Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted that the deal to finally sign Jadon Sancho is close to being announced as the Red Devils beat Wayne Rooney’s Derby County 2-1 in a friendly at Pride Park.
Tahith Chong, who has joined Birmingham City on loan, scored a well-taken first-half goal to hand United the lead. And Uruguay’s Facundo Pellistri doubled their advantage early in the second period, after Solskjaer had made nine changes at the break.
Colin Kazim-Richards reduced the arrears for the home side before Jesse Lingard rattled the crossbar late on.
New signing Tom Heaton started the game in goal, while Juan Mata captained a Red Devils side that also included Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe and Mason Greenwood.
Speaking after the game, Solskjaer was reported to have said that just the paperwork needed to be signed for Sancho to complete his £73million switch to Old Trafford.
He said: “Let’s get all the paperwork done and get him over the line and then I can say what I truly feel about the player.”
Goalscorer Pellistri also spoke about his future, with rumours of a loan move back to Alaves on the cards.
But when asked about the potential of that happening, he simply told MUTV: “I would like to stay here.”
As for the game, Solskjaer added: “The first game is always difficult, it’s the first test of 45 minutes, big pitch, took a bit of time to get going, loads of young players getting their chance to play with some of the first-team ones.
“[Tom Heaton] has conducted himself so well throughout his career. I was just on the end of my career when he was coming up, so I’m so happy to have him.
“Tom wants to play as well, I think he’s been unlucky with an injury last season. I think he would have been in the England squad if not. Of course, he’s got ambitions.”
De Gea makes statement of intent
Meanwhile, David de Gea has made a bold statement to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer by returning early for pre-season in a bid to reclaim his spot as Manchester United’s number one goalkeeper.
De Gea, 30, has now completed ten seasons with the Red Devils after signing from Atletico Madrid on 2011. The Spain international has made 339 Premier League appearances and 441 in all competitions. But he was put under pressure by Dean Henderson last term.
The 24-year-old was seen between the posts on 13 occasions in the league. And he was the man that Solskjaer turned to in the top flight for the last 10 games of the campaign.
There is no question that De Gea has been an inspirational last line of defence for United for a decade. But errors have crept into his game, with calls for Henderson to be given a run in the side.
The Whitehaven-born ace has been on the senior books since 2015. However, he had not made an appearance until 2020-21, having been farmed out to Stockport County, Grimsby, Shrewsbury and Sheffield United.
Solskjaer trust in Henderson
But 26 outings in all competitions last season proves that the Norwegian tactician trusts the man with one England cap. It is unclear in which direction the north-west giants will go, with De Gea unlikely to be sold.
That is because his astronomical wages and £50m price tag are restrictive. Not many clubs would be willing to part company with that sum for a man who will turn 31 in November.
And, with that in mind, all at the club – Henderson aside – will be relieved to witness his positive attitude. He is now back at the club two weeks before he was due, according to The Daily Star.
Despite being in the squad, he played no part in Spain’s run to the Euro 2020 semi-finals.