DR Congo international winger Jody Lukoki has died aged 29, with the cause of his death currently unknown.

Lukoki came through the ranks at Dutch giants Ajax before spells with PEC Zwolle, Bulgarian club Ludogorets and Turkish side Yeni Malatyaspor.

The 29-year-old, who won three Eredivisie titles with Ajax, signed for FC Twente on a two-year deal last June but suffered a cruciate ligament injury in pre-season training.

Lukoki had his contract terminated by Twente in February for what the club described as "events in his personal life".

Twente confirmed the passing of Lukoki on Monday in a statement that read: "This morning FC Twente received the terrible news that Jody Lukoki has passed away.

"The club is shocked and deeply moved by this tragic event. FC Twente sympathises with his loved ones and wishes them a lot of strength in processing this great loss."

Zwolle also paid tribute: "PEC Zwolle has learned with dismay and sadness of the far too early death of former player Jody Lukoki.

"Lukoki will forever be remembered as PEC Zwolle's first goalscorer in an official European game. PEC Zwolle wishes the relatives of Jody Lukoki a lot of strength to bear this enormous loss."

While Turkish side Yeni Malatyaspor added: "We learned with sadness the news that Jody Lukoki, who wore our club's jersey in the 2020-2021 Super League season, passed away.

"Our condolences to his family and community."

Lukoki represented the Netherlands at youth international level but opted to play for DR Congo, who he made his senior debut for in 2015.

All three caps for the Leopards came in friendly matches, with his last coming against Burkina Faso in 2020.

Fred Rutten has revealed he rejected the chance to become Erik ten Haag's assistant manager at Manchester United.

Ten Hag was last month confirmed as the successor to interim boss Ralf Rangnick at Old Trafford and will officially take charge in the coming weeks.

The current Ajax head coach is assembling his backroom team, but he was unable to persuade Rutten to join him at United.

Rutten will instead join Ruud van Nistelrooy at PSV – one of several former clubs.

"Erik ten Hag has asked me to be his assistant at Manchester United," Rotten said, as quoted by De Telegraaf. "I said no.

"Everyone makes his own choices in life. I have a family, I have grandchildren that I want to see. This type of project, I felt uncomfortable with it."

Rutten, who employed Ten Hag as his assistant at both Twente and PSV, added: "At Manchester United you get on a train and you can't get off it. I want to feel comfortable in something you step into. That is the case with PSV. 

"It's nice when you have grandchildren, who you see every now and then and who can play ball with."

Former United striker Robin van Persie, ex-Red Devils coach Steve McClaren and Ajax assistant Mitchell van der Gaag are other reported candidates to work as Ten Haag's right-hand man.

Erik ten Hag says questions about the future of Cristiano Ronaldo and other Manchester United stars are "for the future" as he focuses on attempting to see Ajax over the line in the Eredivisie title race.

It was confirmed last month Ten Hag will be the replacement for interim boss Ralf Rangnick from next season.

The long-term future of Portugal superstar Ronaldo, who signed on for a second spell at Old Trafford from Juventus back in August, has been shrouded in doubt despite the fact he has another year on his contract, with an option to extend for a third season, and has contributed 18 Premier League goals for a United side that has badly underperformed this season.

Reports in the British media suggested Dutchman Ten Hag wants Ronaldo to be a part of his plans next term, but when asked about the prospect of working with the 37-year-old at a news conference previewing Ajax's clash with AZ, he kept his cards pressed firmly to his chest.

"They are questions for the future and not in this moment," he said.

"I want to answer questions about Ajax, we are in an important race, and an important week. I want to focus on Ajax and not on Manchester United."

There have been rumours Ten Hag could look to take some of his Ajax squad with him to Old Trafford, with Sebastien Haller, Antony, and Jurrien Timber among those linked with a switch.

Ten Hag denied suggestions any deals are in place, though.

"No, there are no agreements about that," he added. "I now have very good players, but it's not an issue at all."

Erik ten Hag appears as though he will have a huge say over his own Manchester United transfer targets.

The Dutchman has inked a three-year deal at Old Trafford, with the option for a further year.

Ten Hag will officially take over on July 1, with Ralf Rangnick remaining in interim charge.

A face familiar to the Premier League could now be headed to Old Trafford with Ten Hag from Ajax…


TOP STORY - TEN HAG TO BRING HALLER TO UNITED

Manchester United may make a move for Ajax striker Sebastien Haller in the off-season according to The Sun.

Haller currently plays under ten Hag, who will take over at United at the end of the campaign.

The Ivory Coast striker, who spent two years with West Ham United, has netted 33 goals in all competitions for Ajax this term.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are optimistic that they can land Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski in the off-season, reports Sport. Lewandowski is contracted with Bayern until 2023.

- Liverpool have contacted 22-year-old Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni about a move to England, claims Foot Mercato.

- Nicolo Schira claims that Inter are not interested in signing Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic, contrary to reports. Pjanic is currently on loan at Besiktas from Barcelona.

- David de Gea and Manchester United are ready to enter into talks on a contract extension reports 90min.

- Fabrizio Romano claims that Luka Modric will ink a new deal with Real Madrid running until 2023.

Bayern Munich signing Erling Haaland "doesn't make any sense" for sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic because they have Robert Lewandowski.

Haaland is believed to be available for €75million due to a clause in his Borussia Dortmund contract and is set leave in one of the upcoming off-season's major transfers. 

The Norway international has scored 82 goals and supplied 19 assists in 86 appearances in all competitions for Dortmund since making his debut on January 18, 2020. He has averaged 1.1 goals per 90 minutes, a record that is only bettered by Bayern striker Lewandowski (1.2) among players in the top five European leagues.

Haaland has been touted as a potential replacement for Lewandowski, who Bayern were said to be open to offers for with his contract expiring at the end of next season. 

However, Lewandowski leaving the Allianz Arena at the end of the campaign has been ruled out by Salihamidzic, who therefore sees no reason to pursue Haaland. 

"It doesn't make any sense," Salihamidzic said when asked on Sky90 about Bayern moving for Haaland. 

"We have the best striker in the world. We have Lewandowski." 

Asked if there was any player Bayern would break the bank for, Salihamidzic replied: "That's up to the supervisory board. But we don't want to put the club at risk. That will continue to be our philosophy in the future. 

"Of course, after the Champions League win it would've been great to keep all the players – like [Philippe] Coutinho and [Ivan] Perisic – but we can't ruin the club financially. We can't do squad planning like that. 

"We have a philosophy at the club. We have 14 top players in the squad and a number of top talents we want to develop. We don't have the money for 20 top players like in England." 

One player who could be heading to Munich for next season is Ajax midfielder Ryan Gravenberch, though Bayern are yet to agree to reported demands of a €30million fee. 

"He is a good player. We're in talks, I can say that much," Salihamidzic revealed. 

"With a transfer like this, a lot has to go right. I can't say [how it is looking]. It's difficult, like all transfers." 

Salihamidzic is also expecting to see more from Leroy Sane, who has failed to score or assist in his past eight appearances in all competitions for Bayern. 

"He's an incredibly talented young man who has everything. He's super fast, he can dribble and has this mental strength. But he has to deliver now," he said. 

"When he's showing good body language, that's good, but if he doesn't, that's not good. I don't want to see this. I spoke to him about it. 

"He has potential, but I want to see that on the pitch. We spoke several times. The people in charge, the coach, the players, everyone expects him to explode on the pitch. It's hard to say why he's not performing as expected. He's listening well. I hope he'll do it." 

Mauricio Pochettino insists he has "always been fully committed to my mission" at every club he has coached at amid rumours he was disappointed to miss out on the Manchester United job.

The Paris Saint-Germain boss had long-since been considered a front-runner to take over from interim manager Ralf Rangnick, who has filled in at Old Trafford since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked in November.

However, Ajax coach Erik ten Hag was confirmed as the latest man to try and restore the good times at United, with the Dutchman taking over on a three-year deal from next season.

Reports in the British press suggest Pochettino was caught off guard by United's decision, with the Argentinian said to have been researching Manchester as a city to live.

Speaking prior to PSG's clash with Lens on Saturday, a game in which even a point would mathematically clinch the title, Pochettino was adamant he is committed to his role at Parc des Princes.

"All the rumours that have come out this year and throughout my career have never bothered me," he said.

"I never commented on them. I coached Espanyol, Southampton, Tottenham, today PSG, and I have always been fully committed to my mission. 

"I work the same way by being focused on the objectives. If I paid attention to all the rumours, life would be different."

 

United's decision to overlook Pochettino means the former Tottenham boss' future remains unclear.

PSG are cantering towards the Ligue 1 title but were knocked out of the Champions League in a dramatic last-16 tie by Real Madrid.

Ralf Rangnick has not yet discussed his Manchester United future beyond this season as the interim manager gave his full backing to successor Erik ten Hag.

United confirmed on Thursday that Ajax head coach Ten Hag will take over from Rangnick in the Old Trafford hotseat from the end of this season.

The Dutchman, who has a 73.8 per cent win rate across 210 games in charge of Ajax, will become the Red Devils' fifth permanent manager since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

Ten Hag has won two KNVB Cups and two Eredivisie titles in his four full campaigns at Ajax, with the Dutch giants on the verge of finishing top of the table again this term.

And while Rangnick does not have a personal connection with Ten Hag, he is a fan of the 52-year-old's style of play.

"We don't know each other, we haven't met as yet in person," Rangnick said. "I knew that Erik was one of the candidates the board spoke to.

"Obviously I told them, at least from what I had seen and know from people who have worked with Erik, that I think he would be a good choice.

"From I've seen of him, both at Bayern Munich when he was the under 23 coach and at Ajax now, I like his football.

"I'm positive with a full pre-season, with having the chance to build and mould his own staff and also a new team, we will see a different team and an improvement on the pitch."

 

Rangnick was placed in charge of United until the end of the season following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November.

That deal included an agreement that would see the German stay on at United for a further two years in a consultancy position, but he is not sure if that remains the plan.

"We haven't had time to speak about that," Rangnick said when asked if he would be working behind the scenes next season.

Ten Hag will inherit a United squad that has gone five years without a trophy and with question marks surrounding the futures of many players.

Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Edinson Cavani are out of contract, while Nemanja Matic has already confirmed he is moving on when his existing deal expires.

United are also expected to be busy in terms of incoming activity as part of a major rebuild, which Rangnick is happy to help out with if called upon.

"It's obvious there are quite a few players with their contracts expiring," Rangnick said. 

"There might be a few others who – although they have contracts – are already on loan and still want to be on loan or leave the club. 

"It will be a significant change and rebuild necessary, that's clear, but how many players and which positions, as I've said, I've not spoken to Erik in person yet. 

"If he asks me my opinion in person, I'm willing to speak to him about my experience, but on the other hand, he'll also have his own ideas."

In what has been another hugely underwhelming campaign for United, skipper Harry Maguire has come in for more criticism than most for his displays in defence.

That personal abuse spilled over on Wednesday when the defender and his family received a bomb threat, though no device was discovered in his house.

Maguire is expected to be in contention to start Saturday's Premier League trip to Arsenal and has been given the full backing of Rangnick.

"I haven't seen him yet because I only got to know about this terrible, terrible thing yesterday afternoon and since then I haven't been able to speak with him," Rangnick said.

"This is another bad sign of the crazy world we're living in and, obviously, I feel very sorry for Harry that he had that terrible experience. 

"He knows that we are all behind him, the club is behind him, everybody, the players, his team-mates. It's sad enough that crazy things like that happen."

David de Gea is "very excited" to work under Erik ten Hag after the Dutchman was confirmed as Manchester United's new manager on Thursday. 

Ten Hag will arrive from Ajax at the end of the season and take over from interim boss Ralf Rangnick on a three-year contract with an option to extend for another year. 

The 52-year-old is on course to win a third Eredivisie title with Ajax this season and has been lauded for his possession-based style. 

He guided Ajax to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018-19 and won two KNVB Bekers, though he was unable to make it a third last Sunday when his side were beaten 2-1 by PSV in the final.

De Gea is pleased to finally have clarity over United's managerial future and hopes they can focus on getting their push for a place in the Premier League's top four back on track. 

"Very excited the club has made the decision so now we all know," De Gea told United's official website. 

"We know what he has done for Ajax, he has nearly been in a Champions League final, he won titles and he develops players, so I’m very excited. 

"I think he plays very good football. Now we have to be very focused on the last games but we are excited to know who is coming. But now let's focus on Arsenal and fight until the end to be in the top four. 

"It's good to know and for sure he is already watching the games and thinking about what he can do to improve the team, so that's very good for us. I'm looking forward to working under him. 

"Of course, now the focus on Arsenal, it's a final [for us], we have to take the three points, [otherwise] the top four is done. Let's be focused and win the game." 

John Murtough says Erik ten Hag landed the Manchester United job after he "deeply impressed" the hierarchy with his "long-term vision" for the club.

United on Thursday confirmed Ajax head coach Ten Hag will replace interim manager Ralf Rangnick at the end of the season.

The 52-year-old has agreed a deal until June 2025, subject to being granted a visa, with the option of extending his stay at Old Trafford by a further year.

Ten Hag has won two Eredivisie titles and the KNVB Cup twice since taking charge of Ajax in December 2017.

The Amsterdam giants are poised to lift the Eredivisie trophy again at the end of Ten Hag's reign, as they lead second-placed PSV by four points.

Football director Murtough revealed United were convinced the Dutchman is the right man to turn their fortunes around.

He told the club's official website: "During the past four years at Ajax, Erik has proved himself to be one of the most exciting and successful coaches in Europe, renowned for his team's attractive, attacking football and commitment to youth.

"In our conversations with Erik leading up to this appointment, we were deeply impressed with his long-term vision for returning Manchester United to the level we want to be competing at, and his drive and determination to achieve that.

"We wish Erik the best of luck as he focuses on achieving a successful end to the season at Ajax and look forward to welcoming him to Manchester United this summer."

While Ten Hag has become accustomed to winning trophies at Ajax, he faces a big rebuilding job at United.

The Red Devils have not won a trophy for five years and are sixth in the Premier League, seemingly looking set to miss out on Champions League qualification after being hammered 4-0 by Liverpool on Tuesday.

Erik ten Hag is happy to have "clarity" on his managerial future with Manchester United, but insists he is fully focused on ensuring he leaves Ajax on a high note.

The Dutchman was confirmed as the Premier League outfit's next full-time manager on Thursday, succeeding interim boss Ralf Rangnick on a deal through June 2025.

It ends a lengthy courtship by the Red Devils to bring Ten Hag to Old Trafford, having parted ways with previous permanent boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in late 2021.

Speaking on his appointment, 52-year-old Ten Hag professed his delight to confirm the deal, but says he remains committed to bowing out with a third Eredivisie title in Amsterdam.

"I'm happy that it has been finalised and that it has been officially announced," Ten Hag told Ajax's official website. "That clarity is important.

"But I only have one interest now and that's these last five games. I want to finish my time here on a positive note, by winning the league.

"By doing so, we'll qualify directly for the Champions League. Ajax belongs there."

Ajax chief executive Edwin van der Sar – a former United player – added Ten Hag was making the journey to "one of the biggest clubs" in the sport, and thanked him for his time in charge.

"Four and a half years is a good amount of time, but we would have liked to have kept Erik at Ajax for longer," Van der Sar said.

"He is going to make the step to one of the biggest clubs in the world, in a fantastic league. We owe Erik a lot of thanks for what he has achieved with Ajax so far, but we are not done yet.

 "At the end of the season, I will look back more extensively on his departure. For now, what matters is the final games of the season in which we all want to bring home the league title."

Manchester United have confirmed that Erik ten Hag will take over as their new manager at the end of the season.

After months of speculation, the 52-year-old Ajax boss will succeed Ralf Rangnick in the Old Trafford hotseat at the end of a frustrating campaign for the Red Devils.

With Rangnick moving upstairs to take on a consultancy role at the club, Ten Hag has agreed a contract until June 2025, with the option of a further year.

Ten Hag, who will take charge subject to being issued with a visa, told United's official website: "It is a great honour to be appointed manager of Manchester United and I am hugely excited by the challenge ahead. 

"I know the history of this great club and the passion of the fans, and I am absolutely determined to develop a team capable of delivering the success they deserve.

"It will be difficult to leave Ajax after these incredible years, and I can assure our fans of my complete commitment and focus on bringing this season to a successful conclusion before I move to Manchester United."

Ten Hag has won two Eredivisie titles and the KNVB Cup twice since joining Ajax in 2017, and will hope to bow out after securing a third league crown in the coming weeks, with the Amsterdam giants leading second-placed PSV by four points.

Meanwhile, the Red Devils' season hit a new low this week when they were thrashed 4-0 by Liverpool in the Premier League at Anfield, leaving their chances of qualifying for next season's Champions League looking slim.

United will have endured five seasons without lifting a major trophy by the time Ten Hag starts work.

Manchester United have confirmed that Erik ten Hag will take over as their new manager at the end of the season.

After months of speculation, the 52-year-old Ajax boss will succeed Ralf Rangnick in the Old Trafford hotseat at the end of a frustrating campaign for the Red Devils.

With Rangnick moving upstairs to take on a consultancy role at the club, Ten Hag has agreed a contract until June 2025, with the option of a further year.

Ajax are attempting everything in their power to keep Manchester United target Erik ten Hag, according to the club's technical manager Gerry Hamstra.

Ten Hag has been repeatedly linked with the permanent United job, which will become available at the end of the season when Ralf Rangnick moves into a consultancy role.

The Dutchman and Mauricio Pochettino appeared among the favourites for the Old Trafford role, though reports in the last week suggested Ten Hag has all but agreed on a deal.

Hamstra, who is the highest technical director at the Eredivisie champions after Marc Overmars departed earlier in the year, insists Ajax have left no stone unturned in their attempts to retain Ten Hag.

"We have done everything we can and are doing everything we can to keep him on board," Hamstra told ESPN.

"Contract extension offered? Yes. More money? Everything that comes with it, without going into detail."

Hamstra was speaking before Ajax's 2-1 defeat to PSV in the Dutch Cup final, the latter side scoring twice in as many minutes through Erick Gutierrez and Cody Gakpo to secure victory.

The two teams are also locked in a battle for the Eredivisie title, with Ajax four points clear ahead of the final five games.

If the reigning Eredivisie champions can retain their crown, it would be their third league title under Ten Hag, who guided them to the 2018-19 Champions League semi-finals before a last-gasp loss to Tottenham.

While Hamstra is keen to see more from the 52-year-old, he conceded the decision remains in Ten Hag's hands.

"Erik can ultimately determine his own future. He is old enough and wise enough for that," he added.

"We have two scenarios: we really hope he stays; it makes sense that there is interest in him. If he doesn't stay, we have to be ready for the second scenario."

Erik ten Hag will shoulder greater pressure at Manchester United than at Ajax with trophies expected of the Dutchman if he takes the job, former Red Devils defender Jaap Stam has warned.

Ten Hag has emerged as the likely frontrunner to become the next full-time boss at Old Trafford, succeeding interim manager Ralf Rangnick.

While he is no stranger to success with Ajax in the Eredivisie, Stam feels he will face bigger struggles with expectation at the Premier League outfit.

"The pressure at United is much greater," Stam stated. "The club management can be patient, but that does not mean you get time from the outside world.

"The title and the Champions League are expected. That is no different under a new coach."

If Ten Hag does take the Old Trafford job, he will be faced with the prospect of another major squad overhaul following United's failures this year.

The futures of several star men, including Paul Pogba, Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire, are likely to be the topic of intense speculation.

Stam, however, says any new coach will face a tough juggling act in deciding who stays and who leaves the Theatre of Dreams.

"Something has to change but you cannot say, 'these 15 must go and these 10 remain'," he added.

"There are many large contracts. But some changes are crucial for a breath of fresh air and success.

"It becomes difficult if they do not fit into your system. There is a world of difference between the Netherlands and England."

With United looking to break a barren silverware run next term stretching back to 2017, Stam added that Ten Hag must impose himself upon the club to deliver results.

"In England there are three high-level matches every week, with good players at every club, and sometimes you have to change the way you play," he stated.

"If you achieve results, trust grows. However, clubs often ask for £40million more when United knocks.

"But whoever you do it with, the style of play and what you expect from players in it must be made very clear."

Inter are firming as a likely destination for Paulo Dybala, as the end to his time at Juventus draws near.

The Argentina international has provided 96 goals and 51 assists in 265 league appearances for Juventus, but will not stay in an evident rebuild under Max Allegri.

While Dybala is set to leave after seven seasons in Turin, and after a near-move to Tottenham, it appears he might stay in Italy's Serie A after all.

 

TOP STORY – INTER CLOSE IN ON DYBALA

Inter are closing in on Paulo Dybala, whose contract at Juventus will expire at the end of the season, according to reports from La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The 28-year-old attacker has drifted out to the periphery for the Turin giants, ever since Cristiano Ronaldo's transfer, to the point where they are not willing to renew his contract.

Per the report however, Inter face potential stumbling blocks in fitting Dybala within their wage structure, with talks between the club and his representatives focused on bridging any gaps in expectations.

While Inter would seek to bring Dybala in next season, they are not in a capacity to offer a €6milliion salary, currently earned by Lautaro Martinez and Marcelo Brozovic.

Though Inter are unsure of Martinez's future at the San Siro, Alexis Sanchez falling out of favour under Simone Inzaghi could facilitate Dybala's addition.

 

ROUND-UP

– Juventus are keen to sign Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo, and are prepared to add Moise Kean as part of a package deal, according to Nicolo Schira.

Manchester United have reached a verbal agreement in principle for Erik ten Hag to leave Ajax and become their next manager, The Athletic is reporting.

Liverpool are prepared to make a £25million (€30m) offer for Torino's Gleison Bremer, per Tuttomercato.

Barcelona must be prepared to pay Juventus €100m in order to sign 22-year-old centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, Fichajes is reporting.

– Atletico Madrid are interested in signing Lautaro Martinez, with Inter setting a transfer price range of €70-80m, per Nicolo Schira.

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