When we look ahead to the Olympics, we usually think about track & field sports, swimming, cycling, maybe even wrestling and boxing.

Given it dominates so much of the sporting agenda for the rest of the year, football may not be among those sports we initially associate with the Olympics, but it has offered numerous stars the opportunity to show their talents to a global audience and to potentially take home a coveted medal.

Of course, the Olympic football tournament is geared more towards lesser-established players, given the age-restriction rules in place.

While teams are usually allowed no more than three players over the age of 23, that age limit has been increased to 24 so not to penalise those around the cut-off who may well have missed out as a result of the 12-month delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Superstars such as Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi may be missing, but there are still plenty of familiar faces. Barcelona's Pedri will be involved after starring for Spain at Euro 2020; Brazil great Dani Alves is joined by Arsenal and Everton forwards Gabriel Martinelli and Richarlison; and dynamic Milan midfielder Franck Kessie will be the Ivory Coast's go-to man.

But there are plenty of other relatively unheralded talents ready to make you sit up and take note. Below, Stats Perform takes a look at 10 of them.

Facundo Medina, 22, centre-back – Argentina

It's fair to say Lens defender Medina has enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence. The French side brought him in from Club Atletico Talleres just last July and he's already being mentioned as a potential target for clubs like Manchester United.

While he may not be the most physically imposing central defender, he's a good technician, which is demonstrated by his ease on the ball – only three Ligue 1 centre-backs (more than 1,000 minutes played) embarked on more ball carries per 90 minutes (20) than Medina, while his average of 56 successful passes per game was more than any of his team-mates.

Bryan Gil, 20, winger – Spain

La Roja's squad is packed with familiar names – as many as six were at Euro 2020, and that doesn't include the likes of Marco Asensio, Carlos Soler and Dani Ceballos. But of the players with less global recognition, old-fashioned left-winger Bryan is arguably the most exciting.

He just completed a very encouraging loan spell away from Sevilla with Eibar, where his direct and brave style of play was frequently on display, with only Lionel Messi, Javi Galan and Yannick Carrasco attempting more dribbles than him (132). In January he became only the second player born this century to score a LaLiga brace, and he won his first senior Spain caps this year.

 

Diego Lainez, 21, winger – Mexico

It feels like Lainez has been tipped for a big future for a long time now – after all, he first burst on to the scene with Club America four years ago. Two-and-a-half years into his time in LaLiga with Real Betis, he's yet to really establish himself with only 13 of his 48 league appearances coming as a starter. He's still not scored a goal.

But there's no doubting he's a talent. In 2020-21, he attempted a dribble every 17 minutes, which was a record among Betis players and ahead of even Nabil Fekir (21 mins). Lainez is an entertainer and clearly gifted, but perhaps lacking consistency in his end product. Who knows, as one of the more talented players in the Mexico squad, being seen as a go-to player may aid his quest for maturity.

Teji Savanier, 29, central midfielder – France

Savanier is the odd one out in this list, given he's the only one who actually counts towards an over-age quota, though it could be argued that it's to players like him that playing at the Olympics may matter the most. Savanier's never even played for France's youth teams, let alone the senior side, and he only made his top-flight bow as recently as 2018, but he's one of those central midfielders that's a joy to watch with his wonderful ability on the ball.

He has completed 58.4 per cent of his 279 dribbles in Ligue 1 since July 2018, which is bettered by only three players (more than 150 attempts) in the same period. For greater context, Neymar's completion rate in that time is 52.5 per cent. Savanier should also provide France with a threat at set-pieces, as only Benjamin Bourigeaud created more chances (40) from such situations than the Montpellier star (37) in 2020-21.

 

Thiago Almada, 20, attacking midfielder – Argentina

La Albiceleste's squad boasts numerous talented young attacking players – Ezequiel Barco, Pedro de la Vega, Ezequiel Ponce, but Almada's arguably rated highest of the lot.

A diminutive attacking midfielder from Carlos Tevez's old neighbourhood in Buenos Aires, Fuerte Apache, Almada is skilful, explosive and creative. Among players born this century, Almada boasts the best chances created per game frequency (two) in the Copa Libertadores (at least two games played) this season, as well as being the youngest player to have netted at least twice in the competition in 2021.

Claudinho, 24, forward – Brazil

All roads point to Europe for Claudinho, who looks poised to be the first major export of Red Bull Bragantino, the energy drink giant's Brazilian club. While no move has been confirmed yet, it seems only a matter of time before RB Leipzig look to bring him over to Germany.

 

After all, he was the joint-top scorer in the 2020 Brasileirao (18 goals), with his finishing abilities highlighted by the fact a league-high seven of those were scored from outside the box. Claudinho also created 25 more chances than anyone else in the division, and scooped both the Young Player of the Year and MVP awards.

 

Nathanael Mbuku, 19, winger – France

He may not necessarily be a starter for Les Bleus, given they've plenty of attacking talent in the squad, but at the very least left-winger Mbuku could be an interesting option from the bench. Reims are reported to already value him at €15million, and he has previous when it comes to excelling in national team colours – he netted five goals in six games as France finished third at the 2019 Under-17 World Cup.

Mbuku enjoyed a smattering of Ligue 1 appearances that season, though it was in 2020-21 that he truly established himself, making 28 starts – that was tied with Eduardo Camavinga for the most by a player born in 2002 or after. He caught the eye with his ability to beat a man, completing a highly respectable 58.1 per cent of his 74 dribbles last term, a completion rate bettered by only 10 players who attempted at least 70.

Felix Uduokhai, 23, centre-back – Germany

Wolfsburg plucked Uduokhai from 1860 Munich in 2017 with much expected of him. He fell well out of favour in his second season before moving on loan to Augsburg, who triggered their purchase option on him last year. Since moving to Bavaria, he's hardly looked back.

He earned his first senior call-up to the Germany team in November and now there is chatter that some of the Bundesliga's biggest clubs are circling for him again. Whoever gets Uduokhai will land an imposing centre-back whose 102 aerial wins was the fourth-highest in the league last term, while only Amos Pieper (160) bettered his 157 clearances.

 

Brenno, 22, goalkeeper – Brazil

For years, goalkeeper was considered the only position where Brazil struggled to develop world-class players, though Alisson and Ederson have firmly disproved that notion and Brenno could be another to keep an eye on.

In the 2021 Brasileirao, Brenno is averaging the fourth-most amount of saves per 90 minutes (3.5) among those to have played at least four times, and is reportedly interesting Portuguese clubs. A solid showing in Japan might see a potential transfer sped up.

Amad Diallo, 19, winger – Ivory Coast

Manchester United fans will be eager to get a good look at Amad during the Olympics, given they only got glimpses of him in 2020-21 after joining from Atalanta. Amid those eight appearances, he certainly showed flashes of his exciting ability and silky footwork, but they will hope to see some performances of a little more substance.

As much as anything, it could be an opportunity for Amad to earn himself a loan move or prove to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer he's worth keeping around. Jadon Sancho's arrival will likely further impact his exposure to first-team football, but impressing in Japan might encourage his manager to use him as a regular back up to the England international, with Mason Greenwood moved into a central position.

Paul Pogba's future at Manchester United has been uncertain for the past 12 months.

But the Red Devils are understood to be eager to hang on to the France international.

Pogba is entering into the final 12 months of his contract with United.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED TO OFFER POGBA SENSATIONAL DEAL

Manchester United are readying a sensational new contract offer to make Paul Pogba the highest-paid Premier League player, reports The Sun.

Pogba has been linked with a move away from United in recent times, with Juventus rumoured to be interested.

The Red Devils are poised to ward off that interest with a new 104million deal, offering him wages of 400,000 a week for the next five years.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims that new Roma head coach Jose Mourinho wants to bring Sergio Ramos to the club after exiting Real Madrid.

- Paris Saint-Germain have reached out to Real Madrid to discuss a move for Raphael Varane , who has been linked with Manchester United, reports Foot Mercato.

- Barcelona are keen on German full-back Robin Gosens , with the Catalans making contact with his Italian club Atalanta according to Sport1.

- Talksport claims that Borussia Dortmund will stand by their £77 million (€58m) valuation of Jadon Sancho, as Manchester United circle for the English winger.

- Arsenal have made contact with Eintracht Frankfurt to discuss a deal for striker Andre Silva , with a fee of around £34m (€25.5m) according to Express.

- Arsenal are also leading the race to sign Real Betis' Argentina international Guido Rodriguez reports Marca.

Achraf Hakimi is a player in demand following his first season with Inter.

Hakimi helped Inter to Serie A glory for the first time in 10 years, but his future could be away from San Siro.

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly determined to beat Chelsea and Bayern Munich to the full-back.

 

TOP STORY – PSG CHASING HAKIMI

Paris Saint-Germain remain interested in signing Inter star Achraf Hakimi, according to Gianluca Di Marzio.

PSG had a €60million (£51m) bid turned down by Serie A champions Inter, who are facing financial problems due to the coronavirus pandemic amid speculation over stars Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez, Alessandro Bastoni and Hakimi.

Ligue 1 giants PSG are still keen on Hakimi as Champions League winners Chelsea hold talks with the Morocco international's agent, while Bayern Munich have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

Bernardo Silva wants to leave Premier League champions Manchester City, reports Duncan Castles. The Portugal international has already been linked with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona after finding himself out of favour under Pep Guardiola.

- Fabrizio Romano claims Gianluigi Buffon is close to re-joining Parma. Buffon will leave Juventus in the off-season and the Italy great is reportedly on track to return to Parma, where the 43-year-old emerged from the youth team in 1995 before eventually moving to Turin in 2001. Parma were relegated from Serie A in 2020-21.

Arsenal have turned their attention to Real Betis attacker Nabil Fekir but Diario AS says the Gunners and LaLiga side remain apart in his transfer valuation.

- Calciomercato claims there are still concerns over Paulo Dybala's future at Juventus. Dybala is out of contract in 2022 and no closer to renewing after struggling for game time. The possible departure of Cristiano Ronaldo – who has been linked with PSG and Manchester United – could solidify Dybala's position in Turin.

Leicester City are the latest team to join the race for Salzburg's Patson Daka, according to the Mirror. Liverpool, Chelsea and RB Leipzig have also been linked.

- The Mirror reports Everton and Leeds United are considering moves for veteran Real Madrid star Marcelo.

Barcelona have exercised their option to bring Emerson back to the club following two seasons at Real Betis.

Emerson was party to a three-way deal in January 2019, which saw Betis and Barca each pay half of the €12million fee that was sent to Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro.

At the time it was reported that right-back Emerson would stay with Betis for two-and-a-half years with the view to aiding his adaptation to Spanish football.

It was also claimed upon the completion of the complicated deal that Barca would have to reimburse Betis their initial outlay of €6m plus an additional amount in relation to his value at the time, while the Verdiblancos will be owed a percentage of any future sale.

Barca are said to be paying Betis €9m for the right to finally bring Emerson to Camp Nou, though the deal seemingly represents something of a coup given his performances in LaLiga.

Emerson – who is in the Brazil squad for this month's World Cup qualifiers ahead of the Copa America – has proved to be both a dependable defender and a capable attacking outlet.

His 10 assists over the past two seasons is bettered by only one LaLiga defender (Jesus Navas, 13), while his 62 key passes is the fifth-highest among full-backs.

He has played 170 open-play crosses in that time, a haul bettered by only 10 other right-backs and left-backs, highlighting how he can be expected to offer significant support in attack on the flank.

His forward-thinking nature has not impacted negatively only his defensive output.

Emerson's 853 duels over the past two years is nearly 200 more than any other defender, while his 492 duel wins is also a LaLiga high for players in the backline.

It is a similar story for tackle attempts (165) and tackles won (98), while he also has an impressive tally of 92 interceptions.

This paints a picture of an all-action defender who will work tirelessly up and down the right flank, potentially making him effective competition for Sergino Dest.

Emerson is Barca's third new signing following the acquisitions of Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia from Manchester City.

Georginio Wijnaldum is expected to join the influx, with his Liverpool contract set to expire.

Europe's top five leagues all conclude this week and there are still plenty of matters to be resolved – not least who will be crowned champions in Spain and France.

Every division has something riding on the final days of the season, whether it be top spot, European qualification, or relegation.

Ahead of what is set to be a dramatic conclusion to the Premier League, LaLiga, Ligue 1, Serie A and the Bundesliga campaigns, we look at the state of play in each league.

 

PREMIER LEAGUE

Manchester City wrapped up the Premier League title with three games to spare, making them the first team in the competition's history to win the title despite being as low as eighth on Christmas Day.

All three relegation places were also decided with three games remaining – a Premier League record – with Fulham joining Sheffield United and West Brom in dropping down a division.

That leaves just the European spots to fight for, and it is shaping up to be an entertaining end to the English top-flight season in that regard. Manchester United are guaranteed a top-four finish, but five other teams – Leicester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and West Ham – are in the mix for the two other Champions League berths with two rounds of games to go.

There is also the small matter of the Europa League places for the teams finishing in fifth and sixth, as well as a spot in the inaugural Europa Conference League, which goes to the team in seventh, meaning everyone from 10th-placed Leeds United to Leicester in third have something to play for. That includes Arsenal, who have not missed out on European football of some sort in 25 years.

LALIGA 

The Spanish title race appeared to take a dramatic twist on Sunday as Real Madrid leapfrogged Atletico Madrid at the summit for around 20 minutes. However, Atleti scored two late goals to beat Osasuna, meaning they are two points ahead of their city rivals heading into the final round of games.

Atleti, who have led the way at the top for 29 matchdays, now need to match Madrid's result against Villarreal when they travel to relegation-threatened Real Valladolid on the final day of the season. It is worth noting that Los Blancos have the superior head-to-head record, so a draw would not be enough for Atleti if Madrid win.

Barcelona are officially out of the title race, meanwhile, but they are assured of a top-four finish along with Sevilla. Real Sociedad and Real Betis occupy the Europa League spots, while Villarreal are in a Europa Conference League berth, though just one point separates the three teams so that could all yet change.

To complicate matters, Villarreal could still qualify for the Champions League by winning the Europa League final against Manchester United.

At the bottom end of the division, Eibar are already relegated and they will be joined by two of Valladolid, Elche or Huesca. Valladolid must beat Atletico in their final game to have a chance of staying up, while the onus is on Elche to better Huesca's result as they are level on points but have an inferior head-to-head record.

LIGUE 1

The Ligue 1 title battle is also going right down to the wire in a three-way dogfight. After a thrilling race that has lasted the course of the season, underdogs Lille lead heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain by one point with one matchday left.

Monaco have won seven of their previous eight games and are three points off leaders Lille, though they require both Les Dogues and PSG to slip up on the final day, as well as beating Lens. Should it come down to goal difference, PSG hold a big lead over their two title rivals.

Incredibly, PSG are still not yet technically assured of a Champions League place as Lyon in fourth are only three points worse off, although it would take a defeat for the reigning champions and victory for Lyon, plus a goal swing of 16, for them to miss out.

Monaco's opponents Lens, incidentally, also have plenty to play for at the weekend as they are sixth – enough for Europa Conference League qualification – but can still be caught by Rennes in seventh, while they could yet overtake Marseille in fifth if results go their way.

At the opposite end of the table, there may only be one spot left to be settled in the bottom three – Dijon and Nimes are both already down – but six teams are still very much in danger of the drop. Nantes occupy the relegation play-off spot, with Lorient, Brest and Strasbourg just a point better off, and Bordeaux and Reims only two points clear.

SERIE A

With Inter being crowned Scudetto winners for the first time in 11 years at the start of the month, the biggest storyline in Serie A regards Juventus' top-four fate. The dethroned champions, who had finished top nine years running before this season, are currently down in fifth.

Juve are one point behind Napoli and Milan in the two spots directly above them, while Atalanta are three points better off in second and have the better head-to-head record against the Bianconeri.

Andrea Pirlo's side are therefore in need of favours on the final day in what is poised to be a nail-biting finale in terms of those Champions League places. Lazio will finish sixth, so they are assured of Europa League football next term, while Roma hold a two-point advantage over Sassuolo in the Europa Conference League position.

Parma and Crotone are both down already and one of Benevento or Torino will join them, the latter currently three points outside of the relegation zone and with a game in hand to play on Benevento.

BUNDESLIGA

RB Leipzig provided Bayern Munich with some stern competition for a while, but the Bavarian giants' quality eventually told and they are Bundesliga champions for a ninth year running.

It's not only the title race that's done and dusted in Germany, in fact, as RB Leipzig are certain of second place, and both Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg will join them in the Champions League next season.

Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen, meanwhile, will finish in fifth and sixth respectively regardless of events later this week.

However, Union Berlin have work to do if they are to finish seventh for a place in the Europa Conference League play-offs as Borussia Monchengladbach are a point further back, while Stuttgart and Freiburg are two behind with a game to go.

Seven-time German champions Schalke will be competing in the second tier of German football next season, but Cologne and Werder Bremen are hanging on in there, sitting two and one point behind Arminia Bielefeld respectively in 15th place.

Zinedine Zidane portrayed a relaxed figure despite Real Madrid suffering something of a setback in their title challenge as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Real Betis.

Madrid were looking to go top of the table – at least until Sunday – with a victory at Valdebebas, but in the end they were arguably fortunate to leave with a point.

Betis had the best chances of the match, with Guido Rodriguez and Borja Iglesias spurning glorious opportunities in the second half.

While Madrid managed five shots on target, their cumulative expected goals value of 1.02 was only marginally more than Betis' 0.92.

It was an underwhelming showing ahead of their Champions League semi-final first leg against Chelsea on Tuesday, while they will finish the weekend five points off the top of LaLiga if Atletico beat Athletic Bilbao.

But Zidane stressed there was no need to panic, even if he was irritated by Madrid's issues in attack during Saturday's stalemate.

"We lose two points and we don't like it but there is still a lot of LaLiga to go, it doesn't end today," he said.

"The rest of the teams have to play and we'll see what happens. We now focus on Tuesday's game.

"Defensively we were very good, but offensively we lacked many things. We lacked something, we were not fine at the top end of the pitch.

"We are prepared for the next game, which is going to be the most difficult of the whole season."

One positive for Madrid was the return of Eden Hazard, who made only his second LaLiga appearance since the end of January.

The Belgium winger had been blighted by calf and thigh issues but looked lively in his cameo, suggesting he could play a role against his former club over the next couple of weeks.

"I was very happy to see Eden Hazard because it was important to have him with us again," Zidane said.

"We know the quality he has and I hope to be able to count on him until the end of the season."

Real Madrid suffered another setback in the title race as they were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Real Betis in LaLiga on Saturday.

Zinedine Zidane's men would have gone top – ahead of Atletico Madrid due to a better head-to-head record – at least until Sunday had they beaten Betis, but their inability to find a way past Claudio Bravo means they could end the weekend five points behind the leaders.

The contest did not truly come to life until the second half and Madrid could easily have found themselves trailing, with Guido Rodriguez and Borja Iglesias guilty of wasting great chances.

Opportunities of a similar quality were by no means a regular occurrence for Madrid, who will hoping Athletic Bilbao can do them a favour against Atletico on Sunday, with the four-way Spanish title race looking set for a thrilling conclusion.

Madrid got very little out of Betis in what was a largely cagey first half that saw only one shot on target.

That chance fell to Karim Benzema in the 25th minute, as the Frenchman had his effort turned around the post by Bravo.

Former Madrid youngster Sergio Canales went close at the other end soon after, narrowly missing the left-hand post with a 20-yard effort.

The hosts almost got lucky nine minutes into the second half as Rodrygo's cross hit the crossbar with Bravo seemingly beaten.

Though they should have found themselves trailing a few moments later.

Rodriguez did the hard part as he raced past Eder Militao and Raphael Varane, but upon penetrating the penalty area he hit a scuffed left-footed shot straight at the relieved Thibaut Courtois.

Iglesias then spurned an even better opportunity on the break, Courtois blocking the ball as the striker attempted to prod it past him after Canales' pinpoint cross.

Much like Rodriguez, Vinicius Junior failed to apply the decisive finish after a brilliant run of his own, following it up with a feeble effort that caused Bravo no worries.

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane has hit back at UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin's claim that next week's Champions League semi-final against Chelsea might not go ahead.

Ceferin said there was a chance Madrid could be denied the opportunity to continue their bid for a 14th European crown after their president Florentino Perez refused to renounce his plans for a breakaway Super League, despite eight of the 12 teams initially signed up swiftly withdrawing from the project.

Speaking to Slovenian station 24UR, Ceferin conceded there was only "a relatively small possibility that the match isn’t played" but this was enough to draw Zidane's ire.

"It's illogical," he said at a news conference to preview Saturday's LaLiga match against Real Betis.

"We are going to play the Champions League, we have the right and we are going to play it.

"It is an absurd matter. I am not going to go into that. I can only tell you that we are going to prepare to play the Champions League semi-final.

"We have a league game and then we have time for the semi-final. I am not worried.

"They said a lot of things about this matter but we are going to play our semi-final as [we have] the right to play."

Perez has been widely ridiculed after a pair of scattergun media appearances in defence of the Super League – a matter Zidane again sought to prevent his own opinions and Madrid future becoming intertwined with.

"I do not know what will happen in a month or two months. I want to finish the season well and then we will talk about the future and what is going to happen," he said.

"At the moment we are focused on the day to day and tomorrow's game.

"As always, we [Zidane and Perez] talk from time to time and that's it. He comes here to see the team, everyone.

"Nothing has changed. We know where the president is. He wants us to focus on tomorrow's game."

Zidane will welcome back injury-plagued forward Eden Hazard for Betis' visit to Madrid, while Luka Modric is also set to return having missed the 3-0 midweek win over Cadiz due to a back complaint.

Club captain Sergio Ramos and Ferland Mendy are out with calf problems but Zidane is hopeful each can play a part against Chelsea.

"I see [Ramos] well, emotionally very well," he said. "He has had problems but he is better.

"He is not with us yet but he has a few days left. I am happy, because we always want him with us. I see him well, little by little. Some workouts are missing. " 

On Mendy, Zidane added: "He will not be there tomorrow. For Ferland it is day to day. I hope he will be with us on Tuesday, but not tomorrow. It is not much [of a problem], it is a matter of days." 

Defending champions Madrid are three points shy of Atletico Madrid at the top of LaLiga with six matches remaining.

Jose Mourinho has been out of work less than 48 hours but speculation of his next job is already mounting.

The Portuguese has already declared he is "ready to go again", despite a sizeable pay-out from Tottenham.

Tottenham sacked Mourinho on Monday with Spurs sitting seventh in the Premier League.

 

TOP STORY – MOURINHO ENTERS CELTIC COACHING RACE

Mourinho is in the mix to be the new coach of Scottish powerhouse Celtic according to The Sun.

Former Bournemouth coach Eddie Howe is the favourite to be appointed Neil Lennon's replacement at Celtic Park.

But 'The Special One' is in contention, despite his hefty wage demands and line of suitors.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bayern Munich's David Alaba has agreed a five-year deal with Real Madrid with the contract to be signed in the coming weeks according to Sky Sports.

- Departing Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero has been offered a two-year contract by Barcelona according to TyC Sports.

- Football Insider reports Aston Villa may enter the race for Jesse Lingard who has enjoyed a super loan spell at West Ham United from Manchester United.

- Manchester United defender Eric Bailly is wanted by Spanish LaLiga club Real Betis claims The Sun.

- Julian Draxler is ready to leave PSG with a return to his homeland to join Bayern Munich his preference reports Foot Mercato.

Raheem Sterling has lost his place in the Manchester City starting line-up prompting fresh speculation.

Phil Foden has taken Sterling's role with devastating effect, including scoring the winner in their midweek Champions League triumph over Borussia Dortmund.

Sterling's contract talks have also been shelved for the season, fuelling the rumours.

 

TOP STORY - REAL REIGNITE RAHEEM INTEREST

Real Madrid have reignited their interest in Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling according to the Daily Star.

Sterling is contracted with City for another two seasons, putting them in a strong position to hang on to the England international with a reported £80million price tag.

But regular football and the lure of Madrid could be compelling for Sterling who joined City from Liverpool in 2015 for £44m.

 

ROUND-UP

-The Daily Star reports that Paul Pogba's agent Mino Raiola has informed Manchester United that he will only re-sign for a mammoth £500,000-a-week contract. Interested clubs Juventus, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain have also been informed of his wage demands.

-Adama Traore will be offloaded by Wolverhampton as they seek to raise funds for their off-season recruitment reports Football Insider.

-Mundo Deportivo claims that Tottenham are keen to sign Real Betis defender Emerson, having shown interest last off-season.

-Manchester United are homing in on 18-year-old Metz midfielder Pape Sarr according to The Sun although they will face plenty of competition.

Diego Simeone called on hobbling Atletico Madrid to "resist" in their LaLiga title hunt as the club's injuries pile up following a 1-1 draw with Real Betis.

Atletico returned to the top of the table, ahead of defending champions Real Madrid and Barcelona, after sharing the spoils at Betis in a thrilling encounter on Sunday.

Yannick Carrasco scored their quickest goal of the season, timed at four minutes, 36 seconds, for Atletico. However, Cristian Tello struck back for European hopefuls Betis 15 minutes later.

Already without Luis Suarez, Marcos Llorente, Moussa Dembele and Geoffrey Kondogbia due to injury, Atletico saw star Joao Felix suffer an ankle injury, while full-back Kieran Trippier had to be replaced with a back injury.

As the injuries mount, Atletico head coach Simeone said: "In the second half we suffered. But I have footballers who give everything.

"We are in a moment of resistance. Resist, that's a word that appeals to me. Resist, like all of society in these difficult times."

Chasing four home wins in a row for the first time since April 2018, Betis had the better of the second half, though Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak stood firm when called upon and his counterpart Claudio Bravo made a superb late stop from Angel Correa to preserve a deserved point.

Atletico have scored 52 goals after 30 league games this season (1.73 goals per game). The last LaLiga winner with as few or fewer goals at this stage of the season were Fabio Capello's Real Madrid in 2006-07 (42 goals).

Correa has delivered 10 assists in all competitions this term, equalling the best tally in his six seasons at Atletico (level with 2016-17 campaign). The Argentinian has scored only four goals, however, which is his lowest tally at this stage of the season.

Oblak has made at least three saves in the last four games for Atletico across all competitions (14 saves on aggregate, four against Betis) – his longest run with at least three saves this season.

Simeone added: "We will see what happens, all the teams have a moment of irregularity and hopefully we have passed it after today's draw.

"We have maintained a firm and strong step this season as both Madrid and Barcelona have begun to recover so we will wait and see."

Atletico Madrid returned to the top of LaLiga, though only by a point, as they drew 1-1 with Real Betis in a thrilling encounter.

Real Madrid leapfrogged their neighbours into top spot with Saturday's Clasico triumph over Barcelona, and in response Diego Simeone's Atletico made an ideal start against Betis on Sunday.

Yannick Carrasco scored their quickest goal of the season, timed at four minutes and 36 seconds. However, Cristian Tello struck back for European hopefuls Betis 15 minutes later, directing a wonderful volley into the bottom-right corner.

Chasing four home wins in a row for the first time since April 2018, Betis had the better of the second half, though Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak stood firm when called upon and his counterpart Claudio Bravo made a superb late stop from Angel Correa to preserve a deserved point.

An enthralling clash started full of promise. Joao Felix's delightful flick played in Correa, who beat the onrushing goalkeeper and squeezed a neat pass into Carrasco for a simple finish into an empty net.

Saul Niguez directed a close-range header straight at Bravo soon after, and Atleti were swiftly made to pay – Alex Moreno's cross brilliantly steered home by Tello.

Carrasco made a vital, goal-saving challenge on Emerson as half-time approached, and the Atleti scorer was in the thick of it again as he drilled into the side-netting from the resulting counter.

Having sustained a knock while on international duty with Portugal in March, Joao Felix was forced off injured here after a collision with Tello three minutes into the second half.

Atleti's frustration was almost compounded when Emerson met Nabil Fekir's cross, but Oblak was alert to the full-back's header.

Jose Gimenez made an outstanding block to deny Aitor Ruibal, but it was the ever-reliable Oblak who proved Atleti's saviour.

Diego Lainez seemed all set to strike at the culmination of a sweeping Betis move, yet Oblak made a stunning save low to his left as Atleti went back to the top of the pile – Bravo's stoppage-time efforts at the other end denying the visitors all three points.

Manchester City will turn to Harry Kane if they cannot land Erling Haaland.

It is widely expected City will go hard to sign the Norway striker, who is being pursued by numerous big clubs.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea are all interested in the Borussia Dortmund man.

 

TOP STORY - KANE IN CITY'S SIGHTS

The Times reports that if City fail to win the race for Haaland's signature they will consider making an offer for Tottenham talisman Kane.

Kane is seven years older than Haaland but has a proven Premier League goal scoring record.

City have already confirmed Sergio Aguero's exit at the end of the season and are in the market to bolster their forward ranks.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail is reporting that City's main priorities in the transfer market are to sign Haaland and Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish, as they turn to a younger generation of talent. The duo are expected to cost £200 million.

- Football Insider has reported Lionel Messi has requested FC Barcelona sign countryman Aguero as part of his own negotiations to stay with the Catalans. Mundo Deportivo claims Aguero is not a priority signing for Barca, with Memphis Depay, Romelu Lukaku and Haaland top of the list.

- Gianluigi Donnarumma has been linked with a host of big clubs and Sky Sport Italia are reporting that contract talks with AC Milan are at a standstill. Milan are allegedly offering €7million per-year deal but the goalkeeper wants more.

- Voetbalkrant are reporting Southampton are interested in Anderlecht's teenage defender Marco Kana.

- Ex-Borussia Dortmund and Hertha Berlin coach Lucien Favre is interested in becoming Celtic's new coach, according to the Daily Mail.

- Fichajes reports Leeds United's Rodrigo is unhappy in England and wants to return to Spain, with Real Betis and Sevilla in the mix.

Another day, another Erling Haaland rumour.

Haaland's future is dominating headlines amid widespread interest in Europe.

Barcelona are reportedly interested in the Borussia Dortmund sensation.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI OUT, HAALAND IN?

Barcelona have identified Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland as a top transfer priority if Lionel Messi leaves at the end of the season, according to Diario AS.

Messi is out of contract at season's end and the superstar Barca captain has been tipped to join either Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City.

Should Messi depart, Haaland is wanted by Barca and head coach Ronald Koeman, though all eyes will be on Lyon forward Memphis Depay if the former remains at Camp Nou.

Haaland has also been linked with Manchester United, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Juventus, PSG, Liverpool and City.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano claims City are convinced Kevin De Bruyne will sign a new contract with the club. Raheem Sterling's contract is also on the agenda, while soon-to-be free agent Sergio Aguero will decide his future in the coming weeks. Aguero has been linked with Inter, Barca and Chelsea.

United are set to challenge Madrid in the chase to sign Villarreal defender Pau Torres, reports The Mirror. United are keen to bolster their defence amid links with Madrid pair Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, Sevilla's Jules Kounde and RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate.

- Calciomercato says Inter will reject any offers for star Romelu Lukaku. It comes as Chelsea and Barca reportedly eye the in-form Belgian.

Barca are monitoring the future of Valencia star Jose Luis Gaya, according to Diario AS. The captain is negotiating a new contract with Valencia.

- Napoli and Spain midfielder Fabian Ruiz is wanted by LaLiga trip Barca, Madrid and Atletico Madrid, claims Diario Sport.

- Mundo Deportivo reports Arsenal are considering a move for Real Betis star Nabil Fekir amid doubts over loanees Martin Odegaard and Dani Ceballos.

Jesus Navas is looking forward to "the most beautiful derby in Spain" between Sevilla and Real Betis as he looks to put their Champions League exit behind them.

Julen Lopetegui's side lost 5-4 on aggregate to Borussia Dortmund in the last 16 after drawing 2-2 in the second leg in Germany.

The result was the latest setback for Sevilla, whose season is threatening to unravel after appearing so promising just weeks ago.

After losing once in 19 matches in all competitions from December 8 to February 13, Sevilla have only won once in their past six games.

Following a 3-2 loss to Dortmund in the first leg, they suffered a 2-0 home defeat to Barcelona in LaLiga and then allowed a 2-0 aggregate advantage to slip away against the Catalans in the Copa del Rey semi-final, losing 3-0 after extra time at Camp Nou on March 3.

A 2-1 defeat at Elche last week means Sevilla are now six points behind the top three in the table, albeit with a game in hand, and another loss against Betis would allow their fierce rivals to close to within just three points.

Navas hopes to bring some much-needed joy to Sevilla fans as they aim to keep their top-four hopes firmly in their own hands.

"The Gran Derbi is experienced with a lot of passion by the two sets of fans," Navas said via LaLiga.

"There is great excitement in the days beforehand, with all the desire to be able to win so that the fans are happy.

"It is so special because of the excitement and the desire to get the victory. You experience it to the fullest and with all the passion in the world.

"It's the most beautiful derby in Spain because of the excitement around it. When you get the win, the fans enjoy it to the fullest."

Betis defender Marc Bartra also acknowledges the importance of the fixture in a city where emotions run deep for the respective sides.

"It's a question of passion. On both sides, I think there's incredible passion," said the centre-back.

"It's the same city, the same houses, with the same families... in the city, you either support Real Betis or Sevilla. And that makes it extremely passionate. It's really, really great to experience it from within.

"My best memory is from the first one I played, no doubt about it. It was my first Gran Derbi, and I scored my first goal for Real Betis.

"It was a spectacular moment, in front of the Gol Sur, with an assist from Joaquin. It was a memorable day, which I will remember forever."

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