Liverpool are reportedly considering their plans for Timo Werner should they land the RB Leipzig forward this close season.

Werner, 24, has been linked with a move to the Premier League leaders after a prolific campaign with the Bundesliga side.

But if the Germany international does sign for Liverpool ahead of 2020-21, he may not be in their initial plans.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL COULD LOAN WERNER BACK TO RB LEIPZIG IF FORWARD JOINS

Liverpool could loan Werner back to RB Leipzig for next season if they get a deal done ahead of 2020-21, according to Bild.

Werner has scored 27 goals in 35 games this season, leading to interest from across Europe.

The Germany international, capped 29 times by his country, said last month he was proud to be linked to Liverpool.

 

ROUND-UP

- Paulo Dybala is close to signing a five-year contract with Juventus, according to CalcioMercato, which reports only a late phone call from the attacker to his agent scuppered a move to Manchester United last year.

- Alexis Sanchez's future is unclear, but it appears it will not be at Inter. The Daily Mail reports the Serie A side have no interest in keeping the Chile international, who is on a season-long loan from Manchester United and has made just seven starts this campaign.

- Out of contract at the end of the season, Willian appears set for a Chelsea exit. Le 10 Sport reports Paris Saint-Germain are interested in the attacker, while Arsenal and Manchester United are their main rivals for the Brazil international's signature.

- Arsenal are lining up a move for Manchester City defender John Stones in the close season, according to TEAMtalk.

- Tahith Chong is yet to re-sign with Manchester United despite being out of contract at the end of the season. The Sun reports the Premier League club are confident they can convince the attacker to re-sign amid interest from the likes of Inter.

Aymeric Laporte was named in the starting line-up for Manchester City's Premier League trip to Sheffield United on Tuesday, completing his return from a knee injury.

City have been short at centre-back since Laporte sustained cartilage and meniscus damage in a 4-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion on August 31, having failed to replace Vincent Kompany.

However, the 25-year-old was handed his first appearance in almost five months as one of seven changes made by Pep Guardiola for the game at Bramall Lane on Tuesday.

Laporte was set to partner Nicolas Otamendi at centre-back, with Oleksandr Zinchenko and Kyle Walker taking the full-back positions.

Fernandinho, who has been used in defence for much of the campaign, had an opportunity to return to midfield alongside Rodrigo.

Sergio Aguero started on the bench, with Gabriel Jesus leading the line and flanked by Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling.

Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva dropped to the bench, while David Silva was not included in the matchday squad.

John Stones and Benjamin Mendy sustained muscle injuries in Saturday's 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace on Saturday and were not involved on Tuesday.

Pep Guardiola concedes Liverpool are "extraordinary", but he is more focused on improving Manchester City than worrying about how they stack up against the runaway Premier League leaders.

City have won the title in the past two seasons under Guardiola yet now trail Liverpool, who have a game in hand, by 16 points.

The Reds have dropped just two points in the top flight, but City manager Guardiola would prefer to focus on how the defending champions can raise their game.

"In terms of what we are as a team, we are open, we accept," he told a news conference before facing Sheffield United on Tuesday.

"We cannot deny it - the Liverpool team is extraordinary in terms of football, in terms of results.

"But every day I live almost 24 hours thinking about my team and what we are, what we are doing, what we can do better. I'm not too much distracted by other teams in other leagues or, in this case, Liverpool."

City have scored more league goals than any other team in the division this season, yet they have also conceded more than Sheffield United and last Saturday's opponents Crystal Palace, who claimed a 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium.

"We concede few, but the opponents score goals from a few chances," Guardiola said. "That is difficult to solve. We have to improve in this area.

"We have scored I don't know how many more goals than Liverpool [12], so our way is good. I don't have the statistics here, but I don't think we concede more chances in one game. From the few, we concede goals that we shouldn't and drop points.

"You start from Tottenham in the first game, they shoot twice in the half on target and score two goals. Norwich shoot three times and score three goals.

"When this happens, it's difficult to fight against this Liverpool. We have to improve in this area."

Guardiola revealed John Stones and Benjamin Mendy had knocks following the weekend draw, although he was not yet sure if the issues would keep them out against the Blades.

The Spaniard felt criticism of Stones after the Palace game, in which he appeared to struggle against Wilfried Zaha, was harsh.

"It was unfair, yeah," he said. "We are there, I am there. Ups and downs in the career, the football manager always has to be strong. We know his quality."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola lamented the poor defending that allowed Crystal Palace to escape with 2-2 draw after a thrilling finish at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The hosts were behind for the bulk of the contest after Cenk Tosun's 39th minute opener but Sergio Aguero punctuated the frustration with his 250th goal in City colours eight minutes from time.

Aguero duly headed home Benjamin Mendy's cross to put Guardiola's men ahead but there was a sting in the tail and Wilfried Zaha tore past the timid efforts of John Stones and forced Fernandinho to put through his own goal.

"We have to avoid the mistake we have made on the second goal," Guardiola told a post-match news conference.

"Just do not allow Zaha to run, it’s that simple. And we allowed it.

"No [it was not a loss of concentration], it was a decision. Concentration was always there. We are going to solve it and improve it.

"In those positions we need to have the back four there and not let them run on this counter-attack."

Although he did not name the England international specifically, this felt like a damning indictment of Stones' efforts in what has been a difficult campaign for a centre-back frequently short of form and fitness.

At the end of his forlorn pursuit of Zaha, Stones appeared to jar a knee but Guardiola could not offer a fitness update.

"I didn't see the doctors. Now we are going to see," he said.

Champions City are 13 points behind leaders Liverpool having played two games more and Guardiola gave a weary response to a question over whether the title race was still alive – suggesting he might be better served preparing for his team's Tuesday assignment at Sheffield United as opposed to watching Manchester United's trip to Anfield on Sunday.

"I answered the question millions of times in the past few weeks," he added.

"Maybe I will watch it, maybe I will see Sheffield United. I don't know."

City thought they had a penalty at 1-0 down, only for referee Graham Scott to overturn his decision after a VAR review of the incident when Jairo Riedewald deflected Raheem Sterling's cross on to his own arm.

Guardiola said of the incident. "I don’t know the rule of the hands, honestly. It looks like hands, but…"

Mikel Arteta has claimed there is "no truth" in speculation linking Arsenal with a move for Manchester City defender John Stones.

Injuries to Sead Kolasinac, Calum Chambers, Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin have left Arsenal short of numbers at the back.

Reports casting doubt over Stones' future at City have also emerged, with Arteta having been linked with a move for the England international, who he worked with for three-and-a-half years at City.

However, Arteta insisted there is little truth behind the speculation, despite acknowledging his admiration for Stones, who has not been a regular starter for City this season.

"Bad news for you guys I have nothing to say," Arteta told a news conference when asked if Arsenal were expecting any immediate incomings in the January transfer window.

"No, no truth at all," he added when pressed on the Stones reports, while the Gunners' coach also dismissed links with Milan midfielder Franck Kessie.

"John is a player I really like. When I look at centre-backs he's got many attributes I like but I'm not looking at him."

Arteta did, however, confirm Arsenal are keen to bolster their squad this window if the right opportunity arises.

"It has to be the right player, in the right context, that financially, we can do and attract," he said. "All these factors, we put them together, it's not easy in this market. I have a [wishlist] yes. 

"We have a lot of injuries, it can happen, between December and January it's very common. We have to live with the situation, it's what we have. We have to put 11 players out on the pitch on Saturday. They will try their best and I will try my best to select the ones which are the best fit."

Arsenal will be without leading scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for Saturday's clash with Sheffield United and subsequent meetings with Chelsea and Bournemouth – in the Premier League and FA Cup respectively – after the striker's three-match suspension for a red card against Crystal Palace was upheld.

It means much of the goal-scoring burden will be on Alexandre Lacazette, who has not found the net in a Premier League match since December 5.

"It's a concern for me if he is concerned about not scoring," said Arteta of Lacazette. "In terms of his performances, I'm really happy.

"You can give him confidence but the ball has to end up in the net. That's the best medicine."

Christian Eriksen appears set to get his move away from Tottenham.

Out of contract at the end of the season, Eriksen has been keen to test himself elsewhere after moving to Spurs in 2013.

Inter look poised to bring the Denmark playmaker to Milan…

 

TOP STORY – INTER IN NEGOTIATIONS WITH SPURS OVER ERIKSEN

Inter have offered €10million (£8.5m) plus bonuses to Tottenham after agreeing personal terms with Spurs star Eriksen, claims Sky Sport Italia.

With Inter head coach Antonio Conte keen for midfield reinforcements and soon-to-be free agent Eriksen eyeing a new club, a transfer is reportedly on the horizon.

However, The Mirror reports that Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain are ready to rival Inter for Eriksen.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to Sky Sports Germany, Paul Pogba is likely to leave Manchester United at the end of the season. Recovering from ankle surgery, Pogba continues to be linked with LaLiga giants Real Madrid and former club Juventus.

Manchester City will reject any bids for centre-back John Stones as Premier League rivals Arsenal circle, says the Daily Mail.

- Corriere dello Sport reports Matteo Politano and Leonardo Spinazzola are set to swap clubs. Inter winger Politano will join Roma, while full-back Spinazzola will move to the Nerazzurri.

- According to Gianluca Di Marzio and Tuttomercatoweb, PSV are prepared to pay €6m for Milan full-back Ricardo Rodriguez.

- Globoesporte says LaLiga champions Barcelona are close to signing Palmeiras midfielder Matheus Fernandes.

Bruno Fernandes is seemingly set for Manchester United, but just whether a deal can be done appears uncertain.

Fernandes, 25, has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford from Sporting CP in January.

But there are contrasting reports over the status of a potential deal as United look to strengthen amid an injury crisis.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD SET TO COMPLETE FERNANDES SIGNING

Manchester United are set to sign Fernandes for £60million (€70m) by the end of the week, according to The Sun.

However, the Daily Mail reports United are offering £50m (€58.4m) plus £10m (€11.7m) in add-ons and Sporting want £64m (€74.7m) up front.

Meanwhile, Fernandes has told Sporting he wants to make the move this month, according to The Telegraph, while reports in Portugal suggest Marcos Rojo could return to Lisbon as part of the deal.

ROUND-UP

- Inter and Tottenham started talks over Christian Eriksen on Monday, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The Serie A giants are reportedly hoping to land the midfielder for €10m (£8.6m) as his contract expires at the end of the season.

- John Stones has emerged as a transfer target for Arsenal. The Sun reports Mikel Arteta is targeting the Manchester City defender, even if it is a loan move. Stones has played just 10 Premier League games this season.

- With Harry Kane set to be sidelined until at least April, Tottenham are eyeing a forward. The Independent claims Milan's Krzysztof Piatek and Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani are options for Spurs this month.

- Another surprise target for Tottenham has emerged. Gazzetta dello Sport says Fernando Llorente could be set for a return to the Premier League club, having left at the end of last season and signed with Napoli.

- Inter are close to completing a deal for Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud, according to the Daily Mail. The report says Giroud has already agreed personal terms with Inter, who are set to pay between €5.3m (£4.5m) and €7.6m (£6.5m) for the Frenchman.

- Moves are expected at San Siro this month and Gianluca Di Marzio understands Roma have entered the race for Inter's Matteo Politano following Nicolo Zaniolo's serious knee injury.

Going up against John Stones in person seemingly changed Port Vale striker Tom Pope's perception of the Manchester City defender's ability, but not for the better.

Having previously stated he would score 40 goals a season if he faced Stones on a weekly basis, Pope cheekily revised the figure to 50 after a goalscoring display in Vale's 4-1 FA Cup third-round loss to City on Saturday.

The League Two forward's initial comments were made after Stones made a pair of costly errors in England's 3-1 loss to Netherlands at the Nations League Finals in June.

Pope called the centre-back "soft" on Twitter and declared he would have a field day up against him.

The 34-year-old made his mark against Stones' side by heading in David Amoo's cross to cancel out Oleksandr Zinchenko's opener at the Etihad Stadium.

Although Sergio Aguero, Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Phil Foden ensured there was no upset in Vale's favour, Pope did not seem too downcast when he took to social media after the game.

"Sorry I can't reply to everyone it's gone mental! I'd just like to say I was completely wrong and bang out of order to say I'd score 40 a season….. it's more like 50," Pope posted on Twitter.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is puzzled by John Stones' fitness problems and says the defender will not fulfil his potential unless he finds a solution.

Stones has missed 19 of City's 31 matches in all competitions this term because of separate muscle injuries, last playing in the 2-1 defeat to Manchester United on December 7.

The England international, a reported £47.5million signing from Everton in August 2016, is in line to make his latest return in Saturday's FA Cup third-round tie against Port Vale.

And Guardiola has challenged Stones to put his injury issues behind him in order to get his career back on track.

"He has the conditions to do it, but to be the best central defender you have to play one entire season, being there every three days," Guardiola said.

"He has to be at the level to play regularly. The last three seasons he could not do it. It's difficult to know the reason why.

"Sometimes when you have a tough injury it's unlucky. But in the case of John I don't know. I don't know why he is not able, we are not able, to be a regular for a long, long period because he's a young player.

"As a player he has his future in front of him, it depends on him. It's in his hands and in his head to become one of the best."

Stones' absence, combined with Vincent Kompany's departure and Aymeric Laporte's long-term lay-off, has left Guardiola short of options at centre-back.

Teenage defender Eric Garcia has featured in City's last three matches, starting the last two, and Guardiola was pleased with the youngster's displays over the festive period.

"Eric is so clever," Guardiola said. "'Everything you say to him, he understands, he doesn't need more time to understand.

"Life is about opportunities. We are delighted with how he has taken his. He's helped us in tough moments."

Pep Guardiola dismissed the "genius" tag given to him by Carlo Ancelotti and warned that the Italian's Everton side would test Manchester City.

After the new Toffees boss described Guardiola in glowing terms in his own news conference, the City coach reciprocated the praise for one of European football's most decorated coaches.

City bounced back from defeat at Wolves by beating Sheffield United 2-0 at home on Sunday and will hope to end Ancelotti's 100 per cent record in the 60-year-old's third game in charge of Everton at the Etihad Stadium on New Year's Day.

"Everton is Everton, one of the biggest, most traditional, historical teams in England with incredible quality in its players," Guardiola told reporters.

"They struggle a bit this season for points but the quality is there, with a new manager with incredible experience.

"A manager like Carlo with his incredible capacity, he is one of the smartest guys and always he is able - it doesn't matter which team he takes, he makes them work.

"I know him quite well. We played a few times against [each other], not much. His teams always beat our teams. He is an incredible gentleman. He conducted some of the greatest and more experienced teams in Europe, the list is huge. When that happens it's because you're an incredible manager.

"It's incredible news for English football that he's back. He can do an incredible job at Everton."

Guardiola confirmed that defender John Stones and midfield playmaker David Silva were both fit to face Everton after recovering from injuries, but he said his side's packed fixture list is putting players at risk.

City take on Everton, Port Vale and Manchester United in the first seven days of January and Guardiola said short breaks in between games were making recovery difficult.

"We have five games in 12 days," said Guardiola. "It's quite similar for the other teams but in this period one or two more days to recover is a lot.

"We take the risk, it was the same in the last game: 80 minutes with 10 against 11 in a difficult test against Wolves, then we train for two days and come back and play. It's a risk but you have to take it."

Sergio Aguero and John Stones are in line to face Leicester City on Saturday, but David Silva remains a doubt, according to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

Aguero has not played for the Premier League champions since suffering a thigh injury in the 2-1 win over Chelsea on November 23, while Stones was hurt in the 2-1 derby defeat to Manchester United on December 7.

Both players resumed training this week and Guardiola appeared hopeful on Friday that they will be ready for the visit of Leicester to the Etihad Stadium.

Silva, however, still seems to be struggling with a knock he sustained against United.

"Sergio and John Stones have trained," Guardiola told a news conference. "They have had two sessions. David Silva, no."

The likely returns of Aguero and Stones come as a boost to City, who go into the game four points behind Leicester in the table and 14 adrift of leaders Liverpool.

Guardiola expects a difficult game against Brendan Rodgers' side but remains confident City can close the gap at the top.

"There are a lot of games to play," he said. "The distance we have now, the teams in front or behind can change in a few weeks, and especially in this period. We have to do what we have to do.

"They [Leicester] have a lot of quality and they play good and control all departments of the game. They are a fantastic team and last season I thought they would be fighting for the top four."

Rodgers hopes Saturday's game can serve as a showcase for how strong his side have become, particularly stars such as James Maddison.

"It is the game where the big players and the big personalities can perform and thankfully James has done that throughout the season," Rodgers said.

"He has got eight goals in 20 games, which for a young midfield player is absolutely brilliant. He has that personality and belief that in the big games he can perform.

"We respect we are playing against a really top-class team that have been the champions the last couple of seasons and play to a fantastic level.

"It is a great opportunity for us to show we are improving and for our players to demonstrate their qualities in such a big game.

"We are mindful of their quality, but I would say it is a great opportunity for us to show our qualities and the talent we have in our team."

Manchester City will be without Sergio Aguero and John Stones for this weekend's Premier League clash with Arsenal, Pep Guardiola has confirmed.

Aguero has missed City's past five matches because of a thigh injury and Stones limped off in last Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United.

Neither player is fit to return for Sunday's trip to Emirates Stadium, while David Silva is also doubtful after sitting out training on Thursday and Friday.

"Stones has got a muscular injury. I don't know when he will be back," Guardiola said at his pre-match news conference. "Sergio still hasn't trained with the team.

"David is not fit. Yesterday and today he could not train so we'll see tomorrow. He got a kick in the leg - it was painful, but not a big issue."

Silva's potential absence could pave the way for Phil Foden to start for a second game running.

The 19-year-old was on the scoresheet in Wednesday's 4-1 Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb and Guardiola is prepared to show greater faith in the youngster.

"He has played 50 games and is 19 years old. In one of the top teams in Europe I don't know if there's anyone of his age who's played that many," Guardiola said.

"We're delighted with him and he'll play incredible games in the future. We're so happy with the way he played - it was an incredible experience for him.

"Maybe not all 50 games are 90 minutes, but he's been involved in tough games - Tottenham last season, Atalanta, we trust him a lot. 

"Every season he's playing more minutes and one day, maybe not that far away, he'll be a player who will play every weekend. We'll see when."

City trail Premier League leaders Liverpool by 14 points ahead of their showdown with Arsenal, who sacked head coach Unai Emery last month.

Freddie Ljungberg has won only one of his four matches in interim charge, but Guardiola is expecting a "big test" in north London.

"The club decided on a person who had a long time at the club many years ago, someone who knows the feelings, the fans, the way they like to play," Guardiola said.

"We'll have to figure out what they'll try to do - normally they have a typical style of play. They have quality between the lines. Arsenal away is always a big test for any team."

Asked about the ongoing speculation linking his assistant Mikel Arteta with the Arsenal job, Guardiola replied: "You can be 45 years old and not be ready or 35 years old and be ready.

"Only he knows. I spoke about it two weeks ago. He's got two weeks more experience since then, so he's ready."

John Stones was omitted from the Manchester City squad to face Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League on Wednesday after he was injured during the Manchester derby.

Stones limped off in the second half of Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United, which dealt another blow to City's fading hopes of winning a third straight Premier League crown.

The England defender missed training on Tuesday and was subsequently left out of the group for the trip to Croatia's capital, with David Silva and Sergio Aguero also missing out alongside long-term absentees Leroy Sane and Aymeric Laporte.

Pep Guardiola's side are boosted by the presence of Oleksandr Zinchenko, who returns from two months out with a knee injury to add to City's options at their problem left-back position.

City, already through as winners of Group C, have included teenage defenders Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis in their squad.

Guardiola, who led Barcelona to two Champions League triumphs as coach, is seeking his first European title with the English club.

Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw have come into the Manchester United team for a crunch derby against Manchester City at Etihad Stadium.

Forward Martial takes the place of young striker Mason Greenwood, while Shaw steps in at left-back for Ashley Young.

Both Greenwood and Young were named as substitutes by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

It means United will start with Martial in attack along with Marcus Rashford, who scored both his side's goals in the 2-1 win over Tottenham on Wednesday, and Daniel James.

With captain Young out of the starting XI, Harry Maguire takes the armband for the visitors.

City boss Pep Guardiola has made a single alteration to the side that trounced Burnley 4-1 on Tuesday, as England defender John Stones replaces Nicolas Otamendi, who begins on the bench.

United sit eighth in the Premier League and are in desperate need of following one strong performance with another, to show they can produce consistently under Solskjaer's much-scrutinised leadership.

Reigning champions City, meanwhile, begin the game a distant 14 points adrift of leaders Liverpool, who were resounding 3-0 winners at Bournemouth earlier on Saturday.

Manchester City head coach Pep Guardiola says he has no plans to stop selecting midfielder Fernandinho in central defence, despite the availability of John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi.

The Premier League champions were thrown into a defensive crisis when Aymeric Laporte was ruled out for six months after damaging the lateral meniscus in his right knee in September.

Stones and Otamendi endured a torrid time in the first game following Laporte's injury against Norwich City, with the latter particularly at fault in a damaging 3-2 defeat.

Guardiola has selected Brazil international Fernandinho as one of his two central defenders for every Premier League game since then and insists he has no intention of stopping.

Asked why he has not played Stones and Otamendi together, Guardiola told reporters at his media conference ahead of City's visit to Burnley on Tuesday: "Because I like Fernandinho in that position. I prefer him in that position; that's why he plays."

Pressed on why he continues to choose a midfielder in defence, Guardiola responded: "I prefer [Ilkay] Gundogan and Rodri in midfield."

Guardiola also reiterated that Sergio Aguero will miss Saturday's derby against Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium.

The Argentina international sustained a thigh injury in the 2-1 win over Chelsea on November 23, with Guardiola saying: "He is not ready for the derby but after the derby we will see."

City's 2-2 draw with Newcastle United on Saturday means they are now a whopping 11 points behind runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Guardiola acknowledges his side will have to be at their best to avoid dropping more points against Sean Dyche's outfit.

"It is always difficult for teams [to play against Burnley]," he added. "What they do they do perfectly. They are so good in the second balls and are free-kick scorers so we need to adapt and play our way.

"They attack really well and in defence they are so aggressive."

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