Man Utd v Tottenham: Match in pictures
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Manchester United interim boss Ralf Rangnick has been told he already has a player at his disposal who could potentially be the ideal replacement for Paul Pogba. Pogba is out of contract this summer and has refused to put pen-to-paper on a new deal.
United shelled out a then world-record £89million to sign Pogba for a second time in 2016 – four years after the ace had departed Old Trafford for free. The midfielder returned to Manchester from Juventus and was billed as a player who could almost single-handedly help United return to their glory years.
But the 29-year-old has been rocked by a string of injuries and has suffered with inconsistent form during his second spell in the north west. And he has been tipped to walk away from the club once and for all at the end of the season.
United will unequivocally be disappointed to lose such a valuable asset without receiving a transfer fee in return. And club chiefs may worry they could be compelled to spend prodigious sums of cash to find another player who can fill Pogba’s boots.
But their problems could be solved by their 21-year-old academy graduate James Garner. Garner has played seven times for the United first team, with four of those appearances coming in the 2019/20 Europa League as his team reached the semi-finals before being dispatched by Sevilla.
The midfielder spent the first half of last season on loan with Championship side Watford, before enjoying a temporary stint with Nottingham Forest during the second part of the campaign. He returned to the City Ground last summer to begin a season-long loan and has become a key player in the Forest midfield.
Garner has already racked-up 71 appearances in England’s second tier over the last two years and has excelled against players who possess years of experience at that level. And his Forest team-mate Jack Colback believes Garner will make his mark in the Premier League in the future.
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“For me he’s got all the attributes needed,” Colback said. “He’s very good on the ball – technically his passing range is excellent. But he’s also got the other side of that, which is defensively – I think he doesn’t get the credit – but he’s really good defensively. He covers a lot, gets a lot of tackles in and you need that.
“Like any player you’ve got to keep your head down, keep working, never think that you’ve done enough – but Jimmy will have as good a chance as anyone.”
United’s technical director Darren Fletcher has already said that Garner will be part of the Premier League giants’ pre-season plans. So if the youngster can impress alongside his superstar team-mates on the training pitch, he may well find himself being handed an opportunity to fill any void left by Pogba.
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