Manchester City have become a shock suitor for disgruntled Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, with his contract set to expire at the end of this season.

Pogba, 29, has previously spoken about regretting his move to Old Trafford, and had been expected to leave the Premier League in the upcoming transfer window, being strongly linked with Barcelona and Real Madrid.

While the Frenchman has highlighted his desire to compete for trophies, he may not have to leave the city to get his wish, with a chance to insert himself into Manchester football folklore if he ditches the red for sky blue.

 

TOP STORY – CITY TO OFFER POGBA FOUR-YEAR DEAL WITH FREE TRANSFER

The Daily Mail is reporting City have interest in bringing in Pogba on a free transfer, while the Guardian claims the French midfielder would like to work with Pep Guardiola, and that the club are willing to offer a four-year deal.

If he makes the move, Pogba would be arguably the biggest name to ever make the switch, rivalling Carlos Tevez, but the Guardian report notes he would be taking a pay cut in doing so.

It is not known if offers coming from Spain would be more lucrative financially, but arguably no team can offer a better chance at European and domestic success than City.

In 154 Premier League appearances since his arrival in 2016, Pogba has scored 29 goals and laid on 41 assists.

 

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– The Telegraph is reporting Brighton and Hove Albion manager Graham Potter is considered the favourite to replace Antonio Conte at Tottenham if he is to leave at the end of the season. Brighton are said to be seeking compensation of £10million from Spurs in the agreement.

Manchester United are interested in 19-year-old French striker Hugo Ekitike from Reims, according to the Daily Mail.

– Football London is reporting Chelsea are considering a move for Torino defender Gleison Bremer.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, Monaco will not accept less than €70m for Liverpool defender Aurelien Tchouameni.

– The Liverpool Echo is reporting Liverpool have agreed to a £7m deal for Fulham's 19-year-old Portuguese forward Marco Silva.

Sean Dyche deserves a statue outside Turf Moor after his dismissal by Burnley, according to Brentford head coach Thomas Frank.

Burnley opted to sack Dyche on Friday, with the announcement a surprise despite the Clarets' relegation battle – they are 18th in the table and four points adrift of safety.

Dyche's side had managed just one win from their past seven matches, with five defeats in that streak, but many have questioned why Burnley parted ways with their manager after nearly a decade-long association.

He guided the Clarets to five straight survivals in the Premier League, having previously followed promotion in his first season with relegation back to the Championship.

Dyche, who led Burnley into Europe for the first time in 51 years, was also the longest-reigning manager in the league but now becomes the 10th different boss to lose his job in the top tier this season.

Frank believes Dyche's efforts should be celebrated as he expressed confusion over the decision of the Clarets board.

"They got promoted. They got relegated. They got promoted again. They've been here, what, six or seven years in the Premier League? It's remarkable what they've done," he said.

"Sean Dyche and his coaching staff, everyone involved with the football club, have done an unbelievable job. Sean Dyche deserves a lot of credit – they should build a statue of him outside Turf Moor.

"I remember there was one year when [you thought], 'How can he not be Manager of the Year?'. So, I think he's done a top job."

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher labelled the decision a "joke", as he posted on Twitter: "If you [Burnley] had given him a decent budget you would never have had a worry about getting relegated."

Veteran Roy Hodgson, who is attempting to battle the drop with Watford, was similarly bemused by the news.

"Of all the people in the league, he would have been one of the ones I would have thought most likely to survive anything like this, so I have no idea what's happened," Hodgson said.

"Something must have happened because you don't part company with a manager like Sean Dyche after all the fantastic things he's done for that club over the last 10 years. He has built the club."

Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter also added he was "surprised", while Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta heaped praise on Dyche.

"He gave the club a really clear identity, he's managed to keep the team, with one of the smallest budgets, consistently in the league," the Arsenal boss said. 

"I wish him the best of luck and as always with colleagues, it's sad when you see those decisions."

Graham Potter is relishing the chance of going up against Cristiano Ronaldo, and the Brighton and Hove Albion boss believes the Manchester United star's troubles have been overblown.

Ronaldo has not scored or provided an assist since December 30, a run of six matches across all competitions.

The 37-year-old has created just six chances for team-mates across that run, while he has missed both of the big chances (defined by Opta as an opportunity from which a player would be expected to score) that have come his way.

He has only registered an expected goals (xG) above 1.0 in one of those matches, against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup (1.6). Ronaldo missed a penalty in normal time before United crashed out in a shoot-out.

 

Indeed, he has only recorded an xG of over 0.5 on one other occasion across the last six games, suggesting the chances that are coming his way are not the best, or he is perhaps taking on shots that would be unlikely to result in a goal.

This is further reinforced by the fact Ronaldo has got just seven of his last 23 attempts on target.

Potter, however, does not buy the suggestion that Ronaldo is out of form.

"You run out of superlatives in terms of what he's achieved in his career and the player that he is," Potter, who is about to reach his 100th league game in charge of Brighton, told a news conference.

"He's had an absolutely amazing career, world-class, it's out-of-this-world class. There's nothing else to say with that.

"Too often we zoom into individuals and forget it's a team game. Sometimes when the team isn't scoring, the person at the front of the pitch gets the zooming in.

"From what I've seen, you still see the quality he has and the quality he brings to the group and the team.

"I've never played against him, we're looking forward to going there and pitting our wits against one of the best players of all time."

Ralf Rangnick has lamented United's profligate finishing at one end, and sloppy defending at the other.

He is right, though. United have been creating opportunities, mustering an xG of 23.3 since Rangnick's first game in charge on December 5, but they have scored just 17 times, giving them the third-largest xG-goals differential among all teams in Europe's top five leagues in that time (-6.3).

 

Potter is all too familiar with such a statistic, with Brighton having had an xG differential of -11.7 in the Premier League last season, having scored 40 goals from an xG of 51.7.

Brighton are still underperforming in that regard so far in 2021-22, but by only 3.8, netting 25 league goals from an xG of 28.8 so far.

However, his team have won 19 points away from home in the Premier League this season, with no side losing fewer on the road this term.

"Regardless of what the narrative around Manchester United is, you only have to look at the players that they have," Potter added.

"Going to Old Trafford in itself is a huge challenge because the crowd are so powerful there; the way they play, in a moment the game can completely change because they've got world-class players.

"The game is another test for us to see how our game has developed in as tough an away environment as you can get."

Time off is the only antidote to Chelsea's ongoing malaise, according to Thomas Tuchel. 

The Blues were held to a 1-1 draw at Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday, extending their winless streak in the Premier League to four matches – their worst such run under Tuchel. 

Chelsea have won just one of their past seven top-flight matches and sit 12 points adrift of leaders Manchester City, who have a game in hand. 

The meeting with Brighton was Chelsea's 15th game in all competitions since the start of December and Tuchel believes the only way they can get back on track for a prolonged period is through rest. 

"We look tired. And we are. It's like this," Tuchel told BT Sport after Adam Webster's header cancelled out Hakim Ziyech's opener. 

"We knew they were well prepared, they had more time to prepare and you saw at the end the stadium celebrates like a victory. That's what you face. 

"We need our full strength to overcome these obstacles. In these moments there's no blame for the team. We tried everything. We are mentally and physically tired. We need some days off, there's no other solution. 

"We have two days off then we have two days to prepare the match against Tottenham. There's no other solution." 

Tuchel was critical of Ziyech after the 1-0 loss to City at the weekend and the former Ajax winger did not celebrate his first-half goal. He was also regularly engaged in heated conversations with Romelu Lukaku. 

The Chelsea boss was unbothered by either of those aspects, though.

"I am happy. [Ziyech] can score 20 more and not celebrate, I have no problem," said Tuchel. 

"It's normal that they talk. It's normal they're not happy and they don't like it if we say we want more from them. In the reaction to the goal, you can see we are tired because we are saving energy even there." 

Brighton boss Graham Potter said: "We're really pleased and proud of the performance, definitely. We gave Chelsea a good game. Our performance was full of everything. 

"It's not easy because they have some top players but the courage of our defenders... The boys played on the front foot as much as they could. They scored from not much, but it was a performance I really enjoyed. 

"We were well in the game and the boys could feel it was a good performance. Chelsea don't give much away, so you have to work for everything. We could maybe test the goalkeeper more, but I thought we had everything." 

Jurgen Klopp was left frustrated after a 2-2 draw against Brighton and Hove Albion, conceding that Liverpool were "not good enough" in the second half.

The Reds manager saw his team throw away a two-goal lead on Saturday, and they could even have lost it as the Seagulls pushed as hard as the hosts for a winner in the final quarter of the game.

Early goals from Jordan Henderson and Sadio Mane were cancelled out by a fantastic strike from Enock Mwepu before the break, and then a second-half equaliser from Leandro Trossard.

Liverpool also had two goals disallowed, with Mane denied from making it 3-0 in the first half by VAR after the ball ricocheted off his arm when closing down Robert Sanchez, while Mohamed Salah saw his strike ruled out for offside, which would have extended his scoring run to 11 games.

Speaking to BBC Match of the Day, Klopp said: "It feels like a defeat. It's not only because we were 2-0 up and didn't win, it's because the game I saw, we scored two of the most beautiful goals I've ever seen us score, which were disallowed.

"The pressing goal for Sadio was just unlucky, if you want to teach pressing, you would show this situation. But disallowed for handball, I guess.

"Top moments in the first half where we showed how we can hurt Brighton, played some top passes through the centre and played really good football but were only 2-0 up.

"In the second half, we were not good enough. The body language I didn't like it at all. It was like 'oh my God, it's really tough'. Yeah, it was clear before the game.

"The best way to defend Brighton is to have the ball yourself and play in the spaces where they are exposed, but we didn't do that and that's a problem."

 

 

Meanwhile, Brighton manager Graham Potter was delighted with the effort from his team, and hailed it a "fantastic game of football".

"It's a fantastic performance, the players deserve all the credit. They've played with such courage and intensity, it was a fantastic game of football. Both teams went at it, we were toe-to-toe. It's a point for us and a performance we can build on.

"It could have been 3-0 but instead it was 2-1. Those little things need to go your way, but I think our second goal was really well worked. You could tell the crowd was frustrated and that's a sign of how well we were playing.

"It's a fantastic game of football against a wonderful opponent. We're happy with a point, delighted with the performance.

"There's a nice belief in the team, a nice togetherness and resilience. They believe in each other. I'm really pleased because they put so much into that game today."

Everton continue their search for Carlo Ancelotti's replacement.

One emerging candidate has plenty of familiarity with Liverpool. 

Could the Toffees turn to a former rival? 

 

TOP STORY – BENITEZ IN MERSEYSIDE RETURN?

Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has emerged as a strong contender to replace Carlo Ancelotti at Everton, the Daily Mirror and other outlets report. 

As the Merseyside club's interest in former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has faded, majority owner Farhad Moshiri apparently plans to speak to the 61-year-old Benitez. 

The Spaniard was Liverpool's manager from 2004-10, winning the Champions League title in 2005. He spent 18 months in charge of Chinese Super League club Dalian Professional before leaving by mutual consent in January. 

Others under consideration include Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter, former Lille coach Christophe Galtier and former Toffees boss Roberto Martinez

 

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- Chelsea have matched Paris Saint-Germain's offer of about €65million (£56.1m) to Inter for Achraf Hakimi, according to Sky Sport Italia, though Inter value the 22-year-old at €81m (£70m).

- Barcelona see Manchester City's Raheem Sterling as a potential replacement for Ousmane Dembele should the France international depart, according to Sport, and Marca says PSG have interest in Dembele. 

- David de Gea seems inclined to extend his stay at Manchester United and expects to be the first-choice goalkeeper ahead of Dean Henderson, The Sun reports. 

- Atletico Madrid rejected United's £10m bid for England right-back Kieran Trippier, according to Football Insider. 

- Roma are close to completing their long-rumoured signing of Arsenal's Granit Xhaka, Corriere dello Sport claims. 

- West Ham would like to sign Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard on a permanent deal, The Sun reports. 

- Tottenham have had discussions with Borussia Monchengladbach winger Marcus Thuram, RMC Sport reports, and The Athletic says Spurs could also be eyeing RB Leipzig's Marcel Sabitzer

- Former Roma coach Paulo Fonseca has emerged as Spurs' preferred option to replace Jose Mourinho and the sides have discussed a three-year contract, the Guardian reports. 

- Former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard could be in the mix for the Crystal Palace opening, the Daily Mirror reports. 

Referee Lee Mason was criticised for making a "horrendous decision" after controversially ruling out a Brighton goal in an eventful Premier League clash with West Brom.

The battle between two teams struggling at the bottom end of the table was settled in favour of West Brom thanks to Kyle Bartley's goal in the 11th minute.

However, Lewis Dunk's quickly taken free-kick appeared to have drawn Brighton level in the first half, his attempt coming with goalkeeper Sam Johnstone still situated by his post while lining up a defensive wall for the home team. 

Mason, who had appeared to blow his whistle to allow the game to be restarted, initially awarded the goal, then disallowed the strike instead.

A further delay in proceedings then followed when the on-field official was told to check the pitchside monitor following communication with video assistant referee (VAR) Simon Hooper.

The check appeared to be concerning the possible presence of an attacking player in an offside position, though it was then announced the goal had been ruled out as Mason had actually sounded his whistle for a second time before the ball crossed the line.

Dunk, however, was far from impressed by the eventual outcome.

"It's embarrassing, it's a horrendous decision," the Brighton captain told Sky Sports. "I said to the referee, 'Can I take it?'. He blew his whistle and I took it.

"I don't think he knew what he was doing. He gave the goal, why did he give it? I don't know why VAR was getting involved, he said: 'Goal'. You can look on the video, if you want."

Asked if Mason lost control of the game, the defender replied: "Yeah he did. Fact."

Brighton slipped to defeat at the Hawthorns despite having just over 70 per cent of possession and 15 attempts.

They also contrived to waste not one but two penalties, in the process becoming the first team in Premier League history to miss two spot-kicks by hitting the woodwork in a single game.

Pascal Gross squandered the first opportunity from 12 yards out in the opening half, while Danny Welbeck was also unsuccessful in the 75th minute having taken over penalty duties for the visitors.

The Seagulls will return south wondering quite how they managed to come away without anything from the fixture, but victory for West Brom boosts their survival hopes.

Sam Allardyce's side remain 19th in the table but have closed the gap down to eight points on 17th-placed Newcastle United, who sit a point and a place below Brighton ahead of hosting Wolves later on Saturday.

Offering his version of events over the free-kick goal that never was, match-winner Bartley told Sky Sports: "The ref blew his whistle he said to speak to someone in the wall, there was a bit of pushing.

"There was a bit of confusion but Lee Mason dealt with it really well and came to the right conclusion. It was a bit confusing, I don't think it would have been right for them to score like that."

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