Erling Haaland is the name on everyone's lips as Europe's elite queue up to get their hands on Borussia Dortmund's prized asset. 

From Real Madrid, Manchester City, Barcelona and Manchester United, to Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich - there is no shortage of interest in the Norwegian sensation.

"I don't think there's a sports director or trainer in the world who would say 'not interested'," Haaland's agent Mino Raiola told BBC Sport in February. "It's like saying: 'Is there a Formula 1 team who would not be interested in having Lewis Hamilton?'"

The issue is, only a handful of clubs – in a coronavirus-impacted transfer market – could realistically afford to prise the €180m-rated Haaland from Dortmund, where the 20-year-old is contracted until 2024 and his reported €75m release clause does not come into effect until 2022.

Step forward, Dusan Vlahovic.

A revelation for relegation-threatened Fiorentina in 2020-21, the powerful but nimble left-footed Serbia international has emerged as a cheaper alternative in a Haaland-dominated market. Vlahovic's 16 league goals this season have reportedly caught the eye of a host of top European clubs, ready to upgrade their forward line in the next window.

Present, not the future

Vlahovic has been destined for the top, the player says so himself.

"I am a Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Belgrade, I will play for the strongest clubs," is what former Fiorentina forward Valeri Bojinov recalled being told by Vlahovic in an interview with Transfermarkt earlier this year.

There have always been high expectations for Vlahovic – the youngest debutant in Partizan Belgrade's history after making his debut aged 16, while he became the youngest goalscorer in the club's 75-year history that season – but he is more than just the future, he is the here and now.

In a struggling Fiorentina side fighting to preserve their top-flight status, Vlahovic has been a shining light. The 21-year-old's tally of 16 goals in 31 appearances this season only behind Haaland (23 in 25) for most goals by players aged under 22 in the top five European leagues in 2020-21.

 

Vlahovic is the first Fiorentina player to score 16 goals in a single top-flight campaign since Giuseppe Rossi in 2013-14, the first player born after the year 2000 to reach 20 Serie A goals and one of just four players born post-2000 to net 20 career goals in Europe's top-five leagues. He also became the first Fiorentina player to score a first-half Serie A hat-trick since Kurt Hamrin in 1964 after his treble against Benevento in March.

Vlahovic has 22 goals in 71 Italian top-flight appearances, one more goal than Juventus' Paulo Dybala (21) from one game less (72) before the age of 22, though Alexandre Pato bagged 50 goals in 102 Serie A games and Bojinov tallied 22 goals in 86 league matches in Italy before celebrating his 22nd birthday – it did not exactly go according to plan for the latter pair.

The average non-penalty shot conversion rate in Serie A this season is 11.1 per cent and Vlahovic has performed comfortably above this average, by converting 17.6 per cent of his shots – in line with the quality of chances he has been given, with his expected goals (xG) per non-penalty shot at 0.173. 

Being able to sustain this over a longer period will reveal more about the qualities he possesses as a forward, but the Belgrade-born sensation is on the right track.

 

Smarter and wiser

There were signs of promise in 2019-20, but Vlahovic's form was patchy with six goals in total.

Expected to hit the ground running this term, Vlahovic had a dismal return of just one goal from his first 10 appearances of the season. Despite growing pressure, he kept the faith thanks to some advice from star team-mate Franck Ribery.

"When I was down, he spoke to me and told me to never give up," Vlahovic said. "That’s how I understood what it means to be a champion on the pitch and in life."

Starting to realise his enormous potential, Vlahovic made his senior international debut in October last year and scored his second goal for Serbia in March's World Cup qualifier against Ireland – his improvement is clear to see.

In 2020-21, the average quality of his shots is 0.17 xG, not far off being double what it was in 2019-20 (0.10). Now finding more intelligent shooting positions his shot conversion rate has unsurprisingly jumped from 7.8 per cent to 17.6 per cent across the two seasons. 

Being able to produce shots from wiser positions on the pitch is a sought-after skill and the 21-year-old has excelled in 2020-21. Of the 13 players to have scored at least 10 non-penalty goals in Serie A this season, only Simy (0.21 xG) and Romelu Lukaku (0.20 xG) have averaged better quality shots from open play than Vlahovic.

More than meets the eye

Standing six feet and three inches, Vlahovic is a towering presence on the field. Powerful and quick but technically astute and comfortable with the ball at his feet – trademark Balkan traits.

Vlahovic has been involved in the second-most aerial duels in Serie A this season – 206, behind only Sampdoria midfielder Morten Thorsby. For his stature, it is surprising to discover he has only won 42 per cent of those duels, among the lowest of players to be involved in at least 100 aerials this season in Italy's top-flight.

You would also expect a healthy portion of Vlahovic's goals to come in the air, but this is not the case. Only one of his 16 goals have come from a header, this despite attempting the second most headed efforts in Serie A (17) and just three of these have been on target (18 per cent).

There is more to him than meets the eye, just look at his stunning stoppage-time equaliser against Inter last season – starting with his back to goal in his own half, he left Milan Skriniar and Stefan de Vrij scrambling before producing a clinical shot across Samir Handanovic. Vlahovic's control, awareness, speed and finishing on display for all to see in Florence.

Or there is the Turin example seen in December, Vlahovic splitting Matthijs de Ligt and Leonardo Bonucci and leaving the Juventus pair in his wake as he expertly scooped the ball over the onrushing Wojciech Szczesny.

Fiorentina's Vlahovic is only involved in 25 per cent of shot-ending sequences for the Viola, with just one in four of their open-play shots involving him either as someone in the passing build-up for the shot, the assister of the shot or the player to take the shot. When Vlahovic is involved, he is usually the end of the chain.

Compare this to Haaland, the Norway international is far more involved in the build-up or as the provider than Vlahovic and it is the same story with the Serie A's top two goalscorers, Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Inter's Romelu Lukaku.

Haaland is much more of a box player than Vlahovic – 24.5 per cent of the former's touches are in the penalty area, with 12.1 per cent shots. If you compare that to his Fiorentina counterpart, whose 15.2 per cent of touches are in the box and just 7.6 per cent are shots.

 

"I watch him and I try to understand his finishing and how he moves," Vlahovic, whose has scored a lot of his goals from central areas, told La Repubblica of Haaland. "Then, I focus on my strong points and my weaknesses. It may be presumptuous, but with commitment, I can get there too."

While not yet as clinical, Vlahovic is confident he can reach the same level as Haaland and there are not too many reasons to doubt him.

Between 2003 and 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo won three Premier League titles and the Champions League among other honours at Manchester United.

Ronaldo has since gone on to play for Real Madrid and Juventus, but he could be set for an Old Trafford reunion.

Watch this space…

 

TOP STORY – UNITED MAKE RONALDO CONTACT

Manchester United have made contact with Cristiano Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes over a return to Old Trafford, according to the front page of Friday's Gazzetta dello Sport.

Juventus superstar Ronaldo has been tipped to leave Turin, where he arrived in 2018, amid links with former clubs United and Real Madrid, as well as Paris Saint-Germain.

Ronaldo, who starred for United between 2003 and 2009, would have to take a wage cut in order to make a Manchester reunion a reality.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS claims Madrid are willing to sell Raphael Varane in order to raise transfer funds amid strong links with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and PSG star Kylian Mbappe. Varane has been linked with United and Chelsea.

- Staying at the Santiago Bernabeu, and AS says the future of captain Sergio Ramos looks less likely to be at Madrid. The likes of United and PSG have emerged as possible destinations for the superstar Spain skipper.

Barcelona are prioritising the signing of Lyon captain Memphis Depay, reports RMC Sport. Juventus have also been linked.

Rodrigo De Paul is wanted by Leeds United, Juve, Inter and Napoli, according to Calciomercato. Juve have been eyeing the Udinese star, but the Italian giants are also weighing up moves for United's Paul Pogba and Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli.

Germany's Bundesliga teams will be forced to enter 'quarantine training camps' next month in a move designed to ensure the season ends before Euro 2020.

The drastic step was announced by the German football league (DFL) on Thursday and will begin on May 3 with an initial soft quarantine as players, coaches and team officials are ordered to only leave their homes to visit club training facilities or to take part in a matchday.

A harder quarantine will follow from May 12 as the same groups are ordered to stay in locked-down team camps away from their families when not involved in games, with that period ending after the final matches of the season take place on the weekend of May 22-23. It means teams must provide accommodation and living quarters for players and core team staff over that period.

The new rules will apply to all 18 clubs in the Bundesliga and also those that make up the 2. Bundesliga, with the DFL declaring it had told clubs in March that this step was under consideration.

Hertha Berlin players were ordered to isolate last week in a move that has seen three of their Bundesliga games postponed, while the second division of the league has also been hit by call-offs due to COVID-19 cases, complicating the task of finishing the season on time.

Any further cases in the closing weeks of the campaign could cause fixture backlogs that may prove insurmountable before the Euros. Relegation play-offs follow the Bundesliga regular season, and Euro 2020 begins on June 11.

The DFL said in a statement: "Two steps are planned: firstly, the group of persons included in the regular PCR testing programme, comprising the professional team, coaching team and team officials, must stay solely in their home environment or on the training premises/in the stadium ['quasi quarantine'] from Monday, 3 May.

"This is intended to reduce contact and further minimise the infection risk and was successfully implemented in the final phase of last season after the resumption of match operations.

"In the next step, from Wednesday, 12 May, the corresponding group of persons at all 36 clubs will enter a 'quarantine training camp', having undergone a PCR test with a negative result no more than 24 hours beforehand. The 'quarantine training camp' is compulsory until the end of the final match of the respective club on matchday 34 [22/23 May]. Consequently, the last two matchdays of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 according to the fixture list fall within this specific period.

"The purpose of the 'quarantine training camps' is to provide extra safeguards for the staging of matches, particularly in view of the time pressure caused by UEFA EURO, which follows the regular season.

"It is the clubs' responsibility to ensure that players, coaches and training staff come into contact with no one but each other during the stated period."

Bayern Munich, who said they welcomed the quarantine plan, look set to wrap up the Bundesliga title before their players are forced to collectively isolate. Victory over Mainz on Saturday would guarantee a ninth successive championship for the Bavarians.

Erling Haaland will remain at Borussia Dortmund regardless of where they finish in the Bundesliga this season, according to sporting director Michael Zorc.

Dortmund are in danger of missing out on Champions League qualification from the Bundesliga and it has been suggested that could result in Haaland moving on.

The 20-year-old has scored 51 goals and supplied 11 assists in 55 appearances in all competitions since arriving at Dortmund from Salzburg in January 2020.

Those goalscoring exploits have seen him linked with a host of major European clubs, including Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain to name but a few.

He was unable to find the back of the net in Wednesday's 2-0 victory over Union Berlin, with Marco Reus opening the scoring on the rebound after the Norway international had a first-half penalty saved.

Dortmund remain four points adrift of fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt with four Bundesliga games remaining, but Zorc is confident of holding onto Haaland even if they miss out on a place in next season's Champions League.

"We have made our position clear on the Haaland case," Zorc told Sky Sport.

"The decision will not be made without Borussia Dortmund. No matter where we end up, Erling will continue to play for us."

Raphael Guerreiro wrapped up the win for Dortmund late on against Union, but a booking for Mats Hummels ruled him out of the crunch weekend meeting with third-placed Wolfsburg.

France, Spain or Germany?

Eduardo Camavinga has admirers following his exploits for Rennes in Ligue 1.

Some of Europe's biggest clubs are interested, but could he be set for Bavaria?

 

TOP STORY – CAMAVINGA WANTED IN GERMANY

Bayern Munich are hoping to sign Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, according to France Football.

Camavinga is unwilling to extend his Rennes contract and the 18-year-old has been linked with Real Madrid, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal.

Borussia Monchengladbach's Florian Neuhaus is also on Bayern's list, though the Bundesliga champions reportedly feel Camavinga could be better value for money.

 

ROUND-UP

- Who will permanently replace Jose Mourinho as Tottenham head coach following his sacking on Monday? Football Italia claims Spurs have contacted former Juventus, Chelsea and Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri. The Daily Mail, however, reports RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann is Tottenham's top candidate.

- La Razon says West Ham are leading the race to sign Sevilla forward Youssef En-Nesyri, who has also been linked with United and Liverpool.

PSG are the most likely suitors for Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin, according to Sport. Bellerin is likely to leave the Gunners and he has been linked to Barcelona.

- Sport says Barca's plans depend on Lionel Messi's future. Messi is out of contract at the end of the season, but president Joan Laporta is keen to re-sign the superstar amid reported interest from PSG and Manchester City. It comes as Barca target Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, who has also been linked with rivals Real Madrid, United, City, Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG and Juventus. Lyon captain Memphis Depay, City's Sergio Aguero and Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum are also reportedly wanted at Camp Nou.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez said he will do everything possible so the LaLiga giants do not lose their "rightful place" as one of the world's leading clubs amid strong links with Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

Madrid have long been linked with PSG's Mbappe, while in-demand Dortmund forward Haaland has emerged as a transfer target in the Spanish capital.

While discussing the new European Super League, which he is chairman of, Perez addressed the speculation regarding Mbappe and Haaland.

"The fans always ask me to buy Mbappe," Perez told El Chiringuito. "My answer? I say: don't worry... the truth is that he is a good player, yes.

"I've never talked to Mbappe. At least now... I don't know what's going to happen to his contract with PSG."

On Haaland, who has also been linked with Barcelona, Manchester City, Manchester United, PSG, Chelsea, Liverpool and Juventus, Perez added: "Haaland's father has visited our training ground Valdebebas, yes.

"Everyone has always had the same reaction: never seen anything like this.

"Haaland and Mbappe are two excellent players but what [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo have done is incredible."

Perez, though, ruled out a reunion with the club's all-time leading goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo in Madrid.

Ronaldo – who left Madrid for Juventus in 2018 – has been tipped to depart Turin and a Los Blancos comeback has emerged as a possible option for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

But Perez said: "Cristiano Ronaldo will not come back at Real Madrid.

"It does not makes sense, he has a contract with Juventus. I love him a lot, he has given us a lot."

Perez was also asked about the future of Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

The 35-year-old Ramos is yet to re-sign at the Santiago Bernabeu amid reported interest from the likes of United, PSG and Chelsea.

"I love Sergio Ramos, but we are in a very bad financial situation at Real Madrid," added Perez, who insisted Vinicius Junior is not for sale. "Nobody puts money into this club.

"Will he leave the club? I didn't say that... many things can happen. We will think about it at the end of the season."

For a long time, Neymar had been tipped to re-join Barcelona after leaving Camp Nou in a world-record transfer in 2017.

But Neymar's future is close to being finalised.

Paris Saint-Germain are set to retain the Brazil international.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR AND PSG POISED FOR RENEWAL

Neymar is close to signing a new contract with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, according to Canal+.

PSG star Neymar has been in contract negotiations and publicly pledged his long-term future to the club following their progress to the Champions League semi-finals.

Previously linked with a return to Barcelona, Neymar could sign his renewal before the Champions League tie against Manchester City.

 

ROUND-UP

- Erling Haaland's future remains up in the air, reports Diario AS. The in-demand Borussia Dortmund sensation has been linked with Barca, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, PSG, Juventus, Chelsea and Bayern Munich. Speculation over his next move intensified as he followed Barca captain Lionel Messi on Instagram amid the Camp Nou club's interest.

- Diario Sport claims Ousmane Dembele's contract talks with Barcelona have stalled. Dembele, who is contracted until 2021-22, has been linked with United and Liverpool.

United and Liverpool are both eyeing Sevilla star Youssef En-Nesyri, says Estadio Deportivo. Sevilla are reportedly demanding in the region of £40million (€46m) for the forward.

- Russian powerhouse Zenit are interested in signing Barca defender Samuel Umtiti, reports Fabrizio Romano. Liverpool, United and Chelsea have been linked previously.

Gianluigi Donnarumma and Milan remain at an impasse regarding contract talks, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. The star Milan and Italy goalkeeper is out of contract at the end of the season and the likes of PSG, Chelsea, Juve and United have emerged as possible destinations.

Erling Haaland might be too expensive a purchase for some of football's richest clubs. 

The Borussia Dortmund sensation is on everyone's wish list.

The question is who will be willing to meet his reported demands?

 

TOP STORY - LALIGA GIANTS PRICED OUT OF HAALAND MOVE?

Haaland's apparent desire for a €35million annual salary has the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid thinking twice about a potential move, Goal reported. 

The prolific 20-year-old's agent, Mino Raiola, has held informal discussions with both LaLiga stalwarts but the sides did not get into specifics about finances. 

For now it appears Barca and Madrid are content to wait it out and see how Haaland's market unfolds. 

That is not the case for another potential suitor. According to Goal, an unnamed English club that made inquiries about the Leeds-born striker earlier this year has backed away from talks due to that salary figure. 

The mystery team is not Chelsea, who consider Haaland their top target according to an Evening Standard report. 

 

ROUND-UP

- While the Blues can hope to land the high-flying Norwegian, Timo Werner may be on the way out. Though the Evening Standard reports Chelsea have not yet seriously discussed selling him, it is not clear how he fits into the Blues' strike force at the moment.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is out of contract with AC Milan this summer and has had talks with Juventus, per La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Manchester United have coveted Nikola Milenkovic and may be ready to make a move for the Fiorentina defender, though The Sun says United would not be interested at the rumoured £38m fee. 

- United also want Edinson Cavani to have another season at Old Trafford, but at age 34 he might want to move closer to home. Boca Juniors would offer him a two-year deal, says Fabrizio Romano. 

- Watford are prepared to bring Ashley Young back to the club should they return to the Premier League next season, the Daily Mail says. Young's contract with Inter is expiring.

- After a loan spell with Paris Saint-GermainAlessandro Florenzi could be in line to play in Italy with Inter next season rather than returning to Roma, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported. 

- Luis Suarez appears likely to remain with Atletico Madrid, but there is a possibility he could rekindle last year's reported talks with David Beckham's Inter Miami. The American side's interest in the Uruguayan "has not stopped," according to Mundo Deportivo. 

- One player not headed anywhere is Karim Benzema, who Marca reports will sign to remain with Real Madrid through 2023.

Phil Foden again showed his aptitude for high-pressure moments after firing Manchester City into the Champions League semi-finals.

In the first leg of their last-eight clash with Borussia Dortmund last week, Foden scored a 90th-minute winner to leave City 2-1 to the good.

Despite falling behind at Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday to an early effort from another England youngster, Jude Bellingham, City levelled through Riyad Mahrez's penalty before Foden fired home from a cleverly worked short corner to repeat the first-leg scoreline and seal a showdown with Paris Saint-Germain.

"You have the feeling that he is a guy who never hides. He always creates something. He is dynamic offensively, defensively with quality in the smaller spaces," Guardiola told a post-match news conference.

"He is learning right now not to take just one touch, he is able to make more touches when making decisions.

"He scored two important goals, the second goal in the Etihad and today helped us to be in the semi-final. In the quarter-final of the Champions League, he was the important player to go through to play against PSG."

Foden became the second player younger than 21 to score in both legs of a Champions League quarter-final after Kylian Mbappe did so for Monaco against Dortmund in 2017.

The meeting with Mbappe and his PSG team-mates is a mouthwatering prospect, with City into the semi-finals for the first time under Guardiola.

Quarter-final defeats to Liverpool, Tottenham and Lyon have cast a considerable shadow over an otherwise excellent tenure in Manchester, although Guardiola hesitated to agree when it was suggested his players came of age by beating Dortmund

"In this competition during one game there are many moments," he said, having tasted success with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011.

"[Dortmund] started well, we had a plan to press but it didn't work, we changed it after 10-15 minutes and played with wingers more inside, usually they are wider and that is why we add more connections with the midfield players - Phil, Riyad, Bernardo [Silva], Kevin [De Bruyne], Gundo [Ilkay Gundogan], Rodri.

"After the goal, in the last 30 minutes of the first half we had an incredible two or three chances chances to score a goal. In the second half we found a goal and played good. We didn't concede one shot, we created enough chances to win and finally we are in the semi-finals for the second time in the club's history."

Guardiola added: "At half-time we spoke and said, 'Guys, we have to score a goal. Even if they score to make it 2-0, one goal gives extra time. We have to score.'

"After we made it 1-1, we controlled the game. After that, the quality from Phil's finish helped us to go to the semi-final."

Erling Haaland is "almost unstoppable" according to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, despite his side ensuring the Borussia Dortmund star endured 180 goalless minutes in their Champions League quarter-final.

City secured their passage to the semi-finals of Europe's top competition for the first time in Guardiola's five-year reign, as Riyad Mahrez's penalty and Phil Foden's 75th-minute strike saw the Premier League leaders overturn Jude Bellingham's early opener to prevail 2-1 and 4-2 on aggregate.

Much of the pre-match talk ahead of the initial encounter in Manchester centred upon Haaland, who has been heavily linked to City and a host of other European heavyweights after scoring 33 goals in all competitions this season.

The 20-year-old had a one-on-one saved by Ederson and laid on Marco Reus' equaliser at the Etihad Stadium but he endured a frustrating outing in the Signal Iduna Park return.

Haaland was restricted to a solitary blocked shot and made one key pass to create an opening for a team-mate as Ruben Dias excelled in the City defence.

Nevertheless, Guardiola felt cutting off the supply line to the forward was key.

"I would say this player is almost unstoppable and the best way to defend against these talented players is to not let them have the ball," he told a post-match news conference.

"They want the ball, they need the ball, so don't [let them] have it. For that, we need to play good and try to let him live away from our box. It happened in both games. 

He is a player not [just] because he is fast, the quality of his first control, how he links with his mates, strong in the air and good finishing.

"He's a top-class player, top class, and will be stronger in the future."

Whether that future happens to be under Guardiola is a prospect that will continue to intrigue.

For now, Dortmund interim head coach Edin Terzic must pick up a youngster without a goal in seven matches for club and country.

"He is playing really well and if you saw the goal we scored he was a big part of it," he told reporters before, like Guardiola, highlighting Haaland's all-round qualities.

"It doesn't matter who scores. We are used to thinking he is the last man in the chain and has the last touch for the goal, but for the recent games he was very important for us in shielding the ball, running in behind, being a threat.

"If he works hard like he is doing all day long in training it won't take long until he's on the scoresheet again."

Dortmund host Werder Bremen in Bundesliga action at the weekend having won just twice in their past eight games in all competitions.

Jude Bellingham had a tongue-in-cheek comment for his doubters after another dazzling Champions League display earned the Borussia Dortmund midfielder plaudits from Pep Guardiola and Edin Terzic.

Bellingham was part of the BVB team beaten 2-1 by Manchester City on Wednesday to exit the quarter-finals 4-2 on aggregate.

But the England international was the game's outstanding player for 45 minutes in which he scored his first Champions League goal.

Denied a breakthrough strike in contentious circumstances in the first leg, Bellingham coolly picked out the top-right corner after 15 minutes at Signal Iduna Park.

The 17-year-old became the second-youngest scorer in a Champions League knockout tie, older only than Bojan for Barcelona in 2008.

It ultimately counted for little, with Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden scoring to send City through, but Bellingham certainly felt he had proved a point less than a year on from his big move from Championship side Birmingham City.

"Not bad for a Championship player," he told beIN Sports. "I think I've taken every game in my stride.

"I had a tough start away at Lazio and then, since then, I think all of my best performances in BVB colours have come in the Champions League - including tonight.

"For me, it's brilliant to play in this competition and play for this club. It's a huge honour. I can take a little bit away from it and learn from that, but I'm still gutted."

Bellingham was making his 10th Champions League appearance; only Youri Tielemans, in 2014, had previously reached that mark before the age of 18.

And opposition manager Guardiola was taken aback by the maturity of the teenager's performance.

"I cannot believe it," Guardiola said. "Maybe he's a liar. He's so good for 17 years old.

"I saw him when he didn't get the ball from his central defender and he was shouting at them, demanding the ball to be played into him. At 17, this means a lot."

As well as scoring from his only shot, just four days on from his first Bundesliga goal, Bellingham contested a team-high 11 duels, winning two fouls and conceding two.

An all-action performance also included two tackles, two clearances and two blocks - one of which sensationally denied Mahrez in the first half.

"The only thing we don't know about Jude is his limit," Dortmund coach Terzic said. "He has so much potential and talent.

"He is a great boy who wants to improve. We need to find out what is his limit and try to push him towards this limit.

"Tonight the whole world saw what he is capable of. We see it every day on the training ground. We are very happy he can perform like this. We need him to perform like this.

"This performance can help the team achieve all the targets. It doesn't mean he has to stop now.

"We have to keep going and stay focused like this and then we are going to find his limits."

Pep Guardiola was delighted to belatedly take Manchester City into the Champions League semi-finals but acknowledged his side were potentially a refereeing decision away from another painful exit.

City had lost in the last eight in each of the prior three seasons, beaten by Liverpool, Tottenham and Lyon.

The Spurs defeat was particularly painful, with Fernando Llorente scoring a contentious goal at the Etihad Stadium before a last-gasp Raheem Sterling winner was disallowed.

On Wednesday, at Borussia Dortmund, a handball call went in City's favour as Emre Can was penalised and Riyad Mahrez's spot-kick - his first Champions League goal since September 2019 - cancelled out Jude Bellingham's opener.

"This competition is nice but, at the same time, it's so unfair," Guardiola told BT Sport after a 2-1 away win.

"We are judged; if we are out, the season is a failure, it's a disaster, when you play 11 months for the Premier League, for the cups, for everything. This is the competition.

"Look, today it was a penalty with the hand. Maybe it could be not given.

"And we were out for a hand against Tottenham in the quarter-finals, when it was not given, incredible hands from Llorente. That's why this competition depends on these situations."

Mahrez's equaliser set the stage for Phil Foden to make sure of his side's progress, sending City into the last four for the first time since 2015-16 - also the last time Guardiola, then Bayern Munich coach, reached this stage.

Despite this drought, the 4-2 aggregate triumph - which sets up a tie against Paris Saint-Germain - saw Guardiola equal Jose Mourinho's record of eight appearances in the Champions League semis.

He added: "I'm incredibly happy for this club, this organisation, our chairman, our players, of course, our fans, everyone.

"It's the second time we've got to the semi-final. There's not much history in our club here, but we start to build it."

There are two English sides in the last four for the second time in three years, with Chelsea joining City.

The sides will also meet in the FA Cup semi-finals this weekend, with Guardiola's men continuing their pursuit of an unprecedented quadruple - a challenge he is still reluctant to discuss.

"We are in the Premier League; we need three games to be champions," he said. "We are in the semi-finals of the Champions League. We are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup. We are in the final of the Carabao Cup.

"Honestly, it's incredible what we have done. Now we just recover, celebrate tonight, and after we'll see happens.

"One game at a time. We never speak about the four titles. One game at a time. Every competition we play, we try to win it. This is what we have to do. It's simple. There's no complication about that."

Ilkay Gundogan, who had a game-high 120 touches and only lost possession 11 times, said: "It means a lot, to be honest. I think this club, this team deserves it.

"We are grateful for being still in a great competition, reaching the semi-finals for the first time with this team. Obviously we are very happy about it."

The midfielder added: "We proved ourselves I think today that we are ready to fight also in the semi-finals."

Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc insisted the Bundesliga club have no plans to sell star Erling Haaland, despite their Champions League hopes fading.

Haaland has emerged as one of Europe's most sought-after players following his exploits for Dortmund, with Real Madrid, Manchester City, Barcelona, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea all apparently interested.

The 20-year-old reportedly has a €75million (£65m) release clause – valid from 2022 – but there is a view that Dortmund could be forced to cash in on their prized asset due to the team's Bundesliga struggles.

Dortmund are fifth in the standings and seven points adrift of Eintracht Frankfurt, who occupy the final Champions League qualification place with six matches remaining.

But Zorc – speaking prior to Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final exit at the hands of Manchester City – remains adamant Dortmund will not part with their Norway sensation.

"The fact is, nothing works without our signature," Zorc told Sky Germany.

"We plan with him, regardless of whether we qualify for the Champions League or not. We had a conversation with him and Erling's father.

"We have given a clear message that we will continue planning with him. It may be that [agent] Mino [Raiola] sees it differently."

Haaland was kept scoreless by semi-final bound City midweek, though he has still managed 33 goals and nine assists in 35 appearances across all competitions this season.

Among players in Europe's top-five leagues, only Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski, Tottenham's Harry Kane and Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe have been directly involved in more goals.

Dortmund team-mate Jadon Sancho has also been linked with an exit after Premier League giants United were tipped to sign the England international at the start of the season.

However, Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke made it clear there will be no cut-price sales amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"When COVID-19 struck, we had no debt. Not one euro," Watzke told BBC Sport. "Because of that, it is a comfortable situation. We do not have to sell a player. That is important.

"The rich clubs in the world, they must know when they want a player from Borussia Dortmund there are two possibilities. The first is that I tell them they have no chance. Other times, I will tell them 'this is the price'.

"Then they must know this is the price. It is not another price. We are very clear. We are very honest."

Liverpool, April 2018:

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hasn't scored for three months since he smashed home a long-range strike against Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola's Premier League champions elect are back at a bloodthirsty Anfield and Mohamed Salah already has the Reds in front, so why not have a go?

Oxlade-Chamberlain larrups it beyond Ederson and before the half hour Sadio Mane has made it 3-0.

There would be no way back for City, who would finish the Premier League season 25 points better off than Liverpool, as they threw caution to the wind in the second leg but lost 2-1.

Guardiola talked himself into a half-time red card when Leroy Sane had a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside before UEFA were using VAR. The competition the Catalan threatened to make his own at the start of the decade had already become a nagging irritation.

 

London, April 2019:

After losing three consecutive semi-finals at Bayern Munich, not to mention two out of four on the occasions his Barcelona didn't win it under his leadership, Guardiola is wary of a pressure-cooker Champions League night.

Embroiled in a titanic title battle with Liverpool, he rests Sane and Kevin De Bruyne and picks an unusually cautious line-up. Nevertheless, VAR intervenes to award them a dubious penalty against Tottenham, granting Sergio Aguero a punt at a priceless away goal.

Hugo Lloris saves from City's all-time record goals scorer and there will be no away goal as Son Heung-min gives Spurs a 1-0 win thanks to an Ederson mistake

At the Etihad, all hell breaks loose as the sides trade goals and Aguero puts City 4-2 ahead on the night to lead the tie for the first time. Then Fernando Llorente bundles home and survives a VAR examination for handball. Raheem Sterling has a stoppage-time winner ruled out because replays show Aguero's heel to be offside in the build-up.

Guardiola crumples to his knees. City are out on away goals to a team that would finish 27 points behind them in the Premier League.

 

Lisbon, August 2020:

No away goals to bother City this time, as the pandemic-delayed final stages of the Champions League take place as one-off matches in Lisbon.

After seeing off 13-time European champions Real Madrid, Guardiola has to reckon with Lyon – a team who finished seventh in Ligue 1 in 2019-20.

However, one point from two games against the same opponent in the previous season's group stage spooks the City boss into a rarely used 5-3-2.

They fall behind to a Maxwel Cornet goal, their attack disjointed. De Bruyne, who appears to be fighting a lone hand, equalises but Gabriel Jesus and Sterling miss glorious chances and Ederson is culpable as Moussa Dembele's brace ensures City's biggest European humiliation to date.

Phil Foden, so impressive in the second leg against Madrid, looks on as an unused substitute.

 

Dortmund, April 2021

The last time Guardiola won the Champions League, his present tormentor was seven years old.

Jude Bellingham's slick footwork and cool 15th-minute finish at Signal Iduna Park is the sort of thing City players do quite a lot but not on these occasions.

Here was the fear, it was happening again. Everyone just stay calm… no, Kyle Walker, don't shoot from all the way over there in Gelsenkirchen.

De Bruyne is in no mood for stage fright to kick in and tears at Dortmund, rattling the crossbar. Ruben Dias, unscarred by City's previous failures, is colossal in neutering Erling Haaland. Still, at half-time they are going out.

The big occasions do strange things to even the most seasoned performers, but Emre Can deciding to break out an elephant impression while heading a cross clear is a new one.

Handball. Penalty. VAR. Still a penalty.

Oh God, a penalty. City don't tend to be great at these, as Aguero showed at Tottenham.

Up steps Riyad Mahrez. Remember the Anfield loss? Well, the next time Guardiola's men visited the red side of Stanley Park, the Algeria winger put one into orbit from 12 yards.

Not this time. Having fought long and hard to become one of his manager's go-to attackers, Mahrez emphatically clatters home.

Nerves are dissipating but have never been a problem for Foden. They never are, as he showed with the winner after Dortmund equalised in Manchester last week. He and Bellingham might have a very exciting future together in their national team.

The boyhood City fan draws back his left boot to send home the decisive blow and makes a beeline for Guardiola in the dugout, grabbing his boss' head. It feels like an exorcism.

After sharing a post-match chat with the man of the moment, Haaland now towers in Foden's rear-view mirror. PSG and Kylian Mbappe are up next. Foden arguably belongs in their conversation, as an individual good enough to dominate for a decade.

Of course, such dominance is easier forecast than achieved. Guardiola's quarter-final problem is no more. Now, how is his Champions League semi-finals record?

Pep Guardiola reached the Champions League semi-finals for the first time as Manchester City manager after a second 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund.

City had exited Europe's premier club competition at the quarter-final stage in each of the prior three seasons and faced the same fate again on Wednesday when Jude Bellingham opened the scoring after 15 minutes at Signal Iduna Park.

That effort would have been enough to take Dortmund through on away goals after a 2-1 defeat in the first leg in Manchester, but Emre Can's second-half handball allowed Riyad Mahrez to level from the penalty spot.

Although BVB attempted to chase the game again, Phil Foden - the match winner eight days earlier - struck once more to maintain City's quadruple bid and tee up an intriguing last-four encounter with Paris Saint-Germain.

This was good preparation for that stern test, at least for 45 minutes, with Bellingham superb again and belatedly able to net his first Champions League goal, having had an effort ruled out in the first encounter. 

Mahmoud Dahoud's shot ricocheted to the feet of the England midfielder, who calmly controlled just inside the area and placed a fine finish high to Ederson's left, the goalkeeper's palm only helping the ball find the top corner.

Manuel Akanji headed too close to Ederson three minutes later, before City rallied and Kevin De Bruyne crashed a right-footed effort against the crossbar.

But Bellingham remained at the centre of the action and produced a stunning, stretching block when Mahrez appeared certain to score.

There was no stopping Mahrez 10 minutes into the second half. Can was penalised when the ball bounced off his head onto an outstretched arm, allowing the City winger to smash in the subsequent spot-kick following a lengthy VAR review.

As Dortmund attacked and Mats Hummels nodded over, De Bruyne sought to pick them off on the counter.

Although the City captain's dazzling run ended with a save from Marwin Hitz, the following corner went short to Foden, whose blast squeezed past the goalkeeper and in via the post to put the tie to bed.

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