Cristiano Ronaldo is contracted at Juventus until 2022, but the superstar seemingly has no plans to retire then.

Ronaldo, 35, has made another fine start to the season with Juve, where he arrived from Real Madrid in 2018.

But with his contract expiring in 2022, the Portugal star's future is again set to be a talking point.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO WANTS TO STAY AT TOP LEVEL BEYOND 2022

Ronaldo wants to play at the top level beyond 2022 but there are no guarantees he will stay at Juventus, according to Tuttosport.

The report says Ronaldo, who has been linked to Paris Saint-Germain previously, would prefer not to head to a competition like MLS or the Chinese Super League.

Ronaldo has scored five goals in three Serie A appearances for Juve this season.

While early in the campaign, Ronaldo has a better shooting accuracy (66.7), shot conversion rate (31.3) and big chance conversion percentage (66.7) in 2020-21 than in his previous seasons in Serie A.

 

ROUND-UP

Sergio Ramos reached 100 goals for Real Madrid on Tuesday, but there has been talk about the club captain's future. ESPN says Ramos and Madrid have begun talks over a new contract, with the 34-year-old's current deal expiring at season's end.

Chelsea were reportedly chasing West Ham midfielder Declan Rice in the close season, although they proved unsuccessful. However, Fabrizio Romano reports Chelsea will try to land the England international again in January.

- As Tanguy Ndombele begins to impress at Tottenham, Barcelona are considering a move for the midfielder, according to Fabrizio Romano.

- Amid uncertainty over his Real Madrid future, Luka Jovic is again linked with a move away. CalcioMercato reports Milan and Napoli could return to move for the forward in January. The Serbian is without a goal in four games for Madrid this season.

Rodrygo struck 10 minutes from time to earn Real Madrid a 3-2 win and deny Inter after the visitors had battled back from two goals down in Tuesday's Champions League clash.

Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane labelled the Group B match a "final" and his side made a bright start thanks to Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos – the latter scoring his 100th goal for the club.

Inter, who entered the contest one point better off than their opponents, battled back through well-taken strikes from Lautaro Martinez and Ivan Perisic either side of half-time.

But Madrid regained their lead late on when substitutes Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo combined on the counter, making it five games without a win for Inter and under-pressure boss Antonio Conte.

Marco Asensio was denied by a smart Samir Handanovic save and Nicolo Barella scraped the top of the crossbar with a header in a lively and end-to-end start to the showdown.

That set the tone for what was to follow as Benzema pounced on Hakimi's underhit backpass, rounded Inter goalkeeper Handanovic and tucked the ball into an empty net for the 25th-minute opener.

Ramos added a second for Madrid eight minutes later by getting away from his marker to meet Toni Kroos' corner and head in from the edge of the six-yard box.

Inter gave themselves an instant lifeline as Barella superbly flicked the ball into the path of Martinez to pick out the bottom-left corner 10 minutes before the interval.

Conte's Inter, once again without injured striker Romelu Lukaku, initially struggled to get at their opponents in a quieter second half in the Spanish capital.

However, against the run of play, Martinez nodded the ball into the path of Perisic and the makeshift striker held off Lucas Vazquez before rifling across Thibaut Courtois.

Both teams went in search of a winner and it was Madrid who found it – Vinicius leading a break down the left and feeding the ball to fellow Brazilian Rodrygo, who took a touch to set himself and then found the top-right corner to win the match during the closing stages.

It remains to be seen whether Pep Guardiola will re-sign with Manchester City.

Guardiola's contract expires at the end of the season in Manchester.

Should the Spaniard decide to move on, there are already two men on the list to replace him.

 

TOP STORY – CITY INTERESTED IN NAGELSMANN

Manchester City are eyeing RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann as a possible replacement for Pep Guardiola, according to the Daily Mail.

Guardiola is out of contract at the end of the 2020-21 campaign and the City manager – who has been previously linked to Juventus – is no closer to re-signing.

Should Guardiola decide to leave after arriving in 2016, Nagelsmann and former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino are early candidates.

 

ROUND-UP

Sergio Ramos and LaLiga champions Real Madrid remain deadlocked over contract talks, claims the front page of Monday's Diario AS. The 34-year-old is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and he wants a two-year deal, though Madrid are only committed to 12 months.

- Tuttosport reports Juve and Barcelona are both pursuing Ajax sensation Ryan Gravenberch. The 18-year-old midfielder emerged from Ajax's youth system in 2018.

Barcelona will block a January loan offer from Ligue 1 holders Paris Saint-Germain for Riqui Puig, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Kylian Mbappe extending his PSG contract has not been ruled out, claims L'Equipe. Tipped to eventually join Madrid, while the likes of Liverpool, Barca and Manchester United have also been linked, Mbappe could stay in Paris should certain conditions be met. The Frenchman is keen to see what unfolds in the next transfer windows.

Zinedine Zidane was delighted to be able to welcome back Sergio Ramos for the Clasico, with the Real Madrid captain starring at both ends at Camp Nou.

Ramos had been substituted at half-time in last week's defeat to Cadiz and sat out the midweek meeting with Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League, a second straight home reverse.

But Madrid's form returned along with their skipper on Saturday as they beat bitter rivals Barcelona 3-1.

Zidane's led through Federico Valverde's fifth-minute goal but were pegged back soon enough by Ansu Fati, who then had the Spanish champions on the back foot early in the second half.

However, Ramos earned a penalty from an altercation with Clement Lenglet in the Barca box – a tug spotted by the VAR – and netted himself from 12 yards.

That set the stage for Luka Modric to clinch the points in the 90th minute after Ramos had led a brave defensive effort.

The World Cup winner's importance to Madrid is certainly not in doubt. Including the Shakhtar game, they have lost seven of their past eight Champions League games without him.

"We know what Sergio is and what he represents, not only as a player," Zidane said.

"He is always positive on the field and we always want him in our team. It is important for the team to see how he played today."

Ramos made three tackles, four clearances, three interceptions and a block in defence, but his most telling contribution was in attack.

The defender felt the penalty award was "very clear" but, while Barca coach Ronald Koeman was left disappointed, Zidane was reluctant to be drawn into such a discussion.

"[The referee] went to look at the play and he called a penalty," Zidane said. "I never speak of the referees and I will not do it today either.

"Regardless of this play, we deserved this victory, although Barca also had their chances."

Ronald Koeman said he hoped the use of VAR in LaLiga would be explained after a contentious Real Madrid penalty turned the tide in his first Clasico as Barcelona coach.

Madrid ran out 3-1 winners at Camp Nou on Saturday but were on the back foot at 1-1 prior to a spot-kick awarded against Clement Lenglet.

Sergio Ramos went down in dramatic fashion following a tug from Lenglet in the area, with the VAR then encouraging referee Juan Martinez Munuera to assess the incident.

He awarded a penalty, which Ramos scored, but Koeman claimed the Madrid captain had first committed a foul.

"Is it a penalty? For me, it is not a penalty," said Koeman, whose side cancelled out Federico Valverde's opener through Ansu Fati but saw any hopes of rescuing a result late on dashed by Luka Modric's goal.

"I hope they can explain it to me about the use of VAR here in Spain. The VAR can be very good, but for all teams.

"I have not spoken with Lenglet about the play. First, it is Ramos foul on Lenglet for taking him by the shirt. Once again, for me, it is not a penalty.

"It is normal for Real Madrid players to do their best so that the referee awards a penalty.

"I don't want to talk about this penalty anymore. What is clear is that it has been decisive in the game."

The victory lifted Madrid above Real Sociedad to the top of LaLiga, while Barcelona sit 12th with two defeats, two wins and a draw from their five league matches under Koeman.

The past week showed everyone that Real Madrid are vulnerable. Everyone it seems, except Ronald Koeman.

Consecutive defeats and some rather loud questions about the future of Zinedine Zidane meant Saturday's game at Camp Nou was one he dare not lose. For Koeman, this was a chance to go for the jugular, to show LaLiga and the watching world what improvements he has made to Barcelona since taking over in August.

Instead, the first Clasico of the season was a commanding 3-1 win for Madrid, a bruising outing for Lionel Messi and a 90-minute showcase of how unclear the Koeman blueprint seems to be.

He went, as expected, with Barca's first starting 4-2-3-1 in a Clasico since at least 2005-06, but his line-up was still puzzling. Ansu Fati is a rare talent with a robustness under pressure to match – and, of course, he scored here to cancel out Federico Valverde's opener – but Pedri, another 17-year-old, was chosen ahead of Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele as two of Barca's most expensive signings again began on the bench.

The two France forwards are hardly untouchables in this side, but starting a player of such limited experience as Pedri was a gamble that didn't pay off. He completed 79.5 per cent of his passes, the lowest rate of any starting player for Barca, and failed to have a shot or create a chance. It was a surprise that it took until the 81st minute for Koeman to bring him off.

By the time Griezmann and Dembele were summoned in the second half, with Barca chasing the game, it was too little, too late. Sergio Ramos, the major-general of Zidane's fiercest battles, had seen to that.

The Madrid captain can claim to be the most critical asset to either side of this famous rivalry, Messi included. Zidane had insisted this week he would not use Ramos were he not 100 per cent fit, but it sounded a hollow threat. Those chastening defeats to Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk had shown the boss that playing Ramos here was worth the risk.

So it proved. Ramos made four clearances, three interceptions and one crucial block from a Philippe Coutinho effort at 2-1. He misplaced just three of 55 passes and completed all 15 of those attempted in the Barca half. When Clement Lenglet foolishly took a handful of his shirt to concede a penalty, there seemed only one outcome. Not even VAR delays can throw Ramos off his stride.

He capped his display by stopping a late Messi run with an almost impudent back-foot challenge, the kind that will likely have fan accounts on social media sharing the footage every week until the reverse fixture.

Still, even with their captain back in the team, this is a flawed and fragile Madrid, with no fit recognised right-backs and who had only scored six goals in five league games, yet Koeman's set-up left them an easy ride.

After Messi had a shot well blocked by Thibaut Courtois 24 minutes in, Barca did not muster a single effort on target, meaning Luka Modric's composed late finish was scarcely even necessary. It was all too deep, too central and too slow; for Ramos and his fellow defenders, it was a picnic.

It is still early in the season to write off Koeman's chances, but two wins from five games and a six-point gap to Madrid at the top – albeit with a game in hand – are sufficient warning signs of the task at hand.

Ernesto Valverde's Barca were too rigid and Quique Setien's frighteningly open, but, after more than two months, we're no closer to knowing what kind of team Koeman's are.

Sergio Ramos felt the penalty he won and scored to inspire Real Madrid to a Clasico triumph at Barcelona was "very clear".

With Saturday's clash at Camp Nou level at 1-1 in the second half after early goals from Federico Valverde and Ansu Fati, Ramos went down in the Barca box.

It was an extravagant fall from the Madrid captain but caught the attention of the VAR, with replays highlighting a blatant tug on his shirt from Clement Lenglet.

A spot-kick was subsequently awarded and Ramos found the net before Luka Modric made sure of the points in the 90th minute.

Barca players were furious with the penalty decision, but Ramos saw no controversy in the call.

"The penalty is very clear," he said. "For me, the action is clear. The referees and the VAR are there to help us."

Wins at Barca are always worthy of celebration for Madrid, but this success was especially precious after consecutive home defeats to Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Ramos played just 45 minutes across those matches due to a knee problem and was delighted by the LaLiga champions' response in Catalonia.

"It was a week in which to vindicate ourselves and a Clasico is a unique match in the world," he said. "We faced it with great enthusiasm.

"You always have to be united and you cannot regret bad streaks or previous results.

"We are happy with the three points, and emotionally it is very good for the next matches. It is always very rewarding to win at our eternal rivals."

He added: "A week of crisis at Real Madrid is two games. We have to keep adding three points at a time and keep the good energy of the group.

"There are points that taste like glory - that is how it is here at our eternal rivals' stadium. This team has won a lot and we want to continue doing so."

Ramos was influential at both ends of the field, with Madrid requiring their skipper to lead a determined defensive stand between his goal and Modric's.

The centre-back, who had more shots (four) and shots on target (three) than any team-mate, weighed in with three tackles, four clearances, three interceptions and a block.

He won seven of his 10 duels and all three in the air as Madrid batted away wave after wave of Barcelona attack over a 25-minute spell.

Sergio Ramos returned to win and score a game-turning penalty in Real Madrid's 3-1 Clasico victory at Barcelona on Saturday.

Madrid captain Ramos was substituted in last week's home defeat to Cadiz and missed the subsequent shock reverse against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League as the Spanish champions crept towards a crisis ahead of their first meeting with Barca this season.

But the centre-back was fit to start for the crunch LaLiga clash at Camp Nou and drew a second-half spot-kick from Clement Lenglet to restore Madrid's lead after Ansu Fati had cancelled out Federico Valverde's opener in a frantic start.

Luka Modric then preyed on a Neto error in the 90th minute to secure the points and take Zinedine Zidane's men top, earning back-to-back LaLiga wins against their fiercest rivals for the first time since May 2008 - the last time they successfully defended their domestic title.

Meanwhile, Barca are now without a win in three in the league and sit six points back in mid-table under new coach Ronald Koeman.

The first chance of a gripping game brought the breakthrough as Karim Benzema played a patient pass through for Valverde to advance and lift a cool fifth-minute finish over Neto into the top-left corner.

Vinicius Junior blasted off target as Madrid sought a swift second, but instead they were pegged back three minutes after going ahead when Jordi Alba raced in behind Nacho and squared for Fati to tap in.

Thibaut Courtois and Neto denied Lionel Messi and Benzema respectively at either end as an even, entertaining first half finished all square, before Barca started strongly in the second period.

Fati shot across the face of goal and then Philippe Coutinho aimed a header wastefully wide from the goalscorer's pinpoint cross.

But Lenglet's foolish, off-balance tug on Ramos encouraged an extravagant fall, alerting the VAR to the foul and allowing the visiting skipper to slide his spot-kick beyond Neto.

The embattled Neto made a smart double-stop from Toni Kroos and somehow blocked Ramos' volley, but his valiant efforts to keep Barca in the game were undone when he spilled the ball at the feet of Rodrygo, who squared for fellow substitute Modric to calmly prod into the net.
 

What does it mean? Advantage Madrid after tough week

Even with the season still in its infancy, recent results meant a victory either way in Catalonia would have a huge bearing on the mood music heading into the rest of the campaign.

Madrid therefore emerge surely in pole position to win a second straight LaLiga crown, having triumphed in the first Clasico of the season at Camp Nou for the first time since December 2007.

For Barca, the misery that set in at the end of last season shows no sign of shifting. They had 60 per cent of the possession in the second half on Saturday but could not muster a single shot on target.

Leading by example

Ramos' return did not fix all of Madrid's problems and right-back remains an issue, with Nacho surviving just 43 minutes, three fouls and a booking before he was substituted.

But the captain remains as influential as ever. He showed his experience in winning the penalty and then settled into a trademark defensive effort prior to the third goal, making three tackles, four clearances, three interceptions and a block in all.

Letting the side down

The Blaugrana were on top when Lenglet's misstep handed Madrid complete control. The foul - one of three from the Barca defender - initially went undetected, but Ramos was always likely to make the most of such contact in the box and it proved costly.

What's next?

Things do not get any easier for Barca as they go to Juventus on Wednesday. Madrid will aim to get their own Champions League campaign up and running a day earlier at Borussia Monchengladbach.

Sergio Ramos returned to captain Real Madrid and Barcelona full-back Jordi Alba was passed fit for Saturday's Clasico showdown at Camp Nou. 

Ramos missed a stunning 3-2 midweek Champions League defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk after suffering a knee injury in the shock loss to Cadiz, but the captain was picked to start at the heart of the Madrid defence against Ronald Koeman's side. 

Under-pressure head coach Zinedine Zidane restored Karim Benzema, Vinicius Junior and Nacho Fernandez to the starting line-up, with Luka Modric among those dropped to the bench. 

Barca welcomed Alba back from a hamstring problem, while Pedri came into the side and Sergio Busquets started after being on the bench for the hammering of Ferencvaros. 

France forward Antoine Griezmann was once again named among the substitutes by Koeman, who was overseeing his first Clasico since his appointment in August. 

Madrid are unbeaten in their past two Clasicos in LaLiga, keeping a clean sheet on both occasions, with Barca having only failed to score in three in a row once - between 1957 and 1958. 

Zinedine Zidane insists he is not feeling the pressure of the sack as the Real Madrid coach welcomes back Sergio Ramos for Saturday's Clasico.

Back-to-back home defeats to Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk have left Zidane's position under scrutiny and a loss to Barcelona at Camp Nou would only amplify concerns that the team are stagnating.

The 3-2 loss to Shakhtar was particularly chastening, as Madrid fell 3-0 down in the first half to a team missing 10 key first-team players due to an outbreak of coronavirus, marking the first time they let in three goals in the first 45 minutes of a Champions League match in 15 years.

Ramos missed that match through injury but is expected at least to be in the squad this weekend, although Zidane warned he wanted his captain to be at "100 per cent".

Zidane has only lost twice in nine games against Barca as Madrid boss and his side have not conceded a goal in the previous two, with a goalless draw and a 2-0 win in last season's meetings helping Madrid go on to win the LaLiga title.

But with only three wins in all competitions since July 16, doubts have been growing over Zidane's long-term suitability in his second stint in the job, and some reports in Spain suggest Mauricio Pochettino has already been contacted over the prospect of taking charge.

Zidane, though, insists he feels the support of everyone at the club, saying: "Yes, [I feel it from] all of them. Ultimately, I've won many things with these players; they have made me win a lot of things. I will be with these players to the death. They are the ones who fight and run.

"I can see the support, yes. But, for now, what's important for us is to change the mindset. Games are coming for us to change things. Football is beautiful for that. When things get worse, you have to bring out your character and quality."

When asked if his future is at stake, he replied: "That's what is said. Nothing at all has changed. It was the same last year, the same in my first period. It doesn't change.

"What I have to do is my job, give 100 per cent as always and, to the rest, nothing.

"We look at the games. We started badly in the sense that, when they scored, it was tough for us to lift our heads.

"That's football. There are high and low moments and you have to accept them. You have to forget what happened the other day.

"I don't like being a victim or anything. It's a game and each one has its story, and that's the good thing about football. You can go through bad moments and the good thing is you can take that and come back to change the situation.

"I've always been critical of myself. It's the engine to improve. After a defeat, as coach, most of the criticism is for me. And that's normal. But I don't live in the past; I'm interested in what lies ahead."

The pressure is firmly on Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid heading into Saturday's Clasico at Barcelona.

Madrid were crowned LaLiga champions just three months ago, but recent results have altered the narrative considerably prior to the clash at Camp Nou.

Los Blancos lost to Cadiz in the league last week and then on Wednesday suffered a remarkable Champions League reverse at the hands of Shakhtar Donetsk, who were missing 10 first-team players due to coronavirus.

These defeats followed the closing of a transfer window in which Madrid did not make a single signing, leaving Zidane short on options.

The prospect of this campaign quickly crumbling is especially painful for those in the Spanish capital after they appeared set to finally dominate rivals Barca once more...
 

MADRID'S BIG OPPORTUNITY

Madrid won the most recent Clasico in March, but they have not beaten Barca in consecutive LaLiga matches since May 2008.

On that occasion, the Blaugrana promptly appointed Pep Guardiola and became Spain's premier domestic side. Madrid's 2019-20 title was just their third since then, despite their Champions League supremacy.

But this season seemed to represent a chance for Madrid to secure a hold over Barca and stage a successful defence of their championship for the first time since that 2007-08 campaign.

Barca were embarrassed in the Champions League by Bayern Munich late last season, leading to the sacking of Quique Setien, the appointment of Ronald Koeman and subsequent departures of Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal, and of course Lionel Messi's transfer request.

While Messi stayed in the end, the current campaign is widely expected to be his last, meaning Madrid would need only to master the magnificent number 10 and his crisis club one final time.

There was modest investment at Barca, at least topping Madrid's outlay of zero, but the arrivals of Miralem Pjanic and Sergino Dest looked unlikely to turn the tide after the champions ended last season in stunning style.
 

WHERE HAS IT GONE WRONG?

Madrid won 10 straight matches after the 2019-20 season – paused amid COVID-19 – resumed in June, dropping points only in a draw against Leganes on the final day when the title was wrapped up.

A goalless stalemate at Real Sociedad then represented an opening-day setback this term, yet Madrid's form was still relatively steady until the Cadiz match, a 1-0 loss.

Reassessing their start after that defeat, however, shows a clear regression from the end of the previous campaign in one key area: their finishing.

In the final 11 matches of last season, Madrid's shooting accuracy (excluding blocks) only once dipped below 50 per cent – in a 1-0 win against Athletic Bilbao – but is yet to reach that mark at all in five games this term.

Against Cadiz, Zidane's side had 74.8 per cent of the ball – more than in any other fixture since June – yet hit the target just twice from 14 attempts.

Crucially, Karim Benzema has gone off the boil. Only he and Federico Valverde have played in all 16 league games since June, the Frenchman scoring seven times from 28 shots at the end of last season, as well as creating six big chances.

In 2020-21, Benzema has netted only once in the league at a conversion rate of 5.3 per cent, while his shot accuracy is down from 72 per cent to 50 per cent and he has already missed as many big chances (three) in five games as he did in 11.
 

IS THERE A SIMPLE FIX?

Given their lack of transfer activity, leaving the squad a little stale, Madrid have no choice but to wait for Benzema to rediscover the form that saw him net 21 times in consecutive seasons following Cristiano Ronaldo's exit.

There remains no obvious alternative, with Luka Jovic handed another opportunity but so far failing to score and missing his only big chance across three matches. Vinicius Junior has also passed up a trio of clear openings.

The defensive concerns evident against Shakhtar should at least be eased by the return of Sergio Ramos, the captain substituted at half-time at home to Cadiz and then rested in Europe.

Raphael Varane endured another Champions League night to forget in his absence, adding an own goal to his two errors leading to goals in August's 2-1 defeat at Manchester City.

In fact, Madrid have now lost seven of their past eight Champions League games without their skipper – also including the trip to City.

This dependence on a 32-year-old Benzema and 34-year-old Ramos must be a cause for concern given Barca were supposed to be the ageing side.

It certainly suggests Madrid might not find life as straightforward as expected as they attempt to step into the void to be left by Messi.

Zinedine Zidane offered no excuses after a Real Madrid side who lost Sergio Ramos to injury were humbled by Cadiz on Saturday.

Anthony Lozano scored the only goal of the game in the 16th minute as the reigning LaLiga champions were stunned by their newly promoted opponents, who matched their hosts' tally of 14 shots despite having just 25 per cent possession.

The result was a surprising setback ahead of a week that includes the start of Madrid's Champions League campaign – they take on Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday – and a trip to rivals Barcelona.

Zidane was full of praise for Cadiz in the aftermath, admitting they were far sharper than his own team as the minnows claimed their first away win over Madrid.

"We have no excuses, it is a bad game and we must congratulate Cadiz," Zidane said, according to Marca.

"They have shown more rhythm, more desire. We are not happy. It is what can happen in football."

He added: "We do not physically enter the game and it shows. There are no excuses and we have to see how we can change it.

"We have lacked many things. If you do not have rhythm in a LaLiga game it is complicated, they have had more rhythm and more eager."

Defender Ramos was substituted at half-time and watched the rest of the game from the stands with ice on his left knee.

"It's a nuisance, we'll see what he has," Zidane said of the Madrid captain's injury. "We hope it is not too serious, tomorrow (Sunday) we will see what it is exactly, hopefully not too much."

The Frenchman also dismissed any concerns that the result will have a lasting impact on his squad.

Madrid received some good news with Barcelona's defeat at Getafe in Saturday's late kick-off, meaning the two rivals have both lost heading into a Clasico contest for the first time since April 2003.

"We have only lost three points. They are three important points, but nothing more. Now we have to think about the next game," Zidane told the media.

"We are going to try to do things right. It is clear that today is a bad time, but we are going to try to change this."

Sergio Ramos could reportedly leave Real Madrid for Juventus or Paris Saint-Germain, while Paul Pogba is being linked to Barcelona.

Madrid captain Ramos, 34, has been at the LaLiga giants since 2005, but his contract is expiring at the end of the season.

And his situation is catching the eye of two European giants.

 

TOP STORY – JUVENTUS, PSG EYEING RAMOS

Juventus and PSG have tabled contract offers for Madrid star Ramos, according to El Chiringuito.

Ramos is out of contract in June next year, leading to fresh speculation over his future.

The Spain international has won five LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues among numerous other trophies with Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- Amid a difficult financial position, Barcelona could also be looking at players coming out of contract. Mundo Deportivo reports Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and Bayern Munich defender David Alaba may become targets.

- Inter reportedly offered Bayern Munich and intriguing exchange during the transfer window. Sky Germany says Christian Eriksen was offered to Bayern by Inter, who wanted Jerome Boateng, but the Bundesliga champions turned down the deal.

- Sergio Romero wants out of Manchester United. The Sun reports the goalkeeper has begged the Premier League giants to let him leave amid apparent interest from MLS.

- Harry Wilson could be set for another loan spell away from Liverpool. After spending last season at Bournemouth, Wilson is being offered to Swansea City, according to The Sun.

- Danny Welbeck may stay in the Premier League. The Daily Mail reports the forward, who was released by Watford earlier this month, is attracting interest from Brighton and Hove Albion.

- West Ham's move for Brentford forward Said Benrahma has stalled, according to The Telegraph, and Aston Villa may make a move for the 25-year-old.

Spain boss Luis Enrique has defended Ansu Fati after he struggled to impact the 1-0 victory over Switzerland in the Nations League.

The 17-year-old Barcelona winger, who is his country's youngest ever goalscorer, played 57 minutes in Madrid before being replaced by Wolves star Adama Traore.

Fati failed to capitalise on two good openings in the match, managing just one shot and creating zero opportunities for team-mates.

He also failed to muster a cross and lost four of his seven duels as Switzerland's 3-5-2 system proved tricky to break down, with Silvan Widmer and Nico Elvedi providing tough opposition down the Spain left.

"Man-marking is always a problem for the forwards, for everyone," Luis Enrique said on Monday as Spain prepare to face Ukraine. 

"Our goal is to create the greatest number of advantages for our attackers. After that, each game is how it is.

"Ansu is 17 years old, but he already knows what he's going to find in matches.

"We have our model because it depends on the work of the whole team. Against Switzerland, it was a difficult game for everyone because of the strong and high pressing from them, but I think we solved things well."

Spain's attack was also frustrated in a 0-0 draw with Portugal last week, but defensively the 2010 world champions have looked impressive.

In a 15-game unbeaten run stretching back to November 2018, La Roja have conceded only six goals and kept nine clean sheets.

Luis Enrique is happy to see the likes of Pau Torres, Eric Garcia and Diego Llorente perform well in a battle for a starting spot and also believes the younger players can help captain Sergio Ramos improve.

"Pau, Eric and Diego have done well, each one contributing in their place and trying to improve," he said.

"They are able to play with someone who is a benchmark, like Ramos, and they feel they can play with him, help him and even correct him. Leaders also know they can learn new things."

Dani Ceballos wants to see Sergio Ramos marauding across Europe with Spain next year before going for gold in Tokyo.

The prospect of a European Championship and Olympic Games double has been shunted back by 12 months, and Ramos will be 35 by the time they take place.

But the captain of Real Madrid and Spain has indicated an appetite for playing in both, and Ceballos would love to see him flying the flag both in his home continent and in Japan.

The European Championship will be played across a host of countries, with Spain having home advantage for their three group games which will all be played in Bilbao.

Everything is conditional on the pandemic situation allowing such tournaments to go ahead, but Ceballos, who is also hoping to double up, sees Ramos as a leader who would lift Spain on the Olympic stage.

"Sergio has earned the right to decide by the performance he gives," said Spain midfielder Ceballos.

"I always want him in my team. He has been a fundamental player, he continues to be, and of course I would want to have him at the Olympic Games on my side."

The European Championship final is due to be played on July 11 in London, a mere 11 days before the Olympic men's football tournament begins in Tokyo.

Ceballos spoke of there being 15 days' difference and suggested that was "still compatible" with being able to take part in both.

Regardless of the exact gap between those events, it will be demanding for any player to fully commit to both.

Midfielder Ceballos just wants to make sure he has a chance of being involved regularly with Spain, which is why again this season he is on loan at Arsenal from Real Madrid.

At Arsenal he is set for an integral role under Mikel Arteta's leadership, but there were no guarantees he would be a fixture in Zinedine Zidane's Madrid team.

"You know that to take part you have to play for your team," Ceballos said.

"When a player is happy in his team that is for the best and that is why I decided to stay for one more year at Arsenal where I could develop my game as normal.

"After confinement we have seen a Dani Ceballos that we all wanted. I have improved a lot and I am very happy to continue at Arsenal."

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