Manchester United Newsdesk Live: Antoine Griezmann, David de Gea, Basel build-up, more

Man Utd Newsdesk Live: Griezmann, De Gea, Basel build-up, more
© SilverHub
Keep up with all of the latest Manchester United news and rumours throughout the day, as well as build-up to Wednesday night's Champions League encounter with Basel.

Join us LIVE throughout today for all of the latest Manchester United news and speculation, as well as full build-up to tomorrow night's encounter with Basel in the Champions League.

Avoid defeat in Switzerland and Jose Mourinho's side will secure qualification to the next stage of the competition for the first time since the 2013-14 season, while defeat could even see them through if Group A rivals CSKA Moscow fail to secure victory at home to pointless Benfica.

We'll bring you full coverage from Mourinho's press conference ahead of the game, as well as the latest on United's pursuit of Atletico Madrid frontman Antoine Griezmann and Real Madrid's attempts to nab David de Gea.


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7.01amGOOD MORNING!

Welcome to Sports Mole's dedicated live blog for all things United! Stick with us throughout today as we count down to tomorrow night's trip to Basel in the Champions League, a fixture that could see Jose Mourinho's side qualify for the last-16 stage for the first time in four seasons.

The Red Devils have a perfect record from their four games in Group A to date and need just a point tomorrow night to make certain of their participation in the knockout rounds. A loss will also do the trick if CSKA Moscow get anything less than three points at home to Benfica.

CL Group A on Nov 21, 2017

Mourinho speaks to the media this afternoon ahead of the game and we'll have full coverage from that press conference in Switzerland from 5pm UK time.

First things first though, let's take a look at the major United stories hitting the papers this morning...



7.09amBAYERN NOT INTERESTED IN GRIEZMANN

He appeared to be heading in only one direction at the start of last summer, but Atletico Madrid frontman Antoine Griezmann eventually decided to stay put in the Spanish capital after his side's transfer ban was upheld.

With that embargo due to be lifted in January, coupled with a severe drop-off in form for Diego Simeone's side this term, the subject of the Frenchman's exit has been put firmly back on the table in recent weeks.

United are not alone in their pursuit, however, with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain all said to be preparing bids around the £100m mark - with some reports even suggesting that he could even leave this January rather than waiting until the end of the season.

One European powerhouse that won't be getting involved in the scrap, however, is Bayern Munich.

CEO Hasan Salihamidzic tells Sky Deutschland: "We haven't even talked about Griezmann. We won't be joining in the craziness - the sums involved are not worth discussing.

"If something is sensible and suits Bayern, we will do it."



7.23amMADRID TO BID £62M FOR DE GEA?

It's the transfer story that seemingly won't disappear - and a fresh report today suggests that Real Madrid will make a renewed attempt to sign United stopper David de Gea ahead of next season.

The Spaniard famously saw a £29m move to Madrid collapse at the 11th hour back in 2015 and has remained a figure of interest for Los Blancos ever since as they look for a replacement for Keylor Navas.

David De Gea can't believe his beautiful eyes during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Manchester United on October 23, 2016© SilverHub

According to a report on radio station Cadena SER, Madrid will make a new bid next summer in the region of €70m (£62m), easily surpassing the record £34.7m that Manchester City paid to bring in Ederson in June.

De Gea is far from Madrid's only target, however, and they have also been linked with a raid on fellow La Liga side Athletic Bilbao for Kepa Arrizabalaga, while Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois has previously been of interest and could be pursued again.

As for his current situation at United, De Gea has 19 months left on his current deal and is thought to pocket around £190,000 a week at Old Trafford.



7.55amUNITED TAKE UP HERRERA OPTION?

United are said to have moved to thwart interest from Atletico Madrid in Ander Herrera by taking up a one-year option on his contract, keeping him at Old Trafford until 2019.

The news has yet to be officially announced by the club, but reports on Monday suggested that Jose Mourinho has given the go-ahead to trigger the extension despite only handing the Spaniard five Premier League starts this season.

The 28-year-old's existing contract was due to expire at the end of the season and while discussions have been ongoing over a fresh deal, United have opted to enact the one-year extension in order to prevent him talking to rivals in January.



8.11amJOSE BRANDED 'THE CHRISTMAS GRINCH'

Jose Mourinho has been accused of 'ruining Christmas' for many United employees this year after deciding to hold the Christmas Day training session at Old Trafford rather than Carrington.

The Red Devils will play at home to Burnley at Boxing Day and it had been expected that their training session the day before would be held at 5pm at Carrington, requiring around 20 backroom staff to be in attendance.

According to The Sun, Mourinho has instead decided to switch the session to the stadium proper - a move that will require an extra 50 United staff to report in for work in order to maintain security and prepare the pitch.

A maniacal Jose Mourinho tries to figure out how many matches his side have drawn at Old Trafford this season during the Premier League clash with Arsenal on May 7, 2017© SilverHub

The newspaper claims that Mourinho's decision has "caused resentment among staff" as it "has effectively wrecked the day" for many workers, who would otherwise be spending time with friends and family.

Mourinho considered a similar move last year but shelved the plans at the last moment.



8.32amZLATAN: I KNEW I WOULD STAY

After seven months on the sidelines with what could have been a career-ending injury, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was back on the field in a United shirt on Saturday afternoon for the 4-1 victory over Newcastle United.

United decided not to pick up a one-year option on his £300,000-a-week deal in the wake of his injury, prompting a summer of speculation that saw him linked with moves to Serie A and the MLS. As it became clear that the self-proclaimed "lion" was recovering much quicker than anticipated, he went on to sign a new deal with United - but speaking to reporters following his return, Zlatan insisted that he never had any doubts where he would end up.

He recalled: "Jose said, 'Do whatever you want, I trust in you and you know what you have to do,' so I was not worried. The contract is all paperwork and I do the physical work.

"Even if I had a contract or not I needed to train, that's up to the other people, I knew I would stay because I wanted to stay."

Read more from Ibrahimovic on the road to his comeback here.



9.06amUNITED TRACKING PORTO MIDFIELDER?

Manchester United reportedly had scouts in action to watch Porto's 26-year-old midfielder Danilo Pereira in action on Friday night. The Portugal international has two goals and an assist to his name so far this season and is also being tracked by Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain.

Jose Mourinho is said to be monitoring his countryman's progress ahead of a possible January move.

Read more on this story here.



9.58amBALE AMONG EIGHT PLAYERS ON ZZ CHOPPING BLOCK

Long-term United target Gareth Bale is reportedly among eight players singled out for the chop by Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane as he looks to get the club's season back on track.

The Welshman's future in the Spanish capital has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months, with his latest injury setback thought to have convinced Los Blancos to finally give in and entertain offers for the player, who joined for a then-world record £85m from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013.

Gareth Bale thinks he's scored during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Real Madrid on April 2, 2016© Getty Images

According to a report in Diario Gol today, Zidane has compiled a list of under-performers after his side's poor start to the La Liga season, which has seen them fall 10 points behind leaders Barcelona with 12 games - and Bale tops the list.

The publication claims that Bale will be sold on next summer, as will Marcos Llorente, Luka Modric and Kiko Casilla, while Lucas Vazquez and Dani Ceballos could be moved on in January.

A recent report suggested that Madrid would be willing to accept as little as £62m for Bale.



10.29amLINDELOF SET FOR NEW UNITED ROLE?

Jose Mourinho could move struggling defender Victor Lindelof into a more advanced role in the coming weeks, according to the Manchester Evening News.

The 23-year-old has struggled to adapt at United following his big-money switch from Benfica over the summer, making just seven starts and getting three outings in the Premier League.

In his most recent appearance, the 4-1 win over Newcastle United at the weekend, the Swede gifted the Magpies the first goal when he slipped and allowed Dwight Gayle to score.

With eight defenders now fit and able to play in the centre-back position, the newspaper speculates that Mourinho will try out Lindelof in midfield in an attempt to find a better role for him in the team.

In September, Mourinho was quoted as saying about Lindelof: "Victor, out of all our defenders, is probably the one with more quality when he attacks the space in midfield, so yes he is going to play midfield, he is going to play in the Premier League."



11.29amCONTRACT EXTENSION FOR ASHLEY YOUNG AGREED?

United have reportedly decided to take up the one-year option they hold on Ashley Young, keeping him at Old Trafford until 2019.

The 32-year-old had faced an uncertain future at the side, with his current £130,000-a-week deal due to expire next summer, but he has been rewarded with an extension on the same terms after impressing Jose Mourinho with his versatility this season.

The England international - linked with a move to China over the summer - has demonstrated that he can play on either wing in his 10 starts under Mourinho this summer and was de,lpoyed as a left-back in the win over Newcastle United at the weekend.

The news comes a day after United decided to take up a one-year option on Ander Herrera.



12.33pmALL SMILES IN TRAINING

Zlatan, Chris Smalling, Marouane Fellaini, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard were among the players turning out for the final training session at Carrington this morning ahead of United's flight to Switzerland this afternoon.




1.00pmPAULO DYBALA REFUSES TO RULE OUT JUVENTUS EXIT

You may remember that Paul Pogba sent the internet a bit crazy by Facetiming his friend and former Juventus teammate Paulo Dybala last week, and now the Argentine has been speaking about his future.

One of the most highly-rated young players in world football, Dybala has refused to rule out leaving the Italian giants in the future.

"I can't promise I will stay at Juventus forever," he told France Football.

"It does not depend on me but I don't even want to say that this will be my last season here. I want to win everything now, football is strange you never really know what will happen in the future."

United have regularly been linked with a mega-money offer for Dybala, although he is also reportedly wanted by Real Madrid.

Paulo Dybala in action for Juventus in the Coppa Italia final against Lazio on May 17, 2017© SilverHub



2.35pmFINAL TRAINING SESSION BEFORE BASEL

As we know, Manchester United have been training for the final time before tomorrow's match with Basel this afternoon, with the likes of Luke Shaw, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba all taking part in the session.

United will qualify for the last 16 with a victory and their position in the group is so strong that even a defeat could be enough should other results go their way - although they will of course be pushing for all three.

Here is a video of their open training session today.





3.06pmMANCHESTER UNITED SQUAD REVEALED FOR BASEL CLASH

Manchester United have named their squad to travel to Switzerland for tomorrow's Champions League clash with Basel, and there are some interesting inclusions.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan returns after being dropped against Newcastle United at the weekend, while Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind are also involved.

There could be a United Champions League debut for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, meanwhile, and Luke Shaw is also amongst the travelling party - although Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and Juan Mata do not appear to have travelled with the rest of the squad.

FULL MAN UTD SQUAD TO FACE BASEL: David de Gea, Sergio Romero, Joel Pereira, Axel Tuanzebe, Matteo Darmian, Victor Lindelof, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw, Daley Blind, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard, Henrikh Mkhitaryan ,Marcus Rashford, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial



5.24pmMOURINHO: I HOPE SMALLING DOESN'T EARN ENGLAND RECALL

Jose Mourinho has just held his pre-match press conference in Basel and had some very interesting things to say about Chris Smalling, who was dropped by the England squad for the recent international break.

"I hope he doesn't get an international recall because they always come back injured, I mean real injuries. Not injuries that keep people out of friendly games and then they start on the Saturday.

"When I say I hope he doesn't get a recall, I say it from a selfish perspective, that isn't even a real perspective. I want my players to be happy.

"I know that if England goes to the World Cup final, I will start pre-season without many of my players but I would like that to happen for a country where I live and will live for many years."



5.33pmZLATAN TO START ON BENCH

Zlatan Ibrahimovic made a long-awaited return to action in the 4-1 victory over Newcastle United at the weekend, albeit a late cameo - and Mourinho has confirmed that he will be starting on the bench again tomorrow.

"Zlatan goes on the bench tomorrow and normally he plays. He needs to play and he's useful for us. He keeps the ball," Mourinho said.

"If the team isn't winning, his presence will be important. Instead of 15, he may play 20 or 25 minutes, but he's not in condition to start."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic takes a shot during the Premier League game between Manchester United and Newcastle United on November 18, 2017© SilverHub



5.35pmSMALLING ADMITS SURPRISE AT ENGLAND SNUB

Speak of the devil, Smalling is also at the press conference and has been asked how he felt to be dropped by Gareth Southgate.

"Was I surprised? Yes I was, but you don't play for one of the biggest clubs in the world as long as I have without being able to do all the things a top defender can do," he replied.

"As a team we have one of the best defensive records this year and I am very proud to be a part of that. Whilst I'm playing regularly under Jose, than I am happy enough."



5.36pmMOURINHO: BASEL PITCH LOOKS "OKAY"

Some journalists over in Basel have been reporting that the pitch for tomorrow night's game isn't exactly in the best of shape, with The Mirror's Manchester correspondent tweeting these pictures:


As for Mourinho, he failed to complain when asked about the issue in his presser and praised the Basel groundstaff for their attempts to make it playable.

"Honestly, I don't know," he said. "I want to see after 20 minutes [of the game]. At the moment, it looks okay.

"But I respect the effort in trying to make a positive pitch after it was so bad in the playoffs for the national team. I think that the intention, the effort, of changing to give a pitch for a Champions League match is very respectful and if the manager says that he knows better than me.

"He had the match here, he saw the reaction of the pitch, he has the comments of his players, your words are more important than my players."



5.45pmMOURINHO: WE WERE UNAWARE OF JONES INJECTIONS

One player missing out on the trip to Switzerland is Phil Jones, who is currently on the sidelines after picking up a thigh injury while on international duty with England earlier this month. Mourinho has previously revealed that England medical staff administered him with six injections in order to get him through the friendly with Germany - and now the United boss has claimed that Gareth Southgate's team did not consult with the club first.

"We were not informed about the injections," he told reporters. "They communicated with our doctor to tell about a little problem in the knee at the start of the week, after that no contact.

"I don't have to speak with Southgate [about this], I just wish good and want him to be successful."

Phil Jones in action during the World Cup qualifier between England and Slovakia on September 4, 2017© Offside



6.02pmMOURINHO: MKHITARYAN OMISSION TACTICAL

Mourinho has also been quizzed on his decision to drop Henrikh Mkhitaryan and play both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford alongside Romelu Lukaku for the weekend win over Newcastle.

"I think that I am little frustrated that there is always questions about players who aren't playing or in their best form," he replied. "There are no questions about Martial or Chris Smalling, but always the questions are about people who aren't playing.

"In midfield there was a period with no Pogba, no Carrick and no Fellaini. When you have no options, you have to play the same players. In this moment, we have Pogba, Fellaini, Matic, McTominay, next week I can imagine you will ask why is this player not playing.

"Mkhitaryan didn't play against Newcastle because we had many options for that match. For weeks the question was why can't Martial/Rashford play together, when I do the question is about Mkhitaryan."



Jose Mourinho applauds during the Premier League game between Manchester United and Newcastle United on November 18, 2017
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