Atletico Madrid are reportedly ready to part ways with their club-record signing, setting a €100million asking price for Portuguese forward Joao Felix.

Felix, 23, was purchased from Benfica back in 2019 for a fee of €126m – shattering their transfer record by more than €50m.

He helped Atletico to a LaLiga title in the 2020-21 season, before being named the club's Player of the Season for the 2021-22 campaign, but he has now fallen out of favour, starting just five of his side's 14 league games.

Felix has been able to put himself in the shop window during his two starts to begin Portugal's World Cup group stage, including a goal against Ghana, and now Champions League contenders are expected to come calling in January.

 

TOP STORY – PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN NAMED AS ONE OF THREE SUITORS FOR FELIX

Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Manchester United have been named the main interested parties by Spanish publication AS.

The report states Felix's relationship with head coach Diego Simeone has become too strained to continue persisting, and includes a claim that Atletico rejected a €130m offer from United before the season.

With his contract tying him to the club until 2026, there will be no need to settle for an offer deemed unsatisfactory, but AS believes anything approaching that €100m figure – including bonuses – will be enough to get a deal done.

 

ROUND-UP

– Sport is reporting Barcelona view 32-year-old Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan as a potential replacement for Sergio Busquets when the German international's contract expires after the season.

– According to Express, Saudi Arabian clubs Al Hilal and Al-Nassr are considered the leading candidates to fight it out for ex-United superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

Paris Saint-Germain will offer Lionel Messi a new contract at the conclusion of the World Cup, according to Goal.

Chelsea and Newcastle United are competing to land 18-year-old Vasco da Gama midfielder Andrey Santos, per 90min.

– Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting Milan would like to bring in Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech on a loan deal with the option to make it permanent, but the Moroccan's contract demands could be too expensive.

Usain Bolt says he is disappointed to see Cristiano Ronaldo exit Manchester United, crediting the forward for keeping the club in the Premier League last season.

The Portugal captain departed Old Trafford by mutual consent last month following an explosive interview that saw him roundly criticise the club, manager Erik ten Hag and owners, the Glazer family.

It came after a difficult first season back following his return to the club from Juventus, in which the veteran striker looked ill at ease under interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

Now Bolt, an eight-time Olympic gold medal winner and United supporter, says he is disheartened by the star's exit, but stresses he understands his reasons.

"It's sad to see him go," said Bolt of Ronaldo. "He played such an important role for us last season. He kept us in the Premier League last season. Because many games he was the one he scored, kept giving us points.

"So it is sad to see him go, but I understand by listening to his interview there is a lot going on that a lot of us don't know.

"I wish him all the best on his journey because I am a massive Cristiano Ronaldo fan. So it is sad to see him gone."

The exit of Ronaldo has prefaced a potential sale by the Glazer family, who have long been the target of ire from the club's fanbase, and Bolt adds that it has been something supporters have been keen to see for a while.

"For me, it has been [a] long time [coming] for the fans," he added. "[They] have spoken about this for years. Since Alex Ferguson [left], the club has been up and down,

"It surprised me as a supporter to know that the club hasn't really moved on technology-wise to try to improve and to help the players to move forward.

"So, to get new owners, hopefully they'll come in and develop the club in a way that is necessary."

Fernando Santos has no issues with rotating his squad in Portugal's final Group H match against South Korea.

Portugal's place in the knockout stage of the World Cup was assured when they beat Uruguay 2-0 on Monday.

While top spot in the group is not secured ahead of the meeting with Korea at Education City Stadium, Portugal's goal difference (+3) puts them in prime position to go through as winners.

Santos suggested he will make the changes, but he believes utilising more of his 26-man squad is the only way his team will develop.

"We must continue to grow. To me the most important thing is the confidence I have in all of my players, I trust all of them," he said at a press conference on Thursday.

"We have at least three who will definitely play. As for the others, we will have to see.

"The players are in great shape, but we have begun to see fatigue, which can lead to injuries. We have another player who is somewhat fatigued and we'll have to look into that, but we also have to deal with the bookings we have got. 

"I'm very confident about who I'll be putting on the pitch. We have to understand for every match we have to make these decisions and I have to play the team I am most confident in regardless of previous results."

 

Asked if Ronaldo, who thought he had scored a 119th international goal when he tried to nudge home Bruno Fernandes' cross against Uruguay, would feature, Santos replied: "If he is well enough physically, he will be playing.

"I don't know if the chance is even 50-50, it depends on our training session. It depends if nothing happens and he will be able to play."

Winning the group would mean Portugal are likely to avoid a last-16 tie with Brazil, who look set to claim first place in Group G.

Santos is less concerned about the prospect of facing Brazil than he is about having fewer days in-between matches, however, as winning the group would mean Portugal play their last-16 match on Tuesday rather than Monday.

"At this stage, in terms of not running into Brazil – we're not really concerned about that at this point," Santos explained.

"When you come to a World Cup you strive to achieve something very important, so it's much more important to have at least 24 hours for the players to recover.

"I hope they will all be ready to play but if it's difficult to be in the best shape after four days, then after three days it's even more difficult."

Real Madrid are long-term admirers of Bruno Fernandes, dating back to his time with Sporting CP.

The 28-year-old midfielder impressed with both goals in Portugal's 2-0 win over Uruguay at the World Cup on Monday.

Fernandes signed a new contract with Manchester United in April, keeping him at Old Trafford until 2026 with the option of a further year.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID CONSIDER JANUARY MOVE FOR FERNANDES

Spanish giants Real Madrid could try to tempt Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes to the club in January or at the end of the season, reports The Express.

Los Blancos' long-held interest in Fernandes has intensified amid his impressive displays at the World Cup.

Portuguese outlet Record claims that Madrid are scouting Fernandes while he plays for the national team.

The Express report says that the lure of Champions League football may tempt Fernandes should United miss the top four this season.

 

ROUND-UP

Cristiano Ronaldo is close to agreeing to a deal with Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr, according to Marca. The Telegraph had reported that the deal was worth £150million per season, although The Sun has claimed that the ex-Manchester United star still wants to play Champions League football and has not accepted the offer.

Gareth Bale's LAFC contract has a break clause that could see him leave the club prior to the new MLS season in February 2023, according to The Sun. The Mirror claims the Welshman will make a decision on his future by February.

– The Mirror claims that Manchester United are bullish about retaining Marcus Rashford's services, with the striker out of contract at the end of this season. United will exercise an option to extend his deal by another 12 months in January.

Manchester United have made Bayer Leverkusen defender Jeremie Frimpong their top transfer target in January, reports the Daily Mail. United have sent scouts to watch the Dutch defender, with a view to ramping up talks after the World Cup.

– Inter expect €30m for Tottenham-target Denzel Dumfries, according to Tuttosport. The Nerazzurri are willing to sell the Dutch right-back in January.

– The Times reports Brighton and Hove Albion's Scottish midfielder Billy Gilmour could join Spanish club Villarreal in January.

Cristiano Ronaldo's future is of no concern to the Portugal squad amid reports of a mammoth deal being offered to the 37-year-old, according to team-mate Andre Silva.

Portugal's World Cup campaign has endured the sideshow of Ronaldo's next destination following the mutual termination of his contract with Manchester United, leaving him a free agent for the tournament.

On Wednesday, ESPN reported that Ronaldo has been offered a mouth-watering deal by Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr worth £100million per year, with a contract said to last for three-and-a-half years.

Ronaldo will reportedly only decide his future after the conclusion of the World Cup, though that has not stopped many of his team-mates being asked about his situation.

Silva was the latest to find himself front and centre for the barrage of questions and offered a blunt response, suggesting the significance of Ronaldo's situation was far from influential.

"Does the market end tomorrow? Oh, just checking," the striker said. "Those questions concern nobody apart from Ronaldo. It does not affect the group at all.

"And in Ronaldo's case, he is a very experienced player and knows very well how to deal with these kinds of situations. The group is not affected at all."

While Ronaldo's second stint with United ended with an unceremonious exit, Silva made it clear that his worth on the international stage remains as high as ever.

"Regarding Ronaldo, Cristiano is our captain. He is a very, if not the most important figure in Portuguese football," he added.

"And of course, it's very important to be on our side and it makes the group stronger too."

Portugal have already booked their spot in the knockout stage of the World Cup, while a point in their final group match against South Korea on Friday will secure top spot in Group H.

FIFA has confirmed Cristiano Ronaldo did not score Portugal's first goal in Monday's win over Uruguay after Adidas' match ball technology revealed there was no touch on Bruno Fernandes' cross.

Ronaldo was initially thought to have scored his ninth World Cup goal when he attempted to meet Fernandes' inswinging delivery with a glancing header, putting Portugal on course for a 2-0 win. 

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner celebrated the strike wildly, though FIFA later intervened to award Fernandes with his first World Cup goal.

Fernandes later made the points safe from the penalty spot as Portugal confirmed their place in the last 16, and the use of technology from match ball suppliers Adidas means his brace will stand.

A statement from FIFA provided to ESPN read: "In the match between Portugal and Uruguay, using the Connected Ball Technology housed in Adidas's Al Rihla official match ball, we are able to definitively show no contact on the ball from Cristiano Ronaldo for the opening goal in the game.

"No external force on the ball could be measured as shown by the lack of 'heartbeat' in our measurements. The 500Hz IMU sensor inside the ball allows us to be highly accurate in our analysis."

Speaking after the win, Fernandes said the identity of Portugal's first goalscorer was unimportant but outlined his initial belief that Ronaldo had touched the ball.

However, FIFA's ruling means Fernandes has scored seven international goals in 2022, more than twice as many as any Portugal team-mate, with Ronaldo hitting the net three times for his country.

Meanwhile, Fernandes' former Manchester United team-mate remains one goal shy of matching Eusebio's all-time record of nine goals for Portugal at the World Cup finals – all of which came at the 1966 tournament.

Free agent Cristiano Ronaldo will not be joining Bayern Munich, says chief executive officer Oliver Kahn, despite acknowledging "we all love" the forward.

Portugal captain Ronaldo will be on the hunt for a new club after his exit from Manchester United, which has come less than 18 months after his return to Old Trafford.

With the attacker's focus firmly on the World Cup, his next steps are not yet known, though that has not stopped him from being linked to a slew of leading sides across the globe.

One club he will not be headed to, however, is Bayern, with Kahn reiterating there is no place for Ronaldo in the make-up of Julian Nagelsmann's team.

"We have already dealt with this [speculation]," Kahn told Sky Sport Germany. "We have a clear idea, a clear philosophy of how our squad should be put together.

"We all appreciate him, there's no discussion. We all love Cristiano Ronaldo, but that's something that doesn't fit into our idea."

Kahn sidestepped speculation over Bayern's reported long-term interest in England captain Harry Kane, with the Tottenham forward frequently mooted as a target.

"Of course he's a very good player, but there are also many other very good players," Kahn said. "I've read that everywhere, Oliver Kahn and Harry Kane.

"We deal with many, many players, and it is not okay to talk about players who are signed to other clubs. We have a very good squad that is doing an excellent job at the moment."

Bayern sit four points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, ahead of Freiburg, and topped their Champions League group earlier this season with a perfect record of six wins from six matches.

Bruno Fernandes claimed "I don't really think it matters" after being credited the opening goal in a 2-0 win over Uruguay to secure Portugal's World Cup last-16 place.

The Manchester United midfielder scored twice as Fernando Santos' side guaranteed their passage into the knockout stage with a match to spare after downing Uruguay at Lusail Stadium.

Portugal's opener was initially credited to Cristiano Ronaldo, who appeared to faintly glance home Fernandes' 54th-minute cross, but FIFA eventually intervened and awarded it to the latter.

Fernandes sealed the points from the penalty spot in the closing stages and is now focused on securing top spot in Group H by avoiding defeat against South Korea on Friday.

"I don't really think it matters who scored the goal at this point," he said when asked about Portugal's first strike. "The feeling I had at the time was that Cristiano touched the ball. I was passing the ball to him.

"But what's important is that we were able to go on to the next round after a very important win against a tough opponent.

"The importance of being first [in Group H] includes winning the next game, which would allow us to come out of the group undefeated with three wins, and that's what we want.

"We know we will find a very well-organised [South Korea] team ahead of us. Our objective is to think match after match – to win all the ones in the group phase, we still have one ahead of us.

"We have to do our very best because we want to win all the matches."

Santos hopes Portugal can finish the job to top Group H, having won their opening two World Cup games for only the third time – also achieving the feat in 1966 and 2006 in runs to the semi-final stage.

The Portugal head coach saluted his players, while he also revealed that Nuno Mendes will be assessed in "24 hours" after limping off during the first half.

"All our team have a great performance," Santos said. "The game was difficult, our opponent was difficult.

"In the second half, we managed to play as we are used to; despite the fact that the Uruguayan players were playing very well.

"Our players responded with purpose, and we managed to win with fair play. We have a feeling of satisfaction as we can move to the next stage.

"[Two wins from two is] exactly what I wanted for my team. As I said back in Portugal, our team is very united, we have a very good team building, and now we are given the answers to what was asked of us.

"There is still a match to be played; we need to be careful with our considerations. We do want to be first [in Group H], but we are not first yet. As a result, we need to continue improving on our tactics."

Marcus Rashford will "forever" cherish his days of playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United.

Ronaldo's Old Trafford departure was confirmed on Tuesday as United revealed the two parties came to a "mutual agreement" regarding his immediate exit.

That came after the 37-year-old held an explosive interview with Piers Morgan on TalkTV, during which he openly criticised the club, its board and manager Erik ten Hag.

United said they "initiated appropriate steps" in the wake of the interview's full release, ultimately resulting in his second spell at the club coming to an end.

Ronaldo had struggled for form this season and found himself behind Rashford and Anthony Martial in the pecking order when they were all fit.

Despite the acrimonious conclusion to Ronaldo's time at the club, Rashford only looked back on their time together with a positive outlook.

"Listen, it's been an unbelievable experience to play with him," Rashford said.

"He's obviously one of my idols and someone I've always looked up to, so to have the opportunity to play with him is unbelievable.

"I'll take that with me and it's something that I can keep with me forever.

"So, I wish him all the best. We obviously want to thank him for the things that he's done for Manchester United and wish him all the best in the rest of his career."

Ronaldo is yet to sign with another club, but according to reports there are no restrictions on where he can move.

Chelsea and Newcastle United have been mentioned as potential destinations for the Portugal great, while Flamengo and Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr are also rumoured to be keen.

Rodrigo Bentancur says Uruguay enjoy thriving when they feel like they are out of the spotlight, ahead of a World Cup reunion with Portugal on Monday.

Four years on from their last-16 encounter in Russia, which La Celeste won 2-1 thanks to an Edinson Cavani brace, the pair will meet in a crucial Group H clash at the Lusail Iconic Stadium.

Portugal headed into that 2018 showdown as favourites - and are tipped for success again this time around, having opened with victory over Ghana while Uruguay were held to a goalless draw by South Korea. 

But Bentancur says his side are happy to fly under the radar and quietly go about their business.

"I think it will be a different game," he said. "Football has evolved. Now, we play with more intensity. We will bring our A-game, we can do lots of things to hurt them.

"We always deeply respect our opponent. If not so many things are being written about Uruguay, then that is good for us."

Meanwhile, Bentancur is set for a reunion with former Juventus team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo for the first time since the Portugal captain's controversial exit from Manchester United.

"With Cristiano, I haven't had the chance to talk to him," he added. "The last match we spoke at was when we saw each other in London, when we played against Manchester United.

"But we have a very good relationship between the two of us. He's a great person and a great player. I'm sure I will greet him, we will talk to each other, and we will hug each other."

Cristiano Ronaldo has the personality to handle any pressure that comes with being Portugal's leading man, says Fernando Santos.

Ronaldo, the record goalscorer in the history of international football, came into the World Cup with his future uncertain, after an inflammatory interview with Piers Morgan.

The 37-year-old has since left Manchester United and is playing as a free agent for the first time in his career.

Ronaldo scored Portugal's opener in their 3-2 win over Ghana on Thursday, becoming the first male player to score at five separate World Cup finals in the process.

And Santos shrugged off the suggestion Portugal place too much pressure on their captain's shoulders.

"We have players that are more visible than others and they need to deal with that, with the high priority and pressure," Santos said in a press conference ahead of Portugal's second Group H game against Uruguay.

"They express themselves in one particular way. There are players who are more extroverted, those more introverted, the most important thing is they play as a group, play together as one team.

"As far as Cristiano is concerned, I've known him for many years, since he was 19, we have other players that share the same personality.

"Little by little he has gained more experience, and understands this pressure, but we also take into account other players, not only Cristiano Ronaldo."

Another experienced campaigner in Santos' squad is Ronaldo's former Real Madrid club-mate Pepe, with the 39-year-old centre-back potentially in line to feature against Uruguay after Danilo suffered an injury to his ribs in the win over Ghana.

"He's a monster, Pepe is a monster," Santos said of the defender. "Someone who has a huge role, there's no doubt."

Ronaldo started with Joao Felix in a front two against Ghana, though Santos also has Milan star Rafael Leao, who scored with his first touch after coming on a substitute, to call on.

Asked if he would consider starting the trio together, Santos replied: "Of course it's possible, we did not come here with labels of one, two or three starters.

"We will line them up according to our needs, I'm serious about it. We have choices, and no player will be excluded, but we should not address this with an individual perspective, but as a collective.

"That's what we did against Ghana. In the first half we played very well, Ghana could not enter our area. In the last 30 minutes we should have been more aggressive because I know my players are capable. We were perhaps overconfident, but we can be confident if we are more aggressive.

"Our advantage is that we have a plethora of players that we can use. Our players are free to play, the only thing that I ask them is to follow my instructions. We will not hold our players on a tight leash – we let them free."

Cristiano Ronaldo became a free agent earlier this week after mutually agreeing with Manchester United to terminate his contract.

Ronaldo's availability has prompted numerous clubs to weigh up moves for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Brazilian giants Flamengo and Saudi Arabian powerhouse Al Hilal have been linked with Ronaldo in recent days.

AL NASSR OFFER LUCRATIVE DEAL TO FREE AGENT RONALDO

CBS claims Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr have offered Cristiano Ronaldo a three-year deal worth £186m.

The deal would see Ronaldo play into his 40s, with Al Nassr having resumed talks with his representatives having initiated them in the close season.

An unnamed Saudi Arabian club reportedly made an offer for the 37-year-old Portuguese prior to the start of this campaign.

Al Nassr are nine-time Saudi Arabian champions and ex-Lyon and Roma boss Rudi Garcia is their head coach.

ROUND-UP

Cody Gakpo and Milan's Rafael Leao are top of Erik ten Hag's wish list to replace Ronaldo at Manchester United in January, claims ESPN.

- Arsenal are set to beat Newcastle United to sign Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Mykhailo Mudryk for approximately £40 million, reports The Mirror.

- Bayern Munich are the latest club to enter the race to sign West Ham's England international Declan Rice, according to El Nacional.

- Juventus are planning a move for Athletic Bilbao winger Nico Williams, reports AS. Williams is contracted with Athletic until 2024.

- Milan are keen on Salzburg forward Noah Okafor, with the Austrian club asking €35m for him, according to Calciomercato.

Casemiro is wishing the best to Cristiano Ronaldo following his exit from Manchester United, except in games in which they may face off in the near future.

United confirmed on Tuesday that a mutual agreement had been reached for the termination of Ronaldo's contract, which was set to run until the end of the season.

A seismic interview with Piers Morgan, in which Ronaldo widely criticised the club and manager Erik ten Hag, ultimately spelt the end for the Portuguese star's second spell at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo's next destination is yet to be decided and Casemiro wished him success, apart from in potential games against United.

"I didn't text him after that [interview]," the Brazil midfielder told a press conference on Saturday. "Cristiano is a very experienced guy, he knows what is good for his career.

"Of course, we are sad there at Manchester for a player leaving, even more one of the best in the world.

"He is already very experienced, right? He knows what is good for him. We, as friends, wish him all the luck, everything good in his life, except against me."

Both Casemiro and Ronaldo are on duty representing their nations at the World Cup, enjoying victories against Serbia and Ghana respectively in their opening group matches.

Their campaign continues on Monday, when Brazil face Switzerland in Group G and Portugal tackle Uruguay in Group H.

Cristiano Ronaldo's seismic interview that culminated in his Manchester United departure was "not in his nature," according to former team-mate Quinton Fortune.

United announced earlier this month they had reached a mutual agreement with Ronaldo to terminate his contract with immediate effect, following a controversial interview conducted with Piers Morgan prior to the World Cup.

The Portugal captain did not hold back with his array of criticisms, including ones directed towards manager Erik ten Hag, and it became apparent he was on borrowed time at Old Trafford.

Fortune played alongside Ronaldo during his first stint with the Red Devils between 2003 and 2006, and the ex-South Africa international expressed his sadness at the nature of his former team-mate's departure.

"I was fortunate enough to play with Ronaldo, and I was fortunate to play for Manchester United," Fortune told Stats Perform. "So, it's sad the way it ended. Things happen in this game, but nothing stays forever.

"I would have loved to seen it end in a beautiful way by Ronaldo staying in the club, winning the league, helping them get in the Champions League first, and that wasn't meant to be.

"He is an out-and-out winner, and he's always looking for excellence in everything he does. He's always going to push the boundaries of wanting to get better.

"I didn't expect [his interview]. It's not in his nature, and I was a little bit surprised, but these things happen in football.

"Most important is that the club is on the move, Ronaldo is on the move and both will succeed wherever, whatever they do."

Despite his second spell ending on a sour note, Fortune is confident that will not change his or the United supporters' perception of Ronaldo, who scored a combined 145 goals in 346 appearances for the club.

"It would be very strange for them not to love him," he added. "You know what Ronaldo has achieved at the club, and I was lucky enough and fortunate enough to be the witness at the beginning when he arrived.

"[He was] such a special player, but what made him better than all the players was his mentality, his self-belief, I've never seen anything like it."

On international duty with Portugal at the World Cup, the 37-year-old's future remains uncertain, but Fortune is adamant he is not finished yet.

"I'm sure he wants to continue playing Champions League football," the former midfielder said. "I'm sure he wants to win the Champions League again if it's possible because that's just him - he is a winner, and he's got that hunger.

"So, I hope he finds a club in Europe that fulfils his desires and helps him win some more trophies. He will not settle for anything; he will rattle the cage wherever he goes because he wants to win."

Cristiano Ronaldo's exit will not be an issue for any potential Manchester United buyers, believes football finance expert Kieran Maguire.

The Portugal forward has departed the Red Devils by mutual consent following an disappointing homecoming spell with the Old Trafford outfit.

Having been the face of the club since his return last year, Ronaldo's abrupt farewell - though likely in line with Erik ten Hag's vision for the club - sees United lose one of their prior assets, as the Glazer family mull a sale.

But speaking to Stats Perform, Maguire does not feel his exit will be a stumbling block to future investors mulling a takeover, particularly from a commercial standpoint.

"[The] club's bigger than the player," he said. "Cristiano Ronaldo thought he was bigger than the club. His management teams was more concerned about his brand tie-up than Manchester United products.

"Success hasn't existed at Manchester United for many years. If you've got Ronaldo on the back of your shirt, it simply means you've switched from having [Marcus] Rashford or [Bruno] Fernandes."

"You've still going to be one Manchester United shirt [even without Ronaldo], you're simply going to go and change a bit on the back of it."

News that the Glazer family - long opposed by a large section of supporters - are selling the club has been welcomed with open arms by the fanbase.

Maguire believes it has been a prosperous ownership period for them, if not the club, and that he understands the frustration felt by those who follow United.

"I think we're seeing an opportunity for some legacy owners to withdraw at a tidy profit," he added. "They can leave on a significant multiple of the original investment.

"[But] when they acquired the club, they did commit it to financial jeopardy. [Also[, when a club is no longer successful, you look for scapegoats.

"The Glazers are a lightning rod. They've got not connection historically to Manchester. Their relationship was purely financial.

Maguire concedes on-field success would paint a different picture however, adding: "If Manchester United had won the Premier League for four years out of the last five... I'm not saying that fans are fickle, but fans are fickle."

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