Zinedine Zidane's career as head coach of Real Madrid looks set to come to an end after a trophy-less 2020-21 season.

Madrid finished as runners-up in LaLiga, while they were knocked out in the Champions League semi-finals and exited in the last 32 of the Copa del Rey.

Zidane returned to take charge of Los Blancos in 2019, after a previous stint from 2016 to 2018 where they won Europe's continental crown three times in a row.

 

TOP STORY - ZIDANE STEPS DOWN AT MADRID

Spanish outlets AS and Marca both are reporting Zinedine Zidane will step down as Real Madrid head coach.

The former France international has reportedly informed the club of his final decision following weeks of speculation around his post.

Zidane had requested a few days to consider his options and has now made his final decision and contacted his players individually, the reports say.

 

ROUND-UP

- Het Nieuwsblad reports that Belgium international and Leicester City's FA Cup final hero Youri Tielemans is among Liverpool's targets as they seek to replace Georginio Wijnaldum.

- Liverpool have also reportedly agreed to a five-year deal with RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate, according to ESPN.

- The Mirror reports that Leicester City may offer a deal to Schalke defender Ozan Kabak after he spent the second half of the season on loan at Liverpool.

- Kicker reports that Bayer Leverkusen are pondering an off-season swoop for Arsenal defender William Saliba.

- Le10Sport claims that French champions Lille are ready to replace the departed Christophe Galtier with Thiago Motta at the helm.

Harry Kane's reported desire to leave Tottenham has created a race for his signature.

A lack of silverware is believed to be behind Kane's alleged urge to move on, with Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea the leading suitors.

In the post-COVID world where club finances have been hit hard, some clubs are getting creative.

 

TOP STORY - CHELSEA'S PLAYER-PLUS-CASH SWAP DEAL

Chelsea are launching a player-plus-cash swap deal to land Kane from Tottenham involving goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and forward Tammy Abraham, claims ESPN.

Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris is expected to leave the club, hence the lure of Kepa who has been back-up to Edouard Mendy, while Abraham, who is not a regular starter for the Blues, could help to fill the void left by Kane.

Kane is contracted with Tottenham for another three seasons and Spurs are believed to want a transfer fee of £150 million, so the addition of players would drop that figure down to an affordable level.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Guardian reports that Sergio Aguero has agreed to a two-year deal with Barcelona, with his departure from Manchester City this off-season already confirmed.

- Arsenal's Sead Kolasinac will leave the Gunners, with Schalke 04 and Lazio circling for the Bosnian's signature, reports Football London.

- Fernandinho was set to exit Manchester City, but The Times claims he will renew with the club on a one-year deal.

- The manager merry-go-round is in full swing, with The Mirror claiming that Wolves are looking at ex-Roma boss Paulo Fonseca, while The Sun reports that Tottenham will try to convince Brendan Rodgers to join the club if Leicester City fail to qualify for next season's Champions League.

Europe's top five leagues all conclude this week and there are still plenty of matters to be resolved – not least who will be crowned champions in Spain and France.

Every division has something riding on the final days of the season, whether it be top spot, European qualification, or relegation.

Ahead of what is set to be a dramatic conclusion to the Premier League, LaLiga, Ligue 1, Serie A and the Bundesliga campaigns, we look at the state of play in each league.

 

PREMIER LEAGUE

Manchester City wrapped up the Premier League title with three games to spare, making them the first team in the competition's history to win the title despite being as low as eighth on Christmas Day.

All three relegation places were also decided with three games remaining – a Premier League record – with Fulham joining Sheffield United and West Brom in dropping down a division.

That leaves just the European spots to fight for, and it is shaping up to be an entertaining end to the English top-flight season in that regard. Manchester United are guaranteed a top-four finish, but five other teams – Leicester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and West Ham – are in the mix for the two other Champions League berths with two rounds of games to go.

There is also the small matter of the Europa League places for the teams finishing in fifth and sixth, as well as a spot in the inaugural Europa Conference League, which goes to the team in seventh, meaning everyone from 10th-placed Leeds United to Leicester in third have something to play for. That includes Arsenal, who have not missed out on European football of some sort in 25 years.

LALIGA 

The Spanish title race appeared to take a dramatic twist on Sunday as Real Madrid leapfrogged Atletico Madrid at the summit for around 20 minutes. However, Atleti scored two late goals to beat Osasuna, meaning they are two points ahead of their city rivals heading into the final round of games.

Atleti, who have led the way at the top for 29 matchdays, now need to match Madrid's result against Villarreal when they travel to relegation-threatened Real Valladolid on the final day of the season. It is worth noting that Los Blancos have the superior head-to-head record, so a draw would not be enough for Atleti if Madrid win.

Barcelona are officially out of the title race, meanwhile, but they are assured of a top-four finish along with Sevilla. Real Sociedad and Real Betis occupy the Europa League spots, while Villarreal are in a Europa Conference League berth, though just one point separates the three teams so that could all yet change.

To complicate matters, Villarreal could still qualify for the Champions League by winning the Europa League final against Manchester United.

At the bottom end of the division, Eibar are already relegated and they will be joined by two of Valladolid, Elche or Huesca. Valladolid must beat Atletico in their final game to have a chance of staying up, while the onus is on Elche to better Huesca's result as they are level on points but have an inferior head-to-head record.

LIGUE 1

The Ligue 1 title battle is also going right down to the wire in a three-way dogfight. After a thrilling race that has lasted the course of the season, underdogs Lille lead heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain by one point with one matchday left.

Monaco have won seven of their previous eight games and are three points off leaders Lille, though they require both Les Dogues and PSG to slip up on the final day, as well as beating Lens. Should it come down to goal difference, PSG hold a big lead over their two title rivals.

Incredibly, PSG are still not yet technically assured of a Champions League place as Lyon in fourth are only three points worse off, although it would take a defeat for the reigning champions and victory for Lyon, plus a goal swing of 16, for them to miss out.

Monaco's opponents Lens, incidentally, also have plenty to play for at the weekend as they are sixth – enough for Europa Conference League qualification – but can still be caught by Rennes in seventh, while they could yet overtake Marseille in fifth if results go their way.

At the opposite end of the table, there may only be one spot left to be settled in the bottom three – Dijon and Nimes are both already down – but six teams are still very much in danger of the drop. Nantes occupy the relegation play-off spot, with Lorient, Brest and Strasbourg just a point better off, and Bordeaux and Reims only two points clear.

SERIE A

With Inter being crowned Scudetto winners for the first time in 11 years at the start of the month, the biggest storyline in Serie A regards Juventus' top-four fate. The dethroned champions, who had finished top nine years running before this season, are currently down in fifth.

Juve are one point behind Napoli and Milan in the two spots directly above them, while Atalanta are three points better off in second and have the better head-to-head record against the Bianconeri.

Andrea Pirlo's side are therefore in need of favours on the final day in what is poised to be a nail-biting finale in terms of those Champions League places. Lazio will finish sixth, so they are assured of Europa League football next term, while Roma hold a two-point advantage over Sassuolo in the Europa Conference League position.

Parma and Crotone are both down already and one of Benevento or Torino will join them, the latter currently three points outside of the relegation zone and with a game in hand to play on Benevento.

BUNDESLIGA

RB Leipzig provided Bayern Munich with some stern competition for a while, but the Bavarian giants' quality eventually told and they are Bundesliga champions for a ninth year running.

It's not only the title race that's done and dusted in Germany, in fact, as RB Leipzig are certain of second place, and both Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg will join them in the Champions League next season.

Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen, meanwhile, will finish in fifth and sixth respectively regardless of events later this week.

However, Union Berlin have work to do if they are to finish seventh for a place in the Europa Conference League play-offs as Borussia Monchengladbach are a point further back, while Stuttgart and Freiburg are two behind with a game to go.

Seven-time German champions Schalke will be competing in the second tier of German football next season, but Cologne and Werder Bremen are hanging on in there, sitting two and one point behind Arminia Bielefeld respectively in 15th place.

Schalke are seven-time Bundesliga champions and one of the biggest names in world football.

A sporting institution and breeding ground for future greats, the Royal Blues were runners-up as recently as 2018. Schalke, led by Raul, were also Champions League semi-finalists in 2011. So, after 30 straight seasons in the top flight, it seemed unfathomable that one of the Bundesliga's founding members could drop down to Germany's second tier.

But they will be playing in 2. Bundesliga in 2021-22, their demise made official with four matches remaining after Tuesday's 1-0 defeat to Arminia Bielefeld.

It has truly been a dismal season for the club who have unearthed Manuel Neuer, Leroy Sane, Mesut Ozil, Benedikt Howedes and Julian Draxler thanks to their famed academy.

Schalke only have two wins to their name from 30 matches for a paltry 13 points.

The turbulent nature of their campaign has been headlined by five coaches in a season – a Bundesliga record.

After David Wagner was given his marching orders in September, Manuel Baum lasted until December before Schalke turned to one of their favourite sons Huub Stevens – a UEFA Cup and DFB-Pokal winner – on an interim basis. Christian Gross was hired but he and other senior staff officials were sacked by February as part of a shake-up amid internal turmoil and player unrest. The relatively unknown Dimitrios Grammozis was appointed in March, however the club were already doomed.

Kevin Kuranyi – one of Schalke's finest – spent five years in Gelsenkirchen, where the former Germany international was their leading goalscorer from 2005-08 as the team finished runners-up twice and secured three consecutive Champions League berths, including a quarter-final showdown against Barcelona in 2008.

"For me was special to play for such a big club," Kuranyi, who left Schalke in 2010 after 209 appearances and 87 goals following his 2005 arrival from Stuttgart, told Stats Perform News.

"We had a really good time with the club. We were playing in the Champions League, the fans and everything was really something special in my career. And for me was an honour to play there with a lot of top players who are now playing in the biggest clubs in the world.

"Of course [in recent years] they have a lot of changes. I think in the last three, four years, you know, they change a lot of the sport directors, coaches and I think they don't really have a structure and a long-term plan.

"All these changes make everything a little bit difficult."

The likes of Leon Goretzka, Alexander Nubel, Breel Embolo, Thilo Kehrer, Max Meyer, Ozan Kabak and Weston McKennie have left Veltins-Arena in recent years and the replacements have not provided value for money.

Schalke invested in Sebastian Rudy, Suat Serdar, Omar Mascarell, Rabbi Matondo, Salif Sane, Mark Uth and Hamza Mendyl and Benito Raman over the past three terms, while big-name veterans Shkodran Mustafi, Sead Kolasinac and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar arrived during this season, but failed to make an impact.

"They invest a lot of money," Kuranyi said. "The players who they bring in for €10-15million, they don't return with good performances and points so it's difficult to work with this, they make a lot of mistakes the last few years."

Unheralded American forward Matthew Hoppe has been a rare shining light, the club's leading scorer in the Bundesliga with five goals – Schalke have only found the back of the net a league-low 18 times.

Schalke's minutes-to-goal ratio is 150, by far the worst of any team in the Bundesliga. As for their shot conversion rate, it stands at just 6.69 per cent – easily the lowest in the competition. For comparison, leaders and defending champions Bayern Munich top the list with 16.93 per cent. Only Bielefeld (39.9 to 40.32 per cent) have a poorer shooting accuracy this term.

The boys in blue have also lacked creativity. In 2020-21, Schalke have only created 190 chances – the lowest return across the league, while their passing accuracy (76.7) is the sixth worst.

Schalke have had the same woes at the other end of the pitch, conceding a league-high 76 goals and keeping four clean sheets – only Cologne have managed less (three). They have also recorded five errors leading to goals, a total only exceeded by Werder Bremen (six).

Now, Schalke are preparing for life in the second division for the first time since 1990-91.

It is a situation that has outraged fans and it came to a head after Tuesday's loss away to Bielefeld. Supporters were waiting for the team in Gelsenkirchen, where some players were seen fleeing a group of angry Ultras in footage circulating on social media – Schalke later condemned the incident.

"I think [the fans are hurting] a lot you know a big club like Schalke is not a club for the second league," the 39-year-old Kuranyi said.

"Schalke have big tradition, they have a lot of good memories in the old times. So it's really difficult for the fans to get the situation, to play in the second league, to try to go up again.

"I think in the next two, three years will be a hard time for Schalke. And, of course, all the fans are in a bad moment now."

Schalke were among 16 founding members of the inaugural Bundesliga in 1963, including Hamburg.

Hamburg – another proud and historic German outfit – were sensationally relegated from the Bundesliga for the first time in 2018 and are yet to return. Schalke are now following in their footsteps.

"It's all about the plan, what they have," Kuranyi said when asked of Schalke can bounce back immediately. "It's not easy if you see Hamburg, if you see another clubs who are trying to go up in the last two, three years. You see how difficult it is to play in the second league.

"Schalke, of course, will be the top club in the second league. Every small club will do everything to beat them. So they need to have a big plan for the future. They need to check what the possibilities also to keep the top players. What's the possibility to take young talented players to play a good second league season."

Seven-time German champions Schalke have been relegated from the Bundesliga for just the fourth time in their history, as coach Dimitrios Grammozis lamented "a very bitter hour."

While football across the continent has been rocked by a tumultuous 48 hours centred on the seemingly doomed European Super League, one of Germany's most traditional clubs were condemned to the second tier on Tuesday with a 1-0 defeat to Arminia Bielefeld.

Fabian Klos scored and missed a penalty as Schalke's relegation was confirmed with four games to spare. They have won just two games this season, collecting only 13 points.

"It's a very bitter hour for all Schalke players – for all fans and for all employees who give everything for the club every day," head coach Grammozis told the club's official website.

"That's why we're brutally disappointed that there is now the certainty that we have to make it to the second division. 

"This was not sealed today, but by the sum of all games this season. For us, the remaining games are about saying goodbye in a sensible way. 

"We're not going to give up a game, we will prepare ourselves as well as possible for these tasks and once again give everything to represent the club worthily in these final games."

Bielefeld boss Frank Kramer – whose team moved four points clear of the relegation play-off place with their win – offered his sympathy to Schalke's fanbase.

"The heart of every football fan bleeds when such a large traditional club with as many members as Schalke is relegated," he said.

"The fact that such a club has to compete in the second division makes every football fan's eyes watery."

Hertha Berlin have requested three matches be postponed due to being forced into 14-day quarantine as a result of COVID-19 cases within the Bundesliga club.

Hertha have asked to delay scheduled fixtures against Mainz (April 18), Frieburg (April 21) and Schalke (April 24) after left-back Marvin Plattenhardt tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday. 

Head coach Pal Dardai, assistant coach Admir Hamzagic and striker Dodi Lukebakio had positive tests earlier in the day, prompting the German club to implement the two-week quarantine. 

Hertha initially had planned to play their matches during that period but the additional positive test to Plattenhardt prompted the plea to push them back.

"Due to the cases that have occurred, we are now forced to a 14-day quarantine at home," said sporting director Arne Friedrich, who took charge of training on Thursday with Dardai out.

"From a health point of view, this is absolutely the right step. because we now have to play six Bundesliga games by the end of the season on May 22, 2021 in the fight to stay relegated in May. 

"During the quarantine at home, the team will keep fit with virtual training units under the guidance of the coaching team. 

"We accept the situation despite the difficult circumstances and will throw everything in our power for a successful season finale into the balance."

There was no immediate response from the German Football League (DFL), which had announced new dates for several 2.Bundesliga matches that had been postponed due to coronavirus cases. 

Hertha sit just outside the relegation play-off place on goal difference ahead of fellow strugglers Arminia Bielefeld, while the capital club are three points clear of the automatic relegation positions with six games remaining.

 

Manchester United's goalkeeper situation remains unclear beyond this season.

David de Gea has been linked with the Old Trafford exit door while Dean Henderson is yet to fully convince some observers he is a worthy number one.

Thus speculation is mounting about a Red Devils move for a new shot-stopper.

 

TOP STORY - UNITED CIRCLE FOR OBLAK

Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak is reportedly wanted by Manchester United who are said to have a long-standing interest in the Slovenian.

Oblak has spent almost seven years in the Spanish capital but is ready to move to England, according to 90min.

The report claims United have doubts about Henderson as number one and subsequently are exploring their options with 28-year-old Oblak.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus and Paulo Dybala will enter negotiations on a new deal in May, reports Tuttosport.

- 90min reports that Liverpool want to utilise their option to sign Ozan Kabak permanently, having acquired the defender on loan from Schalke in February.

- Calciomercato claims that Barcelona are plotting a move for Juventus defender Cristian Romero who is currently on loan at Atalanta.

- Galatasaray have offered Crystal Palace defender Patrick van Aanholt a three-year deal, according to Sky Sports.

- Tottenham are top in the race to sign West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, claims ESPN.

Barcelona have reportedly joined the queue chasing Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

Haaland is a player in demand following his exploits for Bundesliga outfit Dortmund.

The Norway international could be among a number of new recruits at Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND WANTED AT CAMP NOU

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman is leading the club's recruitment this off-season and has identified Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland as a key target, according to Diario AS.

Haaland has been linked with Barca, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Liverpool.

Koeman is also reportedly eyeing City defender Eric Garcia, Lyon captain Memphis Depay and soon-to-be Liverpool free agent Georginio Wijnaldum.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fresh from netting a hat-trick to knock Tottenham out of the Europa League, Dinamo Zagreb's Mislav Orsic has been linked with a move to London rivals Arsenal by The Sun, which claims the Gunners are looking at the Croatian attacker as an off-season signing.

- Marca claims Arsenal will not be able to sign on-loan Martin Odegaard on a permanent deal as parent club Real Madrid see him as part of their long-term future plans.

Roma want either Maurizio Sarri or Massimiliano Allegri to be their next coach to replace Paulo Fonseca, according to Messaggero.

- Calciomercato says rumoured Premier League target Franck Kessie has rejected Milan's latest contract extension offer.

- Schalke's California-born 20-year-old Matthew Hoppe is hot property and Valencia are the latest club to join the chase, alongside TottenhamBarcelona, Ajax and PSV, according to AS.

- The Sun reports in-form Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho will sign a new deal with the club.

Ralf Rangnick has stated he is no longer in the running to take over as Schalke's next sporting director due to "numerous uncertainties within the club".

The former RB Leipzig boss has been out of work since leaving his role as Red Bull's head of sport and development last year.

Rangnick had been in talks with Schalke, where he previously spent two spells as head coach, over returning to Veltins-Arena in a boardroom position.

However, the 62-year-old - who recently declared an interest in succeeding Joachim Low as Germany head coach - has now ended discussions with his former side.

"Schalke is very close to my heart," Rangnick said in a statement on Saturday. 

"The overwhelmingly positive reactions from members of the Konigsblauen community have influenced me and confirmed my feelings for this very special club.

"I would have loved to have been involved in helping Schalke on its difficult road back to its former strength. 

"Unfortunately, due to the numerous uncertainties within the club at the moment, I do not see myself being able to take on sporting responsibility at S04 at the moment.

"My wish for all members and supporters of the club is that they will successfully join forces to unify Schalke on and off the pitch and lead it back to the top."

Rangnick's rejection comes just two days after Schalke board members Jens Buchta and Peter Lange revealed they had held positive talks with the ex-Hoffenheim coach.

And Saturday's announcement came as a shock to Schalke, who are 11 points adrift at the bottom of the Bundesliga standings with nine games to play.

"We are surprised by Rangnick's rejection and especially the short notice," Buchta, chairman of the club's supervisory board, said in a statement.

"The board was determined to reach an agreement with Ralf Rangnick in a second round [of talks] agreed for the coming week. It is regrettable that this will not happen.

"At the same time, the supervisory board has a certain understanding of Rangnick's decision in view of the events of the last 10 days. 

"The supervisory board will now strive for the position of sports director to be filled as quickly as possible."

Rangnick is considered one of the frontrunners to take over as Germany head coach after Low announced last week he will step aside after the rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament.

Germany Under-21s boss Stefan Kuntz and Bayern Munich's Hansi Flick are also believed to be in the running.

Juventus have completed the permanent signing of Weston McKennie from Schalke for a further initial fee of €18.5million.

The United States international signed on a season-long loan for a fee of €4.5m last August.

The 22-year-old has impressed in his first few months with the Serie A champions, scoring five goals in 31 appearances in all competitions, including in the 3-0 Champions League win away to Barcelona.

His five goals in Serie A have already made him the leading American scorer in the history of Italy's top flight.

On Wednesday, Juve announced McKennie had signed a four-year contract. The €18.5m will be paid to Schalke over three years and could rise by a further €6.5m in variables.

"Weston McKennie's adventure with the Juventus shirt started very well and, as they say, the numbers don't lie," Juve said in announcing the deal.

"Wes has proven to be a very important resource for coach [Andrea] Pirlo, having already put his signature on important performances and goals. It's impossible not to think about his goal against Barcelona at Camp Nou, or the one in the Derby della Mole – his first in the black and white jersey.

"It's also important to note that he is also the youngest midfielder in this league with at least four goals, as well as the best American scorer in Serie A history. In six of the goals he has actively participated in (four goals and two assists), Juventus have always won.

"It's because of this, that as of today, he has become an outright Juventus player, with the club having made the move permanent from Schalke."

Bundesliga strugglers Schalke have sacked five members of football staff, including head coach Christian Gross and sporting director Jochen Schneider.

A 5-1 loss to Stuttgart on Saturday followed a 4-0 defeat to fierce rivals Borussia Dortmund on February 20.

Schalke have won just two games in all competitions since November, lost seven of their past nine matches and only scored two goals since January 24.

Their alarming form has left them bottom of the Bundesliga with just nine points from 23 matches during a chaotic season in which they have had already had four different head coaches.

Gross took over from Manuel Baum at the end of December, with David Wagner and Huub Stevens having previously been in charge.

After picking up just five points in 2021 and having been knocked out of the DFB-Pokal by Wolfsburg, Schalke have taken drastic action in a bid to arrest their decline while planning for life in the second tier in 2021-22.

Gross has been dismissed along with assistants Rainer Widmayer and Werner Leuthard, while team manager Sascha Riether also departs.

Sporting director Jochen Schneider, who was due to leave at the end of his contract in June, has also agreed to step down with immediate effect.

Technical director Peter Knabel will assume temporary charge of sporting affairs, supported by under-19 coach Norbert Elgert and Mike Buskens, with athletic coaches to lead first-team training from Monday until a new head coach is appointed.

In a statement, chairman Jens Buchta said: "The decisions taken have become inevitable after the disappointing performances against Dortmund and Schalke.

"Let's not beat about the bush: the sporting situation is clear, so we have to think beyond the end of the season for every staff decision that now has to be made.

"At the same time, the team is now obliged to play the final third of the current season as well as they possibly can. They owe this to the club and the fans."

Erling Haaland said he is learning from Zlatan Ibrahimovic after his stunning goal against Schalke, while Jadon Sancho hailed Borussia Dortmund's "goal machine".

Haaland scored a brace, including a spectacular volley, as Dortmund crushed lowly Schalke 4-0 in Saturday's Revierderby at the VELTINS-Arena.

After netting twice in the Champions League win at Sevilla on Wednesday, in-demand Norway international Haaland took his Bundesliga tally for Dortmund to 30 in 32 matches.

Reflecting on his memorable 45th-minute goal – teed up by star team-mate Jadon Sancho, Haaland told Bundesliga.com: "It was a nice goal.

"Obviously it was a good assist from Jadon. We try to work a lot and it's a pleasure to play with this guy."

Asked if he had developed a taste for spectacular goals from Swedish great Ibrahimovic, Haaland – who has been linked to the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City, Barcelona, Juventus and Manchester United – replied: "Maybe. Maybe I'm learning a bit from him!"

Sancho became the youngest player to reach 35 goals in Bundesliga history, aged 20 years, 10 months and 26 days.

Tipped to join Premier League powerhouse United at the start of the season, England international Sancho lauded Haaland post-match.

"He's a goal machine," said Sancho. "I'm happy to assist his crazy goal, his first goal.

"On the training pitch, me and Erling work together so hard so I'm wasn't surprised that he's able to do some of the things he does on the pitch. He deserves all the credit."

Interim Dortmund head coach Edin Terzic heaped praise on both Haaland and Sancho afterwards.

"They've been fantastic in the past weeks as well," Terzic said. "You can see the quality those boys bring to us. At the second goal the cross by Jadon has already been remarkable and the way Erling hammered it in was extraordinary.

"But from a manager's perspective I have to say I preferred the third goal, because it was a great team effort where we've seen the exact things we practice in training, the way we want to combine and then quickly get behind the defence through one touch on the wings and play a cross. So the third goal makes me even happier and prouder."

On Sancho specifically following a slow start to the season, Terzic added: "It was clear that Jadon hasn't unlearnt how to play football. He is a very talented player, and we are quite spoilt seeing him on the pitch in the last couple of years, because he’s always been very productive.

"It wasn't an easy time for him, and we went through it together. I was asked a lot of times about how we deal with him. We talked a lot and we worked with him individually and tried supporting him as a team. He plays on the other side on and with Raphael Guerrero he's got a great partner with whom he can combine well. He found back to being a dangerous attacker and makes assists.

"He's back at his old strength but it doesn't mean we will stop progressing. We will continue and we have several tasks we need to achieve, and we need Jadon in top form for that."

Jadon Sancho became the youngest player to reach 35 goals in Bundesliga history, but team-mate Erling Haaland is fast closing in on that record after netting another double in Borussia Dortmund's 4-0 win over Schalke.

England international Sancho picked his spot from just inside the box to open the scoring for BVB in Saturday's Revierderby at the VELTINS-Arena.

Sancho, who joined Dortmund from Manchester City in August 2017, reached the 35-goal milestone at the age of 20 years, 10 months and 26 days.

However, Haaland took his Bundesliga tally for Dortmund to 30 in 32 matches in the same game. Almost four months younger than Sancho, Haaland has until the end of the season to snatch the record off his team-mate.

It was Sancho who set up Haaland for the first of his goals against Schalke, floating in a cross from the left for the Norway international to volley spectacularly past Ralf Fahrmann with both feet off the ground.

Raphael Guerreiro scored the visitors' third with an hour played and, fresh from bagging a brace against Sevilla in the Champions League, man-of-the-moment Haaland rounded off the scoring with a poked finish late on.

The victory over their fiercest moves sixth-placed Dortmund within six points of the top four, while Schalke remain bottom of the table with nine points from 22 matches.

Jurgen Klopp has been suitably impressed by Ozan Kabak so far as the defender looks to make the most of his opportunities at Liverpool. 

Kabak moved to Anfield on the final day of the mid-season transfer window, initially joining on loan from Schalke until the end of the current campaign. 

However, the deal reportedly includes a purchase option, meaning the 20-year-old Turkey international has a window in which to prove he should be signed permanently in a deal worth £18million. 

The centre-back endured a moment to forget on his debut against Leicester City, colliding with goalkeeper Alisson to gift Jamie Vardy a goal that helped the hosts go on to seal a 3-1 triumph at the King Power Stadium. 

Yet Klopp felt Kabak was still solid despite that incident, with the new signing going on to help the Reds keep RB Leipzig at bay in a 2-0 Champions League victory in midweek. 

"Big potential, 20 years old and already pretty experienced, to be honest," Klopp replied when asked about Kabak in his pre-match press conference ahead of the derby against Everton.  

"He didn't take the easy way in his career so far, when you are in Istanbul when you can play for probably one of the biggest teams in the world [Galatasaray] and always be around at the top of the table.

"Then you go to Stuttgart and Schalke, where you have to fight really hard to win football games. That's good from an education and development point of view.

"Now he's here and looks really promising. Both games, he looked really solid.

"Yes, we all know what happened in the Leicester game, but around this situation he played a really solid game, not to forget who we played that day. They were second or third in the Premier League, a tough one with all the forwards they have.

"He did really well - long may it continue."

Kabak has swapped a Bundesliga relegation battle for a top-four fight with Liverpool and, with Fabinho ruled out again, could be set to continue in the team for the visit of Everton on Saturday.

His performance against Leipzig in the first leg of the last-16 tie certainly suggested he has adapted quickly to the change of scenery. He made twice as many tackles (four) as any of his team-mates in Budapest, also managing a joint match-high three interceptions while completing 84.3 per cent of his attempted passes.

The clean sheet on Tuesday was also a confidence boost for Alisson, as his involvement in the Vardy goal against Leicester came after two high-profile errors in the 4-1 home loss to Manchester City. 

While understanding such moments can lead to self-doubt for any player, Klopp made clear to the media that he has never lost faith in his first-choice keeper. 

"My confidence? Nothing changed. We are all human beings, Ali as well. It's not about telling him he's a world-class goalkeeper, he knows that," the Liverpool boss said.

"If you made a mistake in the game before, the previous games and it's nothing you like, humans are all the same. Ali is too smart to ignore it completely.

"Other personalities would perhaps not struggle, but in the end he can rely – and we can rely – on his quality and his attitude, plus how focused he is during a game, how much he lives in it. 

"There was not one second of doubt. Ali, for sure, did not have the best time between the two games – that's how it is. But the Leipzig game was a really good one to get back."

Liverpool are unbeaten in their previous 23 meetings with Everton in all competitions, which is their longest run against any opponent.

They go into the latest meeting with their neighbours looking to avoid a fourth successive league loss, having not suffered such a run of form in the competition since Gerard Houllier was in charge in December 2002.

Liverpool's need for defensive reinforcements was always likely to dominate the headlines on transfer deadline day and so it proved as the Premier League champions made two late signings.

Centre-back Ben Davies arrived from Preston North End, while Liverpool made a further addition to the heart of their backline with the loan signing of Ozan Kabak from Bundesliga strugglers Schalke until the end of the season.

Those signings came on a day that saw Joel Matip ruled out for the rest of the season with an ankle ligament injury. Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are long-term absentees and Liverpool were forced to play Jordan Henderson and Nathaniel Phillips at centre-back in Sunday's win at West Ham.

Heading for the Anfield exit door is Takumi Minamino, the forward moving to Southampton on a six-month loan deal having only joined Liverpool last January.

It came after Southampton loaned veteran Shane Long to promotion-chasing Championship side Bournemouth.

Bournemouth also sanctioned the departure of Joshua King to Everton for a nominal fee until the end of the season.

There were outgoings at Arsenal as well, with Shkodran Mustafi signing for Schalke on a short-term deal and Joe Willock going on loan to Newcastle United, who let DeAndre Yedlin leave for Galatasaray.

Arsenal also sent Ainsley Maitland-Niles to West Brom on loan.

Turkish giants Galatasaray acquired Gedson Fernandes on a temporary deal from Benfica following an unsuccessful stint at Tottenham.

In Serie A, Parma landed Bayern Munich's teenage forward Joshua Zirkzee in a loan deal that contains the option to sign the 19-year-old permanently.

Atalanta are firmly in contention for a top-four finish in Serie A and bolstered their ranks for that push with the capture of Ukraine midfielder Viktor Kovalenko from Shakhtar Donetsk.

Roma can afford to have hopes of a title challenge and brought in teenage full-back Bryan Reynolds from MLS outfit Dallas on an initial loan deal, with an obligation to buy, to help them.

Frozen out at Juventus, midfielder Sami Khedira is back in the Bundesliga following a switch to Hertha Berlin, but one of European football's most exciting talents is heading to Italy after Udinese signed Jayden Braaf on loan from Manchester City with an option to buy.

Elsewhere, Everton defender Jonjoe Kenny joined Celtic on loan for the rest of the season, Brighton and Hove Albion signed highly rated midfielder Moises Caicedo from Independiente del Valle, West Brom loaned Okay Yokuslu from Celta Vigo and defender Teden Mengi moved from Manchester United to Wayne Rooney's Derby County on a temporary basis.

Page 1 of 2
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.