Sergio Ramos scored his 100th goal for Real Madrid during their Champions League game against Inter on Tuesday.

Club captain Ramos reached the milestone by rising highest to connect with Toni Kroos' corner and steer a header into the bottom-right corner in the 33rd minute at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.

It was the centre-back's 13th goal in the Champions League and put Madrid 2-0 up after Karim Benzema's opener, though Lautaro Martinez reduced the arrears before half-time.

Ramos became the highest-scoring defender in LaLiga history last July and made his 500th appearance in the competition at the weekend.

Rodrigo Moreno has been ruled out of Leeds United's clash with Crystal Palace on Saturday and Spain's three forthcoming internationals after he tested positive for COVID-19.

The 29-year-old forward has made three Premier League starts for Leeds in 2020-21, scoring his first goal for the club in a 1-1 draw with Manchester City at Elland Road in October.

After missing Leeds' 4-1 defeat at home to Leicester City on Monday because he was isolating following contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, he confirmed his own diagnosis in a post on Instagram.

"Unfortunately I have tested positive for COVID-19 after being in contact with a family member that had been infected without us knowing," said Rodrigo.

"As per the protocol I will be self isolating and will miss the game with Crystal Palace.

"Both my family and I feel great, we are lucky enough to feel healthy and we are keeping a positive attitude.

"From home I will support Leeds and the Spainish National team as a supporter and I will be back on the pitch soon. Thank you for all those who have shown concern."

Rodrigo started for Spain in their most recent fixture, a 1-0 defeat to Ukraine in the Nations League, but will not now be able to link up with Luis Enrique's squad for a friendly against Netherlands and Nations League matches at Switzerland and at home to Germany.

Giovanni Reyna, Chris Richards and Konrad de la Fuente have been called up by the United States for the first time.

USA boss Gregg Berhalter on Tuesday named a 24-man squad for this month's friendlies against Wales and Panama consisting solely of players based abroad as MLS gears up for the playoffs.

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Reyna, Bayern Munich defender Richards and Barcelona youngster De la Fuente were among 10 uncapped players in the group, which has an average age of just 21 years and 300 days, and only six players with more than 17 caps.

Berhalter said: "We are excited about getting this group back together. I'm proud of the way the players have handled the challenging times – they really stuck together.

"We have built a solid foundation, and now we get a chance to continue our work together ahead of what is going to be a critical 12 months for our team."

Reyna has two goals and four assists – three of which came in a 4-0 win over Freiburg last month – in nine appearances in all competitions for Dortmund this season. He will be hoping to become the 12th player to earn a USA cap before turning 18 years old.

Richards, 18, has featured three times for Bayern in all competitions and set up Robert Lewandowski's second goal in the 4-3 triumph over Hertha Berlin on October 4.

De la Fuente is yet to make his first senior appearance for Barcelona but the 19-year-old has been named on the bench for three LaLiga matches this season.

The USA will take on Wales in Swansea on November 12 before travelling to Austria for a meeting with Panama.

England youth international Yunus Musah, 17, has also been handed a chance to take his first steps in the senior arena by Berhalter.

United States squad:

Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge, Chituru Odunze (Leicester City), Zack Steffen (Manchester City); John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Sergino Dest (Barcelona), Matt Miazga (Anderlecht), Tim Ream (Fulham), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich), Antonee Robinson (Fulham); Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional), Richard Ledezma (PSV), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Owen Otasowie (Wolves); Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Uly Llanez (Heerenveen), Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Sebastian Soto (Telstar), Timothy Weah (Lille).

Lionel Messi always shows his "ambition" and "winning character" and is not difficult to manage, according to Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman.

This week, former Barca coach Quique Setien described Argentina superstar Messi as the greatest player of all time but said: "There's another facet beyond just the player and it's more difficult to manage. Much more difficult. 

"It's something inherent in many athletes that can be seen in the Michael Jordan documentary ['The Last Dance']. You see things you don't expect."

Setien was dismissed in the wake of the humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in last season's Champions League quarter-finals, with Koeman replacing the deposed coach.

The Dutchman retained the services of Messi in his squad despite a very public and ugly transfer saga involving the Barca captain.

But Koeman insists he does not find it tricky managing a player considered by many as the best of all time.

"I respect all opinions. For me Leo is the best player in the world, I am seeing his ambition and winning character," he told a news conference ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Dynamo Kiev at Camp Nou. 

"I have no difficulties to lead [him]. He is the captain and I talk to him every week. I see things differently from Setien and I do not agree [with his opinion]."

Despite being in the infancy of his tenure, there is already some pressure on Koeman – not least because of the resignation of president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Barca have also only taken two points from their past four LaLiga matches, a run that included a 3-1 reverse to Real Madrid in the Clasico and a 1-1 draw at Deportivo Alaves, who finished Saturday's encounter with 10 men.

In LaLiga this season, Barca have scored 10 goals, created 58 chances and 13 big chances in six games. Madrid, as a comparison, have 13, 81 and 25 across the metrics.

Koeman insists his side are trying to play in a positive way and does not pay too much attention to external noise about his long-term future.

"My future at Barcelona is not the most important thing. You have to live day by day and try to win the games," he added. 

"We ask for peace of mind and time because we are changing a lot of things. In LaLIga we have been good, but we have not gotten good results. In the rest I have no influence. I will do my best to stay a long time.

"We are the team that creates the most chances per game. The image we are showing is positive and we will continue on this path although we know that in LaLiga you have to win more games."

Barca's clash with Dynamo has been hit by several positive results for coronavirus returned by the visitors.

But Koeman warned his side against complacency if the match goes ahead, especially considering Shakhtar Donetsk had similar issues prior to beating Madrid in matchday one.

"We know that Dynamo has problems due to COVID. They have done a test this morning, we have to wait for the results this afternoon," he added. 

"I don't know the UEFA rules. We have to prepare for the game and hopefully we can play it.

"The COVID issue is not easy. At Dynamo there are many players and that influences their quality, but there were also casualties at Shakhtar and they won against Madrid. 

"You have to respect the opposition."

Atletico Madrid have completed the signing of Geoffrey Kondogbia from Valencia as their replacement for Thomas Partey.

Los Colchoneros lost Partey to Arsenal on October 5 and, although the transfer window has since shut, Atletico were given an extra month to find a replacement as the Ghanaian midfielder's release clause had been triggered.

As Atletico could only sign a free agent or a player already registered in LaLiga, their options were limited, but Kondogbia emerged as a likely target early on in their search.

The 27-year-old's fee has not been disclosed, but local media in Valencia suggest an initial €10million figure that could potentially double over the course of his contract, which runs through to 2024.

Valencia reportedly blocked the transfer from happening earlier and Kondogbia launched a scathing attack on the club's chairman Anil Murthy on October 15.

"Having already destroyed an ambitious project, you had to deceive your coach and, finally, me. Thank you, Anil Murthy," he wrote on Instagram.

Los Che have been in crisis in recent months, with Murthy and those in charge offloading a host of key first-team players in cut-price deals, including Ferran Torres, Rodrigo Moreno, Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin, the latter pair moving to local rivals Villarreal.

Coach Javi Gracia has also been at the centre of controversy – after seeing the club fail to live up to apparent promises with regards to recruitment, rumours suggested he was contemplating quitting after just a few months in the job.

However, it then emerged – according to Marca – that resigning would cost Gracia approximately €3million, and he remains in charge with Valencia 13th on eight points from as many games.

Kondogbia's move to Atletico will see him link up with Diego Costa, having been involved in ugly confrontation with the Spain international in 2013 when the midfielder played for Sevilla.

At the time, Costa denied racially abusing Kondogbia, who had been sent off late in the match for kicking out at the striker.

Darwin Nunez only joined Benfica in September, but his future is already making headlines.

Nunez has hit the ground running at Benfica, where head coach Jorge Jesus has tipped the 21-year-old forward to surpass Joao Felix as the club's most expensive sale following the latter's €126million transfer to Atletico Madrid last year.

Barcelona are reportedly targeting the Uruguay international.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA STEP UP NUNEZ INTEREST

Barcelona are eyeing Benfica star Darwin Nunez as a replacement for Luis Suarez, according to ESPN.

Nunez became Benfica's most expensive signing when he arrived from Almeria in a €24m deal in September, and the 21-year-old has scored four goals since moving to Portugal.

Barca wanted to sign Nunez from Almeria and the LaLiga giants are prepared to rekindle their interest.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport1 claims Bayern Munich are considering RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano as a replacement for David Alaba. Bayern withdrew their offer of a new contract for Alaba, who is in the final year of his deal with the Bundesliga and Champions League holders. He has been linked with the likes of Real Madrid, BarcaJuventusParis Saint-Germain and Manchester City. Premier League pair United and Liverpool are believed to be interested in Upamecano.

Atletico are battling Bayern for Brighton and Hove Albion sensation Tariq Lamptey, reports the Daily Mail. Sevilla are also reportedly interested in the former Chelsea full-back.

- Barca are preparing a January bid for City centre-back Eric Garcia following their unsuccessful attempt to re-sign the Spaniard during the previous transfer window, says Sport.

- MilanNews claims Milan will offer Franck Kessie a new contract. Kessie's current deal expires in 2022 as the Rossoneri also look to re-sign Gianluigi Donnarumma and Hakan Calhanoglu, who has been linked to Manchester United.

- Salzburg sensation Dominik Szoboszlai is at the top of Inter's wish list as they eye youth, according to Calciomercato. Szoboszlai reportedly has a €25m release clause. The 20-year-old has previously been linked to Arsenal and Napoli.

Chelsea are not courting Juventus star Paulo Dybala as owner Roman Abramovich looks to protect new investments Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech, says Calciomercato. Contract negotiations are ongoing between Dybala and Juve as the likes of PSG, Madrid, Tottenham and United reportedly monitor the situation.

Barcelona presidential candidate Pere Riera said he "wouldn't pull out all the stops" for Lionel Messi to stay at Camp Nou.

Josep Maria Bartomeu quit as Barca president last week, ahead of a vote of no confidence against his leadership, along with the entire board of directors.

Following Bartomeu's decision to quit it has been reported Barcelona's presidential elections will be held in the second week of January, with Riera announcing his candidacy.

Messi's future remains an important topic at the embattled LaLiga giants after the six-time Ballon d'Or winner handed in a transfer request following a tumultuous 2019-20 season.

The Barca captain was tipped to join Premier League powerhouse Manchester City before opting to remain in Spain.

Asked about Messi, Riera told Radio Marca: "In my opinion, Messi has to stay at Barcelona and not with history. It's not good for anyone.

"In the end, it's Messi who decides [his future]. I very much doubt that Messi wanted to leave Barcelona [in the summer].

"I wouldn't pull out all the stops for Messi."

It has been a difficult start to the campaign for Messi, as he has now gone 877 minutes without scoring in open play. 

Messi's last open-play effort came against Napoli in the Champions League back in August, although he has scored three penalties and one free-kick since then.

Barca equalled their worst tally of LaLiga points after six games since the Spanish competition reverted to three points for a win.

Ronald Koeman's side drew 1-1 with Deportivo Alaves on Saturday, meaning they have just eight points so far in the early stages of the 2020-21 campaign.

That is the same total as Barca managed at the start of the 2002-03 campaign when another Dutchman, Louis van Gaal, was in charge. 

Benfica head coach Jorge Jesus dismissed speculation linking LaLiga giants Barcelona with Darwin Nunez.

Nunez became Benfica's most expensive signing when he arrived from Almeria in a €24million deal in September.

The 21-year-old forward opened his account with a hat-trick in the Europa League last month, while the Uruguay international has netted four goals across all competitions.

Barca are reportedly interested in Nunez, who has been tipped by Jesus to surpass Joao Felix as the club's most expensive sale following the latter's €126million transfer to Atletico Madrid last year.

Jesus was asked about Nunez and rumoured interest following Benfica's shock 3-0 Primeira Liga loss to Boavista on Monday.

"There is no point in talking about it, it could just be sports news. I don't comment, I was more interested in commenting on Benfica's victory than Darwin," Jesus said.

Benfica suffered their first league defeat of the season after succumbing to goals from Angel Gomes, Alberto Elis and Yanis Hamache.

The result left Benfica second and a point adrift of unbeaten leaders Sporting CP through six matches.

Benfica lost a Primeira Liga game by a margin of three-plus goals for the first time since October 2015, per Opta. Only Boavista and Sporting CP have won multiple league fixtures against Benfica by three or more goals in the 21st century.

Lionel Messi will not be given special treatment by Barcelona as the LaLiga giants look to reduce their wage bill ahead of presidential elections that are set to take place around Christmas.

The Catalan club are desperate to reduce their expenditure by €300million in order to remain financially stable as they play behind closed doors amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Barca hope to agree wage deferrals with the first-team squad this week and the president of the club's managing commission Carles Tusquets made it clear that Messi, who is under contract at Camp Nou until June, will not be treated differently.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner expressed his desire to leave Barcelona in August but stayed put after former president Josep Maria Bartomeu refused to let him go for free.

"I think we can reach an agreement. It seems to me that there is a willingness to do so. We do not want to take money from anyone but to adjust salaries so we can pay them when possible – this is the solution we think is the most viable given the circumstances," said Tusquets.

“We cannot make a tailor-made deal just for [Messi]. We can create different structures for similar cases, but we cannot tailor-make deals for individuals.

"We intend to solve the issue with the whole staff and all the employees and we will do everything possible to ensure everybody is satisfied.

"Depending on the money available, we know that our income will fall by around €300million if we cannot open the stadium. Even if we can, it will not be fully open this season.

"I won't get into specifics about Messi because we have to finish negotiations first. What I can say is that there is a willingness from Messi and his representatives.

"There is no reason to hide the fact that Barcelona's wage bill is the highest in Europe but I like to look to the future and today I was with [technical director Ramon] Planes, [head coach Ronald] Koeman and [chief executive Oscar] Grau, and I congratulated them on the courage to bet on young players, not many have that much courage.

"We are top of the rankings in terms of salary expenditure, it is around 70 per cent of the total budget of the club and that is a lot, but we are working on it."

Tusquets is heading up a temporary board convened following the resignation of Bartomeu last week and he expects elections to choose a permanent predecessor to take place before the year is out.

"We set up a work group that will liaise with the health authorities to ensure the full safety of our members while also ensuring the highest possible turnout," he said.

"We will deploy all logistic and human resources to ensure it is well organised, always respecting the club statutes. We could promote postal voting too."

Barca are winless in four games in LaLiga but Tusquets made it clear they are not planning for significant reinforcements when the January transfer window opens.

He said: "I feel we should only make a move if a player can come at zero cost. Or if a player is sold in the transfer window, then we could buy.

"But all these decisions can be reversed by the next presidency. If the new board wants to go back on everything we decided, then they are free to do so."

Inter head coach Antonio Conte claimed he has previously turned down offers to manage Real Madrid.

Conte, 51, made the admission at a media conference on the eve of crunch Champions League clash between the clubs.

Zinedine Zidane is in his second spell in charge of Madrid having returned in March 2019 after Julen Lopetegui was sacked and an interim stint by Santiago Solari.

"Of course, there have been a couple of moments in the past when I was very close to coaching Real Madrid," Conte said on Monday.

"The season had already started, it would have been difficult to take over, the club had already made a schedule and in a very sincere way I preferred to postpone it

"In the past, it's true, there was the opportunity to become the Real Madrid coach, but perhaps it wasn’t the right time."

Asked if he could envisage himself as Madrid coach in the future, former Juventus, Italy and Chelsea boss Conte insisted he was happy at Inter for the time being.

He added: "I want to continue the project here at Inter. Right now, I am really very focused on Inter.

"I started a project here with a very strong ownership and I am happy. We are creating something important."

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is backing Karim Benzema, Eden Hazard and Marco Asensio to "define an era" for Los Blancos.

In the eyes of many, Madrid have regressed as an attacking force in the years since their much-revered 'BBC' triumvirate of Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo was disbanded.

While Benzema has arguably found another level to his game with 45 LaLiga goals since the start of 2018-19, Bale fell out of favour before leaving and Hazard has struggled for form and fitness since essentially being brought in as Ronaldo's replacement last year.

But Hazard made his first appearance of the season in Saturday's 4-1 win over Huesca, scoring for the first time in 392 days, while Asensio is expected to have a big future at the club after recovering from a serious knee injury last term.

While Zidane stopped short of comparing the two trios, he is optimistic the three still at the club can achieve great success in the coming years.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash with Inter, Zidane said: "The players who are here always want to make history.

"Those three you just said are important and I'm sure they can define an era in Madrid. Those three are important and are going to do important things.

"I know there is talk about us needing to change things in the squad, but what I see inside is that everyone wants to win and compete, and that is very good for the coach, who is me at the moment.

"I enjoy all of my players and we are going to try with everyone to achieve the objectives."

Nevertheless, the Madrid squad has shown evidence of tension of late, with Benzema caught on camera slating team-mate Vinicius Junior to Ferland Mendy in the tunnel during half-time of their previous Champions League outing against Borussia Monchengladbach.

Zidane recently said the pair have spoken and the situation is fine, and Raphael Varane is calling for the team to remain united in the face of uncomfortable reports surrounding the club.

"The Real Madrid dressing room is very close," he said. "We know that there is a lot of pressure here and many things are said outside the club, especially when we lose.

"We have to help each other. We have to be calm with things [coming from] outside the club."

Madrid have failed to win either of their two opening group games for the second season in a row, having previously not done so for 23 years.

Similarly, they are winless in four games in the competition ahead of Inter's visit, their worst run since September 2006.

Barcelona are reportedly considering letting goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen leave to join Bayern Munich.

Ter Stegen, 28, only re-signed with the LaLiga giants last month, but the star shot-stopper's future appears far from certain.

Could he join Manuel Neuer at Bayern?

 

TOP STORY – BARCA CONSIDER SELLING TER STEGEN TO BAYERN

Barcelona are considering selling Ter Stegen to Bayern Munich to help their financial position, according to TodoFichajes.

The report says the European champions consider Ter Stegen a perfect replacement for Neuer, 34, and could make an €80million move at season's end.

Ter Stegen, who is contracted until 2025, and Neuer have been widely considered two of the world's best goalkeepers in recent seasons.

In last season's Champions League, Neuer had a save percentage of 77.1 – which was ranked behind only Andre Onana (80) and Alex Meret (79) of goalkeepers who played at least five games. Ter Stegen (67.5) ranked 16th.

Neuer made 28 saves and Ter Stegen 27, which ranked fifth and sixth respectively.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Bayern and David Alaba looks set for an exit when his contract expires at the end of the season. CalcioMercato reports Juventus and Inter are monitoring the defender, who has reportedly been offered to Real Madrid.

- As expected, Barcelona appear ready to make another move for Manchester City defender Eric Garcia. Sport claims the LaLiga giants are prepared to offer €8m (£7.2m) for Garcia in January.

- Radja Nainggolan could leave Inter in January. The Serie A giants are prepared to sell the midfielder to Cagliari, where he was on loan last season, for around €10m, according to CalcioMercato.

- Fiorentina suffered another Serie A loss, beaten 2-0 by Roma on Sunday, and head coach Giuseppe Iachini remains under pressure. CalcioMercato says former Chelsea and Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri is the number one candidate for the job at Fiorentina, who are 11th in the table.

Quique Setien claims he could not be himself while coach of Barcelona and says he was "tremendously damaged" by the humiliating 8-2 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.

Setien was sacked as following the European debacle, just seven months on from his appointment as Ernesto Valverde's replacement.

In that time, the former Real Betis coach – who had signed a two-and-a-half-year contract – lost the LaLiga title to rivals Real Madrid after a break in the season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Setien lost 20 per cent of his matches in charge of the Blaugrana, while they scored fewer goals per game than under Valverde – 2.0 versus 2.3 – even if their average possession increased to 68 per cent, seemingly in line with the demands of supporters.

In an interview with El Pais conducted before president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the Barca board resigned, Spain great Vicente del Bosque asked the coach if he had brought "pure Setien" to Camp Nou.

"No, of course not," Setien said. "I have not been myself. I have not been able to, or I have not known [how to] – this is the reality.

"When you sign for a club with a dimension like Barca, you already know that things are not going to be easy despite having the best players in the world.

"The reality is that I could not be me, nor have I done what I had to do. It is true that I could have made drastic decisions, but they would not have fixed anything in a space as short as the one I had and in which everything was concentrated after confinement.

"Until [the break], the team was good. We were changing many things. We reached the break two points ahead.

"When we returned, we started well in Mallorca, but the situation was complicated and the trajectory of Madrid was extraordinary. In the end, the tension got the better of us.

"But, really, there are situations where, in another context and in other circumstances, I should have been different. There was no time either to think or to work.

"If I made drastic decisions, they could harm us. We had LaLiga, the Champions League. Then what happens against Bayern happens."

In Lisbon, Bayern became the first team to score eight times in a Champions League knockout game, while Barca conceded eight for the first time since losing 8-0 to Sevilla in the Copa del Rey in 1946.

The Catalan giants' oldest ever Champions League XI – at 29 years and 329 days – mustered just seven shots and their humiliation was completed when loanee Philippe Coutinho netted a brace.

Setien recognises the harm done to his reputation but, now "comfortable at home" and "past the mourning", says he would have been sacked regardless.

"You are tremendously damaged," he said. "You go down in the history of Barca with that defeat.

"I take my percentage of blame. Someday I will write about this. Afterwards I found out that the decision had already been made before the 8-2. I found out about everything."

Setien revealed in September he was taking legal action against Barca over the handling of his dismissal, claiming he was offered no compensation and the club failed to honour the terms his contract.

A defender appears to be high on the list for Liverpool, with Virgil van Dijk recovering from a serious knee injury.

Ajax's Perr Schuurs is no stranger to Merseyside and the 20-year-old is reportedly attracting interest from Liverpool.

Could another Dutchman be set for Anfield?

 

TOP STORY – REDS EYEING AJAX SENSATION

Liverpool are monitoring Ajax centre-back Perr Schuurs amid their injury crisis, according to The Mirror.

With Virgil van Dijk recovering from a serious knee injury, Premier League champions Liverpool are looking to bolster their defensive options.

Schuurs previously trialled at Anfield and the 20-year-old has emerged as an option for Liverpool.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca says Real Madrid are not planning any January signings as they eye further sales. Los Blancos have been linked with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland.

- Calciomercato reports Milan are continuing to monitor Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic. The Serbia international has also been linked with Inter and Manchester United previously.

Chelsea are chasing Malmo's Anel Ahmedhodzic, claims Expressen. The 21-year-old has impressed at the Swedish club.

- Madrid midfielder Isco is keen to link up with former boss Carlo Ancelotti at Everton, according to The Mirror. James Rodriguez has starred since swapping Madrid for Everton.

Cristiano Ronaldo is pushing Juventus to sign PSG's Angel Di Maria, reports Calciomercato. The pair played together at Madrid.

Lionel Messi is "difficult to manage" at Camp Nou, according to former Barcelona head coach Quique Setien.

Setien was sacked by Barca following a tumultuous 2019-20 season which saw the club dethroned by bitter rivals Real Madrid in LaLiga and humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Former Real Betis boss Setien was replaced by Ronald Koeman at the end of the campaign, having only filled the void left by Ernesto Valverde in January.

Setien hailed Messi but reflected on a difficult period with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner in Barcelona.

"I think Messi is the best of all time," Setien told El Pais. "There have been other great players who have been great, but the continuity that this boy has had throughout the years has not been had by anyone.

"Leo is difficult to manage. Who am I to change him! If they have accepted him as he is for years and have not changed him.

"There's another facet beyond just the player and it's more difficult to manage. Much more difficult. It's something inherent in many athletes that can be seen in the Michael Jordan documentary ['The Last Dance']. You see things you don't expect.

"He's very reserved but he makes you see the things that he wants. He doesn't talk much."

Setien, who has announced legal action over the handling of his Barca dismissal, added: "After leaving what I am clear on is that at certain times should have made other decisions, but there's something above you: the club.

"And it is above the president, the player, the coach. It's the club and the fans. They are the ones to whom you owe the greatest respect, and you have to do what is most convenient for the club as a whole."

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