Erling Haaland's future is a major talking point this off-season.

The Norwegian has been linked with several top clubs but could also stay with Borussia Dortmund.

Haaland and his representatives visited Real Madrid and Barcelona, while Chelsea and Manchester City have also been credited with interest.

TOP STORY - CHELSEA TO OFFER UP TO £150M FOR HAALAND

Chelsea are readying a bumper £150 million (€175m) move to sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, reports 90Min.

The Blues are prepared to offer up to that amount, believing the deal will be too hard to refuse for Dortmund.

Chelsea spent approximately £120m (€140m) last off-season on German pair Timo Werner and Kai Havertz but want an out-and-out striker.

 

ROUND-UP

- New Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti wants to sign Brazil international Richarlison from his former club Everton, reports ESPN.

- Fabrizio Romano claims Milan are still working on a deal to sign Chelsea's French veteran forward Olivier Giroud.

- RB Leipzig's Marcel Sabitzer is in the sights of Borussia Dortmund according to Bild, amid reported interest from Premier League clubs.

West Ham and Tottenham are both interested in Sassuolo's Mert Muldur reports the Mail.

- Football League World claims Southampton will sign Blackburn Rovers forward Adam Armstrong for £10m plus add-ons.

Are Manchester United set for a busy transfer window?

After finishing runners-up to Manchester City in the Premier League and losing in the Europa League final, United are keen to strengthen.

A trio of stars are reportedly on the club's shortlist.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED WANT THREE MORE PLAYERS

Manchester United are targeting three more signings this off-season, according to The Guardian.

United have agreed a deal to bring Jadon Sancho to Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants more.

The Red Devils are reportedly closing in on Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, though Villarreal's Pau Torres has also been linked, with Tottenham star Harry Kane and West Ham midfielder Declan Rice also on the list.

 

ROUND-UP

- Italy and Roma full-back Leonardo Spinazzola is attracting interest from Madrid following his exploits at Euro 2020, reports Calciomercato. LaLiga rivals Barcelona have also been linked.

- After agreeing to sell Sancho, Dortmund are eyeing PSV's Donyell Malen and RB Leipzig defender Marcel Halstenberg, reports Sport Bild.

Paris Saint-Germain are planning to announce the arrivals of Sergio Ramos, Inter star Achraf Hakimi and former Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma within 15 days, according to Fabrizio Romano. Ramos has agreed to sign a two-year deal in Paris.

- Antena 2 claims James Rodriguez is in talks with Serie A runners-up Milan over a move from Everton.

United are prioritising a contract extension for star Bruno Fernandes, says Romano. Fernandes has flourished since arriving from Sporting CP.

Madrid have joined Milan in the race to sign United and Portugal full-back Diogo Dalot, claims Calciomercato.

PSG have emerged as the only likely suitor for Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo after United signed Sancho, reports Calciomercato. However, a move depends on whether Kylian Mbappe leaves PSG for Madrid or Liverpool.

Everton have appointed Rafael Benitez as their new manager, with the former Liverpool boss replacing Carlo Ancelotti.

The Toffees have been searching for a new manager since Ancelotti's surprise return to Real Madrid at the start of June.

Nuno Espirito Santo was reportedly close to being appointed earlier in the month, with West Ham's David Moyes having also been a mooted option, yet it is one of their main rivals' most successful managers of recent times who has been handed the reins instead.

Benitez has signed a three-year contract with Everton, who finished 12th and 10th in their two seasons under Ancelotti – whom the Spaniard also succeeded at Madrid in 2015.

The appointment has not come without controversy, with sections of Everton's support having shown their displeasure by leaving messages of protest at Goodison Park, while Merseyside police are investigating a 'threatening banner' left close to Benitez's family home.

Benitez led Liverpool to a famous Champions League triumph in 2005, with the Reds coming from 3-0 down to beat Ancelotti's Milan on penalties in Istanbul.

He followed that up with an FA Cup success in 2006 and a run to the 2007 Champions League final, though Milan prevailed on that occasion. From 228 Premier League games in charge of Liverpool, he managed 126 victories – a record surpassed only by Jurgen Klopp in December 2020.

His six-year stint at Anfield came to an end in 2010, and though he went on to manage Inter, Madrid, Chelsea, Napoli and Newcastle United, he remained a Liverpool fan favourite.

Benitez has most recently coached in the Chinese Super League, having taken the helm at Dalian Professional from July 2019 to January of this year.

His efforts at Newcastle are perhaps what drew Everton's majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri to Benitez, who failed to save the Magpies from relegation in 2015-16 but secured an instant return to the Premier League before finishing 10th and 13th in the next two campaigns.

Of his 86 top-flight games in charge of Newcastle, Benitez won 27, with his team scoring 97 goals, bettering their expected goals (xG) total of 90.35. He left in 2019 after failing to agree a new contract, later citing a lack of backing from the club's owner Mike Ashley.

Benitez also counts two LaLiga titles, one Suppercoppa Italia, the 2006 Community Shield, a Coppa Italia and a Europa League triumph among his honours.

He becomes Everton's fifth permanent boss in the space of five years, with Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce, Marco Silva and Ancelotti having all held the role since Roberto Martinez – the Belgium boss who was also a reported target this time around – was relieved of his duties in 2016.

Everton start their 2021-22 Premier League campaign at home to Southampton, with Benitez's first reunion with Liverpool coming at Goodison Park in November.

Sergio Ramos' Real Madrid contract is due to officially expire on June 30.

The 35-year-old defender has been with Los Blancos since 2005.

There appears to be no shortage of suitors lining up for Ramos' signature.

 

TOP STORY – RAMOS WEIGHING UP POWERHOUSE TRIO

European heavyweights Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich have all approached Sergio Ramos about a potential move, ESPN reported.

Ramos, who will leave Madrid as a free agent this off-season, is said to be assessing the interest.

Family considerations are a big part of Ramos' decision-making, while it is claimed City could offer him a two-year deal.

ROUND-UP

- Jose Mourinho's new club Roma are closing in on a deal to sign Wolves' Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Patricio , reports Sky Sports.

- Arsenal target Aaron Ramsey has opted to stay with Juventus following the appointment of Massimiliano Allegri, claims The Sun.

- Uruguayan prospect Martin Satriano is attracting attention from Premier League clubs Arsenal , Everton and Tottenham , claims the Daily Mail. Satriano is currently on the books of Inter.

- Turkey international Merih Demiral wants to leave Juventus but the Serie A club have set an asking price of €40million (£34m), according to Calciomercato.

- Chelsea are close to agreeing a loan deal with Norwich City for Billy Gilmour , reports Sky Sports.

Merseyside Police is investigating after a threatening banner was hung up near the home of prospective new Everton manager Rafael Benitez.

Benitez is the strong favourite to take over at Goodison Park following Carlo Ancelotti's move to Real Madrid earlier this month.

The proposed appointment has not gone down well with some Everton fans given Benitez's links to city rivals Liverpool, whom he guided to Champions League. FA Cup and European Super Cup success.

Sections of the Toffees' fanbase have left messages outside the club's stadium over the past week, but those protests have now turned more sinister.

Images and videos emerged on social media on Monday of a banner reading "We know where you live, don't sign" close to Benitez's family home in Wirral.

Merseyside Police has confirmed that it is looking into the matter.

"We can confirm police are investigating reports of a threatening banner at a location in Caldy today, Monday 28 June," a statement on the force's official website read.

"At around 7am, it was reported that a banner made from bed sheets had been placed over a wall and bushes on a residential driveway, with wording which is thought to target football manager Rafa Benitez."

CCTV and witness enquiries are being carried out in the area to try and trace whoever was responsible.

Detective Inspector Darren Taylor added: "This message has understandably caused some distress and worry for residents in the area. 

"Due to the football language used, we suspect that it was aimed at Rafa Benitez – but whoever placed the message left it outside the wrong house.

"If anyone has information about who produced the banner or helped to put it up, please let us know as soon as possible."

Benitez spent six years with Liverpool in total before departing in 2010.

The Spaniard apologised in 2007 for labelling Everton a "small club" following a goalless Merseyside derby.

European champions Chelsea and French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain have both been in hot pursuit of Achraf Hakimi.

Morocco international Hakimi, 22, helped Inter win the Serie A title.

The former Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid full-back is a star on the rise.

 

TOP STORY – HAKIMI AGREES TO CHELSEA MOVE

Chelsea appear to have won the race for Inter defender Hakimi after he "verbally agreed" to join the European champions, according to Calcio in Pillole journalist Ekrem Konur.

Konur claims Inter want £43million (€50m) and full-back Marcos Alonso from Chelsea as part of the deal.

Footmercato reports PSG will table a second bid for Hakimi worth €70m.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United have made their move for Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane with a £50m (€58m) bid for the French defender, claims the Manchester Evening News. It is alleged Madrid want £80m (€93m) for Varane.

- Roma will turn their attention to Aston Villa's Brazilian midfielder Douglas Luiz should they fail to sign Arsenal's Granit Xhaka, claims Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Football Insider reports Everton are keen to pursue Wolves defender Conor Coady.

- Wolves are weighing up a move for ex-Chelsea forward Diego Costa , who is a free agent, according to UOL.

After 16 years, Sergio Ramos is moving on from Real Madrid.

The 35-year-old is far from finished, though, as his wage demands indicate.

His next club will have to meet high salary expectations. 

 

TOP STORY – BIG CLUBS IN MIX FOR RAMOS

Manchester City has been in contact with Ramos' representatives for some time, AS reported, and the Premier League champions should be able to handle the Spaniard's reported €12million annual salary demands. 

That number figures to limit the number of serious contenders to sign the superstar centre-back, with Manchester United also reportedly in the mix. 

Paris Saint-Germain could also turn to Ramos after failing to find a suitable replacement for Thiago Silva in central defence. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Bernardo Silva's agent has had talks with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid over a move to LaLiga for the Manchester City man, the Daily Mail says. 

- Juventus lead the race to sign Euro 2020 star Manuel Locatelli, Fabrizio Romano reports, with Sassuolo seeking a fee of around €40million (£34m). 

- Chelsea's Emerson Palmieri is Napoli's top target during this transfer window, Gazzetta dello Sport reports, with the Blues seeking a €15m (£13m) fee. 

- Everton face competition from Inter in their pursuit of PSV Eindhoven defender and Netherlands international Denzel Dumfries, according to Voetbal International. 

- Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma will join PSG on a five-year contract, Romano reports, adding that the 22-year-old goalkeeper is expected to undergo his medical Monday in Florence. 

- Brighton have agreed a £25m fee with Stuttgart for forward Nicolas Gonzalez, the Guardian reports, while Sky Sports says the Seagulls rejected Arsenal's £40m bid for England international Ben White

- Arsenal are also in pursuit of Porto winger Jesus Corona along with Sevilla and Fiorentina, according to the Daily Mail. 

Achraf Hakimi is a player in demand following his first season with Inter.

Hakimi helped Inter to Serie A glory for the first time in 10 years, but his future could be away from San Siro.

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly determined to beat Chelsea and Bayern Munich to the full-back.

 

TOP STORY – PSG CHASING HAKIMI

Paris Saint-Germain remain interested in signing Inter star Achraf Hakimi, according to Gianluca Di Marzio.

PSG had a €60million (£51m) bid turned down by Serie A champions Inter, who are facing financial problems due to the coronavirus pandemic amid speculation over stars Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez, Alessandro Bastoni and Hakimi.

Ligue 1 giants PSG are still keen on Hakimi as Champions League winners Chelsea hold talks with the Morocco international's agent, while Bayern Munich have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

Bernardo Silva wants to leave Premier League champions Manchester City, reports Duncan Castles. The Portugal international has already been linked with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona after finding himself out of favour under Pep Guardiola.

- Fabrizio Romano claims Gianluigi Buffon is close to re-joining Parma. Buffon will leave Juventus in the off-season and the Italy great is reportedly on track to return to Parma, where the 43-year-old emerged from the youth team in 1995 before eventually moving to Turin in 2001. Parma were relegated from Serie A in 2020-21.

Arsenal have turned their attention to Real Betis attacker Nabil Fekir but Diario AS says the Gunners and LaLiga side remain apart in his transfer valuation.

- Calciomercato claims there are still concerns over Paulo Dybala's future at Juventus. Dybala is out of contract in 2022 and no closer to renewing after struggling for game time. The possible departure of Cristiano Ronaldo – who has been linked with PSG and Manchester United – could solidify Dybala's position in Turin.

Leicester City are the latest team to join the race for Salzburg's Patson Daka, according to the Mirror. Liverpool, Chelsea and RB Leipzig have also been linked.

- The Mirror reports Everton and Leeds United are considering moves for veteran Real Madrid star Marcelo.

Everton continue their search for Carlo Ancelotti's replacement.

One emerging candidate has plenty of familiarity with Liverpool. 

Could the Toffees turn to a former rival? 

 

TOP STORY – BENITEZ IN MERSEYSIDE RETURN?

Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has emerged as a strong contender to replace Carlo Ancelotti at Everton, the Daily Mirror and other outlets report. 

As the Merseyside club's interest in former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has faded, majority owner Farhad Moshiri apparently plans to speak to the 61-year-old Benitez. 

The Spaniard was Liverpool's manager from 2004-10, winning the Champions League title in 2005. He spent 18 months in charge of Chinese Super League club Dalian Professional before leaving by mutual consent in January. 

Others under consideration include Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter, former Lille coach Christophe Galtier and former Toffees boss Roberto Martinez

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea have matched Paris Saint-Germain's offer of about €65million (£56.1m) to Inter for Achraf Hakimi, according to Sky Sport Italia, though Inter value the 22-year-old at €81m (£70m).

- Barcelona see Manchester City's Raheem Sterling as a potential replacement for Ousmane Dembele should the France international depart, according to Sport, and Marca says PSG have interest in Dembele. 

- David de Gea seems inclined to extend his stay at Manchester United and expects to be the first-choice goalkeeper ahead of Dean Henderson, The Sun reports. 

- Atletico Madrid rejected United's £10m bid for England right-back Kieran Trippier, according to Football Insider. 

- Roma are close to completing their long-rumoured signing of Arsenal's Granit Xhaka, Corriere dello Sport claims. 

- West Ham would like to sign Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard on a permanent deal, The Sun reports. 

- Tottenham have had discussions with Borussia Monchengladbach winger Marcus Thuram, RMC Sport reports, and The Athletic says Spurs could also be eyeing RB Leipzig's Marcel Sabitzer

- Former Roma coach Paulo Fonseca has emerged as Spurs' preferred option to replace Jose Mourinho and the sides have discussed a three-year contract, the Guardian reports. 

- Former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard could be in the mix for the Crystal Palace opening, the Daily Mirror reports. 

Is Cristiano Ronaldo's time in Turin coming to an end?

Juventus reportedly feel the end could be nigh.

Paris Saint-Germain are waiting in the wings…

 

TOP STORY –  RONALDO HEADING FOR EXIT?

Juventus are convinced Cristiano Ronaldo is considering his future with the Serie A giants, according to Goal.

Ronaldo has been tipped to leave Juve amid growing speculation, with Diario AS reporting Paris Saint-Germain have opened talks with the superstar.

Juve and Ronaldo – also linked with his former clubs Manchester United and Real Madrid – reportedly met on Thursday following the return of head coach Massimiliano Allegri, who has replaced Andrea Pirlo.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester City are the team most interested in Tottenham's Harry Kane, says Fabrizio Romano. Kane is reportedly looking to leave Spurs and the England striker has been linked with Premier League champions City, United, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona. City are eyeing a replacement for Barca recruit Sergio Aguero, with Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland and Eintracht Frankfurt forward Andre Silva also targets.

Tottenham are in talks with Son Heung-min over a contract extension, reports Romano.

- BBC Sport claims Alisson is set to hold contract talks with Liverpool. The Brazil international goalkeeper's current deal does not expire until 2024.

- Football Insider reports Everton's Richarlison is on Madrid's radar following the appointment of ex-Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti. Madrid have long been tipped to prise Kylian Mbappe from PSG.

Juventus and PSG are in the race to sign Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. City and Inter have also been linked.

Memphis Depay is on the verge of completing a move to Barca on a three-year deal, per Diario Sport. Depay is available on a free transfer, with his Lyon contract expiring.

- The Yorkshire Evening Post claims Liverpool are among the teams interested in Leeds United's Raphinha. Manchester United and City are also believed to be among the possible suitors.

For Carlo Ancelotti, the lure of Real Madrid proved too good to turn down. Again.

A first full season in charge at Everton had resulted in a 10th-place finish in the Premier League, though there was no sign of the Italian doing anything other than planning for the future at Goodison Park during the close-season.

Then, however, Zinedine Zidane left Madrid and everything changed. In a flash, Ancelotti is now back in the Spanish capital six years after Los Blancos said 'thanks, but no thanks', ending a first stint in charge that spanned two eventful years and included a historic Champions League triumph.

"What did Ancelotti do wrong? I don't know," club president Florentino Perez said when announcing Ancelotti's exit in 2015. The pair parted ways as work colleagues but the personal relationship remained intact, allowing them to come back together again.

Perez opted to dispense with Ancelotti despite him delivering 'La Decima', as well as the Copa del Rey and FIFA Club World Cup. He also boasted the best success rate of any head coach to be at Madrid for a minimum of 50 games at 74.8 per cent, winning 89 of his 119 games. That number eclipses Jose Mourinho (71.9 per cent) and comfortably Zidane, too (65.4 per cent).

However, there was no league title the first time around. Now the former Milan, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain boss gets another crack at conquering LaLiga, with Los Blancos aiming to knock noisy neighbours Atletico Madrid off their perch.

Attack the best form of defence

There will be some familiar faces in the dressing room to greet Ancelotti upon his return, but also some notable absentees from the squad he left behind.

Across his previous reign, Madrid averaged 2.7 goals per game. That number was aided by the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo, the club's all-time leading scorer now taking up residence in Turin.

In LaLiga, Ancelotti's side led the way in terms of goals, getting 104 in 2013-14 and then 118 in the following campaign, eight more than a Barcelona squad led by Luis Enrique that clinched a famous treble. His Madrid averaged 18.1 shots per game – the same number as Zidane's side during his first stint – with a conversion rate of 14.9 per cent.

The Frenchman's time between January 2016 and May 2018 sees similarities in terms of attacking numbers to the period under Ancelotti, the common denominator being they both had the irrepressible Ronaldo to call upon.

Zidane's comeback saw a different Madrid, one that attempted more passes – they averaged out at 596.5 per game, compared to 576 previously – but dipped in terms of attacking output, their goals-per-outing number dropping from 2.6 to 1.8.

There was an over-reliance on Karim Benzema in 2020-21, the French striker scoring 23 times in the league. No other Madrid squad member reached double figures, Casemiro next on six. Well, Gareth Bale did, though that was during a year on loan at Tottenham.

Ancelotti may struggle to match the offensive numbers of his previous version of Madrid, but he is acutely aware of what is expected from his team.

"The history of this club forces you to play well and have a spectacular game. I believe that football has changed in these years towards a more organisational approach, but the idea of ​​Real Madrid must remain the same," he told the media.

The same Ancelotti, only different

"This is not the same Carlo Ancelotti from six years ago. I have six more years of experience. Positive and negative. I was very happy at Everton and I have grown as a person and as a coach."

Those were the words of the man himself at a news conference on Wednesday which covered a number of topics, including Sergio Ramos' future, the potential arrivals of Kylian Mbappe and Ronaldo, plus the open letter released by the man he has now replaced.

Ancelotti's appointment at Everton was seen as a coup for the Merseyside club and while there were high points during his reign, including a long-awaited win at Anfield (one of 11 away victories in 2020-21), but inconsistent results at home sunk hopes of securing European football, with a resounding 5-0 defeat to Premier League champions Manchester City ultimately bookending the 61-year-old's tenure.

Still, Ancelotti averaged 1.53 points per game, better than any other previous Everton boss to have at least 10 games in charge, including David Moyes (1.50) and Ronald Koeman (1.47), who – if reports are to be believed – will be staying on at Barca, meaning the Toffees will have been coached by both men in charge for next season's Clasico contests.

However, it is Atleti who are the top team in Spain. Diego Simeone's side faltered with the line in sight, but still managed to finish first in a title race that had seemed set to be a procession at one stage during the campaign.

LaLiga is the solitary title in the top five European leagues to so far evade Ancelotti, who knows better than anyone that not even on-pitch success is always enough to keep you in one of the biggest jobs in football.

Speculation has swirled for months about the future of Lionel Messi following a season of change at Barcelona.

Barca have been busy already this off-season, signing Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia.

Compatriot Aguero had implored Messi to extend his Barcelona stay, which dates back to 2000, and it seems the striker may get his wish.

 

TOP STORY - MESSI RE-COMMITS TO CATALANS

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi is set to pen a new two-year contract with Barcelona, according to AS.

The Argentina forward has practically agreed to the deal, with only "structural details" to complete.

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have both shown interest in Messi but he looks set to commit until 2023.

 

ROUND-UP

- Everton are in the market for a new manager after Carlo Ancelotti's sudden departure and The Athletic reports they will consider Rangers boss and Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard. TalkSPORT claims ex-Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo is also on their radar.

- COPE claims that new Real Madrid boss Ancelotti will not push to recruit James Rodriguez from the Italian's former club Everton.

- The Sun reports that Arsenal are in pole position in the race to sign Raheem Sterling from Manchester City. 

- The Sun also claims any potential Sterling move to Arsenal may scupper Manchester City's plans to sign Tottenham's Harry Kane , as they want to use the winger in a swap deal given Spurs hefty asking price.

- Manchester United are keen on Sevilla defender Jules Kounde but Barcelona have joined the pursuit for his signature, claims Mundo Deportivo.

Carlo Ancelotti is the new head coach of Real Madrid after Florentino Perez attracted the Italian from Everton.

Ancelotti dramatically jumped to the front of the queue for the job when it had looked as though Raul and Mauricio Pochettino were the main contenders.

His appointment means a return to the club that sacked him six years ago, with Perez having been head of the board that reached that decision at the end of the 2014-15 season.

Perez said at the time he had a good personal relationship with Ancelotti, and that will have been a factor in bringing the veteran coach back to the Spanish capital.

Ancelotti could not deliver a LaLiga title during his previous two-year stint, but he helped Madrid win the Champions League in 2014 - the 10th time in their history they had become European club champions, famously recognised as 'La Decima'.

Madrid also landed the Copa del Rey in the same season and the Club World Cup in December 2014.

Since leaving the Santiago Bernabeu, Ancelotti has coached Bayern Munich, Napoli and Everton, joining the latter in December 2019.

Madrid confirmed his appointment on their official website, stating: "Carlo Ancelotti is Real Madrid's new manager. The 61-year-old Italian coach comes from Everton and returns to our club after making history in his first spell.

"He managed Real Madrid for two seasons, between 2013 and 2015, and became the coach of La Decima. With him at the helm, the team reigned again in Europe 12 years later after the unforgettable Lisbon final against Atletico."

Madrid relinquished the league title in the 2020-21 season as Atletico Madrid were crowned champions in Spain.

Under the guidance of Zinedine Zidane, they finished the campaign without a trophy, after an early Copa del Rey exit to minnows Alcoyano and a Champions League semi-final loss to Chelsea.

Zidane resigned last week, bringing an end to his second stint in charge, and now another coach gets a second opportunity at one of the most demanding jobs in football, where winning trophies is everything.

Ancelotti's Everton finished 10th in the 2020-21 Premier League season.

That position has been viewed as a failure in some quarters, given the investment in a world-renowned coach. Yet of all managers to have taken charge of at least 10 Premier League games with Everton, Ancelotti's average of 1.53 points per game is unsurpassed.

LaLiga is the only one of Europe's top five leagues that Ancelotti has not yet won, having triumphed in Serie A with Milan, in the Premier League with Chelsea, in Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain and in Germany's Bundesliga with Bayern.

He has also won the Champions League three times in his coaching career – twice with Milan and once with Madrid – which is a record he shares with former Liverpool boss Bob Paisley and Zidane.

Carlo Ancelotti is back in charge of Real Madrid and has plenty on his plate after succeeding Zinedine Zidane.

The Italian called time on an 18-month stay at Everton in order to return to the club where he won the Champions League, Copa del Rey and Club World Cup in a spell between 2013 and 2015.

However, Ancelotti inherits a Real squad with plenty of question marks over it.

The Spanish giants have just endured their first trophyless season since 2009-10 and so there is plenty for the 61-year-old to consider as he starts his second stint.

Sergio Ramos' future

Ancelotti joins a Madrid side who are on the cusp of losing captain Sergio Ramos for nothing. The Spaniard has long been in talks over a new deal but, with his current contract days from expiry, no breakthrough seems imminent.

Although his last season was hampered by injury that has cost him a place at Euro 2020 with Spain, Ramos still proved his worth time and time again.

Looking at his performances in LaLiga, the 35-year-old posted better statistics in tackle success rate (80 per cent) and tackles won per 90 minutes (0.85) than any of his fellow Real centre-halves.

He was also dribbled past fewer times per 90 minutes (0.28) than Raphael Varane (0.3), Eder Militao (0.48) and Nacho (1.03).

These statistics could well be enough to convince Ancelotti to keep him around.

Does Hazard have a role?

With 21 appearances, four goals, and further injury issues all Eden Hazard has to show for last season, it has been suggested a departure could be the best outcome for all parties.

But Ancelotti will no doubt be tempted to try and get the best out of the Belgian as he looks to fix an attack that needs to offer a wider threat.

Karim Benzema remains from the Italian's first stint, but no other Madrid player got close to the French striker's 23 goals in LaLiga last term, with Casemiro (6), Marco Asensio and Luka Modric (both 5) next best.

Hazard could be key to bridging that gap if he can stay fit for long enough periods.

What next for returning loanees?

One man who could help on the goal front is Gareth Bale, who scored 11 times in 20 Premier League appearances for Tottenham during a season-long loan stay in 2020-21.

The Welshman first joined Real under Ancelotti in the summer of 2013 and could be more open to staying put with a manager who has faith in him after becoming frustrated under Zidane.

It remains to be seen what happens with Martin Odegaard, who will return from a loan spell at Arsenal where he impressed but perhaps not to the degree necessary to earn a starting place in Madrid.

The futures of Luka Jovic and Brahim Diaz are also uncertain as they return from Eintracht Frankfurt and Milan respectively.

One big sale?

With Real feeling the pinch of a season without supporters, it is likely that the new manager will have to generate his own funds in the transfer market.

And, with moving on fringe players likely to be tricky, the possibility of selling a more in-demand asset increases.

Raphael Varane is one possible contender as he heads into the final year of his contract amid reported interest from the likes of Manchester United.

The Frenchman established himself as a regular starter in Ancelotti's second season and has missed just 68 of the 266 league games played since that point.

Real conceded an average of 1.1 goal per game without Varane across the past seven seasons, and 0.9 in the fixtures in which he featured.

Interestingly, though, their win percentage rose to 73.5 per cent without him in the side from 66.2 per cent with - will these statistics inform the manager's decision?

One big signing?

Money may be tight at Real Madrid, but that won't stop them being linked to the biggest names in world football.

Kylian Mbappe is one of them, the Frenchman having enjoyed another remarkable season in which he scored more goals (21) and landed more shots on target (55) than anyone else in Ligue 1.

The 22-year-old also converted 60.5 per cent of his big chances - a rate that would help ease Real's problems with lack of goals outside of Benzema.

Still, it remains to be seen whether Ancelotti can pull together the funds to start off his reign with such a high-profile signing.

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