Zlatan Ibrahimovic is being investigated by UEFA for "an alleged financial interest in a betting company", European football's governing body has confirmed.

Earlier this month, Swedish publication Aftonbladet claimed Ibrahimovic was potentially in breach of FIFA regulations due to apparent involvement in the Maltese gambling company Bethard.

It was claimed that a business Ibrahimovic owns holds 10 per cent of Bethard's shares, making it their fourth-largest shareholder.

Ibrahimovic's association with Bethard was nothing new, as the former Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain star became their global ambassador in 2018.

But the Aftonbladet report was the first time allegations of a more substantial involvement were brought to light and now UEFA is taking the claims seriously.

A statement issued by UEFA read: "In accordance with Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations (DR), a UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector has today been appointed to conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding a potential violation of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations by Mr. Zlatan Ibrahimovic for having an alleged financial interest in a betting company.

"Further information regarding this matter will be made available in due course."

FIFA's ethics code prohibits the involvement in betting enterprises for players, officials, referees and intermediaries.

It says: "They are forbidden from participating in, either directly or indirectly, betting, gambling, lotteries or similar events or transactions related to football matches or competitions and/or any related football activities.

"They shall not have any interests, either directly or indirectly (through or in conjunction with third parties), in entities, companies, organisations, etc. that promote, broker, arrange or conduct betting, gambling, lotteries or similar events or transactions connected with football matches and competitions;

"'Interests' include gaining any possible advantage for the persons bound by the Code themselves and/or related parties."

If found guilty, Ibrahimovic, 39, faces a ban from all football-related activity for up to three years.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is being investigated by UEFA for "an alleged financial interest in a betting company", European football's governing body has confirmed.

Zinedine Zidane says the idea of Real Madrid being banned from the Champions League for their part in the attempted European Super League breakaway is "absurd".

Madrid were among the 12 founding clubs of the competition that was announced earlier this month, with club president Florentino Perez installed as the Super League's chairman.

But last week, within 48 hours of the plans being confirmed, the six English clubs involved all withdrew, and they were soon followed by Atletico Madrid, Inter and Milan. Juventus remain supportive of the Super League but did acknowledge the collapse of the initial proposal.

Madrid and Barcelona have been defiant since, however, adamant their plans still have merit and are not completely dead.

UEFA is threatening to punish all of the 12, but the English clubs withdrawing early could earn them some leniency, though Zidane is not worried about the idea of Madrid being barred from the Champions League next term.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's semi-final first leg with Chelsea, Zidane said: "You have already asked me about all this and I have already answered.

"It is absurd to think that we will not be in the Champions League. There is a lot of talk from outside. There is going to be a lot of talk, but we don't control it, I just focus on the game.

"But my opinion is that we all want to see Madrid in the Champions League."

It was also put to Zidane that UEFA's stance could potentially be reflected by the officials being harsh on Madrid against Chelsea.

"The referee is going to do his job and we are going to play football," he replied. "We just have to think about that.

"If we start to think that what is being said is going to harm us, we are screwed. We are going to compete from minute one to 90. The rest, we don't get involved in."

The Champions League fixture follows a tricky LaLiga title tussle for Madrid, whose 0-0 draw with Real Betis on Saturday seeing them miss out on going top of the table.

With leaders Atletico losing to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday and Sevilla beating Granada, just three points separate top from fourth in what is shaping up to be the most thrilling title race in years, but Zidane insists Madrid will not be giving one competition priority over the other.

"We are not going to choose. We are alive in both competitions," he added. "We have had a lot of difficulties this year, but we have always been able to lift ourselves.

"There is a month left and we are going to compete until the end. There is no other thought in my head.

"What we want to do is give everything on the field, without thinking that winning will not be possible."

Does a Premier League switch beckon for Raphael Varane?

Varane has starred for Real Madrid, winning LaLiga and Champions League titles.

But Varane could be sacrificed in the Spanish capital, with Chelsea reportedly interested.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA FRONTRUNNERS FOR VARANE

Chelsea are ahead of Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain in the race to sign Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Varane has been linked with a move away from Madrid, who are looking to raise funds as they target PSG star Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

United have reportedly emerged as strong suitors but Chelsea are believed to be at the front of the queue to land the France international.

 

ROUND-UP

- Goal, Sport1 and other outlets report Bayern Munich have opened talks with RB Leipzig to hire head coach Julian Nagelsmann. With Hansi Flick set to depart at season's end, Nagelsmann is wanted in Munich.

Jose Mourinho is ready to return to Inter should Nerazzurri boss Antonio Conte exit, claims Calciomercato. Conte is poised to lead Inter to their first Scudetto since 2009-10, when Mourinho oversaw a treble, but the former Italy coach's future is far from certain. Mourinho is available after he was sacked by Tottenham.

- According to Gol Digital, Atletico Madrid are considering a move for Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta.

Roma are targeting Maurizio Sarri as their next head coach, says Corriere dello Sport. Paulo Fonseca is currently at the helm but he is under pressure in the Italian capital. Roma have reportedly already met with ex-Chelsea, Juventus and Napoli coach Sarri to discuss finer details.

Milan have given star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma one month to decide on a contract extension, reports Tuttosport. Donnarumma is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and the Italy international is yet to re-sign. The likes of United, Chelsea, Juventus, PSG and Madrid have been linked. Milan are reportedly eyeing Lille's Mike Maignan as a possible replacement.

- Bild claims Arsenal are lining up a move for Dortmund's Julian Brandt as a replacement for loanee Martin Odegaard, who is attracting interest from elsewhere. Brandt could be one of many Dortmund players to leave in the off-season as clubs circle Haaland, including Manchester City, Liverpool, Barcelona, United, Chelsea, PSG and Bayern.

Antonio Conte believes the Serie A title is "95 per cent" decided after Inter's slender 1-0 win over Hellas Verona on Sunday. 

The Nerrazzuri were far from their fluid best at San Siro, but sealed a 13th consecutive home league win for the second time in their history thanks to Matteo Darmian's goal 14 minutes from full-time. 

The result moved Inter 13 points clear at the top of the table with five games remaining, although neighbours Milan can scale that back to 10 with victory over Lazio on Monday. 

Conte is in no doubt his side will wrap up a first Scudetto since the 2009-10 season, but acknowledged some of his players have been feeling the pressure of the situation. 

"The ball is heavier now, many players have never lived this situation and it's undeniable a few players have been affected by this," Conte told DAZN.

"We played two good games against Napoli and Spezia [they drew both 1-1]. They said we had stopped ourselves, but it wasn't this like that.

"Managing to win this season makes these footballers become winners. Never forget the others are dropping points. We have been consistent. 

"Sometimes we suffer a little bit more, but we are keeping our foot on the gas pedal."

Conte sprinted to celebrate with his players after Darmian's goal and said he was motivated by the Serie A title being within touching distance. 

"It's easy to explain. In that run, I see 95 per cent of the Scudetto," he added. 

"I think it was an important win. We haven't won it yet, but it was important to win against a team that can create trouble; a very physical team that had nothing to lose.

"We've worked a lot over the last two seasons. As I said many times, Inter haven't been competitive for a long time. We tried [to win] last season. This term, we are close, but we need to work both on a mental and a footballing level.

"Sometimes I am heavy, but I found few people who can be both winners and light hearted. The path is extremely complicated. It takes hard work and sacrifice."

Inter limited Verona to just a solitary shot on target as they stretched their unbeaten Serie A home record against Ivan Juric's side to a club record 30 games, surpassing their 29-match unbeaten against Palermo. 

Conte highlighted the contribution of Stefan de Vrij, Alessandro Bastoni and Milan Skriniar, comparing them to the heralded triumvirate of Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgino Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli, who he coached at Juventus. 

"When, in my first year at Juventus, I coached Barzagli, Bonucci and Chiellini, they were young, and they had won nothing before," he said. 

"We have begun a new project here, and I can see many similarities with De Vrij, Bastoni and Skriniar.

"If we win this season, they will begin a path where the Scudetto can bring more self-esteem. Never forget, Bonucci, Chiellini and Barzagli were virgins in terms of victories when I arrived.

"At Chelsea, it was different. Some players had already won, they had more experience."

Antonio Pirlo does not believe his bosses are happy with his efforts after Juventus were held to a 1-1 Serie A draw at Fiorentina.

Dusan Vlahovic gave the relegation-threatened Viola a deserved first-half lead from the penalty spot at Stadio Artemio Franchi on Sunday after Adrien Rabiot handled in the area.

Bianconeri head coach Pirlo reacted to a lacklustre display in the opening 45 minutes by replacing Leonardo Bonucci and Paulo Dybala with Alvaro Morata and Dejan Kulusevski, changing the formation after starting with three at the back.

Morata made an instant impact, equalising with a sublime left-foot finish just 31 seconds after coming on, but the champions failed to go on and secure three precious points.

Juve sporting director Fabio Paratici stated ahead of the game that Pirlo's job would be safe if they finished in the top four, but fifth-placed Napoli can join them on 66 points with five games to play by beating Torino on Monday.

Pirlo says he is learning on the job but knows he has fallen short of expectations in his first season at the helm.

He told Sky Italia: "The initial expectations [when he took charge] were different and I don't think I did the job as intended.

"Every game that passes you learn something but I'm not happy and I don't think the club is either."

Morata's sublime strike was Juve's only shot on target and Pirlo says their first-half performance was not good enough.

"There was a very bad first half that had to be faced in a different way. It was fundamental for the Champions League race. In the second half we were better." said the former Italy playmaker.

"We decided to put Morata on to change pace and that happened. We had to deal with it in another way. The three-man defence didn't go well, we had tried one thing and another happened. We changed it and it was better."

Alvaro Morata scored just 31 seconds after coming on as a substitute but Champions League hopefuls Juventus had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Fiorentina.

Dusan Vlahovic scored his 17th Serie A goal of the season with a first-half penalty to put the relegation-threatened Viola in front at Stadio Artemio Franchi, after Adrien Rabiot handled in the area.

Juve boss Andrea Pirlo made a double substitution at the break and it was Morata, one of the two introduced, who levelled with a stunning strike in the first minute of the second half.

The reigning champions were unable to secure a Sunday afternoon victory that would have moved them into second place and fifth-placed Napoli had the chance to join them on 66 points if they beat Torino on Monday.

Fiorentina made a promising start and Wojciech Szczesny raced out sharply to deny number Vlahovic after Franck Ribery played the striker in.

Juve had a huge stroke of luck when a deflected long-range drive from Erick Pulgar struck the post and bounced into the arms of Szczesny, but Vlahovic gave the Viola a deserved lead just before the half-hour mark.

Referee Davide Massa pointed to the spot following a check on the pitchside monitor, with the ball having struck Rabiot's arm as he jumped to try and head clear, and Vlahovic made the midfielder pay with a cheeky 'Panenka' penalty.

Aaron Ramsey missed a good opportunity to equalise late in the first half when Fiorentina were opened up by a slick move and the Wales international poked wide at full stretch with only Bartlomiej Dragowski to beat.

Pirlo reverted from a three-man defensive set-up to a back four for the second half, with Morata replacing Leonardo Bonucci and Dejan Kulusevski on for Paulo Dybala.

Morata made an instant impact, getting on the end of a ball down the right channel and cutting inside sharply before picking out the far corner of the net with a sublime left-footed finish.

Juve looked a different side after the break and Nikola Milenkovic nodded clear to prevent Cristiano Ronaldo from tapping in Giorgio Chiellini's header across goal.

Ronaldo failed to head home a brilliant cross from Kulusevski six minutes from time as Juve dropped points in the battle for a top-four finish.

Inter took another significant stride towards a first Serie A title since 2009-10 after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Hellas Verona at San Siro on Sunday. 

The result means Antonio Conte's side are 13 points clear at the league summit, although that could be scaled back to 10 if Milan overcome Lazio on Monday. 

Inter struggled for long periods against Verona, but sealed a 13th consecutive Serie A home win for just the second time in their history 14 minutes from full-time courtesy of substitute Matteo Darmian. 

The wing-back powered forward, collected Achraf Hakimi's pass and slotted past Marco Silvestri from 10 yards to help his side return to winning ways after two draws in the top flight.

Inter started sluggishly and could have fallen behind shortly after the midway point of the first half.

Samir Handanovic got down well to keep out Daniel Bessa's initial effort before Federico Dimarco dragged his follow-up strike narrowly wide with the goal at his mercy.

The hosts rarely looked like scoring during a tepid opening 45 minutes and went in at the break having had just a solitary shot on target.

Lautaro Martinez was denied by Silvestri shortly after the hour as Inter continued to struggle following the restart.

Hakimi went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock after 69 minutes but his superb 25-yard free-kick crashed against Silvestri's left-hand post.

With Martinez and Romelu Lukaku misfiring, it was left to Darmian to snatch three points, the former Manchester United man showing superb composure to slot home his third league goal of the season in the 76th minute.

Andrea Pirlo has been assured by sporting director Fabio Paratici that his job as Juventus head coach is safe should the Italian giants qualify for next season's Champions League.

The rookie boss succeeded Maurizio Sarri as Juve boss last August - his first managerial position - but his future has been called into question numerous times in recent weeks.

Juve have endured a difficult first campaign under the iconic former midfielder, with their nine-year grip on the Scudetto soon to be officially ended by runaway leaders Inter.

The Bianconeri entered Sunday's clash with Fiorentina fourth in the Serie A standings, just two points above fifth-placed Napoli and with games against Milan and Inter still to come.

Despite being on the verge of missing out on the title for the first time since 2011, though, Paratici vowed to stand by Pirlo if Juve finish in the top four and earn a place in UEFA's elite club competition.

Asked if qualifying for the Champions League would be enough to keep Pirlo in the job, Paratici told Sky Sport Italia: "Yes, definitely.

"But we are not even thinking about the possibility of not qualifying for the Champions League."

Juventus beat Parma 3-1 last time out in a match dominated pre-match by talk of the club's involvement in the controversial Super League.

The Italian giants were one of 12 leading European clubs to announce last Sunday they intended to form a breakaway, closed-shop competition.

The majority of the teams involved withdrew their support 48 hours later amid widespread condemnation and protests, but Juve - whose chairman Andrea Agnelli was one of the major players in the proposals - have not yet done so.

Despite the threat of sanctions by UEFA and Lega Serie A officials, Paratici insisted the club have done nothing wrong.

"We are very calm because we know that we acted with the utmost clarity, so none of this concerns us," he said. 

"I see [Agnelli] every day. He is working and planning for the future. I know how much he cares about the good of football and of Juventus.

"The rather violent reactions after the announcement of the Super League distracted attention from the causes and the reasons why these proposals were made.

"Some things said are simply not true, such as that it was a closed league, or that anyone considered leaving their domestic leagues."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been ruled out of Milan's clash with Lazio, but head coach Stefano Pioli is confident fit-again Mario Mandzukic is ready to step up and fill the void.

Sweden international Ibrahimovic sat out Wednesday's 2-1 home loss to Sassuolo with a muscular problem and is not ready to return for Monday's Serie A trip to Stadio Olimpico.

The 39-year-old, who this week signed another 12-month extension with Milan, also missed the recent win against Genoa through suspension.

Rafael Leao filled in for Ibrahimovic in those two matches, but Mandzukic - a second-half substitute in both games - is in line for a first league start since joining in January after shaking off an injury issue of his own.

"Ibrahimovic is better but he won't be there tomorrow. He should be back for the following match," Pioli said at a pre-match news conference on Sunday. 

"Mandzukic and Leao will play for the place tomorrow. Mario is feeling better and has the characteristics to give himself the right contribution in the opposition box."

Former Juventus striker Mandzukic has featured seven times in total for Milan, his only start coming in the 2-2 Europa League last-32 first leg with Red Star Belgrade in February.

He has yet to score, assist or create a chance across his 119 minutes of Serie A action for the Rossoneri and has managed just three four shots, three of those on target.

Rafael Leao has played double the number of league games over that same period of time, scoring one, assisting one and creating nine chances.

The versatile Portuguese forward can play right across the frontline, but Pioli is not yet sure where he will be used in the long term.

"The Leao project continues regardless of his role," Pioli said. "It only goes to show his maturity and willingness to grow, which is normal for such a young player.

"It is difficult to establish what Rafael's final role will be. The growth of a player allows you to find a job and a position. 

"The important thing is he continues to grow and we will continue to evaluate the position along the way."

Milan have an identical league record with and without Ibrahimovic in their side this season (W10 D3 L3), and they average 1.9 goals with him in the side compared to 1.8 without.

Since rejoining the club at the start of 2020, Ibrahimovic has scored 25 goals in 35 Serie A appearances - only Luis Muriel (26), Romelu Lukaku (32), Ciro Immobile (36) and Cristiano Ronaldo (46) have found the net more often across that period.

Meanwhile, his scoring rate of 108.24 minutes per goal is bettered only by Ronaldo (88.41) and Muriel (64.42) among players to have scored at least 10 times.

"Ibra has raised the level of quality and personality, his charisma has helped everyone to grow," Pioli said following confirmation of Ibrahimovic's new contract on Saturday.

"His teammates have been good at following this path and having a growth with great constancy and will. 

"We have all grown and have become a team of a higher level. Everyone has given their contribution."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has made clear the 12 European Super League clubs must face the consequences for their involvement in the planned breakaway competition.

Less than 48 hours after the official announcement of the tournament, and following a huge public backlash to the plan, the 'big six' from the Premier League – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – all ended their involvement.

Ceferin has praised the English clubs for a willingness to admit they made a mistake, but that will not mean they avoid punishment – albeit it is unclear yet what action the governing body will take.

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, the UEFA chief revealed how he has placed the teams in different tiers while comparing Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid to those who believe Earth is flat, with that trio still remaining aligned to the initial proposal.

"Everyone has to take consequences for what they did and we cannot pretend nothing happened," Ceferin told the newspaper.

"You cannot do something like that and just say: 'I've been punished because everybody hates me'. They don't have problems because of anyone else but themselves. It's not okay what they did and we will see in next few days what we have to do.

"But for me it's a clear difference between the English clubs and the other six. They pulled out first, they admitted they made a mistake. You have to have some greatness to say: 'I was wrong'.

"For me there are three groups of this 12 — the English six, who went out first, then the other three [Atletico Madrid, Inter and Milan] after them and then the ones who feel that Earth is flat and they think the Super League still exists. And there is a big difference between those.

"But everyone will be held responsible. In what way, we will see. I don't want to say disciplinary process but it has to be clear that everyone has to be held responsible in a different way.

"Is it disciplinary? Is it the decision of the executive committee? We will see. It's too early to say."

There was widespread condemnation of the Super League from fans, governing bodies and former players alike, leading to financial backers JP Morgan to admit they "misjudged how the deal would be viewed by the wider football community".

UEFA announced changes to the Champions League format on Monday, including an increase from 32 to 36 clubs as the current group stage system is to be shelved in favour of a single league.

Clubs will get to play four extra matches per season, with the top eight in the final table advancing through to the last 16. Those placed between ninth and 24th will enter a play-off round to decide who else will qualify for the knockout stages, while those 25th and lower are eliminated and do not enter the Europa League.

The radical reforms to the competition are scheduled to come into place for the 2024-25 season.

Speculation is beginning to grow around the vacant Tottenham coaching position after Jose Mourinho's exit last week.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is on the hunt as Spurs try to return to England's top echelon.

Spurs appear set to miss out on Champions League football for the second straight season.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS PLOT RODGERS SWOOP

Tottenham are planning a move to recruit Brendan Rodgers from Leicester City as their new head coach this off-season according to The Sun.

Levy is a long-time admirer of the former Liverpool coach although he reportedly needs to convince his fellow Spurs board executives after disparaging comments Rodgers made about the club years ago.

Rodgers has been in charge of Leicester since 2019 with the Foxes firmly in the hunt for a top four finish this term.

 

ROUND-UP

- Borussia Monchengladbach forward Alassane Plea is being tracked by Premier League pair Arsenal and Manchester United claims the Mail.

- Inter Milan are interested in outgoing Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero, but Barcelona remain favourites to land him reports Tuttosport.

- The Sun reports Manchester United could make a surprise move for 35-year-old goalkeeper Tom Heaton who spent time with the club as a youngster and is currently back-up at Aston Villa.

- Ajax are ready to sell full-back Nicolas Tagliafico as his admirers circle, including Leeds United, Inter Milan and Manchester City according to the Mail.

Andrea Pirlo came out bullish when asked about the European Super League, insisting that Juventus are not scared of possible UEFA sanctions.

Juve were one of 12 leading European clubs to announce their intention to form a breakaway, closed-shop competition.

The news caused anger and furore across the continent, with all six English clubs involved electing to withdraw on Tuesday amid mounting pressure from fans, the media, politicians and governing bodies.

Despite the majority of the 12 clubs having pulled out, Juve – whose chairman Andrea Agnelli was one of the major players in the proposals – have not yet done so, while Barcelona and Real Madrid have also stayed in.

Madrid president Florentino Perez has been on the defensive all week, and as recently as Saturday told AS that the Super League teams were giving themselves time to reflect on the proposal.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has again reiterated that if Juve, Barca and Madrid fail to withdraw, then they could face suspension from the Champions League.

However, when asked if Juve were afraid of UEFA's threats, Pirlo – who was previewing Sunday's Serie A meeting with Fiorentina – replied: "We are not scared, we are comfortable that we can end the season pursuing our own objectives. We are okay regardless of the decisions UEFA will make."

Of Agnelli, Pirlo added: "I saw him as being serene. I believe it is normal many people talk about him, but he knows what he has to do and always encourages the team when he visits us during the training sessions. 

"The environment now is positive. We want to finish the season in the best way. After losing the title and the Champions League, our main target is to get a spot in Champions League.

"This is a must. We must be calm, but we must be fully focused for our ultimate objective."

One player certain to be crucial to Juve securing Champions League football is Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 36-year-old has scored 25 times in Serie A this term, while he has netted three goals against Fiorentina during his time with Juve – all of them coming from the spot.

"For me this is the first year [managing Ronaldo], I have a great relationship with him," Pirlo said when asked if it was difficult to handle Ronaldo's ego.

"He is a player who always wants to do well, he gets angry even when he loses minor games.

"When someone always wants to be at his best, I believe it is normal to have these kinds of attitudes. He always wants to win and is keen to help the team at all the time. This is a very positive side of him."

Florentino Perez says the clubs who claimed this week to have abandoned the European Super League remain contractually tied to the project.

The Real Madrid president, who has been a driving force and staunch defender of the controversial breakaway, says those that signed up "can't leave", even if they say they have quit the league.

Twelve teams declared last Sunday that they had committed to the Super League, but on Tuesday all six Premier League clubs announced they had quit. Inter and Atletico Madrid soon followed, Milan may also withdraw, while Juventus remain advocates of the league but have acknowledged its collapse.

Real Madrid and Barcelona very much remain, but for all the merits of Clasico clashes, they need other clubs to firmly commit.

Perez was asked in an interview with Spanish newspaper AS whether it was true that clubs would have to buy themselves out of binding contracts.

He said: "I'm not going to take my time to explain what a binding contract is here. But the fact is, the clubs can't leave.

"Some, because of the pressure, have had to say they'll leave. But this project, or something very similar, will happen, and I hope it's in the near future."

Supporters, players, coaches, politicians and even royalty have come out in opposition of the plans, with the 'closed-shop' nature of the Super League, whereby the 12 founding clubs would be guaranteed continuing membership, being criticised as an anti-competitive concept.

UEFA and FIFA, the long-time governing bodies of the European and world game, have been scathing and pointed to the possibility of punishments being imposed on the clubs involved.

Perez vowed the Super League has not yet been killed off and is merely a sleeping project, poised to be resurrected.

"The entity exists and the members who make up the Super League are there too," he said.

"What we've done is given ourselves a few weeks to reflect on the hostility with which certain people who don't want to lose their privileges have manipulated the project."

He said financial backers JP Morgan remain involved, despite the investment banking firm stating it "clearly misjudged" the depth of feeling that would be stirred in the football community by the league.

"They've taken time to reflect, like the 12 clubs," Perez said. "If something needs to be changed, it'll be changed, but the Super League is the best project we've thought can be carried out."

Perez said he was baffled by UEFA's Champions League expansion plans, announced on Monday, which will see 36 teams rather than the current 32 compete from the 2024-25 season, each guaranteed at least 10 games per season, and he said the start date was too far away.

Madrid, Barcelona and all major European clubs have been hit heavily financially by the COVID-19 crisis, with major revenue streams such as matchday income cut off.

Perez said there was a danger that "all the clubs go bankrupt" unless there is immediate action.

Is Ibrahima Konate bound for Anfield?

The 21-year-old defender has caught the eye of both Liverpool and Manchester United.

But, the Merseyside club appear set to win the race for his signature.

 

TOP STORY – KONATE HEADING TO ANFIELD

Liverpool have agreed a deal to sign Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig, according to the Guardian.

Konate had also been linked with Premier League rivals Manchester United, who are eyeing a new centre-back at Old Trafford.

But Liverpool have reportedly agreed a five-year contract with Konate, who has a €35million (£30.5m) release clause.

 

ROUND-UP

- The front page of Saturday's Mundo Deportivo reports Barcelona want to offer a new and improved contract to teenage sensation Ansu Fati, which would keep him at Camp Nou until 2026. The 18-year-old, previously linked to United, until at least 2022, with the option to extend it by a further two years.

- What does the future hold for Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma? The 22-year-old Italy star's contract is set to expire at the end of the season and he is yet to re-sign at San Siro amid links with United, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Real Madrid. While Milan remain hopeful of keeping Donnarumma, Calciomercato says they have begun conversations with Lille's Mike Maignan.

Milan, Inter and Roma are eyeing Torino captain and star forward Andrea Belotti, claims Calciomercato.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Manchester City are set to sign Metinho in the same deal with Fluminense team-mate Kayky.

Madrid remain optimistic about the possibility of signing Kylian Mbappe from PSG, according to Le Parisien. Mbappe has been tipped to join Los Blancos, who have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

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