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.

Manchester United look set to continue scrambling for strikers throughout deadline day.

While Bruno Fernandes has finally arrived, the Red Devils were reportedly less successful in a surprise bid to bring Bournemouth forward Joshua King back to Old Trafford.

Now, with the countdown well and truly on, a Tottenham target appears to have been removed from United's radar.

 

TOP STORY - UNITED PASS ON WILLIAN JOSE

Though still without Marcus Rashford, United have rejected the chance to sign Willian Jose on loan, according to Sky Sports.

Real Sociedad reportedly failed to gain a bite after offering the Brazilian striker to the Champions League aspirants amid negotiations with another Premier League club in Tottenham.

Spurs earlier looked to be in pole position to sign the 28-year-old permanently, but may now have to settle for a temporary deal as discussions continue.

The prospect of a bolstering their attack following Rashford's injury would have appealed to United, who reportedly failed in an attempt to capture Cherries star King.

The Telegraph claims Eddie Howe's insistence on keeping the Norwegian denied Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the chance to reunite with the player he coached while in charge of United's reserve side.

 

ROUND-UP

- Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain will keep Edinson Cavani unless LaLiga side Atletico Madrid improve from €15million to €20m, according to ESPN reporter Julien Laurens.

- Juventus midfielder Emre Can will join Borussia Dortmund on loan with an obligation for the Bundesliga club to buy for €30m, reports Goal.

- Manchester City are set to beat Arsenal, Barcelona and Bayer Leverkusen to Coritiba's 17-year-old Brazilian right-back Yan Couto, claims Mundo Deportivo. 

- Ricardo Rodriguez is out the door and Milan might have settled on a shock replacement. Sky Sports suggests the Rossoneri have agreed an €11.9m (£10m) deal to take left-back Antonee Robinson from Championship outfit Wigan Athletic. The Serie A side are also said to be on the cusp of signing Anderlecht youngster Alexis Saelemaekers.

- Inter and Lazio are competing to secure Chelsea centre-forward Olivier Giroud before the transfer window shuts, claims Sky Sport Italia. 

Diego Simeone appeared to have perfected a defence-first approach at Atletico Madrid.

However, Zinedine Zidane's work with Real Madrid this season has seemingly been based on the same philosophy and is reaping far greater rewards.

LaLiga leaders Madrid will hope to open a six-point lead over Barcelona when they entertain local rivals Atletico at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

With the help of Opta, we look at the impressive numbers behind Los Blancos' miserly defence.

 

A sluggish start

It was not an ideal start for Zidane when he returned for a second stint as coach last March.

A 4-1 win over Real Valladolid was not enough for Santiago Solari to keep his job following back-to-back home defeats to Barcelona and a shock Champions League last-16 exit to Ajax.

Zidane struggled to find consistency in the closing stages of the season and only managed five wins in his 11 LaLiga games at the helm.

During that time frame, Madrid appeared to increasingly struggle defensively. They saw their average goals conceded per game rise from 1.19 to 1.27 and they faced 0.5 more shots per game (up to 4.09 from 3.59).

 

Tightening up

Madrid kept just three clean sheets under Zidane last season, but they are already up to 11 in 21 LaLiga games this term. That is one more than Atletico.

Having let in 14 goals as Zidane saw out the end of the 2018-19 campaign, they have improved dramatically with just 13 put past them this term – the fewest of any teams in the top five European leagues and their best record after 21 matches since 1988.

Madrid's expected goals conceded is 19.75, meaning they have let in 6.75 fewer than anticipated, highlighting some good work from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. The only teams in LaLiga with a better differential this season are Real Valladolid (-10.11) and Levante (-7.44), but they conceded more than Madrid at 24 and 32 respectively.

Greater defensive work has seen the number of shots Madrid are facing decrease from 9.91 per game under Zidane last term – and 10.24 across the whole campaign – to 8.48, a tally only Getafe (7.57) and Manchester City (7.63) have faced fewer than in the top five European leagues.

When only efforts that hit the target are taken into account, Madrid have been troubled by just 2.62 every 90 minutes this season – the lowest in the continent's leading divisions. Atletico face just 2.86 per match.

 

Attack as a form of defence?

Madrid have seen their average possession dip slightly since Zidane took over, but it has remained at just above 58 per cent under the Frenchman.

They are seemingly reaping the rewards of playing with greater intensity higher up the pitch – they have won possession in the final third 5.38 times per game this season, an increase from 4.09 in Zidane's first 11 games in charge.

Madrid are averaging more shots than any team in LaLiga at 17.89 per game, with 6.43 of those hitting the target – another league high.

Quique Setien has no concerns about Barcelona failing to sign a striker in the January transfer window because Ousmane Dembele will be "amazing" when he returns from injury.

Barca director Guillermo Amor confirmed before Thursday's 5-0 Copa del Rey last-16 victory over Leganes that no back-up to Luis Suarez – ruled out until May with a knee injury – will be signed, negotiations for Valencia attacker Rodrigo Moreno having broken down.

Lionel Messi scored twice and was involved in the other three goals as Setien's side enjoyed serene progress to the quarter-finals, with Antoine Griezmann, Clement Lenglet and Arthur hitting the target.

Setien acknowledged the lack of a new signing leaves Barca's attack in a precarious position, though Dembele has been eased back into full training since the weekend having been sidelined since November with a thigh injury.

Asked about the lack of a signing, Setien said: "I will be calm. There is a risk of injury and it cannot be controlled. I am used to working with what I have.

"It was not to be. The market did not give us anything, but we will also recover Dembele.

"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."

Dembele signed from Borussia Dortmund for an initial €105million in August 2017 but has frequently struggled with injuries.

Barca's victory over Leganes saw them emphatically bounce back from the first defeat of Setien's tenure, a 2-0 loss to Valencia on Saturday that saw them fall three points behind Real Madrid in LaLiga's title race.

"We did very well in the first 20 to 25 minutes. It's true they could have hurt us, but we did many things well. However, I am not entirely satisfied," Setien said of Thursday's display.

"We scored but we lost control of the game and gave them a lot of life when we had to control the game."

Lionel Messi has hit yet another milestone at Barcelona, having now featured in 500 wins for the club.

Messi scored twice and played a part in Barca's other three goals in a 5-0 rout of Leganes in the Copa del Rey on Thursday.

It makes Messi the first player to reach the landmark, with Xavi having won 476 matches and Andres Iniesta reaching 459 victories before departing Camp Nou.

Espanyol were the first side to lose to a Barca team that included Messi, back in October 2004.

Meanwhile, UDA Gramenet are the only team to have faced Messi and managed to avoid defeat, having beaten Barca in the Copa del Rey last 64 in 2004-05.

In total, Messi has been on the winning side against 86 different teams, with Sevilla his favourite opponent.

Messi has won 29 times against the Andalusian club, while he has 24 victories over Atletico Madrid and 19 versus Real Madrid.

Roma captain Alessandro Florenzi has signed for LaLiga club Valencia on loan until the end of the season.

Florenzi, who came through the ranks at Roma, has been a regular in their first team since 2012-13.

Having come into the side as a midfielder, Florenzi has regularly been deployed at right-back for both club and country, making 35 appearances so far for Italy.

However, the 28-year-old has fallen down the pecking order under Paulo Fonseca this term, featuring in 14 Serie A matches, making 12 starts.

Valencia have now confirmed they have reached an agreement with Roma for Florenzi to sign on loan for the rest of 2019-20.

Los Ches sit seventh in LaLiga, though are just four points behind third-placed Sevilla.

Borussia Dortmund have let Paco Alcacer depart for Villarreal and are in talks with Juventus midfielder Emre Can about a potential move.

Villarreal announced the arrival of Alcacer on Thursday, with the former Barcelona striker signing a five-and-a-half-year deal and reportedly commanding a club-record fee of €23million.

The 26-year-old Spain international enjoyed a stunning first season with Dortmund, scoring 18 goals in 26 Bundesliga appearances.

However, he has made just nine starts in all competitions under Lucien Favre this season and struggled with injuries, while the arrival of Erling Haaland from Salzburg led to increased competition for minutes.

Alcacer - linked with former club Valencia earlier in the window - has consequently returned to Spain with Villarreal, who are eighth in LaLiga and booked a place in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Wednesday.

It may not be the last of Dortmund's activity in the transfer window, with Can close to arriving from Juve.

Germany international Can was left out of the Bianconeri's Champions League squad this season and has made just eight appearances in all competitions, two of which have come from the start.

Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc told a news conference on Thursday: "Well, the transfer window isn't open much longer and I don't like to provide any updates until something is final.

"We are talking with the player, this is no secret. But a decision hasn't been made yet."

Carles Perez has left Barcelona to make an initial loan move to Roma until the end of the season, with the Serie A giants paying €1million up front.

Roma will be obliged to make Perez's transfer permanent for an initial €11m – with a further €4.5m attached to performance-related clauses – if "certain sporting targets" are achieved.

Should the Serie A giants be required to stump up that cash, the 21-year-old winger, who struggled for consistent game time at Barca under Ernesto Valverde and then Quique Setien, will join on a contract until June 2024.

"I know I am leaving a great club like Barcelona, but I'm joining another great club in Roma," said Perez. "I'm really happy and I can't wait to start training alongside my new team-mates."

Roma chief executive Guido Fienga said: "We are hugely satisfied with Carles' arrival in Rome. Carles learned his trade in one of the best youth academies in Europe and has been playing for a club with so much talent at its disposal.

"We are all hopeful that he can immediately have a significant role to play within our squad."

Perez's departure from Barca - who retain the right of first refusal on any potential future sale - does not necessarily mean there will be any new arrivals at Camp Nou, with Quique Setien stating on Wednesday he was happy with the squad at his disposal.

Roma also announced the signing of Gonzalo Villar from Elche for an initial €4m, with the midfielder putting pen to paper on a four-and-a-half-year deal.

"My first impressions are all great. I'm joining a massive club, one of the best in Italian football. I'm really happy right now," Villar told Roma TV.

"It'll be a great challenge for me. I'm coming to a new country, a beautiful country. I can't wait to get started with my team-mates and to show what I am capable of doing.

"I spoke to the coach [Paulo Fonseca], who told me the confidence he has in me. He told me that he likes the way I play on the pitch, but that I need to work hard to adapt to this new challenge.

"He made a strong impression and I'm confident he'll be a great coach for me."

Lucas Vazquez insists he never doubted he is good enough to represent Real Madrid and is not concerned about the criticism he has received.

The Spain international rifled home the second goal in Wednesday's routine 4-0 win over Real Zaragoza as Madrid cruised into the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey.

Many have questioned Vazquez's role in the team, but he was praised by boss Zinedine Zidane for his display against Zaragoza and the winger is glad to have proved himself.

Asked how he reacts to the criticism directed his way, the 28-year-old told reporters: "I isolate myself from it. I'm a Madrid player and I know what I stand for.

"What you can't do is doubt yourself."

Madrid have gone 20 games without defeat in all competitions since losing 2-0 to Real Mallorca on October 19 and they lead the way by three points at the top of LaLiga.

Next up is a home match with city rivals Atletico Madrid on Saturday and Vazquez said: "The game in Mallorca was a turning point. It's brought good performances and good results.

"Playing [Atletico] is always difficult. They're not going to make things easy for us."

Raphael Varane, Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema were also on target at the Estadio La Romareda as Madrid made it seven wins in a row.

Zidane's men remain on course for three more trophies, having already won the Supercopa de Espana earlier this month, and defender Dani Carvajal has set his sights on a clean sweep.

"We have three matches left [in the Copa] to be in the final and we are going for it," he said.

"We will take it step by step. On Saturday there's an important match - we want to keep this going. It's a special match."

The time might have come for Chelsea to cash in on one of their longest and most loyal servants.

According to reports, LaLiga giants Barcelona are eager to take winger Willian to Camp Nou before the January transfer window closes on Friday.

The experienced Brazilian has been with Chelsea since 2013, but his contract is due to expire at the end of the season.

 

TOP STORY - BARCA WANT WILLIAN

Barcelona will test Chelsea's resolve with a late €23.6million (£20m) offer for Willian, Sky Sports have reported.

The Blaugrana are said to be are "long-term admirers" of the 31-year-old and hope to have him on board for the remainder of their title battle against Real Madrid.

Willian could leave Stamford Bridge on a free at the end of June if Chelsea choose not to cash in now.

Frank Lampard last month said contract talks were ongoing with the former Shakhtar Donetsk attacker, but he has not yet agreed a new deal.

 

ROUND-UP

- News of Barca's approach comes amid suggestions they have had an eye-watering €100m (£85m) offer for Richarlison rejected by Everton, rumours the Mirror indicates have been laughed off at Goodison Park.

- Chelsea, however, could be preparing their Willian replacement. According to the Daily Mail, the Premier League top-four aspirants are looking to sign 32-year-old Napoli forward Dries Mertens for a cut-price £6m fee.

- Barca, meanwhile, are trying to find a new home for Philippe Coutinho after learning Bayern Munich will not activate their €120m option to buy the on-loan playmaker, say Catalunya Radio.

- England international Danny Rose will spend the remainder of the season at Newcastle United after Tottenham accepted a £2m loan fee for the left-back, claim the Guardian.

- Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund must improve their bid from €22m to €30m to convince Serie A champions Juventus to part with midfielder Emre Can, claim CalcioMercato.

Barcelona appear unlikely to sign Everton striker Richarlison despite being linked with an £85million (€100m) move for the Brazil international.

According to Sky Sports, the Spanish giants have targeted Richarlison to bolster their attack, with injured frontman Luis Suarez set to miss the rest of the season.

The British broadcaster claimed Everton turned down a bumper bid for Barcelona, whose sporting director Eric Abidal is said to be a great admirer of the former Watford player.

However, Omnisport understands such a deal is considered within Everton's ranks as being unlikely to happen.

Richarlison signed a new five-year contract with the Premier League outfit in December, with the 22-year-old lined up to play a big part in the Merseyside club's future.

With Carlo Ancelotti installed as manager shortly before Christmas, Everton have high hopes they can push for the European places and keeping Richarlison is key to their plans.

Richarlison has scored eight goals and provided three assists in 22 Premier League games this season, after hitting 13 goals and laying on another six in the competition during his debut campaign for the Toffees in 2018-19.

Milan have allowed Spanish winger Suso to leave on an 18-month loan to Sevilla, who will be required to purchase him outright if certain objectives are met during his stay.

Suso, 26, joined the Rossoneri from Liverpool in 2015 and has been a prominent member of the first-team squad over the past three-and-a-half years.

The Spain international had played in 16 of Milan's 21 Serie A matches this term, scoring one and setting up another two.

Milan were said to have valued Suso at €40million in pre-season, but his underwhelming form this term is seemingly reflected by the reported €25m purchase option for Sevilla.

The move sees Suso reunited with Julen Lopetegui, the coach who handed the former Cadiz youngster his first Spain cap and also worked with him in La Roja's youth setup.

Suso will be expected to compete with Nolito, Lucas Ocampos, Rony Lopes and Munir El Haddadi for a spot in the starting XI.

He joins a Sevilla squad that sits third in LaLiga with 38 points, five adrift of second-placed Barcelona.

Quique Setien would welcome any new arrival at Barcelona in January but is happy to work with what he has for the remainder of the season.

A deal to sign forward Rodrigo Moreno appeared to be on the cards after Valencia boss Albert Celades confirmed on Tuesday the two clubs were in negotiations over the Spain international.

However, reports in the Catalan media suggest that move will not be happening, leaving Barca light up front in the absence of Luis Suarez, who is set to miss the rest of the campaign with a knee injury.

Setien confirmed the reigning LaLiga champions are interested in adding to their options before the transfer window closes, though he is prepared to push for glory on three fronts with the squad at his disposal.

"First of all, I'm delighted with what I have in my squad," Setien told the media ahead of Thursday's Copa del Rey tie against Leganes.

"We are not going to deny that it would have been interesting to bring in a player, but I always focus on what I have. 

"If anyone comes in, they will be welcome. If it doesn't happen, though, I will be delighted to work with the squad I have available.

"I've come here from working at other sides, I'm used to working with what I have. I'm sure that this side is prepared to compete in every competition."

While there may be no further arrivals this month, Carles Perez seems set to depart Camp Nou. 

The 21-year-old has been a peripheral figure this season under Ernesto Valverde and new head coach Setien, with Roma rumoured to be his next destination.

Asked to clarify why Perez has not featured more in the early weeks of his reign, Setien said: "It's a shared decision [with the club]. What I've spoken about with the player is very clear – the reality is I'm not going to speak about private decisions.

"It's a decision by the club and I've given my opinion – it is what it is."

Setien also refused to rule out further departures, adding: "I can't guarantee anything – we will see. These are decisions that the club takes. They are the ones who make the best decisions."

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