Romelu Lukaku is Chelsea's back-up plan if they cannot land Erling Haaland.

Haaland is being circled by several top clubs including Chelsea, along with Manchester City and Real Madrid.

The Borussia Dortmund talent will demand a significant transfer fee which the Blues may be able to afford.

 

TOP STORY – LUKAKU FIRMS AS CHELSEA'S PLAN B

Chelsea have turned their attention to their former striker Romelu Lukaku as they look to bolster their forward options.

The Telegraph reports that Haaland still remains top priority but Inter forward Lukaku is being heavily considered.

The Manchester Evening News are also reporting City are interested in Lukaku as both clubs prepare to miss out on Haaland.

Inter have indicated that Lukaku, who was at Chelsea from 2011 to 2014 but spent spells on loan at West Brom and Everton, is not for sale.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca's front page discusses Real Madrid setting Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe as their transfer priorities amid a major reconstruction whilst reinforcing a Cristiano Ronaldo return is not part of their plans.

- ESPN claim Borussia Dortmund have set a €180m valuation on Haaland, as numerous clubs circle for the Norwegian forward's services.

- Manchester United are considering offering Jesse Lingard a new deal following his exceptional form on loan at West Ham United, according to The Sun.

- AS is reporting that Manchester United have also made an approach to sign Atletico Madrid's Marcos Llorente for £68.5m.

- Turkish outlet Ajansspor reports that Fenerbahce have contacted ex-Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri about potentially taking up their head coach role.

Barcelona have reportedly joined the queue chasing Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

Haaland is a player in demand following his exploits for Bundesliga outfit Dortmund.

The Norway international could be among a number of new recruits at Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND WANTED AT CAMP NOU

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman is leading the club's recruitment this off-season and has identified Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland as a key target, according to Diario AS.

Haaland has been linked with Barca, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Liverpool.

Koeman is also reportedly eyeing City defender Eric Garcia, Lyon captain Memphis Depay and soon-to-be Liverpool free agent Georginio Wijnaldum.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fresh from netting a hat-trick to knock Tottenham out of the Europa League, Dinamo Zagreb's Mislav Orsic has been linked with a move to London rivals Arsenal by The Sun, which claims the Gunners are looking at the Croatian attacker as an off-season signing.

- Marca claims Arsenal will not be able to sign on-loan Martin Odegaard on a permanent deal as parent club Real Madrid see him as part of their long-term future plans.

Roma want either Maurizio Sarri or Massimiliano Allegri to be their next coach to replace Paulo Fonseca, according to Messaggero.

- Calciomercato says rumoured Premier League target Franck Kessie has rejected Milan's latest contract extension offer.

- Schalke's California-born 20-year-old Matthew Hoppe is hot property and Valencia are the latest club to join the chase, alongside TottenhamBarcelona, Ajax and PSV, according to AS.

- The Sun reports in-form Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho will sign a new deal with the club.

Lionel Messi is "the best player in history" and should stay at Barcelona, claims LaLiga president Javier Tebas, who laughed off the suggestion of Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland joining a Spanish club.

On Sunday, Messi overtook Xavi as the player with the most appearances for Barca, six days after the 33-year-old scored a 20th LaLiga player for the 13th successive season – another record.

The Argentina forward has been involved in more goals in 2021 than any other player across Europe's 'top five' leagues, but he still has not tied his future to the Catalan club, who he wished to leave in 2020.

Messi elected to stay and see out the last year of his contract, but his future remains up in the air with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain interested.

Tebas has consistently urged Messi to remain in Spain but has also refuted the suggestion LaLiga would suffer markedly without the Barca star, citing examples of Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo leaving for PSG and Juventus respectively.

He reiterated those comments on Wednesday, suggesting Messi would damage his "brand" by moving to another club.

"If I were Messi's advisor I would tell him, 'Stay at Barca'," Tebas told reporters.

"I want Messi to stay. He is the best player in history. If you are thinking about his last years of football, he should continue to be linked to the Barcelona brand.

"He started at Barcelona and I think he should continue at Barca. If I was his advisor, I would tell him he must do everything possible to stay at Barca."

While Messi continues to break records at Barca, his era of dominance in European football appears to be coming to an end.

Mbappe and Haaland are the players seemingly destined to take the baton from Messi and Ronaldo, with the Borussia Dortmund and PSG stars already having been pitted against each other by media outlets across the continent.

Mbappe, 22, hit his 100th Ligue 1 goal in a 4-2 win over Lyon on Sunday, while 20-year-old Haaland has been in sensational form since breaking through with Salzburg last season.

Between them, the duo have shared 41 goals in all competitions this season (21 for Haaland, 20 for Mbappe), while they have both converted 17 of the 27 "big chances" they have been afforded at a rate of 62.96 per cent.

Often utilised in a wide role for PSG, Mbappe has provided six assists and crafted 25 chances. Haaland has also proved his worth from a creative standpoint, teeing up four goals and forging 19 opportunities for team-mates to score.

Mbappe has often been linked with a move to Barca or Real Madrid but is in talks with PSG over a new deal, while Haaland is reportedly a priority target for Pep Guardiola's City, and Tebas sees little chance of either player moving to LaLiga.

"How, with a magic trick?" Tebas quipped when asked of the likelihood of seeing Mbappe or Haaland playing in Spain.

"Barca have to move out many players to bring a star, Madrid are not in position to do it either. Apart from the clubs owned by nation states, everyone has financial issues."

Could Harry Kane end up at Real Madrid?

Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland is one of Europe's most sought-after and expensive players, while Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe also commands a hefty fee.

With that in mind, Tottenham's Kane has reportedly emerged as a transfer target in the Spanish capital.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID ADD KANE TO LIST

Real Madrid are interested in signing Tottenham star Harry Kane, according to SER Deportivo.

Madrid have been heavily linked with in-demand Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe.

But Madrid's hierarchy reportedly feel a deal to prise Kane from Tottenham may be easier.

 

ROUND-UP

- Wednesday's Marca and Diario AS newspapers are dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo. Marca claims Ronaldo would exit Juventus to return to Madrid, who he left in 2018. Diario AS says Juve are ready to listen to offers for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner. Ronaldo has also been linked with former club Manchester United.

- Sport reports Manchester City defender Eric Garcia will join Barcelona on a five-year deal. It will be the first major signing under new president Joan Laporta as the LaLiga giants also eye Haaland and look to re-sign superstar captain Lionel Messi, who has been tipped to join either PSG or City on a free transfer at season's end.

- TV3 claims Ronald Koeman will continue as Barca head coach in 2021-22 following talks with Laporta. RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann and club great Xavi had been linked.

Inter are ready to reignite their interest in Udinese star Rodrigo De Paul, claims Calciomercato. The Serie A leaders have previously been linked with the Argentina midfielder. Antonio Conte's Inter are also tracking Madrid outcast Isco, according to Sport.

- L'Equipe claims United are considering a move for Tottenham captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris amid doubts over David de Gea. Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma has also emerged as a possible target.

Bayern Munich are in talks to sign Madrid attacker Lucas Vazquez on a free transfer, according to AS.

Liverpool, Juventus and Roma are among clubs interested in Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez, says AS. The 31-year-old is out of contract at the end of 2021-22.

Real Madrid great Fernando Hierro said the LaLiga champions should sign both Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe.

In-demand Borussia Dortmund sensation Haaland and Paris Saint-Germain star Mbappe have been linked with moves to Madrid.

Madrid captain Sergio Ramos believes it would be easier for Los Blancos to sign Haaland instead of Mbappe due to the financial situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

But former Madrid skipper Hierro – who won five LaLiga titles and three Champions League trophies among other honours during his career at the Santiago Bernabeu – wants the club to bring in both forwards.

"If I were Real Madrid, I would sign Haaland and Mbappe," Hierro told Radio Marca.

The future of Madrid superstar Ramos is also dominating headlines, with the 34-year-old Spain defender out of contract at season's end and no closer to extending his deal.

Ramos has been linked with PSG and Manchester United and there appears to be a significant chance of him opting to move elsewhere after 16 trophy-laden seasons in Madrid.

"I would like Sergio Ramos to continue and retire at Real Madrid," Hierro said.

"But not because of the time he has been there, but because of his performances.

"He is showing that he is still the best in the world. When there is will, people understand each other.

"There are times when the economic situation is not the most important thing and you have to assess where you want to be."

Manchester City have been linked with Erling Haaland.

As Sergio Aguero appears headed for an exit, Pep Guardiola wants to bolster his attack.

But Danny Ings has reportedly emerged as an alternative to the expensive and in-demand Haaland.

 

TOP STORY – CITY TARGET INGS

Manchester City are considering a move for Southampton star Danny Ings, according to Sky Sports.

City's all-time leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero is out of contract at the end of the season and no closer to extending his deal in Manchester.

Pep Guardiola's City are reportedly among the admirers of Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, who has also been linked with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool and Juventus.

With Haaland set to command a huge fee, City are eyeing former Liverpool forward Ings as a cheaper alternative.

 

ROUND-UP

- Gazzetta dello Sport and Corriere dello Sport report Juventus head coach Andrea Pirlo is on the brink of being sacked. Juve are out of the Champions League and 10 points off the pace following their shock loss to Benevento. Former boss Massimiliano Allegri has been linked with a return, while La Repubblica claims Atalanta's Gian Piero Gasperini, Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi and Luciano Spalletti are on a three-man shortlist.

- Former Chelsea and Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri is Roma's number one option should they sack head coach Paulo Fonseca, says Gazzetta dello Sport. Fonseca – under pressure in the Italian capital – has also been linked with Napoli, alongside Hellas Verona's Ivan Juric. Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso has been linked with Fiorentina, Torino and Bologna.

Neymar re-signing with Ligue 1 holders PSG is "just a matter of time", according to Fabrizio Romano.

Aaron Ramsey is interested in a move to Premier League champions Liverpool, according to Calciomercato. The Juventus midfielder, who left Arsenal for Turin in 2019, is seen as a possible replacement for rumoured Barca target Georginio Wijnaldum at Anfield.

- The Daily Express reports Arsenal are eyeing Barcelona misfit Philippe Coutinho. However, a move will depend on whether Arsenal sign loanee Martin Odegaard permanently from Madrid.

Xabi Alonso is set to become the new head coach of Borussia Monchengladbach next season, replacing Dortmund-bound Marco Rose. Romano, however, insists no contract has been signed as the former Bayern Munich star remains in charge of Real Sociedad's B team.

Erling Haaland dismissed speculation over his future, insisting he has three years remaining on his Borussia Dortmund contract.

Haaland continues to take Europe by storm as the Dortmund star reportedly attracts interest from Real Madrid, Manchester City, Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool.

The 20-year-old was asked about his future while on international duty with Norway, who will face Gibraltar in World Cup qualifying on Wednesday.

"I still have three years of contract [at Dortmund]," Haaland told reporters.

"I am not worried about that."

Haaland, who joined Dortmund from Austrian champions Salzburg in January last year, scored twice in Saturday's 2-2 draw away to Cologne.

He took his tally to 14 away goals in the Bundesliga this season, more than Werder Bremen (13), Hertha Berlin (13), Mainz (11), Arminia Bielefeld (10) and Schalke (eight) have scored at home in 2020-21.

Haaland has scored 21 goals in 21 league appearances this season and 33 across all competitions.

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland will "define an era" according to Atletico Madrid forward Luis Suarez, who placed him ahead of Paris Saint-Germain sensation Kylian Mbappe.

Haaland continues to take Europe by storm as the Dortmund forward reportedly attracts interest from Real Madrid, Manchester City, Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool.

The 20-year-old, who joined Dortmund from Salzburg in January last year, scored twice in Saturday's 2-2 draw away to Cologne – the Norway international taking his tally to 14 away goals in the Bundesliga this season, more than Werder Bremen (13), Hertha Berlin (13), Mainz (11), Arminia Bielefeld (10) and Schalke (eight) have scored at home in 2020-21.

Suarez heaped praise on Haaland, who has scored 21 goals in 21 league appearances this season and 33 across all competitions.

"He [Haaland] is a great player, he's at a spectacular level, he has an admirable physical strength," Suarez told Gerard Romero on Twitch.

"He's one of the best number nines in the world and will define an era.

"I'm a bit more in favour of Haaland, but [PSG forward Kylian] Mbappe is at a great level."

Suarez, meanwhile, has flourished since leaving LaLiga powerhouse Barcelona for rivals Atletico at the start of the season.

The 34-year-old Uruguay international reached 500 career goals for club and country after scoring Atletico's winner against Deportivo Alaves on Sunday.

Suarez has scored 19 league goals this season – only former team-mate Lionel Messi (23) has netted on more occasions in 2020-21 – as Atletico top the LaLiga standings by four points.

Eyeing silverware in Madrid, Suarez revealed he still keeps tabs on Messi and Barca, having spent six trophy-laden years at Camp Nou.

"I watch them because I like to watch football, I admire the club I defended and I'm grateful," Suarez added.

"I talk to Leo [Messi] almost daily, but sometimes about the odd game. Everyone knows the love I have for them for what I did there, also for what they have given me."

Erling Haaland is one of the most sought-after players in Europe.

Europe's elite are lining up to sign the Borussia Dortmund sensation.

Barcelona are reportedly prepared to go all out as Haaland grows frustrated in Germany.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND EYES DORTMUND EXIT

Erling Haaland has notified his agent that he wants to leave Borussia Dortmund if they fail to qualify for the Champions League, according to Diario AS.

Haaland is a player in demand following his exploits for Dortmund, heavily linked with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool and Juventus.

Dortmund – through to the 2020-21 quarter-finals – sit outside the Champions League places this season, fifth in the Bundesliga.

Haaland has reportedly given Dortmund an ultimatum should they miss out on Champions League football.

It comes as Sport claims Barca have started to try and raise funds in their pursuit of the Norway international, with the LaLiga giants willing to let two strikers leave.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bild says Germany boss Joachim Low is a candidate for the Real Madrid job should Zinedine Zidane ever leave. Low is set to vacate his post after the reschedule Euro 2020. Telefoot, however, insists Zidane has no intention of leaving ahead of the 2021-22 season.

Liverpool are unaware of Georginio Wijnaldum's reported pre-contract agreement with Barca, claims the Liverpool Echo. Wijnaldum is out of contract at season's end and the Dutchman has been tipped to join Barca.

- United are ready to listen to offers for forward Anthony Martial, claims The Touchline Talk. It comes as the Red Devils seek to sign Haaland.

- Fiorentina are asking €40million for forward Dusan Vlahovic amid links with Milan, reports Calciomercato.

- According to The Transfer Window Podcast, Liverpool are set to rival Arsenal in the race to sign Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard.

PSG are still tracking out-of-favour Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli as the Ligue 1 champions also eye Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, reports Calciomercato.

Could Manchester United turn to a Wolves star?

United have long been linked with Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho.

But the Red Devils are reportedly interested in Pedro Neto.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED PLAN NETO SWOOP

Manchester United are considering a £50million move for Wolves star Pedro Neto , according to The Sun.

Borussia Dortmund's  Jadon Sancho  has topped United's list of attacking targets – the Premier League giants almost signed the England international at the start of the season.

But United see Portuguese winger Neto as an alternative at Old Trafford.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Sun reports Serie A leaders Inter have joined the chase for Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero , who is out of contract at season's end. City's all-time leading goalscorer has been linked with Barcelona , Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea . The Nerazzurri are also reportedly monitoring Edinson Cavani 's situation. The United forward, who signed a one-year deal at the start of the season, is rumoured to be talking to Boca Juniors .

Real Madrid will pay David Alaba , his father and agent €20m if he arrives from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, claims Mundo Deportivo. Alaba's contract will expire at the end of the season and the Austria international has been tipped to move to the Santiago Bernabeu. However, Barca , Liverpool and PSG have also been linked.

- Calciomercato says Roma , Inter and Milan are interested in Udinese goalkeeper Juan Musso .

Milan are considering a move for CSKA Moscow star Nikola Vlasic  should Hakan Calhanoglu leave on a free transfer, reports Calciomercato. While the Croatia international has a €35m release clause for foreign clubs, Russian giants CSKA could settle for €28-30m.

Borussia Dortmund star Jude Bellingham revealed he received racist abuse on social media as the Bundesliga club and England showed their support.

Bellingham was the subject of abuse following Dortmund's 2-2 draw with Cologne in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

The 17-year-old England midfielder shared a screen grab of racist emojis that were sent to him via Instagram, with the caption: "Just another day on social media…"

Dortmund condemned racism post-match, tweeting: "We stand with you @BellinghamJude. Racism belongs nowhere #BorussiaVerbindet."

England also showed their support on Twitter, adding:  "We continue to be disgusted by the discriminatory abuse our players - and others across the game - are being subjected to online.

"Something needs to change. We stand with you, @BellinghamJude."

Bellingham has score one goal in 35 appearances in all competitions for Dortmund after arriving from Birmingham City at the start of the season.

Dortmund are fifth in the standings, four points adrift of the top four and 18 points behind leaders Bayern Munich.

Bellingham and Dortmund are set to face Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Borussia Dortmund interim head coach Edin Terzic hailed Erling Haaland but insisted the Bundesliga club cannot always rely on the star forward following his brace.

Haaland scored twice – including a 90th-minute equaliser – as Dortmund salvaged a 2-2 draw away to lowly Cologne on Saturday.

Linked with Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus, Haaland opened the scoring in the third minute.

However, two unanswered goals put Cologne ahead before Haaland rescued a point for Dortmund with a last-gasp leveller on the road.

Haaland has scored 14 away goals in the Bundesliga this season – more than Werder Bremen (13), Hertha Berlin (13), Mainz (11), Arminia Bielefeld (10) and Schalke (eight) have scored at home in 2020-21 as Terzic lauded the Norway international.

"Erling's qualities can't be hidden from anyone," Terzic told reporters post-match after Haaland left the field frustrated.

"He scored another two goals today and had, I think, five chances in total. But sill you could see his disappointment today because he wanted to leave the pitch with three points.

"His will to win is what makes him so special. He shows that to us every day and to the rest one or two times a week.

"We are very happy to have him with us but that doesn't mean that we will do less. We will keep on helping him so he can help us."

For the first time since 2005, neither Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo will be involved in the Champions League quarter-finals.  

While Barcelona's exit to last season's runners-up Paris Saint-Germain was perhaps not too much of a surprise, few saw Juventus coming out on the wrong end of an upset against Porto in the last 16.  

So, could we be witnessing a changing of the guard in the competition? Is it a case of out with the old, in with the new? 

While Messi and Ronaldo have dominated in Europe through the years, a collection of some of the most promising talents in the world game have the chance to take centre stage now.

 

Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)

Even by his own prolific standards, Haaland has been in sensational scoring form in the tournament so far.

His 10 goals in six games includes scoring a brace in each leg of the last-16 tie with Sevilla, helping Borussia Dortmund progress to the quarters.  

The Norwegian striker managed the same number in a Champions League campaign last season that saw him represent both BVB and Salzburg. Forget just breaking the record as the fastest to 20 goals, he has shattered it. Harry Kane was previously the quickest to reach that number, doing so in 24 games – Haaland managed it in just 14. 

His big chance conversion rate this season sits at a clinical 81.9 per cent, while he has also demonstrated his all-round impact by creating eight chances for his BVB colleagues.  

Next in his sights is Manchester City, a team with family ties as his father, Alf-Inge, played for the English club in the early 2000s. Haaland has been linked with them too, along with plenty of other clubs, and Pep Guardiola has been suitably impressed by a player who does not turn 21 until July.  

"The numbers speak for themselves, of course he is one of the best strikers in the world right now at his age," said Guardiola, who will be well aware that Haaland has the potential to ruin City's hopes of European glory. 

 

Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

Mbappe has six goals to his name in European outings in 2020-21, the same tally team-mate Neymar has managed for a PSG squad aiming to go one better than last year.

The France international hit a hat-trick in a 4-1 thrashing of Barcelona at Camp Nou, joining Faustino Asprilla and Andriy Shevchenko as the only players to record a Champions League treble against the Spanish heavyweights.  

He was also on target when scoring a penalty in the drawn second leg, in the process becoming the youngest player to reach 25 goals in the competition, aged 22 years and 80 days. Messi was on the same pitch at the time his record was broken. 

Mbappe has also demonstrated how he can provide for others, too. No forward from any of the teams still in contention can top his three assists, while only Karim Benzema (15) has bettered his total of 14 chances created. 

PSG will be hoping the forward can continue his fine form when they take on Bayern Munich in a repeat of last year's final.

Phil Foden (Manchester City)

After three starts in the Champions League last season, Foden has risen from the periphery to become a prominent figure for Guardiola.  

Only goalkeeper Ederson has played more minutes in the campaign so far for City than the versatile 20-year-old, who has contributed a goal and two assists to help ensure smooth progress to the last eight.  

Foden has created the most chances for City during his appearances, his tally of 12 putting him just ahead of Kevin De Bruyne (11), while he has also been successful with 64.7 per cent of his attempted dribbles.  

The playmaker is set to feature in the Champions League knockout stage for a fourth season before turning 21 – a feat only previously achieved by Cesc Fabregas (2004-05 to 2007-08) and Theo Walcott (2006-07 to 2009-10).  

In the Premier League, Foden's 20 goal involvements (11 goals, nine assists) is comfortably the most by anyone aged 21 or under, showing just why he is no longer one to watch for the future but a player for the present, both for club and country.

Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich)

It is not often a full-back catches the eye to the level that Davies managed during Bayern's triumphant Champions League run in 2019-20.  

The most eye-catching moment of all surely came in his side's 8-2 rout of Barcelona in a quarter-final result that sent shock waves across European football, as he initially beat two opposing players before breezing beyond poor Nelson Semedo to set up a goal for Joshua Kimmich, one of his three assists in the competition.  

Having arrived at the Bundesliga club as a left winger, the conversion to defence was made as quickly as he sprints up and down his flank (he clocked a top speed of 36.51 kilometres per hour in a Bundesliga game against Werder Bremen last year, the quickest speed recorded since such data began to be collected).  

His participation in the group stage this season was limited by an ankle injury, with the 4-1 first-leg victory over Lazio in the last 16 just his second start.  

However, the Canada international had no problems upon his return, having 101 touches (second only to team-mate David Alaba) while topping the list for Bayern in terms of tackles (four) and number of times possession was gained from the opposition (seven).

Pep Guardiola has no regrets over Jadon Sancho's decision to leave Manchester City, insisting he is thrilled the winger has gone on to become a star for Borussia Dortmund. 

Frustrated by the lack of a clear pathway from City's academy through to the first team, Sancho left Manchester in 2017 to continue his career in Germany, just a year into Guardiola's tenure. 

It was hailed as a brave decision by the 17-year-old at the time, though he broke into Dortmund's side during his first season with the club, scoring once in 12 league appearances. However, Sancho blossomed from a promising talent to a verified superstar during the 2018-19 campaign.  

He will get the chance to shine against his former side in the Champions League next month, with Dortmund drawn against City in the quarter-finals. 

Yet despite Sancho's transformation into one of Europe's finest attacking talents, Guardiola has no hard feelings over the player's choice to leave City. 

"I said many times, not a regret, he decides," Guardiola told a news conference. 

"He's doing really well, congratulations, an exceptional player. A national team player with huge quality, doing really well in Dortmund. 

"We wanted him to stay but he decided to leave – when they decide to leave all we can do is [let them] leave. I wish him all the best except when he plays against us. If he's happy, I'm happy." 

Since the start of the 2018-19 season, Sancho has provided 48 assists across all competitions – 22 more than Marco Reus, who ranks second for Dortmund across the same period of time – with BVB winning 72 of the 118 games he has featured in. 

Only Erling Haaland (47) can better Sancho's goal tally of 45, while he leads the way for chances created with 251 – an impressive 101 more than second-placed Raphael Guerreiro. 

Of those opportunities, 56 have been categorised as 'big chances', which are judged by Opta as those where it is expected a player should score. 

Sancho also compares favourably when up against some of City's squad. Only the exceptional Kevin De Bruyne has created more chances (343) in the same timeframe, while the Belgian has crafted 87 big chances. 

De Bruyne's assist tally stands at 48, level with Sancho, who ranks behind just City trio Raheem Sterling (69), Sergio Aguero (58) and Gabriel Jesus (56) in terms of goals scored.

Guardiola, though, remains philosophical about Sancho's choice.  

"Nobody knows – maybe he stays and we don't play good or better. Every person decides the life they lead, other people have to respect it," he continued. "We want him, he decides to go, all the best." 

Seven of Sancho's goals have come from fast breaks, outlining his importance to Dortmund when they are able to counter-attack opponents. 

Haaland is second in Dortmund's squad in that regard with five fast-break goals, with Guardiola well aware of the task City face in trying to keep BVB's vibrant attack at bay. 

"We will face him, try to control him. We know the quality he has, everyone knows," said Guardiola of Haaland, son of former City player Alf-Inge. 

"The individual quality in Dortmund is from all departments, a strong team. In the Champions League, they always have done well."

Pep Guardiola proclaimed Erling Haaland to be one of the best strikers in the world, though he refused to be drawn on transfer speculation linking Manchester City to the Borussia Dortmund star after the two teams were drawn together in the Champions League. 

Haaland appears to be the main threat as Guardiola seeks to avoid a fourth consecutive quarter-final exit in Europe's top competition, while there will also be a reunion with ex-City youngster and England winger Jadon Sancho. 

As Sergio Aguero's contract runs down and City's all-time leading goalscorer struggles for minutes, rumours linking the Premier League leaders and Haaland – whose father Alf-Inge captained City at the start of the century – have mounted. 

Speaking after Friday's Champions League draw, which also mapped out a route to the final that will see the winner of City v Dortmund face either holders Bayern Munich or Paris Saint-Germain in the semis, Guardiola conceded this season's hectic schedule had not granted him too much time to watch BVB. 

However, he is well aware of their main man. 

"The numbers speak for themselves, of course he is one of the best strikers in the world right now at his age," he said at a news conference to preview Saturday's FA Cup quarter-final trip to Everton. 

"I saw few games, honestly, I didn't have much time. But I saw the highlights and the numbers in the Champions League and the Bundesliga are impressive. 

"Dortmund, I know [Mats] Hummels, [Raphael] Guerreiro, Emre Can with good experience, [Axel] Witsel, the quality of their players, Jadon Sancho and [Giovanni] Reyna. 

"There are many, many young players with quality. In the last years they to invested in young players, paying good wages and good salaries for the agents and they have a lot of quality there. 

"They were able to go through against Sevilla. Sevilla, in knockout competitions, is one of the strongest teams ever. They won three Europa Leagues in a row and last season won it again. Always they are so strong, and Dortmund were able to beat them." 

Only Bayern Munich superstar Robert Lewandowski (39) has more goals across all competitions in Europe's top five leagues than Haaland's tally of 31 in 2020-21. 

Among players to have netted 15 or more times, the Norway international has the best shot conversion rate (32.3 per cent) and averages a goal every 82.3 minutes. 

They are the sort of returns to ignite a bidding war, although not one that Guardiola was keen to fuel. 

"He's a player from Borussia Dortmund. I don't like it when people talk about our players," he replied when asked whether he would like Haaland at City from next season. 

"He's a player for Borussia Dortmund. You understand I cannot answer this question."  

Before tackling potentially Europe's strongest force of the coming decade in Haaland, Guardiola must first deal with one of the continent's most revered coaches in the form of Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti. 

The City manager paid a warm tribute to his opposite number, reflecting upon when Ancelotti offered guidance to him at the start of his coaching career. 

"I don’t know how many years he has been a manager but at some of the best clubs in Europe – Madrid, PSG, Chelsea, Milan, Juventus, Napoli and now Everton," he said. 

"He has been abroad and everywhere and all the places he had success. 

"I know when people talk about him as manager and as a person… especially how he took care of me when I started. 

"I visited him when he was in Milan in my first years. He was so kind, we spoke a little bit about life and football. 

"You feel when people take care of you, they are good people, and he's one of them, for sure."

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