Ronald Koeman believes he was not afforded the same support successor Xavi has received from the Barcelona hierarchy and says he will not return to the club while Joan Laporta remains president.

In an interview with Dutch newspaper AD, Koeman also questioned why Lionel Messi had to leave Barca, only for the club to reinvest in new attackers under Xavi.

Koeman, who made 264 appearances for the Blaugrana as a player, was sacked as the club's head coach last October with the team sat ninth in LaLiga.

The former Netherlands boss has now opened up on his tenure in the Barca dugout, during which he battled with a dire financial situation and the departure of Camp Nou icon Messi, saying Laporta did not afford him the support he needed.

"I just wasn't Laporta's trainer," the 58-year-old said. "I had that feeling from the very first moment I met him, after he won the election [in January 2021]. There was no click. The necessary support from above was lacking.

"He told me a thousand times that Xavi would not become his trainer either, because he lacked the experience. But he needed a shield, someone to hide behind.

"You won't see me in the Camp Nou for a while, I can't do that yet. Not with this chairman. I can't pretend nothing happened.

"The time the new trainer was given was not given to me. I still find that painful. I was dealing with all those injuries, now Pedri is fit again, and Dembele. [Xavi] had the same problem as me in the beginning: many injured players.

"Every trainer needs time and patience from the leadership. Xavi got that, and reinforcements. He has gained three attackers [Ferran Torres, Adama Traore and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang], I would have liked that too.

"But I'm happy for the club, that things are going better now, and for the players."

 

Meanwhile, the Dutchman also admitted he was confused to see Laporta give the green light to the big-money signing of Torres in January, mere months after the club's financial crisis led to Messi's departure.  

"It was at the insistence of the club management that I agreed to the departure of some players," Koeman stressed. "In order to get the finances in order.

"But when you then see that they attract someone for 55million [the fee paid to Manchester City for Torres] shortly after they let Messi go, you wonder if there wasn't more going on.

"Why did Messi have to leave?"

The arrivals of Xavi and a host of new attackers have had a major impact on the Catalan club, and Barcelona go into Sunday's trip to Elche unbeaten in 10 LaLiga matches (six wins and four draws). 

This marks their longest unbeaten run in the competition since April 2021 (19 games), and the second longest current run in the competition (Sevilla are unbeaten in 12).

The Blaugrana are currently battling a host of clubs, including Atletico Madrid, Real Betis, and Real Sociedad, for Champions League qualification, sitting fourth in LaLiga with 13 games remaining.

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo has promised every effort is being made to persuade Kylian Mbappe to sign a new contract.

Mbappe, whose 14 Ligue 1 goals this term make him the Parisians' top scorer, has been strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid when his current deal ends in June.

Madrid have made no secret of their interest, with LaLiga president Javier Tebas recently stating his confidence that the French World Cup winner would move to Spain.

However, recent speculation has focused on whether Mbappe could yet be convinced to remain in the French capital, and he scored a superb solo goal against Madrid last month to put PSG ahead in the two-leg Champions League tie against his would-be suitors.

Speaking to L'Equipe, Leonardo said PSG would "try everything" to keep the 23-year-old, claiming money was not the key factor in negotiations.

"We have a possibility [to keep Mbappe]," former Brazil star Leonardo said. "As long as there is no signature [with another club], we will try everything, we will do everything possible to retain him.

"We did not send a specific offer. There is an important element: I think the last thing we will put into this contract will be the amount of money. It's not about that. We want to put him in the best condition so that he becomes the best player possible."

Mbappe netted twice in PSG's 3-1 win over Saint-Etienne last time out to move level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic's tally of 156 goals for the club, placing him joint-second in the Parisian giants' all-time goalscoring charts behind Edinson Cavani, who scored 200 times for the club.

 

Mbappe is also the only player in the French top flight to have hit double figures for both goals and assists this season, and Leonardo says that means he has now joined team-mate Lionel Messi among the finest players on the planet.

"Kylian is the best player in the world today," Leonardo said. "Messi has always been at this level, and for me he still is, but it's normal that others arrive.

"It's not a case of judging who is best. One is 23 years old, and the other is 34."

Mbappe's tally of 10 league assists this campaign places him level with Messi as French football's most creative forces, and the duo have helped the champions-elect on a run that has included just one loss in their last 17 Ligue 1 outings.

Phil Foden was inspired by Lionel Messi in his assist for Jack Grealish at Peterborough United, according to the Manchester City goalscorer.

Foden assisted both goals in City's 2-0 FA Cup win on Tuesday as they reached the quarter-finals of the competition for the fifth time in six seasons under Pep Guardiola.

A pass under pressure to Riyad Mahrez led to the breakthrough on the hour mark, but Foden's ball for Grealish really caught the eye.

His pinpoint delivery was controlled expertly by Grealish, who finished calmly before revealing time spent watching clips of Paris Saint-Germain superstar Messi had helped the pair.

"[The pass was] unbelievable," Grealish told ITV.

"It's funny – before the game, on the coach on the way here, I sit next to Phil, and I was scrolling through Twitter and a video of Messi came up, and it was Messi's passing. Me and Phil were just watching it.

"As soon as he passed that ball, obviously I scored and he came running over to me and said, 'It was just like what we were watching before the game'. Just like Messi, wasn't it?

"Obviously I have that kind of link-up with Phil. It's been a long time coming, because I don't think he's assisted me yet, but it was a good moment for myself."

The goal was Grealish's first in the FA Cup and only his fourth in a City shirt, although Guardiola had spoken before the match of disregarding "the statistics" when it came to his £100million man.

That theme has clearly been consistent in conversations between player and coach, although Grealish finished with a game-high five chances created.

"I expect more," he said. "I want to get a lot more, but I've been speaking with the manager a lot recently and he's been helping me.

"I want to get goals and assists, but he has said to me it's not all about goals and assists. I've played in a lot of big games this season that the manager's trusted me in that I haven't scored or assisted in, but I feel like I've done alright.

"For me personally, obviously I do want to get more goals and assists, but hopefully that will come now for the big part of the season."

Kylian Mbappe moved level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as Paris Saint-Germain's second all-time top goalscorer after he struck a brace in Saturday's 3-1 win over Saint-Etienne.

Mauricio Pochettino's side suffered a 3-1 defeat to Nantes in their previous top-flight game last weekend and they looked like they might be on the end of another surprise loss when Denis Bouanga put the visitors ahead early on.

However, goals either side of half-time from Mbappe – the second of which moved him level with Ibrahimovic on 156 goals – and a third from Danilo Pereira sealed all three points at the Parc des Princes.

The result meant PSG moved 16 points clear at the Ligue 1 summit, while Saint-Etienne remained in 16th, just one point outside the relegation zone. 

Saint-Etienne were rewarded for a bright start in the 16th minute when Bouanga picked Pereira's pocket just outside the penalty area and superbly fired past Gianluigi Donnarumma from 15 yards.

Messi was the provider for PSG's leveller three minutes before half-time, the Argentina international threading a wonderful pass into Mbappe, whose powerful strike from 10 yards proved too hot for Paul Bernardoni to handle.

Those two players combined to devastating effect two minutes after the restart, Messi jinking inside two players before laying the ball into the path of Mbappe, who drilled across Bernardoni to put PSG ahead. 

Pereira made amends for his earlier error with PSG's third in the 52nd minute, the Portuguese rising high at the back post to head home Mbappe's sumptuous cross with the outside of his foot. 

Neymar and Georginio Wijnaldum both struck the post late on, yet it mattered little as PSG comfortably saw proceedings out to return to winning ways with the minimum of fuss. 
 

What does it mean? PSG maintain fine home form

This comeback win means PSG have not lost any of their past 16 home games in Ligue 1, which is the best current run in the league.

The result also stretched their unbeaten run over Saint-Etienne to 26 matches, equalling the longest unbeaten streak in their history against an opponent (also 26 against Angers, which is an ongoing run since December 1976).

Mbappe up to joint second

Mbappe is now level with Monaco's Wissam Ben Yedder at the top of the Ligue 1 scoring charts with 14 goals after his brace here. Barring injury, he will unquestionably move clear of Ibrahimovic in PSG's all-time rankings, yet whether he breaks Edinson Cavani's record of 200 goals for the club depends on whether he moves to Real Madrid at the end of the season.

Messi in generous mood

Goals have been hard to come by for Messi since his move from Barcelona, but he is having no such problems creating them for his team-mates. He has now recorded six assists in Ligue 1 since the turn of the year, which is more than anyone else in the top five European leagues.

What's next?

PSG visit Nice next Saturday, while Saint-Etienne host Metz a day later.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino is unconcerned by recent wastefulness in front of goal and believes his star-studded attack will soon click.

PSG suffered just their second league loss of the season at Nantes last week, going down 3-1 despite creating plenty of chances and finishing the match with an expected goals (xG) of 3.8, with Neymar missing a second-half penalty after the Parisians had found themselves three goals down.

The Ligue 1 leaders also missed a penalty in their recent 1-0 Champions League win over Real Madrid, with Lionel Messi failing to beat Thibaut Courtois on a night where they had 1.88 xG to their opponents' 0.14.

However, Pochettino has faith that his attacking endeavours will be rewarded.

"I'm not worried when we don't score. I would worry if we didn't get chances," Pochettino told a news conference ahead of this weekend's game with Saint-Etienne.

"We have talented players, who can score at any time. 

"This week, we emphasised work. We must improve the balance in our play, the defensive transitions, controlling space. 

"With the team we have, there is no doubt in my mind that we'll find that clinical streak."

 

Although PSG boast a 13-point lead at the top of Ligue 1, they have won just five of their last 10 league games, drawing four and losing one. 

Meanwhile, with defender Sergio Ramos close to resuming training after a calf injury, Pochettino expressed his frustration at the injury woes which have blighted the Real Madrid legend this season, with Ramos making just two Ligue 1 starts since joining the club last summer.

"The person who suffers most from him not being available to play is him," the PSG boss added.

"We are trying to help him. We have great medical staff who are trying to give him the best possible treatment to deal with this type of situation. We're here to give him moral and psychological support. 

"It's always difficult for an injured player. A footballer needs to be part of the competition, of the squad too, on big days. All of that creates cohesion with the squad."

PSG are looking to defend a proud record against Saint-Etienne in their next outing, having won 42 of their 80 Ligue 1 games against them (25 draws and 13 losses). Only against Metz have they won more top-flight matches (43).

Napoli head coach Luciano Spalletti believes Barcelona still "have the same quality" without Lionel Messi, and has also drawn comparisons between Victor Osimhen and Diego Maradona.

Spalletti's side host Barca on Thursday in the second leg of their Europa League knockout round play-off, with the tie finely poised following a 1-1 draw in the first leg, which was the Blaugrana's first appearance in Europe's secondary competition since the 2003-04 season.

In those 18 years in between, Barca have lifted the Champions League four times, with Messi playing a starring role as he amassed 672 goals across 778 appearances in all competitions.

The Argentina international departed on a free transfer at the end of last season for Paris Saint-Germain amid well-documented financial complications at Camp Nou, but Spalletti does not think Xavi's new-look side are any worse off without the forward.

He told reporters at Wednesday's pre-match news conference: "Barcelona are really strong. They had Leo Messi, but they have the same quality now, with great players everywhere on the pitch. 

"Our target is to have a team that will remain in the fans' minds. We must fight. 

"Those who fight can lose, but who doesn't even fight has lost already. We need to take risks, command and show what we want to do, otherwise they'll force us to defend deep.

"It will be a tough game, we'll have to be like soldiers in a video game. A battle to conquer a position. Earn space, or you'll be shot and die."

Spalletti suggested before the first leg that Napoli and Barcelona legend Maradona would be looking down hoping his former Italian side can secure victory.

The Italian head coach referenced the Argentine great again, this time suggesting he could see similarities between his star forward Osimhen and Maradona.

"With that header against Cagliari, he proved to have a sort of animal fury which is much-needed in key moments," he added on Osimhen, who scored a late equaliser in his last outing.

"Maradona had the same thing and somebody else should have it in our team. 

"You can see Osimhen has it when he faces his opponents. He has outstanding characteristics and some extra qualities that are not easy to find in other players.

"We can become a team worthy or Maradona. He liked spectacular football and I am sure he'd like to see it tomorrow."

Gonzalo Higuain is hopeful his former Argentina team-mate Lionel Messi will one day join him in Major League Soccer.

Higuain is preparing for his second full season in MLS with Inter Miami, having joined from Juventus in September 2020.

Although the striker's goalscoring exploits had regressed slightly towards the end of his time in Europe, Higuain was still regarded as a major coup for both Inter and MLS, where his older brother Federico has plied his trade since 2012.

MLS has previously been considered a competition where fading stars from Europe went to see out the remainder of their careers, with the likes of Thierry Henry, Andrea Pirlo, David Villa and Steven Gerrard all doing just that.

But the perception is changing slightly – it is becoming a proving ground for young talent, a viable stepping stone to Europe for South American players and even a place for established European stars who are still at the height of their powers.

Napoli forward Lorenzo Insigne highlighted the shift last month by agreeing an end-of-season move to Toronto despite being virtually in his prime. While any MLS switch for Messi, already 34, would look a little more like a final pre-retirement move, Higuain reckons he would enjoy himself.

"It is a very important league and it is growing a lot," Higuain told Stats Perform.

"Important players are coming and I think that in the future it will continue to grow much more.

"I hope [Messi goes to MLS] because it would be a benefit for MLS and for the country, and if he so wishes he would have fun and be happy here."

Inter begin their 2022 MLS campaign at home to Chicago Fire on Saturday, with the David Beckham-backed franchise hoping to enjoy a major improvement from last season.

Phil Neville's side finished 11th in the 14-team Eastern Conference in 2021, a place above Saturday's opponents, while their points total of 41 was better than only six teams across the two MLS divisions.

It would seem Inter may have struggled even more were it not for Higuain, who scored 12 times. His haul of nine non-penalty (np) goals matched up well with his np-xG (expected goals) of 8.7, suggesting the team could really profit from dependable finishing if the service to him improves.

And bettering that return in front of goal is high on Higuain's list of priorities.

"We are fine, looking forward to [the start of the season] and very excited," he said. "It's so close now, let's hope it goes better than last year and we learn from the mistakes made so that this year it doesn't happen again. We are excited to have a good year.

"I want to improve my numbers, which I did my whole career, improve year after year. I hope that this year I can do better to help the team qualify [for the playoffs] and be able to compete for MLS.

"I hope I can improve my numbers, that's my goal and that's what I've prepared this pre-season."

Lionel Messi has expressed his enjoyment at developing a partnership with Kylian Mbappe at Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi departed Barcelona on a free transfer last August to move to the Parc des Princes, where he joined up with former Blaugrana star Neymar and France international Mbappe.

The Argentina international has managed just two goals in 15 Ligue 1 appearances for Mauricio Pochettino's side, who sit 13 points clear at the summit of the French top flight.

Despite a lean run of scoring form, Messi acknowledged how grateful he is to be playing with some of the world's best players, including talisman Mbappe.

"[Angel] di Maria and Ney[mar] I know them from before [at Barcelona and Argentina]," Messi said in an interview with PSG's media that was released on Tuesday.

"With Kylian it was the one I didn't know and little by little we get to know each other much more and within the field to try to relate better, to see how we feel comfortable with each other. 

"I was lucky to be with the best at Barcelona and today at PSG too, I'm happy and looking forward to continuing to do so."

Mbappe leads PSG's scoring charts this season, with 17 goals to his name across all competitions.

Since his debut for PSG in September 2017, only Robert Lewandowski (151), Messi (125), Ciro Immobile (118), Cristiano Ronaldo (116) and Mohamed Salah (110) have found the net on more occasions than Mbappe (103) across Europe's top-five leagues.

Meanwhile, from that same group only Lewandowski (80.55) can boast a better minutes-per-goal ratio than Mbappe's 99.99.

However, there is speculation the Frenchman may leave for Real Madrid when his contract expires at the end of the season.

But Mbappe showed no loyalties to Carlo Ancelotti's team just yet, with his impressive solo goal proving the difference in a 1-0 triumph over Madrid in the first leg of PSG's Champions League round-of-16 clash.

While Pochettino's side have to navigate a trip to the Spanish capital to secure their quarter-final berth, Messi believes PSG are equipped to win the competition.

"Winning the Champions League is difficult, it is a competition where the best are, any detail can leave you out," he added.

"So many great clubs and teams compete, we have a team to try to achieve it. We are very excited and we want to be able to do it but we have to go with peace of mind. 

"The best team does not always win and you have to be aware of all the details, the strong teams are the ones that achieve their goals."

Paris Saint-Germain fell to just their second defeat of the Ligue 1 season as Mauricio Pochettino's side were beaten 3-1 by Nantes at Stade de la Beaujoire.

Goals from Randal Kolo Muani, Quentin Merlin and a Ludovic Blas penalty handed the home team an incredible 3-0 half-time lead, with goalkeeper Alban Lafont starring for the hosts.

Neymar pulled one back immediately after the restart before seeing a soft penalty effort saved on the hour and Nantes held on for the win, moving into fifth place in the French top-flight.

PSG remain well clear at the top of Ligue 1, but this was not how Pochettino will have envisaged following up their impressive 1-0 win against Real Madrid in the Champions League in midweek.

Nantes took a shock lead just three minutes into the game with Kolo Muani rounding off an efficient break by flicking home just seconds after Juan Bernat had forced a good save from Lafont.

The Nantes stopper made an excellent save from Lionel Messi moments later, before Merlin fired a stunning left-footed strike into the top corner from the edge of the area on 15 minutes, his first goal of the season.

Lafont denied Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, and Idrissa Gueye in an inspired performance, before Dennis Appiah had a red card correctly overturned after a VAR check. 

Another VAR intervention gave Nantes a penalty before half-time that Blas hammered home after Georginio Wijnaldum's clumsy handball.

Sergio Aguero intends to go the World Cup in Qatar and hopes it will be as part of Argentina's backroom staff. 

Former striker Aguero experienced chest pain in a match against Deportivo Alaves in October and it was determined he had a career-ending heart issue. 

However, the 33-year-old still wants to be part of Argentina's campaign in Qatar this year and hopes a role can be found for him. 

"I'm going to go to the World Cup. We are going to have a meeting this week. I want to be there," he told Radio 10 in Argentina.

"The idea is for me to join the coaching staff. I spoke with [head coach Lionel] Scaloni and also with [Argentine Football Association president] Claudio Tapia. 

"We have to try to give it a go to see what can be done." 

Aguero joined Barcelona in the hopes of playing alongside close friend Lionel Messi after the pair helped Argentina end their 28-year wait for a senior international trophy at the 2021 Copa America. 

Yet the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner ended up completing an incredible switch to Paris Saint-Germain. 

Messi came in for criticism following his display in the Champions League last-16 first-leg victory over Real Madrid, which was decided by a solitary Kylian Mbappe goal after the 34-year-old had failed to convert a penalty.

"How are the French media going to kill Messi? Leo played well. Were they watching the game backwards? Leo always plays five levels above," said Aguero.

 

Barcelona are still adjusting to life without Lionel Messi, so says Frenkie de Jong, who has no intention of leaving the Blaugrana any time soon.

De Jong joined Barca from Ajax in 2019, arriving with high expectations as the Catalan giants planned to push on following their LaLiga success under Ernesto Valverde.

Yet over the subsequent two-and-a-half years, the club have suffered a significant dip in fortunes, with a lone Copa del Rey title and Messi's exit among the highs and lows since.

De Jong has played under Valverde, Quique Setien and Ronald Koeman before working under current coach and Barca legend Xavi.

He has been linked with a move away from Barca over the last season, but he remains thrilled to be at the club he wanted to play for as a boy, even if the silverware has not flown as freely as it might have done.

"I'm very happy I'm at Barcelona: from a young age I've wanted to be here, so in that way it has been a dream come true," the Netherlands international told The Guardian.

"But, of course, I would have liked to win more trophies than we did in my first two years. I expected more in that sense, let's put it that way. But other than that, I'm very happy here and hopefully for many more years."

Learning to live without Messi, who ended his career-long association with the club to move to Paris Saint-Germain last year amid financial difficulties, has been tough, though.

"I never took it into serious consideration, so when it happened it was a shock," De Jong explained.

"It was a heavy blow for everyone. We still miss him."

One club great that has helped shape De Jong this term is Xavi though, after the ex-Blaugrana star succeeded Koeman. 

"We're both midfielders, roughly in the same position, so in that regard he can teach me a lot," De Jong said. "Every coach has his own details, of course."

Barcelona play Valencia this weekend in LaLiga, as they look to solidify their hold on fourth-place ahead of champions Atletico Madrid.

Lionel Messi is set to make the 800th senior appearance of his illustrious club career after being named in Paris Saint-Germain's squad to face Nantes.

The Argentina maestro is joined by Neymar in Mauricio Pochettino's 22-man travelling party for the trip to Stade de la Beaujoire, where the Ligue 1 leaders would move 16 points clear at the top with victory on Saturday.

Should he feature, as would be expected, Messi will reach the latest milestone of his glittering career, over 17 years after Frank Rijkaard handed him his Barcelona debut against Espanyol in October 2004.

The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner would make his 22nd appearance for PSG since joining from Barca on a free transfer, having scored seven times so far.

Messi, the Blaugrana's record appearance maker and scorer, played 778 times for Barca in all competitions, netting 672 goals.

Under Pep Guardiola, Messi played more games (219) and scored more goals (211) than with any other coach, while he is one of only two players to have netted 100 Champions League goals, with his tally of 125 behind only Cristiano Ronaldo's 140.

The 34-year-old is also approaching 1,000 career appearances, having won a record 158 caps for Argentina since his debut in 2005.

Meanwhile, Neymar is in contention to make his first start since suffering an ankle injury against Saint-Etienne in November.

The Brazil international, who returned as a substitute during Tuesday's Champions League win over Real Madrid, has endured a series of injury issues since his own move from Barcelona to Paris in 2017.

Indeed, he has failed to make over 20 Ligue 1 starts in a single season to date. 

Mauricio Pochettino has moved to defend Lionel Messi after the Paris Saint-Germain forward's missed penalty against Real Madrid.

Although Kylian Mbappe's superb late winner put the Parisians on the brink of the Champions League quarter-finals, Messi's performance in the first leg drew criticism.

Since his first season in the competition (2004-05), no player has missed more Champions League penalties than Messi, who has failed with five spot-kicks.

But speaking ahead of PSG's Ligue 1 trip to Nantes on Saturday, Pochettino launched a strong defence of his fellow Argentinian.

"Messi is the best in the world," said former Tottenham boss Pochettino. "A player like him, with his experience, and what he means, is the essence of football.

"If you want to explain to someone what football is all about, it is Leo Messi.

"In no way will missing a penalty affect his confidence, that is impossible. If anyone thinks that, they do not understand this sport. 

"I am pleased with his performance. He played well [against Madrid], which was down to his ability to link difference pieces together on the pitch.

"Leo Messi is football."

Messi has struggled for consistency during a stop-start first season in French capital, netting just two league goals from an expected goals tally of 5.82, a notable underperformance of over three goals.

The former Barcelona captain was joined on the pitch against Real Madrid by Neymar, as the substitute provided the assist for Mbappe's match-winning strike with a sumptuous backheel.

Pochettino has confirmed the Brazilian is now in contention to make his first start since suffering an ankle injury against Saint-Etienne last November.

"Neymar could start [against Nantes]," Pochettino said on Friday.

"He has been doing well in training, and he has been very focused at every stage of his recovery, showing his commitment to get back to his best level and help the team.

"We hope that he is over these problems now, and through playing competitive games, that he can reach his best level."

Neymar has suffered a plethora of injury issues since making his own move from Barcelona to Paris in 2017, failing to make over 20 Ligue 1 starts in a single season to date. However, he has managed 59 goals and 34 assists in his 80 league appearances for the capital club.

Kylian Mbappe's name continues to dominate the transfer columns as he nears the end of his Paris Saint-Germain contract.

While Mbappe's future beyond this season remains uncertain, PSG appear to already have plans in place should he depart.

And if one superstar forward leaves the French capital, another could arrive in his place.


TOP STORY – PSG TO BRING IN RONALDO

According to The Mirror, PSG are looking to bring in Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United should they be unable to convince Mbappe to sign a new big-money deal.

Ronaldo only returned to Old Trafford last August, but the 37-year-old is said to be considering his future after an underwhelming campaign.

Should Ronaldo be tempted to move to Ligue 1, having already plied his trade in the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A, he would get the chance to link up with Lionel Messi.

The pair have 12 Ballons d'Or between them and are regarded as two of the greatest players of all time.

ROUND-UP

- United are not expecting Paul Pogba to make a U-turn on his future by signing a new deal, according to the Manchester Evening News. The France international is set to become a free agent in four months' time and has been linked with PSG and former side Juventus.

- El Nacional claims that Chelsea are plotting a bid for Barcelona youngster Gavi. The Blues will reportedly have to pay £42million (€50m) to land the teenage midfielder, with other teams across Europe also showing an interest.

- Tottenham striker Harry Kane wants assurances that boss Antonio Conte will be backed in the next transfer window, suggests The Sun, after the Italian questioned the club's recruitment policy. That comes amid fresh rumours that Kane is considering his own Spurs future.

- According to Calciomercato, Real Madrid are ready to push ahead with plans to sign Kieran Tierney from Arsenal. Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti previously tried to sign Tierney during his time in charge of Napoli, but the Scottish left-back instead opted for the Gunners. 

- Manchester City are on the verge of getting a £5.4m deal over the line for Brazilian winger Savinho, says Fabrizio Romano. A medical is rumoured to have already been scheduled for the 17-year-old, who has impressed for Atletico Mineiro.

Kylian Mbappe fittingly scored a brilliant last-gasp winner as Paris Saint-Germain beat Real Madrid 1-0 in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Much of the build-up to the match focused on Mbappe, given the expectation that he will join Madrid at the end of the season, and he ultimately made the difference at the Parc des Princes.

It looked as though PSG were going to be frustrated, as the France striker had previously been thwarted on a few occasions by Thibaut Courtois, who also saved a Lionel Messi penalty that Mbappe won.

But with time almost up, Mbappe finally got his goal to give PSG a slender advantage ahead of the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

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