Barcelona target Sergio Aguero still has much to offer at the highest level, according to former Manchester City winger Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Aguero and City announced this week that the 32-year-old will be leaving at the end of the season after 10 glorious years.

The striker is out of contract at the end of a 2020-21 campaign City hope can end with a famous quadruple.

Barcelona have long been linked with a move to Aguero and are seen as favourites for his signature.

A switch to play in MLS has also been mooted but Wright-Phillips thinks it would be too soon for the Argentina star to make that step.

"For me, it would definitely be a bigger club [than one in MLS] - I don't think he'll go to the States just yet," Wright-Phillips told Stats Perform News when asked about Aguero's future.

"One hundred per cent, if he stays fit he's got a lot more to give. He still looks powerful, he still looks hungry.

"The games that I've watched that he's come on, he's made some excellent runs, and they didn't really get him the ball in those positions. 

"He's still got a lot to give, and I think he enjoys it. I don't see him sailing off to America just yet.

"I think [his future] kind of depends on how this season goes. 

"He's still in with a chance to win a Champions League medal, which if anyone deserves it, especially as a City player, it should be him. 

"That would just finish his career perfectly as a City player to win everything."

Injuries have restricted Aguero to only five starts across all competitions this season, but he is hoping to play a key part in the run-in before departing.

City have been linked with the likes of Erling Haaland and Harry Kane to replace Aguero, with Gabriel Jesus being the other main striker still at the club.

Wright-Phillips added: "To be honest, I was surprised [about the announcement].

"But when you get to a player like that, and he's getting old in football terms, he has not played probably as much as he wanted because of injuries or another reason that could have happened. 

"In his head he's probably just thinking he wants to play football. In a way I could kind of see it happening, but I'm devastated about it at the same time.

"If you look at his stats in general. He's scored I think 181 goals in the Premier League for City. He's got 257 goals for City in total. So he's a record breaker and you're always going to miss somebody like that. 

"As a fan it's devastating, you want to keep those players until they retire, and be selfish and not let anybody have them. But it's football isn't it, and sadly it always comes to an end."

Wright-Phillips was asked where Aguero ranked among all-time Premier League strikers, a debate that has attracted a host of opinions since the announcement.

The former England international added: "If you go on the stats, I would possibly put him in the top five and that's hard. 

"There have been so many amazing and world-class players with elite talent who are in the record books we're talking about. 

"The goals that he's scored, the one that stands out, the one that people always talk about in the game against QPR. It had to be him that scored it. 

"He was most probably the only person that would have scored that goal. Everything just worked out perfectly. 

"There where seasons when he didn't play all that much, he was injured, but he was still in the race for the golden boot and that says a lot for a striker. 

"He very rarely had purple patches or going so many games without scoring, until like this season when he's played hardly anything."

Real Madrid must do what is required to keep Sergio Ramos at the club, according to Jose Antonio Camacho.

Former Madrid player and coach Camacho believes keeping the 35-year-old with the Spanish champions should be a top priority.

Ramos is out of contract at the end of the season, having signed 16 years ago from Sevilla.

He has been linked with Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain, as well as a switch to MLS.

"Sergio Ramos is one of those players who was born to win everything," Camacho told Radio MARCA.

"I would like him to keep wearing the Real Madrid shirt.

"I would make an effort for him. All Real Madrid fans would like him to stay."

RAMOS STILL KEY TO MADRID

Ramos has only recently returned to action after two months out with a knee injury.

In LaLiga this season, the club have a better win percentage (66.7) with him than without him (61.5).

They have won 10 and lost just two of the 15 top-flight games he has played. In the 13 he has missed, Madrid have won only eight with three draws and two defeats.

There is not a huge difference in the average goals against with Ramos (0.9) and without (0.8).

Ramos' presence has made a more notable difference in the Champions League.

Madrid have won three and drawn one of the four games he has started. The other four matches have seen them lose twice.

A SLIGHT DECLINE?

There has, though, been a drop-off from Ramos in some defensive categories this season.

He is winning and making far fewer tackles per 90 minutes, albeit at a decent success rate.He is attempting 0.9 tackles per 90 minutes in all competitions, the first time he has dipped below 1 per game in his career, though he is winning 0.69 P90.

It is similar for blocks (0.32 P90), as he is at a career-low for that statistic, while 1.43 interceptions per game is his lowest total over the course of a season since 2008.

Raphael Varane, Nacho and Eder Militao are the club's other main centre-back options.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been linked with a sensational return to Real Madrid and Zinedine Zidane faced questions over the Juventus star's future on Friday.

It was reported this week that Ronaldo's agent, Jorge Mendes, had contacted Madrid over a potential switch back to the LaLiga champions.

Portugal captain Ronaldo is Madrid's all-time leading goalscorer after finding the back of the net a staggering 451 times in 438 matches before joining Juve on a four-year deal in July 2018.

Madrid boss Zidane could not escape the speculation at his latest media conference as talk over the possibility of the 36-year-old rejoining Los Blancos continues to rumble on.

"We all know what he means for the club, what he did for the club," he said.

"I coached Ronaldo, he's part of the club's history, his contribution was magnificent but right now he's a Juventus footballer and he's doing very well for the club and there's not much more I can add to all the things that have been said.

"He's a Juve footballer and I have to respect the club and the player."

Madrid host struggling Elche on Saturday knowing they have no margin for error in the title race, as they trail Atletico Madrid by eight points.

Zidane says relegation-threatened Elche must not be taken lightly.

"We know in the Spanish league there are no easy games really," said the former France playmaker. "You look at the league table and it doesn't tell the whole story.

"It's a club that are down near the bottom, but they are a very good side and have put in some very good performances this season in the league.

"Now with the new manager [Fran Escriba] things have changed. We expect a tough game and we know we've got to put in a great performance if we want to take all three points and that's our aim."

Atletico Madrid recovered from a goal behind to beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday and move six points clear at the top of LaLiga.

Diego Simeone's men had won just one of their last four league matches, most recently drawing 1-1 with Real Madrid, but made their game in hand count to put some distance between themselves and Barcelona.

Marcos Llorente equalised for Atletico late in the first half after Iker Munian had opened the scoring and Luis Suarez converted a penalty he won early in the second period to put the hosts in front.

Atleti were far from their best but saw things through from that point to pick up a landmark 309th victory under Simeone in all competitions, seeing him surpass Luis Aragones with the most wins for the club.

Athletic have not picked up a point away to Atletico since May 2015 but they went ahead through their first attempt on target of the contest after 21 minutes.

Inaki Williams got in behind the home side's defence and pulled the ball back for Munian to miscue a shot past Jan Oblak from 12 yards.

Atletico gathered momentum towards the end of the first half and levelled in added time thanks to Llorente's header, which took a touch off Unai Nunez on its way through.

The turnaround was complete six minutes after the restart as Suarez sent Unai Simon the wrong way from the penalty spot after being tripped by Nunez.

Yannick Carrasco was unable to convert when set up by Suarez, who was taken off with 18 minutes to play in a defensive move from Simeone, but Nunez's header into the hands of Oblak was the closest the visitors came to an equaliser.
 

What does it mean? Atleti back on track on milestone occasion

Barca and Real Madrid had closed the gap on stuttering Atletico in recent weeks, but the pacesetters are now six points clear of Barca and a further two in front of Los Blancos. 

Simeone celebrated both goals wildly and the long-serving Atleti coach has more reasons than one to celebrate this victory, which leaves Atletico well on course for a first title since 2013-14.

He matched Aragones' win record with three points against Villarreal 10 days ago and has now surpassed the legendary manager with this latest triumph.

Llorente inspires Atletico

Suarez scored what proved to be the winner but Llorente deserves all the credit for dragging Atleti back on level terms - perhaps undeservedly - right at the end of the first half.

He has now been directly involved in 17 league goals this term, which is behind only Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes (26) among midfielders in Europe's top five leagues.

Oblak beaten again

There was a point earlier this season when Atletico's defence looked impenetrable, but they have now conceded in 10 of their last 11 matches in all competitions.

Oblak was unable to keep out Munian's first-half strike, meaning he has now conceded in his last five home league games - the goalkeeper's worst run in seven years at the club.

What's next?

Atletico make the short trip to Getafe on Saturday, while Athletic are away to Celta Vigo the following day.

Thibaut Courtois does not believe he is given enough recognition for his performances at Real Madrid in comparison to his time at Atletico Madrid.

After a difficult start to his Madrid career upon joining from Chelsea in 2018, Courtois has been one of Los Blancos' most consistent performers over the past two seasons.

He has kept 11 clean sheets in LaLiga this term – only Atletico's Jan Oblak has more with 12 – while no keeper has more shutouts (29) in the competition since the start of 2019-20, level with Oblak.

Courtois has been regularly praised by boss Zinedine Zidane for his game-saving heroics, but the 28-year-old does not believe his achievements are fully appreciated by everyone, particularly in his homeland.

The Belgium international, who spent three seasons with Atletico before joining Chelsea and then Madrid, told HLN: "I had three fantastic years at Atletico. I received praise from all over Belgium. I became Sportsman of the Year and I thought it was good.

"Today I have the feeling that everything I do has become normal. My performance in that game against Real Valladolid, I think, seemed like it didn't exist.

"It seems that continuing to play at a high level at the biggest club in the world is no longer worth the effort."

Courtois initially struggled to hold down a place in Madrid's starting line-up amid repeated criticism in his debut campaign at the Santiago Bernabeu.

But he helped Los Blancos to the LaLiga title last season and produced a number of fine saves in his side's penalty shoot-out win against Atletico in the Supercopa de Espana final.

However, Courtois was pipped to HNL's prestigious 'Best Belgian Player Abroad' award in 2019-20 by Inter striker Romelu Lukaku – a decision he admits was difficult to accept.

"When you see where I've come from at Real Madrid... I survived a tsunami there," said Courtois, who is expected to start for Madrid against former side Atleti on Sunday.

"In 2020 I won the Supercopa with a decisive save in the shoot-out. And then I read from analysts: 'Courtois deserves the Belgian of the Year trophy less than Lukaku, because he was always with the national team while Courtois withdrew a few times'.

"I can understand that Lukaku was given the award for Best Belgian Abroad, but I also deserved it. I was also not nominated for Athlete of the Year. 

"It's ridiculous. In fact, I feel more appreciation in Spain, and also outside of Spain, than in Belgium."

Jadon Sancho can be compared to Robert Lewandowski and Lionel Messi with his performances for Borussia Dortmund, according to former Germany international goalkeeper Jens Lehmann.

After a slow start to the campaign amid talk of a move to Manchester United falling through, Sancho's form has picked up of late and he is on course to hit double figures for goals and assists for the third Bundesliga season running.

The England international last week registered his 50th assist in the German top flight, becoming the youngest ever player to do so in what was his 99th appearance in the competition.

Sancho has now been directly involved in 12 Bundesliga goals in 2021 - six goals and six assists - which is behind only Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski (11 goals and two assists).

In Europe's top five leagues, Barcelona forward Messi (15) is the only other player to have been directly involved in more goals this calendar year than Sancho, who is level with Atalanta's Luis Muriel.

Lehmann has been impressed by the 20-year-old's form and has backed the youngster, as well as compatriot and BVB team-mate Jude Bellingham, to remain in the Bundesliga, despite ongoing talk of a possible move to the Premier League.

"He's done very well," Lehmann told the Daily Star. "Right now his stats can be compared to Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski, and I think the third best in the whole of Europe. It's fantastic for English football."

Asked about the future of Sancho and Bellingham, Lehmann said: "Right now, I think they're staying. Most of the big clubs have full squads anyway.

"You'd have to be really, really outstanding if a bigger club tries to get you. But if you can imagine a club like Chelsea, Manchester United or Manchester City, there is already 30 or 35 players plus the players on loan.

"It's not that easy to make a decision for guys like Bellingham and Sancho at this early stage in their careers. Would they add something? We're not sure, but first of all they need to decrease their own squad size."

Sancho, who scored the winning goal for Dortmund in their DFB-Pokal win at Borussia Monchengladbach on Tuesday, is a major doubt for this weekend's Der Klassiker showdown with Bayern due to a leg injury.

Karim Benzema has revealed how Cristiano Ronaldo's departure has allowed him to take on a different role in Real Madrid's attack.

The Frenchman has scored a goal every 1.7 games across all competitions in the two-and-a-half seasons since Ronaldo made a €100million switch to Juventus.

But in their nine campaigns together at the Santiago Bernabeu, Benzema was instead finding the back of the net once every 2.2 games.

And the 33-year-old has now acknowledged that he had to sacrifice certain parts of his game for Ronaldo's benefit - not that he has any regrets over the matter.

"Cristiano's departure allowed me to play a different role. He scored 50 goals every year and you had to adapt to his game," he told El Pais.

"He is one of the best in the world and I was happy by his side."

Nine of the 18 trophies Benzema has won in his 12 years in Madrid have come during the two separate managerial stints of Zinedine Zidane.

Of his compatriot, he added: "He is an older brother for me, he is always there to advise me."

In a wide-ranging interview, Benzema also opened up on his boyhood sporting heroes, explaining: "In football, it's Ronaldo, the Brazilian. 

"I admire [Mike] Tyson because we both came from the bottom and we went up little by little. We never had it easy, nor did they give us anything."

He also discussed his upbringing, adding: "I come from a neighbourhood where things were difficult. When I saw older boys well-dressed and with nice cars, what I wanted was to be like them.

"Money makes things a lot easier, but you don't need millions to be happy."

Ansu Fati has been advised to stay humble by Barcelona great Lionel Messi, who the teenager would love to see alongside Cristiano Ronaldo in a five-a-side dream team.

Spain international Fati has made a huge impact at Camp Nou since bursting onto the scene in August 2019, setting a number of records along the way before being struck down by a knee injury that has ruled him out since November.

Fati is Barca's youngest ever goalscorer, the youngest player to score and provide an assist in a single LaLiga game, the youngest Camp Nou goalscorer and the youngest player to score in a Champions League game.

Many have compared the 18-year-old's rise to stardom as being similar to that of Messi, who has gone on to win a record six Ballons d'Or across his 17 seasons in Barca's first team.

And La Masia product Fati, who has been nominated for the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year award, has been given guidance by Messi over the past 18 months.

"What advice has he given me? I try to transmit the same humility as he does. Despite all he has done, he is a very simple man, and the advice he gives is always about keeping your feet on the ground," Fati said, talking to Barcelona's official website.

"It is a dream to play with the best player in the world and learn from him in training."

Fati did not name Messi as his role model - that honour instead went to brother Braima - but he did pick the Argentina international in his fantasy side, along with a group of former Barca stars and ex-Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

Asked to select five players, Fati said: "That would be Víctor Valdes, [Carles] Puyol, Xavi or Iniesta, Messi and Cristiano."

Fati is not expected to return for Barcelona until the start of next season, at which point he may be joined by fellow academy product Eric Garcia, who looks set to return to the club from Manchester City.

Garcia spent close to a decade in the Catalan giants' academy set-up and Fati has named the 20-year-old centre-back as his best team-mate.

"We have grown up together from a young age," Fati said. "We've played together and he helped me get better.

"He was very hard to dribble past, and we've been 'at war' since we were kids. We've also played together for Spain - we were always dreaming of this as kids."

Ronald Koeman insists he was not sending a message to Antoine Griezmann by leaving the misfiring forward on the bench for Barcelona's 2-0 victory over Sevilla.

Griezmann has gone six games without a goal in all competitions and was named among the Barca substitutes for the second match running on Saturday.

Unlike in the 3-0 win over Elche in midweek, the France international was not brought on as Koeman instead turned to Martin Braithwaite with the game poised at 1-0.

Explaining his decision to bring on Braithwaite instead of Griezmann for the final eight minutes, Koeman said: "It's not a message, no. 

"We decided to change the system and, to be able to get in behind, we put Dembele up top. 

"With the first goal, we said that we needed someone quicker than Griezmann on [Lionel] Messi's side. It's not a punishment."

Dembele opened the scoring just short of the half-hour mark at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan and Messi sealed the victory with his 30th goal against Sevilla in LaLiga - his best return against any opponent.

Barca's win was their ninth in 10 LaLiga outings and leaves them two points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid, who have a couple of games in hand.

The Catalan giants face Sevilla again on Wednesday at Camp Nou, where they will be looking to overturn a 2-0 deficit in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final tie.

And after overcoming the Europa League winners in the league, Koeman is hopeful of a repeat scoreline when the teams reconvene in Catalonia.

"Of course we believe," he said. "That's our mentality, but Wednesday's game will be different because they will analyse the mistakes they made. 

"But yes, of course, we have a chance. I don't want to give more importance to the Copa game. We have to win and we have to fight. We will try to stay in all competitions until the end."

The victory may have come at a cost for Barcelona, however, as Gerard Pique and replacement Ronald Araujo - only just back from an ankle injury - both sustained knocks.

Pedri also left the field in the final 20 minutes after injuring his leg and will be assessed on Sunday, with all three players now doubtful for the cup tie against Sevilla.

"We have to wait and see about the injuries, we still don't know," Koeman said. 

"But despite the changes we had to make we kept the same rhythm because we have a deep squad that doesn't get annoyed [when not playing]."

Diego Simeone made no excuses after Atletico Madrid slumped to a 2-0 defeat to Levante and urged his side to respond to a first home loss since December 2019.

Atleti could have gone nine points clear at the top of LaLiga with a victory, but their 22-match unbeaten top-flight run at the Wanda Metropolitano was brought to a halt on Saturday.

A deflected first-half strike from Jose Luis Morales put Levante in front and Jorge de Frutos sealed a shock win right at the end when he found an empty net from long range with Jan Oblak up for a corner.

Real Madrid can cut their city rivals' advantage to only three points, albeit having played a game more, in the title race if they beat Real Valladolid later in the day.

Atleti had been held to a 1-1 draw at Levante three days earlier and endured more frustration at the hands of the same opponents, with Luis Suarez hitting the post with a stunning free-kick and Lucas Torreira having a goal ruled out.

Simeone says there is no need to reach for the panic button after watching his side lose in LaLiga for only the second time this season.

The Atleti boss said: "I'm not looking for excuses. Coaches have to find solutions. In the second half we did it and we have to be the ones who help the players who are out there.

"Championships are always the same, everyone has moments of difficulties. Those who are strong in the bad moments are the one who achieve their goals."

The former Argentina midfielder added: "When you look for a goal it is important to get there, it is wonderful.

"There are obstacles. It is logical to find obstacles and then when you achieve the goal you enjoy it much more."

There were positives for Simeone, as Moussa Dembele made his debut off the bench and Thomas Lemar returned after recovering from coronavirus.

However, Jose Gimenez was withdrawn with a muscular injury three days before Atleti face Chelsea in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Jose Luis Morales and Jorge de Frutos were on target as Levante consigned LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid to a first home defeat since December 2019 in a shock 2-0 win on Saturday.

Atleti were held to a 1-1 draw at Levante in midweek and their title hopes suffered a big setback against the same opponents three days later.

Morales' 12th goal of the season in the first half and Frutos' effort on the counter-attack at the death ended the leaders' run of 22 LaLiga games without defeat at the Wanda Metropolitano, giving second-placed Real Madrid the chance to reduce their advantage to only three points by beating Real Valladolid later on Saturday.

Luis Suarez struck the post with a stunning free-kick and Lucas Torreira had a goal ruled out as Diego Simeone's side raised their game in the second half, but suffered only a second loss of the season in the top flight.

Morales wasted a glorious chance to give Levante an early lead when he put a left-footed finish just wide of the far post after racing clear.

Suarez stung the palms of Levante goalkeeper Daniel Cardenas, but Atleti were punished for some slack defending when they fell behind on the half-hour mark.

Geoffrey Kondogbia was too casual when attempting to get hold of a loose ball in the penalty area and Morales capitalised, finding the back of the net with a right-footed strike that deflected off Mario Hermoso to give Jan Oblak no chance.

Ruben Rochina could have laid on a second for Morales, but his poor pass let a vulnerable looking Atleti defence off the hook before the break.

Thomas Lemar made his return early in the second half after recovering from coronavirus, replacing the injured Jose Gimenez, before Suarez rattled the post with a magnificent long-range free-kick.

Atleti were throwing everything at Levante and Cardenas denied Joao Felix from close range before Torreira had a goal ruled out due to a push from Suarez.

Joao Felix's rasping drive was straight at Cardenas as Simeone's men continued to knock at the door.

Lemar’s left-footed volley was superbly saved by Cardenas and Suarez blazed high and wide before de Frutos rubbed salt in Atleti’s wounds right at the end, surging down the right wing and finding an empty net from a long way out with Oblak up in search of an equaliser.

Lyon have confirmed that Moussa Dembele has joined Atletico Madrid on loan with a view to a permanent move and the Ligue 1 leaders have signed Islam Slimani from Leicester City on a free transfer. 

The former France Under-21 international has joined the LaLiga leaders for a fee of €1.5million until the end of the season, when Atletico will have the option to buy him outright for an initial €33.5m.

Atletico are said to have concentrated all efforts on Dembele after having a bid rejected for Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik, with Diego Costa's mutual contract termination at the end of December leaving space for another striker.

Dembele has long been linked with some of Europe's biggest clubs and will supplement Atletico's already formidable attacking options that include Luis Suarez and Joao Felix.

Algeria striker Slimani arrived at Lyon on Wednesday on an 18-month contract to bolster their forward line as they battle for the Ligue 1 title.

Dembele came through the ranks at Fulham after leaving Paris Saint-Germain as a teenager, and his form there secured him a move to Celtic.

He scored 26 league goals across two seasons in Scotland and won six trophies, before leaving for Lyon in a reported €22m deal in 2018.

He hit double figures for goals in each of his first two Ligue 1 campaigns, while his 24 in 46 across all competitions in 2019-20 made him comfortably their leading goalscorer with nine more than Memphis Depay, though the Dutchman missed a chunk of the season through injury.

However, 2020-21 has been a tough one for Dembele, who scored just once in 16 league games for Lyon, with Depay, Karl Toko Ekambi and Tino Kadewere proving more dependable for Rudi Garcia.

While Dembele's shooting accuracy has only seen a slight dip this term from 52 per cent to 47.6, his conversion rate has slumped dramatically.

In the 2019-20 Ligue 1 season, the striker converted 32 per cent of his shots attempted (excluding blocks), a figure only Mauro Icardi (37.5), Wissam Ben Yedder (35.3) and Kasper Dolberg (34.4) could better among players to record at least 30 shots.

 

He has already missed more Opta-defined 'big chances' (eight) than he did across the entirety the previous top-flight campaign (five) as well, averaging just over one per 90 minutes – his worst across a season for Lyon was 0.7 each game in 2018-19.

Real Madrid prospect Takefusa Kubo has joined Getafe on loan until the end of the season after ending a similar deal with Villarreal.

The 19-year-old was expected to spend the entire 2020-21 campaign with the Yellow Submarine after signing a season-long deal in August.

However, he had made just two La Liga starts by the turn of the year - a fact that, according to Villarreal coach Unai Emery, contributed to the Japan international instigating an early end to the clubs' temporary agreement.

The Spanish champions have now looked to ensure Kubo gets adequate playing time between now and the season's end by agreeing a new loan deal with neighbours Getafe.

Jose Bordalas' side sit in a perilous position in the Spanish top-flight, with just one point separating them from the relegation zone.

It will be hoped that Kubo, who enjoyed a more productive loan spell at Real Mallorca last term, can prove the catalyst for a move up the table.

His fine form in 2019-20 was ultimately insufficient in this regard as Mallorca suffered relegation despite Kubo chipping in with four goals and four assists.

He impressed with his brave and direct play on the ball, which was reflected by the fact he attempted 140 dribbles in LaLiga, a number bettered by only four players including Lionel Messi.

Kubo has at least tried to bring a similar quality to Villarreal, with his 5.6 attempted dribbles per 90 minutes the 14th highest figure among all players to have featured at least seven times this term.

But his efforts did not translate into regular starts for Unai Emery's men.

Rudi Garcia says it is vital Lyon replace Moussa Dembele if the striker joins Atletico Madrid.

LaLiga leaders Atleti are reportedly closing in on signing Dembele on loan for the rest of the season following Diego Costa's departure.

The former Celtic frontman scored 24 goals last season but has found the back of the net just once in the current Ligue 1 campaign and is currently sidelined after suffering a broken arm last month.

Lyon head coach Garcia does not want the 24-year-old to leave the Ligue 1 club, but expects to be given the green light to go into the transfer market if he does move to the Spanish capital.

Garcia said: "He is an important player. We prefer to keep him, but we would need to replace players who leave, Moussa included if that is the case. It is logical."

Although Dembele was expected to be out until February, Garcia says he may be cleared to return earlier.

"Usually the type of injury he had means he could not play for six weeks. I think it was on the 22nd of December before we played Nantes [when he suffered the injury], so there is still time," he said.

"It is always all about what the doctor says and also the surgeon who performed surgery on him. Let's see if it could be less. We will see how Moussa reacts."

Barcelona midfielder Carles Alena has joined Getafe on loan for the remainder of the campaign.

The Barca academy product spent the second half of 2019-20 on loan with Real Betis and has struggled to establish himself under Ronald Koeman since returning ahead of this season.

Alena has made five appearances in LaLiga and the Champions League this term, just one of those coming from the start.

Koeman confirmed on Tuesday that Alena was close to departing Camp Nou on a temporary basis after Getafe president Angel Torres had revealed his side's interest.

Barca announced on their official website on Wednesday that the deal had gone through, with Getafe to pick up the player's wages in full until he returns to Catalonia.

Alena has played 43 times for Barcelona in total since making his first-team debut in the 2016-17 campaign.

Including his spell on loan with Betis last season, the 23-year-old has three goals and zero assists across 43 LaLiga outings, the first of those coming against Granada on April 2, 2017.

He may only have created one big chance for team-mates in that time, but the Spain Under-21s international ranks highly in terms of passes in the opposition half, averaging 47.45 per 90 minutes.

That places him behind only eight players who have featured at least 16 times across that period.

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