Nuno Mendes looks set to miss the rest of the World Cup but will stay with Portugal in Qatar, coach Fernando Santos has announced.

The Paris Saint-Germain left-back seemed set to be an important member of the Portugal team in Qatar, but a thigh injury has scuppered hopes of being a fixture in the side.

Mendes was not involved in the opening 3-2 win against Ghana but started against Uruguay on Monday, only to be substituted just 42 minutes into that game and replaced by Borussia Dortmund's Raphael Guerreiro.

He left the field in tears, and that seems likely to be his only involvement in the tournament, with Guerreiro the obvious choice to be Portugal's starter at left-back against South Korea on Friday and thereafter, with the team's place in the knockout stage secured.

The 20-year-old was also troubled by a thigh problem in the weeks leading up to the tournament but returned to the PSG starting line-up for two games before joining up with his national side.

Santos said: "He will continue to stay with us here in Qatar because that's what the players wanted. The club allowed him to come here because it was important to him.

"He wanted to stay here with us, this really reflects the spirit of the team and how united we all are.

"I feel sad about those who won't be able to play, but it has to encourage me and the other players, because we have to make up for those who aren't there."

A statement from the Portuguese federation, the FPF, read: "The international Nuno Mendes, after carrying out tests, was considered unavailable for the work of the national team by the health and performance unit of the FPF. 

"The player suffered a muscle injury in his left thigh during the game between Portugal and Uruguay. Nuno Mendes will remain part of the national delegation in Qatar, where he will begin the recovery work."

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Christophe Galtier said his players held a "feeling of frustration" after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Benfica in the Champions League.

Lionel Messi became the first player to score against 40 different sides in the Champions League with a superb 22nd-minute strike, but a Danilo Pereira own goal ensured the teams went into half-time level.

Despite the French champions having the better chances in the second half, they failed to find a winner as they took just a point back to Paris, though they remain top of Group H on goals scored.

PSG have now won just once in their last seven away Champions League matches and are without a clean sheet in their last 11 games in the competition, and Galtier told RMC Sport: "There is a feeling of frustration among the players because they have made a lot of effort.

"We had chances in both periods, even if Benfica had some in the first period and that our goalkeeper was busy and efficient. They were quite dangerous.

"We had a fairly good technical mastery with a lot of people up front. In the first half, we didn't have many chances, even though we scored a wonderful goal.

"In the second half, we asked the boys to have more mobility, more depth and more input from the wings. We had a good second half."

PSG finished with 15 shots to Benfica's eight and completed 700 passes, yet for all their firepower were held firm by the team that will visit Parc des Princes next week.

Messi appeared to be a possible doubt for the return fixture, when he made way with 10 minutes remaining for Pablo Sarabia despite PSG chasing a winner, but Galtier eased any fears of an injury.

"After making a sprint, he [Messi] felt tired," Galtier added. "He came off, because he felt tired and a fresh team-mate was much better at that moment in the game."

With the World Cup in Qatar starting in a little over six weeks, European football's biggest clubs are experiencing an even tighter schedule than usual.

While acknowledging the season is a unique one, Galtier warned his players are paying the price for the congestion.

"It's a very special season, there is fatigue, breakage," he added. "Today we lost Nuno Mendes and we realise that, in this overloaded calendar, there are a lot muscular incidents and injuries."

Kylian Mbappe scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain made it five wins from six Ligue 1 games this season with a 3-0 win over 10-man Nantes on Saturday.

Mbappe put the champions ahead shortly before the midway point of the first half with his sixth league goal of the campaign, before Nantes wing-back Fabio received his marching orders for a high challenge.

The France international grabbed his second early in the second half, before Nuno Mendes added a third as Christophe Galtier's men wrapped up maximum points with the minimum of fuss. 

The result meant PSG returned to the top of Ligue 1 after Marseille had briefly usurped them earlier in the day with victory over Auxerre, while Nantes remained in 10th.

Samuel Moutoussamy fired over for Nantes early on, while Danilo Pereira and Marquinhos went close at the other end as the visitors started to flex their muscles.

Mbappe then deservedly put PSG ahead in the 18th minute with a whipped effort past Alban Lafont after being played in by Lionel Messi at the end of an incisive counter-attacking move.

Nantes' task became significantly harder six minutes later when Fabio received a straight red card for an ugly lunge on Vitinha.

The game was effectively put out of their reach in the 54th minute when Mbappe prodded home from six yards after being picked out by Messi, the goal eventually given after a long VAR review for a possible offside.

Substitute Neymar inexplicably hit the post with the goal at his mercy, but his blushes were spared when Mendes fired in the rebound for his first PSG goal. 

What does it mean? Nantes blown away by relentless champions

Nantes kept PSG at bay for 18 minutes, yet as soon as Mbappe superbly finished off a flowing move there was only going to be one winner.

The result means PSG have now won seven of their past eight Ligue 1 away games, scoring a whopping 34 goals and conceding just five in that time.

Magnificent Messi

Mbappe will get the headlines after his brace, but Messi was at his unplayable best here.

The Argentina maestro laid on both of Mbappe's goals from two of his three key passes – a total not bettered by anyone on the pitch.

Foolish Fabio

Nantes were already 1-0 down when Fabio raked his studs down Vitinha's leg and any hopes they had of getting back into the game were vanquished with his dismissal.

Boss Antoine Kombouare will not be pleased with the former Manchester United man's recklessness.

What's next?

Both sides are in European action in midweek, with PSG starting their Champions League campaign at home to Juventus on Tuesday and Nantes hosting Olympiacos in the Europa League two days later.

Nuno Mendes has signed a four-year contract at Paris Saint-Germain after the Ligue 1 club triggered their purchase option.

The Portugal left-back initially joined PSG on loan from Sporting CP last year as the final signing of a busy transfer window in which Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos also arrived, among others.

While Messi and Ramos each failed to perform to the levels expected of them in their debut seasons in France, Mendes was a steady presence as Mauricio Pochettino's men won the title.

He made 37 appearances in all competitions, including 27 in Ligue 1 – 18 as a starter – as he created 19 chances and provided a single assist.

Mendes will now have the opportunity to add to that tally in the coming campaign after PSG made use of their option to buy the 19-year-old, as was expected.

His signing has reportedly seen PSG pay Sporting €40million.

Striker Darwin Nunez has reportedly chosen the Premier League as his preferred destination in the upcoming transfer window as he prepares to leave Benfica after a breakout season.

Nunez, who turns 23 in June, burst onto the European stage with an incredible Champions League campaign, netting six goals in 10 matches – a Benfica record – including scoring in both legs against Liverpool in the knockout stages.

He was just as impressive domestically, scoring 26 goals in 28 Primeira Liga games, and now looks to be on the move.

TOP STORY – DARWIN'S THEORIES LEAD HIM TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE

Football Transfers reports that both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid had weighed up offers for Nunez, but he has his heart set on the Premier League.

Liverpool and Manchester United are reportedly in the strongest position, while Newcastle United and Tottenham are also interested and are said to have met with his representatives.

Nunez is being represented by Eugenio Lopez, who had previously represented fellow Benfica team-mate Nicolas Otamendi in his move from Valencia to Manchester City.

ROUND-UP

United have engaged in talks with Ajax over 20-year-old Netherlands centre-back Jurrien Timber, with the price tag said to be in the range of £43million, according to the Guardian.

– According to Sky Sports, Sadio Mane has not told Liverpool he wants to leave the club as rumours swirl about a potential move to Bayern Munich.

– The Telegraph is reporting City will look to sign Brighton and Hove Albion full-back Marc Cucurella and Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips, while according to the Daily Mail, they also have strong interest in Leicester City youngster Ben Nelson.

Paris Saint-Germain have exercised their buy option on loanee Nuno Mendes, securing his services going forward for a €40m fee, per Fabrizio Romano.

– The Daily Mail is reporting Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal are all interested in making a move for Everton striker Richarlison if he decides to leave Goodison Park.

Mauricio Pochettino was left to lament costly defensive errors after Paris Saint-Germain squandered a 2-0 lead in their frustrating 2-2 Ligue 1 draw with Troyes on Sunday.

Ligue 1 champions PSG found themselves 2-0 up inside 25 minutes at the Parc des Princes after Marquinhos and Neymar found the net, but Nuno Mendes' dire pass allowed Ike Ugbo to halve the arrears before Florian Tardieu scored a second-half penalty to ensure the points were shared.

The disappointing draw marked the first time PSG had led by two goals in a home Ligue 1 match and failed to win since February 2015 in a 2-2 draw against Caen, after Presnel Kimpembe's clumsy foul allowed Tardieu to beat Keylor Navas with an audacious Panenka. 

The Parisian giants were again booed by their own supporters at the full-time whistle, and have now thrown away a two-goal lead in consecutive games after being pegged back from 3-1 down in a 3-3 draw at Strasbourg last time out.

However, Pochettino, who is facing mounting pressure in the French capital despite PSG's title win, claimed his side were unfortunate not to win and should have been awarded a penalty when Achraf Hakimi appeared to be pushed shortly after the break.

"We started the match well, then we made two errors which cost us two goals," he said after the entertaining draw. "I think we still created more than Troyes.

"We deserved a little more luck tonight. We may have missed this tension of the competition. The objective was to win the championship, it's done. Now you have to respect the competition, and I think we did.

"I think [the lack of a penalty] was not justified. There was a penalty on Hakimi on the other side of the field. Our opponents must surely think the opposite, but that's my opinion."

PSG are now on a three-match winless streak in Ligue 1 – each of those finishing in draws – which is their longest such sequence since April 2019 (also three).

They have also failed to win back-to-back home games for the first time since suffering three consecutive home defeats between February and April last year.

Pochettino's team had numerous chances to win the game, with Lionel Messi hitting the post and the crossbar and Neymar having two goals ruled out by VAR.

Messi has now hit the woodwork 10 times in Ligue 1 this season. Since Opta began collecting such data (2006-07), no player has done so more often in a top-flight season (Bakary Sako also did so 10 times for Saint-Etienne in 2011-12), leading the forward's boss to rue his "incredible" misfortune.

"It's an incredible lack of luck," he said. "We could have won the match on his last action [when he hit the bar in the last minute]. For a player of his quality, this is the only explanation."

With PSG having wrapped up their 10th Ligue title last month, Pochettino has faced criticism from some quarters for not giving more game time to the club's young players.

But the Argentine insisted PSG's academy prospects must earn their right to play, and noted the fierce competition in his star-studded squad.

"It is important to clarify that we built a squad of more than thirty players at the start of the season. We had departures in January, but it is a team where there is not much room for young people," he added.

"They have to earn their playing time. Several have been training with us since day one. It's a first step. What is important is the composition of the squad going forward and that there is room for them to gain minutes. Little by little, young people will find their place."

Euro 2020 is just days away, and that means the rumour mill is about to go into overdrive.

International tournaments always represent something of a showcase for clubs seeking reinforcements and this year will be no different, even if the impact of the pandemic means spending may not quite reach levels of old.

There will be several players eager to impress at these finals: some will be long-term targets out to justify the hype, while others will be seeking a new challenge as contracts begin to wind down.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform has compiled a list of some of the candidates vying to be front and centre of this particular shop window...

 

Belgium: Jeremy Doku

One of Belgium's less-known attacking stars, Jeremy Doku was directly involved in 10 goals in the Jupiler League by the time he was 18 years and 115 days old, a record bettered only by Romelu Lukaku.

Previously wanted by Liverpool, the Rennes forward could become a target for Jurgen Klopp – thought to be exploring new attacking options – should he be given the chance to impress by Roberto Martinez.

Croatia: Bruno Petkovic

"Bruno Petkovic has to be at Euro 2020 what [Mario] Mandzukic was in Russia," said Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic last month. No pressure, then.

Still, the Dinamo Zagreb forward impressed in last season's Europa League with four goals in nine starts and could represent a relatively low-cost option in the market.

England: Jadon Sancho

The star performer as Borussia Dortmund won the DFB-Pokal final, Jadon Sancho was the first English player since David Beckham 20 years ago to register at least 10 assists for three seasons in a row in Europe's top-five leagues.

Manchester United continue to be mooted as the winger's most likely destination should he leave Dortmund, but a star turn at the Euros could trigger a bidding war among some of the biggest clubs.

France: Jules Kounde

Getting into the France starting line-up is no easy task these days, but Jules Kounde could well force Didier Deschamps' hand given the qualities he brings to centre-back.

An accomplished stopper, the Sevilla man is also impeccable on the ball: he made 887 forward passes in LaLiga last season, the most of any outfield player. Little wonder that Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal have all been linked.

Germany: Florian Neuhaus

Given he has been linked with Bayern Munich for months now, Florian Neuhaus must be doing something right.

The 108th Germany debutant under Joachim Low, the Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder could well find himself in high demand in the transfer window should he earn a regular spot at the Euros.

Italy: Manuel Locatelli

The heartbeat of a vibrant Sassuolo side, Manuel Locatelli in January became the first Italian player born after January 1, 1998 to record 10 Serie A assists.

Juventus are considered his likely next destination, but there are reports of interest from the Premier League, which would likely only increase in number should he shine at the Euros.

Netherlands: Memphis Depay

It appears likely Memphis Depay will leave Lyon for Barcelona on a free transfer, but, as long as that deal is not concluded, other clubs may sense the chance to snap up the forward.

Depay just became the first Lyon player to register at least 20 goals and 10 assists in a single Ligue 1 season since at least 2006-07 and looks like one of the Oranje's form players.

Poland: Kacper Kozlowski

At just 17, Kacper Kozlowski has established himself in the Pogon Szczecin first team, something made all-the-more remarkable given he was badly injured in a car crash in January 2020.

Although a name not well known outside Poland, the midfielder has been scouted by Manchester United and interest across the continent could well pick up after this tournament.

 

Portugal: Nuno Mendes

Considered one of Portugal's brightest prospects, Nuno Mendes has already been linked with the Manchester clubs after shining for Sporting CP.

Interest in the 18-year-old is only likely to increase should he perform well at the Euros, especially if he ousts Raphael Guerreiro from the side, and Sporting would surely be prepared to sell for a handsome fee.

 

Russia: Denis Cheryshev

Zero goas in 21 games for Valencia in LaLiga last season underlined a frustrating spell for Denis Cheryshev at club level.

The 30-year-old was Russia's star performer at the World Cup three years ago, though, and the Euros offer a good chance to tempt any possible suitors as he considers his future.

Spain: Pau Torres

Pau Torres was at the heart of Villarreal's Europa League triumph. In fact, he made nine appearances without being dribbled past, a single-season tally only bettered twice in the competition's history.

The centre-back has made it clear he is happy at the club, but strong performances for Spain could tempt suitors including Manchester United to test Villarreal's resolve to keep him.

Sweden: Alexander Isak

Linked with Barcelona during the season, Real Sociedad's Alexander Isak broke Zlatan Ibrahimovic's record for most goals by a Swede in a single LaLiga campaign by scoring 17 in 2020-21.

With Ibrahimovic missing these finals due to injury, 21-year-old Isak has a good opportunity to impress on the international stage.

Switzerland: Denis Zakaria

With his contract expiring next year, Denis Zakaria could be a more affordable midfield signing for any clubs willing to tempt Borussia Monchengladbach into a sale.

The 24-year-old offers great variety to the Switzerland midfield and English sides are expected to be watching him closely at these finals.

Ukraine: Ruslan Malinovskiy

Ruslan Malinovskiy is another Atalanta player to catch the eye under Gian Piero Gasperini. He was directly involved in a goal every 94 minutes in Serie A in 2020-21, the most of any midfielder to play at least 15 times.

Now 28, this could be his best chance to secure a significant transfer should he decide to leave Bergamo, and there have been rumblings of interest from Chelsea.

Wales: Gareth Bale

With 11 goals in 10 Premier League starts in 2020-21, Gareth Bale registered the best minutes-per-goal ratio (84) of any of the competition's top goalscorers.

He is returning to Real Madrid following his loan at Tottenham and Carlo Ancelotti appears keen to keep him, but heroics for Wales could encourage suitors to bid.

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