Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland could not even transform Manchester United’s fortunes, according to former Red Devil Rio Ferdinand.

United crashed out at the Champions League last-16 stage at the hands of Atletico Madrid, whose 1-0 victory at Old Trafford sealed a 2-1 aggregate win for Diego Simeone's side on Tuesday.

That meant United have failed to make a Champions League semi-final since 2011, when they eventually lost to Barcelona in the final at Wembley under Alex Ferguson.

The nature of the loss to Atleti brought the direction of the club into sharp focus, but Ferdinand believes more systemic change at the club is pertinent, as opposed to squad investment.

Ralf Rangnick remains in interim charge of United until the end of the season, and Ferdinand wants to see a manager brought in that can deliver success and drag the Red Devils out of an underwhelming period.

"What it [the loss] does show you is that it doesn't matter what players you get together, what talent you get together, you need someone to harness that," he told BT Sport post-match.

"You need someone to harness that. You need a manager to come in and put it all together.

"If you bring in Mbappe and Haaland this summer, United are not going to win the league. It doesn't matter who you bring in, it needs to be from the top down."

United are now out of contention for silverware once again, but they will look to make amends at home to Leicester City on April 2 as they pursue Champions League qualification in the Premier League.

Manchester City's search for a permanent striker appears to be ramping up, with a deal for Erling Haaland reportedly in the works.

City have not been able to properly replace Sergio Aguero despite leading the Premier League, and Haaland looks to be their primary target.

Details and discussion of the deal already appear to be in advanced stages, and City look to be best placed to sign the Norwegian.


TOP STORY – HAALAND SET FOR MAN CITY SWITCH

According to the Daily Mail, Haaland is set to move to Manchester City at the end of season, with personal terms already discussed and the framework for the deal already green-lit by City decision makers.

Haaland's father Alf-Inge played for the club but more importantly, City appear willing to meet Borussia Dortmund's release clause of £63million (€75.1million). 

The 21-year-old's agent, Mino Raiola, would also be set to earn a significant portion of the transfer fee per reports, meaning the total outlay will reach nine figures.

Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid have shown keen interest in the Norwegian striker, but the Premier League leaders look to be in pole position.

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are looking at Real Sociedad's Alexander Isak as an alternative in the event they don't manage to sign Haaland from Dortmund . According to El Nacional, Xavi is an admirer of the 22-year-old Swedish striker, but they would face competition from the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal .

- Milan are set to make an offer for Mamadou Coulibaly from Monaco. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Rossoneri scout Geoffrey Moncada is particularly keen on the 17-year-old, who will be leaving Monaco at the end of the season.

- According to reports from Calciomercato, Napoli will look to begin talks with Sassuolo for talented attacker Hamed Junior Traore soon. Following the expiry of Juventus' right of first refusal clause, reports also say the Partenopei will want to move quickly.

- Real Madrid are close to confirming a contract extension for Luka Modric, per Marca reports, but are unwavering in their plans to offload Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Isco at the end of the season.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has cooled speculation the club will be battling to sign Erling Haaland at the end of the season.

The Blaugrana have been frequently linked with a move for the Borussia Dortmund striker, with the Norway international a player in great demand.

But with Barcelona still building up their financial stability, Laporta has played down talk of a deal for Haaland, given the hefty cost any such signing would necessitate.

"Even if we had the best economic situation, there are operations we would not do," Laporta told Eport3.

He was asked whether the Norwegian flag would be flying for Haaland at Camp Nou next season, as it was for Caroline Graham Hansen and Ingrid Engen when Barcelona's women's team won their domestic league title, sealing it with a 5-0 victory over Real Madrid on Sunday.

"[Mateu] Alemany, Jordi [Cruyff] and the technical secretary are working on improving the team. We want to carry out operations, but some are difficult," Laporta added.

"We have to save ourselves. We have improved the situation, but we have to complete the recovery of the economic situation. We won't do deals that could put the institution at risk."

Barcelona have faced a difficult year when it has come to balancing the books, being forced to let captain Lionel Messi depart due to financial constraints and then facing delays when registering new recruits.

On the field, however, they have turned a corner from their early-season woes under Ronald Koeman, with new head coach Xavi helping to steer them back into the thick of a top-four battle in LaLiga.

Haaland, meanwhile, has been reported to be closing in on a move to Premier League champions Manchester City, with the Leeds-born star poised for a return to the country of his birth.

Kylian Mbappe looks set to end one of the biggest transfer sagas of recent seasons by penning his deal with Real Madrid next week.

The Paris Saint-Germain striker will reportedly move to Santiago Bernabeu on a free transfer at the end of the season.

It will mark the end of a lengthy pursuit by Los Blancos, despite the Ligue 1 club's efforts to keep their star man.

 

TOP STORY - MADRID CLOSING IN ON MBAPPE

Mbappe will confirm his future in a matter of days by putting pen to paper on a contract with Real Madrid, claims Marca.

The France international was pursued by Los Blancos last year, but instead remained with Paris Saint-Germain to see out the rest of his contract.

That expires at the end of this campaign, and despite PSG's resistance, the forward will confirm his future at Santiago Bernabeu with a free move before the month is up.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City have locked a deal in place for the capture of Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, according to the Daily Mail. City look to have beaten off several European rivals for the Leeds-born Norway international, and are now set to discuss personal terms.

- Scotland international Kieran Tierney is set to be the subject of a move from Madrid, claims 90min. The Arsenal star has helped form the bedrock of a Gunners revival this term and his performances have not gone under-the-radar when it comes to Los Blancos and their interest.

- Antonio Conte is willing to consider an extension at Tottenham, providing the club can show that they have "vision", says the Guardian. The Italian has endured a topsy-turvy tenure so far in north London, but remains one of the most respected coaches in the game.

- Crystal Palace star Conor Gallagher is unsure where his future lies following his success on loan at Selhurst Park this season, according to ESPN. The Chelsea man is with the Eagles on a year-long deal, and has picked up England honours during his tenure.

- Atletico Madrid are thinking about a move for Barcelona's Sergi Roberto. According to Fichajes, the midfielder is frustrated at his lack of consistent game-time and LaLiga's champions could swoop for him.

Erling Haaland could make his long-awaited return from injury during Borussia Dortmund's clash with Arminia Bielefeld on Sunday, revealed head coach Marco Rose.

Haaland, who has hit 16 Bundesliga goals at a rate of just 71.56 minutes per goal this season, has not featured for second-placed Dortmund since sustaining a muscle injury six weeks ago.

But ahead of Dortmund's home clash with relegation-battlers Arminia, Rose revealed that his top scorer could be set for a return to action, albeit from the bench. 

"Erling is now pain-free, which makes him very happy," the 45-year-old said. "He's just happy that he's now training with the team every day again and is in a very good mood. 

"First and foremost, it's always about health. Everything else is secondary."

Rose did, however, say that the Norway star was unlikely to play from the start, issuing a reminder that he has been out for a "long time", and that he was more likely to be introduced from the bench.

 

Bundesliga matches involving Dortmund have averaged 4.21 goals per game this season, the highest tally in the division, and BVB have actually conceded more goals (37) than Sunday's opponents have (33), despite sitting 13 places higher in the table.

Yet, with Dortmund nine points behind leaders Bayern Munich with a game in hand, Rose seemed content with his side's progress, and hoped to deliver one last push for the title during the run-in.

"Despite some weaker games, we have also delivered some spectacles," Rose said. "The fans have always pushed us with their feedback. 

"That's what I'd like to see from Sunday onwards, so that we can push together at the end of the season."

Elsewhere, Haaland's return could be accompanied by that of Giovanni Reyna, in what would be a major boost to the United States ahead of this month's crucial World Cup qualifiers.

The 19-year-old suffered what looked like a hamstring injury last month and has made just five Bundesliga appearances all campaign, but the club's social media channels have now revealed that the youngster has been in full training this week and is in line for a return. 

With just three matches left in their qualification campaign, USA are battling with Canada, Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica for a spot in Qatar, facing each of the latter three in crucial matchups before the end of March. 

Xavi is confident that Barcelona will land their transfer targets in the next window but was unwilling to confirm whether Erling Haaland is one of those his side are chasing.

Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo reported on Wednesday that Barcelona are growing increasingly confident of winning the race for in-demand Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland.

The 21-year-old has been linked with an array of Europe's elite clubs, including Barca's rivals Real Madrid, after scoring 80 goals in 79 games for Dortmund in all competitions.

That is a tally bettered only by Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (115 goals in 97 matches) among players from Europe's top five leagues since January 2020.

Haaland has a reported €75million release clause that kicks in at the end of the season, although Barca's well-documented financial issues over the past year would make any deal difficult.

While falling short of confirming whether his side are looking to recruit Haaland, Xavi insisted Camp Nou is a lure for any player, despite Barca's relative recent plight.

"You say I have met with Haaland – I didn't know that!" Xavi said at a pre-match news conference previewing Thursday's Europa League match with Galatasaray.

"It's always a good time to come to Barca for any footballer. There isn't a footballer who has said no to Barca since I've been here.

"The player we want to sign, when we can talk to him, we talk to him about the game model, about the training sessions.

"If you will touch 20 balls at another club, here you will touch 40. The club, the city that is wonderful, the history of Barca...

"I will try to convince any player that coming to Barca is a golden opportunity."

 

Speculation regarding Haaland's future will likely rumble on for a number of months yet, but Barca are hopeful of completing some transfer business of sorts before then.

Gavi and Ronald Araujo are both set to be out of contract next year, though the club are working to tie both players down to fresh terms.

"They are two very important players," Xavi said. "The club's working very well and they are a priority for us. 

"It is a process. Sometimes the negotiations take a long time. We hope for the good of the club that there is an agreement."

Barca host Galatasaray on Wednesday for the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie boasting an eight-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

While the Catalans are considered the favourites of many to lift the trophy in May, Xavi believes perennial winners Sevilla are the team to beat.

"I don't see us as one of the favourites. We have never won the competition," he said. "Sevilla are more favourites than us. 

"We are one of the candidates and we have to prove it on the pitch. There is enthusiasm in Barcelona. Every game at Barca is an exam, but we haven't done anything yet."

Barca have faced Galatasaray eight times previously, winning each of the past three meetings, the most recent of those a 3-1 win in the 2002-03 Champions League group stage.

Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Manchester United may be coming to a premature end.

The Portuguese forward has struggled since Ralf Rangnick's arrival as interim manager in December.

United are also battling to finish in the Premier League's top four.

TOP STORY - RONALDO COURTS MOVE TO MESSI'S PSG

FootballTransfers claims that Ronaldo has decided that he will leave Manchester United if they do not qualify for the Champions League, with a move to join Lionel Messi at Paris Saint-Germain on his agenda.

Speculation about Ronaldo's future at Old Trafford ramped up after he missed Sunday's Manchester derby due to a hip flexor injury and flew to Portugal.

The report that claims that Ronaldo returning to Juventus has been ruled out, along with his original Portuguese club Sporting CP, with the five-time Ballon d'Or courting a move to Paris.

 

ROUND-UP

- Defensa Central reports that Newcastle United have commenced talks with Real Madrid over a move for 31-year-old ex-Chelsea forward Eden Hazard who has had an underwhelming spell with Los Blancos.

- Manchester United's Marcus Rashford has a list of clubs circling for his services with Arsenal, Newcastle and West Ham all interested, according to 90Min.

- The Mail claims that PSG will make a move for Rashford too, should Kylian Mbappe leave the French capital to join Madrid.

- Manchester City and Madrid are in the lead to sign Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland ahead of Bayern Munich and Barcelona claims The Athletic.

- RB Leipzig midfielder Christopher Nkunku is being tracked by Chelsea and Man City according to FootMercato.

Joan Laporta has denied that Barcelona have held negotiations with Erling Haaland to try to lure the Borussia Dortmund striker to Camp Nou.

It was reported by L'Esportiu that Barca head coach Xavi and sporting advisor Jordi Cruyff had travelled to Munich to meet Haaland this week.

Xavi did not deny meeting the sought-after Norway international, stating he "cannot give details" over a potential move for the 21-year-old and the Blaugrana are "working for the present and the future" in the transfer market.

Laporta insisted the Catalan giants would not engage in official talks with Haaland – who has a €75million release clause that kicks in at the end of this season – without Dortmund's permission.

The Barca president told reporters: "At Barça we don't negotiate with the player, when we have to negotiate we will do it with Borussia Dortmund if the circumstance arises. 

"Xavi hasn't denied it? Well, I categorically deny it. If we negotiate, we would do it with Borussia Dortmund. We are working on many players who can improve the squad next season according to what the coach, the director of football and the technical secretary say.

"We are working and planning, but not negotiating with players. Neither meeting nor negotiating."

 

But Laporta does not believe it would be an issue if Xavi has spoken to Haaland in Bavaria.

He added: "I am convinced that conversations can be held between athletes, they can talk about football, which is what they know.

"Coming to Barca is attractive because the team is under construction and they fall in love [with the club] because there are very young players, with a lot of talent, who have a present and a future, but the economic issues are valued by other people in the club."

Xavi insisted he "cannot give details" on a potential transfer for Erling Haaland, but assured Barcelona are "working for the present and the future" in their dealings.

Haaland has thrived in the Bundesliga since he arrived at Borussia Dortmund from Salzburg in January 2020, scoring 80 goals in 79 appearances across all competitions.

That has made him one of the most sought-after talents, with a host of European's elite circling for when his reported €75million release clause kicks in at the end of this season.

Barca, Real Madrid and Manchester City are said to be the main suitors for the Norway international, who is yet to make his Dortmund future clear.

The Blaugrana club have confirmed 18-year-old winger Pablo Torre will sign from Racing Santander at the end of the season in a deal that could cost them more than €20million, and Xavi was asked whether the teenager could be joined by Haaland.

"I can't give details," he responded at a news conference previewing Sunday's LaLiga clash with Elche.

"The only thing I can say about Haaland is that we are working for Barca, for the present and future. If we announce something, you will know. Like yesterday with Pablo Torre."

 

Kylian Mbappe seems set to join Barca's Clasico rivals Madrid when his Paris Saint-Germain contract expires in June, and Xavi would welcome the France international's arrival in LaLiga, even if it is not at the Camp Nou.

"The more players at this level, of course, the league would improve," Xavi said. "Obviously, it would be even more attractive."

Xavi believes that Barca still have the pulling power to attract high-profile signings, while he detailed his plans for the incoming Torre.

"It's still one of the advantages," Xavi said of Barca's ability in the transfer market. 

"It's explaining the project, trust and being honest with the player we want to sign. The model, the idea of the game, which he will enjoy, the club, which is the best in the world, the city.

"The most important thing is that I haven't seen any player who has said no to Barca. They all want to come. It's exciting to come to Barca.

"We have been following Pablo. He is a natural talent. He can play inside, on the wing, he dominates with both feet.

"He is very young and has the ability to play for Barca for years. It depends on him and his mentality. 

"He is a great signing for the present and future. He will have be involved with the first team, but he will play the role of Abde [Ezzalzouli] and [Ferran] Jutgla as a rotational option."

Chelsea have enjoyed an unrivalled period of success across Roman Abramovich's near two decades as owner at Stamford Bridge.

From their five Premier Leagues and two Champions Leagues, plus last month's Club World Cup triumph, the Blues have won it all under the Russian billionaire.

But amid mounting political pressure following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Abramovich is reportedly open to selling Chelsea for the first time.


TOP STORY – THREE PARTIES INTERESTED IN BLUES 

According to The Telegraph, at least three parties are circling Chelsea in the belief that Abramovich is ready to walk away.

Abramovich announced on Saturday, a day before the Blues' EFL Cup final loss to Liverpool, that he is taking a step back from his duties as owner.

The report indicates that Chelsea are bracing themselves for bids as early as this week as a changing of the guard at Stamford Bridge becomes a realistic possibility.


ROUND-UP

- Manchester City have ramped up their interest in Borussia Dortmund's in-demand striker Erling Haaland, according to The Express. City chief Txiki Begiristain is said to have recently met with agent Mino Raiola to discuss the signing of Haaland.

- Ralf Rangnick has been ruled out of the running to become Manchester United's next permanent boss. The Sun claims that Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag, in charge of Paris Saint-Germain and Ajax respectively, are the two men being considered.

- Sky Sports News reports that Antonio Rudiger's representatives remain in constant dialogue with Real Madrid and PSG over an end-of-season transfer. Chelsea want to keep hold of the defender, but they have been unable to agree fresh terms. 

- According to football.london, Arsenal are eager to reward Bukayo Saka with a new deal at the end of the campaign. The England international is already under contract at Emirates Stadium until July 2024.

- Atletico Madrid midfielder Hector Herrera will see out the remainder of the 2021-22 LaLiga campaign before making the switch to Houston Dynamo in MLS, Fabrizio Romano suggests. Herrera has made 14 appearances this term and is a regular for Mexico.

Manchester United have to be "dreaming" of landing players like Erling Haaland says Dimitar Berbatov, who also defended Cristiano Ronaldo's recent performances for the Red Devils.

Interim boss Ralf Rangnick was recently filmed on a video clip posted to social media saying "Who? What are you dreaming at night?!" in response to a fan asking if United were going to sign Borussia Dortmund star Haaland.

The Norway striker certainly has no shortage of suitors with the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona all heavily linked with the superstar forward.

With United way off the pace in the Premier League and firmly remaining outsiders in the hunt for the Champions League, Rangnick was perhaps not too far wide of the mark when suggesting Haaland is out of reach for now.

But former United striker Berbatov believes Haaland is the kind of player United have to once again think about signing to restore their standing among the elite clubs in Europe.

"I saw the video going around social media of Ralf Rangnick laughing off Erling Haaland signing for United," Berbatov told Betfair, in quotes reported by several British newspapers.

"He told a fan that they 'must be dreaming' about signing him, maybe that's a sign that they can't afford him or it's not possible for him to move to the club at this moment in time when they aren't producing good enough football to get his interest, maybe that's what he meant.

"For me they need to go back to those high standards of performance that they used to set, so that they can attract big players.

"Everybody wants him in summer and maybe Rangnick was being realistic. It's not a great look, though, and in this day and age you have to be careful because you can end up in a moment where you need to explain yourself.

"You must be mad to not want a player like Haaland in your team, so maybe Ralf Rangnick should start dreaming."

One superstar whose future at United remains a little unclear is veteran forward Ronaldo, who made a sensational return to Old Trafford in August.

Ronaldo is United's top scorer this season but he has netted only once in 2022, while his comeback has coincided with a campaign that saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sacked and persistent rumours of dressing room unrest among the squad.

Berbatov, though, suggested the 37-year-old is allowed to have bad games and said the onus is on his team-mates to produce the goods when he is not playing at his best.

"When teams have a bad result the star players always end up with the blame, and at the minute with Manchester United, that's Cristiano Ronaldo," said Berbatov, who played alongside Ronaldo during his four years at Old Trafford.

"At the moment he's got just one goal in 10 games and that seems problematic for everybody, but not for me.

"There are eleven players on the pitch and the blame should be shared. Ronaldo is an icon in the world of football and people need to remember that he's 37.

"So, from time to time he is allowed to have a couple of bad games. But I don't think that is the problem here.

"People need to be realistic with him and they need to know that it's totally different when you're 37 to being 27.

"He is going to have moments when he needs his team-mates to produce more for him, that's normal in football. Ronaldo is a total professional and he will speak to the manager and he will want to produce more.

"Everybody in the United team needs to produce more, the standards should be a lot higher than they are.

"Ronaldo is also a realistic guy, he will know that his performances aren't where he wants them to be, even though he's older and his game is totally different, he sets very high standards. I don't think that needs explaining to him."

Borussia Dortmund should have a clear idea on Erling Haaland's future in the next six weeks, but their chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke insisted they can cope without their talisman.

Haaland has taken the Bundesliga by storm since he arrived from Salzburg in January 2020, scoring 80 goals in 79 appearances across all competitions – finding the net once every 80.5 minutes on average.

That has made him one of the most sought-after talents in European football, with a host of elite clubs circling for when his reported €75million release clause kicks in at the end of this season.

The 21-year-old is yet to declare his intentions, with Dortmund head coach Marco Rose suggesting he has not given up hope of retaining Haaland's services.

Dortmund chief Watzke revealed a conclusion to discussions will likely arrive soon, though he believes Rose's side will recover even if they lose their star striker.

When asked whether Dortmund can keep Haaland by n-tv, Watzke responded: "I don't know. That will certainly clear up in the next few weeks, maybe a month, maybe six weeks.

"If he decides to leave, we will deal with it the way we always have. We have lost a few goalscorers in the past: Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. We will find someone new again."

 

Dortmund have managed without Haaland for the past month after the forward, who has scored four goals in four games in all competitions to start 2022, sustained a muscle injury.

Rose's team have netted 25 times in eight matches this calendar year – trailing only Liverpool (31) and Real Betis (29) across Europe's top five leagues.

Dortmund will be hoping to continue that rich vein of scoring form when they look to overturn a 4-2 deficit at Rangers in the second leg of their Europa League knockout round play-off at Ibrox on Thursday.

Erling Haaland will not play for Borussia Dortmund against Rangers at Ibrox, but the visitors still believe they can turn their Europa League tie around – and with good reason.

Superstar striker Haaland has been out with a muscle injury for the past month, having scored four goals in four games in all competitions to start 2022.

But Dortmund have continued in that vein without their talisman, netting 25 times in eight matches this calendar year – trailing only Real Betis (29) across Europe's top five leagues heading into the midweek matches.

That rate of 3.2 goals scored per game is also bettered by just one team, meanwhile, in Bundesliga rivals Bayer Leverkusen (3.3).

Keeping opponents out at the other end has been the issue for Dortmund, with five of Leverkusen's 20 goals coming away at BVB. A similarly lacklustre defensive showing in the first leg of their knockout round play-off saw Rangers 4-2 winners away from home.

Again only Betis (42) have had more goals for and against combined in 2022 than Dortmund (41).

And Betis provide the inspiration for Dortmund, as the only team to have thrown away a two-goal away-leg lead to exit the Europa League, doing so against rivals Sevilla in 2013-14.

Rather than worrying about Haaland's absence then, head coach Marco Rose is focused on ensuring his back line are up to the task in Glasgow, giving BVB the platform to fire themselves through.

"Erling has been out for almost half of the season. Nevertheless, we scored a lot of goals," Rose told his pre-match news conference.

"Tomorrow we have to attack, go for goals. Of course, one can always slip in [at the other end]. That is why we have to be careful.

"We have to work out better solutions going forward than in the first leg. Against Gladbach [a 6-0 Bundesliga win], that was a good first step."

On the recovering Haaland, Rose added: "There is always a lot of reporting on Erling. He needs a little more time. He is still a bit away from 100 per cent.

"We are in contact, he keeps trying and keeps working. He still needs some time. He must be painless – and we're not there yet."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang said it "would be an honour" to play alongside Erling Haaland at Barcelona.

Aubameyang made the switch to Camp Nou effectively on a free transfer in January after his Arsenal contract was cancelled amid a falling out with Gunners boss Mikel Arteta.

The Gabon striker may face competition in the form of Borussia Dortmund sensation Haaland next season, with Barca among a plethora of clubs reportedly interested in signing one of world football's hottest properties.

Last month Barca president Joan Laporta did not rule out making a move, despite the club's well-documented financial woes, saying Los Cules are "still a point of reference in the transfer market".

If Haaland did arrive it could impact Aubameyang's playing time but the 32-year-old would love to have the Norway star as a team-mate.

"I'm always prepared for healthy competition with my team-mates, so it would be an honour to play with him if he ends up joining Barca," Aubameyang, who scored a hat-trick in the 4-1 LaLiga beating of Valencia on Sunday, told SPORT.

"I'm not a coach, but I think Haaland is a great player.

"He scores a lot of goals, he has a very good physique and a lot of speed. He is very big, but he runs a lot. He is incredible."

One player Aubameyang has reunited with at Barca is Ousmane Dembele, a prospect that was not necessarily a foregone conclusion last month.

Dembele was linked with the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain and may still leave on a free transfer at the end of the season when his contract expires.

But Aubameyang did his part to try and convince Dembele to stay and continue a partnership that began when the pair were both playing at Dortmund.

"It is something very special because we had an incredible year in Dortmund and he is an incredible player," he added.

"Ousmane is one of the best with the ball and, for a striker, he is incredible.

"To tell the truth, I am very happy that he is here and when I arrived I told him: 'You have to stay, man.'"

When asked whether he thought Dembele would stay put, Aubameyang added: "I don't know, but the only thing I can say is that everything is possible in life."

Erling Haaland should leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season, according to former player Ruben Sosa.

Haaland reportedly has a clause in his deal at Signal Iduna Park that will allow him to move for a fee of around €75million at the end of the current campaign.

Sosa - who won the Bundesliga with Dortmund in 1996 - believes the Norwegian marksman should be "given the chance" with one of Europe's heavyweights, naming Spanish giants Real Madrid as one of several possible destinations.

Speaking exclusively to Stats Perform, Sosa urged Haaland not to worry about outside criticism if he does leave.

"I think that he should be given the chance of going to another team," the Uruguayan said.

"Right now, he has given everything, you know. When you have given everything to a team, you must go, because some fans who don't understand football will criticise you afterwards, saying that well, you scored goals, but now you are thinking only about money.

"I think he should be given the chance of going to another club. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, because he has already given everything, and in a short amount of time, so what comes next will be criticised for different reasons. [Either] money or if he doesn't score."

 

Haaland has scored 80 goals in 79 games for Dortmund since joining from Salzburg in January 2020. Of players in Europe's top five leagues, only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (112 goals in 94 games) has scored more in all competitions.

Sosa - who also played for Real Zaragoza, Lazio and Inter during his career - suggested Haaland could still one day return to Dortmund even if he does leave this year.

"For me, he should go to another good team and probably, in the future, afterwards, return to Dortmund," he added. "You always want to end your career at the club where everything started."

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