Luis Suarez labelled his stunning back-heel effort for LaLiga champions Barcelona as the best goal of his career.

Suarez scored a memorable goal as Barca defeated Real Mallorca 5-2 at Camp Nou on Saturday to regain top spot in LaLiga.

While Lionel Messi bagged a record-breaking hat-trick, Suarez capped a wonderful team move by back-heeling past Mallorca goalkeeper Manolo Reina prior to half-time.

"It's the best goal of my career," Suarez, who has now scored against all 28 teams he has faced in LaLiga, said of the 43rd-minute goal.

"I knew that it was a tight angle and the last option I had was to hit it with my heel. I was looking to bounce it because I had very little chance against the goalkeeper.

"[Head coach Ernesto] Valverde tells me that sometimes I miss the easiest ones and score the most difficult ones."

Barca produced an impressive performance at home to Mallorca as they moved ahead of Real Madrid on goal difference after their rivals won earlier in the day.

"This shows the confidence we're gaining as the matches go by," Suarez said. "We've been looking for our team-mates more and it was a great match today."

Antoine Griezmann opened the scoring in the seventh minute as the former Atletico Madrid star netted his first LaLiga goal since October 18.

"He has had to take up a new position in attack, he must find his space," Suarez of Griezmann. "I congratulate him on settling in because it's not easy."

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde said Lionel Messi's record-breaking hat-trick was a "good way to celebrate the Ballon d'Or".

After claiming his sixth Ballon d'Or earlier in the week, Messi's treble led LaLiga champions Barca to a 5-2 win over Real Mallorca on Saturday.

Messi's Ballon d'Or triumph on Monday saw him move clear of Cristiano Ronaldo, and the Barca captain broke the former Real Madrid superstar's record for the most hat-tricks in LaLiga history.

After Messi's 35th league treble, Barca boss Valverde hailed the 32-year-old star post-game at Camp Nou.

"Unbelievable," Valverde told reporters after Barca regained top spot ahead of rivals Real Madrid.

"It was a good way to celebrate the Ballon d'Or."

While Messi dominated headlines with his latest match-winning display, Barca team-mate Luis Suarez scored a stunning back-heel to round off a fluid passing move against Mallorca.

On Suarez's 43rd-minute goal, Valverde added: "The situation took me by surprise. I thought it was a pass to a team-mate.

"It surprised me, but it was an extraordinary goal. I told him that there had been a few easier chances and this one, which was improbable, went in."

Lionel Messi has claimed Cristiano Ronaldo's record for the most hat-tricks in LaLiga history after scoring another treble in Barcelona's 5-2 win over Real Mallorca on Saturday.

In the week he moved above rival Ronaldo with a sixth Ballon d'Or success, Messi showed why he was voted the world's best player with his impressive display at Camp Nou.

The 32-year-old scored two long-range goals in the first half and added a third seven minutes from time to make it 35 career hat-tricks in the Spanish top-flight.

That is one more than Ronaldo, who spent nine years with Real Madrid before joining Serie A giants Juventus in 2018.

Messi's first strike also saw him become the only player to net 10 or more goals in each of the past 14 seasons across Europe's top-five leagues.

Victory moved Barca back to the top of the table, with the champions above Madrid on goal difference ahead of the first Clasico of the season later this month.

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick in the week he was crowned the world's best player as Barcelona eased to a 5-2 home win over Real Mallorca and reclaimed top spot in LaLiga.

Antoine Griezmann gave Barca a seventh-minute lead and Messi then took over with a couple of goals, either side of Ante Budimir's strike against the run of play.

On a day when the home side's front three clicked into gear, Luis Suarez added a fourth before the end of the first half with a sublime back-heel to round off a fluid passing move.

Budimir pulled another back for Mallorca 26 minutes from time, but Messi rounded off his hat-trick late on as Barca maintained their good form and overtook Real Madrid at the summit.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen claimed a second assist of the season with a quick goal-kick that Griezmann collected and lifted over Manolo Reina after racing through on goal.

Reina produced an impressive save to keep out the returning Sergio Busquets' header, but Messi found a way past the visiting keeper 95 seconds later with a 25-yard curler.

Mallorca, now winless in seven away league outings this season, gave themselves hope when Budimir's shot deflected off Clement Lenglet and looped over Ter Stegen.

But Messi took matters into his own hands with another trademark goal from range, before Suarez capped a fine piece of team play by back-heeling in from eight yards.

Reina frustrated Ernesto Valverde's men with a string of saves and Budimir then headed in from close range to once again give Mallorca a foothold on the game.

Barca made certain of a sixth win in a row in all competitions thanks to Messi's third of the match late on, the forward picking out the roof of the net after being teed up by Suarez to move onto 35 LaLiga hat-tricks in his career – one more than Cristiano Ronaldo.

 

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi became the only player to score 10 or more goals in each of the past 14 seasons in Europe's top-five leagues with a first-half double against Real Mallorca.

The first of Messi's strikes in Saturday's LaLiga clash, a 25-yard effort that curled away from Manolo Reina, took him into double figures for the league campaign.

The Argentina international, who landed a record sixth Ballon d'Or on Monday, doubled his tally before the interval with another goal from range to make it 11 in 10 league appearances this term.

Messi's highest-scoring league season for Barca came in 2011-12 when he reached 50 goals in 37 appearances.

Lionel Messi's inevitable retirement is a worrying thought but the record-breaker deserves to determine his own fate, according to Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Messi, 32, suggested the end of his career was "approaching" after winning an unprecedented sixth Ballon d'Or on Monday.

Ernesto Valverde insisted it was a natural line of thinking and nothing to be concerned about but Bartomeu told Catalunya Radio: "I worry about the day Messi goes."

He does not expect that day to come soon and outlined plans to agree a contract extension with Messi before his own term as president ends in 2021, which coincides with the expiry of the Argentine's deal.

"I would like to sign one more contract with Messi," Bartomeu said.

"He has a lot left. We have talked many times and he has no problem continuing at Barca. I have no doubt that he will play here until he retires, it is a commitment from him.

"It will end when he wants because Leo, for being the best, for giving what he has given, it will be up to him to say when he stops.

"He will set the terms. He has the right to decide how and when he wants to finish. He will never leave, this is his club, the club of his life."

Head coach Valverde is also due to become a free agent in 2021 but, unlike Messi, there looks to be a realistic chance of him leaving then or earlier.

The former Athletic Bilbao boss will hope to secure a third successive LaLiga title before decisions are made over his future.

Bartomeu said: "Valverde has a contract until the end of my term. He or Barcelona will decide. To continue with a coach depends on many variables.

"In Barcelona we have seen very short periods of coaches lately. Three [seasons] may be enough, but it is a decision that he must make.

"It depends on exhaustion, fatigue, although I see Valverde is excited, wants to do well, wants success and wants to combine these players who have won everything with the new generation."

Arsenal appear to be spiralling into a deeper mess as the days pass.

Just over a week on from sacking Unai Emery, the Gunners now reportedly have doubts over how long Freddie Ljungberg should be left in charge.

Misjudging the situation could have serious ramifications for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's future.

 

TOP STORY – DOUBTS EMERGE OVER LJUNGBERG

Arsenal fear interim boss Ljungberg's lack of managerial experience will force them to make a full-time appointment before the end of the season, reports The Mirror.

Gunners chiefs seemed set to back the Swede when Emery was moved aside but a draw with Norwich City at Carrow Road and the 2-1 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion in midweek have cast doubt over his capabilities.

Action could be taken sooner rather than later as the club mull over a list of potential targets, particularly as there are "growing concerns" about star striker Aubameyang .

The 30-year-old has reportedly stalled on contract talks and the lack of clarity over the head coaching position could end with Arsenal being forced to sell one of their strongest assets.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea have Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha and Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell in their sights after their transfer ban was reduced on Friday, reports The Athletic.

- Juventus are considering a move for either Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic or Leandro Paredes of Paris Saint-Germain, claims Corriere Torino.

- Inter's interest in Arturo Vidal could aid Barca's bid to sign Lautaro Martinez from the Serie A side, according to Mundo Deportivo.

- Steven Gerrard is on the verge of agreeing a new deal with Rangers that will see him remain as manager until 2024, says The Sun.

- Two Eredivisie stars could be headed for Portugal, reports A Bola. Belgian forward Cyriel Dessers of Heracles Almelo and exciting AZ prospect Myron Boadu are said to be in the sights of Primeira Liga heavyweights Sporting CP .

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde opened the door for Arturo Vidal's departure in January, acknowledging the LaLiga champions have a lot of midfielders.

Vidal has been linked with a move to Serie A outfit Inter as the Barcelona midfielder struggles for regular game time at Camp Nou.

The 32-year-old Chilean has made 14 appearances across all competitions this season, though only four have been starts.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's match against Real Mallorca, Valverde told reporters: "Vidal is our player. We are happy with him. There are so many rumours. We will see tomorrow if he plays or not.

"And when the January transfer window arrives, we will see what happens."

"There's a lot of things going on in January but it's true that we have a lot of midfielders," Valverde said. "Some have played more than others but all of them are needed."

Ivan Rakitic is another midfielder, whose future with Barcelona is up in the air as the Croatia international eyes regular football.

Rakitic – a reported target for Inter and former club Sevilla – has only made two LaLiga starts this term.

"He's a reliable player in a lot of ways," Valverde added. "In the same way that there have been moments when he has not featured, he has continued training [with the same intensity] to seize his opportunity.

"He's played at a good level [in the last two games] and we're happy with that. We'll see what happens in the next few games. He has emerged in a difficult period."

Ernesto Valverde is not concerned about Lionel Messi retiring anytime soon after the Barcelona star suggested he was beginning to think about bringing his playing days to a close when he received a record sixth Ballon d'Or.

Messi, 32, overtook long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo in the Ballon d'Or stakes on Monday when he beat the Portugal forward and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk to the individual gong, despite the latter being many people's favourite.

During Messi's acceptance speech, he remarked that he is "aware of how old I am, everything happens very quickly and I know that the moment of withdrawal is approaching".

Barca team-mate Luis Suarez insisted Messi's comments had been misinterpreted by many, adamant the Argentina great will "continue for a long while yet".

And Valverde says he sees Messi's state of mind as entirely normal, convinced his comments have been blown out of proportion.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's visit of Real Mallorca, Valverde said: "It seems natural [to think about retirement]. It seems normal.

"Leo is 32 years old and, although I don't think he is thinking about retirement, it is something that is there [in the future].

"When a player goes over 30 [years old], he always sees the end closer than when he starts, but come on, I think it goes around too much.

"You have to see it naturally. It happens to everyone as the years go by. To think about it doesn't mean it's going to be in three days."

The privilege of coaching Messi is not lost on Valverde, though he expects the honour to become even more apparent in the future.

"One is aware of that, but sometimes the day-by-day does not let you enjoy it at all," Valverde said.

"I think they are things that are valued more over time. I am aware that I have the great fortune to be able to say in a time that I have trained Leo.

"In the same way that the elders talk about [Real Madrid great Alfredo] Di Stefano, we can tell those who come after we were in Messi's time and we enjoyed it, some as close as me."

Lionel Messi's apparent hint at retirement was "misunderstood", according to Barcelona team-mate Luis Suarez.

Messi, 32, said "the moment of withdrawal is approaching" after winning a record sixth Ballon d'Or on Monday, leading to retirement talk.

However, Suarez believes the Argentina star's comments were misunderstood, backing the forward to play for years to come.

"[Messi] amazes me because he is a one-off and is making history," Suarez told beIN SPORTS.

"As a friend and team-mate, [the Ballon d'Or] makes me happy and proud because it's a beautiful moment for him.

"[His comments] were misinterpreted. When someone wins a Ballon d'Or they are happy but also nervous.

"Leo is a human being and gets nervous like the rest of us. He wanted to say he might have to contend with retiring in a couple of years.

"It was misunderstood, but I'm sure Leo Messi will continue for a long while yet."

Suarez has starred for Barca since arriving from Liverpool in 2014, but the 32-year-old has also been linked with a move away despite being contracted until 2021.

The Uruguay international said he would do what was best for the LaLiga champions, who sit top of the table.

"If they bring in a new team-mate for me to compete with, that's the same pressure as having to play every three days," Suarez said.

"And I have to be thinking about the future of the club – as a fan of the club, I have to think about the future, and maybe the best thing is if they sign a young or an established player to carry the torch as Barcelona's number nine."

Netherlands head coach Ronald Koeman dismissed speculation linking him to LaLiga champions Barcelona.

Koeman has emerged as a possible option for Barca should Ernesto Valverde leave, with the Dutchman's Netherlands contract containing a clause that would allow him to depart for Camp Nou following Euro 2020.

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.

Koeman, however, is focused on his job with the Netherlands ahead of next year's European Championship.

"I have two more years left on my contract with the [Dutch] national team and I do not like to talk about Barcelona," Koeman said at an event in Barcelona.

"It's uncomfortable for a lot of reasons; I currently have a job and it's not fair to talk about this.

"If they come, they come; and if they don't, they don't. There are more important things [to worry about] in life."

The Netherlands are in Group C for Euro 2020, alongside Ukraine, Austria and a play-off winner.

Koeman's side will open their campaign at home to Ukraine in Amsterdam on June 14.

Eden Hazard will miss El Clasico on December 18 after Real Madrid confirmed he has suffered a small fracture in his ankle.

Hazard was forced off in the 2-2 Champions League draw with Paris Saint-Germain late last month and required help as he hobbled off the pitch.

Coach Zinedine Zidane expressed concern after the match, convinced it was "more than a simple blow", only for initial scans to suggest Hazard had just suffered bruising.

But media reports suggested there was growing concern with Hazard's condition as he was still requiring the use of crutches to walk.

Madrid subsequently sent Hazard for further tests and discovered "an incomplete external microfissure" – or small fracture.

While the club have not confirmed how long they expect him to be absent for, such injuries generally take at least a month to recover from, with widespread media reports adamant Hazard will miss El Clasico.

Madrid are due to face Barca at Camp Nou on December 18, with the match rescheduled after the initial contest on October 26 was postponed due to political unrest in Catalonia.

Marcelo is also in doubt for the match after Madrid confirmed he is suffering with a calf injury.

While the issue is not thought to be as serious as Hazard's, Madrid-based publication Marca claim he could be out for three weeks.

Madrid and Barca are tied on 31 points from 14 matches in LaLiga, one ahead of Sevilla and former Blancos coach Julen Lopetegui, who have played 15 games.

Ahead of El Clasico, Madrid face Espanyol and Valencia domestically, while they will also go to Club Brugge in the Champions League.

Chelsea are seemingly eager to sign Jadon Sancho, but they may have to wait until the end of the season.

The Borussia Dortmund star, 19, has been heavily linked with a move away from the Bundesliga club, with numerous Premier League sides reportedly interested.

And Chelsea could be ready to spend big to land the England international.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA READY TO BREAK TRANSFER RECORD FOR SANCHO

Chelsea are prepared to break their transfer record to land Sancho, according to Goal.com.

Sancho has been linked to the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City after impressing at Dortmund.

Chelsea broke their own transfer record last year, when they paid Athletic Bilbao a reported £71.6million (€80m) for goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

The Premier League club are appealing their transfer ban, at this stage unable to buy players in January.

That may not be such a problem when it comes to Sancho, though, with Sport Bild reporting the attacker may not want a January move.

ROUND-UP

Edinson Cavani is struggling for game time at Paris Saint-Germain and the 32-year-old forward could be set for a move. AS reports the Uruguay international likes the idea of a switch to Atletico Madrid.

- Staying at the Wanda Metropolitano and Athletico Paranaense midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, 22, will join Atletico in a €30m transfer next year, according to Marca.

- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appears safe for now at Manchester United, but The Sun reports the Premier League club could turn to England manager Gareth Southgate if they decide to make a change at the end of the season.

- Carlo Ancelotti remains under pressure at Napoli. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis will wait until the Champions League clash against Genk on December 10 before considering a change. Napoli are winless in eight matches and sit seventh in Serie A.

- Metz and France youth international defender Lenny Lacroix, 16, is attracting interest from Barcelona and Juventus, according to Mundo Deportivo.

- With Everton in the Premier League relegation zone after their Merseyside derby loss to Liverpool, Marco Silva could be sacked. The Sun reports Silva said goodbye to his Everton players after the loss at Anfield.

Ansu Fati has signed an improved contract with Barcelona until June 2022, the LaLiga champions have confirmed.

Under the fresh terms, the 17-year-old attacker's release clause is up from €100million to €170m and it will rise to €400m when he signs full-time professional terms.

Fati joined Barca's academy in 2012 and this season became the youngest LaLiga goalscorer in the club's history.

His second-half equaliser during August's 2-2 draw at Osasuna came with him aged 16 years and 304 days.

"For me, La Masia is the best school in the world," said Fati, who is both the youngest player to start a game at Camp Nou and also represent Barcelona in the Champions League.

"They helped me from the first day I arrived and I am extremely grateful to everyone who works there.

"They are all spectacular. From the first day, I have learned things from everyone. And they have also been there to support me through difficult times.

"Working every day with the best is a dream, and also a reward.

"From now onwards, what I have to do is keep working, even harder than ever, to keep getting chances and carry on enjoying myself. The rest will come after."

Fati, who is also eligible to play for Guinea-Bissau, was granted Spanish citizenship in September – clearing the way for him to represent them at Under-21 level for the first time the following month.

He has two goals in 11 appearances across all competitions in 2019-20, including four starts.

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