Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland are the natural heirs Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, so says Gonzalo Higuain.

Both players have been linked with moves to Real Madrid, and Mbappe recently scored a superb solo goal to give Paris Saint-Germain a 1-0 lead over Los Blancos in their Champions League round-of-16 tie.

Madrid had multiple bids for Mbappe turned down in August. The 23-year-old will become a free agent at the end of the season.

Reports had suggested that Mbappe could miss Wednesday's return leg in Spain after suffering a knock in training, but with PSG hoping that he will be fit for the trip, former Madrid forward Higuain claims the forward is one of the two heirs apparent to Messi and Ronaldo.

The Inter Miami forward, who scored 107 goals in 190 LaLiga appearances for Madrid between 2007 and 2013, also believes Mbappe's arrival could take his old club back "to the top" of European football.

"[Mbappe] has all the characteristics," Higuain told Stats Perform.

"I believe that Leo and Cristiano at some point will stop playing, because life is like that, and Mbappe and Haaland will be their successors. 

"Of course, Mbappe has all the characteristics to take Real Madrid to the top."

Mbappe recently moved level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the joint-second highest goalscorer in PSG's history, with his tally of 156 goals for the French giants bettered only by Edinson Cavani, who scored 200 goals for the club.

Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti called Mbappe "unstoppable" after he downed the Spanish giants at the Parc des Princes last month.

PSG sporting director Leonardo, meanwhile, recently referred to Mbappe as the "best player in the world today", hinting the in-demand striker could yet elect to remain in the French capital.

Mbappe was suspended for PSG's 1-0 Ligue 1 loss to Nice last time out, and is the only player in the French top flight to have reached double figures for both goals and assists this season, with his 24 goal contributions (14 goals, 10 assists) helping the Parisians to a 13-point lead at the summit. 

Haaland, meanwhile, is one of the most prolific forwards in European football, and it has been reported that Madrid and Manchester City are leading the chase for the 21-year-old.

Since making his debut for Borussia Dortmund in January 2020, the Norway international has netted 80 times in all competitions, a tally which ranks behind that of only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (112) in the same timeframe of players in Europe's big five leagues.

Kylian Mbappe suffered a knock to his right foot in training on Monday, though Paris Saint-Germain suggested the initial prognosis was positive.

Mbappe did not feature against Nice at the weekend due to a domestic suspension, but was set to be crucial once again as PSG go up against Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old's brilliant late goal separated the sides in the first leg, with PSG holding a 1-0 aggregate advantage heading to the Santiago Bernabeu.

However, reports emerged on Monday that Mbappe had suffered an injury in training, potentially casting doubt over his participation.

PSG have now confirmed those reports were correct, but added that the first examination of the forward's problem was not overly concerning, though a further update would be made on Tuesday.

A statement released on PSG's official website read: "Kylian Mbappe received a knock on his right foot in training today. He has undergone treatment this afternoon.

"The medical tests are reassuring and another update will be made in 24 hours."

PSG's medical update also revealed that Sergio Ramos is still training individually and will be doing so until the end of the week.

Ander Herrera, meanwhile, is also training alone and is continuing treatment for conjunctivitis. He will resume training with the team towards the end of the week.

Mauricio Pochettino has suggested Paris Saint-Germain's defeat against Nice came down to misfortune more than anything else, after Andy Delort struck late to sink the Ligue 1 leaders.

The title frontrunners came up short against Christophe Galtier's hosts at Allianz Riviera thanks to the Algerian striker's late finish.

With the suspended Kylian Mbappe's absence leaving Les Parisiens short in attack, they have now lost consecutive league games on the road for the first time since April 2019.

Pochettino admitted that his side had not done enough to claim victory, but maintained Nice had not earned their three points either, chalking it up as something of a sporting incident.

"We thought it was going to end in a draw because neither of them had done enough to win," the Argentine stated in his post-game news conference.

"We had control of the game, especially in the second half, but we took a goal in transition and we lost. There's not much to analyse. There are times when if you cannot win, you mustn't lose."

With a Champions League last-16 second leg against Real Madrid to come, Pochettino was keen to re-focus thoughts towards the future, rather than dwell on Saturday's result.

"We are preparing for a competition that everyone in Paris is waiting for and that everyone dreams of," he added. "Wednesday will be a different game, a different opponent, a different competition. I have no doubts that we will play the game that we have to do".

Having guided Lille to the top-tier crown last term before a shock exit, Galtier has set about returning Nice to the upper echelons of the domestic pyramid in the south of France.

His win over PSG notched his fourth consecutive clean sheet as a manager against Saturday's opponents, while match winner Delort was one of his major signings last summer.

Speaking to Canal+ after the match, the Algeria striker was quick to heap praise on his coach too, stating: "He's the best coach in Ligue 1 and I hope he'll stay with us for a long time."

Xavi insisted he "cannot give details" on a potential transfer for Erling Haaland, but assured Barcelona are "working for the present and the future" in their dealings.

Haaland has thrived in the Bundesliga since he arrived at Borussia Dortmund from Salzburg in January 2020, scoring 80 goals in 79 appearances across all competitions.

That has made him one of the most sought-after talents, with a host of European's elite circling for when his reported €75million release clause kicks in at the end of this season.

Barca, Real Madrid and Manchester City are said to be the main suitors for the Norway international, who is yet to make his Dortmund future clear.

The Blaugrana club have confirmed 18-year-old winger Pablo Torre will sign from Racing Santander at the end of the season in a deal that could cost them more than €20million, and Xavi was asked whether the teenager could be joined by Haaland.

"I can't give details," he responded at a news conference previewing Sunday's LaLiga clash with Elche.

"The only thing I can say about Haaland is that we are working for Barca, for the present and future. If we announce something, you will know. Like yesterday with Pablo Torre."

 

Kylian Mbappe seems set to join Barca's Clasico rivals Madrid when his Paris Saint-Germain contract expires in June, and Xavi would welcome the France international's arrival in LaLiga, even if it is not at the Camp Nou.

"The more players at this level, of course, the league would improve," Xavi said. "Obviously, it would be even more attractive."

Xavi believes that Barca still have the pulling power to attract high-profile signings, while he detailed his plans for the incoming Torre.

"It's still one of the advantages," Xavi said of Barca's ability in the transfer market. 

"It's explaining the project, trust and being honest with the player we want to sign. The model, the idea of the game, which he will enjoy, the club, which is the best in the world, the city.

"The most important thing is that I haven't seen any player who has said no to Barca. They all want to come. It's exciting to come to Barca.

"We have been following Pablo. He is a natural talent. He can play inside, on the wing, he dominates with both feet.

"He is very young and has the ability to play for Barca for years. It depends on him and his mentality. 

"He is a great signing for the present and future. He will have be involved with the first team, but he will play the role of Abde [Ezzalzouli] and [Ferran] Jutgla as a rotational option."

Paris Saint-Germain will be without the suspended Kylian Mbappe against Nice, but Mauricio Pochettino knows his side should not rely on individual performances from one of the world's best players.

PSG are 15 points clear at the Ligue 1 summit ahead of a clash with third-placed Nice on Saturday, but they will not have Mbappe among their ranks.

The France international will return for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 clash with Real Madrid, who he has been heavily linked to when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Mbappe has dominated for PSG this season, scoring 14 times and assisting 10 goals in Ligue 1, while creating a team-leading 47 chances.

No other PSG player has more than five goals (Danilo Pereira) and only Lionel Messi has as many assists, but Pochettino insisted his side cannot continue to rely on individuals to come up with match-winning moments.

"We're talking about one of the best players in the world," Pochettino said of Mbappe's absence at Friday's pre-match news conference. 

"The psychological aspect is important for his team-mates and the opponent. But we know it can happen during a season. The important thing is that the squad believes in its collective strength. 

"We have to develop the idea that the squad isn't strong thanks to individual performances, but rather thanks to its collective strength, which is something we have to cultivate despite having players missing."

PSG's away form in the top flight has come under scrutiny this campaign, picking up 25 points on the road in comparison to 37 at home.

But Pochettino assured that his team's away challenges are normal as they prepare for a trip to Coupe de France finalists Nice, who have won just one of their last 17 top-flight meetings against PSG.

"It can happen during a season. It happens to every big club – and not only to Paris – to play less well away from home," he added. 

"There's no single factor that determines that. We try to play each game in the same way, whether it's home or away. 

"We analyse the way in which we play, looking to dominate, if there is pressure, or a difficult atmosphere in terms of the opponent.

"We also have to acknowledge the contribution of our fans, who generate an atmosphere and give energy, that has an impact, not only on our players but also it negatively affects the opposition."

Pochettino, whose side have lost just one of their last 17 league matches, will see his side take a slender 1-0 lead to Madrid on Tuesday, but his focus remains on one game at a time.

"We have to be focused on the match against Nice and find the right tactics to win," he continued. 

"For the second leg, there will be players missing in Madrid. As for us, we'll see after Saturday's game which players are available. We'll see which is the best team to play Real after the Nice match. 

"We have to be competitive and focused on Saturday's game, out of respect for the competition and for Nice. The best means of preparing for big Champions League matches is to be focused all the time."

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo has promised every effort is being made to persuade Kylian Mbappe to sign a new contract.

Mbappe, whose 14 Ligue 1 goals this term make him the Parisians' top scorer, has been strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid when his current deal ends in June.

Madrid have made no secret of their interest, with LaLiga president Javier Tebas recently stating his confidence that the French World Cup winner would move to Spain.

However, recent speculation has focused on whether Mbappe could yet be convinced to remain in the French capital, and he scored a superb solo goal against Madrid last month to put PSG ahead in the two-leg Champions League tie against his would-be suitors.

Speaking to L'Equipe, Leonardo said PSG would "try everything" to keep the 23-year-old, claiming money was not the key factor in negotiations.

"We have a possibility [to keep Mbappe]," former Brazil star Leonardo said. "As long as there is no signature [with another club], we will try everything, we will do everything possible to retain him.

"We did not send a specific offer. There is an important element: I think the last thing we will put into this contract will be the amount of money. It's not about that. We want to put him in the best condition so that he becomes the best player possible."

Mbappe netted twice in PSG's 3-1 win over Saint-Etienne last time out to move level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic's tally of 156 goals for the club, placing him joint-second in the Parisian giants' all-time goalscoring charts behind Edinson Cavani, who scored 200 times for the club.

 

Mbappe is also the only player in the French top flight to have hit double figures for both goals and assists this season, and Leonardo says that means he has now joined team-mate Lionel Messi among the finest players on the planet.

"Kylian is the best player in the world today," Leonardo said. "Messi has always been at this level, and for me he still is, but it's normal that others arrive.

"It's not a case of judging who is best. One is 23 years old, and the other is 34."

Mbappe's tally of 10 league assists this campaign places him level with Messi as French football's most creative forces, and the duo have helped the champions-elect on a run that has included just one loss in their last 17 Ligue 1 outings.

Manchester United's search for a permanent manager continues to take up plenty of column inches, with a new name now entering the mix.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax chief Erik ten Hag have long been considered the two frontrunners to take over at Old Trafford.

But a somewhat surprise candidate is now reportedly being considered to succeed interim manager Ralf Rangnick on a short-term basis at the end of the campaign.


TOP STORY – ANCELOTTI A CONTENDER FOR UNITED

According to ESPN, United may look to appoint Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti as they explore contingency plans in their pursuit of a new manager.

While Pochettino and Ten Hag remain on the Red Devils' managerial shortlist, Ancelotti is said to be seen as an ideal short-term fix thanks to his vast experience.

The Italian has previously spent time in English football with Everton and Chelsea, winning a Premier League and FA Cup with the latter in 2009-10.

Ancelotti is currently in his second spell with Madrid and has another two seasons to run on his contract at the Santiago Bernabeu.


ROUND-UP

- PSG have offered Kylian Mbappe a contract worth €50million a year to fend off interest from rival clubs, according to Le Parisian. Madrid are the strong favourites to sign the France international should he depart the Parc des Princes as a free agent in July.

- Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta are also set to be out of contract at Chelsea in the next few months and are not short of potential suitors. Mundo Deportivo reports that Barcelona are confident of signing the pair, while Ajax's Noussair Mazraoui and Jose Gaya of Valencia are also targets.

- Madrid are hoping to replace Dani Carvajal at right-back ahead of next season and have a few potential options already lined up. That is according to El Nacional, with Man Utd's Diogo Dalot, Norwich City's Max Aarons and Pedro Porro of Sporting CP all mentioned.

- Sport claims that Barcelona are on course to wrap up contract extensions for Ronald Araujo and Gavi before the end of the month. Rising star Gavi will supposedly be offered a five-year deal that will include a mammoth release clause to ensure he stays at Camp Nou for the long term.

- Former Germany international Julian Weigl is nearing the end of his time at Benfica and has been offered to teams across the continent, according to Calciomercato. The Italian outlet suggests than Milan would prefer to sign Renato Sanches, potentially giving Roma a clear run for the €35m-rated midfielder.

Kylian Mbappe is widely expected to join Real Madrid at the end of this season.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward is out of contract and has not renewed with the French giants.

Madrid have long admired Mbappe and attempted an audacious bid to sign him in August.

TOP STORY – PSG STEP UP MBAPPE RENEWAL BID

Paris Saint-Germain are ramping up their efforts to convince Mbappe to renew with the club, reports Marca.

Mbappe has previously hinted he will join Madrid at the end of this season when his PSG contract expires.

PSG are pulling out all the stops to persuade Mbappe, who has been with the club since 2017.

 

ROUND-UP

- MLS club LA Galaxy have enquired about PSG defender Sergio Ramos according to Footmercato. Ramos has made five appearances for PSG since his off-season move and may be available on a free transfer.

- Manchester United are not willing to match Napoli's eye-watering £100m price tag for Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen reports the Daily Star.

- Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Juventus are hopeful that they can retain Spanish forward Alvaro Morata, who is on loan from Atletico Madrid.

- Juventus are also in front in the race to sign Roma winger Nicolo Zaniolo, who is yet to recommit to the Giallorossi, claims Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Fulham want to sign ex-Manchester City and Liverpool forward Mario Balotelli if they win promotion back to the Premier League, claims Turkish outfit Star. Balotelli currently plays his football in Turkey with Adana Demirspor, with good form prompting an Italy recall.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino is perplexed there is any debate about Lionel Messi's effectiveness for the club this season after his starring role in the 3-1 win over Saint-Etienne on Saturday.

The former Barcelona forward did not get on the scoresheet, but he was instrumental in his side fighting back from Denis Bouanga's early opener for Saint-Etienne at the Parc des Princes.

Messi teed up both of Kylian Mbappe's strikes either side of half-time, the second of which came after some superb skill to round two Saint-Etienne players.

He has now racked up six assists since the turn of the year – more than any other player in the top five European leagues.

His two assists on Saturday means he has laid on four goals for Mbappe in Ligue 1 this season, which is the highest total in the competition from one player to another.

Messi has been criticised for his poor goalscoring return this campaign, with just seven across all competitions, but Pochettino is in doubt about the 34-year-old's quality.

"I can't understand how there can be a debate about Messi because he is exceptional," he told Canal+. "No, there is no debate. It's impossible. 

"Messi is incredible, magnificent. He played very well and the only thing he was missing was a goal."

 

Mbappe's second goal moved him level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as PSG's second all-time top goalscorer on 156 goals, while he became the first player in Ligue 1 this season to reach double figures for goals and assists (14 goals, 10 assists).

Pochettino was full of praise for the forward's display and insisted he has not sustained an injury despite appearing to hold his right thigh late in the first half.  

"Kylian is fine," Pochettino added. "He had no problem. He is suspended against Nice [next Saturday] and will be able to work for a week. He will be ready to start in Madrid [for the Champions League last-16 second leg against Real Madrid on March 9].

"We are very happy with him, that he is with us. I'm proud of him. It's amazing, wonderful.

"I'm very happy because we finish the matches very well. We played the second half the way we wanted to play. Kylian is a fantastic player. Lionel and Neymar were also important for us."

PSG have now won five of their last six Ligue 1 matches after a run of just one victory in their previous five, and Pochettino believes his side are slowly moving in the right direction.

"There is progress, small steps," he added. "I'm happy with that. This is how you have to improve. The team is gaining confidence when we were still trailing. The team gains tactical richness."

Kylian Mbappe moved level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as Paris Saint-Germain's second all-time top goalscorer after he struck a brace in Saturday's 3-1 win over Saint-Etienne.

Mauricio Pochettino's side suffered a 3-1 defeat to Nantes in their previous top-flight game last weekend and they looked like they might be on the end of another surprise loss when Denis Bouanga put the visitors ahead early on.

However, goals either side of half-time from Mbappe – the second of which moved him level with Ibrahimovic on 156 goals – and a third from Danilo Pereira sealed all three points at the Parc des Princes.

The result meant PSG moved 16 points clear at the Ligue 1 summit, while Saint-Etienne remained in 16th, just one point outside the relegation zone. 

Saint-Etienne were rewarded for a bright start in the 16th minute when Bouanga picked Pereira's pocket just outside the penalty area and superbly fired past Gianluigi Donnarumma from 15 yards.

Messi was the provider for PSG's leveller three minutes before half-time, the Argentina international threading a wonderful pass into Mbappe, whose powerful strike from 10 yards proved too hot for Paul Bernardoni to handle.

Those two players combined to devastating effect two minutes after the restart, Messi jinking inside two players before laying the ball into the path of Mbappe, who drilled across Bernardoni to put PSG ahead. 

Pereira made amends for his earlier error with PSG's third in the 52nd minute, the Portuguese rising high at the back post to head home Mbappe's sumptuous cross with the outside of his foot. 

Neymar and Georginio Wijnaldum both struck the post late on, yet it mattered little as PSG comfortably saw proceedings out to return to winning ways with the minimum of fuss. 
 

What does it mean? PSG maintain fine home form

This comeback win means PSG have not lost any of their past 16 home games in Ligue 1, which is the best current run in the league.

The result also stretched their unbeaten run over Saint-Etienne to 26 matches, equalling the longest unbeaten streak in their history against an opponent (also 26 against Angers, which is an ongoing run since December 1976).

Mbappe up to joint second

Mbappe is now level with Monaco's Wissam Ben Yedder at the top of the Ligue 1 scoring charts with 14 goals after his brace here. Barring injury, he will unquestionably move clear of Ibrahimovic in PSG's all-time rankings, yet whether he breaks Edinson Cavani's record of 200 goals for the club depends on whether he moves to Real Madrid at the end of the season.

Messi in generous mood

Goals have been hard to come by for Messi since his move from Barcelona, but he is having no such problems creating them for his team-mates. He has now recorded six assists in Ligue 1 since the turn of the year, which is more than anyone else in the top five European leagues.

What's next?

PSG visit Nice next Saturday, while Saint-Etienne host Metz a day later.

Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid has often felt like a never-ending transfer saga, but it appears a resolution might now be in sight.

Los Blancos are apparently confident of getting the Paris Saint-Germain star in 2022 even though their performance did not impress him in the Champions League.

However, Madrid do have a back-up plan.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID CONFIDENT ON MBAPPE BUT MANE IS PLAN B

Real Madrid believe they will win the battle to sign Kylian Mbappe on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain in 2022.

Carlo Ancelotti's side are preparing to announce the deal at the end of the season, according to Goal.

However, should their efforts to sign Mbappe or Erling Haaland fail, Madrid have a back-up plan: Fichajes claims they will submit an offer for Sadio Mane.

ROUND-UP

Arsenal are interested in signing Joao Felix from Atletico Madrid, according to television show El Chiringuito.

Manchester United have been quoted €75million (£62.5m) for RB Leipzig star Christopher Nkunku, Bild says.

- Meanwhile, United striker Edinson Cavani is ready to listen to an offer to join Botafogo when his contract expires, Goal claims.

- According to Sport, Tottenham have submitted the firmest offer to sign Paulo Dybala from Juventus, but Barcelona and Inter are also interested.

Milan are resigned to losing Franck Kessie after this season and could replace him with Renato Sanches, Tuttosport says.

UEFA has decided to move the Champions League final from St Petersburg, according to the BBC. The game could be held in London.

Lionel Messi has expressed his enjoyment at developing a partnership with Kylian Mbappe at Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi departed Barcelona on a free transfer last August to move to the Parc des Princes, where he joined up with former Blaugrana star Neymar and France international Mbappe.

The Argentina international has managed just two goals in 15 Ligue 1 appearances for Mauricio Pochettino's side, who sit 13 points clear at the summit of the French top flight.

Despite a lean run of scoring form, Messi acknowledged how grateful he is to be playing with some of the world's best players, including talisman Mbappe.

"[Angel] di Maria and Ney[mar] I know them from before [at Barcelona and Argentina]," Messi said in an interview with PSG's media that was released on Tuesday.

"With Kylian it was the one I didn't know and little by little we get to know each other much more and within the field to try to relate better, to see how we feel comfortable with each other. 

"I was lucky to be with the best at Barcelona and today at PSG too, I'm happy and looking forward to continuing to do so."

Mbappe leads PSG's scoring charts this season, with 17 goals to his name across all competitions.

Since his debut for PSG in September 2017, only Robert Lewandowski (151), Messi (125), Ciro Immobile (118), Cristiano Ronaldo (116) and Mohamed Salah (110) have found the net on more occasions than Mbappe (103) across Europe's top-five leagues.

Meanwhile, from that same group only Lewandowski (80.55) can boast a better minutes-per-goal ratio than Mbappe's 99.99.

However, there is speculation the Frenchman may leave for Real Madrid when his contract expires at the end of the season.

But Mbappe showed no loyalties to Carlo Ancelotti's team just yet, with his impressive solo goal proving the difference in a 1-0 triumph over Madrid in the first leg of PSG's Champions League round-of-16 clash.

While Pochettino's side have to navigate a trip to the Spanish capital to secure their quarter-final berth, Messi believes PSG are equipped to win the competition.

"Winning the Champions League is difficult, it is a competition where the best are, any detail can leave you out," he added.

"So many great clubs and teams compete, we have a team to try to achieve it. We are very excited and we want to be able to do it but we have to go with peace of mind. 

"The best team does not always win and you have to be aware of all the details, the strong teams are the ones that achieve their goals."

Paris Saint-Germain fell to just their second defeat of the Ligue 1 season as Mauricio Pochettino's side were beaten 3-1 by Nantes at Stade de la Beaujoire.

Goals from Randal Kolo Muani, Quentin Merlin and a Ludovic Blas penalty handed the home team an incredible 3-0 half-time lead, with goalkeeper Alban Lafont starring for the hosts.

Neymar pulled one back immediately after the restart before seeing a soft penalty effort saved on the hour and Nantes held on for the win, moving into fifth place in the French top-flight.

PSG remain well clear at the top of Ligue 1, but this was not how Pochettino will have envisaged following up their impressive 1-0 win against Real Madrid in the Champions League in midweek.

Nantes took a shock lead just three minutes into the game with Kolo Muani rounding off an efficient break by flicking home just seconds after Juan Bernat had forced a good save from Lafont.

The Nantes stopper made an excellent save from Lionel Messi moments later, before Merlin fired a stunning left-footed strike into the top corner from the edge of the area on 15 minutes, his first goal of the season.

Lafont denied Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, and Idrissa Gueye in an inspired performance, before Dennis Appiah had a red card correctly overturned after a VAR check. 

Another VAR intervention gave Nantes a penalty before half-time that Blas hammered home after Georginio Wijnaldum's clumsy handball.

Carlo Ancelotti was unmoved by reports Paris Saint-Germain have offered to make Real Madrid-linked Kylian Mbappe the highest-paid footballer in the world.

Mbappe was in devastating form against Madrid on Wednesday, scoring PSG's late winner in the Champions League last-16 first leg at the Parc des Princes after generally impressing throughout.

The France star's decisiveness was fitting given overarching narrative of his future, which has put the two clubs into something of a tug-of-war over the past couple of years.

Madrid reportedly made several offers for Mbappe last year but were rebuffed by PSG, who were insistent that they would be able to persuade the striker to stay in Paris.

But then came January 1 and Mbappe still had not signed a new contract, meaning he became eligible to begin discussing moves to foreign clubs.

Many expect he will join Madrid at the end of the season, but in the wake of their 1-0 win over Los Blancos, PSG apparently made it known they would be willing to give Mbappe a basic wage "far in excess of £500,000 [€600,000], and closer to £1m [€1.2m] a week", according to the Independent.

Ancelotti is not convinced that matters, however.

"Everyone has to think what they want," Ancelotti told reporters on Friday ahead of the clash with Deportivo Alaves.

"I have to say, they pay me a lot and so I am privileged, but what I like is not the money I earn, but what I do."

Ancelotti acknowledged in the wake of the defeat in Paris that Madrid were poor, as they struggled to get control of the contest and subsequently found themselves under pressure for much of the game.

They failed to get a single shot on target for only the second time in a Champions League game since Opta records began (2003-04), and their 0.14 expected goals (xG) was their worst in the competition in just under nine years.

He was asked again about the performance and he recognised the best thing about the game was that they only lost 1-0.

"Sometimes it's the little details that decide the matches," he said. "I'm quite honest, we played very badly against PSG in what we normally do well. We had a bad night.

"This doesn't worry me so much because I know the quality and personality the team has for getting out of this.

"The criticism is justified because we did badly. The first critic is myself. The approach has not been good and I have to take responsibility.

"Criticism must be understood and learned from because sometimes it is very helpful. The idea that I don't talk to the players is nonsense.

"I spoke with the president and with the director and we have the same feeling. We are hurt but I think we are honest: we played badly and the image of Real Madrid was not good, which is what hurts the most. The best thing about the game was the result."

Tuesday's match was the sixth game in a row in which Vinicius Junior has failed to score after an extremely bright first half to the season, while Madrid as a team have netted just once in four.

Ancelotti is not concerned about there being a specific issue with Vinicius, however.

"Everything that happens to the team is happening to him, we've dropped off a bit," he added. "But the team is doing well physically.

"Against Villarreal we did well sometimes and against PSG we suffered until the end. Vini has had a very intense month and now he's going to be more effective.

"We have to score more, that's clear. But now Karim [Benzema] is back, he's the main striker, who scores a lot of goals and gets a lot of assists.

"When he's well, he's better. We've had problems but he's fine and he's going to help us fix it."

Kylian Mbappe's name continues to dominate the transfer columns as he nears the end of his Paris Saint-Germain contract.

While Mbappe's future beyond this season remains uncertain, PSG appear to already have plans in place should he depart.

And if one superstar forward leaves the French capital, another could arrive in his place.


TOP STORY – PSG TO BRING IN RONALDO

According to The Mirror, PSG are looking to bring in Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United should they be unable to convince Mbappe to sign a new big-money deal.

Ronaldo only returned to Old Trafford last August, but the 37-year-old is said to be considering his future after an underwhelming campaign.

Should Ronaldo be tempted to move to Ligue 1, having already plied his trade in the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A, he would get the chance to link up with Lionel Messi.

The pair have 12 Ballons d'Or between them and are regarded as two of the greatest players of all time.

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- United are not expecting Paul Pogba to make a U-turn on his future by signing a new deal, according to the Manchester Evening News. The France international is set to become a free agent in four months' time and has been linked with PSG and former side Juventus.

- El Nacional claims that Chelsea are plotting a bid for Barcelona youngster Gavi. The Blues will reportedly have to pay £42million (€50m) to land the teenage midfielder, with other teams across Europe also showing an interest.

- Tottenham striker Harry Kane wants assurances that boss Antonio Conte will be backed in the next transfer window, suggests The Sun, after the Italian questioned the club's recruitment policy. That comes amid fresh rumours that Kane is considering his own Spurs future.

- According to Calciomercato, Real Madrid are ready to push ahead with plans to sign Kieran Tierney from Arsenal. Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti previously tried to sign Tierney during his time in charge of Napoli, but the Scottish left-back instead opted for the Gunners. 

- Manchester City are on the verge of getting a £5.4m deal over the line for Brazilian winger Savinho, says Fabrizio Romano. A medical is rumoured to have already been scheduled for the 17-year-old, who has impressed for Atletico Mineiro.

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