Louis van Gaal has announced he is receiving treatment for prostate cancer.

Speaking on Dutch TV show Humberto, the Netherlands head coach said he had been battling the disease for some time and has undergone 25 rounds of radiation treatment.

Van Gaal, 70, oversaw two international friendlies with the Netherlands last month, with his team beating Denmark 4-2 and drawing 1-1 with Germany.

The former Manchester United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Ajax boss said he kept his diagnosis hidden from his players, and revealed he was snuck into hospital to undergo private treatment during the international break.

Van Gaal told presenter Humberto Tan he had wanted his players, who have qualified for the World Cup, to stay focused on their task in hand.

"You don't die from prostate cancer, at least not in 90 per cent of the cases," he said.

"It is usually other underlying diseases that kill you. But I had a pretty aggressive form, got irradiated 25 times. Then you have a lot of management to do in order to go through life.

"I did have preferential treatment in the hospital. I was allowed in through the back door when I went to an appointment and was immediately pushed into another room. I have been treated wonderfully.

"You will of course tell your friends and relatives about it. The fact that nothing has come out yet also says something about my environment. That's great."

Chelsea's midfield targets in the upcoming transfer window have left a potential opening for Real Madrid in pursuit of N'Golo Kante.

The France international reportedly knocked back a move to Paris Saint-Germain in the January window, but midfield rejuvenation is a priority for Madrid.

While Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos have been mainstays in the middle at the Santiago Bernabeu, Kante would bring new energy to the Spanish giants.

TOP STORY – KANTE LINED UP AS REAL MADRID SOLUTION

The transfer market domino effect could lead Kante to Madrid, AS has reported.

While both Madrid and Chelsea are in the race to sign Aurelien Tchouameni, the Blues also have an interest in Declan Rice, which could open up the possibility of Kante leaving.

The 31-year-old is coming into the final year of his contract, leaving Madrid with potential leverage to force Chelsea's hand.

While Kante has seen extensive time on the sidelines this season, missing game time through a combination of COVID-19, groin and knee troubles, he could be Madrid's top target if they fail to land Tchouameni.

ROUND-UP

– Barcelona are keen to sign 30-year-old Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season, Sport reports.

– Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is confident the club will be able to keep Antonio Rudiger alongside Cesar Azpilicueta, who triggered a contract extension, per Goal.

– Bild is reporting Bayern Munich have commenced talks over a new deal for Thomas Muller, with his contract expiring at the end of next season.

– Erik ten Hag is the favourite to become the new Manchester United manager, with the Ajax coach seeing a move to the Premier League as a progression in his career, according to Sport1.

Ralf Rangnick has responded to Louis van Gaal's criticism of Manchester United as a "commercial club", claiming football as a whole "is a commercialised business".

Former United manager Van Gaal this week warned Ajax coach Erik ten Hag, a candidate for the top job at Old Trafford, against joining the club.

"Man United is a commercial club," said Van Gaal, adding: "He should choose a football club, not a commercial club."

But Ten Hag subsequently described United as "a great club with great fans" – an assessment more in line with Rangnick's thoughts.

The interim boss, who will step aside at the end of the season, responded on Friday to Van Gaal's suggestion United were any different from their rivals in their approach.

"Louis himself as an experienced coach signed a contract here some five or six years ago, and he could have known that in advance if he had that opinion," Rangnick said.

"I think football worldwide and even more so in the English Premier League – when any rich person or company can buy a club, as long as they pass the fit and proper person test – is a commercialised business, that's for sure. No matter which club in which city.

"What I can only tell you from the last four months is that this is a club with a big tradition with a close relationship with the supporters and to the whole city, region and area.

"For me, it's a great club, and if the club draws the right conclusions on what's happened in the last couple of years... Yes, the last couple of years have not been as good as expected, but if they draw the right conclusions, I still see a very bright future for this club."

Pep Guardiola is unsure if Erik ten Hag would be a success at Manchester United, but has no doubt over the Ajax coach's quality.

Ten Hag is being heavily linked with a move to United to replace Ralf Rangnick, once the German leaves his interim role at the end of the season.

According to reports, Ten Hag held talks with United in recent weeks, and he did not deny that speculation in an interview with Germany's Sport1.

The 52-year-old reaffirmed that his full focus as it stands is on Ajax, though called United "a great club with great fans" and that he did not "want to rule anything out."

Manchester City manager Guardiola worked at Bayern at the same time as Ten Hag was in charge of the club's second team, and believes the Dutchman has all of the quality to succeed in the Premier League.

However, Guardiola stressed that many quality managers have come and gone at United since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

"I don't know. Nobody knows. If I were 100 per cent sure, I would call Man United, and I would tell the guys they have to take him, but I don't know," Guardiola told a news conference ahead of City's clash with Burnley on Saturday.

"So nobody knows. When I arrived here I didn't know [the league], nobody knows. He'd try and he's a good manager, there's no doubt of it. But, in the past, the previous managers since Alex [Ferguson] left.

"We can't say that David Moyes is not a proper manager. Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, you know, or right now [Ralf Rangnick]. So I think all the managers who have been at United are excellent. We cannot deny that. "

Guardiola does believe that Ten Hag has proved his quality across a successful spell with Ajax, though, which has so far included two league and cup doubles in the Netherlands and a run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018-19.

"He was, I think, one season with the second team for Bayern [Munich], we spoke quite regularly," Guardiola said.

"He's an incredible person, human being. I was surprised how humble and good [he is]. About his qualities... just take a look at his Ajax in the last years. [They've been] a joy to watch in many, many things.

"Not just the year they got to the [Champions League] semi-final, if it weren't for little details they would have reached the final. The game they played against Benfica [this season] at home was exceptional but football is like this.

"In terms of quality just take a look at his teams. To define a manager you have to watch his teams for a long time and say, 'okay, this is the team and this manager makes them play this play'. There's no doubt about that.

"The relationship we had was incredibly good. When we chat about football in the second team, the players, whatever, it always was exceptionally good."

Erik ten Hag said it would be "normal" if he has already held talks about becoming Manchester United's next manager.

The Ajax boss did not confirm whether discussions have taken place, and stressed he would wait until the end of the season before declaring his intentions.

But the 52-year-old appeared to give a strong hint his future could lie at Old Trafford, and said he hoped Ajax would understand if he elects to leave a year ahead of his contract expiring.

In an interview with Germany's Sport1, Ten Hag was asked about reports he has already spoken to United about the vacancy that will materialise when interim manager Ralf Rangnick steps aside.

"Everyone knows each other in the industry. There are always talks with representatives from other clubs, that's normal," Ten Hag said.

"Manchester United is a great club with great fans. But I can only repeat myself: My full focus is completely on Ajax. We are already planning for the new season."

Ten Hag has stuck by the line that his immediate attention must be on the present, with Ajax in a battle with PSV for Dutch league and cup glory.

"But in football you never know," he said. "I don't want to rule anything out."

He said outside interest would be "a distraction", adding: "If at some point I should decide to take the next step, I hope that people here will understand."

Ajax will hope to retain the coach who joined in December 2017 and helped the team reach the 2019 Champions League semi-finals, landing the Eredivisie league title in the same year and also in the 2020-21 campaign.

"I've sat down with Ajax after every season so far," Ten Hag said. "That will also be the case this time. I can say that Ajax and Erik ten Hag are very happy with each other at the moment."

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino is reported to be the other main contender for the United job, with the incoming boss set to take charge of a team that last won silverware in the 2016-17 season, when they landed the EFL Cup and Europa League titles.

United sit sixth in the Premier League heading into the weekend, four points behind fourth-placed Arsenal who have played one fewer game, and a major squad overhaul likely awaits the next manager.

Ten Hag's Ajax are top by two points from PSV in the Eredivisie, and the title rivals also meet in the final of the KNVB-Beker on April 17.

Despite inking a new sponsorship deal with Spotify, improving on Barcelona's rejuvenation under Xavi will not force the club to spend unsustainably.

Xavi's side have made positive strides, finding form and re-establishing the club's identity, creating scope for Barcelona to become a destination for players.

The front three seems likely to transform under Xavi coming into next season, with the respective statuses of Memphis Depay, Ousmane Dembele, Adama Traore and Antoine Griezmann uncertain. However, the question of cost lingers.

TOP STORY – BARCELONA RENEW RAPHINHA OFFER

Barcelona's interest in Raphinha is being translated into offers for the Brazilian winger, but Sport reports the Premier League do not at present have a financial need to sell.

According to the Barcelona sports daily, Leeds turned down an initial offer of €35million (£30m), prompting the Blaugrana to increase to €40million (£34m) plus €10m (£8m) in options.

If Leeds suffer relegation, however, the release clause for the 25-year-old would be reduced to €25m (£21m).

It is also reported Barca would not necessarily be in a hurry, with Leeds currently 16th in the Premier League, while they could lean on Raphinha's agent and former Champions League winner, Deco.

ROUND-UP

– Paul Pogba will need to take a significant pay cut if he wants to join Juventus from Manchester United, per Calciomercato.

Real Madrid have identified Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham , despite his links with a move to Liverpool, according to reports in Bild.

– The Times have reported Brentford want to extend the six-month deal for 30-year-old Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen.

– If Erik ten Hag takes over as Manchester United manager, he is keen on signing Brazilian winger Antony from Ajax, per The Telegraph.

Former Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has warned compatriot Erik ten Hag against taking the managerial reigns at Old Trafford this summer.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of his Netherlands team's friendly against Germany, Van Gaal said the in-demand Ajax coach "should choose a football club, not a commercial club."

Van Gaal spent two years in the Old Trafford dugout between 2014 and 2016, bringing the club their first major trophy since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement when he led them to the FA Cup in 2016.

With the Red Devils' interim boss Ralf Rangnick widely expected to vacate the post to focus on a consultancy role with the club after an underwhelming season, Van Gaal has warned Ten Hag, considered one of the front runners for the job, against making the move to Manchester. 

The United hierarchy have been reported as having already made contact with the Ajax boss, but his compatriot, though calling Ten Hag a "great coach", believes the move would not be the best for his career.

"I think Ten Hag is a great coach; I said that multiple times," Van Gaal said.

"A great coach is good for Man United. But Man United is a commercial club. 

"Those are difficult choices for a coach. As a coach, you should prefer a football club.

"I won't accompany his career. If he wants that, he will call me. We have conversations with each other.

"He should choose a football club, not a commercial club."

Van Gaal was an outspoken critic of United's commercial activities during his time with the club, lamenting the physical effects of a pre-season tour during his first summer in charge in 2014.

 

Ten Hag has won 153 of his 207 games in charge of the Amsterdam giants in all competitions, but last month's Champions League exit to Benfica was a disappointment, and meant Ajax have failed to win any of their last nine home knockout games in Europe's premier club competition.

Manchester United legend Gary Neville has said he expects an announcement on the club's new manager shortly, with the side facing the prospect of missing out on Champions League football after a frustrating campaign.

The Red Devils have lost two of their last three games under Rangnick in all competitions, having lost just one of their previous 20 matches.

Their recent eliminations from the Champions League and FA Cup, meanwhile, mean United are guaranteed to go five consecutive seasons without lifting a major trophy, with 2017's Europa League triumph under Jose Mourinho representing the club's last taste of silverware.

Gary Neville believes Manchester United will make an announcement on a new manager in a "week or so" following reports the club has met with Ajax boss Erik ten Hag.

The Red Devils have been looking for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's permanent successor since appointing Ralf Rangnick in charge on an interim basis back in November.

Dutchman Ten Hag has been frequently linked to the post, alongside Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino.

Now, Neville anticipates that the club could be closing in on their preferred candidate.

"Reports [suggest] Ten Hag has been interviewed this week," the former United defender wrote on Twitter.

"If formal interviews have started and with it being such a public process I would expect a new manager announcement within a week or so."

United are hiring their third permanent manager in the space of six years, following Jose Mourinho and Solskjaer's tenures in the top job.

Since taking the reins, Rangnick has won nine of his 20 games in charge at Old Trafford, but has been unable to prevent the club from going another season empty handed.

Ajax boss Ten Hag meanwhile is on course to lead the Eredivisie outfit to a third successive league title (the 2019-20 season was voided due to the coronavirus pandemic). They have just three top-flight losses this season and lead PSV by two points in the table.

Ajax's Ryan Gravenberch has acknowledged interest from Bayern Munich, while revealing contract renegotiations have stopped.

The 19-year-old's stock has continued to rise following appearances at Euro 2020, but his contract with Ajax expires at the end of the 2022-23 season.

While in camp with the Netherlands national team, Gravenberch clarified his position with Ajax.

"Contract negotiations have now been stopped," he told NOS. "I have just one more year on my contract now and that's it, really. We'll see.

"My father and agent are very busy with that [handling his contract status] while I focus on football."

In relation to Bayern's reported interest, the midfielder admitted he was well aware.

"Yeah, of course [I've seen the Bayern interest]," he said. "You can read it everywhere, so there is interest from Bayern, but I think there are several clubs.

"I have no idea, I have no idea. But if you're worth 25million, you can be proud because it's a lot of money, of course."

Despite the rise in profile, Gravenberch was left out of a recent Dutch squad by Louis van Gaal due to a dip in club form.

After playing 90 minutes as Ajax came from behind to win 3-2 over bitter rivals Feyenoord on Sunday, it was something Gravenberch noted his disagreement on.

"A lesser phase, I don't want to see it that way. Before the winter break I didn't play very well, but after the winter it really only went up," he said.

"Then the team does well and you have to fight yourself back into the team, I just did that in the end. So I don't agree with that [from Van Gaal] so much."

Having already qualified for Qatar, the Oranje will host Denmark and Germany in Amsterdam over the upcoming international window.

Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana incredibly walked away without serious injury from a major car crash on his way to join up with the Cameroon national team on Tuesday.

Onana, who is expected to join Inter at the end of the season on a free transfer, was travelling from the capital Yaounde to the port city of Douala, where the Indomitable Lions are gathering ahead of their World Cup play-off against Algeria.

Local media showed pictures of the car in which Onana was travelling, and another vehicle, with the front part of each being badly mangled.

Onana, 25, was taken from the crash site to the Cameroon team base and posed for pictures, appearing unhurt; however, it was determined he should head for hospital check-ups.

"Andre Onana is fine," the team's official Twitter page stated. "The Indomitable Lions goalkeeper joined his team-mates in the den in Douala this morning.

"More fear than harm for the moment after the traffic accident he suffered early this morning in Sombo on the Yaounde to Douala axis.

"Andre Onana will undergo in-depth examinations in a referral hospital centre in Douala."

Cameroon will host Algeria in the first leg of their play-off on Friday, with the second leg taking place in Blida next Tuesday. The aggregate winner will qualify for the Qatar 2022 finals.

Argentine forward Paulo Dybala is set to exit Juventus at the end of this season.

As a result, the Bianconeri are assessing their options for a replacement.

Juventus are currently fourth in Serie A after an excellent run of results which have put them into the title picture.

TOP STORY – ZANIOLO FRAMED AS DYBALA REPLACEMENT 

TuttoMercato claims Juventus have set their sights on Nicolo Zaniolo as Dybala's replacement, with the Roma attacker unlikely to renew with the Giallorossi before his contract expires in 2024.

The first domino in this instance is Dybala, whose contract expires at the end of this season. Juventus have no intention of extending according to Fabrizio Romano. Romano claims the 28-year-old will not move another club in Serie A, opening up a move to long-time suitor Tottenham.

According to TuttoMercato, Juve have chosen Zaniolo as their replacement and would be ready to make a move in the upcoming transfer window. Whether they can manoeuvre to match his current market value of €40million remains to be seen, however.

ROUND-UP

- Per Sky Sports, Manchester United have narrowed their shortlist for a permanent manager down to Ajax's Erik ten Hag, Sevilla's Julen Lopetegui, Spain boss Luis Enrique and Paris Saint-Germain's Mauricio Pochettino .

- Inter have targeted Edinson Cavani as a replacement for Alexis Sanchez, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Calciomercato reports Arsenal will make a move for Arthur in the upcoming transfer window, as contract negotiations with Juventus have broken down.

- Arsenal are also keen to tie Bukayo Saka to a long-term contract, in attempts to fend off outside interest for the 20-year-old, per The Athletic.

Belgian side Royal Antwerp have appointed Marc Overmars as their new sporting director – little over a month after he departed Ajax after sending inappropriate messages to female colleagues.

Overmars left Ajax amid scandal after sending messages and photographs to several women who worked at the Dutch club – behaviour he admitted was "unacceptable".

Despite the lament that accompanied his departure from Ajax, Overmars indicated he was happy with what the new role represented.

"My departure from Ajax was very unfortunate," the 48-year-old said at his presentation. "I have to go through that and continue. I am going to do that now. I want to leave the Ajax page behind me and start a new chapter here. What happened at Ajax will not happen [here].

"The Gheysens family has convinced me of the project and where they want to go with the club. The ambitions are enormous. It is a great challenge and I see the growth potential of the city and the club."

Sven Jaecques, Antwerp's general manager, said he had not specifically consulted the club's female workers before hiring Overmars.

"Not in concrete terms, no," he said. "It is important to give people new opportunities and to turn the page. We spoke with Marc for a long time and listened to what happened and what our values are. That is a match.

"It never stands still at Antwerp. We are taking another very big step in the progress of our club."

The pressure mounted on Paris Saint-Germain again after another defeat in Ligue 1 this weekend.

The Parisians are 12 points clear at the top but have lost four of their past six games.

Lionel Messi has only netted twice in Ligue 1 since his move from Barcelona, while fellow free signing Sergio Ramos has also only played five times.

 

TOP STORY – PSG TO BLOCK MESSI OR RAMOS RETURNS

Marca reports that PSG would block any potential return to Barcelona or Real Madrid for either Messi or Ramos respectively.

The Ligue 1 giants signed both players last year from those respective clubs, yet there has been reports claiming they may want to return to Spain.

Ramos has struggled with injury while Messi has not been able to discover his best goalscoring form, but PSG are eager to hold on to them.

Messi joined on a two-year deal last August, while Ramos also penned a two-year deal last July.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bayern Munich have made an opening bid for Ajax's Ryan Gravenberch according to Fabrizio Romano. The fee is approximately €25million but Ajax want more.

- Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG and Madrid are all circling for Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni but the Ligue 1 club will not accept less than €50m for him claims Foot Mercato.

- Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti wants to sign Inter midfielder Nicolo Barella according to El Nacional. Barella's arrival could force Toni Kroos out too.

- Aston Villa are prepared to pay £60m for Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips claims The Times.

Spotify's new $235million deal with Barcelona has given the Spanish side some extra spending money, and all eyes are on Manchester United's Paul Pogba.

The Red Devils were eliminated from the Champions League by Atletico Madrid, and currently occupy fifth spot in the Premier League table in what has been a disappointing season.

Pogba recently made headlines after his home was burgled while he played in the second leg of United's tie against Atletico, coming off the bench in the 1-0 loss at Old Trafford.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA CLOSE IN ON POGBA 

According to The Daily Star, Barcelona's recent windfall has the club looking around at options to add to Xavi's side, with Pogba now considered within their price range and near the top of the list.

Pogba, 29, has nine assists and one goal in his 16 Premier League appearances this season, with his contract set to expire this summer.

Meanwhile, TuttoJuve say Manchester United have identified Dutch 19-year-old Ryan Gravenberch as a potential replacement if they can pry him away from Ajax. 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona coach Xavi has said club legend Lionel Messi will "always be welcome" back at Camp Nou. However, Marca also report that Messi does not plan to leave Paris Saint-Germain during his two-year contract.

- According to Fichajes, Newcastle United are interested in signing superstar forward Neymar, who is under contract at PSG through 2025.

- Juventus are to target a move for Manchester City's Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus, The Daily Star reports, if the English giants manage to sign Norwegian striker Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.

- La Gazzetta dello Sport suggest that Antonio Rudiger is set to join Juventus when his Chelsea contract expires this summer, signing a four-year deal with the iconic Italian club.

- Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta has agreed to a free transfer to Barcelona, with the deal expected to be completed at the end of the season according to Football Insider.

- The agent of Chelsea midfielder Jorginho said he would one day like to return to Serie A, according to The Daily Mirror. The 30-year-old Italian spent three seasons with Hellas Verona, and five seasons with Napoli before heading to the Premier League.

Ajax defender Noussair Mazraoui has rejected reports that he is on the verge of joining Barcelona, stating that he is "not even close" to agreeing a move.

Morocco international Mazraoui has impressed for Ajax in Eredivisie and the Champions League and has been touted as a target for a number of European heavyweights.

Spanish outlet Sport reported on Tuesday, the day of Ajax's Champions League exit at the hands of Benfica, that Barcelona had won the race for the right-back's signature.

But Mazraoui, who will become a free agent at the end of the campaign, has denied those claims. 

"I haven't signed anything with Barcelona yet," he told RTL7. "There's nothing concrete. I'm not even close to doing it, otherwise I'd be honest and say so."

Mazraoui has spent five years as part of Ajax's first team and has scored five league goals this season in 21 appearances.

Barca are also reported to be interested in signing Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta and his team-mate Andreas Christensen. All three are set to become free agents at the end of the season.

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