Barcelona have confirmed their stadium move for the 2023-24 season while Camp Nou undergoes renovations and revealed they will play in the city's Olympic stadium.

A significant venture for the Catalan side is currently under development, with the 'Espai project' seeing major works conducted at both Camp Nou and the club's wider complex.

Barcelona will remain at Camp Nou for the 2022-23 season but the following year, in 2023-24, will take temporary shelter at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys.

Formerly the home of Espanyol, the Estadic Olimpic Lluis Companys is the fifth-largest stadium in Spain with a capacity of 60,713 and hosted the Olympic Games in 1992.

Barcelona's redevelopment of Camp Nou will see the capacity increased from its current 99,000 to 110,000 – making it the third-largest stadium in the world – and a roof will also be constructed to boost sustainability by utilising a heating and cooling system.

Confirming the move, President Joan Laporta said: "Barcelona will have the privilege to play at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys in the 2023-24 season during the recently approved Espai Barca work.

"Work begins on the first and second levels this summer and when major work is done on the third level and roof, we’ll play here."

Arch-rivals Real Madrid played their home matches away from the Santiago Bernabeu, which is under redevelopment, during the 2020-21 season. They hosted games at their reserve stadium, Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.

Barcelona followed the eye-catching signing of Lucy Bronze by adding Brazil striker Geyse Ferreira to their star-packed squad on Sunday.

The 24-year-old Geyse was joint top scorer in last season's Primera Division, matching Barcelona's Asisat Oshoala with 20 goals.

Geyse achieved her feat while playing for lowly Madrid CFF, who finished 13th in the 16-team competition, and now joins a team who won all 30 of their league matches.

Barcelona club president Joan Laporta saw the deal over the line alongside women's football director Xavier Puig, as Geyse signed a two-year contract.

England defender Bronze was revealed as a major new recruit by Barcelona on Saturday, with the former Best FIFA Women's Player arriving after her contract expired at Manchester City.

Geyse is relishing her new challenge after swapping the Spanish capital for a new home.

"Like every big team, I have always enjoyed playing against Barca," Geyse told Barcelona's website. "I am happy to have been joint top scorer with Oshoala and that I am going to be her team-mate next season.

"I am here to help the team achieve its targets."

Barcelona won a domestic league and cup double last season but fell short in Europe, denied a successful defence of the Women's Champions League title when French giants Lyon upset them 3-1 in the final in Turin.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has committed to giving Lionel Messi some sort of tribute at the club, stating he deserves "eternal recognition" for his illustrious career.

The club's all-time record goalscorer left on a free transfer to join Paris Saint-Germain last year upon the expiration of his contract, with Barcelona unable to secure a renewal due to the club's financial issues.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Messi could not bid farewell to Barcelona fans in person and admitted in November he was "hurt" following his exit.

Laporta admitted during Barca's Extraordinary General Assembly that he was "sad" at the sequence of events but vowed to still pay tribute to the club legend somehow, who won 45 trophies during his stint with the Blaugrana.

"I will support, lead and back anyone that finds solutions that lead to a tribute to Messi, for all that he has given to Barca," he said.

"We have to give him an eternal recognition for all that he has done.

"For me, Leo will always be at Barca. Circumstances made us do what we did but that can't spoil the recognition we have to give him and sooner or later, I hope sooner, we can pay tribute to this player who has given us so many years of glory.

"Without him, the last 20 years of Barca would not be understood."

Barcelona may choose to honour Messi in 2024, the club's 125th anniversary, which could also coincide with the player's exit from PSG as he penned a two-year deal with the option of a further year in the French capital.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has committed to giving Lionel Messi some sort of tribute at the club, stating he deserves "eternal recognition" for his illustrious career.

The club's all-time record goalscorer left on a free transfer to join Paris Saint-Germain last year upon the expiration of his contract, with Barcelona unable to secure a renewal due to the club's financial issues.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Messi could not bid farewell to Barcelona fans in person and admitted in November he was "hurt" following his exit.

Laporta admitted during Barca's Extraordinary General Assembly that he was "sad" at the sequence of events but vowed to still pay tribute to the club legend somehow, who won 45 trophies during his stint with the Blaugrana.

"I will support, lead and back anyone that finds solutions that lead to a tribute to Messi, for all that he has given to Barca," he said.

"We have to give him an eternal recognition for all that he has done.

"For me, Leo will always be at Barca. Circumstances made us do what we did but that can't spoil the recognition we have to give him and sooner or later, I hope sooner, we can pay tribute to this player who has given us so many years of glory.

"Without him, the last 20 years of Barca would not be understood."

Barcelona may choose to honour Messi in 2024, the club's 125th anniversary, which could also coincide with the player's exit from PSG as he penned a two-year deal with the option of a further year in the French capital.

Barcelona are confident of tying star teenager Gavi to a new contract at Camp Nou, according to Joan Laporta.

Gavi enjoyed a breakout season with the Blaugrana in 2021-22, starting 36 matches and appearing in 47.

The 17-year-old is the youngest of a number of exciting talents at Xavi's disposal, with only Borussia Dortmund striker Youssoufa Moukoko – also 17 – scoring in Europe's top five leagues at a younger age this term.

In netting against the Czech Republic last week, Gavi became Spain's youngest ever scorer, taking the record from Barca team-mate Ansu Fati.

But the midfielder is only under contract in Catalonia for another 12 months, meaning Barca must act swiftly – as they are doing.

Laporta, the club president, told reporters: "We're optimistic, because we want Gavi to stay at Barcelona.

"We are very excited about him staying, he's from our academy. The player and his agent, who we know, also want to stay at Barcelona.

"We are very close to reaching an agreement."

However, Laporta did not have quite such positive news on the future of out-of-contract winger Ousmane Dembele – once a club-record €105million signing.

"Dembele has an offer to stay, but we have no news that he's accepted it," the Barca chief said. "We haven't had a reply from him."

Barcelona will not be able to sign wantaway Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski without raising funds via player sales or wage cuts, Blaugrana's economic vice president Eduard Romeu admitted.

Romeu also hinted star talents such as Frenkie de Jong could be allowed to leave if their departures would allow Barca to strengthen Xavi's squad.

Barca have been strongly linked with a move for Lewandowski amid a contract dispute with the Bundesliga champions, declaring on Monday: "My story at Bayern is over".

But Barca's attempts to sign the Poland international, who scored 50 goals in 46 appearances for Bayern in the 2021-22 season, were left in doubt earlier this week when LaLiga president Javier Tebas said the Blaugrana must sell star players to fund such a move.

Tebas said on Tuesday: "They know what they have to do, sell assets. Barca have had many accumulated losses in recent years, some that could have been avoided."

Blaugrana president Joan Laporta responded by hitting out at Tebas for "wanting to harm Barca's interests" in a message shared by the club's social media accounts.

Romeu, though, acknowledges the need to raise funds to fund the high-profile signing, almost a year on from Barca losing club legend Lionel Messi after struggling to meet LaLiga's salary limits.

"Currently the norm is one to three for financial fair play," he told radio station RAC1. "If we are able to get three times more than the cost of the transfer plus amortisation, he can be signed, but first we have to do the job of closing levers.

"If we don't do it, as we are at the moment, by regulation it is not possible to sign him."

 

Romeu then revealed Barca are to begin talks with players over salary cuts, as they look to trim a bloated wage bill to make room for new arrivals. 

"We have a wage bill of €560million, compared to Bayern it is double, they have €300million and [Real] Madrid €400million," he continued.

"Negotiations with the squad will be individual. With the veterans, it will depend on the technical interests and where there is more interest for the club. The most expensive contracts have to be negotiated beforehand."

Barcelona's continued need to balance the books has led to rumours De Jong could be sold, with the Dutch international linked with a reunion with former Ajax boss Erik ten Hag at Manchester United, and Romeu did not rule out a sale of the talented midfielder.

"It is the players' own decision, the players have some agreements that someone has signed for them," he added.

"They haven't committed any sin, we can't afford certain situations, but we have to make an assessment, they haven't cheated anyone and Barca has respected their agreements, another thing is that we have to negotiate with them.

"Right now, we don't have a budget for the sale of players. What is being talked about is a technical issue. About Frenkie de Jong, one thing is that you get money, and another that you [can] use [it] for other payments."

Romeu also followed Laporta's lead in hitting out at Tebas, insisting he was partially responsible for the financial crisis that engulfed Barcelona during Josep Maria Bartomeu's tenure as president due to his leniency with the previous Blaugrana regime.

"The situation Barca has is its own fault, but this man [Tebas] is co-responsible for Barca's situation," Romeu claimed.

"He has looked the other way and has allowed the current situation. He said amen to everything, against the interests of Barca."

Joan Laporta has hit back at Javier Tebas' suggestion Barcelona cannot afford to sign Robert Lewandowski as he claimed the LaLiga chief wants to hurt the Blaugrana's interests.

Barca appear the favourites to sign Bayern Munich talisman Lewandowski after he declared his "story was over" with the Bundesliga giants.

Poland star Lewandowksi has made clear his preference to join Barca, but Tebas suggested the Blaugrana must sell one of their prized assets to be able to fund the transfer.

"Barca already know what they have to do if they want to sign Lewandowski," Tebas told Europa Press Sports Breakfasts.

"They know our economic control rules perfectly. It's to avoid major economic problems. I don't know if they will sell [Frenkie] de Jong or Pedri.

"They know what they have to do, sell assets. Barca has had many accumulated losses in the last tax years, some of which could have been avoided and they have to stock the pantry. 

"Just as Madrid have stocked up, Barcelona have emptied it. Today they cannot sign him [Lewandowski]."

But Barca president Laporta has not taken kindly to Tebas' advice, asking the LaLiga boss to stay out of matters that do not involve him.

"Regarding the statements by the president of the league saying that we cannot sign a player, I would like to remind him that his job is to watch over the interests of the league and the clubs," Laporta said in a message posted on Barca's Twitter.

"So with all due respect I ask that he abstains from commenting on whether or not we can sign a certain player, because he is obviously harming the interests of FC Barcelona.

"I don't know if he makes these comments voluntarily or involuntarily. If he does so voluntarily, it is very obvious that he is wanting to harm Barca's interests.

"And if he does it involuntarily, it is further proof of his verbal incontinence and the desire that the president of the league wants to take the limelight, and with all due respect, that is not his place."

Xavi is hopeful Barcelona will be able to announce a new contract for Gavi "in a few days". 

Barca president Joan Laporta this week publicly stated the club were frustrated by the delay in the 17-year-old signing a renewal. 

Laporta suggested Gavi's agent Ivan de la Pena – a former Barcelona team-mate of Xavi – was comparing the offer to others, with the Spain international only having one year left on his deal. 

However, Xavi was optimistic Gavi will put pen to paper in the near future after Barca beat the A-Leagues All-Stars 3-2 in Sydney on Wednesday. 

"These things take time, but I'm hopeful that in a few days we can announce something," said Xavi. 

 

The Barca boss was far less convincing when asked about the future of Frenkie de Jong. 

De Jong has been linked with a move away to help the club finance a move for Robert Lewandowski. 

Xavi said of the Netherlands midfielder: "He is a key player for us and he will continue to be, but everything depends on the financial situation of the club. We'll see what happens." 

Ousmane Dembele is considering a move away from Barcelona, but Joan Laporta hopes the winger will decide to stay put. 

Barcelona paid an initial €105million to sign Dembele from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 and the five-year contract he received is set to run out next month.

Bayern Munich and Chelsea are reported to be keen on the World Cup-winning winger, who could be available on a free transfer.

Laporta acknowledged that Dembele is intrigued by the interest being shown in him, but the Barcelona president believes he could well choose to stay at Camp Nou.

"He wants to stay but is very tempted by other options that offer conditions that may be considered better than ours," Laporta told Radio Catalunya.

"The offer has been on the table for some time. They will respond when the season is over. We would've liked to have an answer sooner, but we can't force it.

"The coach likes him and I like him. We've made a very important effort to make him stay. He looks very comfortable and has a good relationship with everyone. Auba [Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang] has come, and they are very good friends.

"He has representatives who are in control of the situation, but I hope he stays. If not, we will reinforce that position."

Laporta sounded more confident on the prospects of teenage midfielder Gavi signing a contract extension after an impressive breakthrough campaign with the first team.

"Let's let the technical secretariat work. He has received an offer. I hope that Ivan de la Pena [Gavi's agent] responds favourably to the proposal," Laporta said.

A renewal for Dani Alves could also be on the cards as the 39-year-old right-back, who signed a cut-price deal to return to Barca, eyes a place in Brazil's World Cup squad.

Laporta said: "I would like him to continue. He adjusted a lot so as not to hurt us in the [financial] fair play issue. He is excited to play in the World Cup and if he continues with that attitude, he doesn't endanger our accounts. We'll see."

Barcelona will return to their revered footballing blueprint under Xavi and the Blaugrana faithful should be excited over a "team to dream about", according to Ronald Araujo.

The Uruguayan was speaking at Camp Nou on Friday after committing his future to the club until the end of the 2025-26 campaign, with the 23-year-old set to play a big part in Barca's future.

Araujo has emerged as a key player this season, particularly since the arrival of Xavi following the dismissal of Ronald Koeman in October.

Xavi has overseen an upturn in fortunes with Barca climbing from ninth at the time of Koeman's sacking up to second in LaLiga, despite falling to three consecutive home defeats across all competitions in April.

Defender Araujo was quick to back Blaugrana boss Xavi as he suggested the Spaniard will restore Barca's principles to help them compete with LaLiga champions-elect Real Madrid, who need just a point to reclaim the title.

"I always work hard," he said. "I watch videos and talk a lot with Xavi about learning the Barca style. I believe in the project and we will get back up and start winning trophies again.

"I want Barca fans to feel excited about the team, because we are going back to the Barca DNA and we have a solid base of young and veteran players. We have a team to dream about."

 

Araujo's 39 appearances this term can only be bettered by Jordi Alba (40), Gavi (42), Frenkie de Jong (43) and Sergio Busquets (47) among Barca's outfield players.

The Uruguay international has made 78 appearances in total since joining from Uruguayan side Boston River in August 2018, contributing to 13 clean sheets across those games.

Araujo is keen to continue his progression with the Catalan giants as he looks to learn alongside the evergreen Gerard Pique and experienced Alba.

"I feel such immense joy," he said of his new contract.

"I have matured a lot. I couldn't pick any single moment from my time here, all I wanted was to renew my contract and be able to stay at Barca for a long, long time."

Barca president Joan Laporta also heaped praise on Araujo as he spoke alongside him on Friday.

"We want to thank Araujo for his character and commitment," Laporta said. "He has opened his heart.

"He is a footballer of the immediate present, but this also helps us to consolidate our short- and long-term plans. He is a very talented player who will help us to build a winning Barca."

Ronald Koeman has called on former club Barcelona to show Xavi more support than he received in the Camp Nou dugout and defended his own record with the Blaugrana.

Koeman spent just over a year in the Camp Nou dugout before being sacked in October 2021, winning the Copa del Ray last season but overseeing a third-place finish in LaLiga and the departure of legendary attacker Lionel Messi.

Barca sat ninth in the top flight when the Dutchman departed, but are now favourites to secure Champions League qualification after Xavi oversaw an upturn in results. 

However, the Catalan giants recently lost three successive home games for just the second time in their illustrious history, and Koeman says club president Joan Laporta must show Xavi more support than he was granted during his own spell in charge.

"The situation of Barca, of the team and of the club, is the same as when I was [there]," he said at a golf event in Barcelona. "It means that changing the coach does not always mean being able to improve. The situation of the club hurts me.

"From January I will be the coach of the Netherlands, but I ask for maximum support for Xavi. He is a good coach, a legend at home and it is not his fault that Barca is in this situation.

"The only thing I ask is support for Xavi, I haven't had the full support of a president, I hope he [Laporta] has learned and does support Xavi. I didn't have support from the club and I hope Xavi does.

"Internally, you can say you have doubts, but on the outside there has to be support." 

Barca enjoyed an upturn in results after the January arrivals of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ferran Torres but rivals Real Madrid are now 15 points clear at the top of LaLiga.

Los Blancos will secure their 35th title by earning a point at home to Espanyol on Saturday after winning eight of their last nine league games (one loss), and Koeman says that gap is evidence that his time in charge was not a complete failure, highlighting financial difficulties and presidential elections as having a severe impact throughout his tenure.

 

"When I left, Madrid was eight points ahead and now the difference is almost double," he added. "I don't feel like a failed coach, far from it. 

"In January we were twelve points behind Atletico Madrid, we had the opportunity to be first against Granada and we failed. We kept the Copa and if you win a title it's not a failure.

"I spent many months without a president, I had to make statements about the club's situation, there was financial fair play [issues]. Then Messi and [Antoine] Griezmann left on the last day of the market. 

"I was heavily criticised for signing Luuk Jong, who is very good when you need a finisher. Luckily his goals have given five or six points in the last few minutes. I think that one person or a coach cannot be blamed for the loss of [the club's] DNA."

Koeman will reclaim his former position as Netherlands head coach after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar when he takes over from Louis van Gaal and will be reunited with Blaugrana midfielder Frenkie de Jong.

De Jong has come in for some criticism for his recent displays and has been linked with a move to Manchester United, but Koeman believes the 24-year-old will prove any doubters wrong.

"I don't think Barca wants to sell Frenkie, Xavi doesn't want to either," he added. "You don't have to doubt Frenkie de Jong, I don't doubt him and he's a starter in the national team. We put a player on top of everything and two weeks later we criticise him."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has appeared to blame groups of Barcelona fans for an estimated 30,000 Eintracht Frankfurt fans gaining entry to the clubs' Europa League tie last week.

The second leg of their quarter-final clash saw Frankfurt record a famous 3-2 win after storming into a three-goal lead, as Barcelona were eliminated before swathes of German fans at Camp Nou.

An estimated 30,000 travelling fans gained entry to the stadium despite the Bundesliga club only officially receiving 5,000 tickets for the fixture, leading Laporta to claim he was "ashamed" of the club's handling of the situation last week.

The incident led to a number of Blaugrana fans boycotting their 1-0 loss to Cadiz on Monday, as the Catalan giants suffered back-to-back home defeats for the first time since April 2003, with some protesting against Laporta prior to kick-off.

The Blaugrana chief, however, has blamed club members for the overwhelming Frankfurt presence, accusing them of selling their tickets to German fans.  

"The club is not to blame for what happened against Eintracht, but it is responsible," Lapota said on Tuesday, speaking at a news conference called to explain the incident. 

"A group of members misused their season tickets, which they ceded to German fans.

"It is sad because we love this club, and it is hard to imagine season ticket holders giving their tickets to rival fans. But this happened, and it will be subject to analysis.

"There are around 7,000 members that purchased tickets with discount codes and [those tickets] ended up in German hands. We don't want it to become a witch hunt, but there is a lot of disappointment and we will look into possibly taking action.

"We didn't sell tickets to German fans beyond the 5,000 away tickets. Sales from Germany weren't allowed, and there were many people trying to buy tickets from there. The system of control worked up to a point, but some organised groups were able to breach the mechanisms in place.

"We inherited the system from the previous board. We thought it could work, but we have seen that for special games it doesn't.

"Tickets will now be non-transferrable for non-domestic matches and high-risk games. We are working on other measures so that it does not happen again."

Laporta did, however, admit that the club did not handle the situation perfectly, and was thankful to have avoided more serious consequences.

"I am sure we could have done better," he added. "It concerned us to see so many German fans arriving at the ground, but if we impeded them from entering, we would be talking about more serious incidents."

Under 58,000 Barcelona fans turned out to see Xavi's side fall to a demoralising defeat to Cadiz on Monday, one of their lowest attendances since the legendary midfielder returned as head coach.

Barcelona are not "throwing in the towel" in the LaLiga title race despite sitting 15 points behind leaders Real Madrid, according to Blaugrana president Joan Laporta.

Xavi's Barca slipped to a 1-0 home defeat against relegation-threatened on Cadiz on Monday, a day after Madrid came from two goals down to win 3-2 at top-four contenders Sevilla.

Carlo Ancelotti's Los Blancos still have Real Betis and Atletico Madrid to face in the final weeks of the season, but their 15-point lead looks to have secured the league title already.

However, Laporta is refusing to give up hope on an unlikely turnaround from Barca, who have a game in hand on the leaders.

"This holy week has been like the passion of Jesus Christ," Laporta said at a news conference on Tuesday.

"Holy Thursday was a disappointment and we ended Easter Monday with another. We have to recover and strengthen. After yesterday's setback, I'm not throwing in the towel.

"In football, anything can happen. I would have liked to speak today after beating Cadiz and talk about things I wanted, but if I did it would seem that I am going to be a victim."

The Cadiz loss further compounded a miserable week for Barca, who were eliminated at the Europa League quarter-final stage by Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday.

Laporta, who assured investigations are underway into how almost 25,000 Eintracht fans turned Camp Nou into somewhat of a home stadium for the Bundesliga side, believes Xavi "is looking for solutions".

"We were improving and now we are at a standstill," Laporta continued.

"In this final stretch of the league [season] we were doing well. We got a good result at the [Santiago] Bernabeu [4-0 win over Madrid] and now we're struggling to win.

"It's obvious. In the first leg against Eintracht we didn't play a [good] game, and in the second leg we lost. Against Levante, we also struggled.

"Xavi is analysing what happened and looking for solutions. But we also have to take into account that injuries are not helping us. A player like Pedri, a starter and a standout player, has been injured."

Barca will look to get back on track when they visit Real Sociedad on Thursday, and Laporta reiterated his belief in the Blaugrana.

"The situation is different from what we expected," he added.

"But while there is life, there is hope. Mathematically, it is possible. We have to fight in the seven [upcoming] finals to try to get the best possible final result.

"We mustn't throw in the towel, but it's going to be difficult to win the league. We have to be aware that we have seven finals and we have to win them to be in the Champions League."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone believes Barcelona president Joan Laporta merely demonstrated his intelligence and good taste by expressing interest in Joao Felix.

The Portuguese attacker has recorded six goal involvements in his last five games in LaLiga – four goals and two assists – which is as many as he managed in his previous 30 games in the competition, when he tallied just three goals and three assists.

Joao Felix is helping his side to a strong run of form as they chase Champions League qualification for another season, impressing not only Simeone.

Earlier this week, Barcelona chief Laporta confirmed an admiration for the 22-year-old, revealing he attempted to engineer a swap for the forward when Antoine Griezmann agreed to leave Camp Nou for Atleti early in the season.

Joao Felix's six league goals this season put him third in Atletico's goalscoring charts behind Angel Correa (11) and Luis Suarez (nine) for the season.

"I live from day to day, from game to game," Simeone told a news conference ahead of Atletico's clash with Alaves.

"[But] it doesn't seem surprising to me that a president as intelligent as Laporta speaks perfectly about Joao. It doesn't surprise me at all.

"He is in a great moment. He feels good, strong, committed to what the team needs, and we always look for that, he is performing and that is why he is playing."

The Atletico boss also confirmed the former Benfica prospect is "fine" and showing "no discomfort" after making two substitute appearances for Portugal during the international break.

Simeone's team are chasing Champions League qualification after winning five consecutive league games, having won just one of their previous 10. They could win six successive games in LaLiga for the first time in over a year – they won eight in a row on a run which ended in January 2021 – when they host Alaves.

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