Pep Guardiola has accepted he made a "mistake" when questioning why Manchester City fans did not fill the Etihad Stadium for their last home game.

City's treble-winning boss faced a rare backlash from his own club's supporters following Sunday's FA Cup tie against Fulham, having spoken of his surprise at the 39,223 attendance.

The clash with Manchester United in Wednesday's EFL Cup semi-final second leg is expected to be much closer to the 55,000 capacity.

Speaking about City fans after the 4-0 win over Fulham, Guardiola said that "hopefully they will support us more" in the United game.

However, some responded by quickly pointing to a recent heavy load of fixtures, and the cost of attending every game, and their stance has prompted Guardiola to reflect on his comments.

The former Barcelona head coach said he had not realised the match was televised live by the BBC, with the terrestrial coverage a likely factor in the below-average crowd figure.

"Never was it my intention to offend them, they are part of us," he told a news conference on Tuesday when discussing the fans' reaction.

"Since I arrived here from day one until the last day, what I want is to fight and play as well as possible to see the Etihad full every single day, every single day.

"So it belongs to us to play well, to seduce them to come. The only reason why we do our job is not for the titles, it's to go to the Etihad Stadium and see it absolutely full and the people together, enjoying the games together."

A number of City fans have stressed it is not the team's performance level, but instead the expense involved in buying tickets and getting to games, that means they may sometimes stay away.

Guardiola stressed he understood their situation, saying: "It's not necessary to tell me because I was part of that when I was a little boy with mum and dad. I know exactly what happens."

And he looked to explain his weekend remarks by pointing to how significant a game he considered the Fulham fixture - saying he felt the FA Cup held more appeal to City than European glory.

"Since I've arrived here, I learned from English football how important the Premier League and the FA Cup are - more important to this club than the Champions League... much, much more," Guardiola said.

"We knew it through the club and I experienced it.

"It was my mistake: I thought it's Sunday, one o'clock, today it will be full. I didn't know it was on BBC One, not Sky."

Guardiola still wants to see City's home full for every game.

He said: "We tried to do our best to let them be proud for our team, and I will try it again to push them to be with us as much as possible.

"If it's possible to be every game full, full, full, it would be better."

Pep Guardiola has urged his Manchester City players to keep their cool in the heat of Wednesday's derby against Manchester United as they bid to seal a place in the EFL Cup final.

Armed with a 3-1 lead from the first leg at Old Trafford, City approach the return fixture in the semi-final as firm favourites to reach the March 1 showpiece at Wembley.

However, City know all too well how potent United can be on their day, having suffered a home league defeat to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men in December.

Guardiola vowed he and his team have never been complacent, and he is optimistic that attitude will be enough to deliver an aggregate success.

"It's Man United. They can do it and have done it," Guardiola said. "In this kind of game, against this kind of team, with this incredible history, they have pride and I know, I know how difficult it would be to reach the final."

Speaking about the need to concentrate against neighbours who have endured a difficult Premier League campaign so far, Guardiola indicated he trusted his players to bring the right application.

"Never was my team complacent during four years - never," he said. "We have to be careful about their skills, we have to be careful about the counter-attack, we have to be careful about the set-pieces, we have to be careful about how good they can play if we let them play.

"We will have to defend. They don't have anything to lose so they are going to attack. We will have to control our emotions. We have to try to score goals."

Asked about possible squad rotation, a fired-up Guardiola stressed managers should be allowed to select their teams as they feel appropriate.

That issue has picked up traction in the wake of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp saying it would be the club's under-23 side that face Shrewsbury in their FA Cup fourth-round replay at Anfield, given the first team will be taking their mid-season break.

"Listen," Guardiola began. "We accept the schedules, the competitions, the games every two or three days, but don't tell the managers which selections you have to choose, please. It's our job."

City have a doubt over centre-back Aymeric Laporte but are expected to field a strong side, being eager to give United no hint of weakness.

They could have won by a greater margin at Old Trafford in the first leg, when Red Devils boss Solskjaer said City's strong line-up was a sign of their "respect" for United.

Guardiola said in Tuesday's news conference: "I show respect for my opponents from day one, from when I started with the second team at Barcelona to today, sat in front of you here.

"I took that selection (at Old Trafford) and tomorrow I will take another selection."

Fernandinho will not be leaving Manchester City at the end of the season after the Brazilian secured a one-year contract extension.

The 34-year-old was seemingly set to depart in July, with his previous deal approaching its conclusion, but City have ensured he will be around for at least another season.

An intelligent combative midfielder, Fernandinho joined City from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013 and has been a revelation, appearing in at least 29 Premier League matches in every campaign.

He has remained a key figure this term, playing 20 of the champions' 24 top-flight games, filling in at centre-back for many of those due to City's defensive injury crisis.

And choosing to remain at the club for another season was a straightforward decision.

"It was easy," he told City's official website.

"There is a time in your life when you don't think just about yourself, but especially about your family and your kids. They were one of the reasons I decided to sign another contract.

"I am happy, my family is happy, so I hope the City fans are happy as well."

City are already set to lose David Silva this year, with the Spaniard previously confirming his plan to return to Spain to be closer to his family.

Fernandinho has won three Premier League titles at City, though he looks unlikely to add to that tally this season with Liverpool 16 points clear of Pep Guardiola's men at the summit.

Fernandinho will not be leaving Manchester City at the end of the season after the Brazilian secured a one-year contract extension.

The 34-year-old was seemingly set to depart in July, with his previous deal approaching its conclusion, but City have ensured he will be around for at least another season.

An intelligent combative midfielder, Fernandinho joined City from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013 and has been a revelation, appearing in at least 29 Premier League matches in every campaign.

He has remained a key figure this term, playing 20 of the champions' 24 top-flight games, filling in at centre-back for many of those due to City's defensive injury crisis.

City are already set to lose David Silva this year, with the Spaniard previously confirming his plan to return to Spain to be closer to his family.

Fernandinho has won three Premier League titles at City, though he looks unlikely to add to that tally this season with Liverpool 16 points clear of Pep Guardiola's men at the summit.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to use Manchester United's famous Champions League comeback against Paris Saint-Germain as inspiration when his side take on Manchester City in the EFL Cup.

United go into Wednesday's semi-final, second leg at the Etihad Stadium trailing 3-1.

That is a similar predicament to the one they found themselves in against PSG in March, when they overturned a 2-0 first-leg loss at home to progress in the Champions League.

Solskjaer knows United need a flawless display if they are to repeat the feat, but draws hope from that PSG encounter as well as United's 2-1 Premier League derby win in December.

"It looked like it was over at half-time," Solskjaer said of the first leg. "I have to say the second part of that first half they outplayed us for a while and it's hard, but then we got the goal, back in it.

"We hoped for another one but we have got to go into the memory bank and think PSG. 

"We have done it against good teams before and that gives us hope and the game in December [against City] gives us hope.

"We can't just defend, we have to try to keep the ball and make them run after the ball. 

"It has to be a perfect performance but we've done amazing things before at this club and the PSG game is, for me, a very, very good example of how you can make a two-goal deficit work in your favour. We need the first goal."

Solskjaer did acknowledge United's Etihad win over City came under different circumstances.

He added: "They are getting players back as well, we hit them last time when they were struggling a bit and since then they have played really well.

"We have lost Scott [McTominay] and Marcus [Rashford] since that game, a little bit lighter in the playing department.

"It has to be a perfect performance to win with two goals against such a good team away from home. For us it's not about away goals, we just need to score two more than them.

"It would be good not to concede first, because that makes it less difficult."

Paul Pogba has had his ankle cast removed as he steps up his attempt to return from injury for Manchester United.

The France international has only started one Premier League match since August in a campaign heavily interrupted by his fitness woes.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was unable to put a timescale on Pogba's return to action ahead of Wednesday's derby against Manchester City in the EFL Cup.

But Solskjaer reported Pogba has made a key step in his recovery following surgery, as has fellow midfielder Scott McTominay, who is no longer wearing a knee brace.

"It's hard to put timescales on long-term injuries because they also need the training before [being] injury-free and need to be fitter," Solskjaer told reporters.

"Paul's had his cast off and Scott took his brace off so at least they can now start doing some work on the grass."

Reports have suggested Pogba and McTominay are both targeting injury returns after the mid-season break, with United to play Chelsea on February 17 after a 16-day stint without a game.

After suffering a small issue in United's 6-0 FA Cup win over Tranmere Rovers on Sunday, Nemanja Matic is in a race to be fit for the EFL clash with rivals City, who lead the tie 3-1 after a win at Old Trafford this month.

Solskjaer added: "Just Nemanja got a slight problem, so he had to come off at half-time. He has played loads of football so hopefully we can get him back on the pitch, but I haven't seen him. 

"Let's see how he is in training. To make sure we give him the best possible chance for Wednesday night we took him off. I think he should be all right but let's see."

Eric Bailly is pushing for a return to the line-up, while David de Gea and Aaron Wan-Bissaka will be back after getting a rest against Tranmere.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has backed the much-maligned Alexis Sanchez to return to Manchester United at the end of the season after his loan at Inter and "prove us all wrong".

Sanchez was sent to Inter at the start of the season after a woeful first 18 months at Old Trafford, as he scored just three Premier League goals in 32 matches.

The Chile international had arrived to much fanfare from Arsenal in a swap deal involving Henrikh Mkhitaryan in January 2018, but he failed to meet expectations.

He is yet to make much of an impact at Inter either, making just five Serie A appearances – though injuries have played a part.

Reports had suggested Inter players were keen on Sanchez staying regardless, but Solskjaer is seemingly expecting the forward to return to Old Trafford at the end of the season, as he appeared resigned to not bringing in any reinforcements this month.

After being asked about United's hopes of signing reported target Bruno Fernandes, Solskjaer – who was speaking ahead of the EFL Cup semi-final second leg with Manchester City – said: "I haven't got any updates for you on transfers, I think it was a waste [of a question].

"I gave you the option. I haven't got anything to say now, my mind is on the game.

"We've got players here that we're working hard to get back as well, and if there is something out there, then the club is pursuing that and it's difficult.

"I can't remember how many good ones [signings] we've brought in with good deals in January.

"Henrik [Larsson] was good, Nemanja [Vidic] and Patrice [Evra], I'm talking about it's hard, very hard, the clubs don't want to lose their best players.

"And then Alexis will come back in the summer and will prove us all wrong."

One player heavily linked with leaving the club is Marcos Rojo, who had emerged as a target for his former team Estudiantes in Argentina – their sporting director and one-time United midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron previously confirming the interest.

But Solskjaer has no plans to part with the Argentina international.

"I wouldn't think so," was Solskjaer's response when asked if Rojo could leave this month. "Marcos has been injured and is working to get back and get fit again."

Liverpool will play Chelsea in the fifth round of the FA Cup if they come through a replay with Shrewsbury Town.

Jurgen Klopp's Premier League leaders were stunningly held to a 2-2 draw by the third-tier club on Sunday.

The Reds will be expected to come through the replay at Anfield but face a tricky test in the last 16 should they do so in the form of a trip to Stamford Bridge to face Frank Lampard's Blues.

Holders Manchester City were handed an away tie at Championship promotion chasers Sheffield Wednesday, while Manchester United could renew acquaintances with record goalscorer Wayne Rooney if his Derby County side defeat fourth-tier Northampton Town in a replay.

There will be an all-Premier League tie regardless of who comes through the replay between Tottenham and Southampton, the winner set to host relegation-threatened Norwich City.

Arsenal, who have won the competition a record 13 times, can secure their place in the fifth round on Monday with victory at Bournemouth, whose south-coast neighbours Portsmouth await the victor.

The fifth-round ties will be played from March 2-5 with no replays.

Draw in full:

Sheffield Wednesday v Manchester City
Reading/Cardiff City v Sheffield United
Chelsea v Shrewsbury Town/Liverpool
West Brom v Newcastle United/Oxford United
Leicester City v Coventry City/Birmingham City
Northampton Town/Derby County v Manchester United
Southampton/Tottenham v Norwich City
Portsmouth v Bournemouth/Arsenal

Pep Guardiola quickly turned his focus towards Manchester United after Manchester City thrashed Fulham 4-0 in the FA Cup fourth round.

The game as a contest was effectively over inside the opening eight minutes, with visiting captain Tim Ream dismissed for a foul on Gabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan converting the consequent penalty.

Bernardo Silva doubled the hosts' and holders' advantage before the interval at the Etihad Stadium, with Jesus' quickfire second-half double putting the gloss on things.

Next up for City is the visit of bitter rivals United in the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final, with Guardiola's side boasting a 3-1 aggregate lead.

Reflecting initially on the clash with Championship promotion hopefuls Fulham, Guardiola said: "For a few moments, I thought it would be a tough game.

"They're a team with a lot of courage but it was a bit different after the red card. They still tried to play but the game was over at 3-0.

"The determination was always there and we will fight to win each competition.

"Always we score goals and have the ability to score. The problem this season has been conceding some goals, but it's always good to score goals."

Casting his mind ahead to Wednesday's derby, he added: "Next is United and a chance to get to the final and that is our next target."

Fulham boss Scott Parker conceded his side's hopes of an upset were dashed by Ream's moment of madness, the skipper left "devastated" by his curtailed afternoon.

"Everything we planned for we had to change after six minutes because of the red card," he told BBC Sport.

"Tim Ream is obviously devastated. He has been immense for us this season. He made a mistake today. In the heat of the moment, you make decisions and sometimes you make the wrong ones."

Manchester City breezed through to the FA Cup fifth round with a 4-0 win over 10-man Fulham at Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola made eight changes from the Premier League win at Sheffield United, but the promotion-chasing visitors never threatened to loosen City's grip on the trophy they won emphatically with a 6-0 Wembley triumph over Watford in May.

Fulham's task, already sizeable, was made practically impossible by the early dismissal of captain Tim Ream as he hauled Gabriel Jesus down for a penalty converted by Ilkay Gundogan.

Bernardo Silva doubled the hosts' lead before the break in the first meeting between the sides in this competition since 1914.

The London club may wish to leave it another 106 years before their next clash with City, who added another two with a quickfire second-half double from Jesus.

Any hopes Fulham had of springing a shock were dashed after six minutes, Ream pulling down Jesus and Gundogan confidently slotting in the spot-kick.

City naturally dominated and ​Riyad Mahrez showed great feet before his low shot drew a smart stop from Marek Rodak, while Phil Foden thrashed wide at the end of a swift counter-attack. 

The second soon arrived, Silva twisting and turning on the edge of the box before beating Rodak low to his left to bring up City's 100th goal in all competitions this season.

Raheem Sterling replaced Mahrez eight minutes after the restart and the England star clipped the top of the crossbar with his first attempt at goal. 

Scott Parker's side, who beat Aston Villa in the previous round, sat deep and were compact, making it difficult for City to break them down, but their second-half resistance was ended in the 72nd minute by Jesus' header from Joao Cancelo's cross.

The Brazil striker was then in the right place to nod in the fourth three minutes later after Phil Foden's shot was parried into his path.

 

What does it mean? Cup silverware the tonic for top-flight woes

The title race is now in fact a Liverpool procession, leaving cup silverware as the main goal for Guardiola's side, who should at least be confident of claiming second in the Premier League. With an FA Cup fifth-round spot secured and an EFL Cup final berth likely, what price a City treble, as Real Madrid await in the Champions League?

Patient Jesus gets his reward

After missing a penalty against Sheffield United, Jesus was replaced by Sergio Aguero, who promptly scored the winner. He assuaged any lingering frustration from that goalless outing by producing a patient and, ultimately, clinical display to net with both of his efforts on target.

Nightmare for Ream

Parker is likely to have stressed the importance of keeping it tight early on, holding City at bay and frustrating the home fans. Skipper Ream was quick to thwart those plans, his clumsy foul bringing a deserved red card – his first in 306 appearances in English football – and leaving Fulham to face a long afternoon of toil without reward.

What's next?

City host Manchester United in the EFL Cup semi-final second leg on Wednesday, boasting a 3-1 aggregate lead, with a trip to Tottenham in the Premier League to come next Sunday. Fulham return to the bread and butter of the Championship with the visit of Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

Leeds United have signed 19-year-old Ian Poveda from Premier League champions Manchester City.

The England youth international has signed a four-and-a-half-year contract with Marcelo Bielsa's side.

Poveda was part of the Arsenal, Barcelona and Brentford academies before joining City in 2016, but he made only one senior appearance for the club, playing in the 1-0 win over Burton Albion in the second leg of last season's EFL Cup semi-final.

The attacking midfielder, who will wear the number seven shirt, is Leeds' second signing of the January transfer window following the arrival of goalkeeper Elia Caprile from Chievo.

Leeds are second in the Championship, a point behind leaders West Brom and three above Fulham in third.

Pep Guardiola does not appear overly concerned by the prospect of Liverpool shattering Manchester City's Premier League benchmarks, saying: "Records are there to be broken".

City have won the Premier League under Guardiola in the past two seasons and, while they were pushed all the way by Liverpool last term, the 2017-18 success was similar to the Reds' current tilt in its dominance.

Guardiola's side finished on a record 100 points, yet Liverpool have dropped only two points all season and look on course to surpass that total, while also troubling Arsenal's 49-match unbeaten run from 2003-04.

Asked about the prospect of Liverpool claiming such records ahead of City's FA Cup tie against Fulham, Guardiola said: "Yes, it can happen.

"Records are there to be broken. We broke it when someone said we couldn't, and sooner or later it will be broken again. History speaks clearly about that.

"To beat Liverpool? It is not easy. They have found a way to win games."

City welcomed back Aymeric Laporte for the first time since his August knee injury in midweek, playing 78 minutes against Sheffield United in the Premier League.

Guardiola is delighted to be able to call on his star centre-back once more but again stated Laporte will not fix all of City's problems.

"He was good [against Sheffield United]," Guardiola said. "He played a little bit more than 70 minutes for the first game.

"He played well, but he is not going to solve all the problems that we have. He is one more player that we have, and if we believe can use him, we will use him.

"He's a guy who helps us to do our build-up easier, and when that happens, we lose less balls, we concede fewer counter-attacks and that's why we are more stable. Basically it is that.

"He is a guy who is strong in the air, is fast, and has a special personality. His attributes help us to become a better team."

Guardiola, who said City would not be training abroad during the upcoming mid-season break, preferring to stay at home, confirmed winger Leroy Sane is now the club's only injury absence.

The return of Laporte would appear to see teenage defenders Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis moved further down the pecking order, but Guardiola does not anticipate either player going out on loan.

"It is impossible, Eric Garcia is not going to move," he said. "Harwood-Bellis, we didn't speak about that, but no. I think he is going to stay until the end of the season.

"Maybe we need him for the second team. I don't know if he has offers. If there came an offer from the Premier League, maybe we could consider it for his development as a player."

Liverpool's march towards the Premier League title shows no sign of slowing down, as the Reds claimed a hard-fought 2-1 win over Wolves.

Manchester United are clinging to a top-six position after they slid to a 2-0 home defeat to Burnley, the latest in a string of wretched results this season that have sparked an angry reaction from supporters.

While United toil, neighbours Manchester City ground out a 1-0 win at Sheffield United that continued their resurgent league form, with a winning combination delivering the goal for Pep Guardiola's side.

Leicester City might have expected a challenge from the big clubs behind them by now, but the Foxes continue to sit pretty in third place, and a 4-1 win over West Ham continued to make them look immovable from the top four this season.

The midweek Opta data offers detailed insights into the stories behind those results, revealing a string of telling trends and match facts.

 

MANE INJURY DOES NOT DERAIL LIVERPOOL'S CHARGE

Liverpool lost Sadio Mane to injury during the first half in Thursday's clash with Wolves, yet Roberto Firmino struck late on to claim the win as the Reds became just the fifth side in English Football League history to go 40 straight matches unbeaten.

Jurgen Klopp's side have amassed 67 points from a possible 69 in the Premier League this season; this is at least five more than any side in English top-flight history has ever previously had after as many games of a campaign.

Raul Jimenez drew Wolves level after Jordan Henderson's opener, and the Mexican's header ended a run of 725 minutes without conceding a Premier League goal for Liverpool since Richarlison scored for Everton at Anfield in December.

Jimenez also became the third Premier League player to net 20+ goals in all competitions this season, after Sergio Aguero (21) and Raheem Sterling (20).

Since the start of last season, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold has assisted 22 Premier League goals, at least five more than any other player, with 10 of those coming from dead balls, also a league-high.

Firmino, meanwhile, has scored six goals in his last eight games for Liverpool in all competitions, as many as he had in his previous 32 appearances for the club, and all of his 10 Premier League strikes this season have come away from home.

UNITED IN TURMOIL AS CLARETS PUT NEGATIVE SPIN ON OLE REIN

Manchester United may sit fifth, but in terms of points tallies Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's are closer to 14th-placed Newcastle than they are to fourth-placed Chelsea after 24 games.

The league standing is highly vulnerable, given Tottenham, Wolves and even Sheffield United are breathing down United's necks.

Wednesday's 2-0 defeat to Burnley means United now have a negative Premier League win-loss record since manager Solskjaer was given the job on a full-time basis in March.

They had impressed during his caretaker spell, but since Solskjaer went from being a stand-in to the chosen one, their record shows 11 wins and 12 defeats in the Premier League.

United's Old Trafford setback followed their 2-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield, meaning they have suffered back-to-back league defeats for the second time under their Norwegian boss.

Burnley looked to be in freefall just days ago and relegation was becoming a serious concern, but wins over United and Leicester City have lifted them to 30 points - just four adrift of the Red Devils.

PASSPORTS AT THE READY, LEICESTER LOOK BOOKED IN FOR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE RETURN

Catch them if you can! Leicester City had a wobble with defeats to Southampton and Burnley, but Brendan Rodgers' men now sit 14 points clear of fifth place and surely their destiny is a second season in the Champions League.

In the absence of anything approaching a charge from teams outside the top four, it would take a spectacular collapse for the Foxes to miss out, with a 4-1 win over West Ham on Wednesday emphasising their quality.

Leicester have racked up eight wins in 12 Premier League home games so far, their best record at this stage of a season, and the 52 goals they have banged in amounts to their most in the top flight from their first 24 games since the achieved the same tally in 1930-31.

Rodgers and West Ham boss David Moyes were once rivals on Merseyside, in charge of Liverpool and Everton respectively.

While Rodgers eyes success towards the top of the table, Moyes has taken on a relegation battle with a West Ham side who are outside the bottom three on goal difference alone.

Since the start of October 2019, no team have gained fewer points (11) or lost more games (11) in the Premier League than West Ham, and it gets no easier: Liverpool are their next opponents.

At least that game is a home fixture for the Hammers. Moyes' away record in matches against teams starting the day in the Premier League top four is diabolical, winning just one of 50 such games.

KEVIN KEEN TO HELP - DE BRUYNE IS KING OF THE ASSISTS

When Sergio Aguero turned in a cross from Kevin De Bruyne to give Manchester City a 1-0 victory at Sheffield United, it was more than merely two Premier League greats combining to deadly effect.

History, in fact, was made in that motion, with De Bruyne becoming the first player in the Premier League era to provide 15 or more assists in three different seasons.

The Belgian had 18 in 2016-17, 16 the following season, and after an injury-wracked 2018-19 campaign he already has 15 from 23 appearances this term.

The scale of De Bruyne's achievement can be better appreciated by considering the likes of Ryan Giggs, Cesc Fabregas, Dennis Bergkamp and his own City colleague David Silva have been unable to produce at that level so consistently.

Former Wolfsburg playmaker De Bruyne has entered the top 20 of all-time assist providers in the Premier League, and there is no keeping Aguero down either.

Aguero has been directly involved in 43 goals in 43 Premier League appearances against newly promoted teams - scoring 35 goals and assisting in eight more.

It took City until the 73rd minute to make their breakthrough at Bramall Lane, and a lot of the credit for the hosts' resilience went to goalkeeper Dean Henderson, whose first-half penalty save from Gabriel Jesus means he has stopped four of the last eight spot-kicks he has faced in English league football.

Have Tottenham finally found an alternative to Harry Kane?

According to reports, Spurs are in talks to sign Real Sociedad's Willian Jose with just over a week to go until the transfer window closes.

But it could take in excess of £50million to finally end their search for a second out-and-out striker.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS TO DIG DEEP FOR SOCIEDAD STRIKER

Krzysztof Piatek, Islam Slimani and Fernando Llorente have all been linked but Tottenham have now set their sights on 28-year-old Willian Jose, reports the Guardian.

The Brazilian was left out of his side's Copa del Rey clash with Espanyol on Wednesday and could now be headed for north London.

Talks are underway, the Guardian states, although Spurs could be forced to contemplate meeting Willian Jose's €70million (£59m) release clause as Sociedad seek adequate compensation.

The one-time Real Madrid man has scored eight LaLiga goals this term after reaching double figures in each of the previous three seasons.

 

ROUND-UP

- Dani Ceballos has asked Real Madrid to terminate his Arsenal loan and find him a move elsewhere, according to Spanish radio station Cadena SER.

- The Gunners are set to suffer another blow as Ligue 1 outfit Lyon prepare to confirm the €25million signing of rumoured Atletico Madrid target Bruno Guimaraes, reports L'Equipe.

- Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich will allow Philippe Coutinho to return to Barcelona at the end of his loan spell if, as desired, the Bundesliga giants land Leroy Sane and Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz, reports Bild.

- After sealing a deal for Reinier Jesus, Madrid could return to raid Flamengo for 19-year-old forward Lincoln, says Mundo Deportivo.

- Leicester City plan to bolster their Champions League ambitions by splashing £15million on Southampton centre-back Jannik Vestergaard, according to The Sun.

- Serie A side Milan have submitted an 18-month loan offer for Manchester City-linked Florentino Luis, claims CalcioMercato. The 20-year-old defensive midfielder plays for Benfica.

Liverpool may be 13 points clear of reigning Premier League champions Manchester City with two games in hand, but Kyle Walker is not giving up hope of a third successive title.

City secured a 1-0 win over Walker's former club Sheffield United on Tuesday night, cutting the gap on leaders Liverpool, who will extend their advantage to a whopping 19 points with wins at Wolves and West Ham over the next week.

Klopp's unbeaten side have only dropped two points across their 22 games this season and it would require an unprecedented and monumental collapse for them not to be crowned top-flight champions for the first time in three decades.

However, Walker insists he will only accept that fact when it has been realised, and he hopes City can retain the other trophies they won in last season's domestic treble too.

"I'm not going to say it [the title race] is over," he said.

"I'm a professional, this is the job I love to do and I'll keep fighting until mathematically it's over.

"It's going to be a tough job, we know that.

"We are alive in all cups, so hopefully we can get some silverware at the end of the season.

"Last year we won the EFL Cup and the FA Cup, so hopefully we can retain the titles as well."

Walker made his 18th Premier League start of the season at Bramall Lane, where substitute Sergio Aguero's second-half strike downed the Blades.

Despite the loss, Chris Wilder's side have had a fantastic campaign so far following promotion from the Championship last season and they sit seventh in the table, above Tottenham and Arsenal.

Sheffield-born Walker, who came through the Blades' academy before making his senior debut with the club, is delighted to see his old team faring so well.

"I have played against them a few times with different clubs, but it's good to have finally met them in the Premier League," Walker added.

"I wanted to get to the Premier League with my hometown club but it didn't happen.

"I think Chris Wilder has done a fantastic job and they have been outstanding this season."

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