Lautaro Martinez is a wanted man and his future could become clearer.

The Inter star has dazzled in Italy this season, alongside team-mate Romelu Lukaku.

And Barcelona are reportedly keen to tie up a deal for the Argentina international.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA TABLE MARTINEZ BID

Barcelona have made their first offer to Inter for star forward Lautaro Martinez, according to FCInterNews.it.

Martinez has reportedly been identified as a long-term replacement for Barca veteran Luis Suarez, while the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City and Manchester United are interested.

According to the report, LaLiga champions Barca have tabled a €70m bid for Martinez plus two players – Arturo Vidal and Nelson Semedo.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Telegraph says United are favourites to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho at the end of the season. Liverpool and Chelsea have also been linked with moves for the 19-year-old.

Athletic Bilbao are interested in Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain, reports Marca. Bilbao have a Basque-only transfer policy, however, Argentina international Higuain qualifies due to the Basque-French origin of his grandfather.

- Amid doubts over Martinez's future in Milan, Calciomercato says Inter are eyeing Atalanta forward Duvan Zapata.

- According to Goal, Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is considering a move to MLS outfit and sister club New York City. The 36-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic faces an uncertain future at Milan amid doubts over directors Zvonimir Boban and Paolo Maldini, claims Tuttosport. Boban and Maldini had reportedly been seeking to extend Ibrahimovic's contract until 2021 but the pair are reportedly set to leave San Siro following a row with Elliott Management.

Thibaut Courtois believes Real Madrid's decision to press Barcelona as they played out from the back paid off in El Clasico.

In his 50th LaLiga game as a Madrid player, goalkeeper Courtois made key first-half saves from Arthur and Lionel Messi.

That set the platform for second-half goals from Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz as Zinedine Zidane's men claimed a 2-0 home win on Sunday that put them top of LaLiga.

Courtois felt Madrid's tactics made the difference and was glad to have stepped up when it mattered with important stops before the break.

"Against Barcelona you can play in two ways: get into the area and defend or press and risk as they play out," he said to the club's official website.

"We did the latter very well and winning a Clasico is always good. 

"At 0-0 in the first half it was important not to concede any goals. When it was my turn I made good saves, like against Arthur and Messi. 

"Then in the second half we were better and made the difference."

Courtois felt Madrid had been playing well despite their recent defeats to Levante and Manchester City.

Now ahead of Barca by a solitary point, he has urged his team-mates not to take their foot off the gas ahead of the away match with Real Betis on March 8.

The Belgium international added: "We are ahead but we can't forget that there are 12 games left. 

"Next we visit Betis and if we want to win LaLiga we have to win there too.

"After our last results we have continued to work well. I think we played better in those games but we didn't win.

"Football is about small details and this time we got the win with the help of our fans. That is key and they have been incredible."

#POGBACK?

That was the hashtag used for Paul Pogba's high-profile return to Manchester Untied from Juventus in 2016 – a world-record transfer at the time.

The hashtag could be recycled as Pogba reportedly nears a return to Turin.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE 'FAR AHEAD' FOR POGBA

Juventus have stepped up their interest in wantaway Manchester United star Paul Pogba, according to Tuttosport.

The reports says Juve are already "far ahead" with Pogba in terms of contract talks as the Serie A champions look to start negotiating with United.

Pogba – valued at €100m (£86m) – left Juve for United in 2016 and the French midfielder has also been linked to Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Arsenal are eyeing Sassuolo forward Domenico Berardi as star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continues to be linked with an exit via Barcelona.

Milan remain interested in Juventus' Federico Bernardeschi despite failing to sign the Italy international in January, says Calciomercato.

Dries Mertens has been linked to Inter and Chelsea but the soon-to-be free agent is set to sign a new two-year deal at Napoli, according to widespread reports in Italy.

- According to La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira, Arsenal are working on extending Bukayo Saka's contract until 2025. The 18-year-old has been linked to the likes of Liverpool and United.

United are plotting a move for Stoke City's 18-year-old defender Nathan Collins, says The Sun.

Real Madrid did not deserve their 2-0 El Clasico victory over Barcelona, according to Guillermo Amor.

Madrid leapfrogged Barca atop the LaLiga table thanks to second-half goals from Vinicius Junior and substitute Mariano Diaz on Sunday.

Vinicius opened the scoring in the 71st minute before Mariano sealed the win in the second minute of stoppage time at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Madrid moved a point clear in the league standings but Barca director Amor told Movistar: "They pushed up and they pressed us. Their idea was to stop the game. They pressed and created chances.

"It proved costly for us, but I don't think they deserved the win. We were very dominant, they hit us quickly."

Amor added: "If we consider the first half then I think it was a very good performance. Very good. We had the game under control and had chances, but missed them.

"If you forgive a team like Real Madrid they'll have their chances. Once they scored they saw they could win and were encouraged."

It was a quiet evening for Barca captain and superstar Lionel Messi in the Spanish capital, where the six-time Ballon d'Or winner struggled to make an impact.

"He was good," Amor said. "He was great in the first half. He created, played and played.

"But when you lose, everything seems negative. We weren't bad though. We had a great first half and were the better team. But then things went crazy and we lost control."

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane hailed his players for regrouping from their Champions League collapse by upstaging Barcelona in the LaLiga El Clasico.

Pressure was on Madrid following their 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester City in the opening leg of the Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday.

Madrid conceded twice in five minutes during the final 12 minutes in a stunning finish against City, however, Zidane's side bounced back with a 2-0 victory over Barca on Sunday.

Vinicius Junior and substitute Mariano Diaz scored in the second half at the Santiago Bernabeu as Madrid leapfrogged defending champions Barca atop the LaLiga table.

Zidane expressed his pride post-match, telling reporters: "The reaction today has been important. The dressing room is not touched. It was a complicated week, but we prepared this game well. That means the players are in and want.

"We played 78 very good minutes and in the end we lost. Today we win playing well from start to finish. We need to stick to what we believe, but we know that it will be hard until the very end. We need to prove ourselves every time we play."

"We deserved the victory because of everything we did both defensively and offensively," Zidane added. "The first half was even and our press up front was not perfect. In the second half we improved our press and we were better up top.

"We really pushed them hard and almost overwhelmed them. These are three important points because it has been a difficult week and today we had the opportunity to change that. It's three points and we regained the lead, but we're going to have to fight to the end.

"We're happy because we've all shown that we've done very well and I'm proud of them because it's not easy to win like this. Our strength today was very important. The first thing is to defend well together and then we know that at any moment we can have opportunities to score goals.

"The second half was ours. We had a lot of chances to score and we netted twice. We kept a clean sheet and [Thibaut] Courtois was instrumental in that. We won the game as a team today."

Vinicius – at the age of 19 years and 233 days – became the youngest Clasico goalscorer this century, surpassing Barca superstar Lionel Messi with his 71st-minute opener before Mariano completed the win in stoppage time.

"Vinicius was good and he scored an important goal in an important game. I'm happy for him. He was good offensively and defensively he did a great job helping Marcelo with [Nelson] Semedo," Zidane said.

"He has conditions, but he is very young and sometimes the criticism is difficult. He has to live with that because he is at Real Madrid."

Sergio Ramos hit back at Gerard Pique over his criticism of Real Madrid, saying he would sign to win every El Clasico playing as badly as the Barcelona defender suggested.

Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz scored second-half goals as Madrid moved above Barca and into top spot in LaLiga with a 2-0 win on Sunday.

But the performance did little to impress Pique as the Barca defender said the hosts in the first half were "the worst Madrid" he has faced at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Madrid captain Ramos said he would happily win every Clasico playing how his side did.

"Everyone's opinion is respectable. I sign to win all Clasicos by making a first half as bad as he says," he told reporters, via AS.

"The approach was different. In the first half, we left the ball and in the second we decided to go.

"They were not so fresh and we started to generate chances."

With 12 LaLiga games remaining, Madrid hold a one-point lead over their rivals, having lost just two league matches this season.

While pleased with the advantage, Ramos urged his side to remain focused late in the campaign.

"That's right. After the latest results we wanted to claim [first] and what better way than at home and before a great team like Barca," the defender said.

"It was a unique opportunity to depend on ourselves. There are three important points but there is much left.

"We must have our feet on the ground."

Gerard Pique described Real Madrid's first-half performance as the worst he has faced in El Clasico encounters despite Barcelona suffering a 2-0 defeat at Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Madrid leapfrogged Barcelona into top spot in LaLiga after claiming their first Clasico league victory in almost four years, with Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz on the scoresheet.

Pique got a touch on Vinicius' opener but was unable to divert it away from his own net and he admitted his side's second-half display against their bitter rivals was not good enough.

But he also fired a broadside at Zinedine Zidane's men, saying Barcelona missed an opportunity to hurt them during a disjointed opening 45 minutes.

"Madrid in the first half was the worst Madrid I've faced at the Bernabeu," Pique told reporters. "We missed a chance to hurt them.

"We have to play better than in the second half, though. We lost balls and they grew in confidence.

"The feeling they [Madrid] transmitted was the worst, and I don't say it as a criticism. We all have problems in our clubs. But I have the feeling that it's an important missed opportunity.

"We are not very well, I say we lost the opportunity to hit the table. We had full control of the game. In the second half, we let them grow based on our losses and they scored a goal, and in the end the second one.

"It is a missed opportunity. In the first half, if we had taken advantage of several chances, we would have left with an advantage on the scoreboard."

The defeat left Barcelona a point behind Madrid with 12 LaLiga matches left to play, and Pique said his side's first Clasico league reverse since April 2016 was a painful one to swallow.

He called for the Blaugrana to raise their game going into the final weeks of the season in order to stay in the title race, and said the return to Camp Nou for their forthcoming clash with Real Sociedad would be a welcome one.

"We have been hit but not sunk," said Pique. "There is room for improvement, and we have enough to win LaLiga if we do things well until the end. But we have to do them well.

"Whenever you lose here, you get hurt because of the importance of the game and the points. If we won, it would have been an important step.

"We have to focus on improving, especially in the second half. Now games come at home, where we are more solvent.

"We will aim to win, game by game, and hope they [Madrid] slip up."

Quique Setien insisted there were still "many turns" left in the LaLiga title race after Barcelona gave up top spot with an El Clasico loss to Real Madrid.

Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz scored in the second half as Madrid claimed a 2-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Madrid jumped a point clear courtesy of their victory, but Barcelona coach Setien said there was still plenty to play out.

"Last week, we were two points up. Now, they are one up. There is much left and this [title race] can take many turns," he said, via Mundo Deportivo.

Setien added: "It's a tough defeat because these games affect you when you lose them, obviously, but we have the ability to recover.

"There are positive things to rescue and we will analyse what we have not done well."

The loss ended a four-game LaLiga winning streak for Barcelona, who sit nine points clear of third place.

Setien was pleased with the way his side started El Clasico, but felt they lost their way in the second half.

"I think we did a good first half and they did it in the second," he said.

"Even at the beginning of the second half we started quite well and we had it under control, but we started to have inaccuracies and they squeezed us very hard."

Real Madrid went into Sunday's El Clasico fully aware that defeat could have proven ruinous to their season, leaving a five-point gap at the LaLiga summit after they suffered a massive midweek blow in the Champions League.

Zinedine Zidane and Madrid were tactically outclassed in their own stadium on Wednesday, with Manchester City coming away from the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with a potentially vital 2-1 win.

Pep Guardiola exposed their weaknesses with a switch of formation and system to focus on troubling Madrid behind their attack-minded full-backs – chiefly with Gabriel Jesus on the left. It proved decisive.

Barca coach Quique Setien confirmed in his pre-match news conference that he met with City boss Guardiola after that match, acknowledging there were elements of City's set-up that Barca would look to expose, aware they could "come in handy".

But there's little doubt Zidane learned his lesson, and his tweaks inspired Madrid's 2-0 Clasico win.

ZIZOU GETS IT RIGHT

He set Madrid up proactively with two holding midfielders, and Vinicius Junior and Federico Valverde out wide, the latter two sat deep off the ball to essentially form a flat midfield.

The lung-busting Valverde's presence on the right ensured Jordi Alba had little luck in attack and plenty to think about at the back.

Pragmatic? Perhaps, but Madrid's formation undoubtedly contributed to limiting Barca's supply of chances, with Messi kept uncharacteristically quiet.

Toni Kroos' restoration to the starting XI after missing out against City was arguably the real key for Madrid, though.

KROOS CONTROL

The German's exclusion in midweek came as something of a shock and without him Madrid's overall pass completion was 86.5 per cent, and that increased to 88.2 per cent with him. Although minor in those terms, every little helps in matches of fine margins.

Against City, Madrid rarely looked in control and their move construction from midfield when transitioning was rather scattergun, Kroos' composure and vision obviously missed.

Upon his return, Kroos barely put a foot wrong all match. Suddenly Madrid seemed far more effective at picking their way through a press, as evidenced by the numerous counter-attacks they were able to launch on Sunday.

Kroos was accurate with 99 per cent of his passes and then played the decisive ball for Vinicius to put Madrid ahead, slipping the Brazilian into the left side of the box and he beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen with a little help from a Gerard Pique deflection.

MESSI FAILS TO SLICE THROUGH MADRID

Like Kroos, Messi was also tidy in possession, hitting his mark with 95 per cent of his passes. But he laid on only a single goal-scoring chance, while he was thwarted by Thibaut Courtois for his most presentable opportunity in the first half.

Messi set a new record for Clasico appearances by a Barca player – it was set up for a fittingly devastating performance to put one hand on the title.

But Barca's talisman simply failed to instigate effectively against Madrid's packed midfield, potentially leading to questions about his fitness after he was spotted seemingly limping earlier in the day.

And therein lies Barca's biggest problem: if Messi fails to turn the screw, they have no one else capable to rising to that level.

With Cristiano Ronaldo watching on in the stands, Messi's magic was in disappointingly short supply – but masterful Kroos validated Zidane's decision to recall him by steering Madrid to a potentially season-defining victory as they returned to LaLiga's summit.

Vinicius Junior broke Barcelona's resistance and substitute Mariano Diaz added a second as Real Madrid leapfrogged their bitter rivals at the top of LaLiga with a 2-0 win in Sunday's Clasico.

December's reverse fixture finished goalless for the first time in 17 years and that was the way this latest tussle at Santiago Bernabeu was heading until Vinicius struck with a deflected effort.

Thibaut Courtois and Marc-Andre ter Stegen made vital saves with the game at 0-0 and both teams had efforts stopped on the line.

But Vinicius found a way through 19 minutes from time and Mariano added a second late on to end Madrid's seven-match winless league run in this fixture as Zidane's side moved a point clear at the summit.

Vinicius Junior's strike in Real Madrid's LaLiga showdown with rivals Barcelona saw him replace Lionel Messi as the youngest Clasico goalscorer this century.

At the ripe age of 19 years, 233 days, Vinicius' deflected shot in the 71st minute put Madrid ahead at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

The diminutive forward eclipsed Barca superstar Messi, who was 26 days older when he scored his maiden Clasico goal in March 2007.

Messi was a peripheral figure as Madrid climbed above reigning champions Barca to the top of the table, with substitute Mariano Diaz completing a 2-0 victory.

Lionel Messi is set to become the player with the most appearances in El Clasico for Barcelona after being named in the starting line-up to take on Real Madrid on Sunday.

The Argentina superstar will edge past Xavi as he racks up his 43rd outing in the biggest domestic fixture in world football at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Messi is the fixture's leading goalscorer, having netted 26 times against Barca's great rivals.

Barca head into the match, Quique Setien's first Clasico at the helm, two points ahead of their rivals at the top of LaLiga.

The visitors boast a seven-match unbeaten run against Madrid in top-flight meetings, with the Camp Nou showdown in December having finished goalless.

While Barcelona's only change from the side that drew 1-1 with Napoli on Tuesday saw Arthur take Ivan Rakitic's place in midfield, Zinedine Zidane made two adjustments to the Madrid team that lost 2-1 to Manchester City in midweek.

Ferland Mendy and Luka Modric dropped to the bench as Marcelo returned at left back and Toni Kroos started in midfield, while Gareth Bale had to settle for a place among the substitutes.

Saul Niguez accepts Atletico Madrid need to find a way to resolve their issues away from home after drawing 1-1 at rock-bottom Espanyol in LaLiga on Sunday.

Saul equalised with a stunning strike at the start of the second half after an early Stefan Savic own goal had put Espanyol in front.

Jan Oblak tipped a Victor Sanchez strike against the crossbar with a fine save to ensure Atletico secured a point.

The result means Atletico have won just one of their past 10 away matches in the league, leaving them well behind Barcelona and Real Madrid, and Niguez says they must raise their game on the road.

"It's taking a lot this year to win away from home," he told Movistar. "The support of our fans at home shows a lot.

"We must learn. The days go by and we must learn that many points can be gathered away from home."

Diego Simeone also addressed Atletico's poor away form, though he seemed relaxed and confident they will turn it around.

"We have to win away from home," he said. "We care about the game we have in the Wanda Metropolitano and then we will take care of winning the games that we have away from home.

"When the matches start, we try to win three points. In these last matches [against Valencia, Granada, Villarreal and Espanyol], we have won two and drawn two.

"We are giving the maximum - we hope it will catch up with us. To enter Champions League or save yourself [from relegation], you need to give everything to compete."

Atletico Madrid could only claim a 1-1 draw away to rock-bottom Espanyol on Sunday, with Saul Niguez's stunning volley sparing them a shock defeat in Barcelona.

Diego Simeone's men had seemingly got somewhere close to their best again over their previous two matches, but at RCDE Stadium they were fortunate to come away with a point, as their underwhelming away form continued having won just one of their past 10 on the road in LaLiga.

A positive Espanyol were good value for the lead when Stefan Savic diverted into his own goal and Jan Oblak's heroics kept Atletico within touching distance when nudging a long-range effort on to the crossbar.

Atletico offered greater enthusiasm going forward after half-time and Saul restored parity with a ferocious volley, securing a share of the spoils as neither side managed to get a second in the end-to-end latter stages.

A scrappy opening brought a typically messy opener – Raul de Tomas meeting Wu Lei's low cross and the ball crossed the line via a touch off Savic.

Atletico failed to offer much of a response and were fortunate to not fall further behind just past the half-hour mark, with Victor Sanchez's stunning 30-yard volley tipped on to the bar by Oblak.

The Atletico goalkeeper made an important intervention just before half-time as well, getting down to parry Adrian Embarba's awkward free-kick away.

Espanyol were made to rue not adding to their lead as Atletico levelled early in the second half – Saul unleashing a rasping volley into the right side of the net from 25 yards after the hosts cleared a corner.

Joao Felix was introduced a few moments later and he swiftly made an impact, as his low cross was deflected on the post, with Alvaro Morata also hitting the upright from a yard out in the ensuing scramble.

A final chance fell to Espanyol late on, but Bernardo Espinosa headed wide as Atletico held on to the point that moves them back up to fourth ahead of Real Sociedad.

 

What does it mean? Atletico unconvincing again

A 3-1 win over Villarreal last time out had followed Atletico's commendable 1-0 victory over Liverpool in the Champions League. In this contest, as firm favourites, they struggled to break Espanyol down and only sealed a point because of a moment of individual inspiration.

Given how Simeone's Atletico have crafted a reputation as fighters over the past nine years or so, their troubles on the road are becoming alarming.

Partey puts his foot in

This was not a match dominated by displays of individual quality, with Saul's volley one of few such highlights. No, those who stood out the most were those who offered industry and defensive nous, with Thomas Partey chief among them. The Atletico midfielder made six tackles, more than anyone else on the pitch, as he helped the visitors backline when in trouble.

Carrasco creates little

Given how the two teams play, this was never likely to be an open encounter, but the lack of creativity – particularly on Atletico's part – was disappointing. Yannick Carrasco offered very little before his withdrawal for Joao Felix, who did look brighter. The Belgian played just one key pass.

What's next?

Atletico have a big game on Saturday, as they welcome top-four rivals Sevilla to the Wanda Metropolitano for a fixture that is often a feisty affair. Espanyol go to Pamplona to face Osasuna the following day.

While all eyes are on El Clasico, Real Madrid and Barcelona are considering their number nine options ahead of next season.

The LaLiga giants, who meet at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday, appear set to strengthen their options up front ahead of 2020-21.

And both Madrid and Barca are linked with similar names as they look to add forwards.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID, BARCELONA CONSIDER WERNER, MARTINEZ AND HAALAND

With Luka Jovic so far unable to make an impact at Real Madrid, they are considering Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, Inter striker Lautaro Martinez and RB Leipzig's Timo Werner, according to Marca.

Haaland is top of Madrid's wish list, the report says, having scored 12 goals in nine games since arriving at Dortmund in January.

For Barcelona, meanwhile, Mundo Deportivo says their focus is on Martinez or Werner, who has been linked with Liverpool.

While Martinez may be their preference, Werner would cost just €60million compared to the €111m likely to be needed for the Argentina international.

 

ROUND-UP

- Another club likely to be busy during the close season are Manchester United. The Sun reports United are ready to offer Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish £150,000 per week – triple his current pay.

- Jonathan David's prolific season with Gent is leading to increasing interest. The Daily Express reports Chelsea are the latest club to join the race for David, who has 23 goals in 38 games this season. Liverpool, United, Tottenham and Leicester City are also reportedly interested in the 20-year-old Canada international.

- Nuno Espirito Santo's work at Wolves is catching the eye. The Sun reports Nuno is top of Atletico Madrid's list to replace Diego Simeone if the Argentinian takes over at Paris Saint-Germain.

- Heavily linked with a move to Milan last close season, Atletico Madrid attacker Angel Correa remains a target for the Serie A club, according to CalcioMercato.

- Having impressed in Serie A, Chris Smalling could be set for a return to the Premier League. The Daily Express reports the defender, who is on loan at Roma from Manchester United, is a target for Tottenham, although the Serie A club are in advanced talks with the centre-back.

- With his contract expiring in 2021, Arkadiusz Milik's future at Napoli is uncertain. CalcioMercato reports the striker, who has 12 goals in 22 games this season, and the club are distant over a new deal.

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