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Mourinho writes off United’s top four chances

The manager states the obvious. United linked with James. Good news from Zlatan’s recovery. More games for Tuanzebe.

Arsenal v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

José Mourinho has finally written off Manchester United’s chances of finishing in the top four of the Premier League. It has been on the cards for some time now, as injuries have piled up, and as the Europa League has understandably taken precedence. It’s the sensible thing to do, especially since - let’s say it again for those in the back - finishing in the top four is not a trophy. Of course, better squad rotation and more positive in-game management would have left the team in a stronger league position and precluded the need to choose either the league or the cup, but that ship has long sailed.

Granada CF v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Guillem Balague reckons that United are favorites to land Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez. James has been on the fringes at Madrid for the last two seasons, but is now rounding back into the form that excited the Bernabéu when he first signed. Balague is almost invariably incorrect about these things, so expect this one to go nowhere.

Soon-to-be former United striker Zlatan Ibrahimović has apparently amazed doctors with his impressive physical condition. The Swede underwent knee surgery in the United States recently, and despite fears that the first major injury of his career could effectively end his time as a top level player, the early reports have been encouraging. According to his agent - an unbiased source with no reason at all to exaggerate the player’s fitness, and by extension his worthiness of a lucrative contract, let’s say - Ibra is a downright marvel:

“His knee is so strong that the doctors said they had never seen anything like it. He has a knee that it is almost impossible for a football player with a 20-year career to have. It was quite clean, there was no harm in it.

Zlatan is so strong that the doctor wants him back after his career to research on him.”

By the sounds of that, he might even make the bench on Thursday.

Arsenal v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

It looks like Axel Tuanzebe is going to be involved in the remaining Premier League matches this season. The young defender has been left out of England’s U-20 World Cup squad, and the FA have cited “first team commitments” as reason for his absence. After an assured full debut at right-back on Sunday, Tuanzebe may well get the chance to put himself ahead of the likes of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling in the manager’s thinking for next season.