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Manchester United's Jose Mourinho expects Matteo Darmian to stay

Manchester United's Jose Mourinho expects Matteo Darmian to stay

ESPN

LIVERPOOL, England -- Jurgen Klopp believes he is well-stocked with options at centre-half for the season as Ragnar Klavan looks set to leave Liverpool.

Sources have told ESPN FC that Klavan is in Italy ahead of completing a £2 million move to Serie A side Cagliari.

A source said Klopp personally sanctioned Klavan's potential departure, having been encouraged by Joe Gomez's performances at centre-back and the return of Joel Matip from a thigh injury.

Nathaniel Phillips, a 21-year-old central defender from the club's academy, impressed during preseason, while summer signing Fabinho can also be utilised in the position.

With Matip and Dejan Lovren out injured, Gomez partnered Virgil van Dijk in the heart of the defence for Liverpool's 4-0 win over West Ham United in last week's Premier League opener.

"I was never in doubt about Joe and his ability to play at centre-half, but he needed time after a long injury," Klopp said of his defensive options at a news conference on Friday. "Now he is fit, which is good.

"He's a very good football player and played the position good together with Virgil. They have a very good understanding -- on a personal level as well. That's really cool.

"But we have the others as well and Joel is close to being back. [He will] hopefully be able to be in the squad on Monday. So we have him, Dejan is still a bit injured, we have Nat Phillips. And if we need then Fabinho can play the position as well.

"We have enough players and we have to see who fits to which opponent and then we make a lineup."

Klavan, 32, has entered the final year of his Liverpool contract and wants to finish his career playing regularly, with his game-time at Anfield set to be severely limited this season.

There are a number of other Liverpool players on the fringes -- Simon Mignolet, Divock Origi, Marko Grujic and Pedro Chirivella -- that could also depart prior to the close of the European transfer window at the end the month.

"First of all, I didn't hear that anything [about Klavan] was finally sorted, so nothing to say from me about that," Klopp said. "But I said before in general that it was possible that players would still leave the club, and if that happens then it would have to be good for all sides. We will see what happens.

"It's about the situation, how is the offer, how is the need for us? Can we give the player the opportunity if he wants to leave?

"That's the problem of the transfer window. We close in England and the whole of Europe is waiting for that moment and now starts trying to dump prices or whatever to get good players. That will not happen. We are not in financial need.

"I want a very good squad and the more players the better. But I really think we could give a few players the opportunity [to leave] but we have to see what happens. I have no number in my mind."

Liverpool, who sit top of the Premier League after the first round of matches, face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Monday night.

"Yes the start was good, but that's already done, pretty much," Klopp added. "And yes the feeling around the club is good, but that's only because of the performances and the results we got. We have to do that again and again and again.

"We feel in a good moment. It's getting better and better, which is important. We are still in a process, we have to develop. We are not the best team in the world, so there's a lot of space for us to improve in all departments."

LONDON -- Cesc Fabregas will not feature for Chelsea against former club Arsenal as he deals with a "very unusual" injury, but Mateo Kovacic could make his debut, head coach Maurizio Sarri said on Friday.

Both players missed Chelsea's 3-0 win over Huddersfield Town on Saturday, with Kovacic having only arrived at Cobham on a season-long loan deal from Real Madrid three days earlier and Fabregas remaining at the training ground to continue his rehabilitation.

The Spain international remains unavailable but Kovacic is likely to be on the bench, though Sarri said he is some way short of peak fitness.

"Fabregas is out for this match. I hope he will be able to be on the pitch [training] next week. I'm not sure," Sarri said. "[It's] nothing serious, but he has a very unusual injury. [It's] nothing serious, but he has a pain, not in the knee... near the knee. But not in the knee."

On the subject of Kovacic, he added: "I think Mateo will be very useful for us. He's a very technical player. In this moment, he has to work. I think he's not ready now for 90 minutes, but maybe, tomorrow, for the first 30 or the last 30 minutes he could be used.

"I expect a lot from him because, for me, he's a very great player. In my opinion, he can improve more. I think he can play in any of the three positions in midfield. He's a very good offensive player, but he has improved in the defensive phase in the last two years in Madrid."

Sarri is expected to stick to the starting XI that beat Huddersfield, with Eden Hazard once again among the substitutes as his fitness is carefully managed after missing most of preseason.

There are no such concerns about N'Golo Kante, however, who played the full 90 minutes at the John Smith's Stadium.

"Kante, for physical characteristics, is very quick to be ready to play," Sarri said. "He played very well in the last match. He is ready. But, for the other players from the World Cup, I think it's a little bit different."

Alvaro Morata is also expected to be given another chance to rediscover his scoring touch at the head of Sarri's 4-3-3, despite having found the net just once in his last 10 Chelsea appearances in all competitions.

"I am not worried about Morata," he said. "Morata is a very great player. I think that, in this moment, he needs only to gain confidence. He needs to score as all the strikers in the world do, I think. He needs to gain confidence, but he's improving so I'm not really worried about him."

Sarri is expecting Arsenal to provide a stiff test on his first competitive match at Stamford Bridge, despite the limp nature of their 2-0 home defeat to champions Manchester City on the Premier League's opening weekend.

"For everybody, it's difficult against Manchester City, I think," he said. "I think that [Unai] Emery is a very good coach. He won three times the Europa League. He won in France with PSG.

"And I think Arsenal, this season, will be competitive. They will be able to fight for a place in the Champions League."

MANCHESTER, England -- Kevin De Bruyne will be out for around three months after the Manchester City midfielder suffered lateral collateral ligament in his right knee.

De Bruyne suffered the injury during training on Wednesday and he flew to Barcelona the following day for tests that revealed that no surgery was required.

Pep Guardiola admitted being without the Belgian will be a big loss but they will have to learn to cope without him, starting with Sunday's match with Huddersfield Town.

"Like the doctor said, it will be two to three months, hopefully he can do as much as possible to get back and help us again," he told a news conference.

"It will be a big miss like last season with Benjamin Mendy. Last season Kevin was outstanding in all terms and of course for him and his family you never want this but you accept it's part of the game.

"It's especially part of the game for the players -- it's normal, they don't rest. It's a tough season, short recovery, they say let's go and we are in the competition. Human beings have a limit and sometimes these things happen."

De Bruyne, 27, had only been back in City training for just over a week ago after helping Belgium to the semifinals of the World Cup and was a 60th minute substitute in the 2-0 Premier League win at Arsenal on Sunday.

City sent a record 16 players to the World Cup with seven of those, including De Bruyne, reaching the semifinals and all returned within three weeks of their last appearance.

Guardiola said there was no way of knowing if the short break was a contributing factor to his injury and added that it was difficult to guard against any of his other players picking up problems.

"We'll never know but my opinion is that we demand a lot of the players," he added. "More than 11 months and coming back immediately this can happen. I'm pretty sure this can influence it. If you're fresh, with normal vacations, then that doesn't happen.

"I don't know how you can prepare [against that]. We have to play every game like it was an important game. We try to care them as best as possible but you never know."

David Silva, who this week announced his international retirement, missed the Arsenal match and the Community Shield victory over Chelsea with a knee injury and could be back to face Huddersfield at the Etihad Stadium.

"He trained the last two or three sessions really good," he said. "Big congratulations because he played more than 100 games, winning European Championship and the World Cup.

"He is one of the most interesting and fascinating players in the whole history of Spain. I never pushed him but he decide to that and he can rest a little bit more."

MANCHESTER -- Jose Mourinho says he expects to have Jesse Lingard and Matteo Darmian available to face Brighton & Hove Albion this weekend but is set to be without Antonio Valencia and Nemanja Matic.

Lingard missed the 2-1 win over Leicester City while Darmian has been linked with a return to Italy with Juventus, Napoli and Inter Milan.

The Serie A transfer window closes at 7 p.m. BST on Friday but Mourinho said it is likely Darmian, who started at right-back against Leicester with Antonio Valencia and Diogo Dalot sidelined with injuries, will stay at Old Trafford.

"I don't think he will go," Mourinho told a news conference on Friday.

"He cannot have any bad feeling towards us because we opened the door for him in case his desire was to go but it looks like it's not going to end in a transfer and for me it is good news that Matteo is staying.

"He's always an option for us, a reliable player, we know that his performance level is that one, we know he always does a job for the team, right-back, left-back, starting player on the bench, he always does it, he's loved in the group by his human nature, too."

United have lost their last two league games at Brighton, including a 1-0 defeat at the Amex Stadium in May.

Mourinho is still without Valencia and Matic against Chris Hughton's side but there is hope the pair could be fit to return against Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on Aug. 27.

"I think Lingard [is available]," Mourinho said. "Matic and Valencia, they are training with the team since Thursday, fully fit but not yet to play or even to be selected.

"Apart from that, of course some of the boys are in a better condition, some of them before Leicester trained three days and after this good long working week they are in a better condition.

"Three months ago we lost there, we lost 1-0. They have a great coach, Chris, good players, good team, beautiful stadium but difficult to play.

"They know how to play, they kept the same team, bought a few new players, the style is the same and the fact they lost the first match [against Watford] they are working for a reaction, to improve their game.

"So it will be a difficult match for us but we are confident, the training was really really good all week."

ESPN