France coach Didier Deschamps has backed Paul Pogba to find a new club and arrest his slump in domestic form, as he hailed the upcoming Aurelien Tchouameni.

Pogba endured another frustrating season with Manchester United, who finished sixth in the Premier League and will hope Erik ten Hag can transform their fortunes next campaign.

World Cup-winning midfielder Pogba is widely expected to depart Old Trafford when his contract expires in June, with Juventus seemingly in the running to bring the 29-year-old back to Turin, while Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked.

Pogba has come under scrutiny for failing to replicate his international performances for France, who he will not feature for in upcoming Nations League games due to injury.

Deschamps heaped praise on Pogba's efforts for his country and expects the France star to move on from United after another underwhelming campaign.

"Pogba has had a lot of injuries, with his club's results not up to par," Deschamps told a news conference on Saturday.

"He too will have to change scenery this summer."

Deschamps additionally spoke of players who may have struggled on club duty, saying: "There has to be credit for what they have been able to do with the France team."

Tchouameni has enjoyed another productive season in Ligue 1 with Monaco, leading to reports he could join Liverpool, Chelsea or Real Madrid in the next transfer window.

The midfielder appeared 35 times in Ligue 1 this campaign, with only Wissam Ben Yedder (37) and goalkeeper Alexander Nubel (38) featuring more for Philippe Clement's side.

The 22-year-old represents a threat at both ends of the pitch, leading Monaco's charts for successful opposition-half passes (932), while making the most tackles (86) and winning the most duels (260).

Tchouameni will compete with the likes of N'Golo Kante, Adrien Rabiot and Matteo Guendouzi for a spot in midfield, and Deschamps is delighted to see the Monaco man coming into contention.

"He doesn't have the experience of Pogba and Kante, but he has potential... I took him on quite early, and in his head, he has the necessary maturity," Deschamps said.

"It's good to have these young people who make sure the older players do not rest on their laurels! The young players continue to grow, and even the others who are not selected are also growing.

"It's the new generation. Today a 19-year-old, it can seem a bit presumptuous, they go to the big clubs, but they have no worries, they do everything to succeed."

As if the protracted transfer saga for Kylian Mbappe was not arduous enough, new transfer battle lines are being drawn for PSG and Real Madrid.

The need to rejuvenate Madrid's squad has been identified despite their LaLiga title win and progression to this season's Champions League final.

According to reports, however, they should prepare for not having everything their way again, with a new player in mind.

TOP STORY – PSG TO MAKE LATE PLAY FOR TCHOUAMENI    

PSG are preparing to make a late bid for Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni in an attempt to snatch him from Real Madrid , according to Goal.

The 22-year-old Monaco star is almost certain to leave the Principality this off-season, but his destination remains unclear.

Madrid have reportedly been in talks with Monaco over a prospective transfer for over a year, but have not yet completed the deal.

Kylian Mbappe was believed to have recommended Tchouameni when he was in talks over a move to the Santiago Bernabeu himself.

Now Mbappe has decided to stay in the French capital, it has accelerated the race to sign Tchouameni.

ROUND-UP

– Chelsea are considering a move for RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku, according to Goal.

Arsenal target Tammy Abraham insists he is happy at Roma but would not rule out a move back to the Premier League, per Metro.

– In need of a striker, Tuttosport reports the Gunners are also monitoring Alvaro Morata's situation, with his loan deal at Juventus expiring this off-season.

– Tottenham are targeting Inter centre-back Alessandro Bastoni, with Manchester United also interested, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport.

Formula One has arrived at the most prestigious race on the calendar, and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc would be desperate to end an awful run of form at his home race.

Born and raised in Monaco, Leclerc's string of bad luck on the historic circuit dates back to his days in Formula Two, where he set the F2 lap record in 2017 before suspension problems caused a DNF.

The next year, in F1, he was in the points for Sauber before brake failure led to a crash with Brendan Hartley.

After poor strategy and Q1 elimination in his first Monaco Grand Prix for Ferrari in 2019, Leclerc charged up the field early on but pushed a little too hard and collided with Romain Grosjean at Rascasse.

In 2021, he surprisingly stuck an inferior Ferrari on pole position but crashed at the end of Q3, and extensive drive-shaft damage led to him cruelly retiring on the formation lap.

The 24-year-old became the first Monegasque to claim pole, but his three DNFs – from as many F1 entries – are his most at any circuit.

Despite ending up in the barriers on a demonstration lap in Niki Lauda's Ferrari last week, another pole could finally put Leclerc on the top step in his home race.

Twelve of the past 17 winners at Monaco have started from pole, as little room to overtake with bigger cars on Monte Carlo's notoriously tight streets makes track position critical.

It would be a welcome way for Leclerc to buck his trend of failing to convert poles into race victories, winning only four times from 13 starts at the front of the grid.

The title race adds another dimension, with Max Verstappen taking a six-point lead from him in the drivers' standings after successive victories at Imola, Miami and Barcelona.

In-form Red Bull with records in sight

Monaco has been a happy hunting ground for Red Bull, and this weekend could bring a number of records for the team.

This weekend could see Red Bull claim their highest number of race wins (six), pole positions (six), podiums (24, with both drivers) and points earned at a circuit, surpassing the 356 collected in Spain.

Meanwhile, reigning world champion Verstappen has the chance to record the longest winning streak of his career, beating last year's three wins between France and Austria.

Ricciardo in need of renaissance

Daniel Ricciardo has come under criticism from McLaren team principal Zak Brown for his recent performances, with a clear need for improvement.

The 32-year-old suffered one of the lowest points of his career last year in Monte Carlo, when he was lapped by teammate Lando Norris.

Ricciardo is suffering his worst streak of finishes outside the points (three) since 2012, when he had five consecutive empty-handed returns for Toro Rosso.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 110
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 104
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 85
4. George Russell (Mercedes) 74
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 65

Constructors

1. Red Bull 195
2. Ferrari 169
3. Mercedes 120
4. McLaren 50
5. Alfa Romeo 39

Robert Kovac has been appointed as Wolfsburg's new head coach following a topsy-turvy season for the Bundesliga side.

Wolfsburg began the 2021-22 campaign with Marc van Bommel at the helm, but he was dismissed in October after a promising start tailed off dramatically.

Successor Florian Kohfeldt inspired a brief upturn in form, only for a nine-match winless run to see the team fall from the European places in November to a potential relegation battle in January.

Kohfeldt remained at the helm as Wolfsburg recovered to secure a mid-table finish, although he was sacked following the final-day draw with champions Bayern Munich.

Next, Wolfsburg have turned to Kovac, who was last in work at Monaco in Ligue 1.

He has signed a three-year contract and will aim to repeat the successes of his previous Bundesliga stints, winning the DFB-Pokal with Eintracht Frankfurt and both the league and cup at Bayern Munich.

"I am a child of the Bundesliga," Kovac said, "and the desire and motivation are very great to open another successful chapter with the Wolves."

Former Bayern coach Kovac, who also has experience with Croatia, left Monaco during Ligue 1's winter break at the start of this year.

The principality club subsequently enjoyed a stunning late-season run under Philippe Clement to finish third and enter next season's Champions League qualifying rounds.

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.

Monaco prospect Aurelien Tchouameni remained non-committal over his future amid growing speculation of interest from Real Madrid, Manchester United and Liverpool.

Tchouameni came through the Bordeaux academy before joining Monaco in 2020 on a four-and-a-half-year deal.

The midfielder has appeared 34 times in Ligue 1 this campaign, with only Wissam Ben Yedder (36) and goalkeeper Alexander Nubel (37) featuring more for Philippe Clement's side.

The 22-year-old Tchouameni represents a threat at both ends of the pitch, leading Monaco's charts for successful opposition-half passes (912), while making the most tackles (84) and winning the most duels (258).

That presence has led to interest from the likes of Madrid, where fellow France youngster Eduardo Camavinga joined last season, Liverpool and United, who are reportedly also interested in Declan Rice.

Tchouameni, speaking at the annual Union Nationale des Footballeurs Professionels (UNFP) award ceremony in Paris, where he was named in Ligue 1's Team of the Year, played his cards close to his chest on his future.

"Good question. I have a contract with Monaco," he said when asked about the transfer speculation.

"I'm very good there. The most important thing is to finish the season well. We'll do the accounts at the end and we'll see what the future holds for me."

Tchouameni and Monaco conclude their French top-flight season with a trip to Lens on Saturday, with Clement's side second in the table, ahead of Marseille on a goal difference.

Cesc Fabregas has confirmed he will leave Monaco when his contract expires at the end of the season, but the midfielder has no intentions to retire just yet.

Former Arsenal and Barcelona star Fabregas has been hampered by injuries during the 2021-22 season, in which Monaco are three points behind second-placed Marseille with two games to play.

The Spain international signed on a free transfer in January 2019, and racked up over 800 Ligue 1 minutes a season in his first three campaigns at Monaco.

However, he has appeared just twice in the league this term for his measly 36 minutes and Fabregas has revealed this season will be his last with Monaco.

"It's sure that it's over between Monaco and me," Fabregas told French outlet So Foot. "My contract expires next 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. 

"But sometimes things happen for a reason. I'm grateful that it happened at 35 rather than 25 when I was at the height of my career. 

"So if you look at it that way – 19 years, almost 900 games, winning almost everything – it could have been worse."

 

Aged 35, World Cup winner and two-time European Championship victor Fabregas may be expected to move into a coaching role to utilise his experience, but he insists his preference is to continue playing.

"To be honest, I've already had two or three phone calls in the past two weeks from some of my former coaches to find out what I wanted to do, to see if I wanted to join them this summer as a coach," he added.

"But this year has been so bad that I can't finish on that. Not after building this career. I want to keep playing. 

"I'm grateful for the career I've had, but I don't feel like it's over. I just want to enjoy my football and continue to be competitive at some level."

As for the identity of Fabregas' next club, he has no preference as long as he can rediscover his enjoyment of football.

"I'm open to anything, I just want to have fun," he said when asked about potential clubs, leagues or countries. "After this year, I just want to play and enjoy my football. 

"The place doesn't really matter, it's more my head that counts. When I'm fit I feel really good, when I'm training with my team-mates I don't feel any different when it comes to passion for the game.

"It's just about finding the right project and doing it. I will look for a new project and see where the future takes me."

Raphinha has been a bright spark for Leeds United as they have battled relegation from the Premier League this season.

Following the weekend's results, the Whites are in huge danger of going down after they dropped into the bottom three. As is the case in football, the vultures will circle in that eventuality.

The Brazil international has long been on the list of targets for Barcelona and the winger looks likely to move on at the end of the season, when Leeds could find themselves back in the Championship.

 

TOP STORY – LEEDS RELEGATION TO SPEED UP RAFINHA'S BARCELONA MOVE

Leeds United's potential relegation from the Premier League could help force Raphinha's move to Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Even if Ousmane Dembele signs a new contract, the Catalan giants are keen to land another winger.

While Dembele's future has reportedly depended on Barcelona's qualification for the Champions League, the desire to sign Raphinha has been clear regardless. 

Leeds' relegation would reportedly allow the the 25-year-old to leave for €25million (£21.4m), though there is no clause in his contract that establishes an exact price.

ROUND-UP

- Arsenal's bid to sign Lautaro Martinez could be scuppered with Inter Milan not looking to sell the 24-year-old, per the Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Manchester City's deal with Borussia Dortmund for Erling Haaland could be finalised and announced next week, the Sun is reporting.

- Liverpool are ahead of Real Madrid and Chelsea in the race to sign Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni , according to Marca.

- Bayern Munich are preparing to begin talks with RB Leipzig over midfielder Konrad Laimer , Fabrizio Romano reports.

Sensational comebacks are increasingly a staple of the modern Champions League, and this season they have belonged almost exclusively to Real Madrid.

Los Blancos trailed Manchester City 1-0 heading into the 90th minute at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, with Pep Guardiola's team leading 5-3 on aggregate.

Yet two goals in the space of 91 seconds from Rodrygo forced extra-time, and Carlo Ancelotti's team set up a meeting with Liverpool in Paris when Karim Benzema converted a penalty to claim a 3-1 win (6-5 on aggregate).

It was the third stunning turnaround Madrid have enjoyed in the knockout stages this campaign, following Benzema's hat-trick against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 and Rodrygo's goal against Chelsea to secure an aggregate win in the quarters last month.

Here's a few other incredible comebacks to jog your memory.

Real Madrid 3-1 PSG (3-2 agg), 2022

Madrid have done it the hard way this season, as they target a 14th European title. 

Not many fancied them to get through against PSG, especially when Kylian Mbappe, who had scored a stunning goal in the first leg in Paris in February, put Mauricio Pochettino's team ahead at the Santiago Bernabeu with a crisp finish.

Yet Gianluigi Donnarumma's slack play enabled Benzema to pounce and pull one back, with the striker then scoring twice in two minutes to turn the tie on its head and set Madrid en route to the final.

Barcelona 6-1 PSG (6-5 agg), 2017

Barcelona remain the perpetrators of the most remarkable of all Champions League comebacks, at least in terms of deficit overhauled.

Trailing 4-0 from the first leg of their last-16 tie with PSG, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi scored either side of a Layvin Kurzawa own goal, only for Edinson Cavani to grab what was expected to be the decisive strike for the visitors.

However, two quick Neymar goals – the second a highly controversial penalty after an apparent Suarez dive – levelled the tie at 5-5.

Then, in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Sergi Roberto struck to create a slice of Champions League history – no side had ever turned around a four-goal first-leg deficit before.

Roma 3-0 Barcelona (4-4 agg, Roma won on away goals), 2018

The boot was on the other foot when Barcelona were dethroned in the Italian capital last year as Roma completed one of the most unlikely turnarounds in quarter-final history.

Eusebio Di Francesco's side came back from a 4-1 first-leg deficit to progress to the last eight on away goals after a thrilling 3-0 win in front of their home fans.

Edin Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas secured the 4-4 aggregate draw and sent the Stadio Olimpico into raptures, as Barca completely fell to pieces.

Liverpool 4 Barcelona 0 (4-3 agg), 2019

Fresh from netting a late winner at Newcastle United the weekend before, Divock Origi allowed the Liverpool faithful to dream by poaching his maiden Champions League goal in the seventh minute.

Jurgen Klopp needed Alisson to be on form as he saved from Messi and Suarez, before another unlikely hero emerged.

Andrew Robertson's injury forced James Milner to left-back and Georginio Wijnaldum into the fray at half-time. By the hour, the Dutch midfielder had Liverpool level thanks to two goals in 122 delirious seconds.

Origi had the final word thanks to Trent Alexander-Arnold's quick thinking from a 79th-minute corner, leaving Barcelona and Messi crestfallen once more. The Reds went on to beat Tottenham in an all-English final.

Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax (5-3 agg), 2019

Despite their impressive display in their 2-1 first-leg defeat, nobody really seemed to think Ajax could turn things around at the Santiago Bernabeu. Sergio Ramos certainly did not – he earned a booking to avoid the risk of a quarter-final ban, earning an extra-game suspension from UEFA in the process.

In the absence of their captain, Madrid completely capitulated amid a fearless and thrilling Ajax – the type of which Liverpool might yet be faced with in the final.

Hakim Ziyech and David Neres put the visitors 2-0 up after only 18 minutes and it was 3-0 just after the hour mark thanks to the inspired Dusan Tadic.

Marco Asensio got a goal back, but Lasse Schone's free-kick beat Thibaut Courtois and sent Madrid crashing out. It was the first time they had ever been knocked out after winning the first leg of a Champions League tie.

PSG 1-3 Manchester United (3-3 agg, United won on away goals), 2019

It really had been quite the season for upsets in Europe's premier competition. A day on from Ajax's thrashing of Madrid, United made history at Parc des Princes.

No side had ever won a knockout tie after trailing 2-0 from a first leg at home, and with 10 senior players missing, including the banned Paul Pogba, United's chances looked slim.

Romelu Lukaku scored just two minutes in, though, and despite Juan Bernat's equaliser on the night, Lukaku struck again after a Gianluigi Buffon error to make it 2-1.

As the game crept towards second-half injury time, Diogo Dalot's shot struck Presnel Kimpembe's arm and the referee awarded a penalty after a lengthy VAR review. Marcus Rashford scored it, United progressed, and the clamour for Solskjaer to be given the permanent manager's job grew louder.

Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 AC Milan (5-4 agg), 2004

Deportivo were among Spain's major forces just after the turn of the century and one of their finest moments in Europe came in April 2004 when, despite being 4-1 down from the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final with AC Milan, they stunned the Italians at home.

Walter Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valeron and Albert Luque had Depor ahead on away goals before half-time, with Fran Gonzalez – who played for them in the second division in the late 80s and is still their record appearance holder – fittingly scored the fourth to make sure of their passage.

Depor were eliminated by eventual winners Porto in the semi-finals, but this comeback stood as arguably the very best in Champions League history until Barca went one better.

Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan (AET, 3-2 on pens), 2005

That famous night in Istanbul. Liverpool found themselves on the end of a hiding at half-time in the 2005 Champions League final, as Paolo Maldini and a Hernan Crespo brace had the Serie A side 3-0 up.

But the second half proved to be one of the most iconic 45 minutes in Liverpool's history, with goals from Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso levelling the match up by the hour mark.

Milan then failed to hold their nerve in the penalty shootout, as Jerzy Dudek's leggy antics in the Liverpool goal helped the Pole outsmart both Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko after Serginho blazed the first kick over, resulting in the Premier League side lifting their fifth European title.

Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich, 1999

Possibly the two most dramatic minutes in the history of European club football.

United were trailing 1-0 to Bayern Munich in the 1999 final at Camp Nou, with Mario Basler's skidding free-kick into the bottom-right corner looking set to be enough for the Bavarian giants to end a 23-year wait for glory in the continent's top-tier competition.

However, the United of Alex Ferguson's era could never be discounted until the final whistle, and substitute Teddy Sheringham swept Ryan Giggs' shot into the bottom corner to bring the scores level in the 91st minute.

Solskjaer, another late substitute and now the man in the United dug-out, avoided the need for extra time by stabbing Sheringham's header from a David Beckham corner into the roof of the net as United completed an historic treble in astonishing fashion.

Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea (AET, 6-4 agg), 2000

A 3-1 first-leg loss at Stamford Bridge – having trailed 3-0 – had Barca in danger of being on the wrong end of a major 1999-00 Champions League upset prior to the Roman Abramovich era, but in the return match the Catalans showed their true class.

Tore Andre Flo's 60th-minute goal was sending Chelsea through despite Rivaldo and Luis Figo scoring before the break, but Dani Garcia scored seven minutes from the end of regulation to force extra time.

Rivaldo then converted a penalty after Celestine Babayaro was sent off and Patrick Kluivert wrapped things up, crushing Chelsea's dreams.

Erik ten Hag appears as though he will have a huge say over his own Manchester United transfer targets.

The Dutchman has inked a three-year deal at Old Trafford, with the option for a further year.

Ten Hag will officially take over on July 1, with Ralf Rangnick remaining in interim charge.

A face familiar to the Premier League could now be headed to Old Trafford with Ten Hag from Ajax…


TOP STORY - TEN HAG TO BRING HALLER TO UNITED

Manchester United may make a move for Ajax striker Sebastien Haller in the off-season according to The Sun.

Haller currently plays under ten Hag, who will take over at United at the end of the campaign.

The Ivory Coast striker, who spent two years with West Ham United, has netted 33 goals in all competitions for Ajax this term.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are optimistic that they can land Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski in the off-season, reports Sport. Lewandowski is contracted with Bayern until 2023.

- Liverpool have contacted 22-year-old Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni about a move to England, claims Foot Mercato.

- Nicolo Schira claims that Inter are not interested in signing Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic, contrary to reports. Pjanic is currently on loan at Besiktas from Barcelona.

- David de Gea and Manchester United are ready to enter into talks on a contract extension reports 90min.

- Fabrizio Romano claims that Luka Modric will ink a new deal with Real Madrid running until 2023.

Along with Brenden Aaronson and Luka Sucic, Karim Adeyemi is part of a young core enjoying a breakout season at Salzburg.

In his third season in the Austrian Bundesliga, the 20-year-old has come up with 16 goals and three assists in 24 league appearances, and earned his first international cap for Germany last September.

Reports also suggest that a return to Germany at domestic level is imminent.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND CLOSE IN ON ADEYEMI

Borussia Dortmund and Salzburg have reached a basic agreement over the transfer of Karim Adeyemi, according to reports from Sky Sport Germany.

After several rounds of talks, this week has finally seen a breakthrough between the two clubs, with €35million the reported fee the two clubs have agreed on.

However, Dortmund are still to arrive at a point that satisfies Adeyemi and his representatives on personal terms.

According to the report, all three parties are looking to finalise the deal, but RB Leipzig, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain also remain interested.

ROUND-UP

Harry Kane is set to turn down a move to Manchester United, with Erik ten Hag reportedly due to take over at Old Trafford instead of Kane's former boss Mauricio Pochettino, the Mirror reports.

– United have been given a boost in their pursuit of Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger however, as talks with Barcelona have reportedly stalled, according to the Sun.

Newcastle United have targeted Sevilla's Diego Carlos as a viable alternative if Sven Botman opts to join Milan, per the Chronicle.

– Football Insider reports Villarreal are seeking to permanently sign Giovani Lo Celso from Tottenham, having had the 26-year-old on loan since January.

– Meanwhile, Football Insider also reports that Manchester City have made Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni their top priority to replace Fernandinho.

Paris Saint-Germain should prioritise signing Aurelien Tchouameni over France team-mate Paul Pogba in the close season, according to former winger Jerome Rothen.

Tchouameni has broken into Didier Deschamps’ squad this season following a string of impressive displays in the heart of the Monaco midfield.

The 22-year-old made his debut for Les Bleus against Bosnia and Herzegovina last September – helping them win the Nations League two months later – before netting the winner in Friday's victory over Ivory Coast. 

PSG are one of several clubs reportedly linked with a move for Tchouameni, while Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba can leave Old Trafford on a free transfer at the end of the season.

Former France international Rothen spent two-and-a-half years with Monaco – helping them reach the Champions League final in 2004 – before making 180 appearances during a six-year stint at PSG.

While the 43-year-old sees no reason why PSG cannot target both Pogba and Tchouameni, he believes the latter should take priority. 

"One can go with the other," he said. "This does not mean that if PSG signs Tchouameni, we should no longer talk about Pogba. 

"Paul Pogba is free, Paris can do both. 

"Nevertheless, the priority on these two profiles – even if it costs more money – in order to build a collective is Aurelien Tchouameni and players like him."

Despite fierce competition for places in the heart of midfield, Rothen can see Tchouameni establishing himself as a key figure for Les Bleus.

"He could not always be a starter because there is a big competition in the French team, but he can have more and more playing time," he added.

"And he has each time shown this strength that he has with the ball, this personality in a different role than the one in which he plays in Monaco.

"I think he's well above average from a technical point of view, from a physical point of view and from a vision of the game."

Cesc Fabregas has urged Paris Saint-Germain supporters to get behind a struggling Lionel Messi, rather than criticising his former team-mate.

The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner swapped Barcelona for Paris last August, ending his 21-year association with the Blaugrana.

Messi departed the Camp Nou as Barca's all-time leading appearance maker and goalscorer, having netted 672 times across 778 games in all competitions.

However, the Argentina captain has been unable to replicate that form in Ligue 1, scoring just twice in 18 appearances so far.

Mauricio Pochettino's side are well on course to regain their Ligue 1 crown, as they lead second-placed Marseille by 12 points with nine matches remaining.

But following their Champions League last-16 exit at the hands of Real Madrid, the likes of Messi and Neymar were jeered during PSG's next league game against Bordeaux at Parc des Princes.

Fabregas played alongside Messi at Barcelona between 2011 and 2014, winning the LaLiga title in 2012-13.

The Monaco midfielder understands the frustration of the PSG faithful, but feels the criticism of his ex-colleague is unjustified. 

 

He told Marca: "Leo's case is very simple. For me, he has been the best ever that I have seen and played with. What I have seen from him has been exceptional.

"I know what happened with PSG. The fans want to create a moment of tension with the players.

"During the match, they support you; when they sing your name, perfect. But what I saw the other day – jeering when Neymar lost the ball or whistling when they touched the ball – is very ugly.

"They justify that they get paid a lot. They lost against Real Madrid – that's fine – but didn't they want to win? That's what comes first.

"With PSG, they haven't won anything yet, for the moment, but they will surely win the league.

"You're talking about a player [Messi] who has just arrived. PSG have never had a player like this in their lives.

"It's better to be grateful, to support him and not crush him. This year or next, these guys will bring you great moments."

Aurelien Tchouameni experienced a "beautiful" moment in his career with his first France goal, but he is now keen to move onto his next objective. 

After establishing himself at Monaco in the 2020-21 season, Tchouameni has been producing consistently excellent displays in the heart of their midfield.

Since the start of 2021, he ranks third across all players in the top five European leagues in terms of possession won (387) and tackles won (83), while he is joint-second in terms of duels won (408).

Tchouameni was unsurprisingly drafted into the France set-up by Didier Deschamps last year, while the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid have all been credited with an interest in the 22-year-old. 

He opened his senior international account in his eighth appearance with a last-gasp winner in a 2-1 success over Ivory Coast on Friday but was keen to keep his feet on the ground. 

"It's the fruit of my labour. I hope to remain calm. It's beautiful what's happening to me, but I have goals. Scoring my first goal was one, so now we move onto something else," Tchouameni told M6. 

"The team and the staff really help me show my personality on the pitch and that's what makes me feel great on the pitch. 

"In the first half, we attacked a lot and Ivory Coast had the opportunity to break through on the counter. We tightened the screws in the second half and I don't think we even conceded a single chance. 

"At the end we were rewarded, and that's good." 

Tchouameni's winner came after Olivier Giroud cancelled out Nicolas Pepe's opener in his first France appearance since Euro 2020. 

The goal will have boosted Giroud's chances of retaining his place in Didier Deschamps' squad ahead of the World Cup in Qatar later this year. 

"He did what he does with his club. He always has this quality of scoring, especially in the air. Of course, it made him happy," said Deschamps. 

"He returned to the group, which he knows well, and it was all the better for us. 

"When we have friendlies we must take advantage of them. There will be a second on Tuesday [against South Africa], so I will make changes to distribute the playing time to the maximum number of players." 

France have now won six straight games for the first time since 2016 and are undefeated in their past 19, scoring 43 goals during that run. 

The pressure mounted on Paris Saint-Germain again after another defeat in Ligue 1 this weekend.

The Parisians are 12 points clear at the top but have lost four of their past six games.

Lionel Messi has only netted twice in Ligue 1 since his move from Barcelona, while fellow free signing Sergio Ramos has also only played five times.

 

TOP STORY – PSG TO BLOCK MESSI OR RAMOS RETURNS

Marca reports that PSG would block any potential return to Barcelona or Real Madrid for either Messi or Ramos respectively.

The Ligue 1 giants signed both players last year from those respective clubs, yet there has been reports claiming they may want to return to Spain.

Ramos has struggled with injury while Messi has not been able to discover his best goalscoring form, but PSG are eager to hold on to them.

Messi joined on a two-year deal last August, while Ramos also penned a two-year deal last July.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bayern Munich have made an opening bid for Ajax's Ryan Gravenberch according to Fabrizio Romano. The fee is approximately €25million but Ajax want more.

- Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG and Madrid are all circling for Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni but the Ligue 1 club will not accept less than €50m for him claims Foot Mercato.

- Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti wants to sign Inter midfielder Nicolo Barella according to El Nacional. Barella's arrival could force Toni Kroos out too.

- Aston Villa are prepared to pay £60m for Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips claims The Times.

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