Erik ten Hag says Manchester United are where they wanted to be midway through his first season in charge, though he refuses to be distracted by thoughts of ending their trophy drought.

United are among the favourites to seal a top-four Premier League finish after winning each of their three games since returning to action at the beginning of the festive period.

The Red Devils have swept aside struggling sides Nottingham Forest, Wolves and Bournemouth without conceding a single goal since the World Cup, and Ten Hag is satisfied with their progress.

"Let's say this – I think we are in a good position, we are where we want to be," Ten Hag said at Thursday's press conference ahead of their FA Cup tie against Everton.

"The focus is from game to game, we play in many competitions, so we have to not think too far ahead.

"We have to go from game to game and work on progressing. It's all about the team firstly, and the individuals second. When the team plays well, the individuals will get better."

While a return to the Champions League is a key aim for United, the club are also desperate to end a six-year trophy drought, having last lifted a piece of major silverware when they won the Europa League under Jose Mourinho in 2017.

Asked what it would mean to land a trophy in his first season at Old Trafford, Ten Hag said: "I don't think about that. 

"In this stage of the season, it's not what you are looking at. You have to look to get into a position where you can win something. There are so many games to play.

"When you think too far ahead, you get distracted. We have to think about the team's performance, the team's development. We have to concentrate on that and work together to get it better."

Ten Hag led Ajax to two KNVB Cup triumphs in his four-and-a-half-year spell with club, and the Dutchman is excited for his first taste of FA Cup football.

"For me, the cup is always special. I know in England the FA Cup has even higher expectations and standards than in the Netherlands, but I liked it in the Netherlands as well," Ten Hag said.

"In not so many games, you can achieve a lot. There also has to be a winner, with a replay if it's a draw. It's a knockout and I like that."

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag confirmed Jack Butland is set to join the club on loan from Crystal Palace, as he eyed further opportunities to strengthen his squad in January.

United signed Martin Dubravka on a season-long loan deal to provide backup to David de Gea in the last transfer window, but they were left in need of a replacement when the Magpies recalled the Slovakia international on Sunday.

On Thursday, reports suggested the Red Devils were close to sealing a similar deal for Butland – who has made just 10 Premier League appearances since joining Palace from Stoke City in 2020.

Ten Hag confirmed the move was imminent in a press conference looking forward to Friday's FA Cup tie against Everton, emphasising the importance of having a third experienced shot stopper alongside De Gea and Tom Heaton.

"Martin was recalled, and in our setup we need a squad with three experienced goalkeepers," Ten Hag said. 

"We have some young ones and they are doing well, but we have so many games, we need three good goalkeepers in training. If there are problems, we need experience in goal.

"I'm really happy with David, that is quite clear – he's our number one and he's performing really well. But as I always say, something can happen with David.

"You have to be prepared for when you are unlucky. Last year I had a situation with Ajax where we had three goalkeepers injured. 

"You don't want a situation at the end of the season – when hopefully you can play for trophies – where you have to put in a young goalkeeper.

"You can't expect it from a young goalkeeper and it can kill your season. That's what you have to be prepared for."

United are also reportedly in the market for attacking reinforcements, with only Marcus Rashford (seven) scoring more than three Premier League goals for the side this term.

The likes of Joao Felix and Olivier Giroud have been linked with loan moves to Old Trafford as United seek a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo, and Ten Hag says the club will look to be active. 

Asked if United were looking to make more signings, Ten Hag said: "We always have to look for that. We push the players because good is not good enough.

"Also as an organisation, we have to push each other. When there are opportunities, at the top, you always have to be ready. My main focus is to get a better team, to improve the team."

Frank Lampard knows Everton need results but has not sought any reassurances over the security of his job.

After a 4-1 home defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday, Everton slumped into the Premier League's bottom three following West Ham's draw with Leeds United and Nottingham Forest's victory over Southampton.

The Saints are Everton's next opponent in the top flight, on January 14, though the focus is now on an FA Cup trip to Manchester United that, according to some reports, the Toffees must win in order for Lampard to keep his job.

Appointed as Rafael Benitez's replacement in January 2022, Lampard managed to keep Everton up last season, though has won just nine league games out of 36 and a relegation scrap looks likely again this term.

Lampard claimed after the Brighton game that he was confident he could turn Everton's form around, and ahead of Friday's trip to Old Trafford, he said: "I've never and would never seek reassurances.

"Part of my job is to focus on the job at hand, day to day, game to game. That's an absolute reality. I don't need reassurance.

"I come to work to try and improve a little bit every day – myself, the team, the squad, everything. I'm not hunting around for any reassurances.

 

"I feel that we're in that process. I'm not silly, we need to get results, we want to stay in this league.

"We've just slipped into the bottom three, that's not my major concern, when you're around here, that's the reality. If we win our next league game, we'd be out of the bottom three, probably.

"That's part of the process, I can't affect anything other than that. I was very aware of what I came to do, I want to be a success at this club and any challenges that come I'll take them head on and try and enjoy them – I enjoy working at this club, it's a real honour for me.

"I take my responsibility as a manager of the club. We had a strategic review because we wanted to look at how we could be better in every department. I'd be superman if I could be in charge of every department, they're not all my roles. There's a lot of work to do to be better in every way, on and off the pitch, that's what great clubs do."

Everton reportedly had a loan move for Danny Ings rejected by Aston Villa on Wednesday, and Lampard reiterated signings are needed.

"Loans or buying players, all things are on the table," he said.

"We want to improve and help the squad but my job is to work with the players we have now and how we can get a result against United and Southampton. If we can improve and help the squad, great. It's not an easy window but it feels like we need it."

Antony has returned to Manchester United training after missing Tuesday's Premier League win over Bournemouth.

The winger was absent for Erik ten Hag's side at Old Trafford, with the manager simply stating he was injured.

But ahead of Friday's FA Cup clash with Everton, the club revealed Antony had been training on Wednesday, putting concerns to rest over any lingering problems.

Antony netted in his first three Premier League games for the Red Devils following his arrival at the start of the campaign, although he has not scored again since then.

The Brazil international's most recent goal came against Everton, and he will hope to be involved against the Toffees this week.

However, it appears former Everton loanee Donny van de Beek is set for a spell on the sidelines.

In just his second league start of the season, the midfielder was on the receiving end of a brutal challenge from Bournemouth defender Marcos Senesi.

Ten Hag was unable to disclose the extent of the issue in his post-match comments, acknowledging: "We need to wait 24 hours. But it is not looking very good."

Frank Lampard believes he can get Everton back on track, as the pressure grew on the former Chelsea boss following a dismal 4-1 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion.

Everton were no match for Brighton on Tuesday at Goodison Park, as they were condemned to a fourth Premier League defeat in five games.

Having stayed up by the skin of their teeth last season, Everton sit 16th with 15 points from 18 matches.

Everton might well be in the bottom three by the time they face fellow strugglers Southampton on January 14, but Lampard believes he can turn their fortunes around.

"Since I have been in here we have been in this situation, so it's not a case of fear, it's a case of just keep working," Lampard told reporters when asked if he feared for his future.

"I can't control the talk or the decisions, when you are around this area of the table this is what happens.

"You lose a game like this, I absolutely understand any reaction. I don't listen to too much of it because if you do then it becomes your focal point, so I don't focus on it.

"I'm very confident in myself and will work to turn it around. I can't predict the future. We have to try and win games — it's all we can look at."

Lampard was appointed as Rafael Benitez's successor in January 2022. Of the 36 league games he has overseen, Everton have won just nine (25 per cent), losing 19. 

Three days prior to Tuesday's defeat, Everton had frustrated Manchester City to claim a 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium, and Alex Iwobi believes a lack of consistency is the main issue.

"I don't think confidence is the issue," Iwobi told Sky Sports. "We showed how we can play against Man City.

"We can't be one minute good one minute bad. We've got to be consistent. The way we discussed in the changing room now is we all want to fix it.

"I'm confident we can get ourselves out of this."

Everton's hierarchy also faced ire from the fans that remained at Goodison Park on Tuesday, with chants of "sack the board" aimed at the directors' box.

Alexis Mac Allister has been warned against a January move by Brighton and Hove Albion boss Roberto De Zerbi.

Mac Allister won praise for a series of energetic performances for Argentina in Qatar, starting six of La Albiceleste's seven matches as they won the World Cup for a third time.

Although he signed a new three-year contract with Brighton in October, Mac Allister has been linked with some of Europe's biggest sides, with Juventus, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea credited with an interest in the 24-year-old.

On Monday, Mac Allister returned to Brighton for the first time since the tournament and told Sky Sports he was "in no rush" to move elsewhere. 

De Zerbi welcomed those comments as he insisted the AMEX Stadium was the best place for Mac Allister to continue his development.

"I spoke with him an hour ago about playing better. If he wants to stay, we're happy. It's better for him as well as for us," De Zerbi said as he previewed Tuesday's trip to Everton.

"In this moment, changing team could be a problem for him.

"We are happy for him. Now for us he's a very important player. It's better to play with him than to play without him."

Mac Allister scored twice as Brighton won 3-2 at Goodison Park in January last year, but De Zerbi will leave it late before deciding on his involvement this time around.

Asked whether Mac Allister was ready to start, De Zerbi said: "Mentally yes. Physically, I don't know. We'll decide [on Tuesday]."

Brighton fell to a 4-2 defeat in a thrilling contest against Premier League leaders Arsenal on Saturday, with De Zerbi left to lament a lack of luck.

"We are disappointed with the result. We played well," he said. "To get a good result against a big team you have to be a little lucky. We weren't lucky. 

"We had chances to open the game but Arsenal are a great team. We can lose the game, but we are disappointed with the way in which we lost the game, not only for the result, but for the way."

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

ROUND-UP

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

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

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

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

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

Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez playing together could help Manchester City to break down teams who sit back against them, according to Pep Guardiola.

City lost ground in the title race on Saturday after drawing 1-1 at home to struggling Everton, with leaders Arsenal then extending their advantage at the Premier League summit to seven points with a 4-2 victory at Brighton and Hove Albion.

Haaland had given City the lead against the Toffees, but Demarai Gray scored a superb strike to peg the champions back and hold them to just a point, putting another dent in their title hopes after losing at home to Brentford in the final game before the World Cup break.

In his attempts to win the game, Guardiola brought on World Cup winner Alvarez up top with Haaland in the 87th minute, and though it did not reward him with three points on this occasion, he says he may have to start the pair if they are to improve their results at home.

"You have two strikers who are going to score goals," City boss Guardiola said after the game.

"To create the chances you have to make the process and for the process sometimes you need other types of players to create these chances.

"But of course they can play together - especially in defence against five at the back they can play together.

"In the last minutes when it is 1-1, we needed people in a central role, in and around the box, and that's why he [Alvarez] played."

Phil Foden has come off the bench in all three of City's games since returning from the World Cup, with England team-mate Jack Grealish preferred to start over him in the last two league matches.

Asked whether Foden needs to adapt to be included in his starting line-up, Guardiola replied: "No, Phil can play in a thousand, million positions.

"When I am in the pitch and in the training sessions, I see something with my intuition and I decided to play with Jack for these games because Jack give us extra, extra, extra passes.

"When it is more vertical, Phil is better, so both can combine, both can play together but this time I decided on this line-up."

Arsenal took advantage of Manchester City again failing to win a New Year's Eve game as the Gunners stormed seven points clear at the top of the Premier League.

A 4-2 win at Brighton and Hove Albion did the job for Arsenal after Pep Guardiola's men were held 1-1 at home by Everton, meaning City remain winless in all five of their Premier League games played on December 31, drawing four and losing one.

Third-placed Newcastle United also took a stumble, drawing 0-0 at home against Leeds United in what was a league-high fourth goalless stalemate for the Magpies this season.

Elsewhere, Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse became the fifth player to score an own goal and a direct free-kick in a Premier League game and the first since Gareth Bale for Tottenham against Liverpool in November 2012. The Saints were beaten 2-1 at Fulham.

Manchester United edged out Wolves at Molineux, thanks to Marcus Rashford scoring the only goal of the game.

Guided by Opta data, Stats Perform takes a close look at some of the key statistics from the final Premier League games in 2022.

Brighton and Hove Albion 2-4 Arsenal: Saka's fast start sets the tone

Bukayo Saka put Mikel Arteta's men ahead after just 66 seconds, the earliest away goal for the Gunners in the Premier League since May 2013, when Theo Walcott netted after just 20 seconds against QPR.

Captain Martin Odegaard (seven goals, five assists in his last 13 Premier League games), Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli struck to build on that early opener, before a late wobble saw Brighton threaten to make a game of it.

Arsenal are just the fifth side in English top-flight history to pick up 43 points or more from the first 16 games in a season (assuming three points for a win).

The others are Tottenham (46 pts in 1960-61), Chelsea (43 pts in 2005-06), Manchester City (46 pts in 2017-18) and Liverpool (46 pts in 2019-20). The connection between those sides is they each went on to be champions.

Brighton are struggling at home but have a bright prospect in Evan Ferguson, who at the age of 18 years and 73 days became the club's youngest Premier League goalscorer when he grabbed the Seagulls' second.

Newcastle United 0-0 Leeds United: Out of Toon, Howe's team draw a blank

Newcastle ended the year with an outstanding 2022 record at St James' Park, collecting 41 points from 18 games (W12 D5 L1), with only Liverpool (48) and Manchester City (44) accruing more points on home turf.

This result was a disappointment, but perhaps we should have seen it coming. Despite posting an expected goals (xG) total of 2.01, which confirms they had plenty of chances to take all three points, Newcastle have now not won their final league game in any of the last six calendar years (D5 L1) since beating Nottingham Forest 3-1 in the Championship in 2016.

Leeds, scrapping to stay out of trouble in the bottom half, are unbeaten in four consecutive away league games against Newcastle for the first time (W1 D3), and their haul of four points from their last three trips away from Elland Road matches their total from their previous seven road games (W1 D1 L5).

Manchester City 1-1 Everton: Gray day as Haaland strike is not enough

This looked like being a familiar story when Erling Haaland fired City ahead in the 24th minute, but Demarai Gray's fine second-half leveller rescued a point for lowly Everton.

The result means reigning champions City, who were stunned 2-1 on home soil by Brentford before the World Cup break, have gone consecutive home games without picking up a win for the first time since losing to Leeds and Chelsea in April-May 2021.

Everton avoided defeat after falling behind at the Etihad Stadium for the first time and collected their first league point at the ground since a 1-1 draw in August 2017.

Haaland's 21 Premier League goals so far this term is the highest number scored by any player in a campaign before the turn of the year, and only Harry Kane (26) has managed more in the competition in the calendar year.

Gray's sweet strike in the 64th minute was Everton's first shot of the game, and it gave the former Leicester City winger his first away league goal since he netted in August 2021 at Brighton.

Wolves 0-1 Manchester United: Rash won't go away

Rashford came off the bench to be the hero, having been relegated to a substitute role after sleeping in and turning up late for a team meeting.

That was a rare misstep from the England man, who is showing exemplary form for United just now. Rashford has scored in three consecutive games for United for the first time since November 2019.

Rashford's classy 76th-minute finish gave him a 100th goal involvement in the Premier League (65 goals, 35 assists), and a 12th goal as a substitute in the competition. Only Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (17) and Javier Hernandez (14) have netted more off the bench for United in the competition.

Former manager Solskjaer, meanwhile, is the only boss who has reached 10 Premier League wins in fewer matches than Erik ten Hag. It took Solskjaer 12 games, while Ten Hag has needed 16 to reach the total, with his team now up to fourth spot.

United's success gave them a third consecutive away win at Wolves for the first time, while it means they have not lost their last league game of the year since a shock 3-2 reverse to Blackburn Rovers in 2011, winning eight and drawing three of their year-ending fixtures since.

Pep Guardiola remains optimistic about Manchester City's performances despite Demarai Gray's stunning equaliser denting the champions' title hopes on New Year's Eve.

Gray picked out the top-right corner with Everton's first shot of the game after 64 minutes at the Etihad Stadium, cancelling out Erling Haaland's opener in a stop-start 1-1 draw.

Having lost to Brentford before the World Cup, City have now failed to win in back-to-back home league games for the first time since May 2021 and remain without a Premier League victory on December 31 (D4 L1).

While City's dropped points handed Arsenal the initiative in an intriguing battle at the top of the table, Guardiola saw no reason to criticise his team's performance.

"Great game. We've played really well in the last three games and it makes me feel optimistic," he told BBC Sport.

"Dropping points at home is always tough, but I'm always trying to make our game good, and we have continued to do it.

"I would say they had eight at the back. In that situation, it's about movement and attacking at the right moment. In general we did it. We didn't allow them transitions. 

"They made a fantastic goal and when that happens you say congratulations, but in general we did really well."

However, defender John Stones was less positive, bemoaning City's failure to find a second goal against a resilient Everton side.

"I don't really know what to say. I feel like we've lost two points," the former Toffees centre-back said. "That's football. 

"We controlled the game for the majority of the time and had a lot of chances, but we couldn't seem to get that goal.

"It's difficult to take after the game. We showed great character to keep fighting and pushing. It was a bit of a scrappy game.

"We conceded two shots all game, but it's overlooked because of that incredible goal. On reflection, we'll be more positive when we look back, I'm sure."

Demarai Gray's stunning equaliser dented Manchester City's Premier League title bid and eased the pressure on Frank Lampard as Everton claimed a 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Lampard's struggling team looked set for more misery when Erling Haaland continued his incredible goalscoring form in the first half, sweeping home to hand City the lead.

Everton failed to register a single shot until the 64th minute, but they only needed one chance as Gray whipped a brilliant effort into the top-right corner to cap a devastating break.

Pep Guardiola's men looked startled by Gray's intervention, as their failure to find a winner handed Arsenal the initiative in the title race on New Year's Eve.

Haaland went close early on when he hit the side-netting from a tight angle after rounding Jordan Pickford, but he was not to be denied 24 minutes in.

Jack Grealish's neat work down the left allowed Riyad Mahrez to square for Haaland, who finished beyond Pickford in a crowded penalty area to put City ahead.

Former Everton defender John Stones hit the post with a diving header as half-time approached, and City appeared destined to add to their lead as they pinned the Toffees back. 

However, the visitors silenced the Etihad with their first attempt of the game after the hour mark, with Gray breaking clear and recovering from a stumble to arc a terrific effort into the far corner from the left of the area.

Pickford denied Mahrez from close range as City threw players forward in desperation late on, but Everton stood firm through 11 minutes of stoppage time to claim a huge point towards their survival bid – much to the delight of Arsenal.

Frank Lampard tried and failed to bring "amazing" striker Erling Haaland to Chelsea during his time as the Blues' manager.

Haaland has taken the Premier League by storm since signing for Manchester City from Borussia Dortmund in June.

The Norway international became the fastest player to score 20 Premier League goals with his double in City's 3-1 win over Leeds United on Wednesday, doing so in just 14 games, seven less than previous record-holder Kevin Phillips.

A home game against strugglers Everton, who lost 2-1 to Wolves thanks to a late Rayan Ait-Nouri goal on Boxing Day, should provide Haaland with an ideal opportunity to cap 2022 off on a high note.

Now manager of Everton, Lampard recalled trying to sign Haaland for Chelsea during his spell as their boss between 2019 and 2021.

Lampard told reporters: "He is an amazing player and the ultimate top-level players generally can do what he does in a top-level league.

"With a player of that talent, of course at any moment they can hurt you.

"I coached against him in a pre-season game when he was playing for Salzburg. I tried to sign him for Chelsea and it was not to be.

"It was clear in our pre-match preparation what this boy was. Fair play to him.

"We are going against him and I respect those at the top of their game. I watched the World Cup final with [Kylian] Mbappe and [Lionel] Messi, and Haaland has got himself in that bracket at a very young age."

Everton will be hoping to have their own number nine fit to feature at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, with Lampard confirming Dominic Calvert-Lewin will be in his squad to take on the champions.

Calvert-Lewin's injury issues from last season have persisted, with the 25-year-old managing just six appearances this term.

"We've gone into a season where we've lost Richarlison and haven't really had Dominic, barring a few games," said Lampard, whose team have scored only 12 league goals this season, 31 fewer than City's tally of 43.

"We haven't had him, but not for the want of trying. It's injury. When you lose that firepower it might not be easy to replace in terms of pure goals and output.

"Having Dominic back in the fold is a great thing for us because players who can make the difference at the top end of the pitch like that mean points. It's as simple as that.

"We'll look and see what we can do in the January window to see what options we can have to start a game, change a game from the bench. We're looking at lots of players."

Uncertainty about Jordan Pickford's future with Everton has piqued the interest of fellow Premier League sides including Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea.

Pickford, 28, is in his sixth season as Everton's shot stopper, having risen through the international ranks to become England's number one in the process.

He started all five of England's World Cup games to reach 50 international caps, keeping clean sheets against Senegal, Wales and the United States.

While he is reportedly happy to stay at Everton long-term, the club are reportedly continuing to drag their feet with regard to his contract extension, sending up a signal that he could be available for the right price.


TOP STORY – ELITE CLUBS CIRCLE ENGLAND'S TOP GOALKEEPER

According to the Daily Mail, Pickford agreed to a five-year contract extension before heading to Qatar for the World Cup, but the club are yet to sign off on it, with the delay coming at boardroom level.

The report states it is still more likely that the deal is finalised than not, but their hesitance has caught the eye of some top English sides who are seeking a long-term solution between the sticks.

United are looking to move on from David de Gea, as are Tottenham with Hugo Lloris, while Chelsea are also in the market following Edouard Mendy's rejection of a six-year contract, calling the proposed financials "disrespectful", per an earlier Daily Mail report.

Pickford's current contract has 18 months remaining, so if Everton do not or cannot extend him, the time to sell will be rapidly approaching.


ROUND-UP

– The Evening Standard is reporting Arsenal will return with another bid for 21-year-old Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhailo Mudryk after their £55million offer was rejected.

– According to AS, Real Madrid are planning a 2024 move for Bayern Munich left-back Alphonso Davies.

Newcastle United are interested in bringing in 31-year-old Chelsea midfielder Jorginho on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season, per the Daily Mail.

– Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting Inter will look to Bayern Munich right-back Noussair Mazraoui as the replacement for Denzel Dumfries should the Netherlands international leave the club in the near future.

Inter are also pursuing Borussia Monchengladbach forward Marcus Thuram, who has interest from Premier League sides Arsenal, Aston Villa and Tottenham, per 90min.

Chelsea are reportedly closing in on a loan deal for Atletico Madrid club-record signing Joao Felix in January.

Felix, 23, was signed in 2019 for €126million after winning the European Golden Boy award with Benfica, shattering Atletico's previous transfer record of Thomas Lemar by over €50m.

However, despite netting 33 goals for his new club, Felix has struggled to consistently earn a spot in their starting XI, with seven of his 12 LaLiga appearances this season coming as a substitute.

Having made such a substantial investment, Atletico are not willing to sell him at a massive loss just yet, and while they have made him available for transfer, a loan move to rehabilitate his value appears far more likely.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA LOOK TO LOAN DEAL TO ADDRESS FORWARD WOES

Chelsea have been actively seeking reinforcements up front, but with significant investment also planned in defence, a cheaper loan deal could be the band-aid solution for their goalscoring issues.

The Telegraph is reporting Chelsea and Atletico are deep in discussions about a deal that would involve either an option or an obligation to turn the loan into a permanent move at the conclusion of the season.

ESPN added Atletico will also demand a loan fee in the range of €9m for the half-season rental.

It remains to be seen if Chelsea can afford to secure a quality forward option in January on a permanent basis, with Fabrizio Romano reporting they are also in the final stages of negotiations for a €35m purchase of 21-year-old Monaco centre-back Benoit Badiashile.

 

ROUND-UP

– According to CBS, Cristiano Ronaldo has a medical scheduled with Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr ahead of signing a contract that will pay him €70m per year.

– The Telegraph is reporting Arsenal have submitted a £55m bid for 21-year-old Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhaylo Mudryk.

Napoli will look to sign 26-year-old Wolves winger Adama Traore in January as he enters the final six months of his contract, per Calciomercato.

– The Daily Mail is reporting Everton are one of a number of Premier League clubs showing interest in 20-year-old Manchester United winger Anthony Elanga.

– According to journalist Ekrem Konur, Premier League teams including West Ham, Everton and Aston Villa are considering offers for 28-year-old Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Jordan Pickford and Anthony Gordon are "very close" to committing their future to Everton amid transfer speculation, manager Frank Lampard claimed on Friday.

The Everton goalkeeper was again an integral figure as England reached the World Cup quarter-finals in Qatar, while Gordon was repeatedly linked to Chelsea in the last transfer window.

A Stamford Bridge move never materialised for the 21-year-old winger, who has scored three times in 14 Premier League appearances this season.

Tottenham are reportedly interested in Pickford, but Lampard does not expect the pair – along with the rejuvenated Alex Iwobi – to leave Goodison Park in the near future.

"We're in a situation where we want them to stay, and they want to stay – that's always been the feeling – so we are very close," Lampard said ahead of Monday's Premier League clash with Wolves.

"I don't want to speak for him, but Jordan feels very happy at this club. That's the impression I get. We are a huge club with a big history and big ambition, and he is a big part of that.

"Maybe, I was fortunate to play in the Champions League a lot, but when I felt comfortable at a club, I came in with a smile on my face every day and I looked forward to every game.

"If Jordan feels like that, and we can match each other's ambitions, I don't see that as a problem."

While Lampard does not envisage any key players departing in January, the former Chelsea midfielder wants to make Conor Coady's move to Everton a permanent deal.

Coady is ineligible to face parent club Wolves, with the centre-back and Pickford still reeling from England's World Cup exit at the hands of France.

"Conor has been brilliant since he's been here in every possible way," Lampard added. "I would like to make that permanent at some point. That's not happening right now, but we will keep looking at that one.

"Conor and Jordan are great because they are low maintenance. It will have hurt them – as it did the whole nation – to leave the tournament because we felt we were doing well.

"There's not much worse than that moment [when you go out]. But the beauty of this tournament being in mid-season is that they come straight back to their clubs and the Premier League, and they know how highly we regard them.

"Obviously, Conor can't play on Monday, but they've come back with a really good attitude."

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