Even in these extraordinary times, Barcelona letting Luis Suarez go to Atletico Madrid is starting to look like the oddest decision of the season.

Suarez's double over Eibar on Thursday secured a 2-1 victory for the league leaders, who are seven points clear at the top with a game in hand over champions Real Madrid in second.

The Uruguay star, who has netted six in his past six league games for Atleti, is joint-top of the division's scoring charts alongside former team-mate Lionel Messi.

It seems increasingly likely that Suarez, and certainly Atletico, will be at the top of the tree come the end of 2020-21.

With the majority of sides having now played half of their matches, the Stats Perform AI team have run the numbers to simulate how the rest of the LaLiga campaign will play out – and it's good news for Diego Simeone.

 

The data model estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss – based on each team's attacking and defensive quality.

Those ratings are allocated based on four years' worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for improvements or declines in form and performance trends.

The AI simulation takes into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes goals against and rewards them accordingly.

All that data is used to simulate upcoming matches using goal predictions from the Poisson distribution – a detailed mathematical model – with the two teams' attacking and defending ratings used as inputs.

The outcome of the season is then simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.

 

ATLETICO WIN AT A CANTER

Atletico have been given a 75.1 per cent chance of winning LaLiga, according to the model.

Simeone's men are predicted to finish on 86 points, nine clear of the rest of the field. They are given just a 17.8 per cent chance of coming second and dropping outside the top four is considered practically impossible.

Barcelona and reigning champions Real Madrid are predicted to end with 77 points apiece, with just a 12.4 per cent chance each of pipping Atleti to the title. Madrid have a 41 per cent chance of finishing second, slightly above Barca's 39.4, having beaten Ronald Koeman's side 3-1 in the first Clasico of the season at Camp Nou last October.

Those two are, at least, very likely to end up in a Champions League place. They are expected to be joined there by Sevilla, who have a 47.8 per cent chance of finishing fourth on 65 points, just three above Villarreal and six clear of Real Sociedad. The remaining European spot is predicted to be a close battle between Granada, Getafe and Real Betis, with Diego Martinez's men odds on to snatch it.

Valencia fans might be enduring a difficult time (again), and our sim has Los Che missing out on European football once more, if only by four points. That said, they still have a 3.6 per cent chance of a Europa League spot, which is better odds than those given to Supercopa de Espana winners Athletic Bilbao.

 

WOE FOR HUESCA

At the other end of a relatively tight table, in which just 11 points will separate seventh from 16th, it looks like Huesca are in for a tough run-in. They are given a 59.7 per cent chance of finishing bottom of the pile and just a 5.1 per cent shot at avoiding relegation, having won only once so far this term.

Osasuna are predicted to end up just four points above them, with the bottom three likely to be completed by Deportivo Alaves, although Elche will also be right in the mix. In fact, with those two tipped to finish level on 39 points, survival could come down to their head-to-head record, making their showdown on May 11 potentially decisive. Elche have the advantage there, having won the reverse game 2-0 away from home.

Real Valladolid are expected to have just enough to stay out of trouble, although they have scant room for manoeuvre, with our predictor giving them an equal 15.1 per cent chance of finishing 17th and 18th.

Eibar and Cadiz are looking likely to stay safe; indeed, Jose Luis Mendilibar's men, along with Celta Vigo and Athletic, are given a 0.1 per cent chance of gatecrashing the top four. They might well have boosted those odds this week were it not for that pesky Suarez.

Lionel Messi surpassed Pele's one-club goals record as he helped Barcelona end their winless streak on the road in LaLiga with a convincing 3-0 victory over struggling Real Valladolid.

Having drawn level with Pele's haul of 643 goals for Santos with a header in a 2-2 draw with Valencia on Saturday, Messi made it 644 in Barca colours across all competitions on Tuesday.

Having created Clement Lenglet's opener before playing a key part in Martin Braithwaite making it 2-0 before the interval, Messi swept home from Pedri's clever flick in the 65th minute.

It rounded off a fine performance from Ronald Koeman's side, who ended their winless run in LaLiga away games at the fifth time of asking.

Lionel Messi's motivation and hunger to succeed at Barcelona has never been in question, according to head coach Ronald Koeman.

The Argentina international failed in his attempt to engineer a move away from Camp Nou during the close-season but is set to become a free agent at the end of the campaign.

He has not always been at his best this season and has admitted in a new interview with LaSexta that the saga surrounding his future has affected his performances.

"The truth is today I'm fine," Messi said in a short excerpt released by RAC1 on Monday. "Today I'm fine and I feel like fighting seriously for everything we have ahead of us.

"I'm excited. I know the club is going through a difficult time, at club and team level, and it is difficult everything that surrounds Barcelona but I'm looking forward to it."

Messi has gradually improved as 2020-21 has gone on and has five goals in his last seven LaLiga matches, having failed to score or assist in five matches in October.

The superstar forward's comments were welcomed by Koeman but the Dutchman insists he never doubted Messi's determination to succeed after seeing his exit blocked.

"I don't need to see the Messi interview to know just how hungry and motivated he still is," Koeman said at a news conference previewing Tuesday's LaLiga trip to Real Valladolid.
 
"I see him with his team-mates every day. It's tough for any player who has won as much as him to not win every match he plays.

"But the squad is very united, albeit unhappy with the results. Leo is integrated in the side and helping us to improve things."

Messi's goal in Saturday's 2-2 home draw with Valencia was his 643rd for Barcelona, equalling Santos great Pele's one-club goals record.

Barca are eight points adrift of Atletico Madrid having played a game more than the leaders and are winless in four away league matches, last going five without a win in 2008.

Koeman accepts that results have to improve, with the under-fire head coach putting his side's inconsistent results down to a high turnover of youngsters in the first team.

"We have changed a lot of things," he said. "With younger players come a bit of irregularity. For the future it is a good thing but at Barca we have to win titles.

"It is a complicated situation we are in and time is needed, but we are Barcelona and we want to win.

"We will need to have maximum concentration against Valladolid. Every game we do not win is a step backwards for us.

"There are many games ahead in which many things can happen. We have lost a few away games and cannot fail again. There is pressure on the team to close the gap."

Ousmane Dembele is back in full training following another spell on the sidelines with a hamstring issue aggravated earlier this month.

However, Koeman confirmed the France international will play no part at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla, while Gerard  Pique, Ansu Fati and Sergi Roberto are also out.

Barca have won 12 of their last 13 LaLiga games against Valladolid, their only defeat in that run coming in March 2014.

Diego Simeone is hopeful Thomas Lemar can grow in confidence after ending his goalscoring drought in Atletico Madrid's 2-0 win over Real Valladolid.

The France international scored for the first time in 45 club matches in a run stretching back to April 2019 with his finish from a tight angle in Saturday's LaLiga clash.

Lemar's rare strike gave Atleti a platform to build on as they wrapped up a seventh straight league win through Marcos Llorente's well-taken goal.

Simeone has regularly defended the form of Lemar in recent weeks and hopes the 25-year-old, a €60million signing from Monaco in 2018, can now rediscover his confidence.

"The goal makes me very happy," he told Movistar. "He has been working for a long time to show what a footballer he can be and what he possesses inside.

"Hopefully this goal will help generate some confidence so he can keep his place in the side and reach his goals for the club.

"There are many games to play so the better the group is in general the better we can compete."

As well as scoring Atleti's important breakthrough goal 11 minutes into the second half, Lemar also created more chances (three) than any home player.

Lemar insisted he has never questioned his own ability and is grateful to have received Simeone's backing.

"I am very happy to have scored. It was important for me because it's been a while since my last one," he said. "Most of all I'm happy for the team because we played well.

"I have no doubts about myself – I know my quality. Criticism is a part of football so you have to have a strong head.

"Simeone knows my quality and he always wants to bring out the best in me. Today was good for me and for the team, but now we have to keep on working hard."

Atletico managed just one attempt on target in a first half that Valladolid, previously unbeaten in three games, edged at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Llorente's introduction at half-time, plus the arrivals of Koke and Joao Felix before the hour, made a huge difference as Atletico moved top of LaLiga with a sixth home league win in a row in this fixture.

Luis Suarez returned to Atletico's starting line-up after missing their last four matches with coronavirus but struggled to make much of an impact in his 63 minutes on the pitch.

The 33-year-old wasted a big chance early on when failing to round Jordi Masip and found the target from just one of his five shots, but Simeone expects the striker to soon regain his rhythm.

"Suarez has been out for two long weeks, since playing against Ecuador, so it has been a while since he was last on the field," Simeone said.

"He played longer than I expected. I'm sure those minutes will help him for what is to come because we need a lot from Luis."

Atletico, still yet to trail in a single LaLiga game this season, head to Real Madrid next weekend following Wednesday's trip to Salzburg in the Champions League.

A rare Thomas Lemar goal helped Atletico Madrid to a hard-fought 2-0 win over Real Valladolid at the Wanda Metropolitano as Diego Simeone's side climbed to the top of LaLiga.

Simeone named Joao Felix, Koke and Marcos Llorente among the substitutes with key games against Salzburg and Real Madrid to come over the next week, and Atleti struggled to get going as a result.

Llorente was introduced at half-time and Joao Felix and Koke followed before the hour, though Lemar had made the all-important breakthrough a few moments earlier with his first club goal since April 2019.

Atleti were in control from that point and added a second through substitute Llorente's route-one strike as the leaders made it seven league wins in a row to move above Real Sociedad.

Jordi Masip spilled Angel Correa's long-range shot but Luis Suarez could not take advantage four minutes into his return, miscontrolling the ball as he attempted to round the keeper.

The visitors entered the game unbeaten in three and looked the more threatening in the first half, with Jan Oblak keeping out efforts from Oscar Plano and Marcos de Sousa.

Simeone's men were given another scare four minutes into the second period when De Sousa's volleyed shot at the back post was blocked by Kieran Trippier in front of goal.

But Atletico grew into the game and, a few moments after Correa fired wide on the turn, Lemar converted Trippier's cross from a tight angle after Suarez failed to reach it at full stretch.

That ended a run of 45 games in all competitions without a goal for the France international and Atleti had a second 16 minutes later - Trippier flicking on Oblak's pass for Llorente to race through and tuck past Masip.

 

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone insists his focus is on beating Real Valladolid this weekend and not on the prospect of overtaking Real Sociedad at the summit of LaLiga. 

Atleti are the only side in the Spanish top flight to have not suffered defeat yet this season, a start which has them one place and a point behind leaders Real Sociedad, who have played two games more. 

Atleti have also conceded just two goals in their nine league games, the joint-lowest total at this stage of the season in LaLiga's history.

Given Atleti's superb recent record over Saturday's visitors to the Wanda Metropolitano – they have won nine of their last 10 games against Pucela – many expect Los Colchoneros to leapfrog La Real into top spot before Imanol Alguacil's men visit Deportivo Alaves on Sunday. 

Simeone is refusing to get carried away, though, and does not think his side will have it all their own way against Valladolid, who have picked up seven points from their previous three LaLiga games after earning just three points in their first eight outings.

"We understand that Real Sociedad are having a very good season," he told a media conference. 

"But now we are concerned about Valladolid. The coach has improved the team and found players who can do what he wants well and know how to play his game.

"The team has been representing him very well in the last three games."

Simeone will be able to call upon the services of Luis Suarez again after the Uruguayan returned a negative coronavirus test.

The former Barcelona forward missed Atletico's last four matches after he contracted COVID-19 while away on international duty last month.

Suarez had been in fine form for Atletico, with five goals in his first six LaLiga appearances.

The striker's 1.2 goals per 90 minutes is the highest of any player in the division to have played at least three matches, with Valencia's Manu Vallejo (1.02) next best.

Simeone will make a late call on the 33-year-old's fitness, but he is excited at the prospect of him linking up again with Atleti's array of attacking midfielders. 

"The characteristics of Luis are known to everyone," he said. "We have to maintain the form that we showed in recent games, which is to keep pressure on the goal. 

"We have players who are good at arriving from midfield and we will add Luis' characteristics to our team's play."

It remains to be seen if Yannick Carrasco will join Suarez in the squad after the Belgian suffered a knee injury in the midweek Champions League draw with Bayern Munich. 

The club released a statement on Friday saying he could not train and that his condition would continue to be monitored.

Luis Suarez will resume training with his Atletico Madrid team-mates on Friday after the club announced he has returned a negative coronavirus test.

The Uruguay international has missed Atletico's last four matches after he contracted COVID-19 while away on international duty last month.

In his absence Atletico have won two LaLiga matches 1-0 – including against his former club Barcelona – and drawn Champions League games 0-0 and 1-1 against Lokomotiv Moscow and Bayern Munich respectively.

Suarez's match fitness will be assessed by head coach Diego Simeone to determine whether the 33-year-old can feature in Atletico's league fixture at home to Real Valladolid on Saturday.

"Luis Suarez will join the group training sessions of the first team tomorrow after having tested negative in the official LaLiga PCR test," read a statement from Atletico on Thursday.

"The Uruguayan, after overcoming COVID-19 and complying with all health protocols, is reintegrated into the group and will be under Diego Simeone's control again."

Suarez had been in fine form for Atletico this season with five goals in his first six LaLiga appearances since he joined from Barca for a nominal fee in September.

The striker's 1.2 goals per 90 minutes is the highest of any player in the division to have played at least three matches, with Valencia's Manu Vallejo (1.02) next best.

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is unsure how long Eden Hazard will be sidelined, but said the attacker was "upset" after another injury setback.

Hazard, 29, is enduring a torrid run in Madrid, and is yet to make an appearance this season.

The Belgium international was ready to return from an ankle problem, but suffered a muscle injury that saw him miss Wednesday's 1-0 LaLiga victory over Real Valladolid.

Zidane is unsure how long Hazard, signed for a reported €100million from Chelsea last year, will be unavailable.

"I can't tell you how long it'll be. He picked up a bit of a knock in training before the game," he told a news conference.

"It looked like a muscle spasm but in the end it turned out to be a bit more than that. It's something muscular. It's nothing to do with the injury he's had and these things happen.

"He's been out for a long time. I don't think this one will be long but I can't tell you exactly."

Hazard has struggled to impress since arriving at Madrid, where he scored one goal and provided three assists in 16 LaLiga appearances last season.

Zidane said the former Lille star was disappointed after his latest injury.

"He's upset because he was all right. We talked about it at the press conference before the match, but he's had a setback and these things can happen," he said.

"He's not happy, he knows that it's not a big thing and we have to take it easy with him. It's a question of little time, I'm sure."

After earning seven points from their opening three LaLiga games, Madrid visit Levante on Sunday.

Vinicius Junior felt his introduction alongside Marco Asensio turned Real Madrid's LaLiga meeting with Real Valladolid in the champions' favour.

Brazilian Vinicius grabbed the only goal in Wednesday's 1-0 win after arriving from the bench in the 58th minute.

Madrid had dominated up to that stage, but Luka Jovic – the man Vinicius replaced – missed two big chances and had a third well saved by Roberto.

With Jovic continuing to toil amid reports of interest from Manchester United, Zinedine Zidane turned to his bench and made a triple change, with Dani Carvajal joining Vinicius and Asensio.

Although the pattern of the game did not vastly change, Vinicius found the net and later hailed Zidane's substitutions.

"We are all happy with the game," the 20-year-old said. "The first half was more complicated, but Zidane changed the system in the second.

"He brought Asensio and I on and we were able to change the game."

It was a second straight win for Madrid, although they were similarly made to work hard in a 3-2 success at Real Betis.

"It was a different game from Betis," Vinicius said. "[Valladolid] put a lot of people behind the ball, but the important thing is that we won both games."

Jovic's struggles were further evidence of a slow start for Madrid's attack this season, having drawn 0-0 at Real Sociedad in their LaLiga opener.

But Vinicius is encouraged by the way the team's defence is performing to keep their misfiring team-mates in matches.

"It's the beginning of the season – we haven't play friendlies and we had little time to train," he said.

"We know that if we do not concede, we have many options in attack. We continue working with Zidane to improve up front. The system depends on the players and each opponent."

Vinicius Junior came to Real Madrid's rescue as a sluggish start to their LaLiga season continued with a 1-0 home win over Real Valladolid on Wednesday.

Madrid were held to a goalless draw at Real Sociedad in their opener and then required a late Sergio Ramos penalty to beat Real Betis on Saturday, and a lack of cutting edge threatened to prove costly on their return to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Luka Jovic – a reported Manchester United target – was particularly guilty, missing two golden chances before the break.

Jovic’s frustration was compounded in the second half – his replacement Vinicius on hand to snatch a precious winner to send Madrid level with leaders Getafe.

The frustrating tone was set early as Roberto made an instinctive stop to keep Madrid at bay in the 10th minute, springing to his right to turn Federico Valverde's cushioned volley around the post.

Jovic helped craft that chance, but the former Eintracht Frankfurt man soon squandered a huge opportunity of his own as he inexplicably missed the target when found in front of goal by Valverde.

He was wasteful again 10 minutes before half-time, lashing past the left-hand post following a smart Luka Modric touch.

The Serbia forward saw a header saved by Roberto after the restart, with Casemiro slamming the rebound against the crossbar, with a subsequent chance for Shon Weissman – who was denied by Thibaut Courtois – provoking Zinedine Zidane into a triple-change.

Jovic was among those to make way and the move prompted the opener, with Vinicius profiting on a deflection in the area to finish coolly.

Courtois had to be alert to parry away a wayward Raul Garcia cross, yet Madrid might have added to their lead in the closing stages as Modric exposed Roberto's poor positioning but struck the base of the upright.

What does it mean? Madrid doing just enough

Madrid played some good football in the closing stages of last season as they clinched the title, but they are just getting by in the opening weeks of the new campaign. They were comfortable in terms of possession, enjoying 63 per cent, while they had five shots on target, yet Zidane will hope more straightforward victories are to follow.

Courtois kept busy

The chances that fell Jovic's way could have seen Madrid home and dry by half-time, but with his outfield team-mates wasteful, Courtois had to step up. The Belgium goalkeeper pulled off five saves in all, with each of them coming at crucial ventures, most notably a fine stop from Weissman at 0-0. 

Luka's luck not turning

Jovic may eventually get a second chance at Madrid if he returns from an expected loan move away, but this performance summed up his spell at Los Blanco so far. The 22-year-old has scored just twice in all competitions for Madrid but had three chances to improve that tally here. Only one of his trio of efforts hit the target and he was replaced after 58 minutes. 

What's next?

Madrid are in LaLiga action again on Sunday at Levante, while Valladolid host Eibar a day earlier.

Eden Hazard has suffered a fresh injury blow, with Real Madrid confirming he has sustained a muscle injury in his right leg.

The Belgium forward has yet to feature for Los Blancos this season having endured an injury-hit debut 2019-20 campaign.

Hazard's big-money arrival from Chelsea was met with much fanfare but the start of his campaign was held up by a hamstring complaint and he sustained a fractured foot in a Champions League game against Paris Saint-Germain in November having started to show flashes of his best form.

A broken ankle he suffered in February not long after returning from that setback further derailed Hazard's progress and there were suggestions this month he returned to pre-season overweight.

Head coach Zinedine Zidane defended Hazard against suggestions he lacked professionalism and included him in the squad for Wednesday's LaLiga clash with Real Valladolid.

But Madrid confirmed the new issue in a statement on the club's website and, although they did not put a timescale on his return, reports suggest he could be absent for another three to four weeks.

"Following tests carried out today on our player, Eden Hazard, by Real Madrid Medical Services, he has been diagnosed with a muscle injury in his right leg. His recovery will continue to be assessed," Madrid's statement read.

The LaLiga champions have taken four points from their opening two matches of the campaign.

Eden Hazard is "very close" to a return to full fitness as Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane refuted suggestions the forward lacked professionalism. 

The Belgium star has struggled to find his rhythm in Spain following his initial €100million switch from Chelsea in June last year.

He managed a solitary goal in his debut season at the Santiago Bernabeu as he battled to regain top condition after undergoing surgery on a broken right foot.

Zidane hinted that Hazard is primed for action for the first time this season, though stopped short of confirming his spot in the team for Wednesday's clash with Real Valladolid.

"I think he's very close to a return," said Zidane. "He is prepared and training well with the team.

"The issue is that he hasn't been able to train much until now, but now he is back training regularly. So, we'll see what happens.

"What he wants is to play. He had a big problem that caused him issues for a long time, but now it seems like he is fine.

"The season is very long and he is a professional. He does not lack professionalism. What he wants is to be with his team-mates and to play."

Asked if he was looking to add to his squad in what remains of the transfer window, Zidane pointed out the difficulties he already faces in picking the LaLiga champions' strongest XI.

Vinicius Junior is one player who is having to contend with being on the periphery, although Zidane insists he is content with the winger.

"I'm very happy with the squad that I have," he said. "Adding more players would not be ideal.

"I'm already struggling to choose between the players that I have. I have the best squad.

"I'm very happy with Vinicius. He wants to play like every player, I pick my starting line-up every match, and of course I count on Vinicius, he is a great player."

Zidane's side responded to their opening-game draw with Real Sociedad by winning 3-2 at Real Betis last time out. 

Southampton have completed the signing of centre-back Mohammed Salisu from Real Valladolid for a reported £10.9million (€12m).

The 21-year-old, who made 32 appearances for Valladolid in all competitions in 2019-20, has signed a four-year deal at St Mary's Stadium.

Salisu is Southampton's second signing of the close season following the arrival of Kyle Walker-Peters from Tottenham on Tuesday.

Manchester United, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid were all linked with the highly rated defender, but he is pleased to have joined Ralph Hasenhuttl's side.

"It is a very good feeling to be a Southampton player. I am very happy to be part of the club and I am looking forward to starting here," Salisu said in a Southampton statement.

"Southampton is a club with a very rich history in developing young players, so it is a very good club for me to develop my skills and to learn a lot as a young player.

"I know that the team expects a lot from me and I'm going to try to give all I can to help the team."

Southampton finished 11th in the Premier League last season and are looking to rebuild, having also sold midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to Tottenham for £20m.

Hasenhuttl is pleased with his latest capture and is expecting Salisu to slot straight into the side. 

"This is an important signing for us, Mohammed is a player who fits our profile well," the Austrian said.

"He is young and has a great amount of potential, but he is also someone who has the qualities to come in and help the team as soon as he is up to speed with our way of playing.

"I like what I have seen of him so far in his games with Valladolid. He is strong defensively, is calm with the ball - something that is important in our team - and he has good speed too.

"I think he will fit in well with us and that this will be a good place for him to develop his game further. We have some good centre-backs here and this will be another strong option for us."

Manchester City are set to make a splash in the transfer market and defence is the area in the spotlight.

City struggled defensively in the absence of injured star Aymeric Laporte following Vincent Kompany's exit, while there are doubts over John Stones' future in Manchester.

Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly and Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake are reportedly high on Pep Guardiola's wish list as he attempts to strengthen his squad after watching Liverpool coast to the Premier League title.

 

TOP STORY – CITY NOTIFY NAPOLI OF KOULIBALY INTENT

Manchester City have informed Napoli they are ready to make an offer for star defender Kalidou Koulibaly, according to Sky Sport Italia.

Pep Guardiola has set his sights on Koulibaly, who has also been linked to the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

City are willing to bid €65million (£58m) but Napoli are still holding out for €100m (£90m).

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying in Manchester and Sky Sports says City are in talks with Bournemouth over the signing of another defender – Nathan Ake. The Guardian claims City are poised to beat neighbours United and Chelsea to the Netherlands international.

- Sky Germany reports Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz has agreed terms with Chelsea as he moves closer to arriving at Stamford Bridge. Havertz has been linked to Madrid, United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Barcelona but he appears set to join Chelsea. Win Sports TV journalist Pipe Sierra, meanwhile, claims Chelsea and Leverkusen have agreed an €85m (£77m) fee plus €15m (£13.5m) in bonuses.

Juventus are eyeing former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino as a possible replacement for head coach Maurizio Sarri, according to La Stampa.

- The Daily Mail says Southampton are set to sign Real Valladolid defender Mohammed Salisu. The 21-year-old has reportedly attracted interest from United and Atletico Madrid.

Theo Hernandez has no plans to leave Milan amid interest from Ligue 1 champions PSG, reports Calciomercato. Hernandez is enjoying a fine season with a resurgent Rossoneri team under Stefano Pioli.

- Gianluca Di Marzio claims there is a €60m agreement between Napoli and Lille for Victor Osimhen but the Serie A outfit still has to resolve matters with the forward's new agent.

Quique Setien said Lionel Messi needed a rest as his "tired" Barcelona kept the pressure on Real Madrid with a 1-0 win over Real Valladolid.

Messi set up Arturo Vidal's 15th-minute goal on Saturday as Barca moved back within a point of rivals and LaLiga leaders Madrid, who have a game in hand.

But the superstar attacker played 90 minutes as Barca's busy schedule continued and Setien said afterwards that Messi needed a rest.

"He probably will get a rest, yes," the Barcelona coach told a news conference.

"I've mentioned it to him previously and perhaps today if we'd got a couple more goals, as I think we deserved, he probably would have come off to get a little bit of a rest."

Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez, meanwhile, each played 45 minutes, with the Uruguayan replacing the France international at half-time.

Setien, who said Griezmann had taken a "knock", feels Barca were tired after a third game in the space of a week.

"I think it's mostly tired legs. It's less than 72 hours since we played our last game," he said.

"It was very hot today and the pitch felt a lot bigger towards the end of the match. You could see that, a lot of players were not looking fresh on late in the game and they probably lacked that touch of intensity.

"We've played many games and it's very draining and we have quite a few players who've played a lot of minutes so we can't blame our football, I blame mostly our tired legs for today's game.

"Sometimes that can affect your decision making, but this is normal for the current situation we're in."

Page 1 of 4
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.