Luis Suarez's future at Atletico Madrid is unclear with his contract to expire at the end of the season.

Suarez helped Atleti win LaLiga last term with 21 goals.

The Uruguayan joined Atletico from top-flight rivals Barcelona in 2020 on a two-year deal.

TOP STORY – SUAREZ WANTS GERRARD REUNION AT VILLA

Suarez wants a reunion with former Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa, reports Gerard Romero.

The Atletico Madrid forward's contract expires at the end of this season and has been sounded out by numerous Brazilian clubs.

Suarez has had offers from Palmeiras, Corinthians and Atletico Mineiro but wants to link up with Gerrard who took over at Villa in January.

 

ROUND-UP

- ESPN claims Paris Saint-Germain have opened talks with Manchester United's Paul Pogba and Milan's Franck Kessie, as part of their effort to convince Kylian Mbappe to stay in the French capital amid interest from Real Madrid.

- Juventus have made an enquiry for Borussia Monchengladbach's Denis Zakaria according to 90min as they prepare for Arthur Melo to join Arsenal .

- Arsenal's bid to sign Fiorentina's Dusan Vlahovic looks to have hit a roadblock with the Serbian only interested in joining Juventus, reports the Mail.

- Milan want to bolster their backline and are interested in a loan deal for Tottenham's Japhet Tanganga, claims Fabrizio Romano.

- Leicester City and Newcastle United may rival Brentford to sign Inter's Christian Eriksen, reports the Times.

Manchester United interim boss Ralf Rangnick will consider selecting Anthony Martial to face Brentford after holding clear-the-air talks with the forward.

Martial was absent from United's squad for Saturday's 2-2 Premier League draw with Aston Villa, which Rangnick explained was down to the player not wanting to be included.

However, the 26-year-old subsequently refuted his manager's claims by stating on social media that he "will never refuse to play a match for Man United".

Speaking on Tuesday, Rangnick did not explain the contrasting versions of events, but he left the door open for Martial to return to the squad should the forward prove his fitness.

"I had a conversation with him on Sunday about what happened and how I saw the situation," Rangnick said at a news conference previewing Wednesday's trip to Brentford.

"The matter is now resolved. He didn't train yesterday or the day before. But he will probably train today and after training I will then take the decision if he is selected or not."

Martial is reported to have rejected loan offers from other Premier League clubs, while Juventus and LaLiga pair Barcelona and Sevilla have also been credited with an interest.

The ex-Monaco man has scored 79 goals in 268 appearances since his debut in September 2015 – only Marcus Rashford (91 in 286) has scored more for United in that period.

Martial's 79 goals have come from an expected goals (xG) return of 64, meaning he has scored 15 goals more than expected from the quality of his chances.

That is the largest positive xG differential of any player at the club over the same period, followed by Mason Greenwood (11) and Rashford (10).

However, Martial's playing time has been limited this term – not helped by injury issues – with his 358 minutes on the field only the 21st most of all United players.

The player's agent, Philippe Lamboley, revealed last month that Martial is looking to join a new club in January due to a lack of playing time.

While Martial may play a part against Brentford, team-mate Paul Pogba is still not being considered for selection despite returning to training this week.

Pogba has been used just 13 times this season – and not at all under Rangnick – but could return from a three-month lay-off in the next few weeks.

"Paul had his first day of training with the whole group yesterday," Rangnick said. "He showed what kind of extraordinary player he can be.

"He will not be available for the two games this week. Hopefully after the break, with the cup game against Middlesbrough and the away game at Burnley, he can be an option."

Rangnick also confirmed he will make a late decision on whether Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo will feature in west London as they recover from knocks.

Wednesday's meeting will be the first between United and Brentford in the league since 1947 and their first in any competition since 1975, when United won 2-1 in an EFL Cup tie.

Mikel Arteta may be confident that his side can still recruit any player in the world, but Arsenal may have to wait if they are to sign Dusan Vlahovic from Fiorentina.

The in-demand Serbia international is the joint-fourth highest scorer in Europe's top five leagues this term and is wanted by an array of clubs across the continent.

While a January move has been touted, however, Fiorentina appear to be playing hardball when it comes to the future of the 21-year-old striker.


TOP STORY – FIORENTINA DEMANDS PREVENTING ARSENAL'S VLAHOVIC PURSUIT

Arsenal are reportedly willing to match Fiorentina's €75million (£62.62m) asking price for Vlahovic, which would make him the second-most expensive player in their history.

However, The Independent reports that the Serie A side want the majority of that money paid upfront, whereas Arsenal intend to spread the cost over the next four years.

The Gunners may therefore have to wait until the end of the campaign, at which point Vlahovic will have a year to run on his contract, before renegotiating with Fiorentina.

 


ROUND-UP

– It is shaping up to be a busy conclusion to the January window for Arsenal as Goal reports that the Premier League side have made contact with Juventus over a loan move for midfielder Arthur Melo, while Leicester City's Youri Tielemans is another potential target.

– L'Equipe claims that Paul Pogba remains a target for Paris Saint-Germain as he nears the end of his Manchester United contract. The midfielder has not featured since November due to injury and is not expected to return until next month.

– According to The Mail, Man Utd are eyeing a move for Brighton and Hove Albion's Tariq Lamptey as an upgrade on Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Diogo Dalot. Interim boss Ralf Rangnick is said to be a big fan of the right-sided player's versatility.

– Sticking with Rangnick and United, the German coach has put Ajax boss Erik ten Hag's name forward as the best option to replace him when his interim spell at Old Trafford ends in June. That is according to Le Parisien, with the French outlet also suggesting PSG's Mauricio Pochettino still remains in the frame.

– Ambitious Newcastle United have already brought in Kieran Trippier this month and more players look set to follow. Tuttomercato suggests that Roma's Chris Smalling could be lured to St James' Park as the Magpies desperately attempt to strengthen at centre-back.

Freiburg's Nico Schlotterbeck is attracting plenty of interest this month, with Bayern Munich and Real Madrid among those being linked. Bayern appear to be leading that particular race if reports from Spain are anything to go by, with the defender supposedly keen to stay in the Bundesliga.

Paul Pogba is still "four or five weeks" away from returning to training with Manchester United, interim manager Ralf Rangnick has revealed.

The 28-year-old midfielder has not featured for United since their 2-2 Champions League draw with Atalanta on November 2, having sustained a calf injury on France duty shortly afterwards.

Rangnick previously indicated Pogba could make a comeback early in the new year, but that timescale has now been revised.

"As far as I know, I was told a week ago, it would be a minimum of at least another four or five weeks before he is fit for training again," Rangnick told United's official website.

"I saw him this morning before the training session. He was in the locker room, and I hope he will be back as soon as possible."

Prior to sustaining his injury, Pogba led the way in the Premier League for assists with seven from nine appearances, averaging exactly one assist per 90 minutes on the pitch.

Despite him missing United's last 11 matches, only Bruno Fernandes (eight) has assisted more goals than Pogba for the Red Devils in all competitions this season.

Among players in Europe's top five leagues to have played as many times as Pogba this term, only RB Leipzig's Brian Brobbey has assisted more goals per 90 minutes (1.45).

Pogba is yet to appear under Rangnick, who was appointed as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's temporary successor in late November, but the German will not rush the midfielder's return.

"Right now, he's not been part of the training group and, even if he was back whenever, two, three or four weeks, it will take some time," Rangnick said.

"It's one thing to be training fit, but he needs to be fit for the match and competition in either the Premier League or the Champions League and this will still take some time."

Pogba is into the final six months of his United contract and has been strongly tipped for a free transfer away from Old Trafford at the end of the campaign.

According to reports in the British press on Friday, United have offered Pogba a new deal worth £500,000 a week.

Speaking last month, Rangnick insisted it is not his job to persuade Pogba – or any other United player – to stay at the club.

The Red Devils are back in action on Monday with an FA Cup third-round game against Aston Villa at Old Trafford.

January 1 ushers the start of a new year and, for many, a chance for a fresh start. That is particularly true in the world of football as it signals the day the transfer window opens and some of Europe's top talents can plot a lucrative move elsewhere.

A number of the sport's top talents, including Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe and Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, are due to be out of contract at the end of 2021-22 and can therefore open talks with teams abroad in January.

While the futures of Mbappe and Pogba will be heavily discussed in the coming weeks, other big names across the continent will also become that little more attractive to buyers given their availability on a free (notwithstanding their lucrative salaries, of course!).

Stats Perform looks at the best players soon to be out of contract and therefore available to sign pre-contract agreements elsewhere from January 1.

 

Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)

Where better place to start than with a goalkeeper potentially seeking a new destination. Lloris has spent 10 seasons with Tottenham and has captained the side for the past six years, while also skippering the France national team since 2012.

Spurs have historically been reluctant to offer long-term deals to players in their 30s and that policy could see them lose one of European football's finest goalkeepers from the past decade. He has racked up 392 appearances for Tottenham, keeping 131 clean sheets in the process.

Anthony Martial (Manchester United)

Martial did not quite transform into the superstar forward many were expecting upon joining United from Monaco six years ago, but neither has the France international been as big a flop as some would suggest.

Indeed, since making his Premier League debut in September 2015, only Marcus Rashford (57) has scored more goals for United than Martial's 56. Those goals have come from an expected goals (xG) return of 43, with that xG differential of 13 the largest of any player at the club in that timeframe.

 

Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)

Chelsea face the prospect of losing four defenders without receiving a fee of any sort at the end of the campaign, with Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva, Cesar Azpilicueta and Rudiger all nearing the end of their respective contracts.

Tying down Rudiger to fresh terms should be the priority, given there has arguably been no better defender in the Premier League since Thomas Tuchel first took charge of Chelsea on January 27, backed up by the centre-back's Premier League-leading 17 clean sheets over that period.

Paul Pogba (Manchester United)

No player has quite dominated the transfer column inches in the same manner as Pogba in recent years and, with no sign of a new contract being signed anytime soon, it now looks certain the 28-year-old will depart United for a second time.

Pogba may have struggled for consistency at Old Trafford, not helped by niggling injury issues, but he has averaged one assist per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season – a tally not matched by any player to have played more than once.

Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

PSG rejected multiple offers from Real Madrid in 2020, but as it stands they are powerless to stop one of the game's leading lights departing at the end of the season.

As well as breaking a number of goalscoring records, Mbappe's 215 direct goal involvements in all competitions since making his PSG debut in September 2017 – 147 goals of his own and 68 assists – is a tally bettered by only Robert Lewandowski (242) and Lionel Messi (246).

 

Marcelo Brozovic (Inter)

Inter have so far been able to persuade Nicola Barella and Lautaro Martinez to extend their stays at San Siro, but Brozovic's future remains unclear heading into the new year.

Brozovic was a key part of Inter's Scudetto-winning side last term, featuring in 33 of their 38 games, and has started all 19 of their matches this campaign. Only Ruben Dias (1,713), Joao Cancelo (1,803) and William Saliba (1,840) have played more successful passes than the Croatia international (1,681) among players from Europe's top five leagues in 2021-22.

Luka Modric (Real Madrid)

Gareth Bale and Isco are two high-profile Madrid players set to move on either in January or at the end of the season, but as well as trying to seal Mbappe's signing, Madrid's other priority might be ensuring Modric does not bring an end to his decade-long spell at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2022.

Proving that age is just a number, 36-year-old Modric has been as good as ever for LaLiga leaders Madrid this season. The six big chances created by the midfielder in 2020-21, leading to four assists, has been bettered by only four others in the division.

 

Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)

Dembele has struggled to come close to justifying his hefty transfer fee, reported to be an initial €105million, but he was recently described as having the potential to be the best attacking player in the world by head coach Xavi.

Barca president Joan Laporta is also eager to keep hold of Dembele, who has managed 30 goals and 22 assists in 126 appearances since his debut in September 2017, meaning he has been directly involved in 0.6 goals per 90 minutes. For comparison, that is an identical number to Antoine Griezmann during his short-lived stint at Camp Nou.

Denis Zakaria (Borussia Monchengladbach)

Strongly touted as a target for the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Zakaria will depart Borussia Monchengladbach in 2022 after confirming to the German club that he intends to run down his contract.

The defensive midfielder averages 52.3 passes every 90 minutes and 47.1 successful ones, the latter being the ninth-most this season among Bundesliga midfielders with at least 500 minutes played. Among the same group of players, only seven average more than his two successful dribbles every 90 minutes – all of those being more attack-minded players.

Paulo Dybala (Juventus)

Dybala has indicated that he wants to remain a Juventus player beyond this season but the longer talks over a new deal drag on, the more unlikely it appears he will still be in Turin six months from now – and that would be a major blow for the Bianconeri during an already difficult period.

The Argentina international has eight goals and four assists in 17 appearances this term, without being at what many would consider his best form – at least three more direct goal involvements than Juve's next most threatening player Alvaro Morata and double that of Federico Bernardeschi in third.

The race for Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland is on.

Haaland is reportedly being chased by several top clubs, including Real Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

Each club will be looking for an edge in the race for the Norwegian.


TOP STORY – BARCELONA NOT KEEN ON POGBA-HAALAND PACKAGE

Barcelona are unlikely to bring in both Haaland and Paul Pogba, reports SPORT.

Agent Mino Raiola, who represents both players, is reported to have recently met with Barca president Joan Laporta.

Young striker Haaland is unmistakably an appealing player to Barcelona, but they would need to find the funds to buy him from Borussia Dortmund. Barcelona, who have major financial issues, are said to be wary of taking on Manchester United star Pogba's wages, and he may not be an ideal technical fit for coach Xavi. Pogba's United contract is due to expire at the end of this season.

Manchester City are also readying themselves to chase Haaland but will not over-spend, reports the Manchester Evening News.

ROUND-UP

- Cashed-up Newcastle United are bullish about their prospects of signing Atletico Madrid's England defender Kieran Trippier in January, according to Football Insider. Talks between the Magpies and Trippier are reportedly already under way.

- Premier League trio Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United could be all set to make a move to sign Fiorentina's Dusan Vlahovic after he rejected a bumper extension offer, reports Talksport.

- Paris Saint-Germain have joined the queue of clubs hoping to sign out-of-favour Juventus midfielder Arthur Melo, reports Calciomercato. Arthur has also been linked with Lazio.

- Fenerbahce are set to swoop for Luuk de Jong, who is on loan at Barcelona from Sevilla, claims Mundo Deportivo. Barca are eager to let him leave from his loan.

- Barcelona have set an asking price of €90million (£77m) for Frenkie de Jong according to Fichajes, amid interest from Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

Wantaway forward Anthony Martial can revive his Manchester United career if he shows the same aggressive mentality as Cristiano Ronaldo.

That is according to former United striker Louis Saha, who also told Stats Perform it is down to new interim manager Ralf Rangnick to get the best out of Paul Pogba.

Martial's agent revealed last week that the France international, who has spent the past six years at United, is eager to leave in January due to a lack of playing time this season.

Former Monaco forward Martial has played just 358 minutes of football for the Red Devils in all competitions this season – the 20th most in the squad – and only started four times.

He scored 17 goals under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer two seasons ago, but found the net just four times in all competitions last season and only once so far this term.

But Saha does not believe it is too late for Martial – who has not featured in a matchday squad in Rangnick's three games in charge – to get his career back on track at United.

"He needs a big switch in his mentality," Saha said of his compatriot. "I heard that he doesn't listen to any critics, he just protects himself and his self-belief and all that.

"Sometimes you must listen. You need to hear the critics and understand you have so much potential and that's why you've been criticised – because you can do much more. 

"The mentality that Cristiano is showing, that's something that you need to have as a number nine. And the number nine at the moment is Martial. 

"So he really needs to be very aggressive. And this is what I want because I think he's a terrific player and it's not because he's French. 

"I love his potential when he's playing with full confidence, it's just unstoppable. I can see him being part of this squad when there's a proper aggressiveness in his approach to games. 

"Maybe you can last four or five games, 70 minutes because you can't do anymore, but then you go to 80 minutes and then 90 minutes." 

Martial is not the only Frenchman facing an uncertain future at Old Trafford, with midfielder Pogba now into the final six months of his contract.

Rangnick stated last week it is not his job to persuade Pogba, who is out until 2022 with a thigh injury sustained last month, to sign a new deal.
 
Despite featuring in just 13 of United's 22 games in all competitions this term, Pogba's tally of seven assists is bettered only by Bruno Fernandes (eight) among his team-mates.

Indeed, each of those assists have come in the Premier League from nine appearances. 

Of those to have played as many games in Europe's top five leagues this term, only Angers midfielder Mathias Pereira Lage (1.08) and Cologne's Louis Schaub (1.24) have assisted more goals per 90 minutes than Pogba (1).

And Saha insists there is a place in the United side for Pogba once he has recovered from injury, even if his playing style is not necessarily suited to a Rangnick-coached team.
 
"It's not like every player needs to press," said Saha, who spent four years at United before leaving in 2008. "That's not the way football is. 

"Some players have a great quality to do that and some can read the games and can be the counter-attacker in some way. There are so many combinations. 

"This is where the balance is really important for a manager. You need to find the kind of right formula for the players to express themselves to the best. 

"Paul Pogba is not well known and you will never be well known to press and be like N'Golo Kante. It's just not his quality. His quality is somewhere else."

Pogba often comes in for criticism, but Saha has urged his countryman to do his talking where it matters most.

"That's the problem for Paul. It's not about quality and it's not about mentality. When he is on the field, he never hides, he works, he commits," Saha said.

"Just play, just enjoy, just work hard, just speak on the field. I don't want to hear anyone talk and I know that.

"And you can see the best players like [Lionel] Messi, Ronaldo, they don't need to speak. Nobody is speaking. You don't need to defend yourself when you're performing."

Paul Pogba's club future continues to be a major topic of speculation.

The 28-year-old is into the final year of his Manchester United contract.

Pogba has flirted with the idea of an extension but has been stalling on a decision.

 

TOP STORY – REAL AND PSG HOME IN ON POGBA

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are both ready to ramp up the race to sign Paul Pogba from Manchester United, claims Marca.

Pogba is running down his United contract, meaning he will be a free agent in mid-2022.

Real and PSG will rekindle their interest after new United interim manager Ralf Rangnick said Pogba should not need to be convinced to stay.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United forward Edinson Cavani has offered his services to Juventus, according to Calciomercato. The Uruguayan veteran has also been linked with Barcelona.

- Barcelona are plotting moves for Chelsea's trio Cesar Azpilicueta, Christian Pulisic and Antonio Rudiger, reports Mundo Deportivo.

- Milan are circling to sign Liverpool's super-sub Divock Origi as they seek a long-term replacement for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, claims Tuttomercato. Atalanta are also interested.

- Calciomercato reports that Roma are considering a move for Spezia midfielder Jiulio Maggiore. The 23-year-old is out of contract in 2023 and valued at €8m (£6.8m).

- Roma are also interested in a move for Norwich City's Max Aarons, according to Corriere dello Sport. Tottenham and Everton are also in the race.

- Lyon are interested in a move for Villarreal's Arnaut Danjuma, claims Todofichajes. Manchester United and Barcelona are also tracking the ex-Bournemouth winger.

Ralf Rangnick will not attempt to convince Paul Pogba to sign a new contract with Manchester United should the midfielder wish to move away.

Pogba, who has not featured for United since sustaining a hamstring injury on international duty with France in October, is out of contract at the end of the season.

The 28-year-old previously indicated he does not intend to agree fresh terms at Old Trafford, where he has spent the past five and a half years in his second spell with the Premier League club.

Agent Mino Raiola confirmed on Friday that Pogba has been offered a contract extension in Manchester, while suggesting Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich may make a move for his client.

LaLiga giants Real Madrid and Ligue 1 powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain have been regularly linked with the Frenchman, meanwhile, and former side Juventus are also reported to hold an interest. 

With Pogba's future yet again the subject of intense speculation, interim United manager Rangnick does not believe it is his job to talk any player into staying at the club.

"I wouldn't say he is not worth keeping but players need to want to stay and play for the club," Rangnick said ahead of Saturday's trip to Norwich City.

"If a player doesn't want to play for a club like Manchester United, even in the long term, I don't think it makes sense to convince him to change his mind.

"This is such a massive club, with fantastic support, I don't think anyone at the club should try to convince a player to stay.

"Let's have him come back, get fully fit and training with the team, then we will see where we stand."

Since re-joining from Serie A's Juventus in August 2016, Pogba has played 62 per cent of United's Premier League minutes (11,502 played out of a possible 18,450).

Despite featuring in just 13 of United's 22 games in all competitions this term, Pogba's tally of seven assists is bettered only by Bruno Fernandes (eight) among his team-mates.

Indeed, each of those assists have come in the Premier League from nine appearances. 

Of those to have played as many games in Europe's top five leagues this term, only four others have assisted more goals per 90 minutes than Pogba (1) – Kevin Behrens, Luis Muriel (both 1.02), Mathias Pereira Lage (1.12) and Louis Schaub (1.25).

Pogba is due to return from a training camp in Dubai this weekend, but Rangnick does not expect him to make his first-team comeback until next year. 

"I have to get to know him I have to speak to him when he is back. It is about being fully physically fit. The way we want to play is high intensity," the German added.

"It will take some time for him to get fully fit. Once he is fully fit, I see him as a midfielder rather than a striker or a left winger.

"The only thing of interest to me is how do we get him fully fit.

"He can be an important player, I am fully aware of that. But that is true for all the players. I am not only the coach of Paul Pogba. I am also the coach of all the other players."

Mino Raiola has suggested Bayern Munich could make a move for Paul Pogba, who has also been offered a contract extension by Manchester United.

Pogba is out of contract with United at the end of the season. He has not featured since October when he was sent off in a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool.

The midfielder subsequently suffered a thigh injury while away on international duty with France last month.

United's new interim manager Ralf Rangnick said on Friday that he has spoken to Pogba, who has been rehabbing in Dubai but is due back into the United Kingdom this weekend.

Raiola confirmed in an interview with Sport1 that his client has been offered fresh terms by the Red Devils, though insisted that is just one of several options on the table, adding a move to Bayern may be hard for the Bundesliga club to pull off.

"We have many offers for him, including a contract extension. We'll see what’s best for him," Raiola said.

When asked if a Bundesliga team would be of interest to Pogba, Raiola replied: "The German mentality is different. They cannot and do not want to pay these high salaries. 

"The only German club that could do that is Bayern Munich. But even they can't get to Paul's salary. Germans are at the bottom of the international salary pyramid."

Pressed if there had been an expression of interest from Bayern, Raiola added: "Not yet, but maybe it will come.

"You have to ask Bayern. We deal with everything, but Bayern are the only ones [in Germany] who could afford him. I think we'll know more in two months."

Staying on the subject of Bayern, Raiola also revealed that one of his other star clients - Matthijs de Ligt - very nearly joined the Bavarian side back in 2019.

However, the move did not materialise, with De Ligt instead leaving Ajax to join Juventus.

"Do you actually know that we almost brought Matthijs de Ligt to Munich?" he added. "We held positive talks and it’s a shame it didn’t work out in the end."

Ralf Rangnick has been in contact with the injured Paul Pogba as he continues to get to know his Manchester United players and instil his methods.

Rangnick defeated Crystal Palace 1-0 in his first game in charge last Sunday, becoming the first of six German managers to win their opening game in the Premier League.

A youthful United side, which featured six teenagers for just the fifth time in Champions League history, were then held to a 1-1 draw by Young Boys at Old Trafford and the Red Devils now prepare to visit Norwich City on Saturday.

They will do so, however, without Pogba – who is currently in Dubai in an attempt to recover from a thigh injury – but Rangnick explained he has spoken to the France international as he continues to outline his plans with the squad.

"We spoke over the phone two days ago or on Tuesday," Rangnick told reporters at Friday's news conference. 

"He was still in Dubai, he's expected to come back today and we will get to know each other in person on Sunday. We had a telephone call for around 10 or 15 minutes and he told me he was getting better. 

"Obviously, he still isn't fully fit and from what I've heard it will take another couple of weeks until he's fit for training again. He has been out for quite some time so it will take another couple of weeks to get him match fit."

Rangnick faces his first away game in the Premier League against Norwich, with none of the last four permanent United managers losing their first league game on the road since Alex Ferguson in November 1986.

However, Norwich head coach Dean Smith has already beaten United this term with Aston Villa.

He is aiming to become the first manager since Andy Aitken in 1908-09 to beat United with two different clubs in the same top-flight season.

Rangnick, though, has been satisfied with his side's work ethic so far as he looks to build on a pleasing showing against Palace.

"In the first instance, it was about getting to know the players," he added. "We did quite a lot of video footage with them in order to tell them how we want to play. 

"As we all saw, they did well in that game. Not everything was perfect, but quite a few things worked out well. We were always on the front foot, we had control of the game. 

"Now it's about taking the next steps. What we showed against Crystal Palace was good. We didn't allow them to score or give them too many opportunities.

"[Norwich] have improved since the change of managers. They play a little bit more direct, a little bit more vertical than they did with Daniel Farke, so it will be a challenge to play at Carrow Road.

"But we want to improve our performance, we want to build on what we showed against Crystal Palace and hopefully get the next win tomorrow."

Denis Zakaria looms as an attractive signing, with his contract due to expire.

The Borussia Monchengladbach star is not short of admirers.

Liverpool and Barcelona are reportedly vying for his signature.

 

TOP STORY – ZAKARIA TO LIVERPOOL OR BARCA?

Liverpool lead Barcelona in the pursuit to sign Borussia Monchengladbach star Denis Zakaria, according to El Nacional.

Zakaria is available on a free transfer at the end of the season and the Switzerland international has been heavily linked with Jose Mourinho's Roma.

He has also reportedly attracted interest from Manchester United and Manchester City, however, Premier League giants Liverpool and LaLiga powerhouse Barca are believed to be set to battle it out.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Anfield and Fichajes claims Liverpool have joined the race to prise Adama Traore from Wolves. Traore has also been linked with Barca and Juventus.

Paul Pogba is unlikely to sign a pre-contract agreement with a club abroad, says The Athletic. Pogba's United contract expires at the end of the season and Frenchman has been tipped to join either Real Madrid, Juve or Paris Saint-Germain.

- Premier League champions City are working to re-sign Riyad Mahrez, per The Sun. PSG are reportedly eyeing the Algeria international, who is contracted to City until 2023.

Newcastle United are set to make a move for Donny van de Beek, according to El Nacional. Van de Beek has found his chances limited at Manchester United and Newcastle are ready to pounce.

- After appointing Ralf Rangnick until the end of the season, The Times claims United's interim manager is targeting RB Leipzig midfielder Amadou Haidara.

Manchester United have broken with modern tradition and made a footballing decision that everyone seems to think is a good one.

The appointment of Ralf Rangnick as interim manager until the end of the season was confirmed on Monday, a day after caretaker Michael Carrick managed a creditable 1-1 draw at Premier League leaders Chelsea.

While he hasn't been a coach for the best part of three years, Rangnick's legacy in the Bundesliga and his influence on some of Germany's finest minds makes him a shrewd appointment for United, not least because he will take up a two-year consultancy role after 2021-22.

This, then, is a decision taken by United with a view to long-term changes to their fortunes, not simply a quick fix to arrest poor results. Still, with more than half the season still to go, Rangnick could yet guide the Red Devils to some tangible on-pitch success over the coming months – provided that he gets to work quickly on some of their biggest problems.

Stats Perform looks at five things Rangnick must address as soon as possible...

 

Fix the defence

United conceded 21 goals in the first 12 games of the season; they have never previously let in more at the same stage in the competition's history. In November alone, they have faced 60 shots, the most of any side in the division.

That tells you something about the state of their defence.

Of course, Rangnick's gegenpressing system is likely to demand off-the-ball contributions from every player on the pitch (more on that shortly) but the rearguard is in need of some serious fine-tuning. In particular, captain Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw have seen their individual form fall off a cliff since they helped England to the final of Euro 2020; it was telling that a good defensive performance against Chelsea on Sunday came with both players sidelined.

Getting the best out of Shaw and Maguire, arresting Aaron Wan-Bissaka's decline and getting Raphael Varane fit and integrated into the side will be essential to Rangnick's aims.

Get Bruno firing again

So often United's star performer under Solskjaer, Bruno Fernandes is another who has endured a comparatively poor season.

He tallied his 50 direct goal involvement on his 58th appearance in October (30 goals, 20 assists), which is a tally only Andy Cole (43), Alan Shearer (54) and Eric Cantona (54) reached in fewer games, so it's not all bad. But the Portugal playmaker has scored just once in 19 appearances for club and country.

He looks a player in need of a lift and, so central is he to United's attack play, he could be Rangnick's first port of call at Carrington. Well, apart from...

Accommodate Ronaldo

Like a black hole devouring a gas cloud, all the noise surrounding United's performances seems to be drawn inexorably back to Cristiano Ronaldo.

It's a beguiling narrative: a five-time Ballon d'Or winner who has to start every game but who should not expect to start every game; a 36-year-old forward who no longer contributes enough to make up for any shortcomings, but one with six goals in five Champions League matches this season, two of them winners and one a last-gasp equaliser.

There are some writing off Ronaldo's chances of winning over a coach like Rangnick who demands hard graft from every member of his team, while others say the onus is on the incoming manager to construct a unit that brings the best out of the leading male international goalscorer in history. Time will tell what the future holds.

And just a note for the 'Ronaldo doesn't press' crowd: he made three more sprints and 21 more intensive runs against Chelsea than Jesse Lingard, who came on at the same time.

Tie down Pogba and tidy the squad

Some of Solskjaer's best work at United was putting together a strong squad, but that seemed to unravel in his final few months in charge.

Lingard returned rejuvenated from West Ham but, rather than cash in when there was a demand, Solskjaer kept the England international yet gave him just 63 minutes of league action. It's now likely he'll leave for nothing next June.

There were similarly strange decisions behind contract extensions for Eric Bailly and the seldom-seen Juan Mata, while Phil Jones is still at the club after two years of injury hell and Anthony Martial was retained despite falling way down the attacking pecking order. Goalkeeper Dean Henderson also appears unlikely now to dislodge David de Gea.

Then there is Paul Pogba, still yet to sign a new deal or announce plans to leave for free next year, whose agent wastes few opportunities to discuss potentially interested parties. The word is that Pogba is excited to work with Rangnick, but the France star is just one of several members of the United squad who needs clarity on their positions.

Give Donny a chance

It felt almost pre-ordained when Donny van de Beek scored the final goal of the Solskjaer era against Watford, having come on as a substitute to rapturous (and ironic) cheers from the visiting fans.

Van de Beek has spent most of his time at United being assured his chances would come, then left wondering when that would be. Having only started four league games in 14 months, the Netherlands international – who has lost his place in the national squad – would almost certainly have pushed to leave in January had Solskjaer stayed in the job.

Now, Van de Beek has the opportunity to prove himself to a new manager. Rangnick's methods might not be Cruyffian exactly, but they are certainly more closely aligned to the Ajax way than Solskjaer's focus on individual inspiration.

Manchester City's forward pursuit has dominated headlines.

Since Sergio Aguero left for Barcelona, Pep Guardiola's champions have been targeting a replacement.

Karim Benzema could reportedly fill the void.

 

TOP STORY – BENZEMA TO CITY?

Manchester City want to sign Real Madrid star Karim Benzema, according to El Nacional.

Premier League champions City are desperate to bolster their attack, having missed out on Tottenham's Harry Kane following the departure of Sergio Aguero at the start of the season.

Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic have been linked, but Benzema – out of contract in 2023 – has emerged as an option.

 

ROUND-UP

- Nicolo Schira claims Bayern Munich are set to battle Chelsea for Federico Chiesa. The Italy international is on loan at Juventus from Fiorentina and set to join the Bianconeri permanently at the end of the season. However, if Juve fail to qualify for the Champions League, rivals could pounce.

Barcelona are eyeing a move for Manchester United forward Anthony Martial, per Mundo Deportivo. Martial has found game time hard to come by at Old Trafford.

- SuperDerpote claims Madrid midfielder Luka Modric would be open to leaving for City. Modric is out of contract at the end of the season. It comes after Marca said Los Blancos are not interested in United star and soon-to-be free agent Paul Pogba.

Marcelo Brozovic is set to re-sign with Serie A champions Inter, according to Tuttosport. Brozovic has been linked with United, Barca and PSG.

The race to sign Erling Haaland may have taken another turn.

Norway forward Haaland is a hot property being pursued by a host of top clubs, with Manchester United among them.

Borussia Dortmund retained his services at the start of this season but the race is expected to heat up in the off-season.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED HOPEFUL OF HAALAND EDGE

The Mirror reports that the imminent appointment of Ralf Rangnick at Manchester United can give them the edge in the race for Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

Rangnick and Haaland worked together previously at Salzburg and United believe that relationship can propel them to the front of the queue.

Manchester City, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are all in the race to sign the 21-year-old.

 

ROUND-UP

- PSG will not let head coach Mauricio Pochettino exit the club during the season amid links with Manchester United's vacant managerial role, reports Goal. The Argentine may be allowed to leave at the end of the season.

- Marca report that Real Madrid will not be signing Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba in the off-season despite widespread speculation about a move.

- Sevilla are leading the race to sign Blackburn's Chile international Ben Brereton, according to The Sun. Rovers want £20m for his services.

- West Ham are set to launch a £7m bid to sign Burnley defender James Tarkowski,  report The Sun.

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