After a disappointing few seasons in LaLiga, Eden Hazard may be heading back to the Premier League next term.

Hazard has made 65 appearances for Real Madrid since arriving ahead of the 2019-20 season, but has not played more than 25 minutes in a league game since a late-January fixture against Elche.

Battling poor form and injury, Real Madrid are reportedly planning to loan the Belgian winger out for next season, and one Premier League club has jumped to the front of the line.

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL HOPE TO LAND HAZARD ON LOAN

If Real Madrid are to loan out Hazard, Foot Mercato is reporting that Arsenal are the team most aggressively seeking his services.

According to the report, Real Madrid's plan is to loan the former Chelsea star for the 2022-23 season, with the goal of increasing his value enough to sell him ahead of the 2023-24 season, when one year remains on his deal.

Arsenal used a similar tactic to land Martin Odegaard last season, securing him on loan from the Meringues in January before signing him with a €35million transfer seven months later.

It is worth noting that the Foot Mercato report also stated that Hazard has no interest in leaving the Spanish side after this season, and may be willing to ride out the rest of his contract.

 

ROUND-UP

Newcastle United are set to challenge Manchester United for the signature of Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips, according to i News.

Newcastle and Borussia Dortmund are reportedly interested in Real Sociedad star Mikel Merino, per Fichajes.

– El Nacional is reporting that Barcelona believe Ousmane Dembele will leave the club and head to Paris Saint-Germain if the French giants do not retain Kylian Mbappe.

– According to ESPN's report, Erling Haaland fears Manchester United would not be able to match his competitive ambitions on the pitch.

– Benfica's Darwin Nunez is signing with a new agent as Arsenal and Manchester United circle the striker who has five goals in nine Champions League games this campaign, per Metro.

Xavi called on Barcelona fans to make Camp Nou "a pressure cooker" after they drew 1-1 against Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final.

Ansgar Knauff gave Eintracht the lead with a fine finish early in the second half at a raucous Deutsche Bank Park on Thursday, but Ferran Torres equalised after a brilliant exchange with Frenkie de Jong. 

The Bundesliga side saw Tuta sent off with just over 10 minutes remaining following a second bookable offence, but Barca were unable to pinch a winner in the closing stages. 

However, by avoiding defeat their unbeaten run stretched to 14 games – their best streak since January-May 2019 under Ernesto Valverde. 

Barca had almost two-thirds of the possession but mustered fewer than half the attempts on goal of Eintracht, who were a persistent threat on the counter-attack. 

Xavi felt his team were hindered by the state of the pitch and hopes a fiery atmosphere in Catalonia in next Thursday's second leg can help the Blaugrana advance to the semi-finals. 

"They were a very physical opponent. They got forward like hell in transitions. We didn't have the ball circulation and the state of the pitch didn't help us," Xavi told Movistar. 

"We leave quite satisfied and Camp Nou will have to be a pressure cooker, like it was in their stadium. 

"Normally the team that's in control creates more, but we were not able to stop their devilish counter-attacks. We had already been warned – they eliminated a team like [Real] Betis [in the last 16]." 

Gerard Pique hobbled off in the first half with an apparent groin injury but Xavi was unable to provide a meaningful update on the centre-back. 

Sergio Busquets, who would have given a penalty away for a tackle on Rafael Borre had it not been for VAR, acknowledged Barca will need to be better in the second leg. 

"The goal gives us a lot of life because we had come to win but it was very difficult," said Busquets. 

"There are things to improve. We will do better in the second leg with our fans and a pitch that will surely be better and faster. 

"Barca are always a candidate to win everything. We had a period that wasn't the best but we're doing things well. 

"We respect all the teams. Anything can happen and we will try to win." 

Barca have progressed in three of the five knockout rounds in Europe's secondary competition after drawing the first leg away from home. They were eliminated in the last such instance by Bayern Munich in the 1995-96 season. 

Ferran Torres rescued a 1-1 draw for Barcelona in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final against Eintracht Frankfurt, who finished with 10 men.

After a goalless first half at Deutsche Bank Park on Thursday, Ansgar Knauff sent the home fans into raptures with a wonderful finish from 20 yards out. 

Xavi sent Frenkie de Jong and Ousmane Dembele on in response and the pair started a lovely move that ended with Torres slotting an equaliser into the bottom-left corner. 

And although Tuta was shown a second yellow card with just over 10 minutes remaining, Barca were unable to complete a dramatic late turnaround to snatch the victory.

Kevin Trapp's fingertip save kept Torres at bay in the third minute and Djibril Sow failed to hit the target from a great opening at the other end. 

Barca dominated possession but Trapp denied Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and they lost Gerard Pique to an apparent groin injury – Clement Lenglet replacing him in the 23rd minute. 

Eintracht were awarded a penalty shortly before half-time but upon reviewing video footage, referee Srdjan Jovanovic deemed Sergio Busquets had won the ball in his challenge on Rafael Borre. 

The hosts took the lead just three minutes after the restart, though, as Knauff curled a great strike into the top-right corner from the edge of the box following a corner. 

Jesper Lindstrom missed a brilliant chance to double Eintracht's lead 90 seconds later and it proved costly when De Jong – who had only been on the pitch for four minutes – teed up Torres to finish off a slick move. 

Tuta was shown a yellow card for a lunge on Pedri in the 78th minute but Barca were unable to make their numerical advantage count in the closing stages. 

What does it mean? Eintracht still in with a shout 

After overcoming Inter en route to the semi-finals in 2018-19, knocking out another of Europe's most prestigious clubs remains a distinct possibility for Eintracht this season. 

Although they were unable to become the first German team other than Bayern Munich to beat Barca in a European game since Bayer Leverkusen in September 2001 – the Blaugrana are now undefeated in 22 such matches – they will still fancy their chances at Camp Nou. 

Barca struggle to weather Lindstrom 

He may have missed a great chance early in the second half, but Lindstrom was a real thorn in the side of Barca with his electric pace. He supplied four key passes – more than any other player on the pitch – before being replaced in the 73rd minute. 

Aubameyang comes up short 

He has made a strong start to life at Barca but Aubameyang was far from his best in Germany. He only had one attempt on goal across the 90 minutes and completed fewer than half of his passes. 

What's next? 

Barca travel to Levante in LaLiga on Sunday before hosting the second leg next week, while Eintracht are in Bundesliga action at home to Freiburg. 

Barcelona have asserted they will not break the bank in pursuit of Erling Haaland, but they remain keen on a striker to help Xavi's rebuild.

Robert Lewandowski is seen as a potential option if does not extend his deal at Bayern Munich.

According to reports, Lewandowski is weighing up his options, as Barcelona prepare themselves for a possible move.

 

TOP STORY – DEST TO BE USED AS MAKEWEIGHT?

Sergino Dest will be added as a sweetener to get a potential deal for Bayern's Lewandowski to Barcelona over the line, Sport reports.

Bayern already made a transfer request during the previous off-season's transfer window for the 21-year-old United States international, who has struggled for consistent minutes since Xavi took over as coach in November.

While a combination of Ronald Araujo, Dani Alves and Oscar Mingueza have all filled in at right back this season, Dest has been increasingly viewed as expendable under Xavi's tenure.

Lewandowski's contract runs out in 2023, but a move at the end of this season is still on the cards. Barca could use Dest to partly subsidise what is sure to be a huge asking price.

 

ROUND-UP

– The agent of Chelsea and Germany forward Timo Werner has been in Italy meeting with representatives from MilanJuventus and Atalanta, according to Corriere dello Sport.

– Ajax and Netherlands midfielder Ryan Gravenberch has agreed personal terms with Bayern Munich, per Bild.

– The Mirror is reporting senior figures at Inter are now more open to the idea of a return for Chelsea and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku.

– Villarreal and Netherlands winger Arnaut Danjuma is viewed by Liverpool as a potential replacement for Sadio Mane, Goal has reported, but the Reds are not expected to make a bid until 2023.

Xavi has reiterated his admiration for Ousmane Dembele's professionalism as the Barcelona boss confirmed negotiations over a new contract for the winger were under way.

Dembele was told publicly to leave Barca by the club during the January transfer window, after contract talks broke down.

The France international's current deal runs out at the end of the season, meaning he will be able to leave Camp Nou on a free transfer.

However, with no move having materialised before the end of January, Dembele has been reintegrated into Xavi's squad and seems to have rediscovered his form.

Dembele has started Barca's last four LaLiga matches, providing five assists across those appearances.

The 24-year-old also scored and teed up two other goals as a substitute in a 4-0 win over Athletic Bilbao at the end of February.

On Tuesday, with Barca's squad given a day off ahead of travelling to Germany for the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final against Eintracht Frankfurt, Dembele was spotted going to the club's training ground, with reports stating that he did extra physical work.

"He's an example in the way he trains, the way he plays, his attitude and commitment," Xavi told a news conference when asked about Dembele. 

"I don't know how he was before but I've got no complaints. I see a very happy, very motivated player and with his winning attitude.

"He's happy and comfortable here and so that's not a surprise that he trained on his day off. He's a great professional, I said that when he wasn't playing as well."

Dembele created seven chances in Barca's win over Sevilla on Sunday, also providing the pass for Pedri's goal in a 1-0 victory.

Earlier this week, Barca executive Mateu Alemany reportedly met with Dembele's agent to restart negotiations over a new deal, and this speculation was confirmed by Xavi.

"It is a negotiation. We are also in talks with Ronald [Araujo], Gavi, Sergi Roberto, it is a process," he said.

"The club knows my priorities and we are working. Hopefully Dembele can stay, with work he can be the best in his position.

"The club is working hard and I hope they decide to stay. Gavi, Araujo, Dembele... if we can have them next year we'll be a better team and squad."

Xavi was equally as effusive in his praise for Araujo, who he revealed has agreed to fresh terms.

"For us he is a guarantee and Barcelona have a central defender for ten years or more," Xavi said.

"There are few central defenders in the world like him. He has been the key in the negotiation. He is very humble, direct, he is a luxury.

"I am delighted. As a person he is a hard worker. Barcelona fans can be proud that he has decided to stay at Barcelona."

Pedri is among the best players in world football, so says his Barcelona club-mate Ferran Torres.

Barca midfielder Pedri is enjoying another fine season after his breakout campaign at Camp Nou in 2020-21.

Though the early part of his season was hindered by injury, Pedri has emerged as a crucial figure as Xavi has rejuvenated Barca since taking over from Ronald Koeman.

Having missed the final three months of 2021, Pedri's 2022 has been brilliant so far, and he scored an exquisite goal against Sevilla in a 1-0 LaLiga win on Sunday.

The 19-year-old Spain international also netted against Galatasaray to help Barca progress to the Europa League quarter-finals, with Eintracht Frankfurt next up.

Speaking ahead of Thursday's clash in Germany, Torres said that is a "luxury" to play alongside such a talent.

"It doesn't surprise us," Torres told a news conference when asked about Pedri's form.

"Seeing him every day is a luxury, he has great quality and how he's handling it, with humility."

Torres also spoke glowingly of coach Xavi, whose team are unbeaten in 13 games in all competitions and are now up to second in LaLiga.

"Xavi has transmitted his confidence to me from the first day. I'm in good shape and helping the team," the former Manchester City forward added.

Barca are facing Frankurt for the first time in their history. The Bundesliga club have never lost at home in major European competition in the quarter-finals and beyond (P16 W12 D4 L0) – this is the most such games any side has ever played in major European competition without being defeated.

And Torres insisted overconfidence will be no issue.

"The coach makes it clear to us that we have to go game by game because if you lose tomorrow, nobody remembers the dynamic. Humility, work and desire to achieve victory," he said.

"It is the first step to fight for that Europa League and we will do everything on our part to achieve it."

Xavi's rebuild at Barcelona has had to take place with tighter purse strings than you might usually expect.

The club that reportedly spent a combined €275million on Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho in the same season are now on the hunt for a new winger, and Raphinha seemingly fits the criteria.

Whether they can convince Leeds to sell for a price that suits all parties will apparently be made clear in the next few weeks.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA EYE RAPHINHA

Talks have commenced for Raphinha's potential move from Leeds United to Barcelona, per Nicolo Schira.

Raphinha's agent, former Barcelona and Chelsea star Deco, has been in contact with the Catalan giants since early March, but the Brazilian winger's €70m release clause has been a roadblock for the cash-strapped club.

The Blaugrana remain the preferred destination for the 25-year-old, who has tallied nine goals and three assists in 28 appearances for embattled Leeds.

It is reported Barcelona will try to come up with an acceptable package for the Premier League club in the coming weeks.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Manchester Evening News is reporting Paris Saint-Germain have made an offer to Manchester United's Paul Pogba, as he enters the final months of his contract.

– Tottenham and England striker Harry Kane would consider an offer from Manchester United before weighing up his long-term future, according to The Athletic.

Manchester City are hopeful of agreeing a new contract with 21-year-old England midfielder Phil Foden, per 90min.

– Despite interest from Liverpool and Manchester United, Ronald Araujo's agent has disclosed to ESPN that a new long-term deal with Barcelona is imminent.

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel is not concerned about Andreas Christensen's commitment to the cause at Stamford Bridge.

Centre-back Christensen was a crucial part of Chelsea's success under Tuchel last season.

However, the Denmark international is out of contract at the end of this season and so far no extension has been agreed.

According to reports, a move to Barcelona is already lined up, with Christensen thought to be one of the players Joan Laporta referred to when he confirmed that the Catalan giants had secured the signings of two out-of-contract players for next season.

Christensen last featured against Lille on March 16, having been left out for what Tuchel explained as tactical reasons on Saturday, when Chelsea were thrashed 4-1 by Brentford.

The 25-year-old's future was brought up in Tuchel's news conference ahead of Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final tie against Real Madrid, with the issue of a potential lack of commitment mooted.

"No. No concerns," Tuchel replied. "Maybe it is a bit more challenging for him than normal, in a moment where everything is clear or you're fully committed to the club you play for, which is us and Chelsea.

"Maybe he cleared his future, I don't know it yet, but for me it was very clear when I started, and the bottom line in conversations I had with him was that as long as you're my player I expect you to be 100 per cent committed and I will not accept anything less.

"I will not start digging into how committed is he now, this only leads to distraction. This is what I demand from him. That he was out on Saturday was only a tactical choice to play with a back four.

"He is our player and we want to have the most of him. He needs to be focused, he needs to be determined, and this is what we expect from him. And I think it is what we can expect from him."

Christensen has featured 26 times in all competitions for Chelsea this term, starting seven games out of the eight the Blues have played in the Champions League.

While it seems likely this season will be Christensen's last at Chelsea, Tuchel has no ill feelings towards him.

The German does, however, believe that Christensen should remember the opportunities he has had to develop at Chelsea.

"The situation of the club was pretty sure. I think I gave you an honest statement that he is in exactly the right place for his journey," Tuchel said.

"That he could continue with this club and become the defender that he can be, the real personality and the playing minutes figure that he wants to be.

"In my opinion, he shouldn't forget where he comes from, where his education comes from, where is home and that's just my opinion. He needs that kind of environment to bring the best out of him.

"That's just my opinion and I gave it some weeks ago but the talks in autumn and the summer were constant talks. We are in exchange with our players of course. I hope that my talks didn't make him want to leave but I don't think so.

"You cannot take these things personally. If he decides to take his career elsewhere, it is his decision. We understand it, maybe we don't need to agree. We will not take it personally.

"As long as he is our player, he is our player and I will not stop demanding from him. He needs to be fully, fully committed, this is what we expect and have experienced. You will have to ask him about his decision and what the reasons are."

James Maddison's importance to Leicester City is of little debate, but the Foxes are considering selling the playmaker.

Though the 25-year-old's sole senior England cap came in 2019, he has provided 13 goals and eight assists in 41 appearances across all competitions this season.

However, Maddison's sale might be required to facilitate the Foxes strengthening in other areas.

 

TOP STORY – MADDISON SALE TO FUND LEICESTER REVAMP

Leicester are weighing up the prospect of Maddison's sale in order to make new signings, the Daily Mail has reported.

Manager Brendan Rodgers wants three new additions to propel the Foxes up the Premier League following a season in which they have plateaued.

Leicester will reportedly back Rodgers, but the impact of coronavirus on their finances would likely mean outgoing as well as incoming transfers, and Maddison holds one of the higher market values at the club.

The 25-year-old's £50million price tag would provide serious flexibility in the transfer market, while the club also has to make decisions on Caglar Soyuncu and Youri Tielemans.

ROUND-UP

–  Barcelona want to confirm a contract extension for Ronald Araujo , who has received an offer from Manchester United, according to Sport, but the 23-year-old has viewed this club's pursuit of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen with caution.

–  Arsenal and Tottenham are keen to sign Lautaro Martinez , but Inter will only sell if they meet a transfer demand in excess of €80million (£67.3m), per Calciomercato.

– The Sun is reporting Newcastle are preparing a £20million offer for Brighton and Hove Albion goalkeeper Robert Sanchez, while also showing interest in Watford's Ismaila Sarr.

–  Manchester United target Manuel Akanji wants to leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season and is considering a move to the Premier League, according to Sport1.

Manchester United and Barcelona sent messages of support to Louis van Gaal after the Netherlands coach revealed he is fighting prostate cancer.

Dutch veteran Van Gaal is a former boss at Old Trafford and Camp Nou, and both clubs wished him well after Sunday's announcement.

It was revealed by Van Gaal on Dutch TV show Humberto that he has undergone 25 rounds of radiation treatment.

The 70-year-old has continued to work and did not tell his players of his condition when the Netherlands squad got together in March for friendlies against Denmark and Germany.

Van Gaal had two spells as Barcelona head coach and won LaLiga titles in 1998 and 1999, while he guided United to the FA Cup in 2016 at the end of a two-year stint in England.

Barcelona said: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to former Barca manager Louis van Gaal, who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Stay strong, Louis, and get well soon."

United sent their best wishes, stating: "Everybody at Manchester United is fully behind our former manager, Louis van Gaal, in his battle against cancer. Sending you strength and courage, Louis "

Former England striker Gary Lineker, who played for Barcelona in the 1980s, wrote on Twitter: "Sending best wishes and hopes for a full recovery to Louis Van Gaal, who announced on Dutch television tonight that he's battling prostate cancer."

Van Gaal, a Champions League winner with Ajax in 1995, is due to lead the Netherlands at the World Cup later this year.

He took charge of the national team for a third time after coming out of retirement last August.

Xavi promised Barcelona will "keep fighting" until it is mathematically impossible to win the LaLiga title after moving into second place on Sunday.

A hard-fought 1-0 win against Sevilla at Camp Nou came thanks to a well-taken Pedri goal, and it saw Barca leapfrog their opponents and Atletico Madrid in the table.

They remain 12 points adrift of leaders Real Madrid, but Barca ended Sevilla's 15-game unbeaten run in the league, and are now undefeated in 14 LaLiga games themselves.

Speaking after the victory, Xavi was upbeat despite the big gap between his team and Madrid, who Barcelona thrashed 4-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu in their last game away from home.

"I am very positive, I believe in work, effort, sacrifice and collective work," Xavi told reporters. "We are very good. We are supportive, we all work, we run. With this base, the results should come.

"This is the best moment of the season. We have dominated a great opponent, with the best defence in LaLiga. [Sevilla] are a super team, and [Julen] Lopetegui is a magnificent coach."

Barca have now kept a clean sheet in three consecutive league games at Camp Nou for the first time since a run of four between February and June in 2020.

Xavi said his team did not think about "sending a message", but he was pleased with the efforts of the fans and insisted the players will try to chase down Madrid.

"We didn't send a message to anyone," he added. "We sent it to ourselves. We won and enjoyed ourselves.

"The atmosphere was extraordinary. And in LaLiga, as long as the numbers don't say otherwise, we'll keep fighting."

The Blaugrana head coach also had words of praise for the match-winner, suggesting that teenager Pedri "has no comparison".

"He is a super player," said an enthused Xavi. "He has scored an extraordinary goal. He makes a difference. It is a spectacle to watch him play, and he is only 19 years old.

"It does not surprise me. He has no comparison. I encourage him to shoot, but he is a passer and he has in mind the last pass, the decisive one. But he doesn't realise that he has to try [to shoot]. Today he scored a great goal."

Pedri was pleased with that strike and is enjoying playing in an emerging Barca side under Xavi. The teenager has scored two goals in his last seven LaLiga games, as many as in his previous 34 appearance in the competition. This was also his first goal from outside the box for the Catalan giants.

"[The goal was] similar to the one in Turkey [against Galatasaray in the Europa League]," Pedri told reporters after the game.

"We press better [under Xavi], more calm, and we have a lot of firepower with the [January] signings.

"We know that it is difficult [to catch Madrid], but we are Barca, and we have to fight to be first."

Louis van Gaal has announced he is receiving treatment for prostate cancer.

Speaking on Dutch TV show Humberto, the Netherlands head coach said he had been battling the disease for some time and has undergone 25 rounds of radiation treatment.

Van Gaal, 70, oversaw two international friendlies with the Netherlands last month, with his team beating Denmark 4-2 and drawing 1-1 with Germany.

The former Manchester United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Ajax boss said he kept his diagnosis hidden from his players, and revealed he was snuck into hospital to undergo private treatment during the international break.

Van Gaal told presenter Humberto Tan he had wanted his players, who have qualified for the World Cup, to stay focused on their task in hand.

"You don't die from prostate cancer, at least not in 90 per cent of the cases," he said.

"It is usually other underlying diseases that kill you. But I had a pretty aggressive form, got irradiated 25 times. Then you have a lot of management to do in order to go through life.

"I did have preferential treatment in the hospital. I was allowed in through the back door when I went to an appointment and was immediately pushed into another room. I have been treated wonderfully.

"You will of course tell your friends and relatives about it. The fact that nothing has come out yet also says something about my environment. That's great."

Barcelona moved up to second in LaLiga as Pedri's strike secured a 1-0 win against Sevilla at Camp Nou on Sunday.

The goal from Pedri was a well-taken effort with just under 20 minutes to go and proved enough to seal the points for Xavi's side.

Sevilla defended well for large parts but offered little going the other way as Julen Lopetegui saw his team slip to fourth place.

The result also means Real Madrid end the weekend with a 12-point lead at the top of the table after their win at Celta Vigo on Saturday.

Barca started the stronger of the two sides, with Ferran Torres and Frenkie de Jong going close in the opening minutes, but the first save of merit did not arrive until first-half stoppage time when Yassine Bounou palmed away an effort from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after a neat ball from Ousmane Dembele.

Sevilla showed more intent in the second half and had their first shot on target when Erik Lamela was unable to beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The hosts did not have a shot in the second period until just after the hour, with Torres forcing Bounou to tip over from a Dembele pull-back, while Gerard Pique struck the crossbar with a header from a corner soon after.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 72nd minute when Dembele set up Pedri on the edge of the box, with the teenager delightfully working the ball onto his right foot before drilling a shot past the despairing dive of Bounou.

Vice-president Juli Guiu says Barcelona's historic sponsorship deal with Spotify is "one of the best in the world" after it was given the green light on Sunday.

Barca's extraordinary assembly voted 89 per cent in favour of a hugely lucrative agreement with the music audio streaming giant.

The Catalan giants have sold the naming rights for Camp Nou for the next 12 years – four of those while the stadium is renovated and eight after the work has been completed.

One of the most iconic sporting venues in the world will be known as Spotify Camp Nou, while the Swedish company's name will appear on the front of both men's and women's team shirts, beginning in 2022-23 and for the following four seasons.

Spanish media have reported that the deal will earn Barca in excess of €400million, a much-needed injection of cash for a club who have got into huge financial trouble.

Guiu said: "It is the best sponsorship agreement in the history of Barcelona's shirt [sponsorships] and one of the best in the world in regards to shirts and the stadium."

News that the deal had been sanctioned was music to the ears of Blaugrana president Joan Laporta 

"It's a historical agreement because it's the best ever sponsorship agreement for Barca and it's a strategic alliance between Barca and Spotify," he said.

"We are going to project our club to the world as a global brand."

He added: "It is a modern, young brand. It has a present and a future. It was the option that gave the most strength at this time [for Barcelona] to continue being a global leader."

Chelsea's midfield targets in the upcoming transfer window have left a potential opening for Real Madrid in pursuit of N'Golo Kante.

The France international reportedly knocked back a move to Paris Saint-Germain in the January window, but midfield rejuvenation is a priority for Madrid.

While Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos have been mainstays in the middle at the Santiago Bernabeu, Kante would bring new energy to the Spanish giants.

TOP STORY – KANTE LINED UP AS REAL MADRID SOLUTION

The transfer market domino effect could lead Kante to Madrid, AS has reported.

While both Madrid and Chelsea are in the race to sign Aurelien Tchouameni, the Blues also have an interest in Declan Rice, which could open up the possibility of Kante leaving.

The 31-year-old is coming into the final year of his contract, leaving Madrid with potential leverage to force Chelsea's hand.

While Kante has seen extensive time on the sidelines this season, missing game time through a combination of COVID-19, groin and knee troubles, he could be Madrid's top target if they fail to land Tchouameni.

ROUND-UP

– Barcelona are keen to sign 30-year-old Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season, Sport reports.

– Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is confident the club will be able to keep Antonio Rudiger alongside Cesar Azpilicueta, who triggered a contract extension, per Goal.

– Bild is reporting Bayern Munich have commenced talks over a new deal for Thomas Muller, with his contract expiring at the end of next season.

– Erik ten Hag is the favourite to become the new Manchester United manager, with the Ajax coach seeing a move to the Premier League as a progression in his career, according to Sport1.

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