Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has confirmed the Ligue 1 champions would like to sign England midfielder Jude Bellingham.

The 19-year-old Borussia Dortmund man has been one of the stars of this year's World Cup, with a host of European giants reported to be interested in signing him.

Bellingham scored England's first goal of the tournament in a 6-2 thrashing of Iran in the group stage, and produced another masterful midfield display in Sunday's last-16 win over Senegal.

The former Birmingham City man leads his team-mates for dribbles completed (six) and possessions won (23) in Qatar, while only Luke Shaw (72) has bettered his tally of 48 passes ending in the final third.  

His all-round ability has seen him touted as a contender to be named the young player of the tournament, and Al-Khelaifi admitted he would like to bring him to the Ligue 1 champions.

"Amazing player – what a player," Al-Khelaifi told Sky News. "England (are) lucky to have him, to be honest. He's one of the best players in the tournament. Amazing – his first World Cup. He's calm and relaxed, confident."

Asked whether PSG want to sign Bellingham, Al-Khelaifi said: "Everybody wants him, I'm not going to hide it. He's at his club, and respect, so if we want to talk to him, we'll talk to the club first."

Bellingham will next be in action on Saturday when England face France in a mouth-watering quarter-final clash. 

Arsenal and Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus has undergone successful knee surgery.

Jesus was ruled out for the remainder of the World Cup after sustaining an injury to his right knee during the Selecao's Group G clash with Cameroon.

Head coach Tite died reports that Jesus was already carrying an issue prior to featuring for the five-time world champions in Qatar.

According to unconfirmed reports in Brazil, Jesus will be absent for three months.

Premier League leaders Arsenal on Tuesday confirmed he has started his rehabilitation programme.

The 25-year-old has played a key role in the Gunners' impressive start to the Premier League season, which sees them five points clear at the summit after 14 games.

Jesus' tally of five goals is only bettered for Arsenal by Martin Odegaard (six), while only Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (nine) and team-mate Bukayo Saka (six) have registered more assists in the English top flight than his five.

Spain's bid to reach their first World Cup quarter-final since 2010 ended in frustration and failure on Tuesday as they missed all of their spot-kicks in a penalty-shoot out defeat to Morocco.

After 120 minutes of goalless domination, in which they racked up 1019 passes, Luis Enrique's side capitulated in the shoot-out with Pablo Sarabia, Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets all missing, the latter two efforts saved by goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.

It left Madrid-born Achraf Hakimi with the chance to win it which he did with a Panenka to send Morocco through to the last eight for the first time.

 

Hansi Flick has revealed his dismay at Oliver Bierhoff leaving his role as Germany team director, with the coach stunned by the decision.

Former Germany striker Bierhoff stepped aside on Monday, saying he had come "to an understanding on the matter with president Bernd Neuendorf" after the national team's group-stage World Cup exit.

Neuendorf, in charge of the German Football Association (DFB), may now face a battle to appease Flick, who is due to remain in post through to the Euro 2024 finals.

Germany will host that tournament, and Flick described it as having been a "common goal" of his work with Bierhoff.

Flick said Bierhoff, who many will see as a scapegoat for Germany's World Cup failure, would be difficult to replace, both on a personal and professional basis.

By Flick's reckoning, Bierhoff achieved great things during his 18 years with the DFB. He picked out overseeing the 2014 World Cup triumph as the peak of the achievements, but also noted the "professionalisation of the national team and its environment" and development of the DFB academy and campus.

"He pushed all of this forward with great personal commitment and against a great deal of resistance," Flick said. 

"At the moment, my coaching team and I are having a hard time imagining how the gap created by Oliver's departure can be closed, both professionally and personally.

"Our cooperation has always been characterised by loyalty, team spirit, trust and reliability. Cohesion was in the DNA of our team.

"Oliver was my first contact and friend within the team. Our common goal was the Euro 2024 project in Germany. For Oliver, the focus was always and exclusively on the well-being of the national team, the DFB and German football."

The nature of Flick's reaction, which was published on Tuesday by the DFB, has sparked speculation about the coach's own future. Reports have said Thomas Tuchel, Ralf Rangnick or Fredi Bobic could be possible successors.

Of Bierhoff, Flick said: "I would like to thank him personally and as the national coach for this long collaboration and the invaluable trust that has been placed in us. Trust is and remains the greatest asset in football.

"The last few days have not been easy, and I wish Oliver and his family the very best from the bottom of my heart. German football and the national team in particular owe him an incredible amount."

Cristiano Ronaldo has been left on the bench for Portugal's match against Switzerland in the last 16 of the World Cup.

Ronaldo's role in the Portugal team has been the subject of some debate in recent days following his substitution in the final group game against South Korea.

The free agent forward appeared to offer a dissenting comment towards coach Fernando Santos, who said on Monday: "I really didn't like it at all."

Santos added the issues had been "resolved", with the focus on facing Switzerland, but Ronaldo was not in his starting line-up when the team news was announced on Tuesday.

The all-time leading international goalscorer was replaced by Goncalo Ramos, with Pepe taking over the captain's armband.

Ronaldo is still waiting on his first knockout goal at a World Cup, having seen great rival Lionel Messi break his duck on Saturday.

The 37-year-old was released from his Manchester United contract earlier in the tournament and is yet to agree a deal with a new club, although a significant offer from Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia has been reported.

Zlatko Dalic says Brazil's "terrifying" attack makes them the best team at the World Cup but the Croatia coach is adamant his team do not fear the Selecao ahead of Friday's

Croatia, runners-up in 2018, beat Japan on penalties following a hard-fought 1-1 draw in Monday's last-16 tie, setting up a meeting with the favourites

Brazil raced to a statement 4-1 win over South Korea to cruise into the last eight, scoring all of their goals in the opening 36 minutes.

With Neymar returning from injury to take his place alongside Vinicius Junior, Richarlison and Raphinha in a star-studded frontline, Dalic knows Croatia face the sternest of challenges.

"Brazil is the favourite, let's face it," Dalic said on Tuesday. "Brazil is the most powerful and the best national team at the World Cup.

 "What I've seen so far, when you take a look at their selection of players, their quality, skills and value, then it is indeed terrifying.

"I think we have a great exam ahead of us, a tough task against the team which plays great soccer with so many good quality and fast players."

Croatia have reached at least the semi-finals at both previous World Cups when they advanced from their group (1998 and 2018), and Dalic says his side should not be written off.

"I think we have nothing to fear," Dalic said. "We need to enter the match with much faith, self-confidence and looking for our chances. Enjoy the occasion of playing Brazil, that's it. 

"[It's] too early, if only it were the final. It is a great team, but I believe that we can challenge them. We need to be smart. The match is not 50-50, but we are also not outsiders."

Samuel Eto'o has apologised for "reacting in a way that does not match my personality" during a "violent altercation" after Brazil's win over South Korea on Monday.

A video was widely circulated on social media on Tuesday of Eto'o, who won 118 caps for Cameroon during a decorated playing career, clashing with a man outside Stadium 974 before appearing to knee him in the face.

In a statement posted on his Twitter account, Eto'o – who is now president of the Cameroonian Football Federation – apologised for his involvement in the incident, which he blamed on the ongoing fallout from Cameroon's World Cup play-off win over Algeria in March.

The Algerian Football Federation called for a replay of the second leg after what they described as "scandalous" refereeing decisions.

Cameroon reached Qatar 2022 courtesy of Karl Toko Ekambi's 124th-minute winner, and former Barcelona and Inter striker Eto'o believes Monday's incident was the latest in a line of "relentless provocation and daily harassment" by Algeria supporters.

"On December 5, after the Brazil-South Korea match, I had a violent altercation with a person who was probably an Algerian supporter," the statement read.

"I would like to apologise for losing my temper and reacting in a way that does not match my personality. I apologise to the public for this unfortunate incident.

"I pledge to continue to resist the relentless provocation and daily harassment of some Algerian supporters.

"Indeed, since the Cameroon-Algeria match on 29 March in Blida, I have been the target of insults and allegations of cheating without any evidence.

"During this World Cup, Cameroonian fans have been harassed and pestered by Algerians on the same subject. I would like to mention that the scenario of Algeria's defeat was cruel but perfectly in line with the rules and ethics of our sport.

"All the appeals made by the Algerian Football Federation to the competent jurisdictions have been rejected.

"I therefore call on Algerian authorities and Federation to take their responsibilities to put an end to this unhealthy climate before a more serious tragedy occurs.

"To Fennecs' fans, I wish that they find peace and manage to overcome the disappointment of a painful defeat, now behind us."

Samuel Eto'o has apologised for "reacting in a way that does not match my personality" during a "violent altercation" after Brazil's win over South Korea on Monday.

A video was widely circulated on social media on Tuesday of Eto'o, who won 118 caps for Cameroon during a decorated playing career, clashing with a man outside Stadium 974 before appearing to knee him in the face.

In a statement posted on his Twitter account, Eto'o – who is now president of the Cameroonian Football Federation – apologised for his involvement in the incident, which he blamed on the ongoing fallout from Cameroon's World Cup play-off win over Algeria in March.

The Algerian Football Federation called for a replay of the second leg after what they described as "scandalous" refereeing decisions.

Cameroon reached Qatar 2022 courtesy of Karl Toko Ekambi's 124th-minute winner, and former Barcelona and Inter striker Eto'o believes Monday's incident was the latest in a line of "relentless provocation and daily harassment" by Algeria supporters.

"On December 5, after the Brazil-South Korea match, I had a violent altercation with a person who was probably an Algerian supporter," the statement read.

"I would like to apologise for losing my temper and reacting in a way that does not match my personality. I apologise to the public for this unfortunate incident.

"I pledge to continue to resist the relentless provocation and daily harassment of some Algerian supporters.

"Indeed, since the Cameroon-Algeria match on 29 March in Blida, I have been the target of insults and allegations of cheating without any evidence.

"During this World Cup, Cameroonian fans have been harassed and pestered by Algerians on the same subject. I would like to mention that the scenario of Algeria's defeat was cruel but perfectly in line with the rules and ethics of our sport.

"All the appeals made by the Algerian Football Federation to the competent jurisdictions have been rejected.

"I therefore call on Algerian authorities and Federation to take their responsibilities to put an end to this unhealthy climate before a more serious tragedy occurs.

"To Fennecs' fans, I wish that they find peace and manage to overcome the disappointment of a painful defeat, now behind us."

Kylian Mbappe was absent from France's training session four days before the holders face England in a World Cup quarter-final.

The leading scorer in the tournament, with five goals from four appearances, was in the recovery room on Tuesday when his team-mates trained at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium.

Mbappe had been troubled by an ankle injury before the tournament started in Qatar.

The Paris-Saint Germain man has shown no signs of being hampered, lighting up the tournament and putting himself in pole position to claim the Golden Boot.

He scored two superb goals in a 3-1 round-of-16 win over Poland on Sunday, having also helped himself to a decisive double in a victory over Denmark and found the back of the net in an opening win over Australia.

Mbappe has also provided two assists for the defending champions.

Al Bayt Stadium will be the venue for a huge last-eight showdown between Les Bleus and Gareth Southgate's side, who beat Senegal 3-0 to move into the quarter-finals.

Oliver Giroud hopes his "natural and spontaneous" relationship with Kylian Mbappe will transmit "enthusiasm" throughout the France side ahead of their World Cup quarter-final showdown with England.

Mbappe is the leading scorer at this year's finals with five goals, including a brace in Les Bleus' last-16 victory over Poland, while he has also assisted two of Giroud's three strikes in Qatar.

That included a precise throughball for the Milan forward to net his record-breaking 52nd international goal against the Poles, moving him ahead of Thierry Henry on France's all-time scoring list.

"My relationship with Mbappe is very good and, for me, it always has been," the 36-year-old said.

"It's natural and spontaneous. High-level sport brings magical moments to life and it is this enthusiasm that we want to convey in this team."

 

Reigning champions France are now just three victories away from becoming the third nation to successfully defend their World Cup crown, and first since Brazil in 1962.

Giroud says Didier Deschamps' side believe they can achieve the feat, but he is wary of the challenge to be posed by the Three Lions, who have scored 12 goals in their four matches so far.

"We are confident, but there are still three games to win," he added. "We know it would be huge for history to do it, but we're just focused on the game against England.

"The profiles of the players on the wide areas are those who are fast, tackle and take up spaces. They are also dangerous on set-pieces, with size.

"There are amazing players in all areas of the game. We will have to be vigilant in defence, but so will they."

Louis van Gaal has called on the Netherlands to replicate their 2014 World Cup semi-final performance to contain Lionel Messi in Friday's quarter-final clash with Argentina.

Van Gaal's side reached the last eight with a 3-1 win over the United States on Saturday, while Argentina joined them by beating Australia 2-1 as Messi scored his first World Cup knockout goal.

Friday's match will represent the sixth World Cup meeting between the two teams. Only two fixtures have been played more often at the tournament – Brazil versus Sweden and Argentina versus Germany (both seven).

Argentina triumphed on penalties after the last such fixture finished goalless in 2014's semi-finals, when Van Gaal was in the second of his three spells with the Oranje, and he says they must replicate their defensive work from that game to keep Messi quiet. 

"Of course, Messi is the most important player for them, the most creative. Those are always the most important players," he told De Telegraaf.

"Eight years ago at the World Cup in Brazil, we succeeded well in neutralising Messi. He didn't hit a ball then. 

"We thought we were the better team, but we eventually lost on penalties. I can't back it up with facts any more, but that's my memory. 

"I substituted to win the game in regular time. Unfortunately, that did not work out. In retrospect, it may have been a stupid decision."

 

Excluding shoot-outs, Van Gaal is unbeaten in his 11 World Cup matches as a coach (W8 D3). If the Netherlands avoid defeat against Argentina, he will equal ex-Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari's record of 12 games without defeat from the start of a World Cup managerial career.

Despite criticism of the Netherlands' style, Van Gaal believes they have grown into the tournament after several players overcame fitness issues.

"I believe in the team over the individual player," he added. "It is not the case that we have already achieved top form as a team. We can be much better, that's what I've always said. 

"There is an upward trend. You should also not forget how we arrived with these 26 players. There were players who were not match fit. We had to build them up and so on.

"Much of that is now behind us. Memphis [Depay] can now play 90 minutes, for example. More were sick, weak, or nauseous. That is getting better. 

"With our tactical plan we can surprise the opponent. That has been proven several times. These guys haven't lost under my leadership."

No team has appeared in more World Cup finals without winning than the Netherlands (three), and while Van Gaal believes they have the ability to lift the trophy, he acknowledges they are not favourites.

"I said that we can become world champions with this squad," Van Gaal said. "I didn't say we're going to be world champions, but we can be.

"If we don't become world champions in the end, because there can only be one, I don't think you can say we failed."

Gavi will be the youngest player since Pele to start in a World Cup knockout game when he takes to the field for Spain against Morocco.

Luis Enrique's team go head to head with Morocco at Education City in a last-16 tie on Tuesday.

Barcelona midfielder Gavi started all three of Spain's Group E matches and that trend continued as he was named in Luis Enrique's starting XI.

At the age of 18 years and 123 days, he will be the youngest player to feature from the start of a World Cup knockout match since Brazil great Pele (aged 17 years and 249 days) in the 1958 final.

Pele scored twice in that match as Brazil beat Sweden 5-2 to win the first of five world titles.

Takehiro Tomiyasu described his own performance as a "disaster" as Japan were knocked out of the World Cup by Croatia on Monday.

Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma and Maya Yoshida all missed their spot-kicks in a shoot-out following a 1-1 draw at Al Janoub Stadium, with Croatia advancing to a quarter-final against Brazil.

It meant Japan have been eliminated from all four of their round-of-16 appearances at the World Cup, while they have lost both of their penalty shoot-outs in the competition (also versus Paraguay in 2010).

Tomiyasu registered the worst pass completion rate of any outfield player to play the full 120 minutes (67.7 per cent), while he lost possession a game-high 27 times.

The Arsenal defender, who also failed to make a single tackle or interception, was disappointed with his display and said Japan need to be "much, much better" in future.

"Of course, we are so disappointed with the result," he said.

"My performance was a disaster so I am sorry for the team. I just need to be much, much better to help the team.

"It was not enough and also for the team, we did not deserve to win. We were so close to achieving our aim. They were better than us.

"I can't be proud. I am not satisfied about what happened. This is football and we need to be much, much better to win against a stronger team."

Tomiyasu will return to club duty with Arsenal now and will hope to feature in the Premier League leaders' first match after the World Cup against West Ham on December 26. 

Gareth Southgate has pushed the England squad ahead of their World Cup quarter-final against France, challenging his side to create history in Qatar.

The Three Lions progressed past Senegal in the first knockout round to clinch a tie against the defending champions, presenting England's biggest test so far at the tournament.

Defeat against Didier Deschamps' side would mark England's earliest exit from a major tournament under Southgate, who led the side to the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russia and finished as runners-up to Italy at Euro 2020.

While those improvements are significant, England have fallen at a crucial hurdle against tough opponents in each of those tournaments – losing 2-1 to Croatia in 2018 before a heartbreaking penalty shoot-out defeat at Wembley last year.

Southgate has used that record to issue a challenge to his squad, identifying that winning fixtures away from home against top opposition is something yet to be achieved.

"We've made quite a bit of history over the last four or five years, not all of it good, but that's the great challenge," he said.

"When you go back through the tournaments, you do see the teams that have knocked England out. We haven't been able to do that [win an away knockout against elite opposition] so that's the next test for this team.

"We have a lot of experience of these moments and they know that they've had to win games in different ways; they've had to come from behind in big matches.

"What we talked about against Senegal was keeping the relentless pressure going, not sitting back when we were ahead, making sure that we kept the intensity of our game. We've got to do that now against the world champions."

England's success under Southgate is a far cry from his predecessors, where disappointing exits from tournaments were par from the course, which led Southgate to identify the difficulties faced on the international stage – and highlighted bringing in young players early was crucial.

"There have been lots of moments when to play with England is difficult. It's a different sort of challenge to your club. It's far more scrutiny," he explained.

"So you have to be able to handle that. When we're selecting players, we're looking at their ability to handle that mentally as much as anything else.

"The young lads that have come in are showing that. But you never know until they are in these moments how that's going to be.

"We had a lot of caps on the pitch against Senegal, even the younger ones, because we've blooded them early."

Bukayo Saka revealed his gratitude for the regular support he receives from Arsenal "legends" Thierry Henry and Robert Pires.

The England winger has netted three goals in three games at the 2022 World Cup and is set to line up against France in a mouthwatering quarter-final on Saturday.

Henry and Pires lifted the trophy with Les Bleus 24 years ago, before going on to win two Premier League titles with Arsenal in 2002 and 2004 – forming part of the 'Invincibles' side that went through the entire campaign unbeaten in the latter.

Academy graduate Saka, who has been with the club since the age of seven, is benefitting from their wise words and guidance.

"We have so many French players, like Thierry and Robert Pires, that have been around the club and spoken to me and helped me," he said. "They still both support me to this day, so I'm grateful to them.

"Of course, on the pitch, they were magnificent, and they delivered silverware for Arsenal, so they'll definitely be legends – always."

Henry made contact with Saka following his missed penalty in England's Euro 2020 final defeat by Italy, a gesture that was greatly received by the 21-year-old.

"It showed a lot of character from him to get my number and reach out to me," he added. "After most Arsenal games, he reaches out to me. He's still so passionate about the club; he's an amazing person."

But despite his lengthy association with Arsenal, Saka is yet to speak with another key Frenchman in the Gunners' recent history, legendary former boss Arsene Wenger.

"One of my biggest regrets – things I haven't been able to do – was to meet Arsene Wenger," he revealed. "I know how much everyone at the club loves him, and I know what he did for the club."

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