Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly remains a target for Paris Saint-Germain.

Ronaldo, 35, is into his third season at Juventus after the five-time Ballon d'Or winner enjoyed stellar spells at Real Madrid and Manchester United.

But the Portugal international has been linked with a move from Turin previously, and that talk continues.

 

TOP STORY – PSG STILL EYEING RONALDO

PSG could make a move for Ronaldo again next year, according to CalcioMercato.

However, the report says Ronaldo is committed to seeing out his contract at Juventus through to 2022.

Ronaldo has scored three goals in two games for Juve this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could Barcelona and Juventus combine for further deals next year? CalcioMercato says the two European giants may begin talks about a swap deal involving Ousmane Dembele and Federico Bernardeschi. Earlier this year, Miralem Pjanic left Juve for Barcelona, while Arthur joined the Serie A champions.

- Mesut Ozil wants to stay at Arsenal. TyC Sports says Saudi club Al-Nassr made a £5million bid for Ozil and Arsenal were prepared to accept it, but the playmaker wanted to remain at the Premier League club.

- With Alisson injured and Adrian under fire, Liverpool have been linked with a move for a goalkeeper before the domestic transfer deadline in England on Friday. However, the Mirror reports the Premier League champions will not sign a new goalkeeper despite links to Stoke City shot-stopper Jack Butland.

- After staying at Sevilla amid links to Manchester City, Jules Kounde could be set for a new contract. Muchodeporte reports the LaLiga club could look to renew the defender's deal.

- Despite being linked with a move, Nikola Milenkovic ended up staying at Fiorentina. However, CalcioMercato says Milan could return with a bid for the defender in January after deciding against paying the €40m Fiorentina wanted for the 23-year-old Serbia international this off season.

- Juventus think they can get more than €50m for defender Merih Demiral, according to CalcioMercato. Demiral has been linked to Inter and Tottenham.

Bayern Munich have enjoyed a hugely productive transfer deadline day with three new arrivals at the Allianz Arena, while Manchester United look set for a hectic final few hours. 

Bayern had always looked likely to be active in the last days of the window, with the re-emergence of Callum Hudson-Odoi as a target indicative of their plans. 

But Bayern were unable to lure the England talent away from Chelsea and the German champions subsequently turned their attention to a familiar face. 

Douglas Costa, who previously spent two years with Bayern, returns on a season-long loan from Juventus, who subsequently bolstered their attacking options with Italy international Federico Chiesa. 

Costa, 30, was one of three arrivals, however – Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting secured another move to an elite European club having spent the previous two years with Paris Saint-Germain.

The German-born Cameroon forward previously played for hometown club Hamburg, Nurnberg, Mainz and Schalke in the Bundesliga. 

Bouna Sarr is the other player to join, with the right-back arriving from Marseille and bolstering their defensive options to allow for Joshua Kimmich to take up the mantle in midfield following Thiago Alcantara's move to Liverpool. 

Manchester United are expected to make moves in the coming hours, having already snapped up Alex Telles from Porto, who have also seen Danilo Pereira depart to PSG. 

A deal for Edinson Cavani to join Telles at Old Trafford is reportedly done, while Ousmane Dembele has been mentioned as a target. Similarly, youngsters Facundo Pellistri and Amad Traore are thought to be nearing agreements. 

OLD LADY SPLASH THE CASH

Chiesa is the biggest name on the move in Europe so far, with the Italy winger signing a two-year loan deal at Allianz Stadium which Juve are obliged to make permanent in a deal, one that could eventually earn Fiorentina €60million. 

La Viola have seen several incomings as well, however, with Jose Callejon following defenders Antonio Barreca and Lucas Martinez Quarta in joining the club. 

Roma have managed to offload a few players, with Diego Perotti moving to Fenerbahce and Justin Kluivert joining RB Leipzig – and they are still hoping to bring in defensive reinforcements, Chris Smalling and Antonio Rudiger strongly linked. 

Italian full-backs have certainly been a popular commodity on deadline day, with Matteo Darmian linking up with Inter and Mattia De Sciglio leaving Juve for Lyon.

GONNA TAKE YOU TO THE EIBAR

While Real Madrid and Barcelona appear set for quiet days, the same cannot be said for one of the teams hoping to trouble them in LaLiga this term – Sevilla. 

The Europa League winners have shipped two of their most promising youngsters to Eibar, with Bryan Gil and Alejandro Pozo providing the Basque side with greater depth on the flanks. 

Netherlands-born Morocco international winger Oussama Idrissa joins Sevilla in a reported €13m deal from AZ, while Oranje centre-back Karim Rekik moves to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan from Hertha Berlin for an estimated cost of €4m. 

They could yet bring in Joshua King from Bournemouth as well.

Madrid's lack of activity does not mean the Zidane household has no news, however, as Luca Zidane has flown the nest and joined Rayo Vallecano on a permanent deal.

Meanwhile, Real Valladolid secured the loan signing of highly rated Benfica winger Jota.

INS AND OUTS AT ARSENAL?

The biggest deal in the earlier part of deadline day in England was Ben Godfrey's transfer from Norwich City to Everton, which could land the Canaries £30m. 

Another young prospect on the move is Matteo Guendouzi. The French talent has fallen out of favour at Arsenal and he has been allowed to join Hertha Berlin for the season. 

In his place could come Thomas Partey, the Atletico Madrid midfielder who has been strongly linked with the Gunners for several months. 

The Ghana international is reportedly set to have his €50m release clause triggered by Arsenal, with Atletico previously making it clear they have no desire to negotiate with interested parties. 

Elsewhere in London, Chelsea have once again loaned out Tiemoue Bakayoko, who after playing at Milan and Monaco in the past two seasons now joins up with Napoli.

Philippe Coutinho is determined to "achieve big things" at Barcelona after being given a second chance at Camp Nou under Ronald Koeman.

The attacking midfielder scored his first goal since returning to LaLiga, netting the equaliser in Sunday's tough 1-1 home draw against Europa League winners Sevilla on Sunday.

Coutinho joined Barca from Liverpool in a reported €160million deal in January 2018 but struggled to assert himself in the first-team picture and was shipped out on loan to Bayern Munich last term.

At Bayern, Coutinho was part of the team that won a Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble under Hansi Flick but the Bavarians opted not to make the move permanent.

Coutinho's future was shrouded in doubt, with Arsenal and Tottenham having been touted as potential suitors, but the arrival of Koeman afforded him a fresh opportunity at Barca.

It is one Coutinho is keen to take, with the Brazil playmaker saying in quotes reported by Marca: "I've got a lot of hunger to work and achieve big things.

"It was a tough and difficult game [but] we knew that already. It ended up being like that.

"We've got a point and now we're going into the international break. When we return, it's about continuing to work.

"We've had a difficult first three games, but we're just getting started. We're used to this and we'll keep working. 

"Sevilla played very well. There were a lot of Sevilla players in the centre of midfield and that's why we struggled a bit. We have to correct that."

Coutinho celebrated his goal by tucking the ball under his shirt, as his wife is pregnant.

"My wife is pregnant and I wanted to dedicate my goal to her," he added. "It will be my third child."

Ronald Koeman is not sure where Ousmane Dembele will be playing when the transfer window closes as the Barcelona forward continues to be linked with a move to Manchester United.

Dembele has reportedly emerged as an alternative to Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho for Premier League giants United, who are determined to bolster their squad before Monday's deadline.

After watching Barca's 3-0 win over Celta Vigo from the stands, Dembele was once again an unused substitute in Sunday's 1-1 LaLiga draw at home to Sevilla.

Barca head coach Koeman was asked about Dembele post-match and he said: "What is certain in the world? I don't know.

"At the moment, he's a Barcelona player. There's still one day left for incomings and outgoings. We'll see.

"I opted for [Francisco] Trinao, Pedri and [Miralem] Pjanic [off the bench].

"We needed more control and that's why I made these changes."

Barca's 100 per cent start to the season was ended by Sevilla following a draw at Camp Nou, where Luuk de Jong and Philippe Coutinho traded goals.

De Jong opened the scoring for Sevilla in the eighth minute, but Barca star Coutinho restored parity just two minutes later.

Barca and Sevilla both have seven points from their opening three matches, three points adrift of leaders and champions Real Madrid.

"It was a difficult game," Koeman said. "They pressed us well. Our problem was that our play with the ball wasn't how we would like.

"They play good football, they press well and physically they're stronger than us. They're a top team.

"I think we played well, but we lost the ball a lot in the second half, so it's difficult to get into a rhythm in the game.

"I'm happy with the team's performance. The team was tired, but we fought until the end. But [we played against] a great opponent."

Antoine Griezmann produced another underwhelming display and he was the first player withdrawn by Koeman just past the hour-mark, like he was against Celta.

"The change the other day [against Celta Vigo] was tactical," Koeman added. "With Ansu [Fati] we had more penetration and pace - something we needed in Vigo with 10 men.

"Today, [Griezmann] had two opportunities [to score] and, for a player of his quality, he should've scored either of those two chances."

Life under Ronald Koeman got off to a solid start with successive wins over Villarreal and at Celta Vigo, where they historically struggle, but Sunday's visit of Sevilla posed their first real test of the season.

Ultimately Barca had to make do with a 1-1 draw, though it is fair to say it could have been worse on a different day as Sevilla looked every inch a side potentially capable of giving the Blaugrana and LaLiga champions Real Madrid a run for their money this term.

Julen Lopetegui's Sevilla were physical, tidy in possession and mostly water-tight defensively – arguably the only part of their game that could have improved was their accuracy in front of goal, as just one of their 13 shots hit the target.

But while the point is a good one for Sevilla, it accentuates how underwhelming Barca were. After all, before Sunday, Los Nervionenses had conceded at least twice on each of their past eight LaLiga trips to Camp Nou and the last time they avoided defeat there was October 2011.

Regardless of who they play against Lionel Messi is usually the man to unlock the door, but against Sevilla he boasts a particularly impressive record, having put 29 past them in LaLiga to make them his favoured opposition.

He could not find a way this time, however.

Messi kept quiet

Let's not get carried away – Messi was by no means bad here, but this was Barca's first major test in their brave new world, a chance to really put a marker down against a team that impressed en route to Europa League success, produced a spirited performance against Bayern Munich in last month's UEFA Super Cup and have been tipped to potentially mount a title challenge.

But while Messi regularly has a telling impact against Sevilla, it's fair to suggest the visitors did well against him on Sunday.

His haul of three shots included only one on target, which was a fairly routine save for Yassine Bounou, while Messi's final effort was a rather hopeless long-range effort late on that sailed well over.

Similarly, of his two key passes only one of them was notable, as he slipped in Francisco Trincao for a chance in stoppage time – Bounou again making the save.

Messi's sympathisers would correctly point out that he did play the ball that led to Philippe Coutinho's equaliser, though his pass was actually meant for Ansu Fati and was cut out by Jesus Navas. It only brought the leveller because of an unfortunate touch by Sevilla's captain.

Barca's talisman saw plenty of the ball, as he had 85 touches, but the killer ball was generally lacking – can the blame be laid at Messi's feet, though?

Supporting cast fail to convince

There is certainly a lot of attacking ability at Koeman's disposal, but whether they can all work in tandem is another matter.

The front four who started here (that's Messi, Fati, Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann) only played three key passes between them (Messi with two, Fati with one), while the six-time Ballon d'Or winner was the only one to attempt more than two shots.

Griezmann and Fati had two apiece and Coutinho had one.

The Griezmann conundrum in particular continues to puzzle. He had only 21 touches of the ball in his 61 minutes on the pitch – Trincao had five more after he was brought on at that point. While they may have been occupying slightly different positions, it doesn't speak much to the Frenchman's desire to get involved.

Similarly with Coutinho, it's difficult to see what he added beyond the goal, which was gifted to him.

The Brazilian delivered one good cross, but that was about the only other thing he mustered before his 75th-minute withdrawal, while Fati was hooked at the same time as Griezmann.

Much was made of the teenager's duel with Navas, a childhood idol of his from when he was in the Sevilla academy, but the experienced converted right-back undoubtedly came out on top.

Sevilla prove their credentials

There was plenty to like about Sevilla's display here. Prior to Sunday, Lopetegui had lost by four goals in each of his two previous visits to Camp Nou as a coach, but this time around he might consider himself unlucky not to win.

Luuk de Jong's early opener was a just reward for a bright start, but it was wiped out by a rare miscalculation by the usually dependable Navas.

Nevertheless, it was Sevilla who went closest to the winner when Ronald Araujo deflected a cross on to his own crossbar in the second half.

Navas, perhaps spurred on by the desire to atone for his earlier error, was a nuisance on the right and created a match-high four chances, while his partner on that flank – Suso – was a threat too, making three key passes.

But the strongest area of their team is undoubtedly at the back, where they are blessed with some real competitors.

Diego Carlos was especially impressive, popping up with three clearances and as many tackles – one of each came in a crucial late incident as he made a brilliant last-ditch tackle on Messi, before hacking clear while off balance.

The experienced Fernando proved an effective defensive screen as well – three interceptions, three clearances and a couple of tackles highlighted his value as an extra body when under the cosh. He was also assuring in possession, finding a team-mate with 94 per cent of his 50 passes.

With Sevilla seemingly managing to keep hold of Diego Carlos and Jules Kounde, and Atletico Madrid reverting to their dull natural state since beating Granada 6-1, Lopetegui's side appear best-placed to cause an upset in LaLiga this term – Sunday's solid display will only increase that belief.

Barcelona had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Sevilla despite Philippe Coutinho quickly cancelling out Luuk de Jong's early opener in Sunday's LaLiga clash. 

The two sides entered the match with 100 per cent records from their opening two league matches this term, and there was little to separate them at Camp Nou. 

Sevilla opened the scoring inside eight minutes when De Jong thumped the ball past Neto - the first goal Barca have conceded this season - but Coutinho profited from Jesus Navas' error 105 seconds later to level things up. 

Ronald Koeman's men were put under a lot of pressure in the second half and survived a scare as Ronald Araujo hit his own crossbar, but in the end the contest finished level. 

Sevilla, now winless in 18 LaLiga trips to Barcelona, had gone ahead through De Jong's strike after Suso's left-sided cross was headed down into the forward's path. 

Coutinho responded instantly for Barca with a simple finish after Navas inadvertently set him up, having attempted to cut out Lionel Messi's pass to Jordi Alba. 

Antoine Griezmann prodded wide from a promising opportunity and Ansu Fati, beaten too easily in the build-up to the visitors' opener, tested Yassine Bounou from further out. 

After Diego Carlos nearly scored an own goal, Araujo - filling in for the suspended Clement Lenglet in defence - did likewise at the other end, diverting a low cross against the bar. 

Jules Kounde twice sent headers wide and Youssef En-Nesyri perhaps could have done better with a headed opportunity of his own, as Sevilla looked for the rarest of wins in this fixture.

The hosts also had a late chance, yet Trincao, brought on in place of Griezmann, was unable to get the better of Bounou when racing through on goal.

What does it mean? Winning runs come to an end 

Barcelona beat Villarreal and Celta Vigo without conceding in their first two matches of the Koeman era, though this was always going to be their toughest test yet. 

That proved to be the case, with an in-form Sevilla - unbeaten inside 90 minutes since February - holding their own in terms of possession and edging the shot count (13 to 12). 

Kounde involved at both ends 

It is easy to see why the Sevilla defender is so highly coveted by teams around Europe. 

He completed more passes (77) than any player on the pitch and did not concede a single foul. Perhaps more impressively, considering Messi was on the field, nobody bettered his three attempts. 

Navas gifts equaliser to Coutinho 

The versatile full-back claimed an assist in Sevilla's first two league games and he set up another goal here - albeit for the opposition. 

At full stretch in an attempt to intercept a searching Messi pass towards Alba, Jesus knocked the ball into Coutinho's path and the Barca playmaker had an easy finish. 

What's next? 

Barcelona travel to Getafe in their first LaLiga game back after the international break, while Sevilla are away to Granada. 

Memphis Depay remains Barcelona's preferred transfer option, while Manchester United want Jadon Sancho and Alex Telles in this window.

LaLiga giants Barca have been linked with numerous attackers as they rebuild under Ronald Koeman.

Depay has seemingly been the favourite to join, and it appears nothing has changed.

 

TOP STORY – DEPAY THE FAVOURITE TO JOIN BARCELONA

Depay is in pole position to join Barcelona from Lyon, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The report says Depay, 26, fits the profile and salary expectations at Barca.

Depay and Koeman worked together while the latter was in charge of the Netherlands between 2018 and 2020.

ROUND-UP

- United are still hoping for two signings this transfer window. The Sun says the Red Devils are looking to land Borussia Dortmund star Sancho and Porto left-back Telles .

- Arsenal could be close to strengthening by signing Houssem Aouar . Telefoot says the attacker has agreed to join the club, with Lyon and Arsenal set for talks over a fee.

- As they continue their search for a defender, Manchester City may be close to making a decision. Goal reports the Premier League club are in talks with Benfica over Ruben Dias , in a deal that could see Nicolas Otamendi  go the other way. Meanwhile, ESPN says Sevilla are expecting an improved bid from City for Jules Kounde after an initial £50.2million (€55m) offer was rejected.

- Chelsea may not be done spending just yet. The Mirror reports they want to make another move for West Ham midfielder Declan Rice , and it could lead to Jorginho joining Arsenal .

- Sergino Dest is expected to join Barcelona and Guillem Balague claims the Ajax right-back should officially join them next week. Barcelona sold Nelson Semedo to Wolves this week.

- Could there be late movement in the transfer window for Tottenham ? The Sun reports Spurs are in talks to sign Inter defender Milan Skriniar and are prepared to pay between £25m (€27.4m) and £30m (€32.9m), which is well below Inter's valuation.

UEFA has expressed its delight at the smooth running of Thursday's Super Cup between Bayern Munich and Sevilla, as fans were welcomed back to a major European match for the first time since March.

Sporting events across the world have largely been played behind closed doors since the coronavirus pandemic initially brought most events to a halt six months ago.

As countries began to take control of the virus, various governing bodies around Europe started to plan for fans to return in reduced capacity, with France already allowing small numbers back.

Despite Thursday's Super Cup between Champions League winners Bayern and Europa League holders Sevilla coming as much of Europe began to re-tighten social restrictions ahead of a second wave of COVID-19, UEFA used the event in Budapest, Hungary as a 'pilot' for re-opening stadiums.

The 67,000-seater Puskas Arena had 15,500 people in attendance for Bayern's 2-1 extra-time win, with fans expected to maintain a five-foot distance from each other where possible and ordered to wear masks when moving around the stadium. UEFA also installed thermal cameras at entrances to check body temperatures.

UEFA believes the event ran according to plan with respect to the health and sanitary measures, and it plans to review the organisational aspects with Hungarian Football Federation.

"The match organisation went smoothly," a UEFA spokesperson said.

"Spectators accepted the precautionary measures and followed the sanitary guidelines and instructions provided by the stewards.

"UEFA will now thoroughly assess the various aspects of the organisation together with the Hungarian Football Federation and the local authorities.

"We were delighted to again feel a true football atmosphere and it once again demonstrates that the fans are the lifeblood of the game and that football is so great thanks to their passion and support."

Pep Guardiola seems desperate to reinforce his centre-back options before the transfer deadline early next month, and it appears his primary targets are Ruben Dias of Benfica and Sevilla's Jules Kounde.

Media reports on Friday suggested that City have offered approximately €55million, plus Nicolas Otamendi, for Dias having apparently had a similar offer turned down for Kounde last week.

Sevilla sporting director Monchi confirmed the club had received an offer for the talented Frenchman, though he did not reveal the club that bid – which was rejected – came from.

City had previously seemed focused on Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly, while Kounde's partner at Sevilla, Diego Carlos, was also said to have been considered.

But with no progress on those deals, City have identified younger options, with Dias 23 years old and Kounde not due to turn 22 for another two months.

With Dias and Kounde looking the likeliest to bolster Guardiola's defensive ranks, we used Opta data to compare the two players.

Adapting to City's style

Given he is a year-and-a-half older than Kounde, it's fair to suggest Dias is slightly further ahead in his development than Kounde, while he is also playing for one of the top teams in a less competitive league than LaLiga.

But there is a lot to like about the Portugal international's game and he does look well-suited to City's possession-based style of play.

He completed 1,934 of his 2,184 passes last term, and though that statistic in isolation doesn't prove a huge amount – many will have been simple and under no pressure – it does show he is used to seeing a lot of the ball.

Of those, 927 were in the opposing half and 81 per cent found a team-mate, whereas Kounde attempted 491 in the attacking half and completed 76.6 per cent.

It's a similar story with regards to passes ending in the final third, where play is likely to be more congested. Dias made 364 passes into such an area and was accurate 68.4 per cent of the time, while Kounde found a team-mate in the attacking third with 66.3 per cent accuracy from 160 passes.

As a base for comparison, City's current centre-backs are reflected much better by the data in this area – Otamendi's passing accuracy in the opposing half is 87.9 per cent, Aymeric Laporte's is 90 per cent, while in the final third their respective figures are 76.8 per cent and 84.6 per cent.

With respect to Kounde, it is worth bearing in mind that Sevilla play far more direct than either of the other two teams in question. They played 2,594 long balls in the league last term, while City registered 1,978 and Benfica attempted 1,581.

Where Kounde does come out on top, however, thus proving his ability on the ball and ease at bringing it out from the back, is the fact he attempted 22 dribbles and completed 81.2 per cent of them – of the defenders (that's centre-backs and full-backs) in LaLiga to try 20 or more dribbles, only one had a better success rate.

Dependable defenders?

As possession-oriented as City are, even a team like that has to do a bit of defending now and again – and although they only conceded two more goals than Liverpool in 2019-20, it was widely felt the centre of defence was their biggest issue.

Otamendi proved unreliable, Fernandinho isn't a natural centre-back, John Stones was unconvincing when fit and Laporte – undoubtedly their best option – missed a chunk of the season with an ACL injury.

The hole left by Laporte and Vincent Kompany's departure to Anderlecht was gaping and resulted in City looking flimsy, particularly when put under pressure – seven of their nine defeats were away from home.

Dependable, hard-working centre-backs capable of playing with the ball at their feet are seemingly what Guardiola is after, and both Dias and Kounde proved to be just that for their respective teams.

Kounde was a standout performer as recently as Thursday for Sevilla, impressing in spite of a 2-1 UEFA Super Cup defeat to Bayern Munich. He made three tackles and nine clearances, also winning each of his six aerial duels.

In a straight comparison between Dias and Kounde with regards to standard defensive metrics, the former does generally come out on top, as he won possession back more times (175 to 108) than the Frenchman, and bested him in terms of interceptions (30 to 23), overall clearances (101 to 88), tackles (44 to 23) and duels (254 to 229).

But Kounde, though less of a domineering physical specimen than Dias in appearance, does tend to be more effective aerially, suggesting his stats against Bayern were no fluke.

Despite playing four fewer matches than Dias, he made more headed clearances (56 to 50), engaged in a greater number of aerial duels (149 to 141) and won more as well (94 to 86).

The verdict

Both players fit the general mould of centre-backs that Guardiola likes, but to suggest either is the finished article or a world-class player yet would be premature.

Kounde did very well in his first season in LaLiga, but he only truly found consistency in his performances at the start of 2020 – a talent, certainly, with his ceiling seemingly very high, but prising him away could cost City well over £60m.

Dias appears the easier to sign given he will likely be slightly cheaper than Kounde, while in most cases in this statistical comparison, he has the edge.

But, with Victor Lindelof impressing for Benfica but struggling to convince with Manchester United, City may want to take note of a warning from across town.

It is Monday September 28, 1992, and Sevilla's Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan is the location of a media circus rarely seen before or since in the stadium. Bavarian giants Bayern Munich are in town for a hastily arranged friendly.

Aside from the two teams' meeting in the UEFA Super Cup on Thursday and a Champions League quarter-final tie in 2018, this friendly 28 years ago is the only previous occasion in which Sevilla faced their illustrious German visitors.

Yet, Bayern were not the focus of the media attention. No, they were there for the first game of Diego Maradona's return to Spain.

The world's most renowned footballer - formerly of Barcelona - was barely given enough space to take part in the coin toss such was the scrum around him, with microphones and cameras shoved towards his face with little regard by voracious reporters.

 

STILL THE BEST

Maradona, wearing the captain's armband, was making his comeback from a 15-month ban for cocaine use which ultimately ended his love affair with Napoli.

From midfield, the 31-year-old dictated the tempo and stretched Bayern's defence with his imaginative passing. He, Diego Simeone and Rafa Paz combined excellently in the middle, while an understanding with a young Davor Suker showed evidence of promise.

Maradona forced goalkeeper Raimond Aumann into a smart early save before hitting the crossbar with an audacious free-kick from near the corner flag.

Out of shape, unfit and without competitive football in over a year, Maradona was still the best player on the pitch, setting up Suker before also playing a key role in one of Monchu's goals. Sevilla won 3-1.

His weight was mocked by a banner depicting a Maradona caricature whose belly could not be contained by his jersey, but, his "cosmic barrel" physique aside, this was the same player who had astonished with Napoli and Argentina.

 

REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD

His move to Andalusia meant a reunion with Argentina's 1986 World Cup-winning coach – and close friend – Carlos Bilardo.

Bilardo called the signing a "gift", while Maradona said his "happiness is complete" upon arrival at Seville's San Pablo airport in a striking cerise suit – "I looked a treat," he concluded about his fashion sense.

Having lost Ivan Zamorano to Real Madrid, Sevilla president Luis Cuervas and vice-president Jose Maria del Nido will have been looking on, certain they had pulled off a masterstroke by getting Maradona in as a replacement, reportedly boosting season ticket subscriptions from 26,000 to 40,000.

His performances continued to excite in competitive games and he enjoyed what many consider to be his best display in Spain during an ill-tempered 2-0 win over Real Madrid on December 19.

Madrid, complete with the likes of Manolo Sanchis, Fernando Hierro, Michel and Luis Enrique, simply had no answer as Maradona ran the show. Everything was going as well as it could have, until things – somewhat inevitably – turned ugly in the second half of the season.

 

THE FALLOUT

A dispute over El Diego's juggling of international and club commitments saw the two parties at loggerheads, but things got out of control late in the campaign.

After being given painkilling injections against his will for a persistent injury caused by receiving a kick from an angry Venezuela fan in 1985, Maradona was withdrawn by Bilardo early in the second half of a 1-1 draw with Real Burgos and he blew his top.

"Bilardo, you m***********," he claimed to yell in his coach's direction, with the pair coming to blows a day later, as detailed in the troubled star's autobiography.

What made the situation worse for Maradona was Sevilla's chiefs revealed to him just a few days earlier their plan to offer him a player-coach role after ditching Bilardo. They received a stern refusal in reply, with El Diego not about to betray his friend, but he ultimately felt as though such loyalty was not reciprocated.

Everyone wanted out of the marriage, and Del Nido's public comments about Maradona's fitness proved the final straw.

"That's probably why that w***** Del Nido dared to say I wasn't even fit enough to play table tennis; to make me leave," Maradona wrote in his autobiography. "He knew I wouldn't put up with that kind of stuff. And that's how it happened, that was how my story with Sevilla ended. Badly."

Maradona then missed out on £625,000 worth of unpaid wages as Sevilla withheld payment because he had "not met obligations to the club", bringing a bitter close to a chapter which had promised so much on a thrilling evening against Bayern.

Julen Lopetegui believes there has not been a European side as dominant as Bayern Munich in some time, as his Sevilla team prepare to face the Champions League winners.

Bayern – under the tutelage of Hansi Flick – won the treble last season.

The Bundesliga giants appeared to have stagnated under previous boss Niko Kovac, but have thrived since Flick took charge.

Sevilla, meanwhile, finished in LaLiga's top four and capped off their season with yet another Europa League triumph – a record sixth triumph in the competition.

Though Lopetegui hailed Flick's all-conquering side, he believes Sevilla have what it takes to challenge Bayern in Thursday's UEFA Super Cup contest in Budapest.

"A team like this has not appeared in Europe for many years," Lopetegui told a news conference.

"Bayern have a coach who deserves a lot of credit for the way he has led the team and has given a strong identity.

"It is very difficult to do what he has done because they know exactly how they want to play, how they want to attack, where they are going to defend.

"We come to this game with high hopes. We have a real desire and we are excited to compete again. Playing against this team has to motivate us and make us grow.

"We are going to need the best physical, mental and collective characteristics of the whole team to be able to beat Bayern.

"We will try to get them to give their best version and face the game in the best possible way."

While Sevilla are yet to start their LaLiga campaign, Bayern kicked off their Bundesliga season with an 8-0 demolition of Schalke on Friday.

Sevilla sporting director Monchi confirmed they have rejected an offer for Jules Kounde and does not believe the defender has reached an agreement with Manchester City.

Kounde has been heavily linked with City as Pep Guardiola looks to strengthen his backline.

The France Under-21 international joined Sevilla from Bordeaux last July and enjoyed a stellar first season with the club.

He played 40 times in all competitions, including nine games of Sevilla's victorious Europa League campaign, scoring twice.

Asked about Kounde at the presentation of Marcos Acuna, Monchi replied: "It is true that we have received the interest of a club for Jules, that club has transmitted an offer to us that has been valued and has been rejected.

"If they make another offer, we will listen to them again and we will answer but only we can choose when we will answer them.

"I doubt very much that Kounde has reached an agreement with City, because he has a contract with Sevilla. I already tell you that Kounde has not reached an agreement with Manchester City."

Sevilla will face Bayern Munich in the UEFA Super Cup on Thursday and Monchi expects Kounde to be firmly focused on that clash.

"Knowing Kounde, I am sure he thinks more about Bayern players than other things," he added.

"We have a business model that has brought us 20 finals to this city, 10 titles. My recommendation to the steering committee is that we don't change it. 

"We have done very, very, very, very, very well, I see no reason to change it. 

"We have the possibility to say no to an offer that multiplies by more than two and a half the price of a player that everyone said was expensive. 

"If we have said no, it is because we can say no. But, I repeat, our model is very clear and that model has made us win 10 titles and play 20 finals."

Will Manchester City finally land Kalidou Koulibaly?

Pep Guardiola's City want defensive reinforcements and Napoli centre-back Koulibaly is reportedly at the top of the list.

If they are unsuccessful, Sevilla's Jules Kounde is next on the list.

 

TOP STORY – CITY NOT GIVING UP KOULIBALY

Manchester City are still in talks with Napoli to sign star defender Kalidou Koulibaly, according to journalist Fabrizio Romano.

City have been tipped to sign Koulibaly, who has also been linked to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

However, City are yet to reach an agreement with Napoli and Sevilla's Jules Kounde is the "backup option" but a bid has already been turned down.

 

ROUND-UP

- Romano says Wolves will complete the signing of Barcelona full-back Nelson Semedo on Monday. It comes as Barca eye Ajax defender Sergino Dest or Real Betis' Emerson to replace Semedo. Norwich City's Max Aarons has also been linked.

Milan have made Fiorentina's Nikola Milenkovic their number one defensive target ahead of Celtic centre-back Kristoffer Ajer, reports the Daily Record.

- Calciomercato claims Juventus are eyeing Real Madrid full-back Marcelo. The Brazilian has been repeatedly linked with a Cristiano Ronaldo reunion in Turin.

- The Telegraph says PSG are interested in Tottenham's Dele Alli. Out of favour under Jose Mourinho, Spurs are reportedly targeting Manchester United's Jesse Lingard as a replacement.

Roma remain interested in Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik but Madrid outcast Luka Jovic has emerged as 'Plan B', according to Calciomercato.

Leeds United are out of the race to sign Dinamo Zagreb sensation Josko Gvardiol, reports Romano. Wanted by Marcelo Bielsa, the Croatian teenager is now set for Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig.

Liverpool and Wolves could be involved in another deal, while Arsenal's shortlist reportedly includes four players.

Premier League champions Liverpool confirmed the signing of Diogo Jota from Wolves on Saturday, with Ki-Jana Hoever heading in the opposite direction.

But the business between the clubs may not end there.

 

TOP STORY – WOLVES TARGET OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN

Wolves are eyeing a move for Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, according to the Mirror.

The report comes after Liverpool signed star midfielder Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich earlier this week.

Oxlade-Chamberlain arrived at Anfield from Arsenal in 2017, and made 43 appearances in all competitions in 2019-20.

ROUND-UP

- Arsenal could strengthen further. The Express reports the Premier League club have Lyon star Houssem Aouar, Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey, Dijon goalkeeper Runar Alex Runarsson and Brentford shot-stopper David Raya on their shortlist.

- Staying in the Premier League and Goal reports Atletico Madrid attacker Thomas Lemar has interest from two clubs in England's top flight. Arsenal, Wolves and Everton have been linked with Lemar previously.

- Manchester City are reportedly close to signing a centre-back. AS reports the Premier League giants are close to sealing a deal for Sevilla's Jules Kounde, a 21-year-old who is a France youth international.

- Arturo Vidal is finally set to get his move to Inter. Fabrizio Romano reports Inter have agreed a €1million fee with Barcelona for the midfielder, while he also says veteran defender Diego Godin will join Cagliari next week.

- After almost signing Daniel James in 2019, Leeds United could be set for another move for the attacker. The Sun reports Leeds are planning a move for James, who joined Manchester United in 2019.

- Staying at Old Trafford and another exit is expected. The Sun says the Red Devils are looking for a new club for Sergio Romero with the goalkeeper upset about missing last month's Europa League semi-final loss to Sevilla.

Liverpool's transfer activity is ramping up.

After securing the services of Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara, Diogo Jota is reportedly next on the list.

Could there be more arrivals?

 

TOP STORY – JOTA LIVERPOOL BOUND

Premier League champions Liverpool are set to complete the signing of Wolves star Diogo Jota, according to Goal.

Liverpool announced the arrival of Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich on Friday as they look to retain their Premier League crown in 2020-21.

Now, Jurgen Klopp's men are poised to bring former Atletico Madrid forward Jota to Anfield amid widespread speculation.

 

ROUND-UP

- RMC claims Porto full-back Alex Telles has agreed terms with Manchester United over a five-year deal. However, Paris Saint-Germain are also considering a move for the 27-year-old Brazilian following Juan Bernat's knee injury.

- Liverpool have enquired about Schalke star Ozan Kabak, reports Chris Williams. Bundesliga strugglers Schalke are reluctant to sell the 20-year-old centre-back.

Atletico Madrid are finalising a deal for Bayern Munich utility Javier Martinez, says Marca. Martinez played for Athletic Bilbao before joining Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern in 2012.

- The Daily Mail claims Manchester City are eyeing Sevilla defender Jules Kounde as an alternative to Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly. Pep Guardiola's City have been tipped to sign Koulibaly, though they have struggled to find an agreement with Napoli as PSG reportedly circle.

Milan have overtaken Barcelona in the race to sign Lyon captain Memphis Depay, according to Sky Italia. Tipped to reunite with former Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman at Barca, Depay could now join Milan in a swap deal involving Lucas Paqueta.

- The front page of Saturday's Mundo Deportivo says Barca are looking to sell Nelson Semedo to fund new arrivals, with Ajax sensation and Bayern target Sergino Dest, City defender Eric Garcia and Depay wanted.

- Goal confirmed Juventus are working to bring Everton forward Moise Kean back to Turin in addition to signing Roma's Edin Dzeko. Juve are interested in a loan deal, though Everton are asking for a permanent transfer or loan with an obligation to buy.

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