The business end of the Champions League usually throws up familiar rivalries, with Europe's big guns so often getting to the latter stages of the competition.

Wednesday sees a repeat of last season's semi-final as Chelsea and Real Madrid contest a tie brimming with European pedigree, but last year's Europa League winners Villarreal are playing the increasingly customary role of Champions League disruptor.

From Atalanta to Ajax to Lyon, there seems to be one club that manages to punch above their weight in relation to Europe's elite in recent seasons, and Unai Emery's side will have their work cut against Bayern Munich.

We take a look at both games using Opta facts, which suggest two enticing matchups as well as contrasts of style.

Chelsea v Real Madrid

As mentioned, this is the second consecutive season in which Chelsea and Madrid have met in the knockout stages of the Champions League. The Blues could become the first English team to eliminate Los Blancos from the knockout stages of the competition on multiple occasions, having progressed 3-1 on aggregate in last season's semi-final.

That tie was notable for the first leg, in one of the few times former head coach Zinedine Zidane went away from his usual midfield of Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Luka Modric, and with a rare 3-4-3 formation. If not for Edouard Mendy's early heroics to deny Karim Benzema, the second leg at Stamford Bridge when Zidane reverted could have also panned out differently.

However, Chelsea are unbeaten in their last eight games against Spanish opposition, with their last defeat coming at Stamford Bridge under Frank Lampard as Valencia won 1-0.

Meanwhile, Madrid have lost only one of their last eight Champions League games when facing the holders, while they have won each of the last three without conceding a goal.

Benzema is coming into this tie in intimidatingly good form, and following his hat trick against Paris Saint-Germain in the last-16, his season tally of eight Champions League goals is the highest of his career.

Since Thomas Tuchel has taken over at Chelsea, they have been close to impenetrable defensively. From his first Champions League game with them in February 2021, the Blues have kept a clean sheet in 10 out of 15 games.

 

Villarreal v Bayern Munich

This is only the second meeting between the two clubs after the 2011-12 season, when Bayern won 3-1 at home and 2-0 away before ultimately reaching and losing the final.

This will be Villarreal's first game in the Champions League quarter-finals since 2009, when they were eliminated by Arsenal. Overall, they have only won one of their six games at this stage of the competition or later, a 1-0 victory at home to Inter in 2006.

While the approach from Emery will be almost certain to try to contain, Bayern have scored an astonishing 101 goals in the Champions League since they were last held to a clean sheet, against Liverpool in 2019.

They have won 26 out of the previous 34 games since, averaging 3.4 goals a game over that span.

Robert Lewandowski has naturally been key to that, scoring 12 goals in eight Champions League appearances this term, and is one of three players to enter a quarter-final stage with that many goals – the other two being Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Much like against Juventus, the question will be how long will the periods of containment be for Villarreal, in order to make their forays in the opposite half truly count?

 

Alphonso Davies is poised for his first Bayern Munich appearance in almost four months after getting the all-clear from doctors monitoring his heart.

The attacking left-back has not featured for Bayern since December 17, after first testing positive for COVID-19 and then being sidelined when checks revealed a mild heart inflammation.

Davies, newly named as the CONCACAF men's player of the year, will be heading to the World Cup with Canada later this year after they qualified for the first time since the 1986 tournament.

On Wednesday, he should begin his comeback in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final against Spanish outfit Villarreal.

Bayern head coach Julian Nagelsmann confirmed that 21-year-old Davies had been given the green light to play by the medics dealing with his myocarditis.

"Phonzie will be in the squad, and the results of his medical mean that he has been cleared to start," Nagelsmann told a news conference.

"We will make a decision over the course of the day. In general, I am leaning towards having him in the starting XI."

News of Davies' condition emerged in mid-January, by which stage the youngster had started 22 of Bayern's 27 matches this season – only Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski had started more regularly, which is a reflection of his importance to the team.

He had made 16 appearances in the Bundesliga and at the time he led the way in the division for dribbles attempted (97) and completed (61).

Nagelsmann said he had settled on seven or eight of the players who would start against Villarreal, with winger Serge Gnabry possibly set to get the nod ahead of Leroy Sane.

However, Sane has an outstanding record in the competition this season, which may influence Nagelsmann's choice. The former Manchester City man has been directly involved in 12 goals in eight games for Bayern in the Champions League this term (six goals, six assists).

Only Sane's team-mate Lewandowski (15) and Ajax's Sebastien Haller (13) have had more goal involvements in the current campaign.

"We'll rotate a bit, but not too much. We're used to this Saturday-Wednesday rhythm. We'll rotate a little more against Augsburg [in the Bundesliga on Saturday]," Nagelsmann said.

One player who will not be involved is Corentin Tolisso, who will be hoping he has not played his last game for Bayern after suffering a torn thigh muscle in the weekend Bundesliga win over Freiburg.

Tolisso is out of contract at the end of the season and Bayern reportedly decided earlier this season not to renew his deal.

"I actually thought that Coco had a stomach problem," Nagelsmann said. "I only found out after the game in Freiburg that he had a torn ligament. It's not an easy situation for him. He's in France now to get his mind off things a bit."

Nagelsmann believes Bayern have what it takes to get past Unai Emery's Villarreal, who stunned Juventus in the previous round.

Bayern are unbeaten in their last five games when playing away from home in the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie (W3 D2), although their last such defeat came in Spain in the 2015-16 semi-final against Atletico Madrid.

Emery will be taking charge of his 50th game in the Champions League (W21 D10 L18), and it will be his first quarter-final tie.

The Bayern coach said of Villarreal: "It's a very experienced team. They have a coach who is especially experienced internationally [in club games].

"They play different formations, you have to adapt to different situations. It's a team that opens up with risk. It's an experienced team of players, who have already experienced something and which has to be cracked first. However, I am confident that we will prevail."

Freiburg have reluctantly decided to appeal to the German Football Association (DFB) following "intensive" discussions within the club after Bayern Munich inadvertently briefly fielded 12 players on Saturday.

The Bundesliga leaders were 3-1 up and on the way to winning 4-1 when Julian Nagelsmann removed Corentin Tolisso and Kingsley Coman and sent on Marcel Sabitzer and Niklas Sule.

However, Coman did not realise he was being replaced after his number was not raised, and he did not leave the pitch immediately, with referee Christian Dingert resuming the game before the error was noticed.

The game continued for several seconds before being halted as all concerned attempted to make sense of the situation, and the incident may see Freiburg declared 2-0 winners, as per the DFB rules.

According to paragraph 17, article 4 of the rulebook: "If a player was not eligible to play or be fielded in a game, the team that culpably fielded this player lost the game 2-0 and the opponent won 2-0."

This rule is only to be utilised if the match is allowed to proceed by the referee, as it was at the Europa-Park Stadion – an additional 12th player on the field would be considered ineligible to take part.

Referee Dingert acknowledged that an incorrect number for Coman was initially displayed and that it did not change the outcome of the game, but added "everything else will be decided by the DFB" to TZ.

Freiburg undertook an "intensive and extremely differentiated process of deliberation" to discuss the "mistake" by Bayern and concluded that they must appeal even if against their will in an "uncomfortable" scenario.

A club statement on Monday read: "First of all: We are in a dilemma through no fault of our own. SC Freiburg had no part or influence on the events surrounding the change process. 

"Nevertheless, the legal and procedural rules of the DFB formally force us to play an active role in order to have the processes legally checked. In principle, we have no interest whatsoever in this active role, which has been given to us against our will in terms of procedural technology, and we feel extremely uncomfortable in it.  

"We therefore consider this procedural regulation in its overall construction to be inappropriate. Ultimately, it burdens the completely uninvolved club - in this case us - with the responsibility for processing an obvious violation of the rules.

"Nevertheless, after intensive discussions at different levels and a legal examination, the board of the Sport-Club Freiburg eV decided to appeal against the rating of the game."

Freiburg cited the opportunity for the sports court to evaluate Bayern's error and the creation of future "legal certainty in comparable cases" for other clubs as decisive in the decision-making process.

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.

Bayern Munich could pay a high price for their substitution blunder at Freiburg after briefly playing with 12 men in Saturday's Bundesliga game.

The leaders were 3-1 ahead and on the way to a 4-1 away victory when head coach Julian Nagelsmann elected to make a late double change, removing Corentin Tolisso and Kingsley Coman and sending on Marcel Sabitzer and Niklas Sule.

However, Coman did not realise he was being replaced after his number was not raised, and he did not leave the field immediately, with referee Christian Dingert resuming the game before this was noticed.

The game continued for several seconds before being halted as all concerned attempted to make sense of the situation, and the incident may even see Bayern forfeit the win.

German football association (DFB) rules appear to suggest Freiburg could be declared 2-0 winners.

According to paragraph 17, article 4 of the rulebook: "If a player was not eligible to play or be fielded in a game, the team that culpably fielded this player lost the game 2-0 and the opponent won 2-0."

This rule is only to be deployed if the match is allowed to proceed by the referee, as it was on this occasion. A 12th player on the field would be considered ineligible to take part.

Nagelsmann said of the bizarre incident: "The wrong number was on the board, not Kingsley's 11. Mistakes happen. From the point of view of both teams, from the point of view of a fair sport, there was nothing that speaks against it being fair. You play a good game here and then everyone stands there and asks about the rules."

Freiburg coach Christian Streich, appearing alongside Nagelsmann at a post-match news conference, said rules should not be ignored.

Streich said: "I'm sure there won't be an objection, an appeal, from us, but there are rules to be followed.

"There is a rule and there's plenty of speculation, but we have a rulebook and that's what we have to abide by. Everything else, I'm not going to say anything about it, because there's nothing for me to say."

Referee Dingert, quoted by TZ, said: "It was a totally confused situation: It was a double change from Bayern Munich. An incorrect number was initially displayed, which is why the player Coman did not feel addressed with the number 11.

"That's why a 12th player was on the field for a short time, which shouldn't be. We noticed and then stopped the game.

"It's annoying for us because of course that scene is the focus now. We will note this in the game report. The game had 12 [Bayern] players for 15, 16 seconds. No goal happened. We will note that, everything else will be decided by the DFB."

Leon Goretzka, on his return from injury, scored Bayern's opening goal, with Serge Gnabry, Coman and Sabitzer also on target. Nils Petersen's reply was his 100th goal for Freiburg in all competitions.

Victory kept Bayern sitting pretty at the top of the Bundesliga, taking them nine points ahead of Borussia Dortmund who were not in action until later on Saturday against RB Leipzig.

Leon Goretzka returned from his long lay-off with a goal as Bayern Munich won 4-1 at Freiburg in the Bundesliga – where the leaders briefly had 12 players on the pitch.

Freiburg are in the hunt for a Champions League place and were far from pushovers, despite having won just one of 37 previous Bundesliga clashes between the teams.

Their resistance was broken when Goretzka, back from a hip injury that had kept him sidelined since December, headed a 58th-minute opener.

Freiburg's Nils Petersen scored within moments of coming off the bench to bring Freiburg level, only for Serge Gnabry to do just the same for Bayern in the 73rd minute, and Kingsley Coman drilled in the third before Marcel Sabitzer hit a fourth in stoppage time.

Thomas Muller, Joshua Kimmich, Leroy Sane and Goretzka threatened early on from Bayern half-chances, before Manuel Neuer comfortably saved a daisy-cutter from Roland Sallai at the other end.

It was just the sixth time this season that Bayern had failed to score in the first half of a Bundesliga game, but they had not drawn a blank over 90 minutes.

Therefore, it was hardly a surprise when Goretzka made a 58th-minute breakthrough, heading in Kimmich's free-kick after Mark Flekken made a misjudged charge off his line and failed to claim the ball.

Goretzka came off after 62 minutes, receiving a hug from Julian Nagelsmann, who also removed Robert Lewandowski. But within seconds it was a Freiburg substitute, fresh from replacing Sallai, who stunned Bayern with a fine equaliser.

Petersen made a bright run between Bayern defenders to meet Christian Gunter's clever pass and drill a left-footed strike across Neuer, finding the bottom-left corner.

Gnabry pulled off the same trick of scoring within seconds of entering the action when he restored Bayern's lead, taking advantage of charitable defending from Nico Schlotterbeck to fire left-footed into the bottom-right corner after Lucas Hernandez's cross. Coman struck when Flekken could only push his skidding 20-yard strike into the net.

Play was held up for several minutes when Bayern briefly had 12 players on the field, after an apparent substitution bungle, but the game continued when that was resolved and Sabitzer struck late on to add gloss.

Julian Nagelsmann said Bayern Munich "won't take any chances" with Robert Lewandowski's fitness when they face Freiburg on Saturday, with the striker nursing a rib injury.

The Bayern boss offered a promising update on Leon Goretzka's fitness, saying he would "love" to let the midfielder play, but could be left without Joshua Kimmich due to the imminent birth of his child.

Lewandowski netted a second-half penalty to set Poland on their way to World Cup qualification on Tuesday, opening the scoring in a 2-0 play-off win over Sweden.

The 33-year-old's last club outing saw him net twice against Union Berlin to reach 30 Bundesliga goals for a fifth time, a feat only previously achieved by the legendary Gerd Muller.

Ahead of the trip to fifth-placed Freiburg, Nagelsmann said that while Lewandowski is in the squad and in contention to feature, the club would act with caution after he picked up a rib injury. 

"We'll have to see how his rib reacts," Nagelsmann said.

"I assume he's in the squad and playing, but we won't take any chances."

If Lewandowski is deemed fit enough to feature, he could set an outright record for the most away goals scored in a single Bundesliga campaign. 

His current tally of 17 is a joint single-season record, shared with Jupp Heynckes (set in 1973-74 as a Borussia Monchengladbach player), and Timo Werner (2019-20 with RB Leipzig).

Meanwhile, Nagelsmann offered updates on the availability of two key midfielders, indicating that Goretzka is in line for his first appearance since December's 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund.

He also revealed he has set a deadline for Kimmich to join up with the team as he awaits his child's birth.

"Goretzka reacted a bit on the hip, [but] otherwise he trained exceptionally well, and I would love to let him play," Nagelsmann added.

"I discussed with him [Kimmich] that if everything stays calm, he can travel later. We have set a deadline. The most important thing is that everyone stays fit. 

"We have a good squad and we have to control the players' workloads. At the same time, we need to keep our foot on the gas."

Bayern's tally of 81 goals from their 27 Bundesliga games is the best return at this stage of a season in the competition's history. Meanwhile, the perennial champions have scored in 74 consecutive Bundesliga matches, also a German top-flight record.

Barcelona's rebuild under Xavi has shown positive signs, but a new striker appears to be a priority going forward.

Following Sergio Aguero's retirement in December, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang arrived during the January transfer window and quickly excelled under Xavi, but his position may yet come under threat.

Memphis Depay remains the club's top scorer this season, netting 10 times in all competitions, yet one potential signing guarantees goals.

TOP STORY – LEWANDOWSKI SETTLES ON BARCELONA MOVE

Barcelona have reportedly reached an agreement with Robert Lewandowski.

Sport claims the Poland striker wants to leave Bayern Munich for the Catalan giants, but they will have to convince Bayern to sell him.

The 33-year-old's contract expires at the end of next season and he is yet to agree to an extension in Bavaria.

Lewandowski has scored 45 goals in all competitions this term, and Barca are reportedly willing to pay as much as €60million to bring him to Camp Nou for next season.

ROUND-UP

– Tottenham are leading the race to sign Memphis Depay, per reports in Mundo Deportivo.

– Napoli have set a price tag of €100million for striker Victor Osimhen, according to Corriere dello Sport.

– The Mirror is reporting Ainsley Maitland-Niles is expected not to be retained by Roma, on loan from Arsenal.

 Inter show continued interest in Torino's Gleison Bremer, with talks in progress with a defender also linked to Milan, per Fabrizio Romano.

Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has put his failure to land a Ballon d'Or award down to not fitting the "Mr Perfect" mould of perennial winners Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Despite registering over 500 club goals for the likes of Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United, Ibrahimovic has never finished in the top three of the voting for the prestigious individual prize.

The Sweden international's highest finish came in 2013 when claiming fourth place behind Franck Ribery, Messi and Ronaldo, the latter two having taken the award 12 times between them (Messi 7, Ronaldo 5).

Indeed, only Luka Modric in 2018 – after winning the Champions League with Real Madrid and playing a starring role in Croatia's run to the World Cup final – has broken that duopoly over the past 14 years.

But Ibrahimovic, who has not been afraid to air his thoughts across a remarkable 23-year career, does not believe the Ballon d'Or is awarded on footballing ability alone and therefore has no regrets about missing out.

"These are political awards. They want 'Mr Perfect'," he told Bild. "If you speak and say what you think, you can't get them.

"It's easy to give them to Mr Nice Guy. It doesn't change anything for me, it doesn't make me better or worse."

Ibrahimovic is continuing to prove his worth at the age of 40 with Milan and is reportedly in talks over signing a contract beyond the end of this season, when his existing deal is due to expire.

The Malmo academy product has won trophies in five different countries, including Italy, France, Spain and England, but he has never plied his trade in the German top flight.

While a move to Bayern Munich may now be out of the equation, Ibrahimovic revealed he has a soft spot for the reigning Bundesliga champions.

"I've always been curious about the Bundesliga," he said. "There are teams like Bayern Munich, an incredible club.

"Every time I played against them I could always see their facilities, the stadium, their organisation. The history of the club is impressive."

Robert Lewandowski joined skiing greats Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin in saluting Iga Swiatek for earning the number one ranking in women's tennis for the first time.

At the age of 20, Swiatek guaranteed she will top the WTA list after the Miami Open by beating Viktorija Golubic 6-2 6-0 in her opening match at the event.

Swiatek will replace Ash Barty, whose shock retirement will see the Australian drop off the ranking ladder entirely when it is next published on April 4.

Since a shock French Open victory in October 2020, when the unseeded Swiatek stormed through the draw without dropping a set, the Polish youngster has continued to make a major impact.

She reached at least the fourth round of all the grand slams last year and was a semi-finalist at the 2022 Australian Open, before victory at WTA 1000 events in Doha and Indian Wells propelled her to number two in the rankings.

Now she will climb a step higher, and that news has proven popular with Swiatek's supporters, who include a number of illustrious names.

Fellow Polish sporting star Lewandowski, who is rewriting goalscoring records in Germany with Bayern Munich, sent his compatriot a message on Instagram that read simply: "Congratulations Iga. Well done."

Swiatek is a huge admirer of Americans Vonn and Shiffrin, who have both landed World Championship and Olympic gold medals on the slopes, and the respect is mutual.

Vonn told Swiatek her achievement was "So deserved!!", and Shiffrin posted: "Congrats Iga!!"

Former WTA number one Kim Clijsters, who was also 20 when she first hit the top spot in 2003, felt it was a natural next step for Swiatek to move up a rung and become the 28th top-ranked player in the tour's history. Swiatek will also be the first Pole to sit at the summit.

Clijsters said: "To see Iga grow as a tennis player, it has been so beautiful for me. There's a certain type of focus that is on tennis, and tennis only. There's a drive there that I admire very much – a drive that I recognise."

Belgian Clijsters, quoted on the WTA website, added: "She's had great results in the past, but she still wants to improve. We've seen others that kind of take a step back and say, 'Oh, I've won a slam now, I've made it. There's sponsors coming in and I get treated like a princess wherever I go'.

"Just because you’re the number one player and have won slams, doesn't mean you should treat other people differently. I feel like Ash Barty did that amazingly, and I think Iga has that focus, too."

Barcelona have re-established themselves this term after a strong January transfer window.

Barca head coach Xavi, appointed in November, has overseen a major form reversal culminating in last week's 4-0 Clasico win.

The Blaugrana have their sights set on more additions as they continue to re-build after Lionel Messi's exit last year.

TOP STORY - BARCELONA SET SIGHTS ON SALAH

Barcelona boss Xavi is determined to land Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah , claims Mundo Deportivo.

The cash-strapped Catalans have switched their attention from the race for Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

Salah is yet to re-sign with Liverpool where he is out of contract in 2023.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta said he will not put the club at financial risk in order to sign Erling Haaland, per Fabrizio Romano for Mundo Deportivo.

 

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool will not pursue West Ham United's Declan Rice amid interest from several clubs in the England international midfielder, claims Football Insider.

- Leeds United has rejected a £29million bid from  Barcelona  for 25-year-old Brazilian winger  Raphinha , whose release clause is set at £60million, according to Sport.

- Arsenal midfielder  Granit Xhaka  remains a transfer target for  Roma head coach Jose Mourinho, per the Gazzetta dello Sport.

- According to the Daily Mail, Wolves and Portugal winger  Pedro Neto  is on  Paris Saint-Germain's  wanted list.

Kylian Mbappe is expected to join Real Madrid upon the conclusion of his Paris Saint-Germain contract.

The 2018 World Cup winner has opted not to extend his PSG deal.

Los Blancos have long circled for Mbappe's signature, having come close to signing him in the off-season.

TOP STORY - BARCELONA PLOT SWOOP FOR REAL TARGET MBAPPE

Barcelona are plotting a sensational move to snap up Mbappe ahead of rivals Madrid, reports L'Equipe.

The 23-year-old PSG winger has been heavily linked with a move to Madrid upon the conclusion of his contract at season's end.

However, the report claims Barcelona view him as a more financially shrewd option than Erling Haaland, who could cost them up to €300million.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona have also joined the race to sign Leeds United's Brazil international Raphinha alongside Liverpool, Manchester City and Bayern Munich, according to the Mirror.

- Barcelona are also interested in Bayern forward Robert Lewandowski, claims SPORT. The same outlet have also linked the Blaugrana with Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah , who is yet to extend at Anfield beyond his existing deal, which expires in 2023.

- The Sun claims that Bruno Fernandes will have his salary doubled with a new Manchester United deal in the works. The contract is understood to be a five-year deal.

- Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger has been offered a deal by Juventus, reports Sky Sports.

Paul Pogba has one foot out of the door at Manchester United, going on the record this week to say he has been disappointed by his five seasons with the Red Devils.

With his contract set to expire in June, the 29-year-old will have plenty of suitors from all over Europe.

While he is expected to sign with an established Champions League contender, Premier League sides Newcastle United and Aston Villa are reportedly assessing if the France international has any interest in remaining in England.

TOP STORY - POGBA TO STAY IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE?

While away on international duty, Pogba spoke to French media about how his time at Manchester United has fallen short of expectations.

He spoke about how he has been depressed at times throughout his latest near six-year stint in England, and went on to describe the current season as "dead", pointing to his ambition to win trophies in the future.

It seems likely that Pogba's future will be at another club, and while it is widely reported that the favourites to attain Pogba's services are European giants Juventus, Real Madrid or Paris Saint-Germain, The Sun is reporting that Newcastle and Aston Villa are "monitoring the situation".

ROUND-UP

- According to Calciomercato, Milan are considering a summer move for Chelsea's Jorginho after his agent declared it would be a "dream" to return to Italy. "Today he can play in four or five teams: AC Milan, Inter, Juventus, Roma or Napoli," agent Joao Santos declared this week.

- The Evening Standard is reporting that Declan Rice would prefer to move to Chelsea as opposed to Manchester United after West Ham reportedly placed a £150million price tag on the English midfielder to try and fend off circling clubs.

- Tottenham's Harry Kane was non-committal when asked about his future at the club, with The Daily Mirror reporting there is interest in reuniting the striker with former boss Mauricio Pochettino if he is to secure the top job at Manchester United.

- UOL is reporting that Barcelona are set to make it a three-horse race for young Ajax star Antony after Dani Alves recommended the Barca hierarchy should match the bids of Liverpool and Bayern Munich.

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.

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