Tottenham at least temporarily leapfrogged Arsenal into fourth place in the Premier League with a 3-1 victory over Leicester City.

With Arsenal in action at West Ham in the late game on Sunday, Spurs were able to apply pressure to their rivals thanks to their first win in three.

Harry Kane predictably opened the scoring – his 17th goal in 14 Premier League matches against former loan club Leicester – but Son Heung-min stole the show, grabbing a brace.

Tottenham were far more accomplished in the second half than they had been in a shaky opening period, although only the result really matters at this stage of the season with a trip to Liverpool to come next week ahead of a huge north London derby.

The Leicester team showed nine changes from Thursday's 1-1 draw with Roma, yet they enjoyed by far the better of the play prior to Kane's opener, with Patson Daka seeing a low shot from a precise Boubakary Soumare cross touched onto the post by Hugo Lloris.

Brendan Rodgers' side were far too accommodating at the other end, though, when Son swung over a right-wing corner in the 22nd minute and Kane was granted a clear run to head down and past Kasper Schmeichel.

Leicester were similarly generous 11 minutes later, as Nampalys Mendy's underhit backpass set Kane through, forcing Schmeichel to block bravely.

The introduction of Dejan Kulusevski early in the second half then led to the second goal after Cristian Romero won a pair of crunching tackles to tee up the winger, who in turn picked out Son to steer a left-footed finish beyond Schmeichel on the turn.

And Kulusevski and Son combined again for number three, albeit that goal was all about the quality of the scorer, taking a square pass on the edge of the box and curling into the top-left corner.

Kelechi Iheanacho gave Leicester some belated cheer with a fine stoppage-time consolation, fired in off the post from outside the area.

What does it mean? Three precious points in top-four fight

Unlike Europa Conference League semi-finalists Leicester, Tottenham's sole focus is on league points – and goals from Kane and Son delivered three to move Spurs one clear of Arsenal ahead of their trip to West Ham.

After two games without a shot on target, Conte's men mustered seven and netted with three, perhaps profiting from Leicester's ambition, which left gaping holes at the back after the opening goal. It was not an approach that worked for the Foxes in attack either, unable to attempt a single shot between the 39th and 89th minutes.

Kane keeps scoring

Even following an improved second half to the season, Kane's sluggish start in 2021-22 means he is set for his lowest scoring campaign as a Tottenham regular. Among his 13 goals, though, are strikes against Leicester both at home and away.

Only Alan Shearer, with 20 against Leeds United, has scored more Premier League goals against a specific opponent.

Moura misses the mark

Kulusevski dropped to the bench following Tottenham's recent struggles in attack, with Lucas Moura brought in. But that change was reversed after just 55 minutes in which Moura failed to hit the target with either of his two shots and did not create a single chance for his team-mates.

Spurs suddenly posed a greater threat with the introduction of Kulusevski, who finished with a pair of assists. His incredible close control infuriated Luke Thomas, who was booked for hacking down the substitute following one of three completed dribbles from four attempts.

What's next?

It does not get much tougher than Tottenham's next task, away at Liverpool on Saturday. Leicester go to Roma for their semi-final second leg on Thursday, then host Everton three days later.

As the 2021-22 Premier League season enters its final weeks, plenty remains for the taking – not least the thrilling title race between Liverpool and reigning champions Manchester City.

Both teams are in imperious form and, while City lead the way by a single point heading into the weekend, one slip might be all it takes.

Chelsea seem relatively secure in third place, but behind them the battle for the final Champions League spot is raging on. Just two points separate north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham, who meet in a potentially decisive derby in mid-May. 

Manchester United have played two games more than those two sides and look like they will have to settle for sixth, assuming they can fend off West Ham.

At the bottom, Everton are in real danger of losing their Premier League status for the first time but will hold out hope in their dogfight against Burnley and Leeds United, though Watford and Norwich City appear destined for the drop.

But just how will it all unfold? Well, using the Stats Perform League Prediction Model, we can try and forecast the final standings.

Created by Stats Perform AI using Opta data, the model has analysed the division to assign percentages to potential outcomes for each club.

The model estimates the probability of each match outcome (win, draw or loss) based on teams' attacking and defensive qualities, which considers four years' worth of results, with weighting based on recency and the quality of opposition. The rest of the matches are then simulated 10,000 times to calculate the likelihood of each outcome.

Let's take a look...

PEP PIPS KLOPP TO THE POST... AGAIN

City won the Premier League title by a margin of just one point in the 2018-19 campaign. The gap has been much wider over the past two seasons, with Liverpool triumphing in 2020 and City winning last year.

But just like in 2019, the model suggests Liverpool will fall just short once again, with City predicted to stay on top. It gives Pep Guardiola's team a 66 per cent chance of winning their fourth title in five seasons, with the Reds given a 34 per cent chance.

Neither side are predicted to drop out of the top two – that seems a safe bet. Liverpool have a tough trip to in-form Newcastle United on Saturday, while City face Leeds United.

Newcastle will then have the chance to have another say in the title race when they visit City on May 8, with trips to Wolves and West Ham coming for the leaders before they round off their domestic season against Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa. 

Liverpool, who also face Villa along with Spurs, Southampton and Wolves, will be wanting a favour from their club great on the last day of the season if they are to prove the model wrong.

GUNNERS CLINCH CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PLACE

Chelsea, according to the model, have a 98.7 chance of staying in third place, and are certain to be playing in UEFA's elite competition next season.

Below them, it is predicted that Arsenal will just nip into the top four rather than Spurs. Mikel Arteta's team have a 75.2 per cent chance of qualifying for the Champions League, and just 24.8 of finishing in a Europa League place.

While Stats Perform AI only gives Arsenal a minuscule opportunity of taking third off Chelsea, they have a 73.9 per cent chance of securing fourth place and featuring in the Champions League for the first time since 2016-17.

It seems likely that much will be decided on May 12, when Spurs welcome Arsenal to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Antonio Conte's team are predicted to finish fifth (72.4 per cent), and only have a 24.7 per cent likelihood of clinching fourth.

United are forecast to finish sixth (65 per cent), albeit there is the possibility they could even end 2021-22 in seventh. That position, however, seems set to be filled by West Ham, who have to win against Eintracht Frankfurt next week to keep their hopes of a Europa League triumph alive – success in that competition would take them into the Champions League, regardless of where they finish domestically.

TOFFEES CHAMPIONSHIP-BOUND

It has been a dismal season for Everton, who head into Sunday's clash with Frank Lampard's former club Chelsea sitting in the bottom three for the first time since 2019 (when, ironically, they beat a Chelsea side managed by Lampard).

Lampard has taken 10 points from his 12 games in charge, and they are now predicted to finish in 18th place. The model gives them a 29.8 per cent chance of escaping the drop and finishing 17th and just a 17.4 per cent likelihood of coming 16th. Their run-in includes three away games, and Everton have the worst away record in the competition – 12 of their 19 defeats coming on the road and they have taken just six points on their travels all season.

Burnley sit two points clear of Everton in 17th after two successive victories and are given a 39.4 per cent chance of staying put, although the likelihood of the Clarets' finishing 18th is not dissimilar (36.5 per cent).

Leeds have tough fixtures against City, Arsenal and Chelsea coming up before they host Brighton and Hove Albion and visit Brentford, though Stats Perform AI gives them only a 12.9 per cent chance of relegation.

Watford are heavily predicted to stay put in 19th too, with Norwich given a 67.4 per cent probability of finishing bottom – the model reckons they have a 0.1 per cent chance of avoiding the drop.

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte said supporters should ignore "fake news" after he was touted as a possible successor to Paris Saint-German coach Mauricio Pochettino.

Although PSG secured their 10th Ligue 1 title last week, rumours have circulated that former Spurs boss Pochettino could be relieved of his duties in the French capital after an underwhelming Champions League campaign, with Conte suggested as a potential successor. 

With Conte winning five league titles throughout his career (four in Serie A, one in the Premier League) and overseeing a dramatic revival of Spurs' fortunes since his November appointment, reports have suggested he could be tempted to swap North London for Paris at the end of the season. 

However, ahead of Tottenham's Premier League clash with Leicester on Sunday, Conte hit out at people who "invent" such rumours, calling on his team to ignore any possible distractions as they bid for a top-four finish.

"Obviously I think it's good that other clubs appreciate my work, but this is one thing. The truth is I don't like when people try to invent news, only to speak, only to create problems," Conte said in a news conference.

"This is not right, this is not fair for the clubs involved or for my players, also because I feel we're really focused on these five games and getting results.

"This type of situation makes me smile, but I think that the people that want to say something about this have to show respect for all the people involved in the situation, and not invent fake news and tell a lot of lies.

"In this moment, we need to be focused, we need to be concentrated on an important target. We have a big opportunity to try and get a place in the Champions League.

"Now, don't listen to fake news. People for sure want to create problems for the environment. We have five games and then at the end of the season, in a private way, I will speak with my club and I will see the best solution."

Sunday's match will represent Conte's 100th as a Premier League manager – he will become the fourth boss to reach the milestone this season, with each of the previous three losing on their landmark outing (Ralph Hasenhuttl, Graham Potter, and Dean Smith).

However, each of the previous three Italian managers to reach the milestone – Claudio Ranieri, Roberto Mancini, and Carlo Ancelotti – have won when bringing up their century in the competition.

Spurs are rivalling Arsenal for Champions League qualification as the end of the campaign approaches, and Conte has called on his players to relish the top-four battle, saying they "deserve" to be in with a chance of facing Europe's elite.

"We are working very hard, my players know very well that we are really focused, we are speaking a lot about this opportunity," he added. "We have to live this situation with passion, enthusiasm and joy.

"We deserve to fight for a place in the Champions League. To stay there, we need to enjoy this situation. Our fans have to stay close to us in every moment, in every negative moment."

Tottenham have gone without a win in two Premier League matches, drawing 0-0 with Brentford last time out after falling to a 1-0 home defeat against Brighton and Hove Albion. Prior to those two outings, Spurs had plundered 25 goals in their previous seven Premier League games.

Tottenham have announced that midfielder Oliver Skipp has undergone surgery on his groin and will play no further part in their Premier League top-four battle this season.

The 21-year-old featured regularly for Spurs prior to sustaining an injury in January that has kept him out of action ever since.

Skipp's form saw him tipped with a first senior England cap and rewarded with a new long-term deal by Tottenham last week that runs through until July 2027.

Antonio Conte recently revealed that the youngster was "very close" to returning to action, but his comeback has been delayed after it was decided he required an operation.

Spurs confirmed the news of their official website on Tuesday, adding that Skipp is expected to be back training for the pre-season period.

Skipp's most recent appearance for Tottenham came in the 2-0 loss to Chelsea on January 23, with that his 18th Premier League outing of the campaign.

Up to that point, only Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Eric Dier, Harry Kane and Lucas Moura (all 19) had featured more regularly in the competition among Spurs' outfield players.

The England Under-21 international's 90 per cent pass accuracy is the highest of any Tottenham player to have played more than once in the top flight this campaign.

Conte's side are two points behind fourth-placed Arsenal, who they still have to face, with five league games left to play.

Paris Saint-Germain secured a record-equalling 10th Ligue 1 title with a 1-1 draw at home to Lens on Saturday, but that may not be enough to keep Mauricio Pochettino in a job.

The Argentine may not be heading for Old Trafford after Manchester United confirmed the appointment of Erik ten Hag last week, but he could still be going out the exit door after a demoralising campaign.

With PSG crashing out of the Champions League in calamitous fashion to Real Madrid in March, reports have suggested Pochettino could be replaced by the boss of his former club Tottenham, Antonio Conte.

With Conte overseeing an improvement in Spurs' fortunes since taking the job and possessing experience of managing big egos at former clubs Juventus, Chelsea, and Inter, could the Italian be the man to get the best out of the star-studded Parisians?

Here, Stats Perform uses Opta-powered data to compare the managerial duo.

Pochettino in Paris: Domestic dominance remains, but so does European fragility 

Many saw the decision to appoint Pochettino as prudent after he made 70 appearances in a two-year playing spell in Paris, before his relationship with compatriot Lionel Messi aided the legendary forward's arrival.

It has not, however, been plain sailing for the former Tottenham boss. PSG beat Monaco to lift the Coupe de France last May but missed out on the league title to surprise package Lille last season.

Lille led PSG by a point when Pochettino arrived and pipped the Parisians to the title by that margin as Pochettino became just the second PSG boss (after Unai Emery) to fail to win the Ligue 1 title since 2012.

While PSG rebounded to win the league in dominant fashion this term, moving level with Saint-Etienne as the most successful club in Ligue 1 history, their 34 matches required to secure the title is the most they have needed since 2014-15, when they wrapped up top spot on matchday 37.

The team's reliance on Kylian Mbappe, who has contributed to 36 of the team's 76 league goals this term (22 goals, 14 assists), could also prove a huge issue next term with the 22-year-old heavily linked with a move to Madrid at the end of his contract in June.

Although the star trio of Messi, Neymar, and Mbappe have recorded 37 goals and 32 assists in the league between them this term, they could not inspire Champions League success.

If Pochettino is to depart, March's humiliating 3-2 aggregate loss to a Karim Benzema-inspired Madrid will be remembered as the decisive moment of his time in Paris.

Having beaten the Spanish giants 1-0 at home, PSG have now been eliminated in four of their nine Champions League knockout ties when winning the first leg.

Fixing their fragility on the big occasions will be their foremost aim ahead of next season, which is why the appointment of a manager with one of Europe's most impressive track records has been speculated.

The case for Conte: Title wins and handling big names

Having won five league titles (four in Serie A, one in the Premier League), Conte is always mentioned when a vacancy at an elite European club comes around.

With current club Tottenham battling to ensure Champions League qualification for next season, however, could Conte be tempted to follow in Pochettino's footsteps if he departs PSG?

Conte has overseen a dramatic improvement since taking the Spurs job; before falling to a 1-0 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion and drawing 0-0 with Brentford, Spurs had plundered 25 goals in their previous seven league games, having scored just nine in 10 league matches under predecessor Nuno Espirito Santo earlier this season.

Star duo Harry Kane and Son Heung-min have also been rejuvenated by Conte's arrival, breaking Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba's record of 36 direct Premier League goal combinations in February.

Conte's previous role at Italian giants Inter, however, might prove more relevant to what he could expect at PSG: the Italian excelled under huge expectations to deliver their first Scudetto in over a decade last season, ending a nine-year period of Juventus dominance he began by leading the Bianconeri to an unbeaten season in 2011-12.

Like Kane and Son, Romelu Lukaku – who recorded 24 goals and 11 assists in Serie A last season – profited from a direct style that saw Inter net a remarkable 89 league goals in their title-winning campaign, and has struggled to replicate that form since following Conte out of San Siro.

As well as his title wins, Conte's work with Lukaku, Kane, Son, and other big names certainly suggests he could have what it takes to manage the sizeable egos of PSG's attacking stars if he makes the move.

However, with Conte failing to progress beyond the Champions League last-eight in his career, the Italian would need to improve his European record in order to satisfy the ambitions of continental glory.

Harry Kane insists Tottenham must win their five remaining Premier League games to qualify for the Champions League.

Antonio Conte's Spurs are embroiled in a fight for fourth with rivals Arsenal, who are two points ahead after defeating Manchester United 3-1 before Tottenham were held by Brentford later on Saturday.

That capped a damaging two-game spell for Conte's side, after losing to Brighton and Hove Albion at home last week.

Spurs also failed to register a single shot on target across the games against Brighton and Brentford, having previously scored in 14 consecutive halves of Premier League football.

The north London pair meet in a rearranged fixture in the penultimate week of the season, which could decide who finishes fourth, and Kane urged Tottenham to collect maximum points from their final five games.

Spurs face Leicester City and Liverpool before concluding their campaign against Burnley and Norwich City after the meeting with Mikel Arteta's Gunners on May 12.

"To only get one point from those two games [Brighton and Brentford] is disappointing," Kane told Standard Sport. "We're running out of games in terms of dropping points.

"There are five games left and we feel like we are pretty much going to have to win all of them to get that spot. We are more than capable of doing that, we believe in that and that is what we'll try and do.

"Is it still in our hands? Yeah. If we win the last five games we will be in the Champions League, so that is how we've got to look at it."

Kane – who is set to lead England at the World Cup later this year – also acknowledged the difficult task of facing quadruple-chasing Liverpool at Anfield, while Burnley are fighting relegation, although Norwich will likely be consigned to the Championship by the final day.

"We know those five games will be difficult, we go to Liverpool away as well which will be very tough," he added.

"As we've seen this season, we have dropped points against teams where we were probably expected to win and so have the others around us. It is by all means not done yet.

"We have to stay focused and keep working hard. We have a little gap now to prepare and work and hopefully, we can put in a good performance against Leicester [on Sunday].

"It has been a long season and we've definitely had ups and downs this season. I think we've done great to put ourselves in this position we're in now but it is about who can finish it off.

"That is the most important thing in football. Hopefully, it is us, we will work as hard as we can to make sure it is us and get that Champions League spot."

Tottenham stuttered to a 0-0 draw at Brentford on Saturday, handing bitter rivals Arsenal the advantage in the race for fourth in the Premier League.

Arsenal defeated Manchester United 3-1 earlier in the day to open a three-point lead over Antonio Conte's men, and Spurs' inability to follow suit prevented them going ahead of the Gunners on goal difference.

Spurs offered little attacking threat during a first half that Brentford enjoyed the better of, with their set-piece prowess causing the visitors problems and bringing about a great chance as Ivan Toney hit the woodwork.

The contest was more open in general after the interval but still the best opportunities fell the way of Brentford, who again hit the frame of the goal through Toney and only failed to clinch a deserved victory due to lacking the finishing touch.

Thomas Frank's side looked fired up from the off and nearly took an early lead when Vitaly Janelt robbed Ryan Sessegnon before teeing up Bryan Mbeumo, whose shot was deflected agonisingly wide.

It was from corners where Brentford posed a more consistent threat, however, with Toney's runs to the back post a regular nuisance.

But their best opportunity arrived when Toney waited centrally for a corner delivery, rising highest and heading against the crossbar.

A brief Spurs improvement after half-time did not amount to much as Brentford were soon in the ascendancy again, Christian Eriksen seeing a 20-yard effort deflect just wide.

From the resulting corner, Pontus Jansson had a header cleared off the line and Eriksen – facing his former club for the first time since returning to the Premier League – was denied by Hugo Lloris.

Spurs had another fortunate escape right at the end, as Toney crashed a header against the upright.

Christian Eriksen says he is "enjoying the moment" at Brentford, but refused to commit to his next steps ahead of a reunion with former club Tottenham on Saturday.

The Denmark international will face his old club for the first time since he linked up with the Bees in January, a move which came seven months after his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.

The playmaker has defied expectations to make a full return to football after his collapse in Copenhagen last summer, and has been at the heart of Brentford's revival since arriving. 

He will reunite with Spurs for the first time since he left for Inter in 2020 this weekend, as well as with former Nerazzurri boss Antonio Conte.

Those close links have fuelled speculation he could return to his former North London home at the conclusion of the season, but for now, Eriksen is focused on enjoying his time with the Bees.

"When I signed here in January, it was actually [about] coming back and showing I was a football player and could play football," he told Sky Sports ahead of the Bees' clash with Spurs.

"There was also the six months of a test trial. By now, it feels good. But for the future, I don't know.

"I'm just enjoying the moment, every game is really fun to play in. What happens in the summer will be a decision for me as a footballer and as a family man.

"Everything is open. I've been taken good care of at Brentford, they've really shown me a lot of love and [I'm] trying to repay them for what they've showed me.

"Every option is open, either at Brentford or anywhere else."

Spurs captain Hugo Lloris, meanwhile, says his side are looking forward to seeing their old team-mate, who helped them to the 2019 Champions League Final during his time with the club.

"After what happened to him, it's always nice to see an ex-team-mate but even more, a player who was special for the club," he told Tottenham's official website.

"He spent more than six years at the club and he had a great time, we had a great time as team-mates.

"Then after what happened last summer… for most of us, it's going to be the first time that we’ve seen him.

"Obviously the most important thing for us right now is the game and the three points. We will have time after the game to enjoy the moment with him."

Christian Eriksen joining another club at the end of season would be "what it is" according to Brentford boss Thomas Frank, amid reports the Denmark star may re-sign with Tottenham.

Attacking midfielder Eriksen penned a short-term contract with the Bees in January, just seven months after suffering a cardiac arrest representing his country at Euro 2020.

Eriksen was available as a free agent after his Inter contract was cancelled because rules in Serie A prevent players fitted with a heart-starting device playing in the competition.

The 30-year-old has impressed under Frank, leading to rumours he may reunite with Antonio Conte – his coach at Inter – and re-join Spurs, who he departed to move to Italy in January 2020.

Eriksen will come up against his former boss when the teams meet in the Premier League this weekend, and Conte admitted in an interview with Sky Sports he would enjoy working with him again.

"For sure, to work again with Christian is a fantastic opportunity," Conte said.

"I enjoyed the time we spent together in Inter Milan, despite the first time he didn't play regularly with me.

"But then when I understood what I wanted about him then he played. We won together a title, the league in Italy.

"When you have this type of player, a great player, a good man, I think every manager, every coach, likes to work with them."

Frank understands Conte's desire to be reunited with Eriksen, though retains hope he may opt to remain with Brentford.

"Obviously he would enjoy to work with him and Christian is a fantastic player, but I know that I will answer this question from now until the end of the season and hopefully we end up signing him," Frank told a pre-match news conference.

"But if he ends up at another club, it is what it is. I want to focus on now and trying to prepare the team and Christian for the game and hopefully we can make him flourish tomorrow and perform well and beat Tottenham.

"I think we went into this with open eyes and this is the outcome we hoped for, that he performs fantastic and that we perform well and the other hope is that he performs after the summer."

Frank also acknowledged Eriksen is excited to face a team whom he helped reach the Champions League final in the 2018-19 season.

"I think he just literally looks forward to playing Tottenham. He has a lot of old team-mates, a lot of staff members he worked closely together with for seven years of his life," Frank added.

"This is where he went from being a very talented footballer at Ajax to be a world-class midfielder, and one of the best midfielders in the Premier League.

"I know one thing, he is looking forward to it but he will do his best to try and beat them, of course he wants to compete."

Manchester United are preparing for a complete overhaul of the playing group in the upcoming transfer window as incoming manager Erik ten Hag begins to build things his way.

Ten Hag, who is arriving from Ajax, has reportedly already seen enough of a number of regular contributors at United, and they will make way for players he believes can get the club back to their former glory.

Forward, midfielders and defenders are all on the chopping block, with very few positions expected to be safe heading into 2022-23.

 

TOP STORY – TEN HAG TO SWING THE AXE AT UNITED

The Sun is reporting United "could sell" Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Alex Telles at the next opportunity.

Meanwhile, Sky Sports claims United's needs include a new centre-back, two central midfielders, a winger and a striker in what could shape up as a complete rebuild.

One player who will reportedly get a chance to prove his worth at Old Trafford once he returns from loan is Donny van de Beek, who played for Ten Hag at Ajax.

West Ham's Declan Rice is also high on the Dutchman's wishlist, per The Guardian, while the Telegraph claims Benfica striker Darwin Nunez is a key target.

 

ROUND-UP

– Sky Sports Germany is reporting RB Leipzig have no interest in parting ways with Christopher Nkunku next season, despite interest from United and Arsenal.

– According to Goal, Milan are keen to sign Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, who spent two seasons at Inter before rejoining Chelsea this season.

Real Madrid are monitoring Newcastle United midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, per AS.

Manchester City and Newcastle United are both interested in 18-year-old Rangers academy midfielder Alex Lowry, according to Football Insider.

– Todofichajes reports that Christian Eriksen has agreed to return to Tottenham when his contract with Brentford expires at the end of this season.

Tic tac, tic tac, as it goes in the Spanish media. Real Madrid's courting of Kylian Mbappe has long avoided subtlety and discretion, but he remains their primary target.

The Paris Saint-Germain attacker has just about become the world's best footballer in the meantime, contributing an extraordinary 33 goals and 18 assists in 41 appearances across all competitions this term.

A move to the Spanish capital at the end of the season remains a possibility, and reports suggest Real Madrid will go all out to make it happen.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE REMAINS MADRID'S PRIMARY TARGET

Real Madrid are confident they will sign Kylian Mbappe amid the increasing likelihood of Erling Haaland joining Manchester City, according to the Daily Mail.

With the end of the season and the subsequent expiration of the 23-year-old's contract nearing, Madrid and Mbappe have yet to sign a pre-contractual agreement as a means of not disrespecting PSG.

While the club are playing the waiting game, they remain confident for the sole fact a new deal with PSG has not yet been signed and confirmed.

Mbappe has reportedly remained the club's first preference despite interest in Haaland, who appears set to join Manchester City.

ROUND-UP

 Anthony Martial appears set to return to Manchester United with Sevilla not interested in making his loan deal permanent, claims Fabrizio Romano.

Dejan Kulusevski will join Tottenham from Juventus on a permanent basis despite another season left on his 18-month loan, reports the Evening Standard.

– According to Tuttosport, Spurs director of football Fabio Paratici has also identified Torino defensive pair Gleison Bremer and Wilfried Singo as potential targets.

Real Madrid are also keen on signing Jude Bellingham but Borussia Dortmund are intent on keeping the 18-year-old and are prepared to increase his standing at the club, Bild is reporting.

Tottenham midfielder Oliver Skipp has signed a new contract to run until 2027, the club have announced.

The 21-year-old has enjoyed a breakthrough season, making 24 appearances in all competitions, 18 of them starts, as Antonio Conte's men challenge for a top-four finish in the Premier League.

The midfielder is currently recovering from injury, however, with his last league appearance coming in a 2-0 defeat at Chelsea on January 23.

Skipp, who made his first-team debut in 2018 after coming through the club's youth system, has now committed his future to the club for the next five years.

"We are delighted to announce that Oliver Skipp has signed a new contract with the club that will run until 2027," read a statement on the club's website.

"Making his competitive first team debut in a Carabao Cup win over West Ham in October, 2018, the academy graduate has gone on to make 52 appearances for us, whilst enjoying a successful loan spell at Norwich City last season, where he featured in 45 of their 46 league games and was named in the PFA Championship Team of the Season."

Skipp said he was delighted to have extended his stay at his boyhood club, and was anxious to return from his injury as soon as possible.

"I'm delighted to sign this new deal, it's something that I'm very grateful for. It means a lot when you've grown up at the club, my whole family supports this club," he told the club's official media channels.

"It means a lot when you step out in front of that crowd. I've missed that feeling, obviously, in the last few months, and I'm pushing to feel that again.

"It's been a really frustrating one for me, it's just about being patient, it's something that happens in a footballing career, and I just want to make sure that when I'm back, I'm right."

Skipp's team-mates are looking to strengthen their hopes of Champions League qualification when they face Brentford on Saturday, having seen a run of four consecutive league wins halted by a 1-0 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion last time out.

New investment at Milan could see the Italian powerhouse target the best players across Europe's top clubs.

Milan have entered into exclusive talks with Bahrain-based asset manager Investcorp over a takeover.

The Rossoneri have been linked with Real Madrid's Marco Asensio and Isco and Liverpool's Divock Origi already.

TOP STORY – STERLING ON MILAN WISH LIST

Milan are monitoring Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

The England international is among a list of players that Milan would like to sign amid a reported lucrative takeover by a Bahrain-based organisation.

Sterling's current contract with City expires in 2023, but the Daily Mail claims he would turn down the Italian move.

 

ROUND-UP

 Christian Eriksen is gaining interest from former employers Tottenham after a good run of form, although his agent is set to meet with Brentford at the end of this season to formalise his future, claims Fabrizio Romano.

– Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel and goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga will hold talks at the end of this season to discuss his future having struggled for opportunities, reports Football.London.

– Jose Mourinho's Roma will open talks with Nemanja Matic's representatives as the Serbian midfielder prepares to leave Manchester United, reports Nicolo Schira.

– Manchester Evening News claims Manchester United have revived their interest in Villarreal defender Pau Torres.

Emma Raducanu has revealed the responsibility for her new-found affinity for Tottenham lies predominantly with her Spurs-obsessed support team.

Social media has been abuzz on Monday with photos and videos of the 19-year-old US Open champion training in a Tottenham jersey ahead of the Stuttgart Open.

The shirt even had her name and the number 10 emblazoned across the back, suggesting a particularly strong connection with the north London club. But it is not quite as it seems.

Raducanu, who was born in Toronto but raised in south-east London, said she has been heavily influenced by those close to her – although the presence of star duo Harry Kane and Son Heung-min was also a consideration.

"My whole team basically are big Spurs fans and I feel like they're egging me on," Raducanu told reporters.

"They're desperately trying to get me behind them! I don't necessarily follow football much, but I feel like now, because of them, I'm feeling some sort of connection.

"I loved following the Euros last year and watching Harry Kane, who's obviously the England captain, and Son, I'm a big fan of him as well. So yeah, I like to dabble."

Raducanu is seeded eighth for her first-ever tournament on clay this week and will begin her campaign against Storm Sanders on Wednesday.

While Raducanu's immediate aim is undoubtedly building momentum, she sees this tournament as a chance to make a statement on a surface she believes will be her strongest in the long term.

"It's going to be an exciting clay season," she added. "I'm not sure how it is going to go. I keep telling everyone around me that one day clay is going to be my surface and I still believe that.

"I think game-wise on clay, especially when you're playing outside, you definitely need to be a lot more patient and build the point.

"You can't just hit a big shot, whereas on a hard court, you might be able to get a weak shot straight away. You really need to build the point a lot more, which takes a lot more energy and physical demand.

"You just have to be more crafty, I think, and I think it's a good lesson, especially for someone younger like me, to develop more skills. 

"I'm looking forward to spending more time on the clay as the years go by because I do like sliding and moving on it, and it's just about again being able to repeat over and over."

There were two first-round matches played in Stuttgart on Monday, with Liudmila Samsonova claiming a double bagel when beating Chloe Paquet 6-0 6-0, while Ekaterina Alexandrova defeated Shuai Zhang 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (8-6).

The joined actions of some of the most powerful figures in modern football unwittingly created an ever mightier alliance on April 18, 2021.

The announcement of a new European Super League united Manchester, with fans and players of United and City joining those invested in the fortunes of Liverpool and the three London giants of Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham in opposition.

Although the reaction in Italy and Spain may not have been quite as damning, the protests that followed over the course of an extraordinary few days were enough to derail the plans.

A year on, Stats Perform looks back on one of the most controversial proposals in the sport's history and where it stands now.

What is/was the European Super League?

The past week has shown exactly what makes the Champions League great, whether Villarreal's upset of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid withstanding Chelsea's fightback, a thriller between Liverpool and Benfica in a tie widely considered over or the blood and thunder of Manchester City's defeat of Atletico Madrid.

But Arsenal and Tottenham did not qualify for the Champions League this season, while Barcelona and Milan failed to make it beyond the group stage.

In another season, another superpower – the clubs whose names and riches have made the Champions League what it is – might miss out on these great games.

That was the fear of a dozen leading sides, anyway. Barca had a prominent role, along with Real Madrid and Juventus, as the European Super League was launched.

The competition was to be backed by United States-based investment bank JP Morgan and managed by the owners of the founding clubs, who would be guaranteed entry to the competition.

Three clubs were hoped to join the initial 12, followed by five others qualifying each year to form a 20-team tournament, which would be split into two 10-team leagues prior to a knockout stage.

The idea was for the Super League to replace the lucrative Champions League, rather than domestic leagues – hence its inception on the eve of Champions League reforms. The interested parties even claimed the money raised would benefit "the wider football pyramid".

But the reception was widely critical, while there were notable absentees in the form of Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, the previous campaign's Champions League finalists.

PSG had spent too much time – and, of course, money – establishing themselves among European football's elite to risk it all in the breakaway.

Meanwhile, Bayern, like most German clubs, are partly fan-owned. And it would soon become clear football fans in general were not enthused by the prospect of seeing Europe's best teams slog it out in a closed-shop tournament.

Then what?

The 12 clubs must have imagined some sort of response, but what followed appeared to stun those involved.

Their own players and coaches announced opposition, with many frustrated these plans had provided such a distraction at a key stage in the season. Notably, Jurgen Klopp fumed when Leeds United, Liverpool's next opponents, told the six-time European champions to "earn it" if they wanted to play in the Champions League.

The rest of football appeared united against those who had sought to cut loose, as former Manchester United captain Gary Neville called for the Old Trafford club to be relegated along with Liverpool and Arsenal.

Unsurprisingly, UEFA, FIFA and even the UK government railed against the Super League, too.

But most importantly, the fans – particularly in England – made clear they would not stand for this apparent betrayal of the sport and its roots.

Chelsea were the first team to back out of the European Super League while Petr Cech attempted to negotiate with furious supporters blocking the team's entrance to Stamford Bridge prior to a drab goalless draw against Brighton and Hove Albion.

With protests following at stadiums up and down the country, the Premier League clubs soon quit the breakaway competition, and they were joined by Inter, Milan and Atletico Madrid, as the Super League was declared dead mere hours after its birth.

Football had won, it was widely acknowledged.

And they all lived happily ever after?

Well, not quite. Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus have continued to pursue the European Super League, their owners refusing to relent.

The huge debts racked up during the coronavirus pandemic contributed to their desperation to land this lucrative deal, with Barca since forced to let club legend Lionel Messi leave on a free transfer due to their inability to afford a new contract for the 34-year-old.

Those who backed out of the controversial plans have at least returned to the European Club Association, in which PSG were huge beneficiaries of their reluctance to follow their elite rivals. Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the PSG president, now leads the ECA in a role that previously belonged to Juve chief Andrea Agnelli.

But even Barca, Madrid and Juve have been able to continue playing in UEFA competitions – those they have qualified for, anyway. Madrid have made the Champions League semi-finals as they bid for a record-extending 14th European crown.

And sceptics could be forgiven for wondering if the new Champions League format sounds a little 'European Super Leaguey'.

As of 2024-25, the group stages will be no more, replaced by – yes – a league. And although the competition is increasing in size to 36 teams, two of the additional four slots are reserved for clubs who have the highest UEFA coefficients but have qualified only for one of the organisation's lesser competitions.

Barca, who toiled in the early stages of this season, or Juve, facing a fight for a top-four finish in Serie A, would have to slump significantly not to be assured of a seat at the time.

The Super League is dead... but long live the Super League?

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