United still keen to make Sancho move

Manchester United have not given up on the chance to sign Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, according to the Telegraph. The 20-year-old England international has struggled for form this season, but United are not put off by inconsistency in a player so young. They could now go back to the German club in the summer, while the immediate focus is on a defender - but not Bayern’s David Alaba.

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Paper Round’s view: It seems a mistake to not try for Alaba, given he is one of the most versatile, reliable and intelligent players around these days. As a central defender he probably has at least three or four more years in him and is available for nothing. As for Sancho, it is true young players have dips in form but there are wider concerns about his discipline.

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United to extend Lingard deal

Manchester United will extend Jesse Lingard’s stay at Old Trafford for the next year, or at the very least will activate a clause that adds another year to his current contract. The 28-year-old will now see his deal end in 2022, according to the Sun newspaper. However, the paper states that he may still leave the club to join Sheffield United in the January transfer window.

Paper Round’s view: Manchester United have a habit of extending the contracts of their players so as not to lose them for nothing. But look at the squad and a problem emerges. Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones are other players who have been given new contracts and then sat on the sidelines, which prevents managers from selling them and trying out new players.

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Barca consider Mustafi

Barcelona are interested in Arsenal central defender Shkodran Mustafi, according to Spanish newspaper Marca. The player is out of contract at the end of the season and is out of favour under Mikel Arteta. New Barca boss Ronald Koeman needs more defenders and is also interested in Eric Garcia. He may see him arrive on a free in the summer if no deal with Manchester City can be agreed.

Paper Round’s view: Mustafi has shown only occasional glimpses of being the kind of defender that the top teams in Europe want. However, Barcelona do not have the cash to be too picky and at least the German international has some experience, which they are lacking given Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Pique are struggling with their fitness. Garcia may be a more sensible option.

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Real dealt double blow

Real Madrid have suffered a blow with the news that Mauricio Pochettino is set to step in at the Parc des Princes to replace the sacked Thomas Tuchel. The former Spurs boss is in line for the job and the Mail suggests that this makes it more likely that Kylian Mbappe will recommit his future to PSG and extend a deal that expires in 2022. Real have now also missed the chance to appoint Pochettino when Zinedine Zidane leaves.

Paper Round’s view: Pochettino had been out of work for around a year and if he did not find work soon he might have suffered from clubs worried that he had grown stale. Now he has a job that affords him the time to plan domestically given their huge advantages, with all the pressure on him to deliver a Champions League title. Do that and he will probably still be wanted by Real further down the line.

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