Marseille have struck a deal to sign Azzedine Ounahi after clubs from across Europe targeted the midfielder who dazzled in Morocco's World Cup semi-final run.

Ounahi was pivotal as Morocco became the first African team to reach the last four at a World Cup, catching the eye as the Atlas Lions saw off Spain and Portugal before falling to France.

The 22-year-old will leave Angers to join fellow Ligue 1 outfit Marseille for a fee reportedly of around €10million, having previously been linked with the likes of Napoli, Leicester City and Leeds United.

Both clubs announced a deal was in place on Saturday.

Marseille, who sit third in the table, said in a short statement: "Olympique Marseille announces an agreement in principle with Angers for the permanent signing of Azzedine Ounahi."

Ounahi has played 15 games in the French top flight this season, having also been a regular last season, and he will leave Angers just 18 months after arriving from minnows Avranches.

His arrival at Stade Velodrome could pave the way for Matteo Guendouzi to depart.

The France international is rumoured to be a target for Aston Villa and West Ham.

Premier League heavyweights Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle United are reportedly preparing to target Napoli striker Victor Osimhen, who may leave the Serie A leaders at the end of the season.

Osimhen, 24, became Napoli's club-record signing when he arrived at the club for €70million in July 2020, and he has met all expectations.

After scoring 14 goals in 27 league appearances last season, Osimhen has raised the bar, finding the back of the net 12 times with four assists during his 14 league fixtures in 2022-23.

With Napoli nine points clear at the Serie A summit and seeking their first title since the 1989-90 season, a January sale is off the table, but talks are expected to heat up at the end of the campaign.

 

TOP STORY – NAPOLI SLAP €150M PRICE TAG ON PREMIER LEAGUE TARGET OSIMHEN

According to Il Mattino, Napoli believe that if Chelsea new-boy Mykhaylo Mudryk is worth €100m (£88.5m), then Osimhen is worth €150m (£133m).

The Nigerian international's contract ties him to the Italian side until 2025, giving I Partenopei enough leverage to hold firm at what they believe is a fair valuation, but they will be forced to listen to offers at the end of the season if he shows no indication of signing an extension.

The report states Arsenal, United and Newcastle have already made their interest clear, although Arsenal specifically appear to be weighing up a number of expensive options after opting against meeting Mudryk's asking price.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Times is reporting Arsenal have made 24-year-old West Ham midfielder Declan Rice their top priority in the post-season transfer window, and the England international could cost £80m.

– According to The Telegraph, Newcastle have enquired about Chelsea trio Conor Gallagher, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Hakim Ziyech.

Newcastle have also reportedly joined Leicester City in the pursuit of 24-year-old Fiorentina forward Nico Gonzalez, who will cost at least €45m (£40m), per TuttoMercatoWeb.

– 90min is reporting Leeds United have increased their bid for 22-year-old Angers midfielder and Morocco standout Azzedine Ounahi to £22.2m (€25m).

– The agent of 25-year-old Villarreal winger Arnaut Danjuma has reached out to Liverpool, Tottenham and West Ham in an effort to organise a move to the Premier League this month, per Relevo.

Lionel Messi helped Paris Saint-Germain get back to winning ways in Ligue 1 in his first game since winning the World Cup, scoring in a 2-0 victory against Angers on Wednesday.

Hugo Ekitike put PSG ahead inside five minutes at Parc des Princes as the 20-year-old continued his recent form in front of goal, before Messi clinched the points with just under 20 minutes to go with a typically stylish finish as the defending champions extended their lead at the top of the league to six points.

After being beaten 3-1 in their previous league outing by title rivals Lens, Christophe Galtier was able to recall Messi and Neymar back into the team for the visit of bottom-of-the-table Angers.

Abdel Bouhazama did not name star players Azzedine Ounahi and Sofiane Boufal in his starting XI, with both being linked with moves away in the January transfer window, though the latter came off the bench for the final half-hour.

After a minute's applause was observed to pay respect to the late Pele, PSG started with intent as Ekitike swept Nordi Mukiele's low cross from the right past Angers goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni to score in his third-consecutive game.

It should have been 2-0 midway through the first half when Sergio Ramos got on the end of a Messi free-kick, only for Bernardoni to make a smart save from the Spaniard's header, before also denying Messi with a stop to his left just after the half-hour mark.

Angers started the second half well as PSG struggled to put the game to bed, and Abdallah Dipo Sima should have done better when in acres of space on the right of the hosts' penalty area on the hour, but he blazed his shot over the bar.

Messi had a nervous wait to see if he had doubled the lead in the 72nd minute after he ran onto a Mukiele pass to roll the ball into the bottom-left corner of the net, with a VAR review eventually overruling the initial decision of offside, much to the Argentine's delight and PSG's relief.

Chelsea's struggles and riches mean they are going to be busy during the January transfer window.

The Blues, who face Manchester City in the FA Cup on Sunday, are currently 10th in the Premier League as they continue to adjust to head coach Graham Potter.

Chelsea have already signed Benoit Badiashile, David Datro Fofana and Andrey Santos this month, while also being heavily linked with Benfica midfielder Enzo Fernandez, but they may have another World Cup finalist in their sights.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA KEEN ON THURAM IN JANUARY

Chelsea have commenced discussions with Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach about a move for French forward Marcus Thuram, reports Fabrizio Romano.

Thuram's Gladbach contract expires at the end of this season and he is not planning on extending the deal.

Chelsea and Gladbach will hold further talks in the coming days to discuss conditions and a price tag for the 25-year-old in January.


ROUND-UP

– Negotiations between Atletico Madrid and Manchester United on a Joao Felix loan deal are ramping up, with the Spanish club demanding a £9.5million (€10.8m) loan fee and a commitment to buy for £70m (€79.4m), according to the Sunday Mirror.

– FootMercato claims Manchester United are exploring a deal to sign Wout Weghorst on loan. The 30-year-old Dutch striker is currently on loan at Besiktas from Burnley, with an £8.8m (€10m) buy option in the deal.

Tottenham are interested in signing Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford as a long-term replacement for veteran Hugo Lloris, claims the Sunday Mirror.

Napoli have made an opening bid worth €15m plus add-ons for Azzedine Ounahi from French club Angers, claims 90min. Ounahi impressed with Morocco at the World Cup and has also been linked with Leicester City .

– The Sun reports that Crystal Palace will rival Everton in pursuit of Aston Villa striker Danny Ings in January.

Arsenal are monitoring Tammy Abraham's situation at Roma, claims La Repubblica.

– The Athletic reports that ex-Everton and Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has a verbal agreement to take over as Portugal head coach.

Arsenal and Tottenham are reportedly trying to pry centre-back Evan Ndicka away from Eintracht Frankfurt this month.

Ndicka, 23, arrived at the Bundesliga club in 2018, racking up 162 appearances since. He has played every minute of their 15 Bundesliga fixtures this season, helping them to reach the German mid-season break in fourth position.

Standing at an imposing 192cm tall with pace to burn, he fits the bill as a centre-back who can handle the physical demands of the Premier League, and his impressive traits are exactly why Frankfurt have been desperate to retain his services.


TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE RIVALS BATTLE IT OUT FOR EXCITING CENTRE-BACK

Currently in the final year of his five-year contract, this will be the last opportunity Frankfurt get to cash in on their young talent, and they reportedly see the writing on the wall despite their desire to extend Ndicka's stay.

According to German publication FR, Ndicka's agents have been reaching out to Europe's elite clubs including Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Barcelona, but are said to have driven some away with their lucrative contract demands.

Previous reporting from Football London has claimed Arsenal had agreed to personal terms with Ndicka for a free move before Frankfurt's most recent improved contract offer, while Tottenham remain in the hunt.

Interested parties prepared to wait another six months could scoop him up on a free, but a transfer fee in January with so little time remaining on his contract could end up surprisingly affordable.


ROUND-UP

Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea are all closely monitoring 19-year-old PAOK winger Giannis Konstantelias, who is believed to be worth in the range of £10million, per the Evening Standard.

– Foot Mercato is reporting Saudi Arabia side Al-Nassr are working on acquiring Eden Hazard to reunite him with former Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.

– According to Sport, Juventus have enquired about 33-year-old Barcelona left-back Jordi Alba as he enters the final six months of his contract.

Napoli have submitted a €19m offer for 22-year-old Angers and Morocco midfielder Azzedine Ounahi, per Foot Mercato.

– Sport is reporting 28-year-old Barcelona forward Memphis Depay would like to return to former club Manchester United.

Manchester City are reportedly prepared to offer Jack Grealish as well as a hefty transfer fee to Milan for in-demand forward Rafael Leao.

Leao, 23, has scored six goals with five assists in his 14 Serie A fixtures this campaign, following a 2021-22 season where he contributed 11 goals and 10 assists in 34 league appearances.

Meanwhile, 27-year-old Grealish has been trending in the opposite direction, with the most expensive Englishman in football history only playing a complete 90 minutes in two of his 10 Premier League outings this season.

Chelsea have reportedly already seen a £62million (€70m) bid for Leao brushed off by Milan, who have apparently said they will wait for someone to meet his £133m (€150m) release clause, though a new report suggests City could be ready to make their move for the Portugal international.

 

TOP STORY – CITY PREPARED TO OFFER GREALISH IN BID FOR LEAO

While it remains to be seen exactly what price Milan would be happy to part ways with for their young star, City reportedly feel they have an ace up their sleeve in negotiations due to their willingness to send over a replacement player as part of their offer.

According to Calciomercato, City are willing to offer a package of Grealish plus cash to Milan for Leao, and the same outlet reported on December 6 that Milan had interest in Grealish in the event of Leao's departure.

Further reporting from Football Insider has stated City are looking to recoup £60m of their £100m initially spent on Grealish for a potential pursuit of Jude Bellingham.

 

ROUND-UP

– According to L'Equipe, Napoli are the leading candidates to land 22-year-old Angers midfielder Azzedine Ounahi, while the Express adds Leicester City will also mount a charge for the Morocco standout if Youri Tielemans leaves in January.

– Media Foot is reporting Everton are in discussions with Montpellier about a potential £22m (€25m) move for 20-year-old striker Elye Wahi, who has represented France at the under-19 level.

Manchester United are one of the clubs keeping a close eye on 25-year-old Borussia Monchengladbach striker Marcus Thuram after reports the French international will be available for just £10.6m (€12m) in January as he enters the final six months of his contract, per the Daily Mail. 

– Sport Arena is reporting Arsenal have agreed to a five-year contract with 21-year-old Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhaylo Mudryk

– According to Fichajes, Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong has had a change of heart and would now like to join Man Utd at the end of the season.

Bayern Munich are looking at Aston Villa's Emiliano Martinez as the potential solution to their goalkeeper issue, as Manuel Neuer is expected to miss the second-half of the season through his skiing injury.

Martinez, 30, had an interesting journeyman career before arriving with Villa in 2020, having been contracted to Arsenal, but loaned out to Oxford United, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham United, Wolves, Getafe and Reading.

In his first two seasons with Villa, Martinez kept 26 Premier League clean sheets, earning his Argentina debut in June 2021.

His ascension to La Albiceleste's number one saw him earn the 2021 Copa America Golden Glove as the tournament's best goalkeeper, and he followed it up with another Golden Glove after securing the World Cup title in a penalty shoot-out.

Neuer's leg fracture leaves Bayern without their first-choice goalkeeper, and with only a four-point gap atop the Bundesliga, they are reportedly desperate to secure a replacement in January.

 

TOP STORY – ARGENTINA WORLD CUP HERO TARGETED AS BAYERN'S NEUER REPLACEMENT

According to Media Foot, it is "out of the question" for Bayern to leave the January transfer window without a new goalkeeper, and Martinez's World Cup exploits have him at the top of the list.

He remains under contract with Villa until 2027, giving the Premier League side plenty of leverage in negotiations, and after signing him for £17million, will likely have their sights set on a significant profit to part ways with their world-class shot-stopper.

However, he is not the only keeper the German giants are keeping a close eye on from the World Cup, with Sky Sports Germany reporting they also are investigating Croatia's Dominic Livakovic and Morocco's Yassine Bounou.

That report states Bayern will try to tempt 34-year-old Borussia Monchengladbach's Yann Sommer to the club on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season, but that will not address their immediate pressing need.

ROUND-UP

– Sport is reporting Barcelona are in advanced negotiations with Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante on personal terms, as he is able to leave Stamford Bridge on a free transfer after the season.

– Journalist Ekrem Konur claims Sevilla are the latest club to enquire about 22-year-old Angers midfielder Azzedine Ounahi, who impressed for Morocco in Qatar.

– According to GiveMeSport, Chelsea are in the race to land 18-year-old Borussia Dortmund phenom Youssoufa Moukoko when his contract expires at the end of the season, while Si Phillips adds they will also try to sign out-of-contract Manchester United prospect Alejandro Garnacho.

– Sky Sports is reporting Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and multiple Premier League clubs have taken a liking to 27-year-old Celtic right-back Josip Juranovic after his performances at the World Cup for Croatia.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, 20-year-old Italian midfielder Ibrahima Bamba will likely leave Vitoria Guimaraes in January amid interest from Atalanta, Club Brugge and unnamed Premier League sides.

Newcastle United are reportedly looking to add more firepower to their forward line, and have identified Napoli's Khvicha Kvaratskhelia as one of their "main priorities".

Kvaratskhelia, 21, arrived in Napoli in July after a €10million purchase from Georgian side Dinamo Batumi, having previously played with Russia's Rubin Kazan before the invasion of Ukraine allowed foreign players to leave.

The Georgia international with 19 senior caps under his belt has been a revelation for Napoli, starting 11 of the 12 games he has been healthy for, resulting in six goals and seven assists for the Serie A leaders.

He has been just as impressive in the Champions League, collecting both a goal and an assist in back-to-back wins over Ajax, after contributing an assist in a 4-1 demolition of Liverpool.

Just six months after his arrival in Italy, the exciting winger's transfer value has skyrocketed, and Napoli will be faced with a tough decision about whether to cash-in on the player dubbed 'Kvaradona'.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE PLAN MOVE FOR GEORGIAN SENSATION KVARATSKHELIA

According to The Times, Kvaratskhelia has been scouted regularly by Newcastle this season, and they have been so impressed that "he has become one of the club's main priorities for the next two transfer windows".

With Napoli in the hunt for their first Serie A title since the 1989-90 season, it remains to be seen if they would part ways with one of their key contributors, but a bid in excess of €50m could force the Italian side into a serious meeting.

Newcastle are also enjoying their best season in some time, and although they will have their sights set on a Champions League berth, the Magpies will likely persist at the end of the season if a transfer in January is not an option.

ROUND-UP

– Mediafoot is reporting Manchester United are considering a move for 31-year-old Atletico Madrid and France forward Antoine Griezmann, while The Telegraph claims the Red Devils are after 23-year-old PSV and the Netherlands standout Cody Gakpo.

– According to The Times, Wolves are planning a busy transfer window, with Todofichajes reporting they want Spanish international Isco from Sevilla, as well as United right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, per Express and Star.

– Journalist Ekrem Konur believes Everton have entered the bidding war for 22-year-old Ajax midfielder Mohammed Kudus after his excellent World Cup for Ghana.

– Sky Sports is reporting Leicester City, Wolves and West Ham are all showing interest in 22-year-old Morocco midfielder Azzedine Ounahi, who plays for Angers in Ligue 1.

– According to Calciomercato, Paris Saint-Germain are confident they will land Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar on a free transfer at the end of the season. 

Jean-Clair Todibo condemned refereeing in Ligue 1 as "scandalous" after being sent off just nine seconds into Nice's home game against Angers.

The former Barcelona player was red-carded after a clumsy tackle on Abdallah Sima when he was considered the last man by referee Bastien Dechepy.

It was the fastest card – yellow or red – shown in Ligue 1 since Opta started collecting data in the league in the 2006-07 season.

Defender Todibo clearly felt there was cover, with Dante also in close attendance to Sima when the challenge was made.

The 22-year-old reacted on Twitter, writing: "A refereeing decision that shocks me and condemns my team to start the match with a big disadvantage.

"The decisions of the referees at the start of the season are very questionable, even scandalous and I hope that the @LFPfr will do something to remedy it."

It remains to be seen what the Ligue Professionnel de Football makes of that message, and whether the accusation might serve only to compound Todibo's problems.

There was dismay at the red card in the Nice ranks, with captain Dante frustrated to see his team down to 10 men so early.

Nice went on to lose 1-0, with Nabil Bentaleb getting the only goal shortly before half-time. Angers also had a player sent off as Sofiane Boufal saw red in the 62nd minute for a second bookable offence.

Dante told Prime Video: "When you receive a red card after a few seconds of play, of course it gets bizarre.

"It doesn't happen every weekend. It got us in trouble. We were really well prepared to win this match, we wanted to put some intensity into the first quarter of an hour."

Nice made a number of high-profile moves in the transfer window but have made a surprisingly slow start to the Ligue 1 season, winning just two of their opening eight games.

 

Jean-Clair Todibo set an unwanted record on Sunday after being sent off just nine seconds into Nice's Ligue 1 clash with Angers.

The former Barcelona defender was given his marching orders after a clumsy tackle on Abdallah Sima when he was the last man, leading to a swift decision from the referee.

Todibo's dismissal was the fastest card – yellow or red – shown in Ligue 1 since Opta started collecting data in the league in the 2006/07 season.

Nice made a number of high-profile moves in the transfer window but are still waiting on their first Ligue 1 win of the season.

Another Ligue 1 campaign begins on Friday after a big window for French football, the highlight of which was Paris Saint-Germain retaining Kylian Mbappe.

New arrivals in the league include returns for Lyon duo Alexandre Lacazette and Corentin Tolisso, while high-profile departures have seen Aurelien Tchouameni, Sven Botman and Nayef Aguerd depart.

With PSG once again investing heavily in their squad, adding the likes of Vitinha, Hugo Ekitike and Nordi Mukiele, the capital club are widely expected to storm to another title – but can there be an upset?

The verdict, unsurprisingly, is probably not – as Stats Perform AI predicted the outcome of the coming campaign, estimating the likelihood of teams finishing in each position informed by their expected results in each match.

These are calculated using betting odds and Stats Perform's team rankings – based on historical and recent team performances – and, while the title race is not likely to get going, there are some big battles elsewhere in the division.

PSG PARTY ONCE AGAIN

With one of the most expensive squads ever assembled, including the devastating attack of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, PSG are unsurprisingly expected to romp to another Ligue 1 success.

Having won eight of the last nine titles, Stats Perform AI has given PSG a 76.01 per cent chance of retaining their crown.

Marseille, runners-up last season, are seen as the side most capable of mounting a challenge, though their 7.29 per cent chance is slim. Monaco, title winners in 2016-17, are given a 6.55 per cent chance.

Lyon, once the dominant force in French football, have just a 4.29 per cent chance, while Rennes clock in at 3.44 per cent and Lille, the last side to prevent PSG from winning the title having lifted the trophy in 2020-21, have only a 0.71 per cent chance.

The gulf in class within French football is highlighted by the fact that nine teams, almost half of the division, are seen as having no hope in mounting a title challenge.

 

SCRAMBLE FOR EUROPEAN FOOTBALL

Unlike the other top leagues in European football, France has a limited number of places for qualification for UEFA competitions with just two guaranteed Champions League spots, one qualifying spot, one spot in the Europa League group stage and one in the Europa Conference League play-offs.

With PSG expected to surge to the title and take the first of the two group stage spots in the Champions League, with a 90.93 per cent likelihood, the scrap for the other automatic qualification spot could be fierce.

Marseille are seen as the favourites in that battle with a 29.97 per cent chance, with Monaco following suit with a 29.97 per cent chance.

Elsewhere, Lyon have an 18.7 per cent chance, with Rennes at 15.53 per cent, though they may have to settle for a third-place finish or a spot in the Europa League.

In the battle for fifth, and a play-off spot in the Conference League, it's also expected to be tight – with five clubs, as well as those already mentioned above, given at least a five per cent chance of reaching that spot.

Nice, Lens, Lille, Nantes and Strasbourg are all in with an outside shot of gunning for a spot in European competition, which could set up a thrilling battle.

 

REGULATION CHANGES INCREASE RELEGATION FIGHT

With Ligue 1 reducing to 18 teams from the 2023-24 season, the fight to avoid the drop to the second-tier will be fiercer than ever with the bottom four all being relegated – and there will be no play-offs either.

The situation looks bleak for Ajaccio (57.64 per cent chance of relegation), Clermont (57.57), Troyes (56.72) and Lorient (53.92), all of which are seen as more likely to suffer relegation than they are to avoid the drop.

Auxerre (46.58) and Toulouse (34.02) could also find themselves looking over their shoulders during the course of the season, while PSG, Marseille and Monaco are the three sides given no chance leaving the league through the bottom.

Of the promoted trio, it is Toulouse who are given the best chance of maintaining their top-flight status for another season – with their most likely position being 15th, with a 10.59 per cent chance of securing that spot.

Mauricio Pochettino declared himself 'satisfied' with PSG's win over Angers despite victory for Marseille delaying their coronation as Ligue 1 champions.

The Paris club needed to better their title rivals' result on Wednesday to clinch a 10th championship, and held up their end of the bargain as goals from Kylian Mbappe, Sergio Ramos and Marquinhos secured a 3-0 win.

However, Marseille twice overturned Nantes leads in their game to secure three points and take the title race into the weekend.

Not that Pochettino was too disappointed, the Argentine saying: "Winning the championship as soon as possible is the best possible [outcome].

"It's not possible at the moment, but we had a good game and took the three points. That is most important. 

"It's never easy, but I think it's a good performance from us. I am very satisfied with my players and these three points.

"I hope we can do it all together on Saturday at the Parc des Princes."

PSG's win was somewhat soured by the controversial late dismissal of young substitute Edouard Michut following a VAR review.

Replays appeared to show that the 19-year-old had only caught Romain Thomas with a high challenge as a direct result of a foul on him from Enzo Ebosse.

Of the decision, Pochettino added: "Edouard didn't do it on purpose. I do not understand the red card even if the action was of course dangerous. 

"It really wasn't [his fault]. I am very disappointed with this and hope they can review the images and remove the card." 

Paris Saint-Germain earned a comfortable 3-0 win at Angers but were unable to start their Ligue 1 title party after Marseille defeated Nantes.

With their title rivals losing, and Kylian Mbappe and Sergio Ramos having got on the scoresheet, Mauricio Pochettino's men looked to be heading for a 10th championship at half-time.

But, while they extended their lead in the second period thanks to Marquinhos, they were ultimately denied the title thanks to a Marseille comeback. 

Instead, PSG must wait to celebrate an eighth success in 10 seasons, even if victory on that front still looks inevitable.

The visitors were hit with an early blow when Mauro Icardi pulled up in the warm-up, forcing Pochettino to bring Eric Ebimbe into his starting XI.

Angers looked ready to capitalise when Sofiane Boufal tested Keylor Navas from distance before passing a one-on-one chance wide of the post. 

Unfortunately, the former Southampton man lasted just 14 minutes before succumbing to injury, and PSG underlined their threat when Thilo Kehrer and Marquinhos both went close from Angel Di Maria corners.

That pressure ultimately told, with Mbappe making the breakthrough before the half-hour mark courtesy of a swift exchange of passes with Achraf Hakimi and a left-footed piledriver.

That meant PSG moved onto 11 goals scored from outside the box this season, and that Angers had conceded 10 – Ligue 1's best and worst records respectively. 

But the hosts almost had a long-distance goal of their own to treasure soon after, Mohamed-Ali Cho striking the post with a curler. 

Their failure to take that chance was punished before the break, however, Ramos heading home yet another delicious Di Maria cross from the left.

Unbeaten in their last 23 Ligue 1 games when leading at half-time (W22, D1), PSG showed no signs that an unexpected collapse might be on the cards after the restart.

They instead looked likelier to extend their lead, with Hakimi being denied after sneaking in behind early doors, while Mbappe forced a fine save with another powerful left-footer from inside the box soon after.

Hopes of an Angers fight-back were further extinguished when a penalty was overturned after a VAR review showed Kehrer making a clean challenge on Cho in the box. 

That ensured that, despite the loss of substitute Edouard Michu to a late and perhaps unfortunate red card, PSG had little trouble in seeing out a straightforward win that moves them a step closer to the Ligue 1 trophy.

Lionel Messi will be absent when Paris Saint-Germain attempt to wrap up the Ligue 1 title during Wednesday's trip to Angers, Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed.

Messi, who has recorded eight goals and 13 assists in 29 games since moving to the French capital last summer, is receiving treatment for inflammation in his left achilles tendon, and will sit out PSG's potentially decisive match.

Pochettino's men will seal the 10th Ligue 1 title in the club's history by bettering Marseille's result against Nantes, equalling St Etienne as the competition's most successful club.

However, having already lost Neymar to suspension, Pochettino confirmed Messi is among several players who will miss the match, potentially handing an opportunity to some of PSG's younger players.

"Some players like Leo Messi, Marco Verratti and Presnel Kimpembe will be missing tomorrow because they are still undergoing treatment," Pochettino said. "Neymar will be suspended. 

"It will be an opportunity for the players who don't play much to get some game time and it will allow the youngsters to gain experience.

"Players such as Xavi Simons and Edouard Michut, they have been gaining experience. They are the ones who could really play a key role in the club's future."

PSG beat Marseille 2-1 last time out to inch closer to regaining the French crown, and are seeking to confirm top spot by recording a 12th consecutive league win over Angers.

 

Despite boasting a 15-point lead at the Ligue 1 summit with just six games remaining, Pochettino refuted suggestions that PSG's dominance of the competition would mean they struggled to motivate themselves on Wednesday, saying their aim was to seal the title "as soon as possible".

"This match will be important because it could allow us to win a 10th title if we win," he added. "The goal is to continue the momentum from our last few games. We've had a string of successes and we want to continue that momentum.

"For the moment, the title is not secured yet, we are focused on the trip to Angers and on winning. The sooner the better. Personally, it would be an immense joy to win this 10th French championship title for Paris Saint-Germain. 

"Motivation is always there because it is necessary to win. We have to respect football and our opponents until the last day because that is the best way to perform well. We hope to win the title as soon as possible!"

Despite the attacking trio of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, and Messi scoring each of PSG's last 13 league goals, the latter two have been jeered by their own supporters in recent weeks after the team fell to a humiliating Champions League last-16 collapse against Real Madrid.

While Pochettino respected the right of PSG's fans to have an opinion on the state of the team, he emphasised his hope that supporters would come together to celebrate their title when it is confirmed.

"Everyone has the right to have their say," Pochettino added. "[But] I hope that we can celebrate a 10th title in the club's history together, it's important. For the future, I hope there will be a good relationship, it is crucial for any club that aspires to win all the trophies."

Real Madrid are trying to offload a pair of veterans to Tottenham. 

Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale could be on the way out at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

Spurs are reportedly only interested in one of them.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS WEIGH BALE REUNION

Gareth Bale could be headed for a permanent return to Tottenham, El Nacional reports. 

Real Madrid have offered Bale and Eden Hazard to Spurs but head coach Antonio Conte is not interested in his former Chelsea player. 

However, Spurs may pounce for Bale at a reduced price before he is out of contract following the season.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are interested in adding France defender Jules Kounde to replace Harry Maguire, says Todofichajes, which reports Sevilla will demand €80million (£68m) in return. 

Donny van de Beek wants out at United, according to the Metro, and Birmingham Live says Wolves will make a strong push to sign the Dutch midfielder, with Everton and Newcastle United also rumoured suitors.

- Fiorentina are willing to sell Dusan Vlahovic in January if an interested club like Manchester City or Tottenham will pay £70m for the Serbia international, says the Sun. Vlahovic has also been linked with Bayern MunichAtletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter and Arsenal.

Milan have joined Chelsea and Atletico in pursuit of 17-year-old Angers striker Mohamed-Ali Cho, according to L'Equipe. 

Barcelona will extend 17-year-old Spain sensation Gavi's contract for five years, reports Fabrizio Romano. 

Dean Smith's appointment at Norwich City is expected to become official Monday, says The Guardian. 

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