Lionel Messi, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and players of their ilk should be protected by referees, according to Ronald Koeman, who hopes the Paris Saint-Germain star can face Barcelona in the second leg of their Champions League tie.

Barca host PSG in the first game of their last-16 contest on Tuesday, but Neymar – who spent four years at Camp Nou – will be absent due to an adductor injury suffered against Caen last week.

The Brazil international is expected to be out for four weeks, in theory ruling him out of the return leg against Barca at the Parc des Princes, where he has scored as many Champions League goals (16) as he did at Camp Nou but from six fewer games (14).

The second leg comes around on March 10, just before the predicted four-week absence period is due to end, so there remains a glimmer of hope for Neymar, and Barca coach Koeman would like for the PSG talent to be involved.

"To see the best game, you always have to have the best players on the field of play," Koeman told reporters on Monday.

"You never know how a team reacts if they lack a player like Neymar. Both teams have casualties. I hope in a couple of weeks everyone can be there to find out who is the best.

"I think we must always protect this type of player, players like Neymar, Messi, Cristiano, because they let us enjoy their quality a lot.

"And in this respect, the referees have to defend them, but in football there is contact and the players have to know that when they play one-on-one, and the referees have to decide when it is an ugly foul, but football is still a contact sport."

Given the tie had been billed as something of a duel between Messi and Neymar, understandably much of the focus from a PSG perspective has switched to Kylian Mbappe, despite the France forward netting only once in his nine Champions League knockout games for PSG

Koeman acknowledged Mbappe's talents but was keen to stress there is more to both teams than a single player.

"It is not a duel between Messi and Mbappe," he continued. "It is a duel between two teams played on one side by Leo Messi, the best player in the world and whom we need in his best form to win the tie, and similarly PSG with Mbappe.

"He is a very fast player who can complicate things a lot. It will be a beautiful game and these players are to be enjoyed as a football fan."

While Koeman suggested he hoped Neymar could feature in Paris next month, Jordi Alba – a former team-mate of the PSG talisman – was brutally honest in his appraisal of the situation.

"I am not going to deceive you, personally, it is better that players like Ney do not play in the opposing team," he added. "He is an important loss for them, like [Angel] Di Maria, who defensively and offensively contributes a lot.

"PSG has important players and I am sure that the people who replace them will have the same or similar level. It will be a contested tie that'll be decided by small details. We also have significant casualties from great players but the people who come in are doing well."

Barca are aiming to reach the quarter-finals of the competition for a record 14th successive season, and the omens are not great for PSG, who have only ever won once away to Spanish opposition in the knockout rounds of the Champions League.

Ander Herrera does not believe it is possible for Paris Saint-Germain to add Lionel Messi to an all-star attack that already includes Neymar and Kylian Mbappe due to Financial Fair Play reasons.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi is out of contract with Barcelona at the end of the season and has been strongly linked with French champions PSG and Premier League leaders Manchester City.

PSG already have superstar forwards Neymar and Mbappe on their books, with the Ligue 1 giants in talks over extending both players' lucrative contracts beyond the end of the 2021-22 season.

However, as rumours persist over a possible end-of-season switch to the Parc des Princes for Messi, who saw details of his five-year contract made public last week, Herrera has cast doubt over whether a move is feasible for his side.

"Messi, Neymar and Mbappe together? I don't know how that would work with Financial Fair Play, but I don't think so," he told El Larguero. 

Former Manchester United midfielder Herrera was unwilling to discuss the transfer rumours in any further detail, though, out of respect for Barcelona.

"I'm not going to get into this one," he said. "When everyone at Barca was talking about Neymar, inside and outside the club, we did not like it.

"I'm not going to do something that I don't like being done to me. I have a lot of respect for Barca, Messi, his coach and his team-mates.

"It is not a strategy. Me, I will not speak about him. I respect those who do it, but I put myself in the shoes of the club in which Messi has evolved."

Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman last week accused PSG of being "disrespectful" for continuing to discuss Messi in public after Angel Di Maria encouraged talk of a high-profile transfer going through.

Herrera added: "If I were I at Barca, I would not like people talking about Messi. It does not seem to me to be a lack of respect, but I will not do it."

Kylian Mbappe has welcomed Neymar's increasingly positive comments on his Paris Saint-Germain future, saying his team-mate deserves to enjoy a historic career in France.

Neymar, who has repeatedly been linked with a move away from PSG since joining the Ligue 1 giants in 2017, last month appeared to give a firm indication he will remain in Paris.

The Brazil superstar told TF1: "I want to stay at PSG and I hope Kylian stays too."

Neymar is reportedly close to agreeing a new four-year contract with the club and played a role in Sunday's 2-0 win over Classique rivals Marseille despite this week suffering with illness.

Keeping Neymar and Mbappe on board would represent a huge boost to PSG in their long-term bid to win the Champions League, having reached the final under Thomas Tuchel last season.

And Mbappe was upbeat as he told Canal+ of his thoughts on Neymar's commitment.

"This is great news. Everyone knows how important he is," the World Cup winner said. "I hope he can write history for Paris for a long time to come. He and the club deserve it."

Mbappe was speaking after netting the opener in the win at Marseille, a ninth-minute effort his only attempt but a vital strike.

No PSG player has made more appearances (26) or scored more goals (18) in all competitions than Mbappe this season, while he trails only Angel Di Maria – an injury worry against OM – in regards to Ligue 1 assists after the Argentine midfielder teed up his latest finish.

Mauro Icardi, now with five league goals in 11 games, added the second from one of his four efforts as PSG stayed within three points of Ligue 1 leaders Lille.

That is still only enough for third place, meaning Mbappe and Co cannot yet allow a Champions League meeting with Neymar's former side Barcelona to become a distraction.

"Unfortunately, we lost points all over the place, so we have to focus on each Ligue 1 game," Mbappe said.

"In previous years, we could have concentrated on the Champions League, but we are behind in Ligue 1. We have to play with intensity to make sure we are not surprised."

There was certainly no shortage of intensity at the Stade Velodrome, even if the one red card – for Dimitri Payet – appeared meek in contrast to the five in the reverse fixture.

PSG lost 1-0 at home and so were determined to respond, Icardi describing a desire for "revenge".

Mbappe added to Telefoot: "Personally, I think [the Classique] has changed a lot. When I arrived, it was not like this, not the same types of matches. It was not the same importance.

"But this year there is a boost and it has regained importance, both for us, the players, and the new staff.

"All week, we prepared like a Champions League match, a big match, a match apart. The team's mentality has changed."

That mentality delivered a 45th PSG victory in 100 Classiques, as Marseille trail on 33 wins against their bitter rivals.

Will he leave Paris Saint-Germain or not?

That is the question regarding French star Kylian Mbappe.

Real Madrid are keen, but they are reportedly prepared to wait.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID WAITING FOR MBAPPE

Real Madrid have decided to wait to sign Kylian Mbappe until Paris Saint-Germain put the French star up for sale, according to Marca.

LaLiga champions Madrid have been tipped to sign Mbappe, who has also been linked with Premier League holders Liverpool.

PSG are trying to re-sign Mbappe as his contract runs out in 2022, and if they are unsuccessful amid their pursuit of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, Madrid are ready to pounce.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca says Sergio Ramos' knee injury could spell the end of his illustrious career with Madrid. Ramos is out of contract at season's end and the star captain has been linked to the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, PSG, Chelsea and Juventus.

Liverpool are interested in Leeds United winger Raphinha, reports Football Insider. The Brazilian only moved to Elland Road at the start of the season.

- Gazzetta dello Sport claims Juventus are hoping to sign Roma sensation Nicolo Zaniolo.

Paris Saint-Germain returned to winning ways in Ligue 1 with a 3-0 victory over bottom side Nimes at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday. 

The champions suffered a shock 3-2 loss to lowly Lorient on Sunday - their first defeat under Mauricio Pochettino - but responded with a comfortable victory on home soil. 

Star man Angel Di Maria profited from a terrible Lamine Fomba error to open the scoring and then crossed for Pablo Sarabia to add a second before half-time. 

Kylian Mbappe scored a stunning third goal for PSG, who were without the suspended Neymar, but they remain third in the table as leaders Lille and second-place Lyon also triumphed.

Moise Kean clipped the outside of the post with a header from 10 yards but PSG were ahead seven minutes later through Di Maria's composed finish. 

Nimes midfielder Fomba played the ball straight to Di Maria's feet and the Argentina international fired away from Baptiste Reynet after teeing himself up. 

The home side nearly had a second soon after when Presnel Kimpembe headed a corner back across goal and Thilo Kehrer turned it against the underside of the crossbar. 

But Sarabia did manage to double his team's tally nine minutes before the interval, heading Di Maria's right-sided cross into the bottom-right corner from five yards. 

Fomba was denied by Sergio Rico as he tried to make amends for his earlier error, while Anthony Briancon and Renaud Ripart also had attempts saved by the stand-in PSG keeper. 

Nimes continued to ask questions of their opponents but the game was put out of their reach by Mbappe, who curled a shot past a stranded Reynet to seal the win. 

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar has reportedly decided to stay with the Ligue 1 giants.

Neymar's contract is due to expire in 2022 and the forward has repeatedly been linked with a return to Barcelona.

But the Brazil international seems set to remain at PSG.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR AGREES TO FOUR-YEAR EXTENSION WITH PSG

Neymar has agreed to a four-year extension with PSG, according to TNT Sports Brasil correspondent Marcelo Bechler.

The deal will keep Neymar, who arrived at PSG from Barcelona in 2017, tied to the Parc des Princes until 2026.

Neymar has won nine domestic trophies, including three Ligue 1 titles, since arriving in Paris.

 

ROUND-UP

- Also out of contract next year is Neymar's star PSG team-mate Kylian Mbappe. TNT Sports Brasil reports selling the forward, who has been linked to Real Madrid previously, would give the Ligue 1 giants the chance to sign Barcelona star Lionel Messi or Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos, or both.

- Real Madrid could also be set for other business. AS reports LaLiga's champions are prepared to sell Vinicius Junior in the next transfer window, with the 20-year-old having netted just three times in 25 appearances in all competitions this term.

- Arkadiusz Milik joined Marseille on loan from Napoli in January, but Juventus are still considering a move for the forward, according to CalcioMercato.

- Dele Alli was reportedly wanted by PSG in January, but the midfielder ended up staying at Tottenham. The Telegraph reports Spurs chairman Daniel Levy blocked Alli's move due to the club's injuries and run of poor form.

- A free agent, Daniel Sturridge's future remains unclear. The Daily Mail reports the forward is wanted by MLS clubs.

Achraf Hakimi only moved to Inter from Real Madrid at the start of the 2020-21 season.

But the future of the Morocco international is already making headlines.

Will Hakimi still be an Inter player at the end of the campaign?

 

TOP STORY – HAKIMI WANTED IN ENGLAND

Manchester City are interested in signing Inter star Achraf Hakimi, according to Calciomercato.

Hakimi has established himself as a key player for Antonio Conte's Inter after arriving from Real Madrid.

But Inter – in the spotlight amid reported financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic – are facing a battle to keep Hakimi, with Chelsea and Arsenal also chasing the Morocco international.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato says Napoli want to bring back former head coach Maurizio Sarri. Gennaro Gattuso is under pressure and Sky Sport Italia claims the two parties will part in June. Sarri left Napoli for Chelsea in 2018. Former boss Rafael Benitez has also been linked.

Lionel Messi could help bitter rivals Madrid. According to El Chiringuito, Messi's proposed switch from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain could aid Madrid in their quest to prise Kylian Mbappe to the Santiago Bernabeu. Mbappe has also been linked to Liverpool.

- Fabrizio Romano says Liverpool, City, Chelsea, Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus are interested in Erling Haaland, but Borussia Dortmund have no intention of losing both the Norwegian and Manchester United target Jadon Sancho at the end of the season.

Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe said Neymar is the centre of the club's project as he hailed the Brazilian star.

Neymar joined PSG from Barcelona in a world-record € 222million deal in 2017, but he has been repeatedly linked with a return to his former club or LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

The PSG forward pledged to remain in Paris alongside Mbappe prior to Sunday's shock 3-2 Ligue 1 defeat to Lorient.

Mbappe – who is also out of contract in 2022 – has similarly been tipped to leave PSG for Madrid amid doubts over his future but talked up his relationship with superstar team-mate Neymar.

"I've always thought that great players were made to play together - and that's clear between us two," Mbappe told France Football.

"Our roles were established when I arrived in Paris: Neymar is the centre of the project and I'm here to help him.

"[This is] because when I arrived at PSG, I was only an emerging star and I had to prove myself on the pitch."

Mbappe has scored 106 goals and set up a further 54 in 148 appearances for PSG.

Since his debut for the club on September 8, 2017, the only players in the top five European leagues to have registered more goal involvements are Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (186) and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi (206).

Neymar, meanwhile, became the first PSG player since Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2015 to convert two penalties in the same game as the French giants fell to Lorient on Sunday.

It was only the second time in Neymar's career he has converted more than one penalty in the same game in the top five European leagues, having achieved the feat with Barca in October 2015.

"Neymar knows how to do everything," Mbappe added. "He's the best in the world.

"When he arrived in Paris, we realised everything he could do. He's not a player simply for putting on a show and dancing when you're winning 5-0. He also knows how to do spectacular things at 0-0.

"I don't know if everyone is aware, but Neymar understands everything. He has an instinct that makes him know how to do everything straight away."

Mauricio Pochettino is convinced star forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe will still be at Paris Saint-Germain next season. 

Brazil superstar Neymar joined after being bought out of his Barcelona contract for €222million in 2017, making it the most expensive transfer in football history.

He has been repeatedly linked with a return to Spain, either at Barcelona or Real Madrid, but the prospects of such a move now appear remote as those clubs battle with the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

Madrid have also been linked with a move for World Cup-winning attacker Mbappe, whose contract with PSG is due to expire at the end of next season.

Neymar's deal runs out at the same time but Pochettino, who took over from Thomas Tuchel last month, believes PSG are doing everything in their power to ensure the pair will be lining up for the French champions at the start of the 2021-22 campaign. 

"I believe that both will stay, and will stay a long time at PSG," he told RMC Sport. "And I have no doubts, I am very optimistic. The club is working to succeed in keeping them with us."

Asked if he knew this for certain or whether it was just a feeling, the former Tottenham boss responded: "It's a feeling, but it's also what I see. Neymar and Kylian are happy. They are having fun here and I also believe the club is working to keep them."

Mbappe has scored 106 goals and set up a further 54 in 148 appearances for PSG. Since his debut for the club on September 8, 2017, the only players in the top five European Leagues to have registered more goal involvements are Robert Lewandowski (186) and Lionel Messi (206).

Pochettino was full of praise for the France international, who he says has the football intelligence of someone much older than 22. 

"The other day I was talking to one of his team-mates about him and we were like: 'Who doesn't love Kylian? His smile, his energy' 

"He's young, a world champion at 19. With the talent he has, it's normal to be in love with Kylian. Everyone around him loves him. 

"He's only 22 but he's a very mature boy. He looks like a 35-year-old trained man already. He's very mature and very intelligent, very intuitive, and he understands that there are periods in football, ups and downs. 

"You have to be positive and you have to keep working to change those difficult times. But we have no doubts. Obviously we are talking with Kylian, but we are talking also to all other players."

PSG will hope to bounce back from Sunday's embarrassing 3-2 defeat to Lorient when they host Nimes on Wednesday.

Will he stay or will he go?

That is the question regarding Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, who is a reported target for Real Madrid and Liverpool.

If Mbappe opts to call time on his PSG stall, the French champions are still aiming high.

 

TOP STORY – LIFE WITHOUT MBAPPE IN PARIS?

Paris Saint-Germain are more determined than ever to give head coach Mauricio Pochettino a dream forward line amid doubts over Kylian Mabppe's future, according to Le10 Sport.

Mbappe – out of contract in 2022 – has been heavily linked with LaLiga champions Real Madrid and Premier League holders Liverpool.

If Mbappe does not remain in Paris, PSG will step up their pursuit of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

 

ROUND-UP

Massimiliano Allegri has turned down Roma as he waits for Madrid, repots Todofichajes. Zinedine Zidane is under mounting pressure in the Spanish capital, while it is a similar situation for Roma boss Paulo Fonseca.

Manchester City are willing to sign a striker and Messi this offseason, according to The Athletic. With City yet to offer Sergio Aguero a new deal, Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland and Inter pair Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku are reported targets as Pep Guardiola's side also eye soon-to-be free agent Messi.

- Fabrizio Romano says Liverpool have agreed to sign Ben Davies from Preston North End ahead of Monday's deadline day. Jurgen Klopp has been eyeing a defender due to the club's injury crisis.

Dele Alli's proposed switch from Tottenham to PSG is not progressing, reports Romano. Struggling for game time at Spurs, Alli has been keen for a loan move to PSG, but Tottenham are unwilling to sanction a departure as Inter block Christian Eriksen's return.

Leicester City are the frontrunners to sign Arsenal's Ainsley Maitland-Niles, claims The Mirror.

Neymar has given the firmest indication yet that he will sign a new Paris Saint-Germain contract and urged Kylian Mbappe to make the same commitment.

Brazilian superstar Neymar joined after being bought out of his Barcelona contract for 222million Euros in 2017, making it the most expensive transfer in football history.

He has been repeatedly linked with a return to Spain, either at Barcelona or Real Madrid, but the prospects of such a move now appear remote as those clubs battle with the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

Neymar and Mbappe, a player who has also been linked with both LaLiga giants, are contracted to PSG until the end of the 2021-22 season.

The Brazil forward has been unsettled in the past in Paris but now sees his future in the French capital, as he told TF1's Sept a Huit programme: "Yes, I'm very happy today.

"I feel happy. That's changed a lot. I couldn't say exactly why.

"I don't know if it's me or other things that have changed, but today I feel good. I've adapted, I feel more calm and I'm very happy here.

"I want to stay at PSG and I hope Kylian stays too. Of course, that's the wish of all the fans of Paris.

"We want PSG to be a great team. I want to continue what I've always done in Paris, play football and be happy."

His comments came in an interview conducted ahead of Sunday's shock 3-2 defeat to Lorient, in which Neymar scored two penalties.

That outcome gave new PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino a first defeat, and he will want his side to get back on track against Nimes on Wednesday before facing great rivals Marseille on Sunday.

If Neymar and Mbappe stay, and if rumours of a move for Lionel Messi come to fruition, then the Ligue 1 giants will have the most feared forward line in world football next season.

Since arriving at PSG in August 2017, Neymar has scored 53 goals and provided 29 assists in Ligue 1, while Mbappe has hit 78 league goals and registered 26 assists.

According to Neymar, his and Mbappe's connection could hardly be any closer.

"We have a relationship of brothers. Me, I'm the eldest. We really like playing together," said Neymar.

"I call him 'Golden Boy' because he's really golden. He has a huge heart. As a footballer, everyone knows what he's worth, but even off the pitch he's incredible."

Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele is open to joining Paris Saint-Germain in the future after revealing he has previously discussed a move with Kylian Mbappe.

France international Ndombele joined Tottenham from Lyon for a club-record fee reported to be around £63million in July 2019, ending long-running links with a switch to PSG.

He endured a difficult first campaign in north London but performances have improved in 2020-21, the 24-year-old featuring 26 times for Spurs in all competitions.

Ndombele remains under contract with Tottenham until 2025 and, while not actively seeking a transfer, he is not ruling out the prospect of returning to France with PSG, where ex-Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino is now in charge.

"I'm a boy from the Paris region. Wearing the Paris jersey one day? Why not. But today I'm at Tottenham, and it's going well," he told Telefoot.

"I spoke with Kylian about possibly coming to PSG - two or three years in a row we discussed it. It didn't happen and today at Tottenham it's going well, but why not in the future?"

Ndombele was left out of Tottenham's squad on occasions last season, but he has been praised by boss Jose Mourinho for working hard off the field to become a regular.

He ranks particularly high for dribbles, completing an average of 3.02 per game in the Premier League this term.

That places the midfielder behind only Christian Pulisic (3.28), Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa (3.53), Allan Saint-Maximin (4.66) and Adama Traore (5.24) among those to have played at least 10 games.

With his brace against Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup last Monday, Ndombele became the first Spurs player to score at least twice in a match as a substitute since Roman Pavlyuchenko against Birmingham City in May 2011.

Reflecting on a mixed time at Tottenham, Ndombele said: "It was tough. I questioned myself a lot, but now the page is turned.

"It's true that at a certain moment I wanted to leave, I didn't feel in the right place. I told them I wanted out. They didn't want me to go."

Ndombele is hopeful his form could see him earn a first appearance for France since June 2019 with the rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament on the horizon.

"Of course I miss the France team," he said. "As a competitor we want to be one of the best.

"The European Championship remains a goal in the back of my mind. If I do well at club level, why not be called up?"

Kylian Mbappe will be at Paris Saint-Germain "for many years to come", according to head coach Mauricio Pochettino.

Real Madrid have been heavily linked with a move for World Cup-winning attacker Mbappe, whose contract with PSG is due to expire at the end of next season.

The 22-year-old has scored 106 goals and set up a further 54 in 147 appearances for PSG. Since his debut for the club on September 8, 2017, the only players in the top five European Leagues to have registered more goal involvements are Robert Lewandowski (184) and Lionel Messi (205).

Mbappe is in talks with the club about a renewal but has never hidden his admiration for Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.

Pochettino is not worried, though, and believes Mbappe's future is at the Parc des Princes.

"Who doesn't love Kylian? He makes himself loved, with his smile, his face and his energy," Pochettino told Marca.

"At the age of 19 he was a world champion [with France], impressive things have happened to him, but he is special and different, with a lot of emotional intelligence.

"He has a lot of potential to develop but he is already [someone for the] present, not just the future. It's a challenge and a good thing to work with this kind of talent, it makes you a better coach. You give this type of player a solution and he gives you five back.

"There are a lot of rumours, but I think he will be at PSG for many years to come, and that's the club's hope. We are counting on him for as long as we are here.

"It's true that he has to make a decision [on his future], but he seems happy and very committed to this project."

PSG are open to the possibility of signing Messi from Barcelona, with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner able to leave Camp Nou on a free at the end of the season.

Asked if having Messi in his team would make him a better coach, Pochettino replied: "Whatever I say will be misunderstood, and I love what I have. Great footballers fit in any league and any team."

He was far more forthcoming when discussing Sergio Ramos, another high-profile player that will be a free agent at the conclusion of the campaign if he does not sign an extension with Madrid.

"After one month [at PSG] I am finding players with great leadership. The great [players] are able to play and coexist in different projects and cultures, but I am very respectful," said Pochettino.

"PSG's strategy has been the same for years, ever since we signed Ronaldinho: to look at market opportunities and bring in those who can improve what we have. We will see in the coming months.

"Here, Ramos would find a great club with the obsession to always win. PSG are one of the biggest [clubs] in the world."

Kylian Mbappe wants time to make a decision on his future as Real Madrid await a signal from the Paris Saint-Germain star.

Mbappe, 22, has been linked with a move to Madrid and his contract at PSG ends in 2022.

But will the forward end up at the Santiago Bernabeu?

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID WAIT FOR MBAPPE

Real Madrid are waiting for a signal from Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, according to Marca.

The report says Mbappe has asked for time to decide his future.

While Madrid have been most strongly linked with a move for Mbappe, Liverpool are also reportedly interested.

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Madrid and Fabrizio Romano says a new contract for midfielder Luka Modric is imminent. The Croatian midfielder's current deal expires at the end of the season.

- Dele Alli's future is set to be a constant talking point until at least the end of this transfer window. ESPN claims Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is reluctant to let the midfielder leave for PSG. Romano reports Spurs are still looking for a replacement and were working on re-signing Christian Eriksen, but Inter wanted a loan fee and the midfielder's salary paid in full.

- Lyon star Houssem Aouar was linked to Arsenal last close season, but the midfielder could head elsewhere. Gianluca Di Marzio reports Juventus are looking at the 22-year-old as an option ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

- Lucas Torreira seems set to move on from Atletico Madrid. Diario AS says Monaco are favourites to sign the midfielder, who is on loan at Atletico from Arsenal.

- Said Benrahma has made an impression at West Ham. Sky Sports reports West Ham have converted their loan for Benrahma from Brentford into a permanent move, paying £20million plus add-ons. The report says West Ham are also in talks to sign RB Leipzig forward Hwang Hee-chan.

Real Madrid would be better off signing Erling Haaland before Kylian Mbappe, according to Jorge Valdano. 

Since making his debut for Borussia Dortmund on January 18 of last year, Haaland has scored 37 goals in as many appearances in all competitions. The only players to have found the back of the net more in the same time frame are Cristiano Ronaldo (41) and Robert Lewandowski (51). 

The Norwegian's minutes-per-goal ratio of 77 is only bettered by Luis Muriel (57.7) among players from the top five European leagues to have scored at least 20 times in all competitions since his arrival at Dortmund. 

Over the same period, Mbappe has averaged a goal every 114 minutes for Paris Saint-Germain. However, he has only been involved in four fewer goals than Haaland (42 – 37 scored, five assisted) having scored 25 and set up another 13. 

Still, it is Mbappe who is reportedly the top target for Madrid, with his PSG contract set to expire at the end of next season. 

Former Madrid player, coach and sporting director Valdano would prioritise Haaland instead, however. 

"I would sign Haaland before Mbappe. He moves in small and large spaces, he scores with great regularity," Valdano told Onda Cero. 

"Understanding that Mbappe is a star, I am very impressed with Haaland. He scores goals of all types."

Madrid will need to improve their financial situation if they are to make a run at signing Mbappe and they are expected to allow Martin Odegaard to leave for Arsenal on loan. 

Across seven LaLiga appearances under Zinedine Zidane this season, Odegaard has supplied five key passes but not registered an assist or scored himself. 

He averages 27.5 passes ending in the final third per 90 minutes, second only to Isco for Madrid this season, but ranks seventh in the Madrid squad – of players who have featured in at least three LaLiga games – in terms of passes played into the box (4.3). 

While on loan at Real Sociedad last season, per 90 minutes the playmaker averaged 2.2 chances created, 23.2 passes ending in the final third – the lower number potentially due to La Real spending less time in the opposition's final third than Madrid – and 8.5 passes played into the box. 

Valdano believes Odegaard should have been more patient, suggesting that by biding his time he would have seen more action and grown in confidence. 

"It doesn't seem to me that Odegaard played badly when he had his chance, but he lacked a degree of daring and a greater sense of risk," he said. 

"He was too close to Casemiro and lacked prominence for the final pass, which is what is expected of Odegaard. 

"But that has to do with confidence, and I think time would have given him that. He lacked patience. A Madrid player should have a greater capacity for suffering, he must not give up too soon. 

"And even less so being so young and competing for the position of two stars like [Toni] Kroos and [Luka] Modric. They are not just any two players." 

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