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.

"Ridiculous" was a word used by Frank Lampard to sum up N'Golo Kante last week - and with good reason. 

The Chelsea midfielder is back fit, back in the side and more or less back to his best, having missed 16 Premier League matches last season. 

Kante's "quietly influential" form has helped Lampard's side to a strong start to the season that has left some to bill Sunday's derby clash with Tottenham as something of a title showdown – or at least a game that could well highlight which of the two has the best chance of dethroning Liverpool. 

A win for either side will move them top of the table after 10 games, but Kante's recent performances might just indicate Chelsea have the edge.

BACK WHERE HE BELONGS?

In 2018-19, Maurizio Sarri preferred Jorginho at the base of midfield, with Kante generally shifted to the right of a three. 

The system was hardly a failure: Chelsea returned to the Champions League, won the Europa League and only lost the EFL Cup final on penalties to Manchester City. Few, though, ever thought it brought the best out of Kante. 

Since taking charge last year, Lampard has shifted Kante back towards the middle and, as can be seen from his average touch maps, 2020-21 sees a full return for the France international as the midfield anchor.

N'Golo Kante's touch maps by season, from 2018-19 (L) to 2020-21. The shift from the right-hand side towards the base of midfield is clear.

He is averaging 82 touches per 90 minutes in the Premier League, the highest figure he has ever posted for Chelsea, five more than in his title-winning debut season in 2016-17. He is also averaging 67 passes per game, more than he ever has before for the club.

In other words, Kante is very much at the heart of Lampard's Chelsea.

He is also back to his exceptional defensive levels in 2020-21, averaging three interceptions per game – again the most in his Chelsea career – as well as three tackles, his highest figure under Lampard.

The caveat is his passes in the final third have dropped by an average of six per game compared to last season and by nine compared to 2018-19, but the creative talent at Lampard's disposal means the burden of attacking is no longer on Kante's shoulders.

HOJBJERG BATTLE AWAITS

If Chelsea's form is based in part on the performances of Kante, Tottenham's strong start to the season is very much built on the work of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

Signed from Southampton for a reported £15million fee, the 25-year-old has established himself as Jose Mourinho's most important player behind the relentlessly brilliant Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.

Through nine rounds of the 2020-21 Premier League campaign, Hojbjerg had managed more touches (809), attempted more passes (695) and completed more passes (619) than any other midfielder in the competition. He has also got stuck into 29 tackles, the third-highest number for midfielders this term and four more than Kante.

Hojbjerg might not be a player of the Kante mold, but the two have had remarkably similar influences on their teams. Each has one assist in nine league starts, their passing accuracy practically matches (88.5 per cent for Kante, 89.1 for Hojbjerg), and they have made exactly the same number of recoveries (64).

Effective as they are without the ball, so much of Chelsea and Spurs' good work with it also relies on these two.

Kante has started 139 open-play sequences this season, eclipsing Hojbjerg (111), but that is about as big a difference as you will find.

Of those sequences started by Kante, 13 have ended in a shot and two in a goal; for Hojbjerg, 11 have ended in a strike at goal and one has seen Spurs get on the scoresheet.

Indeed, in terms of involvements in open-play build-up, Kante has managed 423, only slightly up on Hojbjerg's 415. Of those tallies, each player has seen 31 of those involvements end in a shot; when it comes to resulting in a goal, Hojbjerg edges Kante eight to three.

On Sunday, the winner of the battle for midfield control between these two could well swing the match in his side's favour.

N'Golo Kante is playing like a midfield boss again for Chelsea and Frank Lampard could not be happier for the two-time Premier League winner.

The midfield dynamo, who played a big part in Leicester City's title success before repeating the feat with Chelsea, has shaken off ankle and muscle injury strife to shine this season.

He captained the side in a comfortable 2-0 win at Newcastle United on Saturday, as Chelsea at least briefly went to the top of the table.

It was a frustration to Lampard that Kante missed large part of the 2019-20 campaign, because the manager knows the World Cup winner brings proven quality and valuable experience.

Kante is playing a key role for a Chelsea side that are unbeaten in nine games across all competitions, winning five in a row.

Lampard said: "I'm really, really happy with how he’s playing.

"Last year he missed 50 per cent of the games with injuries, he had a tough time for different reasons and we are working very hard on that to get him as fit and fresh [as possible]. 

"Now we are managing his training and game time, but his levels of performances are really high."

Lampard sees Kante as not so much an organiser and a disrupter of play, which are clear strengths, but as a footballer with a broad, under-rated range of qualities.

"I keep saying every time I get asked about N'Golo that I have so much faith in him and the top midfield player that he is in world football," said the Chelsea boss. "Not just at breaking up and winning balls back, as we know that is a huge quality of his, but his passing and supporting in midfield and playing in that deeper role now."

Kante made four tackles and three interceptions against Newcastle, which were both team-highs. He played 75 passes - 70 short and five long - and had 93.8 per cent accuracy with his 48 passes inside the Newcastle half.

Such data draws perhaps less attention than the goals and assists Chelsea will also require to sustain a challenge at the top of the table, but Lampard appreciates the significance.

Another title tilt is something that the manager is reluctant to talk about, but should Kante stay fit then it might be a realistic ambition.

Lampard knows Chelsea are better off with the 29-year-old in their team, which is why he has been starting almost every game this term, and the Blues certainly hope the worst of Kante's injury troubles are over.

“I don't want to tempt fate because at the minute he is going well," Lampard said. "We have had a better period of him to get him in a place where we are really happy."

For Chelsea, it is a case of ensuring Kante does not over-stretch himself.

Nobody ran further in Chelsea's team than Kante's 11.33 kilometres at St James' Park, and the impact of his exertions is closely monitored.

"We're very aware and we keep check on his training and his numbers and how much distance he travels, because every time you train and allow him off the leash in training he makes ridiculous output because that’s the way he plays," Lampard said.

"We are very careful with that and at the minute we are in a good place and hopefully that continues."

France booked their place in the Nations League Finals at the expense of holders Portugal as N'Golo Kante's second international goal secured a 1-0 win in Lisbon.

The World Cup winners and the European champions came into Saturday's match tied on 10 points at the top of Group A3 through four matches, but the head-to-head primary tie-breaker made this clash pivotal after a goalless draw in France.

Kante's strike proved the difference as the Chelsea midfielder stepped up in the 53rd minute after the plethora of attacking talent at both ends had misfired.

France were without Kylian Mbappe due to a hamstring injury, but Anthony Martial might have had a first-half hat-trick and would have been relieved to see Kante come to his aid.

The first miss from the Manchester United forward came as he ran onto Antoine Griezmann's incisive pass but was quickly confronted by Rui Patricio, who had earlier saved comfortably from Kingsley Coman and this time blocked bravely.

France remained on top and Martial should have scored as he turned Adrien Rabiot's wayward acrobatic effort onto the crossbar from four yards, before Patricio made another sublime stop from a close-range attempt.

Fortunately for the visitors, Cristiano Ronaldo was similarly wasteful with a header over the top on the stroke of half-time.

It was Ronaldo's failing which would prove costly following the restart as Patricio spilled Rabiot's low shot and the unlikely figure of Kante pounced to prod into the net.

Jose Fonte directed an unmarked header onto the post as Portugal threatened a response, but that was as close as they came.

Ronaldo was unable to forge a first career goal against France to rescue his side, although he teed up Joao Moutinho for a powerful blast that drew an outstanding save from Hugo Lloris.

What does it mean? Revenge at last

France have won the World Cup since losing the Euro 2016 final on home soil, but they had not beaten conquerors Portugal since that painful occasion.

Deservedly dumping Fernando Santos' side out of a tournament they won last time out would have been particularly satisfying – especially without Mbappe.

It will be Portugal's turn to seek a response as the teams meet once again in Group F at Euro 2020.

Griezmann the creator

In Mbappe's absence, many might have expected Griezmann to step up as France's chief goal threat. Instead, he was their creator.

The Barcelona forward had just one shot, which missed the target, but played three key passes. His gorgeous ball to Martial after 12 minutes deserved a better finish.

Patricio pays price

Although Portugal came into the match later in the second half – finishing with 18 attempts – they were outplayed before the break and relied on Patricio to come to their rescue time and again.

The Wolves goalkeeper made six saves in should have dealt with Rabiot's shot better, instead committing a costly error.

What's next?

France play Sweden and Portugal visit Croatia in the final round of Nations League group games on Tuesday, but the results are now largely academic.

Will Manchester City land Lionel Messi?

City were reportedly close to luring Messi to the Premier League during the previous transfer window.

Messi remains at Barcelona, but City are believed to be planning another move.

 

TOP STORY – CITY CONTEMPLATING MESSI MOVE

Manchester City are considering an offer to prise Lionel Messi from Barcelona in January, according to the Daily Star.

Messi handed in a transfer request at the start of the season and the Barca captain was tipped to join City before opting to remain at Camp Nou.

Pep Guardiola's City, however, have not given up on Messi as they eye a £15million (€16m) bid for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner – who was also linked to Juventus, Inter and Paris Saint-Germain previously.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror claims Barca are eyeing January moves for Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and City defender Eric Garcia. Lyon captain Memphis Depay has also been linked.

Liverpool and Tottenham are set to battle it out for the signing of Leeds United's £50million midfielder Kalvin Phillips, reports the Mirror.

- The Sun says Manchester United are circling for Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde. United believe a swap deal involving Paul Pogba could be possible due to Valverde's £640m (€705m) release clause.

N'Golo Kante has no intention of leaving Chelsea, according to Le10 Sport. The France international has been linked to Inter and Madrid.

Will he or won't he?

That's the question regarding Jadon Sancho and a possible move to Manchester United.

United, however, are reportedly bullish about their chances of prising the England international from Borussia Dortmund.

 

TOP STORY – SOLSKJAER CONFIDENT IN SANCHO PURSUIT

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has told Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho he expects the blockbuster transfer to be completed, according to Dagbladet.

United have so far been unable to prise Sancho from Dortmund, who refuse to budge on their £108million (€120m) asking price, with the transfer window set to close on October 5.

However, Solskjaer appears confident of landing his number one target.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona could announce the signing of Ajax full-back Sergino Dest on Tuesday, reports Fabrizio Romano. Bayern Munich are also trying to prise the United States international from Amsterdam.

- The Telegraph says Tottenham are eyeing Bournemouth forward Josh King, who was previously linked to United.

United are closing in on Porto full-back Alex Telles. Romano claims personal terms have been agreed, with final details and agents commission remaining as United and Porto negotiate a fee.

- The Guardian reports Tottenham have not given up on signing Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar. Inter are holding out for £55m (€60m) but Spurs are only prepared to pay between €30m-€35m. Napoli's Nikola Maksimovic could reportedly replace Skriniar in Milan.

- According to L'Equipe, Leeds United are nearing a deal to sign Bayern midfielder Michael Cuisance. Leeds have been unable to meet Udinese's demands for star Rodrigo De Paul.

Marcelo Brozovic has realised Inter want to sell him as the Croatia international eyes an exit, reports Calciomercato. It comes as Inter chase Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante, who has since been linked to United.

- Romano says Milan are confident of completing a deal for Bodo/Glimt star Jens Petter Hauge, who impressed during the Europa League qualifier at San Siro.

Antonio Conte knows he will not be able spend big in the transfer window but did not rule out a move for N'Golo Kante and appeared to dismiss the prospect of selling Christian Eriksen.

Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta stated during a press conference on Friday that the club will "try to seize opportunities" in the transfer market but will not make large investments.

Achraf Hakimi and Arturo Vidal are among the new signings for the Nerazzurri ahead of their first game of the Serie A season against Fiorentina on Saturday.

Inter have also been linked with Chelsea midfielder Kante along with the likes of Schalke centre-back Ozan Kabak and Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic.

It has been reported that midfield duo Eriksen or Marcelo Brozovic could be allowed to leave, while Tottenham are said to have held talks with Inter over a deal for Milan Skriniar.

Conte gave little away when asked about potential deals after the head coach committed his future to Inter following an outburst at the end of last season that put his future in doubt.

Asked about Inter's strategy in the transfer market and the possibility of signing Kante, he said: "Times have changed compared to [Romelu] Lukaku [who joined Inter in a big-money move from Manchester United last August].

"It was an important operation and we managed to convince the president to take him. Operations like those give us credibility. Marotta has already spoken a lot about the market. We know the strategy, we are united and we have embraced this project.

"When we are clear and always tell the truth, then we find benefits from a similar situation."

He added: "The players who have arrived can bring experience, Hakimi will be important. In total agreement with the club we have evaluated and chosen a strategy taking into account what the owners have just said, that is the situation we are going through like all the other clubs. serenity and harmony.

"We must consolidate the credibility of last year. We are implementing a strategy for the good of Inter."

Marotta made it clear Inter would have to cut their cloth accordingly amid a coronavirus pandemic that has had a significant impact on the finances of clubs all over the world.

He said: "The club's task is to set up the squad in the best possible way while respecting the limitations that exist. We are in a pandemic and all clubs are turning their attention to financial sustainability.

"All clubs have lower revenues, closed stadiums, disputes. it is not it is a coincidence that no team has invested heavily in the market.

"We will do everything possible following the policy we are implementing. We will try to seize opportunities but there will be no large investments and large operations."

Real Madrid and Liverpool reportedly lead the race for Kylian Mbappe if the France star decides to leave Paris Saint-Germain.

Mbappe, 21, is contracted at PSG until 2022, making his future a talking point heading into next year.

It seems the France international's future lies at one of three clubs.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID, LIVERPOOL LEAD RACE FOR MBAPPE

Mbappe's future will be decided next year and the forward will be at PSG, Real Madrid or Liverpool, according to L'Equipe.

The World Cup winner has been heavily linked with Zinedine Zidane's Madrid previously, while Jurgen Klopp's Premier League champions have also reportedly been interested in the past.

The report says Liverpool and Madrid are in regular contact with Mbappe.

 

ROUND-UP

- Luis Suarez is set for a Barcelona exit, but the forward's next club remains unclear. Sport reports Suarez has an agreement with Atletico Madrid, apparently for two seasons, but Barca are said to be intending to block him joining a direct rival for free.

- Manchester United could strengthen as soon as this week. The Guardian reports Porto left-back Alex Telles hopes to seal a move to United this week and it says the Premier League club are hoping to get the 27-year-old's price down to £23mllion (€25m).

- With Kepa Arrizabalaga again coming under fire, Chelsea are set to welcome a new goalkeeper. RMC Sport reports the Premier League club have finalised a deal worth £22million (€24m), plus £5.5m (€6m) in bonuses, with Rennes for Edouard Mendy.

- Staying at Chelsea and N'Golo Kante is reportedly wanted by Inter. Corriere dello Sport reports Inter coach Antonio Conte wants the midfielder, but a €50million (£45.9m) asking price is unthinkable for the Serie A club unless Christian Eriksen or Marcelo Brozovic are sold.

- There could also be movement at Real Madrid. EFE reports Luka Jovic is pushing for a return to Eintracht Frankfurt on loan after struggling in his first season with the LaLiga giants. Meanwhile, Marca says former Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani has been offered to Madrid.

- While Suarez may arrive, Atletico Madrid are also considering their transfer options. AS reports they are waiting for offers for Diego Costa, while Marca says the LaLiga club need to see a player leave before potentially signing Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira.

Jadon Sancho has been tipped to swap Borussia Dortmund for Manchester United.

But the England international remains in Germany and United are growing frustrated.

Could United move on from the Dortmund sensation?

 

TOP STORY – UNITED READY TO PULL PLUG ON SANCHO

Manchester United are ready to give up on signing Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to the Daily Star.

Sancho has emerged as United's top transfer target, but the Premier League giants have been unable to negotiate a deal with Dortmund.

With United and Dortmund apart in their valuation of Sancho, the Red Devils are frustrated and could turn to alternative targets.

Juventus attacker Douglas Costa, Atletico Madrid's Joao Felix and Real Madrid outcast Gareth Bale are possible options.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca claims Barcelona are contemplating a loan move for Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin, who left Camp Nou for the Gunners in 2011. Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked, while Barca will only target the Spaniard if they are able to part with Nelson Semedo.

- Staying at Camp Nou and Barca are targeting Sevilla's star centre-back Jules Kounde. The front page of Saturday's Mundo Deportivo says Barca could wait 12 months to secure a deal. Mundo Deportivo also reports Emerson could be included in a deal to prise Lyon captain Memphis Depay to the embattled LaLiga giants.

Tottenham have had an offer for Torino striker Andrea Belotti rejected, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. Spurs proposed a loan deal with an option to buy the Italy international for €50million (£46m). Di Marzio also claims Tottenham will not be signing Napoli forward Arkadiusz Milik, who has been linked to Roma and Juventus.

Chelsea are ready to loan out winger Calum Hudson-Odoi, says 90Min. The Englishman has previously been linked to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

- Remaining at Stamford Bridge and Fabrizio Romano reports Chelsea will consider a move for West Ham's Declan Rice after having a bid accepted for Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.

Inter are ready to sell defender Milan Skriniar as they eye Hellas Verona's Marash Kumbulla, according to Calciomercato. It comes as Nerazzurri boss Antonio Conte tries to sign Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante and full-back Marcos Alonso.

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.

N'Golo Kante was included in the Chelsea squad ahead of Saturday's Champions League last-16 second leg against Bayern Munich.

The midfielder has not played since July 4 due to a hamstring injury but was on the bench for last Saturday's FA Cup final and trained at Cobham with team-mates on Friday.

Head coach Frank Lampard is otherwise faced with a selection headache as Chelsea attempt to overturn a 3-0 deficit to the Bundesliga champions.

Cesar Azpilicueta, Christian Pulisic and Pedro are all missing through injuries sustained in the 2-1 loss to Arsenal in the FA Cup final.

Jorginho and Marcos Alonso are suspended, while there is no place for Willian, who is being heavily linked with a move to Arsenal.

Billy Gilmour is a long-term absentee after undergoing knee surgery in July.

Lampard has named several untested youngsters in the 23-man group, including Jamie Cumming, Lewis Bate, Dynel Simeu, Henry Lawrence, Ian Maatsen and Armando Broja.

N'Golo Kante and Willian are in contention for Chelsea's FA Cup final clash with Arsenal on Saturday, though Frank Lampard refused to be drawn on who will start in goal.

France international Kante has endured a frustrating season for the Blues, with numerous injury issues and fitness problems putting him on the sidelines.

The latest was a hamstring issue suffered early this month and he has not featured since, only returning to training prior to the final Premier League game of the season.

But the midfielder is in the squad for Saturday's showdown at Wembley, while Willian – absent from the win over Wolves last weekend with an unspecified problem – could also be involved.

Lampard did not have such good news regarding Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who will not feature.

"Yes, N'Golo Kante and Willian are in the squad," Lampard said in Friday's pre-match news conference. "We will see if they're fit enough to be involved.

"But Ruben Loftus-Cheek has picked up a small problem and is out of the game."

Brazilian winger Willian has enjoyed a prominent season at Stamford Bridge, racking up nine goals and seven assists in the league and arguably rediscovering his best form despite uncertainty over his future.

The 31-year-old, whose current deal is set to expire at the end of the season, has reportedly rejected a new two-year contract at the club because he wants an extra season on top of that.

Since football resumed in June, Willian has scored three goals and set up another two and his attitude has not surprised Lampard.

When asked if he expected Willian's professionalism despite a somewhat awkward situation, Lampard said: "Yes, I've known Willian for many years as a player and I have coached him.

"If anyone wants to know the mentality of him, then that has been shown since restart. He has given everything. I would expect nothing less than he's shown already."

Where Lampard seemed most uncertain in terms of team selection ahead of Saturday was in goal – Kepa Arrizabalaga is the usual first-choice, but his form has been underwhelming, with Willy Caballero replacing the Spaniard against Wolves and a regular in cup competitions.

"It's difficult because we have competition in the squad," Lampard said. "I have changed it at times, we consider the games as we go – [for] big games, it becomes more difficult.

"I know how much players want to be in these games, but people off the bench have made a huge difference in recent games.

"It [leaving players out for a final] is difficult for me, difficult [for the players] to take, but players have to be positive."

Lampard and his counterpart Mikel Arteta will be aiming to win the first piece of silverware in their managerial careers on Saturday.

Frank Lampard apologised for his expletive-laden row with the Liverpool bench during Chelsea's 5-3 loss at Anfield but he felt a line was crossed in the Reds' ranks.

A video of Lampard and Jurgen Klopp arguing on the touchline after referee Andre Marriner awarded Liverpool a questionable free-kick for Mateo Kovacic's challenge on Sadio Mane was widely shared on social media after the game.

Spirits were high among Klopp's squad as the game was played with a temporary stage fitted in the Kop end for Liverpool to be presented with the Premier League trophy at full time.

After the game Lampard warned the Premier League champions against becoming "too arrogant" but has now apologised for how he went about conveying his feelings in the heat of the moment.

"I've seen the video and I was obviously there," he said. "I think in terms of the language I do regret that because these things get replayed a lot on social media, I'm aware and my daughters are on social media, so I regret that."

"In terms of regretting having passion to defend my team, no. I could've maybe handled it slightly different to keep that language in.

"What I felt was, and I want to be clear about this actually, that some of the reports were that I was upset with the celebrating of the Liverpool team. Far from it.

"I think Liverpool should celebrate as much as they want with the season they've had, they can celebrate like they did after the game, like they can celebrate every goal that they score, like the celebrated when they won the league a month ago, and like they're talking about celebrating one more time with their fans.

"I would've had a beer with Jurgen Klopp after the game and toasted their performance this year, but there were things on the line that I didn't like from their bench, not Jurgen Klopp, people behind the bench, which I felt crossed the line and that's what got me agitated.

"But it's done. Emotions run high among most managers and players and fans in this game. I regret the language and move on."

Chelsea's defeat means they head into the final day of the Premier League season needing a point against Wolves at Stamford Bridge to guarantee a top-four finish and a place in the 2020-21 Champions League.

Lampard insisted the Blues will not go out to play for a draw in a game that should see N'Golo Kante return from a hamstring injury that has kept him out for five matches.

"There's a possibility [Kante] will feature. He's trained for the first time towards a match pace this morning, it's a decision I'll have to make talking with him and the medical team, to see if he's ready to start," said Lampard.

He added: "We'll approach the game to win it, I don't think there's another way. We'll prepare right, respect our opponent. There obviously a very good opponent, we've seen that all season in the league.

"We prepare to win the game, we're aware of the situation but we try to win."

N'Golo Kante has been ruled out of Chelsea's FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United at Wembley on Sunday.

Kante suffered a hamstring injury in the 3-0 Premier League win over Watford a fortnight ago and Frank Lampard revealed the midfielder is not ready to return at Wembley.

Blues boss Lampard said a few other players will be monitored ahead of the clash with in-form United

He said on Friday: "N'Golo Kante won't be fit for the match, he's still not right, so he's out.

"Other than that, we have a few people with little niggles, which I'll monitor over the next 24 hours or so and then we'll be ready to go."

Lampard is well aware of the threat posed by a United side who are unbeaten in 19 games and one of the London club's rivals for a top-four finish in the Premier League.

"We know they are playing well; they've got a very potent front three, the most potent front three probably in the country in terms of numbers," said Lampard.

"Obviously [Bruno] Fernandes has made a huge difference, so you see the strength they have brought to their team with individual quality. We have to be confident in ourselves, deal with their threats and worry about ourselves."

Lampard has challenged his players to grasp their opportunity to win a trophy in his first season in charge at Stamford Bridge.

"Considering where we are, we're in the semi-final, we know what's in front of us. The league is obviously huge but at this point you fight on two fronts and we have to give everything to try and do that," said the former England midfielder.

"A club like Chelsea will always want to win these kinds of trophies, it's what we've done very well in the modern era.

"Of course, it feels like a slightly different position this year because of the circumstances of the season, but we have an opportunity and it's up to the players and ourselves to make the best of it on Sunday.

"We're playing a good team, they are in good form and whoever would await us in the final will be a good team, so the work is to be done."

What does the future hold for PSG stars Kylian Mbappe and Neymar?

Real Madrid have made no secret of their admiration for Mbappe, while Barcelona have tried to re-sign Neymar.

As PSG prepare for the 2020-21 campaign, the Ligue 1 holders have made some transfer decisions.

 

TOP STORY – PSG KEEPING MBAPPE, MAKE NEYMAR DECISION

Paris Saint-Germain will not sell Kylian Mbappe ahead of the 2020-21 season but Neymar's future remains uncertain, according to L'Equipe.

Mbappe has been tipped to make the move to Real Madrid in the future, however, Ligue 1 champions PSG have no intention of parting with the France international before next season.

But Neymar – continually linked with a return to Barcelona after leaving in a world-record transfer in 2017 – could leave as PSG look to avoid losing the Brazilian star on a free transfer in 2022.

 

ROUND-UP

Chelsea are preparing their first offer for Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz. Journalist Nicolo Schira reports Chelsea will make a £62million (€70m) bid plus add-ons for Havertz amid interest from Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Barca. To fund the transfer, Chelsea will look to sell Inter target Emerson Palmieri, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Jorginho, who would like to reunite with Maurizio Sarri at Juventus.

Luke Shaw could be sacrificed as United look to sign Leicester City's Ben Chilwell, claims the Mirror. United have reportedly leapfrogged Premier League rivals Chelsea and Manchester City in the race for full-back Chilwell.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter are interested in Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante, who has also been linked to Madrid.

Willian has turned down a move to David Beckham's Inter Miami, reports the Telegraph. Willian's Chelsea contract expires at the end of the season and he has been linked to Liverpool, United, Arsenal and Tottenham.

- Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren is wanted by Russian champions Zenit, according to the Evening Standard.

- Calciomercato says Juventus are not the only club eyeing Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo. Jose Mourinho reportedly wants the Italy international at Tottenham, while Madrid and United are also believed to be interested.

- The Express claims Chelsea are stepping up their pursuit of United goalkeeper and Sheffield United loanee Dean Henderson. Chelsea are ready to ask Manchester United for a price as Kepa Arrizabalaga struggles in London.

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