Manchester City have loaned highly-rated defender Taylor Harwood-Bellis to Championship side Blackburn Rovers. 

The 19-year-old made his debut for City against Preston North End in the EFL Cup in September 2019 and has gone on to make a further eight appearances across all competitions for Pep Guardiola's side. 

Harwood-Bellis will spend the rest of the 2020-21 campaign with Rovers, who are eighth in the Championship. 

His move means it is unlikely fellow central defender Eric Garcia will be allowed to join LaLiga giants Barcelona. 

There had been suggestions Garcia would return to his boyhood club before the close of the mid-season transfer window on Monday, but Guardiola will want to ensure he has adequate cover for the heart of his defence in the second half of the season. 

The 20-year-old's contract expires at the end of this season and it appears he will have to wait until then to rejoin Barca.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has challenged his Manchester United players to rediscover their "mojo" as they bid to return to winning ways in the Premier League against Southampton on Tuesday.  

The Red Devils' title tilt has suffered a blow over the past week, a shock home defeat to rock-bottom Sheffield United followed up with a point from a 0-0 result at Arsenal on Saturday – their fourth goalless draw in the league this season.  

They are now three points behind leaders Manchester City - who also have a game in hand - in the Premier League table, having sat top not so long ago. 

United will hope to get back on track against a Southampton side they have not lost to in nine games, although they are looking to complete their first league double over them since their title-winning campaign of 2012-13. 

Ralph Hasenhuttl's side might fancy their chances of ending that run, however, given United have lost four of their 10 top-flight home games this season. That is already the third highest number of losses they have suffered in a single Premier League campaign, after 2001-02 (six) and 2013-14 (seven). 

United have scored just four goals in their previous five Premier League games, leading Solskjaer to acknowledge his side have lacked "spark" in front of goal.

"There's not been time to do a lot on the training pitch," he told a media conference. "The boys that played are still on the recovery track from Saturday but they have to prepare for the game tomorrow; it's right in between for them. 

"The session was light but they scored some goals. We want to get that mojo back, that spark. 

"We have created enough chances to score the goals, now it's about feeling good, taking a deep breath and putting the ball between the posts. 

"We want to keep on trying to dominate games. We need a little bit of brightness, a spark in the last third and take our chances." 

United have allowed Jesse Lingard, Teden Mengi and Facundo Pellistri to leave on loan during the mid-season transfer window, but Solskjaer revealed there will be no incomings at Old Trafford on deadline day. 

"I can confirm there won't be anyone coming in, so don't stay up late," the Norwegian said, with the window closing late on Monday. 

"We've made decisions we feel have been good for individuals and for us as well, with the young players moving on. Our group is a tight-knit group and we don't have too many players in excess." 

Gary Neville is ready to accept the "fun" of watching Liverpool struggle appears to be over, though the former Manchester United defender always expected Jurgen Klopp's side to rediscover their form. 

The reigning champions endured a five-match winless Premier League run to slip off the pace, a dip that allowed rivals United to briefly go top of the table. 

However, while the Red Devils have managed to take just a solitary point from their previous two outings – including suffering a shock home loss to bottom club Sheffield United – Liverpool have reeled off successive wins in London. 

The Reds still sit four points behind in-form leaders Manchester City – who also have a game in hand – but Neville is not surprised to see Klopp right the ship and get Liverpool back on course, even if it does mean an end to his "two or three-week party" during their recent slump.

"I don't think any of us ever thought Liverpool were out of the title race in the last few weeks," Neville said during his podcast for Sky Sports. 

"I may have had a bit of fun, let's be clear, watching them drop points in those midweek games and seeing United go top of the league. It's been a two or three-week party but that's what I felt it was. 

"I felt it was just a two or three-week party. I thought it would come to an end at some point and that Liverpool would resume their form. 

"I don't think United necessarily had to fall away but I thought Liverpool would come back and that they would get over this blip. They have got too good a coach and they have got too good a squad." 

Liverpool won 3-1 at West Ham on Sunday less than 72 hours after triumphing by the same scoreline against Tottenham in the capital. Jordan Henderson played both games at centre-back due to injuries, albeit the Reds may be set to add to their defensive options before the transfer window closes. 

Neville has been impressed at how, despite the long-term absences of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, Klopp has not seen the need to adjust the way his team plays to accommodate those coming into the starting XI. 

The Reds host Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday before leaders City visit Anfield at the weekend, a huge clash for both clubs and their respective hopes in the title race.

"Well done to Liverpool because whereby they have got different personnel in those positions, their structure is still the same," Neville said.

"They are still pushing up the pitch, they are still playing that high line, pressing the game, they are still compact from back to front and they are still sustaining attacks. 

"They are doing the same things even though they have different personnel, and that's credit to the players, credit to the coach and I have to say, they have been decimated with injuries to some of their best players. 

"They have had big problems and yet they are overcoming it. If they can beat Brighton in midweek, which, no disrespect to Brighton, they should do at home, then we have got a real cracker next Sunday against Manchester City."

Mikel Arteta joked he has spoken to Arsenal's technical director Edu more than anyone else in the past year, including his wife.

Arteta returned to the Gunners to replace Unai Emery in December 2019 and a busy rebuilding of the first-team squad coupled with the issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic have led to a busy time for the Spaniard and fellow ex-Arsenal midfielder Edu.

With Monday representing the end of the transfer window, the two are set to be in contact a lot on a typically hectic day.

Arteta's close relationship with Edu is something he cherishes, and is clearly not lost on his spouse.

"Probably in the last year or so I spoke probably to Edu more or less more than anybody else in my life!" Arteta said ahead of Arsenal's Premier League clash at Wolves on Tuesday.

"That's for sure what my wife says because of the things we have to go through with coronavirus as well, [and] the transfers. 

"Luckily we have a great relationship, a great understanding and we support each other in a great way. It's lucky you have to talk all the time with someone around the day that the relationship is strong."

Despite the challenges on the club's finances caused by the global health pandemic, Arsenal have still managed some shrewd business including bringing in Thomas Partey and Gabriel during the previous window.

With Martin Odegaard having also arrived on loan from Real Madrid last week, Arteta praised the work done by Edu behind the scenes.

"Well, I think he's doing a great job and the club since I joined," he added.

"The clarity he showed when they tried to convince me to join the club and stick to the plan we have, the way he's going about it I'm really impressed with him."

Arteta still has issues down the left-hand side ahead of the visit to Molineux, with the status of full-back Kieran Tierney (leg) and Bukayo Saka (hip), both of whom missed Sunday's goalless draw with Manchester United, remaining unclear.

"We don't know yet, today we have a training session, they haven't been able to train yet with us," Arteta said. 

"I think it will be difficult for them but we will see the last minute how they're feeling."

Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is still waiting to hear if he can play. The Gabon striker was unable to feature against the Red Devils as he follows protocol rules after visiting his ill mother last week.

"There are still some things to clear up, maybe yes maybe not, we're still doing some paperwork at the moment," Arteta said when asked if Aubameyang, who also missed the win over Southampton, can face Wolves.

One year on from his Red Devils debut, Bruno Fernandes is the face of Manchester United and one of Europe's finest, but back in 2012 it was a lot different.

There were no camera crews when a baby-faced Fernandes packed his bags and left Portugal for Italy almost nine years ago – Novara was the destination for the unheralded midfielder.

Novara, a club based in the Piedmont region in northwest Italy, had been alerted to the 17-year-old. Scouted by former head of youth Mauro Borghetti, they opted to sign Fernandes from Boavista – investing for the future.

"The previous season our club was in Serie A but was being relegated in Serie B, so with the board we took the decision to invest some money on some foreign talents," Borghetti – now sporting director of the Serie C side – told Stats Perform News.

"Bruno Fernandes was in this list and because of his technical skills and his value – we knew his value more or less – we decided to make a survey for this player and pay him a visit.

"On a Saturday morning I took a flight to Portugal to watch an Under-19 Boavista game. He struck me for the characteristics he is showing now, although he didn't shine that much in that game. But I could see his skills and his personality on top of his creativity."

It is not often Portuguese talent leave their homeland for abroad, but Fernandes forged his own path en route to Old Trafford, having also played for Udinese, Sampdoria and Sporting CP.

"Bruno's situation was peculiar," Borghetti said. "He was not playing in one of the top Portuguese clubs that boast great visibility and can make young talents grow in the country. Bruno was playing in the U19 of Boavista, a club relegated in the third division at the time.

"He was waiting for his chance to shine. Novara, an Italian club, albeit in Serie B at the time, was what Bruno was waiting for. So it was not hard to find a deal and Bruno didn't take long to give us the green light."

Initially signed to Novara's youth team, Fernandes made an immediate impact at Stadio Silvio Piola, where he learnt Italian language using post-it notes.

Fernandes scored four goals in 23 appearances as Novara finished fifth in the 2012-13 Serie B season before falling to Empoli in the promotion play-offs.

"Bruno is a very smart guy so he settled in right away at Novara," Borghetti continued. "In one week, 10 days tops, he started communicating with the group in Italian, an example of his intelligence. This helped him a lot as much as the fact of being the only foreigner, the only Portuguese, in a full Italian squad. This helped him get involved faster, he was basically forced to speak Italian. He settled down so quickly and this helped him a lot."

Borghetti added: "As a foreign kid who was supposed to take his time to settle in, he definitely was quick in doing it. We didn't expect such a growth as we didn't know him so well. When we started to know him better, then yes, we thought he could go straight to the first team.

"In fact, he stayed only six months in Novara U19 squad. He then played the second part of the season as a starter of the first squad, scoring and taking the team to the playoff for Serie A."

Having exceeded expectations at Novara, Fernandes quickly made the step up to Serie A – firstly with Udinese before joining Sampdoria three years later in 2016.

But it was not until 2017, when he returned to his homeland, that Fernandes captured the attention of United and Europe's elite.

Fernandes was a class above in Primeira Liga, scoring 64 goals in 137 appearances for Sporting, where he led the Portuguese giants to Taca da Liga (2018 and 2019) and Taca de Portugal (2019) glory.

There were rumours of interest from Real Madrid and Tottenham, but after months of speculation, United finally landed their talisman in deal worth an initial £47million last year.

Fernandes has not looked back – the Portugal international has been involved in 45 goals across all competitions, more than any other player for a Premier League club.

Only captain Harry Maguire (54) has made more competitive appearances for United than the Portuguese (53), but the former Sporting skipper has scored the most goals (28) and assisted his team-mates the most often (17).

Fernandes ended 2020 winning his fourth Premier League Player of the Month award, becoming the first to claim that many honours in a calendar year. For that award, he has already matched the tallies of United greats Paul Scholes and Ronaldo and is just one behind all-time leading goalscorer Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.

A transformative signing for the Red Devils, Fernandes has been directly involved in 33 goals in his first 35 appearances (19 goals, 14 assists) – a figure bettered only by Andrew Cole (41) in the history of the Premier League.

"For us he was a very important player," Borghetti said. "He always proved he was a cut above the average footballers. But to be honest with Udinese and Sampdoria he was in Serie A but hadn't impressed us all so much.

"His breakthrough came after his season in Portugal with Sporting. There he became a world-class player, playing the World Cup next to Cristiano Ronaldo, so you could expect a big move.

"Now he is at United, one of the most glorious clubs in Europe, and he fully deserves it. He epitomises the idea that a player can always improve throughout his career and achieve higher and higher results."

Fernandes was crowned United's Player of the Year in 2019-20, becoming the second Portuguese player to win the award after international team-mate Ronaldo. Since its inception in 1987-88, no player has won the award having played as few games in a season as Fernandes' 22 in all competitions last term.

This season, Fernandes has scored 11 Premier League goals and supplied seven assists in 21 appearances as second-placed United dream of silverware. In total, he has managed 16 goals across all competitions.

Not since 2013 – Alex Ferguson's final season at the Theatre of Dreams – have United won the Premier League but Fernandes' presence has awoken a sleeping giant after years of mediocrity. While Maguire wears the armband, the 26-year-old Fernandes is a demanding figure on and off the pitch.

"He didn't stay long in the youth team and then in the first squad because he moved to Serie A right away, so he didn't have the chance to become a captain [at Novara]," Borghetti said. "But he is a soul captain, his personality makes him an example on the pitch and as a professional. He always proved this so I am not surprised at all that in his career and now he is so mature as a leader and could be shortlisted for being the captain." 

As Fernandes continues to take England by storm, Borghetti added: "When I watch him on TV, I feel satisfaction. I follow United more now because there is a kid I know who plays there. Whatever he achieved was done thanks to his skills, exclusively his merit. On the other hand, a glimpse of importance is mine because with one evaluation I gave him the chance to prove himself.

"Novara in his history, although short, was a chance to shine. Without Novara, maybe Bruno would have got to the highest level anyway through different paths, but since this cannot be proved, I can say Novara and I have been an important stepping-stone for him." 

"I think he is at a high level now," he said. "To improve he should only win individual trophies or with his team domestically and in Europe. That is what he should do with Manchester United. On a personal level, it is the athlete's constant aim to improving all the time, but now Bruno is at such a high level where improvements are now difficult."

Will he stay or will he go?

That is the question regarding Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, who is a reported target for Real Madrid and Liverpool.

If Mbappe opts to call time on his PSG stall, the French champions are still aiming high.

 

TOP STORY – LIFE WITHOUT MBAPPE IN PARIS?

Paris Saint-Germain are more determined than ever to give head coach Mauricio Pochettino a dream forward line amid doubts over Kylian Mabppe's future, according to Le10 Sport.

Mbappe – out of contract in 2022 – has been heavily linked with LaLiga champions Real Madrid and Premier League holders Liverpool.

If Mbappe does not remain in Paris, PSG will step up their pursuit of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

 

ROUND-UP

Massimiliano Allegri has turned down Roma as he waits for Madrid, repots Todofichajes. Zinedine Zidane is under mounting pressure in the Spanish capital, while it is a similar situation for Roma boss Paulo Fonseca.

Manchester City are willing to sign a striker and Messi this offseason, according to The Athletic. With City yet to offer Sergio Aguero a new deal, Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland and Inter pair Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku are reported targets as Pep Guardiola's side also eye soon-to-be free agent Messi.

- Fabrizio Romano says Liverpool have agreed to sign Ben Davies from Preston North End ahead of Monday's deadline day. Jurgen Klopp has been eyeing a defender due to the club's injury crisis.

Dele Alli's proposed switch from Tottenham to PSG is not progressing, reports Romano. Struggling for game time at Spurs, Alli has been keen for a loan move to PSG, but Tottenham are unwilling to sanction a departure as Inter block Christian Eriksen's return.

Leicester City are the frontrunners to sign Arsenal's Ainsley Maitland-Niles, claims The Mirror.

Jose Mourinho claimed his Tottenham team showed a "sadness" in their 1-0 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday.

Spurs suffered back-to-back Premier League defeats as Leandro Trossard's well-crafted early goal proved decisive at the AMEX Stadium.

It was Brighton's first home league win of the campaign – and their first since June – while Tottenham have lost four of their last eight top-flight matches, as many defeats as they had suffered across their previous 28 games in the division.

Talisman Harry Kane was missing due to an injury sustained in Thursday's reverse to Liverpool, and Spurs have won just three of their last 13 Premier League games in which the England captain has not featured (D4 L6), including none of their last four (D1 L3).

A dismal first-half showing saw Tottenham manage just one attempt, the 11th occasion a Mourinho side has had one shot or fewer in the opening 45 minutes of a Premier League game, and the former Chelsea and Manchester United boss accepted his team started with a lack of intensity.

"I agree with that," Mourinho told Sky Sports. "We didn't start well and the team was a bit sad, my feeling was the team was a bit sad.

"To concede a goal early brought even more sadness and lack of self-esteem, the team was suffering. The second half was different. The chances they had were the chances of a team that was trying everything.

"I saw people trying really hard, I saw some individuals with fatigue but trying hard. The defeat of course is always a bad feeling, but I leave with a positive feeling for my boys which is a good thing for me."

Indeed, Mourinho – who has lost all three of his league visits to Brighton – went as far as to say his side deserved more than they got from the match, despite mustering only eight attempts compared to the hosts' 16, with only substitute Carlos Vinicius truly testing Seagulls goalkeeper Robert Sanchez.

"The last 25, 30 minutes I saw a team ready to give everything, gamble everything and finish the way we finished," he added.

"Probably the boys deserved more than we got. I go with the positive feeling for my boys because in the last 30 minutes they showed they wanted everything but defeat."

In Kane's absence, Son Heung-min filled in up top, with Gareth Bale handed a rare start on the right, but the duo failed to link up to much effect, the latter creating only one chance before he was subbed off just after the hour.

"We tried to start with a team that could try to give Sonny the same dynamic that he is used to," Mourinho explained.

"There is no replacement for Harry but we tried to have Bale going into those positions to connect with Son, and we were not successful, but I'm not speaking about Bale, I am speaking about us.

"Vinicius is a different player, we tried to change the target point. He brought us energy, new problems to the opponent. The team improved."

Brighton and Hove Albion ended a run of 14 Premier League home matches without a win as they overcame toothless Tottenham 1-0.

Shorn of Harry Kane, who suffered an ankle injury against Liverpool on Thursday, Jose Mourinho's side were second best for large periods of Sunday's encounter.

Indeed, bar two efforts from Spurs substitute Carlos Vinicius, Brighton had little trouble holding onto the lead given to them by Leandro Trossard's 17th-minute finish.

It came at the culmination of a slick team move befitting of Graham Potter's desired style of play, with Brighton not made to suffer for a late Aaron Connolly miss as they moved seven points clear of the bottom three.

Alexis Mac Allister has created two goals in his last three Brighton appearances and might have had another assist in the third minute when he teed up Pascal Gross, who prodded against the post.

With Spurs failing to get out of the blocks, however, Mac Allister and Gross combined to brilliant effect 14 minutes later – the latter racing onto the Argentine's neat throughball and squaring for Trossard to slot home.

The integral Mac Allister sent an acrobatic attempt just wide as Brighton probed for a second, with Steven Bergwijn then lashing across goal with Spurs' first attempt in the 30th minute.

In need of drastic improvement, Mourinho introduced Vinicius in place of Davinson Sanchez for the second half.

Vinicius was quickly involved as he saw a close-range header saved by Robert Sanchez, though Hugo Lloris had to be alert at the other end to deny Ben White.

Neal Maupay headed wide as Brighton threatened to turn the screw, though an excellent strike from Vinicius looked set to make them pay until Sanchez got across to make a fine stop.

Toby Alderweireld's magnificent block from what seemed a tap-in for Connolly kept Spurs' hopes alive, yet Brighton held on to seal a first home league win since they beat Arsenal in June.

Jurgen Klopp has lauded his Liverpool side for once again making life "uncomfortable" for their opponents following a 3-1 win at West Ham on Sunday. 

The defending Premier League champions ended a five-match winless run in the top flight by beating Tottenham 3-1 on Thursday and they followed that up with another impressive victory in London.

Mohamed Salah took his Premier League tally against West Ham to nine – his best return against a side in the competition – with a fine double, while Georginio Wijnaldum's late effort ensured all three points against David Moyes' side, who scored a consolation through Craig Dawson.

The win moves the Reds to four points adrift of leaders Manchester City, who have a game in hand, and Klopp is pleased his players are starting to find their form after a tricky period.

"These boys are a really good group," he told Sky Sports. "They're not happy at not being successful, not winning, but they always have the right attitude.

"But they need the right information as well; I said that after the Burnley game [when they lost 1-0], that was my fault.

"Now we have found a way for us to be uncomfortable for other teams. Our last two games were like this."

The result means Liverpool have won more Premier League matches against West Ham (31) then they have against any other side in the competition, while they have lost just one of their past 16 Premier League games in London.

All of the Reds' goals came in the second period, with Klopp attributing their revival to a series of half-time tweaks.

"It was a great game, a very professional game, very controlled against usually a flying side," he added.

"We didn't create enough in the first half, but we controlled the game. We made little adjustments at half-time and it paid off. We scored three unbelievable goals. I'm really happy.

"In the first half we had three midfielders on the other side of the ball so Xherdan Shaqiri had to pass backwards. We wanted Divock Origi more in the centre. We played a double 10 then with Thiago [Alcantara] and Shaqiri."

Liverpool welcome Brighton and Hove Albion to Anfield on Wednesday before Pep Guardiola's City travel to Merseyside on Sunday.

Mohamed Salah conceded he felt the extra responsibility to score for Liverpool against West Ham after starting without Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in the front three.

With Mane ruled out because of a minor injury and Roberto Firmino starting on the bench, there was extra onus on Liverpool's talisman to deliver the goods.

He did so in style, his second-half double putting Liverpool on course for a 3-1 win over the Hammers, moving the defending Premier League champions within four points of leaders Manchester City after playing a game more.

After curling home a 57th-minute opener, Salah then rounded off a sparkling counter-attack following wondrous passes from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Xherdan Shaqiri.

In doing so he became the first player to score 20+ goals in all competitions in four consecutive seasons for Liverpool since Ian Rush did so six times running from 1981-82 to 1986-87.

Salah has now been involved in 29 goals in his 21 Premier League starts without Mane, with his sparkling second goal his first from a fast break this season.

Reflecting the added pressure he felt, Salah's total shots (seven) were his most in the league since Liverpool's 4-3 opening win over Leeds United in September, while his four shots on target represented a season-high for the Egypt forward.

Asked about that weight of expectation, Salah told Sky Sports: "Before the game, I knew they were not going to start, I knew there was extra responsibility on me but not just now but every game, I try to help the team.

"Of course today they both didn't play, it was a big responsibility but I play without them before and we win also."

Since Salah's arrival in June 2017, Liverpool's win percentage in all competitions in games where Mane and Firmino have both started is 67 compared to 58 in games where at least one of that duo is not in the XI, though their goals per game tally (2.2) is equal.

Depending on the severity of Mane's injury, Liverpool may have to cope without him again next Sunday when they host City at Anfield in a huge clash, which comes four days after the visit of Brighton and Hove Albion.

On if it will need relentless wins to beat City and Manchester United to the title, Salah said: "If you want to win the league you have to win every game, but this year City were struggling in beginning.

"Then it was us struggling three or four games ago - you just need to keep winning if you want to win the Premier League."

Liverpool fuelled further hope they can revive their Premier League title defence as Mohamed Salah's fine second-half brace earned a 3-1 win at West Ham.

Jurgen Klopp's men ended a five-match winless run in the league by beating Tottenham 3-1 on Thursday.

And they produced another indication of a resurgence despite the absence of Sadio Mane because of a minor injury, Salah's double and Georginio Wijnaldum's late effort moving third-placed Liverpool within four points of leaders Manchester City.

City have a game in hand, but a five-point advantage over fifth-placed West Ham, who got a consolation through Craig Dawson, will at least quell talk of the Reds missing out on the Champions League.

Each side managed just one shot on target in the first half, with Divock Origi particularly profligate as he wasted presentable chances either side of half-time.

Michail Antonio bent a 56th-minute effort wide of the right-hand post, and his failure to find the necessary accuracy was duly punished by Salah.

Curtis Jones replaced James Milner and, within 34 seconds of coming on, he teed up the opener when Salah curled his lay-off into the top-left corner from just inside the area.

Salah's second owed more to outstanding counter-attacking football than to his individual brilliance as Liverpool pounced after clearing a West Ham corner.

Trent Alexander-Arnold played a stunning cross-field pass to Xherdan Shaqiri, whose last touch before being substituted was a perfect left-wing cross that Salah deftly controlled and flicked beyond Lukasz Fabianski.

The gloss to a superb second-half performance was added in wonderful fashion as substitutes Roberto Firmino and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain combined neatly, the former teeing up Wijnaldum to tap in a third.

Yet there was a late blemish as Dawson scuffed home a close-range finish from a corner, though it came far too late to prevent their six-match winning run in all competitions from coming to an end.

Bayer Leverkusen have confirmed the signing of winger Demarai Gray from Premier League side Leicester City.

Gray joined Leicester from Birmingham City midway through 2015-16 and went on to help the Foxes to a sensational title triumph that season.

He went on to feature 133 times in the top flight, scoring 10 goals and providing nine assists, but never really established himself as a first-team regular under Brendan Rodgers.

With his contract at Leicester having been set to expire at the end of 2020-21, Gray – who was linked with a number of Premier League clubs – has made the move to Germany.

The 24-year-old made just one league appearance this term, totalling 18 minutes, and joins a Leverkusen side who sit fourth in the Bundesliga.

Leverkusen had looked ready to mount a title challenge this season, but a run of just one win in seven games has seen them drop off the pace.

Gray has only committed to Leverkusen until June 2022 but is confident he will flourish in the Bundesliga – a league in which English talents have fared well in recent years.

Jadon Sancho has become a star at Borussia Dortmund, where Jude Bellingham, another former Birmingham youngster, is also impressing, while Reiss Nelson and Ademola Lookman have shone in loan spells at Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig respectively. Lookman struggled after a permanent move, however.

"I saw Bayer playing attacking football, going forward aggressively and dictating the game with possession," Gray said.

"I'll fit in well. I can and would like to develop myself further here and be successful with this attractive team."

WHERE WILL HE FIT IN?

While Gray has had little chance to show his quality this season, he will bring an extra option to a vibrant, youthful Leverkusen attack and could be vying for a place with Leon Bailey.

After struggling for consistency last season, Bailey has enjoyed something of a resurgence this term, scoring four goals and creating five more in 18 Bundesliga games.

Bailey's 26 chances created rank fourth in Leverkusen's squad, with 17-year-old sensation Florian Wirtz (31), Moussa Diaby and Nadiem Amiri (both 27) ahead of him.

Gray may also find himself going up against former Paris Saint-Germain forward Diaby for a starting berth.

The 21-year-old has created a team-high seven big chances for Leverkusen in the Bundesliga, however, with his rapid pace a major outlet for Peter Bosz's side.

Gray is Leverkusen's third signing of the January window, following defenders Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Jeremie Frimpong, signed from Manchester United and Celtic respectively.

Thomas Tuchel may be less than a week into his role as Chelsea head coach but some clear patterns are emerging from his first two games in charge - particularly in defence.

Tuchel is the first Chelsea boss to keep a clean sheet in each of his first two Premier League games in charge since Rafael Benitez in November 2012 following a 2-0 win over Burnley on Sunday.

Having conceded 77 goals in 57 Premier League games under predecessor Frank Lampard, this represents a much-needed tightening of the rearguard at the start of Tuchel's reign.

In fact, Burnley's first attempt did not arrive until the 94th minute – their longest ever wait for their first shot in a Premier League game.

It was a similar story in Tuchel's first game when his side stifled Wolves in a 0-0 draw in midweek as their opponents failed to register a single shot on target.

Tuchel's players kept both Burnley and Wolves at arm's length by monopolising possession, boasting 71.1 per cent and 78.9 per cent respectively.

They surely face a greater challenge away from Stamford Bridge against Tottenham on Thursday, but Tuchel is content with how quickly his players appear to have taken on board his ideas.

"The performance itself, for me, was very complete, both defensively and offensively," Tuchel told a post-match media conference.

"We had to be very, very strong physically against many powerful players and with many duels in the air. We had to fight for the second ball, and you have to be very aware for all the second balls that fly back again in your back.

"But we did the work, with the three centre-backs and two sixes absolutely outstanding. The two guys on the sides did a lot of effort to support, and the front three supported the defensive work too.

"We managed to concede only one shot, which was absolutely amazing. And importantly, we never lost patience; we controlled the game, created a lot of chances and were very good in the counter-pressing.

"It is the quality of the players, the structure that we gave them and, from there, they did very well. They have the confidence to keep the ball and the intensity that we put in when we lose it.

"We have intensive runs as well. Ball possession alone means nothing but if we have the ability to control the games then why not use it?"

Arsenal defender William Saliba admits he was "hurt" after not being given first-team opportunities following his move from Saint-Etienne. 

The 19-year-old arrived at the Emirates Stadium in July 2019 for a reported £27million (€29.7m) fee and was loaned back to Saint-Etienne for the 2019-20 campaign.

He returned to the Gunners ahead of this season and was expected to become part of manager Mikel Arteta's plans after a possible second loan back to Saint-Etienne failed to materialise in October.

However, the France youth international did not make a senior appearance for the Premier League club and was loaned to Nice earlier this month.

Saliba made his fifth appearance for the Ligue 1 outfit in Sunday's 1-0 defeat to his former club Saint-Etienne. 

Despite the result he had an impact at the heart of the backline, making more successful passes (58) and clearances (five) than any other Nice player.

He also gained possession seven times, the joint second-highest of any player on the pitch.

Saliba has opened up on his frustration with life at Arsenal and feels strongly he should have been given a chance to impress in the first team.

"I really, really, really didn't think that I would be transferred for almost €30m," he told TF1.

"To think that I would arrive, where people were expecting a lot from me, the fans were excited about me and you find yourself in the reserves, playing zero – nothing in the Europa League or the Premier League.

"I was in the squad once in the EFL Cup. It hurt me, it affected me. I don't think I left too early. When you feel ready you have to go. These things happen. I believe in myself."

While Saliba is enjoying playing first-team football again at Nice, he insists he is not thinking about where he will be next season.

"I have learned now that it is better not to look too far in the future," he added. "I am focused on just these six months to try to give absolutely everything and for the rest we will see.

"For me, the best decision was to join Nice because there is a good project, a good team, a good level of ambition and they like to play in a certain way.

"It feels good to play and to have consistent game time. I am young, I am 19, and it is by playing matches like this that you improve.

"You see what mistakes you make and you correct them for the next match."

Timo Werner is not lacking in confidence despite his Chelsea goal drought, according to head coach Thomas Tuchel.

Werner arrived at Stamford Bridge with a reputation as a prolific goalscorer following his move from Bundesliga side RB Leipzig

But the Germany international has scored just four times in 20 Premier League appearances, with his blank in Sunday's 2-0 win over Burnley stretching his barren run to 12 top-flight games.

The 24-year-old managed three shots on target against the Clarets – more than any other player – and had more touches inside the opposition penalty area (nine) than anyone else.

Despite another scoreless outing, Tuchel has no doubts over Werner's self-belief.

"He is totally into it, he gives everything," Tuchel explained.

"You can see, like every striker in the world, these guys are sensitive and nothing helps better than goals.

"If they miss the goals for a certain time then it isn't the same for them, it is not special to Timo, it happens with every striker in the world.

"He was confident to play but that is something you cannot demand, you either have it or you don't. But it is no problem, maybe he just needs to find an easy goal to bring out the last per cent."

Tuchel acknowledged Chelsea might have to adapt their system to the best out of Werner.

"We need to improve to bring him into situations to be decisive for us," added Tuchel.

"As long as he has the impact, works like he worked today, we will support him. We missed some chances to use him in counter-attacks which is his big strength, he has pure speed."

Goals from Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso secured the points for Chelsea but the standout performer for the Blues was Callum Hudson-Odoi.

The winger produced more crosses (six) than any other player in an attacking display full of swagger.

Tuchel said he already knew of the 20-year-old's quality before he took over from Frank Lampard and hopes Odoi can help spark Werner and his fellow strikers into life in front of goal.

"There were big rumours around him and Bayern Munich but he was in the focus way before I ever thought about being his manager," Tuchel added.

"He had another good game, if we can improve the precision of our guys in the box then maybe we can score more goals.

"He can have his input on the line, he has the ability to be decisive with his runs, his speed and at the moment we have opted for this structure."

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