Manchester United still appear keen to sign Ousmane Dembele if the winger leaves Barcelona at the end of the season.

Dembele was told he could leave Barca in January after refusing to sign a new contract.

However, no clubs came in for the former Borussia Dortmund attacker, who will instead see out the remaining months of his deal at Camp Nou and looks set to leave on a free.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED ARE DEMBELE'S ONLY SUITORS

According to Spanish newspaper Sport, Dembele's options for when he leaves Barca are limited. In fact, the report claims that United are now the only team interested in the France international.

Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea were among the clubs reported to hold an interest in the 24-year-old previously.

However, according to Sport's report, United are in a queue of one as it stands.

ROUND-UP

- Tottenham are now the favourites to sign Nottingham Forest's Middlesbrough loanee Djed Spence, ahead of Arsenal and Bayern Munich, Goal reports.

- Journalist Raffaele Auriemma told TeleClubItalia that Fabian Ruiz is likely to leave Napoli at the end of the season and that Arsenal have made a proposal.

- AS, meanwhile, believes that Barcelona could look to sign left-back Alex Moreno from Real Betis ahead of next season.

- Another defender who looks set to join Barcelona is Andreas Christensen. Fabrizio Romano reports that a deal is close for the centre-back to join on a free from Chelsea.

- Fichajes reports that Real Madrid could become involved in a three-way tussle with Barca and Arsenal for Lille forward Jonathan David.

Paris Saint-Germain will be without the suspended Kylian Mbappe against Nice, but Mauricio Pochettino knows his side should not rely on individual performances from one of the world's best players.

PSG are 15 points clear at the Ligue 1 summit ahead of a clash with third-placed Nice on Saturday, but they will not have Mbappe among their ranks.

The France international will return for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 clash with Real Madrid, who he has been heavily linked to when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Mbappe has dominated for PSG this season, scoring 14 times and assisting 10 goals in Ligue 1, while creating a team-leading 47 chances.

No other PSG player has more than five goals (Danilo Pereira) and only Lionel Messi has as many assists, but Pochettino insisted his side cannot continue to rely on individuals to come up with match-winning moments.

"We're talking about one of the best players in the world," Pochettino said of Mbappe's absence at Friday's pre-match news conference. 

"The psychological aspect is important for his team-mates and the opponent. But we know it can happen during a season. The important thing is that the squad believes in its collective strength. 

"We have to develop the idea that the squad isn't strong thanks to individual performances, but rather thanks to its collective strength, which is something we have to cultivate despite having players missing."

PSG's away form in the top flight has come under scrutiny this campaign, picking up 25 points on the road in comparison to 37 at home.

But Pochettino assured that his team's away challenges are normal as they prepare for a trip to Coupe de France finalists Nice, who have won just one of their last 17 top-flight meetings against PSG.

"It can happen during a season. It happens to every big club – and not only to Paris – to play less well away from home," he added. 

"There's no single factor that determines that. We try to play each game in the same way, whether it's home or away. 

"We analyse the way in which we play, looking to dominate, if there is pressure, or a difficult atmosphere in terms of the opponent.

"We also have to acknowledge the contribution of our fans, who generate an atmosphere and give energy, that has an impact, not only on our players but also it negatively affects the opposition."

Pochettino, whose side have lost just one of their last 17 league matches, will see his side take a slender 1-0 lead to Madrid on Tuesday, but his focus remains on one game at a time.

"We have to be focused on the match against Nice and find the right tactics to win," he continued. 

"For the second leg, there will be players missing in Madrid. As for us, we'll see after Saturday's game which players are available. We'll see which is the best team to play Real after the Nice match. 

"We have to be competitive and focused on Saturday's game, out of respect for the competition and for Nice. The best means of preparing for big Champions League matches is to be focused all the time."

Victor Osimhen has netted 11 goals in all competitions, prompting admiration from some top clubs.

The Napoli striker is valued at around €80million by the Serie A leaders.

Manchester United are understood to be interested in Osimhen.

TOP STORY – REAL TO RIVAL MAN UTD FOR OSIMHEN

The race for Napoli forward Osimhen is heating up with Real Madrid joining United in pursuit of his signature, according to Calciomercato.

Osimhen's Napoli contract does not expire until 2025 but both clubs are ready to flex their muscles and move for him in the off-season transfer window.

The 23-year-old forward's stock has risen dramatically since Napoli signed him for €70m from Lille in 2020.

ROUND-UP

- Inter are lining up a move for Borussia Monchengladbach's Marcus Thuram as they prepare for Lautaro Martinez to be prized away amid interest from Manchester City, claims The Sun.

- Nicolo Schira claims that Milan have agreed personal terms with Lille defender and Newcastle United target Sven Botman, who has been lured by a five-year deal.

- Barcelona are set to join the race for Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves, who has interest from Arsenal and Manchester United, reports the Mail.

- The Express claims that Aston Villa are interested in manager Steven Gerrard's ex-Liverpool team-mate Luis Suarez along with Milan's Franck Kessie .

- Teenage England international Jude Bellingham has opted to remain with Borussia Dortmund for one more season, claims Bild.

- Kicker claims that Roma have joined the pursuit for Stuttgart's Sasa Kalajdzic along with Tottenham, West Ham, Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig .

- West Ham are interested in Bristol City striker Antoine Semenyo, according to The Mirror, while Celtic are also tracking him.

Leonardo says Mauricio Pochettino has "never asked to leave" Paris Saint-Germain despite links to Manchester United.

Meanwhile, the PSG sporting director also suggested that signing injury-hit defender Sergio Ramos may have been a "mistake".

Pochettino joined PSG in January 2021 and is likely to add this season's Ligue 1 title to the Coupe de France he won last campaign, with his star-studded side opening up a 15-point lead at the top of the table.

However, rumours have continually linked Pochettino to the Old Trafford hot-seat, which caretaker boss Ralf Rangnick is set to vacate at the end of this season, and the PSG coach is said to have long-term admirers within the United hierarchy.

United's football director John Murtough this week said that a "thorough process" to appoint a new manager was underway, but Leonardo insists Pochettino has never voiced a desire to leave the French capital, and that there has not been any contact with rumoured replacement Zinedine Zidane.

"Honestly, we haven't thought about a coaching change," Leonardo told L'Equipe. "[Pochettino] has a year left on his contract.

"We've never contacted Zidane or anyone else. Before he came here, Pochettino was among the best five coaches, and he still is. 

"He may have had moments of doubt, but he's never asked to leave."

Leonardo was also asked about the condition of Ramos, who has been limited to just four Ligue 1 appearances since joining from Real Madrid due to injury.

 

While Leonardo refused to say Ramos' playing career could be over, he expressed regret about the persistent injury woes suffered by the 35-year-old and appeared to hint that his signing may have been a "mistake".

"He was well physically when we signed him," he said of the former Madrid captain.

"Up to now he has played five games [in all competitions]. Unfortunately, it has not happened as we imagined. It's hard for him, for everyone, but our reports are clear. 

"The day it is said he can't play any more, it will be clear for everyone. But it's not the case.

"Not playing makes it difficult for him to be a leader, but we will wait before drawing conclusions; the season is not over. 

"But I'm not afraid to own up to mistakes when I make them."

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo has promised every effort is being made to persuade Kylian Mbappe to sign a new contract.

Mbappe, whose 14 Ligue 1 goals this term make him the Parisians' top scorer, has been strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid when his current deal ends in June.

Madrid have made no secret of their interest, with LaLiga president Javier Tebas recently stating his confidence that the French World Cup winner would move to Spain.

However, recent speculation has focused on whether Mbappe could yet be convinced to remain in the French capital, and he scored a superb solo goal against Madrid last month to put PSG ahead in the two-leg Champions League tie against his would-be suitors.

Speaking to L'Equipe, Leonardo said PSG would "try everything" to keep the 23-year-old, claiming money was not the key factor in negotiations.

"We have a possibility [to keep Mbappe]," former Brazil star Leonardo said. "As long as there is no signature [with another club], we will try everything, we will do everything possible to retain him.

"We did not send a specific offer. There is an important element: I think the last thing we will put into this contract will be the amount of money. It's not about that. We want to put him in the best condition so that he becomes the best player possible."

Mbappe netted twice in PSG's 3-1 win over Saint-Etienne last time out to move level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic's tally of 156 goals for the club, placing him joint-second in the Parisian giants' all-time goalscoring charts behind Edinson Cavani, who scored 200 times for the club.

 

Mbappe is also the only player in the French top flight to have hit double figures for both goals and assists this season, and Leonardo says that means he has now joined team-mate Lionel Messi among the finest players on the planet.

"Kylian is the best player in the world today," Leonardo said. "Messi has always been at this level, and for me he still is, but it's normal that others arrive.

"It's not a case of judging who is best. One is 23 years old, and the other is 34."

Mbappe's tally of 10 league assists this campaign places him level with Messi as French football's most creative forces, and the duo have helped the champions-elect on a run that has included just one loss in their last 17 Ligue 1 outings.

Manchester United's search for a permanent manager continues to take up plenty of column inches, with a new name now entering the mix.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax chief Erik ten Hag have long been considered the two frontrunners to take over at Old Trafford.

But a somewhat surprise candidate is now reportedly being considered to succeed interim manager Ralf Rangnick on a short-term basis at the end of the campaign.


TOP STORY – ANCELOTTI A CONTENDER FOR UNITED

According to ESPN, United may look to appoint Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti as they explore contingency plans in their pursuit of a new manager.

While Pochettino and Ten Hag remain on the Red Devils' managerial shortlist, Ancelotti is said to be seen as an ideal short-term fix thanks to his vast experience.

The Italian has previously spent time in English football with Everton and Chelsea, winning a Premier League and FA Cup with the latter in 2009-10.

Ancelotti is currently in his second spell with Madrid and has another two seasons to run on his contract at the Santiago Bernabeu.


ROUND-UP

- PSG have offered Kylian Mbappe a contract worth €50million a year to fend off interest from rival clubs, according to Le Parisian. Madrid are the strong favourites to sign the France international should he depart the Parc des Princes as a free agent in July.

- Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta are also set to be out of contract at Chelsea in the next few months and are not short of potential suitors. Mundo Deportivo reports that Barcelona are confident of signing the pair, while Ajax's Noussair Mazraoui and Jose Gaya of Valencia are also targets.

- Madrid are hoping to replace Dani Carvajal at right-back ahead of next season and have a few potential options already lined up. That is according to El Nacional, with Man Utd's Diogo Dalot, Norwich City's Max Aarons and Pedro Porro of Sporting CP all mentioned.

- Sport claims that Barcelona are on course to wrap up contract extensions for Ronald Araujo and Gavi before the end of the month. Rising star Gavi will supposedly be offered a five-year deal that will include a mammoth release clause to ensure he stays at Camp Nou for the long term.

- Former Germany international Julian Weigl is nearing the end of his time at Benfica and has been offered to teams across the continent, according to Calciomercato. The Italian outlet suggests than Milan would prefer to sign Renato Sanches, potentially giving Roma a clear run for the €35m-rated midfielder.

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.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino is perplexed there is any debate about Lionel Messi's effectiveness for the club this season after his starring role in the 3-1 win over Saint-Etienne on Saturday.

The former Barcelona forward did not get on the scoresheet, but he was instrumental in his side fighting back from Denis Bouanga's early opener for Saint-Etienne at the Parc des Princes.

Messi teed up both of Kylian Mbappe's strikes either side of half-time, the second of which came after some superb skill to round two Saint-Etienne players.

He has now racked up six assists since the turn of the year – more than any other player in the top five European leagues.

His two assists on Saturday means he has laid on four goals for Mbappe in Ligue 1 this season, which is the highest total in the competition from one player to another.

Messi has been criticised for his poor goalscoring return this campaign, with just seven across all competitions, but Pochettino is in doubt about the 34-year-old's quality.

"I can't understand how there can be a debate about Messi because he is exceptional," he told Canal+. "No, there is no debate. It's impossible. 

"Messi is incredible, magnificent. He played very well and the only thing he was missing was a goal."

 

Mbappe's second goal moved him level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as PSG's second all-time top goalscorer on 156 goals, while he became the first player in Ligue 1 this season to reach double figures for goals and assists (14 goals, 10 assists).

Pochettino was full of praise for the forward's display and insisted he has not sustained an injury despite appearing to hold his right thigh late in the first half.  

"Kylian is fine," Pochettino added. "He had no problem. He is suspended against Nice [next Saturday] and will be able to work for a week. He will be ready to start in Madrid [for the Champions League last-16 second leg against Real Madrid on March 9].

"We are very happy with him, that he is with us. I'm proud of him. It's amazing, wonderful.

"I'm very happy because we finish the matches very well. We played the second half the way we wanted to play. Kylian is a fantastic player. Lionel and Neymar were also important for us."

PSG have now won five of their last six Ligue 1 matches after a run of just one victory in their previous five, and Pochettino believes his side are slowly moving in the right direction.

"There is progress, small steps," he added. "I'm happy with that. This is how you have to improve. The team is gaining confidence when we were still trailing. The team gains tactical richness."

Kylian Mbappe moved level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as Paris Saint-Germain's second all-time top goalscorer after he struck a brace in Saturday's 3-1 win over Saint-Etienne.

Mauricio Pochettino's side suffered a 3-1 defeat to Nantes in their previous top-flight game last weekend and they looked like they might be on the end of another surprise loss when Denis Bouanga put the visitors ahead early on.

However, goals either side of half-time from Mbappe – the second of which moved him level with Ibrahimovic on 156 goals – and a third from Danilo Pereira sealed all three points at the Parc des Princes.

The result meant PSG moved 16 points clear at the Ligue 1 summit, while Saint-Etienne remained in 16th, just one point outside the relegation zone. 

Saint-Etienne were rewarded for a bright start in the 16th minute when Bouanga picked Pereira's pocket just outside the penalty area and superbly fired past Gianluigi Donnarumma from 15 yards.

Messi was the provider for PSG's leveller three minutes before half-time, the Argentina international threading a wonderful pass into Mbappe, whose powerful strike from 10 yards proved too hot for Paul Bernardoni to handle.

Those two players combined to devastating effect two minutes after the restart, Messi jinking inside two players before laying the ball into the path of Mbappe, who drilled across Bernardoni to put PSG ahead. 

Pereira made amends for his earlier error with PSG's third in the 52nd minute, the Portuguese rising high at the back post to head home Mbappe's sumptuous cross with the outside of his foot. 

Neymar and Georginio Wijnaldum both struck the post late on, yet it mattered little as PSG comfortably saw proceedings out to return to winning ways with the minimum of fuss. 
 

What does it mean? PSG maintain fine home form

This comeback win means PSG have not lost any of their past 16 home games in Ligue 1, which is the best current run in the league.

The result also stretched their unbeaten run over Saint-Etienne to 26 matches, equalling the longest unbeaten streak in their history against an opponent (also 26 against Angers, which is an ongoing run since December 1976).

Mbappe up to joint second

Mbappe is now level with Monaco's Wissam Ben Yedder at the top of the Ligue 1 scoring charts with 14 goals after his brace here. Barring injury, he will unquestionably move clear of Ibrahimovic in PSG's all-time rankings, yet whether he breaks Edinson Cavani's record of 200 goals for the club depends on whether he moves to Real Madrid at the end of the season.

Messi in generous mood

Goals have been hard to come by for Messi since his move from Barcelona, but he is having no such problems creating them for his team-mates. He has now recorded six assists in Ligue 1 since the turn of the year, which is more than anyone else in the top five European leagues.

What's next?

PSG visit Nice next Saturday, while Saint-Etienne host Metz a day later.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino is unconcerned by recent wastefulness in front of goal and believes his star-studded attack will soon click.

PSG suffered just their second league loss of the season at Nantes last week, going down 3-1 despite creating plenty of chances and finishing the match with an expected goals (xG) of 3.8, with Neymar missing a second-half penalty after the Parisians had found themselves three goals down.

The Ligue 1 leaders also missed a penalty in their recent 1-0 Champions League win over Real Madrid, with Lionel Messi failing to beat Thibaut Courtois on a night where they had 1.88 xG to their opponents' 0.14.

However, Pochettino has faith that his attacking endeavours will be rewarded.

"I'm not worried when we don't score. I would worry if we didn't get chances," Pochettino told a news conference ahead of this weekend's game with Saint-Etienne.

"We have talented players, who can score at any time. 

"This week, we emphasised work. We must improve the balance in our play, the defensive transitions, controlling space. 

"With the team we have, there is no doubt in my mind that we'll find that clinical streak."

 

Although PSG boast a 13-point lead at the top of Ligue 1, they have won just five of their last 10 league games, drawing four and losing one. 

Meanwhile, with defender Sergio Ramos close to resuming training after a calf injury, Pochettino expressed his frustration at the injury woes which have blighted the Real Madrid legend this season, with Ramos making just two Ligue 1 starts since joining the club last summer.

"The person who suffers most from him not being available to play is him," the PSG boss added.

"We are trying to help him. We have great medical staff who are trying to give him the best possible treatment to deal with this type of situation. We're here to give him moral and psychological support. 

"It's always difficult for an injured player. A footballer needs to be part of the competition, of the squad too, on big days. All of that creates cohesion with the squad."

PSG are looking to defend a proud record against Saint-Etienne in their next outing, having won 42 of their 80 Ligue 1 games against them (25 draws and 13 losses). Only against Metz have they won more top-flight matches (43).

Romelu Lukaku has not had the desired impact since his move from Inter to Chelsea in August.

The Belgium international has scored 10 goals in all competitions but appears unsettled.

As a result, Lukaku has been linked with a move away from the European champions.

TOP STORY - LUKAKU KEEN FOR INTER RETURN

Chelsea forward Lukaku is open to the idea of taking a pay cut to facilitate a proposed move back to Inter , according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

Lukaku dropped a bombshell in December, revealing his regret at leaving Inter for Chelsea and has come under fire recently after managing only seven touches in a Premier League game.

The report claims that the Belgian forward has contacted the Italian champions to persuade them to bid for him, although they may not be able to afford a deal.

ROUND-UP

- Eden Hazard is interested in a return to Chelsea after an unhappy time with Real Madrid, claims Fichajes. The Belgian made a €100 million (£84m) move to Madrid in 2019 but has underwhelmed, with the Blues open to a short-term deal.

- SPORT claims that Arsenal will make a fresh approach to sign Real Sociedad's Swedish forward Alexander Isak . The striker has an €80m (£67m) release clause in his contract and has been linked with Barcelona .

- Manchester United have tabled an offer for Borussia Dortmund's Manuel Akanji ,   reports BILD. The Red Devils will offer the defender, who is contracted until 2023, a four-year deal worth €15m (£13m) per season.

- Nicolo Schira claims that Madrid are angling to sign Fabian Ruiz after contract extension talks with Napoli stalled. The 25-year-old is understood to want to return to Spain.

- Fabrizio Romano reports that Barcelona will back head coach Xavi in the off-season as they push on with plans to lure Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta .

- Newcastle United are considering an off-season move for Lyon defender Jason Denayer , claims The Mirror. Denayer's contract expires in June.

Even if not quite the force they once were, Manchester United still like to show their fans their ambitions match up, especially in the transfer market.

Interim manager Ralf Rangnick has the job of ensuring the Red Devils qualify for next season's Champions League and is currently on course, with them sitting fourth in the Premier League.

However, the club supposedly remain confident of adding big names at the end of the season regardless of a top-four finish.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD WANT MORE ENGLAND STARS

Manchester United believe they can attract big names to Old Trafford at the end of the season, even if they may not have Champions League football to offer.

According to ESPN, the Premier League club have an ambitious list of targets that includes England pair Declan Rice and Harry Kane, and they believe the 2016 signing of Paul Pogba – when they were in the Europa League – is proof the name of the club is enticing enough.

It remains to be seen what that means for whomever the incoming permanent manager is by then, but they will likely not say no to additions of that calibre.

ROUND-UP

Atletico Madrid are plotting a move for Georginio Wijnaldum from Paris Saint-Germain, according to Fichajes.

- Calciomercato claims Inter wish to add Torino defender Bremer to their ranks next season and may already have an agreement with the player.

- Meanwhile, Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele is being pursued on a free transfer by both Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain, 90min reports.

- The Catalan giants could get one in return though as they have offered a two-year deal to Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta, according to Sport.

- Marca is reporting Tottenham are looking at Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon as a potential long-term replacement for Hugo Lloris.

Roma could reignite their interest in Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka at the end of the season, Calciomercato says.

Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid has often felt like a never-ending transfer saga, but it appears a resolution might now be in sight.

Los Blancos are apparently confident of getting the Paris Saint-Germain star in 2022 even though their performance did not impress him in the Champions League.

However, Madrid do have a back-up plan.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID CONFIDENT ON MBAPPE BUT MANE IS PLAN B

Real Madrid believe they will win the battle to sign Kylian Mbappe on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain in 2022.

Carlo Ancelotti's side are preparing to announce the deal at the end of the season, according to Goal.

However, should their efforts to sign Mbappe or Erling Haaland fail, Madrid have a back-up plan: Fichajes claims they will submit an offer for Sadio Mane.

ROUND-UP

Arsenal are interested in signing Joao Felix from Atletico Madrid, according to television show El Chiringuito.

Manchester United have been quoted €75million (£62.5m) for RB Leipzig star Christopher Nkunku, Bild says.

- Meanwhile, United striker Edinson Cavani is ready to listen to an offer to join Botafogo when his contract expires, Goal claims.

- According to Sport, Tottenham have submitted the firmest offer to sign Paulo Dybala from Juventus, but Barcelona and Inter are also interested.

Milan are resigned to losing Franck Kessie after this season and could replace him with Renato Sanches, Tuttosport says.

UEFA has decided to move the Champions League final from St Petersburg, according to the BBC. The game could be held in London.

Lionel Messi has expressed his enjoyment at developing a partnership with Kylian Mbappe at Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi departed Barcelona on a free transfer last August to move to the Parc des Princes, where he joined up with former Blaugrana star Neymar and France international Mbappe.

The Argentina international has managed just two goals in 15 Ligue 1 appearances for Mauricio Pochettino's side, who sit 13 points clear at the summit of the French top flight.

Despite a lean run of scoring form, Messi acknowledged how grateful he is to be playing with some of the world's best players, including talisman Mbappe.

"[Angel] di Maria and Ney[mar] I know them from before [at Barcelona and Argentina]," Messi said in an interview with PSG's media that was released on Tuesday.

"With Kylian it was the one I didn't know and little by little we get to know each other much more and within the field to try to relate better, to see how we feel comfortable with each other. 

"I was lucky to be with the best at Barcelona and today at PSG too, I'm happy and looking forward to continuing to do so."

Mbappe leads PSG's scoring charts this season, with 17 goals to his name across all competitions.

Since his debut for PSG in September 2017, only Robert Lewandowski (151), Messi (125), Ciro Immobile (118), Cristiano Ronaldo (116) and Mohamed Salah (110) have found the net on more occasions than Mbappe (103) across Europe's top-five leagues.

Meanwhile, from that same group only Lewandowski (80.55) can boast a better minutes-per-goal ratio than Mbappe's 99.99.

However, there is speculation the Frenchman may leave for Real Madrid when his contract expires at the end of the season.

But Mbappe showed no loyalties to Carlo Ancelotti's team just yet, with his impressive solo goal proving the difference in a 1-0 triumph over Madrid in the first leg of PSG's Champions League round-of-16 clash.

While Pochettino's side have to navigate a trip to the Spanish capital to secure their quarter-final berth, Messi believes PSG are equipped to win the competition.

"Winning the Champions League is difficult, it is a competition where the best are, any detail can leave you out," he added.

"So many great clubs and teams compete, we have a team to try to achieve it. We are very excited and we want to be able to do it but we have to go with peace of mind. 

"The best team does not always win and you have to be aware of all the details, the strong teams are the ones that achieve their goals."

Mauricio Pochettino's future at Paris Saint-Germain is unclear amid rumblings that he wants out.

Manchester United have been linked with the ex-Tottenham manager, who took over at PSG in January last year.

The Red Devils dismissed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November, with Ralf Rangnick taking over on an interim basis.


TOP STORY – LOS BLANCOS KEEN ON POCHETTINO

Real Madrid are set to rival Manchester United to land Pochettino this off-season, claims the Daily Mail.

The Red Devils are understood to be circling for the Argentine, who is reportedly unhappy at Paris Saint-Germain.

But the report claims Madrid have doubts over current boss Carlo Ancelotti's future and believe that Pochettino is obtainable in the off-season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City's Portugal midfielder Bernardo Silva is dreaming of a switch to join Real Madrid, claims Calciomercato.

- Calciomercato also reports that Inter are monitoring Gabriel Jesus' status at City, with a view to bolstering their attack.

- Nicolo Schira reports that Atalanta are keen to move for Torino's Italy international striker Andrea Belotti in the off-season when he is a free agent.

- TuttoMercatoWeb claims Arsenal, Newcastle United, Borussia Dortmund and Inter are all in the race to sign Lille's Canadian forward Jonathan David.

- GiveMeSport claims Liverpool are "seriously interested" in West Ham United's Jarrod Bowen.

- Roma are keen on signing Barcelona's USA international defender Sergino Dest according to Fichajes.

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