Real Madrid are already eyeing a move for Liverpool star Sadio Mane at the end of the season.

Mane has developed into one of the world's best attackers, starring for the Premier League leaders and finishing fourth in the 2019 Ballon d'Or.

Now, another one of Europe's biggest clubs are making initial moves for the 27-year-old.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID MAKE CONTACT OVER MANE MOVE

Real Madrid have spoken to Mane's representatives about a possible move, according to Le 10 Sport.

Mane is contracted at Liverpool until 2023, but appears to be attracting interest from the LaLiga giants.

The Senegal international has scored 14 goals and provided eight assists in 27 games in all competitions this season.

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- The January transfer window will see Chelsea and Manchester City enter a bidding war for Leicester City defender Ben Chilwell, according to The I.

- Similarities between Moussa Dembele and Didier Drogba have made the Lyon striker a target for Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, according to Sky Sports News, with the 23-year-old having scored 10 goals in 25 appearances for the Ligue 1 side this season.

- Mikel Arteta is keen to assess all of his options as he aims to lift Arsenal back into the top half of the Premier League table, and he is considering a recall for £27million centre-back William Saliba from his season-long loan at Saint-Etienne according to The Mirror.

- Also on Arsenal's to-do list is a bid for promising RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano, who is also a target for Tottenham and Manchester United, according to the Daily Mail.

- Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce wants to bolster his midfield with the addition of Burnley pair Danny Drinkwater and Dwight McNeil, and reports in The Telegraph say Genk striker Mbwana Samatta is also on his radar.

- Carlo Ancelotti said he will wait until January 5 before discussing potential transfer targets with the Everton board and when he does El Desmarque has suggested Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriguez could be one of the names on his list.

Some of Europe's top clubs are already making signings ahead of the January transfer window, but Real Madrid's focus, at least for now, looks to be on securing the services of a current player.

Karim Benzema remains one of Madrid's key men, with 12 goals in 17 LaLiga matches this term.

Los Blancos will reportedly reward the striker's fine form with a contract renewal in the coming months, keeping him at the Santiago Bernabeu for another two seasons.

 

TOP STORY – BENZEMA TO STAY UNTIL 2022

Karim Benzema has agreed to sign a new contract with LaLiga giants Real Madrid, according to Marca.

Benzema's current deal had been set to expire in 2021, but an extension is imminent. The newspaper reports the Frenchman will be rewarded improved terms on a new contract to run until 2022 due to his outstanding form.

With Madrid enjoying a midseason break, they are said to have agreed a deal with Benzema that will be made formal at the end of the campaign.

Benzema's future is apparently a priority for Madrid, with the report suggesting the deal was only capped at an additional year as the player is determined not to outstay his welcome, leaving before his outstanding career wanes.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United reportedly have an interest in Benfica star Gedson Fernandes. Sky Sports say the 20-year-old midfielder, who has fallen out of favour with his club, could be available for £34million (€39.8m) following a loan, rather than for a loftier release clause of £102m. United are desperate to bolster their midfield, with Nemanja Matic tipped to join Inter, Milan or Atletico Madrid.

- Staying at Old Trafford and The Suns says United are eyeing £50m-rated Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin after Erling Haaland signed for Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund.

- The Mirror claims Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will leave Emirates Stadium at the end of the season in pursuit of silverware. Aubameyang has 18 months remaining on his contract.

Chelsea have made enquiries about the release clause in RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner's contract, says The Telegraph. Werner has been linked to Liverpool, United and Bayern Munich.

- El Desmarque says Everton are leading the race to sign James Rodriguez from Real Madrid. Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti worked with James during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu.

- Serie A champions Juventus lead the race to sign Dejan Kulusevski, according to Sky Sport Italia and La Gazzetta dello Sport. The 19-year-old, on loan at Parma from Atalanta, has been linked to United, Arsenal, Napoli, Inter and Liverpool. But Juve are reportedly poised to pay Atalanta €40-50m, while allowing Kulusevski to remain on loan at Parma until the end of the season.

- Calciomercato.com reports Jean-Clair Todibo has an offer from Milan. A deal is said to be done for the Barcelona defender - an initial loan, followed by a €20m fee with no buyback option - but he has not yet agreed to the transfer.

- Having already signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Milan must move on others in the next month. However, La Gazzetta dello Sport reports the Rossoneri are only interested in selling Ricardo Rodriguez and Suso, rather than accommodating loan deals that would suit Watford and Sevilla, respectively.

Napoli are set to announce the signing of Stanislav Lobotka for an initial €16m, according to Calciomercato.com. The midfielder will leave Celta Vigo and sign a contract with the Partenopei until 2024.

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.

Borussia Dortmund have signed one of the hottest properties in European football by completing a deal for Salzburg star Erling Haaland.

The teenage striker sprung to prominence by claiming the Golden Boot at this year's Under-20 World Cup and extended his prolific vein of form in the Austrian Bundesliga and the Champions League.

Dortmund have completed a transfer coup and possibly secured a decisive boost in a wide-open battle for this season's German Bundesliga crown.

But, as ever when a sought-after player completes a major transfer, there are those pondering what might have been.

Here, we look at some potential winners and losers after the Haaland transfer saga reached its conclusion.

WINNERS

Bundesliga title race

Bayern Munich are chasing an eighth consecutive league title in Germany but their grip on supremacy looks to be loosening at the midway point this time around.

RB Leipzig (more on them later) lead the way from Borussia Monchengladbach, with Bayern four points off the summit.

Behind them are Haaland's new employers. Dortmund have struggled for consistency this season but the seven-point gap to Leipzig will suddenly feel a lot more bridgeable. We could see a thrilling run-in.

Jadon Sancho

If Haaland needed proof that a prodigiously talented teenager can thrive at Signal Iduna Park, he did not need to look any further than his fellow 19-year-old.

A veritable assists junkie, England international Sancho will now be supplying the ammunition for a player boasting 28 goals in 22 senior appearances this season.

Sancho's hopes of a first senior title have now increased. Perhaps more significantly in the long term, so seemingly have his prospects of a blockbuster move to one of Europe's super clubs. Dortmund getting hold of another prime asset means they may be more willing to cash in on Sancho at the end of this season.

Manchester United's forwards

Manchester United were one of the clubs heavily credited with an interest in Haaland. However, it is hard to argue a gifted forward line is the part of an unhelpfully thin squad that most needs attention.

On top of that, Anthony Martial has thrived this season when allowed to operate in a central striking role, and Mason Greenwood appears to be a rare goalscoring talent.

Both of those men might well have found themselves frustrated with Haaland in town.

Mino Raiola

He might have a forthcoming January saga concerning Paul Pogba on the agenda, but Haaland's high-profile representative is likely to be fairly pleased with his work here.

Numerous reports claim Raiola is a major beneficiary of the outlay being a relatively meagre €20million, stipulated in the player's Salzburg release clause, with other cash freed up for agent fees.

Additionally, Dortmund are unlikely to be Haaland's final destination. If all goes to plan, he might be looking at a €100million-plus move elsewhere in a couple of years that may allow Raiola to feather the nest all over again.

LOSERS

RB Leipzig

If RB Leipzig were to be denied a first Bundesliga title by a player who joined a rival from their sister club, it would certainly hurt.

A glorious second half of the season for Dortmund may mean some tough conversations within Red Bull's sporting operation.

Looking beyond this term, if Timo Werner's future lies elsewhere, Julian Nagelsmann's side have just missed out on a seemingly readymade replacement.

Salzburg

As a side from the Austrian Bundesliga, selling talents like Haaland for a handsome profit is a vital part of Salzburg's business model.

However, with this deal coming hot on the heels of Takumi Minamoto's similarly cut-price switch to Liverpool, events feel like they are progressing too quickly.

Salzburg's release clauses for the two players appear significantly below market rates, while Hwang Hee-chan is also reportedly on Wolves' radar. After making their mark in the Champions League, Salzburg's status as dark horses in the Europa League is no more.

Manchester United

Aside from the benefits for the likes of Martial and Greenwood, little else about this transfer represents good news for Manchester United.

A lack of success over recent years means it is harder for the 20-time English champions to dine at the top table in transfer terms. Here, there was a chance to secure an exceptional talent at minimal cost.

Then we should consider Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's role. If the manager cannot persuade a player he helped to nurture at Molde, who hails from a country where he is a national hero, how much weight is his talk of United "DNA" likely to hold in future transfer negotiations?

Could Gareth Bale's time in Madrid be coming to an end?

Linked to the Chinese Super League previously, former club Tottenham have emerged as a possible destination for Real Madrid's Bale.

A Spurs star could move in the opposite direction as part of the deal…

 

TOP STORY – SPURS WANT BALE BACK IN EXCHANGE FOR ERIKSEN

Tottenham want to bring Gareth Bale back to North London in a swap deal that would see want-away midfielder Christian Eriksen join Real Madrid, claims The Sun.

It is said that LaLiga giants Madrid would receive £25.7million (€30m) as well as Eriksen in a deal that could reunite Bale with the club he left in 2013.

Eriksen has been linked to Manchester United, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter and other clubs in Europe as his contract runs out at the end of the season.

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea have pulled out of the race to sign Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, paving the way for the England winger to join Liverpool, according to the Daily Express. United and Madrid have also been linked to the 19-year-old.

United and Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain are in the race to sign Leicester City's in-form right-back Ricardo Pereira in January, according to the Daily Mail.

- Wolves' push for a top-five Premier League finish this season could be bolstered by the addition of South Korean forward Hwang Hee-chan, should the Molineux club persuade Salzburg to part with the £23m (€26.9m)-rated forward in a deal mooted by Sky Sports News.

- Sky in Germany reports that Werder Bremen are keen on re-signing Southampton defender Jannik Vestergaard in January.

- Le10sport claims PSG sounded out Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp as a possible replacement for Thomas Tuchel. The report says PSG sporting director Leonardo spoke to Klopp but the German made it clear he is happy at Anfield.

- Sky Sports News claims David Moyes is poised for a return to West Ham to replace Manuel Pellegrini following his sacking. Moyes spent a brief period in charge of West Ham in 2018.

Arsenal have set their sights on RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano. A move for the 21-year-old depends on whether Leipzig can sign Tanguy Kouassi from PSG, according to Le Parisien.

How much will it take to retain the services of Kylian Mbappe?

Paris Saint-Germain are desperate to ward off Real Madrid, who want to bring Mbappe to the Santiago Bernabeu.

A huge contract offer is reportedly on the horizon in Paris.

 

TOP STORY – PSG READYING BUMPER NEW DEAL FOR MBAPPE

Paris Saint-Germain have offered superstar Kylian Mbappe a five-year contract worth €32million per year amid interest from Real Madrid, according to journalist Nicolo Schira.

LaLiga giants Madrid are reportedly ready to go all out for Mbappe at the end of the season – head coach Zinedine Zidane desperate to work with his fellow Frenchman.

Amid doubts over Neymar's future in Paris as LaLiga champions Barcelona continue to be linked with a reunion, PSG are desperate to hold onto Mbappe.

ROUND-UP

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has agreed to return to Milan, according to Sky Sport Italia and reports in Italy. A free agent since leaving MLS outfit LA Galaxy, the 38-year-old has reportedly signed a six-month contract with the option of another year. Ibrahimovic spent two seasons previously playing for Milan from 2010 to 2012, winning the Scudetto.

- According to Calciomercato, Antonio Conte's Inter continue to dream of signing Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal, who wants to leave Camp Nou as soon as January.

- While Vidal could leave, Sport reports Barca are interested in signing Stefano Sensi. The Italian midfielder is on a season-long loan deal at Inter from Sassuolo.

- La Repubblica claims Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is valued at €105m amid links to Serie A champions Juventus and Inter.

- PSG forward Edinson Cavani will not force through a move to Atletico Madrid, says Mundo Deportivo. Cavani – out of contract at the end of the season – has reportedly agreed a deal to join Atletico, however, the veteran is unwilling to leave PSG on bad terms.

- The Evening Standard says Everton's Richarlison has been considered by United as they look to fill the void left by Romelu Lukaku. Salzburg sensation Erling Haaland tops the list of United's attacking targets, however, he is also wanted by RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund and Juve.

Mino Raiola holds all the cards when it comes to Manchester United's transfer plans.

United are interested in Salzburg sensation Erling Haaland, while Paul Pogba wants to reportedly leave Old Trafford.

With that in mind, the Red Devils may be forced to pick between the two.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND IN, POGBA OUT?

Manchester United are worried signing Salzburg striker Erling Haaland may force Paul Pogba out of the club, according to the Daily Star. 

United are interest in-demand sensation Haaland, who has also been linked to Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig

Haaland is represented by Mino Raiola, who is also the agent of United star Pogba – previously linked to former club Juve and LaLiga giants Real Madrid.

United fear Raiola could throw a spanner in the works as doubts remain over Pogba's future in Manchester.

 

ROUND-UP

- Premier League champions Manchester City have identified Villarreal's Pau Torres and Benfica centre-back Ruben Dias as possible defensive reinforcements in January, reports The Telegraph.

- Express Sport says Chelsea are unwilling to meet Dortmund's £100million (€117m) valuation of star Jadon Sancho, who has also been linked to United, Liverpool and Madrid. Chelsea are believed to be keeping tabs on Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha and Leipzig striker Timo Werner.

Arsenal pair Mesut Ozil and Shkodran Mustafi could leave Arsenal in January, reports Football London. Turkish giants Fenerbahce have emerged as a possible destination for Ozil.

Rangers have made contact with out-of-favour Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud over a possible move to Glasgow, according to L'Equipe.  Coming off contract at the end of the season, Giroud has also been linked to Inter.

RB Leipzig chief Oliver Mintzlaff said it is difficult to compete with Manchester United, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund for the signature of Salzburg sensation Erling Haaland.

Haaland is hot property as the in-demand Salzburg striker continues to be linked with Premier League giants United, Serie A champions Juventus, and Bundesliga duo Leipzig and Dortmund.

United are reportedly favourites to prise Haaland to Old Trafford thanks to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's relationship with the 19-year-old Norwegian he coached at Molde.

As speculation intensifies ahead of the January transfer window, Mintzlaff discussed the pursuit of Haaland amid doubts over Timo Werner's long-term future in Leipzig.

"Yes, we met with him. We are interested in the player, [there is] great interest," Mintzlaff told Sport1.

"He listened to it, logically, and is very open to a move. He would like to change clubs in the summer at the latest.

"It's not easy. There's Manchester United, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund and a few other clubs as well."

Haaland has taken Europe by storm with his 28 goals for Austrian outfit Salzburg this season.

Signed from Molde this term, Haaland has netted 16 league goals and eight Champions League goals.

For the first time since 2010, neither Bayern Munich nor Borussia Dortmund are top of the table at the halfway stage of a Bundesliga season, with RB Leipzig the team to catch after the winter break.

A 3-1 win over Augsburg on Saturday secured the informal 'herbstmeisterschaft' (autumn championship) for Leipzig and they hold a two-point lead at the summit after Borussia Monchengladbach were held to a 0-0 draw at Hertha Berlin.

Defending champions Bayern are four points off the pace in third, with Dortmund and Schalke a further three points back.

Bayer Leverkusen were top midway through the 2009-10 campaign, a season that ended with Bayern as champions. Since that campaign, Bayern have led the way at Christmas in seven seasons, while Dortmund were the front-runners in 2010-11 and 2018-19.

Julian Nagelsmann's Leipzig scored three goals in the final 22 minutes to come from behind and beat Augsburg.

Striker Timo Werner said: "It was looking like one of those games for a long time. We had lots of chances but the ball just didn't want to cross the line.

"But we managed to turn it around. It shows how far we have come as a team."

Discussing Leipzig's position at the top of the table, Werner added: "Our league standing is just a snapshot and it ultimately doesn't count for much. Nevertheless, we're proud to go into the winter break top of the table."

Lucien Favre said Borussia Dortmund's 3-3 draw with RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga on Tuesday was "very hard to accept".

Dortmund led 2-0 and 3-2 but ended up being held at Signal Iduna Park, where Julian Weigl, Julian Brandt and Jadon Sancho scored for the hosts.

Timo Werner's brace and Patrik Schick's 77th-minute goal saw the spoils shared as Leipzig moved three points clear atop the Bundesliga.

Favre said it was tough to accept Dortmund did not collect three points as they were left in third and four points adrift.

"It was a very good game with a lot of speed. Both teams pressed well at the beginning. After that, we were very good and in the first half we were the better team," he told a news conference.

"Then we led 2-0 and we wanted the 3-0. We had a lot of patience and intelligence. Then we conceded two goals. After that, chapeau to the team.

"You concede these two goals and then score the 3-2. I congratulate my team. Then we conceded the 3-3. We wanted to use a few goal chances afterwards.

"In the end, the result is very hard to accept but I keep the positive things in my head."

Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann accepted his team were fortunate to leave Dortmund with a point.

"In the end, I think it's a lucky point. Everyone has seen that. We wipe our mouths and take it with us," he said.

"We don't apologise, but it wasn't what we could play, especially in the first half. We weren't brave enough and couldn't find any access in the press.

"That's not easy in the third away game in such a short time, if you're not at 100 per cent against such a strong team.

"Then, on the other hand, there's our own possession of the ball and in that aspect we were incredibly weak."

Pep Guardiola will renew rivalries with Real Madrid after Manchester City were drawn to face Los Blancos in a blockbuster Champions League last-16 tie.

With City 14 points adrift of leaders Liverpool in the Premier League, success in Europe is likely to be Guardiola's main priority this season.

But their hopes of glory in the continent's premier club competition were not helped by a daunting clash with LaLiga giants Madrid, who have triumphed in four of the past six editions.

Guardiola is no stranger to Madrid having spent four years in charge of their fierce Clasico rivals Barcelona, while he was Bayern Munich coach when they were defeated 5-0 over two legs in the 2013-14 Champions League semi-finals.

Madrid have previous against City in the competition, too, coming out on top in a last-four clash in the 2015-16 campaign.

Holders Liverpool face Atletico Madrid – runners-up in 2013-14 and 2015-16 – in a return to the Wanda Metropolitano, the scene of the Reds' 2-0 win over Tottenham in last season's final as they became European champions for a sixth time.

Jurgen Klopp's side finished top of Group E by a solitary point from Napoli, who have the unenvious task of facing LaLiga champions Barcelona – aiming to get their hands on European football's most coveted prize for the first time since 2014-15.

In a draw brimming with sub-plots, Thomas Tuchel will return to Borussia Dortmund with his Paris Saint-Germain side, while Chelsea and Bayern Munich – the only team to win all six of their group-stage games – face off in what is a rematch of the 2011-2012 final.

Tottenham, aiming to beat their runners-up finish last term, go head-to-head with an RB Leipzig side playing in the knockout stages for the first time.

Juventus will start as favourites in their tie against Lyon, while fellow Serie A side Atalanta – who made the last 16 in their first endeavour into the Champions League – go up against Valencia for a place in the quarter-finals.

The first-leg matches will take place on February 18, 19, 25 and 26, with the return fixtures played on March 10, 11, 17 and 18.

Manchester United could be set to land the most sought-after striker in Europe.

According to a new report, Erling Haaland has identified the Red Devils as his preferred choice from a long list of suitors containing Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig.

The teenager met with the two Bundesliga clubs in midweek, but United appear to have moved to the front of the queue.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND SENDS MESSAGE TO SOLSKJAER

Salzburg star Haaland has told compatriot Ole Gunnar Solskjaer he wants to move to Old Trafford, according to the Mirror.

United have been linked with the 19-year-old for several months and the Norwegian connection could lead him to the Premier League.

However, Haaland's high-profile agent Mino Raiola reportedly wants to keep all options on the table as the January transfer window moves nearer.

The striker's father, Alf-Inge, was said to have visited United's training ground in November, while Haaland held talks with Bundesliga teams Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig this week.

 

ROUND-UP

- Inter's firm interest in Fiorentina winger Federico Chiesa could lead to a transfer tug-of-war with Serie A title rivals Juventus, according to CalcioMercato.

- The Nerazzurri have been linked Alessandro Florenzi, but Atalanta are now in pole position to sign the Italy international if he leaves Roma in January, says Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Rest time might be at a minimum for Kylian Mbappe when the club season winds down. According to Le Parisien, French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet will give the Paris Saint-Germain star the chance to compete at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which begin less than two weeks after the Euro 2020 final.

- Chelsea are considering launching a January bid for Leeds United loanee Ben White, claims the Daily Mail. Brighton and Hove Albion, White's parent club, are reportedly willing to accept offers of £25million.

- Mundo Deportivo suggests LaLiga heavyweights Barcelona are monitoring Thiago Alcantara's situation amid rumours the midfielder has become unhappy at Bayern Munich. Thiago swapped Barca for Bayern in 2013.

- West Ham's victory over Southampton will not be enough to save Manuel Pellegrini from the sack, says the Daily Star. Carlo Ancelotti and David Moyes are among the possible replacements.

Erling Haaland has visited both Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig to discuss a potential transfer, Salzburg sporting director Christoph Freund has confirmed.

Haaland has been in sensational form for Salzburg this season, including scoring eight goals in six games in the Champions League group stage.

The 19-year-old has been linked with a number of Europe's biggest clubs, including Manchester United and Liverpool, who Salzburg faced in the Champions League, with Haaland scoring at Anfield.

However, it appears the Bundesliga could be his next destination after Freund revealed Haaland had travelled to meet with two German clubs.

"We are involved in all discussions," Freund told a news conference on Thursday. "Of course, we also knew that Haaland was in Leipzig and Dortmund [on Wednesday].

"Everyone in Salzburg wants the best for him."

Earlier on Thursday, Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc had refused to be drawn on reports – subsequently confirmed by Freund later on – that Haaland had visited the club.

Haaland, the son of former Leeds United and Manchester City player Alf-Inge, won the Golden Boot at this year's FIFA Under-20 World Cup.

The Norway striker may not be the only Salzburg star to leave the club in the January transfer window; Freund has also confirmed Liverpool are in talks to sign Takumi Minamino.

Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc still refuses to discuss the future of Salzburg star Erling Haaland amid reports he has visited Germany for transfer talks.

It was reported in Germany on Wednesday that striker Haaland went to Dortmund after first heading to RB Leipzig, the sister club of Salzburg, as speculation builds over a January transfer.

The 19-year-old, who scored eight goals in six games in the Champions League group stage, has also been linked with Serie A champions Juventus and Premier League sides such as Liverpool and Manchester United.

A move to the Bundesliga is considered the more likely if Haaland were to move in the next transfer window, with Dortmund eager to bolster their attack due to Paco Alcacer's injury problems, while Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann is said to be a keen admirer.

Speaking on Thursday about the rumours, Zorc told a news conference: "I'd like to reference other interviews that I have already given. I will not comment on this or other individuals right now."

Zorc had previously said, as quoted by Kicker: "The player belongs to Salzburg. It's a matter of respect that you do not speak publicly about players from other clubs."

Haaland, who has scored 28 goals in just 22 games in all competitions for Salzburg this season, is reportedly seen as an ideal fit to spearhead a Dortmund attack that includes Jadon Sancho, Julian Brandt, Marco Reus and Thorgan Hazard.

A run of five wins in 14 games in all competitions had put Dortmund head coach Lucien Favre under scrutiny, but three back-to-back victories, including a 2-1 defeat of Slavia Prague to secure their place in the Champions League last 16, has eased some of that pressure.

However, they head to Mainz on Saturday needing a win to close the five-point gap to Borussia Monchengladbach, the Bundesliga leaders.

Europe's top five leagues have monopolised the Champions League knockout stage for the first time in the competition's history.

With Atalanta's 3-0 defeat of Shakhtar Donetsk, the Serie A side ensured only nations from Italy, England, France, Germany and Spain would complete the last-16 line up prior to the final group fixtures on Wednesday.

Atalanta's win left only one place in the last 16 to be decided, with Atletico Madrid's 2-0 triumph over Lokomotiv Moscow – combined with a 2-0 loss for Bayer Leverkusen at home to Juventus – enough to send Diego Simeone's men through.

It is the first time only teams from the top-tier nations in European football have been included in the draw for the knockout stage, which will take place on Monday.

England – Premier League: Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham

Chelsea and Liverpool had the biggest scares of the group stage when it came to the English sides, though both ultimately qualified.

Current holders Liverpool put in a clinical second-half display to dispatch Salzburg 2-0 in their final Group E match, with Frank Lampard's side progressing from Group H thanks to a 2-1 win over Lille – last season's semi-finalists Ajax dropping into the Europa League despite amassing 10 points

Tottenham were on the wrong end of a 7-2 hammering by Bayern Munich in October, but three successive victories sent them through prior to their second meeting with the German champions, while Manchester City qualified as Group C winners.

France – Ligue 1: Lyon, Paris Saint-Germain

Paris Saint-Germain look like they mean business this season and, after ensuring their place in the next round with a 2-2 comeback draw away at Real Madrid, capped off their Group A campaign in style with a 5-0 thrashing of lowly Galatasaray.

Neymar starred on Wednesday, with Mauro Icardi, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani all scoring too – with their star-studded forward line in such form, Thomas Tuchel's side should be some force in the knockouts.

Memphis Depay was the hero for Lyon, meanwhile, as his 82nd-minute equaliser against RB Leipzig sent Rudi Garcia's side from bottom up to second.

Germany – Bundesliga: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig

Along with PSG, Bayern were the standout performers of the group stage – their haul of 18 points and a goal difference of +19 making them the best group winner in Champions League history.

Leipzig made history when they secured their first participation in the knockout stage thanks to Emil Forsberg's double against Benfica on matchday five in Group G, though Borussia Dortmund had to see off Slavia Prague 2-1 in their final Group F game – and rely on Barcelona to defeat Inter.

Italy – Serie A: Atalanta, Juventus, Napoli

Atalanta seemed on the brink after three straight defeats to start their Group C campaign, yet Gian Piero Gasperini's side battled back – a draw with City and wins over Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar continuing their Champions League adventure, becoming the first side to go through after losing their opening three matches.

Juventus' tally of 16 points in Group D saw them equal their own record – set in 1996-97 and matched in 2004-05 – while Napoli hammered Genk 4-0 on Tuesday to book their last-16 berth, though it was not enough to keep Carlo Ancelotti in his job.

There will be no place in the last 16 for Serie A leaders Inter, though, with Antonio Conte's side dropping into the Europa League.

Spain – LaLiga: Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia

LaLiga, like the Premier League, will have four representatives in the knockout stage. Barca were unconvincing at times in Group F, but had enough to seal their spot with a game to spare before ending Inter's hopes.

Atleti needed to overcome Lokomotiv on matchday six, but did so easily enough thanks to Joao Felix and Felipe – though Kieran Trippier missed an early penalty – and their city rivals Real Madrid ultimately easily progressed from Group A despite a chastening defeat to PSG in their opening match.

Valencia were involved in a mighty tussle with Chelsea and Ajax, who beat them 3-0 in their first home match, but eventually topped Group H thanks to a 1-0 win over the Eredivisie champions on Tuesday.

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