Phil Foden has been a revelation since breaking into Manchester City's first team and the Premier League champions are eager to reward him with a new deal.

The England midfielder is under contract under 2024, but City are set to keep in at the club for the long term.


TOP STORY – CITY REACH FODEN AGREEMENT FOR BUMPER DEAL

Manchester City and Foden have reached an agreement in principle on a £78million deal according to Football Insider.

The mega-money deal is worth around £250,000 per week for the 22-year-old, pushing him close to the money Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland are earning.

The length of the contract is six years for the Stockport-born star, who came through the academy at City.

ROUND-UP 

Arsenal have moved on from Dusan Vlahovic , according to Fabrizio Romano, who claims the Gunners are not interested in re-visiting a potential move for the Serbian who joined Juventus in January.

Manchester United will dangle a five-year contract for striker Marcus Rashford as they look to tie him down long term, reports The Express. Rashford's current deal expires at the end of this season.

– Calciomercato claims Alex Sandro will depart Juventus when his contract expires at the conclusion of this season. The Brazilian has previously attracted interest from Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain .

Romelu Lukaku has no plans to return to Chelsea when his season-long loan with Inter expires at the end of this season, reports La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Chelsea are ready to pay £30million for Fulham's 17-year-old midfielder Luke Harris , claims The Mirror. Harris was called up to Wales' Nations League squad, but is yet to debut for the Cottagers.

Liverpool and Arsenal are both considering a move next year for Villarreal's 21-year-old winger Alex Baena , reports the Daily Mirror.

Todd Boehly's suggestion for the creation of a Premier League 'All-Star' game attracted plenty of ridicule, but he certainly can't be accused of a lack of vision or creativity.

The new Chelsea co-owner – and chairman and interim sporting director – was speaking at a conference on Tuesday when he proposed the Premier League 'Americanised' (or should that be 'Americanized'?) itself a bit.

A relegation play-off tournament between the bottom four teams was one idea; but the other, which attracted most of the headlines, was for a North v South 'All-Star' game, pointing out Major League Baseball (MLB) in his native United States made $200million from such an event this year.

A potential Premier League 'All-Stars' game was the talk of football media on Tuesday, so at Stats Perform we decided to have a look at who might line up for the North and South.

It was decided the north-south cut-off point would see Nottingham Forest qualify for the North, ensuring each All-Stars team had 10 clubs to select from.

First up, we have unrestricted squads, so essentially the very best teams possible; then, we have squads that are limited to three players from each club and every single Premier League must have at least a single player selected. So, without any further ado, let's see who made the cut…

NORTH ALL-STARS (unrestricted)

4-3-3: Ederson (Manchester City); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Andrew Robertson (Liverpool); Rodri (Manchester City), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Phil Foden (Manchester City); Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Erling Haaland (Manchester City), Luis Diaz (Liverpool).

SUBS: Alisson (Liverpool), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Joao Cancelo (Manchester City), Raphael Varane (Manchester United), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Fabinho (Liverpool), Casemiro (Manchester United), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United).

You knew the starting XI was going to look like that even before reading, didn't you? Manchester City and Liverpool obviously dominated the first team here, but it feels difficult to argue with almost any selection here.

The goalkeeper choice was probably the toughest, but only because Ederson and Alisson are both so strong and simultaneously significantly better than any other eligible shot stoppers in terms of their all-round game – Ederson ultimately got the nod owing to 13 more clean sheets over the past three-and-a-bit years, but either could've got the gig.

Similarly in defence, many of the North's options pick themselves. The centre-backs, Van Dijk and Dias, have each won the Premier League Player of the Season award in the past four years, while Alexander-Arnold and Robertson have at least 12 most assists than any other defender since the start of the 2019-20 season.

While the defence had a distinctively Liverpool look to it, City dominate the midfield because… well, they tend to dominate the midfield. Rodri provides the control and defensive protection, while Foden and De Bruyne can wreak havoc going forward and towards the flanks.

Salah and Haaland were obvious picks in attack. The Egyptian has been involved in 96 goals (66 scored, 30 assisted) since the start of the 2019-20 season, more than anyone else, while Haaland is arguably the most in-form striker in world football, having already netted 12 times in seven games for City.

Luis Diaz was perhaps the most uncertain one, but he's quickly become a key figure at Liverpool. His ability to cut inside or head for the byline makes him an unpredictable asset, and he's something of a double threat in terms of goals and creativity.

Cristiano Ronaldo's appearance on the bench owes much to his solid goal-scoring form last season.

SOUTHERN ALL-STARS (unrestricted)

4-2-3-1: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham); Reece James (Chelsea), Cristian Romero (Tottenham), Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea), Oleksandr Zinchenko (Arsenal); Declan Rice (West Ham), N'Golo Kante (Chelsea); Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Son Heung-min (Tottenham); Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal).

SUBS: Edouard Mendy (Chelsea), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Marc Cucurella (Chelsea), Jorginho (Chelsea), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Martin Odegaard (Arsenal), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace), Ivan Toney (Brentford).

This team has it all. A World Cup-winning goalkeeper, a defence with an ideal blend of youth and experience, a combative midfield and four world-class attackers.

Lloris gets the nod in net. He's been one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the league since his arrival from Lyon 10 years ago, and based on Opta's expected goals on target (xGOT) conceded metric, Lloris has prevented 3.8 goals since the start of the 2020-21 season, significantly better than his South All-Stars back-up, Chelsea's Edouard Mendy (-3.8).

Chelsea star James is the right-back, with his 16 goal contributions (six goals, 10 assists) since the start of last season topping the charts for a defender. Koulibaly and Romero are a formidable centre-back pairing, while Zinchenko has four Premier League titles to his name from his time at Manchester City.

James and Zinchenko are brilliant attacking full-backs, but the defence will need screening, and that is where Kante and Rice come into their own. Both super ball-winners, Kante's relentless energy will be complemented by Rice's ability on the ball, as he has demonstrated at West Ham.

That midfield protection will be needed, with a four-pronged attack ready to lay waste to the North's defence.

Sterling might not have made a flying start at Chelsea but is the best pick on the right wing, with Son – who shared the league's golden boot award last season – on the opposite wing. Kane will play a slightly deeper role, behind Jesus, who has had more touches in the opposition box (66), attempted more dribbles (34), more dribbles in the box (8) and won more fouls (21) than any other player in the Premier League this season.

NORTHERN ALL-STARS (restricted)

4-2-3-1: Jordan Pickford (Jordan Pickford); Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United), Vigil van Dijk (Liverpool), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Andrew Robertson (Liverpool); Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle United), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City); Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Pedro Neto (Wolves); Erling Haaland (Manchester City).

SUBS: Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Diego Carlos (Aston Villa), Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United), Renan Lodi (Nottingham Forest), James Maddison (Leicester City), Youri Tielemans (Leicester City), Jack Harrison (Leeds United), Antony Gordon (Everton), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United).

Our self-imposed restrictions of no more than three players from a given team gives the North All-Stars a distinctly different feel – nevertheless, Van Dijk, Dias, Robertson, De Bruyne, Salah and Haaland retain their places, for obvious reasons.

Probably the biggest casualty is Alexander-Arnold, but the North benefits from having another excellent forward-thinking option at right-back in Trippier, while Jordan Pickford starts between the posts – David de Gea was another option here, but the England international is better with his feet.

Bruno Guimaraes comes into the midfield, offering a valuable combination of bite and craft, while Fernandes will take up the number 10 position with De Bruyne dropping a little deeper – this shouldn't stifle the team's creativity too much given the Belgian is the only player with more chances created (239) than Fernandes (224) since the latter's Premier League debut.

The other new face in attack is Pedro Neto. Perhaps a wildcard choice, but the Portugal international is an exciting winger with lots of pace and trickery. While Salah will cut in off the opposite flank, Neto looks to get crosses into the box, and that could be an effective route to goal knowing the predatory instincts Haaland has.

Again, Ronaldo is held back in reserve.

SOUTHERN ALL-STARS (restricted)

4-3-3: Robert Sanchez (Brighton and Hove Albion); Reece James (Chelsea), Cristian Romero (Tottenham), Joachim Andersen (Crystal Palace), Oleksandr Zinchenko (Arsenal); James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), Declan Rice (West Ham), Mason Mount (Chelsea); Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Son Heung-min (Tottenham).

SUBS: Neto (Bournemouth), Ben Mee (Brentford), Tariq Lamptey (Brighton and Hove Albion), Joao Palhinha (Fulham), Lucas Paqueta (West Ham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace), Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal), Ivan Toney (Brentford).

Robert Sanchez has been a standout performer for Brighton under the now Chelsea boss Graham Potter, and he replaces Lloris now the restrictions have come into play. He has kept 24 league clean sheets since making his debut in November 2020, which trails only four other goalkeepers.

James, Romero and Zinchenko all keep their places in defence, though Koulibaly does not. He makes way for Joachim Andersen, who has been excellent since signing for Crystal Palace in 2021.

We have switched to a midfield three for this side, with Rice staying in the team but playing a deeper, anchoring role. Alongside him are two new faces in the form of England team-mates Ward-Prowse and Mount. Both provide energy and creativity in abundance.

Ward-Prowse's set-piece quality – no midfielder has scored more goals or created more chances from set plays since the start of last season as the Southampton captain – is a huge threat, while Mount has contributed to 21 league goals since the beginning of 2021-22.

Jesus is the unlucky striker to drop out of the starting XI, though he is on the bench, with Sterling, Kane and Son leading the line.

Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter is among five nominees for the Premier League's Manager of the Month award as his move to Chelsea draws closer.

The 47-year-old is widely reported to have agreed terms to take charge at Stamford Bridge following the departure of Thomas Tuchel on Wednesday.

Having been nominated for August's Manager of the Month gong, Potter's arrival at Chelsea could coincide with him being rewarded for a stellar start to the season with Brighton.

The Seagulls won three of their five games in August, drawing with Newcastle United and losing to Fulham, and finished the month in fourth place behind Tottenham, Manchester City and Arsenal.

Those three sides have also seen their leaders nominated, with Mikel Arteta, Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola shortlisted alongside Fulham's Marco Silva.

Arteta led Arsenal to five wins from five matches in August, while Conte and Guardiola did not taste defeat during the month and Silva led Fulham to two wins and two draws.

The nominations for Manager of the Month were released alongside the shortlist for August's Player of the Month, where City's Erling Haaland is the firm favourite to pick up the award after scoring nine goals in five matches.

Arsenal are the only side to have two nominees up for the award, in captain Martin Odegaard and striker Gabriel Jesus, with the eight-man shortlist dominated by players outside of the established 'top six' in the Premier League.

Brighton's Pascal Gross, Fulham's Aleksander Mitrovic, Newcastle United's Nick Pope, Leeds United's Rodrigo and Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha are the other nominees.

Mikel Arteta expressed his surprise after Bernd Leno suggested he was forced to leave Arsenal due to "politics" rather than performances.

The Germany goalkeeper swapped London clubs ahead of the 2022-23 season as he ended a four-year stay at Arsenal to join fellow Premier League side Fulham.

Leno penned a three-year contract with the Cottagers in a bid to boost his hopes of featuring at the World Cup for Germany later in the year, after falling behind Aaron Ramsdale in the Arsenal pecking order.

The 30-year-old departing Emirates Stadium came as no surprise after Arsenal brought in goalkeeper Matt Turner from New England Revolution, though Leno says he was forced out the club.

"When I realised that it wasn't about performance or quality, I knew I had to go," Leno told German newspaper Sport Bild.

"During the preparation I saw that it's not about performance, it's just about politics. It was clear to me: I have to get out of here."

Arteta appeared bemused when Leno's comments were put to him ahead of Arsenal's Europa League clash at Zurich on Thursday, claiming the suggestions were unexpected.

"I'm really surprised and I don't know if he's talking about the politics when he was starting every match or when he wasn't playing," the Arsenal manager said. "Really surprised about it."

As Leno looks to settle into life at Craven Cottage, Arteta looks ahead to a European campaign with Arsenal, who have been drawn in a group with Zurich, PSV and Bodo/Glimt.

The Gunners are among the pre-tournament favourites to go far in the Europa League, alongside their Premier League exploits that have seen them win five of their opening six games.

A 3-1 defeat at Manchester United ended the perfect start for Arsenal, who remain top of the league by a point, but Arteta knows he must balance players' workloads – especially Bukayo Saka.

"We will try to do our best to manage [Saka's] load, understanding that after November we have something that we've never experienced before," the Spaniard added, referencing the World Cup later in the year.

While Arteta may have to be cautious with star winger Saka, competing on the European front will offer other players a chance such as recent arrival Fabio Vieira, who signed from Porto in the transfer window.

"Hopefully you're going to see a lot more of him in the next few weeks and I'm sure you're going to enjoy," Arteta said of Vieira, before confirming the Gunners will be without Emile Smith Rowe due to injury.

"Emile felt some discomfort again in an area that he's been dealing with now for a few weeks. He hasn't trained in the last few days so he's out of the squad."

Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte has urged the club to "be realistic" despite an unbeaten start to the Premier League season.

A 2-1 victory over Fulham saw Spurs maintain their fine start to the season, moving just a point behind early pacesetters Arsenal ahead of their clash against Manchester United on Sunday.

Combined with a strong end to last season, which saw Spurs pip the Gunners to Champions League football, excitement around Spurs has risen as the club seeks to end a lengthy trophy drought.

However, Conte has pressed caution amid the rise in expectation and reiterated his belief that the club are still short of being able to compete at the highest level.

"It's important to have great enthusiasm and be excited for the team. At the same time I have to be realistic as last November the situation was really problematic as we lost 3-0 at home against United and then club decide to make decision," he said.

"In only 10 months someone think we are same level as other top teams, I don't think this is realistic. If I want to tell you a lie, I can tell you a lie."

Spurs' win against Fulham saw Harry Kane net a fifth of the season and an encouraging display from Richarlison, though last season's Golden Boot winner Son Heung-Min is still awaiting his first goal of the season.

Conte is not worried though, adding: "I'm not really worried because when I see this type of performances from my players, Sonny included, I'm not worried. We are going to score many goals with these strikers."

Attention will now turn to Wednesday's Champions League clash against Marseille, as Spurs' campaign in Europe's elite competition gets underway.

Harry Kane equalled Thierry Henry's record for the most goals scored in Premier League London derbies as Tottenham beat Fulham 2-1.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg opened the scoring in the first half and former Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno kept the score respectable with several fine saves.

Kane was able to double Spurs' advantage after tapping home from close range, with the goal also taking him third in the competition's all-time scoring chart.

Fulham were not done though, Aleksander Mitrovic scoring for the fourth consecutive game, though it proved to merely be a consolation.

Spurs had the ball in the net after just 10 minutes, Son firing a cross into the area that went all the way through and past Leno, but the offside flag was raised due offside team-mates in the middle.

The South Korean came close again shortly after the half hour mark, latching onto Kane's chipped pass over the Fulham defence to control with his chest but striking the crossbar with his attempt.

The breakthrough came five minutes before the break, Spurs winning possession with the press and Hojbjerg playing a neat one-two with Richarlison before driving a low effort into the far corner.

In the second half, Leno had to be alert to deny Ryan Sessegnon from netting against his former side and was again required to prevent Son's deflected effort.

With 15 minutes remaining, Kane tapped into the empty net to score his 43rd Premier League goal in a London derby.

The action was not done though, Mitrovic maintaining his scoring run before Richarlison saw a late goal ruled out for offside.

Antonio Conte believes Tottenham remain a long way away from challenging for the Premier League title despite enjoying a busy transfer window.

The north London club have strengthened their squad significantly since securing a top-four finish on the final day of last season, bringing in the likes of Richarlison, Yves Bissouma, Ivan Perisic and Clement Lenglet.

Spurs have made a bright start to the new campaign, picking up 11 points from their first five Premier League outings. 

Should they avoid defeat against Fulham on Saturday, Conte's men will have gone unbeaten through their first six games of a Premier League season for just the third time, having previously done so in 2004-05 and 2016-17.

However, while Conte claims to be pleased with Spurs' work in the transfer market, he believes his side have much to do to push the country's elite. 

"I think that we have to understand that in this transfer window, we did what the club could do," he said on Friday.

"I think that we did good things, but I have to be honest with you because if I see the other squads of the top teams, there is too much distance.

"For this reason, we have to know that we have just started on this process to improve the squad. 

"We tried to do it in January with [Rodrigo] Bentancur and [Dejan] Kulusevski and we tried to do that in this window on a numerical and quality aspect. 

"But to be competitive and to fight to be a title contender and to try to get a place in the Champions League, you need at least three transfer windows more to improve and to be in the same level as the other clubs.

"I'm sure that we are going in the right way for the capacity of the club at this moment to invest money.

"We have to be realistic to understand that there are clubs who can invest different money and other clubs that can invest normal money. For sure, the path is hard because of this aspect. 

"We want to continue to improve. I am happy to have this group of players and the new players are inside the team and inside the dressing room. We did the right things, but we have just started, if someone thinks we have completed the situation, we are very far from this."

Tottenham earned praise for completing several deals in the early stages of the window, but Conte does not believe that will give them an advantage over wealthier rivals.

"If you sign a player £80million or £100m on the last day you have a big advantage, because it means you are signing a top player," he added.

"You can sign players also for free or on loan, and it is a different situation. I want to be very clear on that."

After beating local rivals Arsenal to Champions League qualification last term, Spurs return to Europe's premier club competition when they host Marseille on Wednesday.

Conte claimed Spurs' congested fixture list will represent a crucial test of where they stand, adding: "The season starts now for a club like us playing in the Champions League, because in the Europa League and Europa Conference League you can allow yourself to make big rotations. 

"But in the Champions League you have to play a strong team and this is a harder task. This is a good opportunity for me and the club to understand if we miss something."

If there is one thing football fans will simply never be calm about, it is the amount of money their club spends on transfers.

No matter how many new, shiny players their team signs, that brief release of endorphins they get from watching YouTube compilations, checking Twitter for updates and finally seeing some over-produced nonsense of a reveal video soon dissipates and it's on to the next one.

Having said that, you wonder what it must have been like to be a Nottingham Forest fan during the transfer window, which finally closed on Thursday.

Back in the Premier League for the first time since 1999, Forest are determined to cement their place in the top tier.

Whatever anyone thinks about the quality of the arrivals, the club absolutely went for quantity as an incredible 21 players came through the door at the City Ground at a total cost – according to Transfermarkt – of £145.76m. Only Chelsea (£251.09m), Manchester United (£214.22m) and West Ham (£163.80m) spent more in the Premier League.

At the other end of the scale, the spending of the team that finished two places above Forest in the Championship last season, Bournemouth, has been comparatively meagre.

The Cherries committed just £24.21m to incomings, with three of their six new arrivals in the window coming in on free transfers, and one a loan.

Head coach Scott Parker was sacked on Tuesday after making his feelings known on the lack of investment from above after his team's 9-0 humbling at Liverpool.

But which approach is likelier to pay off in the long run? You would think Forest's launching of money at anything and everything will give them a better chance of staying up, and possibly even challenging higher up the table in future, but football is rarely that simple.

Using fees from Transfermarkt, Stats Perform has taken a look at the past 10 years of spending from the Premier League's promoted clubs to see how those who splashed the cash in their first season back in the big time fared.

Forest have, unsurprisingly, spent more than any promoted team in Premier League history.

The only club to have come close was Aston Villa in 2019-20, forking out £143.55m after they got themselves back into the top flight.

While it worked as they avoided relegation, they did so by the skin of their teeth, with the final-day draw at West Ham keeping them safe by a single point.

Their survival was largely down to the brilliance of Jack Grealish, who was already there, though some of their signings that season remain at the club - such as Tyrone Mings, Ezri Konsa, Douglas Luiz and Marvelous Nakamba.

There have only been two other clubs to spend more than £100m in their first season back in the English top flight and both came in the 2018-19 campaign, with very different results.

Wolves' outlay of £101.48m saw them challenging for the European spots, finishing seventh with 16 wins and 57 points, ahead of Everton, Leicester City and West Ham.

Fulham, on the other hand, spent slightly more (£104.85m), but it did them no good at all as they finished 19th and went straight back down to the Championship, leaving them lumbered with a lot of expensive players with big contracts.

They have managed to recover since, and invested £55.26m after promotion last season, but it was proof if it were needed that big spending is not even a guarantee of survival, let alone success.

There have been just five clubs that have spent less than Bournemouth in preparation to make the jump from the second tier to the Premier League since the start of the 2012-13 season.

Two of them came in that campaign, and as above, with mixed results. Reading spent just £9.74m and unsurprisingly went back down, while West Ham forked out £21.51m on new recruits and finished 10th, and have remained in the Premier League ever since.

The same thing happened in 2014-15 as Burnley's spend of £11.36m was not enough to keep them up, while Leicester's outlay of £20.57m is the least any promoted team has spent without going back down in the past decade. A year later, they won the league.

The least any promoted team has ever spent was fairly recently, with Norwich City deciding they would try and mix it among the best in the land in 2019-20 with an outlay of just £7.93m. It did not work.

Those stories do not really allow us to draw any conclusions though, given the vastly differing fortunes between clubs who appeared to follow similar volumes of spending.

That rings true throughout the past 10 years, with some interesting outcomes along the way.

In the 2013-14 season, Cardiff City (£41.23m) spent more money than both fellow promoted sides, Hull City (£27.99m) and Crystal Palace (£29.70m), but were the only one of the three to go back down.

The 2017-18 campaign is the only one in the past decade that has seen all three promoted sides stay up, with each of them spending between £40-60m (Newcastle United - £41.85m, Huddersfield Town - £51.08m, Brighton and Hove Albion - £59.85m).

In the 2020-21 campaign, only high-spending Leeds United (£96.12m) stayed up of the promoted teams, with West Brom (£37.93m) and Fulham (£33.53m) going back down.

However, last season, only low-spending Brentford (£33.03m) stayed up, with Watford (£39.15m) and Norwich (£57.20m) going back down.

Across the past 10 seasons, the team that spent the most out of the three newly promoted sides has ended up being relegated in five of them, while in seven of the past 10 seasons, the team that spent the least of them has been relegated.

So, what can we gleam from all this?

Essentially, spending money does appear to provide a slight upper hand. Those who have spent more have given themselves a better chance of staying up, but arguably not by the extent you would expect, or even to the extent that makes doing so worthwhile.

Those who choose to be more frugal seem to pay for it eventually, apart from those who already had a strong squad or structure anyway, such as West Ham in 2012-13.

As is the case throughout the game, spending money will only work if it is done with intelligence and the players purchased are utilised efficiently.

Forest will be hoping Steve Cooper can continue to control the wheel as ably as he did in the Championship, but for whoever takes over at Bournemouth, this season might be like getting ahead of Formula One cars in a Ford Focus.

With the transfer window closing on Thursday, some clubs will be scrambling to assess their options.

There may be some movement of free agents still, while clubs who missed out on targets will be weighing up their chances in January with contractual situations evolving.

Inter defender Milan Skriniar is one player who was heavily pursued without success and who will have only six months left on his contract at the turn of the year. 

TOP STORY – PSG TO PERSIST IN SKRINIAR PURSUIT IN JANUARY

Paris Saint-Germain will revive their failed pursuit of Milan Skriniar in January, according to L'Equipe.

PSG made three offers for the Slovakian defender which were rebuffed by the Italian giants, including one worth €50million.

Skriniar is into the final year of his Inter deal and PSG boss Christophe Galtier had been eager to bring him to the French capital.

ROUND-UP

– Napoli will try to sign PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas again in January after missing out on him, reports L'Equipe. The report claims the Costa Rica international and PSG may opt to terminate his contract by mutual consent before January.

Marco Asensio had been linked with Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool in recent weeks but he has committed to seeing out his Real Madrid contract which expires in mid-2023, according to Mundo Deportivo.

– The Telegraph reports Blackburn Rovers will be open to pre-contract offers to their hot property forward Ben Brereton Diaz in January after rejecting bids from Fulham and Everton. The Chile international has less than 12 months remaining on his deal at Ewood Park.

With matchday six just around the corner, fresh off the first midweek Premier League fixtures of the season, now is when things can start to get tricky.

Some regular starters will likely be rested, and some new faces could emerge and force their way into the calculations going forward.

In a sink-or-swim week, it will be important to focus on players considered too important to their respective side to leave out – but who are those players?

Using Opta data, Stats Perform is here to help, with four suggestions of players that are in form that is impossible to ignore.

David Raya (Brentford v Leeds United)

Brentford's David Raya produced one of the more unlikely goalkeeping performances of the season in his side's 4-0 win over Manchester United – although maybe it should not have been unexpected.

The Spain international has only the one clean sheet to his name this season, but he ranks second in saves-per-90-minutes, and since the start of last season, he ranks second in save percentage.

Only Jose Sa (75.7 save percentage) has a higher save percentage than Raya's 74.2, and only Dean Henderson (five saves per 90 minutes) stops more shots per game this campaign than Raya's 4.4.


 

Joao Cancelo (Manchester City v Aston Villa)

Manchester City's Portuguese full-back has established himself as one of the most reliable fantasy picks as a crucial part of one of the Premier League's best defences, while also proving to be a consistent source of goals.

Since the start of the 2021-22 season, Cancelo ranks fourth out of all defenders for goal involvements with two goals and seven assists, while only Virgil van Dijk (22) is credited with more clean sheets than Cancelo's 21.

He gets a friendly matchup against Aston Villa as well, who this season have scored four goals and conceded nine from their five matches, placing them in the bottom-five in both categories.

Bukayo Saka (Arsenal v Manchester United)

Arsenal are enjoying their best start to a Premier League season since 2003-04, with five wins from five matches, and 20-year-old winger Bukayo Saka is a big reason they are such a threat going forward.

Among Arsenal players, Saka ranks second in both assists (two) and chances created (10) – and it is no product of a small sample size.

Since the beginning of last season, only Kevin de Bruyne (102), Mohamed Salah (84) and Son Heung-min (80) have created more chances than Saka (78) – with a gap back to Mason Mount in fifth (66).

Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham v Tottenham)

It should never be a surprise to see Aleksandar Mitrovic scoring goals, but to be going at a goal-per-game in a newly promoted side is evidence of the special talent the Serbian possesses.

Only Erling Haaland has more goals than Mitrovic's five so far, and he is tied with the Norwegian for the Premier League lead in both shots (22) and shots on target (12).

Mitrovic's hot start follows his Golden Boot win in the Championship last season, where he netted 43 goals in 44 appearances. Out of England's top four leagues, Mitrovic is 19 goals clear of any other player since the start of that campaign.

The transfer window has been gently eased shut, and there were plenty of last-minute deals to keep fans across Europe captivated.

Southampton were busy, adding Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Duje Caleta-Car to their ranks, among others, while Barcelona allowed Martin Braithwaite to join Espanyol on a free transfer and sold Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Chelsea.

As the seconds ticked down, clubs dotted their i's, crossed their t's and blew the dust off their fax machines, and here is just some of what took place in the closing hours.

Busy Saints bring in four, lose one

As far as the Premier League goes, it was Southampton who got up to the most activity in the final moments, signing Maitland-Niles on loan from Arsenal and Caleta-Car permanently from Marseille on a four-year deal, as well as adding two Manchester City youngsters in Juan Larios and Sam Edozie. They let defender Yan Valery to Ligue 1 side Angers.

Brighton and Hove Albion completed the signing of Billy Gilmour from Chelsea and released Romanian striker Florin Andone, while Chelsea let Ethan Ampadu join Serie A side Spezia on loan and finally allowed Kenedy to depart Stamford Bridge after seven years to join Real Valladolid in LaLiga.

Carlos Vinicius returned to the Premier League after a loan spell with Tottenham in 2020-21, having joined Fulham from Benfica on a permanent deal. The Cottagers also completed a loan deal for Leeds United winger Daniel James.

The Whites were frustrated in their attempts to sign Bamba Dieng from Marseille, but instead clinched a deal for Italian youngster Wilfried Gnonto from FC Zurich for an undisclosed fee.

Nottingham Forest added signings number 20 and 21 of the window in Josh Bowler from Blackpool and Loic Bade from Rennes, with free agent Serge Aurier potentially making it 22, though a reported late move for Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi failed to materialise.

Jan Bednarek had been linked with a move to West Ham earlier in the day but ended up leaving Southampton on loan to another team in claret and blue as Aston Villa brought in the Polish defender.

Brooks was here, now he's in Lisbon

On the continent, Benfica completed the signing of American defender John Brooks from Wolfsburg, while Maxi Gomez left Valencia for Turkish side Trabzonspor.

Los Che brought in a replacement for Gomez in Justin Kluivert on loan from Roma after his move to Fulham fell through due to work permit issues.

In France, highly rated forward Amine Gouiri swapped Nice for Rennes in a reported club-record fee apparently worth €28million, while Lille secured a loan deal for Everton midfielder Andre Gomes.

As well as signing Aubameyang and Hector Bellerin and losing Braithwaite, Barcelona also said goodbye on a temporary basis to Ez Abde, who joined Osasuna on loan.

Deadline day has seen major transfers aplenty, with clubs across Europe pushing to complete final pieces of business before the window slams shut until 2023.

Barcelona have terminated Martin Braithwaite's contract, the forward widely expected to join Espanyol, while in France, Abdou Diallo completed a switch to RB Leipzig to begin an exodus from Paris Saint-Germain.

Further deals for both clubs are also on the cards, with a frantic end to the window expected in the final hours.

Premier League's power push

PSG's exodus was of benefit to English sides, Fulham signing Layvin Kurzawa on loan and Everton bringing Idrissa Gueye back to Merseyside three years after he left for the French capital. Gueye said: "There is no better feeling than coming back home. I've followed the team every week and watched how they play. For me, there is no better place than Everton so that's why I chose to come back here."

Fulham have also signed former Chelsea and Arsenal playmaker Willian on a free transfer.

Nottingham Forest hit number 19 for the window, drafting in Willy Boly from Wolves, while Southampton saw Jack Stephens move across the south coast to join Bournemouth on loan.

Arsenal's quest for a new midfielder has seen attention turn to Aston Villa's Douglas Luiz, though the Gunners face a stern test with bids reportedly rebuffed from the side they defeated 2-1 on Wednesday.

Chelsea look set to bring one of the long-running sagas of the window to a close, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang poised to join from Barcelona. Marcos Alonso is expected to move to Camp Nou as part of that deal and the Blues may sell Billy Gilmour to Brighton and Hove Albion.

One player not on the move, however, was Joao Pedro as he confirmed he would remain at Watford amid reported interest from Newcastle United and Everton.

Europe's eye for business

On the continent, Julian Weigl moved to Borussia Monchengladbach on loan from Benfica. 

Free agent Florian Grillitsch has joined Ajax, who are said to have turned down approaches from Chelsea and Everton for Edson Alvarez and Mohammed Kudus respectively.

Krzysztof Piatek also departed Germany, leaving Hertha Berlin for Serie A side Salertina, and was followed to Italy by Aster Vranckx, joining Milan on loan from Wolfsburg.

The Serie A champions are not yet finished, with an announcement confirming the capture of Sergino Dest from Barcelona expected imminently.

In Spain, Luca Zidane, son of Zinedine Zidane, joined second-tier outfit Eibar on a free transfer following his exit from Rayo Vallecano and Ilaix Moriba joined Valencia on loan from Leipzig, with Gennaro Gattuso's side also closing in on signing Justin Kluivert from Roma following the collapse of a proposed move to the Premier League.

Real Sociedad were also in on the late action, landing forward Umar Sadiq from Tenerife, the Nigerian likely to be a replacement for Alexander Isak.

Fulham have confirmed the signing of former Chelsea playmaker Willian on a free transfer, as well as completing a loan move for Paris Saint-Germain's Layvin Kurzawa.

Willian, who left Corinthians in August after receiving death threats, had re-joined the Brazilian side last year when he had his contract with Arsenal terminated. 

The 34-year-old only spent a year at Emirates Stadium, having failed to come close to replicating the success he enjoyed in a seven-season stint at Chelsea.

Willian, who has penned a one-year deal, has now made the return to London with Fulham, who have enjoyed a bright start to the Premier League season under Marco Silva.

"I'm happy to be here, I'm happy to be back in the Premier League," Willian told the club's website. "Fulham is a special club, a club that wants to improve, that wants to fight for something bigger, so I'm here to help, and I cant wait to get started."

Willian marked Fulham's second acquisition of the final day of the transfer window, following on from Kurzawa.

The French left-back has signed on loan for the remainder of the season.

"I feel very, very happy to be here. It's a family here, everyone is very cool," said Kurzawa. "I've watched every Fulham game this season, and I can't wait to play with this team."

Fulham are reportedly in talks with Leeds United to sign winger Daniel James before the deadline, while also targeting PSV striker Carlos Vinicius, who spent the 2020-21 season on loan at Tottenham.

Chelsea are expected to be one of the major players on deadline day, having completed a deal for Wesley Fofana on Wednesday.

The Blues have been one of the big spenders during the transfer window and owner Todd Boehly is eager to bolster his squad after a slow start to the season.

Barcelona forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been linked with the Blues, along with Anthony Gordon, although Everton boss Frank Lampard insists he is not for sale.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA OFFERED CHANCE TO SIGN PSG'S NEYMAR

The Daily Mail claims Chelsea have been offered the chance to sign Neymar, but the Times reports that Paris Saint-Germain are now refusing to sell him in an apparent U-turn.

The 30-year-old Brazil international had been linked with a move away from Paris during the off-season, although nothing substantial materialised.

Chelsea were approached about Neymar, with PSG potentially open to letting him go as they seek to avoid any issues with UEFA's Financial Fair Play guidelines.

ROUND-UP

Chelsea have made a €50 million (£43m) bid for Ajax centre-back Edson Alvarez, according to the Telegraaf. The Blues have already added Fofana but want more reinforcements, with the Mexican able to also play in midfield.

Chelsea are also interested in Aubameyang, with Fabrizio Romano claiming negotiations are progressing with Marcos Alonso involved in a deal with Barcelona. The Blues have also been linked with Milan's Rafael Leao, according to The Times.

– Mundo Deportivo reports that Barcelona and Inter have agreed to a deal for full-back Jordi Alba to join the Nerazzurri on loan. The deal is on the basis that Robin Gosens leaves Inter for Bayer Leverkusen.

Milan are set to win the race to sign Barcelona's Sergino Dest, beating out interest from Manchester United, claims Gianluca Di Marzio. Dest will join the Rossoneri on a season-long loan with the option of a permanent deal.

Newcastle United are in the race to sign Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans, claims the Mail. Arsenal are also interested in the Belgium international.

Fulham have submitted a bid for Blackburn's Chile international Ben Brereton Diaz according to The Athletic. Rovers boss Jon Dahl Tomasson has said he would cost a lot of money, with Fulham's offer not disclosed.

– PSV have opted against selling 23-year-old Netherlands international Cody Gakpo amid interest from Leeds United and Southampton, reports The Athletic.

Chelsea are looking to make another massive long-term investment, with reports they are aggressively moving for 20-year-old RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol in a deal that would cost £77.4million (€90m).

Gvardiol, who has 10 senior international caps for Croatia to his name, has established himself as one of the most exciting young defenders in Germany.

He has been linked to a host of elite clubs, but Chelsea appear to be at the front of the queue and would allow the centre-back to stay at Leipzig until next year.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA PLAN ANOTHER CENTRE-BACK SPLURGE FOR GVARDIOL

The Stamford Bridge club have made a number of big defensive signings in this window, with Kalidou Koulibaly and Marc Cucurella set to be followed by Wesley Fofana.

Koulibaly is 31, though, and has joined veteran Thiago Silva at the heart of the defence, explaining why Chelsea may already be looking at a succession plan.

Fabrizio Romano says the Blues are "in advanced talks" with Leipzig over a deal that would be completed now but only see Gvardiol make the move in 2023.

ROUND-UP

– PSV forward Cody Gakpo appears destined for the Premier League, with The Telegraph reporting Everton, Leeds United and Southampton are all interested in a player believed to be valued around £30m.

– The Telegraph has named a list of potential Fulham targets, including former Chelsea winger Willian, Paris Saint-Germain defender Layvin Kurzawa, Roma winger Justin Kluivert and Marseille forward Bamba Dieng

– The Daily Mail is reporting Brighton and Hove Albion are investigating a move for Billy Gilmour, although Chelsea's lack of depth in midfield could complicate matters.

– Aston Villa forward Douglas Luiz has some high-profile admirers, with Matheus Leal reporting Liverpool have submitted a £20m bid, and The Telegraph adds Atletico Madrid are also prepared to make the same offer.

Leicester City are negotiating a deal for their potential Fofana replacement in 24-year-old Reims centre-back Wout Faes, believed to be worth £17.2m, according to the Daily Mail.

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