Paul Pogba's future with Manchester United remains up in the air.

Pogba is out of contract at the end of this season and deferred contract talks with United.

The midfielder is reportedly open to offers with Pogba's agent Mino Raiola shopping him around.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE ENTER POGBA PURSUIT

Newcastle United have entered the race to sign Manchester United's Pogba, reports Fichajes.

The Magpies are hoping to land the 28-year-old France international on a free transfer, although it is unclear if he would entertain the move to a club that is currently battling relegation, albeit Newcastle will hope that will be different next season.

Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Juventus have also been linked with Pogba, who could also opt to stay at Old Trafford.

ROUND-UP

- Tottenham's Harry Kane will not decide on his future until the end of the season, after trying to join Manchester City last year, reports The Standard. Kane is currently not interested in discussing a contract extension with Spurs.

- Madrid have tabled a final offer for Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland claims Sport. Haaland has been pursued by several top clubs including PSG, Barcelona, United, Chelsea and Manchester City.

- Marca claims that Barcelona will swoop for Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen should he become a free agent this upcoming off-season.

- The Daily Star claims that Donny van de Beek will push for a permanent move away from Manchester United to Everton if his loan spell goes well.

- Milan are interested in Tottenham winger Steven Bergwijn, reports Calciomercato.

Eddie Howe is hopeful Kieran Trippier will play for Newcastle United again this season, but stated the right-back's injury is "significant".

Trippier was the first arrival under Howe and the new ownership at Newcastle last month, and has played a key role in helping the Magpies turn their form around.

Newcastle are out of the bottom three in the Premier League after three successive victories, beating Leeds United, Everton and Aston Villa respectively.

England international Trippier has scored in both of the last two matches, but he sustained a fracture in his left foot during the win over Villa.

Newcastle confirmed on Monday that the 31-year-old had fractured his fifth metatarsal bone, though no timescale was placed on his return.

Initial reports suggested that Trippier would need between eight and 10 weeks to fully recover.

On Friday, while previewing Newcastle's clash with West Ham, Howe confirmed Trippier's surgery had been a success.

"He had his operation yesterday and that went well, so that was good news," Howe told a news conference.

"We aim to have him back before the end of the season, but it's a significant injury which is a big blow for us."

Trippier's back-up, Javier Manquillo, suffered an ankle injury in the Villa match, and Howe confirmed the Spaniard would also be missing against West Ham on Saturday.

"Manquillo went off in the same game after landing awkwardly on his ankle following a header," Howe said. "We don't think that's serious, but he will miss the game. Apart from that, we're as we were."

A fellow new arrival in January was midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, though the Brazil international is yet to make his full debut for Newcastle, having instead had to settle for two substitute appearances.

"It's a really strong area, probably our strongest in terms of personnel," Howe said of Newcastle's midfield. "Every player would have an argument to say I deserve to start so long may that continue.

"Bruno will start a lot of games for us and will be a huge player. I don't think this period where he's watching and learning from the Premier League is a bad thing for him, although it will frustrate him because he wants to show his talent."

Due to gale-force winds hitting the United Kingdom from Storm Eunice, Newcastle will not be flying down to London, but instead they faced a seven-hour coach journey to the capital ahead of Saturday's early kick-off.

However, recent history is on their side. Newcastle have won their last two Premier League away games against West Ham, and have tasted victory on the road against the Hammers 10 times. They have not won more often on the road against any other side in the competition.

Barcelona have been working to overcome their financial challenges over the past 12 months.

The Blaugrana have been plotting a way forward with their playing squad.

Barca landed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on a free transfer in January, as well as a loan move for Adama Traore.

TOP STORY – BARCELONA TARGET DE VRIJ

Barcelona are keen on Inter's Dutch defender Stefan de Vrij, reports Fichajes.

De Vrij is contracted with the Nerazzurri until the end of the 2022-23 season, but Barca may view him as Gerard Pique's successor.

Inter are reportedly open to interest from other parties, if the price is right, with the 30-year-old heading towards the final year of his present deal.

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail claims Paris Saint-Germain are putting together a lucrative deal to lure Paul Pogba to the club from Manchester United as a free agent. Pogba also has interest from Real Madrid and Barcelona, while he may still stay at Old Trafford.

- Newcastle United's efforts to sign Sevilla defender Diego Carlos will continue in the off-season after missing out in January, reports Marca.

- RB Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku has been added to Manchester United's list of off-season targets, claims ESPN.

- Crystal Palace and Watford are both keen on Liverpool veteran James Milner, according to Fichajes.

Newcastle United right-back Kieran Trippier is set for a spell on the sidelines after fracturing his foot.

Trippier was the first of five January arrivals in the first transfer window under the club's Saudi Arabia-backed ownership. Dan Burn, Matt Targett, Bruno Guimaraes and Chris Wood also signed for Eddie Howe's team.

The England international was forced off in the second half of the Magpies' 1-0 win over Aston Villa, having scored what turned out to be the winning goal from a free-kick in the 35th minute. 

It was Trippier's second Newcastle goal, after he netted in the 3-1 win over Everton on Tuesday. Howe's side have now won three Premier League matches in a row and are now fourth points clear of the bottom three.

Newcastle have since released a statement confirming that a scan conducted after full-time has revealed that Trippier has fractured a bone in his left foot.

However, no timescale has been placed on the 31-year-old's return.

"Trippier is set to be sidelined for the club's upcoming fixtures after fracturing a bone in his foot during Sunday's 1-0 victory over Aston Villa," the statement on Newcastle's official website read.

"The 31-year-old scored the game's only goal at St. James' Park to help the Magpies to a third successive Premier League win, but had to be substituted early in the second half after sustaining a foot injury.

"Trippier underwent an X-ray immediately after the game and scans have shown a fracture to the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot.

"Everyone at the club wishes Kieran a speedy recovery."

 

Chelsea have been crowned European and world champions since Thomas Tuchel's appointment just over 12 months ago.

The Blues, however, finished fourth in the Premier League last season.

Chelsea are third this term but 16 points behind leaders Manchester City with a game in hand, and it seems recruitment is in the offing.

TOP STORY – BLUES SET TO SPLASH THE CASH

Chelsea are set for an off-season transfer splash as they prepare to back Tuchel fresh from their Club World Cup triumph, according to The Telegraph, 

The Blues have their sights firmly set on signing long-term target Jules Kounde from Sevilla as a priority in the upcoming off-season.

Chelsea are also interested in West Ham United's England international Declan Rice and Monaco's 22-year-old French midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni.


ROUND-UP

- Football London reports Arsenal are plotting a move for Chelsea forward Armando Broja, who is currently on loan at Southampton. The Gunners are short on attacking options after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's exit and with Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah running down contracts.

- Fichajes also claims that Arsenal are interested in Milan forward Rafael Leao, along with Newcastle United.

Barcelona are trying to agree new deals with star young pair Gavi and Ronald Araujo amid interest from Liverpool and Manchester United, reports ESPN.

Juventus are willing to listen to offers for Adrien Rabiot and Alex Sandro according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Fichajes claims that West Ham want to sign Lille defender Sven Botman, Villarreal left-back Pervis Estupinan and Real Sociedad centre-back Robin Le Normand.

Liverpool responded to Manchester City's thrashing of Norwich by recording a hard-fought 1-0 win at Burnley.

Fabinho struck the only goal in the first half, as the Reds continued their fine set-piece record on a day when set-plays proved decisive across the Premier League.

Elsewhere, Raul Jimenez starred as Wolves leapfrogged Tottenham with a shock 2-0 win, and Newcastle continued their revival with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa, thanks to Kieran Tripper's free-kick.

The final game of the day saw West Ham rescue a dramatic 2-2 draw at Leicester City, with Craig Dawson netting a stoppage-time equaliser.

Burnley 0-1 Liverpool: Reds reap rewards of set-piece focus

Liverpool did not produce a vintage performance, but Jurgen Klopp's men kept leaders Manchester City on their toes by earning a vital away win.

The Reds had to work hard for the three points against Burnley at Turf Moor. After managing 27 shots, nine attempts on target and 50 touches in Burnley's penalty area in the reverse fixture at Anfield last August, Liverpool had just over half as many touches in Burnley's 18-yard box this time (26), managing 12 shots in total and just four on target.

However, Klopp's men dug deep to find a winning goal, and did so courtesy of their fantastic set-piece record. Excluding penalties, 14 of Liverpool’s 61 Premier League goals this season have come via set-pieces, more than any other team and more than the tally they recorded in the top-flight last term (13).

Fabinho's winning goal also means he has scored more goals in his last seven matches (five) than he managed in his first 142 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions (four).

Meanwhile, the Anfield outfit also maintained their record of having won each of their games in which the Brazilian has netted for the club, with that run now reaching eight matches.

Tottenham 0-2 Wolves: Jimenez proves decisive at Spurs once again

It was Wolves, rather than Tottenham, who asserted their top-four credentials by recording a huge win in north London, with Jimenez and Leander Dendoncker firing the visitors to a 2-0 win.

Mexican striker Jimenez has now scored in each of his last three Premier League appearances away at Spurs (three goals), with Wolves winning each of those contests.

Indeed, Jimenez has now scored four times in six appearances against Tottenham, and has only scored more Premier League goals against Southampton and Everton (five).

For Antonio Conte's Spurs, the defeat was their third Premier League reverse in succession, and they also lost three consecutive league games under Nuno Espirito Santo in September 2021. This marks the first time they have had multiple three-match losing games in a Premier League campaign since 2004-05 (also two).

Newcastle 1-0 Aston Villa: Another free-kick continues Toon revival

Newcastle's clash with Aston Villa was not exactly one for the purists, featuring the third-lowest expected goals tally of the entire Premier League season so far, but Tripper ensured that it was a memorable day for the Magpies.

Trippier's 35th-minute free-kick was enough to see off Steven Gerrard's men in a contest where both teams created just 0.5 xG apiece.

Remarkably, Newcastle have now scored a direct free-kick goal in each of their last three Premier League games (Jonjo Shelvey at Leeds, followed by Trippier against Everton and Aston Villa), becoming the first side to do so since Liverpool in December 2013.

In a game of fine margins, the England right-back showed the quality that he brings to the Magpies' relegation fight, and he is now the first Newcastle player to score direct free-kick goals in consecutive Premier League games since Hugo Viana did so in May 2003.

You wait nearly three weeks for a Premier League matchday and then two arrive at once…

Reigning champions and leaders Manchester City head to strugglers Norwich City, while Liverpool visit the lowly Burnley after the Clarets earned a valuable point against Manchester United in midweek.

Ralf Rangnick's Red Devils face Southampton, who impressed with a comeback victory over Tottenham on Wednesday. Antonio Conte's side will hope to bounce back at home to Wolves.

Ahead of the action, Stats Perform uses Opta data to aid your fantasy football selection dilemmas.

JOSE SA (Tottenham v Wolves)

Wolves have become specialists in securing slender wins to propel them towards an unlikely qualification for European football.

Jose Sa has been central to the success of Bruno Lage's backline, saving 69 of the 86 shots on target he has faced – the best save percentage (80 per cent) in the Premier League of any goalkeeper to play at least five games.

While he will be tasked with keeping Son Heung-min and Harry Kane out, the Portugal goalkeeper could be good shout for some important save bonus points.

ANDREW ROBERTSON (Burnley v Liverpool)

Robertson is hardly a new phenomenon for the veteran fantasy football players, but the Scotland international has been sensational on the road for Liverpool.

The left-back has provided five assists in his last four top-flight away games and has six overall for the Reds on the road this season – the last player to assist more away from Anfield in the league was Danny Murphy (seven) in 2002-03.

With Burnley struggling at the top end of the pitch as well, the former Hull City man could be a likely source of clean-sheet points as well.

PHILIPPE COUTINHO (Newcastle United v Aston Villa)

Philippe Coutinho has starred under Steven Gerrard in his limited time as a loanee at Aston Villa, registering a goal and two assists against Leeds United on Wednesday.

That took the Brazil international's tally to four goal involvements (two goals, two assists) in his opening three league games for Villa, averaging a goal or an assist every 44 minutes.

Eddie Howe's Newcastle United are down in the relegation mix, so Coutinho remains a smart pick with many expecting goals galore at St. James' Park.

PATSON DAKA (Leicester City v West Ham)

Leicester City have endured a tough period under Brendan Rodgers, but Patson Daka has still been a standout performer for the Foxes.

The Zambian striker has found the net in four of his five home top-flight appearances and is providing previous fantasy favourite Jamie Vardy with some stiff competition.

Daka has scored on all three of his home league starts and could be the seventh Premier League player in history to do so in his first four if he can breach the West Ham defence on Sunday.

Bruno Guimaraes has sensationally claimed that he wants to win the Champions League with Newcastle United.

Newcastle, the wealthiest club in world football following last year's takeover by a Saudi Arabia-backed ownership group, spent big in January as they attempt to stave off relegation from the Premier League.

Eddie Howe's team sit 19th with 15 points, and face a huge contest against fellow strugglers Everton on Tuesday.

Guimaraes was one of the new recruits drafted in last month, and represented a real coup for Newcastle, with the midfielder having been linked to some of Europe's biggest clubs.

There are four players with 30+ tackles, 30+ dribbles completed and 30+ chances created in open play in Europe's big five leagues this season, and Guimaraes is one of them.

And despite his new team struggling at the wrong end of the league table, Guimaraes is targeting European glory down the line.

He told Newcastle's official website: "Of course, it's my dream. I can't stand losing, I get really annoyed with any type of defeat, on and off the pitch.

"I'm obsessed with winning. Given Newcastle's project, all the information they provided me with, we’ll have a great team here – as it was for a long time in the past.

"We want more, we want to win the Champions League."

Discussing what Newcastle fans can expect, the former Lyon midfielder added: "Absolutely, I also want to increase my goals and assists.

"Obviously as those who have signed me know well, I'm a midfielder not an attacker. I aim to get the ball into the attacking players.

"The fans can expect a lot of desire and determination. Goals aren't the strongest part of my game.

"I'll get the team moving and contribute to playing the ball out with quality. It’s good that it’s clear that Newcastle have signed a midfielder, not an attacker."

Dan Ashworth has resigned as Brighton and Hove Albion technical director to join another Premier League club – widely thought to be Newcastle United.

Ashworth held talks with Newcastle previously as the club's new owners seek to appoint a director of football, with a chief executive set to follow.

"In line with his contractual terms, Ashworth will now begin an extended period of gardening leave, after which he will be able to take up a new position elsewhere," a Brighton statement detailing his departure read.

David Weir, Ashworth's assistant, has replaced him as acting technical director, with Brighton saying the handover would be completed "later this week".

Ashworth was the FA's director of elite development for six years up until 2018, playing a key role in the improved fortunes of the England team. He then joined Brighton the following year.

Brighton chairman Tony Bloom said: "We are extremely disappointed that Dan will no longer be our technical director. He leaves a significant legacy in place and for that we are greatly appreciative.

"Dan's done an outstanding job and helped build on the progress the club had already made across all of our technical areas. I wish Dan and his family well for the future."

Newcastle signed defender Dan Burn from Brighton at the start of last week and reports suggest Ashworth was offered the new job at St James' Park on Friday.

His imminent appointment comes as a boost to the relegation-threatened side, who face a huge game against Everton on Tuesday.

Coach Eddie Howe has revealed a return date for injured top scorer Callum Wilson remains "unclear", with the hope being he can "play a big part at the end of the season". March was initially suggested as a target for the striker.

Burn is a doubt for the Everton match, while Howe said he was yet to make a decision on Bruno Guimaraes, the £35million signing who joined over the weekend following international duty with Brazil.

Newcastle United versus Everton may have been ringed on the calendar back in August, but not for the same reasons it is now the source of such intrigue.

Tuesday's fixture could have seen Rafael Benitez return to St James' Park for the first time since quitting as Newcastle manager back in 2019.

However, Benitez is out at Everton – as, at Newcastle, is Steve Bruce, his successor on Tyneside.

Instead, Frank Lampard heads north for his Premier League bow as Everton boss, set to take on Eddie Howe's Magpies in a match neither can afford to lose.

Newcastle remain in the bottom three yet can close to within a point of their opponents with a win that would surely drag Lampard's men into the relegation battle.

Ahead of a mammoth encounter, Stats Perform's Ben Spratt and Patric Ridge examine the issues that have brought the two teams to this point and consider how they can each hope to kick clear of the danger – starting at Gallowgate.

Why Newcastle are in trouble – BS

This has felt like a relegation campaign right from the outset, with Newcastle's positive performances going unrewarded and their poorer displays being ruthlessly punished.

Newcastle led within five minutes at home to West Ham on the opening day, as Bruce attempted to deliver a more exciting, attacking brand of football. He succeeded only in leaving a hapless defence hopelessly exposed.

They lost 4-2 to the Hammers, the first three of 21 points dropped from winning positions, the first four of 43 goals conceded – 10 of which have been a result of errors leading to goals (four), penalty goals (five) or own goals (one).

Those mistakes have continued under Howe, who has also quickly grown tired of a consistent trend of contentious refereeing decisions going against his side at both ends of the pitch.

The assumption from those not watching this luckless outfit on a weekly basis has been that January spending would lift Newcastle to safety. That theory is about to be put to the test, however, with the neutral perhaps anticipating more ambitious targets than Chris Wood and Dan Burn.

Why Everton are in trouble – PR

Benitez was never the right choice at Goodison Park – but not only due to his Liverpool connections. While his disciplined, organised Newcastle side appeared to play to a clear plan, his Everton team were, largely, shocking.

After a 1-1 draw with Manchester United in October, Everton had 14 points from their seven Premier League games – their best start since 2004-05 (16 points), when they finished fourth – but the underlying level of performances always suggested that if injuries hit, which they did, the Toffees may struggle. And struggle they have.

Benitez – who cannot be blamed for all of Everton's issues, it has to be stressed – wanted to play on the counter-attack, yet his team could not defend. Across 19 league games in charge, they shipped 34 goals – including 11 from set-pieces, a problem that persists.

But Everton's issues have not been restricted to one area of the pitch.

From a 1-0 defeat to West Ham on October 17 to Benitez's final match in charge against Norwich City on January 15, Everton ranked 18th for goals (11), 16th for shots on target (46/139) and 12th for touches in the opposition box (259), as well as having the third-worst defence (27 goals conceded), with 20.6 expected goals against the fourth-worst in the division. Their position is in no way false.

Why Newcastle can survive – BS

Newcastle's £90million January outlay – the largest in world football – may not have brought a host of superstars to Tyneside, immediately guaranteeing survival, but their five signings could yet transform the way Howe's side play.

Kieran Trippier, Burn, Matt Targett and Bruno Guimaraes have all been recruited from teams who are used to having the ball – which cannot be said for Newcastle, despite their coach's footballing philosophy. No team in the Premier League have had a lower average share of possession (37.8 per cent), with just Burnley, who have two games in hand, completing fewer passes (4,962).

If Newcastle are now able to move the ball out from the back with greater confidence, their costly mistakes in possession should start to subside.

This has, after all, been a season of such fine margins. The Magpies have not lost to any of the other eight teams in the bottom nine; crucially, however, they have only beaten two of them. A new style of play, operating further away from their own goal (only Wolves have a deeper average starting position than Newcastle), should mean more opportunities created in attack and fewer conceded in defence.

Newcastle have been working towards this Everton game for more than two weeks, although only Trippier of the new faces went on the "team bonding" trip to Saudi Arabia. How quickly and effectively the rest of the signings have settled should be evident in Newcastle's approach – and, perhaps, the result.

Why Everton can survive – PR

Had they carried on with Benitez for much longer, or perhaps even left Duncan Ferguson in caretaker charge, Everton's survival chances may have been slim.

Yet that should change under Lampard – and seemingly already has. A clip of the new Toffees manager instructing his players to "enjoy the ball" during a training session last week came as a breath of fresh air to supporters who, under a succession of managers, have become accustomed to their team surrendering possession far too easily.

Evidence of Lampard's impact was there to see in the 4-1 FA Cup win over Brentford on Saturday. Even though Dele Alli and Donny van de Beek were cup-tied and Dominic Calvert-Lewin was out injured, Everton scored four goals in a game for the first time since Carlo Ancelotti oversaw a 5-4 win over Tottenham last February.

Everton had 55.8 per cent of the possession, a share they were only twice able to better under Benitez (both in defeats), with Lampard placing more of an emphasis on his defenders playing into midfield. A duel success rate of 63.1 per cent (53/84) was their best in any game across all competitions this season, as the Toffees noticeably looked to engage higher up the pitch.

Given Newcastle preferred to invest in their defence, Everton – between Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Demarai Gray – should have the strongest attack of those in relegation trouble. With Alli and Van de Beek also to come into the midfield and Abdoulaye Doucoure to return from injury, Lampard's more attacking, intense approach should suit the Toffees moving forward.

Declan Rice has long since been linked with a move to Manchester United and the Red Devils' pursuit is reportedly set to step up a notch.

England midfielder Rice is a man seemingly in demand, even though suitors will likely have to stump up a minimum of £100million to land him.

With Manchester City and Chelsea also said to be interested, United are aiming to be at the front of the queue for his signature.

TOP STORY – RICE A MAN IN DEMAND

Manchester United are likely to wait until a permanent manager is in place to make their moves in the market, with Ralf Rangnick remaining in charge on a temporary basis until the end of the campaign.

But the Mirror reports that Rice remains high on their list of priorities with United aiming to overhaul their midfield ahead of next season.

Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips and RB Leipzig's Amadou Haidara are apparently also high on United's shortlist of targets.

ROUND-UP

- The Red Devils are set to be busy in the close-season with Barcelona's highly rated centre-back Ronald Araujo on their radar, according to the Mirror. The defender, who is entering the final 18 months of his contract, is thought to be attracting interest from Manchester City too.

- Aston Villa right-back Matty Cash has emerged as a transfer target for LaLiga giants Atletico Madrid, according to Fabrizio Romano. Atleti allowed Kieran Trippier to join Newcastle United in January.

- The Sun reported that Arsenal are set to complete a triple swoop for Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Alexander Isak of Real Sociedad and Wolves' Ruben Neves in the next transfer window.

- Lille centre-back Sven Botman is still high on Newcastle United's radar despite a deal not being able to be struck during the last window, says the Athletic.

- Victor Osimhen remains a top target for Tottenham, writes Football Insider. Spurs will need to stump up around £60m to land the Napoli striker.

Jonathan Woodgate hopes Newcastle United stay patient with Eddie Howe in their long-term bid to become contenders in the Premier League. 

Newcastle have refocused their sights on the top of the table after a lucrative takeover by a consortium backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, the richest owner in world football. 

For now, however, the Magpies are battling relegation under Howe – the first coach appointed by the new owners in November. 

Newcastle were winless when Howe took over and have only added two victories since, remaining in the bottom three with relegation a major concern. 

But after a January transfer window in which Newcastle were the top spenders across Europe, shelling out in the region of £90million for five players, Woodgate believes they will stay up. 

The former Newcastle defender told Stats Perform: "Some of the performances they've produced have been really good – especially at home, they've been decent. 

"Okay, away from home, they've had a few difficult results, but they're a good team. 

"And you need to give Eddie Howe the time to really implement what he wants to do, because he's a fantastic manager." 

That was a sentiment Woodgate repeated when discussing the potential for Newcastle to challenge for the title, as they did during his time at the club between 2003 and 2004. 

"You're looking at five years, five to 10 years," Woodgate said. "It depends on which players you can buy, and hopefully they can stay with Eddie Howe, because I know he can build something there. 

"We had a fantastic team there. We were young, energetic, good players, English players, who really had that hunger. 

"We had great senior players, Gary Speed, Alan Shearer, Shay Given, Steve Harper, at the time, who were really good behind the scenes and good with the young players as well. 

"You need the right balance and the right blend to build a team. We had that in that team in the Bobby Robson era." 

"Balance" is the key again now, Woodgate says, and he believes Newcastle may have found it in January, signing defenders Kieran Trippier, Matt Targett and Dan Burn, midfielder Bruno Guimaraes and striker Chris Wood. 

Himself widely considered Newcastle's best centre-back of the Premier League era, Woodgate sees a player in Burn who has "improved fantastically well". Guimaraes, he suggests, "is a very good signing". 

"I think they needed someone else in the middle of that park to really be hard to play against, because at times Newcastle can be easy to play against," the ex-England man added. 

"Putting [Guimaraes] in the centre of the pitch, it'll be a lot more difficult now for teams to break them down." 

"They've brought in that balance," Woodgate concluded. "They did need two full-backs, they needed a centre-back and they needed a centre-midfielder and centre-forward to help Callum Wilson. 

"So, I think it's been a very good window and they haven't overspent. They haven't spent £200m like everyone thought they would, but they've kept it nice." 

When the next transfer window opens, Erling Haaland's future will be a hot topic.

The 21-year-old striker has two years remaining on his Borussia Dortmund contract.

But there is a £65million (€75m) release clause that enables him to talk to clubs who can meet that valuation from this off-season.

 

TOP STORY - CITY READY TO RAMP UP HAALAND ADVANCES

El Chiringuito claim that Real Madrid's interest in signing Haaland has waned as they focus on landing Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain.

Madrid have been heavily linked with Haaland once his release clause becomes active, along with Barcelona, PSG, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City.

City "will do what they can" to persuade Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland to join them in the off-season despite believing they are not front-runners, reports The Athletic.

ROUND-UP

- ESPN claims that Manchester United have asked Paul Pogba to delay a decision on his future until they have appointed a permanent manager. Pogba's contract is up in June and he has been linked with PSG and Juventus.

- Chelsea have shortlisted West Ham United's Declan Rice, Sevilla's Jules Kounde and Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni as off-season targets, claims The Athletic.

- Newcastle United plan to re-ignite their interest in Lille's 22-year-old defender Sven Botman, who is worth £35m (€42m) according to The Mirror.

- Arsenal turned down approaches from Newcastle and Crystal Palace for Eddie Nketiah in the closing days of the January transfer window reports Fabrizio Romano. Nketiah has six months remaining on his Gunners deal and could sign a pre-contract elsewhere.

Dusan Vlahovic is "emotional and proud" to have signed for Juventus, declaring the move an "easy" decision despite rival interest and backlash from Fiorentina fans.

Vlahovic moved from Fiorentina to Juve for €75million in the biggest deal of the January transfer window.

The 17-goal striker – tied with Ciro Immobile at the top of Serie A's scoring charts – was said to have turned down approaches from Arsenal and Newcastle United before heading for Turin.

That was a call that frustrated Fiorentina supporters, who have grown used to seeing their top players poached by rivals Juve.

The Curva Fiesole group described Vlahovic as "another small man without b****, without honour and without respect" and "a coward" for joining the Bianconeri.

Presented as a Juve player on Tuesday, however, Vlahovic was delighted with his choice.

"I am emotional and proud to have signed for Juventus," he said. "I am ready to give my all for this glorious club to reach its objectives.

 

"The choice was easy. The Juventus DNA: the desire to fight, to never give up, to aim to be the best – all these elements are also part of my character. I fit in here.

"I want to the thank the president and everyone else who made this move possible."

Still, Vlahovic had a word for Fiorentina, adding: "I want to thank everyone at Fiorentina who helped me mature and make me the player I am today."

The 22-year-old was the most sought-after forward last month, but fellow superstars Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland are expected to be on the move later in the year.

As Vlahovic seemingly emerges as a challenger to those two as his generation's top talent, he said: "I am following my own path. How far I'll reach, I don't know, but I'll give my all to achieve as much as possible."

Arsenal cancelled Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's contract to pave the way for the striker to join Barcelona, while Ousmane Dembele remains at Camp Nou following an eventful transfer day across Europe.

Aubameyang had five months to run on his Emirates Stadium deal but was told he could join Barca on a free transfer, which is set to be announced by the LaLiga giants on Tuesday.

Despite some confirmed interest from at least one club in England, and the threat of not playing for the rest of the season, Dembele opted to stay put in Catalonia until at least the end of the season.

Those players were discussed heavily throughout deadline day, but arguably the most remarkable transfer happened early on Monday when Christian Eriksen officially joined Brentford.

It marks a return to the Premier League – and indeed a football pitch – for Eriksen, just seven months after suffering a cardiac arrest while playing for Denmark at Euro 2020 and subsequently being fitted with a heart-starting device.

Newcastle live up to big-spending billing

In their first transfer window under their new ownership, Newcastle United spent more than any side on the continent and rounded things off by bringing in some much-needed defensive options in Dan Burn and Matt Targett.

Boyhood Newcastle fan Burn joined from Brighton and Hove Albion in a reported £13million deal, while left-back Targett will spend the rest of the season at St James' Park on loan from Aston Villa.

But it was not all good news for the Magpies as they missed out on a deal for France Under-20s striker Hugo Ekitike, who is reported to have had second thoughts and decided to remain at Reims. There was also no move for Jesse Lingard.


Tottenham and Juventus the busiest clubs

Antonio Conte was backed by the Tottenham board on deadline day with the arrivals of Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski as part of a double deal with Juventus.

Bentancur is reported to have cost Spurs an initial £15.9m (€19m) on a deal that will run through until the end of the 2025-26 season, and he will be joined in north London by Kulusevski on an initial 18-month loan with the option to buy.

It was not all about incoming activity for Tottenham in the final stages of the window, though, as club-record signing Tanguy Ndombele was returned to Lyon for the rest of the season and Bryan Gil and Giovanni Lo Celso were loaned out to LaLiga sides Valencia and Villarreal respectively.

And in a deal that went through more than an hour after the 23:00 GMT cut-off point, Dele Alli joined Everton in a transfer that could potentially earn Spurs £40m should various clauses be triggered.

Having offloaded Bentancur and Kulusevski, meanwhile, Juve further trimmed their squad by allowing Aaron Ramsey to sign for Rangers until the end of the campaign, with those deals offset by the arrival of Denis Zakaria from Borussia Monchengladbach.


Big boys quiet

Manchester City got a deal over the line for Argentina international Julian Alvarez before loaning the young forward straight back to River Plate, but it was otherwise a relatively quiet day for Europe's elite clubs.

Manchester United's only piece of business on Monday was allowing midfield outcast Donny van de Beek join Everton on loan, while Liverpool let Nat Phillips head to Bournemouth for the rest of 2021-22. The second-tier Cherries also signed Todd Cantwell, recently a target for Liverpool, to bolster their promotion ambitions.

Liverpool had hoped to bring in highly rated youngster Fabio Carvalho from Fulham, but a deal is reported to have fallen through shortly before the cut-off point after terms had already been agreed.

There was no such activity for fellow Premier League heavyweights Chelsea, as was the case for the likes of Paris Saint-Germain – despite links with Dembele – Bayern Munich, Inter, Milan and Real Madrid.

But reigning Spanish champions Atletico Madrid did manage to strengthen at left-back by bringing in Reinildo Mandava from French champions Lille.


Other notable deals...

Unsurprisingly, Premier League clubs flexed their financial muscles in a final attempt to strengthen before the deadline.

Crystal Palace turned striker Jean-Philippe Mateta's loan from Mainz into a permanent deal and Burnley signed Wout Weghorst from Wolfsburg, who moved quickly to bring in FC Copenhagen striker Jonas Wind as a replacement.

Elsewhere, Deniz Undav put pen to paper with Brighton before being loaned back to Belgian side Royale Union Saint-Gilloise. The Seagulls also signed Benicio Baker-Boaitey on loan from Porto with a view to a permanent move.

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