Jurgen Klopp has not yet made a decision on whether Liverpool star Mohamed Salah will be permitted to represent Egypt at the 2020 Olympic Games.

Egypt Under-23 boss Shawky Gharib confirmed his intention to select Salah as one of three overage players for the football tournament in Tokyo, although he conceded he is yet to discuss the matter with the player.

Speaking ahead of Liverpool's Premier League trip to Norwich City on Saturday, Klopp echoed this week's interjection from Salah's agent Ramy Abbas Issa that a conclusion to the matter is still to be reached.

"Do I want to lose a player in the pre-season? Of course not, that's clear. We have to consider different things," he said.

"I need to speak with Mo and all that stuff. We are completely clear about what we want but we need more information – how would it look, when would the preparation start and all that stuff.

"Nobody really contacted us so far – it's just in the media. It's difficult to get in contact with me through newspapers because most of the things I don’t read.

"No decision has been made yet, but we'll see."

For Rio 2016, clubs were not obliged to release players for the Olympic football tournament because it was not part of FIFA's international match calendar.

World football's governing body did ask for "support from the clubs to allow players who are called up by their national teams to be given the chance to be part of the Olympic experience" ahead of a competition where Neymar inspired Brazil to glory on home soil.

Klopp certainly understands the appeal that becoming an Olympian might hold for Salah, who scored twice but was compromised by a shoulder injury as Egypt lost all three of their matches at the 2018 World Cup.

"We've had to play already without Mo – not too often, thank God, but from time to time," Klopp said.

"It's not about that. All the positive things about Mo I could say I've said in different press conferences.

"It's the Olympic Games and I am still a sports person. Olympians are Olympians. We have to see how we can deal with it.

"We cannot discuss it really because we don't know a lot about it, apart from the things the manager of the Olympic team said. They have to contact us and we will see."

Klopp was addressing the media for the first time since another scheduling conflict – namely the FA Cup fourth-round replay against Shrewsbury Town that fell during Liverpool's scheduled mid-season break.

The manager did not attend the match and left under-23 manager Neil Critchley to helm a youthful line-up that prevailed 1-0 to set up a last-16 clash with Chelsea.

"It was absolutely great. I'm really happy for the boys. They all loved it like crazy, they loved it," Klopp said.

"It was absolutely sensational what our crowd made of this game. Creating that atmosphere shows what a wonderful club we are.

"For us it was never a standpoint against the FA Cup – I know people probably misunderstand it – but it was just to make sure that, as we decided there is a winter break, there must be a winter break.

"You cannot please everybody in the end, you have to think a little bit more about it. That's what we tried to infer, to discuss about these things. If you don’t discuss, things just get worse and worse and worse.

"We all love the Premier League, we all love the FA Cup and the League Cup, Champions League, all the games we play. We just have to make sure that the time in between is at least time for a little nap or something."

Klopp will welcome back James Milner and Sadio Mane from hamstring injuries for the runaway Premier League leaders' visit to Carrow Road.

Nuno Espirito Santo has yet to enter new contract talks with Wolves but says he remains as committed as ever to the Premier League high-flyers.

The former Porto boss has worked wonders since taking over at Molineux in 2017, guiding the club into the top flight as Championship winners in his first season in charge.

Wolves secured a Europa League spot in the 2018-19 campaign and breezed through to the round of 32 this season, while they sat six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea ahead of a clash with Leicester City on Friday.

Nuno is in the final 18 months of his contract, but the Portuguese head coach - who was linked with Arsenal before Mikel Arteta was appointed - is relaxed about his future.

"I have had no proposal. I have one year more, I don't think about that," Nuno said.

"We will see, but I'm only focused on [the Leicester game]. We have one more year left on the contract. We signed it and are committed to it."

Nuno added: "They [Wolves fans] can be assured every day this is my obsession. Wolves is my obsession, it's my life. I don't think about anything else. I'm talking to you [the media] but I'm thinking about the game.

"I changed my life when we started this three seasons ago - not only me but a lot of people moved and changed their lives to come to Wolverhampton.

"The players have been with us since day one so this is why I say it's my life. I'm 100 per cent here and I give everything I have to help my players and help improve the club. I give everything I can."

First Barcelona and now Real Madrid. Lautaro Martinez is a wanted man.

With 16 goals across all competitions for Inter this season, Martinez is attracting plenty of interest following previous links to Manchester United.

Madrid and Barca are set to go head-to-head on and off the pitch.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID JOIN BARCA IN MARTINEZ RACE

Real Madrid want to pay the release clause of Inter star and Barcelona target Lautaro Martinez, according to Tyc Sports.

Martinez has long been linked with LaLiga champions Barca, who are eyeing a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez.

However, Martinez is now firmly on Madrid's radar with a release clause of €115million and Luka Jovic struggling to score regularly behind veteran striker Karim Benzema at the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

ROUND-UP

- ESPN says Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea are chasing Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who is on loan at Premier League side Sheffield United. The 22-year-old – who is contracted to United until 2022 – has impressed at Bramall Lane and is reportedly unwilling to return to Manchester unless he is number one ahead of David de Gea.

Manchester City have joined Madrid, Barca, Arsenal and Tottenham in the race to sign RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano, reports the Manchester Evening News. Pep Guardiola's City are desperate for defensive reinforcements following Vincent Kompany's exit and injury woes.

- According to the Daily Express, Serie A champions Juventus are eying a shock move for Chelsea's Willian, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

- Remaining in Turin and the Daily Mail claims Juve have entered the chase for Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham. The 17-year-old is also wanted by United and Chelsea.

Tottenham are plotting a double swoop for Norwich City pair Ben Godfrey and Max Aarons, the Express says. It comes as the Daily Mail reports Spurs will sell Eric Dier if he does not sign a new contract.

- Marca says Barca have contacted Levante about Roger Marti but the club have pointed to the striker's release clause. Barca are looking to bring in an emergency forward following Ousmane Dembele's long-term injury. Real Betis' Loren Moron and Lucas Perez of Deportivo Alaves are also reported options.

Paul Pogba "would not mind" returning to Juventus as "Italy is like home" for the Manchester United star, according to his agent Mino Raiola.

Pogba – who continues to recover from an ankle injury – has been linked to Serie A champions Juve and LaLiga giants Real Madrid, with the United midfielder reportedly unhappy in Manchester.

The 26-year-old left United for Juve in 2012 but Pogba was prised back to Old Trafford in 2016 for a then-world record transfer fee of €105million (£89.3m).

Raiola placed Pogba's United future in fresh doubt after watching Juve's late 1-1 draw against 10-man Milan in the opening leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final on Thursday.

"Italy is like home for Paul. He would not mind going back to Juve but we will see what will happen after the Euros," Raiola told reporters.

"Paul wants to play at the best level but he can't escape by Manchester United if they are in a difficult situation." 

It has been an injury-ravaged season for Pogba, who has started just five Premier League matches this term and made only seven appearances in total.

Pogba has only managed eight games across all competitions for United, who languish eighth in the Premier League after 25 rounds.

United travel to fourth-placed Chelsea on Monday as the Premier League returns after a minibreak.

Former Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde said he would prefer working in Australia rather than the Premier League.

Valverde was sacked by Barca in January, despite leading the Spanish giants to back-to-back LaLiga titles and Copa del Rey and Supercopa de Espana success.

Contemplating his next move as Valverde enjoys a break from football, a shock A-League gig is high on the 56-year-old's list.

"People ask me sometimes 'How about the Premier League?' and I say 'Well actually I'd like to go to Australia'," Valverde said.

"A career in football does not last forever and sometimes you think you have to take the opportunity to live in strange places."

Valverde referenced former Barca captain Andres Iniesta, who left Camp Nou for Japanese side Vissel Kobe in 2018.

"I applauded Andres when he told me he's going to Japan," added Valverde. I thought 'Wow, he gets to understand a different culture and different people', and I am also very interested in Japan.

"You can take great photos in Japan. There are many places I'd like to go to. We'll see what I end up doing, I haven't been out of work for very long so I don't have to decide anything yet, I haven't got a very clear idea at the moment.

"It's possible I'd go somewhere abroad. The truth is I like to do strange things so I wouldn't rule it out."

Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler is currently in charge of A-League outfit Brisbane Roar, while former Reds and Bayern Munich star Markus Babbel was working in Australia until he was sacked by Western Sydney Wanderers last month.

Erling Haaland already had his heart set on a move to Borussia Dortmund by the time Manchester United made a move for his services.

Dortmund signed Haaland after agreeing to meet his €22.5million release clause at Salzburg in late December, and the 19-year-old has made a flying start to life in Germany, with eight goals in five appearances.

A host of leading European clubs were linked to the striker, including United – led by his former Molde coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – but Haaland told Viasport his mind was made up by the time their interest was declared.

"Ole Gunnar has been very important for me in getting to where I am today," he said.

"But we concluded that Dortmund was the best option for me. That was what I felt best about and therefore it became Dortmund."

Indeed, Dortmund as a next stop in his career was put forward by Haaland himself as his father – former Leeds United and Manchester City utility man Alf-Inge Haaland – surveyed other options.

"The thing is, when the season was over, my father and I started talking

"At that point he didn’t mention Dortmund. Then I asked him, 'What about this club? That would have been nice'. Then he said, 'We'll see'.

"Suddenly it became an option and then that was what I felt all along.

"The process was pretty simple on my end. I really just played football and wasn't very involved until the first half of the season was over.

"So, I didn't have that much to do with it, to be honest. The process was to find the best possible club for me."

Haaland made light of suggestions his move to Dortmund was primarily motivated by money and praised agent Mino Raiola for his role in making the transfer happen.

"It's kind of comical if I were to get that label [being greedy]," he said.

"All the people close to me know that's not the kind of person I am. It's really been kind of comical."

On Raiola, Haaland added: "He's the best in the world at what he does. As simple as that.

"He's the best agent. He gets a lot of negativity and that's probably because he's doing such a great job for those he's working for

"He has helped a lot and he's a good guy to have around."

Bobby Madley will return to refereeing professional football in England next season, two years after the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) sacked him for sending a video in which he mocked a disabled person.

Madley left his role in August 2018, with a PGMOL statement at the time saying he had "decided to relocate due to a change in personal circumstances".

The 34-year-old went on to explain in a blog post on New Year's Eve last year that his dismissal related to a Snapchat video he sent to a friend that was subsequently passed to his employers.

He captioned a clip of a person with a walking impairment: "F*** me, I have a chance of winning the parents race this year" – something he later conceded was a "badly misjudged... private joke".

Madley moved to Norway after his dismissal and continued refereeing under the auspices of the Norwegian Football Federation.

In a blog post entitled "A New Chapter", the 34-year-old explained he would resume work in English Football at League One and League Two level – the third and fourth tiers of the country's professional structure.

"I've been away from the Premier League for what will be two years come the new season so a return to that level was never a possibility," he wrote.

"With the introduction of VAR and the many hours of training missed it would not have been reasonable to expect that. 

"I was offered, and accepted, the opportunity to start next season as a National List Referee. This group of referees officiate in League One and League Two.

"Like any referee I have the desire to perform at my best and to achieve the best I can.

"I know how hard that road is to referee at the top but I have the desire and passion to work hard to achieve my potential whatever that may be.

"I still have dreams that I thought were dead but for me they are now very much alive."

For the remainder of this season, Madley will officiate at games lower down the pyramid to reintegrate into the English game. He has also agreed to attend a Football Association discrimination workshop. 

Chelsea have committed €44million to the signing of Hakim Ziyech, who has become one of the most admired talents in European football over the past two seasons at Ajax.

The impending transfer was announced on Thursday but remains subject to Morocco international Ziyech agreeing personal terms at Stamford Bridge.

The 26-year-old was one of the best players on the pitch during a barnstorming 4-4 draw in November's Champions League clash between the sides.

Kepa Arrizabalaga may have been credited with an own goal but it was Ziyech's sensational bending free-kick from the right touchline that did the damage as the visitors opened up a 3-1 half-time lead.

Ziyech, who predominantly operates from the right but can play behind a striker, is now set to feature more regularly at the Bridge and we used Opta data to examine his ability.


THE EREDIVISIE'S MASTER CREATOR

Ziyech has been one of the Eredivisie's top performers since breaking into the first team at Heerenveen in 2012 having risen through the club's youth teams.

After a two-year stop at Twente, Ziyech moved to Ajax in August 2016 where his performances domestically and in Europe have seen his star continue to rise.

Since his switch to the Johan Cruijff ArenA, only four players can boast a higher goals return than his 38 while his sensational tally of 51  Eredivisie assists is 16 better than the 35 of Steven Berghuis, the next highest on the list.

Indeed, his combined 89 goal involvements is in the best in the league during this time, seven more than Berghuis, while Bryan Linssen (who has the most goals with 52 ) is way behind with 66 .

To really emphasise Ziyech's attacking brilliance, his 421 chances created since September 2016 is a whopping 134 more than second-place Berghuis.


MIXING IT WITH MESSI AND MBAPPE IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Ajax were the great entertainers of the of the 2018-19 Champions League and only a last-gasp goal from Tottenham's Lucas Moura denied Erik ten Hag's men a place in the final.

Ziyech was typically influential in that run to the last four and since August 2018 he has provided seven assists in Europe's premier competition (excluding qualifiers).

That is as many as team-mate Dusan Tadic and just one fewer than the best of eight achieved by Kylian Mbappe and Riyad Mahrez - and one more than Barcelona great Lionel Messi.

His five goals are 13 fewer than the sensational 18 scored by Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski in the same time, with Messi registering 14 .

Messi tops the list of goal involvements at 20 , with Lewandowski (18) , Mbappe (17) , Raheem Sterling (14) , Tadic and Mohamed Salah (both 13) above Ziyech's combined goals and assists tally of 12 .

In terms of chances created, Ziyech scores highly as well. His 39 is the same as Christian Eriksen and beaten only by Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos (51) , Tadic (47) and Messi (41) .


THE STATS

- Since the 2012-13 season, Ziyech has made 217 Eredivisie appearances, scored 79 goals and contributed 87 assists.

- Ziyech has at least 10 assists in each of his previous six Eredivisie seasons, no player has managed to do so in more than two campaigns in the same period.

- No players has more assists (51) , shots (528) , created chances (421) , completed dribbles (288) or recoveries (752) than Ziyech in the Eredivisie since he joined Ajax.

- Over the past two seasons, only Mohamed Salah (79) and Messi (77) have taken more Champions League shots than Ziyech ( 75 same as Cristiano Ronaldo). 

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers has thrown his support behind James Maddison and defended the midfielder's lifestyle choices.

Maddison was pictured partying in Dubai during the Premier League mid-season break, the period which has been devised to allow players a breather from a demanding campaign.

Yet manager Rodgers stressed there are no questions about Maddison's professionalism and claimed he had become a popular target for critics.

The Foxes star is in his second season with Leicester and has scored six goals in 24 Premier League games this term, leading to suggestions he could earn a Euro 2020 call with England.

According to Rodgers, the 23-year-old has been portrayed in an unjust light, but he might just have to get used to such treatment.

"It's unfortunate. We're supposedly in this great world now where everyone cares, this wonderful atmosphere where everyone wants to look after you," Rodgers said.

"It's rubbish because the first thing people do is try and stitch you up.

"It's contradictory, it's unbelievable. So there's something framed around him which, okay, he'll have to live with, but that's someone else's narrative.

"This is a 23-year-old boy who is single, he's been given a week free. We try to educate them in many ways, but this is something I'm not too bothered about."

Clubs have typically given players free rein during the break, trusting their judgement, and Rodgers has only positive things to say of Maddison's contributions for Leicester this season.

He has been such an impressive performer that Maddison has been linked with several rival clubs, including Manchester United.

"I can only judge him on my time here, nearly a year now," said Rodgers. "He's been absolutely brilliant for me. And outside of the pitch, he's been an absolute joy."

Leicester, who sit third in the Premier League, return to action when they face Wolves on Friday.

Rodgers will expect Maddison to show no negative effects from his time out of the country, outlining what he requires from his players, even when away from the club.

The former Celtic and Liverpool boss said: "There's two different mindsets, a social mindset and a professional mindset.

"The top ones, professionally, have the mentality to do it every single day and look after themselves and then produce."

Jadon Sancho is a player in demand.

The former Manchester City youth player is a man in demand due to exploits with Borussia Dortmund.

The Premier League's elite are circling…

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL WANT SANCHO AMID UNITED LINKS

Liverpool want to sign Borussia Dortmund star and Manchester United target Jadon Sancho, according to the Daily Mail.

United are reportedly confident of luring the 19-year-old England international to Old Trafford, ahead of Premier League rivals Chelsea.

However, a fresh report claims Premier League leaders Liverpool have joined the race for the teenager as Jurgen Klopp hopes to take advantage of the relationship with former club Dortmund. Sky Germany also says Sancho will leave Dortmund at the end of the season.

 

ROUND-UP

Barcelona are preparing to re-sign Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain, reports El Confidencial. Neymar, who left Barca for a world-record €222m fee in 2017, has been heavily linked with a return to Camp Nou. After missing out on an off-season move, Neymar could be on his way back to the LaLiga giants – who are reportedly willing to sell one or two players to finance the blockbuster transfer.

- According to The Sun, Chelsea are battling United for the signature of 16-year-old Birmingham City sensation Jude Bellingham, who could cost up to £50million. The teenager has also attracted interest from Barcelona and Real Madrid.

- United recruit Odion Ighalo has been barred from the club's training ground due to ongoing coronavirus precautions, says The Mirror. Ighalo arrived from Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua on deadline day, moving to United on loan until the end of the season. The Nigeria international, however, has not been allowed to train at Carrington.

Barca have ruled out signing Real Sociedad striker Willian Jose, reports Marca. With Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez sidelined, Barca are set to receive permission to sign an emergency forward within Spain. Real Betis' Loren Moron now reportedly tops the list of targets.

- Sandro Tonali has been valued at €55m and €60m by Brescia amid interest from Serie A champions Juventus and Inter, according to Calciomercato.

- Liverpool, United and Bayern Munich are eyeing Arsenal teenager Bukayo Saka, reports the Daily Mail.

- AS claims Real Valladolid defender Mohammed Salisu is at the centre of a transfer tug-of-war between Madrid, United and Atletico Madrid.

Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag confirmed Hakim Ziyech is set to join Chelsea at the end of the season, admitting he expected the star forward to leave "one or two years earlier".

Reports on Wednesday emerged that Eredivisie champions Ajax and Premier League giants Chelsea reached a verbal agreement on a €45million (£38m) transfer for Ziyech.

Ziyech came off the bench during Wednesday's 3-0 KNVB Beker victory at Vitesse and Ten Hag provided an update on the 26-year-old Morocco international.

"Ziyech to Chelsea? A transfer was coming, we expected it to happen," Ten Hag told Fox Sports post-game.

"I actually already expected this one or two years earlier. And each time it was: 'Wow, he stayed again'.

"We are just happy that we will still have him until the end of the season."

Ziyech has been directly involved in 166 goals since his Eredivisie debut in 2012-13, contributing 79 goals and 87 assists.

Since joining Ajax from Twente in 2016, Ziyech has scored 38 league goals and 48 across all competitions.

Ziyech's sensational tally of 51 Eredivisie assists from the beginning of the 2016-17 campaign is 16 better than the 35 of Steven Berghuis, the next highest during that period, while his 421 chances created since September 2016 is a whopping 134 more than his nearest rival.

Ten Hag added: "I am not surprised by the news about Ziyech. I know that our players are very popular with the big clubs in Europe. That is just great.

"I have known for a long time what Hakim wants. He has a picture in mind. He knows exactly which clubs he finds interesting and which ones are not. 

"Chelsea are a fantastic club. When it is final, I am very happy for Hakim, and I am very proud of him."

Each close-season transfer window has a defining 'saga' and everything points to the next revolving around Jadon Sancho and Manchester United.

Media reports began to circulate on Wednesday claiming Sancho is set to leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season, having emerged as one of world football's next great hopes since joining from Manchester City.

The England international seems likely to return home later this year and United are rumoured to be leading the chase, ready to pay £120million for his signature.

United's issues on the flanks are nothing new. For several years they have seemingly operated with a bizarre square-pegs-round-holes policy, assigning numerous players who clearly aren't wingers to wide roles.

We looked at the data to understand how Sancho stacks up with United's current attacking options.

A PROLIFIC CREATOR

It's difficult to imagine Sancho joining United and not having a swift and decisive impact. The only other genuine winger in their squad is Daniel James, and while the Wales international has enjoyed a solid debut season after a shock move, he has faded recently and clearly lacks a certain presence.

After Andreas Pereira (31), Fred (30) and Marcus Rashford (24), James (23) has created the most Premier League chances for United this term and his haul of six assists isn't matched by any of his team-mates.

By comparison, Sancho has laid on 47 opportunities for team-mates in the Bundesliga this season, the fifth-highest in the division, and his haul of 13 assists is the same amount as James, Anthony Martial and Rashford combined.

SUBTLETY IN THE FINAL THIRD

The United squad isn't exactly blessed with lots of physical attackers renowned for their aerial ability, which suggests hooking hopeful crosses into the box does not represent a fertile route to goal.

For the most part, United forwards aren't desperate to cross, with Pereira (28), Rashford (19) and Martial (7) often looking for alternative ways to penetrate the box, but James (79) is the 11th most-frequent crosser in the league, even if he's some way off Trent Alexander-Arnold (159).

Sancho fits in more with the former group, supplying only 22 crosses this season. Perhaps such a low figure is justified by the fact only five per cent were accurate.

Nevertheless, this does suggest Sancho is more subtle and deliberate with his creativity, and given he has crafted comfortably more chances and goals than the United contingent, it is difficult to argue he should alter his style.

A KEY INFLUENCE

As someone who creates so many opportunities, it wouldn't be unusual to expect Sancho to be somewhat wayward in possession, given the necessity to take risks.

But 80 per cent of his 496 passes into the final third have been accurate. Of the 284 Bundesliga players to play at least 50 passes into that part of the pitch, only 11 have greater accuracy than Sancho, though none of those attempted more than 308.

Martial, Fred, Mason Greenwood, Luke Shaw, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard have all been more accurate in the final third, but Sancho has attempted far more passes, while none of them have got anywhere close to the Dortmund star's chance creation record.

DEADLY WHEN IT MATTERS

Sancho's not just a creator, however.

As well as his 13 assists, Sancho has also chipped in with 12 Bundesliga goals this season, a figure bettered by only Robert Lewandowski (22) and Timo Werner (20).

Those 12 goals came from 37 attempts, meaning he is averaging almost a goal every three shots, comfortably better than Martial (17 per cent of 48 shots) and Rashford (19 per cent of 74 shots).

A complete player in attack, Sancho offers an all-round threat that United simply do not possess.

He also appears to be the ideal player for United stylistically, with his attributes and dynamism similar to the likes of Martial, Rashford and Greenwood, around whom club seem intent on building their future.

Will Sancho be the next to join that trio?

Hakim Ziyech will need little introduction to Chelsea fans if the Morocco international does complete his move to Stamford Bridge from Ajax.

Ziyech was one of the best players on the pitch during a barnstorming 4-4 draw in November's Champions League clash.

Kepa Arrizabalaga may have been credited with an own goal but it was Ziyech's sensational bending free-kick from the right touchline that did the damage as the visitors opened up a 3-1 half-time lead.

Next season, the 26-year-old appears destined to play much more regularly at the Bridge, with reports claiming the Blues have agreed a £38million deal for the attacking midfielder.

Predominantly employed on the right, Ziyech can also play as a number 10 and here we have used Opta data to take a closer look at an exciting talent.


THE EREDIVISIE'S MASTER CREATOR

Ziyech has been one of the Eredivisie's top performers since breaking into the first team at Heerenveen in 2012 having risen through the club's youth teams.

After a two-year stop at Twente, Ziyech moved to Ajax in August 2016 where his performances domestically and in Europe have seen his star continue to rise.

Since his switch to the Johan Cruijff ArenA, only four players can boast a higher goals return than his 38 while his sensational tally of 51 Eredivisie assists is 16 better than the 35 of Steven Berghuis, the next highest on the list.

Indeed, his combined 89 goal involvements is in the best in the league during this time, seven more than Berghuis, while Bryan Linssen (who has the most goals with 52) is way behind with 66.

To really emphasise Ziyech's attacking brilliance, his 421 chances created since September 2016 is a whopping 134 more than second-place Berghuis.


MIXING IT WITH MESSI AND MBAPPE IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Ajax were the great entertainers of the of the 2018-19 Champions League and only a last-gasp goal from Tottenham's Lucas Moura denied Erik ten Hag's men a place in the final.

Ziyech was typically influential in that run to the last four and since August 2018 he has provided seven assists in Europe's premier competition.

That is as many as team-mate Dusan Tadic and just one fewer than the best of eight achieved by Kylian Mbappe and Riyad Mahrez - and one more than Barcelona great Lionel Messi.

His five goals are 13 fewer than the sensational 18 scored by Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski in the same time, with Messi registering 14.

Messi tops the list of goal involvements at 20, with Lewandowski (18), Mbappe (17), Raheem Sterling (14), Tadic and Mohamed Salah (both 13) above Ziyech's combined goals and assists tally of 12.

In terms of chances created, Ziyech scores highly as well. His 39 is the same as Christian Eriksen and beaten only by Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos (51), Tadic (47) and Messi (41).


THE STATS

- Since the 2012-13 season, Ziyech has made 217 Eredivisie appearances, scored 79 goals and contributed 87 assists.

- Ziyech has at least 10 assists in each of his previous six Eredivisie seasons, no player has managed to do so in more than two campaigns in the same period.

- No players has more assists (51), shots (528), created chances (421), completed dribbles (288) or recoveries (752) than Ziyech in the Eredivisie since he joined Ajax.

- Over the past two seasons, only Mohamed Salah (79) and Messi (77) have taken more Champions League shots than Ziyech (75 same as Cristiano Ronaldo). 

Paul Pogba has said he "can't wait" to return to action for Manchester United as the World Cup winner steps up his ankle rehabilitation.

After starting just five Premier League games so far this season, Pogba appears close to giving manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a much-missed midfield option.

Pogba released video footage of his gym work on Wednesday, with his movement boding well for a comeback after recently having a cast removed.

"Four weeks after surgery, I'm feeling good," he said on the Instagram video.

A further series of images came with captions, with Pogba writing on one: "Can't wait to be back on the pitch."

On another, United's £89.3million record signing wrote of "stretching beyond your limits".

Solskjaer has been cautious around putting a timescale on Pogba's return to action, and the French playmaker was assigned to continue his recovery when team-mates headed to Spain for their ongoing warm-weather camp.

However, the day Pogba pulls on the United shirt again appears to be coming closer.

The former Juventus star has an added incentive to return: United's signing of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting CP means Pogba will have a new midfield ally.

Anthony Martial recounted how he was determined to prove Jose Mourinho wrong after falling out of favour during the Portuguese coach's second season at Manchester United.

Martial's United career has been plagued by inconsistency, particularly while Mourinho was in charge.

After a promising debut season at the club, Martial seemed to take a step back during the 2016-17 campaign, starting 18 Premier League matches compared to 29 the previous year and his goals haul also dropped significantly from 11 to four.

Transfer speculation surrounding Martial was rife before the 2017-18 season and he made only three Premier League starts prior to November, but he got himself back into more regular contention, scoring nine times and setting up another five goals.

Mourinho's motivational methods are well-known, as he has never been afraid to criticise his players publicly to get a reaction, and while it seemed to work with Martial, he says he would have preferred alternative treatment.

"It is true that I prefer to be told to my face," Martial told RMC Sport as part of a documentary about Mourinho.

"There is no need for it to be said in front of everybody. Certainly, after that, you want to prove him wrong.

"He did not play me during the first matches of the season. Each time I came on, I scored, and he eventually said to me, 'you see, now you understand what I am after.'

"It can sting, but you just want to show him that you should be on the pitch."

Martial started the 2019-20 season well under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but he has struggled to find form of late after being moved into a central role due to the absence of Marcus Rashford.

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