Pep Guardiola said Phil Foden can “do whatever he wants” in football after watching him fire Manchester City to a 4-1 Premier League victory over Aston Villa with a brilliant hat-trick.

With Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne dropping to the bench, Foden moved into a central position and orchestrated the demolition of Villa with an outstanding display, playing a hand in Rodri’s opener and then taking the game away from the visitors after Jhon Duran had levelled.

Foden restored City’s lead with a free-kick in first-half stoppage time when he found the gap that Nicolo Zaniolo left in Villa’s wall, then won it with two excellent goals just after the hour, the last of them a shot into the top corner after he had lost the ball but quickly regained it.

His second hat-trick of the campaign moved Foden on to 21 goals for the season and kept the pressure on in the title race, with the champions one point behind new leaders Arsenal and level with Liverpool who host Sheffield United on Thursday.

“What can I say? Three goals,” Guardiola said. “He didn’t start well but I think the goal helped him a lot for the mood. When Phil plays in a central position he has a sense for goals and he proved it again.

“He can do whatever he wants. He’s a real top-class player. We know it. But he is still open-minded, he has to understand the game, he has to focus on things, sometimes he’s a bit distracted in exactly what you have to do offensively, defensively, but he has a natural talent – a gift – which is special.

“The work ethic is unbelievable and he has an incredible sense of goal. When he has the ball and he’s attacking the back line he is going to score, you had that feeling. It is not easy to find it and that’s why he’s so special when he’s playing these central positions.”

De Bruyne and Haaland got a breather with next week’s Champions League trip to Real Madrid looming, but without them City turned in one of their better performances of the season and a vast improvement on Sunday’s goalless draw against title rivals Arsenal.

“We were better,” Guardiola said. “It’s true we conceded a few transitions and we lost a few balls and when that happens it’s a lesson we have to learn for the next game but we had incredible energy, four-five players up front and it was really good. We created a lot of chances.”

Villa remain fourth but the defeat leaves them only two points above Tottenham, who have a game in hand.

Unai Emery was without the injured Ollie Watkins and then also lost goalkeeper Emi Martinez to a stomach problem after he had been named in the starting line-up. But the Spaniard chose to make several more changes to his side – six in total from Saturday’s win over Wolves.

“It’s clear we were motivated and excited to try to be competitive, trying to keep it consistent like we are in the Premier League, but of course we were playing against Manchester City,” Emery said.

“We were competing until the 60th minute and as well we were trying to build our team with some players who are not playing a lot, we are trying to give them chances to play.

“Even when we were losing 2-1 we had some chances to score with Douglas Luiz, but they were pushing us a lot, they showed us their potential and they deserved to win.

“We will play a lot of matches in the next weeks, starting on Saturday against Brentford, and it was important to try to be intelligent playing against Manchester City. Of course we wanted to win but with some players injured and some players suspended we wanted to get some practice with some players.”

Aston Villa boss Unai Emery refused to be downbeat after his side missed the chance to go top of the Premier League.

Nicolo Zaniolo’s stoppage-time header rescued a 1-1 draw with struggling Sheffield United on Friday.

Cameron Archer, who joined the Blades from Villa in the summer, netted for the visitors – who climb off the bottom – with three minutes left to leave Villa on the brink of a first home league defeat since February.

But they salvaged a point, although their run of club-record 15 straight league wins at Villa Park ended, and they sit second in the standings, behind leaders Arsenal on goal difference.

Emery, whose side saw Leon Bailey have a goal disallowed by VAR while the hosts also had three penalty claims turned down on review, said: “It was a very good point at the end.

“At the start we were very excited and we were expecting Sheffield to be very strong, they were successful in their plan and they scored when we lost control of the game.

“The draw is fantastic for us because we are keeping the good feeling, not with three points but playing in the same way we are trying to do.

“We were upset and frustrated with the review of our goal, we have to understand each decision even if we don’t agree with them.

“We lost the control of the game in the last 20 minutes. At the end we were frustrated, I wanted three points but we have to accept how Sheffield defended.”

Villa dominated from the start without finding the breakthrough and had two penalty claims rejected by VAR, the first when Ollie Watkins was shoved by Vini Souza before George Baldock’s handball was studied.

Neither fell for Villa but they kept pushing and Wes Foderingham saved low from Moussa Diaby.

Sheffield United’s plan was working and they frustrated the hosts, with Villa’s expected procession to the summit failing to materialise.

But the Blades almost gifted Villa an opener after 58 minutes, only to be saved by VAR.

Watkins robbed Baldock as he failed to clear, swapped passes with Jacob Ramsey, and crossed for Bailey to sweep in but VAR disallowed the goal after Ramsey pulled Foderingham at the corner.

Another VAR reprieve for the visitors came 15 minutes later when Baldock survived a handball review as Villa Park became increasingly anxious.

It gave the Blades belief and Emiliano Martinez saved from Oliver Norwood before Archer, who came through Villa’s academy, tapped in after outstanding work from Gustavo Hamer with three minutes left.

United tried to cling on, Foderingham saving from Alex Moreno, but they were breached in the seventh minute of injury time when Zaniolo headed in Douglas Luiz’s cross.

“It always seems when we play at Villa Park it’s an interesting night. We were up against a team on a fabulous run, who have swatted aside better teams than us,” said Blades boss Chris Wilder, whose side host relegation rivals Luton on Boxing Day.

“I’m not going to be embarrassed in terms of the plan we had, because we have to have a structure. You do get close, you are ultimately a little disappointed but when the head is on the pillow we will be pleased with our efforts.

“We’re going to have to show character right the way through because we’re up against it. This football club is built on that. I’ve been delighted with the group and their attitude.

“Everyone in the world expects a home win. We had to have a structure, it’s not anti-football, it’s up to the opposition to break us down. They are the ones in form.”

Aston Villa blew the chance to go top of the Premier League and needed Nicolo Zaniolo’s late goal to rescue a 1-1 draw against struggling Sheffield United.

The substitute levelled in stoppage time just as Cameron Archer’s 87th-minute strike looked to have given the Blades a stunning smash and grab win.

Villa needed victory to go top but now sit second, behind Arsenal on goal difference.

The Blades, meanwhile, still climbed off the bottom of the table after coming so close to a brilliant, resilient, victory.

Leon Bailey had a goal disallowed and the hosts had three penalty claims rejected by VAR as they failed to make their dominance count.

It was supposed to be Villa’s ascension to the top of the Premier League, somewhere they had not been, outside the opening weeks of the season, since December 1998.

The contrast could not have been more different from three-and-a-half years ago when Villa drew 0-0 with the Blades and sat second bottom following the first game of the Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’ after the Covid outbreak.

Back then, in an empty stadium, Villa were fortunate to avoid defeat after Orjan Nyland fumbled Oliver Norwood’s free-kick over the line, only for referee Michael Oliver’s watch to fail to signal a goal.

It was a pivotal point in Villa’s fight for survival which, ultimately, gave them the platform to build.

Now, the fact they missed their chance to go above Arsenal, will not diminish their progress, although boss Unai Emery was noticeably angry at full-time after being frustrated by the gutsy visitors.

Blades boss Chris Wilder packed a five-man defence to contain the hosts and United lived dangerously early when Ollie Watkins was shoved by Vini Souza as he lurked for Lucas Digne’s cross.

VAR rejected Villa’s penalty appeals and then disappointed the hosts again when George Baldock blocked Watkins’ header from the resulting corner.

Inevitably, Villa were the aggressors with Wes Foderingham’s smart stop denying Moussa Diaby and Ezri Konsa heading over but there was no early procession.

With 15 straight home wins, the expectation was on Villa to roll the bottom side over but patience was still needed and Watkins hooked over from a Clement Lenglet knockdown.

It was one-way traffic, just without the goal, and the compact Blades would have been very content at the break.

Yet Wilder would have been fuming after 58 minutes when his side looked to have gifted Villa the opener until VAR intervened.

Baldock was sloppy as he tried to play the ball out as United cleared a corner and was robbed by Watkins, who swapped passed with Jacob Ramsey.

The England striker then crossed for Bailey to sweep in but play was eventually pulled back as Ramsey had fouled Foderingham at the corner.

Another VAR reprieve for the visitors came 15 minutes later when Baldock survived a handball review as Villa Park became increasingly anxious.

It emboldened the Blades and Norwood tested Emiliano Martinez from distance, their first shot, after 78 minutes before Konsa almost sliced Max Lowe’s cross into his own net.

Archer’s shot was blocked and Norwood drove over before United stunned Villa Park with three minutes left.

Vini Souza’s free-kick found Gustavo Hamer running behind and a brilliant piece of skill from the midfielder saw him leave John McGinn floundering.

The substitute then had the presence of mind to cut the ball back for Archer to convert from six yards.

Foderingham saved Alex Moreno’s header but Villa found a leveller deep in stoppage time when Zaniolo headed in Douglas Luiz’s cross.

Juventus have pledged their support for midfielder Nicolo Fagioli after he was banned for seven months for breaching betting rules.

Fagioli had five months of a one-year ban suspended this week and was fined 12,500 euros (£10,848), while he agreed to a therapy plan of at least six months to tackle his gambling problem.

Juventus said in a statement on their official website: “The club has noted the official press release from the FIGC (Italian Football Federation) and confirms its full support for Nicolo Fagioli in tackling this path, providing the player with the necessary support in carrying out the indicated therapeutic plan and, as expressly provided for in the agreement, collaborating with the Federation to outline the scheduled appointments.

“We are firmly convinced that Nicolo, with the support of the club, his team-mates, his family and the professionals who will assist him, will face the therapeutic and training process with a great sense of responsibility and, once the disqualification has been served, will be able to return to competing with due serenity.”

Fagioli, 22, was one of several players named last week who were being investigated by the Turin Public Prosecutor’s Office and the FIGC as part of an Italian football betting probe.

Newcastle confirmed midfielder Sandro Tonali was fully co-operating with the enquiry, while Aston Villa forward Nicolo Zaniolo, on loan from Galatasaray, is also being investigated.

Tonali and Zaniolo were both withdrawn from Italy’s training camp this week while Fagioli, who has one senior international cap, was not part of their squad for Saturday’s win over Malta and Tuesday’s defeat to England.

Juventus midfielder Nicolo Fagioli has been handed a seven-month suspension by the Italian Football Federation over a breach of betting rules.

Fagioli had five months of a one-year ban suspended and was fined 12,500 euros (£10,848), while he agreed to a therapy plan of at least six months to tackle his gambling problem, the FIGC announced.

In a statement on its website, the governing body said the 22-year-old violated the rule “that prohibits betting on football events organised by FIGC, UEFA and FIFA”.

Fagioli made his Italy debut in November last year in a friendly against Albania but it is his sole cap and he was not part of their squad for Saturday’s win over Malta and Tuesday’s defeat in England.

Compatriots Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo last week returned to their clubs from Italy’s training camp after it emerged they were being investigated by the Turin Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Reports in Italy claim the probe into Newcastle midfielder Tonali and on-loan Aston Villa forward Zaniolo is in relation to illegal betting.

Nicolo Zaniolo hit out at Roma for "unfulfilled promises" and treating him as a "capital gain" after he joined Galatasaray last month.

Zaniolo left the Eternal City giants to join the Turkish Super Lig leaders for a fee €16.5million early in February.

The Italy midfielder had been expected to move on during the January transfer window, but he turned down a move to Premier League strugglers Bournemouth.

Zaniolo signed a four-year deal with Galatasaray after being left out on in the cold at Roma and the 23-year-old has pointed the finger at his former club over the way he was treated.

He told the Gazzetta dello Sport: "I could talk for hours about unfulfilled promises. They [Roma] told me I was a spearhead, instead I've always been considered just a capital gain.

"For two years I was told that the new contract was ready. In January of last year I would have signed for slightly more than what I was earning, because I was fine in Rome and I knew there were problems with Financial Fair Play. After much talk I'm bored. If I have to reflect on my farewell, I think others must do it too."

Zaniolo was hurt by being called a traitor.

He added: "It's something I'm very sorry about. Roma gave me everything, thanks to Roma I won and I made my debut for the national team, my son was born there. Being labelled that way was a big blow."

Zaniolo continued: "The truth will come out. I'm just saying that I've always trained, even if not with the others."

Much was made of a supposed fall-out between Zaniolo and Jose Mourinho, but the playmaker has no problem with the Roma head coach.

"He's a great coach and a great person," Zaniolo said of his old boss. "He made me play almost always. Sure, he's used to managing star players and I wasn't [one]. I would have liked to have him in four or five years, but he gave me so much anyway."

Nicolo Zaniolo would have been willing to accept a lower wage to secure a move to Milan or Tottenham in the January transfer window.

That is according to the player's mother, who revealed Zaniolo wanted to move to either San Siro or north London after Roma head coach Jose Mourinho made it clear he was happy for the midfielder to leave.

Neither Milan nor Spurs were willing to match Roma's asking price for Zaniolo, however, with only Bournemouth initially willing to do so.

Francesca Costa said her son had even agreed to join the Premier League strugglers before the closure of January's window, but by that time they had already signed Hamed Traore on loan from Sassuolo.

The 23-year-old finally sealed a move to Turkish Super Lig leaders Galatasaray for a reported fee of €16.5million last week.

"I want to clarify one thing, Nicolo would have reduced his salary or would have asked for the same money as at Roma for a move to Milan or Tottenham, but those clubs didn't find an agreement with Roma," Costa told Corriere dello Sport.

"At that point there was Bournemouth... Later, he accepted Bournemouth's offer, but when we called them back they had already taken another player."

Zaniolo joined Roma from Serie A rivals Inter in 2018 and went on to score 24 goals in 128 appearances for the club, though he spent significant periods on the sidelines after suffering two long-term knee injuries during his time in the Italian capital.

Nicolo Zaniolo has left Roma to join Turkish Super Lig leaders Galatasaray.

The 23-year-old was expected to leave the Giallorossi during the January transfer window following a falling-out with boss Jose Mourinho, but he hesitated over a move to Premier League club Bournemouth.

Mourinho described the fact Zaniolo had remained at the club as "unfortunate", but the attacking midfielder's stay in the Eternal City has now come to an end.

Istanbul giants Galatasaray are reported to have paid Roma €16.5million to land Zaniolo, capped 11 times by Italy, on a four-and-a-half-year deal, with Turkish clubs still able to do transfer business.

In a farewell message to Roma, Tuscany-born Zaniolo posted on Instagram: "You welcomed me as if I were at home.

"You made me grow, you gave me a chance that I tried to take with all my heart, always honouring the history you represent, fighting for your colours, sweating for the jersey every time I wore it.

"Now that we've said goodbye, I want to tell you one thing... It was an honour."

Zaniolo joined Roma from Serie A rivals Inter in 2018 and went on to score 24 goals in 128 appearances for the club.

He missed the second half of the 2019-20 season and whole of the 2020-21 campaign due to knee injuries.

Galatasaray are targeting a deal to sign Roma forward Nicolo Zaniolo in the final days of the Turkish transfer window, coach Okan Buruk has confirmed.

Amid interest from Serie A champions Milan, Zaniolo outlined his desire to leave Roma last month, but the Italy international irked the club's hierarchy by rejecting a lucrative move to Premier League strugglers Bournemouth.

Jose Mourinho described the likelihood of Zaniolo staying at Roma as "unfortunate" shortly before the window closed for most European clubs, but the 23-year-old could yet finalise a move.

Amid reports suggesting Galatasaray are in talks to seal a deal worth over €22million for Zaniolo, Buruk heaped praise upon the Italian.

"Zaniolo is a world-class player," Buruk said after Galatasaray's 2-1 win over Trabzonspor on Sunday.

"He is a player we would like to see in the squad, even if we don't exactly know his relationship with Roma. 

"But if you ask me, 'do you want to see him in the team?' Of course, I'd like to have him."

Liverpool are expected to bid for Athletic Bilbao duo Nico Williams and Oihan Sancet at the end of the season.

Williams is one of LaLiga's brightest young stars, with the 20-year-old winger having already earned seven senior caps for Spain, including four appearances at the World Cup in Qatar.

Attacking midfielder Sancet, 22, netted a hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Cadiz on Saturday to take his tally of LaLiga goals this season to seven.

Williams in particular received heavy interest during the January transfer window, but Bilbao will reportedly be faced with tough decisions about both players at the conclusion of the campaign.



According to AS, Liverpool were joined by fellow Premier League side Aston Villa in testing Bilbao's resolved over Williams in January, although they were informed no figure would be accepted below his €50million (£45m) release clause.

That report also mentions Sancet's release clause is only slightly lower at €45m (£40m), while Fichajes add he has received interest from Chelsea and Bayern Munich.

Both players only have 18 months remaining on their contracts, meaning Bilbao will either need to sort out some extensions or be prepared to cash in.


– The Sun is reporting Manchester City, Milan and Inter are all admirers of Fulham left-back Antonee Robinson, although they will not meet the £35m asking price.

– According to the Daily Star, City will look to avoid any further depletion of their full-back stocks by offering Rico Lewis a new contract that would quadruple his salary.

– Journalist Rudy Galetti is reporting Galatasaray have agreed personal terms with out-of-favour Roma attacker Nicolo Zaniolo, and have offered a fee of €22m to the Serie A club.

Newcastle United and Fulham target Sander Berge wants to remain with Sheffield United until his contract expires in 2024, with the Norway international excited by the club's potential Premier League promotion, per The Sun.

– According to Football Insider, Newcastle will return after the season for another attempt at signing Conor Gallagher, with the belief Chelsea would have allowed him to leave in January if their signing of Enzo Fernandez had been completed sooner.

Jose Mourinho said Roma deserved to pay for a "horrible" first-half performance in Wednesday's surprise 2-1 Coppa Italia quarter-final defeat against Cremonese.

Cremonese – who are without a win in Serie A this season – took a two-goal lead in Rome through Cyriel Dessers' penalty and Zeki Celik's own goal, before holding on after Andrea Belotti pulled one back late on.

Having also stunned Napoli in the previous round, Cremonese became the first promoted Serie A side to reach the Coppa Italia's final four since Cagliari in the 2004-05 campaign.

Mourinho made a remarkable quadruple substitution at half-time after storming down the tunnel early, and he said the Giallorossi could have no complaints following their dire start.

"Congratulations to Cremonese. They have achieved two great victories against Napoli and Roma, it's a strange cup that favours small teams, they have even more merit for this," he said.

"They are deservedly in the semi-final, we pay for a horrible first half, of a low level.

"I can say that this squad struggles with rotation, with three matches in a week, but let's think about this single match, and in the first half we deserved to pay the price.

"Football is like this, this happens with the top teams and with the smaller teams. In Naples [in Sunday's 2-1 loss at Napoli] we deserved more and for this I was proud, even after the defeat. 

"Today I can't say, others can comment. My job is to think about the next game.

"After more than a thousand games as a coach, I prefer to be objective and say that we played badly and we paid. We are a team and I don't want to make a single person responsible."

Mourinho was also asked about Nicolo Zaniolo, who asked to be welcomed back into the fold via an open letter on Wednesday after requesting a move during the January transfer window.

Having described the likelihood of Zaniolo remaining at the Stadio Olimpico as "unfortunate" last week, Mourinho was unwilling to discuss the 23-year-old's future, saying: "The ownership was very clear and I won't make any kind of comment."

Nicolo Zaniolo asked to be welcomed back in an open letter to Roma's supporters after his failed request to leave in the January transfer window.

Zaniolo was linked with several clubs – including Milan and Bournemouth – after Roma head coach Jose Mourinho confirmed the forward wished to depart after a win against Spezia in mid-January.

The Italy international was keen on a move to Milan and reportedly irked Roma by rejecting the chance to join Bournemouth in a £26.3million (€30m) deal.

That led Mourinho to describe the likelihood of Zaniolo staying at the Stadio Olimpico as "unfortunate" as the end of the window approached, while the forward was also reportedly threatened by fans.

With Zaniolo set to stay at Roma until at least the end of the season after failing to secure a move away, he hopes the Giallorossi will welcome him back into the fold.

"Many things have been said and written about me in recent weeks and many are not true," the 23-year-old said in an open letter sent to ANSA on Wednesday.

"I arrived in Rome as an unknown and Roma and the fans welcomed me as one of their own. They gave me trust, courage and affection in the terrible moments and during my injuries. 

"At 23, I have had experiences that many of my colleagues do not in their whole careers, to fall, to get up, to fall again, to get up again, to win.

"In recent months, I went through a delicate period, in which it was difficult to understand what my professional future would be. 

"However, I have always worked hard on the pitch and in training with the utmost professionalism. For the first time in recent days I have been afraid, for myself and for my family, and I have felt abandoned.

"The future is in our hands. I hold out mine and place myself at the complete disposal of the Roma family."

Zaniolo – who has only scored once in 13 Serie A appearances this campaign – has not played for Roma since their Coppa Italia win over Genoa on January 12, missing their last three league games.

Manchester City are reportedly planning a move for Leicester City midfielder James Maddison at the end of the season.

Maddison, 26, has been one of the top goal-creating midfielders in the Premier League over the past couple of seasons, collecting seven goals and four assists from 14 fixtures this campaign after a 2021-22 season with 12 goals and eight assists.

He closed last campaign with goals in each of his final four Premier League outings and was heavily sought after in pre-season, but Leicester opted to hold onto their midfield star.

Regardless of what happens in the second half of the season, Maddison has less than 18 months remaining on his contract and has reportedly shown no interest in extending, which will likely force Leicester's hand unless they want to lose him on a free transfer as appears likely with Youri Tielemans.


According to the Daily Mail, City boss Pep Guardiola is an admirer of Maddison, and with plenty of upheaval expected in the club's engine room, a space could open up for the Foxes star.

The report states Leicester set their asking price at £60million when Newcastle United came knocking prior to this season, but they held firm as the offers "did not come close" to their valuation.

City midfielders Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva are both expected to depart at the conclusion of the campaign, and their supposed £70m demand for the latter would likely pay for Maddison's arrival.

Leicester are already set to lose Tielemans on a free transfer after spending £32m to purchase his services in 2019, and they will likely be eager to avoid a similar fate with Maddison, while Brendan Rodgers could then use the fee to fund a mini rebuild.


– Calciomercato is reporting Chelsea enquired about 25-year-old Inter midfielder Nicolo Barella but were told the Italian club have no interest in selling, as he remains tied to the club until 2026.

– According to Sky Sports Italia, disgruntled Roma forward Nicolo Zaniolo had a change of heart and wanted to head to Bournemouth, but the English side turned him down after spending their funds elsewhere.

– Fabrizio Romano is reporting Barcelona have an anxious wait to see if their €4m ($4.35m) transfer for 21-year-old LA Galaxy defender Julian Araujo will be processed as the deal was signed seconds after the deadline.

– Manchester United captain Harry Maguire never considered a loan move to Inter and will remain with the club until at least the end of the season, per Fabrizio Romano.

Arsenal are still desperate to add a new face in central midfield and will reportedly make late runs at Chelsea's Jorginho and Leicester City's Youri Tielemans before the transfer deadline.

Tielemans is one of Leicester's top talents, appearing in all 20 of their Premier League games this season while contributing three goals and an assist from his 18 starts.

Jorginho is in his fifth season at Stamford Bridge and remains an integral part of Chelsea's squad, making 15 league starts this season, including wearing the captain's armband in their two most recent fixtures.

However, both players are in the final six months of their contracts and are set to become available via free transfers at the end of the campaign, and their clubs may be willing to accept a significantly reduced figure for highly valuable assets.



According to Football London, Arsenal's pursuit of 21-year-old Brighton and Hove Albion standout Moises Caicedo appears to have been unsuccessful, and they now view Jorginho as an acceptable alternative.

The report states Chelsea are willing to let the Italy international leave, indicating he will become expendable if the impending arrival of Benfica's Enzo Fernandez comes to fruition.

Football London also adds Arsenal will make another push at both Caicedo and Real Sociedad's Martin Zubimendi, but they are considered unlikely options.

Meanwhile, 90min claims Leicester would be more open to allowing Tielemans to leave if they were not locked in a relegation battle, but as it stands they would need a "huge" bid to prioritise a transfer fee over their Premier League survival.



– Calciomercato is reporting Leeds United will try to secure Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo after he snubbed Bournemouth, but Roma are unlikely to accept unless the full transfer fee is paid up front.

– According to L'Equipe, Paris Saint-Germain are interested in a loan move for Chelsea's Hakim Ziyech, who would prefer a loan to France instead of a fellow Premier League side.

– Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has rejected a loan approach from Inter and will instead opt to fight for his place, although he will re-evaluate his future at the end of the season, per the Daily Star.

– El Nacional is reporting Liverpool will make a run at signing Chelsea's N'Golo Kante when his contract expires after the season.

– According to Football Insider, Southampton have agreed to meet the £26.2million (€30m) release clause for 22-year-old Braga forward Vitinha.

Roma are targeting a solution to their Nicolo Zaniolo crisis before Tuesday's transfer deadline after the winger was "not very happy" about the prospect of joining Bournemouth.

The Italy international was strongly linked with Tottenham earlier this month; however, Antonio Conte subsequently signed Arnaut Danjuma on loan from Villarreal as a solution to his wide attacking midfield needs.

Bournemouth subsequently emerged as frontrunners, with the team third from bottom of the Premier League seeing Zaniolo as a player who could help them to safety in their first campaign back in the top flight.

Reports suggested Roma and Bournemouth had reached an agreement on a deal worth an initial £26.3million (€30m), but it appears Zaniolo is not sold on the idea of joining the English south-coast club.

Roma head coach Jose Mourinho has expressed major frustration over Zaniolo asking to leave and then stalling when the opportunity arose, saying it "unfortunately" seemed the 23-year-old would end up staying with the Giallorossi.

When asked about firm opportunities to sell Zaniolo, Roma general manager Tiago Pinto said on Sunday: "I have no problem answering this question, everyone understood what happened.

"Zaniolo asked to be sold, and together with the agent we found a solution. We succeeded, but now Nicolo is not very happy with the solution that has arrived, and obviously we are all in a bit of difficulty."

Last season saw Zaniolo score the only goal of the inaugural Europa Conference League final, as Roma beat Feyenoord, yet his time at the Stadio Olimpico may be up.

Speaking to DAZN, Pinto said Roma would not be able to buy a player to take Zaniolo's place before sealing the sale of the former Inter youth-team player.

He, too, is frustrated by Zaniolo's stalling on a transfer, with time at a premium.

"We found this solution following a request from the player and, as you know, with all the limits that we have with financial fair play we are not exactly a company that can yield to Zaniolo's no and take on other players," Pinto said.

"We are always bound by those limits. Now we have another 48 hours, let's see what happens. I don't want to dwell on this issue, it is really a difficult situation for us."

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