Everton are set to make the first move for Carlo Ancelotti.

The Toffees will reportedly begin talks with the Italian following his departure from Napoli on Tuesday.

Ancelotti was sacked three hours after a 4-0 win over Genk, which confirmed the Serie A club's place in the Champions League knockout rounds.

 

TOP STORY – EVERTON TO RIVAL ARSENAL FOR ANCELOTTI

Everton will waste no time in opening contract talks with free agent Ancelotti in the wake of his Napoli exit, according to Sky Sports.

Managerless Arsenal are also said to be considering the 60-year-old former Chelsea, Milan and Real Madrid boss as a possible replacement for Unai Emery.

But the Toffees could get the jump on their Premier League rivals after Shanghai SIPG's Vitor Pereira pulled out of the race to succeed Marco Silva, although David Moyes reportedly remains an option to take charge on an interim basis.

Ancelotti has won the Champions League three times as a coach and secured league titles in England, France, Germany and Italy.

ROUND-UP

- Napoli could announce the appointment of Gennaro Gattuso on a short-term contract as soon as Wednesday, according to CalcioMercato.

- Ex-Everton manager Moyes and former Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton are in line to replace Manuel Pellegrini at West Ham if the Hammers lose to Southampton on Saturday, says The Mirror.

- Manchester United are considering Ajax's Donny van de Beek and Saul Niguez of Atletico Madrid as they prepare for Paul Pogba's end-of-season exit, reports the Daily Mail.

- The Daily Mail also claims Leicester City have opened contract talks with rumoured Manchester City target Caglar Soyuncu, who has been in good form this season.

- Barcelona have cooled their interest in Lautaro Martinez due to Inter's demand for €100million, according to ESPN.

Erik ten Hag blamed bad luck for the 1-0 loss to Valencia that ended Ajax's Champions League campaign on Tuesday.

Rodrigo Moreno's 24th-minute goal and Chelsea's 2-1 win over Lille in London condemned last season's semi-finalists to third place in Group H.

Hakim Ziyech squandered a good chance to equalise and Valencia goalkeeper Jaume Domenech made two saves at the death, leaving Ten Hag convinced a "miracle" had taken place in the Spanish side's favour.

Ajax finished with 10 points from six games and are now destined for the Europa League.

"In football you don't always get what you deserve. That's how I summarise this match," Ten Hag said.

"The Spanish press called it a 'miracle' that Valencia qualified, I think they're right. Luck wasn't on our side this Champions League group stage and luck wasn't on our side tonight either.

"Nevertheless, we got 10 points and played some good football. We did that tonight too. But on this big stage we made one mistake that led to the goal.

"After that we did create some chances, but we weren't efficient enough to finish them. Now we're left empty-handed. We did reach our personal goal, to play European football in 2020 too, but we wanted and we should have done that in the Champions League.

"That we're now knocked out is a very big disappointment."

Ten Hag described the setback as a different feeling to the heartbreak of last season, when their thrilling run came to a dramatic end at the hands of Tottenham.

"I do see comparisons with last year, but the feeling is different," he said.

"Last year, being knocked out was much more intense, because we were so close to the final. The league game after that, we could crown ourselves champions. So that explains the difference in emotion.

"But it's very clear that it's a big blow for everybody in the dressing room. Everyone's very disappointed. But we also know that we have a huge league game coming up on Sunday [against AZ]."

Rodrigo Moreno labelled Valencia's win over Ajax and progression to the last 16 of the Champions League a "miracle".

The Spain forward scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory in Amsterdam on Tuesday, sending Valencia through from Group H and eliminating last season's semi-finalists.

Rodrigo, whose team held on despite Gabriel's late red card, lauded Valencia's effort.

"We put in such an effort against Chelsea and didn't get the job done, but this side doesn't get tired of working miracles and we've done another tonight," he said, via UEFA.com.

Rodrigo's 24th-minute goal sent Valencia into the Champions League knockout stage for the first time since 2012-13.

The 28-year-old was thrilled for Valencia, who are two-time runners-up in Europe's premier club competition.

"I'm delighted because this side is a big family. I don't have the words to describe my team-mates," Rodrigo said.

"These last three years we've created something special and we're so together.

"We've taken a great club back to where it's not been for a long time."

Valencia progressed to the last 16 of the Champions League with a 1-0 win at Ajax, who will play in the Europa League in 2020 after finishing third in Group H.

Rodrigo Moreno scored the only goal in the first half as Albert Celades' men secured a surprise victory that means they finish top of the group, ahead of Chelsea in second spot, despite Gabriel's late red card.

Ajax reached the semi-finals last season, knocking out Real Madrid and Juventus during a thrilling run, but they were edged out by the LaLiga side at the Johan Cruijff Arena on Wednesday.

Rodrigo headed wide in the second minute but scored the decisive goal midway through the first half, taking advantage of Joel Veltman playing him onside.

Ferran Torres shaped to shoot from outside the box but instead played a clever disguised pass into the feet of Rodrigo, who fired into the roof of the net.

Jaume Domenech reacted well to keep out a cross-shot from Hakim Ziyech that looked to be curling inside the far post, then Andre Onana denied Rodrigo at the other end.

Rodrigo continued to offer Valencia's main threat and went close again in the 55th minute, and Ziyech wasted a clear chance from six yards as Ajax grew increasingly nervous.

Noa Lang's acrobatic effort flew wide before Erik ten Hag sent on Klaas Jan Huntelaar, and Domenech had to save from Lisandro Martinez and Ziyech at the death.

Gabriel then saw red for appearing to headbutt Ajax captain Dusan Tadic in added time, but the 10 men held on to qualify.


What does it mean? Europa League beckons for Ajax

Ajax started the campaign with successive 3-0 wins, putting themselves in a dominant position, but they will play in the Europa League next year despite collecting 10 points.

The sales of Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt to Barcelona and Juventus respectively sapped the Eredivisie giants of their star power, with Valencia recovering from their 3-0 home loss in the reverse fixture to squeeze through.


Rodrigo stars in shock win

Spain striker Rodrigo hit the only goal in a 1-0 win away to Chelsea at the start of the group stage, and his strike on Tuesday again made the difference for Valencia.


Ziyech sitter costs Ajax

Few clear chances were created by the hosts, with the best of them falling to Ziyech midway through the second half. Set up by Donny van de Beek, Ziyech did not even hit the target from eight yards out, slicing his first-time shot wide of the post.


What's next?

Real Madrid visit Valencia in LaLiga on Sunday, the same day Eredivisie leaders Ajax go to AZ.

Champions League holders Liverpool need at least a point against Salzburg to secure their progression from Group E, though they will come up against an Erling Haaland in sensational form.

Salzburg's youngster has found the net in all of their group games so far this season and will become the first player to convert in his first six Champions League appearances should he score for Salzburg against the Reds.

Barcelona have top spot in Group F secured but Inter still have it all to play for on Tuesday as they look to edge out Borussia Dortmund, and Antonio Conte's side have no Lionel Messi to worry about, with Ernesto Valverde resting Barca's talisman.

Chelsea will look to end a five-match winless run at home in the Champions League to ensure their place in the last 16, while Dortmund are aiming to reach the second round in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2015.

Salzburg v Liverpool 

8 - Salzburg's Haaland has scored eight goals from five appearances in this season's Champions League. No player has ever scored in their first six matches in the competition.

11 - Since the start of the 2017-18 campaign, the two players with the most Champions League assists are Liverpool duo Roberto Firmino and James Milner, with 11 each.

16 - Only Tottenham (17) and Bayern Munich (21) have scored more goals than Salzburg's 16 in this season's competition.

2 - Liverpool have only won two of their 11 most recent Champions League away group stage games, losing four of the past five. The Reds last won consecutive group matches on the road in the competition back in September 2008.

Napoli v Genk

6 - Carlo Ancelotti appears to be under pressure at Napoli, though his side are unbeaten in their past six home matches in the Champions League.

14 - Dries Mertens, who wears number 14 for Napoli, has been involved in 14 goals in his past 14 Champions League starts, scoring 10 times and providing four assists.

Inter v Barcelona

0 - Inter have never lost a home game against Spanish teams in the Champions League or European Cup.

5 - Lautaro Martinez is aiming to become the first Inter player to score in five successive Champions League/European Cup appearances.

0 - Barca have failed to score in two Champions League matches this season. Never before in the competition have they fired blanks in three group games in a single campaign.

Borussia Dortmund v Slavia Prague

13 - Dortmund are unbeaten in 13 of their past 15 Champions League group stage matches at Signal Iduna Park, winning eight times.

3 - Julian Brandt already has three assists for Dortmund in Group F. The playmaker failed to assist a single Champions League goal for Bayer Leverkusen in 21 appearances between 2014 and 2017.

22 - Slavia have failed to score with each of their 22 most recent shots from open play in the Champions League, with their goal in a 3-1 defeat to Inter on matchday coming via a penalty by Tomas Soucek.

Benfica v Zenit

1 - Victory for Zenit would see the Russian side reach the knockout stages in successive appearances in the Champions League for the first time.

29 - Both teams have scored 29 per cent of their Champions League goals from outside of the box so far this season.

Lyon v RB Leipzig

88 - Leipzig have scored 88 per cent of their Champions League goals this season in the second half of matches, while their only goal in the first half came in added time against Zenit.

80 - Dayot Upamecano has made 80 progressive ball carries upfield this season in the UEFA Champions League - more than any other player.

Chelsea v Lille

5 - Chelsea are winless in their past five Champions League games at Stamford Bridge. It is their longest run without a home win in the competition.

10 - Willian has netted 10 goals for Chelsea in the tournament. If he scores against Lille, it would make him their outright fourth-highest scorer in the competition, behind Didier Drogba (36), current coach Frank Lampard (23) and Nicolas Anelka (12).

1 - Lille have taken just one point in the Champions League this season. Under the current group stage format, the only French side with fewer in a single campaign in the competition was Marseille in 2013-14 (0).

Ajax v Valencia

9 - Since the start of last season, only three teams have managed more wins in the Champions League than Ajax, who have nine victories under their belts in that time.

52 - Excluding own goals, Hakim Ziyech has either scored or assisted 52 per cent of Ajax's goals in the Champions League in 2019.

143 - Quincy Promes averages a goal every 143 minutes in the Champions League, placing him behind only Ruud van Nistelrooy (109) in terms of Dutch players in the competition.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson has been crowned the first ever winner of the Yachine Trophy at 2019 Ballon d'Or ceremony in Paris.

The 27-year-old beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Ederson to be crowned the best keeper in the world.

Alisson played a crucial role in Liverpool's Champions League success and started six times for Brazil in their triumphant Copa America campaign.

He also won the Golden Glove in the Premier League last season with 21 clean sheets as the Reds fell just short of Manchester City in the title race.

Barcelona keeper Ter Stegen finished second in the voting, while Alisson's compatriot Ederson was third.

Kepa Arrizabalaga, Hugo Lloris, Jan Oblak, Samir Handanovic, Manuel Neuer, Andre Onana and Wojciech Szczesny were also in the running for the inaugural award.

Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt has been named as the winner of the 2019 Kopa Trophy at this year's Ballon d'Or ceremony.

Awarded to the best player in the world under the age of 21, De Ligt inherits the award from France and Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe.

De Ligt has enjoyed a sensational 2019, guiding Ajax to the Eredivise title and the semi-final of the Champions League, where they ultimately suffered a last-gasp defeat to Tottenham.

His stunning form for the Dutch side led to a reported €75million move to Juventus in July, with the Serie A champions seeing off competition from a number of European rivals for his signature.

The 20-year-old has made 15 appearances across all competitions for Maurizio Sarri's side this season, scoring one goal.

Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt has been named as the winner of the 2019 Kopa Trophy at this year's Ballon d'Or ceremony.

Awarded to the best player in the world under the age of 21, De Ligt inherits the award from France and Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe.

De Ligt has enjoyed a sensational 2019, guiding Ajax to the Eredivise title and the semi-final of the Champions League, where they ultimately suffered a last-gasp defeat to Tottenham.

His stunning form for the Dutch side led to a reported €75million move to Juventus in July, with the Serie A champions seeing off competition from a number of European rivals for his signature.

The 20-year-old has made 15 appearances across all competitions for Maurizio Sarri's side this season, scoring one goal.

Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann has been voted 18th in the final list for the 2019 Ballon d'Or, a fall of 15 places from last year.

Griezmann finished behind only Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo 12 months ago after winning the World Cup with France and impressing for Atletico Madrid at club level.

However, an underwhelming end to his Atletico career and a tough start to life at Barcelona - who he joined in a €120million deal in July - has seen him drop down the list.

It marks the second time the 28-year-old has slipped from third to 18th, having done likewise in 2017.

Griezmann's Barcelona team-mate Marc-Andre ter Stegen finished 24th and Frenkie de Jong, who spent the first half of the year with Champions League semi-finalists Ajax, was voted 11th in the standings.

Three Liverpool players missed out on the top 10, with Georginio Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino in 26th, 19th and 17th, respectively.

Fellow Premier League side Manchester City were also heavily represented in the 30-11 rankings, as were Dutch champions Ajax following their run to the final four of last season's Champions League.

Lionel Messi and Virgil van Dijk are the frontrunners to win the most prestigious individual accolade in world football during Monday's ceremony.

Ballon d'Or 30-11 list in full:

=28. Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain)

=28. Donny van de Beek (Ajax)

=28. Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)

=26. Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)

=26. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

=24. Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)

=24. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)

23. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)

22. Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

=20. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)

=20. Dusan Tadic (Ajax)

19. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

18. Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona)

17. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)

16. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

15. Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax)

14. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

13. Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)

12. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

11. Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona)

Ajax and Morocco favourite Hakim Ziyech does not believe the arm injury he sustained during the closing stages of Wednesday's 2-0 win over Lille is serious.

Erik ten Hag's side moved to the top of Champions League Group H with a match to play after a superb display at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, where Ziyech crowned a brilliant team move to open the scoring inside two minutes.

He turned provider with an inch-perfect cross to set up Quincy Promes after half-time and also had a goal disallowed for handball after a VAR review.

That incident appeared to discomfort Ziyech before he made way in the 85th minute, but the 26-year-old offered an upbeat assessment when he spoke to Veronica TV after the match.

"My arm is still sore and is difficult to lift it up. I'll just have to see how it goes," he said.

"I banged it into the defender, and I also got the ball smashed into it, but it should be okay."

On Ajax's performance, Ziyech added: "What a great start, because our first attack resulted in a goal. But after that we got a bit sloppy.

"They were playing a long-ball game, and their centre forward was causing us some problems.

"But they only had a couple of big chances and otherwise we controlled the game. We definitely deserved to win.

"I know where Quincy is going, and I try to put in crosses that are impossible to defend against. And his finish was also fantastic.

"We know each other so well. We don't even need to talk to each other on the pitch. We'll go out to win the final game, that's why we play football."

Qualification is now firmly in Ajax's hands when they host Valencia next month, the Eredivisie leaders boasting 10 points to the LaLiga outfit's eight.

Los Che battled to a thrilling 2-2 draw against Chelsea - who are also on eight points and next face a Lille side with only pride to play for.

"Unfortunately we didn't score when we were on top," said Lille head coach Christophe Galtier, who saw Jonathan Bamba and Jonathan Ikone miss glorious chances either side of half-time.   

"In all five games, we've lacked a clinical streak and in this beautiful but cruel competition we were punished for it."

Those openings were noted as a cause for concern by Ajax boss Ten Hag.

"We defended rather well but we gave them too many chances by allowing them too much space in which to play," he said, as quoted by UEFA.com.

"It's something we still need to work on. Otherwise, it was a fully deserved win. We scored two great goals and could have had more.

"The win reflects our domination, even though our opponents had opportunities, which is normal at this level. We were almost perfect tactically."

Ajax relocated their Champions League swagger to go top of Group H with a 2-0 win over Lille.

Erik ten Hag's entertainers took a solitary point from their back-to-back meetings with Chelsea but Hakim Ziyech put them ahead early on at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

A hero of last season's unlikely run to the semi-finals, Ziyech's brilliant goal launched an outing where the Eredivisie champions were typically dazzling and vulnerable.

Lille's finishing let them down, however, with Jonathan Bamba and Jonathan Ikone the main culprits, before Quincy Promes made sure of victory.

Ajax's opener came after 94 seconds and in delightful fashion.

Wonderful one-touch passes from Sergino Dest and Donny van de Beek ended with Zakaria Labyad picking out skipper Dusan Tadic, whose lay-off allowed Ziyech to dispatch an unerring strike past Mike Maignan.

The goalscorer returned the favour when Tadic had a powerful angled effort saved in the 12th minute, while Victor Osimhen's theatrical tumble inside the Ajax area underlined Lille's early desperation.

Bamba tracked back diligently to make a vital interception as a lurking Dest hoped to put Ajax 2-0 up, but the Lille winger had a moment to forget in the 31st minute when he blazed over from six yards with the goal at his mercy.

Lille resumed on the front foot, only for Ikone to join Bamba by producing a horror miss.

Osimhen muscled past Perr Schuurs after Lisandro Martinez's poor header and cut back for Ikone to lift inexplicably beyond the crossbar with the outside of his right boot.

Martinez stepped out of defence with a composure belying his early second-half efforts and found Ziyech on the right to curl a cross towards Promes for a smart back-post finish.

Lille stuck gamely to their task, although Andre Onana's superb double save from Bamba and Yusuf Yazici ensured their endeavours ended without reward.

Ziyech was denied a deserved second by a VAR handball verdict as Ajax kept pushing and Van de Beek thudded a powerful effort against the post.

What does it mean? Advantage Ajax but all to play for

Chelsea and Valencia's earlier thrilling 2-2 draw at the Mestalla contributed to an ideal Wednesday for Ajax, who lead the way with 10 points from the Blues and Los Che on eight apiece. It means a draw with Valencia in Amsterdam next month will see them through. Lille only have pride to play for against Chelsea due to a solitary point from five matches.

Ziyech stars for Amsterdammers

Ten Hag will hope a grimacing Ziyech departing holding his arm five minutes from time was not on account of any serious problem. As is often the case when Ajax hit top gear, the Morocco forward was a delight. An over-enthusiastic fan invaded the pitch to embrace Ziyech towards the end of the second half and you could definitely see where the youngster was coming from.

Bamba and Ikone serve up video nasties

Lille were rarely able to exercise any control against supreme opponents, yet continued attacking with gusto. It made Bamba and Ikone's horrible misses all the more lamentable.

What's next

Ajax travel to FC Twente on Sunday, a day after Lille host Dijon in Ligue 1.

Lionel Messi is bidding to score at home in the Champions League for the first time this season as Barcelona take on Borussia Dortmund.

The Argentina international fired his latest blank in the 0-0 draw with Slavia Prague three weeks ago, leaving his side with work to do if they are to progress to the last 16.

Barca will be through if they beat Dortmund or if they draw and Inter fall to defeat at Slavia in the other Group F contest taking place on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, holders Liverpool host Napoli at Anfield aiming to avenge a 2-0 defeat from the reverse fixture, while Chelsea will reach the knockout stages with victory against Valencia.

Below, we have highlighted the key data ahead of Wednesday's eight matches.

Barcelona v Borussia Dortmund

12 - Barcelona forward Messi scored with his last shot at Camp Nou in the 2018-19 Champions League season. He has attempted 12 without success this term, failing to score in both home matches. Should he not to score in this game, it would be first time since October 2011 he has failed to find the back of the net in three consecutive home games in the competition (a run of four).

4 - Borussia Dortmund's Achraf Hakimi has scored four Champions League goals this season – only one Moroccan player has ever netted more in a single campaign, with Marouane Chamakh scoring five for Bordeaux in the 2009-10 campaign.

Slavia Prague v Inter

3,119 - Slavia Prague have given 3,119 minutes to Czech players in the Champions League this season – the most by players of the nation of the club they are representing in the competition this campaign.

3 - Lautaro Martinez has scored in his last three Champions League appearances for Inter. He could become the fifth Argentinian to score in four consecutively, after Hernan Crespo (2002), Lionel Messi (six occasions), Sergio Aguero (2019) and Ezequiel Lavezzi (2013).

Liverpool v Napoli

2 - Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has scored in his last two Champions League appearances – the only Englishman to score in three consecutive matches for the Reds is Steven Gerrard (five in a row in 2007-08).

3 - Napoli head coach Carlo Ancelotti was the last manager to win an away Champions League match at Anfield, leading Real Madrid to a 3-0 victory in October 2014. No coach has won more away Champions League games in England than Ancelotti (three – level with Jose Mourinho and Massimiliano Allegri).

Genk v Salzburg

0 - Genk remain winless in all 16 of their Champions League matches (W0 D8 L8). It is the fifth longest winless run in the competition's history and the longest since December 2017 (Maribor – 17 matches).

5 - Salzburg striker Erling Haaland will become just the third player to score in his first five Champions League appearances if he scores in this match. The two to do so are Alessandro Del Piero (1995, Juventus) and Diego Costa (2013-14, Atletico Madrid).

Valencia v Chelsea

3 - Valencia have won three of their last four home Champions League games (W3 D0 L1), having lost four of their previous five (W1 D0 L4).

14 - Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham has had more shots than any other Chelsea player in the Champions League this season (14). However, he has found the net with just one of those shots and has scored as many own goals as he has goals (one).

Lille v Ajax

10 - Lille are winless in 10 home Champions League matches (W0 D4 L6). Only two teams have ever had longer home winless runs – Spartak Moscow (11 between 2001 and 2006) and Steaua Bucharest (13 between 1996 and 2013).

10 - Ajax's Hakim Ziyech has been involved in 10 goals in his last 12 Champions League appearances (four goals, six assists). The Moroccan has either scored or assisted in each of his last six away games in the competition (two goals, five assists).

RB Leipzig v Benfica

30 - RB Leipzig are one of only two teams yet to give a single minute to a player aged 30+ in the Champions League this season, along with Genk. In his 10 games as coach in the competition, Julian Nagelsmann has only used one player aged 30 or older – Hungarian striker Adam Szalai for Hoffenheim last season.

10 - Benfica have lost all 10 of their away matches in Germany in the European Cup/Champions League, facing six different teams without success.

Zenit v Lyon 

2 - Zenit have lost two of their last three home European matches (excluding qualifiers) – one more than they had lost in their previous 21 home games (W18 D2 L1).

4 - Lyon's Memphis Depay has scored in all four Champions League matches this season. No Lyon player has ever scored in five consecutive appearances, while only three Dutchmen have scored in five or more – Roy Makaay (2002), Ruud van Nistelrooy (2002, 2003 and 2007) and Arjen Robben (2013).

Marco van Basten has apologised after he was heard saying "sieg heil", a phrase synonymous with a Nazi salute, live on Dutch television.

Former Netherlands, Ajax and AC Milan forward Van Basten was working as an analyst for Fox Sports on Ajax's Eredivisie clash with Heracles on Saturday.

Prior to the match, Fox presenter Hans Kraay interviewed Heracles coach Frank Wormuth in German.

However, Kraay's attempt at conducting the interview in German amused Van Basten, who said: "Sieg heil, not so beautiful, pancake."

That sparked significant controversy, with "sieg heil" having been a phrase commonly used in Nazi Germany before and during World War II.

Van Basten has subsequently apologised, insisting he did not mean to cause offence.

"I didn't mean to shock people, I just wanted to ridicule Hans' German, but I'm sorry," the 55-year-old said.

Van Basten's comments follow on from Excelsior player Ahmad Mendes Moreira receiving racist abuse from Den Bosch supporters in a second-tier match last weekend.

The incident prompted Netherlands star Georginio Wijnaldum to vow to leave the pitch if he was racially abused, as well as calling on the Dutch government to act.

Protests were also held across the top two tiers in the Netherlands this weekend, with players standing still for the opening minute of each match.

Edwin van der Sar has signed a new four-year contract as Ajax's general manager, seemingly ending any chance of him moving to Manchester United.

Van der Sar returned in 2012 to the Dutch club he served as a player, joining as a marketing director before being elevated to his current key leadership role four years later.

Since Van der Sar took up that position, Ajax have taken a significant step towards being the European force they were when the former goalkeeper played for the club in the 1990s.

"Very happy with my contract extension at this beautiful club," he wrote on his official Twitter account.

"We've had some difficult moments, but the good times are definitely back. And of course we want more in the future!"

Although last season's Eredivisie title was their first since 2014, Ajax reached the Europa League final in 2016-17 and then captured the imaginations of neutrals en route to the Champions League semi-finals last term.

Long renowned for their impressive academy, Ajax have been particularly effective at bringing through talented players in the past few seasons, while their recruitment has also been praised in recent times.

Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong are among those to have come through and been sold on at a massive profit, while David Neres, Hakim Ziyech, Nicolas Tagliafico, Lisandro Martinez and others highlight Ajax's excellent talent identification.

Van der Sar's overseeing of such areas saw him become one of the favourites to land a similar role at another of his former clubs, Manchester United, when executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward was reportedly looking into hiring a director of football in 2018.

However, United have provided precious few updates on their search for that position, with Van der Sar now apparently out of reach if the Old Trafford club do ultimately decide to fill the void.

Arsenal's 2-0 loss to Leicester City could spell the end of Unai Emery's tenure.

The Gunners failed to win for the fourth Premier League match in succession on Saturday, testing the patience of club officials.

According to reports, contact has been made with Luis Enrique to assess his interest in the job.

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL MAKE LUIS ENRIQUE ENQUIRY

It could be a case of one Spaniard out, another Spaniard in at Emirates Stadium.

El Confidencial's Kike Marin claims Arsenal head of football Raul Sanllehi has sounded out Luis Enrique about replacing Unai Emery as head coach.

The ex-Barcelona and Roma boss has been out of football since stepping down as Spain's head coach due to personal reasons in June, two months before the tragic death of his young daughter, Xana.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United have joined the race for in-demand Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana, according to the Mirror. The Red Devils are also rumoured to be chasing Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen and Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, their former player.

- As rumours linking Eriksen to Old Trafford re-emerge, Tottenham are preparing to move for a former United man. The Mirror say Spurs are plotting a £50million bid for Memphis Depay, who has flourished since leaving the Premier League for Ligue 1's Lyon.

- The same British tabloid believes Chelsea could splash £70million on towering Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic if their transfer ban is lifted in January.

- Olivier Giroud could be leaving Chelsea for a fee of around £5million. The Daily Express say Antonio Conte's Inter and Major League Soccer side Vancouver Whitecaps are prepared to offer the France international an escape route.

- Giroud could depart Stamford Bridge for Italy and Mario Pasalic might remain there. The Chelsea-owned midfielder is on loan at Serie A outfit Atalanta, who are considering forking out the €15million required to keep him, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

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