Mexican club Toluca confirmed they had been targeted by a hoax after a statement appeared online claiming legal action against Luuk de Jong was being considered.

De Jong has reportedly ruled out the idea of a move to Liga MX, and Toluca have said he will not be joining them.

The 31-year-old Dutch striker spent last season on loan at Barcelona from Sevilla, largely featuring as a fringe member of the Camp Nou giants' squad.

A statement was published on social media that was purported to have come from Toluca, in which it was claimed that a deal for De Jong had been agreed with the player and Sevilla.

It went on to claim that De Jong subsequently did not travel to Mexico, was not answering the calls of club owner Valentin Diez, and had decided against making the move.

The same statement said that Toluca, supported by Liga MX officials, were looking at what legal options were available to them, signing off with the remark: "Nobody is going to make fun of Toluca and Mexican football."

Toluca stressed on Saturday the statement was a fake, issuing a rebuttal through the club's Twitter account that stated: "Our fans and the general public are informed that official announcements will always be published on our official Toluca FC accounts and website."

It contained a picture of the statement, with a thick red line running through it and the word 'FALSO!', which translates as 'fake'.

Addressing transfer reports, Toluca technical director Ignacio Ambriz was quoted by local media on Friday as saying: "Doors were knocked on, but there are no contracts signed with any of them."

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.

Luuk de Jong will miss Barcelona's clash with his parent club Sevilla on Sunday after testing positive for coronavirus.

Barca revealed on the eve of the LaLiga encounter at Camp Nou that the Netherlands international had contracted COVID-19, but is in good health.

The 31-year-old has been an unused substitute in the in-form Blaugrana's past three matches.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has established himself as Barca's first-choice striker following his arrival from Arsenal in January, scoring nine goals in 11 appearances.

De Jong has found the back of the net six times in 22 games for the Catalan giants since making a season-long loan move from Sevilla.

Barca will move above Sevilla in second spot on goal difference if they extend their winning streak in LaLiga to six matches on Sunday.

Frenkie de Jong disagreed with Joan Laporta after the Barcelona president said the club could be proud of their performance in the Supercopa de Espana final defeat to Real Madrid. 

Barcelona twice came from behind to force extra time against Madrid in Riyadh last week, but Federico Valverde struck the decisive goal in the 98th minute to give Los Blancos a 3-2 success. 

Laporta went to the dressing room after the final whistle and told the players they could be proud of their performances, with the footage being published on the club's official social media channels.

De Jong took a dim view of Laporta's perspective after his 87th-minute goal against Deportivo Alaves on Sunday secured a 1-0 LaLiga success, ending a three-game winless streak. 

"We didn't play badly against Madrid, but it saddens me to say that we are proud," said De Jong. "When you lose, you always have to be disappointed." 

The victory saw Barca move above Real Sociedad and into fifth in LaLiga, with fourth-placed Atletico Madrid just one point ahead of them. 

"The victory was very important because we are in a difficult phase of the season," said De Jong. 

"We have to improve our play, although it was very difficult because the pitch was frozen. We have to be more precise with the ball, especially in the opposition's half. 

"The goal is to qualify for the Champions League and then we'll see what position we achieve." 

On his personal display, he added: "When you score, it doesn't mean you play well. I have to improve, but it's not a disaster either." 

Frenkie de Jong netted an 87th-minute winner as Barcelona finally found themselves on the right side of late drama in a 1-0 victory at Deportivo Alaves.

Barca entered the game on a three-match winless run in all competitions, having been held by Granada following a last-gasp equaliser before consecutive cup defeats after extra-time.

The stage was set for another frenzied finish after Luuk de Jong passed up two presentable opportunities for the Blaugrana, and it was his namesake who delivered this time.

Xavi's men leapfrogged Real Sociedad into fifth place in the LaLiga table, a point behind Atletico Madrid after their own late show a day earlier.

Federico Valverde scored in extra time as Real Madrid advanced to the Supercopa de Espana final with a 3-2 victory over Barcelona. 

Vinicius Junior gave Madrid a deserved lead shortly after the midway point of the first half in Riyadh, yet Luuk de Jong ensured the sides went in at the break level with a fortuitous equaliser. 

Karim Benzema restored Los Blancos' advantage in the 72nd minute, only for Ansu Fati to draw Xavi's men level once again with seven minutes left of normal time. 

Valverde clipped home eight minutes into extra time, however, to set up a final clash on Sunday against either Atletico Madrid or Athletic Bilbao, who do battle in the second semi-final on Thursday. 

Madrid's bright start was rewarded in the 25th minute when Vinicius raced beyond Ronald Araujo and fired past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen after Benzema had dispossessed Sergio Busquets on the halfway line.

Barca pulled level four minutes before the interval, Eder Militao's attempted clearance inside the six-yard area smashing against De Jong and spinning in off the inside of Thibaut Courtois' right-hand post.

Moments after crashing an effort against the upright, Benzema slotted home from close range after Vinicius' cross had been diverted into his path by Ter Stegen. 

Substitute Fati, who was making his first appearance since November 6, sent the game to extra time, though, heading Jordi Alba's cross past Courtois from six yards.

Carlo Ancelotti's men sealed their spot in the final in the first half of extra time when Valverde slid home after a counter-attacking move that saw Barca desperately outnumbered. 

Barcelona missed the chance to go third in LaLiga as Antonio Puertas' last-gasp strike salvaged a 1-1 draw for Granada on Saturday.

After Barca had struggled to create first-half chances, Sevilla loanee Luuk de Jong rose to head a Dani Alves cross past a helpless Luis Maximiano to put Barca in front in the second half.

Gavi's late sending off put Xavi's side under pressure and with time running out, Puertas volleyed past Marc-Andre ter Stegen to deny Barca all three points.

While the Catalan giants have lost just once in 10 La Liga games, they sit only sixth in the table in the battle to secure a Champions League spot.

Xavi has suggested Luuk de Jong could stay at Barcelona beyond the January transfer window after firing his side to "three golden points" against Real Mallorca. 

De Jong's loan from Sevilla was expected to be terminated this month ahead of the forward joining fellow LaLiga side Cadiz for the remainder of the season.

However, the Netherlands international was required against Mallorca on Barca's return to action on Sunday due to a spate of COVID-19 cases in the Blaugrana camp.

After twice hitting the woodwork, De Jong headed in his second league goal of the campaign in the 44th minute to seal a 1-0 victory for Barca in Palma.

In doing so, he became the first Barca player other than Lionel Messi to hit the frame of the goal twice in a single LaLiga game since August 2019.

And with Xavi still waiting on other players to return to fitness, the recently appointed coach hinted De Jong may yet remain at Camp Nou for the rest of 2021-22.

"He is an example of a professional," Xavi said at his post-match news conference. "It is said that he can go out, but he works, he sacrifices himself. He is a hell of a professional. 

"I am happy with him. Of course I am contemplating him staying because today he has been useful to us. He is an example for everyone. 

"Depending on how you train, you will play. We will see the future. We will see if there are exits and entrances. But they are all hypotheses."

 

De Jong has scored eight headed goals in all competitions since the 2019-20 season, a record surpassed only by Karim Benzema (13), Ante Budimir (11) and Youssef En-Nesyri (nine) among LaLiga players in all competitions.

It was also Barca's seventh headed goal in LaLiga this season, which is the most of any side and the same number they managed across 38 league matches last time out.

That match-winning moment helped Barca to just a second victory in six games across all competitions as they moved fifth in LaLiga and within a point of fourth-placed Atletico Madrid.

Xavi was pleased with the fighting spirit shown by his side, though the win would not have been possible if not for an impressive save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen to deny Juame Costa in stoppage time.

"There are three golden points," he said. "They way we played, and the circumstances we played in, this is a family victory. We have showed we know how to suffer.

"We had a very good first half and showed lots of personality. We are on the way up.

"We wanted the game to be suspended but I'm proud of the team, and proud of Marc. We needed him. He stopped a goal at the end and saved us.

"But the youngsters in the side are also helping us a lot. They have the right mentality and are well prepared. These three points put us in the fight for the top positions."

Riqui Puig was one of the many youngsters on display for Barca, the academy product making his landmark 50th appearance for the club in all competitions.

He completed 66 of his 69 passes for a passing accuracy of 96 per cent that no other Barcelona player could match on the day.

"Riqui was very good," Xavi said. "As were the others, like [Oscar] Mingueza and [Ferran] Jutgla. They have all worked hard for the team and it is exciting for us.

"This is the way forward and this victory is an example of that."

Dani Alves and Jordi Alba missed Sunday's win after testing positive for coronavirus, but the pair have since returned negative tests and have been given the green light to return to training from Monday.

Luuk de Jong scored the only goal of the game as a severely depleted Barcelona edged past Real Mallorca 1-0 in LaLiga on Sunday.

Xavi described the decision to force the Blaugrana to play as "crazy" after they were hit with a spate of COVID-19 cases during the mid-season break, but his makeshift side coped admirably against Luis Garcia's men.

De Jong – who had already hit the woodwork twice – headed in his second league goal of the campaign in the 44th minute to seal just a second win in Barca's last six games across all competitions.

The result moved the Catalan giants up to fifth – one point behind fourth-placed Atletico Madrid – while Mallorca remained in 15th.

Barca looked more lively than their hosts in the early stages and went close through Gerard Pique's free-kick and Ferran Jutgla's whipped strike.

De Jong twice went agonisingly close to opening the scoring moments before the half-hour mark, first poking against the post from Ilias Chakkour's pass and then crashing a spectacular bicycle kick off Manolo Reina's crossbar.

The striker was not to be denied shortly before the interval, though, rising highest at the back post to head home Oscar Mingueza's cross and give Barca a deserved half-time lead.

Barca continued to do much of the pressing after the break, with Pique and De Jong going close to grabbing a second. 

Marc-Andre ter Stegen superbly kept out Jaume Costa's stoppage-time volley as Xavi's side held on to claim a 12th win in their last 13 away LaLiga games against Mallorca. 

What does it mean? Youthful Barca continue fine run against hosts

Despite a starting XI with an average age of 24 years and 201 days – their third youngest since at least the 2005-06 season – Barca put in a mature, dominant performance to seal an eighth consecutive LaLiga win against Mallorca.

They enjoyed a whopping 64.7 per cent possession in a win that meant they have not lost their first game of the calendar year for the past seven seasons.

De Jong signing off in style

De Jong's loan from Sevilla is expected to the terminated this month, but the Netherlands striker is certainly going out with a bang. His header sealed all three points, while he was denied two more by the frame of the goal, becoming the first Barca player other than Lionel Messi to hit the woodwork twice in a single LaLiga game since August 2019.

Chakkour outshines Jutgla

Jutgla toiled in attack for the visitors, taking a single shot and failing to play a key pass. In contrast, Chakkour – playing on the other side of De Jong – had two shots and played a joint team-high three key passes.

What's next?

Both sides are in Copa del Rey action on Wednesday, with Barca travelling to Linares Deportivo and Mallorca visiting Eibar.

The race for Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland is on.

Haaland is reportedly being chased by several top clubs, including Real Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

Each club will be looking for an edge in the race for the Norwegian.


TOP STORY – BARCELONA NOT KEEN ON POGBA-HAALAND PACKAGE

Barcelona are unlikely to bring in both Haaland and Paul Pogba, reports SPORT.

Agent Mino Raiola, who represents both players, is reported to have recently met with Barca president Joan Laporta.

Young striker Haaland is unmistakably an appealing player to Barcelona, but they would need to find the funds to buy him from Borussia Dortmund. Barcelona, who have major financial issues, are said to be wary of taking on Manchester United star Pogba's wages, and he may not be an ideal technical fit for coach Xavi. Pogba's United contract is due to expire at the end of this season.

Manchester City are also readying themselves to chase Haaland but will not over-spend, reports the Manchester Evening News.

ROUND-UP

- Cashed-up Newcastle United are bullish about their prospects of signing Atletico Madrid's England defender Kieran Trippier in January, according to Football Insider. Talks between the Magpies and Trippier are reportedly already under way.

- Premier League trio Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United could be all set to make a move to sign Fiorentina's Dusan Vlahovic after he rejected a bumper extension offer, reports Talksport.

- Paris Saint-Germain have joined the queue of clubs hoping to sign out-of-favour Juventus midfielder Arthur Melo, reports Calciomercato. Arthur has also been linked with Lazio.

- Fenerbahce are set to swoop for Luuk de Jong, who is on loan at Barcelona from Sevilla, claims Mundo Deportivo. Barca are eager to let him leave from his loan.

- Barcelona have set an asking price of €90million (£77m) for Frenkie de Jong according to Fichajes, amid interest from Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

Ansu Fati marked his return with a brilliant late goal and Luuk de Jong opened his Barcelona account in a 3-0 LaLiga defeat of Levante.

Luuk de Jong doubled Barca's lead in his fourth appearance for the club following his move from Sevilla after his Netherlands team-mate Memphis Depay opened the scoring from the penalty spot.

An inspired performance from Aitor Fernandez prevented Barca from significantly boosting their goal difference as they totally dominated the game, with under-pressure boss Ronald Koeman watching on from the stands as he serves a two-match ban.

Fati, on as a late substitute, put the icing on the cake in his comeback following 10 months out with a knee injury, finishing superbly in stoppage time as Barca ended a run of three games without victory.

Depay sent Fernandez the wrong way from the spot just six minutes in, having produced great trickery to beat two defenders before being upended by Nemanja Radoja.

De Jong opened his Barca account eight minutes later, finishing clinically with his right foot after Sergino Dest had slipped him in.

Gerard Pique somehow failed to add a third from point-blank range and Gavi was unable to lob an advancing Fernandez, who showed great reflexes to tip the lively Depay's header over the crossbar.

Levante were unable to contain Depay and Fernandez diverted his right-footed drive around the post after some shambolic defending.

Teenager Nico Gonzalez, making his first Barca start, flashed a venomous long-range drive wide and Fernandez thwarted Depay yet again.

Sergio Postigo almost turned the impressive Gavi's cross into his own net before Fati was given a great ovation when he came off the bench with 10 minutes to go.

The 18-year-old looked like he had never been away as he spun away from a defender then beat another before finding the back of the net with a right-footed shot from outside the area.

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman believes new signing Luuk de Jong is more dangerous than Neymar from crosses.

LaLiga giants Barca raised eyebrows when they signed Dutch forward de Jong from rivals Sevilla on loan at the end of the transfer window.

De Jong had been linked with a potential return to former club PSV in the Eredivisie and was shunted down to third choice at Sevilla following the signing of Rafa Mir from Wolves.

But late on deadline day, cash-strapped Barca – who already lost superstar Lionel Messi on a free transfer – allowed Antoine Griezmann to depart for Spanish champions Atletico Madrid and the Blaugrana replaced the Frenchman with de Jong on a temporary deal for 2021-22.

Koeman hailed countryman de Jong, who he feels is superior to Paris Saint-Germain star and former Barca forward Neymar in one department.

"When there's a cross coming in, Luuk is more dangerous than Neymar," Koeman told NOS.

"He's a different kind of forward to what we have, and I think all teams should have one like him."

De Jong averaged 1.1 headed shots per 90 minutes in LaLiga last season, a figure bettered by only four strikers (minimum 900 minutes played).

Similarly, just four forwards bettered his 0.36 headed shots on target per 90 minutes as well.

What makes that figure slightly more impressive is the fact Sevilla would not be considered a 'direct' team. According to Opta data, Julen Lopetegui's men only recorded 35 'direct attacks' last season, the second-fewest in the division, whereas Barcelona's 67 was the third-highest.

A direct attack is defined as a sequence that begins just inside the team's own half and has at least 50 per cent of movement towards the opposition's goal and ends with a shot or touch in the box, so while that does not necessarily mean Barca smash long balls to the front man constantly, it does suggest Koeman's setup will provide de Jong with chances to be useful.

Koeman added: "I told the club last year [that I wanted to sign de Jong].

"I wanted to be able to change my forwards. If the game calls for someone like Luuk, then he'll play.

"We lost Antoine Griezmann on the last day of the window and only had three forwards.

"I first made contact with Luuk on August 8 and, even before that, I wondered why Barcelona didn't have a guy like that."

New Barcelona striker Luuk de Jong accepts he is "different" to the club's usual style of striker but pointed out Ronald Koeman knows how to utilise him.

De Jong joined Barca on loan from Sevilla at the end of the transfer window with the Dutchman seen by most as a curious option in many senses.

He had been linked with a potential return to former club PSV and was shunted down to third choice at Sevilla following the signing of Rafa Mir from Wolves.

But late on deadline day, cash-strapped Barca allowed Antoine Griezmann to depart for Atletico Madrid and the Blaugrana replaced the Frenchman with De Jong on a temporary deal for 2021-22.

It is a signing that many Barca fans will have deemed underwhelming given De Jong hardly sparkled previously in LaLiga with Sevilla and his skillset is not one that necessarily lends itself to the club's traditional philosophy of short, sharp passing and fluid, possession-based football.

Indeed, De Jong acknowledged he brings qualities that are seemingly at odds with Barca's past.

"I am tall, I am a good header of the ball," he told Barca TV upon his arrival. "As I already said before, I am a player with a different skillset."

De Jong played under Koeman for the Dutch national team, meaning the coach should feel confident about how to get the best out of his abilities.

"Koeman knows that he can use me in the final minutes when he needs a player that's tall and good with his head," he continued.

"That's the kind of player I am. [But] as I showed in Sevilla, I also have other aspects to my game."

Given the cultural significance of the style of play implemented at Barca, De Jong outlining his strengths suit a direct style of play may not go down too well with certain sections of supporters.

But there is no doubt such a brand of football is likely to ensure De Jong brings more to the table at Camp Nou – after all, he averaged 1.1 headed shots per 90 minutes in LaLiga last term, a figure bettered by only four strikers (minimum 900 minutes played).

Similarly, just four forwards bettered his 0.36 headed shots on target per 90 minutes as well.

 

What makes that figure slightly more impressive is the fact Sevilla would not be considered a 'direct' team. According to Opta data, Julen Lopetegui's men only recorded 35 'direct attacks' last season, the second-fewest in the division, whereas Barcelona's 67 was the third-highest.

A direct attack is defined as a sequence that begins just inside the team's own half and has at least 50 per cent of movement towards the opposition's goal and ends with a shot or touch in the box, so while that does not necessarily mean Barca smash long balls to the front man constantly, it does suggest Koeman's setup will provide De Jong with chances to be useful.

His first such opportunities could even come against Sevilla this weekend.

"I'm not worried," he said. "I'm looking forward to playing with all my team-mates. I'm looking forward to playing against Sevilla, and I hope to win also."

Antoine Griezmann and Saul Niguez were the big names to move late on deadline day, with Atletico Madrid having a busy night.

Griezmann's move to his former club completed a day of outgoings for Barcelona, who sold Emerson Royal and Ilaix Moriba, as well as loaning out Ray Minaj.

Ronald Koeman's Barca did get one player in, however, who will seemingly replace Griezmann in attack.

Barca's LaLiga rivals Real Madrid did not manage to get a mega deal for Kylian Mbappe over the line, despite a reported bid of €200m having been lodged on Tuesday, though Los Blancos did sign Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga.

Cristiano Ronaldo's move back to Manchester United was confirmed early on, but there was plenty of late action in England, too.

 

Another returning king as Chelsea call on Saul

Romelu Lukaku back to Chelsea. Ronaldo back to United. Now, Griezmann has made a return to one of his former clubs, with the 30-year-old re-joining LaLiga champions Atleti on a season-long loan.

There is an option to make the deal permanent for €40million – just the €80million less than Barca paid for the France forward in 2019.

Replacing Griezmann at Barca is Luuk de Jong, with Koeman turning to his compatriot from Sevilla. Messi to De Jong... not quite the end to the window Barca fans would have had in mind.

Saul, meanwhile, is leaving LaLiga. He has joined Chelsea on a loan deal from Atleti, with an option to buy for a reported £30m.

 

No Madrid move for Mbappe... yet

A third Madrid bid for Mbappe was reportedly lodged, and ignored, on Tuesday, as Florentino Perez's obsessive hunt of the Paris Saint-Germain star proved fruitless.

However, Mbappe is out of contract next year, so he may well be a Galactico soon enough.

One player who will be playing in the famous all-white strip this season is teenage midfielder Camavinga, who has joined from Rennes.

As well as keeping Mbappe, PSG added to their squad, completing a stellar transfer window by signing Sporting CP left-back Nuno Mendes to fill what has proved a problem position. Pablo Sarabia went the other way.

In Italy, Milan marked a quiet end to the window overall by confirming the signings of Yacine Adli and Messias Junior.

Inter already had their business done, while Juventus confirmed Moise Kean's return on Tuesday morning. The Bianconeri also signed Mohamed Ihattaren, who was then loaned to Sampdoria.

Ronaldo headlines Premier League moves

The early confirmation of Ronaldo's move back to United being complete was the biggest story of the day in England's top flight. It also paved the way for the Red Devils to sell Daniel James, who moved to Leeds United.

Arsenal blocked Everton's attempts to sign Ainsley Maitland-Niles, though Hector Bellerin did leave the Gunners to head to Real Betis on loan. Mikel Arteta's Gunners completed their record-breaking transfer window (in terms of overall spend) with the acquisition of Japan defender Takehiro Tomiyasu from Bologna. Earlier in the day, Arsenal loaned out Reiss Nelson and Alex Runarsson.

Their north London rivals Tottenham completed the signing of Emerson from Barca, with Serge Aurier's time at Spurs subsequently being brought to an end by the mutual termination of his contract.

Everton's hunt for a right-back was to no avail. The Toffees did bring in Salomon Rondon on a free transfer, handing the forward a two-year deal with an option for a third. James Rodriguez was involved in a mooted part-exchange deal with Porto for Luis Diaz, but the Colombian star is staying put.

Manchester City rounded off their dealings by sending out seven players on loan. Among them was Patrick Roberts, who was one of three players to join Ligue 1 club Troyes.

Wolves were unable to complete deals for Kieffer Moore or Boubacar Kamara. A late offer from Spurs for Adama Traore was reportedly rejected.

Czech Republic midfielder Alex Kral joined West Ham on loan from Spartak Moscow. He was the Hammers' second signing of the day, with Croatia playmaker Nikola Vlasic having arrived early on.

There were two outgoings at Celtic. Scotland international Ryan Christie signed for Bournemouth, while Crystal Palace bought striker Odsonne Edouard for a reported £15m. The Hoops replaced him with Greece forward Giorgos Giakoumakis.

Luuk de Jong will play no further part in Euro 2020 after the Netherlands striker was ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a knee injury.

The Sevilla forward was hurt in training earlier this week following a challenge with Cody Gakpo and Oranje boss Frank de Boer will no longer be able to call on his services.

A statement from the Dutch FA read: "Luuk de Jong is forced to leave the training camp of the Dutch national team. 

"The Sevilla striker injured the inner tube of the knee during training on Tuesday. As a result, the 38-time international can no longer play for the Orange this European Championship."

 

De Jong had only played a bit part thus far for the Dutch, playing 10 minutes as a substitute over the course of the opening two matches against Ukraine and Austria.

However, he has proven a valuable weapon off the bench in the past. Indeed, since making his debut in 2011 no player has registered more than his five goals for the national team as a substitute (level with Memphis Depay).

It marks another injury blow for De Boer, who also lost Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek to a groin issue.

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