Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has claimed Leeds could hold a distinct advantage going into their opening clash of the new Premier League season.
Man Utd will enter the new campaign with hopes high of launching a sustained title challenge. Local rivals Man City will undoubtedly be the favourites, and the arrival of Jack Grealish has added another layer of stardust to their side with Harry Kane also on the agenda.
The Red Devils have signed their own superstars, with Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane arriving for a combined total of around £114m.
However, amid varying issues, Solskjaer does not expect either of the pair to start versus Leeds on August 14.
The Manchester Evening News report Sancho ‘is not due back from his holiday until next week.’ Furthermore, Varane is yet to undergo his medical with visa issues and a quarantine period delaying his official unveiling.
They are not the only first-teamers who could miss their opening match, however.
After reaching the latter stages of Euro 2020 and the Copa America respectively, Solskjaer is unsure whether Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Fred will be ready to take the field from the off.
Leeds are known for their high intensity style and by comparison, have had very little disruption with players on international duty.
That could hand Marcelo Bielsa’s side a huge advantage, and speaking to the MEN, Solskjaer was acutely aware his side are facing an uphill struggle in gameweek one.
“They (Sancho and Varane) still haven’t trained with us and I need to see how they are,” Solskjaer said. “I can’t see them being available for Everton [final pre-season friendly] but hopefully they will be ready to be on the bench [against Leeds].
“We’ve not got everyone back yet and we’re still lacking a few. Every year that there’s a championship it’s difficult. Luke [Shaw], Harry [Maguire], Fred – a few – will only have the Everton game to prepare.
“It’s still not perfect because I think teams with fewer players in tournaments do have an advantage early on but we’re as ready as we can be.
“Fred played nine games over the summer and he’s had three weeks away from us and then two weeks to get ready again, so they should be ready.”
Fernandes lays out Sancho, Varane expectations
Meanwhile, Bruno Fernandes says that settling in at Manchester United is Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane’s first task at Manchester United.
Asked if his United colleagues feel excited about Sancho and Varane, the midfielder told the club’s official website: “Of course. When you see the names that are coming and what they have done in the last few seasons, we are really happy with everyone that is coming in.
“Of course to keep the lads who have been here the last few seasons is important because you have to grow up and at the same time you have to keep the same players to know we are doing better and better. With this team, we know we can do better, but adding some players to the team helps the team be better.”
“We always want to help the ones who come into the club. Anyone who comes into the club to be part of the group will get help from everyone because as we always say it’s like a family here.
“We are together for a long, long time and the season will be long and we hope it will be as long as possible so we can win some trophies and at the same time we want to help everyone to be settled in the team.
“That’s really important as I said before, we want this club and this group to be like a family and we will do everything to do that.”
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