Franck Kessie will not stay in Serie A, but instead will be forming part of Xavi's rebuild at Barcelona.

After a long contract saga at Milan, the Ivorian midfielder will reportedly leave the Serie A title contenders at the end of the season on a free transfer.

The 25-year-old will be the last player to leave from Milan's notorious splurge of 2017, which saw the club nearly break the €200million mark on over 10 players.

TOP STORY – KESSIE SET FOR BARCELONA MOVE 

Those who have followed Franck Kessie's contract situation with Milan will be aware a €6.5million salary was his reported benchmark. Milan have been reticent to pay that figure gross, but Barcelona are said to be willing to pay it net.

Protracted contract renegotiations between Kessie and Milan have failed to come to a resolution, and while  Ismael Bennacer and Sandro Tonali become more central to Stefano Pioli's plans, letting Kessie go has seen increased scope.

According to the Guardian, Kessie will leave the Rossoneri at the end of the season on a Bosman and join Barcelona with a contract that will last until 2026.

ROUND-UP

- According to reports from La Gazzetta dello Sport, Juventus are preparing a substantial package to lure 29-year-old Mohamed Salah away from Liverpool.

- Having started on the bench with Karim Benzema injured in El Clasico, Luka Jovic is not considered as a requirement going forward at Real Madrid and will leave the club in the summer, as reported by Marca.

- Brazilian winger Raphinha has rejected Leeds United's first approach over a new contract, per UOL.

- Former Manchester United and Netherlands striker Ruud van Nistelrooy is tipped as the frontrunner to take over as coach at another former club of his, PSV, according to the Mirror.

Barcelona claimed a second Clasico victory in three days as the Blaugranes beat Real Madrid 3-1 in the Women's Champions League quarter-final first leg.

Just 48 hours after Xavi mastered a 4-0 rout at Santiago Bernabeu, the Femeni followed suit at Estadio Alfredo di Stefano; Alexia Putellas scoring twice as they came from behind to record a 40th consecutive win in all competitions.

Despite enjoying 57 per cent of the first-half possession, Barca trailed at the break after Olga Carmona struck in the eighth minute for the hosts, who also hit the post through Esther Gonzalez.

That was only the second goal the reigning champions had conceded in this season's Champions League – and first since their 5-1 rout of Arsenal in September.

But the visitors, who last suffered defeat when they were beaten 4-3 by Atletico Madrid in June 2021, responded in the 53rd minute; Putellas slotting home from 12 yards after VAR ruled that Carmona had fouled Caroline Hansen in the box.

The Blaugranes completed the turnaround nine minutes from time, Claudia Pina drilling home after the ball ricocheted kindly into the substitute's path.

Putellas then wrapped up the victory deep into stoppage time; rounding off a quickfire counter with her seventh goal in the competition - and seventh in six appearances against Madrid.

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has said he and his team-mates "must live up to history" after suffering a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of rivals Barcelona in El Clasico.

Goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ronald Araujo and Ferran Torres condemned Madrid to a shock humbling at the Santiago Bernabeu, though they remain nine points clear at the top of LaLiga ahead of second-placed Sevilla.

Los Blancos head coach Carlo Ancelotti apologised after the game, saying: "It was not a good night, we are sorry for the fans, but we have to look forward. We have an advantage, we have to rest and come back."

On Monday, Courtois was also in a reflective mood, stopping short of apologising in a pair of Twitter posts, but insisting the players will bounce back from their first Clasico defeat in three years.

"Yesterday was a sad day, but we are a team," the Belgium international posted. "Whether we win or lose, we do it together and we will react in the same way.

"I know it's still painful to think about it and ask for it, but trust that this team will give everything to win the titles we have at stake.

"We are in the best position to do it and we are Real Madrid, we must live up to history and you Madridistas. Now more than ever #HalaMadrid".

Madrid are due to play Courtois' former club Chelsea in the quarter-final of the Champions League after a dramatic 3-2 aggregate win over Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16.

The pressure mounted on Paris Saint-Germain again after another defeat in Ligue 1 this weekend.

The Parisians are 12 points clear at the top but have lost four of their past six games.

Lionel Messi has only netted twice in Ligue 1 since his move from Barcelona, while fellow free signing Sergio Ramos has also only played five times.

 

TOP STORY – PSG TO BLOCK MESSI OR RAMOS RETURNS

Marca reports that PSG would block any potential return to Barcelona or Real Madrid for either Messi or Ramos respectively.

The Ligue 1 giants signed both players last year from those respective clubs, yet there has been reports claiming they may want to return to Spain.

Ramos has struggled with injury while Messi has not been able to discover his best goalscoring form, but PSG are eager to hold on to them.

Messi joined on a two-year deal last August, while Ramos also penned a two-year deal last July.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bayern Munich have made an opening bid for Ajax's Ryan Gravenberch according to Fabrizio Romano. The fee is approximately €25million but Ajax want more.

- Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG and Madrid are all circling for Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni but the Ligue 1 club will not accept less than €50m for him claims Foot Mercato.

- Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti wants to sign Inter midfielder Nicolo Barella according to El Nacional. Barella's arrival could force Toni Kroos out too.

- Aston Villa are prepared to pay £60m for Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips claims The Times.

Barcelona head coach Xavi and captain Sergio Busquets have both not ruled out a remarkable late title push after their stunning 4-0 Clasico victory.

The Blaugrana overwhelmed league-leading Real Madrid with a double from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang along with strikes from Ronald Araujo and Ferran Torres at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The victory means third-placed Barcelona have 54 points from 28 games, but still trail Madrid by 12 points although the Catalans do have a game in hand.

But Barcelona have been buoyed by an exceptional turnaround in form since Xavi's arrival as boss along with their flurry of January transfers which have boosted the side.

The Blaugrana are on a 10-match unbeaten streak in LaLiga while they have won their past five league games.

Barcelona has a record of eight wins and three draws from 11 matches in all competitions since the closure of the January transfer window too, offering them momentum.

"I don't know if we can win the title, we can't rule out anything," Xavi told reporters after the Clasico. "Maybe we're a bit late, but this is a very big win for us.

"We were much better than Real Madrid. We played almost as a home team in the the ground. It's a day to enjoy, not only as a Barca manager but also a fan.

"We could easily have scored five or six. We changed our negative dynamic of losing the last few Clasicos."

Busquets reiterated Xavi's sentiment that Barca retained some title hope, albeit small.

"If we still have a small chance to make a run for the title, we will fight until the end," the 33-year-old midfielder said. "It's very difficult but in football anything can happen. We are Barca."

In just three words, Barcelona centre back Gerard Pique summed up the feelings of Blaugrana die-hards after beating Real Madrid 4-0: "We are back."

It was a stunning display away from home at the Santiago Bernabeu for Xavi's side, netting two goals in each half to spin the Spanish football world on its axis for a night.

Pique played all 90 minutes alongside centre back partner Eric Garcia, marshalling a stout defence to a stylish clean sheet and providing an outlet for the Barcelona midfielders as they retained 60 percent of possession.

Barca are now on a 10-match unbeaten streak in LaLiga, with six wins and four draws, as well as making it through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League, where they will play Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Camp Nou club also has a record of eight wins and three draws from 11 matches in all competitions since the closing of the January transfer window, sporting a goal-difference of plus-21 during that span.

Since Xavi took over in early November, Barcelona have taken 37 points from 16 LaLiga games, while Madrid have claimed 39 from 17 outings, indicating the rivalry may be much closer than this season's table indicates.

Carlo Ancelotti apologised for Real Madrid's shocking 4-0 capitulation to Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu, admitting: "It's all gone wrong."

Madrid, who still hold a nine-point lead over second-placed Sevilla in LaLiga, were mauled by a resurgent Barcelona as Xavi's first taste of this LaLiga clash as a coach ended in glorious triumph for the visitors.

Barcelona are nowhere near being in the hunt for the league title this season, but this was a fifth consecutive win in the competition, and in four of those games they have hit four goals. They are now third and pushing to finish second.

Since his November appointment, Xavi's Barcelona have taken 37 points from 16 games in LaLiga, while Madrid have 39 from 17 outings.

These great rivals are going toe to toe again in the second half of the season, and it is little wonder Madrid want to sign Kylian Mbappe to strengthen their ranks for next term, given momentum is suddenly all with Barcelona.

Ancelotti nudged Luka Modric into more of an attacking role, the 36-year-old midfielder deployed as a false nine in the absence of a genuine number nine in Karim Benzema, who is injured and was sorely missed.

The head coach said that was intended as a means of taking control of the ball and looking to press high, with Modric primed to bring others into the game.

"And it hasn't worked out," Ancelotti said. "When they advanced, we lost control. They hurt us. It was not a good night, we are sorry for the fans, but we have to look forward. We have an advantage, we have to rest and come back.

"I tried to push up and it hasn't come off, my fault. It's hard because it's a Clasico, we're very sorry, it's a blow, we've lost a battle, but we have an advantage, we have to be calm, calm and recover. We don't have to make a drama out of this match. We're sorry. It's all gone wrong, we have to forget it and look forward."

 

With four defeats in six editions of El Clasico as a coach, Ancelotti has found it difficult to manage this fixture.

"I've failed in this game, but I'm not making a big deal out of it," he said.

This is Ancelotti's second stint in charge of Los Blancos, after he was lured away from Everton ahead of this season. His Madrid side won 2-1 at Camp Nou in October, prior to Xavi's arrival, and then beat Barcelona 3-2 after extra time in the Supercopa semi-finals in January.

Former Barca playmaker Xavi has increasingly brought a serenity to affairs at a club where there was considerable chaos earlier in the campaign.

Now it will be Ancelotti's task to ensure Madrid are not left scarred by a defeat in which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ran the hosts ragged, scoring twice and teeing up another goal for Ferran Torres. Ronald Araujo also beat Thibaut Courtois, whose goal was peppered with shots as Madrid defended dreadfully.

Xavi became the third Barcelona coach to win his first LaLiga Clasico by four or more goals, after Ferdinand Daucik in 1951 (7-2) and Helenio Herrera in 1959 (4-0).

Ancelotti is optimistic Madrid's supporters will allow him and the team a blip, even one of such scale against the club's greatest enemies.

"They understood that it was not a good night," Ancelotti said. "We don't know what will happen in the coming months. We can recover and win the next game. I don't think this will affect the team."

Barcelona head coach Xavi said the 4-0 Clasico thumping of Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu was the perfect template for how he wants his side to play.

A Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang brace and goals from Ronald Araujo and Ferran Torres sealed a memorable win for the Blaugrana, who had lost their previous five games against Carlo Ancelotti's league leaders.

The win meant Xavi became just the third coach to win his first Clasico match by four or more goals in LaLiga history, after Ferdinand Daucik in 1951 and Helenio Herrera in 1959.

Barca were superior to their hosts in every department and Xavi believes his side can be a match for anyone if they continue to perform at that standard.

"We didn't expect to be so superior at their stadium," he told a media conference.

"They've had a rest week and we arrived from Turkey [after playing Galatasaray] on Friday. We played a spectacular game and I leave very satisfied.

"We have been far superior to Madrid, in the game and the result. We leave with tremendous satisfaction and a smile from ear to ear.

"I'm very happy for Barcelona for what it represents. It can change the dynamics of the present and future.

"Has Barca returned? I'll leave it to you. But yes, this is the idea and the game model to follow. We have very good players and they enjoy themselves on the pitch.

"And I would highlight how they work, how they help the team. We are a family in the locker room and is very important. 

"I'm very proud and happy. Barcelona fans have to enjoy it because lately we haven't had much joy, especially in the Clasicos. Playing like this we can compete with anyone.

"I'm very happy for the players, they've shown they're great footballers and it means a lot. I'm a rookie as a coach and winning 4-0 here strengthens me a lot. Barca has to compete playing this way."

 

Despite the result, third-placed Barca are still 12 points adrift of leaders Madrid, although they do have a game in hand. 

Xavi stopped short of claiming Barca are back in the title race, but he did say there is still plenty left for his side to achieve this season.  

"There is work to do," he added. "We won three points, it's not a title. Let's keep working, there's a lot left. The objectives have not been covered, not even for this season.

"I've already said it, as well as being a coach, I feel for this club. I think it's the best club in the world. We're going to celebrate now and enjoy it."

Barca are next in action on April 3 when they host second-placed Sevilla. 

Dani Alves says Barcelona "lived a night to frame" after an emphatic 4-0 Clasico victory over Real Madrid on Sunday.

Having not beaten their rivals since March 2019, the Blaugrana ended their three-year wait in spectacular fashion at Santiago Bernabeu.

The in-form Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a brace, while Ronald Araujo and Ferran Torres were also on target during the comprehensive rout.

Xavi's side trail the LaLiga leaders by 12 points, but still have a game in hand and are full of momentum after stretching their unbeaten run over 90 minutes to 20 matches across all competitions.

Alves, who replaced Jordi Alba for the final four minutes, was a regular feature in El Clasico during his initial stint with Barca between 2008 and 2016.

When asked if this was his favourite victory over Madrid, the defender said: "It is difficult; winning here is always a pleasure and I would not choose, but always the moment is special. 

"We haven't beaten them for a while and breaking the streak is special.

"Once again, here in the rival's house, we have lived a night to frame.

"The mission is to recover our identity and this will take us to the top. That was always the case, and it will not change. Barca has a way of playing and a philosophy and that is what has made Barca great. 

"LaLiga is difficult, but they are letting us dream and dreaming is free. We have to do our part and see what happens."

Fellow defender Eric Garcia felt the performance epitomised the great strides Barcelona have made following their difficult start to the campaign.

"It's a perfect night," he added. "The first part, even I was surprised by how we played; a spectacular level and we have shown what we are capable of. 

"The season started in a hard way, but we are young, we want to beat the world, and we have to continue like this. 

"It is a spectacular result and hopefully, the following years we can get results like that."

Barcelona ended a five-game losing streak against Real Madrid in sensational style as they sealed an emphatic 4-0 Clasico victory at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Xavi's men were dominant from the outset and went in at the break two goals up following headers from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ronald Araujo.

They picked up where they left off at the start of the second period, with Ferran Torres and Aubameyang completing the scoring before the hour mark.

The Blaugrana are still 12 points behind Carlo Ancelotti's league leaders, although Xavi's third-placed side do have a game in hand. 

Federico Valverde drew a smart stop from Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the early stages, while at the other end Thibaut Courtois denied Aubameyang and Ousmane Dembele in quick succession.

Torres then whipped narrowly wide from just outside the penalty area before Barca's dominance bore fruit in the 29th minute when Aubameyang headed in Dembele's right-wing cross from inside the six-yard box.

Courtois denied Aubameyang a second soon after, yet Madrid found themselves 2-0 behind after 38 minutes when an unmarked Araujo nodded home Dembele's corner from eight yards.

Torres made amends for a glaring miss 20 seconds into the second half with Barca's third in the 47th minute, the Spain international slamming into the net after he had been superbly picked out by Aubameyang's back-heeled pass. 

Aubameyang made it 4-0 in the 51st minute with a sumptuous finish over Courtois after being played in by Torres, the goal given by VAR after it had initially been ruled out for offside. 

Torres, Aubameyang and Dembele all had wonderful chances to compound Madrid's misery further, yet it mattered little in the end as Barca extended their unbeaten away run in LaLiga to 11 games in memorable fashion. 

What does it mean? Barca stun Ancelotti's insipid charges

Only Sevilla have conceded fewer goals than Madrid in LaLiga this season, yet Los Blancos' backline had no answer to Barca's breathtaking attacking display.

The result meant Xavi became only the second Blaugrana head coach to remain unbeaten after his first 10 away games in LaLiga after Ernesto Valverde, who did not lose any of his first 18. If the Catalan giants continue to play like this on the road, Xavi will have no issues powering past that record.

Aubameyang's hot streak continues

Aubameyang has wasted little time making an impact since his arrival from Arsenal last month. The Gabon international has now scored in each of his last five meetings with Madrid (seven goals), making him the first player to score in five successive games against Los Blancos in the 21st century.

Madrid's dismal defence

Eder Militao and David Alaba endured a torrid time against Barca's supreme forward line. The visitors broke through the duo's wafer-thin resistance with alarming ease and could easily have won by an even greater margin, with a combination of wasteful finishing and Courtois' goalkeeping stopping the scoring at four.

What's next?

Madrid are next in action on April 2 when they visit Celta Vigo in LaLiga, while Barca travel to Sevilla in the Spanish top flight a day later.

Manchester City have topped the Deloitte Football Money League for the first time.

The reigning Premier League champions became just the fourth club ever to come top of the Deloitte list, which examines the top-performing football clubs in terms of revenue every year.

City's revenue of £571.1million (€644.9m) over 2020-21 saw them climb from sixth to first for 2022. Their annual figure has grown by nearly 45 times since the first year of the Money League covering the 1996-97 season.

Real Madrid (€640.7m) came second and Bayern Munich (€611.4m) were third and were the only two clubs to generate more than €600m of revenue in both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years.

Barcelona (€582.1m) fell to fourth, with Manchester United (€558m) in fifth, the lowest position they have ever occupied. Paris Saint-Germain (€556.2m), Liverpool (€550.4m), Chelsea (€493.1m), Juventus (€433.5m) and Tottenham (€406.2m) completed the top 10.

Premier League clubs dominate the higher rankings, with 11 teams from England's top flight in the top 20, including Wolves for the first time.

Matchday revenues across the leagues fell to an all-time low of €111m, or one per cent of the clubs' total revenue, due to the impact of playing behind-closed-door matches during the heigh of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe.

Broadcast revenue increased by €1.4billion from 2019-20, but that was largely put down to the distribution of funds being deferred after domestic competitions were put on hold and then completed later in the year.

In total, the clubs in the Money League generated €8.2bn in revenue, an increase of less than one per cent on 2019-20 and more than €1bn lower than in 2018-19.

"Money League clubs have missed out on well over €2bn of revenue over the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons as a result of COVID-19," Deloitte said.

Xavi called on Barcelona to change their recent fortunes against Real Madrid, although he was unsure whether his side struggled with an "inferiority complex" against their Clasico rivals.

Barca are 15 points adrift of Carlo Ancelotti's runaway LaLiga leaders and have lost their past five games against Madrid in all competitions.

That streak has only been bettered once in meetings between the two rivals, with Los Blancos enjoying a seven-game winning run between April 1962 and February 1965.

However, since Xavi's arrival, Barca have climbed to third in the league, taking 34 points from 15 games in LaLiga, a record only beaten by Madrid in that period (39 points).

The Blaugrana head coach wants his side to call upon that recent form to right the wrongs of previous clashes with Ancelotti's team.

"I don't know if there was an inferiority complex, I wasn't in charge," Xavi told reporters at Saturday's pre-match news conference when asked about Barca's recent Clasico record.

"It's a great opportunity to change history, and a win would greatly support what we're working on.

"I don't know if we arrive with more self-esteem than previous years, but we do have good dynamics and enthusiasm against a rival who are in great form.

"We have to be brave, trying to impose our ideas, but also calm because there will be moments of everything. From my experience, I can transmit calm; it is just another chance for three points, and we have to try to enjoy the occasion.

"Luckily, I have very good memories of great victories and great feelings having played very good games there [at the Santiago Bernabeu] and also winning, something that does not always happen."

 

Barca will be boosted by the confirmed absence of Madrid talisman Karim Benzema, who limped off towards the end of Monday's 3-0 win over Real Mallorca.

The France international tops the LaLiga scoring charts this season with 22 goals, finding the net on average once every 93.6 minutes, and also leads the way with 11 assists.

Xavi acknowledged Benzema's injury will be a blow to Madrid's chances, with the striker having scored in two of his past three meetings with Barca in all competitions, as many as he had in his previous 16 appearances against the Blaugrana.

"Benzema is one of the best strikers in the world, it's a bad loss, but for us our approach doesn't change," Xavi said. "I suppose that for them it can change something.

"How to replace Benzema is a question for Ancelotti, but he has options."

Even with victory in the Spanish capital, Xavi acknowledges Barca's chances of a title push remain incredibly slim.

Asked if there was greater pressure to win against Madrid to spark a late surge, he responded: "I don't see it that way, the pressure is the same.

"If we win, we would be closer to the first objective, which is to be in the Champions League next season. But I see winning the league as complicated. We would be within 12 points, with a game in hand, it is complicated.

"If we win, I do see a parallel with 2004 [a 2-1 win at Madrid]. That victory didn't help us win the league either, but it did strengthen us and change the dynamic, as could happen now."

Olivier Giroud has been handed a recall by France and a chance to put himself firmly back in Didier Deschamps' World Cup plans.

The Milan striker has not featured in a match for France since Les Bleus exited Euro 2020 at the hands of Switzerland last June.

He has 46 goals for his country in 110 games, which puts him only five strikes behind Thierry Henry on the team's all-time list.

It appeared Giroud's international career might be over as coach Deschamps opted against calling him into recent squads.

However, a calf injury sustained by Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, ruling him out of Sunday's game against Barcelona, has led to Giroud landing a summons to join up with France for the upcoming friendlies against Ivory Coast and South Africa.

The French Football Federation announced the news on its website, adding that the France staff wished Benzema "a swift recovery".

Deschamps spoke about Giroud after excluding him from a 23-player squad on Thursday, pointing to the 35-year-old's impressive form for Milan.

Giroud has helped Milan top Serie A, scoring eight goals in 20 games in the league, ahead of Saturday's trip to face Cagliari.

Assessing Giroud, Deschamps said: "It's going well for him at the moment. He's scoring important goals with Milan. I'm happy for him.

"I've got decisions to make. I know what Olivier is capable of doing with us. He remains available to France even if I haven't called him up for this get-together."

Now, though, Giroud comes into the picture once again, eight months out from the World Cup in Qatar.

France play Ivory Coast in Marseille on March 25, and South Africa in Lille four days later.

Xavi perfectly embodies the characteristics of Barcelona and has improved the Catalan giants since taking over, according to Real Madrid counterpart Carlo Ancelotti.

The pair are set to face off at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday in the third and final Clasico of the season, with Madrid boasting a 10-point lead at the LaLiga summit.

Barcelona are five points further back, albeit with a game in hand, in what has been a disappointing campaign on the whole for the club.

Results have improved over the past two months, however, with Xavi – appointed as Ronald Koeman's successor in November – steadily transforming his side's fortunes.

Since Xavi's appointment, Barcelona have taken 34 points from 15 games in LaLiga, a record only bettered by Madrid since then (39 points).

Thursday's 2-1 win over Galatasaray helped Xavi's side through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League, meanwhile, and extended their unbeaten run to 11 matches.

That is Barca's longest-such streak since January 2020 under Ernesto Valverde, giving Xavi's side some momentum heading into their showdown with fierce rivals Madrid.

And Ancelotti, whose three defeats in five LaLiga meetings with Barca is his joint-worst against any side in LaLiga, along with Atletico Madrid, has been impressed by Xavi's work.

"The identity of Barcelona has not changed," he said at Saturday's pre-match news conference. "They are a team with a very clear style and Xavi embodies it perfectly. 

"Barcelona have improved a lot and they are in a good dynamic. My opinion is that he is doing very well."

 

Xavi is still early in his coaching career, especially in comparison to veteran of the dugout Ancelotti, with Sunday's clash his second taste of this historic fixture as a manager.

The midfield legend is aiming to avoid becoming only the third Barca boss, after Ernesto Valverde and Ronald Koeman, to lose his first two Clasicos this century.

Defeat for Barca would see them fall 18 points behind the leaders, but Ancelotti insists the game in the Spanish capital is not make-or-break for the visitors.

"If we win we have three more points; if we tie, one; if we lose, none," he said. "I wouldn't rule out Barcelona in any case, whatever happens. Because they will fight until the end."

Should Barca avoid defeat, Xavi will become only the second Barca coach to go unbeaten in his first 10 LaLiga away games after Ernesto Valverde, who was unbeaten in 18.

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed that Karim Benzema will miss Sunday's Clasico clash with Barcelona.

The top scorer in LaLiga this season with 22 goals, Benzema will not be available to face the Blaugrana at Santiago Bernabeu.

The France international netted twice in Monday’s 3-0 victory over Real Mallorca, but limped off towards the end of the contest indicating a problem with his calf.

Ancelotti, who is also without Ferland Mendy, revealed that Benzema will also not link with Les Bleus during the forthcoming international break.

Addressing the media during his pre-match conference on Saturday, the Italian said: "Both [Benzema] and Mendy can't play and won't go to France either. They stay in Madrid.

"He hasn't trained with the group. He still has some discomfort.

"Karim is a very important part, because he finishes all the work, but without him, you have to keep that work and look for different solutions.

"It is already decided who is going to play [in his place]. But I'm not going to tell you."

Benzema's league goals have come at a rate of one every 93.55 minutes, while he also leads the assists standings with 11 to his name already.

Asked if he is concerned by Benzema's latest lay-off, Ancelotti said: "He is a player who is 34 years old and sometimes it can happen to him. 

"They are very minor annoyances and he has recovered very quickly. When he has come back, he has made a difference. 

"We have another two weeks to work with him and then he will make a difference again. 

"It doesn't worry me that he won't play tomorrow because we have time for him to play at the end of the season and make a difference."

Madrid sit comfortably top of LaLiga, armed with a 10-point lead over second-placed Sevilla. Barcelona, in third, are 15 points adrift of Madrid with a game in hand.

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