Barcelona have confirmed forward Martin Braithwaite will undergo surgery on his left knee with reports the injury will rule him out for the remainder of 2021.

The 30-year-old Denmark international had asked to be substituted late in Barcelona's 2-1 win over Getafe last month due to left knee pain and missed his country's subsequent international fixtures.

Braithwaite had initially tried a conservative approach to manage the injury but Barca have confirmed he will go under the knife to resolve the issue.

"Martin Braithwaite has a femoropatellar injury in his left knee which has not responded to conservative treatment," the club wrote in a statement.

"The Danish striker will undergo surgery in the coming days. The club will publish a new injury update when the process has taken place."

It has been widely reported that Braithwaite will not return this calendar year, which is a setback for the Catalans who had forwards Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann depart during the recent transfer window.

Braithwaite scored seven goals in 42 appearances in all competitions for the Blaugrana last season, before netting a double in their opening LaLiga win over Real Sociedad.

Ronald Koeman says the situation with Ilaix Moriba at Barcelona is "horrible", claiming the teenager and his advisors are prioritising money over his career.

Moriba broke into the Barca first team in 2020-21, making 14 appearances in LaLiga and scoring his first goal as a substitute in the 2-0 win over Osasuna in March.

Barca have been in talks with the midfielder over a new contract, with his deal expiring next year, but little progress has been made in recent weeks.

Moriba was effectively sidelined for pre-season as the impasse continued and clubs began to be linked with offers, with Premier League sides including Manchester City and Liverpool said to be interested.

According to Sport, RB Leizpig have made an approach worth €8million, although Barca want closer to €15m if they are to sell.

The stand-off has left head coach Koeman deeply unimpressed as he believes Moriba should be a key part of the future of the first team.

"I talked with Ilaix two or three weeks ago. His situation, for me, is horrible," the Dutchman said on Friday.

"He's young. He's 18, he had the opportunity to play for Barca and he's the future of the club. And he doesn't play, he's not with us.

"At 18, the most important thing is to play, not money. But Ilaix and his people think differently. I'm disappointed with that because I believe more in football than in contracts.

"Money at 18 cannot be the most important thing."

 

Barca's spiralling levels of debt have made sales essential if Koeman wishes to add any further players to his squad.

Martin Braithwaite and Philippe Coutinho have both been tipped to leave but Koeman would prefer to keep them as he seeks ways to soften the blow left by the departure of Lionel Messi.

Clement Lenglet is also expected to stay, but Samuel Umtiti and Miralem Pjanic could be moved on.

"We're in a situation at the club where we listen to offers in a lot of cases, but Martin's doing well with us. I believe he has to stay," he said of Braithwaite.

"He's important for us. I like working with him a lot because he's disciplined and he accepts his role. He plays in different positions in attack and the other day we saw that he can score goals. We'll see."

On the defenders, he said: "I'm really happy to have five or six centre-backs. It's an important position for which there's a lot of competition, and we need them.

"Umtiti has fewer possibilities than the others. Lenglet is our only left-footer. He has a place and he'll have games. After the break, the matches start every three days and we need all the players.

"Pjanic and Umtiti will find it difficult to have minutes. The final decision is the player's, but they have a complicated situation, yes."

He added on Coutinho: "Philippe is out because I think he needs one more week of training and to be with the group before being added to the squad. And yes, I count on him because for me he's a great player.

"He can be important because he has effectiveness in his play. He can play in different positions. We need people like him.

"With Messi, we've lost a lot of goals and we have to look for goals in other players."

Koeman also revealed Pedri will play against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday but will then be given a two-week holiday following his exploits at Euro 2020 and then the Olympics with Spain.

"We've had time to think about what the best thing is for Pedri. We've decided that he'll play tomorrow, and then afterwards he'll have two weeks of holiday so he doesn't get to November or December overloaded," he said.

"I've spoken with [Spain coach] Luis Enrique. We'll give him two weeks of holiday because he needs it. It's impossible to endure what he's endured and he deserves a holiday of at least two weeks."

Manchester City's interest in signing Tottenham's Harry Kane is widely known but a deal appears no closer to materialising. 

The 28-year-old forward was absent for the two sides' Premier League game on Sunday, when Spurs took the points.

City have reportedly bid up to £125 million to sign the England international, who reportedly requested a move late last season.

TOP STORY - KANE FRUSTRATED AS SPURS REJECT CITY BID

Kane has grown frustrated with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy and thrown down the gauntlet with a proposed move to Manchester City, reports The Telegraph.

According to the report, the England forward feels that Levy has not honoured their meeting at the end of the 2019-20 season when he requested to leave Spurs if they underachieved.

Kane is also frustrated that Levy's tactics have seen fans turned against him and that the chairman is also refusing to sell or even accept calls from City.

The report claims that City have submitted a fresh £125m bid for Kane, which Spurs have turned down.

 

ROUND-UP

- El Larguero claims that Paris Saint-Germain director Leonardo has informed the players that Kylian Mbappe will stay to see out the remainder of his contract, due to expire in mid-2022, scuppering Real Madrid's hopes of signing him this month or in January.

- Samuel Umtiti, Martin Braithwaite and Miralem Pjanic are all on the chopping block at Barcelona, according to Diario AS, which claims the Catalans must sell three players this month to reduce their salary bill despite Lionel Messi's exit.

- Martin Odegaard is set to re-join Arsenal on a permanent deal from Real Madrid, says Fabrizio Romano. Talks are at their final stages with a deal until 2026.

- Tottenham are keen on Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma, reports Sky Sports. The Blues would demand a £25 million fee for the Frenchman.

- Internazionale are in talks to sign forward Marcus Thuram from Moenchengladbach, claims Sky Sport Italia.

- The Sun reports that Wolves are talking to Olympiacos about signing Portuguese defender Ruben Semedo on a one-year loan.

Ronald Koeman believes Barcelona played their best football in "years" during the opening hour of their first LaLiga game since Lionel Messi's exit as they saw off Real Sociedad 4-2.

Martin Braithwaite's brace after Gerard Pique had opened the scoring gave Barca a three-goal advantage with 59 minutes played in Sunday's contest at Camp Nou.

Julen Lobete and Mikel Oyarzabal scored quickfire goals to set up a nervy conclusion to the game, but Sergi Roberto struck in injury time to seal a deserved win for the home side.

It was the perfect way for the Catalan giants to put the shock of losing their all-time leading goalscorer Messi to Paris Saint-Germain on a free contract this week behind them.

And while Koeman would prefer to still have Messi in his squad, the Dutchman feels Barca proved there is life without their former captain as they outclassed La Real.

"We know that we are good with the ball, but we have worked hard on pressing and to do so with everyone," Koeman said during his post-match news conference. 

"We have to be more collective than before. For me, the team in the first half hour was the best Barca in years. It is the path we want to follow.

"I would like to have Messi in the team. Of course we don't have the player who decides games on his own, but this is more about the collective now.

"We have to create opportunities to score. Today we scored four so it's fine."

Pique got the ball rolling for Barcelona with his 19th-minute opener, heading in a pinpoint free-kick sent in by Memphis Depay on his competitive debut for the club.

Depay, Eric Garcia and Rey Manaj could only be registered by Barca on Saturday after Pique accepted a substantial pay cut to ensure they met LaLiga's salary cap limit.

Pique celebrated his goal by kissing the Barcelona crest on his shirt and Koeman hailed the long-serving defender for putting the team first.

"For me, Pique was also the team leader last year," Koeman said. "Due to injuries he couldn't play as much as he would have liked. He has been exemplary for all the Catalans."

 

Braithwaite was Barcelona's star performer in their opening match of the 2021-22 campaign with his two goals, which makes him the first Danish player to score a brace in LaLiga this century.

His double came from an expected goals return of 0.89 and Koeman expects the 30-year-old to play an important role this campaign, despite being heavily linked with a move away from Camp Nou.

"I have always said that he is a great example of a professional soccer player," Koeman said. "He always works for the team and he has improved his game – not only because of the goals. 

"He helps us in many areas. He also has speed and always he is very difficult to defend against. I am delighted to have players like him."

Barcelona are now unbeaten in their last 11 league games against Real Sociedad in LaLiga, but tougher tests lie in wait with Sevilla and Atletico Madrid to come in their next seven games.

Following a period of doom and gloom, Koeman is hoping for a positive future with returning supporters fully behind their side.

"We know that the season is very long and many things can happen," Koeman added. "If the fans see a team with enthusiasm, that tries to do things well, with a positive attitude, that always helps. 

"We need the fans. We have to leave them happy and I think they have gone home happy today."

Memphis Depay went some way to repaying Gerard Pique as Barcelona started life without Lionel Messi by beating Real Sociedad 4-2 in their first game of the LaLiga season.

Depay, Eric Garcia and Rey Manaj could only be registered by Barca on the eve of Sunday's game at Camp Nou because Pique took a substantial pay cut, ensuring the cash-strapped Catalan club met LaLiga's salary cap limit.

Impressive debutant Depay set up Pique for the opening goal after chants of 'Messi' reverberated around the stadium in the 10th minute of the Blaugrana's first game since his sensational move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Martin Braithwaite was on target at the end of the first half and added a second after the break before late goals from Julen Lobete and Mikel Oyarzabal set up an unlikely tense finale.

Sergi Roberto eased the nerves with a fourth Barca goal in injury time as they started the campaign with a richly deserved victory.

Antoine Griezmann headed against the crossbar as La Real struggled to contend with Barca's crisp passing and movement in a blistering start from Ronald Koeman's side, but Pique opened the scoring after 19 minutes.

Depay had been lively from the start and the Netherlands forward whipped in a pinpoint free-kick for the unmarked centre-back, who headed in from eight yards out.

Brave goalkeeping from Alex Remiro denied Depay a debut goal soon but Braithwaite doubled vibrant Barca's lead in first-half stoppage time, planting a powerful header into the net after Frenkie de Jong stood up an inviting cross.

Jorda Alba failed to hit the target with only Remiro to beat after he was sent clear early in the second half, but he made amends just before the hour mark.

Depay slipped the marauding full-back in with a clever pass and Remiro could only palm his cross into the path of Braithwaite, who fired home from six yards out.

Barca were relentless and Pedri forced a fine reflex save from the busy Remiro before Lobete pulled a goal back with a measured left-foot finish.eight minutes from time and Oyarzabal curled home a sublime free-kick.

Sergi Roberto sealed the points, though, tucking home the excellent Braithwaite's cross from the right.

Barcelona kicked off the post-Lionel Messi era with a 3-0 win over Juventus in Sunday's Joan Gamper Trophy clash at Estadi Johan Cruyff.

Messi gave a tearful farewell to Barca at a news conference on Sunday after it was confirmed this week the forward's 21-year association with the club has come to an end.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner's name was chanted by home supporters throughout the prestige pre-season match with Juve, who included Cristiano Ronaldo in their starting line-up.

Memphis Depay gave Barca the lead after three minutes and Martin Braithwaite added a second before the hour mark as Ronald Koeman's men rounded off pre-season with a win, with Riqui Puig scoring a fine third with the last kick of the contest.

New signings Yusuf Demir and Depay linked up for Barca's early opener, with the latter taking a throughball in his stride and picking his spot past Wojciech Szczesny.

That was Depay's third goal in four games since arriving from Lyon on a free transfer and he nearly had a second soon after when bending a free-kick narrowly over the crossbar.

Ronaldo was kept largely quiet during his 45 minutes on the pitch but did test Neto with a vicious shot in the first half, while Alvaro Morata was twice denied by the Barca keeper.

The hosts had some breathing space 12 minutes into the second period as Braithwaite's header from a Depay corner squirmed through the grasp of substitute keeper Mattia Perin.

Barca added a third goal to their tally in the final seconds through young midfielder Puig's curled effort from 20 yards to give Koeman hope of a bright future without club legend Messi.

Denmark will have to show more quality in front of goal in Monday's Euro 2020 clash with Russia if they are to have any hope of progressing from Group B.

Kasper Hjulmand's side have scored from just one of their 43 shots in this year's tournament, while their opponents have had seven shots against them and scored three times.

After losing 1-0 to Finland – a game overshadowed by the cardiac arrest suffered by Christian Eriksen – and 2-1 to Belgium, Denmark are now in the last chance saloon.

They can finish second if they beat Russia and Finland lose to Belgium, depending on the goals scored in those two matches, while only a win will do for third place.

Following positive updates on the health of Eriksen, who has been discharged from hospital, Hjulmand's focus for now is on getting three points against Russia in Copenhagen.

"No matter what, we shall go out there and try to win the match," he said. "It's going to be an unbelievably hard match against Russia.

"They are coming to Parken with a result they can use for something. We shouldn't force anything. We have to keep a level head."

Russia put their 3-0 loss to Belgium behind them with a 1-0 win over Finland last time out and will advance to the last 16 with a victory on Monday, while a draw may be enough.

The visitors have had a day's extra rest than Denmark, but head coach Stanislav Cherchesov insists there will be more to the game than fitness alone.

"That can be important at major tournaments, but not necessarily vital," Cherchesov said. "What will be vital is the tactics, the team, our approach. 

"I have no doubt that we will play at our best level. Our task is to do our job well and get the result."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Russia – Artem Dzyuba

Zenit forward Dzyuba exchanged passes with Aleksey Miranchuk for Russia's winner against Finland – albeit for a goal that was all about the quality of his team-mate's finish – to make it 22 goal involvements in his last 21 international appearances.

That includes 14 goals, the most recent of those coming in March's World Cup qualifying win over Slovenia. Dzyuba has showed that there is more to his game than scoring goals, and Russia will need their captain to be on top of his game on Monday. 

Denmark – Martin Braithwaite

Barcelona forward Braithwaite had seven of his side's 21 shots against Belgium without finding the net – the most by a Denmark player in a Euros match since Preben Elkjaer Larsen had 10 against Spain at Euro 1984.

He found himself in some promising positions in that loss to the world's top-ranked side, and was desperately unlucky not to score from a late header that hit the crossbar, but Denmark could do with one of Braithwaite's efforts ending in the opposition net.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Since the dissolution of the USSR, Russia and Denmark have only met once, in a friendly at Copenhagen's Parken Stadium in February 2012. Russia won 2-0.

– Russia kept a clean sheet last time out against Finland. They had conceded in 16 of their previous 17 major tournament games (Euros and World Cup), since keeping consecutive shutouts against Greece and Sweden at Euro 2008.

– Denmark have suffered defeat in each of their two group stage games at Euro 2020. They have twice previously lost all three of their group games in a European Championships tournament, doing so at Euro 1988 and Euro 2000.

– Russia are looking to record back-to-back wins at the European Championship for the first time since winning three in a row at Euro 2008, the first two wins of which were their final two group games.

– Yussuf Poulsen scored Denmark's goal in their 2-1 defeat to Belgium. Poulsen has only scored in consecutive appearances once for his national side, doing so in June 2018 against Mexico in a friendly and Peru at the World Cup.

Denmark's decision to resume their Euro 2020 clash with Finland following Christian Eriksen's cardiac arrest "was the least bad one", according to forward Martin Braithwaite.

Inter midfielder Eriksen was given CPR by medics late on in the first half of Saturday's Group B match after collapsing with no other players around him.

The fixture was suspended while Eriksen received life-saving treatment on the field, but it resumed a little under two hours later after the midfielder was confirmed to be "awake".

Tournament organisers UEFA said it agreed to restart the match "following the request made by players of both teams".

However, Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand said on Sunday that the game should never have resumed from the 41st minute, with his side going on to lose 1-0 in Copenhagen.

The Danes also had the option of coming back the following day, but Braithwaite believes the decision they made was the best on offer.

"None of the options were good. We took the least bad one," Braithwaite said at a news conference on Monday. 

"There were lots of players who were unable to play. We were in a bad place. We made the least bad decision."

Joel Pohjanpalo scored a famous winner for major tournament debutants Finland from their only attempt of the match, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg missing a penalty for Denmark 14 minutes later.

Kasper Schmeichel was also on the field at the time of the horrific incident involving Eriksen and agreed with Braithwaite that Denmark were put in a difficult spot.

"We have been put in a position where, on a personal level, I think we should not have been placed," he told reporters.

"We had two options: either come back the next day [Sunday] at noon or resume the game. 

"Someone higher up than us would have had to tell us that this was not the time to make such a decision, and that we should probably wait until the next day to decide.

"But what happened has happened, and let's hope they learn from it."

In the latest update provided by the Danish Football Union on Monday, Eriksen is said to be in a "stable and good" condition as he continues to be monitored in hospital.

Schmeichel revealed at the same news conference that Eriksen was "smiling and laughing" when he visited his team-mate in hospital on Sunday.

Denmark return to Group B action on Thursday with another home match against Belgium.

Kasper Schmeichel has revealed stricken Denmark team-mate Christian Eriksen is "smiling and laughing" in hospital after being kept alive by the "miracle" work of quick-thinking medics.

Inter midfielder Eriksen was given CPR on the pitch during the first half of Saturday's Euro 2020 clash with Finland in Copenhagen after collapsing with no other players around him.

Denmark's team doctor Morten Boesen confirmed on Sunday that the 29-year-old suffered a cardiac arrest and "was gone" before being resuscitated on the field.

In the latest update provided by the Danish Football Union on Monday, Eriksen is said to be in a "stable and good" condition as he continues to be monitored in hospital.

Eriksen also released a statement on Monday via his agent Martin Schoots, thanking those who assisted him and vowing to get to the bottom of what caused the cardiac arrest.

The former Ajax and Tottenham midfielder now appears to be on the mend, with Schmeichel allowed to visit him in hospital on Sunday.

Speaking at a news conference alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Martin Braithwaite on Monday, Schmeichel said he is "grateful" his colleague is still alive.

"It was damn nice to see him smile and laugh and be himself, and just notice that he is there," Schmeichel said.

"Visiting him was a wonderful experience and something that has helped me see that he was okay after lying there.

"We talked about nothing and everything. As long as he is well, that has to be the most important thing. He has experienced something that we have not experienced. 

"He has a completely different experience of the situation. It was great to talk to him, and now we have a lot of work to try to navigate."

Denmark skipper Simon Kjaer has been widely praised for stopping Eriksen from swallowing his tongue and placing his stricken team-mate in the recovery position.

Medics were on the field within seconds and provided the playmaker with life-saving treatment, while Denmark's players formed a ring around their team-mate in an attempt to preserve his privacy.

Opening up on the horrific incident for the first time, Schmeichel added: "It's a violent experience. But he is here today, and I am very grateful for that.

"The only heroes there are the doctors who saved him. We are professional football players, but these people dedicate their lives to saving people. 

"That they could do it under that pressure... I cannot describe how much admiration I have for them. That they could bring him back is a miracle. 

"I even think about how I would have my team-mates react if I was lying there. Then we have some amazing people on this team. A captain and a coach who knows how to act.

"It characterises us as a team and country that we stand together until the very end.

"I knew Christian's wife, children, and parents were there, so at one point I tried to look for them. It is an inhuman situation for them to go through.

"I have chosen to say to myself that this has had a happy ending. It's not the end yet, but it could have been so much worse."

Hojbjerg was also on the field at the time of the incident and was left shaken by the experience of watching his close friend receive CPR.

"I saw Christian lying there and looking towards the field. His eyes were white and I thought it looked very strange," Hojbjerg said.

"I saw Simon Kjaer rush off, and then you start thinking what it is. I walked slowly across. More and more first aiders came over, and I could see Simon waving his arms.

"I stood for a long time with the coaches and talked, and I could see that there are some arms that move with the first aid. That was creepy."

Barcelona forward Braithwaite added: "We were all about to lose a friend and a team-mate. 

"I do not remember exactly what I said in the prayer. But it has strengthened my faith, that's for sure."

UEFA originally suspended the fixture, but it was agreed the match would resume from where it left off less than two hours later, with Finland winning the Group B match 1-0.

Denmark are back in action on Thursday with another home game against Belgium.

Barcelona produced a storming fightback to reach the Copa del Rey final thanks to a dramatic 3-0 victory over Sevilla after extra time at Camp Nou. 

The Catalan giants hit the headlines at the start of the week when president Josep Maria Bartomeu was among those arrested on Monday - he was then provisionally released under charges of unfair administration and corruption of business - as part of a police investigation into last year's 'Barcagate' scandal. 

Barca's players looked anything but affected by off-field events, however, as they dominated the majority of the second leg, Ousmane Dembele giving them a richly deserved first-half lead. 

Lucas Ocampos had a penalty saved by Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen with 17 minutes to go and Gerard Pique made him pay by making it 2-2 on aggregate right at the end of stoppage time, moments after Sevilla had seen Fernando sent off. 

Martin Braithwaite put Barca in front early in extra time and Luuk de Jong - who had been substituted - was shown a red card for dissent after Sevilla were not awarded a penalty, with the hosts going through to face Athletic Bilbao or Levante in the final. 

Dembele opened the scoring in the 12th minute in a scintillating Barca start, showing excellent close control in the penalty area before drifting outside the box to find the top-right corner with a sublime right-footed finish from 20 yards out. 

The Blaugrana were causing Sevilla all sorts of problems with their slick passing and movement in a relentless first-half display, Marcos Acuna clearing a deflected shot from the brilliant Lionel Messi off the line. 

Barca were almost level when Jordi Alba's acrobatic volley rattled the crossbar and there was more drama when Ocampos' tame penalty was saved by Ter Stegen after the Sevilla player had been upended by Oscar Mingueza. 

Substitute Antoine Griezmann then produced the impact hoped for with time almost up, delivering an inviting cross for Pique to head home, this after Fernando was shown a second yellow card for upending Messi. 

Barca were in front for the first time in the tie four minutes into extra time, Braithwaite coming off the bench to nod in Alba's superb cross. 

Sevilla thought they had a second penalty for handball against Clement Lenglet but the VAR verdict ruled there was no intent, resulting in De Jong seeing red on a miserable night for the visitors.

Chelsea are chasing defenders and Niklas Sule is reportedly a target, with David Alaba seemingly set for Real Madrid.

Premier League outfit Chelsea have been linked with defenders, particularly since Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard at the helm.

They have three at the top of their list.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA EYE SULE

Bayern Munich defender Sule is on Chelsea's shopping list, according to Sport Bild.

The report says Sule's Bayern team-mate Alaba , who is out of contract at the end of the season, and RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano are also among their targets.

Chelsea have kept back-to-back clean sheets since Tuchel took over last month.

 

ROUND-UP

- Alaba seems set to head elsewhere. Marca reports Real Madrid have a four-year agreement in place with Alaba, who has passed his medical.

- Borussia Dortmund seem to be preparing for Jadon Sancho's exit. Sport Bild reports PSV attacker Donyell Malen and Lyon star Memphis Depay, who is also apparently wanted by Barcelona, are targets for Dortmund with Sancho likely to leave at season's end.

- With Andre Villas-Boas having left his post, Marseille are looking for a new coach. Sky Sport reports former Chelsea and Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri has turned down an approach from the Ligue 1 side.

- John Terry is on the list of candidates to become the next Bournemouth manager, according to the Daily Mail. The Championship side sacked Jason Tindall and are said to be looking at the Aston Villa assistant.

- Martin Braithwaite could have left Barcelona. Sport reports the forward turned down a loan move to West Brom during the previous transfer window.

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