Chelsea are in the market to bolster their defence following the exits of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.

Thomas Tuchel's side have already added Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli for £35million.

The Blues are eager to add another centre-back to their ranks before the closure of the transfer window.

TOP STORY – BLUES TO MAKE WORLD-RECORD BID FOR FOFANA

Chelsea are preparing to make a world-record offer for Leicester City's French defender Wesley Fofana, reports Football London.

The Blues' bid would be the highest fee paid for a defender, having had a previous offer declined by the Foxes.

It is believed Chelsea's previous bid was £70m with Leicester insisting he is not for sale. Harry Maguire, sold by Leicester to Manchester United, holds the record for a defender at £80m.


ROUND-UP

– Manchester United are closing in on a deal for Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot, having reached an agreement with the Italian club for an initial £15m fee, according to The Guardian. France international Rabiot is in the final year of his contract with Juventus.

– 90min reports that United target Benjamin Sesko is close to agreeing to a deal with German club RB Leipzig. The report claims that 19-year-old Slovenian forward Sesko will move from Salzburg to Leipzig in 2023.

– United have also reached out to Real Betis on Guido Rodriguez's status according to AS, while the Red Devils are still considering Lazio's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, reports The Telegraph.

– Tottenham have reached an agreement with Udinese for winger Destiny Udogie for more than €20m, claims Fabrizio Romano. Udogie, however, will still on loan at Udinese this season.

– Monaco are keen on signing Manchester United defender Eric Bailly on loan, claims L'Equipe. The Ligue 1 club want the Ivorian, who is under contract until 2024, with an option to buy.

– Fiorentina will rival Villarreal for the signature of Tottenham's Giovani Lo Celso, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. The Argentina international spent time on loan with Villarreal last season.

Valencia will revive its interest in Tottenham's Bryan Gil following Goncalo Guades' move to Wolves, claims Diario AS.

– The Telegraph claims Milan have re-opened talks with Chelsea's Moroccan winger Hakim Ziyech who has been transfer listed.

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.

Europa League finalists Rangers will have to negotiate past Royale Union Saint-Gilloise in the Champions League third qualifying round, where PSV meet Monaco.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side entered the qualifying stages through their second-place finish in last season's Scottish Premiership, where winners progress to the play-off stage and losers go automatically into the Europa League group stage.

Rangers also embarked on an impressive run to the Europa League final last season, getting past Borussia Dortmund, Braga and RB Leipzig before being defeated on penalties by Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville.

Union finished second in Belgium's First Division A after a 48-year top-flight absence and will pose a tough task in the two-legged clash, with the first meeting on August 2-3 before the return tie a week later.

Rangers lost at this round to Malmo last year and last made the group stage of UEFA's premier club competition back in 2010-11.

PSV were beaten Europa Conference League quarter-finalists last season, but the team now led by Ruud van Nistelrooy earned a shot at the Champions League after finishing second in the Eredivisie, and will face Monaco.

The Ligue 1 side seemed set to secure group-stage qualification themselves but will have to battle through qualification after they were pipped for second place on the final day of the season by Marseille.

In the other league path fixtures, the winner of Dynamo Kyiv and Fenerbahce will meet Austria's Sturm Graz, while last year's Champions League quarter-finalists Benfica will face either Midtjylland or AEK Larnaca.

The draw for the Champions League play-off round will be on August 1, with those ties taking place over August 16-17 and 23-24.

After recent issues with reliability putting a dent in their championship hopes, Ferrari were able to marginally recover at the British Grand Prix with Carlos Sainz's maiden Formula One race win.

It was a bittersweet Sunday for the Scuderia at Silverstone, however, with tactics scuppering a potential one-two finish with Charles Leclerc, who fell away to finish fourth on older hard tyres following a late safety car.

Ferrari capitalised to some extent, but were not able to take full advantage of Max Verstappen's damaged floor putting him out of contention for the race win.

Now heading into Red Bull's home race at the Austrian Grand Prix, the championship challengers simply must recover more ground if they are to mount a real threat in the standings.

Reigning world champion Verstappen has won the last two races and claimed the last two pole positions at Spielberg, however, making a repeat of Sunday's run to the chequered flag for Ferrari unlikely.

Red Bull have won three of the past four Austrian GPs, with Verstappen taking all three for the team.

The Red Bull Ring has been a happy hunting ground for the 24-year-old, reaching the podium six times, with two fastest laps as well as his four wins and two pole positions, with all being the most out of any circuit in his career.

A Ferrari win would prove an important historical moment for the team, though, as well as what it means in context of this season.

The Scuderia need only 23 points to be the first team in F1 to reach 9,000 points, while both they and Mercedes are one win away from equalling McLaren's record six wins in Austria.

Meanwhile, they are one clearout of the front row away from surpassing Mercedes for the most one-two qualifying finishes in F1, with both on 82.

Can Sainz push on after breaking through?

Carlos Sainz finally broke through at Silverstone, even declining team orders to collect the race win upon the resumption after the safety car.

Despite a tricky start to the season, Sainz has slowly developed confidence in the car, with six podiums this season

One more would see him surpass his total over the previous seven seasons in F1, and could be the first Spaniard since Fernando Alonso in 2010 to record back-to-back wins.

Austria does not follow 'El Plan'

Alonso's longevity and focus has been nothing short of extraordinary since returning to F1, but Austria has not been the most forthcoming of places for him.

Despite encouraging recent form, including a second place in qualifying in Canada and a fifth-place finish at Silverstone, the 40-year-old will be looking to change that.

The two-time world champion has appeared nine times at Spielberg, the circuit with his lowest aggregate of race wins, pole positions, fastest laps and podiums in his career.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 181
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 147
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 138
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 127
5. George Russell (Mercedes) 111

Constructors

1. Red Bull 328
2. Ferrari 265
3. Mercedes 204
4. McLaren 73
5. Alpine 67

Takumi Minamino has brought his Liverpool stay to an end by completing a move to Monaco.

The Japan international signed for the Reds in January 2020 but was unable to establish himself as a first-team regular.

During a two-and-a-half-year period at Anfield, Minamino scored 14 goals in 55 appearances.

He helped Liverpool win their first Premier League title in the 2019-20 season, before playing his part in an FA Cup and EFL Cup double in his final campaign on Merseyside.

While the fee for his move to France has not been confirmed by either club, Monaco are reported to be paying €15million (£12.9m), with an extra €3m (£2.6m) potentially forked out in bonuses.

Minamino has signed a four-year deal with Monaco, who finished third in Ligue 1 last term.

 

Monaco head coach Philippe Clement hopes Takumi Minamino can bring new qualities to his side as the Liverpool forward closes on a move to Ligue 1.

Minamino is widely expected to join Monaco in the coming days, with the club reportedly agreeing a €13.3million (£15.5m) deal to sign the Japan international.

The forward has scored four goals in 30 Premier League appearances for Liverpool since joining from Salzburg in 2020, but he started only five of those games as he struggled for regular minutes in Jurgen Klopp's star-studded side, spending half a season on loan at Southampton.

Ahead of Monaco's 1-0 friendly win over Cercle Brugge on Sunday, Clement revealed Minamino was set to complete his move to the principality and affirmed his belief in the 27-year-old's ability.

"I'm very happy, I've known him for a long time," Clement said of Minamino. "He was very high on our list. Everyone here is convinced that he has the qualities to bring something to the team.

"He already has experience and has done a lot of good things at Salzburg, in a style close to ours, just like at Liverpool where there is a lot of competition. That's why this is an opportunity."

Monaco ended the 2021-22 season third in Ligue 1, having finished the previous campaign in the same position.

Although he sees a future in coaching, Cesc Fabregas has ruled out immediate plans to retire following his confirmed departure from Monaco over the weekend.

The 35-year-old was only able to make two league appearances this past season, with ankle and hamstring injuries hampering his ability to see sustained time on the pitch.

Effectively without Fabregas, Monaco finished third in Ligue 1 behind Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille, defeating them both and losing only once in the final 12 games of the season after Niko Kovac's dismissal in December.

Asked on his desire to eventually coach, Fabregas insisted he wants to end his playing career on the right note first.

"First, I still want to play. I don't want to end like this," he told the Ligue 1 website. "It's been too bad a year to end like this. I want to have fun, to finish with good feelings.

"Nothing is decided, I am listening. I am open to everything. Maybe the level of club will have to drop, but there are teams of a lower level in the Champions League. One thing is clear. I'll go to a club where I'll play, where they believe in me."

Fabregas arrived in the principality in January 2019 with the added objective of helping younger players in the squad develop, as Monaco battled relegation under then-boss and former Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry.

Making 68 appearances over that period, the World Cup winner is content with his time in Monaco overall but seeks a more suitable punctuation mark to his playing career.

"At the time, I signed with one objective, to save the team, which was then 19th with 13 points," he said. "I took a big risk, because relegation was possible. We can be satisfied to have saved the team's top-flight status. I'm proud of what I contributed in those six months.

"When I came here, Thierry Henry and [former Monaco vice president] Vadim Vasilyev also asked me to help the youngsters develop. That was an important point.

"Today, I have the feeling that I have earned the respect and sympathy of this young generation. I hope I have helped. We like each other. I will continue to follow them, to talk with them.

"For me, these two and a half years have been positive. On the other hand, the past season was very bad, the worst of my career. By far, I've never experienced anything like it."

Monaco have confirmed that midfielder Cesc Fabregas will leave the club at the end of this month.

The former Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea star has been troubled by injuries during the 2021-22 season, playing just twice in a Ligue 1 campaign in which Monaco finished third behind Marseille and champions Paris Saint-Germain.

A statement from Monaco on Saturday confirmed the 35-year-old's imminent departure.

"The midfielder with more than 830 career games, whose contract is coming to an end, leaves the principality club three and a half years after his arrival," the statement read.

"AS Monaco thanks Cesc Fabregas for his [time] at the club and wishes him the best for the future. Moltes gracies, Cesc!"

 

Fabregas joined Monaco in January 2019 and had already revealed his intentions in May to leave the Stade Louis II, but he does not intend to retire from the game.

"It's sure that it's over between Monaco and me," Fabregas told French outlet So Foot last month. "My contract expires in June, and I'm looking for a fresh start. My head needs a fresh start elsewhere.

"It's the worst year not only in my career, but also in my life, because when I'm not happy in football, I'm not happy in my life. I suffered a lot this year, and it was hard mentally. You just have to stay strong."

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)

Ferrari's recent issues with reliability have put a major dent in their driver's and constructor's title hopes, but they will need to quickly bounce back at this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix.

It was a painful day for the Scuderia at the Azerbaijan GP on Sunday, with both cars retiring due to technical issues.

For Charles Leclerc, it was the second time in three races he was forced out because of a power unit problem while leading, and the fourth consecutive race where he failed to convert pole position into a race win.

Sergio Perez took full advantage in Baku, moving ahead of Leclerc in the driver's standings with his win, with Max Verstappen opening up a 34-point gap to the Ferrari driver.

With two retirements sandwiching Ferrari's strategic blunder at his home race in Monaco, the Monegasque moves to four wins from 15 pole positions, with only Jarno Trulli holding a lower conversion rate (25 per cent) among winning drivers in the history F1.

Meanwhile, only Michael Schumacher (+23) and Alain Prost (+18) have a higher differential between race wins and pole positions than Max Verstappen, who has claimed 25 and 14 respectively.

Verstappen will already be making his 150th GP appearance at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, looking for his sixth win of the season out of nine starts.

It would provide little solace to the 24-year-old but he has been in supreme form on the Saturday, claiming six poles out of eight this season, and could match his highest tally in a single season from 2019.

Pole position is not essential but it has proved to be convenient in recent years, with each of the past five winners in Montreal coming from the front of grid on the Saturday, the longest such streak in F1.

Since the opening race of the season in Bahrain, Ferrari remain one more one-two finish away from surpassing Mercedes for the most all-time in F1, with both on 82.

Ferrari customers facing similar strife

Problems have persisted for the factory team and Ferrari power unit customers since the first upgrade at the Miami Grand Prix, where Zhou Guanyu retired.

Both he and Leclerc then retired from the Spanish GP, after Valtteri Bottas was forced out of FP2 in the other Alfa Romeo due to an engine failure.

Both Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen experienced MGU-K failures in Monaco, before Leclerc, Magnussen and Zhou had power unit-related DNFs in Baku.

Red Bull in control

After rectifying their own reliability issues at the start of the season, Red Bull have picked up the pieces and are now in control of both championships.

Red Bull drivers have finished on the podium in 11 of their 13 finished races, securing the one-two in three of the last five Grands Prix and are one more from securing the highest tally in a single season.

The last time the team had six wins in the opening eight races of the season was when Sebastian Vettel coasted his way to the driver's title in 2011.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 150
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 129
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 116
4. George Russell (Mercedes) 99
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 83

Constructors

1. Red Bull 279
2. Ferrari 199
3. Mercedes 161
4. McLaren 65
5. Alpine 47

Real Madrid have agreed a deal for Monaco star Aurelien Tchouameni, who has reached terms on a six-year contract.

The Champions League holders will reportedly pay an €80million fee that could rise to €100m with add-ons for the France midfielder.

A short statement from Los Blancos read: "Real Madrid CF and AS Monaco have agreed on the transfer of the player Aurelien Tchouameni, who will be linked to the club for the next six seasons.

"Next Tuesday, June 14, at 12:00 at Real Madrid City, the presentation ceremony for Aurelien Tchouameni as a new Real Madrid player will take place after the corresponding medical examination."

Tchouameni emerged as one of the brightest young stars in European football last season.

He enjoyed a superb campaign as Monaco secured Champions League qualification with a third-placed finish in Ligue 1.

Tchouameni played 35 times for Monaco in Ligue 1, scoring three goals and providing two assists. He also found the net in the Coupe de France and Champions League.

The 22-year-old Tchouameni represents a threat at both ends of the pitch.

No Monaco player produced more successful passes in the opposition half than Tchouameni's 932, which put him seventh in Ligue 1.

He was fifth in Ligue 1 in tackles with 86 while his 260 duels won put him third in the division.

Tchouameni may have to wait for his opportunity to impact the Madrid midfield, which has a wealth of options.

Luka Modric, Casemiro and Toni Kroos occupied the midfield for Madrid's 1-0 win over Liverpool in the Champions League final.

Federico Valverde played in a more advanced role in that game but is experienced in the heart of midfield, an area from which Dani Ceballos and Eduardo Camavinga made valuable contributions to Madrid's LaLiga and Champions League double last season.

The competition for places will likely limit his minutes next season, but Tchouameni could hardly ask for better mentors after signing on as an heir apparent to Kroos and Modric.

Real Madrid have agreed a deal for Monaco star Aurelien Tchouameni, who has reached terms on a six-year contract.

The Champions League holders will reportedly pay an €80million fee that could rise to €100m with add-ons for the France midfielder.

A short statement from Los Blancos read: "Real Madrid CF and AS Monaco have agreed on the transfer of the player Aurelien Tchouameni, who will be linked to the club for the next six seasons.

"Next Tuesday, June 14, at 12:00 at Real Madrid City, the presentation ceremony for Aurelien Tchouameni as a new Real Madrid player will take place after the corresponding medical examination."

Tchouameni emerged as one of the brightest young stars in European football last season.

He enjoyed a superb campaign as Monaco secured Champions League qualification with a third-placed finish in Ligue 1.

Tchouameni played 35 times for Monaco in Ligue 1, scoring three goals and providing two assists. He also found the net in the Coupe de France and Champions League.

The 22-year-old Tchouameni represents a threat at both ends of the pitch.

No Monaco player produced more successful passes in the opposition half than Tchouameni's 932, which put him seventh in Ligue 1.

He was fifth in Ligue 1 in tackles with 86 while his 260 duels won put him third in the division.

Tchouameni may have to wait for his opportunity to impact the Madrid midfield, which has a wealth of options.

Luka Modric, Casemiro and Toni Kroos occupied the midfield for Madrid's 1-0 win over Liverpool in the Champions League final.

Federico Valverde played in a more advanced role in that game but is experienced in the heart of midfield, an area from which Dani Ceballos and Eduardo Camavinga made valuable contributions to Madrid's LaLiga and Champions League double last season.

The competition for places will likely limit his minutes next season, but Tchouameni could hardly ask for better mentors after signing on as an heir apparent to Kroos and Modric.

Eduardo Camavinga hopes to see French compatriot Aurelien Tchouameni join him at Real Madrid after his own impressive debut campaign in the Spanish capital.

Camavinga adapted very quickly after signing from Rennes at the beginning of the season, playing an important role in midfield as Los Blancos claimed LaLiga, the Supercopa de Espana and the Champions League.

Meanwhile, Tchouameni continues to be linked with a move away from Monaco, and Madrid are reportedly among the prime suitors.

In an interview with L'Equipe, Camavinga threw his weight behind a similar move from Ligue 1 to the Santiago Bernabeu for the 22-year-old.

"He's fun, that's for sure," Camavinga said. "He's a player I already know from the national team. I hope he comes to Madrid.

"I don't know exactly what the situation is, but I've already spoken to him. We'll see what happens in the next few days."

Despite a notable first season in Madrid, Camavinga has not appeared for France since October 2020, coming off the bench in their 2-1 win over Croatia in Zagreb.

Playing with Les Bleus in this international window while another rematch of the 2018 World Cup final beckons for the senior team in the Nations League, the 19-year-old admits he is still yet to fully comprehend his Champions League triumph.

However, he still harbours the ambition to be called upon by Didier Deschamps when the World Cup eventually comes in November.

"I'm still in a dream," he said. "I already had the opportunity to go to Cibeles to celebrate LaLiga and I came back for the Champions League. You experience huge emotions, but then you have to know how to make sense of things and get back to work.

"I had a few days to enjoy myself, but now I have to concentrate on the national team. Although I still have the Champions League on my mind.

"It's my club performances that will determine whether I'm selected or not. I'll go back to the club and try to play as much as possible. Then whatever happens will happen."

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto admitted team strategy halted Charles Leclerc from triumphing at his home race, with Red Bull's Sergio Perez winning the Monaco Grand Prix.

Leclerc finished in fourth place after starting the race from pole position, which is critical at a circuit like Monte Carlo, with its tight streets making overtaking difficult and track position paramount.

Perez managed to keep Carlos Sainz in the other Ferrari at bay with an assured drive, but it was also borne of circumstance after a pit-stop mix-up before a second red flag tumbled Leclerc down the order.

Binotto conceded it was a team error that cost his drivers from claiming more points but specifically for Leclerc, a potential maiden Formula One win at a home race where he has been dealt constant bad luck.

"I fully understand the disappointment for Charles," the Ferrari boss told Sky Sports F1. "He was first and finishing fourth means that something was wrong in the decision we made.

"So clearly we need to review it and I think we underestimated the speed of the intermediate [tyres] at that stage, so we could have called a lap earlier for Charles or later on, maybe we should have left him outside on the extreme wet then going on the dry.

"These are mistakes that may happen, but more importantly it is a lesson to learn to try and understand why they happened and I am sure that is a process we will do."

Ferrari went down a further ten points in the constructor standings to Red Bull, who now lead by 36 points after both Perez and Max Verstappen finished on the podium.

Leclerc's fourth-placed finish also means Verstappen extended his lead atop the driver's standings to nine points, heading into the next grand prix in Azerbaijan.

Charles Leclerc is confident hs Ferrari can secure him a maiden win at his home race, after qualifying on pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday.

On a circuit where track position is critical, Ferrari took the front row of the grid for Sunday's race with Carlos Sainz finishing in second behind Leclerc after Q3 was halted by a red flag.

Sergio Perez hit the barrier at Portier, and Sainz could not react quickly enough to avoid a collision, when Leclerc was on track to beat his then-provisional pole time.

Ultimately, it secured the Monegasque driver top spot, and he was in high spirits afterwards following his second consecutive pole.

"I am very pleased with our overall performance so far this weekend," Leclerc said. "I felt confident in the car and started pushing a bit more in Q3. The first lap was good. I think that the second was one of the best laps I have ever done in qualifying.

"It was so much fun to drive, and I was really on the limit. I had a lot of oversteer, so the rear was quite loose. Still, I knew that the lap was coming together nicely and that felt particularly good.

"It’s a shame that I couldn’t finish it, but this is Monaco, and we know that the final attempt is always at risk of yellow or red flags. We secured pole anyway, so I am really happy.

"Whatever the conditions are tomorrow, we will start from the best place possible and will do everything to finish the weekend as smoothly as it has gone so far."

Max Verstappen finished in fourth, continuing his fight to find pace at low-speed corners from the Thursday and Friday practice sessions.

The reigning world champion finished almost three tenths of a second off Leclerc's pole time and could have been further off the pace had his rival finished his second hot lap.

"In general, my pace this weekend has been a bit of a struggle, I never really found the perfect balance," Verstappen said. "We were on for a good final lap in Q3, I was pushing to the limit on the last lap until I got to the corner, where I hit a little traffic jam.

"It was very unfortunate as I think we could have done better than fourth – not pole position, because I think that Charles is too far ahead. I think we could have at least got second place"

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