Erik ten Hag felt Liverpool were "vulnerable" against Ajax as he rued bad luck in the 1-0 Champions League loss on Wednesday.

Ajax had their chances but Nicolas Tagliafico's first-half own goal was enough for Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool in the Group D clash in Amsterdam.

Liverpool were winless in three games heading into the encounter, and in action for the first time since Virgil van Dijk suffered a serious knee injury on Saturday.

Ten Hag said he felt the Eredivisie giants could have taken advantage of the Premier League champions.

"It would have been a big bonus if we had taken one or more points," the Ajax head coach said.

"I think Liverpool was vulnerable. Unfortunately, we didn't make the most of that."

Ten Hag added: "We were unlucky. We performed well collectively. We were convincing, but that last one per cent was missing – we didn't score even though we created many chances.

"That's the story of this game, I think."

Tagliafico turned in a miscued Sadio Mane effort 10 minutes before half-time for the game's only goal.

Ten Hag said there were elements of Ajax's performance he was pleased with.

"We knew Liverpool's strength, we wanted to prevent their full-backs, who are their playmakers, from going forward. That was one," he said.

"The second thing is that we wanted to control the midfield. Daley [Blind] is very good at that, he's so calm on the ball. And in that way, we wanted to attack their defence with deep runs. I think we did that quite well a couple of times."

While Trent Alexander-Arnold had a quieter performance for Liverpool, left-back Andy Robertson impressed.

Robertson had the most key passes (five), passes (78), passes in the opposition half (56) and touches (104) of any player on the ground.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp praised Fabinho's performance against Ajax, while insisting he was unsurprised by the Brazilian's display.

With Virgil van Dijk sidelined due to a serious knee injury, Fabinho started at centre-back alongside Joe Gomez as Liverpool opened their Champions League campaign with a 1-0 win in Amsterdam on Wednesday.

As well as producing a goal-line clearance to deny Dusan Tadic, Fabinho had four tackles, nine clearances and four interceptions.

Klopp was pleased with the Brazil international as Nicolas Tagliafico's first-half own goal proved to be enough for Liverpool in Group D.

"This combination with Joey and Fabinho, I don't think they played together before if I'm 100 per cent right. Maybe once but I don't really know," he told a news conference.

"So they need to get used to each other, they need to get used to the verbal demands in that position – what you have to say there to help the midfielders and all these kind of things.

"It was a really good performance but there's a lot to improve – how high or how low is the last line in which moment, in protection situations, in the pressing, 'How do we react there?' But it's no problem. It was absolutely good and now we carry on."

With Van Dijk set to miss most, if not the remainder, of the rest of the season, Fabinho will play a key role for Premier League champions Liverpool.

Klopp, whose team host Sheffield United in the Premier League on Saturday, said while the 26-year-old's performance was a boost, he was unsurprised.

"Look, in our situation it helps. Of course, was there pressure on the situation? Yes, it's clear for the two in the back there, 100 per cent. First game together," he said.

"Fabinho can play the position, he likes playing it actually. If I would have asked him to play right-back I don't think he would enjoy it as much as he's enjoying the centre-half position. In our situation in the moment we have to keep those boys fit and then they can of course help us a lot. I'm not surprised he plays well in the position otherwise we would have thought about a different solution, even when that would have been properly tricky.

"I'm really pleased for tonight, pleased for him, yes it gave him confidence, for sure helped us. These situations [goal-line clearances], Millie [James Milner] had last season one against Bournemouth, which was a massive one. That tonight was a massive one. And so he had not only because of this a big hand in this victory."

Jurgen Klopp revealed that fitness issues played a major part in his team selection as he hailed a "deserved" Liverpool win over Ajax.

Liverpool kicked off their Champions League campaign by taking three points away to one of the teams most fancied to compete with them for top spot in Group D on Wednesday.

It was by no means a straightforward victory, with the hosts seeing a Dusan Tadic lob cleared off the line by Fabinho – filling in at centre-back in the wake of Virgil van Dijk's knee injury – and striking the post through Davy Klaassen across an evenly contested 90 minutes.

Speaking after Nicolas Tagliafico's own goal had given his team the points, Klopp, whose side managed 16 shots in total, explained his job was further complicated by concerns over potential injuries ahead of the game.

As such, he was delighted with a hard-fought win earned in tricky conditions in the Dutch capital.

"It was not the most easy on the eye performance from both teams, I would say," Klopp told a news conference.

"Both teams can play much better football but especially in this competition when you play away [there are] a lot of difficulties. 

"Pretty much the medical team made the line-up and then you have to win the game and that's what the boys did and I think that was deserved, even when we had to clear one ball from the line and when they hit the post. 

"Of course, they had their moments, but apart from that we were pretty dominant on a difficult pitch for both teams. Everybody knows Ajax is usually a brilliant football team but tonight it was really tricky, the passing was difficult.

"So, you could see that, but we won the game and I am completely fine."

Klopp went to explain that Jordan Henderson's half-time introduction was a consequence of his medical staff advising against the skipper playing 90 minutes.

However, he had positive news on Sadio Mane, who was seen applying ice to his leg after being taken off around the hour mark.

He continued: "Curtis [Jones] was tactical. The medical department told us Hendo cannot start and it was pretty much clear 45 minutes should be possible, that's why Hendo came on.

"We wanted experience, a midfield that had at least played a few times together, which helps in a game like this.

"Sadio has since a few days a dead leg. That's the only thing why it's still painful but it's not a problem. When he doesn't play, he puts ice on it."

Liverpool's win means the Reds have gone unbeaten in their last 14 matches against Dutch opponents in European competition, since a 5-1 defeat to Ajax in December 1966.

Liverpool got their Champions League campaign off to a successful start as they earned a hard-fought 1-0 win over Ajax in Amsterdam.

Nicolas Tagliafico's first-half own goal was the difference between the sides in an end-to-end Group D game short on midfield control at Johan Cruyff Arena.

Starting life without injured talismanic centre-back Virgil van Dijk in the Dutch capital, the visitors could have done without the early mix-up between Adrian and Joe Gomez that suggested their defensive organisation is set to suffer.

Davy Klassen struck the post but that was as close as Ajax came to salvaging a point.

And hearts were in Liverpool mouths again soon after as Adrian's attempt to launch the ball forward was closed down, leading to a headed chance for Lisandro Martinez that needed saving.

Another well-worked Ajax move then ended in Quincy Promes being picked out at close range, but he somehow failed to beat Adrian when a goal looked certain.

But, as is so often the case, the visitors capitalised on that let-off ruthlessly, going straight up the other end to force a Tagliafico own goal from a horribly miscued Sadio Mane shot that followed a sublime turn in the box.

The hosts responded well to that setback, and would have been level at the break had Fabinho not acrobatically cleared Dusan Tadic's lobbed attempt off the line with Adrian stranded.

That late scare and a general lack of control in the middle throughout prompted Jurgen Klopp to make a half-time change, with youngster Curtis Jones making way for captain Jordan Henderson.

But the substitution looked to have made little difference when Ajax danced their way through the Liverpool midfield before teeing up Klassen to strike the post with a thunderous effort just over a minute after the restart.

With attempts to shore things up failing, Klopp instead opted to switch things up in attack, calling Diogo Jota, Takumi Minamino and Xherdan Shaqiri from the bench to replace his starting front three.

However, those changes only served to largely disrupt the flow of the game rather than add any thrust for the visitors, not that they would have minded.

Consequently, both sides struggled to create much during a scrappy finish to the game that ensured Liverpool took all three points.

Jurgen Klopp has handed a first Champions League start to academy graduate Curtis Jones as Liverpool face Ajax in their opening Group D fixture.

The 19-year-old European debutant joins Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner in an unfamiliar midfield necessitated by injuries and general fitness issues.

Virgil van Dijk's absence through the serious knee injury he sustained against Everton on Saturday has forced Fabinho to drop back into defence, while captain Jordan Henderson starts on the bench in Amsterdam.

With Joel Matip left out as a precaution, Joe Gomez gets a start in the heart of the back four that will look to protect second-choice goalkeeper Adrian in Alisson's continued absence.

Liverpool are at least at full strength in attack, with their familiar trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino lining up at the Johan Cruijff ArenA.

Holders Bayern Munich begin their Champions League defence with the visit of Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, in a game that will pit Robert Lewandowski against Luis Suarez.

Liverpool, winners in 2019, travel to Ajax, and Real Madrid host Shakhtar Donetsk, with two of the competition's most successful clubs hoping to avoid some worrying runs of defeats.

Antonio Conte's Inter tackle Borussia Monchengladbach and Manchester City host Porto, a team who boast a rather unfortunate record when it comes to games on English soil.

Here is some of the key Opta data from day two of matchday one.

Ajax v Liverpool: Can Firmino stop the rot?

This will be Liverpool's first meeting with Ajax since the 1966-67 European Cup, when the Dutch side prevailed 7-3 on aggregate in the last 16.

Liverpool's campaign last season ended at the same stage with back-to-back losses to Atletico Madrid. Should they lose in Amsterdam, it will be the first time since Brendan Rodgers was in charge in October to November 2014 that they have suffered three consecutive Champions League defeats.

Perhaps Roberto Firmino is the man to help them. He has been directly involved in 26 goals (15 scored, 11 assisted) in 33 Champions League matches; since his debut in 2017-18, the only other player with 10 or more goals and assists in that time is Kylian Mbappe (13 goals, 13 assists).

 

Bayern Munich v Atletico Madrid: Lewandowski has history in his sights

Bayern were the first team in history to win every game en route to lifting the trophy last season, and their 11-game winning run is already the longest ever in the competition.

Should Robert Lewandowski score, he will become the first player to do so in 10 Champions League group games in a row. He currently shares the record of nine with Cristiano Ronaldo, who did so from 2012 to 2014.

Atletico have only won twice in their previous 10 group games away from home, but Luis Suarez could give them the boost they need – he has scored five goals in his last five starts in the competition, as many as he managed in his previous 31 starts combined.

 

Real Madrid v Shakhtar Donetsk: Zidane puts 100 per cent record on the line

Real Madrid have been in the Champions League group stage 28 times and have never failed to reach the next round. Leeds United, who did so twice, are the only other team to feature in more than one group stage and boast a 100 per cent record.

That said, Madrid lost their final two games last season – both legs of the last-16 tie with Manchester City – and losing to Shakhtar Donetsk would put them on a three-match losing streak in the Champions League or European Cup for the first time since September 1986.

With captain Sergio Ramos injured, Zinedine Zidane will have concerns about his defence. At least the forward line is in capable hands: Karim Benzema has managed four goals and two assists across six consecutive home games in the competition, and Shakhtar have failed to keep a clean sheet in 22 Champions League matches in a row.

Manchester City v Porto: More English misery?

Porto have played 20 away games against English sides in Europe and have failed to win any. In fact, they have lost 17 of those games and have not scored in the previous seven. They do at least go into this contest off a run of just two defeats in 16 Champions League group-stage matches.

City have a pretty strong recent record in the group stage, having gone unbeaten in 11 games since a surprise 2-1 loss to Lyon in September 2018. They also have Raheem Sterling in sharp form: the forward has scored 20 goals in the competition since his debut for City in September 2015, a tally only Harry Kane can match among English players in that time.

 

Other fixtures:

Inter v Borussia Monchengladbach:

9 – Romelu Lukaku has scored nine goals in 11 appearances in European competition for Inter. Since the start of last season, only Robert Lewandowski (15) and Erling Haaland (10) have netted more across the Champions League and Europa League.

8 – Strike partner Lautaro Martinez has scored five in six Champions League starts and eight in 14 in Europe overall for the Nerazzurri.

 

Salzburg v Lokomotiv Moscow:

10 – Since September 2018, Lokomotiv Moscow have lost 10 Champions League games, more than any other club in that time.

16 – Salzburg scored 16 group-stage goals last season but finished third in their group. The only other team to score that many and get knocked out were Chelsea in 2012-13.

 

Midtjylland v Atalanta:

16 – Atalanta have scored at least once in 16 of their previous 17 European games, including nine in three matches in last season's knockouts. Josip Ilicic has nine goals in 13 European appearances for the club.

18 – Midtjylland conceded 18 goals in eight matches in the 2015-16 Europa League, their previous involvement in Europe. No team conceded more that season.

 

Olympiacos v Marseille:

3 – This will be Andre Villas-Boas' first Champions League game since March 2016. He has lost his most recent three matches in the competition.

41 – Steve Mandanda has made 41 appearances in the competition, the most for any Marseille player in history. The goalkeeper accounts for 37 per cent of the total games played by current Marseille players in this tournament.

Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum has blasted Everton's conduct as "completely unacceptable" following injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Thiago Alcantara sustained in Saturday's Merseyside derby.

Van Dijk is likely to miss most of the campaign after suffering anterior cruciate ligament damage following a wild challenge from Jordan Pickford in the 2-2 draw at Goodison Park.

With Van Dijk having been flagged offside, Everton's goalkeeper did not receive any punishment for the tackle, while the Football Association confirmed on Monday that Pickford would not face retrospective action.

Premier League leaders Everton did subsequently have a player sent off, with Richarlison seeing red for a lunge on Thiago late on, and the former Bayern Munich star has not made the trip to Amsterdam to face Ajax in the Champions League.

Richarlison's red card was the 22nd sending off in a Merseyside derby in the Premier League era, with the Toffees having had 15 players dismissed.

The incidents left a sour taste for Wijnaldum, with the Dutchman believing Everton – who had four players carded on Saturday compared to Liverpool's two – have a track record of being too robust in derbies.

"Of course we are upset. The way Pickford went in was completely stupid," he said.

"I believe he didn't want to injure Virgil, but the way he took the tackle, he didn't care. I think we've had it a lot in the games against Everton.

"In my opinion, they take it way too far in the games we play against them. Sometimes you go a little over the top, but this was too much.

"We can talk about the tackle from Richarlison, it was also a nasty one. That's what bothered me the most. Accidents can always happen, you can be unlucky, but the way they were doing it was completely unacceptable. It makes it harder that they don't get punished."

While Richarlison issued an apology for his tackle on Thiago, it was confirmed on Sunday that Van Dijk will require surgery and Wijnaldum acknowledged that the squad are hugely concerned for their star defender.

"First of all we're still devastated, it's also different than normal. The way it happened is really hard for us," he added.

"Everyone has a really bad feeling about it. When we were speaking with the players after Saturday I think none of the players slept because of what happened with Virgil. It's a really hard one to take.

"People will say that because Virgil is really important part of our team. He had really big performances, a really important player for us, a leader.

"It's quite normal people will say that, but it's up to us. It's a situation we didn't deal with before, but it's what we have to deal with. Everyone can see what kind of impact he's had."

Jurgen Klopp has hit out at Jamie Carragher for suggesting Liverpool took a risk by going into the new campaign with just three senior centre-halves.

The Reds boss opted against bring in another central defender after selling Dejan Lovren to Zenit over the summer, preferring to ask midfielder Fabinho to occasionally operate as back-up to Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk.

But, with the latter having sustained a serious knee injury during Saturday's trip to Everton, Klopp's options have already thinned significantly.

That situation led Liverpool great Carragher, now a television pundit, to declare that his former club must enter the January transfer market to strengthen an area he believes was left "weak", with RB Leipzig's Dayot Upamecano his pick.

However, Klopp has now angrily dismissed that assessment, and remained tight-lipped over whether the Reds are planning any January moves.

Klopp said: "We went into the season with three centre-halves, Fabinho and young kids.

"It’s difficult to have four world class centre-halves. It’s not a position you rotate. If anyone wants to tell us we made a mistake, I think Jamie Carragher. There is a reason why they don’t do this job, they do the other job.

"It’s our situation. We will see how we react. We are still a little sensitive. We are in a completely different mood.

"We know since yesterday our vice-captain and the best centre-half in the world will not play for us for a long time. For the future, I have no idea."

Van Dijk's injury was the result of a poor challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, which was neither punished by the referee nor video assistant referee, or indeed retrospectively.

Thiago Alcantara also ended up on the wrong end of a red-card tackle from Richarlison late in the same game, and Klopp was clearly still angered by both situations, expressing frustration that Liverpool have been the only ones left to "deal with the consequences".

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's Champions League match at Ajax, which Thiago will also miss, Klopp said: "You judge us, you judge everybody. A couple of days ago something happened that should not have happened in a football game. And it’s not the first time. I see it similar to my players.

"Both challenges were difficult to accept. What we all can do is try to change these kind of things. I spoke the day after, it’s really hard for us, yes he’s a world-class player, injuries happen.

"In the last four years, we were the leader of the fair play table. People make a joke about it.

"In this game, a few things came together. I have to say, first the ref didn’t see it. Michael Oliver, I don’t understand – he had the best view. VAR forgets the rules.

"As a human being, it’s not that I want a player to be punished, but it’s something we all agree on, you have to deal with the consequences. At the moment, only Virgil and Thiago have to deal with the consequences.

"You keep all these stories up, I’m here for a Champions League. But you asked these questions. We didn’t do anything wrong in the game, or since then, but our players are the ones that suffer and it doesn’t feel right.

"We all accept injuries can happen, but it should be in a normal challenge."

Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho and Ansu Fati headline the final 20-name shortlist for the 2020 Golden Boy award.

The prize, presented by Italian newspaper Tuttosport and won by Joao Felix last year, is given to the best player aged 21 or under from a top-tier league in Europe.

Haaland is a leading contender for the accolade after scoring 44 goals across all competitions in 2019-20 – 16 of those coming in 18 appearances after a mid-season move from Salzburg to Borussia Dortmund.

Among all Bundesliga players last season to have scored at least 10 goals, only Robert Lewandowski (81.2) had a better minutes-per-goal record than Haaland (81.7).

His Dortmund team-mate Sancho finished the 2019-20 league campaign with 17 goals and 16 assists, making him the first player since Opta began detailed data collection (2004-05) to register at least 15 in both categories in the same Bundesliga campaign.

The England international's prolific campaign saw him become the youngest player (20 years, two months and six days old) in the history of Germany's top flight to reach 30 career goals.

Despite their impressive numbers, Haaland and Sancho face stiff competition from Fati, who became the third-youngest player (16 years, 304 days old) to find the net in LaLiga history and the youngest of all time in the Champions League (17 years, 40 days).

He finished the season with eight goals in all competitions and has continued his rise this term, netting three times in as many LaLiga games and becoming the youngest player to score for Spain.

Alphonso Davies will also be in contention after establishing himself as one of the top left-backs in the game during Bayern Munich's treble-winning season.

The full 20-man shortlist:

Mitchel Bakker (Paris Saint-Germain), Eduardo Camavinga (Rennes), Jonathan David (Lille), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich), Sergino Dest (Barcelona), Fabio Silva (Wolves), Ansu Fati (Barcelona), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax), Mason Greenwood (Manchester United), Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund), Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), Dejan Kulusevski (Juventus), Rodrygo (Real Madrid), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Dominik Szoboszlai (Salzburg), Sandro Tonali (Milan), Ferran Torres (Manchester City), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid).

Gian Piero Gasperini knows Atalanta will not be able to catch anyone by surprise in this season's Champions League as they aim to qualify from a difficult group that includes Liverpool.

The Serie A side marked their debut campaign in Europe's leading club competition in 2019-20 by reaching the quarter-finals, having fought back impressively from a shocking start to qualify for the knockout stages.

Atalanta overcame three straight defeats to progress behind Manchester City, and will once again come up against the reigning Premier League champions this term.

They have been drawn alongside Liverpool, a team Gasperini describes as "extraordinary" following their achievements in recent years under Jurgen Klopp, as well as Ajax and Midtjylland.

The aim once again is for Atalanta to make the last 16, even if opponents know what to expect when they come up against them now.

"Liverpool are an extraordinary team. They won the Champions League two years ago and last season they dominated the Premier League," Gasperini said while appearing at the Festival dello Sport.

"They are one of the best teams in the world and it's going to be very difficult against them, as it was against Manchester City.

"I always said that in this sort of game we need to learn as much experience as we can, despite the need to get results.

"Obviously we hope to do well, as we did against City. Our goal is to come out from Liverpool's games with more knowledge of what it means to face the best teams in the world.

"Our ambition is to pass the group stage and if last season we were a surprise for many people, this year we are not. But to go through against Ajax, and also the Danish team Midtjylland, we will need to do something very important."

Atalanta finished third in the Italian top flight in 2019-20 and have started the new campaign in outstanding form, reeling off three successive victories prior to the international break while scoring a combined total of 13 goals.

In doing so, they became the first team in the history of Serie A to have scored four or more in each of their first three games of a season. The last side to achieve that feat in the top five European leagues was Real Madrid, back in 1987-88.

Barcelona have completed the signing of right-back Sergino Dest from Ajax for an initial €21million.

The 19-year-old United States international has signed a five-year contract with a €400m buyout clause, while the deal could eventually cost Barca €26m.

Barca faced stiff competition for the Ajax academy product, with Bayern Munich said to be also keen on his signature, but his signing for the Blaugrana appeared a formality after he was spotted arriving in Catalonia on Tuesday.

Dest broke into the Ajax senior side just last season, playing 35 times across all competitions as he established himself as an alternative to Noussair Mazraoui.

An attack-minded full-back, Dest was originally a winger when he first joined Ajax, but he has thrived following a positional switch.

Technically gifted, quick and a fine dribbler, Dest's performances saw him catch the eye of several major clubs in his breakout season, but it is the well-travelled path from Ajax to Barca that he has decided to tread.

Barca had been on the lookout for a new right-back following the exit of Nelson Semedo, who failed to convince coaching staff and fans alike during his three years at Camp Nou.

Netherlands-born Dest has already been capped three times by the United States' senior side, whom he is eligible for through his father.

Barca have not confirmed if Dest will be in contention to make his debut on Thursday at Celta Vigo, or if he will have to wait for the visit of Sevilla three days later.

 

Barcelona have completed the signing of right-back Sergino Dest from Ajax for an initial €21million.

 

Manchester United's problems in the transfer window have reportedly continued as they target Federico Chiesa and Alex Telles.

The Premier League giants have had a tough window so far, with only Donny van de Beek arriving from Ajax.

That is their only inclusion despite links to the likes of Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho and Telles, and their progress is still seemingly slow ahead of the window closing on Monday.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD'S CHIESA BID REJECTED, SNUBBED OVER TELLES

Manchester United had a loan enquiry for Fiorentina attacker Chiesa turned down, according to The Telegraph.

As they struggle to land a deal for Sancho, United have been linked with Chiesa and Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele.

Chiesa, a 22-year-old Italy international, has made a fine start to this season, scoring once and providing an assist in two Serie A games.

United seemed closer to bringing in Telles, but O Jogo reports Porto did not even respond to their first bid for the left-back – believed to be around £11.8million (€13m) – as the Portuguese giants see it as unrealistic.

 

ROUND-UP

- After Luis Suarez's arrival at Atletico Madrid, Diego Costa is linked with a move away. AS reports Paris Saint-Germain are considering a move for the forward, and it adds Atletico could look to replace him with free agent Edinson Cavani.

- Manchester City's transfer business in this window could be done. The Sun reports any plans for the Premier League side to bring in a left-back – either Bayern Munich's David Alaba or Ajax's Nicolas Tagliafico – are reliant on a late bid being received for Oleksandr Zinchenko.

- Are Bayern Munich looking for a back-up for star Robert Lewandowski? Sport Bild reports the Bundesliga champions want to sign Hoffenheim forward Andrej Kramaric. The Croatia international scored twice against Bayern in the Bundesliga on Saturday and is up to seven goals in three games in 2020-21.

- Tottenham are reportedly looking at Benfica striker Carlos Vinicius. Football.London says Spurs are hoping to loan the striker with an option to buy for £36.3m (€40m). Carlos Vinicius scored 24 goals in 47 games in all competitions last season.

- Staying at Spurs and Sky Sports reports Celtic have made an approach for Tottenham left-back Ryan Sessegnon. However, it says finances are problematic, while multiple Premier League clubs are also keeping an eye on Sessegnon.

- Andreas Pereira is set to leave Manchester United. Fabrizio Romano reports a deal between United and Lazio has been signed for a loan with option to buy for €27m (£24.5m).

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has confirmed Sergino Dest is having a medical with the club ahead of a potential move from Ajax.

The 19-year-old United States international has been strongly linked with a €25million move to either Barca or Bayern Munich, but it appears the Catalan club have won the race.

Dest, an attack-minded right-back, was spotted arriving in Barcelona on Tuesday, giving rise to increased speculation that the deal was practically closed.

And Koeman, who tried to persuade Dest to represent the Netherlands when he coached the Oranje, confirmed the teenager is having a medical as he plans to take the well-trodden path from Ajax to Camp Nou.

"Dest is doing his medical, we still have to sign [the contracts]," Koeman told reporters in his news conference on Wednesday. "Until he signs I will not comment

"We are going to have a young full-back – it is a matter of changing things and having young players for the future of the club is important.

"It is good because he has played in the Champions League and I am sure that, when all the contracts are signed, he will be very useful for Barca."

One player strongly linked with leaving Barca is Ousmane Dembele, who is reportedly being lined up by Manchester United as an alternative to Jadon Sancho.

The French winger has only been able to show glimpses of his ability since joining from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 due to injuries – in 2019-20 he featured just five times in LaLiga.

While Koeman claimed no knowledge of any potential transfer for Dembele, he insisted that he sees a future for him at Barca.

"Those decisions are made by the club and the player. As we have seen, I am going to count on him," Koeman added.

"He did not play from the start [against Villarreal] because there are more players and Ansu [Fati] has proven to be very good for this team.

"He was better physically the first few weeks, but today he trained well and I'm going to count on him."

Dembele's future could be tied to that of Memphis Depay, who is said to be Barca's primary target in attack, and while Koeman would not specifically name his compatriot when asked about signings, he made no secret of his desire to add options in that department.

"We have to analyse the squad, analyse what we lack," he continued. "We know that financially the club has its problems, like everyone else.

"There are one or two positions where we need to improve, and I'm not going to lie to you, we are working.

"There are options but it is very unsafe. The club is going to work hard. If not, we will use our players because I have no complaints with the ones we have.

"We want to have two or three players per position. We have put Leo [Lionel Messi] as a nine, [Antoine] Griezmann can play there, but they are different players. Martin [Braithwaite] is more than a nine and will have his chances but we want one more."

Borussia Dortmund are reportedly maintaining a firm stance over Jadon Sancho, while Barcelona still want Memphis Depay.

The Sancho transfer saga continues to dominate talk as Manchester United chase the Dortmund star.

But the Bundesliga club are seemingly unmoved.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND ADAMANT SANCHO WILL STAY

Dortmund are adamant Sancho will not be sold this transfer window, according to Sky Sports.

United have continued to be linked with the England international, who scored 17 goals and provided 16 assists in 32 Bundesliga games last season.

However, Dortmund's asking price of £108million (€120m) has reportedly proven to be a stumbling block.

 

ROUND-UP

- Late in the transfer window, there may still be movement at Barcelona. Sport reports Ronald Koeman still wants Lyon star Depay. It also says Ajax full-back Sergino Dest is close to signing, while Porto are trying to loan midfielder Riqui Puig. Meanwhile, Mundo Deportivo says Barca will make a new offer for Eric Garcia after Manchester City signed Benfica defender Ruben Dias.

- Amid uncertainty over Luka Jovic's future at Real Madrid, AS reports LaLiga's champions want the forward to make a loan move. Jovic struggled in his first season at Madrid in 2019-20.

- There could be more movement at Chelsea. Fabrizio Romano says the Premier League club are still looking at West Ham midfielder Declan Rice as their main target, but will first try to sell players.

- Antonio Rudiger could be among the exits at Chelsea. Sky Sports reports Tottenham are interested in signing the defender.

- Talk about Rhian Brewster's Liverpool future continues. The Sun says Sheffield United are offering £17m for the forward and are prepared to agree to a buy-back clause of around £40m. The Blades have failed to score in their first three Premier League games and are second bottom.

- Lyon are reportedly chasing Milan midfielder Lucas Paqueta. L'Equipe claims the Ligue 1 club offered to take the 23-year-old on a one-year loan with an €18m purchase option, a deal which was rejected. However, it reports Lyon will return with an improved offer.

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