Diego Simeone insists his faith in Diego Costa is unwavering due to the striker's work rate, even as a missed penalty cost Atletico Madrid two points at Sevilla.

Atleti recovered from a first-half deficit to draw 1-1, thanks largely to the introduction of Costa and his nuisance factor from the bench at half-time.

The former Chelsea star had a goal disallowed shortly before Alvaro Morata equalised, but he then passed up the opportunity to clinch victory and send Simeone's men top of LaLiga.

Tomas Vaclik denied Costa from 12 yards, meaning he has still scored just twice in all competitions this season.

Simeone came to his player's defence, though, saying: "Diego is at his best physical moment, taking care of himself, training, working. He works but can't find the goal.

"When someone works like Diego, there are two options: either you are with Costa or not with Costa. If you give your all, like Costa, I trust him."

Sevilla likewise could have moved to LaLiga's summit with a victory, with Barcelona beaten at Levante earlier in the day, and Simeone believes Julen Lopetegui's side can be a threat this season.

"I see them doing very well. They always compete well," he said. "They have many players, a deep squad, which means they can make changes.

"They had two injured midfielders. Fernando did not play today. If they are consistent, they will compete."

However, midfielder Koke was frustrated Atleti were not able to beat Sevilla, believing their second-half performance – with Costa in the side – deserved to be rewarded.

"Especially in the second half, we did enough to win the game," he said. "There was a goal disallowed, we had a penalty, we created chances. We left two points on the field in such a complicated game.

"We have to continue working as we did in the second half. We recovered from the Sevilla goal and, in the second half, they had absolutely nothing. This is the standard – we have to keep working.

"We want victories because LaLiga is a bit strange, the big teams are not winning games, but we have to keep working."

Diego Costa saw a penalty saved as Sevilla and Atletico Madrid each failed to capitalise on Barcelona's defeat earlier on Saturday, playing out a 1-1 draw in Diego Simeone's 300th game as a LaLiga coach.

Barca had collapsed at Levante and, with Real Madrid not in action until later in the day, the winner of this clash would top the table.

But Atleti - hailed as "one of the best five teams in the world" by Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui this week - failed to fire for 45 minutes and trailed to Franco Vazquez's header.

Costa arrived from the bench at half-time and Simeone's men started to turn the screw, equalising through Alvaro Morata.

Then Costa, who earlier saw a goal disallowed by the VAR, was denied by Tomas Vaclik with 18 minutes remaining as Atleti fell short of the three points that would take them to the summit.

Simeone had hinted at changes for this match and, after a midweek draw with Deportivo Alaves, he reverted to the XI that defeated Athletic Bilbao last week, with Morata preferred to Costa.

But chances were at a premium for both sides early on, before some uncharacteristically slack Atletico defending allowed Vazquez to nod the opener after 28 minutes.

Ever Banega delivered a free-kick from the right corner of the penalty area and Vazquez, allowed to drift into space in the middle of the box, sent a downward header beyond Jan Oblak, who got a hand to the ball and might have done better.

Costa's introduction at the interval appeared to have paid off after just 10 minutes of the second half as he towered above his marker to head into the net, yet VAR intervened as Angel Correa, supplying the cross, was marginally offside.

Sevilla were now on the back foot, though, and another move down the right soon led to the leveller as Santiago Arias - also a substitute - stood the ball up for Morata to nod in.

Luuk de Jong wastefully headed wide at the other end, before Costa was given the opportunity to seal a turnaround from 12 yards when Koke was clipped by Nemanja Gudelj as he headed away from goal on the edge of the area.

Vaclik produced an excellent stop from the firm spot-kick, however, and Sevilla held on, surviving in part thanks to a miraculous stoppage-time block from Jules Kounde on the goal line as Morata pounced on a rebound.

 

What does it mean? Atleti issues to iron out

Coming into this match, Simeone acknowledged he had not known his best XI up to this stage. That still appeared to be the case at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan. Atletico looked much better once Costa replaced Thomas Lemar, sending Correa out wide. An off-colour opening 45 minutes cost the visitors the chance to go top, although Costa's spot-kick would still have been enough.

Vaclik keeps Costa out

The twin threats of Costa and Morata were too much for Sevilla to handle, with the two men finding space in the area in quick succession for the offside goal and the equaliser that followed. But Vaclik stepped up when Costa looked to hit the net for the second time, protecting a precious point.

Oblak's aberration

As Simeone considers his options, the one man he would have expect to be able to rely on is Oblak. One of the most consistent, outstanding goalkeepers in world football, he should be disappointed with his failure to deal with Vazquez's header in a tight first half. It was the tale of two goalkeepers in Seville.

What's next?

A busy week sees Atletico travel to Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League before hosting Espanyol in LaLiga game 301 for Simeone. Sevilla play Dudelange in the Europa League ahead of their local derby at Real Betis.

Another football season is in full swing and a new edition of Football Manager is right around the corner following its beta release on Thursday.

The classic football management simulator is set for full release on November 19, but you can get early access to the beta version – which may contain bugs and issues developers Sports Interactive still need to fix – if you pre-purchase the game.

Therefore, it's time to start thinking about which club you might want to take the reins of. However, with playable leagues in over 50 countries, such a decision can often feel a little daunting.

Do you fancy yourself as a miracle worker who can take a tiny club to the Champions League final? Want to test yourself with a newly promoted side in a top league? Or how about managing an established club amid a rebuild?

Whichever's your preference, we've identified six clubs we can't wait to leave our mark on...


Norwich City - Premier League

Football Manager and developing young players go hand-in-hand, so Norwich City will surely be the first port of call for many. With Emi Buendia, Todd Cantwell, Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis and Ben Godfrey, the Canaries have one of the strongest sets of young players in the Premier League, having returned after three years in the Championship. They've also attracted significant praise for their stylish brand of football under Daniel Farke over the past couple of years, something you might aim to emulate. Avoiding relegation will be the target, but their talent gives them a real platform to build on.


Stuttgart - 2.Bundesliga

A former Bundesliga-winning outfit that have fallen on hard times, Stuttgart suffered relegation to the second tier for the second time in four seasons in 2018-19. Last time, they bounced back at the first attempt - and they have the talent to do so again, given they managed to keep the likes of Santiago Ascacibar and Nicolas Gonzalez. The German club have a strong fanbase, massive stadium, history and a well-regarded academy. If you can steer them back on track, you could potentially awaken a sleeping giant.
 

Salford City - League Two

Backed by the wealthy Peter Lim and the Class of '92 crew and into the Football League for the first time in their history, Salford City represent an intriguing option in Football Manager 2020, particularly if you like the idea of taking a club from the lower leagues to the top but want a little helping hand at the start. There are few – if any – small clubs in England with comparable potential.


Paris FC - Ligue 2

That's right, France's capital has another club. Formed due to a split from Paris-Saint Germain in the early 1970s, Paris FC's history is rather less glamorous than their world-famous, Qatar-backed neighbours. They have yet to return to the top flight since their relegation in 1978-79, but last season's fourth-placed finish in Ligue 2 showed promise, even if they lost to Lens in the promotion play-offs. With €7million being poured into their facilities and the fact they're located in a city drowning in young talent, it might be a risky job to take but the rewards could be glorious. Their position at the foot of the table with eight points from 12 games in real life proves you might have your work cut out, however.
 

Sevilla - LaLiga

Revered sporting director Monchi is back at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan and, after two years of relative underachievement in his absence, Sevilla's squad has been truly ripped up. Thirteen new players – including highly rated Jules Kounde and Rony Lopes – have arrived and eight departed on permanent deals. Several others left on loan, yet it's still a squad bursting at the seams, meaning there's potential to build up a decent budget as well. European football should ensure you still attract decent additions, while the club's academy is well-regarded. But with so much upheaval, is Champions League football a bridge too far? Because that'll be your target.


FC Andorra - Segunda B3

Although they should be competing in Spain's Tercera Division, FC Andorra – yes, from the country of the same name, as opposed to Spain – find themselves in Segunda B for the first time since the 1990s. Bought by Gerard Pique last December, the club paid a substantial fee to take the place of Reus in the third tier after they were relegated two divisions for failing to pay player wages. Getting out of Segunda B is a notoriously arduous task given there are only four promotion spots between 80 teams in four groups of 20, but defying such odds might be the challenge some desire.

Atletico Madrid are one of the five best teams in the world, according to Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui.

Sevilla and Atletico sit level on 20 points – a total matched by Granada and two fewer than LaLiga leaders Barcelona – ahead of their meeting at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Saturday.

Diego Simeone's side have won just four of their previous 11 matches in all competitions and head into this weekend’s fixture off the back of a 1-1 draw at Deportivo Alaves.

Lopetegui has no doubt about Atleti's quality, though, and expects them to pose the same challenge they always do.

"Atletico Madrid are one of the five best teams in the world," the Sevilla boss told a pre-match news conference on Friday.

"I expect a very tough game, as always against Atletico. It will be very complex because of the quality and intensity they put into everything they do.

"Atleti can do many different things and when they press, they do it very well.

"Simeone's work is beyond doubt. It is unthinkable to be at the level he has been at, and for this length of time. He is doing a fantastic job."

Simeone suggested he could make changes to his Atletico set-up based upon what he has seen from his team in recent weeks.

"We have a broader picture now of what each player gives us," said Simeone. "The coach ends up executing things based on what the on-field actions say.

"We can't move away from what the pitch shows. The on-pitch matters show things that we have to follow. It's what the team needs.

"We're at a stage where we need to keep improving based on games, work, training and competition. That shows you the reality."

Sergio Reguilon insists he left Real Madrid "on good terms" despite others making the decision to loan him to Sevilla for the season.

Reguilon, 22, broke into Madrid's first-team squad last season, usurping Marcelo as first-choice left-back for a period in the second half of the season under Santiago Solari, his former Castilla coach.

The left-back soon found himself playing back-up again once Zinedine Zidane returned and restored Marcelo to the starting XI in March, while the pre-season signing of Ferland Mendy from Lyon saw Reguilon's hopes of first-team football diminish even further.

Sevilla are coached by Julen Lopetegui, who initially promoted Reguilon to Madrid's first team during a short-lived spell for the coach at the Santiago Bernabeu last year, and the Andalusian club secured the full-back's arrival on a season-long loan in July.

Reguilon has been a revelation for Sevilla, starting seven of their eight LaLiga matches.

His impressive performances resulted in a first call-up to Spain's senior squad for October's Euro 2020 qualifiers against Norway and Sweden, suggesting Reguilon could have been an asset to Madrid this term, though he feels entirely at ease with his parent club.

"I have a very clear conscience because I left everything out there [on the pitch] for Real Madrid," Reguilon told AS.

"Others made that decision [to loan Reguilon] and I can't do anything but do my job to the very best. It's what I did in Madrid and I try to do it now at Sevilla.

"I left Madrid on good terms, I wasn't mad at anyone. Everything was a mutual agreement. I am an academy player and I owe everything to Madrid. It's impossible for me to leave in a bad way.

"I want to do my best at Sevilla and that's my only concern. The best way to make it difficult for Zidane is to play well for Sevilla.

"My plan is to run, perform and give everything in every game and next year, whatever happens will happen."

Reguilon is expected to return to Madrid at the end of the season as Sevilla do not have a purchase option.

Ousmane Dembele will miss the first Clasico of the season after being handed a two-match ban by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

The Barcelona winger was sent off in the closing minutes of the 4-0 LaLiga win over Sevilla last Sunday after confronting referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz, who had just given debutant Ronald Araujo a red card for a foul on Javier Hernandez.

According to the referee's match report, Dembele said to him, "Very bad, you are very bad", as Barca players surrounded him to argue against Araujo's dismissal.

Barca appealed against Dembele's red card but the RFEF has dismissed their case and given the France international a two-game ban.

He will therefore sit out the trip to Eibar on October 19 and then the visit of Real Madrid to Camp Nou on October 26.

Araujo has been banned for one game, as has Gerard Pique, who has collected five bookings this season. Both will be available to face Madrid.

Dembele has made three LaLiga appearances this season and scored his first goal of 2019-20 in the defeat of Sevilla.

Barca are two points behind league leaders Real Madrid after eight matches.

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde was left pondering Ousmane Dembele's red card at the end of his side's rout of Sevilla, claiming the Frenchman's grasp of Spanish would have restricted the words that led to his dismissal.

Dembele was sent off two minutes from time for protesting the red card shown to Barcelona debutant Ronald Araujo in Sunday's 4-0 LaLiga victory, and Valverde said the late disciplinary flurry did not reflect the manner of the game.

Barca cruised to their fourth consecutive win in all competitions, scoring three goals in eight first-half minutes before captain Lionel Messi added a fourth with a second-half free-kick.

Valverde praised his side's incisive forward play after the champions moved within two points of top spot thanks to goals from Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal, Dembele and Messi.

"We have had more punch than them, there is the key," Valverde told reporters afterwards.

"The result is substantial, but we don't have to be forgiving to our rivals.

"The red cards? It's the referee's decision. Everyone has their opinion. I've seen a pretty clean game.

"It didn't seem like Araujo's fault, but I always see everything in favour of my team.

"I don't know what Dembele may have said to the referee but I don't think it's a long sentence because it's hard to hear him speak Spanish."

Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui hailed his side's bright start, in which Luuk de Jong squandered three good opportunities to put the visitors ahead.

But Barcelona's dominance thereafter leaves Sevilla with three defeats from their last four LaLiga matches and Lopetegui felt the result at Camp Nou was harsh on his players.

"The first 30 to 35 minutes were ours," said Lopetegui. "We had very clear chances and we didn't score. And in such a scenario when you don't take advantage, the laws of football take effect."

Lionel Messi scored his 100th goal from outside the box for Barcelona as he helped the LaLiga champions past Sevilla.

Messi netted a trademark free-kick in the second half as Barca routed Sevilla 4-0 at Camp Nou on Sunday.

The Barca captain curled a set-piece past Sevilla goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik with 12 minutes remaining to complete the scoring.

Messi's first goal of the season was his 43rd successful free-kick as the five-time Ballon d'Or winner and recipient of The Best FIFA Men's Player award celebrated a century milestone.

The 32-year-old superstar also became the first player to score in 16 consecutive LaLiga seasons in the 21st century.

Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele scored memorable goals for Barcelona as Ernesto Valverde's decision to drop Antoine Griezmann was vindicated in a 4-0 victory over Sevilla.

While their €120million signing among the substitutes, Suarez's acrobatic overhead kick got the LaLiga champions off the mark, Arturo Vidal polished off a sublime passing move with the second and Dembele scored a solo effort to all but end the contest.

Lionel Messi wrapped up the win with a curling second-half free-kick and the synergy between Barcelona's front three, which has not always clicked with Griezmann involved, will not have been lost on Valverde.

The match ended in unsavoury fashion for the Catalans, though, who saw debutant Ronald Araujo and Dembele sent off shortly before injury time.

Luuk de Jong received good service from Lucas Ocampos in the early stages but he fluffed three chances put Sevilla ahead before Suarez broke the deadlock with a moment of magic 27 minutes in.

The Uruguay marksman watched Nelson Semedo's cross loop through the air and met it with an overhead kick into the bottom corner of the net before goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik could react.

The goal settled the hosts and five minutes later a move that incorporated 25 passes and all 11 Barcelona players culminated in Arthur's weighted ball, which allowed Vidal to slide in and glance a shot past Vaclik.

Dembele made it 3-0 inside eight first-half minutes when his slaloming run tore through Sevilla's defence, the 22-year-old opening his body and side-footing in at the far post.

The second half started just like the first, with De Jong squandering a great chance to score when he drilled a shot against the post from just inside the Barca box.

The hosts were soon back on top and Messi twice surged through Sevilla's midfield before putting the finishing touches on a fine win with a dipping, curling free-kick 12 minutes from time.

Valverde sent on Araujo for his debut, which turned sour when he was judged to have fouled Javier Hernandez as the Sevilla forward went through on goal and was shown a red card along with Dembele, who was sent off for his protests.

 

What does it mean? Barca go second

After Atletico Madrid were held to a goalless draw at Real Valladolid, Barcelona took full advantage and claimed a result that moved them up to second place in the table, two points behind leaders Real Madrid.

Frenkie says 'Relax!'

A run of mixed results in August and September left Valverde under pressure but his players looked calm and assured here, none more so than Frenkie de Jong, who looks every inch the composed midfield lynchpin to succeed Sergio Busquets – a second-half substitute here.

No luck for Luuk

While Barca's De Jong barely put a foot wrong his Sevilla namesake had a torrid evening, the centre-forward missing four clear chances to give the visitors a foothold in the game.

What's next?

Barcelona will hope to extend their winning run to five matches in all competitions by beating Eibar away from home on October 19, while Sevilla aim to get back on course as they entertain Levante a day later.

Ansu Fati is back in the Barcelona squad for Sunday's visit of Sevilla, while Jordi Alba also returns after almost three weeks out.

Fati, 16, missed Barca's wins over Getafe and Inter in the past week with a knee injury, having made a fine impact at the start of the campaign despite his tender age.

However, he has been given the all-clear to return to action and is named in the squad to face Sevilla – whose academy he represented as a child – at Camp Nou this weekend.

Left-back Alba is back in contention as well having been out since mid-September, when he suffered a hamstring strain against Borussia Dortmund.

Barca are almost at full strength, with only injured duo Samuel Umtiti and Junior Firpo and the suspended Clement Lenglet unable to feature.

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are fit for Barcelona but Ernesto Valverde's focus is on getting his star forwards fully up to speed. 

Suarez scored both Barca goals in a comeback victory at home to Inter in the Champions League in midweek with Messi, whose season has been plagued by injury, setting up the second at the end of an excellent run. 

Barca's indifferent start to their LaLiga title defence has not been helped by injuries to both forwards, with Valverde's side five points behind leaders Real Madrid heading into their encounter with Sevilla. 

Neither Messi or Suarez will play for Argentina or Uruguay for the upcoming internationals, with Valverde acknowledging it presents him with an opportunity to get the duo back up to their full capacity. 

"Of course they are fit again, they showed that [against Inter]," Valverde told a news conference ahead of a meeting with Sevilla at Camp Nou. 

"I will decide on Sunday whether I start one or the other or bring them on later. They are two players who have struggled with injuries this season but the more they play the more form they will get.  

"We like the players to be picked for international duty because it means they're not injured, because it means they're playing at their top level. 

"There are not many players for us going this international break - that's not necessarily a bad thing. 

"It means we will have a more complete squad for training and can work on certain things. But after that fortnight we've got important matches in LaLiga and the Champions League and we need to be ready for those. 

"We're doing well. We've hit on a good run, now we're playing a very strong team, the aim is to keep moving forward." 

Barca have been without Jordi Alba since the left-back sustained a hamstring injury in the Champions League draw with Borussia Dortmund on September 17, but Valverde confirmed the Spain international is back in contention. 

"Not having a specific left-footed full-back is unnatural," said Valverde, who has also been shorn of Junior Firpo due to a hamstring problem. 

"The players who have had to play there have done well, the players are used to this kind of thing but we'll see if Jordi can recover. 

"We'll wait but it's certainly a possibility. He's not been declared fully fit yet, he did part of training the other day. He certainly felt fine but we'll wait to see how things go." 

Alba was later included in a 19-man squad by Valverde, with Ansu Fati also returning from injury.

Julen Lopetegui acknowledged Barcelona are a better team with a fit Lionel Messi, but insisted his Sevilla side can come away from Camp Nou with a positive result.

Messi completed his first 90 minutes of an injury-plagued campaign in Wednesday's 2-1 Champions League win against Inter.

The 32-year-old has started just two games this season because of calf and adductor problems but is in contention to play against Sevilla, a side he has scored 36 goals against in all competitions.

Lopetegui is more concerned about what he can control, however, with Sevilla heading into the match in Catalonia level on points with the reigning champions.

"I want to focus on my own players," he said at Saturday's pre-match news conference. "Barcelona are a great team and, if Messi is involved, they will be better because he can only improve the team.

"But we will try to give a great version of ourselves. We will go there with enthusiasm, desire and ambition. It's a game that will demand the best from us."

Sevilla have won just one of their last 24 LaLiga games against Barcelona and Lopetegui is fully aware of the size of the task awaiting his side.

"I hope for the best Barcelona," said the former Spain and Real Madrid boss. "They are at a great level and we are sure to see a great team, very good players and a very well-directed side. I have no doubt what we will find.

"Every game has to be played and we have to try to compete in the best way. The games have many moments and we have to know how to adapt and compete. That's where we have to focus".

Revered sporting director Antonio Cordon was frustrated at Monaco in 2017.

Having just seen the club win Ligue 1, it was becoming apparent he had less control over player sales than he previously believed. He quit almost exactly a year after he had joined.

Although the Spaniard had no shortage of offers after departing Stade Louis II, with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Chelsea among his admirers, he opted for a rather more curious option.

Had a Granada fan been told at the time the highly regarded former Villarreal transfer guru was about to become an influential figure in the second-tier side's future, they'd have assumed you'd just fallen head-first from a Sierra Nevada peak.

Yet two years on, Cordon has again displayed his brilliance with Granada not only in LaLiga, but heading into Saturday's game at Real Madrid second in the table and just a point behind Zinedine Zidane's league leaders having already beaten Barcelona 2-0 as part of their best start to a top-flight season.

Hope springs eternal

Jiang Lizhang's first season as Granada owner culminated in relegation with just 20 points in 2016-17. Change was desperately needed but, luckily, the Chinese businessman's plans were already in place.

"Hope Group was established to manage the sporting activity of not just Granada, but also other clubs Jiang's invested in, such as Parma, Tondela and Chongqing Lifan. Leading things at Hope is Antonio Cordon," Heath Chesters – a fan and former Granada club journalist – told Omnisport.

"Cordon brought in Fran Sanchez to run the sports management at Granada. Between them they started the rebuild."

Although not one to bask in media attention, Cordon is a hugely respected figure in European football having spent 17 years at Villarreal and playing a vital role in turning them from a second-tier side into one of Spain's most prominent clubs.

Scout, chief scout, sporting director – Cordon's influence at Villarreal was huge, marking himself out as a shrewd talent-spotter. Now he is helping oversee several clubs at once via Hope Group.

The new system needed 2017-18 as a settling period, but they have gone from strength to strength ever since.

Jobs for locals

"Hope's aim was to focus mainly on Spanish players and particularly those from Andalusia," Chesters adds of the club's recruitment strategy.

Nine of Granada's squad are Andalusia born-and raised, while Yan Eteki, Ramon Azeez and Aaron Escandell all came through academies in the southern region.

Hope created a centralised scouting department to give their clubs access to data, tools and information that otherwise might be out of their reach financially. That certainly appears to be paying off with Granada, who finished second in La Segunda last term.

"Something that has been overlooked by much of the media is the quality of signings, both last season in Segunda and this season preparing for LaLiga," Chesters adds. "The biggest credit for the sports directive and Diego Martinez [coach] working in unison, is they signed pretty much all of their primary targets this pre-season.

"All clubs have their shopping lists, but how many actually get to sign practically all those they've targeted? Granada did that and, for the most part, that effort has gone under the radar."

Martinez the inspiration

But for all the planning and Hope Group's influence, there's no doubt who the main catalyst has been in the eyes of supporters.

"Speak to any fan and they'll say Granada's rise has everything to do with Diego Martinez," Chesters continues. "It's his sense of humility and teamwork, plus a strong family atmosphere, which has been the biggest change."

He secured an unexpected promotion back to LaLiga in his first season, earning many admirers in the process as his side went up with the best defence in the division.

Martinez spent the formative years of his coaching career at Sevilla. In eight seasons, he coached the 'C' team, guided the academy to a first ever league success, worked as assistant to Unai Emery and then took charge of the 'B' team – Sevilla Atletico – in 2014.

It was with Sevilla Atletico when he caught the attentions of other clubs, masterminding their shock promotion to La Segunda and keeping them up in 13th. They even had a spell between October 30 and December 9 when they didn't drop below fourth.

An underwhelming one-season stay at Osasuna did little to dent his burgeoning reputation and he has been the perfect fit for Granada.

"He transmits his belief, enthusiasm and encouragement to the players, and they've responded magnificently," Chesters enthused. "Most fascinating to see is interviews with every player, all praising his leadership, sharing his vision and philosophy. It's created the most unified group I think I've ever seen at Granada in 15 years following the club."

With Cordon and Martinez working in harmony, the sky is the limit. Next stop, the Santiago Bernabeu.

After requesting a move away from Paris Saint-Germain, who would have thought Neymar could be in line to sign a contract extension?

Neymar was determined to return to LaLiga champions Barcelona but a deal did not materialise prior to the transfer window closing.

Now, Neymar's long-term future could be in Paris…

 

TOP STORY – PSG HOPEFUL OF EXTENDING NEYMAR CONTRACT

Paris Saint-Germain are hopeful of signing superstar Neymar to a new contract, reports Le10Sport.

LaLiga champions Barcelona were in talks to re-sign Neymar from PSG after the Brazilian's world-record €222million transfer in 2017, however, an agreement could not be reached.

Neymar, though, has reportedly held talks with PSG over extending his contract in the French capital.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Sun says Manchester United will target Juventus veteran Mario Mandzukic in January. The 33-year-old Croatian was linked with a move to Old Trafford before the window shut. But with United facing a crisis following injuries to Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial after Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez's exits, the Red Devils are believed to be weighing up Mandzukic.

AC Milan turned down the chance to sign Chelsea sensation Tammy Abraham, according to Tuttomercatoweb. The 21-year-old has already scored seven Premier League goals this season. However, Milan reportedly pulled the plug on the deal due to his apparent inexperience at the top level.

United and Juventus are reportedly scouting Brescia midfielder Sandro Tonali. According to Gazzetta dello Sport, a United scout was in attendance for Tuesday's Serie A clash between Brescia and Juve. Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund are also reportedly eyeing the 19-year-old.

Napoli are in talks with centre-back Nikola Maksimovic over a new long-term contract, reports Corriere dello Sport.

- Sky Sports claims Atletico Madrid are tracking Boca Juniors sensation Agustin Almendra. LaLiga rivals Sevilla and Valencia have also reportedly inquired about the 19-year-old.

Zinedine Zidane admitted the 1-0 win over Sevilla on Sunday left him more satisfied than any of the results he has achieved in his second spell at the Real Madrid helm.

Madrid head coach Zidane had come in for increasing scrutiny following the 3-0 Champions League loss to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, but Karim Benzema's second-half header against Sevilla meant they returned to winning ways in LaLiga.

Sevilla had won the previous four LaLiga encounters between the two in Andalusia, but they were unable to muster a single shot on target, with Madrid boosted by captain Sergio Ramos' return to their defence.

Asked by Movistar if it was the best game of his second stint having returned in March, Zidane replied: "Yes, it is the game that leaves me the most satisfied since I came back.

"They have all helped each other on the field. We had complicated moments, but the solidarity that existed in those moments is obvious. This field is difficult."

Madrid trio Eden Hazard, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale all failed to impress in an attacking sense in the victory, though Zidane was quick to highlight the other side of their games.

"We know we can create danger, but everyone's defensive work has been the key to winning," Zidane added.

"The three in particular have done it defending a lot. In a difficult game like today, everything had to be done."

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