|Org||France National Team|
|Club as Player||Everton|
2018 01 23 Retrieve
[q: When arriving at Manchester United from Fulham, how different did you find it playing at such a huge club even though you’d played Premier League football before?] Things happen naturally when you are in a state of mind to compete and be the best. You don’t think twice to join Manchester United. You may have offers elsewhere but it’s a lifetime opportunity (to join Manchester United) which you take in without thinking twice. I didn’t question myself either, I knew I wanted to come right away. From Fulham or from anywhere, I would have jumped on a train! For me, in 2004, I was ready for the challenge and wanted to play with players like Scholesy (Paul Scholes) and Keano (Roy Keane)- big legends like them
[q: Who was your favourite strike partner?] I enjoyed playing with all of them but Wayne Rooney was the easiest player to pair with. He read your game so well that he would adapt - if you come short, he would go behind the defender; he would come wide for defending duties; he would do anything possible for you and make you more confident. He was easier to play with because you too could read his game.
When you play with Cristiano Ronaldo, he has all the confidence in the world but he is very hard to read. Sometimes, he would take the ball and dribble when you’d come short or he would dribble past all the defenders and make wrong choices sometimes because he was very, very focused on his own game.
He was a bit less of a team player than Wayne Rooney, for example. But he was the most talented, so you’re happy to play. With players like Van Nistelrooy, Carlos Tevez, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer- you can really learn a lot from them
[q: Manchester United have a lot of options in attack, just as they did in your days. How did Sir Alex keep all of you happy?] It was a matter of seeing (how to manage) different competitions and at the same time looking at the different stages in the season. Premier League is a marathon and not a sprint. Also, there are cup games and the Champions League- all the competitions where we want to win.
So, this is how he made sure how all players got their part. Also, this was worthy because a competition inside the club is very good. He managed us in a way that we all had our part. It’s about finding the right balance in different games and situations, I believe
[q: Is Jose Mourinho’s biggest job keeping all these different talented forwards happy?] Yes, definitely. The players are so good that they can understand the competition isn’t about one player being good and the other being average-they’re all good. The competition is about sometimes which player would play or who would play wide or as a striker- because eventually, it is all about winning trophies together. This is something they need to understand and if they don’t, then the player isn’t going to play.
This is the Premier League and this is the biggest club so you have no choice but to adapt to things. Most of the players are looking for these situations so they can work harder to improve. If they’re always in the comfort zone, it isn’t good for them. They need to be challenged
[q: Manchester United fans are known to demand an attacking brand of football. Do you think Jose Mourinho is doing justice to the fans?] It takes time and dedication to find the right balance in order to make sure that we don’t concede and still be able to create opportunities. The result is also important to Manchester United fans. The tradition is always going to be attacking (brand of football) but (Jose) Mourinho isn’t of the same tradition and we need to understand and respect that.
We have to give him the credit for the two trophies won last year. We have two amazing players in (Jesse) Lingard and (Marcus) Rashford from the academy. Mourinho will keep us improving and maybe with Alexis Sanchez coming, it could get better. We can’t ask for everything in a year.
[q: What is your prediction for the Premier League season and the Champions League campaign?] I really feel (Manchester) United has a good draw in the Champions League so they can go definitely to the last four. We may be short at the moment but I feel confident of this side to go all the way. In the Premier League, we are behind right now and Manchester City need to drop points and we need to make sure we don’t lose any. That’s going to be a challenge but I believe we are definitely going to be at the number two or number three position to get in the Champions League and get the consistency back as being the biggest club
[q: France had a good campaign at the 2016 Euros despite bowing down to Portugal in the finale. In order to compete for the winning trophy, in what departments do they need improvement, going into the World Cup?] I think they need improvement in the defence- where they have to be sure of their tactics, their way of coming forward. Up-front there is (Anthony) Martial, (Antoine) Griezmann- they are amazing players. Going forward is fine but they need to find the right balance defensively, making sure of the confidence on the ball
2018 10 09 Retrieve
[Pogba slammed by former Man Utd forward Saha over Mourinho comments] I think he has done it on purpose, and I don’t think that is right. It’s the wrong communication. It puts pressure on the manager. With those talks, you should do it in the dressing room with your manager. You know that people will question it, so don’t do it. This is my opinion and I would have said that to him. I would have said ‘no, that’s not something to say because you’re not the manager’.
Sometimes I see a bit too much ego, as a fan sometimes I find it very disturbing. Yes, I think there are things that should not be done from the players’ side and from the manager and above. There is definitely things going on where [it] is completely wrong and there is so much potential that you still have hope that things can be fixed
2018 12 23 Retrieve
[Saha backs United caretaker Solskjaer to impress] He is there for the transition but I think he wants to prove that he is able to stay longer. Maybe he will try to build confidence in the first weeks or months, and why not build this aura that we are looking for, with stability and an identity, like the one we had with Sir Alex Ferguson.
He was an offensive player, like Sir Alex Ferguson. I remember how focused he was during the training sessions. He was always trying to repeat some situations. He was very strong with his right foot, so he was doing the same kind of race again and again, the same efforts that will allow him to be in good conditions to score goals. We had five or six strikers. If you scored, you’d play. If you didn’t score, you were in the audience. So you have to find a way to be consistent. I think that’s what he will bring [consistency].
[And Saha cited a lack of communication and philosophy as the reasons for Mourinho’s failure] It is clear there was a solidity. But at one point, we felt we were always in transition. There were a lack of information about the philosophy. When you sign a manager like Mourinho, you know what he will bring.
There is no surprise. He was true to form [as we know him]. He made his own choices with the communication. Nothing surprising. When you sign a coach like him, you know you will win titles. But I think that something was missing for some players. Maybe there was a lack of guidance. So there was a clash. When you have a coach with that pedigree, there are good things and bad things. That’s why usually he [Mourinho] doesn’t stay more than two or three years in a club.
2018 12 24 Retrieve
[The former Manchester United striker has explained why Paul Pogba sometimes struggles in more disciplined roles ] The issue with the word ‘boss’ is that, at some stage, a boss needs to be consistent. You need to be well-perceived in the group.
That’s today’s criticism towards Paul. We need to understand him. Some weeks, he’s been outstanding. That’s what we expect from a player as talented as he is.
I think that his problem is that he has so many qualities that it’s complicated to keep him in one specific position, even box-to-box or in the defensive tasks, when he can score or make the difference anyway. I think those elements are difficult for him as a player.
He can do it because he did it with Didier Deschamps. He can do it with any team or coach. It’s not a behavioural problem but an analysis one. He must tell himself: ‘Okay, for that specific game, I need to do a certain job’. I think it’s not easy for him.
[Saha hopes Solskjaer can be a positive influence on Pogba given his selfless nature as a player and a coach] Ole has a lot of humility and it can help in their communication. He will put his ego aside as ‘boss’ and he’ll tell himself that today the team goes first.
It is what Ole does. He’s always done it. He made great sacrifices for his team-mates. He’s made the difference for his team-mates and his coach. That’s Ole. He will give that [to the team].
That’s a message he’ll give gradually to all the players. They need to get their confidence back. They almost need some paternal communication. A misplaced pride in a great club constantly under the scrutiny of everyone. Whatever will happen, there they’ll talk about it because it’s one of the most followed clubs in the world
2019 08 08 Retrieve
[Former Manchester United forward Louis Saha says the club are having to pay huge fees for players due to their recent failures on the pitch] Manchester United are paying over the odds for players because teams know that United are desperate to strengthen our defence. The defenders that have been brought in are top quality, but I think their price tag would have been lower had they gone to a team that wasn’t in the same position as United. Players such as Ashley Young have done a tremendous job in defence, but United have had too many makeshift defenders over the past few seasons and they needed to address the situation. The market has changed rapidly over the last decade and defenders won’t be let go for the prices that they used to. If United want to reach the top again, then the starting eleven needs to be strong from defence to attack. They’re not going to compete by just having a strong midfield and attack
United aren’t in the best position to tempt players like Dybala to the club. He’s playing in a league-winning side with players like [Cristiano] Ronaldo, which is hard to compete with. He’s not a guaranteed starter for Juventus or Argentina, which is crazy for a player of his ability. I can see why he would be looking to sign for a team where he can play in a confident squad and in the Champions League. United can’t currently offer the stability and consistency that some players are looking for when they sign for a new club. Solskjaer is at the very beginning of his tenure and United aren’t competing with the likes of City and Liverpool, which is painful to admit, so they don’t hold the attraction they once did
2019 08 12 Retrieve
[Louis Saha says Marcus Rashford will have no excuses if he fails to reach the 20-goal mark for Manchester United in the Premier League this season] Rashford has got no excuses to not score over 20 league goals next season. He’s clearly Solskjaer’s main man up top now and he’ll start most games, giving him ample opportunities to score goals. He’s an excellent player and has all the attributes to be a Golden Boot winner – pace, technical ability, an engine and he’s unpredictable when he’s got the ball at his feet. Sometimes he’s guilty of trying one flick too many which he needs to get out of his game, as he does the hard part but then tries one thing too much. He’s still very young, but Solskjaer is the perfect manager to get the best out of Rashford. Solskjaer always took his chances and was clinical in front of goal and if he can pass that down to Rashford, then he’ll score 20-30 goals a season
[Saha went on to reflect on Lukaku’s spell at the Theatre of Dreams] Lukaku hasn’t been able to fulfil his potential at United and I think it’s down to his self-motivation and confidence. He should be a defender’s nightmare, he’s blessed with both strength and pace which is rare. He should be able to hold the ball and bring other players into the game, but he doesn’t use his strength to his advantage. He has been a little unlucky, as he’s not the type of player that can create a goal by himself, he needs service. United have struggled to get the best service into the area since he’s been there and it means he can’t do what he’s best at – getting on the end of crosses and through balls
[Saha also weighed in on Alexis Sanchez’s ill-fated spell with United to date] Sanchez’s poor form has been a mystery, but he could single-handedly bring United back into the top four if he can find his rhythm again. Having a full pre-season will hopefully instil some confidence back in him, whilst Solskjaer is the ideal man to get his Midas touch back
[The former France international continued to praise Solskjaer] Solskjaer is definitely the man to get United back to the top. Solskjaer is still learning a lot himself, but as a player, he would have learnt from the best in how to keep egos in check and take the responsibilities of managing the team
2019 08 13 Retrieve
[Everton have been urged by Louis Saha to show patience with Moise Kean] Kean is a great signing for Everton but he is going to need time to adapt to the Premier League - I can’t see him hitting the ground running. At Juventus, he wasn’t a regular starter as he was competing with Ronaldo, Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala, at Everton he is coming in as the number one striker, so he will need to prove himself. He is physically very strong but he isn’t a striker that will create his own chances. He will need to rely on the service from the likes of Richarlison and the other players around him. Adapting from Italian football to English football really isn’t easy, he will need time, but he is at a family club that will give him all the tools that he will need to develop into a leading striker
[Saha said of seeing the former loan star back in familiar surroundings] Andre Gomes has to be one of the Premier League’s signings of the summer. He was amazing for Everton last year, he is a tremendous player. The way that he holds on to the ball is perfect, he has the ability to pick the right passes, protect the defence at the right moment and most importantly, he is consistent. Football is all about consistency and getting the right results. Gomes has the ability to turn draws into wins and losses into draws. Now that they have added even more quality up front, he will only continue to improve
[Quizzed on how much Idrissa Gueye midfielder will be missed] PSG are trying to reach the next level and Idrissa Gueye is a great signing. They need dedicated players, someone who is willing to work hard for the team, someone with the right attitude. This is an amazing opportunity for him to be able to play Champions League football and win trophies – it’s amazing how far he has come in the last five years, it is the beauty of football. He will be a big miss for Everton and they will struggle to replace him, but he’s 29 and won’t get another chance to move to such a big team, so you can understand why he wanted to go
2019 06 01 Retrieve
[The former Manchester United striker has spoken out in defence of a fellow Frenchman, claiming it is not his job to be a leader at Old Trafford] I am really a big fan of Paul. You target leadership for the best players in the team and Paul is definitely one of them, so the pressure is always on him. But it’s unfair on him to have this burden all of the time because the set-up of the team is not built with leaders around him – and perhaps that is not his best quality.
Of course, he brings a special quality because he can do special things, but I don’t think leadership is his strength. So let’s find the right people to be around him because he can do magic. That’s what he has been bought by United to do – rather than as a Roy Keane-type or others that you can compare. When I see what is happening with Paul, I would say it is unfair to ask him to do something unnatural to him
[Anthony Martial has faced similar struggles for consistency, but he is another that Saha believes remains integral to the Red Devils cause] Of course, they have great talent and I have to say I’m jealous. It is as simple as that. You look at those guys and they can do everything. But the thing is it’s unfair to focus on one aspect of their game that is not one of their strong qualities.
As for Anthony, he is the type of player, who, on his day, is unplayable, but, again, he needs a role model that will give him a target to go for and set a tone for working harder.
In my view, it’s not fair to target those two French players. It is about the squad and the squad right now is not there. Every day in a group is about getting the best out of the personnel.For instance, a player like Gary Neville was essential for me as a striker. Every day he would be there on my back making sure I get it. I knew that every time I missed an opportunity or a dribble then he would be on my back. Those days have gone now and that is why I think Ole has some work to do. I think United have to find some new leaders
2019 07 04 Retrieve
[Paul Pogba’s behaviour blasted by former Manchester United star Saha] I am a bit annoyed by [what Pogba said], but what can you do? I struggle to understand why players express themselves (in this way). As much as they want to move, I understand that, but I don’t think it is something that should be done. I am especially gutted because he is a massive player for the club.
I hope that he can still remain [with United], but it is difficult to see that because when you express something like this, it becomes a difficult situation to manage. It is not going to be easy for Ole
There is a transition period for United, but that is not the case for France. There was no lack of stability with the manager for France
The situation is not the same for United. They are still trying to find their feet back since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson.
These are some things that can give an indication of why he has struggled. Because he is a big and talented player, sometimes people expect him to do too much.
He had a tremendous season, but people will still expect more
2019 09 02 Retrieve
[Louis Saha believes Paul Pogba is the only world-class player at Manchester United right now] He’s got the potential to be one of the best - Ballon d’Or potential. No disrespect to the other players but he could say ‘I’m the only one here who could claim to be a world-class player right now’. At the same time, he’s always going to be on the spot because he is the only one. If he doesn’t perform there’s no-one that’s going to be asked more from. Pogba tries his best but sometimes there’s no-one there to help him. And who’s going to get criticised for not performing? It’s going to be Pogba
[Despite his own transfer desires, Saha praised Pogba’s on-field response after finding himself still wearing a United shirt] He could have hidden, said he didn’t want to play, but the first couple games he really did perform. He represents so much in terms of potential for United that they ask him to be perfect but he can’t because he’s human
2019 09 03 Retrieve
[Saha questions logic of Inter loan agreement because Sanchez switch is a bad deal for Man Utd] It’s a strange one. I think Alexis got to a point where his confidence dropped. The terms of the agreement show he needed to move.
He’s a great player with an abundance of skills and passion. But he couldn’t deliver for United, so having a deal where United pays is a bad deal. You would think he could remain there and help the side but mentally it was too exhausting. That’s why he wanted to move – he didn’t feel appreciated. It was really hard for him. The decision is not sustainable
2019 10 15 Retrieve
[Saha defends Pogba as he blames poor transfers for Man Utd’s issues] Now, you look, and the excuse is, ‘Pogba hasn’t played.’ It is crazy to put a club in this position. I’m sorry but you can’t put the blame on [Marcus] Rashford, you can’t put the blame on Anthony Martial, you can’t put the blame on the newcomers. Who is big enough in that squad to be saying, ‘This is falling down’? Apart from Pogba. It is unfair on him, unfair on the squad. It is right that I hear Gary Neville complain about the chemistry that has been built. You could put any manager in right now; I’m sorry, he will struggle.
You can say, alright he should not have allowed [Romelu] Lukaku and [Alexis] Sanchez to leave but the damage was already done because those guys didn’t want to stay. So it is better to actually clean up in some ways, let’s say, with respect. But the actual power of the United history, the United set-up, has been fettered by three or four transfer windows. It was like a shotgun in two feet. They put themselves in that situation, not giving the platform to fight back
[On what needs to be done] There are no indicators of what should be happening at certain times in the game, so it is a struggle for a manager to implement that in one go. It will take one year to actually fix that. It is really hard. It takes time. Give him the budget every manager has had to get the right players. You have to pay whatever you have to pay. I would say he has been courageous to let Lukaku and Sanchez go. He put himself in danger because people start to criticise. But that was the right move.
In six years, the board have changed strategy, changed managers. Now it is more for the youth. Before it was like ‘guaranteed’ players. But you are losing the tag of Champions League, so it is harder; not getting [Paulo] Dybala, for example. Those guys want Champions League because they want to play for their national team. It is a vicious cycle
It is not just about the squad of United. Players now have a sense of the individual. They look for themselves a bit more. It is down to social media. My account, my this, my that. Players have more followers than clubs, so it means how much power they have. It changed. We have a duty to educate, and target the players who can really understand the sacrifice for the team. The United squad, when you look, I don’t think there are definite captains. Who is out there to help define the rules? You learn from your own eyes. I don’t think they have, with no disrespect, the players of individual talent and desire. Sometimes, to be pushed, you need to see someone who is doing something outside the box. ‘Woah, this guy is working two times [more than] normal
2019 10 18 Retrieve
[Louis Saha says Cristiano Ronaldo’s unbelievable dedication is the main reason behind his continued success at Juventus] All I can say to you frankly is that I appreciate Cristiano even more today seeing him play with Juventus, because the guy is way older than when I first met him and played with him. What he does right now as a footballer, it is insane. The physicality that he has still got, that drive. Imagine the impact he would have on the forwards that we have right now.
They would see the obsession that this guy has got and that would be a great example. He is more obsessed than anybody I have seen. Even Ruud Van Nistelrooy was not in his league in the way that he is acting in front of goal. He wants every ball over the 90 minutes and it is a joy to see. His dedication is unbelievable so to see him back at United would be more than a dream, because I’m sure that he would have a massive impact. Maybe less goals, but it would be amazing
[Saha played alongside Ronaldo at Old Trafford between 2004 and 2008, winning two Premier League titles and the Champions League] It was insane. He was always early doing his prevention work to make sure that his body was super fit. Then, after the session, I remember we would run a few full lengths of the pitch, and he was dribbling at full pace. When you think it is all natural, it is hard work. People think that he could just dribble but it was hard work building that control of the ball. It is amazing because the most important element of his hard work is his belief. He knows how good he is because he worked hard, and when you work hard you don’t have any doubts. It’s like working for an exam, when you know that you have worked hard, you will get the result
2019 10 24 Retrieve
[Louis Saha urges Man Utd to bring in world-class attacking reinforcements] If you ask me, I would break the bank for Mbappe, but now it’s too late. But, when you look at strikers, it’s a dying breed. Lewandowski is a rare example of someone who is left, and I don’t see many players that can easily fit up front. I had views on some strikers like (Atalanta’s Duvan) Zapata who I think is a decent player, very strong.
There is a need for somebody up front who is strong enough to hold the ball and to give time and space to the players like Paul Pogba and McTominay to create something in midfield to put passes together. You’re asking a lot from young players because passing the ball around and having nice touches, it just looks too nice and it doesn’t work. This football is really down to possession, but hard on young players especially when they don’t have confidence. You need a couple of big strong characters to talk to people, to do the dirty jobs, winning duels, and to help the fans react. I think that’s what we want to see. When we lose we have that challenge that nobody likes. Passing is nice but you don’t hurt anybody
[Saha went on to express his sympathy for Rashford] I think he’s a terrific player but it comes back to what I just said; I think he’s been trying to figure out how to get luck rather than have a role model. There are other youngsters in the team who look at Rashford as the man they need to displace. We had Solskjaer, Tevez, Ronaldo, Van Nistelrooy, Rooney, Giggsy; all those players could put me in the stands, so I had to work 10 times harder than what I thought was normal to get a place because those guys are that good and already proved that they are immense players because they had won trophies, whereas the current players have not yet proved themselves by winning trophies. It’s too much and I feel for Rashford because he should not be in this situation right now
[When asked if a lack of competition for places is a cause for concern for Solskjaer at the moment] Competition is healthy. The potential to work harder is not there because there are no visual challengers. These guys can’t see anyone that is going to put them in the stands. I think they were right to let the players leave (Lukaku and Sanchez). Definitely, if they had expressed that they don’t want to remain there so you have to understand that it’s not just about economics but the man management, and if those guys don’t want to be there it’s not right for the spirit where they’re trying to build something new.
This is really hard because those players are not small players. They were very useful players so I think they are right in their actual decision to get the move that they wanted and they are happy, but the situation right now is obviously to replace those guys. You have to have replacements for competition. You have to have replacements because we want to score goals. The players that we have right now, you could see that they could realistically score 10 to 15 goals, but is that enough?
2019 11 13 Retrieve
[Saha thinks Solskjaer’s side still lacks firepower] United’s strikers are still very young. Maybe they need some kind of mentoring from experienced strikers. At the moment the team looks like they need an experienced striker who is obsessed with scoring, someone who can get ten extra goals, someone like Ruud van Nistelrooy, who was obsessed about the goal. They need that now and that has to come from Rashford and Martial
Maybe he has arrived six months or one year early and that’s not fair for him. He can’t be the only threat for Martial and Rashford at a big club like United. I had to compete with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Van Nistelrooy, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. Greenwood is learning from two youngsters rather than two experienced players
[Saha went on to suggest that United still have no clear identity, which has affected the development of the younger talent within Solskjaer’s squad] The United strikers have talent and massive confidence, but sometimes you feel like they lack education about what they should do all the time. There’s not a clear definition of the game plan like there was when I played. Maybe the managers who came disrupted the confidence and identity of the club. When you feel that the place is unstable you doubt yourself
2019 11 15 Retrieve
[Louis Saha reveals Cristiano Ronaldo was made to cry during Manchester United training by Ruud van Nistelrooy] Ruud van Nistelrooy had that kind of ego: he wanted all the passes. And sometimes, for the development of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, it was difficult for the manager to deal with. Did Ruud make Ronaldo cry? Yeah, there were stories because I think they ended up in an argument at the moment when Cristiano’s father had passed away, so it wasn’t the right moment. Things like that happen when two players have lots of spirit, but I’m sure Ruud regrets some of his words.
Cristiano was just an animal. I don’t know if you can say that he was a human! You could see from when he was 18 or 19 that this guy was not normal. These players who have all the ability recognise that it’s also about working harder than anyone – not just talent. The top seeds in tennis don’t hit the ball better or have better technique; no, they work harder than anyone, and Cristiano did that
[While Van Nistelrooy, who later played with Real Madrid, might have had a spikey attitude, he had no problems with the France international] He was always really nice with me; he maybe had a problem with the choice made by the manager, but never with me. He was obsessed about goals, and I respect that. I know some people said I maybe pushed him to a move away from the club, but that’s totally b*llocks. He was such a good player – he just had an issue with the manager – and I was maybe good enough for the manager to replace him, but I could have played with him, too
2019 11 16 Retrieve
[Louis Saha on Cristiano Ronaldo] Cristiano was just an animal. I don’t know if you can say that he was a human! You could see from when he was 18 or 19 that this guy was not normal. These players who have all the ability recognise that it’s also about working harder than anyone – not just talent. The top seeds in tennis don’t hit the ball better or have better technique; no, they work harder than anyone, and Cristiano did that
2019 12 06 Retrieve
[Louis Saha says Manchester United should try to sign Edinson Cavani from Paris Saint Germain] Manchester United are the Premier League team that need to strengthen the most in January and they should look at signing Edinson Cavani from PSG. They need to bring in players to challenge the existing players and create competition; Cavani would push Rashford and Martial and make them even better. Sir Alex [Ferguson] didn’t like signing players in the January transfer window but times are different now; United need to strengthen sooner rather than later. I would love to see Cavani join the Premier League; he would be a great signing for Manchester United
I’d also love to see Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho or Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti; they would both fit right into the Premier League
2019 12 06b Retrieve
[Louis Saha says Marcus Rashford has all the qualities to become one of Manchester United’s all-time greatest strikers] Marcus has all the qualities to become one of Man Utd’s all-time greatest strikers, the only thing that is holding him back is the lack of competition in the squad. The boy has it all. He’s super-fast, he’s great on the ball, he is unpredictable, plays on instinct like all great strikers and can win you games on his own. He has the kind of drive that Man Untd are famous for. He is also already performing on an international level which is incredible. The lack of competition around him will be a problem for his own development as, ultimately, this is what is going to motivate him and push him to become a better player. But for someone of his quality, even without the competition, he is good enough to achieve greatness and is now at a stage where he can reach 30 goals a season
2019 12 19 Retrieve
[Former Everton and France forward Louis Saha was among those to predict a long and tough period of transition] Kean is a great signing for Everton but he is going to need time to adapt. I can’t see him hitting the ground running
2020 01 16 Retrieve
[Saha urges Man Utd to sign Bruno Fernandes & hopes he makes Scholes-type impact] Bruno Fernandes seems to be a leader which is a great addition for a player. He can score goals from midfield which is something that is missing at Manchester United at the moment. If he could score 10-15 goals a season like Paul Scholes used to do or when Wayne Rooney did when he played in the deeper role it would be a great help to the team. I want to see United buy a player after a well-thought out plan, someone who was not a panic buy. A player who wants to come to the club and play for United, rather than someone who is being made to move. A footballer who the club want and who wants to play for the club
[Saha has been impressed with Marcus Rashford who arguably United’s best player in the 2019-20 campaign] At the beginning of the season I was slightly worried for him and thought he was a bit naive but now he looks a lot better. A few months ago, he was making a lot of unnecessary runs which was using up a lot of his energy but now he is looking more drilled and consistent with his play.
I like the look of Marcus now, not only for the goals he is scoring on a regular level but also his body language has got better and his link up play with other players around him has improved. It is a lot more tempting for players to want moves to teams that play Champions League football. There are various clauses in contracts nowadays and the want to play at the top level is a huge ambition for players. However, he seems to be very settled where he is, the way he is acting on and off the pitch shows to be someone who wants to stay in Manchester. He is still very young, so he needs stability and I feel he has a lot still to give in England
2020 01 17 Retrieve
[Louis Saha hopes Bruno Fernandes move to Manchester United] Bruno Fernandes seems to be a leader which is a great addition for a player. He can score goals from midfield which is something that is missing at Manchester United at the moment. If he could score 10-15 goals a season like Paul Scholes used to do or when Wayne Rooney did when he played in the deeper role it would be a great help to the team. I want to see United buy a player after a well-thought out plan, someone who was not a panic buy. A player who wants to come to the club and play for United, rather than someone who is being made to move. A footballer who the club want and who wants to play for the club
2020 01 17b Retrieve
[Louis Saha says Jesse Lingard runs about a lot but struggles with that final product] Jesse has a lot of energy and runs about a lot, but where he struggles is that he doesn’t link up the play well enough and struggles with that final product. When I watch him play, I get really frustrated as he does a lot of things well, but his play in the final third isn’t good enough, which is concerning for an attacking midfielder. He has a lot of talent and is a good player but struggles to get himself in the game sometimes and is unable to get himself in the right areas. When Jesse gets into the right positions, things will start clicking for him and he will get goals
[Saha would be supportive of a raid on the Foxes] I am a big fan of James Maddison. He has great potential and has been performing very well this season. He has good experience in the Premier League now and for him to come to Manchester United would be a big step up for him that he would be able to manage. I would be more confident of his future if Maddison came to United, he has been showing some great things
2020 02 25 Retrieve
[Louis Saha says Manchester United’s Anthony Martial has improved significantly] Martial is a talented player and has everything needed to be world class. He can score goals and build play. He now has to be focused on things that will definitely work. It’s not just about having a style and being nice to look at it. He needs to be more of a killer and I think he has done that in the last few games. Definitely, since coming back from injury, there has been an improvement. You have to pick your moments and be decisive and I think he has done well, it’s not easy
Martial has been criticised for his attitude but sometimes people misinterpret things and that’s the problem with our industry. People don’t know who you are and what you want and they assume. I have been a victim of that sometimes, they pick on one thing and think you have a nonchalant attitude and then they start getting criticism as to why you’re not producing on a regular basis. The same criticism can be said of Paul Pogba. It’s something you have to accept in the industry
2020 04 17 Retrieve
[Saha - who also enjoyed spells at Everton, Spurs, Sunderland and Lazio - was also present to take part in the debate via a video link, and explained how he managed to give defenders the slip on a consistent basis] I was really aware that most of the defenders liked to be tight so that was the kind of movement I was trying to master. It’s a combination - you need to use different types to try and upset the defender - especially when they tried to kick you as well!
2020 05 07 Retrieve
[Former Manchester United team-mate Louis Saha says Cristiano Ronaldo was always destined for greatness] He always improved but I would say that his ways never changed [as a person]. Throughout his career, you see the same dedication that he had when he was 18, maybe with less confidence as people were challenging him, and he had to prove that he was the best player. But to have that type of confidence to train, to work hard and to be consistent, no matter what people say, that was just an amazing skill. It was better than having talent because the way he was able to analyse, at that age, and grow and maintain those qualities - for me, it was genius. You ask anybody - working hard when you have that much talent, not everybody does this. You can get complacent or happy with your level and you think you have made it. But he wanted it way more. To have the vision to see something way more, when you’re already at United, at his age, it’s really hard. He managed to do that and that’s why I respected him so much
Even though he was younger than me, I remember he said to me: ‘Louis you need to smile more when you play’. When the kids say that to you, when you’re older and have more experience, you say: ‘Hang on a minute’. But I realised it was so true. During his career, he could be cheeky in the way that he spoke to people, and people just could not understand and got frustrated because they were not in his league. He’s so above everybody that, when he speaks normally, it sounds strange for everybody. It’s amazing. His power and speed … the skills were one thing that are important in a career, but analysing when to do it - the timing and the precision - nobody can do that
2020 06 11 Retrieve
[Former France and Manchester United striker Louis Saha says Mbappe is ‘the most valuable player on Earth’, and claims it is only natural clubs such as Real Madrid should be sniffing around] He’s completely in control of his own destiny. He’s already a man at his young age. He’s very mature, he knows what he wants. He doesn’t hide and that’s to his credit. At his age he manages to defy physics, he goes super fast. Anything we do in the normal way will be different for him, period. I think he’s an exceptional player who makes the biggest clubs dream, which is normal. He’s the most valuable player on Earth. So, it’s normal for him to dream about things that other people or players wouldn’t understand
[Saha understands why such talk has endured, particularly given Mbappe has just two years remaining on his contract] I think that at some point, when you’re in a club like Paris which is still developing, which is not at the level of Real, Barca or other clubs like Juventus, inevitably, without disrespect to the club … it will always remain a rumour. As long as he doesn’t sign [a new contract], it will always remain a rumour. Because he’s a great player, he has to deal with it
2020 06 11b Retrieve
[Fellow Frenchman Saha says Pogba, who has recovered from the injuries that have disrupted his season, is now determined to contribute to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team when English football resumes this month] He’s one of the best players in the world. He had a tough season plagued by injuries. He came back very motivated, that’s what some of the players told me. When I talk to him on the phone, he’s super motivated, so I really want to see not a new Pogba, but Pogba with support. I don’t think he was supported. Now he has Bruno Fernandes next to him, who’s another leader, another creator. I’m really excited about that sharing of the responsibilities, I really want to watch that team.
[Saha, a United player from 2004 to 2008, accepts Pogba will be linked with other clubs at the end of the season] The season is almost over and with the transfer market, his name will probably be in the box. But he’s very motivated, he’s incredibly talented, he already proved himself, but now he has a better platform to improve and shut down the critics, sometimes justified
[Saha praised Martial’s development this season, in which he has become a regular scorer for United] I’m a real fan of Anthony. I was frustrated maybe a year ago because I knew his potential but, on the pitch, I saw him lost left or right. The guy, he can do anything, he’s got huge potential
2020 06 12 Retrieve
[Louis Saha says Marcus Rashford has changed his attitude to become a proper leader for Manchester United] Yes, I think the attitude, the drive, the actual consistency, all those things are leadership qualities. You said that sometimes it’s really hard for a striker to lead and, if you do, you need that. You need those three: consistency, drive, and, of course, talent. What is very important is having that dedication to actually look around and grab someone who needs to be grabbed and shout at them. All those things are essential. They don’t have that platform as much as I had when I was playing. I had Roy Keane, Phil Neville, Gary Neville, Rio [Ferdinand], Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, [Paul] Scholes, [Ryan] Giggs, all those players. You could rely on those guys. There are definitely four or five players who are very important to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. I would say that, based on [his] record, he is not young anymore, almost because he started really young. He’s one of the starters for England. And Rashford, as much as we can compare to Anthony [Martial] has done the same. The attitude… I’m not saying they had a bad attitude; they had the attitude that was in line with what Manchester United needed at the time. Maybe this attitude was okay when you had leaders around like proper players who win trophies and all that, and it was fine. Maybe I was like this at the time, but I had players to do what I can’t do. I had to actually evolve and be a leader. When I spoke to Scott McTominay, he was young as well, he had to do it. All those players who made that improvement process for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were very important, and I think for Rashford, the introduction of [Harry] Maguire was important to give that kind of confidence aspect. That’s why you give the platform for Rashford to make the difference all the time because he can do it because his work rate is amazing and that thing he maybe missed in one year because maybe he thought ‘I’ve got my position, I’m respected, I’ve got my status so I don’t need to do this or that’. Those things can be a bad sign for those playing behind you. Now you can see he is a proper leader.
2020 06 15 Retrieve
[Louis Saha has expressed his belief that Jadon Sancho would be a good fit for Manchester United. Asked if the England international would be a good signing for his old club] Totally, yes. He is a player that is uncatchable, he’s clever, quick, very precise. He’s got the legs, the stamina, the quality. He’s very creative for that type of player. When you have all those things, like I said about speed and creativity, but precise as well. So, imagine how deadly these things are. You can’t stop the guy and at the same time, he is very precise because he knows how to stop when passing the ball. It’s really hard because players, for example, Anthony [Martial] and [Marcus] Rashford, it can be hard for them because most of the time they’re going so quick so it’s hard to deliver the good pass like Juan Mata would do. Sancho has got that ability to address the right passes, the right weight of the pass because of his intelligence
2020 06 24 Retrieve
[Louis Saha says Marcus Rashford and Kylian Mbappe are definitely in the same bracket] Ability-wise? Yes. They’re both very fast players, they have the technical ability to get out of situations where they’re surrounded by two or three defenders
In terms of positions, Marcus and Kylian are quite similar. They like to play out wide but have also played up top. Kylian’s strength is that he is very direct, all the time. He doesn’t think twice. When he makes runs, you have to give him the ball, he’s so quick. That kind of directness is something we’ve also seen from Rashford. When he started, he was asking questions of defenders – ‘are you quick enough and good enough to keep me quiet for 90 minutes?’ In terms of quality, they’re definitely in the same bracket. Mbappe has been able to achieve more consistency and approach the game without having to think too much. With United, Rashford has been part of a team in transition, so he couldn’t really express himself. He had to be a leader when perhaps it wasn’t his strength at first. He had to build qualities which should not have been his initial focus. Mbappe has taken advantage because he’s been able to play with PSG players who are at the very top level, so he’s been able to build confidence and try different things, a platform that Rashford hasn’t had so far
2020 06 24b Retrieve
[Louis Saha says Manchester United would be stupid not to try and sign Harry Kane this summer] When you’re talking about Harry Kane – a proper striker. When you see how many goals he scores each season, I would be stupid not to consider him. He’s a world-class striker. I know Werner is quite young, but he’s a prolific goalscorer. There’s definitely talent out there in the league and we have to catch up, we need a guaranteed 30-goal striker who is able to create some magic out of nothing, like Van Persie was able to do, removing the burden of having to play well as a side. This is what wins titles. There are six to eight sides competing at the top, plus, there’s so much quality everywhere now, you need competition within the team too