Manchester City will begin their Premier League title defence at Tottenham.

Pep Guardiola's side won their third top-flight crown in four seasons in 2020-21 and there is likely to be plenty of intrigue in the build-up to the August 14 encounter at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, given Spurs striker Harry Kane has been touted as a potential replacement for Sergio Aguero.

Chelsea denied City European glory with a 1-0 win in last month's Champions League final and Thomas Tuchel's side start their bid to unseat Guardiola's men domestically by hosting Crystal Palace, who like Spurs remain without a manager.

Manchester United were runners-up last term and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's third full season in charge will launch with a mouth-watering clash against Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United at Old Trafford.

Newly promoted Brentford have a similarly eye-catching assignment at home to Arsenal, who have no European commitments for the first time since 1995-96.

Liverpool are also away to one of the newcomers in the form of Championship winners Norwich City, while Watford host Aston Villa on their top-flight return.

Tricky start for Guardiola, Tuchel facing January Blues

City claimed a first victory at Anfield since 2003 last season and Jurgen Klopp will enjoy his latest battle with Pep Guardiola on Merseyside on October 2, a week after the champions get their shot at revenge over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Those matches all come within City's first seven fixtures, which also include Arsenal visiting the Etihad Stadium on August 28, the same day Chelsea travel to Liverpool and a week after Mikel Arteta's men welcome the European champions.

The season's first Manchester United v Liverpool encounter comes at Old Trafford on October 23, two weeks before United host City in the Manchester derby.

The return meetings for those two rivalries are at Anfield on March 19 and the Etihad Stadium on March 5.

Those games could prove key to the title run-in, much like Chelsea's trip to Old Trafford on the penultimate weekend.

The Blues have a tough January schedule, with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on New Year's Day, followed by City away a fortnight later and a home derby against Tottenham.

Spurs and Arsenal are each aiming to improve upon dispiriting campaigns last time around. The first north London derby of the season is at Emirates Stadium on September 25, with Tottenham hosting their neighbours on January 15.

 

Premier League opening weekend fixtures
Brentford v Arsenal
Burnley v Brighton and Hove Albion
Chelsea v Crystal Palace
Everton v Southampton
Leicester City v Wolves
Manchester United v Leeds United
Newcastle United v West Ham 
Norwich City v Liverpool
Tottenham v Manchester City
Watford v Aston Villa

Is Erling Haaland's future close to being resolved?

Borussia Dortmund, up until now, have been unwilling to part with their top asset.

But Chelsea are reportedly making progress to bring Haaland to London.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA CLOSING IN ON HAALAND?

Chelsea have agreed personal terms with Erling Haaland and now just need to agree a fee with Borussia Dortmund, according to the Transfer Window Podcast.

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

But Chelsea have reportedly made a breakthrough in their pursuit to prise the Norway forward to Stamford Bridge.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport claims Madrid are targeting Inter star Nicolo Barella or Sassuolo's Manuel Locatelli. Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips has also been linked. Locatelli is attracting interest this off-season, with Juventus, Arsenal, Inter, Dortmund and City reported admirers.

Arsenal are chasing Leicester City's James Maddison, according to Chris Wheatley. Chelsea and Liverpool are believed to be also tracking the England international.

- Eurosport reports Real Sociedad winger Mikel Oyarzabal is on City's radar. Pep Guardiola's side could make a move if Bernardo Silva – linked with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid – or Raheem Sterling leave.

Atletico are set to sign Rodrigo De Paul from Udinese, says Fabrizio Romano. The Argentina international has been wanted by Liverpool, Juve and Leeds United.

Milan are looking to sign Stuttgart forward Sasa Kalajdzic, according to Calciomercato. Chelsea's Olivier Giroud, Torino star Andrea Belotti and Madrid outcast Luka Jokic have also been linked.

- Bild claims Bayern would be willing to sell Kingsley Coman for the right price amid interest from United and Liverpool. The Bundesliga champions are also considering the futures of Niklas Sule and Corentin Tolisso.

Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson has withdrawn from England's Euro 2020 squad due to a hip problem, with Aaron Ramsdale named as his replacement.

Henderson had the highest save percentage in the Premier League of all goalkeepers who played 10 or more games in the 2020-21 season, repelling 76.47 per cent of shots in his 13 appearances for United.

He looked set to be a serious rival to Jordan Pickford for the Three Lions, but Henderson's tournament is over already.

UEFA rules mean England – like all competing nations – are allowed to change their goalkeeping options on medical grounds, such as when injuries strike.

The Football Association (FA) said Henderson's problem would have limited his involvement in training during the tournament.

"The Manchester United goalkeeper will now return to his club for further assessment and rehabilitation ahead of the 2021-22 season," the FA said.

Sheffield United's Ramsdale is highly regarded by England boss Gareth Southgate and comes in to take over from Henderson, although Sam Johnstone looks set to be understudy to Pickford for the Group D Wembley clash with Scotland on Friday.

Ramsdale, who like West Brom's Johnstone experienced relegation from the Premier League, had the third highest save percentage among England-qualified Premier League goalkeepers (minimum 10 games) in 2020-21, with a handy 69.86 per cent record.

That put him behind Henderson and Burnley's Nick Pope (75.33 per cent). Pope is absent from the Euro 2020 squad due to injury.

Ramsdale, who was ever present in the Blades' league campaign, had a marginally better record than Pickford (69.77 per cent).

Johnstone made the most saves of all goalkeepers in the English top flight, with 166, which was 19 more than second-placed Ramsdale managed.

Is another move on the cards for Keylor Navas?

Navas felt he had little choice but to leave when Real Madrid signed Thibaut Courtois in 2019.

He is facing a similar situation at Paris Saint-Germain, who are trying to lure Gianluigi Donnarumma to the French capital.

 

TOP STORY – TRIO EYEING NAVAS

Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Keylor Navas is attracting interest from Manchester United, Juventus and Milan, according to Marca.

Navas' future is in doubt, with PSG reportedly poised to sign Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma on a free transfer.

This comes despite Costa Rica international Navas extending his PSG contract until 2024 in April.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS reports Real Madrid are prepared to offer star captain Sergio Ramos a new contract. Ramos is set to become a free agent and the Spaniard is said to have been unhappy with the club's offering of a short-term deal on a reduced salary. The 35-year-old has been linked with former club Sevilla, United and PSG among others.

- Juventus have started preliminary talks to sign Bayern Munich's Corentin Tolisso, says Sky Sport Italia. Juve are also interested in Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli.

- The Telegraph reports Manchester City are now open to giving Raheem Sterling a new deal. Sterling has been linked with Arsenal and Madrid.

- Atalanta are dreaming of signing Juve defender Merih Demiral, reports Calciomercato. Lille's Sven Botman and Torino defender Lyanco are also targets amid centre-back Cristian Romero's links with United.

- Fabrizio Romano says there have been no talks between Arsenal and United regarding Donny van de Beek. The Netherlands international struggled for game time in his first season at Old Trafford.

- According to the Daily Star, United could tempt Tottenham into selling Harry Kane by offering Anthony Martial, who has also reportedly been offered to Madrid. Kane is believed to be keen on an exit amid links with City, Chelsea, Madrid, Barcelona and PSG.

Manchester United executive co-chairman Joel Glazer insisted the level of debt at Old Trafford has not impacted the Premier League giants in the transfer market.

The Glazer family have been scrutinised since taking over United in 2005, with the Red Devils saddled in huge debt ever since, though the criticism came to a head following the club's decision to sign up for the doomed European Super League in April.

United fans have continued to call for further transfer funding amid the club's trophy drought – dating back to 2017, while they have not won the Premier League since 2013, and investment to renovate Old Trafford.

After finishing second to neighbours Manchester City in 2020-21, United have been linked with Borussia Dortmund pair Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland, Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane and Tottenham star Harry Kane among other rumoured targets.

Under-fire Glazer attended his first fans' forum earlier in June and addressed a number of concerns, including the debt and dividend payments.

"I know this is a subject that a lot of people have a lot of different views on, but when we take things and look at things as a whole, we think that Manchester United is a very well-run club," Glazer said in quotes released on Monday.

"We're able to spend with the top clubs throughout Europe, whether it's wages or transfer fees, we've been able to keep our ticket prices low, we've not increased them in over 10 years.

"We're able to pay a dividend but it's a modest proportion of our five to six hundred million pounds of revenue; it's less than three per cent of that.

"It has never stood in the way of us pursuing players or transfers on the pitch. We may have walked away from transfers at times because the other side wanted an outlandish number. And while it's easy to pay it that one time, it does have consequences.

"You do it once and the next person expects it, and then the next person expects it. And that's not good, ultimately, for the club. So, we think that we're able to accomplish all these things and still have a very, very successful club and invest, and do everything that's necessary for a club of our stature."

Glazer added: "I know this is clearly another area that has got a lot of discussion and debate over the years. We think we have a very comfortable position when it comes to this. We have debt, but a lot of other clubs do have debt as well.

"We pay a very low interest rate, mostly fixed interest debt. So, if interest rates went up it would not affect us, but we had made progress in reducing our debt over the last several years.

"The net debt was meaningfully reduced a couple years ago. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit and we have had to use a lot of our cash reserves because we didn't have any supporters in the stands, we didn't have the matchday revenue, and that has affected us, like it's affected all the clubs throughout Europe. The difference is we've been able to keep investing. We're strong."

He added: "We're going to keep investing on the pitch, which we did last year, and we plan on doing it meaningfully this year. So, we feel that we're in a good spot.

"There's always headline numbers [for the debt], and then there's the real costs on an annual basis and, again, it's never affected our ability to operate in the transfer market or do anything else with regard to the club."

Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo insists his sole focus is on Euro 2020 and reports of interest from rival clubs are causing him no "sleepless nights".

Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Juve in 2019, but the move has not worked out quite as planned.

Although the Bianconeri won the Serie A title for a ninth successive season in the forward's first campaign, they lost their crown to Inter this term and scraped Champions League qualification.

Success in Europe's premier club competition, which Ronaldo won five times with Manchester United and Madrid, continues to evade the Turin giants.

A frustrating season ended with Massimiliano Allegri returning to replace Andrea Pirlo, and there has been speculation Ronaldo could follow his coach out of the door.

Madrid, United and Paris Saint-Germain have been credited with an interest in a player who continues to deliver superb individual results.

Ronaldo's 29 goals in 2020-21 won the Capocannoniere, having previously also been the top scorer in the Premier League and LaLiga.

Since joining Juve, only Robert Lewandowski (103) has scored more goals in all competitions than Ronaldo's 73 among players in Europe's top five leagues.

The 36-year-old's 83 goal involvements rank fourth behind Lewandowski (121), Lionel Messi (106) and Kylian Mbappe (97).

Those returns would surely interest a host of clubs, but Ronaldo is not looking any further ahead than the Euros, with Portugal starting their title defence against Hungary on Tuesday.

"I've been playing at the highest level for many years. This doesn't faze me at all," Ronaldo said ahead of the Hungary game.

"If I were starting out, if I were 18 or 19, I'd have some sleepless nights. But I'm 36 years old and whatever comes will be for the best

"Regardless of staying in Juve or being transferred, the crucial thing is the Euros. For me, it's my fifth Euros, but it's like my first. I want to start on the right foot and we want to play a good match."

 

Ronaldo holds the record for the most games (21), most goals (nine, tied with Michel Platini) and most tournaments with at least one goal (four) at the European Championship.

With 104 international goals, he is also closing on Ali Daei's benchmark of 109.

Adding to that tally in the group stage of Euro 2020 will be tough, though, with Portugal drawn into a pool with Hungary, France and Germany. They have not won their opening game at a tournament since Euro 2008.

But Ronaldo is confident his side are ready, explaining: "If you tell me that we're going to lose tomorrow and win the Euros, that's my choice.

"But I think the team is ready, physically and emotionally. Our players are young, but that doesn't prevent us from dreaming. I'm sure we will have a great tournament and I know, for sure, all the players are ready."

Only Spain, in 2008 and 2012, have previously won back-to-back European Championships.

"We are not the same team as we were in 2016," Ronaldo added. "This is a younger team, a team with great potential and only by playing will we know if we are better or worse than 2016.

"On a personal level, I'm not the same player I was 18 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago. We keep adjusting. The most intelligent thing about a football player is the ability to adjust.

"I'm more mature. If a player wants to play for many years, he needs to know how to adjust and adapt.

"The numbers speak for themselves; from 18 to 36, I've learned to adapt regardless of winning silverware.

"On a personal level, I've always been able to win. The same on a collective level, too. I think I've adjusted throughout my career."

Could Matthijs de Ligt leave Juventus?

De Ligt joined Juve from Ajax in 2019 but his future has been a topic of discussion.

Barcelona were strongly linked with him before he left the Eredivisie and are reportedly still keen admirers.

 

TOP STORY – DE LIGT A BARCA TARGET

Barcelona are keen on signing Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt, according to Le10 Sport.

LaLiga giants Barca have already brought in Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia, while they are also said to be interested in Memphis Depay of Lyon and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

But it is claimed they are particularly eager to further bolster their defence in addition to Garcia's arrival, though they could face competition for De Ligt – Manchester United have long been linked with the Netherlands international.

 

ROUND-UP

- Mundo Deportivo reports Leicester City are considering a move for Barca outcast Philippe Coutinho. It would be a reunion for Brendan Rodgers and Coutinho after working together at Liverpool.

Atletico Madrid are eyeing Hakan Calhanoglu as an alternative to Udinese star Rodrigo de Paul. LaLiga champions Atletico want De Paul, who has also been linked with JuveInter and Leeds United. Should they miss out on the Argentina international, Calhanoglu is an option – the Milan star's contract expires at the end of June.

United have held further talks with Borussia Dortmund in their pursuit of Jadon Sancho, says Fabrizio Romano. Dortmund reportedly want £81million (€95m), though United are currently unwilling to pay more than £60m (€70m). Liverpool and Chelsea have also been linked previously.

- Romano also reports Gianluigi Donnarumma's contract with Paris Saint-Germain until 2026 has been agreed. The Italy international goalkeeper is set to join PSG on a free transfer following the end of his Milan deal.

- According to Corriere dello Sport, Milan are in talks to sign Real Madrid pair Brahim Diaz and Alvaro Odriozola on loan. The Rossoneri have also been linked with Luka Jovic and are seemingly poised to secure the permanent signing of Fikayo Tomori from Chelsea as well.

Achraf Hakimi is a player in demand following his first season with Inter.

Hakimi helped Inter to Serie A glory for the first time in 10 years, but his future could be away from San Siro.

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly determined to beat Chelsea and Bayern Munich to the full-back.

 

TOP STORY – PSG CHASING HAKIMI

Paris Saint-Germain remain interested in signing Inter star Achraf Hakimi, according to Gianluca Di Marzio.

PSG had a €60million (£51m) bid turned down by Serie A champions Inter, who are facing financial problems due to the coronavirus pandemic amid speculation over stars Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez, Alessandro Bastoni and Hakimi.

Ligue 1 giants PSG are still keen on Hakimi as Champions League winners Chelsea hold talks with the Morocco international's agent, while Bayern Munich have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

Bernardo Silva wants to leave Premier League champions Manchester City, reports Duncan Castles. The Portugal international has already been linked with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona after finding himself out of favour under Pep Guardiola.

- Fabrizio Romano claims Gianluigi Buffon is close to re-joining Parma. Buffon will leave Juventus in the off-season and the Italy great is reportedly on track to return to Parma, where the 43-year-old emerged from the youth team in 1995 before eventually moving to Turin in 2001. Parma were relegated from Serie A in 2020-21.

Arsenal have turned their attention to Real Betis attacker Nabil Fekir but Diario AS says the Gunners and LaLiga side remain apart in his transfer valuation.

- Calciomercato claims there are still concerns over Paulo Dybala's future at Juventus. Dybala is out of contract in 2022 and no closer to renewing after struggling for game time. The possible departure of Cristiano Ronaldo – who has been linked with PSG and Manchester United – could solidify Dybala's position in Turin.

Leicester City are the latest team to join the race for Salzburg's Patson Daka, according to the Mirror. Liverpool, Chelsea and RB Leipzig have also been linked.

- The Mirror reports Everton and Leeds United are considering moves for veteran Real Madrid star Marcelo.

Scotland legend Ally McCoist has been delighted by Scott McTominay's recent emergence as a key man for both club and country.

The 24-year-old featured in 49 games across all competitions for Manchester United last term as they finished second in the Premier League and reached the Europa League final.

He also helped his country secure their first major tournament appearance since the 1998 World Cup with a play-off victory over Serbia that ensured they will be at this year's European Championship.

It is a development that has somewhat surprised McCoist, who scored 19 times for Scotland across a 61-cap international career.

Speaking to Stats Perform on behalf of official UEFA Euro 2020 partner Heineken ahead of the action getting under way, he said: "I have been absolutely delighted and pleasantly surprised at the massive improvement in Scott McTominay. 

"I thought he was the best player on the park in the Europa final, which was a poor final I have to say. I knew he was capable of playing well, but his level of consistency and performance level for United and indeed Scotland has pleasantly surprised me. 

"I don't want say it in [a way that] is not respectful to Scott McTominay, it's quite the opposite. I've been absolutely delighted with the improvements he has made as a player both at club level and international level. 

"It says as much about Scott McTominay that there's every chance we play him in a position that he doesn't play with Manchester United, probably on the right of a three defensively. It's probably a bit of a surprise but a really pleasant one."

McTominay is not the only member of Scotland's squad who has endured a gruelling season, with captain Andy Robertson having clocked up 50 games for Liverpool.

But McCoist has no concerns about burnout – he instead believes that players will be invigorated by their country's rare appearance at a major tournament.

He continued: "It wouldn't be a concern for me. We can't have it both ways. One of the problems in recent years and one of the reasons we haven't qualified for major tournaments is that we haven't had top players playing at the top level. 

"We've now got top players playing at the top level; Andy Robertson is one of them, [Kieran] Tierney, McTominay, [John] McGinn, the two lads at Southampton [Stuart Armstrong and Che Adams].

"I don't think it's rocket science, we've now got better players playing at a better level and that's one of the reasons we've qualified for the Euros.

"With Andy, obviously it's the Scottish lads' dream to play at a major championship, we haven't done it for 23 years. 

"So boys like that, of course they've had a lot of football, I accept and appreciate that, but they've had a little bit of a break, they're now at their training camps, they've [had] a couple of friendlies – I think they'll be absolutely raring to go. 

"Their enthusiasm and adrenaline will have them so fired up, I think we'll be absolutely fine."

Scotland have been drawn to face three teams all placed higher than them (44) in the FIFA world rankings in England (four), Croatia (14) and the Czech Republic (40).

But with four of the six teams who place third in their groups also going through to the knockout stages, McCoist is confident that Steve Clarke's side can progress.

He added: "I think the great thing from our point of view is the fact that there's a low expectancy level from outside. 

"We obviously want to do well and we'll do as well as we can but we're pretty realistic about it. You look at the group and we're probably outsiders but I honestly believe we can win our first game. 

"England, for example, have just got a far better team and far better squad than us – that's not to say we can't win the game, but they've got one of the most talented squads in the tournament. 

"But I think on our day we can beat the Czech Republic and if we can manage to do that then I think with four teams qualifying from the section in third place, I don't see any reason why we couldn't qualify from the group. I think that's got to be our target, it really has. 

"Is it achievable? Yes it is. It'll be very, very difficult because England, Croatia and the Czech Republic are all top sides, but I think it's achievable."

As part of Heineken's global 'Finally Together' campaign which recognises the long-awaited reunion with fans and the rivalries that go alongside, McCoist stitched up England rival and fellow pundit Jermaine Jenas with the ultimate friendly wind-up – posing in a tailor-made suit emblazoned with the Saltire across the back.

He said: "Jermaine is a dapper fellow who can strike a pose even better than he could a football. 

"We just knew he wouldn't be able to resist the offer of tailor-made suit and a photoshoot.

"Everyone present could see what was on his back apart from him and I took great pleasure in getting him to model it for the camera. 

"Jermaine's face was an absolute picture when he realised he'd been stitched up. This is a victory for the Scots and I'll raise my glass for another one at Wembley!"

Jose Mourinho does not think Manchester United duo Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw should be in England's starting XI to begin Euro 2020.

The former United boss has been involved in media controversies around both players in the past.

Mourinho feels Chelsea defender Ben Chilwell is a better option than Shaw at left-back for England, who open their campaign against Croatia at Wembley on Sunday in a World Cup semi-final rematch.

That is despite Shaw having a fantastic season for United, which saw him recently named the Players' Player of the Year at the club.

"I wouldn't think twice, I'd go with Chilwell," Mourinho told talkSPORT.

"I know that he plays normally with Chelsea in a five, but he is intelligent, he covers the space and the diagonals inside very well, he's dangerous in attack, he's good in the air and good on set pieces.

"He can defend well the possible long build up from Croatia on the first phase. He is very calm under pressure. I like Chilwell a lot.

"[Shaw] had a good season and clearly an evolution in terms of emotion, professionalism. But Chilwell has something more, especially with the ball, the way he thinks." 

The new Roma boss also feels Rashford's only positional option is to play on the left of attack, where he would prefer to line up with Aston Villa star Jack Grealish.

Mourinho believes Grealish is an "untouchable" selection and compared his play to that of Real Madrid great Luis Figo.

United target Jadon Sancho was not in Mourinho's team, which does include Manchester City star Phil Foden and Harry Kane, who thrived under his management at Tottenham.

Rashford scored against Romania in the 1-0 friendly win last week but Mourinho said: "Harry Kane is untouchable, Jack Grealish is untouchable and the best position for Grealish is coming in from the left.

"For me, Marcus Rashford can only play there. When he plays on the right, he is completely lost.

"He is dynamic but on the right totally broken. He is very good on the left attacking spaces. But Grealish, for me, is tremendous.

"What he creates and his personality – 'give me the ball' – he reminds me a little bit of Luis Figo.

"I don't like making comparisons, especially with a Golden Ball winner, but Grealish reminds me of my Figo.

"Figo, I had him in different periods in my career but I had him in his last season as a player at Inter Milan and even in his last season he was like, 'Give me the ball and I will resolve the problems for you'.

"The way Grealish gets the ball and attacks people, gets fouls, gets penalties, he is very powerful, I like him very much.

"So I would say Grealish on the left, Mason Mount as the number 10 and because I like the wingers to come inside, I would play Phil Foden on the right."

One United player who would be in Mourinho's starting team, though, is goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who he would start over Jordan Pickford.

"I am a Henderson fan," said Mourinho. "When I was at United he was a kid, and I tell this story because it shows his nature.

"He came to my office asking for a loan, he went to Shrewsbury, but this kid said to me then, 'When I come back, I want to be number one'.

"We looked at each other because we had [David] de Gea and this kid never played one game, but he has had incredible development.

"The loans were all very successful. The way United organised them I think United did amazing for him and he did amazing for himself.

"He has this arrogance in him, this trust and belief which I think an England goalkeeper needs."

Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips were Mourinho's two central midfielders.

Mourinho, though, would like to see Jude Bellingham play alongside Rice as the tournament progresses, describing the Borussia Dortmund prospect as "perfect" for such a role.

Kyle Walker, Tyrone Mings and John Stones made up the rest of his back four alongisde Chilwell.

England, who are in Group D, also face Scotland on June 18 and the Czech Republic on June 22.

The Jadon Sancho saga continues.

A move to Manchester United has long been mooted for England international Sancho.

While United and Borussia Dortmund negotiate, could Sancho's future be set to become clearer?

 

TOP STORY – UNITED HAVE OFFER REBUFFED

Manchester United have had their first offer for Jadon Sancho rejected by Borussia Dortmund, according to the BBC.

United have long been interested in Sancho, with the Premier League giants unable to prise Sancho from Dortmund before the 2020-21 season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United are back again for England international Sancho, though their initial £67million (€77.9m) bid will not suffice as Dortmund hold out for at least £77.5m (€90.1m).

 

ROUND-UP

- If United miss out on Sancho, Sport1 claims the Red Devils will turn to Kingsley Coman after registering their interest in the Bayern Munich winger.

- Mundo Deportivo says Barcelona are interested in Roma and Italy midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini. The 24-year-old is out of contract in 2022 and Liverpool and Atletico Madrid are also eyeing the Italian.

United and Liverpool are set to go head-to-head for Argentina defender Cristian Romero, per Calciomercato. Romero has impressed during his loan spell with Atalanta from Juventus. Atalanta are expected to trigger a clause to sign the 23-year-old permanently as they then look to receive a big fee.

- Ronald Koeman is the key to Barca signing Memphis Depay, reports Mundo Deportivo. Depay is a free agent following the conclusion of his Lyon contract.

Barcelona have offered Antoine Griezmann to Juve, according to Calciomercato. With Cristiano Ronaldo's future in Turin uncertain, Juve could be tempted by Griezmann's availability. Juve have also been linked with Tottenham star Harry Kane, who is reportedly wanted by United, Manchester City, Chelsea, BarcaReal Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

Jadon Sancho vowed he would not let his attention wander during England's Euro 2020 campaign as Manchester United target the Borussia Dortmund winger.

The 21-year-old cemented his status as one of Europe's most promising young players with another fine season at Dortmund in the season just ended.

He provided eight goals and 11 assists in 26 Bundesliga games, and was the division's fifth most successful chance creator, carving out 67 opportunities - remarkable numbers for a player still aged just 21.

That has led to United, who failed in their attempts to sign Sancho in the summer of 2020, reportedly reigniting their interest. The BBC said United had failed with a £67million bid and may consider going back with a further offer.

With Dortmund reported to have lowered their asking price to around £80million, expectations have grown that a deal will be struck.

However, Sancho is paying the transfer talk little attention as he prepares to feature for his country at the European Championship.

"I'm cool about it," Sancho told talkSPORT. "There's always going to be speculation, especially when you do well.

"It's just how you handle that on the pitch. You've got to keep doing what you're doing; if you keep on doing that, then I'm sure that won't be a problem.

"The main thing is my football and that's what I'm focusing on at the moment."

United appear to be the clear frontrunners for Sancho, who left their local rivals Manchester City four years ago in search of first-team opportunities in Germany.

But, when asked which players he had admired growing up, Sancho revealed his childhood affiliation was actually with a different Premier League club entirely.

"I was a Chelsea fan growing up, I can't lie!" Sancho said. "Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard were my favourite players at the time."

As well as leaving a big mark on the Bundesliga last term, Sancho also top-scored in the DFB-Pokal with six goals to help Dortmund lift the trophy.

His two-goal showing in a 4-1 victory over RB Leipzig in the final came shortly after a near two-month lay-off that was caused by a muscle injury.

Dortmund soared up the Bundesliga with Sancho back in action, finishing third after at one point looking set to miss the Champions League places.

Sancho was understandably delighted to finish the season on such a high on both a personal and collective level ahead of a big summer.

He said: "I came back even stronger, getting us through. I think we were about sixth or seventh in the league and we needed to make Champions League qualification.

"So we had targets, especially to win the Pokal, I'm happy that I came back and lifted the team with some motivation and some goals and assists."

Paul Pogba has dismissed rumours of a rift between France team-mates Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud – while also stating he has not yet been offered a new Manchester United contract.

Giroud came off the bench to score a double in France's friendly win over Bulgaria on Tuesday, though he caused a stir in a post-match news conference when he seemed to suggest some irritation at strike partner Mbappe, who failed to pick out the Chelsea forward on several occasions.

During their time together on the pitch, there was only one pass between Giroud and Mbappe, with the former Arsenal man finding the Paris Saint-Germain star, who did not return the favour on any other occasion.

According to reports, a furious Mbappe wanted to hold a news conference to defend himself after hearing Giroud's comments.

Pogba, however, scotched rumours of any discontent in the squad as France prepare for their Euro 2020 campaign.

"The only tensions are on the back, on the legs. The physiotherapists are there for that," Pogba joked in a news conference.

"Frankly, I'm on the inside, there is nothing, there has always been a very good atmosphere with everyone. We will go directly to the subject – between Olivier and Kyky, there is nothing at all.

"I think that what was said may have been poorly conveyed. Kylian, his qualities, he can score and do a lot of assists, he does it, he plays for the team even though I always tell him that it would be good if he defended a little more!

"There is nothing, nothing has come out, I don't feel any tension, nothing at all."

The reports concerning Mbappe and Giroud were not the only rumours Pogba had to contend with.

On Thursday, several reports suggested his club United had started talks over a new deal, with Pogba's current contract expiring in 2022, while there has also been talk of interest from Paris Saint-Germain.

Though he did not confirm if initial talks had started or not, Pogba insisted no offer was on the table.

"Contacts with Paris? I have one year of contract left. Everyone knows that," Pogba said.

"No concrete proposal [from United] yet. I am still at United. My thoughts are about the Euros. I am focused. I have more experience than before, I am focused on the present. I have an agent who takes care of all that."

Harry Maguire was back in team training with England on Thursday ahead of their Euro 2020 opener against Croatia at the weekend.

All 26 members of Gareth Southgate's squad took part in the session at St George's Park as preparations for Sunday's game at Wembley continued.

Maguire has not played since May 9, when he damaged ankle ligaments during Manchester United's 3-1 Premier League win away to Aston Villa.

The centre-back missed United's final four league games of the season, in which they lost at home to Leicester City and Liverpool, drew with Fulham and won at Wolves.

He also sat out the Europa League final against Villarreal, which the LaLiga side won on penalties following a 0-0 draw in Gdansk.

Speaking last week, Southgate said it would be "tight" for Maguire to be considered fully fit for the match against Croatia after he also missed England's warm-up friendlies with Austria and Romania.

However, the Three Lions boss insisted it was right to include the former Leicester defender in the group, saying: "I think he's such a good player and we had the additional size of squad, the fact that that leadership which is growing in him all the time, we wanted to take that opportunity to bring him into the squad."

England, who are in Group D, also face Scotland on June 18 and the Czech Republic on June 22.

 

Everton continue their search for Carlo Ancelotti's replacement.

One emerging candidate has plenty of familiarity with Liverpool. 

Could the Toffees turn to a former rival? 

 

TOP STORY – BENITEZ IN MERSEYSIDE RETURN?

Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has emerged as a strong contender to replace Carlo Ancelotti at Everton, the Daily Mirror and other outlets report. 

As the Merseyside club's interest in former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has faded, majority owner Farhad Moshiri apparently plans to speak to the 61-year-old Benitez. 

The Spaniard was Liverpool's manager from 2004-10, winning the Champions League title in 2005. He spent 18 months in charge of Chinese Super League club Dalian Professional before leaving by mutual consent in January. 

Others under consideration include Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter, former Lille coach Christophe Galtier and former Toffees boss Roberto Martinez

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea have matched Paris Saint-Germain's offer of about €65million (£56.1m) to Inter for Achraf Hakimi, according to Sky Sport Italia, though Inter value the 22-year-old at €81m (£70m).

- Barcelona see Manchester City's Raheem Sterling as a potential replacement for Ousmane Dembele should the France international depart, according to Sport, and Marca says PSG have interest in Dembele. 

- David de Gea seems inclined to extend his stay at Manchester United and expects to be the first-choice goalkeeper ahead of Dean Henderson, The Sun reports. 

- Atletico Madrid rejected United's £10m bid for England right-back Kieran Trippier, according to Football Insider. 

- Roma are close to completing their long-rumoured signing of Arsenal's Granit Xhaka, Corriere dello Sport claims. 

- West Ham would like to sign Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard on a permanent deal, The Sun reports. 

- Tottenham have had discussions with Borussia Monchengladbach winger Marcus Thuram, RMC Sport reports, and The Athletic says Spurs could also be eyeing RB Leipzig's Marcel Sabitzer

- Former Roma coach Paulo Fonseca has emerged as Spurs' preferred option to replace Jose Mourinho and the sides have discussed a three-year contract, the Guardian reports. 

- Former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard could be in the mix for the Crystal Palace opening, the Daily Mirror reports. 

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