Alexis Sanchez officially signed his contract as a Marseille player on Wednesday after passing a medical with the Ligue 1 club.

A busy week for Sanchez had seen him depart Inter on Monday when his contract was terminated, before Marseille announced a deal in principle had been agreed on Tuesday.

Marseille fans were made to wait little longer for formal confirmation of an eye-catching signing.

The former Barcelona, Arsenal and Manchester United man arrives in France looking to recapture his best form, having started only seven matches in Serie A last season – albeit he still scored five goals.

Sanchez had netted seven for Inter the previous season, again often appearing from the bench, as the Nerazzurri won the Scudetto.

Marseille's statement on Wednesday described Sanchez as "a world-class player with a great experience of the very highest level".

Inter have confirmed the termination of Alexis Sanchez's contract amid reports the forward is set to join Marseille.

Sanchez arrived at San Siro from Manchester United in 2019, initially on a season-long loan before signing a permanent deal in 2020.

The Chile international was part of the Inter side that won the Serie A title in the 2020-21 season, while he also scored a dramatic 121st minute winner against Juventus in the Supercoppa Italiana in January.

Sanchez only managed five goals in 27 Serie A appearances for the Nerazzurri last season, though just seven of those were starts.

The 33-year-old made 109 appearances in all, scoring 20 goals.

Inter said in a statement on Monday: "FC Internazionale Milano announces that it has reached an agreement for the consensual termination of the contract of the Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez.

"The club would like to thank Alexis for his three seasons in the Nerazzurri, culminating in the winning of three trophies, and wishes him the best for the rest of his career."

Numerous reports have suggested Sanchez's next move will be to Ligue 1, with Marseille said to be offering the former Barcelona man a two-year deal.

Another Ligue 1 campaign begins on Friday after a big window for French football, the highlight of which was Paris Saint-Germain retaining Kylian Mbappe.

New arrivals in the league include returns for Lyon duo Alexandre Lacazette and Corentin Tolisso, while high-profile departures have seen Aurelien Tchouameni, Sven Botman and Nayef Aguerd depart.

With PSG once again investing heavily in their squad, adding the likes of Vitinha, Hugo Ekitike and Nordi Mukiele, the capital club are widely expected to storm to another title – but can there be an upset?

The verdict, unsurprisingly, is probably not – as Stats Perform AI predicted the outcome of the coming campaign, estimating the likelihood of teams finishing in each position informed by their expected results in each match.

These are calculated using betting odds and Stats Perform's team rankings – based on historical and recent team performances – and, while the title race is not likely to get going, there are some big battles elsewhere in the division.

PSG PARTY ONCE AGAIN

With one of the most expensive squads ever assembled, including the devastating attack of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, PSG are unsurprisingly expected to romp to another Ligue 1 success.

Having won eight of the last nine titles, Stats Perform AI has given PSG a 76.01 per cent chance of retaining their crown.

Marseille, runners-up last season, are seen as the side most capable of mounting a challenge, though their 7.29 per cent chance is slim. Monaco, title winners in 2016-17, are given a 6.55 per cent chance.

Lyon, once the dominant force in French football, have just a 4.29 per cent chance, while Rennes clock in at 3.44 per cent and Lille, the last side to prevent PSG from winning the title having lifted the trophy in 2020-21, have only a 0.71 per cent chance.

The gulf in class within French football is highlighted by the fact that nine teams, almost half of the division, are seen as having no hope in mounting a title challenge.

 

SCRAMBLE FOR EUROPEAN FOOTBALL

Unlike the other top leagues in European football, France has a limited number of places for qualification for UEFA competitions with just two guaranteed Champions League spots, one qualifying spot, one spot in the Europa League group stage and one in the Europa Conference League play-offs.

With PSG expected to surge to the title and take the first of the two group stage spots in the Champions League, with a 90.93 per cent likelihood, the scrap for the other automatic qualification spot could be fierce.

Marseille are seen as the favourites in that battle with a 29.97 per cent chance, with Monaco following suit with a 29.97 per cent chance.

Elsewhere, Lyon have an 18.7 per cent chance, with Rennes at 15.53 per cent, though they may have to settle for a third-place finish or a spot in the Europa League.

In the battle for fifth, and a play-off spot in the Conference League, it's also expected to be tight – with five clubs, as well as those already mentioned above, given at least a five per cent chance of reaching that spot.

Nice, Lens, Lille, Nantes and Strasbourg are all in with an outside shot of gunning for a spot in European competition, which could set up a thrilling battle.

 

REGULATION CHANGES INCREASE RELEGATION FIGHT

With Ligue 1 reducing to 18 teams from the 2023-24 season, the fight to avoid the drop to the second-tier will be fiercer than ever with the bottom four all being relegated – and there will be no play-offs either.

The situation looks bleak for Ajaccio (57.64 per cent chance of relegation), Clermont (57.57), Troyes (56.72) and Lorient (53.92), all of which are seen as more likely to suffer relegation than they are to avoid the drop.

Auxerre (46.58) and Toulouse (34.02) could also find themselves looking over their shoulders during the course of the season, while PSG, Marseille and Monaco are the three sides given no chance leaving the league through the bottom.

Of the promoted trio, it is Toulouse who are given the best chance of maintaining their top-flight status for another season – with their most likely position being 15th, with a 10.59 per cent chance of securing that spot.

The 2022-23 season is right around the corner, with plenty to keep an eye on across Europe.

Title battles in England, Spain and Italy could be too close to call, while France and Germany will see rivals trying to knock Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich off their respective perches – while there is even more set to occur in the fight for European qualification and to avoid the drop.

Central to these battles will be the players, both new signings and established members of the old guard, and here are 10 to watch in the year ahead.

 

Ousmane Dembele – Barcelona

Previously considered to be one of the biggest pieces of evidence on Barcelona's transfer failings in recent years, Dembele turned a corner in the second half of last season to finish the campaign as one of Xavi's most important players.

Dembele finished with 13 assists in LaLiga last term, the most in the competition, 11 of which came in the final 15 games of the season – with the tally being more in that run from February than he accumulated across all competitions combined in the previous two seasons.

Handed a fresh new contract, all eyes will be on Dembele to see whether he is back to his best or whether the former Borussia Dortmund winger, who now has Raphinha for competition, merely had a purple patch.

 

Matthijs de Ligt – Bayern Munich

It has now been three years since De Ligt shone with the Ajax side that reached the Champions League semi-finals, where his performances made him one of the most coveted players in world football.

Stability was never quite found at Juventus, however, with shoulder injuries hampering his progress and the defender himself admitting the style was a "bit different" in Turin to what he experienced with Ajax.

Now at Bayern, De Ligt will look to return to the heights he was once at and is expected to form an exciting partnership with Dayot Upamecano.

Rafael Leao – Milan

In Milan's title-winning campaign last term, Leao was the team's joint-leading scorer in Serie A with 11 goals, alongside Olivier Giroud, but that was way off the pace in the overall charts as 15 players found the net more times.

Milan's total tally for goals in 2021-22 was 69, less than three of their rivals in the top five, and pressure is on Stefano Pioli's side to improve that return – with the signing of Divock Origi showing the desire to improve their return in the final third, with rivals Inter having strengthened by bringing Romelu Lukaku back to San Siro on loan.

It may all fall upon Leao, however, with the 23-year-old needing to show consistency in order to prove a significant venture into the market next year to replace veterans Giroud and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not required.

 

Djed Spence – Tottenham

Middlesbrough will likely wonder what might had been if they retained Spence's services, having loaned him to Championship rivals Nottingham Forest and seeing him play a key part in their promotion back to the big time.

From September, the only two games Spence missed during Forest's league campaign were the two clashes with his parent club and his displays, including those in the FA Cup against the likes of Arsenal, made him hot property.

Spurs ultimately signed the England U21 international, who could be a contender to break into Gareth Southgate's World Cup squad if he quickly finds his feet in north London. He is a right-back, after all...

Darwin Nunez – Liverpool

Liverpool's prowess in the transfer market is facing its biggest test under Jurgen Klopp, who is looking to rejuvenate what has been a brilliant attacking trio with Sadio Mane moving on and Roberto Firmino's future uncertain.

Having signed Luis Diaz in January, the Reds raided a Portuguese giant again – this time Benfica – for Nunez.

Nunez scored six Champions League goals in the 2021-22 season and plundered a further 26 in the league, averaging a goal every 76 minutes. Nunez certainly has the capability to fill Klopp's Mane-shaped void, even if his style is slightly different to the Senegal attacker.

 

Matteo Guendouzi – Marseille

Swiftly breaking onto the scene at Arsenal but just as quickly earning himself a bad-boy reputation, Guendouzi flourished in his loan spell with Marseille last season and has now made the switch permanent.

The France international featured in every game for Marseille in the 2021-22 season, starting in 35 of his 38 Ligue 1 appearances, and forced his way back into contention to make Didier Deschamps' squad on a regular basis ahead of Les Bleus' World Cup defence in Qatar.

Guendouzi's growing maturity saw him captain Marseille in a 2-0 defeat against Lille last season and the forthcoming campaign may continue his redemption arc.

Adam Hlozek – Bayer Leverkusen

A name that will be familiar to Football Manager enthusiasts, Hlozek has earned his big move to one of Europe's top leagues after leaving Sparta Prague in his homeland for Bayer Leverkusen and the challenges of the Bundesliga.

Capable of playing across the front line, Hlozek heads to Germany with a stellar record of 29 goals and 30 assists in 91 league appearances in the top-tier in the Czech Republic.

Add in the 24 goals that compatriot Patrik Schick netted for Leverkusen last season along with the creativity of Florian Wirtz from midfield and the result is one that could be extremely exciting.

Vinicius Junior – Real Madrid

A formidable season for Vinicius saw the Brazilian net 17 goals and contribute 10 assists during Real Madrid's La Liga title-winning campaign, only being outscored by team-mate Karim Benzema in the league.

Benzema, who was one of only two players to get more assists than Vinicius last season, is now in the twilight years of his career and will soon surely hand the mantle to the next star forward at the Santiago Bernabeu – with Vinicius near-certain to be that man now Kylian Mbappe has decided to remain in Paris for the time being.

In a World Cup year, Vinicius could enjoy a campaign that sees him take the leading man tag for both club and country come the end of the season.

 

Hugo Ekitike – Paris Saint-Germain

Arriving into an attacking that already boasts Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi, it remains to be seen just how much football 20-year-old Hugo Ekitike will manage to play for Christophe Galtier's side.

Moving initially on loan, Ekitike, who was also a target for Newcastle United, is certainly one for the future.

With 10 goals and four assists for Reims last term, Ekitike has shown his prowess in the final third and could be a valuable asset in the hunt to end the elusive wait for a Champions League crown.

Samuele Ricci – Torino

Long touted as the next star in Italy's midfield, Samuele Ricci has moved on from Empoli but, to the surprise of some, did not take the leap to one of Serie A's big guns and instead continued his development by joining Torino in January.

Ricci featured 13 times for Torino, including nine starts in what was a stellar breakout year in Italy's top tier, with the 20-year-old having previously been crowned Serie B's best player in the 2020-21 season.

Breaking into Italy's squad in 2022, Ricci's meteoric rise should continue, and he may find himself coveted by some of the biggest clubs across Europe.

Arsenal defender Nuno Tavares has joined Marseille on a season-long loan deal.

The left-back was signed by the Gunners from Benfica on a long-term contract last July.

Tavares is on the move again just over a year later, making the switch to Ligue 1 club Marseille for the 2022-23 campaign.

Arsenal confirmed the move on Saturday, although it was reported there is no buy option in the deal, meaning Tavares will return to Emirates Stadium next season.

The 22-year-old Portuguese made 28 appearances in his first season for Mikel Arteta's side, scoring one and providing two assists.

With first-choice left-back Kieran Tierney returning from a knee injury, the versatile Oleksandr Zinchenko signed and Takehiro Tomiyasu able to provide cover, Tavares has been given the opportunity to get more first-team football under his belt.

He could make his debut in the French top flight in the opening game of the season against Reims a week on Sunday.

Tottenham have reportedly entered the race for 23-year-old Roma attacking midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo, with Juventus also heavily linked to the Italy international.

Zaniolo missed the entire 2020-21 season after suffering the second torn ACL of his career, but he made a successful return this past campaign, totalling 42 club appearances, including five goals and four assists in 10 Conference League fixtures.

The man with nine senior international caps has been linked with Juventus for some time now, but with the club yet to make any breakthrough, they could face competition from the Premier League.

TOP STORY – TOTTENHAM LOOK TO SWOOP IN FOR JUVENTUS TARGET

According to Tuttosport, Juventus and Roma have been holding discussions about different constructions of a deal for Zaniolo, including an iteration that would make it a loan this season with an option to buy after. The report mentions his price tag is believed to be between £30million and £40million.

With Tottenham set to play Roma in a friendly on Saturday, it is said to be an opportunity for the two clubs to sit down and discuss the possibility of a move.

Reports have claimed Spurs are willing to include Giovani Lo Celso in their bid, with the English club said to value the Argentinian at £17million.


ROUND-UP

– L'Equipe is reporting that Marseille are investigating a potential move for Inter's Alexis Sanchez.

– Fabrizio Romano says Chelsea have yet to receive an acceptable offer for 20-year-old striker Armando Broja after turning down a £30million bid from West Ham, and that he may be competing for first-team minutes this season.

– Fabrizio Romano is also reporting that Everton have approached Paris Saint-Germain about bringing 32-year-old Idrissa Gueye back to the club after he left in 2019.

– According to 90min, West Ham are in talks with Eintracht Frankfurt about 29-year-old wing-back Filip Kostic after having their first bid turned down.

Ajax, Newcastle United and Bayer Leverkusen are tracking 18-year-old forward Giovani, playing for Palmeiras in the Brazilian top division, according to ESPN Brasil.

Marseille have announced the signing of France defender Jonathan Clauss, who had previously been linked with Premier League giants Chelsea and Manchester United.

The Ligue 1 club, who appointed Igor Tudor as head coach after Jorge Sampaoli departed earlier this month, confirmed Clauss had signed a three-year deal on Wednesday.

Right-back Clauss was handed his France debut by Didier Deschamps during a friendly win over Ivory Coast in March and has appeared for the world champions four times to date.

Clauss enjoyed a fine campaign for Lens as they finished seventh in the French top flight last season, scoring five goals and adding 11 assists in 37 Ligue 1 appearances.

Only three players, including Paris Saint-Germain duo Kylian Mbappe (17) and Lionel Messi (14), teed up more goals than the 29-year-old in the competition, form that saw him linked with a switch to the Premier League and Atletico Madrid.

But in Ligue 1 he shall remain, with Marseille reportedly paying just €8million for the wing-back, who will hope to feature when France begin their World Cup campaign against Australia on November 22.

Marseille also announced the loan signing of goalkeeper Ruben Blanco from Celta Vigo, having allowed club legend Steve Mandanda to leave earlier this month.

Chelsea have marked Sevilla's Jules Kounde as their centre-back of the future after a deal for Manchester City's Nathan Ake fell apart.

An agreement had been taking shape to bring 27-year-old Ake back to Stamford Bridge – where he began his Premier League career – before City decided to retain the services of the Netherlands international.

Instead, 23-year-old Kounde is now in Chelsea's sights, likely as a long-term solution after also securing 31-year-old centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli for a fee reportedly just shy of £34million.


TOP STORY – CHELSEA ENTER THE KOUNDE RACE

Kounde has already racked up 150 games of top league experience between his time with Bordeaux in Ligue 1 and Sevilla in LaLiga, and is expected to cost in the range of £56million, according to ESPN.

The France international, with 11 senior caps for his country, also has an impeccable injury history, tallying 184 appearances in all club competitions in just the past four seasons, with no significant injuries.

Chelsea will be mainly competing against Barcelona, with the Spanish giants reportedly already agreeing to personal terms with Kounde, and reports claim they are willing to exchange Memphis Depay or Sergino Dest to get a deal done.

Barcelona may be unable to afford the move unless Sevilla are willing to take back a player, as their £65m deal for Raphinha and their chase of Robert Lewandowski could restrict their financial flexibility

ROUND-UP

Aston Villa have placed a £20million price tag on 18-year-old midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka to try to fend off interest from Manchester United, Manchester City and Newcastle United, according to Talksport.

– The Athletic is reporting that 29-year-old Jesse Lingard is considering a highly paid move to Saudi Arabia.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, Arsenal are set to agree to personal terms with Manchester City's Oleksandr Zinchenko.

– Sky Sport in Germany claims Bayern Munich are close to securing Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt for around €80million.

– The Independent is reporting that William Saliba will try to push his way out of Arsenal if he is not guaranteed a place in Mikel Arteta's starting line-up, with Marseille and Atletico Madrid named as interested parties.

Marseille have announced goalkeeper Steve Mandanda has left the club via mutual agreement, two years ahead of his contract expiring, having played a record 613 times for the club.

Mandanda, who has 34 caps for France and served as understudy to Hugo Lloris during Les Blues' 2018 World Cup win, extended his contract at the Stade Velodrome in August 2020 to run until the end of the 2023-24 season.

But Marseille announced on Wednesday that he would depart earlier than anticipated, amid links with fellow Ligue 1 sides Rennes and Nice in recent weeks.

"Olympique de Marseille and Steve Mandanda have decided to separate by mutual agreement," read a statement on the club's website.

"OM would like to sincerely thank Steve for everything he has brought to the club since 2007. With 613 games in the Olympian jersey, he has unquestionably become an Olympian legend.

"The club wishes him the best for the future."

Mandanda's mammoth appearances tally is the highest in Marseille's history, and every one of them came as a starter after he joined the side – initially on loan – from Le Havre in 2007.

But the 37-year-old made just nine appearances, keeping five clean sheets, as Marseille finished as Ligue 1 runners-up last season, having lost his number one spot to former Real Betis and Roma goalkeeper Pau Lopez.

While he spent 15 years on Marseille's books, Mandanda did spend one season in the Premier League with Crystal Palace in 2016-17 before returning to Stade Veledrome as a free agent.

Marseille have confirmed the exit of Jorge Sampaoli as coach, with the Argentine departing Stade Velodrome just under a year and a half after his arrival.

The 62-year-old succeeded Andre Villas-Boas at the helm of the Ligue 1 outfit last March, and guided them to a second-place finish behind champions Paris Saint-Germain in his only full season in charge.

Yet just weeks after earning Champions League qualification, the former Albiceleste boss is on his way after reportedly growing frustrated with a lack of transfer activity and ambition from the club.

"[We] would like to sincerely and warmly thank the work of Jorge Sampaoli," read an official club statement.

"We are satisfied with the progress made and the emotions experienced together, but following a long reflection, the two parties [...] have agreed to put an end to this stage [of their careers].

Club president Pablo Longoria will now begin a search for a successor to Sampaoli, who leaves with 36 wins from 67 games in charge, and with a season still to run on his contract.

Paris Saint-Germain eased to a record-equalling 10th Ligue 1 title in the 2021-22 campaign, with Lille and Monaco the likely contenders to challenge the French giants in the following campaign.

Mauricio Pochettino's future remains uncertain at PSG despite securing the French top-flight title with four games to spare last season, with Nice's Christophe Galtier linked with the potential vacancy.

PSG have to wait until the ninth matchday to face Nice on October 2, but visit Lyon the game before on September 18 and face early clashes with Lille and Monaco on matchday four and five respectively.

The Ligue 1 champions host Marseille in the season's first Le Classique meeting on October 16, while PSG will have to negotiate a tricky period in February.

PSG visit Monaco on February 12 and Marseille two weeks later, either side of a home clash with Lille, who were the last side to deny Les Parisiens the championship in the 2020-21 term.

Away trips to AJ Auxerre and Strasbourg then precede a final matchday home clash with Clermont as PSG search for their ninth Ligue 1 crown in the last 11 seasons.

PSG's Ligue 1 fixtures in full:

07/08/2022 - Clermont (a)
14/08/2022 - Montpellier (h)
21/08/2022 - Lille (a)
28/08/2022 - Monaco (h)
31/08/2022 - Toulouse (a)
04/09/2022 - Nantes (a)
11/09/2022 - Brest (h)
18/09/2022 - Lyon (a)
02/10/2022 - Nice (h)
09/10/2022 - Reims (a)
16/10/2022 - Marseille (h)
23/10/2022 - AC Ajaccio (a)
30/10/2022 - Troyes (h)
06/11/2022 - Lorient (a)
13/11/2022 - AJ Auxerre (h)
28/12/2022 - Strasbourg (h)
01/01/2023 - Lens (a)
11/01/2023 - Angers (h)
15/01/2023 - Rennes (a)
29/01/2023 - Reims (h)
01/02/2023 - Montpellier (a)
05/02/2023 - Toulouse (h)
12/02/2023 - Monaco (a)
19/02/2023 - Lille (h)
26/02/2023 - Marseille (a)
05/03/2023 - Nantes (h)
12/03/2023 - Brest (a)
19/03/2023 - Rennes (h)
02/04/2023 - Lyon (h)
09/04/2023 - Nice (a)
16/04/2023 - Lens (h)
23/04/2023 - Angers (a)
30/04/2023 - Lorient (h)
07/05/2023 - Troyes (a)
14/05/2023 - AC Ajaccio (h)
21/05/2023 - AJ Auxerre (a)
27/05/2023 - Strasbourg (a)
03/06/2023 - Clermont (h)

William Saliba has said he wants to show Arsenal his "true face" next season.

The France international has still not played for the Gunners since his transfer from Saint-Etienne in 2019, reportedly worth around £27million (€31.5m).

Loan moves with Saint-Etienne, Nice and Marseille have followed, but now the 21-year-old centre back is eager to finally show his parent club what they bought three years ago, although he admits he does not know if the Premier League club still want him.

Speaking to Telefoot, Saliba said: "I belong to Arsenal, I still have two years left [on my contract].

"I will be back with Arsenal. I have played zero matches and I still want to show them my true face and have the chance to play for these fans and this great club.

"But it doesn't just depend on me. In any case, to leave like this, would be a shame."

Saliba enjoyed a strong 2021-22 season at Marseille, finishing second in Ligue 1 and reaching the semi-finals of the inaugural Europa Conference League.

He played 36 games in Ligue 1, keeping 13 clean sheets, and attempted 490 passes more than any other player in the French top flight (3,044), completing 599 more than anyone else (2,834).

Asked to describe his campaign in one word, he said: "Surprising, or magical. It's my first full season. I was keen to show who I really am. It's a very positive assessment and really I'm very happy with my season.

"And that's why I had this little lump in my stomach saying to myself: 'Here you go to a club and you mustn't laugh, you mustn't have fun, you must play every game thoroughly.'

"It's as if I stayed at least two or three years, it's really special. Even if I don't come back to Marseille, I'll never forget. Thanks to OM, I spent a great course in my career and it was they who boosted me."

Aston Villa have announced the signing of Boubacar Kamara from Marseille on a five-year contract.

The 22-year-old midfielder had been linked with a move to Villa Park, with manager Steven Gerrard reportedly present at a recent game at the Stade Velodrome.

Kamara will join the Premier League club on a free transfer at the end of his contract, which expires at the end of next month.

The Frenchman primarily plays as a defensive midfielder, but can also fill in at centre-back and was a big part of Marseille's strong 2021-22 campaign, which saw them finish second in Ligue 1 and reach the semi-finals of the Europa Conference League.

Of midfielders in the French top division this season, only Johan Gastien and Jordan Ferri made more than Kamara's 2,383 passes, while of those who made over 1,000 passes, only five players had better accuracy than his 90.68 per cent.

After the signing was confirmed, Gerrard told Villa's official website: "I am delighted that we have been able to attract one of the most promising young talents in European football.

"We have a very clear plan to make our team stronger and Bouba is an important part of that."

The former France Under-21 international also explained that a meeting with Gerrard and other Villa representatives convinced him to join the Midlands club.

"When I met with Steven, Christian [Purslow, chief executive] and Johan [Lange, sporting director], I knew Aston Villa was for me," Kamara said.

"Their ambition and determination to succeed matches my own. I cannot wait for pre-season to get going."

Speculation over Declan Rice's future has long centred on an apparently inevitable departure from West Ham United.

The Hammers run to the Europa League semi-final has amplified talk around the England international midfielder, with Chelsea and Manchester United linked.

According to reports, though, the 23-year-old appears content at London Stadium with a World Cup on the horizon.

 

TOP STORY – DECLAN RICE TO STICK WITH WEST HAM    

Declan Rice will not leave West Ham despite interest from Manchester United and Chelsea, according to The Mirror.

The 23-year-old has been reticent to sign a new deal at the club, but he is reportedly in no hurry to leave yet either, seemingly wanted to stay settled ahead of November's World Cup in Qatar.

United have looked to Rice as one of their primary transfer targets as Erik ten Hag looks to overhaul the squad, but Rice appears set for one more season at West Ham following their run to the Europa League semi-final this term.

Hammers management had previously advised that Rice is not for sale, and strong performances at the World Cup with England would likely only increase his already lofty market value.

ROUND-UP

Real Madrid are showing interest in Milan's Rafael Leao after Kylian Mbappe opted to stay at Paris Saint-Germain, according to Marca.

– Los Blancos are also looking to scupper Liverpool's move for Aurelien Tchouameni, despite the player having already agreed terms with the Reds so say The Mirror.

Barcelona are discussing personal terms with Marcos Alonso, who is set to leave Chelsea, Fabrizio Romano reports.

– Arsenal defender William Saliba wants to stay at Marseille, where he has been on loan, per Goal.

Feyenoord clung on to a first-leg Europa Conference League semi-final lead to progress to the final after holding Marseille to a 0-0 draw at Stade Velodrome for a 3-2 aggregate victory.

The Eredivisie outfit weathered an everything-but-the-kitchen sink performance in attack from their hosts amid a frequently raucous atmosphere in Provence to make history.

It takes the Dutch side to a first major European final appearance since 2002, when they defeated Borussia Dortmund to claim what was then the UEFA Cup.

But for Jorge Sampaoli, it will be a draw that tastes like defeat as Les Olympiens missed the chance for a shot at their first bit of continental silverware since the 2005 Intertoto Cup.

With Marseille coming into the match needing a victory to at the very least enforce a run into extra time and penalties, it was a lively opening half and hour from the hosts.

Backed by an army of flare-wielding fans – to the point that visibility was seriously reduced by smoke over the first quarter-hour – they pressed hard for an early advantage.

Yet Arne Slot's charges held firm, and the Ligue 1 side were handed a hefty creative blow when Dmitri Payet was forced off with an innocuous issue in the 33rd minute.

Luis Sinisterra subsequently missed a chance to craft a two-goal aggregate cushion for Feyenoord straight after the break when he pushed his header into Steve Mandanda's gloves.

With time running out to find an answer, tempers began to flare across the final quarter too, with Gerson and Lutsharel Geertruida physically squaring off at one point.

Another fracas between both sets of players set the tone for a tempestuous final few minutes – but with Marseille unable to ultimately crack the Dutch defence, it was their visitors who held on to set up a trip to Tirana, where they will face Roma.

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