Manchester City reportedly believe they lead the race for Lionel Messi if the star leaves Barcelona.

Messi, 33, is out of contract at Barca at the end of the season and is linked with a move from the LaLiga giants.

The forward stayed at Camp Nou after sensationally requesting a transfer ahead of 2020-21, but it may have just delayed his exit.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY LEAD MESSI RACE IF STAR LEAVES

Manchester City believe they lead the race for Messi if he leaves Barcelona, according to The Telegraph.

City, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter have been most strongly linked with a move for Messi, who is expected to make a decision on his future at the end of the campaign.

Messi has scored 12 goals in 20 games in all competitions this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Gareth Bale injured, his chances of a longer stay at Tottenham appear slim. AS reports Real Madrid are expecting the attacker to return to the club at the end of his loan spell at the conclusion of the campaign, and that would hurt their chances of signing Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe with Bale contracted until 2022.

- Georginio Wijnaldum's future is no closer to being sorted. Sky Sports reports the midfielder and Liverpool have reached a stalemate over a new contract. Wijnaldum's deal expires at the end of the season and the Netherlands international has been linked with a move to Barcelona.

- Starring at Tottenham this season, Son Heung-min could be set for a new deal. The Telegraph reports Spurs are confident the forward, who is contracted until 2023, will re-sign.

- Mesut Ozil could finally be set to leave Arsenal. DHA reports the playmaker has agreed to a three-and-a-half-year deal with Turkish giants Fenerbahce.

- With Moise Kean impressing on loan at Paris Saint-Germain, Everton are expecting an offer for the forward, according to the Liverpool Echo. Kean has 10 goals in 17 matches for PSG this season.

- Diego Alonso is under pressure at the helm of Inter Miami, and Sky Sports reports the MLS side have approached Phil Neville, who is the coach of England's women's team, to take over.

The date of January 1 is typically the time for New Year's resolutions but for some footballers in Europe's top five leagues it signals the day they can plot a lucrative move to a new club.

A number of top players, including Barcelona's Lionel Messi, are out of contract at the end of the 2021 season and from the start of the year are free to open talks with other teams.

Messi, of course, will be the one that takes the limelight but there are some other big-name players who will be free to leave their clubs for nothing in six months.

Here's the best players (and a couple of pretty good second choices) who are out of contract in 2021 and make up a free transfers XI.

FREE TRANSFERS XI (4-3-3)

GK: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Marko Dmitrovic)
The youngest goalkeeper ever to play for Italy – at 17 years and 189 days – has now matured into one of Serie A's most consistent performers between the sticks. The 21-year-old has been key to Milan's surge to the top of the table with four clean sheets in the league so far this season.

RB: Elseid Hysaj (Kenny Lala)
Comfortable on both the right and left flanks the versatile Albanian full-back, 26, has been a dependable, and largely unsung, part of Napoli's defence since 2015. He may lack the eye-catching assists of attacking defenders but Hysaj uses the ball intelligently in possession.

CB: Eric Garcia (Shkodran Mustafi)
A product of Barcelona's La Masia academy he joined Manchester City in 2017 where Pep Guardiola has been influential in his development. Blessed with an excellent reading of the game, and a superb positional sense, the 19-year-old has rejected a new contract at City and appears hungry for regular first-team football elsewhere.

CB: Sergio Ramos (Jerome Boateng)
The knees might be creaking at the age of 34, but the Real Madrid and Spain centre-back's mix of bloody-minded determination and charismatic leadership make him an asset to nearly any defence despite being at the back end of his career.

LB: David Alaba (Romain Saiss)
Able to operate in defence or midfield the 28-year-old Austria international has spent a decade as one of Bayern Munich's most consistent and reliable players. With nine Bundesliga and two Champions League winners' medals under his belt he has bucketloads of experience at the top level.

CM: Georginio Wijnaldum (Hakan Calhanoglu)
The Dutch midfielder has been converted by Jurgen Klopp from a goalscoring attacker into an intelligent midfield workaholic integral to Liverpool's style of play. Largely unheralded, he is man for the big occasion as his two goals in Liverpool's famous 4-0 comeback win over Barcelona demonstrate.

CM: Fernandinho (Mesut Ozil)
He turns 36 next May, and may lack the bite of old, but the Brazilian still has a lot to offer either as an efficient defensive midfielder or classy centre-back. Another player whose influence and quality may only be fully appreciated by City when he has actually left the club.

CM: Luka Modric (Julian Draxler)
A cultured and experienced midfield playmaker who, despite his diminutive frame, still oozes class whenever he is on the ball. Part of the furniture at Real Madrid since 2012 the 35-year-old Croatian looks like he still has plenty of years at the top ahead of him provided injuries do not take their toll.

RF: Lionel Messi (Florian Thauvin, Lucas Vazquez)
Should he stay or should he go? The transfer saga of 2020 looks set to dominate much of 2021 as well. Barcelona's greatest ever player needs no introduction. Since his debut in October 2004, Barca have won 55.9 per cent of their LaLiga games without Messi (won 66, drawn 39 and lost 22), compared to 73.7 per cent with him in the side (won 368, drawn 83 and lost 48).

CF: Sergio Aguero (Olivier Giroud, Arkadiusz Milik, Diego Costa)
Injury problems appear to be catching up with the 32-year-old Manchester City striker. On his day, there are few better natural finishers around. Aguero has more hat-tricks (12) than anyone else in the Premier League and is the highest non-English scorer in the history of the competition with 180 goals.

LF: Memphis Depay (Angel Di Maria)
A pitiful return of just two league goals in 33 appearances saw him jettisoned by Manchester United in 2017 but since then Depay has rebuilt his career and started to flourish. The Dutch forward has a respectable 62 goals in 154 appearances for Lyon in Ligue 1 and aged 26 is about to hit his peak.

Lionel Messi's future has been the subject of much speculation but a reunion with Pep Guardiola is still very much in Manchester City's plans.

Messi has been disgruntled with his situation at Barcelona since the end of last season, despite head coach Ronald Koeman's insistence that his superstar captain is happy.

Four-time Champions League winner Messi unsuccessfully tried to force an exit in August, however there will be no legal clauses to stop him when his contract expires in June 2021.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI WANTED ON FIVE-YEAR DEAL

The City Football Group (CFG) is eyeing a 2021 swoop that will see Lionel Messi split time between their Premier League powerhouse Manchester City and MLS franchise New York City, according to the Telegraph.

A five-year contract could be offered to superstar Barcelona captain Messi, which includes three years in England, taking the six-time Ballon d'Or winner to the age of 37, followed by an additional two more in the United States.

In an interview with Spanish TV channel La Sexta, Messi admitted his desire to one day play in the United States, a hint that City's proposal may be on his mind.

Tottenham are keeping an eye on Sergio Ramos' situation at Real Madrid, while Georginio Wijnaldum is set to decide his future.

Ramos, 34, is coming out of contract at Madrid at the end of the season.

With the defender yet to re-sign, he has been linked with a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

TOP STORY – TOTTENHAM KEEPING AN EYE ON RAMOS

Tottenham are keeping an eye on Ramos' situation at Real Madrid, according to the Evening Standard.

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho worked with Ramos at Madrid between 2010 and 2013.

Ramos has been at the Spanish giants since 2005, winning five LaLiga titles and three Champions League trophies among numerous other honours.

 

ROUND-UP

- Also out of contract at season's end, Wijnaldum is set to make a decision on his Liverpool future. Sky Sports reports the midfielder will decide this week whether to sign a new deal with the Premier League champions amid links to Barcelona.

- Diego Costa is set to leave Atletico Madrid, who are eyeing a replacement. Marca reports Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik is best placed to replace Costa.

- Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha is again linked with a move. The Sun reports Serie A leaders AC Milan are chasing Zaha in January.

- Arsenal look set to be busy in January. The Sun reports the Premier League club want Sevilla midfielder Joan Jordan in a £32million (€35.3m) move. Meanwhile, The Athletic says Arsenal are unlikely to rekindle their interest in Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar.

- Could Marcos Alonso be returning to Spain? The Independent reports Atletico Madrid are in talks to sign full-back Alonso on loan from Chelsea in January. Alonso has played just three Premier League games for Chelsea this season.

Thomas Tuchel's tenure as Paris Saint-Germain head coach is all but over.

Tuchel will reportedly be replaced by Mauricio Pochettino, despite leading PSG to Ligue 1 glory last season and the Champions League final.

Can former PSG defender Pochettino help the French giants conquer Europe?

 

TOP STORY – POCH SET FOR PSG

Mauricio Pochettino has agreed terms to take charge of Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Thomas Tuchel's sacking is set to be announced after striking a deal with PSG to leave immediately – the compensation worth €6million, reports Bild.

Former Tottenham manager Pochettino is now poised to return to PSG, where he played between 2001 and 2003.

 

ROUND-UP

Diego Costa has requested to leave Atletico Madrid in January, claims Diario AS and Marca. If Costa is unable to depart during the next window, the veteran striker will farewell Atletico on a free transfer at season's end.

Wolves have joined the chase to sign Real Madrid outcast Luka Jovic, says The Athletic. Wolves are keen to bolster their attack following Raul Jimenez's serious injury and Jovic has emerged as a loan option for the Premier League side. Milan have also been heavily linked with the Serbia international.

Georginio Wijnaldum wants time to reflect on Liverpool's contract offer, reports Fabrizio Romano. Wijnaldum is set to become a free agent amid links to Barca.

- The Mirror reports Arsenal are circling for Brighton and Hove Albion full-back Tariq Lamptey should Hector Bellerin depart for Barcelona. Lamptey has been linked to Manchester City and Bayern Munich.

Sevilla are eyeing a January swoop for Marseille star Florian Thauvin, according to Andaluz Estadio Deportivo. Milan have also been tracking the Frenchman.

- Corriere dello Sport says Juventus and Inter remain keen on signing Udinese's Rodrigo De Paul. Meanwhile, Ilbianconeri claims Juve have been offered Arsenal outcast Mesut Ozil.

Manchester United remain in contact with Moises Caicedo's agents to sign the Independiente del Valle sensation, says Romano. The 19-year-old Ecuadorian midfielder wants to move to Old Trafford.

Paul Pogba may be about to experience a case of deja vu as he drifts towards the Manchester United exit door.

When the mercurial midfielder waved goodbye to Old Trafford in 2012, the Frenchman headed to the bright lights of Turin to make his name at Juventus.

Fast forward eight years and it seems the 27-year-old Pogba is edging closer towards retracing his own footsteps in an attempt to relaunch his career.

 

TOP STORY – JUVENTUS 'OPEN TALKS' WITH POGBA'S AGENT

Manchester United star Paul Pogba is a "top target" for Juventus in 2021, according to journalist Carlo Garganese.

Serie A champions Juve have already began talks with Pogba's agent Mino Raiola, and a deal could be done as soon as January.

Raiola claimed Pogba's United career was over in an interview with Italian outlet Tuttosport last week, prompting links to Juve, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

If an agreement cannot be reached in January, the player United paid £89million for four years ago could be set for a Serie A return in the off-season.

 

ROUND-UP

- United will have to wait until the end of the season to bring in any new recruits, according to the Manchester Evening News. But reports from Todo Fichajes in Spain suggest the Red Devils are set to reignite their interest in Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez as a potential Pogba replacement. United are said to be preparing a £63m (€70m) offer for the Spaniard.

- With Liverpool and midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum still yet to come to agreement on the terms of a new contract, Le10Sport reports that the Reds are lining up Lille's former Bayern Munich and Swansea man Renato Sanches to come in and fill the Dutchman's shoes.

- Liverpool are shopping for centre-back reinforcements after losing Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez to long-term injuries. Barcelona seemed primed to sign Manchester City fringe player Eric Garcia but Spanish outlet Diario AS says Liverpool are ready to swoop for the summer free agent.

- Arsenal are eying a move for Porto midfielder Fabio Viera, who has a £27m (€29.9m) release fee in his contract, according to Record. Meanwhile, Defensa Central are reporting that Gunners manager Mikel Arteta has put Lyon's Houssem Aouar and Madrid's Isco on his January wish list.

- One of Europe's brightest young prospects, Hungarian attacker Dominik Szoboszlai, will complete his move from Salzburg to RB Leipzig after a medical on Thursday, Fabrizio Romano reports. Arsenal, Madrid and Bayern Munich had shown interest in the 20-year-old.

Juventus are planning their move for Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba.

Pogba's future is again a major talking point after his agent, Mino Raiola, said the France international wanted to leave Old Trafford.

A return to Juve has been touted, and the Serie A champions are seemingly ready to make it happen.

 

TOP STORY – JUVENTUS HOPING FOR POGBA LOAN DEAL

Juventus want Pogba to return to the club from Manchester United on loan next month, according to the Mirror.

The report says the move would include an obligation to buy Pogba, who is contracted until 2022, ahead of next season.

Pogba joined United from Juve for a reported £89million (€105m) fee in 2016.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are still eyeing Georginio Wijnaldum. Mundo Deportivo reports Ronald Koeman wants the Liverpool midfielder, who is out of contract at season's end, but a deal in January appears too difficult.

- Also set to become a free agent is Bayern Munich defender David Alaba. Marca reports Real Madrid are strongly considering the Austria international, who wants to join the LaLiga giants.

- Struggling for game time at Tottenham, Dele Alli looks set for an exit. The Telegraph reports the midfielder will be allowed to leave in January, with Paris Saint-Germain said to be interested.

- Oleksandr Zinchenko is also battling for minutes at Manchester City. The Daily Star reports Wolves are ready to renew their interest in the defender.

Jurgen Klopp hailed a "perfect" night as Liverpool welcomed supporters back to Anfield with a 4-0 thrashing of Wolves.

With the city of Liverpool having recently been placed in Tier 2 of the UK government's tiered restriction system, 2,000 fans were allowed to attend Sunday's game.

It was the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic that fans were allowed to attend matches.

Liverpool were crowned league champions for the first time in 30 years in June, but lifted the trophy at Anfield in July behind closed doors.

And Klopp had nothing but positive things to say after the match having seen his players treat those in attendance to a fine performance.

"It was a really perfect night, to be honest," the Liverpool manager told Amazon Prime Sport.

"If 10 months ago somebody would have told us we had a home game and only 2,000 people will show up we would have thought, 'Okay, proper crisis, the football must be really bad'. 

"And now tonight it was so enjoyable, it was so nice. We came out for warming up and we all had goosebumps, it was like 'Oh my God!' 

"I said to the boys in the meeting before that we will have no idea how it will be, so if it's good we have to use it, and if it's bad we have to ignore it. So that's how it is. 

"It was much better [than I hoped], it was perfect, the noise what people did. They were on their toes, you could see and feel and pretty much smell that they waited so long for it. 

"All of them here, the Kop and the Main Stand, were here to support a football team."

Liverpool claimed an emphatic victory thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah, Georginio Wijnaldum, Joel Matip'and an own goal from Wolves' Nelson Semedo.

Klopp went on to agree that the return of fans had helped inspire his players on to greater heights in the second half of what had - in its earlier stages at least - been a cagey encounter.

He continued: "We are so used to playing without a crowd. Each little positive that you can get in this moment in life in general is nice. 

"When you read in the newspaper that the vaccine would come it was like, whatever weather was outside, the sun was shining for all of us. 

"And so it was tonight in the second half, it's so much more enjoyable when the people are involved.

"This game would not be the game we all love if we played it always without supporters, but we have to do it in the moment. 

"If there's any sense in it, then it's only that we appreciate these things: 2,000 or 3,000 and hopefully 4,000, 5m000 and 6,000 in the next few weeks and months. 

"Normality is coming back and you appreciate that even more."

Jurgen Klopp is still hopeful that Georginio Wijnaldum will put pen to paper on a new Liverpool contract.

The Dutchman is into the final year of the deal he signed following his 2016 arrival from Newcastle United and will be free to talk to other clubs from January.

Barcelona were credited with an interest over the summer – their coach Ronald Koeman having worked successfully with Wijnaldum during his stint as Netherlands boss.

However, after seeing the former PSV midfielder score a beautiful curler as Liverpool ran out 4-0 winners against Wolves on Sunday, Klopp revealed that he has not given up on the idea of keeping the player at Anfield.

Asked about that prospect, the German told Amazon Prime Sport: "I hope so, to be honest. 

"You can see that he plays all the time, he plays pretty long when he's on the pitch, all this kind of stuff. We have a very good relationship. I hope so."

Wijnaldum has scored 26 Premier League goals in total since his move to Newcastle in 2015, with 23 of these coming at home.

That equates to a percentage of 88.5 – the highest ratio scored on home soil of any player with 20 or more goals in the history of the competition.

When asked about any potential talks over a new deal, Wijnaldum told Amazon Prime Sport: "I already said in my previous interviews, I don't speak about my contract situation, I speak about the games, performances, football. 

"The club should speak about my contract."

Liverpool's win took them level on points with Tottenham at the top of the Premier League, with Jose Mourinho's side having defeated Arsenal 2-0 earlier on Sunday.

The champions have, who were playing in front of a crowd for the first time since March as 2,000 fans were allowed to attend following the easing of lockdown restrictions in Liverpool, won 31 of their last 32 home league games, drawing the other and scoring 93 goals while conceding just 25 in a remarkable run.

Georginio Wijnaldum says Diogo Jota is proving to be an even better acquisition than Liverpool thought he would be.

Jota has been a revelation since joining from Wolves in September for a reported £41million, scoring nine goals in 15 appearances across all competitions. 

He is already well on course to overtake his total Premier League tally of seven from last season, with five goals from as many starts in the English top flight so far this campaign. 

Jota is aiming to become just the fourth player to score in his first five home games for a club in the Premier League when his former side Wolves visit Anfield on Sunday. 

Wijnaldum is in no doubt Jota – who scored 16 goals in 67 Premier League appearances for Wolves – will revel in the occasion given his stunning start to life with Jurgen Klopp's champions. 

"It's going to be a really, really big game for him and also a game he can enjoy," the Netherlands international told Liverpool's official website. 

"I'm always happy when I play against Newcastle because that's my only other team [in the Premier League]. For him I think it's different because he played more seasons for Wolves than I played for Newcastle. 

"I'm really impressed because I already knew how good he was, but now I can see that he's even better than what we thought of him.

"Now we train with him, we play games with him, so we can really see what kind of player he is, what kind of quality player he is. 

"I think he's showed it with the start he's had at the club."

Jota has not enjoyed much time on the pitch with influential defender Virgil van Dijk after he suffered knee ligament damage in October's Merseyside derby against Everton following a forceful challenge from Jordan Pickford.

The 29-year-old underwent a successful operation, but he could ultimately miss the rest of the club season and even next year's delayed Euro 2020.

Wijnaldum, who admits he struggled to find the right words to say to his compatriot in the immediate aftermath of his injury, revealed Van Dijk is in a positive frame of mind regarding his recovery. 

"He deals well with the situation and is positive about it," he added. "We call quite often now because I know that I can.

"But in the beginning for me it was a bit like, 'Can I call him or not?' because I can understand that in the situation he was in you also want a little bit of rest and moments for yourself. 

"In the beginning it was a little bit of searching for the right way to approach him. But now it goes really well."

Lionel Messi reportedly remains a target for Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi, 33, is contracted at Barcelona until the end of the season, having stayed at the club after sensationally requesting to leave earlier this year.

With uncertainty still surrounding his future, the Barcelona star is apparently wanted by PSG.

 

TOP STORY – PSG EXPLORING POSSIBILITY OF SIGNING MESSI

PSG are exploring the possibility of signing Barcelona star Messi, according to ESPN.

Along with Manchester City and Inter, PSG have been among the clubs most heavily linked with a move for the Argentina international.

The report says Neymar and sporting director Leonardo have discussed bringing Messi to PSG.

It comes just days after Neymar said he wanted to play with Messi again and was keen for it to happen "next season".

 

ROUND-UP

- Still linked with Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, Manchester United could look elsewhere. The Sun reports United are eyeing Leicester City winger Harvey Barnes as a possible alternative.

- Staying at Manchester United and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been under some pressure. Bild reports the Premier League giants are interested in PSG coach Thomas Tuchel if they decide to sack Solskjaer.

- With Christian Eriksen seemingly set for an exit, Inter are considering their midfield transfer targets. CalcioMercato reports Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante remains Inter's dream signing, but Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum is also an option with his contract expiring at the end of the season. However, the report also says Inter could challenge Liverpool for the signing of Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Yves Bissouma.

- Also at Liverpool, the Premier League champions are reportedly still eyeing a centre-back amid their injury woes. Bild reports RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano is on their list, as is his 21-year-old team-mate Ibrahima Konate.

- Atlanta United could be close to appointing a new coach. TyC Sports says former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Argentina defender Gabriel Heinze, most recently in charge of Velez Sarsfield, is a step away from taking over at the MLS club.

Jurgen Klopp hopes Georginio Wijnaldum extends his stay at Liverpool and the manager remains optimistic.

Wijnaldum is out of contract with the Premier League champions at the end of the season and the midfielder has been linked with a move to Barcelona.

Ahead of Saturday's trip to Brighton and Hove Albion, Klopp had no update on the Netherlands international – but he would like the 30-year-old to remain at Anfield.

"I cannot really say a lot about that. I would be happy if he would stay here – that's maybe the only thing," he said.

"But sitting here, I'm pretty happy with Gini. You see when you look at most of the line-ups."

Wijnaldum arrived at Liverpool from Newcastle United in 2016 and has helped the club win the Premier League, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.

Since 2016-17, Wijnaldum has missed just 11 Premier League games for Liverpool. They have won five, drawn four and lost two, a win percentage of 45.5, compared to 70.7 in the 150 games he has played.

They have also averaged more goals for (2.2 to 1.8), fewer goals against (0.9 to 1.3), more points per game (2.3 to 1.7) with Wijnaldum during that time.

Asked if Wijnaldum was in his best form since joining Liverpool, Klopp praised the midfielder's consistency.

"That might be only because your memories are not that good. He played always good. That's why he played that amount of games," he said.

"I cannot remember a lot of bad games, to be honest. He played for us in plenty of positions, different positions. He's in a good moment, thank God. Long may it continue. That's it.

"It's good and there's nothing else to say about it, to be honest. As long as nothing is decided, everything is possible and I'm positive."

Liverpool are second in the Premier League table ahead of their trip to Brighton.

Manchester City are reportedly set to extend the contracts of Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus as they consider another forward.

Pep Guardiola signed a two-year extension at City this week, keeping him at the Premier League giants until 2023.

And more re-signings look set to follow.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY SET TO OFFER NEW DEALS TO STERLING, JESUS

Manchester City are set to offer Raheem Sterling a new deal, according to the Mirror.

Sterling, 25, is contracted at City until 2023, but the club are hopeful he will renew on improved terms.

Also under contract until 2023, Jesus is set for a bumper new deal, the Daily Star reports.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Manchester City and Pep Guardiola is considering Benfica and Uruguay forward Darwin Nunez as a successor to Sergio Aguero, according to The Telegraph. Aguero is out of contract at the end of the season.

- Also coming out of contract at the end of the campaign is Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum. Corriere dello Sport says Inter are eyeing the midfielder in January, while the Serie A giants are also looking at Udinese star Rodrigo De Paul as they consider selling Christian Eriksen.

- As Olivier Giroud struggles for game time at Chelsea, the striker is linked with a move. The Mirror says David Beckham's Inter Miami are considering making an offer for the France international in January.

- Yet to play in the Premier League this season, Dean Henderson may look to leave Manchester United. The Sun reports the goalkeeper wants a January loan move to boost his chances of keeping his spot in England's squad for next year's European Championship. It says Leeds United and Brighton and Hove Albion are interested.

- Another Manchester United goalkeeper seeking an exit is Sergio Romero. The Mirror reports United are prepared to accept £2.5million for Romero in January, having wanted double that during the close season.

Georginio Wijnaldum acknowledged there were points where the Netherlands did not look great in the victory against Poland.

The Netherlands came from behind to win 2-1 in Chorzow, but that was not enough to secure a return to the Nations League finals as Italy's 2-0 victory against Bosnia-Herzegovina ensured they finished top of Group A1.

Kamil Jozwiak put Poland in front inside five minutes with an impressive solo goal, but Wijnaldum won a penalty that Memphis Depay converted in the 77th minute and then scored a deflected header to give Oranje a second win in six games under Ronald de Boer.

Poland were a potent threat on the break and match-winner Wijnaldum admitted they made the Netherlands look bad at points, saying the Dutch must improve if they are to do well at Euro 2020.

"I think this was one of our best matches. At the start we weren't sharp and they were able to score early, but otherwise it was good," Wijnaldum told NOS.

"Only in transition can we do better. Sometimes we just don't look good. It's hard to train on it. We don't have much time to practise that sort of thing together between games.

"We have to make these steps as soon as possible if we want to do well at the European Championship.

"We did what we had to do."

Poland's Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski started the match despite being a doubt due to a muscular injury. He assisted Jozwiak's goal and released Przemyslaw Placheta for a shot that hit the post before going off at half-time.

De Boer was disappointed his players did not heed his warning to focus from the off at Silesian Stadium but he was not too disappointed with the performance.

"I saw more positives than negatives," said De Boer.

"I warned the team beforehand that because of all that hassle with Robert Lewandowski over the past few days, I expected Poland would want to show something. You have to be sharp from the first second, but it seemed as though we were not.

"Defensively, it should definitely be better, we are going to work on that. You cannot start like that.

"After 1-0 we picked it up very well and created one chance after another. Then we showed what we can do. We have to work on everything, but I leave with a good feeling.

"It is also a well-deserved victory. They fought for it until the last second and I am proud of that. We have the willpower and have to keep it."

Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum scored as the Netherlands came from behind to beat Poland 2-1, but it was not enough to secure a return to the Nations League Finals.

Both teams needed to win the match at Silesian Stadium and receive some assistance from Bosnia-Herzegovina against Italy in the other Group A1 game, but the Azzurri's 2-0 victory ensured it was they who finished top of the pile.

Kamil Jozwiak's stunning solo goal gave Poland the lead inside five minutes and Przemyslaw Placheta rattled the post as the hosts proved a significant threat on the break.

Poland were punished for sitting back in the second half, though, with Wijnaldum winning a penalty that Depay fired home before the Liverpool man saw his deflected header secure the win in the 84th minute.

Jozwiak put Poland in front when he surged away from Davy Klaassen down the left, cut inside of Daley Blind and stabbed in off the post.

Wijnaldum and Donyell Malen missed decent chances to restore parity before Placheta hared forward on the right and crashed a shot against the near post from an acute angle.

Kamil Glik and centre-back partner Jan Bednarek made important interventions to keep Wijnaldum and Depay at bay, but Lukasz Fabianski was needed to stop Frenkie de Jong equalising before half-time.

Krzysztof Piatek replaced Robert Lewandowski, who had been a doubt for the game with a muscular problem, at half-time and he was involved in a rapid break that ended with Placheta shanking wide.

Poland focused on defending and Fabianski did well to tip the Netherlands' first shot on target of the second half from Depay away from the bottom-right corner.

However, Fabianski was beaten by Depay from 12 yards in the 77th minute after Bednarek pushed Wijnaldum over in the area.

Wijnaldum completed the turnaround himself by flicking substitute Steven Berghuis' corner home, but it was only enough to secure second place in the group.

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