Paris Saint-Germain right-back Achraf Hakimi believes Real Madrid "did not want to bet" on him before he left the Santiago Bernabeu for Inter in 2020.

The Morocco international moved to San Siro on a permanent deal having spent two years on loan at Borussia Dortmund for a fee in the region of €40million, before another big-money switch to PSG a year later for around €68m.

Hakimi will face his old club in the Champions League on Tuesday when Madrid visit Parc des Princes for the first leg of their round-of-16 tie, and he insists that despite only making nine LaLiga appearances for Los Blancos, he has no ill feelings towards them.

Speaking in an interview with Marca ahead of the game in Paris, Hakimi said: "It is a nice game to play and as you know it is a team I have in my heart for everything they have given me. They made me as a person and as a player, and they made me learn. We are going to prepare very well for the match."

When asked why he left the Spanish giants, he replied: "It is true that when you join Madrid for the first time you come from playing for the Castilla and it is normal that the club does not bet on you so much because you are a young player. 

"But then when I left for Dortmund, I went on loan and had two great seasons and I had to come back and decide. And then Madrid, I think, were still not betting on me, although I was able to keep playing at a high level. 

"And then when I left for Inter after being transferred there was also a purchase option for Madrid and they didn't execute it either, so I think Madrid didn't want to bet as much on me as other clubs. And I'm happy because I think these clubs were not wrong to bet on me."

The 23-year-old has had six goal involvements (three goals and three assists) in 27 appearances in all competitions this season for Mauricio Pochettino's side, and says he has settled well in Paris.

"The truth is that I feel very comfortable, as though at home. The people have received me very well, the club, the fans... Even before I came, I could already feel the affection, the club bet on me and made great efforts.

"The coach too, we had quite a few conversations and he gave me his confidence. The players have also received me very well and tell me to always be calm and enjoy myself. That's why I also feel good with them, and I give my best."

Hakimi was also pleased to be reunited with another former Madrid player, Sergio Ramos, who joined PSG on a free transfer at the end of last season.

Ramos – who won multiple trophies in the Spanish capital, including five LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues – has only played five games for PSG due to injuries and suspension since arriving in France, but Hakimi believes he will be an important player at the club.

"We had [been together] at Real Madrid and he treated me very well despite being young and coming from the academy. We have a very good friendship," Hakimi said.

"The truth is that he surprised me that he left Real Madrid, but I'm happy to have him with us... I know he's going to make us grow a lot because he's a leader and an experienced player. He is going to be good for PSG."

The pursuit of 21-year-old Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland is well known.

Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester United and Bayern Munich have all been linked with Haaland.

The race is set to heat up, with Haaland reportedly holding a €75 million (£68m) release clause in his Dortmund contract which triggers at the end of the current season.

TOP STORY – MAN CITY LEAD THE WAY IN HAALAND RACE

Football Insider reports that Man City are in the box seat to sign Haaland in a major development with his father Alf-Inge Haaland's connection with the club.

Alf-Inge played with City from 2000 to 2003 and is telling Erling to join the club ahead of other suitors.

City's Abu Dhabi owners are set to launch a concerted pursuit for the Norwegian and will be able to meet his release clause.

Madrid 's bid to sign Haaland may be aided by Adidas, who are associated with the club and looking to bring him on board, after his deal with Nike expired at the end of January.


ROUND-UP

- ESPN reports that Lyon are preparing a significant offer for Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette, whose contract expires at the end of this season. Lacazette joined the Gunners from Lyon in 2017.

- El Nacional claims that Madrid are open to selling Brazilian midfielder Casemiro, who is being targeted by PSG. Casemiro is a regular but his sale may open up funds for moves for Kylian Mbappe and Haaland.

- Franck Kessie will depart Milan when his contract expires at the end of this season, reports Calciomercato, with Barcelona entering the race to sign the midfielder, and Tottenham also interested.

- Sport claims that Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta already has an agreement in principle to join Barcelona on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season.

- Edinson Cavani will exit Manchester United at the end of his contract in June, with Spain his preferred destination rather than returning to South America according to Fabrizio Romano.

Mauricio Pochettino has called for "unity" at Paris Saint-Germain following fan protests during their 1-0 win over Rennes on Friday.

PSG were made to work hard for their three points against the only team to have beaten them in Ligue 1 so far this season.

Kylian Mbappe eventually scored in the 93rd minute, but that strike did little to appease frustrated supporters.

The Collectif Ultras Paris group sent a powerful message as one end of the Parc des Princes was left empty for half an hour at the start of the match, while various banners were later unveiled.

The supporters took issue with a range of issues relating to their club, with PSG's indifferent displays this term – despite a 16-point lead in the league – not helping matters.

This comes as PSG prepare for their biggest match of the season at home to Real Madrid on Tuesday in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

"We need unity," Pochettino said, speaking after the Rennes game. "The fans are very important for a club and they have the right to express themselves, but we need unity.

"We are entering an important moment of the season and we need to be together.

"As I always say, we can sit down at the end of the season to try to correct things, because there are probably things to improve so that our club continues to be one of the biggest in the world."

On the pitch, there remains a clear contrast between PSG's brilliant back-line and a blunt, expensively assembled attack.

The leaders have kept five consecutive home Ligue 1 clean sheets under the same coach for the first time since Unai Emery's side had six in a row in 2016.

And PSG's unbeaten run in the league has now stretched to 15 in the longest active sequence across Europe's top five leagues.

But Pochettino's men had just one shot on target across the entire match, which saw only two including one for Rennes – the lowest total in a Ligue 1 game this season.

A little too accustomed to leaving it late, that sole effort on target was Mbappe's goal and meant PSG have now earned eight points thanks to strikes from the 90th minute onwards.

A late goal from Kylian Mbappe saw Paris Saint-Germain extend their lead at the top of Ligue 1 to 16 points with a 1-0 win against Rennes on Friday.

The PSG number seven had been his team's brightest spark but had to wait until the 93rd minute for a trademark goal from Lionel Messi's pass to spark relief at the Parc des Princes.

To that point, this had hardly been a performance from Mauricio Pochettino's men to leave their upcoming Champions League opponents Real Madrid quaking in their boots.

But Mbappe made the difference against the only side to have beaten PSG in the league so far this season.

Keylor Navas was forced to tip the ball behind in the seventh minute when Benjamin Bourigeaud's volley into the ground threatened to loop in before the goalkeeper intervened.

Mbappe was predictably a thorn in the side of the away team and came close to giving PSG the lead late in the first half when he bent a shot just wide of the far post from the left corner of the penalty area and then hit the post shortly afterwards.

The dynamic Mbappe had the ball in the net on 64 minutes when he raced onto a Messi throughball and rounded Dogan Alemdar before slotting in, but the flag went up and the goal was chalked off.

It looked like the hosts would have to settle for a point only for Messi to find Mbappe just inside the penalty area, and he made no mistake as he placed a low shot past Alemdar and into the net past Alemdar's.

Things have not quite gone to plan for Cristiano Ronaldo in his second coming at Manchester United.

The Red Devils are out of both domestic cup competitions and sit well off the pace of Premier League leaders Manchester City, making an unlikely Champions League triumph their remaining hope for silverware this season.

Ronaldo is enduring a five-game goal drought and, according to a report, he could choose to end his second United spell after only one season.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO WANTS MENDES TALKS OVER FUTURE

Cristiano Ronaldo will speak with his agent after growing disillusioned with life at Manchester United, according to the Daily Star.

The forward is hoping to speak with Jorge Mendes when he is back in Portugal for March's World Cup play-off against Turkey about his options after the end of the season.

Ronaldo, whose contract runs until the end of 2022-23, wants to see who will be appointed as United's next permanent manager – but he is not in favour of giving the job to interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

ROUND-UP

- Paul Pogba is also looking to leave Manchester United this year when his contract expires, but he will have to accept a pay cut to get a move abroad that he wants, the Mirror says.

- A possible replacement for Pogba could be Youri Tielemans. Het Nieuwsblad reports Leicester City have dropped their asking price for the midfielder, who is wanted by United and Arsenal.

Real Madrid rejected the idea of signing Dusan Vlahovic, now at Juventus, because they are putting everything into getting Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, says Cadena Ser.

- However, AS reports Madrid are still seriously interested in Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, which could scupper Robert Lewandowski's hopes of moving to the Spanish capital.

Juve defender Matthijs de Ligt is flattered by interest from Chelsea and Barcelona, Sport Mediaset claims.

Barca are also desperate to sign Haaland and will therefore prioritise cut-price deals for defenders, says ESPN. Chelsea trio Cesar AzpilicuetaAndreas Christensen and Marcos Alonso are on their shortlist.

Manchester United remain on the lookout for a full-time manager, three months on from sacking Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Ralf Rangnick has taken interim charge until at least the end of the campaign, but some mixed results have hampered his hopes of landing the job permanently.

A number of names have been linked with one of football's most prestigious positions, though one candidate is seemingly favoured by the players.

 

 

TOP STORY – UNITED STARS FAVOUR POCH APPOINTMENT

Mauricio Pochettino remains the favourite to succeed Solskjaer as United's next permanent boss and, according to The Express, that is an appointment that will go down well.

The Red Devils' first-team stars are said to have made clear that Pochettino, who is under pressure a year into his time with Paris Saint-Germain, is their preferred option.

Ajax boss Erik Ten Hag is another candidate to lead United forward from next season, but there are concerns over his lack of experience in English football.

 

ROUND-UP

- While there is uncertainty over who will be in charge at United next season, the Premier League heavyweights are pushing ahead with transfer plans. Sport1 reports that Borussia Dortmund defender Manuel Akanji is one of those being targeted.

- Memphis Depay could be on his way out of Barcelona less than a year after arriving at Camp Nou. Sport claims that Barca have other attacking options in mind, with Dortmund superstar Erling Haaland still on their radar.

- Inter remain in talks with Ivan Perisic over a new contract at San Siro. According to Nicolo Schira, the Croatia international is close to putting pen to paper on an extension that will run through until July 2024.

- Calciomercato reports that Milan are planning talks with the representatives of Lille centre-back Sven Botman. The highly rated defender has been touted as a target for numerous clubs across Europe, most notably Newcastle United.

- Chelsea have not given up hope of tying Antonio Rudiger down to a new deal, according to Goal. It is claimed that the Germany international has been offered close to £200,000 a week to turn down interest from Real Madrid and PSG.

Gianluigi Donnarumma stands by his decision to leave Milan for Paris Saint-Germain despite having to share goalkeeping duties with Keylor Navas since arriving in France.

Italy's Euro 2020 hero Donnarumma has only made 10 league starts since joining PSG on a free transfer last year, while Costa Rican competitor Keylor Navas has appeared between the sticks in 13 of the side's Ligue 1 outings.

Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Donnarumma, who made 215 Serie A appearances at Milan after coming through the Rossoneri's youth ranks, thanked his former club for their role in his development, but stressed that he was happy with life at PSG.

"I can only thank the club for what they did for me", the 22-year-old said. "I improved as a man and as a footballer in Milan.

"I think PSG was in my destiny.

"They had been following me for many years and have always made sure I knew about their interest. Everyone at the club makes me feel important, from President Al-Khelaifi to director Leonardo. I am happy and proud to be here.

When asked about his competition with Navas, Donnarumma responded: "I knew that this was the situation when I signed with PSG.

"I don't know what he [Navas] thinks, but I am okay with it because everyone here always makes me feel important.

"It's not true that we are not on good terms, there is an excellent rapport between us, he is a good guy and there are no problems."

Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland and Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe remain arguably the two most sought-after players in world football.

The pair, who boast 43 goals in 50 games between them this season, have inevitably been linked with an array of Europe's top clubs ahead of the next transfer window.

And it may well be that one replaces the other at PSG in the coming months.


TOP STORY – HAALAND AMONG PSG TARGETS

L'Equipe reports that Haaland is one of a handful of players being eyed up by PSG, who are growing increasingly concerned that Mbappe will join Real Madrid on a free transfer.

However, the Ligue 1 giants are said to have made tying down Mbappe to fresh terms their main priority between now and the end of the season.

Should the World Cup winner depart, PSG would then have to see off competition from the likes of Madrid, Barcelona and several Premier League teams for Haaland's signature.

ROUND-UP

- Harry Kane failed in his attempt to force through a move from Tottenham last year, but Fabrizio Romano claims the striker is now happy to stay under Antonio Conte.

- After further enhancing his reputation by firing Senegal to Africa Cup of Nations glory, Goal reports that Sadio Mane is open to leaving Liverpool ahead of next season.

- According to Fabrizio Romano, Madrid are eager to finalise terms with Luka Modric over a new deal that will run through for an additional season until the end of 2022-23.

- Ajax are prepared to tempt Barcelona into allowing Sergino Dest to return to the club by offering Nicolas Tagliafico in exchange. That is according to reports from Spain.

- Calciomercato reports that Milan are close to agreeing a four-year extension for full-back Theo Hernandez, who is currently due to be out of contract in July 2024.

Karim Benzema leads the LaLiga scoring charts this term with 17 goals.

But Real Madrid are set to revamp their attacking options if transfer speculation is true.

Benzema turned 34 in December and is contracted until 2023.

TOP STORY – BENZEMA CONCERN ON MADRID FUTURE

Madrid top scorer Benzema has requested a meeting with president Florentino Perez over concerns on his future with Erling Haaland's potential addition, reports Onze.

Los Blancos are set to be bolstered by forwardKylian Mbappe's arrival in the off-season to form an attacking trio alongside Benzema and Vinicius Junior.

But Haaland's potential move from Borussia Dortmund has left Benzema fearing he may lose his spot.

ROUND-UP 

- Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger is being lined up by Bayern Munich as their ideal replacement for Niklas Sule, claims Fichajes. Sule has confirmed his exit to Borussia Dortmund for next season.

- Juventus have a new plan ahead of fresh contract talks with Paulo Dybala, according to Calciomercato. Dybala is unsigned beyond this season.

- Manchester United and Brazilian giants Flamengo have agreed to a £12m fee for the permanent sale of Andreas Pereira, reports Universo.

- Atletico Madrid, who are looking to replace the departed Kieran Trippier, are set to make a €30m offer for Aston Villa full-back Matty Cash, claims Mundo Deportivo.

- Calciomercato reports that Milan still have an eye on Club Brugge's Dutch talent Noa Lang.

Lionel Messi scored his first Ligue 1 goal since November as Paris Saint-Germain routed last season's champions Lille 5-1 at Stade Pierre Mauroy.

Ending a six-game drought in the competition, Messi produced a cunning finish for PSG's third goal, with Danilo Pereira netting twice and Presnel Kimpembe also on target before Kylian Mbappe's sumptuous 20-yard strike rounded off the scoring.

The Parisians' 1-0 defeat to Lille in April last season was a pivotal result in the title race, with Lille finishing a point clear of Mauricio Pochettino's team to be crowned champions.

Sunday night's result keeps Lille mired in mid-table this time around, while PSG hold a 13-point lead over second-placed Marseille.

The visitors took a 10th-minute lead when goalkeeper Ivo Grbic fumbled a cross from the left whipped in by Nuno Mendes, spilling the ball and allowing Pereira to poke home.

Messi curled wide from 20 yards for PSG, but it was Lille who snatched the game's second goal, Sven Botman beating Gianluigi Donnarumma with a bouncing shot from 10 yards after Hatem Ben Arfa made a nuisance of himself, wriggling into the box from the left flank.

PSG restored their lead in the 32nd minute when Messi's corner from the right was prodded in at the far post by Kimpembe, for the defender's first league goal this season.

Messi had his goal six minutes later when he collected the leftovers from an Mbappe charge, spotting a gap between Lille defenders and darting through before cheekily chipping Gbric.

PSG's fourth after 51 minutes saw Pereira's 25-yard strike deflect off Amadou Onana and deceive Grbic. 

There was then little the goalkeeper could do about Mbappe's classy finish, as the France star, stepping in from the left, curled the ball into the far-right corner for the visitors' crowning glory.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino says finding the right balance will be key when his side face Lille on Sunday.

The Ligue 1 leaders travel to Stade Pierre-Mauroy aiming to regain their 13-point cushion at the summit of the French top-flight.

PSG are also seeking a response from their Coupe de France exit at the hands of Nice time out, when on-loan goalkeeper Marcin Bulka's penalty shoot-out heroics denied his parent club.

Reigning champions Lille, who find themselves in 11th place following a disappointing attempt at a title defence, have only lost once in their last four home games against Pochettino's side.

And though PSG are nevertheless favourites to take three points, Pochettino knows that his team cannot go full-throttle in attack in every match, even with such supreme talent at their disposal.

"We are moving forward step by step, match by match," he said.

"Of course, we are disappointed with the last result and with the elimination from the Coupe de France on penalties against Nice. We lost and we have to accept it. 

"We want to get back into the swing of things, so playing a good team like Lille is a positive thing. 

"All the teams that play against Paris Saint-Germain are very motivated, so it will be complicated. 

"We will have to find the right balance between defending well, playing and being effective; that will be the key. 

"It will be important because there are three points at stake, and we want to keep our lead over our rivals. We have to move forward, we have several objectives ahead of us that require a lot of energy."

Neymar celebrated his 30th birthday on Saturday, yet the Brazil star is still recovering from injury, while Sergio Ramos, Mauro Icardi and Georginio Wijnaldum will all miss the trip, with Keylor Navas a doubt.

Manchester United's search for a new full-time manager continues.

Ralf Rangnick has been in interim charge at Old Trafford since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's dismissal in November.

English powerhouse United have failed to win any silverware since 2017

 

TOP STORY - MAN UTD CONFIDENT ON LANDING POCHETTINO

Manchester United have renewed confidence that they will land Paris Saint-Germain head coach Pochettino as their new boss, claims The Mirror.

The Argentine is understood to be United's number one candidate for the permanent role.

Footmercato claims Pochettino is tired of the constant criticism he has received at PSG and will not stay beyond this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City are on verge of tabling an offer to Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland to make him one of the highest paid players in the Premier League, according to Todofichajes.

- The Sun reports that Arsenal are planning for a £180 million off-season spend, with Real Sociedad's Alexander Isak, Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Wolves' Ruben Neves among their targets. However, this is dependent on Arsenal finishing top four.

- Chelsea will open pre-contract agreement talks with Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele after he failed to make a deadline day move, claims Sky Sports. 

- Chelsea are also eyeing a move for Real Madrid defender Eder Militao as they plan for the departures of Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger, according to AS.

- Juventus and Milan are leading the race to land Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo reports Sky Italia. Roma are looking to cash in Zaniolo in the off-season, with Tottenham also interested.

 

When the next transfer window opens, Erling Haaland's future will be a hot topic.

The 21-year-old striker has two years remaining on his Borussia Dortmund contract.

But there is a £65million (€75m) release clause that enables him to talk to clubs who can meet that valuation from this off-season.

 

TOP STORY - CITY READY TO RAMP UP HAALAND ADVANCES

El Chiringuito claim that Real Madrid's interest in signing Haaland has waned as they focus on landing Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain.

Madrid have been heavily linked with Haaland once his release clause becomes active, along with Barcelona, PSG, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City.

City "will do what they can" to persuade Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland to join them in the off-season despite believing they are not front-runners, reports The Athletic.

ROUND-UP

- ESPN claims that Manchester United have asked Paul Pogba to delay a decision on his future until they have appointed a permanent manager. Pogba's contract is up in June and he has been linked with PSG and Juventus.

- Chelsea have shortlisted West Ham United's Declan Rice, Sevilla's Jules Kounde and Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni as off-season targets, claims The Athletic.

- Newcastle United plan to re-ignite their interest in Lille's 22-year-old defender Sven Botman, who is worth £35m (€42m) according to The Mirror.

- Arsenal turned down approaches from Newcastle and Crystal Palace for Eddie Nketiah in the closing days of the January transfer window reports Fabrizio Romano. Nketiah has six months remaining on his Gunners deal and could sign a pre-contract elsewhere.

Mauricio Pochettino was made to rue Paris Saint-Germain's lack of creativity during their Coupe de France exit to Nice.

The holders crashed out of the competition as they lost 6-5 on penalties following a goalless draw at Parc des Princes.

PSG loanee Marcin Bulka was the hero during the shoot-out, saving penalties from Leandro Paredes and Xavi Simons to end his parent club's 14-match unbeaten streak in the competition.

Despite registering 10 attempts and 68.2 per cent of possession, Pochettino's side failed to score in the competition for the first time since defeat by Lille in the 2011 showpiece.

Pochettino urged his players to switch focus to their domestic and continental endeavours after a disappointing result.

"We were better than Nice overall," he said. "We didn't create enough chances to score goals and win this game before the penalties. 

"We should have been more efficient in the last few metres. Then, it's a lottery.

"Even though we were better, we didn't do what was necessary to win the game. 

"We must remain optimistic: we still have Ligue 1 and the Champions League as objectives."

Pochettino also defended his decision to start Kylian Mbappe on the bench, before introducing the France international in the 64th minute.

"Kylian Mbappe had physical discomfort in the last days few days," he added.

"With the advice of the medical staff, the agreement was that he would not start the match. If he needed to do 30 or 35 minutes in the game, he could do them."

Paris Saint-Germain crashed out of the Coupe de France as they were beaten 6-5 on penalties by Nice after a 0-0 draw at Parc des Princes.

Marcin Bulka was the hero as he denied Leandro Paredes and Xavi Simons in the shoot-out to send the visitors through to the quarter-finals.

The PSG loanee ended the holders' 14-match winning run in the competition, while halting their quest for a third straight triumph.

Mauricio Pochettino's side also failed to score in a Coupe de France tie for the first time since losing 1-0 to Lille in the 2011 final.

Unbeaten in their eight previous meetings with Nice in all competitions, PSG welcomed Lionel Messi back into the starting line-up for the first time in a month.

The Argentina skipper was involved in the hosts' best chance of the first half as he combined with Ander Herrera to tee up Marco Verratti, who swept a shot just wide of the far post.

At the other end, Amine Gouiri tried his luck with an ambitious effort from distance, but it flew straight into the arms of Gianluigi Donnarumma.

The Italy international was also called into action just after the restart, producing smart reflexes to deny Justin Kluivert from a tight angle.

Having watched his side register just a single shot on target, Pochettino introduced Kylian Mbappe in the 63rd minute for his 200th PSG appearance.

But it was the visitors who went close to snatching a dramatic winner, Danilo Pereira blocking Kluivert with five minutes remaining, while Jean-Clair Todibo got in the way of Messi's goalbound effort at the other end.

The first five kicks of the subsequent shoot-out were successful before Bulka kept out Paredes' tame effort, although Donnarumma immediately denied Andy Delort in return.

Dante's timely Panenka put Nice in control as it went into sudden death, before Simons' attempt was beaten away by Bulka.

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