Javier Tebas has declared there cannot be any negotiation for a European Super League, despite LaLiga's biggest clubs continuing to back the breakaway competition.

Real Madrid and Barcelona, along with 10 other European clubs, including LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid, announced in April their intention to form a new league.

The project was swiftly shot down, with UEFA, European governments, other clubs and fans condemning the proposal.

Under significant pressure, the six Premier League clubs involved – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham - quickly withdrew their interest, with Atleti, Inter and Milan all following suit.

However, Madrid and Barca, along with Juventus, remained involved in the project, with Los Blancos president Florentino Perez insisting European football needed the Super League.

UEFA's attempts to punish the rebel clubs have come to an end, with European football's governing body abandoning legal proceedings in September.

Despite the project seemingly lingering on, LaLiga chief Tebas insisted the breakaway cannot be allowed to happen, and is confident the idea is already a "dead issue".

"A Super League is not negotiable," he told Spanish radio show El Partidazo.

"Nor that the big clubs have to dominate national and international football. It is not the future. Any step that one gives there is yielding ownership.

"I do not give any chance of success to a Super League. In England they realised they were wrong. In Germany more of the same. The Super League is a dead issue."

Tebas also opened up on his relationship with Madrid president Perez, who he believes is the only one convinced by the Super League proposal.

"I haven't been to live football for a long time," Tebas added. "Why don't I go to the Bernabeu box? Florentino invites me to all the games at the Bernabeu.

"Peace with Florentino? I don't know. From a professional football perspective it is impossible for us to understand each other because we have two very different visions.

"The only one who is convinced of the Super League is Florentino. Neither [Barca president Joan] Laporta nor [Juve counterpart Andrea] Agnelli are.

"I have no doubt that if Florentino could, he would remove me from the league's presidency. In institutional politics, Madrid is making mistakes, they are making many enemies."

Arsenal spent almost £150million on new recruits during the last transfer window.

But the club are reportedly set to let Alexandre Lacazette go, leaving them short in experienced attacking options.

Manager Mikel Arteta is known as a meticulous planner and wants to be ready for Lacazette's departure.


TOP STORY – GUNNERS SET SIGHTS ON DCL AND WATKINS

Arsenal have Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins in their sights as they plan for Lacazette's exit, so say The Sun.

Lacazette is in the final year of his contract and the Gunners are unlikely to offer him a new deal, meaning he will depart either in January or at the end of the season as a free agent.

Arteta wants back-up to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and has the England forwards on the club's shortlist.

 

ROUND-UP

– Cash-strapped Barcelona have €16m to spend in the January transfer window according to Mundo Deportivo, with the publication also claiming Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling is among their top targets, potentially on loan given their financial challenges.

Robert Lewandowski appears to have had a change of heart and will renew his deal with Bayern Munich, reports Fichajes. The star striker had been linked with a move away from the Bundesliga champions.

– MilanNews.it reports that Milan are in negotiations with head coach Stefano Pioli about extending his contract following a bright start to the season.

– Man City are keeping an eye on Barcelona's 19-year-old midfielder Nico Gonzalez, according to Fichajes.

Struggling Getafe have sacked head coach Michel after less than six months in the post with the club sitting last in LaLiga.

Getafe claimed their first point of the 2021-22 season with Sunday's 1-1 home draw with third-placed Real Sociedad.

However, the draw was not enough to save former Real Madrid midfielder Michel's job, having been appointed in May.

Azulones have one point from eight league games this term, conceding 13 goals and only scoring three times.

Michel's dismissal follows Levante's decision to axe Paco Lopez on Sunday after their poor start to the season.

Levante are 18th, having lost three games in a row and collected only four points in a winless start to the 2021-22 campaign. Levante's winless run is 16 games and dates back to April.

Paco Lopez had been Levante head coach since May 2018, with 15th, 12th and 14th-place finishes respectively over the past three seasons.

Serge Aurier has joined LaLiga side Villarreal after leaving Tottenham on transfer deadline day last month.

The full-back ended his time with Spurs after agreeing a mutual termination of his contract.

Aurier will continue his career in Spain, joining the Europa League holders on a deal until the end of the season, with the option of extending his stay by a further two campaigns.

The 28-year-old Ivory Coast captain made 110 appearances for Tottenham following his move from Paris Saint-Germain in 2017, scoring eight goals.

Aurier helped the London club reach the Champions League final in 2019, as well as the EFL Cup showpiece two years later.

He also has vast experience at international level, winning 70 caps for his country.

Unbeaten Villarreal are 11th in LaLiga, winning two and drawing five of their opening seven games of the season.

Didier Deschamps is not worried about Antoine Griezmann's lack of form ahead of France's Nations League Finals campaign this week.

The 30-year-old returned to Atletico Madrid from Barcelona in a high-profile transfer at the end of August following two largely underwhelming campaigns at Camp Nou.

Griezmann was expected to revive his career in the Spanish capital, but he has managed just one goal and no assists in seven appearances in his second spell with Atletico.

That solitary strike came in last week's 2-1 win over Milan in the Champions League, though he was again left out of Atletico's starting lineup for Saturday's showdown with Barcelona.

He has been named in Deschamps' 23-man squad for this week's Nations League Finals, which will see France face Belgium in the semi-finals on Thursday.

Les Blues will then either take on Italy or Spain in Sunday's final or third-placed play-off, depending on the outcome of both semi-finals.

And Deschamps has no concerns about using Griezmann, who has 41 goals in 98 caps for France, in those matches.

"His goal in the Champions League was very positive," Deschamps said at a news conference on Monday. "Even though he didn't start, that goal will give him confidence.

"He has returned to a club he knows well, but with different players around him. He can't just click his fingers.

"But because of his qualities and state of mind, I do not worry about him. I know he will be happy to join up with the France team."

Griezmann played a full part for France in their World Cup semi-final clash with Belgium en route to lifting the trophy in 2018, setting up Samuel Umtiti's winning goal.

The Nations League presents France with a chance to add to that triumph, having exited Euro 2020 at the last-16 stage, but they must overcome two sides ranked in the world's top eight.

"There is a title at stake; we have a semi-final to play against one of the best teams in the world," he said. 

"With Italy and Spain on the other side, there are four of us fighting for this title. We did everything to qualify for this final phase in a very tough group. 

"We want to get this title. Before there were two titles: the Euros and the World Cup. Now there is the Nations League. Winning it is our goal."

Belgium have named a vastly experienced squad for the Finals, with Jan Vertonghen, Axel Witsel, Toby Alderweireld and Eden Hazard all boasting over 100 caps.

Roberto Martinez's men only reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2020, where they were beaten by tournament winners Italy – their only defeat in 17 matches and one of only two defeats in 31 games since November 2018.

Ranked number one in the world, Deschamps acknowledged France face a big task against Belgium on Thursday.

"They have evolved well, with six or seven players on 100 or more caps," he said. "They are the best team in the FIFA rankings and have a very experienced core.

"It is a beautiful generation of players, but one that has not yet had the happiness of success at the Euros or World Cup."

Deschamps added: "It's going to be a fight at a physical, tactical and technical level. There is a lot of respect between myself and Roberto Martinez and also between the players.

"But there is of course a rivalry there because we are border countries, which we also have with Italy and Spain.

"There was also the 2018 semi-final we played, but this match cannot change what happened then. That will not have too much importance this week."

Kylian Mbappe has revealed he asked to leave Paris Saint-Germain in July amid interest from Real Madrid as he wanted the Ligue 1 side to receive a transfer fee.

The France international was repeatedly linked with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu during the most recent transfer window after entering the final year of his contract.

Madrid are reported to have had three bids turned down for the France international in July and August, the last one said to be worth up to €200million.

Speaking about his future in detail for the first time, Mbappe confirmed in an interview with RMC Sport, which will be released in full on Tuesday, that he does not intend to sign a new deal at the Parc des Princes.

"I asked to leave," he said. "From the moment where I did not want to extend, I wanted for the club to receive a transfer fee so that they could bring in a quality replacement. 

"This club has given me a lot. I have always been happy across the four years I have had here, and I still am. I said it early enough so that the club could react. 

"I wanted everyone to come out of this stronger, that we leave hand in hand, to make a good deal and I respected that. I said, if you don't want me to go, I will stay."

Mbappe was reported to have rejected multiple offers of a new deal in the French capital, but the superstar forward has denied that was the case.

 

"People said I turned down six or seven extension offers, that I don't want to talk to [sporting director] Leonardo anymore – that's absolutely not true," he said.

"It's not for me to judge, but my position was clear. I said that I wanted to leave and I said it quite early. 

"Me, personally, I did not appreciate too much the fact of 'yes, he's [saying he wants to leave] in the last week of August...' because I said at the end of July that I wanted to leave."

Since joining PSG from Ligue 1 rivals Monaco in August 2017 on an initial loan that was made permanent a year later, Mbappe has scored 136 goals in 182 games.

That is a tally bettered by only Cristiano Ronaldo (149), now team-mate Lionel Messi (163) and Robert Lewandowski (191) across that period among players from Europe's top five leagues in all competitions.

Mbappe's 61 assists over the same timeframe is the sixth-highest total, meanwhile, with Bayern Munich's Thomas Muller leading the way with 75.

The 22-year-old has made a largely underwhelming start to the 2021-22 campaign, however, having scored only four goals in 11 appearances, though he does have five assists.

That includes a run of 17 shots without scoring in Ligue 1 since netting against Clermont Foot on September 11.

What does the future hold for Erling Haaland?

The Borussia Dortmund forward is wanted across Europe.

However, Haaland could remain in Germany…

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND SET FOR DORTMUND STAY?

Erling Haaland is a player in demand but he is not certain to leave Borussia Dortmund, according to Sport Bild.

Haaland has been tipped to depart Dortmund at the end of the season amid links with Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona, Manchester City, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

But Norwegian pundit Jan Aage Fjortoft suggests Haaland could remain at the Bundesliga outfit for longer than many expect.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sky Sports Italian claims Fiorentina chairman Rocco Commisso is concerned whether star forward Dusan Vlahovic intends to sign a new contract with Viola. Contracted until 2023, the Serbia international has been in talks regarding a new deal as the likes of City, Tottenham, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal and Inter reportedly circle.

- United are still backing under-fire manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to Fabrizio Romano.

- Tuttomercatoweb reports Atletico have joined the race to sign Chelsea's Timo Werner, who has found himself behind Romelu Lukaku at Stamford Bridge. Bayern and Dortmund are also reportedly eyeing Werner.

Madrid have been offered the chance to sign RB Leipzig Christopher Nkunku in 2022, says Mundo Deportivo.

Carlo Ancelotti reflected on a 2-1 defeat to Espanyol as Real Madrid's worst performance since he returned to the club.

A miserable week for Los Blancos took another turn for the worse when they missed the chance to restore a three-point lead at the top of LaLiga at RCDE Stadium on Sunday.

Sensationally beaten 2-1 by Moldovan side Sheriff in the Champions League in midweek, Madrid went down by the same scoreline following goals from Raul de Tomas and Aleix Vidal.

Karim Benzema pulled one back, but Ancelotti pulled no punches with his verdict after watching his side slip up before the international break.

The Italian said: "It was our worst game [of the season]. We played badly, there is not much more to say. We have to change our attitude this week.

"The defeat is not an accident because we deserved to lose. We are worried because two defeats in a row at this club is not customary and we must remedy this, correcting the errors."

Ancelotti says Madrid must reflect on their shortcomings during the international break.

He added: "We have started with an idea and the idea has changed with the first goal conceded. We were not able to keep calm and the idea and the team has been poorly positioned with the ball and without it.

"The approach was quite clear, I am not going to explain it now. The team has been very messy, with and without the ball. We have to fix it, I have discussed it with the players and they agree.

"Now comes the break. Sometimes it is better to play again immediately, but you have to use the break to reflect."

Real Madrid suffered a dismal end to a humiliating week as they were stunned 2-1 by Espanyol, missing out on the chance to restore a three-point lead at the top of LaLiga.

Madrid were the victims of one of the greatest shocks in Champions League history in midweek as they were incredibly beaten 2-1 by Moldovan debutants Sheriff at the Santiago Bernabeu.

And they now only lead LaLiga on goal difference after a limp performance at RCDE Stadium, where Espanyol took a 2-0 lead through goals from Raul de Tomas and Aleix Vidal.

Karim Benzema was in inspired form, and he gave Madrid hope in the 71st minute, yet the visitors were again left to reflect on a humbling despite their star forward's best efforts.

Save for a couple of tame shots from Benzema, Madrid struggled to create chances early on despite dominating possession, and they were punished against the run of play as De Tomas stole in at the near post to turn home Adrian Embarba's low right-wing cross.

Espanyol continued in the ascendancy without adding to their lead in the first half and were fortunate not to be pegged back four minutes into the second as Eder Militao's header drifted wide.

But Madrid's attacking threat remained largely conspicuous by its absence and Espanyol doubled their advantage when former Barcelona man Vidal was allowed to surge into open space from midfield, skip past Nacho and side-foot beyond Thibaut Courtois.

The hosts should have made it 3-0 as Madrid were caught cold on the counter, only for Sergi Darder to make a horrible mess of his finish with only Courtois to beat.

Benzema was then rightly denied by the offside flag but, after Darder stung Courtois' palms at the other end, the France international gave Madrid a chance with a superb individual effort, evading several challenges on the edge of the box before bending a pinpoint strike inside the right-hand post.

And Benzema looked to have teed Eden Hazard up for a spectacular leveller, but the offside flag was again correctly raised as Espanyol held on to deal Madrid an early blow in the title race. 

Could Darwin Nunez be the next Benfica star to make a big move?

Portuguese sensation Joao Felix swapped Benfica for Atletico Madrid in a club-record deal in 2019.

Now, Uruguay international Nunez is attracting interest from across Europe.

 

TOP STORY – CITY FRONT OF QUEUE FOR NUNEZ

Manchester City are leading the race to sign Darwin Nunez from Portuguese giants Benfica, according to the Daily Star.

Premier League champions City are desperate to sign a forward amid links with Tottenham's Harry Kane, Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic.

Nunez has also reportedly attracted interest from BarcelonaLiverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Milan, Inter and Atletico Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

– United forward Edinson Cavani could join Real Madrid in January, claims Mundo Deportivo. It comes as Cavani finds himself battling Cristiano Ronaldo for regular game time at Old Trafford, where the club's hierarchy are concerned amid their form under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

- The Daily Star reports Arsenal are weighing up a move for out-of-favour City forward Raheem SterlingBarca are also believed to be interested in Sterling, according to The Sun, as they face the prospect of missing out on Leipzig's Dani Olmo. The Spain international has been linked with United, Juventus and Bayern.

Liverpool are eyeing Pogon Szczecin midfielder Kacper Kozlowski, says the Mirror. The 17-year-old has been linked with Bayer Leverkusen, Milan, RB Leipzig and Salzburg.

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti ruled out the possibility of ever taking charge of LaLiga rivals Barcelona.

Ronald Koeman is under pressure at embattled giants Barca and Madrid great Guti said he would be open to coaching at Camp Nou.

Guti emerged from the youth system of boyhood club Madrid in 1995, going on to captain Los Blancos and win five LaLiga titles and three Champions League crowns among other honours before leaving in 2010.

The 44-year-old former Spain international midfielder returned to coach Madrid's youth team between 2013 and 2018.

But Ancelotti – in his second spell in the Spanish capital – has no plans to coach Barca, despite Guti's revelation.

"With all due respect to a great club like Barcelona, I can't," Ancelotti told reporters ahead of league-leading Madrid's trip to Espanyol on Sunday.

"I can't go against my history; my history says that I have coached Real Madrid, I am the Real Madrid coach.

"I can't go against this. With all due respect for a great club."

Madrid have won 20 of their last 23 games against Espanyol in LaLiga (D2 L1), scoring 61 goals during this time (2.6 per match) and keeping a clean sheet in 17 of them (eight goals conceded overall).

Los Blancos have beaten Espanyol in nine of their 11 visits to the RCDE Stadium in LaLiga (D1 L1) – more than any other visiting side at the ground in the competition.

Madrid have not lost any of their last 18 away matches in LaLiga (W12 D6), and should they avoid defeat to Espanyol, the club will record their longest unbeaten run away from home in the competition's history (19).

Ancelotti has not lost any of his last 17 matches in LaLiga (W14 D3), and could equal his best run as Madrid coach in the competition (18 between October 2013 and March 2014 - W15 D3).

Ronald Koeman is grateful to have been given "clarity" over his Barcelona future after president Joan Laporta confirmed the under-fire head coach will remain in charge of the beleaguered club.

Former Netherlands boss Koeman was widely reported to be on the verge of being sacked by Barca this week, with Saturday's trip to Wanda Metropolitano set to be his final game.

The Dutchman appeared to accept his fate when speaking to reporters at a pre-match news conference on Friday as he hit out at Laporta for failing to inform him face-to-face.

However, Laporta clarified ahead of Barca's clash with Atletico on Saturday – which ended in a 2-0 loss – that Koeman's position was not under threat regardless of the scoreline.

After being given a reprieve, the 58-year-old is already preparing for Barca's next batch of fixtures after the two-week international break.

"The conversation I had [with Laporta] over the phone last night was very good," Koeman said after the defeat to Atleti.

"We also spoke this morning about the squad, the club and other things. At least now there is some clarity in that sense. It's important for the dressing room that there is clarity. 

"But we are Barcelona, and now we have to start winning games. The pressure exists for any coach, particularly at Barcelona. After the break, we have three games we must win.

"We have spoken together and the president has made his decision."

 

Asked if he would have liked Laporta's backing sooner, Koeman said: "I think so, but we must highlight that it has now been said, and it will bring us tranquillity."

Laporta's public support came on the back of a run of one win in five games in all competition, which has now been extended by a further match following defeat to Atleti. 

Luis Suarez teed up Thomas Lemar for the opener and then tucked away the second himself before half-time to condemn his former side to their first league loss since May.

With that clinically taken goal, Suarez has now netted against all 31 of the teams he has faced in LaLiga, scoring 172 goals in total.

Barca had the whole of the second half to respond but managed just two attempts on target, only one of which – a Philippe Coutinho one-on-one – seriously troubled Jan Oblak.

"I'm sad about the result, but we were good in parts of the game," Koeman said. "We also let ourselves down, especially for the first goal.

"We talked before the game about how to defend. They have a lot of depth, but we failed to defend and 1-0 is a complicated scoreline.

"At times we could have done more damage. At two goals down against a team like Atletico, it is very complicated. We had the Coutinho chance, but that's it.

"We could not create much. We have to recognise that creating against Atletico is not easy. You have to play very well as they have a lot of defensive strength.

 

The Catalan giants are ninth in LaLiga after seven matches, five points adrift of leaders Real Madrid, who they face later this month after the visit of Valencia.

"There is a solution to our problems," said Koeman, who has not won any of his three games against Diego Simeone in LaLiga (D1 L2).

"But that solution is not from today to tomorrow. We have to work hard and give time to the youngsters. I also hope we will be able to recover injured players soon."

Luis Suarez insists his goal celebration during Atletico Madrid's victory over Barcelona was not a mockery of former boss Ronald Koeman.

Suarez was on target as reigning LaLiga champions Atletico intensified the pressure on the Barca head coach with a 2-0 win at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Latching on to Thomas Lemar's lofted pass in the 44th minute, the Uruguay forward steadied himself before firing past Marc-Andre ter Stegen for his fourth goal of the season.

Suarez has now found the net against all 31 opponents he has faced in LaLiga, taking his tally in the Spanish top flight to 172 goals.

The 34-year-old did not celebrate immediately after his strike – instead appearing to ask for forgiveness from the supporters of his former side, for whom he scored 198 goals in 283 appearances, as well as providing 97 assists.

However, he subsequently imitated being on the phone in what was perceived to be a jibe at the expense of Koeman, who informed the striker he was not in his plans after taking over the reins at the Camp Nou in August 2020.

But Suarez says the gesture was in fact the representation of an inside family joke.

"I already knew that if I scored, I would apologise – out of respect, affection," he said.

"[The phone signal] was for people who know that I have the same number and that I am still using the phone. 

"It was not for Koeman; I was joking with my children that I would do that."

The 2-0 victory also gave Atletico a third consecutive clean sheet against Barca for the first time in LaLiga history.

More importantly, it moved Diego Simeone's side level on points with leaders Real Madrid, who have a game in hand on their rivals.

"I'm happy for the team's victory, which is what we want," Suarez added.

"The opponent in front of us is special, but my work must be dedicated 100 per cent to Atletico.

"Last year, people suffered for not being able to enjoy the LaLiga title. 

"I know the affection that people have for me and I work hard and strong to keep Atletico at the top."

Gerard Pique accepts Barcelona were second best in their defeat to Atletico Madrid and says his side could have played for three hours and still would not have scored a goal.

The Catalan giants fell to a second straight defeat in all competitions – and their first in LaLiga since May – as they went down 2-0 to a Luis Suarez-inspired Atletico on Saturday.

Barca had two shots on target over the 90 minutes at Wanda Metropolitano, only one of which seriously troubled Jan Oblak as he kept out Philippe Coutinho's attempt.

Memphis Depay, who has had the joint-most shots on target of any player in LaLiga this term (13, level with Real Madrid's Karim Benzema), struggled up top as he fired over from his only effort.

Atletico were clinical at the other end by comparison, scoring from two of their six shots as Suarez set up Thomas Lemar for the opener and calmly tucked in a second before half-time.

Barca have now shipped five goals without response in their past two games, and Pique, who played a full part in the losses to Benfica and Atleti, recognises his side have multiple issues to work on.

"We started well, but they scored two similar goals from very little," he told Movistar. "It is difficult for us. We are suffering and there are several problems.

"People already know the issues. Even a blind man can see what we lack. But we will recover from this.

"It is not something we have experienced before, but the dressing room is good. We're not getting involved in anything else."

 

Pique was referring to the ongoing speculation over head coach Ronald Koeman's future, with the Dutchman's status uncertain after 14 months in charge, although he this week received a public vote of confidence from Joan Laporta.

Barca have won just one of their past six matches in all competitions and are ninth in LaLiga having played seven games, five points adrift of leaders Real Madrid.

Asked if he expects Koeman to leave before his side's next game at home to Valencia in two weeks' time, Pique said: "The players don't get involved in that.

"We just listen to what the coach tells us. There is little we can do. That's down to the president and the coach."

Barcelona lack many things right now: a top level coach, a Champions League wage budget, Lionel Messi, of course. But a nose for narrative? That has never been in question.

Luis Suarez's apologetic celebrations at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday, as Ronald Koeman checked the charge on his mobile phone, represented merely the latest desperate development for those of a Blaugrana persuasion – all too predictable, all too preventable.

For so long Suarez, who made one and scored one for Atletico Madrid in this 2-0 victory, had been in the Barca ranks, an unwitting spectator for a stretch of their spectacular collapse from European football's shining example to its great crisis club.

Barca at least had rather less say in the departure that kickstarted this decline than in Suarez's.

The beginning of the end, it seemed, came on the night of one of their greatest wins, a stunning 6-1 success against Paris Saint-Germain orchestrated by Neymar. In overturning a hefty first-leg deficit but allowing the Brazil superstar to step out from Messi's shadow, Barca's joy emboldened his desire to be the main man in his own team – the other team, to be precise.

Of course, Neymar left, and Barca, rather than rallying from behind, twice in the next two seasons built big European leads of their own – at home to Roma and Liverpool – only to remarkably let both bring about return-leg remontadas.

The Blaugrana, seemingly without a thought for their finances, responded to the Liverpool reverse with their third nine-figure signing in three years, as Antoine Griezmann followed Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele to Camp Nou and followed both in underwhelming.

By the time their next Champions League campaign concluded in typically farcical fashion, all three were on the bench – Griezmann and Dembele for Barca, Coutinho for opponents Bayern Munich. On came Coutinho, still on loan from Barca, to score twice in 15 minutes against his parent club. Since returning to Catalonia, he has scored three times in 1,041 minutes, missing their best chance on Saturday.

 

Bayern's 8-2 win prompted Quique Setien's sacking and Koeman's appointment, which surprisingly then spelled the end for Suarez. "The coach did not count on me," the striker said as he joined Atletico. "I expected it, it had already been said before he told me."

From an eight-goal humiliation, a club of Barca's size should only be able to head in one direction, back on the ascent. But Suarez's departure deepened the damage. An unsettled Messi allowed his contract to run down and, in a manner that only Barca could manage, had to leave even once he changed his mind.

Four years of bad decisions led Barca to this point and Suarez, starting in the Atleti attack, was never likely to be one for sympathy. With neither a coherent plan nor an individual of era-defining talent to fall back on, Koeman's side were ill-equipped to deal with a man he had deemed surplus to requirements.

Twice Atleti pulled the Barca back line apart, Koeman phoning in from the stands due to a touchline ban but mirroring the gesticulations of Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Memphis Depay as the visitors failed to get close to Suarez.

A drop of the shoulder from Joao Felix for the first brought him inside from the left to find his strike partner, whose first-time pass around the corner set Thomas Lemar clear to finish high into the net.

The same trio combined for number two, Lemar playing a patient one-two with Joao Felix down the same left flank and then lofting an inch-perfect pass over last defender Pique for Suarez to control, compose himself and steer past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

"The opponent in front of us is special, but my work must be dedicated 100 per cent to Atletico," Suarez told Movistar afterwards – the Atleti goal never truly troubled as they earned a third straight LaLiga clean sheet against Barca for the first time ever.

 

By full-time, Suarez had been able to remove the wide grin from his face long enough to console his former team-mates, having moments earlier been hopping with glee on the Atleti bench.

He was replaced with 18 minutes remaining but surely would have added to his tally had he stayed on the pitch. Instead, Atleti's final big opportunity fell to Griezmann, back on the bench in a big Barcelona game, this time playing the Coutinho role for the opposition. Rather than ruthlessly finish like either of the ex-Liverpool men when faced with the chance to punish the club he used to call home, Griezmann went for a pass, which he comically misplaced. With a future obligation in his loan switch meaning he will not return to Camp Nou like Coutinho, the France international need not have been so generous.

Despite sharing more than seven years between these two teams, Griezmann has somehow never scored in this fixture – featuring in every edition in that time – and never won LaLiga. Atleti had gone 20 without a win against Barca before last season's meeting, in which Griezmann started for the Catalans.

An underwhelming start to his second Atleti career saw him dropped for this game, setting the stage for Joao Felix to excel, contesting 10 duels, winning four fouls and playing a key role in both goals. Griezmann is an expensive substitute; Barca's €97million salary cap could not even fit him in the first team.

Nor, it seems, can they afford to sack Koeman, out of his depth but determined to stick around. His future, Joan Laporta said, was safe regardless of this result.

Surely only that financial factor will prevent Suarez from seeing off the coach that ended his Barca stay. Scoring against the 31st of 31 LaLiga opponents, the forward gave it a good go, at least.

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