Lionel Messi, one of the greatest football players of all time, stunned Barcelona by telling the club he wanted to leave only to be thwarted in his attempts in the last transfer window.

However, as he enters the final six months of his contract, it seems likely talks have already begun with interested parties as he considers where his future will lie in 2021.

The Argentina superstar has spent his entire career at the Catalan giants, but he now looks likely to start the 2021-22 campaign with a new club. 

Where Messi goes remains to be seen but any deal for the 33-year-old will rank as one of the most dramatic in the history of sport. 

Here, we look at a selection of other sporting deals that shocked the world. 

 

Neymar: Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, 2017

The Brazilian had formed a potent attacking trio with Messi and Luis Suarez at Camp Nou but a move to PSG was inevitable when the French side met his world-record buyout clause of €222million. He has played an important role in their continued dominance of domestic football, but has so far been unable to guide them to Champions League glory. He was reduced to tears by his side's 1-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the 2020 final last term. 

LeBron James: Cleveland Cavaliers to Miami Heat, 2010

Basketball icon James announced that he would sign with the Miami Heat instead of returning to his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Then a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a six-time All-Star, James added to the spectacle of the stunning move by announcing it on a special television broadcast called The Decision. He enjoyed four years in Miami, where he won a pair of NBA titles, before returning to the Cavaliers in 2014. 

Tom Brady: New England Patriots to Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2020

Few people expected Brady to leave the Patriots after 20 years and six Super Bowl victories. Not only did one of the game's greatest ever quarterbacks leave, but he joined one of the least successful franchises in NFL history. Time will tell if his decision to sign with a highly promising Buccaneers team proves to be a masterstroke.  

Luis Figo: Barcelona to Real Madrid, 2000

Should Messi ever return to Camp Nou as an opposition player, it is unlikely he will be on the receiving end of the kind of abuse that greeted Figo. Barca fans threw bottles, lighters and even a pig's head at the Portuguese star when he went back to Camp Nou with Los Blancos in the seasons following his controversial move. 

Wayne Gretzky: Edmonton Oilers to Los Angeles Kings, 1988

In 1988, the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings agreed a deal that shook the NHL to its core. The trade left Canada in disbelief, with a member of the country's parliament even proposing the federal government block the trade or buy Gretzky's contract and sell it to another Canadian team. "The Great One" would go on to enjoy eight successful years in Los Angeles before spells with St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers.

Lionel Messi's future has been the subject of much speculation but a reunion with Pep Guardiola is still very much in Manchester City's plans.

Messi has been disgruntled with his situation at Barcelona since the end of last season, despite head coach Ronald Koeman's insistence that his superstar captain is happy.

Four-time Champions League winner Messi unsuccessfully tried to force an exit in August, however there will be no legal clauses to stop him when his contract expires in June 2021.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI WANTED ON FIVE-YEAR DEAL

The City Football Group (CFG) is eyeing a 2021 swoop that will see Lionel Messi split time between their Premier League powerhouse Manchester City and MLS franchise New York City, according to the Telegraph.

A five-year contract could be offered to superstar Barcelona captain Messi, which includes three years in England, taking the six-time Ballon d'Or winner to the age of 37, followed by an additional two more in the United States.

In an interview with Spanish TV channel La Sexta, Messi admitted his desire to one day play in the United States, a hint that City's proposal may be on his mind.

Lionel Messi's days at Barcelona appear to be numbered, with the club captain and talisman heading into the final six months of his contract. 

As such, he can begin discussions with other clubs ahead of a potential free transfer once his contract expires on June 30. 

Messi, 33, set things in motion back in August when he rocked world football by publicly confirming his desire to leave the only club he has ever represented as a professional, and with whom he has won everything. 

Barca's surrender to Real Madrid in LaLiga's title race and the 8-2 thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League appeared to be the final straw for Messi earlier this year, though the departure of president Josep Maria Bartomeu might have improved the club's chances of keeping him. 

Additionally, Joan Laporta is the favourite to succeed Bartomeu in next month's election, but if he cannot persuade Messi to stay then football looks set to see a move that will rank as one of the most seismic in the history of the sport. 

So, where could Messi end up next?

Newell's Old Boys

Messi's relationship with the public in Argentina has often been strained due to the fact he moved to Barca at the age of 13 and developed in their famous La Masia academy. But he started out at Newell's five years prior to that and a return to his hometown of Rosario would be an understandable move as he enters the latter stages of his career. Unrealistic? Perhaps, but it's a move all football romanticists would love to see.

Manchester City

While his form this term may have been somewhat disappointing by his usual standards, Messi undoubtedly still has the quality to play at the highest level. City, managed by former Barca boss Pep Guardiola, are said to have been looking into the feasibility of bringing the Argentina superstar to the Etihad Stadium. Media reports have suggested he could spend a few years in Manchester before then being sent to sister club New York City FC in MLS for the final seasons of his career. City are certainly one of a handful of clubs that could match Messi's huge wages, and there is a strong lure given the Blaugrana alumni running the show at City.

Paris Saint-Germain

PSG have been right at the forefront of this saga since the very start in August. Thomas Tuchel, since sacked of course, was asked about the possibility of signing Messi as early as his Champions League final post-match media duties. The Ligue 1 champions have never shied away from splashing the cash – they paid Barca a world record €222million for Neymar and shelled out €180m on Kylian Mbappe. If Messi wants to win another European crown before retiring, few clubs are better positioned to help him achieve that, and the chance to link up with Neymar again might be too good an opportunity to turn down.

Inter

Even before there was any doubt about Messi's future at Barca, Inter were the main club linked with an audacious attempt to sign the 33-year-old. The Suning Holdings Group ownership makes them one of the few clubs alongside City and PSG that have the financial capacity to offer him a sizeable contract, and they do appear to be getting back to the level expected of them since the arrival of Antonio Conte as coach. Links with Inter have cooled in recent months, but they cannot be ruled out yet. The chance to battle old foe Cristiano Ronaldo in Serie A may prove an enticing prospect, too.

Al-Sadd

Things could have gone very differently for Barca had club legend Xavi been handed the reins in January instead of Quique Setien. As it happened, the iconic former midfielder felt it was not the right time to return to Camp Nou and chose to remain at Al-Sadd. A link-up with his former team-mate in Qatar could be an option for Messi, though there is every chance Xavi finds himself back in Catalonia in the not-too-distant future.

Paris Saint-Germain have confirmed the sacking of head coach Thomas Tuchel.

Tuchel's departure was reported on Christmas Eve, but there was no official word from the Ligue 1 champions until Tuesday morning.

PSG have now released a statement confirming Tuchel has departed after "an in-depth analysis of its sporting situation."

Thomas Tuchel's tenure as Paris Saint-Germain head coach is all but over.

Tuchel will reportedly be replaced by Mauricio Pochettino, despite leading PSG to Ligue 1 glory last season and the Champions League final.

Can former PSG defender Pochettino help the French giants conquer Europe?

 

TOP STORY – POCH SET FOR PSG

Mauricio Pochettino has agreed terms to take charge of Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Thomas Tuchel's sacking is set to be announced after striking a deal with PSG to leave immediately – the compensation worth €6million, reports Bild.

Former Tottenham manager Pochettino is now poised to return to PSG, where he played between 2001 and 2003.

 

ROUND-UP

Diego Costa has requested to leave Atletico Madrid in January, claims Diario AS and Marca. If Costa is unable to depart during the next window, the veteran striker will farewell Atletico on a free transfer at season's end.

Wolves have joined the chase to sign Real Madrid outcast Luka Jovic, says The Athletic. Wolves are keen to bolster their attack following Raul Jimenez's serious injury and Jovic has emerged as a loan option for the Premier League side. Milan have also been heavily linked with the Serbia international.

Georginio Wijnaldum wants time to reflect on Liverpool's contract offer, reports Fabrizio Romano. Wijnaldum is set to become a free agent amid links to Barca.

- The Mirror reports Arsenal are circling for Brighton and Hove Albion full-back Tariq Lamptey should Hector Bellerin depart for Barcelona. Lamptey has been linked to Manchester City and Bayern Munich.

Sevilla are eyeing a January swoop for Marseille star Florian Thauvin, according to Andaluz Estadio Deportivo. Milan have also been tracking the Frenchman.

- Corriere dello Sport says Juventus and Inter remain keen on signing Udinese's Rodrigo De Paul. Meanwhile, Ilbianconeri claims Juve have been offered Arsenal outcast Mesut Ozil.

Manchester United remain in contact with Moises Caicedo's agents to sign the Independiente del Valle sensation, says Romano. The 19-year-old Ecuadorian midfielder wants to move to Old Trafford.

Lionel Messi has been encouraged by Ronald Koeman's impact since becoming Barcelona coach but feels the club is so financially crippled that "it will be difficult to get back where it was".

Messi was speaking to La Sexta in one of his first interviews since telling the club of his desire to leave in August. 

Barca stood firm back then, refusing to allow him to depart despite Messi insisting the get-out clause in his contract was still valid – the Argentinian ultimately opted against pursuing the matter any further. 

Although he stayed put, Messi's future and mindset have been constant sources of debate in the four months since. 

The highly publicised interview, which aired in full on Sunday, saw Messi vow not to decide on his future until the end of the season despite being able to discuss a free transfer with another club in less than a week. 

And while there are plenty of fans unimpressed by Koeman's start with the club - they sit fifth after 14 games - Messi was complimentary about the Dutchman. 

"I think that with Ronald Koeman, he has projected a seriousness and an idea of what he wants for his team and what he wants for the club," Messi said. 

"I think that it was a great success and that he is doing things very well. At the beginning it was difficult because there were a lot of new people, a lot of young players, but little by little the team is growing." 

One aspect that some believe could count in Barca's favour with respect to Messi's future is the fact a new president will be in place by the end of January, with Joan Laporta the favourite to succeed Josep Maria Bartomeu and take charge for a second time. 

But Messi certainly does not envy anyone stepping into such a position, given the state of Barca financially, and suggested fans should not get their hopes up about the prospect of Neymar returning. 

"For this [the club's finances] it is a difficult time for the club, as it is everyone," he continued. "But from what we know, the club is really bad [financially] – very bad. It will be difficult to get back where it was.

"It won't be easy for the new president because they will find a very difficult situation at the club. It won't be easy to turn it around. 

"I hope whoever wins [the election] does things well to put this great club where it deserves to be - and where it isn't at the moment. 

"It will also be difficult to bring players because we need money and there is no money. There are several important players [required] to fight again for everything, and those players you have to pay them big money. 

"I was laughing because you said Neymar must be very expensive. And how do you pay PSG for that transfer?" 

Messi then also hit out once again at Barca's "crazy" decision to let Luis Suarez leave to Atletico Madrid, whom he has helped to the top of LaLiga. 

"I had already decided [I wanted to leave] before that," Messi mused.

"But it did seem crazy to me what they did with Luis, speaking in the specific case of Luis, because of how things were done, because of how he left, and because he left for free, paying him for the remaining years of his contract and giving him to a team that was going to fight for the same titles as us."

Lionel Messi has vowed to ignore the advances of other clubs until at least the end of the season despite becoming eligible for a free transfer in a matter of days.

Messi's contract with Barcelona expires on June 30, meaning he is legally able to discuss a future free transfer with another club from six months before that date.

The 33-year-old Barca captain and talisman attempted to force a move away from Barca in August after the Blaugrana surrendered the league title to Real Madrid and lost 8-2 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Barca stood firm and refused to let him depart despite Messi being adamant a get-out clause in his contract was still valid – the Argentinian opting against dragging the club through the courts.

He is now the master of his own destiny as Barca's contractual hold on him will diminish once he enters the final six months of his agreement, with Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City expected to fight it out for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

But Messi reassured Barca fans he will wait until the conclusion of the season before making any decisions, a potentially huge boost to the club given a new president will be in place by the end of January.

Speaking to La Sexta in a highly publicised interview on Sunday, when asked if he will start talking with new clubs next week, Messi said: "No, far from it. That would go against everything I've been saying.

"My plan is to give all I can for the club at the moment. Nothing is decided until the end of the season. Now I only think about finishing the season and winning titles.

"I know there are a lot of Barca people who still love me, but I'm going to do what is best for the club and for myself. Besides, I want to live in Barcelona and be in the club in some way when I retire.

"I don't know if I'm going to leave, but if I do, I would like to leave in the best way and be able to return to the club in the future. Barcelona is much bigger than any player.

"It's a love story from a very young age with the club and the city. Either way, everything that my career has meant should not be stained [by this saga]."

But while he offered no hints as to whether City or PSG were enticing options for him, Messi did reveal a desire to live on the other side of the Atlantic.

"I always had the dream of living in the United States, living this experience," he said. "Today I am focused on these six months, on fighting for what I can and not thinking about how the year will end because it wouldn't be good for me to say what I am going to do. I don't know either."

What does the future hold for Phil Foden?

Foden is highly rated at Manchester City, but he is struggling for regular game time.

Could Real Madrid prise the Englishman to the Santiago Bernabeu?

 

TOP STORY – LOS BLANCOS EYE FODEN

LaLiga champions Real Madrid are ready to pounce for Manchester City's Phil Foden, according to the Mirror.

City sensation Foden has been struggling for regular game time under manager Pep Guardiola, starting just five of his 10 Premier League appearances this season.

Madrid have emerged as serious suitors for the 20-year-old sensation and there is a growing belief that he could be prised to the Spanish capital.

 

ROUND-UP

Arsenal are considering a move for Borussia Dortmund winger Julian Brandt, reports The Athletic. Out of favour at Dortmund this season, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is reportedly keen to reinforce his struggling side in January.

Manchester United could send Donny van de Beek to Inter on loan as they look to bring in Christian Eriksen from the Serie A side, claims Calciomercato. Eriksen is set to leave Inter in January and the Danish midfielder has been linked to Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain.

- As question marks grow over Samir Handanovic, Calciomercato says Inter are considering Udinese goalkeeper Juan Musso as a successor to the long-serving Nerazzurri star.

Madrid are confident of re-signing veteran star Luka Modric, according to Fabrizio Romano. It comes as Madrid still try to negotiate a new contract with captain and soon-to-be free agent Sergio Ramos, who has been linked to the likes of Juventus, PSG, United and City. Modric has previously been a target for Inter and Milan.

Luka Jovic would not be against a return to Eintracht Frankfurt but the out-of-favour Madrid forward is eyeing Milan, reports Calciomercato.

It has been a year like no other, but football eventually managed to continue amid the coronavirus pandemic and give fans across the world something positive to focus on.

Ligue 1 was curtailed and a streamlined version of the Champions League knockout rounds took place in Lisbon in August, before a new season got under way.

There have still been plenty of performances to savour, though, and Stats Perform News has used Opta data to calculate a Team of the Year from the top five European leagues.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi made the grade in 2020 but the same could not be said of Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, while Kylian Mbappe earned a spot that his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar could not.

Supporters of Premier League clubs may not be rejoicing about the selections, which were made based solely on data.

 

Goalkeeper: Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)

Atletico lead the way in LaLiga on goal difference and have two games in hand on nearest rivals Real Madrid. Diego Simeone's side owe much of their success to Oblak, who has kept 17 clean sheets in 33 LaLiga appearances this year – the most of any keeper in the division during the same period.

Right-back: Juan Cuadrado (Juventus)

Juve won a ninth straight Scudetto this year and Cuadrado has played an important role throughout 2020, creating 45 chances (including seven assists) for the Bianconeri in Serie A – only Paulo Dybala (56) supplied more key passes for the club.

Centre-back: Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund)

Bayern Munich may be the dominant force in the Bundesliga, but Hummels has continued to show his worth since returning to Dortmund. He made the most interceptions (57) and completed the most passes (2,056) of any Bundesliga defender in 2020.

Centre-back: Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig)

France international Upamecano is one of the hottest properties in European football and has been linked with a host of elite clubs. He shows great coolness in possession – as evidenced by him completing 24 of the 33 dribbles he attempted for a success rate of 73 per cent, the best of any Bundesliga defender to try at least 30.

Left-back: Theo Hernandez (Milan)

While Upamecano has established himself with Les Bleus, Hernandez's continued absence from the France set-up despite stellar showings for a resurgent Milan remains a source of much debate. The Rossoneri will end the year top of Serie A and Hernandez has been directly involved in 102 shots (46 chances created, 56 attempts on goal) in the league in 2020. That is more than any other defender in the same period.

Centre midfield: Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)

Kimmich's looping goal against Dortmund at the back end of last season was pivotal to Bayern retaining their German league title, which came as part of a treble. It has been the Germany international's distribution that has stood out this year, though. He completed an average of 75 passes per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga in 2020, the most of any midfielder in the competition to feature for at least 1,000 minutes.

Centre midfield: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid)

Madrid regained the title in LaLiga in 2020, with Kroos a central figure in Zinedine Zidane's midfield. Of all players who attempted at least 1,000 passes in the opposition half in the Spanish top flight this year, Kroos was the only one who had a completion rate higher than 90 per cent.

Right wing: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

This year may have proved to be terminal to Messi's tight relationship with Barcelona, and while he was not quite up to his previous goalscoring exploits he still proved massively influential in the final third. He was the only player in LaLiga in 2020 to both score at least 15 goals and register as many assists.

Attacking midfield: Alejandro 'Papu' Gomez (Atalanta)

His time with Atalanta may seemingly be coming to an end after a falling-out with Gian Piero Gasperini, but Gomez has been one of the club's most important players. He had more assists (12) and created more chances (81) in Serie A this year than any of his team-mates.

Left wing: Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

PSG were crowned Ligue 1 champions despite the season being cut short in April, meaning they have played just 26 games this year. Mbappe only featured in 21 of those, but he was still directly involved in 24 goals (19 scored, five assisted) which was more than any other player in the competition in 2020.

Striker: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

It was no surprise to see Lewandowski named The Best FIFA Men's Player after an incredible campaign with Bayern. He scored 32 Bundesliga goals in 26 appearances this year and only five of them were spot-kicks. His tally of 27 non-penalty goals was the most of any player in the top five European leagues.

Paris Saint-Germain have sacked head coach Thomas Tuchel a day after they hammered Strasbourg 4-0, according to widespread reports.

Tuchel has come under increasing pressure this season, with champions PSG third in Ligue 1 after losing four of their 17 matches.

A rout of struggling Strasbourg on Wednesday came too late for the German boss, who was reportedly relieved of his duties on Christmas Eve.

Former Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino, who spent over two years with PSG in his playing days, looks poised to replace the 47-year-old.

Tuchel masterminded back-to-back Ligue 1 title triumphs after he was appointed in May 2018, also winning the Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and claiming the Trophee des Champions twice.

PSG missed out on a maiden Champions League success when they were beaten 1-0 by Bayern Munich in the final in August.

Tuchel endured a fractious relationship with sporting director Leonardo, but the Brazilian last month stated that the club had never considered sacking the former Borussia Dortmund head coach.

Criticism of PSG's lack of transfer business from Tuchel, whose contract was due to expire at the end of this season, did not go down well with Leonardo during the previous window.

PSG lost their first two Ligue 1 matches of the campaign amid a coronavirus outbreak and Tuchel then suggested a repeat of the 2019-20 campaign could not be expected due to a lack of investment in the playing squad.

Despite a less than vintage start domestically, Tuchel guided last year's runners-up into the Champions League round of 16 as Group H winners.

His replacement will do battle with Barcelona for a place in the quarter-finals.

Chelsea have reportedly joined the race for Erling Haaland as Manchester United consider their options.

Haaland, 20, has been heavily linked with a move after starring for Borussia Dortmund.

Europe's biggest clubs are lining up to sign the forward, and Chelsea are apparently among them, while United may look elsewhere.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA JOIN RACE FOR HAALAND

Chelsea are ready to enter the race for Dortmund star Haaland, according to 90min.

Manchester City are also reportedly heavily interested in the Norway international, who has also been linked with Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Haaland has scored 33 goals in 32 games for Dortmund since arriving at the Bundesliga club from Salzburg in January.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United, meanwhile, may look elsewhere. The Mirror reports the Premier League giants may be unable to sign Haaland due to their "sour relationship" with his agent, Mino Raiola. The report says United see Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin as an alternative.

- With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez still sidelined, Liverpool continue to be linked with defenders. Todofichajes.com reports the Premier League leaders are interested in Real Madrid centre-back Eder Militao. Meanwhile, the Liverpool Echo says the club are in talks with Celta Vigo over 16-year-old defender Stefan Bajcetic.

- Struggling in the Premier League, Arsenal are expected to strengthen in January. The Daily Star reports the Gunners are considering a loan move for Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior next month.

- After just one Premier League appearance for Chelsea this season, Antonio Rudiger has been linked with a move away. Le Parisien reports Paris Saint-Germain want the defender in January.

- Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard is apparently attracting interest from elsewhere. CalcioMercato reports Juventus and Milan are interested in the 22-year-old.

- Barcelona midfielder Riqui Puig is set to leave Camp Nou following repeated criticism from Blaugrana boss Ronald Koeman. Manchester City and Bayern Munich are both keen on the 21-year-old, according to Fichajes.

Thomas Tuchel enjoys the challenge of managing Paris Saint-Germain and insists he was mistranslated when suggesting the job is more about politics than coaching.

PSG rounded off 2020 with a routine 4-0 win over Strasbourg in Ligue 1 on Wednesday through goals from Timothee Pembele, Kylian Mbappe, Idrissa Gueye and Moise Kean.

A few hours ahead of the match, an interview with Tuchel was published by SPORT1 in which the German opened up on the demands of managing such a big club.

The 47-year-old said it can be difficult keeping players such as Neymar and Mbappe happy, while also admitting he is "sad" his achievements are often played down.

Tuchel was also quoted as saying he felt more like "a sports politician or sports minister than a coach" during his first season in the French capital.

However, Tuchel attempted to clarify the comments when questioned in the aftermath of his side's win against Strasbourg.

"I didn't say it's more about politics than sport, nor that I lost the fun of training. This is not true," he told Canal+. "It is possible they translated incorrectly.

"Watch the video interview. I just said that PSG are unique and that it's a big challenge for me. It's always been like that. I like this challenge and nothing has changed."

Asked again about the interview at his post-match news conference, Tuchel added: "I gave a video interview to a journalist who told me to do a story about German coaches.

"It is not an interview for him. It is not allowed.

"I was making a joke in German. The translation is not correct. We cannot translate word for word. It was a joke while we were talking and it is not allowed."

PSG enter the mid-season break sitting third in Ligue 1, one point behind Lyon and Lille following their victories over Nantes and Montpellier respectively.

The reigning champions took the lead inside 18 minutes through Pembele but had to wait until 11 minutes from time for Mbappe to add a second from close range.

Two more goals from substitutes Gueye and Kean followed late on in a game the home side bossed, seeing 69 per cent of the ball and managing eight shots on target to their opponents' two.

"It was a strong performance from us," Tuchel said. "And this after a very demanding first half to the season. I'm very happy today because it was a win we deserved.

"We were again missing a lot of players due to injury but were serious and disciplined with our play. That is a big compliment to the team.

"Our ranking in the table is what it is, but we know why we're here. It would have been more difficult to take if we didn't know the reasons.

"I am happy because the team has shown in the last two games we can play well."

Pembele's sliding finish was his first goal for PSG on just his fifth appearance, the teenage defender scoring from one of his rare forays forward.

He was fielded at right wing-back and played fewer passes in the opposition half (16) than any outfield PSG starter, but he showed good instincts to bag a goal that he dedicated to his parents.

"It's a great emotion for me tonight," he said. "I played in a position where I had to attack and follow all the balls. I scored my first professional goal and I'm very happy with it.

"It's a very nice Christmas present for my parents. The coach told me when there is room to attack. It was difficult since they had five at the back.

"But we were able to get the ball rolling and find ways to score. It's hard to find a place in the side, but we have a lot of games and there are also five substitutions."

Kylian Mbappe was among the scorers as Paris Saint-Germain brushed aside Strasbourg 4-0 in their final Ligue 1 outing of 2020.

The reigning champions were held to a goalless draw by Lille last time out and struggled to find their stride again in Wednesday's clash at the Parc des Princes prior to a late flurry of goals.

Timothee Pembele's first strike for the club in his fifth appearance got PSG off the mark after 18 minutes, but it took until 11 minutes from time for Mbappe to add a second from a few yards out.

Substitutes Idrissa Gueye and Moise Kean then joined the scoring as Thomas Tuchel's men picked up a third league win in seven outings, although they end the year in third place a point behind Lyon and Lille, who both won elsewhere.

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.

Kylian Mbappe's fitness struggles are causing a headache for Thomas Tuchel ahead of injury-hit Paris Saint-Germain's Ligue 1 clash with Strasbourg on Wednesday.

The rapid France striker has been struggling with his left adductors since PSG defeated Lorient 2-0 last week and his status to feature against Strasbourg remains in doubt.

Presnel Kimpembe, Layvin Kurzawa (both hamstring) and Alessandro Florenzi (ankle) have added to a PSG injury list that sits at 10 players, while the absence of Mbappe would make it 11.

Asked at a pre-match news conference how he plans to manage the situation, head coach Tuchel replied: "I don't know what to do for tomorrow, I haven't decided yet in terms of who is going to play.

"Some guys are at risk with their injuries, I haven't decided yet, I still need to talk to the doctor and to the physio about players and wait for the training session later."

With a lengthy list of absentees and the January transfer window just around the corner, Tuchel was asked if the situation will enhance the need for reinforcements.

"The situation is as it is right now, we don't know what we will do in the transfer window, I haven't thought about it too much to be honest," he replied.

"We always need to adapt to the current situation, we had a spell in the Champions League and the group phase was difficult, I couldn't think about anything else.

"The most important thing is to have fewer injuries. That's my focus right now."

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