Former Italy, Juventus and World Cup-winning boss Marcello Lippi said he is "definitely done" with coaching.

Lippi has been without a job since resigning as China head coach in November last year following a 2022 World Cup qualifying defeat to Syria – his second stint in charge of the Asian nation lasting just six months.

The 72-year-old tasted silverware with Italy, Serie A giants Juventus and Chinese powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande but the Italian great will not be returning to the dugout.

"I'm definitely done with the coaching job," Lippi told Radio Sportiva. "That's right, it's enough.

"Maybe I could be useful in other roles, let's see. But nothing until spring."

After spells with Atalanta and Napoli, Lippi took charge of Juventus in 1994 – guiding the Bianconeri to three Serie A titles and the club's last Champions League trophy in 1995-96.

Across two stints as Juve coach, sandwiched in between a one-year tenure with rivals Inter, Lippi won five Serie A trophies, four Supercoppa Italiana crowns, the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup and Coppa Italia.

After leaving Juventus in 2004, Lippi helped Italy to World Cup glory in 2006 and he was re-appointed by the Azzurri in 2008 following two years away from the national team.

In China, Lippi joined Guangzhou Evergrande in 2012 and claimed three Chinese Super League titles and the AFC Champions League trophy to go with Chinese FA Cup and Chinese FA Super Cup success.

 

Holders Bayern Munich begin their Champions League defence with the visit of Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, in a game that will pit Robert Lewandowski against Luis Suarez.

Liverpool, winners in 2019, travel to Ajax, and Real Madrid host Shakhtar Donetsk, with two of the competition's most successful clubs hoping to avoid some worrying runs of defeats.

Antonio Conte's Inter tackle Borussia Monchengladbach and Manchester City host Porto, a team who boast a rather unfortunate record when it comes to games on English soil.

Here is some of the key Opta data from day two of matchday one.

Ajax v Liverpool: Can Firmino stop the rot?

This will be Liverpool's first meeting with Ajax since the 1966-67 European Cup, when the Dutch side prevailed 7-3 on aggregate in the last 16.

Liverpool's campaign last season ended at the same stage with back-to-back losses to Atletico Madrid. Should they lose in Amsterdam, it will be the first time since Brendan Rodgers was in charge in October to November 2014 that they have suffered three consecutive Champions League defeats.

Perhaps Roberto Firmino is the man to help them. He has been directly involved in 26 goals (15 scored, 11 assisted) in 33 Champions League matches; since his debut in 2017-18, the only other player with 10 or more goals and assists in that time is Kylian Mbappe (13 goals, 13 assists).

 

Bayern Munich v Atletico Madrid: Lewandowski has history in his sights

Bayern were the first team in history to win every game en route to lifting the trophy last season, and their 11-game winning run is already the longest ever in the competition.

Should Robert Lewandowski score, he will become the first player to do so in 10 Champions League group games in a row. He currently shares the record of nine with Cristiano Ronaldo, who did so from 2012 to 2014.

Atletico have only won twice in their previous 10 group games away from home, but Luis Suarez could give them the boost they need – he has scored five goals in his last five starts in the competition, as many as he managed in his previous 31 starts combined.

 

Real Madrid v Shakhtar Donetsk: Zidane puts 100 per cent record on the line

Real Madrid have been in the Champions League group stage 28 times and have never failed to reach the next round. Leeds United, who did so twice, are the only other team to feature in more than one group stage and boast a 100 per cent record.

That said, Madrid lost their final two games last season – both legs of the last-16 tie with Manchester City – and losing to Shakhtar Donetsk would put them on a three-match losing streak in the Champions League or European Cup for the first time since September 1986.

With captain Sergio Ramos injured, Zinedine Zidane will have concerns about his defence. At least the forward line is in capable hands: Karim Benzema has managed four goals and two assists across six consecutive home games in the competition, and Shakhtar have failed to keep a clean sheet in 22 Champions League matches in a row.

Manchester City v Porto: More English misery?

Porto have played 20 away games against English sides in Europe and have failed to win any. In fact, they have lost 17 of those games and have not scored in the previous seven. They do at least go into this contest off a run of just two defeats in 16 Champions League group-stage matches.

City have a pretty strong recent record in the group stage, having gone unbeaten in 11 games since a surprise 2-1 loss to Lyon in September 2018. They also have Raheem Sterling in sharp form: the forward has scored 20 goals in the competition since his debut for City in September 2015, a tally only Harry Kane can match among English players in that time.

 

Other fixtures:

Inter v Borussia Monchengladbach:

9 – Romelu Lukaku has scored nine goals in 11 appearances in European competition for Inter. Since the start of last season, only Robert Lewandowski (15) and Erling Haaland (10) have netted more across the Champions League and Europa League.

8 – Strike partner Lautaro Martinez has scored five in six Champions League starts and eight in 14 in Europe overall for the Nerazzurri.

 

Salzburg v Lokomotiv Moscow:

10 – Since September 2018, Lokomotiv Moscow have lost 10 Champions League games, more than any other club in that time.

16 – Salzburg scored 16 group-stage goals last season but finished third in their group. The only other team to score that many and get knocked out were Chelsea in 2012-13.

 

Midtjylland v Atalanta:

16 – Atalanta have scored at least once in 16 of their previous 17 European games, including nine in three matches in last season's knockouts. Josip Ilicic has nine goals in 13 European appearances for the club.

18 – Midtjylland conceded 18 goals in eight matches in the 2015-16 Europa League, their previous involvement in Europe. No team conceded more that season.

 

Olympiacos v Marseille:

3 – This will be Andre Villas-Boas' first Champions League game since March 2016. He has lost his most recent three matches in the competition.

41 – Steve Mandanda has made 41 appearances in the competition, the most for any Marseille player in history. The goalkeeper accounts for 37 per cent of the total games played by current Marseille players in this tournament.

Gian Piero Gasperini knows Atalanta will not be able to catch anyone by surprise in this season's Champions League as they aim to qualify from a difficult group that includes Liverpool.

The Serie A side marked their debut campaign in Europe's leading club competition in 2019-20 by reaching the quarter-finals, having fought back impressively from a shocking start to qualify for the knockout stages.

Atalanta overcame three straight defeats to progress behind Manchester City, and will once again come up against the reigning Premier League champions this term.

They have been drawn alongside Liverpool, a team Gasperini describes as "extraordinary" following their achievements in recent years under Jurgen Klopp, as well as Ajax and Midtjylland.

The aim once again is for Atalanta to make the last 16, even if opponents know what to expect when they come up against them now.

"Liverpool are an extraordinary team. They won the Champions League two years ago and last season they dominated the Premier League," Gasperini said while appearing at the Festival dello Sport.

"They are one of the best teams in the world and it's going to be very difficult against them, as it was against Manchester City.

"I always said that in this sort of game we need to learn as much experience as we can, despite the need to get results.

"Obviously we hope to do well, as we did against City. Our goal is to come out from Liverpool's games with more knowledge of what it means to face the best teams in the world.

"Our ambition is to pass the group stage and if last season we were a surprise for many people, this year we are not. But to go through against Ajax, and also the Danish team Midtjylland, we will need to do something very important."

Atalanta finished third in the Italian top flight in 2019-20 and have started the new campaign in outstanding form, reeling off three successive victories prior to the international break while scoring a combined total of 13 goals.

In doing so, they became the first team in the history of Serie A to have scored four or more in each of their first three games of a season. The last side to achieve that feat in the top five European leagues was Real Madrid, back in 1987-88.

Atalanta have received approval from UEFA to stage Champions League matches at their home stadium in Bergamo this coming season.

The Serie A side have had to play their home European games away from Stadio di Bergamo for the past three seasons due to insufficiencies with the ground.

However, after spending two years at Sassuolo's Mapei Stadium and last season at San Siro - in the Europa League and Champions League respectively - Atalanta are now able to play continental fixtures in their home city.

The ground, recently renamed the Gewiss Stadium for sponsorship reasons, has undergone radical renovation and UEFA confirmed on Wednesday it is now fit for purpose. 

Last season's quarter-finalists will take on Ajax in their first Champions League match at the ground on October 27.

Liverpool and Midtjylland will also travel to Bergamo in Group D.

Manchester United have reached an agreement with Atalanta to sign 18-year-old winger Amad Diallo. 

The Premier League club have said the Ivorian will join the club "at a later date, subject to medical, personal terms and work permit".

In a statement on their official website, the club also said they had been tracking Diallo since 2016 when he was spotted playing at Under-15 level. 

Diallo featured three times for the Italian club's first team last season, scoring on his debut in a 7-1 rout of Udinese in October. 

United have not revealed how much the deal is worth but reports suggest it is in the region of £37million. 

United had a busy transfer deadline day, bringing in Edinson Cavani on a free transfer and Alex Telles from Porto, while Chris Smalling made a permanent move to Serie A side Roma.

Atalanta made history with their 5-2 win over Cagliari on Sunday as they became the first side to score four or more goals in each of their first three Serie A matches of a season.

Five different scorers registered for the hosts at the Gewiss Stadium to help last season's Champions League quarter-finalists achieve a third straight victory to begin the 2020-21 campaign.

After beating Torino 4-2 in their opening game and Lazio 4-1 last weekend, Gian Piero Gasperini's side were once again at their free-flowing best against Cagliari.

Luis Muriel's VAR-awarded goal inside seven minutes got the ball rolling for Atalanta and Papu Gomez curled in a second after debutant Diego Godin had equalised.

Mario Pasalic and Duvan Zapata found the net before half-time and, after Joao Pedro pulled another back for Cagliari, Sam Lammers rounded things off with his first goal for the club.

Real Madrid were the last side in Europe's top five divisions to start a league campaign with four or more goals in each of their first three games, doing so in 1987-88.

But Atalanta boss Gasperini insists there is still more to come from his side, who finished last season five points off champions Juventus in third place.

"We played with plenty of quality even if there is always something to improve. But I am happy," he told DAZN.

"This team has been built on a very solid basis. We've been working with a well-defined team for the last three years and with the help of everybody."

As a kid, Dejan Kulusevski always appeared to have something special about him.

This quality didn't lend itself to a brash, arrogant personality, rather his self-belief reflected a quiet confidence, a humble attitude.

While the young Swedish winger might have started the 2019-20 season as something of an unknown quantity for many as he began a loan spell with Parma, to those who know him best he has been on the path to excellence for a long time.

A product of Brommapojkarna's academy, Kulusevski's ambition – and ability – had seen him stand out way before he secured a move to Atalanta soon after his 16th birthday in July 2016.

Four years on, Kulusevski is a Juventus player, having cost an initial €35million, and preparing for his first competitive match with the Bianconeri on Sunday, as Sampdoria visit Turin.

A lot has changed in such a short period, but those who have been key to his development are adamant Kulusevski has the character to cope.

A quest for personal improvement

Roland Nilsson, now Sweden's Under-21 coach, has worked with Kulusevski since he was just 15. "I worked with him with the Under-16s and I could see he was a very good player," he told Stats Perform News. "We knew straight away that clubs from abroad had been there watching and I could understand why.

"It was one of those where it was always decided [moving abroad early]. When he talked about moving to Italy, that was his thing, to progress as a footballer and educate himself in the long run, not the short term. He needed to go somewhere to educate himself, he knew it would be hard and he knew the work that needed to be put in was his own."

Kulusevski moved to Bergamo alone to live in club-arranged accommodation, taking him completely out of his comfort zone and away from everything he knew – but his mentality had already set him apart from others.

"It was going to be tough but his mind was set to do the job and being focused on it, which has been a strength of his through the years," Nilsson continued. "You're always surprised when it goes that quickly [for a player], but at the same time, with the skills he has, his mental strength as well and the awareness of what he needs to be doing, those are the key things for him, and the work rate he puts in on the pitch shows he's serious about what he's doing."

Andreas Engelmark, first-team assistant and technical director at Brommapojkarna, has known Kulusevski even longer, first coaching him in 2012 when the tricky winger – then just 12 – played in the year above his age group. The pair even trained together during the coronavirus pandemic.

"He's an easy guy to work with because he's always going to give you everything," Engelmark told Stats Perform News. "His mindset is very strong, he was confident he was going to make it back then and I think he's confident he's going to do well now. All players have doubt in themselves at times, but his mindset – he believes in himself but at the same time is humble."

'He has everything necessary to be a success'

There was never any doubt about Kulusevski's ability – technically gifted and a fine dribbler, but he wasn't without fault, as Engelmark explained: "The first time I coached him I was like, 'this guy has a great skill set but he's not working hard enough, not defending, he needs to use his team-mates more'."

Engelmark found a player receptive to such feedback and always willing to learn, taking criticism on board and using it to further himself, which subsequently improved him individually and the team.

"His work rate got higher and higher, but when we played good opponents he worked even harder," Engelmark continued. "In the last six months to a year with me, I think something happened – he started working harder than everyone else. He was our best player offensively, but he was also the guy who worked the most."

Nilsson also noticed that improvement. "He knows that has been a bit of his weakness before, but he's taken that along with everything else and that's what he shows today – he does everything up and down [the wing]."

 

Such observations are backed up by the fact Kulusevski managed 5.25 ball recoveries and 4.22 dribbles per 90 minutes last term, both well above the respective averages for his position (4.1 and 0.92).

Kulusevski has just a single full season of Serie A experience under hit belt, though there was a maturity to his performances while on loan at Parma last term that belies his fledgling status.

With 10 goals and eight assists in Serie A, he was the youngest player across Europe's top five leagues to reach at least eight in both metrics and the first foreign under-21 talent to net 10 times in Italy's top flight since 2012-13.

Similarly, of all players in Europe's top five leagues to accumulate 15 goal involvements in 2019-20, only Erling Haaland was younger – by three months – than Kulusevski.

Nevertheless, Engelmark feels Kulusevski will be challenged by transitioning – both mentality and performance-wise – from the expectations he has previously experienced, to those at perennial-winners Juventus.

"He has everything necessary to be a success at that level, but what will be interesting is his consistency," he mused. "At Parma obviously his team-mates were good, but not top-level like at Juve now. At Parma they were defending a lot and they get out on the counter, so obviously he can go in and out of the game and it doesn't really matter.

"For them, dominating isn't so important, it's about being smart and taking your chances, but at Juventus obviously they dominate teams, so it'll be important to be consistent for 90 minutes and be involved more."

Kulu the craftsman

With Parma, Kulusevski was one of the revelations of the 2019-20 season, his creative talents earmarking him as among the best.

His 78 key passes worked out at 2.17 per match, more than double the average for players in his position (1.02). In turn, he averaged 0.22 assists every 90 minutes, but the norm for others in similar roles was 0.09.

One of Kulusevski's most obvious strengths is his ability on the ball, with his close control aided by the fact he is strong on both feet (four goals came with his weaker right foot).

He completed 77 dribbles last season, 2.14 every 90 minutes, which is also a major increase on the 0.92 average for Kulusevksi's position.

Similarly, the young Swede proved himself a notable threat in front of goal. While players in comparable roles would expect 0.35 shots on target every game, Kulusevski's record was 0.72.

As Engelmark noted, one of the main differences for Kulusevski this term will be the change from playing in a team used to being on the back foot to one generally in the ascendancy.

He appears to have the all-round capabilities to be a real asset, particularly given his attacking output was excellent for a middling team, but maintaining that and producing consistently under greater pressure will be a new challenge.

For players of a certain age and skill set, there can be a tendency to go overboard when attempting to establish themselves, and Nilsson's advice is to take belief in what has gone before.

"I would say, go out and play the way as you've done before, not 'over-proving' for everyone else that he's a good player. They know he is good, but you need to show everyone else that you are, and when you move to a team like Juve you need to show up."

The special attributes he has shown since he was a kid will stand Kulusevski in good stead, but arguably the vital element will be his mentality – Nilsson and Engelmark appear in no doubt this all-action winger will leave no stone unturned in his quest to reach the top.

Amine Harit has ruled out moving away from Schalke on the eve of the new Bundesliga season.

Morocco international Harit has been linked with a €20million move to last season's Champions League quarter-finalists Atalanta.

The 23-year-old, who missed the end of last season with an ankle injury, was reportedly reprimanded by coach David Wagner over his fitness during pre-season training.

The transfer window will remain open until October 5 but Harit insists he is not looking to leave Schalke.

"Schalke have a lot of confidence in me. I only extended my contract until 2024 in early December," Harit told Kicker.

"If I didn't want to stay at Schalke as long as possible, I wouldn't have extended my contract when it still had 18 months to run.

"I'm happy here, and all that matters to me is Schalke. Everything else is beyond my control.

"I'm facing my fourth season at Schalke. To be honest, when I signed three years ago it wasn't necessarily foreseeable that I would stay that long.

"But things have changed and developed, and I'm very happy about that."

Schalke begin their 2020-21 Bundesliga campaign away to reigning champions Bayern Munich on Friday.

Gareth Bale is returning to Tottenham.

Linked with a move from Real Madrid after being frozen out, the Wales international was reportedly a target for Manchester United.

But it seems Bale is heading back to Spurs.

 

TOP STORY – BALE TO COMPLETE TOTTENHAM RETURN

Bale is completing a return to Tottenham from Madrid, according to The Daily Mail.

The report says Bale has agreed to a season-long loan deal worth more than £13million, part of which will be financed by Madrid.

It comes as ESPN reported Spurs head coach Jose Mourinho sanctioned the move despite being warned Bale would struggle to meet expectations in the Premier League.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Tottenham and Sergio Reguilon will complete a medical at the club on Thursday before sealing a move from Madrid, according to the Evening Standard. The left-back, who was also linked to United, is set to cost around £25m (€27.5m) and the deal will include a buy-back option for LaLiga's champions. Meanwhile, the Mirror reports Danny Rose is set to leave Tottenham and join Genoa.

- Arsenal could be set to make a move for Lyon star Houssem Aouar. Telefoot reports Arsenal are set to make a £36.4m (€40m) offer for Aouar, who is also apparently a target for Manchester City.

- Still linked with a move for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, United are also apparently targeting other attackers. The Manchester Evening News reports the Red Devils are considering a move for Atalanta's 18-year-old attacker Amad Traore.

- Barcelona may be close to strengthening. The Daily Telegraph claims the Catalan giants are set to sign Ajax defender Sergino Dest, who was also linked to City and Bayern Munich.

- Could Inter make a move for United defender Chris Smalling? The centre-back seemed set to join Roma, where he was on loan last season, but no switch has materalised. Now, CalcioMercato reports Inter could step in and offer one of Ivan Perisic, Marcelo Brozovic or Joao Mario to the Premier League club.

- Leicester City are set to land Cengiz Under from Roma. Fabrizio Romano says a £2.7m (€3m) loan bid with a £21.8m (€24m) obligation to buy the 23-year-old attacker has been accepted.

Leicester City's Timothy Castagne says he decided to leave Atalanta after being left out of the Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain.

The Belgium international scored on his debut for Leicester in Sunday's 3-0 Premier League win at West Brom.

He joined Brendan Rodgers' side on a five-year deal after impressing during three seasons with Atalanta, with his versatility as a wing-back capable of playing on either flank helping him to stand out.

However, Castagne says part of the reason he chose to move clubs was because he wanted a more regular playing position.

When he was omitted from the starting line-up for the 2-1 loss to PSG, coming on as a substitute with just eight minutes of normal time remaining, he knew the time was right to leave Bergamo.

"I could have renewed the contract," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"The decision came after the game against PSG. The technical situation weighed on me. I'd been tried in the starting XI all week, and the night [of the game] I was left out. Honestly, it was a surprise.

"I needed to play regularly in the same role: once, I was on the right, then on the left, then on the bench. It wasn't exactly the best."

Castagne also suggested he would have preferred a more forthright relationship with Atalanta head coach Gian Piero Gasperini.

"Technically and tactically, he is among the absolute elite, but there wasn't a great relationship on a human level - not because of any particular problem between us," he said.

"He has his own way of doing things. For example, if you're left out, it would be important to have an explanation from the coach. But that's okay: this made me stronger mentally."

Atalanta have completed the signing of Russia international midfielder Aleksey Miranchuk from Lokomotiv Moscow.

The 24-year-old is reported to have joined until 2025 and is understood to have cost an initial €14.5million.

Lokomotiv announced at the end of August they had agreed a fee with Atalanta for the attacking midfielder, but only on Friday did the Serie A club confirm the deal had been concluded.

Capped 25 times by Russia, Miranchuk made his senior Lokomotiv debut as a 17-year-old in April 2013 and went on to play 228 times for the club, where his twin Anton remains a player.

He had reportedly been tracked by Milan, among other clubs, but he bolsters the creative options of Atalanta, who are preparing for a second successive season in the Champions League.

Miranchuk is likely to miss the first few games of the 2020-21 Serie A season due to a hamstring injury.

Leicester City have signed Belgium full-back Timothy Castagne from Atalanta on a five-year deal.

The Foxes have paid the Serie A club an undisclosed fee, reported to be £21.5million (€24.1m), to take the versatile 24-year-old to the King Power Stadium subject to Premier League and international clearance.

Castagne joins Brendan Rodgers' side just over a week after England left-back Ben Chilwell made a big-money move to Chelsea.

Capped seven times by Belgium, Castagne can play on either side of the defence and helped Atalanta reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League last season, as well as secure a third-place finish in Serie A.

Castagne will link up with his new team-mates, including compatriots Youri Tielemans and Dennis Praet, after he has been on international duty.

He came through the youth system at Genk and spent three seasons with the club before making the move to Italy.

After three campaigns with Atalanta, Castagne will now get an opportunity to ply his trade in the Premier League for a Leicester side that just missed out on a Champions League spot last season.

It appears that, if Lionel Messi has his way, he will be playing for a new club before long.

The Barcelona captain and talisman has told his employers that he wants to leave and, although the club seem determined to keep him, they may be fighting a losing battle.

Of course, prising Messi away from Barca is by no means straightforward. His basic salary is said to be roughly €71million and, when you add in bonuses and other possible commitments, that represents a huge outlay on a 33-year-old player.

That's before you consider the prospect of a nine-figure transfer fee, assuming he cannot successfully argue that the clause allowing him to walk away from Barca for nothing is still valid. Only a tiny handful of clubs are even capable of pulling off such a deal, particularly in a financial landscape changed by COVID-19.

But what if, just for a minute, we 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.

Plus, given the players they have signed from Ajax in the past - Frenkie de Jong 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 have gone through some tricky times but Markus Gisdol has done a brilliant job in steadying the ship in the Bundesliga and was rewarded with a new contract until June 2023.

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. 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.

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 footballing 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.

MARSEILLE

If he's not ready to give up the Mediterranean lifestyle, Marseille is parfait for Messi.

OM remain the only French men's team to be champions of Europe - something of which they've been keen to remind fans of Paris Saint-Germain in recent days - and their supporters are possibly the loudest outside South America. Messi's Marseille beating Neymar's PSG would probably cause a year-long street party.

Head coach Andre Villas-Boas has compared Dimitri Payet to Messi, so you can only imagine he'd be thrilled to have them both. As for getting him there, sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta knows him only too well from his time at Barca.

In fact, Zubizarreta was another to be forced out by Josep Maria Bartomeu's operations. He'd probably like nothing better than to share a quiet cassis on the Cote d'Azur, reminiscing about those Camp Nou troubles.

Paris Saint-Germain have been fined by UEFA over a late start to the second half in their Champions League quarter-final win over Atalanta.

The French champions must pay €30,000 and coach Thomas Tuchel has been served with a warning after being deemed responsible by the UEFA control, ethics and disciplinary body.

UEFA announced its decisions in a short statement on Friday.

Wednesday's match in Lisbon saw Atalanta take a 1-0 lead into half-time, with PSG scraping a dramatic 2-1 victory thanks to goals from Marquinhos in the 90th minute and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting in stoppage time.

PSG will face Bundesliga side RB Leipzig on Tuesday for a place in the final.

So, the Jadon Sancho saga rambles on.

Manchester United want to sign Sancho, but Borussia Dortmund are adamant the 20-year-old will be staying put in 2020-21.

Could Barcelona and Real Madrid enter the mix?

 

TOP STORY – UNITED BRACED FOR SANCHO BATTLE

Manchester United believe Barcelona and Real Madrid will enter the race to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to The Mirror.

United have identified Sancho as their number one transfer target, however, Dortmund continually insist the England international will not leave the Bundesliga team.

If United fail to land Sancho this off-season, the Red Devils are bracing for a three-way battle with LaLiga giants Barca and Madrid next year.

ROUND-UP

- Cristiano Ronaldo to Barcelona? The Juventus superstar's entourage told AS he is happy in Italy, despite claims the former Madrid forward has been offered to the LaLiga outfit as the Scudetto holders look to free up cash.

- Journalist Fabrizio Romano claims Premier League champions Liverpool are in contact with Bundesliga holders Bayern Munich regarding Thiago Alcantara. The Spanish star has also emerged as a possible target for Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

- Tuttosport says Paulo Dybala could be offered to United in exchange for Paul Pogba. Dybala has been linked with Juve exits as the Serie A champions look to slash their wage bill. Dybala could be the player sacrificed in a bid to lure Pogba back to Turin, while Madrid and PSG are believed to be interested in the Argentina international.

- Barcelona star Luis Suarez is wanted by Qatari outfit Al-Arabi, says beIN SPORTS. Suarez is contracted to the LaLiga giants until 2021 as Barca eye Inter forward Lautaro Martinez as his long-term replacement.

Juve are eyeing a move for Atalanta forward Duvan Zapata, reports Calciomercato. Zapata starred as Atalanta finished third in Serie A and reached the Champions League quarter-finals. Juve – now led by Andrea Pirlo – have also been linked with Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik and Roma veteran Edin Dzeko.

- The Sun claims City are considering a £40million bid for Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks.

United are challenging rivals Chelsea for Leicester City full-back Ben Chilwell, who is valued at £80m, according to The Mirror.

Napoli are eyeing a double Roma raid, with Gazzetta dello Sport saying Cengiz Under and Jordan Veretout are on the list. With Jose Callejon and Allan set to leave, Napoli want to sign Roma's Under and Veretout.

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