarding a possible move to the MLS he would not stand in the Swede’s way should he wish to move before the end of the season.

“If he wants to move to another club or another country, we will try to help him,” Mourinho said at the time. “We will not make his life difficult.”

In parting, Ibrahimovic posted a picture on his Instagram page of him dressed in white and arm wrestling with a red devil, in an apparent nod to United’s nickname.

“Great things also come to an end and it is time to move on after two fantastic seasons with Manchester United,” the player captioned. “Thank you to the club, the fans, the team, the coach, the staff and everybody who shared with me this part of my history. foreverred”.

Ibrahimovic scored 28 goals in 2016-17 as the team went on to win the Europa League. Despite his injury, an expired contract and United’s recruitment of Romelu Lukaku for £75m in the summer, he still returned to the club after agreeing a deal until the end of this season.

Ashley Young: Luke Shaw can be “one of the world’s best”

Ashley Young has tipped his Manchester United teammate Luke Shaw become one of the best left-backs in the world.

However, Young, 32, added that such a status will come only through hard work amidst Shaw’s terrible spell under United boss Jose Mourinho.

“He is a fantastic player,” Young said. “I feel he can be one of the best in the world. You’ve just got to work hard. We’ve got a healthy competition in our squad and when you’ve got world-class players training day in, day out, everybody wants to be in that team. It is tough.

“I’ve always said, when you join a club like United it’s a tough place to play at. But if you play and train and give 100%, then get your opportunity — I’ve always said you always get your opportunity there.”

Young has also been Mourinho’s first-choice left-back for much of the season and was named in the England squad for their friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy, whereas Shaw wasn’t due to his lack of regular game-time under Mourinho.

It was a clear sign that he was not favoured that Shaw, 22, was taken off at half-time of United’s 2-0 FA Cup win over Brighton at Old Trafford on Saturday, with the manager also criticising Shaw after the quarter-final.

“We worked on certain kinds of movements,” the Portuguese said at after the game. “Where it was really important the two full-backs were aggressive, created space for Matic and were in front of the two central defenders. I didn’t have that.”

“I could have changed both of them at half-time. I didn’t change both because it was too aggressive to do it. I would only have one more change available to make in 90 minutes.”

“I had to change one and I chose Luke because at least Antonio defensively was capable of good positioning. Luke, in the first half, every time they came in his corridor, the cross came in and a dangerous situation was coming. I was not happy with his performance.”

Serie A: Napoli closes gap on top as SPAL holds Juventus

Napoli closed the gap on top of Serie A to two points after a labored 1-0 win against Genoa and Juventus’ goalless draw against a struggling SPAL team.

Raul Albiol scored on his 200th appearance for Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo, although his team were made to work for a goal throughout the game.

Genoa, who started game off the back of two straight defeats, they started strong with Darko Lazovic stretching the home defence in the early stages before Dries Mertens sent Napoli’s first chance just wide.

However, the home side begin to feel frustration as their efforts up front went unrewarded — with Mertens hitting the woodwork, Allan missing a golden chance and Lorenzo Insigne also finding the bar with his header from a corner.

Albiol’s goal then came at a timely moment, with the defender rising above the Genoa defence to head home a Jose Callejon corner at the near post.

Napoli’s win meant that they were just two points behind Juventus, who were frustrated through their goalless stalemate against Napoli.

Despite their many attempts at goal, the Bianconeri simply could not break down their resolute opponents who are fighting for their Serie A survival, the point taking them out of the bottom three.

Still, Albiol insisted that Napoli should be focusing instead on themselves rather than pursuing Juve.

“After the international break we’ll have another crucial fixture with Sassuolo,” he said after the game. “They’re fighting for survival and will need those points. We need to keep doing what we’re doing — imposing our game on the opposition and keeping this mindset.

“To keep up with Juve we need to give everything and always try to win. Game by game we’ll try to stay at the top.”