The pause in the football calendar (except in Belarus, of course) gives players across Europe plenty of time to reflect on their efforts so far this season.

While some have a few things to work on when matches return, there are others for whom 2019-20 has been a showcase of the very best they have to offer.

In the latest piece in our series, we look at the best-performing forwards in the Bundesliga, LaLiga, Ligue 1, Premier League and Serie A.

Goals might be the most obvious (and fundamentally important) of metrics for these players, but the number of times the ball crosses that white line is not the only measure of their quality.

To that end, we have also examined seven other parameters: minutes-per-goal rate, shots on target, shooting accuracy, shot conversion rate, big chance conversion rate, dribbles completed and dribble success rate. And these are for those players to make at least 10 league appearances this season, to avoid any unfair imbalance in the results (we're looking at you, Florin Andone).

Without further ado, we present the most ruthless forwards elite-level football in Europe has to offer...

THE MOST RUTHLESS FORWARDS IN EUROPE'S TOP-FIVE LEAGUES 2019-20:

 

BUNDESLIGA:

Most goals scored: Robert Lewandowski (25)
Best minutes-per-goal rate (Min. five goals scored): Robert Lewandowski (81.7)
Most shots on target: Robert Lewandowski (55)
Best shooting accuracy (Min. 30 shots): Marcus Thuram (76.3 per cent)
Best shot conversion rate (Min. five goals scored): Paco Alcacer (35.7 per cent)
Best big chance conversion rate (Min. five big chances): Rouwen Hennings (71.4 per cent)
Most dribbles completed: Marcus Thuram (57)
Best dribbles success rate (Min. 10 completed): Lucas Alario (83.3 per cent)

LALIGA:

Most goals scored: Lionel Messi (19)
Best minutes-per-goal rate (Min. five goals scored): Lionel Messi (99.5)
Most shots on target: Lionel Messi (55)
Best shooting accuracy (Min. 30 shots): Lionel Messi (68.9 per cent)
Best shot conversion rate (Min. five goals scored): Lucas Perez (40.7 per cent)
Best big chance conversion rate (Min. five big chances): Charles (83.3 per cent)
Most dribbles completed: Lionel Messi (118)
Best dribbles success rate (Min. 10 completed): Pione Sisto (76.9 per cent)

LIGUE 1:

Most goals scored: Kylian Mbappe and Wissam Ben Yedder (18)
Best minutes-per-goal rate (Min. five goals scored): Kylian Mbappe (84.1)
Most shots on target: Kylian Mbappe (49)
Best shooting accuracy (Min. 30 shots): Kasper Dolberg (78.1 per cent)
Best shot conversion rate (Min. five goals scored): Mauro Icardi (37.5 per cent)
Best big chance conversion rate (Min. five big chances): Moussa Dembele (72.2 per cent)
Most dribbles completed: Neymar (90)
Best dribbles success rate (Min. 10 completed): Zaydou Youssouf (85.7 per cent)

PREMIER LEAGUE:

Most goals scored: Jamie Vardy (19)
Best minutes-per-goal rate (Min. five goals scored): Sergio Aguero (87.6)
Most shots on target: Mohamed Salah (43)
Best shooting accuracy (Min. 30 shots): Anthony Martial (68.2 per cent)
Best shot conversion rate (Min. five goals scored): Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (36.2 per cent)
Best big chance conversion rate (Min. five big chances): Harry Kane (70 per cent)
Most dribbles completed: Adama Traore (144)
Best dribbles success rate (Min. 10 completed): Billy Sharp (86.7 per cent)

SERIE A:

Most goals scored: Ciro Immobile (27)
Best minutes-per-goal rate (Min. five goals scored): Luis Muriel (70.2)
Most shots on target: Cristiano Ronaldo (53)
Best shooting accuracy (Min. 30 shots): Romelu Lukaku (65.5 per cent)
Best shot conversion rate (Min. five goals scored): Ante Rebic (42.9 per cent)
Best big chance conversion rate (Min. five big chances): Felipe Caicedo (85.7 per cent)
Most dribbles completed: Jeremie Boga (106)
Best dribbles success rate (Min. 10 completed): Sergio Floccari (72.2 per cent)

AND THE TOP EIGHT:

Most goals scored: Ciro Immobile (27)
Best minutes-per-goal rate (Min. five goals scored): Luis Muriel (70.2)
Most shots on target: Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski (55)
Best shooting accuracy (Min. 30 shots): Kasper Dolberg (78.1 per cent)
Best shot conversion rate (Min. five goals scored): Ante Rebic (42.9 per cent)
Best big chance conversion rate (Min. five big chances): Felipe Caicedo (85.7 per cent)
Most dribbles completed: Adama Traore (144)
Best dribbles success rate (Min. 10 completed): Billy Sharp (86.7 per cent)

Atletico Madrid came from behind to beat Villarreal 3-1 and move into third place in LaLiga, with Joao Felix scoring on his return from injury.

Suspended head coach Diego Simeone watched on from the stands as his players took full advantage of Getafe's 3-0 home defeat to Sevilla earlier on Sunday.

Goals from Angel Correa and Koke turned the game in Atletico's favour at the Wanda Metropolitano, cancelling out Paco Alcacer's first-half opener for the visitors.

A satisfying outing for the hosts was rounded off by a goal from Joao Felix, who found the net just 17 minutes after coming on as a substitute.

Fresh from a Champions League win over Liverpool in midweek, Atletico dominated the opening 15 minutes but were powerless to stop Alcacer's rasping half-volley from the edge of the box, the attempt flying into the net beyond Jan Oblak at full stretch.

Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo made a superb double save to keep out a fierce volley from Alvaro Morata at first, followed by Vitolo's header from the rebound.

The visitors rediscovered their composure until the 40th minute when Raul Albiol inexplicably headed the ball to the feet of Sime Vrsaljko, allowing the full-back to lift the ball towards Correa, who poked a volley under the body of Asenjo to pull the hosts level.

Atletico sent on Kieran Trippier and Joao Felix – the duo back in action after recovering from injuries - to try and exploit the gaps appearing in the Villarreal defence, with both players making an impact.

Trippier broke down the Atletico right before cutting the ball back to Correa, whose floated cross was headed home by Koke after the captain arrived unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box.

Joao Felix wrapped up the victory, albeit his drive was aided by a deflection to beat Asenjo, as the 20-year-old scored his third league goal of an up-and-down debut campaign in Spain.

The January transfer window is over, meaning the top clubs in Europe have to go with what they have got for the remainder of the season.

There have been some huge deals across the continent, with much of the major action was completed early on in the window.

Namely, Erling Haaland joined Borussia Dortmund, and the Norwegian sensation has already made a flying start in the Bundesliga.

Haaland's former Salzburg team-mate Takumi Minamino has joined runaway Premier League leaders, while there was also the small matter of Zlatan Ibrahimovic returning to Milan.

Here, we take a look at the best deals that went through.

Erling Haaland: Salzburg to Borussia Dortmund (€22.5m)

Haaland was arguably the most sought-after player in the January transfer window, with Dortmund reportedly beating RB Leipzig, Juventus and Manchester United to his signature. It already looks like the striker will take the Bundesliga by storm, having scored five goals in two substitute appearances that have lasted a cumulative 59 minutes.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: LA Galaxy to Milan (free transfer)

At 38, not many players would have their pick of clubs, but Ibrahimovic certainly did. He took his time in deciding his next move after leaving LA Galaxy but, amid links to Bologna and Napoli, the Swede plumped to join his former club Milan. His impact at San Siro has been instant, with Milan unbeaten since his return, winning five of their six games in all competitions.

Takumi Minamino: Salzburg to Liverpool (£7.25m)

Haaland may have been the Salzburg player who drew the most attention, but Japan international Minamino should prove to be a bargain for Liverpool. The European champions moved quickly to bring in the 25-year-old for a measly fee of £7.25m. Able to play anywhere in the front three or even as an attacking midfielder, Minamino scored nine goals for Salzburg in all competitions this season before getting his big move and is a great back-up for Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

Dani Olmo: Dinamo Zagreb to RB Leipzig (up to €35m)

A star of Spain’s triumphant side in the Under-21 European Championships, Olmo has carried on his sparkling form from last season to become one of the most in-demand youngsters in European football. Having scored five Champions League goals this term, the 21-year-old was linked with a return to Barcelona, but ultimately opted to join Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig – a team which would seem to be an ideal place for the playmaker to continue his development.

Raul de Tomas: Benfica to Espanyol (€20m)

Another club-record signing in LaLiga, De Tomas seems a gamble for such a fee, although one worth taking for an Espanyol side at serious risk of the drop. He might not have settled in Lisbon, but De Tomas was a persistent goalscorer at Real Valladolid and Rayo Vallecano and €20m will seem a snip if he keeps Espanyol in the top flight.

Paco Alcacer: Borussia Dortmund to Villarreal (€23m)

Ruthless in a Valencia shirt and too-often unused at Barcelona, Alcacer returns to LaLiga after scoring 23 goals in 37 Bundesliga appearances, despite problems with injury, after he was deemed surplus to requirements at Dortmund following Haaland's arrival. It might be a club-record purchase but, if he can fire Villarreal into top-four contention, it will be money well spent.

Julian Weigl: Borussia Dortmund to Benfica (€20m)

Weigl has had some of Europe's biggest clubs following his every move in recent seasons, with Manchester City said to be keen and Paris Saint-Germain reportedly prepared to pay up to €75m to reunite him with Thomas Tuchel. Having struggled for form and minutes under Lucien Favre, Weigl decided his best bet at this stage of his career was to pursue regular game time with Benfica. Still only 24, he will look an absolute bargain if he can recapture his early promise in Portugal.

Alvaro Odriozola: Real Madrid to Bayern Munich (loan)

It would be fair to say things have not quite worked out for Odriozola at Real Madrid, with the full-back having made just 18 LaLiga appearances in total for Los Blancos since his move from Real Sociedad. However, the 24-year-old has been handed the opportunity to prove he can cut it at the highest level at Bayern Munich, who were in desperate need of defensive reinforcements due to injuries to Lucas Hernandez and Niklas Sule.

Pablo Mari: Flamengo to Arsenal (loan with option to buy)

Mikel Arteta was desperate for a left-footed centre-back and in Mari he has found one that, after a string of loan spells away from Manchester City, made good on his potential at Flamengo, where he won the Campeonato Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores in the space of six months. He could be just what Arsenal needed and there is minimal risk involved in the deal.

Carles Perez: Barcelona to Roma (loan with option/obligation to buy)

After a bright start to the season, Perez found game time increasingly hard to come by at Camp Nou. The exciting winger will only cost an initial €11m if targets are met that turn Roma's option to buy into an obligation, which looks like it would be a snip. Given he is only 21, if Perez performs well there would be a good chance of significant profit further down the line.

Borussia Dortmund have let Paco Alcacer depart for Villarreal and are in talks with Juventus midfielder Emre Can about a potential move.

Villarreal announced the arrival of Alcacer on Thursday, with the former Barcelona striker signing a five-and-a-half-year deal and reportedly commanding a club-record fee of €23million.

The 26-year-old Spain international enjoyed a stunning first season with Dortmund, scoring 18 goals in 26 Bundesliga appearances.

However, he has made just nine starts in all competitions under Lucien Favre this season and struggled with injuries, while the arrival of Erling Haaland from Salzburg led to increased competition for minutes.

Alcacer - linked with former club Valencia earlier in the window - has consequently returned to Spain with Villarreal, who are eighth in LaLiga and booked a place in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Wednesday.

It may not be the last of Dortmund's activity in the transfer window, with Can close to arriving from Juve.

Germany international Can was left out of the Bianconeri's Champions League squad this season and has made just eight appearances in all competitions, two of which have come from the start.

Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc told a news conference on Thursday: "Well, the transfer window isn't open much longer and I don't like to provide any updates until something is final.

"We are talking with the player, this is no secret. But a decision hasn't been made yet."

Having already lost key midfielders Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay to serious injuries, Manchester United now face the prospect of being without top scorer Marcus Rashford for the most important part of the season.

The England international aggravated a back injury during a second-half cameo against Wolves in the FA Cup third-round replay victory, and after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer downplayed United's worries, it was later confirmed to be much more serious than first thought.

Reports began to emerge during United's 2-0 defeat to Liverpool that Rashford had actually been playing through the pain and Solskjaer confirmed he suffered a double stress fracture against Wolves, meaning he could potentially be out for three months.

As such, Solskjaer acknowledged United might be forced into seeking "short-term" solutions in the transfer market, with Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial their only recognisable forwards.

Below, we highlight some potential options.

Paco Alcacer (Borussia Dortmund)

Spain international Alcacer has had a peculiar time at Dortmund. He managed to score 18 times in the Bundesliga last season even though he only started 11 matches, while he has five top-flight goals this term despite only six of his 11 appearances coming as a starter. While he is a completely different type of forward to Rashford, he does represent a kind of attacker United simply do not have, in that he is a poacher. Following the arrival of Erling Haaland – apparently a target of Solskjaer's before he joined BVB – Alcacer might be attainable.

Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain)

After falling out of favour at PSG, Uruguay striker Cavani has asked to leave before his contract expires at the end of the season, with Atletico Madrid and others said to be interested. A proven goalscorer and immensely experienced, Cavani would certainly provide United with a focal point they can aim for and play off – though his wages are not insignificant and he might not be entirely suited to counter-attacking football.

Mariano Diaz (Real Madrid)

Since returning to Madrid in 2018, Mariano has had a difficult time of it. Niggling injuries have impacted his availability and he has unsurprisingly struggled to make a telling contribution as a result. He is yet to feature in LaLiga this term, having fallen well down the pecking order – but that is not to say Mariano is a poor player. Quick, technically good and certainly capable of finding the net, he is perhaps rather more suited to United's style of play than Alcacer or Cavani.

Cedric Bakambu (Beijing Guoan)

In 2018, Bakambu cost Beijing Guoan €40million, the release fee in his contract with previous club Villarreal. The DR Congo striker had enjoyed a solid three-year spell at the Yellow Submarine, with his combination of athleticism, ability on the ball and finishing making him standout as a potential target for bigger clubs. He has continued to score on a regular basis in China and is starting to attract interest from Europe again, with Arsenal and Atletico Madrid apparently keeping tabs on him. United could do a lot worse than the former France youth international.

Promote from the academy

Solskjaer certainly can't be accused of neglecting the young talents coming through at the club. If he was to promote from within, rather than dip into the transfer market, D'Mani Mellor and Largie Ramazani would likely be the two frontrunners. Mellor is a 19-year-old forward who likes to drop deep and engage in sharp link-up play with his back to goal, while he is also a capable dribbler. Ramazani, 18, often operates a little more from wider positions, but the Belgium youth international has impressed for United's Under-23s this term with nine goals in 13 league appearances. Excellent on the ball and a possessor of explosive pace, Ramazani certainly seems to fit the mould Solskjaer likes his forwards to be.

Manchester United have identified James Maddison or Jack Grealish as their top January transfer targets.

With Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay injured, United have concerns in midfield to begin 2020.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said United were looking at "one or two" January additions, and it appears their targets are also Premier League players.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD IDENTIFY MADDISON, GREALISH AS JANUARY TARGETS

Manchester United are prioritising a move for Leicester City's Maddison or Aston Villa's Grealish, according to the Independent.

United are looking to find greater consistency in the second half of the Premier League season, although they sit fifth in the table.

Grealish has provided five assists in the Premier League this campaign, while netting six times. Maddison also has six goals.

ROUND-UP

- Thomas Lemar is attracting interest from Tottenham. AS reports that if the midfielder joins Spurs from Atletico Madrid, the LaLiga club would be able to sign Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani.

- Tottenham may have more pressing concerns in January. Harry Kane could be set for an extended spell on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury as Spurs await the results of a second scan, according to The Telegraph.

- Benfica are prepared to let 20-year-old midfielder Gedson Fernandes leave. A Bola reports the club are ready to negotiate for the Portugal international, who has been linked to Manchester United, Lyon and Milan.

- Arsenal are aiming to strengthen their defence with the signing of Bayern Munich centre-back Jerome Boateng, according to Sky Sports. Calum Chambers is set for a long spell on the sidelines after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament, and Boateng could be set for a return to the Premier League.

- Jean-Clair Todibo is expected to leave Barcelona in January and a surprise potential destination has emerged. Bild reports Schalke are thinking about a loan move for the 20-year-old defender.

- Borussia Dortmund have set their price for forward Paco Alcacer. The Bundesliga club want €40million for the Spaniard, who has been linked with a move to Atletico Madrid.

With the January transfer window open across Europe, clubs will be checking their budgets to see if they can make additions for the second half of the campaign.

January is traditionally a tough time to do business with teams generally unwilling to allow stars to leave but Erling Haaland's switch from Salzburg to Borussia Dortmund shows major deals are possible.

Unsettled players around the continent may push for a chance at a new club as squads get shuffled, but who are some of the big-name stars who could be on the move this month?

We have picked out 10 players who have been strongly linked with switching teams during the January transfer window.


PAUL POGBA (Manchester United)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's recent insistence that Pogba would not leave United this month has been undermined by the latest twist in the midfielder's ongoing saga. After he was surprisingly left out of the squad for a New Year's Day loss at Arsenal, Solskjaer indicated Pogba would be undergoing surgery in a bid to solve his injury issues. An operation could make it less likely Pogba leaves Old Trafford in January, but the links to Real Madrid will not go away. For what it is worth, Pogba's agent Mino Raiola has said his client is staying at United - for now at least.


EMRE CAN (Juventus) 

Pogba's continued absence has left a hole in United's midfield, especially with Scott McTominay also out of action. Can is among the players being linked with a switch to Old Trafford after failing to make an impact at Juventus. The Serie A champions, who are reportedly interested in bringing Pogba back, are also said to be ready to listen to offers for Adrien Rabiot and Daniele Rugani with both players not regular starters under Maurizio Sarri this season.


JADON SANCHO (Borussia Dortmund) 

The biggest move of the January transfer window could involve Sancho leaving Dortmund with the England international having struggled with off-the-field issues despite fine form on the pitch during the first half of the season. Premier League sides Manchester United and Chelsea, who signed Christian Pulisic from BVB last year, are reportedly leading the race for Sancho, but he would likely cost in excess of £100million. Dortmund, having beaten off competition from various top clubs to land Haaland, are said to be willing to listen to offers for Paco Alcacer too.


EDINSON CAVANI (Paris Saint-Germain)

Another elite forward potentially on the move this month is Cavani, with PSG's all-time leading goalscorer struggling to get into the team after the successful signing of Mauro Icardi on loan from Inter. At 32, Cavani likely has one more big deal left in him with Atletico Madrid said to be keen - a swap deal involving France winger Thomas Lemar has been mooted. PSG are also reportedly ready to cut their losses on Leandro Paredes, who has made little impact since joining from Zenit.


JAMES RODRIGUEZ (Real Madrid)

Colombia star James has been on the fringes at Madrid since returning from a loan spell with Bayern Munich, making only four starts in LaLiga this season. Arsenal, Inter and PSG have all been linked with James, who has also emerged as a shock target for Everton. New Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti coached the 28-year-old playmaker at both Madrid and Bayern.


ARTURO VIDAL (Barcelona)

Another South American midfielder who could leave LaLiga this month is Vidal, who has complained about allegedly unpaid bonuses at Barca and hinted he might be open to a return to Serie A. League leaders Inter are said to be keen with Antonio Conte having worked with Vidal at Juve, where the Chile international previously won four successive Serie A titles.


JOAO CANCELO (Manchester City)

Right-back Cancelo only joined City last August but, after failing to usurp Kyle Walker as first choice in his position, the 25-year-old could be on the move again with former club Valencia and Bayern Munich both linked. Cancelo's departure would leave City even shorter of defensive options but if they can sell the Portugal international it could allow the defending Premier League champions to bring in another body elsewhere, though Pep Guardiola has ruled out signings.


CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN (Tottenham)

Denmark midfielder Eriksen is out of contract at the end of the season and has previously made it clear he is ready for a new challenge. Eriksen has found himself on the fringes under new boss Jose Mourinho and the club's notorious negotiator Daniel Levy may opt to cash in on the 27-year-old rather than watch him leave for nothing. Spurs, though, surprisingly persuaded Toby Alderweireld to commit to a new deal and it is not impossible Eriksen follows suit if the right club does not make an offer. Inter, PSG, Juve and United have all been linked and it has even been suggested Eriksen could be included in a deal to take Gareth Bale back to Spurs from Madrid.


DANI OLMO (Dinamo Zagreb)

One of Europe's most in-demand young players, Olmo will surely leave Dinamo sooner rather than later. The 21-year-old midfielder, who has already been capped by Spain, says he has an offer from Barca but the LaLiga champions face strong competition for his signature. Olmo is one of a raft of players being linked to Chelsea after their transfer ban was reduced on appeal, while Manchester United and Manchester City are among the other clubs reportedly interested.


WILFRIED ZAHA (Crystal Palace)

Another potential Chelsea target is Zaha, who was said to be close to leaving Palace during the last transfer window only for an £80million price tag to seemingly scare off suitors. Arsenal and Everton were reportedly interested in the Ivory Coast forward, with Roy Hodgson accepting Palace would have to consider "serious" offers for the 27-year-old this month. Blues boss Frank Lampard has denied Zaha is on his radar, however.

Erling Haaland's decision to join Borussia Dortmund brought an end to one of Europe's most fascinating transfer stories.

Manchester United had been in the frame for his signature but were reportedly put off by a key demand from the striker's representatives.

As often seems to be the case for the Red Devils, Mino Raiola's involvement led to complications.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED PULLED PLUG ON HAALAND BID

According to The Guardian, United abandoned their bid for the highly sought-after Haaland after learning of a request from his agent, Raiola, and father Alf-Inge Haaland.

The pair reportedly asked for a share of any future transfer fee for the 19-year-old, a stipulation the Old Trafford outfit were unwilling to meet despite their firm interest.

Haaland settled on Dortmund after the Bundesliga side activated his Salzburg buyout clause.

He had been linked to RB Leipzig, Juventus and several more top European clubs after emerging as a Champions League star.

 

ROUND-UP

- Haaland's arrival at Dortmund could lead LaLiga side  Atletico Madrid to narrow the transfer focus on Spanish striker Paco Alcacer, according to Marca. The former Barcelona player has struggled to cement a place in BVB's starting XI and represents a cheaper option in terms of wages than Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani, an apparent favourite of Diego Simeone.

- AS, meanwhile, reports on potential movements elsewhere in the Spanish capital. The newspaper claims Real Madrid are preparing to recall Jesus Vallejo from his loan spell at Wolves, with a view to finding him more playing time. That could lead to a short-term switch to Leganes or Eintracht Frankfurt.

- Juventus are close to extending Wojciech Szczesny's contract yet the Serie A champions remain admirers of Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma and Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen, according to CalcioMercato.

- Tammy Abraham wants a better deal at Stamford Bridge but Chelsea are not yet prepared to accept his demand for parity with Callum Hudson-Odoi's £180,000 per week salary, reports The Athletic.

- Manchester City are set to beat Premier League rivals United, Arsenal and Liverpool to the January signing of Barcelona's teenage left-back Juan Larios, says the Daily Star.

Could Chelsea gazump their Premier League rivals in the race for Jadon Sancho?

According to reports, the Blues are working on a club-record deal for the Borussia Dortmund winger.

Frank Lampard was among Sancho's idols growing up and the Chelsea boss has been open about his desire to bring in a replacement for Eden Hazard.

 

TOP STORY – SANCHO SET FOR STAMFORD BRIDGE?

Chelsea could celebrate the end of their transfer ban by splashing out £120million to secure Borussia Dortmund and England star Jadon Sancho, according to The Sun.

The huge price tag attached to one of Europe's brightest prospects has reportedly quashed Liverpool's interest and Manchester United are also said to be at risk of missing out on a long-term target.

The Sun claims Chelsea head coach Lampard believes Sancho, 19, can be the man to fill the attacking void left by Hazard's close-season departure to Real Madrid.

Sancho has scored nine Bundesliga goals this season and hit eight in seven games across all competitions prior to Dortmund's 2-1 defeat to Hoffenheim on Friday.

 

ROUND-UP

- LaLiga giants Real Madrid and Premier League champions Manchester City are monitoring Marquinhos' contract impasse at Paris Saint-Germain, writes Le 10 Sport. The Ligue 1 leaders are reportedly unwilling to meet the Brazilian's financial demands as they seek to extend his deal beyond 2022.

- There is a "big question mark" hanging over Paco Alcacer's future at Dortmund as the striker struggles to carve out a regular Bundesliga starting spot, reports Ruhr Nachrichten.

- Tottenham have opened talks over a January move for Flamengo midfielder Gerson, says 90min. The 22-year-old started for Flamengo in their Club World Cup final loss to Liverpool on Saturday.

- Barcelona included Arturo Vidal in their starting XI against Deportivo Alaves on Sunday and are now seemingly determined to block his expected Camp Nou exit. According to Mundo Deportivo, the Chilean's agent has met with club executives in a bid to secure a mid-season switch to Serie A, where Inter are rumoured to be his strongest suitors, but €20m will not be enough to do a deal.

- The Nerazzurri's city rivals might have more success in making a midfield acquisition. La Gazzetta dello Sport claims Stefano Pioli's Milan are interested in United outcast Nemanja Matic, who has been linked to Inter.

Borussia Dortmund have been boosted by Paco Alcacer's return to training following his recovery from a double injury.

The Spain striker, who has scored five goals in six Bundesliga appearances for Lucien Favre's men this season, has been sidelined for almost a month with Achilles tendon and calf muscle problems.

Alcacer's most recent appearance came in Dortmund's 2-2 draw at home to Werder Bremen, but he participated in Sunday's training session, although the club would not confirm a date for his return to action.

That could potentially come against Borussia Monchengladbach in the DFB-Pokal on Wednesday or, should that game come too soon, when Favre's side face Wolfsburg at home in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

Alcacer's involvement would provide some much-needed firepower to a team that have scored just once in their past three outings.

Marco Reus will miss Borussia Dortmund's Champions League trip to Inter due to illness.

Dortmund captain Reus completed 90 minutes despite feeling unwell on Saturday, scoring a 58th-minute winner against Bundesliga leaders Borussia Monchengladbach.

But those exertions appear to have taken a toll after BVB announced the 30-year-old Germany forward will not travel to Milan for Wednesday's match.

Striker Paco Alcacer (calf) and left-back Marcel Schmelzer (hip) are also absentees.

Being without Reus and Alcacer means head coach Lucien Favre is even more likely to recall Jadon Sancho after the England winger was dropped for the Gladbach game following a late return from international duty.

Dortmund are top of Group F after two matches, leading Barcelona on goal difference and three points better off than Antonio Conte's Inter.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.