Leicester City, West Ham and Valencia all tried to sign Mohamed Elneny from Arsenal during the transfer window, according to the midfielder's agent.

Elneny swapped Arsenal for Besiktas on a season-long loan in August after falling down the midfield pecking order at Emirates Stadium.

The Egypt international was also said to be wanted by other clubs, while reports in Italy this week suggested AC Milan may make an approach in the January window.

"He received a lot of offers last summer, led by Leicester City, West Ham and Valencia, but Besiktas managed to settle the deal with Arsenal," agent Alan Nazmy told Egyptian TV channel Time Sport.

"Milan and Roma previously tried to sign the player during the last winter transfer window, but the negotiations didn't work then, and he received more than one offer as well."

Asked about fresh rumoured interest from Milan, Nazmy said: "I can't talk about it."

Elneny made 89 appearances for Arsenal in all competitions after joining from Swiss side FC Basel in 2016, including 17 outings last season.

Arsenal boss Unai Emery allowed the 27-year-old to leave following the arrival of Dani Ceballos and emergence of academy product Joe Willock, but the door has not been closed on a return next year.

"Emery didn't ask for his departure from Arsenal because of his performance," Nazmy said. "He demanded that [Elneny] took a chance to develop his performance and return again.

"It is possible for him to play with Arsenal again. It still remains a strong possibility."

Bulgaria great Hristo Stoichkov fought back tears in a TV appearance as he demanded action over the racist abuse England players suffered in their Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia.

The former Ballon d'Or winner suggested "heavier punishments" than stadium closures could be required in response to the shameful scenes that marred Monday's match.

A section of Bulgaria supporters aimed monkey chants at Raheem Sterling, Tyrone Mings and Marcus Rashford and were also seen performing Nazi salutes.

Bulgarian Football Union president Borislav Mihaylov stepped down amid the fallout and UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against the organisation.

The abuse witnessed at Vasil Levski National Stadium moved 53-year-old Stoichkov during an appearance on TUDN programme Futbol Central.

"People don't deserve to suffer," Stoichkov said, before becoming emotional and hanging his head.

Play was twice halted in the first half on Monday before a group of fans were ejected from the ground.

Asked about about a suitable sanction, former Barcelona forward Stoichkov said: "That fans are not allowed in the stadium, or even heavier punishments, like in England a few years ago."

Stoichkov did not specify a particular incident involving punishment in England. He may have meant the ban from European club competitions imposed after the 1985 Heysel Stadium disaster, when English clubs were barred from UEFA competitions for five years, and Liverpool excluded for a further year.

The Sofia stadium that hosted Monday's match had already been partially closed as a result of racist behaviour from fans during qualifiers against Kosovo and the Czech Republic in June.

Bulgaria head coach Krasimir Balakov issued an apology on Wednesday and condemned the racist abuse after initially stating he did not hear it occur during his team's 6-0 defeat.

"I would like to say very clearly: since there were cases of racial discrimination in Sofia, I would like to sincerely apologise to the English footballers and to all those who felt offended," Balakov said.

Inter forward Alexis Sanchez has undergone successful surgery on his injured left ankle, the Serie A club have confirmed.

Sanchez was substituted late in Chile's friendly win over Colombia on Saturday, with a dislocated joint causing damage to his peroneus longus tendon.

The 30-year-old travelled to Barcelona on Wednesday for a consultation with professor Ramon Cugat and it was decided the issue should be operated on.

A statement on Inter's official website read: "The visit [with Cugat] confirmed the diagnosis of the Inter medical staff and the decision was made to proceed with surgery on the left ankle.

"The operation was performed in the afternoon on the peroneus longus tendon and it went exactly as planned."

Sanchez, who joined Inter on a season-long loan from Manchester United in August, is expected to miss three months of action.

The ex-Arsenal star has made four appearances for Antonio Conte's side this term, scoring one goal in Serie A, though he was sent off later in the same match against Sampdoria.

Mauro Icardi rejected criticism of Romelu Lukaku's performances since joining Inter and expects the Belgium striker to find form for the Nerazzuri.

Lukaku has replaced Icardi at the head of the Inter attack, signing a five-year contract with the Serie A club in a reported €80million transfer from Manchester United in August.

He has scored only three goals in eight appearances but Icardi, who last month left Inter for Paris Saint-Germain in a loan deal that can be made permanent, does not believe Lukaku has endured a poor start to life in Italian football.

"It doesn't seem to me that he's experiencing a moment of difficulty," Icardi told Gazzetta dello Sport. "In fact, I think he's started well, scoring a couple of goals immediately.

"It's not easy for anyone to play in Italy. Serie A is the most defensive championship in Europe.

"Maybe he needs a little more time to settle in, but he's already scored a lot of goals in his career. And he will do it again."

Icardi is not focused on what his future may hold, instead concentrating solely on his form for PSG. The Argentina international has scored two goals in four games for the defending Ligue 1 champions.

"This year, I'm at PSG and my goal is to give my best for this shirt," Icardi added,

"Then at the end of the season, around May or June, we'll see what happens. It's still too early to say anything."

LaLiga has proposed moving the Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona on October 26 from Camp Nou to the Santiago Bernabeu amid the political unrest in Catalonia.

Nine Catalan political leaders were given prison sentences ranging from nine to 13 years on Monday for their roles in the region's 2017 referendum and subsequent unilateral declaration of independence.

The ruling has sparked a huge backlash and clashes between police and protestors, with Barcelona's main airport briefly closed the following day due to the tension.

A city rally has been called by pro-independence politicians for October 26, the day Barca are due to host their bitter rivals at Camp Nou.

Omnisport understands LaLiga has asked the Competition Committee of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to switch the match to Madrid for security reasons and to avoid disruption.

The committee is due to decide in the coming days.

Bulgaria coach Krasimir Balakov has apologised after initially saying he did not hear the racist abuse directed at England players during Monday's Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia.

England claimed a 6-0 win but the match was marred by incidents in the stands, which were reported to officials and resulted in two delays to the action before half-time.

UEFA opted to charge the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) for "racist behaviour (chants, Nazi salutes)", with local reports indicating four people have been arrested in connection.

BFU president Borislav Mihaylov resigned under pressure from Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov in the wake of the furore.

Before the match, coach Balakov claimed England had a bigger problem with racism in football than his own country, then insisted after the game he had not heart the chanting.

But he has since issued an apology after accepting racist abuse did occur.

In a letter posted to his official Facebook page, Balakov wrote: "I condemn all forms of racism as an unacceptable behaviour that contradicts normal human relations.

"I think that this form of prejudice should be buried deep in our past, and no one should ever be subjected [to it].

"I have trained many Bulgarian teams with players of different origin and never anyone judging by the colour of their skin. In addition, I have always participated actively in all initiatives involving privileged people or those who need to be involved.

"My comments before the game against England that Bulgaria did not have problems with racism is based on the fact that the local championship did not see such a problem on a large scale.

"There may have been individual cases, but it's definitely not something you see at the stadium. The majority of football fans do not participate in this kind [of behaviour], and I believe that this has also been the case in the game against England.

"I would like to say very clearly: since there were cases of racial discrimination in Sofia, I would like to sincerely apologise to the English footballers and to all those who felt offended.

"At the same time, however, I would like to address everyone who uses hateful language on social media, that my words have been incorrectly removed from context - and if that does not stop, I will be forced to take legal action against it."

Luka Jovic will make the grade at Real Madrid if he is afforded time, according to his former Eintracht Frankfurt captain Alexander Meier.

Jovic joined Eintracht on an initial two-year loan from Benfica in 2017 after struggling in Portugal and he went on to star in the Bundesliga.

The Serbia international scored 17 top-flight goals last season and netted a further 10 in the Europa League as Eintracht reached the semi-finals.

That form persuaded Madrid to pay a reported €60million for the 21-year-old, but he has made only two LaLiga starts, with Karim Benzema continuing his fine run of form.

But Meier, who spent a season with Jovic, is adamant there is no reason to panic about Jovic's lack of starts, while he also has no qualms with Sebastien Haller and Ante Rebic departing Eintracht for West Ham and AC Milan, respectively.

Speaking to Omnisport, the Western Sydney Wanderers forward said: "It's never wrong to go to Real Madrid and Sebastien is in the best league in the world. They all went to big clubs and I think it's the best step for their careers.

"When you go somewhere new it takes time and I'm pretty sure Jovic will come good there.

"You could tell after two or three weeks how good his finishing was. He can do everything: left foot, right foot, head. He is perfect in front of the goal."

London is still something of a home for Jose Mourinho and another job in the English capital could be on the horizon for the ex-Chelsea manager.

With Tottenham struggling for form and reports of discontent in the dressing room, Mauricio Pochettino's position is far from certain.

Mourinho has been out of a job since he was sacked by Manchester United in December and the Portuguese is reportedly waiting in the wings.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS SOUND OUT MOURINHO

Tottenham have made contact with Jose Mourinho amid uncertainty over manager Mauricio Pochettino, reports SoccerLink.

Pochettino's future in London is up in the air following Tottenham's poor start to the season, highlighted by a humiliating 7-2 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich.

While Pochettino is not facing the sack, Spurs have sounded out Mourinho about whether the former Chelsea and Manchester United boss would be interested.

 

ROUND-UP

- While Spurs target Mourinho, Manchester United appear to be closing in on Massimiliano Allegri. With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer struggling at Old Trafford, the Daily Mail reports ex-Juventus boss Allegri is preparing for the job and wants Patrice Evra to join him in Manchester.

Real Madrid will play the waiting game for Kylian Mbappe as Marca claims the Spanish giants have set a 2021 target date of trying to sign the Paris Saint-Germain star.

- According to Le10Sport, Atletico Madrid will look to sign Paris Saint-Germain veteran Edinson Cavani to a pre-contract agreement in January. Cavani's deal runs out at season's end and the Uruguay striker has been linked to Juventus and incoming MLS franchise Inter Miami.

- ESPN FC says Manchester United are ready to spend during the January transfer window following their poor start to the campaign. United are languishing in 12th after the departures of Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez and Ander Herrera.

Bayern Munich are tracking Freiburg star Luca Waldschmidt, claims Calciomercato. The 23-year-old forward made his debut for Germany this month.

- According to Tuttosport, AC Milan want €20million-rated Turkey international Mehmet Zeki Celik from Lille. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports the Rossoneri are also interested in a January move for Arsenal's Mohamed Elneny, who is on loan at Besiktas.

Western Sydney Wanderers have signed two-time Germany international Nicolai Muller from Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt.

Muller joins the A-League team as an injury replacement for Polish playmaker Radoslaw Majewski, who suffered a potential season-ending knee injury in September.

The 32-year-old winger Muller signs for the 2014 AFC Champions League winners having amassed over 300 club appearances in Germany, including spells at Hamburg, Mainz and Greuther Furth.

"We are very excited to have Nicolai join us this season and can't wait to see him on the park," Wanderers CEO John Tsatsimas told the club's official website on Wednesday.

"Our members and fans should be very excited about this signing. Nicolai has been a top pro in Germany for many years playing Bundesliga 1 and 2 as well as playing in the Europa League.

"We would like to welcome Nicolai into our Wanderers family and look forward to him helping us reach our goals this season."

Muller could make his debut for the Wanderers this Friday as they travel to Victoria to play Melbourne Victory.

England manager Gareth Southgate praised the leadership qualities shown by defender Tyrone Mings after a challenging international debut against Bulgaria on Monday.

England bounced back from defeat in the Czech Republic with a 6-0 rout of Bulgaria in Sofia, but the Euro 2020 qualifier was marred by racist behaviour from home fans in the partially-closed stadium.

Mings was at the forefront of the unsavoury scenes having noticed racist chants by Bulgarian fans, before beginning the process which led to the implementation of UEFA's three-step protocol for racist abuse.

UEFA has since opened disciplinary proceedings against Bulgaria for the scenes at the Vasil Levski National Stadium with four charges laid out by European football's governing body.

But despite the difficult circumstances which Mings made his debut in, Southgate was full of praise for the maturity shown by the Aston Villa centre-back.

"To me, since I have been watching him for the past 12 months or so, he's displayed outstanding leadership qualities throughout that time. I thought I would see that and I saw that [against Bulgaria]," Southgate told reporters.

"We presented him with his shirt and the point I made was that everybody's journey to becoming an England international is different, but his is very different to most of the boys who have just been in the academy system.

"That worldly wideness, if you like, showed. An incredibly mature performance and you could hear his communication on the pitch I'm sure from where you were sat.

"I said to him the level of opponent often isn't the issue when playing for England. It's being able to handle wearing the England shirt. I didn't think he would have to go through everything tonight that he did, but he's an impressive young man and I couldn't be happier for him.

England finish their qualifying campaign for Euro 2020 with a doubleheader against Group A opponents Montenegro and Kosovo in November.

Darwin Nunez came off the bench to rescue a late 1-1 draw for Uruguay against Peru in their international friendly in Lima.

Christofer Gonzales' header gave Peru a 34th-minute lead after Uruguay were reduced to 10-men when Martin Caceres was sent off on Tuesday.

But Nunez headed in Matias Vina's cross against the run of play to earn La Celeste an unlikely draw after victory over the same opposition four days ago at Estadio Centenario in Montevideo.

Tuesday's match came to life in the 26th minute after a scrappy opening, when experienced defender Caceres was shown a red card for two cautions within a minute.

The former Barcelona and Juventus defender was booked for his initial challenge on Miguel Trauco before receiving a second yellow for his protests to Colombian referee Carlos Herrera.

Uruguay head coach Oscar Tabarez reacted by introducing Giovanni Gonzalez for Maxi Gomez, the visitors conceded moments later when Peru had their first notable chance of the game.

Luis Advincula beat his marker down the right and whipped in a teasing cross for Gonzalez to head home unmarked.

Peru had defeated Uruguay 5-4 on penalties in June's Copa America fixture en route to a final defeat by Brazil and they continued to look comfortable, as La Celeste lacked the sharpness shown in Friday's 1-0 win.

But two substitutes linked up for La Celeste as Vina's cross found Nunez, who had only been on the pitch for five minutes, to head in and have the final say for the visitors.

Mexico overcame a spirited Panama side 3-1 to remain perfect in the CONCACAF Nations League.

Panama had frustrated an initially dominant Mexico team after Carlos Salcedo's 42nd-minute own goal cancelled out Roberto Alvarado's opener on Tuesday.

However, Jose Juan Macias came off the bench to restore Mexico's lead 15 minutes from the end and Rodolfo Pizarro made sure of the win in the second minute of stoppage time in the Group B clash.

Mexico, who crushed Bermuda 5-1 in their Nations League opener, controlled proceedings from the outset against Panama at Estadio Azteca.

El Tri put the ball in the back of the net in the 23rd minute after Carlos Rodriguez's shot was parried into the path of Hirving Lozano but it was ruled out for offside.

Lozano was in the thick of the action again as he rattled the crossbar with a ferocious long-range attempt four minutes later.

Mexico did get their goal a minute later, when Alvarado curled a shot past Panama goalkeeper Luis Mejia.

After Lozano flashed a shot wide of the post approaching the interval, Panama equalised against the run of black with three minutes remaining prior to half-time.

The sliding Salcedo attempted to block a cross into the six-yard box, but the Mexico defender unfortunately turned the ball into his own net.

Panama surged forward and almost took a 53rd-minute lead as Mexico goalkeeper Raul Gudino stood tall to deny Jose Rodriguez.

The lively Lozano was forced from the field with a foot injury in a huge blow for Mexico and Napoli after the hour.

But Mexico eased the tension within the stadium as the spirited Panama side came unstuck in the 75th minute after Macias received the ball on the edge of the area and fired a shot through the hands of Mejia, while Pizarro sealed the points in the 92nd minute with a shot into the top corner.

 

What does it mean? El Tri stay top

It was not straightforward, but Mexico made it two wins from two matches in Group B on Tuesday. The home side did not have it their own way, though they now find themselves three points clear.

Napoli left sweating over Lozano

Serie A title hopefuls Napoli will be praying Lozano's injury is not too serious. The Mexico star was carried off the field on a stretcher with 24 minutes remaining due to an ankle injury.

Panama impress away from home

Not much was expected from Panama, who had only won three of their previous 20 games. However, the visitors were great value after recovering from an early deficit, albeit in fortuitous circumstances.

What's next?

Mexico and Panama will do battle again on November 15, with the latter welcoming El Tri to their country.

Alphonso Davies and Lucas Cavallini were the heroes as Canada outclassed and upstaged the United States 2-0 in their CONCACAF Nations League clash.

Bayern Munich sensation Davies broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute and Cavallini sealed the triumph in stoppage time in Toronto on Tuesday.

It was Canada's first goals against USA since the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup and the country's first victory over their rivals since 1985 as they stayed perfect in Group A.

USA produced a merciless performance to open their Nations League campaign with a 7-0 rout of Cuba last week, inspired by Weston McKennie's 13-minute hat-trick.

However, USA were second best and struggled to keep the ball throughout the first half in Canada, where the hosts hustled the United States out of their stride.

In a half lacking rhythm, Canada should have taken the lead in the 16th minute but teenager Jonathan David wasted two big chances.

A backpass went straight to the feet of David, who was initially denied by USA goalkeeper Zack Steffen at point-blank range before firing wide of the post.

Another chance went begging for David five minutes into the second half after the 19-year-old Canadian side-footed agonisingly wide of the near post.

USA went up the other end moments later and almost took the lead against the run of play, but Christian Pulisic's tame shot was easily dealt with by Milan Bojan after being played in by Jordan Morris.

Canada finally got their goal in the 63rd minute and it was fully deserved as Davies bundled the ball over the line after USA twice failed to clear the danger.

Only Steffen stood in between Canada and a second goal after he thwarted Junior Hoilett with 19 minutes remaining as USA's dire performance continued, but Cavallini's 91st-minute goal capped a great night for Canada.

 

What does it mean? Canada preserve perfect record

Canada created distance between themselves and USA after making it three wins from three games in Group A. Canada are yet to concede a goal, while USA are six points adrift having played a match less in the race for the semi-finals.

Pulisic's struggles continue

It was another disappointing outing for Pulisic, who was hauled off approaching the hour mark. Already struggling for game time at Chelsea following his arrival from Borussia Dortmund, the USA star cut a dejected figure after being substituted on the back of an uninspiring display.

Canada showcase potential

Much has been made about Canada with Davies and David ushering in a new era of hope for the country. And based on Tuesday's display, the future is bright for Canada, who never gave USA a sniff.

What's next?

USA and Canada will be back in action for next month's rematch in Orlando, Florida on November 15.

Maalique Foster scored a brace while Chavany Willis, Shemar Nicholson and Lamar Walker all scored as Jamaica hammered Aruba 6-0 in the return leg of their Group C match at the Ergillo Hato Stadium in Curacao on Tuesday.

Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy says a "cup final" against Denmark awaits his players after defeat to Switzerland damaged their hopes of qualifying for Euro 2020.

Haris Seferovic opened the scoring before a Shane Duffy own goal secured the Swiss a 2-0 win over their 10-man opponents on Tuesday, with the visitors having Seamus Coleman sent off.

McCarthy's team remain top in Group D with Denmark level with them on points. Switzerland are a point further back but both they and the Danes have a game in hand before the final round of fixtures on November 18. 

Denmark finish up with a trip to Dublin, where they ended Ireland's 2018 World Cup hopes in the play-offs.

"We've got to play Denmark now at home," said McCarthy. "I would've taken that at the start and I'll take it now. We've still got a chance to qualify automatically."

He added: "We've got ourselves a cup final against Denmark next month and if you have handed me that before the group began, I'd have taken it."

A philosophical McCarthy had no complaints over the outcome as his team were beaten for the first time in the group, capping a disappointing few days following a 0-0 draw against Georgia.

"We were beaten by the better team, much the better team actually," he added,

"Certainly in the first half we didn't play particularly well. Whatever system we play it does not excuse our wayward passing and the stuff that we did.

"I changed it midway through the second half and that settled things down a bit. Second half we played much better. I think it was a performance that we can be proud of, certainly when the players went down to ten men. Second half, not the first half."

Midfielder Glenn Whelan admitted they gave their hosts "too much respect" in the first half in Geneva.

"We stood off them a little bit but, in the second half, we had a go and tried to get back in the game," he added.

"I think, for us, we need to do that all of the time. We show teams too much respect and then get sloppy on the ball. If we are on the front foot we will get the fans behind us and give anyone a go."

Switzerland boss Vladimir Petkovic praised his team's response after defeat to Denmark in their previous outing but insisted they still have much to do despite having the easiest run-in.

"It was a good performance. We had to show a reaction after losing to Denmark and that's what we did," he said.

"The result doesn't mean a lot in the group – we still need to get results in our next two games. If we get the points we need against Georgia and Gibraltar, we can turn our attentions to Euro 2020."

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