Neymar and Kylian Mbappe left Fabio Capello cold with their performances for Paris Saint-Germain against Manchester City.

Italian coaching great Capello sees little prospect of a PSG comeback in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final, after City snatched a 2-1 win at Parc des Princes.

The Ligue 1 giants took a 15th-minute lead through captain Marquinhos, but Kevin De Bruyne's cross bounced beyond Keylor Navas and into the corner just after the hour mark to put City level.

The PSG defensive wall then cracked to allow Riyad Mahrez to score from a free-kick seven minutes later.

Neymar had two shots in the first 15 minutes, which both hit the target, but Mbappe did not have a single goal attempt.

Neither reached the heights they are capable of scaling, leading former Milan and Real Madrid boss Capello to wonder why they were so underwhelming.

"There were two of the favourites to win the Ballon d'Or on the pitch and they weren't filled with enthusiasm," Capello told Sky Sport Italia.

"We thought we were going to see fireworks and instead they just showed a lot of tension towards the opponent. I expected more from Mbappe and Neymar.

"The Champions League is not only about beauty, but it is also a competition in which small incidents count for a lot.

"City won with two strokes of luck. Firstly, the very serious error by Navas on De Bruyne's cross, then the bad luck PSG had on the second goal with the ball passing right through the hole in the wall."

The outcome meant PSG lost after leading at half-time in the Champions League for the first time since March 2001, when they were beaten 4-3 by Deportivo La Coruna in an epic game.

PSG were 3-0 in front early in the second half of that game but folded.

Twenty years on from that match, PSG will hope that City's lead in their last-four tie can be whittled away in the second leg next Tuesday.

Yet Capello reasoned that PSG "are unlikely to overturn" their deficit against Pep Guardiola's team, adding: "When City play calmly, they are difficult to beat."

Kylian Mbappe turned towards the bench. A wry grin was accompanied by what looked like a knowing nod, one that portrayed supreme confidence.

Had you been Joao Cancelo and seen such a display of composure from a player as deadly as Mbappe ahead of a Champions League semi-final, you might have been tempted to ask for an immediate substitution.

While much of the pre-match build-up from the PSG perspective focused on the Frenchman and his illustrious strike partner Neymar, in the end their magic was in short supply in Paris as Manchester City seemingly put one foot in next month's final.

City winning 2-1 wouldn't have been backed by many punters on the back of a particularly gripping first half at the end of which PSG arguably should've been more than 1-0 to the good.

There was a key pattern to the first half established within two minutes as PSG showed the raw tenacity of their midfield. Rodri was robbed and a counter was sprung, leading to Neymar shooting at Ederson.

That relentlessness from the PSG central trio was essential to the hosts outcompeting their City counterparts in the first 45 minutes.

While Mbappe and Neymar had been the centre of attention, it was their supporting case who were shining.

Mauricio Pochettino's set-up highlighted the respect held for Pep Guardiola and City, as PSG's shape resembled two banks of four designed to snuff out the spaces that the likes of Kevin De Bruyne enjoy exploiting.

But on top of that, PSG almost constantly had Mbappe and Neymar up as a central attacking duo. Pochettino was well aware that counter-attacking teams led by ball-carriers have been a problem for City.

Neymar's trickery at times in the first half certainly didn't make life easier for City. He left a couple of defenders in knots when testing Ederson in the 13th minute, before then pulling off a clever nutmeg on De Bruyne.

But for the most part PSG's star duo took something of a backseat.

Idrissa Gueye, Leandro Paredes and Marco Verratti were especially effective as they hounded after the City midfield, while the threat of counter-attacks meant City's full-backs played withdrawn roles.

While they would normally create overloads out wide, there was little sign of that as Cancelo and Kyle Walker were forced to sit deep.

Marquinhos' wonderful header was a just reward for PSG's excellent first-half display and might have had some pointing out: 'Hey, there's more to PSG than Mbappe and Neymar!'

But the tables turned in the second half, and dramatically so.

With the full-backs pushed higher and the wide midfielders coming in a little narrower, City looked to suffocate PSG and keep them penned into their own half as much as possible.

The intensity adopted by the likes of Verratti, Paredes and Gueye was seemingly unsustainable and the out-ball to Mbappe was cut out instantly almost every time, while Neymar became a passenger.

The Brazilian's most significant movement after the break was to sprint 30 metres to ask the referee to send De Bruyne off. He was unsuccessful.

City's start to the second half saw them well on top and that remained the status quo virtually until full-time, as they appeared in less of a rush and instead returned to their ideals relating to ball retention.

The equaliser certainly had a hint of fortune about it as De Bruyne's delivery from deep went all the way in, but it was a consequence of City's unrelenting pressure.

Their second, not too long after, will undoubtedly have Pochettino asking questions of his players, with Riyad Mahrez's free-kick somehow allowed to squeeze through a feeble wall.

Gueye's straight red then helped maintain City's lead, but it was Guardiola's changes at the interval – getting City back on the front foot and in control – that proved pivotal.

The Catalan has frequently in the past been accused of getting in his own way, overcomplicating things and getting caught out, especially in this competition.

Not here, though. No, he went back to basics when their situation was looking a little dicey and it proved a masterstroke.

Neymar believes he and Kylian Mbappe have formed the best duo in world football at Paris Saint-Germain.

Mbappe and Neymar are expected to start when PSG host Manchester City in the first leg of their huge Champions League semi-final tie on Wednesday.

The French champions were beaten by Bayern Munich in the final of last season's competition and are looking to become the ninth team to reach back-to-back finals.

Neymar arrived from Barcelona in 2017, the same summer when Mbappe was brought in from Monaco – with the two deals remaining the most expensive transfers in football history.

The two world-class forwards are at different stages of their careers and both are out of contract in 2022.

Neymar hopes they can continue their partnership at PSG, which he believes is making history, for the foreseeable future.

"With Kylian Mbappe, our relationship has always been very good since his arrival," Neymar said to RMC.

"We have been playing together for four years now and making history. He is a very high level player with whom I take a lot of fun playing. 

"I hope we will continue to play together for many years to come because it's hard to find such a duo for sure. 

"I don't see a better duo than us in football."

City eliminated PSG in their only previous knockout tie meeting in European football, progressing 3-2 on aggregate in the Champions League quarter-final five years ago.

Neymar has either scored or assisted in each of his three appearances in a Champions League semi-final.

The Brazil forward has also had a direct hand in nine goals from his 12 matches against English sides in the competition (five goals and four assists).

He thinks PSG, now managed by Mauricio Pochettino after the sacking of Thomas Tuchel, are playing at their highest level since he signed for the club.

"Absolutely," he said. "We are a team that are much more prepared and we know what to do. 

"Last year we went to the final, we hope to get there again. 

"I'm calm, I have complete confidence in my team, in my team-mates - we will get there."

Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar wants Kylian Mbappe to "break all the records possible" as he hailed his star team-mate ahead of the Champions League semi-final against Manchester City.

Neymar and Mbappe are central to PSG's Champions League hopes this season, with last year's runners-up preparing to face Pep Guardiola's City in the semis on Wednesday.

Mbappe – who has been linked with LaLiga giants Real Madrid – has starred since joining PSG from Monaco in 2018, and the latter hopes they keep coming. 

Neymar spoke of his admiration for France forward Mbappe on the eve of the opening leg against Premier League leaders City in Paris.

"We have a great friendship. He is a great player and he has been showing that year after year," said Neymar.

"I hope he keeps scoring goals and playing well because that is how he helps us on the pitch. Of course, I am always behind him.

"I want him to break all the records possible. He is a fantastic person. I hope I can play well again and that PSG come out victorious."

Neymar, who moved to PSG from Barcelona for a world-record €222million fee in 2017, is under contract through next year but would like to continue playing alongside Mbappe at Parc des Princes in the future. 

More immediately, the pair will be focused on a return to the Champions League final, where they fell 1-0 to Bayern Munich in 2020.

Mbappe had returned from an ankle injury less than two weeks before the final, and he has also been a subject of injury concern this week. 

But PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino said Tuesday that Mbappe has recovered from the thigh injury that forced him to leave Saturday's Ligue 1 win over Metz.

PSG star Neymar has either scored (three) or assisted (one) in each of his previous three Champions League semi-final appearances, while he has had a direct hand in nine goals in his 12 matches against English sides in the competition (five goals and assists).

Pep Guardiola says the task of trying to stop Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar is enough to keep him awake at night.

Manchester City are away to PSG in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tie on Wednesday, neither side having won the famous trophy before.

Guardiola had left Barcelona by the time Neymar arrived at Camp Nou in 2013, the forward eventually forming a historic front three with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Such is the quality of Neymar, the City boss feels his former club would have won many more Champions League crowns had the Brazil talisman not moved to PSG in 2017.

Guardiola feels there is only so much that can be done against world-class opponents like Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and wants City to impose themselves on the game rather than set out just to stop PSG.

"Always unbelievable, the quality of these players they have," Guardiola said. "Defensive strategies [to stop them] don’t work. They are too good.

"I try to sleep well last night and I slept when I was not thinking about their players like that!

"They are incredible players, the quality they have, the way they play. We will try and stop them by defending together as a team and playing well as a team.

"We are going to concede counter-attacks, they have a lot of weapons.

"We will have to adjust something of course when you play against these players like we did against Tottenham, like we will against Wilfried Zaha [of Crystal Palace] in the next game.

"But at the same time, it wouldn't make any sense to not be who we are when we are arriving on this stage for just the second time in our history.

"I am pretty sure we will try to be ourselves and get the result we will need for the second leg. The best balance is to have the ball. If you have the ball all the time, the balance is there.

"We will concede counter-attacks, it's impossible [not to]. If you defend so deep, Neymar, Mbappe, Angel Di Maria, Marco Verratti, Marquinhos, they have a lot of weapons.

"They are used to playing teams who defend 90 minutes and they find a way. That is not the best way to defend against the team who have everything, it's best to impose your game like we have for five years."

Neymar has either scored (three) or assisted (one) in each of his previous three Champions League semi-final appearances.

The forward has also had a direct hand in nine goals in his 12 matches against English sides in the competition (five goals, four assists).

Guardiola was in awe of Neymar from the first time he saw him playing for Santos.

The former Barca and Bayern Munich boss added: "I remember when I showed clips of Santos, I remember I said, 'This is the king of Santos', and the players' mouths were open saying, 'Oh my god, what a player'.

"He's a joy to watch as a spectator, the personality, he has Brazil on his shoulders.

"I'm sure if Neymar had a longer stay in Barcelona they would win two or three Champions Leagues more. Those three were unstoppable, the best three I saw up front in my life.

"He decided to go to Paris, not a bad decision, a nice city and nice club. I want him to have stability, no injuries. I'm a big admirer because he helped to make football better. It's a pleasure to play a semi final against PSG."

Asked about Mbappe, Guardiola replied: "A young player, he will have the world of football ahead of him.

"Already a French champion, World Cup. Quite similar to Erling Haaland in terms of, 'Wow', how many goals, pace.

"Looks like a nice guy. Benjamin Mendy is his friend, says he's a nice guy. We're going to try to beat them, all of them."

Guardiola was visibly enthused on the pitch on Sunday after leading City to a fourth consecutive EFL Cup triumph with a 1-0 win in the final against Tottenham.

"Every time you get older you realise it's difficult to win titles," he explained.

"If you start the next season telling me I have to win one title, it doesn't matter which one, I say it's so difficult to do.

"The Carabao isn't the most important one but it is so nice to win it."

PSG, who were managed by Thomas Tuchel when they lost last year's Champions League final to Bayern Munich, are winless in their previous three matches with City in European competition (D2 L1).

City are playing in only the fourth semi-final in their European history after the Cup Winners' Cup in 1969-70 and 1970-71, and the 2015-16 Champions League.

Ahead of the tie, PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino described City as "one of the greatest teams in the world" and said he believes they are led by the best coach in the game in Guardiola.

Neymar, meanwhile, insists he feels "much better" at PSG than he did previously and has hit back at critics who accused him of lacking professionalism.

PSG are looking to become the the ninth side to reach back-to-back finals, but Guardiola has beaten Pochettino in 10 of their previous 18 meetings, with five draws and only three defeats.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino said star Kylian Mbappe asks about England and Spain amid speculation over his future.

Mbappe has been heavily linked with LaLiga champions Real Madrid, as well as Premier League holders Liverpool previously.

The France international is out of contract in 2022 but Ligue 1 champions PSG remain hopeful of re-signing the 22-year-old forward.

Pochettino was asked about his relationship with Mbappe ahead of Wednesday's Champions League semi-final first leg against Manchester City.

"Kylian loves football, he loves to talk about football," Pochettino said. "He asks about England – how is the game, the mentality and the culture there? – and also Spain and Argentina. He will watch, every day, games from England, France, Italy, Germany.

"He's only 22 but very mature, confident in his talent and open. He can speak French, of course, but also perfect English and Spanish. I speak in English and Spanish with him – more English than Spanish.

"I said to him the other day: 'I need to practise my French with you, to improve', and he said: 'Sure, but it's better for me to talk in English'. He loves to practise different languages.

"Before the [Champions League last 16] first leg in Barcelona, I told him that I'd won there one time with Espanyol and he said, very seriously: 'OK, tomorrow will be the second time'. I said: 'Are you sure?' And he said: 'Yes, don't worry. We are going to win'. He was laughing after the game and he said to me on the pitch: 'I told you, I told you, I told you'."

Pochettino spoke glowingly of fellow PSG star Neymar, who has also been linked with a move away from the French capital – a return to Barcelona continually discussed after he left Camp Nou in a world-record deal in 2017.

Neymar, who appears set to extend his PSG contract, has either scored (three) or assisted (one) in each of his previous three Champions League semi-final appearances, while he has had a direct hand in nine goals in his 12 matches against English sides in the competition (five goals and four assists).

"It's so easy with Neymar because you don’t need to do too much," Pochettino added. "From day one, he's been very open to work. He's very humble, he listens and always accepts all the instructions in a very good way.

"Brazilian players have something special inside. They love to play football because it's like a dance. They play like they are dancing. Ronaldinho was my team-mate when I was a PSG player and now Neymar. They need to feel good, to feel happy to perform in the best way."

PSG are just the third French team to reach the semi-finals of the European Cup/Champions League in consecutive seasons, after Saint-Etienne in 1975 and 1976 and Marseille in 1990 and 1991.

Pochettino's PSG are also looking to reach their second consecutive Champions League final, following their defeat to Bayern Munich in last season's showpiece.

PSG would be just the ninth side to do so in back-to-back campaigns, while only Atletico Madrid and Valencia failed to lift the trophy in either of their first two final appearances.

"The target in the last 10 years has been to win the Champions League and the club is working really hard to try to be there and win," said Pochettino, who upstaged Pep Guardiola's City en route to Tottenham's Champions League final appearance in 2019.

"It is that last step, which is always the most difficult. If you remember at Tottenham, it was always about the last step being the most difficult thing. But Paris Saint-Germain is there and now it is about winning. I love to feel this. I love to feel that you need to win every single game."

Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe is not thought to be in danger of missing Wednesday's Champions League semi-final first leg against Manchester City despite sustaining a knock on Saturday.

Mbappe scored two of PSG's goals in their straightforward 3-1 win at Metz, a victory that lifted the Parisians back to the top of the table – at least until Sunday.

Those goals took Mbappe to 19 goal involvements away from home this season, more than anyone else in Europe's top five leagues, while only Erling Haaland (10) and Robert Lewandowski (nine) have more braces.

It continued the France striker's hot streak, taking him to nine goals in seven league games having previously only netted four times in nine top-flight matches.

There was a cause for concern late on as Mbappe suffered what appeared to be a heavy blow to his knee, with the 22-year-old subsequently substituted.

But Pochettino is not worried about his star man, who would be a major miss against City.

"It's a blow to the quads," Pochettino told Canal Plus. "I don't think it's much, we hope it's not serious.

"I don't think he's in danger for Wednesday. It's just a blow. It does not give us that impression [that he'll miss the City game].

"Kylian was calm at the time of his substitution, even though the blow was painful."

Marco Verratti, who also assured fans regarding Mbappe, felt that winning on Saturday was vital for ensuring a positive mentality going into the City clash and keeping the pressure on title rivals Lille, who face fourth-placed Lyon on Sunday.

"You have to win if you want to win this title," the Italy international said. "We want to win as many games as possible.

"I think we are having a good run. We are happy with what we have done so far.

"We are on our way to winning all the titles. We are coming into this match [City game] in the best possible way. We know that we meet a team like us who can also achieve a treble.

"They have confidence in themselves. It's going to be a nice game. We know that we have to be 100 per cent.

"We are there, we are ready. We will fight for 90 minutes on Wednesday. Then we will move on to the return leg."

Kylian Mbappe scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain claimed a straightforward 3-1 victory at Metz on Saturday to put the pressure back on Lille in the Ligue 1 title race.

By no means were Mauricio Pochettino's side outstanding as a collective at Stade Saint-Symphorien, but Mbappe was, the France striker deadly in front of goal as he took his league tally to 25 for the campaign.

Mbappe's first arrived early on as PSG initially appeared in the mood, though they faded somewhat and failed to build on that goal despite Metz offering precious little themselves.

At least, that was the case until the break. Metz levelled just 49 seconds into the second half thanks to Fabien Centonze as PSG looked in danger of dropping points for the third time in six games, but Mbappe's deflected effort just before the hour restored the Parisians' lead and a late Mauro Icardi penalty ensured there was no collapse from the defending champions, who go two points clear of Lille.

PSG looked bright at the start as they took the lead after just four minutes, Mbappe racing on to Ander Herrera's pass over the Metz defence and volleying in off the post after bringing the ball under control with his chest.

Though that was hardly a prelude to unrelenting PSG pressure as they did not carve out another clear chance for another 22 minutes, with Metz goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja this time able to deny Mbappe.

The visitors then felt aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty late in the half as the lively Mbappe went down right on the edge of the area, though replays suggested there was minimal contact.

It was 1-1 quickly after the restart, as Centonze turned in Farid Boulaya's cross in what was a rare moment of attacking intent from the home side.

Parity did not remain for long, however, as Mbappe received the ball just outside the Metz area in the 59th minute and his rasping drive took a slight deflection to take it out of Oukidja's reach.

It looked like dominant PSG might not increase their lead in the latter stages, with Mbappe denied a hat-trick by a remarkable goalline clearance from Boulaya and Herrera smashing against the crossbar. 

But Dylan Bronn's clumsy foul on substitute Icardi in the box led to a penalty, which the Argentinian converted with a cheeky 'Panenka' as PSG return to the summit at least until Sunday. 

What does it mean? All eyes on Lille as PSG avoid shock ahead of pivotal week 

Given how often PSG have dropped points this season, few would have claimed this was a foregone conclusion beforehand, even with Metz's shoddy form in recent weeks. 

With that said, PSG's display was professional if not exceptional and it got the job done. Lille go to Lyon on Sunday needing to win to end the weekend as leaders, but an OL side still chasing Champions League qualification will not make it easy. 

PSG can now look forward to their date with Manchester City in the Champions League in midweek having not increased the heat on themselves. 

Neymar provides the spark 

While Mbappe takes the headlines with his brace, Neymar certainly warrants a mention. The Brazilian may not have been particular accurate in front of goal, with none of his four shots accurate, but he made five key passes in his 81 minutes on the pitch.  

A day to forget for Bronn 

Granted, there were few Metz players bar Boulaya who impressed, but Bronn will be particularly frustrated with himself. His foul to concede the penalty was brainless, as he recklessly swung his back leg out and caught Icardi. That killed the game off. 

What's next? 

PSG turn their attention to the Champions League now, with City visiting for the first leg of their semi-final on Wednesday before hosting Lens in Ligue 1 three days later. Metz go to Dijon next Sunday.

Kylian Mbappe scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain claimed a straightforward 3-1 victory at Metz on Saturday to put the pressure back on Lille in the Ligue 1 title race.

By no means were Mauricio Pochettino's side outstanding as a collective at Stade Saint-Symphorien, but Mbappe was, the France striker deadly in front of goal as he took his league tally to 25 for the campaign.

Mbappe's first arrived early on as PSG initially appeared in the mood, though they faded somewhat and failed to build on that goal despite Metz offering precious little themselves.

At least, that was the case until the break. Metz levelled just 49 seconds into the second half thanks to Fabien Centonze as PSG looked in danger of dropping points for the third time in six games, but Mbappe's deflected effort just before the hour restored the Parisians' lead and a late Mauro Icardi penalty ensured there was no collapse from the defending champions.

PSG looked bright at the start as they took the lead after just four minutes, Mbappe racing on to Ander Herrera's pass over the Metz defence and volleying in off the post after bringing the ball under control with his chest.

Though that was hardly a prelude to unrelenting PSG pressure as they did not carve out another clear chance for another 22 minutes, with Metz goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja this time able to deny Mbappe.

The visitors then felt aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty late in the half as the lively Mbappe went down right on the edge of the area, though replays suggested there was minimal contact.

It was 1-1 quickly after the restart, as Centonze turned in Farid Boulaya's cross in what was a rare moment of attacking intent from the home side.

Parity did not remain for long, however, as Mbappe received the ball just outside the Metz area in the 59th minute and his rasping drive took a slight deflection to take it out of Oukidja's reach.

It looked like dominant PSG might not increase their lead in the latter stages, with Mbappe denied a hat-trick by a remarkable goalline clearance from Boulaya and Herrera smashing against the crossbar. 

But Dylan Bronn's clumsy foul on substitute Icardi in the box led to a penalty, which the Argentinian converted with a cheeky 'Panenka' as PSG return to the summit at least until Sunday. 

Is Ibrahima Konate bound for Anfield?

The 21-year-old defender has caught the eye of both Liverpool and Manchester United.

But, the Merseyside club appear set to win the race for his signature.

 

TOP STORY – KONATE HEADING TO ANFIELD

Liverpool have agreed a deal to sign Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig, according to the Guardian.

Konate had also been linked with Premier League rivals Manchester United, who are eyeing a new centre-back at Old Trafford.

But Liverpool have reportedly agreed a five-year contract with Konate, who has a €35million (£30.5m) release clause.

 

ROUND-UP

- The front page of Saturday's Mundo Deportivo reports Barcelona want to offer a new and improved contract to teenage sensation Ansu Fati, which would keep him at Camp Nou until 2026. The 18-year-old, previously linked to United, until at least 2022, with the option to extend it by a further two years.

- What does the future hold for Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma? The 22-year-old Italy star's contract is set to expire at the end of the season and he is yet to re-sign at San Siro amid links with United, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Real Madrid. While Milan remain hopeful of keeping Donnarumma, Calciomercato says they have begun conversations with Lille's Mike Maignan.

Milan, Inter and Roma are eyeing Torino captain and star forward Andrea Belotti, claims Calciomercato.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Manchester City are set to sign Metinho in the same deal with Fluminense team-mate Kayky.

Madrid remain optimistic about the possibility of signing Kylian Mbappe from PSG, according to Le Parisien. Mbappe has been tipped to join Los Blancos, who have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

Between 2003 and 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo won three Premier League titles and the Champions League among other honours at Manchester United.

Ronaldo has since gone on to play for Real Madrid and Juventus, but he could be set for an Old Trafford reunion.

Watch this space…

 

TOP STORY – UNITED MAKE RONALDO CONTACT

Manchester United have made contact with Cristiano Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes over a return to Old Trafford, according to the front page of Friday's Gazzetta dello Sport.

Juventus superstar Ronaldo has been tipped to leave Turin, where he arrived in 2018, amid links with former clubs United and Real Madrid, as well as Paris Saint-Germain.

Ronaldo, who starred for United between 2003 and 2009, would have to take a wage cut in order to make a Manchester reunion a reality.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS claims Madrid are willing to sell Raphael Varane in order to raise transfer funds amid strong links with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and PSG star Kylian Mbappe. Varane has been linked with United and Chelsea.

- Staying at the Santiago Bernabeu, and AS says the future of captain Sergio Ramos looks less likely to be at Madrid. The likes of United and PSG have emerged as possible destinations for the superstar Spain skipper.

Barcelona are prioritising the signing of Lyon captain Memphis Depay, reports RMC Sport. Juventus have also been linked.

Rodrigo De Paul is wanted by Leeds United, Juve, Inter and Napoli, according to Calciomercato. Juve have been eyeing the Udinese star, but the Italian giants are also weighing up moves for United's Paul Pogba and Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez said he will do everything possible so the LaLiga giants do not lose their "rightful place" as one of the world's leading clubs amid strong links with Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

Madrid have long been linked with PSG's Mbappe, while in-demand Dortmund forward Haaland has emerged as a transfer target in the Spanish capital.

While discussing the new European Super League, which he is chairman of, Perez addressed the speculation regarding Mbappe and Haaland.

"The fans always ask me to buy Mbappe," Perez told El Chiringuito. "My answer? I say: don't worry... the truth is that he is a good player, yes.

"I've never talked to Mbappe. At least now... I don't know what's going to happen to his contract with PSG."

On Haaland, who has also been linked with Barcelona, Manchester City, Manchester United, PSG, Chelsea, Liverpool and Juventus, Perez added: "Haaland's father has visited our training ground Valdebebas, yes.

"Everyone has always had the same reaction: never seen anything like this.

"Haaland and Mbappe are two excellent players but what [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo have done is incredible."

Perez, though, ruled out a reunion with the club's all-time leading goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo in Madrid.

Ronaldo – who left Madrid for Juventus in 2018 – has been tipped to depart Turin and a Los Blancos comeback has emerged as a possible option for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

But Perez said: "Cristiano Ronaldo will not come back at Real Madrid.

"It does not makes sense, he has a contract with Juventus. I love him a lot, he has given us a lot."

Perez was also asked about the future of Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

The 35-year-old Ramos is yet to re-sign at the Santiago Bernabeu amid reported interest from the likes of United, PSG and Chelsea.

"I love Sergio Ramos, but we are in a very bad financial situation at Real Madrid," added Perez, who insisted Vinicius Junior is not for sale. "Nobody puts money into this club.

"Will he leave the club? I didn't say that... many things can happen. We will think about it at the end of the season."

Kylian Mbappe is pleased Paris Saint-Germain are involved in a title race this season as it demonstrates just how hard it is to be crowned Ligue 1 champions.

PSG closed to within a point of leaders Lille thanks to a dramatic 3-2 triumph over Saint-Etienne on Sunday, Mauro Icardi grabbing the winner deep into stoppage time at the Parc des Princes.

Mbappe underlined his importance by scoring twice in the see-saw contest, cancelling out Denis Bouanga's opener with his first before putting the hosts ahead from the penalty spot.

However, it seemed Saint-Etienne had secured a point when Romain Hamouma made it 2-2 in the second added minute.

"We got into a bit of trouble. When we lead 2-1 like that, we have to keep the score," Mbappe told Canal+. "But we didn't give up, we wanted to win.

"The championship is extremely important to us - it is a primary objective. It would be the 10th for the club and we want to participate in the history of the club.

"We want to win, we are competitors. People think it's easy to win. This year, it's good, there is a title race, it shows that it is not easy what we have done in recent years.

"We want to keep doing it. There is no secret; we have to give our all and win all the matches."

Only Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani have scored more goals in Ligue 1 for PSG than Mbappe. He has 23 in 28 appearances in the competition this season, as well as a further eight in the Champions League to help his side reach the semi-final stage.

Mauricio Pochettino is optimistic over the 22-year-old signing a new deal to extend his stay in the French capital, too.

"I am an optimist, and I hope that the best players at the club, in this case Kylian, will stay here," the PSG coach said.

On the game itself, Pochettino was pleased with the character shown by his players, particularly after they had seemingly let the win slip away when Hamouma equalised for the visitors.

"I don't know if it's a champion's victory, but it's the victory of a team which believes in itself, which does not surrender," Pochettino told the media.

"These are three very important points to stay in the championship race until the end. As staff, we always advocate confidence, optimism. This attitude is very important for approaching life and football.

"The team has the mentality, not just athleticism and talent, but also character. These three points give us energy, a very positive feeling to face what awaits us and which will be difficult."

Returning substitute Mauro Icardi gave Paris Saint-Germain a remarkable 3-2 win at home to Saint-Etienne on Sunday to significantly boost the champions' title hopes.

A perplexing encounter was goalless until the 77th minute when Denis Bouanga had Saint-Etienne in front and PSG, beaten in their previous three home Ligue 1 games, facing defeat again.

Kylian Mbappe levelled just 84 seconds later, though, and then won and converted a penalty to seemingly win the match and close to within a point of leaders Lille, held by Montpellier on Friday.

Yet that was far from the end of the drama, with an awful error from stand-in goalkeeper Sergio Rico gifting Romain Hamouma a 92nd-minute equaliser.

Saint-Etienne had just three more minutes to see out to protect a point but allowed Icardi, back after a month out with a thigh strain, to reach Angel Di Maria's cross and nod in to spark jubilant celebrations.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino said he will "fight with all my energies" to keep Real Madrid target Kylian Mbappe in the French capital.

Mbappe has long been tipped to join LaLiga champions Madrid, though PSG remain in contract negotiations with the star forward.

The World Cup-winning France international is contracted to PSG until 2022 and Pochettino is confident Mbappe will remain in Paris, where team-mate Neymar has been linked with a return to Barcelona.

"Mbappe to Real Madrid? I'll fight with all my energies to keep Kylian here at PSG," Pochettino told El Larguero.

"PSG are doing everything possible to keep Neymar and Mbappe.

"I am equally optimistic that Mbappe will stay. They both have a huge commitment."

While there are long-term doubts over Mbappe and Neymar, PSG have been linked with blockbuster moves for superstar Barca captain Lionel Messi and Madrid skipper Sergio Ramos.

Messi and Ramos are both out of contract at the end of the season and their futures remain uncertain.

PSG – through to the Champions League semi-finals against Manchester City after eliminating holders Bayern Munich – have reportedly emerged as strong suitors for six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi and Spain centre-back Ramos.

"Surely soon it will be known what happens with Leo Messi future and contract," Pochettino said.

Pochettino added: "Sergio Ramos? I don't like to talk about players who are not in my team.

"There are a lot of rumours... here at PSG we're working to improve the team."

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