United confirm first January signing

Manchester United have officially confirmed the signing of former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes, who has signed an 18-month deal with the club with the option to extend it for a further year. The 32-year-old had been training at Carrington since October in a bid to recover from a serious knee injury that had seen his proposed move to Monaco collapse last summer and has impressed Louis Van Gaal enough to convince the United manager to offer him a contract.

“It is a real honour to sign for Manchester United. I would like to thank Louis van Gaal and the club for allowing me to do my rehabilitation and to train with the team at the Aon Training Complex,” Valdes said when the signing was made official. “From my short time here I can already see this is a very special club. I worked with Louis van Gaal during my time at FC Barcelona and to have the opportunity to work with him here at Manchester United is a dream come true.” 10931607_10152705428612746_1916307796303094935_o Valdes, who has won 21 trophies during his career at Barcelona, will be David De Gea’s understudy, with Ben Amos and Anders Lindegaard set to leave the club. “I am delighted Victor has signed for the club. Victor is a very experienced goalkeeper and his record speaks for itself. I have said on many occasions that Manchester United will always be interested in the best players,” said Louis Van Gaal. “Victor has remained very professional throughout his rehabilitation from injury and has been very impressive during his training sessions with the first team over the past weeks. He joins the club as the number two goalkeeper and is a great addition to the first team.”

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United in De Gea talks

1203791-25145109-2560-1440Manchester United will “accelerate” talks with David De Gea to extend the Spanish goalkeeper’s contract in a bid to fend off Real Madrid’s interest. The 24-year-old has only 18 months left on his contract and has not ruled out the chance of returning to Spain, even though he also admitted feeling at home and settled in Manchester, and United are determined to tie De Gea to a long term deal, thus avoiding any offers from Real Madrid. < p align="right"> On Wednesday, United confirmed the signing of Victor Valdes, with the former Barcelona goalkeeper agreeing an 18-month deal at Old Trafford as he looks set to become De Gea’s understudy, while Anders Lindegaard and Ben Amos have been told they’re free to leave the club as early as this month. Speculation that De Gea might leave United in the near future increased on Wednesday night, when reports emerged that Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul had been linked with a move to Old Trafford. Losing the Spaniard would be a massive blow for United, given De Gea has emerged as one of the best goalkeepers in the world and has arguably been the best in his role in the Premier League this season, bailing United out in more than one occasion. However, United have had an excellent relationship with Jorge Mendes, De Gea’s agent, and remain confident the former Atletico Madrid man will put pen to paper.

United confirm Valdes signing

1400x931384-e1414160419961Manchester United have offered Victor Valdes a two-year deal, with the 32-year old set to become David De Gea’s number two at Old Trafford this month. The former Barcelona keeper has been training with United for the last two months to recover from a serious knee injury that caused his proposed move to Monaco to collapse earlier this season and he’s now set to join United as free agent. < p align="right"> The news comes as the Daily Mail reported on Tuesday that Ben Amos and Anders Lindegaard have been told that they can leave the club as early as this month. The former has been at United since he was 11-year-old but has only made seven senior appearances since making his debut against Middlesbrough in the League Cup in 2008, the last one coming almost three seasons ago, while the latter has been linked with Molde and a possible swap dealing involving Norway goalkeeper Orjan Nyland and has not played this season.  

Three areas United must strengthen in

Southampton-v-Manchester-United-Premier-League (4)Louis Van Gaal’s first six months at Old Trafford have been difficult to judge. It feels as if United are still to fully reap the benefits of the summer spending spree, as injuries have hampered all the new arrivals, forcing Van Gaal to constantly reshuffle his team, though after a difficult start United are unbeaten in 10 games in all competition and sit third in the table. However, while the unbeaten run has included seven wins and United are on track to achieve their target of returning to Europe next season, their performances have been unconvincing and have betrayed a vulnerability that must surely be addressed if a title challenge is to be mounted next season. < p align="right"> Van Gaal has been tight-lipped over United’s transfer business in January but the feeling is that he’s unlikely to bring in new faces this month, which means United could be set for another overhaul in the summer, albeit not one as drastic as the one in 2014. Here’s three areas United must strengthen in.

1) Centre-back

Orange is the new black, 30 is the new 20 and centre-back is the new central midfielder. At least as far as United are concerned, that is. United’s defensive deficiencies this season have been all too well documented and ruthlessly exposed and while only City, Chelsea and Southampton have conceded less this season, that is due to David De Gea’s outstanding form, rather than to defensive solidity. Jonny Evans has regressed enormously and must now be classified as a liability, while Chris Smalling remains too prone to making mistakes and struggles against physically stronger centre-forwards. Phil Jones has looked the more assured of the senior centre-backs – a telling fact in itself – but has managed only nine appearances, one less than Marcos Rojo, who succumbed to injury just when he was starting to look more at ease in his role. Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair have got potential but remain too inexperienced at the moment and while Michael Carrick has done an outstanding job when asked to fill in at centre-back, that deprives United of having him where he’s at his most influential. Ron-Vlaar-523646 United have been repeatedly linked with Mats Hummels, with the Borussia Dortmund centre-back looking more likely to leave the Westfalenstadion than he did in the summer, largely because of his side’s horrendous form this season.
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Rooney scoops award

Manchester-United-v-NewcastleWayne Rooney has been voted Manchester United’s Player of the Month for December, as United ended 2014 in third place on the table on the back of an eight-game unbeaten league run. With 46% of the votes Rooney finished just ahead of Michael Carrick and Ashley Young, both influential figures during United’s streak which included six consecutive wins across the last two months of 2014. < p align="right"> Having missed the first game of the month against Stoke, Rooney returned to the starting XI for United’s trip to Southampton, which saw the Reds clinch their second consecutive away win. On a difficult night for United, Rooney assisted Robin Van Persie’s winner, before turning finisher against Liverpool and Newcastle, as he picked up three goals in two games as well as assisting Van Persie’s third against the Magpies. Despite being deployed in a deeper role than usual, Rooney was at his influential best in December and even attracted comparison with Paul Scholes for the way he timed his runs in the box. Dan

Moyes: “Januzaj reminds me of Cruyff”

70921.3David Moyes has compared Adnan Januzaj to Johan Cruyff, claiming the Belgian is a special player, who’s mature despite his young age and desperate to succeed. Januzaj has had limited opportunities under Louis Van Gaal this season but was arguably the only positive of Moyes’ spell in charge at United, as the Belgian established himself as one of the best young players in the Premier League and earned himself a spot in Belgium squad for the World Cup. < p align="right"> “Some youngsters get overawed. Not Adnan. I realised that when he came to train with the first team soon after I joined. I decided to take him on tour with the first team within minutes of watching him,” Moyes told Four Four Two. “He wasn’t timid but hungry to succeed. He was one of the tour’s bright spots. He possesses a level of self-assured arrogance, which is a positive as he’s not too arrogant. “On the contrary, he’s a bright lad who is mature for his age. He’s a wonderfully gifted player with great balance and the ability to go past people. When I see his poise on the ball, he has characteristics of Johan Cruyff.” Dan

United to sell striker in the summer

chicharito-javier-hernandez-real-madrid_3198642Javier Hernandez will leave Manchester United this summer, regardless of what happens to Radamel Falcao, with Louis Van Gaal adamant that the Mexican is now surplus to requirements at Old Trafford. According to a report in the Telegraph, Chicharito will be allowed to leave at the end of the season even if United choose not to make Falcao’s move to Old Trafford permanent, with the on-loan Colombian striker set to cost the club in the excess of £40m. < p align="right"> Having played the first game of the season against Swansea, Hernandez was allowed to join Real Madrid on loan but has struggled to make an impact in Spain, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale all ahead of him in the pecking order and has scored just four times in 14 appearances in all competition. With the 26-year-old entering the final year of his contract next season, United’s decision to cash in rather than losing him for free is perfectly understandable, though it remains to be seen whether they’ll manage to attract any suitors for the Mexican, who scored 20 goals in 45 matches in all competitions in 2010-11, his debut season in the Premier League. With 18 goals in 36 appearances, Hernandez was instrumental in United’s cavalcade to their 20th league title in 2012-13, but the Mexican had very limited opportunities under David Moyes last season and is clearly not in Van Gaal’s plans.