Manchester United will reportedly need to improve their offer to Sporting CP if they are to land Bruno Fernandes.

Fernandes, 25, is linked with a January move to Old Trafford, but it seems talks are ongoing between the clubs.

The Premier League outfit will need to raise their offer to land Fernandes, with some distance seemingly still between the sides.

 

TOP STORY – SPORTING WANT €65M FROM MAN UTD FOR FERNANDES

Sporting want £55.4million (€65m) from Manchester United for Fernandes, according to TVI 24.

The report says United are offering £42.6m (€50m) plus bonuses for the midfielder.

With Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba injured, United are desperate to strengthen in midfield this month.

 

ROUND-UP

- Christian Eriksen could be nearing a move to Inter. The Tottenham midfielder's agent Martin Schoots had dinner with Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta on Thursday, according to CalcioMercato.

- Tottenham must continue their search if they are to replace the injured Harry Kane this month. The Sun reports a possible move from Milan to Spurs for Krzysztof Piatek appears over and Tottenham are now looking at Porto forward Ze Luis or Napoli's Fernando Llorente, who left the club at the end of last season.

- Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare is deciding between Manchester United and Chelsea, according to Sky Sports, although no move is expected until after the Ligue 1 club face Paris Saint-Germain on January 26.

- Staying at Old Trafford and Manchester United will be offered Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani for free at season's end, according to the Manchester Evening News.

- West Ham's bid to sign Ross Barkley is not over yet. The Mirror reports the club will not give up on trying to land the Chelsea midfielder, who has made just seven Premier League appearances this season.

- Arda Turan remains contracted to Barcelona, but the midfielder knows where he wants to go next. The Turkey international is interested in signing with Boca Juniors, according to Sport, after terminating his loan agreement with Istanbul Basaksehir earlier this month.

Sporting CP head coach Silas said the "extraordinary" Bruno Fernandes is worth a lot more money that what is being reported amid growing links to Manchester United.

Fernandes is reportedly nearing a switch to struggling Premier League giants United, with a fee in the region of £51million (€60m) being mooted, though Sporting are believed to be holding out for more.

After confirming Fernandes will face Portuguese rivals Benfica in Friday's blockbuster, Silas hailed the Sporting captain.

"He is an extraordinary player, the best and most valuable in the league, as he was last season," Silas told reporters.

"I've heard someone say that he's not worth the money you are talking about and it's true, he's worth a lot more.

"In addition to attacking he also sacrifices himself to defend. Bruno is the best and the most valuable. When we have such a player it's normal for everyone to want him."

Fernandes, who was heavily linked to United, Tottenham and Real Madrid during the previous transfer window, has scored 15 goals across all competitions for Sporting this season.

The 25-year-old midfielder netted 31 goals last term, including 20 in Primeira Liga.

Patrick Vieira insists there was never any chance of him replacing Unai Emery at Arsenal as he and Nice are "100 per cent" committed to one another.

Former Arsenal captain Vieira has been linked with the Gunners job since Arsene Wenger's departure in 2018, but Mikel Arteta instead took over after Emery was sacked in November.

The Frenchman says there were no talks with Arsenal on this occasion, although the Nice coach is adamant he would have turned down any offer regardless.

"No, but there is no place in my mind to have those kind of conversations," Vieira told the Daily Mail. "My focus is here [at Nice]. This project suits who I am and what I want to achieve.

"This rumour about the Arsenal job is not something that bothered me. I don't know what the future holds but that is why I don't want to put my brain somewhere that doesn't exist.

"This club knows I want to stay and I know they want me to stay, 100 per cent."

However, Vieira said he discussed the possibility of taking over from Wenger before he became Nice coach.

"It was just a conversation about my situation, where I am, what is the next step," he said. "Nothing came of it."

Vieira moved to Nice from New York City in June 2018 and found former Manchester City team-mate Mario Balotelli in his squad in France.

The Italy international, having starred at Nice prior to Vieira's arrival, failed to score under the new coach and departed for Marseille in the next transfer window.

Vieira added of Balotelli: "Mario's mindset was difficult for a collective sport.

"The philosophy I wanted to put in place, the togetherness and work ethic I wanted to build, it was difficult for me to work with a player like Mario.

"It was really difficult for both of us to work together, so we decided to go different ways."

Chelsea secured the future of one of their brightest young talents by handing a new five-and-a-half-year contract to right-back Reece James.

The 20-year-old's breakthrough into Frank Lampard's first team this season is one of several success stories among a richly gifted crop of homegrown academy graduates at Stamford Bridge.

Full international honours are next on the agenda for England Under-21 defender James, with the experiences of his esteemed team-mates suggesting caps might not be too far away.

Even if the decision to give youth its head was in part informed by Chelsea's player registration ban during the previous transfer window, the success of his young stars means Lampard's faith has unquestionably been vindicated.

Tammy Abraham

Given his chance after a prolific loan spell at Aston Villa last season, Abraham is now firmly established as Chelsea's number one striker. The 22-year-old has 15 goals in all competitions this campaign and the recent injury setback for Harry Kane means he could yet be a pivotal figure for his country at Euro 2020. Talks over a new Chelsea deal reportedly remain ongoing.

Mason Mount

A creative midfielder with an eye for goal, Mount quickly felt like a perfect match for Lampard who took him on loan to Derby County for 2018-19 before the pair reunited at Chelsea. His transition to the Premier League has been seamless, with the 21-year-old featuring in all 22 games this season and chipping in with five goals and a pair of assists. Mount also appeared in all six of England's Euro 2020 qualifiers this term, scoring during a 4-0 win in Kosovo.

Fikayo Tomori

A classy and dominant centre-back, Tomori has taken the same path as Mount: a move on loan to Derby, where he was voted player of the season, back to Chelsea, into the first team and called up by England. Back-to-back defeats to Manchester City and West Ham concluded 11 consecutive Premier League starts for the 22-year-old, who then suffered a hip injury. A fit-again Antonio Rudiger and Lampard's willingness to switch between three and four at the back means a challenging second half of the campaign could lie in wait for Tomori, who signed a contract until the end of 2023-24 in December.

Callum Hudson-Odoi

The lavishly gifted winger made his international breakthrough last season despite Maurizio Sarri's reluctance to give him Premier League minutes. Before returning from a ruptured Achilles, Hudson-Odoi committed to a new five-year contract in September, putting lingering links with Bayern Munich to bed. His first goal in the top-flight against Burnley last time out suggested the 19-year-old could be ready for lift-off all over again.

Reece James

Like Hudson-Odoi, James also had to wait for his chance this season after recuperating from injury. Last season's player of the year at Wigan Athletic now boasts 18 senior appearances and a couple of goals – his equaliser in November's scarcely credible 4-4 draw against Ajax one that will live long in the memory. The 20-year-old's attacking prowess and vicious deliveries from the right flank have given Lampard's men a new dimension in recent weeks.

Reece James has signed a new contract at Chelsea to remain at Stamford Bridge until 2025, the Premier League club have confirmed.

James has enjoyed a breakthrough season with his boyhood club this term, following a successful 2018-19 on loan at Wigan Athletic in the Championship.

The 20-year-old has made 18 appearances across all competitions for Frank Lampard's side – scoring on his debut against Grimsby Town in the EFL Cup and in the thrilling 4-4 Champions League draw at home to Ajax.

A fixture at right-back over recent weeks, James' reward for his impressive development is a new five-and-a-half-year deal.

"It has been my dream to be here at Chelsea and play week in week out and to have a contract for another five-and-a-half years is living the dream again," he told the club's official website.

"I have always wanted to be here and another five-and-a-half years means a lot to me and a lot to my family."

Lampard and his assistant, former Chelsea youth-team coach Jody Morris, have given the club's homegrown players a chance to shine this term, with impressive results.

Tammy Abraham is now their first-choice striker, boasting 15 goals in all competitions.

Like Abraham, centre-back Fikayo Tomori and midfielder Mason Mount have been called into Gareth Southgate's England set-up.

Winger Callum Hudson-Odoi already made that leap last season and scored his first Premier League goal in last weekend's 3-0 win over Burnley following a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a ruptured Achilles.

James similarly negotiated his way back from an ankle lay-off with success.

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said: "The smooth way Reece has fitted into the team so quickly despite missing the start of the season has been clear for everyone to see, and the fact another exciting young player is part of the future of the club is a result of great work by our academy, our loans department, our new coaching staff and of course the player himself."

Reece James has signed a new contract at Chelsea to remain at Stamford Bridge until 2025, the Premier League club have confirmed.

Ashley Young is set to join Inter after Manchester United agreed a fee to sell the experienced full-back.

Omnisport understands the transfer will cost the Serie A giants €1.5million (£1.3m), subject to a medical and personal terms.

Young joined United from Aston Villa in 2011 and went on to make 261 appearances, scoring 19 goals.

The 34-year-old won four major honours for the Red Devils, including the 2012-13 Premier League, although the emergence of youngster Brandon Williams has placed him further down the pecking order this season.

During his time at Old Trafford, Young converted from a winger to a play in deeper wide roles and he was Gareth Southgate's first choice at left wing-back as England reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup.

The 2-1 extra-time defeat to Croatia in Moscow remains the most recent of his 39 international caps, which have yielded seven goals.

Young's move will continue a recent flow of players from Old Trafford to San Siro, with Alexis Sanchez signing for Inter on loan last August after fellow forward Romelu Lukaku completed a permanent switch.

Under the guidance of former Italy and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, the Nerazzurri are chasing their first Scudetto since 2010 and lie second in Serie A – two points shy of champions Juventus at the halfway point of the season.

This Sunday sees Premier League leaders Liverpool host Manchester United, rivals who sit 27 points below them in the table.

There has been a clear gulf in class between Jurgen Klopp's side, who have accrued a whopping 61 points from a possible 63 across 21 fixtures, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men, who have suffered defeats at Watford, Bournemouth and Newcastle United already this term.

Yet one bright spark for United has been the form of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, an attacking duo who have combined for more goals than Liverpool pair Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

Rashford faces a battle to be fit for the game having come off against Wolves in Wednesday's FA Cup replay due to a back injury, but just how do the quartet compare when fully fit, and how have they evolved in 2019-20? We crunched the numbers to find out.

 

RASHFORD AND MARTIAL: FROM PROFLIGATE TO POTENT

Salah (10) and Mane (11) have combined for 21 league goals (42 per cent of Liverpool's 50 goals), while Rashford (14) and Martial (8) have scored 22 (61 per cent of United's 36 goals).

The United duo's success in front of goal has come thanks to their ability to convert big chances. Excluding penalties, Rashford has scored eight of his 15 big chances, converting 53.8 per cent compared to 23.8 per cent last season.

Martial, with five goals from nine big chances, is even more efficient (55.6 per cent) and both United forwards have better big-chance conversion rates than Salah (50 per cent) and Mane (30 per cent).

Mane has had more big chances than the rest of the quartet, but having scored 15 of his 26 big chances in the 2018-19 league campaign he has netted only six of 20 this time around.

 

RASHFORD'S LEAP FORWARD

It is not just in front of goal where Rashford has shown an improvement and become a greater focus of United's attack.

The England international is averaging more touches per game this season (43.68 to 37.18), more touches in the opposition box per game (5.45 to 4.81) and has taken more shots (74) than any of Salah (66), Mane (49) or Martial (40).

Rashford switched between central and wide berths last term but is now firmly established on the left side of United's attack with a clear purpose.

The one statistic that perhaps outlines that most is that Rashford has attempted an astonishing 57 more dribbles than Salah this season.

 

ALEXANDER-ARNOLD ALTERS SALAH'S ROLE?

Last season only four players - Eden Hazard, Wilfried Zaha, Nathan Redmond and Raheem Sterling - completed more dribbles than Salah's 81, but in this campaign it's a different story.

The Reds forward has attempted just 49 - far fewer than Mane (67) - while he has completed fewer dribbles (23) than team-mates Mane, Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino.

Salah led the Premier League for touches in the box in 2018-19 (322), and only Sterling is ahead of him this time, but he has had far fewer touches overall than Mane (764 to 1,000) having led the Senegalese (1,820 to 1,807) in the previous campaign.

That might have something to do with right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold's ascent. Alexander-Arnold leads the league in touches (2,137) and is second in assists, showing that he, and not Salah, is now the focus of attacks down the Liverpool right.

A 27-POINT GAP, BUT SIMILAR ATTACKING STATISTICS

One glance at the table suggests there are few similarities between Klopp's runaway leaders and Solskjaer's Jekyll and Hyde outfit.

However, a more in-depth dive into the numbers shows there has actually been little to separate the two in many attacking senses.

Liverpool have created 258 chances to United's 241, and have only conjured up five more from open play and 10 from set-pieces.

The common theory is that United are far more effective on the counter attack, yet both teams have scored four times from fast breaks, with Solskjaer's men having 20 fast breaks to Liverpool's 18.

A big difference between the two is the quality of opportunities created, Liverpool accumulating 56 big chances to United's 34, which points to a clear lack of creativity in Solskjaer's ranks. Couple that with their defensive fragility (United's four clean sheets to Liverpool's eight) and it becomes more obvious just why the two are miles apart in the table.

Shkodran Mustafi concedes he has struggled to handle the pressure of criticism that followed some high-profile mistakes for Arsenal.

Germany international defender Mustafi joined the Gunners from Valencia in 2016 but his form has dwindled over recent campaigns.

This term, the 27-year-old has predominantly been used in the Europa League and EFL Cup, although Calum Chambers being out for the season and Konstantinos Mavropanos joining Nurnberg on loan means he could be granted opportunities to add to a solitary Premier League start.

"I just put my head down when all the criticism came at me and worked hard. I just closed my ears and focused on the work, and I think the fans kind of appreciated that," Mustafi said in an interview with Arsenal's official website. "I just worked my socks off to come back again.

"When the fans are on your side, it gives you so much more confidence. As a defender, it's always difficult because you always have pressure, especially when you don't have the ball and the opponents are attacking. Every little mistake and every little error you make can lead to a goal.

"When you win all your tackles, when you win everything on the pitch but then make one mistake that you're punished for, it destroys everything that you did before. This is something that makes this position so hard.

"You blame yourself a lot. I am quite harsh on myself as well when I make mistakes. This is something you have to learn to deal with because the next day you're straight back in training and you're focusing on not making the same mistake again.

"It's something that affected me but I had to deal with it because I didn't want to make the same mistake again, I wanted to come to the training ground and show them that I am going to be there for them, I am going to be there for the team, I am going to be there for the supporters."

Mustafi felt such scrutiny became harshly magnified by social media.

"On there, it's difficult to handle when things are going well and then when things are not working out it's even tougher," he said.

"When things aren't going well, obviously you don't like the stuff you read. You don't agree with a lot of comments, so it makes it difficult."

Even though he believes criticism directed towards him became too strong at times, Mustafi does not want to be viewed as a scapegoat and feels he and the club have common challenges to address.

"I wouldn't say [I was] a target because it's very hard if you say that. I don't think the world turns around me or that I'm the main point of the world," he said.

"But it was difficult sometimes to understand because even in a few bad games where I wasn't involved, I was the one to blame."

He added: "Next for me and the club is to bounce back. At the moment things are not going the way we want them to go.

"We just need to stay united as a team, a club, with our fans. The people who want the best for Arsenal, we have to stay united together and bounce back together."

David Moyes admitted he would be "interested" in any player he believes could improve West Ham, though he stopped short of confirming reported interest in Ross Barkley.

England international Barkley has been linked with a January loan move to the Hammers, who missed out on Gedson Fernandes after he joined rivals Tottenham on Wednesday.

Midfield is an area of need for West Ham given Jack Wilshere continues to be beset by injury problems and Barkley is thought to be of interest to Moyes.

Former Everton boss Moyes handed a 17-year-old Barkley his Premier League debut back in 2011 and was asked about the two linking up again at London Stadium.

"One thing I won't do is not talk about players at other clubs," Moyes said at a news conference.

"Anything which we think will improve our side I will be interested to bring in."

Barkley played 27 times in the Premier League for Chelsea last season under Maurizio Sarri but has fallen down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge since Frank Lampard's arrival.

He started Lampard's first Premier League game in charge, a 4-0 loss to Manchester United in August, but has made only five further starts in the top flight.

A foot injury suffered in October kept Barkley out for nearly two months, while the midfielder was also criticised by Lampard after two videos emerged - one of him arguing with a taxi driver in Liverpool and another of him dancing topless in a Dubai nightclub.

On the field, Barkley scored four goals in six appearances for England in Euro 2020 qualifiers.

On the prospect of signing British players, Moyes added: "It's not easy to get British players.

"[It is] maybe easier to get a Premier League player or from abroad but still trying to get the right ones in is important.

"We are working on two or three things at the moment, but we are not close to anything."

RB Leipzig star Timo Werner admits he considers the Premier League to be "the most interesting" of the major top flights in Europe.

The striker has been linked with a move away from Leipzig in 2020, such has been his form for the Bundesliga leaders.

Werner has scored 18 goals in 17 league games for Julian Nagelsmann's side, prompting talk of interest from a host of foreign clubs as well as domestic champions Bayern Munich.

Chelsea and Real Madrid are two of the most prominent sides said to be considering a bid for the 23-year-old, who reportedly has a release clause that could be activated in January.

While Werner has no desire to push through a move before the end of the season, he has suggested the Premier League could be tempting, as could following in the footsteps of former Madrid midfielders Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira.

"The Premier League is certainly the most interesting league, you have to say," he told Bild. "There is a certain flair to watching the English league and playing there.

"But many Germans have also been very successful in Spain, such as Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil.

"As of now, I have no desire to look for a move elsewhere."

Leipzig are two points ahead of Borussia Monchengladbach at the top of the table ahead of the second half of the Bundesliga season, which gets underway this weekend.

They host Union Berlin on Saturday in their next match.

Mauricio Pochettino has suggested his next coaching position will be in Spain or England as LaLiga and the Premier League are "the two best leagues in the world".

The former Tottenham boss, who was sacked in November and replaced by Jose Mourinho, was linked with the Barcelona job before Quique Setien was named Ernesto Valverde's successor.

Pochettino has been heavily linked with Manchester United during what has been an inconsistent season for the Red Devils under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The 47-year-old certainly appears prepared to take another job in England's top flight, although he also admires LaLiga, where he began his senior coaching career with Espanyol.

He said at a LaLiga TV event: "For me, I was so lucky to start my career as a manager at Espanyol in Barcelona and then to come to the Premier League to learn a different language and culture and I am a better person today.

"I have more knowledge and had a great experience. The Premier League is the Premier League. Football was born here in England but I think LaLiga has amazing football and amazing coaches."

He added: "England and Spain are the two best leagues in the world."

Pochettino is reported to have been approached about the Barcelona job despite insisting previously he could never take charge at Camp Nou due to his ties with city rivals Espanyol.

With Setien now installed on a contract until June 2022, Pochettino admits he will be very interested to follow the former Real Betis coach's efforts.

"Barcelona, of course, are one of the greatest teams in the world. Of course, now with the new manager, everyone is expecting him to continue the same philosophy," he said.

"Valverde did a fantastic job in LaLiga and with Barcelona and it's a massive challenge for Quique Setien. He showed unbelievable love for Johan Cruyff and the style of football of Barcelona.

"I think it's a great opportunity for him to live his dream and it's so amazing to follow what's going to happen."

Liverpool are racing clear at the top of the table and it will surely take a miracle for the Reds not to win their first Premier League title.

Jurgen Klopp's side face old rivals Manchester United on Sunday at Anfield, with the Red Devils the only team to have taken points off Liverpool so far this season.

Unbeaten in 38 Premier League matches, Liverpool are overwhelming favourites, though Ole Gunnar Solskjaer oversaw a 4-0 win over struggling Norwich City on Saturday.

Can United stall Liverpool's procession, or will Klopp's men continue their stroll towards Premier League glory?

Mikel Arteta will cancel Arsenal's mid-season trip to Dubai if the club deem it unsafe to travel to the Middle East.

With the introduction of a break in the Premier League schedule in 2019-20, Arsenal had been set for a four-day training camp ahead of the February 16 Premier League match against Newcastle United.

But top-flight rivals Manchester United have scrapped plans for their own possible Qatar break due to political tensions in the region.

Arsenal will assess the safety of a potential trip before deciding whether to follow suit, head coach Arteta told reporters.

"The security decision will be the priority," Arteta said. "If we are advised by the club and the people making those decisions that it's not safe, we won't be going anywhere.

"We talked about different options in this break to go away and live together in a different environment with better weather conditions and a little bit away from here.

"We still have a few things to look after from a club perspective, and when we know all that, we will confirm what we are doing. At the moment, we have two or three different options."

The Gunners play Burnley on February 2, two weeks before Newcastle's visit, although any need for a replay against Bournemouth in the FA Cup fourth round would cut into that lay-off.

Manchester United will do "everything" to ensure Marcus Rashford is fit to face Premier League leaders Liverpool on Sunday, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.

Rashford came on in United's 1-0 FA Cup third-round replay win over Wolves at Old Trafford, but he lasted only 16 minutes before being replaced having sustained a blow to the back following a challenge from Matt Doherty on Wednesday.

Though Rashford was on the field when Juan Mata scored the winner, Solskjaer conceded the decision to bring him on "backfired" as he sustained an injury four days before the trip to Anfield.

Rashford has scored 14 goals for United in the Premier League this term and Solskjaer said the club would do all they could to get the 22-year-old fit for the weekend.

"He's a quick healer and he'll play through some pain, definitely, if he's capable, if it's not a bad, bad injury," Solskjaer told reporters at a news conference.

"But we've seen that he's struggled lately - but more when he's been tired. 

"He wasn't on long enough to be tired so I think it might have been something that just happened there and then.

"He's been absolutely top this season so we'll do everything we can to get him fit for Sunday.

"If he's not then we'll play without him."

Rashford himself tweeted after the match to reveal he attempted to carry on, while congratulating his team-mates on booking a fourth-round tie with either Watford or Tranmere Rovers.

"Never want to feel like I’ve let my team-mates, the club and most importantly the fans down so did my very best to carry on tonight and was gutted to come off," he said.

"Top work from the lads to get into the next round"

United were already without key midfield duo Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba, as well as defenders Eric Bailly and Luke Shaw on Wednesday, yet Solskjaer was not about to bemoan an increasing casualty list.

"It's football, I'll never ever complain about all the injuries we've got," he added.

"That's just part and parcel of it and at the moment that's Marcus. He's been available and fit all season so you can't complain."

Liverpool are storming towards a maiden Premier League title having taken 61 points from a possible 63.

The only points they dropped came at Old Trafford earlier in the campaign when Rashford scored in a 1-1 draw in October.

Solskjaer is therefore confident his team will have a gameplan to make life difficult for Jurgen Klopp's Reds.

"Of course it's hard but I've had Liverpool here twice and we've drawn both," said the Norwegian.

"Of course we want to win those but I think we've found a nice way of playing against them and we've deserved the points in both of them."

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