Real Madrid are already eyeing a move for Liverpool star Sadio Mane at the end of the season.

Mane has developed into one of the world's best attackers, starring for the Premier League leaders and finishing fourth in the 2019 Ballon d'Or.

Now, another one of Europe's biggest clubs are making initial moves for the 27-year-old.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID MAKE CONTACT OVER MANE MOVE

Real Madrid have spoken to Mane's representatives about a possible move, according to Le 10 Sport.

Mane is contracted at Liverpool until 2023, but appears to be attracting interest from the LaLiga giants.

The Senegal international has scored 14 goals and provided eight assists in 27 games in all competitions this season.

ROUND-UP

- The January transfer window will see Chelsea and Manchester City enter a bidding war for Leicester City defender Ben Chilwell, according to The I.

- Similarities between Moussa Dembele and Didier Drogba have made the Lyon striker a target for Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, according to Sky Sports News, with the 23-year-old having scored 10 goals in 25 appearances for the Ligue 1 side this season.

- Mikel Arteta is keen to assess all of his options as he aims to lift Arsenal back into the top half of the Premier League table, and he is considering a recall for £27million centre-back William Saliba from his season-long loan at Saint-Etienne according to The Mirror.

- Also on Arsenal's to-do list is a bid for promising RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano, who is also a target for Tottenham and Manchester United, according to the Daily Mail.

- Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce wants to bolster his midfield with the addition of Burnley pair Danny Drinkwater and Dwight McNeil, and reports in The Telegraph say Genk striker Mbwana Samatta is also on his radar.

- Carlo Ancelotti said he will wait until January 5 before discussing potential transfer targets with the Everton board and when he does El Desmarque has suggested Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriguez could be one of the names on his list.

Steven Taylor has re-signed with Wellington Phoenix, extending his stay until at least the end of the 2021-22 A-League season.

Former Newcastle United defender Taylor has starred for Wellington since arriving in New Zealand in July 2018.

The Phoenix captain, 33, will remain with the club a little longer after re-signing on Wednesday, while Alex Rufer has also extended his contract.

''Taylor is a natural leader and a very influential player for us, he leads by example both on and off the field," Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay said in a statement.

"He brings an abundance of experience to the club and obviously he's an important player for us moving forward with the direction this club is heading.

''Rufer is a young talented player who has captaincy qualities as well. He had a great season last year and this season he's been very good and influential for us – and he's still a young player so it's great to have him committed to a three-year deal with us.''

Wellington are sixth in the A-League table and host the Central Coast Mariners on Saturday.

Frank Lampard hopes Chelsea will be able to take a huge leap to challenge Liverpool for the Premier League title next season but acknowledges recruitment will be key.

Chelsea served a transfer ban ahead of the current 2019-20 campaign, which was then reduced to ensure the Blues can make signings in January.

Lampard, appointed at the start of 2019-20, will get the opportunity to influence Chelsea's involvement in the transfer market for the first time, but he already has the team in a healthy position.

Chelsea are fourth in the Premier League table, inspired by academy stars Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham, and Lampard hopes their talented prospects can be boosted by new recruits before 2020-21.

"I definitely don't want to declare [a title challenge] at this point," Lampard told reporters ahead of facing Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday.

"Liverpool might have something to say about it - they're 20 points more than us. That has to be the aim.

"The transfer ban was one thing. It gave us a chance to look at the players, see what we've got, look at the youth, and I think that's been good.

"The more and more I see us play, the good and the bad, you change your feeling about how you want to go forward, but the end game is the same. Once we can start bringing players in and the young players hopefully mature, we want to bridge that gap to go up there.

"Whether that can happen next year, I don't know. That'll depend on the work we do and how quickly it hits home, but I'll certainly not leave any stone unturned in how I work to get us there.

"There are too many variables. We'll have to get recruitment right - that'll be a huge deal. It's not just whoever the individual is who comes in but can they help influence the way we want to play and improve the way we want to play.

"Because I've got a clear idea of what that is and it didn't look like the first 30 minutes [against Arsenal]. But we've shown at times this year that we've got a chance."

Lampard is confident Chelsea's transfer plans will be effective as he works with director Marina Granovskaia, technical director Petr Cech and head scout Scott McLachlan amid links to Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho and RB Leipzig's Timo Werner.

"We are certainly joined up," he said. "I know we haven't done anything yet, so there's no proof in that, but we are joined up in that I have very close conversations with Marina, very close conversations with Petr Cech and Scott, the head of our recruitment department.

"They know what I want and I'll be fundamentally in the middle of who and what we bring into the club. As it stands, we're very, very open about that.

"So if it feels right from my side on a footballing point in January, from the club's side on a club point, then we'll make the moves we make. But it is a joint up effort."

Pep Guardiola has appeared to rule out a January exit for Joao Cancelo by saying Manchester City sign players "for many years, not for six months".

Cancelo joined City from Juventus ahead of the 2019-20 season but has struggled to hold down a place in Guardiola's XI, starting just four Premier League matches.

The right-back has consequently been linked with mid-season moves to both his former club Valencia and Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.

However, Guardiola insists Cancelo, 25, was a long-term signing and a departure is therefore unlikely at this stage.

"Today he was training with us," the City manager said. "In the last month, Kyle [Walker, the first-choice right-back] was the best Kyle I have faced. I have given continuity to him.

"[Cancelo] is adapting and has special quality. He can help us in many, many games.

"There are many rumours about how many players we are going to buy in the summer, so I don't comment on rumours. Rumours are rumours.

"Until the agents call, or we call the agents to buy other players, I don't take any interest in that.

"We buy players for many years, not for six months. But what happens will happen. I don't know what's going to happen in a few weeks. In the summer, we're going to discuss.

"If one player is not happy and wants to leave, it's simple. They have to call to the club, reach an agreement and he will leave. If he doesn't agree, he will stay here. It's as simple as that."

Guardiola is not expecting any incoming transfers either in January, suggesting City cannot afford to splash out and only a unique opportunity, as when Aymeric Laporte joined two years ago, could change his thinking.

"I took that decision. We could not invest in the summer, why would we be able to invest in December? I like my squad," Guardiola said. "I have problems with injuries.

"If I have an opportunity, like it happened with Aymeric Laporte, the release clause, we knew the potential of the player, we could do it. But that's not the position now. I don't think the market gives us this opportunity.

"I never say never, of course. We could have 25 injuries in the next two games and then we have to buy, or maybe two or three players want to leave in the transfer window.

"Then the club get money and we can invest. It can happen. But in the summer, we could not do what we could not do for money [reasons]. We could not invest more.

"We could not invest in the summer, so why could we invest three or four months later? It makes no sense, so that's why we will wait until summer time."

Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana claims another club opted against signing him in 2017 because they felt their supporters would not accept a black goalkeeper.

Onana, 23, was born in Cameroon and has spent 12 years in Europe, first coming through Barcelona's academy before switching to Ajax in 2015.

There he has remained ever since, becoming a regular starter for the Amsterdam giants in the 2016-17 season, helping the club to the Europa League final.

It was after that match – a 2-0 defeat to Manchester United – when it looked as though Onana might move on.

But he now says an interested party passed on him because they felt their fans would not accept having a black player in goal.

Speaking to Dutch newspaper Het Parool, Onana said: "Racism is there, I have to deal with it in almost every away game, but I'm not talking about it.

"I'm proud to be black. If you find me a monkey, fine. I see no difference between white and black and I make no difference. If you do, that's your problem.

"I've been in Europe for 12 years. I live and work with people from all countries of the world, in every imaginable colour.

"Before each match, it sounds in the stadiums: 'No to racism', but racism is not only in football, it is everywhere.

"Racism was here long before I was born, and it will not suddenly disappear tomorrow. One day it will stop. It only needs time and you cannot force it.

"Along the way I noticed: it's not easy for a black keeper to reach a high level. In my first year at Ajax we reached the final of the Europa League.

"After that final, my manager spoke with an interested club, but that club nevertheless decided not to transfer, because a black goalkeeper would be difficult for their supporters.

"So, it wasn't because they didn't think I was good enough. I consider that as a compliment."

Borussia Dortmund have agreed to sell midfielder Julian Weigl to Benfica ahead of the January transfer window.

The Germany international, who joined Dortmund from 1860 Munich in 2015, will complete a reported €20million move following a medical.

Weigl started 12 times in the Bundesliga in the first half of the season but requested the move, Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc revealed.

"Julian came to us with this wish and we agreed - also because of his services to the club," Zorc said. "We wish him all the best for his future."

The 24-year-old Weigl said on Dortmund's website: "I would like to thank my team-mates, BVB employees and all fans of this great club for a great time, and I will always carry Borussia Dortmund in my heart."

Weigl was part of the Dortmund team that won the 2016-17 DFB-Pokal and 2019 DFL-Supercup.

He leaves the club fourth in the Bundesliga table - seven points off the top - just days after they completed the first high-profile capture of the window in Salzburg sensation Erling Haaland.

Benfica are top of the Primeira Liga and face Shakhtar Donetsk in the Europa League, having dropped out of the Champions League.

Wolves winger Adama Traore would have no problem forgetting his ties to Barcelona if a move to Real Madrid presented itself, though a return to Camp Nou appeals more.

Traore, 23, spent most of his formative years in Barca's academy and had been considered one of La Masia's crown jewels for a long time.

The rapid forward even made his first-team debut in LaLiga as a 17-year-old in November 2013, playing seven minutes in a 4-0 win over Granada.

Barca allowed him to leave for Aston Villa in 2015, with Traore revealing the following year he had become frustrated with a lack of development at the Catalan club, as they kept him in the second team instead of helping him push on.

Concerns over his footballing mindset and end product became apparent at Villa and persisted after moves to Middlesbrough and Wolves, but this season he has taken on a key role at Molineux, even earning a Spain call-up.

As such, talk of a move to a bigger club has surfaced in recent times, and he would not close the door on a potential switch to Madrid, even though it is not a priority.

"If I do not have the option of Barca and I have to go to Real Madrid, I do not close any doors," he said on La Sexta show Jugones, before hinting at a previous issue with La Blaugrana.

"There was a misunderstanding with Barca. Something happened that I didn't like, but I prefer to keep it for myself."

And while Traore is open to returning to Spain, he has a goal to achieve in the Premier League first.

"Yes, why not [return to Spain]," he said. "But I made a promise to become one of the best in England."

Luis Suarez is confident he and Barcelona will come to an agreement regarding a new contract as he eyes second place in the club's list of record goalscorers.

Suarez joined Barca from Liverpool in 2014 and has gone on to enjoy a wonderful spell at Camp Nou, both in terms of individual accomplishments and success with the club.

In that time, he has scored 190 goals and won every trophy possible, including a LaLiga, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble in 2014-15.

Now 32, Suarez has shown signs of decline in the past year or so, with recent media reports suggesting Barca want to replace him with Inter's Lautaro Martinez, despite the former Ajax star boasting a commendable tally of 10 in 16 LaLiga games this term.

But the Uruguay international appears set for a few more years at the club, as he is seemingly expecting to agree an extension to his current deal, which runs out in 2021.

"I'm very happy at the club," he told Sport. "I have always given myself to the fullest. The statistics and the numbers back that up.

"I think I am up to the task and when it comes to [contract] talks, we will arrive at a good conclusion."

Suarez's haul of 190 goals means he is just four behind Barca great Laszlo Kubala – but the main target he has his eyes on is Cesar Rodriguez.

Cesar netted 232 times from 1942 to 1955 and is second only to Lionel Messi in Barca's list of all-time goalscorers, though Suarez accepts catching his team-mate – who is way out in front on 618 – will be impossible.

"I always said that personal challenges have to be left aside, but in this case, when there is so little to match or overcome a historic player like Kubala and get in there [the top three], you feel very proud," he continued.

"Second place is obviously a more difficult challenge, but that does not take it out of sight.

"You always try, but it will be done over time. First place is unattainable, but it is very exciting to be able to reach Cesar's numbers."

Roy Hodgson is confident nobody at Crystal Palace is looking to sell star winger Wilfried Zaha in January, but he recognises "serious" bids would have to be considered.

Zaha was widely linked with moves to both Everton and Arsenal in the previous transfer window, with Hodgson acknowledging the player was unhappy when no transfer materialised.

Palace reportedly set a £100million asking price, which neither club would go to, with fellow suitors Chelsea serving a transfer ban at the time.

However, Chelsea's suspension has since been reduced, meaning they can make signings next month, and Zaha continues to be mooted as an option.

Earlier in December, agent Federico Pastorello told Sky Sports News the Ivory Coast international "deserves a new challenge and a top club".

Hodgson said ahead of a Premier League trip to Norwich City to start 2020: "Wilfried is not for sale. I don't need assurances.

"We are not trying to sell Wilfried Zaha, we have got to try to keep Wilfried Zaha.

"So, what assurances can people give us? I have the assurance that nobody at the club is trying to sell Wilfried Zaha.

"But, of course, you never know where bids are going to come from, and whenever there is a serious bid for one of your players, the board of directors will take it seriously."

Before any such offer arises, Hodgson's focus is on boosting a squad ravaged by injuries with new signings.

"[Zaha's sale] is certainly not something we are looking for, and by the same token, everyone at the club is aware that we need strengthening," the manager said.

"We need certain players. We need strengthening in certain areas where we do not have the cover or the competition that we need. I believe that we need to try to put that right, too.

"If you're asking me if I get assurances, you can't get assurances unfortunately.

"You only get people saying, 'This is what needs to be done, this is the next step for us going forward', and then hope that leads to players coming through the door who we want, who would make our squad stronger."

Atletico Madrid have confirmed Thomas Lemar sustained a hamstring injury in his side's 2-1 victory at Real Betis and he is unlikely to feature in Saturday's clash with Levante.

The France international was substituted after 57 minutes of Atleti's victory at Estadio Benito Villamarin, with his replacement Angel Correa scoring the visitors' first goal one minute after coming on.

Lemar has been the subject of speculation linking him with a transfer to Arsenal in January and if Gunners boss Mikel Arteta is successful in luring him away from Madrid, the 24-year-old may have made his last appearance in an Atleti shirt.

A club statement released by Atleti on Tuesday confirmed Lemar has sustained damage to his right thigh, as shown by tests at the Clinica Universidad de Navarra.

Atleti are uncertain how long Lemar will be sidelined.

Since arriving from Monaco in a deal worth €70M, Lemar has made 46 LaLiga appearances for Atletico, but he has struggled to hold down a regular place in Diego Simeone's team.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not looking for any quick fixes in the January transfer market and will resist the urge to adopt short-term thinking just to bolster Manchester United's Champions League push.

There have been signs of improvement from United in the month of December, Solskjaer's side winning six matches across all competitions and climbing to fifth in the Premier League ahead of the New Year's Day meeting with Arsenal.

The club's injury list is shortening, too, with Paul Pogba back in the fold, yet it still appears likely there will be at least one new arrival at Old Trafford in the next month.

Although Solskjaer's side have already missed out on one potential "long-term" option after Salzburg teenager Erling Haaland instead joined Borussia Dortmund, they will be looking out for similar players who can offer more than merely a short, sharp impact.

"I'm a striker. By nature, I've always been optimistic. I'm optimistic we can keep players fit," Solskjaer said ahead of facing Arsenal. "And if the right ones become available, we do have the resources, and I do have the backing from the board.

"But it's all about getting the right ones - it has to be. There's no point bringing someone else in now just for the sake of three or four months.

"That could disrupt the chemistry in the group. The chemistry in the group is really good. It has to be the right type, it has to be a good investment for the club for the long term."

The manager believes the easing of an injury crisis has already ably boosted his squad heading into January, though.

"If we can keep this lot fit and if we can keep on improving, one or two additions [could make a difference]," he said. "It's competition for places - that's what you've got to deal with at this club.

"We haven't had enough because we've had so many injuries, but now we're getting more and more players fit, so I've got to leave players out that I maybe should have played."

Even before Haaland's swift ascent this term, United were linked with strikers after Romelu Lukaku left for Inter.

But Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood are all now firing in attack, meaning Solskjaer believes the club were right not to invest before the campaign.

He said: "We always believed Anthony and Marcus were going to score goals, but Mason's filled a big void. He's chipped in with goals. I'm not worried about goals from the forwards.

"Romelu's a good striker and he'll always score goals, but it was time for him to move on and we didn't find the right one outside of our club. We had Mason."

Paul Pogba will not leave Manchester United in January but must play for a club that can challenge for major trophies in the longer term, according to his agent Mino Raiola.

Having been reportedly desperate to leave Old Trafford in the previous transfer window, Pogba appears almost certain to see out the season with the Red Devils as manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has no desire to sell.

The midfielder has played only seven times in the Premier League in 2019-20 due to an ankle injury and, with suitors Real Madrid and Juventus apparently content not to force the issue, a transfer next month appears highly unlikely.

Raiola previously stated that Pogba wants to stay at United, but he has made it clear the club must show they can match the World Cup winner's ambitions.

"Paul has always respected Manchester United, as long as Manchester United has respected Paul," he told Sky Sports News.

"The only one that talks for Manchester United and Paul is Ole. I go by what he says; he will not move. That's okay and we are good with them.

"Paul is struggling a little bit with his injury and that's our main interest now. There's one objective that Paul has and that is to perform as well as possible with Manchester United.

"He's a top pro and I think that his heart is in the right place with Manchester United."

When asked if he could see Pogba at the club in a year's time, Raiola replied: "Yes, I can, but in a club that I hope fights for the league and hopefully the Champions League.

"Is that strange? Am I the only one that's worried? Is the owner not worried? I think that everybody that is in love with Manchester United is worried about that.

"I'm worried about that for my player. I'm not a fan of Manchester United but I have a very direct interest.

"As long as Paul is in Manchester United, he wants to win trophies with Manchester United. That's the kind of player he is and he will not act differently.

"Like Ole's saying, it's a work in progress now this club. He's says he's working on a team for next year. Let's hope that it goes well for him because the world needs Manchester United on the top.

"Clearly they are not where they think they should be."

Raiola also says he speaks to United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, not Solskjaer, when it comes to Pogba's situation.

"If Ole has ideas about my player and he wants to talk to me about it, he knows my number," he added. "Until that moment I talk with Ed Woodward because that's the person that I talk to in the club.

"I only know that Paul respects him and loves him for what he has done in the past with him as one of the players."

Some of Europe's top clubs are already making signings ahead of the January transfer window, but Real Madrid's focus, at least for now, looks to be on securing the services of a current player.

Karim Benzema remains one of Madrid's key men, with 12 goals in 17 LaLiga matches this term.

Los Blancos will reportedly reward the striker's fine form with a contract renewal in the coming months, keeping him at the Santiago Bernabeu for another two seasons.

 

TOP STORY – BENZEMA TO STAY UNTIL 2022

Karim Benzema has agreed to sign a new contract with LaLiga giants Real Madrid, according to Marca.

Benzema's current deal had been set to expire in 2021, but an extension is imminent. The newspaper reports the Frenchman will be rewarded improved terms on a new contract to run until 2022 due to his outstanding form.

With Madrid enjoying a midseason break, they are said to have agreed a deal with Benzema that will be made formal at the end of the campaign.

Benzema's future is apparently a priority for Madrid, with the report suggesting the deal was only capped at an additional year as the player is determined not to outstay his welcome, leaving before his outstanding career wanes.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United reportedly have an interest in Benfica star Gedson Fernandes. Sky Sports say the 20-year-old midfielder, who has fallen out of favour with his club, could be available for £34million (€39.8m) following a loan, rather than for a loftier release clause of £102m. United are desperate to bolster their midfield, with Nemanja Matic tipped to join Inter, Milan or Atletico Madrid.

- Staying at Old Trafford and The Suns says United are eyeing £50m-rated Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin after Erling Haaland signed for Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund.

- The Mirror claims Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will leave Emirates Stadium at the end of the season in pursuit of silverware. Aubameyang has 18 months remaining on his contract.

Chelsea have made enquiries about the release clause in RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner's contract, says The Telegraph. Werner has been linked to Liverpool, United and Bayern Munich.

- El Desmarque says Everton are leading the race to sign James Rodriguez from Real Madrid. Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti worked with James during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu.

- Serie A champions Juventus lead the race to sign Dejan Kulusevski, according to Sky Sport Italia and La Gazzetta dello Sport. The 19-year-old, on loan at Parma from Atalanta, has been linked to United, Arsenal, Napoli, Inter and Liverpool. But Juve are reportedly poised to pay Atalanta €40-50m, while allowing Kulusevski to remain on loan at Parma until the end of the season.

- Calciomercato.com reports Jean-Clair Todibo has an offer from Milan. A deal is said to be done for the Barcelona defender - an initial loan, followed by a €20m fee with no buyback option - but he has not yet agreed to the transfer.

- Having already signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Milan must move on others in the next month. However, La Gazzetta dello Sport reports the Rossoneri are only interested in selling Ricardo Rodriguez and Suso, rather than accommodating loan deals that would suit Watford and Sevilla, respectively.

Napoli are set to announce the signing of Stanislav Lobotka for an initial €16m, according to Calciomercato.com. The midfielder will leave Celta Vigo and sign a contract with the Partenopei until 2024.

Signing Arturo Vidal from Barcelona would take Inter up a level, according to vice-president Javier Zanetti.

Chile international Vidal has been heavily linked with a move to the Nerazzurri in January and refused to rule out a switch when asked about the subject last week.

The 32-year-old has started just six games in all competitions for Barca this season, though he has scored five goals in LaLiga.

Inter are reportedly hoping to seal a loan with an obligation to buy the experienced midfielder and Zanetti feels his arrival would be a significant boost.

"We'll see how the transfer window goes, as we have a month to get things done," he told ESPN.

"Vidal is a player with great character and experience, so we'll see what happens. We are talking about a player who can certainly take us up a level, and we are already at a good level."

Inter are top of Serie A on goal difference and return to action against Napoli next Monday.

Manchester United must evaluate why Erling Haaland chose to join Borussia Dortmund over them instead of attempting to blame other parties, according to agent Mino Raiola.

Highly rated striker Haaland, who scored 28 goals in 22 appearances in all competitions for Salzburg this season, signed a four-and-a-half-year deal with Dortmund on Sunday.

United, RB Leipzig and Juventus were also understood to be interested, with reports suggesting Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward held talks with Salzburg and Haaland's representatives – including his father Alf Inge Haaland and Raiola – before pulling out of the deal.

United were thought to be unhappy with Raiola's demands during negotiations, but the agent, who also represents Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic among other star names, refuted those suggestions.

"I do not know if Manchester United are briefing this but if they are then they are covering their own loss and that I find strange and disappointing," Raiola told The Telegraph.

"There was no fall-out between me and Woodward. It was just a normal negotiation and the player has chosen a different path.

"If they want to blame someone then, fine, blame me, but the player is happy. He has made his choice and we went through a normal process.

"The club that had the most direct contact with him was Manchester United. They spoke to him the most. Everybody had the chance to talk to him in person. We let that happen especially when he knows Ole.

"Clearly [Haaland] felt that at this moment it was not the right step in his career. There is nothing against Manchester United or Ole.

"He chose Borussia Dortmund ahead of them and other clubs and I'm very happy because he is going to the club he wanted to go to and that is best for him right now. If he wanted to go to Manchester United I would have been obliged to take him to Manchester United but he did not."

Raiola also claimed Haaland's decision proved his client is prioritising regular playing time over money.

"When you are 19 then maybe you prefer not to go to the Premier League," said Raiola. 

"The offer from Manchester United was good. It was not about the economics. It is just the player chose Borussia Dortmund at this stage of his career."

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