Ansu Fati will take over the famed number 10 shirt at Barcelona that has been vacated since Lionel Messi's move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi's 21-year association with Barcelona came to an end in August when joining PSG on a free transfer after a new deal at Camp Nou could not be agreed.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner had worn the 10 jersey since Ronaldinho's departure in 2008 and has become synonymous with the shirt, which was also sported by Rivaldo and Romario in the past.

There had been suggestions Barca would leave the number unoccupied, but it was confirmed on Wednesday that fellow La Masia graduate Fati will inherit it.

Fati has been with the Catalan giants for the past nine years, the last two of those in the first team

The forward became the youngest goalscorer in Barca's history when he scored against Osasuna in August 2019 aged 16 years and 304 days.

Fati has since added a further 12 goals in 42 appearances across all competitions for the Blaugrana, who he joined at the age of 10.

The Guinea-Bissau-born youngster has been capped four times by Spain and scored his first international goal against Ukraine in September 2020.

Fati, who has been out since tearing the meniscus in his left knee in November 2020, is back in first-team training and could return to action after the international break.

England captain Joe Root has regained top spot in the ICC men's Test batting rankings following his impressive displays in the ongoing series with India.

The 30-year-old has recorded centuries in all three Tests, which is tied at 1-1 ahead of the fourth match at The Oval this week, aggregating 507 runs at an average of 126.75.

Root was fifth on the list at the start of the series but his form throughout 2021 has seen him overtake Virat Kohli, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith and previous number one Kane Williamson to lead the way for the first time since December 2015.

Kohli has slipped out of the top five, with Rohit Sharma overtaking his team-mate with his highest ever position.

The 916 ranking points accrued by Root is one below his career-best aggregate from August 2015 and has been bettered by only four other England batsmen – Len Hutton, Jack Hobbs, Peter May and Denis Compton

"Obviously it's a nice thing to hear," Root said. "I've got to keep trying to score in this series and get us over the line.

"As nice as it is, there is still so much hard work to do. Our focus does not change. I'm obviously proud to have achieved this and I'd like to stay there now by playing like I am.

"Hopefully the form of my life is still to come, but I do feel very good at the minute. I've got to stay focused now."

In bowling terms, Root's England team-mate James Anderson has moved back up to number five in a list led by Australia's Pat Cummins.

England levelled their five-match series with India thanks to an innings victory in the third Test at Headingley last week.

All-rounder Moeen Ali has been confirmed as England's vice-captain for the fourth Test after Jos Buttler was given a paternity break ahead of the arrival of his second child.
 

The transfer window officially closed on Tuesday, meaning clubs across Europe must now make do with the players available to them until at least January.

It has been an eventful few months, with Lionel Messi ending his 21-year association with Barcelona by joining Paris Saint-Germain and Cristiano Ronaldo sealing an emotional return to Manchester United from Juventus.

The drama continued to unfold right through until the final stages of the window as Antoine Griezmann rejoined Atletico Madrid on an initial loan and Chelsea snapped up Saul Niguez from the Spanish champions, while Real Madrid brought in rising star Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes.

With Kylian Mbappe staying at PSG and Harry Kane still a Tottenham player, Jack Grealish's £100million switch to Manchester City from Aston Villa was the biggest deal in monetary terms, followed by Romelu Lukaku's £97.5m (€115m) move to Chelsea from Inter.

Stats Perform takes a look at the best deals that went through.

Hakan Calhanoglu: Inter to Milan (free transfer)

After failing to agree new terms at Milan, Calhanoglu completed a shock move across the city to rivals Inter, signing a three-year deal.

While not necessarily the most popular transfer, getting a player who created 98 chances last season – the most of any player in Europe's top five leagues – for free is quite something.

The Turkey international got a goal and an assist on his debut in the 4-0 win over Genoa, prompting coach Simone Inzaghi to proclaim the player "doesn't realise how good he is".

Manuel Locatelli: Sassuolo to Juventus (loan with €25m obligation)

One of Italy's most prized young assets, Locatelli secured a move to Juventus on a two-year loan that includes an obligation to buy for an initial €25m.

Among midfielders in Serie A last season, the 23-year-old made the most touches (3,304), passes (2,749) and tackles (81). He then impressed as Italy won Euro 2020, scoring twice in the group-stage win over Switzerland.

For a club looking to strengthen while saving money, this could prove a shrewd deal for Juve.

 

Danny Ings: Southampton to Aston Villa (£25m)

Villa appear to have invested the money they received for Grealish in shrewd fashion, signing Leon Bailey, Emiliano Buendia and striker Ings.

While the Ings deal materialised very quickly in early August, he certainly did not seem to need much time to adjust to new surroundings, scoring twice in his first three league games this season.

With 34 goals across his final two league campaigns with Southampton, there is reason to think the 29-year-old could be one of the smartest signings of the window.

Lionel Messi: Free agent to Paris Saint-Germain

The most spectacular free transfer of all time came after Barcelona had agree a new contract with Messi only to be forced to admit they could not let him sign it due to financial restrictions.

A tearful Messi bade farewell to his boyhood club before securing a move to PSG, who now boast a frankly terrifying forward line of Messi, Neymar and Mbappe.

Describing it as a 'free' transfer is somewhat misleading given the various costs involved in the different aspects of the deal, but for PSG to sign arguably the greatest player in history without paying a transfer fee is pretty amazing business.

 

Romelu Lukaku: Inter to Chelsea (£97.5m)

Chelsea smashed their transfer record to bring back Lukaku, whose last action in his first spell at the club was to miss a penalty in the UEFA Super Cup shoot-out loss to Bayern Munich in 2013.

Lukaku plundered 24 goals and 11 assists in 2020-21 to fire Inter to the title and claim Serie A's MVP award, after which he pushed for a return to Stamford Bridge, where he felt he had unfinished business.

It might have been a serious financial outlay, but Lukaku showed in the 2-0 win at Arsenal what a difference he could make to a Chelsea side who are extremely tough to beat but not exactly free-scoring.

Eduardo Camavinga: Rennes to Real Madrid (€30m)

Madrid may have missed out on top target Mbappe, but they managed to get a deal over the line for fellow Frenchman Camavinga, bringing an end to 18 months of speculation surrounding the young midfielder.

It is the first time Madrid have spent money on a transfer fee since 2019, when they signed Eden Hazard from Chelsea for €100m, and in Camavinga they are signing a player for the here and now rather than the future.

Since making his debut for Rennes in April 2019, no player in Ligue 1 has attempted (230) or won more tackles (139) than the three-cap France international, who will now provide competition for Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Federico Valverde.

 

Saul Niguez: Atletico Madrid to Chelsea (loan with option to buy for £30m)

After being regularly linked with the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool in recent years, Saul will finally get a chance to play in the Premier League with Chelsea this season.

A box-to-box midfielder, the Spain international is at his best operating in a central role, though his versatility and workrate have often seen him deployed out wide by Atletico coach Diego Simeone.

He made just 22 league starts last season, his lowest figure since 2014-15. However, since August 2019, Real Madrid's Casemiro (190) is the only midfielder to have attempted more tackles than Saul (159) in LaLiga.

Antoine Griezmann: Barcelona to Atletico Madrid (loan deal with an obligation to buy)

Two years after leaving Atletico in a big-money transfer, Griezmann has returned to the Spanish capital to boost an attack that already includes Luis Suarez, Joao Felix, Angel Correa and fellow new recruit Matheus Cunha.

Griezmann's Camp Nou career never truly took off and he failed to score or create a single opportunity across Barca's first three league games this season.

But Simeone will be confident he can get the Frenchman, who scored 94 LaLiga goals in 180 appearances in his first stint at the club, operating at somewhere close to his former glory.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo: Juventus to Manchester United (£12.9m rising to £19.7m)

Twelve years after departing Old Trafford, Ronaldo is once again a Manchester United player after completing a surprise return to the club where he won the first of his five Ballons d'Or.

Ronaldo scored 118 goals in 292 appearances under Alex Ferguson in his first spell, 42 of those goals coming in the 2007-08 season alone, and he remains a prolific forward despite his all-round game changing with time.

The Portugal captain scored 29 league goals in his third and final season with Juventus to win the Capocannoniere, making him the first player to finish as top scorer in Serie A, LaLiga and the Premier League.

The first international break of the 2021-22 campaign has arrived, and with it comes an opportunity for many national teams to start afresh.

Following the conclusion of the Copa America, Gold Cup and Euro 2020 in quick succession, all roads now lead to the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

For a number of players, the September qualifiers provide an opportunity to make an impression, while for others it is potentially a first taste of international football. 

With the games coming thick and fast over the next week or so, Stats Perform has looked at those in contention to make their senior international debuts.

Albert Sambi Lokonga (Belgium)

Belgium's golden generation of talent missed another opportunity to turn promise into something more tangible when losing to eventual winners Italy in the Euro 2020 quarter-finals.

Roberto Martinez has decided against wholesale changes after that disappointment, with Lokonga the only outfield player in line for his first cap, having failed to get further than the bench – against Greece in June – after previous call-ups.

A product of the same Anderlecht youth system that oversaw the development of Romelu Lukaku, Youri Tielemans and Leander Dendoncker, among others, Lokonga sealed a move to Arsenal in July after impressing in the Belgian top flight.

The £15million signing has not had the best of starts to life at Arsenal, the Gunners finding themselves bottom of the English top-flight table having played at least three league matches for the first time since October 1974.

Lokonga, noted for his ability to play in front of the defence, featured in just two of those games yet still trails Granit Xhaka alone in terms of passes (113 to 139) and successful passes (97 to 118) and is behind only Sead Kolasinac for interceptions.

 

Claudinho (Brazil)

Citing concerns over the availability of his European-based contingent due to clubs being reluctant to release players to red-list countries, Tite has named a bloated Brazil squad for this month's triple-header of World Cup qualifiers.

Those complications appear set to deny Raphinha a debut, having impressed during his first year in the Premier League with Leeds United. 

Raphinha ranks seventh in the division for dribbles attempted since the start of last season (142), completing 42.96 per cent of those. He also ranks in the top 10 for chances created over that period with 68.

But Claudinho remains in line to be capped for the first time, called up after helping his country secure Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020.

The midfielder, whose signing at Zenit was announced not long after the Olympic tournament had concluded, described his call-up as "a dream come true".

Theo Hernandez and Moussa Diaby (France)

It is out with the old and in with the new as far as France's first post-Euros squad is concerned – to an extent, at least, with Olivier Giroud one of nine players to make way from the previous group named by Didier Deschamps.

Injuries have also played a part in that, potentially giving a quartet of uncapped players the chance to impress in the upcoming qualifiers with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine and Finland.

Hernandez, a more natural left-back option than brother Lucas, will feel his first call-up is long overdue following back-to-back campaigns as a regular for Milan, whom he joined from Real Madrid. 

Since making his Rossoneri bow in September 2019, no defender in Serie A has completed more dribbles than Hernandez (133), while only Federico Dimarco (87) and Juan Cuadrado (107) have created more chances than his 86.

Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni and Roma's Jordan Veretout may also feature during this international break, but perhaps the most exciting of the new additions is Bayer Leverkusen winger Diaby.

The Paris Saint-Germain product scored twice and assisted another in Leverkusen's opening two Bundesliga games of 2021-22, while Alphonso Davies is the only player in the division to have attempted more dribbles this term (24 to his 22).

Known for his blistering pace and ability to take on opponents, Diaby could well provide Deschamps with a different option in an attack already packed full of talent.

 

Otavio (Portugal)

Three new players have been called up by Fernando Santos, who is looking to the future after his Portugal side's reign as European champions came to an end in July.

Goncalo Inacio is injured, but Diogo Costa and Otavio could each make their senior debuts during this international window, with the latter the name on many lips right now.

Otavio has tallied 11 goal involvementss in each of the past two Primeira Liga campaigns for Porto and has made a fast start to the new season with two assists in his first four games.

Since the start of last season, only team-mate Mehdi Taremi has provided more assists (12) in the Portuguese top flight than Otavio's 10, coming from 51 chances created.

The Brazilian-born attacking midfielder was granted Portuguese citizenship earlier this year and will be eager to show that Brazil's loss is very much Portugal's gain should he get some minutes over the next week.

Ricardo Pepi (United States)

The dual-national drama surrounding Pepi appears to have reached a resolution as the FC Dallas forward has seemingly pledged his allegiance to the United States over Mexico.

After breaking into the Dallas side two years ago and featuring regularly last year, 2021 has been quite the season for the El Paso-born youngster.

Pepi, who does not turn 19 until next January, has 11 goals and two assists in 21 games this term and scored the decisive kick in last week's penalty shoot-out win for MLS against their Liga MX counterparts in the All-Star Game.

He has 13 MLS goals in total, the fourth-most ever by a teenager – ahead of Freddy Adu – and just nine short of the record held by Diego Fagundez.

On the basis of the past four months in particular, the USMNT could have a potentially world-class player to lead their line for a number of years to come.

 

Karim Adeyemi (Germany)

For the first time in 17 years, Germany will play a match without Joachim Low in their dugout either as assistant or head coach when they face Liechtenstein on Thursday.

Hansi Flick is tasked with ushering in a new generation of German talents, with help from the old guard, many of whom were key to his successful spell at Bayern Munich.

Away from regulars such as Thomas Muller, Leon Goretzka, Joshua Kimmich and Manuel Neuer, Flick has included four uncapped players in his first squad – David Raum, Nico Schlotterbeck, Florian Wirtz and Adeyemi.

A technically gifted and supremely fast winger, Adeyemi has long been considered one of Germany's most promising young players, having cost Salzburg a reported €3m when he was 16.

Adeyemi, who left Bayern six years earlier, has been given the chance to spread his wings with Salzburg and has been strongly linked with Red Bull sister club RB Leipzig.

He already has six goals in six Austrian Bundesliga appearances this term, just one less than he managed in 29 top-flight appearances last time out – a return he will be looking to build on if he is given the nod by Flick.

Justin Bijlow (Netherlands)

The Netherlands are another European heavyweight going through a transitional period of sorts after turning to veteran coach Louis van Gaal for a third stint in charge.

Frank de Boer failed to get the most out of this talented Dutch squad and already Van Gaal has put his own mark on the team by calling up a few newbies.

There will be plenty of focus on the goalkeeping position as, with Jasper Cillessen not fully fit and Maarten Stekelenburg recently retiring, Joel Drommel and Bijlow can stake a claim to be the long-term number one.

Bijlow is considered one of the finest young goalkeepers in Europe and already has 45 Eredivisie games under his belt for Feyenoord, where he is a real fan favourite.

The 23-year-old has kept 15 clean sheets across those appearances and boasts a save percentage of 72.16. Van Gaal can seemingly rely on the young stopper, as he has made just one error leading to a goal.

Shohei Ohtani produced something he had never done before to help the Los Angeles Angels past the New York Yankees 6-4 in MLB on Tuesday.

Favourite to win the American League (AL) MVP this season, two-way Angels star Ohtani stole home for the first time in his four-year career.

Ohtani stole home as part of a double steal in the fifth inning, which saw the Angels produce a three-run rally against the slumping Yankees, who have lost four straight games.

The Japanese sensation leads the majors with 42 homers, while he also has 22 stolen bases.

Ohtani is only the fourth player in AL history with at least 42 home runs and 22 stolen bases in a season, joining Jose Canseco (1988, 1991 and 1998), Alex Rodriguez (1998 and 2007) and Ken Griffey Jr. (1999).

 

Snell sizzles against D-Backs

Blake Snell was dominant as the San Diego Padres blanked the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-0. Snell delivered seven no-hit innings, but San Diego's no-hit bid was ended when the Padres turned to the bullpen. According to Stats Perform, Padres ace Snell is the second starter in the modern era to be removed from the game after throwing 7.0-plus no-hit innings with 10-plus shutouts, following Francisco Cordova in 1997.

The Philadelphia Phillies tallied 18 hits in a rallying 12-6 victory over the Washington Nationals to extend their winning streak to five games. According to Stats Perform, the win marked the sixth occasion this season the Phillies had trailed by three-plus runs against the Nationals and came back to win – tied for the most such victories by any team against any single opponent in a season I the modern era.

The American League (AL) East-leading Tampa Bay Rays celebrated their ninth straight win by downing the Boston Red Sox 8-5.

 

Bogaerts tests positive for COVID-19

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts had to be pulled from the game after testing positive for coronavirus. After hitting an RBI single in the first inning, the Boston star was withdrawn in the second.

The Milwaukee Brewers got on top of San Francisco Giants starter Johnny Cueto in a 6-2 win. Cueto allowed six runs and 10 hits in 3.2 innings.

 

Rosario makes history

Amed Rosario hit an inside-the-park homer to fuel the Cleveland Indians' 7-2 victory at the Kansas City Royals. Rosario became the first player to go five-for-five with five-plus RBIS, an inside-the-park homer and an over-the-fence home run in the same game, per Stats Perform.

 

 

Tuesday's results 

Los Angeles Angels 6-4 New York Yankees
San Diego Padres 3-0 Arizona Diamondbacks
Milwaukee Brewers 6-2 San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 Atlanta Braves
Seattle Mariners 4-0 Houston Astros
New York Mets 6-5 Miami Marlins
New York Mets 3-1 Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies 12-6 Washington Nationals
Baltimore Orioles 4-2 Toronto Blue Jays
Tampa Bay Rays 8-5 Boston Red Sox
Oakland Athletics 9-3 Detroit Tigers
Texas Rangers 4-3 Colorado Rockies
Chicago Cubs 3-1 Minnesota Twins
Cleveland Indians 7-2 Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox 4-2 Pittsburgh Pirates
St Louis Cardinals-Cincinnati Reds (postponed)

 

Red Sox at Rays

The Rays (84-48) will put their winning run on the line when they face the Red Sox (75-59) again on Wednesday. Chris Sale starts for the Red Sox as the high-flying Rays counter with Drew Rasmussen.

Saul Niguez wants to rediscover his best form at Champions League holders Chelsea after his Atletico Madrid frustrations, saying: "I don't want to see the Saul that you've seen these last two years".

Saul will spend the 2021-22 season on loan at Chelsea following Tuesday's deadline-day move, with the European champions reportedly having the option to buy the Spain international for £30million (€34m) after paying an initial loan fee of £5m (€5.8m).

The 26-year-old was part of Atletico's title-winning side in LaLiga last season, however, he found himself playing out of position under Diego Simeone in the Spanish capital.

As he prepares for life at Stamford Bridge, Saul – also linked with Premier League giants Manchester United and Liverpool – is relishing the opportunity to start fresh in London.

"The only negative was not playing in my position [at Atletico]," Saul said in an interview with Ibai Llanos on Twitch.

"I could not show what I would like. I had a block in my head that did not allow me to play in another role. Chelsea's option was to leave my comfort zone. It won't be easy to get into that team."

A box-to-box midfielder, Saul is at his best operating in a central role, though his versatility and work-rate has often seen him deployed out wide by Simeone.

Saul made only 22 league starts last season, his lowest figure since 2014-15. This perhaps explains why he ranked only fourth in the Atleti squad for attempted tackles in the top tier, with 57.

However, since August 2019, only Real Madrid's Casemiro (190) had attempted more tackles by a midfielder than Saul (159) in LaLiga.

"At Chelsea I will train in my position. Then we will see if I play. That is the biggest cause of my decision," Saul added.

"I want to go to Chelsea, try the experience and then see what happens. I don't want to think further. I want to go, compete and help Chelsea.

"Personally, I want to go back to being the Saul that I want to see. I don't want to see the Saul that you've seen these last two years. I was very frustrated not being able to show people what I am capable of."

World number one Novak Djokovic is embracing the weight of personal and external expectations in pursuit of history after advancing to the US Open second round.

Djokovic's quest to become only the third man to complete a calendar Grand Slam and first since 1969 started with a 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-1 victory over Holger Rune on Tuesday.

The Serb star – also looking to win a record 21st men's slam crown, which would break a tie with absent pair Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer – made a dominant start before qualifier Rune levelled the match, much to the delight of the Arthur Ashe crowd.

But Rune, who was making his grand-slam main-draw debut, faded dramatically due to cramps as the 18-year-old's worsening physical condition gifted Djokovic the third and fourth sets en route to the second round.

Sympathetic of Rune's situation after the energetic teenager could barely move following the second set tie-break, Djokovic was then asked about his biggest obstacle entering the Flushing Meadows tournament.

"I guess as always you have tons of expectations and pressure from just the whole tennis community, including myself," Djokovic, who is back in New York for the first time since he was sensationally thrown out of the US Open last year after accidentally hitting a line judge in the throat with a tennis ball, told reporters.

"Obviously I would like myself to win, to go far, to win the title and make the history. Without a doubt that's something that inspires me.

"But I am focused on trying to be the best version of myself every day. I know it sounds like a cliche, but there is a great power in being present and working on mentally and emotionally being in the moment and trying to handle it in such way that would benefit you."

Djokovic, who will face Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor after improving his US Open record to 16-0 in the opening round, added: "I have my own routines that differs probably from all the other guys. I just try to do things, surround myself with people, have a trajectory and journey in this tournament that suits me, that I know has worked in the past.

"There are things that you can always rely on, go back to when you are experiencing a little bit of a turbulence in terms of emotions on the court or off the court. When it gets too much, then I've developed a mechanism where I feel like I can mentally handle that.

"But it's not a guarantee, right? I do have a formula for many years that has worked well for me, that got me to where I am. At the same time, it's not necessarily a guarantee that it will work every single time.

"Of course, you have to be flexible, open-minded, and rely also on your environment and the people that support you, that are there for you, so they can deflect also some of the things that are coming in off the court that you don't need to think about, handle, and just focus on what matters these few weeks."

Cristiano Ronaldo will play in all three of Portugal's fixtures during the international break following his return to Manchester United, head coach Fernando Santos said.

Ronaldo completed his United comeback on Tuesday, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner re-joining the Red Devils from Juventus for a second spell following his successful first stint at Old Trafford between 2003 and 2009.

Amid the hype in Manchester, Ronaldo's attention has swiftly turned to matters with Portugal as Santos' men prepare to face Republic of Ireland on Wednesday.

Portugal will also meet Qatar in a friendly on Saturday before resuming their road to Qatar 2022 against Azerbaijan on Tuesday.

As Ronaldo stands on the cusp of breaking his tie with Ali Daei for the most international goals in men's football (109), Santos confirmed the 36-year-old's availability.

"I am interested in [Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes'] motivation while playing for the national team. You're a British journalist, you can ask them about Manchester United when they are back at their club," Santos told reporters.

"For me, the important thing is that they will be focused on the national team. I can say that they are motivated for the three matches we have ahead of us.

"There is no doubt that Ronaldo and all the players are able to play against Ireland. I understand all the attention we get because of him. He is going to play in three matches.

"We will have to manage some things, mostly in the second match, we will have to manage things. It will not be easy for the players to play three matches in seven days.

"We have to manage them across all the games, but mostly the second. It is always important because it is a national team match."

Formerly a dazzling winger but now a penalty-box poacher, Ronaldo has netted 674 times across 895 club games in all competitions, averaging a goal every 108 minutes.

Those 674 goals break down into 122 with his supposedly weaker left foot, 110 with his head and 440 with his favoured right boot.

Following his arrival as a fresh-faced teenager from Sporting in 2003, he scored 118 times for United across 292 appearances before his departure in 2009.

Between his entrance on the Premier League stage and his final appearance in May 2009, Frank Lampard (131) and Thierry Henry (124) are the only two to have a hand in more English top-flight goals than Ronaldo (118) – Henry (92) the only one to outscore Ronaldo's 84.

Ronaldo is a five-time winner of the Champions League, leading the all-time scoring charts with 134 goals in 176 games – 14 ahead of second place, and eternal rival, Lionel Messi.

Novak Djokovic's quest to become only the third man to complete a calendar Grand Slam and first to win 21 majors started with a 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-1 victory over Holger Rune at the US Open.

Not since Rod Laver in 1969 has a man won all four majors in the same year – Djokovic arrived in New York as the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon champion.

Also eyeing history as the first man to claim 21 slams – currently tied with injured superstars Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer – Djokovic navigated his passage through to the second round at Flushing Meadows on Tuesday.

Danish qualifier Rune was making his grand slam main-draw debut, but the 18-year-old was not overawed under the bright Arthur Ashe lights.

However, Rune faded fast due to apparent cramps as world number one Djokovic eventually cruised through to round two of the year's final major after more than two hours.

Playing for the first time since his Golden Slam bid came unstuck at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Djokovic looked comfortable initially, closing out a merciless opening set with an ace.

Djokovic did not face a break point, boasting 100 percent returns against first serve, barely giving Rune a break.

But that changed in the second set – the energetic Rune winding up the crowd as he raced out to a 3-0 lead before Djokovic swiftly reeled off four consecutive games to move ahead.

Rune, however, capitalised on some uncharacteristic double faults to ultimately level the match in a tie-break, much to the delight of the American crowd.

But that is as good as it got for a frustrated Rune, whose physical conditioning proved his downfall, having gone toe-to-toe with the top seed in a fearless display.

 

Data slam: Djokovic extends US Open streak

Back in New York for the first time since he was sensationally thrown out of the US Open last year after accidentally hitting a line judge in the throat with a tennis ball, Djokovic got the job done.

Three-time US Open champion Djokovic now remains unbeaten in opening-round matches at the tournament, with a 16-0 record.

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 55/30
Rune – 24/26

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 17/7
Rune – 1/4

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 8/14
Rune – 2/3

World number one Ash Barty was relieved but happy with her response after surviving a first-round scare against Vera Zvonareva at the US Open.

Barty – the top seed back at Flushing Meadows after skipping the 2020 event due to the coronavirus pandemic – booked her spot in the second round with a 6-1 7-6 (9-7) victory but the Wimbledon champion endured a challenging opener in New York on Tuesday.

Despite firing down 11 aces to improve her WTA Tour-leading tally to 300 in 2021, and hitting 31 winners, veteran Zvonareva was a tricky first-up opponent for Australian star Barty.

A US Open and Wimbledon runner-up in 2010, Zvonareva made life difficult for Barty in the second set, earning a chance to force a decider but the 36-year-old was unable to capitalise at 7-6 in the tie-break.

Afterwards, Barty – who ranks first this season for titles (five), match victories (41), finals reached (six) and top-10 victories (seven) – told reporters: "Obviously a tough one against Vera straight up.

"She's an experienced campaigner. She knows how to get herself into matches. I think all in all, adapting to conditions was a little bit slower than I probably would have liked [but] we're through. We have another chance to improve on that in the next round.

"I think when my back was against the wall late in that buster, I came up with some really good stuff. That's all we can ask is when your back is against the wall, you trust yourself, you go out there and pick your spots and hit them."

Two-time grand slam champion Barty – fresh off winning in Cincinnati as Clara Tauson awaits in round two – added: "It obviously got really tense in that second set - tight - and in the bigger moments I was able to be aggressive and trust myself and that was a massive thing today.

"There were a couple of games where I had lapses in concentration but I was able to come through in straight sets and now we go back to the drawing board, work on a few things and we'll be as happy as Larry.

"I'm certainly happy to be through and playing again here in New York."

 

It was well after the final whistle on deadline day but, eventually, Antoine Griezmann's return to Atletico Madrid was officially confirmed.

Two years after leaving, Griezmann has joined on a season-long loan from Barcelona, with the deal including an option to extend for a further year and a compulsory permanent transfer clause.

Earlier this month, Barca – in a straw-clutching move following Lionel Messi's departure for Paris Saint-Germain – made a rather big deal of Griezmann making his 100th club appearance. Not even two weeks later, he is gone.

On that landmark appearance, Griezmann hit the crossbar in a 4-2 win over his former club Real Sociedad, where he had developed into one of LaLiga's brightest attackers before joining Atleti in 2014. 

He went on to score 94 LaLiga goals for Diego Simeone's team before a long-rumoured switch to Barca went through. Yet he has never quite managed to scale the same heights at Camp Nou as he did at his previous home.

A disappointing first campaign marred by injuries and inconsistency left Griezmann playing catch up last term, though he did net 20 times across all competitions to finish as Barca's second-leading scorer.

Stats Perform assesses how Griezmann's efforts last season match up to his best campaign from his previous Atleti stint, as well as looking at what he could contribute to Simeone's attack.

 

GRIEZMANN AT HIS PEAK

Griezmann was a model of consistency throughout his time at Atleti, as he became the perfect, versatile forward for Simeone's disciplined side.

He partnered Mario Mandzukic, Fernando Torres and Diego Costa among others during his time at the club, transforming himself from a speedy winger to a centre forward with predatory instincts in the penalty area, as well as harbouring plenty of creative talents.

Though he played more games (54) and scored more goals (32) during the 2015-16 season, Griezmann's finest campaign at Atleti arguably came in 2017-18.

His tally of 19 LaLiga strikes was 11 more than any other Atleti player as he finished sixth in the scoring charts overall.

Griezmann added another 10 goals across the cup competitions, however, including a brace in the Europa League final to help Atleti beat Marseille 3-0 in Lyon.

Only Griezmann got into double figures for Atleti in terms of assists (13), while only Koke (81) created more chances than his total of 65.

Griezmann was clinical when opportunities came his way too, converting 52.38 per cent of the 42 "big chances" (an opportunity defined as one where they player should score) that were crafted for him, while he ranked top for attempts (124) as he averaged a goal every 133 minutes.

To cap off an exceptional domestic campaign, Griezmann put in a man-of-the-match display as France beat Croatia 4-2 in the 2018 World Cup final.

 

PAST HIS BEST?

After making much of his call to stay put at Atleti – he took part in a mini-documentary to confirm his decision before the 2018 World Cup – Griezmann completed a €120million switch to Barca a year later.

It was not without controversy: Atleti insisted Barca had fallen some €80m short of the obligated fee, but the transfer was nevertheless upheld.

His first season at Camp Nou was one to forget, eventually ending with a humbling 8-2 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich on home soil.

Griezmann came into his second season with a renewed sense of purpose and finally seemed to click under new boss Ronald Koeman. Playing 51 times in all competitions, including making 45 starts, he clocked up 3,904 minutes in total - the second most he has managed in a campaign since moving to Atletico.

A total of 20 goals sees him fall some way short of the 29 he managed in 2017-18, though his 12 assists come close to matching his Atleti peak.

His expected assists (xA) total of 8.99 does suggest the quality of opportunities he created was perhaps not wholly responsible for his final total. Given he was linking up with Messi, this is perhaps no surprise. It was, though, also the case in 2017-18, with Griezmann tallying an expected assists figure of 6.3, suggesting his Atleti team-mates were finishing chances they may not have been expected to.

Griezmann created more chances (67) last term than in his 2017-18 season, though his conversion rate of gilt-edged opportunities dropped to 39.39 per cent.

Only in 2018-19 (15.11) did Griezmann have a lower shot conversion rate than last term (18.02) while there was no international glory for him this time around either – he scored once as France dropped out of Euro 2020 in the last 16.

 

BACK WHERE HE BELONGS?

Griezmann was the main man at Atleti but had to play in the shadow of Messi at Barca, not to mention Luis Suarez before he moved on to Madrid.

Barca sold Suarez to Atleti last year and, well, the rest is history – the former Liverpool star scored 21 league goals as Atleti clinched their second title under Simeone.

Griezmann's haul of 13 goals would have put him as Atleti's second-highest scorer in LaLiga last term, four ahead of the next forward in Angel Correa, though midfielder Marcos Llorente plundered 12 in a more advanced role.

Of Atleti players, only Llorente (11), Yannick Carrasco (10) and Correa (8) provided more league assists than Griezmann's seven from 42 chances created in total.

While he has failed to score or create a single opportunity across Barca's three league games so far this season, Simeone must surely be confident he can get Griezmann operating at somewhere close to his former glory.

With city rivals Real Madrid failing to land Kylian Mbappe in the transfer window, Atleti will surely fancy their chances of reigning in Spain once again.

Paris Saint-Germain capped a busy transfer window with the loan signing of highly rated left-back Nuno Mendes from Portuguese champions Sporting CP, with Pablo Sarabia moving in the other direction.

Mendes joins PSG on a season-long loan, while the Ligue 1 giants have the option to buy the Portugal international at the end of the season.

The 19-year-old had previously been linked with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool, but he has made the move to PSG alongside fellow recruits Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Achraf Hakimi and Georginio Wijnaldum.

A product of Sporting's famed youth academy, Mendes played a key role as the club ended their 19-year title drought last season.

The teenager amassed a total of 47 appearances across all competitions, scoring once and tallying three assists for Sporting, who also won the Taca da Liga in 2020-21.

Last season, Mendes ranked fourth in the league in expected assists (3.44), third in duels won (186) and second in dribbles attempted (88).

Mendes made two Primeira Liga appearances this term, leaving an unbeaten Sporting side second in the standings and two points adrift of rivals Benfica through four rounds.

He joins a PSG team that standing two points clear at the top of Ligue 1 with four wins out of four and craving a first Champions League triumph.

Spain midfielder Sarabia will spend the remainder of the season on loan with Sporting.

The 29-year-old has scored 22 goals and provided 12 assists for PSG since his move from Sevilla in 2019.

Emerson Royal has completed his move from Barcelona to Tottenham, joining the Premier League club on a deal that runs until 2026.

The full-back arrives to strengthen Spurs’ squad in a deal worth £21.5million (€25m), according to the selling club.

Emerson will provide competition for Japhet Tanganga and Matt Doherty on the right side of the Tottenham defence, with Serge Aurier seemingly falling out of favour under Nuno Espirito Santo.

The Brazil international departs Camp Nou having made just three appearances since Barca exercised the option to bring in the player from Real Betis, where he had spent the past two-and-a-half years.

Emerson moved to Spain in a three-way deal in January 2019, both Betis and Barca each paying half of the €12m fee owed to Atletico Mineiro.

The 22-year-old scored four goals during his LaLiga appearances, also assisting once as he played the most minutes of any Betis player across all competitions in the 2020-21 season (3,186).

He moves to England as a well-rounded defender, ranking second at Betis for recoveries (163), third for chances created from open play (30) and second for successful duels (246).

It was confirmed by Spurs that the deal is subject to international clearance and a work permit being granted.

Sean Payton has confirmed Jameis Winston has got the nod over Taysom Hill to be the New Orleans Saints' starting quarterback.

Winston has been charged with the task of succeeding future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, who ended his career last season as the all-time leader in passing yards with 80,358.

Hill filled in last season when Brees was absent due to injury and was vying with Winston to start against the Green Bay Packers on September 12.

Saints coach Payton said of Winston on Tuesday: "Both he and Taysom competed their tails off. We feel really good about that (QB) room."

He added: "I can't tell you how much I appreciate how both guys handled it [the battle to be starting QB]."

Payton stated that he has a "clear vision" of how the versatile Hill can help the Saints in the upcoming season.

Winston ended his Tampa Bay Buccaneers career in 2019 with a season that epitomised his frustrating inconsistency.

He led the league in passing yards with 5,109 but became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. His seven picks returned for touchdowns set a league record, too.

It could have been substantially worse for Winston. Per Stats Perform data, he ended the 2019 season with 46 pickable passes, with his interceptable pass percentage of 7.69 the highest of any quarterback with at least 100 attempts.

Meanwhile, Payton says the Saints are prepared for the prospect that they could be forced to operate away from New Orleans for as long as a month due to Hurricane Ida.

He revealed they have explored several college facilities that could be used for off-site preparations for at least four games at the start of the 2021 campaign.

Real Madrid have announced the signing of midfielder Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes.

The 18-year-old France international agreed a six-year contract with Los Blancos in a deal that could cost up to €45million, according to reports.

It is the first time Madrid have spent money on a transfer fee since 2019, when they signed Eden Hazard from Chelsea for €100m.

Camavinga had been linked with a host of major European clubs, including Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain, but Madrid elected to make a late push to sign him before the transfer deadline after it became clear that landing Kylian Mbappe from PSG would be impractical.

The teenager, who made 71 Ligue appearances for Rennes and 88 in total, is Madrid's second signing of this window following the free transfer of David Alaba from Bayern Munich.

At 18 years and nine months old, he is the youngest outfield player to feature in that many games in France's top flight since Basile Boli in 1985.

In making his senior France debut on September 8 last year, Camavinga was the youngest player to do so since Maurice Gastiger against Luxembourg 107 years ago.

Only Gastiger (17 years and five months) scored for Les Bleus at a younger age than Camavinga, who was 17 years and 11 months old when he netted against Switzerland last October.

In 2019-20, Camavinga's breakthrough season at Rennes, he attempted 105 tackles in top-flight football. Among midfielders in Europe's top five leagues, only Declan Rice (116) and Wilfred Ndidi (129) attempted more. 

 

Camavinga will provide competition in midfield for Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Federico Valverde at Madrid.

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