Sergio Aguero's next destination is a hot topic of conversation after Manchester City confirmed he will leave at the end of the season.

The Argentina forward has been linked with a host of clubs, including Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

The 32-year-old has spent the past decade in England with City.

 

TOP STORY - BLUES IN BOX SEAT FOR AGUERO

Chelsea have moved into pole position to land Aguero, who wants to remain in England according to the Daily Mail.

The Blues, who wanted to sign Aguero in 2011 when he left Atletico Madrid for City, will be in the market for a forward with rumours about Timo Werner's future after an underwhelming debut season at Stamford Bridge.

Portuguese publication Record claims Benfica are also interested in Aguero, while The Sun has added Arsenal and his former club Independiente to the list.

 

ROUND-UP

- Lyon's Netherlands international Memphis Depay has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona, but Marca claims Liverpool could 'muscle in' for the soon-to-be free agent.

- Le Parisien reports that Paris Saint-Germain are in a hurry to get Kylian Mbappe to commit to a new contract amid speculation linking him with a move away, including to Real Madrid.

- L’Equipe claims that Arkadiusz Milik has a €12million buyout clause in his Marseille loan contract from Napoli and Juventus are preparing an offer to swoop for him.

Sheffield United midfielder Ismaila Coulibaly has attracted interest from AC Milan and Galatasaray but the Blades want to keep him, according to Yorkshire Live.

Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro is bullish that the club can contend for both the Spanish LaLiga and Champions League titles.

Reigning LaLiga champions Madrid return to action on Saturday against Eibar in the league, where they are third, six points behind leaders Atletico Madrid with 10 games to play.

Los Blancos will be back in continental action in midweek against Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final too.

"Everyone knows what we are capable of, that we can do it," Casemiro told TVE.

"We are going to fight until the end. We know that it is very difficult, but we will fight for both titles.

"For Real Madrid all games are important. We are already used to playing the big games.

"We like to play these type of games. First, we have to think about Eibar and then about the Champions League and the Clasico [against Barcelona on April 10]."

The Brazil international acknowledged Madrid, who won a trio of European titles from 2016 to 2018, have a difficult assignment against 2019 European champions Liverpool.

"It will be a very beautiful match and it will be decided on details," Casemiro said.

"Whoever makes fewer mistakes will win. Liverpool have great players and this match could be a Champions League final.

"These are very nice games that all the players want to play. We have to give everything in all the games, not only against Barcelona.

"They are games that when you win, give you a lot of encouragement for the final stretch of the season."

Sergio Aguero has been one of the "three main faces" at Manchester City, according to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, who did not rule out a move for the striker.

Aguero's City career will come to an end at the culmination of the 2020-21 campaign, halting a 10-year stay at the club.

In that time, Aguero has helped City to four Premier League titles – scoring the goal which secured their first in the most dramatic of circumstances in 2011-12 – along with one FA Cup, five EFL Cups and two Community Shield triumphs.

The 32-year-old has struggled with injuries and COVID-19 this term, however, making just 14 appearances across all competitions, scoring three goals.

Arteta, Pep Guardiola's former assistant, worked with Aguero for over three years between 2016 and 2019, and has hailed the Argentinian's impact at City.

"Anybody that's been close to him would say the same thing, he's been the main face or one of three main faces to lift that project [at City]," Arteta told a news conference ahead of Arsenal's clash with Liverpool on Saturday.

"You need quality to create moments to build a project and his is the biggest face.

"Not only the way he plays, but his charisma and character. It's sad for him to leave but I think what he's done he will be their history."

Though denying he had called Aguero to discuss a potential switch to the Gunners, Arteta did not dismiss the suggestions of a move to bring the forward to north London.

"No, we will see what happens to him in the future," Arteta said.

"Sergio has a unique quality to see spaces that nobody sees and score goals in an easy way so I'm sure he will find the right next chapter."

One striker who has been linked with a move away from Emirates Stadium is Alexandre Lacazette, with the Frenchman's contract up in 2022.

LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid are among the teams previously mooted to hold an interest in the 29-year-old, who has netted 13 goals in all competitions this season, scoring on each of his last three Premier League starts.

It seems likely Lacazette will lead the line again on Saturday, given he has scored in each of Arsenal's two most recent league games against Liverpool – the last Gunners player to score in three consecutive top-fllight games against the Reds was Robert Pires between 2003 and 2004 – and Arteta says the club will hold talks over a new deal at the end of the season.

|I'm always happy when people talk about our players and speculate – that means they're doing well and getting attention from other clubs," Arteta said.

"The situation with Laca we will address in the summer and speak to him and just propose the future that we want, and that's it.

"Up to now I just want players focused and only focused on performing and getting the best out of them for the team."

 

AGUERO OR LACAZETTE?

Should Arsenal decide to make a move for Aguero, then it may well be Lacazette who makes way, but would that be a wise move?

Lacazette is almost three years younger than Aguero, who has been besieged by injuries in recent seasons.

Since joining Arsenal at the start of 2017-18, Lacazette has made 122 Premier League appearances – 32 more than Aguero in the same timeframe.

The former Lyon forward has played a total of 8,219 minutes, compared to a figure of 6,214 for Aguero, who has started 75 games, 19 fewer than Lacazette (94).

However, Aguero has still scored more league goals, tallying 59 in contrast to Lacazette's 48, though it must be noted City's team of 2017 through to 2019 is widely considered as one of the finest attacking units of the Premier League era.

Lacazette has proved to be more creative, crafting 111 chances – 15 more than Aguero – though the duo are practically neck-and-neck for assists, registering 18 and 17 respectively.

Aguero's big chance conversion rate is better than Lacazette. The Argentina international has scored 42 goals from 78 opportunities from which Opta would have expected him to find the net (53.85 per cent); Lacazette, in comparison, has scored 30 from 70 (42.86 per cent).

Mikel Arteta believes Liverpool remain one of the top two teams in England as he prepares Arsenal for a crunch clash on Saturday.

The drastic dip in results from Jurgen Klopp's team since the turn of the year has seen last season's champions fall out of the top four in the Premier League.

They and Arsenal still have time to jump up the table, with Liverpool sitting seventh and Arsenal ninth heading into the weekend.

Liverpool's five most recent Premier League wins have all come away from Anfield, and another at Emirates Stadium this weekend would be a huge lift for Klopp and his players.

Arteta senses Liverpool are performing better in many respects than their results indicate, and suggested they are only outranked by one team - who would inevitably be Manchester City - in a range of key data performance metrics.

"I'm not the one to analyse what's gone wrong for them. I can talk about what they've done and what they are still producing," Arteta said in a news conference.

"I've seen a lot of games and the stats will support that. They are, if not the best, the second team in almost every department that we as coaches have to analyse.

"But then this is football and the ball has to be in the net - the final action has to provide a moment to win a football match.

"Then you have some individuals that dictate as well the quality of your team. Sometimes you cannot predict those things, so I think it's a lot of things."

Discounting penalties and own goals, Liverpool have netted 39 times in the league this season, yet their expected goals (xG) total is 44.3.

City's xG is slightly higher at 49.2, but Arteta's former club have far outperformed that mark with 58 non-penalty goals.

The trip to face Arsenal in north London has rarely been a successful mission for Liverpool in recent times. The Merseyside giants have won just two of their past 20 Premier League away games against Arsenal (D9 L9), a 2-0 success in August 2011 and a 4-3 victory in August 2016.

Arteta would relish another win to add to Arsenal's haul, knowing it would nudge them to just a point behind Liverpool, but he said his team would be "punished for every error".

Although the first leg of a Europa League quarter-final against Slavia Prague is coming up next week, manager Arteta says all the focus from his players should be on this weekend.

"For me, the priority is Liverpool," Arteta said. "We know if we want to climb up the table and have the chance to be in Europe next season through the Premier League, we need some consistency now in the last nine games.

"We need to get a run of winning matches, and the only way to do it is to start against Liverpool. We don't have any margin and we have to win the game."

Arteta said young midfielder Emile Smith Rowe had been troubled by "some discomfort in his hip" while away with the England Under-21 squad.

"We will speak with the doctors and the physios and see if he's available for training tomorrow," Arteta said.

Similar applies to Bukayo Saka, who pulled out of the senior England squad due to a hamstring problem but could come into contention for the weekend.

Liverpool versus Arsenal has thrown up some scintillating games in the past, and no fixture in Premier League history has seen more goals scored than the 166 they have shared in those battles.

Liverpool have scored 94 times in the Premier League rivalry, the most goals the Gunners have shipped against a single opponent in the competition.

It's June 25, 2020. Thousands of Liverpool fans have ignored government advice as they gather at Anfield for a very special occasion – the celebration of a first league title in 30 years.

Despite it looking a certainty for months, many Reds fans hadn't allowed themselves to be drawn in by the hysteria too early for fear of more heartache, but Chelsea's 2-1 win over Manchester City in London meant they had to wait no longer.

In the period between their two most recent top-flight titles – the last one coming even before the establishment of the Premier League – bitter rivals Manchester United lifted the trophy no fewer than 13 times.

But the title win was made even more significant by the manner of it, their dominance leaving everyone else well behind in the dust. Clinching the trophy with seven games to spare was a new record.

As fans clambered over the gates outside the Kop End and set off fireworks near the stadium, many – supporter or not – will have looked at those scenes and felt it was an image the rest would have to get used to, such had been Liverpool's consistency over the previous two years.

Yet, here we are in April 2021, approaching the Premier League's final straight with the defending champions looking hard-pressed to even finish in the top four.

A foreshadowing?

When Jurgen Klopp announced his decision to leave Borussia Dortmund in 2015, there was an initial sense of shock that was soon offset by the feeling it was perhaps to be expected. It was a testing season, and although a late upturn after the announcement saw them qualify for Europe, there was no getting away from the fact they had under-achieved.

While it was certainly not the only problem, one major issue for Klopp that season was injuries – at the time, it was estimated Dortmund's first-team players missed over 1,600 days due to injuries or illness.

As a base for comparison, Sky Sports claimed in early March that Liverpool players had lost just over 1,000 days to illness or injury this term. Granted, such data is difficult to nail down because exact timeframes aren't always confirmed by the clubs, however it does at least highlight a similarity.

Of course, another key component with regards to 2014-15 at Dortmund was the fact they lost Robert Lewandowski to Bayern Munich. Not only did he score 20 Bundesliga goals the previous season, the Poland striker helped knit their play together in the final third. Without him, so much changed in their attack.

Four Dortmund players scored nine or more Bundesliga goals in 2013-14, but only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – tasked with stepping up in Lewandowski's absence – managed this in 2014-15. Even then, his haul of 16 was only a personal improvement of three.

With key players frequently missing and new arrivals, such as Ciro Immobile, struggling to fit in, it's perhaps no wonder Dortmund's conversion rate dropped from 13 per cent to 8.3 – the only occasion it went below 11 per cent for Klopp at the club.

A common theory for his demise at Dortmund was the idea that Klopp had run the team into the ground after several years of playing high-intensity football, which subsequently led to more muscular injuries.

Dortmund engaged in 14.4 pressed sequences – defined as instances where the opponent has three or fewer passes in a sequence and it ends within 40 metres of their own goal – per game in each of Klopp's final two seasons, but his Liverpool side this term averages 18.9 each match, up slightly from 18 in 2019-20. This highlights the quality of the Reds' pressing style, but it also shows a significant increase in intensity even from his Dortmund days.

Although the correlation is difficult to prove conclusively, links between high-intensity football styles and muscle injuries are nothing new. If this was partly to blame for Dortmund's increased absences list, then Liverpool's situation – given their even greater intensity – appears comparable.

But while it's impossible to ignore Liverpool's injury situation, to suggest that's where their issues end would seemingly be false.

Below the usual standards

Of course, as Klopp has pointed out before, unplanned absences can have significant knock-on effects throughout the team.

So, the fact Virgil van Dijk has been out since October won't have just impacted Liverpool's defensive solidity, but it will have changed how they play out from the back and subsequently affected the midfield because the likes of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho have had to fill in away from their usual roles.

However, where Liverpool seem to have had the most issues in 2020-21 compared to last season is actually in attack, with their goals-per-game average decreasing from 2.2 to 1.65.

Having converted 14.4 per cent of their shots in 2019-20, they are now netting at a rate of 11.1 percent – only in Klopp's first season at Anfield have the Reds recorded worse in a full campaign (10.8).

It's not as if Liverpool are having significantly fewer shots either, as they are averaging 15 every 90 minutes as opposed to 15.5 last term, however, some potential explainers do appear when you look a little closer at those shots.

Liverpool are trying their luck from outside the box more often (5.1 per game, up from 4.6) and getting fewer away inside the area than before (9.9, down from 11). On top of this, they have had just nine (0.31 per game) shots from fast breaks in 2020-21, less than half as often as either 2019-20 (0.73) and 2018-19 (0.63).

This all suggests the opposition is sitting deeper against Liverpool than before, restricting space better and limiting the options of Klopp's men in attack – the fact they're having more long-range attempts could be a sign of collective frustration, or a lack of invention.

Supporting the idea teams are sitting off Liverpool a little more is the fact they are averaging 191.7 passes in the final third each game. This figure was 180.9 in 2019-20 and 173.8 the year before – opponents are seemingly happier to absorb pressure, more confident that Klopp's side are unable to break them down.

This potentially goes some way to explaining why Sadio Mane has had a less fruitful season in front of goal, as his xG maps for this term and last show he's not having as much of an impact in the six-yard box.

He has only scored one Premier League goal in this part of the area during 2020-21, whereas last season he scored four, suggesting he possessed something of a poacher's instinct as well as a knack for the spectacular.

While his haul of seven goals is by no means dreadful, it's 3.3 lower than his xG value, showing he's missing good-quality chances on a more regular basis than he'd be expected. By comparison, in 2020-21 he overperformed his xG by 4.3 (18 goals, 13.7 xG) and the year before he boasted a 6.9 xG differential (22 goals, 15.1 xG).

This means that, while he was living up to his abilities as an elite-level chance-taker for the past two years, this term he appears to be struggling to adapt to his surroundings, with defences packed a little tighter.

With Mohamed Salah, however, there's been a slight change in the other direction in that his non-penalty xG of nine is actually less than the 11 non-penalty goals he's scored – in 2019-20 he had a negative 0.8 xG differential (16 goals, 16.8 xG).

As such, Salah appears to be handling the changes better than Mane despite opposition setups also causing him to think differently about his shots. Again, xG maps show the Egyptian isn't able to get as many high-xG shots off from the centre of the area, instead being forced slightly more towards the right, yet he's still netting with fine frequency.

Working smarter to restore pride

Whether Salah's outperforming of xG is sustainable or not is another matter, and one only time can tell, though Liverpool will likely need even more from him to prevent their season finishing with a whimper.

Similarly, Mane rediscovering his best form would be a major boost, and that appears to hinge on him dealing better with less space or getting on the end of more deliveries into the danger zone.

Liverpool's lengthy injury list has undoubtedly had some impact in 2020-21, yet it also seems clear they could work smarter in light of opponents approaching their fixtures slightly differently.

Upcoming games against Arsenal and Real Madrid could potentially provide the tonic given neither is likely to set up particularly defensively, and this might play into the hands of Mane.

A make-or-break week is on the horizon – defeat to the Gunners could leave the Reds eight points adrift of fourth, while losing in Madrid will likely ruin their Champions League hopes.

As people clamour to proclaim Liverpool the worst Premier League champions ever, it's time to restore a little dignity.

Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) have announced a "significant investment" into the company by the firm co-owned by LeBron James, RedBird Capital Partners.

The investment, which sees James become part of FSG's ownership group along with his business partners Maverick Carter and Paul Wachter, will help Liverpool address an estimated £120million loss in revenues during the coronavirus pandemic.

FSG said in a statement that the deal, which is part of an ongoing alliance between FSG and RedBird, would help the group pursue growth opportunities, while underlining a focus on "winning".

"Over the years, Fenway Sports Group has been able to attract a dedicated group of executives and partnerships seeking to compete for titles in the most challenging and rewarding landscapes," read the statement.

"Our strategic partnership with Gerry and the entire team at RedBird will enhance our ability to pursue future growth opportunities in a more accelerated way but with the same selectiveness that has served us so well.

"We are also pleased to welcome to our ownership group LeBron, Maverick and Paul, with whom we have enjoyed a successful collaboration for well over a decade. Their addition is an important milestone for FSG and expands and deepens a longtime friendship and relationship that began in 2010.

"To our fans and supporters: winning continues to be the driving force for all of us. The growth of FSG as an organisation allows us to further strengthen our resources and commitment to the communities we serve, and we look forward to having these talented new partners join us in the next chapter of FSG’s evolution."

FSG, which is valued and $7.4bn and whose leadership is comprised of principal owner John W. Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president Mike Gordon, took control of Liverpool in 2010.

The investment from RedBird, which is reported to be a 10 per cent minority holding, will help the club achieve its ambition of redeveloping the Anfield Road Stand.

Gerry Cardinale, founder and managing partner of RedBird, said, "Fenway Sports Group is unique not only for the quality of its sports properties and assets, but for the highly disciplined, results-oriented organisation that John, Tom, Mike and the FSG team have built over the past 20 years.

"RedBird shares the same passion for performance-driven investing, business operations, fan experience and service to the community. We look forward to contributing our experience growing premier sports properties and working alongside this tremendous leadership team, including our fellow new owners LeBron, Maverick and Paul."

Maverick Carter added: "Working with Fenway Sports Group for the past decade has taught LeBron and me so much about the business on a global scale, and we’ve always believed it would lead to something bigger.

"We are proud to be part of this iconic ownership group and are excited about the opportunities that come with that to continue creating change and empowering people of every race, gender and background to be part of the process."

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah refused to rule out an Anfield exit as he hinted at a move to LaLiga amid links to Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Salah is contracted to Premier League champions Liverpool until 2023, but his future has become a talking point having previously refused to dismiss the prospect of joining Madrid or Barca in an interview with Diario AS in December.

The Egypt international has been a revelation since leaving Serie A outfit Roma for Liverpool in 2017, spearheading the Reds to Champions League and Premier League glory.

As Liverpool prepare to face Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals, with the opening leg on April 6, Salah was asked about his future.

"It's not up to me," Salah – who has scored a joint-high 17 Premier League goals this season – told Marca when asked if it is time to leave Liverpool.

"We'll see what happens but I prefer not to talk about that now."

When pressed on whether a move to Spain appeals, having already experienced England and Italy, Salah added: "I hope to be able to play for many more years. Why not?

"No one knows what's going to happen in the future, so... maybe one day, yes."

Salah's relationship with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has made headlines amid reported tension between the pair.

Liverpool forward Salah was visibly frustrated when he was substituted by Klopp in the Premier League defeat to Chelsea earlier this month, with the German boss forced to play down the issue.

"It's a normal relationship between two professionals," Salah replied after being asked about his relationship with Klopp. "That's how I'd describe it."

The upcoming blockbuster Champions League tie will be a reunion between Liverpool's Salah and Madrid captain Sergio Ramos.

Salah was injured and forced to be substituted with a shoulder injury in the 2018 Champions League final after being hauled down by Ramos as Madrid went on to beat Liverpool 3-1.

Ramos was criticised for the incident, which impacted Salah's participation at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

"That game is in the past, so I don't think about it," Salah said. "I'm thinking about the team. Everyone is focused on their team and everyone wants to win... that's it."

A proposed switch to Liverpool is "not an option" for Ibrahima Konate, according to RB Leipzig's sporting director Markus Krosche.

Reports surfaced on Monday claiming the reigning Premier League champions have made "significant progress" in their pursuit of the 21-year-old, who is said to have a €40million (£34m) release clause.

The highly rated centre-back, who was part of the France team that defeated Russia at the European Under-21 Championship on Sunday, revealed how his phone was "ringing all over the place" following the reports, though he insisted he was focused solely on the remainder of the season.  

And Krosche, speaking exclusively to Stats Perform News, said he did not think a move to Liverpool would come to fruition, insisting the Bundesliga club are the perfect fit for the defender. 

"I can't say anything on that topic. I think that this is not an option for Ibu [Konate]," Krosche explained. 

"He has a long contract with us and he knows what we mean to him and what he means to us. He was unlucky last year as he had a longer injury but this year he is in a good way and he is an extremely important player that has a lot of potential. 

"We want to help him to further develop, and we play internationally, have a very good team, so I don't see a reason for him to leave us."

Konate has not committed an error that led to a shot in any of his 15 games for Leipzig this season across all competitions.

Injuries have restricted his appearances, though, as he has played just 17 Bundesliga matches since the start of last season, and he did not feature in the Champions League last-16 tie against Liverpool.

The Reds have been linked with many prospective centre-back reinforcements after struggling with their own injury issues for much of the season.

Leipzig will be particularly keen not to lose Konate given his defensive colleague Dayot Upamecano has already agreed a move to Bayern Munich at the end of the season.

Konate and Leipzig are in the middle of a title tussle with Bayern, whom they play on Saturday, while Liverpool are languishing in seventh with the possibility of missing out on Champions League football hanging over their heads.

Ibrahima Konate has revealed how his phone was "ringing all over the place" following reports on Monday that Liverpool are working to finalise a deal for the RB Leipzig defender.

The highly rated centre-back was part of the France team that defeated Russia at the European Under-21 Championship on Sunday, a much-needed result after they had lost their opener at the tournament.

There was no rest for Konate on Monday, however, as stories circulated that Liverpool are hoping to wrap up his signing ahead of next season.

The Athletic detailed how the Premier League champions have made "significant progress" in their pursuit of the 21-year-old, who is said to have a €40million release clause.

Konate, though, is only focused on the remainder of the season, despite the speculation surrounding his future.  

"I woke up, I saw my phone ringing all over the place, I just wanted to tell them: 'Hey, I played yesterday, I'm tired, leave me alone'," he said, according to quotes in L'Equipe.

"We can't focus on that, there is the Euros and then the return to my club. You have to focus on that, not on the external things."

A move for Konate – who has not committed an error that led to a shot in any of his 15 games for Leipzig this season – would help add depth at what has become a problem position for the Reds.

The former Sochaux player has won 64.7 per cent of his duels in nine Bundesliga games in 2020-21, as well as completing 83.5 per cent of his attempted passes. Injuries have restricted his appearances, though, and he did not feature in the Champions League last-16 tie against Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp has been without the services of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez for much of Liverpool's title defence, while Joel Matip is also a long-term absentee.

Ozan Kabak – who joined on loan from Schalke in a deal that includes an option to buy the Turkey international - and Ben Davies arrived in the mid-season transfer window to help provide further defensive options, though the latter has still yet to feature following his move from Preston North End.

Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams have had unexpected first-team opportunities due to key absentees, while Klopp has also utilised midfielders Fabinho and Jordan Henderson as makeshift options at the heart of his back four.

Konate's arrival would help strengthen a defensive unit that has understandably struggled this term, conceding 36 goals in 29 Premier League games.

Liverpool sit in seventh place in the table as they prepare to return to action after the international break with a trip to Arsenal on Saturday.

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane says he is prouder than ever to be at Liverpool despite a turbulent season.

After winning the Champions League and Premier League in consecutive years, the 2020-21 campaign has been more challenging for the Reds.

Liverpool are down in seventh place having struggled with key injuries and poor form.

Sitting 25 points behind leaders Manchester City, Mane called on his team-mate to fight but insisted he has never been more proud to represent the Reds.

"In football – and in life in general – you can't expect anything and for years and years this complicated situation has not happened," Mane told reporters while on international duty with Senegal.

"We have always been successful, but now this has happened and we can see it is like how life is.

"To change it? Nothing else but stick together, be positive and fight.

"This is what we try to do to change this situation and I'm sure that it will change. I am more proud than ever to be a Liverpool player.

"I am happy, I am really enjoying being here and sharing the pitch with my team-mates for Liverpool Football Club."

Liverpool won their last match before the international break 1-0 at Wolves, with a huge clash against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium coming up next Saturday.

While they have struggled at Anfield, the Reds have won four of their past five away Premier League games (L1), as many as they had won in their previous 15 on the road in the competition (D6 L5). 

They will also face Real Madrid in a mouth-watering Champions League quarter-final tie.

Ahead of a crucial spell, Mane called for his team-mates to battle and was not prepared to use injuries as an excuse.

He added: "Let's be honest, we are in a difficult time and this sometimes happens to teams, which again is part of football.

"We have to deal with the situation and not stop believing, but keep fighting, keep our motivation and go again. When you are a fighter you never try to make excuses. We are here to find solutions.

"Being together with my team-mates always gives me high energy.

"You can see the quality of the team and if you came to the dressing room.

"I think you would have no other option than to see your future like it is going to be bright because with this squad and this team there is the attitude and belief that everything will change."

It was Diogo Jota who scored the winning goal for Liverpool at Wolves, the forward's return from injury coming at a welcome time.

The form of regular front three Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah has been questioned at times this season amid a hectic fixture calendar.

Salah has gone five league games without a goal, while Mane and Firmino have both struck just once in 11 top-flight appearances in 2021.

Mane, though, did net in both legs of the Champions League last-16 victory over RB Leipzig.

He played the full 90 minutes as Senegal drew 0-0 with Congo on Friday.

Gareth Southgate says it is still too early to tell whether Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson will be fit for England's Euro 2020 campaign.

The 30-year-old underwent groin surgery at the end of February and was initially ruled out for around five weeks.

But Southgate, who has made clear he will not select players on reputation alone, does not expect Henderson to return until towards the end of the campaign.

England face Austria in a pre-Euros friendly on June 2 and Southgate is unsure if Henderson will be part of his squad for the rescheduled tournament.

"We know it's going to be close to the end of the season and we will just have to see how it goes," he said. 

"We are conscious that with any injury of that nature there is a guide and a time defined, but anything can happen along the way.

"In terms of promises, we can only say that Hendo himself is very optimistic about how the operation went and the prognosis that the specialist has given him as to what is possible.

"We also know he is likely to be a bit short of match minutes in high-level games. 

"There are a lot of things to take into consideration but, at the moment, that is a decision that is a few weeks away."

 

Who could fill in for Henderson?

Henderson has won 58 caps for England and started five games in the Three Lions' run to the semi-finals of the last World Cup.

The former Sunderland man would be one of the first names on the teamsheet if fit, but his possible Euro 2020 absence could give Southgate a selection headache of sorts.

Kalvin Phillips, James Ward-Prowse and Mason Mount started Thursday's 5-0 victory over San Marino, while Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden are other options.

Henderson was voted the FWA Footballer of the Year after helping Liverpool to the Premier League title last season, but he was predominantly used as a centre-back this term before being struck down by injury.

Using his figures from last season's league campaign, the title-winning skipper averaged 88.24 touches per 90 minutes on average.

Among the aforementioned candidates to fill in for Henderson, Ward-Prowse comes closest to that figure this season with 83.59, followed by Bellingham (77.36 in the Bundesliga) and Mount (76.89).

Another area Henderson ranked highly in last season is passes into the opposition half, with 45.28 on average, compared to 38.36 for Mount in 2020-21 - who generally plays in more advanced areas for Chelsea - and 33.41 for next-best Ward-Prowse.

But, learning lessons from the past, could Southgate be after more of a tough tackler in that department? 

If so, Bellingham is out in front this season in terms of tackles won (1.88), in front of Henderson (1.64) and Phillips (1.42).

Virgil van Dijk will ultimately make the decision on his participation at the upcoming Euros, according to his Netherlands defensive partner Matthijs de Ligt.

Liverpool star Van Dijk has been out since October, with the centre-back having sustained a serious knee injury after a challenge from Everton and England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

Jurgen Klopp has consistently stressed caution over the return of Van Dijk, who stepped up his rehabilitation at a facility in Dubai before heading back to Merseyside.

It remains to be seen whether the 29-year-old will be fit to play again before the season is out, and as such his participation in the Euros is doubtful.

Netherlands boss Frank de Boer claimed in the build-up to Wednesday's defeat to Turkey that Van Dijk had another eight weeks left on his recovery, with the Oranje coach claiming he was not relying on the former Southampton and Celtic man to return in time for the tournament.

De Ligt, however, was less pessimistic, with the Juventus defender revealing Van Dijk is in good spirits, and will return when he feels the time is right.

"We had a meeting yesterday, [Van Dijk] was there too," De Ligt said on Friday.

"He looked very good, he seemed very fresh and free. Of course, I don't know how he feels physically, he doesn't really want to put any pressure on himself either.

"He has a clear mind and looks at it day by day. He is calm and wants to see where he's at, at moment the Euros are starting. I think it's important for him to be calm, and to be able to recuperate from his injury without any pressure from us or from the country.

"He will decide if he will be at the Euros. If he's there, he’s there. If he's not there, other guys will have to fill his shoes. But yesterday he looked well."

With Inter's Stefan de Vrij having contracted coronavirus, De Ligt's former Ajax team-mate Daley Blind partnered the 21-year-old in defence against Turkey.

It was neither of the duo's finest performances, with Burak Yilmaz scoring a hat-trick in a 4-2 win for Netherlands' World Cup qualification rivals.

Asked who he would prefer to have next to him should Van Dijk fail to make the Euros, De Ligt replied: "That's a question that’s not really relevant to me.

"In the end, it's the manager who decides who plays, what we need. In possession, Daley is one of the best defenders I have ever played with.

"Stefan plays in Italy, is more physical and is stronger than Daley. So it might also depend on our opponents. We also have Nathan Ake and other guys. There are enough options.

"I might not even be playing. That's something the manager decides, that depends on the game. We simply have to respect the manager's decisions."

Barcelona have reportedly joined the queue chasing Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

Haaland is a player in demand following his exploits for Bundesliga outfit Dortmund.

The Norway international could be among a number of new recruits at Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND WANTED AT CAMP NOU

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman is leading the club's recruitment this off-season and has identified Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland as a key target, according to Diario AS.

Haaland has been linked with Barca, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Liverpool.

Koeman is also reportedly eyeing City defender Eric Garcia, Lyon captain Memphis Depay and soon-to-be Liverpool free agent Georginio Wijnaldum.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fresh from netting a hat-trick to knock Tottenham out of the Europa League, Dinamo Zagreb's Mislav Orsic has been linked with a move to London rivals Arsenal by The Sun, which claims the Gunners are looking at the Croatian attacker as an off-season signing.

- Marca claims Arsenal will not be able to sign on-loan Martin Odegaard on a permanent deal as parent club Real Madrid see him as part of their long-term future plans.

Roma want either Maurizio Sarri or Massimiliano Allegri to be their next coach to replace Paulo Fonseca, according to Messaggero.

- Calciomercato says rumoured Premier League target Franck Kessie has rejected Milan's latest contract extension offer.

- Schalke's California-born 20-year-old Matthew Hoppe is hot property and Valencia are the latest club to join the chase, alongside TottenhamBarcelona, Ajax and PSV, according to AS.

- The Sun reports in-form Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho will sign a new deal with the club.

Could Luis Suarez return to Liverpool, where he spent three and half seasons from 2011 to 2014?

The Uruguayan forward has been a key part of Atletico Madrid's LaLiga title push this term, with 19 league goals.

The Reds are reportedly keen to bolster their forward options, with Suarez on their list.

 

TOP STORY – REDS PREPARING SUAREZ OFFER

Liverpool are interesting in the return of Suarez this off-season and are preparing an offer for the Atletico Madrid forward, according to Fichajes.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp reportedly wants to add experience to his front line and 34-year-old Suarez fits the bill.

Suarez scored 82 goals in 133 appearances for the Reds in his previous stint before joining Barcelona.

ROUND-UP

- Spanish outlet Cope claims that Real Madrid are not contemplating a move for Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo despite widespread speculation of a return. The report says Madrid are focused on the future rather than a veteran player whose career is winding down.

- Barcelona are planning to release Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho this off-season due to their financial issues, allowing them to retain young talent Pedri, Ilaix Moriba and Ansu Fati, according to El Confidencial.

- On the topic of Barcelona, Sport is claiming the Catalans have approved the signings of Georginio Wijnaldum from Liverpool and Memphis Depay from Lyon and are awaiting validation from their new board.

- Diego Costa has reached an agreement to join Benfica as a free agent, according to Mundo Deportivo. Costa left Atletico Madrid in December and returned to his native Brazil.

- Manchester United are considering a move to sign 24-year-old Villarreal defender Pau Torres in the off-season, according to the Manchester Evening News.

- Galatasaray, Flamengo or Marseille are the primary options to be Arturo Vidal's next home as he is set to leave Inter, reports Calciomercato.

Could Harry Kane end up at Real Madrid?

Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland is one of Europe's most sought-after and expensive players, while Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe also commands a hefty fee.

With that in mind, Tottenham's Kane has reportedly emerged as a transfer target in the Spanish capital.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID ADD KANE TO LIST

Real Madrid are interested in signing Tottenham star Harry Kane, according to SER Deportivo.

Madrid have been heavily linked with in-demand Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe.

But Madrid's hierarchy reportedly feel a deal to prise Kane from Tottenham may be easier.

 

ROUND-UP

- Wednesday's Marca and Diario AS newspapers are dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo. Marca claims Ronaldo would exit Juventus to return to Madrid, who he left in 2018. Diario AS says Juve are ready to listen to offers for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner. Ronaldo has also been linked with former club Manchester United.

- Sport reports Manchester City defender Eric Garcia will join Barcelona on a five-year deal. It will be the first major signing under new president Joan Laporta as the LaLiga giants also eye Haaland and look to re-sign superstar captain Lionel Messi, who has been tipped to join either PSG or City on a free transfer at season's end.

- TV3 claims Ronald Koeman will continue as Barca head coach in 2021-22 following talks with Laporta. RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann and club great Xavi had been linked.

Inter are ready to reignite their interest in Udinese star Rodrigo De Paul, claims Calciomercato. The Serie A leaders have previously been linked with the Argentina midfielder. Antonio Conte's Inter are also tracking Madrid outcast Isco, according to Sport.

- L'Equipe claims United are considering a move for Tottenham captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris amid doubts over David de Gea. Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma has also emerged as a possible target.

Bayern Munich are in talks to sign Madrid attacker Lucas Vazquez on a free transfer, according to AS.

Liverpool, Juventus and Roma are among clubs interested in Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez, says AS. The 31-year-old is out of contract at the end of 2021-22.

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