Matthijs de Ligt and Paul Pogba paid tribute to their renowned former agent Mino Raiola, after he died over the weekend.

The 54-year-old's death was confirmed by his family on Saturday. He had been in critical condition in a Milan hospital.

Raiola was arguably the sport's most influential player representative.

From Pavel Nedved, to Mario Balotelli, to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Erling Haaland, Raiola represented some of the biggest names in world football, and in 2016 secured the largest transfer fee in history, at the time, for Pogba in his move back to Manchester United from Juventus.

Raiola also oversaw De Ligt's transfer from Ajax to Juve in 2019 and, in an Instagram post on Sunday, the Netherlands defender about a man he called "someone special".

"I honestly am not ready to write this message and I think I never will be," De Ligt wrote.

"It’s too early for us players, for your family but especially for you. You had so many dreams to fulfil, so many things left to do… you were always right in the end. You knew how the world worked. Nothing is impossible and you showed that to the whole world. 

"You fought for your players together with your team and that’s why you were so loved by all of them. Because as you always said: they are my sons, my family. 

"Mino, I will miss you for everything… to be my agent, but especially to be my best friend."

Pogba, who is set to be on the move at the end of the season following the expiration of his United contract, oposted a series of photos of himself and Raiola together, with the caption: "Always in my heart – thank you Mimi".

Inter are firming as a likely destination for Paulo Dybala, as the end to his time at Juventus draws near.

The Argentina international has provided 96 goals and 51 assists in 265 league appearances for Juventus, but will not stay in an evident rebuild under Max Allegri.

While Dybala is set to leave after seven seasons in Turin, and after a near-move to Tottenham, it appears he might stay in Italy's Serie A after all.

 

TOP STORY – INTER CLOSE IN ON DYBALA

Inter are closing in on Paulo Dybala, whose contract at Juventus will expire at the end of the season, according to reports from La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The 28-year-old attacker has drifted out to the periphery for the Turin giants, ever since Cristiano Ronaldo's transfer, to the point where they are not willing to renew his contract.

Per the report however, Inter face potential stumbling blocks in fitting Dybala within their wage structure, with talks between the club and his representatives focused on bridging any gaps in expectations.

While Inter would seek to bring Dybala in next season, they are not in a capacity to offer a €6milliion salary, currently earned by Lautaro Martinez and Marcelo Brozovic.

Though Inter are unsure of Martinez's future at the San Siro, Alexis Sanchez falling out of favour under Simone Inzaghi could facilitate Dybala's addition.

 

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– Juventus are keen to sign Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo, and are prepared to add Moise Kean as part of a package deal, according to Nicolo Schira.

Manchester United have reached a verbal agreement in principle for Erik ten Hag to leave Ajax and become their next manager, The Athletic is reporting.

Liverpool are prepared to make a £25million (€30m) offer for Torino's Gleison Bremer, per Tuttomercato.

Barcelona must be prepared to pay Juventus €100m in order to sign 22-year-old centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, Fichajes is reporting.

– Atletico Madrid are interested in signing Lautaro Martinez, with Inter setting a transfer price range of €70-80m, per Nicolo Schira.

Matthijs de Ligt said he "got goosebumps" when Christian Eriksen took to the pitch during Saturday's friendly between the Netherlands and Denmark.

Eriksen had not played for his country since suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch in Copenhagen during Euro 2020 last year.

Yet the former Tottenham and Inter playmaker, who is now back in action with Brentford, returned after a 287-day absence and scored with his very first touch just 114 seconds after coming on as a substitute.

Eriksen, fittingly playing at the stadium where he made his name for Ajax, almost netted a second when a long-range shot hit the woodwork but, with his goal having reduced the arrears to 3-2, it was the hosts who went on to edge out a thrilling contest 4-2 at the Johan Cruijff ArenA.

 

For Dutch centre-back De Ligt, however, playing against the 30-year-old was difficult. Nevertheless, the Juventus defender is thrilled to see the Dane back.

"It's not easy to tackle Eriksen, when he came on the pitch I had the skin go... I got goosebumps," De Ligt told reporters.

"We are players but also human beings, in those moments you have to think about playing, but it's clear that we are all happy that he is back playing at this level."

Eriksen did not create a chance for Kasper Hjulmand's side, but did put in a joint team-high three crosses (all from set-pieces) and completed 31 of his 36 attempted passes.

Italy international Andrea Belotti scored in his first start since November to deny Juventus all three points as Torino held them to a 1-1 draw at Allianz Stadium on Friday.

A first-half header from Matthijs de Ligt was cancelled out by Belotti's equaliser in the second half, leaving the Old Lady eight points behind Serie A leaders Milan having played a game more.

Belotti is out of contract at the end of the season and is expected to leave Torino, but the fans will wish him well if this proves his final contribution to the Turin derby.

Meanwhile, Massimiliano Allegri will not have been impressed with the showing from his side ahead of their Champions League round-of-16 first leg at Villarreal on Tuesday.

Juve suffered a blow before the game kicked off with Daniele Rugani injured in the warm-up and replaced at centre-back by Alex Sandro, with Luca Pellegrini starting at left-back.

Torino made a strong start and would have been ahead were it not for Wojciech Szczesny's slight touch on a Josip Brekalo cross, taking it away from a waiting Belotti.

However, it was Juve who took the lead on 13 minutes when a looping Juan Cuadrado corner was headed in at the far post by De Ligt, who arrived with a towering leap.

The visitors began the second half well, too, and were level when Brekalo – who was a thorn in Juve's right side all game – got to the byline and found Belotti, whose close-range shot squirmed under Szczesny's hand.

It was Torino who pushed for another goal until the final 10 minutes when the hosts finally came back to life, but they were unable to find a winner.

Things have not quite gone to plan for Cristiano Ronaldo in his second coming at Manchester United.

The Red Devils are out of both domestic cup competitions and sit well off the pace of Premier League leaders Manchester City, making an unlikely Champions League triumph their remaining hope for silverware this season.

Ronaldo is enduring a five-game goal drought and, according to a report, he could choose to end his second United spell after only one season.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO WANTS MENDES TALKS OVER FUTURE

Cristiano Ronaldo will speak with his agent after growing disillusioned with life at Manchester United, according to the Daily Star.

The forward is hoping to speak with Jorge Mendes when he is back in Portugal for March's World Cup play-off against Turkey about his options after the end of the season.

Ronaldo, whose contract runs until the end of 2022-23, wants to see who will be appointed as United's next permanent manager – but he is not in favour of giving the job to interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

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- Paul Pogba is also looking to leave Manchester United this year when his contract expires, but he will have to accept a pay cut to get a move abroad that he wants, the Mirror says.

- A possible replacement for Pogba could be Youri Tielemans. Het Nieuwsblad reports Leicester City have dropped their asking price for the midfielder, who is wanted by United and Arsenal.

Real Madrid rejected the idea of signing Dusan Vlahovic, now at Juventus, because they are putting everything into getting Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, says Cadena Ser.

- However, AS reports Madrid are still seriously interested in Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, which could scupper Robert Lewandowski's hopes of moving to the Spanish capital.

Juve defender Matthijs de Ligt is flattered by interest from Chelsea and Barcelona, Sport Mediaset claims.

Barca are also desperate to sign Haaland and will therefore prioritise cut-price deals for defenders, says ESPN. Chelsea trio Cesar AzpilicuetaAndreas Christensen and Marcos Alonso are on their shortlist.

Barcelona midfielder Miralem Pjanic has warned Alvaro Morata and Matthijs de Ligt to think carefully before joining the Catalan club.

Morata is currently on loan at Juventus from Atletico Madrid, but reports suggest new Blaugrana head coach Xavi wants to further bolster his attack by signing the forward after already acquiring Ferran Torres.

Barca cannot register Torres, or any other potential signings, until they have offloaded players to negotiate salary-cap difficulties, though they have been linked in recent days to numerous attackers.

Club president Joan Laporta seemingly feels his LaLiga outfit are back in the market after telling the world that Barca have returned, with speculation even suggesting a move for Erling Haaland.

However, Pjanic, who is currently on loan at Besiktas, called for caution for any player considering joining his parent club.

He told Tuttosport: "Morata has had an amazing career so far. He played for big clubs like Chelsea, Atletico Madrid and Juventus. Sometimes players need motivation, but I would think twice before leaving a club where they feel good.

"Morata knows what to do, Barcelona hired Xavi, a coach who knows the club really well, I don't know the details, but I've always heard that Morata was happy at Juventus even if when Barcelona call you always need to think about it."

 

Pjanic endured a torrid time after leaving the Bianconeri in 2020 for Camp Nou, where he clashed with former Barca boss Ronald Koeman and was subsequently loaned to Besiktas at the start of this season.

He extended his encouragement to consider any potential move carefully to De Ligt, who has been a long-term target of Barca ever since coming through at his boyhood club Ajax.

After initially underwhelming in Turin following his €75million transfer, De Ligt has flourished under Massimiliano Allegri this campaign, ranking second among Juve defenders for minutes played in Serie A (1,293), while he last committed an error leading to goal in his debut 2019-20 season.

Indeed, among defenders to player 700 or more minutes in this year's Serie A, no player has been dribbled past fewer times than De Ligt (just once) but his future remains in doubt.

The centre-back's agent Mino Raiola revealed in December that his client would be open to new challenges away from the Allianz Stadium, yet Pjanic is unsure whether that is the best thing for De Ligt.

"De Ligt has three years left in his contract with Juventus, he has the right commitment, but I don't know if Barcelona are interested," he added.

"He made a great choice by deciding to join Juventus and work with Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, he is happy at Juventus and when you are happy, it's better not to leave. We'll see if he will have the motivation to leave."

Juventus are set to have the pair available for their home clash with Napoli on Thursday, currently sitting fifth in the league – 12 points behind leaders Inter ahead of their first game of 2022.

Matthijs de Ligt's future at Juventus is unclear following comments from his agent Mino Raiola.

The Netherlands international has been with the Bianconeri since July 2019 but could be set to move on.

Juventus are off the pace in the Serie A title race this season and Raiola said his client was "ready for a new step".

 

TOP STORY – BARCA CONSIDER DE LIGT MOVE

Barcelona are considering making a move for Juventus defender De Ligt, reports Gerard Romero.

The Blaugrana would need to offload the salaries of Samuel Umtiti and Philippe Coutinho to enable the transfer.

De Ligt has been linked with a switch away from Juventus, with Chelsea also interested.

 

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- Tottenham and Manchester United will rival Newcastle United in pursuit of Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier, claims 90min. Trippier is keen to return to England after two and a half years in Spain.

- Real Madrid are interested in Lille forward Jonathan David at the end of this season, claims Marca. Arsenal and West Ham are also monitoring the Canadian.

- Gerard Romero is reporting that Bayern Munich are considering a move for Barcelona's USA international full-back Sergino Dest.

- ESPN claims Arsenal are ready to listen to offers for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after he was stripped of the Gunners captaincy last week.

Matthijs de Ligt's agent Mina Raiola is ready to find the defender a new club.

The outspoken representative suggested he could join Barcelona, Real Madrid or Paris Saint-Germain.

He also indicated the Premier League was of interest to the Juventus centre-back.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA FRONTRUNNERS TO LAND DE LIGT

Chelsea are leading the race to sign Juventus defender De Ligt, claims The Sun.

Raiola has indicated the 22-year-old is ready to leave Juve, who are off the Serie A title pace this term.

Chelsea are expected to lose a host of defenders and eager to make a move for De Ligt.

 

ROUND-UP

- Cashed-up Newcastle United have an eye on Inter forward Edin Dzeko as well as a loan deal for Manchester United's Anthony Martial, reports The Sun.

Manchester United have been in touch with River Plate about 21-year-old Argentinean forward Julian Alvarez, claims Ole.

United are also set to win the race to sign Olympique Marseille midfielder Boubacar Kamara according to FourFourTwo.

- Gerard Romero claims that Tottenham will make another move for Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet after missing out on him last transfer window.

- Fabrizio Romano reports that Jonathan Ikone's move from Lille to Fiorentina is agreed with only the paperwork left to be signed on a five-year deal with a €15m fee.

Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri has dismissed agent Mino Raiola's suggestion that Matthijs de Ligt was ready to move on, saying the defender's next step is "to score goals".

Raiola claimed on Sunday that the centre-back was ready for a new step and suggested that the player shares the same view.

However, the 22-year-old has been performing well this term despite Juventus' struggles, with the Bianconeri seventh in Serie A, 12 points behind league leaders Inter.

Allegri was dismissive when asked about the agent's comments ahead of Juventus' clash with Cagliari on Tuesday, focusing instead on how the defender can improve and help the team.

"The step is to score goals tomorrow!" Allegri said in his pre-match press conference on Monday.

"I didn't hear the interview. I can only say that in [the 2-0 win over] Bologna he made two interventions as a great defender. He can still grow like all players."

De Ligt has been a regular fixture in Juve's defence this term, starting 13 times in 18 Serie A games and is becoming a dominant force in the air, competing for the most aerial duels per 90 minutes in the side (4.71) and winning 2.99 of them – also a club high.

Allegri is also still waiting for star forward Paolo Dybala to officially pen new terms, with the 28-year-old out of contract at the end of this season, and confirmed that the club plan to be active in the transfer window ahead of next season.

"I only know that there was a meeting the other day," Allegri continued. "I did not speak, I do not know the developments. It's an important contract.

"We have to work [in the transfer market], we have five months to do it. We have to be concentrated and be calm."

Matthijs de Ligt believes he is ready for a new challenge, according to the Juventus centre-back's agent Mino Raiola.

Former Ajax captain De Ligt left his boyhood club for pastures new in Turin in 2019, but initially underwhelmed following his €75million transfer.

However, the Netherlands international has been reinvigorated under new Bianconeri head coach Massimiliano Allegri, starting 13 of the 14 games he has featured in for his 1,203 Serie A minutes in 2021-22.

Alongside learning from veteran duo Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, De Ligt is turning into the dominant figure that he was expected to become – last committing an error leading to a chance in the league in his debut 2019-20 campaign.

Additionally, no Juve defender is competing for more aerial duels per 90 minutes than De Ligt (4.71), who also leads club charts among his fellow rearguard stars as he wins 2.99 of those contests per match.

The 22-year-old is seemingly becoming a force to be reckoned with at the back, but De Ligt is said to remain open to all options as he looks to further fulfil his potential.

Agent Raiola, who also boasts Paul Pogba, Erling Haaland and Gianluigi Donnarumma among his client list, revealed De Ligt's stance in an interview released on Sunday.

"[De Ligt] is ready for a new step ... he thinks that too," Raiola said, quoted by Dutch outlet NRC.

 

Raiola's comment comes just a day after Juventus chief executive Maurizio Arrivabene told Bianconeri supporters "they can forget" about the prospect of big-money signings during the January transfer window, insisting the club must focus on stability.

Juve announced an increase in capital earlier this week, with 91.75 per cent of the overall shares subscribed for approximately €366.9million.

De Ligt has previously been linked with the likes of Barcelona, where his former Ajax colleague and international compatriot Frenkie de Jong plays.

Mino Raiola has suggested Bayern Munich could make a move for Paul Pogba, who has also been offered a contract extension by Manchester United.

Pogba is out of contract with United at the end of the season. He has not featured since October when he was sent off in a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool.

The midfielder subsequently suffered a thigh injury while away on international duty with France last month.

United's new interim manager Ralf Rangnick said on Friday that he has spoken to Pogba, who has been rehabbing in Dubai but is due back into the United Kingdom this weekend.

Raiola confirmed in an interview with Sport1 that his client has been offered fresh terms by the Red Devils, though insisted that is just one of several options on the table, adding a move to Bayern may be hard for the Bundesliga club to pull off.

"We have many offers for him, including a contract extension. We'll see what’s best for him," Raiola said.

When asked if a Bundesliga team would be of interest to Pogba, Raiola replied: "The German mentality is different. They cannot and do not want to pay these high salaries. 

"The only German club that could do that is Bayern Munich. But even they can't get to Paul's salary. Germans are at the bottom of the international salary pyramid."

Pressed if there had been an expression of interest from Bayern, Raiola added: "Not yet, but maybe it will come.

"You have to ask Bayern. We deal with everything, but Bayern are the only ones [in Germany] who could afford him. I think we'll know more in two months."

Staying on the subject of Bayern, Raiola also revealed that one of his other star clients - Matthijs de Ligt - very nearly joined the Bavarian side back in 2019.

However, the move did not materialise, with De Ligt instead leaving Ajax to join Juventus.

"Do you actually know that we almost brought Matthijs de Ligt to Munich?" he added. "We held positive talks and it’s a shame it didn’t work out in the end."

Chelsea are not content to stick with what they have. 

The Blues are top of the Premier League but poised for major moves in January.

Three young stars and a veteran are high on their radar. 

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA EYE REINFORCEMENTS

Chelsea have their sights set on moves for Jules Kounde, Matthijs de Ligt and Lorenzo Insigne, reports Marca, while another report has them as the favourites to land Aurelien Tchouameni

The Blues are poised to revisit their talks with Sevilla over Kounde in January with multiple centre-backs set to be out of contract at the end of the season. 

Thomas Tuchel's side could also dip into Serie A and try to lure De Ligt from Juventus and Insigne from Napoli.

Chelsea are prepared to offer €60million (£51m) to Monaco for Tchouameni, says TuttoJuve, with Manchester City, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Juventus also possibilities. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are eyeing Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Hakim Ziyech as possible loan options from Chelsea, says Sport. 

- Manchester United are pushing to line up Zinedine Zidane to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, reports The Sunday Times.

- United are prepared to sell Jesse Lingard for as little as £10m in January, says The Sun. 

- Roma are in negotiations with United over a loan deal with an option to buy Diogo Dalot, claims Corriere dello Sport. 

- Inter will bring aboard Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana on a four-year deal, reports Fabrizio Romano. 

- Newcastle United will try to land Adrien Rabiot from Juventus for €10m to €15m (£8.5m-£13m), says Calciomercato. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's future is in doubt as Manchester United continue to struggle.

United were outclassed effortlessly by neighbours Manchester City in Saturday's Premier League derby.

Struggling for form, Solskjaer could pay the price at Old Trafford.

 

TOP STORY – SOLSKJAER SET FOR AXE?

Manchester United are considering the departure of under-fire manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to the Daily Mail.

Manchester City eased past United 2-0 in the Premier League derby showdown at Old Trafford, where Solskjaer's side were left sixth and nine points off the pace.

There are reports of a player revolt as Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo grow frustrated with life in Manchester.

Zinedine Zidane and Ajax boss Erik ten Hag have been linked as possible replacements.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Real Madrid and Newcastle United are interested in Liverpool star Mohamed Salah. The Egypt international, who is contracted to Liverpool until 2023, is keen to sign a new deal at Anfield.

City are weighing up a move for Juventus and Netherlands centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, says El Nacional. De Ligt has also been linked with Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United.

Karim Benzema is open to joining Paris Saint-Germain should Madrid sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, per El Nacional. Benzema has reportedly snubbed a move to Newcastle, while Haaland has been linked with City, United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, PSG, Chelsea and Juve.

Gerard PiqueSergio BusquetsSergi Roberto and Jordi Alba will be allowed to leave Barca under new head coach Xavi, according to El Nacional. Fabrizio Romano adds Xavi will look to re-sign Pablo Gavi and Ousmane Dembele.

- Calciomercato claims Atletico Madrid are interested in Udinese's Nahuel Molina, who is also wanted by Inter.

The list of candidates to replace Ronald Koeman at Barcelona is already forming.

Koeman was dismissed after Wednesday's 1-0 defeat to Rayo Vallecano which left them ninth in LaLiga.

Barcelona are battling financial challenges and have struggled since Lionel Messi's exit in August.

TOP STORY – XAVI OFFERED BARCELONA JOB

Barcelona have offered their vacant head coaching role to club legend Xavi, reports Goal.

The Catalans have acted fast with Koeman sacked late on Wednesday.

Xavi is currently coaching Qatari outfit Al Sadd but has an exit clause in his contract, although Barca are prepared to pay any fee required.

The 41-year-old long-time Barcelona midfielder retired from playing in 2019, with his final on-field stint at Al Sadd before moving into coaching.

 

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool are in the box seat to sign Leeds United's England international midfielder Kalvin Phillips, according to the Daily Star. Phillips, who is contracted with Leeds until 2024, has been linked with Manchester United too, but the report claims Liverpool are his first choice and the deal would be worth around £60million.

- Manchester United have conceded that agreeing a new deal with Paul Pogba is impossible and are prepared to lose the France international on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season, reports ESPN. Pogba has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain , Juventus and Real Madrid .

- Manchester United's Amad Diallo is interested in going out on loan to Dutch club Feyenoord, according to Feyenoord TM. The 19-year-old Ivorian winger has not played this season.

- TEAMtalk claims that PSG have joined the pursuit of Leeds United's Brazil international Raphinha. PSG is the current home of Raphinha's Brazilian team-mates Neymar and Marquinhos.

- Chelsea are preparing for Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen's exit by lining up moves for Sevilla's Jules Kounde and Juventus' Matthijs de Ligt, reports Eurosport.

Giorgio Chiellini hopes Matthijs de Ligt is not taken away from Juventus by agent Mino Raiola, as he feels his defensive colleague already "has everything".

Now 37, Juve captain Chiellini is in the final years of his career, but the future of the Turin giants appears to be in the hands of De Ligt.

The former Ajax captain is still just 22 and is settled in Serie A in his third season with the Bianconeri.

De Ligt underwhelmed a little following his €75million transfer to Italy but has since performed well, last committing an error leading to a chance in the league in his debut 2019-20 season.

Although De Ligt has been limited to six appearances this term, with veteran duo Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci preferred against Inter on Sunday, he is certainly becoming a more dominant defender.

No Juve defender is contesting (4.5) or winning (3.4) more aerial duels per 90 than De Ligt in 2021-22, while his overall duel success rate for the season is up significantly to 67.4 per cent.

Indeed, Chiellini believes De Ligt has the full package, telling DAZN: "He's very strong, I call him Thor.

 

"If he had been Italian, it would have been easier to keep him for many years, I hope that Mino will give us the pleasure of leaving him a few more years in Turin.

"He has everything, but the difference is made in the head; he is 22 years old but has the mentality of someone of 30, and he sets himself the goal of wanting to improve every day."

De Ligt arrived at Juve as Andrea Barzagli retired, but he still finds himself competing with the other two members of the great 'BBC' back line.

That might not have been the case, however, as Bonucci briefly left for Milan – a move that upset Chiellini.

"I was hurt. That Milan was a team in difficulty, it was not Real Madrid or even Milan of now," he said. "Today it would be different, but at the time going there meant taking a clear step back.

"The choices remain personal and must be respected, but if we had been on holiday together that summer I would have made him understand that he was making a mistake. He realised it very soon."

Chiellini also could have been out the door by now, revealing he considered retiring following the coronavirus outbreak but played on to star at Euro 2020, where Italy won the title.

"I lived a hard period after my injury," Chiellini said. "I returned after six months and shortly after COVID broke out, and for almost a year I struggled to find the right balance.

"The thought of retirement made its way into my head but it was the European Championship that kept me going with the desire to be there at all costs."

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