Barcelona, Liverpool and Chelsea are reportedly all interested in 21-year-old Benfica midfielder Enzo Fernandez.

Fernandez arrived at Benfica from River Plate just four months ago in June for a fee of €10million, and immediately took the Primeira Liga by storm, with the league naming him August's player of the month.

He has since helped Benfica to an undefeated record in both the league (8W 1D) and the Champions League (2W 2D), playing in every game, and his exploits in back-to-back draws against Paris Saint-Germain seem to have convinced some of the world's top clubs that he is up to the level.

TOP STORY – WORLD POWERHOUSES CLAMOUR FOR 21-YEAR-OLD BENFICA MIDFIELDER

According to a report from Sport, Barcelona had the chance to sign Fernandez for €10m but opted against it, allowing Benfica to swoop in, and he is now said to be valued at over €50m.

That figure could continue to rise as well. Having made his senior international debut for Argentina in September, Fernandez could play a significant role in his country's World Cup campaign as they enter the tournament on a 35-match unbeaten streak.

The report claims Barcelona will face opposition from Premier League giants Liverpool and Chelsea, and while there is no indication that Benfica would be willing to let Fernandez go six months into a five-year contract, the club that specialise in turning a profit in the transfer market could be faced with an offer they cannot refuse.

ROUND-UP

– 90min is reporting Chelsea have made Napoli striker Victor Osimhen their priority forward target, following reports they are also heavily interested in RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku and Lille's Jonathan David.

– According to Sky Sport in Germany, Everton have also been keen on Lille's David, with the 22-year-old Canadian tied with Neymar for the most goals in Ligue 1 this season (nine in 11 games).

– The Evening Standard is reporting Chelsea are also weighing up moves for Borussia Dortmund's teenage English star Jude Bellingham, as well as West Ham's Declan Rice.

Arsenal are said to be joining Barcelona and Real Madrid in the chase of 16-year-old Palmeiras striker Endrick, per FourFourTwo.

– Calciomercato claims Milan are considering a move for Chelsea's Hakim Ziyech in January, with Chelsea said to be open to a loan move for the 29-year-old.

Jamaica Reggae Boy Andre Blake made history by becoming the first man to win the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honours on three occasions.

After an outstanding season for the Philadelphia Union, it came as little surprise when Blake easily saw off rivals for the award by claiming 64 percent of the vote.  New England Revolution’s Djordje Petrović finished second with 5 percent, while Inter Miami’s Drake Callender took 4 percent of the vote.

With Blake in between the sticks, the Union conceded a mere 26 goals in the 2022 season, the least ever conceded by an MLS team in a 34-game season.  Philadelphia finished at the top of the Eastern Conference with 67 points.

Blake's awards added to his previous wins of the award in the 2016 and 2020 seasons.  The 31-year-old shot-stopper and former number-one pick has played every minute of the season so far for the Union who will play Cincinnati in the Conference semi-finals on Thursday.

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann felt his side "should have scored more" despite their rampant 5-2 away victory over Augsburg in the second round of the DFB-Pokal.

Bayern were behind within nine minutes after Mads Pedersen fired the hosts in front, but a double from Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and a smart Joshua Kimmich finish put the Bundesliga champions 3-1 ahead.

Dayot Upamecano's unfortunate own goal gave Augsburg hopes of a comeback, but Jamal Musiala and Alphonso Davies both struck late to ensure Bayern's progression into the third round of a competition they have won 20 times, 14 more than any other side.

Despite scoring five against Augsburg, Nagelsmann wanted his side to be even more ruthless, telling ZDF: "It's a classic cup game.

"The team created enough chances to make the game clearer earlier on, but unfortunately we missed. 

"There were many situations in which we should have scored more goals."

Nagelsmann was thankful for his side's improvement after finding themselves a goal down early on, particularly their dominant period after half-time which saw Kimmich and Choupo-Moting make it 3-1 with 53rd and 59th-minute goals.

"We didn't have a good start, we were very sluggish and didn't accept many duels," Nagelsmann said.

"The 20 minutes after half-time were very, very good. Physically we were on the same level."

When asked why Bayern struggled at the start of the match, Nagelsmann replied: "It's not that easy to play against a team that plays every ball straight ahead.

"It's always a balancing act. Do you play football, or do you play the ball in the opposing half?

"We didn't always make the right decision."

Women's Champions League holders Lyon were humbled by Arsenal as this season's competition began on Wednesday, while Barcelona won by an even greater margin in their opener.

The English side beat their hosts 5-1 at the Groupama Stadium, with Caitlin Foord and Frida Maanum handing Arsenal a 2-0 lead before Melvine Malard halved the deficit.

Foord scored again in between two goals from Ballon d'Or runner-up Beth Mead to give Jonas Eidevall's side an impressive opening victory in Group C.

Barca romped to a 9-0 success against Benfica in Group D thanks to seven different goalscorers.

Asisat Oshoala and Geyse scored two each, while goals also arrived from Patri Guijarro, Aitana Bonmati, Mariona Caldentey, Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic and Claudia Pina as last season's runners-up strolled to victory.

The other game in Group D saw Bayern Munich earn a tougher three points at home to Rosengard after Loreta Kullashi's opener for the visitors was cancelled out by Carolin Simon, before Linda Dallmann struck a second-half winner for the Germans.

Group C's other contest ended with Juventus claiming a 2-0 win at FC Zurich, with late goals from Valentina Cernoia and Barbara Bonansea earning Joe Montemurro's side three points.

Federico Valverde has joked he does not want to be responsible for Carlo Ancelotti's retirement, after the Real Madrid head coach issued him with a 10-goal target for the season.

The Uruguayan is already well on the way to that landmark after opening the scoring in the 3-0 win against Elche to take his tally for the campaign to six across all competitions, with the win marking Madrid's ninth in 10 LaLiga matches.

That goal sees Valverde equal the tally he had achieved in his first 148 matches for Los Blancos and Ancelotti is confident he will exceed the double-figure mark this term.

"He has to have that responsibility. We have a bet, I think he will score more than ten this season," he told DAZN after the match.

"He's a very important player for us. The energy he has is incredible. He has to score ten."

Valverde is determined to hit that landmark and does not want to disappoint Ancelotti, joking that he will not be the reason for the retirement of the Italian coach.

"I'm focused on doing it. It's a nice pressure. I don't want to be to blame for the coach retiring," he told DAZN.

Madrid's victory against Elche came despite seeing three goals, all scored by Karim Benzema, disallowed by VAR for offside, with Valverde acknowledging the "weird" feeling of having an effort chalked off.

"You have to get used to it. It's weird, you celebrate the goal and you think you're comfortable. They cancel one, then another and then another," he added.

Real Madrid extended their unbeaten streak this season to 15 games across all competitions with a 3-0 LaLiga victory against Elche, despite seeing three goals disallowed by VAR.

Federico Valverde opened the scoring with a fine strike from outside the box, his sixth goal of the season, with Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio sealing the result in the second half.

The Frenchman's goal came after he had seen three attempts disallowed by VAR for offside, which could have been decisive had Carlos Clerc headed home a glorious opportunity for an equaliser.

Andriy Lunin's save kept him at bay, however, with Benzema's goal then ensuring there would be no comeback and Asensio adding further gloss to the scoreline late on.

A frantic start saw Benzema tap home after six minutes, though the effort was disallowed for offside, but Valverde's strike just five minutes later did count, smashing home from outside the box after Vinicius Junior's shot was deflected into his path.

Three minutes before the half hour mark, Benzema was again frustrated by VAR after a second goal for the freshly crowned Ballon d'Or winner was chalked off, leaving Elche still in the game at the interval.

Benzema's frustrations would continue in the second period, the Frenchman seeing a goal disallowed for the third time by VAR for offside in the build-up on the hour mark.

Clerc should have made Real regret those spurned opportunities heading into the final 20 minutes but his header from close range was kept out by Lunin, who until that point had little to do throughout. 

Any hope of a late comeback for the hosts was quelled when Benzema finally got his goal, playing a neat one-two with Rodrygo and slotting home, with Asensio then delicately cushioning a volley over Edgar Badia to extend the advantage.

An Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting double and goals from Joshua Kimmich, Jamal Musiala and Alphonso Davies helped Bayern Munich to a 5-2 comeback victory over Augsburg to seal their place in the DFB-Pokal third round.

Mads Pedersen put Augsburg in front, but Choupo-Moting scored either side of Kimmich's beautiful finish to put the Bundesliga champions 3-1 up.

An own goal from Dayot Upamecano caused some fears of a Bayern collapse, but Musiala and Davies struck late to make sure of the victory.

Bayern's return to form continues as they reach the next round of a competition they have won on 20 occasions, 14 more than any other team.

The hosts started brightly and took the lead after nine minutes, Pedersen rifling superbly into the bottom right corner from 25 yards out.

Davies missed a great chance to equalise when he fired straight at Tomas Koubek, before the Augsburg goalkeeper also denied efforts from Musiala and Serge Gnabry.

However, Koubek did not cover himself in glory for Bayern's leveller, as Choupo Moting's drive from a tight angle sneaked in at the near post to make it 1-1.

Koubek somewhat redeemed himself shortly after, making a brilliant save to paw away Sadio Mane's goal-bound shot as the visitors put increasing pressure on the Augsburg defence.

Gnabry hit the bar with a deflected effort just after half-time, before Kimmich's curler from the edge of the box flew in to give Bayern the lead.

Choupo-Moting then took advantage of a defensive mix-up to smash home Bayern's third, seemingly putting the match to bed.

And despite Augsburg pulling a goal back when Upamecano diverted into his own net, Davies produced some sublime skill to tee up Musiala to bend home before the Canadian turned goalscorer as Bayern made sure of their progress.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has been fined €602 for storming into the referee's changing room after his team's 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in El Clasico on Sunday.

First-half goals from Karim Benzema and Federico Valverde left Barcelona facing a 2-0 deficit at the break, but a Ferran Torres strike with seven minutes to play gave the visitors hope.

That was soon extinguished though as a VAR review led to the award of a Madrid penalty after Eric Garcia tripped Rodrygo, who scored from the spot to secure three points for his side and condemn Xavi's men to defeat.

The result sparked a furious reaction from Laporta, who confronted referee Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez in the official's changing room after the match.

The Competition Committee fined him on Wednesday, citing article 133 of the disciplinary code, which relates to non-compliance with orders, as well as article 255, which stipulates those who access the changing rooms when they are not allowed to face potential sanctions.

Sunday's defeat saw Madrid leapfrog Barca to the top of LaLiga, another blow for Laporta's team after their Champions League hopes were left hanging by a thread following a 3-3 home draw against Inter last week.

Cody Gakpo says it was "a shame" for him, Manchester United and PSV Eindhoven that his proposed Premier League transfer did not go through, calling the English club "one of the biggest" around the globe.

The Netherlands international was heavily linked with a transfer from the Eredivisie outfit to join compatriot Erik ten Hag following the Dutchman's arrival in the Old Trafford dugout.

But a pursuit of the winger ultimately faltered, while late-window moves to both Leeds United and Southampton were ultimately scotched as Gakpo chose to remain with his boyhood club.

Now, the 23-year-old has reflected on his transfer saga, acknowledge the conversations he held with Ten Hag, while admitting it was a stressful time as he mulled his future.

"I was close to leaving, I spoke to Erik ten Hag a few times at Manchester United," Gakpo told The Times. "In the end, the deal didn't go through.

"[It] was a shame, for me and my development, and because Manchester United is one of the biggest clubs in the world. Also, [it was a shame] for PSV, because to transfer a player to Manchester United is a good thing for the club.

"It ended about a week before the end of the transfer window and in that week I had to decide if I would go to Leeds or Southampton. In the end I stayed, but it was a stressful period."

The off-field distractions of the transfer window certainly do not seem to have adversely affected Gakpo's performance, having scored nine goals and contributed seven assists in 10 Eredivisie games already this season.

That being said, he has not ruled out a future switch to the English top-flight, acknowledging he would mull any potential offer if it came knocking once again.

"I always said if I stay here, it's my childhood club. It's not a punishment," he added. "I like being here, I want to win trophies here and do my best for the club.

"But if I got the chance to go to the Premier League or something, of course I would have to consider that option. At that time, it was hectic for me, but I recovered pretty quickly."

Xavi says under-fire midfielder Sergio Busquets remains "vital" to Barcelona, insisting his captain will make his own decision on whether to stay at Camp Nou next season.

Busquets was criticised for his performance as Barcelona fell to a 3-1 defeat to Clasico rivals Real Madrid on Sunday, having been replaced by Gavi on the hour mark at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The future of the 34-year-old, who has won 30 pieces of silverware during his decorated 14-year spell with the club, has been the subject of speculation, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.

Xavi, however, still views the defensive midfielder as a crucial component in his side, saying: "When you lose, we are all exposed. For me, Busquets is still important. 

"There will be games in which he plays less or doesn't play, but he'll still be vital. Busi and the other captains add up. 

"We have a healthy dressing room and that makes me feel that things will end up working out. There's a good atmosphere and positivity." 

Reports have suggested Major League Soccer outfit Inter Miami are keen to take Busquets to the United States upon the expiration of his deal, and Xavi says his former team-mate will have the final say on his future.

"His contract ends, it's a reality and we'll see what happens throughout the season, how he feels and how he performs," Xavi added.

"It's a very personal decision of his. I also left Barcelona despite having an offer to renew. Nico [Gonzalez] and [Miralem] Pjanic decided to leave. 

"We have options; Frenkie [de Jong], Franck Kessie, or to try a central defender, which would not be the most advisable thing. That's why Busi is so important."

Barcelona are back in league action when they host Villarreal on Thursday, when they will bid to avenge May's 2-0 loss to the Yellow Submarine, their only defeat to Villarreal in the duo's last 26 league meetings (W19 D6).

Jose Gaya sees himself as a one-club man after signing a new deal with Valencia, as he outlined his hope to represent the club at the World Cup.

Gaya has been a regular in the first team since graduating from Valencia's academy in 2012 and has gone on to make 239 LaLiga appearances.

Named captain in 2020 following Dani Parejo's transfer to Villarreal, Gaya signed a new deal on Wednesday to keep him at the club until the end of June 2027.

The 27-year-old made his international debut in 2018 and hopes to be a part of Luis Enrique's squad for Qatar, though he has the likes of Marcos Alonso and Jordi Alba to contend with.

"Whenever I go away with the national team I try to represent Spain and I think it's the best a player can aspire to do," Gaya told Valencia's official website.

"The squad list hasn't come out yet, but I'm going to give it my all at Valencia to be able to be there."

When asked about any potential further renewals in the future, he added: "I would be excited to play 1,000 more games, but my mind is not thinking at that moment. I also have to earn that renewal and I will do my best for that."

Having been a part of Valencia's Copa del Rey success in 2019, Gaya hopes that in the years to come he can play a role in taking the club back to the top. 

He said: "In recent years I have been able to play in two finals and my ambition is to be able to continue at Valencia and work to be able to take us back to the top positions."

Xavi knows he must deliver success at Barcelona to keep his job but insists: "I'm not going to hide."

The Blaugrana have endured a miserable week, drawing 3-3 with Inter in the Champions League and then losing 3-1 at Real Madrid in the Clasico.

Barca are now relying on favours to advance in Europe and have been knocked off top spot in LaLiga.

Still, coach Xavi is not changing his outlook, reiterating on Wednesday "the goal is to win titles".

That is the expectation within the club, and Xavi knows the consequences for failure – although he was amused by the number of messages he received after Sunday's result.

"I think we've made a team to win titles," he said ahead of Thursday's game against Villarreal.

"I am excited, people give me encouragement. I have a mobile with so many messages that it seems like a family member has died.

"The transition was in the last half season. If we don't succeed, as the president said, there will be consequences, especially for me.

"I'm here to solve problems, and if we don't win, another coach will come. I'm not going to hide."

Asked when he might lose his job, Xavi replied: "Anytime, tomorrow. On the street, people raise their fists at me. But I am positive.

"We have lost at Madrid, and we can be knocked out in Europe. Well, I will keep fighting."

There was at least success on an individual level on Monday, as Gavi scooped the Kopa Trophy, Robert Lewandowski the Muller Trophy and Alexia Putellas the Ballon d'Or Feminin.

But Xavi wants to build on those "exciting" triumphs by repeating them as a team.

"For me, [Gavi's] award is more than deserved," the coach said. "I take this opportunity to congratulate Alexia and Robert Lewandowski.

"These awards mean that Barca is more alive than ever. It's exciting to see our players win individual prizes. Now the collective prizes are missing."

Chelsea have reportedly identified two major targets for the January transfer window, with plans to secure RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku and Lille's Jonathan David.

Nkunku has been in brilliant form over the past 18 months. He netted 35 goals in 52 club appearances last season and was rewarded with his international debut for France in March. Having been equally as brilliant for Leipzig this season, the former Paris Saint-Germain attacker is set for a breakout World Cup campaign with the reigning champions.

David will also be at the World Cup, representing Canada in only their second qualification for a finals, and the country's first since 1986. With Lille, the 22-year-old has nine goals and two assists in 11 Ligue 1 games this season.

Chelsea's interest in Nkunku has been well-established for months, while David is newly on their radar, and both could be wearing blue by the end of January.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA PLAN TO SPLASH THE CASH

News emerged in recent weeks that Chelsea were able to conduct a preliminary medical on Nkunku in the recent transfer window, and despite Leipzig's wishes to retain his services until the end of the season, The Mirror is reporting Chelsea are trying to get a deal done in January for a price in the range of £52million.

Meanwhile, Jeunesfooteux claims it will cost Chelsea at least £60m to tempt Lille into letting go of David, as the Canadian is still under contract until June 2025.

The Mirror's report adds Chelsea are hoping to land Brighton and Hove Albion's Leandro Trossard – who head coach Graham Potter developed an affinity for during his time with the Seagulls. They could face competition from Atletico Madrid, however.

 

ROUND-UP:

– Calciomercato is reporting Juventus have an interest in Atletico midfielder Rodrigo De Paul and Eintracht Frankfurt centre-back Evan Ndicka.

– According to The Evening Standard, highly desired Serie A talents Milan Skriniar of Inter and Rafael Leao of Milan appear likely to sign contract extensions with their respective clubs.

– Sky Sports Germany claims Bayern Munich remain heavily interested in Tottenham striker Harry Kane, who will have 18 months remaining on his contract when the January transfer window arrives.

– Napoli winger Hirving Lozano is likely to leave the club in January, according to Calciomercato, as his contract demands are said to be more than the Italian side are comfortable with.

– The Guardian is reporting Manchester United are delaying their contract decisions for David de Gea and Marcus Rashford as Erik ten Hag wants to see more before potentially offering extensions.

Neymar hailed the "deserved" choice of Karim Benzema as Ballon d'Or winner, after the Real Madrid star claimed the prestigious honour for the first time on Monday.

But the Paris Saint-Germain attacker criticised the eighth-place finish for Benzema's Madrid team-mate Vinicius Junior, with the Brazil international declaring his fellow Selecao star should have finished in the top three at a "minimum".

Benzema was crowned the world's greatest player for the 2021-22 season at a ceremony earlier this week, succeeding Neymar's PSG club-mate Lionel Messi while beating out Bayern Munich's Sadio Mane to top spot.

It came after a campaign that saw him lead Carlo Ancelotti's side to success in LaLiga and the Champions League, scoring 44 goals and adding 15 assists.

Neymar, who was not nominated this year, took to social media a day after the presentation to hail Benzema's victory, but added that Vinicius, another key Madrid star last term, deserved greater recognition.

"Benzema deserved [it - he's the] crack!" the attacker wrote on Twitter. "Now, for Vini Jr to be eighth - it's not possible! Minimum top three!"

After arguably the toughest domestic season of his career to date last term, Neymar looks to be back to his best this season, with nine goals and seven assists in Ligue 1 so far.

Benzema meanwhile has struggled with fitness issues, restricting the 34-year-old to just four goals and one assist in LaLiga.

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone felt his side paid the price for "not being forceful" enough as a 92nd-minute Radamel Falcao penalty earned Rayo Vallecano a late 1-1 draw on Tuesday.

Alvaro Morata's first-half strike looked to be enough to give Atletico their fourth straight LaLiga win, despite missing a number of chances to add a second goal.

They were left to rue not taking those opportunities, as the referee awarded a penalty after Jose Gimenez handled in the box from Randy Nteka's header, before Falcao fired home the penalty to deny his former side the win.

Simeone was frustrated over his side's inability to kill the game off, telling reporters: "We had good goal situations to score the second and close out the match.

"The second was not scored and we remain in a situation in which they can equalise.

"In the second half we had a lot of counter-attacks to finish the game, we didn't convert the much-needed second goal and we lost two important points."

The two dropped points Simeone referenced would have put Atletico just three points behind leaders Real Madrid, and the 52-year-old feels his players must be more ruthless in future.

When asked what his team did wrong against Rayo, Simeone replied: "Not being forceful.

"If you come up against the goalkeeper several times, it has to be a goal.

"You have to improve the forcefulness and train it and when that situation appears, there is the mettle to finish."

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