After excelling in the Champions League for Benfica, Uruguay striker Darwin Nunez has attracted interest from Newcastle United.

Darwin, who turns 23 in June, has scored 24 goals in 24 Primeira Liga games, as well as six goals in 10 Champions League appearances. No Benfica player has ever scored more goals in a single Champions League campaign.

While some of the world's biggest clubs – including Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United – are hoping to sign the breakout star, they will have to contend with an aggressive offer to bring him to St James' Park.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE MAKE £50M BID FOR DARWIN

Newcastle have been linked with all kinds of big-name signings for the upcoming transfer window, but Footmercato is reporting that they have made a £50million bid for Darwin in an effort to fend off the challenge of rival clubs.

At such a young age, he could be the kind of marquee signing the new Newcastle board can build their future side around as they also chase more experienced players, such as Christian Eriksen from Brentford on a free transfer.

The Footmercato report also mentions that if Darwin is to leave, Benfica plan to replace him with Petar Musa, who is on loan at Boavista from Slavia Prague.

 

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– 90min is reporting Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri is very interested in reuniting with Jorginho, as he is unlikely to be offered a new contract at Chelsea beyond 2023.

– Erik ten Hag would like to bring Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni to Manchester United when he takes over as manager, according to ESPN.

Arsenal, Leeds United and Newcastle are set to compete for the signature of Hoffenheim's Florian Grillitsch when his contract expires after this season, per the Daily Mail.

– The Sun is reporting Kalvin Phillips will reject Manchester United's advances and sign a new deal with Leeds.

Burnley are targeting Sam Allardyce to take over as manager after the sacking of Sean Dyche, per The Sun.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been heavily linked with an early exit from Manchester United this season.

The Red Devils are out of the Premier League title race and struggling to make the top four.

There is said to be tension surrounding Ronaldo due to Ralf Rangnick's appointment as interim manager.

TOP STORY - RONALDO RE-COMMITS TO MAN UTD

Ronaldo will stay with United next season with interim manager Rangnick set to depart, reports AS.

The 37-year-old forward has committed to United, whom he joined in August on a two-year deal with the option for a third season, as he is confident they will show their ambition by making a major appointment with their new permanent manager.

United were eliminated from the Champions League this week by Atletico Madrid and are struggling to reach next season's edition, sitting fifth in the Premier League.

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- Jesse Lingard has been offered to Italian clubs Milan and Roma as he prepares to leave United as a free agent, reports Nicolo Schira. West Ham  and Newcastle United are also interested in the 29-year-old England international.

- Benfica have slapped a £67million price tag on striker  Darwin Nunez , who is being pursued by Manchester United , Arsenal , Liverpool and Newcastle ,   according to The Mirror.

- Foot Mercato reports  Arsenal will enter the race to sign Real Madrid winger  Eden Hazard , with Chelsea previously linked to their former player.

- Fichajes claims  Atletico Madrid are considering a move for Athletic Bilbao head coach Marcelino should Diego Simeone opt to leave the Spanish champions.

Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Manchester United may be coming to a premature end.

The Portuguese forward has struggled since Ralf Rangnick's arrival as interim manager in December.

United are also battling to finish in the Premier League's top four.

TOP STORY - RONALDO COURTS MOVE TO MESSI'S PSG

FootballTransfers claims that Ronaldo has decided that he will leave Manchester United if they do not qualify for the Champions League, with a move to join Lionel Messi at Paris Saint-Germain on his agenda.

Speculation about Ronaldo's future at Old Trafford ramped up after he missed Sunday's Manchester derby due to a hip flexor injury and flew to Portugal.

The report that claims that Ronaldo returning to Juventus has been ruled out, along with his original Portuguese club Sporting CP, with the five-time Ballon d'Or courting a move to Paris.

 

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- Defensa Central reports that Newcastle United have commenced talks with Real Madrid over a move for 31-year-old ex-Chelsea forward Eden Hazard who has had an underwhelming spell with Los Blancos.

- Manchester United's Marcus Rashford has a list of clubs circling for his services with Arsenal, Newcastle and West Ham all interested, according to 90Min.

- The Mail claims that PSG will make a move for Rashford too, should Kylian Mbappe leave the French capital to join Madrid.

- Manchester City and Madrid are in the lead to sign Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland ahead of Bayern Munich and Barcelona claims The Athletic.

- RB Leipzig midfielder Christopher Nkunku is being tracked by Chelsea and Man City according to FootMercato.

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

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

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


TOP STORY – ANCELOTTI A CONTENDER FOR UNITED

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Leeds United are being drawn into the relegation battle, mounting pressure on manager Marcelo Bielsa.

The Whites enjoyed a top-half finish in their return to the Premier League last season but have struggled this term.

Leeds have managed one point from their past six league games, conceding 20 goals in their past five.

TOP STORY – BIELSA EXITS STRUGGLING LEEDS

The Sun claims Marcelo Bielsa has quit as Leeds United manager with ex-RB Leipzig boss Jesse Marsch set to replace him.

Bielsa resigned after Leeds were hammered 4-0 by Tottenham on Saturday, having conceded 14 goals in their past three league games.

The Argentinean's exit from Elland Road is being thrashed out between lawyers, with Fabrizio Romano claiming that Marsch – who left Leipzig in December and previously managed Salzburg and New York Red Bulls – is the favourite to take over.

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- Chelsea have slapped a £50million price tag on goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga who is wanted by Newcastle United, reports the Daily Star. The Blues signed Kepa in 2018 as the most expensive goalkeeper in history.

Manchester United are lining up two young talents according to the Mirror. The Red Devils are set to table bids for PSV's Cody Gakpo and Sporting CP's Joao Palhinha.

Liverpool target Darwin Nunez is interested in joining the Reds according to Football Insider. The 22-year-old Uruguay international is currently with Benfica.

- Mundo Deportivo claims Barcelona are ahead of Bayern Munich in the race to sign Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen.

In 2019 there were murmurings of fan frustration at Wolves after the club allowed a couple of young Portuguese players leave Molineux.

Joao Dias had not made much of an impression in the Midlands, and so his exit to Famalicao – who had just been promoted to the Portuguese Primeira Liga for the first time since the early 1990s – was not a huge shock, but the fact his compatriot Pedro Goncalves went as well did stir some modest disgruntlement.

Granted, Goncalves – who turned 21 just a few days earlier – had never even been on the senior team's bench for a league game, but many of those who watched the club's Under-23s felt there was sure to be a rotational role, at least, up for grabs.

A report by The Athletic last year claimed Wolves allowed Goncalves to depart for a combination of reasons.

For starters, they were apparently unconvinced – despite his obvious talent – there was a role available for the attacking midfielder, given Nuno Espirito Santo at the time played with a fairly set deep-lying midfield and two wingers.

Additionally, it was reportedly felt a loan might not be in Goncalves' best interests because the possibility of a recall offered him a safety net – instead, he was sold for a small initial figure that would be boosted by percentages of his next two transfers fees.

But ahead of Sporting CP's Champions League last-16 clash with Manchester City on Wednesday, it's difficult to not think Wolves dropped the ball with this one.

The move to Famalicao wasn't as random a destination as it might've looked, however. The club's rise from obscurity was influenced massively by 'super agent' Jorge Mendes, who also has an interest in Wolves and Valencia, where Goncalves – or, Pote – initially played youth football prior to his brief stint in England.

Nevertheless, Goncalves quickly established himself at the Primeira Liga newcomers, the talents that were perhaps undervalued at Wolves coming to the fore. He wasted little time before showing his array of skills, from close ball control and deft throughballs, to clever lurking and instinctive finishing – his very first goal against Pacos Ferreira was a fine example of the latter two traits, as he held his run to create space and that ensured the pressure on him was minimal as he buried a rebound from 12 yards.

This Famalicao side had an emphasis on young players, and that youthful vibrancy helped propel them to a sixth-placed finish – Goncalves more than played his part, scoring five times and setting up another five.

Sporting were on the hunt for a replacement for Bruno Fernandes at the end of 2019-20, having seen their talisman and captain depart for Manchester United a few months earlier. Little could they have known the remarkable – bordering on freakish – campaign Goncalves would go on to have after arriving for roughly €5million.

And more importantly than his individual numbers, Goncalves' efforts helped Sporting achieve something even Fernandes couldn't: becoming Portuguese champions. Their Primeira Liga title success last term was their first since 2001-02, finally ending the dominance of their bitter rivals Porto and Benfica, who had won the previous 18 championships between them.

There's little doubt Goncalves was vital in their conquest.

He led the league's scoring charts with 23, only two of those coming from the spot. But what makes that haul even more incredible is the fact his chances (excluding penalties) were only worth 9.98 expected goals (xG). Of course, such form is hardly sustainable over the long term (we'll come to that later), but Goncalves was lethal on an unrivalled scale.

That gave him an xG overperformance of 11.02 – the next best record in that respect in the Primeira Liga was Toni Martinez, who scored seven times from 2.99 xG.

In fact, no one in the top five leagues got near that kind of efficiency. Marcos Llorente boasted the best record over those competitions (8.59 xG overperformance). Of course, Goncalves was playing in a division regarded as being lower in quality, but it still highlights just how abnormal his season was.

Don't get the idea that Goncalves suddenly became a poacher, though. Only one player (Ivo Rodrigues, four) bettered his three goals from outside the area, and he also remained a creative presence.

Sure, his three assists was hardly gobsmacking, but only Jesus Corona (68) and Ryan Gauld (75) laid on more chances than Pote (51), while his 6.8 expected assists (xA) was also the third-highest – the differential between his assists and xA potentially down to poor finishing by team-mates.

His output of six league goals from 17 games this season effectively proves the unsustainability of his productivity last term, but that's not to say he's playing worse – in fact, in many areas he proving even more threatening.

His non-penalty xG per game is up to 0.43 from 0.33, he is laying on more chances (1.9 up from 1.7) and his xA is also up on a per-90-minute basis (0.27 from 0.22).

He missed the dramatic 2-2 draw with Porto at the weekend through injury but has been back in training since, a massive boost to coach Ruben Amorim.

While even he may not be enough to stop the juggernaut that is Manchester City, his presence will certainly make progression a little less implausible.

Porto and Sporting CP played out a 2-2 draw at the Estadio do Dragao on Friday, but wild scenes at the end saw four players shown red cards.

Sergio Conceicao's Porto had come from 2-0 down to level the match and then went close to a 96th-minute winner when a corner almost fell to Pepe to score.

An overhead kick clearance saved the visitors, however, and Pepe went down holding his face.

Sporting's players felt the former Real Madrid man was trying to buy a penalty, despite the final whistle having been blown, and soon numerous players and staff from both teams were squaring up on the pitch, with stewards and the officials attempting to restore calm.

Amid the melee, referee Joao Pinheiro sent off Pepe and Porto team-mate Agustin Marchesín, as well as Sporting duo Joao Palhinha and Bruno Tabata.

Sporting had already seen Sebastian Coates sent off early in the second half for two yellow cards.

After an early Paulinho header, a lovely team move ended with Nuno Santos making it 2-0 after 34 minutes as Sporting played from back to front, Pablo Sarabia eventually squaring for Santos to double Sporting's lead.

Ruben Amorim's side were eager for a win to close the gap in the Primeira Liga title race, but Fabio Vieira pulled a goal back just four minutes after Santos's strike, before a Mehdi Taremi header with 12 minutes remaining levelled things.

Following the late drama, Porto stay six points clear of Sporting at the top of the table and moved 13 ahead of third-placed Benfica, who have played a game fewer than their two rivals.

Benfica have parted company with head coach Jorge Jesus by mutual consent.

The decision follows a 3-0 defeat against rivals Porto in the Taca de Portugal round of 16, with a league clash against the same opponents coming up on Thursday.

Jesus rejoined Benfica in August 2020 but could only guide them to a third-place finish in his first season, with the club failing to secure any silverware for the first time since the 2012-13 campaign.

The team's performance in Europe was particularly disappointing, crashing out of the Champions League in qualifying and then going out of the Europa League in the round of 32.

Jesus leaves with Benfica third once more after 15 games of this season, having won 12, drawn one and lost two to sit four points behind leaders Porto.

Nelson Verissimo has been appointed as caretaker boss until the end of the season, having briefly filled the same position after the departure of Bruno Lage last year.

Porto and Sporting CP face a one-year ban from playing in Europe if they fail to pay outstanding debts by the end of next month.

UEFA on Friday revealed sanctions that have been issued to eight clubs for breaches of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.

Primeira Liga leaders Porto and second-placed Sporting have been fined €300,000 and €250,000 respectively and will not play in the next UEFA club competition they qualify for in one of the next three seasons unless they can prove by January 31, 2022 they have settled "outstanding overdue amounts."

LaLiga side Real Betis have been hit with a €250,000 fine, while CSKA Sofia and CD Santa Clara were both ordered to pay €75,000 and Mons Calpe SC must fork out €15,000.

All of those clubs also face missing out on playing in Europe in either the 2022-23, 2023-24 or 2024-25 season if they qualify, but have not paid what they owe.

FC Astana and CFR 1907 Cluj were fined €150,000 and €200,000 respectively, but were not threatened with a ban.

The newly established First Chamber of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB First Chamber) also found that AEK Athens did not comply with several club licensing and FFP rules.

The Greek club agreed to pay an unconditional financial contribution of €1.5million, while they will also withhold 10 per cent of UEFA prize money they make in the next UEFA club competition they qualify for.

Is Robert Lewandowski's time at Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich coming to an end?

Lewandowski has called Bayern home since arriving from Borussia Dortmund in 2014.

However, the 33-year-old Poland international is reportedly ready for a new challenge.

 

TOP STORY – LEWANDOWSKI SET ON MADRID MOVE

Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski has ordered his agent to finalise a transfer to LaLiga giants Real Madrid, according to Diario AS.

Lewandowski has repeatedly excelled for Bayern, where he has broken numerous records, while he was unfortunate not to win the 2021 Ballon d'Or.

Previously linked with a move to the Premier League, Lewandowski appears to be set on a switch to Madrid, where his former team-mate David Alaba now calls home.

 

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- Tuttosport claims Fiorentina want to sell Dusan Vlahovic abroad but the Serbia international is not interested in Arsenal as he eyes Juventus. Vlahovic has also been linked with Manchester City, Manchester United, Inter, Atletico Madrid, Tottenham and Bayern. It comes as Sky Sport Italia says Fiorentina are close to signing Lille forward Jonathan Ikone.

- Interim United manager Ralf Rangnick will try to convince Erling Haaland to leave Dortmund for Old Trafford, per Bild. Rangnick and Haaland worked together at Salzburg. Haaland is a player in demand amid interest from Madrid, Barcelona, Juve, Bayern, City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain. Since Rangnick's arrival, United have also been linked with RB Leipzig pair Christopher Nkunku and Amadou Haidara, as well as Chelsea forward Timo Werner.

- Record reports Dortmund are keen on Benfica and Uruguay attacker Darwin Nunez amid uncertainty over the future of Haaland.

- Premier League champions City have scouted Bologna and Sweden sensation Mattias Svanberg, according to Nicolo Schira.

Portugal's national health institute, INSA, has reported 13 cases of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 at Belenenses SAD.

B-SAD were forced to face Benfica on Saturday with just nine players - including two goalkeepers - after positive tests for 13 members of the squad.

Benfica went into half-time 7-0 up and B-SAD were forced to forfeit shortly after the restart due to insufficient players as injuries reduced the hosts - who were without any substitutes - to six men.

Among the B-SAD players to miss out was Cafu Phete, who had recently spent time in South Africa - where the Omicron variant was first detected - and it now appears that he and the other 12 members of the squad have tested positive for this new strain of coronavirus. 

"Preliminary tests carried out at INSA strongly suggest that all 13 cases associated with players of Belenenses SAD are linked to the variant of concern Omicron," INSA's statement to Publico read.

"The predictive value of the tests carried out is already very high."

Benfica's players are set to be tested as Portuguese authorities respond to the Omicron variant being found inside the country's borders.

"We'll have more proactive isolation and a more intensive testing of contacts," Graca Freitas - Portugal's Director-General for Health - told TSF. 

Flights into Portugal from Mozambique have now been banned, while two positive cases were discovered among the 218 people to have arrived on the last such flight on Saturday.

Portugal's Primeira Liga was the laughingstock of Europe on Saturday due to the farcical scenes that took place in Benfica's trip to coronavirus-ravaged Belenenses SAD, a game that was ultimately forfeited by the hosts.

B-SAD, a controversial offshoot of historic club Belenenses, were plunged into crisis this week when 13 of their players tested positive for coronavirus – among them was Cafu Phete, who had recently been in South Africa, where the new Omicron variant of the virus was first detected.

Despite the depleted nature of their squad, club president Rui Pedro Soares confirmed earlier in the day they had not asked Benfica to postpone the fixture, seemingly to the dismay of players who published coordinated messages to social media as the match kicked off in Oeiras, Lisbon.

The statement read: "Football only has heart if it is competitive. Football only has heart if it is really sporting. Football only has heart when it is an example of public health. Today, football lost its heart."

B-SAD started the match with just nine players on the pitch, many of whom were members of their Under-23s side, and that included goalkeeper Joao Monteiro playing in defence.

Benfica were ahead inside 24 seconds thanks to an own goal by Eduardo Kau; while the visitors did not score again until the 14th minute, the writing was on the wall.

They were 7-0 up at half-time thanks to a Darwin Nunez hat-trick, Haris Seferovic brace and a solitary Julian Weigl goal.

"What is this? Am I the only one who doesn't understand why the game hasn't been postponed?" asked former Benfica player Bernardo Silva on Twitter.

B-SAD did return to the pitch for the second half but with only seven players, and as soon as the game resumed, the hosts put the ball into touch and another player dropped to the turf citing an injury.

The referee called a halt to the game due to B-SAD running out of players, with teams required to have a minimum of seven on the pitch.

It has not been confirmed whether Benfica will be awarded just a 3-0 win, as is standard for a forfeiture, or take the full 7-0 scoreline.

Luis Diaz's agent says it is "normal" the Porto winger is attracting interest from Europe's heavyweights, amid links to Liverpool and Chelsea.

Since making the switch from Colombian side Junior to Porto in July 2019, Diaz has scored 21 goals, provided nine assists and created 59 chances in Portugal's Primeira Liga.

This season alone, he has nine goals in 11 top-flight appearances to stand top of the scoring charts in Portugal's highest tier.

The 24-year-old has a reported €80million release clause in his contract, with Premier League sides Liverpool and Chelsea reported to be weighing up a move for the Colombia international.

He has also caught the eye in the Champions League this term, scoring against Atletico Madrid and Milan, and will come up against Liverpool in Europe's premier competition next week.

For his representative, Carlos Van Strahalen, such attention is to be expected given his impressive form.

Speaking to Bola Branca, Van Strahalen said: "It's normal. If a player plays well, if he starts to stand out, if the majority considers him the best player in the Portuguese league, if he's the top scorer and is making a high-level Champions League, that interest is normal.

"Can he leave Porto? I don't know."

Could Darwin Nunez be the next Benfica star to make a big move?

Portuguese sensation Joao Felix swapped Benfica for Atletico Madrid in a club-record deal in 2019.

Now, Uruguay international Nunez is attracting interest from across Europe.

 

TOP STORY – CITY FRONT OF QUEUE FOR NUNEZ

Manchester City are leading the race to sign Darwin Nunez from Portuguese giants Benfica, according to the Daily Star.

Premier League champions City are desperate to sign a forward amid links with Tottenham's Harry Kane, Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic.

Nunez has also reportedly attracted interest from BarcelonaLiverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Milan, Inter and Atletico Madrid.

 

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– United forward Edinson Cavani could join Real Madrid in January, claims Mundo Deportivo. It comes as Cavani finds himself battling Cristiano Ronaldo for regular game time at Old Trafford, where the club's hierarchy are concerned amid their form under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

- The Daily Star reports Arsenal are weighing up a move for out-of-favour City forward Raheem SterlingBarca are also believed to be interested in Sterling, according to The Sun, as they face the prospect of missing out on Leipzig's Dani Olmo. The Spain international has been linked with United, Juventus and Bayern.

Liverpool are eyeing Pogon Szczecin midfielder Kacper Kozlowski, says the Mirror. The 17-year-old has been linked with Bayer Leverkusen, Milan, RB Leipzig and Salzburg.

Anthony Martial has reportedly been permitted to explore his options by Manchester United.

Martial has fallen down the pecking order at Old Trafford since Cristiano Ronaldo's return.

France international Martial scored four league goals for United last term, after netting 17 times in the 2019-20 Premier League campaign.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND PLOTS MARTIAL MOVE

Borussia Dortmund are bracing for Erling Haaland's departure by plotting a move for Manchester United forward Anthony Martial, claims 90Min.

Haaland, who has a release clause in his contract that activates in mid-2022, is being chased by a host of top clubs, including Premier League champions Manchester City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Liverpool and United.

Martial is still contracted to the Red Devils until 2024, having penned a five-year deal in January 2019, amid reported interest from Barca, Tottenham and Arsenal.

 

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- The Transfer Window podcast claims City owner Sheikh Mansour wants to hijack Madrid's bid for PSG star Kylian Mbappe and sign him "at any cost". Mbappe has also been linked with United and Liverpool.

- Barcelona are looking at Reims' Spanish head coach Oscar Garcia as a replacement for under-pressure boss Ronald Koeman, per RMC Sport.

- Madrid midfielder Isco has held numerous rounds of negotiations with Serie A challengers Milan about a move to Italy, according to Todo Fichajes.

Barca are considering a move for Porto's Colombia international forward Luis Diaz next off-season, claims El Nacional.

- Diario AS says Theo Hernandez is ready to commit his long-term future to Milan amid interest from PSG and City.

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