RB Leipzig boss Marco Rose brushed off fresh speculation about Christopher Nkunku's future after the France international was strongly linked with Chelsea.

Reports have suggested Nkunku's Leipzig contract contains a £52.4million (€60m) release clause, and Chelsea are said to be keen suitors of the prolific attacker.

Nkunku scored 35 goals and added 20 assists in all competitions during a remarkable individual campaign last term, and has already scored six times in the Bundesliga this season.

With Nkunku likely to play a pivotal role when Leipzig attempt to get off the mark in the Champions League against Celtic on Wednesday, Rose is ignoring transfer rumours.

"It's speculation, we don't comment on it. It doesn't bother us, it doesn't interest us," the former Borussia Dortmund coach said.

Chelsea head coach Graham Potter took a similar stance ahead of the Blues' Champions League clash with Milan, saying: "As I've said before, my answer is I don't speak about players that aren't Chelsea players.

"If you want to ask me about any Chelsea players, I'm quite happy to speak about them. It was the same at Brighton. You get linked with a lot of players; there's a lot of names out there.

"As you can imagine, it gets escalated at a club like Chelsea. I'll speak about Chelsea players and not comment about anybody else."

Nkunku has been involved in eight Champions League goals since the start of last season (seven goals, one assist) – twice as many as any of his Leipzig team-mates (four – Emil Forsberg and Andre Silva).

However, the versatile 24-year-old is yet to score or assist in the competition this campaign, with Leipzig suffering back-to-back losses against Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Madrid.

Should Leipzig be beaten on Wednesday, it will represent the second consecutive Champions League campaign in which the Bundesliga outfit have started with three losses, and Rose is wary of the threat posed by Celtic.

"They have a team which is very active on the pitch, with a lot of pace. They are very attacking with a clear idea," Rose said.

"They are hard-working. They have two or three lads from Japan. It's fun watching them. It's just a great team and not a team that thinks defensively or about parking the bus.

"It will be our task to put them in difficulties. We will find spaces and we will try to take advantage."

Manchester United have already conceded 14 goals in seven Premier League games this season.

United boss Erik ten Hag is weighing up his goalkeeping options, having stuck with long-term number one David de Gea since taking over.

Reports have emerged that United and De Gea are set for talks on his future, with the 31-year-old's deal to expire in 2023.

TOP STORY – MAN UTD EYE COSTA AS DE GEA REPLACEMENT

Manchester United's goalkeeper situation is in flux, with the club interested in Porto custodian Diogo Costa, according to Metro.

United have sent scouts to watch the 23-year-old goalkeeper, who has seven caps for Portugal.

The Red Devils are looking for De Gea's successor, with the Spaniard seemingly not suiting Ten Hag's possession-based style.

United also have 25-year-old England international Dean Henderson out on loan at Nottingham Forest.

ROUND-UP

– O Jogo claims former Olympiacos manager Pedro Martins could be the latest Portuguese coach to take over at Wolves, following Bruno Lage's dismissal on Sunday. The Telegraph reports that under-fire Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui may be considered and Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has also been discussed.

Juventus and Real Madrid will rival Liverpool in the race to sign Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans from Leicester City, claims Calciomercato.

– LaLiga pair Sevilla and Valencia are both interested in Manchester United forward Anthony Martial, reports Todofichajes.

Tottenham and Juventus target Nicolo Zaniolo is set to pen a new deal with Roma, re-committing on a €4million per-year deal until 2027, according to Calciomercato.

– Everton's Venezuela international striker Salomon Rondon has interest from UAE club Sharjah FC but is likely to stay with the Toffees, reports Liverpool Echo.

Ange Postecoglou criticised Celtic's "work ethic" as the Scottish Premiership champions suffered a first league defeat in 364 days at St Mirren on Sunday.

Mark O'Hara headed the Paisley side ahead in the first half, before Jonah Ayunga added a second after the break to inflict a first defeat on Celtic since September 19 last year.

The loss was just Celtic's second in their past 27 visits to St Mirren, and Postecoglou accepted his side were well off their usual standards. 

"We just weren't aggressive both in action and in thought," he said. "We kind of tried to ease our way into a game of football and you just can't do that. You've got to be at it from the start and we weren't. 

"You don't put it down to one of those days; it's a disappointing day. We pride ourselves on having certain standards and we didn't reach those. And football will always teach you that lesson.

"What has got us to this point over the past 15 or 16 months is having a certain work ethic and certain levels of performance and belief. We didn't reach any of those. We've got to take the hits when they come and we've just got to get back up and go again.

"We've done that before as a team over the past 15 or 16 months. It's a sore one, it's one that we've got to use as the fuel we need next to get going again.

"We were nowhere near the levels we want to be. Credit to St Mirren. They worked really hard and were really committed to their game plan. They made it hard for us, but we never hit the levels we need to play our football. It's about dusting ourselves off and getting going again."

Celtic have a two-point lead over bitter rivals Rangers at the Scottish Premiership summit ahead of the international break.

UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Celtic over banners on display during their Champions League meeting with Shakhtar Donetsk.

A number of banners referencing the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II could be seen in the Celtic end at Polish Army Stadium in Warsaw, where the sides played out a 1-1 draw on Wednesday.

Celtic now face potential sanctions, with UEFA confirming to Stats Perform on Thursday that disciplinary proceedings are under way.

However, Celtic's rivals Rangers will not face any punishment for defying UEFA's orders by playing the national anthem in tribute to the Queen before their 3-0 loss to Napoli.

A spokesman for the European football governing body said: "The incident is not the subject of any UEFA disciplinary proceedings."

Celtic's five-year wait for a group-stage victory in the Champions League was extended following a 1-1 draw with Shakhtar Donetsk in Warsaw on Wednesday.

A dominant first half saw Ange Postecoglou's side take the lead courtesy of an own goal from Artem Bondarenko, but Mykhailo Mudry's impressive campaign continued as he netted the equaliser.

That Celtic opener came after just 10 minutes when Josip Juranovic's clearance reached Sead Haksabanovic, who teed a pass through to Reo Hatate. His attempted cutback earned a deflection of Bondarenko and squirmed past Anatolii Trubin.

However, Shakhtar equalised against the run of play before the half-hour mark, with Celtic caught out defensively as Heorhii Sudakov sent Mudryk clear to smash high past Joe Hart, adding to his goal and two assists last week against RB Leipzig.

Real Madrid survived a hostile reception and the loss of striker Karim Benzema to injury as they dug deep to begin their Champions League defence with a ruthless 3-0 win at Celtic.

Los Blancos' quest for a record-extending 15th European Cup got off to a bad start when losing star man Benzema to a knee injury with 30 minutes played of Tuesday's opener.

Celtic had already struck the post through Callum McGregor at that point and continued to trouble their opponents on their return to the group stage after four seasons away.

But as they so often did last season, Madrid found a way thanks to quickfire goals from Vinicius Junior and Luka Modric, which Eden Hazard added to with a brilliant third.

Liel Abada and Reo Hatate had both asked questions of Thibaut Courtois in a lively opening half an hour for the hosts at a raucous Celtic Park. 

Ange Postecoglou's side went even closer to scoring when McGregor was picked out by Giorgos Giakoumakis and unleashed a left-footed strike against the frame of the goal.

Madrid lost Benzema to injury soon after but would have been ahead before half-time had Joe Hart not denied Vinicius from a one-on-one.

The visitors, having survived another let-off when substitute Daizen Maeda scuffed a shot at Courtois from close range, opened the scoring 11 minutes into the second half.

Federico Valverde found Vinicius with a lovely ball into the centre of the box at the end of a swift attack, and the forward coolly picked his spot past Hart with a first-time finish.

Madrid had a second four minutes later as Modric, making his 100th appearance for the club in the competition, prodded past Hart with an outside-of-the-boot finish.

It was plain sailing from that point on, and Hazard – the man brought on for Benzema – added a third from close range after some smart play from Toni Kroos and Dani Carvajal at the end of a fine team move.

Karim Benzema limped off the field with half an hour played of Real Madrid's opening Champions League group game against Celtic after sustaining a knee injury.

The 34-year-old, who was considered a doubt ahead of the Group F match at Celtic Park, appeared to pull up after playing a pass and was seen in visible pain.

Benzema attempted to shake off the injury but remained on the field for just a few more minutes before being replaced by Eden Hazard, with the game still goalless at that point.

France international Benzema led the Champions League scoring charts with 15 goals last season and had four goals in five games in all competitions this term prior to Tuesday.

Madrid have a busy run of fixtures ahead, with a LaLiga games against Real Mallorca and Atletico Madrid sandwiching next week's European clash with RB Leipzig.

Istanbul awaits next June, and this week the journey starts as the group stage of the Champions League begins.

Of course, the ultimate goal is to reach the final and lift the trophy. Most will fail in that quest, but that's not to say those who don't win the competition are failures.

Every year we enjoy breakout seasons from individuals in the Champions League as they announce themselves on the biggest stage.

Whether those performances earn big-money moves or simply greater acclaim, you can expect there to be a few players you might not be very familiar with who go on to impress.

Ahead of the first round of games, Stats Perform has identified a few to keep an eye out for.

Tanguy Nianzou, centre-back, 20 – Sevilla

After coming through Paris Saint-Germain's academy and then spending a season at Bayern Munich, France youth international Nianzou joined Sevilla as the replacement for Jules Kounde in pre-season.

It's been a rocky start for the youngster. He's part of a defence that's looked extremely unconvincing, with their expected goals against (excluding penalties) of 7.5 the second-worst in LaLiga after four games, three of which Sevilla have lost.

On matchday one, Nianzou will come up against Erling Haaland and Manchester City. The defender is very highly rated, but this will be a massive test of his readiness for regular football at such a level.

Goncalo Ramos, forward, 21 – Benfica

If you believe transfer gossip, there were plenty of clubs ready to prise Ramos from Benfica in the transfer window, but ultimately he stayed put and will be considered Darwin Nunez's replacement this season.

A well-rounded striker, Ramos works hard, is up for a physical battle and is technically proficient. Last season, he scored seven Primeira Liga goals as back-up to Nunez, although his early form in that regard this term suggests work is needed.

His two strikes from 3.9 xG show he's getting into good situations but isn't yet proving clinical – albeit he did net four in Champions League qualifying.

Benfica are in a group with Juventus and PSG, so they'll hope Ramos finds a reliable streak to aid their outside chance of progression.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, winger, 21 – Napoli

The first winner of Serie A's Player of the Month award of the new season – and in his very first month in the league – it's been some introduction from Kvaratskhelia.

He was playing back home in Georgia in the second half of last season after being able to suspend his contract at Rubin Kazan amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine. His deal was then terminated by Rubin after it emerged he was subject to death threats after leaving.

Kvaratskhelia had been linked with numerous big clubs but eventually landed at Napoli as Lorenzo Insigne's replacement. They may not be anything alike as players, but that's not stopped Kvaratskhelia having a major early impact with four goals in five Serie A games.

A tall winger who possesses great dribbling skills, he's a player primed to make a statement this season.

Lorenzo Lucca, striker, 21 – Ajax

He may only be 21, but Lucca's fledgling career has already been somewhat nomadic, finding himself registered as a senior player at six clubs – the latest being Ajax, whom he joined on loan with an option to buy from Serie B side Pisa.

Remarkably, the last of his six league goals for Pisa last season came in October, so it's clear the jury is still out and he has a lot to prove, but he has the attributes to be a threat for any team.

Standing at just over two metres tall, Lucca is a giant, yet he also possesses a surprising turn of pace and is technically very good. The Italy Under-21 international has only played 21 minutes with the first team this season, but he has three goals in two games for the second string.

It's unlikely he'll be a key figure for Ajax, but given his skillset he will be a viable option at times – let's just see if he can take his chances.

Matt O'Riley, midfielder, 21 – Celtic

Last season, O'Riley was playing in League One for MK Dons; on Tuesday, he'll likely line-up against Real Madrid. It's been quite a quick ascension for the gifted midfielder.

A product of Fulham's academy, O'Riley left the Cottagers stunned when he rejected a new contract in 2020. He spent six months training with Dons and then signed for them in January 2021 – that saw him exposed to first-team football and a year later he was at Celtic.

The London-born Denmark Under-21 international has enjoyed a wonderful start to the season, with his vision and ball-playing abilities marking him out as a real creative threat and earning links to Manchester United.

How he fares in the Champions League with the step up in quality could prove crucial with respect to his short-term future.

Carlo Ancelotti believes the biggest unknown surrounding Real Madrid's potential defence of the Champions League is the prospective physical condition of his players when they return from the World Cup.

Madrid begin their quest for a 15th European Cup on Tuesday when they visit Scottish champions Celtic.

The group stage is condensed this season because of the World Cup, moved from its usual Northern Hemisphere summer slot to November because of the extreme heat in Qatar.

Teams involved in the group stage will play six games in under two months, with the battle for a place in the last 16 coming to a close on November 2.

On top of domestic commitments, that makes for a crowded fixture list. Yet Ancelotti is less concerned with the effects of the schedule than he is about the potential toll on his squad of playing in a mid-season World Cup.

"Until the World Cup, I think we won't have any problems," Ancelotti said of the unusually busy fixture list. 

"The players are prepared and motivated. The question is how the World Cup players will return. It cannot be known."

Madrid are not seen as favourites for the Champions League despite their remarkable run last season. Los Blancos delivered thrilling comebacks against Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City before beating Liverpool 1-0 in the final.

City are the bookmakers' favourites ahead of PSG, Liverpool and Bayern Munich. Ancelotti, though, is happy his team are not in the top four in that sense.

"I'm not surprised. I see it as a good sign," he added. "I think that last year we had even less probability in the statistics. So we have improved. 

"What happened last year will happen. We are going to compete until the end and hopefully we will compete in the final."

Ancelotti's team are, however, overwhelming favourites to win Group F, which also features RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk, as well as Celtic.

But Ancelotti pointed to Madrid's shock home defeat to Sheriff Tiraspol in last season's group stage when asked about their seemingly easy draw.

"It is not an easy group, because we know the teams very well," said Ancelotti. "Celtic are doing very well, we have to respect them, like Leipzig and Shakhtar. 

"In the group stage, there are surprises, especially in the first half. We have a pretty vivid memory of last season with Sherriff at home. We respect the group and I think it will be an even group."

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou declared Celtic will be "hard to stop" if they maintain their current form after watching the Bhoys tear Rangers apart in a 4-0 Old Firm derby success.

A Liel Abada brace, as well as goals from Jota and David Turnbull, moved the scintillating Scottish Premiership champions five points clear of their historic rivals in the early-season table on Saturday.

Celtic are now unbeaten in 38 league games, and have scored 25 goals in their opening six matches of the 2022-23 campaign.

Speaking to the BBC after the win, Postecoglou said: "We have been in excellent form and I'm really proud of the players.

"It was a big game today, we knew that, a big occasion against a really good team, and I thought the boys were outstanding from start to finish."

Asked about the importance of the Hoops' commanding lead over Rangers in the standings, the Australian said: "What's more important to me is how we're playing, every week we've got a little bit better, and that's a good indicator. 

"That's a better indicator. You can win games in many ways and grind things out, but our form's been outstanding.

"If we can keep going like that, we're going to be hard to stop."

Postecoglou's counterpart Giovanni van Bronckhorst, meanwhile, was left deflated by a series of defensive errors as he pledged the Gers will not make the same mistakes in the future.

"You know the start you have is very important in how the game will develop," he said. "We knew the threat they had with quick throw-ins and free-kicks.

"We were exposed twice, which gave two goals away. For me, that's very disappointing. We knew they were going to [restart quickly] and still we weren't prepared enough.

"Everyone needs to reflect in what they did well and what they did wrong, same for me.

"There are still a lot of games to be played, plus three games against Celtic.

"We have to move on, get stronger and make sure the moments we had here never happen again, no matter who we play."

Liel Abada's first-half double laid the bedrock for a rousing Celtic victory, as they claimed the Old Firm bragging rights with a 4-0 thrashing of Rangers.

Abada was in superb form as he helped fire the hosts to a sixth successive victory of the Scottish Premiership season, with Jota and David Turnbull also on the scoresheet at Celtic Park.

The win moved Ange Postecoglou's side five points clear at the top ahead of their Champions League meeting with Real Madrid next week.

For Giovanni van Bronckhorst's visitors however, it laid bare the gulf in quality, and checks the Gers' momentum before their midweek trip to Ajax.

Celtic had to recover from an early blow when Kyogo Furuhashi, the league's top scorer, was forced off clutching his shoulder following a collision with John Lundstram.

Yet those early fears turned to joy when Celtic seized the first chance of the game – Abada turning Matt O'Riley's cross in off Jon McLaughlin's palm with a lunging volley.

O'Riley provided again for the Bhoys to double the lead, with a superb ball for Jota, who turned home sharply, and Celtic's fans were in dreamland when Abada doubled his tally with a first-touch finish from six yards out.

With a three-goal deficit to overturn after the break, Rangers had to make some kind of change, with Scott Wright thrown on for Glen Kamara, but that gamble failed to stem the Celtic onslaught.

Celtic seldom let their foot off the pedal, and when McLaughlin played a short goal-kick straight to Turnbull, an easy finish sealed the deal for the hosts in emphatic, dominant fashion.

What does it mean? Celtic cement frontrunner status

Twenty-five goals in the space of six league games is not just an impressive haul, it is positively confirmatory for Celtic's title hopes, even at this early stage.

Even before their free-scoring performance in the derby, they had not netted as many goals as they had by this stage of any previous SPL season. They look impossible to stop.

Bhoys buck bad starts

The first league Old Firm derby of a season has been won by Rangers in both of the last two campaigns. Before that, Celtic had won four in a row – and now they have shaken off the slow form that has cost them the past two years.

Van Bronckhorst makes unwanted history

Rangers are yet to win an Old Firm league derby under the Dutchman. It makes him the fourth such man to fail to register a win in his first four encounters, after William Wilton in 1892, William Waddell in 1971 and Graeme Murty in 2018.

What's next?

Both teams enter the Champions League group stages against two European heavyweights, with Celtic welcoming Madrid and Rangers travelling to Ajax.

Celtic made history as they thrashed struggling Dundee United 9-0 in the Scottish Premiership.

Kyogo Furuhashi and Liel Abada both helped themselves to hat-tricks in what was Celtic's largest competitive win on the road in their history.

United had taken just one point from their first four matches, though Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou had warned his team against complacency before kick-off.

"We always go in and expect that they'll be at their best, but what we know is if we're at our best, we're difficult to stop, and that's the things we can control and that's what we’ll be trying to do," he told Sky Sports.

It proved to be the case as the Hoops swept aside their opponents to move back above Rangers at the summit of the league, maintaining their 100 per cent start to the season in the process.

All of Kyogo's goals came in the first half and Celtic went into the interval 4-0 up thanks to Jota.

Abada's trio of strikes came between the 50th and 77th minutes – Josip Juranovic got on the scoresheet in that time, too – with Carl Starfelt applying the finishing touch late on.

"The boys were great, disciplined and focused," Postecoglou said in his post-match interview with Sky Sports.

"It was important we set our stall early and really put them under pressure. In the end, we kind of wore them down, our goals were really good."

Kyogo also provided an assist to go with his hat-trick, and Postecoglou said of the forward: "He's great, he's been great all along, he's such an important part of what we do.

"It's not just his goals, it's the way he harasses the opponents, it's his overall work rate. All our strikers work really hard, but they get the rewards."

Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland will swiftly come toe-to-toe with their former teammates following Thursday's group-stage draw for the Champions League.

Fresh from his move to Camp Nou in the transfer window, Lewandowski will return to familiar surroundings with Barcelona and Bayern Munich – who boast 11 Champions League titles between them – drawn in a tough Group C along with Inter.

And another reunion will see Haaland come up against Borussia Dortmund, whom he left to join Pep Guardiola's Manchester City. They find themselves in Group G alongside Sevilla and Copenhagen.

Another heavyweight clash will take place in Group H, with Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus set to lock horns.

Wednesday's Europa League final is set to attract over 150,000 Eintracht Frankfurt and Rangers fans to Seville, despite well under a third of that total having tickets.

With neither club having won a continental trophy since Eintracht lifted the UEFA Cup in 1980, this final has truly captured the imagination of supporters who certainly wouldn't have had grand expectations of getting this far.

But for Rangers especially, there's an air of destiny about their journey to the final – or, more specifically, host city Seville.

While perhaps not obvious, Scottish football can claim several football links to Andalusia's capital.

Perhaps Rangers' passage – and potential victory – were meant to be…

Sevilla's Scottish roots

These links go back as far as 1890, when a group of British men in Seville celebrated Burns Night by founding Club de Football de Sevilla.

Edward Farguharson Johnston of Elgin and Hugh MacColl, from Glasgow, were among the club's founders, with the latter appointed as Sevilla's first ever captain.

Sevilla's founding and debut match were first described in The Dundee Courier six weeks after that fateful Burns Night, with Recreativo Huelva their opponents in the first official match ever played in Spain on March 8, 1890. Sevilla won 2-0.

While Recreativo were Spain's first sports club, the match against Sevilla makes Los Nervionenses – whose Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium provides the setting for Wednesday's final – the oldest club dedicated solely to football in the country.

And it's partly thanks to a Glaswegian.

Betis' homage to Celtic

A Spanish man named Manuel Asensio Ramos studied in Scotland as a young adult, taking on Celtic as his adopted club while he was there.

He later returned home to Spain and became one of the founding members of Real Betis, who subsequently donned green and white stripes as a tribute to Celtic from 1911.

Celtic had changed to their famous hoops eight years earlier, but the link was set in history.

Five years ago, Betis briefly switched to hoops for a match against Malaga to celebrate Andalusia Day, with Celtic communicating their delight at the club choosing "to wear the hoops for their special day".

The Bhoys from Seville

Of course, 2022 isn't the first time one of the Glasgow giants has been in Seville for a European final.

Nineteen years ago, Celtic reached the UEFA Cup final, facing Jose Mourinho's Porto at the Estadio La Cartuja on the outskirts of the city – that is also the location of Rangers' 'fan zone' this week.

'The Bhoys from Seville' was the nickname bestowed upon Celtic for the trip, with the tag a pun on their 'the Boys from Brazil' moniker.

Celtic ultimately lost 3-2 via the silver goal rule in extra time, but the occasion is still widely remembered fondly by the club and supporters, 80,000 of whom were said to be in Seville for the festivities.

Fans of the club were widely commended for their behaviour in the city, with UEFA and FIFA later awarding them Fair Play Awards.

Glasgow returns the favour

Four years after Seville played host to Celtic, Glasgow welcome Sevilla and Espanyol for the 2007 UEFA Cup final.

Hampden Park was the location of Sevilla's second successive triumph in the competition, beating their LaLiga rivals 3-1 on penalties after a gripping 2-2 draw over 120 minutes.

Despite Celtic's links to Betis, it was widely felt by Sevilla fans in attendance that Bhoys supporters were cheering on Los Nervionenses, while Rangers aficionados adopted Espanyol as their team.

Dani Alves was the only Sevilla player to miss his penalty, while Andres Palop in the Andalusians' net made three vital saves.

Ange Postecoglou revealed he had achieved a "dream" that had been his "lifelong obsession" after overseeing Celtic's Scottish Premiership title triumph.

Celtic needed only a point on Wednesday to clinch top spot ahead of rivals and reigning champions Rangers, and they got exactly that thanks to a 1-1 draw at Dundee United.

It completes a stunning turnaround under Postecoglou, who arrived at the start of this season after Celtic had finished the last campaign 25 points off the pace.

The Bhoys recovered from early setbacks, though, and were deserving champions with a game to spare.

"It's been a hell of a season," Postecoglou told BBC Sport. "Our starting point was a fair way back, and the way this group of players and staff has risen to the challenge – I couldn't be more proud.

"It's fairly overwhelming. It's taken every ounce of me to get us where we are, and when you get to the finish line, you just want to collapse.

"We've been focused all season, not getting distracted by anything. The players were really good at dealing with what was in front of them – and that's not easy to do.

"The dream was always to manage a famous club and try to make an impact. When something is almost a lifelong obsession and you finally get there, it's hard to put into words.

"It almost feels like two seasons in one. We've jammed in a rebuilding season and a season to win. We had a lot of work to do, and with the support of everyone at the club, we got there."

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