Chelsea have reportedly already conducted a medical for RB Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku with the aim of signing him at the end of this season.

It has long been thought Nkunku's time at Leipzig was coming to an end, but the Bundesliga club retained his services in the most recent transfer window, potentially setting him up for a 2023 departure.

Nkunku is off to a terrific start to the Bundesliga season, netting four goals from seven games, and while the interest in him is expected to be wide-ranging, Chelsea have used their relationship with Leipzig in an effort to jump to the front of the queue.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA COMPLETE SECRET NKUNKU MEDICAL, PREPARE TO TRIGGER RELEASE CLAUSE

According to Bild, Nkunku has a release clause in his contract set at €60million, and Chelsea are prepared to trigger it at the conclusion of this campaign.

Chelsea and Leipzig have done plenty of business together previously, including sales of Timo Werner in either direction and advanced negotiations around young centre-back Josko Gvardiol. It appears Nkunku was also discussed at length, and the German club were willing to let Chelsea take a closer look at the in-demand attacker ahead of any official bids being made.

With Gvardiol also remaining a potential target for new Chelsea coach Graham Potter – with his price tag set at a huge €90m – this could turn into one of the most expensive package deals ever.

ROUND-UP

– According to the Daily Star, Erling Haaland weighed up a potential move to Liverpool before eventually choosing Manchester City, but he categorically ruled out Manchester United.

– Football Insider is reporting Aston Villa are considering Mauricio Pochettino and Unai Emery for their next manager if Steven Gerrard is fired.

– Football Insider also claims Leicester City's James Maddison is "very keen" on a move to Tottenham after reports they are keeping tabs on the 25-year-old midfielder.

Chelsea will give Christian Pulisic a chance to prove his value before making a decision on his future, per 90min.

– Sport is reporting Juventus are planning a January move for Barcelona left-back Jordi Alba.

Big-spending French club Nice have struggled to start the new Ligue 1 season, with only eight points from eight games.

Ambitious Nice are sitting 13th in the table, leading to pressure on head coach Lucien Favre.

The Ligue 1 outfit finished fifth last term and have recently signed Aaron Ramsey, Ross Barkley, Alexis Beka Beka and Kasper Schmeichel.

TOP STORY – NICE KEEN ON PARKER WITH POCHETTINO NOT INTERESTED

Nice are interested in a surprise move for ex-Fulham and Bournemouth boss Scott Parker, claims Foot Mercato.

Favre is under pressure, with ex-Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino reportedly their first choice to replace him.

The Evening Standard claims Pochettino is not interested in the Nice role and instead will wait for a head coaching position with a top club in England, Spain or Italy. 

ROUND-UP

– 90min reports Manchester United will offer fresh deals to Marcus Rashford and Diogo Dalot. The pair's contracts are both due to expire in mid-2023, albeit with the option of one-year extensions, but United want to lock them down beyond that.

– Erik ten Hag will decide on Donny van de Beek's future at United in October, according to the Manchester Evening News. The Dutchman has only managed three appearances this term.

– Fabrizio Romano reports Tottenham target Kim Min-Jae has a release clause in his Napoli contract after joining the Italian club from Fenerbahce in July, but it cannot be triggered in January. Napoli are happy with the centre-back's impact and are not interested in letting him go.

Chelsea target Anthony Gordon is in the midst of contract talks with Everton that are "progressing well", claims inews. Gordon is set for a substantial pay rise.

Leicester City are set to offer manager Brendan Rodgers more time to turn around the side's poor start to the new season, although the reception of fans towards him at their next home game will be a factor for key decision makers, reports The Athletic.

Arsenal teenager Ethan Nwaneri has captured the imaginations of England's top clubs after becoming the youngest player in Premier League history, with Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool all reportedly interested.

Nwaneri broke the record when he came on as a substitute in stoppage time of Arsenal's 3-0 win against Brentford on Sunday, becoming the first 15-year-old to appear in the competition.

His appearance – and subsequent praise from manager Mikel Arteta – did not go unnoticed, and it seems he is set to become one of English football's most talked-about youngsters.

TOP STORY – 15-YEAR-OLD NWANERI CATCHES THE EYE OF CITY, UNITED AND LIVERPOOL

With Nwaneri still classified as a schoolboy and not set to receive a scholarship with Arsenal until he turns 16 in March, The Times says he is being tracked by United, City and Liverpool.

The report suggests the interest being shown towards him by the country's most decorated clubs may have had some bearing on Arsenal's decision to hand him his debut, although Arteta was adamant it was only due to injuries limiting his bench options.

Whether he remains with the first-team set-up when healthy reinforcements return is unknown, and Arteta's messages were mixed. 

As well as saying "we need to create as many scenarios as possible for him to put his talent to the service of the team", Arteta also added Nwaneri should not expect his meteoric rise to continue at the same pace, adding: "After this, maybe he needs three [steps] backwards to go another forward."

ROUND-UP

– Calciomercato is reporting Juventus officials will meet on Friday to discuss the future of Massimiliano Allegri, with the club sitting eighth in the Serie A table with two wins from seven matches.

– According to La Gazzetta Dello Sport, Chelsea target Rafael Leao would like to remain with Milan and is working on a contract extension. 

– Marseille loanee Arkadiusz Milik is impressing during his stint with Juventus, who are interested in activating a €7million buy option in his loan agreement, according to Calciomercato.

Nice are hoping to hire Mauricio Pochettino to replace coach Lucien Favre after two wins from their first eight games, per ESPN, although The Telegraph claims Pochettino has no interest in the role.

Even accounting for Chelsea's shoddy start to the Champions League, few would have expected Thomas Tuchel to be out of a job by Wednesday.

The Blues started their European campaign with a lacklustre 1-0 setback at Dinamo Zagreb, a result that follows an underwhelming trend to start the season.

With three wins, two losses and one draw from six games, the Blues sit sixth in the infant Premier League table.

Still, most would have expected Tuchel – who has won the Champions League and Club World Cup with Chelsea – to be afforded more time to bed in the likes of Raheem Sterling, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Wesley Fofana and Kalidou Koulibaly following a big-spending transfer window under the club's new owners led by Todd Boehly.

But, alas, he has not, and for the first time Chelsea are after a new boss under their new regime. We have taken a look at the most likely candidates to replace Tuchel at Stamford Bridge.

MAURICIO POCHETTINO

The last time Chelsea were looking for a successor for a sacked manager, they turned to a former Paris Saint-Germain boss in Tuchel to replace club legend Frank Lampard. Might history repeat itself here? Certainly Pochettino would be attainable after the Argentine departed the Parc des Princes in July despite winning the Ligue 1 title. Pochettino also brings extensive knowledge of the Premier League having managed Southampton before joining Tottenham in May 2014. Pochettino failed to deliver major silverware but did lead the club to the 2019 Champions League final and secured four straight top-four finishes.

GRAHAM POTTER

A name that has cropped up early in the bookmakers' odds is Brighton and Hove Albion boss Potter, a man who has earned plenty of admirers due to the attractive brand of football employed by his Seagulls side. Having coached Swedish side Ostersund for seven years, Potter joined Swansea City in 2018 and a year later made the move to the Amex Stadium. After finishing 15th and 16th in his first two top-flight seasons, Brighton placed ninth last term and Potter has long been tipped for bigger things, with his case boosted by a fantastic start to the 2022-23 season.

ZINEDINE ZIDANE

Another boss out of work, though reports suggest Zidane remains keen to take on the France job should Didier Deschamps leave after Qatar 2022. One of the greatest players of all time, Zidane has also enjoyed success in the dugout at Real Madrid. Over two spells as coach at the Santiago Bernabeu, Zidane won three Champions League titles (all in a row from 2016 to 2018), two LaLiga medals, and the Club World Cup twice among a plethora of honours. He also showed his ability to manage big egos at the Santiago Bernabeu, a trait that may appeal to Boehly.

BRENDAN RODGERS

A move that would probably represent an outside bet given Leicester City's shoddy start to the season that sees them winless after six matches and rooted to the bottom of the table, but there is context behind that – including the sale of Fofana to Chelsea. Rodgers previously managed Liverpool and went agonisingly close to winning the title in the 2013-14 season – eventually finishing runners-up to Manchester City. After an impressive spell with Celtic, Rodgers returned to English football with Leicester and defeated Chelsea in the 2020-21 FA Cup final. Moreover, Rodgers is a familiar face at Stamford Bridge having managed the club's reserve side from 2006-2008.

DIEGO SIMEONE

Simeone is an undoubted legend at Atletico Madrid, where he has managed to consistently compete against heavyweight rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona in LaLiga for over a decade. A two-time league winner, to go with medals in the Europa League, Copa del Rey and Supercopa a Espana, Simeone knows how to win trophies – even though two runs to the final of the Champions League both ended in defeat to Real Madrid. But having finished third and 15 points off the top last term, and started this season in patchy form (two wins, a draw and a defeat from four games), perhaps Simeone may finally be swayed by the prospect of pastures new.

Jose Mourinho's words of advice to Dele Alli have been well publicised ever since the release of the Tottenham-focused All Or Nothing documentary series in 2020.

"I am 56 now and yesterday I was 20. Time flies. One day I think you will regret it if you don't reach what you can reach," the former Spurs boss told Alli, who for the first time in his rough career was, at the start of the 2019-20 season, enduring a rough patch of form.

"I am not expecting you to be the man of the match every game. I am not expecting you to score goals every game. I want just to tell you that you will regret it. You should demand more from yourself."

Less than 18 months after the documentary aired, Alli's Tottenham spell was over, moving to Everton on what was initially a free transfer at the age of 25.

Frank Lampard was confident he could reinvigorate the midfielder, whose ability to find space in the area had often drawn comparisons to the Chelsea great. Yet with Everton fighting to survive, questions over the sensibility of the transfer were raised.

Now, his stint at Goodison Park is coming to an end, at least for the season. Alli has joined Turkish club Besiktas on loan, and while a hero's welcome in Istanbul will surely have been a boost to his confidence, it is hard not to look back at Mourinho's words and think where did it all go wrong for one of England's brightest prospects?

Superstar in the making

Alli's rise was nothing short of sensational. Having signed from MK Dons, Alli made his Premier League bow for Spurs against Manchester United in August 2015. He went on to score 10 top-flight goals and provide nine assists in a remarkable breakout campaign.

His best season followed in 2016-17, when he scored 22 goals in 50 appearances across all competitions, averaging a goal every 182 minutes. He followed that up with 29 direct goal involvements (14 goals, 15 assists) in the 2017-18 campaign, and was a key player for Gareth Southgate as England went on to reach the World Cup semi-finals at Russia 2018. It is hard to see him being involved in Qatar this time around.

Given a free role behind Harry Kane in Mauricio Pochettino's side, Eriksen was able to thrive, running beyond the striker to latch onto pinpoint Christian Eriksen deliveries, or able to find pockets of space on the edge of the box to show his prowess with shots from range. He truly looked to have it all.

Hard times in north London

Spurs reached the Champions League final in 2019, but it would be fair to say even by that stage, Alli's impact had started to wane. Injuries did not help, but he managed only eight direct goal contributions in the Premier League that season and failed to score in Europe.

Pochettino's tenure came to an end in November 2019. Alli had scored twice in the league prior to Pochettino's dismissal, but had been particularly close to his coach (indeed, when Alli left Spurs, he paid tribute to the impact the Argentine had on his career).

Mourinho arrived and, while some hard truths might have been given behind the scenes, Alli looked sharp in the Portuguese's first weeks at the club. But the promising signs did not last, and prior to the coronavirus-enforced lockdown of March 2020, he was by no means a guaranteed starter.

Alli finished the elongated Premier League campaign with eight goals in 25 appearances, but in Mourinho's first full season in charge he was relegated to a benchwarmer, making just two top-tier starts before the former Manchester United and Chelsea manager was sacked in April 2021. 

Nuno Espirito Santo attempted to play Alli deep in midfield in his short-lived Spurs spell, and his last goal for the club did come under the ex-Wolves boss, from the spot in a 1-0 win at Molineux. Yet Antonio Conte started him just twice in the competition, and the writing was on the wall when he was left out of Tottenham's squad altogether for a meeting with Chelsea in January.

Goodison to Istanbul

Alli and Lampard both spoke glowingly of the transfer to Everton, sealed on the last day of the January window.

Those words did not translate into minutes for Alli, though. He came on for his Everton debut in a 3-1 loss to Newcastle United in February, and despite a promising cameo in a 3-0 defeat of Leeds United, time on the pitch was even tougher to come by as the Toffees slipped further into the relegation dogfight.

While Alli came on to play a key role in a 1-1 draw with Leicester City, it did seem as though whatever plan Lampard had for the midfielder had been cast to one side, but a game-changing performance in Everton's survival-clinching comeback win over Crystal Palace in May suggested there could be a place for him at Goodison this season, especially following Richarlison's sale to Spurs.

Even without a recognised striker fit to feature from the off in matches against Chelsea and Aston Villa, though, Lampard went with Gordon – himself set for a move to London – up front over Alli, who had deputised in an attacking role in pre-season.

Last week, reports of Besiktas' interest were confirmed by Lampard, and once again the writing was on the wall, especially with Everton wary that if Alli played 20 times (he finishes with 13 appearances, no goals or assists and only seven chances created), they would have to fork out £10million to Tottenham.

Now, it is in Turkey that Alli will attempt to revive a career that once promised so much. He joins Istanbul on loan with an option for the Istanbul club to buy. It is hard not to think he won't have Mourinho's comments running around his head.

Mauricio Pochettino does not believe Kylian Mbappe had a big say in his sacking and maintains he did a good job at Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG parted company with the Argentine coach in July, just 18 months after appointing him as head coach, naming Christophe Galtier as his replacement.

The former Tottenham boss won the Ligue 1 title last season, the Coupe de France in 2021 and the Trophee des Champions during his short reign.

Pochettino was unable to mastermind a first Champions League triumph for the Parisian giants, though, as they were knocked out by Real Madrid after squandering a two-goal lead in the last-16 stage.

There has been talk of Mbappe perhaps having increased power at PSG after he snubbed Madrid to sign a new contract, but Pochettino does not think the France forward pushed for him to be fired.

Pochettino said in a long interview with Infobae: "What I think is that PSG have done everything possible to retain Kylian and I also agree with that.

"He is one of the best players in world football today and I think that PSG, having all the resources to do it, have convinced him to stay.

"But I don't think Kylian is the one who designed the new project either. Those who rule, in this case the president [Nasser Al-Khelaifi], are those who would have thought that the most convenient thing was a new project in the club."

 

Pochettino feels there is too great an obsession with winning the Champions League at PSG, with anything but lifting the trophy deemed to be a failure.

"The only thing that has changed a bit now [from when he played for PSG] is the expectation, which is the Champions League, the Champions League and the Champions League," he said.

"The obsession is the Champions League and everything that is not winning the Champions League is synonymous with failure, but not for us. I believe that.

"We have done a job in which we have been honest, we have worked as hard as we could, and we had that misfortune in the last minutes against Madrid.

"We reached a semi-final last year when Mbappe was injured in the first leg against Manchester City, and with him in Manchester we could have reached the final after knocking out Barcelona and Bayern Munich. In other words, I think we have done a good job, perhaps not recognised externally because the expectation was to win the Champions League."

Mauricio Pochettino expressed his pride at ending his Paris Saint-Germain tenure as a Ligue 1 champion after his departure was confirmed.

PSG confirmed Pochettino's long-expected exit on Tuesday, appointing former Lille and Nice coach Christophe Galtier as his replacement on a two-year contract.

Despite PSG winning their 10th Ligue 1 title in dominant fashion last season, the writing appeared to be on the wall for Pochettino since a spectacular collapse in a 3-2 aggregate Champions League defeat to Real Madrid in March.

That represented PSG's fourth last-16 Champions League elimination in the last six seasons, while the former Tottenham boss also missed out on the Ligue 1 title to Lille – coached by Galtier – in his first half-season in France.

Since Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) acquired the club in 2011, meanwhile, only Carlo Ancelotti (63.6) has recorded a lower win percentage as PSG boss than Pochettino (65.5).

But writing on Instagram, Pochettino chose to focus on his successes and expressed his gratitude at being given the chance to lead the club, for whom he made 95 appearances as a player.

"I want to wish everyone at PSG the very best for the future – the owners, the board, the players, all the staff and the supporters," Pochettino wrote.

"To Nasser [Al-Khelaifi, PSG president] – I want to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of the PSG family again.

"We enjoyed some amazing moments and big wins all together and, as a coaching staff, with every experience we always take learnings to advance our evolution for the future.

"We are proud to finish as league champions at a club that has meant so much to me and my family, from my time here as a player and a captain, and now as a coach."

Christophe Galtier has been confirmed as the new Paris Saint-Germain head coach after Mauricio Pochettino left the Ligue 1 champions.

PSG won the league by a margin of 15 points in the 2021-22 season, but Pochettino departed on Tuesday following his failure to deliver their first Champions League title.

Galtier is the man who has been trusted to take over at PSG, strongly supported by new sporting director Luis Campos.

Campos and Galtier have worked together previously when they combined at Lille to create the team that pipped PSG to the Ligue 1 title by a point in 2020-21.

 

Galtier left Lille days after they won that championship, joining Nice.

But he spent only a single season on the French Riviera – finishing fifth and reaching the Coupe de France final – before leaving late last month, with Nice bringing back Lucien Favre as his replacement.

That move came as speculation persisted around Galtier's move to PSG, with Pochettino's exit anticipated since the end of last season.

Pochettino's departure was confirmed just hours before Galtier appeared alongside PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi at a news conference.

Galtier will be tasked with finally ending PSG's wait for Champions League glory, their latest failure in the competition coming in a second-leg collapse against eventual winners Real Madrid in the last 16.

He becomes the club's sixth coach since 2012.

Paris Saint-Germain have confirmed the departure of Mauricio Pochettino, with Christophe Galtier expected to be named as their new head coach later on Tuesday.

Pochettino's dismissal had long been expected, with PSG again failing to find success in the Champions League last season.

The former Tottenham manager did deliver the Ligue 1 title, but a last-16 defeat to Real Madrid in European competition continued the club's wait for continental glory.

A PSG statement only said the club had "ended their collaboration" with Pochettino, although it was expected he would be sacked with Galtier lined up by Luis Campos, the new football advisor who worked with the former Nice coach at Lille.

"The club would like to thank Mauricio Pochettino and his staff for their work and wish them all the best for the future," the statement added.

Pochettino, who spent two and a half years at PSG as a player, had been in charge since January 2021.

He won the Trophee des Champions and Coupe de France in his first season in Paris – the first major honours of his coaching career – before adding the league championship in 2021-22.

But Campos' arrival signalled a close-season rebuild, even with Kylian Mbappe remaining at the club on a new contract following interest from Real Madrid.

PSG will hold a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, with Galtier in line for the top job in the capital.

Christophe Galtier has been confirmed as the new Paris Saint-Germain head coach after Mauricio Pochettino left the Ligue 1 champions.

PSG won the league by a margin of 15 points in the 2021-22 season, but Pochettino departed on Tuesday following his failure to deliver their first Champions League title.

Galtier is the man who has been trusted to take over at PSG, strongly supported by new sporting director Luis Campos.

Campos and Galtier have worked together previously when they combined at Lille to create the team that pipped PSG to the Ligue 1 title by a point in 2020-21.

 

Galtier left Lille days after they won that championship, joining Nice.

But he spent only a single season on the French Riviera – finishing fifth and reaching the Coupe de France final – before leaving late last month, with Nice bringing back Lucien Favre as his replacement.

That move came as speculation persisted around Galtier's move to PSG, with Pochettino's exit anticipated since the end of last season.

Pochettino's departure was confirmed just hours before Galtier appeared alongside PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi at a news conference.

Galtier will be tasked with finally ending PSG's wait for Champions League glory, their latest failure in the competition coming in a second-leg collapse against eventual winners Real Madrid in the last 16.

He becomes the club's sixth coach since 2012.

Well that was all a bit forgettable, wasn't it?

Mauricio Pochettino is no longer Paris Saint-Germain head coach after the two parties agreed to part ways.

The club confirmed their parting on Tuesday, with former Lyon and Nice coach Christophe Galtier expected to come in as his replacement.

It was an appointment that excited many and seemed to promise much, given the fine job the Argentine had previously done at Tottenham.

But as it transpired, Pochettino simply became the latest in a succession of top-class coaches to fall short of PSG's ultimate goal: winning the Champions League.

Frankly, when rumours of Pochettino's departure began to swirl in June, few would have been surprised. In reality, he's looked close to the brink for most of his 18 months in charge – some might even suggest he's lucky to have lasted this long.
 

Success tempered by failure

Let's not forget, the mighty PSG were pipped to the Ligue 1 title by Lille in the 2020-21 campaign, a few months into Pochettino's reign. His brief time in charge clearly wasn't seen as much of an excuse given there were reports claiming his job was already under threat by April 2021.

Talk of a potential return to Tottenham surfaced and then evaporated as PSG seemingly opted to stand by him, with the fact he got them to the Champions League semi-finals potentially showing there was a reason for optimism.

And then there was the connection with fellow Rosario-native and boyhood Newell's Old Boys fan Lionel Messi. Keeping Pochettino around surely couldn't do any harm with respect to helping the six-time Ballon d'Or winner settle in Paris.

While Pochettino can't solely be blamed for Messi not hitting similar heights to his Barcelona days, it's fair to say their connection has proven only anecdotal.

Of course, Pochettino does depart having won three trophies, including this season's Ligue 1 title. But at PSG, that is not even the bare minimum these days if good progress isn't made in Europe.

Were it not for Karim Benzema's almost superhuman exploits in the Champions League this season, who knows how far PSG would have gone?

They were 2-0 up on aggregate thanks to Kylian Mbappe's brilliance, but then Benzema took over. His 17-minute hat-trick in the second half of the second leg turned the tie on its head, and Madrid went on to enjoy similarly great escapes against Chelsea and Manchester City before beating Liverpool in the final.

Maybe that could have been PSG, but instead they were dumped out in the round of 16 for the fourth time in six seasons. The writing was on the wall for Pochettino.
 

A risk-free move or thankless task?

Joining Manchester United seemed to make sense as they stepped up their search for a permanent replacement for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but Erik ten Hag was ultimately the chosen one, robbing PSG of an easy solution to their problem.

It might be going too far to suggest Pochettino's reputation hasn't been damaged by a lack of (European) success and finishing second in Ligue 1 last season. After all, he has arguably underachieved – but in the context of PSG since the takeover, which coaches haven't?

Former PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti has now won the Champions League twice since leaving the Parisians. Unai Emery took Villarreal to the semi-finals this season. Thomas Tuchel won the competition with Chelsea just a few months after being shown the exit.

While the point isn't necessarily that PSG were wrong to let Ancelotti leave or get rid of Emery and Tuchel when they did. Rather, Pochettino's inability to end the club's Champions League wait needn't define him or colour his reputation.

Pochettino will likely still be sought after the next time one of Europe's biggest clubs is on the look-out for a new head coach, because to succeed at PSG is arguably one of the toughest tasks in football.

Sure, they sit on a pit of money and it seems like they enjoy a clean sweep of the domestic trophies most years, but the gulf to the rest of Ligue 1 is generally so massive that there's a degree of PSG almost being underprepared when heading into European competition.

Perhaps Pochettino was wrong to take the job in the first place. Given their tendency to throw money around with little regard, placing greatest importance on big-reputation signings, there was always likely to be an element of the club being mismatched with a coach whose teams are typically hard-working. But he'd have seen it almost as a free pass.

Ironically, PSG have now insisted they are looking to change their ways, and move away from "bling-bling" signings. Even the possibility of Cristiano Ronaldo potentially becoming available is reportedly not interesting them. We'll see how long that lasts, though.

PSG is a poisoned chalice, but as Pochettino's predecessors have shown, failure at the Parc des Princes needn't be his ruin. It's Galtier's problem now.

Paris Saint-Germain have confirmed the departure of Mauricio Pochettino, with Christophe Galtier expected to be named as their new head coach later on Tuesday.

Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro might make a seemingly eternal midfield composition, but Real Madrid still need to prepare for life after them.

Following the signings of Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni over the past two off-season transfer windows, Los Blancos will look for a third.

Reports suggest that what they are looking for is penalty area threat, and the intent is not necessarily to replace the attributes of the three veterans. All signs point to Germany, and Borussia Dortmund's England international Jude Bellingham.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID EYE BELLINGHAM AS FINAL PIECE OF MIDFIELD PUZZLE

Real Madrid will look to sign Bellingham in the 2023 off-season transfer window, according to Diario AS.

According to reports, Bellingham does not have a release clause in his deal at Dortmund and with his contract running to 2025, with the German club seeking a sale in excess of €100million.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid will not look to be the only suitors, with Chelsea and Liverpool also interested.

ROUND-UP

- Having already opened talks over Raheem Sterling, the Telegraph reports Chelsea are also looking to sign Manchester City's Nathan Ake.

- Meanwhile, Milan are considering a move for Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech, per Calciomercato.

Tottenham want to sign Everton duo Richarlison and Anthony Gordon, according to Sky Sports.

- Christophe Galtier is close to being named as PSG's new boss, with Mauricio Pochettino on the way out, ESPN reports.

Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi insists the club never approached Zinedine Zidane with an offer to become coach, as he confirmed interest in appointing Nice's Christophe Galtier.

Zidane has been strongly linked with PSG since leaving his post as Real Madrid boss last year, particularly as Mauricio Pochettino struggled to meet the lofty targets set by club owners Qatar Sports Investments.

Pochettino missed out on the 2020-21 Ligue 1 title after taking charge midway through the season, and although he led a star-studded collection of players to the French title the following campaign, he is widely expected to be dismissed after another disappointing Champions League effort.

Pochettino has been under pressure since PSG's dramatic 3-2 aggregate reverse to eventual winners Madrid in March, with Zidane touted as a replacement, but Al-Khelaifi says he has never been an option.

"I love Zidane, he was a fantastic player, of incredible class. An exceptional coach too, with three Champions Leagues," Al-Khelaifi told Le Parisien.

"But I'll tell you one thing: we never spoke with him, neither directly nor indirectly. A lot of clubs are interested in him, national teams too, but we have never talked to him.

"We have chosen a coach who will be the best for what we want to put in place."

Al-Khelaifi confirmed PSG's number one target is Galtier, the man who beat them to the 2020-21 title when in charge of Lille, and he hopes to appoint him soon.

"We are discussing with Nice, it is not a secret," Al-Khelaifi added. "I hope that we will find an agreement quickly, but I respect Nice and the president [Jean-Pierre] Rivere, everyone defends their interests."

With Pochettino set to leave the Parc des Princes and sporting director Leonardo having been effectively replaced by new football advisor Luis Campos, PSG are undertaking a significant rebuild after fending off Madrid's interest to tie Kylian Mbappe to a new contract last month.

The arrival of Lionel Messi last August capped an unprecedented recruitment drive from the club in 2021, with Sergio Ramos, Georginio Wijnaldum, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Nuno Mendes and Achraf Hakimi among their other significant incomings.

Al-Khelaifi admits the club's model must change, as he called for an end to the "bling-bling" approach of signing big-name superstars to grow the club's brand.

"The dream is one thing, the reality another. Perhaps we should also change our slogan... 'Dream bigger' is good but today, we must above all be realistic," he added.

"We don't want more flashy bling-bling, it's the end of glitter."

Zinedine Zidane has always been a man focused on Real Madrid and France and therefore would not take the Paris Saint-Germain role should it become available.

That is the message from Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, who briefly discussed the potential vacancy at PSG should reports prove to be true that Mauricio Pochettino will depart.

Pochettino lifted the Ligue 1 title with PSG in the 2021-22 season, his first trophy as a coach, but failed to deliver in the Champions League, falling to a last-16 exit against Madrid.

European glory remains the main goal for PSG's QSI ownership, with the understanding that Pochettino and the Ligue 1 giants have held discussions and agreed to part ways.

Zidane emerged as a frontrunner for the PSG job before Pochettino was appointed, but the preference of the 49-year-old remains to be seen.

Many believe Zidane is eyeing the France job should Didier Deschamps' Les Bleus role become available after the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

Zidane managed Madrid for two spells between 2016 and 2021, winning 11 trophies with Los Blancos – the second most successful manager in the club's history.

The Les Bleus great has also lifted PSG's much-desired Champions League crown on three occasions as a coach, with three consecutive successes in Europe's premier club competition between 2016 and 2018.

But Perez, speaking to the El Chiringuito programme in Spain, finds it hard to envisage PSG securing the services of Zidane.

 

"Zidane at Paris Saint-Germain? I don't know, but he's always been a man for Real Madrid and the French national team," Perez said. 

"That's what I know about him. But maybe he's now in a different situation."

Christophe Galtier, Julen Lopetegui and Marcelo Gallardo are also said to be among the favourites if Pochettino expectedly departs.

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