Lynsey Hooper’s column: Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United an ‘unlikely fairytale’ but too many questions still stand

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Lynsey Hooper discusses the biggest stories of the summer so far as England Under-20s lift the World Cup and speculation on the futures of Antonio Conte, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alexis Sanchez continues. 

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Can England Under-20 glory inspire a future major senior success?

England are world champions for the first time since 1966. Okay, it’s at under-20 level but there is something to be hopeful about.

The famous models that everyone in football have wanted to follow in the past decade have been that of Germany and Spain. Both are cultures where if you win at junior level, the likelihood of being a success in major senior tournaments is very high.

The question after Paul Simpson’s Young Lions lifted silverware is whether this can filter through to the senior team in years to come.

Players like Dominic Solanke, Ademola Lookman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin will need to play football at the highest level in England to progress.

Mauricio Pochettino has not been afraid to give young players a chance and Ronald Koeman is following suit so it looks as though the tide may be changing at a few clubs.

The disappointing thing with England over the last couple of weeks has been Gareth Southgate calling up Marcus Rashford for a qualifier and friendly when he could be getting first-team tournament experience with the Under-21 side in their European Championships.

He played right midfield in Scotland and started on the bench in France but could have already had two full matches leading the line for Aidy Boothroyd’s boys in Poland.

A winning mentality is supposedly the key ingredient to a successful side. Something that Arsenal have had thrown at them all season for being lacking so the more experience young English players can have winning matches and trophies has to be a good thing.

We certainly do not want this talented, composed team that lifted the Under-20 World Cup in South Korea to become a ‘Where are they now’ feature in a few years time.

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Unpredictable futures for Conte and Ronaldo

During a recent trip to Italy, it is clear that one man and his future are talked about a lot and that is of Chelsea manager Antonio Conte.

Rumours have been doing the rounds here about the former Juventus man falling out with the Blues hierarchy after it had emerged that he may have text Diego Costa to tell him he was no longer needed at the club.

The Italian press seem to be going to town on it and from all of this it makes Chelsea one to watch this summer. All eyes are on the Premier League champions.

Conte has fallen out with management over transfers before, namely at Juventus when he didn’t get his way, he left and went to the Italian national team.

There could really be stormy waters ahead if Conte does not get his way, even if he does sign a new contract.

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READ: Carly Telford on finding out she was going to Euro 2017

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Also on my watch-list are Manchester United and the recent links with a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.

It would be an unlikely fairytale for him to end up back at Old Trafford but too many question marks still stand as to whether it will happen or not.

Does he really want Messi to take over his records in Spain? And his relationship with Jose Mourinho is one that nobody can really be sure of.

He has also just become father to twins, it has to be asked if he would be likely to uproot his entire family back to Manchester for what is likely to be a couple of years.

That sort of signing would be a huge boost for United and they are one of a few clubs that can afford him and his wage demands. Mourinho is starting to assemble a winning team but this summer they will need more than just Ronaldo.

Maybe the Old Trafford club could convince their former No 7 to come back if they offered a new statue, obviously one that holds a better resemblance than the latest attempt.

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Sanchez exit would be a big blow for Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez could be one of the transfer sagas of the summer but could also be the biggest hole to fill of any club if Arsenal were to let him go.

The Chilean is currently in Russia playing in the Confederations Cup but links to Manchester City and Bayern Munich have not gone away.

To lose Sanchez would be losing their best player and a player that seemingly has more passion than the rest of the team.

There were players in that dressing room that were split on whether they wanted a change in management. If Sanchez leaves we could soon see which side of the divide he was on.

This is a player who above all else wants to win and going would signal that he believes the Gunners cannot meet his personal ambitions.

Having interviewed him twice in the last season, his hunger to win was abundantly clear. It was evident in his FA Cup final performance and that kind of desire cannot be taught. He hates losing and hates being brought off. He’s not afraid to show he cares which is getting more of a rarity nowadays.

I have to say the atmosphere at Arsenal whenever I have been there has always been fantastic but is there such a thing as too much of a happy camp? Who is standing up and lifting standards when they are not good enough? At the moment it is Sanchez, but who would carry them to the hard fought victories if his bags are packed and ready to go?

We’re in for an interesting summer.

Follow Lynsey on Twitter at @lynseyhooper

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