Thomas Tuchel has spoken of his admiration for Ousmane Dembele amid reports the Barcelona outcast could be a transfer target for Chelsea.

Dembele looks to be on his way out of Barca due to a contract stand-off that has turned sour.

The France winger warned the Catalan giants that he would not be "giving in to any blackmail" after Barca director Mateu Alemany ordered him to find a new club "immediately".

Dembele is only under contract with the Blaugrana until the end of the season and Alemany declared he expects the 24-year-old to move on before the transfer window closes at the of this month as "we want to have players committed to the project."

Tuchel saw Dembele's talent first-hand when he played under the Blues boss at Borussia Dortmund in the 2016-17 season before the former Rennes man joined Barca for an initial fee of €105million.

 

The Barca contract rebel's chances created per game average of 2.36 this season is better than any of the Chelsea squad who can play in the same position, while his dribbles completed (6.69) also compares favourably.

Dembele has also had more shots per game (4.46) and made more crosses from open play (6.69) than the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic.

And while Tuchel stopped short of declaring his interest in his former player, the Chelsea head coach is well aware of what he is capable of.

"He is a very good player when he is at his top level," Tuchel said. "I am very fortunate to have trained him in my time at Dortmund.

"It was only one year; it should have been longer. I needed to leave and he decided to leave. From there we are not in closest contact.

"We met here and there because of his duties for the French national team and of course I was in Paris so this was more or less when they were preparing for national duties."

Chelsea face a big Premier League derby with Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Barcelona boss Xavi was "angry and upset" after his side conceded a late equaliser at Granada on Saturday.

The Blaugrana were on the verge of a crucial victory that would have seen them leap up to third in the LaLiga table, only for an 89th minute Antonio Puertas goal to cancel out Luuk de Jong's opener.

Speaking after the game, Xavi was frustrated with dropping two points as well as having to play the final 10 minutes a man down following Gavi's dismissal for a second yellow card.

"We cannot leave happy. We are angry and upset," he told reporters. "We also lack experience, it's clear.

"I'm not talking about the referees, I'm talking about the consequence of the expulsion. We are with one less, we have to go back [be defensive] and it costs us because we are not used to it.

"Experience and craft are gained with matches. [Gavi] is a player who gives us a lot."

Xavi insisted that his team had to look at themselves following the draw, adding: "We lost very silly balls. We must be self-critical.

"You have to do more things: get higher, create opportunities. If we want to grow we have to do more things and grow from now.

"[The result] is not the merit of [Granada], it is our demerit."

De Jong's header just before the hour was his second in two LaLiga games, having scored the winner at Real Mallorca last week, and Xavi suggested that the Dutchman might still have a role to play despite strong rumours that he had been on the verge of having his loan from Sevilla cut short to lessen the wage bill.

"I have already told you that he is part of the squad, like everyone else," he added. "If offers come and we have to square the salary cap, it is the situation that exists. But Luuk is a professional and he has helped us a lot. I am happy for him."

Barcelona missed the chance to go third in LaLiga as Antonio Puertas' last-gasp strike salvaged a 1-1 draw for Granada on Saturday.

After Barca had struggled to create first-half chances, Sevilla loanee Luuk de Jong rose to head a Dani Alves cross past a helpless Luis Maximiano to put Barca in front in the second half.

Gavi's late sending off put Xavi's side under pressure and with time running out, Puertas volleyed past Marc-Andre ter Stegen to deny Barca all three points.

While the Catalan giants have lost just once in 10 La Liga games, they sit only sixth in the table in the battle to secure a Champions League spot.

Xavi is "very optimistic" that Barcelona can further strengthen in the January transfer window, but is unsure whether forward Ousmane Dembele will remain at Camp Nou beyond this season.

Despite their well-publicised financial issues, with debts rising above €1.2billion last year, Barca have brought in Ferran Torres from Manchester City this month for an initial €55million (£46.7m).

Barca will be unable to register Torres until they have offloaded some other players as they would risk exceeding their salary cap, yet other big-name stars continue to be linked with a switch to Camp Nou.

Among those touted as a target for the Catalans is Erling Haaland, with club president Joan Laporta this week refusing to rule out a potential move for the in-demand Borussia Dortmund striker.

Responding to rumours regarding his side's interest in Haaland, Laporta told the football world to "get ready" because Barcelona "are back".

Xavi shares Laporta's enthusiasm and believes the arrival of Torres, who was presented at Camp Nou on Monday, will galvanise supporters following a poor first half to the campaign.

"I'm very close to [Laporta] and I'm very optimistic. I like his ambition," Xavi said at a news conference previewing Wednesday's Copa del Rey last-32 tie with Linares Deportivo. 

"We are working to return. We are close to the Champions League positions. It is not easy, but we are working hard to give Barca what it deserves. We are on the right track.

"The signing of Ferran Torres makes the fans breathe as well. We are working practically 24 hours a day. We must follow the president's lead. It is a positive message to say that we have returned.

"If we sink into misery, it does not help. We must be positive. The president leads the way."

 

Haaland has scored 76 goals in 75 games for Dortmund since making his debut in January 2020, a tally bettered by only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (103 goals in 87 games) among players from Europe's top five leagues in all competitions.

Alvaro Morata, currently on loan at Juventus from Atletico Madrid, has been touted as another potential option for Barca to bolster their attack, which was depleted by the high-profile exit of Lionel Messi in August.

Asked about the links with Haaland and Morata, Xavi said: "I don't want to talk about hypotheses, only the players we have here. 

"They are both great players but they are not ours. If Morata signs for Barcelona then I will answer questions on him."

Barca cannot realistically bring in more players until others make way, however, with the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele potentially on their way out.

Coutinho has started just five games all season, while Dembele is into the final five months of his deal and is officially free to sign a pre-contract agreement with clubs from abroad.

The France international's time in Catalonia has been hampered by a succession of injury setbacks, but when fit he has made an impact and averages 0.6 goals or assists per 90 minutes in LaLiga, which is a similar amount to Antoine Griezmann (0.67) and team-mate Memphis Depay (0.66).

"We have to wait for Dembele," Xavi said. "I'm calm as I can't do anything else. Dembele has to make an effort and think about his future – it depends on him.

"As for Philippe, I've not spoken with him. He's a professional and helps us a lot. But in order for us to have entries, there must be exits."

Xavi also confirmed Barca are hopeful of having Dani Alves, another recent recruit, registered ahead of the midweek cup tie with third-tier Linares Deportivo.

Alves' only appearance since early September was in a friendly against Boca Juniors last month, but Xavi expects the experienced full-back to play a big part in the remainder of Barca's campaign.

"I see him very well. He is spectacular in training, with a lot of intensity and a professionalism," Xavi said. 

"He will help us a lot with his arrival on the wing. He is 38 years old, but as is training will help us in many games. He is a superb player and I hope he can play every three days for us."

Dani Alves is convinced he can still contribute on his Barcelona return despite his age and the absence of superstar Lionel Messi.

The 38-year-old re-joined the club on a free transfer on Friday, having left Sao Paulo in September over a contractual dispute after two years in Brazil.

The right-back will have to wait until January to add to his 391 appearances for Barcelona and will also hope to add to his list of trophies won with the club, which includes three Champions Leagues and six LaLiga titles.

Despite seemingly being in the twilight of his career, Alves is convinced he can play a part both on and off the field in spurring Barca back to the top.

"I have a little less hair but the desire will be just as great! I know what this club represents and I know what I can contribute, both inside and outside, creating synergy with the club, the fans," Alves said after his official unveiling. 

"After all, we have spoiled people for so many titles and maybe they are distrustful. But I think that if we all row towards the same side, the ship will reach the port."

 

Alves is not the only former player to have returned to Camp Nou, with club legend Xavi announced as the club's new head coach on November 6.

The Brazilian revealed that his former team-mate played a big part in bringing him back to Barcelona, claiming he was desperate to return and be part of Xavi's rebuilding project regardless of financial factors.

"I got heavy with the pressure. I told [Xavi] that I wanted to go back, that I wanted to help," Alves continued. "I was even so heavy that Xavi [said] he can't take it anymore! And Xavi told me that he was counting on me if I wanted to come.

"Many times people focus a lot on how much you are going to earn, what is your salary. For me, it is not important. I have never had anything.

"For me, it is important to support my family and the people I take care of, but it was not the time for that. It was the time to rebuild the team.

"I didn't even have to think. The rest is secondary, especially when one receives the call from Barca with the objective. We are ready for anything." 

Barcelona's financial issues prevented the club from extending Messi's contract, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner joining Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.

Alves regrets not being able to link up with his old team-mate, having provided the Argentine with 42 assists in their time together, but accepts that the club must look to the future.

"For me, the kid [Messi] is the greatest thing I've ever seen," Alves added. "You always miss the greats, especially when you have a good relationship.

"It would be incredible to come back to see him here, but unfortunately, it could not be like that. I love him and his family very much, but now we are in a new process.

"I would encourage everyone to return if they could because this is the best place. But the story is different now and we have to think about the process."

Barcelona have condemned the actions of fans who mobbed under-fire head coach Ronald Koeman's car as he left Camp Nou following a 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the first Clasico of the season.

Goals from David Alaba and Lucas Vazquez put Madrid into the lead and Sergio Aguero's stoppage-time strike proved merely a consolation as Barca slipped to a fourth consecutive Clasico defeat – the last three coming under Koeman.

The Dutchman is only the second Barca manager in history to lose his first three LaLiga games against Real Madrid, with Patrick O'Connell having suffered the same fate between 1935 and 1940.

With Barca ninth in LaLiga and third in their Champions League group, pressure is growing on Koeman as fans grow restless with the team's poor performances.

That unrest spilled over in the aftermath of Sunday's loss against Los Blancos, with a crowd of fans mobbing Koeman's car as he left the stadium.

Barca released a statement to deplore those actions and vowed to increase security in order to prevent a repeat.

"FC Barcelona publicly condemns the violent and disdainful acts that our manager experienced when leaving the Camp Nou," the statement read. 

"The club will take security and disciplinary measures so that such unfortunate events do not happen again."

Barcelona travel to face seventh-placed Rayo Vallecano on October 27 and will hope to bounce back from their demoralising defeat with a victory.

Massimiliano Allegri revealed he turned down Real Madrid in favour of a second spell with Juventus.

Allegri was appointed as Bianconeri boss in May after Andrea Pirio was relieved of his duties following a poor season, ending with the club only fourth in Serie A.

The experienced Allegri led the Turin giants to five consecutive Serie A titles, four Coppa Italia triumphs and two Champions League finals during his previous tenure.

Allegri, 53, on Tuesday revealed he could have taken over at Madrid before Carlo Ancelotti was appointed as head coach.

"I have to thank Real Madrid and the president for the opportunity he gave me [to coach Real Madrid]. Then I thought about it and chose Juventus," Allegri said during his presentation news conference.

"It was a gesture of love for a club that gave me a lot and who I enjoy coaching."

Inter's 2020-21 Scudetto triumph ended Juventus' nine-year spell of dominance in Italian football and Juve president Andrea Agnelli is hoping Allegri can reassert the Bianconeri's authority.

"It’s useless to present him and repeat what he’s won once again. Perhaps, the streak of Serie A titles he’s won is something impossible to equal," Agnelli added at Allegri's unveiling.

"We analysed what Juventus could have been with the return of Allegri, we agreed that it could have been a risky choice for both of us because of his glorious past and the expectations that he would bring.

"What Juventus can give is the right environment to reach these results. Every victory has been achieved thanks to hard work. As Max has said many times, winning is not for everybody.

"A new season begins, our target is to be competitive for every trophy in March, then we’ll see. Max is the coach of Juventus for the next four years because he has the credibility to write an exciting new chapter."

The Juve president took a dig at former head coach Maurizio Sarri, who had claimed the 2019-20 Scudetto he won in Turin was taken for granted.

"Here at Juventus, we work hard every day to achieve victories," Agnelli continued.

"We can’t take victories for granted, whoever thinks that the trophies we’ve won over the last few years have been less appreciated is wrong because, behind every trophy and every season, there is a great commitment, sacrifice and desire to win."

Agnelli also confirmed Giorgio Chiellini, who captained Italy to their first European Championship triumph since 1968 at Euro 2020, will sign a contract extension with the club.

Barcelona and Neymar have reached an amicable agreement to end their long-running dispute over the Paris Saint-Germain forward's contract.

The Brazil international had claimed he was owed €43.6million in unpaid bonuses by LaLiga giants Barca.

Neymar insisted he was due the huge sum as a loyalty bonus, having signed a new five-year contract with the Catalan club in 2016.

A judge ruled in Barca's favour in June 2020, ordering Neymar to pay his former employers €6.7m.

Barca on Monday revealed the case is now closed.

A club statement said: "FC Barcelona announces that it has extrajudicially and closed amicably different labour and civil litigations that had opened with the Brazilian player Neymar da Silva Santos Junior.

"Thus, the club and the player have signed a transactional agreement to end legal proceedings that were pending between both parties: three claims in the labour jurisdiction and one civil proceeding."

Neymar joined PSG for a world record fee of €222m in August 2017.

After a year's delay, Euro 2020 will finally get under way when Italy take on Turkey in Rome on Friday, June 11.

Some of the world's top talents will be on display in the month-long tournament, including the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe, Robert Lewandowski and Harry Kane.

But away from the elite players, there are a clutch of others looking to overshadow those aforementioned names and leave their own mark on the pan-European competition.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform picks out eight under-the-radar stars – those that would not necessarily be considered as one of the favourites for individual honours before a ball is kicked – ahead of the tournament.

 

Federico Chiesa (Italy and Juventus)

Juventus may have endured one of their worst campaigns in recent memory last time out, but Chiesa can hold his head up high after impressing in his first year at the Allianz Stadium.

He was the man for the big occasions, scoring a couple of goals in January's league victory over Milan and the winner in Juve's Coppa Italia triumph against Atalanta.

The 23-year-old was a regular threat down both flanks ​– only Benevento forward Riccardo Improta (77, 29.87 per cent) had more open-play crosses in Serie A last season with a higher success rate than Chiesa (69, 27.54 per cent).

That ability to both create and score goals, plus his never-say-die spirit – best embodied by his three goals in two legs of the Champions League last-16 knockout defeat to Porto – means he is already a fan favourite in Turin.

"He tries to ignite the fans at home on the couch to let them feel the game like the players in the pitch," former Juve striker Fabrizio Ravanelli told Stats Perform. 

"He always sends a strong message to Juventus fans, the true DNA of Juventus of never giving up like it says in the motto: 'Till the end'."

 

Alexander Isak (Sweden and Real Sociedad)

Whisper it quietly, but Sweden may have a new superstar forward emerging to rival the legendary figure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Isak's 17 strikes in 34 league appearances for Real Sociedad last season saw him become the Swede with the most goals in a single LaLiga campaign, surpassing Ibrahimovic's 16 for Barcelona in 2009-10.

He may be tall and blessed with great technical ability, but Isak is a lot different to Ibrahimovic – ruled out of Euro 2020 with a knee injury – in terms of his playing style.

And with clubs such as Barcelona and Manchester City reportedly keeping a close eye on the 21-year-old, it may well be one day that other youngsters from the Scandinavian country are described as 'the next Isak'.

 

Unai Simon (Spain and Athletic Bilbao)

Luis Enrique has not shied away from putting his faith in youth at the expense of those who have been there and done it, with veteran centre-back Sergio Ramos arguably the most high-profile omission from any squad at Euro 2020.

That is also true between the sticks, where 23-year-old Athletic Bilbao stopper Simon has usurped David de Gea to take control of the number-one spot.

Unlike Manchester United keeper De Gea and Chelsea's Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has not made the cut for Spain, Simon played regularly for his club side in 2020-21.

Indeed, the only Spanish goalkeepers to play more minutes last term in Europe's top five leagues than Simon (3,330) were Alex Remiro and Fernando Pacheco of Real Sociedad and Deportivo Alaves respectively.

Simon saved 63.3 per cent of the shots he faced in LaLiga in 2020-21, compared to 65.22 per cent for De Gea in 26 Premier League games, and the six-cap keeper will need to be at his best if Spain are to banish their demons from the 2018 World Cup.

 

Jamal Musiala (Germany and Bayern Munich)

Musiala switched international allegiance from England to Germany four months ago in the same week he became Bayern's youngest Champions League goalscorer at the age of 17 years and 363 days.

Despite strong competition for places, Musiala featured regularly for the German champions last season with 35 appearances in all competitions, albeit the majority of those outings being as a substitute.

The former Chelsea product made his first two appearances for Germany in March's World Cup qualifiers and only adds to a plethora of options available to Joachim Low in the final third.

Musiala may not be considered a regular just yet, but the stats suggest Low should perhaps consider using the youngster from the beginning of games.

Bayern's win rate increased from 62.5 per cent without Musiala in their side in the Bundesliga last term to 73.1 per cent with him, while their average goals for climbed from 2.5 to 3.0, and their passing accuracy in the final third went from 72.4 to 74.1.

Not so much a lucky omen, but a player who is clearly already good enough to make a telling impact on even the biggest sides.

 

Marcus Thuram (France and Borussia Monchengladbach)

No nation boasts a collection of forwards quite like France, who can call upon Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele, Wissam Ben Yedder, Thomas Lemar, Kingsley Coman, Olivier Giroud and the returning Karim Benzema.

What chance does Borussia Monchengladbach forward Thuram have, then, of ousting any of those players from the side?

While the 23-year-old may not be used as a regular starter, he will provide an intriguing option for spoiled-for-choice head coach Didier Deschamps to choose from off the bench for group games against Germany, Portugal and Hungary.

Thuram, the son of World Cup winner Lilian, certainly knows how to make the most of his minutes on the field and has the ability to score via a range of different ways.

All eight of his Bundesliga goals last term were scored inside the box, but they were shared between his right foot (three), left foot (two), head (two) and other means (one).

In fact, he was one of just nine forwards to start 20 games or fewer in Europe's top five leagues last season and still score more than once with his right foot.

 

Aleksandr Golovin (Russia and Monaco)

Monaco midfielder Golovin was plagued by injuries and illness in 2020-21 but still played a starring role in Monaco's unlikely Ligue 1 title bid that went down to the final game.

The 25-year-old found the net five times and set up nine more in 21 appearances, three of those goals coming in one game against Nimes in early February.

That made Golovin the first Russian to score a hat-trick in Europe's top five leagues since ex-Fulham striker Pavel Pogrebnyak in 2012.

He is undoubtedly the key creative talent in the Russia squad and, in a group that contains a defensively-strong Denmark and Belgium, plus Finland, it will likely be the Monaco man that holds the key to his side's hopes of progression.

His effectiveness with set-piece deliveries could be particularly vital.

 

 

Yusuf Yazici (Turkey and Lille)

Lille's incredible Ligue 1 triumph was down to a collective effort, but a few players certainly stood out for the shock title winners.

Look no further than breakthrough star Yazici, whose return of a goal every 153.71 minutes was the fourth best of any midfielder with at least five goals in Europe's top five leagues in 2020-21, trailing just Joe Willock, Lars Stindl and Musiala.

The 24-year-old scored seven league goals in total and netted the same amount in the Europa League, where Lille made it to the knockout stages before being eliminated by Ajax.

That includes a couple of three-goal hauls in the group stage as he became the first player to score an away hat-trick against Milan in all competitions since Rivaldo in October 2000 for Barcelona.

With experience of scoring in big matches and winning silverware with rank outsiders, Yazici will now be looking to guide many people's dark horses Turkey deep into Euro 2020.

 

Ryan Gravenberch (Netherlands and Ajax)

A member of the Netherlands' Under-17s European Championship-winning squad in 2018, Gravenberch has gone from strength to strength in the three years since and is now a regular in Ajax's central midfield.

Gravenberch also has two Eredivisie titles and two Dutch Cups to his name to go with that age-grade continental triumph, all before he even turned 19 last month.

The teenage talent, another product of Ajax's fabled academy, made his senior international debut earlier this year and has a chance of starting – or at least playing a prominent part in – the Oranje's quest for a second European Championship crown.

If nothing else, Gravenberch will certainly bring a level of calmness to the Dutch midfield.

He had a pass accuracy rate of 87.21 per cent in the Eredivisie last season – the only midfielders younger in Europe's top five leagues to play 20 or more times with a better return were Pedri (87.66) and Lucas Gourna-Douath (87.29). 

Alvaro Morata says he has no idea who he will be playing for next season amid reports the Spain striker is set to extend his stay at Juventus.

Morata returned to Juve on loan from Atletico Madrid for the 2020-21 season last September.

The Serie A giants have the option of bringing the 28-year-old back to Turin for the 2021-22 campaign on loan or signing him permanently for a fee of €45million - which would be paid in instalments.

It has been reported that Morata will head back to the Bianconeri on loan at the start of a new era under Massimiliano Allegri, who replaced Andrea Pirlo last week.

Yet that is news to former Real Madrid and Chelsea striker Morata as he prepares to represent Spain at Euro 2020.

Asked about his future, he told Radio MARCA: "I don't know. I'm here. Juanma [Morata's agent] is the one who takes care of everything.

"I don't have any news and tomorrow he will call me and say: 'here you have to play'. We have a house in Madrid and there we are very well.

"In the last six or seven years, it is the summer that I am calmer. When they decide, the calmer I will be."

Morata scored 20 goals in 44 games in all competitions for a Juve said that finished fourth in Serie A.

Barcelona assistant boss Alfred Schreuder insisted his side can still win La Liga despite missing the chance to leapfrog leaders Atletico Madrid.

The two sides played out a 0-0 draw at Camp Nou on Saturday that keeps Atleti two points ahead at the summit with three games of the season remaining.

However, the result opens the door for Real Madrid, whose head-to-head record means they could go top with a win over Sevilla on Sunday.

Schreuder, who took on the post-game media duties as a result of Ronald Koeman's two-match touchline ban, is confident Barca can still be champions.

He said: "We know that now we have to wait for the results of other games. 

"Let's see what Madrid does with Sevilla. We know that we depend on others, but it is still possible to win La Liga. 

"We are where we wanted to be three months ago."

Barcelona dominated possession but struggled to create too many clear chances against a typically obstinate Atletico backline.

Schreuder was not surprised by the pattern of the game but believes the hosts had enough opportunities to claim all three points, including a late Ousmane Dembele header that went over.

"We knew it would be a very difficult game, without a doubt," he continued.

"We had a good chance from Leo [Lionel Messi] in the first half, another from Dembele in the second. We had the ball. We knew that Atletico would be very defensive. 

"Obviously there is always an opportunity for the rival. Now we have to focus on the next game. 

"We wanted to win, but we are still in this position. We are two points behind Atletico."

Schreuder also provided an injury update on Sergio Busquets, who left the field after just over half an hour after suffering a blow to the face.

The Barca assistant said on the midfielder: "I just spoke with him and I think he's fine, but we have to wait for the results of the tests they are doing in the hospital.

"We had to reorganise the midfield. He always gives us confidence there and we have lost the organisation a bit."

Neymar's long-term commitment to Paris Saint-Germain has been in question at times. 

A return to Barcelona had been rumoured. 

Now the Brazil international is set to stay in the French capital.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR TO FINALISE PSG EXTENSION

Neymar is set to sign a new contract with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain this weekend, L'Equipe reports.

The four-year extension will be worth €30million (£26m) per season and run through 2026, nearly a decade after he arrived from Camp Nou for a record €220m fee. 

The signing would come days after a report that Barcelona approached PSG about Neymar, but the French club insisted he was not for sale. 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea are casting a wide net to bolster their attack, with Bild reporting Mohamed Salah is on Thomas Tuchel's shortlist along with Erling Haaland and Romelu Lukaku

- Zinedine Zidane may return to Juventus as head coach after Real Madrid's Champions League exit, Tuttosport reports, adding that the Real Madrid boss also is considering taking some time away from the sport. 

Georginio Wijnaldum's Liverpool deal expires in June and the midfielder could be on the way to Bayern Munich, Sport1 reports. 

- Memphis Depay remains a top target for Barcelona, but the Spanish giants could turn to Donyell Malen of PSV if they cannot land the Lyon star. 

- Marca claims Eden Hazard is on the way out at Real Madrid, with Los Blancos ready to listen to offers for the forward. 

- Jan Oblak could be moving to the Premier League this summer, with ESPN saying Manchester United are among the potential destinations for the Atletico Madrid goalkeeper. 

- Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard will sign for Leicester City, Teamtalk reported. The 23-year-old also has drawn inquiries from West Ham and Liverpool

- Aston Villa will offer £15million for Burnley's Dwight McNeil, Football Insider reported. McNeil is under contract through 2024. 

Barcelona target Sergio Aguero still has much to offer at the highest level, according to former Manchester City winger Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Aguero and City announced this week that the 32-year-old will be leaving at the end of the season after 10 glorious years.

The striker is out of contract at the end of a 2020-21 campaign City hope can end with a famous quadruple.

Barcelona have long been linked with a move to Aguero and are seen as favourites for his signature.

A switch to play in MLS has also been mooted but Wright-Phillips thinks it would be too soon for the Argentina star to make that step.

"For me, it would definitely be a bigger club [than one in MLS] - I don't think he'll go to the States just yet," Wright-Phillips told Stats Perform News when asked about Aguero's future.

"One hundred per cent, if he stays fit he's got a lot more to give. He still looks powerful, he still looks hungry.

"The games that I've watched that he's come on, he's made some excellent runs, and they didn't really get him the ball in those positions. 

"He's still got a lot to give, and I think he enjoys it. I don't see him sailing off to America just yet.

"I think [his future] kind of depends on how this season goes. 

"He's still in with a chance to win a Champions League medal, which if anyone deserves it, especially as a City player, it should be him. 

"That would just finish his career perfectly as a City player to win everything."

Injuries have restricted Aguero to only five starts across all competitions this season, but he is hoping to play a key part in the run-in before departing.

City have been linked with the likes of Erling Haaland and Harry Kane to replace Aguero, with Gabriel Jesus being the other main striker still at the club.

Wright-Phillips added: "To be honest, I was surprised [about the announcement].

"But when you get to a player like that, and he's getting old in football terms, he has not played probably as much as he wanted because of injuries or another reason that could have happened. 

"In his head he's probably just thinking he wants to play football. In a way I could kind of see it happening, but I'm devastated about it at the same time.

"If you look at his stats in general. He's scored I think 181 goals in the Premier League for City. He's got 257 goals for City in total. So he's a record breaker and you're always going to miss somebody like that. 

"As a fan it's devastating, you want to keep those players until they retire, and be selfish and not let anybody have them. But it's football isn't it, and sadly it always comes to an end."

Wright-Phillips was asked where Aguero ranked among all-time Premier League strikers, a debate that has attracted a host of opinions since the announcement.

The former England international added: "If you go on the stats, I would possibly put him in the top five and that's hard. 

"There have been so many amazing and world-class players with elite talent who are in the record books we're talking about. 

"The goals that he's scored, the one that stands out, the one that people always talk about in the game against QPR. It had to be him that scored it. 

"He was most probably the only person that would have scored that goal. Everything just worked out perfectly. 

"There where seasons when he didn't play all that much, he was injured, but he was still in the race for the golden boot and that says a lot for a striker. 

"He very rarely had purple patches or going so many games without scoring, until like this season when he's played hardly anything."

Real Madrid must do what is required to keep Sergio Ramos at the club, according to Jose Antonio Camacho.

Former Madrid player and coach Camacho believes keeping the 35-year-old with the Spanish champions should be a top priority.

Ramos is out of contract at the end of the season, having signed 16 years ago from Sevilla.

He has been linked with Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain, as well as a switch to MLS.

"Sergio Ramos is one of those players who was born to win everything," Camacho told Radio MARCA.

"I would like him to keep wearing the Real Madrid shirt.

"I would make an effort for him. All Real Madrid fans would like him to stay."

RAMOS STILL KEY TO MADRID

Ramos has only recently returned to action after two months out with a knee injury.

In LaLiga this season, the club have a better win percentage (66.7) with him than without him (61.5).

They have won 10 and lost just two of the 15 top-flight games he has played. In the 13 he has missed, Madrid have won only eight with three draws and two defeats.

There is not a huge difference in the average goals against with Ramos (0.9) and without (0.8).

Ramos' presence has made a more notable difference in the Champions League.

Madrid have won three and drawn one of the four games he has started. The other four matches have seen them lose twice.

A SLIGHT DECLINE?

There has, though, been a drop-off from Ramos in some defensive categories this season.

He is winning and making far fewer tackles per 90 minutes, albeit at a decent success rate.He is attempting 0.9 tackles per 90 minutes in all competitions, the first time he has dipped below 1 per game in his career, though he is winning 0.69 P90.

It is similar for blocks (0.32 P90), as he is at a career-low for that statistic, while 1.43 interceptions per game is his lowest total over the course of a season since 2008.

Raphael Varane, Nacho and Eder Militao are the club's other main centre-back options.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been linked with a sensational return to Real Madrid and Zinedine Zidane faced questions over the Juventus star's future on Friday.

It was reported this week that Ronaldo's agent, Jorge Mendes, had contacted Madrid over a potential switch back to the LaLiga champions.

Portugal captain Ronaldo is Madrid's all-time leading goalscorer after finding the back of the net a staggering 451 times in 438 matches before joining Juve on a four-year deal in July 2018.

Madrid boss Zidane could not escape the speculation at his latest media conference as talk over the possibility of the 36-year-old rejoining Los Blancos continues to rumble on.

"We all know what he means for the club, what he did for the club," he said.

"I coached Ronaldo, he's part of the club's history, his contribution was magnificent but right now he's a Juventus footballer and he's doing very well for the club and there's not much more I can add to all the things that have been said.

"He's a Juve footballer and I have to respect the club and the player."

Madrid host struggling Elche on Saturday knowing they have no margin for error in the title race, as they trail Atletico Madrid by eight points.

Zidane says relegation-threatened Elche must not be taken lightly.

"We know in the Spanish league there are no easy games really," said the former France playmaker. "You look at the league table and it doesn't tell the whole story.

"It's a club that are down near the bottom, but they are a very good side and have put in some very good performances this season in the league.

"Now with the new manager [Fran Escriba] things have changed. We expect a tough game and we know we've got to put in a great performance if we want to take all three points and that's our aim."

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