What the papers say

Raphael Varane is reportedly the latest big name attracting a wealth of interest from Saudi Arabia. The Daily Star says Saudi Pro League side Al-Nassr are hoping to reunite the Manchester United defender with his former Real Madrid and Red Devils team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, with an offer believed to be in the region of £50million a year.

The Independent reports Kylian Mbappe‘s contract negotiations with Real Madrid have hit a stumbling block. According to the paper, the two parties are yet to come to terms on the 25-year-old striker’s wage package, with an agreement believed to be a way off. However, there is belief amongst all involved – including Mbappe’s current club Paris St Germain – that a deal to take the France captain to Spain will eventually be made.

And The Telegraph reports Aston Villa has reached a verbal agreement on a new long-term contract for Jamaica winger Leon Bailey.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Raphinha: Journalist Paul O’Keefe says on X the Barcelona attacker is being carefully monitored by Tottenham.

Hwang Ui-jo: The Nottingham Forest striker has agreed terms to spend the rest of the season on loan at Turkish side Alanyaspor, reports Turkish outlet Sports Digitale.

Boss David Wagner said Norwich fans had “every reason” to call for his sacking after Watford came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Vicarage Road.

Goals from Danny Batth and Hwang Ui-jo put the Canaries in control with just 12 minutes on the clock but Watford levelled thanks to two goals in three minutes after the half-hour mark from Ismael Kone and Mileta Rajovic.

Yasir Asprilla completed the comeback in the 77th minute with a deftly-taken goal that may have been ruled out for offside had VAR been in operation.

Many Norwich fans had lost their patience with Wagner before that, however, booing the substitution of Adam Idah, and some stayed on after the final whistle to call for his sacking.

“They have every reason – we are not happy as well,” said the German, who was appointed in January. “I understand the frustration. It is the unfortunate nature of the game.

“The supporters show their feelings, which is fine. If we had won it, it would be different.

“I am focused on the work. I have the main responsibility, I have always said this, but also it is the players who win the games.”

Canaries fans had called for Wagner’s sacking at the start of the month, when Blackburn won 3-1 at Carrow Road.

Wins over Cardiff and QPR bought Wagner time but a new sporting director has now arrived in ex-Arsenal loans manager Ben Knapper.

“I don’t feel I am on trial,” Wagner added. “I worked my socks off with my team to win this game but it didn’t happen. We have to reset ourselves and go again on Sunday.”

Watford manager Valerien Ismael was delighted with the way his team recovered from a dreadful start to bank three points that were totally deserved.

“I said afterwards to the guys ‘thank you’,” he said. “I am really proud of the boys. They stayed calm and the most important thing was to stick to the game plan as the game had not started for us.

“At half-time I told the boys to make sure we finished the job. It was hectic at the end but we deserved to win.

“The more difficult it was the more the players stuck together. It was a great win because of the way we managed the situation.”

Asprilla, the 20-year-old Colombia forward, showed great composure with the winning goal.

Norwich goalkeeper George Long parried a long-range effort from Wesley Hoedt and Asprilla latched on to the rebound, deftly rounded Long and slotted home a shot that crossed the line before Dimi Giannoulis could block.

It was Asprilla’s third goal of the season and Ismael is expecting more to follow.

“He is starting to get this breakthrough now,” he said. “We need to give him the confidence he needs and to support him. He can be a key player for us in the future.

“I am really pleased his goal decided the game. He has all the capability to score when he decides. He has everything to score a goal and is unpredictable.”

Norwich put their home woes behind them with a hard-fought 1-0 win over QPR in a scrappy Championship encounter.

The Canaries had lost their three previous matches at Carrow Road to heap the pressure on head coach David Wagner but got the three points this time around thanks to a well-taken 21st-minute goal from on-loan striker Hwang Ui-jo.

It was a lacklustre showing from the hosts but this was all about the result which followed a 3-2 win in their previous game at Cardiff and lifted them to the fringes of the play-off picture.

For Rangers, it was a first defeat under new boss Marti Cifuentes after a couple of draws but they competed well in an instantly forgettable game and would have had some reward for their efforts had their finishing matched their often attractive approach play.

It was Rangers who made the better start, enjoying plenty of possession, but they couldn’t make it count and it was the hosts who got their noses in front midway through the fast half.

A simple ball through the centre from Gabriel Sara caught the visiting defence napping and Hwang was left free to advance on goal before burying an unstoppable low shot into the bottom corner.

Aside from a back-post effort from Jack Stacey that was headed clear from underneath his own bar by Steve Cook, it proved to be Norwich’s only on target effort of the opening period – but fortunately for Wagner’s men their opponents lacked the punch to go with their neat approach work.

Lyndon Dykes nodded a corner from Kenneth Paal just wide and a well-struck effort from Osman Kakay was comfortably gathered by George Long but they were rare moments of alarm for the Canaries.

Paal tested Long with a powerful low shot and Ilias Chair fired just over from distance as Rangers again came out of the blocks quickly after the break.

Norwich were still looking reasonably comfortable, however, although efforts on goal were still at a premium in what was becoming an increasingly scrappy encounter.

Chair had an curling shot deflected just wide after cutting in from the left and Sam Field directed an effort just wide from a good position in stoppage time but the home side saw the game out.

Norwich boss David Wagner insists he can get the struggling Canaries back on track but admits he is unable to say whether he will be given time to turn his side’s fortunes around.

Norwich’s miserable Championship run continued with a 3-1 defeat at Sunderland, meaning Wagner’s side have now won just two of their last 10 games and tumbled to 17th in the table.

The Canaries took the lead at the Stadium of Light through Hwang Ui-jo but Trai Hume and Dan Neil put the home side ahead before the break, before Jack Clarke wrapped up the win for Sunderland in the second half from the spot with his ninth goal of the season.

The defeat means Norwich are now winless in five, and Wagner accepts such form will lead to questions about his future.

“I take responsibility and I have to find solutions to change it,” he said.

“The recent form is not where we want it to be and far away from where we can be and what we’ve shown. This is a big problem for us.”

Asked whether he thinks he will be given time to turn it around, he said: “I understand the question but it is not a question I can answer.”

He did, however, insist he has full belief that he remains the man for the job.

He said: “Yeah, obviously. These are situations you face as a manager which you don’t like but these are challenges that are part of a manager’s life.

“It’s up to me to get this sorted, but how much time or if I get the time, as I said it’s not a question (I can answer).”

To get back to winning ways, Wagner says his side – particularly his senior pros – need to cut out the individual mistakes.

He said: “I think we should not shy away from this. Everyone sees who does the mistakes and at the minute they are my senior pros.

“This hurts double and it costs because these are usually the players you can lean on and give the ball in certain situations, but at the minute it’s where the problem is as well. It’s a good dressing room, they stick together.”

Home boss Tony Mowbray was delighted to end a run of three straight defeats, with Sunderland climbing to seventh in the table.

He said: “I think it was the right result for the way the game went.

“It felt a little bit ‘here we go again’ when they scored, I don’t think they’d been in our half up until that point and yet we’re a goal behind.

“We showed great character to get in front before half-time, with some really good, positive front-foot play. It was important for us, I thought it was harsh on us to have lost three games – there were some okay performances in there.

“You have to take it on the chin when you lose and what was important for us was to keep the confidence up. We showed them a lot of clips of the Leicester game and the rewards of playing on the front foot.

“We did that well today, suffocated them for long spells and it wasn’t really until the last 15 that they asked questions of us, and then in that period we could have scored more goals on the break.”

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