Cristiano Ronaldo will still be at Manchester United next season "as far as I know", says outgoing interim manager Ralf Rangnick.

Big changes are anticipated at Old Trafford in the offseason as new boss Erik ten Hag replaces Rangnick, who is taking on a dual role as United consultant and Austria coach.

Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata and Edinson Cavani all made their final home appearances as United players in Monday's 3-0 defeat of Brentford.

And there has also been widespread speculation around Ronaldo and how he will fare under Ten Hag – or whether he could even move on a year after his return to the club.

But Ronaldo has scored 18 goals in just 29 Premier League games this season, and Rangnick does not foresee United's number seven leaving.

Speaking to Stadium Astro after the Brentford game, Rangnick said of Ronaldo's response to the crowd at full-time: "I don't think why it should be a wave of goodbye.

"He has another year of contract, and as far as I know, he will be here next season again."

Meanwhile, Ronaldo posted on his Instagram page: "Once again, great support from the stands.

"Let's take this opportunity of our last game of the season at Old Trafford to thank our amazing supporters, who endured a difficult season by our side and never abandoned us.

"Thanks, guys. Your support means the world to us and our goal is to become better everyday, so that we can achieve what we all want: glory for Man. United!"

Along with veterans Matic, Mata and Cavani, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard are set to depart United, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been linked with a return to Crystal Palace.

Thomas Frank believes Brentford have a "very good chance" of keeping midfielder Christian Eriksen.

Former Tottenham playmaker Eriksen resumed his career by making a sensational return to the Premier League in January, joining the Bees on a deal until the end of the season.

It is only last June that the 30-year-old suffered a cardiac arrest during Denmark's Euro 2020 game against Finland and was brought back to life on the pitch.

Eriksen was released by Inter, as he would have been unable to play in Italy after having a cardioverter defibrillator fitted.

Inter's loss has been very much Brentford's gain, as the former Ajax midfield maestro has pulled the strings for the London club and also scored two goals in as many games against Serbia and the Netherlands back on the international stage.

Eriksen has been linked with a return to Spurs, while other clubs are reportedly keen to sign him as a free agent at the end of the season, but Brentford boss Frank is hopeful he will sign a new deal with the Bees.

When asked about keeping his compatriot, Frank told BBC Sport: "I am always positive. I always believe we have a very good chance.

"I know he is happy here, he is enjoying his football. It is a decision that will be taken at the end of the season."

He added on Sky Sports: "The key is he performs consistently at a high level ... It's no secret we would like to do everything we can to keep him."

Brentford have won five of the eight league games Eriksen has featured in, while he has provided two assists and scored a goal himself. The Dane has created 16 chances, with 11 of those coming from set-pieces.

Borussia Dortmund have confirmed they have reached an agreement to sign Germany international centre-back Nico Schlotterbeck from fellow Bundesliga side Freiburg.

The 22-year-old has featured 53 times for Freiburg in all competitions, including 35 outings this campaign, and will remain with the club until the end of the 2021-22 season.

Schlotterbeck, who had a spell on loan with Union Berlin last season, has signed a long-term deal with Dortmund that runs through until July 2027.

He is the second new defensive addition for BVB ahead of the transfer window officially opening, with Niklas Sule also set to join from rivals Bayern Munich.

Dortmund confirmed the imminent arrival of Schlotterbeck, who has featured twice for Germany at senior level, on their official website on Monday.

"After consultation with all parties involved, I have today decided to announce my move to Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2022," Schlotterbeck said. 

"In doing so, I want to provide clarity for SC Freiburg, Borussia Dortmund and myself personally.

"It is important for me to be able to fully concentrate on the remaining three games in the season run-in with SC Freiburg, which we hope will be successful. 

"After that, I'm looking forward to the new responsibilities with Borussia Dortmund."

Freiburg occupy the final Champions League qualification spot in the Bundesliga with two games to go and also face RB Leipzig in the DFB-Pokal final on May 21.

Memphis Depay is determined to be a key player for Barcelona for "several more years" despite speculation over his future.

The Netherlands forward was signed by Ronald Koeman on a two-year deal as a free agent last June after his Lyon contract expired.

Depay is Barca's leading scorer in his first season at Camp Nou with 12 goals in all competitions, but has only started two LaLiga games since the turn of the year, with Xavi bringing Ferran Torres and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to the club in January.

The 28-year-old has been hampered by injuries, but found the back of the net with a clinical finish in a 2-1 win over Real Mallorca on Sunday.

With Ansu Fati back from injury and the Blaugrana expected to strengthen ahead of the 2022-23 campaign, Depay's future has been called into question, but he is eager to stay put.

The former Manchester United attacker told ESPN: "I came here wanting to play for the team. I want to be important for the team next year and several more years,"

He added: "It's normal that I have a lot of competition at Barca. I play for the best club in the world."

Head coach Xavi also suggested Depay has a part to play beyond this season.

"Memphis trains very well and that's why he plays. We want this type of player, with this attitude," he said after Sunday's win.

"Surely I've been unfair to him, but if he performs like this he has to play."

Valencia have denied reports that Carlos Soler is set to join LaLiga rivals Barcelona.

It was claimed in the Spanish media on Monday that Soler, who is under contract until June 2023, will make the move to Barca for a fee of €20million.

Valencia reacted by tweeting "don't lie" and revealed they are in talks with the midfielder over a new deal.

A club statement said: "In response to a story published this Monday in Spanish newspaper Diario AS, Valencia CF deny the existence of any agreement – or any ongoing negotiation – with FC Barcelona for the transfer of Carlos Soler.

 

"The club are currently in an open negotiation process with the player and his agents to extend his contract with Valencia CF."

Soler has scored 12 goals and provided five assists for Valencia this season. Seven of the 25-year-old's strikes have come from the penalty spot.

Talk of Soler moving to Camp Nou comes amid speculation over the future of Frenkie de Jong, who has been linked with Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich.

Real Madrid have reportedly made Chelsea's Reece James their primary transfer target ahead of next season.

Despite his time on the pitch being limited by injuries, the 22-year-old right-back has been a potent force going forwards this season, contributing five goals and six assists in 22 Premier League fixtures.

While Chelsea will likely do all they can to hold on to their homegrown England international, Madrid have had plenty of opportunities to scout the man top of their wish-list as he played all 210 minutes across their two Champions League legs, with the second going to extra-time.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID MAKE JAMES A PRIORITY

Todofichajes is reporting Los Blancos have identified right-back as a position of weakness, spelling bad news for incumbent Dani Carvajal.

Madrid, who won LaLiga on Saturday, are said to have assessed other options at the position, such as Sporting CP's Pedro Porro, but ultimately landed on James after getting an up-close look at him in the Champions League.

James still has three years remaining on his contract, and 90min is reporting a revamped new deal is one of Chelsea's top priorities once the sale of the club is complete. He is expected to fetch a transfer fee of at least €60million.

ROUND-UP

- Arsenal defender Gabriel Magalhaes is a target for Juventus in the upcoming window, according to TEAMtalk.

- The Daily Mail is reporting Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans would prefer a move to Spain if he leaves the club, with Madrid said to have a strong interest.

- According to Birmingham Live, Manchester United sent a senior scout to watch Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Juve are interested in bringing Chelsea midfielder Jorginho back to Italy before his contract expires, per Todofichajes.

- Fabrizio Romano is reporting Chelsea left-back Marcos Alonso is keen to return to Spain, and Barcelona have made contact. 

- Romano also claims that Chelsea are still eager to sign Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde. The France defender has an €80m release clause.

Arsenal cannot replicate the meteoric rise of Liverpool due to financial restraints and the Premier League becoming more competitive, says Mikel Arteta.

Jurgen Klopp signed a new deal to keep him at Anfield until 2026 on Thursday, signalling an intent to extend Liverpool's dominance that has them hunting an unprecedented quadruple.

Liverpool are profiting from a transformation in the club's fortunes, underpinned by astute signings and the development of players into world class stars.

The Gunners, meanwhile, are fighting for fourth in the Premier League – a competition they have not won since 2003-04 – with their last trophy being the 2019-20 FA Cup.

While manager Arteta respects the route Liverpool took to return to a force to be reckoned with, the Spaniard believes Arsenal must forge their own path.

"There are things you can try to compare, and you can acknowledge how other clubs have been through these processes and these phases of a project, like Liverpool," he told Sky Sports.

"But what the league was six years ago and what the league is today is completely different. Those leagues were won with 83, 84, 86 points. Now you need 95, 96 or 100 points to win the league.

"The context is completely different, so what was good three or five years ago is not good anymore, because the standards are so high.

"We need to focus on what we want to do and how we are going to execute it, and not look too far ahead."

Arsenal visit West Ham on Sunday as they look to build on their two-point advantage over fifth-placed Tottenham, who they face in the penultimate week of the season in what could decide Champions League qualification.

Once this season is complete, Arsenal face a crucial transfer window in order to become more competitive, with Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus reportedly a top target.

Arteta reiterated that Arsenal cannot duplicate the success of Liverpool's signings, given the club's financial restraints.

"I don't think we are in a position where we can do that, so we have to find other ways to do it," he added when asked in reference to Klopp signing both Alisson and Virgil van Dijk for record fees at the time.

"Liverpool, as well, have improved their players immensely, which is as important as bringing players in. And then, the ones that you buy, [it's important] that they can have an impact straight away.

"That's a big decision they have to make in recruitment, and then they are human beings as well. They have to adapt, and sometimes that's a tricky question to answer before they are actually here.

"We want to make the squad stronger, we want to make the starting XI stronger, we want to make the specificity and the personality of our players stronger, and that's what we are going to be seeking to do.

"It will depend on many factors. How many players are back from their loans, with the commitments we still have with them, our financial position in relation to where we finish; the clubs' demands when we want to buy players or sell players.

"There are a lot of question marks there, but this is football. We've been through a lot in the last two seasons and we are going to try to manage it in the best possible way.

"The good thing is that the plan is clear, but the plan is just the plan until you start to work through that plan. Then, every decision and every situation is going to allow you – or not allow you – to be as close as possible to that plan, which is our aim."

New Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has Benfica striker Darwin Nunez at the top of his shopping list in the upcoming transfer window.

The Uruguayan striker is in the midst of a breakout season in both Portugal and Europe, scoring 25 goals in 24 Primeira Liga fixtures, and a Benfica-record six Champions League goals in 10 appearances.

Darwin finished his Champions League campaign by scoring a goal in three consecutive games, including in back-to-back fixtures against Liverpool.

 

TOP STORY – RED DEVILS MAKE DARWIN NUMBER-ONE TARGET

Fichajes and Calcio In Pillole reporter Ekrem Konur claims United have made Darwin their priority target, stating he is "at the top of Erik ten Hag's short transfer list" and they are "considering paying" his release clause.

ESPN has also said United are "leading the chase" for the striker though they face competition from Arsenal, and reported along with The Sun that the 22-year-old's release clause is in the region of €150million.

As well as Darwin, Napoli's Victor Osimhen and Juventus' Paulo Dybala, who will be a free agent, are also serious targets management would like to bring to Old Trafford.

ROUND-UP

– Marca is reporting that Barcelona will turn to Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku as their "plan C" after failing to land Erling Haaland or Robert Lewandowski.

– According to The Express, Arsenal are willing to listen to offers of £25m for Nicolas Pepe after signing him for a club-record £72m in 2019. West Ham are said to be one of the Premier League teams interested.

– Fabrizio Romano reports that Manchester City are focused on extending Phil Foden's contract until 2027.

– Leeds United midfielder and England international Kalvin Phillips will change his agent as he looks to secure a move away from the club, with the Manchester Evening News reporting that United will be in the box seat.

– Todofichajes is claiming that Arsenal have agreed a £50m deal for City striker Gabriel Jesus.

Mauricio Pochettino denied guaranteeing in a news conference that he and Kylian Mbappe will still be at Paris Saint-Germain next season. 

In a meeting with the media on Thursday to preview the game against Strasbourg, Pochettino replied "100 per cent in both cases" when asked what the probability of himself and Mbappe remaining at the club next season was. 

Mbappe will be out of contract at the end of the season and has been heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid, while Pochettino is under pressure following protests from supporters despite clinching the Ligue 1 title last week. 

The Argentine moved to clarify his comments ahead of Friday's meeting with Strasbourg. He insisted the pair are simply committed to the club as things stand, with the final decision ultimately out of their hands. 

"I didn't say that. This is not the message I gave," he told Amazon Prime. 

"I answered about today, not for the next season. You have to listen to the question and the answer properly and don't get headlines or misunderstand my message. 

"The question was, 'What is the percentage that you believe today you're going to be here next season?' I said, 'Today, it's 100 per cent for Kylian and myself.' 

"People talk too much about my answers. The media need to take a few minutes to listen to the question and the answer, it's really important. Don't miss things, because you can misunderstand the message. 

"Today, 100 per cent. Today, myself and Kylian have 100 per cent commitment to the club and then in the future we will see, because the decision is always in a different part. But of course, I spoke about today." 

The uncertainty surrounding the ownership of Chelsea is hampering the Blues' planning in the transfer market, says head coach Thomas Tuchel.

Chelsea were allowed to continue operating despite restrictions on owner Roman Abramovich, who put the club up for sale after being sanctioned by the UK government following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

However, the Blues are banned from signing new players or agreeing contract extensions with existing members of their squad as per the restrictions imposed.

Antonio Rudiger has already confirmed his intention to leave, with Real Madrid the favourites to sign the centre-back when his contract expires.

Meanwhile, fellow defender Andreas Christensen is reportedly to join Barcelona after the conclusion of his deal in June 2023, placing strain on Tuchel's squad before the upcoming season has even started.

It is not just the outgoings that are frustrating Chelsea, the Blues are falling behind in incomings with the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City moving for forwards Gabriel Jesus and Erling Haaland respectively.

Tuchel expressed his commitment but acknowledged Chelsea are already playing catch-up as they wait for the final bidder to be confirmed, and then cleared by the Premier League and government.

"[In a normal season], you are never fully sure but we would have some targets and we would have for sure contacted some players and found out about their situations," he said on Wednesday.

"Of course, now our hands are tied. We can still have talks inside the building but we cannot act. The situation is not ideal.

"It would be challenging enough with a stable situation but we don't have it. Everybody is doing it for the first time, we try to show our commitment and our passion for it.

"This is for me very important to give this message: I am committed, I am looking forward and I am passionate about it. As soon as we can act, we will try to act and turn things around.

"You could see we could not compete over the long run, we could compete in periods, we can compete in direct matches.

"I was so happy with the structure and mentality that Chelsea provides because for me that was the foundation to strongly believe we are capable and we will keep on pushing.

"With this now questioned, it is getting more demanding, not difficult because I don't know what's coming – but the thing for me is that we keep the mentality here in the building, the competitive mentality which was installed over a decade.

"This is a bit concerning and hopefully we can find our way through it."

Chelsea visit Manchester United on Thursday with third place in the Premier League all but secure, though they sit 15 points behind leaders Manchester City, who have played a game more.

Tuchel appreciates a sizeable rebuilding task will be required to compete with City and Liverpool next season, a challenge made more difficult due to the ongoing uncertainty.

Asked what was required to go head-to-head with City and Liverpool in the following campaign, Tuchel responded: "Cosmetic surgery! I would be less concerned if we had the same ownership and could rely on our structure.

"This is also a question. We are aware of the danger that the situation is maybe a bit more complex.

"And it can be complex enough if we lose a player like Toni and maybe lose another player like Andreas, their kind of quality and both of them free, that is demanding enough nowadays, to lose this kind of quality in a back three, lose two key players for free.

"It can be demanding enough even if everything else stays in place. So with this in question it can be a very demanding summer.

"I don't know if surgery is the right term for it but still I just want to be positive about it and speak to the things we can influence."

Bruno Guimaraes gambled on a move to Newcastle United despite interest from Juventus as he "couldn't wait" in a World Cup year, his agent says.

Midfielder Guimaraes is set to play for Brazil at Qatar 2022, having scored one goal and assisted three more in just 173 minutes across six qualifying matches.

The 24-year-old maintained that form despite requiring time to settle in England following a £35million (€42.1m) January move from Lyon.

Guimaraes was linked with Juventus and Arsenal among other top sides but instead joined Premier League strugglers Newcastle and had to wait until his sixth appearance for the club to be named in the starting XI.

It is a transfer that looks to have worked out for both Guimaraes and Newcastle, though, as he has subsequently scored four goals and assisted another to lead the Magpies into the top half of the table.

Since his first Premier League start, only three players – Cristiano Ronaldo (seven), Son Heung-min (six) and Gabriel Jesus (five) – have found the net on as many occasions.

Yet Guimaraes is just as comfortable engaging in the more combative side of the game, ranking second over that period for tackles (26), duels (123) and duels won (67).

Rival clubs may wonder how the breakout Selecao star ended up in a relegation battle, but agent Alexis Malavolta explained only Newcastle were willing to strike a deal in January.

In an interview with TuttoJuve.com, Malavolta said: "There was some contact with Juventus, I can confirm that.

"[But] January is a quick window to enter into negotiations, so we couldn't go too long. We had to wait halfway through the month to see some concrete movements.

"Newcastle arrived, and they were serious. Bruno couldn't wait another six months to decide his future in a World Cup year."

Malavolta added Juve were "already interested" in 2020, with Guimaraes part of the Lyon team to eliminate them from the Champions League, but the French club asked at the time for €70m.

Instead, Guimaraes is plotting his future with Newcastle, who spent 150 days in the relegation zone this season but are now up to ninth.

In 2022, only Liverpool have earned more points (38) than Eddie Howe's side (32), encouraging optimism for a potential European push next term.

"His goal was clear from the start: to help the team get out of the relegation zone and take them to the Champions League next season," Guimaraes' agent said.

"And why not try to win the Premier League?

"He has already made it clear in his interviews that he went to Newcastle to be a legend like Alan Shearer. He wants to leave his name in the history of the club.

Thomas Tuchel knows "life will go on" at Chelsea after Antonio Rudiger and remains confident he can make the Blues competitive regardless of their transfer business this year.

Chelsea's activity in the upcoming window remains uncertain after the club were sanctioned due to Russian Roman Abramovich's ownership.

Rudiger has told Chelsea he will be leaving at the end of the season, with the defender one of a group of players out of contract while the Stamford Bridge outfit are unable to offer them new terms.

In a World Cup year, Tuchel is unable to offer any real certainty to his team as they consider their futures.

But the coach is backing himself to continue to deliver results even if Chelsea begin 2022-23 with a very different line-up.

"Yes, it's my job," he said ahead of Thursday's game against Manchester United.

"No matter how the situation will be solved and when it will be solved and how things will be settled and how active we can be in the transfer market, at the end, we will dig in and try to squeeze out everything from the squad we have.

"I know I will again fall in love with the squad I have then and try to push the squad to the limit.

"It was a pleasure every single day with Toni, but I'm a bit concerned we talk too much in the past about it; we have not reached all our goals for this season, so there are still things to achieve.

"[These are] big things and he is still a big part of this squad, and we demand still 100 per cent of him.

"This is where the focus is. Then, from pre-season next season, life will go on, if we like it or not, if we are happy about it or not. We will give our very best and I will be fully involved with all my heart and all my knowledge."

This was also perhaps a message for the Chelsea players who will be left behind, with Tuchel acknowledging they were unhappy to learn of Rudiger's exit.

"I don't think that anybody likes it, because Toni is a huge factor in our last one and a half seasons together," he said.

"He gives everybody confidence in the dressing room. He is a unique character, an aggressive leader. He is available like 90 per cent of the matches.

"He plays on an outstanding level and gives you confidence if you play next to him. He takes the focus away towards him, he takes responsibility, loves responsibility.

"I don't think that anybody likes this decision. We have to accept it, and we will accept it.

"Like it or not, there will be life at Chelsea after Toni. For now, for him and for us, the most important thing is that it ends like it started and like it was for the one and a half years, on the highest level possible."

Erik ten Hag appears as though he will have a huge say over his own Manchester United transfer targets.

The Dutchman has inked a three-year deal at Old Trafford, with the option for a further year.

Ten Hag will officially take over on July 1, with Ralf Rangnick remaining in interim charge.

A face familiar to the Premier League could now be headed to Old Trafford with Ten Hag from Ajax…


TOP STORY - TEN HAG TO BRING HALLER TO UNITED

Manchester United may make a move for Ajax striker Sebastien Haller in the off-season according to The Sun.

Haller currently plays under ten Hag, who will take over at United at the end of the campaign.

The Ivory Coast striker, who spent two years with West Ham United, has netted 33 goals in all competitions for Ajax this term.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are optimistic that they can land Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski in the off-season, reports Sport. Lewandowski is contracted with Bayern until 2023.

- Liverpool have contacted 22-year-old Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni about a move to England, claims Foot Mercato.

- Nicolo Schira claims that Inter are not interested in signing Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic, contrary to reports. Pjanic is currently on loan at Besiktas from Barcelona.

- David de Gea and Manchester United are ready to enter into talks on a contract extension reports 90min.

- Fabrizio Romano claims that Luka Modric will ink a new deal with Real Madrid running until 2023.

Carlo Ancelotti appeared to feign ignorance when asked about reports that Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger is set to sign for Real Madrid. 

Thomas Tuchel revealed at the weekend that Rudiger had informed him of his desire to leave Stamford Bridge when his contract expires at the end of the season. 

The Germany international will reportedly finalise a deal to join Madrid this week. 

Asked about Rudiger by beIN SPORTS after Madrid's 4-3 Champions League semi-final defeat to Manchester City on Tuesday, Ancelotti replied with a smile: "Toni? Who is this? 

"He's a Chelsea player until... He's still a Chelsea player and I cannot say anything about this." 

Ancelotti highlighted Madrid's defending as a key factor in their loss to City. 

Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus found the back of the net inside 11 minutes at the Etihad Stadium – the earliest Madrid have conceded twice in a single Champions League game. 

Karim Benzema pulled one back on his 600th appearance for the club and Vinicius Junior found the back of the net after Phil Foden nodded in a cross from Fernandinho in the second half. 

Bernardo Silva restored City's two-goal cushion before Benzema gave Madrid a sliver of additional hope with an audacious Panenka following a handball in the box by Aymeric Laporte. 

"You cannot cover a position with four defenders, You have to help with a midfielder," said Ancelotti. 

"There were losses in individual duels, so we have to be more attentive. With the ball, we had opportunities. We suffered a bit without it, though. But we have to have confidence. 

"We came out of the first leg with a result that isn't good, because we've conceded four goals and not defended well. 

"We hurt City with the ball, but what we have to do is defend better. The result can change in the second leg. They're a very strong team – they showed it tonight – but we competed. Defending better is the key to reaching the final." 

Madrid will be crowned LaLiga champions if they get a point at Espanyol on Saturday, but Ancelotti has no intention of denying the players a chance to celebrate ahead of Wednesday's return game against City at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

"If we are able to win the league, of course we'll celebrate. And it will help us for Wednesday's game," he added. 

Jorginho says Antonio Rudiger will be a big loss for Chelsea as Real Madrid reportedly close in on a deal for the centre-back.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel revealed following Sunday's late win over West Ham that Rudiger intends to leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Tuchel suggested that Rudiger's decision was influenced by the financial restrictions imposed on Chelsea while a new owner to succeed Roman Abramovich is being sought.

According to widespread reports on Tuesday, Madrid have had no such problem agreeing terms with Rudiger and an announcement is expected to be made imminently.

The Germany international has spent five seasons at Stamford Bridge and Jorginho admits his team-mate's absence will be felt both on the pitch and off it.

"He's been here a long time so if he leaves then we're going to miss him," he told Sky Sports News. "He's a big personality and he's helped us a lot. 

"We've had amazing times here; he's a good friend of mine and of course if he leaves everyone at the club will miss him, not just me."

Asked what he will miss the most about Rudiger, Jorginho said: "His craziness. He makes me laugh a lot; all of his jokes and laughs we've had together – that's the nice part."

Rudiger has started 47 games this season, which is five more than any other Chelsea player, with Jorginho sixth on that list (42 appearances).

 

Indeed, no player from a club in Europe's top five leagues has started more matches in 2021-22 when taking all competitions into account.

Rudiger played no part in Chelsea's victory over West Ham last time out, however, a game in which Jorginho missed a penalty before Christian Pulisic snatched a late victory.

Jorginho was criticised for his spot-kick style after sending his effort straight at goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, but the midfielder suggested VAR was partly to blame for the miss.

"This sort of pressure, especially in games like this when you need to win and it's last minute, you try to isolate your mind from all that pressure even though it's hard," he said. 

"Then you have the VAR so it takes longer, it's harder to keep focus. 

"What you need to do and what I try to do is I try to isolate my mind of all this pressure, and unfortunately this time it didn't work."

Prior to his penalty miss against West Ham, Jorginho had converted each of his last 13 for Chelsea (excluding shoot-outs) in a run stretching back to Boxing Day 2020.

"When you have that little moment of doubt that's usually when you make the mistake," the Italy international added. "Maybe I had too much time to think about it, I don't know.

"This time it went like that and I'm sorry. I feel bad because it's not a nice feeling."

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