Lionel Messi will draw the crowds in their droves despite fears over ticket sales for the Supercopa de Espana in Saudi Arabia, insists Juan Antonio Pizzi.

Reports suggest a fraction of the tickets allocated to the four competing clubs – Real Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Atletico Madrid and Valencia – have been sold ahead of the opening game on Wednesday.

The first fixture sees Valencia face Zinedine Zidane's side, with Barcelona taking on Atletico in the second semi-final on Thursday.

And Pizzi, who played for Barcelona between 1996-98 and recently had a spell in charge of the Saudi Arabia national team, is confident the venues will be full for all of the matches.

"I have no doubt," he told Marca.

"They're aware of how much it means to have the four best teams in Spain and four of the best in the world. It's exceptional for them, like a party.

"Also, you have to keep in mind Messi is there, who's a person they admire and recognise, so seeing him on the pitch will be a big deal for them.

"They fill grounds and love the sport. The level isn't like Europe yet, and they know that, but that's why they're investing so much and it's why they follow European football so much.

"Every weekend they watch LaLiga, the Premier League and even the Bundesliga."

Pizzi, who won a top-flight title with Barca in 1998, said his old club have to be considered favourites but warned of the threat Diego Simeone's men will carry.

"Barcelona are a favourite in every competition they play," he said. "But it's one match, so anything can happen. Atletico are a very strong team, too, and they're hard to score against. It's an attractive semi-final."

Inter are seemingly nearing an agreement with Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen, reports say.

The Denmark international is out of contract at the end of the season and has also been linked with a move away from Spurs in January.

Inter are among the clubs reportedly interested in Eriksen and it seems the Serie A high-flyers are close to a deal.

 

TOP STORY – INTER IN ADVANCED TALKS WITH ERIKSEN

Inter are in advanced talks with Eriksen for a move ahead of the 2020-21 season, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira.

However, he reports Spurs are looking to sell Eriksen in January for at least €20million (£17m).

Amid uncertainty over his future, Eriksen has made just nine Premier League starts for Tottenham this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at San Siro, multiple reports suggest Inter are eyeing Manchester United veteran Ashley Young. Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano reports Inter and United are in advanced talks regarding the 34-year-old.

- Georginio Wijnaldum has been linked with a surprise move from Liverpool, with his contract expiring in 2021. However, Sky Sports reports the Netherlands international is happy at the European champions and wants to stay as long as possible.

- Arsenal are looking to strengthen in January, but the Premier League club are considering loan deals. Goal reports Arsenal are unlikely to make any permanent signings this month, unless an opportunity is too good to turn down.

- In a Premier League relegation battle and with injuries mounting, Aston Villa have held talks with Milan over possible deals for forward Krzysztof Piatek and goalkeeper Pepe Reina, according to the Daily Mail. Villa lost Wesley and Tom Heaton for the rest of the season to begin the year.

- Wilfried Zaha still looks set to leave Crystal Palace. The star's agent is said to have held preliminary talks with Bayern Munich, although a move to the Bundesliga giants is unlikely, according to Sky Sports. The Mirror reports Zaha's new agent, Pini Zahavi, is also trying to get the attacker to Tottenham.

- There continues to be talk about a possible move to Tottenham for Thomas Lemar. The Independent reports Spurs are considering making a loan approach for the Atletico Madrid midfielder, with a £51million (€60m) option to buy.

Wolves star Adama Traore is reportedly attracting interest from Liverpool, Barcelona and Manchester City.

Traore, formerly of Barcelona, has continued to impress this season, helping Wolves sit seventh in the Premier League.

Now, the former Spain youth international is reportedly being targeted by three of Europe's biggest clubs.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL, BARCELONA & MAN CITY EYE TRAORE

Liverpool, Barcelona and Manchester City are interested in signing Traore, according to 90min.

Traore has scored four goals and provided four assists in the Premier League this season.

The report says Wolves want at least £70million for Traore.

 

ROUND-UP

- Dani Olmo is expected to leave Dinamo Zagreb and is being eyed by several European giants. Goal reports Barcelona lead Chelsea and Manchester United in the race for the 21-year-old Spain international.

- Arturo Vidal is linked with a move to Inter, but he may be going nowhere. The cover of Sport reads 'You stay', with the report saying Barcelona have told the midfielder he will remain with the LaLiga giants due to his importance to the club.

- Chelsea have identified their top January transfer target. The Daily Express reports the Premier League side want Inter forward Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa this month to ease the pressure on Tammy Abraham.

- Inter are considering reinforcements on the left-hand side. CalcioMercato says Chelsea's Marcos Alonso and Parma's Matteo Darmian are both being considered by the Serie A high-flyers.

- It seems Edinson Cavani's time at Paris Saint-Germain is just about over. Gianluca Di Marzio reports Atletico Madrid and Cavani have an agreement in place and the LaLiga club want the forward to arrive in January.

- Wojciech Szczesny is set to extend his stay at Juventus. The goalkeeper will re-sign with the Serie A giants until 2024, according to CalcioMercato.

So, 19 games in and the big three are exactly where you would expect them to be in the LaLiga table.

Saturday saw all three teams in action following the resumption of top-flight action in Spain, with leaders Barcelona conceding late to lowly Espanyol as they were held to a 2-2 draw in an entertaining derby.

While Barca remain on top, Real Madrid are now level on points with their rivals after a 3-0 triumph away at Getafe. As for Atletico Madrid, they overcame Levante 2-1 at home to make it four wins on the spin in all competitions, keeping them in touch with the top two ahead of what could be an intriguing battle (after all, Sevilla are level on points with Atleti, too).

There has not been a genuine title race in the competition since Real Madrid were crowned champions in 2016-17. After processions in the previous two seasons, Barca look to have a fight on their hands to retain the trophy.

We take a look at the state of play for all three of Spain's big guns as they prepare to halt league duties temporarily again at the halfway stage, this time to take part in the Supercopa de Espana in Saudi Arabia.

 

1. BARCELONA (40 PTS)

Positives: Lionel Messi, of course. The Argentina forward has, not for the first time, dragged his team-mates along in games. Luis Suarez continues to be productive – he brilliantly made one goal and scored the other against Espanyol – and Barca are comfortably the competition's leading scorers, even if Antoine Griezmann has, so far, failed to fully deliver since his big-money move to Camp Nou. The development of Ansu Fati, whose meteoric rise has helped cover for Ousmane Dembele's absences, has been an undoubted plus, too.

Negatives: What difference has Valverde really made to the team he inherited from Luis Enrique in 2017? Back-to-back league titles is an impressive achievement, obviously, but stunning Champions League exits to Roma and Liverpool in the previous two seasons weigh heavily on his shoulders. As for the team itself, the strong spine that has been a characteristic of Barca for many seasons is starting to feel the strain. Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets are no longer at the peak of their powers and they have already shipped 23 league goals. Valverde also needs to work out his best combination in midfield, though he may have to wait until Arthur is fit to settle on an ideal line-up.

2. REAL MADRID (40 PTS)

Positives:  It has not been plain sailing for Zidane in his second spell in charge, with the first half of the campaign including a hammering against Paris Saint-Germain in Europe and a humbling at the hands of Real Mallorca. Still, he has built from the back, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois regaining his form to back up a defence that has conceded just 12 times in LaLiga. At the other end, Karim Benzema continues to lead the way, scoring 12 times and also providing five assists, while Federico Valverde has developed into such a consistently strong midfielder that talk of signing Paul Pogba has quietened, if only a little.

Negatives: Benzema cannot be relied on to do all the heavy lifting. Eden Hazard has only been able to show flashes of his talent since joining from Chelsea, the Belgium forward hampered by injuries, while Gareth Bale has been in and out of the team. Rodrygo Goes has shown flashes of promise, seeing him overtake fellow Brazilian Vinicius Junior in the pecking order. It feels as if an era will soon come to an end at Madrid, but an ageing squad knows how to prevail in the big moments. This could well be the last hurrah for some big names in the Spanish capital – do they have the stamina to go the distance and finish as champions?


3. ATLETICO MADRID (35 PTS)

Positives: No matter who they buy, and no matter what happens in friendlies (remember Atleti stuck seven past Real Madrid in a pre-season fixture last July), this still has all the trademarks of a Diego Simeone side. Some of the familiar old faces may have gone but they remain solid in defence and workmanlike going forward. Simeone builds his teams from the back – and this current version have only given up 12 goals, even while bedding in new players. Alvaro Morata has stepped up in the absence of Diego Costa, who appeared to be in a state of decline prior to his current injury, and they do have a plethora of hard-working midfielders to rotate down the stretch.

Negatives: Goals. Well, a lack of them actually. Morata is their leading scorer in the league with nine, ahead of Angel Correa on three, and next on the list is Joao Felix with two, but the Portuguese forward has started 2020 stuck in a drought. Atleti have managed to find the net 22 times in 19 games, which perhaps explains why they have been linked with moves for Edinson Cavani and Paco Alcacer during the January window. Plus, for all their focus on keeping clean sheets, they still have to lean on the outstanding Jan Oblak at times to make key saves. The goalkeeper demonstrated as much against Levante, twice denying the visitors in the closing stages to preserve a slender lead at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Jan Oblak is the best goalkeeper in the world and Atletico Madrid have him to thank for ensuring they held on for a 2-1 victory over Levante on Saturday, head coach Diego Simeone said.

Slovenia international Oblak showed incredible reactions to keep out a header from Enis Bardhi in the 93rd minute of the clash at the Wanda Metropolitano.

The keeper has saved 14 of the past 17 shots on target he has faced in LaLiga, including the last two against Levante.

Atletico have now won four games on the trot in all competitions and Simeone was full of praise for Oblak, although he was frustrated to have to rely on the 26-year-old after a string of wasted chances at the other end.

"For us he is the best in the world. He's one of our captains. He was there when it mattered most, but the last save was one of a player that wins you games," said Simeone.

"He gave us the possibility of winning a match that we should have finished off before.

"The headline is Oblak saved Atletico, but we would have saved it if we'd taken our chances before.

"I do not decide who wins a prize or not. It is unfair to talk about other goalkeepers, but it's clear that for us he is the best goalkeeper in the world."

Felipe's first LaLiga goal helped in-form Atletico Madrid to a 2-1 home win over Levante.

Three goals during a manic five-minute spell in the first half settled the match but did not typify an otherwise tepid encounter at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Angel Correa scored for the second straight game and while Roger Marti's ninth league goal of the season pulled Levante level, Felipe settled it with a powerful header.

Atletico now have four consecutive victories across all competitions and moved back to within five points of city rivals Real Madrid, while the result ended a three-match winning streak for Levante.

The hosts almost scored in the first minute on Saturday when Correa's shot was saved, Joao Felix and Saul Niguez then unable to convert follow-up attempts.

But Atletico opened the scoring after 13 minutes when Thomas Partey found Kieran Trippier on the right and the defender's volleyed cross was converted by Correa's superb first-time finish.

Roger replied three minutes later when his volley deflected in off the arm of Alvaro Morata after he had latched on to Jose Campana's free-kick.

Atletico swiftly got back in front, though, Renan Lodi whipping in a left-wing delivery that Felipe impressively headed in from 12 yards out, his effort coming just 109 seconds after Roger's strike.

Correa's shot forced a good one-handed saved from Aitor Fernandez shortly before the break and the Levante goalkeeper also kept out an effort from Joao Felix just before the hour mark.

Joao Felix also fired wide from the edge of the area late on but Atletico were still able to hold on for victory in relative comfort, albeit Jan Oblak had to make two late saves to deny Enis Bardhi.

 

What does it mean? Atletico's poor run behind them

Atletico have won four straight games for the first time this season and have clearly overcome their dreadful run that saw them taste victory in just one of the previous eight.

Four straight wins and eight goals have Diego Simeone's men in better shape, but there remains plenty of work to do before the Madrid derby on February 1.

Felipe fabulous for Atletico

As well as scoring his first LaLiga goal, Felipe tested goalkeeper Fernandez with another aerial effort and recorded game-high totals for interceptions (4) and clearances (8).

Joao Felix frustrated once again

The Portuguese forward came into the match having played 572 minutes in LaLiga without scoring or providing an assist. Despite Simeone giving him 87 minutes, that dreadful run continued as he mustered only one shot on target and did not create a single opportunity for his team-mates.

What's next?

Atletico will take momentum into their meeting with Barcelona in the Supercopa de Espana in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, while Levante do not play until a Copa del Rey tie with Real Jaen on January 12.

Real Madrid are said to be close to signing yet another rising Brazilian star.

Zinedine Zidane's side have reportedly agreed a fee for Flamengo's Reinier, who could move to Spain this month.

Chelsea, meanwhile, may have to wait until after the season has finished until their top targets become available.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID TO SIGN REINIER FOR €30M

According to widespread reports, Real Madrid are close to finalising a deal to sign Flamengo's Reinier.

The 17-year-old could move to the Spanish capital in January and spend the rest of the season with Raul's Castilla team.

Reinier, who turns 18 on January 19 and will therefore become an easier deal to complete, will apparently cost €30m plus potential add-ons.

ROUND-UP

 - Chelsea want to sign Jadon Sancho and Timo Werner, but the Premier League club know they are likely to have to wait until the end of the season to complete the deals, according to Goal.

- Elsewhere in London, Sky Sports say West Ham have held talks with Benfica midfielder Gedson Fernandes, a reported target for Manchester United. David Moyes said of the club's interest: "He is a name mentioned alongside many."

Inter are the latest team to be interested in Christian Eriksen, say Tuttomercatoweb. Directors Giuseppe Marotta and Piero Ausilio want to close the deal quickly but Tottenham's £30m asking price is a problem.

Nikola Kalinic has been offered to Newcastle United as he has struggled for football since joining Roma on loan from Atletico Madrid, say Marca.

- Still with Marca, Real Madrid have apparently earmarked three Lille players as potential signings for 2020: Boubakary Soumare, Victor Osimhen and Gabriel.

- Sky Sports claim Jan Vertonghen is now more likely to join Napoli from Tottenham this month, as Ajax have apparently cooled their interest in their former defender.

- David Beckham's Inter Miami are set to appoint a new coach in the form of Anthony Pulis, the son of ex-Stoke City boss Tony. Pulis will work as assistant to Diego Alonso, say The Telegraph.

Atletico Madrid winger Thomas Lemar has not lived up to expectations at the club, according to head coach Diego Simeone.

The 24-year-old, who joined in a €70million deal from Monaco in July 2018, has struggled for consistent form in LaLiga.

The France international has been heavily linked with a possible move to Arsenal this month, although a hamstring injury could complicate any potential mid-season transfer.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's league meeting with Levante, Simeone did not state whether Lemar could be allowed to leave in the January window but did admit the player's performances have been something of a disappointment.

"Facts speak better than words. Lemar is an important player who hasn't been able to develop his game but who has characteristics that others don't have," Simeone told a news conference. "Let's hope he has a good moment when he comes back from injury.

"Now, if Lemar can stay or not... we know that agents work in an exemplary way. Clubs work in terms of the needs of the clubs. But, as a footballer, every time he has been available, he's played a lot more than he hasn't played.

"His characteristics have always excited me. But he hasn't been able to live up to expectations."

Atleti have been linked with moves for striker such as Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani and Borussia Dortmund's Paco Alcacer, having found it difficult to score enough goals this season.

Simeone is open to transfers but is not prepared to discuss players who do not play for Atleti.

"Like every year, there is the possibility of players leaving or arriving in January," he said. "We've spoken to the club about this, about the situation that we have and when [the chances of signing players] happen, if they happen, we'll find out.

"What concerns me is what happens against Levante. Aside from the game we're playing, the club knows what we've been talking about and will work to bring the best to the club and the team."

When pressed on interest in Cavani, he added: "I don't talk about players who aren't in our squad."

Atleti are fourth in LaLiga after 18 games, seven points behind leaders Barcelona.

Manchester United have identified James Maddison or Jack Grealish as their top January transfer targets.

With Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay injured, United have concerns in midfield to begin 2020.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said United were looking at "one or two" January additions, and it appears their targets are also Premier League players.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD IDENTIFY MADDISON, GREALISH AS JANUARY TARGETS

Manchester United are prioritising a move for Leicester City's Maddison or Aston Villa's Grealish, according to the Independent.

United are looking to find greater consistency in the second half of the Premier League season, although they sit fifth in the table.

Grealish has provided five assists in the Premier League this campaign, while netting six times. Maddison also has six goals.

ROUND-UP

- Thomas Lemar is attracting interest from Tottenham. AS reports that if the midfielder joins Spurs from Atletico Madrid, the LaLiga club would be able to sign Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani.

- Tottenham may have more pressing concerns in January. Harry Kane could be set for an extended spell on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury as Spurs await the results of a second scan, according to The Telegraph.

- Benfica are prepared to let 20-year-old midfielder Gedson Fernandes leave. A Bola reports the club are ready to negotiate for the Portugal international, who has been linked to Manchester United, Lyon and Milan.

- Arsenal are aiming to strengthen their defence with the signing of Bayern Munich centre-back Jerome Boateng, according to Sky Sports. Calum Chambers is set for a long spell on the sidelines after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament, and Boateng could be set for a return to the Premier League.

- Jean-Clair Todibo is expected to leave Barcelona in January and a surprise potential destination has emerged. Bild reports Schalke are thinking about a loan move for the 20-year-old defender.

- Borussia Dortmund have set their price for forward Paco Alcacer. The Bundesliga club want €40million for the Spaniard, who has been linked with a move to Atletico Madrid.

The evolving world of sport means a new decade is likely to see widespread change.

With superstars like Lionel Messi, LeBron James, Roger Federer and Lewis Hamilton unlikely to be plying their trades in 2030, the stage is set for new names to come to the fore.

Omnisport's team of writers have tipped 20 20-year-olds to do just that over the next 10 years.

 

Men's football: Joao Felix

A €126m move from Benfica to Atletico Madrid made Joao Felix the second most expensive teenager in football history. His career in LaLiga is yet to truly ignite but the forward's lavish gifts are beyond doubt as he faces up to the decade when Cristiano Ronaldo will leave the stage for their native Portugal. Joao Felix is the anointed heir.

Basketball: Luka Doncic

The 2018 EuroLeague MVP and 2019 NBA Rookie of the Year, Doncic's incredible rise has continued unchecked this season – he is averaging 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 9.0 assists for the Dallas Mavericks. He should earn a first All-Star appearance this season and make his bow in the playoffs, where you would expect to see him featuring regularly in the coming years.

Cricket: Prithvi Shaw

Opening batsman Shaw became the youngest Indian to score a Test hundred on debut in 2018 and followed that up with a half-century in his second appearance. However, last year was one to forget for Shaw, who had injury problems before serving a six-month doping ban having taken a substance typically found in cough syrups. A first-class double hundred last month suggests he is ready to make up for lost time.

Tennis: Marketa Vondrousova

Although she was unable to win a title on the WTA Tour in 2019, Vondrousova was the runner-up at the French Open – one of three final appearances last year – and having risen to 16th in the world rankings she looks set to break the top 10 soon. The Czech's unorthodox playing style and penchant for drop shots makes her a particularly entertaining watch.

Formula One: Lando Norris

Norris enjoyed an excellent debut season in Formula One, helping McLaren to an impressive fourth place in the constructors' championship. After landing three straight points finishes to end the year, he carries momentum into 2020 and looks capable of challenging Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen over the next 10 years.

UFC: Chase Hooper

Featherweight Hooper was awarded a development deal after winning the second season of Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series in 2018 and is the youngest fighter on the UFC roster. He improved his unbeaten mixed martial arts record to 8-0-1 by stopping David Teymur in the first round of a thoroughly impressive UFC debut in December.

American football: Trevor Lawrence

The NFL is blessed with talented young quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson, but the potential star of the 2020s will not enter the league until 2021 at the earliest. Clemson's Lawrence possess the size, skill and nerve to succeed at the next level. He is still yet to lose a game in college and is one win away from back-to-back National Championships.

Sport climbing: Janja Garnbret

Sport climbing will make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 and Garnbret is a favourite for success. She successfully defended her bouldering and combined titles at last year's world championships and added gold in the lead discipline. The Slovenian's tally of 14 International Federation of Sport Climbing titles is unprecedented.

Rugby league: Tom Flegler

Front-rower Flegler enjoyed a hugely promising breakthrough year with Brisbane Broncos in 2019, featuring 23 times in his maiden campaign. He has reportedly knocked back a host of lucrative offers to remain with Brisbane in 2020 and will now aim to make an even bigger impact.

Women's football: Georgia Stanway

Vastly experienced for her age, Stanway joined Manchester City from Blackburn Rovers and made her Women's Super League debut at 16 in 2015. She won her second FA Cup with a goalscoring player-of-the-match display as City beat West Ham 3-0 in 2019's Wembley final and was the youngest member of an England squad Phil Neville led to the World Cup semi-finals. If the Lionesses are to take the next step over the coming decade, expect Stanway to play a vital role.

Rugby union: Marcus Smith

Harlequins fly-half Smith is knocking on the door for full England selection after an impressive first two years of his club career. He was man of the match in last July's win over Barbarians, which fans of Eddie Jones' side will hope is a sign of things to come over the next decade.

Golf: Matthew Wolff

The PGA Tour welcomed a host of talented rookies in 2019, but Wolff may just be the best of the bunch. A standout college player with an unorthodox swing that generates enormous power, he won last July's 3M Open in only his third professional start.

MotoGP: Fabio Quartararo

After Jorge Lorenzo, the only man to defeat Marc Marquez in a MotoGP world championship, retired, and with Valentino Rossi nearing the end of his career, fans are looking to the next generation. That group looks set to be led by Quartararo, who will ride a factory-spec Yamaha for 2020 after claiming six pole positions and seven podiums in a magnificent rookie season.

Golf: Nasa Hataoka

Already fifth in the women's world rankings, Hataoka has claimed three LPGA Tour titles in the past 18 months, after becoming the first amateur to win a major on the Japan LPGA Tour back in 2016.

Baseball: Vladimir Guerrero Jnr

Guerrero has a lot to live up to but has already shown enough to suggest he may follow his father into baseball's Hall of Fame. Having signed for the Toronto Blue Jays as a free agent in 2015, Guerrero served his time in the minors before making his debut in the Major Leagues last April. He spent the rest of his maiden season displaying the kind of power that has marked him out as a star of the future, hitting .272, mashing 15 home runs and knocking in 69 RBI. By the end of the next decade, his may well be the face of baseball.

Ice Hockey: Quinn Hughes

Hughes, who could not even debut for the Vancouver Canucks until he recovered from an ankle injury in March, is an elite defenseman who also sat top of the rookie assist chart in late December.

Swimming: Michael Andrew

This year is an Olympic one and for the first time since the 1996 Games, Michael Phelps will not be in the pool. The United States needs a new swimming hero, and the hope is that Phelps' namesake can be the next star. Andrew was the youngest US swimmer to ever turn professional when he did so at 14 and, having finished fourth in the 50 metres butterfly at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships, he appears primed to be a breakout star in Tokyo.

Tennis: Denis Shapovalov

Shapovalov finished 2019 at a career-high ATP ranking of 15th, having won his first title in Stockholm. Expect his threat at the 2020 majors to be very real.

Athletics: Sydney McLaughlin

At the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, gold in the 4x400 metres relay followed silver in the 400m hurdles for McLaughlin. Only a Dalilah Muhammad world record was enough to deny her the victory.

Boxing: Joseph Adorno

Currently plying his trade in the lightweight division, Adorno was brought up in Puerto Rico and his thunderous left hook has drawn comparisons to Miguel Cotto – the great four-weight world champion hailing from that boxing-mad island. Promoters Top Rank will look to step up Adorno's level of opposition in 2020, although anyone climbing into the corner opposite a young man boasting a 14-0 record with 12 knockouts should make sure they get well paid.

Atletico Madrid have confirmed Thomas Lemar sustained a hamstring injury in his side's 2-1 victory at Real Betis and he is unlikely to feature in Saturday's clash with Levante.

The France international was substituted after 57 minutes of Atleti's victory at Estadio Benito Villamarin, with his replacement Angel Correa scoring the visitors' first goal one minute after coming on.

Lemar has been the subject of speculation linking him with a transfer to Arsenal in January and if Gunners boss Mikel Arteta is successful in luring him away from Madrid, the 24-year-old may have made his last appearance in an Atleti shirt.

A club statement released by Atleti on Tuesday confirmed Lemar has sustained damage to his right thigh, as shown by tests at the Clinica Universidad de Navarra.

Atleti are uncertain how long Lemar will be sidelined.

Since arriving from Monaco in a deal worth €70M, Lemar has made 46 LaLiga appearances for Atletico, but he has struggled to hold down a regular place in Diego Simeone's team.

Some of Europe's top clubs are already making signings ahead of the January transfer window, but Real Madrid's focus, at least for now, looks to be on securing the services of a current player.

Karim Benzema remains one of Madrid's key men, with 12 goals in 17 LaLiga matches this term.

Los Blancos will reportedly reward the striker's fine form with a contract renewal in the coming months, keeping him at the Santiago Bernabeu for another two seasons.

 

TOP STORY – BENZEMA TO STAY UNTIL 2022

Karim Benzema has agreed to sign a new contract with LaLiga giants Real Madrid, according to Marca.

Benzema's current deal had been set to expire in 2021, but an extension is imminent. The newspaper reports the Frenchman will be rewarded improved terms on a new contract to run until 2022 due to his outstanding form.

With Madrid enjoying a midseason break, they are said to have agreed a deal with Benzema that will be made formal at the end of the campaign.

Benzema's future is apparently a priority for Madrid, with the report suggesting the deal was only capped at an additional year as the player is determined not to outstay his welcome, leaving before his outstanding career wanes.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United reportedly have an interest in Benfica star Gedson Fernandes. Sky Sports say the 20-year-old midfielder, who has fallen out of favour with his club, could be available for £34million (€39.8m) following a loan, rather than for a loftier release clause of £102m. United are desperate to bolster their midfield, with Nemanja Matic tipped to join Inter, Milan or Atletico Madrid.

- Staying at Old Trafford and The Suns says United are eyeing £50m-rated Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin after Erling Haaland signed for Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund.

- The Mirror claims Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will leave Emirates Stadium at the end of the season in pursuit of silverware. Aubameyang has 18 months remaining on his contract.

Chelsea have made enquiries about the release clause in RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner's contract, says The Telegraph. Werner has been linked to Liverpool, United and Bayern Munich.

- El Desmarque says Everton are leading the race to sign James Rodriguez from Real Madrid. Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti worked with James during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu.

- Serie A champions Juventus lead the race to sign Dejan Kulusevski, according to Sky Sport Italia and La Gazzetta dello Sport. The 19-year-old, on loan at Parma from Atalanta, has been linked to United, Arsenal, Napoli, Inter and Liverpool. But Juve are reportedly poised to pay Atalanta €40-50m, while allowing Kulusevski to remain on loan at Parma until the end of the season.

- Calciomercato.com reports Jean-Clair Todibo has an offer from Milan. A deal is said to be done for the Barcelona defender - an initial loan, followed by a €20m fee with no buyback option - but he has not yet agreed to the transfer.

- Having already signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Milan must move on others in the next month. However, La Gazzetta dello Sport reports the Rossoneri are only interested in selling Ricardo Rodriguez and Suso, rather than accommodating loan deals that would suit Watford and Sevilla, respectively.

Napoli are set to announce the signing of Stanislav Lobotka for an initial €16m, according to Calciomercato.com. The midfielder will leave Celta Vigo and sign a contract with the Partenopei until 2024.

Erling Haaland's decision to join Borussia Dortmund brought an end to one of Europe's most fascinating transfer stories.

Manchester United had been in the frame for his signature but were reportedly put off by a key demand from the striker's representatives.

As often seems to be the case for the Red Devils, Mino Raiola's involvement led to complications.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED PULLED PLUG ON HAALAND BID

According to The Guardian, United abandoned their bid for the highly sought-after Haaland after learning of a request from his agent, Raiola, and father Alf-Inge Haaland.

The pair reportedly asked for a share of any future transfer fee for the 19-year-old, a stipulation the Old Trafford outfit were unwilling to meet despite their firm interest.

Haaland settled on Dortmund after the Bundesliga side activated his Salzburg buyout clause.

He had been linked to RB Leipzig, Juventus and several more top European clubs after emerging as a Champions League star.

 

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- Haaland's arrival at Dortmund could lead LaLiga side  Atletico Madrid to narrow the transfer focus on Spanish striker Paco Alcacer, according to Marca. The former Barcelona player has struggled to cement a place in BVB's starting XI and represents a cheaper option in terms of wages than Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani, an apparent favourite of Diego Simeone.

- AS, meanwhile, reports on potential movements elsewhere in the Spanish capital. The newspaper claims Real Madrid are preparing to recall Jesus Vallejo from his loan spell at Wolves, with a view to finding him more playing time. That could lead to a short-term switch to Leganes or Eintracht Frankfurt.

- Juventus are close to extending Wojciech Szczesny's contract yet the Serie A champions remain admirers of Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma and Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen, according to CalcioMercato.

- Tammy Abraham wants a better deal at Stamford Bridge but Chelsea are not yet prepared to accept his demand for parity with Callum Hudson-Odoi's £180,000 per week salary, reports The Athletic.

- Manchester City are set to beat Premier League rivals United, Arsenal and Liverpool to the January signing of Barcelona's teenage left-back Juan Larios, says the Daily Star.

Could Gareth Bale's time in Madrid be coming to an end?

Linked to the Chinese Super League previously, former club Tottenham have emerged as a possible destination for Real Madrid's Bale.

A Spurs star could move in the opposite direction as part of the deal…

 

TOP STORY – SPURS WANT BALE BACK IN EXCHANGE FOR ERIKSEN

Tottenham want to bring Gareth Bale back to North London in a swap deal that would see want-away midfielder Christian Eriksen join Real Madrid, claims The Sun.

It is said that LaLiga giants Madrid would receive £25.7million (€30m) as well as Eriksen in a deal that could reunite Bale with the club he left in 2013.

Eriksen has been linked to Manchester United, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter and other clubs in Europe as his contract runs out at the end of the season.

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- Chelsea have pulled out of the race to sign Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, paving the way for the England winger to join Liverpool, according to the Daily Express. United and Madrid have also been linked to the 19-year-old.

United and Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain are in the race to sign Leicester City's in-form right-back Ricardo Pereira in January, according to the Daily Mail.

- Wolves' push for a top-five Premier League finish this season could be bolstered by the addition of South Korean forward Hwang Hee-chan, should the Molineux club persuade Salzburg to part with the £23m (€26.9m)-rated forward in a deal mooted by Sky Sports News.

- Sky in Germany reports that Werder Bremen are keen on re-signing Southampton defender Jannik Vestergaard in January.

- Le10sport claims PSG sounded out Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp as a possible replacement for Thomas Tuchel. The report says PSG sporting director Leonardo spoke to Klopp but the German made it clear he is happy at Anfield.

- Sky Sports News claims David Moyes is poised for a return to West Ham to replace Manuel Pellegrini following his sacking. Moyes spent a brief period in charge of West Ham in 2018.

Arsenal have set their sights on RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano. A move for the 21-year-old depends on whether Leipzig can sign Tanguy Kouassi from PSG, according to Le Parisien.

How much will it take to retain the services of Kylian Mbappe?

Paris Saint-Germain are desperate to ward off Real Madrid, who want to bring Mbappe to the Santiago Bernabeu.

A huge contract offer is reportedly on the horizon in Paris.

 

TOP STORY – PSG READYING BUMPER NEW DEAL FOR MBAPPE

Paris Saint-Germain have offered superstar Kylian Mbappe a five-year contract worth €32million per year amid interest from Real Madrid, according to journalist Nicolo Schira.

LaLiga giants Madrid are reportedly ready to go all out for Mbappe at the end of the season – head coach Zinedine Zidane desperate to work with his fellow Frenchman.

Amid doubts over Neymar's future in Paris as LaLiga champions Barcelona continue to be linked with a reunion, PSG are desperate to hold onto Mbappe.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has agreed to return to Milan, according to Sky Sport Italia and reports in Italy. A free agent since leaving MLS outfit LA Galaxy, the 38-year-old has reportedly signed a six-month contract with the option of another year. Ibrahimovic spent two seasons previously playing for Milan from 2010 to 2012, winning the Scudetto.

- According to Calciomercato, Antonio Conte's Inter continue to dream of signing Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal, who wants to leave Camp Nou as soon as January.

- While Vidal could leave, Sport reports Barca are interested in signing Stefano Sensi. The Italian midfielder is on a season-long loan deal at Inter from Sassuolo.

- La Repubblica claims Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is valued at €105m amid links to Serie A champions Juventus and Inter.

- PSG forward Edinson Cavani will not force through a move to Atletico Madrid, says Mundo Deportivo. Cavani – out of contract at the end of the season – has reportedly agreed a deal to join Atletico, however, the veteran is unwilling to leave PSG on bad terms.

- The Evening Standard says Everton's Richarlison has been considered by United as they look to fill the void left by Romelu Lukaku. Salzburg sensation Erling Haaland tops the list of United's attacking targets, however, he is also wanted by RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund and Juve.

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