Erling Haaland is Chelsea's number one transfer target, while a pair of Premier League giants are lining up January bids for Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish.

Borussia Dortmund star Haaland has netted 23 goals in 23 games since moving to the Bundesliga in January, leading to him reportedly being installed as Frank Lampard's top target for the off-season.

Will Haaland make the move to Chelsea?


TOP STORIES – CHELSEA WANT HAALAND

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland has been identified as Chelsea's top transfer target along with West Ham's Declan Rice, according to Sky Sports journalist Angelo Mangiante.

Haaland has been linked with LaLiga champions Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool.

But Haaland is wanted in London as Chelsea prepare for a clear-out, with seven players being made available – Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Jorginho, Marcos Alonso, Ross Barkley, Danny Drinkwater and Victor Moses.

While 2020 has been testing for most, Jude Bellingham will surely look back on it as the year that changed his life.

Having sealed a big-money move to Borussia Dortmund from Birmingham City in pre-season, he subsequently got himself straight into the first-team picture at Signal Iduna Park and has now been rewarded with a first call-up to England's senior side at the age of 17.

It caps a remarkable rise for the young midfielder, who was representing England's Under-16s as recently as April 2019.

His promotion from the Under-21s comes as a result of James Ward-Prowse pulling out of the squad due to injury, with Bellingham set to become the third-youngest England debutant of all-time behind Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott if he features in any of the Three Lions' three games this month.

But, while Bellingham's momentous call-up is a cause for celebration, it has posed questions for manager Gareth Southgate – namely, why not the more experienced options?

Too soon for Bellingham?

There is no doubt Bellingham has started brightly at Dortmund – after all, he has attempted more passes (292) than any other under-18 player in Europe's top five leagues this term, while his dribble success rate (58.3 per cent) is third among players in the same age bracket to have tried 10 or more.

Similarly, no other under-18 player can match his 12 tackles. He has fitted in well with Lucien Favre's high-pressing, attacking style and his adaptation is all the more impressive given his age.

But at the same time, it has been pointed out by Southgate's critics that Bellingham has made just four top-flight starts in his career – can a player truly show the required level of consistency across such a small sample size?

The counter to that argument is, this is by no means a new phenomenon. Raheem Sterling, Harry Winks and Dele Alli are just three of the players to have received senior England call-ups before starting five matches in one of Europe's top five leagues.

Nevertheless, Bellingham's call-up does – on the face of it – seem somewhat premature given there are comparable players of greater experience who have either been excelling recently or have impressed for England in the past.

Maddison and Barkley in the lurch

James Maddison and Ross Barkley appear to be seen as the two most hard done by in being ignored by Southgate.

Bellingham is certainly a more like-for-like replacement of Ward-Prowse than the aforementioned pair, but England have often looked short of creative ideas in the past few months – perhaps Barkley or Maddison would have been welcome additions in that sense.

After all, Barkley is averaging 2.9 chances created per 90 minutes for Aston Villa this term, compared to Bellingham's 1.6, a decrease one might expect for a player who usually occupies a pivot role.

Similarly, Barkley has been involved in three goals (two scored, one set up) to Bellingham's solitary assist, but the choice likely comes down to Southgate's trust – or lack thereof – in the Villa star or Maddison to effectively play a deep role.

While Maddison's distribution accuracy of 90 per cent may be an improvement on Bellingham's 86 per cent, the youngster is averaging many more passes per game (79 to 46). Likewise with Barkley, who plays 40 passes every 90 minutes with an accuracy of 83 per cent.

It also seems likely that Maddison is not helped by the fact he has made just two Premier League starts this term, though he was bright against Wolves at the weekend.

It is the sequence data that arguably gives us the greatest insight to Southgate's thinking with regards to this trio, however.

Southgate has a penchant for deep-lying midfielders who are tidy in possession, and Bellingham has been involved in 57 open-play passing sequences per 90 minutes this term, far more than Barkley (39) and Maddison (41).

He also starts such sequences (12 per game) more often than his rivals (11 for Barkley, 7 for Maddison), while 1.4 per 90 minutes end in a shot. This is also greater than the output of Barkley (0.9) and Maddison (0.7).

So, while Barkley and Maddison might offer more in the final third, Bellingham's role as a midfield pivot for Dortmund this term has seen him shine in terms of passing and recycling possession.

England fans may not like Southgate's apparent reliance on deep midfielders, but the fact he has chosen Bellingham to fill in for Ward-Prowse does make sense stylistically.

Dean Smith revelled in Aston Villa's historic win as the Premier League high-flyers preserved their perfect start to the season.

Villa upstaged Leicester City 1-0 thanks to Ross Barkley's stoppage-time effort to make it four victories from four games in the Premier League on Sunday.

Smith's Villa – who narrowly avoided relegation last term – have won their opening four games of a league season for the first time since 1930-31, per Opta.

"I said to the players at the start of the season that we're all about trying to make history," Villa manager Smith said as his team sit second in the table behind Everton.

"We did it in my first season winning 10 games and we stayed up last season. It's important we keep our feet firmly on the ground and stay humble.

"This is a big result for us because I've got so much admiration for Brendan Rodgers and his team. I felt last season they were a top-four team.

"To come here, keep a clean sheet and play as well as we did is very pleasing."

According to Opta, Barkley has scored in each of his two Premier League appearances for Villa (2) – as many as he managed in his last 42 for Chelsea before moving to Villa Park on loan at the start of the season.

Villa and Serie A giants Milan are the only remaining teams in the top five European leagues with 100 per cent records.

Milan and Aston Villa are the only remaining teams in the top five European leagues with 100 per cent records.

All eyes have been on the likes of Juventus and Inter in Italy, while the focus has been on Premier League champions Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal in England.

But Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Milan have been flawless in 2020-21, winning all four of their Serie A fixtures to top the standings.

Ibrahimovic scored twice as the in-form Rossoneri defeated city rivals Inter 2-1 in Saturday's Milan derby.

Milan have scored nine goals – Ibrahimovic contributing four – from four matches, conceding just once to be two points clear of Sassuolo.

For the first time since 1995-96, Milan have won each of their first four seasonal Serie A matches, according to Opta.

Villa also own a perfect record after four matchdays in the Premier League following Sunday's surprise 1-0 victory at Leicester City.

After narrowly avoiding relegation last season, Villa – who have a game in hand – now sit second, having humiliated titleholders Liverpool 7-2 prior to the international break.

Ross Barkley was the hero against Leicester, with Villa boasting the best defensive record with just two goals shipped, while scoring 12.

Villa have won their opening four games of a league season for the first time since 1930-31, per Opta.

Aston Villa have signed attacking midfielder Ross Barkley on a season-long loan deal from Chelsea.

Barkley had made three appearances for Frank Lampard's side in the early stages of the new campaign – scoring in last week's EFL Cup win over Barnsley – but will now spend 2020-21 with Villa.

Villa boss Dean Smith described the signing as "a real coup" as his in-form team look to build on their narrow Premier League survival last season.

Barkley, 26, joined Chelsea from Everton in January 2018 and has been part of squads who have won the FA Cup and Europa League.

However, he has started just 28 Premier League matches in his two-and-a-half-year stay at Stamford Bridge amid struggles to recapture his peak form and fitness displayed while at Everton.

Barkley has 33 caps for England, last appearing at international level in a match against Bulgaria in October 2019.

He joins a Villa team who have won all four of their matches so far this season, two each in the Premier League and EFL Cup.

"Capturing a player of Ross's quality is a real coup for our club and I am certain he will thrive here and improve our team," said Smith as the move was confirmed on Wednesday.

Bayern Munich or Barcelona?

Two of the world's biggest clubs are going head-to-head for Ajax sensation Sergino Dest.

And the club from LaLiga are reportedly favourites to land the teenager.

 

TOP STORY – DEST WANTS BARCA

Ajax full-back Sergino Dest has pushed aside an offer from Bundesliga and Champions League holders Bayern Munich as he looks to join Barcelona, according to Sport.

Bayern and LaLiga giants Barca are both interested in the 19-year-old United States international.

But Dest has his heart set on Barca, where a principle agreement is reportedly in place between the player and Ajax.

 

ROUND-UP

Tottenham and Inter are in talks regarding centre-back Milan Skriniar, reports Sky Sport Italia. Skriniar is wanted by Jose Mourinho's Spurs but the Premier League club are unwilling to match Inter's £55million (€60m) valuation. Benfica's Ruben Dias remains a serious alternative.

- Diario AS claims Real Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez is wanted by Serie A trio Napoli, Roma and Milan.

- The same outlet also reports that Manchester United and Arsenal are two possible destinations for out-of-favour Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti. Former club Lyon, Rennes and Inter have also been linked.

Aston Villa are eyeing Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley on loan, according to the Telegraph. Barkley is down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge.

- Kicker says Barca and Roma have joined Paris Saint-Germain in looking at Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger, who looks set to leave London.

Manchester City are still pursuing Atletico Madrid's Jose Gimenez, says the Daily Star. An alternative to Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly, City's interest in Gimenez could be scuppered as the Uruguay international isolates and recovers from coronavirus.

- Despite already signing Gonzalo Higuain and Blaise Matuidi, Le10 Sport claims David Beckham's Inter Miami remain keen on free agent Edinson Cavani. However, the former PSG forward is still hoping to remain in Europe.

Willian was on target again as Chelsea beat struggling Watford 3-0 at Stamford Bridge to move back into fourth place in the Premier League. 

The Blues suffered a midweek defeat at West Ham and slipped out of the Champions League positions when Manchester United hammered Bournemouth on Saturday. 

Chelsea responded later in the day, Olivier Giroud marking his return to the starting line-up with the opener before Willian scored his sixth goal in his last seven games from the penalty spot late in the first half. 

Ross Barkley added a third in stoppage time as Frank Lampard's side moved two points clear of United, and just one behind third-place Leicester City, a year to the day since the former England international was appointed. 

Watford are just one point and a place above the relegation zone with five matches to play.

Willian fired straight at Ben Foster with Chelsea's first sight of goal and the Watford goalkeeper kept out a Giroud effort before the France striker opened the scoring after 28 minutes.  

The impressive Barkley was the architect, his clever reverse pass giving the former Arsenal frontman the chance to drill into the far corner with his left foot from 10 yards out.  

Chelsea looked increasingly dangerous and were two up just before the break, Willian sending Foster the wrong way after Etienne Capoue needlessly upended the lively Christian Pulisic. 

The busy Foster again denied Giroud after the break, while he also tipped a measured Willian shot around the post as Lampard's men remained on the front foot. 

Kepa Arrizabalaga produced an agile stop to prevent Danny Welbeck from halving the deficit as Watford showed more of a threat, but Barkley rifled home his first league since October 2018 after Pulisic had been denied a penalty as Chelsea cruised to victory. 


What does it mean? Chelsea back on track, Hornets remain in the mire 

After a setback at the London Stadium, Chelsea provided just the response Lampard would have been looking for. 

They had too much quality for a Watford team that were unable to contain the Blues, who caused the strugglers all sorts of problems as they fizzed the ball around on a slick surface with a swagger. 

Pulisic goes from strength to strength 

Pulisic was a constant menace to Nigel Pearson's side, drifting into pockets of space and gliding away from defenders with great skill and pace in another eye-catching performance. The big-money signing from Borussia Dortmund took time to settle in English football but he now looks very much at home. 

Outing to forget for Capoue  

Midfielder Capoue most definitely did not have the impact Pearson would have had in mind, going into the book before conceding the penalty and being hauled off early in the second half. 

What's next? 

Chelsea face a short trip to Selhurst Park for a London derby with Crystal Palace on Tuesday, while the Hornets host bottom side Norwich City on the same day. 

Frank Lampard has no concerns over Chelsea's young players, despite conceding his side were far below their best against Leicester City.

Ross Barkley came on from the bench to score in the 63rd minute on Sunday, securing a 1-0 victory to send Chelsea through to the FA Cup semi-finals, with Manchester United up next on July 18 or 19.

However, Lampard's side were second best in the first half, with the Blues boss making three changes at half-time – Barkley being one of the alterations. 

Mason Mount, Billy Gilmour and Reece James were the players to make way, but Lampard insists he has full confidence in the young trio.

"The first half wasn't what we're used to in terms of performance this season," Lampard, who took advantage of the temporary rule allowing five substitutions, told a news conference.

"We seriously lacked urgency and intensity in the first half, so the three subs... I probably could have made more subs or different subs.

"Of course, if we didn't have the extra subs, I wouldn't make the three at half-time, but the reason the subs are here is because they are trying to prevent injury and understand that the players have missed a proper pre-season.

"We can probably look at that we had three big games in a week, a very difficult game on Thursday, so I'll allow us a bit of credit, and the fact they showed enough to turn it around against good opposition.

"I don't think we have played that badly this season in 45 minutes; we played a lot better and lost games. So when it looks like I'm criticising, I'm actually positive that it's not the norm for us but it felt like it had to be addressed.

"I could've made different changes as well. In Mason's situation, he played two games in a week and gave a lot of input against Man City. Reece James hasn't played in a long time since going into lockdown and Billy's the same, so there are contributing factors around it.

"They are going to be top players, they will have top careers in football - that's the players they are - so whether you can call it a learning experience, I did do that.

"They are all good lads, they train well and I've never had a problem with them at all, so I've got no worries."

One player who did draw Lampard's praise was goalscorer Barkley, who has looked sharp since the resumption of the campaign.

"I played with Ross and I know he's a great lad. He wants to be the best player he can be and has a great attitude," Lampard added.

"Before lockdown, he put in some really good performances for us, his attitude has been spot on in training, he looked after himself in lockdown, and he was unfortunate not to start against Aston Villa. Since then, he's made an impact in every match he's played.

"I've got lots of time for Ross. He's a big player for us - you saw that today and in the last three games."

Ross Barkley came off the bench to secure Chelsea a 1-0 victory at Leicester City and take Frank Lampard's side into the FA Cup semi-finals.

Lampard made three substitutions after an underwhelming first-half display and they changed the game for the Blues, with Barkley – one of those introduced – getting the decisive goal.

Leicester looked the better side in the opening period and appeared to have greater control of proceedings, though their final pass did not match up to promising build-up play.

Chelsea produced a marked improvement in the second half after Lampard tinkered with his team and Barkley ended the deadlock with a smart finish in the 63rd minute, earning his team a place alongside Manchester United and Arsenal in the last four.

Chelsea were guilty of a sloppy start, but Leicester lacked ruthlessness and did not call Willy Caballero into action until the 20th minute when Youri Tielemans saw his 20-yard effort turned wide.

Lampard's men had another couple of escapes soon after, as Harvey Barnes blazed high and wide before Jonny Evans failed to direct a free header on target from a free-kick.

But Leicester had to rely on Kasper Schmeichel to avoid going behind in the 30th minute, the Danish goalkeeper producing a fine reaction save to deny Christian Pulisic.

A seemingly unimpressed Lampard made three alterations at half-time and it led to an improvement – Tammy Abraham finding the net in the 55th minute, only for celebrations to be cut short by an offside flag.

A Ben Chilwell cross hit the crossbar at the other end, but that was a momentary lapse in Chelsea's second-half domination and they deservedly went ahead just past the hour – half-time substitute Barkley expertly turning in Willian's low cross.

The Blues should have finished Leicester off on the break in the 89th minute, but Barkley's initial pass to Ruben Loftus-Cheek was poor and when the ball was returned to him the former Everton midfielder's shot was saved in unorthodox fashion by Schmeichel.

It had no impact on the result, however, as Chelsea head to Wembley.

 

What does it mean? Chelsea's depth serves them well

Few would have taken issue with Lampard's starting XI. After all, the three players taken off at half-time – Mason Mount, Billy Gilmour and Reece James – are all fine prospects.

However, when it was not working out, Lampard was able to turn to the likes of Barkley and Mateo Kovacic on the bench, and both were very bright after coming on.

Where there's a Willian, there's a way

His days at Stamford Bridge may be limited, but Willian proved that he certainly still has his uses. Not only did he set up Barkley's winner, he exhibited his hard-working nature with a match-high five tackles.

Mount and Gilmour hooked

Chelsea endured a very poor first half and the performances of their midfielders appeared to contribute to that. Mount struggled to really influence matters in attack, while Gilmour was guilty of a few wayward passes that put his team in real trouble. It was not a surprise to see them both withdrawn at the break.

What's next?

Leicester go to Everton in the Premier League on Wednesday, while Chelsea face London rivals West Ham the same day.

Frank Lampard believes Christian Pulisic has the hunger and ability to become a regular goalscorer for Chelsea following his strike against Aston Villa.

Pulisic netted five minutes after being brought off the bench in Sunday's 2-1 comeback win at Villa Park as the visitors recovered from a goal down.

The United States international converted Cesar Azpilicueta's cross at the back post to cancel out Kortney Hause's opener, before Olivier Giroud added a quickfire second.

And Lampard expects even more from a fit-again Pulisic, who was making his first appearance since New Year's Day after struggling with a groin issue.

"He was hungry. I know that and I felt for him as I felt for all the players with long-term injuries," he said at his post-match news conference. 

"Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] was in the same position, but I know Christian was very hungry. He has trained well. The ability that he has got to arrive in the box is a big thing that I have spoken to him about all season. 

"It is the difference between being a very good player off-the-side as an attacking player or the players at the real top level of the game that arrive and score in the six-yard box and hit big numbers yearly. 

"I really think Christian can do that so I was pleased with the impact he made when he came on. He will start games for us, of course. I think he is going to be a big player for us, not just in this run-in, but going forward."

Ross Barkley, another who has struggled with injuries, also made a big impression during his 35 minutes on the field and Lampard is pleased with the depth of his squad.

"The players who make the differences should always take all the credit. With Christian and Ross, they came on at the same time and have trained well," he said.

"They both had cases to start but I have some good selection problems. Then you have to consider the type of game and that fitness will play a part. 

"Bringing on Christian and Barkley early in the second half was always in my mind depending on how the game went. 

"The way it was going we needed a bit of inspiration, Christian with his goal and Ross did as well. I think it shows how important subs are."

Chelsea now hold a five-point lead over fifth-placed Manchester United after winning away from home in the top flight for the first time in 2020.

Lampard, taking charge of his 100th game as manager, acknowledged the importance of picking up a victory in his side's first game back following the three-month hiatus.

"I am really pleased with the performance," he added. "Aston Villa had the chance to [play a game] once before us, but I think we moved the ball well during the game and dominated possession. 

"It's been a little bit of our story this season, dominating possession but the need to be more clinical. 

"I can definitely give the players some leeway on that one because of the long time off. We showed great quality and character to win the game. I am pleased with the win.

"I think it is important for the group because I think we have seen all the games are looking different. 

"It is an obvious statement with the crowds, but in terms of the actual detail of the games and the tempo, the matches, the tiredness factor that has been coming into them too.

"So we didn't know exactly what we were coming into today but now we have three points when some teams have lost points around us."

Neymar's return to Barcelona could be getting a little closer.

The Paris Saint-Germain star continues to be linked with a return to Camp Nou, where he left in 2017 for a world-record €222million.

While there is uncertainty over whether Barcelona can get a deal done, it seems it may be getting closer.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR CLOSER TO BARCELONA RETURN AS PSG EYE DEMBELE

Paris Saint-Germain remain very interested in signing Ousmane Dembele and it could help Neymar return to Barcelona, according to Sport.

France international Dembele has struggled with injuries since joining Barca from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, but the former Rennes attacker could be set for a return to his homeland.

However, Marca reports Neymar is not a priority for Barcelona with their focus on Inter star Lautaro Martinez and Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic.

Staying at Barcelona and Sport says the club are following Hertha Berlin's 18-year-old midfielder Lazar Samardzic.

 

ROUND-UP

- Timo Werner starred again for RB Leipzig on Sunday with a hat-trick against Mainz in the Bundesliga. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp held a virtual meeting with the forward in recent weeks, according to journalist Raphael Honigstein.

- With Bayern Munich deciding not to buy Philippe Coutinho, the Barcelona attacker's future remains unclear. Le 10 Sport reports Arsenal want to start talks with the playmaker's agent, with head coach Mikel Arteta dreaming of signing the Brazil international.

- Toni Kroos looks set to finish his career at Real Madrid. AS reports the 30-year-old midfielder has no interest in leaving Madrid, where he is contracted until 2023, amid links to MLS and the Chinese Super League.

- Odion Ighalo's Manchester United career may be over already. According to the Daily Mail, Shanghai Shenhua have rejected the Premier League club's requests to keep the forward – who has scored four goals in eight games for United – on loan for another three months.

- Could Raul Jimenez leave Wolves for Juventus? Todofichajes reports Juve offered Adrien Rabiot plus €30m (£26.7m) for the star forward.

- Less than a year after leaving Newcastle United, Rafael Benitez is being linked with a return. Benitez, now coach of Dalian Professional in China, wants to return to the club if their proposed takeover is resolved, and sign Manchester City defender John Stones and Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley.

Ross Barkley's reaction to a difficult 2019-20 season has been "spot on", according to Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard.

England international Barkley made 27 Premier League appearances for Maurizio Sarri in the previous campaign but has featured in the top flight just seven times under Lampard.

The 26-year-old, who the Blues boss insisted will not be leaving Stamford Bridge in January amid reported interest from West Ham, sustained a foot injury in October that sidelined him for two months.

He was also criticised by Lampard after a pair of videos emerged – one of him arguing over spilt chips with a taxi driver in Liverpool and another of him dancing topless in a Dubai nightclub.

However, Barkley scored in the 2-0 FA Cup third-round win against Nottingham Forest on January 5 and completed the 90 minutes against Burnley, just the second time he has done so in the Premier League this season.

"There have been a couple of issues this year with Ross. He knows that and I know that," said Lampard.

"I think his training, in the last month particularly, has been absolutely focused. And let's factor in the injury he had which was really niggly. It was a difficult one for him because he was one foot in training and one foot out.

"He was training at a certain per cent to show he was there, but he clearly wasn't. I respected that because he was trying.

"Now that's cleared up and he is showing his qualities, particularly against Burnley. So that's great news for all of us.

"We had a couple of chats around those things. As I said at the time, I really like Ross and in my career, I had moments where I did things that I slightly regretted.  It's what you do to get out of them that's really important. 

"And Ross' reaction in the past month has been spot on, in terms of how he is around the place. I'm a great believer in that how you train relates to how you play, and he has shown that."

Lampard acknowledged the modern era makes it difficult for off-field incidents to go unnoticed but believes professionalism is of paramount importance.

"My biggest concern was not really the bag of chips [in the Liverpool taxi incident], it was more the fact that we were training the next day," said the Blues boss.

"That is exactly where I see it and Ross knows that and I am not one to tell my lads, 'Don't have a bag of chips, don't have a few beers after you win a game.'

"Just make sure that when you think about the big scheme [of things], you do it with the idea you have to train and perform at a level and, as the game has moved forward and the speed and intensity of it even more so from my day and from eras gone by, the players have to be absolutely tip-top or this game will find you out.

"That's not just a thing to Ross, that is to all the players about how they live their life."

Barkley's return to the starting line-up was aided by a hamstring injury to N'Golo Kante, but the France international could make his first appearance since January 1 against Newcastle United on Saturday.

"He's had a few issues through the week. I think it's a decision I have to make with absolute certainty but at the minute it looks like he's good to go," added Lampard.

Frank Lampard has ruled out a January exit from Chelsea for Ross Barkley, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek is taking positive steps in his return to fitness.

Barkley was a regular for Maurizio Sarri last season but has made just six Premier League starts under Lampard, though a foot injury suffered in October ruled him out for almost two months.

A reunion with David Moyes, who handed him his top-flight debut at Everton in 2011, at West Ham had been touted, but the Blues boss was adamant the England international will not be leaving.

"There's no talk here of Ross Barkley going anywhere. He's our player. I've got a lot of faith in Ross. That's news I heard like everyone else this week," said Lampard.

Asked about other potential departures, Lampard said there has been no movement on a deal for Olivier Giroud, who is reportedly a target for Newcastle United – Chelsea's opponents on Saturday – Aston Villa and Inter, while Willian will be staying put and could extend his contract beyond this season.

"Olivier Giroud there may be something that can happen. He's experienced and I have a great relationship with him. If the circumstances fall right it might happen.

"Willian is not going anywhere. His contract is up at the end of the season but he's still in talks with the club."

Lampard remains open to potential incomings at Stamford Bridge but assured there was "nothing imminent".

However, his squad could be bolstered after the February break with Loftus-Cheek stepping up his recovery from an Achilles rupture that has ruled him out since May.

"He's training now with the Under-16s, Under-18s and then the Under-23s in a short space of time, which is good for us. The sooner he can be back with us the better," said Lampard.

"We're working in every way. There's a different look on his face, more smiley and happy. It's been tough. He's not one that's walked around head down creating a negative atmosphere, but it's a lonely place.

"He's integrating more towards us now. It can be forgotten we've missed a hugely influential player. If he can be training with us after the break he might not be far away."

Lampard added that Christian Pulisic is in line to return from a groin problem next month.

Manchester United will reportedly need to improve their offer to Sporting CP if they are to land Bruno Fernandes.

Fernandes, 25, is linked with a January move to Old Trafford, but it seems talks are ongoing between the clubs.

The Premier League outfit will need to raise their offer to land Fernandes, with some distance seemingly still between the sides.

 

TOP STORY – SPORTING WANT €65M FROM MAN UTD FOR FERNANDES

Sporting want £55.4million (€65m) from Manchester United for Fernandes, according to TVI 24.

The report says United are offering £42.6m (€50m) plus bonuses for the midfielder.

With Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba injured, United are desperate to strengthen in midfield this month.

 

ROUND-UP

- Christian Eriksen could be nearing a move to Inter. The Tottenham midfielder's agent Martin Schoots had dinner with Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta on Thursday, according to CalcioMercato.

- Tottenham must continue their search if they are to replace the injured Harry Kane this month. The Sun reports a possible move from Milan to Spurs for Krzysztof Piatek appears over and Tottenham are now looking at Porto forward Ze Luis or Napoli's Fernando Llorente, who left the club at the end of last season.

- Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare is deciding between Manchester United and Chelsea, according to Sky Sports, although no move is expected until after the Ligue 1 club face Paris Saint-Germain on January 26.

- Staying at Old Trafford and Manchester United will be offered Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani for free at season's end, according to the Manchester Evening News.

- West Ham's bid to sign Ross Barkley is not over yet. The Mirror reports the club will not give up on trying to land the Chelsea midfielder, who has made just seven Premier League appearances this season.

- Arda Turan remains contracted to Barcelona, but the midfielder knows where he wants to go next. The Turkey international is interested in signing with Boca Juniors, according to Sport, after terminating his loan agreement with Istanbul Basaksehir earlier this month.

David Moyes admitted he would be "interested" in any player he believes could improve West Ham, though he stopped short of confirming reported interest in Ross Barkley.

England international Barkley has been linked with a January loan move to the Hammers, who missed out on Gedson Fernandes after he joined rivals Tottenham on Wednesday.

Midfield is an area of need for West Ham given Jack Wilshere continues to be beset by injury problems and Barkley is thought to be of interest to Moyes.

Former Everton boss Moyes handed a 17-year-old Barkley his Premier League debut back in 2011 and was asked about the two linking up again at London Stadium.

"One thing I won't do is not talk about players at other clubs," Moyes said at a news conference.

"Anything which we think will improve our side I will be interested to bring in."

Barkley played 27 times in the Premier League for Chelsea last season under Maurizio Sarri but has fallen down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge since Frank Lampard's arrival.

He started Lampard's first Premier League game in charge, a 4-0 loss to Manchester United in August, but has made only five further starts in the top flight.

A foot injury suffered in October kept Barkley out for nearly two months, while the midfielder was also criticised by Lampard after two videos emerged - one of him arguing with a taxi driver in Liverpool and another of him dancing topless in a Dubai nightclub.

On the field, Barkley scored four goals in six appearances for England in Euro 2020 qualifiers.

On the prospect of signing British players, Moyes added: "It's not easy to get British players.

"[It is] maybe easier to get a Premier League player or from abroad but still trying to get the right ones in is important.

"We are working on two or three things at the moment, but we are not close to anything."

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