News of Robert Lewandowski being ruled out for a month on Tuesday left many feeling the pendulum might have swung in RB Leipzig's favour in the Bundesliga title race.

Enjoying another phenomenal season, the Poland striker has been irresistible for reigning champions Bayern and had come to within touching distance of history.

With 35 league goals in just 25 matches, Lewandowski was just five strikes from equalling Gerd Muller's all-time single-season record – no one has matched that haul since the Bayern and West Germany great achieved it in 1971-72.

Although already seemingly certain to be regarded as a Bundesliga icon long after he hangs up his boots, eclipsing such a feat while well into his thirties would have surely elevated his legend to a whole new level in German football history.

Who knows, he may yet reach it this term. Assuming he is out for exactly four weeks, the time period Bayern themselves specified, netting another six in Bayern's final three league games is by no means beyond Lewandowski given the rate he had been scoring at.

But without suffering his knee injury against Andorra, he would have had eight league matches to reach that figure, while his absence will also surely impact on the collective for Bayern.

Hansi Flick's men are top but only have a four-point cushion ahead of RB Leipzig, whom they will hosted by on Saturday in a game that could have decisive ramifications on the title race.

But Leipzig cannot fall into the trap of taking the absence of Lewandowski – whose xG overperformance of 8.8 for non-penalty goals (29 scored, 20.2 xG) is unmatched across Europe's top five leagues – for granted.

 

"Basically, Bayern still has a lot of good players even if Robert Lewandowski will be missing the game," Leipzig sporting director Markus Krosche told Stats Perform News. "They can replace him.

"Of course, he is a very important player for them after having scored 35 goals, but the squad is good enough to replace him. That's still not our focus.

"We have to focus on ourselves and what happens on the pitch because that's what counts for us. If we push ourselves to the limit, then we have a great possibility to beat them. It doesn't matter if they play with or without Lewandowski."

Victory for Bayern in Leipzig will see them take a huge step towards a ninth successive Bundesliga title and the omens aren't great for Julian Nagelsmann's side, having won just once in 11 competitive meetings with Bayern.

But Die Roten Bullen head into the weekend unbeaten in eight league games, a run that's seen them amass 22 from a possible 24 points and subsequently claw themselves back to within just a few points of Bayern.

"I am pretty proud," Krosche replied when asked how if felt to be Bayern's main rival in 2020-21. "But not only because we are second in the league and their closest rival, but also the way we have been playing in the last few months makes me proud.

"The boys did a great job and have developed well. The way we play is one of the best styles in the Bundesliga, and it is because of our playing style that we could achieve these results. I am proud about the development of the boys.

"We need to keep doing the same things just like in the last few weeks and months. We need to show this football on the pitch. Of course, we need to push ourselves to the limit against Bayern, but we have a lot of self-confidence.

"Our playing style is really good and the boys are convinced of our idea of how to play. So, we'll try to reach our maximum and then we have a good chance to beat them."

 

Stopping Bayern as an attacking threat will be half the battle on Saturday, as Die Roten are averaging three goals every game in the Bundesliga and haven't fired blanks in any of their previous 61 matches across all competitions, equalling a club record. Coincidentally, Leipzig were the last team to shut them out in February last year.

Despite such a remarkable run, Bayern have not been immune to criticism and the fact they aren't yet cruising at the top has led to suggestions of the champions being a shadow of their former selves, and losing Lewandowski for a month won't help.

But Krosche is adamant talk of a Bayern with "weaknesses" has been over the top, instead surmising the chasing pack has improved, with Leipzig boasting the best defence in the league (21 conceded). He said: "Bayern have not played a bad season. People say that they have some weaknesses this season but that's not the case.

"I think it's basically the case that we are doing very well. We have a very good balance between offence and defence. That's what makes us strong this season, and that's the reason why we are so close to Bayern right now.

 

"What will be decisive on Saturday is how we can find the balance. This is our plan and we'll try to do it. I don't want to reduce it to 'Bayern are having weaknesses' but rather say that we are consistent this year and that we have a good opportunity to move even closer when we beat them."

Beyond the potential impact on the title race, Saturday will be a particularly intriguing contest for Dayot Upamecano, who has already agreed to join Bayern at the end of the season. Krosche hopes he can succeed in Munich but was non-committal on projecting the Frenchman's future at the Allianz Arena.

"Upa is a player that has everything you need. He is a young guy who already has a lot of international experience," he continued. "As I said, he's got everything. He is an important player for us. He has a bright future ahead.

"I don't know what will happen at Bayern next season. He has a lot of potential for further development, but we will see. We are happy that he is still with us and we hope that we can be successful this season with him. Then we will see how he performs at Bayern."

One thing's for certain, Upamecano will be relieved to know the next time he has to come up against Lewandowski will only be a training session.

Dayot Upamecano will be a Bayern Munich player in 2021-22, meaning Liverpool and Chelsea must go back to the drawing board.

The Premier League rivals had each been linked with a move for the RB Leipzig centre-back as they look to add to their options at heart of defence.

Now they each must look to different targets come the end of the season, with injuries and poor play at the back having derailed the Reds' hopes of winning a second successive league title.

But which centre-backs could be part of Liverpool and Chelsea's plans to pose a more serious challenge to Manchester City next season?

Here we look at four players who could be playing their football at Liverpool or Stamford Bridge next season.

Bremer

The Torino defender is reported to be Liverpool's top close-season target after an impressive season in Serie A.

His 75 clearances are the second-most in the Italian top flight among defenders, while Bremer has also excelled at making recoveries.

Indeed, he has tallied 114, putting him 11th among defenders to have played at least 10 league games. Only four defenders have won more aerial duels than Bremer's 47.

David Alaba

Chelsea have been linked with the man Upamecano is seemingly set to replace, though Alaba’s wage structure may reportedly be a sticking point for the Blues.

Alaba's versatility to play across the back four and in midfield would certainly appeal to Chelsea and former Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel.

The Austria international has consistently demonstrated his prowess in attack as well as at the back.

He has created at least 17 chances in every season since 2010-11 and has crafted 10 in 19 league appearances this season.

Ibrahima Konate

Could Leipzig be raided again? Both Chelsea and Liverpool have been linked with Konate, the France Under-21 international signed from Sochaux in 2017.

Injuries have been a problem for Konate, who has played only 15 league games since the start of last season.

However, when he has played extensively, he has shown his quality. 

Konate featured 28 times in the Bundesliga in 2018-19 and was sixth in the league with 100 aerial duels won, contributing to 12 clean sheets, a tally only bettered by two players – his Leipzig team-mates Marcel Halstenberg (15) and Willi Orban (13).

Jules Kounde

Liverpool are thought to be keen on Kounde, but they will likely face competition from across Europe for the Sevilla defender's services.

Kounde has emerged as one of the finest young defenders in European football is again excelling this season.

With 106 recoveries in 2020-21, Kounde – who has also previously been linked with Barcelona and Manchester City – has proven a reliable presence in the heart of defence, while he can also start attacks.

His 136 successful passes into the final third are more than Barca's Clement Lenglet (132) and Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos (128).

Ramos (84.77) and Lenglet (80.49) have a higher accuracy percentage on those passes than Kounde's 76.84, but at just 22 he has the time and the talent to develop into one of the world's top centre-backs.

Hansi Flick welcomed the signing of Dayot Upamecano but said "our task is to perform right now" as Bayern Munich prepare to return to Bundesliga action against Arminia Bielefeld.

On Sunday, Bayern announced that they have triggered a €42.5million release clause to land defender Upamecano from domestic rivals RB Leipzig.

The in-demand France international will join the newly-crowned FIFA Club World Cup champions on July 1 after agreeing terms on a five-year deal.

Flick is delighted to have beaten off competition to secure the services of the 22-year-old centre-back, who was linked with the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool

The Bayern head coach's focus for now is ensuring Bayern extend a seven-match winning streak by beating Bielefeld at Allianz Arena on Monday, when a victory would put the leaders seven points clear of Leipzig.

Flick said: "I'm pleased we've managed to sign Dayot. But our task is to perform right now, and the same goes for Dayot at Leipzig. But that's how I've got to know him."

Leipzig chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff expressed his disappointment that Upamecano will be departing, but knew his exit was inevitable.

He told the club's official website: "Of course, we would have liked to keep Dayot Upamecano at RB Leipzig.

"However, Dayot indicated to us very fairly and in good time that he would like a new challenge this summer and take the next step. The talks with Dayot and his agent as well as with FC Bayern were transparent and constructive at all times.

"It was well-known that Dayot's contract contained a buy-out clause. Our task was therefore to prepare for the situation that he would one day leave us, and we've done our homework in that regard.

"Dayot has shown outstanding development during his time in Leipzig, which is exemplary for our philosophy of finding young talents and consistently bringing them to the top level.

"Dayot has been and remains an important factor in our success and FC Bayern can look forward to an outstanding footballer and great person. We are now looking to the tasks ahead and want to give Liverpool a great fight on Tuesday in the Champions League last 16."

Flick expects to be without Leon Goretzka (calf) when the champions face Bielefeld, while Thomas Muller and Javi Martinez will be monitored.

Bayern Munich have confirmed the signing of Dayot Upamecano from RB Leipzig.

Upamecano, 22, had long been linked with a move away from Leipzig after developing into one of Europe's most-promising centre-backs.

While Liverpool and Chelsea were both thought to have designs on purchasing the France international, Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic signalled his imminent capture on Friday.

Salihamidzic claimed Bayern had committed to paying Upamecano's €42.5million release clause, with the defender agreeing a five-year contract.

Bayern have now made that official with a club statement.

It read: "Dayot Upamecano (22, RB Leipzig) will play for FC Bayern Munich from July 1, 2021.

"The defensive player and the record German champions agreed on a five-year collaboration until June 30, 2026."

Salihamidzic added: "We are happy that we were able to win Dayot Upamecano for FC Bayern. Dayot will be a very important building block for our team in the coming years, we are convinced of that."

The transfer will see Bayern once again strengthen themselves while seemingly weakening a direct domestic rival.

Nevertheless, Leipzig have been expecting Upamecano's departure for a while and are preparing for life without him.

They secured a deal last year for highly rated Croatia Under-21 international Josko Gvardiol, who returned to former club Dinamo Zagreb on loan for the 2020-21 season.

Leipzig are also reportedly close to agreeing a deal for Strasbourg defender Mohamed Simakan in a deal that is said to be worth up to €18m.

Bayern Munich have confirmed the signing of Dayot Upamecano from RB Leipzig.

Dayot Upamecano will join Bayern Munich from RB Leipzig next season having agreed a five-year contract, the German champions' sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has confirmed.

Upamecano has long been linked with a move away from Leipzig after emerging as one of Europe's most highly-rated defenders.

In recent weeks the speculation had ramped up, with Liverpool, Chelsea and Bayern said to be the three clubs in the hunt for him.

Upamecano's agent recently confirmed the presence of a €42.5million release clause in the defender's contract, which he only signed last year.

And that is the figure Bayern are preparing to pay, with Salihamidzic revealing conversations reached their conclusion in the past week.

When asked by Sport Bild if he could confirm the transfer, Salihamidzic said: "I can do that, and we are very happy about that at FC Bayern.

"We had very good, intensive and professional discussions with Dayot and his advisor Volker Struth for many months.

"We knew we had very tough competition. Upamecano is a young player, 22, whose qualities are already exceptionally developed.

"I was always convinced that we came up with a good concept. We presented him with our vision of his career at FC Bayern.

"During the past week in Doha, I spoke to everyone involved again. At the end of a long process, the players, family and management were convinced that FC Bayern was the right partner."

It was then put to him that Bayern were committed to paying the release clause and giving Upamecano a five-year deal, to which he replied: "Correct. Dayot Upamecano will play for FC Bayern for the next five years."

The transfer will see Bayern once again strengthen themselves while seemingly weakening a direct domestic rival.

Nevertheless, Leipzig have been expecting Upamecano's departure for a while and had been preparing for life without him.

They secured a deal last year for highly rated Croatia Under-21 international Josko Gvardiol, who returned to former club Dinamo Zagreb on loan for the 2020-21 season.

Leipzig are also reportedly close to agreeing a deal for Strasbourg defender Mohamed Simakan in a deal that is said to be worth up to €18m.

Manchester United are considering putting together a blockbuster deal to sign Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos.

Ramos is in his 16th season with LaLiga champions Madrid but the upcoming free agent has reportedly rejected a two-year contract extension to stay in the Spanish capital.

The 13-time European champions are not expected to go back to the 34-year-old with an improved offer, leaving the door open for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side to swoop.


TOP STORY – UNITED TO DECIDE ON RAMOS

Manchester United will decide in the coming months whether or not to lure the 178-cap Spain international to Old Trafford, according to Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano.

Ramos' contract expires in June 2021 and the Red Devils are yet to make an approach, although Champions League rivals Paris Saint-Germain are said to be interested.

Mauricio Pochettino's PSG will only pursue Ramos if he is available on a free transfer. That will remain the case unless Madrid make a late move to keep the club icon at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Thomas Tuchel insists Chelsea will conduct business behind closed doors after refusing to comment on the club's reported interest in Erling Haaland and Dayot Upamecano.

The German head coach was hired to replace Frank Lampard less than a week before the January transfer window closed and the Blues did not make any mid-season signings.

The 47-year-old will need to wait until the off-season before adding his own recruits and Borussia Dortmund's prolific striker Haaland and highly rated RB Leipzig defender Upamecano are two of the players the Blues are rumoured to be monitoring.

When asked about the reports, Tuchel said he is focused on developing his own centre-backs and forwards before discussing any new players arriving at Stamford Bridge.

"I can understand your interest in the question and the interest of every fan and supporter to talk about these subjects," said Tuchel.

"I am always a fan and am interested in what's going on. But now it is February and there is a long way to go.

"As you get to know me, you will know I will not talk about other players publicly when they are under contract. This is the type of respect we show to them but also to our own players.

"We think about our central defenders and strikers first and push them to the limits. Everything else will be decided behind closed doors. I'm sorry."

After signing an 18-month contract with the west London club, Tuchel has led the Blues to three wins and a draw from his four Premier League games in charge.

Chelsea travel to face Championship club Barnsley in the FA Cup fifth round at Oakwell on Thursday, before returning to league action against Newcastle United on Monday.

David Alaba could well be on his way out at Bayern Munich but Michael Ballack does not believe Dayot Upamecano is ready to replace him.

Versatile defender Alaba will be out of contract at the Allianz Arena at the end of June and has been heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid.

Bayern have been tipped to bring in Upamecano should the Austria international opt to leave, with the RB Leipzig centre-back reportedly available for €42million.

Prior to Saturday's Bundesliga games, Upamecano had been involved in more clean sheets (seven to four) and made more tackles (22 to 14), recoveries (149 to 110), blocks (11 to nine) and clearances (41 to 38) than Alaba in the top flight this season.

While he has contested significantly more duels than Alaba (134 to 79) their success rate is similar, with the Bayern defender having the slight edge at 55.7 compared to 54.5.

Ballack acknowledges Upamecano's physicality would be useful and thinks he could improve at Bayern, but he does not see him as someone capable of immediately filling the void Alaba would leave.

"He is a completely different kind of player to David Alaba, who had a substantial part in building this new era of Bayern. He was a flagship for them, after all he was a product of their youth system and played there from a very young age," Ballack told Stats Perform News.

"He is now at an age where he wants to try out something different. You have to respect that and accept it as well. Of course, you can talk about the reasons, but this is the way it is.

"He is a very versatile player who lately played as a centre-back. He fulfilled this role completely. He can also play in the midfield and is therefore an all-round player who is hard to replace for Bayern due to his character and standing within the team. If Bayern will lose him, then it will be a significant loss for them.

"Upamecano is a player on their wish list. I heavily doubt whether he is ready for the role at Bayern. He is still very young and has outstanding moments, primarily due to his physicality.

"I'm very, very certain that he will improve a lot at Bayern. When you play together with high-class players, then you will improve automatically even in training.

"If it comes to an agreement, then this will be expected from Bayern. In terms of physicality, he brings in enough qualities to be of value."

Upamecano has shown he is good with his feet, starting on average 14.6 open play sequences per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga this season prior to kick-off in Leipzig's match against Schalke; that compares to 11.3 for Alaba.

He also ranks closely to Alaba (54.1) in terms of open play build up involvements with 53.6 per 90 minutes, suggesting he could fit in quite nicely with Bayern's style of play.

Chelsea are not giving up in their pursuit of Bayern Munich star David Alaba.

Alaba, 28, is linked with numerous European giants, with Real Madrid reportedly leading the race to sign the defender.

But it seems Chelsea are unwilling to give up.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA STILL EYEING MADRID TARGET ALABA

Chelsea will attempt to hijack Real Madrid's move for Bayern Munich defender Alaba, according to The Guardian.

It was reported Alaba, who is out of contract at the end of the season, had agreed to a four-year deal with Madrid.

Chelsea have been linked with numerous centre-backs.

Goal reports the Premier League club's signing plans are linked to Bayern Munich's transfer plans as the Bundesliga giants are favourites to sign RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano.

Upamecano and Niklas Sule, another Bayern defender, are also said to be targets for Chelsea.

 

ROUND-UP

- Can Manchester City land Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland? The Daily Star reports City bosses believe winning the Premier League will help them beat Chelsea to Haaland in a £100million (€114m) deal.

- Tottenham have won just two of their past 10 Premier League matches, leading to talk about Jose Mourinho's future. The Telegraph reports the Spurs head coach is under pressure but not in imminent danger of being sacked.

- Manchester United are targeting a deal for Norwich City right-back Max Aarons as they seek competition for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, according to the Daily Express.

- Following Andre Villas-Boas' exit, Marseille are looking for a new coach. Le 10 Sport reports Atletico Mineiro boss Jorge Sampaoli is the favourite to take charge of the Ligue 1 club.

Chelsea are chasing defenders and Niklas Sule is reportedly a target, with David Alaba seemingly set for Real Madrid.

Premier League outfit Chelsea have been linked with defenders, particularly since Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard at the helm.

They have three at the top of their list.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA EYE SULE

Bayern Munich defender Sule is on Chelsea's shopping list, according to Sport Bild.

The report says Sule's Bayern team-mate Alaba , who is out of contract at the end of the season, and RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano are also among their targets.

Chelsea have kept back-to-back clean sheets since Tuchel took over last month.

 

ROUND-UP

- Alaba seems set to head elsewhere. Marca reports Real Madrid have a four-year agreement in place with Alaba, who has passed his medical.

- Borussia Dortmund seem to be preparing for Jadon Sancho's exit. Sport Bild reports PSV attacker Donyell Malen and Lyon star Memphis Depay, who is also apparently wanted by Barcelona, are targets for Dortmund with Sancho likely to leave at season's end.

- With Andre Villas-Boas having left his post, Marseille are looking for a new coach. Sky Sport reports former Chelsea and Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri has turned down an approach from the Ligue 1 side.

- John Terry is on the list of candidates to become the next Bournemouth manager, according to the Daily Mail. The Championship side sacked Jason Tindall and are said to be looking at the Aston Villa assistant.

- Martin Braithwaite could have left Barcelona. Sport reports the forward turned down a loan move to West Brom during the previous transfer window.

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge revealed Premier League champions Liverpool and Chelsea are battling the Bundesliga holders to sign RB Leipzig star Dayot Upamecano.

Upamecano is one of the most sought-after defenders in Europe, with Rummenigge previously stating Bayern's interest in the France international centre-back as David Alaba prepares to leave Munich on a free transfer at season's end.

Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea have also been linked with moves for the 22-year-old, who has a release clause.

With Bayern determined to bolster their defence, Rummenigge said the German powerhouse are facing serious competition from England for Upamecano.

"In addition to Bayern Munchen, there are at least two quite attractive clubs interested," Rummenigge told Sky in Germany.

"The fact is that the player is interesting, and the fact is that we will almost certainly lose David Alaba at his position. I can't say if there will be other departures at the position," Rummenigge told Sky.

"You have to let things grow in peace. We have a good relationship with Mr. Struth. The player will know what he wants at some point. We have a good relationship with RB Leipzig as well. I have had a conversation with Oliver Mintzlaff. When things become concrete, we'll talk again.

"The fact that Chelsea and Liverpool are also interested in him proves that he has very good qualities. He can replace David Alaba."

Bayern's interest comes as Alaba looks set to swap the Bundesliga champions for LaLiga holders Real Madrid.

Barcelona have also emerged as a possible destination for the 28-year-old, but Rummenigge hinted at a switch to the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid.

"I am 99.9 per cent sure Alaba will leave the club at the end of this season," Rummenigge added. "We will part in a friendly way and I hope he can say goodbye to us with more titles.

"He is fully committed to us and he is a nice guy that we all like. He deserves to be treated well until his last day at Bayern.

"David can sign for the club he wants. I do not know if he will arrive at an agreement with Real Madrid, but it is a great club and I can understand that it is interesting for him."

Kylian Mbappe's future continues to dominate headlines.

For so long, Real Madrid have been favourites to prise Mbappe to the Santiago Bernabeu.

But Premier League champions Liverpool are believed to be stepping up their pursuit.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL FRONTRUNNERS FOR MBAPPE

Liverpool are ahead of Real Madrid in the race to sign Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe , according to Canal+ show Late Football Club.

Mbappe has been tipped to leave Ligue 1 champions PSG for LaLiga holders Madrid at the end of the season.

But Liverpool are reportedly the frontrunners to prise the France World Cup winner to Anfield amid doubts over Mohamed Salah 's future.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca says Madrid are preparing for the departure of Sergio Ramos as their star captain nears an exit. The soon-to-be free agent has been linked with the likes of PSG , Juventus , Manchester United and Manchester City .

- Will Roma striker Edin Dzeko and Inter's Alexis Sanchez swap clubs? Sky Sport Italia reports an exchange deal could be set to collapse. City reportedly turned down a chance to re-sign Dzeko, who has a fractured relationship with Roma head coach Paulo Fonseca.

Milan are continuing to target Palmeiras and Uruguayan defender Matias Vina , says Calciomercato.

- Cadena Cope reports PSG want to sign Barcelona defender Emerson , who is on loan at Real Betis.

- Sport Bild journalist Christian Falk says United are interested in RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano , but Bayern Munich lead the race to secure his services at season's end. Upamecano has also been linked to the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool .

- Falk also confirmed that Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate has a release clause in excess of €40million (£35m) amid interest from United , Liverpool and Tottenham .

United are eyeing Barca's Ousmane Dembele if Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho does not arrive ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, according to Falk.

The battle to sign David Alaba continues among European giants, while Thomas Tuchel is eyeing Dayot Upamecano at Chelsea.

Alaba, 28, is set to leave Bayern Munich at the end of the season and it was reported this month the defender had agreed a deal with Real Madrid.

But it seems the race to secure the Austria international's signature remains on.

 

TOP STORY – EUROPEAN GIANTS FIGHT FOR ALABA

Real Madrid have offered Alaba €11million per year and Manchester City are prepared to give the Bayern Munich star €14m, according to AS.

The report says Manchester United, Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea are also battling to sign Alaba.

Alaba has won nine Bundesliga titles and two Champions Leagues among numerous other trophies with Bayern.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tuchel's appointment as Chelsea head coach was confirmed on Tuesday, and the former PSG boss is already looking to strengthen. Bild reports Tuchel wants RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano at Stamford Bridge. It comes as The Guardian reports Chelsea's interest in West Ham midfielder Declan Rice is likely to end following Frank Lampard's sacking.

- Real Madrid have work to do before the end of the season. Marca reports Luka Modric has agreed a new contract with Madrid, while Sergio Ramos and Lucas Vazquez are yet to accept offers. The report says Karim Benzema, Raphael Varane and Nacho Fernandez are their next priorities.

- Eric Garcia is linked with a move to Barcelona. Sport reports the next president of the Catalan giants must ratify the defender's five-year deal if the Manchester City defender is to arrive ahead of next season.

- Out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain the end of the season, Angel Di Maria's future is uncertain. L'Equipe reports the attacker, though, is on track for an extension with the Ligue 1 giants.

- Staying at PSG and the club are still pushing to sign Dele Alli on loan, according to Fabrizio Romano, who reports Tottenham are unwilling to let the midfielder go until they sign a replacement.

- Jordi Alba turns 32 in March and Barcelona are considering the left-back's successor. Mundo Deportivo reports Valencia's Jose Gaya and Chelsea's Marcos Alonso are candidates.

Liverpool are reportedly prioritising a new deal for Virgil van Dijk over Mohamed Salah, while they could be beaten to Dayot Upamecano by Manchester United.

Salah's future has been a talking point in recent weeks, although the forward is contracted until 2023.

Van Dijk also has an agreement at Anfield until 2023, but the injured defender is apparently Liverpool's focus.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL PRIORITISE VAN DIJK DEAL OVER SALAH

Liverpool are prioritising a new contract for Van Dijk over Salah, according to Eurosport.

Van Dijk, 29, is recovering from a serious knee injury and his absence has been felt by the Premier League champions.

Salah, meanwhile, has scored 13 goals in 18 league games this season, but in an interview with AS last month the 28-year-old refused to rule out a move to Real Madrid or Barcelona.

The report also says Liverpool may look at West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, with Georginio Wijnaldum set to leave as a free agent at the end of the campaign.

ROUND-UP

- With Van Dijk and Joe Gomez injured, Liverpool have been linked with a move for RB Leipzig defender Upamecano. But The Sun reports Manchester United are poised to sign the centre-back for £38million (€42.7m).

- Amid uncertainty over his future at Barcelona, Ousmane Dembele is being looked at by numerous European giants. Sport reports Chelsea, Manchester United, Juventus and Bayern Munich are monitoring the forward's situation. Dembele is out of contract in 2022 and the Catalan giants could sell him if he does not extend his deal.

- Frank Lampard is under enormous pressure at Chelsea as the Premier League side struggle for form. The Mirror reports Chelsea could turn to Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers if they move on from Lampard.

- Yet to re-sign with Southampton with his contract expiring next year, Danny Ings is linked with a move. 90min reports Leicester City and Everton have joined the race for the forward, who has also been linked to Tottenham.

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