Jadon Sancho can be compared to Robert Lewandowski and Lionel Messi with his performances for Borussia Dortmund, according to former Germany international goalkeeper Jens Lehmann.

After a slow start to the campaign amid talk of a move to Manchester United falling through, Sancho's form has picked up of late and he is on course to hit double figures for goals and assists for the third Bundesliga season running.

The England international last week registered his 50th assist in the German top flight, becoming the youngest ever player to do so in what was his 99th appearance in the competition.

Sancho has now been directly involved in 12 Bundesliga goals in 2021 - six goals and six assists - which is behind only Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski (11 goals and two assists).

In Europe's top five leagues, Barcelona forward Messi (15) is the only other player to have been directly involved in more goals this calendar year than Sancho, who is level with Atalanta's Luis Muriel.

Lehmann has been impressed by the 20-year-old's form and has backed the youngster, as well as compatriot and BVB team-mate Jude Bellingham, to remain in the Bundesliga, despite ongoing talk of a possible move to the Premier League.

"He's done very well," Lehmann told the Daily Star. "Right now his stats can be compared to Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski, and I think the third best in the whole of Europe. It's fantastic for English football."

Asked about the future of Sancho and Bellingham, Lehmann said: "Right now, I think they're staying. Most of the big clubs have full squads anyway.

"You'd have to be really, really outstanding if a bigger club tries to get you. But if you can imagine a club like Chelsea, Manchester United or Manchester City, there is already 30 or 35 players plus the players on loan.

"It's not that easy to make a decision for guys like Bellingham and Sancho at this early stage in their careers. Would they add something? We're not sure, but first of all they need to decrease their own squad size."

Sancho, who scored the winning goal for Dortmund in their DFB-Pokal win at Borussia Monchengladbach on Tuesday, is a major doubt for this weekend's Der Klassiker showdown with Bayern due to a leg injury.

Karim Benzema has revealed how Cristiano Ronaldo's departure has allowed him to take on a different role in Real Madrid's attack.

The Frenchman has scored a goal every 1.7 games across all competitions in the two-and-a-half seasons since Ronaldo made a €100million switch to Juventus.

But in their nine campaigns together at the Santiago Bernabeu, Benzema was instead finding the back of the net once every 2.2 games.

And the 33-year-old has now acknowledged that he had to sacrifice certain parts of his game for Ronaldo's benefit - not that he has any regrets over the matter.

"Cristiano's departure allowed me to play a different role. He scored 50 goals every year and you had to adapt to his game," he told El Pais.

"He is one of the best in the world and I was happy by his side."

Nine of the 18 trophies Benzema has won in his 12 years in Madrid have come during the two separate managerial stints of Zinedine Zidane.

Of his compatriot, he added: "He is an older brother for me, he is always there to advise me."

In a wide-ranging interview, Benzema also opened up on his boyhood sporting heroes, explaining: "In football, it's Ronaldo, the Brazilian. 

"I admire [Mike] Tyson because we both came from the bottom and we went up little by little. We never had it easy, nor did they give us anything."

He also discussed his upbringing, adding: "I come from a neighbourhood where things were difficult. When I saw older boys well-dressed and with nice cars, what I wanted was to be like them.

"Money makes things a lot easier, but you don't need millions to be happy."

Real Madrid will likely be without Mariano Diaz for the derby with Atletico Madrid after the striker sustained a pelvic injury.

The 27-year-old was taken off after 61 minutes of Monday's 1-1 draw with Real Sociedad at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.

Madrid announced on their official website on Thursday: "Following the tests carried out today on our player, Mariano Diaz, by the Real Madrid medical department, he has been diagnosed with a muscle injury to his left external obturator. His recovery will be monitored."

Mariano is expected to miss Sunday's clash with the LaLiga leaders, leaving Zinedine Zidane's side facing a striker shortage.

Karim Benzema is battling to be fit after missing three games with adductor problems, with 21-year-old Hugo Duro called upon for the final half-hour against Sociedad for just his second LaLiga appearance in Madrid colours.

The champions head into the contest with Diego Simeone's side trailing them by five points in the table, having played a game more.

However, they are unbeaten in the past nine league derby matches and are the only side from Spain's top flight to have played at the Wanda Metropolitano and avoided defeat.

Barcelona are set to be without Gerard Pique once again after the club confirmed he suffered a knee ligament injury shortly after his Copa del Rey heroics against Sevilla. 

Pique's stoppage-time header after the 90-minute mark in Wednesday's semi-final second leg saw Barca wipe out Sevilla's 2-0 lead from the first meeting last month, with Ousmane Dembele having struck early on. 

Barca went on to win 3-0 after extra time, Martin Braithwaite getting the decisive goal five minutes after the restart to leave Sevilla – who had Fernando set off just before Pique's header – on the receiving end of a commendable comeback. 

But it seemingly came at a cost, with Pique appearing to hurt his knee in extra time when he was forced into an awkward turn while passing back to Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who had earlier saved a penalty from Lucas Ocampos when the score was 1-0.

Pique went down holding his knee only to eventually see out the game, suggesting the issue was not a particularly serious one. 

But Barca confirmed on Thursday that further examinations have revealed a sprain to the internal lateral ligament in his right knee. 

While the club said the length of his absence will be dependent on his recovery, such sprains can mean a six-week absence. 

That could potentially rule him out of El Clasico on April 10, while it seems a strong possibility Pique will miss the second leg of Barca's Champions League last-16 tie away to Paris Saint-Germain next week. 

PSG hold a 4-1 advantage from the first leg at Camp Nou on February 16, the match in which Pique returned from a previous knee injury sustained in November.

 

Erling Haaland continues to dominate headlines.

The Borussia Dortmund sensation is one of the most sought-after players in Europe.

Manchester City and Real Madrid are reportedly going head-to-head to sign the Norwegian.

 

TOP STORY – AGUERO OUT, HAALAND IN?

Manchester City want to sign Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland as a replacement for veteran forward Sergio Aguero, according to Bild.

Aguero, who has been hampered by injury this season, is out of contract at the end of the current campaign.

Haaland is a player in demand, having been linked to Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich.

But Haaland dominates the front pages of Thursday's Marca, Diario AS and Mundo Deportivo in Spain amid Madrid's interest.

The Norway international reportedly wants to listen to Madrid, who will need €150million to prise Haaland to the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato reports Lyon star Houssem Aouar remains on the radar of Juventus. Aouar has previously been linked with the Serie A champions, as well as Arsenal.

Chelsea are interested in Monaco's defensive midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, claims ESPN.

- O Jogo says Liverpool could reignite their interest in Sporting CP defender Nuno Mendes. Juve, Madrid and Milan have also been tracking the 18-year-old, who has a £60m (€70m) release clause.

Edinson Cavani is open to extending his United contract, according to Fabrizio Romano. Cavani joined United as a free agent on a one-year deal at the start of the season. The former PSG star has been linked with Boca Juniors.

Ronald Koeman cooled talk of Barcelona replicating their astonishing Copa del Rey comeback when they face Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

Barca overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit as they stunned Sevilla 3-0 after extra time at Camp Nou on Wednesday to reach the Copa del Rey final.

Ousmane Dembele gave Barca hope with a first-half goal and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen provided more life when he saved Lucas Ocampos' penalty 17 minutes from the end.

Gerard Pique capitalised in stoppage time, doubling Barca's lead on the night and levelling the semi-final tie 2-2 on aggregate, moments after Sevilla's Fernando was sent off.

Martin Braithwaite then put Barca ahead early in extra time as the LaLiga giants moved through to face Athletic Bilbao or Levante in the decider.

Barca will also have to come from behind on March 10 if they are to advance to the Champions League quarter-finals, with Koeman's side trailing Ligue 1 holders PSG 4-1 following the opening leg on home soil.

Speaking to reporters post-match, Barca head coach Koeman said: "2-0 it is easier for a comeback, even though it isn't easy, but 4-1 is still something else.

"And they have a great team with great players and as in any match, we start the game to win and during the game we are going to see if there is a chance to go ahead.

"If not, we will have to accept it and keep going in the same way."

Barca have struggled for form and consistency during Koeman's first season at the helm – the Spanish powerhouse five points adrift of LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid, who have a match in hand.

Koeman's Barca also lost to Athletic in the Supercopa de Espana final this season.

"It is true [that this was his happiest night as Barça coach in which he felt more proud of his footballers]," Koeman said.

"It is a strong step towards wining an important title. Also, with a 2-0 against as we had to make a very complete game. As a coach, you cannot ask for anything more. We have fought, we have created, we have played and make it till the last second from a psychical point of view.

"I trust that we deserved to go ahead and now to play the final because we were the better team in both matches."

Jose Mourinho believes anyone wondering why it took Gareth Bale so long to hit top form for Tottenham would be better off asking Real Madrid.

Bale had a miserable start to his Tottenham return after coming back to the club on a season-long loan deal in September.

He struggled with his form and fitness, quickly falling out of favour with Mourinho.

Bale has been revitalised of late though, impressing in two Europa League games against Wolfsberger as well as Premier League clashes against West Ham and Burnley.

Mourinho recently said Bale was the happiest, fittest and most confident he has ever been at Tottenham.

The Spurs boss confirmed Bale had another good reaction to his 70-minute outing in the 4-0 win over Burnley on Sunday.

It means the Wales international is in contention to play at least some part when Spurs take on Fulham at Craven Cottage on Thursday.

"For the past two years, he had what he had in Madrid," said Mourinho. "Ask them [why it took Bale so long to find form]. 

"Maybe if they answer you, you can understand better why he took a while. 

"Maybe to be patient was the main reason for him to reach the level he showed in the last couple of weeks."

Asked if Bale would be involved in the Fulham game, he added: "I believe so. Starting or on the bench I don't know, we have to decide that.

"He is such an experienced guy so of course his opinion is very important. But he has had a good reaction [after the Burnley game], a good recovering session and he will be involved. 

"I repeat: [it could be] bench or starting, but he will be there."

Midfielder Giovani Lo Celso will not be rushed back despite returning to training.

"He is training with the team but it was a big injury," added Mourinho.

"We are not going to risk [him] yet. In fact, we don't want to risk [him at all], we want to bring him to the team and competition when there is no risk. One week, two more weeks. 

"Apart from that, everyone OK. One more training session after this but everyone OK."
 

BALE'S SWIFT IMPROVEMENT

Bale has registered four goals and three assists in his last four games for Tottenham.

In his first 16 matches since returning, he only recorded four goals and did not register a single assist.

The 31-year-old's minutes per goal involvement have impressively plummeted from 200.8 in his first 16 matches to one every 28.7 in this most recent four-match span.

Bale is having more of an active role in other areas too. His chances created per 90 minutes are up to 3.1 from just 1.1, while his shot conversion rate is 44.4 per cent, up from 10.5.

It is only a small sample size and two of the matches were against weaker opposition in Wolfsberger, but the signs are encouraging.

The amount of shots he is taking is similar (4 per game compared to 4.3 before), but notably more of Spurs' attacks are coming through Bale. 

He has accounted for 22 per cent of Spurs' shots in the last four matches, where before he was responsible for just nine per cent of their attempts in the time he was on the pitch.
 

HOW DO HIS STATS COMPARE TO REAL MADRID?

The recent burst from Bale means his statistics since returning to Spurs compare favourably to his successful Madrid tenure in a number of categories.

Again, it is worth noting his Spurs figures are from a comparatively small sample size making them more prone to fluctuations – 20 matches compared to 251 in the Spanish capital.

Bale has 11 goal involvements for Spurs (eight goals and three assists) in 1,004 minutes on the pitch, giving him an average of 91 minutes per contribution.

At Madrid, he averaged one every 111 minutes.

Bale also compares favourably when looking solely at minutes per goal (171 at Madrid v 126 at Spurs).

He did, however, win 65 per cent of the games he played in at Madrid, compared to 60 per cent since returning to Spurs, a sign of the difficult season experienced by the London club.

Could Gianluigi Donnarumma swap Milan for London?

Donnarumma's future with Serie A outfit Milan is far from certain as he prepares to become a free agent.

While Chelsea already boast Edouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalaga in their goalkeeping ranks, the Premier League giants are reportedly interested in Donnarumma.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA EYE DONNARUMMA

Chelsea are monitoring Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma amid his contract situation at San Siro, according to Eurosport.

Donnarumma is out of contract at season's end and while Milan have been discussing a new deal, the Italy star is yet to commit to the Serie A club.

The 22-year-old has already been linked with the likes of Manchester United, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS reports PSG are fighting Real Madrid to sign Bayern star David Alaba. The Austria international will leave Bayern on a free transfer at season's end and while he has been tipped to join Madrid, PSG remain keen on him, along with Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea.

Inter have reached a "handshake agreement" with Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, claims Sport Mediaset. The Netherlands international, whose contract expires at the end of June, has been linked to Barcelona.

- Borussia Dortmund are increasingly resigned to losing star forward Erling Haaland at the end of the season as they turn to Sevilla's Youssef En-Nesyri, says Eurosport. Haaland is one of the most sought-after players in Europe, wanted by City, United, Madrid, Barca, PSG, Chelsea, Liverpool and others.

Pep Guardiola is optimistic "the best club in the world" Barcelona will recover from off-field turmoil "in a short time" under a new president.

Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu was "provisionally released under charges of unfair administration and corruption of business" after being arrested following a raid on the LaLiga club's offices on Monday.

Bartomeu and ex-director Jaume Masferrer exercised their right not to testify on Tuesday when answering to charges of unfair administration and corruption of business.

Barca's head of legal services Roman Gomez Ponti and former director Jaume Masferrer were also arrested.

The Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) has confirmed the case was still open.

The investigation is thought to centre around the "Barcagate" scandal, when the Spanish giants allegedly paid social media company 13 Ventures to smear celebrated club names such as Lionel Messi, Guardiola, Xavi, Gerard Pique and ex-president Joan Laporta during Bartomeu's leadership.

Los Mossos searched Barca's offices in July 2020 in relation to the claims, although the club hired Price Waterhouse Coopers to investigate the matter and the global auditing firm found in their favour.

Former Barca player and head coach Guardiola believes there will be better times to come for the Catalan powerhouse following Sunday's presidential election, with Joan Laporta, Victor Font and Antoni Freixa standing for office.

Manchester City manager Guardiola said after his side's 4-1 Premier League win over Wolves on Tuesday: "I know it's an uncomfortable situation and hopefully it's going to finish well. He's [Bartomeu] already now innocent until proven guilty.

"The only thing I'm concerned about right now is in one week we will have a new president. I want to congratulate all three for the campaign, we are in a difficult situation all around the world and in Barcelona especially, for many reasons everybody already knows.

"To have the courage to the lead the next years and I'm pretty sure hopefully as many people as possible can vote and choose the right president to lead this incredible club.

"For me, the best club in the world for the sentimental issues and I'm pretty sure Barcelona will come back stronger in a short time.

"The new president will have to lead with confidence, join the team and fans together as one and it's going to be the club that we are. I'm looking forward to the election next Sunday and hopefully the president we choose will be okay."

Ansu Fati has been advised to stay humble by Barcelona great Lionel Messi, who the teenager would love to see alongside Cristiano Ronaldo in a five-a-side dream team.

Spain international Fati has made a huge impact at Camp Nou since bursting onto the scene in August 2019, setting a number of records along the way before being struck down by a knee injury that has ruled him out since November.

Fati is Barca's youngest ever goalscorer, the youngest player to score and provide an assist in a single LaLiga game, the youngest Camp Nou goalscorer and the youngest player to score in a Champions League game.

Many have compared the 18-year-old's rise to stardom as being similar to that of Messi, who has gone on to win a record six Ballons d'Or across his 17 seasons in Barca's first team.

And La Masia product Fati, who has been nominated for the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year award, has been given guidance by Messi over the past 18 months.

"What advice has he given me? I try to transmit the same humility as he does. Despite all he has done, he is a very simple man, and the advice he gives is always about keeping your feet on the ground," Fati said, talking to Barcelona's official website.

"It is a dream to play with the best player in the world and learn from him in training."

Fati did not name Messi as his role model - that honour instead went to brother Braima - but he did pick the Argentina international in his fantasy side, along with a group of former Barca stars and ex-Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

Asked to select five players, Fati said: "That would be Víctor Valdes, [Carles] Puyol, Xavi or Iniesta, Messi and Cristiano."

Fati is not expected to return for Barcelona until the start of next season, at which point he may be joined by fellow academy product Eric Garcia, who looks set to return to the club from Manchester City.

Garcia spent close to a decade in the Catalan giants' academy set-up and Fati has named the 20-year-old centre-back as his best team-mate.

"We have grown up together from a young age," Fati said. "We've played together and he helped me get better.

"He was very hard to dribble past, and we've been 'at war' since we were kids. We've also played together for Spain - we were always dreaming of this as kids."

Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has been "provisionally released" after he was arrested following a raid on the club's offices.

Bartomeu and ex-director Jaume Masferrer exercised their right not to testify on Tuesday when answering to charges of unfair administration and corruption of business.

The Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) confirmed the case was still open.

"The court of instruction 13 of Barcelona, within a case opened in May 2020 for crimes of unfair administration and corruption in business, has taken a statement today from the former directors of FC Barcelona, Josep M Bartomeu and Jaume Masferrer, as investigated," a TSJC statement read.

"The two investigated, who today have gone to court, have availed themselves of their right not to testify and the magistrate has agreed to provisionally release them.

"The case, of which the summary secrecy has been lifted, is still open."

In a statement tweeted on Monday, Los Mossos d'Esquadra confirmed "several searches are being carried out" at Barca's club premises by its unit dedicated to the investigation of economic crimes.

Bartomeu was taken into custody as part of the probe, along with the club's current CEO Oscar Grau.

Barca's head of legal services Roman Gomez Ponti and former director Jaume Masferrer were also arrested.

The investigation is thought to centre around the "Barcagate" scandal, when Barcelona allegedly paid social media company 13 Ventures to smear celebrated club names such as Lionel Messi, Pep Guardiola, Xavi, Gerard Pique and ex-president Joan Laporta during Bartomeu's leadership.

Los Mossos searched Barca's offices in July 2020 in relation to the claims, although the club hired Price Waterhouse Coopers to investigate the matter and the global auditing firm found in their favour.

Nevertheless, board members Emili Rousaud, Enrique Tombas, Silvio Elias, Josep Pont, Maria Teixidor, Noelia Ronero and Jordi Calsamiglia resigned amid the damaging fallout.

Last October, Bartomeu stepped down as Barcelona president following a close season when Messi tried to leave the club and ahead of a vote of no confidence in his leadership.

Laporta is favourite to return for a second stint as president, with elections taking place this Sunday – the race now staged against the backdrop of yet another turbulent episode for the LaLiga giants.

Ronald Koeman implored his Barcelona side to focus on the football after admitting the events of the past couple of days are "not good for the club's image".

On Monday, Los Mossos d'Esquadra carried out several searches of the club's premises, prompting Barca to say have "offered up their full collaboration to the legal and police authorities to help make clear facts which are subject to investigation."

According to Spanish news agency EFE, former Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu was taken into custody as part of the probe carried out by the economic crimes department of the Catalan police. EFE said on Tuesday Bartomeu has been provisionally released under charges of unfair administration and corruption of business.

The investigation is thought to centre around the "Barcagate" scandal, in which it was alleged social media company 13 Ventures were paid by Barcelona to smear club greats such as Lionel Messi, Pep Guardiola, Xavi, Gerard Pique and ex-president Joan Laporta during Bartomeu's leadership.

In July 2020, Barca's offices were searched by Los Mossos in relation to those claims, although the club hired Price Waterhouse Coopers to investigate the matter and the global auditing firm found in their favour.

Addressing the chaotic events at a pre-match news conference for Barca's second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final against Sevilla, head coach Koeman said: "It's not good for the club's image. 

"We have to wait and see what happens. I wasn't here, I don't know what happened. We can't do anything, we must focus on football."

Bartomeu stepped down as Barca president in October ahead of a vote of no confidence in his leadership, a move that followed a close season of turmoil in which Messi attempted to leave Camp Nou.

Elections to choose his successor are scheduled to take place on Sunday amid another turbulent episode at Barca, with Laporta the favourite to return for a second stint in charge.

It has long-been suggested that a new regime will look to install club legend Xavi as head coach, rumours Koeman says he has no time to focus on.

"I'm not worried about Xavi. I have a contract," he added.

"When we know who the president is, we will have to speak and [he will] show me his way. This week only plays tomorrow's game."

For Koeman the immediate focus is on attempting to overturn a 2-0 deficit against Sevilla, a team they defeated by the same scoreline in LaLiga on Sunday.

"We know we have a bad result to come back from, but I think we have a chance. The team is very hungry," he said.

"The team has focused on doing good things. We have to ask for more effectiveness and a clean sheet, which will be vital. 

"All clubs go through difficult times. A lot has happened to us this season. We are fighting to win things. In the end what counts is the field, the games, being with the group.

"This is the best place for me, until the last day I will try to do my best for Barca. How long will I be here, it doesn't influence me."

Pedri offered Koeman a pre-match boost by resuming training following the leg injury he sustained during the weekend meeting with Sevilla, but defender Ronald Araujo remains a doubt after a setback when returning from an ankle problem during the same match.

Lionel Messi is only ensured to stay with Barcelona if the presidential elections are won by Joan Laporta, says the favourite for Sunday's vote.

Laporta is bidding to return to the top job at Camp Nou following a successful tenure between 2003 and 2010, which began with the signing of Ronaldinho and concluded amid Pep Guardiola's glorious era in charge.

The emergence of Messi as world football's pre-eminent superstar also happened during that period and Laporta feels his established relationship can help to patch things up between the club and their record goalscorer.

Messi sought to leave Barca after the end of last season and is yet to announce his intentions for when his contract expires in June, with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain each linked to the 33-year-old.

Laporta was speaking at a debate alongside fellow candidates Victor Font and Toni Freixa on Tuesday.

Font believes his pledge to bring in Xavi as Barca coach would be persuasive for Messi, who he has earmarked for "a life contract", but Laporta primarily turned his attention towards Freixa, who worked under the presidencies of Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu when cracks in the relationship with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner started to appear.

"We will not be able to compete in money with other offers that [Messi] has," Laporta said.

"What he wants is to win again. I have a great relationship with Leo and he will value the proposal I make. 

"I am the only one who can ensure his continuity. If I don't win, I'm sure Leo won't continue at Barca. 

"He was not very happy with Freixa's time, when they let him see that he was expendable.

"My relationship with the Messi family has always been excellent."

Bartomeu's tenure, which ended in resignation last October after the Messi crisis was partially averted, was cast in an unsavoury light once more on Monday.

The former president was among four men arrested in relation to a raid on Barcelona's club offices by Catalan police, who are investigating possible economic crimes under Bartomeu's administration – reportedly in relation to the "Barcagate" scandal where a third party was allegedly paid to smear club greats including Messi and Guardiola.

The 58-year-old was provisionally released on Tuesday after spending a night in jail, appearing before a judge and exercising his right not to testify to charges of unfair administration and corruption in business.

Freixa expressed "sadness" and "surprise" that such matters should come to a head in election week, although Font went on the attack.

"[Bartomeu's arrest shows] the need and urgency to turn the page and build a new club model to prevent these things from happening," he said.

"We are talking about the possibility that a former president has used money from the entity to attack players and people around Barcelona, ​​including myself."

Laporta, arguably granted such a luxury by his strong position in the polls, opted to remain above the fray on the matter.

“We cannot prejudge or take advantage of this situation for our own benefit," he said.

"You have to let the process evolve. If responsibilities have to be clarified, we will do it."

David Beckham's Inter Miami are trying to woo Cristiano Ronaldo to MLS.

Ronaldo, 36, is contracted at Juventus until 2022, but his next move is seemingly already a discussion point.

And MLS could suit nicely if Beckham has his way.

 

TOP STORY – BECKHAM'S INTER MIAMI EYE CRISTIANO

Beckham is speaking to Ronaldo's representatives about a move to Inter Miami, according to todofichajes.com.

The Portugal international is understood to be interested by the challenge of joining the club in the United States.

The financial contract would be massive for Ronaldo but he may potentially make the move next January, lowering the transfer fee, given the MLS runs from March to December.

Lionel Messi was reportedly previously sounded out about a possible US switch.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Express are reporting that Gareth Bale's recent form upturn means Tottenham are now keen to sign him permanently, with the Welshman having joined on loan from Real Madrid. Subsequently, the funds availed from a permanent transfer could enable Madrid to enter the fray for Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe.

West Ham, Leicester City, Southampton, Brighton and Hove Albion and Aston Villa are among the list of clubs interested in Tammy Abraham if Chelsea deem him surplus to requirements, according to The Telegraph.

- The Star claims the Hammers are also keen on two other young English strikers; Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah and Brentford's Ivan Toney.

- Deportivo Alaves goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco is being pursued by Premier League pair Leeds United and Southampton, according to todofichajes.com.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is hopeful his leading marksman Karim Benzema will be available to return from injury in Sunday's huge LaLiga derby against leaders Atletico Madrid.

Benzema is Madrid's top-scorer this season with 17 goals in all competitions but has missed their past three games due to an unspecified knock.

The France international's finishing touch was missed in Monday's 1-1 draw with Real Sociedad, which leaves third-placed Los Blancos five points behind Atletico having played a game more.

"We hope he can be with us, but we have to wait and see because he still hasn't trained with the team," Zidane said.

"We'll assess the situation tomorrow. He's OK. Karim's injury is much better and we'll take a look at him."

In Benzema's absence, Madrid have collected two 1-0 wins plus the 1-1 draw with Sociedad, so his attacking prowess has been missed.

Highly rated 20-year-old Brazilian winger Vinicius Junior came off the bench to rescue a point for Zidane's side against Sociedad, scoring in the 89th minute for his third league goal of the campaign.

"I’m pleased he got the goal," Zidane said.

"We picked up a point and now we have to move on. It's the result of his hard work and effort. That's what we all have to keep doing."

Zidane remains bullish about Madrid's title hopes, with Atletico having stumbled in recent matches, collecting eight points from a possible 15, while they were also beaten by Chelsea in the Champions League last week.

Barcelona moved past Madrid into second with their 2-0 win at Sevilla on Saturday.

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