Manchester United news: Jose Mourinho given final say on future tours after chaotic end to China visit
United were due to land back in Manchester in the early hours of Tuesday morning following the cancellation of Monday’s derby clash against Manchester City in Beijing as a result of adverse weather leaving the pitch at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in an unplayable condition.
Senior figures from both clubs and match organisers, Relevent Sports, decided to call the game off less than six hours before kick-off amid concerns of players suffering serious injury on the uneven pitch.
But while United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and City chief executive Ferran Soriano both insisted that the clubs would return to Beijing in the future, it is understood that United will not sign off any overseas tour or friendly without first securing Mourinho’s agreement.
United had travelled to China for the first time in four years to play games against City and Borussia Dortmund, with the Far East trip bring welcomed by their major sponsors, Chevrolet and Aon.
Issues with the climate, travelling problems and the cancellation of the game in Beijing have done little to promote China as a future destination for summer tours, though.
However, no plans have yet been drawn up for next year’s pre-season tour and Mourinho will be included at every level of discussions before a destination is signed off.
Manchester United summer transfer targets
Paul Pogba, Juventus
Despite letting him go on Sir Alex Ferguson’s watch in 2012, United are desperate to land Juventus star Paul Pogba. It may yet take a world record fee of £100m to lure the 23-year-old away from Turin, however, but Jose Mourinho has made his intentions to sign world-class players known this summer. The Portuguese will hope Pogba can replicate the sort of form which has helped him scored 23 goals in 124 appearances in Serie A.
Blaise Matuidi, Paris Saint-Germain
There have been conflicting reports over United’s interest in Matuidi. Initially, it was thought he was a back-up option should United fail in their attempt to sign Pogba, though some have since suggested that Mourinho is keen on bringing both players to the club.
Hirving Lozano, Pachuca
Young Pachuca forward Hirving Lozano might not sell a mass of shirts immediately, if indeed he does sign, the 20-year-old is considered one of the most exciting talents in world football. Nicknamed ‘Chunky’, Lozano is capped seven times for Mexico despite his tender age, having scored 21 goals in 91 senior appearances for Pachuca.
Alvaro Morata, Real Madrid
Having signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic in June, United remain on the lookout for cover in attacking positions with a move for Alvaro Morata seeming likely. The Spaniard was in fine form for his country at Euro 2016 this summer before it was announced that Real Madrid had utilised a buy-back clause in his Juventus contract. That isn’t the end of matters, though, with the Spanish giants planning to sell Morata on immediately for profit.
James Rodriguez, Real Madrid
After seeing little game time under Zinedine Zidane at Madrid, another name to be thrown into the Old Traffor mix is that of James Rodriguez. The Columbian superstar was even relegated to the La Liga B side on occasions as he fell quite spectacularly down the pecking order in the Spanish capital. While Paris Saint-Germain remains his most likely destination, with reports suggesting a fee has been agreed, don’t rule out a late counter offer from United.
N’Golo Kante, Leicester City
It seems everyone has been linked with Leicester City’s midfield maestro N’Golo Kante this summer. The Frenchman made a name for himself during the Foxes’ remarkable march to the Premier League title in 2016 following a low-key £5.6m transfer from Caen the previous summer. Kante is both combative and industrious, refusing to let up until possession is won back. While the champions may be keen to keep their little midfield star, the presence of a release clause in his contract at the King Power Stadium means a move away remains entirely possible.
Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal
In a surprise rumour, Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey was linked with a switch to the North West. The 25-year-old has been in scintillating form for Wales at Euro 2016 this summer but it remains to be seen if the Gunners would be willing to entertain an approach from one of their main titles for the Premier League throne. Ramsey is reportedly frustrated at the levels of competition in the centre at the Emirates but it is unlikely United would be able to offer a firmer guarantee of first-team football.
Will Hughes, Derby County
Many thought Hughes may have missed his chance to make a big-money move away from the iPro Stadium when he rejected the chance to sign for Liverpool last summer. The young Englishman remains one of the most promising players outside the top flight despite being unable to inspire Derby to promotion from the Championship. The East Midlands outfit are likely to demand an inflated transfer fee for their midfield wizard too but United have shown in the past that money is usually no object.
After embarking on a gruelling three-week tour of Australia and the Far East under David Moyes in 2013, United signed a contract with Relevent Sports to tour the United States for the following two summers as part of their International Champions Cup tournament.
No deal has yet been agreed for the summer of 2017, however, and offers to visit North America, Asia and South Africa will be considered before Mourinho decides on the best option for his squad.
The former Chelsea manager has expressed a preference in the past for trips to the States due to the quality of training facilities in the country – United have previously used the training grounds of NFL clubs such as the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles.
But when United toured the US under Louis van Gaal in 2014, the Dutchman complained about the draining effects of the heat and traffic in Los Angeles and altitude in Denver before tailoring the 2015 tour to suit his requirements.
United visited South Africa three times under Sir Alex Ferguson, with the Scot believing his squad benefited from the climate and lack of time zone issues when playing in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.
But although the most lucrative and commercially-beneficial destinations have proven to be the States and Asia, United have not ruled out a return to South Africa should Mourinho regard the country as the provided the best conditions for his squad to prepare for a Premier League season.