The battle to sign David Alaba continues among European giants, while Thomas Tuchel is eyeing Dayot Upamecano at Chelsea.

Alaba, 28, is set to leave Bayern Munich at the end of the season and it was reported this month the defender had agreed a deal with Real Madrid.

But it seems the race to secure the Austria international's signature remains on.

 

TOP STORY – EUROPEAN GIANTS FIGHT FOR ALABA

Real Madrid have offered Alaba €11million per year and Manchester City are prepared to give the Bayern Munich star €14m, according to AS.

The report says Manchester United, Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea are also battling to sign Alaba.

Alaba has won nine Bundesliga titles and two Champions Leagues among numerous other trophies with Bayern.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tuchel's appointment as Chelsea head coach was confirmed on Tuesday, and the former PSG boss is already looking to strengthen. Bild reports Tuchel wants RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano at Stamford Bridge. It comes as The Guardian reports Chelsea's interest in West Ham midfielder Declan Rice is likely to end following Frank Lampard's sacking.

- Real Madrid have work to do before the end of the season. Marca reports Luka Modric has agreed a new contract with Madrid, while Sergio Ramos and Lucas Vazquez are yet to accept offers. The report says Karim Benzema, Raphael Varane and Nacho Fernandez are their next priorities.

- Eric Garcia is linked with a move to Barcelona. Sport reports the next president of the Catalan giants must ratify the defender's five-year deal if the Manchester City defender is to arrive ahead of next season.

- Out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain the end of the season, Angel Di Maria's future is uncertain. L'Equipe reports the attacker, though, is on track for an extension with the Ligue 1 giants.

- Staying at PSG and the club are still pushing to sign Dele Alli on loan, according to Fabrizio Romano, who reports Tottenham are unwilling to let the midfielder go until they sign a replacement.

- Jordi Alba turns 32 in March and Barcelona are considering the left-back's successor. Mundo Deportivo reports Valencia's Jose Gaya and Chelsea's Marcos Alonso are candidates.

For so long, Real Madrid have been linked with Kylian Mbappe but will the LaLiga champions bring the French forward to the Santiago Bernabeu?

Mbappe is reportedly open to the idea of making the move to the Spanish capital.

However, Liverpool could be ready to hijack any transfer.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE TO MADRID?

Kylian Mbappe dominates the front pages of Tuesday's Diario AS and Mundo Deportivo as Real Madrid try to sign the Paris Saint-Germain star.

Mbappe – out of contract in 2022 – has been tipped to swap Ligue 1 holders PSG for LaLiga champions Madrid at the end of the season.

While the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic impacts Madrid, the Spanish giants are still working on a deal to prise the Frenchman to the Santiago Bernabeu, with Vinicius Junior a possible makeweight.

Mundo Deportivo says Premier League champions Liverpool are ready to pounce should Madrid fail to sign Mbappe.

 

ROUND-UP

- Onda Cero reports PSG have offered Madrid captain Sergio Ramos a three-year deal worth €15million a season. Ramos is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and the superstar has been linked with the likes of Manchester United and Juventus.

- Both Madrid and Barcelona are considering a shock move for Roma striker Edin Dzeko, according to Mundo Deportivo. Dzeko has had a falling out with under-fire head coach Paulo Fonseca, prompting links to Juve and Inter.

Thomas Tuchel is set to be named Frank Lampard's Chelsea replacement, with Fabrizio Romano claiming an announcement is "just a matter of time". Tuchel was sacked by PSG in December.

- The Athletic says Juve have identified Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres as a long-term replacement for veteran Giorgio Chiellini. Torres has also been linked with United, Manchester City, Barca, Madrid and Chelsea.

Tottenham have approached PSG's Angel Di Maria, who is out of contract at the end of the season, according to L'Equipe. Di Maria has history in England, having spent a difficult season playing for United in 2014-15.

- Sport 1 says Borussia Dortmund are interested in Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli. The likes of Juve and City have also emerged as suitors.

Zinedine Zidane is in "good spirits" after testing positive for COVID-19 as Real Madrid get ready to take on Deportivo Alaves without their head coach.

The Spanish club confirmed on Friday that Zidane is isolating after contracting coronavirus, meaning he will not be present for Saturday's LaLiga fixture.

Having already lost to Athletic Bilbao in the semi-finals of the Supercopa de Espana, Los Blancos suffered a humiliating defeat to third-tier club Alcoyano to exit the Copa del Rey in midweek.

With their title defence also stuttering, the pressure has increased on Zidane, whose absence this weekend means assistant coach David Bettoni will be in charge.

"I spoke to him this morning, he's feeling fine," Bettoni told the media ahead of a trip to an Alaves side that won 2-1 in Madrid last season.

"He's in good spirits. He won't be with us in person but we know he'll be supporting us. The important thing is that everyone knows he'll be there in spirit.

"We're just finalising how we're going to do things."

Zidane insisted he remained calm about his own future in the aftermath of the defeat to Alcoyano, having seen a strong Madrid side let slip a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 after extra time.

Bettoni insists the squad remain united with the focus now shifting back to LaLiga, where they quickly need to make up ground on leaders Atletico Madrid.

"At Real Madrid, every defeat brings criticism, but we have enough experience to know we've got a chance against Alaves to show everyone we're a unit," he said.

"We're all together in this and we're going to do all we can to take the three points. We work hard every day towards just that and we have another chance to show it."

Sergio Ramos did not feature in the cup tie on Wednesday and will once again be absent this weekend, while fellow defender Dani Carvajal is not yet ready to make a return.

"With Sergio Ramos, he is in his recovery process and he won't be with us tomorrow," Bettoni confirmed.

"Dani Carvajal trained a little with us, but he won't be with us either and will be able to train normally from Monday."

Madrid have lost just one of their previous 15 away games in LaLiga but have found goals hard to come by this season, managing 30 in 18 games. That is their second-worst tally at this stage in the past 14 campaigns.

Nacho Fernandez was ruled out of Real Madrid's Copa del Rey game at Alcoyano due to COVID-19 protocols.

Madrid defender Nacho was deemed a close contact of someone who tested positive for coronavirus and was subsequently cut from Zinedine Zidane's 20-man group for the game in Alicante.

The 31-year-old has reportedly tested negative himself but was unable to travel as he awaited the result of a second PCR test.

With Raphael Varane rested and Sergio Ramos absent due to injury, Eder Militao and Victor Chust of Castilla are the only centre-backs left in Zidane's squad.

Madrid did not clarify when Nacho will be able to return to action.

Following their clash with Alcoyano, LaLiga's champions are scheduled to face Deportivo Alaves and Levante in the next 10 days.

Martin Odegaard has been left out of the Real Madrid squad to face Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey, while Luka Modric and Raphael Varane are rested and Sergio Ramos misses out through injury.

Norway international Odegaard has featured just twice for Madrid in all competitions since the start of December, and Wednesday's clash with third-tier Alcoyano appeared to represent a chance for him to receive some rare minutes.

However, the 22-year-old was not included on the 20-man list for the match at El Collao.

Varane and Modric, who have missed just one game each this season, were granted a rest by Zidane, with Castilla duo Victor Chust and Antonio Blanco called up instead.

Ramos played through discomfort experienced in the warm-up during the Supercopa de Espana defeat to Athletic Bilbao last week and did not train with his team-mates on Tuesday.

Rodrygo and Dani Carvajal are also unavailable due to injury.

Real Madrid star Sergio Ramos' future appears no closer to being sorted.

Ramos, 34, is out of contract at the end of the season and reportedly turned down a one-year deal from Madrid.

And the Spain international's future remains uncertain.

 

TOP STORY – RAMOS, REAL MADRID NEGOTIATIONS AT A STANDSTILL

Negotiations between Real Madrid and Sergio Ramos are at a standstill, according to Le 10 Sport.

Amid the uncertainty over his future, Ramos has been linked with numerous European giants.

But Telefoot reported there had been no contact between Ramos and Paris Saint-Germain.

 

ROUND-UP

- Starting to find form again for Borussia Dortmund, Jadon Sancho is set to be the subject of transfer speculation ahead of 2021-22. But Sky Sports reports talks about a move for the reported Manchester United target are unlikely in January, with an off-season switch possible.

- PSG seem keen to land Dele Alli in January. Fabrizio Romano claims the midfielder is pushing to join the Ligue 1 giants on loan and Mauricio Pochettino's PSG will not give up on a deal.

- Milan appear set to add depth to their squad. The Serie A leaders have agreed a deal with former Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic, according to CalcioMercato.

- Staying at Milan and they are also reportedly set to land Fikayo Tomori from Chelsea. Romano says Tomori is set to join on loan with an option to buy for €30million (£26.7m).

Erling Haaland is one of the sought-after players in world football.

The Borussia Dortmund forward can reportedly take his pick from Europe's elite.

But if his agent Mino Raiola has his way, Camp Nou could be Haaland's next destination.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND COULD LEAVE BVB AT SEASON'S END

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland could leave the Bundesliga club for Barcelona at the end of the season, according to TV3 program Onze.

Haaland has been linked with the likes of Barca, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus following his exploits for Dortmund.

The Norway international forward reportedly has a €75million (£66.8m) release clause at the end of his second season in Dortmund, though he could depart sooner rather than later.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano says United are not working on a deal to sign Madrid captain Sergio Ramos. The Spanish superstar is out of contract at the end of the season, and he has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain, Juve, City, Chelsea and Liverpool. A move to Liverpool is reportedly not on the horizon due to his role in the injury to Mohamed Salah in the 2018 Champions League final.

City have joined Serie A champions Juve in the race to sign Sassuolo star Manuel Locatelli, reports the Daily Mail.

- According to Sky Sport Italia, Sportitalia and Tuttomercatoweb, Milan are set to meet with free agent Mario Mandzukic over the next 24 hours to discuss a short-term deal. Staying at San Siro and Sky Sport Italia says the Rossoneri are close to signing Torino midfielder Soualiho Meite on loan with the option to buy.

Arsenal are interested in Barca goalkeeper Neto, claims Sky Sports. With backup Runar Alex Runarsson struggling in London, the Gunners are hoping to bring in Neto on loan.

- Marca reports Barca are targeting Valencia star Jose Gaya to bolster their left-back position, while Villarreal's Alfonso Pedraza is another option.

Juventus are set to complete the signing of American defender Bryan Reynolds from MLS club Dallas, says Romano. The 19-year-old will join Benevento until June, before linking up with Juve.

Luka Modric says talks with Real Madrid over a new contract are "going in a good direction".

The Croatia star's deal expires at the end of the season but it was reported by Marca last month that an agreement was in place for a year-long extension.

The 2018 Ballon d'Or winner, now 35, has enjoyed a superb campaign for Madrid following early doubts over whether the return of Martin Odegaard could limit his involvement.

Of Madrid midfielders this season, nobody has scored more goals than Modric (four, level with Casemiro), while only Lucas Vazquez and Toni Kroos have created more goalscoring chances (30).

Modric has also played the most successful passes ending in the final third (451) of any Madrid midfielder this term, highlighting his attacking impact under Zinedine Zidane while Odegaard has struggled for minutes and Eden Hazard for fitness.

Ahead of the Supercopa de Espana clash with Athletic Bilbao, Modric suggested he has plenty of football left - and that it could be played in the Spanish capital.

"I can't say much. I'm speaking with the club and everything is going in a good direction," he said of his contract talks.

"I haven't changed anything in particular. I'm working a lot outside of training, I have the same desire to compete, the years are no problem at all."

The future of Sergio Ramos is similarly unclear and Modric was not prepared to offer any indication of the captain's plans.

"I can't position myself at anyone's side," he said. "Sergio is my friend and I want the best for him, for him to be happy.

"It's between him and the club. I can't get involved."

Modric was happy to offer some advice to Odegaard, though, the 22-year-old having played only nine times this season after returning following a fine loan spell with Real Sociedad.

"Last time I spoke to him, I told him I liked him as a player and a person, to keep fighting for his place in this team, that when he plays to make difference to show he deserves to be here," Modric said.

"To work and fight for your place is my advice for him."

Zinedine Zidane hopes Sergio Ramos and Lucas Vazquez's contracts with Real Madrid are "sorted out".

Ramos, 34, and Vazquez, 29, are both out of contract at the end of the season and their futures remain uncertain.

Reports suggest Ramos has turned down a one-year deal from Madrid, the club he arrived at in 2005.

Asked about Ramos and Vazquez possibly not signing contracts, Zidane told a news conference: "I don't want it but, in football, you never know.

"What I want and what we want you already know. You will ask me again at another press conference after the match and I will tell you the same thing. What I hope is that this will be sorted out, nothing more."

Madrid visit Osasuna in LaLiga on Saturday as they look to keep the pressure on Atletico, who are two points clear and have played two fewer games.

Eden Hazard's future is again a talking point at Madrid and the playmaker last started a league game in November.

But Zidane is unwilling to take risks with the 30-year-old, who has struggled with injuries since arriving at the club.

"He is with us. He is training regularly, then after that I don't know," he said.

"We will see if he is for 90 minutes or not and we will see how the pitch is. And for the next matches we will see the same, little by little."

Liverpool are reportedly interested in Sergio Ramos, while Real Madrid have a successor for Zinedine Zidane lined up.

Premier League champions Liverpool are linked with centre-backs due to long-term injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.

And Ramos is apparently a target.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL INTERESTED IN RAMOS

Liverpool are interested in Real Madrid defender Ramos, according to El Chiringuito.

The 34-year-old's future at Madrid is uncertain with his contract expiring at the end of the season.

Also at Liverpool, Fabrizio Romano reports they are yet to open talks to sign Lille defender Sven Botman.

 

ROUND-UP

- Zidane was under pressure at Real Madrid earlier in the season, and the LaLiga giants have his replacement in mind. AS reports Raul – who is in charge of Real Madrid Castilla – is seen as the natural heir to the Frenchman.

Christian Eriksen is expected to leave Inter, but just where to remains to be seen. CalcioMercato reports the Serie A giants are yet to receive an offer for the midfielder, who has been linked to Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal.

- With Diego Costa having departed, Atletico Madrid are said to be looking for another forward. The Daily Mail reports Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik is at the top of their list, while Espanyol's Raul de Tomas and Real Betis' Loren Moron are of interest.

Manchester City are linked to Barcelona star Lionel Messi, but they may have a younger version to target. talkSPORT reports the Premier League club are plotting a move for 17-year-old Estudiantes winger Dario Sarmiento, who has been dubbed "mini Messi".

- Sergio Romero looks set to leave Manchester United. The Manchester Evening News reports the goalkeeper has bid farewell to his team-mates ahead of an expected move to Boca Juniors.

Manchester City have reportedly annoyed Kevin De Bruyne with their contract offer amid interest in Lionel Messi.

De Bruyne, 29, has been expected to sign a new deal with the Premier League giants, with his contract expiring in 2023.

But with Messi coming out of contract at season's end, City's offer to De Bruyne has seemingly drawn questions.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY ANNOY DE BRUYNE AMID MESSI INTEREST

Manchester City have annoyed De Bruyne with their contract offer, according to The Athletic.

The report says the offer is less than De Bruyne is currently on because of potentially signing Messi. However, the Belgium international is still expected to re-sign.

City have been strongly linked to Messi, who could leave Barcelona at the end of the campaign when is contract is due to expire.

The Barcelona captain has insisted he will not make a decision on his future until the season's conclusion.

 

ROUND-UP

- Also coming out of contract is Bayern Munich star David Alaba. The Guardian reports Liverpool are interested in signing the defender, but Real Madrid lead the race.

- Staying at Real Madrid and there is uncertainty over Sergio Ramos' future. With his contract expiring at the end of the season, Ramos will not accept a one-year deal and the defender and LaLiga champions are distant in their bid to reach an agreement, according to Marca. The Manchester Evening News reports City are not interested in Ramos.

Antoine Griezmann is still yet to find his best form for Barcelona, but Sport reports the Blaugrana are not considering selling the forward.

Mesut Ozil could be set to leave Arsenal. Football.London reports the playmaker, who comes out of contract in June, is in negotiations with MLS franchise DC United.

- Linked with Juventus and InterOlivier Giroud is set to stay at Chelsea, according to Goal. They also claim Juve are considering Sampdoria forward Fabio Quagliarella as an alternative, while Milan look set to keep hold of star midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu.

Sergio Ramos has not been named in Real Madrid's squad for their LaLiga match Celta Vigo on Saturday.

The Madrid captain did not train on Friday and, according to Marca, is struggling with a stomach issue.

Ramos, the only unexpected absentee from a 23-man group, has scored twice in 13 league appearances this season.

The centre-back has contributed to five clean sheets, averaging 1.1 tackles, 2.8 clearances, 1.5 interceptions and 0.3 blocks per 90 minutes.

He has made only a single error leading to a shot and received three yellow cards.

Madrid will have to adapt to the absence of the talismanic Ramos, having won just one of the three prior league games he has missed this term.

However, the defending champions are unbeaten in 12 against eighth-placed Celta in LaLiga.

Zinedine Zidane is not entertaining speculation about transfer talks with David Alaba as Real Madrid battle to defend their LaLiga title.

Bayern Munich defender Alaba is out of contract in Germany at the end of the season and negotiations over an extension have so far proved fruitless for the European champions.

The Austria international has been mooted as a target for Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain as well as Madrid, although Zidane's outfit are considered favourites for his signature in some quarters.

Alaba was a key part of the Bayern team that won the Champions League last season.

However, since the start of 2019-20, he has committed four errors leading to shots in the competition, a joint-high among defenders. None of these have resulted in goals, while Madrid's Raphael Varane has made the same number of mistakes but been punished on all four occasions.

Alaba's statistics over this period are very similar to Varane's, playing 13 games to his 14 and having 29 fewer touches and seven fewer successful passes.

Varane is also just four tackles, two blocks, five clearances and seven interceptions ahead of his counterpart.

Rather than being signed as a competitor to Varane, though, Alaba could partner the World Cup winner as talismanic Madrid captain Sergio Ramos approaches his 35th birthday.

Either way, the speculation does not interest head coach Zidane, who said ahead of facing Celta Vigo: "We've got all our players here. I'm just thinking about the game tomorrow with the players that I have here.

"Then maybe you're going to ask me about the players that are playing a lot or not playing a lot. We have 22 players, 25 with the goalkeepers, a very big squad.

"We have enough to think about with the games that we have not to be thinking about players that aren't even ours. Please, we're thinking just about the game tomorrow."

While Zidane is keeping his focus on LaLiga, where Madrid trail Atletico Madrid by two points, the need to bring in a player of Alaba's calibre would become urgent if a new contract for Ramos was not agreed.

The PSG-linked skipper, Luka Modric and Lucas Vazquez are all free agents, like Alaba, in June 2021.

"Yes, we all want [contracts to be signed]," Zidane said. "We want the situation to be sorted as quickly as possible.

"It's in everyone's interests, it would be good for everyone, so hopefully it can be sorted out quickly."

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