Liverpool are reportedly interested in Sergio Ramos, while Real Madrid have a successor for Zinedine Zidane lined up.

Premier League champions Liverpool are linked with centre-backs due to long-term injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.

And Ramos is apparently a target.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL INTERESTED IN RAMOS

Liverpool are interested in Real Madrid defender Ramos, according to El Chiringuito.

The 34-year-old's future at Madrid is uncertain with his contract expiring at the end of the season.

Also at Liverpool, Fabrizio Romano reports they are yet to open talks to sign Lille defender Sven Botman.

 

ROUND-UP

- Zidane was under pressure at Real Madrid earlier in the season, and the LaLiga giants have his replacement in mind. AS reports Raul – who is in charge of Real Madrid Castilla – is seen as the natural heir to the Frenchman.

Christian Eriksen is expected to leave Inter, but just where to remains to be seen. CalcioMercato reports the Serie A giants are yet to receive an offer for the midfielder, who has been linked to Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal.

- With Diego Costa having departed, Atletico Madrid are said to be looking for another forward. The Daily Mail reports Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik is at the top of their list, while Espanyol's Raul de Tomas and Real Betis' Loren Moron are of interest.

Manchester City are linked to Barcelona star Lionel Messi, but they may have a younger version to target. talkSPORT reports the Premier League club are plotting a move for 17-year-old Estudiantes winger Dario Sarmiento, who has been dubbed "mini Messi".

- Sergio Romero looks set to leave Manchester United. The Manchester Evening News reports the goalkeeper has bid farewell to his team-mates ahead of an expected move to Boca Juniors.

Lionel Messi thanked the late Alejandro Sabella for helping create some of his greatest memories after the former Argentina coach died on Tuesday.

Sabella, who led Argentina to the 2014 World Cup final that ended in defeat to Germany, passed away in hospital at the age of 66 following a long illness.

Among the former midfielder's top achievements was leading Estudiantes to the 2009 Copa Libertadores title and taking Pep Guardiola's Barcelona to extra time in the Club World Cup final in the same year.

Mauro Boselli put Estudiantes in front before Pedro equalised in the 89th minute and Messi secured a 2-1 winner in the second additional period.

In a tribute posted on Instagram, Messi wrote: "It was a pleasure to share so much with you. Alejandro was a great person, aside from being an impressive professional who shaped my career and I learned a lot from him.

"We experienced some of my best memories in football together during the World Cup qualifying stage and also at the World Cup. My condolences to all his family and friends."

Estudiantes great Juan Sebastian Veron, a Libertadores champion under Sabella in 2009 and now the team's chairman, expressed his emotions at the loss of Sabella, insisting he plans to carry on the former coach's work.

"Words are never enough when what needs to be said overwhelms the soul. We can cry, close our minds, feel the void and turn our backs. Or we can continue to do and convey everything Ale taught us, gave us," Veron wrote.

"Solidarity. Us before the individual. And so many values you always highlighted. We're going to miss you. I'm going to miss you. But it's in us to get on with what you left us."

Real Madrid's dream of signing Kylian Mbappe may have to wait.

Mbappe, 21, has regularly been linked with LaLiga's champions after starring for Paris Saint-Germain.

But the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are seemingly set to hurt Madrid's chances of landing the star.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID CAN'T AFFORD MBAPPE NEXT YEAR

Madrid cannot afford a deal to sign PSG star Mbappe next year, according to Le Parisien.

It comes with finances of clubs around the world hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mbappe, who is contracted until 2022, has scored nine goals in 11 games in all competitions this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Out of contract at the end of the season, David Alaba looks set to leave Bayern Munich. AS reports Chelsea believe they will be in pole position to sign the defender with their offer.

- Linked with a move to Manchester United, Hakan Calhanoglu could yet stay at Milan. CalcioMercato reports Milan remain hopeful of re-signing the midfielder, whose contract expires at season's end, and a decisive meeting between the parties is nearing.

- Barcelona want to sign a centre-back in January and Manchester City defender Eric Garcia remains a target, according to Mundo Deportivo. The report says Barca also have experienced targets if City do not want to sell Garcia.

- Staying at Barcelona and Sport reports the Catalan giants are interested in Hoffenheim defender Melayro Bogarde, whose uncle Winston played for the club from 1998 to 2000.

- Manchester City are reportedly close to landing a teenage attacker. Fabrizio Romano says the Premier League side are in advanced negotiations to sign Dario Sarmiento, 17, from Argentine club Estudiantes after an opening bid of £17million (€19m).

Former Barcelona, Liverpool and Argentina star Javier Mascherano has announced his retirement. 

Mascherano, 36, revealed his decision on Sunday, calling it quits after 17 years as a professional. 

A 147-time Argentina international – the most in the country's history – Mascherano returned to his homeland by signing with Estudiantes de La Plata in January. 

After 11 appearances in all competitions for the Argentine side, including Sunday's 1-0 loss to Argentinos Juniors, Mascherano said it was time to hang up his boots. 

"I want to announce that today I am retiring from football professionally," he said. 

"I want to thank this club that gave me the opportunity to finish my career in Argentina." 

Mascherano added: "I have lived my profession 100 per cent, I gave the maximum I could. 

"Today, I find that for some time it's hard for me and I don't want to disrespect Estudiantes, who trusted me to return to Argentina, or my colleagues, or this profession."

After beginning his career with River Plate, Mascherano played for Corinthians and West Ham before joining Liverpool in 2007. 

A fearless defensive midfielder who turned into a centre-back, Mascherano enjoyed most of his success at Camp Nou, winning five LaLiga titles and the Champions League twice among numerous other trophies after joining Barca in 2010. 

He helped Argentina reach the 2014 World Cup final, which they lost to Germany in extra time, while finishing with four Copa America runner-up medals and two Olympic golds. 

After two years with Hebei China Fortune, Mascherano headed back to Argentina with Estudiantes, where he finished his career.

Lionel Messi is above every other player in the world because he makes the right decision at the right moment practically without fail, according to Javier Mascherano.

Former Argentina captain Mascherano played with Messi for eight years at Barcelona, winning 19 trophies in that time, including five LaLiga titles, two Champions Leagues and two Club World Cups.

He was also an international team-mate of the six-time Ballon d'Or winner until he stepped away from representing his country in 2018.

Now at Estudiantes de La Plata, Mascherano remains in awe of Messi, saying the Barca star can dictate matches to his own tempo in a way few others can hope to do.

He told radio programme Cielosports: "The majority of good players make good decisions, but they don't execute them in the best way, or vice versa – the execution is good, but it doesn't end up being the best decision.

"What makes the difference in football is decision-making and execution, and Leo does both things well, and at an incredible speed, and that's why he's different.

"Normally, the game dominates us and takes you with it, but in Leo's case it's the other way around: he decides what to do or what not to do with the game.

"He knows how to save his strength and that allows him, during a match, to have seven, eight or 10 important actions at 100 per cent. That's how he can dominate the game."

Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo has returned to Argentine club Estudiantes on a short-term loan deal.

Rojo, who was close to joining Everton on the final day of the close-season transfer window, has found opportunities difficult to come by at United this term.

The 29-year-old, signed for £16million from Sporting CP in 2014, has now left Old Trafford, returning to Estudiantes – where he started his career – on loan until the end of the campaign.

Able to play at centre-back or left-back, Rojo has struggled with injuries during his time at United and made 76 Premier League appearances in total.

Estudiantes, who sit 12th in Superliga Argentina, were the first to announce a deal had been struck, posting a video to their official Twitter page along with the caption: "You always return to the places where you were happy. Because of the sense of belonging, it's stronger.

"Your dream and that of the Pincha family has come true. We meet again. Welcome and thanks for coming back, Marcos. We welcome you with our hearts."

United, whose manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had said on Tuesday he did not expect to see Rojo leave prior to Friday's transfer deadline, subsequently confirmed the defender's temporary departure.

Estudiantes welcomed Rojo's former Argentina team-mate Javier Mascherano to the club at the start of the month.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continues to be linked with a move from Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain are the latest European heavyweight reportedly interested in the forward.

Aubameyang, 30, is reportedly a target for Barcelona after scoring 16 goals in 26 games for struggling Arsenal this season.

However, with Edinson Cavani potentially leaving, PSG are also eyeing the Gabon international.

 

TOP STORY – PSG INTERESTED IN AUBAMEYANG AMID BARCELONA LINKS

PSG are considering a move for Aubameyang, according to Foot Mercato.

Cavani may leave the Ligue 1 giants for Atletico Madrid during this transfer window and Aubameyang could be his replacement, the report says.

PSG are reportedly discussing a loan with an option to buy Aubameyang.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Emirates Stadium, Arsenal are close to a deal for Flamengo defender Pablo Mari, according to ESPN and other reports. The Premier League club will reportedly pay £8.4million (€10m) for the Spaniard.

- Marcos Rojo could be on his way out of Manchester United. After just three Premier League appearances this season, the defender is heading back to Estudiantes – where he started his career – on loan, according to the Mirror.

- Carles Perez is set to join Roma. Sky Sport Italia reports the Barcelona forward will join the Serie A club on loan until the end of the season, with a mandatory purchase option for €13m to be part of the deal.

- Inter are already preparing for a period of dominance, including next season. Sport Italia reports Napoli star Lorenzo Insigne has been offered to Inter, who may land the forward ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

- Inter and Napoli seem to have a decent relationship. CalcioMercato reports Matteo Politano will swap Milan for Naples, where he will sign a deal until 2024 with a medical set for Monday.

- Mauricio Pochettino remains without a job after being sacked by Tottenham in November. The Mirror reports Spurs will be entitled to £10m in compensation if the Argentinian finds another job before the end of the season.

Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo is a target for Estudiantes and they are "working" on his signing, according to the Argentine club's sporting director Juan Sebastian Veron.

Rojo joined United from Sporting CP in 2014 but has rarely been considered first choice, with injuries a regular problem for him, while he has also seemingly failed to convince incumbent manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

This season the 29-year-old has featured just three times in the Premier League and media reports suggest United are actively trying to offload the centre-back, who is said to be on a wage of around £130,000-a-week.

Argentina international Rojo came through Estudiantes' academy and represented the first team before leaving for a brief spell with Spartak Moscow prior to joining Sporting.

But his family are reportedly eager to return to Argentina, and Veron – a former United player – is hopeful of being able to strike a deal.

He is quoted as saying by La Nacion: "Hopefully United can see that there is no economic issue that we can match, but that it [the deal] happens in other ways and that we can attract him. We are working so that he can come back.

"He has everything to keep playing Europe, but he wants continuity."

Estudiantes president Juan Sebastian Veron confirmed talks have taken place with Vissel Kobe captain Andres Iniesta over a switch to the Argentine club.

Spanish great Iniesta has been linked to a reunion with former Barcelona team-mate Javier Mascherano at Estudiantes.

The 35-year-old Iniesta – contracted to Vissel until 2021 – has called Japan home since leaving LaLiga giants Barca in 2018.

Amid growing links to Estudiantes – where ex-Barca defender Gabriel Milito is head coach – after Mascherano arrived from Chinese Super League side Hebei China Fortuna, Veron insisted negotiations are yet to take place.

"Today, we can't say that there are negotiations with Iniesta," Veron told La Oral Deportiva. "[But] yes, there are talks.

"[Trying to sign] Iniesta is something that people will not forget about, regardless of whether it materialises or not."

Veron added: "Having Javier in the club is an important fact, not only for Estudiantes but also for Argentine football, for all that he is as a person and a professional."

Iniesta has scored 10 goals since joining Vissel, who also boast Lukas Podolski, Thomas Vermaelen and Sergi Samper, while David Villa retired at the end of the season.

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba is coveted at the Santiago Bernabeu.

His French connection with Zinedine Zidane means there is constant speculation.

However, Pogba is set to remain at United for the time being.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID GIVE UP ON POGBA… FOR NOW

LaLiga giants Real Madrid will not sign Manchester United star Paul Pogba in January, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Pogba – still recovering from injury – continues to be linked with Madrid amid doubts over his United future.

Madrid, however, recognise there is "no chance" of prising the Frenchman from Old Trafford in the New Year.

 

ROUND-UP

- A return to Chelsea for Bournemouth's Nathan Ake looks likely, claims Bleacher Report. Chelsea have a £40million buyback clause for Ake, who left Stamford Bridge permanently in 2017. Manchester City have also been linked to the 24-year-old defender.

- Barcelona defender Jean-Clair Todibo has turned down a move to Milan, reports RMC. The 19-year-old has also been linked to Ligue 1 outfit Monaco and Premier League giants Manchester United.

- Qatari outfit Al Rayyan have re-opened talks with Juventus regarding the transfer of out-of-favour striker Mario Mandzukic, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. United and Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund are also reportedly interested in the veteran Croatian.

Napoli have offered Dries Mertens a two-year contract extension, says Sky Sport Italia. The Belgian, who is out of contract at season's end, has been the subject of reported interest from Dortmund.

- Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain want to swap Leandro Paredes for Juventus midfielder Emre Can, reports the Daily Mail.

- La Nazione says Fiorentina are looking to bring former Milan striker Patrick Cutrone back to Serie A. The Italian left San Siro for Premier League side Wolves at the start of the season.

- Former Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta is in talks to join Javier Mascherano at Argentine outfit Estudiantes. Iniesta currently plays for Vissel Kobe in Japan, however, TNT Sports claims the 35-year-old midfielder could move in 2020.

Former Barcelona and Argentina star Javier Mascherano has agreed to join Primera Division side Estudiantes.

The 35-year-old left Barcelona at the end of the 2017-18 season to sign a deal with Chinese Super League outfit Hebei China Fortune.

He has made 53 appearances for the club over the past two seasons but will now make a return to Argentina 14 years after leaving River Plate for Brazilian side Corinthians.

Estudiantes announced the deal on social media alongside a video of president and former Seleccion team-mate Juan Sebastian Veron dining with Mascherano.

"We have travelled 19,000km to welcome Javier to the Pincha family," the club wrote on Twitter. "Estudiantes is your home, Mascherano."

Mascherano retired from international duty after the 2018 World Cup, having amassed a national record 147 caps.

Estudiantes are seventh in the Primera Division after picking up 22 points from their opening 13 games.  

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