Chelsea's midfield targets in the upcoming transfer window have left a potential opening for Real Madrid in pursuit of N'Golo Kante.

The France international reportedly knocked back a move to Paris Saint-Germain in the January window, but midfield rejuvenation is a priority for Madrid.

While Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos have been mainstays in the middle at the Santiago Bernabeu, Kante would bring new energy to the Spanish giants.

TOP STORY – KANTE LINED UP AS REAL MADRID SOLUTION

The transfer market domino effect could lead Kante to Madrid, AS has reported.

While both Madrid and Chelsea are in the race to sign Aurelien Tchouameni, the Blues also have an interest in Declan Rice, which could open up the possibility of Kante leaving.

The 31-year-old is coming into the final year of his contract, leaving Madrid with potential leverage to force Chelsea's hand.

While Kante has seen extensive time on the sidelines this season, missing game time through a combination of COVID-19, groin and knee troubles, he could be Madrid's top target if they fail to land Tchouameni.

ROUND-UP

– Barcelona are keen to sign 30-year-old Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season, Sport reports.

– Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is confident the club will be able to keep Antonio Rudiger alongside Cesar Azpilicueta, who triggered a contract extension, per Goal.

– Bild is reporting Bayern Munich have commenced talks over a new deal for Thomas Muller, with his contract expiring at the end of next season.

– Erik ten Hag is the favourite to become the new Manchester United manager, with the Ajax coach seeing a move to the Premier League as a progression in his career, according to Sport1.

Barcelona are reportedly too restricted by LaLiga financial rules to enter the race for the world's best players, even after inking a deal with Spotify worth up to $235million.

Xavi's side have gone from strength to strength recently, finding form and re-establishing Barcelona as a prime destination, with a number of strong signings rumoured to be heading to Camp Nou in the next transfer window.

While there may be interest in bringing in the biggest names in the world, Barcelona supporters will likely need to lower their expectations.

TOP STORY – BARCELONA OUT OF SALAH RACE

It was reported that Barcelona have interest in signing Liverpool's Mohamed Salah, but The Daily Mirror claims that it will not be possible due to LaLiga's financial rules.

Salah – who boasts 28 goals and 10 assists in 36 matches for Liverpool this season – is likely to fetch a price similar to Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, who Barcelona president Joan Laporta ruled out when talking with RAC 1, as well as Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, due to the lofty figures.

While Barca may not be willing to fork out €100m for a single signing, they are rumoured to have agreed to terms with Robert Lewandowski, who could fetch up to €60m at 33 years old, as well as Franck Kessie and Cesar Azpilicueta, with further interest in Ajax's Antony and Manchester United's Paul Pogba.

ROUND-UP

– Borussia Dortmund are interested in signing Premier League strikers Timo Werner and Anthony Martial from Chelsea and Manchester United, according to 90Min.

– According to The Sun, Newcastle United are keen on signing Watford's Ismaila Sarr in the upcoming transfer window in a deal believed to be worth around £35m.

– Leeds United have placed an asking price of £67m on Brazilian winger Raphinha, per The Daily Mirror, with The Athletic also reporting that the club insists his only release clause is triggered if the Whites are relegated from the Premier League.

– Calciomercato is reporting that Arsenal and Atletico Madrid will be competing for the signature of Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez, with the Italian club said to be interested if the fee hits £58m.

– According to Mundo Deportivo, Paulo Dybala is interested in joining Atletico Madrid when his contract expires after this season, and while Inter also have interest, they would need to sell Martinez to do so.

Barcelona's rebuild under Xavi has shown positive signs, but a new striker appears to be a priority going forward.

Following Sergio Aguero's retirement in December, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang arrived during the January transfer window and quickly excelled under Xavi, but his position may yet come under threat.

Memphis Depay remains the club's top scorer this season, netting 10 times in all competitions, yet one potential signing guarantees goals.

TOP STORY – LEWANDOWSKI SETTLES ON BARCELONA MOVE

Barcelona have reportedly reached an agreement with Robert Lewandowski.

Sport claims the Poland striker wants to leave Bayern Munich for the Catalan giants, but they will have to convince Bayern to sell him.

The 33-year-old's contract expires at the end of next season and he is yet to agree to an extension in Bavaria.

Lewandowski has scored 45 goals in all competitions this term, and Barca are reportedly willing to pay as much as €60million to bring him to Camp Nou for next season.

ROUND-UP

– Tottenham are leading the race to sign Memphis Depay, per reports in Mundo Deportivo.

– Napoli have set a price tag of €100million for striker Victor Osimhen, according to Corriere dello Sport.

– The Mirror is reporting Ainsley Maitland-Niles is expected not to be retained by Roma, on loan from Arsenal.

 Inter show continued interest in Torino's Gleison Bremer, with talks in progress with a defender also linked to Milan, per Fabrizio Romano.

Gareth Southgate insists Jordan Pickford has "always played well" for England and backed the Everton goalkeeper to continue as the Three Lions' number one.

Pickford's place in Southgate's side has been called into question throughout his time as first choice, though the form of Aaron Ramsdale for Arsenal this season has resulted in increased examination of who deserves to play between the posts.

Everton's form has not helped, with the Toffees struggling in 17th place in the Premier League and having conceded the joint fifth-highest number of goals in the competition this season (47).

Pickford, meanwhile, has conceded 44 of those goals, from 25 appearances. Even if he has been a relatively consistent performer in a disappointingly inconsistent Everton side, only three Premier League goalkeepers have conceded more so far this season, though the 28-year-old has been kept busy, with his 85 saves ranking as the sixth-highest.

His save percentage of 65.9 is the seventh-lowest of goalkeepers to have featured at least 10 times in the top flight, and is way down compared to Ramsdale's impressive 76.3 per cent.

Pickford has, however, slightly overperformed his expected goals on target conceded (xGOT), by 0.6, though Ramsdale again comes out top in this metric, with a goals prevented figure of 3.3.

 

Yet on the international stage, Pickford is still Southgate's undisputed number one. He made three saves as England came from behind to beat Switzerland 2-1 in a friendly at Wembley on Saturday, including a stunning stop from Fabian Frei when the visitors were 1-0 up.

"He's always played well for us and he has a good focus with us," Southgate told a news conference.

"He has a very good relationship with [goalkeeper coach] Martyn Margetson, who I think does an excellent job with him. So, he knows the structure around him. He knows clearly how we want him to play.

"There is competition for everybody's position and that's what we want. We don't want people just sitting, thinking confidently that there's no competition that doesn't help a team.

"I think the form of the other goalkeepers is important. But he showed again, big saves at important moments."

Pickford has kept 20 clean sheets from 43 England appearances, conceding 32 times and not making a single error that has resulted in a goal.

Indeed, at Euro 2020, he kept five clean sheets – more than any other goalkeeper – while his save percentage (88.9) was also the best in the competition.

 

"I thought he was very calm with the ball," added Southgate. "That allowed us to relieve the pressure by going back and out of the press.

"Of course, he's got every club in the bag because he can go long, which is a problem for teams as well. So a very good performance from him, especially the saves in the first half."

The Premier League statistics this season do not back up claims of Pickford's reliable distribution, however, with his passing accuracy of 48.9 per cent ranking the third worst of goalkeepers with over 10 Premier League appearances.

That data could be skewed slightly by the fact that only Burnley's Nick Pope has attempted more long passes this season (581 compared to 544), with Everton have preferred a more direct approach under previous manager Rafael Benitez.

Arsenal continue their rejuvenation under Mikel Arteta, but a striker is becoming a positional need.

After his relationship with Arteta soured, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left for Barcelona during the January transfer window and has found verve under Xavi.

Although Alexandre Lacazette has been a compatible fit for Arsenal, he and Eddie Nketiah are out of contract at the end of the season, and the Gunners may look to Old Trafford. 

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL TO MOVE FOR RASHFORD

Arsenal are preparing an approach for Manchester United star Marcus Rashford in an attempt to bolster their stocks up front, according to The Mirror.

The Gunners were linked with a number of forwards during January, including Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Real Sociedad's Alexander Isak, but it appears Rashford's status at Old Trafford has shifted following United's Champions League exit.

The 24-year-old has one year plus an option for a further season on his current deal, but appears to be a peripheral figure under interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

Rashford has made just 10 starts in the Premier League this season and scored only five goals across all competitions. 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City and Real Madrid are in best position to sign Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, but the 21-year-old has rejected City's first offer, AS reports.

- Barcelona could offer versatile defender Oscar Mingueza as part of a package to land Leeds United winger Raphinha, Sport has reported.

- Juventus have shown their interest in Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger as they aim to replace Giorgio Chiellini, according to The Sun.

- The Daily Mail are reporting that Inter are keen to sign Juve's Paulo Dybala, who will be out of contract at the end of the season and is not having his deal renewed.

Barcelona have re-established themselves this term after a strong January transfer window.

Barca head coach Xavi, appointed in November, has overseen a major form reversal culminating in last week's 4-0 Clasico win.

The Blaugrana have their sights set on more additions as they continue to re-build after Lionel Messi's exit last year.

TOP STORY - BARCELONA SET SIGHTS ON SALAH

Barcelona boss Xavi is determined to land Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah , claims Mundo Deportivo.

The cash-strapped Catalans have switched their attention from the race for Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

Salah is yet to re-sign with Liverpool where he is out of contract in 2023.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta said he will not put the club at financial risk in order to sign Erling Haaland, per Fabrizio Romano for Mundo Deportivo.

 

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool will not pursue West Ham United's Declan Rice amid interest from several clubs in the England international midfielder, claims Football Insider.

- Leeds United has rejected a £29million bid from  Barcelona  for 25-year-old Brazilian winger  Raphinha , whose release clause is set at £60million, according to Sport.

- Arsenal midfielder  Granit Xhaka  remains a transfer target for  Roma head coach Jose Mourinho, per the Gazzetta dello Sport.

- According to the Daily Mail, Wolves and Portugal winger  Pedro Neto  is on  Paris Saint-Germain's  wanted list.

Bukayo Saka has withdrawn from the England squad for upcoming friendlies against Switzerland and Ivory Coast after testing positive for COVID-19.

Saka had been isolating from the rest of the squad at St. George's Park since Wednesday, but the decision has now been taken for the 20-year-old to return home.

Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate will not call up a replacement for the Arsenal forward.

Saka has made 33 appearances for the Gunners in all competitions this season, scoring 10 goals and registering five assists.

Southgate has already had to make several changes to the initial squad named, with Kyle Walker-Peters, Tyrick Mitchell, Ollie Watkins and Sam Johnstone all being drafted in to replace unavailable players.

Johnstone himself then also had to be replaced by Fraser Forster on Wednesday after withdrawing through illness.

England welcome Switzerland to Wembley on Saturday before also hosting Ivory Coast on Tuesday as preparations continue for the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

Argentine forward Paulo Dybala is set to exit Juventus at the end of this season.

As a result, the Bianconeri are assessing their options for a replacement.

Juventus are currently fourth in Serie A after an excellent run of results which have put them into the title picture.

TOP STORY – ZANIOLO FRAMED AS DYBALA REPLACEMENT 

TuttoMercato claims Juventus have set their sights on Nicolo Zaniolo as Dybala's replacement, with the Roma attacker unlikely to renew with the Giallorossi before his contract expires in 2024.

The first domino in this instance is Dybala, whose contract expires at the end of this season. Juventus have no intention of extending according to Fabrizio Romano. Romano claims the 28-year-old will not move another club in Serie A, opening up a move to long-time suitor Tottenham.

According to TuttoMercato, Juve have chosen Zaniolo as their replacement and would be ready to make a move in the upcoming transfer window. Whether they can manoeuvre to match his current market value of €40million remains to be seen, however.

ROUND-UP

- Per Sky Sports, Manchester United have narrowed their shortlist for a permanent manager down to Ajax's Erik ten Hag, Sevilla's Julen Lopetegui, Spain boss Luis Enrique and Paris Saint-Germain's Mauricio Pochettino .

- Inter have targeted Edinson Cavani as a replacement for Alexis Sanchez, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Calciomercato reports Arsenal will make a move for Arthur in the upcoming transfer window, as contract negotiations with Juventus have broken down.

- Arsenal are also keen to tie Bukayo Saka to a long-term contract, in attempts to fend off outside interest for the 20-year-old, per The Athletic.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been heavily linked with an early exit from Manchester United this season.

The Red Devils are out of the Premier League title race and struggling to make the top four.

There is said to be tension surrounding Ronaldo due to Ralf Rangnick's appointment as interim manager.

TOP STORY - RONALDO RE-COMMITS TO MAN UTD

Ronaldo will stay with United next season with interim manager Rangnick set to depart, reports AS.

The 37-year-old forward has committed to United, whom he joined in August on a two-year deal with the option for a third season, as he is confident they will show their ambition by making a major appointment with their new permanent manager.

United were eliminated from the Champions League this week by Atletico Madrid and are struggling to reach next season's edition, sitting fifth in the Premier League.

ROUND-UP

- Jesse Lingard has been offered to Italian clubs Milan and Roma as he prepares to leave United as a free agent, reports Nicolo Schira. West Ham  and Newcastle United are also interested in the 29-year-old England international.

- Benfica have slapped a £67million price tag on striker  Darwin Nunez , who is being pursued by Manchester United , Arsenal , Liverpool and Newcastle ,   according to The Mirror.

- Foot Mercato reports  Arsenal will enter the race to sign Real Madrid winger  Eden Hazard , with Chelsea previously linked to their former player.

- Fichajes claims  Atletico Madrid are considering a move for Athletic Bilbao head coach Marcelino should Diego Simeone opt to leave the Spanish champions.

Antonio Rudiger's future at Chelsea has been the topic of plenty of speculation.

The 29-year-old centre-back has been with the Blues since 2017 when he joined on a five-year deal.

Rudiger is yet to extend his contract with Chelsea, with plenty of interest in the Germany international.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE AND MAN UTD IN FOR RUDIGER

Newcastle United are ready to compete in the race to sign Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger, claims the Telegraph.

The Germany international has drawn interest from Real Madrid while the Express reports that Manchester United are also considering a move for the defender.

Rudiger's contract with Chelsea expires at the end of this season, although he has not ruled out staying at Stamford Bridge.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Express claims Harry Kane has informed his Tottenham team-mates that he will remain with the club should they clinch a top-four spot and Champions League football.

Arsenal may move to re-sign Serge Gnabry from Bayern Munich, who previously spent four years with the Gunners, according to Football.London. Gnabry is valued at €75million (£63m).

Arsenal, along with Leicester City, have sent scouts to track Sassuolo forward Domenico Berardi, according to Nicolo Schira. The Italians are asking for €30m for their club captain, with interest from Napoli and Milan also.

- FootMercato claims Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea are considering moves for Manchester City's Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez.

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

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

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

TOP STORY - RONALDO COURTS MOVE TO MESSI'S PSG

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

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

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

 

ROUND-UP

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

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

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

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

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

Georginio Wijnaldum only joined Paris Saint-Germain in June but is reportedly unsettled.

The 31-year-old Dutch midfielder had signed a three-year deal with the Parisians.

Wijnaldum has been linked with several clubs given his situation.

TOP STORY – VILLA PLOT WIJNALDUM MOVE

Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa are considering a move for PSG's Wijnaldum , claims Sport.

Gerrard is keeping tabs on ex-Liverpool midfielder Wijnaldum, who is reportedly ready to leave PSG whom he joined less than 12 months ago.

The Villans were quoted with a £21million price tag for Wijnaldum who is contracted until 2024.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca claims that 35-year-old Luis Suarez will leave Atletico Madrid at the end of this season, with Inter, Ajax and Sevilla pursuing him along with unnamed Brazilian clubs.

- Newcastle United will table a £50m offer for Bayer Leverkusen's French winger Moussa Diaby,  according to the Mail. Leverkusen have set a £75m valuation for Diaby.

- PSG want to re-sign Italy international forward Moise Kean, who is currently on loan at Juventus from Everton, claims Calciomercato. Kean was on loan at PSG last season, netting 17 goals in 41 appearances.

- Football Insider reports that Arsenal are monitoring Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins as a cut-price forward option if moves for Alexander Isak, Dominic Calvert-Lewin or Darwin Nunez fail to materialise.

Arsenal boosted their Premier League top-four hopes with a 3-2 win at Watford, as Bukayo Saka starred in a match containing five terrific goals.

Martin Odegaard opened the scoring when he capped a scintillating move on five minutes, before Watford's Cucho Hernandez went one better with a fantastic overhead kick after 11 minutes.

The lively Saka finished into the top corner after half an hour, before Gabriel Martinelli wrapped up the three points by finishing sweetly from outside the area after the break – although Moussa Sissoko's late response did keep the Gunners on their toes.

Prior to Manchester United's derby against Manchester City later on Sunday, Arsenal moved up to fourth in their pursuit of Champions League qualification for the first time since 2016.

Watford had the ball in the net after just 17 seconds in a frantic opening, but Emmanuel Dennis was narrowly offside and the visitors took an early lead instead, with Odegaard finishing neatly on his left foot after playing a superb give-and-go with Saka.

The Hornets needed just six minutes to respond, however, as Hernandez met Kiko Femenia's right-wing cross in acrobatic style to give Aaron Ramsdale little chance.

After Ramsdale almost spilled Dennis' shot to Joao Pedro, Arsenal reclaimed the lead when Saka bent a shot into the top corner from Alexandre Lacazette's backheel.

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta has defended the decision to let Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang join Barcelona and not replace the striker in January.

The Gunners allowed Aubameyang to depart on a free transfer in the last window after stripping the 32-year-old of the captaincy following a disciplinary issue.

The Gabon international, who reportedly agreed a significant pay cut to move to Barca, did not play for Arsenal after December 6, but has started in an impressive run of form for the Catalan club.

Aubameyang netted a hat-trick in a 4-1 thrashing of Valencia, becoming just the fourth player to score in LaLiga, the Premier League, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 in the 21st century.

He followed that up with strikes against Napoli and Athletic Bilbao to make him LaLiga's first African player to score in three games in a row in all competitions, since Youssef En-Nesyri for Sevilla in March 2021.

But Arteta does not regret the decision to let the forward leave, despite the Gunners appearing short-handed with just Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah to call upon up top.

"We always make decisions in the best interests of the club and to get the best performances from the team," Arteta told Sky Sports when asked about Aubameyang's exit.

"We made that decision as three parties. One was the club, one was Auba, and the other was Barcelona. The three of us believed it was the right thing to do.

"That was a possibility, but I think when you have a clear direction and process of how you make your decisions, you have to be ruthless."

Looking at how the decision angered some Arsenal supporters, Arteta added: "You have to have a certain courage and consistency in those decisions.

"If one decision is to only bring in players we can afford, who are going to make the team much better straight away, and who are sustainable for our future, then that should be the case.

"So, even if you are tempted to do something, but you think it's going to bring you trouble in the coming months or years, you should not do it. I think we were brave not to do it."

Indeed, Arsenal have improved markedly since Aubameyang's departure, winning seven of nine top-flight games since the last time the former Borussia Dortmund star played.

Lacazette has filled the void that Aubameyang left, with his role in Jose Sa's late own goal securing a 2-1 win over Wolves in their last outing, and Arteta has been pleased with the 30-year-old, who has taken on the captaincy for now.

"Laca has a really important quality, which is that he makes the people around him better," Arteta said. "He understands the game really well, he's a really intelligent player and his work-rate is phenomenal.

"I think he's been very unlucky not to score another four, five, six goals in this period. We want to give him the confidence and he will do that but, for me, he scored last week against Wolves. He was there to make the final action to win the match."

Arsenal will look to continue their pursuit of the Champions League qualification spots when they travel to strugglers Watford on Sunday.

Chelsea have enjoyed an unrivalled period of success across Roman Abramovich's near two decades as owner at Stamford Bridge.

From their five Premier Leagues and two Champions Leagues, plus last month's Club World Cup triumph, the Blues have won it all under the Russian billionaire.

But amid mounting political pressure following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Abramovich is reportedly open to selling Chelsea for the first time.


TOP STORY – THREE PARTIES INTERESTED IN BLUES 

According to The Telegraph, at least three parties are circling Chelsea in the belief that Abramovich is ready to walk away.

Abramovich announced on Saturday, a day before the Blues' EFL Cup final loss to Liverpool, that he is taking a step back from his duties as owner.

The report indicates that Chelsea are bracing themselves for bids as early as this week as a changing of the guard at Stamford Bridge becomes a realistic possibility.


ROUND-UP

- Manchester City have ramped up their interest in Borussia Dortmund's in-demand striker Erling Haaland, according to The Express. City chief Txiki Begiristain is said to have recently met with agent Mino Raiola to discuss the signing of Haaland.

- Ralf Rangnick has been ruled out of the running to become Manchester United's next permanent boss. The Sun claims that Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag, in charge of Paris Saint-Germain and Ajax respectively, are the two men being considered.

- Sky Sports News reports that Antonio Rudiger's representatives remain in constant dialogue with Real Madrid and PSG over an end-of-season transfer. Chelsea want to keep hold of the defender, but they have been unable to agree fresh terms. 

- According to football.london, Arsenal are eager to reward Bukayo Saka with a new deal at the end of the campaign. The England international is already under contract at Emirates Stadium until July 2024.

- Atletico Madrid midfielder Hector Herrera will see out the remainder of the 2021-22 LaLiga campaign before making the switch to Houston Dynamo in MLS, Fabrizio Romano suggests. Herrera has made 14 appearances this term and is a regular for Mexico.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.