Jose Mourinho seemingly has Gareth Bale in his Tottenham plans, but he will have to wait until before the start of next season.

Mourinho was named Spurs head coach on Wednesday, a day after the Premier League club sacked Mauricio Pochettino.

Unsurprisingly, there is plenty of talk around his potential movements in the transfer market – including a Tottenham return for Bale.

 

TOP STORY – MOURINHO EYES BALE, BUT CAN'T SPEND IN JANUARY

Mourinho's arrival at Tottenham offers Bale the perfect escape route from Real Madrid, according to AS.

The star attacker left Spurs for Madrid in 2013, but is set to leave the LaLiga giants at season's end, the report says.

Marca reports Madrid have ruled out a January exit for Bale. That would suit Mourinho, who has been told there is no money to spend in the January window, according to The Guardian.

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- Mourinho has more pressing matters at Spurs. The Mirror reports Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, who are out of contract at season's end, are intrigued by the prospect of working under Mourinho and are open minded about their futures.

- It could have been different for Spurs. According to the Daily Mail, Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers was Tottenham's first choice before they turned to Mourinho.

- Meanwhile, the sacked Pochettino may not be out of management for too long. Barcelona and Bayern Munich are ready to pounce for the former Spurs manager, according to The Sun. Ernesto Valverde is under pressure at Camp Nou, while interim boss Hansi Flick will coach Bayern until at least the end of the year.

- Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be getting closer to sorting out his future. Sky Sport reports AC Milan spoke to the departing LA Galaxy striker's agent Mino Raiola on Wednesday about the possibility of a return to San Siro.

- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is in no rush to renew his Arsenal contract and with good reason. Sport reports the forward is waiting to find out how serious Barcelona's interest in him is before extending a deal that runs until 2021.

- Needing a striker, Manchester United are considering a January move for Roma's Edin Dzeko, according to ESPN FC. Dzeko has scored five goals in 12 Serie A games this season, and United are looking to finally bolster their attack after losing Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez in the close season.

- Olivier Giroud has made just one Premier League start for Chelsea this season and the striker could be set for a January exit. La Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter are considering a move for Giroud in January as they look for a back-up for Lukaku.

The RFEF's Technical Committee of Referees is making changes for the Supercopa de Espana, introducing goal-line technology for the first time while improving communication for VAR decisions.

A revamped Supercopa will take place in Saudi Arabia in January, with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Valencia involved.

For the first time in Spanish football, goal-line technology will be implemented in order to aid officials, with previous such calls made with the help of the VAR.

Referees chief Carlos Velasco Carballo explained on Wednesday: "The system consists of 14 cameras on the pitch. A high resolution camera will be on the goal line.

"This system is connected to the referees and, in less than a second, you hear the word 'goal' three times and the watch will vibrates to indicate the goal.

"It's historic in Spanish football."

The use of VAR in the first part of the LaLiga season was also discussed, with Velasco Carballo revealing the system had corrected 19 of 23 officiating errors.

Criticism of VAR has often come from the way calls are communicated to supporters within the stadium, but Velasco Carballo has outlined plans to improve this problem for the Supercopa.

A "Vardict" system on screens aims to ensure fans are kept up to date.

He said: "It will serve to communicate the decisions to the spectators in the stadium, a fundamental aspect in the success of the VAR. They will have the same information as the spectators watching on television."

Jose Mourinho has proven a successful, and controversial figure, during his long managerial career.

Trophies have been plentiful, as have confrontations with rival managers.

There have been clashes in Italy, Spain and England as the former Porto, Chelsea, Inter, Real Madrid and Manchester United has made waves throughout Europe.

Here, we look back at five of Mourinho's most heated moments.


"Demenza senile"

Premier League managers having a go at each other is nothing new, but it felt like Antonio Conte and Mourinho crossed a line in the 2017-18 season. Mourinho appeared to implicate Conte when he suggested counterparts act like "clowns" on the touchline, with the Italian often running into the crowd to celebrate Chelsea goals.

From there, the row quickly escalated. Conte hit back, suggesting Mourinho was suffering from "demenza senile", which translates as senile dementia. Mourinho famously ran down the touchline at Old Trafford when Porto scored a key Champions League winner, but Conte had gone too far and Chelsea quickly clarified that he meant "amnesia".

Having successfully provoked Conte, Mourinho blamed the media for the whole affair and referenced match-fixing allegations made against Siena during Conte's time in charge. The former Italy boss served a ban but was later cleared of any wrongdoing. 

Conte then called Mourinho a "little man" and suggested he would seek to meet his rival "in a room" to sort out their difficulties.

Poking Tito Vilanova in the eye

It was assumed that Pep Guardiola and Mourinho would renew their old rivalry when the pair were appointed by Manchester City and United respectively in 2016, but the row never boiled over.

The closest they have come to fireworks was a clash in the Old Trafford tunnel following City's 2-1 win in the Manchester derby in December 2017. Mourinho allegedly went to the away dressing room to complain over the volume of City's celebrations, only for a melee to ensue. Guardiola was not present at the time and Mourinho later blamed a "diversity in education" between the two Manchester squads for the fracas.

Mourinho and Guardiola go way back, with the Portuguese believing he should have been appointed by Barcelona before they moved for their former player. Later, while in charge of Real Madrid, Mourinho saw his side thrashed 5-0 at Camp Nou, while he was sent off for gouging the eye of Guardiola's assistant, Tito Vilanova, during the 2011 Supercopa de Espana. Mourinho also suggested Guardiola's Barcelona won the 2010-11 Champions League by virtue of generous refereeing.

Wenger a 'specialist in failure'

That Mourinho seemingly lost interest in rowing with former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was probably a sign of how far the Gunners eventually fell under the veteran Frenchman. Mourinho no longer saw Wenger as a rival. It was not always the case, though, as Wenger was the subject of one of the 56-year-old's most famous rants, when he called the Arsenal manager a "specialist in failure".

Mourinho's Chelsea were a point clear of the Gunners atop the Premier League table in February 2014 when the Portuguese hit out at a long trophy-less wait for the Gunners. "If I do that in Chelsea, eight years, I leave and don't come back," Mourinho said.

Back in 2005, Wenger was called a "voyeur" by Mourinho. "He likes to watch other people," he said. "There are some guys who, when they are at home, have a big telescope to see what happens in other families. He speaks, speaks, speaks about Chelsea."

"I don't want to win the Europa League"

Mourinho has often had a problem with managers who succeeded him at clubs, with Rafael Benitez drawing his ire on multiple occasions. 

After Mourinho left Inter, Benitez took over and claimed the Club World Cup with the Serie A side. "I thought he was going to thank me for the title I gave him," said the ex-Porto boss.

Benitez took charge of Chelsea briefly between Mourinho's two spells at Stamford Bridge, leading the Blues to Europa League glory. "I don't want to win the Europa League," Mourinho said. "It would be a big disappointment for me."

Mourinho had obviously changed his tune by 2017, when winning the Europa League earned Manchester United a route into the Champions League.

Parking the bus

At United, Mourinho's team were often accused of 'parking the bus', which is ironic as he is credited with introducing the phrase to English football.

After a 0-0 draw against Tottenham in 2004 during his first Chelsea spell, Mourinho said: "As we say in Portugal, they brought the bus and they left the bus in front of the goal."

And after Inter knocked out Barca on the way to the Champions League title in 2010, Mourinho extended the metaphor further.

"We won the tie in Barcelona, but everyone talks about Barcelona winning and says we parked the bus in front of the goal," said Mourinho. "We didn't park the bus, we parked the plane."

Manchester City are going to great lengths to keep Raheem Sterling.

Though contracted until 2023, the England international's exceptional form has led to links with Real Madrid.

But it could earn him a fresh extension to his bumper deal at the Etihad Stadium.

 

TOP STORY – CITY SEEK STERLING INSURANCE

Premier League champions City have opened contract talks with star forward Sterling, according to the Mirror.

The 24-year-old agreed a new three-year extension a mere 12 months ago but City are taking no chances with his future amid rumours of interest from LaLiga giants Madrid.

Sterling has scored 14 goals in 17 club appearances this season.

 

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- Corriere dello Sport says Juventus are preparing a €100million offer for Valencia winger Ferran Torres, who has also been linked to Liverpool.

- Bayern Munich are interested in Tottenham teenager Troy Parrott and Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson, reports the Daily Mail. Parrott, 17, has caught the eye, while Henderson is on loan at Sheffield United.

- Napoli have offered Fabian Ruiz a contract extension through to 2025, claims Mundo Deportivo. Barcelona and Madrid are rumoured to want the Spain international midfielder.

- According to reports in Spain, Athletic Bilbao want to re-sign Javi Martinez from Bayern Munich. Martinez left the Basque club for Bayern in 2012.

Mauricio Pochettino has been sacked by Tottenham after their frustrating start to the Premier League season, though the Argentinian will seemingly have no shortage of potential suitors.

Pochettino led Spurs to four successive top-four finishes in the league and also oversaw a memorable charge to the Champions League final last season.

Tottenham went down 2-0 to Liverpool in Madrid, however, and with 12 games played in the top flight this term, they sit 14th, having won just three times. They also suffered a humiliating 7-2 home defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League last month.

Despite Spurs opting to make a change, Pochettino is still widely regarded as one of the most sought-after coaches in Europe.

We look at the teams most likely to come calling for his services.

MANCHESTER UNITED

After sacking Jose Mourinho in December 2018, Manchester United were heavily linked with Pochettino, but instead appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

However, since Solskjaer - who was initially handed an interim role at Old Trafford - took permanent charge in March, United's form has been inconsistent to say the least.

The Red Devils have managed just six Premier League victories since Solskjaer was named as their full-time boss and they sit just two points above Spurs in the table.

With a squad still in the midst of an apparent overhaul, United may well now rekindle their interest. Given Pochettino's Premier League experience, Solskjaer could feel the pressure should results not pick up.

REAL MADRID

Real Madrid have also been consistently touted to hold a major interest in Pochettino, with Los Blancos having endured a difficult season in 2018-19 after Zinedine Zidane elected to leave on the back of winning a third straight Champions League.

Zidane returned to the Santiago Bernabeu in March, of course, after a miserable stint from Julen Lopetegui and underwhelming performances under Santiago Solari.

Without Cristiano Ronaldo to call on, Zidane has not had quite the impact as he had during his first spell in charge, though Madrid do sit level on points with LaLiag leaders Barcelona.

Madrid would be able to offer the riches and resources Tottenham never could for Pochettino, but will they oust a club legend to bring him in?

BAYERN MUNICH

Bundesliga champions Bayern were ruthless in their decision to axe Niko Kovac earlier in November and are now on the hunt for a permanent replacement.

Interim coach Hansi Flick has won both of his matches in temporary charge - 2-0 against Olympiacos and 4-0 over Borussia Dortmund - but Bayern might be tempted by the opportunity to appoint a coach with the pedigree of Pochettino.

Like Madrid, Bayern could offer Pochettino plenty of money to spend in the transfer market, though there would also be the added expectation of silverware not only on the domestic front, but also in Europe.

BARCELONA

Citing his loyalty to Espanyol, Pochettino has previously claimed he would not wish to coach Barca - not to mention Lionel Messi. However, should the Catalan giants come calling, it may be difficult for Pochettino to turn down the opportunity to take the helm at Camp Nou.

Ernesto Valverde appeared to be on the brink of losing his job following last season's Champions League capitulation and defeat in the Copa del Rey final.

With Barca stuttering in both LaLiga and the Champions League so far this term, Valverde - who does not seem to be too popular with the club's fanbase - could well be on borrowed time now Pochettino is available.

ARGENTINA

Pochettino may wish to remain in club management for a while longer before moving into international coaching, but the draw of leading his nation towards the 2022 World Cup may be enough to tempt the 47-year-old.

Lionel Scaloni is currently in charge of the Argentina national team, taking the side to a third-place finish in this year's Copa America, though performances have remained inconsistent, with too great a reliance on Messi.

With the Barca forward surely set to feature in his final World Cup – should he play at all – in Qatar, Pochettino may relish the chance to take his country back to the pinnacle of international football.

Matthijs de Ligt feels a degree of regret about choosing Juventus over Barcelona, according to the Catalan club's director of youth football Patrick Kluivert.

Juve beat out strong competition to sign Netherlands international De Ligt from Ajax in June.

The defender had been heavily linked to LaLiga champions Barca but opted to sign a five-year deal in Turin after Ajax accepted an offer worth an initial €75million.

De Ligt was thrust into the starting XI after Giorgio Chiellini suffered a serious knee injury and has faced criticism for conceding two penalties – both for handball – in his nine Serie A appearances.

Former Netherlands striker Kluivert believes the 20-year-old may now be second-guessing his transfer choice.

"I would not say I tried to convince him, I could only tell him very good things about both Barcelona the city, as well as the club," Kluivert told Mundo Deportivo when asked about talks he held with De Ligt.

"But in the end it is the player and his agent who decide. Of course De Ligt is a great defender, but in the end he made a choice. I think he is a little sorry, but it is what it is.

"In life you make choices and sometimes you do it well and sometimes badly. You have to learn from your decisions."

Frenkie de Jong, De Ligt's former Ajax team-mate, did make the move to Barca in the close season and has flourished, with Kluivert praising the "very high quality" midfielder.

Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman coaches both players at international level and has called the Barca job a "possibility" beyond Euro 2020, after which a clause in his contract would allow him to leave for Camp Nou.

When asked whether Koeman could return to the club as head coach, Kluivert told SPORT: "I don't know, maybe, but I insist, out of respect for Valverde, I don't want to talk about other coaches when there's one in a job at this club."

He added: "I know Ronald very well. Out of respect for Valverde, I don't want to position myself.

"[Koeman] is a very good coach, he's doing really well with the Dutch national team."

Real Madrid have confirmed James Rodriguez has sustained a knee injury, which could reportedly rule him out of next month's Clasico against Barcelona.

James has been brought back into the fold by Zinedine Zidane this season after spending two years on loan at Bayern Munich.

The Colombia playmaker - who suffered a calf strain earlier in the campaign - has made nine appearances in all competitions, starting five times, though last featured for Zidane's side in a Champions League victory over Galatasaray on October 22.

However, James could now be set to miss up to six weeks after Madrid announced the 28-year-old has sprained a ligament in his left knee.

Madrid's statement, released on the club's official website, did not place a timeframe on James' recovery, stating the midfielder would continue to be assessed.

Los Blancos face rivals Barca - who currently lead LaLiga on goal difference - on December 18 in the rearranged Clasico at Camp Nou, which was postponed due to political unrest in Catalonia.

Antoine Griezmann accepts his integration to life at Barcelona has not been easy but remains convinced he will be successful at Camp Nou.

After over a year of speculation and transfer rumours, Barca finally secured the signing of Griezmann from Atletico Madrid, triggering his €120million release clause.

While his haul of four LaLiga goals and three assists in 11 matches is hardly alarming, Griezmann's performances have generally failed to inspire much excitement from fans, leaving them somewhat underwhelmed.

It was thought the forward's arrival would alleviate some of the pressure on talisman Lionel Messi, but the Argentina superstar continues to shoulder much of the creative burden.

After Barca coach Ernesto Valverde recently suggested the Frenchman still needs to adapt to the team's style of play, Griezmann is confident of improving with time and has no doubts over his decision to join Barca.

"Barcelona is not the easiest place [to play]," he said in an interview with Telefoot. "It's a new team, a different club, new tactics and a new position and role for me. But it is what it is and it's time to work.

"I'm proud of the decision and where I am, and it will be the work that sorts everything. Trust me and everything will good.

"My goal now is to be an important player in the club, have more minutes, score more goals, make decisive passes, qualify in the Champions League and be up there in the league, be ready for the national team [France] in March and also for Euro 2020.

"I'm a player who thinks about the team. I can score many goals, but that is not my main goal. My goal is to help the team in any way I can."

Barcelona academy product Dani Olmo did not rule out a return to Camp Nou after his impressive form for Dinamo Zagreb led to speculation that the Spanish champions could seek to re-sign him.

The 21-year-old attacking midfielder has scored two goals in six league appearances for Dinamo this season, but it was his performances in Spain's European Under-21 Championship triumph that helped propel him into contention for a transfer to LaLiga.

Olmo netted three times to help Spain's young players to glory and his form in big games has continue in the Champions League, with four goals in nine appearances for a Dinamo side still in contention to reach the knockout stages.

Asked whether his displays might carry him back to Spain, Olmo told Sport: "I hope I can come back, but we've just started the season really well.

"We're doing well in the Champions League. There are two games left and we depend on ourselves to get through. There's a lot of work to be done. 

"The Champions League is a shop window for all young players, especially if you're in a smaller league like Croatia."

Olmo did not make a senior appearance for Barcelona before joining Dinamo as a 17-year-old, but he paid tribute to the training academy at La Masia for giving him strong foundations.

On the speculation over a possible transfer back to Catalonia, Olmo said: "We will see what happens.

"I don't close the door on any club, but I'm a Dinamo player, what happens with Dinamo, we will see.

"Barcelona's style: touch, movement - that's added to what I have learned in Croatia.

"They've made me the player I am now."

Ernesto Valverde has the backing of Barcelona's backroom staff according to sporting director Eric Abidal, who moved to distance the Blaugrana from "clubs that change coaches after bad results".

Barcelona are top of LaLiga, level on points with second-placed Real Madrid, but a 3-1 defeat at Levante and a goalless draw at home to Slavia Prague brought doubts over Valverde's leadership back to the fore among sections of the club's fanbase.

Ronaldo Koeman has been touted as a potential replacement for Valverde, should he leave the position he took up in May 2017.

Abidal admitted that Valverde's position is never far from the headlines, despite his back-to-back LaLiga triumphs, pointing to Barcelona's Champions League eliminations at the hands of Roma in 2017-18 and Liverpool in 2018-19 as sore points for supporters.

"There's always a debate about Valverde," Abidal told SPORT.

"The same thing that happened in Rome happened in Liverpool. Because of one result you can end up thinking that it's been a bad season. And for the way that it happened. 

"In these situations, you can think that the coach is to blame, but you have to analyse everything. What does the coach bring to the team and vice-versa?

"We support the coach and we give him all the information, although the day-to-day is his. There are clubs that change coaches after bad results, but you always have to look at the wider situation.

"If the coach sees that it can be improved, you have to back him."

Antoine Griezmann's performances have also been heavily scrutinised by the Camp Nou faithful since his €120million transfer from Atletico Madrid, and Abidal conceded the France international has not been at his best.

Griezmann has scored four goals in 11 league appearances and only one in his last six domestic outings, leaving him vulnerable to criticism from an expectant crowd.

Abidal backed the 28-year-old to improve, saying: "He knows it's complicated to adapt. Here the movements are different, but he's a player that can add a lot and the coach knows that. 

"Defensively he brings a lot and he can play in many positions. He came because he wants to win the Champions League.

"He knows he's not at his best and that's only fixed by working hard. Griezmann is an intelligent player and the important thing is to know what you can add to the team in the position you are playing."

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.

 

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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."

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