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.

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."

Kylian Mbappe is pleased Paris Saint-Germain are involved in a title race this season as it demonstrates just how hard it is to be crowned Ligue 1 champions.

PSG closed to within a point of leaders Lille thanks to a dramatic 3-2 triumph over Saint-Etienne on Sunday, Mauro Icardi grabbing the winner deep into stoppage time at the Parc des Princes.

Mbappe underlined his importance by scoring twice in the see-saw contest, cancelling out Denis Bouanga's opener with his first before putting the hosts ahead from the penalty spot.

However, it seemed Saint-Etienne had secured a point when Romain Hamouma made it 2-2 in the second added minute.

"We got into a bit of trouble. When we lead 2-1 like that, we have to keep the score," Mbappe told Canal+. "But we didn't give up, we wanted to win.

"The championship is extremely important to us - it is a primary objective. It would be the 10th for the club and we want to participate in the history of the club.

"We want to win, we are competitors. People think it's easy to win. This year, it's good, there is a title race, it shows that it is not easy what we have done in recent years.

"We want to keep doing it. There is no secret; we have to give our all and win all the matches."

Only Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani have scored more goals in Ligue 1 for PSG than Mbappe. He has 23 in 28 appearances in the competition this season, as well as a further eight in the Champions League to help his side reach the semi-final stage.

Mauricio Pochettino is optimistic over the 22-year-old signing a new deal to extend his stay in the French capital, too.

"I am an optimist, and I hope that the best players at the club, in this case Kylian, will stay here," the PSG coach said.

On the game itself, Pochettino was pleased with the character shown by his players, particularly after they had seemingly let the win slip away when Hamouma equalised for the visitors.

"I don't know if it's a champion's victory, but it's the victory of a team which believes in itself, which does not surrender," Pochettino told the media.

"These are three very important points to stay in the championship race until the end. As staff, we always advocate confidence, optimism. This attitude is very important for approaching life and football.

"The team has the mentality, not just athleticism and talent, but also character. These three points give us energy, a very positive feeling to face what awaits us and which will be difficult."

Returning substitute Mauro Icardi gave Paris Saint-Germain a remarkable 3-2 win at home to Saint-Etienne on Sunday to significantly boost the champions' title hopes.

A perplexing encounter was goalless until the 77th minute when Denis Bouanga had Saint-Etienne in front and PSG, beaten in their previous three home Ligue 1 games, facing defeat again.

Kylian Mbappe levelled just 84 seconds later, though, and then won and converted a penalty to seemingly win the match and close to within a point of leaders Lille, held by Montpellier on Friday.

Yet that was far from the end of the drama, with an awful error from stand-in goalkeeper Sergio Rico gifting Romain Hamouma a 92nd-minute equaliser.

Saint-Etienne had just three more minutes to see out to protect a point but allowed Icardi, back after a month out with a thigh strain, to reach Angel Di Maria's cross and nod in to spark jubilant celebrations.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino said he will "fight with all my energies" to keep Real Madrid target Kylian Mbappe in the French capital.

Mbappe has long been tipped to join LaLiga champions Madrid, though PSG remain in contract negotiations with the star forward.

The World Cup-winning France international is contracted to PSG until 2022 and Pochettino is confident Mbappe will remain in Paris, where team-mate Neymar has been linked with a return to Barcelona.

"Mbappe to Real Madrid? I'll fight with all my energies to keep Kylian here at PSG," Pochettino told El Larguero.

"PSG are doing everything possible to keep Neymar and Mbappe.

"I am equally optimistic that Mbappe will stay. They both have a huge commitment."

While there are long-term doubts over Mbappe and Neymar, PSG have been linked with blockbuster moves for superstar Barca captain Lionel Messi and Madrid skipper Sergio Ramos.

Messi and Ramos are both out of contract at the end of the season and their futures remain uncertain.

PSG – through to the Champions League semi-finals against Manchester City after eliminating holders Bayern Munich – have reportedly emerged as strong suitors for six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi and Spain centre-back Ramos.

"Surely soon it will be known what happens with Leo Messi future and contract," Pochettino said.

Pochettino added: "Sergio Ramos? I don't like to talk about players who are not in my team.

"There are a lot of rumours... here at PSG we're working to improve the team."

Mauricio Pochettino said Paris Saint-Germain felt like "a real team" after they edged out Bayern Munich to reach the Champions League semi-finals.

With "geniuses" such as Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria, there has never been any doubting the quality of the individuals in the PSG ranks.

They reached last season's Champions League final, and on Tuesday they completed a revenge mission against the Bundesliga giants who beat them in that Lisbon showpiece match.

A 1-0 home defeat saw the Ligue 1 outfit through on away goals following their 3-2 win in Munich last week.

"It was a real tough match," Pochettino said on BT Sport. "I'm really happy because the players deserve big credit. I'm so happy for them, the club, the president, for [sporting director] Leonardo who trusts in us.

"After three months working here, we are here and we are enjoying the moment. If you win and you qualify for the semi-final that is an amazing moment for us."

Asked directly about his three thrilling front players, Pochettino shone a light on what he wants them to deliver, which is not only the frequent moments of solo magic.

"They are fantastic players and the capacity and the quality is there and you can appreciate it, and of course they work so hard," the former Tottenham boss said.

"I am so happy because our job is to try to put this type of talent, they are geniuses, to work like a team, to bring the effort without the ball. Of course with the ball they are fantastic, but to feel that we are a real team that is a challenge for us and at the moment we are so happy about that."

PSG had won all four of their previous home matches against Bayern in Europe, with those games all coming in the Champions League from 1994 to 2017, and the slender defeat felt like another victory this time.

Pochettino said he tried to enjoy a contest in which PSG played delightfully at times, repeatedly opening up the Bayern defence with thrilling interplay between the front players.

Neymar had five shots in the first half, three of which drew fine saves from Manuel Neuer, hitting the crossbar and post with the other two attempts prior to the break.

In all, he had a team-high 85 touches, played the most passes in the opposition half (28) of any PSG player, and was involved in more duels (30) than anyone on the pitch.

The Brazilian was sensational on a night when Mbappe, who scored twice in the first leg, was a little erratic, being flagged offside six times. On one of those occasions, the flag looked to have gone up too early and Mbappe might have had a chance to score or set up a team-mate. On another, he raced through and thrashed a ferocious shot beyond Neuer, only for the goal to be disallowed.

It was a tie that was tense through to the final whistle in the second leg, as Pochettino got the better of Bayern boss Hansi Flick.

"Every time I am calm outside," said Pochettino. "But inside always you are always a little bit with the stress of the competition, adrenaline that we love to feel, but tonight was a fantastic game."

Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi insists Neymar and Kylian Mbappe have "no excuses to leave" as the French giants mount another Champions League challenge this season.

PSG reached their second successive semi-final after eliminating holders Bayern Munich on away goals on Tuesday after the tie ended 3-3.

Bayern won the second leg 1-0 in Paris, but PSG exacted some revenge after moving through to the final four, having lost last season's final to the Bundesliga champions.

Neymar – named man of the match – has been linked with a return to Barcelona following his world-record €222million exit in 2017, while star team-mate Mbappe has long been tipped to join Real Madrid.

Al-Khelaifi was asked about the future of the duo amid ongoing contract negotiations as PSG look ahead to a semi-final showdown with either Manchester City or Borussia Dortmund.

"We have invested a lot in this club to win the Champions League and all the trophies at stake," Al-Khelaifi told RMC Sport.

"Neymar and Kylian Mbappe have no excuses to leave. We really have everything to win all tournaments. We're a great team today. 

"We have respect for others but we are there with them. We work. And it's not over. We need to keep going, to stay calm because the Champions League is not over. 

"We need to work more every day. The confidence is there. The secret is work. The details also make the difference."

PSG's elimination of Bayern is the first instance in Champions League history of the previous season's losing finalists eliminating the holders in the knockout stages.

Mauricio Pochettino's PSG have reached the semi-finals for the second season in a row, after managing to reach the final four only once in their previous 11 campaigns in the competition before that – their first in 1994-95.

PSG, though, failed to score at home in the Champions League for the first time in 24 games, since a 0-0 draw with Madrid in October 2015.

When Monaco and Manchester City embarked upon a sensationally riotous Champions League last-16 affair in 2017, a livewire forward with a combination of technique and pace to leave the most seasoned defenders utterly mortified scored in both legs as the Ligue 1 side went through 6-6 on away goals.

That young man was Kylian Mbappe. But it was also, in a losing cause, Leroy Sane.

Four years on from a knockout tie that marked out both players as potentially dominant figures for the decade to come in European football, each had points to prove at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday.

Mbappe was looking to add to the argument that he is the finest player in the world right now, Paris Saint-Germain's talisman in their quest for elusive continental supremacy. Sane was trying to prove he belongs at Bayern Munich.

In all competitions this season, Mbappe has 33 goals and 10 assists, following up his brace as PSG edged Bayern 3-2 in the quarter-final first leg by scoring one and setting up another in a 4-1 win over Strasbourg. Only Robert Lewandowski (50) – oh, how heavily his absence weighed upon the Bavarian giants' eventual exit – and Harry Kane (45) have more than Mbappe's 43 goal involvements among players in Europe's top five leagues.

Sane has scored four times in the Bundesliga and not at all in the league since January 3. If Serge Gnabry was not undergoing a period of coronavirus isolation, it is doubtful the winger would have had the chance to atone for an ineffective first-leg showing.

It pays not to be ineffective when the remaining array of attacking talent are cranking merrily through the gears. Mbappe and Neymar grab the limelight but, flanked by Angel Di Maria and Julian Draxler, the entire PSG forward line was irresistible during the first half.

One piece of skill to humiliate Benjamin Pavard might mean Mbappe apologising profusely the next time France's national team gets together. However, as in the first leg, Bayern were in no mood to drop deeper and rob Sane, Kingsley Coman and the rest of a platform to lay siege to the PSG goal.

Similarly, the hosts would not instantly go long. They would play through the ravenous press because Mauricio Pochettino says so and Leandro Paredes – both as easy on the eye and robust as a polished marble slab – relished the challenge in holding midfield.

When it worked, their magnificent forwards were away; when it didn't, PSG were incredibly vulnerable. The opening 20 minutes felt like two heavyweights swinging big punches while balancing on highwires.

Neymar's soft feet and underestimated hard edges were at the heart of some of the most eye-catching moments. A wonderful body swerve left David Alaba in his wake and he curled against the bar. Then he hit the post.

The tempestuous Brazilian superstar often seems to think the fates are conspiring over the course of 90 minutes. When Bayern bounced off the ropes for Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to scramble home against his former club, making it 3-3 on aggregate, it was tempting to think Neymar might actually have a point.

Sane forced Keylor Navas into a sharp save in first-half stoppage time and he threaded a superb ball through for Thomas Muller to almost put Bayern ahead in the tie after the hour.

By that time, Neymar had produced more outrageous skill and agonisingly failed to turn home with the goal gaping. Jerome Boateng nonchalantly backheeled the loose ball behind for the corner, apparently so mesmerised by the fancy footwork that he had to join in.

Boateng wasn't the only jack of all trades as Neymar tore back into his own half after Sane skipped past Paredes. He didn't tackle him. Mbappe did.

It was an utterly colossal contest. Mbappe strayed just offside before he throttled one into Manuel Neuer's net, the Germany goalkeeper somehow seeing out a clean sheet that will be scant consolation.

Then, in stoppage time came Sane's moment. He had found PSG replacement left-back Mitchel Bakker very much to his liking during the final half hour and darted into space down the right channel. There was time to cut back on to his favoured left foot and pick the pass for the winning goal.

Sane mishit the cross, the unflappable Keylor Navas grasped it and PSG were out of the woods. After another Champions League classic settled on away goals, he and Mbappe remain on very different trajectories.

Luka Modric has admitted he would love to play with Kylian Mbappe at Real Madrid.

The Paris Saint-Germain striker continues to be linked with a switch to the LaLiga giants, and recent unconfirmed reports claimed Mbappe has told his French club he wants to leave.

Mbappe has also previously been linked with a possible switch to Liverpool, who Madrid face in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday.

It now appears the Spanish capital is a likelier destination than Merseyside for 22-year-old Mbappe, who helped France win the 2018 World Cup final against Modric and Croatia.

Asked about the prospect of signings for next season, Madrid playmaker Modric told a pre-match news conference: "There are a lot of rumours and news about players coming and leaving. I can't comment on that.

"Kylian Mbappe is a great player, he has showed us many times with PSG and the French national team. Great players are always welcome at Real Madrid, of course.

"But it wouldn't be correct for me to talk about players from other teams, especially at this stage of the season.

"We'll see what happens next season, but what I can tell you is he is one of the best players in the world."

The first degree of uncertainty over whether Mbappe and Modric share a dressing room next term centres on whether a deal will be struck between PSG and Madrid, but the second would be whether Modric remains with Los Blancos.

The 35-year-old midfielder's contract expires after the end of the season, and Modric is hopeful of staying on, saying there have been positive moves towards that happening.

"Like always, my contract extension is going well," Modric said. "I can't say anything else. I've always said I want to keep playing here at Real Madrid.

"I feel very happy here and hope I can stay here next season, but apart from that I can't tell you anything else."

Modric and Toni Kroos continue to look like a midfield combination that Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane would be bold if not foolish to split up, and Modric said his German team-mate has "made me feel at my most comfortable".

"I enjoy playing alongside Toni a lot. We understand each other very well," Modric added. "Let's see how much longer we can share the pitch together."

Madrid, who lead 3-1 from the first leg against Liverpool, travelled to Anfield without injured captain Sergio Ramos, and it emerged on Wednesday the skipper has also tested positive for the coronavirus.

They are also without Raphael Varane, Lucas Vazquez, Dani Carvajal and Eden Hazard for a game which Madrid approach on the back of a Clasico win over Barcelona in LaLiga.

Former Tottenham midfielder Modric said it was unfortunate the game would be played behind closed doors, given the volume that can be generated at Liverpool.

Madrid won 3-0 at Anfield in the group stage in 2014, with Modric and Kroos again at the heart of midfield.

Modric said Madrid would have relished a noisy welcome, saying: "I would like to play at Anfield with a crowd because I played a few times with Tottenham and played that game with Real Madrid and the atmosphere was amazing.

"Everyone wants to play with fans, with a crowd. That's why we're not thinking about if it's an advantage for us or not."

Bayern Munich will approach Wednesday's quarter-final second leg against Paris Saint Germain with the confidence expected of Champions League holders.

Sure, they lost 3-2 in an enthralling meeting at the Allianz Arena last week and are without star striker Robert Lewandowski, but Hansi Flick's men had more than enough chances to have emerged victorious and face up to a PSG defence likely to be without the influential Marquinhos.

The main problem for Bayern is Kylian Mbappe's apparent bid to turn the competition into his own personal playground.

Having put Barcelona to the sword with a hat-trick at Camp Nou in the previous round, the France forward was PSG's match-winner once more with a brace in Bavaria.

When the second leg gets under way, Mbappe will be 22 years and 115 days old. No player has scored more than his 27 goals in the Champions League by that age. For reference, Lionel Messi had 18, Raul 12, Wayne Rooney 12 and Cristiano Ronaldo three at the same vintage.

A place among the Champions League greats looks to be Mbappe's for the taking and we've decided to compare his Barcelona and Bayern performances to some of the most memorable goalscoring outings of recent years on the biggest stage.

Lionel Messi – Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal: April 6, 2010

A second-leg penalty from Mbappe as PSG overcame Barcelona 5-2 on aggregate in the round of 16 made him the youngest player in Champions League history to reach 25 goals at 22 years and 80 days, usurping the great Messi.

Of course, Mbappe still has plenty more to accomplish if he is to get close to Messi's deeds in the competition. The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has won Europe's top competition four times. Barca were triumphant finalists in 2009 and 2011, with Messi netting in each game against Manchester United. They fell short in 2009-10, but a dominant quarter-final win over Arsenal that season found him at his very best.

The Gunners battled to a thrilling 2-2 draw at Emirates Stadium and led at Camp Nou through Nicklas Bendtner, but the tie was as good as over before half-time as Messi compiled a blistering hat-trick – smashing in from the edge of the area, finding the roof of the next with an opportunistic effort and then racing clear to sublimely lob Manuel Almunia.

He nutmegged the Arsenal goalkeeper having dribbled through a bedraggled defence for his and Barcelona's fourth. Messi's haul came from eight shots overall, with six on target. Three goals came from his impeccable left boot, with the second right footed. He stamped his mark all over the contest, completing 46 of 52 passes and making 77 touches – a greater level of overall involvement than any other performance on this list.

Robert Lewandowski – Borussia Dortmund 4-1 Real Madrid: April 24, 2013

Injury has robbed us of the Mbappe v Lewandowski showdown we crave and the quarter-final first leg might have panned out differently if Bayern had been able to call upon their attacking talisman.

Lewandowski's deadly finishing has been a constant over the past decade and he produced a breakout performance in the 2013 semi-finals against Real Madrid, while still at Borussia Dortmund.

The Poland striker reached to volley home Mario Gotze's eighth-minute cross and controlled Marco Reus' mis-hit shot to finish smartly early in the second half – prompting a run of three goals in 16 minutes as Lewandowski showed immaculate close control to rifle into the top corner before converting a penalty in similarly emphatic fashion.

All Lewandowski's goals came from inside the area, all with his right foot as he netted four of five attempts on target (seven in total) to fire Dortmund towards an all-Bundesliga final against his future employers.

Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid 4-2 Bayern Munich (aet): April 18, 2017

Mbappe has the opportunity to build on eight goals in this season's competition in the return against Bayern – the joint-most by a French player in a single campaign alongside Wissam Ben Yedder (2017-18) and David Trezeguet (2001-02).

In terms of huge one-season hauls, Ronaldo sets the gold standard. His 17 en-route to glory with Real Madrid in 2013-14 were followed by 16 in 2015-16 and 15 in 2017-18 as Los Blancos claimed three in a row.

In between, when Madrid went all the way in 2016-17, Ronaldo's personal total was – by his own remarkable standards – a relatively meagre 12. However, six of these came in quarter-final and semi-final hat-tricks versus Bayern and Atletico Madrid.

The Bayern treble was the most dramatic as Madrid diced with elimination. They lost 2-1 in 90 minutes at the Santiago Bernabeu but Ronaldo would not be denied, netting in the 76th minute and then twice more in extra time to complete a perfect hat-trick from nine attempts, five of which were on target.

Cristiano Ronaldo – Juventus 3-0 Atletico Madrid: March 12, 2019

Ronaldo's ambition of winning a sixth Champions League at a third club looks set to come up short after Juventus's meek exit against Porto last month. But during his first season in Turin, everything appeared to be falling into place against a familiar foe.

Atletico Madrid won the first leg of the last-16 encounter 2-0, but the writing was on the wall from the moment Ronaldo powered in a towering back-post header in the 27th minute.

Early in the second half, Jan Oblak could only claw away another headed Ronaldo attempt from behind the goal line and the Atlei goalkeeper had no chance when faced with penalty from the Portugal great five minutes from time.

Ronaldo netted with all three of his attempts on target, while his five efforts overall on the night had an xG value of 1.39.

Lucas Moura – Ajax 2-3 Tottenham: May 8, 2019

The 2018-19 season provided relentless drama when it came to improbable comebacks and Tottenham were surely down and out when 2-0 behind after 35 minutes Amsterdam, nursing a 3-0 semi-final aggregate deficit against an Ajax side who had already seen off Real Madrid and Juventus. Enter Lucas Moura.

The Brazilian forward, leading the line for Spurs in Harry Kane's injury absence, streamed into the Ajax penalty area to pull one back early in the second half and by the time he engineered space to dispatch a fine left-footed finish in the 59th minute, the whole complexion of the contest had changed.

Five minutes of stoppage time had just expired when Lucas clipped a third with his trusty left boot to break Ajax hearts. Opta began collecting xG data in the Champions League in 2013-14. Of the hat-tricks on this list with those figures available, Lucas' is the only one with an overall shot value (0.88) below an xG of one.

Kylian Mbappe – Barcelona 1-4 Paris Saint-Germain: February 16, 2021

Despite Messi putting Barcelona ahead with a first-half penalty, Mbappe soon took charge. Magnificent close control, nimble movement and a thumping finish with his left brought PSG level.

Mbappe was again happy to crash home with his weaker foot on the other side of half-time and curled in a majestic strike on the counter-attack after Moise Kean made it three. Four of his six attempts (xG 1.84) were on target in an all-action display.

It made Mbappe the third player in Champions League history to score a hat-trick against Barcelona after Faustino Asprilla for Newcastle United and Andriy Shevchenko for Dynamo Kiev in 1997.

Kylian Mbappe – Bayern Munich 2-3 Paris Saint-Germain: April 7, 2021

Mauricio Pochettino's men overwhelmed Barcelona at Camp Nou but were forced to play a different game against Bayern last week, spending long spells on the back foot.

This gave Mbappe the chance to show his ruthless side as he scored from each of his two shots, albeit helped by an error from Manuel Neuer for the opener. A fit-again Neymar laid on that goal and he and Mbappe have assisted one another 10 times in the Champions League since joining forces in 2017-18 – at least three more than any other pair during this period.

Neymar also set up compatriot Marquinhos to make it 2-0 before Eric Maxim Choupo Moting and Thomas Muller brought Bayern level.

Mbappe's electrifying pace and unerring poise were again on display when he cut inside Jerome Boateng to send the winner fizzing past Neuer at his near post. His five away goals in the knockout rounds is already a single-season record in the Champions League. To earn the chance to add to that number, there is first some mouth-watering business to attend to at Parc des Princes.

Neymar has credited Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappe for helping him adapt to Ligue 1 saying he taught him 'to be French'.

The 29-year-old Brazil international has been with PSG since 2017, winning numerous honours including three Ligue 1 titles and reaching last season's UEFA Champions League final.

Neymar has formed a close bond with 22-year-old Mbappe, who he's played alongside since his move from Monaco in 2017.

"He taught me a lot about the way 'to be French'… He explained to me the French mentality," Neymar told France Football.

"I owe a large part of my adaptation to him, and, therefore, my happiness to be here."

Neymar lavished praise on Mbappe from both a personal and football side, labeling him PSG's 'golden boy'.

"First of all, I was very touched by the man he is," he said. "Kylian is very considerate, always happy, polite and kind to everyone.

"He is a very beautiful person. That’s why we’ve got along so well since our first contact.

"Then, of course, I had the opportunity to watch him train, to observe his speed, his dribbling repertoire, his intelligence and to see his humility to keep evolving. There, I said to myself: ‘he is our golden boy!’.

"Speed alone doesn't mean anything. You have to be smart to use it properly, and Kylian is. He is not only very smart and fast, but he also has a huge repertoire of dribbling."

Bayern Munich head coach Hansi Flick is "absolutely convinced" Kylian Mbappe will win the Ballon d'Or in his career.

Mbappe was the star of the show in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final tie between Bayern and Paris Saint-Germain, scoring twice as the holders were beaten 3-2 in Germany.

Should the 22-year-old score in the return fixture in Paris, he will become the first French player to reach nine goals in a single Champions League season.

Mbappe has scored 33 goals and provided 10 assists in 39 games this season in all competitions. Only Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski (42) has scored more, while only the Poland star (50) and Tottenham's Harry Kane (45) have had more direct goal involvements.

Ahead of the second leg on Tuesday, Flick explained why there is no doubt in his mind that Mbappe will one day be crowned the best player in the world.

"He will win the Ballon d'Or one day, I am absolutely convinced of that," said Flick. "He has everything. He is fast, he has good technique and – most importantly – he scores a lot of goals."

Bayern forward Thomas Muller also admires Mbappe and accepts the Bundesliga champions' system will always make it risky to play against the PSG attack.

"He is very dangerous," said Muller. "With our style of play, space will automatically be created.

"Neymar and Mbappe usually stay up front, they don't defend but they stay in a dangerous situation for a counter-attacking chance. You're never going to be able to keep them out of the game completely."

Bayern had gone 17 Champions League games without defeat under Flick until PSG's victory last week and must now end a four-game losing away run against PSG if they are to progress.

Only three of the previous 50 teams to lose the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie have gone through to the next round, but one such instance involved PSG, when they were stunned by Manchester United at the last-16 stage two seasons ago.

"We had many chances in the first leg, but weren't so clinical. We have to do better. We know it won't be easy, but we will give everything," said Flick.

"We know we have to score at least two goals. It will be a tough task, but these are the games we play football for. We want to cause a mini upset in Paris. Of course, we'll be delighted if we manage that."

Where will Kylian Mbappe be playing next season is a question being asked across Europe.

The Paris Saint-Germain star has been tipped to join Real Madrid.

Should Mbappe depart Paris, PSG are reportedly drawing up a list of replacements.

 

TOP STORY – KANE AND SALAH WANTED IN PARIS

Paris Saint-Germain have set their sights on Tottenham forward Harry Kane and Liverpool star Mohamed Salah as possible replacements for Kylian Mbappe, according to Telefoot.

Mbappe has been heavily linked with LaLiga champions Real Madrid, though PSG remain in negotiations over a contract extension.

While PSG are still hopeful, the Ligue 1 holders are eyeing the Premier League should Mbappe leave the French capital.

Kane is reportedly wanted by Manchester United and Manchester City, while Salah has previously been linked with Madrid and Barcelona.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato reports Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid are chasing Inter midfielder Nicolo Barella. The Sun adds Chelsea are also interested in the Italy star.

Juventus and PSG could exchange Mauro Icardi and Paulo Dybala in a swap deal, says Corriere dello Sport. Icardi's future is up in the air, despite only joining PSG permanently from Inter last year, while countryman Dybala is reportedly nearing an exit.

- AS Diario claims United are keeping tabs on Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres, who has also been linked with neighbours City. United have also been credited with interest in Sevilla defender Jules Kounde, RB Leipzig's Liverpool target Ibrahima Konate as well as Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and team-mate Raphael Varane.

- Eintracht Frankfurt boss Adi Hutter is set to replace outgoing boss Marco Rose at Borussia Monchengladbach, reports Kicker. Rose is poised to take charge of Borussia Dortmund.

What does the future hold for Kylian Mbappe and Cristiano Ronaldo?

Mbappe has been heavily linked with Real Madrid, while Ronaldo's future at Juventus is far from certain.

A possible switch to the Spanish capital could reportedly impact Ronaldo.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE OUT, RONALDO IN AT PSG?

Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo could join Paris Saint-Germain if Kylian Mbappe leaves for Real Madrid, according to Tuttosport.

Mbappe has long been tipped to swap Ligue 1 holders PSG for LaLiga champions Madrid, who have been linked with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Inter forward Romelu Lukaku.

If Mbappe makes the move to the Santiago Bernabeu, it could send Ronald to Paris as Juve look to reduce their wage bill in Turin.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Athletic reports Harry Kane will ask to leave Tottenham if they do not qualify for next season's Champions League. The Spurs star has been linked with Manchester United, Manchester City and Madrid.

Barcelona are eyeing Tottenham defender Davinson Sanchez, claims Mundo Deportivo. The LaLiga giants are not rumoured to be interested in Bayern Munich's Jerome Boateng, who is set to depart Bavaria at season's end.

- The Mirror says Liverpool are interested in signing Barca star Pedri, who reportedly has a release clause around £70million (€81m).

United have been warned West Ham will not accept an offer to include Jesse Lingard as part of a deal to prise Declan Rice to Old Trafford, claims The Sun. United are also keen to bring back Sam Johnstone from West Brom if David de Gea or Dean Henderson leave.

- Bild says Liverpool are entering the final stages of a deal for RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate. Premier League rivals United have also been linked.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino insists it was not a risk to play Kylian Mbappe for almost the entirety of Saturday's 4-1 triumph over Strasbourg, just three days before their crucial Bayern Munich clash.

Mbappe scored twice as PSG defeated Bayern 3-2 in Munich in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie on Wednesday.

The France forward was influential again as he scored and set up another at the Stade de la Meinau to help PSG cut the gap to Ligue 1 leaders Lille back to three points.

PSG were 3-0 up by half-time, with Pablo Sarabia and Moise Kean also on target, but Mbappe was not withdrawn until the 89th minute.

Asked if that was a risk by Canal+, Pochettino replied: "No. You need to remember that he played 88 minutes against Brest in the Coupe de France and the best thing for Kylian to get him ready is to play. 

"He is the first to sense if there is something wrong. He will be the first to tell me, like all the players. 

"We are professionals, we have a performance and medical staff and we try to make the best decisions for the team. 

"People can say whatever they want, that is football. Sometimes we have our truth and we can't make everyone happy. 

"But Kylian is a player who is happy when he's on the pitch and he knows himself very well."

Pochettino was asked if PSG beating Bayern would represent the club's best achievement in recent years but the Argentinian was reluctant to make such judgements.

"I do not know. It's up to you to be the judge. For us, it's our goal to be ready on Tuesday," he added.

"It was important to beat Barcelona [in the last 16] and for me we are going to play the best team in the world. 

"We still have 90 minutes in which we will suffer but our objective is to beat them and go to the next round."

PSG were beaten by league leaders Lille at home last week and were six points adrift prior to kick-off.

Pochettino felt his side showed they have the mettle to compete on three remaining fronts this term with their win over Strasbourg.

"We were talking about it before the game. It was very important to take these three points because we remain in the title race thanks to them," he said. 

"For us, it's not a question of pressure or of playing while being anxious, we have to be efficient. 

"Today, we showed that we were fighters in the way of playing that we want to have and that's how we want to be. 

"We have to be more consistent but we fight in three competitions: the cup, the championship and the Champions League. 

"It complicates things but the team have shown significant faith and believe in what they do. Today was a good day for us."

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