Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is happy to leave Kylian Mbappe to make his own decision on his future amid talk of a possible move to Spain.

The Paris Saint-Germain star scored twice in a 3-2 win away to Bayern Munich in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final this week.

Following that performance, reports in Spain suggested Mbappe has now informed PSG he will not be signing a new contract and is determined to become a Madrid player before next season.

The France international, who is said to be keen to work under compatriot Zidane, has scored 32 goals and provided nine assists this season and is behind only Harry Kane (45) and Robert Lewandowski (50) for direct goal involvements for players in Europe's top-five leagues this season.

Aside from Karim Benzema, who has 24 goals and six assists this term, few Madrid players have offered persistent goal threats, with none of Benzema's team-mates having scored more than six times in 2020-21.

Interest in Mbappe therefore comes as little surprise, but Zidane, speaking ahead of Saturday's LaLiga showdown with Barcelona, was not prepared to discuss a possible deal in detail.

"I know him and we know him well. That's it. He's not my player and I can't speak about anything," Zidane said.

"Kylian is a great player and we'll see what he wants to do in the future, but it's not my concern."

With Eden Hazard still out injured and the Mbappe rumours continuing, much of the focus on Saturday will be on Madrid forward Vinicius Junior.

The Brazilian produced arguably his best performance for the club on Tuesday, scoring twice in the 3-1 Champions League quarter-final first-leg win over Liverpool.

Zidane is confident in the 20-year-old as he aims for a victory that will lift Madrid above Barca and onto the coattails of league leaders Atletico Madrid.

"He's really well, working, he's very young and we have to keep calm with him. It's making me happy because there's a lot of noise but he is focused on what he has to do," Zidane said.

"We have Eden who, at the moment, is not available but we have Vini and we're happy with him.

"We've had a lot of complications this year with injuries and the truth is we've not liked it, but it's a very big squad where the players are always committed and want to play and that's the most important thing.

"Atletico have the advantage because they're first. You say who is going to win and it's a very competitive league, a very good league and all the teams can win, so until the end, we don't know who will do it. I don't know how many points are left, but there are many.

"I'm not thinking [if we lose, we can't win the league]. We'll see at the end of the game, but we're going to give everything and we're positive and we want to play a great game of football."

Argentine veteran Sergio Aguero has been list with plenty of clubs after Manchester City confirmed he would be leaving this off-season.

Among those are European heavyweights Chelsea and Barcelona.

But Leeds United have reportedly entered the race for the 32-year-old forward.

 

TOP STORY - LEEDS JOIN AGUERO PURSUIT

Leeds United want to bring Sergio Aguero to Elland Road on a free transfer this off-season.

Manchester City confirmed last month that Aguero would be departing the club after a decade of service.

90Min reports that Leeds hope Aguero's countryman Marcelo Bielsa can help woo him to the newly promoted club.

 

ROUND-UP

- The speculation around Kylian Mbappe's future continues, with The Telegraph reporting that he is stalling on signing a new deal with Paris Saint-Germain with his current contract to expire in 2022. Cuatro claims Mbappe will not sign a new deal as he wants to join Real Madrid.

- ESPN reports Edinson Cavani is "closer than ever" to finalizing a deal to join Argentine club Boca Juniors from Manchester United for this off-season.

- Manchester United may look into signing West Ham United's England international midfielder Declan Rice, as part of a permanent switch for Jesse Lingard, claims the Athletic.

- Metro claims Lyon's Joachim Andersen will cost £25m amid reported interest from Manchester United and Tottenham.

- Yangel Herrera, who is on loan at Granada from Manchester City, has ignited interest from West Ham United according to Todofichajes.

- Inter may explore signing Napoli's Nikola Maksimovic if Andrea Ranocchia leaves, reports Calciomercato.

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo hopes to have happy news soon regarding contract extensions for star duo Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.

PSG have been in negotiations with both Mbappe and Neymar – who are contracted to the Ligue 1 champions until 2022 – amid reported interest from LaLiga.

Mbappe has long been tipped to join Real Madrid, while speculation continues to link Neymar with a return to Barcelona, where he left for PSG in 2017.

Asked about the pair after Mbappe's brace guided PSG to a 3-2 win at holders Bayern Munich in the opening leg of the Champions League quarter-final tie, Leonardo told Sky Italy on Wednesday: "I think we'll have some news that will make us all happy soon.

"We will soon get to a more concrete situation for Mbappe and Neymar contracts."

Mbappe has scored eight Champions League goals this season – the joint-most in a single campaign in the competition by a Frenchman, along with Wissam Ben Yedder in 2017-18 and David Trezeguet in 2001-02.

Since making his Champions League debut in the 2013-14 campaign, Neymar has assisted 26 goals, the most of any player in this time. The Brazilian has now been directly involved in 67 goals (41 goals and 26 assists) in 66 appearances in the competition.

Mbappe and Neymar have combined for 10 Champions League goals since their first season together in 2017-18, at least three more than any other duo over this period.

Leonardo, meanwhile, was also quizzed on Milan and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, whose contract is set to expire at season's end.

Donnarumma – who worked with Leonardo before the Brazilian returned to PSG in 2019 – has been linked with PSG, Manchester United and Chelsea previously.

"I don't talk about transfers now, [Keylor] Navas is great," said Leonardo.

Neymar will be banned for Paris Saint-Germain's next two Ligue 1 matches, the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) has announced.

The Brazil superstar was sent off following an altercation with Lille defender Tiago Djalo, who was also dismissed.

Neymar and Djalo were each handed three-match bans, but with one of those games suspended.

Saturday's 1-0 defeat left PSG three points behind Lille at the Ligue 1 summit and only one better off than in-form Monaco in third.

Mauricio Pochettino's side will be without Neymar for the weekend trip to Strasbourg and a home match versus Saint-Etienne on April 18 which comes after the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich.

PSG midfielders Leandro Paredes and Idrissa Gueye will also be unavailable to face Strasbourg due to an accumulation of yellow cards.

Alessandro Florenzi will miss the first leg of Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League quarter-final clash with Bayern Munich this week after testing positive for COVID-19. 

The full-back follows PSG team-mate and compatriot Marco Verratti in testing positive for the virus after returning from international duty with Italy. 

Both players missed their side's damaging 1-0 Ligue 1 defeat to Lille on Saturday and will be absent for the trip to Bayern on Wednesday, too. The second leg takes place on April 13.

A statement released by the club on Monday read: "Following the last Sars-Cov2 PCR test, Alessandro Florenzi is confirmed positive. 

"He will therefore respect isolation and is subject to the appropriate health protocol. As a reminder, the player had been in isolation for a few days as a precaution."

Florenzi has made 29 appearances in all competitions this season, scoring two goals for Mauricio Pochettino's side.

The former Roma man is the latest confirmed case connected to the Azzurri squad. The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) announced last Wednesday that four staff members had isolated away from the group following testing carried out prior to the midweek fixture against Lithuania. 

Juventus revealed on Thursday that Leonardo Bonucci had also returned a positive result upon returning to his club, while Sassuolo took the preventative step of leaving out their Italy players for the game against Roma on Saturday.

Romelu Lukaku has starred for Inter since arriving from Manchester United in 2019.

Lukaku is spearheading Inter's quest for a Serie A title, with Antonio Conte's side clear atop the table.

His exploits, however, have not gone unnoticed in Europe.

 

TOP STORY – LUKAKU HAPPY AT INTER

Inter star Romelu Lukaku is flattered by Barcelona's interest but is not looking to leave the Nerazzurri, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Lukaku has been linked with Barca, Real Madrid and former club Chelsea following his exploits for Inter, who are closing in on the Scudetto.

But Lukaku is happy at Inter, with the Belgium international only possibly leaving San Siro should the Italian powerhouse seek to raise funds.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tuttosport reports Cristiano Ronaldo wants to see out his Juventus contract, which runs until June 2022. Ronaldo has been tipped to leave Turin, where Juve are struggling under Andrea Pirlo this season. Former clubs Madrid and United have emerged as possible destinations, as well as Paris Saint-Germain. However, Ronaldo is keen to continue at the club, should they qualify for the Champions League.

- PSG star Kylian Mbappe remains a priority signing for Madrid, claims Diario AS. Mbappe has been a long-term target in the Spanish capital, though the economic fallout following the coronavirus pandemic appears to have derailed Madrid's pursuit. But Los Blancos – also linked with in-demand Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland – are still determined to prise Mbappe from Paris.

- Record reports United are ready to make a move for Sporting CP star Nuno Mendes, who has also been linked with Manchester City and Liverpool. United could reportedly use Alex Telles in a deal to sign the Portuguese full-back.

- Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli is eyeing a new deal amid interest from Barca and Chelsea, according to Calciomercato. Romagnoli is contracted to the Rossoneri until 2022. Barca's reported pursuit comes as they eye the likes of Bayern Munich star David Alaba, City duo Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero, Lyon forward Memphis Depay and Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum.

Paris Saint-Germain attacker Angel Di Maria said it would be "wonderful" to play alongside Lionel Messi amid doubts over his Barcelona future.

Messi is out of contract at the end of the season and the superstar Barca captain has been heavily linked with Ligue 1 champions PSG and Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Barca – led by new president Joan Laporta – remain hopeful of re-signing the record six-time Ballon d'Or winner, who has spent his entire senior career at Camp Nou.

Di Maria has played alongside Messi at international level for Argentina and the PSG star admitted he would love to join forces with his countryman at club level.

"From my whole career, from everything I've seen, I think Leo is from another planet," Di Maria told beIN SPORTS. "To have him as a team-mate would be wonderful.

"But he is a Barcelona player, he has a contract. After that, we'll see.

"I talk a lot with him and I always tell him that the important thing is his happiness and that of his family. It's hard to say anything else."

Barca face Real Valladolid on Monday, with Ronald Koeman's men able to move within a point of LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid.

Messi has been directly involved in 23 league goals in 2021 – 16 goals and seven assists – which is more than any other player in the top five European leagues. 

The Argentinian has had a direct hand in eight goals in his last four LaLiga games against Valladolid – four goals and four assists.

Those goal involvements have helped Barca to 13 wins in their previous 14 LaLiga games against Valladolid, with the only exception being a 1-0 defeat away from home in March 2014.

 

Neymar has been compared to fellow Brazilian Ronaldinho, with Ludovic Giuly believing the Paris Saint-Germain star will never reach his potential.

Like the great Ronaldinho, Neymar has played for both Barcelona and PSG, albeit he moved from Catalonia to Paris, rather than the other way around.

One of the main motives behind Neymar's switch to PSG was reportedly his desire to win the Ballon d'Or, which has been dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo and his former Barca team-mate Lionel Messi.

Yet despite helping to secure three straight Ligue 1 titles, Neymar has been unable to propel PSG to Champions League glory – coming closest when the Parisians reached the final last season – and at 29, his chances of winning football's most coveted personal prize look to be getting slimmer.

He has also suffered several lengthy injury lay offs during his time at the Parc des Princes, while Kylian Mbappe has perhaps overtaken him as PSG's standout superstar.

Having returned from the groin strain that saw him miss PSG's Champions League last-16 tie victory over his former club Barca, Neymar saw red in a 1-0 defeat to title rivals Lille on Saturday.

Giuly, a former France international who also played for both PSG and Barca – where he was a team-mate of Ronaldinho – suggested Neymar's application is the reason why he will perhaps never hit the full heights that he has the talent for.

"I'm going to compare Ronaldinho and Neymar on a career level. They have everything, but they don't give everything to be even higher," Giuly told Telefoot.

Despite his concerns over Neymar's work ethic, however, Giuly is hopeful the forward will agree to extend his PSG contract.

Giuly added: "Of course that is an important message for us, for his team-mates and for the supporters. [That] he shows his love and commitment to the club, it is something very important."

NEYMAR'S 2020-21 CAMPAIGN

In what has been another stop-start season, Neymar has managed only 20 appearances across all competitions for PSG, starting on 16 occasions, with his overall game time 1,142 minutes.

He has netted 13 goals, averaging a strike every 111 minutes, while five of those have come from the penalty spot. These goals have come from 73 attempts – the second-most in PSG's team behind Mbappe (114).

Creatively, Neymar also ranks highly. He has crafted 44 chances, including four assists, with 35 of them coming from open play. 

This tally puts him second in PSG's squad, behind Angel Di Maria, who has registered 10 assists from 69 chances created, while Mbappe has teed up an impressive nine goals from 43 opportunities, again indicating that the youngster is perhaps overshadowing the world's most expensive footballer.

Can Borussia Dortmund keep a hold of Erling Haaland for another season?

Europe's elite are queuing up to sign the Norway sensation.

Dortmund's disappointing season could be about to force their hand.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND TRYING TO RETAIN HAALAND

Borussia Dortmund will try to keep Erling Haaland for another season but their hopes are fading amid the club's struggles to finish in the Bundesliga's top four, according to Fabrizio Romano.

As it stands, Dortmund are set to miss out on Champions League qualification, with the German side fifth and seven points adrift of fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt following Saturday's loss.

Haaland is a player in demand, linked with Real Madrid, Manchester City, Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror reports United are set to part with star goalkeeper David de Gea. The Red Devils are reportedly prepared to pay a large chunk of De Gea's remaining contract, with Dean Henderson pushing to become the club's first choice.

Haaland is ahead of Lionel Messi on City's transfer list, claims The Mirror. Pep Guardiola's City have been heavily linked with Barcelona superstar Messi, who is out of contract at season's end. But City now appear determined to prise Haaland from Dortmund as Sergio Aguero prepares to leave. Aguero has been linked with the likes of Chelsea, InterBarca, PSG and Juventus on a free transfer.

Neymar has put contract talks with PSG on hold, according to Ara, which claims he is willing to return to Barca.

- It comes as Marca says PSG are eyeing Madrid forward Vinicius Junior amid Kylian Mbappe's links with the LaLiga champions.

Mauricio Pochettino is refusing to use the "weird circumstances around football" as an excuse for Paris Saint-Germain's inconsistency and vowed to solve the issue given time.

Jonathan David scored the only goal as Lille defeated PSG to go three points clear at the top of Ligue 1 in a match that saw Neymar sent off in the closing stages on his first top-flight start since January 31.

PSG have now lost three straight home Ligue 1 games for the first time since October 2007, although Neymar missed two great chances and the hosts will feel they did enough to take at least a point.

Under Pochettino, PSG have mixed some barnstorming performances – such as the 4-1 win at Barcelona in the Champions League last 16 – with some underwhelming ones.

For the Argentine, though, the uncertainty facing all teams this season due to the coronavirus pandemic is not a valid reason for PSG's patchy form.

"It could happen in some games; these are the circumstances [contrast of beating Barca and losing in Ligue 1]," he said. 

"You might tell me; these are excuses if we talked about these weird circumstances around football. But this is the reality.

"We are team with lots of ups and downs since the beginning of the season, we are not consistent for different reasons. 

"Some situations are real. We are working on it. We are missing that consistency.

"It is very difficult to justify a defeat, because today we have not been to the level that is assumed with this team, the PSG.

"This a consequence of real facts that make us to have these ups and downs. But I think we can solve it over the time."

PSG are now three points adrift of Lille with only seven games remaining but Pochettino said he felt the fight for the title would go to the wire ever since he arrived as Thomas Tuchel's replacement in January.

"The truth is I am disappointed for the result, for the performance and the important three points missed as we already talked about it before the game," added the former Tottenham bossf.

"I am not worried, since we arrived three months ago, it is a situation where we are going to have to fight until the end to see who will win the competition."

Neymar was sent off on his first Ligue 1 start in two months as part of a dramatic finale to Paris Saint-Germain's 1-0 defeat to Lille in a barnstorming top-of-the-table clash.

The Brazilian forward injured his adductor as a substitute against Marseille at the beginning of February but was unable to inspire the champions in a game settled by Jonathan David's 20th minute goal on his return to the starting XI.

It was a frustrating day for Neymar who had missed two great chances before receiving a second yellow card and subsequent red for a shove on Tiago Djalo as frustrations boiled over in the closing stages.

Djalo was also shown red having already been booked but Lille moved three points clear of PSG, who have now lost three home games on the spin in Ligue 1 for the first time since October 2007.

 

 

 

Neymar was handed his first start for Paris Saint-Germain since early February as Mauricio Pochettino's team tackled title rivals Lille.

The Brazil star forward made a 20-minute appearance in the 4-2 win over Lyon before the international break, and he was restored to the starting XI on Saturday for a crucial Parc des Princes clash.

Neymar endured a long absence after suffering an adductor injury in PSG's Coupe de France win away at Caen on February 10.

He missed nine games across all competitions, including the Champions League last-16 triumph over his former club Barcelona.

For the visit of Lille, head coach Pochettino loaded his team with attacking talent, selecting Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria behind Moise Kean.

That could be a sign of things to come for the Champions League quarter-final first leg against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

However, Pochettino was without a number of players due to fitness and health reasons, including Marco Verratti, Layvin Kurzawa and Mauro Icardi.

Pochettino discussed Neymar's anticipated return on Friday, hoping for a big contribution from the superstar over the closing two months of the season.

Having scored 13 goals in 19 games so far this term, the importance of his return is obvious to a team chasing domestic and Champions League success.

"The truth is that the international break was important for Neymar," Pochettino said. "He was able to train at a good level for two weeks.

"Now he has to play. We're happy with the way he trained. We are pleased with his involvement and improvements in the areas he needs to improve."

PSG headed into Saturday's game sitting top of Ligue 1, albeit only ahead of Lille on goal difference.

Kylian Mbappe has revealed the ego trick that makes him believe his skills are unparalleled, even if the opposition include Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Paris Saint-Germain and France striker has opened up on the issue, explaining how his achievements have been fuelled by enormous self-confidence.

He already has one over on Messi and Ronaldo, having won a World Cup with Les Bleus, and is racking up the trophies at club level.

Mbappe knows the reality is that the Argentina and Portugal superstars have achieved far more than he has managed, but the thinking that Mbappe adopts every time he takes to the pitch sets aside such matters.

Messi might be Barcelona's record scorer by a massive margin, and Ronaldo jumped to the top of Real Madrid's all-time list during a scintillating nine-year stint in Spain, but Mbappe puts such matters out of his mind on the pitch.

In an interview with French broadcaster RMC Sport, Mbappe said of egotism: "Of course it's important, because when you're having a tough time, no one other than yourself is going to push you.

"And you have to convince yourself that you are capable of toppling mountains. People don't understand ego, but when you are not doing well, there's no one who will come to your house to tell you that you are able to do that.

"It is only you and your mindset. You have to persuade yourself that you are capable of doing great things.

"Every time I go on a pitch, I always tell myself that I'm the best and yet I have played on pitches where there was Messi and Cristiano.

"They are better players than me, they've done a billion more things than me. But in my head, I always tell myself that I'm the best, because that way you don't give yourself limits and you try to give the best of yourself.

"Of course, sometimes people don't understand because I think that there is perhaps also this barrier that is created in relation to this subject, where one does not really explain what ego is.

"People will think ego is not giving a penalty to a friend, or to have a better salary than the player on the rival team. It's not just that, it's also in the preparation. It's something personally, surpassing yourself, it's really beyond this superficial thing of saying 'me I, me I'. But I think there's quite a lot to be said about that."

Mbappe is building up the data to support his self-belief. Since the start of the 2016-17 season, when he was a 17-year-old Monaco player, Mbappe has racked up 146 club goals at a rate of one every 103.99 minutes.

That haul covers all club competitions and puts Mbappe fifth on the list of players from Europe's top five leagues. Only Robert Lewandowski (221), Messi (210), Ronaldo (181) and Harry Kane (151) are ahead of him.

Among players with more than 100 goals in the same timespan, only Messi (89) has had more assists than the 65 Mbappe has managed.

Paris Saint-Germain will be without Marco Verratti for the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie against Bayern Munich after the midfielder tested positive for COVID-19.

Verratti had suffered a thigh injury while away on international duty with Italy, forcing him to miss his country's World Cup qualifier against Lithuania on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old was already set to sit out PSG's pivotal clash with Lille this weekend as the top two in Ligue 1 go up against each other in the French capital.

However, confirmation of his positive test result means a period in isolation, ruling him out of contention for the trip to Bayern on Wednesday, too. The second leg takes place on April 13.

Verratti is the latest confirmed case connected to the Azzurri squad. The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) announced on Wednesday that four staff members had isolated away from the group following testing carried out prior to the midweek fixture in Vilnius.

Juventus revealed on Thursday that Verratti's international team-mate Leonardo Bonucci had also returned a positive result upon returning to his club, while Sassuolo have taken the preventative step of leaving out their Italy players for the game against Roma on Saturday.

While PSG will be hampered by the absence of Verratti, Bayern will also be without the services of a key figure for the repeat of last year's final.

Robert Lewandowski has been ruled out of the last-eight meeting entirely after suffering a knee injury while playing for Poland. The striker – who has scored 42 goals for his club in all competitions this season – is expected to be sidelined for a month.

Mauricio Pochettino is confident speculation around Kylian Mbappe's future, which the player himself provoked this week, will not have a negative impact on Paris Saint-Germain in the final weeks of the season.

PSG have been trying to secure new contracts for superstars Mbappe and Neymar, but progress appears more likely in the case of the Brazil forward.

Mbappe, like fellow Champions League sensation Erling Haaland, continues to be linked with the world's top clubs.

While Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland's representatives reportedly met with Barcelona and Real Madrid on Thursday, Mbappe's actions also added to doubts around his future.

The France forward told RTL constant discussion of his performances in his home country was "tiring", especially as, playing in Ligue 1, "I'm here all the time".

"I knew when I signed in Paris that I was going to be in this context," Mbappe said. "We'll see after that."

The 22-year-old added it "of course" would play into his thinking when considering his next move, although no decision has yet been made.

Mbappe said: "If I had moved forward, I would have come to talk about it by now. Of course, when I make my decision, I will come and talk about it."

These words could reasonably worry PSG coach Pochettino, who relies heavily on Mbappe.

The former Monaco man has 30 goals and nine assists in all competitions this season, his 39 goal involvements ranking fifth across Europe's 'top five' leagues.

But Pochettino said ahead of PSG's top-of-the-table clash with Lille: "I didn't listen to what Kylian said. I can't comment on it and I don't have an opinion on that."

 

Mbappe became the youngest player to reach 100 Ligue 1 goals prior to the international break and has a career-high six league assists against Lille.

Pochettino expects the World Cup winner, netting once every 91.9 minutes this season, to set talk of his future aside and perform again.

"The truth is that he is good, he has a good state of mind and has trained well," Pochettino said. "He came back ready to help the team.

"We will manage the whole team and not just Kylian in order to achieve our end-of-season goals.

"Things need time to be settled. Kylian is very focused on giving the best for the team. I don't see any problem with his situation. He will give everything to help the team win.

"I don't think Kylian's end of season will be affected by all this. He's focused on giving his best every training session and every game."

PSG are without a host of players against Lille, including Marco Verratti, who is set to be evaluated again this weekend ahead of the Champions League tie against Bayern Munich.

But Neymar, restricted to just 19 appearances this season, is ready to have an impact in the run-in.

"The truth is that the international break was important for Neymar," Pochettino said. "He was able to train at a good level for two weeks.

"Now he has to play. We're happy with the way he trained. We are pleased with his involvement and improvements in the areas he needs to improve."

PSG have not lost at home to Lille in the league since April 1996 but, following an away goalless draw, could go two without a win against them for the first time since a run of four games between January 2010 and April 2012.

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