Donny van de Beek has a big part to play this season and his lack of minutes so far only highlights Manchester United's lofty ambitions, according to boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Netherlands international has yet to start a Premier League game for United since joining from Ajax at the start of the season in a deal that could rise to £39.1million (€44m).

He was an unused substitute in Saturday's goalless draw with Chelsea and has barely an hour of football to his name across four league matches this term.

Dutch great Marco van Basten this week became the latest high-profile figure to question his compatriot's decision to join United, having also been linked with Real Madrid.

But speaking ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with RB Leipzig, Solskjaer once again stressed Van de Beek remains a part of his long-term plans.

"When players come into a new league, new team, it is always going to be a time for adaption," Solskjaer said at his pre-match news conference.

"Donny has played well when he has played. It says a lot about our depth of quality that we don't have to use him every game. I also think it says a lot about our ambitions.

"We want to push on and challenge for trophies. Donny will play a big, big part this year. I know the topic is about Donny van de Beek.

"It's nice for some players or commentators to have a go, and I know you're short for time on TV and have to put points across quickly.

"But you don't have to start the first three games to be an important player. I'd be disappointed if my team-mates said I wasn't important because I didn't start many games.

"Donny will be very important for us, don't worry about that."

Solskjaer also named Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic on the bench for the stalemate against Chelsea, with Fred and Scott McTominay getting the nod behind Bruno Fernandes.

The midweek visit of Leipzig presents the Norwegian with another opportunity to rotate in midfield as United look to build on their 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in last week's Group H opener.

"It's going to be a long season. The depth of our squad is better now. To leave players out like Donny, Nemanja and Paul... they're all experienced international footballers," Solskjaer said.

"It's not easy. But we have so many games and they will all play a massive part in different periods. Nobody can play every game.

"When you put 11 together they have to work together as a team. Is it two or three in midfield? Who is on form, who needs a break?"

Solskjaer, who won 12 trophies during an 11-season playing career at Old Trafford, added: "I've been part of a successful Man United team myself.

"We had two players in every position. The more successful teams, the teams that win trophies, they have competition for places. It's not easy, it's very difficult.

"I don't feel pressure. Pressure is getting results. I've got to plan the next three or four games - we need to win more than just the next one. It's a nice problem to have.

"I'd rather have that than play players who are not ready for the Premier League."

McTominay started last week's win at the Parc des Princes and echoed the thoughts of his manager with regards to Van de Beek's limited playing time so far.

"I'm confident he will be an important figure. He has lifted everyone else along with the other new boys - top signings who can lift the dressing room," he said.

"We saw that in Paris, with the performances of Donny and Alex [Telles]. There's no time to panic - people are quick to come to quick assumptions. Let him settle into his new house and concentrate on playing."

United are unbeaten in their last 10 home matches against German sides in European competition, winning seven and drawing three of those, with their last such defeat coming at the hands of Bayern Munich in April 2001.

Manchester United forward Anthony Martial has vowed to work hard and return to his best form after a disappointing start to the 2020-21 campaign.

The France international is without a goal in eight outings for club and country this term and was sent off in United's humbling 6-1 league loss to Tottenham earlier this month.

He has yet to get a single shot on target or create a chance for any of his team-mates in his three Premier League appearances.

That is in stark contrast to his form of 2019-20 when Martial scored 23 goals and set up 12 more across all competitions as United reached three semi-finals.

But Martial, who is into his sixth season at Old Trafford, is hopeful that his best is yet to come in a United shirt.

"The red card was my first ever and it's something I will learn from. But it will at least allow me to work even harder in training to come back even better," he told United Review.

"I still haven't scored yet this season. But I know that as and when I get off the mark with one, everything will be fine.

"So, it's down to me to keep putting in a big effort in training and to then show everybody the real Anthony Martial."

Martial was able to play in last week's Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain as his three-match ban for a clash with Erik Lamela only applies to domestic games.

The 24-year-old became the ninth United player to score an own goal in the competition but played a part in his side's recovery as they prevailed 2-1 in the French capital.

"These things happen. Since it was my hometown club, I just wanted to give them a bit of a helping hand," Martial joked when asked about the own goal.

"Seriously, that kind of thing can happen to anybody, but the main thing was that we managed to score the winning goal right at the death, and that was more important to me."

Martial said what was especially satisfying was that he got one over on a number of friends who support PSG.

"They'd all told me that we were going to lose, and I'd told them that we wouldn't. So when we went on to win I was overjoyed," he said.

Martial's absence against Chelsea on Saturday paved the way for Edinson Cavani to come on as a second-half substitute for his United debut.

The free transfer acquisition scored 200 goals in 301 appearances for PSG and nearly found a way through in the goalless draw with one of his two shots.

Martial has backed the Uruguay international to be a success at Old Trafford, saying: "He's a really great player who has proved exactly that all the way through his career.

"I hope that he'll manage to help us out. It's always a positive to have even more quality within the group."

Martial is in contention to start United's Champions League clash with RB Leipzig on Wednesday as they look to win their opening two games in the competition for only a second time since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

It remains to be seen whether Pep Guardiola will re-sign with Manchester City.

Guardiola's contract expires at the end of the season in Manchester.

Should the Spaniard decide to move on, there are already two men on the list to replace him.

 

TOP STORY – CITY INTERESTED IN NAGELSMANN

Manchester City are eyeing RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann as a possible replacement for Pep Guardiola, according to the Daily Mail.

Guardiola is out of contract at the end of the 2020-21 campaign and the City manager – who has been previously linked to Juventus – is no closer to re-signing.

Should Guardiola decide to leave after arriving in 2016, Nagelsmann and former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino are early candidates.

 

ROUND-UP

Sergio Ramos and LaLiga champions Real Madrid remain deadlocked over contract talks, claims the front page of Monday's Diario AS. The 34-year-old is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and he wants a two-year deal, though Madrid are only committed to 12 months.

- Tuttosport reports Juve and Barcelona are both pursuing Ajax sensation Ryan Gravenberch. The 18-year-old midfielder emerged from Ajax's youth system in 2018.

Barcelona will block a January loan offer from Ligue 1 holders Paris Saint-Germain for Riqui Puig, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Kylian Mbappe extending his PSG contract has not been ruled out, claims L'Equipe. Tipped to eventually join Madrid, while the likes of Liverpool, Barca and Manchester United have also been linked, Mbappe could stay in Paris should certain conditions be met. The Frenchman is keen to see what unfolds in the next transfer windows.

Angelino is showing the benefits of working under Pep Guardiola after he stole the show in RB Leipzig's 2-0 win over Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League, says Julian Nagelsmann. 

The Spaniard, playing left midfield, scored twice at Red Bull Arena – the first of which was a result of a glorious takedown and spin that Nagelsmann described as "world class". 

Angelino came through the youth ranks at Manchester City and spent time in the first team as well as going out on a spate of loan spells, the latest of which took him to Leipzig in January in a temporary deal that was extended for the 2020-21 season with a purchase option included. 

In total Angelino scored from two of his three shots on goal and provided a key pass, while he also gained possession of the ball six times for a Leipzig side that actually had less possession. 

Nagelsmann was full of praise for Angelino's performance, talking up the influence of City boss Guardiola on his development.

"Angelino is only unpleasant when he doesn't play, which only happened twice this year. That pretty much describes his character," Leipzig coach Nagelsmann said.  

"I think Yussi [Yussuf Poulsen] agrees, that he only wants to win. He is like a child that just wants to play all the time. He is almost as bad as me. I'm always playing around with a ball.  

"But he just always wants to have the ball and you see him constantly shooting it. After training he wants to continue. He has a massive playing instinct and he just wants to win all the time and play around with a ball.  

"I have to admit, he arrived after working under a great manager. I can't just praise myself. He came as a well-developed player.  

"We haven't brought many players in from Pep Guardiola, yet, so we can't draw a comparison. But his adaption time was minimal, as he arrived from a great team and a great manager, who surely taught him something.  

"He is inquisitive, listens and implements things, as he is a great footballer with an instinct to play.  

"He wants to work all the time and Yussi is like that too. So you adapt and show great results. To score his first goal today is world class."

Liverpool may need to make a January move for a centre-back after Virgil van Dijk's serious knee injury. 

The Premier League champions were dealt a huge blow with Van Dijk set to miss most - if not the remainder - of the season after a tackle from goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the Merseyside derby draw against Everton. 

Liverpool have been left with just two senior centre-backs – Joe Gomez and Joel Matip – with Van Dijk's injury, although defensive midfielder Fabinho can also provide cover. 

Unsurprisingly, there have been transfer rumours in the aftermath, with the Reds linked with RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano and Brighton and Hove Albion centre-back Ben White. 

Having joined Leipzig from Salzburg for a reported €10million in 2017, Upamecano re-signed earlier this year, but he apparently has a €42m release clause in his contract – although that can only be triggered at season's end. 

Upamecano is highly rated in Europe and, using Opta data, we assess how his performances compare to Liverpool's defenders.

Bright future awaits, but would Upamecano improve Liverpool?

Upamecano, 21, helped RB Leipzig finish third in the Bundesliga and reach the Champions League semi-finals last season.

The France international's tackling numbers were particularly impressive when compared to Liverpool defenders Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip.

In the Bundesliga last season, Upamecano had 1.95 tackles per 90 minutes – with Matip (1.66 per 90 in just nine Premier League games) the closest of Liverpool's trio. However, only Van Dijk (52.2) had a worse tackle success rate than Upamecano (58.8), with Gomez and Matip both above 69.

In the Champions League, Upamecano had 3.4 tackles per 90 minutes , well above Van Dijk (1.08) and Gomez (1.59), and also at a better rate (56) than the Liverpool trio. Matip, often injured in 2019-20, played just 90 minutes in total in Europe's top club competition last season.

Ready to do battle

Upamecano contested the most duels (87) of the four in the Champions League, and went at a success rate of 71.26, similar to Van Dijk (70 duels and 74.29 success rate), while he also had a comparable number of headed clearances per 90 minutes (2.04 to Van Dijk's 2.28) and interceptions (1.63 to 1.08). Gomez had 2.64 interceptions per 90 minutes in the Champions League last season.

Van Dijk's absence will also hurt Liverpool aerially, with the Dutchman an imposing figure in Jurgen Klopp's back four.

Upamecano, who stands at 186cm, was between Van Dijk and Gomez when it came to aerial duels last season. He won 18 of 27 aerials in the 2019-20 Champions League, a rate worse than Van Dijk (33 of 47) but better than Gomez (24 of 41).

It was a similar story in the respective leagues, although he contested fewer than Liverpool defenders. An area Upamecano fell short in, at least domestically, was in being dribbled past by an opponent, which happened 20 times in 28 Bundesliga games, a figure ranking him below both Van Dijk (seven times in 38) and Gomez (11 in 28), but ahead of Matip (seven in nine). 

Boosting Liverpool's build-up play

A problem set to be exacerbated by Alisson's injury absence, Van Dijk's passing ability in defence is also important to how Liverpool function.

In this area, Upamecano may offer the Reds the most. In the Champions League last season, his passing accuracy in the opposition half was 83.1 – higher than the Liverpool trio, including Van Dijk (82.7). When it came to passing accuracy ending in the final third, Upamecano again topped the list (74.1), ahead of Gomez (71.6), and that included averaging 11.7 passes into the final third per 90 minutes.

In domestic action, Upamecano also topped the list in these categories, and his passing accuracy in the opposition half to begin this Bundesliga season is 84.7, while Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip have all dropped off from last season in this area.

The Champions League returns this week after a short hiatus, with beaten finalists Paris Saint-Germain looking to get back up and running – and exact a measure of revenge – against Manchester United.

Juventus begin European competition under new head coach Andrea Pirlo, who faces one of the most experienced coaches in the game in Mircea Lucescu.

Barcelona will endeavour to banish memories of August's 8-2 obliteration by Bayern Munich when they face Ferencvaros for the first time, while Chelsea will hope to improve the poor record Premier League teams have had of late against Sevilla.

Here's the key data from Tuesday's matches in Europe's elite competition...

Dynamo Kiev v Juventus: Pirlo feeling the weight of history

Twice a Champions League winner with Milan in 2003 and 2007, Pirlo's first game in the competition comes away to Dynamo Kiev. None of the previous eight Juve head coaches have lost their first match in charge.

In fact, Juve have only been beaten on matchday one in the competition once in 20 previous seasons, winning 11 of those games and drawing eight. That one defeat was a 3-0 loss at Barcelona three years ago.

Dynamo boss Lucescu will be 75 years and 83 days old on Tuesday, making him the oldest coach in Champions League history, overtaking Jupp Heynckes (who was 72 and 357 days old in May 2018). If he wants to celebrate in style, he will need to inflect just a fifth group-stage defeat on Juve in 34 games.

 

Paris Saint-Germain v Manchester United: Mbappe chasing Messi record

PSG's last home defeat in the competition was that famous loss to United in the 2018-19 round of 16, when Marcus Rashford's late penalty secured a 3-1 win for an understrength Red Devils and sent them through on away goals.

If they are to start their quest for a return to the final with a win, Mbappe might be the man to do it. He has scored 19 goals in the tournament and, at 21 years and 305 days old, he needs just one against United to become the youngest player to reach 20. That would surpass Messi's record, set back in 2010 when he was 22 years and 267 days old.

Of course, if United's unsteady defence focuses on Mbappe, they risk leaving Neymar unchecked. Only Messi (45) had more carries with a take-on in last season's Champions League than Neymar (36), and nobody progressed further with the ball than the Brazil star (1,279 metres).

Barcelona v Ferencvaros: Koeman's worrying numbers

Barca have not lost any of their previous 31 home group games since Rubin Kazan stunned Pep Guardiola's men 2-1 back in October 2009. When you consider Ferencvaros have not been in the competition since 1995-96, when they conceded 19 goals in six matches, you would not expect that Barca run to be stopped.

However, coach Ronald Koeman heads into his first European game in charge with a pretty poor record. The fifth coach to take charge of at least six teams in the competition, after Carlo Ancelotti (eight), Claudio Ranieri (six), Jose Mourinho (six) and Rafael Benitez (six), he has the worst win ratio (26.3 per cent) of anybody to manage at least 50 games in the tournament.

Still, he has Messi. The Barca captain has been involved in at least one goal in 38 of his previous 43 group-stage starts, scoring 56 times and assisting 16.

 

Chelsea v Sevilla: Can Werner lift English spirits?

Sevilla, who knocked United out of last season's Europa League semi-finals, have won all three major European matches against teams from England. Chelsea, meanwhile, have taken one victory from their previous nine Champions League meetings with teams from Spain, drawing five and losing three.

Frank Lampard will hope Timo Werner can make the difference. The forward was involved in nine goals in his last 11 Champions League games for RB Leipzig (seven scored, two assisted) and could become the third German to score for Chelsea in the competition, after Michael Ballack (four goals) and Andre Schurrle (two). He has, however, never scored at home.

Other fixtures:

Lazio v Borussia Dortmund:

3 – Dortmund's last Champions League win in Italy was a 1-0 victory over Milan in March 2003, courtesy of a Jan Koller goal. They have lost all three such visits since.

8 – Only Robert Lewandowski (10) scored more group-stage goals last season than Erling Haaland (eight). Haaland averages a goal or assist every 50 minutes in the competition.

 

RB Leipzig v Istanbul Basaksehir:

6 – Istanbul Basaksehir are the sixth Turkish team to play in the Champions League. Only one of the previous five won their first match – that was Trabzonspor, who beat Inter 1-0 away in September 2011.

14 – RB Leipzig's Hwang Hee-chan created the most chances in open play in the Champions League group stage in 2019-20 (14) when he played for RB Salzburg. He was directly involved in six goals in his six group-stage appearances (three goals, three assists) and was one of two players to both score and assist three goals in the group stage, along with Kylian Mbappe.

 

Rennes v Krasnodar:

2 – Rennes have lost just twice at home in major European games, winning five and drawing seven of those 14 matches, all of which were in the UEFA Cup/Europa League between November 2007 and December last year.

36 – Krasnodar boss Murad Musayev is 36 years and 345 days old, the second-youngest coach in this season's competition (behind Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann, 33). He could become the fifth-youngest to win his first game and the youngest since Andre Villas-Boas in September 2011.

 

Zenit v Club Brugge:

11 – Artem Dzyuba has been directly involved in 11 goals in his 12 Champions League group-stage matches with Zenit (eight goals, three assists). That run includes goals in both games against Belgian side Gent in 2015-16.

19 – Of the 51 teams to have featured in at least 40 Champions League matches, only Steaua Bucharest (9.5 per cent), Dinamo Zagreb (11.9 per cent) and Anderlecht (16.7 per cent) have a lower win percentage than Club Brugge (19 per cent). They have won just eight of 42 matches.

Jamie Carragher says Liverpool need to do whatever it takes to sign RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano in January after losing Virgil van Dijk to a serious knee injury. 

Netherlands international Van Dijk was forced off early in the Reds' 2-2 draw with Merseyside rivals Everton on Saturday after a wild challenge from Jordan Pickford.

Scans have since revealed Van Dijk suffered damage to his anterior cruciate ligament, an injury that will ensure he misses the majority – if not the entirety – of the remainder of the season.

Liverpool have previously been linked with 21-year-old France international Upamecano and Carragher – the Reds' second-highest appearance maker – says Jurgen Klopp needs to bring him in as a matter of urgency when the January transfer window opens. 

"Liverpool's next big signing had to be a centre-back anyway and I am talking next summer," Carragher told Sky Sports. 

"Dejan Lovren went and they didn't replace him so they only have three centre-backs and one of those, Joel Matip, is always injured. There are question marks now about Joe Gomez.

"So, there is no doubt that Liverpool had to go big in the transfer market next summer. That was the next one. That has now got to be brought forward to January 1, whoever the target was in the summer. Not the end of January. 

"There is a young man everyone was talking about at Leipzig, Dayot Upamecano. I think he is only 6'1" or 6'2", so he is maybe not that aerial but if he is the one they wanted then bring it forward. Pay extra money and do it on January 1.

"That means getting through 11 league games without Virgil van Dijk."

The 2020-21 season has only just started but Lionel Messi's future is dominating headlines once again.

Messi wanted to leave Barcelona, but he decided to remain at the embattled LaLiga giants.

Manchester City, who were reportedly tipped to lure Messi to England, are still dreaming of his arrival.

 

TOP STORY – CITY NOT GIVING UP ON MESSI

Manchester City are lining up a move for Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi at the end of the season, reports the Manchester Evening News.

Messi handed in a transfer request prior to the 2020-21 season getting underway and Premier League giants City were favourites to sign the six-time Ballon d'Or winner before he opted to stay.

Pep Guardiola and City, however, remain interested in Messi and will be in a position to land the Barca captain should the opportunity arise next year.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United have identified a list of potential defensive reinforcements that includes RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano and Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, according to The Athletic.

- Fabrizio Romano says goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen's new Barcelona contract until 2025 will be confirmed soon. The 28-year-old's current deal is due to expire in 2022.

- Le10sport claims Paris Saint-Germain are considering a loan move for Inter midfielder Christian Eriksen, who has struggled to establish himself since joining from Tottenham in January.

West Ham are prepared to double Declan Rice's wages to fend off interest from London rivals Chelsea, reports The Sun.

- Tuttosport says Serie A champions Juventus are hoping to rival Madrid for Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga next year. Madrid have identified teenage midfielder Camavinga as a prime target, but Juve feel that by loaning Daniele Rugani to Rennes, it will help build a relationship with the Ligue 1 side.

- Calciomercato reports Lazio and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are facing a decisive season. The Serbia international has been previously linked to the likes of PSG, United, Inter, Juve and Madrid.

Dayot Upamecano is a player in demand.

The 21-year-old RB Leipzig defender and France international is wanted by some of Europe's biggest clubs.

Could he find himself playing for Liverpool or Manchester United?

 

TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE GIANTS WANT UPAMECANO

Premier League champions Liverpool and rivals  Manchester United will go head-to-head to sign RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano, according to Bild.

Upamecano was linked to the likes of Liverpool, United, Real Madrid , Paris Saint-Germain , Barcelona Arsenal and Bayern Munich before re-signing with Bundesliga side Leipzig in July.

However, Liverpool and United are expected to return at the end of the season as they look to bolster their defences.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca claims Luka Modric is prepared to take a wage cut in order to extend his Madrid contract. The 35-year-old midfielder is set to become a free agent at season's end. He has previously been linked to Milan .

- United goalkeeper Sergio Romero wants to move to MLS , says the Daily Mail. Romero, who is behind David de Gea and Dean Henderson at Old Trafford, was reportedly close to joining Everton on loan before Monday's deadline.

- Calciomercato reports Milan are prepared to make another attempt to sign Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare in January.

Atletico Madrid are weighing up a move for Valencia's Geoffrey Kondogbia following Thomas Partey's switch to Arsenal, according to Cadena Ser.

Justin Kluivert has joined RB Leipzig on a season-long loan from Roma. 

Roma paid an initial €17.25million to sign Kluivert from Ajax in June 2018 and he has scored nine goals in 68 appearances for the club. 

Following the arrivals of Borja Mayoral and Pedro at the Stadio Olimpico, however, the 21-year-old has been allowed to leave for Leipzig and is looking forward to the chance to play in the Champions League. 

"I am glad that the move to RB Leipzig worked out. RB Leipzig showed me in the good conversations we had that the move here is ideal to develop myself further, to take the proverbial next step and to help the team in this way," said Kluivert. 

"My goal is to gain match practice here. The Bundesliga is one of the best leagues in the world with high quality, and exciting challenges await us in the Champions League, including Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United – I'm really looking forward to that."

Roma are said to be hoping to bolster their defensive options with a move for Manchester United centre-back Chris Smalling, who spent last season on loan with the Serie A side.

However, it has been reported that a disparity in United's demands and what Roma are willing to pay could make a deadline day move for Smalling difficult.

This year's Champions League campaign will be a "revenge" mission for Paris Saint-Germain, according to midfielder Ander Herrera. 

The French giants fell at the final hurdle in the 2019-20 season, Kingsley Coman's goal enough to hand Bayern Munich a 1-0 victory in August. 

The draw for this season's group stage took place on Thursday, with Thomas Tuchel's men drawn against Herrera's former side Manchester United, RB Leipzig and Istanbul Basaksehir.

Herrera described the group as "spicy" and has warned his team-mates they will need to be at their best to advance to the knock-out stages and give themselves the opportunity to go one better than last season. 

"It's a very strong group," he told Telefoot. "Perhaps the most spicy of all, but we are ready. It will be challenging against Leipzig and Manchester United, who we know well. Also, it's never easy to play in Turkey. 

"There is a feeling of revenge. We want to show everyone we can fight again for this Champions League, but this group of the first round is very strong. If we miss out on a game, we can be eliminated. 

"It will be necessary to be attentive. It will be necessary to prepare for all the matches like finals. Error is prohibited. Everyone dreams of winning this Champions League. We have to play with optimism and the conviction that we are going to win it."

Manchester United completed a stunning last-16 win over PSG in the 2018-19 season, the Red Devils coming back from a 2-0 first leg defeat at Old Trafford to win 3-1 in Paris courtesy of Marcus Rashford's stoppage-time penalty. 

PSG head coach Tuchel agreed with Herrera's assessment that it is a tough group and says he will be aiming to mastermind a repeat of the win at Old Trafford two seasons ago.

"We are happy and looking forward to returning to the Champions League soon," he told PSG TV. 

"It's a very difficult draw, but the goal is to get through this group stage. We know Manchester United very well. We will of course try to repeat the result obtained two seasons ago at Old Trafford and do better at Parc des Princes. 

"I don't know much about Istanbul Basaksehir at the moment, but playing international matches in Turkey is always a big challenge."

RB Leipzig have splashed out a reported €19million on Dinamo Zagreb defender Josko Gvardiol, perhaps preparing them for life without Dayot Upamecano.

Gvardiol, 18, was heavily linked with Leeds United and Lille but has signed a five-year contract with Leipzig, who he will not join up with until July 2021.

The Croatia Under-21 international has been touted as a replacement for reported Manchester United target Upamecano.

However, with Gvardiol remaining at Dinamo for the rest of 2020-21, it remains to be seen if Leipzig will part with Upamecano before the transfer window shuts on October 5.

"I am very happy to be able to take the step to RB Leipzig," Gvardiol said in a statement. "It is one of the top clubs in the Bundesliga and has a clear style of play.

"It was important for me to join a club that could enable me to take the next steps as a professional footballer and as a young player. That is exactly what RB Leipzig embodies.

"The club has proven time and again how well you can develop and improve here. I'm very grateful to Dinamo Zagreb for making this jump possible.

"Until my move to Leipzig, I will do everything I can to achieve the utmost success with Dinamo."

Leipzig sporting director Markus Krosche said: "With Joski Gvardiol we were able to sign of the greatest European defensive talents. As a left-footer, we will have even more variety with him in the squad.

"At the age of 18 he is of course still a young player, but his overall development – both physically and personally – is already very mature.

"Josko will be able to gain more experience and match practice in professional football in Zagreb over the next few months before he joins in 2021.

"We will then continuously build up and further develop Josko according to our philosophy."

Gvardiol, a former team-mate of Leipzig midfielder Dani Olmo at Dinamo, earned his senior debut in October 2019 and has made 16 appearances in all competitions for the Croatian champions.

Erling Haaland chose Borussia Dortmund over RB Leipzig because the latter could not guarantee game time, according to the club's former sporting director Ralf Rangnick.

Norway striker Haaland has been a sensation at Dortmund, scoring 18 goals across all competitions since joining from Salzburg in January.

Leipzig were also said to be in the running for Haaland given their links to the Austrian side but Rangnick acknowledged that at the time Dortmund had a spot in their line-up.

"From everything I know about him and his father, the main reason was that Dortmund could guarantee him a regular place," Rangnick told MDR. 

"Which wasn't so difficult because apart from [Paco] Alcacer they had no central striker. Alcacer was half the size of Haaland and only half as fast and twice as often injured."

The likes of Naby Keita and Dayot Upamecano have made the move from Salzburg to Leipzig and Rangnick was disappointed to miss out on a player of Haaland's quality.

"What a shame for Leipzig, it would have been a perfect match for us, our team and our style of play," Rangnick added.

Leipzig do now have a Norwegian striker in the form of Alexander Sorloth, who failed to make an impact in the Premier League with Crystal Palace but starred on loan for Trabzonspor in Turkey.

"Maybe with Alexander Sorloth a Haaland two will come to RB Leipzig," Rangnick said.

RB Leipzig have signed Alexander Sorloth from Crystal Palace in a deal worth €22million (£20.5m).

Bundesliga side Leipzig have agreed to pay Trabzonspor €10m to terminate Sorloth's loan from Palace, which was due to run until the end of the 2020-21 season.

The Premier League side will also receive €10m (£9.3m) up front, with a further €2m (£1.9m) payable in add-ons to be split between Palace and Trabzonspor.

Norway international Sorloth, 24, has put pen to paper on a five-year contract at the Red Bull Arena after scoring 24 goals in 34 Super Lig appearances last season.

Despite the arrival of Hwang Hee-chang from Salzburg, Julian Nagelsmann was still keen to bolster his attacking options after seeing Timo Werner leave for Chelsea and Patrik Schick join Bayer Leverkusen after his loan from Roma ended.

"After the initial talks, it quickly became clear to me that I wanted to play for RB Leipzig," said Sorloth.

"The club were impressive in the league last season, and even more so in the Champions League.

"The attacking brand of football that Julian Nagelsmann plays suits me well. I'm looking forward to challenge together in the Bundesliga as well as the Champions League."

CEO Oliver Mintzlaff added: "We're very pleased with the signing of Alexander Sorloth. Successfully pulling off this complex transfer was only made possible thanks to the good co-operation among our team, who I'd expressly like to thank.

"Not only does Alexander fit our philosophy perfectly, he is a tough centre forward who can also play out wide, who is the missing piece to our squad-planning puzzle this season."

Prior to 2019-20, Sorloth's best return in a league season was 13 goals from 26 appearances for Bodo/Glimt in the 2015 Eliteserien.

Spells with Groningen, Midtjylland, Palace and Gent preceded his move to Trabzonspor last year.

Will Manchester City finally land Kalidou Koulibaly?

Pep Guardiola's City want defensive reinforcements and Napoli centre-back Koulibaly is reportedly at the top of the list.

If they are unsuccessful, Sevilla's Jules Kounde is next on the list.

 

TOP STORY – CITY NOT GIVING UP KOULIBALY

Manchester City are still in talks with Napoli to sign star defender Kalidou Koulibaly, according to journalist Fabrizio Romano.

City have been tipped to sign Koulibaly, who has also been linked to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

However, City are yet to reach an agreement with Napoli and Sevilla's Jules Kounde is the "backup option" but a bid has already been turned down.

 

ROUND-UP

- Romano says Wolves will complete the signing of Barcelona full-back Nelson Semedo on Monday. It comes as Barca eye Ajax defender Sergino Dest or Real Betis' Emerson to replace Semedo. Norwich City's Max Aarons has also been linked.

Milan have made Fiorentina's Nikola Milenkovic their number one defensive target ahead of Celtic centre-back Kristoffer Ajer, reports the Daily Record.

- Calciomercato claims Juventus are eyeing Real Madrid full-back Marcelo. The Brazilian has been repeatedly linked with a Cristiano Ronaldo reunion in Turin.

- The Telegraph says PSG are interested in Tottenham's Dele Alli. Out of favour under Jose Mourinho, Spurs are reportedly targeting Manchester United's Jesse Lingard as a replacement.

Roma remain interested in Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik but Madrid outcast Luka Jovic has emerged as 'Plan B', according to Calciomercato.

Leeds United are out of the race to sign Dinamo Zagreb sensation Josko Gvardiol, reports Romano. Wanted by Marcelo Bielsa, the Croatian teenager is now set for Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig.

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