Barcelona are prepared to use Antoine Griezmann in a deal to land Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

Neymar, 28, has constantly been linked with a return to Camp Nou, but ended up staying at PSG during the last close season.

It seems Barcelona will pursue the Brazil international again and they may be prepared to offer Griezmann in a deal.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA TO OFFER GRIEZMANN TO PSG IN NEYMAR DEAL

Despite it proving such an ordeal to sign Griezmann in the first place, Barca will try to use him as a makeweight in a deal to land Neymar, according to Sky Sports.

The report says the Spanish giants are prepared to let Griezmann go just one season after signing him from Atletico Madrid, as they reportedly also target Inter forward Lautaro Martinez.

Barca will try to sell the forward elsewhere if PSG are not interested, the story claims, with the Frenchman underwhelming since his switch to Camp Nou.

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool are apparently preparing for a battle with Germany. The Mirror reports Germany see Jurgen Klopp – contracted at Anfield until 2024 – as a successor to coach Joachim Low.

Manchester United remain interested in Erling Haaland. ESPN claims the Premier League club are again ready to compete for the forward's services with Real Madrid if the Norway international decides to leave Borussia Dortmund.

- Will Gareth Bale remain at Real Madrid? The Mirror suggests the Wales international is ready to fight for his place at the Santiago Bernabeu despite his differences with coach Zinedine Zidane.

Saul Niguez is apparently wanted in the Premier League. AS says Man United are willing to pay around £71million (€80m) for the Atletico midfielder, who has a release clause of £132.5m (€150m).

Barcelona may be prepared to sell players this close season, but Arthur will not be among them. Sport reports the Spanish champions see the midfielder as a key player. Meanwhile, it is also claimed Gent star Jonathan David has been offered to the Blaugrana.

Juventus have reportedly secured the futures of two players. Rai Sport understands Blaise Matuidi has extended his contract with Juve until 2021, while Marko Pjaca – who is on loan at Anderlecht – has agreed to a deal until 2023.

Barcelona look like a team "without a soul" this season due to some laboured performances and questionable decisions behind the scenes, according to Marc Muniesa.

The Catalans were two points clear at the top of LaLiga with 10 games remaining before Spain's season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

They were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Athletic Bilbao but remain favourites to progress to the Champions League quarter-finals after drawing the first leg of the last-16 tie with Napoli 1-1 in Italy.

However, questions have been repeatedly raised about Barca's unconvincing standards this season, even after Ernesto Valverde was dismissed in January and replaced by Quique Setien.

Antoine Griezmann has struggled to reach top form since a €120million move from Atletico Madrid, while injuries to Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele have left Setien short of options in attack.

Muniesa, who progressed through Barca's youth academy before joining Stoke City in 2013, thinks the 2019-20 season has dome some damage to Barca's wider image.

"Everything that's happened has been a bit bizarre, with Valverde's sacking, people putting on pressure from outside about the play... it looks like a team without a soul," the defender told Sport.

"It's very difficult to do what Pep [Guardiola] did or Luis Enrique, who played a little more on the counter-attack. Now, with injuries to Dembele and Luis Suarez, there aren't as many solutions up front.

"Griezmann is not at the high level expected of him and Messi is a bit on his own. The best news is Ansu Fati, who's a footballer who has no fear.

"The football issue was a bit more complicated because the investment in wages is the most important thing at the club and it's normal that it would take a bit longer."

Barca have taken steps this week to manage the financial implications of the football season being placed on hold.

The first-team squad have taken a 70 per cent pay cut and provided further financial aid to ensure Barca's non-playing staff are able to take home their full wages over the coming weeks.

The decision took time to be announced but Muniesa thinks it was an admirable move on the part of the players.

"Everyone wanted to do it in their own way. The players, in the end, have set a great example for many people by helping club employees to keep their whole wages. I think it's very positive - a great step taken by the squad," he said.

Antoine Griezmann has suggested he sees his long-term future at Barcelona after saying he wants to claim the number seven shirt.

The France star has endured a difficult first season at Camp Nou since joining for €120million from Atletico Madrid last year, scoring only eight times in 26 LaLiga appearances.

Eric Olhats, the scout who helped to discover Griezmann as a youngster, claimed to Mundo Deportivo last week that the player "isn't enjoying it" at Barca and is not being helped by the way the team plays.

With Barca expected to try to sign Lautaro Martinez from Inter and once more plot a return for Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain in the next transfer window, it has been rumoured Griezmann could be sold to provide funds.

However, Griezmann appears to be focused on playing for Barca for at least another season once Spanish football resumes from suspension during the coronavirus pandemic.

Indeed, the 29-year-old seems to have his heart set on claiming the shirt number presently held by Philippe Coutinho, who is on loan at Bayern Munich and is expected to be sold by Barca this year.

While speaking to fans during an eSports contest, Griezmann admitted "I would like to get back the number seven" that he wore while playing for Atletico.

For the time being, Griezmann is simply waiting to learn when he will be able to return to Barca training with his team-mates, with Spain still in a strict lockdown as confirmed coronavirus cases have passed 80,000.

"Quarantine is going okay, but you can't do anything," he said.

"I miss football enormously. I have no idea when the competition will be back; I don't know when I will go back to training."

Rumours linking Neymar to Barcelona refuse to subside.

Neymar left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record €222million transfer in 2017, but the Brazilian star wants to move back to Camp Nou.

Barca are desperate to make it happen by any means necessary.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA TO INVOKE CLAUSE IN NEYMAR PURSUIT

Barcelona are plotting an audacious plan to re-sign Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain, according to ESPN.

The report says LaLiga champions could invoke a little-known FIFA clause – Article 17 – in order to lure Neymar back to Camp Nou.

Article 17 states that players can leave their contracts "without just cause" once the three-year protection period ends.

 

ROUND-UP

Marc-Andre ter Stegen to leave Barca? The Germany international has been in contract negotiations with the Spanish giants, however, Sport says he is being tempted by Bayern Munich.

- Sport also claims that Barca have put Antoine Griezmann on the transfer market. It comes as Barca look to sign Inter's Lautaro Martinez at the end of the season, while keeping costs down amid the coronavirus pandemic. Manchester United, PSG, Chelsea and Arsenal are possible suitors for Griezmann. The same publication reports Barca's stars have agreed to take a pay cut to help the club deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Real Madrid are interested in signing Wolves striker Raul Jimenez, AS reports. Madrid are eyeing a striker with Karim Benzema ageing and big-money recruit Luka Jovic so far failing to convince Zinedine Zidane. Mexico international Jimenez previously spent a year at Atletico Madrid in 2014-15.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Arsenal and Tottenham are set to rival Serie A side Lazio for Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren.

- With Lovren set to leave, AS suggests Liverpool have lined up three possible replacements – RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano, Atletico Madrid defender Jose Maria Gimenez and Inter's Alessandro Bastoni.

- Calciomercato says Mauro Icardi – on loan at PSG from Inter – wants to return to Italy at the end of the season amid strong links to Juventus. The Argentina striker is also open to joining Madrid.

Inter are working on a renewal to tie down star midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, reports Tuttosport. The Croatia international is contracted until 2022.

Juve, United and Barca are all tracking PSG's highly rated 17-year-old Edouard Michut, according to Calciomercato.

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe are Paris Saint-Germain's star duo but they could be separated next season.

Barcelona and Real Madrid are eyeing Neymar and Mbappe respectively.

Ligue 1 champions PSG have reportedly made it clear who they want to keep.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR OUT FOR MBAPPE?

Paris Saint-Germain could sell Neymar in order to keep fellow superstar Kylian Mbappe, according to AS.

Neymar continues to be linked with a return to LaLiga champions Barcelona, while Mbappe is a long-term target for Real Madrid.

Amid ongoing speculation over Mbappe and a possible move to Madrid, PSG are reportedly willing to sacrifice Neymar to retain the France international.

Deportes Cuatro adds that Barcelona could offer up Antoine Griezmann to PSG in order to lure Neymar back to Camp Nou.

 

ROUND-UP

- Goal says Tottenham star Harry Kane would consider a move to Premier League rivals Manchester United at the end of the season. The England striker is reportedly weighing up his future in London.

- The future of Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is up in the air, reports Catalunya Radio. Mundo Deportivo, however, says the Germany international is committed to Barca.

- Corriere dello Sport claims Serie A high-flyers Lazio are ready to launch a €50million bid for Lyon star Memphis Depay.

Inter are lining up a move for Chelsea full-back Marcos Alonso, according to Calciomercato. A €30m (£26m) fee has been mooted.

Juventus are still looking to sign Mauro Icardi, Tuttosport claims. Icardi is on loan at PSG from Inter this season, however, Juve are reportedly willing to include either Paulo Dybala or Miralem Pjanic in any deal to sign the striker.

- Gazzetta dello Sport reports Everton and Premier League rivals Tottenham want to sign United defender Chris Smalling, who is on loan at Serie A side Roma.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is yet to decide his future but the veteran striker would be happy to extend his contract at Milan beyond this season, says Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira. Milan are in turmoil amid a row between board members Ivan Gazidis, Paolo Maldini and Zvonimir Boban.

Antoine Griezmann is optimistic about Barcelona's chances in their Champions League last-16 tie with Napoli after a 1-1 draw in Naples on Tuesday, the Frenchman adamant it will be "very different" at Camp Nou.

Barca produced an underwhelming display at Stadio San Paolo as they struggled to break down a resilient Napoli side who took the lead in the 30th minute through Dries Mertens' wonderful strike.

Griezmann turned home Nelson Semedo's squared pass just before the hour and that proved to be enough to secure a share of the spoils, despite seeing Arturo Vidal sent off late on.

Although the performance from LaLiga champions Barca was nothing to get excited about, Griezmann expects things to be different on home soil.

"We wanted to win, we came to win, but it wasn't possible," the Barca star said post-match.

"We still have to play at home, which will be very different. [There will be] more space, we'll be in front of our fans and we have to win.

"We know that it's a very important week, I think we're focused on that, now we have to work and recover well for the Clasico."

Griezmann had just six touches of the ball in the first half, as the France international struggle to make an impact, and he accepts he was not involved enough.

"It was hard for us to get into the game and create space and shots at first," he added.

"We have to work on it. It's up to me to add depth, sometimes they [team-mates] can see me, at other times not. It's me who has to create space. In the first half I didn't but in the second I did."

Barca welcome Napoli to Camp Nou for the second leg on March 18.

Antoine Griezmann's second Champions League goal for Barcelona helped the LaLiga giants secure a 1-1 draw against Napoli in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

Quique Setien's side were insipid in the first half and deservedly went behind to Dries Mertens' superb strike after 30 minutes at the Stadio San Paolo.

Napoli lost Mertens to injury early in the second half and their advantage was erased before the hour mark when Griezmann, who had previously cut an isolated figure in attack, thundered home after a flowing move.

The hosts squandered two golden opportunities to restore their advantage soon after, with Barca ultimately holding on despite Arturo Vidal's late dismissal to take a precious away goal back to Camp Nou in three weeks' time.

After a quiet opening, the game burst into life after 30 minutes courtesy of a moment of magic from Mertens.

Piotr Zielinski picked out the Belgium international on the edge of the penalty area, where he took a touch and whipped a sumptuous finish past Marc-Andre ter Stegen to put the hosts ahead.

They almost doubled their advantage before the interval, but Kostas Manolas flashed a close-range effort past the post.

Barca were a team reborn at the start of the second period and pulled level in the 57th minute, Griezmann slamming home Nelson Semedo's low cross from eight yards.

Ter Stegen twice denied Napoli soon after, first getting down well to paw away Lorenzo Insigne's effort and then racing off his line to block Jose Callejon's strike.

The game ended on a sour note for Barca, with Vidal seeing red for quick-fire bookings – the first for hauling down Mario Rui before clashing heads with the Napoli full-back – and Gerard Pique limping off after landing awkwardly.

Atletico Madrid appear clear underdogs as they welcome European and world champions Liverpool to the Wanda Metropolitano this week.

Liverpool have reached consecutive Champions League finals, winning the decider at Atleti's home last season, and are on course for a stunning record-breaking first Premier League triumph.

Diego Simeone's Atleti have similarly been counted among Europe's elite in years past, winning LaLiga in 2013-14 as they lost the Champions League final, a continental feat that was repeated two years later.

But the Spanish side are facing a battle just to finish in the top four in their domestic league this season.

They face Liverpool in the Champions League last 16, hosting the first leg on Tuesday, and we use Opta data to assess just where they have fallen away ahead of this mammoth task.

 

Steadily slowing since 2014

Simeone has long had a reputation for setting up his side to stifle the best in Spain and across Europe, but in 2013-14 – the greatest season in their modern history – Atleti packed a punch in attack.

The LaLiga champions scored 116 goals in their 61 matches in all competitions – 1.9 per game.

As they returned to the Champions League final in 2015-16, Atleti netted 89 times in 57 matches (1.6 per game), while they average just 1.1 per game this term.

Diego Costa alone scored 35 in 2013-14, and Atleti clearly lack a similarly prolific marksman right now, but their style of play in attack has also changed considerably.

Atleti still have a similar portion of possession – 46.8 per cent in 2013-14 to 47.5 per cent this campaign – yet they were previously far more effective at launching attacks from their low block.

A total of 108 fast breaks across their 61 matches in their best season works out at 1.8 per game. That was down to 0.4 fast breaks per game in 2015-16, and 0.5 per game in 2019-20.

Atleti have simply become far slower and therefore easier to defend against.

 

Alvaro Morata no marksman

Atleti's issues would still not be quite so grave if they were taking chances with the same regularity as previously, but a study of Expected Goals (xG) provides cause for concern.

Costa could have been expected to score 31.85 times across the 2013-14 season but instead beat that xG figure with his tally of 35.

The ability of Simeone's side to compete again two years later was largely due to the talents of Antoine Griezmann, meanwhile, signed after the LaLiga title success.

The France striker outperformed his xG of 18.84 by some distance with a total of 24 goals in all competitions, taking several chances he would not have been expected to score from.

This season, Alvaro Morata is Atleti's top scorer with just eight. Worryingly, he would have been expected to score 12.85 times already.

Joao Felix (three goals, 5.87 xG), Costa (two goals, 2.92 xG) and Vitolo (no goals, 1.62 xG) have all toiled in the final third, too, explaining Atleti's poor goals return.

 

Defensive standards slipping

And Atleti's problems are not just at one end of the field. Jan Oblak remains one of Europe's finest goalkeepers, but even he cannot match previous standards behind a much-changed defence.

The Slovenia star was outstanding in 2015-16, conceding just 26 times across 51 matches, keeping 32 clean sheets and saving 82.67 per cent of shots faced on target.

This term, Oblak has already let in 22 goals in just 31 games, with his save percentage 76.84

Where Atleti could have expected to concede 45.31 goals four seasons ago and allowed just 31, the margins have slimmed considerably: 27.5 xG conceded versus 24 conceded in 2019-20.

Just as Atleti have not effectively replaced Griezmann in attack, they look to be feeling the losses of Diego Godin, Lucas Hernandez and Filipe Luis in defence, with Oblak unable to stem the tide.

Liverpool's all-star attack can now fancy their chances against a previously stingy back line.

Antoine Griezmann says he is thoroughly enjoying life at Barcelona, even though he is still learning how to play alongside Lionel Messi.

Griezmann ended a five-match scoreless streak in LaLiga with a deft finish to open the scoring in a cagey 2-1 win over Getafe at Camp Nou on Saturday.

The goal was teed up brilliantly by Messi, with Sergi Roberto adding a second for Barca before Angel Rodriguez's goal for Getafe set up a tense finish.

France forward Griezmann missed a great chance to restore Barca's two-goal cushion late on, and acknowledged he is still adapting to playing with Messi.

"We knew how hard Getafe would be to play against," Griezmann said. "They put a lot of pressure on and pressed high. They are third for a reason but we kept cool, tried to play the ball well from the back. It was tough but we suffered and won.

"I've been here six months, we still have to learn. I have to learn [Messi's] movements and he has to learn mine. We're enjoying the work we put in together and it's getting better and better all the time. I'm very happy and really enjoying myself here.

"I missed a chance which I shouldn't have done, it came to my weaker foot but luckily it didn't matter."

Getafe started strong at Camp Nou and thought they had the lead when Allan Nyom prodded in from a corner, but VAR disallowed the goal for a foul on Samuel Umtiti.

The visitors did haul themselves back into the contest when Angel volleyed home in the 66th minute, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen pulling off a fine double save to deny Getafe an equaliser.

Angel has been linked with a move to Barca as the defending champions aim to replace Ousmane Dembele and Nyom is unsure if the striker will be staying with Getafe.

"He's got a lot of quality," Nyom said of the 32-year-old. 

"He's a killer in front of goal and I'm delighted he's with us. I don't know whether he's staying or not."

Antoine Griezmann ended a five-match scoreless streak in LaLiga as Barcelona survived a second-half fightback to claim a 2-1 victory over third-placed Getafe.

Needing a win to put themselves level on points with table-toppers Real Madrid, Quique Setien's side started sluggishly on Saturday and would have gone behind if not for VAR.

Barca made their good fortune count, though, Lionel Messi - on his 350th official appearance at Camp Nou - setting up Griezmann to open the scoring in the 33rd minute.

Sergi Roberto doubled Barca's tally before half-time, but Barca-linked Angel Rodriguez set up a grandstand finish, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen just managing to deny Getafe an equaliser as the champions held on.

Jordi Alba succumbed to a right adductor injury in the 22nd minute, with Junior Firpo introduced, and things looked to have got worse for the hosts when Allan Nyom tucked home from a corner, only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR for a foul on Samuel Umtiti.

Marc Cucurella was inches away from putting his parent club behind moments later, yet it was Barca who broke the deadlock when Messi fed a wonderful, disguised pass through to Griezmann, who finished with a sublime flick over David Soria.

It was 2-0 six minutes later - Roberto sending a first-time finish into the bottom-right corner at the culmination of a slick move, and only a fine save from Soria prevented Messi adding a third before half-time.

Angel was brought on shortly after the restart and the change had the desired impact when he volleyed in from the edge of the box.

Ter Stegen denied Jaime Mata a tap-in with 18 minutes remaining and, though Griezmann squandered two great chances, Barca ultimately made their goalkeeper's save count as they claimed the points.

What does it mean? All level at the top

With Madrid not in action until Sunday, Barca are - temporarily at least - level on points with Los Blancos at the top. The rivals go head-to-head at the start of March, in what looks set to be a pivotal clash in the title race.

Angel makes his mark at Camp Nou

Barca seem set to be given dispensation to sign a forward due to the season-ending injury suffered by Ousmane Dembele and Angel is one of the players reportedly high on their list.

If he is indeed to wind up as a Barca player in the coming weeks, the 32-year-old did his chances no harm with an exquisite finish - his 10th league goal of the season.

More injury woe for Alba

It has been an injury hit campaign for Barca full-back Alba and his frustrations continued when he hobbled off midway through the first half and he could well now be a doubt for the Champions League encounter with Napoli on February 25, as well as a crucial Clasico on March 1.

What's next?

Barca are at home again in their next league fixture, against Eibar, while Getafe face Ajax in the Europa League on Thursday.

Lionel Messi struck twice as Barcelona bounced back from their first defeat under Quique Setien with a resounding 5-0 victory over Leganes in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey.

A 2-0 loss at Valencia on Saturday resulted in reigning LaLiga champions Barca falling three points adrift of rivals Real Madrid in the title race, but they appeared to get right back on track at Camp Nou on Thursday.

Setien named a strong starting line-up and Antoine Griezmann took less than four minutes to open the scoring, with Clement Lenglet nodding in the second before the half-hour mark.

Messi extended their advantage with a fortuitous finish in the 59th minute, and he doubled his tally after substitute Arthur found the back of the net to send Barca breezing into the quarter-finals.

After Nelson Semedo played a give-and-go with Messi, he cut the ball back to Griezmann, who fired between Chidozie Awaziem's legs and into the bottom-left corner to give Barca an early lead.

Setien's team dominated possession and had a second goal for Griezmann ruled out in the ninth minute, with Jordi Alba deemed to have been marginally offside in the build-up.

Griezmann saw a deflected shot tipped around the post by Ivan Cuellar, but Lenglet nodded the resulting corner from Messi over the Leganes goalkeeper and into the far corner to increase Barca's advantage in the 27th minute.

The visitors sporadically threatened on the counter-attack, yet their hopes of getting back into the game were extinguished when Messi raced away on the right and beat Cuellar with the help of a deflection off Rodrigo Tarin.

Leganes coach Javier Aguirre was shown a yellow card for dissent, and his mood would not have improved in the 77th minute, Arthur firing home after Cuellar denied Ansu Fati and Awaziem blocked Messi on the initial follow-up.

Messi rounded off a magnificent display with one minute remaining by latching onto Ivan Rakitic's throughball, rounding Cuellar and sending the ball into the roof of the net.

 

What does it mean? Barca could rue not getting another striker

With a move for Valencia attacker Rodrigo Moreno having broken down, Barca director Guillermo Amor said they were happy to finish the transfer window without signing attacking cover for Luis Suarez, who has been ruled until close to the end of the season with a knee injury.

This match would have been a good opportunity for Barca to grant Griezmann and Messi a rest, even though they proved pivotal to the result. They are now even more crucial in the run-in and no risks can be taken with the star pairing.

Magical Messi

It was not a spectacular display from Barcelona, but Messi was involved in all five goals. He released Semedo for the opener, assisted Lenglet for the second and got the third and fifth himself. Arthur would not have got on the scoreboard were it not for the Argentina star's initial rebound either.

Not so sterling Silva

It was never going to be an easy task for Jonathan Silva, but he struggled to provide any resistance on the left and lost possession 12 times before being replaced by Kevin Rodrigues in the 57th minute.

What's next?

Barcelona host Levante in LaLiga on Sunday, when Leganes entertain Real Sociedad.

Antoine Griezmann saved Barcelona from Copa del Rey humiliation as he scored a second-half double to see off Ibiza 2-1.

Having made an impressive start to his tenure with a dominant 1-0 win over Granada in which Barca had 82 per cent of possession, Setien rested Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique for the trip to the Balearic island.

LaLiga's pacesetters enjoyed similar superiority in terms of time on the ball, but appeared on course for an incredible upset defeat to the Segunda B club, who took the lead through a goal credited to Josep Caballe inside 10 minutes.

Ibiza had chances to extend their advantage, but the hosts eventually ran out of steam and Griezmann levelled in the 72nd minute, before securing Barca's progression to the last 16 in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

The third-tier club opened the scoring with a goal that will serve as an indelible moment in their history in just the ninth minute of proceedings.

Rai Nascimento's pull-back from the left was met by Javi Perez who, after being allowed to ghost into the box by Riqui Puig, saw his shot deflected beyond Neto by Caballe.

Neto was beaten again eight minutes later, but Angel Rodado's effort was correctly chalked off for his push on Clement Lenglet.

Only the woodwork spared Barca further embarrassment as Rai's close-range effort hit the inside of the left-hand post and bounced out, with Neto palming Rodado's follow-up over the crossbar.

Barca grew more dangerous in the second half and they finally found a way through when Frenkie de Jong fed Griezmann and the France international slotted home in confident fashion.

Extra time looked an inevitability, but Barca were able to ensure they did not have to exert themselves for another half-hour as they found the winner in the fourth of six additional minutes.

Jordi Alba was this time the man to send Griezmann clear and he made no mistake with a near-post finish that broke the hearts of a raucous home crowd.

What does it mean? Setien's tinkering almost backfires

Setien unsurprisingly shuffled his pack for the cup encounter, but a back three of Sergi Roberto, Lenglet and Junior Firpo always looked vulnerable, and so it proved. Barca were fortunate not to fall further behind in the first half and can count themselves very lucky not to have suffered an almighty humbling.

A tale of two halves for Griezmann

Griezmann had the fewest touches (18) of any Barca player in the first half but he contributed the two most important ones of the second to leave Setien breathing a sigh of relief.

Puig caught napping

Brought on for Ivan Rakitic at the weekend as Barca sought the winner against Granada, Puig looks set for an increased role at Barca under Setien, but this was a learning experience for the 20-year-old. He was at fault for the opener and was ineffective at the other end of the pitch, failing to create a single chance.

What's next?

Barca face a tricky trip to Mestalla to face Valencia on Saturday. For Ibiza, it's back to the challenge of earning promotion from Segunda B Group 1, in which they trail leaders Atletico Madrid 'B' by two points. Bottom club SS Reyes are next for Pablo Alfaro's men.

Antoine Griezmann saved Barcelona from Copa del Rey humiliation as he scored a second-half double to see off Ibiza 2-1.

Having made an impressive start to his tenure with a dominant 1-0 win over Granada in which Barca had 82 per cent of possession, Setien rested Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique for the trip to the Balearic island.

LaLiga's pacesetters enjoyed similar superiority in terms of time on the ball, but appeared on course for an incredible upset defeat to the Segunda B club, who took the lead through a goal credited to Josep Caballe inside 10 minutes.

Ibiza had chances to extend their advantage, but the hosts eventually ran out of steam and Griezmann levelled in the 72nd minute, before securing Barca's progression to the last 16 in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

 

FIFA has revealed a record amount was spent on transfers in 2019, with deals for Eden Hazard, Antoine Griezmann and Joao Felix topping the bill.

A report issued by world football's governing body on Wednesday revealed $7.35billion (£5.6billion) was spent by clubs in the transfer market in 2019, an increase of 5.8 per cent on the previous year.

The study also confirmed that English clubs spent the most, though the total figure of $1.52billion (£1.14billion) was a 22.1 per cent decrease from 2018.

Joao Felix's €126million transfer from Benfica to Atletico Madrid – who sold Antoine Griezmann to Barcelona for €120m – was the biggest deal of 2019, while Hazard left Chelsea for Real Madrid in a deal reportedly worth €100m.

Harry Maguire became the world's most expensive defender with a reported £80m switch from Leicester City to Manchester United, while Ajax sold young stars Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong to Juventus and Barcelona respectively for an initial €75m each.

There was also a rise of 16.3 per cent in spending in the women's game, with over 800 transfers made in total.

Luis Suarez said under-fire Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde was not to blame for the team's Supercopa de Espana collapse against Atletico Madrid.

Barca were stunned 3-2 by Atletico in the Supercopa semi-final, conceding two late goals to sensationally lose in Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

Goals from Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann cancelled out Koke's 46th-minute opener until Barca shipped twice in the final nine minutes as Atletico earned a showdown with Real Madrid.

The result plunged Valverde's future further into doubt but star forward Suarez defended the 55-year-old.

"[Valverde] is not to blame, the mistakes were ours and we can't make them," Suarez said post-match.

"I do not know if they are defeats that help us grow, [but] this defeat shows that there are things to correct.

"It shows us that there are mistakes that cannot be committed because we were in control of the game and we have allowed them to hit us on the counter-attack."

Griezmann was frustrated afterwards as the Barca forward lamented the side's errors against LaLiga rivals Atletico in Jeddah.

"I think we lost due to our own errors and they had the legs at the end," Griezmann said. "It cost us and we have to work hard in order to continue.

"We all made errors. I played a bad pass and then their goal arrived. They are errors which can cost you a Champions League or a league title."

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