Is a Manchester United reunion on the cards for Cristiano Ronaldo?

Ronaldo's future at Juventus has dominated headlines this season.

But returning to Old Trafford is reportedly not in the pipeline.

 

TOP STORY – NO UNITED REUNION FOR RONALDO

Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will not be returning to Manchester United, according to journalist Fabrizio Romano.

A report earlier this month claimed United were looking to re-sign Ronaldo, who won three Premier League titles and the Champions League in six years at Old Trafford before joining Real Madrid in 2009.

But Romano says United are focusing on different players and not Ronaldo – also a reported target for Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

ROUND-UP

Barcelona are monitoring Hoffenheim centre-back Melayro Bogarde, claims Sky Italia. The 18-year-old has also captured the attention of Milan.

- Calciomercato reports Milan want to sign Real Madrid's Lucas Vazquez at the end of the season. Vazquez is out of contract following the 2020-21 campaign.

Everton are in pole position to sign Juventus outcast Sami Khedira, says Calciomercato. The German midfielder looks set to leave the Serie A champions. Carlo Ancelotti's Everton have also been linked with Madrid midfielder Isco. It comes as Football Insider claims the Toffees are eyeing Tottenham trio Dele Alli, Harry Winks and Paulo Gazzaniga.

- The Express reports Liverpool could sell duo Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri in January. Origi and Shaqiri have struggled for regular game time at Anfield, where the Reds are desperate to bolster their defence amid an injury crisis. Liverpool have been linked with Schalke centre-back Ozan Kabak and Ajax's Perr Schuurs.

- Estadio Deportivo claims Real Betis are eyeing Madrid winger Takefusa Kubo, who has struggled for game time on loan at Villarreal.

Milan are a "serious candidate" to sign Arsenal forward Nicolas Pepe, reports Milan Live. The Rossoneri are considering an initial loan offer.

Thomas Tuchel says Paris Saint-Germain need Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to be on top of their game if they are to beat RB Leipzig in Tuesday's huge Champions League clash.

Last season's finalists trail Group H pacesetters Manchester United and Leipzig by three points at the midway stage after losing to both teams in their opening three matches, either side of beating Istanbul Basaksehir.

PSG will be facing the prospect of making an early exit from the competition if they lose at home to the Bundesliga club and under-fire head coach Tuchel is willing to risk the fitness of Neymar for a match he has described as a "final".

Neymar missed three PSG games with a groin injury and was released from Brazil duty before being given 30 minutes from the bench in Friday's 3-2 loss to Monaco - a result that increased the pressure on Tuchel.

The forward, who has two goals in seven appearances this term, will start against Leipzig at the Parc des Princes in a repeat of last season's semi-final.

"We need him. He needs to be on the pitch for us," Tuchel said at a news conference on Monday. "He has the quality and the experience.

"He is not in the best shape physically but he will start tomorrow. He can manage that both physically and mentally, though I hope we don't depend on him."

Mbappe scored PSG's two goals in their defeat to Monaco but is without a Champions League goal in 2020, failing to score in 529 minutes across seven appearances in the competition since netting against Galatasaray last December.

"If Neymar or Kylian don't score, of course it has an impact for us," Tuchel said. "I hope they score tomorrow. We need Kylian's goals. He is doing everything possible to be decisive.

"He played with the France team. Against Monaco, he scored two goals. Now is the time for him, as well as for Ney, to be decisive again."

Tuchel started with Neymar, Mbappe, Angel Di Maria and Moise Kean for the win over Basaksehir and has hinted he may go with a similar attack-minded system against Leipzig.

"It is of course a possibility," he said. "We want to win - it's a final in the group. I absolutely want us to have more courage to score than fear to have problems defensively. 

"It will take courage to score, so it's a possibility. We must find two players in the middle capable of making the effort if we play with a 4-4-2. 

"But it is also possible that we play in 4-3-3. We used it in Leipzig as well as in the knockout stages last season. There are two possibilities, we will wait to see who is available."

However, Tuchel will have to make do without Mauro Icardi, Julian Draxler, Idrissa Gueye, Juan Bernat and Thilo Kehrer, while Ander Herrera and Marco Verratti will be assessed later on Monday.

PSG have lost four of their last six games against German opponents in the Champions League, including each of the last two - 1-0 v Bayern Munich and 2-1 v Leipzig.

Manchester City will reportedly opt against making a move for Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

Messi, 33, sensationally requested to leave Barca during the close season, but ended up staying with the LaLiga giants.

Still, talk about his future continues, with City the most strongly linked.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY WON'T TRY TO SIGN MESSI

Manchester City will not try to sign Barcelona star Messi, Spanish football expert Semra Hunter told Sky Sports News.

The report says Messi's age and wage demands are a major reason the Premier League giants will not pursue him.

Messi, a six-time Ballon d'Or winner, is out of contract at the end of the season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Are Real Madrid looking for a replacement for 35-year-old midfielder Luka Modric? Fichajes.net reports Madrid see Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic as the ideal replacement for Croatia star Modric.

- Barcelona will try to sign Manchester City defender Eric Garcia in January amid an injury crisis in defence, according to Sport. Gerard Pique (knee) and Sergi Roberto (thigh) are both set for spells on the sidelines. Meanwhile, Marca says Barcelona are set for a meeting to decide whether they should sign a replacement for Pique.

- Fabian Ruiz has impressed for Napoli, leading to interest from elsewhere. CalcioMercato reports Paris Saint-Germain are still targeting the midfielder.

- Amid uncertainty over his future at Inter, Christian Eriksen is linked with a return to the Premier League. Corriere dello Sport reports Manchester United and Arsenal are considering the former Tottenham star.

- With Memphis Depay and Moussa Dembele linked with moves, Lyon may be eyeing replacements. Le 10 Sport says Reims and Senegal forward Boulaye Dia and Leicester City forward Islam Slimani are both targets.

What does the future hold for Manchester United star Paul Pogba?

Out of form and out of favour, Pogba has found himself out of the starting line-up this season and the Frenchman is not happy.

Could Pogba be prepared to wait for his perfect move away?

 

TOP STORY – POGBA EYEING EXIT

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba could leave Old Trafford on a free transfer, according to The Athletic.

Pogba left United for Juventus on a free transfer in 2012 before returning to Manchester for a then-world record €105million (£89.3m) in 2016.

But the France international is unhappy at the Theatre of Dreams, where he is contracted until 2022, amid links with former club Juve and LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

 

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- Tuttosport says Juve have turned their attention from Pogba to his countryman and Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga. The 18-year-old has been tipped to join Madrid, while Paris Saint-Germain are also reportedly interested.

- Bayern Munich centre-back Niklas Sule is dreaming of a move to United, claims Bild. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United are believed to be pursuing a defensive partner for Harry Maguire, with Madrid's Raphael Varane and RB Leipzig star Dayot Upamecano reported targets.

Isco is ready to leave Madrid in January, reports Marca. The attacking midfielder has been linked with Everton, following previous links to Juve and Manchester City.

- Liverpool Echo claims Liverpool have been quoted £26.7million (€29.8m) to sign Ajax defender Perr Schuurs. The 20-year-old is also reportedly wanted by Milan.

Arsenal are working on a structured payment plan to sign Salzburg sensation Dominik Szoboszlai, says the Mirror.

Juve are targeting Sporting CP defender Nuno Mendes, A Bola reports. The 18-year-old has also been linked with Milan, Arsenal, Manchester United and Wolves.

Inter and Antonio Conte have reached an agreement over a new contract but Corriere dello Sport says there will be no contract extensions during the season. Barcelona target Lautaro Martinez is the most problematic case for the Nerazzurri.

Thomas Tuchel condemned Paris Saint-Germain's attitude in their shock collapse to Monaco but could at least use the match to prepare for RB Leipzig, where Neymar will start.

PSG were cruising at half-time on their return to Ligue 1 action on Friday as the fit-again Kylian Mbappe scored twice.

But a third effort from the France international was ruled out and the half-time introduction of Cesc Fabregas changed the game.

Kevin Volland swiftly pulled a goal back for Monaco, before Fabregas teed up the German forward's second and then swept in the winner from the penalty spot after Abdou Diallo was sent off.

Fabregas created three chances - no player managed more despite the midfielder only playing 45 minutes - and also had three shots, trailing only Volland.

The former Chelsea midfielder completed 32 of his 36 passes, including 86.4 per cent of his attempts in the PSG half, but Tuchel said his side were to blame as they ceded control.

Diallo's costly foul was one of 12 from the visitors in the second half, while Monaco won five more duels than their opponents across the 90 minutes.

"We controlled the first half with two goals scored and two others [disallowed], I think the third was valid," PSG boss Tuchel told Telefoot after the 3-2 loss.

"In the second half, we lacked the same concentration, we did not play seriously enough, we did not take the ball with the same quality and we didn't defend seriously enough either.

"This is why we are completely responsible. Maybe it was too easy and the players got the impression that it was already 3-0 or 4-0 when it was only 2-0.

"We have to accept the criticism because we have completely stopped playing football.

"We have not done what is necessary to win a match: defending in a block, remaining aggressive, remaining attentive in behind.

"We have lost also a little strength in the midfield but we had to make changes. It's always possible to lose but losing a match like that is very weird.

"In the first two minutes of the second half, we had two very high recoveries but then we stopped completely. It was not possible to win the duels; we were always late. It is not normal."

It was the first time PSG had let a two-goal slip to lose in the league since January 2015, a 4-2 reverse against Bastia.

Tuchel acknowledged the champions were hamstrung a little by the looming home Champions League clash with Leipzig, though.

Neymar was returning from injury and had to appear from the bench, while Mbappe lasted only 68 minutes. Marquinhos did not play at all.

"The match against Leipzig is going to be very difficult, but it would not have been much different if we'd won," Tuchel said of Tuesday's continental clash.

"We had to get Kylian out, not take any risk with Marquinhos and make Neymar play for a few minutes.

"The mix between the two matches, Monaco and Leipzig, is perhaps also a reason which explains why we lost our concentration."

He added: "Neymar is determined. He will start against Leipzig."

Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain threw away a two-goal lead against Monaco as Kevin Volland's second-half brace and a late Cesc Fabregas penalty secured a remarkable 3-2 win at Stade Louis II on Friday. 

Thomas Tuchel's side had looked to be cruising to a ninth consecutive top-flight win thanks to Kylian Mbappe's double against his former side before the interval. 

Monaco were a team reborn in the second half, though, and claimed a stunning three points thanks to Volland's close-range strikes and Fabregas' 84th-minute spot-kick, with PSG's Abdou Diallo was sent off in the penalty incident.

The result means PSG's lead at the Ligue 1 summit can be cut to just two points if Lille overcome Lorient on Sunday.

 

Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Moise Kean have been included in the Paris Saint-Germain squad for the Ligue 1 meeting with Monaco on Friday.   A groin injury forced Neymar to miss PSG's previous three games and he was released from Brazil duty after it was deemed he would not be ready to feature in their World Cup qualifier against Uruguay on Tuesday.   Kean sustained a muscular problem while representing Italy during the international break, and Mbappe made his return for France on Tuesday after suffering a hamstring issue against Nantes on October 31.   The trio will all be available to Thomas Tuchel when the Ligue 1 champions take on Monaco at the Stade Louis II, though.

Tuchel said on Thursday: "Kylian has a very positive mindset. There was good communication between us and the France national team, so we know exactly what they did with him in training.

"So, that is all fine. He had a full training session with us [on Wednesday]. That was very good, so I'm very confident that he can play. We will have to decide how many minutes he will get, but he feels fit.

"With Neymar, it is a bit different because he didn't play for Brazil. He has been back for a few days.

"He started training [on Wednesday] but didn't do the full training session. He just took part in the first part, so we will step that up. We will do a bit more.

"I am confident that he might be able to play some minutes, but we will have to wait and see how he reacts in training."

PSG have struggled with injuries throughout the 2020-21 season and will be continue to be without Marco Verratti, Mauro Icardi, Julian Draxler, Idrissa Gueye, Thilo Kehrer and Juan Bernat.

Ander Herrera will sit out the trip to Monaco after taking a blow to his calf during a training session on Thursday.

Will Lionel Messi be a Barcelona player for much longer?

Messi, who has called Camp Nou home for his entire senior career, is reportedly eyeing a sensational exit.

And Manchester City are continuing to pursue the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI, CITY RUMOURS GROW

Lionel Messi's links with Manchester City are tightening following Pep Guardiola's renewal, according to Diario AS.

Messi was tipped to join City after handing in a transfer request at the start of the season, but the Barca captain opted to remain at Camp Nou.

However, with manager Guardiola extending his City contract, rumours are intensifying.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Premier League's 'big six' are interested in signing Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos. 90min claims Liverpool, City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham are eyeing the veteran defender, who is out of contract at the end of the campaign.

Milan could be set for a busy January. Tuttomercato reports Milan want Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic on loan with an option to buy for €30million. Inter and Juventus have also been linked with the Serbia international. It comes as Rossoneri duo Andrea Conti and Leo Duarte face uncertain futures, while Salzburg sensation Dominik Szoboszlai continues to be linked to Milan.

- Kicker says Paris Saint-Germain are favourites to sign Bayern Munich's soon-to-be free agent David Alaba, who has also been linked to Madrid and City.

- Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri could join Juve in January, though Alaba and Atalanta star Robin Goosens are also options for the Serie A champions, according to Calciomercato.

Paris Saint-Germain are dealing well with their injury crisis and criticism of their form is "insane", according to Lille coach Christophe Galtier.

PSG are top of Ligue 1, leading Lille by five points, but Thomas Tuchel and his side have been scrutinised due to some difficult results.

The champions lost their opening two league games and have been beaten in two of their three Champions League matches.

But Tuchel has been battling numerous selection issues, robbed of key men by a combination of injuries, suspensions and positive coronavirus tests.

PSG have only been able to name Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in their starting XI for two of their 10 Ligue 1 games this term, winning on both occasions while scoring a combined eight goals.

Neymar has made just four league appearances but has created 15 chances, trailing only Pablo Sarabia and Angel Di Maria (both 16) among PSG team-mates. Di Maria has himself played a mere five times.

Meanwhile, Mbappe is the team's top scorer with seven goals from six matches (five starts), well clear of second-placed Moise Kean's three.

Given the regular absence of such key men, rival Galtier is stunned by the discussion of PSG's performances.

"There are criticisms today of PSG that seem insane to me," Galtier told L'Equipe. "We are hard on them.

"They have been playing for a few weeks with a second team, which would be a good Ligue 1 team but which would not be champions. They are performing despite an incredible injury list.

"It's more difficult in the Champions League, but when you have players like Mbappe and Neymar who are absent, it is normal that the team is less efficient.

"Against Rennes, a team that plays Champions League, a very, very diminished Paris managed to win 3-0 without trembling too much.

"I'm not here to defend Thomas, but it's tough. They have 10 or 11 out with this sequence of matches.

"If we had 10 out, come back in two months and tell me what has happened in the meantime.

"Besides, we are going to be faced with [an injury crisis]. We have Renato [Sanches] injured, Zeki [Celik] injured, two players who keep playing.

"It happens with this incredible schedule."

Joao Felix apparently has no plans to leave Atletico Madrid for Paris Saint-Germain.

Joao Felix, 21, is enjoying a fine campaign with the LaLiga giants, having struggled during his first season in 2019-20 after his arrival from Benfica.

The playmaker has attracted interest from PSG.

 

TOP STORY – FELIX WANTS ATLETICO STAY AMID PSG INTEREST

Joao Felix is not thinking about leaving Atletico Madrid amid Paris Saint-Germain's interest, according to Record.

Signed by Atletico for a reported €126million last year, Joao Felix has started to star for Diego Simeone's side.

Only Mikel Oyarzabal (six goals and two assists) has been directly involved in more LaLiga goals than Joao Felix (five goals and two assists) this season.

Joao Felix has also created five big chances – the second most behind Sergio Canales – for Atletico, who are unbeaten in LaLiga ahead of hosting Barcelona on Saturday.

 

ROUND-UP

- Out of contract at Bayern Munich at the end of the season, David Alaba is expected to leave the Bundesliga champions. Marca reports the defender is an option for Real Madrid and a move is not dependant on Sergio Ramos' future with the LaLiga giants.

- Another Madrid defender, Raphael Varane, is also linked with a move. The Manchester Evening News says Manchester United may again look at the defender, who is contracted at Madrid until 2022.

- Isco's time at Madrid could finally be coming to an end. El Confidencial reports Isco, who is in his eighth season at Madrid, is on the market. Everton have been linked with the attacker.

- A decision about RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano's future could be close. Bild says a call could be made in January amid links to United and Liverpool, with his €45m release clause reportedly too much for Bayern.

- Mariano Diaz may be set for a Madrid exit. The Daily Mail reports West Ham have been offered the chance to sign the forward, potentially on loan initially.

Niko Kovac has defended Thomas Tuchel amid seemingly constant speculation over the Paris Saint-Germain head coach's future.

PSG retained their Ligue 1 title last season and celebrated a domestic treble by lifting the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue.

They also won the Trophee des Champions last August, but fell agonisingly short of Champions League glory, losing to Bayern Munich in the final.

PSG are five points clear at the top of Ligue 1 10 matches into the 2020-21 season, but face a battle to qualify from Champions League Group H following defeats to Manchester United and RB Leipzig.

Tuchel's strained relationship with the Parisian giants' sporting director Leonardo has also led to further questions over the German's position, but Monaco boss Kovac – who endured similar attention during his time with Bayern Munich – does not believe he should be under such scrutiny.

"It's difficult. The coach is always responsible for everything. If you win, it's not because of you, and if you lose, it's your fault," Kovac said ahead of the Ligue 1 clash between Monaco and PSG on Friday.

"From my point of view, it's too easy to always point the finger at the coach. I know Thomas is a great guy, a great coach. What more could he have done last season?

"He won four trophies and led his team to the Champions League final. He could only have done more if he had coached Bayern Munich and won five."

 

Lionel Messi continues to dominate headlines.

While Messi decided to stay at Camp Nou, Manchester City are reportedly still trying to prise the superstar from Barcelona.

Could he be set for a mid-season switch?

 

TOP STORY – MESSI TARGETED BY CITY

Manchester City are expected to make a bid to sign Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi in January, according to The Sun.

Messi was tipped to join Pep Guardiola's City after handing in a transfer request at the start of the season, however, he opted to stay at Camp Nou.

City, though, have not given up on signing the six-time Ballon d'Or winner – who has also been linked to Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.

ROUND-UP

- What does the future hold for Sergio Ramos? The Real Madrid captain is out of contract at season's end, and the likes of Juventus, PSG and Manchester United have emerged as possible destinations. Should Ramos leave the Santiago Bernabeu, Diario AS claims Bayern Munich star David Alaba could arrive as a replacement at Madrid. Alaba is also wanted by Juve, Barcelona and City.

- Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga is desperate for a loan move and is willing to take a pay cut to secure a short-term exit, reports The Sun.

- Eurosport says Chelsea are eyeing a future move for Borussia Dortmund sensation Jude Bellingham, who only swapped England for Germany at the start of the season. Bellingham is seen as an alternative to West Ham midfielder Declan Rice.

Inter are keen to make head coach Antonio Conte happy by exchanging Christian Eriksen for PSG midfielder Leandro Paredes and swapping Matias Vecino for Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik in the New Year, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

Paris Saint-Germain's focus is reportedly on Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, not Sergio Ramos.

Ramos has been linked with the Ligue 1 champions with his Real Madrid deal expiring at the end of the season.

But PSG seemingly have other deals they want done first.

 

TOP STORY – PSG PRIORITISING MBAPPE, NEYMAR OVER RAMOS

PSG are prioritising new deals for Mbappe and Neymar over a potential move for Madrid defender Ramos, according to Goal.

Mbappe and Neymar are both out of contract in 2022 and have unsurprisingly emerged as targets for clubs in Europe.

The star forwards have both been at PSG since 2017, helping the club win Ligue 1 in every season since.

Interestingly, Mbappe and Neymar have both appeared in just 38 of 113 Ligue 1 games for PSG since arriving.

PSG have won 34 and lost just one of those, while averaging 3.3 goals for. Without at least one of them, their win percentage drops from 89.5 to 72, and average goals for dips to 2.5.

 

ROUND-UP

- Out of contract at Liverpool at the end of the season, Georginio Wijnaldum's future remains unclear. CalcioMercato reports the midfielder is wanted by Barcelona and Inter.

- There could be plenty of movement coming up at Barcelona. Sport reports Riqui Puig has no plans to leave the club in January despite interest from Porto and Benfica. It also says while the LaLiga giants are prepared to let Puig and Carles Alena leave on loan, they are working on selling Samuel Umtiti, Martin Braithwaite, Junior Firpo and Matheus Fernandes.

- Staying at Barcelona and Mundo Deportivo reports the club are working on a contract extension for Ousmane Dembele, whose current deal expires in 2022.

- With Lautaro Martinez continually linked with Barcelona, Inter are considering their options. The Serie A giants are eyeing Torino striker Andrea Belotti as a replacement if Martinez joins Barca, according to CalcioMercato. Since Belotti arrived at Torino in 2015, only Ciro Immobile (111) and Gonzalo Higuain (90) have scored more goals than his 85.

- Also in Serie A, Napoli are considering a loan move for Chelsea defender Emerson Palmieri, according to la Repubblica.

Kylian Mbappe is fit to feature in France's Nations League clash with Sweden on Tuesday but Anthony Martial is an injury doubt. 

Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe sat out Saturday's 1-0 win over Portugal, as well as last week's 2-0 friendly loss to Finland, because of a hamstring issue. 

However, he took part in full training on Sunday and is now in contention to play a part in the meeting with Sweden at the Stade de France. 

"Kylian is fine - he took part in the collective training session yesterday," France boss Didier Deschamps said at Monday's pre-match news conference. "He will also take part in the session today. 

"I will then take the time to discuss with him to see if he starts or if he comes into play from the bench. These are the two options with their advantages and disadvantages.  

"I will decide on what is best for the team and for him. He had two weeks without playing, but he really wants it. He wants to be there tomorrow, and if all goes well, he will be." 

Martial, however, may not be fit for the visit of Sweden, with Deschamps confirming the Manchester United forward trained separately from the group due to a back problem.

The 24-year-old started against Portugal and had more shots than any France player, though he failed to beat goalkeeper Rui Patricio with any of his three on-target attempts. 

He has now failed to score with each of his last 22 shots for France but captain Hugo Lloris insisted his team-mate offers a lot more to the side than just goals. 

"If he is here with us it is because the coach shows confidence in him," Lloris said. "He has adapted very well to the team thanks to his personality and his qualities as a player.  

"The coach has given him confidence. He made the defensive efforts, coming to help [Benjamin] Pavard down the right-hand side, so that means he has the right frame of mind." 

Mbappe and Martial's lack of fitness could see Olivier Giroud start, despite Deschamps recently raising concerns over the striker's lack of playing time at club level. 

Giroud has made just three appearances for Chelsea in the Premier League this term, all of them from the bench, and his national team boss has raised the prospect of the country's second-leading scorer finding a new club in the January transfer window. 

"The situation is not good for him. It is for him to sort - he will decide," Deschamps said. "But compared to the France team, psychologically and physically for him too, he has every interest in having playing time.  

"I hope that by January he will have more playing time. After that, he will stay or not. He knows what I think about it - I've told him, although I don't forget what he has done for us and might still do." 

France have already made certain of top spot in Group A3 ahead of their concluding fixture against Sweden, who are level on points with Croatia in the battle to avoid relegation.

Sergio Ramos can handle talk over his future at Real Madrid and has not allowed his contract situation to affect him while playing for Spain, according to Luis Enrique. 

Defender Ramos is in the final year of his deal with Madrid and negotiations between the two parties have reportedly stalled, leading to speculation he could be set to depart the Santiago Bernabeu. 

Paris Saint-Germain have been linked with the 34-year-old, who pulled out of the scheduled national team news conference on Monday, Manchester City midfielder Rodri stepping in to replace his captain.

Ramos is preparing for Spain's pivotal Nations League clash with Germany on Tuesday, a game they must win if they are to leapfrog their rivals and qualify for the finals of the tournament. 

Head coach Luis Enrique has backed the centre-back to cope amid the growing pressure, something he has become accustomed to during his distinguished career for club and country. 

"Everything that is generated around Ramos is neither new, nor old, nor is it anything," the Spain boss told the media.  

"It is what it is and what it means to have a player of this level. It is normal that there is pressure around and you have to live with that. 

"If there is someone with enough experience to handle this personal situation it is Sergio Ramos.  

"He is well prepared, and I see him the same as the first day we arrived at the national team, his enthusiasm, his leadership. His face does not change at all and this is part of the things that a footballer should know how to carry."

Spain were only able to draw 1-1 away in Switzerland last time out, not helped by the usually reliable Ramos missing two penalties. 

Luis Enrique defended the player – who had scored his previous 25 attempts from the spot for club and country – in his post-match media conference, though it was again a topic of debate in Monday's preview session for the game in Seville. 

"I don't know if Sergio Ramos is the best penalty taker in the world," he replied when asked about Ramos' spot-kick role.  

"What I did defending Sergio after the game is what any coach would do of course. You have to know how to accept both versions of the story and nothing happens."

Ramos has played the most number of games (16) during Luis Enrique's time in charge, during which he is the leading scorer with nine goals.

He is also top of the charts across the same period when it comes to shots attempted (37), passes attempted (1,328) and also duels won (64), showing his all-round value to the team.

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