Newcastle United were without club-record signing Alexander Isak and key man Bruno Guimaraes for Sunday's clash with Wolves.

Isak joined Newcastle in a £59million (€70m) deal from LaLiga side Real Sociedad on Friday.

However, the striker is not eligible to play for Eddie Howe's side against Wolves as he has not yet received a work permit, meaning he will have to wait for his Premier League debut.

Howe instead selected Chris Wood, who scored twice for Newcastle last season after signing from Burnley in January, to lead the line in the absence of Callum Wilson, who is out with a hamstring injury.

Newcastle are also without influential midfielder Guimaraes after the Brazil international sustained an injury in Wednesday's EFL Cup tie with Tranmere Rovers.

Guimaraes only came on as an 85th-minute substitute in that 2-1 comeback win.

It made sense for Newcastle United to first focus on their defence as they approached the transfer market armed with the millions of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.

The Magpies had shipped 80 Premier League goals in 2021 – a competition record for a calendar year – and entered the new year in the relegation zone.

Three defenders arrived in Newcastle's first transfer window under new ownership, with loan star Matt Targett signing again at the end of the season on a permanent deal.

Goalkeeper Nick Pope followed as Eddie Howe prepared for his first full season in charge, and so too did highly rated centre-back Sven Botman.

Over the past two windows, in Pope, Kieran Trippier, Botman, Dan Burn and Targett, the Magpies have signed an entire new back five – and it has paid off.

Entering the weekend, only Liverpool (15) and Manchester City (17) have conceded fewer goals than Newcastle (23) in 2022 among ever-present Premier League sides.

Howe's men ended last season a commendable 11th and are in the top six after three weeks of the new campaign, with their form since January tied for fourth.

However, the three teams to have earned more points in 2022 have scored considerably more goals than Newcastle (30) – Liverpool (48), City (57) and Tottenham (54).

Speaking in April of the key to Newcastle improving further in 2022-23, Howe said: "Ultimately, we need to score more goals – that's very clear.

"From open play, set plays – whatever it is – we need more goals, and we'd love someone to be right at the top of the goalscoring charts. If you do, it gives you a much better chance of being successful consistently."

Since those comments, Callum Wilson – out from the end of 2021 – has returned and netted four goals in six matches, one every 112 minutes on average.

But Wilson's latest strike against City on Sunday was followed by yet another injury, hampering his chances of being Howe's man at the top of the scoring charts.

When Wilson was injured heading into the January window, Newcastle responded by signing Chris Wood from Burnley for £25million. This time, they have moved for Alexander Isak, a £59m (€70m) record buy from Real Sociedad.

The Magpies were already in the market for a forward, but Howe himself acknowledged on Friday they would not have struck quite such an ambitious deal if not for Wilson's setback.

Through combinations of form and fitness, neither Wilson (eight), Wood (five) nor Isak (six) reached double-figures in the league last season, yet they have each netted at least 30 since the start of the 2019-20 season – Isak's first at La Real.

In Wilson (30), Wood (31) and Isak (33), Newcastle have three of the 69 forwards – as classified by Opta – to reach that mark in Europe's top five leagues over that period.

Barcelona (Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Memphis Depay), Inter (Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez, Edin Dzeko), Paris Saint-Germain (Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi, Neymar), RB Leipzig (Andre Silva, Timo Werner, Christopher Nkunku) and Tottenham (Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Richarlison) are the only other clubs to presently own three of these players.

For the first time in a long time, Newcastle have real depth in attack.

Crucially, with Wilson and Wood both 30, 22-year-old Isak can grow with this side, too; just three of those other 68 forwards are still 22 or younger (Erling Haaland, Dusan Vlahovic, Jonathan David).

This young age might excuse a poor 2021-22 campaign, in which Isak underperformed his expected goals tally of 11.2 and saw his shot conversion rate slump to 8.2 per cent, netting every 359 minutes.

Newcastle are backing the forward to return to his levels of 2019-20 (nine goals, 7.5 xG, 20.5 per cent shot conversion, 166 mins per goal) and 2020-21 (17 goals, 16.8 xG, 21.0 shot conversion, 139 mins per goal).

And despite the size of the fee involved in this transfer, Isak might actually find himself under less pressure on Tyneside, where Wilson will remain the main man when fit.

The England forward is expected back in a fortnight, and Howe has already spoken of using the two as a pair; in Newcastle's 4-3-3 formation, Isak – who ranked eighth among LaLiga strikers for carries (212), seventh for carry distance (2,683 metres) and joint-sixth for carries with a shot (22) – could be utilised out wide.

For now at least, Isak is not the headline act, feeling the weight of Newcastle's season on his shoulders – in complete contrast to the situation Joelinton, the club's previous record signing, found when arriving in 2019 as a struggling side's sole centre-forward.

This time, Newcastle have bought from a position of strength, and Isak's career on Tyneside should be all the better for it.

Newcastle United have completed the signing of Alexander Isak from Real Sociedad for a club-record fee reported to be £60million (€71.1m).

The 22-year-old, capped 37 times by Sweden, moves to the Premier League side on a five-year deal, bringing an end to three successful years with the LaLiga outfit.

Signed from Borussia Dortmund, Isak scored 33 goals in 105 league appearances for La Real, the last of which came in a 4-2 defeat to Barcelona on August 21.

"I'm delighted to have it done. It was a big, big decision for me but it is a decision I am really happy with," he told the club website.

"It is a great, historical club that I think anyone would like to play for, with amazing fans. They were a big part of why I came here - and also the club's project, which is one that I really believe in.

"You always want to go into a team and know how they play. I think Newcastle play very attractive football and I want to be a part of that."

Isak becomes Newcastle's fourth signing of the transfer window, following the acquisitions of Sven Botman, Matt Targett and Nick Pope.

They had been in the market for a striker since the end of last season, having previously been linked with Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin as well as Isak.

Eddie Howe's need for a forward might have been expedited, however, by an injury to Callum Wilson, who has sustained a hamstring problem.

Newcastle are unbeaten in the early rounds of the 2022-23 Premier League season, drawing with Manchester City and Brighton and Hove Albion after starting the campaign with a win against Nottingham Forest.

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe has confirmed the club are closing in on the signing of Real Sociedad striker Alexander Isak.

The Sweden international is poised to move to St James' Park on a club-record deal of £60million, showing a major statement of intent from the Saudi owners.

While yet to be officially confirmed, Howe expressed his confidence on pushing the deal over the line when speaking ahead of Sunday's Premier League clash against Wolves. 

"It's not completed. We hope to get it done," he said, adding he hopes Isak could yet make his debut this weekend.

"Yes, fingers crossed. There's no guarantee with these things because we're in other people's hands, but hopefully."

The imminent signing of Isak comes amid another injury blow for Callum Wilson, who has scored twice in three Premier League games this season but is facing another spell on the sidelines with a hamstring issue.

"We don't believe it to be serious – we're hopeful that Callum will only be out for a couple of weeks," Howe added.

"But naturally we reacted slightly off that in terms of we were always looking for an attacking player, but it changed our focus maybe slightly on the type.

"But we're delighted to hopefully sign Alex, who will be a big player for us."

Job done.

Thank you for your support at Prenton Park this evening - safe journey home.

Onto Molineux on Sunday!  pic.twitter.com/oaedMuQgY8

— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) August 24, 2022

Manchester United are set to be busy in the final week of the transfer window and are closing in on a huge signing.

Erik ten Hag wants to bring in Antony from his former club Ajax, and the Brazil winger is keen to be reunited with his former coach.

United made a dismal start to the season by losing their opening two games, but bounced back by beating Liverpool on Monday, and are aiming to make another splash in the transfer market after signing Casemiro from Real Madrid.

 

TOP STORY – ANTONY TRYING TO FORCE UNITED MOVE

Antony is attempting to force through a move to United by handing in a transfer request at Ajax.

That is according to The Mirror, while The Telegraph have claimed the 22-year-old's representatives are now basing themselves in London in order to push through a deal.

Ajax are reluctant to sell and this week turned down a £67.6million (€80m) bid from United, who are expected to up their offer. The Dutch club are said to want a fee of £84m (€100m), but Antony is trying to force their hand.

ROUND-UP

- The Athletic report that Dele Alli is on the brink of joining Besiktas on loan from Everton. The England international is in Istanbul to complete the move.

- Sky Sports Germany are claiming Chelsea will turn their focus to Bayer Leverkusen centre-back Edmond Tapsoba if they cannot sign Leicester City's Wesley Fofana.

- Newcastle United are set to break their transfer record by signing Alexander Isak from Real Sociedad for £60m (€71.1m), according to widespread reports.

 

- David Moyes confirmed West Ham had bid for Lucas Paqueta, but that approach has been turned down by Lyon, according to L'Equipe.

- BILD reporter Christian Falk has claimed Manchester United will decide whether or not to push ahead with a move for Eintracht Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp on Thursday.

- According to Fabrizio Romano, Marseille are not considering a move for Cristiano Ronaldo, who may be allowed to leave Old Trafford.

- Romano also reports that Marseille forward Arkadiusz Milik is joining Juventus.

Cristiano Ronaldo's future at Manchester United remains unclear after stepping away from their pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia.

The 37-year-old Portuguese has reportedly told United he wants to leave this off-season, although new boss Erik ten Hag said the Portuguese is in their plans for the upcoming campaign.

Ronaldo is one season into a two-year deal at Old Trafford, having re-joined United in August last year.

TOP STORY – RONALDO OFFERED TO PSG IN MESSI LINK-UP

Le Parisien claims that Manchester United's Ronaldo has been offered to French champions Paris Saint-Germain by his agent Jorge Mendes.

PSG, however, were not interested in the 37-year-old as they felt he was not the right fit and would put strain on their bulging wage bill, headlined by Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Mendes has also held talks with Bayern Munich and Chelsea as he seeks a move away from Old Trafford for Ronaldo.

ROUND-UP

–  Chelsea are homing in on a €40 million (£34m) deal for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly with the two parties in talks on a five-year deal, claims Sky Sport Italia. The Blues are looking for defensive reinforcements after Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger's departures.

–  Manchester United are closing in on a deal for Ajax's Lisandro Martinez with negotiations entering key stages reports Fabrizio Romano. The two clubs will meet on Wednesday, with Ajax having turned down United's previous approach, but the Argentinian is keen to move to the Premier League.

– The Telegraph claims that Newcastle United have held discussions with Real Sociedad about a deal for Swedish striker Alexander Isak with the fee believed to be a club record.

Barcelona have agreed to a five-year deal with Raphinha, with the move from Leeds United worth €67m (£55m) according to Fabrizio Romano.

– Marca reports that Real Madrid will beat Barcelona to the signature of 17-year-old Algeciras winger Alvaro Leiva.

Manchester City's search for a permanent striker appears to be ramping up, with a deal for Erling Haaland reportedly in the works.

City have not been able to properly replace Sergio Aguero despite leading the Premier League, and Haaland looks to be their primary target.

Details and discussion of the deal already appear to be in advanced stages, and City look to be best placed to sign the Norwegian.


TOP STORY – HAALAND SET FOR MAN CITY SWITCH

According to the Daily Mail, Haaland is set to move to Manchester City at the end of season, with personal terms already discussed and the framework for the deal already green-lit by City decision makers.

Haaland's father Alf-Inge played for the club but more importantly, City appear willing to meet Borussia Dortmund's release clause of £63million (€75.1million). 

The 21-year-old's agent, Mino Raiola, would also be set to earn a significant portion of the transfer fee per reports, meaning the total outlay will reach nine figures.

Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid have shown keen interest in the Norwegian striker, but the Premier League leaders look to be in pole position.

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are looking at Real Sociedad's Alexander Isak as an alternative in the event they don't manage to sign Haaland from Dortmund . According to El Nacional, Xavi is an admirer of the 22-year-old Swedish striker, but they would face competition from the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal .

- Milan are set to make an offer for Mamadou Coulibaly from Monaco. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Rossoneri scout Geoffrey Moncada is particularly keen on the 17-year-old, who will be leaving Monaco at the end of the season.

- According to reports from Calciomercato, Napoli will look to begin talks with Sassuolo for talented attacker Hamed Junior Traore soon. Following the expiry of Juventus' right of first refusal clause, reports also say the Partenopei will want to move quickly.

- Real Madrid are close to confirming a contract extension for Luka Modric, per Marca reports, but are unwavering in their plans to offload Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Isco at the end of the season.

Paris Saint-Germain's latest quest to win the Champions League was ended by Real Madrid on Wednesday.

The Ligue 1 leaders squandered a 2-0 aggregate lead with just half an hour of the tie remaining, losing 3-1 in the second leg and 3-2 on aggregate thanks to Karim Benzema's hat-trick.

It means head coach Mauricio Pochettino could already be looking ahead to a change of scenery.

 

TOP STORY – POCHETTINO SET FOR PSG SACK AND COULD TURN TO MAN UTD

Mauricio Pochettino's job is "hanging by a thread" at PSG, according to the Telegraph.

It is claimed the Argentine can expect to leave the club at the end of the season following their Champions League collapse against Real Madrid.

Pochettino has long been linked with the Manchester United manager job and could now start to prepare for the prospect of taking over at Old Trafford.

 

ROUND-UP

Cristiano Ronaldo has spoken with agent Jorge Mendes over his future at Manchester United, claims the Sun. Meanwhile, Bild reports the Red Devils are interested in signing Robert Lewandowski.

Paul Pogba is another who could be leaving Old Trafford this year, but Juventus are not yet certain whether to try to re-sign him on a free transfer or offer a new contract to Paulo Dybala, Tuttosport claims.

Barcelona are close to concluding an agreement with Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen, according to Sport.

Arsenal want to sign two new strikers and a midfielder as part of a major squad overhaul, the Standard says. Alexander Isak, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jonathan David and Darwin Nunez are among the forwards being tracked.

- A consortium led by British businessman Nick Candy is working on a £2.5billion bid to buy Chelsea from Roman Abramovich, the Guardian reports.

Manchester United have plenty of issues to solve ahead of next season, no matter where they end up in 2021-22.

It seems certain that Ralf Rangnick will not be in charge, with Mauricio Pochettino among the favourites to take over, though the former RB Leipzig boss is set to move into a consultancy role at Old Trafford, and certainly has an eye for picking a player.

United have requirements in central midfield, regardless of whether Paul Pogba stays or goes, but based on current evidence, they also need a striker.

Their problems up top have come back to bite them in recent games. In fact, against Watford last time out, United had 22 shots, finishing with an expected goals (xG) of 2.7, yet drew 0-0 at Old Trafford. Putting away chances has been a major area of concern.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the club at the end of the August transfer window, and while he has contributed 15 goals in all competitions, it could easily be argued that United's all-round play has taken a hit since the 37-year-old's homecoming.

Edinson Cavani has featured only sporadically this season and, like Ronaldo, is approaching the twilight of a glistening career. Both players may well not be at United heading into 2022-23.

Anthony Martial is out on loan at Sevilla, with his United future looking rather bleak. Marcus Rashford, meanwhile, seems to lack the clinical nature to lead a title-challenging line.

The last time United went out and signed a striker at their peak was the season in which they last won the Premier League – Robin van Persie proving the difference in Alex Ferguson's last campaign in charge.

On Sunday, United face rivals Manchester City. A team that has perfected playing without a recognised number nine.

That is testament to Pep Guardiola's genius, but it has proved that it can be done. So, looking further down the line, who is the forward that United need?

Here, Stats Perform assesses some standout options.

Harry Kane (Tottenham)

Kane has long been linked with a move to Manchester, to both sides of the red-blue divide. It appeared City would bring the England captain north last year, yet Tottenham refused to budge, and it would seem that particular ship has sailed – Kane turns 29 this year and, with Erling Haaland's reported €75million (£62.1m) release clause, City are reportedly prioritising the Borussia Dortmund star. 

That could that leave the door open for Kane to rock up at Old Trafford instead, especially if the option of linking up with Pochettino is on the table.

It has been a tough season for Kane by his lofty standards, though his brilliant performances against City and Leeds United in recent weeks showed the player that was at the top of his game last season is still there.

Alexander Isak (Real Sociedad)

Taking Kylian Mbappe and Haaland out of the equation, United might still look at the younger end of the spectrum. In that regard, Real Sociedad's Isak may fit the bill.

Isak scored 17 LaLiga goals last season and, while he has not reached quite the same heights in 2021-22, at 22 he is definitely one for the future. His tally of eight goals across all competitions is disappointing, though when looking at expected goals on target (xGOT) – a tool that can quantify the quality of a player's finishing – Isak is at 12.2 for the season, suggesting that the placement of his shots should have resulted in more goals.

Patrik Schick (Bayer Leverkusen)

While not among the elite, if United are looking for a goalscorer then they could do worse than Schick, who has carried over his fine form from Euro 2020 into this season, scoring 20 goals in 24 matches for Bayer Leverkusen, striking on average every 84 minutes, which is the third-best minutes per goal ratio of strikers in Europe's top five leagues to have already netted at least 20 goals in all competitions, after Haaland and Robert Lewandowski (more on him later).

 

Schick has already had something of a nomadic career but at 26 is about to enter his prime years. His shot conversion rate of 28.17 is superb, ranking fourth out of players from the Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, LaLiga and Ligue 1 to have scored at least 10 times.

The Czech's xGOT of 16.1, minus his xG of 14.4, gives him a shooting goals added (sga) figure of +1.7, meaning he is executing better quality shots than the quality of the chances he has attempted shots from. However, in contrast to Isak, he may also have benefited from goalkeepers failing to keep out attempts they would be expected to.

Lautaro Martinez (Inter)

One player who is among Europe's elite forwards is Inter's Martinez. The Argentine struck up a fearsome partnership with Romelu Lukaku in 2019-20 and 2020-21, and he has scored 12 goals already this season.

Martinez's aggression and pace could make him an ideal frontman for the Premier League, though his finishing can be erratic (he has had 102 attempts this season but has a conversion rate of just 11.76 per cent), while he has also underperformed his xG (17.1). The Argentine did only sign a new Inter contract last year, so he would be hard to prise away.

Robert Lewandowski (Bayern)

Before disregarding the option of Lewandowski as fantasy, take into account that he has not yet signed a new deal with Bayern Munich. The 33-year-old's contract expires in 2023.

Lewandowski is undoubtedly the best out-and-out striker in world football right now and, if Ronaldo and Cavani were to leave, United might prefer to go with experience. 

 

Not that experience is all Lewandowski would offer. He will go down as one of the best to grace the game and has 39 goals in 33 appearances this season, slightly overperforming his xG (37.6) in the process. He nets on average every 73 minutes and, like Van Persie a decade ago, would surely transform United into title contenders. That being said, the same was also said about Ronaldo.

Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid) 

Something of a wildcard option, Joao Felix is not the typical striker, but if United were to go down a Guardiola-inspired false nine route, then the former Benfica boy wonder might be the perfect fit.

It would be harsh to say Joao Felix has been a failure at Atletico Madrid, but it is fair to suggest he has not been a rip-roaring success under Diego Simeone either.

Yet the 22-year-old has shown flashes of brilliance. Indeed, he outshone compatriot Ronaldo in United's recent Champions League draw with Atleti and with the tactical nous he is sure to have got from Simeone, it would be intriguing to see him at Old Trafford.

Romelu Lukaku has not had the desired impact since his move from Inter to Chelsea in August.

The Belgium international has scored 10 goals in all competitions but appears unsettled.

As a result, Lukaku has been linked with a move away from the European champions.

TOP STORY - LUKAKU KEEN FOR INTER RETURN

Chelsea forward Lukaku is open to the idea of taking a pay cut to facilitate a proposed move back to Inter , according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

Lukaku dropped a bombshell in December, revealing his regret at leaving Inter for Chelsea and has come under fire recently after managing only seven touches in a Premier League game.

The report claims that the Belgian forward has contacted the Italian champions to persuade them to bid for him, although they may not be able to afford a deal.

ROUND-UP

- Eden Hazard is interested in a return to Chelsea after an unhappy time with Real Madrid, claims Fichajes. The Belgian made a €100 million (£84m) move to Madrid in 2019 but has underwhelmed, with the Blues open to a short-term deal.

- SPORT claims that Arsenal will make a fresh approach to sign Real Sociedad's Swedish forward Alexander Isak . The striker has an €80m (£67m) release clause in his contract and has been linked with Barcelona .

- Manchester United have tabled an offer for Borussia Dortmund's Manuel Akanji ,   reports BILD. The Red Devils will offer the defender, who is contracted until 2023, a four-year deal worth €15m (£13m) per season.

- Nicolo Schira claims that Madrid are angling to sign Fabian Ruiz after contract extension talks with Napoli stalled. The 25-year-old is understood to want to return to Spain.

- Fabrizio Romano reports that Barcelona will back head coach Xavi in the off-season as they push on with plans to lure Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta .

- Newcastle United are considering an off-season move for Lyon defender Jason Denayer , claims The Mirror. Denayer's contract expires in June.

Sweden striker Alexander Isak's reputation continues to grow at Real Sociedad.

The 22-year-old has netted eight goals in all competitions this season after 17 strikes in LaLiga last term.

Isak is contracted with Sociedad until 2026, meaning they are under no pressure to cash him in.

However, there appears to be plenty of interest among clubs who want to test La Real's resolve to keep him.

TOP STORY – BLUES AND RED DEVILS ENTER ISAK RACE

Chelsea and Manchester United have both joined the race to sign Real Sociedad forward Alexander Isak, according to The Mirror.

Arsenal have been keen on the 22-year-old Sweden international, who has a £75million buyout clause in his contract.

United are said to view Isak as an ideal replacement for veteran forward Cristiano Ronaldo whose future at Old Trafford is unclear.

 

ROUND-UP

Juventus are bullish that they can beat Tottenham in the race to sign Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo, claims La Gazzetta dello Sport. The Bianconeri view Zaniolo as a replacement for Paulo Dybala, whose contract is running down.

Manchester United and Liverpool have joined Real Madrid and Barcelona in keeping tabs on Serge Gnabry's contract situation at Bayern Munich, reports The Mirror. According to Sky Germany, Bayern and Gnabry are having a stand-off in discussions over an extension.

Liverpool's deal to land Fulham's Fabio Carvalho is not dead, says Football Insider, with the two parties set for new talks with a view to an off-season switch. Calciomercato claims that Milan have also reached out to Carvalho's representatives.

- The Sun reports that Premier League giants Manchester United and Chelsea are monitoring 16-year-old Blackburn Rovers defender Ashley Phillips, with Everton and Tottenham also keeping tabs on the teenager.

Manchester United's search for a new full-time manager continues.

Ralf Rangnick has been in interim charge at Old Trafford since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's dismissal in November.

English powerhouse United have failed to win any silverware since 2017

 

TOP STORY - MAN UTD CONFIDENT ON LANDING POCHETTINO

Manchester United have renewed confidence that they will land Paris Saint-Germain head coach Pochettino as their new boss, claims The Mirror.

The Argentine is understood to be United's number one candidate for the permanent role.

Footmercato claims Pochettino is tired of the constant criticism he has received at PSG and will not stay beyond this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City are on verge of tabling an offer to Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland to make him one of the highest paid players in the Premier League, according to Todofichajes.

- The Sun reports that Arsenal are planning for a £180 million off-season spend, with Real Sociedad's Alexander Isak, Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Wolves' Ruben Neves among their targets. However, this is dependent on Arsenal finishing top four.

- Chelsea will open pre-contract agreement talks with Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele after he failed to make a deadline day move, claims Sky Sports. 

- Chelsea are also eyeing a move for Real Madrid defender Eder Militao as they plan for the departures of Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger, according to AS.

- Juventus and Milan are leading the race to land Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo reports Sky Italia. Roma are looking to cash in Zaniolo in the off-season, with Tottenham also interested.

 

Arsenal's search of attacking reinforcements has apparently led to Alexander Isak after it became clear Dusan Vlahovic is seemingly headed to Juventus.

With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out of form and ostracised at the Emirates Stadium and Alexandre Lacazette struggling for goals, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is desperate to land attacking reinforcements in January.

Their hunt for Fiorentina hitman Vlahovic has apparently failed but Sweden star Isak may be a potential option for the Premier League side.

TOP STORY – ISAK THE MAN FOR MIKEL?

Vlahovic has been a man in demand during the January transfer window, though it appears Juve have won the race in a €75million deal.

Arsenal are now thought to be turning their attention to Real Sociedad forward Isak, and are reportedly ready to make him their club-record signing by paying £75million, which would trigger Isak's release clause.

Isak scored 17 goals in 34 LaLiga outings last term, but he has managed just four from 18 top-flight appearances in 2021-22 thus far.

ROUND UP

- Newcastle United's pursuit of new players in their fight against relegation has reportedly led to a €40m (£33.5m) bid for Lyon's defensive midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, according to the Guardian. Arsenal and Juventus have also been touted as potential suitors.

- The Evening Standard says Tottenham are planning a loan deal for Fiorentina's Sofyan Amrabat as Antonio Conte looks to bolster his midfield with Tanguy Ndombele, Dele Alli and Giovani Lo Celso all set to be allowed to leave. A move for Georginio Wijnaldum, whose move to Paris Saint-Germain has not exactly gone to plan, has also been tipped.

- Germany full-back Robin Gosens could be about to swap Atalanta for Serie A rivals Inter, with a move in the "final stages", says Fabrizio Romano.

- Nicolas Tagliafico has told Ajax he wants to joined Barcelona in what he considers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Goal first reported Barca coach Xavi was eyeing the left-back to provide competition for Jordi Alba.

- Donny van de Beek is seemingly headed for a loan move out of Manchester United. Crystal Palace are said by Sky Sports to be in direct negotiations with the Red Devils, while a temporary switch to Valencia is also an option.

Jordi Alba leapt to the defence of Spain coach Luis Enrique after La Roja suffered their first World Cup qualifying defeat since 1993 at the hands of Sweden on Thursday.

In what was their first game since losing to Italy on penalties in the Euro 2020 semi-finals, Spain were in Stockholm hoping to go top of Group B on the road to Qatar 2022.

It was initially going well too, as Carlos Soler opened his account less than four minutes into his international debut as he turned in an Alba delivery.

But the Valencia midfielder made an error almost straight after the restart and Alexander Isak netted from 20 yards, meaning Spain's lead lasted just 63 seconds.

Viktor Claesson got the winner for Sweden in the second half, producing a cleverly disguised finish after inventive play by Dejan Kulusevski, with Spain's late pressure coming to nothing.

In the end, Spain – who had 75 per cent of the ball – finished with an expected goals value of 2.2 to Sweden's 0.6, highlighting the lack of decisiveness shown by La Roja in front of goal compared to their hosts.

Alba does not believe a major re-think is required for Luis Enrique, though he accepts Spain now have to be faultless if they are to usurp Sweden atop Group B given they are now two points adrift having played a game more than Janne Andersson's men.

"As in all matches, when you win or lose, you have to improve," he told Teledeporte. "The ideas of ​​the coach have been very good since he arrived and the players are taking to it perfectly. We have to improve as in all games, but we are doing a good job.

"It's clear we still have a lot to do. We have no margin for error. Today we have lost and there are still difficult games to be won.

"We have done things well, they have had their chances, they have put them in and we must continue to improve and do the job that the coach asks of us.

"We didn't deserve to lose. We had a very good first half, it's just a shame that after our goal they scored their goal in the next play.

"In the second half they waited for their strengths [counterattacks] and they did very well. We have no margin for error, we must win every game; we had that idea from the beginning, but now more than ever."

Luis Enrique echoed his left-back's sentiments and stressed Spain did not play poorly in general, though he rued a lack of success in midfield duels as well as Sweden's success in transition, with the pace and ability of Kulusevski and Isak routinely threatening the defence.

"It was not a bad game, there was ambition, good positioning, we have created many chances but we have lost many duels in midfield," he added.

"And with the transitions they have done us a lot of damage. We have lost many duels and they have generated more transitions than in the last ten games."

Spain suffered their first defeat in 90 minutes since October 2020 as Sweden came from behind to emerge 2-1 victors at the Friends Arena and take control of Group B in World Cup qualifying. 

The two sides drew 0-0 during Euro 2020 but in front of a vibrant home support, Sweden were far more of a threat going forward this time, with star duo Dejan Kulusevski and Alexander Isak playing decisive roles. 

Isak got the swift equaliser after Carlos Soler netted a debut goal early on in a largely enjoyable but undramatic first half. 

The second period was considerably more exhilarating, and it was fine work by Kulusevski that created Viktor Claesson's winner, which leaves Sweden top of the group with nine points, two clear of Spain who have also played a game more. 

Soler's international career was less than four minutes old when he turned in Jordi Alba's pinpoint delivery at the end of a flowing move, but their lead lasted only 63 seconds. 

An error by Soler in the Spain midfield allowed Isak to seize possession and he clinically found the bottom-right corner from 20 yards. 

Spain predictably dominated possession but did not create any other clear-cut chances before the break, while at the other end they needed Unai Simon alert as he blocked Kulusevski's effort from a tight angle in the 36th minute. 

Sweden had a lucky escape just after the restart, Robin Olsen saving from point-blank range when Filip Helander diverted a Cesar Azpilicueta cross towards his own goal. 

They soon made the most of that let-off by going 2-1 up. 

Kulusevski beat Eric Garcia on the left and pulled a wonderful pass back to the centre of the box for Claesson, whose disguised finish found the bottom-left corner. 

Spain piled the pressure on in the final stages, substitute Adama Traore particularly lively on the right, but ultimately Sweden held on for a deserved victory. 

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