Atletico Madrid dropped points for the fourth time in five LaLiga matches as they drew 2-2 at fellow Champions League hopefuls Valencia.

Diego Simeone's men could have moved level on 42 points with third-placed Getafe with victory but, despite taking the lead twice, they were pegged back, meaning Sevilla and Real Sociedad could overtake them this weekend.

Although quality was lacking, the first half certainly entertained and Atletico just about edged it at the interval, with Marcos Llorente and Thomas Partey scoring either side of Gabriel Paulista's equaliser.

Valencia eventually became the superior force in the second half after Geoffrey Kondogbia's 59th-minute goal tied the score, but they failed to make the most of their late dominance as Kevin Gameiro spurned a glorious chance to down his former employers.

The early proceedings were by no means thrilling but Atletico made the most of a rare goal-scoring opportunity, as Angel Correa's shot struck Gabriel and Llorente was on hand to prod past Jaume Domenech.

Valencia levelled with five minutes of the first half to play – Gabriel heading in from close range after Maxi Gomez's delivery.

Atletico still went into the break ahead, though, thanks to Thomas' 20-yard strike, the midfielder drilling into the bottom-left corner after Valencia allowed him to charge forward.

Both sides initially struggled to control a scrappy affair after the break, but Valencia restored parity for a second time just before the hour – Kondogbia converting from close range after Dani Parejo's free-kick delivery.

Former Atletico striker Gameiro was introduced from the bench and should have put the hosts in front 16 minutes from time, but he blazed over from eight yards out and Gomez followed suit from a little further out soon after as Atletico held on to a commendable point.

What does it mean? Atletico hand La Real and Sevilla the initiative

The only reason Atletico are still in the top four is because their poor recent form has been matched by their top-four rivals, with La Real, Sevilla and Valencia all wildly erratic over the past few weeks.

But this weekend, Sevilla host rock-bottom Espanyol and La Real face another of the strugglers in Eibar. Both will fancy their chances of wins that will see them leapfrog Atletico once again.

Partey time on Valentine's Day

It seemed clear that if Atletico were to get a late win, Thomas would have been involved in some way. The midfielder impressed with some fierce bursts through the middle, scored a fine goal and only narrowly missed the target with three decent long-range efforts.

Correa a bystander

Through Atletico's difficult patch, Correa has been arguably the only player to enhance his reputation. However, on Friday he was utterly anonymous bar his shot that was fortuitously deflected to Llorente for the opener. He touched the ball just 16 times – the fewest of all the Atletico players except their substitutes – and failed to create a single chance.

What's next?

Both sides turn their attention back to the Champions League next week, with Valencia facing Atalanta in San Siro on Wednesday and Atletico hosting defending champions Liverpool the day before.

Diego Simeone hailed Atletico Madrid's improved performance after they ended a five-game winless streak by beating Granada 1-0 and paid tribute to the club's supporters for instilling his players with "responsibility".

Atletico moved up to fourth place in LaLiga after Angel Correa's sixth-minute goal settled an entertaining contest at Wanda Metropolitano, where Simeone's men put a torrid run of results behind them.

The victory was the Rojiblanco's first in six games in all competitions and came courtesy of an energetic first-half performance that impressed Simeone.

"In recent league games we could not respond accordingly to what we needed to do," Simeone told Movistar.

"There was a lot of weight on this match, but the players solved it and I am very happy about it.

"The supporters' impact is extraordinary; they fill you with responsibility, with the need to get involved.

"We are working and we are improving little by little."

Simeone saw Koke deliver a fine display in behind his front two, the attacking midfielder making his first appearance since he sustained a hamstring injury in December.

Koke provided the assist for Correa's goal and linked up well with Saul Niguez throughout a game in which a recently goal-shy Atletico team attacked persistently before coming under some late pressure. 

"Yes, I am happy for him and the team," Simeone said of Koke.

"We were very agile in the first 25 minutes, we started very well, with pressure and presence in the opponents' half, but then we backed off and they began to grow.

"They [Granada] are very good, they showed it, it comes from progressing to the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey and they gave us a fight until the end.

"When you need to win, the minutes run slower."

Atletico Madrid's five-game winless run came to a halt as Angel Correa's early goal secured a 1-0 victory over Granada at Wanda Metropolitano.

With attacking talents Diego Costa and Joao Felix out injured, Diego Simeone started with Vitolo alongside Correa in a two-pronged attack and was rewarded when the latter scored his fourth LaLiga goal of the season after six minutes. 

Atletico went into the match having failed to score in their previous three top-flight outings but delivered a performance full of urgency and guile.

The poor form that hampered the Rojiblanco in the last month threatened to resurface as Granada rallied in the last 20 minutes of an entertaining contest but Simeone saw his charges dig in when it mattered to make sure of a sorely needed three points.

Atletico's goal drought ended when Koke, back in the team after almost two months out with a hamstring injury, played Correa into the box and the 24-year-old rifled a low shot past Aaron Escandell from 12 yards.

Vitolo dragged a shot narrowly wide from 20 yards as the hosts kept the pressure on and he had the ball in the net after 25 minutes only for his effort to be ruled out for offside.

Saul Niguez deserved a goal nine minutes into the second half when he met Correa's cross with a volley at the far post but Escandell was equal to it.

Yannick Carrasco replaced Renan Lodi and tested Escandell with a low drive from just inside the box before a spell of Granada pressure saw Ramon Azeez fire disappointingly wide when well placed. 

Having controlled the game for over an hour the home side's grip faltered and Jan Oblak had to be alert to save Roberto Soldado's close-range volley, the Atletico goalkeeper getting down smartly to parry it away.

Carrasco won a free-kick on the edge of the box seven minutes from time but Saul curled his shot just wide of the target as Atletico failed to add gloss to a satisfying result.

 

What does it mean? Huge relief for Simeone

A run of three winless LaLiga matches can be reframed as four wins in seven and Atletico are up to fourth in the table, three points behind third-placed Getafe.

Better call Saul

There were strong performances from Thomas Partey and Koke in the Atletico midfield but Saul was notably involved in most of their best play and his quick thinking at a throw-in started the move that led to the winner.

Big miss from Azeez

Granada were never going to get many opportunities on goal in this game and when they did they were let down by Azeez, who snatched at his shot when a cool head was required.

What's next?

Granada are in action on Wednesday as they take on Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey ahead of Atletico's difficult trip to Valencia in LaLiga on Friday.

Diego Simeone has challenged Atletico Madrid to show they are "alive" when they resume LaLiga duties against Granada on Saturday.

A miserable run of results, not helped by a number of key injuries, has left Atleti's season in danger of derailing a little over a month into the new year.

Five games without a win, including a penalty shoot-out defeat to Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana final and a shock 2-1 Copa del Rey loss to Cultural Leonesa, has left Simeone's side with only LaLiga and the Champions League as potential trophies.

They are far from favourites for success in either competition, given they sit 13 points off leaders Madrid in the top flight and must face holders Liverpool in the last 16 in Europe.

Simeone, who now considers every remaining match to be a final, wants his players to show their mettle over what could be a decisive few weeks of their season.

"We have all finals," he told reporters on Friday. "We have a challenge and an important responsibility. We are going to compete with very good teams.

"We don't go beyond taking things game by game – we've always believed in that. I expect a full stadium, understanding the situation of the team, and the team understanding the situation of the championship. That's the most important thing."

When asked about Madrid and Barcelona's Copa exits this week, he added: "I'm very respectful of every team and I don't give an opinion on situations that don't involve us. I just think about improving and getting out of this dynamic, which isn't so good. We have to show that we are alive."

The good news for Atleti is that striker Diego Costa and midfielder Koke are close to returning.

A back problem has kept Costa sidelined since November, while Koke has only played once since December 14 due to hamstring issues.

Simeone hopes the comeback of a proven goalscorer and a creative midfielder can give his attack the lift they need.

"He's coming back. We'll see if he can play from the start," he said of Koke.

"Technically, he's a different footballer, he sees more than the others and we have more opportunities to create chances when he is on the pitch.

"Diego Costa has joined in with training this week. He's looking forward to coming back and the doctors will determine his all-clear when it's appropriate.

"It's important for the group [to have him back] and when he returns, we'll have a player who has always given us a lot."

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.

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.

Zinedine Zidane accepted responsibility for Real Madrid's sluggish display in the first half of their derby victory over Atletico Madrid.

Karim Benzema's goal early in the second half secured a 1-0 win for Los Blancos at Santiago Bernabeu, extending Madrid's lead over second-placed Barcelona to six points.

However, Madrid were certainly second best before the break and were fortunate not to have gone behind, with Vitolo going close and Angel Correa hitting the woodwork.

Zidane made two changes at the break, introducing Vinicius Jr - who played a key part in Benzema's winner - and Lucas Vazquez, with Federico Valverde, who had started out wide, moving inside.

"I was not happy with what I saw on the pitch in the first half. But it was not the players' fault, it was my responsibility," Zidane told a news conference.

"So I changed Isco and Toni [Kroos], but it could have been another two. A change was needed.

"Five in midfield has worked before. But not today, we found it hard to get into the game, were not good with the ball. But in the end when things are not working, you must change it, I am here for that too.

"We began the second half in a different way, opening up the pitch, pressuring up high. We were better in everything, we deserved to win and take the three points. We cannot always play really well from the first minute."

Madrid are clear in LaLiga and also into the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey, while they face Manchester City in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Zidane, though, would not be drawn on any talk of a potential domestic and European treble.

"No. We are just happy to have won a difficult game today," ZIdane said. "We have many difficult games left, in the Copa, LaLiga and Champions League. We've won nothing yet, just the Supercopa, and the path is very long."

Atleti's defeat means they have now lost three of their last four matches in all competitions and are 13 points behind their city rivals in LaLiga.

"We are worried by the situation, for sure," Diego Simeone told a news conference.

"We know we need to work hard to turn things around. We will be getting back players soon, and need to keep competing in the league and Champions League."

Felipe dismissed the suggestion Atletico Madrid's players have any doubts about Diego Simeone after their derby defeat to Real Madrid left them 13 points behind LaLiga's leading side.

Karim Benzema's goal 10 minutes into the second half - his first at the Santiago Bernabeu in a Madrid derby - condemned Atleti to a third defeat in four matches in all competitions.

Simeone's side had their chances before the break, with Vitolo going close and Angel Correa hitting the post, though the visitors hardly threatened after going behind.

But defender Felipe insists the squad are fully united under Simeone, despite a dismal start to 2020 which has seen them fall well off the pace and drop out of the Copa del Rey.

"No, we're all united, all together in this," Felipe told a pitchside reporter.

"We do have things to correct, do have things to improve but we will do it. We'll do it game by game, little by little but count on us, we know that today we suffered but we are united and we worked hard.

"We know we've got things to change, winning is everything to Atleti. We've got to correct our errors as quickly as possible."

Zinedine Zidane made two changes at half-time, bringing on Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Junior - who played a crucial part in Madrid's winner - and Felipe acknowledged the substitutions caught Atleti off guard.

"Yes, it was an aggressive change," he said. "It pushed us back onto our heels a bit. We knew how to work our way and stay in the game. Now we have to correct our position in the league quickly."

Vinicius, meanwhile, is hoping to grasp any opportunity he is given as he bids to become a regular starter for Madrid.

"Lucas Vazquez and I came on, changed the rhythm of the game first and foremost," Vinicius said.

"Zidane asked us to keep doing what we were doing and to do everything to go out and win. He's everything. He told us what we had to do and we did well.

"We've got such great players here. All I have to do, if I get a chance, is to win games like I did today."

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.

 

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.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel insists Edinson Cavani could be in a worse position than having to stay at the club.

The striker had appeared set to leave during the transfer window, with his contract expiring at the end of the season and his place in the first team usurped by Mauro Icardi.

Atletico Madrid were favourites to sign the Uruguay star but reports in Spain suggest they pulled out of the deal due to demands from the player's agent.

A Premier League move was also mooted, with Chelsea and Manchester United keen to sign a striker, but Frank Lampard appeared to confirm no new arrivals would be made on deadline day when stating Olivier Giroud would not be sold.

Tuchel had always been keen to keep Cavani, and he now hopes to see the 32-year-old regain top form as PSG keep up their pursuit of a clean sweep of domestic honours and Champions League glory this season.

"There are worse situations than staying at Paris Saint-Germain," he told reporters ahead of Saturday's Ligue 1 match with Montpellier at Parc des Princes.

"Edinson will feel good soon. He needs to regain confidence and rhythm - that's normal for a forward.

"Edi is a great player for the club. The fact the group is not changing is positive because we are used to working together.

"Everyone has a chance to be first choice. Edinson missed several weeks due to injury and his situation. So, we have to be patient and not think he can bring his best game on Saturday.

"If he regains rhythm and confidence, he'll be important for us. We're going to help him regain all his abilities."

Cavani has started just six games in all competitions for PSG in 2019-20, scoring five goals.

PSG are 10 points clear of Marseille at the top of Ligue 1 after 21 games.

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."

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