Thomas Tuchel believes Chelsea can overcome a lack of Champions League semi-final experience by playing with hunger and enthusiasm when they go up against Real Madrid.

The Blues have made it through to the last four of Europe's premier club competition for the first time since 2013-2014, a season that finished with Madrid winning the trophy in Lisbon.

Los Blancos also won the competition for three successive seasons during Zinedine Zidane's first spell in charge, with many of the key players involved in that impressive hat-trick still at the club now.

However, Tuchel feels his Chelsea squad are in "a good moment" heading into Tuesday's first leg in the Spanish capital.

"Every match I feel that we are able to play on a very high level," Tuchel, who confirmed Mateo Kovacic will miss the game in Madrid through injury, told the media.

"If it's not possible to play our nicest match, we are always able to not let the opponents play their best match – which is also a definition of performance.

"We have a strong bond; I feel a strong bond within the squad. I feel us very involved physically in the games, ready to work together, to suffer together and, when it's needed, to respond to the questions. If it's necessary to fight, then fight; if it's necessary to run, then run.

"We should not expect crazy things from us, but the same again on the highest level.

"The good thing is we have had the experiences together, tough matches, tight matches, very important matches in the Premier League and the FA Cup, so we feel it's a good moment to play this match.

"We want to play hungry; we want to play adventurous. Maybe, considering a lack of experience in semi-finals, to compensate with hunger and enthusiasm."

Both Chelsea and Madrid were involved in the doomed European Super League proposal, leading to speculation they could be kicked out of this season's Champions League as a consequence.

While that has not happened, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has made clear there will be consequences for the 12 clubs involved.

"We deserve to be in the semi-final, like Real Madrid deserve to be," Tuchel said. "We have come a long way.

"Of course we deserve to play in a semi-final. If problems persist on a sports political level then they have to be solved at that level, not on the pitch.

"We deserve, through the competition, to be here."

UEFA announced Champions League reforms last week, including an increase in number of teams from 32 to 36 as the format switches to a league system for the 2024-25 season.

The changes will see more matches for those teams concerned, leaving Tuchel to question why coaches and players were not involved in the planning process.

"I'm not sure if I like it, because I can only see more games out of it," he said when asked about the new-look competition.

"More games in the schedule that we have is very hard for me to be excited at all. All the discussions about Super League made us forget that we have a new format of the Champions League.

"Did they ask any coach about this? I don't think so – they didn't ask me. Did they ask any player about this? I don't think so.

"We have so many new formats, so many more games. It's more, more games. It's not more quality, it's just more games.

"Who should play in these games? We have three substitutes allowed in the Premier League, one of the toughest competitions. No, I'm not happy about this new format at all."

Zinedine Zidane says the idea of Real Madrid being banned from the Champions League for their part in the attempted European Super League breakaway is "absurd".

Madrid were among the 12 founding clubs of the competition that was announced earlier this month, with club president Florentino Perez installed as the Super League's chairman.

But last week, within 48 hours of the plans being confirmed, the six English clubs involved all withdrew, and they were soon followed by Atletico Madrid, Inter and Milan. Juventus remain supportive of the Super League but did acknowledge the collapse of the initial proposal.

Madrid and Barcelona have been defiant since, however, adamant their plans still have merit and are not completely dead.

UEFA is threatening to punish all of the 12, but the English clubs withdrawing early could earn them some leniency, though Zidane is not worried about the idea of Madrid being barred from the Champions League next term.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's semi-final first leg with Chelsea, Zidane said: "You have already asked me about all this and I have already answered.

"It is absurd to think that we will not be in the Champions League. There is a lot of talk from outside. There is going to be a lot of talk, but we don't control it, I just focus on the game.

"But my opinion is that we all want to see Madrid in the Champions League."

It was also put to Zidane that UEFA's stance could potentially be reflected by the officials being harsh on Madrid against Chelsea.

"The referee is going to do his job and we are going to play football," he replied. "We just have to think about that.

"If we start to think that what is being said is going to harm us, we are screwed. We are going to compete from minute one to 90. The rest, we don't get involved in."

The Champions League fixture follows a tricky LaLiga title tussle for Madrid, whose 0-0 draw with Real Betis on Saturday seeing them miss out on going top of the table.

With leaders Atletico losing to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday and Sevilla beating Granada, just three points separate top from fourth in what is shaping up to be the most thrilling title race in years, but Zidane insists Madrid will not be giving one competition priority over the other.

"We are not going to choose. We are alive in both competitions," he added. "We have had a lot of difficulties this year, but we have always been able to lift ourselves.

"There is a month left and we are going to compete until the end. There is no other thought in my head.

"What we want to do is give everything on the field, without thinking that winning will not be possible."

Raphael Varane is focused only on finishing the season strongly amid rumours the centre-back could be set to end his long association with Real Madrid.

The centre-back is under contract at Madrid – whom he joined a decade ago – until 2022, and while reports in Spain suggest there have been negotiations over a new deal, it remains unclear if he will sign an extension.

Chelsea are one of the teams linked with a move for Varane, who is preparing to go up against the Blues in the Champions League semi-finals.

Ahead of the first leg in the Spanish capital, the France international made clear that speculation surrounding his future will not overshadow a pivotal run-in for Los Blancos, both at home and in Europe.

The reigning LaLiga champions remain firmly in the title race despite a 0-0 draw at home to Real Betis on Saturday.

"My future is clear: my focus is on the end of the season," Varane told the media on Monday.

"We are in a very intense moment and we have to be focused on the games that lie ahead.

"It is normal that the focus is on the end of the season. The message to the fans is that I am 100 per cent committed to the team. 

"We have some challenges that encourage us a lot. I'm focused on giving it my all on the pitch."

Varane missed both meetings with Liverpool in the quarter-finals while isolating following a positive COVID-19 test result.

Madrid were also without injured captain Sergio Ramos for those games, yet Eder Militao and Nacho Fernandez formed an impressive partnership at the heart of a defence that kept a clean sheet against the Reds at Anfield.

Militao had struggled previously since his arrival from Porto but an extended run of games in the starting XI allowed him to showcase his abilities, a situation Varane can relate to during his own career.

"I talk to him a lot. When I had little rhythm, it was difficult to enter the team," Varane said. "I've been through the situation too. You have few minutes to demonstrate a lot, and it's complicated. It requires a lot and it is not easy.

"He has a good mentality and is always in a good mood. We see it on a daily basis and know the quality he has - now he has been able to demonstrate it by playing.

"It's very good to have players like him who are positive and always give their all."

Does a Premier League switch beckon for Raphael Varane?

Varane has starred for Real Madrid, winning LaLiga and Champions League titles.

But Varane could be sacrificed in the Spanish capital, with Chelsea reportedly interested.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA FRONTRUNNERS FOR VARANE

Chelsea are ahead of Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain in the race to sign Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Varane has been linked with a move away from Madrid, who are looking to raise funds as they target PSG star Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

United have reportedly emerged as strong suitors but Chelsea are believed to be at the front of the queue to land the France international.

 

ROUND-UP

- Goal, Sport1 and other outlets report Bayern Munich have opened talks with RB Leipzig to hire head coach Julian Nagelsmann. With Hansi Flick set to depart at season's end, Nagelsmann is wanted in Munich.

Jose Mourinho is ready to return to Inter should Nerazzurri boss Antonio Conte exit, claims Calciomercato. Conte is poised to lead Inter to their first Scudetto since 2009-10, when Mourinho oversaw a treble, but the former Italy coach's future is far from certain. Mourinho is available after he was sacked by Tottenham.

- According to Gol Digital, Atletico Madrid are considering a move for Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta.

Roma are targeting Maurizio Sarri as their next head coach, says Corriere dello Sport. Paulo Fonseca is currently at the helm but he is under pressure in the Italian capital. Roma have reportedly already met with ex-Chelsea, Juventus and Napoli coach Sarri to discuss finer details.

Milan have given star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma one month to decide on a contract extension, reports Tuttosport. Donnarumma is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and the Italy international is yet to re-sign. The likes of United, Chelsea, Juventus, PSG and Madrid have been linked. Milan are reportedly eyeing Lille's Mike Maignan as a possible replacement.

- Bild claims Arsenal are lining up a move for Dortmund's Julian Brandt as a replacement for loanee Martin Odegaard, who is attracting interest from elsewhere. Brandt could be one of many Dortmund players to leave in the off-season as clubs circle Haaland, including Manchester City, Liverpool, Barcelona, United, Chelsea, PSG and Bayern.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has made clear the 12 European Super League clubs must face the consequences for their involvement in the planned breakaway competition.

Less than 48 hours after the official announcement of the tournament, and following a huge public backlash to the plan, the 'big six' from the Premier League – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – all ended their involvement.

Ceferin has praised the English clubs for a willingness to admit they made a mistake, but that will not mean they avoid punishment – albeit it is unclear yet what action the governing body will take.

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, the UEFA chief revealed how he has placed the teams in different tiers while comparing Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid to those who believe Earth is flat, with that trio still remaining aligned to the initial proposal.

"Everyone has to take consequences for what they did and we cannot pretend nothing happened," Ceferin told the newspaper.

"You cannot do something like that and just say: 'I've been punished because everybody hates me'. They don't have problems because of anyone else but themselves. It's not okay what they did and we will see in next few days what we have to do.

"But for me it's a clear difference between the English clubs and the other six. They pulled out first, they admitted they made a mistake. You have to have some greatness to say: 'I was wrong'.

"For me there are three groups of this 12 — the English six, who went out first, then the other three [Atletico Madrid, Inter and Milan] after them and then the ones who feel that Earth is flat and they think the Super League still exists. And there is a big difference between those.

"But everyone will be held responsible. In what way, we will see. I don't want to say disciplinary process but it has to be clear that everyone has to be held responsible in a different way.

"Is it disciplinary? Is it the decision of the executive committee? We will see. It's too early to say."

There was widespread condemnation of the Super League from fans, governing bodies and former players alike, leading to financial backers JP Morgan to admit they "misjudged how the deal would be viewed by the wider football community".

UEFA announced changes to the Champions League format on Monday, including an increase from 32 to 36 clubs as the current group stage system is to be shelved in favour of a single league.

Clubs will get to play four extra matches per season, with the top eight in the final table advancing through to the last 16. Those placed between ninth and 24th will enter a play-off round to decide who else will qualify for the knockout stages, while those 25th and lower are eliminated and do not enter the Europa League.

The radical reforms to the competition are scheduled to come into place for the 2024-25 season.

Zinedine Zidane portrayed a relaxed figure despite Real Madrid suffering something of a setback in their title challenge as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Real Betis.

Madrid were looking to go top of the table – at least until Sunday – with a victory at Valdebebas, but in the end they were arguably fortunate to leave with a point.

Betis had the best chances of the match, with Guido Rodriguez and Borja Iglesias spurning glorious opportunities in the second half.

While Madrid managed five shots on target, their cumulative expected goals value of 1.02 was only marginally more than Betis' 0.92.

It was an underwhelming showing ahead of their Champions League semi-final first leg against Chelsea on Tuesday, while they will finish the weekend five points off the top of LaLiga if Atletico beat Athletic Bilbao.

But Zidane stressed there was no need to panic, even if he was irritated by Madrid's issues in attack during Saturday's stalemate.

"We lose two points and we don't like it but there is still a lot of LaLiga to go, it doesn't end today," he said.

"The rest of the teams have to play and we'll see what happens. We now focus on Tuesday's game.

"Defensively we were very good, but offensively we lacked many things. We lacked something, we were not fine at the top end of the pitch.

"We are prepared for the next game, which is going to be the most difficult of the whole season."

One positive for Madrid was the return of Eden Hazard, who made only his second LaLiga appearance since the end of January.

The Belgium winger had been blighted by calf and thigh issues but looked lively in his cameo, suggesting he could play a role against his former club over the next couple of weeks.

"I was very happy to see Eden Hazard because it was important to have him with us again," Zidane said.

"We know the quality he has and I hope to be able to count on him until the end of the season."

Real Madrid suffered another setback in the title race as they were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Real Betis in LaLiga on Saturday.

Zinedine Zidane's men would have gone top – ahead of Atletico Madrid due to a better head-to-head record – at least until Sunday had they beaten Betis, but their inability to find a way past Claudio Bravo means they could end the weekend five points behind the leaders.

The contest did not truly come to life until the second half and Madrid could easily have found themselves trailing, with Guido Rodriguez and Borja Iglesias guilty of wasting great chances.

Opportunities of a similar quality were by no means a regular occurrence for Madrid, who will hoping Athletic Bilbao can do them a favour against Atletico on Sunday, with the four-way Spanish title race looking set for a thrilling conclusion.

Madrid got very little out of Betis in what was a largely cagey first half that saw only one shot on target.

That chance fell to Karim Benzema in the 25th minute, as the Frenchman had his effort turned around the post by Bravo.

Former Madrid youngster Sergio Canales went close at the other end soon after, narrowly missing the left-hand post with a 20-yard effort.

The hosts almost got lucky nine minutes into the second half as Rodrygo's cross hit the crossbar with Bravo seemingly beaten.

Though they should have found themselves trailing a few moments later.

Rodriguez did the hard part as he raced past Eder Militao and Raphael Varane, but upon penetrating the penalty area he hit a scuffed left-footed shot straight at the relieved Thibaut Courtois.

Iglesias then spurned an even better opportunity on the break, Courtois blocking the ball as the striker attempted to prod it past him after Canales' pinpoint cross.

Much like Rodriguez, Vinicius Junior failed to apply the decisive finish after a brilliant run of his own, following it up with a feeble effort that caused Bravo no worries.

Florentino Perez says the clubs who claimed this week to have abandoned the European Super League remain contractually tied to the project.

The Real Madrid president, who has been a driving force and staunch defender of the controversial breakaway, says those that signed up "can't leave", even if they say they have quit the league.

Twelve teams declared last Sunday that they had committed to the Super League, but on Tuesday all six Premier League clubs announced they had quit. Inter and Atletico Madrid soon followed, Milan may also withdraw, while Juventus remain advocates of the league but have acknowledged its collapse.

Real Madrid and Barcelona very much remain, but for all the merits of Clasico clashes, they need other clubs to firmly commit.

Perez was asked in an interview with Spanish newspaper AS whether it was true that clubs would have to buy themselves out of binding contracts.

He said: "I'm not going to take my time to explain what a binding contract is here. But the fact is, the clubs can't leave.

"Some, because of the pressure, have had to say they'll leave. But this project, or something very similar, will happen, and I hope it's in the near future."

Supporters, players, coaches, politicians and even royalty have come out in opposition of the plans, with the 'closed-shop' nature of the Super League, whereby the 12 founding clubs would be guaranteed continuing membership, being criticised as an anti-competitive concept.

UEFA and FIFA, the long-time governing bodies of the European and world game, have been scathing and pointed to the possibility of punishments being imposed on the clubs involved.

Perez vowed the Super League has not yet been killed off and is merely a sleeping project, poised to be resurrected.

"The entity exists and the members who make up the Super League are there too," he said.

"What we've done is given ourselves a few weeks to reflect on the hostility with which certain people who don't want to lose their privileges have manipulated the project."

He said financial backers JP Morgan remain involved, despite the investment banking firm stating it "clearly misjudged" the depth of feeling that would be stirred in the football community by the league.

"They've taken time to reflect, like the 12 clubs," Perez said. "If something needs to be changed, it'll be changed, but the Super League is the best project we've thought can be carried out."

Perez said he was baffled by UEFA's Champions League expansion plans, announced on Monday, which will see 36 teams rather than the current 32 compete from the 2024-25 season, each guaranteed at least 10 games per season, and he said the start date was too far away.

Madrid, Barcelona and all major European clubs have been hit heavily financially by the COVID-19 crisis, with major revenue streams such as matchday income cut off.

Perez said there was a danger that "all the clubs go bankrupt" unless there is immediate action.

Is Ibrahima Konate bound for Anfield?

The 21-year-old defender has caught the eye of both Liverpool and Manchester United.

But, the Merseyside club appear set to win the race for his signature.

 

TOP STORY – KONATE HEADING TO ANFIELD

Liverpool have agreed a deal to sign Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig, according to the Guardian.

Konate had also been linked with Premier League rivals Manchester United, who are eyeing a new centre-back at Old Trafford.

But Liverpool have reportedly agreed a five-year contract with Konate, who has a €35million (£30.5m) release clause.

 

ROUND-UP

- The front page of Saturday's Mundo Deportivo reports Barcelona want to offer a new and improved contract to teenage sensation Ansu Fati, which would keep him at Camp Nou until 2026. The 18-year-old, previously linked to United, until at least 2022, with the option to extend it by a further two years.

- What does the future hold for Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma? The 22-year-old Italy star's contract is set to expire at the end of the season and he is yet to re-sign at San Siro amid links with United, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Real Madrid. While Milan remain hopeful of keeping Donnarumma, Calciomercato says they have begun conversations with Lille's Mike Maignan.

Milan, Inter and Roma are eyeing Torino captain and star forward Andrea Belotti, claims Calciomercato.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Manchester City are set to sign Metinho in the same deal with Fluminense team-mate Kayky.

Madrid remain optimistic about the possibility of signing Kylian Mbappe from PSG, according to Le Parisien. Mbappe has been tipped to join Los Blancos, who have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

Florentino Perez remains adamant the European Super League must go ahead as "football is severely damaged", with the Real Madrid president suggesting the possibility of the top-four teams from each country featuring in the breakaway competition.

Plans for a Super League to rival UEFA's Champions League were announced on Sunday, with 12 founding members – Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Juventus, Inter and Milan.

But after widespread criticism from UEFA, FIFA, clubs, governments, fans and pundits, all six Premier League clubs pulled out, while Atletico, Inter, Milan and Juve followed suit.

Perez – who had been appointed as chairman of the competition – has continued to stress the need for the Super League and he flagged the idea of moving away from an exclusive group of clubs.

"These things get manipulated," Perez told Diario AS, with the full interview to be published on Saturday. "It is not a plan which excludes club and nor is it designed to go against other leagues.

"The Super League project is the best possible solution, and it has been created to help football get out of the crisis. Football is severely damaged because its economy has been ruined and it has to adapt to the new era we are living in. The Super League does not go against domestic competitions and its objective is to ensure that more money is available for all sections of football. The concept is to generate more interest for the games. Nor do I think that the changes which UEFA have made are a real solution to the problem because what has been proposed isn't even an improvement on the current model.

"Also, we cannot wait until 2024. But in any case, we must have done something badly. We are going to try to turn this around and develop more ideas. Maybe the solution is for the top four teams in every league to play. I don't know, but something needs to be done because today's youth, those between 14 and 24 years of age, are abandoning football because they see it as being boring compared to the other forms of entertainment which they prefer.

"There are four billion football fans all over the world and half of them are fans of the clubs in the Super League. Football is the only global sport."

Perez added: "Lets look at the data: a recent report by KPMG - in the first three months of the pandemic alone last season, the 12 clubs in the Super League reported losses of 650 million euros.

"By the end of this season, with the pandemic still ongoing, the losses will be between 2,000 and 2,500 million euros. Girondins [Bordeaux] have recently gone into administration. Either we do something soon or many more clubs will go under."

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane has hit back at UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin's claim that next week's Champions League semi-final against Chelsea might not go ahead.

Ceferin said there was a chance Madrid could be denied the opportunity to continue their bid for a 14th European crown after their president Florentino Perez refused to renounce his plans for a breakaway Super League, despite eight of the 12 teams initially signed up swiftly withdrawing from the project.

Speaking to Slovenian station 24UR, Ceferin conceded there was only "a relatively small possibility that the match isn’t played" but this was enough to draw Zidane's ire.

"It's illogical," he said at a news conference to preview Saturday's LaLiga match against Real Betis.

"We are going to play the Champions League, we have the right and we are going to play it.

"It is an absurd matter. I am not going to go into that. I can only tell you that we are going to prepare to play the Champions League semi-final.

"We have a league game and then we have time for the semi-final. I am not worried.

"They said a lot of things about this matter but we are going to play our semi-final as [we have] the right to play."

Perez has been widely ridiculed after a pair of scattergun media appearances in defence of the Super League – a matter Zidane again sought to prevent his own opinions and Madrid future becoming intertwined with.

"I do not know what will happen in a month or two months. I want to finish the season well and then we will talk about the future and what is going to happen," he said.

"At the moment we are focused on the day to day and tomorrow's game.

"As always, we [Zidane and Perez] talk from time to time and that's it. He comes here to see the team, everyone.

"Nothing has changed. We know where the president is. He wants us to focus on tomorrow's game."

Zidane will welcome back injury-plagued forward Eden Hazard for Betis' visit to Madrid, while Luka Modric is also set to return having missed the 3-0 midweek win over Cadiz due to a back complaint.

Club captain Sergio Ramos and Ferland Mendy are out with calf problems but Zidane is hopeful each can play a part against Chelsea.

"I see [Ramos] well, emotionally very well," he said. "He has had problems but he is better.

"He is not with us yet but he has a few days left. I am happy, because we always want him with us. I see him well, little by little. Some workouts are missing. " 

On Mendy, Zidane added: "He will not be there tomorrow. For Ferland it is day to day. I hope he will be with us on Tuesday, but not tomorrow. It is not much [of a problem], it is a matter of days." 

Defending champions Madrid are three points shy of Atletico Madrid at the top of LaLiga with six matches remaining.

Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal fans are the soul of the club as the Premier League side seek to rebuild relationships in the aftermath of the European Super League debacle.

Arsenal were one of six English top-flight teams to sign up to the doomed breakaway project, hastily withdrawing alongside all their Premier League counterparts on Tuesday amid a backlash from fans, players, football authorities and even national governments.

Chief executive Vinai Venkatesham and director Josh Kroenke received a severe grilling when attempting to apologise to an Arsenal fans forum this week and protests outside Emirates Stadium are expected to precede Friday's game against Everton.

Arteta, a popular figure during his playing days with the Gunners, insists the fans have the respect of himself and his players after making their voices heard during a tumultuous episode.

"We want to listen to them, we totally respect them. They've been loud and clear and they've been heard," he said.

"They're going to be heard all the time because they are the soul of this football club and the soul of this industry.

"We're going to try to do the best we can to make them proud all the time and make their lives better by playing the way we want to play, winning football matches and trophies.

"That's our responsibility. If they can help in any way it is by giving support to the team because that is going to have an immense effect. It is so powerful and they have to realise that."

If anything, the spectacle of fans congregating outside stadia makes Arteta pine for a return to pre-pandemic normality, describing football behind closed doors as a "different sport".

"I want fans, I want to have that feeling that we are competing and have feeling behind us," he added.

"If not, it is a different sport. Let's get back to where we were before the pandemic and enjoy football in a different way."

JP Morgan, the investment bank who had agreed to back the breakaway European Super League, has vowed to learn from a saga it "clearly misjudged".

The New York-based company was said to have committed €3.25billion to fund the controversial project.

But plans for the competition, which was officially revealed by the 12 founding clubs last weekend, fell through within 48 hours of the announcement after England's 'big six' pulled out.

Pressure from fans, players, coaches, governing bodies, governments and the media built up on the clubs due to the anti-competitive nature of a tournament intended to rival UEFA's Champions League model.

The dozen founders would have been guaranteed participation each year regardless of performances in their domestic leagues.

Only LaLiga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona still appear committed to the proposal with Juventus - keen supporters, led by chairman Andrea Agnelli - acknowledging the initial version of the Super League will not work.

JP Morgan said in a statement released on Friday: "We clearly misjudged how this deal would be viewed by the wider football community and how it might impact them in the future. We will learn from this."

Sustainability rating agency Standard Ethics had earlier downgraded JP Morgan from an "adequate" rating to "non-compliant" following the episode.

"Standard Ethics judges both the orientations shown by the football clubs involved in the project and those of the US bank to be contrary to sustainability best practices," it said.

Between 2003 and 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo won three Premier League titles and the Champions League among other honours at Manchester United.

Ronaldo has since gone on to play for Real Madrid and Juventus, but he could be set for an Old Trafford reunion.

Watch this space…

 

TOP STORY – UNITED MAKE RONALDO CONTACT

Manchester United have made contact with Cristiano Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes over a return to Old Trafford, according to the front page of Friday's Gazzetta dello Sport.

Juventus superstar Ronaldo has been tipped to leave Turin, where he arrived in 2018, amid links with former clubs United and Real Madrid, as well as Paris Saint-Germain.

Ronaldo, who starred for United between 2003 and 2009, would have to take a wage cut in order to make a Manchester reunion a reality.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS claims Madrid are willing to sell Raphael Varane in order to raise transfer funds amid strong links with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and PSG star Kylian Mbappe. Varane has been linked with United and Chelsea.

- Staying at the Santiago Bernabeu, and AS says the future of captain Sergio Ramos looks less likely to be at Madrid. The likes of United and PSG have emerged as possible destinations for the superstar Spain skipper.

Barcelona are prioritising the signing of Lyon captain Memphis Depay, reports RMC Sport. Juventus have also been linked.

Rodrigo De Paul is wanted by Leeds United, Juve, Inter and Napoli, according to Calciomercato. Juve have been eyeing the Udinese star, but the Italian giants are also weighing up moves for United's Paul Pogba and Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli.

Tottenham have to start delivering trophies if they are to keep hold of star Harry Kane amid links with Manchester United and Manchester City, according to Jonathan Woodgate.

Kane, who has said he will assess his future after the delayed Euro 2020 tournament with England, is reportedly ready to quit Tottenham in pursuit of silverware.

The 27-year-old striker is yet to win a trophy with boyhood club Tottenham, who sacked Jose Mourinho on Monday and are set to face City in Sunday's EFL Cup final.

Former Tottenham defender Woodgate – now head coach of Championship outfit Bournemouth – was part of the Spurs team that last won silverware via the 2008 EFL Cup.

Woodgate insisted Tottenham must do more than beat City in the upcoming decider at Wembley to hold on to Kane, who has been linked with both Manchester clubs and Real Madrid.

"They have to [start winning silverware] with the stadium they have built and with the players they have got," said Woodgate.

"They have got the best striker in England in Harry Kane so they need to start winning trophies for him.

"They're a well-run football club but they need to start soon."

Kane reached 20 Premier League goals for a fifth season with the first of his brace against Everton last week, though he was forced off late in the 2-2 draw on Merseyside with an ankle injury.

The England international's two goals at Goodison Park lifted him to 164 for his career in the Premier League, good enough for seventh on the competition's all-time list. Thierry Henry (175) and Frank Lampard (177) are next in his sights, while Alan Shearer sits top on 260.

Kane sat out Spurs' 2-1 home win over Southampton on Wednesday – the first outing with temporary boss Ryan Mason in charge – and it remains unclear if he will recover in time to feature in the City showdown.

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