France, Spain or Germany?

Eduardo Camavinga has admirers following his exploits for Rennes in Ligue 1.

Some of Europe's biggest clubs are interested, but could he be set for Bavaria?

 

TOP STORY – CAMAVINGA WANTED IN GERMANY

Bayern Munich are hoping to sign Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, according to France Football.

Camavinga is unwilling to extend his Rennes contract and the 18-year-old has been linked with Real Madrid, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal.

Borussia Monchengladbach's Florian Neuhaus is also on Bayern's list, though the Bundesliga champions reportedly feel Camavinga could be better value for money.

 

ROUND-UP

- Who will permanently replace Jose Mourinho as Tottenham head coach following his sacking on Monday? Football Italia claims Spurs have contacted former Juventus, Chelsea and Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri. The Daily Mail, however, reports RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann is Tottenham's top candidate.

- La Razon says West Ham are leading the race to sign Sevilla forward Youssef En-Nesyri, who has also been linked with United and Liverpool.

PSG are the most likely suitors for Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin, according to Sport. Bellerin is likely to leave the Gunners and he has been linked to Barcelona.

- Sport says Barca's plans depend on Lionel Messi's future. Messi is out of contract at the end of the season, but president Joan Laporta is keen to re-sign the superstar amid reported interest from PSG and Manchester City. It comes as Barca target Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, who has also been linked with rivals Real Madrid, United, City, Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG and Juventus. Lyon captain Memphis Depay, City's Sergio Aguero and Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum are also reportedly wanted at Camp Nou.

Sunday's announcement of a long-feared European 'Super League' raised the possibility of unprecedented change in football, with the 12 founding clubs seemingly at threat of being kicked out of other competitions as a result.

The Premier League's so-called "big six", Spanish giants Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid and Serie A trio Juventus, Milan and Inter have broken ranks and agreed to the formation of the breakaway competition.

Sunday's uniform announcement from most of the clubs involved confirmed the Super League will be made up of 15 founding clubs – with three to be added to the initial 12 – and unconfirmed guest teams.

It will run as a midweek tournament alongside the teams' respective domestic leagues and guarantees the founding clubs a share of €3.5billion "solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the COVID pandemic".

But, pre-empting the announcement following widespread media speculation, UEFA released a statement co-signed by the national associations of England, Spain and Italy, and those countries' respective top-flight leagues. It reiterated a threat to ban players and teams involved from competing in other competitions.

While that is a debate that will rage on for some time, with the legality of such measures unclear for the moment, it raises the possibility of a Premier League without its "big six", a LaLiga missing Barcelona and Real Madrid, and Serie A expelling Juve, Milan and Inter.

With that in mind, we looked at what those three divisions would look like in the – admittedly unlikely – event that the 12 Super League clubs are expelled and results involving them are expunged…

Premier League

Who'd have thought in 2013 when he was appointed as Alex Ferguson's successor at Manchester United that David Moyes' first Premier League title would come as West Ham boss?

Well, if the "big six" were expelled and their results were void, it would be the Hammers sitting at the top of the pile – and by some distance.

Moyes' men would be on 49 points from 21 matches having suffered just two defeats.

Curiously, the exclusion of the Super League clubs would seemingly harm Leicester City, as they have lost just three matches to them in 2020-21 – West Ham have been beaten seven times by "big six" opposition.

Nevertheless, Leicester would still be on course to get back in the Champions League. Leeds United (1.8) and Everton (1.6) would appear to be the favourites to join them, by virtue of their better points-per-game record than Aston Villa (1.5).

LaLiga

Fair play to Real Betis, who have already embraced a future without Madrid, Atletico and Barcelona by deleting them from the Liga table that sits on their website.

Unfortunately for Betis, that same table now has their bitter rivals Sevilla sitting pretty at the summit.

In fact, Sevilla probably shouldn't be ruled out of the real title race just yet given they are actually only six points behind leaders Atletico and still have to face Zinedine Zidane's Madrid.

In our LaLiga table excluding the "big three", Sevilla have 60 points from 26 games, giving them a 13-point lead over Villarreal.

It also highlights just how bad Los Nervionenses' record against Madrid, Barca and Atletico is, as they have taken just four points from them this term.

Rounding off the top four would be Betis in third and Real Sociedad in fourth.

Serie A

Juventus' stranglehold on Serie A looks set to end regardless of any action from UEFA and the league. Having won each of the previous nine Scudetti, the Old Lady have been dire under Andrea Pirlo for much of the season.

So, helping establish a new semi-closed competition under the guise of needing better opponents is the logical step…

While Atalanta would sit top of a Serie A without Juve, Inter and Milan, technically it's Lazio who would be on course for title success.

The Biancocelesti have played a game less than Atalanta but would only be behind them on goal difference – their points-per-game record is 2.24, slightly more than the Bergamo side's 2.15.

Napoli (2.12) and Roma (1.96) would remain in the running as well were the "big three" to be dumped out of the competition.

Scotsman David Moyes has little interest in protecting Jesse Lingard for England duty but allayed fears of an injury after he was substituted in West Ham's 3-2 defeat to Newcastle United.

Lingard has been in sensational form since joining the Hammers on loan from Manchester United, forcing his way back into the Three Lions set-up.

His goal at St James' Park on Saturday was his ninth for West Ham, already his best tally in a single Premier League season.

But seven minutes after that penalty strike, by which time Newcastle had restored their lead against the visiting side who were reduced to 10 men, Lingard went down and required treatment.

The midfielder had to be substituted, concerning supporters of both West Ham - who have come to rely on their loan star - and England.

But manager Moyes said: "I think it was just cramp. I've not had the chance to speak to the physio about it, but I don't think it was anything serious, to be honest."

Lingard had a team-high four shots against Newcastle but was less effective than in previous weeks, besides the spot-kick which looked to have completed a stunning second-half fightback.

Moyes is not worried West Ham are running Lingard into the ground ahead of Euro 2020, though. England will play Scotland in the group stage of the tournament on June 18.

"I think the one thing about Jesse is he is a really fit boy," Moyes said. "I think Jesse wants to play.

"I think I push all my players hard - I've never done anything else but push them hard - and I pushed them hard today to go out and play better and try to give ourselves a chance.

"Jesse is no different. He won't get any favoured treatment - certainly not for a Scotsman going into the Euros this year.

"Overall, we're really pleased with him. He does a lot of good things.

"He was quieter today, I have to say. I know he got us the goal, but he was a bit quieter because we just didn't play well enough playing into the forward players and around them."

Awful defensive errors had given Newcastle a 2-0 lead on Tyneside.

First, Craig Dawson - already on a booking - lunged in on Joelinton following a heavy touch. Play continued and Allan Saint-Maximin's shot was turned into his own net by Issa Diop.

Dawson was credited with an error leading to a goal but was also sent off, his first red card in 345 English league appearances.

Diop's own goal was West Ham's fourth of the season - a league high - yet their defensive woes did not end there. Five minutes later, Lukasz Fabianski dropped a routine corner for his own error leading to a goal as Joelinton tapped in.

Newcastle appeared reluctant to push for a third, though, and a Diop header - making him the second player, after team-mate Tomas Soucek, to score at either end in a game this season - gave West Ham hope 17 minutes from time.

Lingard then punished Ciaran Clark's handball from the penalty spot with 10 minutes to go, before Joe Willock was introduced from the restart and quickly nodded the winner.

Moyes' Champions League-chasing side are still fourth despite the defeat, but have played a game more than Chelsea and Liverpool, one and three points behind respectively.

"It was an opportunity for us to take three points," Moyes said. "We like to talk about the Champions League - we love the sound of that - but we're realistic.

"The quality of the teams who are around us and below us have been over this course many more times than us.

"The way the players are playing is fantastic. Today we made a couple of mistakes which probably cost us the game."

Declan Rice may be looking to make a move to Manchester United from resurgent West Ham. 

The 22-year-old midfielder talked to United players during last month's international break as England won their opening three World Cup qualifiers.

The Red Devils could be in need of midfield help if Paul Pogba leaves at the end of the season.

 

TOP STORY - RICE TO RED DEVILS

England international Declan Rice is interested in swapping West Ham for Manchester United, the Manchester Evening News reports. 

During the recent international break, he spoke with Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw about the atmosphere at the club. 

Rice is under contract with the Hammers through to 2024 but could be prised away for the right price. 

David Moyes has said Rice could net £100 million for the London club. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona have made prolific Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland their primary transfer target, according to Marca. Barca are willing to wait until the end of next season to get their man.

- Brest defender Romain Perraud has the attention of Leeds United and Lyon, according to the Daily Mail. Perraud would shore up the defence of either club while serving as a potential asset going forward; he has three goals and six assists this season.

- Goal reports Jesse Lingard is yet to decide whether he wants to make West Ham his permanent home as he continues to enjoy a stunning spell on loan from Manchester United.

- Lyon center back and Danish international Joachim Andersen, currently on loan to Fulham, is drawing interest from Tottenham and Manchester United, B.T. reports, with Chelsea, Leicester City and Crystal Palace also potential destinations.

Charles De Ketelaere may be on the move from Bruges, with Milan and Atalanta both potential landing spots, according to Calciomercato. 

Jesse Lingard has been in blistering form during his six-month loan spell at West Ham.

As a result, speculation is rife over the 28-year-old England international's future.

Lingard is contracted with parent club Manchester United for one more season.

 

TOP STORY - EUROPEAN GIANTS CIRCLE FOR LINGARD

European powerhouse clubs Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Inter are all interested in Lingard, claims ESPN.

Lingard has scored eight goals in nine games for the Hammers, who are surprisingly sitting fourth in the Premier League.

ESPN reports those clubs are monitoring Lingard's situation, with West Ham keen to sign him permanently and the player yet to declare a preference, although it is believed he wants to play  Champions League football.

 

ROUND-UP

- Serbia international Sergei Milinkovic-Savic has garnered interest from European giants Manchester United, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The midfielder is contracted with Lazio until 2024.

- Manchester United may have missed out on Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho last off-season but they are set to revive their interest, says the Manchester Evening News.

- Calciomercato reports that French winger Ousmane Dembele is open to joining Juventus from Barcelona in the next transfer window.

- Tottenham are making their move to sign off-contract Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng, reports Sky Germany.

- Arsenal have joined the race to sign Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard, alongside Leicester City, according to the Telegraph.

- Tuttosport says Torino's Italy international forward Andrea Belotti is being courted by Chelsea, Everton, AC Milan and Atletico Madrid.

- Fiorentina want to hire Gennaro Gattuso from Napoli as their next coach, claims Sky Sport Italia. Gattuso is out of contract at Napoli at the end of the season.

Mason Greenwood emulated a feat last achieved by Cristiano Ronaldo and Jesse Lingard's astonishing purple patch continued in another enthralling weekend of Premier League action.

Greenwood came off the bench to play a big part in second-placed United's 3-1 victory at Tottenham on Sunday.

Lingard also starred in London earlier in the day, scoring twice in a 3-2 win over Leicester City to keep West Ham on course to defy the odds and seal a Champions League spot.

Leeds United shocked champions-elect Manchester City 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, while Alexandre Lacazette brought up a half-century of goals in Arsenal's 3-0 success at rock-bottom Sheffield United.

Using Opta data, we look at some quirky facts from the latest Premier League matches.

 

Greenwood sets high sub standard

As cameo appearances go, Greenwood's short time on the field against Spurs was right up there.

The 19-year-old replaced Marcus Rashford after 72 minutes at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with the game in the balance at 1-1.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could surely not have wished for a bigger impact from the forward, who laid on a goal for Edinson Cavani before sealing all three points by finding the back of the net himself deep into stoppage time.

Greenwood became the first teenager to score and assist as a substitute for United in a Premier League match since the legendary Ronaldo did so against Portsmouth in November 2003.

Lethal Lingard outfoxes Leicester

On the subject of big impacts, Lingard has been a revelation for the Hammers since his loan move from Manchester United in January.

The England forward can do no wrong at the moment and helped himself to a first-half double in a huge victory over the Foxes, moving David Moyes' men back up to fourth.

Lingard has now scored in four consecutive games for the high-flying London club, taking his tally in the Premier League to eight.

That equals his best goalscoring return in a top-flight campaign and he has only made nine appearances. Lingard also netted eight times for his parent club in the 2017-18, but that was from 33 matches.

Manchester United kept up their extraordinary form for coming from behind as they defeated Tottenham in Sunday's big Premier League match.

Earlier, West Ham continued their push for a Champions League spot with a second straight 3-2 victory, this time over fellow top-four contenders Leicester City.

In the late match, Arsenal moved up to ninth thanks to a routine 3-0 dispatching of lowly Sheffield United.

Meanwhile, at the bottom, Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin returned to boost Newcastle United to a potentially crucial 2-1 win at Burnley, and we take a look at the best facts from Sunday's games, courtesy of Opta data.

Burnley 1-2 Newcastle United: Super-sub Saint-Maximin snatches vital points

Newcastle picked up their first win in eight Premier League games – since beating Southampton 3-2 at the start of February – as they came from behind to beat Burnley.

Matej Vydra's third goal in his last five league appearances, as many as he had across his previous 53 appearances in the competition beforehand, put Burnley ahead, but Saint-Maximin proved the difference after the break.

Coming on in the 57th minute alongside the returning Wilson, Saint-Maximin swiftly set up Jacob Murphy's equaliser – all three of the winger's league strikes have come away from home.

Saint-Maximin scored himself five minutes later, becoming only the fifth player to both score and assist a goal as a substitute in a Premier League match for Newcastle, and first since Rolando Aarons against Tottenham in May 2016.

In all competitions, Newcastle have failed to win any of the four matches in which neither Wilson nor Saint-Maximin have featured.

With both of them playing, Newcastle have six wins from 13 matches, while without at least one of their star attacking duo, the Magpies have registered just two victories.

West Ham 3-2 Leicester City: Lingard at the double as Hammers knock at the door

West Ham have recorded their first Premier League double over Leicester since the 1999-2000 season, after Jesse Lingard inspired them to a 3-2 victory at London Stadium.

Leicester have suffered consecutive league defeats for the first time since November, when they lost to Liverpool and Fulham, with Kelechi Iheanacho's double not enough to inspire a comeback.

Iheanacho has scored 14 goals in all competitions this season, equalling his best tally in a single campaign; the Nigerian scored 14 for Manchester City in 2015-16.

However, the damage was already done for Leicester, with Lingard's first-half double making him the first West Ham player to score in four consecutive Premier League appearances since Michail Antonio in September 2016.

In only his his ninth Premier League appearance for West Ham, Lingard reached double figures for goals and assists combined (eight goals, three assists). It is the quickest a Hammers player has ever done so, with Paul Kitson previously reaching double figures the fastest (12 games in 1997).

Jarrod Bowen scored what was ultimately the decisive goal, putting West Ham 3-0 up early in the second half at the culmination of a slick attack in which Lingard and Tomas Soucek combined.

In 2021, only Man City (16) have won more Premier League matches than West Ham (10), who have picked up 32 points from a possible 45 this calendar year (W10 D2 L3).

Tottenham 1-3 Manchester United: Greenwood closes in on Rooney record as Spurs give up another lead

Jose Mourinho is now winless in his last five home matches in all competitions against sides he has previously managed (D2 L3), having won 12 such matches in a row between 2002 and 2018.

Tottenham led in Sunday's headline fixture – Son Heung-min becoming the first player to score three or more goals against United in a single Premier League campaign since Sergio Aguero in 2014-15.

Edinson Cavani had a goal harshly disallowed after a VAR check prior to Spurs' opener, but the Red Devils hit back in the second half. Spurs have dropped 18 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season, second only to Brighton (20).

Mason Greenwood proved decisive, coming on from the bench to set up Cavani and then score one himself after Fred had restored parity.

Only Wayne Rooney (15) has scored more Premier League goals for Manchester United as a teenager than Greenwood (13).

United have gained 28 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season – in the competition's history, only Newcastle in 2001-02 (34) and United themselves in 2012-13 (29) have earned more points from such positions.

Meanwhile, in English top-flight history, United's current 23-game unbeaten run away from home in the league (W15 D8) is bettered only by a 27-game run from Arsenal between April 2003 and September 2004.

Sheffield United 0-3 Arsenal: Lacazette at the double as Gunners hunt Europe

In Premier League history, only Chelsea (42) have beaten the side starting the day bottom of the table more than Arsenal, with this win the Gunners' 37th such victory (alongside Spurs).

It was a comfortable win for Mikel Arteta's team, with Sheffield United having suffered their 25th league defeat of the season, the most by a non-newly promoted side since Huddersfield Town in 2018-19 (28). 

Arsenal are now unbeaten in their last four away games in the Premier League (W2 D2), their longest such run of the season. Indeed, the Gunners have earned more victories on the road (seven) than they have at the Emirates this season (six).

Paul Heckingbottom has seen his Blades side concede 10 goals during his three Premier League games in charge, the joint-most after a manager's first three games in the competition, alongside David Moyes (2002, Everton) and Christian Gross (1997, Spurs).

Gabriel Martinelli's strike was his first Premier League goal of the season for Arsenal, and his first in 446 days since netting against Chelsea in January 2020.

It came in between Alexandre Lacazette's double. He is the sixth Frenchman to score 50 Premier League goals for a single club, with four of the six doing so for Arsenal.

England international James Maddison was one of three Leicester City stars dropped for the 3-2 Premier League defeat at West Ham on Sunday after breaching COVID-19 protocols.

Maddison, Hamza Choudhury and Ayoze Perez were absent for disciplinary reasons, with the Telegraph reporting the trio were left out by manager Brendan Rodgers for attending a party last weekend.

Speaking after the game, Rodgers said he was "bitterly disappointed" with their breach of the rules but said the players would be back in contention for the FA Cup semi-final against Southampton next weekend.

He said in a press conference: "My objective coming into Leicester City was to create a standard on and off the pitch. The standards fell way below what we'd expect and particularly at this time of the season, when we're challenging and fighting to finish off a really exciting season.

"That standard and the values we have as a club, they fell well below that. The guys that weren't involved in the squad today would have been, but as a consequence of their behaviour, they weren't.

"I could easily fine players and it's a drop in the ocean now and everything is right, but then the dynamic isn't quite right in the squad. I had to deal with that throughout the week, the players are bitterly disappointed.

"They are good boys, they knew what the consequence was, they wouldn't be involved in this game and now we draw a line under it. They will rejoin the squad, train next week and get ready for next weekend."

Leicester said in a statement: "The club has made its expectations around adherence to COVID-19 protocols abundantly clear to all its personnel.

"It is extremely disappointing, therefore, to learn of a breach that had the potential to undermine the efforts of club staff to protect the environments in which our teams train and play. Appropriate measures have been taken to prevent our team bubbles being compromised.

"We wholly expect our people to behave in a way that reflects the national effort and the sacrifices made by our communities to control the spread of the virus. Those involved have apologised for their poor judgement.

"Our response to the matter will be concluded internally."

What does the future hold for Kylian Mbappe and Cristiano Ronaldo?

Mbappe has been heavily linked with Real Madrid, while Ronaldo's future at Juventus is far from certain.

A possible switch to the Spanish capital could reportedly impact Ronaldo.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE OUT, RONALDO IN AT PSG?

Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo could join Paris Saint-Germain if Kylian Mbappe leaves for Real Madrid, according to Tuttosport.

Mbappe has long been tipped to swap Ligue 1 holders PSG for LaLiga champions Madrid, who have been linked with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Inter forward Romelu Lukaku.

If Mbappe makes the move to the Santiago Bernabeu, it could send Ronald to Paris as Juve look to reduce their wage bill in Turin.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Athletic reports Harry Kane will ask to leave Tottenham if they do not qualify for next season's Champions League. The Spurs star has been linked with Manchester United, Manchester City and Madrid.

Barcelona are eyeing Tottenham defender Davinson Sanchez, claims Mundo Deportivo. The LaLiga giants are not rumoured to be interested in Bayern Munich's Jerome Boateng, who is set to depart Bavaria at season's end.

- The Mirror says Liverpool are interested in signing Barca star Pedri, who reportedly has a release clause around £70million (€81m).

United have been warned West Ham will not accept an offer to include Jesse Lingard as part of a deal to prise Declan Rice to Old Trafford, claims The Sun. United are also keen to bring back Sam Johnstone from West Brom if David de Gea or Dean Henderson leave.

- Bild says Liverpool are entering the final stages of a deal for RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate. Premier League rivals United have also been linked.

David Moyes has urged West Ham to attack their dream of finishing in the Premier League top four, an achievement he feels would be his best as a manager.

West Ham are fourth in the Premier League ahead of hosting third-place Leicester City in a huge encounter on Sunday.

According to reports, Michail Antonio could miss the rest of the season and Moyes has confirmed the forward has a hamstring strain.

Declan Rice is also ruled out for West Ham, who face massive stakes in their eight-game run-in, which starts with the key clash against the Foxes.

Leicester were the last non 'big six' team to finish in the top four in 2016, ending an 11-year wait after Moyes was in charge of the previous team do it (Everton in 2005).

But Moyes thinks reaching the top four with West Ham would top that.

"I think it would be [even greater]," he said to Sky Sports.

"I'd been at Everton for three years by then so that would mean it would be a bigger achievement given we're already competing. 

"[European football] would not be something new for the club, but it would be new in the modern era of West Ham.

"I still feel the Premier League has an established order - there's a lot of teams knocking at the door to see if they can get in.

"A few of the big teams are worried about it because we see that in other situations and developments with talk of a new [breakaway] league.

"We are having a really good season at the moment, we are trying to stick with it and we are not hiding from the fact we believe we are outsiders. 

"But we also believe we have got a great opportunity so why do not we try to attack it full on?

"This time last year, we had to win games in order to stay in the Premier League so we're actually all feeling very light and not heavy.

"We'll try to take a few risks, try to go for it and see if we can win them. The aim is to try to finish around the top end.

"I think most people will not expect us to make Champions League, so I hope we can try to do something very similar to what Leicester did when they went on to win the league. 

"Nobody thought they could win it."

West Ham are winless in five home matches with Leicester (D2 L3), losing 2-1 last season.

Ahead of the game, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers backed striker Jamie Vardy to emerge from a goalscoring slump that has seen him score just once in 17 matches.

"The team has still been winning," Rodgers said. "What's most important for Jamie is you have to continue to work, make runs and sometimes you just need that bit of luck.

"He has created a number of opportunities for us. We know his threat and he can score any time.

"Jamie has just been very unfortunate, between keepers making saves and blocks on the line and some chances that, maybe, he would have put away.

"He is always going to be there. He is such a threat, his sharpness and speed, he is such an important player for us."

West Ham are looking to record their first Premier League double over Leicester since the 1999-00 season under Harry Redknapp.

The Hammers have the second-best home record in the Premier League (28 points), while Leicester have the second-best away record so far this term (34 points). 

League leaders Manchester City are the team at the top in both categories.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not alone in facing a conundrum as he decides on who will play in goal for Manchester United against Tottenham.

Fantasy football players across the globe may also be wondering who to back between the sticks this weekend. Well, we might just be able to settle the debate.

As the Premier League season enters its decisive final weeks, we've got a handful of suggestions to give you the edge when it comes to your fantasy leagues, and one or two may just surprise you.

Without further ado, here are our picks for matchday 31, based on Opta data.

 

DEAN HENDERSON

Since taking over the number one spot with United while David de Gea was on parenting duties, Henderson has given little reason to suggest he should be dropped.

The England man might only have made four appearances in the top flight in 2021 but, of the 11 shots he has faced, he has saved all but one of them. That gives him a save percentage of 91, the best in the competition among keepers to play at least twice.

He could well be entrusted to keep Harry Kane and company at bay when United face Tottenham.

ANDY ROBERTSON

Even during a much more difficult season at Liverpool, Robertson continues to offer value as a defender given his undiminished attacking proclivities.

Only Aaron Cresswell (seven) has been directly involved in more Premier League goals among defenders this season than Robertson (six).

The Scotland left-back has had 80 touches in the opposition box, by far the most for a defender this term. He's an attacking threat to rely on.

 

JOHN STONES

Not only has Stones won back his place in Pep Guardiola's first-choice defence, he's even started proving a menace in the opposition box this year.

The centre-back has scored four goals in 2021, the most of any Premier League defender, having only managed one in his first 170 games in the top flight.

Given he already has eight clean sheets this year, behind only Cesar Azpilicueta (nine) among defenders, he should practically walk into fantasy teams at present.

JESSE LINGARD

He's been talked about pretty much every week since joining West Ham on loan – and for good reason.

Since his league debut for the Hammers in February, Lingard has been directly involved in nine goals (six scored, three assisted), matching Kane (seven scored, two assisted) for the most involvements of any player in the competition in that time.

West Ham face a tough test against Leicester City on Sunday, but Lingard has good recent memories of facing the Foxes: he scored the second goal when Manchester United won 2-0 at the King Power Stadium on the final day of last season.

 

RAPHINHA

Patrick Bamford has enjoyed a strong first Premier League season for Leeds United, but few would deny that Raphinha has been their standout attacking performer.

No Leeds player has created more chances (55) or provided more assists (six) than the Brazilian, who has also scored six goals of his own in 2020-21, most recently in the 2-1 win at Fulham on March 19.

If anyone can cause problems for Manchester City on Saturday, it's him.

DANNY WELBECK

Welbeck is enjoying a decent run of form for Brighton and Hove Albion, with goals in his previous two games against Newcastle United and boyhood club Manchester United.

The 30-year-old hasn't managed to score in three in a row in the Premier League since January 2014, but Everton might just be the ideal opposition for him to do just that.

Welbeck has more direct goal involvements (eight – four scored, four assisted) against the Toffees than he does against any other top-flight team. His goals have come for three different teams, too: United, Arsenal and Sunderland.

 

AYOZE PEREZ

Perez is another man with fond memories of his coming opponents.

The forward has managed three goals and three assists in his previous seven league games against West Ham, making them his most profitable opponents after Southampton.

Kelechi Iheanacho is the man in form at Leicester City, but Perez could well be a safe bet to make a decisive impact against the Hammers.

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.

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Jesse Lingard continued his sensational run of form for West Ham with a fine solo goal in the 3-2 win over Wolves on Monday.

After collecting the ball in his own half at Molineux, Lingard carried the ball into the Wolves box, surging clear of Leander Dendoncker and Romain Saiss before beating Rui Patricio with a left-footed finish.

Lingard later assisted a goal for Jarrod Bowen, as West Ham won 3-2 to boost their chances of finishing in the Premier League top four, a position they hold with eight matches to go.

The attacking midfielder has nine goal involvements in eight matches (six goals, three assists) since making his West Ham debut on February 3.

Lingard earned an England recall for his impressive West Ham displays in a loan spell that was initially expected to precede a permanent move, either to the Hammers or elsewhere.

When he made a flying start at West Ham, reports initially focused around how his transfer price-tag had increased.

But the continuation of his impressive play means there are now questions over whether he can force his way back into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's plans at Old Trafford.

It is a scenario that looked highly unlikely two months ago, but one former United captain Gary Neville now thinks has merit.

LINGARD AT UNITED

Lingard was often criticised but had his moments at United, where he came through the youth system.

He scored in their FA Cup final win over Crystal Palace in 2016 and won the Europa League a year later.

Lingard played 33 Premier League matches (20 starts) for United as recently as 2018-19, scoring eight times and adding five assists.

But his playing time continued to decrease from there until he was frozen out by Solskjaer in the first half of this season, not appearing in the Premier League and making only three domestic cup appearances.

Prior to his exit, Lingard did not score or assist a single Premier League goal for United in a period of 33 matches over 18 months.

WEST HAM RESURGENCE

Now, though, Lingard's nine goal involvements since debuting are tied for the best over that span in the Premier League with Tottenham striker Harry Kane, who himself is having a memorable campaign.

He sits above the likes of other in-form stars like Gabriel Jesus (7) and Bruno Fernandes, Kelechi Iheanacho and Ilkay Gundogan (all 6).

West Ham's win over Wolves saw the Hammers show off their counter-attacking ability.

Only Leeds United (6) have scored more goals from fast breaks than David Moyes' side this season (5), with two of those coming at Molineux.

United have been at their best under Solskjaer when they have soaked up pressure and thrived on the counter-attack.

So there is an argument Lingard could fit in with United and just needed a run of matches to get his rhythm and confidence back, boosting his hopes of playing for England at Euro 2020 in the process.

NEVILLE ON LINGARD DILEMMA

Neville believes there can be a role for Lingard at United, though it would come at the cost of not playing week in, week out.

"He does an incredible amount of running," Neville said to Sky Sports. "It's what he does. He's good out of possession and good in possession.

"At Manchester United because there is that expectation of what you need to be, to be a wide player there, he's always going to get a difficult press.

"But if he was playing in a world-class team, if he was, say, Park Ji-sung 10 years ago playing with Ronaldo and Rooney, doing that supplementary role, then people would be saying he's perfect for this squad.

"The problem is he was not playing in Manchester United teams as good as that, so he gets a bit of stick.

"He's a really good player. He's going to have a great career. 

"Manchester United have sent him out to West Ham to boost his career, maybe with the thought of boosting his price tag, but they might be thinking, 'Actually, we might want him back, he could be a real help to us'.

"If Jesse wants to play, and you can see he does want to play, then he needs to leave, because he's not going to play every single week for a United team that's competing for second or first place in the league.

"But if he's willing to go back there and compete and be the player that Dan James has been for the last few weeks, in and out, then there's no doubt he can play for Manchester United."

 

LINGARD COMPARED TO MAN UTD STARS

Given he did not play for the first half of the season, we are dealing with a smaller sample size with Lingard compared to the key attackers at United.

But Lingard comes out on top of all West Ham and United players with 0.74 goals per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season, above Fernandes (0.56), Edinson Cavani (0.54) and Michail Antonio (0.41).

Lingard (0.38) is on almost the same level as Fernandes (0.39) for assists per game, coming second among both squads in players to feature for at least 500 minutes.

Alex Telles (0.35) and Said Benrahma (0.33) are the others to fare well for assists P90.

At 3.95 dribbles attempted per game, only Marcus Rashford (5.65) takes on an opponent more often than Lingard in that category among United players.

There are three West Ham players who do so more often, led by Benrahma (5.26).

When it comes to created chances, it is one area where Lingard falls slightly short.

Fernandes (3.03) and Luke Shaw (2.26) are well clear of the pack, with Benrahma (1.5) and Aaron Creswell (1.43) coming out best for West Ham. 

Lingard (1.15) would rank fifth among United players, which is also where he sits at West Ham.

Overall, Lingard has made a huge impact at West Ham, spearheading an unlikely Champions League pursuit.

His performance levels compare favourably to most of United's forwards and attacking threats.

It is a move that has worked out superbly for him and David Moyes, but also for United.

They can either welcome back a revived squad player as part of their plans for 2021-22 or cash in at a much greater level than they could have done prior to Lingard's London switch.

West Ham United coach David Moyes has heaped praise on Jesse Lingard who has been involved in more Premier League goals than any other player since his Hammers debut.

Lingard scored West Ham's opening goal in Monday's 3-2 win away to Wolverhampton which sees Moyes' side move above Chelsea in fourth spot.

The on-loan Manchester United winger has scored six goals and provided three assists since debuting for the Hammers on February 3.

"We were worried about their speed, when you think about the speed Adama Traore’s got and Pedro Neto’s got, so we had a real concern about them, but I’ve got to say Jesse’s speed was there too," Moyes said.

"He showed a bit of old-fashioned dribbling and used his speed to get away from people.

"I said to him at the end that he’s made a big difference and I don’t give praise too easily, but I certainly gave it to Jesse tonight."

The 28-year-old winger is enjoying near career-best form having fallen out of favour at Old Trafford in recent seasons.

"It’s just consistency behind my form I think," Lingard said.

"Obviously I hadn’t played much for the past two years, so to be playing week-in, week-out and keeping up this form is great, but the team have helped me tremendously."

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