Gareth Bale will bring up the seventh anniversary of his then world-record switch from Tottenham to Real Madrid on Tuesday with his career in the Spanish capital at a low ebb.

Out of favour under head coach Zinedine Zidane, the Wales international lurked on the margins, barely visible as Los Blancos claimed a sweet LaLiga title triumph at Barcelona 's expense last season.

The 31-year-old is effectively a luxury sports car consigned to the garage, save for frequent trips out with the golf clubs on the back seat.

Bale has won four Champions Leagues at Madrid, scoring crucially in two of the finals – deeds befitting of a club great.

That is a distinction now set to pass him by, even if the numbers below show it was once his trajectory.

AMONG LALIGA'S ELITE

Since Bale's debut for Carlo Ancelotti's Madrid, where he netted a first-half equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Villarreal, he has scored 80 goals in Spain's top flight.

Over his period in the division, that places him eighth overall, behind Lionel Messi (275), Cristiano Ronaldo (199), Luis Suarez (147), Antoine Griezmann (129), Karim Benzema (125), Iago Aspas (103) and Aritz Aduriz (96).

Unquestionably, that amounts to being in elite company, while his 40 assists are also not too shabby, putting him joint 13th overall.

Once again, Messi is out in front to a ludicrous degree with 112 assists. His Barcelona team-mate – for now at least – Luis Suarez (69) is next and Atletico Madrid's Koke (67) is third.

Benzema and Ronaldo, his colleagues in the once-fabled BBC forward line are the only Madrid players to lay on more goals than Bale, with 66 and 57 assists respectively.

HITTING THE HEIGHTS

Zidane's arrival for his first stint in charge of Madrid can now be viewed as the beginning of the end for Bale, but when they won the first of three consecutive Champions Leagues in 2015-16, he was in prime form.

In that campaign, which ended with the forward inspiring his country on a surprise run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016, Bale scored 19 LaLiga goals and provided 10 assists.

That made 2015-16 his most prolific goalscoring season in the top flight, with 16 in 2017-18 and 15 in his debut season, when he made 12 assists, coming next.

He scored his goals at a shade over one every 91 minutes – the only time in his Madrid career he dipped under 112 minutes per goal.

FALLING WORK RATE AND INURY WOES

Fitness issues have dogged Bale throughout his time in LaLiga, with calf complaints a regrettable recurring theme.

Since his opening two seasons at the club, he has failed to play more than 2,000 minutes in a campaign, having racked up 2,069 and 2,581 in 2013-14 and 2014-15 respectively.

Perhaps as a result of concerns over how well his body might hold up, there is also evidence of a decline in Bale's propensity to do the dirty work,

In his lone season under Ancelotti, he made 85 recoveries in league games and has not topped 50 since 2015-16.

In that prolific 2015-16 season, Bale played 1,738 minutes compared to 1,792 in 2018-19 However, his recoveries from those two years dipped from 52 to 36. Interceptions dropped from 20 to 11 and instances of him winning possession in the final third halved from 10 to five.

On the latter metric, Bale has never topped the 14 times he won the ball deep into opposition territory in 2013-14 – doing so only once in an injury interrupted 2016-17.

CAST ASIDE BY ZIDANE

Injuries are, of course, not the main reason for Bale's dwindling involvement in 2019-20. His 1,091 minutes in LaLiga are comfortably his lowest since arriving at Madrid.

He last started back-to-back games on February 16. To underline what could have been accomplished between that date and now, Messi managed 11 goals and nine assists - both divisional bests - in the timeframe.

Madrid team-mates Benzema and Sergio Ramos scored eight and six times respectively to stand as heroes of a memorable title triumph before masked spectator Bale.

As what remains of his prime is whittled away inside a gilded Santiago Bernabeu cage, it all seems so wasteful and unnecessary for all parties. Particularly for a player who touched greatness for significant parts of the previous decade.

With Donny van de Beek set to arrive, are Manchester United targeting another new signing?

RB Leipzig defender and France international Dayot Upamecano is reportedly high on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's list as the United manager eyes a partner for captain Harry Maguire.

It could be a busy transfer window for United.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED WANT UPAMECANO

Manchester United are targeting RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano, according to ESPN.

United are poised to complete the signing of star Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek and the Red Devils are now eyeing further recruits.

While United continue to pursue Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho, the Premier League giants have made French defender Upamecano – who signed a new deal until 2023 – a top transfer target. Upamecano has also been linked to the likes of Bayern Munich and Arsenal.

 

ROUND-UP

Lionel Messi wants to leave Barcelona but his possible move to Manchester City could prove difficult. Tuesday's Mundo Deportivo claims City will abandon their bid to bring Messi to Manchester if they are forced to pay a transfer fee for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner. Messi feels he is a free agent following the 2019-20 season.

- Fabrizio Romano reports United expect to receive a bid from Roma for defender Chris Smalling, who spent the 2019-20 season on loan in the Italian capital. It comes as the Red Devils eye a new centre-back.

- Sky Sport reports Milan are set to complete a one-year loan deal for Real Madrid's Brahim Diaz. The 21-year-old Spaniard has struggled for game time since arriving in 2019. Le10 Sport, meanwhile, says Milan are very interested in Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare, who has been previously linked to the likes of United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Madrid.

James Rodriguez is on the cusp of leaving Madrid for Carlo Ancelotti's Everton, according to Romano.

- Calciomercato claims Juventus forward Gonzalo Higuain is in advanced talks to join former team-mate Blaise Matuidi at David Beckham's Inter Miami in MLS.

Arturo Vidal wants to terminate his Barca contract, says Sky Sport Italia. Gianluca Di Marzio also reports Inter are already in talks about signing the former Juve midfielder.

- France Football says Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly has agreed personal terms with City amid interest from United and PSG.

LA Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said he would love to see Lionel Messi play in MLS as the Barcelona superstar reportedly eyes a move to Manchester City.

Messi did not feature in Barca's first day of pre-season training under new boss Ronald Koeman on Monday after the six-time Ballon d'Or winner handed in a transfer request.

As with Sunday's coronavirus testing for members of Koeman's first-team squad, Messi did not attend because he believes a clause in his contract allowing him to leave on a free transfer is now active, meaning he is no longer a Barcelona player.

Pep Guardiola's City are believed to be the frontrunners to sign Messi and the Premier League giants have reportedly offered a long-term contract that would end with the 33-year-old playing for sister club New York City in MLS.

Schelotto, whose Galaxy were previously linked with a move for Messi, was asked about the Argentina skipper possibly moving to the United States.

"I was shocked when I heard about Messi's decision about abandoning FC Barcelona because we all thought he was going to retire there," fellow Argentinian Schelotto told reporters.

"But he must have his reasons and as a fellow Argentine I wish him the best always and I hope he comes to the MLS, it would be great."

Messi has called Barca home since 2001, emerging from the club's famed youth system in 2004.

Since making his debut 16 years ago, Messi has won a club-record 33 trophies – including 10 LaLiga titles and four Champions League crowns.

Messi – linked to Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Inter – also holds the records for most goals scored for LaLiga giants Barca.

Atletico Madrid will have to wait until gameweek three to kick off their LaLiga campaign against Granada at the Wanda Metropolitano. 

Atleti's participation in the Champions League quarter-finals in August means their scheduled first two games against Levante and Sevilla will take place later in the season.

Diego Simeone's side, who finished third last season, will first face off against Barcelona on the weekend of November 21/22 before a derby clash against Real Madrid on December 12/13.

Should there be no further coronavirus-related delays to the season they will round off their campaign away to Real Valladolid in late May.

Atletico Madrid's fixtures in full:
September 26/27 - Atletico Madrid v Granada 
September 29/30 - Huesca v Atletico Madrid
October 3/4 - Atletico Madrid v Villarreal
October 17/18 - Celta Vigo v Atletico Madrid
October 25/26 - Atletico Madrid v Real Betis
October 31/November 1 - Osasuna v Atletico Madrid
November 7/8 - Atletico Madrid v Cadiz
November 21/22 - Atletico Madrid v Barcelona
November 28/29 - Valencia v Atletico Madrid
December 5/6 - Atletico Madrid v Real Valladolid
December 12/13 - Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid
December 19/20 - Atletico Madrid v Elche
December 22/23/24 - Real Sociedad v Atletico Madrid
December 29/30 - Atletico Madrid v Getafe
January 2/3 - Alaves v Atletico Madrid
January 9/10 - Atletico Madrid v Athletic Bilbao
January 19/20 - Eibar v Atletico Madrid
January 23/24 - Atletico Madrid v Valencia
January 30/31 - Cadiz v Atletico Madrid
February 6/7 - Atletico Madrid v Celta Vigo
February 13/14 - Granada v Atletico Madrid
February 20/21 - Atletico Madrid v Levante
February 27/28 - Villarreal v Atletico Madrid
March 6/7 - Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid
March 13/14 - Getafe v Atletico Madrid
March 20/21 - Atletico Madrid v Alaves
April 3/4 - Sevilla v Atletico Madrid
April 10/11 - Real Betis v Atletico Madrid
April 20/21 - Atletico Madrid v Huesca
April 24/25 - Athletic Bilbao v Atletico Madrid
April 27/28 - Atletico Madrid v Eibar
May 1/2 - Elche v Atletico Madrid
May 8/9 - Barcelona v Atletico Madrid
May 11/12 - Atletico Madrid v Real Sociedad
May 15/16 - Atletico Madrid v Osasuna
May 22/23 - Real Valladolid v Atletico Madrid

TBC - Atletico Madrid v Sevilla, Levante v Atletico Madrid

Real Madrid's defence of their LaLiga title will be delayed slightly, but they will not have to wait long to face their Clasico rivals.

Los Blancos dethroned Barcelona to win LaLiga following the resumption of the 2019-20 season after the coronavirus-enforced hiatus.

Because of their involvement in the Champions League in August, Madrid's fixture with Getafe - scheduled for matchday one - will not take place until an appropriate date in February or March.

Zinedine Zidane's men will instead travel to Real Sociedad for a tricky opening clash, with the first Clasico coming just over a month later at Camp Nou as Madrid are provided with an early opportunity to steal a march in the title race.

The return fixture between Madrid and Ronald Koeman's Barca is scheduled for April 11 and could potentially be decisive in the fight for the championship.

Real Madrid's fixtures in full:

September 20 - Real Sociedad v Real Madrid
September 27 - Real Betis v Real Madrid
September 30 - Real Madrid v Real Valladolid
October 4 - Levante v Real Madrid
October 18 - Real Madrid v Cadiz
October 25 - Barcelona v Real Madrid
November 1 - Real Madrid v Huesca
November 8 - Valencia v Real Madrid
November 22 - Villarreal v Real Madrid
November 29 - Real Madrid v Deportivo Alaves
December 6 - Sevilla v Real Madrid
December 13 - Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid
December 20 - Eibar v Real Madrid
December 23 - Real Madrid v Granada
December 30 - Elche v Real Madrid
January 3 - Real Madrid v Celta Vigo
January 10 - Osasuna v Real Madrid
January 20 - Real Madrid v Athletic Bilbao
January 24 - Deportivo Alaves v Real Madrid
January 31 - Real Madrid v Levante
February 7 - Huesca v Real Madrid
February 14 - Real Madrid v Valencia
February 21 - Real Valladolid v Real Madrid
February 28 - Real Madrid v Real Sociedad
March 7 - Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid
March 14 - Real Madrid v Elche
March 21 - Celta Vigo v Real Madrid
April 4 - Real Madrid v Eibar
April 11 - Real Madrid v Barcelona
April 21 - Cadiz v Real Madrid
April 25 - Real Madrid v Real Betis
April 28 - Getafe v Real Madrid
May 2 - Real Madrid v Osasuna
May 9 - Real Madrid v Sevilla
May 12 - Granada v Real Madrid
May 16 - Atletic Bilbao v Real Madrid
May 23 - Real Madrid v Villarreal
TBC - Real Madrid v Getafe 

Lionel Messi did not take part in Barcelona's first day of pre-season training under Ronald Koeman as the six-time Ballon d'Or winner continues to angle for a move away from Camp Nou.

Messi stunned the footballing world by informing Barca of his intention to leave last week via an already infamous burofax.

As with Sunday's coronavirus testing for members of Koeman's first-team squad, Messi did not attend because he believes a clause in his contract allowing him to leave on a free transfer is now active, meaning he is no longer a Barcelona player.

This is a version of events disputed by both the club and LaLiga, which issued a statement on Sunday to underline its stance that Messi's huge €700million release clause remains valid within a contract that expires next June.

Manchester City and Messi's former coach Pep Guardiola have been widely touted as the frontrunners for the wantaway star, with further developments expected over the course of the coming week.

Koeman is reported to have indicated to Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal that their futures lie elsewhere, but they both trained among a 19-man group, with a host of senior players away on international duty.

Ivan Rakitic was given permission to miss training as he closes in on a return to Europa League winners Sevilla.

LaLiga announced its fixture schedule for 2020-21 on Monday, with Barcelona given the first two matchweeks off due to their European commitments earlier this month before starting against Villarreal at Camp Nou on September 27.

Ronald Koeman learned how his first campaign at the helm of Barcelona will run on Monday, when LaLiga announced its schedule for 2020-21.

The first Clasico of the season takes place at Camp Nou on October 25, with the return clash against bitter rivals Real Madrid in April.

What shape Koeman's Barca are in by the time of the initial encounter is anyone's guess as the Dutchman picks through the rubble of an 8-2 Champions League quarter-final defeat to Bayern Munich that saw his predecessor Quique Setien sacked and contributed to Lionel Messi's transfer request bombshell.

If Barcelona regain the title from Madrid from this point, it would be a considerable achievement. Here is how they must go about it.

 #ElClásico in @LaLigaEN!

 Matchday 7
 25/10/2020
 Barça - Madrid. Camp Nou

 Matchday 30
 11/04/2021
 Madrid - Barça. Santiago Bernabéu pic.twitter.com/6tPW2ZgGt7

— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 31, 2020 September 27 – Barcelona v Villarreal
September 30 – Celta Vigo v Barcelona
October 4 – Barcelona v Sevilla
October 18 – Getafe v Barcelona
October 25 – Barcelona v Real Madrid
November 1 – Deportivo Alaves v Barcelona
November 8 – Barcelona v Real Betis
November 22 – Atletico Madrid v Barcelona
November 29 – Barcelona v Osasuna
December 6 – Cadiz v Barcelona
December 13 – Barcelona v Levante
December 20 – Barcelona v Valencia
December 23 – Real Valladolid v Barcelona
December 30 – Barcelona v Eibar
January 3 – Huesca v Barcelona
January 5 – Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona
January 10 – Granada v Barcelona
January 20 – Barcelona v Real Sociedad
January 24 – Elche v Barcelona
January 31 – Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao
February 7 – Real Betis v Barcelona
February 14 – Barcelona v Deportivo Alaves
February 21 – Barcelona v Cadiz
February 28 – Sevilla v Barcelona
March 7 – Osasuna v Barcelona
March 14 – Barcelona v Huesca
March 21 – Real Sociedad v Barcelona
April 4 – Barcelona v Real Valladolid
April 11 – Real Madrid v Barcelona
April 21 – Barcelona v Getafe
April 25 – Villarreal v Barcelona
April 28 – Barcelona v Granada
May 2 – Valencia v Barcelona
May 9 – Barcelona v Atletico Madrid
May 12 – Levante v Barcelona
May 16 – Barcelona v Celta Vigo
May 23 – Eibar v Barcelona
TBC – Barcelona v Elche

Barcelona will host Real Madrid in the first the first Clasico of 2020-21 on October 25 after LaLiga announced its fixture schedule for the forthcoming season.

The return between the two great rivals comes next April 11 on matchday 30, when fans could be back at the Santiago Bernabeu with the title on the line.

Atletico Madrid will welcome Barca – who have endured a tempestuous start to Ronaldo Koeman's reign as head coach due to Lionel Messi's transfer request and subsequent no-show for pre-season preparations – to the Wanda Metropolitano on November 22, a month before the first Madrid derby of the season across town on December 13.

Ateti's home derby comes on March 7, while they face Barca at Camp Nou on May 9 – the 35th matchweek.

Along with Getafe and Europa League winners Sevilla, LaLiga's big three will contribute to a staggered start to the campaign on account of their European involvement.

All five will sit out the opening weekend of September 12-13, with Atletico's scheduled home-match against Sevilla to take place in January 12.

Real Madrid versus Getafe and Barcelona versus promotion play-off winners Elche, also part of the listed matchweek one schedule, will take place on suitable European competition dates in February and March next year.

Madrid then get under way the following weekend at Real Sociedad, who will hope to have new marquee signing David Silva fit and available after the former Manchester City playmaker tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Sevilla, Barca and Atleti, owing to their somewhat contrasting experiences in the final stages of UEFA tournaments this month, will not begin LaLiga action until September 27, with Koeman's side at home to Villarreal, Diego Simeone's men hosting Granada and Sevilla travelling to newly promoted Cadiz.

Segunda Division champions Huesca are away to Villarreal on the opening weekend, with Cadiz welcoming Osasuna.

LALIGA OPENING WEEKEND FIXTURES

Deportivo Alaves v Real Betis
Atletico Madrid v Sevilla (rescheduled for January 12, 2021)
Barcelona v Elche (rescheduled for February/March 2021 on European competition dates)
Eibar v Celta Vigo
Cadiz v Osasuna
Granada v Athletic Bilbao
Real Madrid v Getafe (rescheduled for February/March 2021 on European competition dates)
Valencia v Levante
Real Valladolid v Real Sociedad
Villarreal v Huesca

Real Sociedad's new signing David Silva has tested positive for COVID-19.

The 34-year-old, who joined the LaLiga side this month after leaving Manchester City, is asymptomatic and has already begun a period of self-isolation. 

News the midfielder has contracted coronavirus came just hours after he was presented to the media at Sociedad's Reale Arena on Monday.

The club tweeted: "Sociedad informs that @21LVA has tested positive for COVID-19 in the test carried out at Policlínica Gipuzkoa.

"The player is asymptomatic and is self-isolating."

Sociedad's LaLiga campaign kicks off with a trip to Real Valladolid on September 13.

David Silva says his sights are firmly set on winning silverware with Real Sociedad following his switch from Manchester City. 

The 34-year-old, who won four Premier League titles, the EFL Cup five times and the FA Cup twice during his time with City, agreed terms on a two-year deal with the Basque club earlier this month. 

Sociedad finished sixth in LaLiga in the 2019-20 campaign, though they won just two of their 11 fixtures following the restart.

Silva, though, has seen enough to suggest his new side could challenge Barcelona and Real Madrid for honours in the coming seasons 

"I'm really excited to get started here and meet my new team-mates and the club staff," he told a media conference.

"The team is playing some great football and I hope to add to that here and have some great years at the club.

"I have high expectations in terms of the football we'll be playing and I think we can compete for silverware.

"I'll be an important part of the team and in this case, because of my experience, I'll help the younger players as well.

"I've been lucky enough to win a lot of things in my career, I'm very competitive and I'm going to try and do the same here because that's why I've been brought in."

Silva, who has played for Valencia, Eibar and Celta Vigo in his home country, acknowledged Sociedad's place in next season's Europa League was a motivating factor in his decision to join the club.

"Of course, after so many years playing in Europe, you want to continue doing that," he explained.

"I also came because I like the style of football the team plays. I also came for the relaxed way of life here which I was already familiar with having lived in the Basque Country years ago."

Lionel Messi's exit from Barcelona is "irrevocable" according to prospective Camp Nou presidential candidate Toni Freixa, who expects the superstar forward to join Manchester City.

Messi shook world football last week by handing in his notice to leave Barcelona, who he joined as a 13-year-old.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner's future could now become the subject of legal wrangling, with the Messi camp believing he is entitled to walk away from the final year of his Barca deal for free, while LaLiga issued a statement on Sunday to confirm its stance that the player's mammoth €700million release clause is still valid.

Messi did not show up for Barcelona's pre-season coronavirus testing on Sunday and is not expected to attend the first training session under newly installed head coach Ronald Koeman on Monday.

City are widely viewed as the frontrunners for Messi's signature and, once the considerable dust from the affair has settled, Freixa believes the 33-year-old will be reunited with his former coach Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium.

"As I have heard from several sides, the decision in the player has matured over several years and is irrevocable. I don't believe that there is any going back," Freixa told Goal.

"I think a move to Man City is likely. With Pep, Messi experienced his most brilliant years in Barcelona.

"It would only be logical if both of them worked together again. City, like almost all English clubs, also has the financial means to build a team that can win anything.

"Messi is a player who strives for maximum success. He alone cannot achieve maximum success, he needs a team for that. He does not have one.

"Since the treble in 2015, [Champions League] success is missing. That is what concerns him. His decision is due to the negative sporting development in recent years."

Freixa told Radio Marca last week he was "disappointed" by Messi's unilateral move to end his Barcelona career, claiming it was made "without respecting" the club.

However, he believes incumbent president Josep Maria Bartomeu must take a hefty share of the blame for a situation he views as "a disaster".

"The president is the main person in charge and primarily measured by the team's successes on the pitch. If these fail to materialise and an important figure such as Messi then thinks he can be more successful elsewhere, this naturally falls back on the main person responsible," he said.

"Bartomeu is certainly partly to blame for the situation, because a president also has the task of establishing a close relationship with the team's protagonists, with the coach and the captains.

"Over the years, he has not succeeded in this. He could not prevent Messi from seeing a change of club as the only alternative for himself. That is a disaster. However: there is never just one guilty one."

The Messi saga continues a tempestuous couple of weeks for Barcelona in the wake of their humiliating 8-2 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.

Head coach Quique Setien followed sporting director Eric Abidal out of the door, while Luis Suarez is one of a number of senior players Koeman is thought to have deemed surplus to requirements.

Martin Braithwaite refuted claims he has already asked for the Barcelona number 10 shirt worn by Lionel Messi.

A report in Spain claimed Braithwaite had brought up the prospect of taking on the iconic jersey in negotiations with the Blaugrana.

Messi has informed Barca of his desire to leave Camp Nou, with Manchester City widely linked with a stunning move for the Catalan club's greatest ever player.

But Braithwaite insisted he made no such demand and called the mere suggestion "so disrespectful".

"What do people think themselves? Of course I did not go to the club and ask for Messi's number," he told Danish newspaper BT. "It would be so disrespectful.

"I really feel that the people who come up with these kinds of stories lack respect for a lot of people.

"A lot of things are being written about Messi and I do not know what is happening. I can only say that he is a great player and person to be team-mates with.

"It goes without saying what he can do as a football player when he shows it every weekend. He is one of the best players ever and, of course, it will be a loss for the club if he disappears.

"I hope it does not happen, but I do not know what is happening, so I do not want to comment on something I do not know anything about."

Braithwaite is more certain of his own future at Barca, having signed a contract until 2024 when he joined from Leganes in February.

"There are, of course, a lot of rumours," he said. "Our whole team has been linked away, so it's only natural that I, too, have been linked.

"This is how it is to play at Barcelona when you do not achieve the club's goal."

Braithwaite added: "I have a contract for four more years with Barcelona.

"I'm having a great time at the club and they're happy with me, it seems, so I have a really good sense of where I am.

"To be honest, I have not had any talks about changing clubs with anyone at all. You're the first one I talk to about it, because I have not had a single thought about it at all.

"I'm just thinking about how to prepare to play well for Barcelona next season. I'm insanely hungry to get out next season and win a lot of titles."

Allan will join Everton, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has confirmed.

Brazil international Allan is set to finally depart Napoli in a reported £25million (€27.9m) deal after repeated talk of a move away from the Serie A club in recent years.

A €100m transfer to Paris Saint-Germain was mooted in 2019 when Carlo Ancelotti was in charge of the Partenopei.

But Allan is instead now heading to Merseyside to link up with Ancelotti again at Goodison Park, De Laurentiis says.

He told Radio Kiss Kiss: "We are at the final greetings. Allan will go to Everton."

Allan, 29, joined Napoli from Udinese in 2015 and has since made over 150 Serie A appearances for the club, also winning the Coppa Italia last season.

Everton have also been widely linked with a move for James Rodriguez, another of Ancelotti's former players, from Real Madrid.

Manchester United fans have been waiting for a new face to arrive and their patience is set to be rewarded.

Despite reported interest from Barcelona, Real Madrid and Tottenham, Ajax's Donny van de Beek is poised for Old Trafford.

Will there be more arrivals at United?

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD TO SIGN VAN DE BEEK

Manchester United have agreed a fee to sign Ajax star Donny van de Beek, according to The Guardian and widespread reports.

Van de Beek has been linked to United, Barcelona and Real Madrid, while Tottenham were also reportedly interested.

But United are set to complete their first serious transfer ahead of the 2020-21 season in a deal reportedly worth £35.7m (€40m) plus add-ons.

 

ROUND-UP

Chelsea are close to signing Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz, reports Sport Bild. Fabrizio Romano, meanwhile, says it is only a matter of time before the Germany international completes a €100m (£89m) switch.

Sandro Tonali will join Milan, claims Romano. The Brescia sensation had been tipped to move to Inter, however, Milan are set to sign Tonali on an initial loan deal.

- Calciomercato reports Juventus want to sell Douglas Costa amid links to United. New head coach Andrea Pirlo wants to overhaul his squad.

- La Gazzetta dello Sport says Barca are considering Lazio striker Ciro Immobile as a replacement for Luis Suarez, who has been linked to Juve. Immobile finished as Serie A's top goalscorer last season.

- According to Super Deporte, Valencia are considering a move for Arsenal outcast Matteo Guendouzi.

Barca are working on reuniting Liverpool star Georginio Wijnaldum with former Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman, says Mundo Deportivo. Koeman will lead Barca after leaving his international post to replace Quique Setien.

- The Mirror claims Liverpool are ready to make an offer for Watford's Ismaila Sarr, who is valued at £40m.

- Antonio Conte has requested Inter sign N'Golo Kante from Chelsea, says Tuttomercatoweb. Inter are reportedly hoping to land the Frenchman initially on loan with the option to buy. It comes as Inter look to raise funds through the sales of players like Roberto Gagliardini, Matias Vecino and Marcelo Brozovic.

- Journalist Fredrik A.N. Filtvedt claims United are interested in Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara. Liverpool have been tipped to sign the Spaniard.

Arturo Vidal said Barcelona have to "change a lot of things" as their DNA is being left behind amid the club's crisis, which could see Lionel Messi sensationally leave.

Messi has handed in a transfer request and the Barca captain is reportedly wanted by Pep Guardiola's Manchester City in the Premier League, while Paris Saint-Germain, Inter and Juventus have also been linked.

It comes after Barca were dethroned by bitter rivals Real Madrid in LaLiga and humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the 2019-20 Champions League quarter-finals, with Ronald Koeman replacing Quique Setien – who was only appointed head coach in January.

And Barca midfielder Vidal has called on the embattled side to change their mindset as pressure mounts on president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

"Barcelona have done things that don't fit with a team at the top level," Vidal said in an interview with Daniel Habif via Youtube.

"In the end, you realise this when you face an organised team, a team that has a winning mentality, with players that are physically prepared and that has a very strong game plan.

"That takes its toll when you're weak in the head and in energy - that happened to us. Barcelona first have to change the way they think because football has evolved a lot.

"DNA is being left behind and other teams are improving in other aspects. Nowadays, football is more physical, more about strength and speed, and technical ability can sometimes come second. Barcelona have to change lots of things.

"A club, which I think is the best in the world, can't have 13 professional players and the rest youngsters.

"Not because they don't deserve to be there, but they have to be competing with the best and with who has to play.

"Every club has 23 players fighting for a place, improving and getting better every day. But when they don't progress, when you think you can always win with your DNA, that's when you're mistaken."

"There are lots of good players. We have Messi, who is the number one and is an alien, but he needs help," Vidal added. "He needs players that improve the team and that get better results."

Vidal's future at Camp Nou is far from certain amid links to Serie A champions Juve and Antonio Conte's Inter.

Chile international Vidal won four league titles during his time at Juve – three of those under head coach Conte before eventually joining Bayern Munich in 2015.

"Conte is like a machine, he is tactically the best," Vidal said. "As for my future, I'm relaxed, we'll see what happens. I am very fond of Barcelona, but we'll see."

Former Juve team-mate Andrea Pirlo is now coach of the Turin giants after replacing Maurizio Sarri, and Vidal added: "It's spectacular that he has become the coach of Juventus.

"If he was incredible as a player, imagine him as a coach. He has a real vision of the sport that very few have ever had in football, so I think he can do really well.

"Pirlo is also a wonderful person too, so I can only imagine he’ll be a great coach. We spent four years together and won the Scudetto four times, so if he were to call me, I'd be happy."

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