The creation of a European Super League took a step closer to reality on Sunday as 12 leading clubs agreed plans for a new competition.

Six English clubs, three Italian sides and three Spanish teams have joined forces to create a tournament which has long been in the offing, despite significant opposition from UEFA and the respective leagues.

Reigning European champions Bayern Munich and last season's Champions League finalists Paris Saint-Germain are not included, though it is said the competition plans to expand to 15 teams before its inaugural season, which will start "as soon as practicable".

The Premier League's "big six" are the teams to have signed up alongside Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Milan and their city rivals Inter.

It is an announcement which comes just before UEFA was set to confirm its intentions to alter the format of the Champions League from 2024 onwards. 

UEFA, along with Europe's top five leagues and corresponding football assocations, all strongly emphasised their opposition to the proposal, and vowed to sanction those involved.

Yet a statement released on Sunday read: "Twelve of Europe's leading football clubs have today come together to announce they have agreed to establish a new mid-week competition, the Super League, governed by its Founding Clubs.

"AC Milan, Arsenal FC, Atletico de Madrid, Chelsea FC, FC Barcelona, FC Internazionale Milano, Juventus FC, Liverpool FC, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid CF and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined as Founding Clubs. It is anticipated that a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season, which is intended to commence as soon as practicable.

"Going forward, the Founding Clubs look forward to holding discussions with UEFA and FIFA to work together in partnership to deliver the best outcomes for the new League and for football as a whole."

The European Club Association (ECA) has joined UEFA in condemning proposals for a new European Super League.

Widespread reports emerged on Sunday of an agreement in place between 12 European clubs to form a breakaway competition.

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter, Milan, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal are the clubs involved, although confirmation is still pending.

Reigning European champions Bayern Munich, along with last season's Champions League finalists Paris Saint-Germain, were not included.

UEFA, Europe's top leagues and football associations confirmed their opposition to the proposal, which drew a mass of criticism from pundits and fans alike.

With UEFA set to announce changes to the format of the Champions League from 2024 onwards on Monday, the ECA reiterated its commitment to those proposed alterations, and insisted it would stand against a Super League.

An emergency meeting of the ECA was held on Sunday. According to reports, none of the 12 teams making up the proposed breakaway competition responded to invitations to attend, though PSG and Bayern were represented. 

"In light of today's reports on the subject of a so-called breakaway league, the ECA as the body representing 246 leading clubs across Europe, reiterates its stated commitment to working on developing the UEFA Club Competitions (UCCs) model with UEFA for the cycle beginning 2024 and that a 'closed super league model' to which media articles refer would be strongly opposed by the ECA," a statement read.

The ECA statement went on to outline the body's intention to "work with UEFA on a renewed structure for European Club Football as a whole post 2024", before concluding that "the ECA Executive Board will be convening over the coming days to take appropriate decisions in light of any further developments".

Plans for a European Super League are set to be announced on Sunday, drawing the ire of Manchester United greats Gary Neville and Roy Keane.

Reports emerged on Sunday claiming that 12 clubs – including the Premier League's "big six" – are to announce the new competition. 

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Milan and Inter are the other sides involved, though the proposal will reportedly include an expansion option to 16 or 18 teams.

UEFA responded strongly, insisting it will do everything in its power to block the plans, including banning the 12 clubs from their competitions, while there has also been a suggestion that players may not be allowed to represent their countries on the international stage. The Premier League also condemned the proposals.

While commentating on United's clash with Burnley, Neville made no secret of his opposition to the idea of a Super League, suggesting point deductions were a worthy punishment.

"I'm not against modernisation of football competitions," Neville said on Sky Sports.

"We have the Premier League, the Champions League, I don't think anyone can deny, but I think to bring forward proposals in the midst of COVID, the economic crisis that exists for all clubs is an absolute scandal.

"United and the rest of the big six clubs that have signed up against the rest of the Premier League should be ashamed of themselves.

"I can't concentrate on the game. They should deduct six points from all the teams who have signed up to it. To do it during a season, it's a joke."

It was a sentiment echoed by Neville's former team-mate and fellow Sky Sports pundit Keane, who added: "I think it comes down to money, greed, we've heard nothing from FIFA yet but it doesn't sound good.

"Let's hope its stopped in its tracks, because I think it is just pure greed.

"We're talking about the big clubs. Bayern Munich are one of the biggest clubs in the world. At least they've made a stand, which is a good start."

United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea would need the permission of the Premier League to join any proposed Super League, or would have to break away from England's top flight altogether. 

Andrea Pirlo claimed Juventus will qualify for next season's Champions League "no problem" as he lamented Cristiano Ronaldo's absence in a damaging Serie A defeat to Atalanta.

Pirlo's side suffered a 1-0 loss at the Gewiss Stadium on Sunday as they again struggled without the influential presence of Portugal forward Ronaldo.

Juventus have drawn three and lost one of the four games Ronaldo has missed in Serie A this season.

The Bianconeri's lack of cutting edge up front was emphasised by the fact they managed to register 11 shots in the contest but only one of them was on target.

Atalanta's victory, secured by Ruslan Malinovskiy's late goal, was their first win over the Bianconeri in Serie A since 2001 and saw them leapfrog the Scudetto holders into third place.

"If we play with this spirit and desire to bring home the result, I am convinced there will be no problem achieving our objective," Pirlo told Sky Italia.

"We played the match we needed to, then they were lucky with the late goal, but we played with great determination and aggression. It's disappointing, we could've brought home at least a point

"We have not faced all our games with the same attitude and determination.

"It's a completely different team when we have those elements, but despite me pointing it out, we have dropped too many points by not having the right attitude in the smaller fixtures.

"We knew Atalanta would make it a duel all over the field, so that's how we prepared it. We kept good possession, covered the spaces, Atalanta can force you to play differently to other situations, but we did well."

Ronaldo has scored 25 goals and provided three assists in Serie A this season. 

The 36-year-old missed the match with a thigh injury but is expected to be fit enough for Juve's Serie A clash with Parma on Wednesday.

Pirlo acknowledged he would have been ideal for a tight match against Gian Piero Gasperini's side.

He said: "It’s no coincidence Ronaldo scored 25 goals this season and he was excellent in the first game with Atalanta too. 

"He suits these games well and is our main finisher. When missing the killer instinct in the box, it's slightly different.

"Cristiano wasn't available, but whoever went on the pitch did what he had to do. I'm satisfied with the performance.

"We didn't take advantage of the chances that happened to us in the first half. But we knew it would be an intense match. I have nothing to blame my players for."

Pirlo was asked if he felt under pressure given Juve's difficult season and speculation about his job, but added: "I've been used to it since I was a player. I let them talk."

The creation of a European Super League took a step closer to reality on Sunday as 12 leading clubs agreed plans for a new competition, according to widespread reports.

It is thought that up to six English clubs, three Italian sides and three Spanish teams have joined forces, with an announcement expected this weekend.

No clubs from Germany or France are involved, meaning reigning European champions Bayern Munich and last season's Champions League finalists Paris Saint-Germain are not included, though reports state the plan is for the competition to be expanded to 16-18 teams.

Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal are the Premier League teams said to have signed up, with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid representing LaLiga.

Juventus, Milan and their city rivals Inter are the Serie A clubs in the fold.

It has also been suggested PSG refused an invitation to the new competition, while one of the counter-threats supposedly put forward by UEFA was said to be the exclusion of the 12 teams from its competitions.

The news of this move by some of Europe's biggest clubs comes just before UEFA is set to confirm its intentions to alter the format of the Champions League.

According to reports in The Daily Mail, the Super League is being financed by United States-based investment bank JP Morgan.

The Mail also claim Madrid president Florentino Perez will likely act as chairman of the competition, with the American owners of Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal – John W Henry, Joel Glazer and Stan Kroenke – acting as vice-chairmen. Juve chief Andrea Agnelli is to act as the fourth vice-chairman.

Ruslan Malinovskiy's late effort consigned Juventus to a 1-0 defeat at Atalanta and struck a blow to their chances of qualifying for next season's Champions League.

Only four minutes remained of Sunday's Serie A contest when Malinovskiy's effort deflected past Wojciech Szczesny to secure the points for Atalanta, who leapfrog Juve into third place in the table.

The Bianconeri were without the injured Cristiano Ronaldo and his absence was acutely felt as Andrea Pirlo's side lacked a cutting edge in attack.

Juve have now drawn three and lost one of their games in Serie A this season where Ronaldo has been absent.

Raheem Sterling has lost his place in the Manchester City starting line-up prompting fresh speculation.

Phil Foden has taken Sterling's role with devastating effect, including scoring the winner in their midweek Champions League triumph over Borussia Dortmund.

Sterling's contract talks have also been shelved for the season, fuelling the rumours.

 

TOP STORY - REAL REIGNITE RAHEEM INTEREST

Real Madrid have reignited their interest in Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling according to the Daily Star.

Sterling is contracted with City for another two seasons, putting them in a strong position to hang on to the England international with a reported £80million price tag.

But regular football and the lure of Madrid could be compelling for Sterling who joined City from Liverpool in 2015 for £44m.

 

ROUND-UP

-The Daily Star reports that Paul Pogba's agent Mino Raiola has informed Manchester United that he will only re-sign for a mammoth £500,000-a-week contract. Interested clubs Juventus, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain have also been informed of his wage demands.

-Adama Traore will be offloaded by Wolverhampton as they seek to raise funds for their off-season recruitment reports Football Insider.

-Mundo Deportivo claims that Tottenham are keen to sign Real Betis defender Emerson, having shown interest last off-season.

-Manchester United are homing in on 18-year-old Metz midfielder Pape Sarr according to The Sun although they will face plenty of competition.

Cristiano Ronaldo will miss Juventus' Serie A clash with Atalanta on Sunday because of a thigh problem as head coach Andrea Pirlo blamed the player's workload.

The Portugal forward has been struggling with the injury sustained in Juve's 3-1 win over Genoa last Sunday and has not taken a full part in training this week, with Paulo Dybala set to start instead.

Juventus have drawn all three of the Serie A games Ronaldo has missed in this campaign, scoring just three goals in the process.

In the league fixtures where Ronaldo has played a part this season, Juve have a win percentage of 66.7 per cent from 27 games (18 wins, five draws and four losses) and have scored an average of 2.1 goals per game.

Pirlo lamented Ronaldo's absence and acknowledged the number of games the 36-year-old has played for club and country in a short timeframe have taken a toll on his fitness.

"Ronaldo will not be in for the match tomorrow," Pirlo said at a media conference on Saturday.

"In recent days he has not been able to recover from the flexor problem after last Sunday's game, he does not feel able to push it and would have risked it too much. 

"We have decided to leave him at rest and we will try to recover him for Wednesday's match [against Parma]. This problem arose already on Monday after the game. He tried and went out with the team [in training] but couldn't push as he wanted.

"It was too risky to push it. The many matches, even those with the national team, influenced him and so many games did not allow him to recover.

"He has always been in good condition, then the matches in the national team accumulated. He too told me that he shouldn't have played the third game, but then that goal [against Serbia] was cancelled and they didn't get six points. 

"They forced him to play the third as well, otherwise he would have returned to Juventus before the third."

Atalanta’s last win against Juventus in Serie A came back in February 2001 and since then the Bianconeri have won 24 of the 32 league games between the two sides, drawing eight.

However, Juve have won only one of their last six games against Atalanta (D4 L1) when all competitions are taking into account, getting that victory in November 2019 in Bergamo.

Defending champions Juve are third in Serie A heading into Sunday's games – sitting 12 points behind leaders Inter, and a point ahead of Atalanta in fourth.

Pirlo added: "We have focused ourselves on a new goal, which is not the one suitable for Juventus who have always fought to win the championship.

"But unfortunately the points are a bit distant and the goal must be to finish the season well and reach the final goal [of Champions League qualification].

"We have worked well during the week knowing that Atalanta are a team with particular characteristics.

"They play a different football than the other teams and therefore we tried moves to counter their fierce pressure. We worked intensely during the week and I'm happy and confident for the game."

Cristiano Ronaldo is happy at Juventus and looks primed to stay at the club for multiple years, according to his former Real Madrid and Portugal team-mate Pepe.

The forward has 25 goals in 27 Serie A matches this season, topping the league's scoring charts, four clear of nearest rival Romelu Lukaku.

Ronaldo has been prolific since signing for Juve from Real Madrid in 2018 and continues to be so at the age of 36, now three goals away from reaching 100 for the Italian club in all competitions.

However, his future was thrown into the spotlight after Juventus once again failed to reach the latter stages of the Champions League this season, with Pepe and Porto knocking them out in the last 16.

Domestically, Inter look poised to end Juve's run of nine straight Scudetto successes and Ronaldo has been linked with a move away amid speculation over Juve's financial situation and direction of their project.

But Pepe thinks Ronaldo's accomplishments are being underestimated and sees him remaining at the highest level for the foreseeable future.

Pepe was asked if Ronaldo would contemplate a return to playing in Portugal, where he started his career with Sporting CP.

He told Novo: "Honestly, given how I know him, I don't know if he would tolerate the way many people talk about football in Portugal.

"I think he is happy in Turin. He is the leading goalscorer in Serie A. Those who criticise him don’t know how difficult it is to score more than 30 goals every year.

"What Cristiano can do is incredible. And I hope he will stay there for more years, giving joy to football lovers and representing Portugal very well, as he has always done."

Ronaldo - defended by head coach Andrea Pirlo last week for throwing his shirt after failing to score in a win over Genoa - is under contract with Juve until June 2022, while at international level he has Euro 2020 and the World Cup coming up for his country before the end of next year.

Juventus are away to Atalanta on Sunday, a team they have beaten only once in their last six meetings across all competitions.

However, Ronaldo will be buoyed that Juve have scored at least two goals in each of their last seven away games against Atalanta in Serie A.

Cristiano Ronaldo's future beyond this season has been a hot topic of discussion.

The 36-year-old Portuguese forward appears set to exit Juventus after three seasons in Turin, despite being contracted for another year.

Ronaldo has been linked with former club Real Madrid and a switch to the United States, but there may be another option.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO IN UTD-JUVE SWAP DEAL

Manchester United want to sign Cristiano Ronaldo this off-season and would consider a swap deal with Juventus for Paul Pogba, according to Calciomercato.

Ronaldo played for United from 2003 to 2009 in the earlier part of his career, making almost 300 appearances for the Red Devils before his blockbuster move to Real Madrid.

Pogba, who spent time at Juventus from 2012 to 2016, has also been the subject of transfer speculation.

Juventus have this week been linked with a mega swap deal with United as they look for a transfer shake-up this off-season.

ROUND-UP

- The Independent reports Harry Kane's preference, if he was to leave Tottenham, is to remain in England and join either United or Manchester City.

- Juve forward Paulo Dybala has attracted interest from Premier League pair United and Chelsea, claims Tuttosport.

- United are also keen on an off-season move for Madrid defender Raphael Varane, according to The Mail. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United have also been linked with Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate, Sevilla star Jules Kounde and Villarreal defender Pau Torres.

- The Daily Mail reports Bayern Munich are bullish they can sign Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland as Robert Lewandowski's heir if he remains in Germany for one more season amid widespread interest this upcoming off-season. Haaland has been heavily linked with City, United, Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

- Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira is wanted by Argentine giants Boca Juniors, reports TyC Sports. Torreira is currently on loan at Atletico Madrid.

Jesse Lingard has been in blistering form during his six-month loan spell at West Ham.

As a result, speculation is rife over the 28-year-old England international's future.

Lingard is contracted with parent club Manchester United for one more season.

 

TOP STORY - EUROPEAN GIANTS CIRCLE FOR LINGARD

European powerhouse clubs Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Inter are all interested in Lingard, claims ESPN.

Lingard has scored eight goals in nine games for the Hammers, who are surprisingly sitting fourth in the Premier League.

ESPN reports those clubs are monitoring Lingard's situation, with West Ham keen to sign him permanently and the player yet to declare a preference, although it is believed he wants to play  Champions League football.

 

ROUND-UP

- Serbia international Sergei Milinkovic-Savic has garnered interest from European giants Manchester United, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The midfielder is contracted with Lazio until 2024.

- Manchester United may have missed out on Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho last off-season but they are set to revive their interest, says the Manchester Evening News.

- Calciomercato reports that French winger Ousmane Dembele is open to joining Juventus from Barcelona in the next transfer window.

- Tottenham are making their move to sign off-contract Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng, reports Sky Germany.

- Arsenal have joined the race to sign Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard, alongside Leicester City, according to the Telegraph.

- Tuttosport says Torino's Italy international forward Andrea Belotti is being courted by Chelsea, Everton, AC Milan and Atletico Madrid.

- Fiorentina want to hire Gennaro Gattuso from Napoli as their next coach, claims Sky Sport Italia. Gattuso is out of contract at Napoli at the end of the season.

Bayern Munich will approach Wednesday's quarter-final second leg against Paris Saint Germain with the confidence expected of Champions League holders.

Sure, they lost 3-2 in an enthralling meeting at the Allianz Arena last week and are without star striker Robert Lewandowski, but Hansi Flick's men had more than enough chances to have emerged victorious and face up to a PSG defence likely to be without the influential Marquinhos.

The main problem for Bayern is Kylian Mbappe's apparent bid to turn the competition into his own personal playground.

Having put Barcelona to the sword with a hat-trick at Camp Nou in the previous round, the France forward was PSG's match-winner once more with a brace in Bavaria.

When the second leg gets under way, Mbappe will be 22 years and 115 days old. No player has scored more than his 27 goals in the Champions League by that age. For reference, Lionel Messi had 18, Raul 12, Wayne Rooney 12 and Cristiano Ronaldo three at the same vintage.

A place among the Champions League greats looks to be Mbappe's for the taking and we've decided to compare his Barcelona and Bayern performances to some of the most memorable goalscoring outings of recent years on the biggest stage.

Lionel Messi – Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal: April 6, 2010

A second-leg penalty from Mbappe as PSG overcame Barcelona 5-2 on aggregate in the round of 16 made him the youngest player in Champions League history to reach 25 goals at 22 years and 80 days, usurping the great Messi.

Of course, Mbappe still has plenty more to accomplish if he is to get close to Messi's deeds in the competition. The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has won Europe's top competition four times. Barca were triumphant finalists in 2009 and 2011, with Messi netting in each game against Manchester United. They fell short in 2009-10, but a dominant quarter-final win over Arsenal that season found him at his very best.

The Gunners battled to a thrilling 2-2 draw at Emirates Stadium and led at Camp Nou through Nicklas Bendtner, but the tie was as good as over before half-time as Messi compiled a blistering hat-trick – smashing in from the edge of the area, finding the roof of the next with an opportunistic effort and then racing clear to sublimely lob Manuel Almunia.

He nutmegged the Arsenal goalkeeper having dribbled through a bedraggled defence for his and Barcelona's fourth. Messi's haul came from eight shots overall, with six on target. Three goals came from his impeccable left boot, with the second right footed. He stamped his mark all over the contest, completing 46 of 52 passes and making 77 touches – a greater level of overall involvement than any other performance on this list.

Robert Lewandowski – Borussia Dortmund 4-1 Real Madrid: April 24, 2013

Injury has robbed us of the Mbappe v Lewandowski showdown we crave and the quarter-final first leg might have panned out differently if Bayern had been able to call upon their attacking talisman.

Lewandowski's deadly finishing has been a constant over the past decade and he produced a breakout performance in the 2013 semi-finals against Real Madrid, while still at Borussia Dortmund.

The Poland striker reached to volley home Mario Gotze's eighth-minute cross and controlled Marco Reus' mis-hit shot to finish smartly early in the second half – prompting a run of three goals in 16 minutes as Lewandowski showed immaculate close control to rifle into the top corner before converting a penalty in similarly emphatic fashion.

All Lewandowski's goals came from inside the area, all with his right foot as he netted four of five attempts on target (seven in total) to fire Dortmund towards an all-Bundesliga final against his future employers.

Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid 4-2 Bayern Munich (aet): April 18, 2017

Mbappe has the opportunity to build on eight goals in this season's competition in the return against Bayern – the joint-most by a French player in a single campaign alongside Wissam Ben Yedder (2017-18) and David Trezeguet (2001-02).

In terms of huge one-season hauls, Ronaldo sets the gold standard. His 17 en-route to glory with Real Madrid in 2013-14 were followed by 16 in 2015-16 and 15 in 2017-18 as Los Blancos claimed three in a row.

In between, when Madrid went all the way in 2016-17, Ronaldo's personal total was – by his own remarkable standards – a relatively meagre 12. However, six of these came in quarter-final and semi-final hat-tricks versus Bayern and Atletico Madrid.

The Bayern treble was the most dramatic as Madrid diced with elimination. They lost 2-1 in 90 minutes at the Santiago Bernabeu but Ronaldo would not be denied, netting in the 76th minute and then twice more in extra time to complete a perfect hat-trick from nine attempts, five of which were on target.

Cristiano Ronaldo – Juventus 3-0 Atletico Madrid: March 12, 2019

Ronaldo's ambition of winning a sixth Champions League at a third club looks set to come up short after Juventus's meek exit against Porto last month. But during his first season in Turin, everything appeared to be falling into place against a familiar foe.

Atletico Madrid won the first leg of the last-16 encounter 2-0, but the writing was on the wall from the moment Ronaldo powered in a towering back-post header in the 27th minute.

Early in the second half, Jan Oblak could only claw away another headed Ronaldo attempt from behind the goal line and the Atlei goalkeeper had no chance when faced with penalty from the Portugal great five minutes from time.

Ronaldo netted with all three of his attempts on target, while his five efforts overall on the night had an xG value of 1.39.

Lucas Moura – Ajax 2-3 Tottenham: May 8, 2019

The 2018-19 season provided relentless drama when it came to improbable comebacks and Tottenham were surely down and out when 2-0 behind after 35 minutes Amsterdam, nursing a 3-0 semi-final aggregate deficit against an Ajax side who had already seen off Real Madrid and Juventus. Enter Lucas Moura.

The Brazilian forward, leading the line for Spurs in Harry Kane's injury absence, streamed into the Ajax penalty area to pull one back early in the second half and by the time he engineered space to dispatch a fine left-footed finish in the 59th minute, the whole complexion of the contest had changed.

Five minutes of stoppage time had just expired when Lucas clipped a third with his trusty left boot to break Ajax hearts. Opta began collecting xG data in the Champions League in 2013-14. Of the hat-tricks on this list with those figures available, Lucas' is the only one with an overall shot value (0.88) below an xG of one.

Kylian Mbappe – Barcelona 1-4 Paris Saint-Germain: February 16, 2021

Despite Messi putting Barcelona ahead with a first-half penalty, Mbappe soon took charge. Magnificent close control, nimble movement and a thumping finish with his left brought PSG level.

Mbappe was again happy to crash home with his weaker foot on the other side of half-time and curled in a majestic strike on the counter-attack after Moise Kean made it three. Four of his six attempts (xG 1.84) were on target in an all-action display.

It made Mbappe the third player in Champions League history to score a hat-trick against Barcelona after Faustino Asprilla for Newcastle United and Andriy Shevchenko for Dynamo Kiev in 1997.

Kylian Mbappe – Bayern Munich 2-3 Paris Saint-Germain: April 7, 2021

Mauricio Pochettino's men overwhelmed Barcelona at Camp Nou but were forced to play a different game against Bayern last week, spending long spells on the back foot.

This gave Mbappe the chance to show his ruthless side as he scored from each of his two shots, albeit helped by an error from Manuel Neuer for the opener. A fit-again Neymar laid on that goal and he and Mbappe have assisted one another 10 times in the Champions League since joining forces in 2017-18 – at least three more than any other pair during this period.

Neymar also set up compatriot Marquinhos to make it 2-0 before Eric Maxim Choupo Moting and Thomas Muller brought Bayern level.

Mbappe's electrifying pace and unerring poise were again on display when he cut inside Jerome Boateng to send the winner fizzing past Neuer at his near post. His five away goals in the knockout rounds is already a single-season record in the Champions League. To earn the chance to add to that number, there is first some mouth-watering business to attend to at Parc des Princes.

Where will Kylian Mbappe be playing next season is a question being asked across Europe.

The Paris Saint-Germain star has been tipped to join Real Madrid.

Should Mbappe depart Paris, PSG are reportedly drawing up a list of replacements.

 

TOP STORY – KANE AND SALAH WANTED IN PARIS

Paris Saint-Germain have set their sights on Tottenham forward Harry Kane and Liverpool star Mohamed Salah as possible replacements for Kylian Mbappe, according to Telefoot.

Mbappe has been heavily linked with LaLiga champions Real Madrid, though PSG remain in negotiations over a contract extension.

While PSG are still hopeful, the Ligue 1 holders are eyeing the Premier League should Mbappe leave the French capital.

Kane is reportedly wanted by Manchester United and Manchester City, while Salah has previously been linked with Madrid and Barcelona.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato reports Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid are chasing Inter midfielder Nicolo Barella. The Sun adds Chelsea are also interested in the Italy star.

Juventus and PSG could exchange Mauro Icardi and Paulo Dybala in a swap deal, says Corriere dello Sport. Icardi's future is up in the air, despite only joining PSG permanently from Inter last year, while countryman Dybala is reportedly nearing an exit.

- AS Diario claims United are keeping tabs on Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres, who has also been linked with neighbours City. United have also been credited with interest in Sevilla defender Jules Kounde, RB Leipzig's Liverpool target Ibrahima Konate as well as Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and team-mate Raphael Varane.

- Eintracht Frankfurt boss Adi Hutter is set to replace outgoing boss Marco Rose at Borussia Monchengladbach, reports Kicker. Rose is poised to take charge of Borussia Dortmund.

Andrea Pirlo had no issues with Cristiano Ronaldo throwing his shirt on the ground after failing to score in Juventus' Serie A victory over Genoa.

Dejan Kulusevski, Alvaro Morata and Weston McKennie were on target as Juve took another step towards sealing a Champions League spot with a 3-1 win at Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

Ronaldo has found the back of the net 32 times for the Bianconeri this season, but cut a frustrated figure after he was unable to add to his tally in Turin.

The Portugal captain struck the post in the first half before Morata followed up to double Juve's lead and hit the target only twice in six attempts.

Ronaldo whipped off his shirt and hurled it on the turf following the final whistle and head coach Pirlo had no problem with that reaction.

Pirlo said: "He was keen on scoring. He is one of the champions because they always want to leave their mark, but these are normal things that happen."

Juve came under pressure after dominating the first half and were in danger of losing their lead following Gianluca Scamacca's goal early in the second half.

Pirlo was concerned by the manner in which they let Genoa come back into the game.

He added: "It all seemed easy, at the end of the first half we suffered an opportunity due to lack of concentration.

"It had happened to us in other games, it could cost us dearly. We entered the field wanting to play the game but we sat back."

Paulo Dybala had to once again settle for being introduced as a substitute after coming off the bench to score in a huge win over Napoli amid speculation over his future.

Pirlo defended his decision not to start the playmaker, who spent a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a knee injury.

The former Italy midfielder said: "I'm lucky enough to coach the champions and Dybala is one of them so I try to be able to make the most of him in every game.

"We didn't have him available very much this year, now he's back and it will help us to give us a hand in this final rush. The managers are there for these decisions."

Fabio Paratici has confirmed contract talks between Juventus and Paulo Dybala are continuing.

Dybala's current deal with Juve runs out in 2022. Injuries have limited the Argentina forward to just 12 Serie A appearances this season, with the former Palermo star scoring only three top-flight goals – last netting in Wednesday's win over Napoli.

The 27-year-old was reportedly on the verge of joining Tottenham in 2019, while Manchester United are another Premier League club who are mooted suitors.

However, chief football officer Paratici has confirmed Juve intend to keep hold of their number 10, with discussions over a possible fresh deal ongoing, although the impact of COVID-19 has hit the club's finances.

"We talk to Dybala’s agent every week," Paratici told Sky Italia prior to Juve's Serie A game with Genoa on Sunday.

"Clearly, we can't forget the moment we are living, and I am not only talking about football. One year ago, COVID appeared to be lasting just a couple of months.

"There have been steps forwards and backwards and now there's a sense of negativity we can't leave. We must be responsible for everything we do, not only in football."

Dybala started on the bench against Genoa, with Alvaro Morata getting the nod as the preferred partner for Cristiano Ronaldo up top.

Morata scored as Juve secured a 3-1 win, taking his tally for the season to 17 goals across all competitions.

The 28-year-old Morata is only on loan from Atletico Madrid, and there have been rumours that Juve will not look to extend his stay, but Paratici suggested that is not the case.

"We have many options regarding Morata," Paratici said.

"We can sign him on a permanent deal or extend his stay on loan. He's given a lot to Juventus and we trust him. He is a serious guy and we've always believed in him."

DYBALA AND MORATA – HEAD TO HEAD

If it is a case of one or the other for Juve, then who should the Serie A giants choose to keep – Dybala, or Morata?

Morata has featured 37 times in all competitions for Juve this season, playing 19 games more than Dybala (18).

Dybala's four goals overall pale in comparison to Morata's 17 strikes, with the Spain international also having a much more impressive minutes-per-goal record (one every 144.4 minutes compared to 225.8).

Morata has also registered 11 assists (Dybala has only two) from 53 chances created, while he also boasts a better big chance conversion rate.

Dybala has managed just 41 shots, with Morata 32 ahead in this regard, albeit from more games played.

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