Manchester United remain on the lookout for a full-time manager, three months on from sacking Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Ralf Rangnick has taken interim charge until at least the end of the campaign, but some mixed results have hampered his hopes of landing the job permanently.

A number of names have been linked with one of football's most prestigious positions, though one candidate is seemingly favoured by the players.

 

 

TOP STORY – UNITED STARS FAVOUR POCH APPOINTMENT

Mauricio Pochettino remains the favourite to succeed Solskjaer as United's next permanent boss and, according to The Express, that is an appointment that will go down well.

The Red Devils' first-team stars are said to have made clear that Pochettino, who is under pressure a year into his time with Paris Saint-Germain, is their preferred option.

Ajax boss Erik Ten Hag is another candidate to lead United forward from next season, but there are concerns over his lack of experience in English football.

 

ROUND-UP

- While there is uncertainty over who will be in charge at United next season, the Premier League heavyweights are pushing ahead with transfer plans. Sport1 reports that Borussia Dortmund defender Manuel Akanji is one of those being targeted.

- Memphis Depay could be on his way out of Barcelona less than a year after arriving at Camp Nou. Sport claims that Barca have other attacking options in mind, with Dortmund superstar Erling Haaland still on their radar.

- Inter remain in talks with Ivan Perisic over a new contract at San Siro. According to Nicolo Schira, the Croatia international is close to putting pen to paper on an extension that will run through until July 2024.

- Calciomercato reports that Milan are planning talks with the representatives of Lille centre-back Sven Botman. The highly rated defender has been touted as a target for numerous clubs across Europe, most notably Newcastle United.

- Chelsea have not given up hope of tying Antonio Rudiger down to a new deal, according to Goal. It is claimed that the Germany international has been offered close to £200,000 a week to turn down interest from Real Madrid and PSG.

Gianluigi Donnarumma stands by his decision to leave Milan for Paris Saint-Germain despite having to share goalkeeping duties with Keylor Navas since arriving in France.

Italy's Euro 2020 hero Donnarumma has only made 10 league starts since joining PSG on a free transfer last year, while Costa Rican competitor Keylor Navas has appeared between the sticks in 13 of the side's Ligue 1 outings.

Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Donnarumma, who made 215 Serie A appearances at Milan after coming through the Rossoneri's youth ranks, thanked his former club for their role in his development, but stressed that he was happy with life at PSG.

"I can only thank the club for what they did for me", the 22-year-old said. "I improved as a man and as a footballer in Milan.

"I think PSG was in my destiny.

"They had been following me for many years and have always made sure I knew about their interest. Everyone at the club makes me feel important, from President Al-Khelaifi to director Leonardo. I am happy and proud to be here.

When asked about his competition with Navas, Donnarumma responded: "I knew that this was the situation when I signed with PSG.

"I don't know what he [Navas] thinks, but I am okay with it because everyone here always makes me feel important.

"It's not true that we are not on good terms, there is an excellent rapport between us, he is a good guy and there are no problems."

Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland and Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe remain arguably the two most sought-after players in world football.

The pair, who boast 43 goals in 50 games between them this season, have inevitably been linked with an array of Europe's top clubs ahead of the next transfer window.

And it may well be that one replaces the other at PSG in the coming months.


TOP STORY – HAALAND AMONG PSG TARGETS

L'Equipe reports that Haaland is one of a handful of players being eyed up by PSG, who are growing increasingly concerned that Mbappe will join Real Madrid on a free transfer.

However, the Ligue 1 giants are said to have made tying down Mbappe to fresh terms their main priority between now and the end of the season.

Should the World Cup winner depart, PSG would then have to see off competition from the likes of Madrid, Barcelona and several Premier League teams for Haaland's signature.

ROUND-UP

- Harry Kane failed in his attempt to force through a move from Tottenham last year, but Fabrizio Romano claims the striker is now happy to stay under Antonio Conte.

- After further enhancing his reputation by firing Senegal to Africa Cup of Nations glory, Goal reports that Sadio Mane is open to leaving Liverpool ahead of next season.

- According to Fabrizio Romano, Madrid are eager to finalise terms with Luka Modric over a new deal that will run through for an additional season until the end of 2022-23.

- Ajax are prepared to tempt Barcelona into allowing Sergino Dest to return to the club by offering Nicolas Tagliafico in exchange. That is according to reports from Spain.

- Calciomercato reports that Milan are close to agreeing a four-year extension for full-back Theo Hernandez, who is currently due to be out of contract in July 2024.

Karim Benzema leads the LaLiga scoring charts this term with 17 goals.

But Real Madrid are set to revamp their attacking options if transfer speculation is true.

Benzema turned 34 in December and is contracted until 2023.

TOP STORY – BENZEMA CONCERN ON MADRID FUTURE

Madrid top scorer Benzema has requested a meeting with president Florentino Perez over concerns on his future with Erling Haaland's potential addition, reports Onze.

Los Blancos are set to be bolstered by forwardKylian Mbappe's arrival in the off-season to form an attacking trio alongside Benzema and Vinicius Junior.

But Haaland's potential move from Borussia Dortmund has left Benzema fearing he may lose his spot.

ROUND-UP 

- Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger is being lined up by Bayern Munich as their ideal replacement for Niklas Sule, claims Fichajes. Sule has confirmed his exit to Borussia Dortmund for next season.

- Juventus have a new plan ahead of fresh contract talks with Paulo Dybala, according to Calciomercato. Dybala is unsigned beyond this season.

- Manchester United and Brazilian giants Flamengo have agreed to a £12m fee for the permanent sale of Andreas Pereira, reports Universo.

- Atletico Madrid, who are looking to replace the departed Kieran Trippier, are set to make a €30m offer for Aston Villa full-back Matty Cash, claims Mundo Deportivo.

- Calciomercato reports that Milan still have an eye on Club Brugge's Dutch talent Noa Lang.

Lionel Messi scored his first Ligue 1 goal since November as Paris Saint-Germain routed last season's champions Lille 5-1 at Stade Pierre Mauroy.

Ending a six-game drought in the competition, Messi produced a cunning finish for PSG's third goal, with Danilo Pereira netting twice and Presnel Kimpembe also on target before Kylian Mbappe's sumptuous 20-yard strike rounded off the scoring.

The Parisians' 1-0 defeat to Lille in April last season was a pivotal result in the title race, with Lille finishing a point clear of Mauricio Pochettino's team to be crowned champions.

Sunday night's result keeps Lille mired in mid-table this time around, while PSG hold a 13-point lead over second-placed Marseille.

The visitors took a 10th-minute lead when goalkeeper Ivo Grbic fumbled a cross from the left whipped in by Nuno Mendes, spilling the ball and allowing Pereira to poke home.

Messi curled wide from 20 yards for PSG, but it was Lille who snatched the game's second goal, Sven Botman beating Gianluigi Donnarumma with a bouncing shot from 10 yards after Hatem Ben Arfa made a nuisance of himself, wriggling into the box from the left flank.

PSG restored their lead in the 32nd minute when Messi's corner from the right was prodded in at the far post by Kimpembe, for the defender's first league goal this season.

Messi had his goal six minutes later when he collected the leftovers from an Mbappe charge, spotting a gap between Lille defenders and darting through before cheekily chipping Gbric.

PSG's fourth after 51 minutes saw Pereira's 25-yard strike deflect off Amadou Onana and deceive Grbic. 

There was then little the goalkeeper could do about Mbappe's classy finish, as the France star, stepping in from the left, curled the ball into the far-right corner for the visitors' crowning glory.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino says finding the right balance will be key when his side face Lille on Sunday.

The Ligue 1 leaders travel to Stade Pierre-Mauroy aiming to regain their 13-point cushion at the summit of the French top-flight.

PSG are also seeking a response from their Coupe de France exit at the hands of Nice time out, when on-loan goalkeeper Marcin Bulka's penalty shoot-out heroics denied his parent club.

Reigning champions Lille, who find themselves in 11th place following a disappointing attempt at a title defence, have only lost once in their last four home games against Pochettino's side.

And though PSG are nevertheless favourites to take three points, Pochettino knows that his team cannot go full-throttle in attack in every match, even with such supreme talent at their disposal.

"We are moving forward step by step, match by match," he said.

"Of course, we are disappointed with the last result and with the elimination from the Coupe de France on penalties against Nice. We lost and we have to accept it. 

"We want to get back into the swing of things, so playing a good team like Lille is a positive thing. 

"All the teams that play against Paris Saint-Germain are very motivated, so it will be complicated. 

"We will have to find the right balance between defending well, playing and being effective; that will be the key. 

"It will be important because there are three points at stake, and we want to keep our lead over our rivals. We have to move forward, we have several objectives ahead of us that require a lot of energy."

Neymar celebrated his 30th birthday on Saturday, yet the Brazil star is still recovering from injury, while Sergio Ramos, Mauro Icardi and Georginio Wijnaldum will all miss the trip, with Keylor Navas a doubt.

Manchester United's search for a new full-time manager continues.

Ralf Rangnick has been in interim charge at Old Trafford since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's dismissal in November.

English powerhouse United have failed to win any silverware since 2017

 

TOP STORY - MAN UTD CONFIDENT ON LANDING POCHETTINO

Manchester United have renewed confidence that they will land Paris Saint-Germain head coach Pochettino as their new boss, claims The Mirror.

The Argentine is understood to be United's number one candidate for the permanent role.

Footmercato claims Pochettino is tired of the constant criticism he has received at PSG and will not stay beyond this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City are on verge of tabling an offer to Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland to make him one of the highest paid players in the Premier League, according to Todofichajes.

- The Sun reports that Arsenal are planning for a £180 million off-season spend, with Real Sociedad's Alexander Isak, Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Wolves' Ruben Neves among their targets. However, this is dependent on Arsenal finishing top four.

- Chelsea will open pre-contract agreement talks with Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele after he failed to make a deadline day move, claims Sky Sports. 

- Chelsea are also eyeing a move for Real Madrid defender Eder Militao as they plan for the departures of Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger, according to AS.

- Juventus and Milan are leading the race to land Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo reports Sky Italia. Roma are looking to cash in Zaniolo in the off-season, with Tottenham also interested.

 

When the next transfer window opens, Erling Haaland's future will be a hot topic.

The 21-year-old striker has two years remaining on his Borussia Dortmund contract.

But there is a £65million (€75m) release clause that enables him to talk to clubs who can meet that valuation from this off-season.

 

TOP STORY - CITY READY TO RAMP UP HAALAND ADVANCES

El Chiringuito claim that Real Madrid's interest in signing Haaland has waned as they focus on landing Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain.

Madrid have been heavily linked with Haaland once his release clause becomes active, along with Barcelona, PSG, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City.

City "will do what they can" to persuade Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland to join them in the off-season despite believing they are not front-runners, reports The Athletic.

ROUND-UP

- ESPN claims that Manchester United have asked Paul Pogba to delay a decision on his future until they have appointed a permanent manager. Pogba's contract is up in June and he has been linked with PSG and Juventus.

- Chelsea have shortlisted West Ham United's Declan Rice, Sevilla's Jules Kounde and Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni as off-season targets, claims The Athletic.

- Newcastle United plan to re-ignite their interest in Lille's 22-year-old defender Sven Botman, who is worth £35m (€42m) according to The Mirror.

- Arsenal turned down approaches from Newcastle and Crystal Palace for Eddie Nketiah in the closing days of the January transfer window reports Fabrizio Romano. Nketiah has six months remaining on his Gunners deal and could sign a pre-contract elsewhere.

Mauricio Pochettino was made to rue Paris Saint-Germain's lack of creativity during their Coupe de France exit to Nice.

The holders crashed out of the competition as they lost 6-5 on penalties following a goalless draw at Parc des Princes.

PSG loanee Marcin Bulka was the hero during the shoot-out, saving penalties from Leandro Paredes and Xavi Simons to end his parent club's 14-match unbeaten streak in the competition.

Despite registering 10 attempts and 68.2 per cent of possession, Pochettino's side failed to score in the competition for the first time since defeat by Lille in the 2011 showpiece.

Pochettino urged his players to switch focus to their domestic and continental endeavours after a disappointing result.

"We were better than Nice overall," he said. "We didn't create enough chances to score goals and win this game before the penalties. 

"We should have been more efficient in the last few metres. Then, it's a lottery.

"Even though we were better, we didn't do what was necessary to win the game. 

"We must remain optimistic: we still have Ligue 1 and the Champions League as objectives."

Pochettino also defended his decision to start Kylian Mbappe on the bench, before introducing the France international in the 64th minute.

"Kylian Mbappe had physical discomfort in the last days few days," he added.

"With the advice of the medical staff, the agreement was that he would not start the match. If he needed to do 30 or 35 minutes in the game, he could do them."

Paris Saint-Germain crashed out of the Coupe de France as they were beaten 6-5 on penalties by Nice after a 0-0 draw at Parc des Princes.

Marcin Bulka was the hero as he denied Leandro Paredes and Xavi Simons in the shoot-out to send the visitors through to the quarter-finals.

The PSG loanee ended the holders' 14-match winning run in the competition, while halting their quest for a third straight triumph.

Mauricio Pochettino's side also failed to score in a Coupe de France tie for the first time since losing 1-0 to Lille in the 2011 final.

Unbeaten in their eight previous meetings with Nice in all competitions, PSG welcomed Lionel Messi back into the starting line-up for the first time in a month.

The Argentina skipper was involved in the hosts' best chance of the first half as he combined with Ander Herrera to tee up Marco Verratti, who swept a shot just wide of the far post.

At the other end, Amine Gouiri tried his luck with an ambitious effort from distance, but it flew straight into the arms of Gianluigi Donnarumma.

The Italy international was also called into action just after the restart, producing smart reflexes to deny Justin Kluivert from a tight angle.

Having watched his side register just a single shot on target, Pochettino introduced Kylian Mbappe in the 63rd minute for his 200th PSG appearance.

But it was the visitors who went close to snatching a dramatic winner, Danilo Pereira blocking Kluivert with five minutes remaining, while Jean-Clair Todibo got in the way of Messi's goalbound effort at the other end.

The first five kicks of the subsequent shoot-out were successful before Bulka kept out Paredes' tame effort, although Donnarumma immediately denied Andy Delort in return.

Dante's timely Panenka put Nice in control as it went into sudden death, before Simons' attempt was beaten away by Bulka.

Ousmane Dembele's future at Barcelona has been uncertain for months.

The 24-year-old has stalled on a new deal with the Catalans.

Dembele has attracted interest from several top clubs, meaning his signature looms for deadline day.

TOP STORY – MAN UTD TO HIJACK PSG'S DEMBELE MOVE

Manchester United are set to make a deadline-day move for Barcelona's Dembele, according to Footmercato.

The Red Devils could hijack Paris Saint-Germain's plans, with the Ligue 1 club having already verbally agreed to a deal with the French winger.

United are ready to move, with Anthony Martial loaned out and Donny van de Beek and Jesse Lingard also set to exit.

 

ROUND-UP

- Arsenal outcast Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has agreed to a deal to join Barcelona, according to Sport, but Dembele must exit the Catalans to enable the move to be completed.

- Real Madrid have opted against a January move for Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni, claims Diario Sport, due to their €80m asking price.

- Talksport claims that Tottenham's Giovani Lo Celso will join Spanish club Villarreal on loan for the rest of the season. Lyon were also interested in the Argentina international.

- Portuguese midfielder Renato Sanches has opted against a €25 million move from Lille to Milan, according to Calciomercato.

- Newcastle United's January spending is not over as the club eyes deadline-day deals for Aston Villa's Matt Targett and Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah, reports The Telegraph.

- Newcastle are set to land Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson on loan, claims Talksport.

- Struggling Spanish club Getafe are interested in free agent Diego Costa, according to Marca.

- Dele Alli could join Milan on loan from Tottenham, reports Gazzetta dello Sport.

Sergio Ramos has sustained another calf injury that casts early doubt on the Paris Saint-Germain centre-back being fit to face his former side Real Madrid in the Champions League.

The 35-year-old has been hampered by a series of niggling issues since arriving at PSG from Madrid, where he had spent the previous 16 seasons.

He played a part in PSG's last two matches, but a low-grade muscle problem suffered in training on Thursday could see the defender facing another spell on the sidelines.

PSG confirmed the news on their website on Sunday, with further tests planned for the middle of next week, and Mauricio Pochettino is unsure how long Ramos will miss.

"You never know with an injury. You have to follow the evolution. We don't know the duration of his unavailability," Pochettino said at a news conference.

Ligue 1 leaders PSG are set to host Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on February 15, before travelling to the Spanish capital three weeks later.

Ramos has played just five times for Pochettino's side in all competitions since arriving in July, totalling 284 minutes of action on the field.

The 15 LaLiga games Ramos started in 2020-21 was the fewest he managed in a campaign for Madrid and a big drop from the 35 games started the season before.

Indeed, he played just eight matches in all competitions at club level in 2021, while his last appearance for Spain was against Kosovo last March.

 

PSG will also be without forward Neymar and midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum for Monday's Coupe de France last-16 tie with Nice.

Wijnaldum is expected to return from an ankle sprain at the end of next week, while Neymar – who has not played since November – will be further assessed on Monday.

However, Pochettino can still call upon superstars Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi for the cup match.

Messi has had a chance to work on his fitness this week, having not been included in Argentina's latest squad after recently being struck down by coronavirus.

And ahead of the Nice match, Pochettino has been encouraged by what he has seen from compatriot Messi.

"We are very happy with what Leo has done in training this week," Pochettino said. "He has trained well. He is in good condition to start.

"For Kylian, it's a question of complicity. Their connection is starting to see each other. They are two very great footballers.

"It's been a good week of work. I'm happy because we were able to work on the tactics, not just the physical side. We hope that this work will be seen by the end of the season."

Erling Haaland remains tight-lipped on his plans for his future.

The 21-year-old Norway forward has drawn widespread interest after two outstanding years at Borussia Dortmund.

Haaland appears destined to exit BVB later this year but has a decision to make.

TOP STORY – BARCELONA LOOMS AS HAALAND'S PREFERRED MOVE

Haaland is holding off on a decision on his club future to see if Barcelona can raise the required €360million to put together a package for the striker, reports the Daily Star.

The report claims Borussia Dortmund representatives believe Barcelona is Haaland's preferred destination.

The 21-year-old also has interest from Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea .

 

ROUND-UP

- CBS Sports claims Saudi Arabia's  Al Nassr  have lodged a final bid for Arsenal outcast  Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang , with the deal matching his Gunners salary and including a break clause after 12 months that would allow him to return to Europe. Gerard Romero claims  Barcelona have reached an agreement with Arsenal to sign Aubameyang, although the Blaugrana must offload Ousmane Dembele  first.

- Atletico Madrid are unwilling to allow Alvaro Morata to join rivals Barcelona ,   claims Sport. Morata is on loan at Juventus from Atletico amid talk of a switch to the Blaugrana, with Arsenal , Newcastle United and Tottenham also linked to the Spain striker.

Dejan Kulusevski  is set to be loaned from Juventus to  Tottenham ,   with the two clubs in advanced talks on a deal, according to Fabrizio Romano. The deal would include an option to buy.

- The Daily Star reports likely new Everton manager Frank Lampard will block  Dominic Calvert-Lewin 's proposed move to  Arsenal .

- Goal claims top-four hopefuls  West Ham  have made dual bids for Leeds United pair  Kalvin Phillips  and  Raphinha . The Sun claims the Hammers' bid for Phillips is worth £50m.

Dusan Vlahovic has drawn interest from Juventus, Arsenal and Tottenham among others.

The 21-year-old has 18 months remaining on his contract and Fiorentina are keen to maximise their profit on him.

Vlahovic has netted 38 goals in the past 18 months in Serie A.

TOP STORY – FRESH TALKS ON VLAHOVIC DEAL

Juventus are set for fresh talks on Thursday on a deal to sign Fiorentina's Vlahovic, reports Fabrizio Romano.

The Serbia striker has attracted plenty of interest but an agreement between the Bianconeri and Fiorentina is in place.

The stumbling block is Vlahovic's final contract and agent's fees, with a deal potentially set to trigger Alvaro Morata's exit to Barcelona, although Romano claims there are no new talks on that.

 

ROUND-UP

- Goal claims that Barcelona are working on a plan to raise €100million (£83m) in funds to lure Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland to the Catalan club. The Blaugrana are determined to win the race to sign Haaland despite interest from wealthy giants Real MadridManchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

- Bayern Munich's 32-year-old forward Thomas Muller has drawn interest from Newcastle United and Everton as he approaches the final year of his contract, claims Sport Bild.

- L'Equipe claims that Bruno Guimaraes had told Lyon he wants to join Newcastle after the Magpies tabled a bid.

- The Sun reports that Manchester United have put their search for a new manager on hold as they consider whether to make Ralf Rangnick's stay permanent.

- Staying at United, numerous reports in England suggest Jesse Lingard is angry with the club as their demands have put off Newcastle's attempt to sign the player on loan.

- Ousmane Dembele wants to stay at Barcelona after all, according to Sport. The France international's representatives met with Barca boss Xavi this week.

- Tottenham's Tanguy Ndombele is set to join Valencia on loan, reports Telefoot.

Brazil duo Neymar and Vinicius Jr could thrive in the same starting XI, despite both forwards preferring to play in the same position, according to Juninho.

While Neymar is out injured, Vinicius has been called up for Brazil's World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Paraguay over the coming week.

Vinicius has only made nine appearances for Brazil and is yet to score for his country, only starting twice – against Chile in September and Argentina in November respectively.

Up until this season, the Real Madrid winger had struggled for consistency, but under the tutelage of Carlo Ancelotti, he has thrived for Los Blancos.

Only Karim Benzema (33) has more direct goal contributions for Madrid in all competitions than Vinicius, who has scored 15 times and provided eight assists.

 

Neymar, meanwhile, has had another stuttering season with Paris Saint-Germain, making just 14 appearances in all competitions and completing 90 minutes only nine times.

However, should he be fit, Neymar will no doubt be Brazil's main man heading to Qatar in November.

With Vinicius in such fine form, though, his place in Tite's squad also seems a certainty, and asked if the attackers - who both play predominantly from the left wing in a 4-3-3 formation - could feature together, Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) director Juninho believes there is no reason why not.

"The two of them can play together," Juninho told Spanish radio show El Larguero.

"Vinicius shows his quality at Madrid and is beginning to show it for the national team now.

"He's improving every game. Now he's been playing very well for a while.

"Like [Philippe] Coutinho or [Lucas] Paqueta, they can also play together."

Juninho may be convinced Neymar and Vinicius fit into the same side, but neither would be suited to playing in a central role in Tite's preferred 4-3-3 system, while both are at their best when given the freedom to drift inside from the left, rather than the right.

 

Neymar is having a poor season in terms of end product. He has only scored three goals (and one of those was a penalty) and provided as many assists, while he has also underperformed his expected goals (xG) of 4.3, suggesting his finishing has been below par.

Vinicius, on the other hand, has outperformed his xG (12), averaging a goal every 169 minutes for Madrid.

The 21-year-old has also created 64 chances in comparison to Neymar's 28. However, when assessed per 90 minutes, the former Barcelona star crafts 2.1 opportunities, which is not far behind Vinicius' 2.3.

Neymar is also a more proficient dribbler, completing 3.6 dribbles per 90 minutes in comparison to Vinicius' 3.4, while he also creates 0.5 big chances per 90, as opposed to the Madrid man's 1.6.

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