Antonio Rudiger said the sanctions placed on Chelsea by the UK government were not the reason behind his decision to leave the club.

Germany defender Rudiger has been a crucial player for Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea but has not agreed to a new contract.

The former Roma centre-back will therefore leave at the end of the season on a free transfer, with Real Madrid his likely destination.

Rudiger has helped Chelsea to four FA Cup finals, winning one, and a Champions League success since joining in 2017. The UEFA Super Cup, Europa League and FIFA Club World Cup are also included in his honours.

When confirming that Rudiger had asked to leave Chelsea in April, Tuchel suggested that the sanctions placed on the club's owner Roman Abramovic in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine meant the Blues were unable to match the 29-year-old's financial demands.

Rudiger, however, insisted that the sanctions had no impact on his decision.

"I don’t want to go too deep into things," he told reporters at Wembley on Saturday, after Chelsea lost 6-5 on penalties to Liverpool in the FA Cup final, their third consecutive defeat in the competition's showpiece.

"There was a chance but sanctions were not the problem.

"It’s been five years with ups and downs as normal. There were a lot of positive things, but that's why I'm even more frustrated because I wanted to have a different ending.

"It's about both sides. Chelsea have been great to me and I have been great for Chelsea. I am very, very thankful, both me and my family.

"I became a man here. My kids were born here and everything. London, and especially Chelsea, will always be special to me."

Chelsea have become the first side since Newcastle United (1974, 1998 and 1999) to lose on three consecutive FA Cup final appearances, while the Blues are the first team since Middlesbrough in 1996-97 to lose both of England's domestic cup finals in the same campaign, after their penalty shoot-out loss to Liverpool in the EFL Cup final in February.

"I think it was a good game just like the EFL Cup final. We had chances, they had chances," reflected Rudiger.

"But at the end of the day we know that penalties are always a lottery and we lost.

"It's about winning, it's not about next season. The game was about today and it was there to take. Unfortunately we didn't win.

"It's always difficult to say whether we are lucky or unlucky. For myself it's the third time [I have lost an FA Cup final] so you can't always say unlucky, unlucky, unlucky."

Rudiger has two games left before he leaves Chelsea, with the Blues hosting Leicester City on Thursday before closing out their season against Watford.

Despite wrapping up their 35th LaLiga title and retaining a chance of winning the Champions League this term, Real Madrid find themselves at something of a crossroads.

The individual brilliance of Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior may have fired Los Blancos to a dominant triumph in LaLiga, but attention will soon turn to Madrid's attempts to defend the title for the first time since 2007-08.

With the potential arrival of a true global superstar and one of the Premier League's best defenders, as well as the matter of refreshing a brilliant but ageing midfield, it promises to be an interesting few months at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Here, Stats Perform analyses what Carlo Ancelotti's men could do to fend off the potential challenge of an improved Barcelona next season.

 

The Mbappe conundrum: How would the superstar fit in?

For months, if not years, Real Madrid's plans for 2022 seem to have revolved around one name: Kylian Mbappe.

While recent reports have suggested the 23-year-old could yet remain at the Parc des Princes, a move for the talismanic attacker – who will be a free agent in June – cannot yet be ruled out.

Having scored 35 goals and provided 19 assists in 43 appearances in all competitions for Paris Saint-Germain, Mbappe would clearly be an asset to any team in European football, but the question remains as to how Mbappe will complement another free-scoring Frenchman in the Spanish capital.

Benzema has become just the fifth Madrid player in history to score 40+ goals in a single season for the club (after Cristiano Ronaldo, Ferenc Puskas, Alfredo Di Stefano and Hugo Sanchez), and is being touted for the Ballon d'Or after driving Madrid's Champions League run. Benzema has scored 14 goals in 10 European appearances this term, averaging a goal every 65.1 minutes in a stunning campaign.

Mbappe and Benzema are no strangers to playing together, but the PSG forward failed to score and only provided one assist when doing so during France's disappointing Euro 2020 campaign. The Madrid man, meanwhile, finished just one goal short of the golden boot after netting four times.

Matters are complicated further when taking into account the form of Vinicius, who has formed a lethal partnership with Benzema this season, registering 33 goal involvements of his own in all competitions (18 goals, 15 assists), and Mbappe's preference to play from the left could infringe on Vinicius. 

However, Mbappe's development into a more well-rounded attacking talent should ensure he at least provides a threat, whichever flank he starts from. 

As well as improving on his 11 assists from last season, Mbappe has completed more dribbles (138) at a higher success rate (50.74 per cent) than Vinicius this term (130, 41.4 per cent), and could join him in playing a more creative role supporting Benzema.

Upgrading in defence: The arrival of Antonio Rudiger

Having announced his intention to leave Chelsea at the end of his contract, Antonio Rudiger is another player strongly linked with a move to the Bernabeu ahead of next season.

The German defender has been one of the Blues' outstanding players under Thomas Tuchel, starring in their Champions League triumph last year and enjoying another fine campaign this season.

Rudiger has been a key component in the Premier League's third-best defence this season, with Chelsea keeping 15 clean sheets and conceding just 28 goals despite falling out of title contention after a promising start.

The 29-year-old appears to be an upgrade on Madrid's current defensive options after last year's departures of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, offering more physicality than David Alaba and greater defensive steel than Eder Militao, a partnership that was frequently exposed by Manchester City recently.

Rudiger would also offer a threat at the other end of the pitch, with his three league goals this season bettered by just one other Premier League centre-back (Jan Bednarek, four), and his ability to step out of defence was on display when he scored a 39-yard stunner against Brentford in early April – Chelsea's longest-range Premier League goal since January 2007

However, Rudiger has been accustomed to playing in a back three at Chelsea and would be most likely to play as a right-sided centre-back in a back four for Madrid, unless Ancelotti opts to shift Alaba to left-back.

Rudiger would likely have to curb his attacking enthusiasm if paired with the naturally forward-thinking Alaba, but he appears a smart choice to further solidify a defence that has been the second-strongest in LaLiga this term (only Sevilla have conceded fewer goals).

The case for Camavinga: Time to look to the future?

The midfield trio of Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric will go down in Madrid history: they started together in three consecutive Champions League final wins between 2016 and 2018, with the Croatian also starring in 2014's victory.

Nobody can question their quality or longevity. All three have made at least 35 starts this season, while Modric in particular has produced several sumptuous contributions in big games that have helped him to an assist haul of nine, six more than any other Madrid midfielder.

 

However, given they occasionally appear to lack a certain dynamism when out of possession, could Madrid benefit from some extra mobility in the engine room?

The signing of Eduardo Camavinga, who has made 35 appearances this term, was clearly made with such a move in mind, but the French youngster has only started 14 times in all competitions and would benefit from more playing time next season as he looks to improve his all-round game.

However, neither Camavinga nor Federico Valverde possess the kind of metronomic abilities of Modric or Kroos, and the younger pair also average fewer passes into the final third per 90 minutes than their more experienced peers (6.25 and 6.1, respectively).

As such, with the rumoured arrivals of Mbappe and Rudiger involving no transfer fees, Madrid could yet benefit from dipping into the market to acquire another young, progressive midfielder in a move that might also help to prolong the excellence of Modric and Kroos.

Jorginho says Antonio Rudiger will be a big loss for Chelsea as Real Madrid reportedly close in on a deal for the centre-back.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel revealed following Sunday's late win over West Ham that Rudiger intends to leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Tuchel suggested that Rudiger's decision was influenced by the financial restrictions imposed on Chelsea while a new owner to succeed Roman Abramovich is being sought.

According to widespread reports on Tuesday, Madrid have had no such problem agreeing terms with Rudiger and an announcement is expected to be made imminently.

The Germany international has spent five seasons at Stamford Bridge and Jorginho admits his team-mate's absence will be felt both on the pitch and off it.

"He's been here a long time so if he leaves then we're going to miss him," he told Sky Sports News. "He's a big personality and he's helped us a lot. 

"We've had amazing times here; he's a good friend of mine and of course if he leaves everyone at the club will miss him, not just me."

Asked what he will miss the most about Rudiger, Jorginho said: "His craziness. He makes me laugh a lot; all of his jokes and laughs we've had together – that's the nice part."

Rudiger has started 47 games this season, which is five more than any other Chelsea player, with Jorginho sixth on that list (42 appearances).

 

Indeed, no player from a club in Europe's top five leagues has started more matches in 2021-22 when taking all competitions into account.

Rudiger played no part in Chelsea's victory over West Ham last time out, however, a game in which Jorginho missed a penalty before Christian Pulisic snatched a late victory.

Jorginho was criticised for his spot-kick style after sending his effort straight at goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, but the midfielder suggested VAR was partly to blame for the miss.

"This sort of pressure, especially in games like this when you need to win and it's last minute, you try to isolate your mind from all that pressure even though it's hard," he said. 

"Then you have the VAR so it takes longer, it's harder to keep focus. 

"What you need to do and what I try to do is I try to isolate my mind of all this pressure, and unfortunately this time it didn't work."

Prior to his penalty miss against West Ham, Jorginho had converted each of his last 13 for Chelsea (excluding shoot-outs) in a run stretching back to Boxing Day 2020.

"When you have that little moment of doubt that's usually when you make the mistake," the Italy international added. "Maybe I had too much time to think about it, I don't know.

"This time it went like that and I'm sorry. I feel bad because it's not a nice feeling."

Riyad Mahrez could reportedly be sold by Manchester City in the upcoming transfer window, and some of the world's biggest clubs are said to be targeting the Algerian.

Mahrez, 31, has won the Premier League on three occasions, including once with Leicester City, and will make it four this season if Pep Guardiola's team can hold on.

After 38 Premier League goals for Mahrez over four campaigns with City, he could be facing a new challenge next season.


TOP STORY – MAHREZ MOVE TO MAKE WAY FOR HAALAND

Fichajes.net is reporting that Mahrez is one of the players City could part ways with to help fund the purchase of Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

The report names Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus as the three most likely landing spots.

Mahrez has scored 23 goals and dished out eight assists in 42 appearances across all club competitions this season.


ROUND-UP

Real Madrid are said to be closing in on a deal to sign Chelsea centre-back Antonio Rudiger on a free transfer. The Guardian is reporting his contract will be worth at least £200,000 per week.

– The Telegraph is reporting Manchester City are interested in making a move for West Ham's Declan Rice.

– According to Marca, Real Madrid remain favourites to land Kylian Mbappe when he is expected to leave Paris Saint-Germain in the next transfer window, but he will not make an official announcement until after the last game of his Ligue 1 season on May 21.

– Sky Sports News is reporting that Lionel Messi will remain at Paris Saint-Germain for at least one more season but that the French giants could consider letting Neymar move on.

– Barcelona would be willing to sell Frenkie de Jong for £58million, with Manchester United reportedly interested in bringing in the Dutch midfielder, according to El Chiringuito.

Barcelona director Mateu Alemany has confirmed holding talks with Antonio Rudiger's agent, but insists the Chelsea defender's future was not discussed during the meeting.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel revealed following Sunday's late win over West Ham that Rudiger intends to leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Tuchel suggested that Rudiger's decision was influenced by the financial restrictions imposed on Chelsea while a new owner to succeed Roman Abramovich is being sought.

Barcelona are one of a number of teams to have been linked with the Germany international, along with fierce rivals Real Madrid, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

Speaking ahead of Barca's home LaLiga clash with Rayo Vallecano later on Sunday, Alemany was probed about his side's reported interest in the centre-back.

"We had a meeting with his agent, but he also represents other players," Alemany told Movistar. 

"We didn't talk about his situation, but about many other things because his agent represents many players. It's the house rule not to talk about players from other clubs."

Barca have had to contend with financial limitation of their own, yet they were still able to sign Ferran Torres, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Dani Alves and Adama Traore in January.

And the Catalan giants, who will end 2021-22 trophyless, are expected to be busy in the upcoming transfer window.

"We already have advanced ideas," Alemany said. "We will make a collective evaluation when the league ends or when our position is definitively set.

"Last summer was complicated as we were blocked at the 'fair play' level. Now we are satisfied with the coaching staff and we intend to make a leap in quality. 

"Our desire is to make a competitive team for next year."

Karim Benzema's extra-time goal put Real Madrid into the Champions League semi-finals despite a 3-2 defeat to holders Chelsea on Tuesday.

Goals from Mason Mount, Antonio Rudiger and Timo Werner overturned Real Madrid’s 3-1 advantage from the first leg last week, but Rodrygo’s sublime volley forced the tie into extra time.

Benzema, who scored a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge, had the final say, though, thundering home a header six minutes into extra time to seal a 5-4 aggregate victory. 

Carlo Ancelotti's side will now face either Atletico Madrid or Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola’s side holding a 1-0 lead from the first leg.

Chelsea's strong start was rewarded in the 15th minute when Mount curled past Thibaut Courtois from just inside the penalty area after latching onto Werner's nudged ball forward.

Madrid struggled to break Chelsea's stubborn backline down in the first half, with Ancelotti's men going in at the break without a shot on target to their name. 

Chelsea levelled the tie on aggregate six minutes into the second half, Rudiger planting a powerful header past Courtois from Mount's cross. 

Alonso thought he had edged Chelsea in front 11 minutes later when he thumped into the top corner from eight yards, yet his effort was ruled out for handball following a VAR check. 

Benzema crashed a header against the crossbar soon after, before Werner put Chelsea ahead on aggregate in the 75th minute with a strike that proved too hot for Courtois to handle. 

Madrid clawed their way back into the tie with 10 minutes remaining, though, as Rodrygo, who had only been on the pitch for two minutes, steered a superb volley past Edouard Mendy from Luka Modric's breathtaking cross. 

That set the stage for Benzema's decisive goal in additional time, the France international heading past Mendy from 10 yards out following fine work down the left by Vinicius Junior. 

 

Chelsea's midfield targets in the upcoming transfer window have left a potential opening for Real Madrid in pursuit of N'Golo Kante.

The France international reportedly knocked back a move to Paris Saint-Germain in the January window, but midfield rejuvenation is a priority for Madrid.

While Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos have been mainstays in the middle at the Santiago Bernabeu, Kante would bring new energy to the Spanish giants.

TOP STORY – KANTE LINED UP AS REAL MADRID SOLUTION

The transfer market domino effect could lead Kante to Madrid, AS has reported.

While both Madrid and Chelsea are in the race to sign Aurelien Tchouameni, the Blues also have an interest in Declan Rice, which could open up the possibility of Kante leaving.

The 31-year-old is coming into the final year of his contract, leaving Madrid with potential leverage to force Chelsea's hand.

While Kante has seen extensive time on the sidelines this season, missing game time through a combination of COVID-19, groin and knee troubles, he could be Madrid's top target if they fail to land Tchouameni.

ROUND-UP

– Barcelona are keen to sign 30-year-old Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season, Sport reports.

– Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is confident the club will be able to keep Antonio Rudiger alongside Cesar Azpilicueta, who triggered a contract extension, per Goal.

– Bild is reporting Bayern Munich have commenced talks over a new deal for Thomas Muller, with his contract expiring at the end of next season.

– Erik ten Hag is the favourite to become the new Manchester United manager, with the Ajax coach seeing a move to the Premier League as a progression in his career, according to Sport1.

Xavi refused to be drawn on talk of Barcelona signing Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger ahead of Sunday's LaLiga showdown with Sevilla.

Sahr Senesie, Rudiger's half-brother and agent, was this week pictured entering a hotel in Barcelona with Blaugrana director of football Mateu Alemany and technical director Jordi Cruyff.

The Germany centre-back is out of contract at Stamford Bridge at the end of the season and has been free to talk to clubs from overseas since January.

But Barca head coach Xavi is focused on masterminding a win at Camp Nou this weekend that would move his side above Sevilla into second place, rather than potential new recruits.

He said during a press conference on Saturday: "I'm not going to talk about signings, we have a lot at stake. It is true that Mateu, Jordi and the board are working for next season, but our [job] is to go for second place tomorrow."

Ousmane Dembele is in a similar situation to Rudiger, with his Barca deal expiring at the conclusion of the campaign.

Xavi praised the France winger's professionalism amid uncertainty over his future and says only the 24-year-old can decide where he will be playing next season.

He said: "I haven't had a single complaint about Dembele at a professional level since I arrived. He's a footballer of many levels, well worked, I still think he can be the best in his position. It's up to him, the renewal depends on him."

Meanwhile, the Barca boss is optimistic Gavi and Ronald Araujo, who are both under contract until the end of next season, will sign new deals.

"The club cannot afford to lose Gavi and Araujo, they are very important to us and I show it with the minutes I give them. I am optimistic and I hope a solution is reached," Xavi said.

Barca are unbeaten in 12 matches and have won five consecutive games in the Spanish top flight, the last of which was a 4-0 Clasico thrashing of Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu before the international break.

The Catalan giants are 12 points adrift of Los Blancos with a game in hand and Xavi has demanded they maintain their momentum at the expense of Sevilla.

"The message is to continue, not to let our guard down, not to relax," he said. "The Bernabeu was good, but the goals are to be as high as possible in the league and win the Europa League." 

The coach added: "The break could have been good for us. It is a final sprint in which we have to grit our teeth."

Luuk de Jong will not face his parent club after testing positive for coronavirus, while Sergino Dest, Samuel Umtiti, Ansu Fati and Sergi Roberto are ruled out due to injury.

The best teams in the world are circling Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, who has 23 goals and six assists in 23 club appearances this season.

The 21-year-old Norwegian was ruled out of Barcelona's price range earlier this week by president Joan Laporta, but there are some clubs who can stomach the asking price.

While there will be an array of suitors investigating if a move will be possible for their club, Manchester City and Real Madrid are the most likely to put their money where their mouths are.

TOP STORY – MANCHESTER CITY HAVE UPPER HAND IN HAALAND SWEEPSTAKES

ESPN is reporting City are "optimistic they can see off competition from Real Madrid" in the race for Haaland's services.

City are said to be in the market for a striker, and are confident they can pay the reported €75million release clause in Haaland's Dortmund contract.

After the departures of Angelino, Ferran Torres and Jack Harrison for a combined €85m, City are in a position of financial strength heading into the upcoming transfer period.

ROUND-UP

Manchester United have reignited their chase of Villareal defender Pau Torres, according to 90min. Torres was a target for the Red Devils before they ultimately signed Raphael Varane back in August.

Barcelona will look to bring in French forward Alexandre Lacazette on a free transfer after his contract expires at Arsenal after this season, reports Diario SPORT.

– Football Insider is reporting Aston Villa are planning on spending more than £150m in the next transfer window, breaking their previous spending record.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is confident in retaining the services of defender Antonio Rudiger with a new contract, according to Goal.

– El Nacional is reporting Real Madrid believe they can land Arsenal target Karim Adeyemi from Red Bull Salzburg.

Barcelona loanee Philippe Coutinho was prominent as Aston Villa went on a recent three-match winning streak in the Premier League.

Despite losses to West Ham and Arsenal coming into the international break, Villa have steadied since the November appointment of head coach Steven Gerrard, who took over from Dean Smith.

Villa are thought to remain interested in turning Coutinho's loan into a permanent arrangement, but another suitor could yet strike a deal, according to Spanish newspaper Sport.

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE LINKED WITH COUTINHO RAID

Newcastle United are said to be ready to swoop for Coutinho if Villa, who have an option to buy, cannot piece together a long-term agreement for the Brazilian winger.

Villa signed Coutinho on loan in January and to take him off Barcelona's hands would reportedly cost around €40million (£33m).

The 29-year-old has immediately become an integral part of Gerrard's attack, providing four goals and three assists in 10 Premier League appearances since arriving.

However, the prospect of a permanent deal is based on Villa accounting for Coutinho's substantial wages, which Barcelona currently subsidise. With new ownership, Newcastle appear capable of finding such funds.

ROUND-UP

Barcelona have tried to exploit sanctions affecting Chelsea by attempting to sign three of the club's defenders in Antonio RudigerCesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen, according to The Telegraph.

– RB Leipzig are set to conduct contract talks with Christopher Nkunku, but according to ESPN they are willing to listen to offers in excess of €75million.

Edinson Cavani is set for a move to Boca Juniors when his contract with Manchester United expires at the end of the season, claims Todofichajes.

– Bruno Fernandes has signed a new contract with Manchester United, extending his existing deal by one season but with a substantial wage increase, The Guardian reports.

Hansi Flick expects a strong performance from his Germany team against the Netherlands, as he assesses his side's prospects ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

Germany travel to Amsterdam to face their historic rivals in on Tuesday, following Saturday's routine 2-0 win over Israel.

The Oranje, who have won their last 11 games on Dutch soil, should represent a sturdier test, with Flick seeking to build towards a major tournament revival after Germany's failing to make the 2018 World Cup and then underwhelming at Euro 2020.

The former Bayern Munich coach is anticipating a tough contest against Louis van Gaal's side, and is expected to name a strong team after announcing that he wants to win the game "at all costs".

"It will be a good indicator for us," Flick told a pre-match press conference.

"We want to put in a good team performance, try and put our opponents under pressure, force them into mistakes and play our own game.

"I want to win the game at all costs."

Flick will be able to include goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and defender Antonio Rudiger among his starting XI, though he was giving nothing else away.

"All of the players here are available to play," Flick added. "We're very much looking forward to testing ourselves against the Netherlands.

"Neuer and Rudiger will both start.

"Everything else we'll decide in due course, but we will have an incredibly well-prepared team out on the pitch."

Arsenal continue their rejuvenation under Mikel Arteta, but a striker is becoming a positional need.

After his relationship with Arteta soured, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left for Barcelona during the January transfer window and has found verve under Xavi.

Although Alexandre Lacazette has been a compatible fit for Arsenal, he and Eddie Nketiah are out of contract at the end of the season, and the Gunners may look to Old Trafford. 

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL TO MOVE FOR RASHFORD

Arsenal are preparing an approach for Manchester United star Marcus Rashford in an attempt to bolster their stocks up front, according to The Mirror.

The Gunners were linked with a number of forwards during January, including Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Real Sociedad's Alexander Isak, but it appears Rashford's status at Old Trafford has shifted following United's Champions League exit.

The 24-year-old has one year plus an option for a further season on his current deal, but appears to be a peripheral figure under interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

Rashford has made just 10 starts in the Premier League this season and scored only five goals across all competitions. 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City and Real Madrid are in best position to sign Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, but the 21-year-old has rejected City's first offer, AS reports.

- Barcelona could offer versatile defender Oscar Mingueza as part of a package to land Leeds United winger Raphinha, Sport has reported.

- Juventus have shown their interest in Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger as they aim to replace Giorgio Chiellini, according to The Sun.

- The Daily Mail are reporting that Inter are keen to sign Juve's Paulo Dybala, who will be out of contract at the end of the season and is not having his deal renewed.

Kylian Mbappe is expected to join Real Madrid upon the conclusion of his Paris Saint-Germain contract.

The 2018 World Cup winner has opted not to extend his PSG deal.

Los Blancos have long circled for Mbappe's signature, having come close to signing him in the off-season.

TOP STORY - BARCELONA PLOT SWOOP FOR REAL TARGET MBAPPE

Barcelona are plotting a sensational move to snap up Mbappe ahead of rivals Madrid, reports L'Equipe.

The 23-year-old PSG winger has been heavily linked with a move to Madrid upon the conclusion of his contract at season's end.

However, the report claims Barcelona view him as a more financially shrewd option than Erling Haaland, who could cost them up to €300million.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona have also joined the race to sign Leeds United's Brazil international Raphinha alongside Liverpool, Manchester City and Bayern Munich, according to the Mirror.

- Barcelona are also interested in Bayern forward Robert Lewandowski, claims SPORT. The same outlet have also linked the Blaugrana with Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah , who is yet to extend at Anfield beyond his existing deal, which expires in 2023.

- The Sun claims that Bruno Fernandes will have his salary doubled with a new Manchester United deal in the works. The contract is understood to be a five-year deal.

- Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger has been offered a deal by Juventus, reports Sky Sports.

Spotify's new $235million deal with Barcelona has given the Spanish side some extra spending money, and all eyes are on Manchester United's Paul Pogba.

The Red Devils were eliminated from the Champions League by Atletico Madrid, and currently occupy fifth spot in the Premier League table in what has been a disappointing season.

Pogba recently made headlines after his home was burgled while he played in the second leg of United's tie against Atletico, coming off the bench in the 1-0 loss at Old Trafford.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA CLOSE IN ON POGBA 

According to The Daily Star, Barcelona's recent windfall has the club looking around at options to add to Xavi's side, with Pogba now considered within their price range and near the top of the list.

Pogba, 29, has nine assists and one goal in his 16 Premier League appearances this season, with his contract set to expire this summer.

Meanwhile, TuttoJuve say Manchester United have identified Dutch 19-year-old Ryan Gravenberch as a potential replacement if they can pry him away from Ajax. 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona coach Xavi has said club legend Lionel Messi will "always be welcome" back at Camp Nou. However, Marca also report that Messi does not plan to leave Paris Saint-Germain during his two-year contract.

- According to Fichajes, Newcastle United are interested in signing superstar forward Neymar, who is under contract at PSG through 2025.

- Juventus are to target a move for Manchester City's Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus, The Daily Star reports, if the English giants manage to sign Norwegian striker Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.

- La Gazzetta dello Sport suggest that Antonio Rudiger is set to join Juventus when his Chelsea contract expires this summer, signing a four-year deal with the iconic Italian club.

- Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta has agreed to a free transfer to Barcelona, with the deal expected to be completed at the end of the season according to Football Insider.

- The agent of Chelsea midfielder Jorginho said he would one day like to return to Serie A, according to The Daily Mirror. The 30-year-old Italian spent three seasons with Hellas Verona, and five seasons with Napoli before heading to the Premier League.

Romelu Lukaku's Chelsea return has not gone to plan – and it may well be that the striker departs after just one season back at Stamford Bridge.

The Belgium international has 11 goals in 31 matches and is struggling to nail down a spot in Thomas Tuchel's starting line-up.

With Chelsea's problems growing off the field, they may now face a big decision regarding their record signing.


TOP STORY – LUKAKU WANTS INTER RETURN AT ALL COSTS

According to Calciomercato, Lukaku is doing everything in his power to push through a return to Inter ahead of next season after departing the Serie A champions in August.

The Italian outlet claims that Lukaku accepts he made a big mistake in departing San Siro and, amid a breakdown in his relationship with Chelsea fans, he is desperate to return.

However, while the 28-year-old is said to be willing to take a pay cut, Inter are unable to finance a permanent transfer and may instead look to purchase him on an initial loan. 

Chelsea would also have to be cleared to sell the player following the heavy sanctions placed upon owner Roman Abramovich by the United Kingdom government this week.

ROUND-UP

- Those sanctions cast doubt over Chelsea's ability to sell or recruit players in the next transfer window, but that has not stopped the Blues being linked with more players. The Mirror reports that they remain hopeful of signing Saul Niguez from Atletico Madrid on a permanent deal.

- Should they be allowed to offload players in the coming months, Tuttosport suggests that Juventus will attempt to sign Jorginho from Chelsea. The Italian club are also reported to be in the mix to land wing-back Emerson Palmieri.

- With Harry Maguire struggling, Fichajes reports that Manchester United are targeting versatile Bayern Munich defender Lucas Hernandez. However, United may face competition from LaLiga heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid.

- According to The Sun, United are ready to offer Juan Mata a coaching role should the midfielder call time on his playing career. Mata has played just four games all season, starting two of those, and is due to be out of contract at the end of the season.

- The Daily Mail reports that mega-rich Newcastle United intend to move for Leeds United's in-demand midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who has also been linked with ambitious Aston Villa. Antonio Rudiger of Chelsea is another supposed target for the Magpies.

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