With Barcelona and Real Madrid keen to strengthen their defences, one Inter star is attracting interest.

Milan Skriniar is reportedly wanted by LaLiga champions Barca and Spanish rivals Madrid.

Will Inter be able to retain the centre-back?

 

TOP STORY – SKRINIAR WANTED BY LALIGA GIANTS

Barcelona and Real Madrid have set their sights on Inter defender Skriniar, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Skriniar – contracted to Inter until June 2023 – has established himself as one of the world's best defenders since moving to Milan from Sampdoria in 2017.

The likes of Manchester City and Manchester United have also been linked to the 24-year-old Slovakia international.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are desperate to strengthen their squad and ESPN claims the Premier League side have an eight-man shortlist, which includes Leicester City's James Maddison, Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho, Salzburg's goalscoring machine Erling Haaland, West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, Bournemouth's Callum Wilson, Lyon forward Moussa Dembele, as well as Aston Villa pair Jack Grealish and John McGinn.

- Staying at Old Trafford and The Mirror says United are monitoring Sporting CP's Matheus Pereira, who is on loan at Championship outfit West Brom. It comes as The Sun reports the Red Devils could sign Gareth Bale and send Paul Pogba to Real Madrid.

- Bild says Borussia Monchengladbach have no plans to sell midfielder Denis Zakaria in January. Zakaria has reportedly attracted interest from United, Bayern Munich, Dortmund and others.

Manchester City are circling Inter midfielder Stefano Sensi, according to Calciomercato. Sensi moved to Inter on loan from Serie A side Sassuolo and the 24-year-old has starred at San Siro.

- Calciomercato claims Juventus are looking at Paris Saint-Germain's Thomas Meunier and Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri amid their injury crisis in Turin.

- Brescia sensation and Italy international Sandro Tonali is being chased by Serie A champions Juve and LaLiga side Atletico Madrid, reports Corriere di Torino.

Tammy Abraham urged England fans to get behind the squad leading into Euro 2020 following the "unacceptable" treatment of Joe Gomez on Thursday.

Boos were heard at Wembley when Liverpool defender Gomez entered the 7-0 qualifying victory over Montenegro as a second-half substitute. 

The 22-year-old had days earlier been involved in altercation with England team-mate Raheem Sterling, who was subsequently dropped from the matchday squad.

Gareth Southgate admitted to being perplexed by the reception Gomez received and Manchester City forward Sterling took to Twitter to describe it as "wrong".

Chelsea's Abraham agreed, telling reporters: "We're all England, if we're players or fans.

"We said after the game it was unacceptable. We don't need that really. He's a great player.

"Things happen in football, things happen between team-mates. It's about dusting yourself [off] and just moving on. As you can see, we've all done it at England, we've all moved on from the situation.

"We need everyone to be together. At times like that, we need the fans to lift us up and help us. Going into tournaments, we need it."

The booing of Gomez added a sour note to what had otherwise been an exceptional outing for England.

Harry Kane marked the Three Lions' 1000th match with a quickfire hat-trick and Southgate's men confidently confirmed their qualification for Euro 2020.

Abraham rounded out the scoring with his first international goal, a close-range finish from Jadon Sancho's pass.

The striker has been in brilliant form for Chelsea this season and has big ambitions for club and country.

Asked if England can win the Euros, he replied: "I believe so. Bigger dreams, hopefully. Being at the Euros, winning it, top four or top two in the Premier League, just believing.

"The sky's the limit. Hopefully, hopefully – I don't want to jinx myself."

Inter have a fight on their hands to retain the services of star forward Lautaro Martinez.

Martinez has been heavily linked to LaLiga champions Barcelona as they search for Luis Suarez's long-term replacement.

But Manchester City and United are both reportedly interested in the Argentina international.

 

TOP STORY – CITY & UNITED TARGET MARTINEZ

Manchester City and Premier League neighbours United want to sign Inter star Martinez, according to The Mirror.

Martinez – who is only in his second season in Milan after joining from Racing Club in 2018 – has flourished this term with eight goals across all competitions for Antonio Conte's Inter.

LaLiga champions Barcelona have been linked, while the two Manchester clubs are also reportedly targeting the 22-year-old forward.

 

ROUND-UP

- Unhappy at Barcelona, Ivan Rakitic could remain in LaLiga. The Croatia international has attracted interest from the likes of Inter, United and Paris Saint-Germain in his pursuit of more game time. However, Movistar+ claims Atletico Madrid are willing to meet Barca's €40million valuation of Rakitic. Marca adds that Atletico do not plan to replace Diego Costa due to salary constraints.

- The Mirror says Arsenal scouted Leicester City defender Caglar Soyuncu during Turkey's Euro 2020 qualifier against Iceland on Thursday. Soyuncu moved to Leicester from Freiburg in 2018 and the 23-year-old has stepped up to fill the void left by Harry Maguire, who joined United in a world-record deal.

- Zlatan Ibrahimovic out and Edinson Cavani in for LA Galaxy? According to Gianluca Di Marzio, MLS side the Galaxy are targeting Paris Saint-Germain's Cavani following Ibrahimovic's exit. The Uruguay forward is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked to David Beckham's Inter Miami franchise, who will open their inaugural season against the Galaxy next year.

Inter will need to fork out €30m if they want to sign Udinese's Rodrigo de Paul in January, reports Calciomercato. The Express also reports that Inter are ready to offer out-of-favour Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud an 18-month contract. Conte is determined to add depth up front, with Martinez and Romelu Lukaku leading the way in the absence of injured loanee Alexis Sanchez.

- Corriere dello Sport claims Roma have joined the chase for Everton forward Moise Kean. The 19-year-old has struggled since moving to the Premier League from Juventus, and the likes of Sampdoria and AC Milan are lining up to bring the teenager back to Serie A on loan.

Gareth Southgate vowed to help Jadon Sancho through a difficult period in his Borussia Dortmund career following a lengthy discussion with the young winger.

Sancho was dropped from Dortmund's squad for a Bundesliga fixture last month and suffered the indignity of being withdrawn before half-time of the club's 4-0 Der Klassiker defeat to Bayern Munich.

Fresh transfer rumours are now linking the England international with a move away from Signal Iduna Park amid suggestions he has become unsettled.

"Any young player is going to have ups and downs," Three Lions boss Southgate said.

"Jadon has played a lot of football. A couple of games lately he's gone into physically fatigued. His club have taken the decision to keep playing him because he is a highly important player.

"It was a bit of a mixed bag recently. He was very good against Inter, he had a difficult game against Bayern, but the whole team did.

"I know what has gone on. He came to me at the beginning of the week and we had 25 minutes chatting about everything.

"We have a duty of care, almost, to him, to help him to progress and to develop as much as we can."

Sancho is in his third season in Germany after leaving Manchester City in 2017.

"It's an enormous challenge that Jadon has taken on, to go to another country," Southgate added. "There's the football of course, but he's also adapting to life and the language.

"He's done incredibly well, and it's inevitable that there are going to be games where he's maybe not as effective. 

"But he still has a high level of assists, a high level of goals. He's a great talent and part of our job is to help him to succeed."

With Raheem Sterling not considered for selection, Sancho could start Thursday's Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro.

Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi is another option.

The 19-year-old has impressed since returning from an Achilles injury, having spurned interest from Bundesliga champions Bayern in favour of signing a new deal at Stamford Bridge.

"I wasn't saying I was definitely going to sign or I wasn't going to sign," Hudson-Odoi told reporters. "It was just because of times last year where I felt a bit of frustration or times when I wanted to play more because I love the game.

"I made the right decision to stay at Chelsea."

Jadon Sancho could be about to spark a bidding war.

The England international is reportedly ready to leave Borussia Dortmund, a development that will have his numerous European suitors on red alert.

Manchester United have long been linked to Sancho, but could face stiff Premier League competition for his signature.


TOP STORY – SANCHO SEEKING DORTMUND DEPARTURE

Jadon Sancho has become unsettled at Borussia Dortmund and wants to leave, according to the Daily Mail.

The exciting teenage winger is said to have grown dissatisfied with life at Signal Iduna Park after being dropped for a Bundesliga fixture last month for disciplinary reasons.

Head coach Lucien Favre further tested their relationship when he withdrew the Manchester City product before half-time of the heavy Der Klassiker loss to Bayern Munich.

News of Sancho's decision to depart will be noted at Old Trafford, but the report claims Manchester United's bitter Premier League rivals Liverpool are also showing strong interest. 

LaLiga giants Real Madrid appear to be another potential destination for one of the continent's most coveted young stars.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sancho could be heading in the opposite direction to Leroy Sane. The Daily Mirror says Bayern Munich have reignited their interest in the Germany international, who has been sidelined since the start of the season due to a knee injury.

- Granit Xhaka is not the only Arsenal midfielder on AC Milan's radar. According to Calciomercato, the Rossoneri are even more eager to land Lucas Torreira, and will make a move in June after failing to prise him away from north London at the end of last season.

- Chelsea are set for another fight to keep in-form winger Willian as Juventus and Barcelona circle the 31-year-old, the Daily Mirror reports. Frank Lampard wants to keep the Brazilian at Stamford Bridge but Willian's contract is up at the end of the campaign.

- Manchester City captain David Silva could follow in the footsteps of Andres Iniesta, Fernando Torres and David Villa by seeing out his career in Japan. Spanish television programme El Chiringuito says the 33-year-old is in talks to join Vissel Kobe following the completion of his 10-season spell at the Etihad Stadium.

- Leicester City and Aston Villa have been linked to Alfredo Morelos but Rangers are in no rush to sell. That is the assurance of the Scottish side's new sporting director Ross Wilson, who "categorically" stated that an annual loss of £11.3million would not impact the club's determination to keep their Colombian striker.

Chelsea star Christian Pulisic has withdrawn from the United States' squad due to a hip injury.

The winger was part of the initial selection for the CONCACAF Nations League fixtures with Canada and Cuba this month.

However, head coach Gregg Berhalter confirmed a joint decision had been made to not risk Pulisic's fitness.

"Christian is officially at this stage ruled out. We just got that information. This was a collaborative decision with the club, looking after the best interest of the player," he said.

"These decisions are always difficult because this group and the coaching staff want nothing more than to have Christian here, but it was a risk we weren't willing to take at this time."

Pulisic has been in great form for a Chelsea side that sit third in the Premier League, scoring five goals in nine top-flight outings during his debut campaign at Stamford Bridge.

Sheffield United were the recipients of a harsh VAR decision but Chris Wilder's side battled back to draw 1-1 with Tottenham after Son Heung-min's opener on Saturday.

After Son - who was initially set to be suspended for this match but had his red card for a tackle that led to Andre Gomes' ankle injury overturned in midweek - put Spurs ahead, the Blades looked to have equalised until VAR disallowed David McGoldrick's goal.

However, George Baldock earned a share of the spoils for the Blades 12 minutes from time.

While Spurs are without a win in five league matches, their London rivals Chelsea are having no such issues under Frank Lampard, as they claimed a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

Elsewhere, Everton claimed a vital away win at Southampton, Newcastle United saw off Bournemouth 2-1 and Burnley returned to winning ways in style with a 3-0 triumph over struggling West Ham.

 

SON ON TARGET BUT BLADES OVERCOME VAR CONTROVERSY

Much has been made of Son's devastation after his part in Gomes' injury, but he had reason to celebrate after the forward proved his importance to Spurs in what was another impotent display from Mauricio Pochettino's side.

Tottenham successfully appealed Son's red card, and they benefitted from having the forward available when the South Korea international pounced on Enda Stevens' mistake just before the hour.

The Blades thought they had scored a swift equaliser through McGoldrick, only for VAR to come to Spurs' rescue as - after a lengthy VAR check - it was deemed John Lundstram, who also hit the post, was marginally offside.

But VAR would not deny the visitors again - George Baldock's cross-cum-shot looping in to secure a deserved share of the spoils and lift the Blades, for now, into fifth.

ABRAHAM STRIKES AGAIN AS CHELSEA MAKE IT SIX IN A ROW

Chelsea were frustrated by some stubborn Palace defending in the first half at Stamford Bridge, but Lampard's side made the breakthrough courtesy of Tammy Abraham's 10th league goal of the season.

A sublime team move culminated in Willian flicking it around the corner into Abraham, who took a superb first touch before slotting beyond Vicente Guaita.

Three deserved points were wrapped up 11 minutes from time - Christian Pulisic acrobatically firing home as Chelsea won a sixth successive league match and, temporarily at least, moved above Manchester City into second.

EVERTON CLAIM VITAL VICTORY AS BURNLEY CLATTER WEST HAM

Defeat - or even a failure to win - at St Mary's for Everton could have spelled the end for Marco Silva, but the Toffees came away with the points thanks to Richarlison's 75th-minute effort.

Danny Ings' goal five minutes into the second half had cancelled out Tom Davies' early opener, yet Southampton - who have now lost six out of their last seven league matches - could not keep up the momentum, with Richarlison having the final say as Everton held onto their first away win of the season.

Everton sit in 13th, a point behind Burnley, who ended a three-game losing streak by dismantling West Ham, whose boss Manuel Pellegrini may well be under pressure heading into the international break.

Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood - who has scored in all five of his Premier League games against the Hammers - had Burnley in control by the break, before Roberto Jimenez's calamitous own goal wrapped things up at Turf Moor. 

Antoine Griezmann will go on to enjoy a successful Barcelona career, Didier Deschamps believes, adding he has no concerns over the forward's form.

Griezmann left Atletico Madrid for Barca in a €120million deal in the close season, but he has failed to find his best form so far at Camp Nou.

Having played predominantly out wide rather than in the central role he occupies for France and used to fulfil for Atleti, the 28-year-old has four LaLiga goals in 10 appearances this term.

However, Deschamps has no concerns over Griezmann, claiming he simply needs more time to adapt to life at his new club.

"Not at all. Even if you have great players at Barcelona, it doesn't happen in a day. It depends on how they play, how they work with each other," Deschamps told a news conference after again selecting Griezmann for international duty.

"Also, he's put in different positions than the ones he has with France, even though he played [wide] a long time ago.

"He must fit in, the other players as well. He didn't choose the easiest solution and it's a big club, so the expectations are huge. He's always part of a team, but he's not used to it yet.

"Even when he's not as good, he's always positive for the team. With us, it's a different situation, different position, he can play at his best position where I've put him a long time ago. Of course, he has a very important role in how we play."

Another forward who has made the cut for France and has been a pivotal player under Deschamps is Olivier Giroud.

Giroud has made just four Premier League appearances for Chelsea so far this season, with Frank Lampard preferring Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi to the 33-year-old, who has been restricted to 211 minutes of club action across all competitions.

However, the former Arsenal striker remains a key player for France, scoring against Iceland and Turkey in October.

"I picked him last month because of what he did in the past. He's an important player for us. He proves it on the pitch," said Deschamps, who again stressed the importance of Giroud getting more game time. 

"When he scores, it's good for him. It happens quite frequently and, even when he doesn't score, he's an important player for us.

"Sadly, the situation hasn't evolved for him, but he is there because I trust him, because of what he has done in the past and in October. Of course, and he knows it, I hope the situation will change with his club for our games in March.

"He needs to play, even though he is very fit, he needs to be more on the pitch."

Kylian Mbappe continues to be linked with a move away from Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool are seemingly well in the race.

Mbappe, 20, has starred for PSG since arriving in 2017, but is reportedly a target for LaLiga giants Real Madrid.

However, Champions League winners Liverpool could also make a move for the France international forward.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL INTERESTED IN MBAPPE

Liverpool are set to battle Real Madrid for Mbappe, according to El Desmarque.

The report says the Premier League leaders have the funds to sign Mbappe after a quiet transfer window ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Mbappe remains the main target for Madrid despite being contracted at PSG until 2022.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bayern Munich are looking for a coach to replace Niko Kovac and Arsene Wenger may, or may not, be a target. Bild reports the Bundesliga giants have spoken to the former Arsenal manager, while The Athletic says Bayern do not want Wenger.

- There could also be a coaching change coming at Barcelona. LaLiga's champions look set to part ways with Ernesto Valverde at the end of the season, with Marca reporting Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman is the top target to take over at Camp Nou.

- Back at Anfield and Liverpool could be lining up a move for Genk midfielder Sander Berge. Norwegian newspaper VG claims Jurgen Klopp told Berge he was a "very interesting player" after Liverpool's 2-1 Champions League win over Genk on Tuesday.

- Napoli are well off the pace in Serie A and it could see Carlo Ancelotti make a January exit. FOX Sports reports Boca Juniors are interested in the Italian tactician.

- Chelsea look set to make changes to their squad in January. The Premier League side are open to listening to offers for Olivier Giroud and Pedro in early 2020, according to The Telegraph.

- Amid a lack of playing time, Nemanja Matic is considering a Manchester United exit in January, according to the Manchester Evening News. Matic has made just two Premier League starts for United this season.

Jorginho wants Serie A to take a "broader look" at the issue of racism beyond just penalising Hellas Verona following the abuse Mario Balotelli suffered at the weekend.

Brescia striker Balotelli kicked a ball into the stands and threatened to walk off the pitch having heard monkey chants during the match at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi on Sunday.

Verona's coach Ivan Juric insisted there was no racist chanting, but Serie A punished the club by giving them a one-match partial stadium ban.

There have been other recent incidents of players suffering racist abuse in Italy this season, with Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly and Inter striker Romelu Lukaku subjected to offensive chants during games, and Jorginho wants Serie A to take a wider look at the problem.

"I am really sorry, because these things shouldn't happen - neither in football nor in the world," the Chelsea and Italy midfielder said.

"Unfortunately, they happen and I am really sorry. I'd like to send my affection to Mario, who doesn't deserve this.

"And if I may, I'd like to ask not to do things like this, because it really hurts these people and it should never happen.

"Unfortunately, it happened, but I don't think this happened only in Verona. It's happening everywhere.

"Therefore, I think we shouldn't penalise or point the finger only on Verona, we should take a broader look, because it didn't happen only in Verona.

"Yes, they made a mistake and it is true that it's not the first time, but how many times [has] it happened in other cities as well? It shouldn't happen, I repeat, and I am really sorry, but we have to take a broader look to all the cities where it happened and not only to Verona."

 

Raheem Sterling dreams of playing abroad and could be about to get his wish.

Real Madrid reportedly want to sign the Manchester City star after succeeding in their attempts to lure Eden Hazard from Chelsea.

To make the deal happen, the Spanish giants are ready to send Gareth Bale back to the Premier League.

 

TOP STORY – SANTIAGO BERNABEU CALLING FOR STERLING

China continues to loom as the likeliest escape route for Gareth Bale, but Real Madrid might just have a different destination in mind.

According to Sky Sports, Madrid are preparing to offer the Wales winger plus £70million in a bid to prise Raheem Sterling from Manchester City.

Whether the Premier League champions have any interest in 30-year-old Bale is another matter, while the long-term contract extension Sterling signed last November gives them a strong bargaining position.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fresh speculation linking Kylian Mbappe to Zinedine Zidane's Madrid will prompt Paris Saint-Germain to offer the France forward an enticing new deal worth around €40million per season, Le Parisien reports. Mbappe has just over two years left on his current contract.

PSG are not just busy attempting to tie down their own players. De Telegraaf claims the Ligue 1 champions are one of three clubs expressing interest in Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana. Tottenham and Manchester United have also reportedly made contact with the 23-year-old's agent.

- Chelsea have identified several big-name January targets if their transfer ban is lifted at an appeal hearing later this month. Borussia Dortmund teenager Jadon Sancho, Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha and Lyon striker Moussa Dembele are the primary targets according to The Telegraph, which also lists Ben Chilwell and Nathan Ake among the names interesting Frank Lampard.

- Rade Krunic, one of AC Milan's better performers in the weekend loss to Lazio, will not be allowed to leave the club on loan, despite Bosnia and Herzegovina boss Robert Prosinecki advising him to seek more playing time. Calciomercato say the recent Rossoneri signing is part of Stefano Pioli's plans and will be staying put at San Siro.

Erik ten Hag has confirmed he will stay at Ajax for the remainder of the season, seemingly ending speculation of a move back to Bayern Munich.

Dutchman Ten Hag was previously in charge of Bayern's second string and, following the departure of Niko Kovac on Sunday, has been linked with a return to the Bundesliga club.

However, speaking to the media ahead of Ajax's Champions League fixture against Chelsea on Tuesday, the 49-year-old ruled out heading back to Bavaria - for now at least.

When asked if he plans to stay with his current employers, he replied: "I can confirm that. I feel a strong connection with my team, with everyone with Ajax. I can confirm I will stay in Ajax this season."

Ten Hag did admit he retains a love for Bayern but is "not a dreamer", instead choosing to focus on Ajax getting a positive result at Stamford Bridge.

"Bayern is a fantastic club – I felt really comfortable and really enjoyed working there. They are still in my heart, but now I am with Ajax," he said.

"I'm not a dreamer – I focus on Ajax and that's important. I live for today, my only focus is on Ajax and tomorrow's game with Chelsea."

Surprise semi-finalists last season, Ajax are level with Chelsea on six points in Group H, though they lost at home to the Blues in the previous round of fixtures.

Ten Hag understands his players face a tall order to prevail against their Premier League hosts, believing Frank Lampard's squad can go all the way in the competition.

"They are one of the favourites," he said. "It's going to be difficult, but every game is going to be difficult. We trust in ourselves.

"We know we have to play perfectly, give our best performance. Then we will have a chance."

A new striker in January is a priority at Manchester United and reports suggest a familiar face could make a sensational return to England.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has previously said the club will be doing business after Christmas, with a striker still required following the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez.

Marcus Rashford has scored three goals in his previous two matches, while Anthony Martial marked his return from injury with a goal against Norwich City last Sunday, but a surprising name could provide the answer to United's depth issues up top.

 

TOP STORY – MANCHESTER UNITED MAKE CONTACT WITH IBRAHIMOVIC

Manchester United have made contact with former striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, according to TuttoMercatoWeb.

Ibrahimovic scored 30 goals in MLS for LA Galaxy in 2019, but they were eliminated from the post-season after a 5-3 defeat to cross-town rivals LAFC in the Western Conference semi-finals last weekend.

Interest in the former Barcelona, Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain striker has increased since the end of LA Galaxy's season with the Swede still believing he can contribute at the highest level.

The 38-year-old is currently a free agent and scored 29 goals at Old Trafford in a brief spell with the club previously.

ROUND-UP

- One player who may create funds for Manchester United's January business is defender Chris Smalling, but Corriere dello Sport claim the Red Devils want double the €10 million price Roma are expecting to pay for him. 

- AS are reporting Edinson Cavani is weighing up his future at Paris Saint-Germain with Atletico Madrid and Inter Miami keeping tabs on the Uruguayan.

Stefano Sensi is currently on-loan at Inter Milan from Sassuolo, but Sport claim Sensi's agent is in Barcelona as speculation of a move to the Spanish champions grows.

- The Daily Mail claims Wolves will turn to Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes in January as they seek reinforcements to cover the injured Willy Boly.

- Chelsea are interested in signing Hertha Berlin winger Javairo Dilrosun when their transfer ban expires, according to Calciomercato.

- L'Equipe say Nantes are among several clubs showing interest in free agent forward Hatem Ben Arfa.

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard said N'Golo Kante will resume training "in the next two or three days" as he steps up his recovery from a groin strain.

Kante missed Chelsea's 2-1 loss to Manchester United in the EFL Cup fourth round at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

The France international has not featured since injuring his groin during the warm-up ahead of his country's Euro 2020 qualifier against Iceland on October 14.

Lampard provided an update on Kante post-match and revealed the Chelsea star is set to return to training before Saturday's clash with Premier League strugglers Watford.

"Training in the next two or three days," Lampard told reporters. "Hopefully [before the international break]. It's important, he's a top player.

"I'd have liked to have given Jorginho and [Mateo] Kovacic a rest tonight because of the work they've put in, but I couldn't today because of N'Golo, Ross [Barkley] and Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] long-term. I couldn't make the changes I wanted to today. It is what it is."

Chelsea succumbed to Marcus Rashford's stunning 73rd-minute free-kick in London, where United moved through to the quarter-finals.

Michy Batshuayi had cancelled out Rashford's 25th-minute penalty after the hour before the United star stepped up and scored a jaw-dropping, Cristiano Ronaldo-esque set piece.

Lampard added: "We've had seven wins on the trot. We've had taxing games in the Champions League. We want to get into the next stage of that. Our form in the league has been really good.

"They're the priorities. But we want to win matches and give everything. Today, I had to look at my squad and who deserves minutes. The young players. The competition has an element of that for us.

"I saw a lot of things that were good for us for the future. A lot of positive things about us. I hate losing. We all do here. But there's a big picture here and a lot of big games to come, and a busy fixture list. Now we focus on what happens next."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer compared two-goal hero Marcus Rashford to Cristiano Ronaldo following his stunning free kick against Chelsea in the EFL Cup.

Rashford's spectacular 73rd-minute free kick sealed a 2-1 victory away to Chelsea and United's place in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Michy Batshuayi had cancelled out Rashford's 25th-minute penalty after the hour before the United star stepped up and scored a jaw-dropping, Ronaldo-esque set piece.

United great Ronaldo spent six years at Old Trafford, where he netted a number of free kicks as he won three Premier League titles and the Champions League before leaving in 2009.

"It's very Cristiano-like, isn't it?" Solskjaer told MUTV. "The boy has got nerves of steel, takes a penalty, no problem. Steps up and hits the ball like he does and wins us the game, fantastic. I think he works too much on [free-kicks]. I've always tried to get Marcus scoring the simple tap-ins and be inside the box, he always scores great goals Marcus, he practises and today he got his reward.

"Marcus has that strike in him. I've seen him in training so many times and it's got to be hitting the target soon, you think, because he's had a few efforts and finally it goes in. My first ever game when I came back at Cardiff he hit a ball from 30 yards, scored after three minutes, so he's encouraged to do more of that."

United defender Victor Lindelof also compared Rashford to five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo post match.

In a Tweet midweek, Lindelof posted almost identical pictures of Ronaldo and Rashford's free-kick routines, with the caption: "Sure I've seen that somewhere before…"

Wednesday maintained United's good form, which extended to three successive wins following a Premier League victory at Norwich City, having won their Europa League clash away to Partizan Belgrade.

"We're hitting form," Solskjaer told Sky Sports. "Of course, three wins in a row away from home now is good for the boys. We've travelled a lot the last week, but when you get the results, the team spirit, camaraderie, we stay together, so it shows the character of the team.

"We get the games where we want them, or we've been leading 1-0 many, many games this season but we haven't kicked on from there. I thought today we were excellent, counter-attacking football, fast-flowing forward passing, that's Man United and we're trying to get back to that."

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