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Edwin van der Sar opens up on potentially replacing Ed Woodward at Man Utd

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Edwin van der Sar has revealed he could be interested in replacing Ed Woodward at Manchester United when the current executive vice-chairman steps down from his role by the end of the year.

Woodward’s departure came about in the wake of the European Super League scandal, meaning that United will be looking for someone new to run the club in the coming months.

Van der Sar has been chief executive at Ajax since 2016, having initially re-joined his former club as marketing director in late 2012 just over a year after he had retired from playing with United.

The former goalkeeper has been hailed as one of the top executives currently working in European football in recent years and was regularly linked with a return to Old Trafford when United were searching for a director of football or technical director, before settling on internal promotions.

But now that the top job is opening up, Van der Sar’s name has been put in the frame again. What’s more, he appears happy to entertain it, citing Ajax and United as the only two clubs he would feel comfortable working for because of his special connection to each.

“It’s nothing new for me, my name circulates there for a long time,” Van der Sar told ESPN of the rumours linking him with United.

“[With] the work and pressure, you should have a feeling with the club…I won’t work at a club where I don’t have a feeling. I could only do this for Ajax or United. I would not work for any other clubs.”

However, there has so far been no contact from Old Trafford.

“I am really happy with how we have [developed] Ajax in the last couple of years,” he added. “We had ambitions 10 years ago to reach the top of Europe. We have reached that. We had to work really hard, we don’t have a rich owner and the government didn’t help us.”

Van der Sar would certainly be a popular appointment for United fans. He was a major part of the club’s success in the late 2000s, winning four Premier League titles in six years, as well as the Champions League in 2008 and playing in two further finals.

The Dutchman would also be a big hit with supporters as a ‘football man’.

Conversely, Woodward is a trained accountant and former investment banker who had no football background prior to joining United in 2005. And while he enjoyed considerable success in his previous role as the club’s commercial director and clearly has tremendous business and financial acumen, he has largely been blamed for the on-field decline after 2013.

It is only an ongoing restructuring since 2019 that has brought United back towards their former path. The most recent update to that was the promotion of John Murtough and Darren Fletcher to the roles of football director and technical director respectively, strengthening football operations.

Whether co-chairmen Joel and Avram Glazer want another out and out business head to replace Woodward, or would consider a figure like Van der Sar, will ultimately shape the search.

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Former Manchester United captain Antonio Valencia announces retirement

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Former Manchester United captain Antonio Valencia has announced his retirement at the age of 35.

 

Valencia spent 10 years at Old Trafford before returning to his home country with LDU Quito, where he played for one season prior to joining Mexican side Queretaro in November.

 

The ex-Ecuador international also represented El Nacional, Villarreal, Recreativo and Wigan Athletic during an 18-year career that will be best remembered for his time with United.

 

He amassed 277 starts for the Red Devils in all competitions and a further 61 outings as substitute, scoring 25 goals.

 

Valencia, who won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, two EFL Cups, three Community Shields and the Europa League, took to Twitter on Wednesday to thank United

At the age of 14, as a child, I left my village and my first team to travel to the capital of my country. I travelled with a lot of nostalgia bug full of hope,” he said.

 

“A few years later I was able to travel to Europe, something I had never dreamed of. I played in Spain, and then came to my second home: England.

 

“Wigan was a unique experience, and then God gave me the opportunity to join Manchester United. I will never forget everything I experienced at Old Trafford.

 

“I will never forget every goal, every trophy and the wonderful fans.

 

“I did not think this moment would come so soon, but my body has asked me to make this decision. I am announcing my retirement from football.

 

“I want to thank everyone who has been part of my career and life. God in the first place, for always blessing me. Zoila and my daughter Domenik who have been my pillars.

 

“My parents for giving me so much. To fans of all the countries where I have played, I always tried to give my best. Thank you for your affection and support.”

 

Valencia was voted United’s Player of the Year in 2011-12 and won the Players’ Player of the Year in that same campaign and again five seasons later.

 

The 2011-12 season was a particularly memorable one for the versatile right-sided player as he assisted 13 goals in 27 Premier League appearances.

 

Only Nani (14 in 33 appearances) and David Beckham (15 in 31) have assisted more Premier League goals in a single season for the club.

 

Valencia also holds the record for the most appearances of any South American player in the competition with 325, followed by Pablo Zabaleta (303) and Nolberto Solano (302).

 

The El Nacional academy product scored 23 Premier League goals for United and was not on the losing side in any of those matches, the Red Devils winning 95.7 per cent of them.

 

Only two players to have scored in at least 20 matches have a better such win percentage – Chelsea pair Pedro (96.3 per cent) and Florent Malouda (96.7 per cent).

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sends strong message to Man United board about summer signings

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned Manchester United’s board that the Red Devils will need to significantly strengthen their squad this summer if they are to challenge for the title next season.

Solskjaer’s side suffered a 2-1 home defeat by Leicester City in the Premier League on Tuesday night, a result which handed Manchester City the Premier League title with three games to spare.

 

Manchester United have shown signs of improvement under Solskjaer this season and they are currently second in the table and 10 points behind their bitter local rivals.

 

However, Solskjaer feels that the Red Devils will have to invest heavily in their squad this summer if they want to be able to challenge Manchester City for the title next term.

 

Speaking to BT Sport after Manchester United’s defeat by Leicester on Tuesday night, Solskjaer said: “If you want to take up the challenge with them we need to strengthen our squad.

Congratulations to them. They have had a fantastic season.

 

“I am very pleased with my boys that have made it to the last 10 days with a Manchester City side ahead of us that are lauded as the best in Europe.

 

“We want to take the next step and it might be that we need a couple more to strengthen the squad.”

 

Manchester United can still end this season with a trophy when they take on Villarreal in the Europa League final at the end of the month.

 

The Red Devils are back in Premier League action on Thursday night when they host Liverpool FC at Old Trafford in their rearranged fixture.

 

 

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Current West Ham player highly likely to return to Man Utd

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Jesse Lingard is allegedly set to return to Manchester United next term, as West Ham United can’t afford to sign the midfielder outright.

The 28-year-old star has managed to get his career back on track since signing for the Hammers on loan in January and has even caught the eye of England head coach Gareth Southgate, who has reintegrated the player into his first team squad ahead of this summer’s UEFA Euro 2020 tournament.

David Moyes is keen for Jesse to stay beyond this term, but according to the Daily Mail, the Irons cannot afford his £100,000 per week wages, as they have suffered financial losses over the past year caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hammers recorded losses of £65 million last season and a greater financial hit is set to follow for this season.

The West Ham United hierarchy are unwilling to negotiate new big-money contracts with current stars or new signings at present until they receive more clarification from the Government of the United Kingdom about the return of fans to stadiums.

Lingard has made 13 top-flight appearances during his loan spell with the London Stadium outfit, scoring nine goals and providing four assists.

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