Lionel Messi is being "isolated" at Paris Saint-Germain, according to former team-mate Thierry Henry.

Messi arrived from Barcelona in a blockbuster free transfer at the start of the season, but the record six-time Ballon d'Or winner is still finding his feet with the Ligue 1 giants.

While Messi has scored three goals in three Champions League appearances for PSG, the 34-year-old is yet to score or assist a goal in Ligue 1 this term after Sunday's Le Classique stalemate at Marseille.

In the league, Messi has created one big chance to go with five opportunities created from open play as Henry – who played alongside the Argentina captain at Barcelona – highlighted his struggles.

"He [Messi] is isolated, he is on the ball less," Arsenal and France great Henry told RMC Sport.

"I wouldn't say he's sad, but he's isolated. I prefer him through the middle.

"I'm having trouble with Leo out on the right. In the middle, he can set the tempo.

"Something needs to be found in order to get Mbappe, Neymar and Messi to play together."

Henry added: "I don't think he can make the difference on the right, but then I don't have the exact details from the tactical standpoint.

"Obviously when you stay high up and you get out of the way, you won't have an impact. Then you have fewer balls going towards him."

The St Louis Cardinals named Oliver Marmol as their new manager to replace the departed Mike Shildt, making the 35-year-old the youngest skipper in MLB.

St Louis dismissed Shildt earlier this month, despite the Cardinals' franchise-record 17-game streak which saw them storm into the MLB postseason.

Marmol served as St Louis' bench coach under Shildt last season, has been part of the team's staff since 2017 and is a former Cardinals draftee and minor leaguer.

"Oli is a career member of the Cardinals organisation, and someone who has built excellent working relationships with our players, coaches and staff members at all levels," Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a statement on Monday.

"We believe that he possesses strong managerial skills that will allow for the continued success of our team."

The Cardinals parted ways with Shildt due to "philosophical differences", despite a win percentage of 55.9 across three seasons and a 92-win 2021 campaign.

Marmol, who is younger than active Cardinals Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina, becomes the youngest manager since Eric Wedge, when he took charge of the Cleveland Indians in 2003.

The Houston Astros will be without ace Lance McCullers Jr. throughout the World Series due to a forearm strain.

McCullers – a World Series champion in 2017 – declared himself unavailable for the best-of-seven MLB showpiece on Monday, with the Astros-Atlanta Braves opener scheduled for Tuesday.

The starting pitcher left Game 4 of the American League Division Series (ALDS) against the Chicago White Sox due to forearm tightness and sat out the entire American League Championship Series (ALCS) clash with the Boston Red Sox.

"We're hoping that in a couple weeks, when I would pick up my normal offseason workout routine and things of that nature, that I won't have many restrictions," McCullers said as he expects to be ready for Spring Training in 2022.

"And then we can just flow into pitching in January. [Dr. Neal] ElAttrache has seen the MRI, things of that nature. He told us that he doesn't believe anything is wrong with the UCL, anything like that. Just a pretty solid forearm strain that I had there in Chicago.

"We knew that it was less than a one percent chance that I would have a role in this series, but there was no point to write me off until we had to."

An All-Star during Houston's World Series run in 2017, McCullers enjoyed the best season of his career as the 28-year-old finished with a 3.16 ERA – eclipsing his 3.22 mark in 2015.

McCullers achieved a career-high 185 strikeouts with a 13-5 win-loss record in 2021.

In his first start against the White Sox in the playoffs, McCullers kept the Chicago franchise scoreless through 6.2 innings with four strikeouts.

McCullers pitched 4.0 innings of one-run ball against the White Sox in Game 4, while striking out five batters.  

"The worst thing is I just feel like I can't be there for the team in the way they need me the most, which is on the field," McCullers said.

"…When you have a team like that, and you've been to the postseason so many times, and the World Series is your goal, Spring Training and the season is almost just something you have to do because this is where you want to be, this is where you hope to be.

"For me to not be able to pitch when I feel like these are the moments that I dream of, the moments I’m kind of built for, is probably the worst part."

New York Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson will miss between two to four weeks with a posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) strain.

Jets head coach Robert Saleh announced the injury news on Monday, with Wilson facing up to a month on the sidelines following Sunday's 54-13 loss to the New England Patriots.

Wilson – the second pick in this year's NFL Draft – got hit by Patriots linebacker Matt Judon on a pass attempt early in the second quarter.

"Thankfully, it's not a serious injury," Saleh told reporters.

Saleh added: "I don't think it's a setback. I think it's always good to be able to step away and watch the offense through the lens of another quarterback."

Wilson, who was six-of-10 passing for 51 yards against the Patriots, has completed 57.5 per cent of his passes for 1,168 yards with four touchdowns and nine interceptions in six games.

His completion percentage is second-worst in league, only ahead of Chicago Bears rookie Justin Fields (57.5).

Wilson is also tied for the most interceptions in the NFL, level alongside Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes.

The Jets are 1-5 this season, third in the AFC East behind the Buffalo Bills (4-2) and Patriots (3-4).

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy has tested positive for coronavirus, he announced on Monday.

Nagy's positive COVID-19 result came after the Bears returned home from Sunday's 38-3 rout at the hands of reigning NFL Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Chicago's special teams co-ordinator Chris Tabor will step in to run team meetings during Nagy's absence.

"This is something that for us, it's a reminder for all of us to be extremely cautious and to understand where we're at," Nagy told reporters via Zoom.

"We've seen it with other teams in the league and society in general, so we're working through that."

The Bears are 3-4 this season following back-to-back defeats against the Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers.

Elijah Wilkinson, Caleb Johnson, Jimmy Graham and Robert Quinn are the four players on the Bears' reserve/COVID-19 list.

Nagy added: "I feel pretty good. Again, you come in in the morning and it's something where every morning on Monday, you come in, you're following protocols, it's what we do.

"So when I got the call this morning from our head trainer, Andre Tucker, you try to be prepared. We're still working through some of the team.

"But that's a good sign for sure. We need to make sure that we do everything we're supposed to do here in regards to the protocols."

Andy Murray beat Hubert Hurkacz at the third attempt this year to advance to the second round of the Vienna Open.

Having lost to world number 10 Hurkacz in both Cincinnati and Metz, Murray claimed a hard-fought victory that took two hours and 40 minutes over three sets.

Hurkacz has enjoyed a brilliant 2021, winning three singles titles, but despite forcing a decider, went down 4-6 7-6 (8-6) 3-6 on Monday in a defeat that dealt a blow to his ATP Finals hopes.

"My movement has been getting a little better with each match," Murray said. "It was a good match that could have gone either way. It was a good win in tough circumstances."

"A lot of my movement is about anticipation and when you're not playing many matches – like I haven't been in recent years – you don't read the play quite as well.

"Now I'm starting to see the ball a little earlier and starting to react a little quicker, which means I will start to chase more balls down."

The Scot has been drawn against Carlos Alcaraz, who beat the 34-year-old's fellow Briton Dan Evans in straight sets. Murray defeated the Spanish teenager in a thrilling tussle at Indian Wells earlier this month.

Third seed and 2021 Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini also made it through, beating Alexei Popyrin 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 to avoid an upset after a keenly contested first set.

Meanwhile, seventh seed Alexander Bublik claimed a comfortable 6-3 6-4 win over Evgeny Tyurnev at the St. Petersburg Open.

Sebastian Korda and Jan-Lennard Struff also progressed in Russia.

Few things in the NFL are as important as continuity.

Teams that develop an understanding through the experience of consistently lining up with the same players have a distinctly better shot of enjoying success than those who are constantly chopping and changing.

Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase already had a well-established rapport from their time at LSU, in which they combined for 20 passing touchdowns in 2019 as a high-powered passing game helped the Tigers surge to a National Championship.

The Cincinnati Bengals banked on that partnership translating to the pro game. A year after taking Burrow with the first overall pick in 2020, they passed on the top offensive linemen in the draft, much to the bemusement of many observers, to select Chase fifth overall.

Their faith in the mind meld between quarterback and wide receiver has, to this point, been handsomely rewarded.

Burrow threw for a career-high 416 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday while Chase went for 201 yards and a score on eight catches to help the Bengals emphatically brush aside the Baltimore Ravens 41-17 and take the lead in the AFC North.

With Cincinnati sitting pretty at 5-2, doubts over whether Burrow could showcase the required progress after the knee injury that prematurely ended his rookie year are a thing of the past. Meanwhile, Chase is in hot pursuit of history and looks a near-lock for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Separated by a year, Burrow and Chase remain firmly on the same page, and they are helping a well-balanced Bengals team write an exciting new chapter in the story of a franchise that has predominantly been a tale of its shortcomings.

 

Burrow joins exclusive group

Burrow, having racked up 406 yards and three scoring throws in a meeting with the Cleveland Browns last year, became the fourth player with two games with at least 400 yards and three touchdown passes within his first 20 career outings. 

He joins a select club also featuring Patrick Mahomes, Nick Foles and Billy Volek.

Given the contrasting careers experienced by those three quarterbacks, that achievement is no guarantee of future success.

However, the displays Burrow has put on show through seven games suggest he is on the right path to vindicating his selection as a first overall pick and becoming a top-tier NFL quarterback.

Burrow does not have the strongest arm in the league, but he can beat defenses with his accuracy and his poise, both of which came to the fore against the Ravens.

He delivered an accurate well-thrown ball on 80.6 per cent of his passes against the Ravens, according to Stats Perform data. That was only just above the league average of 79.8 for the week but it was the highest among quarterbacks who threw 10 passes to have averaged at least nine air yards per attempt.

Burrow finished the game with 11 air yards per attempt, illustrating his willingness to push the ball deep regardless of his perceived deficiencies in arm strength compared to some of the league's best.

And he remained accurate and aggressive in the face of pressure, his composure and intelligent movement in the pocket allowing him to excel even with Ravens pass rushers in his vicinity.

Burrow's well-thrown percentage under duress was 81.8 per cent, while he averaged 13.55 air yards on his 11 pass attempts with pressure.

Frustrating the Ravens with his ability to evade defenders in the pocket, Burrow's cool was exemplified by the Bengals' first touchdown of the game, which saw him shuffle to his left to avoid the monstrous figure of Calais Campbell after a play-action fake and uncork a perfect deep ball to an open C.J. Uzomah.

His prowess in that area has enabled Burrow to thrive while negating the issues on a still problematic offensive line, and having a receiver on a record-setting pace who has put concerns over his skill set to bed has significantly aided the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner's cause.

 

Chase on course for history

The Bengals selected Chase after a pre-draft process that saw plenty of pundits voice their doubts about a player who opted out of the 2020 college football season and who often relied more on physicality than his route-running to defeat the coverage of opposing cornerbacks.

Yet across the first seven games, Chase has made the Bengals' selection look astute by posting 754 receiving yards and scoring six touchdowns.

Chase's total puts him second in the league in receiving yards and means he has surpassed Harlon Hill (685 in 1954) for the most such yards by a player in his first seven career games all-time.

Averaging 107.7 yards per game, he is on track to smash the rookie receiving yards record set by former LSU team-mate Justin Jefferson, who finished the 2020 season with 1,400.

Chase is on pace for 1,830 yards and he is producing at such a rate in part because of the prowess he has displayed as a route-runner.

Going against an All-Pro cornerback in Marlon Humphrey, who went into Week 7 having allowed receivers to get open on only 19 of his 72 coverage matchups, Chase excelled at creating separation.

With 32 seconds left in the first half, Chase beat Humphrey's press coverage through selling an outside release and cleverly using his hands to render the corner's attempt to jam him immaterial as he got free over the middle for a 26-yard catch and run, setting Cincinnati up for a go-ahead field goal.

But Chase saved his best for the game-breaking play of the contest. Initially stemming outside as he lined up against Humphrey again, Chase showed his lower-body flexibility with a fluid break back to the inside on the slant. He then adjusted to a pass thrown slightly behind him before using his balance and body control to avoid three tackle attempts and proceeded to gallop free for an 82-yard score from which the Ravens never looked like recovering.

Announcer Kevin Harlan's description of Humphrey being "in a blender" could hardly have been more accurate and it encapsulated what Chase has blossomed into at the next level.

Producing a big play on 41.1 per cent of his targets – the sixth-highest rate among receivers with at least 25 targets – Chase is a wideout who can discombobulate even the most accomplished NFL corners, and more defenders seem likely to suffer the same fate as Humphrey as the Bengals plot a long-awaited return to the playoffs.

Defense defying expectations

Cincinnati's rise back to prominence is not all about Burrow and Chase, though.

They have played the most substantial role in the Bengals putting up 6.22 yards per play on offense, the third-best average in the league.

Yet a Bengals defense that held the Ravens to their lowest points total of the campaign is also worthy of significant praise.

Cincinnati's defense is allowing 5.14 opponent yards per play, the fourth-fewest in the NFL, the Bengals doing an excellent job of putting their opponents behind the sticks.

Indeed, only the Carolina Panthers (48) have forced more negative plays from their opponents than the Bengals (47).

The combination of an efficient offense boasting a receiver adept at delivering explosive plays and a defense that excels at creating plays where their opponents lose yardage is a winning formula that can lift the Bengals to stunning upsets over well-established contenders like the Ravens.

It remains to be seen whether it can be sustained, but a franchise that at regular intervals in its history has been known for poor personnel decisions and underwhelming performances is being rewarded for making the right choice in this year's draft and seeing its roster compete with rivals that entered the season viewed as existing on another level altogether.

It's way too early to declare the Bengals a complete team. Seven weeks of evidence is not enough for an organisation that has not enjoyed a winning season since 2015. However, what can be said with some certainty is Burrow, Chase and a defense performing well above expectations have put the Bengals in a position where results akin to what they produced in Baltimore will not be a surprise for much longer.

Jil Teichmann suffered a shock exit in the first round of the Transylvania Open as Anastasia Gasanova came from behind to win 4-6 6-0 7-5.

The competition's fourth seed and world number 39 started off well against Russian Gasanova, who is only ranked 146th by the WTA, but was crushed in the second set and was unable to recover in the decider.

It is a disappointing result for the Swiss, who made it to the final of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati in August, losing to world number one Ashleigh Barty.

Ana Bogdan won 7-6 6-4 on home turf against Ivana Jorovic and will likely play US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the round of 16 if the third seed can beat Polona Hercog on Tuesday.

Raducanu is still without a coach after parting with Andrew Richardson, and she faced the media on Monday, saying: "I am going to find my tennis, I just need a little bit of time.

"I don't think there is any pressure on me. I feel like everyone should just be a little patient with me."

Bogdan will also expect compatriot and top seed Simona Halep, with the two-time grand slam champion facing another Romanian in Elena Gabriela-Ruse on Wednesday, to join her in the next round.

Meanwhile, fifth seed Clara Tauson enjoyed a comfortable 6-2 6-2 win over Stefanie Voegele in the Courmayeur Open in Italy.

Sixth seed Alison Riske and 10th seed Dayana Yastremska both won in straight sets to ensure there were no upsets in today's games, beating Ankita Raina and Vitalia Diatchenko respectively.

Davante Adams could miss the Green Bay Packers' meeting with the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday after being placed onto the team's COVID-19 list.

Adams has been in exceptional form for the Packers this season, who moved onto 6-1 with a 24-10 win over the Washington Football Team on Sunday.

He scored one of the Packers' three touchdowns and finished the game a team-high 76 receiving yards. 

The wide receiver has gone over for three TDs so far in 2021, tallying up 744 receiving yards in total and recording 52 receptions.

However, there is now a big chance the 28-year-old may be out against the 7-0 Cardinals.

Green Bay could already be without defensive coordinator Joe Barry for the game in Arizona, with the coach having tested positive for coronavirus.

Barry is vaccinated, meaning he will be able to resume contact with the team once he has recorded successive negative tests. However, that is not expected to happen before Thursday and it seems Adams is in a similar position.

Per agreed-upon NFL-NFLPA policy, clubs are not permitted to comment on a player's medical status. If a player is placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, they have either tested positive for coronavirus or have been in close contact with an infected person or persons.

According to ESPN, Adams will be able to play on Thursday if he is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, shows no symptoms of the virus and returns two negative results, with a spacing of at least 24 hours between each test.

The Athletic reported that Adams is fully vaccinated, though there are still several hurdles the wide receiver would have to overcome in order to be available. 

Thursday's game sees the top sides in the NFC West and NFC North meet. Arizona and Green Bay have not played against each other since 2018, when the Cardinals triumphed 20-17.

Adams scored a touchdown in that game, finishing with eight receptions and 93 receiving yards.

Marco Rose is under no illusions as to the importance of Erling Haaland to his team, but insisted Borussia Dortmund will not "whine" about the star striker's absence.

Dortmund coach Rose confirmed last Friday that Haaland would be out for several weeks due to a hip flexor injury.

Haaland has scored 13 goals in 10 appearances across all competitions so far this season, having missed three matches due to a muscular problem. He returned to feature in a 3-1 win over Mainz on October 16, netting twice.

The 21-year-old's absence was not felt as Dortmund claimed a 3-1 win at Armenia Bielefeld on Saturday, with Rose's team sitting second in the Bundesliga.

A home match against Ingolstadt in the DFB-Pokal comes up next on Tuesday, though Haaland was the main subject of Rose's pre-match news conference.

"Erling is incredibly important for us and we miss him, no question," said Rose.

"I once said that we would have to reinvent ourselves [in his absence]. But we don't have to do so by that much. We will not start all over again.

"We might not have Erling's physique up front now, but we have other types of players. In Bielefeld, we played with three strikers and had different ideas.

"We'll be happy when Erling does come back. But again, we have to get used to [his absence] for a few games now. So we shouldn't whine about it but find solutions and we are currently working on that right now."

 

Replacing Haaland?

Haaland has scored nine league goals already this season, averaging a strike every 60 minutes in the Bundesliga.

The Norway international has had 30 shots, registering a 30 per cent conversion rate, outperforming his xG of 6.13 by some distance. Haaland has also stepped up creatively, already providing three assists, the joint-highest in Rose's squad alongside Marco Reus.

Donyell Malen replaced Haaland up top against Bielefeld, though failed to get on the scoresheet from two attempts, one of which was a missed opportunity in the eighth minute from what was Dortmund's second-best chance of the game from open play, according to Opta (xG value of 0.232).

Malen arrived from PSV in the close-season, but in nine Bundesliga games, he is yet to find the net, from 11 attempts in total. 

Reus is another option in a central role, though the Dortmund captain is usually at his best deployed as one of the wide attackers in Rose's 3-4-3 or 4-3-3 systems.

The experienced forward leads Dortmund for chances created (16) but has scored just two goals, slightly underperforming his xG (2.26) in his eight Bundesliga appearances so far.

Youssoufa Moukoko could be utilised, however, he has only played 78 minutes across five league matches under Rose. The teenager became the youngest ever Bundesliga player when he made his debut in November last season, before becoming the competition's most junior scorer the next month.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta believes that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has taken his game to the next level and "prefers" this version of the striker.

After a poor campaign by his standards in 2020-21, Gunners captain Aubameyang is the club's top scorer in the Premier League with four goals from eight appearances, but his manager has been equally as impressed with the 32-year-old's improved all-round game.

The Gabon forward ranks second at the club for possession won in the final third in the Premier League (four) behind only Emile Smith Rowe (nine).

Aubameyang has also outperformed his expected goals (xG) value of 3.08, suggesting his finishing has been above the standard that would be expected from the chances he has been presented with.

He ranks fifth in Arsenal's squad for chances created (eight), providing one assist from those opportunities. 

Arteta feels that Aubameyang is giving off an energy that he has never done before and is becoming a more complete player in the process.

"I have never seen Auba transmit what he is doing now," Arteta told Arsenal's official website ahead of Tuesday's EFL Cup tie with fellow Premier League side Leeds United, against whom Aubameyang netted a hat-trick last season.

"Apart from the goals, the celebration when they put the ball in the net, do you see the way he runs, the purpose he has to press the ball, and when he takes it his movement, his link, how is leading the game - that is when he is changing the rest, not when he is static and then he puts the ball in the net. I prefer this Auba.

"It is clicking. It is a combination of realising that his role has to go well beyond [scoring]. What was good, or very good, two or three years ago, with his role in this team, at this club, it is not enough. He had to take a step forward."

Arteta explained that both Aubameyang and fellow striker Alexandre Lacazette have a responsibility to lead a young squad on and off the field.

"I would say the same with Laca, look what he is transmitting, not just doing or playing, what he is transmitting," Arteta continued. "For me, that is really, really important.

"They lead by example and not only there but as well at the training ground. Certain things, a role they could have had three years ago in the squad, now it has changed.

"The group's age is a little bit closer [together] so they are experiencing most of the same things and they talk a lot about it. Then we have the senior players that they have to lead and they have to take that role, and they are doing that in a different way.

"There are players now that on that pitch that they are able to transmit something and change certain behaviours and attitudes in other players. That is contagious, and for me that is leadership."

Lacazette has played a bit-part role so far this season but was handed his first league start of the campaign as Arsenal beat Aston Villa 3-1, producing an impressive display despite not getting on the scoresheet himself.

Afghanistan started their T20 World Cup Super 12 campaign in style with a 130-run rout of Scotland.

Having stunned Bangladesh en route to topping Group B to qualify for the Super 12, Scotland will have had hope of causing an upset in Sharjah.

However, any prospect of them doing so quickly diminished as Afghanistan dominated with bat and ball.

Hazratullah Zazai (44), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (46) and Najibullah Zadran (59) propelled Afghanistan to a total of 190-4 that always looked well beyond Scotland, who quickly wilted in the face of a mammoth chase.

Mujeeb Ur Rahman took career-best figures of 5-20 and Rashid Khan claimed 4-9 to bowl Scotland out for just 60.

The victory sees Afghanistan surge to the top of Group 2 at this early stage.

 

Afghanistan reach new heights

Scotland were swiftly on the back foot as Afghanistan piled on 55 runs for the loss of just one wicket in the powerplay and Mohammad Nabi's side did not let up.

Zazai and Zadran each cleared the rope three times and Gurbaz hit four sixes, the stand of 87 between the latter duo pivotal in Afghanistan posting their highest T20 World Cup score.

Scotland in a spin

Scotland's highest successful chase is 181 but they saw a promising early start fade badly as Afghanistan's spinners took hold.

George Munsey (25), captain Kyle Coetzer (10) and Chris Greaves (12) were the only players to reach double figures as Mujeeb and Rashid ripped through the line-up. A meeting with Namibia is Scotland's most realistic chance of a Super 12 win.

Manchester United's 5-0 mauling at the hands of Liverpool could prove to be the beginning of the end, or indeed the final straw, for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The team have performed poorly this season, failing to win any of their last five domestic games (losing four) and requiring last-minute winners from Cristiano Ronaldo to beat Villarreal and Atalanta in the Champions League following an embarrassing 2-1 loss to Young Boys.

Sunday's embarrassing scoreline set a number of unwanted records, including United's largest margin of defeat against Liverpool at home and the first time the Red Devils had trailed by four goals at half-time in the Premier League.

Solskjaer only signed a new three-year deal with an option for an additional year in July, but disappointing results have sparked speculation about the Norwegian's future.

If Solskjaer is indeed replaced, who might take his spot and be charged with guiding United back to the top? Stats Perform takes a look at some of the favourites.

 

Antonio Conte

Conte seems, in many ways, to be an ideal appointment for United. For starters, the Italian is a free agent, having left Inter after winning Serie A last season – breaking Juventus' nine-year grip in the process and ending the Nerazzurri’s long wait for a league title.

The first three of those nine consecutive league titles for Juventus were won by Conte himself, who took a Bianconeri side that had not won the Scudetto since their revoked success in 2005 and established an era of dominance, going undefeated in the league in his first season (2011-12) and setting the Serie A points record (102) in his third.

His achievements in Italy are coupled with experience and success in England, winning the Premier League with Chelsea in 2017 (racking up an impressive 93 points) and claiming an FA Cup the year after.

Conte does have a reputation for being a volatile coach, but his track record of titles will surely be tempting for United, who have not won the Premier League since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013.

However, former United defender Gary Neville does not think the ex-Italy coach is a good fit for the club, telling Sky Sports: "Conte's available but I wouldn't bring him to Manchester United. I wouldn't bring him here now. I don't think Antonio Conte is a fit for Manchester United."

Zinedine Zidane

Another free agent – and a particularly glamorous option – is Zinedine Zidane. The Frenchman's second stint as Real Madrid boss came to an end in May and he remains available.

Zidane won the Champions League three times in a row in his first spell as Los Blancos head coach and also claimed two LaLiga titles over his five years in the role.

The 49-year-old is the record holder for most consecutive LaLiga away wins (13) and the longest unbeaten run in Spanish football (40 games) and United would surely see him as an upgrade on Solskjaer.

He has also previously coached Cristiano Ronaldo, to great success, and might be the perfect candidate to get United's stars working together cohesively. 

 

Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers is less decorated than the previous two names on this list, but has a wealth of experience in the English game and has done an admirable job in his current post as Leicester City head coach, guiding the Foxes to their first-ever FA Cup last season as well as successive fifth-placed Premier League finishes.

He also claimed back-to-back domestic trebles in his two-and-a-half seasons with Celtic, but his association with United's rivals Liverpool may prove to be an obstacle, having come within two points of winning the Premier League in his second season on Merseyside.

Mauricio Pochettino

Pochettino has reportedly long been admired by United, being regularly linked with a move to Old Trafford in his five-year spell in north London, having taken Tottenham to a Champions League final in that time.

However, the Argentine only joined Paris Saint-Germain in January and signed a contract extension until 2023 in July, and is coaching a team that includes Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, not to mention the rest of PSG's star-studded squad.

Never say never, but this deal would certainly be a difficult one for United to pull off given the timing.

 

Erik ten Hag

Ten Hag has impressed in his time in the Netherlands, winning two Eredivisie titles with Ajax and embarking on a memorable run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018-19, knocking Madrid and Juventus out before falling going out on away goals to Pochettino's Spurs.

Ajax have been entertaining and effective under Ten Hag and are four points clear at the top of the league once more this season, beating title rivals PSV 5-0 on Sunday.

However, it remains to be seen if the Dutchman – who has also been linked with Newcastle United – would be willing to leave mid-season.

Following a complaint about the unveiling of a banner by Crystal Palace supporters in their Premier League clash with Newcastle United at Selhurst Park on Saturday, police assessed the concerns and have confirmed that they will be taking no further action.

The banner criticised the Premier League's Owners' and Directors' Test in light of the recent takeover of the Tyneside club by a Saudi consortium.

A large sheet depicted caricatures including a man in traditional Arab dress holding a sword covered in blood, a mock-checklist of the Owners' and Directors' Test, a bag of money and the letters "P.I.F" written on the man's clothes.

The banner also showed a magpie, seemingly representing Newcastle, whose nickname is the Magpies.

A member of the public made a complaint to police following the game, with a statement from Croydon MPS saying "On Saturday 23 October police received a report of an offensive banner displayed by Crystal Palace fans. Officers are assessing the information and carrying out enquiries. Any allegations of racist abuse will be taken very seriously."

However, Croydon MPS confirmed on Monday that, following an assessment, they would be taking no further action. 

The match ended in a 1-1 draw, with a spectacular Callum Wilson overhead kick cancelling out Christian Benteke's opener for the home side.

Newcastle are currently searching for a new manager following the recent departure of Steve Bruce.

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