Despite the change and uncertainty at Manchester United since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement, the one constant on the pitch has been a dysfunctional midfield.

The Red Devils appear intent on changing that, amid the backdrop of Paul Pogba's contract expiring at the end of the season, while a season remains on Nemanja Matic's deal after the end of this term.

Their idea of a solution will reportedly come from within the Premier League.

 

TOP STORY – MANCHESTER UNITED TARGET WARD-PROWSE

Incoming Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag wants James Ward-Prowse to spearhead a transformation of his new side's midfield, The Sun is reporting.

Ten Hag faces a substantial rebuild at Old Trafford and with the club set to miss out on Champions League qualification, a £150million asking price from West Ham for Declan Rice reportedly appears too steep.

Ward-Prowse appears to be the alternative, with Ten Hag reportedly an admirer and reportedly costing half the price of Rice. 

The 27-year-old's contract with Southampton runs until 2026, but the lure of a club of United's stature would be hard to resist.

ROUND-UP

- Ousmane Dembele has a more lucrative offer from  Paris Saint-Germain but the 24-year-old is intent on staying at Barcelona, Sport is reporting.

- Manchester City are confident Pep Guardiola will sign a new deal at the end of the season, with the Sunday Mirror reporting talks have taken place to extend his tenure to 2025.

- The Sunday Mirror is also reporting that Manchester United are interested in signing Feyenoord's 22-year-old left-back, Tyrell Malacia.

- Milan have agreed terms with Lille to sign  Renato Sanches, per Calciomercato, with the midfielder set to join for €20million plus add-ons.

Christopher Nkunku has long been on the various of Europe's big clubs, but this season has been a breakout.

The 24-year-old France attacker has contributed an extraordinary 17 goals and 15 assists in 30 league appearances for RB Leipzig this term.

Investcorp's reported takeover of Milan from Elliott Management, and the consequent injection of funds, has reportedly put Nkunku in Milan's sights.

 

TOP STORY – NKUNKU ON MILAN RADAR

A change in ownership is allowing Milan to go after RB Leipzig's Cristopher Nkunku, the Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting.

Milan's Scudetto charges in recent years have fallen short up front despite the quality of their midfield, but the change of ownership can dictate a change in transfer strategy.

Meetings with Sassuolo for Gianluca Scamacca and Hamed Traore could be scuppered because the likes of Nkunku would become available.

Any such moves would reportedly not rule out a transfer for Liverpool striker Divock Origi that is already in the works, however.

 

ROUND-UP

– Liverpool have identified Barcelona's 17-year-old talent Gavi as a potential target in an attempt to bolster their midfield at the end of the season, Sport is reporting.

– The Reds are also prepared to offer a new contract to Sadio Mane, whose current deal expires at the end of next season, per Football Insider.

Arsenal are interested in signing Lille's Kosovo attacker Edon Zhegrova, according to Sky Sports.

– Newcastle United have shown renewed interest in Torino defender Gleison Bremer, who is also on Arsenal and Tottenham's radar, Tuttomercato reports.

Along with Brenden Aaronson and Luka Sucic, Karim Adeyemi is part of a young core enjoying a breakout season at Salzburg.

In his third season in the Austrian Bundesliga, the 20-year-old has come up with 16 goals and three assists in 24 league appearances, and earned his first international cap for Germany last September.

Reports also suggest that a return to Germany at domestic level is imminent.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND CLOSE IN ON ADEYEMI

Borussia Dortmund and Salzburg have reached a basic agreement over the transfer of Karim Adeyemi, according to reports from Sky Sport Germany.

After several rounds of talks, this week has finally seen a breakthrough between the two clubs, with €35million the reported fee the two clubs have agreed on.

However, Dortmund are still to arrive at a point that satisfies Adeyemi and his representatives on personal terms.

According to the report, all three parties are looking to finalise the deal, but RB Leipzig, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain also remain interested.

ROUND-UP

Harry Kane is set to turn down a move to Manchester United, with Erik ten Hag reportedly due to take over at Old Trafford instead of Kane's former boss Mauricio Pochettino, the Mirror reports.

– United have been given a boost in their pursuit of Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger however, as talks with Barcelona have reportedly stalled, according to the Sun.

Newcastle United have targeted Sevilla's Diego Carlos as a viable alternative if Sven Botman opts to join Milan, per the Chronicle.

– Football Insider reports Villarreal are seeking to permanently sign Giovani Lo Celso from Tottenham, having had the 26-year-old on loan since January.

– Meanwhile, Football Insider also reports that Manchester City have made Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni their top priority to replace Fernandinho.

Didier Deschamps says those who jeered Jonathan Clauss on his full debut are not true supporters and their opinion therefore does not count.

Clauss was handed a first start for Les Blues in Tuesday's 5-0 friendly win against South Africa, four days after earning his maiden cap as a late substitute against Ivory Coast.

However, the occasion – and indeed France's emphatic victory – was somewhat overshadowed by the reaction Clauss received from a section of his country's own fans.

The 28-year-old was targeted at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, the home of club side Lens' fierce rivals Lille, and Deschamps has praised the full-back for the way he handled the boos.

"I wanted to make him as comfortable as possible, so I find it regrettable to say the least what happened," he said at his post-match news conference.

"It goes against what the France team is, but it didn't stop him from bouncing back. Those who foolishly protested with whistles, it was faded by what he was doing on the pitch."

Asked if the jeers call into question France's decision to stage friendlies away from the Stade de France, Deschamps said: "No, I don't think so.

"But the fact we're talking about it, even if it was only a few people, encourages them to do it. It must be a non-subject – there's no place for it in a stadium.

"There is a rivalry between clubs, which I understand, but here we are with the France team. 

"I ask them to do everything possible to unite the team. The other people are not supporters; they don't matter."

Clauss can be pleased with his display, having intercepted the ball more times than anyone (five), while only Adrien Rabiot won possession more often (14 compared to seven).

In an attacking sense, meanwhile, only Olivier Giroud (eight) and Kylian Mbappe (20) had more touches in the opposition box than the defender's five, level with Lucas Digne.

"He has a lot of dynamism and is able to defend," Deschamps added. "I told him not to play with the handbrake today."

Mbappe scored twice in France's routine victory and assisted Matteo Guendouzi's first international goal late on after Khuliso Mudau had been sent off for the visitors.

In doing so, Mbappe became the first player to net in five successive France matches since Karim Benzema did so between November 2013 and June 2014.

The Paris Saint-Germain striker is 25 goals short of Thierry Henry's record of 51 for France, but Deschamps insists his side are not a one-man team.

"It's not Kylian and the others, but Kylian with the others – that's important.

"His legs were on fire today. His ability to score and accelerate places him among the world's most outstanding players."

Wissam Ben Yedder was also on target for France, as was Olivier Giroud with his 48th international goal, moving him within touching distance of Henry's all-time record.

Giroud will be 36 by the time the 2022 World Cup comes around in November and Deschamps could not offer any guarantees over his long-term future in the squad.

"I've had discussions with him, as I have with many players," Deschamps said. "I don't know about the future and neither does he.

"But when he's here, he has the ability to score. His profile is well known – he's a support striker. He has this sense of the goal and is important for us even without scoring."

Thomas Tuchel says he wants Chelsea to be the side that everyone aims to avoid heading into the Champions League quarter-finals.

The reigning champions kept their title defence on track on Wednesday by advancing to the last eight with a 4-1 aggregate victory over Lille.

Leading 2-0 from the first leg at Stamford Bridge three weeks ago, Tuchel's side fell behind at Stade Pierre-Mauroy to a Burak Yilmaz penalty.

However, Christian Pulisic responded in first-half stoppage time, before Cesar Azpilicueta completed the turnaround with 19 minutes remaining.

Tuchel is hopeful his side will have the fear factor in the quarter-final draw, which takes place on Friday.

The head coach also heaped praise on skipper Azpilicueta, whose last Champions League goal also came against Lille back in December 2019.

"I want us to be the team nobody wants to play," Tuchel said. "That's the role we want to see ourselves in this last eight.

"[Azpilicueta] is maybe the perfect example to describe a person as a leader. He is doing it in good times and bad times, if he is a regular starter or not. 

"If he is playing a wing-back, which is maybe not his best position, he is there. We do not need extra, extra at the moment; we just need reliable teamwork and reliable spirit.

"I don't know if Azpi is talking to the players; I just know he is doing what he normally does."

Chelsea are back in action on Sunday, when they travel to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

The build-up to the tie was dominated by the club requesting that home supporters also be blocked from attending the Riverside, after restrictions imposed following the sanctioning of owner Roman Abramovich rendered them unable to sell any tickets beyond the 600 already sold from their away allocation.

The Blues subsequently withdrew the request, which had been met with widespread ridicule and opposition, with Tuchel also welcoming that decision.

"We love to play in front of spectators and I don't think the spectators of our opponents should suffer from the consequences," he added. "We love to play in front of spectators. 

"Me and the team were not involved in this decision. We were happy it was withdrawn."

Chelsea's culture was pivotal to them overcoming tough circumstances to reach the Champions League quarter-finals, according to Thomas Tuchel. 

There were question marks over the Blues' ability to travel to Lille for the second leg of their Champions League games after sanctions were imposed on their owner Roman Abramovich by the United Kingdom government. 

Upon arrival in France, there were concerns the game may not have been able to go ahead after the European Union hit Abramovich with further sanctions. 

However, Chelsea - who are expected to be sold to new owners before the end of the season - were able to take on Lille and fought back after falling behind to Burak Yilmaz's first-half penalty. 

Goals from Christian Pulisic and Cesar Azpilicueta sealed a 4-1 aggregate win over the Ligue 1 champions, with Tuchel claiming a record-breaking 32nd victory after 50 Champions League games as a coach. 

"The quarter-finals is a big step. We showed resilience and mentality to overcome difficulties. We did what was necessary. We dug in and got a deserved win. It's difficult here," Tuchel told BT Sport. 

"Chelsea has this kind of culture within the club where we work every day. What I found from day one was a football first mentality. Everybody pushes the first team every three days, everybody goes to the limit and is focused on football. 

"We've been trying to implement an atmosphere. This culture is already installed and this helps us now to focus with difficult and distracting times because it's always there. 

"We encourage the players. It feels so good we can still produce results and I'm proud." 

Chelsea struggled to create chances until Pulisic's goal on the stroke of half-time, while Xeka hit the post for Lille before Azpilicueta's goal. 

Tuchel said: "We weren't so good in the first half. The pitch was horrible and it made things complicated. It was a new pitch not ready to play on. The tactics weren't right in the first 20 minutes, I take responsibility. Then it was more fluid. 

"It was very important to calm everyone down. We were lucky with the post. 

"We hope and expect to carry on. We want to compete. It took a lot of sacrifice, we fought hard to be in the last eight. We're excited for the draw. We have a game in Middlesbrough three days later." 

Chelsea have now won four straight knockout games in the Champions League for just the second time. The last time they achieved that feat was in 2011-12, when they beat Bayern Munich on penalties in the final. 

Cesar Azpilicueta praised Chelsea's resilience after their win over Lille on Wednesday sent them into the Champions League quarter-finals. 

The Blues triumphed 2-1 in the second leg of the last-16 tie at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, going through 4-1 on aggregate. Yet it was not as easy as the scoreline suggested, with Burak Yilmaz putting Lille ahead in the first half. 

However, Christian Pulisic equalised on the stroke of half-time and Azpilicueta put the result beyond doubt when he completed the turnaround in the 71st minute. 

Chelsea are facing extraordinary circumstances following the freezing of owner Roman Abramovich's assets in the United Kingdom, but Azpilicueta showed pride in the team's ability to focus on the task at hand. 

"It has not been a normal last few weeks," Azpilicueta told BT Sport. "We are playing every three days, difficult games. We are happy to go through and win the game. 

"This group fights against everything. We know we have to do the best we can on the pitch. That is what we do. We stay together, we fight together. 

"Everything outside, the noise, it could sometimes be easier to let it go and lose the focus. But that's not us. We do everything we can that we have in our hands. From there, we have to keep playing every three days." 

The 32-year-old also scored a rare goal for Chelsea, only his 16th in 463 appearances for the club. 

"I'm not very used to scoring, so I'm happy to score and put us through the quarter-finals," he said. 

"The first half, I don't think we started very well. They were very active, we knew it was going to be difficult. We made a few mistakes, they were dangerous, but the reaction was very good." 

Chelsea will face Middlesbrough in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday. 

Thomas Tuchel set a record for the most Champions League wins after 50 games as a coach in Chelsea's 2-1 win over Lille on Wednesday. 

The Blues' triumph at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in their last-16 second leg put Tuchel on 32 victories from a half-century of matches. 

It sent him past the previous benchmark set by Zinedine Zidane, who managed 31 wins in his first 50 Champions League games in the dugout. 

Chelsea had to come from behind to complete a 4-1 aggregate success against Lille, though. Christian Pulisic and Cesar Azpilicueta overturned Burak Yilmaz's opener from the penalty spot to send them into the quarter-finals.

Cesar Azpilicueta scored the winner as Chelsea came from behind to beat Lille 2-1 and advance to the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday. 

Amid questions over Chelsea's ability to travel and play in Europe because of EU sanctions imposed on their owner Roman Abramovich, the Blues kept their continental campaign alive by seeing out a 4-1 aggregate success in the last-16 tie. 

Burak Yilmaz put Lille in front at Stade Pierre-Mauroy when he drilled home a spot-kick, but Christian Pulisic restored parity in the third minute of first-half stoppage time. 

Xeka hit the post for Lille in the second half but Azpilicueta ended their hopes of progression and ensured it was holders Chelsea who were in the hat for the quarter-final draw. 

Chelsea struggled to turn their dominance of possession in the opening half an hour into chances and saw Andreas Christensen hobble off injured in the 33rd minute. 

Lille were awarded a penalty when Jorginho was deemed to have handled the ball after referee Davide Massa reviewed the video footage, with Yilmaz firing home to halve the aggregate deficit. 

However, Chelsea restored their two-goal cushion in the tie before half-time when Pulisic guided Jorginho's excellent throughball into the bottom-left corner. 

Yilmaz angled a header wide shortly after the restart, while Antonio Rudiger bent a half-volley narrowly outside the post from the edge of the box on the hour mark. 

Xeka headed a cross from Yilmaz against the upright before Azpilicueta met Mason Mount's cross at the back post and steered the ball past Leo Jardim to clinch victory in the 71st minute.

What does it mean? History for Tuchel 

Thomas Tuchel was taking charge of his 50th Champions League game at Stade Pierre-Mauroy and he made history by beating Lille. 

It was his 32nd victory in the competition, which is the most by a manager upon reaching a half-century of games. He surpassed the mark set by Zinedine Zidane, who won 31 of his first 50 matches as a coach in the Champions League. 

Cesar's a lad you can count on 

Azpilicueta marked moving level with Didier Drogba on 74 major European appearances for Chelsea with a finish the iconic striker would have been proud of. Frank Lampard (115) and John Terry (121) are the only outfielders to have played more continental games for the Blues. 

Burak fights back 

Yilmaz was an unlikely hero in Lille's Ligue 1 title run last season and he did his best to help them pull off another shock against Chelsea. He became the third oldest player to score in the Champions League at 36 years and 244 days old – behind only Ryan Giggs (37 years, 148 days) and Paolo Maldini (36 years, 333 days). 

What's next? 

Chelsea have an FA Cup quarter-final at Middlesbrough on Saturday, when Lille travel to Nantes in Ligue 1. 

Chelsea's Champions League match against Lille is set to take place as scheduled on Wednesday, UEFA has confirmed.

Last week, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the United Kingdom government in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

His assets have been frozen and restrictions have been placed on Chelsea, who cannot sell any new match tickets or merchandise and have caps on the amount they are able to spend to facilitate games being played both home and away.

Abramovich was subsequently sanctioned by the European Union (EU), which cast further doubt over the second leg of Chelsea's last-16 tie in Lille.

However, Thomas Tuchel's team have travelled to northern France and UEFA has confirmed that the match is set to go ahead.

"As it stands, the match is taking place as scheduled," UEFA told Stats Perform on Wednesday morning (GMT).

UEFA added that it "is fully committed to always implementing relevant EU and international sanctions".

A statement from European football's governing body explained: "Our understanding is that the present case is assessed in the context of the licence issued in the UK which allows Chelsea FC to continue minimum football activity whilst providing a safeguard that no financial gain will result for Mr Abramovich.

"We will work with the EU and relevant member states to ensure we have full clarity and remain in lockstep with all relevant and applicable measures in line with latest developments."

On Tuesday, Chelsea asked for their FA Cup match against Middlesbrough next weekend to be played behind closed doors in the interest of "sporting integrity", as the Blues are unable to sell tickets to any travelling away fans.

However, that request angered Middlesbrough and Chelsea subsequently withdrew it after widespread criticism.

Tuchel's side lead Lille 2-0 from the first leg thanks to goals from Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic at Stamford Bridge three weeks ago.

Thomas Tuchel will expect Chelsea to mark his 50th Champions League game as a boss with a win at Lille and Juve will be favourites to knock Villarreal out on Wednesday.

There is huge uncertainty at Stamford Bridge after Roman Abramovich put the club up for sale before having his assets frozen by the United Kingdom government, but the London club have won four consecutive games.

The holders travel to Lille for the second leg of the round-of-16 tie with a 2-0 lead courtesy of goals from the in-form Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic.

Juve and Villarreal will start their showdown at the Allianz Stadium locked at 1-1 after Dani Parejo equalised following Dusan Vlahovic's early strike.

Stats Perform picks out the standout Opta data ahead of the two games.

 

Lille v Chelsea

Havertz has become the Blues' main man, scoring four goals in his past three matches and six in seven.

Chelsea head coach Tuchel has won 31 of his 49 matches and can set a record for the most victories in his first 50 games as a boss in the competition with another success in Lille, as he is currently level with Zinedine Zidane's tally.

Lille's chances of forcing their way back into the tie appear to be slim, as not only do they trail by two goals, they have lost their past three Champions League games against the Premier League club.

They have also been eliminated from each of their three previous European knockout ties after losing the first leg.

The last side to progress against Champions League holders after failing to score in the opening leg was Arsenal versus Milan in 2007-08, with the first leg a goalless draw.

Each of Chelsea's past 11 wins in the Champions League have come with a clean sheet, 10 of which have come under Tuchel in just 14 matches.

Juventus v Villarreal

January signing Vlahovic set a record for the quickest goal by a Champions League debutant when he was on target after only 32 seconds of the first leg.

Juve are without a win in each of their past seven first-leg games in the Champions League (D3 L4), going on to be eliminated from four of their previous five knockout ties in the competition. 

Villarreal have won their past two away games in the Champions League, the same number of victories as they managed across the 15 such matches beforehand.

Juve have only lost three of their previous 23 Champions League matches at home to Spanish sides in this competition, winning 12 and drawing eight.

This will be Villarreal’s first visit to Juventus in any competition as they scent a place in the quarter-finals.

Juan Cuadrado is in line to make his 50th appearance for Bianconeri in the Champions League. He has provided 11 assists for the Serie A giants in the competition, which is the most by any player in the period since he first joined the club in 2015.

Kai Havertz says that he and his Chelsea team-mates would pay to travel to away games this season, adding that they must "give the fans a smile" amid the club's chaotic existence.

The Blues are currently under a fleet of financial sanctions in relation to owner Roman Abramovich, laid down by the United Kingdom government amid the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Those sanctions include a cap on the cost of travel for away games for the foreseeable future, raising serious questions over whether Chelsea can fulfil their fixture schedule.

But ahead of a trip to France to face Lille in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 clash on Wednesday, Havertz vowed that players would turn out their own pockets if needed to fund their journeys.

"I would pay, it's no problem," the German stated. "That's not a big deal for us. For us to come to the games, that's the most important thing.

"I think there are a lot of harder things in the world at the moment than if we have to take the train or the bus to an away game. I would pay. It's no problem.

"I think we are all professional footballers. Everyone knows it's a strange situation for everyone in the club right now.

"But we are the players, we have to focus on playing football, on the matches, that's the best we can do."

Havertz admitted that he was limited to what he could say amid the fluid situation of Chelsea's day-to-day existence and future, but added that the team could at the very least do their supporters proud.

"All the other stuff, the club has to sort out by themselves, that's not up to the players," he added. "I cannot talk about it too much because we are focused on the games and that's all we can do at the moment.

"It's not easy. I think such a situation has not happened at Chelsea before, so it's a little bit strange, but we are professionals and sometimes situations like this can happen.

"It's not easy for us all, especially for the whole club, the fans, everyone. The best we can do is play good football, try to give the fans a smile.

"In these sort of situations, everything is tough for us. As we saw at the weekend, we can handle these situations and hopefully tomorrow as well."

Edinson Cavani's stay at Manchester United seems to be coming to an end.

Signed as a free agent from Paris Saint-Germain in 2020, Cavani has found his game-time limited this season by both injury and managerial preferences, while it has also been claimed recently he has opted out of playing.

He is out of contract at the end of the season and appears determined to find a new club.

 

TOP STORY – CAVANI WANTS LALIGA SWITCH

Fabrizio Romano has reported that Cavani's preference is to join a team in LaLiga.

The 35-year-old, who has scored two Premier League goals this season, has not yet played in LaLiga, having previously starred for Napoli in Serie A before his move to PSG in 2013.

Cavani was previously linked with a move to Atletico Madrid, prior to joining United. Romano also reports that Argentine giants River Plate have approached the Uruguay international, but that potential move does not interest the striker.

ROUND-UP 

- Barcelona want to tie up deals for Ajax full-back Noussair Mazraoui, Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta and Milan's midfield powerhouse Franck Kessie, who are all approaching the end of their contracts, reports Romano.

- The Daily Mail, citing The Mirror, are reporting that United will consider making a move for Tottenham star Harry Kane at the end of the season.

- Aston Villa are one of the clubs monitoring Kalvin Phillips' situation at Leeds United, so say The Daily Mail.

- SPORT claim that Sergino Dest is willing to leave Barca and join Roma.

- According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Juventus and Milan are both keeping tabs on Lille midfielder Renato Sanches.

They say you should never judge a player on one good international tournament.

In fairness, when Bayern Munich splashed out a reported €35million on an 18-year-old Renato Sanches in 2016, he had already impressed at Benfica, but it was his showings at Euro 2016 for eventual winners Portugal that sped up the hype train.

Just over a year later, he was struggling to get game time during a loan move at Swansea City.

Sanches' star had fallen almost as quickly as it had risen, and after being unable to establish himself at Bayern, the midfielder made the move to Lille in 2019.

At the French side he finally settled and became a crucial part of Christophe Galtier's underdogs, who impressively beat Paris Saint-Germain to the 2020-21 Ligue 1 title.

Sanches followed up his championship medal with another comeback, standing out as one of the best players again at Euro 2020.

As football never seems to learn its lessons, hype rebuilt around Sanches following his performances for Portugal in last year's rescheduled tournament, and the 24-year-old has been linked with a transfer to one of Europe's elite pretty much ever since.

Clubs including Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid have all been mooted as possible destinations, but recent reports suggest that Milan could be where Sanches takes the next step of his journey, and potentially where he could finally fulfil that much-discussed potential.

Although Lille have failed to come close to defending their title this season, Sanches has continued to impress when available.

He has played 25 games in all competitions (21 starts), registering one goal and five assists, three more than any other Lille midfielder.

Sanches has completed 57 dribbles, with Jonathan Ikone – more of a forward player and who moved to Fiorentina in January – completing the next most at the club this season (38), and he has created as many big chances (eight) as Ikone having played the same number of games. A big chance is defined by Opta as a situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score.

Comparing the same numbers to Milan's midfield, he has created twice as many big chances as the Rossoneri's most creative players (Sandro Tonali and Alexis Saelemaekers – four), and only Saelemaekers has completed more dribbles (58), albeit from more appearances. Sanches averages more completed dribbles than the Belgian per 90 minutes (3.01 to 2.51).

One assumption would be that Sanches has been earmarked to replace Franck Kessie, who appears likely to be leaving San Siro when his contract expires at the end of the season, though the two are not all that similar as players.

Kessie has six goals this season, two from the penalty spot, but just one assist, and has only created two big chances. Sanches also makes far more dribbles, attempting 91 compared to 38 from Kessie.

Sanches has made almost as many recoveries as the Ivory Coast international (146 to 158) but has attempted fewer tackles than all of Milan's midfielders (20), with the lowest tackle success rate (45 per cent).

His pass success percentage is also worse than Kessie's (81.77 to 88.73). You might think that could be down to the intent of those passes, but Kessie is even more comfortably ahead when it comes to pass success percentage in the opposition half (75.53 to 85.53).

Sanches, of course, plays in a different league, and so how do his numbers compare in this season's Champions League?

While it must be noted that Lille had an easier time of things in the group stages than Milan, who went up against Liverpool, Atletico Madrid and Porto, Sanches did seem to shine on the big stage more than Stefano Pioli's current crop.

Only Ismael Bennacer (39) made more recoveries than Sanches' 38, having played a game more, while no-one at the Serie A side attempted as many as his 209 passes, and none won possession in the opposition's final third more than him (four).

Milan suffered elimination in their group, while Lille won theirs and put up a respectable fight against Chelsea in the first leg of their round-of-16 clash at Stamford Bridge.

Sanches in particular looked good again, though he was unable to prevent the Premier League side taking a 2-0 lead over with them to the Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Wednesday, where Sanches sadly will not play after picking up a muscle injury in the 0-0 draw with Saint-Etienne on Friday.

"Renato Sanches underwent tests this morning following the injury contracted on Friday during the match between LOSC and AS Saint-Etienne," read a statement from Lille. "The midfielder has suffered an injury to the biceps femoris muscle in his left thigh.

"His unavailability is estimated at three weeks, depending on the clinical evolution of his injury."

And this is arguably the thing that has held Sanches back more than anything, his injury record.

For context, at the age of just 24, he already has two pages of injuries listed on his injury history on Transfermarkt, the vast majority of which have been muscle issues that just do not seem to go away.

In terms of what he has shown on the field in the past couple of years, Sanches seems more than ready for another shot at an elite club.

Whether he can stay fit long enough to do so is another matter.

Manchester United's search for a new manager continues after axing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November.

The Red Devils are taking their time with the appointment, with Ralf Rangnick in an interim role until the end of the season.

United hope the next man in can turn their fortunes around, having struggled to be Premier League contenders since Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013.

TOP STORY – UNITED SHORTLIST HASENHUTTL

Manchester United have added Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl to their shortlist, according to The Mirror.

PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax’s Erik ten Hag remain the front-runners, but United face a battle to persuade either to head to Old Trafford.

Current United interim manager Ralf Rangnick worked with Hasenhuttl at RB Leipzig and the club are admirers of the Austrian.

ROUND-UP

- Atletico Madrid are considering making a move for Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, reports Mundo Deportivo. Wijnaldum is weighing up his future at PSG despite moving to France only last year.

- Fabrizio Romano claims Chelsea's Andreas Christensen has turned down offers from other Premier League clubs and is on the verge of agreeing to a deal with Barcelona.

Lazio could make a loan move for Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, with manager Maurizio Sarri keen to be reunited with the Spain international, reports Corriere dello Sport.

- The Sun claims West Ham are plotting a move for Lille's 20-year-old midfielder Amadou Onana, who is valued at £20m by the French club.

Crystal Palace have joined the pursuit for Marseille's out-of-contract midfielder Boubacar Kamara, alongside Newcastle United and West Ham, according to the Sun.

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