Chelsea stars ‘bewildered’ as Spanish giants monitor Azpi contract stand-off

Atletico Madrid and Barcelona are seriously watching the contract situation of Cesar Azpilicueta in case he fails to agree new terms.
There has been a feeling inside Chelsea that extending his contract by one more year should be straightforward by the end of the season, yet issues with Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen mean the two Spanish clubs are waiting in the wings in the hope Azpilicueta also becomes frustrated.
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Some Chelsea players are bewildered by the fact Azpilicueta has not yet had his future secured given the ongoing uncertainty over Rudiger and Christensen.
With Thiago Silva also out of contract in the summer, we are entering a key time in terms of negotiating with the defenders over their next deal.
There is still hope and, to an extent, expectation that Christensen will sign. That is not the case with Rudiger, despite the fact Tuchel is extremely eager for him to stay.
Some sources close to the situation believe it is almost certain he will now leave Chelsea as he ponders options on the continent. Tottenham are also putting forward a strong proposal.
Azpilicueta is aware of interest in him but still hopes to remain at Chelsea. However, he remains in the dark over their exact intentions so has to keep his options open.
The Blues have begun looking to reinforce their back line with Fenerbahce defender Attila Szalai in sight. They also tried to sign Jules Kounde last summer and may yet revisit that situation.

Rangnick will look elsewhere in Prem if Man Utd role ends this summer

Ralf Rangnick

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Ralf Rangnick is expected to search for further managerial opportunities in the Premier League if his spell in charge at Manchester United is not extended beyond this season.
He is not hiding the fact he would like to remain at the helm beyond the initial period he has signed up to, even though he will remain as a consultant to the club as they seek stability.
Sources close to the situation have suggested that Rangnick has a renewed desire for top-level coaching - after previously taking more executive roles at the Red Bull clubs and Lokomotiv Moscow - as he fully believes he is one of the best tacticians and coaches in the game.
Some figures at Old Trafford have already discovered how confident he is over his ability and some respected people in the game have found him difficult to work with in the past, given he is so convinced by his own knowledge and vision.
Yet he has a clear idea of what he wants to implement at United so even those who find him difficult personally are accepting that he could be exactly what the club needs in this moment.
If United do decide to turn to another longer-term option beyond this season then Rangnick could well open up to other chances to manage in the division.

Leeds plot investment to avoid relegation scrap

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa gestures on the touchline

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Leeds are looking into whether they can bolster their squad ahead of a San Francisco 49ers takeover.
49ers Enterprises already have a minority share and have spent the past year looking into further investment in the club.
A timeframe over anything being concluded is tricky at this moment but in the meantime Leeds want to try to invest in the squad to make sure they are not dragged into a relegation battle.
Over the next month they will map out how they can strengthen in January but insiders are making it clear that their current budget is not huge, so options will be limited.
There are also decisions to be made over Marcelo Bielsa, who only has an agreement as boss until the end of this season.

Derby captain on radar of relegation-haunted trio

Tom Lawrence of Derby County reacts

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Relegation-threatened Watford, Burnley and Norwich City are all looking at Derby County captain Tom Lawrence.
It is believed the Rams captain will be open to a move in the new year and Premier League clubs have been alerted to his potential availability.
Lawrence, 27, is the highest earner at the club and remains focused on helping his side fight against relegation, following a points deduction that leaves them with a real uphill battle to survive in the Championship.
Yet his ability and form has led to clubs taking a real interest in him - and a move away from Derby would be difficult to turn down.
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