Tottenham boss Antonio Conte believes his former side Chelsea are "more ready" to win trophies than his current employers.

Conte returned to London in early November and remains unbeaten in a club-record eight league games since his arrival, pushing Spurs up to sixth and just two points behind fourth-placed Arsenal while still boasting two games in hand.

The former Inter head coach also oversaw a 2-1 EFL Cup quarter-final win over West Ham, teeing up a double-header with Thomas Tuchel's side for a place in the final at Wembley.

Spurs have progressed from six of their last eight EFL Cup semi-final ties, failing only in 2006-07 against Arsenal and 2018-19 versus Chelsea, but Conte believes his former club are better prepared for success currently.

"I think that for everyone it's always very important to win trophies – for the club, for the players, for the managers," Conte told reporters at Monday's pre-match news conference. 

"On one hand, I have to tell you this. On the other, I think you have to build to win trophies. You can win trophies by speaking and saying you want to win. But then you have to be good and build something ready to win.

"I think at this moment, Chelsea is more ready than us to win. They won last season the Champions League. 

"I think we have a lot of space for improvement, to be a team with an aspiration to win. Then for sure, we'll do everything to reach the final of this trophy.

"But I repeat: to use this verb or word 'to win' is more simple than winning because to win you have to build something important, be solid, have an important squad. Then you're ready to win."

 

Conte enjoyed a fruitful spell in charge of Chelsea, leading the Blues to the 2016-17 Premier League title in his first season at the helm before triumphing in the FA Cup the following season.

He then joined Inter, where he again won another league title as he ended the Nerazzurri's 10-year wait for the Scudetto, before returning to England to manage Spurs.

After numerous successes across varying countries and with numerous teams, Conte feels he has nothing to prove as he prepares to return to Stamford Bridge in the first leg of the semi-final on Wednesday.

"I have to thank Chelsea because they gave me the possibility to work in England and have my first experiences in England," he added. "Now, for sure, I'm the manager of Tottenham and I want to give this club 100 per cent and more to try to improve the team. 

"It'll be good and for sure I'll have emotion to come back to Stamford Bridge. We did a really good job and I think in my position I mustn't prove anything to anyone. 

"I'm a manager that has experience and continues to have experience in my career and do important jobs at other teams."

January 1 2022 is a date Real Madrid and Kylian Mbappe have been anticipating for some time.

Los Blancos were the subject of two failed bids for the Paris Saint-Germain superstar in the previous transfer window.

But the new year sees Mbappe enter the final six months of his contract at the Parc des Princes meaning he is free to talk to clubs outside of France.

And it seems Madrid are more confident that ever of landing their top target.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID HAVE 'TOTAL OPTIMISM' ON MBAPPE

The future of Mbappe has dominated the rumour mill for months and Spanish publication Marca claims there is "total optimism" among the Madrid hierarchy they will land their man.

One complication is the fact the two teams are set to meet in a Champions League last-16 grudge match, with any announcement unlikely to happen before that tie.

But come July 1 there is growing expectation Mbappe will be a Madrid player, with the signing of Lionel Messi and potential future arrival of Zinedine Zidane as head coach seemingly not enough to convince him to remain in the French capital.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea's need for defensive reinforcements may be exacerbated by the fact Andreas Christensen has no intention of signing a new contract. Spanish paper Sport says the Dane, who is out of contract at the end of the season, is close to joining Barcelona.

- Speaking of Barcelona, AS reports the future of Memphis Depay is shrouded in doubt. With Ferran Torres having arrived from Manchester City and Alvaro Morata a top target, Depay may be set for a close-season exit after a solitary campaign at Camp Nou.

- Manchester United could be about to get one over old boss Jose Mourinho by landing Boubacar Kamara. The Daily Mirror reports the Red Devils are attempting to beat Roma to the signing of the Marseille midfielder.

- Roma have also been in the hunt for Arsenal midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles, but they apparently face competition from Everton according to the Liverpool Echo.

- Over on the Red side of Merseyside, Italian agency ANSA is reporting Liverpool are about to pip Arsenal and Tottenham to the signing of Milan midfielder Franck Kessie.

- The Athletic suggested the Gunners are also likely to have more frustration. Arsenal have been linked with a move for Lille forward Jonathan David but will apparently have to wait until the end of the campaign to land their man.

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

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

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

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

 

Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)

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

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

Anthony Martial (Manchester United)

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

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

 

Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)

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

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

Paul Pogba (Manchester United)

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

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

Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

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

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

 

Marcelo Brozovic (Inter)

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

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

Luka Modric (Real Madrid)

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

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

 

Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)

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

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

Denis Zakaria (Borussia Monchengladbach)

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

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

Paulo Dybala (Juventus)

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

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

Leeds United winger Raphinha is drawing plenty of attention.

The Brazilian debuted for his country in October and has scored two goals in five caps.

Raphinha joined Leeds from Rennes on a four-year deal in 2020.

And, having seen his career hit new heights since that move, he does not appear to be desperate for another switch.

TOP STORY - RAPHINHA NOT PUSHING FOR LEEDS EXIT

Brazil international Raphinha will not push for a January move away from Leeds United according to the Mirror.

Raphinha has been linked with moves to both Liverpool and Bayern Munich during the January transfer window.

The 25-year-old's agent has spoken about his ambition, but he is content at Leeds who are battling relegation.

 

ROUND-UP

Inter are angling to sign Germany international Matthias Ginter as a free agent in the middle of next year claims Fabrizio Romano. Ginter confirmed on Tuesday he would leave Borussia Monchengladbach when his contract expires at the end of this season.

- Gerard Moreno reports that Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta has reached an in-principle agreement to join Barcelona in the close-season.

Sevilla are considering a bid to sign Barcelona defender Mika Marmol, according to Diario Sport.

Everton want to land Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley on loan in January, says The Telegraph.

- Sky Sport Italia claims MLS club Toronto are in advanced talks with Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne and Torino striker Andrea Belotti.

Newcastle United are set to flex their financial muscles during the January transfer window.

The Magpies are struggling in the Premier League drop zone even after claiming a 1-1 draw with Manchester United.

But following a change of ownership they have funds available to bolster their squad.
 

TOP STORY - MAGPIES KEEN ON BARCELONA'S UMTITI

Cashed-up Newcastle are considering a move for Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti according to The Sun.

The 2018 World Cup winner has fallen out of favour at Barcelona, who are looking to offload players due to their financial issues.

Eddie Howe's side have conceded a league-high 42 goals and want to shore up their backline to aid their case to avoid relegation.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bayern Munich have ramped up their bid to sign Leeds United's Raphinha, claims The Sun. Leeds remain hopeful of keeping the Brazil international.

- Chelsea have also entered the race to sign Raphinha according to the Express, who also claim they will allow Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech to depart.

- Tottenham are leading the way to secure the signature of Milan midfielder Franck Kessie with the two parties in advanced talks, reports the Express.

- Ex-Liverpool forward Philippe Coutinho's preferred new home is Arsenal,  with Barcelona keen to offload the Brazil international according to Sport.

- Milan, Napoli and Fiorentina are all on high alert with Torino's Italy international striker Andrea Belotti set to exit the club when his contract expires at season's end, reports Calciomercato.

Antonio Rudiger could be on his way to Real Madrid at the end of the season.

With his Chelsea contract due to expire, Rudiger may have his choice of elite clubs.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel called for "a bit of patience" earlier this month, with the Premier League giants keen to retain the German defender.

TOP STORY – REAL STARS READY TO WELCOME RUDIGER

The Santiago Bernabeu increasingly looks the likely next destination for Rudiger, according to the Telegraph.

The newspaper says Madrid's players are expecting Rudiger to arrive in the close season and bolster Carlo Ancelotti's defence.

That would be a big blow to Chelsea, should the centre-back move on, given Rudiger has started more games this season (23) than any other Blues defender.

He has a decent tackle success rate of 66.67 per cent, has won 50 out of 68 aerial battles, and has weighed in with two goals from his position on the left side of a back three.

 

ROUND-UP

- Brazilian giants Corinthians have previously been said to fancy Edinson Cavani, whose Manchester United contract runs to the end of this campaign. If they cannot secure him, with Barcelona also said to be keen, UOL Esporte reports Corinthians could turn their focus to Cavani's Uruguayan compatriot Luis Suarez, now at Atletico Madrid.

- Bayern Munich could launch a shock move for Leeds United's Brazilian star Raphinha in January, reports TNT Sports. The Brazilian broadcaster says a €50million deal could be in the offing, with Raphinha reportedly targeted as a replacement for Kingsley Coman.

- In Serie A, fourth-placed Atalanta are said to be close to landing a long-term target. Sky Sport Italia reports they are poised to announce the signing of Sassuolo's Ivory Coast winger Jeremie Boga, who began his professional career at Chelsea.

Chelsea's Hakim Ziyech is on Milan's transfer wish list.

The winger was a shock omission from Morocco's squad for the Africa Cup of Nations.

He has impressed for the Blues but could be prised away by the San Siro outfit.

 

TOP STORY – MILAN EYEING CHELSEA'S ZIYECH

Milan are keen to lure Ziyech to Serie A, according to Calciomercato.

Ziyech has played 18 times in all competitions this season – the 10th most appearances of any Chelsea player – with 13 of those being starts, but the Italian club sense an opportunity to make him their own.

The 28-year-old has been directly involved in seven goals – three goals and four assists – a tally that is bettered by only Jorginho (8), Mason Mount and Reece James (both 11).

Meanwhile, Ziyech's 0.6 big chances created per 90 minutes is the most of any Chelsea player this term, followed by Ruben Loftus-Cheek (0.56) and Ross Barkley (0.45).

ROUND-UP

- Relegation-threatened Newcastle United will have a transfer war chest at their disposal in January and have Jesse Lingard, Kieran Trippier and Sven Botman in their sights, reports Sky Sports.

- Yusuf Demir is on the lookout for a new club after being told that he will not play for Barcelona again, according to Marca. The club do not wish to activate his 10-game purchase clause.

- Manchester United are interested in signing River Plate forward Julian Alvarez as interim boss Ralf Rangnick looks to make his mark, says the Manchester Evening News.

- It is not likely that Sevilla can afford to bring in Manchester United's Anthony Martial, the Athletic has reported.

Matthijs de Ligt's future at Juventus is unclear following comments from his agent Mino Raiola.

The Netherlands international has been with the Bianconeri since July 2019 but could be set to move on.

Juventus are off the pace in the Serie A title race this season and Raiola said his client was "ready for a new step".

 

TOP STORY – BARCA CONSIDER DE LIGT MOVE

Barcelona are considering making a move for Juventus defender De Ligt, reports Gerard Romero.

The Blaugrana would need to offload the salaries of Samuel Umtiti and Philippe Coutinho to enable the transfer.

De Ligt has been linked with a switch away from Juventus, with Chelsea also interested.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tottenham and Manchester United will rival Newcastle United in pursuit of Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier, claims 90min. Trippier is keen to return to England after two and a half years in Spain.

- Real Madrid are interested in Lille forward Jonathan David at the end of this season, claims Marca. Arsenal and West Ham are also monitoring the Canadian.

- Gerard Romero is reporting that Bayern Munich are considering a move for Barcelona's USA international full-back Sergino Dest.

- ESPN claims Arsenal are ready to listen to offers for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after he was stripped of the Gunners captaincy last week.

Antonio Conte is looking forward to taking on former club Chelsea in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup but accepts he faces a big challenge in winning silverware with Tottenham.

Spurs battled to a 2-1 win over West Ham in Wednesday's quarter-final and will now face fellow London side Chelsea over two legs in early 2022.

Conte's men are through to the last four of the competition for a 17th time, a tally bettered only by Liverpool (18), who will take on Arsenal in the other semi-final tie.

It means a reunion with Chelsea for Conte three and a half years after ending a two-season stay at Stamford Bridge, during which time he won the Premier League and FA Cup.

But while his side are potentially just 180 minutes from a shot at redemption after last season's final defeat to Manchester City, Conte knows there is plenty of work to be done.

"It will be nice to play against Chelsea," Conte said. "I spent two amazing seasons there but now I'm the manager for Tottenham and I'm ready to give everything for this club. 

"But in England to lift a trophy is very, very difficult. We find Chelsea, then Liverpool or Arsenal. In England the level is very, very high."

Tottenham advanced to the semis thanks to goals from Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura, either side of Jarrod Bowen's temporary leveller in the space of five pulsating minutes.

The second half was a case of Spurs holding on to what they had, and the hosts survived a late scare when the lively Tomas Soucek's deflected cross hit the frame of the goal.

Spurs finished with an expected goals (xG) return of 1.2 compared to West Ham's 1.8, evidence of the Hammers posing greater threat in attack, with Conte putting his side's cautious second-half display down to fitness reasons.

"Their overall performance was good," he said. "I think we tried to control the game to begin with and then scored, before conceding an unfortunate equaliser.

"Then we scored again and I liked the way we moved the ball around. 

"In the second half we tried to manage the COVID situation. Many players who had COVID played today and the levels dropped. I had to make lots of substitutions.

"We have to manage this situation. This period is going to be very tough for us.

"I see the positive aspect for us. I'm giving the possibility to the players to play and show that they deserve to stay here at Tottenham."

One of those who made the most of a rare start on Wednesday was Netherlands international Bergwijn, who scored the opener and created Lucas' winning goal.

Bergwijn led the way for shots (four) and touches in the opposition box (eight) before being replaced on the hour mark, the Dutchman catching the eye with his attacking display.

"I've had two weeks with Steven to know very much what I want," Conte said at his post-match news conference.

"We had training sessions with only 11 or 12 players and on one hand it was very difficult but on the other we exploited the situation to improve the players.

"Now Steven is a player totally involved in what I want and what I ask of our players, because don't forget, I like to have a plan and give options to my players."

 

Conte has made clear that he aims to win a trophy during his time at Tottenham, whose last major success came in the 2007-08 EFL Cup.
 
Lucas, who has two goals in his last three appearances, feels Spurs are better placed to lift the trophy than they were last season.

"It meant a lot to win today," he told Sky Sports. "It was a big game, a derby. It's a competition we can win, so let's fight for this.

"We started very well, conceded a goal by our mistake but controlled the game in the first half. In the second half they tried to score but we were solid and suffered together.

"Last season we had the chance to get this trophy but in the final we didn't play very well. 

"Now is another opportunity, another season, another manager, another squad and I think we're better now.

"A trophy is my objective. I think we deserve it, but we need to show it on the pitch."

Chelsea will face last season's runners-up Tottenham in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup, while Liverpool have been drawn against Arsenal.

Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea beat Brentford 2-0 on Wednesday thanks to a Pontus Jansson own goal and a Jorginho penalty in the final 10 minutes.

The Blues now have a two-legged tie with former boss Antonio Conte's Tottenham to look forward to early in 2022 following their London rivals' 2-1 win against West Ham.

Liverpool's reward for their dramatic penalty shootout win against Leicester City – coming after battling back from two goals down to draw 3-3 late on – is a showdown with Arsenal.

The Gunners had far less trouble booking their place in the final four as they eased to a 5-1 win over third-tier Sunderland on Tuesday, with Eddie Nketiah netting a hat-trick.

The all-Premier League ties will take place in the first two weeks of 2022, with the final scheduled for February 27 at Wembley.

EFL Cup semi-final ties:

Arsenal v Liverpool

Chelsea v Tottenham

Chelsea scraped past Brentford 2-0 in the EFL Cup quarter-finals after Pontus Jansson scored an own goal and Jorginho converted a penalty in the final 10 minutes. 

Just as they did in the Premier League meeting between these sides back in October, Chelsea dominated possession but struggled to create any decent openings. 

Kepa Arrizabalaga did well to keep out Yoane Wissa and Mathias Jensen in the first half, with Thomas Tuchel forced to call upon senior players as he chased the game in the second period. 

The game looked destined for penalties until Jansson put through his own net in the 80th minute and Jorginho put the result beyond doubt when he slotted home a spot-kick. 

Kieran Trippier has long been linked with a move back to England.

The 31-year-old full back has plied his trade in Spain for the past two-and-a-half years.

Trippier spent time with Manchester City, Burnley and Tottenham before joining Atletico Madrid, but seems set for a Premier League return next month.

 

TOP STORY – ATLETICO TO PERMIT TRIPPIER MOVE

Atleti are set to allow England international Trippier to join Newcastle United in January according to the Daily Mail.

The report claims that Atleti are hoping for £15million (€18m) from cashed-up Newcastle, who need reinforcements in their bid to avoid relegation.

Atleti will let the deal progress if they can find a suitable replacement for the defender during January.

ROUND-UP

- Tuttosport claims Juventus will switch their attention to signing an attacking player in January to boost their Champions League qualification hopes, with Manchester United pair Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial, Paris Saint-Germain's Mauro Icardi and Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in their sights.

- AS reports that Eden Hazard does not want to leave Real Madrid in the January transfer window, despite struggling for impact with Los Blancos.

Chelsea are set to make a move for Wolverhampton's Ruben Neves according to TodoFichajes. Thomas Tuchel wants to reinforce the midfield with Saul Niguez having underwhelmed since joining in August.

Real Madrid are plotting a move to sign Internazionale's Netherlands international Denzel Dumfries reports Defensa Central.

- Veteran Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho is set to extend his stay with Manchester City, scuppering interest from Atletico Mineiro, reports Sport Witness.

Could Bayern Munich really part with Robert Lewandowski?

The 33-year-old talisman has broken all kinds of records in Munich, but he is not getting any younger.

With Erling Haaland the face of a new era, Bayern may be tempted for the Borussia Dortmund star to lead the way.

 

TOP STORY – LEWANDOWSKI OUT, HAALAND IN?

Bayern Munich could sell Robert Lewandowski to raise funds for in-demand Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, according to Sport Bild.

Bundesliga champions Bayern are planning with Lewandowski for the future, though they have reportedly not written off the idea of bringing in Haaland, who has been linked with Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester United.

Should Bayern and Lewandowski not agree to a new deal, the Poland international is believed to be interested in a switch to the Premier League or PSG.

As for Bayern, they feel cashing in on Lewandowski for around €60million would help in landing Haaland, who has a release clause of €75m.

Bayern are also eyeing Barca's Ousmane Dembele, while Inter's Lautaro Martinez, Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic and Juventus star Federico Chiesa are among their alternative options.

 

ROUND-UP

- Eurosport claims LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid want to bring in wantaway United forward Anthony Martial in a swap deal.

Barca and Atletico are interested in Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta, says Sport. Azpilicueta is a free agent at the end of the season. Chelsea team-mate Antonio Rudiger is also set to become available on a free transfer.

- Calciomercato reports PSG are eyeing a move for Bayern forward Kingsley Coman. The 25-year-old Frenchman made three appearances for PSG before leaving the capital in 2014.

- Salzburg sensation Karim Adeyemi is wanted by Barca, Inter and Liverpool but the Germany international wants a move to Dortmund, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Fiorentina's Serbian striker Dusan Vlahovic is attracting a long list of suitors.

Vlahovic is under contract at the Stadio Artemio Franchi until June 2023.

Fiorentina are hoping to convince him to extend amid increasing interest in him.

 

TOP STORY – FIORENTINA SET €100M VLAHOVIC PRICE TAG

Fiorentina have set a whopping €100million (£85m) price tag for Vlahovic according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

Arsenal, Tottenham, Juventus and Manchester City are all keen on the Serbian striker.

Vlahovic netted 21 Serie A goals last season and has already got 15 to his name this term, making him hot property.  

ROUND-UP

- Marseille defensive midfielder Boubacar Kamara is on Manchester United's radar with a view to sign him as a free agent, reports The Athletic.  Wolverhampton and Newcastle are also believed to be interested in Kamara.

- Real Madrid are in the box seat to sign Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger following positive discussions, according to The Guardian. Rudiger is set to exit Chelsea as a free agent at the end of this season.

- Tottenham are set to allow Dele Alli to exit the club in January, claims The Athletic. England international Alli has made eight league appearances for Spurs this season and is understood to not be in new manager Antonio Conte's plans.

- Fichajes claims that Manchester United will join Liverpool and Manchester City in the race for Porto winger Luis Diaz.

- Newcastle wants to sign Lille's 21-year-old defender Sven Botman in January, reports The Guardian.

Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos will come up against Real Madrid after Paris Saint-Germain were paired with Los Blancos in the Champions League round of 16, which had to undergo a re-draw.

PSG were initially drawn against Manchester United on Monday, throwing up a tantalising encounter between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

However, a technical error meant the draw had to take place again and while Messi will not meet Ronaldo just yet, the Barcelona great will go up against his former club's Clasico rivals.

Having finished second in Group A behind Manchester City, who were handed a favourable tie against Sporting CP, PSG will host Madrid in the first leg in February before visiting the Santiago Bernabeu in March.

That means Mbappe, who is a high-profile target for Madrid and could well have already signed a pre-contract agreement with Los Blancos by the time these fixtures roll around, will go up against his suitors.

It also sees Madrid legend Ramos go up against his old club, and it is the same story for Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti, who coached PSG from 2011 to 2013.

United, on the other hand, will face Atletico Madrid, who had initially been due to play Bayern Munich. The Bundesliga giants have been drawn against Salzburg.

Liverpool may well lament their luck. Salzburg had been their original opponents, but Jurgen Klopp's team now have to prepare for a tie against Serie A champions Inter - albeit they made light work of the Nerazzurri's rivals Milan in the group stage.

Coincidentally, holders Chelsea were again drawn against Lille, having been set a tie with the Ligue 1 champions during the initial draw. 

Villarreal will take on Juventus and Ajax go up against Benfica.

Champions League last 16 draw in full:

Salzburg v Bayern Munich
Sporting CP v Manchester City
Benfica v Ajax
Chelsea v Lille
Atletico Madrid v Manchester United
Villarreal v Juventus
Inter v Liverpool 
PSG v Real Madrid

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