Nicolo Zaniolo said he is "very happy" at Roma amid links to Premier League giants Manchester United.

Zaniolo signed a long-term contract with Roma through to June 2024, but it has not stopped speculation over his future.

The 20-year-old Italy international, who joined Roma last season, has reportedly attracted interest from United.

But Zaniolo wants to repay the confidence shown in him by Serie A side Roma.

"The minimum objective this season is to improve day by day. We want to win every game. The objective is qualifying for the Champions League," Zaniolo told Sky Sport Italia.

"I'm very happy, Roma have given me so much confidence, now I'll repay it on the pitch. I'm proud to represent these fans, I feel very good here.

"The things Fonseca has to say, he says to your face. He's a very direct person and he’s helping me improve."

Zaniolo scored a brace in Italy's 9-1 demolition of Armenia in Euro 2020 qualifying on Monday.

At club level, Zaniolo has netted five goals in all competitions for Roma this term.

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford insists there is no better manager for the club than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer despite suggestions they could be interested in Mauricio Pochettino.

Tottenham sacked Pochettino this week and replaced him with former United boss Jose Mourinho, with Spurs having won only four of their past 18 matches in all competitions.

There has been talk that United could consider turning to Pochettino to take over from Solskjaer, whose side have only managed two more points than Spurs from their opening 12 Premier League games of the season.

However, Rashford - who signed a new four-year contract in July – said Solskjaer's plans were part of the reason why he committed his future to the club.

"There was no hesitation from me over signing a new contract," he told Sky Sports News.

"And it was the same for Ole as well – I could see where his head was at, where he wanted the club to be at and for me it was just a no-brainer.

"We were on the same page and wanted the same things for the club. Ole is a great guy and he has the club's interests at heart so there's not a better person for the job in my opinion."

While he supports Solskjaer, Rashford admits he will not be happy if United end the season in the Premier League's top four but without winning a trophy.

The Red Devils have not won meaningful silverware since claiming the EFL Cup and Europa League in Mourinho's first term in charge in 2016-17.

With the Premier League title seemingly out of their reach already this season – leaders Liverpool are already 18 points ahead of United after 12 matches – Solskjaer's routes to success lie in the cup competitions.

There is pressure on United to return to the Champions League after failing to qualify last season, but Rashford does not think 2019-20 can be considered a success unless they also win at least one of the EFL Cup, FA Cup or Europa League.

"It's been a while," the England international added about United's barren run of titles. "If we come out of this season with top four but without a trophy, I wouldn't be happy.

"If we manage to get some trophies and get ourselves into the top four then, of course, it has been a successful season.

"For me, it is just about putting markers down for what we can do in the future because we know that this period is not going to change overnight, Ole's not going to get what he wants overnight.

"We have to bide our time and just be patient, as long as we keep working hard and believe in what we are doing – which I think the team do 100 per cent – then I think we will be fine."

Jose Mourinho seemingly has Gareth Bale in his Tottenham plans, but he will have to wait until before the start of next season.

Mourinho was named Spurs head coach on Wednesday, a day after the Premier League club sacked Mauricio Pochettino.

Unsurprisingly, there is plenty of talk around his potential movements in the transfer market – including a Tottenham return for Bale.

 

TOP STORY – MOURINHO EYES BALE, BUT CAN'T SPEND IN JANUARY

Mourinho's arrival at Tottenham offers Bale the perfect escape route from Real Madrid, according to AS.

The star attacker left Spurs for Madrid in 2013, but is set to leave the LaLiga giants at season's end, the report says.

Marca reports Madrid have ruled out a January exit for Bale. That would suit Mourinho, who has been told there is no money to spend in the January window, according to The Guardian.

ROUND-UP

- Mourinho has more pressing matters at Spurs. The Mirror reports Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, who are out of contract at season's end, are intrigued by the prospect of working under Mourinho and are open minded about their futures.

- It could have been different for Spurs. According to the Daily Mail, Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers was Tottenham's first choice before they turned to Mourinho.

- Meanwhile, the sacked Pochettino may not be out of management for too long. Barcelona and Bayern Munich are ready to pounce for the former Spurs manager, according to The Sun. Ernesto Valverde is under pressure at Camp Nou, while interim boss Hansi Flick will coach Bayern until at least the end of the year.

- Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be getting closer to sorting out his future. Sky Sport reports AC Milan spoke to the departing LA Galaxy striker's agent Mino Raiola on Wednesday about the possibility of a return to San Siro.

- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is in no rush to renew his Arsenal contract and with good reason. Sport reports the forward is waiting to find out how serious Barcelona's interest in him is before extending a deal that runs until 2021.

- Needing a striker, Manchester United are considering a January move for Roma's Edin Dzeko, according to ESPN FC. Dzeko has scored five goals in 12 Serie A games this season, and United are looking to finally bolster their attack after losing Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez in the close season.

- Olivier Giroud has made just one Premier League start for Chelsea this season and the striker could be set for a January exit. La Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter are considering a move for Giroud in January as they look for a back-up for Lukaku.

As football fans in the United Kingdom awoke bleary eyed to take in the Premier League story of the season, one word stood out in the statement announcing Jose Mourinho's appointment as Tottenham's head coach – a ghost of hubris past.

"I am excited to be joining a club with such a great heritage and such passionate supporters," Mourinho said.

Heritage. Football heritage.

This was the subject of Mourinho's self-pitying soliloquy in the aftermath of Manchester United's limp Champions League last-16 exit at the hands of Sevilla in March 2018.

A much-trumpeted union that returned two trophies in its first season was going south and Mourinho tried to circle the wagons.

During a 12-minute address where "heritage" was mentioned 10 times, his general point was he had been dealt a duff hand at United. Other rivals were better equipped, having spent more money more effectively to breed cultures of sustained success.

One of the flaws in his argument – there were a few – was the reality of him talking as the manager of Manchester United, the 20-time champions of England. He selected an £89.3million midfielder on the bench for the 2-1 loss to Sevilla at Old Trafford, where he trudged the technical area forlornly under the glare of the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand.

Much as he would talk in reverent terms of his second-place in the Premier League that season, 19 points behind champions Manchester City, Mourinho failed at United.

Another press conference rant, where he exited the room demanding "respect" from those present, came after a 3-0 home loss to Spurs five months on from the Sevilla debacle. Mourinho was a man who had lost the thread and any notion of him succeeding Mauricio Pochettino, who so comprehensively bested him that night, felt beyond absurd at that moment.

Underdog, not top dog

Similarly, the 2011-12 LaLiga title triumph at Real Madrid took a heavy toll upon coach and squad alike, with his Santiago Bernabeu tenure concluding unsatisfactorily 12 months later. When in charge of greats of the game, clubs familiar with prolonged and recent success, Mourinho's schtick came up short.

His greatest deeds played out in sharply contrasting circumstances.

No team outside Europe's "big five" leagues had won the Champions League in the eight years before Mourinho masterminded Porto's march to glory in 2003-04 and none have since.

Chelsea were flushed with Roman Abramovich's riches but had not won an English championship since 1954-55. The self-proclaimed Special One delivered two in two seasons after arriving at Stamford Bridge as a freshly minted European champion.

Mourinho reacquainted himself with the continent's big trophy at Inter. The 2009-10 Champions League was the Nerazzuri's third win in the competition but first since 1964-65.

That triumph symbolically came at the Bernabeu, with the big job lying in wait for a man who had defined a decade in European club football. It concluded Mourinho's imperial period.

The rancour and recriminations of the past nine years leads to an understandable conclusion Tottenham have appointed a downgrade on Pochettino, replacing one of football's brightest contemporary minds with yesterday's man.

But if anything should encourage tentative enthusiasm for the third act of Mourinho's coaching career at the elite level, it is that Spurs bear more resemblance to the Porto, Chelsea and Inter teams he took hold of than Madrid or United.

Pochettino's sustained excellent over the past five seasons in north London does not mean the scars of "Spursy", "St Totteringham's Day" and other mockery do not still sting a little for a club starved of trophy success. Spurs feels like a place where Mourinho can promise the world and demand everyone falls into line far more effectively than when in charge of a superclub.

Those are the jobs Mourinho aspires to – and probably the roles Pochettino will grace soon enough – but it is hard to escape the feeling he has always been better suited to the rung below, with a point to prove and the spite to fuel a siege mentality his men will buy into. 

Alli as Lampard, Kane as Drogba?

So, what of that squad? That all important heritage.

It feels safe to say Mourinho is far happier with his lot than when he walked into Old Trafford. Not least because the likes of Danny Rose, Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier and Harry Kane were all touted as United targets when he was in Manchester.

His best teams have featured a potent striker willing to work hard for the cause, hard running wingers and a goalscoring threat from attacking midfield. Kane, Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura and Dele Alli in tandem could feel instantly more "Mourinho" than anything he threw together at United.

Behind them, a combination of Dier and club-record signing Tanguy Ndombele feel equipped to provide the power and control his most dominant engine rooms boasted.

As for an aging Tottenham defence, they will probably welcome the defensive line being dropped a touch deeper, in line with their new boss' more reactive principles. Indeed, a squad featuring seasoned, maturing professionals arguably come under Mourinho's charge at the right time – no longer the all-action, do-or-die tyros who served Pochettino so well until recently.

"It's a privilege when a manager goes to a club and feels happiness in relation to the squad that he's going to have," a suited and smiling Mourinho told Spurs TV. The smile won't last over the course of a three-and-a-half year contract – it never does – but in the meantime, he might just have found the right place to earn a little more of that respect he craves.

Jamaica international Rodolph Austin recently admitted he was forced to learn the hard way when it comes to the seriousness of local rivalries in English football.

The hard-nosed central midfielder spent three seasons at the West Yorkshire club Leeds United where he became somewhat of a folk hero for his no-holds-barred brand of play.  The Jamaican, who signed for the club in 2012, was given an education on the nature of English football’s rivalries soon after at a most unlikely place, the car dealership.

"I needed a car and I remember going to a dealership.  I saw a red Audi and I remember saying: 'Wow, this is nice, I'm going to get it!’

Austin told Esbjerg fB, his current club in Denmark.

"I went up to the guy and asked him the price for the red Audi outside and he said: 'You can't get it.' So I said: 'I have the money, why can't I get it?”

"He said: 'When you play for Leeds, you can't drive anything red, you can't have anything to do with anything red.' I was like: 'Why?'

"He said: 'You cannot have anything to do with red because of the rivalry between Manchester United and Leeds is so big so no-one can wear red or have anything to do with red.'

"I didn't even know the guy was a Leeds fan and it just shows you the rivalry so strongly and I had to end up buying a white car."

Austin made more than 100 appearances for the Elland Road club, even winning the club’s goal of the season award in the 2014-2015 season.  He left England for Denmark after failing to secure a work permit in 2015.  The 34-year-old has made 84 appearances for the Jamaica national team.  The player has served as captain for both Leeds and his national team.

 

Manchester United have been boosted by the return of trio Luke Shaw, Axel Tuanzebe and Nemanja Matic to full training.

United visit Sheffield United on Sunday following the international break, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men chase back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time since March.

The return of first-choice left-back Shaw comes as a big boost, the England international having been out with a hamstring injury since August.

Tuanzebe was one of the players tasked with filling the void on the left side of the defence but he too is only now back in the frame after a hip injury forced him out of the warm-up before the match against Liverpool last month.

Teenage defender Brandon Williams has impressed at left-back in the meantime.

United could also soon have Matic back involved. He has not played since the start of October but rejoins the fold as midfield colleague Scott McTominay battles an ankle issue.

Jose Mourinho was on Wednesday named Mauricio Pochettino's successor at Tottenham.

It's a remarkable return to English football for one of the game's most successful, and controversial, managers.

A quick look at the fixture list shows the Portuguese will have to hit the ground running if he is to turn Spurs' season around - the north London side are 14th heading into the weekend clash at West Ham, 11 points adrift of a Champions League spot.

After the cross-capital clash on Saturday, Mourinho will have to plot a route through a congested fixture list that also sees clashes with some old friends and foes.

A DERBY DATE FOR STARTERS - WEST HAM (A), SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23

Fittingly, Mourinho opens his Tottenham tenure against a West Ham team managed by someone he has clashed with previously.

Mourinho fired a succession of barbs at Manuel Pellegrini after succeeding him as Real Madrid boss in 2010, repeatedly and deliberately calling him "Pellegrino" before claiming "if they [Real] get rid of me, I will go to a big club in the Premier League or Serie A," when Pellegrini went to Malaga.

Further verbals were traded when the pair were at Chelsea and Manchester City respectively, and there is no doubt Mourinho would relish the opportunity to push his rival closer towards the sack.

West Ham have not won in six Premier League games and suffered a humiliating 4-0 thumping at League One side Oxford United in the EFL Cup in September.

 

AN EARLY GREEK TRAGEDY? - OLYMPIACOS (H), TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 26

Spurs may have struggled domestically this season, but it has been a different story in the Champions League and victory over the Greek side will guarantee them a place in the knock-out stages.

Pochettino guided the club to their first Champions League final last season, where they lost to Liverpool, an amazing feat Mourinho will do well to replicate.

He could not ask for better opponents for his first home game, however. Olympiacos prop up Group B having taken just one point from their four games - against Spurs in Piraeus - while conceding 10 goals in the process.

OLD TRAFFORD RETURN - MANCHESTER UNITED (A), WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4

It will be fascinating to see what kind of reception Mourinho receives when he takes Tottenham to Manchester United.

While the Portuguese regularly flagged his achievements before arriving at Old Trafford, his two-and-a-half-year spell in Manchester was mixed.

He claimed EFL Cup and Europa League titles, but it was a reign characterised by acrimony with key players in his squad.

His successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has also struggled and Mourinho will see this as a wonderful opportunity to make a statement.

 

A PRE-CHRISTMAS CRACKER - CHELSEA (H), SUNDAY, DECEMBER 22

Mourinho faces another of his former clubs when Chelsea visit Tottenham Hotspur Stadium three days before Christmas.

The 56-year-old enjoyed enormous success across two spells at Stamford Bridge but was roundly jeered on his last visit with Manchester United.

In response, Mourinho held up three figures to signify the number of Premier League titles he won with the club, in addition to an FA Cup success.

If the love affair was on the rocks then, Mourinho's move to Chelsea's London rivals means it is now officially over.

HOLA PEP! - MANCHESTER CITY (H), SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 1

Two of the game's most successful managers - and perennial rivals - over the past 10 years, Guardiola and Mourinho continue to slug it out at the highest level.

From undignified rows when at Real Madrid and Barcelona to a more peaceful co-habitation of Manchester, the latest chapter promises to be equally engaging.

By early February, City will likely be in the title race while Spurs' push for a top-four finish could be in full swing.

Either way, this promises to be another intriguing encounter.

Jose Mourinho has been given a shot at Premier League redemption with Tottenham.

Almost a year on from his acrimonious exit from Manchester United, the two-time Champions League winner has an unexpected chance to prove his best work is not confined to the past.

As the Special One aims to rise again, we reflect on the highs and lows of a managerial career full of highlights and high drama.


HIGHS

Upstaging the elite with Porto

Mourinho made his name at Porto, where he orchestrated perhaps the most unlikely Champions League triumph of the 21st century. Deco and Ricardo Carvalho were among the stars of the side that overcame future employers United, Lyon and Deportivo La Coruna en route to a meeting with Monaco in Gelsenkirchen. An emphatic 3-0 win secured Mourinho the continent's most coveted trophy in just his second full season in charge and laid the foundation for a silver-tinged future.


Tripletta treat

Inter snapped up Mourinho in June 2008, less than a year on from his initial split with Chelsea. It proved a perfect marriage of two tempestuous forces. After cantering to the Scudetto at the first attempt, Mourinho set his sights on guiding the Nerazzurri to greater heights in 2009-10. He did that and then some. Inter pipped Roma to the title, won the Coppa Italia and, after stunning Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals, Mourinho scaled Europe's highest peak for the second time, a 2-0 defeat of Bayern Munich crowning a magnificent treble.


Madrid make history

Mourinho's decision to depart San Siro for the Santiago Bernabeu brought little immediate success as Real Madrid claimed only the Copa del Rey in an underwhelming 2010-11 campaign. Cristiano Ronaldo had grander plans and his 46 goals the following season fired Los Blancos to a LaLiga title, their one and only under Mourinho. Most impressive was the team's final tally of 100 points, at the time a LaLiga record.


The best of the rest

In a January 2019 interview with beIN SPORTS, Mourinho suggested some would call him "crazy" for regarding a second-place finish with United as one of his greatest achievements. On reflection, it seems a reasonable assertion. United might have finished 19 points adrift of champions Manchester City in 2017-18 but now, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer struggling to cobble together a team fit for Europe, finishing above Spurs, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal appears an admirable feat.

LOWS

Chelsea return ruined

Parting ways with Chelsea once must have been painful enough for a manager who won worldwide recognition in his first Premier League job. To leave in ignominious circumstances a second time surely rankles among his greatest regrets. The Blues described Mourinho as a "much-loved, respected and significant figure" after relieving him of his duties in December 2015 but it was clear that not all held the same affection for him. Mourinho suggested he felt "betrayed" by his players amid a miserable beginning to their title defence, leaving a stain on his Stamford Bridge legacy.

Problems with Pogba

Mourinho arrived at United at the same time as Paul Pogba and together the pair were supposed to lead a renaissance. Instead, they became caught in a vortex of middling results and worse relations. Mourinho's failure to extract the best from Pogba on the pitch, and their frosty exchanges off it, portrayed a manager unable to elevate top-class talent. His treatment of Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial attracted further criticism and echoed the sort of strained relationships that were apparent in Madrid, Mourinho having notably not seen eye to eye with Iker Casillas.

Down and out at United

Never before his exit from Old Trafford had Mourinho departed a club without winning a league title. Several were expected when he took charge of the Red Devils in 2016 and, though the resources of neighbours City reframed the standard measure of success, trophies in the EFL Cup and Europa League fell short of the brief. Mourinho stakes his reputation on winning major honours, not friends, yet he left with few of either when United called time on his reign almost 12 months ago. A playing style deemed unacceptable by supporters only contributed to the sense that the new Tottenham boss squandered an opportunity he keenly coveted. He will hope to avoid a repeat.

Jose Mourinho has proven a successful, and controversial figure, during his long managerial career.

Trophies have been plentiful, as have confrontations with rival managers.

There have been clashes in Italy, Spain and England as the former Porto, Chelsea, Inter, Real Madrid and Manchester United has made waves throughout Europe.

Here, we look back at five of Mourinho's most heated moments.


"Demenza senile"

Premier League managers having a go at each other is nothing new, but it felt like Antonio Conte and Mourinho crossed a line in the 2017-18 season. Mourinho appeared to implicate Conte when he suggested counterparts act like "clowns" on the touchline, with the Italian often running into the crowd to celebrate Chelsea goals.

From there, the row quickly escalated. Conte hit back, suggesting Mourinho was suffering from "demenza senile", which translates as senile dementia. Mourinho famously ran down the touchline at Old Trafford when Porto scored a key Champions League winner, but Conte had gone too far and Chelsea quickly clarified that he meant "amnesia".

Having successfully provoked Conte, Mourinho blamed the media for the whole affair and referenced match-fixing allegations made against Siena during Conte's time in charge. The former Italy boss served a ban but was later cleared of any wrongdoing. 

Conte then called Mourinho a "little man" and suggested he would seek to meet his rival "in a room" to sort out their difficulties.

Poking Tito Vilanova in the eye

It was assumed that Pep Guardiola and Mourinho would renew their old rivalry when the pair were appointed by Manchester City and United respectively in 2016, but the row never boiled over.

The closest they have come to fireworks was a clash in the Old Trafford tunnel following City's 2-1 win in the Manchester derby in December 2017. Mourinho allegedly went to the away dressing room to complain over the volume of City's celebrations, only for a melee to ensue. Guardiola was not present at the time and Mourinho later blamed a "diversity in education" between the two Manchester squads for the fracas.

Mourinho and Guardiola go way back, with the Portuguese believing he should have been appointed by Barcelona before they moved for their former player. Later, while in charge of Real Madrid, Mourinho saw his side thrashed 5-0 at Camp Nou, while he was sent off for gouging the eye of Guardiola's assistant, Tito Vilanova, during the 2011 Supercopa de Espana. Mourinho also suggested Guardiola's Barcelona won the 2010-11 Champions League by virtue of generous refereeing.

Wenger a 'specialist in failure'

That Mourinho seemingly lost interest in rowing with former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was probably a sign of how far the Gunners eventually fell under the veteran Frenchman. Mourinho no longer saw Wenger as a rival. It was not always the case, though, as Wenger was the subject of one of the 56-year-old's most famous rants, when he called the Arsenal manager a "specialist in failure".

Mourinho's Chelsea were a point clear of the Gunners atop the Premier League table in February 2014 when the Portuguese hit out at a long trophy-less wait for the Gunners. "If I do that in Chelsea, eight years, I leave and don't come back," Mourinho said.

Back in 2005, Wenger was called a "voyeur" by Mourinho. "He likes to watch other people," he said. "There are some guys who, when they are at home, have a big telescope to see what happens in other families. He speaks, speaks, speaks about Chelsea."

"I don't want to win the Europa League"

Mourinho has often had a problem with managers who succeeded him at clubs, with Rafael Benitez drawing his ire on multiple occasions. 

After Mourinho left Inter, Benitez took over and claimed the Club World Cup with the Serie A side. "I thought he was going to thank me for the title I gave him," said the ex-Porto boss.

Benitez took charge of Chelsea briefly between Mourinho's two spells at Stamford Bridge, leading the Blues to Europa League glory. "I don't want to win the Europa League," Mourinho said. "It would be a big disappointment for me."

Mourinho had obviously changed his tune by 2017, when winning the Europa League earned Manchester United a route into the Champions League.

Parking the bus

At United, Mourinho's team were often accused of 'parking the bus', which is ironic as he is credited with introducing the phrase to English football.

After a 0-0 draw against Tottenham in 2004 during his first Chelsea spell, Mourinho said: "As we say in Portugal, they brought the bus and they left the bus in front of the goal."

And after Inter knocked out Barca on the way to the Champions League title in 2010, Mourinho extended the metaphor further.

"We won the tie in Barcelona, but everyone talks about Barcelona winning and says we parked the bus in front of the goal," said Mourinho. "We didn't park the bus, we parked the plane."

Manchester City are going to great lengths to keep Raheem Sterling.

Though contracted until 2023, the England international's exceptional form has led to links with Real Madrid.

But it could earn him a fresh extension to his bumper deal at the Etihad Stadium.

 

TOP STORY – CITY SEEK STERLING INSURANCE

Premier League champions City have opened contract talks with star forward Sterling, according to the Mirror.

The 24-year-old agreed a new three-year extension a mere 12 months ago but City are taking no chances with his future amid rumours of interest from LaLiga giants Madrid.

Sterling has scored 14 goals in 17 club appearances this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Corriere dello Sport says Juventus are preparing a €100million offer for Valencia winger Ferran Torres, who has also been linked to Liverpool.

- Bayern Munich are interested in Tottenham teenager Troy Parrott and Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson, reports the Daily Mail. Parrott, 17, has caught the eye, while Henderson is on loan at Sheffield United.

- Napoli have offered Fabian Ruiz a contract extension through to 2025, claims Mundo Deportivo. Barcelona and Madrid are rumoured to want the Spain international midfielder.

- According to reports in Spain, Athletic Bilbao want to re-sign Javi Martinez from Bayern Munich. Martinez left the Basque club for Bayern in 2012.

Mauricio Pochettino has been sacked by Tottenham after their frustrating start to the Premier League season, though the Argentinian will seemingly have no shortage of potential suitors.

Pochettino led Spurs to four successive top-four finishes in the league and also oversaw a memorable charge to the Champions League final last season.

Tottenham went down 2-0 to Liverpool in Madrid, however, and with 12 games played in the top flight this term, they sit 14th, having won just three times. They also suffered a humiliating 7-2 home defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League last month.

Despite Spurs opting to make a change, Pochettino is still widely regarded as one of the most sought-after coaches in Europe.

We look at the teams most likely to come calling for his services.

MANCHESTER UNITED

After sacking Jose Mourinho in December 2018, Manchester United were heavily linked with Pochettino, but instead appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

However, since Solskjaer - who was initially handed an interim role at Old Trafford - took permanent charge in March, United's form has been inconsistent to say the least.

The Red Devils have managed just six Premier League victories since Solskjaer was named as their full-time boss and they sit just two points above Spurs in the table.

With a squad still in the midst of an apparent overhaul, United may well now rekindle their interest. Given Pochettino's Premier League experience, Solskjaer could feel the pressure should results not pick up.

REAL MADRID

Real Madrid have also been consistently touted to hold a major interest in Pochettino, with Los Blancos having endured a difficult season in 2018-19 after Zinedine Zidane elected to leave on the back of winning a third straight Champions League.

Zidane returned to the Santiago Bernabeu in March, of course, after a miserable stint from Julen Lopetegui and underwhelming performances under Santiago Solari.

Without Cristiano Ronaldo to call on, Zidane has not had quite the impact as he had during his first spell in charge, though Madrid do sit level on points with LaLiag leaders Barcelona.

Madrid would be able to offer the riches and resources Tottenham never could for Pochettino, but will they oust a club legend to bring him in?

BAYERN MUNICH

Bundesliga champions Bayern were ruthless in their decision to axe Niko Kovac earlier in November and are now on the hunt for a permanent replacement.

Interim coach Hansi Flick has won both of his matches in temporary charge - 2-0 against Olympiacos and 4-0 over Borussia Dortmund - but Bayern might be tempted by the opportunity to appoint a coach with the pedigree of Pochettino.

Like Madrid, Bayern could offer Pochettino plenty of money to spend in the transfer market, though there would also be the added expectation of silverware not only on the domestic front, but also in Europe.

BARCELONA

Citing his loyalty to Espanyol, Pochettino has previously claimed he would not wish to coach Barca - not to mention Lionel Messi. However, should the Catalan giants come calling, it may be difficult for Pochettino to turn down the opportunity to take the helm at Camp Nou.

Ernesto Valverde appeared to be on the brink of losing his job following last season's Champions League capitulation and defeat in the Copa del Rey final.

With Barca stuttering in both LaLiga and the Champions League so far this term, Valverde - who does not seem to be too popular with the club's fanbase - could well be on borrowed time now Pochettino is available.

ARGENTINA

Pochettino may wish to remain in club management for a while longer before moving into international coaching, but the draw of leading his nation towards the 2022 World Cup may be enough to tempt the 47-year-old.

Lionel Scaloni is currently in charge of the Argentina national team, taking the side to a third-place finish in this year's Copa America, though performances have remained inconsistent, with too great a reliance on Messi.

With the Barca forward surely set to feature in his final World Cup – should he play at all – in Qatar, Pochettino may relish the chance to take his country back to the pinnacle of international football.

Scott McTominay believes Manchester United will return from the international break heading in the right direction after an initially difficult start to the season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's future was the subject of significant scrutiny as United won just two of their opening nine Premier League games.

However, his side have emerged victorious in two of their last three league matches, with 3-1 wins over Norwich City and Brighton and Hove Albion sandwiched by a defeat at Bournemouth.

United are seventh in the table, nine points adrift of Manchester City in fourth, but they are through to the EFL Cup quarter-finals and are all but certain of a place in the knockout rounds of the Europa League, which provides the Red Devils with another potential route to next season's Champions League.

A trip to Sheffield United, who are a point above Solskjaer's men, awaits on Sunday, with McTominay upbeat ahead of a challenging fixture.

"In terms of the team, I feel we're much, much brighter," McTominay told United's official website.

"The signs are good, the signs are positive and we've talked about things that we can improve on and how we're going to try to improve by the end of the season, which is the business end of the season as well.

"We always have meetings [to discuss formations and tactics], that's normal. It's a normal thing to have meetings and for everybody to discuss, that's a normal thing and the sign of a healthy dressing room. Boys speaking among it in the changing room, saying what they think we can improve on and what are good ideas as well.

"There's plenty going on, it's not a place to be quiet and in your shell. It's time for people to really step up and start doing their jobs as well."

McTominay, who suffered an ankle injury against Brighton, pointed to the return of Anthony Martial, who has scored three goals in his last six games in all competitions, as a reason for positivity.

He added: "It's difficult to say but with the injuries we've had, I do think we've coped relatively well with a small squad and a lot of boys playing a lot of minutes in a short space of time.

"I think people forget that we have had a lot of injuries, and you can see with Anthony coming back what a difference he makes. 

"There are very positive signs and things are changing. Everybody is looking forward to the next game and wanting that next game to come as soon as possible.

"Everybody wants to play and that’s the sign of a healthy dressing room."

Paul Pogba has decided where he wants his next move to be, while Mauricio Pochettino is nearing a Tottenham exit.

Pogba, 26, was linked with a Manchester United departure during the close season but ended up staying at Old Trafford.

However, the France midfielder's future remains a talking point.

 

TOP STORY – POGBA PREFERS JUVENTUS RETURN OVER MADRID MOVE

Pogba would prefer to return to Juventus but would not say no to Real Madrid, according to Tuttosport.

The Serie A champions and LaLiga giants were the two clubs most heavily linked with a move for Pogba – who is contracted until 2021 – during the close season.

A potential Juve deal for Pogba could see Mario Mandzukic head to Manchester United, the report says.

ROUND-UP

- Pochettino has held "crisis talks" with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy as he nears an exit, according to The Telegraph. Spurs have struggled this season and sit 14th in the Premier League table through 12 games.

- While Mandzukic is wanted by United, Borussia Dortmund are ready to compete for the striker, according to Kicker. Mandzukic starred during two seasons with Bayern Munich before leaving the Bundesliga in 2014.

- Spain have offered Luis Enrique a chance to lead the nation at Euro 2020, according to AS. The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) have called a news conference for Tuesday, with Luis Enrique reportedly set to replace Robert Moreno at the helm.

- Manchester United are preparing to try to sign both Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho and RB Salzburg's Erling Haaland in January, according to Goal. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to try and strengthen his squad with United nine points adrift of the top four in the Premier League.

- Chelsea attacker Willian and Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz have slowed contract talks with their respective clubs amid interest from Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo. Willian is out of contract at season's end, while Fabian's deal runs until 2023.

- Manchester City are considering making a move for RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano, according to the Mirror. The Premier League champions lost Aymeric Laporte to a knee injury in September and may look to strengthen, although the Frenchman is expected to be back in early 2020.

Ed Woodward insists Manchester United want to bring in "world-class" signings to complement academy graduates despite the club's net debt increasing by £137million in the first quarter of 2020.

United announced their latest financial figures on Monday, in which they confirmed net debt had risen from £247m to £384m, based on the three months ending September 30 in 2018 and 2019.

United put the increase down to the investment in new signings Harry Maguire, Dan James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the transfer window, which was partly offset by the sale of Romelu Lukaku to Inter.

The club was still able to post an increase in total revenue of £0.4m and no change in gross debt levels, despite the outlay on their three most recent signings and the loss of Champions League broadcasting revenue for this season.

United have been tipped to make moves in the transfer window in January, with strikers such as Mario Mandzukic and Erling Haaland linked with a possible switch to Old Trafford to bolster a forward line that has been exposed this season by injuries, most notably to Anthony Martial.

Executive vice-chairman Woodward has made it clear he wants to bring in elite-level players for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, although he says much of their focus remains on encouraging the development of youngsters in the academy.

Describing the Premier League season to date as "mixed" for Solskjaer's side, Woodward told investors on Monday: "Our ultimate goal is to win trophies by playing fast, attacking football with a team that fuses graduates from our academy with world-class acquisitions. We know this will not be achieved overnight; however, we feel we have made investments that set us on the right path.

"Over the last few years, we have significantly invested in our recruitment infrastructure to augment our already strong and experienced recruitment team, all of whom who are working to a clear philosophy. This is demonstrated by the signings of Maguire, James and Wan-Bissaka, who have all settled in well.

"We will continue with our strategy to promote the best of the players graduating from our academy together with material investment in the coming summers to strengthen our young squad further and challenge for trophies.

"We fielded the youngest team in the Premier League this season against Brighton and Hove Albion. We are approaching a milestone 4000th competitive game with an academy player in the squad.

"I want to reiterate our need for investment is underpinned by strong financial results."

United, who are seventh in the Premier League table after 12 matches, take on Sheffield United on Sunday.

With Barcelona and Real Madrid keen to strengthen their defences, one Inter star is attracting interest.

Milan Skriniar is reportedly wanted by LaLiga champions Barca and Spanish rivals Madrid.

Will Inter be able to retain the centre-back?

 

TOP STORY – SKRINIAR WANTED BY LALIGA GIANTS

Barcelona and Real Madrid have set their sights on Inter defender Skriniar, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Skriniar – contracted to Inter until June 2023 – has established himself as one of the world's best defenders since moving to Milan from Sampdoria in 2017.

The likes of Manchester City and Manchester United have also been linked to the 24-year-old Slovakia international.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are desperate to strengthen their squad and ESPN claims the Premier League side have an eight-man shortlist, which includes Leicester City's James Maddison, Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho, Salzburg's goalscoring machine Erling Haaland, West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, Bournemouth's Callum Wilson, Lyon forward Moussa Dembele, as well as Aston Villa pair Jack Grealish and John McGinn.

- Staying at Old Trafford and The Mirror says United are monitoring Sporting CP's Matheus Pereira, who is on loan at Championship outfit West Brom. It comes as The Sun reports the Red Devils could sign Gareth Bale and send Paul Pogba to Real Madrid.

- Bild says Borussia Monchengladbach have no plans to sell midfielder Denis Zakaria in January. Zakaria has reportedly attracted interest from United, Bayern Munich, Dortmund and others.

Manchester City are circling Inter midfielder Stefano Sensi, according to Calciomercato. Sensi moved to Inter on loan from Serie A side Sassuolo and the 24-year-old has starred at San Siro.

- Calciomercato claims Juventus are looking at Paris Saint-Germain's Thomas Meunier and Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri amid their injury crisis in Turin.

- Brescia sensation and Italy international Sandro Tonali is being chased by Serie A champions Juve and LaLiga side Atletico Madrid, reports Corriere di Torino.

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