December 2, 2021

James: Molde wanted to face Solskjaer’s Manchester United in Europa League last 32 stage

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The Norwegian champions knew their Europa League fate on Monday but they wanted a reunion with their former manager who is in charge at Old Trafford

Molde striker Leke James is confident of their chances against Hoffenheim in the Europa League round of 32 but he claims they expected a draw with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United.

After finishing second behind Arsenal in Group B, Erling Moe’s side was handed a date with a German Bundesliga club with the first-leg scheduled for February 18 at the Aker Stadion.

Their opponents, Hoffenheim finished at the top of Group L without conceding a defeat, however, Leke is unperturbed by their unbeaten streak and he thinks Molde can advance to the last 16 stage for the first time in the club’s history.

“There is a chance for us to move to the next round,” James told Goal. “We are capable, we have a lot of stars and this is football anything can happen but we will try to do things right and be optimistic.”

The Nigeria striker who is the leading top scorer for Molde with 14 goals across all competitions in this campaign, further revealed the team’s expectation before Monday’s draw in Switzerland.

James stated the Eliteserien club was hoping to get a tie that would reunite them with Solskjaer who left Molde to succeed Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford in December 2018.

Manchester United dropped to the secondary European competition after finishing third in their Champions League group behind Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig.

“Actually, we were expecting the bigger teams because they finished at the top,” he continued.

“Majority of the players were expecting United because of our former coach, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, to have a reunion with him.

“We had a good time with him, he is a great guy and we had great personal experience. I would like to play under him again, hopefully in the future.”

Unfortunately, James might not be present for the Europa League games next year and might leave Erling Moe’s side as a free agent in January with his current deal set to run out at the end of 2020.

The 28-year-old who has been playing in Norway for over eight years, revealed ongoing talks with reigning Norwegian champions and he also confirmed offers for his services.

He said; “We are still on it [contract talks]. I have had a couple of offers from other clubs but Norway is like a home for me, it is second after Nigeria.

“I have spent a lot of years in this country, so I feel at home here but we will see what the future holds.”