Pep Guardiola warned Barcelona they would need time to readjust when Lionel Messi leaves the club, after Real Madrid's struggles following Cristiano Ronaldo's exit.

Ronaldo left Madrid for Juventus in July 2018 and the Spanish giants battled that season, winning only the Club World Cup and seeing three different coaches at the helm, including the return of Zinedine Zidane.

Manchester City manager Guardiola expects his former club Barca to endure a similar problem when Messi, another all-time great, departs Camp Nou.

"It is inevitable, these players are so transcendent," he told Post United in an interview conducted by Spanish YouTuber DjMariio, via Marca.

"When Messi leaves Barca it will take time to readjust. It is inevitable.

"They score 40-50 goals per season."

Guardiola has continued to enjoy coaching success since leaving Barcelona, a spell at Bayern Munich preceding his move to Manchester.

Already a two-time Premier League winner, Guardiola has another young star in his squad in highly rated midfielder Phil Foden.

Foden has only made two Premier League starts this season, but Guardiola talked up the 19-year-old's talent.

"He will be a bomb," he said.

"There are no clauses here, you have it raw, you have to negotiate with me."

Serie A strikers Romelu Lukaku and Ciro Immobile lead the line in FIFA Ultimate Team's latest Team of the Week.

Lukaku and Immobile are two of the form front men in European football, and the duo have earned recognition following their latest goalscoring exploits.

Inter striker Lukaku grabbed both goals in a 2-0 away win at Udinese on Sunday.

And Immobile matched that haul as Lazio thrashed SPAL 5-1, the Italy international's brace taking his 2019-20 league tally to 25 already.

The duo are far from the only big names in this week's selection, however, with Roberto Firmino, Jadon Sancho and Hugo Lloris also among the new in-form cards.

Find the full squad below.

TEAM OF THE WEEK

GK: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) - 89

CB: Matthijs de Ligt (Piemonte Calcio/Juventus) - 87

LB: Alex Telles (Porto) - 87

CB: Yerry Mina (Everton) - 84

CM: Daniel Parejo (Valencia) - 88

RM: Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain) - 88

CAM: Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund) - 87

CM: Santi Cazorla (Villarreal) - 86

CF: Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) - 88

ST: Ciro Immobile (Lazio) - 90

ST: Romelu Lukaku (Inter) - 88

SUBSTITUTES

GK: Steve Mandanda (Marseille) - 83

CB: Kaan Ayhan (Fortuna Dusseldorf) - 81

RM: Robert Snodgrass (West Ham) - 81

ST: Francesco Caputo (Sassuolo) - 84

RW: Daniel Ginczek (Wolfsburg) - 82

ST: Kasper Dolberg (Nice) - 81

LW: Oussama Idrissi (AZ) - 81

RESERVES

CM: Alexandru Maxim (Gaziantep) - 79

CM: Alexandru Cicaldau (Universitatea Craiova) - 78

LM: Ahmet Engin (Duisburg) - 76

LM: Nathan Thomas (Carlisle United) - 74

LW: Said Benrahma (Brentford) - 80

Eden Hazard must wait to make his Real Madrid comeback after failing to make the matchday squad for the Copa del Rey clash with Real Sociedad, while Gareth Bale is missing once again.

Belgium forward Hazard has been absent since November with an ankle injury and only returned to training last week.

There had been hope he could feature in the derby against Atletico Madrid, which Zinedine Zidane's men won 1-0 on Saturday, but he was not included for that game.

Head coach Zidane was non-committal on his involvement for the quarter-final tie against Sociedad and Hazard was not among a 19-man squad named on Wednesday.

Bale remains conspicuous by his absence after Zidane said his exclusion for the match against Atleti was not due to injury, saying: "He was available. When it came to deciding, I picked others."

Casemiro, Lucas Vazquez and Dani Carvajal are also not among those selected. Reports in Spain suggest Casemiro has been suffering with flu, while Carvajal took a knock against Atleti. 

Nacho Fernandez, Brahim Diaz and Rodrygo Goes – all absent against Atleti – are included against Sociedad.

Quique Setien is concerned for Ousmane Dembele though is unsure if Barcelona will have to make signings to replace the injured winger.

Dembele seems set to miss the rest of the season after sustaining a tear in his right hamstring in training on Monday.

The France international had been working his way back from a hamstring issue in the same leg which had kept him out since November.

News of Dembele's injury was somewhat overshadowed by Lionel Messi's public criticism of Barca director Eric Abidal on Tuesday, though the 22-year-old's continued absence leaves Setien short of numbers up top, with Luis Suarez also out.

However, Setien is not convinced Barca, who have Portuguese forward Francisco Trincao joining from July 1, will do further business to replace Dembele.

"These are things that are pending that will be talked about first of all. We are going to see what the diagnosis is for the problem Dembele has, how long he's going to be out," Setien told a news conference ahead of Thursday's Copa del Rey clash with Athletic Bilbao.

"Once we know that and have all the info we'll take decisions. It's true I was very excited to get Ousmane back to help us, this is obviously an unfortunate situation but I've always had problems in my career and what I always try to do is find solutions.

"We'll see if it's going to be a long time out and if we can sign someone, we'll have to wait and see, and if not we'll try to find the path to give the team solidity, consistency and identity that is required to win games.

"We'll always look at things positively and with excitement. I always said I'm going to be happy here and this doesn’t stop me from being happy.

"I'm worried most not about Dembele as a footballer. He's an extraordinary kid who works with intensity and desire to come back. It could be three, four or five months without playing football which is the thing he likes to do the most."

When pressed on Barca's failure to bring in reinforcements up front, Setien said: "Well I'm sure we'll always have 11 players! I'm sure we'll always be competitive as well. In football these things happen.

"But we are going to be competitive with what we have. If we can't sign anyone for any reason, it doesn’t matter, we are going to work with the same excitement and desire, ensuring players that are here are completely committed.

"You can see that today we had another extraordinary training session and are completely focused on the game tomorrow which is what completely bothers us.

"I would like to have more players. If we had known about the injury to Ousmane, I don't think Carles Perez would have left the club. But I'm not going to be crying permanently about things, I need to transmit positivity to my squad."

Zinedine Zidane does not expect Barcelona to be weakened by the off-field unrest that has blighted Real Madrid's LaLiga title rivals this week.

A potentially damaging row has broken out at Camp Nou after Barca star Lionel Messi hit back at director of football Eric Abidal, who suggested some players were not working hard enough prior to Ernesto Valverde's dismissal as coach.

Messi went public with his response in an Instagram post directly referencing Abidal's comments in which he wrote: "When talking about players we should give names, because if not we are all getting dirtied and feeding things that are said but aren't true".

The situation is so serious that former Barca winger Francisco Jose 'Lobo' Carrasco claimed Messi could be on the brink of exiting the club.

But Zidane did not want to wade in on the issue, which he does not believe will derail Barca's season.

Asked if Madrid could take advantage of their Clasico rivals' plight, the Frenchman said: "It's never like that, it's not about that.

"They're not going to be weak, they're a very competitive team. We're not thinking about that for one minute.

"They will compete with us until the end of the season. Good players are always good."

Turning his attention to his own team, who won the Madrid derby last time out and facing Real Sociedad in the quarter-final of the Copa del Rey on Thursday.

Zidane – who also declined to comment on Kylian Mbappe's apparent discontentment at Paris Saint-Germain ​– added: "We have good momentum, we have to keep going in the same way.

"There's a long way to go yet, we haven't won anything yet and that's what it's all about. You can be happy when you've won something, but we haven't won anything yet."

Madrid beat Sociedad 3-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu in November and welcome them back for a one-off clash in a competition they have not won since 2014.

Zidane anticipates a tough match against a side who sit eighth in LaLiga.

"It's like a final," he said. "It's not like a quarter-final, It's just one game.

"I don't think they're going to come here and give an inch. We have to be really focused, switched on right from the start.

"It's a really good team, as they've shown all season. They play really good football. It's a team that's going to come here and try to do things well."

Zidane refused to confirm if Eden Hazard would be involved following his lengthy absence with an ankle injury.

Lionel Messi looks like he has "one foot out of the door" following his public disagreement with Eric Abidal, according to former Barcelona winger Francisco Jose 'Lobo' Carrasco.

Barca director of football Abidal suggested some players were not working hard enough prior to Ernesto Valverde's dismissal as coach, a claim that provoked a response from the usually media shy Messi.

Writing on his official Instagram account and specifically highlighting a section of Abidal's quotes, Messi said: "I honestly don't like to do these things, but I think everyone has to be responsible for their tasks and take care of their decisions.

"The players [are responsible for] what happens on the pitch and we are also the first to recognise when we are not playing well.

"Those responsible for the area of sports management must also assume their responsibilities and especially for the decisions they make.

"Finally, I think that when talking about players we should give names, because if not we are all getting dirtied and feeding things that are said but aren't true."

The spat does nothing to quell fears Messi has become tired of a perceived lack of leadership at boardroom level and will look to leave Camp Nou at the end of the season.

And Carrasco, who spent 11 years at Barcelona and won LaLiga in 1985, would not be surprised to see the six-time Ballon d'Or winner seek a new challenge.

He told Spanish TV programme El Chiringuito: "He's ill at ease.

"In all the years I've been watching him, and have loved the way he plays, it's the first time Messi has looked to me like he has one foot out of the door.

"I've never had to say that before."

Barca are next in action on Thursday in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals against Athletic Bilbao – coach Quique Setien is due to address the media in his usual pre-match news conference on Wednesday, with the comments of Abidal and Messi likely to be high on the agenda.

Eric Abidal's interview tipped Lionel Messi over the edge.

Normally quiet, especially on social media, Messi used Instagram to hit out at Barcelona director of football Abidal, who had earlier suggested some players were not working hard enough prior to Ernesto Valverde's sacking.

Barca superstar Messi is reportedly unhappy with how things are unfolding at Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI TIRED OF BEING BARCA SCAPEGOAT

Lionel Messi is tired of being held responsible for everything that happens at Barcelona amid doubts over his future, according to COPE and Marca.

Contracted until 2021, captain and six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi snapped back at Barcelona director of football Eric Abidal for bad-mouthing players at the club as he discussed Ernesto Valverde's exit.

It comes amid discontent towards the board and Barca's struggles on the pitch.

Clubs in China, the United States and the Middle East would all be interested should the Argentine opt for a change of scenery.

 

ROUND-UP

- Has Paul Pogba played his last game for Manchester United? The Red Devils are resigned to losing Pogba at the end of the season, reports The Mirror. Linked to Real Madrid and former club Juventus, Pogba has not featured since December due to an ongoing ankle problem.

- Staying at Old Trafford and The Mirror says United will prioritise signing Aston Villa star Jack Grealish as fellow midfield target James Maddison nears a new deal with Leicester City.

Atletico Madrid will consider Mauricio Pochettino as their next head coach if they move on from Diego Simeone, reports the Telegraph. Pochettino continues to be linked with United, who are struggling under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

- Standard Sport claims Chelsea will sign Lyon striker Moussa Dembele at the end of the season after failing to land the Frenchman in January.

- Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes is a target for Arsenal, reports The Sun. Arsenal enquired about the 22-year-old Brazilian's availability last month.

Milan snubbed the chance to sign Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic in January, says Calciomercato. Matic is out of contract at season's end but is open to extending his time in Manchester.

Lionel Messi has sensationally hit out at Barcelona director of football Eric Abidal after he suggested some players were not working hard enough prior to Ernesto Valverde's dismissal.

Abidal granted several interviews to Spanish media outlets on Tuesday and, in a chat with Catalan publication Sport, the Frenchman outlined the thought process behind Valverde's sacking in January.

He revealed they began to consider a change of coach after 0-0 Clasico draw at home to Real Madrid on December 18, with the former left-back claiming he and his colleagues had identified "many players weren't satisfied nor working hard and there was also an internal communication problem".

But Messi, who is rarely at the centre of controversy at the club, has called Abidal out over his comments, telling him he should name individuals rather than tar everyone with the same brush.

Writing on his official Instagram account and specifically highlighting a section of Abidal's quotes, Messi said: "I honestly don't like to do these things, but I think everyone has to be responsible for their tasks and take care of their decisions.

"The players [are responsible for] what happens on the pitch and we are also the first to recognise when we are not playing well.

"Those responsible for the area of ​​sports management must also assume their responsibilities and especially for the decisions they make.

"Finally, I think that when talking about players we should give names, because if not we are all getting dirtied and feeding things that are said but aren't true."

Barca are next in action on Thursday in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals against Athletic Bilbao – coach Quique Setien is due to address the media in his usual pre-match news conference on Wednesday, with the comments of Abidal and Messi likely to be high on the agenda.

Ousmane Dembele's Barcelona career was dealt another setback on Tuesday.

Barca announced the 22-year-old France international has sustained a complete proximal hamstring tear in his right leg and it is reported he will sit out the rest of the season.

Dembele has been plagued by injuries since arriving at Camp Nou from Borussia Dortmund for an initial €105million in August 2017.

The latest injury came as he stepped up his return from a right hamstring problem that has sidelined him since November.

 

The numbers

In total, injury problems have forced Dembele to miss 59 matches for the Catalan giants. That is equivalent to 40.4 per cent of the games Barca have played in LaLiga, the Copa del Rey, the Champions League and the Supercopa de Espana since his arrival.

The winger has played just 31.4 per cent of the total minutes that would have been available to him across all competitions had he not suffered any injuries at Barca.

Based on his transfer fee alone, he has cost the club a whopping €1.4million per match.

 

The problem

Luis Suarez is out until May after undergoing knee surgery. Carles Perez was allowed to join Roma on loan with an option, that could become an obligation, to buy. Abel Ruiz will spend the rest of the season at Braga and then complete an €8m transfer there. Francisco Trincao will not arrive from Braga in a €31m switch until the end of the campaign. Barca reportedly pulled the plug on a loan deal for former Villarreal striker Cedric Bakambu before the transfer deadline.

With Dembele set to miss a significant period of time, Barca are hamstrung in the attacking department and it is a mess of their own making.

Head coach Quique Setien had been counting on Dembele's seemingly imminent return to bolster his attacking options after the club failed to bring a new forward in during the January transfer window.

"The transfer market did not give us anything, but we will also recover Dembele," Setien said following a 5-0 victory over Leganes in the Copa del Rey last week.

"He is a player who has specific attributes and I think he can give us a lot. He feels comfortable out wide and we will try to take advantage of that.

"I'm sure he will give us a lot with the potential he has and will demonstrate the great player he is. Dembele is going to be amazing."

 

The solution?

Barcelona have instead looked to their B team to improve their depth, with Kike Saverio and Rey Manaj added to their Champions League squad for the rest of the campaign.

Ecuador-born striker Saverio won the UEFA Youth League in 2017-18 and is strong on both feet but has only scored four goals in 34 appearances for Barca B.

Former Inter attacker Manaj joined the second string for an initial €700,000 from second-tier side Albacete in January. He scored his first goal for the club a 2-1 win over Prat on Sunday, but his second outing ended before half-time as he was sent off for two bookable offences.

Although Ansu Fati notched a double in the 2-1 victory over Levante on Sunday, it has been reported Barca will look to sign a free agent from outside Spain as emergency cover.

Regardless of their next move, Barca will be at a significant disadvantage as they seek to retain their LaLiga title and push on in the latter stages of the Champions League.

Ousmane Dembele has been diagnosed with a complete hamstring tear in his right leg, Barcelona announced on Tuesday.

Dembele sustained the blow during a training session on Monday, having been stepping up his recovery from a right hamstring issue that has sidelined him since November.

While the club provided no time frame for his recovery, multiple reports in Spain claim Dembele will be forced to sit out the rest of the season.

A Barca statement read: "Tests carried out on Tuesday on Ousmane Dembele have shown that the player has a complete proximal hamstring tear in his right thigh.

"In the next few hours a decision will be made on the treatment to be followed for his recovery."

Dembele has only made nine appearances for Barca this season and spent a month out earlier in the campaign with a left hamstring injury.

The 22-year-old arrived from Borussia Dortmund for an initial fee of €105million in August 2017 but his time at Camp Nou has been blighted by injury.

He underwent surgery on his left hamstring one month after joining the club and did not return to action until January 2018.

Dembele suffered another strain in the same thigh four games after making his comeback and spent another month on the sidelines.

At the end of the 2018-19 season, a sprained ankle was followed by a left hamstring strain and a right hamstring injury to restrict his involvement in the team.

The latest setback will be a bitter blow for head coach Quique Setien, who was counting on Dembele's return to bolster his attacking options due to Luis Suarez being ruled out until May after undergoing knee surgery.

Setien stated Dembele would be an "amazing" addition when he regained fitness, with the club having failed to bring in a forward during the January transfer window.

"The market did not give us anything, but we will also recover Dembele," said the Barca boss.

"He is a player who has specific attributes and I think he can give us a lot. He feels comfortable out wide and we will try to take advantage of that.

"I'm sure he will give us a lot with the potential he has and will demonstrate the great player he is. Dembele is going to be amazing."

Ousmane Dembele has been diagnosed with a complete hamstring tear in his right leg, Barcelona announced on Tuesday.

Kieran Trippier is a doubt for the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie with Liverpool after the Atletico Madrid full-back underwent surgery.

The England international has not played since the penalty shoot-out defeat to Real Madrid in the final of the Supercopa de Espana on January 12 due to a troublesome groin problem.

As the discomfort was not subsiding, Atleti decided to send the 29-year-old for an operation, which the club say was completed successfully.

Trippier will now begin a recovery process but is not likely to be fully fit for another month, according to reports in Spain.

It means the former Tottenham man is likely to miss the visit of Liverpool on February 18, as well as league games against Granada, Valencia, Villarreal and Espanyol.

Trippier has made 22 appearances in all competitions since moving to the Wanda Metropolitano last July for a reported fee of €22million.

Atletico are winless in their past five matches in all competitions and sit sixth in LaLiga, 13 points adrift of leaders Madrid.

Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic could make a surprise move to Atletico Madrid ahead of next season.

The Croatia international is reportedly unhappy at Camp Nou and has been linked with a move away since the off-season.

Now, a stay in LaLiga could eventuate, but away from Barcelona.

 

TOP STORY – ATLETICO BEGIN TALKS WITH BARCELONA'S RAKITIC

Atletico Madrid are already negotiating with Rakitic about a possible move at the end of the season, according to Cadena SER.

The 31-year-old is contracted at Barcelona, where he arrived from Sevilla in 2014, until 2021.

Rakitic admitted on Sunday he considered leaving the club in January, and it seems a move is likely come season's end.

ROUND-UP

- Amid reported interest from Manchester United and Arsenal, James Maddison is close to agreeing a new contract with Leicester City, according to The Telegraph. Maddison has starred for the Premier League club this season and is poised to sign a lucrative long-term deal.

- Frank Lampard is set to face a battle at Chelsea. The Mirror reports the head coach wants to sell Kepa Arrizabalaga – who became the world's most expensive goalkeeper when he arrived at Stamford Bridge from Athletic Bilbao for a reported £71.6million (€80m) in 2018 – but is set to face resistance from the board.

- Atletico Madrid and Roma are interested in Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard, according to ESPN. Lingard is coming out of contract in 2021 but also holds a one-year extension option at Old Trafford.

- Are Milan set for another coaching change? Bild reports Red Bull's head of international relations and scouting, Ralf Rangnick, is in advanced talks to become the Serie A club's head coach and sporting director once the season is over. Stefano Pioli only took charge of Milan in October, replacing Marco Giampaolo.

- Inter almost signed Islam Slimani, who is on loan at Monaco from Leicester City, last month, according to CalcioMercato, which reports the Serie A club's move came late in January before collapsing.

Ousmane Dembele has suffered a setback in his attempt to return from a thigh injury for Barcelona.

Barca confirmed the 22-year-old felt "discomfort in his right leg as a consequence of muscle fatigue" in a training session on Monday.

The club added he would continue with his rehabilitation and did not provide a specific timeline for his return.

Dembele has not played since coming off in the first half of Barca's 3-1 home win over former club Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League group stage on November 27.

He was initially ruled out for 10 weeks and has only started three LaLiga matches this season, spending time in Qatar during his initial period of treatment.

New Barcelona head coach Quique Setien had discussed Dembele last week, saying he had no concerns about the club failing to sign a striker in the January transfer window because the forward will be "amazing" when he returns.

Dembele joined Barca for an initial €105million in August 2017 but has frequently struggled with injuries during his time in Spain.

Atletico Madrid's attacking options have been further depleted by an injury to Alvaro Morata that could make him a doubt for the Champions League last-16 first leg against Liverpool.

Morata was forced off early in the second half of a 1-0 defeat to LaLiga leaders Real Madrid on Saturday and has been diagnosed with an unspecified muscle injury in his right leg.

According to reports in the Spanish media, Morata will miss the meeting with Granada this weekend and faces a race to be fit in time for the visit of Liverpool on February 18.

Atletico, who are winless in their last five matches in all competitions, were without Joao Felix and Diego Costa for their defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Joao Felix's injury was sustained ahead of El Derbi but is not considered to be too serious, while Costa could be ready to make his return ahead of the Liverpool game.

Atleti sit sixth in LaLiga, three points outside of the top four.

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