LaLiga president Javier Tebas believes compromises must be made regarding El Clasico kick-off times to cater for viewers in Asia and the United States.

Since Tebas' appointment in April 2013, LaLiga fixtures have been staggered in an attempt to maximise viewing figures across the globe.

The decision to stage matches on Mondays led to protests from supporters, forcing the Spanish Football Federation (SFF) to intervene earlier this year and scrap games taking place on that day.

And Tebas suffered another blow when the clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona was moved from Saturday October 26 to Wednesday December 18, with kick-off scheduled for 8pm CET.

That means viewers in Asia staying up into the early hours of the morning on a midweek day, but Tebas insists the high-profile fixture should have been rescheduled with a foreign audience in mind.

"Of the two Clasicos there are in a season, one should always be so people in Asia can watch without being asleep and the other should always be so people in the US can watch without being asleep," he told The Guardian.

"It is important to recognise that the followers of Spanish football are not just people who live in Spain.

"We must also respect the fans who are in Asia and the Americas – they are also contributing because they pay for their TV subscriptions, which in turn allows the clubs to pay big stars and helps turns LaLiga into a global product."

Tebas is taking a forward-thinking approach as part of his plans for LaLiga to overtake the Premier League as the most lucrative division in the world.

"Our cumulative global audience figure is more than 3.2billion but what that means is hard to say given the concept of an audience is changing," he said.

"Now it is also about 'users' and the minutes they are consuming your content. It could be people who are watching LaLiga matches but it could also be people who are watching highlights on another device. 

"This is a growing trend and why, as well as working to grow our audience, we are working towards having more users.

"I'm convinced in 10 years nobody will be taking about audience figures – instead we'll be taking about users."

Ernesto Valverde has called for perspective over Barcelona's form, with his side top of LaLiga and on track to qualify for the next round of the Champions League.

Barca host Borussia Dortmund in Group F on Wednesday knowing a victory will be enough to book their progression, though they were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Slavia Prague earlier in the month.

While Barcelona have won seven of their past eight league games to sit clear of Real Madrid on goal difference, results such as a loss at Levante have raised questions over Valverde's future.

Frenkie de Jong told reporters that "we're not playing as badly as people think" and Valverde then agreed with the midfielder's assessment when he appeared at a news conference.

"Of course, when we don't play well there are things we have to improve, but you need perspective," Valverde said. 

Lionel Messi would clearly be the most deserving winner of the Ballon d'Or despite Virgil van Dijk's outstanding year, according to Barcelona team-mate Frenkie de Jong.

Liverpool centre-back Van Dijk was long considered the favourite for the prestigious individual honour having helped the Reds to Champions League glory last season.

Van Dijk has also impressed this term as Liverpool – agonisingly pipped to the 2018-19 Premier League title by Manchester City – have surged eight points clear at the summit.

However, Mundo Deportivo claimed on Tuesday that Messi has been told he has won the Ballon d'Or for the sixth time, meaning he will have edged out Van Dijk again having scooped FIFA's The Best Men's Player prize.

De Jong says there is no doubt Messi deserves the recognition.

"For me, I said it a lot but Messi is the best player in the world so he has to win it," he said. 

"Van Dijk had an amazing season, he is a great defender and one of the best players in the world.

"But Messi is above and he is by far the best."

De Jong completed his move to Camp Nou from Ajax in July and has been a standout performer in a Barca side who have failed to convince despite sitting top of LaLiga and Champions League Group F.

The Netherlands midfielder knows the team are capable of showing more consistency but is enjoying life in Catalonia ahead of Wednesday's visit of Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. 

"I'm really happy to be here. It's everything I dreamed of. Of course we can play better, we're working as hard as we can and hopefully everyone can see [on Wednesday] that we're improving," said De Jong.

"We can play better, I think we have an amazing team, most of the best players in the world, so we know we can perform better but we're winning, first in the most difficult group in the tournament. We're not doing really, really bad but of course we can do better.

"We know we can improve, we talk about it a lot, we're training a lot. There's not a single game where a team made no mistakes so it's normal to make mistakes. I think we can improve a lot but we're not playing as badly as people think."

Ernesto Valverde's men have yet to make sure of a place in the knockout stages, although victory at home to Dortmund will get the job done. 

"We know it's really important, if we win we qualify, we're already first in the group," De Jong added.

"It's really important for us, qualifying for the next stage is the most important thing."

Antoine Griezmann revealed he is lacking confidence with decision making, while the Barcelona star said the relationship between himself and Lionel Messi is improving.

Griezmann has struggled to convince since arriving from LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid in a €120million transfer at the start of the season.

The France international has scored four LaLiga goals and supplied three assists for Barca, however, his performances have been underwhelming.

Ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash against Borussia Dortmund, Griezmann told UEFA.com: "I'm in the process of learning and understanding how my team-mates play as everything is new to me.

"I'm still trying to read the runs and off the ball movement from the likes of Luis Suarez, Leo Messi and Ousmane Dembele along with the midfielders. It's my intention to get to grips with this as soon as possible so I can offer my all to the team but at times it's tricky.

"At present when I get the ball I have a certain lack of confidence in when to pass or when to shoot on goal, this I'm sure is something that will change with the passing of time."

Much has been made about the relationship between Griezmann and superstar Barca captain Messi.

Last month, Griezmann admitted to finding it "difficult" to connect with Messi as neither of them are naturally big talkers.

"I'm pretty shy and sometimes have problems talking to others," Griezmann said. "It's rare that I strike up a conversation. Luis [Suarez], Leo and myself have had meals together and the relationship can only improve over time."

On Messi, Griezmann added: "He's the type of player that we're not going to see again for at least 40 years and it's a joy to watch him in action. It really is a privilege to play alongside him."

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are "monsters" who are convinced they are the best player on the pitch in every game, according to Argentina and Juventus forward Paulo Dybala.

The duo are among the greatest players of all time and have won a combined 10 Ballon d'Or trophies since 2008.

Dybala has played alongside Ronaldo at Serie A champions Juve since the Portugal international's move from Real Madrid ahead of the 2018-19 campaign and has teamed up with Barcelona superstar Messi for Argentina over the last four years.

Having seen both players at close quarters, the 26-year-old believes they share a lot of similarities.

"Outside the pitch they are two very quiet people, but inside they are two monsters," he told Spanish newspaper El Pais. 

"I heard Luis Scola [Argentinian basketball player] said both Leo and Cristiano enter the field convinced that they are the best and that is why they are the best. And I am sure that is so.

"My friends used to tell me: 'You have the best in the national team and now they bring you the best one at your club'. I replied: 'It is an advantage for me.'

"I can study them every day. Who doesn't want to play with the best? We are talking about two phenomenal players; two players who are one or two steps above the rest. 

"They are at the top on a football level and also at a mental level. It is not easy to keep going and score 40 goals every year. It is crazy. 

"In the history of football, great players have played at great teams and have not achieved what they did. They have been good for each other."

The battle for Jadon Sancho's signature looks set to begin.

Four high-profile clubs in England and Spain are reportedly monitoring the teenager, one of Europe's brightest prospects.

Aggrieved with recent events at Borussia Dortmund, Sancho could now seek a new home for next season.

 

TOP STORY – CLUBS QUEUE UP FOR 'SCAPEGOAT' SANCHO

Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid are the "leading quartet" of suitors for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to The Athletic.

Former club Manchester City have also asked to be "kept informed" following a string of events that have upset the 19-year-old England winger, notably his first-half substitution in the 4-0 Klassiker loss to Bayern Munich earlier this month.

Sancho's representatives are said to have deemed that move "disgraceful", paving the way for his Dortmund departure at the end of the Bundesliga season.

 

ROUND-UP

Paul Pogba's prolonged absence for Manchester United is part of a concerted effort to force through a January transfer to LaLiga giants Madrid, claims Spanish journalist Paco Gonzalez. Pogba, not sighted since September, is recovering from an ankle injury.

- According to Calciomercato, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is weighing up a move to AC Milan. The 38-year-old is available on a free transfer after leaving MLS outfit LA Galaxy. Ibrahimovic has been linked to Bologna, Tottenham, Napoli and Perth Glory.

West Ham are considering replacing Manuel Pellegrini with Chris Wilder, reports The Mirror. The Hammers are languishing 16th in the Premier League after 13 games, while Wilder's Sheffield United are riding high in sixth. Chris HughtonDavid Moyes and Rafael Benitez are reportedly among the other candidates should West Ham lose patience with Pellegrini.

- Wolves defender Owen Otasowie is wanted by Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Bundesliga team Schalke, reports The Sun. 18-year-old centre-back has also been watched by Liverpool and Arsenal.

- The Mirror reports Aston Villa are leading the race to sign Rhian Brewster on loan in January. Brewster, 19, has been unable to break his way into Liverpool's Premier League plans this term. The report states Villa face competition from Crystal PalaceLeeds United and Swansea City.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says Virgil van Dijk should beat Lionel Messi to Ballon d'Or glory next month.

Dutch defender Van Dijk has had a stunning year with Liverpool, helping the Reds win the Champions League in June.

They narrowly missed out on last season's Premier League title but are heading the chase for domestic glory in England this term after an unbeaten start.

Klopp can see why Barcelona superstar Messi would be a popular choice for the individual honour, because of his career accomplishments.

But rather than give a sixth Ballon d'Or to Messi, Klopp believes there is a strong case for Liverpool's defensive talisman to walk away with the trophy at the Paris ceremony on December 2.

Real Madrid's Croatian playmaker Luka Modric was last year's winner of the prize, which is awarded annually by France Football magazine.

Klopp said: "If you give the Ballon d'Or to the best player of this generation, then you can give it always to Lionel Messi, that's how it is.

"But if you give it to the best player of last season, then it was Virgil van Dijk.

"So I don't know exactly how it will work, but that's how I see it.

"If it's for the best player of all, then it's Lionel. The best player of last season, it's Virgil. We will see."

Van Dijk also helped Netherlands to qualify for Euro 2020 this year, while Messi featured as Argentina finished third at the Copa America.

Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc has warned coach Lucien Favre the club's situation is "more than unsatisfactory" and demanded improvements against Barcelona on Wednesday.

Dortmund are struggling for results in the Bundesliga and a 3-3 draw at home against bottom club Paderborn on Friday left them with just two wins from their last eight league matches.

The Champions League has provided welcome respite for Favre's men this season and they sit second in Group F, just one point behind Barcelona.

Victory at Camp Nou would ease pressure building on the coach's position.

While there has been no explicit suggestion of a change in coach at Signal Iduna Park, Zorc made it clear the board are concerned.

"Obviously the topic will be discussed publicly because our situation is more than unsatisfactory," Zorc told Funke Sport.

"Of course we will analyse that very intensively. But we are going to the match in Barcelona with Lucien Favre and we expect to see a significant increase in performance there.

"We need a performance. We finally need a good performance on the pitch so you can look forward."

Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke also chose to speak out after the Paderborn result, reassuring Favre he still has the club's backing.

However, he made it clear the team's current form would not be allowed to continue without consequences.

"Dear Lucien, you still have our trust," Watzke said at the club's AGM. "But in the end football is always defined by results.

"We all hope you and the team are able to turn this around. You have all the support we can give you."

Directing a stern message towards the club's players, he added: "Pull yourselves together and play like it is expected from Borussia Dortmund. You as a team must know that only words are not enough.

"It is your duty to let them be followed by actions."

Former Barcelona and Argentina star Javier Mascherano has agreed to join Primera Division side Estudiantes.

The 35-year-old left Barcelona at the end of the 2017-18 season to sign a deal with Chinese Super League outfit Hebei China Fortune.

He has made 53 appearances for the club over the past two seasons but will now make a return to Argentina 14 years after leaving River Plate for Brazilian side Corinthians.

Estudiantes announced the deal on social media alongside a video of president and former Seleccion team-mate Juan Sebastian Veron dining with Mascherano.

"We have travelled 19,000km to welcome Javier to the Pincha family," the club wrote on Twitter. "Estudiantes is your home, Mascherano."

Mascherano retired from international duty after the 2018 World Cup, having amassed a national record 147 caps.

Estudiantes are seventh in the Primera Division after picking up 22 points from their opening 13 games.  

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique denied his Davis Cup commitments are a distraction and has demanded respect from his critics.

The 32-year-old has spent a large part of the week travelling to Madrid due to the involvement of his company Kosmos in the revamped international tennis team event.

Head coach Ernesto Valverde gave Pique permission to make the trips to the Spanish capital, but he publicly warned the centre-back he would not play against Leganes on Saturday if his focus was not on Barcelona.

After playing a full part in Barca's 2-1 win at Estadio Municipal de Butarque, Pique explained his extra-curricular activities have had no impact on his performances on the field.

"I had friendly talks with [Valverde] this week," Pique told reporters. "He asked me what the plans for this week were and how we were going to do it.

"The relationship between me and him is good and we get along well. We talk every week and everything with him and the club is going well.

"It is more about the noise from the outside, which centres around whether I'm in Madrid, or if I have dinner here or there. It is all part of the circus and part of my job, but I try to do my best.

"In the end, they are 40-minute trips. I think we give a lot of attention to who I am and who I represent, but I try to make things as simple as possible. People can opine whatever they want, but respect me."

Pique, who planned to stay in Madrid to watch the semi-finals of the Davis Cup, talked up the importance of his side's comeback against Leganes.

Youssef En-Nesyri gave bottom side Leganes an early lead, but Luis Suarez and substitute Arturo Vidal hit back in the second half for Barcelona, who continue to jostle with Real Madrid for the LaLiga ascendancy.

"It was important for the team to continue winning in order to gain confidence," Pique said.

"If at the beginning of the season you told us we would be the leaders in LaLiga and our Champions League group, we would have taken it.

"In terms of the game, we know we can improve but the most important thing is to win games."

Ernesto Valverde acknowledged Barcelona were far from convincing against Leganes but was content to come away from Estadio Municipal de Butarque with a win.

Barca hit back with a couple of second-half goals in Saturday's clash against LaLiga's bottom side after falling behind to Youssef En-Nesyri's impressive early strike.

Luis Suarez headed in Lionel Messi's floated free-kick and substitute Arturo Vidal completed the comeback 11 minutes from time with a scrappy goal.

A third away win in four outings for Barca moved them three points clear at the top of LaLiga, but Valverde conceded his side were again below par on their travels.

"We have to be happy," he told Movistar. "I know it was not a brilliant game and we know it was a difficult game to play because they made it difficult for us.

"The opponents showed lots of hunger and it was windy, but I don't want to make excuses. They defended well and made it difficult for us to play.

"We have not had a good start away from home because we have lost three games - that hurts. 

"It was not a brilliant game, but on the other hand we were a goal down - something that has happened to us many times - and we came away with a victory.

"The positive is that we were losing and won. I recognise that it has been a difficult match, but these are the matches we have to win."

Valverde fielded an attacking line-up for the trip to the Spanish capital that included Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Suarez and Ousmane Dembele in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

The front four interchanged throughout but created only one chance of note in the first half, with Suarez being denied by Ivan Cuellar.

"We have practised with that formation since the players returned from international duty," Valverde said. "We expected to have space in behind, but once Leganes scored that changed.

"It is clear we have to keep improving. Even when you win there will by a lot of criticism, because people not only look at the result but also the game.

"But we also did good things today, otherwise we would not have won."

Vidal scored 22 minutes after being introduced from the bench to make it four goals in nine LaLiga appearances this season.

The midfielder was initially flagged for offside, but the goal was allowed to stand as the final touch from Dembele's corner came off opposition midfielder Ruben Perez's leg.

"It's always nice to score when it gives us three points," Vidal told Movistar. "It was a difficult match and we had to rescue the points. 

"It was very cold, we were coming off the back of a break and our opponents were playing for their lives.

"The new system was the coach's idea. We did not start well but in the second half we controlled play with the system we usually use."

Substitute Arturo Vidal rescued Barcelona with a scrappy late goal as the leaders of LaLiga recovered from an early setback to win 2-1 at bottom side Leganes on Saturday.

Barca boss Ernesto Valverde fielded an attacking line-up that included Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele in a 4-2-3-1 formation, but it did not look like paying off for large parts.

Leganes have won just once all season but the underdogs took the lead through Youssef En-Nesyri's sublime early strike, before the champions hit back in the second half.

Suarez dragged his side back on level terms and Vidal scored in fortuitous fashion 11 minutes from time to move Barca three points clear at the summit, the winning goal allowed to stand after a VAR check showed the midfielder was not offside due to the ball reaching him via a Leganes player.

Barcelona lost 2-1 at Leganes last season and were behind inside 12 minutes on this latest trip, En-Nesyri cutting inside on his left and curling the ball into the top-left corner.

Suarez wasted a couple of promising opportunities before forcing an excellent fingertip save from Ivan Cuellar with a header from Dembele's cross.

But the Uruguay international found a way through eight minutes into the second half after being left free on the edge of the six-yard box to head in Messi's free-kick.

Barcelona took control of the contest but were left frustrated until Vidal struck 22 minutes after being introduced from the bench.

Vidal was left in space to bundle the ball past Cuellar from close range after Dembele's corner deflected into his path, the touch off the leg of Ruben Perez ensuring the goalscorer was onside despite Leganes' protests.

Barcelona are preparing for next season and they have several players on their wish list.

The LaLiga leaders are enjoying a decent campaign in 2019-20, but they already have one eye on 2020-2021.

Inter's Lautaro Martinez, Bayern Munich's Joshua Kimmich and Fiorentina's Nikola Milenkovic are reportedly their main targets.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA TARGET MARTINEZ, KIMMICH AND MILENKOVIC

Martinez, Kimmich and Milenkovic are Barcelona's main targets ahead of 2020-21, according to AS.

If they miss out on Kimmich, they will look to RB Leipzig's Lukas Klostermann, the report says.

Meanwhile, Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen is another option, while Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a target if they cannot land Martinez.

ROUND-UP

- Mauricio Pochettino could be set for a quick return to management. Bayern Munich want to hold talks with the former Tottenham manager, according to The Telegraph.

- Could the impact of Jose Mourinho be felt at Tottenham already? Toby Alderweireld, who is out of contract at the end of the season, could stay at Spurs after Mourinho's arrival, The Telegraph also reports.

- Roma could extend Lorenzo Pellegrini's contract, but several clubs are interested in the midfielder. Manchester United, Tottenham, Juventus, AC Milan and Inter have shown some interest in Pellegrini, according to CalcioMercato.

- Marko Pjaca has failed to have an impact since his arrival at Juventus in 2016. CalcioMercato reports the Croatian attacker, who has already been on loan at Schalke and Fiorentina since his arrival in Turin, could be set for another spell away from Juve in January.

- Chelsea have a target in January if their transfer ban is overturned. The Premier League giants have been monitoring CSKA Moscow striker Fedor Chalov, according to Sky Sports. The 21-year-old scored 15 Russian Premier League goals last season and has five in 16 games in 2019-20.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi talked up the significance of the Ballon d'Or, but said even the individual award came down to team success.

Messi, 32, is a five-time winner of the prize, claiming it in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.

Only Cristiano Ronaldo has won the award as many times and Messi said it was a huge honour, although he acknowledged his team-mates were key to his success.

"It is a beautiful recognition and perhaps the most special was the first," he told Otro.

"It is something that comes from the collective. Without having achieved all the collective successes that we had to achieve, I wouldn't have been able to get these individual awards."

Messi will again be among the favourites to win the Ballon d'Or this year, having enjoyed a fine 2019 for Barcelona.

The 2010 Ballon d'Or is among Messi's favourites after he claimed the honour ahead of team-mates Andres Iniesta and Xavi in a Barcelona clean sweep.

"The image of the three nominees for the Ballon d'Or, it was special for us because of the friendship we have," he said.

"Being so long in the same club, all three living practically the same during our whole careers and special for the club.

"For what it means, the truth, it was impressive."

Barcelona, who are top of LaLiga, return to action with a trip to Leganes on Saturday.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.