Ronaldinho believes Barcelona can chase down LaLiga leaders Real Madrid after his former Blaugrana team-mate Xavi restored "hope" at the club.

Barca have surged up the table after appointing Xavi as boss last November, climbing from ninth to third following a 14-game unbeaten run in the Spanish top flight, including a 4-0 Clasico thumping of Madrid,

That undefeated streak is the longest ongoing run in Europe's top-five leagues, and Barca have won six LaLiga matches in a row, keeping a clean sheet in the past three games.

Barca's next task will be a trip to Levante on Sunday as the Catalan club search for four straight wins in the competition without conceding for the first time since December 2018.

And Ronaldinho, who played with Xavi during his five-year spell at Barca between 2003 and 2008, believes the former midfielder has brought the faith back for the Blaugrana supporters.

"I have returned to take a good look at Barça with Xavi, who has returned and has brought us hope," he told Mundo Deportivo. 

"As my friend and former team-mate that he is, this excites people and me too. When he played, he already had a vision of the game as a coach. 

"He guided the game and I see it very well because he makes us want to watch Barca games again."

Barca evoked memories of the 2003-04 season, when they defeated Madrid 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu before making a late title charge, by demolishing Carlo Ancelotti's side on the road last month.

Xavi's team would move 12 points behind Madrid with victory at Levante, while still having a game in hand, and Ronaldinho says they can win the title.

"[The 2003-04 season win at Madrid] was a very nice comeback that we have had in our time and it can happen again," he added. 

"As I said, we are excited that Barca will play well again and I think anything is possible."

Pressed on whether Barca could complete the unthinkable turnaround to steal the LaLiga title from Madrid, the Brazil great responded: "I hope so and as a fan I am hoping that things go well and I think there can be."

While uncertainty remains where the LaLiga title will be heading when the season concludes, one thing is for sure; Ronaldinho has no intentions of entering management or coaching any time soon.

"The truth is that I have never seen myself this way, it may be that in the future I will, when I have more patience," he said when asked if he would join Xavi as his assistant. 

"It's difficult when you leave football and you have a way of looking at it, wanting others to do things that are very difficult for them to do. So, I still have no patience."

Carlo Ancelotti praised Gareth Bale's professionalism after the Welshman was subjected to boos from sections of the Real Madrid fanbase during Saturday's win against Getafe.

Bale was a 74th-minute substitute during the 2-0 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu, completing four of five passes and hitting two shots, one of which tested Getafe goalkeeper David Soria from distance.

The 32-year-old has been a divisive figure in the Spanish capital, scoring crucial goals and winning four Champions League trophies in his time there, but he has missed a lot of football through injury in recent years.

Bale has also made it known he prefers to play for Wales than for his club, and is expected to bring his nine years at Madrid to an end when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Ancelotti refused to criticise the fans, but did praise Bale and insisted he will continue to play if fit.

"The fans are very important, such as against PSG," he said, referring to the recent dramatic 3-2 aggregate turnaround in the Champions League round of 16 against Paris Saint-Germain. 

"Bale has been whistled but he's a serious professional and if he's well, he can play."

Goals from Casemiro and Lucas Vazquez sealed the win, which restored Madrid's 12-point lead at the top of LaLiga, and Ancelotti was satisfied with his team's performance, but insisted the title race is not yet over.

"We're closer [to the title]," he said. "It's a good run but it's not over yet, we have to keep fighting, we have two away games now with Sevilla and Osasuna."

Los Blancos' next game is on Tuesday when Chelsea come to Spain for their Champions League quarter-final second leg, where Madrid will have a 3-1 aggregate lead.

The Blues warmed up for the clash with an emphatic 6-0 win at Southampton on Saturday, and Ancelotti remains wary of his former club, saying: "It will be a difficult game, we have to prepare it as if we don't have that advantage.

"Today, [Chelsea] won by many goals. We are going to have to be very focused."

Real Madrid secured victory against Getafe at the Santiago Bernabeu to restore their 12-point lead at the top of LaLiga on Saturday.

It was a relatively comfortable evening's work for Madrid, with Casemiro's first-half header and Lucas Vazquez's second-half finish sealing a 2-0 win.

Madrid controlled the game from start to finish, and Carlo Ancelotti was even able to save the legs of some of his key players.

The coach made four changes from the midweek Champions League win against Chelsea, resting Dani Carvajal, Ferland Mendy, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric with one eye on the quarter-final second leg.

Stamford Bridge hat-trick hero Karim Benzema remained in the line-up and had the ball in the net inside four minutes after a long pass from David Alaba fell kindly to him, only to see the flag go up for offside.

Madrid dominated the early stages but struggled to create chances, with Federico Valverde coming closest with a volley from a Benzema cross, forcing a tremendous save from David Soria.

The deadlock was broken in the 38th minute after Vinicius Junior put in a delightful cross with the outside of his right foot for Casemiro to head in at the far post.

The hosts knocked on the door for another soon after the break, with Valverde again going close with a free-kick from range.

But Madrid were made to wait until the 68th minute when Vazquez played a neat one-two on the right with Rodrygo before placing the ball with his left foot into the far corner of the net.

The visitors showed a brief glimpse of fight at the end, with Enes Unal hitting the post with an effort in the 90th minute, but it was merely a minor scare for the league leaders.

Jan Oblak admitted Atletico Madrid must improve on their performance in defeat to Real Mallorca when they host Manchester City in the Champions League. 

Atletico face City in the second leg of their quarter-final at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday, trailing 1-0 from the first game in Manchester. 

They surprisingly lost by the same scoreline to relegation-threatened Mallorca at the Visit Mallorca Estadi on Saturday, with Vedat Muriqi's penalty settling a contest low on quality. 

LaLiga's reigning champions saw their six-game top-flight winning streak end abruptly but remain fourth – three points behind Sevilla in second. 

Oblak was unhappy with the decision to award the penalty after Reinildo was judged to have fouled Pablo Maffeo but conceded the Rojiblancos did not play well enough to win. 

"Things didn't work out today," the Slovenian goalkeeper said after the game. "Mallorca played a good defensive game. It was a difficult game. 

"In the end, with a dry pitch, with sun, with everything, it's complicated. I'm not looking for excuses. We have to do more and better. Today was not enough for the three points. 

 

"We didn't have [the Champions League game] in mind, but I'm sure the first leg has taken its toll. We've been a bit tired, heavy... We haven't played the game we had to play. Next it's City and we have to do much better to win on Wednesday. 

"Reinildo has also told me that it wasn't [a penalty]. I saw it from behind and it didn't seem like it to me. But if the VAR people don't want to warn him, nothing can be done. I've told the referee that it's not a penalty. Football is a contact sport and it can happen that after clearing the ball you touch someone. 

"The intensity wasn't at the level that it had to be for the whole team. In the end, you lose a game that you didn't have to lose. You can't let the other team play with more enthusiasm. You have to go in wanting to win and take the three points." 

Head coach Diego Simeone also dismissed the notion that his team had one eye on City. 

"We started the game well, but it was costing us," he told reporters. "We were elaborate, generated danger, but defensively they were very good. The penalty made us look to force a draw, but it wasn't to be. 

"It's easy to blame a lack of concentration, but we couldn't break their orderly and correct defense." 

Xavi had no issue with Dani Alves' controversial opinion on Erling Haaland's worth, saying he would forgive his former Barcelona team-mate for anything. 

Alves, 38, is back at Barca as a veteran player under Xavi, having featured alongside the coach in hugely successful Blaugrana teams earlier this century. 

Xavi has enjoyed being able to work with his old colleague again, but Barca have their sights set on rather more ambitious signings at the end of this season. 

Borussia Dortmund sensation Haaland has regularly been linked with a move to Camp Nou, although Barca are far from alone in admiring a striker whose contract reportedly includes a €75million release clause. 

However, right-back Alves has claimed Kylian Mbappe – widely expected to join rivals Real Madrid – "is a more complete player than Haaland in all aspects of the game". 

"I wouldn't do crazy things for Haaland," the Brazil defender told Sport. "Honestly, I wouldn't spend a lot of money on him." 

Alves' employers Barca, on the other hand, may well be up for splashing out on the 21-year-old – but that does not mean Xavi was concerned by his player's comments. 

"I forgive Dani everything, anything he says," the Barca boss said at a media conference ahead of Sunday's game against Levante. "He's a phenomenon, really. 

"Sometimes you guys complain that you don't have headlines, right? Well, with Dani, it's hard to choose just one. He is a phenomenon. 

"The truth is that the signing of him has gone very well for us, he is a natural leader. It is a spectacle, both for us and for you." 

On Haaland, Xavi added: "We'll see. Yes, we are planning for next year, but let's see. The situation is not easy, especially financially, economically." 

Whether Barca can afford the type of sums required to both sign and pay Haaland remains to be seen, but Xavi is confident he has the club's backing. 

"[The club] know my priorities," he said. "From here on, whatever we can do, well, we are going to do it, but it is true that we have to be very prudent and very cautious because the economic situation is what it is." 

Atletico Madrid missed the chance to go joint-second in LaLiga after they were beaten 1-0 by relegation-threatened Real Mallorca. 

Vedat Muriqi's penalty settled a scrappy contest at the Visit Mallorca Estadi, where Diego Simeone's side saw their six-match winning streak come to an end. 

The reigning champions remain fourth in the table – three points behind second-place Sevilla – but have now won just twice in their last 11 away league meetings with Mallorca. 

Meanwhile, Javier Aguirre's side climbed out the relegation zone after ending a run of seven straight defeats. 

Seeking a seventh straight league win and aiming to bounce back from their midweek Champions League defeat by Manchester City, Atletico dominated large periods of a stop-start first half. 

Marcos Llorente and Antoine Griezmann were narrowly off target but despite enjoying over two-thirds of the possession, the visitors were unable to turn their superiority into the opening goal of the contest. 

Mallorca went close to breaking the deadlock within a minute of the restart. Brian Olivan, who last found the net on the opening day of this season, drew a smart save out of Jan Oblak with his 20-yard volley. 

The hosts eventually opened the scoring midway through the second half, Muriqi confidently firing home from the penalty spot after Reinildo felled Pablo Maffeo in the box. 

While Atletico continued to enjoy superiority in possession, they were unable to generate a threat to truly trouble Mallorca, who held on to complete only a fourth league double over Los Rojiblancos despite the loss of Iddrisu Baba to a head injury late on. 

Kylian Mbappe is a more complete player than Erling Haaland, according to Barcelona defender Dani Alves.

Two of the hottest properties in world football, both players are heavily linked with moves away from their respective clubs.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe, who is widely believed to be heading to Real Madrid in the close season, has scored 28 goals and assisted a further 17 in 38 appearances across all competitions this term.

Meanwhile, despite a string of injuries, Haaland has been directly involved in 29 goals (scoring 23 and assisting six) for Borussia Dortmund in 2021-22.

Barcelona are among a host of clubs reportedly interested in both forwards, with Manchester City and Real Madrid also in contention to make blockbuster moves.

 

But if the Blaugrana are to spend big on one of them, Alves believes that Mbappe should be their main priority. 

Speaking to Sport, the veteran defender said: "Mbappe is a more complete player than Haaland in all aspects of the game.

"I wouldn't do crazy things for Haaland. Honestly, I wouldn't spend a lot of money on him.

"I would spend a lot of money on Mbappe, but not on Haaland.

"If you are going to make a giant investment, you have to do it in the best way. If it depended on me, I would bet on Mbappe."

Diego Simeone says he does not care what others think in response to criticism of his methods following Atletico Madrid's Champions League loss to Manchester City.

Atleti slumped to a first-leg defeat at Etihad Stadium against Pep Guardiola's side, after Kevin De Bruyne struck in the second half to secure a 1-0 advantage in the quarter-final tie.

Simeone's side failed to register a single shot throughout the match, becoming the first team for a decade to do so in the competition in the process, after APOEL in 2012.

That performance prompted criticism from ex-Atleti coach Arrigo Sacchi.

Simeone's approach was the subject of intense scrutiny from Sacchi, who bemoaned that the Argentine's defensive capabilities had turned his team of title-winners into a "boring" team.

But speaking ahead of his side's trip to Mallorca in LaLiga on Saturday, Simeone stated he does not care to listen to their verdicts.

"I don't think what others think," he responded when asked about criticism of his approach. "Everyone has their own thoughts, everyone is respectable.

"From humility, [we have to] keep working and do our best for Atletico Madrid. We cannot value what people from outside may think or speak."

Atleti also look set to face repercussions from fan discord during their midweek defeat, after UEFA confirmed they had opened an investigation into the club's supporters.

"Disciplinary proceedings have been instigated in accordance with Article 55 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations," read an official statement from the governing body.

"The charges against Club Atletico de Madrid [are] discriminatory behaviour [under] Article 14 [and] throwing of objects [under] Article 16(2)(b).

"The UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body (CEDB) will decide on the matter in due course."

Carlo Ancelotti wants Gareth Bale to leave Real Madrid in a blaze of glory rather than with his reputation sullied, hailing the Welsh winger as a history maker.

Bale was a €100million (£85.3m) signing from Tottenham nine years ago during Ancelotti's first stint as Los Blancos coach, and with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema he formed part of a thrilling front three.

The 32-year-old has already won the Champions League four times in Madrid, as well as two LaLiga titles, but in recent seasons Bale has been nudged towards the fringes of the squad.

Injuries have been a factor, and while Bale has been reliably brilliant for the Wales national team, opportunities in Madrid have become sporadic. He spent last season on loan at Tottenham.

His contract expires at the end of June, and Bale will be moving on. This season he has faced vicious criticism in some sections of the Spanish media, recently being dubbed a "parasite" in sports daily Marca, and there has been a danger of him leaving without any fanfare, or even amid a torrent of negativity.

Bale did not help himself when he paraded a flag bearing the immortal slogan "Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order" after helping his national team qualify for Euro 2020.

Yet head coach Ancelotti says Bale, who could face Getafe in LaLiga on Saturday, is worthy of respect for his achievements in Spain.

He has scored 81 goals in 175 LaLiga games for the club, and has managed five goals and two assists in eight league games against Getafe.

In the Champions League, Bale has totted up 16 goals and 12 assists in 41 starts and 16 substitute appearances. That figure includes two crucial goals in Madrid's 3-1 defeat of Liverpool in the 2018 final in Kyiv.

The most recent outing from the bench came on Wednesday, late in the day as Madrid won 3-1 at Chelsea in the first leg of their quarter-final.

Madrid could yet win a famous double in Bale's final season at the club.

"Gareth Bale is fit right now. I'm sure he wants to show it here at Real Madrid," said Ancelotti. "It would be deserved and right for him to bid farewell to the Bernabeu.

"He expects confidence in him from us. He wants to finish his career at Real Madrid on a high note. We will see how it goes.

"He has already made history at Real Madrid with his games, his goals and his triumphs. He's a very respected player, and we want the best for him."

Karim Benzema was served a rich compliment when Carlo Ancelotti said the Real Madrid striker reminds him of the great Marco van Basten.

Madrid head coach Ancelotti told a news conference he also expects Benzema to remain a talisman for the LaLiga giants, even if the club bring in Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland before next season.

French striker Benzema has 10 goals in his last four games, boosting his total to 37 in 36 appearances during a remarkable campaign for the 34-year-old club captain.

It will not have escaped Benzema's attention that Madrid are engaged in long-term planning, with his France team-mate Mbappe thought to be their prime target.

Paris Saint-Germain frontman Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund's Haaland are the two hottest young properties in the European game, and it might not be beyond the realm of possibility that both end up in Madrid.

Asked how that might change Benzema's position in the pecking order, Ancelotti cast doubt on whether it should make any immediate difference.

"Considering Karim's age, and considering the fact over the past years he's been getting better and better, I don't think this situation will change," Ancelotti said. "I know he will continue to do well, and he's one of the most important players of this club. We will see what happens, but I'm sure nothing will change for him."

Ancelotti, whose Madrid side face Getafe on Saturday evening, was asked how Benzema compared to players he has coached in the past, including the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba.

This spurred the veteran Italian to mention Van Basten, his former Milan team-mate and a Dutch legend whose career was cruelly cut short by injury.

"It's really difficult to make these comparisons because we're talking about different eras and different people," Ancelotti responded.

"I think comparing him to Van Basten is actually a good comparison. I think they would both appreciate that comparison, Marco and Karim."

It remains to be seen whether Ancelotti remains at the helm with Madrid next season.

His team are close to securing the LaLiga title, holding a 12-point lead over Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, and a 3-1 win at Chelsea on Wednesday gave them a handsome first-leg lead in their Champions League quarter-final.

Benzema's hat-trick at Stamford Bridge should mean Tuesday's second leg is one that Madrid can safely negotiate.

Yet doubts exist and rumours circulate about whether Madrid are planning to stick with Ancelotti, who arrived ahead of this season after a stint with Everton.

Asked about his prospects, Ancelotti said: "I enjoy what I do every day. I love the atmosphere we have in the team and I'm 100 per cent focused on my work.

"When the season is over, we will evaluate everything, and we will make decisions."

He refused to give himself a mark out of 10 for his performance so far.

"I'm not giving myself any marks," he said. "I have to give it my all, and we have to wait until the end of the season to see if we are lucky enough and have enough quality to win titles, and then we will draw conclusions."

Arrigo Sacchi labelled Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid as "boring" and says the Spanish club should have spent money on changing their style of play.

Atleti have become famed for their organised, defensive set-ups in their 11 years under Simeone, and those tactics were again on show in Tuesday's 1-0 loss to Manchester City.

Simeone's team failed to muster a single shot in the Champions League quarter-final first leg, making them the first side to do so in the competition since APOEL against Real Madrid in March 2012.

Indeed, since such data was first recorded from 2003-04, there have been only four instances of a side failing to register at least one shot in a single match.

Simeone's tactics have led to plenty of success over the past decade, however, with Atleti winning eight trophies – including last season's LaLiga – while also reaching the Champions League final twice.

While Sacchi respects what the Argentine has achieved, the coaching legend cannot get on board with Atleti's style of play.

"Simeone has achieved many results in recent years," Sacchi, who coached Atleti for a brief spell in 1998-99, told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"There is no doubt that his experience as a player in Italy has influenced him as a coach.

"First of all, don't concede goals and then let's see what happens, let's rely on the talent of some individuals and hope for the best.

"It's true that Atletico have quality elements, but instead of buying players and spending a lot of money, they should have spent the money on changing their style.

"Let's face it: this way of playing is boring for the audience. The fans ask for beauty, they ask for emotions. What emotion can there be in a long ball?"

Atleti have averaged 50 per cent possession in LaLiga this season, which is outside the top 40 among teams across Europe's top five leagues.

For comparison, Man City lead that metric with 68 per cent of the ball per game on average in the Premier League, followed by Atleti's domestic rivals Barcelona (65 per cent).

Atleti's 11,033 successful passes in the Spanish top flight this season, meanwhile, is only the eighth-most, placing them behind the likes of Real Sociedad (11,204) and Celta Vigo (11,653).

Despite his reservations regarding the way Atleti are coached, Sacchi acknowledged that Simeone's men still have a good chance of overcoming City in next week's return fixture on home soil.

"We must be honest, the tie between the Spaniards and City is still open. Anything could happen in the second leg," he said.

"Atletico didn't have a single shot on goal, that's true, but it's not like City had a lot. Apart from [Kevin] De Bruyne's goal, which was beautiful in its build-up and execution, I don't remember many scoring chances.

"It was a challenge for them so it wasn't fun. Atletico didn't want to play football, but City had a duty to do something more to overcome the wall."

Barcelona have asserted they will not break the bank in pursuit of Erling Haaland, but they remain keen on a striker to help Xavi's rebuild.

Robert Lewandowski is seen as a potential option if does not extend his deal at Bayern Munich.

According to reports, Lewandowski is weighing up his options, as Barcelona prepare themselves for a possible move.

 

TOP STORY – DEST TO BE USED AS MAKEWEIGHT?

Sergino Dest will be added as a sweetener to get a potential deal for Bayern's Lewandowski to Barcelona over the line, Sport reports.

Bayern already made a transfer request during the previous off-season's transfer window for the 21-year-old United States international, who has struggled for consistent minutes since Xavi took over as coach in November.

While a combination of Ronald Araujo, Dani Alves and Oscar Mingueza have all filled in at right back this season, Dest has been increasingly viewed as expendable under Xavi's tenure.

Lewandowski's contract runs out in 2023, but a move at the end of this season is still on the cards. Barca could use Dest to partly subsidise what is sure to be a huge asking price.

 

ROUND-UP

– The agent of Chelsea and Germany forward Timo Werner has been in Italy meeting with representatives from MilanJuventus and Atalanta, according to Corriere dello Sport.

– Ajax and Netherlands midfielder Ryan Gravenberch has agreed personal terms with Bayern Munich, per Bild.

– The Mirror is reporting senior figures at Inter are now more open to the idea of a return for Chelsea and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku.

– Villarreal and Netherlands winger Arnaut Danjuma is viewed by Liverpool as a potential replacement for Sadio Mane, Goal has reported, but the Reds are not expected to make a bid until 2023.

Xavi has reiterated his admiration for Ousmane Dembele's professionalism as the Barcelona boss confirmed negotiations over a new contract for the winger were under way.

Dembele was told publicly to leave Barca by the club during the January transfer window, after contract talks broke down.

The France international's current deal runs out at the end of the season, meaning he will be able to leave Camp Nou on a free transfer.

However, with no move having materialised before the end of January, Dembele has been reintegrated into Xavi's squad and seems to have rediscovered his form.

Dembele has started Barca's last four LaLiga matches, providing five assists across those appearances.

The 24-year-old also scored and teed up two other goals as a substitute in a 4-0 win over Athletic Bilbao at the end of February.

On Tuesday, with Barca's squad given a day off ahead of travelling to Germany for the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final against Eintracht Frankfurt, Dembele was spotted going to the club's training ground, with reports stating that he did extra physical work.

"He's an example in the way he trains, the way he plays, his attitude and commitment," Xavi told a news conference when asked about Dembele. 

"I don't know how he was before but I've got no complaints. I see a very happy, very motivated player and with his winning attitude.

"He's happy and comfortable here and so that's not a surprise that he trained on his day off. He's a great professional, I said that when he wasn't playing as well."

Dembele created seven chances in Barca's win over Sevilla on Sunday, also providing the pass for Pedri's goal in a 1-0 victory.

Earlier this week, Barca executive Mateu Alemany reportedly met with Dembele's agent to restart negotiations over a new deal, and this speculation was confirmed by Xavi.

"It is a negotiation. We are also in talks with Ronald [Araujo], Gavi, Sergi Roberto, it is a process," he said.

"The club knows my priorities and we are working. Hopefully Dembele can stay, with work he can be the best in his position.

"The club is working hard and I hope they decide to stay. Gavi, Araujo, Dembele... if we can have them next year we'll be a better team and squad."

Xavi was equally as effusive in his praise for Araujo, who he revealed has agreed to fresh terms.

"For us he is a guarantee and Barcelona have a central defender for ten years or more," Xavi said.

"There are few central defenders in the world like him. He has been the key in the negotiation. He is very humble, direct, he is a luxury.

"I am delighted. As a person he is a hard worker. Barcelona fans can be proud that he has decided to stay at Barcelona."

Xavi's rebuild at Barcelona has had to take place with tighter purse strings than you might usually expect.

The club that reportedly spent a combined €275million on Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho in the same season are now on the hunt for a new winger, and Raphinha seemingly fits the criteria.

Whether they can convince Leeds to sell for a price that suits all parties will apparently be made clear in the next few weeks.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA EYE RAPHINHA

Talks have commenced for Raphinha's potential move from Leeds United to Barcelona, per Nicolo Schira.

Raphinha's agent, former Barcelona and Chelsea star Deco, has been in contact with the Catalan giants since early March, but the Brazilian winger's €70m release clause has been a roadblock for the cash-strapped club.

The Blaugrana remain the preferred destination for the 25-year-old, who has tallied nine goals and three assists in 28 appearances for embattled Leeds.

It is reported Barcelona will try to come up with an acceptable package for the Premier League club in the coming weeks.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Manchester Evening News is reporting Paris Saint-Germain have made an offer to Manchester United's Paul Pogba, as he enters the final months of his contract.

– Tottenham and England striker Harry Kane would consider an offer from Manchester United before weighing up his long-term future, according to The Athletic.

Manchester City are hopeful of agreeing a new contract with 21-year-old England midfielder Phil Foden, per 90min.

– Despite interest from Liverpool and Manchester United, Ronald Araujo's agent has disclosed to ESPN that a new long-term deal with Barcelona is imminent.

Kylian Mbappe could help Real Madrid score "triple" the amount of goals if he were to join from Paris Saint-Germain, according to Los Blancos striker Karim Benzema.

France superstar Mbappe is nearing the end of his PSG contract and has been continually linked with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu, a transfer that would see him link up with Les Bleus team-mate Benzema.

Mbappe has 28 goals and 20 assists from 38 appearances across all competitions this season, while Benzema is top of LaLiga's goalscoring charts with 24.

Speaking with L'Equipe, Benzema said he is excited by the prospect of playing alongside Mbappe at Madrid.

"I like to play with [Mbappe] in the national team, and I would like to play with him in the club," he said.

"I think [Madrid] would score twice as many goals – or maybe even triple."

Benzema also discussed his goals with the national team after returning from a six-year exile last year.

"[Playing for France] is a pride for me, and I am happy," he said.

"There is a good adaptation, the level is very high, and that is what I like the most. Now I want to win a trophy with the France team."

Benzema missed Real Madrid's 4-0 El Clasico humbling at the hands of Barcelona and said it was not just the margin of victory that was concerning but the manner in which it took place.

"El Clasico, from the stands, I had a bad time," he said. "We were on a good run, and we had everything [in place] to continue.

"In fact, you can lose a match 4-0, don't worry. But not like that. 

"We didn't show anything, we didn't try, we didn't show who we were. We let them play."

Real Madrid will be back in action on Wednesday in Champions League quarter-final action at Stamford Bridge, with Benzema saying: "Chelsea are a great team, and we will try to get a good result in London."

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