Carlo Ancelotti said he hoped Kylian Mbappe "enjoys himself" at Real Madrid after Karim Benzema predicted the Paris Saint-Germain star would move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

In an interview with L'Equipe, Benzema claimed it was a matter of time until his international team-mate signs for Los Blancos.

Madrid reportedly saw three bids rejected by PSG for the France star during the transfer window, the last one said to be worth €200million.

Yet with Mbappe's contract expiring at the end of the season and no sign of an extension, the 22-year-old will be free to speak with foreign clubs over a possible free transfer from January onwards.

When asked about Benzema's comments ahead of Madrid's LaLiga clash with Espanyol, Ancelotti replied: "I hope Mbappe enjoys himself because Madrid are the biggest club in the world!"

Madrid's trip to Barcelona comes in the week when they were stunned by Champions League debutants Sheriff 2-1 at home.

Having won five matches in a row, Madrid are now without a victory in their previous two, having been held 0-0 at home by Villarreal in their most recent league match.

Ancelotti has been losing sleep over those recent results but is not concerned by recent criticism of his side or his methods.

 

"The game against Sheriff hurt our pride. We'll react and give everything tomorrow, as we did against Sheriff," Ancelotti said.

"It's true we committed small mistakes, weren't precise enough in finishing, in passing, in their few chances.

"It affected me physically because I don't sleep, and I think about what happened. When you don't win, you don't sleep.

"I accept it [criticism], whether it's fair or unfair, you have to accept it. It's normal. I have a fantastic position, and I'm lucky to be here, and you have to accept that they can criticise you.

"We need to have more balance and really assess what's happening to us. We have struggled for goals in our last two games and we need to address that in our next game. I don't think that it’s a case of this being a tough time, but it is certainly tougher than it was before, but we have to solve it by playing with balance and energy."

This weekend also sees a clash between champions Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, a game Ancelotti plans to watch as he expects both to be their main title rivals this term.

"We're going to fight with those two until the end. Atleti are maybe better coming into it," he said.

"I'm going to watch because they're two big teams, but if we do what we need to do, we're going to fight for titles."

Karim Benzema has no doubt Kylian Mbappe will play for Real Madrid and says he enjoys being part of a team trying to redevelop under Carlo Ancelotti.

Madrid reportedly saw three bids rejected by Paris Saint-Germain for the France star during the transfer window, the last one said to be worth €200million.

Yet with Mbappe's contract expiring at the end of the season and no sign of an extension, the 22-year-old will be free to speak with foreign clubs over a possible free transfer from January onwards.

France team-mate Benzema says it is just a matter of time until Mbappe becomes a Madrid player, telling L'Equipe: "He said it himself. He wants something more. He will play at Real Madrid one day. I don't know when, but he'll come. It's a question of time."

Benzema believes Madrid are going through a transition under head coach Ancelotti, with established stars such as Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane having left while youngsters including Eduardo Camavinga and Vinicius Junior take on greater prominence in the first team.

"Real Madrid are still the best club in the world," he said. "Reconstruction or not, it's a new football, a new generation, new players. We have to invest in the youngsters so they become great players one day.

"I'm here to help them. I speak a lot with them. I want to improve them."

 

It is Benzema, however, who remains the cornerstone of the side. With eight goals and seven assists in just seven LaLiga games in 2021-22, the striker has more than double the direct goal involvements of any other player in the division.

He has also attempted the most shots (26), while only Sergio Canales has created more chances from open play than Benzema (14).

His form in the past year has led to calls for him to win the Ballon d'Or, the award returning this year after being suspended for 2020, with former Madrid star Luis Figo this week backing the 33-year-old for the prize.

While he cannot deny it is on his mind, Benzema says it is important not to become too focused on personal goals at the expense of helping the team.

"We have to think about it when you have ambition, but it doesn't have to be an obsession that makes you focus on yourself, telling yourself you have to shine individually," he said.

"If you have to win it, it's because of who you are, what you show on the pitch, what you do. For Figo to say I'm one of the candidates is important."

Paul Pogba has been the subject of constant speculation over the past 12 months.

Manchester United's French midfielder is into the final year of his contract.

Pogba has been in excellent early season form, with seven assists in the league already.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID MOVE LOOMS FOR POGBA

Real Madrid are Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba's most likely destination at the end of this season, claims El Nacional.

The France international is out of contract at Old Trafford at the end of this season and could leave on a free transfer.

Pogba's agent Mino Raiola is trying to persuade Pogba to join Madrid, despite interest from Paris Saint-Germain.

 

ROUND-UP

Liverpool target Karim Adeyemi is being chased by German pair Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg, reports Sport Bild. RB Leipzig are also monitoring the 19-year-old Salzburg striker.

Marco Asensio appears destined to leave Madrid given his current role, with Sevilla hoping to sign the midfielder, according to El Gol Digital.

– Fichajes reports that Milan are plotting a January move for out-of-favour Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek.

– The Sun claims that Tottenham have revived their interest in West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone as they seek a successor to Hugo Lloris.

Roma head coach Jose Mourinho wants to reunite with Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele by signing him, reports Calciomercato.

– Marca claims that Manchester City are considering tabling an offer to sign Villareal forward Pau Torres .

Paris Saint-Germain continue to plan for Kylian Mbappe's potential departure. 

The Ligue 1 giants have been linked with several possible replacements. 

Robert Lewandowski is the latest rumoured target.

 

TOP STORY – PSG EYE LEWANDOWSKI AS MBAPPE REPLACEMENT

With seemingly everyone expecting Kylian Mbappe to depart Paris Saint-Germain after the season, the club have been linked with several potential attacking options. 

Robert Lewandowski is the latest, with Le10Sport reporting the Bayern Munich and Poland striker could make a lucrative move to PSG. 

The 33-year-old is under contract with Bayern through 2023, though, and could end up agreeing to a new deal to remain in the Bundesliga. 

 

ROUND-UP

Real Madrid are set to take another run at Manchester United's Edinson Cavani during the January transfer window, says El Nacional. 

Andrea Pirlo and River Plate's Marcelo Gallardo are candidates to replace Ronald Koeman if he is sacked by Barcelona in the coming days, the Express reports. 

PSG are eyeing midfield help, with Inter's Nicolo Barella a possibility, according to Calciomercato, along with N'Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Franck Kessie.

Liverpool are interested in Bayer Leverkusen winger Moussa Diaby, according to Calciomercato. 

Timo Werner could look to leave Chelsea if he does not receive more playing time the rest of the season, says the Telegraph.

Arsenal are set for a shake-up after missing out on European football for the first time in 26 years.

Mikel Arteta's side started the new Premier League campaign slowly.

But three wins in a row have offered hope and rumours are swirling about transfer activity.

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL PLOT SWAP FOR EN-NESYRI

Arsenal will offer Alexandre Lacazette as part of a deal to land Youssef En-Nesyri from Sevilla, according to La Razon.

Morocco international forward En-Nesyri has sparked Arsenal's interest after netting 24 goals in all competitions in the 2020-21 season.

Lacazette has only made one league appearance for the Gunners this term and was reportedly shipped around during the off-season.

ROUND-UP

– Fabrizio Romano reports Lorenzo Pellegrini is set to sign a new long-term contract with Roma, which will remove his €30million release clause. Pellegrini was previously pursued by Liverpool and Tottenham.

– Liverpool scouts kept a close eye on Villarreal's Arnaut Danjuma at Wednesday's Champions League game against Manchester United as they plan for Sadio Mane's successor, claims the Daily Mirror.

– Real Madrid midfielder Marco Asensio remains in Arsenal's sights, reports the Daily Star.

Inter are not considering signing Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno, with Ajax's Andre Onana their preferred acquisition, claims Fabrizio Romano.

Real Madrid's salary cap spending limits for the 2021-22 season is seven times greater than financially stricken Barcelona's, LaLiga has announced.

Los Blancos have seen their limit boosted by €270million, with Barca's reduced by €280m.

Carlo Ancelotti's side will be capped at just over €739m, but Barca can spend only €97m – with six clubs able to splash more than them.

Reigning champions Atletico Madrid have also been hit, with their limit reduced by €81m from last term, resulting in Diego Simeone's men allowed to spend €171m for the next campaign – the third-highest ceiling in the division.

LaLiga corporate director Jose Guerra suggested to ESPN that Madrid's limit, which is over €500m more than any other LaLiga team, would have left room for them to secure Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, who they attempted to sign last transfer window.

"They [Real Madrid] would have no problem whatsoever," LaLiga corporate director Jose Guerra said to ESPN. "They were ready for [Kylian] Mbappe or any other player."

LaLiga calculates these figures by considering club's earnings, spendings, overheads, losses and debts to encourage sustainability and financial fair play.

 

Barca caused conflict with the league in August when they, along with Madrid and Athletic Bilbao, refused to sign a deal to sell 10 per cent of its business to CVC Capital Partners and later saw Blaugrana legend Lionel Messi leave for PSG because of the club's perilous financial situation.

Players such as Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba responded by agreeing payment deferrals and salary reductions, but Guerra explained the Catalan club's severe decrease is down to losses of almost €500m last season.

"They acknowledge much higher losses than what they had initially estimated, so the impact is greater on their spending limit," Guerra continued.

"If you take the €97m limit and add the losses, around €480m, we're talking about €570m, which would be more normal. So it's more or less stable."

While Barca expect their cap to increase in the following season due to writing off several assets in last year's accounts, Guerra also warned that this was not guaranteed as LaLiga consider past losses moving forward.

Sevilla have the second largest kitty, capped at €200m, with Villarreal (€159m), Real Sociedad (€127m) and Athletic Bilbao (€111m) making up the top six.

However, Valencia – who won LaLiga in 2003-04 – have the smallest limit, with their spending reduced to just €31m, which is a €71m fall from the previous year.

Toni Kroos is hopeful Real Madrid will finally land Kylian Mbappe next year after a failed attempt to sign the Paris Saint-Germain in the most recent transfer window.

Madrid are reported to have had three bids turned down for the France international in July and August, the last one said to be worth up to €200million.

However, Mbappe is due to become a free agent at the end of the season and can therefore secure a pre-contract agreement with Madrid – or any other foreign club – from the start of January.

Kroos has previously talked up the prospect of his side bringing in Mbappe and remains eager to link up with the 22-year-old in 2022.

"In the summer, I already said that I would like a player like him to come, but if he doesn't, we have a good team," he told Goal.

"Let's see what happens in the future. It is difficult for me to say, because I am not the one who decides. 

"His quality has not changed – he is a good player and what we know is that Madrid wanted to sign him but in the end they didn't succeed. Everything continues, also without Mbappe here.

"I think we are doing well and for the future my opinion has not changed: the best players have to be at Madrid, and he is sure to be one of them."

Mbappe has four goals and five assists in 10 games this term – only international team-mates Karim Benzema and Paul Pogba (both seven) have set up more goals in all competitions among players from Europe's top five leagues.

The PSG star has gone five matches without finding the net himself, however, after failing to add a goal to his assist for Lionel Messi in Tuesday's 2-0 Champions League win over Manchester City.

While PSG were claiming a deserved victory over fellow heavyweights City, Madrid slumped to one of the biggest shocks in the competition's history as they fell 2-1 to Sheriff.

That was just Los Blancos' second defeat in 32 group-stage games at the Santiago Bernabeu, having previously lost to CSKA Moscow in December 2018.

Madrid have otherwise made a positive start to Carlo Ancelotti's second spell in charge, and Kroos, who made his first appearance of the season as a second-half substitute against Sheriff, believes the Italian's methods have changed over time, having been signed during his previous stint.

"Yes, there is a difference, but our relationship still remains very good," he said. 

"I had a good relationship with him in 2014. I haven't played many games so far [this season], so I can't say exactly what has changed because I haven't had many talks with him."

Youri Tielemans has not yet committed his long-term future to Leicester City.

Tielemans is only contracted with the Foxes until the end of the 2022-23 season.

And Leicester may consider selling their FA Cup final hero at the end of this season if they cannot strike a new deal.

 

TOP STORY – SPANISH GIANTS KEEN ON TIELEMANS

Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid are circling for Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans, reports The Athletic.

The 24-year-old Belgium international publicly said he is "keeping his options open" as he negotiates a new Leicester deal.

Barcelona and Madrid would be interested in Tielemans, who has also been linked with Liverpool, should he become available next off-season.

 

ROUND-UP

– Football Insider reports Tottenham are still planning to sell Dele Alli, although they will wait until the end of this season. Spurs are hoping Alli's value will rise throughout the season to land a significant transfer fee.

– Everton are considering moves for Real Madrid pair Isco and Luka Jovic in January on six-month loan deals, according to Defensa Central.

– Liverpool are keeping an eye on Porto's Colombian star Luis Diaz, reports The Independent, with the two sides having met in the Champions League on Tuesday.

– Juventus have joined Chelsea in showing interest in Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, claims the Daily Mail.

– Newcastle attacker Allan Saint-Maximin has interest from Chelsea and Liverpool, according to the Express.

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti bemoaned one of the biggest upsets in Champions League history, the Italian believing his side did not deserve to lose to giant-slaying debutants Sheriff.

Sheriff caused a boilover at the Santiago Bernabeu, where the Champions League debutants and Moldovan visitors won 2-1 on Tuesday.

Jasurbek Yakhshiboev opened the scoring with a powerful header in the first half, before Karim Benzema's emphatic penalty levelled the scores for Madrid.

But Sebastien Thill rifled home a stunning effort from the edge of the box in the 89th minute to hand the Moldovan outfit a dramatic win in Madrid.

Los Blancos had 31 shots, hitting the target with 11, and recorded over 75 per cent possession, while Sheriff took just four shots, but came away with all three points in the Spanish capital.

The result leaves Madrid second in Group D, three points behind Sheriff, who have won their first two games in the competition.

"More than worried, we're sad," Ancelotti said after the game. "We played with intensity and were looking good. We lost because of small details, even though the side played well. We could've been better when it came to the final third but it's tough to explain.

"It's small details that cost us this game. It's a lesson for us in the future as it's a defeat we didn't deserve. We had chances, we were creating out wide and [Luka] Jovic came on and had a couple of opportunities. I think that in the end, everything went well for them and bad for us.

"We've missed out on three points and the group is wide open. We need to win our next game."

Madrid were beaten for just the second time in their last 32 group-stage games in the Champions League when playing at the Santiago Bernabeu (W25 D5) – losing against CSKA Moscow in December 2018 and Sheriff on Tuesday.

Los Blancos star Casemiro lamented the team's defensive lapses and profligacy in front of goal on a humbling night for the LaLiga leaders.

"That's football for you," Casemiro said after the full-time whistle. "One team has more than 20 shots on goal and plays well and the other team that comes here to defend and had two shots go and score twice.

"That's how things go in football and you've got to be more focused defensively. We fully dominated the game and had the chances to have made it 1-0, then 1-1 and they’ve ended up scoring a screamer.

"You've got to win in football, but this year we've already produced some poor performances and won, but that wasn't the case tonight. If you're not clinical, you end up paying the price at the back."

Madrid face Shakhtar Donetsk away from home on October 19 in their next Champions League outing, where they will seek to right the wrongs of their defeat to Sheriff.

Sheriff's win over Real Madrid was a "dream come true" but captain Frank Castaneda warned the Champions League debutants will not dwell on the upset as they target the last 16 amid their giant-slaying run.

In one of the biggest shocks in Champions League history, Sheriff claimed a late 2-1 victory at Spanish giants Madrid on Tuesday.

Jasurbek Yakhshiboev's first-half header was cancelled out by Karim Benzema's spot-kick after the interval in the Spanish capital, given following a VAR check after Vinicius Junior went down in the box.

However, Sheriff had the final say to maintain their 100 per cent record in Group D, Sebastien Thill's thunderous strike in the 89th minute earning the Moldovan visitors a remarkable triumph.

"For us this is a dream come true to have won here," Castaneda said. "We're so happy, and just enjoying it. We have full faith in what we've been doing and things are going well for us.

"We came here to win. We didn't just come here to sit around, we know how good our players are and luckily for us Madrid weren't able to take their chances and we took ours.

"Thill's goal is out of this world. It's one you dream of. I thanked him at the end of the game!

"We are dreaming of getting into the last 16 and that's our objective. Our attention now turns to Inter and we'll work hard in order to ensure we keep getting positive results." 

Sheriff – who beat Albanian champions Tueta Durres, Armenian titleholders Alashkert, Serbian champions Red Star Belgrade, Croatian titleholders Dinamo Zagreb and Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk during their European campaign this term – became the first team to win their first two games in the Champions League since Premier League outfit Leicester City in the 2016-17 campaign.

This was just the third ever away victory by a Moldovan team in a major European competition, following Zimbru Chisinau in the UEFA Cup in 1995 and Sheriff themselves in the UEFA Europa League in 2017.

Sheriff head coach Yuriy Vernydub said: "I'm happy to play a game like that against Madrid. I'm so full of emotion and thankful to my boys for what they've done. They went out there as a side, and we deserved it.

"Of course we knew that we were going to have to defend. We did that well and we countered really well too, and we were able to score a winner right at the end.

"I'm happy and proud of my side, these boys. We're on the right path and we'll continue to follow it."

Sheriff are three points clear of Madrid atop of Group D, while they are five points ahead of Inter and Shakhtar.

"We aren't thinking about the last 16 yet as we still haven't done anything extraordinary, we're just going forward step by step," said Vernydub. "We have four very important games to go, and when it comes to the final group stage game then we'll talk about the next round."

Sheriff match-winner Thill added: "We're so happy today. We played a really good game. The side were so brave with how we played and luckily enough I was able to score a bit of a stunner.

"It's the best and most important goal of my career, that's for sure! We'll go game by game. We've got a tough group, and we'll give our all in what's left of it."

Champions League debutants Sheriff pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the competition's history by stunning Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu with a dramatic 2-1 victory.

Jasurbek Yakhshiboev's first-half header was cancelled out by Karim Benzema's spot-kick after the break, given following a VAR check after Vinicius Jr. went down in the box.

However, it was the visitors who claimed a remarkable win to maintain their 100 per cent record in Group D, Sebastien Thill's stupendous left-footed strike in the 89th minute earning the Moldovan club their most famous win.

Los Blancos subjected the minnows to a 31-shot barrage, with goalkeeper Georgios Athanasiadis forced into 10 saves, but the competition's most successful team were unable to salvage anything from the contest on a fairytale night for Sheriff.

 

 

Raphael Varane is convinced Manchester United have a squad that is set up for success despite some alarming recent results. 

The last fortnight has seen United lose their Champions League opener to Young Boys and crash out of the EFL Cup against West Ham prior to Saturday's shock Premier League defeat at home to Aston Villa. 

Expectations are high for United in 2021-22 after World Cup winner Varane joined from Real Madrid, while long-term target Jadon Sancho came in from Borussia Dortmund and Cristiano Ronaldo made his sensational return from Juventus. 

The pressure is back on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer going into Wednesday's match with Villarreal, but Varane is not overly worried as he sees the ingredients required for success within the club. 

"What I've been able to see is, with my team-mates, there's a lot of quality in our squad," Varane said as he sat alongside Solskjaer at the pre-match news conference. 

"We've got huge potential, I'm convinced of it. 

"We're working really hard, we're working well in training and improving all the time. Since the start of the season I think we're on a positive, upward curve. 

"There is talent, there's experience there as well. We've got everything you need to have that belief that you can do well. 

"I think that's a really key issue - we've got to believe in ourselves, be convinced that we can do it. We have got to be ambitious, believe in our own potential and then I think you can achieve things when you do that. 

"Everything is there in the right place. Each time we go into a game, we go on that track and keep on that road of positivity, think on how we can improve in little details. 

"We are on the right road." 

Varane may have to hold a weakened United defence together when they face Villarreal at Old Trafford. 

Fellow centre-back Harry Maguire is out for a few weeks with a calf injury, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka is suspended and Luke Shaw will be a late fitness check. 

United face a tough test, having failed to win in their five previous meetings with Villarreal, scoring just once in those contests. 

Villarreal are also unbeaten in their last 16 major European games (W12 D4) across the Europa League and Champions League, the longest current run of any side.  

Ahead of the key Group F clash, Varane agreed the pressure of playing for United can be compared with what he experienced during his time at Madrid. 

"Big clubs are always wanting a lot of their players, they expect a lot from the players," he said. 

"There are a lot of demands. It is always hard to make comparisons but I believe that it's fairly similar in terms of the hopes and demands and expectations at big clubs. 

"After a defeat or a draw, you know what it's like, it's always very negative when that happens.  

"The key is to keep up good runs of results and be positive. That pressure you kind of live with it at big clubs - there is always a lot of expectation, for sure." 

Gareth Bale has been ruled out of Wales' crucial World Cup qualifying double-header next month with what boss Rob Page describes as a "significant hamstring tear".

The 32-year-old has not featured for club or country since sustaining the injury during a training session with Real Madrid three weeks ago.

Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti recently said he is unsure how long Bale will be out but there was hope he would be back in time for Wales' trips to the Czech Republic and Estonia.

However, Bale – who is one cap short of a milestone 100 for Wales – was left out of Page's squad on Tuesday and is also a doubt for his side's final three qualifiers in November.

"Hamstring injuries are graded from one to four and this is a four. It's a significant hamstring tear," Page said at a news conference.

"This camp has come too soon for him. He's not going to be involved, and that may also be the case progressing to November's camp."    

Bale started Madrid's opening three games of the season and featured in all three of Wales' matches last month, scoring a hat-trick in the 3-2 win away at Belarus.

That ended a 17-game drought without a goal for the Dragons – his second-longest such run – but he could not find a way through in the goalless draw with Estonia last time out.

Wales are third in Group E after four matches, one point behind next opponents the Czech Republic with a game in hand as the pair fight for second place behind runaway leaders Belgium.

Page's side will head into that clash in Prague without undisputed star player Bale, who has been involved in all five of his side's goals this campaign (three goals and two assists).

"He's been first class for Wales over the years, so of course it's a blow for myself and the supporters," Page said. "But it does give others a chance.

"We can't cry about it. Gareth showed his worth in the last camp and he was at another level.

"We've got new players coming through, and an abundance of players who can fill the position he plays. There aren't many Gareth Bales in the world but others will have a chance." 

 

Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey is back involved for Wales after withdrawing from the last squad through injury.

Ramsey has featured four times in Serie A this term and leads the way for passes per 90 minutes (67.71) and successful passes (61.71) among Juventus midfielders.

He has missed several key fixtures for Wales this campaign, but Page insists the former Arsenal man's commitment cannot be questioned.

"We're confident he'll be with us," Page said.

"I understand the fans' frustration because they want the best players turning up. He can put a shift in and did a full pre-season with Juventus.

"Players like him are prone to picking up injuries. He's managing his body better now and I think we're seeing the best of it.

"He's become more robust and shown over the summer he's more capable of playing games. His training will be adapted but we expect him to play both games."

Bruno Fernandes expressed his delight in working with a proven winner in Raphael Varane as Manchester United look to challenge for trophies this term.

Varane completed a move to United in a deal worth a reported £42.7million (€50m) in August, following a decade at Real Madrid.

The France international boasts a World Cup medal from 2018, along with three LaLiga titles and four Champions League triumphs to his name from his time in the Spanish capital.

Since his debut against Wolves at the end of August, no player has played more Premier League minutes for the Red Devils than Varane (360) and Fernandes hailed the impact the centre-back could have on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

"Of course, he’s a winner," Fernandes told United Review. "Everyone knows that. He’s a nice guy and works really hard and is always pushing everyone to do better.

"I think he has a great mentality but, at the same time, we cannot forget the other players. Rapha [Varane] has been brilliant, but Victor [Lindelof] has had an amazing, brilliant beginning to the season.

"Eric [Bailly] comes later because of the Olympic Games, but he’s a player we trust a lot. 'H' [Harry Maguire] we already know is doing really well."

 

Indeed, Varane led from the front for Madrid last term as well in the absence of Sergio Ramos.

United's new acquisition ranked second for Los Blancos among defenders for duels won (110) and interceptions (36) in LaLiga, while recording 73 aerial successes – more than double the tally of any of his defensive colleagues.

And Fernandes is looking forward for the leadership aspects Varane will bring to United, who currently sit fourth in the top flight after losing to Aston Villa last Saturday.

"Rapha is really important for us, and has been really important for us," he continued. "But the main point is everyone being okay to do the best that they can.

"In football, we all have different qualities, and Rapha has different qualities to Victor, H, Eric and Phil [Jones], but they can all add different things.

"Still he [Varane] is a little bit shy in some ways, because it’s the beginning for him at United, but I think he’s a leader. I think he can help in that part of the game."

Paris Saint-Germain will be out for revenge when they face Manchester City in a blockbuster Champions League clash. 

City reached their first Champions League final last season by beating PSG 4-1 on aggregate last season and they will meet again in a Group A clash at the Parc des Princes. 

PSG were held by Club Brugge in their opening game, while Premier League champions City hammered RB Leipzig 6-3. 

Milan face Atletico Madrid in their first home match in Europe's premier cup competition since 2014. 

Leaders Liverpool travel to Porto in the other Group B game with fond memories of their previous two trips, while Real Madrid entertain Sheriff in the battle between the top two in Group D. 

Here, Stats Perform look at the key Opta data ahead of the games taking place on Tuesday. 

 

Paris Saint-Germain v Manchester City: Messi could face another Guardiola reunion

Lionel Messi, who was linked with City before his sensational move to PSG, has been sidelined be a knee problem and it remains to be seen if he recovers in time for a reunion with his former boss Pep Guardiola.

PSG and City will meet for the sixth time, while the Ligue 1 side still looking for their first win in this fixture (D2 L3). Only against Juventus (8) have they played more games in European competition without winning.

City are unbeaten in 10 away Champions League away games (W8 D2), not losing in the competition outside of England since December 2017 (against Shakhtar Donetsk).

Milan v Atletico Madrid: Rossoneri eyeing happy homecoming

Milan and Atleti's only previous meetings came in the 2013-14 Champions League, with the Rossoneri losing both legs in the round of 16. The clash with the reigning LaLiga champions seven years ago was Milan's last at home in the competition. 

Antoine Griezmann is Atleti's all-time top scorer in the European Cup/Champions League (21 goals), and could also become their outright top scorer in away games if he finds the net in this game (currently on five). 

In the loss at Anfield, Brahim Diaz (22 years 43 days) became the youngest player to score on his Champions League debut for Milan since Yoann Gourcuff in September 2006 (20 years 64 days v AEK Athens). 

Porto v Liverpool: Reds to cut loose again?

This will be the fifth time Liverpool have faced Porto in the Champions League since Jurgen Klopp became the club's manager – they have won more games (3), scored more goals (11) and kept more clean sheets (3) against them than any other opponent in the competition.

Porto have only scored once in those four previous meetings (D1 L3), despite attempting 45 shots. In contrast, Liverpool's 11 goals have come from 54 attempts. 

Sadio Mane has been directly involved in five goals against Porto, scoring four times and providing one assist. Mane's four goals are the joint-most by a Liverpool player against an opponent in the competition, along with Steven Gerrard v Marseille and Philippe Coutinho v Spartak Moscow. 

Real Madrid v Sheriff: Madrid on brink of century

Madrid are one short of becoming the first team to record 100 home victories in the Champions League. Their win percentage of 73 is the highest for any team in the competition's history with at least 10 home games played (99/136). 

Sheriff won 2-0 on their Champions League debut last time out against Shakhtar Donetsk - they are looking to become the first team since Leicester City in 2016-17 to win their first two games in the competition. 

Sheriff's Cristiano scored twice on his Champions League debut against Shakhtar, becoming the first Brazilian to score a brace in his first game in the competition since Chelsea’s Oscar in September 2012 (v Juventus). 

 

Other fixtures:

Ajax v Besiktas

4 - Ajax striker Sebastien Haller scored four goals on his Champions League debut against Sporting CP. If he gets another against Besiktas, he would move clear of a tie with Marco van Basten, Diego Simeone, Didier Drogba and Erling Haaland for the most by a player in their first two appearances in the competition.

2 - Besiktas have conceded at least two goals in each of their previous four games against Ajax (10 in total).

Shakhtar Donetsk v Inter

1 - Shakhtar have only scored one goal in their previous five meetings with Inter and have failed to find the back of the net in the three most recent encounters.

32 - Inter and Shakhtar played out two goalless draws in the Champions League last season despite the Serie A champions attempting 32 shots, with an expected goals total of 3.1 across the two games.

RB Leipzig v Club Brugge

10 - Club Brugge have not won any of their past 10 games against German opponents in European competition (D3 L7).

4 - Christopher Nkunku scored a hat-trick for Leipzig against City, but became just the fourth player in Champions League history to score at least three goals and still end on the losing team. 

Borussia Dortmund v Sporting CP

100 - Dortmund have a 100 per cent win record at home to Portuguese opposition in European competition, winning all six of their previous games by an aggregate score of 17-2.

63 - Erling Haaland has averaged a goal every 63 minutes in home games for Dortmund in the Champions League. His seven goals at Signal Iduna Park is the most of any player at a single stadium in the competition since he joined the club.

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