Manchester United are interested in Marquinhos

The player’s agent has confirmed Louis van Gaal wants to sign the 20-year-old defender, who he says will “become the best in the world”

Paris Saint-Germain centre-back Marquinhos is the subject of transfer interest from Manchester United, the player’s agent Giuliano Bertolucci has confirmed.

The 20-year-old defender has struggled for playing time behind Thiago Silva and David Luiz at the Parc des Princes this season and has even been used as a right-back at times by head coach Laurent Blanc.

His current situation has resulted in speculation he could leave the club and move to Old Trafford, with the Premier League side in need of defensive reinforcements, an eventuality his representative has refused to rule out.

“A number of clubs are asking about him; Manchester United are amongst them,” Bertolucci confirmed to Le Parisien.

“He respects the decisions of his coach but he simply wants to play more and spend less time with the substitutes.

“He’s ready to play right-back or defensive midfield if he must. He’s already done it with Roma and even Brazil.

“He will become the best defender in the world. He’s just as good as Thiago Silva and David Luiz.”

Marquinhos has made over 50 first-team appearances for PSG since making a move worth an estimated €31.4 million from Roma in the summer of 2013.

PSG are not ready to allow the youngster to depart, with their asking price reportedly set at a world-record €150m.

Pulis: West Brom interested in Man Utd’s Fletcher

The Scot has struggled for minutes under Louis van Gaal and has spoken to a number of clubs regarding a move in the January transfer window

Tony Pulis has confirmed he is looking at the prospect of bringing Darren Fletcher to West Brom from Manchester United.

The Scotland international has seen appearances limited at Old Trafford this season, with just four Premier League starts under Louis van Gaal in 2014-15.

Pulis revealed in a press conference on Thursday that West Brom had registered their interest in the player, but that the club were waiting for Fletcher to weigh up his options.

“He is talking to three or four clubs. We showed an interest and he’ll make a decision and we’ll wait and see,” Pulis said.

The head coach, who took over from Alan Irvine on New Year’s Day, said that West Brom were in talks with Wigan Athletic about a possible deal for Callum McManaman, before bemoaning the lack of time available to him in the January window.

  • bemoan – to complain or express sadness about something

He added: “It’s the most difficult window I’ve had because I’ve not had time to get things in place.”

Micah Richards: I was too young for England call-up

The Manchester City man believes that he lacked the technique to excel at international level at 18, though says that he is now “10 times better” after moving on loan to Fiorentina

  • excel – to do something very well or be highly skilled, and be better than most others

Micah Richards admits that he was “too young” to make his international debut at 18 years old, though the defender believes that he can resurrect his England career and be “10 times better” if given a second chance.

Richards, now 26, was the youngest ever defender to be called up for Three Lions duty when he broke through in 2006 but is currently on loan at Serie A side Fiorentina after failing to command a first-team role at Premier League champions Manchester City.

The defender thinks that too much pressure is placed on young England players at international level, though Richards – who last played for England in 2012 – feels that he can now offer Roy Hodgson a more composed presence in the back line.

“Sometimes, when English players do well at a young age, they get thrown in and get spat back out three of four years later,” he told BBC Sport’s ‘Football Focus’.

  • spat – an argument about something not important

“I was brought through too young. If you put me in an England shirt now, I’d be 10 times better than I was.

“I had a couple of good seasons with City but, positionally, I wasn’t good enough. Technically, I was not international standard. I was using my pace and power to get me out of trouble.”

Richards has also questioned the selection process for England, suggesting that certain players fall out of favor as managers place their hopes on young stars.

“Some players get to a stage when they haven’t played for a couple of years and then they don’t pick them again,” he said. “They are always looking for the next new thing, which sometimes I don’t always see as right.

“Players should be picked on performance. Sometimes England think: ‘Let’s bring in the young new player and hype them up‘.”

The right-back – who can also fill in at centre-back – would “love to play for England again,” though says that it is up to Hodgson to come to Italy and watch how he performs for the Viola.

 “If he decides to come out here, then good luck to him,” Richards added. “If he doesn’t, then I will do what I have to do.”

Van Gaal: Shaw and Van Persie fit to face Cambridge United

The pair both picked up knocks during the Southampton loss, though the coach would not be drawn on reports Victor Valdes could start this weekend

Louis van Gaal has revealed Robin van Persie and Luke Shaw are fit for Manchester United’s FA Cup clash against Cambridge United.

Both players missed the victory over QPR on Saturday having picked up knocks against Southampton the previous week, but could return to the starting XI at the Abbey Stadium.

Van Gaal does not have a fully-fit squad, however, with Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling joining Ashley Young in the treatment room ahead of Friday’s trip to the League Two outfit.

“We have to wait until training but Ashley Young, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans are out for sure,” he told MUTV.

“Robin van Persie is available, Luke Shaw is also available.”

Victor Valdes has been tipped to make his debut for the Red Devils against Richard Money’s side after completing his move to the Old Trafford outfit earlier this month.

The former Barcelona goalkeeper has been on the bench for both league matches since his arrival, and Van Gaal refused to give away whether he would replace David de Gea for the fourth round tie.

  • tie – the fact of finishing at the same time or scoring the same number of points as someone or something else in a competition:

“I find it unbelievable how the media can write that Valdes will start. I don’t want to say anything about my line-up until three quarters of an hour before the game.”

United will kick-off the match sitting 76 places above their hosts in the Football League pyramid and are heavy favorites to progress to the last-16 of the competition.

But former Netherlands coach Van Gaal is not taking Cambridge lightly given their recent run of three successive victories.

“I have seen the capacity of the stadium – nearly 10,000 fans can watch the game. The crowd is good and I hope we can beat them.

“They are in good shape, though, as they have won their last three matches. They have also bought new players, so we have to be alert to play against such teams.”

Blind: Gary Neville is wrong, I make Manchester United better

The former Red Devils right-back has previously accused the Dutchman of “taking the easy option” too often but the summer signing argues that his patience is a virtue

  • virtue – a good moral quality in a person, or the general quality of goodness in a person

Manchester United midfielder Daley Blind has hit back at criticism from former Old Trafford right-back Gary Neville.

The ex-England international, now a television pundit and coach of the national side, suggested earlier in the season that the summer signing “plays far too many square passes and takes the easy option”.

  • pundit – a person who knows a lot about a particular subject, or someone who gives opinions in a way that sounds intelligent or wise

But Blind believes that his patient approach has helped his side play better, warning against forward passes for their own sake.

“I can take a bit of criticism. The people on TV can say what they want. You hear it but I think I have played some good games,” the Dutchman told reporters.

“Of course you can play the ball forward but sometimes it is good to keep the ball in possession and make your team-mates play better. I can make other players more important than myself. If I can do that by switching the play to the other side or wait for the right moment to do that, then I will.

“If there is space forward, then I will play that ball but sometimes I think it is better to keep possession, to switch from side to side and move the ball and search for players who can make an individual action.

“I am not a player who does that. I like the possession game. I like to keep the ball and wait for the openings.

“Of course, I listen to [Neville] but I try to play my own game and do what the trainer [Louis van Gaal] wants from me. He wants me to keep possession. It is important to keep the ball and make the opponent more tired.

“You don’t have to win matches in the first half. You can wait until the second half. It is all about waiting for the right moment. Sometimes the space is there but other times you just have to keep the ball and wait for an opening.”