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    Man Utd hero Marcus Rashford praises Chelsea pals Mason Mount and Reece James for incredible charity work

    MARCUS RASHFORD has hailed Reece James and Mason Mount for “amazing” charity work he believes can help change the world.
    Praise for the Chelsea duo could hardly come from a greater source of inspiration, given that Manchester United striker Rashford MBE has won plaudits all round for fighting child poverty.

    Man Utd star Marcus Rashford has been a role model for millions with his charity work and campaigning, forming the Child Food Poverty Task Force 

    Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount supports Together for Short Lives, which helps very ill children and their families

    Blues defender Reece James helps London-based food charity The Felix Project

    And Rashford, 23, believes his England pals can make a huge difference, especially as they have the power to influence many thousands of people through their wide followings on social media.
    Right-back James, 21, has been helping The Felix Project hand out healthy food to charities and schools.
    Meanwhile, 22-year-old midfielder Mount is a patron of Together for Short Lives, supporting children with life-limiting conditions and their families.
    And after winning the Football Writers’ Association Tribute Award, Rashford said: “It is great.

    “The fact people are doing it off their own backs is an amazing feeling and for the future it is going to help massively for kids that are not born yet.
    “It is going to be a different environment which they come in to.
    “Hopefully it continues and more and more people come on board and start to do their own things, their own little ways of helping people. That is how change happens.”
    ⚽ Read our Man United live blog for the latest news from Old Trafford

    ⚽ Read our Chelsea live blog for the very latest news from the Bridge
    And as Britain anxiously wonders when the coronavirus pandemic will ease, including the third national lockdown, Rashford is enthused by fellow footballers stepping up to the mark.
    The United academy product said: “We have all experienced a tough year and change needs to happen, which is evident. 
    “The fact people like Reece and Mason are doing that is amazing to see.”
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    Marcus Rashford says his child food poverty campaign is only just beginning More

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    Aston Villa agree £15.5m transfer for Morgan Sanson days after Marseille boss Andre Villas-Boas slammed ‘pathetic’ bid

    ASTON VILLA have agreed to pay Marseille £15.5million to sign French midfielder Morgan Sanson – three days after Marseille boss Andre Villas-Boas branded a £14.25million package as ‘pathetic.’
    However Villa’s recruitment team, led by Danish talent-spotter Johan Lange, threw in an extra £1.5million in potential add-ons to seal a deal.

    Aston Villa are set to sign Morgan Sanson from Marseille for £15.5millionCredit: PA:Press Association

    Andre Villas-Boas branded Villa’s earlier £14.25million bid ‘pathetic’Credit: AFP or licensors

    The 26-year-old is expected to become Dean Smith’s first – and probably last – signing of the January transfer window when he flies into the UK next week to sign a four-and-a-half-year contract.
    Villa don’t expect to untangle the red tape surrounding the deal in time for Sanson to make his debut against Burnley in midweek.
    However, they are hopeful he could play some part in Saturday’s trip to Southampton.
    Marseille tried to play hardball, initially demanding £22million for the former Arsenal, Spurs and West Ham target.

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    But the collapse of French football’s premier TV deal has forced the hand of many clubs, whose bean-counters are now nervously calling for assets to be sold to cover the cost of the Covid crisis.
    Sanson helped Marseille finish runners-up to PSG last season, scoring five goals and providing five assists.
    Smith sees him as a direct replacement for Conor Hourihane who was allowed to join Swansea on loan earlier in the week.

    Dean Smith slams ‘pathetic’ offside rule as Aston Villa boss is sent off for calling refs clowns in Man City loss More

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    Arsenal eye transfer for Crystal Palace starlet Tyrick Mitchell with 21-year-old out-of-contract in summer

    ARSENAL are reportedly lining up a move for Crystal Palace youngster Tyrick Mitchell.
    The Gunners are chasing cover at left-back for Kieran Tierney.

    Arsenal are chasing Crystal Palace defender Tyrick MitchellCredit: AFP

    And they are one of a number of clubs courting 21-year-old Mitchell, according to The Evening Standard.
    Mitchell has taken his chance to shine at Selhurst Park after breaking into Roy Hodgson’s first team.
    It has been widely reported that the youngster is out of contract in the summer and could be snapped up on the cheap.
    But the report states his deal is believed to run for longer – making the chances of snaffling a bargain much slimmer.

    Mitchell has started ten Premier League games this term – playing the full 90 minutes on every occasion.
    And his performances are understood to have caught the eye of a number of Prem clubs who are believed to be scouting him.
    Mikel Arteta is hoping to ease the workload on Scot Tierney after the former Celtic man was pulled out of the game against Palace with muscle tightness earlier this month.
    England star Bukayo Saka can also deputise at left-back but prefers to be deployed further forward.

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    Arsenal are looking for a back-up to Kieran TierneyCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Fellow Three Lions ace Ainsley Maitland-Niles has also filled in at wing-back but his long-term future remains uncertain after failing to make a number of matchday squads.
    After Sead Kolasinac was allowed to leave to join German strugglers Schalke on loan, Arsenal have been left short.
    The Gunners are keeping tabs on Southampton’s 31-year-old left-back Ryan Bertrand – who is out of contract in the summer – and could land a bargain this month or wait to poach him on a free at the end fo the season.
    ⚽ Read our Arsenal live blog for the latest news from The Emirates

    Arsenal sign Mat Ryan on loan transfer from Brighton until end of season More

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    Man Utd transfer target Jamal Musiala’s contract talks with Bayern Munich held up by 17-year-old’s £100k-a-week demands

    JAMAL MUSIALA’s wage demands are reportedly holding up contract negotiations with Bayern Munich.
    The 17-year-old wants £100,000-a-week despite making just 20 senior appearances for the Bundesliga champions.

    Jamal Musiala, 17, has scored three times for Bayern Munich this seasonCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    The former Chelsea youngster’s move to the Allianz Arena has been vindicatedCredit: AFP or licensors

    He has 18 months left on his youth agreement and Allianz Arena bigwigs are eager to secure his future.
    A failure to agree fresh terms could spark a summer transfer amid interest from Manchester United.
    But Goal claim negotiations are positive and talks are advancing with both parties keen to seek a resolution.
    The former Chelsea youngster is reportedly happy to remain at Bayern despite having plenty of admirers in the Premier League.

    Liverpool and Manchester City have also been credited with an interest.

    Stuttgart-born Musiala was a member of Chelsea’s youth academy before rejecting a bumper scholarship to join Bayern in 2019.
    The decision was vindicated after becoming the youngest player to play and score in the Bundesliga for the club.
    Bayern boss Hansi Flick has confirmed the plan is to tie him down to a longer deal.

    Flick said: “Jamal has enormous qualities.
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    “Bayern are clearly interested in retaining this player for a longer period of time.”
    Musiala has scored three Bundesliga goals this season – including a stunner in last month’s 3-3 draw with RB Leipzig.
    He has two caps for England’s Under-21s but the German Football Association are confident of securing his international future.
    ⚽ Read our Man United live blog for the latest news from Old Trafford

    Watch ex-Chelsea wonderkid Jamal Musiala become second youngest goalscorer in Germany’s third tier with brace for Bayern Munich II vs FSV Zwickau More

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    Brentford boss is driven by last season’s Wembley heartache in fresh bid to take the Bees into the Premier League

    HAD it not been for sod’s law Thomas Frank would have been meeting Brendan Rodgers this weekend as a Premier League equal.
    But if the Dane eventually does lead Brentford into the Premier League, it will be a fairytale to rival Leicester’s 2016 title triumph.

    Thomas Frank celebrates leading Brentford to last season’s play-off final

    But Brentford’s joy was to turn to despair as they suffered heartbreak in the Championship play-off final as Fulham clinched promotion to the top flight

    The heartbreak of losing to Fulham in August’s Championship play-off final still rankles slightly.
    Frank sighs: “As Brentford manager, I’ve faced Fulham four times, kept clean sheets in 90 minutes in every game and beaten them on three occasions.
    “And yet Joe Bryan scores their only goals against us in the space of 12 extra-time minutes at Wembley with a wonder strike and from a mistake. It’s the fine margins of football.”
    It is also the law of sod, Thomas.

    After an incredible eight-match winning streak where they swept aside all-comers including Fulham, they lost both their final league games against struggling Stoke and Barnsley. Victory in either would have seen them promoted automatically.
    But that pain has driven Brentford this season.
    They have not lost a Championship match since October and their Carabao Cup semi-final exit against Tottenham was the only reverse in their last 19 matches in all competitions.
    Beating Leicester will be their FIFTH Premier League scalp this season, having already defeated Southampton, West Brom, Fulham and Newcastle in that cup run.

    Ollie Watkins cuts a lonely figure at Wembley in what proved his final game with Brentford before his £33million move to Aston Villa
    Frank said: “We’ve learned from the finest of margins that went against us last season. Did you know we lost nine games 1-0? It’s crazy.
    “There were one or two we deserved to lose but the rest we should’ve won or drawn.
    “This season we’re managed to win tight games or at least drawn them because every player has improved.
    “Keeper David Raya learned from his mistake at Millwall last season for example that cost us the game 1-0.
    “Defenders Pontus Jansson and Henrik Dalsgaard, despite all their experience, have become even better leaders.
    “Ethan Pinnock and Rico Henry did amazing for us in their first season at Championship level – but have upped it further.
    “Mathias Jensen and Josh Da Silva – better decisions, better defensively.
    “Bryan Mbeumo hasn’t scored as many goals so far but has lost the ball less and is getting more assists. Sergi Canos has also grown.”

    Thomas Frank believes Brentford have learned from the fine margins that went against them as they have had a cracking first half to this season
    The famous BMW frontline last season of Ollie Watkins, Said Benrahma and Mbeumo plundered a staggering 57 goals between them.
    But when 25-goal Watkins was sold to Aston Villa for £33million and 17-goal Benrahma got loaned to West Ham, many feared for Brentford’s chances of mounting a serious challenge this time round.
    Yet the West Londoners responded by doing what they do best – unearthing another gem in Ivan Toney.
    The striker, signed from Peterborough for £5million, already has 16 league goals after 23 games.

    And he is on course to become the third Bees striker to hit 25 goals in consecutive seasons following Watkins and Neal Maupay before him.
    Frank said: “It’s not easy for a player to just step into a team like that. It requires a lot of team work.
    “Can you name me a club that has produced three different 25-goals-a-season strikers in consecutive years? I can’t off the top of my head.
    “He only needs nine goals and I’m confident he’ll do that.
    “His movement and finishing inside the box is great. The link-up play is really good. He has a good eye for his team-mates.
    “His hold up play in terms of his physicality is top drawer.
    “He just needs to do a little bit more work on the link-up, finishing and pressing, which has been so much better since he came here. He just needs to do that consistently.”

    Ivan Toney has been seamlessly filled Ollie Watkins’ boots since joining from Peterborough in what has turned out to be a bargain £5million deal
    Asked if he believes Toney will follow the man he has replaced, Watkins, into the top flight, Frank answered: “Yes, 100 per cent.
    “Of course, they’re slightly different. Ivan’s heading and positioning in the box is better. Ollie has a bit more pace to run in behind while Ivan can hold and link up a bit more.
    “Ivan will be in the Premier League in the future. Hopefully that’ll be with us.”
    But particularly impressive since Frank took over from Dean Smith in October 2018 has been how much better Brentford are defensively.
    They have had to rely on that this season with fewer goals being scored, which was inevitable after losing two of the best forward players in the division.

    Ivan Toney will be in the Premier League in the future. Hopefully that’ll be with us.”

    The Dane, who won the SkyBet Championship manager of the month award for December, said: “We have a massive solidness and are difficult to play against.
    “We’re adding more free-flowing football again, which we have missed. That is one thing I haven’t been happy with but we’re getting closer to where we want to be with that.”
    Brentford’s climb from mid-table League Two fodder to the brink of Premier League football has been startling – and they generally have a knack of recruiting the right managers at the right times as well as players.
    Andy Scott got them out of the bottom division, Mark Warburton took them into the Championship and almost the top flight, Dean Smith steadily improved the squad while Frank has been a resounding success since he took over.

    Danish coach Thomas Frank has done a great job since replacing Dean Smith

    So what achievement does Frank rank as the highest at Brentford?
    He said: “The culture. We have this unique togetherness where you can see that everything’s aligned from top to bottom – from the staff, players and me to the board and owner.
    “We’re all good people who work in the same direction. We have this attitude, believe in ourselves and are humble.
    “If you’re not humble, someone will run past you.
    “We also work extremely hard because you achieve nothing otherwise.
    “You must perform every day and that performance comes on and off the training pitch.
    “These bits are extremely important.
    “Beside that is our style of play where we’re clear in how we want to do it.
    “That added together and consistency reaps great results.
    “Maybe we didn’t have the margins with us last year but if we keep doing this the scoreboard will take care of itself.” More

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    Watch Arsenal transfer target Yves Bissouma score 30-yard screamer as Brighton beat Blackpool 2-1 in FA Cup fourth round

    ARSENAL target Yves Bissouma showed the Gunners exactly what he can do with a 30-yard FA Cup screamer for Brighton.
    The 24-year-old midfielder rifled home an unstoppable shot into the top corner past Blackpool keeper Chris Maxwell to give the Seagulls the lead after 24 minutes.

    Yves Bissouma let fly with a belting effort from way outside the boxCredit: Rex Features

    Bissouma’s shot flew into the top cornerCredit: AFP or licensors

    Bissouma gave Mikel Arteta a timely reminder of his undoubted ability after holders Arsenal crashed out at Southampton.
    The Mali international is a self-confessed massive Gooner and has been linked with a dream move to the Emirates.
    A source close to the star revealed he would choose the Gunners over ANY other Premier League side that came calling for his services.
    Bissouma joined Brighton from Lille in 2018 for a £15.2million fee.

    He is said to still speak regularly to former Lille team-mates and Arsenal stars Nicolas Pepe and Gabriel – who scored the own goal at St Mary’s which KO’d Arteta’s defence of the trophy.
    And the friendships could help facilitate a move to North London.
    Arteta is determined to land a creative midfielder this month with Martin Odegaard ‘one step away’ from arriving from Real Madrid and Norwich’s Emi Buendia also heavily linked.
    But a move for Bissouma looks more likely to happen at the end of the season with Dani Ceballos set to return to the Bernabeu and Granit Xhaka’s future uncertain.

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    Bissouma celebrates his super strike with Adam Webster at the AmexCredit: Reuters

    Bissouma’s worldie wasn’t enough to give Graham Potter’s side a half-time lead against The Tangerines.
    Gary Madine’s stoppage-time effort sent the sides in level at 1-1.
    But The Seagulls soon regained the lead 13 minutes after the break when Alexis Mac Allister’s long-range shot deflected off Steven Alzate’s back to wrongfoot Maxwell.
    And Brighton held on to secure their spot in the fifth round where they will face either Brentford or Leicester.
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    Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma shows off his super skills on the training pitch More

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    Erling Haaland apologises to Dortmund fans after ANOTHER loss and says ‘you deserve better’ as Marco Reus slams defence

    ERLING HAALAND accepted that Borussia Dortmund fans ‘deserve better’ after a second defeat in a row.
    The Bundesliga side are languishing in seventh place after losing 4-2 at Borussia Monchengladbach.

    Erling Haaland scored twice as Borussia Dortmund lost on Friday nightCredit: AP:Associated Press

    Monchengladbach ran out 4-2 winners at Borussia-ParkCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    A brace from the 20-year-old Norwegian marksman had put Borussia ahead before a defensive collapse allowed Gladbach back in.
    Haaland tweeted afterwards: “We will work harder to be better.
    “You fans, deserve more.”
    Gladbach boss Marco Rose is linked with taking over at Signal Iduna Park following Lucien Favre’s sacking last month.

    Erzin Terdic has taken over on an interim basis but has earned just one point from a possible nine as the team continues to slide out of European contention.
    Nico Elvedi put Gladbach ahead on Friday night before Haaland’s brace made it 2-1 by the half-hour mark.

    Both goals were set up by Jadon Sancho with the second in particular featuring fancy footwork from the England winger, as well as a one-two with Jude Bellingham.
    Haaland now has a hugely impressive record of 21 goals in 19 appearances this season, with a rate of a goal-per-game since joining the German giants.

    But as soon as Dortmund were ahead, their opponents were allowed back in with Elvedi left all alone to tap in a rebound.
    Ramy Bensebaini tricked Julian Brandt before firing home a nice finish for 3-2.

    And the hosts leapfrogged Dortmund into fifth with the win, sealed on 78 minutes by Marcus Thuram’s free header.
    Borussia favourite Marco Reus was left ruing his side’s defending, with no team outside the bottom three conceding more than his side in the past six games.
    He stated: “If we don’t turn things around, it will be difficult.
    “It’s always the same mistakes that we make. It absolutely stinks!”

    Chelsea summer transfer plans revealed with Erling Haaland and Declan Rice in and SEVEN first-team stars axed More

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    Liverpool ‘prioritise Virgil Van Dijk new deal before moving talks with Mohamed Salah’ amid transfer links away

    LIVERPOOL will reportedly prioritise tying Virgil Van Dijk down with a new deal before holding talks with Mo Salah.
    The reigning Premier League champions are keen to extend crocked centre-back Van Dijk’s contract at Anfield before turning to Salah amid rumours about his future, according to Eurosport.

    Liverpool are prioritising Virgil Van Dijks’s future over Mo SalahCredit: AFP or licensors

    The Dutch talisman, 29, is recovering from an ACL op and is still on the same terms as when he joined the club for £75million from Southampton in 2018.
    The report states it was always in Liverpool’s plan to offer him a bumper new deal this season.
    And some even suggest an agreement in principle was in place before Van Dijk’s injury.
    The former Celtic defender was KO’d by Jordan Pickford’s horror lunge in October.

    His new contract is likely to see him eclipse Salah as the Merseysiders’ highest-paid player on considerbaly more than £200,000 a week.
    Salah’s existing deal runs until 2023 and with no solid or formal offers on the table from other clubs, Liverpool aren’t thought to be too concerned about rapidly opening negotiations with their star forward.
    The club won’t be rushed into handing the Egyptian King a new deal despite reported interest from El Clasico sides Barcelona and Real Madrid.
    Salah is in the middle of a slump in form – the former Roma man has gone FIVE Prem games without a goal but is still the league’s top scorer with 13 strikes.

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    Salah is going through a goal drought for the RedsCredit: EPA

    And the 28-year-old insisted his Liverpool future is ‘in the hands of the club’ earlier this week.
    Speaking to Norwegian channel TV2, Salah said: “I do not know.
    “If you ask, I say I want to stay here as long as I can, but as I have said before, it is in the hands of the club.
    “I will always give 100 per cent to the last minute I am in this club and I want to win as many trophies as I can.
    “And I want to give 100 per cent to the people, who show me love all the time.”

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