Barcelona will always be interested in Neymar but it is financially difficult to re-sign him, the club's sporting director Eric Abidal has admitted.

Neymar attempted to secure a move back to Camp Nou in the close season, two years after leaving for Paris Saint-Germain in a deal that made him the most expensive player in history.

LaLiga champions Barca held talks with PSG but were unable to meet the Ligue 1 side's demands.

Lionel Messi suggested some at the Catalan club did not want Neymar to return, though it appears he will remain a target.

"A top player, who has a Barca philosophy and who is performing at a high level, will always be an option," Abidal told Mundo Deportivo.

"We can make decisions on the sporting level but the whole financial issue, there are things that you can do and others you cannot. The future will tell us.

"I will not say it would be option number one, because the season is very long, but clearly it can be an option."

Barca reignited their interest in Neymar amid a desire to find a long-term successor to ageing striker Luis Suarez.

The search is said to have led them to highly rated Inter forward Lautaro Martinez.

Asked about the 22-year-old, Abidal said: "He is a complete player. I think he is performing at a great level. He is a player we know.

"There are other players who also have a lot of quality... but I don't pay much attention to the player who plays every weekend, I look at others."

Barca did boost their attacking options with the addition of Antoine Griezmann in July and Abidal said Suarez had been briefed on the club's intentions to pursue another competitor for his starting spot.

"I am transparent with the players," the Frenchman said. "Luis can tell you, because last year I already told him that it was going to be like that, that we were going to look for an offensive player.

"He accepted it because he wants the best for the team. Today, I can tell you that there is no priority. The planning will always be done, no matter the position on the field, the only change will be the decision."

Lionel Messi is in talks with Barcelona over a new contract, the Spanish club's sporting director Eric Abidal has confirmed.

The Argentina international has spent 18 years with Barca but his future has been called into question after it emerged earlier this year he can leave Camp Nou for free at the end of any season.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi is officially contracted to the LaLiga champions until 2021, but Abidal is hopeful fresh terms can soon be agreed.

"They are already talking," he told Mundo Deportivo. "I do not know if we will have news soon because the decision will depend on the player, but for us as a club I hope it is sorted as soon as possible."

Asked when he expects an agreement to be announced, Abidal said: "It will be known when it is known, but I am positive."

Abidal also confirmed academy product Ansu Fati is in line for a contract extension, having impressed in his breakthrough campaign.

"We are also talking to him," Abidal said. "He is a young player that we have to protect. We have to talk to his family and representatives."

Manchester United have hatched a plan that could help bring Erling Haaland to Old Trafford.

The Premier League side are reportedly contemplating a compromise that will curry favour with Salzburg, the young star's present employers.

Considered the favourites in that chase, United also appear set to jump the queue for another of Europe's most admired teenage talents.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED WILLING TO WAIT FOR HAALAND

Manchester United are prepared to consider loaning Erling Haaland straight back to Salzburg if a deal can be struck in January, such is their determination to land the sought-after striker.

According to ESPN, United could allow Haaland to stay in Austria until the end of the season in an attempt to defuse a potential bidding war.

Spanish newspaper AS suggest the Red Devils are "pushing the hardest" for the 19-year-old, who has been valued at €100million – a figure that might price even Real Madrid out of the market.

 

ROUND-UP

United are unlikely to stop at Haaland when the transfer window reopens. The club are weighing up whether to bring forward a planned end-of-season approach for Jadon Sancho in order to capitalise on uncertainty over the winger's Borussia Dortmund future, reports The Guardian.

Juventus are becoming concerned about the increasing level of interest from Spain and England in highly rated Brescia midfielder Sandro Tonali, according to Calciomercato. The Serie A champions could be forced to make a move sooner rather than later as his suitors gain in number and his price tag rises above €40m.

- That sum, Calciomercato claims, is the minimum Juve will demand for out-of-favour defenders Daniele Rugani and Merih Demiral. Both players have been linked to Arsenal.

Boca Juniors are eyeing another showpiece signing. Argentina-based football journalist Martin Castilla told CNN Deportes the South American giants are keen on luring Luis Suarez away from Barcelona. San Lorenzo vice-president Marcelo Tinelli expressed interest in the 32-year-old earlier in the week.

- Returning to Serie A and it looks like Wojciech Szczesny will be staying in Turin. Sky Sport Italia reporter Gianluca Di Marzio says the Polish goalkeeper has agreed a contract extension with Juve through to 2024.

Lionel Messi proves he is the best player in the world day after day at Barcelona and "everyone knows" it to be true, says Luis Suarez.

Uruguayan striker Suarez last month celebrated the fifth anniversary of his debut for the Camp Nou giants, and since his switch from Liverpool to LaLiga he has forged a devastating partnership with Messi.

This season is proving no different, with the duo contributing 14 LaLiga goals between them despite Messi having missed early games of the season with injury.

The debate as to who is the greatest player in the world between Messi and former Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo, now at Juventus, has rumbled on for over a decade.

But for Suarez, there is simply nobody better than Argentinian Messi.

"Messi has helped me a lot in my personal growth. We had an affinity from the beginning. From coexistence came friendship, and the moments I spent with him also helped on the pitch," Suarez told Barcelona's official website.

"Everyone knows that he is the best in the world. He has proven it and continues to prove it day after day.

"He has shown me his companionship a thousand times. He helped me when I was fighting for the Golden Boot. The other day, at Eibar, he gave me a goal."

Despite heading into the international break at the top of LaLiga, Barca coach Ernesto Valverde has found himself under pressure having seen his side drop 11 points from 12 matches this term.

Barca have a tricky period over the coming month, with Champions League fixtures against Borussia Dortmund and Inter, a trip to Atletico Madrid and the rescheduled Clasico with Madrid on December 18.

Suarez, though, is relishing what is to come.

He said: "A very nice month is ahead. We like those, both as footballers and also people. There will be a Clasico too.

"You have to be mentally and physically prepared. Maybe we won't win every game or have it easy, but we hope to do our best with the support of the fans.

"We have not had a simple league start. We gave away points that in other years we hadn't lost, but we know that other teams are also competing well."

Gerard Pique concedes Barcelona can improve but claims the level of criticism they have received this season has been unfair.

Barca lead LaLiga after 12 games despite having suffered three defeats, two more than title rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

Ernesto Valverde's men returned to form ahead of the international break with a 4-1 win over Celta Vigo, which followed a 3-1 loss at Levante and goalless Champions League draw with Slavia Prague.

While some have taken issue with results and performances alike, centre-back Pique feels the assessments have been unjust.

"We have won the last two league titles, we are the leaders in LaLiga and in the Champions League and the criticisms we are receiving are excessive," Pique told radio programme El Partidazo de COPE.

"Can we play better? Of course, but there is still a lot of the season left.

"Barca is the least result-focused team in the world. It's not enough to win, the fans have made that clear. We have to win playing well and it's true that right now we are not at the level that we should be."

Lionel Messi's hat-trick powered the Spanish champions to last weekend's victory, with Sergio Busquets adding the fourth.

Antoine Griezmann failed to find the net before being replaced and has now gone five club games without a goal.

Before the Celta match, Barca boss Valverde suggested the France international is still adjusting to a new playing style.

Pique expects Griezmann, formerly the star of Diego Simeone's Atletico side, will eventually get to grips with being a supporting cast member.

"He always succeeded with Real Sociedad and Atletico, but it is true that he has come to a team, Barca, which does not play for him," he said.

"In that sense, he has to know how to find his space, but he will find it because he has a lot of talent.

"I particularly value how much he helps us in defensive tasks."

Inter have a fight on their hands to retain the services of star forward Lautaro Martinez.

Martinez has been heavily linked to LaLiga champions Barcelona as they search for Luis Suarez's long-term replacement.

But Manchester City and United are both reportedly interested in the Argentina international.

 

TOP STORY – CITY & UNITED TARGET MARTINEZ

Manchester City and Premier League neighbours United want to sign Inter star Martinez, according to The Mirror.

Martinez – who is only in his second season in Milan after joining from Racing Club in 2018 – has flourished this term with eight goals across all competitions for Antonio Conte's Inter.

LaLiga champions Barcelona have been linked, while the two Manchester clubs are also reportedly targeting the 22-year-old forward.

 

ROUND-UP

- Unhappy at Barcelona, Ivan Rakitic could remain in LaLiga. The Croatia international has attracted interest from the likes of Inter, United and Paris Saint-Germain in his pursuit of more game time. However, Movistar+ claims Atletico Madrid are willing to meet Barca's €40million valuation of Rakitic. Marca adds that Atletico do not plan to replace Diego Costa due to salary constraints.

- The Mirror says Arsenal scouted Leicester City defender Caglar Soyuncu during Turkey's Euro 2020 qualifier against Iceland on Thursday. Soyuncu moved to Leicester from Freiburg in 2018 and the 23-year-old has stepped up to fill the void left by Harry Maguire, who joined United in a world-record deal.

- Zlatan Ibrahimovic out and Edinson Cavani in for LA Galaxy? According to Gianluca Di Marzio, MLS side the Galaxy are targeting Paris Saint-Germain's Cavani following Ibrahimovic's exit. The Uruguay forward is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked to David Beckham's Inter Miami franchise, who will open their inaugural season against the Galaxy next year.

Inter will need to fork out €30m if they want to sign Udinese's Rodrigo de Paul in January, reports Calciomercato. The Express also reports that Inter are ready to offer out-of-favour Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud an 18-month contract. Conte is determined to add depth up front, with Martinez and Romelu Lukaku leading the way in the absence of injured loanee Alexis Sanchez.

- Corriere dello Sport claims Roma have joined the chase for Everton forward Moise Kean. The 19-year-old has struggled since moving to the Premier League from Juventus, and the likes of Sampdoria and AC Milan are lining up to bring the teenager back to Serie A on loan.

Luis Suarez welcomed Barcelona's search for a new striker despite the threat it could bring to his starting spot.

LaLiga leaders Barca have been linked to Lautaro Martinez, Erling Haaland and Carlos Vela as they seek to strengthen Ernesto Valverde's attacking options.

The club failed to bring Neymar back from Paris Saint-Germain during the close season, leaving the squad light on competition for natural centre-forward Suarez.

The 32-year-old has scored six goals in eight LaLiga starts this season but knows he will not always be able to perform at the highest level.

"There will come a time when my age will not allow me to live up to what Barcelona needs to compete," Suarez told Uruguayan publication Ovacion.

"But as long as I can, as long as I have the strength, giving me competition is much better.

"That they are looking for or want to bring another number nine is nothing strange, it is the reality of football.

"It will be better for me and better for the club, because it will feed competition, and it will be better for the future because the club can prepare a player with the help of all the great players at Barcelona."

Suarez joined Barca from Liverpool in 2014 and is now in his sixth season at Camp Nou.

The former Ajax forward plans to continue his career until at least the 2022 World Cup, which would be his fourth appearance at the tournament.

"I hope so," he said. "I am really convinced of that, yes."

Suarez is part of the Uruguay squad for the upcoming international friendlies against Hungary (November 15) and Argentina (November 18), his first involvement with the national team since the Copa America in June.

Ronald Koeman claims there is a "possibility" he could become Barcelona's next coach, but not before presiding over Netherlands' Euro 2020 campaign should they qualify.

The 56-year-old spent six years at Barca as a player before later having a spell as Louis van Gaal's assistant from 1998 to 2000 and he has been strongly linked with a return since overseeing an impressive improvement of the Netherlands national team.

Koeman took over the Oranje last year after they had missed out on a spot at the 2018 World Cup, but he has since transformed them into a force, leading the team to the Nations League final and on course to qualify for Euro 2020.

It was recently confirmed Koeman has a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave Netherlands for Camp Nou if the situation arose after the Euros, and with Ernesto Valverde under increasing pressure it looks likely a change could be made in the next year.

Koeman insists he would not turn his back on Netherlands before Euro 2020, however.

"Joining [Barcelona] is a possibility," Koeman told reporters. "But only after Euro 2020.

"I don't know if I'll keep [speaking about the Barca job] in the future because it's a bit strange to speak about the possibility of going to the club while you're the Netherlands coach.

"There is no other side I would leave Netherlands for except for Barcelona."

Netherlands have two Euro 2020 qualifiers remaining against Northern Ireland and Estonia. They head into the double-header level on 15 points with Germany in Group C, but ahead of them by virtue of a better head-to-head record.

Barcelona claimed a 2-0 win at third-tier side Cartagena on Wednesday in a match raising money for those affected by flooding in Murcia earlier this year.

A year's worth of rain fell in 24 hours back in September, causing significant damage to farmland, properties and facilities in the south-eastern region.

The charity fundraiser was well attended for the visit of Barca, who named a strong starting XI that included Neto, Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto, Junior Firpo and Ousmane Dembele.

Former Spain international Pique was withdrawn with the game still level in the 37th minute, while Dembele followed at half-time.

Despite the presence of first-team regulars, it was highly rated 20-year-old midfielder Riqui Puig who caught the eye most, impressing with his vision, close control and positive approach. 

Puig played a role in the opening goal just past the hour, prodding the ball to Carles Perez on the edge of the box after being crowded out and the forward lashed home.

Alejandro Marques wrapped things up late on, turning home Sergio Akieme's low cross.

Lionel Messi has earned his first inclusion in FIFA Ultimate Team's Team of the Week this season following his stunning hat-trick in Barcelona's 4-1 win over Celta Vigo.

Barca – who went into the game having not won either of their previous two matches – appeared to be in a spot of bother on Saturday when Lucas Olaza cancelled out Messi's penalty.

But two stunning free-kicks either side of the break lifted a generally sloppy Barca and Sergio Busquets completed the scoring late on.

Messi is joined in the TOTW's attack by arguably Europe's deadliest striker in Robert Lewandowski, whose brace in the 4-0 crushing of his former club – and Bayern Munich's bitter rivals – Borussia Dortmund took him to a remarkable 16 Bundesliga goals from 11 matches.

Salzburg hotshot Erling Haaland is enjoying a similarly incredible campaign. The Norwegian youngster netted hat-trick number five of the season at the weekend, but he only takes a place among the substitutes.

Below, we examine the entire squad that is now up for grabs online.

FUT Team of the Week

GK: Wojciech Szczesny (Juventus/Piemonte Calcio) – 87

RB: Ander Capa (Athletic Bilbao) – 82

LB: Alex Telles (Porto) – 86

LB: Andrew Robertson (Liverpool) – 86

RB: Ricardo Pereira (Leicester City) – 84

CM: Nicolo Barella (Inter) – 83

CDM: Donny van de Beek (Ajax) – 84

LW: Dimitri Payet (Marseille) – 84

CAM: Radja Nainggolan (Cagliari) – 86

ST: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) – 91

RW: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – 95

SUBSTITUTES

GK: Ben Foster (Watford) – 83

CB: Sergiy Kryvtsov (Shakhtar Donetsk) – 81

LM: Mislav Orsic (Dinamo Zagreb) – 82

LM: Denis Bouanga (Saint-Etienne) – 81

RW: Patrick Herrmann (Borussia Monchengladbach) – 81

ST: Erling Haaland (Salzburg) – 82

ST: Rouwen Hennings (Fortuna Dusseldorf) – 80

RESERVES

CF: Henry Martin (Club America) – 80

LM: Victor Rodriguez (Seattle Sounders) – 79

RWB: Christopher Trimmel (Union Berlin) – 79

ST: Cyriel Dessers (Heracles) – 76

ST: Christian Doidge (Hibernian) – 75

Barcelona will host Real Madrid on December 18 in the first Clasico of the 2019-20 campaign after LaLiga approved the clubs' preferred date for the match.

Barca had been due to host their bitter rivals on October 26, only for the game to be postponed amid concerns over civil and political unrest in Catalonia.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) accepted a joint request from the clubs to reschedule for December 18.

LaLiga's preference was December 7, so it could stage its showpiece fixture on a Saturday, and confirmed it would assess the possibility of legal action following RFEF's announcement.

However, a tweet from the organisation on Wednesday confirmed a December 18 Clasico with a kick-off time of 20:00 CET.

Barcelona and Real Madrid are level on 25 points at the top of LaLiga after 12 matches this season, with the Blaugrana leading on goal difference.

Atletico Madrid are a point further back in third but have played a game more as a result of the Clasico postponement.

AC Milan are desperate to add some firepower, but the Serie A side may not be opting for Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Ibrahimovic, 38, has been linked with a return to San Siro as the superstar prepares to leave LA Galaxy at the end of his contract.

However, Milan are considering their options.

 

TOP STORY – MILAN LOOK ELSEWHERE AMID IBRAHIMOVIC LINKS

AC Milan are eyeing Napoli star Dries Mertens and Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic, according to Tuttosport.

Stefano Pioli's men are struggling in 14th in Serie A, having scored just 11 goals in 12 league games.

Krzysztof Piatek is Milan's leading goalscorer in the league, but he has managed just three in 12.

The report says Ibrahimovic remains an option in the background.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus stars are expecting an apology from Cristiano Ronaldo after his outburst on Sunday, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. Ronaldo reportedly left the stadium after being substituted in the second half of Juve's 1-0 win over Milan.

- Expect movement at Barcelona in January. Sport reports the LaLiga champions could sell Ivan Rakitic, Carles Alena and Moussa Wague without making any additions. Meanwhile, ESPN FC says Barcelona consider €100million too high a price to pay for Salzburg star Erling Haaland.

- Dani Olmo is still attracting interest from Europe's biggest clubs. CalcioMercato reports the Spanish attacker is ready to leave Dinamo Zagreb, who want €40m amid interest from Manchester City, AC Milan and Roma.

- Amid a lack of playing time at Real Madrid, Brahim Diaz and Mariano have been offered to Espanyol, according to Sport. Brahim has played just 18 LaLiga minutes this season, while Mariano is yet to feature in 2019-20.

- Andrea Belotti is set to re-sign with Torino. The striker – who has scored seven goals in 12 Serie A games this season – will get higher wages and a release clause of €100m, which will apply only for foreign clubs, according to CalcioMercato.

- Inter want to make as many as three signings in January, according to Tuttosport. Second in the Serie A table, one of those additions is set to depend on how much Inter bring in from the sale of Gabriel Barbosa – the forward is on loan at Flamengo.

Ivan Rakitic feels like Barcelona have "taken my ball" after being confined to a marginal role at Camp Nou this season.

An influential performer since joining Barca ahead of their treble-winning 2014-15 campaign, Rakitic has been the odd man out this term following the big-money arrival of Netherlands star Frenkie de Jong.

The Croatia midfielder has only started on one of his seven LaLiga appearances, while three Champions League outings have all come from Ernesto Valverde's bench.

Asked about his predicament in an interview with Universo Valdano on Movistar, Rakitic replied: "How can I enjoy it? It's like I've said many times, how does my little daughter feel when you take a toy from her?

"She feels sad. Well, I feel the same. They took my ball. I feel sad."

Rakitic withdrew from Croatia's squad to face Slovakia and Georgia due to an Achilles injury on Tuesday.

Serie A giants Juventus, Inter and AC Milan have all been mentioned as potential January suitors for the 31-year-old, who feels he still has plenty to offer.

"I understand and respect the decisions of the coach or a club or whatever, but I think I've given a lot in these five years and I've been at my peak here," Rakitic added.

"And what I want is to be able to continue enjoying, that is the most important thing for me. I enjoy playing. 

"I'm 31 years old, I'm not 38, and I feel at my best."

Clement Lenglet says Antoine Griezmann is happy at Barcelona and is confident his team-mate will become a Camp Nou success.

Griezmann has failed to find his best form in Catalonia since joining Barca from Atletico Madrid in a €120million transfer during the close season.

The 28-year-old has been used predominantly in a wide role and has four goals in 15 matches in all competitions, failing to find the net in his past five outings.

However, Lenglet - also a colleague at international level with France - believes Griezmann is still learning to adapt to a new style of play following five seasons under Diego Simeone at Atleti.

"It's not simple to fit in at a club like Barcelona," Lenglet told a news conference on Tuesday. "Some players are already there and have a history together.

"Like in the French national team, there is a very specific way of playing - how we're positioned is different than what Antoine knew at Atletico, where he was starting from far back.

"You need time to adapt to feel better on the pitch and play as well as possible. 

"At Barcelona, we're trying to recover the ball as high as possible on the pitch with a lot of efforts on 20 to 30 metre runs. With Atletico, it was a bit different, they were falling back, and it was 50 to 60 metre runs. So you have to learn that, you need time. 

"Physically it's different, and mentally as well, you need to prepare. Antoine is working on that every day during training, and it's going to be better and better during games, I'm sure of it."

Asked if Griezmann performs differently for his country, speaking ahead of Euro 2020 qualifiers against Moldova and Albania, Lenglet added: "'Different' is a big word, but when he's with the national team, he's having a lot of fun.

"He's been there for a long time, he played a few big tournaments with the team, and he won a really beautiful one. Of course, he knows this place very well, he's very happy to be here, he has a strong history with the team. 

"But he's also very happy to be at Barcelona, even if you're saying otherwise. He's smiling every day and likes to be happy on and off the pitch."

Griezmann admitted last month he had found it "difficult" connecting with Barca superstar Lionel Messi as neither of them are naturally big talkers.

Messi later played down suggestions of any issues, and Lenglet has praised the Argentina superstar for the way he helps new players to adapt at Camp Nou.

"[Messi] is very clam, very relaxed, very normal," he said. "When you arrive at Barcelona, you're careful about what you're doing but it's not Leo who's coming over to tell you off when you make a mistake. 

"He's very simple, he lets you play. This is how it went with Antoine and I. Step by step, you talk to him. 

"He gets along very well with Luis [Suarez] but he's very open with the others, so you can talk about many things, not only football. He's a simple man and he helps us every day."

Ivan Rakitic has left the Croatia squad to return to Barcelona with an Achilles injury.

The midfielder had been called up by head coach Zlatko Dalic for Saturday's final Euro 2020 qualifying match against Slovakia, in which a draw will be enough for the World Cup finalists to progress from Group E.

Croatia then meet Georgia in a friendly match next week.

However, Rakitic has gone back to Catalonia due to a heel problem and has not been named in the Barca squad for a charity game against Cartagena, the club confirmed on Tuesday.

He told Novi List in his homeland: "I'm afraid I cannot help the team, but I'm convinced my team-mates will have success without me."

The 31-year-old has struggled for regular football this season, starting just once in LaLiga for Ernesto Valverde's side.

The former Sevilla star has been linked with a possible January move, with Juventus, Inter and AC Milan among the clubs said to be interested.

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