Didier Deschamps has agreed to stay on as France coach until June 2026.

The French Football Federation (FFF) confirmed the news on Saturday.

France reached the World Cup final in Qatar, losing to Argentina on penalties following a remarkable 3-3 draw at Lusail Stadium.

Deschamps was appointed France coach in July 2012, succeeding Laurent Blanc.

Arsenal and Tottenham are reportedly trying to pry centre-back Evan Ndicka away from Eintracht Frankfurt this month.

Ndicka, 23, arrived at the Bundesliga club in 2018, racking up 162 appearances since. He has played every minute of their 15 Bundesliga fixtures this season, helping them to reach the German mid-season break in fourth position.

Standing at an imposing 192cm tall with pace to burn, he fits the bill as a centre-back who can handle the physical demands of the Premier League, and his impressive traits are exactly why Frankfurt have been desperate to retain his services.


Currently in the final year of his five-year contract, this will be the last opportunity Frankfurt get to cash in on their young talent, and they reportedly see the writing on the wall despite their desire to extend Ndicka's stay.

According to German publication FR, Ndicka's agents have been reaching out to Europe's elite clubs including Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Barcelona, but are said to have driven some away with their lucrative contract demands.

Previous reporting from Football London has claimed Arsenal had agreed to personal terms with Ndicka for a free move before Frankfurt's most recent improved contract offer, while Tottenham remain in the hunt.

Interested parties prepared to wait another six months could scoop him up on a free, but a transfer fee in January with so little time remaining on his contract could end up surprisingly affordable.


Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea are all closely monitoring 19-year-old PAOK winger Giannis Konstantelias, who is believed to be worth in the range of £10million, per the Evening Standard.

– Foot Mercato is reporting Saudi Arabia side Al-Nassr are working on acquiring Eden Hazard to reunite him with former Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.

– According to Sport, Juventus have enquired about 33-year-old Barcelona left-back Jordi Alba as he enters the final six months of his contract.

Napoli have submitted a €19m offer for 22-year-old Angers and Morocco midfielder Azzedine Ounahi, per Foot Mercato.

– Sport is reporting 28-year-old Barcelona forward Memphis Depay would like to return to former club Manchester United.

The 2022 World Cup was unique for many reasons.

It was the first World Cup to be played in the Middle East, and the first one to take place in the middle of the season, as far as Europe's top clubs are concerned.

One thing that did not change, of course, was players being able to use the tournament as a platform to show what they can do on the biggest stage, and perhaps get big moves on the back of it.

While Josko Gvardiol, Enzo Fernandez, Alexis Mac Allister and Jude Bellingham are among the players to possibly fall into that category, Antoine Griezmann is different.

Griezmann is not the youngster making his name, but he did shine in Qatar as, in the space of seven games, he arguably redefined his own position.

That is not to say Griezmann had not been impressive this season prior to the World Cup. Before the tournament he had directly contributed to 10 goals for Atletico Madrid, scoring five and creating as many.

Griezmann's form has come during a season in which he had to settle for a substitute role up until September 18, due to Atleti attempting to navigate a financial clause in their loan agreement with Barcelona, which would have kicked in had the 31-year-old played a certain amount of minutes.

Had that clause been activated, Atleti would have had to pay €40million to re-sign Griezmann. As it was, they paid under half of that to bring him back to the club permanently in October.

It's Barca up next for Atleti in the highlight fixture of this weekend's LaLiga matches. Going into that match, Griezmann is a player reimagined.


The creator in chief

Griezmann has returned from the World Cup with a vigour and verve to his play perhaps not seen since his prime years at Atleti back in 2017 to 2019.

His goal contributions stand at 13 (five more than any of his team-mates) after three assists across two appearances since Atleti's campaign restarted – one game in LaLiga and one in the Copa del Rey.

Griezmann leads the club's scoring charts along with Alvaro Morata while his tally of seven assists is four clear of next-best Joao Felix, who seems destined to leave the club this month. None of his team-mates come close to matching Griezmann's 42 chances created, and 35 of those have come from open play.

But it's Griezmann's positioning that is the truly interesting aspect of his fine form.

Didier Deschamps has often utilised Griezmann as a second striker in international football. That was the position he played in at Euro 2016, and during France's successful run at the 2018 World Cup.

Yet in Qatar, Griezmann was deployed as the most advanced of a midfield trio, and there he showed his ability to not only find space in the final third, but run games altogether.


Only Kylian Mbappe (49) was involved in more shot-ending attacking sequences for France at the tournament than Griezmann (30).

However, of Griezmann's 361 open-play touches, just 14 came in the opposition box, with the vast majority clustered in the middle of the park.

Not that it prevented Griezmann from wielding his influence. He provided three assists, leading the competition alongside Harry Kane, Bruno Fernandes, Ivan Perisic and Lionel Messi. Unlike all of those players, however, Griezmann's expected assists (xA) of 3.6 was actually slightly underperformed. Essentially, he was creating higher quality chances for those assists than his counterparts.


That quality was evidenced with a sublime cross into Olivier Giroud for France's second goal in the 2-1 quarter-final victory over England, having earlier teed up Aurelien Tchouameni's strike to move ahead of Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry in terms of the most assists for Les Bleus. Griezmann's 28 assists rank as the most by any France player for his country in the last 50 years.

Griezmann's 22 chances created were the most at the tournament, albeit only nine of those came from open play. When it came to creativity, Griezmann was at the top of his game.

From poacher to playmaker

It was certainly a case of picking up where he left off for Griezmann when Atleti took on Elche in LaLiga on December 29. Diego Simeone's side won 2-0, and Griezmann was superb.

He set up both goals and created four chances. No player attempted more passes in the opposition half (37), or played in more crosses (five).

Despite Atleti having lined up in a 3-4-3, with Griezmann nominally positioned on the right flank, his average position was just ahead of the halfway line.

It was a similar story against Real Oviedo on Wednesday in the Copa del Rey. While he was supposedly playing in a front two alongside Alvaro Morata, Griezmann's touches were centred around the halfway line, with only two coming in the opposition box.

Dovetailing with Morata in a forward line, or indeed playing as an inside forward in a 3-4-3, is in principle ideal for Griezmann to drop into a similar role as to the one he thrived in during the World Cup.

Barca best be wary

It would seem the two-man attack would provide the perfect platform for Griezmann to show what Barca never managed to unlock on a consistent basis during his two years at the club.

Not that his time at Barca was a complete failure. Griezmann scored 35 goals and assisted a further 16 across 102 appearances. But he looks like he has his mojo back now. In fact, no LaLiga player has assisted more goals in all competitions.

Morata should provide the pace and work rate to stretch Barca's backline, handing Griezmann the space to drop between the lines and pull the strings.

Griezmann is averaging 73.4 touches per 90 minutes for Atleti this term, but only 4.8 in the opposition's box. His role has been gradually developing over the course of the campaign and the World Cup proved just how effective he can be.

Barca twice gave away the lead against Intercity Sant Joan d'Alacant in their Copa del Rey tie, and as Inter and Bayern Munich displayed in the Champions League, the Blaugrana's defence can be got at, even if in LaLiga Xavi's side have conceded just six times.

If Griezmann, who at least might be easier to spot, what with his bright pink hair, can replicate the influence he had in Qatar, Barca will be hard-pressed to stop him.

Paris Saint-Germain left out their biggest stars and survived a scare to progress in the Coupe de France, earning a 3-1 win at Chateauroux on Friday.

An early goal from Hugo Ekitike was cancelled out by Natanael Ntolla before half-time, and PSG had to wait until the 78th minute for Carlos Soler to bundle home for the Ligue 1 side before Juan Bernat added some gloss to the score late on.

Christophe Galtier included 16-year-old Warren Zaire Emery in his much-changed starting line-up, with no Lionel Messi, Neymar or Kylian Mbappe as Ekitike, Pablo Sarabia and Soler were selected in attack.

Chateauroux, who play in the third tier of French football, belied their lowly position of 14th in the Championnat National with a determined showing against their celebrated opponents, but PSG ultimately made it through to the last-32 stage.

The visitors took the lead in the 13th minute when Ismael Gharbi's first-time ball from the edge of the box into the path of Ekitike allowed the young striker to finish neatly in off the left post with the outside of his right foot.

Jonathan Mexique went close for the home side with a close-range shot in the 26th minute that was deflected over by a diving Vitinha, while Paul Delecroix made a good save down to his left from a Gharbi volley shortly after.

The scores were level eight minutes before the break though after neat work down the left ended with former Lille and Saint-Etienne striker Nolan Roux pulling the ball back for Ntolla, whose goal-bound shot was deflected past Keylor Navas by 17-year-old PSG defender El Chadaille Bitshiabu.

Galtier called for more experience in the second half as Sergio Ramos and Fabian Ruiz came on just after the hour, and the coach eventually saw his team re-take the lead as Vitinha stood up a cross to the far post that allowed Ekitike to head at goal, with Soler following up from Delecroix's initial save.

Bernat made it 3-1 in stoppage time after racing onto a ball from Ruiz and firing low and hard across Delecroix to seal the victory for PSG.

Marcus Rashford was involved in all three goals as Manchester United secured a place in the FA Cup fourth round with a 3-1 victory over Everton at Old Trafford on Friday.

Frank Lampard's side had experienced a run of five defeats in six in all competitions, and they were soon behind when Rashford excellently set up Antony to put United 1-0 up.

Although Everton levelled when Conor Coady took advantage of a David de Gea howler to stab in, more silky work from Rashford restored United's lead as Coady turned his cross past Jordan Pickford for an own goal.

In-form United needed a reprieve in the shape of a VAR review to deny Dominic Calvert-Lewin a second equaliser, but Rashford got a goal for himself with a stoppage-time penalty as the Red Devils deservedly advanced to maintain their interest in silverware on four fronts.

United were ahead after just four minutes, with Rashford driving past his man before finding a pinpoint cross for Antony to poke home, and it could have been 2-0 moments later when Anthony Martial sent a dipping effort just past the post.

But Everton nearly levelled when Demarai Gray's long-range drive crashed off the woodwork, and they did soon find an equaliser as De Gea somehow let the ball through his legs from Neal Maupay's cross before Coady tapped in.

Rashford played a big role again for United's second, however, brilliantly powering to the byline before his low delivery was turned into his own net by Coady.

The introduction of Everton striker Calvert-Lewin almost reaped dividends when he got on the end of Gray's cross to seemingly level, only for the VAR to spot the winger's offside in the build-up.

There was time then for Ben Godfrey to tangle with Alejandro Garnacho and give Rashford an opportunity from 12 yards, which he confidently took to cap a brilliant display and make sure of United's place in the draw.

David Beckham's playing career may be over, but one Premier League club will list a Beckham among their ranks this season after the former England captain's son Romeo joined Brentford.

The young Beckham made 20 appearances for Inter Miami II – the reserve side of his father's Major League Soccer franchise – in the MLS Next Pro league last season.

The 20-year-old previously spent time in Arsenal's academy before being released in 2015, and he joined Inter Miami II in 2021 when the team were known as Fort Lauderdale CF.

In a statement released on Friday, Brentford revealed the winger would join their B team until the end of the season.

"Brentford are delighted to announce the signing of Romeo Beckham from Inter Miami CF on loan until the end of the 2022-23 season," the club said.

"The 20-year-old will join Neil MacFarlane's B team for the rest of the campaign to continue his development as he makes the temporary switch from the MLS club. The move is subject to international clearance."

Revealing Beckham had been training with the club since the end of the MLS Next Pro season, MacFarlane said: "He came to us from Inter Miami with the aim of working with us during their close season.

"Romeo has applied himself unbelievably well, he's really bought into the culture and the group which he has become a big part of. I love his standards and the way he conducts himself on and off the pitch."

The new recruit said he was relishing his opportunity, telling Brentford's website: "I'm very proud and very happy to be here.

"I came here at the start to keep fit during the off season. The chance then came to come on loan here and I've never been so excited."

Last July, Inter Miami coach Phil Neville defended his decision to bring on Beckham – as well as his own son Harvey – in a friendly against Barcelona, saying they both "earned the right" to feature in a game which ended in a 6-0 defeat for the MLS side.

Antonio Conte has joined those paying tribute to Gianluca Vialli with a heartfelt social media post, describing his former Juventus team-mate as a "lion" and "an inspiration".

Vialli's passing at the age of 58 was confirmed on Friday, with the former striker having been re-diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2021 after being given the all-clear the previous year.

Conte played with Vialli throughout the latter's four-year spell with Juventus between 1992 and 1996, helping the Bianconeri win the Champions League in Vialli's final season with the club, during which he was club captain.

Conte took to Instagram on Friday to share a recent image of the pair dining together, alongside the caption: "Having dinner together in London a few months ago as we had fun remembering all our adventures and battles on the field.

"Unfortunately, in these last few years you had to fight a great and terrible battle in life.

"I told you and wrote that you have always been an inspiration to me as my captain and for how you were proving to be strong, proud and brave, fighting like a lion against this disease.

"Always in my heart my friend. Goodbye Gianluca."

Vialli spent much of his playing career at Sampdoria before joining Juventus in 1992, winning one Scudetto, one Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup in addition to the Bianconeri's 1996 continental triumph.

He then left the club for Chelsea, where he eventually took over as manager, with Conte succeeding him as Juventus captain upon his departure.

Ousmane Dembele is "happy in Barcelona" and wants to stay, amid reports linking him with a move to Paris Saint-Germain in his native France.

Dembele has had a mixed time in LaLiga since arriving at Barca for big money from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, but the 25-year-old has enjoyed a productive spell since Xavi took charge last season.

He has been involved in more goals than any other Blaugrana player since Xavi became head coach in November 2021, scoring eight and providing 20 assists.

That includes six goals and seven assists in 22 games this season (17 starts), and Dembele also provided two assists in his seven appearances for France as they finished as runners-up at the World Cup in Qatar.

However, despite stories suggesting PSG could be in line to bring him to Ligue 1, the former Rennes winger told Belgian television station Eleven Sports he is content at Camp Nou.

"I signed a new contract at Barca four months ago and I'm happy here, I want to keep working and improving at Barcelona," he said. "I am good here, I am happy in Barcelona, I like my life here. The coach trusts me, and the board [trust me] too."

Dembele has just 18 months remaining on his contract, but Barca president Joan Laporta insisted on Thursday he is "not for sale", telling Sport: "If PSG come to sign him, we will tell them he is not for sale.

"He's one of the most important players that we have. He has extraordinary speed, he's a lightning bolt. Every time he gets the ball he upsets defences and yesterday [in the 4-3 Copa del Rey win against Intercity] he scored a great goal.

"He won't go for €70million euros or any amount."

Enzo Fernandez has been left out of Benfica's matchday squad for Friday's Primeira Liga match with Portimonense after Roger Schmidt's criticism of suitors Chelsea.

Fernandez's excellent World Cup displays for Argentina in Qatar have attracted interest from a range of top clubs, with Chelsea thought to be close to his signing at one stage this week.

But the Blues' reported refusal to meet the midfielder's release clause provided a stumbling block, which is said to be a huge £106million (€120m).

However, the transfer, which would have made Fernandez a record signing for a Premier League club, reportedly hit a stumbling block on Wednesday after the Blues tried to negotiate a lower fee.

Benfica head coach Schmidt said Chelsea's approach showed "a lack of respect" to his club, suggesting the Premier League side were trying to "drive the player crazy".

Fernandez had already missed numerous Benfica training sessions having returned to Argentina without the club's permission, but Schmidt has insisted they do not wish to sell the 21-year-old.

On Friday, Schmidt chose to leave Fernandez out of the team for an important fixture at home to eighth-placed Portimonense.

League leaders Benfica are in need of a positive result having been thumped 3-0 by closest challengers Braga last week, a first defeat of the season that closed their lead at the top to just three points.

Fernandez started in that match, with Schmidt revealing afterwards he was unsure if it would be his last game for the club, having only joined from River Plate last year.

Finding a mid-season replacement for injured goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is proving "extremely difficult", according to Bayern Munich CEO Oliver Kahn.

Neuer was ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering a broken leg in a skiing accident while on holiday in the wake of Germany's shock group-stage exit at the World Cup.

The 36-year-old's injury has given Bayern a headache between the sticks as they bid for silverware at home and in Europe.

The German champions hold a four-point lead at the Bundesliga summit and are expected to bring in a goalkeeper in January, with Borussia Monchengladbach's Yann Sommer reportedly their top target.

Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic also suggested they could recall Alexander Nubel from his loan at Monaco, but Nubel himself stated it "doesn't make much sense" for him to return to Bayern and has started both of Monaco's games since Ligue 1 returned after the World Cup.

Kahn says replacing the absent Neuer in the January transfer window is tricky, telling Bild: "We are discussing various options without hesitation.

"But replacing Manuel Neuer during the winter break is of course extremely difficult, especially since not many clubs want to give up their number one goalkeeper."

Neuer is expected to make a full recovery before the start of the 2023-24 season, but Kahn still feels it is necessary to bring in a shot-stopper, even if just for a brief period, explaining: "Football is a short-term business, we have to think about the here and now.

"We know Manuel. He will give everything he can to get back into top form. And a Manuel Neuer in top form is absolutely world-class."

Bayern return to competitive action away at RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga on January 20, while they will likely already have one eye on their tricky Champions League last-16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain, with the first leg set to take place at the Parc des Princes on February 14.

Jurgen Klopp has reiterated his support for scrapping FA Cup replays ahead of holders Liverpool facing Wolves in the third round on Saturday.

Klopp has repeatedly called for FA Cup replays to be abolished in the past, and memorably allowed then-under-23s coach Neil Critchley to take charge of team made up entirely of youth players when Liverpool were taken to a second fixture by Shrewsbury Town in 2020.

FA Cup replays were removed for the 2020-21 season to avoid creating further fixture congestion in a campaign heavily impacted by COVID-19, and a report from The Times said leading figures in the English game discussed doing so permanently on Friday.

Klopp would be in favour of such a move, though acknowledged it would need to be accompanied by support for the smaller clubs that benefit from them financially. 

Asked if he would support the removal of replays at Friday's news conference, Klopp said: "Yeah, as always.

"We have to find other solutions. The lifeline for smaller clubs cannot be problems for the clubs that play every three days.

"There must be other solutions, and how often did it happen that a smaller club came through because of this extra game? 

"There's money involved, I understand that, and nobody wants to kill the smaller clubs, they have the same right to exist as all of us.

"But we cannot solve all the problems by playing more games – that's not possible and that's why I would be in favour of that, but I've said so many things in the last seven-and-a-half years and not many have happened."

Meanwhile, with Liverpool having a full week to prepare for their Premier League trip to Brighton and Hove Albion after facing Wolves, Klopp is not planning to make sweeping changes.

Asked how he would approach his team selection for Saturday's game, Klopp said: "It doesn't change. The only time it will change is with the amount of games around, so if you play say, Saturday then Tuesday, you have to think about it.

"In our case, we played Monday last time, then Saturday, then Saturday again. So it's clear we will line up as good, as strong and as experienced as we can. There will not be rotation because of the competition or whatever, no."

Liverpool ended a 16-year wait to lift the FA Cup last season, beating Chelsea in a penalty shoot-out following a goalless draw at Wembley Stadium – as they did in the EFL Cup final.

However, Wolves have eliminated Liverpool from the competition twice during Klopp's time in charge, beating them 2-1 as a Championship side at Anfield in 2017 before winning by the same scoreline at Molineux two years later.

Barcelona have been beaten without scoring a goal in their past two trips to Atletico Madrid and could find themselves off the top of LaLiga if they suffer more misery in the capital on Sunday.

A fiery 1-1 draw with Espanyol on New Year's Eve left Barca level on points with Real Madrid at the summit in what is shaping up to be an enthralling title race.

Xavi's side travel to the Metropolitano for their first LaLiga game of the year on the back of a Copa del Rey scare, avoiding an upset by beating third-tier Intercity 4-3 after extra time.

Fourth-placed Atleti have secured back-to-back 2-0 wins and will be looking for a third consecutive home victory over the Blaugrana in the top flight.

With Carlo Ancelotti's men travelling to Villarreal a day earlier, Barca may need a win against Atletico to go back to the top of the table and they will be without the suspended Robert Lewandowski.

Stats Perform pick out the standout Opta numbers to preview the big game.

Barca hoping for same story in New Year

This will be the fifth time Barca have faced Atleti in their first game of a calendar year.

If history is anything to go by, the Catalan giants could be heading home with all three points in the bank as they have not lost in all four of the previous such meetings.

Barca beat Atleti in their first league games in 1930, 1951 and 1989, with the other encounter ending in a draw.

If looking that far back is not for you, Barca have been in excellent recent form on the road – winning 12 of their past 14 away games in LaLiga, with just one defeat.

Griezmann to return to haunt Barca?

In-form forward Antoine Griezmann is set to face Barca for the first time since he made a permanent move from Camp Nou to Atleti in October.

The France international endured a disappointing spell with the Blaugrana, but is very much at home again under Diego Simeone.

After some outstanding World Cup displays in Qatar, Griezmann has provided three assists in two matches back on club duty – the latest being a sublime first-time cushioned pass to set up Marcos Llorente in the 2-0 Copa del Rey defeat of Real Oviedo on Wednesday.

A revitalised Griezmann has been involved in 10 LaLiga goals for the Rojiblancos this season – five goals and as many assists. That is three more than he managed from 29 appearances in the competition in the 2021-22 campaign.


Dembele delivering for Xavi

Ousmane Dembele continues to show why Barca were so eager to keep him after his contract expired at the end of last season.

The France winger scored his eighth goal of Xavi's reign in a thrilling cup tie against Intercity.

Dembele has racked up 20 assists since Xavi was appointed in November 2021, giving him the most goal involvements for Barca during the head coach's tenure.

Joao Felix catching the eye in shop window

Joao Felix continues to be linked with a move, Manchester United among the clubs linked with the wantaway Atletico forward.

He has clearly not been affected by uncertainty over his future, scoring in three consecutive LaLiga games for the first time during his Atleti career.

The Portugal international has found the back of the net four times in his past three LaLiga matches, while he also struck against Ghana in the World Cup.

Cristiano Ronaldo was left out of the Al Nassr team to face Al Tai on Friday as he served the first part of a two-match ban from the English Football Association.

The ban was handed out in November in relation to an incident in the Premier League game between Everton and Manchester United last season. Ronaldo slapped a phone out of the hand of a 14-year-old Everton fan as he stormed off the pitch following the Red Devils' 1-0 defeat at Goodison Park.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo was unveiled by Al Nassr on Tuesday after signing a two-and-a-half-year deal with the Saudi Arabian club.

After Ronaldo's move was confirmed, it was reported Al Nassr were considering defying the ban and were willing to pay any fine imposed by FIFA as a result.

However, the 37-year-old did not feature in head coach Rudi Garcia's team for Friday's match, suggesting Ronaldo will have to wait at least until January 22 to make his bow for the club in the home clash with Al Ettifaq.

Carlo Ancelotti expressed satisfaction with his current midfield options amid reports Real Madrid are the frontrunners to sign Jude Bellingham.

Madrid are said to be leading the race to prise Bellingham, who shone for England at the World Cup last month, from Borussia Dortmund.

Bellingham started all five of England's matches at Qatar 2022, which ended in quarter-final defeat to France, scoring and assisting one goal from central midfield.

Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain are also said to have an interest in his services, but the latest speculation suggests it is Madrid who are poised to add him to a midfield that already includes young France internationals Eduardo Camavinga, Aurelien Tchouameni and Uruguay star Federico Valverde.

Asked about the talk about acquiring Bellingham, Ancelotti told a press conference: "Bellingham has proven to be a great midfielder at the World Cup, like others.

"There are many young people, Enzo [Fernandez], Pedri and Gavi... There are many young midfielders that are coming out and Bellingham is one of them.

"But I keep my midfield, which is very good. Tchouameni, Camavinga, Valverde... We have a lot of young people here."


Ancelotti was speaking ahead of Madrid's LaLiga clash with Villarreal on Saturday, their second league game since the resumption of the season following the World Cup. 

Madrid faced Cacereno in the Copa del Rey on Tuesday, winning 1-0, and face a Supercopa de Espana semi-final with Valencia next Wednesday.

"Tomorrow a fresh team will play, most of those who did not play against Cacereno," added Ancelotti. 

"It is a team that is approaching last year's team. After that, each game I will choose who is better. The Supercopa is a very important title for us and I will try to get the best team."

He was also speaking following the death of former Sampdoria, Juventus, Chelsea and Italy striker Gianluca Vialli.

Both Ancelotti and Vialli were part of the Italy squad that finished third at the 1990 World Cup on home soil.

"It's a very sad day for me," said Ancelotti. "My dear friend has passed away. May he rest in peace."

Virgil van Dijk will be out of action for over a month after sustaining a hamstring injury in Liverpool's defeat to Brentford earlier this week, Jurgen Klopp has confirmed.

Defender Van Dijk was one of three players substituted at half-time in Liverpool's damaging 3-1 loss at the Brentford Community Stadium, which saw them lose ground in the race for a top-four Premier League finish.

Klopp described Van Dijk's withdrawal as precautionary after the game, but reports later in the week suggested the Netherlands captain's injury was worse than initially feared.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's FA Cup third-round tie against Wolves, Klopp provided an estimated timeframe for Van Dijk's return and described his absence as a significant setback.

"On Virg, it's a surprise and obviously a big blow, as he didn't feel a lot," Klopp said at Friday's pre-match press conference. 

"I took him off actually, to avoid the risk, maybe he would have tried [to play on] and stuff like this.

"In the end, the diagnosis was pretty harsh. They talk about weeks – more than a month. 

"We have to see how it goes but we have other centre-halves. Everything is okay for the team but for Virg, it's hard for him. He's played an incredible amount of games over the last few years.

"We cannot use him on the pitch, only off the pitch, so we will do that."

Asked whether the congested festive fixture list had caused Van Dijk's injury, Klopp responded: "It's his hamstring. 

"He never had an issue with muscles or mentioned anything, between the games he was recovering.

"There's nothing to say about it, we did nothing different. It was one sprint."

As well as Saturday's meeting with Wolves, Van Dijk now appears likely to miss Premier League fixtures against Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea before the end of January.

Klopp will be desperate to have Van Dijk available for a crucial spell next month, in which Liverpool face Merseyside rivals Everton and fellow top-four contenders Newcastle United before playing the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Real Madrid.

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