Bruno Fernandes has addressed speculation Cristiano Ronaldo is seeking to leave Manchester United, saying he "doesn't believe" such a move will materialise.

Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford from Juventus last year and finished as United's highest scorer in the Premier League with 18 goals – only behind Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Liverpool's Mohamed Salah in the division (both 23).

However, it was a disappointing season for United as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lost his job and Ralf Rangnick failed to steady the ship, with the club missing out on a top-four finish and Champions League football.

Recent speculation has suggested Ronaldo is unhappy with United's direction and is seeking a move, and Chelsea have reportedly shown an interest.

Fernandes does not believe a departure will follow, however, and expects to see his compatriot in United training when the pair return from holiday next week.

"From what I've talked to him – we're both on vacation still, and no-one bothers friends on holiday – I hope in four days to find him to train there. I'm not expecting more than that," he told reporters on Thursday.

"As far as I know, there's nothing more to it than that, but everyone takes care of their future. I do not believe that the club is willing to lose an asset like Cristiano."

Fernandes was then asked about the possibility of Ronaldo returning to Sporting CP, where his career began, and acknowledged he was hopeful such a move would happy in the future.

"It would be a great moment for Sporting, almost everyone expects this; I'd like that to happen," Fernandes, also a former Sporting man, added.

"He has the ambition to continue playing for many years. We will see what he will decide, I hope, when the contract with United is over, but the ambition and dream of the fans would be to see Ronaldo playing with the Sporting jersey."

Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly assessing his options for next season as he does not feel he fits in the aggressive press-from-the-front system expected to be implemented by incoming manager Erik ten Hag.

The 37-year-old showed he is still more than capable of contributing at the highest level in 2021-22, scoring 18 goals in 30 Premier League appearances and six in seven in the Champions League.

With one year remaining on his contract, the Portugal icon would demand a fee, but there are reportedly some familiar faces interested in acquiring his services.

TOP STORY – RONALDO SHUNS TEN HAG, WANTS OUT OF OLD TRAFFORD

Jose Mourinho is said to be enquiring about the possibility of bringing Ronaldo to Roma, with the Italian club hoping the legendary coach can move the needle and convince him to return to Serie A, according to La Repubblica.

Mourinho will reportedly have to compete with the nostalgia factor as Sporting CP have also thrown their hat in the ring, with the thought Ronaldo may want to finish his career where it began at the Primeira Liga club he called home before he was first picked up by United in 2003.

If the five-time Ballon d'Or winner truly decides his time with United is up, as the report from the Italian outlet claims, there will undoubtedly be a bevy of suitors willing to bring in one of the game's most marketable superstars.

ROUND-UP

Arsenal are said to be "cautiously optimistic" of signing Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus, although Sky Sports is reporting the club are hoping to pay closer to £30million, rather than the £50m asking price.

– According to The Athletic, Arsenal are also targeting Leeds United winger Raphinha and Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez.

– ESPN is reporting Chelsea are investigating whether it is possible to replace Romelu Lukaku with Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski

United are expecting Barcelona to lower their asking price for Frenkie de Jong due to their financial problems, according to the Guardian.

– The Daily Mail is reporting Everton view Watford striker Emmanuel Dennis as a potential replacement for Richarlison if he leaves during this transfer window.

Arsenal are set to make their first big splash of this transfer period with the signing of 22-year-old Porto midfielder Fabio Vieira.

The Gunners have been linked with various big names – including Raheem Sterling, Youri Tielemans and Christopher Nkunku – but have struggled to get deals over the line for players that could be considered key signings.

Vieira, who has made 20 appearances for Portugal Under-21s, was a move that came out of left-field, but those that call the Emirates Stadium home will hope it proves to be a masterstroke.

 

TOP STORY – VIEIRA'S MOVE TO ARSENAL REACHES FINAL STAGES

According to ESPN, a deal in the range of €40million is said to be in place, with Vieira said to be heading to London for his medical on Friday before finalising a five-year deal.

The talented attacking midfielder – who played in both the number-10 role and as a second striker – finished the Primeira Liga season with six goals and 14 assists from 27 appearances. Nobody in Portugal's top division had more assists.

Vieira reportedly had a €50m release clause with Porto, but the club were happy to accept the reduced figure.

It could be the start of a big week for Arsenal, with ESPN also mentioning they are leading the race for Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus in a deal that could be worth up to £50 million.

 

ROUND-UP

– According to The Sun, Liverpool remain interested in Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham, but they will remain patient and not pursue him in this transfer period.

– Inter have turned down a €50m bid from Paris Saint-Germain for Milan Skriniar, holding firm at an asking price of €80m, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Newcastle United target Sven Botman is reportedly favouring Milan if he is to leave Lille, per Football Insider.

– The Telegraph is reporting Southampton have agreed to a deal worth up to £15m for 20-year-old City goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, while The Athletic claims they are also interested in 18-year-old City midfielder Romeo Lavia.

Fulham and Wolves will reportedly compete for the signature of Sporting midfielder Joao Palhinha, according to 90min.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rafael Leao's pace, power and flair invokes memories of Brazil legend Ronaldo Nazario, while only Cristiano Ronaldo was as talented as the Milan winger aged 18 at Sporting CP.

That is according to former Sporting coach Tiago Fernandes, who worked with Leao as he came through the ranks at the Portuguese club and coached a young Ronaldo before he joined Manchester United.

Leao has become central to Stefano Pioli's plans at Milan this season as the Rossoneri seek a first Scudetto since the 2010-11 campaign, sitting two points clear of Inter with two Serie A games left to play.

The 22-year-old starred in the 3-1 comeback victory at Hellas Verona on Sunday, driving down the left flank to provide two almost identical assists for birthday boy Sandro Tonali to score.

Leao leads Milan charts for most goals (10) in the league this campaign, while only Theo Hernandez (6) boasts as many assists.

He has created 38 chances in total in the Italian top flight this season, a tally that only Hernandez (49) and Tonali (42) can better.

Fernandes, speaking to Italian publication Tuttomercatoweb, heaped praise on Leao as he drew comparisons between the forward and Brazil great Ronaldo.

"Leao has the power of Ronaldo, he has the talent to solve matches on his own," said Fernandes, who worked at Sporting between 2011 and 2018.

"He reminds me of the 'Phenomenon' [Ronaldo] with speed, technique and explosiveness in decisive moments, qualities that this season have emerged every game to drag Milan towards great results."

Fernandes reflected on his memories of developing Leao when he was at Sporting's academy, with Portugal compatriot Ronaldo the only other youth player to display so much potential.

"We are talking about a very special guy for me, I'm so happy with what he's doing," he added on the Milan star. "I met him when he was just 12-13 years old, coaching him in almost all the youth teams of Sporting until his first team debut at 18.

"I can assure you that only Cristiano Ronaldo in Lisbon had the same talent as him at that age. It is very exciting. It repays the many hours of work spent together on the pitch at Sporting.

"I am proud that he has landed in a great club like the Rossoneri, he is doing very well. I want him to win the Scudetto, now there are only two games left to finish the job."

As for the future of Leao, Fernandes believes he could play for any of Europe's elite given the qualities he possesses.

"Rafael has the talent to play in the best clubs in the world, from Real Madrid to Barcelona," Fernandes added. "I am convinced that he has an incredible career ahead of him."

Pep Guardiola complained that his players were "a little bit sloppy" but the Manchester City manager was delighted to rubberstamp a Champions League quarter-final place.

The Spaniard saw his side duke out a goalless draw with Sporting CP, sealing a 5-0 aggregate win after the thrashing in Lisbon three weeks ago.

City probed for a goal to satisfy the packed house at the Etihad Stadium, but they could not make a breakthrough, Gabriel Jesus having a strike disallowed for offside after a VAR check and a late flurry coming to nothing.

Given City's huge lead from the first leg, there was always a likelihood this would end in anti-climax, but the hosts at least avoided an uncomfortable night.

Guardiola said: "The first half was better than the second one. 

"I think after the disallowed goal, we were a little bit not active, didn't make movements and it's not easy because after this result the second half I think it was already over.

"We waited for counter-attacks and it was a little bit not good. But I understand it, that games in these situations it is difficult to handle it.

"The first half was much better, we were more aggressive and created chances.

"We should have played the second half like we played the last four or five minutes. We didn't do it; that's why it was a little bit sloppy, the second half."

City have now reached the last eight of the Champions League in each of the past five seasons, the only English side to do so each time over this period.

Guardiola gave Champions League debuts to three players: starter CJ Egan-Riley and substitutes James McAtee and Luke Mbete.

Egan-Riley did well at right-back, with Guardiola saying of the 19-year-old academy product: "CJ played like he is. He's not exceptional in anything, but he doesn't make mistakes and so always as a defender that's so important."

A highlight of the night for City supporters was a late cameo for veteran third-choice goalkeeper Scott Carson, as the 36-year-old replaced Ederson for the closing 17 minutes.

Carson, rarely given a look-in at first-team level, had to make one big save to keep City on terms, boosting his cult hero status at the club.

It was his second appearance in the Champions League, 16 years and 338 days after his debut for Liverpool against Juventus in April 2005 when he was 19 years old. This made it the largest gap between appearances in the competition's history.

"We are delighted. Scott is very important for us always behind the scenes," Guardiola said of the former England international.

"His chemistry with Ederson and Zack [Steffen] is fundamental in the locker room. People listen to him a lot when he talks. For a game like this it was so important and he made the biggest save so we didnt lose the game."

Guardiola played down the prospect of possibly facing a rival Premier League club in the quarter-finals, saying: "We'll prepare well and next Friday we're going to see the draw and we are going to prepare.

"It's an honour to be there. Important teams are already out so we'll see next week what happens."

Manchester City sauntered through to the Champions League quarter-finals as Wednesday's second leg against Sporting CP proved entirely academic, a 0-0 draw sealing a 5-0 aggregate win.

Armed with their handsome lead from the first leg in Portugal, City barely got out of first gear and nor did they need to.

Gabriel Jesus had a goal disallowed for a tight offside, and Riyad Mahrez saw a shot blocked as City went close to a late winner.

Even Scott Carson, the rarely seen reserve goalkeeper, got a run-out for the last 17 minutes, pulling off a fine save to deny Paulinho and taking a whack for his efforts.

Last season's runners-up are favourites with many to carry off the trophy this year and this was as much of a formality as Champions League knockout games come.

Sensibly, Pep Guardiola gave a rest to derby-day destroyers Kevin De Bruyne, on a yellow card, and Mahrez, benching both. This was no night for risk-taking, but still it was unlike City for it to reach the 24th minute before they registered a first shot at goal, Phil Foden's drive from 20 yards tipped behind by Antonio Adan.

Raheem Sterling was thwarted when he looked to dink over the goalkeeper after Foden's sharp pass found his England colleague, as City, who led 4-0 at half-time in the first leg, drew a blank in this opening 45 minutes.

Teenager CJ Egan-Riley was tidy at right-back on his Champions League debut, while Oleksandr Zinchenko featured on the opposite flank and was given a huge pre-match roar, the crowd firmly behind the Ukrainian amid the unfolding dire events in his homeland.

Wizardry from substitute Mahrez created an opening from Jesus to strike from a tight angle to the left of goal in the 47th minute. Cue joyful celebrations, but a VAR check showed the Brazilian was a shade offside.

In 2008-09, the only previous season during the Champions League era when Sporting reached the knockout rounds, they lost 5-0 at home to Bayern before being suffering a 7-1 beating in Munich.

They were at least spared such humiliation this time, with City going through the motions rather than for the jugular. Sporting's first shot came in the 57th minute, with Ederson gathering Bruno Tabata's attempt with no trouble.

Chances came and went as Sporting bowed out, John Stones heading over perhaps the best in stoppage time, while Sterling lashed wide with the last kick.

Pep Guardiola picked homegrown talent CJ Egan-Riley for Manchester City's second leg with Sporting CP, handing the 19-year-old a Champions League debut.

The youngster made his maiden first-team appearance in the 6-1 Carabao Cup win over Wycombe in September, but this was comfortably the biggest senior occasion of his fledgling career at the club.

He came in amid a defensive crisis for City, with Nathan Ake, Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo and Kyle Walker all unavailable. Ukrainian Oleksandr Zinchenko started at left-back, with John Stones and Aymeric Laporte in the centre.

It was a night at the Etihad Stadium when City were surely on their way through to the quarter-finals after seizing a commanding 5-0 lead in Lisbon three weeks ago.

Guardiola made six changes, with Egan-Riley joined by Zinchenko, Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling, who came into the side three days after the thumping 4-1 derby win over Manchester United.

Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish, Rodri and Riyad Mahrez dropped to the bench as Guardiola allowed that star quartet a breather, while Cancelo was unwell and Walker suspended.

Egan-Riley stepped in at right-back for England international Walker, who Guardiola ticked off in his pre-match news conference for the red card he received late on in City's group-stage clash with RB Leipzig after lashing out at Andre Silva.

Guardiola said: "When one player does this stupid thing he deserves the three games, I'm sorry. I'm not so kind to Kyle in this kind of action."

The two games in the Champions League round of 16 on Wednesday both feature favourites to go all the way in this season's competition. One is finely poised, the other... not so much.

Paris Saint-Germain nicked a one goal advantage late on in the home leg against Real Madrid but travel to the Santiago Bernabeu with plenty of work still to do.

Manchester City dispatched Sporting CP with ease in Lisbon to make the return fixture surely nothing more than a procession.

Here are some Opta facts ahead of both encounters to leave the mouth watering further ahead of the clash in Spain, and maybe even give the most optimistic of Sporting fans the slimmest glimmer of hope.

Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain

PSG were on top for much of the first leg in Paris, but it took a moment of genius from Kylian Mbappe in stoppage time to seal a 1-0 win.

That might be enough though as Madrid have been eliminated from nine of their last 10 knockout ties in the Champions League when losing the first leg, with the exception being a 3-2 aggregate victory over Wolfsburg in the 2015-16 quarter-finals.

However, PSG have been eliminated from three of their eight Champions League knockout ties when winning the first leg – only Barcelona (four) and Madrid (six) have been eliminated in this fashion more often.

Lionel Messi has failed to score in his last 695 minutes of action against Los Blancos in all competitions since scoring for Barcelona in May 2018. The Argentine had his penalty saved against them in the first leg, which was his fifth penalty failure in the Champions League (from 23 taken, excluding shoot-outs).

Mauricio Pochettino's men are winless in their last four away matches in the Champions League (D2 L2). They last had a longer run without a win on the road in the competition between September 2000 and October 2012 (10 games).

Karim Benzema, meanwhile, has scored 12 goals in his last 11 Champions League home games for Madrid. Overall, he has netted 64 goals for the Spanish side in the competition, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo (105) and Raul (66).

Mbappe, who has been linked with a move to Madrid and may well be an injury doubt for Wednesday, has been directly involved in 18 goals in his last 13 appearances in the Champions League, scoring 13 and assisting a further five.

 

Manchester City v Sporting CP

City eased to a 5-0 win in Portugal, the joint-biggest winning margin away from home in the knockout stages in Champions League history. The largest first-leg deficit to be overturned in the competition is four goals (PSG 4-0, Barcelona 6-1 in 2016-17).

Pep Guardiola's team have won their last six home matches in the knockout stages of the Champions League, and could tie a record that has been reached on five occasions previously (Bayern Munich – April 2002, Milan – April 2006, Manchester United – March 2009, Bayern – February 2017 and Madrid – February 2018).

Kevin De Bruyne – who scored twice in a 4-1 win over Manchester United on Sunday – could make his 50th Champions League appearance for City. The Belgian has been directly involved in 27 goals in his previous 49 (10 goals and 17 assists).

Riyad Mahrez has scored six Champions League goals this season and needs one more to set a record for most goals in a single season in the competition by a City player.

 

Sporting, on the other hand, have lost all three of their matches in the knockout rounds of the Champions League, conceding 17 goals in total (5.7 per game).

Ruben Amorim's side have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last 13 away matches in the Champions League, conceding 31 goals in the process (2.4 per game). This is already the longest run of away matches without a clean sheet by a Portuguese side in the competition.

Pep Guardiola has full confidence in Oleksandr Zinchenko's readiness to feature for Manchester City against Sporting CP.

Zinchenko has played just once for City since his homeland of Ukraine was invaded by Russia, an attack that began on February 24.

That appearance came against Peterborough United in the FA Cup, with Zinchenko captaining City in a 2-0 win.

However, the 25-year-old seems set to start again as City host Sporting in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

City hold a 5-0 lead from the first leg in Lisbon, but Guardiola claimed he only has three defenders fit for Wednesday's meeting at the Etihad Stadium.

Kyle Walker is suspended and Joao Cancelo, who has been playing at left-back, is unwell. Nathan Ake has still not recovered from injury while Ruben Dias is expected to miss a month due to a hamstring problem.

As such, Zinchenko is likely to feature, but Guardiola insists the full-back is in the right frame of mind to feature.

"He's ready, of course it's not an easy period for him but he will be ready if he has to play," Guardiola told a news conference.

Prior to Guardiola's appearance in front of the media, City goalkeeper Ederson explained the support Zinchenko has from his team-mates.

"It's a very difficult moment for him. It's his country. His family are there, living in these anguishing moments," Ederson told reporters.

"For us who don't live there it is difficult. Can you imagine what it is like for him? It is hard to see your team-mate suffer and the civilians suffering in the country.

"We try to give him strength and bring some joy into his day but we know how difficult that is. I hope it resolves and the country can get back to normality.

"It will be very difficult due to the damage being done, the amount of innocent people that are dying due to a war that is nothing to do with them."

Pep Guardiola is still "so angry" with Kyle Walker over the full-back's three-match Champions League suspension.

Walker was sent off for lashing out at Andre Silva in the 82nd minute of City's 2-1 defeat to RB Leipzig in the group stage, with the Premier League champions having already secured qualification into the last 16.

City appealed against the England international's suspension, but it was upheld, with Walker missing the last-16 tie against Sporting CP and the first leg of the quarter-finals, with Guardiola's side surely heading for the last eight after winning the first leg 5-0.

The Premier League leaders are short of options in defence for the second leg at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday. Ruben Dias is set to miss the next month due to a hamstring problem while Nathan Ake is not yet ready to return from injury, and Joao Cancelo is unwell.

John Stones and Aymeric Laporte are Guardiola's senior options at centre-back, while Oleksandr Zinchenko would seem the most viable option at left-back.

Guardiola said he does not know who will fill in at right-back, as he vented his frustration at Walker.

"He deserved it. Kyle Walker deserved the three," Guardiola said during a news conference when asked about City's failure to win their appeal.

"When one player does this stupid thing he deserves the three games, I'm sorry. I'm not so kind to Kyle in this kind of action.

"I'm still so angry with him, so angry. He knows it. It's not necessary to discuss that [with him].

"He's so important, Kyle for us. Did you see the game he played against United? But in Leipzig, we've qualified already, 75, 80 minutes to make this kind of action? So he deserves the three games.

"The club appealed, I did not agree. They had to do it because in other cases that were quite similar it was just two games but he deserved it. Hopefully he learns for the future."

One academy option who could be called upon is Luke Mbete, with the 18-year-old defender set to be included in City's squad.

"He's trained with us for a long time, the application is so high, a guy who wants to learn," Guardiola said.

"Still young but tomorrow he'll be with the squad and maybe we will need him, we will see."

Fernandinho, however, was namechecked as a possible option to slot into the defence, either at right-back or centre-back.

There has been talk of Fernandinho moving into a coaching role, yet Guardiola still wants to keep the Brazilian in his squad if possible.

"I would love [to offer him a new contract]," Guardiola said. 

"I'm so glad to have him he's an incredible captain and player. I have a feeling now at 36, 37, he struggled a little bit coming back from holidays but now he's getting his rhythm.

"For him he doesn't care, he will play against Peterborough. Other players his age wouldn't want to play there in cold weather, but he wants to help to give rest to Rodri. At the end of the season Txiki [Begiristain, City's director of football] and the club have to decide."

Kevin De Bruyne, meanwhile, is risking a suspension should he play and Guardiola may omit the midfielder.

"He's maybe not [going to start]," Guardiola said with a laugh. "We will see."

Ederson is full of confidence that Manchester City can go on to win a domestic and European treble this season.

City missed out on their usual EFL Cup triumph this term, a trophy they had lifted four times in a row under Pep Guardiola.

However, they are six points clear at the top of the Premier League, albeit having played a game more than title rivals Liverpool, while they are into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

Southampton stand in the way of a semi-final trip to Wembley in that competition, while City also have one foot into the last eight of the Champions League.

Last year's runners-up thrashed Sporting CP 5-0 in the last-16 first leg last month, meaning the return fixture in Manchester on Wednesday should prove a formality.

"Definitely," Ederson told a news conference when asked if City had eyes on a treble, which would be the second of Guardiola's tenure after an EFL Cup, FA Cup and Premier League triumph in 2018-19.

"We know how difficult it is. A season here in England is very intense, especially around the Boxing Day period when there are a lot of games in a short space of time. That is very demanding on the entire group.

"We know how difficult it is, but we have the quality to do this. We've shown this previously and we're showing it at the moment. I think we're fully capable of meeting this achievement."

City are yet to win the Champions League, with last season's final defeat to Chelsea in Porto the closest the club has come.

"Last season we had the opportunity but lost in the final," Ederson said.

"Our goal is to go into every tournament to win. We have to take things step by step to progress. We know there are challenges in every competition. Every game has its own challenges and [you] have to take things step by step to achieve great things in the future."

City's victory in Lisbon represented the joint-biggest winning margin away from home in the knockout stages in Champions League history. The largest first-leg deficit to be overturned in the competition is four goals, Barcelona having famously thrashed Paris Saint-Germain 6-1 in March 2017 after losing the away leg 4-0.

City have won each of their past six home matches in the knockout stages of the Champions League and could tie a record that has been reached on five occasions previously, while Sporting have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their most recent 13 away matches in the tournament, conceding 31 goals in the process (2.4 per game).

Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Manchester United may be coming to a premature end.

The Portuguese forward has struggled since Ralf Rangnick's arrival as interim manager in December.

United are also battling to finish in the Premier League's top four.

TOP STORY - RONALDO COURTS MOVE TO MESSI'S PSG

FootballTransfers claims that Ronaldo has decided that he will leave Manchester United if they do not qualify for the Champions League, with a move to join Lionel Messi at Paris Saint-Germain on his agenda.

Speculation about Ronaldo's future at Old Trafford ramped up after he missed Sunday's Manchester derby due to a hip flexor injury and flew to Portugal.

The report that claims that Ronaldo returning to Juventus has been ruled out, along with his original Portuguese club Sporting CP, with the five-time Ballon d'Or courting a move to Paris.

 

ROUND-UP

- Defensa Central reports that Newcastle United have commenced talks with Real Madrid over a move for 31-year-old ex-Chelsea forward Eden Hazard who has had an underwhelming spell with Los Blancos.

- Manchester United's Marcus Rashford has a list of clubs circling for his services with Arsenal, Newcastle and West Ham all interested, according to 90Min.

- The Mail claims that PSG will make a move for Rashford too, should Kylian Mbappe leave the French capital to join Madrid.

- Manchester City and Madrid are in the lead to sign Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland ahead of Bayern Munich and Barcelona claims The Athletic.

- RB Leipzig midfielder Christopher Nkunku is being tracked by Chelsea and Man City according to FootMercato.

Manchester United's search for a permanent manager continues to take up plenty of column inches, with a new name now entering the mix.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax chief Erik ten Hag have long been considered the two frontrunners to take over at Old Trafford.

But a somewhat surprise candidate is now reportedly being considered to succeed interim manager Ralf Rangnick on a short-term basis at the end of the campaign.


TOP STORY – ANCELOTTI A CONTENDER FOR UNITED

According to ESPN, United may look to appoint Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti as they explore contingency plans in their pursuit of a new manager.

While Pochettino and Ten Hag remain on the Red Devils' managerial shortlist, Ancelotti is said to be seen as an ideal short-term fix thanks to his vast experience.

The Italian has previously spent time in English football with Everton and Chelsea, winning a Premier League and FA Cup with the latter in 2009-10.

Ancelotti is currently in his second spell with Madrid and has another two seasons to run on his contract at the Santiago Bernabeu.


ROUND-UP

- PSG have offered Kylian Mbappe a contract worth €50million a year to fend off interest from rival clubs, according to Le Parisian. Madrid are the strong favourites to sign the France international should he depart the Parc des Princes as a free agent in July.

- Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta are also set to be out of contract at Chelsea in the next few months and are not short of potential suitors. Mundo Deportivo reports that Barcelona are confident of signing the pair, while Ajax's Noussair Mazraoui and Jose Gaya of Valencia are also targets.

- Madrid are hoping to replace Dani Carvajal at right-back ahead of next season and have a few potential options already lined up. That is according to El Nacional, with Man Utd's Diogo Dalot, Norwich City's Max Aarons and Pedro Porro of Sporting CP all mentioned.

- Sport claims that Barcelona are on course to wrap up contract extensions for Ronald Araujo and Gavi before the end of the month. Rising star Gavi will supposedly be offered a five-year deal that will include a mammoth release clause to ensure he stays at Camp Nou for the long term.

- Former Germany international Julian Weigl is nearing the end of his time at Benfica and has been offered to teams across the continent, according to Calciomercato. The Italian outlet suggests than Milan would prefer to sign Renato Sanches, potentially giving Roma a clear run for the €35m-rated midfielder.

Leeds United are being drawn into the relegation battle, mounting pressure on manager Marcelo Bielsa.

The Whites enjoyed a top-half finish in their return to the Premier League last season but have struggled this term.

Leeds have managed one point from their past six league games, conceding 20 goals in their past five.

TOP STORY – BIELSA EXITS STRUGGLING LEEDS

The Sun claims Marcelo Bielsa has quit as Leeds United manager with ex-RB Leipzig boss Jesse Marsch set to replace him.

Bielsa resigned after Leeds were hammered 4-0 by Tottenham on Saturday, having conceded 14 goals in their past three league games.

The Argentinean's exit from Elland Road is being thrashed out between lawyers, with Fabrizio Romano claiming that Marsch – who left Leipzig in December and previously managed Salzburg and New York Red Bulls – is the favourite to take over.

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea have slapped a £50million price tag on goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga who is wanted by Newcastle United, reports the Daily Star. The Blues signed Kepa in 2018 as the most expensive goalkeeper in history.

Manchester United are lining up two young talents according to the Mirror. The Red Devils are set to table bids for PSV's Cody Gakpo and Sporting CP's Joao Palhinha.

Liverpool target Darwin Nunez is interested in joining the Reds according to Football Insider. The 22-year-old Uruguay international is currently with Benfica.

- Mundo Deportivo claims Barcelona are ahead of Bayern Munich in the race to sign Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen.

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