Paul Pogba intends to remain at Manchester United and win trophies but the club must form a clear identity, according to the midfielder's agent Mino Raiola.

France international Pogba is into the final 18 months of his contract and has been strongly linked with a move away from Old Trafford ahead of the January transfer window.

The 26-year-old attracted interest from Real Madrid earlier this year, but Raiola insists his client - who returned to United from Juventus in 2016 - will not force through an exit.

"I think that Paul really went home," Raiola told The Telegraph. "Paul could have gone elsewhere [in 2016], but he really chose with his heart, to go home.

"Paul wants to be successful and happy and wants to win prizes and he would love to do that with Manchester United. Okay, there was big interest from Real Madrid and Manchester didn't let him go.

"We didn't make a fuss about it and he didn't make a fuss about it because I work in accordance with the player. You know other players can bring things to extreme but Paul doesn't like that. So you work differently."

Pogba, who has not featured since September due to a foot injury, has been heavily criticised by a number of United legends for some indifferent displays.

However, Raiola hit out at the likes of Gary Neville for singling out the World Cup-winning midfielder, who has won the EFL Cup and Europa League since returning to Old Trafford.

"There was an interest from Real Madrid but [United] didn't let him go and I'm sorry because I think that Paul being French, [Zinedine] Zidane is an important factor in French football history. 

"But Paul is not the guy I hear about from Neville and all the frustrated ex-players who say, 'he should be ashamed of this, ashamed of that'. Ashamed of what? He is working every day and doing his best. 

"He's not complaining there is no Champions League. Is he perfect? Nobody is. Is he also responsible for failure? He feels so. If you are in a team you are responsible for failure."

While being content at Old Trafford, Raiola feels United can do more to support Pogba by appointing a sporting director to oversee transfer matters.

"The club needs a specialist, a sports director, someone between the team, the coach and the owners, someone who can bridge the sides," he said.

"Today you need that specialist because the coach has no time to manage scouts and other tasks and I feel that is lacking at Manchester United.

"In truth I look at Manchester United and think that they have more an American mentality than a European one.

"By that I mean that sometimes it seems the club is more concerned about the economic part than the sports part and that is a very American way of thinking. They need someone to connect the economic side and the sports side.

"Players that make a team, that fit it, that fit a philosophy, and Manchester United in this way is looking for a philosophy.”

Mikel Arteta's high standing among the Arsenal faithful from his days as a player at Emirates Stadium will only take him so far if he fails to hit the ground running as head coach of the Gunners.

The amiable Spaniard, confirmed in the job on Friday, served the club with distinction during five years between 2011 and 2016, winning a couple of FA Cups along the way.

Since then, he has cut his coaching teeth working as assistant under the stewardship of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, playing a big role in their domestic dominance in the last two seasons.

But it is an entirely different scenario for Arteta now he is taking the hotseat with an Arsenal side languishing a disappointing 10th in the Premier League, seven points adrift of the Champions League places.

The experiment under Unai Emery failed and below we look at five things Arteta must address now he has the reins.
 

DEFENSIVE WOES HAVE GOT TO GO

The Gunners once boasted perhaps the most well-drilled back-line in English football, but the same cannot be said of the current crop.

What is clear, however, is that Arsenal's defensive issues – a phrase that somewhat undersells the extent of their troubles – extend beyond the rearguard unit itself.

Emery's Arsenal lacked shape, discipline, awareness and, it must be said, apparent desire. Players often seemed lost, while opponents found and exploited space with ease.

It was not just without the ball that Arsenal's defensive frailties were exposed, as on numerous occasions their attempts to play out from the back were thwarted by a loose touch or stray pass. 

Under Emery, Arsenal managed just 10 clean sheets in 51 top-flight matches and things did not improve under interim boss Freddie Ljungberg in that regard, with the Gunners shipping eight in four league encounters.

Arteta must devise a system to reverse an alarming trend.

MAKE A DECISION ON MESUT

On his day, Mesut Ozil is one of the greatest and most creative number 10s on the planet. The problem is those days are becoming increasingly few and far between.

The German endured what looked like an uneasy relationship with Emery and found himself in and out of the team. His petulant reaction to being subbed against Manchester City last weekend will have done his cause no favours either.

Arteta now has a big decision on his hands. Does he keep Ozil around in north London and try and eke out the undoubted talent the World Cup winner possesses, or cut his losses and allow him to leave in January?

Either way, Arteta cannot afford to dilly-dally on the issue. A tough decision has to be made on Ozil's Arsenal future.

KEEP AUBAMEYANG AND OTHER TOP TALENT HAPPY

Despite their struggles, Arsenal boast players who many of their Premier League rivals would dearly love to have on their books.

Chief among them is captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has been a reliable source of goals since arriving from Borussia Dortmund in January last year.

Such exploits, allied with Arsenal's relative under-performance, have put him firmly on the radar of potential suitors.

With reports circulating that Aubameyang is stalling on contract talks in London, assuaging his concerns must sit high on the to-do list of Arsenal's new boss.

Keeping the Gabon international on board might also provide a boost for other flagging stars, like strike partner Alexandre Lacazette.

PEPE PEP TALK

Speaking of top talent, the case of Nicolas Pepe is a curious one that needs solving fast.

He surpassed Aubameyang as Arsenal's most expensive signing when he joined from Lille in August, but has failed to fire so far.

With only two league goals to his name, the full value of what Pepe has to offer has not come close to being realised.

But if that potential can be unlocked, and there were hints of it being so under Ljungberg, Arsenal will have another tremendous goalscoring threat at their disposal.

A Pepe pep talk should be among Arteta's first duties.

CONNECT WITH THE FANS

The frustration among Arsenal's fan base has long been felt, preceding even the arrival of Emery.

For a while under Wenger there was a widespread perception the club lacked ambition and direction, with few signs of positive change to cling to.

The reaction of Granit Xhaka when he responded with disgust to jeers from the stands after being replaced in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace marked a low point in the relationship between the fans and their team. Xhaka was soon stripped of the armband.

Ultimately, results will speak loudest in making a connection with the faithful, but a manager who can take on the burden of their anger and work towards appeasing it will be well received in north London.

Arteta must also be able to manage upwards, knowing much of the unrest among supporters relates to the way the club is run at boardroom level.

Arsene Wenger's legacy in world football is very apparent, with the number of his former players who are becoming managers rising all the time.

The latest addition to an ever-growing list is Mikel Arteta, who has been appointed as Arsenal's successor to Unai Emery.

Arteta spent five years playing under Wenger at Emirates Stadium, winning a couple of FA Cups during that time.

The Spaniard has a tough task on his hands as he prepares to take over an Arsenal side lying 10th and seven points adrift of the top four in the Premier League.

As Arteta prepares to begin his new venture, we take a look at how other Wenger proteges managed when they swapped the pitch for the dugout.

 

TONY ADAMS

A four-time champion in England's top flight and Arsenal's captain fantastic in Wenger's early years in charge, Adams has not quite matched those lofty standards as a coach.

He had a year at Wycombe Wanderers and a little over three months at Portsmouth, with both spells pretty miserable. When Granada came calling in April 2017 in a desperate bid to avoid relegation from LaLiga, Adams took charge for seven matches and lost all of them.

SOL CAMPBELL

Campbell was another centre-back extraordinaire under Wenger after his acrimonious move from Tottenham, and was only converted to the world of management in November 2018.

The 45-year-old chose a real challenge for his first appointment, taking over Macclesfield Town, who were languishing bottom of League Two before Campbell steered them to a great escape.

He left the financially stricken club in August of this year and has now taken on another ambitious project in the form of League One strugglers Southend United, who have just seven points from 21 matches this term.

REMI GARDE

He only spent three years playing under Wenger before retiring in 1999, winning the Premier League the year before, but it was not until 2011 that Garde took up his first head coach role with Lyon.

Under Garde, Lyon won the Coupe de France in 2012 and the Trophee des Champions in the same year, before he took over at Aston Villa in November 2015. He only lasted until the following March. He was most recently in charge of Montreal Impact before being sacked in August.

OLEG LUZHNY

Luzhny won a Premier League title under Wenger before stints with Wolves and Latvian side Venta, where he became player-coach for a spell in 2005.

After hanging up his boots for good, the former Ukraine international became assistant at Dynamo Kiev and was twice interim head coach before landing the top job at Tavriya Simferopol in 2012. He is now back in Kiev as an assistant again.

PAUL MERSON

Although his finest years as a Gunner preceded Wenger's arrival, Merson did play under the Frenchman for a year before he had spells with Middlesbrough, Aston Villa and Portsmouth.

After joining as a player in 2003, Merson became Walsall manager a year later, but constant line-up changes and supporter unrest led to him being sacked after a 5-0 thrashing by Brentford in February 2006. He is now a television pundit and columnist in the UK.

DAVID PLATT

Platt was approaching the end of a storied career when Wenger took over and the midfielder left after the manager's first two years in charge. He was briefly Sampdoria boss but resigned after six matches, with other Serie A clubs angry that he was appointed without coaching qualifications.

A player-manager spell with Nottingham Forest followed, before three years in charge of England Under-21s. After three years on Manchester City's staff, he spent a year in India with Pune City, and is now part of a consortium that has bought Palermo.

GIOVANNI VAN BRONCKHORST

Van Bronckhorst won the Premier League and FA Cup under Wenger before leaving for four successful years with Barcelona in 2003 - a spell that included a Champions League final triumph over the Gunners. He then returned to boyhood club Feyenoord, finishing his career in 2010.

After a year in charge of Netherlands' Under-21 team, he went back to Feyenoord and worked as assistant coach for four years before taking the top job in 2015. Five domestic trophies – including an Eredivisie title – followed before he departed after the 2018-19 campaign, and he has been tipped for big things. 

PATRICK VIEIRA

An inspirational skipper under Wenger and the leader during a time when Arsenal were at the forefront of English football battling Manchester United. 

Vieira went on to have spells with Juventus, Inter and Manchester City before turning his hand to coaching with New York City, where he spent two years before returning to France to coach Nice. He led the club to seventh last term but they find themselves in 14th after 18 matches so far this campaign.

THIERRY HENRY

Arguably the greatest player to have featured under Wenger for the Gunners, Henry is a Premier League great who became Arsenal's all-time record goalscorer before treading a familiar path to Barcelona.

He later returned to north London for a short loan spell from New York Red Bulls and was appointed assistant coach to Roberto Martinez with Belgium in 2016.

Henry's first stint as a head coach was a disappointing one, winning just four of 20 matches in charge of Monaco – the club where he started his playing career. The France legend will hope for more success in his new venture with Montreal Impact.

Mikel Arteta will bid to bring back the spark to Arsenal after being appointed head coach of the Premier League club on a three-and-a-half-year contract.

Confirmation of his decision to leave Manchester City and return to the club where he ended his playing days came on Friday as Arsenal announced the widely expected move.

The Spaniard spent three and a half years as assistant to compatriot Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium, and City were keen for Arteta to stay with them.

He looked primed as a strong contender to one day succeed Guardiola, but Arteta was not prepared to wait for the chance to take charge of a Premier League club.

The 37-year-old will take up his new position on Sunday, the day after Arsenal face Everton - another of his former clubs - in the Premier League.

This is a huge honour," said Arteta. "Arsenal is one of the biggest clubs in the world. We need to be competing for the top trophies in the game and that's been made very clear to me in my discussions with Stan and Josh Kroenke, and the senior people from the club.

"We all know there is a lot of work to be done to achieve that but I am confident we'll do it. I'm realistic enough to know it won't happen overnight but the current squad has plenty of talent and there is a great pipeline of young players coming through from the academy."

Arsenal have drifted to 10th place in the Premier League after 17 games. They sit seven points shy of the Champions League places, having also missed out on a top-four finish last season.

Arteta succeeds another Spaniard, Unai Emery, who was installed in May 2018 when Arsene Wenger's 22-year reign came to an end.

Arsenal bided their time before making a play for Arteta, initially putting former Gunners midfielder Freddie Ljungberg in charge when Emery left on November 29.

The Swede struggled to make a case for keeping the job in the long term, though, with his five games in charge to date yielding just one victory, a 3-1 success at West Ham in the Premier League.

Ljungberg, who will remain at the helm for the Everton game, urged Arsenal to hurry up and make an appointment after Sunday's 3-0 blitzing by City, when Arteta had a close-at-hand view of the shortcomings at Emirates Stadium.

In the early hours of the following morning, senior officials from Arsenal were pictured leaving Arteta's home, having seemingly settled on him as their preferred choice.

City were said to be unhappy with the manner of the approach, but Guardiola made it clear he would not stand in Arteta's way.

Former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira had also been linked with the post, while Brendan Rodgers effectively ruled himself out of the running by signing a lucrative new five-and-a-half-year deal with high-flying Leicester.

The Emery era will not be fondly remembered, with the former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain boss brought in to refresh a flagging playing squad but proving unable to improve the team's fortunes.

A Europa League run masked some of Arsenal's failings last season, until they were thumped 4-1 by Chelsea in the final. Losing Aaron Ramsey on a free transfer to Juventus was another major blow.

Arteta inherits a squad containing plenty of attacking quality from the likes of Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette; however, Wenger and Emery alike struggled to build a reliable spine to the team, and that will be a priority for the new boss.

Mikel Arteta is in London to finalise a deal to become the new Arsenal head coach, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed.

Arteta has long been tipped to succeed Unai Emery at Emirates Stadium but the move has reportedly been held up due to disagreements between the two clubs over a compensation package.

However, Guardiola says the man who has been his assistant at City for the past three years is close to becoming the Gunners' new boss.

"Mikel is in London," Guardiola said on Friday. "He is close to doing a deal with Arsenal. That's what I know.

"It's almost done. Yesterday, he didn't train. He didn't train today."

Guardiola also suggested City would not appoint a replacement for Arteta this season, adding: "We stay with the same people that are here."

Arteta spent the final five years of his playing career with Arsenal and Guardiola says he could not stand in the way of the 37-year-old's "dream" of taking charge in north London.

"He decided to move there and when you have dreams you cannot stop it. You have to follow your dreams," Guardiola said.

"Arsenal was a big part of his career. It's one of the best teams in England and I wish him all the best. I'm pretty sure he will do an excellent job."

Interim coach Freddie Ljungberg is expected to be in charge of Arsenal's Premier League game against Everton on Saturday, although it has been suggested Arteta could attend the match at Goodison Park, where he played for six-and-a-half years before his move to the Gunners.

After Everton away, Arsenal's next match is at home to Bournemouth on December 26.

Sead Kolasinac is facing several weeks on the sidelines after Arsenal confirmed he suffered ankle ligament damage against Manchester City.

Kolasinac hobbled off in the first half of his side's 3-0 defeat to City last weekend.

In an injury update on their official website on Friday, Arsenal revealed the 26-year-old defender is "aiming to return to full training in January".

Arsenal are already without fellow left-back Kieran Tierney until March after the Scotland international underwent surgery on his dislocated shoulder earlier this week.

And in a further blow for the Gunners ahead of Saturday's Premier League meeting with Everton, Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Mesut Ozil are all fitness doubts.

Bellerin (hamstring) and Holding (knee) played no part in the defeat to City, while Ozil injured his right foot prior to being withdrawn in the second half.

Dani Ceballos is aiming to return to training next week after missing Arsenal's last six Premier League games, while Granit Xhaka is available for selection after recovering from the concussion he sustained against West Ham.

Arsenal are 10th in the Premier League ahead of their trip to Goodison Park, seven points adrift of the top four.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists Manchester United will not sell Paul Pogba in the January transfer window.

Pogba has made just six appearances in all competitions this season, having not featured since a 1-1 draw with Arsenal on September 30.

The France midfielder has been struggling with a foot injury, but he is expected to make his return over the Christmas period.

With 18 months remaining on his current deal, Pogba – signed for £89.3million from Juventus in 2016 – has been linked with a move away from Old Trafford and long-term admirers Real Madrid are among the reported suitors.

But Solskjaer, who brought up a year in charge of United on Thursday, is adamant Pogba will be going nowhere in January.

"He's a fantastic player, charismatic personality, and for us we're happy that he's here," Solskjaer told a news conference ahead of Sunday's meeting with Watford.

"There's all these hypotheticals. I've just answered he's not going to go."

Asked what Pogba can do to stop the speculation over his future, Solskjaer believes the best method would be for the 26-year-old to do his talking on the pitch.

"When he comes back, play well, play with a smile on his face and do what he did a year ago when I came here," Solskjaer said.

"Paul's been fantastic when he's played for us. We know we've got one of the best players in the world when he's playing well. He needs time to get fit of course but he'll make a difference for us."

Pressed on whether Pogba could make his comeback before the New Year, Solskjaer added: "I hope so. Let's see how he feels.

"I'm not going to push him, of course. We need him to be 100 per cent fit, I can't risk any setbacks.

"He's training but he's not been training with us for long. He's training and that's a step forward for us."

While Pogba will not be leaving, Solskjaer acknowledged some fringe players in United's squad could be the subject of interest.

"Always a chance of it," he said when asked if there would be January departures.  

"I can say 99.99 per cent sure they won't go but there's always a chance teams will be interested in some of ours. Maybe they're not happy they've not played enough."

Erling Haaland may be flying to Manchester on Friday, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the United transfer target is only passing through for a Christmas holiday.

United fans thought they might be getting an early Christmas present when reports emerged in Norway on Friday morning of Salzburg striker Haaland boarding a flight bound for Manchester with his father and former City midfielder Alf-Inge.

Solskjaer, who coached Haaland at Molde, has already confirmed his interest in signing the teenage striker, who has scored 28 goals in 22 games across all competitions this season.

However, while the United boss was aware of his flight, he explained it was not business-related.

"I don't think he's en route here [to United], to be fair, not through me anyway," Solskjaer said at a news conference.

"I can't comment on teams' players, I've said that many a time. That's just one of them things. In this job you get so much speculation all the time."

Solskjaer later expanded on Haaland's travel plans, adding: "He's not coming to Manchester.

"I know the boy and I know his friends. He's on a Christmas holiday.

"You can't fly anywhere from Stavanger so you need to go via [somewhere]."

Haaland has already spoken with RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund about a possible January switch, and Solskjaer said earlier this week that the player "knows what he wants to do" with regards to his future.

Toby Alderweireld has signed a new deal with Tottenham until 2023 to end prolonged speculation over his future, the Premier League club have confirmed.

Centre-back Alderweireld was into the final six months of his previous terms and had been tipped to leave at the end of the season.

However, the Belgium international, who joined Spurs from Atletico Madrid in 2015, has now put pen to paper on a fresh contract, in a huge boost to recently appointed head coach Jose Mourinho.

Alderweireld played in 50 of Tottenham's 58 matches last season, including 12 out of 13 games in their run to the Champions League final.

He has also been a mainstay in the backline this term, starting 16 out of 17 Premier League fixtures.

After committing his long-term future to Tottenham, the 30-year-old defender told his club's official website: "I'm very happy. No words can describe it.

"Another couple of years with Spurs - there's no place I can be happier. I'm honoured to be at this club and I'm a small piece of the puzzle to take this club to the next level. This is just the beginning of something big and something exciting."

Ajax academy product Alderweireld was one of three key Spurs players due to be out of contract at the end of the season, along with Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen.

The futures of Vertonghen and Eriksen remain unclear, but Alderweireld insists there is nowhere he would rather be.

"If you're happy and enjoying yourself time will fly. My family are also very happy here and I have had a good connection with the fans from the beginning," he added.

"Everyone knows my connection with Ajax, but now I'm a Spurs player and I cannot see myself playing for another team. It works both ways - the club likes me and I love the club, the fans, the stadium. It's like I'm living some sort of dream.

"From the moment I came here they accepted me and we have become friends. We really work for each other and can achieve big things. We could not have achieved the things we have over the last few years if you're not a very good group.

"We have gone from young players into adults and now it's time to become even better. We want to finish in the top four to reach the Champions League again. We showed last season we can beat any team on our day so there are exciting times to come. We are going in the right direction."

Mikel Arteta looks to be on his way out of Manchester City, and it may not be long before he is followed by Pep Guardiola.

That is if reports linking Paris Saint-Germain with a move for the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich head coach are to be believed.

Meanwhile, Arteta is not the only big managerial appointment expected imminently in the Premier League, with Carlo Ancelotti close to being confirmed as Everton boss, and reports suggest a big-name could be in line to follow the Italian to Goodison Park.

 

TOP STORY – GUARDIOLA LINED UP BY PSG

According to Le10 Sport, Paris Saint-Germain will look to swap Thomas Tuchel with Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola next season.

Guardiola is currently under contract with City until 2021, though has said he is open to extending his deal. However, these reports claim PSG will aim to bring in the Spaniard, along with former Barca star Xavi, who will act as his number two.

While City are 14 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool, PSG are top of Ligue 1 and will face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last 16.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Sun claims Mauricio Pochettino is holding off on making any commitment to Real Madrid as he waits to see how Guardiola's situation at Manchester City plays out.

- According to The Telegraph, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is open to linking up with former boss Carlo Ancelotti at Everton. Ancelotti is reportedly set to be appointed by the Toffees and Ibrahimovic – who has been linked to Milan and Napoli – could follow him to Merseyside.

Mesut Ozil is close to securing a loan move from Arsenal to Fenerbahce in January, according to Turkish newspaper Fotomac.

- Madrid winger Vinicius Jr. has been linked with a move to the Premier League. El Desmarque reports Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Wolves are all interested in the Brazilian.

- Another potential outgoing from Arsenal could be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with The Mirror saying one of Arteta's first tasks will be to convince the Gunners' captain to stay put.

- Sky Sports reports Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs are all monitoring Lille forward Victor Osimhen, who has scored nine Ligue 1 goals this term.

- Inter great Dejan Stankovic is poised to become head coach of Serbian champions Red Star Belgrade. After Vladan Milojevic stepped down on Thursday, reports in Serbia claim the former Red Star midfielder will be unveiled on Friday. This is set to be Stankovic's first senior job.

Tottenham are considering a January move for Leicester City full-back Ricardo Pereira, says Het Nieuwsblad.

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah is displaying a similar level of quality to Lionel Messi, according to former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

Salah has won the Premier League's Golden Boot award for the past two seasons - although he shared it with club team-mate Sadio Mane and Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in 2018-19 - and the 27-year-old already has 13 goals to his name in all competitions this season.

The former Roma forward has also provided seven assists, a tally which includes teeing up Naby Keita's opening goal in Liverpool's 2-1 win over Monterrey in the Club World Cup semi-finals on Wednesday.

With the Egyptian stepping into a playmaker role as well as being an unerringly accurate finisher, Wenger believes Salah is now showing flashes of play on the same level as Barcelona superstar and 2019 Ballon d'Or winner Messi.

"I like his evolution," Wenger told beIN Sports. "Because he had touches [against Monterrey] of a playmaker.

"He created chances around the box that are exceptional, there were shades of Messi in him and I like that a guy who can score so many goals also becomes the guy who gives assists.

"That is a complete player. That's what we all admire and what we want from our players."

Wenger was speaking in a joint interview with Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp, who echoed the Frenchman's sentiment.

"Very good, very good experiences [with Salah] but the most positive was on the training ground – sensationally good," Klopp said. "On the pitch he's great, really, really good."

Liverpool take on Copa Libertadores champions Flamengo in the Club World Cup final on Saturday.

Liverpool's Sadio Mane deserved to win this year's Ballon d'Or, according to former Manchester City and Barcelona star Yaya Toure.

Lionel Messi scooped a record sixth Ballon d'Or earlier in December, edging out Mane's club-mate Virgil van Dijk.

However, Toure believes Mane - who scored 26 goals in all competitions last term as Liverpool finished second in the Premier League and won the Champions League - should have claimed the prize.

"To be honest he deserved to win the Ballon d'Or. In Africa we don't see any better players than him," Toure told reporters in Doha, where he is a guest of FIFA at the Club World Cup.

"Did you see the votes, did you see what he did in the last year, how many goals he scored, what he achieved with Liverpool?

"For me it is a shame when a team wins this trophy (the Champions League) and the winner of the Ballon d'Or is not coming from there."

Liverpool currently hold a 10-point advantage over Leicester City at the top of the Premier League and are 14 points clear of third-place Manchester City, and Toure acknowledged the Reds - who are unbeaten in the league - would be worthy champions.

"Liverpool are great, they are doing very well and they deserve their position at the moment," he said.

"There is a long way to go but Liverpool are a good side and they look much stronger than last year. The way I see City is their form this year has been quite complicated but, 10 points in front, Liverpool have a good, good chance.

"When you see the league today there are a few teams who are quite disappointing, like Arsenal and a couple of others, but Liverpool have the chance to have the honours this year."

Having overcome Monterrey 2-1 on Wednesday, Liverpool face Flamengo on Saturday in the Club World Cup final.

Mauricio Pochettino could one day return to Tottenham for a second spell at the helm, chairman Daniel Levy has suggested.

Pochettino – who guided Spurs to four successive top-four finishes in the Premier League, as well as last season's Champions League final – was sacked in November following a poor start to the campaign.

Jose Mourinho was swiftly appointed his successor, with Spurs winning five of their seven matches since in all competitions.

Levy made the call to dismiss Pochettino, but hinted it does not necessarily mean the end of the Argentine's association with Spurs, who established themselves as one of the Premier League's elite clubs under his guidance.

"You have to understand I had built up a personal relationship with Mauricio over five and a half years," Levy told the Evening Standard.

"It is not something I ever wanted. Personally, it was incredibly difficult, I told him that and he understood.

"He's been in football [a long time], he understands. It's not personal and I'm sure he'll come back stronger and get an opportunity to manage another great club. Maybe one day he'll come back to us.

"I'm not going to sit here and analyse the past. It's not productive. Mauricio did a fantastic job for us, we are very grateful. I wish him all the best for the future.

"I'm still in contact with him. My relationship is very good with him. It just got to the point where it felt we needed a divorce."

Spurs wasted little time in bringing in Mourinho and, though Levy confirmed other options were considered, the Portuguese was always the club's top priority.

"Many years ago, I can't remember exactly, we were linked with him," said Levy. "But I'd never spoken to Jose. We never had a conversation. And his availability was totally unrelated to Mauricio, not connected at all.

"I can't remember when I first spoke to Jose, but once I made the decision in my mind we had to make the change, although internally we knew of more than one candidate who would have been interested, Jose was absolutely number one.

"We had a number of discussions. Firstly, it was such a hard decision and you never know what you are really getting until you work with somebody.

"There are lots of perceptions out there in relation to Jose that I'm not sure are true. I wanted to spend some time with him so we were totally aligned, on the basis there was no point him coming to a club where he expected different things to us. And we were totally aligned on the strategy going forward."

Everton have confirmed Duncan Ferguson will remain in charge for Saturday's Premier League clash with Arsenal at Goodison Park, as Carlo Ancelotti's appointment reportedly draws closer.

Ferguson has been in interim control since Marco Silva was dismissed on December 5 in the wake of a 5-2 hammering at the hands of Merseyside rivals Liverpool.

Fan favourite Ferguson led the Toffees to a 3-1 victory over Chelsea in his first match, before claiming a 1-1 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford, though his winning run came to an end on Wednesday as Everton exited the EFL Cup with a 4-2 penalty shootout defeat to in-form Leicester City.

Ancelotti, who was sacked by Napoli on December 10, seems set to take over, with the ex-Real Madrid and Bayern Munich coach presenting a real coup for struggling Everton should they secure his signature as expected.

However, while Ancelotti has reportedly agreed to a long-term contract, he will not be at the helm for Saturday's meeting with Arsenal, who look set to have a new manager themselves for the fixture, with former Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta in line to replace Unai Emery.

Ferguson will instead continue, with Everton announcing the Scot will again be assisted by coaches John Ebbrell, Francis Jeffers and Alan Kelly.

Everton are 16th in the Premier League but only four points behind the Gunners, who occupy a top-half spot. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho at Manchester United on December 19, 2018, and despite his credentials having at times come under question, the Red Devils' points record makes for surprising reading. 

United having taken a total of 65 Premier League points in the 365 days the Norwegian has been in charge, behind only Leicester City, who are flying under Brendan Rodgers, Manchester City and league leaders Liverpool.

An immediate upturn in form following Mourinho's sacking saw United win their first six Premier League matches under Solskjaer, and they went unbeaten in the top flight until a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal on March 10 - a run of 12 games.

United's fine league form and progression past Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League saw Solskjaer handed the job on a permanent basis on March 28, though their form immediately dropped off.

Since his appointment as full-time manager, Solskjaer has overseen just eight wins in the Premier League, though recently masterminded victories over Tottenham and City.

United's tally of 65 is bettered only by Leicester (69), Man City (89) and Liverpool (101), who are enjoying a spectacular 2019 under Jurgen Klopp.

Chelsea are only one point behind United's total, while Tottenham sit a further seven back on 58 along with their north-London rivals Arsenal, who look set to appoint Mikel Arteta as Unai Emery's replacement, the Gunners winning just one of their last nine league games.

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