Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman is unsure if Lionel Messi will be available for Sunday's Supercopa de Espana final.

Messi missed Wednesday's penalty shoot-out victory over Real Sociedad due to some "discomfort".

Marc-Andre ter Stegen made two saves in the shoot-out as Barca overcame Sociedad 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw, sending them into the final against either Real Madrid or Athletic Bilbao.

Koeman said he was still unsure if Messi would be available for the decider.

"First, I am very proud of this team, because if you count all the missing players we have in this moment, I think it is important to have people behind who can help. I think today we fulfilled in every way," Koeman told a news conference.

"I know Real [Sociedad] had their chances like us. We just managed to win after the penalties.

"Regarding Leo, we must wait the next days to know whether he is able to play."

Frenkie de Jong had put Barca ahead against Sociedad before Mikel Oyarzabal levelled from the spot in the second half.

Ter Stegen made six saves prior to the shoot-out, equalling his best tally in a single game for Barcelona this season.

"Of course to win on the penalties you must have a great goalkeeper, because Marc has stopped the first three penalties of Real and it is an important step regarding our possibilities to win," Koeman said.

"Also, I think Riqui [Puig] has the personality to take the responsibility to shoot the fifth [penalty]. It was important to score and reach the final."

Barcelona reached the Supercopa de Espana final after beating Real Sociedad 3-2 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in Cordoba.

With Lionel Messi sitting out the tie with a slight injury, it was Frenkie de Jong who continued his strong recent form with the opening goal in the first half.

De Jong conceded the penalty that allowed Mikel Oyarzabal to equalise, though, and it was Sociedad who threatened most as the game entered extra time, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen in strong form and substitute Adnan Januzaj hitting the post with a free-kick.

Ter Stegen proved pivotal in the shoot-out, making two saves, before Riqui Puig buried his spot-kick to send Barca through.

The Germany international made a fine one-on-one save to deny Alexander Isak as La Real looked by far the more threatening in the early exchanges.

Barca seemed to settle after 25 minutes and twice came close through Martin Braithwaite, while Ousmane Dembele was menacing Nacho Monreal down the right.

The Catalans' growing pressure told six minutes before half-time, Antoine Griezmann clipping a cross towards De Jong, who reacted well to steer a header past Alex Remiro.

But De Jong handed Sociedad an equaliser 51 minutes in, his handball allowing Oyarzabal to send Ter Stegen the wrong way from the spot.

An end-to-end contest ensued, La Real threatening on the break through Isak and both Pedri and Griezmann coming close with powerful efforts.

In extra time, Ter Stegen made a spectacular one-handed save to keep out Joseba Zaldua's rocket before Dembele sent a shot straight at Remiro after Griezmann had stolen back possession.

Griezmann saw a volley smothered and Barca were very nearly hit on the break, Ter Stegen doing enough to deny Oyarzabal after the forward had failed to connect properly with Januzaj's cross.

Januzaj himself had a shot just prodded past the left-hand post after a strong run and then came closest of all to a winner, clattering the post with a wicked free-kick as Ter Stegen looked to get a fingertip to the ball.

De Jong hit the post with Barca's first penalty, but Ter Stegen saved from Jon Bautista and Oyarzabal and Willian Jose hit the post after Dembele had scored.

Griezmann skied his effort horribly after Miralem Pjanic and Mikel Merino each scored, but although Januzaj also converted, Puig showed nerves of steel to send the Catalans into the final.

Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen called upon his team-mates to raise the quality of their performances late in games after they earned a narrow victory over LaLiga strugglers Huesca.

Frenkie de Jong scored a first-half volley that proved decisive at El Alcoraz but Ter Stegen had to be alert to keep Rafa Mir from equalising as the division's bottom club were allowed to attack in the second half.

Ter Stegen acknowledged that Barcelona's display improved on their showing in a 1-1 draw with Eibar last time out in LaLiga, but called for more hard work to put the Blaugrana back in contention for a place in the top three.

"For 35 minutes we did very well, we played very good," Ter Stegen told the club's official website.

"We had a lot of possession, we pressed them high, when we lost the ball we were directly right in front of them to keep on going. We made it very difficult for them to come out from the back.

"We have to improve, that's what I think, overall in the last minutes so that we don't suffer as much. I think it's not needed.

"But we won the game which is very important and we move forwards."

Ter Stegen paid tribute to De Jong, who scored his second LaLiga goal of the season to equal the number he scored in the whole of 2019-20.

"I'm super happy for him, it's not that often that he scores. I hope he continues like this, and for me and the whole team it's nice to have a clean sheet for the restart and I'm really happy for us as a team," he said.

De Jong, who arrived at Camp Nou in a €75million transfer from Ajax in mid-2019, credited the fine chipped pass from Lionel Messi for giving him the opportunity to net his fourth goal for the club.

He said: "Especially in games like this when they close a lot and they are going backwards, all of their team almost, it's important to make these runs into the box as a midfielder.

"Leo gave me a great pass and I could score."

Asked whether scoring the club's first goal of 2021 holds significance for him, De Jong said: "I try to score a bit more but I don't think it means something, no."

Marc-Andre ter Stegen's extraordinary error gifted Atletico Madrid the decisive goal as they defeated Barcelona 1-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Saturday's hard-fought LaLiga contest was settled by a remarkable Yannick Carrasco strike in the third minute of first-half stoppage time.

Ter Stegen – making just his third Blaugrana appearance in all competitions since returning from a knee injury – rashly set off in pursuit of the ball near the halfway line and was beaten by Carrasco, who kept his cool to find the net.

It was a setback Barca could not recover from as they succumbed to a third league defeat of the season to remain 10th, also losing Gerard Pique to a knee injury as Ronald Koeman's teething problems show no sign of easing.

The visitors had held their own in a lively start that saw Antoine Griezmann stab his volley just over before Ter Stegen dived away to his right to make a smart save from Saul Niguez's 20-yard drive.

Marcos Llorente came closest to an early breakthrough but blasted against the crossbar.

Jordi Alba interrupted a subsequent lull in proceedings with a sublime pass between Kieran Trippier's legs to send Lionel Messi through, yet he shot too close to Jan Oblak from a tight angle.

A nutmeg at the other end proved far more costly on the stroke of half-time, however, as Carrasco nudged the ball beyond Ter Stegen, who had inexplicably charged 40 yards from his goal to leave the Atletico winger with a straightforward finish into an empty net.

Clement Lenglet should have nodded Barca level 11 minutes after the restart but instead directed his header straight at a grateful Oblak and then saw centre-back partner Pique land awkwardly under a challenge, requiring assistance to depart down the tunnel.

And Diego Simeone's men subsequently came on strong again, pushing Barca back the other way to see out a precious victory.
 

What does it mean? Simeone's side the real contenders

For a little over 10 minutes, this was an open, exciting affair with chances at either end. But Atletico, masters of the scrappy win, slowed the pace of the game expertly and seized on a rare Ter Stegen error in clinical fashion.

Koeman needs some respite, but Simeone's side were never likely to relent, surely believing this strange year could be theirs. Atletico are second, level on points with leaders Real Sociedad, as Barca sit nine points off the pace already.

Trippier handles Alba task

Had Messi taken his first-half chance from an exquisite Alba pass, the nutmeg on Trippier would have been replayed over and over again. As it was, the Atletico right-back recovered superbly to win the battle down that flank.

The England international was involved at both ends of the field. He sent in four crosses, two of them finding team-mates, and created one chance, while winning four of his six duels and making one tackle, three clearances and two interceptions.

Barca's sweeper exposed

Ter Stegen is a rival to Manuel Neuer at international level but has long been established as Barca's number one. Neither Germany goalkeeper will reflect fondly on this week, though, as the Blaugrana ace followed up his watching brief in the 6-0 defeat to Spain by enduring a nightmare of his own.

The former Borussia Monchengladbach man, like Neuer, can take risks at times with his sweeping style, and this was one occasion where he paid the price. Carrasco became the eighth player to dribble past Ter Stegen in his LaLiga career as he committed an error leading to a goal for the ninth time.

What's next?

Champions League action resumes in midweek with Atletico at home to Lokomotiv Moscow on Wednesday, the day after Barca visit Dynamo Kiev.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen is desperate for more trophies after committing his future to Barcelona by signing a new contract.

The Catalans announced last month that Ter Stegen, Gerard Pique, Frenkie de Jong and Clement Lenglet had all agreed to extensions.

The Germany goalkeeper's new deal runs until 2025 and contains a release clause of €500million.

Ter Stegen, who returned to action this month after a knee injury, has been one of Barca's few major transfer success stories in recent seasons.

The 28-year-old, who signed from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2014, has won 12 trophies with Barca including four LaLiga titles, four Copas del Rey and the 2014-15 Champions League.

Ter Stegen has felt at home in the city since his arrival and is now keen for more silverware – and to celebrate in front of fans again.

"Barcelona has become a home for my family and I," he said in a video published by the club. "Both on and off the pitch, we are very happy.

"So, it was clear, the direction to take. The ambition from both myself and Barca has always been to reach a renewal agreement, to continue our story, which we started together in 2014.

"It's not just about playing for the biggest club in the world; it's more than that. The city and the fans have treated me like one of their own since the beginning, and this is important to me. A feeling I will never forget.

"I want to be a player at Camp Nou for many more years and keep winning trophies. There is no greater motivation. Hopefully, in the near future, with our fans once again."

Since his LaLiga debut, Ter Stegen has kept 64 clean sheets in 152 games, a tally bettered only by Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak (110 clean sheets in 198 games).

He has maintained a save percentage of 74.4 per cent, which is the fourth-best in Spain's top flight among keepers to make at least 100 saves, and a passing accuracy of 83 per cent – the highest in the division for his position.

Erling Haaland is reportedly being lined up as a target for Real Madrid in 2022, while Manchester United are eyeing Mauricio Pochettino.

Haaland, 20, is widely regarded as one of the best forwards in Europe as he continues to star for Borussia Dortmund.

Madrid have plans for the Norway international.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID EYE HAALAND IN 2022

Real Madrid are convinced Dortmund star Haaland is their man in 2022, according to AS.

Haaland has scored 10 goals in 10 games in all competitions for Dortmund this season.

The former Salzburg talent, Mino Raiola - his agent - and Dortmund reportedly have an agreement that a transfer away from BVB will be facilitated in 2022, though there is not thought to be a specific fee in mind yet.

Haaland has begun 2020-21 in fine form having netted five goals in as many Bundesliga games, picking up where he left off last term as he scored 13 in 15 league matches for Dortmund.

While early in the campaign, Haaland's shot conversion rate – excluding blocks – in the league this season (31.3 per cent) is lower than last term (52), but his big chance conversion is slightly higher (from 62.5 per cent to 66.7).

Seemingly flowing with confidence from last season, Haaland is averaging more shots in 2020-21 as well. Per 90 minutes, the striker is attempting 3.7 attempts from inside the box (including blocks) compared to 2.8 in 2019-20.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer under pressure, Manchester United have approached former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino to potentially become manager, according to the Manchester Evening News. United are 15th in the Premier League ahead of visiting Everton on Saturday.

- In good news for Barcelona, Sport reports goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is completely committed to the Spanish giants amid links to Bayern Munich. Mundo Deportivo, meanwhile, says Barca could sign Manchester City defender Eric Garcia and Lyon star Memphis Depay for free next year, allowing them to potentially negotiate lower fees in January.

- Amid expectations he will leave Bayern Munich, David Alaba has been offered to Real Madrid, according to Marca. The defender is out of contract at season's end.

- Staying with Madrid – full-back Dani Carvajal is close to agreeing to a new contract until 2024, according to Marca.

- While he is contracted at Liverpool until 2023, Fabinho could be set for a renewal. Fabrizio Romano reports the midfielder is in talks to extend his deal through to 2025.

Gerard Pique acknowledged Barcelona have been regressing season on season but is convinced that will slowly change following some big boardroom changes.

The Catalan giants are gearing up for a presidential election after Josep Maria Bartomeu and the entire board stepped down from the position ahead of an expected vote of no confidence.

Barca finished 2019-20 trophyless and have this season made their joint-worst start to a LaLiga campaign since the competition shifted to three points for a win.

However, Pique is looking forward to a brighter future at Camp Nou once a new board of directors is in place.

"The club is as it is right now," he told Movistar following Wednesday's 2-1 Champions League win over Dynamo Kiev. "We are in a process of many changes. 

"I think it was necessary to turn this around. It was obvious that the trend was decreasing and that we were a little worse every year. 

"We have to give this time, but there is no transition year at Barca so we don't have much time. There will be a change with the board and it will be seen little by little. 

"It is not an easy year for us, not only because of what is happening at the club. Life is a continuous change in which you have to adapt."

He added: "I am convinced that we are going to change because the feelings are better. There are new people, young people who are making the game more dynamic. 

"We need some time to gain confidence. We can only work very hard and strong. With work, I believe that the results end up coming. We are confident that we can do great things and there is still a lot of this season left."

Barcelona picked up a third successive Group G win thanks to an early Lionel Messi penalty – his third successul spot-kick of this Champions League campaign – and Pique's header in the second half.

Dynamo were depleted by a coronavirus outbreak in the camp but tested Marc-Andre ter Stegen six times and pulled one back through Viktor Tsygankov.

Barca are three points clear of second-place Juventus and nine better off than Kiev and Ferencvaros, but Pique conceded there is still room for improvement.

"It was a game that we started very well," he said. "In the first 20 minutes we should have scored several goals. 

"Then the game got complicated. After the 30th minute they dominated us a lot. There was restlessness at times and they scored a goal. 

"There are things to improve. There have been moments when the pressure has not been good From then on, in the Champions League, all the teams have a level. 

"We have had to grit our teeth and suffer. We are in a good situation in the Champions League but in the league we have to turn it around."

Ter Stegen was making his first appearance of the season after recovering from injury and insists the points matter more than any individual praise aimed his way.

"I think in the end it was very important to win today," he said. "I really wanted to be on the field again and do what I like the most.

"My saves do not matter - it matters that we won today and that I am back on the field. I am very happy for the team and that we are top."

Barcelona are reportedly considering letting goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen leave to join Bayern Munich.

Ter Stegen, 28, only re-signed with the LaLiga giants last month, but the star shot-stopper's future appears far from certain.

Could he join Manuel Neuer at Bayern?

 

TOP STORY – BARCA CONSIDER SELLING TER STEGEN TO BAYERN

Barcelona are considering selling Ter Stegen to Bayern Munich to help their financial position, according to TodoFichajes.

The report says the European champions consider Ter Stegen a perfect replacement for Neuer, 34, and could make an €80million move at season's end.

Ter Stegen, who is contracted until 2025, and Neuer have been widely considered two of the world's best goalkeepers in recent seasons.

In last season's Champions League, Neuer had a save percentage of 77.1 – which was ranked behind only Andre Onana (80) and Alex Meret (79) of goalkeepers who played at least five games. Ter Stegen (67.5) ranked 16th.

Neuer made 28 saves and Ter Stegen 27, which ranked fifth and sixth respectively.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Bayern and David Alaba looks set for an exit when his contract expires at the end of the season. CalcioMercato reports Juventus and Inter are monitoring the defender, who has reportedly been offered to Real Madrid.

- As expected, Barcelona appear ready to make another move for Manchester City defender Eric Garcia. Sport claims the LaLiga giants are prepared to offer €8m (£7.2m) for Garcia in January.

- Radja Nainggolan could leave Inter in January. The Serie A giants are prepared to sell the midfielder to Cagliari, where he was on loan last season, for around €10m, according to CalcioMercato.

- Fiorentina suffered another Serie A loss, beaten 2-0 by Roma on Sunday, and head coach Giuseppe Iachini remains under pressure. CalcioMercato says former Chelsea and Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri is the number one candidate for the job at Fiorentina, who are 11th in the table.

Josep Maria Bartomeu's ultimately unpopular tenure as Barcelona president has finally come to an end after the club's entire board resigned.

Barca won the treble in his first full season in charge in 2014-15, led by the thrilling front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.

But it seems unlikely Bartomeu's time as the top man at Camp Nou will be remembered for that success.

Barca subsequently suffered humiliation after humiliation in the Champions League, reaching a remarkable crescendo with August's 8-2 quarter-final demolition at the hands of eventual champions Bayern Munich.

However, it was Bartomeu's failings in the transfer market that helped put the Catalan giants in such a position.

While Neymar left and then Lionel Messi pushed for a move of his own, Barca recruited in disappointing if often spectacular fashion.

Not all of Bartomeu's signings were poor, but we look at the 10 permanent deals that defined his reign.

 

Marc-Andre ter Stegen – €12m from Borussia Monchengladbach

That stunning first season of on-field triumphs came after an excellent summer transfer window, although Ter Stegen was restricted to Champions League action initially as fellow new man Claudio Bravo started in LaLiga. Germany international Ter Stegen quickly proved his worth in the 2014-15 European campaign, keeping a joint-high six clean sheets courtesy of 31 saves, while trailing only Manuel Neuer for successful passes (245) and passing accuracy (80 per cent) among goalkeepers.

Ivan Rakitic – €18m from Sevilla

Another to join in the €165m spending spree of 2014, Rakitic only departed this year to return to Sevilla. The midfielder was a consistent performer throughout his time at Camp Nou, yet perhaps his best season was reserved for his first 12 months at Barca. He scored five times in LaLiga and laid on seven assists – the most in his Barca career – from 35 chances created.

Luis Suarez – €81m from Liverpool

The most important and surely best signing of Bartomeu's tenure followed in that same transfer window as Barca prised Suarez from Liverpool after their failed Premier League title bid in which he netted 31 times. That same scoring form continued in LaLiga, where Suarez struck up a great partnership and friendship with Messi. The Uruguay international left for Atletico Madrid prior to the 2020-21 campaign – a key factor in the ongoing Barca crisis – having scored 198 goals for the club, trailing only Messi and Cesar Rodriguez. Suarez scored a sensational 40 LaLiga goals in 2015-16, along with 16 assists and 23 tackles, typifying his work rate. All three were high marks for his Barca career.

Thomas Vermaelen – €18m from Arsenal

Along with Ter Stegen, Rakitic and Suarez, though, came a signing that would prove more in keeping with much of the rest of the work done under Bartomeu. Vermaelen cost a decent fee, was scarcely fit and rarely looked like troubling the starting XI when he was. He made just 26 LaLiga starts in five years at Barca.

Andre Gomes – €35m from Valencia

After making just two signings in 2015-16, Barca were busy in the market again the following campaign. A combination of form and fitness meant few if any of the 2016-17 signings could be considered successes, but Gomes was perhaps the worst. Signed for a fee that could have risen to €55m, he scored three goals and provided one assist in the league across two seasons before leaving for Everton.

Ousmane Dembele – €105m from Borussia Dortmund

Barca's dealings had been questionable even before they sold Neymar, but the money brought in for the Brazilian then appeared to burn a hole in the pocket of Bartomeu, who proceeded to spend it in a series of unsuccessful ways. Dembele seemed a reasonable enough replacement for Neymar but injuries disrupted his progress. He has supplied just 12 goals and 11 assists in the league since signing, although he remains at Camp Nou.

Philippe Coutinho – €120m from Liverpool

Barca tried for Coutinho when Neymar first left and returned for the Liverpool star again in January. Yet the Blaugrana did not appear to have a role made for the playmaker, sticking to a 4-3-3 formation that forced him out wide or deep in the midfield. Another still at Barca, a reasonable enough initial return of eight goals and five assists from 29 chances created in the remainder of his first season did not provide a platform for success. He spent last season on loan at Bayern and scored twice in the humbling of his parent club.

Malcom – €41m from Bordeaux

As Barca went big again in 2018-19, there appeared to be a third attempt at replacing Neymar. Malcom was just 21 and should have been one for the future but did not last long. A single season brought one goal and two assists before he left for Zenit.

Antoine Griezmann – €120m from Atletico Madrid

Project replace Neymar: part four. With attempts to bring the PSG number 10 himself back to Barca failing, a long-awaited move for Griezmann was instead completed. A World Cup winner who led the line for one of Barca's biggest domestic rivals, Griezmann certainly had the pedigree but has so far struggled to work with Messi in attack. The pair are yet to create a single chance for one another in LaLiga this season and have combined on just 23 passes.

Martin Braithwaite – €18m from Leganes

Braithwaite is evidently delighted to be at Barca, but perhaps that is the problem. It is a stunning indictment of Bartomeu's tenure that Ronald Koeman had to turn to the Denmark international in a bid to rescue last week's Clasico defeat. He now wears the number nine shirt that belonged to Suarez.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be ready to extend his contract at Milan after a fine start to the season. 

Ibrahimovic returned to the Serie A club in January, extending his deal in August through until the end of the 2020-21 season. 

However, the veteran striker could be set to remain at the club for longer, per speculation in Italy.

 

TOP STORY – IBRAHIMOVIC COULD RENEW AT MILAN UNTIL 2022

Ibrahimovic's agent Mino Raiola is already studying a plan to extend the striker's deal at Milan until 2022, according to Corriere della Sera.

The 39-year-old has scored four goals in two Serie A games for league leaders Milan this season, including a brace in the derby win over rivals Inter at the weekend.

Ibrahimovic netted 10 goals and provided five assists in 18 league appearances in 2019-20.

ROUND-UP

- Unhappy about being left on the bench against Crotone, Paulo Dybala's future at Juventus is again a subject of interest. However, Tuttosport reports the aim is still for the playmaker – who is contracted until 2022 – to renew his deal before January.

- Barcelona could be set for good news. Goal reports Barcelona are working on new deals for Frenkie de Jong and Clement Lenglet after agreeing to a contract with goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Meanwhile, AS says Gerard Pique is ready to accept a pay cut.

- Phil Jones is yet to play for Manchester United this season and could leave in January. The Sun reports United could demand £20million for the defender, who is contracted until 2023.

- Maurizio Sarri could be set for a return to coaching. CalcioMercato reports the former Juventus and Chelsea boss is a target for Fiorentina amid pressure on Giuseppe Iachini after the club collected just four points from their opening four Serie A games of the season.

- Out of contract at Marseille at season's end, Florian Thauvin could be set for a move. Le 10 Sport says Milan are interested in the forward.

- With Virgil van Dijk out due to a serious knee injury, Liverpool could be looking for a defender in January. Football Insider says Brighton and Hove Albion defender Ben White remains on the Premier League champions' radar.

Antoine Griezmann has hinted at displeasure with his role at Barcelona under Ronald Koeman but the new head coach will not cave in.

During the international break France boss Didier Deschamps questioned Koeman's decision to deploy Griezmann on the right wing of a 4-2-3-1 during Barca's first three LaLiga games of 2020-21.

The 29-year-old has registered just one shot on target for the club this season and is yet to create a single chance for a team-mate.

After playing behind a front two of Anthony Martial and Kylian Mbappe in France's 2-1 win over Croatia on Wednesday, Griezmann told TF1: "The coach knows where to put me."

Koeman told reporters at a news conference to preview Saturday's meeting with Getafe that Griezmann must focus on producing his best display wherever he is used.

"Everyone has the right to say what they want. I spoke to him yesterday, but not because of what he said. We talked about his position and his performance," said Koeman on Friday.

"I seek what's best for the team, and if I think that he's better on the right wing with more freedom, that's it.

"He can also play as a number 10 or a nine, but in the end I decide for the good of the team and every player must give their maximum performance for the team."

Asked how Griezmann can improve, Koeman said: "He is doing all he can, which is to work hard, to be disciplined and have some luck. There were four or five attacks in which he had to do better.

"When I was Netherlands coach and we played France, he played on the right. No further discussion is needed on this topic. The coach is in charge and must get the most out of the players.

"I have no problem with Antoine. I never play anyone in a position they can't play. If there's another position that you like, well, we cannot play with 10 players in the number 10 position."

With a Champions League game against Ferencvaros and the first Clasico of the season against LaLiga champions Real Madrid to come next week, Koeman does not intend to use the Getafe game to rest Lionel Messi.

Messi played 180 minutes – including 90 at an altitude of 3,650 metres in La Paz – as Argentina began their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign with wins over Ecuador and Bolivia.

"It always depends on the player. I ask how they are, if they are tired. This afternoon we have our last training session and we will decide the team for tomorrow," said Koeman.

"He is a player who if he does not play is more tired. He's a winner who always wants to play, but I want to talk with him and the others and see how they are physically.

"He has been playing a very tight schedule for many years. If there is a medical issue or fatigue it is different, but he is capable of playing the next important games that lie ahead."

First-choice goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is yet to feature this season after undergoing surgery on his knee and was reportedly aiming to return in time for El Clasico.

However, Koeman does not expect Ter Stegen to be ready for the meeting with Madrid.

"Since Tuesday, he has been training on the pitches and everything is going well for now," said Koeman.

"I don't think he'll be ready for the Clasico. There is no need to set a date. He is a great goalkeeper but we are calm. We are happy with Neto's work."

The 2020-21 season has only just started but Lionel Messi's future is dominating headlines once again.

Messi wanted to leave Barcelona, but he decided to remain at the embattled LaLiga giants.

Manchester City, who were reportedly tipped to lure Messi to England, are still dreaming of his arrival.

 

TOP STORY – CITY NOT GIVING UP ON MESSI

Manchester City are lining up a move for Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi at the end of the season, reports the Manchester Evening News.

Messi handed in a transfer request prior to the 2020-21 season getting underway and Premier League giants City were favourites to sign the six-time Ballon d'Or winner before he opted to stay.

Pep Guardiola and City, however, remain interested in Messi and will be in a position to land the Barca captain should the opportunity arise next year.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United have identified a list of potential defensive reinforcements that includes RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano and Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, according to The Athletic.

- Fabrizio Romano says goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen's new Barcelona contract until 2025 will be confirmed soon. The 28-year-old's current deal is due to expire in 2022.

- Le10sport claims Paris Saint-Germain are considering a loan move for Inter midfielder Christian Eriksen, who has struggled to establish himself since joining from Tottenham in January.

West Ham are prepared to double Declan Rice's wages to fend off interest from London rivals Chelsea, reports The Sun.

- Tuttosport says Serie A champions Juventus are hoping to rival Madrid for Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga next year. Madrid have identified teenage midfielder Camavinga as a prime target, but Juve feel that by loaning Daniele Rugani to Rennes, it will help build a relationship with the Ligue 1 side.

- Calciomercato reports Lazio and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are facing a decisive season. The Serbia international has been previously linked to the likes of PSG, United, Inter, Juve and Madrid.

Borussia Monchengladbach can sustain their place in the Bundesliga's top four this season as they prepare to return to the Champions League, according to former forward Rob Friend.

Gladbach will play in the Champions League for the first time in four years after a final-day win over Hertha Berlin sealed a top-four finish in 2019-20, behind champions Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig.

Having missed out on fourth spot to Bayer Leverkusen on the final matchday in 2018-19, Gladbach bounced back thanks to the arrival of head coach Marco Rose and shrewd signings, including Marcus Thuram, Breel Embolo, Stefan Lainer and Ramy Bensebaini.

Gladbach have added Hannes Wolf and Valentino Lazaro (both loanees) to a squad boasting captain Lars Stindl, star Denis Zakaria, Christoph Kramer, Alassane Plea, Matthias Ginter, Nico Elvedi and Yann Sommer.

As Gladbach embark on just their third Champions League campaign, not before opening their Bundesliga season at Dortmund on Saturday, Friend is not surprised by the club's success.

"It's a huge achievement for the model of club that they are," Friend, who spent three seasons at Gladbach and helped the club earn promotion to the Bundesliga in 2007-08 before leaving in 2010, told Stats Perform News. 

"They've obviously, over the last five-10 years, punched above their weight in my opinion. They've done a phenomenal recruiting job. They really have a nice template of what the club is, the identity. Really strategic recruiting with the right players and maximising them. Selling them at their peak. They have a nice model. 

"All credit, obviously it's an entire organisation but the sporting director [Max Eberl], he was there when I was there, has done an outstanding job with everything - scouting, recruiting. Once you get to that level of knowing what club you are, the identity and template to follow, I'm not saying it's easy but you've seen success is slowly built and the base foundation is getting better and stronger. 

"It's no surprise in terms of how stable they are. Once in a while reaching the Champions League. When I say once in a while, the top five or six clubs in the Bundesliga, it's very competitive. We all know the top two and after that, you have the big spenders like Leverkusen who can spend, you never know with Schalke. But based on the years and the base Gladbach have built, it's no surprise they've now reached the Champions League. The question is can they sustain the top four in the league and I believe they can because they have the right base."

Rose has played an instrumental role in Gladbach's success after being lured to Borussia-Park by Eberl last year.

After winning back-to-back league titles and the Austrian Cup with Salzburg, Rose replaced Dieter Hecking and he oversaw Gladbach's best start to a Bundesliga season since 1976-77, having topped the table through 14 matchdays following a memorable victory against Bayern.

While Gladbach were unable to maintain their place atop the table in pursuit of a first Bundesliga crown since 1977, they returned to Europe's premier club competition as Friend hailed the 44-year-old coach.

"He's in the new group of modern young coaches," ex-Canada international Friend said. "With him, he's had the opportunity to learn and not get thrown into a big club as an inexperienced coach. He's allowed himself the right steps to learn. Rolling into the Bundesliga with a club who are very stable. He has the ability but he has provided himself the ladder and learning opportunities. Smart enough to know Gladbach are a very stable club. 

"For example, the Hamburgs, Stuttgarts and Schalkes, they've very unstable. You look at the rotation of coaches. For a young coach to walk into one of those environments is risky. Any coach walking into a club like Gladbach with the stability they have, definitely sets you up for success. It's the path to get there where he has honed his skills."

All eyes will again be on Gladbach midfielder Zakaria, who has established himself as one of the Bundesliga's finest talents.

Zakaria's exploits since joining Gladbach in 2017 have reportedly attracted interest from Premier League champions Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Bayern, Dortmund and Inter.

Friend believes the 23-year-old Switzerland international - who is contracted to Gladbach until 2022 - could command a similar fee that saw Kai Havertz swap Leverkusen for Chelsea in an initial £72million (€80m) deal.

"He's obviously the big name they throw around in terms of who is going to make the next move," Friend said. "Overall the Bundesliga, let's probably remove the top two in Bayern and Dortmund. You look at what Kai Havertz did at Leverkusen. Close to €100m move. That just shows you don't have to be a top club to achieve those transfer fees. 

"I think if you're Gladbach you're looking at a player like that. He has a pretty hefty price tag on him. As these players move on, whether it's Havertz, Werner etc it will be important that they have the success with the price tags they have on them. When I was playing, maybe you had a guy moving for five-10m outside the top two clubs and it was very important they had success in those leagues to substantiate the price tags that league is demanding. 

"He certainly comes with a price tag that would eliminate most clubs. I know Gladbach won't stop him from moving but it will come with a major transfer fee and certainly there would be clubs watching who would be willing to pay. The rest is a bit of luck. Make sure he has a strong season and stays healthy."

Friend played with two highly rated prospects during his time at Gladbach - German duo Marco Reus and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Attacking star Reus spent three years at Gladbach before returning to boyhood club Dortmund in 2012, having been released six years earlier, while goalkeeper Ter Stegen emerged from Gladbach's youth system in 2010 and was eventually snapped up by LaLiga giants Barcelona in 2014.

Friend added: "By day one in training, you saw he [Reus] was something special. What stood out was his character. At the time, he maybe seemed like a hotshot with his character but he absolutely knew he had it from day one. An 18-year-old with that kind of confidence is almost a differentiator. He had the talent but the confidence, he didn't really give a s***. He knew what he wanted. There was no doubt he had the talent but it certainly takes more than that.

"With Ter Stegen, I would say even more so. He was 17 or so when I was there. Third or fourth keeper when he first started coming into practice. We would joke in the changing room and call him Oliver Kahn as a joke because he presented himself very confidently, his chest was out, his head was high as an 18-year-old kid coming into practice. I was blown away with the confidence he had, especially as a goalkeeper. He had so much confidence and work ethic. He was always the first one there and last to leave training."

Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is likely to be out until November following an operation on his knee, the club have confirmed. 

The Germany international underwent successful surgery on his right patella tendon on Tuesday. 

Barca confirmed in a statement that the procedure had been a success and Ter Stegen is now facing a recovery period of two and a half months. 

Ter Stegen played 46 times in all competitions in 2019-20, keeping 15 clean sheets.

Barca signed Brazilian keeper Neto as a back-up to Ter Stegen last year, but the 31-year-old has played only two LaLiga matches for the Catalans.

The news is a further blow during a difficult time for Barca, who are expected to announce Ronald Koeman as their new head coach. 

Koeman will replace Quique Setien, who was sacked in the wake of the humiliating 8-2 Champions League quarter-final defeat to Bayern Munich. 

Ter Stegen's absence will further unsettle a squad already short on morale after a season in which they failed to win a trophy, with captain Lionel Messi said to be considering his future and defender Gerard Pique having called for wholesale changes at the club. 

President Josep Maria Bartomeu has brought forward elections to March next year but does not appear likely to resign, in spite of increasing dissent following years of steady decline on the pitch at Camp Nou.

Philippe Coutinho's move to Arsenal is seemingly getting close.

The Brazil international has been on loan at Bayern Munich from Barcelona in 2019-20, but is expected to leave Camp Nou permanently.

A return to the Premier League has been mooted.

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL DEAL FOR COUTINHO IS 'ADVANCED'

A deal sending Coutinho to Arsenal from Barcelona is "more advanced", according to Sport.

The former Liverpool star would head back to England less than three years after leaving Anfield.

Coutinho has scored nine goals in 34 games for Bayern in 2019-20.

 

ROUND-UP

- There could be good news coming for Barcelona. Mundo Deportivo reports Marc-Andre ter Stegen has agreed to extend his deal at the club for five years, but there is still no financial agreement between the parties.

- Jerome Boateng's Bayern Munich future seems uncertain. Sport Bild reports the Bundesliga champions want to sell the defender, who would like to extend his contract beyond 2021.

- Takefusa Kubo looks set for another loan spell away from Real Madrid. AS reports Kubo will join Villarreal on loan for 2020-21, having spent this season at Mallorca.

- Are Liverpool looking for a back-up for Andy Robertson? The Athletic reports the Premier League champions value left-back Jamal Lewis at £10million, but Norwich City will not even enter talks for less than £20m.

- Contracted at Manchester United until 2022, Tahith Chong could be heading elsewhere to gain experience. Sport Bild says Werder Bremen are in talks with United over a loan deal for the attacker.

- After losing the Championship play-off final, Brentford may also see a star depart. The Guardian reports Crystal Palace are battling with Aston Villa to sign Ollie Watkins, who scored 26 goals in 49 Championship games in 2019-20.

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