Wolfsburg midfielder Ignacio Camacho has called time on his playing career at the age of 30 after struggling with a persistent ankle injury.

Former Atletico Madrid and Malaga man Camacho spent three seasons with Wolfsburg but last made a competitive appearance in September 2018.

The ex-Spain international injured his ankle in a DFB-Pokal game against Hannover in 2017 and failed to truly recover, despite undergoing five separate operations to resolve the issue.

Wolfsburg announced on their official website on Monday that Camacho's contract has been terminated, but he will stay at the club on a two-year training programme, which involves learning about the academy and other departments.

"I fought non-stop to get back on the pitch," Camacho said. "But I'm leaving safe in the knowledge that I did all that I could. 

"I gave it absolutely everything I'd got to get back to doing what I love best, and that's playing football. 

"It wasn't easy - I've been in pain every day over the last three years and, ultimately, it has prevented me from carrying on. 

"I'm very grateful to those who have helped me - it wasn’t easy for them either."

Camacho earned his only senior cap for Spain in a 2014 friendly against Germany and previously spent six years with Malaga, having come through the ranks at Atletico.

He was an unused substitute for Atleti in their Europa League final win over Fulham in 2010 and featured in that year's UEFA Super Cup triumph against Inter Milan.

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone has tested positive for coronavirus, the LaLiga club have confirmed.

Atletico's full squad and coaching staff underwent COVID-19 tests on Friday after returning from their pre-season training camp in Los Angeles.

The latest round of testing was prompted by an unnamed member of the travelling party returning a positive on Thursday.

Simeone is now undertaking a period of isolation and is not displaying any symptoms.

"The analysis of these new samples in the laboratory has determined that our trainer, Diego Pablo Simeone, has given a positive result for COVID-19," Atletico said in a statement.

"Fortunately, our technician does not present any symptoms and is at his home isolated and fulfilling the corresponding quarantine after being concentrated with the team since last Monday."

Atletico are due to travel to Cadiz for a friendly on Tuesday before beginning their LaLiga campaign at home to Granada on September 27.

Simeone's side have been granted a later start to the domestic 2021-22 campaign due to their involvement in the latter stages of last season's Champions League, where they lost 2-1 to RB Leipzig in the quarter-finals.  

It is 16 years since Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid were all beaten to the Spanish title. Valencia were the victors then.

The season before saw Real Sociedad push Madrid all the way in the title race; Sevilla entered the final day of the 2006-07 campaign with a chance of an unlikely success, while Villarreal finished second the following year.

In more ways than one, it feels like a bygone era. As the money in football grew exponentially, so did the margin for error for the biggest clubs.

Atletico managed to buck the trend, re-establishing themselves as a top club through smart recruitment, plenty of money and finding a coach in Diego Simeone who was not only able to get the best out of players, but improve them.

Although they haven't quite kicked on in the manner many might have expected, stagnating perhaps, Atletico have finished in the top three every season since 2011-12.

But ahead of 2020-21's kick-off on Saturday, there is a feeling there might finally be the possibility for other clubs to join the party again.

With Madrid, champions though they are, by no means spectacular and seemingly reluctant to spend, Barcelona tearing themselves apart from the inside and Atletico in stasis, now seems to be as good a time as any for a challenge to come from elsewhere.

Sevilla and Villarreal will hope it's their time.

"Why can't we dream?"

In the past 14 years, if any club has mastered knockout football, it's Sevilla. Six UEFA Cup/Europa League trophies now fill the museum at their atmospheric Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan home – no other team have won as many titles in UEFA competitions in that time.

So far they have failed to elevate themselves to the next level, though, with only one genuine title challenge in the same period – it's difficult to even consider them Champions League regulars either.

But their most recent Europa League success felt a bit different. Their route to the final was tricky, beating Roma, Wolves and Manchester United, before winning 3-2 against a resurgent – and expensively assembled – Inter in the showpiece.

It was a statement of intent, a declaration of ambition – it was the Europa League, but they beat Champions League-level opponents to win it.

The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly impacted upon the transfer market, and that has hampered the way Sevilla usually work. Sporting director Monchi makes no secret of the fact the club must sell every year in order to build a squad they otherwise would not be able to afford.

But the flipside to that is, for arguably the first time since Monchi first took up his role in 2000, Sevilla will begin the season with a settled squad. Sergio Reguilon and Ever Banega are the only major departures, while Oscar Rodriguez and Ivan Rakitic are fine acquisitions to replace the latter.

Coach Julen Lopetegui took a while to win over supporters, but by the end of the season he had Sevilla looking consistent and difficult to beat, setting a new club record of 21 matches unbeaten in all competitions.

That being said, Lucas Ocampos aside, the jury is out on their attack. Youssef En-Nesyri and Luuk de Jong failed to reach double figures for goals in LaLiga, and one gets the impression Sevilla will struggle to reach the next level without a deadlier finisher in the squad – their haul of 54 in 2019-20 was not especially remarkable.

But at the back Sevilla were frequently excellent, their 34 goals conceded being the third-fewest in the league and the lowest – by 13 – they have managed over the past five years.

The transformation in the team's style of play has been significant. They went from 35 fast breaks in 2018-19 to 19 last term, made almost 3,000 more passes and became increasingly direct, with headed attempts on goal up to 93 from 75.

But again, their main problem comes back to goals – they dropped 20 points from winning positions, and when you look at their 13 draws, seven were in matches where Sevilla netted first, and five of those finished 1-1. An extra goal in each of those five games would equate to 10 more points across the season.

Enough to win then the title? Not quite, but it highlights the fine margins - clubs like Sevilla don't have the room for error that Barca and Madrid do. They have to be more ruthless, and if they are, who's to say where they'll end up.

"Why can't we dream [about winning LaLiga]?" asked club president Jose Castro, quoted on the front cover of Marca recently. Challenging for the title is the next step and they look readier now than they have in 13 years.

Yellow Submarine ready to make a splash

The mess at nearby Valencia has proven particularly beneficial for Villarreal. Los Che are financially crippled, not in Europe this season and the whole club appears to be at odds with itself.

But few expected to see certain key players leave.

Captain Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin headed for the Ceramica, joining Villarreal for a combined figured of just €8m – the former was a free transfer.

Landing Spain international Parejo represents a remarkable coup for Villarreal. He had been a long-term servant at Valencia, spending nine years there and developing into one of LaLiga's most complete midfielders.

His arrival at Villarreal could be a game-changer, while Coquelin has also proven himself dependable in LaLiga. Add to that pair the precocious talents of Takefusa Kubo, a loan arrival from Madrid, and there's plenty of cause for optimism.

The Yellow Submarine finished fifth last term, 10 points adrift of Sevilla in fourth, but until the latter stages they had pushed Lopetegui's men - and Atletico - hard.

Villarreal's end-of-season struggles led to the sacking of Javi Calleja as coach, but in Unai Emery they have a replacement with pedigree, who also has a point to prove.

No one is expecting Villarreal to challenge for the title, but given the positives of 2019-20 and their impressive business off the field, there's certainly reason for optimism regarding a top-four push. Whether that also puts them in touch with the leaders depends on the form of Barca, Madrid and Atletico.

Defensively they will need to improve – 49 goals conceded meant only two teams in the top 10 let in more. At the other end of the pitch, they netted 63, making them the third-highest scorers in the division.

With Paco Alcacer, Gerard Moreno and Samuel Chukwueze all still there, it seems unlikely they will suddenly have problems in attack this term.

Their mentality was also questioned at times and it's easy to understand why when you consider they gained just four points from losing positions, while they also spurned 52 big chances. Although a slight decrease from the season before (54), those totals of big chances gone begging in each of the last two years were a significant increase on the previous three campaigns.

One of the main differences between Villarreal and Sevilla last season was the latter's superior resilience, as they gained three times as many points (12) from losing positions, but the right coach can inspire changes in such areas – Emery had the very same effect on Los Nervionenses in their run of three successive Europa League wins from 2014 to 2016.

He may have been criticised back then for not doing better in LaLiga, but in Europe Emery's Sevilla never knew when they were beaten and always seemed to have immense belief.

Villarreal will do well to mount a title challenge, that much is clear, but they look set to be a force to be reckoned with. The Yellow Submarine can summon everything necessary to make a splash in 2020-21.

Jadon Sancho has been tipped to swap Borussia Dortmund for Manchester United.

But the England international remains in Germany and United are growing frustrated.

Could United move on from the Dortmund sensation?

 

TOP STORY – UNITED READY TO PULL PLUG ON SANCHO

Manchester United are ready to give up on signing Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to the Daily Star.

Sancho has emerged as United's top transfer target, but the Premier League giants have been unable to negotiate a deal with Dortmund.

With United and Dortmund apart in their valuation of Sancho, the Red Devils are frustrated and could turn to alternative targets.

Juventus attacker Douglas Costa, Atletico Madrid's Joao Felix and Real Madrid outcast Gareth Bale are possible options.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca claims Barcelona are contemplating a loan move for Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin, who left Camp Nou for the Gunners in 2011. Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked, while Barca will only target the Spaniard if they are able to part with Nelson Semedo.

- Staying at Camp Nou and Barca are targeting Sevilla's star centre-back Jules Kounde. The front page of Saturday's Mundo Deportivo says Barca could wait 12 months to secure a deal. Mundo Deportivo also reports Emerson could be included in a deal to prise Lyon captain Memphis Depay to the embattled LaLiga giants.

Tottenham have had an offer for Torino striker Andrea Belotti rejected, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. Spurs proposed a loan deal with an option to buy the Italy international for €50million (£46m). Di Marzio also claims Tottenham will not be signing Napoli forward Arkadiusz Milik, who has been linked to Roma and Juventus.

Chelsea are ready to loan out winger Calum Hudson-Odoi, says 90Min. The Englishman has previously been linked to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

- Remaining at Stamford Bridge and Fabrizio Romano reports Chelsea will consider a move for West Ham's Declan Rice after having a bid accepted for Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.

Inter are ready to sell defender Milan Skriniar as they eye Hellas Verona's Marash Kumbulla, according to Calciomercato. It comes as Nerazzurri boss Antonio Conte tries to sign Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante and full-back Marcos Alonso.

Outcast midfielder Matteo Guendouzi is back in Mikel Arteta's plans after holding "really positive conversations" with the Arsenal first-team manager ahead of the new campaign.

Guendouzi fell out of favour after Arteta's arrival in December and has not featured in the squad at all since an altercation with Neal Maupay in June's 2-1 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion.

However, he returned to first-team training this week and Arteta has opened the door for the France Under-21 international to play more of a part this coming season.

"Matteo has been training like any other player in the squad," he said at a pre-match news conference ahead of Saturday's Premier League opener against Fulham.

"Obviously it's a new season - time is over. We had some really positive conversations with both parties, and now he's back with the group and training really well. 

"He went to France to play with Under-21s last week, played well again, and now he's here."

Arsenal are in the market for a new central midfielder, with Atletico Madrid's Thomas Partey and Houssem Aouar of Lyon rumoured to be high on their wish list.

Lyon director Juninho suggested this week they rejected the chance to discuss a deal for Guendouzi, who may have been used in a player-plus-cash move for Aouar.

But Arteta, who has already added Gabriel Magalhaes and Willian to his squad during the close season, was unwilling to discuss his transfer business further.

"I don't know about this. I'm not going to discuss here things that happen internally," he said. "But a lot of things they have been writing I can say they are not true."

Probed on whether Aouar remains a target ahead of the October 5 deadline, Arteta added: "I don't want to talk about players at other football clubs."

Alexandre Lacazette is another player who has been touted as a possible makeweight in a deal for Thomas, but Arteta insisted the forward is not seeking a move away.

"He is really happy here and wants to keep contributing to the team," the Spaniard said. "He knows about the competition he has with the front players. 

"The way he has been training and conducting himself has been excellent. Yes, he is very happy here."

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid comprised LaLiga's top three for an eighth consecutive season in 2019-20.

The big three of this era in Spain's top fight have not been apart since Valencia came in third in 2011-12 - 30 points shy of second-place Barca.

The order has shuffled into various configurations since, most sensationally when Atleti pipped the Blaugrana to finish top of the pile in 2013-14.

Madrid and Barcelona have cashed in on the superclub era, aided by arguably the two finest footballers of all-time, while Atletico gradually gained the weight they once punched above to become their country's third heavy hitter.

Nevertheless, each club heads into the new campaign with cracks appearing. If the end of an empire isn't quite upon us, it might be closing in.

MESSI, KOEMAN AND CATASTROPHE. WHAT IS GOING ON AT BARCELONA?

"There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it."

It is impossible to know whether Ronald Koeman has dwelt upon the wisdom of Oscar Wilde as he arrives at the apparent end of Barcelona's age of decadence, but there is something devastating about the timing of the Dutchman getting the job he has always coveted.

Indeed, it speaks volumes over how much Koeman wanted to come 'home' to Camp Nou that he would do so under an entirely discredited president to preside over an aging squad left somewhere close to mutiny by a humiliation of historic proportions.

Koeman did say he views Lionel Messi as key part of his project at Barca. And he has him, although there is the monumental catch of context.

In an explosive interview where he focused on everyone's fault but his own - a Leo culpa, if you will - Messi insisted he was only sticking around because Bartomeu had gone back on his word to him and made a departure financially "impossible".

"The truth is that there has been no project or anything for a long time, they juggle and cover holes as things go by," Messi told Goal Spain, in a remarkably damning inditement of those who remain his employers and team-mates.

Ivan Rakitic has gone, Luis Suarez is going and Koeman apparently wants to sign a selection of the Netherlands international players he left behind to take on the poisoned chalice of a lifetime.

As Messi allude to, decline has been eating away at Barcelona for some time. By the time they surrendered LaLiga to Real Madrid after the coronavirus hiatus - performances that effectively condemned Quique Setien's doomed reign even before the 8-2 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich - they had scored fewer goals (86), conceded more (38), had fewer shots (494), won fewer games (25) and lost more (six) than in any of their past five LaLiga seasons.

The potential saving grace - at the same time a damning indictment of the elite European game in the 21st century - is it seems there is only so far that a club on course for a $1billion record turnover before COVID-19 took hold should realistically be able to fall.

Even if the sum of Koeman's transfer incomings are some Oranje foot soldiers and Manchester City youngster Eric Garcia, a functional defensive set-up in front of the excellent Marc-Andre ter Stegen, a smooth midfield alliance between Frenkie de Jong and Miralem Pjanic and a delightful forward line featuring Messi, Antoine Griezmann, the prodigious Ansu Fati and the returning Philippe Coutinho is an assortment it is not too difficult to imagine as a championship-winning one.

MAGIC OF CHOLISMO STARTING TO FADE

Atletico do not have the luxury of mismanagement on the scale of which Josep Maria Bartomeu has shambolically overseen at Barcelona. At best they'd be Valencia; at worst they'd be playing Segunda Division football.

March's rousing Champions League triumph that unseated European champions Liverpool at Anfield showed Los Colchoneros retain an unmatched thirst for making an unholy nuisance of themselves against Europe's aristocrats.

Unfortunately, the start-up beverage spin-off that is RB Leipzig denied them another such showdown in the latter stages of the competition in Lisbon last month - a performance and result that spoke of problems that have quietly mounted to the point Simeone will struggle to shift them as he approaches nine years at the helm.

With their backs against the wall and the bit between their teeth, few teams want to face Atletico. But in games where they are expected to win and take the game to the opposition, they increasingly appear woefully short of the right moves - the transition from reactive to pro-active football beyond them.

They were favourites to beat Leipzig but played a low percentage game and paid the price, as they did over the course of 16 LaLiga draws last season. Their 14 points dropped from winning positions marked their worst return in the past five years.

That Joao Felix came off the bench against Leipzig to win a penalty, convert it and briefly turn the game in Atleti's favour also spoke ill of Simeone's failure to get the best out of the majestically skilled Portugal forward.

Indeed, there is a mounting list of talented attackers who have failed to hit the heights under Simeone, with Griezmann something of an outlier in the aftermath of their 2013-14 success.

Back then, Atletico beat Madrid and Barca when it did not look possible. Now the Classico rivals look deeply fallible, Simeone is unable to rustle up enough of the old magic.

ZZ STAYING ON TOP?

It is not a story to live up to the self-aggrandising history of Madrid, but Zinedine Zidane's steadying hand last year saw them win the title through not messing up as much as their rivals.

Where Barca and Atleti dropped 13 and 14 points from winning positions, Madrid shelled six.

That is not to do down Zidane's achievements as a serial trophy collector. He now has two domestic titles to go with three Champions Leagues across two spells in charge.

The France great is perfectly in tune with a squad he knows well and coaxed a magnificent, career-best season out of Karim Benzema last time around.

From the resumption after lockdown until LaLiga was secured, Madrid won 10 straight matches to comprehensively overhaul Barca.

Their subsequent Champions League loss to Manchester City, where 2-1 defeats in each leg ultimately flattered the 13-time European champions, put their dominant domestic form in context.

Having led the way for much of the past decade, LaLiga's big three presently feel like they're a rung below Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and the Premier League's top two of City and Liverpool. While it is easy to see Madrid retaining Spain's top-flight for the first time since 2007-08, it is hard the see the wider continental gap closing.

Eden Hazard must improve upon a stop-start first season at the Santiago Bernabeu, while Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo and Federico Valverde have futures of giddying excitement ahead of them. However, the old guard of Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Benzema remain the core and are the wrong side of 30. Galactico-hunters no more, Los Blancos have once again been fairly quiet in the transfer market.

Zidane's skill at Madrid has been to delay a wholesale transition, even when he returned in the aftermath of Cristiano Ronaldo's 2018 departure. But the clock is ticking on the time for change and, as Madrid's biggest rivals have shown, a painful process awaits.

Eduardo Camavinga is highly coveted following his exploits for Ligue 1 outfit Rennes.

The 17-year-old's stock has also risen after making his first France appearance.

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly vying for his signature.

 

TOP STORY – GIANTS GO HEAD-TO-HEAD FOR CAMAVINGA

Real Madrid face competition from Paris Saint-Germain to sign Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, according to Marca.

Camavinga, who made his international debut for France on Tuesday, has been heavily linked with a move to LaLiga champions Madrid.

However, Ligue 1 holders PSG are reportedly determined to keep the 17-year-old in France.

The front page of Friday's AS Diario adds Camavinga, PSG star Kylian Mbappe and RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano are being targeted by Madrid in 2021.

 

ROUND-UP

- TyC Sports claims Barcelona have made a new offer for Inter forward Lautaro Martinez. Repeatedly tipped to swap Inter for Barca, Martinez's agents are believed to be in Spain to discuss another bid.

Ronald Koeman has handed Barca a four-player shortlist, including Lyon's Memphis Depay, Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, Inter defender Stefan de Vrij and Manchester City defender Eric Garcia, claims Marca.

- FootMercato reports Madrid are considering a move for City attacker Riyad Mahrez.

- Sky Sport says Inter are convinced they will sign Arturo Vidal from Barca. It comes as Cagliari and Rennes try to sign veteran Nerazzurri defender Diego Godin, while Inter reportedly close in on Parma full-back Matteo Darmian.

- Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud has agreed a provisional contract to join Juventus as the Serie A champions wait on Barca veteran Luis Suarez, claims Sky Sports Italia. Juve have also been linked with Roma's Edin Dzeko, Napoli forward Arkadiusz Milik and Alvaro Morata of Atletico Madrid. Andrea Pirlo's Juve have also eyed former forward Moise Kean but Everton are unwilling to do a loan deal, reports Gianluca Di Marzio.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Juve striker Gonzalo Higuain, meanwhile, is set to complete his move to David Beckham's Inter Miami in MLS.

Leicester City want to sign Saint-Etienne defender Wesley Fofana but former Foxes boss Claude Puel is reluctant to part with the centre-back, according to Le10 Sport.

Real Madrid are prepared to pay to see Gareth Bale exit, while Manchester United have reportedly made progress in their pursuit of Jadon Sancho.

Bale has found himself on the outer in Madrid and has constantly been linked with a move despite being contracted until 2022.

The Welshman's huge salary is reportedly making it hard for the LaLiga champions to move him on, but they may be prepared to pay to see Bale exit.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID WILLING TO PAY HALF OF BALE'S WAGES

Real Madrid would pay half of Bale's salary to see him make a move, according to The Telegraph.

Bale has been linked with a return to the Premier League, with former club Tottenham reportedly interested.

The latest news could pave the way for Bale to finally leave Madrid after seven years at the club.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United look to have made some progress in their Sancho chase. ESPN reports the Premier League giants have made progress around wages and agent fees, but still need to find a deal with Borussia Dortmund.

- Houssem Aouar is linked with a move from Lyon, with a switch to the Premier League mooted. The Mirror says Arsenal are keen on the midfielder, who is believed to be a target for Manchester City.

- Barcelona are reportedly facing a dilemma. Mundo Deportivo reports the LaLiga giants are weighing up whether to rely on 17-year-old Ansu Fati or sign Lyon star Memphis Depay ahead of 2020-21.

- There seems to be uncertainty over Alexandre Lacazette's future at Arsenal. ESPN claims the forward is seeking clarification over his role at the Premier League club.

- Stephan El Shaarawy could be set for a return to Europe. Telefoot says Paris Saint-Germain are in contact with the Shanghai Shenhua forward's agents and Juventus, former club Roma and Atletico Madrid are also interested.

- While Watford were relegated from the Premier League, Troy Deeney could yet remain in the top flight. The Daily Mail says the forward is set to leave the club to join a Premier League side.

Saul Niguez is "very flattered" by rumours linking him with Manchester United but says Atletico Madrid do not need to worry about speculation over his future.

The Spain international was touted as a target for United before the Premier League giants moved for Ajax's Donny van de Beek last week.

United great Rio Ferdinand urged Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to sign Saul earlier this year, describing the midfielder as the "conductor" in the Atletico side.

And Saul, who signed a nine-year contract extension with Atleti in 2017, is grateful to have been subjected to such praise from iconic defender Ferdinand.

"I am very flattered that a club like Manchester United, or other teams that ask about me, take me into consideration," he told Marca.

"For me it is very positive. That strong people in those clubs speak well of you means that I am doing things well at Atletico Madrid."

Saul has previously stated he will not consider leaving the Spanish capital while long-serving head coach Diego Simeone is still in charge.

The 25-year-old is entering his seventh season as an Atletico regular and insists the club have nothing to fear when transfer rumours circulate.

"I think not," he said. "[Those feelings] have never been transmitted to me from the club."

Atletico finished 17 points behind LaLiga champions Real Madrid last season, exited the Copa del Rey in the round of 32 and lost to RB Leipzig in the Champions League quarter-finals.

However, Saul is hoping to challenge Madrid and Barcelona for top spot this time around and win his first league title, having been out on loan when Atleti triumphed in 2013-14.

"Honestly, after a complicated season, this one looks exciting and we hope that we will start it well despite the fact that we have little preparation time," he said.

"We have a very good squad, very young, in which we have many things to improve but we are working together and united. I think we have to be ambitious and fight to be up there."

Atletico begin their new season with a home match against Granada on September 26.

Could Antoine Griezmann leave Camp Nou now that Lionel Messi has committed to Barcelona for the 2020-21 season?

Griezmann endured a difficult first season at Barca following his arrival from Atletico Madrid.

Liverpool and Manchester United are among the teams who could tempt the Frenchman.

 

TOP STORY –  LIVERPOOL, UNITED CONSIDER GRIEZMANN

Liverpool and Manchester United are eyeing Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann, according to the Daily Mail.

Griezmann had reportedly been promised a leading role by new head coach Ronald Koeman had Lionel Messi left the club, but Barca's captain will remain at Camp Nou in 2020-21.

With Messi saying put, Premier League champions Liverpool, United and Arsenal are believed to be considering moves for Griezmann.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Guardian claims Manchester City are preparing a second bid for Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly. Pep Guardiola's City are hopeful they can find a compromise as United also reportedly eye the star defender.

- Sunday's La Gazzetta Sportiva is dominated by Barcelona pair Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal. Suarez is poised to join Serie A champions Juventus, while Vidal is set to move to Antonio Conte's Inter.

- While Suarez is reportedly close to swapping Barca for Juve, the Italian giants are considering alternatives if the deal falls through. AS Diario says Juve are weighing up Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Morata, while Roma's Edin Dzeko and former Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani have also been linked.

- According to Le10 Sport, Rennes are in discussions with Inter defender Diego Godin. The 34-year-old just finished his first season in Milan.

Milan remain one of the most active teams in the transfer market. Calciomercarto reports the Rossoneri have held talks with agent Fali Ramadani regarding Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic, while Real Madrid forward Luka Jovic is still of interest to the club.

- Norwegian journalist Fredrik A.N. Filtvedt says United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had spoken to Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho many times and the England international wants to leave for Old Trafford.

As Luis Suarez seemingly nears a Barcelona exit, the LaLiga giants could be getting close to two additions.

Barca were given a huge boost on Friday as star Lionel Messi announced he would stay at the club for another season.

But there are still set to be moves at Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA CLOSE TO DEPAY, WIJNALDUM DEALS

Barcelona are close to deals for Lyon star Memphis Depay and Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, according to AD.

Depay and Wijnaldum have been reported to be targets for Barca, who are rebuilding under Ronald Koeman after a tumultuous 2019-20 season.

Goal reports Barcelona are confident of landing Wijnaldum, who is out of contract next year.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Barcelona rebuild is set to see several exits, however. BBC reports Suarez has agreed a deal with Serie A champions Juventus.

- With Messi staying at Barcelona, perhaps Manchester City will turn their focus elsewhere. Gianluca Di Marzio reports the Premier League giants are set to make a new offer – of at least £66.8million (€75m) – for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

- The other half of Manchester are enduring frustrations of their own. The Daily Star reports Manchester United are preparing to walk away from a deal for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho due to the Bundesliga club wanting £110m (€123.5m) for the forward.

- Arsenal could face competition for Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey. ESPN reports Paris Saint-Germain have joined the Premier League club in the race for Partey.

- While Zlatan Ibrahimovic is staying at Milan, the Serie A club may be looking for more firepower. Tuttosport reports they are again considering a move for Real Madrid forward Luka Jovic, who struggled in his first season in the Spanish capital.

- Also at Milan and Fabrizio Romano reports they are close to reaching an agreement with Chelsea for midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko. It would be a loan for €3m (£2.7m) with an option to buy for €30m (£26.7m).

Atletico Madrid duo Diego Costa and Santiago Arias have tested positive for COVID-19, the club have confirmed.

Both Costa and Arias underwent testing during their vacations and are in quarantine, with Atletico adding that both players are asymptomatic. 

The rest of Atletico's squad – minus players currently on international duty – all returned negative results ahead of the start of pre-season.

However, with Costa and Arias in isolation, neither will take part in the start of pre-season training for Diego Simeone's side.

Former Chelsea striker Costa made 23 LaLiga appearances last season, scoring five goals.

Arias – who has been linked with a move away from Atletico in this transfer window – was restricted to just 14 league appearances as he played second fiddle behind Kieran Trippier.

With a crucial meeting set to take place in the Lionel Messi saga, the Barcelona star has reportedly agreed to a deal with Manchester City.

Messi, 33, has sensationally requested to leave the LaLiga giants, where he has spent his entire professional career.

But just whether a move happens could hinge on an upcoming meeting.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI AGREES €700M DEAL WITH CITY

Messi has agreed to terms on a deal worth £623million (€700m) with the City Football Group (CFG), which owns Manchester City, according to the Daily Record.

The deal is reportedly five years in length, including three in Manchester and two with MLS side New York City.

A six-time Ballon d'Or winner, Messi is set for a Barcelona exit after a tumultuous and trophy-less 2019-20 season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Messi's dad, Jorge, is set to meet with Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, according to Mundo Deportivo. It reports Jorge is drafting an exit for Messi, but Barcelona plan to tell him the superstar has a contract and they will not negotiate. It also reports Barca are preparing to offer Messi a renewal until the 2022 World Cup.

Atletico Madrid will have to wait until gameweek three to kick off their LaLiga campaign against Granada at the Wanda Metropolitano. 

Atleti's participation in the Champions League quarter-finals in August means their scheduled first two games against Levante and Sevilla will take place later in the season.

Diego Simeone's side, who finished third last season, will first face off against Barcelona on the weekend of November 21/22 before a derby clash against Real Madrid on December 12/13.

Should there be no further coronavirus-related delays to the season they will round off their campaign away to Real Valladolid in late May.

Atletico Madrid's fixtures in full:
September 26/27 - Atletico Madrid v Granada 
September 29/30 - Huesca v Atletico Madrid
October 3/4 - Atletico Madrid v Villarreal
October 17/18 - Celta Vigo v Atletico Madrid
October 25/26 - Atletico Madrid v Real Betis
October 31/November 1 - Osasuna v Atletico Madrid
November 7/8 - Atletico Madrid v Cadiz
November 21/22 - Atletico Madrid v Barcelona
November 28/29 - Valencia v Atletico Madrid
December 5/6 - Atletico Madrid v Real Valladolid
December 12/13 - Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid
December 19/20 - Atletico Madrid v Elche
December 22/23/24 - Real Sociedad v Atletico Madrid
December 29/30 - Atletico Madrid v Getafe
January 2/3 - Alaves v Atletico Madrid
January 9/10 - Atletico Madrid v Athletic Bilbao
January 19/20 - Eibar v Atletico Madrid
January 23/24 - Atletico Madrid v Valencia
January 30/31 - Cadiz v Atletico Madrid
February 6/7 - Atletico Madrid v Celta Vigo
February 13/14 - Granada v Atletico Madrid
February 20/21 - Atletico Madrid v Levante
February 27/28 - Villarreal v Atletico Madrid
March 6/7 - Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid
March 13/14 - Getafe v Atletico Madrid
March 20/21 - Atletico Madrid v Alaves
April 3/4 - Sevilla v Atletico Madrid
April 10/11 - Real Betis v Atletico Madrid
April 20/21 - Atletico Madrid v Huesca
April 24/25 - Athletic Bilbao v Atletico Madrid
April 27/28 - Atletico Madrid v Eibar
May 1/2 - Elche v Atletico Madrid
May 8/9 - Barcelona v Atletico Madrid
May 11/12 - Atletico Madrid v Real Sociedad
May 15/16 - Atletico Madrid v Osasuna
May 22/23 - Real Valladolid v Atletico Madrid

TBC - Atletico Madrid v Sevilla, Levante v Atletico Madrid

Barcelona will host Real Madrid in the first the first Clasico of 2020-21 on October 25 after LaLiga announced its fixture schedule for the forthcoming season.

The return between the two great rivals comes next April 11 on matchday 30, when fans could be back at the Santiago Bernabeu with the title on the line.

Atletico Madrid will welcome Barca – who have endured a tempestuous start to Ronaldo Koeman's reign as head coach due to Lionel Messi's transfer request and subsequent no-show for pre-season preparations – to the Wanda Metropolitano on November 22, a month before the first Madrid derby of the season across town on December 13.

Ateti's home derby comes on March 7, while they face Barca at Camp Nou on May 9 – the 35th matchweek.

Along with Getafe and Europa League winners Sevilla, LaLiga's big three will contribute to a staggered start to the campaign on account of their European involvement.

All five will sit out the opening weekend of September 12-13, with Atletico's scheduled home-match against Sevilla to take place in January 12.

Real Madrid versus Getafe and Barcelona versus promotion play-off winners Elche, also part of the listed matchweek one schedule, will take place on suitable European competition dates in February and March next year.

Madrid then get under way the following weekend at Real Sociedad, who will hope to have new marquee signing David Silva fit and available after the former Manchester City playmaker tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Sevilla, Barca and Atleti, owing to their somewhat contrasting experiences in the final stages of UEFA tournaments this month, will not begin LaLiga action until September 27, with Koeman's side at home to Villarreal, Diego Simeone's men hosting Granada and Sevilla travelling to newly promoted Cadiz.

Segunda Division champions Huesca are away to Villarreal on the opening weekend, with Cadiz welcoming Osasuna.

LALIGA OPENING WEEKEND FIXTURES

Deportivo Alaves v Real Betis
Atletico Madrid v Sevilla (rescheduled for January 12, 2021)
Barcelona v Elche (rescheduled for February/March 2021 on European competition dates)
Eibar v Celta Vigo
Cadiz v Osasuna
Granada v Athletic Bilbao
Real Madrid v Getafe (rescheduled for February/March 2021 on European competition dates)
Valencia v Levante
Real Valladolid v Real Sociedad
Villarreal v Huesca

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