Chelsea have been given permission to speak to Derby County manager Frank Lampard with a view to appointing the former Blues midfielder as Maurizio Sarri's replacement at Stamford Bridge.

Steven Gerrard has rejected speculation he could leave Rangers for Derby County should Frank Lampard be appointed by Chelsea.

Lampard's return to Stamford Bridge as the successor to Maurizio Sarri is reportedly close despite his single season of experience with the Rams.

And former England team-mate Gerrard is said to be on Derby's list of targets should Lampard's move to Chelsea be completed.

The Rangers manager, however, insisted he is not looking to leave the Glasgow giants after helping to narrow the gap on Celtic last term.

"Yes, I'm aware of it but there's nothing to say on it," Gerrard told Sky Sports of the speculation.

"I'm very happy here, it's a privilege to be the Rangers manager. My focus is on the up and coming season.

"It's very similar to when there's noise around players. I ask the players to stay focused on the job and that is what I will continue to do. There is nothing really to add to that.

"Nothing has changed in my mind. I was very lucky and appreciative of the opportunity I got 12 months ago.

"I'm delighted to be at Rangers, managing one of the biggest clubs you can manage, so nothing has changed in terms of my focus."

Rangers finished second behind Celtic last term and lost to Aberdeen in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup.

Roy Keane has stepped down as Nottingham Forest assistant boss to resurrect his managerial career.

The 47-year-old spent just five months at the City Ground, where he was working as Martin O'Neill's number two.

Keane has previously managed Sunderland and Ipswich Town and is now seeking a new job.

A statement from the club read: "Nottingham Forest can confirm that assistant manager Roy Keane has left the club.

"Roy would like to express his gratitude to the club's owner, board of directors, the staff, the players and in particular manager Martin O'Neill for the opportunity to return to the City Ground."

Keane has not held a senior management position since leaving Sunderland in 2011, having worked in an assistant capacity with Republic of Ireland, Aston Villa and Forest over the last six years.

But he has previously admitted he is keen on landing a top job and has taken the decision to end his association with O'Neill, whom he also worked alongside in the Irish coaching set-up.

"Working with Martin over the last few years has been a magnificent experience, one of my greatest in football both as a player and a coach and one I want to personally thank him for," Keane said in a statement.

Forest finished ninth in the Championship last season, eight points adrift of the play-offs.

Grant McCann has taken over as head coach of Hull City, the Championship club have confirmed.

Former Peterborough United boss McCann enjoyed a successful season at Doncaster Rovers last term, guiding them to the League One play-offs.

The 49-year-old has been appointed on a 12-month rolling contract, replacing Nigel Adkins, who turned down the offer of a new contract earlier in the month.

"I am a very ambitious person and I always have been," McCann told the Tigers' official website.

"To be in the Championship is the next step for me, and I'm pleased to be taking that step with a great club like Hull City.

"The KCOM Stadium is an impressive place, the training ground is excellent and there is a strong squad of players here. Hopefully we can have good times together and a successful season."

Hull finished 13th in the second tier last season, 12 points adrift of the play-off places.

Birmingham City have confirmed they are not seeking a permanent successor to Garry Monk as Pep Clotet will remain their caretaker head coach.

Monk was sacked by Birmingham earlier this week in a decision a club statement claimed was in their "long-term interests".

Former Oxford United boss Clotet was moved up from assistant to the top job, with Craig Gardner joining the backroom team as a player-coach.

And, in an announcement on Thursday, Birmingham said Clotet and his team will stay in charge, although his title remains caretaker.

"We had a very positive talk with the guys and we are focused on what we want to try and achieve," said Birmingham chief executive Xuandong Ren.

"Their professionalism shone through during our meeting and we know they are a very talented and hard-working group.

"Pep will be our caretaker head coach and we are not seeking anyone else."

Monk has been linked with taking over at Derby County should the Rams lose Frank Lampard to Chelsea following Maurizio Sarri's switch to Juventus.

"I am aware of certain disappointing comments the club has made in the wake of my dismissal," Monk wrote on Twitter of his Birmingham sacking.

"Mindful of my contractual obligations, it is not my intention, certainly not at this stage, to engage with these comments.

"I would rather focus on the many positives I have experienced in my time with Birmingham City."

Huddersfield Town face a tricky opening fixture against Derby County on their return to the Championship, while Fulham play newly promoted Barnsley first up.

Huddersfield and Fulham were relegated from the Premier League last season, along with Cardiff City, but start the new campaign with contrasting fixtures.

Beaten play-off finalists Derby - managed by Frank Lampard, the favourite for the Chelsea job - go to Huddersfield to conclude the opening round of fixtures on August 5.

Jan Siewert's side face a particularly tough start, with Fulham and Cardiff also on the agenda in their first four matches.

The season starts on August 2 with League One winners Luton Town hosting Middlesbrough, while Charlton Athletic travel to Blackburn Rovers and Cardiff visit Wigan Athletic the following day.

The regular season will end on May 2, with Leeds United versus Charlton perhaps the pick of the final-day fixtures.

The 'spygate' saga from 2018-19 saw Leeds and Derby forge a rivalry that included a play-off semi-final win for Lampard's men, and they play at Elland Road on September 21, before a crunch clash at Pride Park on the penultimate weekend.

Cardiff's relegation means a reprisal of the South Wales derby with Swansea City on October 26 and January 11.

Luton host Fulham on Boxing Day, while West Brom - also beaten play-off semi-finalists - entertain Leeds on New Year's Day.

The race is heating up for Neymar.

With Paris Saint-Germain reportedly willing to part with the world's most expensive player, two LaLiga giants are set to go head-to-head.

Will Neymar end up at former club Barcelona or bitter Spanish rivals Real Madrid?

 

TOP STORY – BARCA AND MADRID FIGHT FOR NEYMAR

A return to Barcelona and a blockbuster transfer to Real Madrid both appear on the cards for Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar.

According to Mundo Deportivo, Madrid are reportedly ready to pay €130million for Neymar in a deal which would also include either James Rodriguez or Gareth Bale.

But Globo Esporte says Neymar – who left Barca for PSG in a €222m transfer in 2017 – is still on track for a Camp Nou comeback.

It comes after Le Parisien claims PSG want €300m to part with the injured Brazil forward.

 

ROUND-UP

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is set to become the world's most expensive full-back as Manchester United negotiate a £55million deal with Crystal Palace, according to the Daily Record. However, talks between the two Premier League sides have dragged on and the Red Devils have identified alternatives, with Sky Sport Italia claiming Napoli's Elseid Hysaj is a target.

- According to Marca, Atletico Madrid will announce the signing of Benfica sensation Joao Felix on Thursday. The 19-year-old has already undergone a medical and signed his contract ahead of the €120m move.

Frank Lampard has notified his Derby County squad that he will replace Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea if the right offer arrives, the Mirror reports. Former Chelsea star Lampard is expected to move back to London following Sarri's switch to Juve.

Paris Saint-Germain outcast Adrien Rabiot is on the verge of signing for Serie A champions Juventus, according to Sportitalia. The French midfielder and free agent has reportedly penned a five-year contract worth €7m plus bonuses, and a €10m signing-on fee.

- According to the Daily Mail, Inter and Atletico Madrid are both eyeing a move for Southampton full-back Ryan Bertrand.

Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku has agreed a deal worth £180,000 per week to join Inter, says The Sun. With Lukaku heading for the exit, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is reportedly eyeing Bournemouth's David Brooks.

Andre Gomes is on the verge of joining Everton permanently from LaLiga champions Barcelona. Gomes enjoyed a successful loan spell in 2018-19 and a £22m fee has "verbally been agreed", according to the Telegraph.

Birmingham City have sacked manager Garry Monk in a move the club believes to be in their "long-term interests".

Monk's former assistant Pep Clotet has been appointed caretaker head coach with immediate effect.

Former Swansea City, Leeds United and Middlesbrough boss Monk took over at St Andrew's in March 2018 and steered Birmingham to safety in the Championship.

Monk then led Birmingham to a 17th-place finish last season and he will now move on after 15 months at the helm.

"The board of directors believe this to be in the long-term interests of the club. We thank Garry for his efforts and we wish him the best for the future," said Birmingham in a statement on Tuesday.

"The board of directors are hopeful that over time the team can adopt a fresh and modern footballing philosophy, whilst maintaining the club's core values.

"It is our intention to drive the club forward and challenge for promotion."

The race for Paul Pogba appears well and truly on, but Manchester United will not let the midfielder go easily.

The France international said on Sunday he would be interested in a "new challenge", casting fresh doubt over his future at Old Trafford.

Real Madrid have continually been linked with Pogba, but it seems Paris Saint-Germain, and perhaps former club Juventus, could also be interested.

 

TOP STORY – POGBA INTEREST INTENSIFIES

Real Madrid indicated they are willing to pay £90million for Pogba despite United valuing the midfielder at £150m, according to The Sun.

United are ready to do their all to keep Pogba, with the Daily Mail reporting they are set to offer him a bumper new contract worth close to £500,000 per week.

This saga appears likely to take time to play out with Ligue 1 champions PSG also expressing an interest in Pogba, according to The Independent.

ROUND-UP

- Neymar appears more and more likely to leave PSG in the close season. Globo Esporte says talks are already underway for the Brazil international to return to Barcelona, who may pay €100m and send players, with Ivan Rakitic, Ousmane Dembele and Samuel Umtiti mentioned.

- It seems Benfica sensation Joao Felix has decided where he will be next season. According to Record, the 19-year-old Portugal international was in Spain to sign with Atletico Madrid in a €120m move, a report Benfica denied. El Chiringuito later claimed to have spotted the attacker and agent Jorge Mendes leaving a Madrid restaurant.

- Real Madrid look like they want to see Gareth Bale make an exit before next season. ABC says the LaLiga giants have lowered their asking price for the Wales international from €100m to €85m.

- With Neymar and Antoine Griezmann potentially arriving, Philippe Coutinho's Barcelona future seems clouded. AS reports PSG have made contact with the player's camp, while he may return to the Premier League. However, Sky Sports News reports Coutinho is unwilling to join Manchester United out of respect to former club Liverpool, but The Sun says he would head to Chelsea, although the club's transfer ban is standing in the way of that move.

- Now that Juventus have appointed Maurizio Sarri, the Serie A champions could make numerous additions. Tuttosport reported Juve vice-president Pavel Nedved met with agent Mino Raiola regarding Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt – who is expected to join PSG – and Pogba.

- A dream Chelsea return for Frank Lampard could be on the cards. The Sun reports the club great and Derby County manager is set for talks with owner Roman Abramovich over the position left vacant at Stamford Bridge by Sarri's departure. The same paper also reports Chelsea have rejected £35m bids from Barcelona and Atletico Madrid for Willian, with the Mirror saying Lampard wants the Brazil international to stay.

Harry Redknapp is confident nephew Frank Lampard will be appointed Chelsea's new head coach, despite Derby County's attempt to tie him down to a new deal.

Lampard is the frontrunner to succeed Maurizio Sarri in the Stamford Bridge dugout following the Italian's switch to Serie A champions Juventus.

But Derby are reluctant to let the legendary Chelsea midfielder return to his former club in a coaching capacity just a year into his three-year contract at Pride Park.

The Championship side, who suffered defeat to Aston Villa in this past season's play-off final, are reportedly in discussions with Lampard over extending his deal and chairman Mel Morris said on Monday no approach has yet been made by Chelsea.

Redknapp expects Lampard to land his dream job, however, telling BBC Radio 5 Live: "If Chelsea come calling, it's a difficult one for him to turn down.

"In my personal opinion, he'll be the manager of Chelsea. It looks to me like it's going to happen.

"It's a no-lose situation unless he finishes outside the top six. Anything in the top six would be OK, but [qualifying for] the Champions League would be a good season.

"No one is expecting him to finish first or second, third maybe. If he makes the Champions League next year, he's going to be a success."

Lampard is Chelsea's all-time leading scorer and won three Premier League titles with the club during his playing days, as well as the Champions League in 2012.

And Redknapp, who has managed the likes of Portsmouth, West Ham United, Southampton, Tottenham and QPR, urged Lampard to take the job if he is offered it.

"He's a true legend at Chelsea, one of the greatest players in the club's history," he said. "It may not come along again, you never know in football, the opportunity is there for him to go back now.

"He has a house around the corner from the training ground, his wife works in London."

Chelsea are banned from signing new players for the next two transfer windows, potentially giving some of the youngsters in their squad a chance to shine.

"Maybe it's time for someone who is going to be bold enough to play those young players," Redknapp said. "[Lampard] went to Derby, he brought young players in, Derby got to the play-off final with a few kids.

"It could be an interesting time for Chelsea, they are going to have to play some of their kids, give them a go.

"We keep talking about how good these kids are, they're playing for England Under-17, Under-19, so get them in the first team, let's see them play.

"Chelsea have a great group of young players, it might be a good chance to throw three or four of them in. You may have something special there."

Chelsea have not approached Derby County about making Frank Lampard their new manager, Rams chairman Mel Morris has said.

Blues legend Lampard is seen as the favourite to take over at Stamford Bridge following Maurizio Sarri's departure to Juventus.

Lampard led Derby to the Championship play-off final, where they lost 2-1 to Aston Villa, in his first season in senior management.

"We have made it very clear to everyone, but most importantly to Frank, that we want to retain Frank for the long term," said Morris in a statement reported by BBC Sport.

"If Chelsea want to hire Frank, then it is in their gift to make an offer in pursuit of that.

"In the meantime, we will continue to put our best foot forward to continue with our plans for the coming season and work with Frank for him to know how much he is wanted by everyone associated with the club."

Lampard is Chelsea's all-time top scorer with 211 goals and is fourth on their all-time appearance list having featured 648 times in a decorated spell with the club.

He won every major honour in English football with Chelsea and also lifted the Champions League and Europa League.

Former Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo has described Frank Lampard as a "great fit" to replace Maurizio Sarri in the Stamford Bridge dugout.

Sarri is reportedly close to leaving Chelsea after less than 12 months at the club amid suggestions he has been enticed back to Serie A by Italian champions Juventus.

Fan favourite Lampard has emerged as the frontrunner to succeed Sarri following a positive first campaign in management with Championship side Derby County, which ended with defeat to Aston Villa in the play-off final.

Some have questioned the 40-year-old's lack of managerial experience, but Di Matteo believes his old team should take a gamble by appointing their former midfielder.

Speaking at the Costa Smeralda Invitational, Di Matteo said: "He's definitely the right man. He's got personality. I followed Derby last year and his team plays very good football. He's got all the experience in the world. 

"It's a great fit. Whether it's right now or not, only time can tell that. You can say it is too early but you have to give people a chance. Frank has got all the tools and I think he will make a lot of people happy if he was the next manager."

Di Matteo, who lifted the Champions League and FA Cup with Chelsea in 2012 during his eight months in charge, is not surprised Sarri is moving on.

The ex-Napoli boss won the Europa League in his debut campaign with the London side and guided them to a third-place finish in the Premier League, but he never truly won over supporters with his style of play.

"That's what the industry is like," Di Matteo said. "People are always moving. I'm not entirely sure what the details are but it looks like he wants to go back to Italy and he has probably had a good offer from Juventus - one of the biggest clubs in Italy and Europe. 

"But Chelsea will find a suitable manager to lead the team."

Chelsea marked the anniversary of Frank Lampard signing for the club amid reports the former midfielder Frank Lampard is set to take over from Maurizio Sarri.

Despite leading the club to a third-place finish in the Premier League, the final of the EFL Cup and Europa League glory against Arsenal, Sarri has by no means been a popular figure at Stamford Bridge.

The Italian, who left Napoli for Chelsea last year, is widely reported to be on the brink of being appointed as head coach by Juventus, who are seeking a successor to Massimiliano Allegri.

The switch was expected to be completed on Friday, when Chelsea noted on social media it was 18 years since Lampard, now managing Derby County, joined the club from West Ham.

"On this day in 2001... Frank Lampard became a Blue!" Chelsea posted on Twitter in a message that quickly racked up thousands of likes.

Lampard is regarded as a Chelsea great, winning three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the 2011-12 Champions League and becoming the club's all-time leading goalscorer during his 13 years at Stamford Bridge.

In his first season as a manager in 2018-19, the 40-year-old led Derby to the Championship play-offs finals, but they were beaten 2-1 by Aston Villa at Wembley.

Jonathan Woodgate has been appointed head coach at Championship club Middlesbrough, succeeding Tony Pulis at the Riverside Stadium.

The former Boro defender, who won eight caps for England and endured an ill-fated spell at Real Madrid during an injury-blighted playing career, has signed a three-year deal after being part of Pulis' coaching team.

His staff includes former Tottenham striker Robbie Keane, who will also continue in his role as assistant manager to Mick McCarthy with the Republic of Ireland. 

"There was huge interest in the coaching positions following the departure of Tony Pulis and in a robust process the club spoke with a number of potential candidates both in the UK and abroad," read a club statement.

"It was during this procedure that it became clear that Jonathan was the outstanding candidate to head up the new structure, and his staff bring a wealth of experience and knowledge.

"Jonathan's vision is very much aligned to our own for the club as we look to develop a new identity."

Pulis left the club last month having missed out on securing a play-off spot by one point.

Swansea City have appointed England Under-17s World Cup-winning boss Steve Cooper as their new head coach on a three-year contract.

The Championship club were seeking a replacement for Graham Potter, who left to take over Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion last month after just one season at the Liberty Stadium.

Welshman Cooper, 39, has been named Potter's successor in what will be his first senior role after stints with the academies at Wrexham and Liverpool preceded a post working with England's youth teams.

He was in charge of the England Under-17 side that beat Spain in the 2017 World Cup final, with Manchester City's Phil Foden, Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi and Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho all starring in that tournament.

"This opportunity is something I've been working towards my whole life, certainly since I started coaching 22 years ago," Cooper said in quotes published on the club's official website.

"I'm extremely grateful to Swansea for giving me this chance. I'm really excited about the challenge ahead."

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