Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Ander ter Stegen has been ruled out of the Copa del Rey final due to a knee problem.

The Germany international missed the final three LaLiga games of the season while undergoing treatment for an issue in his right knee.

The club confirmed on Wednesday that Ter Stegen "still has discomfort" and is therefore unavailable for the match with Valencia at the Benito Villamarin on Saturday.

It means Jasper Cillessen is likely to start, despite reports suggesting he has agreed to leave the club to join Benfica in the coming transfer window.

Barcelona could still win the domestic double again this season, but former Blaugrana midfielder Deco feels Ernesto Valverde is still under pressure because of the humiliating Champions League exit to Liverpool.

Valverde won LaLiga and the Copa del Rey in his first campaign last season and, after retaining the domestic title, his side will achieve a double-double if they beat Valencia in Saturday's cup final.

Yet the Barca boss' position still appears perilous because of the embarrassing way in which the club exited this year's Champions League.

Despite holding a 3-0 advantage from the first leg against Liverpool, Barca were thrashed 4-0 in the return fixture of the semi-final at Anfield, leaving Deco uncertain over Valverde's long-term future.

"I don't know the future because [at] Barcelona there's a lot of pressure," said Deco, who was speaking to Omnisport courtesy of the UEFA Europa League Trophy Tour - Driven by Kia.

"When the competition starts one of my favourites to win was Liverpool because I knew they were strong, stronger than last season.

"But they had problems in the beginning, the group phase, and then it's getting better in the competition.

"Of course, after 3-0 in Camp Nou, no one could expect without two of the important players – [Mohamed] Salah and [Roberto] Firmino – that Liverpool could do that.

"It was difficult for Barcelona because it was a very tough defeat – a loss against Liverpool, 4-0, is not normal."

Deco played for Barca between 2004 and 2008, winning two LaLiga titles and the Champions League in 2005-06.

He believes that the manner of the defeat to Liverpool would result in added scrutiny for any manager.

"I know in Barcelona there's a lot of pressure, every year they need to win," he added.

"I don't know what's happened. It's difficult, not just for Valverde but every coach who would be there in that moment."

Philippe Coutinho has returned to Barcelona training ahead of the Copa del Rey final against Valencia on Saturday.

Brazil international Coutinho sustained a hamstring injury in the 2-0 victory over Getafe on May 12 and was expected to be out for 10 days.

The 26-year-old sat out Sunday's 2-2 draw against Eibar and in the aftermath coach Ernesto Valverde was not optimistic about his availability – and that of Ousmane Dembele – for the clash in Seville.

However, Coutinho returned to the training field on Wednesday and will hope to prove his fitness before LaLiga champions Barca go in search of a domestic double.

Jean-Clair Todibo did not participate in the session due to "general discomfort", according to a tweet posted by the club, while Arthur and Marc-Andre ter Stegen are doubts for the match.

Vicente del Bosque defended the standard of Spanish football after LaLiga clubs missed out on European success.

Both European finals will be played between English clubs, with Liverpool and Tottenham meeting in the Champions League and Chelsea facing Arsenal in the Europa League decider.

But former Spain and Real Madrid coach Del Bosque defended Spanish clubs, pointing to their recent record in Europe.

Madrid or Barcelona have won the past five Champions League titles, while Atletico Madrid or Sevilla have claimed four of the previous five Europa Leagues.

"Well, if you saw the last 20 years, the Spanish clubs have won 50 per cent of the Champions League titles," Del Bosque said on Tuesday.

"Also, we've had very good performances of Sevilla and Atletico, who win the Europa League.

"Villarreal, Deportivo La Coruna and others contributed to a great hegemony of Spanish football during the past two decades."

France head coach Didier Deschamps is happy to give Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba his opinion on their futures but has warned them to be sure they make the right choice for their careers.

Atletico Madrid striker Griezmann confirmed last week that he intends to leave the Wanda Metropolitano at the end of the season, despite only agreeing a new five-year contract last year.

Pogba, meanwhile, has been heavily linked with a move to LaLiga giants Real Madrid after a largely difficult season with Manchester United.

Deschamps – who has named both players in his squad for a friendly against Bolivia and subsequent Euro 2020 qualifiers against Turkey and Andorra next month – will give them his view but is keen for them not to come to regret their decisions.

"Players are making choices, I'm not there to advise them," he told a media conference.

"I'm here to give them my opinion, but it's about them. It depends on their career, people and family.

"Most of them ask for my opinion. They can use it or not; it's not my choice.

"What matters is that when they decide something important, they think it is the correct choice. But sometimes you think, 'yes it's a good choice to join that club' and then it's not. It's easy to say after the fact. It goes well or badly."

Despite criticism of Pogba's form towards the end of the campaign, he ended 2018-19 with 13 Premier League goals and a further nine assists – more than any of his United team-mates managed – and earned a place in the PFA Team of the Year.

Deschamps believes people are too quick to find faults in the 26-year-old's game and says he brings a lot more than just goals.

"I hope you're watching all his games in the Premier League," he added. "We see Paul when he scores and gives assists, but Paul is not just about that. With us, he scores fewer goals, but he was and still is very important.

"A season lasts 10 months and players can't be at their peak all the time. With France, he knows I'm asking him different things because we have a team, and he's doing it very well."

Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt has suggested he could join team-mate Frenkie de Jong in signing for Barcelona.

De Jong's €75million switch to Barca for 2019-20 was confirmed earlier in the year, with De Ligt reportedly close to following his fellow Netherlands international to the Catalan club.

Both players thrived as Ajax thrilled the football world in their run to the Champions League semi-finals, where Erik ten Hag's side were denied a place in the final in by Tottenham despite having led 3-0 on aggregate with 45 minutes to play.

Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool are also reportedly interested in the 19-year-old defender, but De Ligt has suggested his future could be at Camp Nou with De Jong.

"I think he had a great season. He deserves to sign for Barcelona," De Ligt said of De Jong.

"Play with him there? It would be good to play with Frenkie at a club, but in these moments I don't know what will happen."

Ajax have completed the signing of defender Lisandro Martinez from Defensa y Justicia, which could pave the way for De Ligt's sale.

The Argentina international signed a four-year deal on Monday, with sporting director Marc Overmars hailing the 21-year-old's potential.

"Martinez is a left-footed player who can handle multiple positions at the back. He is a defender who wants to play football," Overmars told Ajax's website.

"He brings a certain mentality that we can use well here, comparable to what his countryman Nico Tagliafico shows here.

"And Lisandro is still young, so we expect him to continue in the coming years to be an even better player."

Antoine Griezmann's decision to turn down a move to Barcelona last year "hurt" the club, according to Xavi.

Griezmann was strongly linked with signing for Barca after the 2017-18 season but he eventually announced in a televised documentary he would stay at Atletico Madrid.

However, after Barca held off Atleti to defend their LaLiga crown, France forward Griezmann confirmed his intention to leave the Madrid club after five years.

Barca are reportedly again front-runners for his signature, though head coach Ernesto Valverde has refused to discuss how Griezmann could fit into a forward line with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

And Xavi, who won eight LaLiga titles at Barca and made his last professional appearance for Al-Sadd before hanging up his boots this week, hinted there may be leftover bad feeling at Camp Nou over Griezmann's previous rejection of a move.

"I understand it hurt what he did last summer," Xavi said to Sport. "If the reason for the rejection [from Barca players] was only a footballing issue, I'd speak with the dressing room to make them see he's a player who can bring something.

"We have to see, however, who is signing him? The sporting director? Valverde? The president? If I came to Barca I would ask for the signings, and if the dressing room doesn't agree with any of them I'd speak with them, but in the end I decide. Be it Griezmann or whoever.

"Another thing would be if the coach doesn't want him either. Then we have a problem."

Barca have given Valverde their backing despite their latest Champions League disappointment, with Xavi making his ambitions to coach at Camp Nou clear.

"If one day I come back to Barcelona it's all a consequence of knowing that I will be judged," he added.

"Everyone wants to be at a big team. It would be more comfortable to go to a second division club but I'm competitive and I like big challenges.

"I know what will come, I will go bald or my hair will turn white, but it is what it is."

Messi made it clear the Champions League was Barca's top priority in 2018-19 but he was unable to add to the four European titles he has won at the club.

"That's more than a few, we only had one before," Messi's former team-mate Xavi said. "We were able to win more but it's hard to win the Champions League.

"[Pep] Guardiola's Barca were better than the rest of the teams and we only won two of four. Chelsea and Inter knocked us out. But be calm, Messi's not finished yet.

"We always talk about the post-Messi era, but Leo has three or four good years left. At the top level, like now, because he looks after himself, he's incredibly professional, he's physically strong, a beast mentally. He's the number one at everything."

Spain and Barcelona icon Xavi played the final match of his playing career in Al Sadd's 2-0 AFC Champions League defeat to Persepolis on Monday.

One of the most decorated players in football history, Xavi won 19 honours during his 17-year Barca stay and also enjoyed great success on the international stage, winning the World Cup and Euro 2008 and 2012 with Spain.

He joined Qatari club Al Sadd in 2015 to see out his playing days and on Monday he pulled on their jersey for the last time after announcing his impending retirement earlier this month, as he bids to embark on a coaching career.

Before kick-off in Tehran's Azadi Stadium, Xavi was honoured with a framed commemorative jersey and other gifts.

He was not able go out with a victory, though, as Al Sadd – who are already assured of a place in the knockout phase of the competition – were downed by goals from Mehdi Torabi and Ali Alipour, though Persepolis bow out anyway.

In Group C, Al Duhail scored a last-gasp equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Al Hilal to join their visitors in the next round, resulting in Esteghlal's campaign coming to a close despite beating Al Ain 2-1 on the road.

In the day's late kick-off, Al Ahli scored a stoppage-time winner to defeat Pakhtakor 2-1 and secure qualification at their visitors' expense, with Abdulrahman Ghareeb's fierce strike doing the damage just moments after Igor Sergeev's equaliser had seemingly sealed a draw.

Barcelona have confirmed Nelson Semedo did not suffer a concussion in their last LaLiga game of the season against Getafe.

Semedo was taken to hospital with a head injury that appeared to have put his chances of being fit for Saturday's Copa del Rey final in doubt.

But Barcelona confirmed on Monday that right-back Semedo has been cleared following tests and released from a hospital in Bilbao.

"Semedo has passed the tests for his head injury and has been discharged from hospital," a club statement said. 

"He returns to Barcelona to continue with the protocol established in these cases and his return to training will be monitored."

Head coach Ernesto Valverde is seeking to win the LaLiga and Copa del Rey double for the second season in a row when Barca face Valencia in Seville.

Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele are unlikely to be available due to hamstring injuries, while Arthur is another doubt.

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde is not optimistic about having Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele available for the Copa del Rey final.

LaLiga champions Barca face Valencia in the May 25 showpiece, hoping to end the season with a domestic double.

But Coutinho and Dembele appear to be in serious danger of missing the game, having sat out Sunday's 2-2 draw away to Eibar in Barca's final league fixture of the season.

Coutinho suffered a hamstring strain in the 2-0 win over Getafe on May 12, while Dembele sustained a similar issue at the start of the month.

They may now miss the Copa final, though Valverde does expect to have goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen back after a minor knee injury.

"We've got a few issues in certain positions and we're going to see if we can get a few players back," the coach told reporters in his post-match news conference.

"Ter Stegen will certainly be available. Coutinho, I don't know and Dembele is looking unlikely. Let's see about Arthur.

"He's had a problem for two to three months and he needed a break. It could have happened a month or so ago, but it's happened now. I don't know if he'll be available."

Barca lost Nelson Semedo to a head injury at Ipurua and the Portuguese full-back was taken to hospital, but Valverde is hopeful he will be completely fine.

"I don't have any news about Nelson," Valverde added. "We hope it's only a precaution for the knock."

Lionel Messi equalled Telmo Zarra's record of six Pichichi awards after the Barcelona star finished the 2018-19 season as the leading scorer in LaLiga.

The Argentinian has had a sensational campaign for Barca in the league, scoring 36 times in 34 appearances.

His form has been the main catalyst for Barca's title surge, with the Catalans finishing the season 11 points clear of nearest rivals Atletico Madrid at the top of the table.

Messi has rarely looked in danger of being caught, with team-mate Luis Suarez and Real Madrid's Karim Benzema the closest to him with 21 apiece.

It is the sixth time in his career Messi has taken home the Pichichi trophy as LaLiga's top scorer in a single season, moving him level with Athletic Bilbao great Zarra.

Among Messi's 36 goals were three hat-tricks – against Real Betis, Sevilla and Levante – while he rounded out the campaign with a brace in the 2-2 draw with Eibar.

He could yet add the European Golden Shoe too, with Messi four goals clear of Kylian Mbappe, who has one league game left to play this season with Paris Saint-Germain.

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak finished a fourth successive season as the goalkeeper with the fewest goals conceded - just 27 in 37 appearances.

 

Lionel Messi opened up a four-goal lead over Kylian Mbappe in the race for the Golden Shoe as a brace in a 2-2 draw with Eibar lifted the Barcelona star on to 36 LaLiga goals.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe – who has one league match still to play – scored a double against Dijon on Saturday to close in on Messi, who provided a fine response as Barca's successful LaLiga campaign drew to a close on Sunday.

Barca-owned Marc Cucurella scored against his parent club and although a Messi double had Eibar trailing by the 32nd minute, a glorious Pablo de Blasis strike saw Jasper Cillessen punished for the second time, making it 2-2 just before half-time.

Although both sides crafted chances, the second half was significantly less dramatic as proceedings petered out, bringing the 2018-19 LaLiga season to an end.

An end-to-end start benefitted Eibar and they took the lead 20 minutes in, Cucurella drilling at Cillessen and the ball squirming underneath the Dutchman.

Messi turned things around just past the half-hour mark, though, equalising with a clinical finish into the bottom-right corner after racing on to Arturo Vidal's pass.

He then produced a delicate chipped finish a minute later after breaking Eibar's offside trap and running through on goal.

But Eibar went into the break level thanks to De Blasis' spectacular effort, pouncing on Cillessen's poor headed clearance and catching him out of his goal with a gorgeous long-range volley.

The hosts looked the more threatening throughout the second period, first going close in the 52nd minute when Sergi Enrich was denied by Cillessen.

Cucurella then wasted a glorious chance nine minutes from time when he blasted over from 10 yards, meaning Eibar had to accept a draw.

 

What does it mean? Messi signs off in expected fashion

Messi has again enjoyed a stunning season. With 36 goals, there can be no doubt the Argentinian has been the main catalyst behind their success and he will likely claim the Golden Shoe award, unless Mbappe enjoys a remarkable final outing. 

Cucurella shows his worth to Barca

The young full-back – who has also played on the wing – has enjoyed a strong season on loan from Barca. Although he needed a helping hand from Cillessen, he got a deserved goal and was a constant energetic nuisance on the left. He will surely be of use to Ernesto Valverde next term.

Cillessen culpable

With Marc-Andre ter Stegen injured, Cillessen continued to deputise in goal. He has generally been solid in recent weeks, but at Ipurua he was at fault for both goals conceded by the champions.

What's next?

Barca still have one last game to play this season, as they prepare to face Valencia in the Copa del Rey final next Saturday.

Eibar's campaign is now over, and they will turn their attention to the transfer market. They will hope to keep Cucurella for at least another year, though Barca are expected to recall him.

Ernesto Valverde described Antoine Griezmann as "a great player" but was unable to confirm whether he would be joining Barcelona, despite Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain distancing themselves from the World Cup-winning forward.

Griezmann announced his decision to leave Atletico Madrid in a video posted on his social media accounts on Tuesday, thanking the club's supporters for "five incredible years".

He has been linked with a transfer to Camp Nou for over a year, opting to sign a new five-year contract at the Wanda Metropolitano before the start of the 2018-19 season rather than pursue a move at that time.

With the 28-year-old set to switch allegiances, and both City's Pep Guardiola and PSG's Thomas Tuchel saying they would not be signing him, Valverde was asked whether he would be looking to add Griezmann to his squad for next season.

"We always say the same – he's a player at a different club," Valverde told a news conference.

"Who knows? He's a great player, I've never denied that. Are you going to ask every coach in football if they want him? Is that your plan?"

When asked what role Griezmann might play in his Blaugrana team, Valverde responded: "If he came you would see.

"We're talking about an assumption, a player who might come, who could be here. I'm not going to talk about his position."

Barcelona clinched the LaLiga title with three games to spare and their clash with Eibar on Sunday is of relatively low significance to both sides.

But Valverde insisted he will name a strong side to ensure his players' match fitness does not wane ahead of the Copa del Rey final against Valencia six days later and deflected further questions about transfer targets, preferring to focus on his aim of winning the double.

Asked if he had new players in his sights, he replied: "I don't know, that's an internal club matter. There are other parties involved who might have an opinion.

"The club's idea is to make the best team we can, taking into account our strengths and weaknesses. Right now we've got a final to think about. We could win the double this year.

"It has been an extraordinary season – things were broken a lot by the way we went out of the Champions League, but we won the Super Cup, the league with three games in hand. We've got the cup final to come."

He added a word of reassurance over Lionel Messi, who was short of his best in Barcelona's 2-0 win over Getafe five days after their Champions League elimination at the hands of Liverpool, who overturned a 3-0 first leg deficit on a dramatic night at Anfield.

"When you lose a game the way we did [in Liverpool] that does hit you very hard," admitted Valverde.

"Leo [Messi] is fine, better every day. The days after going out of the Champions League you find it difficult – they are not a team that is used to losing.

"But they are looking forward to the cup final, Leo as much as anyone else."

Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel have quelled reports that Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain will be rivalling Barcelona for Antoine Griezmann's signature.

Griezmann and Atletico Madrid confirmed on Tuesday that the 28-year-old's stay in the Spanish capital would be coming to an end after five years at the club.

Last June, the France forward signed a new contract to keep him at the Wanda Metropolitano until 2023, with a documentary titled 'The Decision' having been made to publicise Griezmann's choice not to move to Camp Nou.

However, following his change of heart, reports have suggested Premier League champions City were considering challenging any renewed interest from Barca by activating the forward's release clause, reportedly set at €120million.

But Guardiola insists the fee would be too much for City, who are under investigation by UEFA for alleged Financial Fair Play (FFP) breaches. The club vehemently deny any wrongdoing.

"People from Barcelona don't have to be worried, we are not going to buy Griezmann," Guardiola told reporters on Friday. "We don't have the money."

PSG, too, have been linked with interest in Griezmann but, like his counterpart in Manchester, Tuchel was quick to deny the reports, stressing that his priorities are to strengthen his side's defence, not attack.

"Griezmann can play with every team in the world," the PSG coach told a news conference.

"It would please any coach, but right now it's not realistic. We are looking for players with certain profiles. We need defensive profiles, and we have to start with that."

Griezmann has scored 21 goals in all competitions this term and could play his last game for Atleti against Levante on Saturday in their final LaLiga fixture of the season.

Diego Simeone has thanked Antoine Griezmann for giving "five wonderful years" of his career to Atletico Madrid and says the departing striker will leave with his full blessing.

Griezmann confirmed on Tuesday that he intends to leave the Wanda Metropolitano at the end of the season, despite only agreeing a new five-year contract last year.

The France international's announcement came amid strong rumours that Barcelona are ready to trigger his release clause.

Griezmann is set to depart the club he joined from Real Sociedad in 2014, having reached double figures for LaLiga goals in all five of his seasons in the Spanish capital, scoring 94 times in total.

And Simeone says there is only so much Atletico can do to keep their star players out of the clutches of rival clubs such as Barcelona.

"First of all, I am grateful for the footballer that we've had," he said in Friday's news conference. "I only have words of gratitude for Griezmann. I love him as a person. 

"I've learned not to judge the decisions of others. It's your job to have an opinion. You have to give everything without expecting anything back. When someone like Antoine gives his all for us, we're happy.

"We knew Griezmann leaving was a possibility. I spoke with Antoine before meeting with Miguel Angel [Gil, Atleti's chief executive] and Andrea [Berta, their sporting director]. I told him what I thought with affection and fondness and this was between us only.

"When you give everything, as Antoine did, we are calm. Antoine is taking a step towards a new place. We have all participated in that growth over these five wonderful years. He is one of the best scorers in our history. 

"Players are always looking for important teams, like Lucas Hernandez with Bayern Munich, Barcelona... historically there are better clubs and that growth is sought."

Griezmann will join a long list of star names to have walked away from Atletico over the past decade, but Simeone insists no player is bigger than the club itself and has backed them to continue challenging for major honours in the 28-year-old's absence.

"I do not aspire to convince anyone to stay," he said. "Staying at Atletico is a source of pride for the players who do it. It's been almost 10 years since Quique [Sanchez Flores]'s time when we started competing well and winning titles.

"It was Miranda, [Radamel] Falcao, Raul [Garcia], [Diego] Forlan, [Sergio] Aguero. They went a long time ago and the club continues to be maintained, and with an absolutely better structure than in those times.

"We signed knowing that Atletico is much bigger than all of us. [Fernando] Torres, Forlan, Aguero, [Diego] Costa, Griezmann, and the club has always competed. 

"The team has shown that the club is more important than all of us. It will not change anything at all. We will look for players who want to come and play for an important club like Atletico."

Atletico travel to Levante on Saturday for their final LaLiga match of the season.

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