Real Madrid look set to finally land a midfielder before the transfer window closes.

The LaLiga giants have been linked to numerous midfielders and, after a slow start to the season, they may make a signing ahead of the window shutting on Monday.

Madrid are reportedly close to strengthening their squad by completing a move for Sporting CP star Bruno Fernandes.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID CLOSE TO SEALING FERNANDES DEAL

Real Madrid have almost completed a deal for Fernandes, according to ESPN.

The Portugal international, 24, was linked to Manchester United and Tottenham earlier in the window.

Now, the Sporting captain looks set for Madrid, who have reportedly targeted United's Paul Pogba, Spurs' Christian Eriksen and Ajax's Donny van de Beek during the close season.

It comes just days after Fiorentina sporting director Daniele Prade said Fernandes was heading to Madrid for €70million.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Neymar saga will finally end – for now – with the Paris Saint-Germain star staying with the Ligue 1 champions. L'Equipe reports the Brazil international will remain with PSG, while Sport reports Barcelona will resume their pursuit of Neymar in 2020.

- That could mean a few more eyes on Mauro Icardi on Monday. PSG are in talks with Inter over a potential loan deal for the forward, according to RMC Sport and Gianluca Di Marzio.

- Pogba may still be hoping to eventually get his move to Real Madrid. The Mirror reports the France international will resist signing a new deal with Premier League giants Manchester United, with his current contract running until 2021, although the club have an option to extend that by a year.

- Javier Hernandez should get a deadline-day move from West Ham. The Premier League club have agreed to sell the forward to Sevilla for close to €8.9m (£8m), according to Sky Sports News.

- Henrikh Mkhitaryan came off the bench during Arsenal's draw against Tottenham on Sunday and he could be on his way out of the Emirates Stadium a day later. Roma are pressing hard to sign the midfielder on loan with an option to buy, according to Gianluca Di Marzio.

- Phil Foden may have to wait for his chances at Manchester City, but the Premier League champions are keen to keep the teenage midfielder in their squad. The Sun reports City rejected loan bids from Rangers and Roma for the England youth international.

Zinedine Zidane refused to dwell on Gareth Bale's sending off against Villarreal, instead focusing on the Wales star's two-goal display in the 2-2 draw.

Bale has endured a difficult time at Madrid due to a strained relationship with head coach Zidane, fan criticism and a failed move to Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning.

But after staying, Bale has started the season well and scored for the first time since March on Sunday, netting both goals as Madrid battled to a stalemate in LaLiga action at Estadio de la Ceramica.

Bale's second goal came four minutes from time and ensured Los Blancos earned a point, but he was booked twice in stoppage time to be send off, putting a dampener on proceedings.

Zidane, however, was not focusing on the sour end to Bale's outing away from home.

"They were two fouls and two yellow cards," Zidane told reporters. "But now to think about a rest. Well, maybe not a rest as he's going with his national team.

"I am happy for his goals and we keep going with the positive things."

Madrid captain Sergio Ramos made an error for Villarreal's first goal, finding himself robbed of possession by Gerard Moreno in the build-up.

And while Zidane acknowledged Madrid could have been better, he remained upbeat and positive about future improvement.

When asked if there was a lack of defensive intensity, he said: "At the start of the game, yes, and in the game it's always important to start strong.

"But I think that the 30 minutes after that, we were better in everything. We got the equaliser before the break and that was important.

"We controlled the game, these things [conceding goals through errors] happen. We have to work on this, to improve our defensive ways and later offensively we know that we will create things. I will stick with the positive, the reaction. It's important we didn't lose."

Casemiro was unequivocal in his assessment of Real Madrid's 2-2 LaLiga draw at Villarreal, surmising they were "lacking everything" at Estadio de la Ceramica.

Madrid twice had to come from behind on Sunday, with Gareth Bale's efforts cancelling out strikes from Gerard Moreno and then Moi Gomez, before the Wales star was sent off for two bookings in as many stoppage-time minutes.

Despite Bale salvaging Madrid a point away from home, Casemiro was scathing of the team's performance, convinced they underwhelmed all over the pitch.

"We are lacking everything," he said. "We have to score goals and be better defensively. This is a team. If we defend, we all defend. If we attack, we all attack. This is the spirit.

"Real Madrid ore obliged to win always, this jersey makes it an obligation. This is a complicated stadium. We had control for 65 minutes, but they got into it and scored.

"This is the way forward, we keep adding points. The international break is here and we can change our mindset. We have to keep working.

"[Fan frustration] is normal, but they have to see the work we do. We have to keep working to get as far as we can in LaLiga."

Madrid return to LaLiga action after the international break against Levante on September 14.

Gareth Bale spared Real Madrid's blushes as the winger ended a six-month goal drought to score twice and rescue a 2-2 draw at Villarreal on Sunday, only to then be sent off.

The Yellow Submarine had seemingly sealed the three points when Moi Gomez netted 16 minutes from time, but Bale – who looked destined for the exit not long ago – doubled his tally for the day late on to prevent a first LaLiga defeat of the season.

In a dramatic finale, he spoiled an otherwise fine individual outing by picking up two late bookings.

Villarreal's dynamism on the front foot caused their visitors real issues, as evidenced by Gerard Moreno's early goal, but Madrid showed flashes of excellence themselves and levelled just before the break through Bale after a sumptuous move.

Zinedine Zidane's men appeared to be hit by a sucker-punch towards the end when Gomez tapped in, but Bale's undeniable quality told in the 86th minute with his equaliser, before the Wales star received his marching orders in stoppage time for a second bookable offence in two minutes.

Will he, or won't he?

Neymar has dominated headlines throughout the transfer window, with the Paris Saint-Germain star eyeing a Barcelona return.

However, it seems he will not get what he wanted before Monday's deadline…

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR GIVES UP ON BARCA MOVE

Neymar will remain at Paris Saint-Germain after failing to secure a move to Barcelona, according to reports.

The PSG superstar wanted to return to LaLiga champions Barca, just two years after his world-record move to Paris.

Barca had tried to negotiate a deal with PSG, however, L'Equipe says Neymar has already notified the club and family that he will stay at the Ligue 1 holders.

 

ROUND-UP

- Juventus are gearing up for a late move for Tottenham star Christian Eriksen, according to The Express. Juve have reportedly joined PSG in trying to sign Eriksen prior to Monday's deadline.

- The Mirror says Real Madrid have also turned their attention to Eriksen after they were unable to prise Neymar from PSG. Madrid have also been linked to Sporting CP captain Bruno Fernandes.

- Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak and Dinamo Zagreb's Dominik Livakovic are potential targets for Manchester United, who are worried David de Gea will leave for free at the end of the season. That is according to The Sun.

- According to the Daily Mirror, Borussia Dortmund are monitoring the situation regarding Liverpool teenager Bobby Duncan. The 18-year-old reportedly had a move to Fiorentina blocked by Liverpool, prompting his agent to accuse the Reds of "bullying", accusations the club called "inaccurate" and "inflammatory".

- Fiorentina are desperate to lure Matteo Politano from Inter, reports Calciomercato. La Viola have offered €30million but Inter want €35m as they reportedly line up Eintracht Frankfurt star Ante Rebic as a possible replacement.

Keylor Navas is poised to swap Madrid for PSG and he might not be only the goalkeeper to move to Paris. Cadena Ser claims Sevilla's Sergio Rico will swap LaLiga for Ligue 1 on loan with the option to buy.

Sporting CP head coach Marcel Keizer is hoping star captain Bruno Fernandes will remain with the club once the transfer window closes.

Fernandes has been linked with a move away throughout the window and the Portugal international revealed he agreed to join Tottenham only for Sporting to block the transfer.

The 24-year-old was also strongly linked to Manchester United, while he has since emerged as a reported target for Real Madrid prior to Monday's deadline.

Keizer was asked about Fernandes' future following Saturday's shock loss to Rio Ave and he told reporters: "We have to wait until Monday.

"Hopefully he will stay. Many things can happen. We are not in a position to be able to decide."

Fernandes – who netted 20 goals and supplied 13 assists in the Primeira Liga last season – scored in the 3-2 defeat to Rio Ave in Lisbon.

Uruguay international and former Liverpool defender Sebastian Coates conceded three penalties and was sent off as Sporting crashed to their first league defeat of the campaign.

Filipe Augusto converted a sixth-minute penalty following Coates' foul before Sporting hit back through Fernandes and Luiz Phellype, who put the hosts ahead eight minutes into the second half.

However, Coates gave away two penalties during the final four minutes and was subsequently sent off for a second yellow card as Rio Ave emerged triumphant.

"I have no opinion, the referee decided and I can do nothing," Keizer said when asked about the three penalties. "I only have an opinion about my team. We didn't play enough. If we had had more ball after 2-1 it could have been different."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reiterated Manchester United have no intention of selling Paul Pogba to Real Madrid in the closing stages of the transfer window.

Spanish giants Madrid have been strongly linked with Pogba in recent months and have until Monday to finalise their business.

Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has refused to rule out a move for the 26-year-old and, speaking at a news conference on Saturday, said "everything can happen" when asked about any late incoming activity at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Pogba played 90 minutes of Saturday's disappointing 1-1 draw with Southampton to continue his run of starting every game this season, however, and Solskjaer is certain he will remain a United player.

"Paul Pogba will be playing for us," Solskjaer told reporters when Zidane's comments were put to him.

The France international regularly gave the ball away and picked up an injury as United were held to a draw by 10-man Southampton, Daniel James' stunning first-half strike being cancelled out by Jannik Vestergaard just before the hour mark.

Asked about Pogba's underwhelming display, Solskjaer said: "I think we as a team after about half an hour started giving sloppy balls away and Paul was one of them. He wasn't any different to anyone else.

"We as a team didn't play well, but in the last 20 minutes or half an hour he did create loads for us going forward.

"Everyone expects everything from him every game, he has to defend, he has to attack, he has to win headers, he has to dribble past people, he has to make passes. That's just Paul and he'll thrive on that. And he got a bad knock on his ankle.

"He twisted it, I think, but he'll go away and hopefully it's not too bad and he can play for France because I know how much he loves his country and playing for them."

United head into the two-week international break without a win in three matches, having drawn with Wolves and Southampton either side of a home defeat to Crystal Palace.

Despite being a point worse off than at this stage last season when they finished sixth, Solskjaer is remaining optimistic.

"We have a clear plan and we believe in the players and believe in the way we do things," he said. "You can say it's long-term but we deserved to win the last three games as well.

"And the one thing you cannot control in football is results and outcomes. You can control the effort, attitude, what we're doing in training. We're on the right track, we're working and, as I said to the boys, we need to learn to win these games."

Zinedine Zidane has hinted Real Madrid could still make some late additions, but has insisted he is happy with the squad he has at his disposal.

Madrid face Villarreal on Sunday, having won their opening LaLiga fixture before drawing at home to Real Valladolid last time out.

Los Blancos have brought in five players in this window, including Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and highly rated full-back Ferland Mendy.

Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez have been heavily linked with moves away from Santiago Bernabeu throughout the window, though the duo - the latter of which is injured - appear set to stay in Madrid.

When asked if Madrid would be in the market for any last-minute transfer "bombs", Zidane hinted anything is possible, though the Frenchman has no concerns over the quality of his squad.

"Everything can happen, one bomb or two bombs. I don't know. We will see but the most important is tomorrow's game," Zidane told a news conference on Saturday.

"These are the players I have at my disposal and I am very proud to be working with these footballers. I think they are the best.

"When you start, you look at making a few changes, but as soon as the season started I was happy, but it is true that things could still change up until the deadline.

"There's nothing negative to say about my current squad, every single manager wants to be a manager of Real Madrid. I am happy."

One player who could be heading out of the door is Keylor Navas, with the goalkeeper reportedly on the verge of a move to Paris Saint-Germain, which may involve Alphonse Areola heading to Madrid in return.

But Zidane confirmed Navas would be part of the squad for Sunday, regardless of any potential transfer.

"Keylor is going to be with us [against Villarreal]. We will have to wait and see, up until September 2 anything is possible," Zidane said.

"But he will be with us for an important game. I just focus on that. Nothing else. It's possible for Keylor to leave, but the important thing is to have him tomorrow when he can help us win the game.

"What needs to happen will happen. We'll have to wait and see."

Eden Hazard will not be able to play for Belgium in September's Euro 2020 qualifiers, according to Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.

Hazard is yet to make his LaLiga debut for Madrid, having sustained an injury on the eve of the new season.

Reports had suggested the 28-year-old would return to Los Blancos' squad for Sunday's trip to Villarreal, with Hazard having also been picked for Belgium's upcoming fixtures against San Marino and Scotland.

But Zidane was adamant Hazard must not play, and instead the former Chelsea forward must use the international break to continue his recovery.

"He can travel with the Belgium squad, he can be seen by the Belgian team doctor, but he's not fit to play right now," Zidane told a news conference.

"We know that, he knows that and hopefully for the benefit of Belgium and everyone involved, he rests."

Hazard is not the only Madrid player to have suffered an early injury, with Isco, Brahim Diaz, Rodrygo Goes and James Rodriguez all currently out, while Marco Asensio ruptured a cruciate ligament in pre-season.

Zidane, however, is not concerned the glut of injuries suggest a particular problem with Madrid's training or precautions to avoid such issues.

"Injuries happen everywhere, at other clubs too," Zidane said. "There are a lot of players who are out injured.

"The doctors, physios and everyone who works with the players are doing their best to make sure the players return quickly from those injuries."

Eden Hazard has been named the UEFA Europa League Player of the Year for 2018-19, after leading Chelsea to the trophy.

Hazard scored twice in Chelsea's 4-1 victory over Premier League rivals Arsenal in May's final in Baku, his only goals in Europe's second-tier competition last term.

His double proved to be his final Chelsea goals, with the Belgium forward moving to Real Madrid in the off season.

The 28-year-old overcame competition from former team-mate Olivier Giroud, top scorer in last season's Europa League with 11 goals, and current Madrid club-mate Luka Jovic, who helped Eintracht Frankfurt to the semi-finals, where they were beaten by Chelsea.

"Thank you to everyone who voted for me and I'd like to wish everybody playing in the Europa League good luck," Hazard said in a video interview broadcast ahead of the draw for this season's group stage in Monaco.

Eden Hazard has been named in the Belgium squad for their upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against San Marino and Scotland.

Hazard joined Real Madrid in June, signing a five-year contract at the Santiago Bernabeu after Chelsea agreed to sell their prized asset.

Madrid were dealt a blow on the eve of their LaLiga opener against Celta Vigo though, when it was confirmed Hazard had sustained a thigh injury.

The 28-year-old has missed Madrid's opening two fixtures, though is reportedly in contention to make his LaLiga bow against Villarreal on Sunday, and any injury concerns have not stopped Roberto Martinez naming Hazard in Belgium's squad for their upcoming qualifiers.

Martinez did, however, confirm Belgium's star man will not be risked if not deemed fully fit.

"For Hazard, every day will be important regarding his injury. We will not take any risks. This weekend will be important and we will take a decision afterwards," the Red Devils coach told a news conference.

Hazard, who has scored three goals in qualifying, is joined by Manchester City star Kevin de Bruyne, new Inter striker Romelu Lukaku in a 28-man selection and his younger brother Thorgan, despite the Borussia Dortmund playmaker having been ruled out for "several weeks" with a rib injury.

Benito Raman and Anderlecht youngster Yari Verschaeren have been handed their first senior call-ups. 

Belgium have made a fantastic start to their qualification campaign, winning all four of their Group E matches so far, scoring 11 goals and conceding just one in return.

Martinez's side visit minnows San Marino on September 6, before facing Scotland in Glasgow three days later.

Belgium squad in full: Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Simon Mignolet (Club Brugge), Matz Sels (Strasbourg); Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Jason Denayer (Lyon), Brandon Mechele (Club Brugge), Thomas Meunier (Paris Saint-Germain), Thomas Vermaelen (Vissel Kobe), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham); Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang), Nacer Chadli (Anderlecht), Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City), Leander Dendoncker (Wolves), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund), Denis Praet (Leicester City), Youri Tielemans (Leicester City); Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad), Romelu Lukaku (Inter), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Divock Origi (Liverpool), Benito Raman (Schalke), Leandro Trossard (Brighton and Hove Albion), Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge), Yari Verschaeren (Anderlecht).

Maybe, just maybe, the Neymar transfer saga is coming to an end.

The Brazilian's future has dominated the headlines over recent weeks as Barcelona try to re-sign the wantaway Paris Saint-Germain superstar.

With the September 2 deadline looming, Barca may have struck a deal…

 

TOP STORY – BARCA AND PSG REACH NEYMAR AGREEMENT

According to BBC Sport, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain have agreed terms on the value of Neymar.

The two clubs have reportedly settled on a figure of €200million for a player who left Camp Nou in a world-record €222m deal in 2017.

The LaLiga champions are also willing to offer Jean-Clair Todibo, Ivan Rakitic and Ousmane Dembele on a season-long loan, though all three players still have to agree terms.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to Gianluca di Marzio, Atletico Madrid have made an enquiry for Inter outcast Mauro Icardi. However, the race seems to be between Napoli and Monaco, who are both reportedly prepared to pay €65million for the former Inter captain.

- A swap deal involving Keylor Navas and Alphonse Areola is close to completion. RMC says Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Areola has reached an agreement with Real Madrid. Marca, meanwhile, says Navas will sign a three-year deal with PSG.

Parma are confident of signing Manchester United full-back Matteo Darmian, says Alfredo Pedulla. Former Torino defender Darmian has been virtually non-existent at Old Trafford in recent months.

- Radio Marte reporter Dario Sarnataro claims Chelsea have offered Michy Batshuayi to Napoli. The 25-year-old striker has recently spent time on loan at Borussia Dortmund, Valencia and Crystal Palace.

- Manchester United defender Chris Smalling is on the verge of moving to Roma on loan, according to widespread reports in Italy and England.

- Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny is set to join Besiktas on a season-long loan, says Goal.com. The Egypt international only made 17 appearances last season. Il Messaggero, meanwhile, claims the Gunners and Tottenham are both monitoring Roma star Cengiz Under.

Patrice Evra said Paul Pogba will stay at Manchester United, though he does not know how long the reported Real Madrid target will remain with the Premier League giants.

Pogba has been linked with a move away from United as Madrid and former club Juventus reportedly circle the French World Cup winner.

Madrid are keen to bring Pogba to the Santiago Bernabeu before the European transfer window shuts on September 2, though United are believed to want close to the world-record €222million fee Paris Saint-Germain paid Barcelona for Neymar in 2017.

Earlier this month, Evra claimed Pogba does not feel loved in Manchester, though the former Red Devils left-back advised his countryman to stay at United.

"Paul is focused, Paul is in Manchester and he will stay in Manchester," said Evra, who won five Premier League titles and the Champions League among other honours at Old Trafford.

"There have been discussions, but it's good for the club and it's good for him [that he stays]. Now we have to concentrate, we'll see over the years if he stays, but now it would be difficult for him to leave Manchester.

"Leaving at the end of the transfer window when the season has already started, no. I hope he will have a great season with Manchester.

"I'm not divided. Paul, he's my brother, so he's the best for me. If he's not happy in Manchester, I'll tell Paul to leave. If he's happy in Manchester, I'll tell him to stay. But to tell you the truth, I would advise him to stay."

Pogba and United have experienced a mixed start to the season, with a win, draw and loss from their opening three Premier League matches.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United routed Chelsea 4-0 in their opening before drawing at Wolves and losing to Crystal Palace last week.

United, who will be without injured pair Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial, are away to Southampton on Saturday.

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo thinks Lionel Messi has pushed him to become a better player and says he enjoys a "good relationship" with the Barcelona star.

The pair dominated the Ballon d'Or voting for a decade, winning it five times apiece before Luka Modric broke their stranglehold last year.

Messi and Ronaldo were second and third respectively for the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award for 2019, which was won by Virgil van Dijk.

Ronaldo swapped Real Madrid for Juventus in 2018 and Messi recently confessed he has missed having the Portugal international in LaLiga.

Speaking at UEFA's award ceremony ahead of Thursday's Champions League draw, Ronaldo thanked Messi for helping to raise his game and vowed to maintain his high performance levels.

"We have shared the stage [for] 15 years. I don't know if that's happened before - the same two guys, all the time," he said.

"We had that battle in Spain, I pushed him, and he pushed me. So, it's good to be part of the history of football.

"Of course, we have a good relationship. We haven't had dinner together yet, but maybe in the future!

"Leo is two years younger than me but I look good for my age. I hope to be here next year, and in two or three. People who don't like me will continue to see me here."

Messi, sitting alongside Ronaldo at the glitzy ceremony in Monaco, pipped Ronaldo to be named the Forward of the Season for the 2018-19 Champions League.

"With Cristiano, it was a beautiful rivalry," he said.

"It's nice to score goals. The goal is always to try to do things to win, before scoring. But if you can win and score, then [it's] better."

Champions League holders Liverpool have learned their opponents for the 2019-20 group stage, with Jurgen Klopp's side facing Napoli again.

The Reds were placed in Group B, which also includes Salzburg and Genk, when Thursday's draw was made in Monaco.

Inter's return to the Champions League saw them placed along with Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund in a daunting Group F, which also includes Slavia Prague.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid's bid to recapture their crown will see Zinedine Zidane's men take on Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, as well as Club Brugge and Galatasaray.

Champions League group stage draw in full:

Group A: Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Club Brugge, Galatasaray

Group B: Bayern Munich, Tottenham, Olympiacos, Red Star Belgrade

Group C: Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo, Atalanta

Group D: Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Lokomotiv Moscow

Group E: Liverpool, Napoli, Salzburg, Genk

Group F: Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Inter, Slavia Prague

Group G: Zenit, Benfica, Lyon, RB Leipzig

Group H: Chelsea, Ajax, Valencia, Lille

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