Nicolas Tagliafico has signed a new contract that will keep him at Ajax until 2023. 

The 28-year-old left-back's previous deal was due to expire in 2022, thus the extension seemingly secures his value to Ajax for a further season. 

However, media reports suggest the contract includes a clause that will allow the defender to leave the club next year should a major foreign side show an interest. 

Tagliafico has been linked with a host of big clubs in recent years, including Manchester United, Inter, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Hakim Ziyech, now at Chelsea, was said to have had a similar agreement written into his contract before he left Ajax for Stamford Bridge earlier this year. 

Tagliafico joined Ajax in January 2018 from Argentina's Independiente and helped them to reach the Champions League semi-finals against the odds in his first full season. 

Since the start of that campaign, 2018-19, only five defenders have featured more regularly in Europe's premier club competition than Tagliafico (21), while Juan Bernat and Raphael Guerreiro (five each) are the only two to have more goals than the Ajax defender (four). 

But he has also proven himself shrewd defensively.

His total of 39 successful tackles is second only to team-mate Noussair Mazraoui (40), while Mats Hummels (50) is the sole defender with more than Tagliafico's 45 interceptions. 

The Argentina international comes out on top for overall duels (286) and duels won (165), however, highlighting the fearlessness Ajax would lose were he to leave. 

Nevertheless, Friday's news should at least ensure Ajax secure a healthy profit if he does depart in 2021.

Neymar took a route-one approach to attracting the interest of Lionel Messi, but discretion may be order of the day for Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

Moments after coming off the pitch after PSG's 3-1 Champions League win at Manchester United, Neymar said he hoped to be reunited in 2021 with former Barcelona team-mate Messi.

That sparked inevitable debate about how it might happen, should Neymar be serious about that wish.

PSG would appear better placed to sign Messi than Barcelona are equipped to re-sign Neymar, given the Camp Nou great could be available on a free transfer at the end of this season.

To land the Argentine forward - LaLiga's all-time record scorer - would be a remarkable coup for PSG and president Al-Khelaifi.

Speaking to French talk show Touche Pas a Mon Poste, Al-Khelaifi was asked about the possibility of Messi coming to Paris.

"Messi is a Barcelona player. I can't talk about that," replied Al-Khelaifi.

Al-Khelaifi then joked that he was currently in Barcelona but later quashed speculation by stressing he was actually in London.

Neymar was not nearly as diplomatic on Wednesday when he told ESPN: "What I want most is to play with Messi again.

"I want to play with him. I'll let him play in my position if he wants! Next year, we have to play together, for sure."

Neymar's two goals in PSG's win over United took him to 38 in the Champions League in his career. Since his debut in 2013, only Cristiano Ronaldo (79), Robert Lewandowski (60) and Messi (59) have scored more.

He, Messi and Luis Suarez forged a three-pronged attack at Barcelona that was dubbed the MSN forward line, until Neymar left suddenly in 2017 when PSG agreed to meet the €222million buyout clause in his contract.

Suarez departed in September to join Atletico Madrid, leaving Messi as the lone survivor of the three, but even he has signalled a desire to leave.

Barcelona refused to let Messi go on a free transfer at the end of last season, resisting the player's desire to move on, when it appeared Manchester City was his likely destination.

Barca's interim president Carlos Tusquets this week said the club should have sold Messi in the last transfer window due to the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

If Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich are to overcome second-place RB Leipzig at the Allianz Arena on Saturday, they will need to get the better of a player that could well be lining up for them next season.

Dayot Upamecano has become one of Europe's most sought-after defenders following a string of dominant displays in the German top flight and the Champions League.

With Bayern's centre-back pairing of David Alaba and Jerome Boateng expected to leave at the end of the season, Hansi Flick has been heavily tipped to pay the reported €42m release clause in Upamecano's contract to bring him to Bavaria.

Ahead of what many are billing as the 22-year-old's audition over the weekend, we use Opta data to see if Upamecano would be an upgrade on Bayern's experienced central defenders.

The story so far

Despite supposed interest from Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal at the time, Upamecano opted for Salzburg in 2015 and soon got a taste for first-team football at feeder club Liefering.

Given the links between the clubs, it came as little surprise when the centre-back chose Leipzig in January 2017, quickly adapting to a new country and league with 12 Bundesliga appearances over the rest of the campaign.

Upamecano's displays the next year saw him nominated for the 2018 Golden Boy award, won by then-Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt, but his game has since gone up another level under the stewardship of Julian Nagelsmann.

He has been a mainstay at the back, making 38 appearances in all competitions in the 2019-20 campaign.

Solid as a rock

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

He has started the 2020-21 campaign with a spring in his step and boasts particularly impressive defensive numbers when compared to Alaba and Boateng.

In his eight Bundesliga games, Upamecano has won 90 per cent of his tackles, with only Bayer Leverkusen's Edmond Tapsoba enjoying a better success rate (92 per cent) among those with at least 10 attempts. Alaba and Boateng are way behind in that department, with 50 and 57 per cent success rates respectively.

Upamecano contests significantly more duels than his Bayern counterparts, averaging 7.7 per 90 minutes to Alaba's 4.9 and Boateng's 5.7.

He has also won 65 per cent of his aerial battles this term, more than Alaba's 50 per cent and Boateng's 61 per cent, and has only been dribbled past by an opponent once all season.

With such impressive figures, it is hardly surprising that Upamecano has conceded just 0.7 goals per game this season, while Alaba and Boateng have let in 1.8 and 1.5 respectively per 90 minutes.

Contributing at the other end

It is not just in defence where Upamecano excels.

He boasts wonderful passing skills and consistently starts attacks for his side. This season he has initiated eight sequences that ended in a shot and been involved in 32 overall – both figures outstrip the Bayern pair.

Alaba and Boateng both average 75 passes per 90 minutes, while the forward-thinking Upamecano gets through 89 in the same period.

He is also more accurate when sending the ball long, successfully completing 75 per cent of such passes compared to Alaba's 54 per cent and Boateng's 58 per cent.

Robert Lewandowski will be licking his lips at the prospect of getting on the end of some of those passes should Bayern seal a deal for one of Europe's most impressive young defenders.

Neymar has sparked speculation over Lionel Messi's future.

Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar enjoyed a successful period alongside Messi at Barcelona before leaving in a world-record deal in 2017.

Now, Neymar wants to team up with Messi again.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE OUT, MESSI IN?

Paris Saint-Germain will have to sell Kylian Mbappe if they sign Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, according to Diario AS.

Messi has been linked with a move to Ligue 1 champions PSG after former Barca forward Neymar expressed his desire to reunite with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

If Manchester City target Messi arrives in the French capital, it could send Mbappe closer to LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has not ruled leaving the Spanish giants, reports El Transistor. Ramos is out of contract at the end of the season and he has been linked with PSG, Juventus, Milan and Manchester United.

Mauricio Pochettino has been contacted by Madrid to replace under-fire head coach Zinedine Zidane, claims Sport. Pochettino, who has been out of work since he was sacked as Tottenham boss last year, has also been linked to United.

- Diario AS says Atletico Madrid are lining up a January bid for Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik. The Poland international has been frozen out since making it clear he will not re-sign with the Serie A side. Tottenham, Everton and Roma have also emerged as possible destinations.

Romelu Lukaku is on Pep Guardiola's shortlist of forwards at City but Inter insist the Belgian star is non-transferable, according to Calciomercato.

- The Telegraph reports Chelsea's plan to sign West Ham midfielder Declan Rice rests on the success of off-season recruit Ben Chilwell.

Lionel Messi wants more than money at Barcelona, with presidential candidate Joan Laporta insisting the disgruntled superstar craves a competitive team for success.

Messi's future remains an important topic at embattled LaLiga giants Barca after he handed in a transfer request following a tumultuous 2019-20 season.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner was tipped to join Premier League powerhouse Manchester City before opting to remain in Spain, though he has since been linked to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.

Barca's interim president Carlos Tusquets said the club should have sold Messi in the last transfer window due to the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

But Laporta, who is in the running for the presidential election which takes place on January 24 following Josep Maria Bartomeu's resignation in October, talked up Messi.

"Leo wants Barcelona," former president Laporta – at the helm of Barca from 2003 to 2010 as Messi's career took off – told Radio Marca and COPE.

"What I want is to give him back his happiness. It's not just a question of money, you have to create a competitive team.

"Leo has been cheated and that is a big loss. He's a winner and can't stand to see other teams lift the Champions League.

"The last time I spoke to him was in October. I am very grateful to him for all he has done for Barcelona. I have known him since he was 16 years old and he is an extraordinary person.

"There is mutual appreciation and respect. We must be inside [the club] to make an imaginative and credible proposal to him."

Messi has scored four goals in nine LaLiga appearances this season, while he has netted seven across all competitions.

"Leo wants to have a squad that brings back the joy," Laporte added.

"A team like Barcelona needs team spirit in a dressing room. I've been president of Barcelona and I don't want to destabilise a team in a delicate situation."

After being dethroned by bitter rivals Real Madrid last season and humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals, Ronald Koeman's Barca are seventh in LaLiga and 10 points adrift of leaders Real Sociedad.

Barca travel to Cadiz on Saturday.

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has once again given his full backing to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and said the club's long-term plans are with the Norwegian in mind.

Solskjaer is approaching the two-year anniversary of his appointment as United boss, initially on a caretaker basis, but his position has regularly been called into question during that time.

He came under particular scrutiny following defeats to Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir in quick succession last month, but Woodward stated at the time United remain "absolutely committed" to the former striker.

Woodward remains pleased with the Red Devils' progress under Solskjaer but acknowledged there is room for improvement, with United ninth in the Premier League and not yet assured of a spot in the Champions League last 16 heading into the final matchday in Group H.

Speaking at a virtual fans' forum at the end of November, the minutes for which were published on Thursday, Woodward said: "What happens on the field is clearly our top priority.

"While it's not the same without fans in the stadium, we've seen lots of highs since our last meeting in April.

"We had a 14-game unbeaten run to finish third in last season's Premier League run and great wins against PSG and RB Leipzig on our return to the Champions League this season.

"Of course, we recognise there's more hard work ahead to achieve the consistency needed to win trophies.

"But we see positive signs on the pitch and the training ground that reinforce our belief in the progress being made by Ole, his coaching team and the players."

United missed out on rumoured top target and Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho during the close season but still strengthened their squad with the signings of Donny van de Beek, Alex Telles and free agent Edinson Cavani.

The Red Devils also brought in Bruno Fernandes last January, the Portugal playmaker proving to be a massive hit since arriving for a rumoured upfront fee of £47million.

However, the January window is notorious for being difficult to negotiate with other clubs and Woodward suggested United are not in the market for any new players next month.

"I told this forum back in April that we remained committed to strengthening the squad, while being disciplined in our spending during the pandemic," he said.

"I believe we've delivered on that, with the additions we made during the summer taking our total net spending to over €200m since the summer of 2019 - more than any other major European club over that period. 

"We will continue to support Ole with a planned, long-term approach to recruitment, focused on the summer windows."

Woodward, a board member of the European Club Association, also distanced United from rumours they are interested in joining a breakaway league consisting of Europe's biggest clubs.

"Most of my time in this regard is focused, through the ECA and the UCCSA [a joint-venture between the ECA and UEFA], on the strengthening of existing UEFA club competitions," he said.

"The dialogue focuses on them continuing to be predominantly mid-week games having little or no impact on the Premier League.

"We believe that any changes to European competition post-2024 must be complementary to thriving domestic leagues. Other domestic leagues feel the same way, reflected in conversation with our counterparts in other clubs and countries.

"What I can assure you of is that we will keep match-going fans firmly in the centre of thoughts, whether with the Premier League, ECA or UEFA, and across our decision-making processes overall.

"The past eight months has reminded us all of just how crucial you are to the fabric of the game. This game without fans is nothing."

Barcelona should have sold Lionel Messi in the last transfer window, according to the club's interim president Carlos Tusquets.

Messi wanted to leave Barca – where he has spent his entire senior career – in the close season, with the 33-year-old frustrated by the running of the club under previous president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

However, Barca demanded any suitors – reportedly including Pep Guardiola's Manchester City – pay €700million despite Messi attempting to activate a get-out clause in his contract that would have allowed him to leave on a free transfer for a certain period at the end of the season.

Opting against dragging Barca through the courts to force a move, Messi eventually elected to remain and see out the final year of his contract, which runs out in June.

Bartomeu and the entire board have since resigned, with Tusquets taking charge until the elections in January, and the temporary president believes that the best solution would have been to sell the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"Economically speaking, I would've sold Messi in the summer window," Tusquets told RAC1 radio station.

"Both in terms of what you save on the wage bill as well as the money you make, it would've been desirable. But this is something the coaching staff have to consent to and that's not my place.

"LaLiga are setting salary limits at the moment and this would've helped on that front."

On Wednesday, Messi's former Barca team-mate Neymar spoke of his desire to link-up with the Argentinian once again.

Tusquets accepts this is unlikely to be at Camp Nou.

"If he [Neymar] became available on a free transfer then maybe we could think about signing him," he added.

"Without making sales, there's no money for new signings unless the new president has incredibly deep pockets."

Despite his desire to leave, Messi has nevertheless remained an important part of Barca's team, starting in eight LaLiga games and making nine league appearances in total.

Messi has scored four goals and created 20 chances, nine more than any other Barca player.

However, Ronald Koeman's side have coped without the talisman in their previous two Champions League games, admittedly against weaker opposition.

Barca eased to a 3-0 win over Ferencvaros on Wednesday, eight days on from defeating Dynamo Kiev 4-0 in Group G, with Messi rested on both occasions.

It means Barca have now won nine of their last 10 Champions League games without Messi, drawing the other, since a defeat to Ajax in November 2013.

Barcelona have been put in an awkward place by Neymar's revelation that he wants to play with Lionel Messi next season, with presidential candidate Joan Laporta unsurprised by the Brazilian's comments.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar, who left Barcelona when his buy-out clause of €222million was met three years ago, made his stunning comments after scoring twice at Manchester United on Wednesday.

He told ESPN: "What I want most is to play with Messi again. I want to play with him. I'll let him play in my position if he wants! Next year, we have to play together, for sure."

Barcelona's finances, hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, are such that launching a big-money bid to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou appears out of the question.

Messi's contract is due to expire at the end of the season, and after being refused permission to leave just a few months ago, there are concerns the Argentinian will again seek to find a new home.

PSG could become an option, should Messi be as keen to reunite with Neymar as the Brazilian is to be reacquainted with his former Barca team-mate.

Candidates for the presidency are unlikely to dismiss out of hand the prospect of Neymar returning to Barcelona, given that making such a statement might prove unpopular, while they are also sure to handle carefully the hot topic that is Messi's future.

Laporta, a former Barca president seeking a return to office, suggested Neymar's remarks were nothing out of the ordinary.

"It is normal for him to say it, they are friends and have an established understanding between them. This relationship is normal," Laporta told Catalunya Radio.

"I hope that Leo can wait and listen to the proposal of the new Barcelona president."

The presidential election will take place on January 24 following the resignation of Josep Maria Bartomeu in October.

Laporta, who was at the helm of the club from 2003 to 2010 as Messi's career took off, is considered among the favourites to succeed Bartomeu.

He hopes Messi commits to ending his career with Barcelona, saying: "We have contact with Leo, I know he appreciates me, we respect each other, but we have not talked about the renewal.

"Messi guarantees you to aspire to be able to win everything. I want him to stay at Barca."

Laporta said he did not want to "destabilise" Ronald Koeman's team by talking about specific players that could come to the club, should he be elected.

But he did say: "I have a good relationship with several of the big agents in the football world. They have great players in their portfolio.

"If I am the president of Barca, I am sure that we will return the joy and give good players the chance of imagining they can play for Barca. The good guys will want to come and play here."

Is Zinedine Zidane's second spell in charge of Real Madrid coming to an end?

Zidane guided Madrid to three successive Champions League titles in his first stint, and last season's LaLiga crown after returning to the Santiago Bernabeu in 2019.

But the Los Blancos great is under mounting pressure amid the club's struggles this season.

 

TOP STORY – ZIDANE IN DANGER

Mauricio Pochettino and Raul are waiting in the wings to replace Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid, according to widespread reports in Spain.

Madrid head coach Zidane is in danger of losing his job following Tuesday's Champions League loss to Shakhtar Donetsk.

Los Blancos have suffered back-to-back defeats and three in their past five outings across all competitions to be seven points adrift in LaLiga and on the cusp of Champions League elimination.

Thursday's Mundo Deportivo, Diario AS and Sport report former Tottenham boss Pochettino and Madrid Castilla coach Raul are eyeing the hot seat.

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims the race to sign Rennes and France sensation Eduardo Camavinga is down to Madrid and Manchester United. Serie A champions Juventus had also been linked, though there has been talk of Paul Pogba returning to Turin after leaving for Old Trafford in 2016.

- Bayern Munich star David Alaba is hoping to strike a January agreement with Chelsea, according to Fabrizio Romano's 'Here We Go Podcast'. Alaba is a free agent at the end of the season and he has been linked to the likes of Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

Juventus have shown an interest in Barcelona centre-back Samuel Umtiti, according to Calciomercato. Arsenal's Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic are also on the shortlist.

Madrid are eyeing Benfica forward Darwin Nunez, reports Calciomercato. The Uruguay international has also caught the attention of LaLiga rivals Barca.

- What does the future hold for Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland? Heavily linked to United, Madrid, Liverpool, PSG and even Barca, Calciomercato says Juve are monitoring the Norwegian closely.

Neymar caused a stir after inspiring Paris Saint-Germain to victory over Manchester United when he said he wants to link up with Lionel Messi in 2021.

The Brazil star scored twice to help PSG to a 3-1 win at Old Trafford, a result that puts them in a strong position to reach the Champions League knockout stages.

Neymar joined the Ligue 1 champions from Barca for a world-record €222million fee in 2017, partly, it has been suggested, to escape the shadow of Messi at Barcelona.

The Catalans won the treble in 2014-15 with an attacking trident of Neymar, Messi and Luis Suarez, but it has been claimed the former Santos man left Camp Nou so he could have a better chance of winning the Ballon d'Or.

Neymar has since repeatedly been tipped to return to Spain but has made it clear he will stay in Paris until at least the end of the 2020-21 season.

Messi failed to engineer a move away from Barca in the previous transfer window but, with his contract running out next June, it remains unclear whether he will choose to leave next year.

For his part, Neymar wants nothing more than to reunite with his old team-mate, telling ESPN on Wednesday: "What I want most is to play with Messi again.

"I want to play with him. I'll let him play in my position if he wants!

"Next year, we have to play together, for sure."

Neymar's two goals over United took him to 38 in the Champions League in his career. Since his debut in 2013, only Cristiano Ronaldo (79), Robert Lewandowski (60) and Messi (59) have scored more.

PSG's victory means they are level on nine points with United and RB Leipzig in Group H heading into matchday six next week.

A win for Thomas Tuchel's side over Istanbul Basaksehir will guarantee they progress as winners of the group.

Arsenal and Tottenham are reportedly lining up moves for Salzburg star Dominik Szoboszlai, while three Premier League giants are monitoring Ben White.

Szoboszlai, 20, has been linked with a move from Salzburg after starring for the Austrian club.

And several European heavyweights are eyeing the Hungary international.

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL, TOTTENHAM PUSH FOR SZOBOSZLAI

Arsenal and Tottenham are ready to push to sign Salzburg star Szoboszlai, according to Eurosport.

But the report says RB Leipzig look likely to win the battle to sign the star, despite interest also coming from Milan and Atletico Madrid.

Contracted until 2022, an offer of around €20million will reportedly be enough.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea are monitoring Brighton and Hove Albion defender White, according to Sky Sports. Liverpool have also been linked with the 23-year-old previously.

- Eyeing a defender in January amid an injury crisis, Barcelona have two targets in the Premier League. Mundo Deportivo reports Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi and Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger are among the players on Barca's list.

- After starring for Inter, Milan Skriniar is linked with a move. Football Insider reports Tottenham are still keeping tabs on the defender.

- Other Premier League giants could also be set for a transfer fight. The Daily Star reports Manchester United and Chelsea are facing a battle with Manchester City to sign Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Denis Zakaria.

- Set to re-sign with Ajax, Nicolas Tagliafico could still be on the move. The Daily Mail reports the Manchester City and Leicester City target will still be allowed to leave the Eredivisie giants if a suitable offer arrives, despite re-signing.

- Catching the eye with Cagliari, Nahitan Nandez is being targeted by Roma and Napoli, according to CalcioMercato.

If rumours are to be believed, Hakan Calhanoglu is tipped to swap Milan for Manchester United at the end of the season.

Calhanoglu is out of contract in June and the midfielder's negotiations with Milan over a new deal at San Siro have so far proven fruitless.

Up step United, who according to Sport Bild, are "90 per cent likely" to sign the 26-year-old Turkey international – Serie A champions Juventus and Inter have also been linked.

Calhanoglu has been rejuvenated under head coach Stefano Pioli as Milan enjoy an unbeaten start to the Serie A season, but how does he compare to stars Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and United's current crop of midfielders?

For example, Calhanoglu completed 668 passes ending in the final third last season – more than Fred (476), Fernandes (408), Nemanja Matic (354), Pogba (343), Scott McTominay (273) and Juan Mata (246).

Calhanoglu – who has called Milan home since leaving Bayer Leverkusen in 2017 – created 70 chances in 2019-20 to go with nine goals and as many assists. By comparison, Fred led United with 35.

With help from Opta, we look at the numbers of Calhanoglu and potential new team-mates in their respective leagues in 2020-21.

 

Hakan Calhanoglu

Games: 9
Goals: 0
Shooting accuracy: 31.25
Shots on target: 5
Assists: 1
Goal assist at set play: 1
Chances created: 34
Passing accuracy: 85.79
Crosses/corner accuracy: 35.21
Passes ending in final third: 168
Passing accuracy ending in final third: 77.38

Bruno Fernandes

Games: 9
Goals: 7
Shooting accuracy: 66.67
Shots on target: 14
Assists: 3
Goal assist at set play: 0
Chances created: 27
Passing accuracy: 75.74
Crosses/corner accuracy: 31.48
Passes ending in final third: 264
Passing accuracy ending in final third: 68.94

Paul Pogba

Games: 7
Goals: 0
Shooting accuracy: 66.67
Shots on target: 2
Assists: 0
Goal assist at set play: 0
Chances created: 2
Passing accuracy: 79.92
Crosses/corner accuracy: 0
Passes ending in final third: 97
Passing accuracy ending in final third: 72.16

Fred

Games: 8
Goals: 0
Shooting accuracy: 0
Shots on target: 0
Assists: 0
Goal assist at set play: 0
Chances created: 6
Passing accuracy: 89.24
Crosses/corner accuracy: 0
Passes ending in final third: 98
Passing accuracy ending in final third: 80.61

Scott McTominay

Games: 7
Goals: 0
Shooting accuracy: 0
Shots on target: 0
Assists: 0
Goal assist at set play: 0
Chances created: 8
Passing accuracy: 86.87
Crosses/corner accuracy: 25
Passes ending in final third: 66
Passing accuracy ending in final third: 72.73

Donny van de Beek

Games: 7
Goals: 1
Shooting accuracy: 100
Shots on target: 1
Assists: 0
Goal assist at set play: 0
Chances created: 1
Passing accuracy: 83.78
Crosses/corner accuracy: N/A
Passes ending in final third: 49
Passing accuracy ending in final third: 71.43

Nemanja Matic

Games: 6
Goals: 0
Shooting accuracy: 100
Shots on target: 2
Assists: 0
Goal assist at set play: 0
Chances created: 3
Passing accuracy: 87.58
Crosses/corner accuracy: N/A
Passes ending in final third: 73
Passing accuracy ending in final third: 78.08

Juan Mata

Games: 4
Goals: 0
Shooting accuracy: 100
Shots on target: 2
Assists: 1
Goal assist at set play: 1
Chances created: 7
Passing accuracy: 87.5
Crosses/corner accuracy: 36.36
Passes ending in final third: 72
Passing accuracy ending in final third: 86.11 

Sevilla head coach Julen Lopetegui believes Chelsea are "designed" to win the Champions League, labelling Frank Lampard's men the best attacking team in England.

LaLiga outfit Sevilla host Chelsea on Wednesday with both teams having already booked their places in the last 16 from Group E.

And Lopetegui was full of praise for Lampard's side, who have scored 22 goals in 10 Premier League games to sit third in the table.

"It's an exciting, tremendous challenge against a team that has been designed to be able to win the Champions League," he told a news conference.

"A team with great footballers and they're currently the best attacking team in England. It will be a tremendous challenge against a very well coached team.

"When we play against them, we know we have the chance to claim top spot in the group as our prize. Obviously, this chance is immediate as there is another game to be played.

"Again, the opportunity [to go top of Group E] tomorrow will help us have a good game."

Only Liverpool, who are second, have scored as many goals as Chelsea in the Premier League this season.

Chelsea rank fifth for total shots excluding blocks (94) and equal second for shots on target (54).

Only Tottenham (62.1 per cent) and Everton (60.9) have a better big chance conversion than Chelsea's 60, while Lampard's side are equal seventh for total big chances with 20 in their 10 games.

As for Sevilla, they sit fifth in LaLiga – eight points behind leaders Real Sociedad but having played two fewer games.

They have been linked with a move for Real Madrid playmaker Isco, but Lopetegui would not be drawn on a player who would boost his team's attack.

"I won't answer that question [if Sevilla are interested in Isco]," he said.

"Now is the time to speak about my players and my team and I obviously won't speak about any player that's not part of my team, and even less in a Champions League preview."

Real Madrid's dream of signing Kylian Mbappe may have to wait.

Mbappe, 21, has regularly been linked with LaLiga's champions after starring for Paris Saint-Germain.

But the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are seemingly set to hurt Madrid's chances of landing the star.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID CAN'T AFFORD MBAPPE NEXT YEAR

Madrid cannot afford a deal to sign PSG star Mbappe next year, according to Le Parisien.

It comes with finances of clubs around the world hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mbappe, who is contracted until 2022, has scored nine goals in 11 games in all competitions this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Out of contract at the end of the season, David Alaba looks set to leave Bayern Munich. AS reports Chelsea believe they will be in pole position to sign the defender with their offer.

- Linked with a move to Manchester United, Hakan Calhanoglu could yet stay at Milan. CalcioMercato reports Milan remain hopeful of re-signing the midfielder, whose contract expires at season's end, and a decisive meeting between the parties is nearing.

- Barcelona want to sign a centre-back in January and Manchester City defender Eric Garcia remains a target, according to Mundo Deportivo. The report says Barca also have experienced targets if City do not want to sell Garcia.

- Staying at Barcelona and Sport reports the Catalan giants are interested in Hoffenheim defender Melayro Bogarde, whose uncle Winston played for the club from 1998 to 2000.

- Manchester City are reportedly close to landing a teenage attacker. Fabrizio Romano says the Premier League side are in advanced negotiations to sign Dario Sarmiento, 17, from Argentine club Estudiantes after an opening bid of £17million (€19m).

Paulo Dybala to Paris Saint-Germain?

Dybala, previously linked to Manchester United, Tottenham and PSG, is reportedly facing an uncertain future in Turin.

Juventus could be prepared to exchange players with PSG.

 

TOP STORY – DYBALA OUT, ICARDI IN?

Juventus are considering a swap deal that would send Paulo Dybala to Paris Saint-Germain in exchange for Mauro Icardi, according to Calciomercato.

Dybala has struggled for form in 2020-21, while contract negotiations with Serie A champions Juve have so far proved fruitless.

Icardi was linked to Juve prior to joining Ligue 1 holders PSG permanently from Inter and the Argentina forward could swap clubs with Dybala.

 

ROUND-UP

- TodoFichajes says Arsenal are set to make an offer for RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate. Leipzig centre-back and team-mate Dayot Upamecano has dominated headlines amid links to the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, but Konate is also attracting interest.

Juve are eyeing a move for Atletico Madrid centre-back Stefan Savic, reports Calciomercato. Savic has also been linked to Inter.

- A Bola claims Premier League champions Liverpool are interested in signing Sporting CP left-back Nuno Mendes.

Raul Jimenez to Inter? Calciomercato says Inter could replace Lautaro Martinez with the Wolves star. Martinez has been linked to Barca and Manchester City.

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