Barcelona lost at home for the second time in five days as Lucas Perez struck to seal a surprise 1-0 victory for LaLiga strugglers Cadiz.

Perez missed the best chance of a dull first half when blazing wide from 12 yards out, but the former Arsenal forward atoned to prod home the game's only goal after 47 minutes.

Jeremias Ledesma pulled off a string of fine saves to stem Barca's comeback attempts, as Xavi saw his side's 15-match unbeaten run in the league come to a shuddering halt.

Having crashed out of the Europa League to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday, Barca's slim LaLiga title hopes are surely now over, and they sit only three points above fifth-placed Real Betis.

Despite a boycott from some fans creating a flat atmosphere at Camp Nou, Barca made a bright start – Ousmane Dembele and Ferran Torres forcing Ledesma into a double save.

Cadiz soon settled, and missed the first glaring opportunity of the match after 27 minutes, Perez inexplicably side-footing wide with the goal gaping.

Dembele shot tamely at Ledesma at the other end and Perez made Barca pay after the restart, making no mistake as he nudged in from close range after Marc-Andre ter Stegen had made a fine save.

Ledesma again thwarted Dembele 20 minutes later, though Barca were fortunate that Alex Fernandez and Ruben Sobrino missed great chances.

Ledesma denied Luuk de Jong and turned away Eric Garcia's strike before making his best save of the match, reacting brilliantly to parry Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's volley as Barca fell to a demoralising defeat.

The joined actions of some of the most powerful figures in modern football unwittingly created an ever mightier alliance on April 18, 2021.

The announcement of a new European Super League united Manchester, with fans and players of United and City joining those invested in the fortunes of Liverpool and the three London giants of Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham in opposition.

Although the reaction in Italy and Spain may not have been quite as damning, the protests that followed over the course of an extraordinary few days were enough to derail the plans.

A year on, Stats Perform looks back on one of the most controversial proposals in the sport's history and where it stands now.

What is/was the European Super League?

The past week has shown exactly what makes the Champions League great, whether Villarreal's upset of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid withstanding Chelsea's fightback, a thriller between Liverpool and Benfica in a tie widely considered over or the blood and thunder of Manchester City's defeat of Atletico Madrid.

But Arsenal and Tottenham did not qualify for the Champions League this season, while Barcelona and Milan failed to make it beyond the group stage.

In another season, another superpower – the clubs whose names and riches have made the Champions League what it is – might miss out on these great games.

That was the fear of a dozen leading sides, anyway. Barca had a prominent role, along with Real Madrid and Juventus, as the European Super League was launched.

The competition was to be backed by United States-based investment bank JP Morgan and managed by the owners of the founding clubs, who would be guaranteed entry to the competition.

Three clubs were hoped to join the initial 12, followed by five others qualifying each year to form a 20-team tournament, which would be split into two 10-team leagues prior to a knockout stage.

The idea was for the Super League to replace the lucrative Champions League, rather than domestic leagues – hence its inception on the eve of Champions League reforms. The interested parties even claimed the money raised would benefit "the wider football pyramid".

But the reception was widely critical, while there were notable absentees in the form of Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, the previous campaign's Champions League finalists.

PSG had spent too much time – and, of course, money – establishing themselves among European football's elite to risk it all in the breakaway.

Meanwhile, Bayern, like most German clubs, are partly fan-owned. And it would soon become clear football fans in general were not enthused by the prospect of seeing Europe's best teams slog it out in a closed-shop tournament.

Then what?

The 12 clubs must have imagined some sort of response, but what followed appeared to stun those involved.

Their own players and coaches announced opposition, with many frustrated these plans had provided such a distraction at a key stage in the season. Notably, Jurgen Klopp fumed when Leeds United, Liverpool's next opponents, told the six-time European champions to "earn it" if they wanted to play in the Champions League.

The rest of football appeared united against those who had sought to cut loose, as former Manchester United captain Gary Neville called for the Old Trafford club to be relegated along with Liverpool and Arsenal.

Unsurprisingly, UEFA, FIFA and even the UK government railed against the Super League, too.

But most importantly, the fans – particularly in England – made clear they would not stand for this apparent betrayal of the sport and its roots.

Chelsea were the first team to back out of the European Super League while Petr Cech attempted to negotiate with furious supporters blocking the team's entrance to Stamford Bridge prior to a drab goalless draw against Brighton and Hove Albion.

With protests following at stadiums up and down the country, the Premier League clubs soon quit the breakaway competition, and they were joined by Inter, Milan and Atletico Madrid, as the Super League was declared dead mere hours after its birth.

Football had won, it was widely acknowledged.

And they all lived happily ever after?

Well, not quite. Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus have continued to pursue the European Super League, their owners refusing to relent.

The huge debts racked up during the coronavirus pandemic contributed to their desperation to land this lucrative deal, with Barca since forced to let club legend Lionel Messi leave on a free transfer due to their inability to afford a new contract for the 34-year-old.

Those who backed out of the controversial plans have at least returned to the European Club Association, in which PSG were huge beneficiaries of their reluctance to follow their elite rivals. Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the PSG president, now leads the ECA in a role that previously belonged to Juve chief Andrea Agnelli.

But even Barca, Madrid and Juve have been able to continue playing in UEFA competitions – those they have qualified for, anyway. Madrid have made the Champions League semi-finals as they bid for a record-extending 14th European crown.

And sceptics could be forgiven for wondering if the new Champions League format sounds a little 'European Super Leaguey'.

As of 2024-25, the group stages will be no more, replaced by – yes – a league. And although the competition is increasing in size to 36 teams, two of the additional four slots are reserved for clubs who have the highest UEFA coefficients but have qualified only for one of the organisation's lesser competitions.

Barca, who toiled in the early stages of this season, or Juve, facing a fight for a top-four finish in Serie A, would have to slump significantly not to be assured of a seat at the time.

The Super League is dead... but long live the Super League?

Christopher Nkunku has long been on the various of Europe's big clubs, but this season has been a breakout.

The 24-year-old France attacker has contributed an extraordinary 17 goals and 15 assists in 30 league appearances for RB Leipzig this term.

Investcorp's reported takeover of Milan from Elliott Management, and the consequent injection of funds, has reportedly put Nkunku in Milan's sights.

 

TOP STORY – NKUNKU ON MILAN RADAR

A change in ownership is allowing Milan to go after RB Leipzig's Cristopher Nkunku, the Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting.

Milan's Scudetto charges in recent years have fallen short up front despite the quality of their midfield, but the change of ownership can dictate a change in transfer strategy.

Meetings with Sassuolo for Gianluca Scamacca and Hamed Traore could be scuppered because the likes of Nkunku would become available.

Any such moves would reportedly not rule out a transfer for Liverpool striker Divock Origi that is already in the works, however.

 

ROUND-UP

– Liverpool have identified Barcelona's 17-year-old talent Gavi as a potential target in an attempt to bolster their midfield at the end of the season, Sport is reporting.

– The Reds are also prepared to offer a new contract to Sadio Mane, whose current deal expires at the end of next season, per Football Insider.

Arsenal are interested in signing Lille's Kosovo attacker Edon Zhegrova, according to Sky Sports.

– Newcastle United have shown renewed interest in Torino defender Gleison Bremer, who is also on Arsenal and Tottenham's radar, Tuttomercato reports.

Barcelona face a fan boycott for Monday's LaLiga game against Cadiz after a group of supporters announced they would stay away in a protest over what they called "the greatest infamy at our home".

The massed ranks of Eintracht Frankfurt fans at Camp Nou on Thursday for the Europa League quarter-final second leg has incensed many at Barca.

Club president Joan Laporta has said he was "ashamed" with the ticketing situation against the Bundesliga side that allowed tens of thousands of away supporters into the stadium.

Head coach Xavi has said the matter is being investigated internally, with Barcelona's 3-2 defeat and exit from the competition having compounded the misery 

The Grada d'Animacio (Animation Stand) group, which provides considerable colour and noise at home games, announced its boycott on Sunday, issuing a statement on Twitter.

"Last Thursday we experienced a day that will be marked forever as the greatest infamy at our home," the group's statement said.

It added: "As fans and members of FC Barcelona we have experienced many victories and many defeats on the field of play, but as a fan group, we have experienced a social humiliation that we will never forget."

The group said the system that allowed Frankfurt visitors to acquire tickets for the game had failed Barca fans, adding that the mass buy-up should have been detected and prevented.

The fan body also questioned whether it had come as a surprise to Barcelona that so many German fans had attended, or whether it had been allowed to bring in money at the box office.

According to the Grada d'Animacio, there were more than 30,000 Frankfurt fans at the game.

The fan group also questioned what might have happened if the visiting supporters were spoiling for a fight.

"Who knows where we would be right now with another group of fans," the group's statement added.

"Our task is simple but very complicated, to set the mood and help cheer up the rest of the stadium to get victories, because we are very clear that as fans we are the 12th team player.

"However, the events that took place on Thursday meant that we were forced to take action, as we did during the match and on other occasions, and that is precisely why we will attend the next match between FC Barcelona and Cadiz.

"We are convinced that, as members and fans of FC Barcelona, ​​we cannot ever allow again a remotely similar situation, and we ask the parties involved to remember that not everything in life is a few million, especially if we talk about a club that has as a motto 'more than a club'."

Xavi urged Barcelona to "keep believing in the project" after his side crashed out of the Europa League on Thursday.

Barca stumbled in the Europa League quarter-final as they were eliminated by Eintracht Frankfurt, but their LaLiga form remains impressive and has guided them to second in the table.

The Blaugrana are 12 points behind leaders Real Madrid, who play third-placed Sevilla on Sunday, and are unbeaten in their last 15 Spanish top-flight games, winning their last seven.

Xavi insists his team must forget about the failure in Europe if they are to register eight straight league wins for the first time since January 2019 when they host Cadiz on Monday.

"When we started in November, we knew we needed to be more competitive, that five or six years ago we didn't compete well enough in Europe," he told reporters at a pre-match news conference.

"We have to keep believing in the project, we competed well in Napoli, not against Eintracht.

"It's a tough blow, they've eliminated us from the Europa League that we hoped to win to qualify for the Champions League and we haven't succeeded.

"We are encouraging the group, making them see where we have failed, also what we have done well. In short, it is to continue believing in what we are working on. Little by little, with patience.

"Now it's time to focus on securing the Champions League [via LaLiga]."

As for questions over his tactical methods, Xavi responded: "We have won five Champion League titles with this style. The style that [Johan] Cruyff imposed has given us much success.

"If we have doubts, we must improve this game system, what we must not do is rest on it. If we are making mistakes, we must improve it."

Barca will be hoping to have the Camp Nou filled by home fans against Cadiz, as opposed to the masses of away Eintracht fans – estimated to have been around 25,000 – that made it in for the Europa League.

Blaugrana president Joan Laporta acknowledged he was "ashamed" with the ticketing situation against the Bundesliga side, and Xavi confirmed the matter was being investigated internally.

"The club is working to solve it, as soon as they have an explanation, first they will tell us and then the media," he added.

"The players did not feel at home. It was a bad night in every way."

Lautaro Martinez was very close to joining Barcelona from Inter Milan two years ago.

The Blaugrana and the Argentina international had reached a personal agreement, but the financial consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic scuppered any possibility for the former to make any transfer happen.

As ever, though, circumstances in football change and according to reports, they have changed in a way that would allow Barca to finally get the Martinez deal over the line.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA IN FRAME FOR LAUTARO

Barcelona are back in the running to sign Inter's Lautaro Martinez, according to reports from Sport.

The 24-year-old is increasingly likely to leave the reigning Serie A champions, but it appears the club would be willing to lower their asking price in exchange for players as part of a package deal.

Inter have shown interest in Miralem Pjanic and Memphis Depay, two players who appear to be surplus to requirements in a rebuild under Xavi at the Catalan giants.

Martinez, who has provided 15 goals and three assists in 28 league appearances this season, is seen as a more affordable alternative to Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski.

 

ROUND-UP

– Liverpool are eyeing Aberdeen right-back Calvin Ramsey to provide depth for Trent Alexander-Arnold, the Sun reports.

Paris Saint-Germain are ready to part ways with Mauricio Pochettino in order to hire Zinedine Zidane as their head coach, per Le Parisien.

– Corriere dello Sport is reporting Roma would consider an offer of €60million (£49.6m) for highly-rated 22-year-old Nicolo Zaniolo, as interest from Serie A and Premier League clubs looms.

– Juventus are prepared to offer for Chelsea's Jorginho, with the Turin giants seeking to bolster their midfield next season, according to Tuttosport.

– Chelsea are willing to let 28-year-old striker Romelu Lukaku go with Inter and PSG interested, per 90Min.

Barcelona are awaiting scan results on star midfielder Pedri after he sustained a hamstring injury against Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday.

The Blaugrana prospect was replaced by Frenkie de Jong at half-time against the Bundesliga side, who progressed to the Europa League semi-final with a dramatic 4-3 aggregate victory.

Pedri was struggling with a problem in his left thigh, and Barca coach Xavi acknowledged he was worried by the injury, adding: "It's very bad news."

Further scans on Friday were undertaken to determine the extent of the issue for Pedri, who was sidelined for an extended period earlier this year with another hamstring problem.

The news of the injury to the midfielder will further compound the disappointment of Barca's exit from the Europa League.

Pedri has played only 12 matches in LaLiga this season, starting 10. Barca have won eight of those 10, compared to nine victories in 20 without the teenager.

The midfielder scored in his most recent LaLiga appearance, a 3-2 win over Levante on Sunday, his third goal in five matches at the time. He had scored only three times in his prior 46 appearances.

Xavi will have to make do without Pedri when his side host Cadiz on Monday as they look to cut LaLiga leaders Real Madrid's 12-point lead.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has assured the club's supporters there will be an explanation for the massive presence of Eintracht Frankfurt fans, as the home side was knocked out of the Europa League on Thursday.

A massive contingent of Eintracht fans witnessed and celebrated their club winning 3-2 in the quarter-final second leg at the Camp Nou, rubbing salt in the wound for the Blaugrana.

Barcelona gave 5,000 tickets to Eintracht as per UEFA regulations, but reports from the ground suggested figures of Eintracht fans nearing five times that initial ticket release.

Alluding to the sale of tickets on the secondary market, Laporta – who started his second term as the embattled club's president in 2021 – apologised for the situation and vowed there will not be a repeat.

"What has happened in the stands is a shame that cannot be repeated, we must process information and we have to take action, but it is unfortunate," Laporta told Mundo Deportivo.

"We will have to be stricter and not allow certain things, I feel ashamed as a Barcelona fan. I feel embarrassed with what I saw in the stands, I apologise.

"It was very serious. We are processing all the information, and we will give explanations. What happened today is not usual and should not have happened."

Enric Masip, Laporta's advisor at Barcelona, voiced his anger at the situation, which reportedly caused fans at the stadium to protest.

"Everyone has the right to sell their tickets but the reality is that seeing a Camp Nou with so many opposition fans is very, very bad," he posted on Twitter.

Following their eliminations from the Champions League and Copa Del Rey, and with a 12-point deficit to Real Madrid in the league, Barcelona's exit from the Europa League will likely leave them without a trophy this season.

Laporta believes the club needs to reinforce its identity as a result.

"If it is a failure then we will learn from our mistakes, this defeat should make us believe more in our ideas," he said.

"We haven't been able to win, we've lost the tie and we have to accept it, we're all sad and angry but we have to keep going and fight for the league."

Barcelona boss Xavi says Eintracht Frankfurt fully deserved their stunning 3-2 victory in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie at Camp Nou on Thursday.

Filip Kostic scored twice, the first of which came from the penalty spot, and Rafael Borre slammed in from long range as the Bundesliga side sealed a memorable 4-3 aggregate win over the Catalan giants, who scored twice in stoppage time through Sergio Busquets' fine strike and a Memphis Depay penalty.

The result ended Barca's 15-game unbeaten run, which was the longest in the top five European leagues, while it was only the second time in their last seven knockout ties in Europe when they have avoided defeat in the first leg that they have been eliminated.

Xavi had no complaints about the result and admitted his side were well off the pace they have set in recent months.

"We scored two goals but we weren't able to attack in the best way," he told a media conference.

"We didn't play as well as in other games and they came out very well on the counter-attack. They had that first penalty that went very well for them and then with a great goal with a silly loss from us on the right.

"We have had control but we haven't generated enough to hurt them, and they have done it with little [of the game]. With a penalty, with a counter from a loss from us and the third comes from a play after we had been pressing.

"They are mistakes that we have paid for. This is what happens in Europe and we leave disappointed.

"It's not a failure. We've tried. It's a disappointment because we had high hopes and we've put everything on the pitch, and in the end Frankfurt won. It's a competition and if there is failure we are going to learn.

"We can only congratulate them because they deserved it."

A significant number of Frankfurt supporters roared their side on, with far more than their allocation of 5,000 present in the stadium.

Xavi says that had an impact on his side and confirmed the club is looking into why there were so many opposition fans.

"The atmosphere hasn't helped us," he added. "We expected some 70,000 or 80,000 people from Catalonia and that hasn't happened. It looked like a final with divided support. I think the club is checking what happened."

Barca are next in action on Monday when they host Cadiz in LaLiga.

Eintracht Frankfurt produced a stunning performance as they reached the Europa League semi-finals with a 3-2 second-leg victory over Barcelona at Camp Nou on Thursday. 

The two sides played out a 1-1 draw in Germany last week, and any thoughts Xavi's men had of brushing aside their opponents on home turf were dispelled in the fourth minute when Filip Kostic scored from the penalty spot. 

Rafael Borre and Kostic added further goals to give the scoreline a scarcely believable look, before a fine Sergio Busquets strike and Memphis Depay penalty reduced the deficit in stoppage time.

But Frankfurt had done enough for a famous 4-3 aggregate win and Oliver Glasner's men will now face West Ham in the last four after they overcame Lyon.

Barca started dismally and fell behind in the fourth minute when Kostic slammed home from the spot after Eric Garcia had hauled down Jesper Lindstrom in the area. 

They went 2-0 down in the 36th minute, though, courtesy of a stunning 25-yard strike from Borre that flashed past Marc-Andre ter Stegen and into the roof of the net. 

Ansgar Knauff fizzed a strike narrowly over Ter Stegen's crossbar soon after as Frankfurt threatened to put the tie beyond Barca's reach before the interval.

Frankfurt then sent their fans into dreamland when Kostic drilled across Ter Stegen for his second of the game in the 67th minute.

Busquets thundered home from outside the penalty area in stoppage time moments after having an effort ruled out by VAR for offside, before Depay scored from the spot with almost the last kick of the game after Evan Ndicka had clattered into Luuk de Jong. 

 

What does it mean? Barca's unbeaten run comes to a crashing halt

Few expected Barca's 15-game unbeaten streak to come to an end against a team languishing ninth in the Bundesliga, but Frankfurt were excellent value for their win. 

Glasner's side, who had 15 shots to Barca's 10, are now unbeaten in their last 10 games against Spanish sides in European competition (W6 D4), including the last five away from home (W4 D1).

Kostic's game to remember

Kostic started and ended the scoring for Frankfurt, while he also played the key pass before Borre's glorious strike. That made him the first player to score and assist in a single European game against Barcelona at Camp Nou since Juninho Pernambucano for Lyon in March 2009 in the Champions League.

Barca's spot-kick woes continue 

Garcia's early penalty concession was Barca's fourth in their last two games – as many as in their previous 55 matches in all competitions. Indeed, Kostic's penalty was the earliest conceded by the Catalan giants in all competitions since the 2004-05 season. 

What's next?

Barca will need to lift themselves when they host Cadiz in LaLiga on Monday, while a buoyant Frankfurt visit Union Berlin in the Bundesliga a day earlier. 

Eintracht Frankfurt produced a stunning performance as they reached the Europa League semi-finals with a remarkable 3-0 second-leg victory over Barcelona at Camp Nou on Thursday. 

The two sides played out a 1-1 draw in Germany last week, and any thoughts Xavi's men had of brushing aside their opponents on home turf were dispelled in the fourth minute when Filip Kostic scored from the penalty spot. 

It got even better for the visitors before the break when Borre crashed home from outside the penalty area, before Kostic's second in the 67th minute put the seal on one of the club's most famous ever victories. 

Oliver Glasner's men will now face West Ham in the last four after they overcame Lyon.

Barca started dismally and fell behind in the fourth minute when Kostic slammed home from the spot after Eric Garcia had hauled down Jesper Lindstrom in the area. 

Ronald Araujo forced a smart stop from Kevin Trapp with an instinctive volley shortly before the midway point of the first half as Barca belatedly woke from their slumber. 

They went 2-0 down in the 36th minute, though, courtesy of a stunning 25-yard strike from Borre that flashed past Marc-Andre ter Stegen and into the roof of the net. 

Ansgar Knauff fizzed a strike narrowly over Ter Stegen's crossbar soon after as Frankfurt threatened to put the tie beyond Barca's reach before the interval.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang inexplicably failed to force Ousmane Dembele's cross home from close range, before Ter Stegen denied Lindstrom after a rapid counter-attacking move at the other end. 

Frankfurt then ensured the scoreline had a scarcely believable look when Kostic drilled across Ter Stegen for his second of the game. 

 

What does it mean? Barca's unbeaten run comes to a crashing halt

Few expected Barca's 15-game unbeaten streak to come to an end against a team languishing ninth in the Bundesliga, but Frankfurt were excellent value for their win. 

Glasner's side, who had xx shots to Barca's xx, are now unbeaten in their last 10 games against Spanish sides in European competition (W6 D4), including the last five away from home (W4 D1).

Kostic's game to remember

Kostic started and ended the scoring for Frankfurt, while he also played the key pass before Borre's glorious strike. That made him the first player to score and assist in a single European game against Barcelona at Camp Nou since Juninho Pernambucano for Lyon in March 2009 in the Champions League.

Barca's spot-kick woes continue 

Garcia's early penalty concession was Barca's fourth in their last two games – as many as in their previous 55 matches in all competitions. Indeed, Kostic's penalty was the earliest conceded by the Catalan giants in all competitions since the 2004-05 season. 

What's next?

Barca will need to lift themselves when they host Cadiz in LaLiga on Monday, while a buoyant Frankfurt visit Union Berlin in the Bundesliga a day earlier. 

Xavi has claimed the Champions League achievements of Real Madrid and Villarreal show the strength of LaLiga is close to that of the Premier League.

Madrid overcame English side and defending European champions Chelsea at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday to reach the Champions League semi-finals, despite losing 3-2 on the night, while Villarreal shocked Bayern Munich 2-1 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw at the Allianz Arena to also advance.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of Barcelona's own European quarter-final second leg in the Europa League against Eintracht Frankfurt, Xavi questioned what he believes to be the consensus that the Premier League is a "much higher level" compared to Spain.

"Yesterday, I thought LaLiga isn't that far off from the Premier League," the Blaugrana head coach said. "There is this debate about the Premier League being a much higher level than LaLiga. We have two Spanish clubs in the semi-finals.

"People say it is not difficult to play in LaLiga, but the Premier League isn't far from LaLiga."

Despite being eliminated from the group stage of the Champions League earlier this season, the Barca boss expressed excitement at competing in the Europa League, though he insisted the club wants to be back in Europe's premier competition as soon as possible.

"It's not quite as highly rated as the Champions League but it's a European title which we're excited to play for," he said. "The team is motivated and ready.

"We're working to get back into the Champions League. Yesterday we had to watch from home and that was painful for us, but we must use it to motivate us to be back there."

Barca centre back Eric Garcia also spoke to the media on Wednesday, and compared Xavi to club legend Pep Guardiola, who Garcia previously played for at Manchester City.

When asked about the influence of Xavi since his arrival in November, Garcia said: "He is showing us a lot with the ball and our distribution.

"Him and Pep are quite similar in this way. Xavi is very close to the players, he talks a lot with you and gives you advice, which is very important to the players.

"It's a shame we have only had a few months with him, but there is a lot of hope for the future ahead of us with him."

Xavi acknowledged his "respect" for Robert Lewandowski but offered little more on the Bayern Munich striker ahead of a key European game for Barcelona.

Lewandowski has scored 47 goals in 41 appearances in all competitions for Bayern this season and won The Best FIFA Men's Player award in January.

Bayern were surprisingly eliminated from the Champions League at the quarter-final stage on Tuesday, despite Lewandowski finding the net against Villarreal, who won 2-1 on aggregate.

Oliver Kahn, the Bayern chief executive, said ahead of that second leg the club "definitely" would not sell Lewandowski, who has a year remaining on his contract.

But the former Borussia Dortmund man has been linked with a move to Camp Nou at the end of the season.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of Barca's Europa League quarter-final second leg against Eintracht Frankfurt, Xavi said: "It is not the moment to talk about Lewandowski.

"I respect him a lot as a player, but we focus on tomorrow's match and not potential signings. I will not say anything else about it."

The Blaugrana drew 1-1 in Germany in last week's first leg, where Xavi was unhappy with the length of the grass at the Waldstadion, but he is confident at Camp Nou his players will be able to utilise their possession-based football.

"It's true the pitch wasn't 100 per cent. It is important tomorrow the pitch is good. It should help us improve retention of the ball," Xavi said.

Barca have not lost in 15 games in all competitions, winning 11 of those, and the arrival of Xavi in November has seen the team restore some pride after a dreadful start to the campaign that included elimination from the Champions League group stages for the first time in over two decades.

Despite this form, Xavi declared his coaching job as the "most difficult" in the world, believing the pressure to win as well as play good football makes the Barca role the toughest in football.

"We have an obligation to win and play well," he said. "Imagine what it's like to be at Barca. All week there has been debate about the weekend when we won in the 90th minute [against Levante]. That's what it's like being in Barca. We need to be excellent in everything we do.

"That's why it's the most difficult club in the world. There is nothing to compare it to. In no other country is there a more difficult job.

"We have to win while playing well and that's difficult. Very difficult. It's the most complicated club in the world, I am sure of it."

Inter are firming as a likely destination for Paulo Dybala, as the end to his time at Juventus draws near.

The Argentina international has provided 96 goals and 51 assists in 265 league appearances for Juventus, but will not stay in an evident rebuild under Max Allegri.

While Dybala is set to leave after seven seasons in Turin, and after a near-move to Tottenham, it appears he might stay in Italy's Serie A after all.

 

TOP STORY – INTER CLOSE IN ON DYBALA

Inter are closing in on Paulo Dybala, whose contract at Juventus will expire at the end of the season, according to reports from La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The 28-year-old attacker has drifted out to the periphery for the Turin giants, ever since Cristiano Ronaldo's transfer, to the point where they are not willing to renew his contract.

Per the report however, Inter face potential stumbling blocks in fitting Dybala within their wage structure, with talks between the club and his representatives focused on bridging any gaps in expectations.

While Inter would seek to bring Dybala in next season, they are not in a capacity to offer a €6milliion salary, currently earned by Lautaro Martinez and Marcelo Brozovic.

Though Inter are unsure of Martinez's future at the San Siro, Alexis Sanchez falling out of favour under Simone Inzaghi could facilitate Dybala's addition.

 

ROUND-UP

– Juventus are keen to sign Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo, and are prepared to add Moise Kean as part of a package deal, according to Nicolo Schira.

Manchester United have reached a verbal agreement in principle for Erik ten Hag to leave Ajax and become their next manager, The Athletic is reporting.

Liverpool are prepared to make a £25million (€30m) offer for Torino's Gleison Bremer, per Tuttomercato.

Barcelona must be prepared to pay Juventus €100m in order to sign 22-year-old centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, Fichajes is reporting.

– Atletico Madrid are interested in signing Lautaro Martinez, with Inter setting a transfer price range of €70-80m, per Nicolo Schira.

Barcelona sealed a seventh straight LaLiga win as Luuk de Jong's stoppage-time header earned a dramatic 3-2 victory over a Levante side who were awarded three penalties.

Jose Luis Morales' penalty seven minutes after the interval handed the hosts the lead, and they could have been 2-0 up moments later, yet Roger Marti's spot-kick was kept out by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Barcelona took advantage of that reprieve, moving 2-1 ahead within seven minutes of the miss thanks to goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Pedri.

Levante thought they had claimed a point when Gonzalo Melero slammed home from the spot with seven minutes remaining, but substitute De Jong popped up in added time to claim yet another maximum-points haul for the Blaugrana.

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