Borussia Dortmund's England international Jude Bellingham has been in Germany more than 12 months.

He has regularly been linked with moves back to England, having impressed in the Bundesliga.

Liverpool had a quiet transfer period, with only French defender Ibrahima Konate signed.

TOP STORY - LIVERPOOL TO LAUNCH RECORD BELLINGHAM DEAL

Liverpool will launch a record £80million (€93m) deal to secure central midfielder Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund claims the Daily Star.

The report says the England international is Reds manager Jurgen Klopp's top transfer target.

Theproposed deal would make 18-year-old Bellingham the club's most expensive ever signing.

 

ROUND-UP

- Real Madrid have joined Manchester United and Barcelona in the race to sign Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans according to AS. The current contract of the 24-year-old Belgium international expires in 2023.

- Leicester City's Senegal midfielder Nampalys Mendy will join Istanbul giants Galatasaray on loan before the Turkish transfer window closes, reports Foot Mercato. Mendy, who has been on international duty, will rush to Turkey to complete the deal.

- Le10Sport reports that veteran Brazilian free agent David Luiz is set to ignore options with Marseille and Salernitana and instead return to his homeland.

- Roma will make another move for Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Denis Zakaria in January after missing out on him during the most recent transfer window reports Corriere dello Sport.

Luis Enrique has reiterated he would love to see Pep Guardiola take over as Spain coach in the future.

Former Barcelona coach Guardiola suggested last month that he wishes to try his hand in international football after leaving Manchester City.

Guardiola's City deal runs until 2023, and while he plans to take a break whenever his time at the Premier League club is up, he also wants to experience coaching a national team.

Luis Enrique helped continue the legacy his former team-mate built at Camp Nou and said he would have no issues in standing aside for Guardiola.

In fact, it is something Luis Enrique wants to see.

"I'd love that, I wish [Guardiola] was the Spain coach. I'd love it – it would be perfect," he enthused in a news conference ahead of Spain's World Cup qualifier against Kosovo.

"What's more, I'd love to see our national team with his stamp on them.

"I don't think Spain could have a better coach."

Spain have not had it all their own way in qualification but nevertheless sit top of Group B after they bounced back from a 2-1 loss to Sweden by thrashing Georgia 4-0.

The Euro 2020 semi-finalists only hold a one-point advantage over Sweden, however, having played two games more.

As was the case for the Euros, Luis Enrique again did not select any Real Madrid players in his latest squad, though he played a straight bat when pressed on his decision on Tuesday.

"My actions speak louder than words [with regards to Real Madrid players]," he said.

"I could only dig myself a hole with an explanation."

Are three stars set for Real Madrid?

Madrid have long been linked with soon-to-be free agent Kylian Mbappe, who reportedly wants to leave PSG for the Santiago Bernabeu.

In-demand forward Erling Haaland and Paul Pogba are also believed to be targets of the Spanish powerhouse.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE, HAALAND AND POGBA WANTED IN MADRID

Real Madrid are eyeing Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, according to Marca.

Madrid tried to sign Mbappe before the transfer deadline but the LaLiga giants are expected to reignite their interest at the end of the season, when the PSG star is set to become a free agent.

It could be a busy off-season at the Santiago Bernabeu, where Haaland and Pogba are also wanted.

Haaland has been linked with United, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Barcelona, while Pogba is reportedly wanted by PSG and Juve.

 

ROUND-UP

- FootMercato claims PSG have started their pursuit of Milan star Franck Kessie, who is also reportedly attracting interest from Tottenham. Kessie is out of contract at the end of the season.

Inter could target Chelsea full-back Marcos Alonso to replace soon-to-be free agents Aleksandar Kolarov and Ivan Perisic, per Calciomercato. The Serie A champions have also been linked with Eintracht Frankfurt's Filip Kostic.

Bayern face competition from Barca and Liverpool for Salzburg forward Karim Adeyemi, says Bild.

Gerard Pique believes Josep Maria Bartomeu was among the worst presidents in Barcelona's history.

Bartomeu held the post from January 2014 until his resignation in October last year, courting controversy along the way.

His exit was forced amid the threat of a no-confidence vote as Barca lurched from one setback to the next on and off the field.

Barca won the treble in Bartomeu's first year in charge, yet things gradually began to unravel over the course of his tenure. 

Lionel Messi had made clear his desire to leave before eventually sealing a move to Paris Saint-Germain, while Pique is one of several players who have taken a pay cut to ease the Camp Nou club's perilous financial situation.

With questionable head coach appointments added into the mix, it is clear Pique does not think too highly of the job Bartomeu did.

"I can't say if he is the worst," Pique told comedy show La Sotana.

"From what I have experienced, he must be [up] there. We are all guilty, but it is true that the club have not gone where all the Catalans want.

"Now I am hopeful and excited. The next five or 10 years will be very good for Barcelona."

Pique also leapt to the defence of fellow defender Samuel Umtiti, who has come under fire for his refusal to leave as part of the club's intended cost-cutting exercise.

"He is fulfilling the contract with all obligations," said Pique.

"People have to be empathetic. The attitude is impeccable. He has never missed a training session. Another thing is who signed the contract, a president who was voted in by the members.

"Why shall we whistle at him? Most people have been in a company for 30 years and do nothing. If I were at another club, for example [Manchester] United, I would be doing the same as Umtiti. Every situation is different. I only ask people to be empathetic."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has insisted Lionel Messi could not have remained at Camp Nou, even with Antoine Griezmann leaving and the club's captains reducing their wages amid mounting debt.

Barca's financial issues – the LaLiga giants' debt has risen to €1.35billion – led to the shock departure of superstar Messi to Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.

Gerard Pique accepted a substantial pay cut and fellow captains Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto followed suit to ensure the likes of Sergio Aguero could be registered for the new season, while Griezmann completed a sensational return to Atletico Madrid on deadline day.

However, six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi remaining at Camp Nou was impossible, according to Laporta.

"What happened is what has been explained," Laporta told Esport3. "There are objective data. Everyone can compare. We were pressured that we would either sign the CVC loan [deal] or there is no fair play.

"There was no margin. There was a pre-agreement and we had shaken hands. There were several agreements and LaLiga seemed to accept it, but then they said no without CVC. We didn't think that the situation was going to improve and we put an end to it.

"Messi could not have stayed even with Griezmann's [departure] and with the salary reduction of the captains. But it is important that we have lowered the salary cap because next year we can be more ambitious.

"I think we were both sad because the situation was not what we wanted. I have not spoken with Messi since. I saw his debut with PSG and it was strange to see him at another team, rivals. I did not like seeing him in another shirt."

Laporta added: "The reduction [of the expenditure] is important – we have gone from 110 to 80 per cent. I want to congratulate the executives and the financial department of Barcelona for their work, and all those who have worked tirelessly and extraordinarily.

"And we have some heroes in Pique, Alba, Busquets, and we will seal [the deal with] Sergi Roberto.

"What they have done is admirable. They are committed to the club, to the members. It is admirable. And we will continue with other players, such as [Samuel] Umtiti and others from the first team. We are in a process that is not easy.

"First the captains have set an example, and now we will continue with others."

Ronald Koeman's Barca have made an unbeaten start to the 2021-22 campaign, winning two of their opening three LaLiga fixtures to be level on seven points with leaders Real Madrid, Sevilla, Valencia, Atletico and Mallorca.

"I like Koeman," said Laporta. "We won the game against Getafe. They are not easy games."

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus continue to "twist narratives" and "shout at the sky" by pursuing the Super League, Nasser Al-Khelaifi has said.

The Paris Saint-Germain president was appointed as chairman of the European Club Association (ECA) in April amid the fall-out from the proposed plans by 12 of the continent's biggest clubs to form a breakaway competition.

Al-Khelaifi replaced Andrea Agnelli, the Juventus president who left the ECA after the Serie A club committed to the Super League, a project with which PSG were not involved.

Nine of the 'founder' clubs withdrew from the plans following huge backlash from fans, but Barca, Madrid and Juve have continued to back the plans as a means to protect the future of European football.

Speaking at the ECA general assembly on Monday, Al-Khelaifi said: "I will not spend much time talking about the 18th of April, and the 'not-so-Super League', because I do not like to focus on fabulists and failures.

"Together, we defended the interests of European football for everyone – for the players, the clubs, the leagues, the national associations, and most of all, the fans. We relied on the resolve and strength of president [Aleksander] Ceferin, who stood up to the midnight coup – and people with short memories should remember that this is exactly what it was.

"And while the three rebel-clubs waste energies, twist narratives and continue to shout at the sky, the rest of us are moving forward and focusing every energy on building a better future for European football – together as one.

"As you know, for the nine clubs who asked to come back into our family, the ECA board has re-integrated them into our structures with renewed commitments to strengthen our association. I welcome them back to the ECA family."

Al-Khelaifi also announced a five-point plan from the ECA to "repair and strengthen European football", with financial safeguards a priority amid the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The ECA intends to create a debt fund alongside UEFA to help clubs in their recovery, while Financial Fair Play measures are set to be changed, with reports suggesting a salary cap could be introduced.

"The first priority is to bring urgent financial stability to European football," said Al-Khelaifi. "Even before COVID, many financial problems affected football. However, the pandemic has magnified them all. We are all facing this new COVID reality today – every single club is feeling the pain; big clubs and small clubs, from all parts of Europe.

"During the two pandemic seasons, there has been billions of losses in revenues in European football – and we are not through the woods this season either. If we don't act soon, the damage will be impossible to reverse.

"The ECA is working hand-in-hand with UEFA to put in place a multi-billion euro debt fund to allow clubs of all tiers to accelerate their recovery from the financial devastation of COVID. We know the need from our members is significant, and we have fought strongly for this project.

"I would like all of your support so we can quickly put the closing elements in place with UEFA. We can then provide simple and fast support to help overcome the liquidity crisis that is still engulfing our clubs and the communities they support.

"In addition, as we look to avoid financial trouble in the future beyond the COVID crisis, an emergency UEFA-ECA fund for future crises is being examined.

"Further, the ECA has also championed a separate initiative to re-distribute around €50million per year more of solidarity money for the benefit of smaller clubs not participating in European club competition. Smaller clubs need this extra money. This is what I mean by saying the ECA represents the interests of all.

"Finally, new Financial Fair Play regulations will be put in place with the objective for European club football to remain at the pinnacle of sport and entertainment, but while also ensuring a stable, sustainable, inclusive and competitive football pyramid."

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."

Could a Premier League return be on the cards for Leroy Sane?

Sane swapped Manchester City for Bayern Munich in 2020, however, it has not gone according to plan in his native Germany.

Chelsea are reportedly trying to lure Sane back to England.

 

TOP STORY – SANE TO MAKE ENGLAND RETURN?

Chelsea are keen to sign Leroy Sane from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, according to the Express.

Sane left Manchester City for Bayern in 2020 but the Germany international has struggled for form in Munich.

Champions League holders Chelsea – led by German boss Thomas Tuchel – are reportedly targeting Sane and are willing to include Callum Hudson-Odoi, Hakim Ziyech or Christian Pulisic in any deal.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United could target Inter midfielder Marcelo Brozovic in January, per Manchester Evening News. Brozovic is nearing the end of his Inter contract, with Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona also among the Croatia international's admirers. The report has also linked United with Barca's Pedri and Borussia Monchengladbach forward Dennis Zakaria, who has been previously linked to City and Inter.

Liverpool are continuing contract talks with star Mohamed Salah, says the Liverpool Echo, which claims Salah is not asking for £500,000 per week, despite previous reports. Salah has been linked with Real Madrid and Barcelona previously.

Franck Ribery is set to join Serie A newcomers Salernitana on a free transfer, according to Fabrizio Romano. The former Bayern and France star has been without a club since leaving Fiorentina at the end of 2020-21.

- Corriere dello Sport claims Roma are hoping to sign Zenit star Sardar Azmoun on a free transfer at the end of the season.

- The front page of Monday's Tuttosport claims Inter are eyeing soon-to-be free agents Lorenzo Insigne of Napoli and Bayern midfielder Corentin Tolisso. Insigne has previously been linked with Milan and Liverpool, while the likes of United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Roma have been credited with interest in Tolisso.

- Calciomercato reports Inter are considering Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana as a long-term replacement for Samir Handanovic.

Spain captain Sergio Busquets has expressed his concerns at FIFA's proposals to hold the men's and women's World Cups every two years. 

The men's World Cup has taken place every four years since the inaugural edition in 1930, aside from in 1942 or 1946 due to the Second World War, while the women's World Cup has followed suit since it was first staged in 1991. 

Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has been campaigning for the change in his role as the governing body's chief of global football development. 

Meanwhile, the FIFA congress in May saw a vote go heavily in favour of carrying out a feasibility study into the project. 

On Friday, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said the European governing body had "serious reservations and grave concerns" surrounding the concept. 

Busquets has supported those views, expressing his concern for the potential impact the change would have on players. 

"We have little voice. Less and less is looked at by the player," the Barcelona midfielder said. 

"There will come a time when the player is going to explode. I see it as very difficult.  

"You have to sit down and value it. You have to see it from many points of view, not just wanting more." 

Miralem Pjanic accused Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman of disrespecting him after departing the LaLiga club for Turkish champions Besiktas.

Barca outcast and Bosnia-Herzegovina international Pjanic will spend the season on loan with Besiktas following one poor campaign at Camp Nou.

Pjanic arrived at Barca in 2020 for a reported initial fee of €60million in a peculiar swap deal that saw Arthur go the other way to Juventus for an estimated €72m, but he failed to convince and fell down the pecking order in the second half of 2020-21.

After being frozen out by Koeman at Barca, Pjanic reflected on his time with the Spanish giants.

"The coach, yes," Pjanic told Marca when asked if he was respected at Barca.

"I couldn't get used to the situation I faced last year. I knew I didn't want it. I'm a player. I love playing football, this is what makes me happy.

"I always wanted to play for Barca but I didn't expect the situation to get so complicated. 

"There was a point that I was playing less, things were getting complicated. And when I played it was difficult physically and mentally to be well, because it was killing my confidence, because I had no communication with [Koeman]. 

"It was very strange, because a coach is the one who says who plays and who doesn't, but there are different ways to do things. I am a player who can accept everything but I would always like to be told things face to face. Not as if nothing happened and I was 15 years old."

Pjanic played 30 games across all competitions but only 13 were starts, with just four of those coming after the turn of the year as Ronald Koeman's lack of faith became ever clearer.

He did not score or assist a single goal all season, making him the only outfield player who played at least 170 minutes for the club last term to not have one goal involvement.

Pressed on what he thought the reason for Koeman's snub was, Pjanic added: "I've honestly asked myself a lot of times, wondering what I did wrong. Maybe he didn't like that I said I wanted to play more public.

"But any coach would say 'okay, this is a competition and I like to hear that'. That might be it, but I'd have liked him to tell me to my face that I wasn't for him. It didn't exist though and I don't understand him. It's complicated because it's the first time it's happened to me and I've never seen behaviour like that before."

Asked if he regretted joining Barca from Juve, Pjanic said: "No, never. Things happen in life, and I've always fought through my career. I'm ambitious, competitive, I've reached the level of Barcelona and Juventus.

"I know I can play for those teams, I just wasn't given a chance."

Lionel Messi will win the Champions League with Paris Saint-Germain before retiring at Barcelona, according to former team-mate Juan Roman Riquelme.

Messi joined the Ligue 1 giants on a two-year deal last month following the conclusion of his contract with Barca, making his debut as a substitute in their 2-0 victory over Reims.

While PSG have dominated French football over the past decade – winning seven Ligue 1 titles, as well as the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue on six occasions apiece in that time – the Champions League crown has continued to elude them.

Riquelme, who played alongside Messi for club and country, believes his ex-team-mate will provide the missing piece of the jigsaw in PSG's quest for continental glory.

But at the same time, the former midfielder does not think Messi's story at Barcelona is over just yet.

 

"Messi is the best because he likes to play ball," said the Boca Juniors vice-president, who won Olympic gold for Argentina alongside Messi in 2008.

"If PSG don't win the Champions League now with Messi, they don't win it anymore.

"I'm sure Messi is going to win the Champions League with Paris and retire with Barcelona."

Emerson Royal feels "hurt" by the way he was forced out of Barcelona after the defender completed a move to Tottenham.

The full-back joined Spurs in a deal worth £21.5million (€25m) on transfer deadline day, signing a five-year contract.

Emerson's move came just under three months after Barca exercised the option to sign him from Real Betis, where he had spent the past two and a half years.

The 22-year-old started in the 2-1 LaLiga win at Getafe last weekend and feels he has been poorly treated by the cash-strapped Catalan giants.

"It hurts me to go out like this because I knew that in my best form I could bring a lot of joy to the fans," he told Marca. "I leave with the feeling that one day I will return to give that joy to the fans."

Asked if he felt used by Barca, he replied: "Used is not the word, but it did hurt me. They could have done things differently. There were better ways to fix things."

Emerson revealed he was told on Monday the club were planning to sell him.

He said: "I thought the club wanted me to stay. I played on Sunday as a starter, the next day I woke up and went to train. 

"There I already began to see that a lot of things were coming out; that Tottenham were talking to Barcelona, ​​that they had almost done it... I didn't understand anything about what was happening because I didn't know anything. 

"In the afternoon the club called me to go to the Ciudad Deportiva because they wanted to talk to me and there, I found out that they wanted to sell me.

"I met the leaders of the club. They began to tell me that the club's situation was not good, that it was going through a difficult time and that it was better for them to sell. 

"I repeated to them that my intention was to stay because I had the dream of playing here and contributing things to Barcelona. 

"I knew that if I was in my best shape I was going to succeed here. I am smart and there came a time when I realised that they were definitely telling me to go. They were kicking me out with very good words."

Emerson played the most minutes of any Betis player in all competitions last season (3,186).

He ranked second at Betis for recoveries (163), third for chances created from open play (30) and second for successful duels (246).

Barcelona have finally managed to offload Miralem Pjanic as the Bosnia-Herzegovina international joined Besiktas on loan after one poor season in LaLiga.

Pjanic arrived at Camp Nou in 2020 for a reported initial fee of €60million in a peculiar swap deal that saw Arthur go the other way to Juventus for an estimated €72m.

While most saw the exchange as bizarre on Barca's part, even with Arthur becoming an unpopular figure among supporters, football finance experts at the time outlined that the deal would potentially benefit both clubs in terms of their accounting.

But ultimately that proved to be about as far as the positives went for Barca, as Pjanic failed to convince and fell behind youth player Ilaix Moriba in the pecking order in the second half of 2020-21.

Pjanic played 30 games across all competitions but only 13 were starts, with just four of those coming after the turn of the year as Ronald Koeman's lack of faith became ever clearer.

He did not score or assist a single goal all season, making him the only outfield player who played at least 170 minutes for the club last term to not have one goal involvement.

Barca were open about their willingness to offload Pjanic in the close-season, particularly in their face of crippling debts that have surpassed €1.3billion and led to significant player departures in the past few months.

He was only named on the bench for one of Barca's first three league games this term, with youngster Gavi and Nico Gonzalez the latest academy products to move ahead of Pjanic.

Barca's brief statement to confirm the deal did not even wish the player luck in his next chapter, perhaps highlighting the ill-feeling surrounding him after a disappointing season.

The statement read: "Barcelona and Besiktas have reached an agreement for the loan of the player Miralem Pjanic until June 30, 2022.

"Pjanic arrived at the Camp Nou last summer from Juventus, where he had been since 2016. The Bosnian international has made 30 appearances for FC Barcelona."

Antoine Griezmann is relishing his return "home" after Atletico Madrid rescued him from Barcelona, with Diego Simeone set to be a big winner if the Frenchman rediscovers his best form.

The transfer window was closing when Atletico dashed in to snatch Griezmann, as Saul Niguez's move to Chelsea cleared space in coach Simeone's squad for a major arrival.

Griezmann said he was sad not to play regularly in front of a packed Camp Nou during his time at Barcelona, with the pandemic putting paid to that prospect.

That message came in a goodbye note to Barcelona supporters on Wednesday, but on Thursday he had his eye on the challenge ahead.

"Looking forward to coming home," Griezmann wrote on Twitter, replying after Atletico announced he would inherit Saul's number eight shirt.

He has joined on an initial loan with a reported obligation to buy for €40million after spending just two years at Camp Nou, with Barcelona having paid €120million to sign Griezmann, one of a string of big-money deals that proved poor value for the Blaugrana's money.

Griezmann never managed to recapture his best form in Catalonia, but Simeone will have scooped a bargain if the forward's prime performances return.

 

WHAT COULD THIS HOMECOMING BRING ATLETICO?

With Barca, Griezmann started 66 games in LaLiga but was substituted off 37 times, with the changes of coach from Ernesto Valverde to Quique Setien and then Ronald Koeman hardly encouraging stability.

During his first stint at Atletico, he started 168 times in the league and was taken off on just 68 occasions, an indication Simeone resoundingly backed his ability.

That faith would stem primarily from the fact only Lionel Messi (176), Cristiano Ronaldo (134 from 2014-18) and Luis Suarez (131) scored more LaLiga goals than Griezmann's haul of 94 during his five-year stay at Atletico. Before that, he was a regular scorer in LaLiga for Real Sociedad, whom he helped earn promotion in the 2009-10 season.

Yet there was much more to Griezmann's game in his first Atletico spell than goals, with his hard work meaning he fitted the bill for the club's taskmaster Argentine coach.

A remarkable 651 ball recoveries in five seasons was the highest total achieved by any forward in the league (Iker Muniain second on 551), but at Barcelona he was only 11th on the list in that department for the combined two years and two months he spent with the Catalan giants.

He was top five for assists (32) among all LaLiga forwards while at Atletico, got his 88 non-penalty league goals from an expected goals (xG) haul of 68.41, showing how clinical he was, while he also ranked in the top three for Opta-defined 'big chances' created (56).

His shot conversion rate was a healthy 21.2 per cent, which fell away to 16.9 per cent while at Barcelona, where his lacklustre display against Getafe last weekend suggested it was indeed time to move on.

At Atletico, he is set to team up with Suarez, his former Barcelona team-mate whose acquisition last year proved a stimulus for the Rojiblancos' title charge.

And in a quirk of fate, Griezmann could make his return to Atletico action back in Barcelona, at Espanyol on September 12.

By scoring for France on Wednesday, albeit fortuitously against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Griezmann was again making a nuisance of himself at a high level, which is where Atletico find themselves after winning LaLiga last term.

And as much as he is "looking forward to coming home", it remains to be seen whether the scars of an acrimonious exit have healed.

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