Luis Enrique has no interest in replacing Ronald Koeman at Barcelona while he is still under contract as Spain head coach.

Koeman is under growing pressure at Camp Nou following Wednesday's 3-0 defeat to Benfica, which makes it back-to-back defeats for Barca to begin a Champions League campaign for the first time ever.

The Catalan giants have now won just one of their past five matches in all competitions ahead of Saturday's trip to reigning LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid.

According to reports from Spain, Barca chiefs will consider replacing Koeman during the upcoming international break should they fall to another defeat this weekend.

Luis Enrique is rumoured to be one of the club's top choices to take over should Koeman leave, but the former Blaugrana boss intends to serve the rest of his contract with Spain, which is due to expire after the World Cup in December 2022.

Asked if Barcelona president Joan Laporta had contacted him regarding the position, Luis Enrique said: "I don't think he has my phone number.

"I'm a coach here for a second time, and it's my custom to keep my word. I'll be here until my contract ends, for sure.

"Despite my proud history with that club, I don't want to get involved in other people's business."

Luis Enrique, who won nine trophies across a hugely successful three-year spell in charge of Barca, was speaking at a news conference on Thursday after announcing Spain's 23-man squad for the upcoming Nations League Finals.

Spain face European champions Italy in next Wednesday's semi-final at San Siro, with the winners of that match to take on either Belgium or France in the final four days later.

 

The high-profile match in Milan presents La Roja with a chance to exact some revenge following their penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 semi-finals a little under three months ago.

The Azzurri went on to beat England on penalties in the final and have remained unbeaten in their three World Cup qualifiers since that Wembley triumph.

Roberto Mancini's men set a new all-time record of 37 matches without defeat in men's international football with their 5-0 win over Lithuania earlier this month, surpassing the benchmark previously set by Brazil between 1993 and 1996.

"Italy are at their peak and were deserving champions at the Euros," Luis Enrique told reporters. "They have continued with that streak since then, but the day they lose for the first time is near. 

"We were capable of beating them in the tournament, but we didn't. This game will demand a lot from us as they are a team of the highest level, which is where we want to be.

"Whichever players I select on the day, I hope it will be another spectacular game."

Barcelona teenager Gavi has been called up by Spain head coach Luis Enrique for the first time ahead of the upcoming Nations League Finals.

The La Masia product made his senior bow at club level in last month's 2-1 win over Getafe as a second-half substitute and has featured a further five times in all competitions.

At 17 years and 49 days, Gavi became the second-youngest player to make his full debut for the Catalans in last week's stalemate with Cadiz, behind only Ansu Fati (16 years, 318 days).

He is now in line to make his first appearance for Spain in next Wednesday's Nations League semi-final clash with European champions Italy at San Siro, with the winners of that match to face either Belgium or France in the final four days later.

Explaining his decision to call up the youngster, Luis Enrique said at a news conference on Thursday: "I like what I have seen from him. His level has surprised me.

"I have known about him for a long time as he's a player from La Masia. I have no doubt about his future performances.

"With there being players absent I can have a look at others. It's a shame for those who are not with us, but now others can join up.

"Gavi still has to improve, of course, but with and without the ball he can contribute to the side. Seeing what I have seen so far, he will be up to the task.

"It would be risky to put a young player in the side. Perhaps he has been called up too early, but he may still start against Italy. We will see if he can adapt to our side."

While Gavi is preparing to link up with the national side, fellow Barca youngster Fati has not been included by Luis Enrique having only just returned from a serious knee injury.

"It is a joy to see him back, and yes, with him playing again I wanted to bring him back, even if it was not to play and for him to just be with us," Luis Enrique said. 

"We have to put that situation in context, and right now the best option is that he is not with us and that he continues playing and adding minutes for his club."

Gavi is not alone in earning a first call-up to the senior squad as Yeremy is also included after scoring one goal and setting three up for Villarreal in five LaLiga games this term.

Only five players have been directly involved in more goals in the Spanish top flight this term, all but one of whom have played at least one game more.

Chelsea wing-back Marcos Alonso is also part of Luis Enrique's 23-man squad, earning his first call-up in three years, but there is no place for his team-mate Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Luis Enrique has once again overlooked Real Madrid's contingent of players, while Alvaro Morata, Gerard Moreno, Dani Olmo and Raul Albiol are nursing injuries.

Ander Herrera and Brahim Diaz, who have been in good form for Paris Saint-Germain and Milan respectively, are also left out.

 

Spain squad:

David de Gea (Manchester United), Robert Sanchez (Brighton and Hove Albion), Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao); Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Eric Garcia (Manchester City), Gavi (Barcelona), Inigo Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Marcos Alonso (Chelsea), Mikel Merino (Real Sociedad), Pau Torres (Villarreal), Pedro Porro (Sporting CP), Sergio Reguilon (Tottenham); Pedri (Barcelona), Rodri (Manchester City), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona); Ferran Torres (Manchester City), Marcos Llorente (Atletico Madrid), Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad), Pablo Fornals (West Ham), Pablo Sarabia (Sporting CP), Yeremy (Villarreal).

Flamengo will face Copa Libertadores champions Palmeiras in an all-Brazilian final after Bruno Henrique continued his red-hot form in Wednesday's 2-0 victory at Barcelona.

After scoring a brace in the opening leg, Flamengo star Bruno Henrique scored another two goals to set up a comprehensive 4-0 aggregate triumph over the Ecuadorian side.

Flamengo are unbeaten in their last 17 matches in the Libertadores (W12 D5) – the joint-longest undefeated streak of any team in the history of the tournament, alongside Sporting Cristal from 1962 to 1969 (W8 D9).

Two-time South American champions Flamengo – who last prevailed in 2019 – and holders Palmeiras will meet in the Libertadores showpiece on neutral ground in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo on November 27.

Bruno Henrique broke the deadlock in the 18th minute away to Barcelona in Guayaquil – the forward breaking the offside trap before rounding the goalkeeper and finishing into an empty net.

Having provided the assist in the first half, Everton Ribeiro was the provider again for Bruno Henrique five minutes into the second period.

Starting from the goalkeeper, Flamengo navigated Barcelona's high press, keeping the ball before a swift move resulted in Bruno Henrique completing a stunning team move.

Bruno Henrique (16) and team-mate Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa (21) have together scored more than half of Flamengo's goals in the last three editions of the Libertadores (37 of 73).

Sacking Ronald Koeman would be the easy way out for Barcelona, with Sergio Busquets calling on the players to take responsibility for their "critical situation". 

Barcelona were on the receiving end of a 3-0 humbling at the hands of Benfica in the Champions League on Wednesday, meaning they have lost their first two matches of a European campaign for only the second time in their history. 

Darwin Nunez put Benfica in front after just three minutes at the Estadio da Luz and the Uruguayan added a second from the penalty spot after Rafa Silva doubled the Portuguese side's advantage in the second half.

Barca finished the game with 10 men after Eric Garcia was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Goncalo Ramos. The Catalan giants have now lost four of their past five Champions League games, conceding 14 goals in the process. 

Calls for Koeman to be relieved of his duties will surely intensify after another disappointing result, but Busquets believes the fault does not lie solely with him. 

"It's the easiest thing in the world of football [to sack the coach], but the responsibility also belongs to the players. We are in a critical situation," Busquets told Movistar. 

"We have zero points. You have to think about moving upwards because there is no other option. 

"We have to win both games against Dynamo Kiev and see what the other teams do. There is a lot left [to play for] and we have to try to be positive." 

Frenkie de Jong made his 100th Barca appearance in the meeting with Benfica and despite the shock defeat does not think getting rid of Koeman would turn the club's fortunes around. 

"I can't talk about Koeman, it's not for me. I don't think changing the coach can solve anything," he said. 

"We are trying everything, working hard in training. We tried our best on the field but today was not the day, that is clear. 

"We have to keep fighting, be together, overcome this situation because you only escape from situations like this when you work hard and are united as a team.  

"We have lost and we have not scored. We are in a very difficult situation. We have to continue and look forward."

Ronald Koeman believes he retains the backing of Barcelona's players but accepts his future is not in his own hands after the club's embarrassing 3-0 Champions League defeat by Benfica.

Barca followed up their 3-0 matchday one loss to Bayern Munich by an even more humiliating defeat as they left Lisbon on the end of another three-goal defeat on Wednesday.

It means Barca have lost the first two matches of a Champions League campaign for the first time ever and leaves them bottom of Group E.

On top of that, Barca have now lost back-to-back group-stage matches for the first since 2000-01, while Benfica's win equalled their biggest ever in the competition.

Barca have been in turmoil ever since Lionel Messi's departure was confirmed last month and their situation has been exacerbated by the financial issues that had threatened to consume the embattle LaLiga giants for months.

Wednesday's defeat came a matter of hours after LaLiga confirmed Barca's salary cap spending limit for 2021-22 had been cut by €280million to just €97m, only the seventh-highest in Spain's top flight, highlighting the plight they find themselves in.

"I am not going to discuss the level of this team," Koeman told reporters after the Benfica loss.

"Everyone knows what Barca's problem is today. It's not possible to comment on a team that is not the one of past years. For me this is clearer than water.

"I cannot say anything about my future. I feel very supported by my players and their attitude, but I don't know what the club thinks.

"It's not in my hands, and that's why I don't want to answer anything about my future. We will see what happens. I accept the world in which we coaches live."

Barca found themselves 1-0 down in the third minute but created numerous chances to equalise before the break, with Luuk de Jong and Frenkie de Jong wasting glorious opportunities.

According to the expected goals (xG) metric, Barca would ordinarily have expected to score 1.4 goals on Wednesday – while that was still less than Benfica's 1.9, it is evidence of their wastefulness.

But the Portuguese hosts were clinical. Rafa Silva effectively put the game beyond Barca deep into the second half and Darwin Nunez added to his opener with a late penalty to compound the visitors' embarrassment, and Koeman accepted the responsibility.

"In the end, the culprit is the coach," he continued. "I think that during many phases of the game the approach was good.

"I understand that after going 2-0 down we had more problems. But I think we had opportunities to score two goals. We have been inferior in effectiveness, not over the course of the match.

"We are at a time where we have to change many things and there are many people missing. I don't think there's any need to repeat this."

Ronald Koeman reached a new low as Barcelona were beaten 3-0 away to Benfica on Wednesday, making it the first time in Champions League history that the Blaugrana have lost the first two games of a campaign.

Barca were comprehensively beaten 3-0 by Bayern Munich on matchday one and this was every bit as humiliating as the Catalans lost back-to-back group games in a single season for the first time since 2000-01.

A nightmare start quickly gave them an uphill battle as Darwin Nunez put Benfica ahead in the third minute, and although Barca were soon dominating, they were extremely wasteful in front of goal.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen got away with a dreadful error early in the second half but Benfica held firm at the back and eventually seized their opportunity to finish Barca off through Rafa Silva and a late Nunez penalty before Eric Garcia saw red to cap a dreadful night for Koeman.

Garcia offered little resistance as Nunez earned Benfica an early lead, the Uruguayan producing a couple of stepovers before finding the bottom-left corner.

Barca quickly began to dominate in response, but a fantastic Lucas Verissimo block prevented Luuk de Jong from finding an empty net.

Frenkie de Jong was similarly wasteful when prodding a low cross wide from close range, and Pedri – a surprise starter so soon after injury – shot agonisingly past the left-hand post a little later.

Ter Stegen summed up Barca's poor decision-making early in the second half, bizarrely opting to rush out in an attempt to cut out a throughball and was beaten to it, but Nunez could only hit the post.

Luuk de Jong then somehow hit the upright from point-blank range at the other end, though an offside call against Ronald Araujo in the lead up spared his blushes somewhat.

Either way, Barca were made to rue their profligacy.

Silva slammed home from 10 yards after Ter Stegen parried a shot right to him and Nunez made it 3-0 with a cool penalty after Sergino Dest handled, with Garcia's late red card for a cynical tug compounding Barca's embarrassment.

Real Madrid's salary cap spending limits for the 2021-22 season is seven times greater than financially stricken Barcelona's, LaLiga has announced.

Los Blancos have seen their limit boosted by €270million, with Barca's reduced by €280m.

Carlo Ancelotti's side will be capped at just over €739m, but Barca can spend only €97m – with six clubs able to splash more than them.

Reigning champions Atletico Madrid have also been hit, with their limit reduced by €81m from last term, resulting in Diego Simeone's men allowed to spend €171m for the next campaign – the third-highest ceiling in the division.

LaLiga corporate director Jose Guerra suggested to ESPN that Madrid's limit, which is over €500m more than any other LaLiga team, would have left room for them to secure Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, who they attempted to sign last transfer window.

"They [Real Madrid] would have no problem whatsoever," LaLiga corporate director Jose Guerra said to ESPN. "They were ready for [Kylian] Mbappe or any other player."

LaLiga calculates these figures by considering club's earnings, spendings, overheads, losses and debts to encourage sustainability and financial fair play.

 

Barca caused conflict with the league in August when they, along with Madrid and Athletic Bilbao, refused to sign a deal to sell 10 per cent of its business to CVC Capital Partners and later saw Blaugrana legend Lionel Messi leave for PSG because of the club's perilous financial situation.

Players such as Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba responded by agreeing payment deferrals and salary reductions, but Guerra explained the Catalan club's severe decrease is down to losses of almost €500m last season.

"They acknowledge much higher losses than what they had initially estimated, so the impact is greater on their spending limit," Guerra continued.

"If you take the €97m limit and add the losses, around €480m, we're talking about €570m, which would be more normal. So it's more or less stable."

While Barca expect their cap to increase in the following season due to writing off several assets in last year's accounts, Guerra also warned that this was not guaranteed as LaLiga consider past losses moving forward.

Sevilla have the second largest kitty, capped at €200m, with Villarreal (€159m), Real Sociedad (€127m) and Athletic Bilbao (€111m) making up the top six.

However, Valencia – who won LaLiga in 2003-04 – have the smallest limit, with their spending reduced to just €31m, which is a €71m fall from the previous year.

Youri Tielemans has not yet committed his long-term future to Leicester City.

Tielemans is only contracted with the Foxes until the end of the 2022-23 season.

And Leicester may consider selling their FA Cup final hero at the end of this season if they cannot strike a new deal.

 

TOP STORY – SPANISH GIANTS KEEN ON TIELEMANS

Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid are circling for Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans, reports The Athletic.

The 24-year-old Belgium international publicly said he is "keeping his options open" as he negotiates a new Leicester deal.

Barcelona and Madrid would be interested in Tielemans, who has also been linked with Liverpool, should he become available next off-season.

 

ROUND-UP

– Football Insider reports Tottenham are still planning to sell Dele Alli, although they will wait until the end of this season. Spurs are hoping Alli's value will rise throughout the season to land a significant transfer fee.

– Everton are considering moves for Real Madrid pair Isco and Luka Jovic in January on six-month loan deals, according to Defensa Central.

– Liverpool are keeping an eye on Porto's Colombian star Luis Diaz, reports The Independent, with the two sides having met in the Champions League on Tuesday.

– Juventus have joined Chelsea in showing interest in Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, claims the Daily Mail.

– Newcastle attacker Allan Saint-Maximin has interest from Chelsea and Liverpool, according to the Express.

Manchester United need points to get their Champions League campaign going, and doing so by getting revenge for their Europa League final shoot-out loss to Villarreal would be a moment to enjoy for the Old Trafford fans.

When it comes to established elite needing results, United are not alone. Barcelona head to Benfica looking to banish thoughts of that humbling home loss to Bayern Munich on matchday one, while Massimiliano Allegri could use a strong performance against strong opposition when Chelsea visit Juventus.

Bayern themselves host Dynamo Kiev, as Mircea Lucescu looks to fare a little better than the last time he took a team to the Allianz Arena.

Read on for more as Stats Perform looks at the key Opta facts ahead of Wednesday's Champions League action.

 

Benfica v Barcelona: Can Memphis Depay breathe life back into Catalans?

Barcelona's 3-0 loss to Bayern Munich on matchday one was the first time in at least 186 Champions League matches in which they did not attempt a single shot on target.

Memphis Depay did not manage a shot of any kind, something he had never before experienced when starting a game in this competition. However, with two goals in his previous two games against Benfica, he could be the man to get Barca firing in Lisbon.

Benfica have not beaten Barcelona since the European Cup final in 1961, but if they do manage to pile more pressure on Ronald Koeman with a victory, it will mark the first time the Blaugrana have lost their opening two games of the season in Europe since 1972-73, when they lost twice to Porto.

Bayern Munich v Dynamo Kiev: More unhappy memories beckon for Lucescu

The Allianz Arena was the scene of Lucescu's heaviest Champions League defeat: his Shakhtar Donetsk side lost 7-0 to Bayern Munich in March 2015.

Having failed to score in seven of their previous 11 games in this competition, it is hard to expect Dynamo to stop Bayern from claiming what would be a 33rd home win out of their most recent 35 in the group stages.

In fact, across the past three seasons, Bayern have won the most games (20) and scored the most goals (73) of any team in the tournament. In 14 of their 22 games in that time, they have netted at least three goals.

 

Juventus v Chelsea: Bianconeri out to keep up king-slayer tradition

Juventus have won seven matches against the holders in this competition's history, a figure only Real Madrid can beat (11 wins). They also beat Chelsea 3-0 in their previous meeting back in the 2012-13 group stage.

Still, Chelsea have only lost three of their past 32 group games and none of their most recent 12. Thomas Tuchel's 68 per cent win ratio is bettered by only two men among managers to take charge of 20 or more group games: Pep Guardiola (71 per cent) and Jupp Heynckes (73 per cent).

The last time Juve hosted an English team in the Champions League, Jose Mourinho's Manchester United snatched a 2-1 win in November 2018. Massimiliano Allegri's side have never lost consecutive home games to English opponents.

 

Manchester United v Villarreal: Goals at last in Europa League final repeat?

All five previous European meetings between Manchester United and Villarreal have ended in draws. The first four did not even see a goal scored – it's the most played Champions League match never to see a goal – while the Europa League final last season finished 1-1, with the LaLiga side winning 11-10 on penalties.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the only manager to take charge of 10 or more Champions League matches at an English club and lose more than half of them (he's lost seven out of 11). Should they suffer defeat at Old Trafford, it will mark the first time in history they have ever lost their first two European games of a season.

If he plays, Cristiano Ronaldo will break Iker Casillas' record of 177 Champions League appearances. However, he has failed to score in four games against Villarreal in the competition – only against Lille and Benfica has he played as many times without finding the net.

Other fixtures:

Atalanta v Young Boys

30 – Atalanta's 30 Champions League goals have all been scored by non-Italians. They have netted more goals without any coming from a player of the nationality of the club he's representing in Champions League history. Young Boys have scored six times in the competition, but none has come from a Swiss player.

17 – David Wagner's side had 17 more shots than Manchester United in their opening-round win (19 vs 2). The last time a coach saw his team have that many more attempts than their opponents in his first game in charge was when Hansi Flick's Bayern Munich had 27 shots to Olympiacos' three in November 2019.

Zenit v Malmo

1 – Zenit have only taken one point from their previous eight group-stage matches and have lost four of their past seven home games in European competition.

8 – No team faced more shots on target than Malmo on matchday one of this campaign (eight against Juventus), while their xG against total of 3.5 was the most of any team in the opening round.

Salzburg v Lille

40 – This will be Lille's 40th Champions League match. They only won six of their first 39 - only Dinamo Zagreb (five) and FCSB (four) have ever won fewer than eight of their first 40 games in the competition.

35 – Although 10 of Salzburg's starting XI against Sevilla last time out were aged 24 or younger, they also included 35-year-old Andreas Ulmer, who was two years and 158 days older than his coach, Matthias Jaissle. It's the first time a player has been over two years older than their manager in a Champions League match since Naldo for Schalke in December 2018 under Domenico Tedesco (three years and two days older).

Wolfsburg v Sevilla

3.7 – Wolfsburg's previous six games against Spanish opponents in European competition have seen a total of 22 goals scored (11 for, 11 against), at an average of 3.7 per game.

7 – Sevilla are unbeaten in their past seven away games in this competition (W3 D4), their longest ever unbeaten run away from home in the European Cup/Champions League. They last suffered defeat on the road in October 2017, losing 5-1 away to Spartak Moscow.

Ronald Koeman insisted Barcelona's Champions League visit to Benfica could not be classed as decisive in the early stages of Group E.

Barca endured a tough start to the Champions League against Bayern Munich, failing to attempt a shot on target for the first time in the competition since Opta records began in 2003-04.

The Catalan club are looking to avoid losing their first two matches in a European campaign for only the second time in their history, having previously lost both legs of their UEFA Cup first-round tie with Porto way back in 1972-73.

However, Koeman was in confident mood ahead of the trip to Portugal after crushing Levante 3-0 on Sunday, while shunning claims that Wednesday's tie was a must-win.

"Impossible, it is the second of six, it cannot be decisive," Koeman initially responded to reporters on Tuesday before outlining his intentions.

"Barcelona always plays to win the game. Our intention is to control, have the ball and look for spaces with the players we have.

"We expect a difficult game. I know the atmosphere that can be in the stadium and the strength that [Benfica] have at home.

"They play at home, and they will have the environment in their favour, they will try attack to win. It is not a team that plays not to lose. And we have the same intention at home or away, to take control of the game to win."

Koeman remained secretive as to whether the recovering Ansu Fati, who has now been involved in 17 goals in 44 appearances across all competitions following his strike against Levante, would feature.

Memphis Depay has scored in his past two games against Benfica in the competition, and he is expected to lead the line once more, though he did not attempt a single shot on matchday one against Bayern.

Whoever Koeman selects up top, Blaugrana centre-back Ronald Araujo is backing his side to compete and challenge for titles in both the Champions League and LaLiga this term.

"We are Barcelona, and we have to aspire to all the titles," Araujo told reporters.

"We cannot go to see what happens, we have to go to win and try to win as many titles as we can.

"It's an important game against a great rival, but we are going to win. We come from a great game at the weekend and I think that's the way to go. We have to go for the three points."

Manchester United are in the market for a midfielder. 

With a long-rumoured target looking unlikely, United are shifting their gaze from one England midfielder to another. 

Could they prise another up-and-coming star from Leeds United? 

 

TOP STORY – UNITED SHIFT SIGHTS TO PHILLIPS

Kalvin Phillips is Manchester United's latest target in an effort to shore up the midfield, the Daily Star reports. 

The Leeds star has gained favour at Old Trafford as United have given up hopes of adding West Ham's Declan Rice thanks to his reported £90million price tag.

Phillips, 25, is under contract at Elland Road through 2024 and reportedly is valued at £60m. 

 

ROUND-UP

– Barcelona are still in pursuit of Matthijs de Ligt and are prepared to offer Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Memphis Depay to Juventus in a deal for the Netherlands defender, who is valued at €75m, according to Calciomercato.

– Franck Kessie has turned down Milan's latest contract offer and is eyeing a move to the Premier League, 90min reports, with United and Liverpool said to be interested. 

– Juan Mata is considering a move away from Old Trafford in January due to a lack of playing time this season, the Manchester Evening News reports. 

– Everton are considering loan deals with Real Madrid for Isco and Luka Jovic, claims Defensa Central.

– West Brom teen Reyes Cleary is drawing attention from Borussia Dortmund and Hoffenheim, says the Daily Mail. 

– Steven Nzonzi is nearing a move from Roma to Al Rayyan, Calciomercato reports. 

UEFA has abandoned its disciplinary case against the three rebel Super League clubs, declaring the proceedings "null and void". 

European football's governing body announced in May it was opening a case against Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus for a "potential violation" of its legal framework amid their continued support for the Super League project. 

The case was paused in June until further notice following a ruling from a Madrid court and has now been closed by UEFA's independent appeals body. 

UEFA also said it would not request payments from the nine other clubs that withdrew from the project. Potential fines and a collective €15million "goodwill fund" formed part of the agreement announced in May that saw Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Inter, Milan and Atletico Madrid rejoin UEFA competitions. 

On Monday, UEFA said in a statement: "UEFA understands why the disciplinary proceedings are declared null and void. UEFA has always acted in good faith and reasonably understood that the decision by its independent disciplinary body, the UEFA Appeals Body, to suspend the disciplinary proceedings was in full compliance with the Court Orders of the Madrid Commercial Court No. 17, and given that the three mentioned clubs have since been admitted to UEFA club competitions. 

"UEFA maintains its view that it has always acted in accordance with not only its statutes and regulations, but also with EU law, the European Convention on Human Rights and Swiss law in connection with the so-called Super League project. UEFA remains confident in and will continue to defend its position in all the relevant jurisdictions. 

"In relation with the Club Commitment Declarations UEFA received in May 2021 from nine of the 12 clubs that acted as founders of the so-called European Super League project, and with which such nine clubs had informed UEFA of their unilateral decisions to withdraw from the so-called Super League project, UEFA has informed the nine clubs that in view of the pending Court proceedings in Madrid, and to avoid any unnecessary complication, UEFA will not request payment of any of the amounts offered in the May Declarations of the clubs, as long as the Court proceedings in Madrid involving, among others, UEFA are pending." 

Barca, Madrid and Juve have refused to renounce the Super League despite the intense backlash from the football world that prompted the nine other clubs to withdraw from the plans. 

Bianconeri president Andrea Agnelli wrote to club shareholders to describe the Super League as a means of "guaranteeing stability for the football industry". 

Agnelli said it was "a new meritocratic paradigm and a return to the fundamentals of cost control and transparency". 

Pep Guardiola freely admitted he has no master plan in mind to contain Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe when Manchester City meet Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.

Assuming Messi is fit to feature, this match will be the first time he has gone up against his former boss Guardiola since the six-time Ballon d'Or winner departed Barcelona in August.

Although Messi was handed his Barca breakthrough by Frank Rijkaard, it was under Guardiola that he truly established himself among the best in the world.

He featured 47 times for Guardiola in the Champions League, 18 more than for any other coach, and scored 43 times at an average of one every 92 minutes — among managers he has played more than two games for in the competition, he has only netted with greater frequency under Tata Martino (79 minutes per goal, seven matches).

Of course, this will not be the first time Messi has faced a Guardiola team — he boasts an impressive record haul of six goals in four games against his former mentor, including a hat-trick when Barca beat City 4-0 back in October 2016.

"This type of player speaks for himself on the pitch," Guardiola told a news conference on Monday. "I don't have to add anything else.

"We are fortunate to see him in his 15, 16 years… I don't know how many years since he turned professional.

"He speaks for himself. I don't have to talk about him. What he's done in his career is more than exceptional and hopefully tomorrow he can play for the good of the game.

"[Messi leaving Barca] was a surprise for everyone, but it happened and everyone accepts it.

"A long time ago or even few years ago you couldn't imagine it, but you never know what happens. I'm pretty sure he'll be happy there in Paris."

Messi has got off to a slow start in France, with a late arrival due to the Copa America delaying his debut and then the first international break of the season interrupted his settling-in period. He also missed the win over Montpellier due to a minor knee knock.

As such, he has played just three times for PSG and is yet to score, but Guardiola knows all too well what Messi is capable of and believes Mauricio Pochettino's front three have the talent to be up there with the best attacks he has faced.

"Yes, they have the quality," Guardiola said when asked if PSG's frontline could challenge Jurgen Klopp's Premier League-winning Liverpool attack and Luis Enrique's famed 'MSN' strikeforce.

"Both teams you mention had incredible players up front and good organisation and I think the manager from PSG can do it. The players they have upfront is the level of the previous teams I mentioned, of course they can do it.

"Football needs time, normally the people of football don't give it to us, but of course the qualities of the players… For many years PSG always have top players, being conducted by top, top managers, that's why always in the league, cups, Europe, they are there.

"We know exactly how difficult it is, maybe the most difficult, but at the same time we try to do our game knowing how good they are individually and collectively."

Pressed on whether he had an idea of how to stop Messi, Neymar and Mbappe, Guardiola said with a resigned chuckle: "I don't know, with this amount of quality I don't know what we should do to stop them.

"Honestly, they're so good. This amount of talent altogether to be controlled, it's so difficult. We try to defend well when we don't have the ball and try to let them run when we have the ball.

"They're exceptional players, everyone knows it. Individually they are so good, they can combine and connect with each other.

"The three players up front they can do whatever they want, play wide, narrow, one right and one left, they can combine well and have the quality.

"The talent cannot be stopped — we have to do it as a team. Individually we cannot put the pressure on one player to solve the skills and talents they have.

"We have to be compact, together and help each other, know we are going to suffer and be in pain, and how you handle the pain in these moments…you have to be able to suffer for 90 minutes."

Is the end nigh for Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Old Trafford?
 
Wan-Bisakka joined Manchester United in a big-money deal in 2019 but the Red Devils are reportedly ready to replace the Englishman.
 
A talented RB Leipzig defender could be the team's next right-back.

 

TOP STORY – NEW RIGHT-BACK SET FOR OLD TRAFFORD?

Manchester United are eyeing RB Leipzig right-back Nordi Mukiele, according Fichajes.net.

United are reportedly keen to sign a replacement after losing patience with Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is believed to be interested in Leipzig's 23-year-old star Mukiele.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Milan and Juventus are interested in United States and Dallas sensation Ricardo Pepi. The 18-year-old has also been linked with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

- Inter are willing to let Alexis Sanchez leave the Serie A champions, reports Calciomercato. Marseille, Real Betis and Sevilla are among the possible options for the 32-year-old Chilean.

Tottenham are weighing up a move for Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins, per Fichajes. It comes amid continued uncertainty over Spurs star Harry Kane, who has been linked with Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus as well as United.

 

Ansu Fati says Barcelona are aiming to triumph in LaLiga and the Champions League this season after making a goalscoring return to action against Levante on Sunday.

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.

Luuk de Jong had earlier 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.

It was the first time since March 2009 that two different Dutch players had scored in the same LaLiga game, Arjen Robben and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar last doing so for Real Madrid against Athletic Bilbao.

It has been a difficult start to the season for Barca following the shock departure of club icon Lionel Messi, with coach Ronald Koeman's position the subject of intense scrutiny.

Fati, though, is expecting big things from the Catalan giants this season.

"We are Barca, we are going for LaLiga and the Champions League and all the competitions we are in," he told Movistar.

"All the teams want to win everything, but we are Barca and we have to fight for it."

Fati only returned to training last month after undergoing three operations following his knee injury in November 2020.

Despite inheriting Messi's number 10 shirt in that period, Fati says he feels no pressure following in the Argentinian's footsteps.

"I am proud to be able to wear it after Leo," he added. "I want to thank the club and the captains for giving me the opportunity to wear it.

"It is not a pressure but I am grateful for wearing this number that has given a lot to this club."

Barca's assistant coach Alfred Schreuder oversaw matters on the pitch on Sunday with Koeman suspended from the touchline, and the Dutchman was delighted with the reception afforded to Fati by the Camp Nou faithful.

"The reaction of the stadium was evident, we know that he is a player who generates chances out of nowhere," he said. 

"We knew he could play for 15 minutes and this is the first step. We know that he is an excellent player, but also that he has been absent for a long time."

Barca are next in action against Benfica in the Champions League on Wednesday.

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