What does the future hold for Manchester United star Paul Pogba?

Out of form and out of favour, Pogba has found himself out of the starting line-up this season and the Frenchman is not happy.

Could Pogba be prepared to wait for his perfect move away?

 

TOP STORY – POGBA EYEING EXIT

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba could leave Old Trafford on a free transfer, according to The Athletic.

Pogba left United for Juventus on a free transfer in 2012 before returning to Manchester for a then-world record €105million (£89.3m) in 2016.

But the France international is unhappy at the Theatre of Dreams, where he is contracted until 2022, amid links with former club Juve and LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tuttosport says Juve have turned their attention from Pogba to his countryman and Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga. The 18-year-old has been tipped to join Madrid, while Paris Saint-Germain are also reportedly interested.

- Bayern Munich centre-back Niklas Sule is dreaming of a move to United, claims Bild. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United are believed to be pursuing a defensive partner for Harry Maguire, with Madrid's Raphael Varane and RB Leipzig star Dayot Upamecano reported targets.

Isco is ready to leave Madrid in January, reports Marca. The attacking midfielder has been linked with Everton, following previous links to Juve and Manchester City.

- Liverpool Echo claims Liverpool have been quoted £26.7million (€29.8m) to sign Ajax defender Perr Schuurs. The 20-year-old is also reportedly wanted by Milan.

Arsenal are working on a structured payment plan to sign Salzburg sensation Dominik Szoboszlai, says the Mirror.

Juve are targeting Sporting CP defender Nuno Mendes, A Bola reports. The 18-year-old has also been linked with Milan, Arsenal, Manchester United and Wolves.

Inter and Antonio Conte have reached an agreement over a new contract but Corriere dello Sport says there will be no contract extensions during the season. Barcelona target Lautaro Martinez is the most problematic case for the Nerazzurri.

Lionel Messi first represented Barcelona's senior side 17 years ago, on November 16, 2003. It's difficult to adequately describe the impact and influence he's since gone on to have on one of the world's most illustrious clubs.

A six-time Ballon d'Or winner and long-established as Barca's all-time leading scorer, virtually every major decision that is made at the club ultimately appears to be taken with Messi in mind.

Perhaps the reality is different, but the way the Barca soap opera is played out in Spanish and Catalan media, one comes to assume it isn't just on the pitch that Messi pulls the strings.

It was this situation that made the pre-season tug of war between Messi and the club all the more damaging – while the player was adamant he could leave for free, then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu seemingly reneged on a previous agreement and stood firm.

Seventeen years on from his first appearance in the Barca team, during a friendly with Porto, it seems an opportune time to consider where Messi might go next if he allows his contract to expire next year.

So, just for a minute, let's imagine money is no object and Messi could play for anyone he chooses. What if the thrill of the game were more important to him than winning a fifth Champions League? What if he threw caution to the wind and went somewhere just for fun?

We've imagined such a scenario, and these are the teams we'd love to see him play for...

AJAX

The link between Ajax and Barca goes beyond the basics of football: it's a shared ideology, a philosophical connection, a spiritual understanding.

From Johan Cruyff to Ronald Koeman, plenty of players and coaches have shared the love of both clubs, but Messi moving to Amsterdam would turn the romance up to 11.

Messi as the focal point of an Ajax side - who are beautiful to watch as it is - is a wonderful idea, and there is even the faint prospect of Luis Suarez going back to his old club to join him one day.

Plus, given the players they have signed from Ajax in the past - Frenkie de Jong and Sergino Dest the latest - Barca probably owe the Eredivisie club a transfer favour in return.

ATALANTA

Gian Piero Gasperini's side captured the hearts of the football world in 2019-20, threatening a title challenge in Serie A and coming close to reaching the Champions League semi-finals.

They did all this on a modest budget, playing vibrant, attacking football, and all during a global pandemic that struck Bergamo and the Lombardy region harder than almost anywhere else in Europe.

The way Argentine Alejandro Gomez pulls the strings for Atalanta is a joy to watch, but imagine if Messi were doing it alongside him. Imagine them facing Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus. Imagine Marten de Roon's Twitter feed.

Glorious, isn't it?

COLOGNE

The GOAT and the Billy Goats - what could be better?

Cologne are going through some tricky times. Markus Gisdol did a brilliant job in steadying the ship in the Bundesliga last season and was rewarded with a new contract until June 2023, though they're struggling in the bottom three this term.

They might not have won the title since 1978, but they are among Germany's most esteemed clubs, with an ardent fan base and a beautiful home city. As unlikely as it would be in any scenario, if Messi could lead them to challenge the might of Bayern Munich, it would be an unforgettable story.

If not... well, they have a goat as a mascot, for goodness' sake. It's too perfect.

NEWELL'S OLD BOYS

What could be more magical than Messi returning to where it all began? A lifelong Newell's fan, Messi was on their books as a youngster until they – and River Plate afterwards – were unable to pay for necessary growth hormone treatment.

Before then, as the story goes, Messi had scored nearly 500 goals in youth football for the club, and throughout his days as a professional he has been linked with a future move to Newell's prior to retiring.

As recently as last year Messi expressed doubt that such a "dream" could ever happen due to the needs of his family.

It is the move football romanticists will want to see and, while unlikely, Messi did leave the door open: "I will try to convince the family."

LEEDS UNITED

It might be too early for Messi to return to Newell's Old Boys, but what if he joined up with Rosario's other most famous football export in Yorkshire?

Leeds United are back in the Premier League at last, having swept all before them in the Championship in 2019-20 under the stewardship of Marcelo Bielsa and his big blue bucket.

The chance to help awaken a sleeping giant of the English game while playing for the man who inspired Pep Guardiola sounds like an opportunity that's too good to miss.

Plus, if he wanted to visit Sergio Aguero, Manchester is less than an hour away by train.

Is Kylian Mbappe's future in Paris?

Mbappe has long been linked with a move to Real Madrid, while Liverpool have also emerged as a possible destination.

But Mbappe could extend his Paris Saint-Germain contract under one condition.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE READY TO RENEW IN PARIS

Kylian Mbappe will re-sign with Paris Saint-Germain but there is a catch, according to Diario AS.

Mbappe has been tipped to swap Ligue 1 champions PSG for LaLiga holders Real Madrid, while Liverpool are another possible destination.

The France star has reportedly rejected three contract offers from PSG, though he could be prepared to renew if a minimum-fee release clause was inserted in the deal.

 

ROUND-UP

- AS also says Madrid and Sergio Ramos are set to provide an update on his contract situation. The Los Blancos captain is out of contract at the end of the season. El Chiringuito claims Juventus, PSG, Manchester United and Manchester City have made approaches.

- Sport, meanwhile, claims Madrid are eyeing potential replacements if Ramos does not extend his deal in the Spanish capital. Bayern Munich's David Alaba, Villarreal defender Pau Torres and City's Eric Garcia are reportedly being considered by Zinedine Zidane.

Alaba has also been linked with a move to Serie A champions Juventus, reports Tuttosport. The front page of the newspaper adds that Juve are also targeting midfielders, with Lyon star Houssem Aouar atop the list, while Ajax's Ryan Gravenberch is wanted in Turin. Aouar has also been heavily linked with Arsenal, Barcelona and City.

- The Express says Premier League champions Liverpool are prepared to splash the cash on a centre-back in January. It comes after Joe Gomez joined Virgil van Dijk on the sidelines through injury.

- Inter star and Barca target Lautaro Martinez will reject a renewal with the Serie A side if they remove his release clause, according to Sport.

Ajax midfielder Ryan Gravenberch has been handed a first call-up to the Netherlands squad.

Gravenberch was promoted from the Under-21 squad after Tonny Vilhena was ruled out of the upcoming internationals due to a positive coronavirus test.

The 18-year-old will not be in the squad for Wednesday's friendly against Spain but could earn his maiden cap in the Nations League against Bosnia-Herzegovina or Poland.

Head coach Ronald de Boer will consequently have 24 players available to him for the crunch Nations League fixtures on Sunday and Wednesday.

Gravenberch has featured six times in the Eredivisie this season and supplied two assists. He is also the second-youngest player yet to miss a minute of action in the 2020-21 Champions League, after Illia Zabarnyi of Dynamo Kiev.

Only Dusan Tadic (71) and Daley Blind (68) have completed more passes in the opposition half for Ajax in their Group D campaign than Gravenberch (62), who was won more duels in the competition that any of his team-mates (21).

Neymar has tried, without success, to return to former club Barcelona in previous transfer windows.

The Brazil forward wanted to reunite with Lionel Messi.

Now, it seems Neymar is content in the French capital.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR HAPPY IN PARIS

Neymar wants to sign a new deal with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, according to Telefoot.

PSG superstar Neymar has long been linked with a return to Barcelona after leaving Camp Nou in a world-record Є222million transfer in 2017.

But Neymar – contracted until 2022 – is reportedly happy in Paris and is prepared to prolong his stay.

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- Manchester United star Paul Pogba has emerged as Real Madrid's alternative to Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, reports Diario AS. Camavinga tops Madrid's midfield wish list following his exploits for Rennes and France. But with his transfer value continuing to rise, Madrid could turn to Pogba, who is reportedly available for €60m (£54m) in 2021. Camavinga has also been linked to PSG and United, while Pogba is reportedly being eyed by former club Juventus.

- Calciomercato claims PSG have joined Barca and Juve in the race to sign Ajax star Ryan Gravenberch.

Bruno Fernandes could leave United if the Premier League giants continue to struggle for consistency, reports Fichajes.net. Madrid, Barca, Juve and Bayern Munich have been credited with interest in the Portugal international.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter are eyeing Udinese star Rodrigo de Paul, who was previously linked with Leeds United.

Juve are interested in Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli, according to Tuttosport. Sassuolo will not sell the former Milan sensation for less than €40m.

Juventus forward Paulo Dybala has been ruled out of Argentina's squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

The 26-year-old was brought on as a substitute for the final 14 minutes of Juve's 1-1 draw with Lazio on Sunday but is deemed unfit to team up with his national side.

He missed Argentina's opening two qualifiers in October - victories over Ecuador and Bolivia - and will now play no part against Paraguay and Peru over the next fortnight.

Argentina confirmed in a statement on Sunday that Dybala is "presenting general genitourinary symptoms which require rest and evaluations".

Dybala has made six appearances for Juventus in all competitions this season and scored his only goal in last week's 4-1 Champions League win over Ferencvaros.

Ajax defender Lisandro Lopez has been added to Lionel Scaloni's 25-man squad, which also includes the likes of Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria.

Davy Klaassen has been recalled to the Netherlands squad for their three upcoming internationals.

MIdfielder Klaassen has not played for his country since October 2017 but has been included for a friendly against Spain before Nations League matches versus Bosnia-Herzegovina and Poland, after impressing on his return to Ajax.

He rejoined the Amsterdam giants, with whom he began his career, after spells away at Everton and Werder Bremen.

Krasnodar midfielder Tonny Vilhena and Crystal Palace left-back Patrick van Aanholt have also been included by coach Frank de Boer, who is awaiting a first win since replacing Ronald Koeman.

Marseille midfielder Kevin Strootman and Atalanta's Marten de Roon are among the players absent.

Spain visit the Johan Cruyff ArenA next Wednesday and Bosnia-Herzegovina face the Oranje in Amsterdam four days later before De Boer's men take on Poland in Chorzow on November 18.

The Netherlands are third in Group A1 with just one victory from four Nations League matches.

Netherlands squad: 

Marco Bizot (AZ), Jasper Cillessen (Valencia), Tim Krul (Norwich City); Nathan Ake (Manchester City), Daley Blind (Ajax), Stefan de Vrij (Inter), Hans Hateboer (Atalanta), Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace), Owen Wijndal (AZ); Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Mohamed Ihattaren (PSV), Davy Klaassen (Ajax), Teun Koopmeiners (AZ), Donny van de Beek (Manchester United), Joel Veltman (Brighton and Hove Albion), Tonny Vilhena (Krasnodar), Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool), Ryan Babel (Galatasaray), Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord), Steven Bergwijn (Tottenham), Calvin Stengs (AZ); Memphis Depay (Lyon), Luuk de Jong (Sevilla), Donyell Malen (PSV), Quincy Promes (Ajax).

Squads are being stretched, injuries are piling up and managers are moaning, but there is no let up as the Champions League group stage rolls around for a third straight week.

There were hard-fought wins, thrilling draws and a few teams on the end of thrashings on matchday two.

Real Madrid's European form continues to cause concern after they followed their loss to Shakhtar Donetsk with a draw at Borussia Monchengladbach; Inter, who are also yet to win, are next up on Tuesday.

Holders Bayern Munich are away to Salzburg, Liverpool head to Atalanta, and Manchester City host Olympiacos with all three clubs aiming to maintain 100 per cent starts.

Salzburg v Bayern Munich: Bavarians brilliant on the road

The defending champions have maximum points from the first two games of their Group A campaign and the omens are good for them as they go to Austria next, with Die Roten unbeaten in 14 away matches in the competition – two shy of the record set by Manchester United between 2007 and 2010.

Whatever the outcome, there is a strong possibility this contest will be a thriller. Since the start of last season, Bayern (58) and Salzburg (38) are among the top three teams in terms of the number of goals their Champions League matches have seen.

Salzburg's Dominik Szoboszlai has found the net in each of his past two appearances in the competition and could become the first Hungarian player to find the net in three consecutive Champions League matches.

Real Madrid v Inter: Zidane keen to avoid unwanted record

Madrid are winless in their past four Champions League matches (D1 L3), which is their worst run in the competition since September 2006 when they went five without a victory. Zinedine Zidane made his last appearance in the competition as a player during that run, and will be out to avoid equalling that record as coach.

Inter have lost eight of their previous 10 Champions League away games in Spain (W1 D1). Although in the history of Europe's premier club competition, only against Lyon (30 per cent) do Madrid have a lower win percentage than they do against Inter (33 per cent, three wins in nine games) among teams they have faced at least five times.

Arturo Vidal could be a lucky charm for the Nerazzurri as he bids to become the first player to score against Madrid in the Champions League for three different clubs, having previously done so during his time at Juventus and Bayern Munich.

Atalanta v Liverpool: Klopp eyes first Italian away success

Jurgen Klopp has lost all five of his away Champions League matches in Italy, losing to Napoli three times plus defeats to Juventus and Roma during his managerial career with Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund. Only former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson (6) has lost more away Champions League games on Italian soil than Klopp.

The Reds will have to keep an eye on Atalanta's Duvan Zapata, who has been directly involved in six goals in five starts in the competition for the club (four goals and two assists), in the first competitive meeting between the two clubs.

Liverpool's Diogo Jota will attempt to follow his Premier League goalscoring feats in the Champions League. Jota can become only the second player to score in his first two starts in the competition for the Reds, following Robbie Keane back in 2008.

Manchester City v Olympiacos: Torres can match Mbappe and Haaland

City are unbeaten in their past 13 games in the group stage of the Champions League (W10 D3), winning five of the six games at the Etihad Stadium in this run (D1).

Pep Guardiola won has his two previous Champions League matches against Olympiacos, winning 3-0 away and 4-0 at home as Bayern Munich boss in the 2015-16 group stage.

City winger Ferran Torres is looking to become the third-youngest player in competition's history to score in four consecutive appearances (20 years, 248 days), behind only Kylian Mbappe (18 years, 120 days) and Erling Haaland (19 years, 107 days).

Other fixtures:

Lokomotiv Moscow v Atletico Madrid

5 - Should Atletico win they will have beaten Lokomotiv more often than any other side in major European competition, having defeated them four times already.

3Joao Felix scored in both Champions League matches against Lokomotiv last season - no Atleti player has ever scored in three consecutive games against an opponent in the competition.

Shakhtar Donetsk v Borussia Monchengladbach

7 - Shakhtar’s two Champions League starting line-ups this season have featured seven players aged 21 or younger – they could become the first team to do so three times in the competition.

9 - The last nine German teams to visit Ukraine in the Champions League have all failed to win (D6 L3). Bayern's victory over Dynamo Kiev in December 1994 is the most recent.

Midtjylland v Ajax

14 - Ajax will be without Dusan Tadic in Denmark. Since making his debut in the competition for Ajax in September 2018, he has been directly involved in more goals than any other player for the club with 14 (seven goals and seven assists).

14 - The number is also the total shots the Danish side have had on goal in this season's competition; they have the highest expected goals total (2.08) of any of the three teams yet to score.

Porto v Marseille

12 - A defeat in this match for Marseille would see them become only the third team in history to lose 12 consecutive matches in Europe's premier club competition, after Anderlecht (12 between 2003 and 2005) and Jeunesse Esch (16 between 1973 and 1987).

5 - Porto have won five of their past six home games in the Champions League, with their only defeat in this run coming in April 2019 against Liverpool; the team who went on to win the competition that season.

Ajax have named a squad of just 17 players for Tuesday's Champions League meeting with Midtjylland due to a reported coronavirus outbreak in their camp.

According to Dutch outlets De Telegraaf and RTL Nieuws, 11 players from the first and second team tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the trip to Denmark.

The club have not confirmed the reason for the reduced numbers in their travelling party.

Ryan Gravenberch, Davy Klaassen, Dusan Tadic, Andre Onana and Maarten Stekelenburg have been omitted from Ajax's group.

Kjell Scherpen, who has yet to make a senior appearance for the Eredivise side, is therefore the only goalkeeper available to Erik ten Hag for the game.

Ajax have picked up one point from their opening two Group D matches with Liverpool and Atalanta, leaving them in need of a positive result against Midtjylland.

Under UEFA rules, Ajax must play the game if 13 or more players on its A list are available.

A defender appears to be high on the list for Liverpool, with Virgil van Dijk recovering from a serious knee injury.

Ajax's Perr Schuurs is no stranger to Merseyside and the 20-year-old is reportedly attracting interest from Liverpool.

Could another Dutchman be set for Anfield?

 

TOP STORY – REDS EYEING AJAX SENSATION

Liverpool are monitoring Ajax centre-back Perr Schuurs amid their injury crisis, according to The Mirror.

With Virgil van Dijk recovering from a serious knee injury, Premier League champions Liverpool are looking to bolster their defensive options.

Schuurs previously trialled at Anfield and the 20-year-old has emerged as an option for Liverpool.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca says Real Madrid are not planning any January signings as they eye further sales. Los Blancos have been linked with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland.

- Calciomercato reports Milan are continuing to monitor Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic. The Serbia international has also been linked with Inter and Manchester United previously.

Chelsea are chasing Malmo's Anel Ahmedhodzic, claims Expressen. The 21-year-old has impressed at the Swedish club.

- Madrid midfielder Isco is keen to link up with former boss Carlo Ancelotti at Everton, according to The Mirror. James Rodriguez has starred since swapping Madrid for Everton.

Cristiano Ronaldo is pushing Juventus to sign PSG's Angel Di Maria, reports Calciomercato. The pair played together at Madrid.

Erik ten Hag's Ajax matched Johan Cruyff's record in Eredivisie following Saturday's 5-2 win over lowly Fortuna Sittard.

Ajax improved their tally to 250 goals in 82 matches under head coach Ten Hag after overturning an early deficit against bottom side Fortuna in Amsterdam.

It is only the second time an Eredivisie team have scored at least 250 goals in their first 82 games under a specific manager after Cruyff's Ajax in 1987, per Opta.

Ten Hag took charge of Ajax in 2017 and the 50-year-old has guided the Dutch giants to Eredivisie, KNVB Cup and Johan Cruyff Shield glory, while he oversaw the club's memorable run to the 2018-19 Champions League semi-final.

Ajax midfielder Davy Klaassen scored a first-half brace to cancel out George Cox's seventh-minute opener on Saturday.

Brian Brobbey, Dusan Tadic and Quincy Promes were also on target for hosts Ajax, who are top of the table on goal difference through seven matches.

Brobbey (18 years and 173 days) became the youngest player to score a goal on his Eredivisie debut for Ajax since Jairo Riedewald (17 years and 104 days) in December 2013.

Lionel Messi may yet remain at Barcelona.

Messi, 33, stunningly requested to leave the LaLiga giants during the close season but ended up staying at Camp Nou.

However, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has still been expected to leave at the end of his contract next year.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA'S CHANCES OF KEEPING MESSI BOOSTED

The resignation of president Josep Maria Bartomeu has boosted Barcelona's chances of keeping Messi beyond 2021, according to The Telegraph.

Messi has spent his entire professional career at Barcelona, winning 10 LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues among numerous other trophies.

Manchester City and Inter have been most heavily linked with a move for Messi.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United sent a scout to watch RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano against Nurnberg in the DFB-Pokal last month, according to Bild. Upamecano has been linked with United previously and played 90 minutes as the Premier League side thrashed RB Leipzig 5-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday.

- With Virgil van Dijk injured, could Liverpool be eyeing Bayern Munich defender David Alaba? The Daily Star reports the Premier League champions were handed a boost in their prospects of a January transfer for Alaba after the defender's contract talks with Bayern collapsed. Alaba is out of contract next year.

- Manchester United, Barcelona and Juventus could be set for a transfer battle. The Mirror says United have joined Barcelona and Juventus in becoming interested in Ajax's 18-year-old midfielder Ryan Gravenberch.

- Inter may be in the market for a left wing-back in January. CalcioMercato reports the Serie A giants may look at Chelsea duo Marcos Alonso and Emerson Palmieri, two players they have been linked with previously.

Life comes at you fast. So, too, does the Champions League this season, as a rearranged fixture list sees three matchdays in the group stage take place in as many weeks. 

The opening round of fixtures did not disappoint, providing plenty of goals and also the odd surprise. 

Perhaps the most shocking result of all was Real Madrid losing at home to Shakhtar Donetsk, and both clubs are back in action on Tuesday. 

Bayern Munich are also on duty as they head to Moscow, while Midtjylland will be hoping they can pull off the mother of all upsets when they visit Merseyside to play Liverpool. 

 

Lokomotiv Moscow v Bayern: Holders head on their travels

The reigning champions opened their defence in style last week, thrashing Atletico Madrid 4-0 at the Allianz Arena. Now they face Lokomotiv in Europe for the first time since a UEFA Cup tie in the 1995-96 season. 

Bayern will be aiming to extend a club-record run of 13 away games without defeat, their last loss on the road coming against Paris Saint-Germain in September 2017. They have won 10 on their travels since, while have only lost once in 14 Champions League meetings with Russian teams. 

Robert Lewandowski scored nine away goals in the Champions League last term, the joint-most by a player in a single edition of the competition alongside Cristiano Ronaldo in 2013-14. 

Shakhtar v Inter: Lukaku the one to watch for hosts

Shakhtar arguably pulled off the result of matchday one with victory in Madrid, though they have never managed to beat Inter in three previous meetings (D1 L2). This, though, will be the first Champions League fixture between the clubs. They have also failed to register a home win in their last six attempts in the competition, stretching back to a 2-1 triumph over Roma in February 2018.

The key to success for the hosts will surely be stopping Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian is on the longest run of scoring in consecutive European appearances for Inter (nine games), while he has been directly involved in 15 goals during that period (11 goals and four assists).

Lukaku has scored in each of his last three Champions League games for the Nerazurri; he could become just the fifth player to score in four in a row for the Italian side, a feat previously achieved by Christian Vieri, Hernan Crespo, Samuel Eto'o and Lautaro Martinez.

Borussia Monchengladbach v Real Madrid: Benzema may be key for Zidane

Can Zinedine Zidane's squad bounce back? A Clasico triumph over rivals Barcelona has helped silence the critics - for now at least.

Madrid are unbeaten in their last nine matches against German teams (W6 D3), a run that started after a 2-0 defeat to Wolfsburg in April 2016. They have won four of their last five away fixtures in the group stages, too.

Karim Benzema, who did not start against Shakhtar, has been directly involved in 19 goals in his last 21 Champions League games when named in the XI, netting 14 goals and providing five assists.

Liverpool v Midtjylland: Salah chases record as Danes visit Anfield

Jurgen Klopp's Reds play their first European home game since a 3-2 reverse to Atletico in March that ended their hopes of reaching a third successive final. That is their only setback in the last 26 European fixtures at Anfield.

There is hope for the Danish side in that Liverpool have failed to keep a clean sheet in their previous four home Champions League fixtures, though the makeshift pairing of Joe Gomez and Fabinho did keep Ajax at bay in Amsterdam in matchday one. Yes, the same Ajax who won 13-0 at the weekend.

As for the hosts, Mohamed Salah is two goals away from equalling Steven Gerrard's club record of 21 in the European Cup/Champions League.

 

Other fixtures:

Marseille v Manchester City:

8 - City games usually provide goals; both teams have scored in each of their last eight Champions League fixtures. They are on their longest wait for a clean sheet in the competition since between February 2015 and 2016 (nine matches).

32 - Dimitri Payet is still looking for his first goal in the competition. He has attempted 32 shots without scoring (21 for Lille and 11 for Marseille).

Atalanta v Ajax:

9 - Ajax are unbeaten in their last nine away games in the Champions League (W6 D3), winning six of their last seven. Only in two of their 15 previous Champions League campaigns have the Dutch side started with two consecutive defeats (2004-05 and 2012-13).

10 - Only Barcelona (11) had more shots on target during the opening round of fixtures this season than Atalanta's tally of 10 in the 4-0 thrashing of Midtjylland.

Porto v Olympiacos:

6 - These clubs have previously faced each other on six occasions in all European competitions, with Porto winning twice. Both of those victories came at home (D1 L3).

12 - Olympiacos have lost 12 of their last 14 away games in the Champions League (W2), losing the last seven in a row and shipping at least two goals in each of those defeats (21 in total).

Atletico Madrid v Salzburg:

1 - Dominik Szoboszlai could become the youngest Hungarian player to score in consecutive Champions League games (aged 20 years and two days), having found the net in Salzburg's 2-2 draw with Lokomotiv.

8 - Atletico are unbeaten in all eight of their previous meetings with Austrian teams in European competition (W7 D1). Having lost their last two European fixtures, they will be looking to avoid suffering three consecutive defeats for the first time in Champions League history.

It remains to be seen whether Pep Guardiola will re-sign with Manchester City.

Guardiola's contract expires at the end of the season in Manchester.

Should the Spaniard decide to move on, there are already two men on the list to replace him.

 

TOP STORY – CITY INTERESTED IN NAGELSMANN

Manchester City are eyeing RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann as a possible replacement for Pep Guardiola, according to the Daily Mail.

Guardiola is out of contract at the end of the 2020-21 campaign and the City manager – who has been previously linked to Juventus – is no closer to re-signing.

Should Guardiola decide to leave after arriving in 2016, Nagelsmann and former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino are early candidates.

 

ROUND-UP

Sergio Ramos and LaLiga champions Real Madrid remain deadlocked over contract talks, claims the front page of Monday's Diario AS. The 34-year-old is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and he wants a two-year deal, though Madrid are only committed to 12 months.

- Tuttosport reports Juve and Barcelona are both pursuing Ajax sensation Ryan Gravenberch. The 18-year-old midfielder emerged from Ajax's youth system in 2018.

Barcelona will block a January loan offer from Ligue 1 holders Paris Saint-Germain for Riqui Puig, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Kylian Mbappe extending his PSG contract has not been ruled out, claims L'Equipe. Tipped to eventually join Madrid, while the likes of Liverpool, Barca and Manchester United have also been linked, Mbappe could stay in Paris should certain conditions be met. The Frenchman is keen to see what unfolds in the next transfer windows.

Ajax became the first team to score 13 goals in a single Eredivise game with a thumping 13-0 win over VVV-Venlo.

Erik ten Hag's side bounced back in remarkable style following their midweek defeat to Liverpool in the Champions League, beating their own record from 1972 when they thrashed Vitesse 12-1.

Lassina Traore particularly enjoyed himself against the most accommodating of hosts, becoming the first Ajax player to score five goals in an Eredivisie game since Marco van Basten in 1985 and the first to record three assists for the club in a league match since Frenkie de Jong in 2017.

That stunning display meant the Burkina Faso striker became the first player this century to be directly involved in eight goals in a Eredivisie match.

Venlo, who had Christian Kum sent off with the score at 4-0, are left to reflect on their biggest ever defeat in a professional game, with their previous heaviest loss a 10-1 reverse to PSV in 1964.

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