Real Madrid's top defensive transfer target is apparently known, while Sergej Milinkovic-Savic may be set for Paris Saint-Germain.

While Madrid are said to be chasing a goalscorer, it seems they also have a defender in mind.

Meanwhile, PSG's interest in Milinkovic-Savic has reportedly been renewed.

 

TOP STORY – UPAMECANO MADRID'S TOP TARGET

RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano is top of Real Madrid's defensive wish list, according to AS.

Upamecano, 21, has regularly been linked with a move, with Arsenal among those understood to be interested in the France youth international.

AS reports Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane wants to freshen up his defensive options.

ROUND-UP

- Contracted at Lazio until 2024, Milinkovic-Savic is still wanted by Europe's top clubs. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports PSG are interested in the midfielder, with €100million likely to be needed to land the 25-year-old.

- Valencia could be ready to let Geoffrey Kondogbia go. The Evening Standard reports they may be prepared to sell the midfielder for around £26.4m (€30m) amid apparent interest from Tottenham. Kondogbia is believed to have a release clause of €80m.

- Could Hector Bellerin head back to Spain? The Mirror reports Atletico Madrid and Sevilla are interested in the Arsenal right-back, who is a three-cap Spain international and started his career at Barcelona.

- Felipe Anderson has impressed at West Ham and is linked with a move away. The Mirror says the Premier League club could listen to offers of €47.8m (£42m) for the Brazilian, who is apparently wanted by Napoli.

- Chris Smalling may return to Manchester United after all. The Sun reports the defender, who has starred on loan at Roma, is set to head back to the Premier League club with the Serie A side unable to make the move permanent.

Harry Kane is seemingly still an option for Real Madrid.

The LaLiga giants reportedly want to add a forward this close season and are linked with numerous players.

While Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland is believed to be their main target, it appears Kane is an option.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID STILL CONSIDERING KANE

Tottenham forward Kane is still an option for Real Madrid, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Kane, 26, has been linked with a move away from Spurs previously, having been prolific with the Premier League club.

The England international has scored 17 goals in 25 games this season.

ROUND-UP

- Talk around Philippe Coutinho's future appears set to continue for a while. The Mirror reports Tottenham could join the race for the playmaker, who is expected to leave Barcelona permanently in the close season. Coutinho is on loan at Bayern Munich this season and Chelsea are also reportedly interested in the Brazil international.

- Could Juventus get a deal done for Mauro Icardi? Tuttosport reports the Serie A giants could sell left-back Alex Sandro to raise funds for a move for Icardi, who is on loan at Paris Saint-Germain from Inter this season.

- Napoli may be preparing for life without Kalidou Koulibaly. Corriere dello Sport reports I Partenopei are following Sevilla centre-back Diego Carlos, while Koulibaly is linked with a big-money move to PSG or Manchester United.

- Only 21, Houssem Aouar has already made more than 100 appearances for Lyon. AS reports Real Madrid are tipped to make a move for the France youth international midfielder.

- Out of contract attacker Pedro is set to leave Chelsea. Corriere dello Sport reports Roma are interested in the former Barcelona man.

Neymar is Lionel Messi's "natural replacement" and would love to return to Barcelona, according to Brazil World Cup winner Mazinho.

Brazil superstar Neymar departed Camp Nou for a world-record move to Paris Saint-Germain ahead of the 2017-18 season but has consistently been linked with a move back to Barca.

Despite regular speculation ahead of the 2019-20 campaign, Neymar remained in the French capital and has scored 18 goals in 22 appearances across all competitions this term.

Neymar is once again being tipped to join Barca, though it was said at the time he left the club in part to try and escape the shadow of superstar team-mate and now six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi.

But Mazinho feels the 28-year-old is ready to come back and is capable of taking on Messi's mantle as Barca's talisman.

Speaking to Radio Marca, he said: "[Barcelona] would be delighted if he can return tomorrow.

"He is Messi's natural replacement. There is no other to replace Messi."

Mazinho's son Thiago Alcantara is part of a Bayern Munich side who returned to training this week amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bundesliga champions trained in small groups without contact and Mazinho, who was part of the 1994 World Cup-winning Brazil team, said he trusts the club have taken appropriate measures.

"[Playing football amid the coronavirus outbreak] is worrying because it is a complicated situation that we are all experiencing," he added.

"In Germany they are progressing in that sense, with group training.

"You have to be very careful with all this. If Bayern do it, they do it because there is no risk and they are providing security to all their footballers.

"My son must work and be as prudent as possible."

Could Lionel Messi swap Barcelona for Inter?

Messi has been linked to Inter since ex-president Massimo Moratti said the six-time Ballon d'Or winner joining the Serie A club was not a "forbidden dream".

The 32-year-old's future at Camp Nou has made headlines throughout the 2019-20 season.

 

TOP STORY – INTER WANT MESSI

Inter are seriously working on trying to sign Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, according to TNT Sports.

Former Inter president Massimo Moratti said the Nerazzurri luring Messi – contracted until 2021 – to San Siro was not impossible and speculation has intensified since those comments.

TNT Sports says Inter are ready to push through negotiations for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner, while boyhood club Newell's Old Boys have also made an offer.

 

ROUND-UP

- AS Diario claims Manchester United and Juventus are both chasing Real Madrid outcast James Rodriguez. Napoli and Everton have also been linked to the Colombia international.

Philippe Coutinho is close to returning to the Premier League. Sport reports the former Liverpool star is nearing a loan switch to Chelsea from Barcelona. The Brazilian has spent the 2019-20 season on loan at Bayern Munich.

Milan are interested in signing in-demand Brescia star Sandro Tonali, according to Calciomercato. The Italian has been linked to the likes of Juve, Inter and United.

- Juve star Paulo Dybala is set to sign a new contract with the Serie A champions, says Calciomercato. Meanwhile, the same outlet reports that Juve are interested in Roma midfielder Bryan Cristante.

- Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is chasing Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, says AS Diario. The Frenchman wants to sign the 17-year-old if Madrid are unable to lure Paul Pogba from United.

- Mundo Deportivo reports Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are among the clubs battling for Achraf Hakimi. The Moroccan full-back has spent the past two seasons on loan at Borussia Dortmund from Madrid. Juve, Bayern and Paris Saint-Germain are also reportedly interested.

Paris Saint-Germain were firmly on course to claim a seventh Ligue 1 title in eight years before the coronavirus pandemic meant the season was shutdown.

Thomas Tuchel's side had also progressed into the Champions League quarter-finals having edged past a vibrant Borussia Dortmund 3-2 on aggregate.

The second leg of that contest saw PSG win 2-0 in the French capital with Neymar netting the opener with a rare header.

It has been a strong season from the Brazil international with 17 goals in 21 games in all competitions.

Here, he picks his top five moments of 2019-20.


5 - The Dortmund comeback (March 11, 2020)

Having lost the first leg of their last-16 tie 2-1 in Germany, PSG needed the kind of comeback that hasn't always been their hallmark in the Champions League.

And it was Neymar who set them on their way with a diving header from Angel Di Maria's 28th-minute corner.

Juan Bernat made it 2-0 on the night as the hosts went through before celebrating wildly with fans that had congregated outside the Parc des Princes, defying orders around coronavirus.

"I was anxious for this game," Neymar told NN Consultoria.

"The days before that were some of the tensest. But I believe that, above all else, the group was united and every player, from the most experienced ones to the youngest, were all essential for this victory.

"The night was special. It looked like the Libertadores! The crowd outside the stadium received us on the streets with an unbelievable party."

 


4 - Lyon crushed (March 4, 2020)

Neymar was happy to play a supporting role as a Kylian Mbappe hat-trick inspired PSG to a 5-1 thrashing of Lyon in the Coupe de France semi-final.

Neymar and Pablo Sarabia also netted as PSG again confirmed their domestic superiority.

"Lyon cause us trouble in every game we play against them," said Neymar.

"The score doesn't show how hard this game was. This game was Mbappe's and he was essential in the victory."


3 - Neymar double honours Kobe (January 26, 2020)

As news of a helicopter crash involving NBA legend Kobe Bryant circulated on social media, Neymar paid his respects with a brace as PSG won 2-0 at Lille.

The former Barcelona star opened the scoring following a one-two with Marco Verratti before adding a second-half penalty.

"Kobe’s death affected me a lot," said Neymar.

"I had the pleasure of meeting him and learning from this star of sport, an idol for me. We got to know what happened during half-time. We were very sad, really sad. It was a tough game and the news, instead of knocking us down, made us bigger."


2 - Late joy at Lyon (September 22, 2019)

PSG moved three points clear at the top of Ligue 1 after Neymar grabbed an 87th-minute winner at Lyon.

The hosts withstood some strong PSG pressure but could do little as Neymar turned beautifully in the box to fire into the corner.

"There was lots of pressure on this game, but at the end of it the goal came," Neymar said.

"I received a pass from Di María and, thanks to God, I made the right option and was very happy. I turned my body around and got it on my left foot. An important goal."

 


1 - Silencing the critics (September 14, 2019)

Having missed the first four Ligue 1 games of the season after attempting to engineer a move back to Barcelona, Neymar made a stunning return.

He was booed by the Parc des Princes faithful when his name was read out, and throughout a tense encounter, but the Brazilian had the final say.

With the game in injury-time, Neymar latched on to Abdou Diallo's cross and conjured up an incredible overhead kick to win the game.

He said: "I needed a goal at any cost, it was very important for me and for PSG. I knew that a goal could change the history of this season, so I chased it with all I had.

"It was almost at the end of the game when Diallo launched the ball, there was no choice other than to try a bicycle kick. God blessed me and the ball went in.

"I put this goal as one of the most important goals of my career."

Luis Suarez views Barcelona's reported interest in fellow forwards Neymar and Lautaro Martinez as an encouraging sign.

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar continues to be linked with a return to Camp Nou having won two LaLiga titles and a Champions League playing alongside Suarez during his previous stint at the club.

He is not the only striker reportedly on Barca's radar, though, with Inter's Martinez another attacker thought to be considered an intriguing prospect to the Blaugrana hierarchy.

Rather than see such speculation as a threat to his place in the team, Suarez has given his approval to those pursuits.

"It is difficult to talk about players today," he told Mundo Deportivo. 

"As is the situation in the world today, talking about who can come because of how everything is complicated. But I can speak about what these players are like and they are huge players. 

"Obviously, Ney, everyone knows him and we know the appreciation that we have for him in the dressing room, which as a player is indisputable because he still has a lot to give and in the dressing room he would always be welcome because of the affection he has. 

"Lautaro is a player who has been growing a lot in Italy, he is a 'nine' who has movements that are spectacular and that reflects how great a striker he is. 

"It is not that you feel compatible but that you feel happy that the club wants to incorporate players who come to help and fulfil the same objective of everyone - that of wanting to win everything. 

"Then when it comes to healthy competition in the team, which there will always, we will always be on the same side. 

"So players who come to fight for a place and help the team will always be welcome, it will always be better and it will strengthen the group."

Cristiano Ronaldo has been linked with a stunning return to Real Madrid, but it seems that is just about impossible.

The Juventus star only left the Santiago Bernabeu in 2018, yet recent reports linked him with a Madrid return.

However, it appears that is unlikely.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID RETURN FOR RONALDO RULED OUT

Real Madrid are not thinking about bringing Ronaldo back, according to both Marca and Sport.

It has been reported that Juve would consider selling Ronaldo for €60million, which is €40m less than what they paid in July 2018.

Ronaldo had scored 25 goals in 32 games this season before it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ROUND-UP

- Neymar continues to be linked with a return to Barcelona. Sport reports Paris Saint-Germain would be willing to accept payment in instalments from Barcelona, something that proved to be an issue last close season.

- Paul Pogba looks set to leave Manchester United for either Juventus or Real Madrid. AS reports the France midfielder will prioritise an offer from the LaLiga giants.

- On loan at PSG from Inter, Mauro Icardi's future is uncertain. Sport reports PSG have decided they will use their purchase option of €70m to land the forward permanently.

- It seems Barcelona know what they want for Philippe Coutinho. The LaLiga giants have set their price for the attacker, who is on loan at Bayern Munich, at €90m, according to Sport.

- David Silva will leave Manchester City at the end of the season and where he ends up remains to be seen. CalcioMercato reports AC Milan met the playmaker's agents over a possible move.

- It is shaping as a busy close season at Barcelona. Sport reports PSG left-back Layvin Kurzawa, out of contract at campaign's end, wants a move to Barcelona. Meanwhile, AS reports Barca are also eyeing Real Madrid's 19-year-old midfielder Cesar Gelabert.

Football at the highest level in Europe is at a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic, but there remains plenty to play for in France's 2019-20 Ligue 1 campaign.

When the virus hit, causing lockdowns and mass sporting postponements, it was just as the seasons were heading towards their conclusion.

Debate has raged across the continent as to how the campaigns can be salvaged, but most league bodies are leaning towards a continuing determination to wrap up this term before wading into 2020-21.

As football waits for the virus threat to subside, and for normal life to return, the Stats Perform AI team have been crunching the numbers behind the scenes.

Most teams in Ligue 1 have 10 matches still to play - only leaders Paris Saint-Germain and mid-table Strasbourg have 11 remaining - and the goal was to simulate how the season would pan out if the games were played now, to produce a final 2019-20 table.

 

The data model estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss - based on each team's attacking and defensive quality.

Those ratings are allocated based on four years' worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for improvements or declines in form and performance trends.

The AI simulation takes into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes goals against and rewards them accordingly.

All that data is used to simulate upcoming matches using goal predictions from the Poisson distribution – a detailed mathematical model - with the two teams' attacking and defending ratings used as inputs.

The outcome of the season is then simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.

Here, then, is a close look at the results of the simulation with the simulated final league standings.

 

PSG STORM TO TITLE HAT-TRICK

A third Ligue 1 triumph in succession, and a seventh in the last eight years, had long looked an inevitability.

Our model shows Paris Saint-Germain sweeping to glory with 94 points, pulling 23 points clear of second-placed Marseille.

That beats their total from each of the last two seasons - 93 in 2017-18 and 91 in 2018-19 - and confirms PSG remain streets ahead in France.

Thomas Tuchel's side, with the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar in their ranks, have a budget that far exceeds the rest, and another 90-points-plus campaign shows how far they are ahead of the rest.

MARSEILLE SETTLE FOR SECOND

Andre Villas-Boas has rejuvenated Marseille and bolstered his reputation as a leading coach this season, and second place became theirs for the taking.

The AI verdict shows them nailing down the runners-up position, albeit by taking just 15 points from the last 10 rounds of matches.

There had been a momentary stumble from Marseille before the league was halted, with a rare home defeat to Nantes followed by a narrow win at Nimes and a Stade Velodrome 2-2 draw with relegation-threatened Amiens.

Yet a return to the Champions League is on the cards, the simulation shows, with Marseille securing their highest Ligue 1 finish since the 2012-13 season, when they were also runners-up to PSG.

Rennes, meanwhile, are set for a Champions League debut in 2020-21, with Julien Stephan's team pipping Lille to third place despite both teams finishing on 62 points.

 

A LILLE DISAPPOINTMENT

Fourth place represents a blow to Lille, and their coach Christophe Galtier, after last season's second-placed finish.

It earns them another season in European football, but in the Europa League rather than a return to the Champions League.

Lille and Rennes were jostling for third spot when the season reached its unnatural break, and Galtier would have been optimistic his side would have been able to overturn their one-point deficit at the 28-game stage.

The plus point for Lille is that at least the AI simulation does not see them stumbling any further down the table, with the likes of Lyon, Monaco and Nice too far back to mount a challenge.

Just four points separated fifth from 13th place when the league was stopped in March, but an eight-point gap to the top four meant these teams were always likely to be playing for pride.

Reims, who sat fifth, dip to ninth place at the season's end.

THE SINKING, SUNK

It's au revoir to Amiens and Toulouse.

Toulouse had already looked doomed, sitting on 13 points from 28 games, and despite the Stats Perform AI suggesting they would pick up a further 10 points from the final 10 games, it would not be nearly enough.

It was a bleak picture as well for Amiens, who were too far off the pace after racking up just four wins before the virus struck down football.

Nimes are projected to finish 18th and face a relegation play-off, despite a blitz of wins in February that sent optimism surging through Bernard Blaquart's side.

Les Crocodiles beat Monaco, Dijon, Nice and Angers in a 15-day burst before defeats to Rennes, Marseille and Metz left Nimes back in the mire, three points shy of Saint-Etienne and Dijon, the teams perched precariously outside the bottom three.

Nimes would fall short of repeating their four-in-a-row heroics over the run-in, according to the simulated results, leaving the team that finished ninth after promotion last season within two games of sinking back to Ligue 2.

Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva's agent Paulo Tonietto said "anything is possible" amid links to former club Milan.

Silva is out of contract at the end of the 2019-20 season and the 35-year-old is set to leave Ligue 1 champions PSG.

The Brazilian centre-back is reportedly open to re-joining Milan, where he won the Serie A title in 2011 before joining PSG the following year.

"In football anything is possible, but we have to wait to see what will happen because of the pandemic," Tonietto told MilanNews.it.

"He has great admiration for Milan, his years with them were those that marked his career.

"He knows about the fans' great affection for him."

Silva has won six Ligue 1 titles since moving to PSG, and 14 other pieces of silverware in the French capital.

Prior the postponement of Ligue 1 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Silva had made 21 league appearances and 30 across all competitions.

Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar said he was deeply affected by the death of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant.

Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were tragically killed in a helicopter crash in January, along with seven others in Calabasas, California.

Neymar paid tribute to Bryant at the time, wearing a jersey in honour of the five-time NBA champion, while he dedicated a goal to the 2008 MVP by holding up two fingers on one hand and four on the other – referencing the famous number 24 – in a Ligue 1 victory over Lille in February.

Recalling Bryant's death, Neymar told Vogue Men Arabia: "His death affected me a lot because our lives had much in common.

"I met Kobe personally and the times he came to Paris. When you meet the person behind the athlete, it creates a different relationship and with Kobe, it was very special. Sports and society lost a great guy."

Neymar, who continues to be linked with a return to former club Barcelona, has been hampered by injuries since joining PSG in a world-record €222million transfer in 2017.

"There is nothing worse for a professional athlete than an injury," the Brazilian forward added.

"I really suffered with injuries these last two seasons and I had many moments of questioning myself.

"Half of the success of an athlete is the mind. If the mind is good, the game flows more naturally."

Barcelona have been warned against pandering to their players' apparent desire to see Neymar return to the club, with former Spain and Real Madrid boss Vicente del Bosque adamant he does not set a "good example".

Neymar spent four years at Camp Nou until 2017, when he left for Paris Saint-Germain as the most expensive player of all time in a €222million move.

While the Brazilian has undoubtedly caught the eye in Paris, scoring 47 goals and setting up another 26 in just 52 Ligue 1 matches, rarely has he appeared happy.

A return to Spain with Barca or Real Madrid has often been mooted, though reports linking him with his former club have been significantly more prominent in the past year.

Del Bosque, a Madrid icon and World Cup-winning coach with Spain, thinks he is a problem and cautioned the Barca hierarchy against caving into the supposed demands of players who reportedly want Neymar back in Catalonia.

"It is the clubs that must decide who to sign and who not to sign," Del Bosque told Mundo Deportivo.

"You should not pay attention to what the players say, for that there are sports directors and technical secretaries. It is very difficult for a footballer to speak ill of another footballer who has been his team-mate. I don't remember almost anyone who has.

"[Neymar] is a difficult boy. For me he is not a good example, and for the record, for me he is great as a player.

"If you ask me to tell you the top five in the world, he is safely on my list, but on the pitch he tries to cheat, he simulates a lot. And also, how did he leave Barcelona?"

The futures of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe continue to make headlines.

Both Paris Saint-Germain players have been linked with big moves to LaLiga.

But coronavirus could scupper their plans.

 

TOP STORY – CORONAVIRUS TO STOP NEYMAR & MBAPPE EXITS

Paris Saint-Germain expect star pair Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to stay at the Ligue 1 champions due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to L'Equipe.

Neymar has been tipped to re-join Barcelona, while Real Madrid hold a strong interest in Mbappe.

But COVID-19 is wreaking havoc globally and the financial implications, which are expected to prompt a fall in transfer fees, could see the pair remain in Paris.

 

ROUND-UP

- Mundo Deportivo says Inter have turned down an exchange deal for Lautaro Martinez from Barca. LaLiga champions Barca offered Junior Firpo and Nelson Semedo as part of a deal to bring Martinez to Camp Nou, however, they were rebuffed.

Matthijs de Ligt wants to leave Juventus and his agent Mino Raiola is determined to take the Dutch defender to Madrid, reports ABC. De Ligt has also been linked to Premier League giants Manchester United. The 20-year-old only moved to Turin last year.

Milan are "dreaming" of signing Inter's Mauro Icardi, claims Corriere dello Sport. Icardi – not wanted by Inter – is on loan at PSG but the Argentina international reportedly wants to return to Serie A. The report comes amid speculation ex-Inter head coach Luciano Spalletti could be appointed by Milan for the 2020-21 season. Icardi has also been heavily linked to Juve.

- Calciomercato says Harry Kane to Juventus could be a possibility in the coming months, however, a deal with Tottenham is almost impossible amid the coronavirus pandemic.

- Milan captain and defender Alessio Romagnoli has emerged as a target for Barca, according to Sport. If Romagnoli leaves San Siro, Thiago Silva could return. Tuttosport says the 35-year-old PSG defender, who is out of contract at season's end, is thinking about returning to Milan.

Napoli are in the hunt for a replacement for Arkadiusz Milik, reports Gazzetta dello Sport. Milik is contracted until 2021 but the Polish striker is no closer to a new deal amid links to Milan. If he does leave, Napoli's list of targets includes Inter's Genoa Andrea Pinamonti, Madrid forward Luka Jovic and Mainz attacker Jean-Philippe Mateta.

- Calciomercato says Juve have decided to sell midfielder Miralem Pjanic to free up space in the squad and raise funds. Meanwhile, Gianluca Di Marzio claims Federico Bernardeschi will leave Juve following the arrival of Dejan Kulusevski.

Neymar is reportedly preparing for a return to Barcelona as Paris Saint-Germain accept the star's exit is "inevitable".

The Brazil international arrived at PSG from Barca in 2017 but has regularly been linked with a move back to Camp Nou.

Speculation over Neymar's future continues and he seems to be nearing a Barcelona return.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR PREPARES FOR BARCELONA RETURN AS PSG ACCEPT 'INEVITABLE' EXIT

Neymar is preparing for a Barcelona return and PSG are getting a strategy ready to sell the 28-year-old as it is 'inevitable' he will move on, according to Sport.

Neymar spent four seasons at Barca before a world-record €222million move to PSG.

The forward scored 18 goals in 22 games for PSG before this season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ROUND-UP

- Jadon Sancho is linked with a Premier League move this close season. But The Sun reports the Borussia Dortmund star is ready to reject Manchester United if they fail to secure a spot in the Champions League. United were fifth in the Premier League when the season was suspended.

- Mauro Icardi's future remains uncertain. Corriere dello Sport reports Icardi will leave PSG, where he is on loan from Inter, at the end of the season and Juventus are once again interested.

- With Manchester United again seemingly interested in Matthijs de Ligt, a swap deal could be on the cards. The Sun reports United are ready to swap Paul Pogba – who has been linked with a return to Juventus – for defender De Ligt.

- It may not be the only swap deal involving a Manchester club and Juventus. The Sun says Juve are ready to offer Douglas Costa to Manchester City in a bid to land Gabriel Jesus.

- Ivan Rakitic appears likely to leave Barcelona. Marca reports Atletico Madrid want the midfielder, while Sport reports Barcelona are unaware of their rivals' interest in the Croatia international.

- Barcelona were reportedly prepared to use Junior Firpo in a deal to sign Inter star Lautaro Martinez, but the left-back could head elsewhere. Sport reports Napoli are the most recent club to contact Barca over Junior's availability.

The last Coupe de la Ligue final should have been taking place on Saturday.

Paris Saint-Germain were scheduled to face Lyon at the Stade de France, but the coronavirus pandemic bringing almost all sport to a halt has thrown the postponed match into doubt.

It remains to be seen whether the final game in the competition's history will actually be contested, French football's governing body having voted to expunge the tournament at the end of this season.

The Coupe de la Ligue may not have the same prestige as the Coupe de France, but over the years it has delivered some memorable finals.

Here we pick out the five best showpieces.

1998 – Paris Saint-Germain 2-2 Bordeaux (4-2 on penalties)

PSG claimed the second of their eight Couple de la Ligue titles in a bona-fide thriller at the Stade de France. 

They were behind 30 minutes in when Sylvain Wiltord played in Johan Micoud to lash in the opener. However, PSG dominated thereafter and 10 minutes from time they levelled as Marco Simone fired home on the rebound after Ulrich Rame had kept out Rai's penalty.

Simone then struck the crossbar with a thunderous long-range volley, but Rai put PSG ahead in extra time with a bullet header.

The legendary Jean-Pierre Papin restored parity in the 114th minute but he was among those to miss in the shoot-out, blazing over the bar before Patrice Loko slotted in the decisive penalty.

It marked the second successive year Bordeaux had lost on spot-kicks in the final. Less than a month later, PSG made it a double with Coupe de France victory over Lens.

2000 – Gueugnon 2-0 Paris Saint-Germain

PSG suffered humiliation two years later as Gueugnon became the first and only team from outside the top division to win the trophy.

Marcelo Trapasso gave the second-tier side the lead as he reacted quickest to Nicolas Esceth-N'Zi's drive rattling the post.

Gueugnon withstood a barrage of PSG pressure but ensured a historic victory through Sylvain Flauto's individual effort.

2001 – Lyon 2-1 Monaco (aet)

A meeting between the previous season's top-flight champions and the club that would go on to dominate the decade lived up to expectations and ended in dramatic fashion.

Claudio Cacapa was the unlikely man to break the deadlock, the Brazilian defender chipping over Stephane Porato in the 35th minute. 

Shabani Nonda forced extra time as his volley squirmed past Gregory Coupet, but two minutes from the end of the second additional period substitute Patrick Muller met Sonny Anderson's left-wing cross to settle an absorbing encounter.

2003 – Monaco 4-1 Sochaux

There was no late drama for Monaco this time around as Didier Deschamps' side produced the kind of performance they dazzled Europe with en route to the Champions League final in the subsequent season.

It was Ludovic Giuly who lit up the Stade de France with a stunning display marked by two wondrous goals as Monaco netted four in the space of 21 second-half minutes.

He opened the scoring by finding the bottom-left corner with a vicious half-volley and, after Sebastien Squillaci and Dado Prso had effectively put the game beyond doubt, Giuly added gloss with an exquisite lob to cap one of the finest individual Coupe de la Ligue final performances.

2008 – Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 Lens

Ten years on from their previous triumph in the competition, PSG reclaimed the trophy with the help of a dreadful late error from Lens defender Hilton.

Lens had looked the more likely to emerge victorious after Eric Carriere cancelled out Pauleta's deft lob.

However, with the game on the brink of extra time, Hilton bundled over Peguy Luyindula and Bernard Mendy's staggered run-up fooled Ronan Le Crom as he calmly converted from 12 yards to send PSG fans into delirium.

PSG were subsequently banned from the 2008-09 competition for an insulting banner unfurled by some of their supporters. The punishment was overturned on appeal, and they have since won the competition five further times under their Qatari owners.

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