After eight years, seven trophies, two Champions League finals and one shiny new stadium, the time has come for change at Atletico Madrid.

Saturday's 1-0 derby defeat to Real Madrid was only their fourth loss in LaLiga this season, but it leaves them 13 points behind the leaders and with no sign of that gap closing between now and May.

Madrid needed 56 minutes to break the deadlock through Karim Benzema, which is nothing new for Atleti – they remain redoubtable in defence, with only Los Blancos conceding fewer league goals this season – but their listlessness in attack is reaching crisis point.

Atleti have scored 22 goals in LaLiga, as many as fourth-bottom Real Mallorca. They have failed to score in four of their past five matches in all competitions, the exception being Angel Correa's goal in a truly disheartening Copa del Rey defeat to Cultural Leonesa. Most worrying of all is the fact they have won six times since October 29.

The typical ferocity with which they have played under Simeone since December 2011 is now seemingly exclusive to the head coach himself, who was booked in the first half at the Santiago Bernabeu after one too many furious marches from his technical area.

In short, Atleti are bereft of confidence, insipid going forward and with little obvious idea how to arrest their poor form. They are fifth in LaLiga, out of the Copa, beaten on penalties in the Supercopa de Espana final by their city rivals and with the daunting task of Liverpool to come in the Champions League. They are falling alarmingly short of expectations, especially given a pre-season investment of nearly €244million.

Simeone has not been helped by injuries. Joao Felix, the €126m man who devastated Madrid in the 7-3 International Champions Cup win in August, sat out Saturday's defeat due to a muscle injury, although his recent form means he would have been fortunate to start anyway. Diego Costa, who scored four against Madrid in that resounding pre-season success, has not started a league match in three months. Alvaro Morata, their one fit centre-forward, went off at half-time with an apparent muscular problem.

But excuses are running out for Simeone. The man who has worked miracles at times in turning Atleti from second-class citizens in Spain's capital to persistent LaLiga and Champions League contenders looks like his magic has worn off. The feel around the Wanda Metropolitano, the sparkling Atletico venue designed to reflect their modern prowess on the pitch, is much the same as the atmosphere at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in Mauricio Pochettino's final months in charge: how will anything change unless there's a new man in the dugout?

Atleti did at least start positively against Madrid and created the better chances in the first half. Angel Correa clipped the outside of the post and Vitolo brought a smart save from Thibaut Courtois from inside the box. That, though, was their only shot on target.

At half-time, Zinedine Zidane abandoned his plan to midfielder Atletico to death, bringing on Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Junior. One timely pass from the Brazilian allowed Ferland Mendy to set up Benzema for the winner 56 minutes in.

Atleti's best attempt at a comeback was a solitary wayward shot from Thomas Partey with 20 minutes left – irrefutable evidence of the team's stagnation under Simeone. "Stay, Cholo!" came the ironic taunt from the home fans. How much longer will the Atleti faithful sing the same thing and mean it?

His legacy at the club is secure, but his future, and that of Atleti, is weakened with every passing miserable 90 minutes. A parting of the ways, now or before next season at least, might be best for all concerned.

Real Madrid moved six points clear of Barcelona at the top of LaLiga as Karim Benzema's goal proved enough to claim a 1-0 victory over Atletico Madrid.

Both previous derbies between the sides this season - one in LaLiga and one in the Supercopa de Espana final - had finished 0-0 but Saturday's encounter finally bucked the trend.

Having held out somewhat in the first half, Madrid, who were buoyed by a double change from Zinedine Zidane at half-time, broke the deadlock through Benzema's first home goal against Atleti.

Substitute Vinicius Junior went close to capping a fine performance with a goal late on, but Madrid's failure to add another did not prove costly as they ended Atleti's six-match unbeaten run at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Sergio Ramos scored the winning penalty in Los Blancos' shootout victory in the Supercopa final last month and Madrid's captain twice went close to opening the scoring in the first 10 minutes, but sliced over on both occasions.

Ramos had some defending to do in the 18th minute, reacting sharply to clear Madrid's lines after Thibaut Courtois had kept out Vitolo's strike.

Courtois was beaten soon after, yet Angel Correa's effort clipped the upright, before Casemiro was fortunate his desperate lunge on Alvaro Morata did not lead to a penalty.

Zidane rolled the dice at the break, introducing Vinicius and Lucas Vazquez in place of Toni Kroos and Isco, moving Federico Valverde inside and the decision almost paid immediate dividends as the midfielder forced Jan Oblak into a fine save with a superb long-range effort.

However, Zidane's changes did prove decisive in the 56th minute - Vinicius drawing three Atleti defenders in before releasing Ferland Mendy, whose cross was side-footed home by Benzema.

Oblak then denied Vinicius to keep Atleti in the game, though the visitors could not make it count as their dismal start to 2020 continued.

 

What does it mean? Madrid put the pressure on Barca

Quique Setien's Barca are in action against Levante at Camp Nou on Sunday and know they must respond to prevent Madrid - who are unbeaten in 13 LaLiga matches - from ending the weekend with an increased lead at the summit.

Atleti, meanwhile, have lost three of their four matches across all competitions since the Supercopa final.

Vinicius sparks Madrid

Zidane's experiment of playing Valverde in a wide role in the first half was a failure, but the Frenchman spotted his mistake. Vinicius came on, adding width, pace and skill to Madrid's attack and, ultimately, played a pivotal role in Benzema's winner.

Simeone's time at Atleti winding down?

Atleti's defeat leaves them 13 points behind Los Blancos and their main aim now will be securing Champions League qualification. Despite plenty of money having been pumped into the squad, it seems Diego Simeone's impact finally seems to be wearing off and perhaps a change may be needed ahead of next season.

What's next?

Real Sociedad await Madrid in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Thursday, while Atleti face Granada in their next LaLiga outing two days later.

 

Quique Setien insists Barcelona's depleted squad has more than enough quality to compete on multiple fronts during the second half of the season.

Barca allowed four players to leave Camp Nou during the January transfer window, with Moussa Wague, Jean-Clair Todibo, Carles Perez and Carles Alena departing on loan.

The Spanish champions did announce the signings of Brazilian midfielder Matheus Fernandes and Portuguese forward Francisco Trincao on deadline day, but they will not officially arrive until the end of the season.

Barca host Levante on Sunday and Setien is unconcerned at the number of players at his disposal as they look to retain their LaLiga title and win the Champions League for the first time since 2015.

He told a media conference: "We have fewer players now but we've got a B team behind us and those young players are ready. Some are already training with the first team and we're getting a chance to look at them. I'm sure they will help us out when we need them.

"You could think the team is weaker, but you never know that. Sometimes things can turn out differently. You can guess what might happen but I wouldn't waste your energy."

Asked if he prefers operating with a smaller squad, Setien said: "What hurts me, and always had done, is picking teams and having to leave players out. I like to have fewer players. That way, everyone is plugged into what you're doing.

"There is a risk attached to that sometimes but it's good to have a smaller squad. People have more chance of playing; they're ready and more motivated.

"Having 18 real players is better than having 25 or 26 not playing. That can cause more danger than having a smaller squad."

Barca resume their Champions League campaign later in the month with the first leg of their last-16 tie against Napoli.

Despite having fewer players to call on, Setien is sure his side will be in the mix during the latter stages of the competition.

"If I was one of the opponents, I wouldn't count Barca out," he said. "Yes, you can always have a bad day. Of the six, seven or eight candidates, only one can win; that's the reality.

"I'm convinced we will be in contention. We're excited about it. We have a chance, like all the other big teams do. No more or less than any of those."

Quique Setien declared Neymar's interest in a Camp Nou comeback to be good news as the Barcelona boss detailed his desire to keep Lionel Messi happy.

Brazil international Neymar attempted to engineer a return to his former employers last year and, though seemingly now fully committed to Paris Saint-Germain, his future could still lay in LaLiga.

Barca have been tipped to reignite negotiations further down the line and their new head coach would welcome the star forward's arrival.

"That's good," Setien told Mundo Deportivo when asked about Neymar's desire for a second Barca stint.

"I love to watch and have great footballers and if I can watch Neymar every day, just imagine."

Barca captain Messi was among those pushing hardest for his former team-mate's return, admitting he would have "loved" the transfer to go ahead.

The 32-year-old claimed "some people were against" moving for Neymar despite the boost he could have given in their pursuit of yet more trophies.

Setien is hopeful the mercurial Messi continues to feel enthusiastic about life in Catalonia, with his contract due to expire next year.

"I hope we make him so happy that he is looking forward to staying," the Blaugrana boss said in a separate interview with Sport. "He will be here in the future, I have no doubts.

"The talks have been very normal as with any other player. He is very convinced that we can win. He is perceived to be a winner and cares that things are done well.

"He takes interest in the talks. He knows he is an important part, one that can solve many games, but we have to rely on the team to be stronger."

Barca, second behind Real Madrid in LaLiga, host Levante on Sunday.

The January transfer window closed on Friday, but not every wantaway star got their move.

While a number of Europe's top sides were in the hunt for attacking reinforcements, deals could not be completed for several big names.

We take a look at a selection of forwards who were not on the move and analyse what the future could hold for them.

EDINSON CAVANI

Cavani's on-off transfer from Paris Saint-Germain to Atletico Madrid was only finally ruled out on Thursday, leaving the Ligue 1 club's record goalscorer at the Parc des Princes despite reported interest from the Premier League's big-hitters.

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel reminded Cavani "there are worse situations than staying" in the French capital, but with his contract up at the end of the season, he may not be around for too much longer.

Cavani has repeatedly been linked with Inter Miami, David Beckham's MLS franchise who can still make signings.

OLIVIER GIROUD

It appeared for a time as though Giroud's future might be intertwined with Cavani's, as Chelsea boss Frank Lampard openly discussed the merits of the PSG striker. But just as Cavani stayed put, so too did Giroud.

Moves to Inter, Lazio and even rivals Tottenham did not come off, while the former Arsenal man reportedly rejected Newcastle United.

Giroud has started only twice in the Premier League this season and must now hope he secures a place in the France squad for Euro 2020 despite his continued marginal role.

WILLIAN JOSE

There were very few attackers not linked with Manchester United, Chelsea and Spurs during January, and Willian Jose remained a candidate for a transfer until deadline day.

Yet rather than joining Jose Mourinho in London, the Real Sociedad man spent Friday apologising to his current club's supporters for attempting to force the switch.

Willian Jose described a Premier League move as a "dream" but, at 28, he might wonder if such an opportunity has passed him by.

RODRIGO MORENO

It seemed to be a move that would suit everyone. Rodrigo would get a big move to Barcelona, providing the LaLiga champions with cover for Luis Suarez. Valencia were looking at former star Paco Alcacer as a replacement.

But the two clubs failed to agree terms, Rodrigo stayed put, and Alcacer headed to Villarreal.

It appears highly unlikely Barca will return for Rodrigo at the end of the campaign, perhaps instead turning their focus back towards Neymar, and the Spain international has surely missed his big chance.

Manchester United left it very, very late, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was given the extra striker he wanted in the form of Odion Ighalo.

With a move for Bournemouth's Joshua King dead in the water, the Red Devils focused their efforts on a loan deal for the 30-year-old, who has been playing for Shanghai Shenhua since last February.

Ighalo's deal, which Omnisport understands does not include a purchase option, will give Solskjaer another option up front during the injury absence of Marcus Rashford.

He is expected to travel to England in the coming days before United publicly announce the signing.

Ighalo was far from the only major deal to be concluded late in the transfer window, though, as West Ham just managed to finalise the signing of Jarrod Bowen from Hull City for a reported initial fee of £22million.

Aston Villa also announced a new striker signing about 10 minutes before the window closed, Borja Baston joining on a free transfer from Swansea City.

Elsewhere in England, Tariq Lamptey took the decision to leave Chelsea and sign for Brighton and Hove Albion on a contract until 2023. The Seagulls have also brought back Alexis Mac Allister from Boca Juniors, where he was on loan.


LOANS GALORE

Sheffield United had a busy end to the window, securing the arrival of Panos Retsos - initially on loan but with the option of a permanent deal - from Bayer Leverkusen, while Ravel Morrison has been sent on loan to Middlesbrough, having made one Premier League appearance this season.

Leicester City have loaned Ryan Bennett from Wolves, with Filip Benkovic allowed to leave for Bristol City for the remainder of the campaign with a view to earning regular game time.

Everton have sent Jonas Lossl back to Huddersfield Town on loan, while Connor Wickham is also heading to the Championship, the Crystal Palace striker moving to Sheffield Wednesday on loan.

Wolves have secured the signing of Luke Matheson, who famously scored at Old Trafford in September as a 16-year-old, and loaned him back to Rochdale for the remainder of the season.

Leverkusen have also brought in a signing for the future, with Edmond Tapsoba arriving from Vitoria SC for a fee said to be between €16m and €18m.
 

SERIE A FLURRY

Italy's window closed a little earlier than some others and there was a flurry of deals around the deadline.

Marko Pjaca will get the chance to kick-start his career with Anderlecht, Juventus having allowed the winger to leave on loan for the remainder of the season as he looks to earn regular first-team football.

Milan have signed Alexis Saelemaekers, a highly rated 20-year-old from Anderlecht who arrives on loan with the option of a permanent move.

Fiorentina have had a busy end to the window. Kevin Agudelo has joined the Viola from Genoa on an 18-month loan deal, while Valentin Eysseric has been sent to Hellas Verona until June.

Maya Yoshida secured a switch to Sampdoria from Southampton, while Gaston Pereiro's move from PSV to Cagliari was ratified. He will be joined in Sardinia by Alberto Paloschi, with Alberto Cerri heading the other way to SPAL.

Gervinho, meanwhile, has taken another step in his nomadic career by moving to Al Sadd from Parma, who brought in Vasco Regini on loan from Samp.
 

BUSY BARCA

Barcelona will give new €10m signing Matheus Fernandes for time to acclimatise to LaLiga, spending the rest of 2019-20 with Real Valladolid.

Barca have also sent Moussa Wague on loan to Nice, who have the option of a €10m permanent deal, while Ligue 1 rivals Lyon have signed Camilo Reijers de Oliveira for €2m.

Kevin-Prince Boateng was a shock signing for Barca 12 months ago and the experienced forward is on the move again, this time heading to Besiktas on loan from Fiorentina.

Leganes bolstered their attacking depth with two loan deals, bringing in Roger Assale from Young Boys and former player Miguel Angel Guerrero from Olympiacos.

Getafe have landed Erick Cabaco on a permanent deal, the defender joining from Levante, Granada have signed Gil Dias on loan from Monaco, and Real Sociedad have sold Ruben Pardo to Bordeaux.

Celta Vigo, meanwhile, have loaned Emre Mor to Olympiacos, while a late, late deal that saw Nicolas Gaitan sign for Lille for the rest of the season was completed in time.

Carlo Ancelotti has insisted Everton have no plans to sell Richarlison in the close season.

The 22-year-old Brazil international was reportedly the subject of a €100million (£85m) bid from LaLiga giants Barcelona earlier this week, though both Everton and the Blaugrana have since dismissed the speculation.

Richarlison, signed for a reported £40m potentially rising to £50m from Watford in 2018, has become a key figure for Everton since his arrival at Goodison Park.

He scored 14 goals in all competitions in his first season and, despite Marco Silva's struggles and ultimate sacking, has found the net 10 times this campaign.

Everton boss Ancelotti sees Richarlison as a key player moving forward, with the striker having signed a long-term deal in December, shortly before Silva was sacked following a 5-2 defeat to Liverpool.

"I don't think it will be difficult to resist because it is enough to say no," Ancelotti told reporters when pressed on the possibility of selling Richarlison.

"There is no possibility because Richarlison is an important part of the future of Everton like the other young players we have – [Jordan] Pickford, [Mason] Holgate, [Moise] Kean, [Dominic] Calvert-Lewin.

"We have a lot of young players. This is the base from which the club has to build the future, and Richarlison is part of it.

"Everything can happen in football. If an offer arrives that you cannot refuse, and it is an offer that can improve the squad, then why not? But, now, I can say Richarlison is an important part.

"I was not here when he renewed [his contract] but the fact that he renewed made me happy because he's a fantastic player. He can play everywhere.

"Technically he can improve but his movement is really good, his heading is fantastic, I was surprised, and he has a lot of power in his legs. He is a really complete striker."

Ancelotti also confirmed Andre Gomes – who has been out since November after sustaining a serious ankle injury against Tottenham – could be in line to face Arsenal on February 23 after he returned to training.

Barcelona right-back Moussa Wague has joined Ligue 1 side Nice on loan until the end of the season with the view of a permanent move.

The 21-year-old made his LaLiga debut last April and was promoted to Barca's first-team squad ahead of the current campaign.

He has started a couple of league and Champions League matches in 2019-20, but Nice confirmed on Friday an agreement has been reached to sign the Senegal international.

Nice have the option to make the deal permanent at the end of the season for €10million, plus €500,000 in add-ons.

As part of the agreement, Barcelona have the right to trigger a €15m buy-back clause in Wague's contract up until June 2021.

Wague is the fourth player to leave Camp Nou on loan this month, along with Jean-Clair Todibo, Carles Perez and Carles Alena.

Meanwhile, the Spanish champions announced the signings of Brazilian midfielder Matheus Fernandes and Portuguese forward Francisco Trincao on deadline day, with both players officially arriving at the end of the season.

 

Yannick Carrasco and Thomas Lemar have been included in Atletico Madrid's squad for Saturday's derby clash with Real Madrid.

Belgium international Carrasco has spent time training with Atletico and officially re-joined the LaLiga club on Friday in a loan deal until the end of the season.

Atleti boss Diego Simeone was unsure if the winger would be registered in time to feature at the Santiago Bernabeu, but he has been named as part of the 20-man group.

Simeone can also call upon Lemar this weekend as the midfielder - strongly linked with a January exit - has recovered from a hamstring injury that ruled him out of the club's last six matches. 

Club-record signing Joao Felix and fellow attacker Diego Costa remain absent through injury, while defenders Kieran Trippier, Santiago Arias and Jose Gimenez also miss out on selection.

Fifth-place Atletico are winless in their last two LaLiga matches, leaving them 10 points adrift of leaders Madrid, and were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Cultural Leonesa last week.

Meanwhile, Madrid confirmed on Friday that Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale and Rodrygo Goes will play no part against Atleti, but Casemiro, Eder Militao and Isco have all returned to the squad.

Barcelona signed Brazilian midfielder Matheus Fernandes and Portuguese forward Francisco Trincao on transfer deadline day, but both players must wait for their chance to shine at Camp Nou.

Fernandes will join Quique Setien's squad from Palmeiras in July after a €10million package was agreed for the 21-year-old, who has played for the Brazil Under-20 team.

Braga accepted a €31m offer from Barca for 20-year-old forward Trincao, and he will also formally join the Catalan club's ranks at the end of the season.

Both players have agreed five-year contracts, the Blaugrana announced, with Fernandes' contract including a €300m buy-out clause and Trincao's deal showing a €500m clause.

Braga will take Barca's 18-year-old striker Abel Ruiz on loan until the end of the season and then make the deal permanent for €8m, with the LaLiga club having a buy-back option.

Barca were not the only Spanish club busy in the market though, with Celta Vigo signing striker Fyodor Smolov on loan from Lokomotiv Moscow until the end of the season.

Atletico Madrid re-signed Belgian winger Yannick Carrasco, almost two years after he left to join Chinese side Dalian Yifang. The 26-year-old joined until the end of the season on loan.
 

STAYING PUT

Deadline day was as notable for the deals that looked to have fallen through as those that were completed.

Paris Saint-Germain ruled out allowing Edinson Cavani to leave, as a host of clubs fancied taking the Uruguayan off their hands, while Chelsea refused to let France striker Olivier Giroud depart Stamford Bridge.

Tottenham were among the clubs keen on Giroud, but Jose Mourinho looked like missing out on the striker he wanted to strengthen a front-line depleted by the loss of injured England captain Harry Kane.

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane said Gareth Bale would not be leaving the Santiago Bernabeu.

Manchester United remained linked with Bournemouth forward Joshua King, but time was running out for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to add new faces to his Old Trafford squad.

United made one signing, but it was a low-profile deal as England Under-20 goalkeeper Nathan Bishop arrived from third-tier Southend United.

Arsenal brought in defender Cedric Soares on loan from Southampton.

In Scotland, champions Celtic shipped out Scotland international Lewis Morgan to Major League Soccer side Inter Miami, who are part-owned by David Beckham.

Belgian side Genk allowed attacking midfielder Ianis Hagi, son of Romanian great Gheorghe Hagi, to join Scottish giants Rangers on loan.
 

KOUAME, DUNCAN IN

Serie A transfer activity was dominated by Fiorentina, who signed Ivorian forward Christian Kouame from Genoa, initially on loan. The deal will be made permanent at the end of the season.

They also brought in Ghanaian midfielder Alfred Duncan from Sassuolo in a similar deal, a loan with an obligation to buy.

Reports in Italy said Kevin-Prince Boateng was set to leave Fiorentina among the incomings, with Besiktas his destination. Turkish giants Besiktas also snapped up 18-year-old Croatian midfielder Ajdin Hasic from Dinamo Zagreb on permanent terms.

Atalanta agreed a loan deal with Nice, acquiring defender Adrien Tameze from the Ligue 1 outfit with a purchase option.

World Cup winner Steven Nzonzi cut short a season-long loan from Roma to Galatasaray, returning to his French homeland with Rennes on a six-month loan with an option for a further year.
 

HERTHA BUSY

In the Bundesliga, Emre Can left Juventus for Borussia Dortmund on Friday evening, initially on loan until the end of the campaign but with a €25m fee agreed for a potential permanent transfer.

Elsewhere, Hertha Berlin followed up Thursday's signing of Krzysztof Piatek by prising 20-year-old Brazilian winger Matheus Cunha from table-toppers RB Leipzig, for whom he scored nine goals in 52 games.

Hertha managing director Michael Preetz said on the club's website: "We wanted to increase the quantity and improve the quality up front, which we have been able to do with the Piatek and Cunha transfers."

Leipzig also offloaded Austrian midfielder Stefan Ilsanker to Eintracht Frankfurt. He spent four-and-a-half years at Leipzig, joining them in the second tier.

Werder Bremen signed striker Davie Selke on an 18-month loan from Hertha, the 25-year-old returning to the club where he began his professional career.

Willian Jose has apologised to Real Sociedad and the club's fans after failing to force through a "dream" move to Tottenham.

The 28-year-old striker emerged as a reported Spurs target this month as Jose Mourinho sought cover for the injured Harry Kane.

Willian Jose has missed Sociedad's past three matches amid the uncertainty over his future, having asked to be excused from the Copa del Rey win over Espanyol on January 22 while hoping to leave the club.

However, the forward appears set to stay in LaLiga for at least the rest of the season after talks broke down with Spurs, who were reportedly unwilling to match Sociedad's €30million asking price.

Manchester United were also mentioned as suitors but the Red Devils are not expected to make an offer, meaning Willian Jose's focus for now is on winning back the supporters at Anoeta.

"I apologise to the fans for everything that has happened in the last few days," he told the club's media channel. "A lot of things happened, and I have to apologise to the fans, my team-mates, the coach as well, who are supporting me.

"I saw that it was a great opportunity for me to leave and play in the Champions League for a Premier League team. I have a dream of playing in the Premier League. It didn't happen, but I'm very happy.

"I'm always grateful to Real for everything they've given me, for how they have backed me, and now I just have to work as I was working in the last few weeks to win back my place.

"I said I wouldn't be called up for Espanyol. I don't know if it was the best decision, but it was how I thought at that moment. I had a lot of information in my head and I ended up telling the president that it wasn't in my head to go to the game.

"I apologise to everyone for what happened and now, I'll keep working every day to regain people's trust.

"It's not only the fans who've been hurt, but me, too. The last two weeks have been really painful for me, my wife and my family. I just want to keep working and keep helping my team-mates, scoring goals and bringing joy to the fans, and for those inside Anoeta to chant my name again - that would be a huge joy."

Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale are not in the Real Madrid squad for Saturday's LaLiga derby with Atletico Madrid.

Brazilian forward Rodrygo Goes also misses out on the 19-man squad, along with Brahim Diaz and Nacho Fernandez.

Head coach Zinedine Zidane had suggested Bale and Hazard could be involved in the match at the Santiago Bernabeu after some encouraging signs in training this week.

Hazard has been out since November with an ankle injury, while Bale was hurt in the 3-1 Copa del Rey triumph over Unionistas de Salamanca last week and missed wins over Real Valladolid and Real Zaragoza.

Bale had been linked with a deadline-day return to Tottenham but Zidane insisted on Friday he was "not contemplating" such a move.

Casemiro, Eder Militao and Isco have all returned to the Madrid squad for the clash with Diego Simeone's side.

Madrid are three points clear at the top of LaLiga after 21 matches, 10 points above Atleti, who sit in fifth place.

Yannick Carrasco has re-joined Atletico Madrid from Dalian Yifang on loan until the end of the season and Diego Simeone has not ruled out further deadline-day arrivals.

Belgium international Carrasco trained with Atletico prior to confirmation of the deal being announced on Friday and coach Simeone hopes to be able to call upon him in the LaLiga meeting with rivals Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

The 26-year-old joined Atletico from Monaco in 2015 and left for Chinese Super League side Dalian in February 2018, but Simeone is pleased to have him back.

"[Carrasco] is excited and wants to be here," said Simeone. "If the paperwork is done, he will certainly be with us [against Madrid].

"I want him to come with the same commitment we spoke about on the telephone. I liked Yannick's desire to come to Atletico. That is an important step for what can happen next."


Atletico reportedly failed with an €18million bid for Edinson Cavani, whose contract at Paris Saint-Germain will expire at the end of the season, but there may still be new additions on deadline day.

"There are still a few hours left. Anything can happen," said Simeone.

The Atleti boss has been subject to increasing criticism in recent weeks, with his team falling 10 points behind LaLiga leaders Madrid and suffering elimination from the Copa del Rey to third-tier Cultural Leonesa.

Zinedine Zidane spoke out in support of his cross-city counterpart on Friday and Simeone was thankful for his words.

"It's nice when a colleague of Zidane's quality thinks this way. I return the message," said the Argentine.

"He is the ideal coach for Madrid. He has the rank and the ability to do what he feels. He returned to compete like he had before he left.

"Madrid have improved a lot defensively. They are very strong. They have many options in attack and that allows him to play with different players.

"It will be a match where the details and intelligence will have a lot of dominance."

Francisco Trincao will join Barcelona on July 1 after the club confirmed they had agreed a €31million deal with Braga to sign the Portuguese forward.

Trincao will sign a five-year contract at Camp Nou and his release clause has been set at an eye-watering €500m.

The 20-year-old was the joint top-scorer at the 2018 European Under-19 Championships as Portugal claimed victory.

He has featured in 21 games across all competitions for Braga this season, contributing three goals and six assists, after making his first-team debut for the club in December 2018.

A versatile player capable of operating across the forward line, he will provide a further attacking option for Barcelona once the 2020-21 season gets under way.

The club had been linked with Richarlison and Willian this week but on Thursday director Guillermo Amor ruled out any further incomings during the January transfer window.

Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale are in contention to return for Real Madrid in Saturday's derby against Atletico Madrid.

Belgium forward Hazard was beginning to show signs of his best form after a big-money move from Chelsea before an ankle injury sustained in November curtailed his momentum, with a hamstring issue having seen him miss large chunks earlier in the campaign.

Hazard returned to training last week and head coach Zinedine Zidane said he could be involved in El Derbi, though did not make any guarantees.

When asked about his availability, Zidane replied: "Hazard has been training with us all week.

"He could be included but we will never take any risks."

Bale twisted his ankle in a 3-1 Copa del Rey triumph over Unionistas de Salamanca last week and missed wins over Real Valladolid and Real Zaragoza.

Zidane, though, again kept his cards close to his chest when asked if the Wales forward will face Atleti.

"It's the same question, I'm not going to say who's going to play because it's something personal," Zidane added. 

"All players are prepared and then we'll see what happens.

"We have 25 players and the good thing is that they are all involved. Then I am the one to choose because I am the coach. Since we have 25, the complicated thing is the call for the 18. All I want is for the players to be focused and prepared."

Bale's future at the Santiago Bernabeu was once again a topic of discussion with reports suggesting he could make a return to Tottenham on loan.

However, Zidane is not expecting such a scenario on deadline day.

"Gareth is here with us and I am counting on him. I am not contemplating this possibility," Zidane said.

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