Atletico Madrid star Joao Felix says his 16-year-old brother Hugo is capable of doing things he was unable to do at the same age.

Hugo is in the youth ranks at Benfica, who Joao Felix won the 2018-19 Primeira Liga with before leaving for Atletico in a €126million move last July.

The 20-year-old Portugal international believes his younger sibling has what it takes to break into the first team and forge a successful career in football.

"If he listens to those who want to help him, he is going to be successful," Joao Felix told BTV.

"He does things I couldn't do at his age. He has everything to do well and reach the first team. For his age he works a lot.

"We both like to score. He takes better free-kicks than me, I am better at penalties, but we both play more or less in the same positions.

"In football you have to play simple, but we like to do something different, something that excites the crowd, and we have some similarities.

"Since we were little we saw each other playing and tried to do the same things."

Joao Felix also got his hands on some silverware at international level with Portugal at the Nations League Finals last year.

With Atleti having booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a dramatic extra-time victory over Liverpool in their last match before the coronavirus pandemic led to the suspension of most major sport across the globe, he is hoping for more.

"You need a bit of luck to win the Champions League," said Joao Felix.

"But we hope to [win] it and if I won the Champions League, it would be something very good in my life and my career.

"[It would be] one of the happiest days [of my life] - the dream I've always had since I've been playing football."

Liverpool are apparently looking at a Brazilian teenager who has drawn comparisons to Neymar, while Leroy Sane is set for a Manchester City exit.

Premier League leaders Liverpool are reportedly keen to strengthen this close season, albeit without spending huge amounts.

Sane, meanwhile, has been linked with Bayern Munich, and that move could be getting closer to reality.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL TARGET NEXT NEYMAR

Liverpool are targeting Vasco da Gama forward Talles Magno, according to the Mirror.

Talles, 17, has previously been likened to Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar and is a Brazil youth international.

The teenager has already made 22 senior appearances for Vasco da Gama.

ROUND-UP

- Linked with Bayern Munich, Sane could get a move. The Evening Standard reports Manchester City are prepared to sell the Germany international if he refuses to sign an extension, with his contract expiring next year.

- Adrien Rabiot appears set for a Juventus exit. L'Equipe reports the midfielder wants to join Premier League outfit Everton.

- Manchester United and Wolves seemingly know what they will need to pay if they want Carlos Vinicius. The Mirror reports Benfica have told the Premier League clubs they must pay at least £89.4million (€100m) for the striker.

- On loan at Newcastle United from Inter, Valentino Lazaro could be set for a longer stay. The Sun reports Newcastle are in talks over a £21.25m (€23.8m) deal for the midfielder.

- Jeremy Sarmiento is catching the eye. The Sun reports the England youth and Benfica forward is a target for several clubs in Europe's top five leagues.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is out of contract in June 2021 and the Gabon international is no closer to signing a new Arsenal deal.

The former Borussia Dortmund star is not short of suitors amid uncertainty over his future in London.

And Real Madrid are reportedly making their move.

 

T OP STORY – MADRID TELL ARSENAL TO DECIDE OVER AUBA

Real Madrid have set Arsenal a deadline as they look to sign star forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, according to The Mirror.

Aubameyang is out of contract in June 2021 and the Gabon international has been tipped to leave Arsenal.

Madrid reportedly want Arsenal to make a decision on Aubameyang's future by June 15 as the likes of Inter and Paris Saint-Germain also circle.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport reports Barcelona are on the brink of signing Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic. The LaLiga giants are close to agreeing a four-year deal with the Bosnia-Herzegovina international.

- Pjanic had been mentioned in a possible swap deal with Barca's Arthur, who has previously dismissed an exit. However, Tuttosport claims Juventus have not given up on signing Arthur.

- Former RB Leipzig boss Ralf Rangnick is set to become head coach of Milan, reports Calciomercato.

- The Express says Manchester United have identified Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek as a top transfer target. Van de Beek has also been linked to Madrid and Juve.

Madrid want Casemiro to continue at the Santiago Bernabeu, but Mundo Deportivo reports the futures of captain Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric, Lucas Vazquez and James Rodriguez are up in the air.

- According to The Sun, Borussia Dortmund want to sign Chelsea teenager Charlie Webster.

Inter have set their sights on Freiburg centre-back Robin Koch, reports Tuttomercatoweb. Koch has also been linked to Napoli and Benfica.

United are keeping tabs on Swansea City defender Joe Rodon, says The Mirror. The Red Devils have already raided Swansea previously, signing Welshman Daniel James ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Former Italy and Milan centre-back Franco Baresi, widely regarded as one of the finest defenders of all time, celebrated his 60th birthday on Friday.

As well as being an imperious performer at the heart of one of the best backlines European football has ever seen alongside Mauro Tassotti, Alessandro Costacurta and Paolo Maldini, Baresi was also a celebrated leader.

Of the six Serie A titles he won during a Milan career spanning three decades, five came as captain.

The Rossoneri's exploits on the European stage under Arrigo Sacchi and then Fabio Capello were also exceptional.

During a spell of seven years, Milan led by Baresi reached five finals in the European Cup and Champions League, winning three. Here we look back at how those showpieces unfolded.

 

1989 – MILAN 4-0 STEAUA BUCHAREST

Twenty years on from their second, Milan had a third European title courtesy of their Dutch masters at Camp Nou.

Close-range finishes from Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten established a 2-0 lead inside half an hour. A wonderful touch and strike from the edge of the box by Gullit made it 3-0 before the interval, and Van Basten latched on to a measured throughball from Frank Rijkaard to complete the rout shortly after half-time.

1990 – MILAN 1-0 BENFICA

It was a case of roles reversed as Sacchi's men found the going tougher a year later in Vienna, with Van Basten's cute pass releasing Rijkaard to score the decisive goal in the 68th minute.

Baresi and his defensive colleagues saw out the win with another clean sheet, with Milan the last team to manage back-to-back triumphs in the Europe's top competition until Real Madrid embarked on their run of three in a row between 2016 and 2018.

1993 – MARSEILLE 1-0 MILAN

In a far less memorable final moment for Rijkaard, Basil Boli rose above him to glance in a 43rd-minute corner at Munich's Olympiastadion.

Milan, now under Capello, won Serie A that season only losing twice, having gone a top-flight season unbeaten in 1991-92. But they were unable to find a response in the final of the newly rebranded Champions League.

1994 – MILAN 4-0 BARCELONA

Without the suspended Baresi and Costacurta, while also having to omit Florin Raducioiu, Jean-Pierre Papin and Brian Laudrup due to the three non-nations rule in UEFA competitions at that time, few gave Milan a chance against Johan Cruyff's star-studded Barcelona. Van Basten and record signing Gigi Lentini were also nursing serious injuries.

However, Daniele Massaro snaffled a first-half brace before the mercurial Dejan Savicevic and Marcel Desailly scored magnificent goals to complete a thrashing that marked the end of the road for Barca's fabled Dream Team.

1995 – AJAX 1-0 MILAN

As the previous year's final showed, all dynasties must come to an end at some point. And in Baresi's last Champions League final, Louis van Gaal's vibrant young Ajax side pinched glory.

Teenager Patrick Kluivert came off the bench to net the winner five minutes from time, giving Rijkaard – an experienced head among the young stars – glory at the expense of his former employers.

Barcelona's pursuit of Lautaro Martinez continues – and they are reportedly offering up six players as part of the deal.

The LaLiga giants continue to be linked with a move for the Inter star, although reports suggest they are likely to struggle to get a deal done.

The latest report shows just how much difficulty they are facing.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA OFFER INTER CHOICE OF SIX PLAYERS FOR LAUTARO

Barcelona are offering Inter a list of six players for Martinez, according to Sport.

It says Barca would hope to offload two of the six players plus €60million to get a deal done.

Arturo Vidal, Samuel Umtiti, Nelson Semedo, Junior Firpo, Rafinha and Jean-Clair Todibo are the players they are reportedly prepared to offer.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United continue to be linked with a move for Jack Grealish. The Sun reports the Premier League giants are stepping up their pursuit of the Aston Villa star in a £50m move.

- Staying at Old Trafford and Sport reports Marc Jurado has rejected a contract renewal from Barcelona and will instead join Manchester United.

- Talk around Philippe Coutinho continues. With Newcastle United potentially being taken over, Mauricio Pochettino has been linked with the top job and Mundo Deportivo reports one of the Argentine coach's first wishes would be signing Coutinho from Barcelona.

- Manchester City are reportedly looking to strengthen their defence during the upcoming close season. Sport reports the Premier League side are willing to pay £30.6m (€35m) for Marseille defender Boubacar Kamara.

- Javi Martinez and Jerome Boateng could be set for Bayern Munich exits. Kicker reports Bayern are preparing to sell the duo this close season, with both coming out of contract in 2021.

- Are Newcastle United looking for a new goalkeeper? Sport 24 reports they are looking at Benfica and Greece goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos, with the Primeira Liga club wanting £17.5m (€20m) for the shot-stopper.

The career of a so-called 'wonderkid' in football sounds straightforward – you get spotted early on by a big club, your precocious skills see you establish yourself in the first team and then go on to enjoy an illustrious career at the top.

But we all know that, in reality, it doesn't quite work like that. Each situation is nuanced and, for every Kylian Mbappe there is a Kaz Patafta.

Australia's captain during the Under-17 World Cup in 2005, Patafta will be the first to say expectations were high for him after landing a three-year contract with Benfica as a teenager.

And, for what it's worth, his potential was even given 'video game approval', Championship Manager 2007 ranking him similarly to Gareth Bale after he'd trained with Guus Hiddink's pre-2006 World Cup squad.

But Patafta's career in professional football ended at age 22 having never played a top-flight European match in a rueful case of what might have been.

Kylian Mbappe has been tipped to join fellow Frenchman Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid.

Madrid head coach Zidane has made no secret of his admiration for Mbappe.

However, Liverpool are reportedly launching an audacious bid for the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL CONTACT MBAPPE'S DAD

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has spoken to Kylian Mbappe's father about bringing the Paris Saint-Germain star to Anfield, according to Le10 Sport.

Mbappe has been tipped to join LaLiga giants Real Madrid in 2021 as PSG struggle to agree a new contract with the France forward.

Despite strong links to the Santiago Bernabeu, Champions League holders Liverpool are still chasing the 21-year-old.

 

ROUND-UP

Cristiano Ronaldo does not want to leave Juventus, says Tuttosport. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked to PSG, as well as former clubs Madrid and Manchester United.

Paulo Dybala to Inter? The Argentina star was linked to the Nerazzurri at the start of the season but remained at Juventus, where he has starred. However, Calciomercato says Inter are still interested in Dybala.

- The Mirror claims Borussia Dortmund have set their sights on Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka. The 18-year-old has also been linked to Liverpool and United.

Barcelona and Manchester City are eyeing Benfica defender Ruben Dias, reports Record. The 22-year-old has been offered to Barca as a possible long-term replacement for Samuel Umtiti, the report adds.

- Mundo Deportivo says Juve are pressing to sign in-demand Barca midfielder Arthur, who has been the subject of interest from Inter and Tottenham.

Arsenal have given up on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang re-signing with the Premier League club, according to the Daily Express. Inter are said to be the favourites to sign the Gabon forward.

- Real Madrid's Luka Jovic has emerged as an option for Milan amid doubts over Zlatan Ibrahimovic's future, says Calciomercato.

Saturday should have seen Barcelona host Atletico Madrid in LaLiga and pit Antoine Griezmann against his old club once more.

Griezmann left Atleti for Camp Nou in the second most expensive transfer of the previous close season, his €120million move eclipsed only by Joao Felix, the man bought to replace him.

Neither player has exactly enjoyed a resoundingly triumphant season, which is an affliction to hit many of the top 10 most expensive transfers of 2019.

We look at each of those players and whether their signings have, until now, been a hit or a miss...

 

JOAO FELIX: Benfica to Atletico Madrid (€126m)

Benfica and Portugal's golden boy scored in pre-season victories over Juventus and Real Madrid to give Atleti fans reason to believe the post-Griezmann future was bright.

However, just six goals in 28 competitive appearances later, doubts have been growing as to whether the 20-year-old forward will ever truly suit Diego Simeone's system.

VERDICT: MISS

ANTOINE GRIEZMANN: Atletico Madrid to Barcelona (€120m)

Griezmann vowed to stay at Atletico in 2018 only to change his mind a year later, and his performances for Barca are in keeping with a man not quite at ease in his surroundings.

Only Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez better his goal involvements for the Blaugrana in LaLiga this term (eight goals and four assists), while he is second only to Messi for chances created (26), but fans were entitled to expect more from the club's latest mega-money forward.

VERDICT: MISS

EDEN HAZARD: Chelsea to Real Madrid (€100m)

Chelsea fans feared the worst when their star man was lost during a transfer embargo, but things have hardly gone swimmingly for Hazard at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Injury problems have restricted him to just nine starts and a solitary goal and assist in LaLiga. He has also only created 14 chances, as many as James Rodriguez (who has started just four league games) and Lucas Vazquez (who has started six).

VERDICT: MISS

HARRY MAGUIRE: Leicester City to Manchester United (€87m)

The world's most expensive central defender might not be thought of as the world's best, but that should not detract from his impact on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

He leads the way for duels won, aerial duels won, blocks and interceptions among United defenders in the Premier League this season, helping them to eight clean sheets. Oh, and he's already been made club captain.

VERDICT: HIT

MATTHIJS DE LIGT: Ajax to Juventus (€85m)

The most coveted centre-back of the window after Ajax's remarkable Champions League run, De Ligt delivered a dreadful performance on his Juventus debut in a 4-3 win over Napoli.

He has won the most aerial duels and has the pass success rate of any Juve defender to feature more than five times in Serie A this term, but there are already doubts about his long-term suitability to Maurizio Sarri's side.

VERDICT: MISS

LUCAS HERNANDEZ: Atletico Madrid to Bayern Munich (€80m)

Bayern smashed their transfer record to sign defender Hernandez, but injuries have made it difficult to assess whether the money will prove to be well-spent.

A knee problem in September was followed by a serious ankle injury that kept him out for nearly four months, meaning he has started only nine games in all competitions for the Bundesliga champions.

VERDICT: MISS

NICOLAS PEPE: Lille to Arsenal (€80m)

Pepe was something of a symbol of Unai Emery's problematic final few weeks in charge as he struggled badly to find form for the Gunners.

He has certainly shown signs of improvement in 2020 – only Mesut Ozil (38) has created more chances in the league than Pepe (34) for Arsenal – but fans will have hoped for more from their record signing.

VERDICT: MISS

FRENKIE DE JONG: Ajax to Barcelona (€75m)

Another Ajax star who became coveted by clubs across Europe last year, De Jong opted for Barca and immediately became a regular in midfield.

He has not quite adapted to life in LaLiga - Ernesto Valverde's exit and Quique Setien's arrival as coach did not help - but, in turbulent times for the club, he looks to be a safe bet as the beating heart of Barca for years to come: he had created more chances (24) than any other Barca midfielder this term and only Sergio Busquets has more recoveries and interceptions.

VERDICT: HIT

RODRI: Atletico Madrid to Manchester City (€70m)

Manchester City's record signing has proved a smart bit of a business given midfield-anchor supreme Fernandinho has spent much of this season in defence.

Rodri has attempted more passes (1,996), recorded a better passing accuracy (92 per cent) and more recoveries (181) than any other City midfielder in 2019-20. He looks very much at home in Pep Guardiola's system.

VERDICT: HIT

ROMELU LUKAKU: Manchester United to Inter (€65m)

Lukaku's move to Inter seems to have been that rarity in modern-day transfers: a deal that has worked out well for everyone concerned.

United's attack is taking the more fluid shape Solskjaer wants, Antonio Conte at last got the forward he tried to bring to Juventus and Chelsea, and Lukaku has looked in the form of his career, with 17 goals and two assists in Serie A as part of a fearsome partnership with Lautaro Martinez.

VERDICT: HIT

Bernardo Silva does not feel his Manchester City team-mates earn the sort of recognition their Liverpool counterparts do in terms of individual awards – and he has also revealed his desire to one day return to Benfica.

City accumulated 198 points over title-winning seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19 but Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk scooped the PFA Player of the Year award at the end of those respective campaigns.

Van Dijk also won the UEFA Best Player of the Year gong after the Reds won the Champions League last term under Jurgen Klopp.

Bernardo believes Kevin De Bruyne, Fernandinho and Raheem Sterling have been underappreciated when it comes to individual prizes, claiming other clubs benefit by having "more power with the media and organisations that others".

"I think plenty of players deserve a lot more than what they get," he said during an Instagram Live with Bleacher Report.

"I'll give you an example: Fernandinho, and even Raheem Sterling from last season.

"Some clubs have more power with the media and organisations than others.

"Three seasons ago, we win the league, they (Liverpool) were like 30 points behind and Kevin De Bruyne had an unbelievable season. Mo Salah scored a lot of goals – he's a great player and I admire him a lot, I'm not saying otherwise – and they give the award to Mo Salah and not Kevin De Bruyne.

"This season again, Kevin De Bruyne has another unbelievable season, we're behind, but because Liverpool are champions one of them is probably winning the award again.

"I think the individual awards are very relative."

The Portugal international was also asked about returning to play in his homeland at some stage in his career.

While in no rush to leave City, Silva hopes to join Benfica, the club he left to join Monaco before making a first-team appearance.

"I am enjoying my career a lot, I don't want to go back now but I don't want to go when I'm too old. I want to go help my team when I am in a good physical condition. I don't know the exact age - not too old but not now," he said.

"I'm a Benfica fan. I used to go to all the games with my dad, so my dream was always to play for Benfica. When I was 19 and playing for the second team, I didn't have the opportunity to play for the first team because the manager didn't want me there or think I was able to play for the first team.

"It was a huge disappointment for me to have to leave, go to Monaco to have a good career.

"Because I've never played for my team, I have this gap in my heart and I need to fill it. Not now obviously, but if they want me there, I definitely want to go back to Benfica one day."

Luckless Liverpool are in limbo as they bid to become champions of England for the first time in 30 years.

The Reds are 25 points clear at the top of the Premier League, needing only two more wins to clinch the title, yet the season has been suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Jurgen Klopp's dominant side should have been sealing silverware on Saturday in their match against Crystal Palace but now instead must wait to see if the campaign can be completed at all.

Liverpool supporters might well feel they are cursed, and former goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar agreed last year as he splashed urine on the Anfield goalposts in an attempt to lift an apparent hex.

Such hoodoos are relatively commonplace in sport, though. We take a look at some notable examples.
 

LIVERPOOL (1990-present)

It seemed inconceivable when Liverpool won their 18th title in 1990 – an 11th in 18 seasons – that number 19 would not swiftly follow. But when Reds supporters mocked rivals Manchester United after their eighth success in 1993, with a banner that read, 'Come back when you've won 18', they were made to eat their words.

The Old Trafford club had 20 championships by the time manager Alex Ferguson departed, a 2009 United banner teasing: 'You told us to come back when we've won 18 – we are back'.

Indeed, Liverpool were runners-up to United in 2008-09, as Rafael Benitez infamously went public with criticism of Ferguson. Even when the Scot retired and United slumped in 2013-14, Liverpool collapsed on the home straight and were pipped by Manchester City, who denied them again last season.

This is surely now their year – as long as the campaign does indeed resume.

BOSTON RED SOX (1918-2004)

Liverpool might find some comfort in the knowledge their owner has experience in ending curses for sporting giants.

John W Henry took over the Boston Red Sox in 2002 with the aim of finally ending the Curse of the Bambino, which stemmed from the team's sale of star player Babe Ruth to rivals the New York Yankees some 83 years earlier.

Ruth had featured in three of Boston's five World Series triumphs and went on to win four more with the Yankees. Meanwhile, the Red Sox remarkably did not claim baseball's greatest prize again until 2004.

That miserable run was finally ended under Henry, though, after Boston had overturned a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series.
 

ATLANTA, GEORGIA (1995-2018)

The city of Boston could at least be comforted by titles for the Patriots, the Celtics or the Bruins. Atlanta's distress crossed several sports in increasingly spectacular fashion.

The Atlanta Braves won the World Series just once in 1995 within a stretch that returned 15 straight division titles. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Falcons lost two Super Bowls, including a record-breaking collapse against Tom Brady's New England Patriots after leading 28-3. Even the University of Georgia ceded a big advantage to lose the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Atlanta United finally provided some respite with MLS Cup glory in 2018, and president Darren Eales told Stats Perform: "It was great to break the curse.

"It's been a long time since 1995 when the Braves won a championship. I'd heard so much in the week up to the game about Atlanta's curse in sport. I didn't get too excited until the referee blew his whistle."
 

DRAKE (2013-2019)

One of the more bizarre apparent curses of recent years related not to a team or a city but to a sole individual: Drake.

The Canadian rapper found an awful knack for backing athletes before big defeats. Serena Williams suffered a huge upset against Roberta Vinci at the US Open, where she had his support, while Anthony Joshua was pictured with Drake prior to his shock loss to Andy Ruiz Jr.

The Toronto Raptors fan came up with a solution for the 2019 NBA playoffs, however. Drake turned out in Philadelphia 76ers shorts as they dramatically lost to the Raptors, seemingly reversing the curse, before Toronto went on to beat the Golden State Warriors in the Finals.
 

BENFICA (1962-present)

Liverpool's is not the only ongoing 'curse' – and Benfica's is not set to end for another 42 years!

Head coach Bela Guttmann led the Portuguese giants to back-to-back European Cup successes in 1961 and 1962 but then left the club after reportedly asking for a pay rise. It is alleged he declared "not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champion".

So it has proven, as Benfica lost European Cup finals in 1963, 1965, 1968, 1988 and 1990 and then came up short in successive Europa League finals in 2013 and 2014.

Manchester United or Chelsea?

The two Premier League giants are reportedly going head-to-head in the race to sign Borussia Dortmund teenager and England international Jadon Sancho.

And the Manchester club feel they can prise the 19-year-old to Old Trafford.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED BELIEVE THEY CAN PIP CHELSEA TO SANCHO

Manchester United are confident they will beat rivals Chelsea to the signing of in-demand Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, claims The Mirror.

Sancho is reportedly keen on returning to England, where the 19-year-old played for Manchester City's youth team before joining Bundesliga outfit Dortmund in 2017.

Dortmund are apparently willing to offload Sancho at the right price and Premier League giants United believe they can prise the England international to Old Trafford in a deal worth £120million (€142.5m).

 

ROUND-UP

- Will Mauricio Pochettino land at Old Trafford? According to journalist Duncan Castles, the former Tottenham manager is determined to take charge of United . His representatives are reportedly confident of convincing United's hierarchy that Pochettino is the right man for the job as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer struggles, with the Red Devils eighth in the Premier League.

- The Sun reports United are set for a double swoop to sign Aston Villa star Jack Grealish and Leicester City attacker James Maddison . Grealish has reportedly given the go-ahead for a move to Old Trafford, while Maddison has apparently been in talks over a contract extension with Leicester.

Marcelo Brozovic to Real Madrid? Mundo Deportivo says the Inter and Croatia international midfielder is wanted by the LaLiga giants. Madrid have also been linked to United's Paul Pogba and Ajax star Donny van de Beek

Barcelona have been told it will take €35m to sign Willian Jose from Real Sociedad, reports Marca. Barca are looking to strengthen their attack following long-term injuries to Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez.

- According to The Express, Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho is plotting a £120m transfer spree at the end of the season. Benfica defender Ruben Dias is a target, as well as Norwich City's Max Aarons, Bournemouth centre-back Nathan Ake and Leicester full-back Ben Chilwell.

Stefano Pioli is contracted to Milan until 2021 but the head coach – who replaced Marco Giampaolo at the start of the campaign – is no certainty to continue beyond this season. According to Calciomercato, Elliott Management want Ralf Rangnick but Paolo Maldini is reportedly pushing for former Milan striker and current Ukraine boss Andriy Shevchenko.

- Football Insider claims Liverpool are set to offer star defender Virgil van Dijk a new £50m deal amid reported interest from Serie A champions Juventus.

Juventus are reportedly lining up an incredible move for Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

Guardiola has been in charge of City since 2016 and is contracted to remain at the helm of the Premier League champions until the end of next season.

However, Juve seemingly have other ideas.

 

TOP STORY – JUVENTUS PLAN TO MAKE MOVE FOR GUARDIOLA

Juventus will give Guardiola whatever it takes to join them ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, according to The Sun.

The Serie A giants were linked with a stunning move for the Spaniard last year, but did not get their man.

Guardiola apparently intends to honour his contract at City, but Juve are prepared to give him whatever he wants.

ROUND-UP

- Philippe Coutinho has no plans to return to Barcelona and wants to make his move to Bayern Munich permanent, according to Catalunya Radio. The Bundesliga club hold an option to buy the attacker, but are reportedly yet to make a decision over whether they will make the move permanent.

- Barcelona are not yet giving up on signing Willian Jose from Real Sociedad. Marca reports the LaLiga giants are still considering the attacker amid a negotiable price despite Willian Jose's buyout clause being set at €70million.

- Jose Mourinho is planning for next season at Tottenham. The Daily Express reports the Spurs head coach is looking to spend £120m on defenders ahead of 2020-21, with Benfica's Ruben Dias and Bournemouth's Nathan Ake leading the list of targets.

- Liverpool tried to sign Villarreal attacker Samuel Chukwueze during January, according to France Football, which reports the European champions offered £29.6m (€35m) for the Nigeria international. Staying at Anfield and the Daily Express says Liverpool are set to offer 18-year-old full-back Neco Williams a new contract.

- Amid surprise reports Barcelona tried to bring Andres Iniesta back to Camp Nou in January, Marca says the LaLiga club's sporting management never considered a return to the club for the Vissel Kobe midfielder.

- Inter are set to decide in the next 48 hours whether to sign goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano after the 34-year-old completed medicals at the Serie A high-flyers, according to CalcioMercato. Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic suffered a finger injury last week.

The January transfer window is over, meaning the top clubs in Europe have to go with what they have got for the remainder of the season.

There have been some huge deals across the continent, with much of the major action was completed early on in the window.

Namely, Erling Haaland joined Borussia Dortmund, and the Norwegian sensation has already made a flying start in the Bundesliga.

Haaland's former Salzburg team-mate Takumi Minamino has joined runaway Premier League leaders, while there was also the small matter of Zlatan Ibrahimovic returning to Milan.

Here, we take a look at the best deals that went through.

Erling Haaland: Salzburg to Borussia Dortmund (€22.5m)

Haaland was arguably the most sought-after player in the January transfer window, with Dortmund reportedly beating RB Leipzig, Juventus and Manchester United to his signature. It already looks like the striker will take the Bundesliga by storm, having scored five goals in two substitute appearances that have lasted a cumulative 59 minutes.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: LA Galaxy to Milan (free transfer)

At 38, not many players would have their pick of clubs, but Ibrahimovic certainly did. He took his time in deciding his next move after leaving LA Galaxy but, amid links to Bologna and Napoli, the Swede plumped to join his former club Milan. His impact at San Siro has been instant, with Milan unbeaten since his return, winning five of their six games in all competitions.

Takumi Minamino: Salzburg to Liverpool (£7.25m)

Haaland may have been the Salzburg player who drew the most attention, but Japan international Minamino should prove to be a bargain for Liverpool. The European champions moved quickly to bring in the 25-year-old for a measly fee of £7.25m. Able to play anywhere in the front three or even as an attacking midfielder, Minamino scored nine goals for Salzburg in all competitions this season before getting his big move and is a great back-up for Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

Dani Olmo: Dinamo Zagreb to RB Leipzig (up to €35m)

A star of Spain’s triumphant side in the Under-21 European Championships, Olmo has carried on his sparkling form from last season to become one of the most in-demand youngsters in European football. Having scored five Champions League goals this term, the 21-year-old was linked with a return to Barcelona, but ultimately opted to join Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig – a team which would seem to be an ideal place for the playmaker to continue his development.

Raul de Tomas: Benfica to Espanyol (€20m)

Another club-record signing in LaLiga, De Tomas seems a gamble for such a fee, although one worth taking for an Espanyol side at serious risk of the drop. He might not have settled in Lisbon, but De Tomas was a persistent goalscorer at Real Valladolid and Rayo Vallecano and €20m will seem a snip if he keeps Espanyol in the top flight.

Paco Alcacer: Borussia Dortmund to Villarreal (€23m)

Ruthless in a Valencia shirt and too-often unused at Barcelona, Alcacer returns to LaLiga after scoring 23 goals in 37 Bundesliga appearances, despite problems with injury, after he was deemed surplus to requirements at Dortmund following Haaland's arrival. It might be a club-record purchase but, if he can fire Villarreal into top-four contention, it will be money well spent.

Julian Weigl: Borussia Dortmund to Benfica (€20m)

Weigl has had some of Europe's biggest clubs following his every move in recent seasons, with Manchester City said to be keen and Paris Saint-Germain reportedly prepared to pay up to €75m to reunite him with Thomas Tuchel. Having struggled for form and minutes under Lucien Favre, Weigl decided his best bet at this stage of his career was to pursue regular game time with Benfica. Still only 24, he will look an absolute bargain if he can recapture his early promise in Portugal.

Alvaro Odriozola: Real Madrid to Bayern Munich (loan)

It would be fair to say things have not quite worked out for Odriozola at Real Madrid, with the full-back having made just 18 LaLiga appearances in total for Los Blancos since his move from Real Sociedad. However, the 24-year-old has been handed the opportunity to prove he can cut it at the highest level at Bayern Munich, who were in desperate need of defensive reinforcements due to injuries to Lucas Hernandez and Niklas Sule.

Pablo Mari: Flamengo to Arsenal (loan with option to buy)

Mikel Arteta was desperate for a left-footed centre-back and in Mari he has found one that, after a string of loan spells away from Manchester City, made good on his potential at Flamengo, where he won the Campeonato Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores in the space of six months. He could be just what Arsenal needed and there is minimal risk involved in the deal.

Carles Perez: Barcelona to Roma (loan with option/obligation to buy)

After a bright start to the season, Perez found game time increasingly hard to come by at Camp Nou. The exciting winger will only cost an initial €11m if targets are met that turn Roma's option to buy into an obligation, which looks like it would be a snip. Given he is only 21, if Perez performs well there would be a good chance of significant profit further down the line.

At long last, one of the more wearisome transfer sagas of the past 12 months is nearing conclusion – Manchester United announced they have agreed a fee with Sporting CP for Bruno Fernandes.

It seemed for a while that Fernandes would join United in pre-season, but, despite their seemingly obvious need for midfield reinforcements, a move never materialised and he remained with Sporting.

Speculation began to stir again last month, and the two clubs are said to have been locked in talks for much of January – though reports of Barcelona apparently hoping to sign Fernandes in order to use him in negotiations with Valencia for Rodrigo Moreno surfaced earlier this week.

Whether or not that story was a ploy by an agent to jolt United into decisive action, who knows? But something seemed to change this week, as the Red Devils finally reached an agreement with Sporting.

Fernandes had a massive impact at the club during his two-and-a-half-year spell, becoming captain and scoring or setting up 67 Primeira Liga goals in 83 appearances.

United certainly don't have a 100 per cent hit-rate when it comes to signings from Portugal – below, we examined whether their previous imports from the Iberian nation have been misses or not.

Cristiano Ronaldo (2003-2009) – HIT

The one that needs no introduction – Ronaldo was a revelation for United following his 2003 arrival from Sporting. The lanky teenager dazzled against United when they faced Sporting for the opening of their Jose Alvalade stadium and, as the story goes, those he tormented implored Alex Ferguson to sign him. So, he did. Outrageously skilful and flashy, early Ronaldo was as fun as they come, but after bulking out he developed a deadly streak, netting 31 times in the 2007-08 Premier League season and helping them to Champions League success. He has since gone on to mark himself out as one of the all-time greats with Real Madrid, Juventus and Portugal.

Bebe (2010-2014) – MISS

From Ferguson's best to arguably his worst signing. Despite the Scot never seeing him play, Bebe is said to have arrived following a recommendation from Ferguson's former right-hand man, Carlos Queiroz. United reportedly paid Vitoria Guimaraes £7.5m for the attacker, but he immediately looked short of the required ability. He somehow managed to last four years at the club, including three loan spells. Most of his career since has been spent in Spain, and he's now playing for Rayo Vallecano in La Segunda.

Nani (2007-2015) – HIT

Few players polarised opinion quite like Nani during his time at United. Undoubtedly capable of the spectacular, he also had his fair share of underwhelming performances and could be infuriatingly frustrating. Like Ronaldo, Nani arrived from Sporting and it was initially said he struggled with the pressure due to comparisons with his United and Portugal team-mate. But in 2010-11 he established himself, producing some spell-binding performances to earn himself a place in the PFA Team of the Year and the United Players' Player of the Year award. Injuries then took their toll before leaving in 2015, going on to have something of a nomadic career ever since, though he has become Portugal's fourth-highest capped international.

Anderson (2007-2015) – MISS

Oh, what might've been. There's little doubt Anderson was immensely talented, but throughout his time with United there were concerns about his fitness and professionalism. He probably wasn't helped by being turned into something resembling a holding midfielder, given he thrived in a more attacking role previously, but he generally failed to live up to expectations. That's not to say he was hopeless – he amassed almost 200 appearances for the club, but given the promise he showed in his youth, he failed to reach his potential. Aged 31, he retired in September following a spell with Adana Demirspor in Turkey's second tier.

Victor Lindelof (2017-present) – HIT

After an unconvincing debut season following a move from Benfica potentially worth £38m, Lindelof has generally settled well at United and become a first-choice centre-back. Comfortable on the ball and a good reader of the game, the Sweden international is mostly dependable. Nevertheless, he's certainly not the perfect defender – he's not especially quick and does appear to struggle with physical forwards. So far, he can just about be regarded a 'hit', but United will surely be hoping for an improvement from him.

Marcos Rojo (2014-present) – MISS

Rojo always looked a somewhat puzzling addition, and those initial feelings have never really gone away. Technically able and versatile enough to play either centre-back or on the left, Rojo also relishes a physical tussle. But as something of a hot-head, Rojo has a tendency to be rash. Even Sporting fans were baffled when he joined United, who are said to have tried to sell him in almost every pre-season since buying the Argentina international. He now looks set to return to Estudiantes on loan.

Diogo Dalot (2018-present) – JURY'S OUT

Lauded as the best young full-back in the world by Jose Mourinho when he signed Dalot from his former club Porto in 2018, the Portugal Under-21 international is yet to prove that claim. He showed promise last season, with his ability on the ball and crossing earning acclaim, but he failed to hold down a spot at right-back despite United's concerning lack of quality in that position – Dalot's defensive capabilities proving unconvincing. The club then went out and splurged on Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Dalot, who has suffered numerous injuries, is undoubtedly talented, but a future as a regular at United might rely on him being converted into a winger.

Have Tottenham finally found an alternative to Harry Kane?

According to reports, Spurs are in talks to sign Real Sociedad's Willian Jose with just over a week to go until the transfer window closes.

But it could take in excess of £50million to finally end their search for a second out-and-out striker.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS TO DIG DEEP FOR SOCIEDAD STRIKER

Krzysztof Piatek, Islam Slimani and Fernando Llorente have all been linked but Tottenham have now set their sights on 28-year-old Willian Jose, reports the Guardian.

The Brazilian was left out of his side's Copa del Rey clash with Espanyol on Wednesday and could now be headed for north London.

Talks are underway, the Guardian states, although Spurs could be forced to contemplate meeting Willian Jose's €70million (£59m) release clause as Sociedad seek adequate compensation.

The one-time Real Madrid man has scored eight LaLiga goals this term after reaching double figures in each of the previous three seasons.

 

ROUND-UP

- Dani Ceballos has asked Real Madrid to terminate his Arsenal loan and find him a move elsewhere, according to Spanish radio station Cadena SER.

- The Gunners are set to suffer another blow as Ligue 1 outfit Lyon prepare to confirm the €25million signing of rumoured Atletico Madrid target Bruno Guimaraes, reports L'Equipe.

- Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich will allow Philippe Coutinho to return to Barcelona at the end of his loan spell if, as desired, the Bundesliga giants land Leroy Sane and Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz, reports Bild.

- After sealing a deal for Reinier Jesus, Madrid could return to raid Flamengo for 19-year-old forward Lincoln, says Mundo Deportivo.

- Leicester City plan to bolster their Champions League ambitions by splashing £15million on Southampton centre-back Jannik Vestergaard, according to The Sun.

- Serie A side Milan have submitted an 18-month loan offer for Manchester City-linked Florentino Luis, claims CalcioMercato. The 20-year-old defensive midfielder plays for Benfica.

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