Miralem Pjanic has been used sparingly at Barcelona since his off-season move from Juventus last year and may be on the move again soon.

The Bosnian was a regular for Juventus during four title-winning Serie A seasons prior to the switch.

With Barca's LaLiga title challenge faltering, the club are eager to mix things up in the next transfer window.

 

TOP STORY - BARCELONA PLOT SWAP DEAL WITH CHELSEA

Barcelona are looking to complete a swap deal with Chelsea whereby Pjanic and Jorginho would be exchanged, claims Sport.

Barca head coach Ronald Koeman is behind the move as he tries to land Jorginho and is willing to use the out-of-favour Pjanic to facilitate the deal.

Sport also claims that if Chelsea are not interested, the Catalans may suggest a trade with Inter involving Pjanic and an unnamed Nerazzurri player.

 

ROUND-UP

Roma have joined the list of clubs keen on Brighton and Hove Albion's Ben White, according to The Sun, with Jose Mourinho's Premier League knowledge playing a part. Manchester United and Arsenal are also said to be keen on White.

- The Telegraph claims Arsenal are interested in making a move to sign Moussa Dembele, who has had underwhelming loan spell at Atletico Madrid from Lyon.

Eric Garcia is on his way to Barcelona, according to Goal, who reports they have reached an agreement to sign him. The defender's contract is up at the end of the season.

- Chelsea's veteran forward Olivier Giroud has attracted interest from Inter and Lazio, claims Calciomercato.

- Calciomercato also reports Milan are tracking Tottenham full-back Serge Aurier.

Thomas Lemar and Hector Herrera are the latest Atletico Madrid players to test positive for coronavirus.

Atletico confirmed last week that Joao Felix and new signing Moussa Dembele returned positive test results in consecutive days, ruling them out of Monday's LaLiga visit of Celta Vigo.

Now their midfield and attacking options have been further depleted, with Herrera and Lemar immediately beginning periods of isolation.

A club statement read: "Our players Hector Herrera and Thomas Lemar underwent antigen tests prior to the match against Celta Vigo according to the LaLiga protocol, giving a positive result for COVID-19, which was later confirmed with the relevant tests PCR.

"Both players remain isolated in their respective homes, strictly complying with the recommendations of the health authorities and LaLiga protocol."

Atletico did not provide any further information regarding their respective conditions.

Lemar and Herrera could miss as many as three games, with Atletico facing Celta, Granada and Levante in the next 10 days.

Atletico Madrid forward Moussa Dembele has tested positive for coronavirus.

LaLiga leaders Atletico confirmed the news on Thursday, a day after record signing Joao Felix returned a positive test.

"Our squad underwent PCR tests on Wednesday as recommended by LaLiga, in addition to the first weekly antigen tests outlined in their protocol. The PCR test showed that Moussa Dembele is positive for COVID-19," Atletico said in a statement.

"The Frenchman is isolating at home, in compliance with the health authorities' guidelines and LaLiga protocols."

Atleti face Celta Vigo at home next Monday as they look to build on their 10-point lead at the top of the table.

Dembele joined from Lyon last month on loan until the end of the season, with Atleti retaining an option to buy the former France Under-21 international for an initial fee of €33.5million.

He has been on the bench three times in LaLiga but is yet to make an appearance under coach Diego Simeone.

Diego Simeone insists he is having no problem getting his message across to new signing Moussa Dembele thanks to the French language speakers already at Atletico Madrid.

Dembele joined Atletico on loan from Lyon last week until the end of the season, at which point LaLiga's leaders will have the option to buy him permanently for €33.5m.

The former Celtic striker has scored just once in 16 Ligue 1 appearances this season but comes in to bolster Atlei's forward line following the departure of Diego Costa.

Simeone has been impressed by Dembele's initial efforts in training, something he conceded has been made easier by the presence of Thomas Lemar, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Yannick Carrasco.

"Dembele just arrived a few days ago and he is trying to settle into the group," Simeone said ahead of Thursday's trip to Eibar, one of Atletico's games in hand on Real Madrid that could see them extend their advantage at the summit to seven points.

"Thankfully he has team-mates like Kondogbia, Carrasco and Lemar who are close to him and doing translations in order to make the communication quicker.

"We will have time to let him know what we want from him exactly, in the meantime we let him to settle in the best way with his  team-mates.

"I see him excited and happy. He is a number nine and we expect from him all the good we saw in him to bring him to Atletico Madrid."

Dembele's presence could further hinder Joao Felix's chances of getting back into Simeone's starting XI.

The record signing was a substitute in each of Atleti's past two LaLiga encounters and has not found the net since the 1-1 draw against Bayern Munich in the Champions League on December 1.

Nevertheless, Simeone remains satisfied with the Portugal international's contributions.

"I ask Joao the same as always - to be involved in the group, as he is. Being competitive, as he has been in the last games," he added.

"He didn’t start the game, but he was important for the team from other positions. When he got in, he showed all his talent and quality. The team needs his skills."

Lyon have confirmed that Moussa Dembele has joined Atletico Madrid on loan with a view to a permanent move and the Ligue 1 leaders have signed Islam Slimani from Leicester City on a free transfer. 

The former France Under-21 international has joined the LaLiga leaders for a fee of €1.5million until the end of the season, when Atletico will have the option to buy him outright for an initial €33.5m.

Atletico are said to have concentrated all efforts on Dembele after having a bid rejected for Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik, with Diego Costa's mutual contract termination at the end of December leaving space for another striker.

Dembele has long been linked with some of Europe's biggest clubs and will supplement Atletico's already formidable attacking options that include Luis Suarez and Joao Felix.

Algeria striker Slimani arrived at Lyon on Wednesday on an 18-month contract to bolster their forward line as they battle for the Ligue 1 title.

Dembele came through the ranks at Fulham after leaving Paris Saint-Germain as a teenager, and his form there secured him a move to Celtic.

He scored 26 league goals across two seasons in Scotland and won six trophies, before leaving for Lyon in a reported €22m deal in 2018.

He hit double figures for goals in each of his first two Ligue 1 campaigns, while his 24 in 46 across all competitions in 2019-20 made him comfortably their leading goalscorer with nine more than Memphis Depay, though the Dutchman missed a chunk of the season through injury.

However, 2020-21 has been a tough one for Dembele, who scored just once in 16 league games for Lyon, with Depay, Karl Toko Ekambi and Tino Kadewere proving more dependable for Rudi Garcia.

While Dembele's shooting accuracy has only seen a slight dip this term from 52 per cent to 47.6, his conversion rate has slumped dramatically.

In the 2019-20 Ligue 1 season, the striker converted 32 per cent of his shots attempted (excluding blocks), a figure only Mauro Icardi (37.5), Wissam Ben Yedder (35.3) and Kasper Dolberg (34.4) could better among players to record at least 30 shots.

 

He has already missed more Opta-defined 'big chances' (eight) than he did across the entirety the previous top-flight campaign (five) as well, averaging just over one per 90 minutes – his worst across a season for Lyon was 0.7 each game in 2018-19.

Diego Simeone said LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid are poised to confirm the signing of Lyon forward Moussa Dembele.

Atletico and Lyon have been in "very advanced" negotiations regarding a deal that will see Dembele move to the Wanda Metropolitano on loan with an option to buy.

Atleti will reportedly be able to secure Dembele for a €35million fee should the former France Under-21 international impress on loan before the end of the season.

Dembele has scored just once in 16 Ligue 1 games for Lyon this season, having hit 24 in 46 across all competitions in 2019-20.

Simeone was asked about Dembele following Tuesday's 2-0 LaLiga victory over Sevilla in the Spanish capital.

"It is very advanced," Atletico head coach Simeone said post-match. "We are going to confirm it."

Atletico extended their lead atop LaLiga to four points thanks to goals from Angel Correa and Saul Niguez against visiting Sevilla.

Correa broke the deadlock in the 17th minute before Atletico team-mate Saul put the result beyond doubt with 14 minutes remaining.

Of Correa's goals for Atletico, 19 out of 39 across all competitions have been the opening goal of a match, per Opta.

Atletico, meanwhile, are one of the two teams with the most clean sheets in the top five European leagues this season (11 in 16 fixtures) – level with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

On Saul, who has only started seven of 13 LaLiga games this term, Simeone said: "Like everything in life, the first one who has to want to get out of the difficulty is oneself and Saul loves it.

"He knew he was not well and has always worked. Since he was 18 years old, he has had to live things very good and now he has to live another and Saul is helping himself and is already getting out of the situation he was in."

Simeone was named the best coach of the decade by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) this week.

"I am not aware of that," said Simeone, who guided Atletico to LaLiga glory in 2014 and Champions League finals in 2014 and 2016.

"We focus on improving the team, we work daily, we have made an important change in the game. That is healthy and gives us great joy for the number of players who have joined us and that allows us to be.

"With the energy of the first day I got on the plane with the mentality of taking the team to the top of Europe."

Atletico Madrid are close to signing Moussa Dembele from Lyon, Diego Simeone has confirmed.

The striker is expected to move to the Wanda Metropolitano on a loan deal with an option to buy, having told Lyon he wanted a new challenge.

The agreement has not yet been finalised but Simeone seems confident the move will be completed sooner rather than later.

"It's still not confirmed, but it's very advanced," the Atletico coach told reporters ahead of Tuesday's match with Sevilla.

"I'm going to turn my head towards the game, which is what interests me, and when there's something [on Dembele], if there is something, I'll give an opinion."

Atleti will reportedly be able to secure Dembele for a €35million fee should he impress on loan before the end of the season.

The former France Under-21 international has scored just once in 16 Ligue 1 games this season, having hit 24 in 46 across all competitions in 2019-20.

Simeone's more pressing concern is Tuesday's match with Julen Lopetegui's side, which comes after Atleti's previous game with Athletic Bilbao was called off.

The match, which was due to take place in Madrid on Saturday, was postponed after Storm Filomena brought significant snowfall to the Spanish capital.

Training was severely disrupted over the weekend and Atleti will hold an extra session before facing Sevilla to make sure they are fully prepared.

"With the difficulties we've had, everyone has been at home," Simeone said. "We had no option of getting together or leaving the house. We worked at home on Saturday; on Sunday, a group was able to train together.

"There are no excuses. They're circumstances to which we have to adapt. The most important thing will be tomorrow and what happened before will not matter in terms of the criticism and opinions we receive.

"There'll be two training sessions because tomorrow we'll have another one at midday to finish fine-tuning what we have to do, making the most of the fact the game is in the evening.

"[The pitch] is very good. It looks really good, with a normal condition to be able to compete and I'm sure there won't be any difficulty with the surface."

Simeone also confirmed Kieran Trippier "is really good, he's really excited to play, focused as ever" after being cleared to play.

The full-back was hit with a 10-game ban by the Football Association due to breaches of betting regulations, but he is allowed to feature again in LaLiga after FIFA put his punishment on hold amid an appeal from Atletico.

Where will Erling Haaland be playing in 2021-22?

The Borussia Dortmund forward has a long list of admirers, particularly in England.

Both Manchester clubs want Haaland, though City fancy their chances.

 

TOP STORY – CITY BELIEVE THEY HOLD HAALAND EDGE OVER UTD

Manchester City are hoping to use their Jadon Sancho sell-on clause to beat neighbours Manchester United to the signing of Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, according to The Sun.

Haaland is a player in demand, linked to the likes of City, United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Liverpool following his exploits for Dortmund.

City have a 15 per cent sell-on clause following Sancho's move to Dortmund in 2017 and they believe it could help in their Haaland pursuit, with the Premier League giants open to waiving or renegotiating the clause.

Sancho was tipped to join United ahead of the 2020-21 season.

 

ROUND-UP

- French journalist Julien Laurens doubts Paris Saint-Germain will be able to afford Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi. The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked to PSG, City and Inter but Laurens feels the Ligue 1 champions will not be able to financially accommodate Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Atletico Madrid are poised to prise Moussa Dembele from Lyon, reports Fabrizio Romano. After Diego Costa's exit, Atletico are set to complete a loan deal with the option to buy.

- Le10Sport claims Manchester United are set to rival PSG for the signing of Brest midfielder Romain Faivre.

- The Telegraph says Napoli are keen on signing Arsenal full-back Kieran Tierney. The Serie A side were keen on the Scotland international before he swapped Celtic for Arsenal in 2019.

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly eyeing Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero.

Aguero, 32, is out of contract at the end of the season and his future with the Premier League giants is uncertain.

And PSG are apparently eyeing the forward.

 

TOP STORY – PSG EYE AGUERO

Mauricio Pochettino and PSG have Aguero in their sights on a free transfer at the end of the season, according to the Mirror.

Injuries have limited Aguero to just nine appearances in all competitions this season.

Aguero is Manchester City's all-time leading scorer with 256 goals.

 

ROUND-UP

- Linked with a move for Borussia Dortmund midfielder Julian Brandt, Arsenal may also be looking elsewhere. Bild reports PSG's Julian Draxler, who is out of contract at the season's end, is an alternative for the Premier League club.

- Also at Arsenal, Mesut Ozil seems set to leave the club. The Guardian reports the playmaker is in talks to join Fenerbahce on loan, but Arsenal do not want to pay any part of his salary if he moves to the Turkish giants.

- Lyon striker Moussa Dembele is again being linked with a switch. Goal reports Dembele is not interested in a move to West Ham, and Atletico Madrid are keen to land him. L'Equipe says Atletico want Dembele on loan.

- Kieran Trippier's ban has been put on hold pending an appeal, but his January reportedly could have been very different. TalkSPORT reports Manchester United were considering a bid for the defender, who was keen on a move, before his ban over betting rule breaches.

- Manchester United are apparently not chasing Moises Caicedo. Fabrizio Romano reports United, who were previously linked to Caicedo, will not sign the Independiente del Valle and Ecuador attacker, who is said to be the subject of a bid from Brighton and Hove Albion.

Rudi Garcia says it is vital Lyon replace Moussa Dembele if the striker joins Atletico Madrid.

LaLiga leaders Atleti are reportedly closing in on signing Dembele on loan for the rest of the season following Diego Costa's departure.

The former Celtic frontman scored 24 goals last season but has found the back of the net just once in the current Ligue 1 campaign and is currently sidelined after suffering a broken arm last month.

Lyon head coach Garcia does not want the 24-year-old to leave the Ligue 1 club, but expects to be given the green light to go into the transfer market if he does move to the Spanish capital.

Garcia said: "He is an important player. We prefer to keep him, but we would need to replace players who leave, Moussa included if that is the case. It is logical."

Although Dembele was expected to be out until February, Garcia says he may be cleared to return earlier.

"Usually the type of injury he had means he could not play for six weeks. I think it was on the 22nd of December before we played Nantes [when he suffered the injury], so there is still time," he said.

"It is always all about what the doctor says and also the surgeon who performed surgery on him. Let's see if it could be less. We will see how Moussa reacts."

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