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Manchester United don't want to sell Matteo Darmian - agent

Manchester United don't want to sell Matteo Darmian - agent


Stoke City have rejected an offer from West Ham United for midfielder Joe Allen, sources close to the Hammers have told ESPN FC.

David Moyes is looking to bring in midfield reinforcements but Stoke rejected West Ham's offer for the former Liverpool man and insisted the player is not for sale at any price.

Stoke refused to listen to any offers for Allen as they did not want to potentially strengthen one of their relegation rivals and weaken their own side.

It means West Ham will now have to look elsewhere for additions as Moyes wants to add options to his midfield before the close of the transfer window.

Allen has been one of Stoke's top performers this season despite their poor form in the Premier League and Moyes was keen to bring him to the London Stadium.

Stoke are determined to keep hold of the Wales international as they look to arrest their slide in form and make sure they are not involved in a relegation battle in the second half of the campaign.

The 27-year-old has established has scored seven goals in 60 appearances since arriving from Liverpool in 2016.

Peter O'Rourke is ESPN FC's transfer news correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @SportsPeteO.

Anthony Martial opened the scoring for Manchester United on New Year's Day in their 2-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park. The Frenchman's strike was top quality, with him perfectly curling the ball in to the top corner of Jordan Pickford's net.

He immediately turned and ran towards the noisy away end, grabbing the United badge on his shirt and kissing it, almost jumping in to the crowd.

Martial has started just 11 Premier League games this season, making a total of 19 appearances, yet has seven goals and three assists to his name. This works out at a goal or assist every 92 minutes he's been on the pitch, which is a good return.

The forward struggled in his first season at United under Jose Mourinho, leading some reports to suggest he would be sold last summer when the manager was looking for a bargaining chip in his bid to sign Ivan Perisic from Inter Milan. The deal never materialised and Martial has started this season showing the form that made him so popular in his debut campaign at the club.

Yet for all the praise that has come Martial's way, people still question his happiness at the club. He doesn't smile enough or celebrate wildly enough to prove that he's glad to be at Manchester United, according to some.

Martial's first goal of the season came on the opening weekend against West Ham seven minutes after he was substituted on. His teammates crowded round him but his expression remained unchanged. Phil Jones was seen laughing, grabbing the player's face and telling him to smile.

Ahead of United's 0-0 draw against Southampton in the final game of 2017, Gary Neville addressed a crowd at Hotel Football during the prematch meal. He too claimed he didn't think Martial looked happy at United.

However, Martial has already explained this reaction to goals. In November, following his great goal-scoring streak, he gave insight into his manner with an interview with SFR Sport.

"I'm really focused on my football and I'm happy to play," he said. "Really, if you see me in a group, you'll see I'm one of the first guys to laugh. Off the pitch, I'm a bit shy, I don't show my emotions that much, but I'm happy, even if you don't see me smile, I'm still happy. Maybe on the pitch it's because I'm focused. I'll try and smile more, but it wouldn't be natural if I forced it."

His celebration at Goodison Park appeared entirely natural. Given a rare opportunity to start up front following Romelu Lukaku's injury in the 0-0 draw with Southampton, Martial was able to take full advantage of his chance and show the manager what he is capable of.

Before Lukaku's injury, Mourinho explained the striker's lagging form with exhaustion. Lukaku had previously played every minute of Premier League football up until that point.

When pressed on whether the striker would be rested soon, Mourinho insisted that he couldn't do that due to Zlatan Ibrahimovic's struggles to return to full fitness.

But when you have Martial and Marcus Rashford in your squad, surely it would have made sense to give Lukaku a game off and try out one of these youngsters instead?

Lukaku's break was forced but Martial has shown that he can come up with the goods in the Belgian's absence. On the back of some disappointing results and performances, Martial's goal was vital and his cool demeanour, which may mean he doesn't smile as much as people want, allowed him to thrive under the pressure by getting the goal United needed.

Of course, this isn't the first time we've seen this. Martial made his debut from the bench in 2015 against rivals Liverpool and scored his first goal within minutes of coming on to the pitch.

In injury time against Everton in the 2016 FA Cup semifinal, he fired United in to the final when racing behind their backline before delivering the coolest of finishes.

Last season, United were losing 1-0 to Middlesbrough with five minutes to go, before his equalising goal sparked the 2-1 comeback. This season, he scored the winner against Tottenham 10 minutes after being brought on for Rashford. He has shown time and again that he can perform under pressure.

Martial is still only 22 and has the makings of a great striker. Having done the business at Goodison Park, he should hopefully be rewarded with a start this week in United's FA Cup game against Derby. If he is again successful in front of goal, he should be providing Mourinho with food for thought.

Lukaku isn't the only player United have capable of leading the line and Martial needs to prove that consistently so Mourinho can utilise his options more effectively in the remaining months of the season, allowing the Belgian to rediscover his earlier form when he was fresher. All eyes will be on Martial this Friday.

Scott is one of ESPN FC's Manchester United bloggers. Follow him on Twitter: @R_o_M.

Liverpool defender Jon Flanagan has pleaded guilty to assaulting his girlfriend.

The 25-year-old appeared at Liverpool Magistrates' Court on Tuesday accused of beating Rachael Wall.

He was charged following an incident on Duke Street in Liverpool city centre at around 3:20 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 22.

The case was adjourned to Jan. 17, when Flanagan will be sentenced.

The court heard he had been seen on CCTV assaulting his partner, who he has been in a relationship with for 18 months.

Lionel Greig, defending, said the victim had not provided a statement and there had been no previous instances of domestic violence in their relationship.

He said both parties were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident.

District Judge Wendy Lloyd said she had been given a breakdown of the CCTV, which showed Flanagan assaulting his partner on "several occasions" and kicking her at one point.

She told Flanagan, who wore a black suit and tie, he would face a community penalty.

She said: "I need to be reassured that these circumstances will never be repeated again."

Flanagan was given unconditional bail.

LONDON -- Antonio Conte has said it will be "impossible" for Chelsea to sell or loan out any players in the January transfer window unless they are replaced by new signings.

David Luiz's future at Stamford Bridge has been the subject of intense speculation since he was dropped for Chelsea's 1-0 win over Manchester United in November, while more outlandish reports have also linked Eden Hazard with a mid-season move to United or Real Madrid.

Speaking in a news conference to preview Wednesday's clash with Arsenal, Conte said that he has limited influence over Chelsea's transfer strategy but confirmed that no first-team players can be allowed to leave if the club are to fulfil his desire to impove his squad's depth.

"My expectation is that all the players in the squad will stay here and to try to continue to work," Conte said. "Our squad is not big, and for this reason I think it's impossible to send on loan or to sell one player if we don't [buy] another player."

Asked if he expected signings to arrive in January, Conte added: "My expectation can be a lot or not, but the most important thing is my opinion. I try to give my opinion to the club and then the club has to take the best decision for the team.

"I can give my opinion but I'm only a coach. My first task is to work on the pitch with my players to improve my team. If the club decide to ask me something about my team I try to give my opinion."

Chelsea approach the January transfer window in a strong financial position, having announced a £15.3 million profit in their latest financial results. The headline figure was underpinned by a £69.2m profit on player trading in the year ending June 30, 2017.

That number was based in large part on the £60m received for Oscar's move to Shanghai SIPG. Chelsea are due another hefty windfall this summer when the £58m for Diego Costa's move back to Atletico Madrid is paid, but Conte admitted that the question of whether the money is reinvested is not for him to answer.

"I don't know what will happen and this is not my decison," Conte said. "It's the club's decision and it's not my decision. The club has to take the best decision to try to do the best for the team and for the club. I'm ready to face situations because I'm a coach and I have to work very hard with my players on the pitch."

Conte added that he does not envision recalling any of Chelsea's loanees to bolster his squad, despite bringing Nathan Ake back to Stamford Bridge from Bournemouth in January last season.

"I don't think this is realistic because the players that we send on loan are playing," he said. "I don't see a possibility to come back for some players. I remember last January, Kenedy and Musonda [also] came back to improve our squad, but in this transfer window I don't know."

Luiz is back in training at Cobham as he nears a full recovery from the knee inflammation that has kept him out of action him since November, while Charly Musonda is also expected to feature in Chelsea's FA Cup third round tie against Norwich City.

"David improved a lot his physical condition," Conte continued. "Now in the last couple of days he worked with us and I think he could be in contention for the Norwich game. Musonda is in the same condition as David -- he's ready. All my [other] players are available [to face Arsenal]."

Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.

Matteo Darmian has suitors in Italy but Manchester United want to keep the defender beyond January, according to his agent, Tullio Tinti.

The full-back has started just one of United's last 12 games and has only started two Premier League games all season.

His agent has said there is interest from Serie A, but insists United do not want to sell the defender they signed from Torino for £12.7 million in 2015.

Tinti told Rete Sport: "I've never received any calls from Roma [for Darmian].

"There's contact with other Serie A sides, but not with the Giallorossi. At the moment, the lad's not for sale."

Darmian, 28, has slipped down the pecking order under Jose Mourinho with Antonio Valencia established at right-back and Ashley Young preferred at left-back.

Sources have told ESPN FC that Mourinho does not feel his squad is big enough to cope with any departures in January.

However, if a player makes it clear they want to leave Old Trafford then any suitable offers will be considered.

Mourinho is already having to deal with a number of injuries and suspensions at the back.

Valencia and Eric Bailly are currently sidelined while Chris Smalling is not fully fit after suffering a groin injury before Christmas.

Young will also miss the next two games against Derby and Stoke while he serves an FA ban for an elbow on Dusan Tadic during the 0-0 draw with Southampton on Saturday.

Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.