Manchester United have reportedly made Tottenham striker Harry Kane their top priority when addressing their attacking options at the end of the season.

Kane, 29, has already stamped his legacy as one of the Premier League's greatest ever strikers, sitting third on the all-time goals list in the competition with 201. He also owns the record for the most goals ever scored for Tottenham (268) and is tied for the most goals representing England (53).

Despite his decorated personal resume, Tottenham are set for a 15th consecutive season without any silverware, and with their Champions League hopes for next campaign hanging on by a thread, they may have run out of time to prove to their star striker why he should stay.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED DETERMINED TO BRING KANE TO OLD TRAFFORD

According to the Manchester Evening News, Erik ten Hag has identified Kane as his primary target.

The report adds that they remain interested in Napoli's Victor Osimhen, as well as Benfica's Goncalo Ramos, but Kane is the top priority if they can make it happen.

With only one more season remaining on his contract, Kane will likely get his wish to leave if he decides he will certainly not sign a new deal, as the club would be risking a potential £100million sale if they hold onto him through the next transfer deadline.

But just because Tottenham may sell him does not mean he would land at Old Trafford, with Bayern Munich's well-documented interest still prevalent.

 

ROUND-UP

– Calciomercato is reporting Inter are interested in bringing in towering 24-year-old Italian striker Gianluca Scamacca from West Ham after a disappointing first season in the Premier League.

– According to Mundo Deportivo, 25-year-old Tottenham striker Richarlison is a candidate to replace Karim Benzema at Real Madrid, while Calciomercato adds Juventus are also keeping a close eye on Richarlison's availability.

Roberto Firmino has offered his services to Barcelona as he seeks a new team for next season, per Sport.

– Football Insider is reporting Manchester United are in "pole position" to meet the £70m (€79m) asking price to sign 25-year-old Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, despite his repeated comments that he has no interest in leaving Spain.

– Journalist Rudy Galetti claims Chelsea are interested in a pair of 28-year-old centre backs – Aymeric Laporte of Manchester City and Atletico Madrid's Jose Gimenez.

Manchester United have reportedly made Tottenham striker Harry Kane their top priority when addressing their attacking options at the end of the season.

Kane, 29, has already stamped his legacy as one of the Premier League's greatest ever strikers, sitting third on the all-time goals list in the competition with 201. He also owns the record for the most goals ever scored for Tottenham (268) and is tied for the most goals representing England (53).

Despite his decorated personal resume, Tottenham are set for a 15th consecutive season without any silverware, and with their Champions League hopes for next campaign hanging on by a thread, they may have run out of time to prove to their star striker why he should stay.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED DETERMINED TO BRING KANE TO OLD TRAFFORD

According to the Manchester Evening News, Erik ten Hag has identified Kane as his primary target.

The report adds that they remain interested in Napoli's Victor Osimhen, as well as Benfica's Goncalo Ramos, but Kane is the top priority if they can make it happen.

With only one more season remaining on his contract, Kane will likely get his wish to leave if he decides he will certainly not sign a new deal, as the club would be risking a potential £100million sale if they hold onto him through the next transfer deadline.

But just because Tottenham may sell him does not mean he would land at Old Trafford, with Bayern Munich's well-documented interest still prevalent.

 

ROUND-UP

– Calciomercato is reporting Inter are interested in bringing in towering 24-year-old Italian striker Gianluca Scamacca from West Ham after a disappointing first season in the Premier League.

– According to Mundo Deportivo, 25-year-old Tottenham striker Richarlison is a candidate to replace Karim Benzema at Real Madrid, while Calciomercato adds Juventus are also keeping a close eye on Richarlison's availability.

Roberto Firmino has offered his services to Barcelona as he seeks a new team for next season, per Sport.

– Football Insider is reporting Manchester United are in "pole position" to meet the £70m (€79m) asking price to sign 25-year-old Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, despite his repeated comments that he has no interest in leaving Spain.

– Journalist Rudy Galetti claims Chelsea are interested in a pair of 28-year-old centre backs – Aymeric Laporte of Manchester City and Atletico Madrid's Jose Gimenez.

Harry Maguire's future at Manchester United is unclear, having fallen down the pecking order under Erik ten Hag.

The United club captain is contracted until 2025 and his deal includes £200,000 per week wages.

Maguire has only started one of United's last eight Premier League games and did not play in Thursday's Europa League win over Real Betis.

TOP STORY – PSG SET FOR SHOCK MAGUIRE MOVE

Paris Saint-Germain are set for a shock £50million (€56m) move for Manchester United defender Harry Maguire, according to The Sun.

It has been claimed that Maguire is among a list of players that United are willing to sell in the off-season with Newcastle United and West Ham reportedly interested.

According to The Sun's report, PSG tabled a deal for Maguire in January, but time ran out to finalise it and the French champions will move again for him.

ROUND-UP

– The Independent reports Real Madrid are plotting an overhaul to bring in a new generation of young stars, with Manchester City's Erling Haaland top of the list along with Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham.

– The Guardian reports Manchester United will enter the race to sign Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount, with interest also from Liverpool and Newcastle United. Mount and Chelsea are currently in the middle of a contract dispute, potentially making him available, with United viewing him as a cheaper alternative to Bellingham.

–  Barcelona are in the market to sign Manchester City's Portuguese full-back Joao Cancelo if Bayern Munich do not make permanent his loan spell, claims Sport.

Newcastle are circling to sign Southampton free-kick specialist James Ward-Prowse, according to Football Insider. Newcastle are one of numerous Premier League clubs interested in him.

– Gazzetta dello Sport reports Inter have tabled a two-year contract offer to Edin Dzeko amid interest from West Ham.

– L'Equipe claims PSG are ramping up their bid to sign Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva in the off-season.

LaLiga has filed a complaint at a Seville court after Vinicius Junior was again subjected to racist abuse in Real Madrid's goalless draw at Real Betis on Sunday.

Vinicius suffered racist abuse at two matches against Atletico Madrid this season, while similar incidents have been reported at games against Real Mallorca and Real Valladolid.

Footage captured a Betis supporter shouting racist insults at Vinicius during Sunday's stalemate at the Estadio Benito Villamarin, leading LaLiga to resort to legal action once again.

A statement from the league read: "In view of the racist insults directed towards Vinicius Junior during the Real Betis-Real Madrid match on Sunday, March 5, LaLiga has sent a complaint to the Seville Court of Instruction in order to identify the person responsible and to take the appropriate legal measures.

"This is the seventh complaint made to the relevant authorities by LaLiga regarding racist insults against Vinicius Junior."

Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti last month said racism was a problem throughout Spanish football, adding: "Vinicius is the victim of something that I don't understand. It must be solved."

 

It has been reported that Manchester United will look to maintain the momentum gained from this season with three major signings.

Manager Erik ten Hag is said to have an illustrious shortlist of priority targets, including numerous forwards.

But the Red Devils will likely want to bolster their midfield ranks to support Casemiro, Bruno Fernandes, Christian Eriksen and Fred.

TOP STORY – MAN UTD TO LAUNCH BUMPER CAMAVINGA BID

Fichajes reports Manchester United are planning a bumper £115million (€130m) offer for Real Madrid's French midfielder Eduardo Camavinga.

The report claims United are major admirers of Camavinga, who has not fully convinced since his move to Santiago Bernabeu in August 2021.

United view the 20-year-old as a major world-class talent, although Los Blancos may be reluctant to let him go.

 

ROUND-UP

– ESPN claims Harry Maguire is on the chopping block at Old Trafford with Manchester United looking to sell several first-players including the England defender. Newcastle United are the favourites to sign him while West Ham are in contention, reports 90min.

Paris Saint-Germain are circling for Newcastle United's Dutch defender Sven Botman, reports iNews. Botman previously spent time in France with Lille.

Vinicius Junior could leave Real Madrid, with president Florentino Perez open to letting him go in order to sign PSG's Kylian Mbappe, claims El Desmarque. Vinicius Junior and Madrid are yet to agree on a new deal with the Brazilian's contract expiring in 2024.

Eden Hazard will not exit Real Madrid anytime soon, with the Belgian midfielder intending to remain with Los Blancos until his contract expires in 2024, according to The Athletic.

– CBS Sports claims Arsenal's Reiss Nelson has drawn interest from French club Nice along with Premier League outfit Brighton and Hove Albion. Nelson netted a dramatic late winner in the Gunners' 3-2 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday.

Bayern Munich are on the verge of tabling new contract offers to Lucas Hernandez and Jamal Musiala , per Fabrizio Romano. Agreement on the Hernandez deal is imminent, while new Musiala's long-term contract is a priority.

Mikel Arteta remains "fully focused" on guiding Arsenal to Premier League glory this season amid rumours he is wanted by Real Madrid to replace Carlo Ancelotti.

Arsenal are five points clear of Manchester City at the top of the English top flight in pursuit of their first title since the 2003-04 campaign.

Arteta has been widely praised for his work at Emirates Stadium in his third full season in charge, with a report from Spain on Wednesday suggesting Madrid could make a move.

Ancelotti is said to be under pressure as Madrid head coach, despite guiding the club to a LaLiga and Champions League double last season.

However, when asked about the speculation ahead of Arsenal's Europa League last-16 first-leg tie with Sporting CP, Arteta said he is giving it little thought.

"It's things that managers or players can’t control, what is written," he said at Wednesday's pre-match press conference. 

"What I can tell you is that I'm fully focused on what I'm doing here and extremely proud and grateful to do what I'm doing in this football club. That's it."

Arteta's focus will switch from the Premier League to Europa League on Thursday when Arsenal take on Portuguese heavyweights Sporting at Estadio Jose Alvalade.

It is the third of six games in the space of 18 days for the Gunners, but Arteta hinted he will not look to rotate his squad for the European tie.

"We have one team and we have to play the games with the best possible players to win it," he said. "There have been moments where we have made eight changes. 

"We try to accommodate. Players have moments throughout the season where they're available and when they're not. For sure we will try to pick the best team to win the game.

"Of course everyone wants to play. It's true as well when we've wanted to rotate players they've been injured and unavailable. Tomorrow that may be the case. 

"Sometimes it's been difficult and players have to deserve to play the minutes. Being fair in football is very difficult. 

"You have to be really good at communicating your decisions to help players understand what you do, but all the time you have to think for the best of the team. 

"We want everybody to feel important and we are going to try to make them feel like that."

Gabriel Jesus took part in training on the eve of the Sporting match, but Arteta gave little away when asked if the striker could make his first appearance since November.

"News on the squad will be tomorrow," he said. "We have brought a few players and you will see who is available."

Asked if Kieran Tierney, Leandro Trossard and Eddie Nketiah are available, Arteta said: "Let’s see how they evolve. 

"We're trying to accommodate everybody and get them in the best position for tomorrow."

LaLiga has refuted claims made in a Spanish newspaper that the league is in danger of financial collapse and will now take legal action.

El Espanol published an article titled "LaLiga in the face of economic collapse: DAZN and CVC are considering breaking their contracts with Javier Tebas".

The report suggested two crucial partners were considering their relationships, with Jorge Calabres saying "Spanish football is in an extreme situation" as DAZN and CVC study the possibility of breaking their contracts.

However, LaLiga issued a swift response on Wednesday rejecting the claims.

They said in the statement it was "absolutely false that DAZN and CVC are studying breaking their contracts with LaLiga".

The statement added: "It is surprising that, despite not having confirmation from DAZN and CVC, Jorge Calabres and El Espanol have published this false news, citing unspecified "sources in the sector". 

"It is also worrying that neither the aforementioned journalist nor any other person from El Espanol has contacted LaLiga to verify the information, in yet another lack of journalistic rigour and professionalism. 

"The latter is not surprising, given the obvious campaign of personal attack that El Espanol and Jorge Calabres are in against LaLiga and its president, Javier Tebas, through continuous false, manipulated or misrepresented publications in recent months.

"We will take legal action against those responsible for this publication, and against all those who disseminate these falsehoods, in defence of our interests and those of the clubs."

Among a host of other reasons, the report claimed CVC was considering its position because LaLiga were unable to guarantee the long-term participation of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

El Espanol reported that if an early termination clause was triggered, CVC could end its contract and ask LaLiga clubs for its investment to be returned with six per cent interest.

But LaLiga said these concerns were untrue and Tebas, LaLiga's president, also criticised the report personally, slamming the article as "fake news".

Barcelona are nine points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the table this season, as the Catalan club seek what would be their first LaLiga title in four years.

Mason Mount's future at Chelsea remains uncertain, with his current deal due to expire in 2024.

Mount has rebuffed multiple contract offers from the Blues, prompting speculation he could move on.

Chelsea are determined to hang on to the 24-year-old but if they cannot, the optimal time to sell may be at the end of this season.

TOP STORY – MAGPIES TO RIVAL REDS IN MOUNT RACE

Newcastle United will join the pursuit to sign Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount at the end of this season, claims the Daily Mail.

Liverpool have been linked with Mount given his contract status, but the Magpies could rival that interest given their deep pockets.

Financial Fair Play rules may limit Newcastle's ability to land Mount having spent £165million this season on Alexander Isak, Anthony Gordon, Sven Botman and others.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Sun claims Arsenal's top two priorities for the off-season are signing Napoli forward Victor Osimhen and West Ham United's Declan Rice. The Nigerian, who has interest from Manchester United too, wants to play in the Premier League one day.

Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool all retain interest in Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Moises Caicedo despite penning a new deal until 2027 last week, claims Football Insider. According to the report, Brighton's asking price is upwards of £90m.

– Footmercato reports Real Madrid head of recruitment Juni Calafat met with Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham at a London hotel on Tuesday, as numerous clubs circle for the England international.

Liverpool sent scouts to watch coveted Benfica defender Antonio Silva and midfielder Florentino Luis last Friday, claims 90min. Real Madrid have been linked with Silva, while Tottenham have a reported interest in the pair.

Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham are all proactively keeping tabs on Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot's situation and availability, claims 90min.

Bayern Munich will not sign Joao Cancelo permanently after this season, instead letting him return to Manchester City upon the conclusion of his loan spell, according to Calciomercato.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta wants Xavi and Sergio Busquets to pen new contracts and extend their long associations with the club.

Former team-mates, Xavi is now head coach of the Blaugrana while Busquets remains an important part of their midfield with the Catalan side holding a nine-point lead over rivals Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga.

But with Busquets' contract due to expire at the end of this season and Xavi's the year after, there was uncertainty over how much longer the two club legends would stay at Camp Nou.

However, Laporta clarified the situation and revealed the club is set to offer fresh deals to the pair.

"I have already thought about a renewal," Laporta told reporters. "I think we should renew him [Xavi] because he has earned it.

"He knows the house. He knows Barca. He doesn't ask us for crazy things [as per transfers]. He perfectly understands the situation of the club.

"We have talked about Busquets. He is essential in the dressing room, he has a way of playing that suits our system. Xavi wants him to continue.

"We have not made a specific proposal yet, but we will do it soon. We are evaluating it as a club to extend for another year."

After a 4-3 aggregate defeat to Manchester United knocked Barca out of the Europa League, Xavi said the club may need to invest in the transfer market if they are to compete in Europe again.

Asked what he felt Barca needed in future transfer windows, Laporta replied: "A left back, a centre back depending on the market, a striker and we'll see if a midfielder [is possible] depending on what comes out. 

"Up front we are missing a piece, but we must remember that our resources are limited."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta insisted the club never "bought referees nor had the intention to" following revelations from the Negreira case.

Last month, broadcaster SER Catalunya alleged Barca had paid €1.6million to the company of Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira – the former vice-president of Spain's Technical Committee of Referees (CTA) – between 2016 and 2018.

Newspaper El Pais claimed Negreira's company – DASNIL 95 SL – produced written reports and DVD assessments of referees prior to games.

Barca strenuously denied any wrongdoing at the time, adamant that such "technical reports related to professional refereeing" were "common practice among professional football clubs" as they acknowledged working with "an external consultant". Negreira denied favouring Barcelona.

El Mundo then alleged Barca stopped making payments to Negreira after he was no longer the CTA vice-president.

A joint investigation by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and the CTA found no evidence of corruption nor influence over referees, while a probe into Negreira's affairs by the prosecutor's office is ongoing.

Laporta was not eager to talk about the subject on Tuesday when asked during what was billed as a "lunch discussion", but he felt the need to reiterate Barca's denial of wrongdoing.

"We have prepared a press conference to talk about this topic, but today I have this lunch," he said.

"Let me be clear, Barca have never bought referees nor had the intention to buy referees. Absolutely never.

"The forcefulness of the facts contradicts those who try to change the story. We are doing well again, nothing is accidental."

Laporta even seemed to suggest the scandal was part of a wider conspiracy to tarnish Barca's reputation after their refusal to sign up to LaLiga's deal with private equity fund CVC Capital Partners, who pledged €2billion in exchange for an 8.2 per cent stake in a new company that will receive revenue from the league's broadcasting and sponsorship rights.

"There is a campaign to harm the interests of Barca," he added.

"It is a campaign aimed at controlling the club. LaLiga does not accept that Barca did not sign the contract with CVC."

Zinedine Zidane interrupted his hunt for a top job to give the glowing reference that secured his former Real Madrid assistant a first head coaching role in Switzerland.

David Bettoni has been appointed boss of Sion, the club where Mario Balotelli plays, and that may mean Zidane will be looking for a new second-in-command when he returns to football.

Zidane recently has made no secret of his eagerness to get back into work, having walked away from the Madrid hotseat after the 2020-21 season.

A post with a big club likely awaits the France great, while Bettoni begins his life as a head coach with a ringing endorsement from his friend and former boss.

Bettoni has been appointed on a short-term basis initially, taking the job until the end of the season.

Sion president Christian Constantin told newspaper Le Matin he spent over an hour on the telephone with Zidane, joking that was more than former French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet was willing to give of his time.

Le Graet caused uproar in France at the start of the year when he said he would not even have answered his phone to Zidane if he had called to enquire about the France job. That was after Zidane saw his hopes of being made boss of Les Bleus scuppered by Didier Deschamps signing up for another World Cup cycle.

Constantin said of his chat with Zidane: "It made me very happy to be able to talk about football with him for an hour and a quarter. He had a much better reception with me than with Le Graet!

"He told me how loyal David had been to him, that he had never sought to find fault with him in his mission. Without him, he told me again, I would never have succeeded in doing what I achieved at Real during all his years."

Sion sit ninth in the 10-team Swiss Super League and have not won a game in the competition since October.

Bettoni, who first got to know Zidane when they were teenagers at Cannes, initially joined Madrid when Zidane was in charge of the youth side, before stepping up and helping his compatriot lead Los Blancos to three Champions League triumphs.

Manchester United have reportedly been sending scouts to watch Roma striker Tammy Abraham, although their pursuit could be complicated by interest from his former club.

Abraham, 25, left Chelsea following the 2020-21 season for a £34million fee, and the England international has already exceeded his Chelsea haul of 82 appearances and 30 goals in less than two seasons in Italy.

After racking up 53 outings and 27 goals in his debut campaign with Roma, Abraham has come back down to earth this time around, with just seven goals in 34 games.

There is said to be interest from United in the striker with 11 senior caps for England, although Chelsea will ultimately have the final say about whether they allow him to head to Old Trafford.


TOP STORY – CHELSEA HOLD THE KEYS TO UNITED'S ABRAHAM PURSUIT

The Athletic is reporting United are closely monitoring Abraham's progress this season and have been present at a number of Roma games for that reason, but Chelsea have negotiated a buy-back clause that will give them the option of first refusal.

As part of the sale to Roma, Chelsea included a stipulation that allows them to bring Abraham back for £70.9m (€80m) after at least two seasons have passed – meaning it will activate this coming offseason.

The report adds that Chelsea are in desperate search of a new centre forward, and that while the fee involved may be significant, it is believed to be far less than the demands expected from Napoli for 24-year-old Victor Osimhen.

ROUND-UP

– According to Mundo Deportivo, citing Gazzetta dello Sport, Inter have enquired about 29-year-old Barcelona centre-back Samuel Umtiti, who will be available for an affordable fee after rejuvenating his prospects with a strong loan spell at Lecce.

Tottenham are trying to pry 28-year-old midfielder James Ward-Prowse away from Southampton, who would almost assuredly leave his club if they cannot fight their way out of the relegation places, according to Football Insider.

– Sport is reporting Barcelona have an interest in signing 27-year-old Real Madrid winger Marco Asensio if he allows his contract to expire in a few months and can join on a free transfer.

– According to Calciomercato, Inter are hoping to replace outgoing centre-back Milan Skriniar with Lille 22-year-old Tiago Djalo.

Newcastle United are eyeing Manchester United's Scott McTominay and Leicester City's James Maddison as potential midfield reinforcements for next season, per Football Insider.

Bruno Guimaraes feels "at home" with Newcastle United despite reports of interest from European champions Real Madrid.

Guimaraes was Newcastle's flagship signing in January 2022 in their first transfer window following the takeover by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.

The Brazil international had a huge impact and has impressed again this season in a team battling for Champions League qualification, having also reached the EFL Cup final.

This form is said to have caught the attention of LaLiga giants Madrid, but Guimaraes appears committed to Newcastle.

The ex-Lyon midfielder accepted the North East Football Writers' Association Player of the Year award on Sunday before posting on social media.

"When I said yes to Newcastle, I was sure I was choosing a big project," Guimaraes wrote.

"From the bottom of my heart, I didn't expect to live the wonderful things I'm living here.

"Respect for the team, love for the fans and each day feeling more at home.

"Thanks for everyone that made [it] possible to live all of this."

Guimaraes has three goals in 18 league appearances this season, although he missed much of February through suspension.

Newcastle have suffered a dip in form since the Premier League restarted after the World Cup, with just two top-flight wins from their last nine games.

Back-to-back defeats against Liverpool and Manchester City, either side of their EFL Cup final loss to Manchester United, have stalled their momentum.

The Magpies will hope to return to winning ways when they face Wolves on Sunday.

Victor Osimhen is winning plenty of admirers at Serie A leaders Napoli having netted a league-high 19 goals.

The 24-year-old Nigeria forward joined Napoli in 2020 and is under contract until 2025.

But the Partenopei will have their work cut out keeping Osimhen that long, even if they will reportedly ask for more than €100million to let him go.

TOP STORY – OSIMHEN IS UNITED'S PRIORITY STRIKER TARGET

Osimhen is top of Manchester United's four-man striker shortlist, according to Football Insider.

United boss Erik ten Hag has identified Osimhen as his preferred off-season signing to bolster their front line.

According to the report, United wants three major off-season signings to maintain the momentum gained this campaign, including adding another quality striker.

Osimhen is the top priority ahead of Tottenham's Harry Kane, Roma's Tammy Abraham and Salzburg's Benjamin Sesko on their shortlist.

ROUND-UP

– The Athletic reports United are tracking Abraham, but he also has interest from Chelsea, who negotiated a £70.8m (€80m) buy-back clause when they sold him to Roma.

Angel Di Maria is open to staying with Juventus, who are ready to work to agree a new contract with the winger, claims La Gazetta dello Sport.

– Barcelona are preparing to pounce for Marcus Thuram, who will exit Borussia Monchengladbach as a free agent at the end of this season, reports Fichajes.

– It had been reported Houssem Aouar would join Eintracht Frankfurt, but Calciomercato claims there is new interest from Napoli along with Milan in the Lyon midfielder.

Newcastle United coach Eddie Howe is a big admirer of Southampton defender Mohammed Salisu and wants to sign him in the off-season, claims The Mirror.

Carlo Ancelotti vowed Real Madrid will not give up on chasing down Barcelona at the top of LaLiga, despite his side falling nine points adrift of the leaders on Sunday.

Madrid were held to a goalless draw by Real Betis on a potentially pivotal day in the title race, a few hours after 10-man Barcelona had battled to a 1-0 home win against Valencia.

Los Blancos still have to travel to Barca in a fortnight, but Opta's league predictor now gives the reigning champions just a 9.8 per cent chance of finishing top of the table.

After seeing his side held for a second league game running, having drawn 1-1 against Atletico Madrid last week, Ancelotti accepted Madrid have their work cut out.

"It's not impossible," he told Movistar when asked if there is any hope of catching Barca. "It will be very difficult, very complicated, but we have no doubt we'll fight until the end.

"Of course these results are affecting the team. If it doesn't then you have no room to improve." 

Madrid are without a win in three games after going down 1-0 to Barcelona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final on Thursday.

The European champions have failed to score in their past two games, which is as many as in their previous 39 matches.

After being unable to register a shot on target against Barca and in the first half against Betis, Madrid did at least improve in the second half as Claudio Bravo made five saves.

"It was a difficult match for us," Ancelotti added. "We know we could have done better in terms of efficiency in attack. We had opportunities but lacked efficiency.

"This is the reality. We've scored only one goal in our past three games, and it's clear to see what we're missing from set-pieces. We have the quality to be doing better.

"We know we have to improve in that regard. We know in moments like this we have to do better."

 

Karim Benzema thought he had given Madrid the lead in the 15th minute, only for his free-kick to be ruled out after a VAR check showed the ball hit Antonio Rudiger on the arm.

Madrid have now played out six goalless draws with Betis in the league this century – against no side have they done so more often – with this latest stalemate particularly costly.

Dani Ceballos, who wasted one of a few good chances that fell the visitors' way in the second half, echoed Ancelotti's sentiment that his side must keep on fighting.

"There are still games left and we are not that far away [from Barcelona]," he said. "The DNA of this club is to fight until the end. Where there is an opportunity, Madrid will fight.

"We have a very important game against Espanyol next Saturday in front of our fans. We also have Barcelona to play, so we have to do our best before the international break."

Betis fell short of registering a fourth straight league win for the first time since December 2021, but head coach Manuel Pellegrini was happy to come away with a point against his former club.

"Winning games is important, but if you can't do that then it's better to not lose," said Pellegrini, whose side are three points adrift of fourth-placed Real Sociedad.

"I think it was a fair point for both teams. There are many teams in the fight for the top four and others will also start to challenge."

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