LaLiga has insisted it will not change the dates of fixtures in the opening three rounds of the 2019-20 season, despite a demand to do so from the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

The RFEF released a statement on Friday confirming the competition judge had ruled football was only to be played on Saturday or Sunday in August and September.

As such, it demanded LaLiga alter its calendar as it had not sought permission to play matches on Fridays and Mondays, with defending champions Barcelona initially scheduled to begin their campaign against Athletic Bilbao on August 16.

But LaLiga refutes the decision, instead claiming to be the only organisation able to set the schedule for league fixtures.

"LaLiga confirms that there is a judicial hearing indicated for August 7 with the objective of resolving this RFEF attack with caution to LaLiga's powers and the value of the audiovisual rights of the associated clubs," a statement read, adding that fixture changes could affect signed contracts worth "more than" €2billion.

Should LaLiga lose the case, Barca's clash with Bilbao will be put back to Saturday, August 17, along with Real Mallorca's meeting with Eibar, which was initially set for August 19. Real Betis' game against Real Valladolid will also been moved.

Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Real Sociedad and others will also be impacted across the opening weekends if the August hearing rules in favour of RFEF.

Manchester United have extended the contract of goalkeeper Dean Henderson and immediately loaned him to Sheffield United.

England Under-21 international Henderson spent last season on loan at Bramall Lane, playing every minute of the Championship campaign as the Blades secured promotion to the Premier League.

Henderson will return to the Blades for 2019-20, having signed a new deal with his parent club until 2022, with an option for a further year.

"The club has been amazing in designing an individual pathway to aid my development which will enable me to reach my potential and perform at the highest level possible," Henderson told Manchester United's official website.

"Signing this contract is such a proud moment for myself and my family; I've worked so hard to reach this point and I want to do everything I can to repay the faith the club has shown in me.

"I am looking forward to being back at Bramall Lane, the opportunity to be reunited with the coaches and play in front of the amazing fans again is one that I am relishing. I cannot wait to enjoy a full season of Premier League football which I know will be hugely beneficial for my career."

Henderson became the Blades' seventh signing of the close season, following on from Ben Osborn, whose arrival from Nottingham Forest was announced on Friday.

Zinedine Zidane has dismissed speculation he does not get along with Dani Ceballos, insisting the midfielder was loaned to Arsenal to increase his game time.

Ceballos' season-long loan to the Premier League club was confirmed on Thursday, as the Spain international became the Gunners' second signing of the transfer window, followed closely by William Saliba.

The 22-year-old joined Madrid from Real Betis in 2017, having shined in the European Under-21 Championship following an impressive 2016-17 season in LaLiga.

However, Ceballos struggled to establish himself under Zidane, making 22 appearances in all competitions in 2017-18 before featuring 34 times last term.

Only three of those appearances came after Zidane had been reappointed as Los Blancos boss in March, though, and Ceballos has been handed an opportunity to test himself in England's top flight.

But Zidane affirmed he has no problem with Ceballos.

"No, it's not that I didn't get on with Ceballos. I think Dani needed to play a lot because he's an important player," Zidane told a news conference.

"It's true that at Madrid he has not had enough minutes, it's just about that. There are a lot of players here, a lot of competition. I wish him to play many games and do well."

Ernesto Valverde confirmed a new left-back is on Barcelona's wishlist and said the door would remain open for new arrivals until the transfer window closes.

LaLiga champions Barca want to find support for Jordi Alba and are reportedly moving closer to signing Junior Firpo from Real Betis.

Philipp Max of Augsburg is said to be an alternative, while Bayern Munich star David Alaba figured in rumours as a less realistic option.

Neto, Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann have all joined since the end of the 2018-19 season and Barca's business appears unlikely to end there.

"It is true that we had some problems on the left side [of defence] and it is possible that somebody may arrive," head coach Valverde said.

"But we are open to the market until the last day and we will see what happens."

Valverde faced media in Japan ahead of a pre-season friendly against local outfit Vissel Kobe, home to former Barca players Andres Iniesta, David Villa and Sergi Samper.

Gerard Pique will not be involved after feeling discomfort in his thigh in the wake of the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea.

"Tomorrow is an opportunity," Valverde said of the match. "There are things that must be improved and adapted. We always have to improve. We will leave out Pique, who has a problem, as a precaution."

There is better news on the fitness front back in Spain, where Luis Suarez has started a personalised pre-season programme.

The striker, who was given an extended break following the Copa America, is scheduled to return to full training alongside his Barcelona team-mates on July 31.

Barcelona have parted company with sporting director Pep Segura.

Segura joined Barca as academy manager in 2015 and took on the role overseeing the assembly of the first-team squad two years later.

The 58-year-old came under increased scrutiny after last season's humiliating Champions League semi-final defeat to Liverpool.

A brief statement published on Barcelona's official website read: "FC Barcelona and Josep Segura have reached an agreement to terminate his contract with the club.

"FC Barcelona publicly expresses its gratitude to Josep Segura for his commitment and dedication and wishes him good luck and success in the future."

Former Barcelona and France defender Eric Abidal has been tipped to succeed Segura, whose departure marks the latest stage of a boardroom shake-up at Camp Nou.

Vice-president Jordi Mestre – viewed as a key ally of Segura's – stepped down at the start of this month, while Patrick Kluivert was confirmed as Barca's new director of youth football on Thursday.

Napoli are one of four clubs to have had offers accepted for Nicolas Pepe, Lille's owner has confirmed.

Pepe's exit from Ligue 1 outfit Lille has been expected for months and the in-demand forward will now have to decide his next destination as interested clubs begin to make personal pitches.

Serie A side Napoli are in contention after meeting Lille's demand for €80million.

Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool and Manchester United have also been linked to the Ivory Coast international, who scored 23 goals in all competitions last season.

"Last year we asked Pepe to stay, with the promise that we would sell him this transfer window," Lille owner Gerard Lopez told Tuttosport.

"We have received offers from four big clubs that satisfy us economically.

"[Napoli president Aurelio] De Laurentiis has satisfied our request for €80m.

"It's up to the player to decide now where to go based on the offers his agent has received from the four clubs.

"Pepe will return from holiday on Monday and I believe he will make a decision in the middle of the week."

Portugal Under-21 international Rafael Leao could also be on his way out of Lille.

The young forward is reportedly in negotiations with AC Milan after netting eight goals in his first Ligue 1 campaign.

"For Leao there are eight interested clubs, including four from Italy," Lopez said.

Barcelona stalwart Sergio Busquets believes Ousmane Dembele is getting closer to living up to high expectations at Camp Nou.

Inconsistency and injuries have impeded winger Dembele from developing at the pace anticipated when he joined Barca from Borussia Dortmund for €105million in 2017.

The France international made strides in his second season, scoring eight LaLiga goals, yet speculation surrounds his potential involvement in a reported proposal to sign Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

Dembele, 22, is said to view his future at Barcelona and midfielder Busquets thinks the LaLiga champions are about to benefit.

"He looks better," the Spain international said, speaking in Japan. "We've been here for a few days and it's a long season, but the way he has started is positive.

"Everyone has a hard time going to a new club, with a different language and a different philosophy.

"Hopefully everything goes better because he has a lot to give and we expect a lot from him."

Antoine Griezmann's arrival has further complicated Dembele's bid to become a regular starter in attack.

Busquets, however, sees only positives.

"The signing of Griezmann is good for everyone," the 31-year-old said. "It will make us better as a team and will increase competition.

"The problem will be for the coach, who will have to choose [from a strong squad]. The important thing is to make the team solid. He's fitting in well with the team, style and philosophy.

"The three new ones are integrating well, they are good team-mates. For us it's a pleasure."

Barcelona face Vissel Kobe, home to former Camp Nou favourites Andres Iniesta and David Villa, in a pre-match friendly in Japan on Saturday.

Bayern Munich captain Manuel Neuer has declared himself fresh and pain-free after two seasons tainted by injury.

Germany goalkeeper Neuer battled thumb and calf problems last term after missing almost the entire 2017-18 season due to a metatarsal fracture.

Rumours of retirement spread during April but the 33-year-old dismissed that possibility and regained fitness in time for the DFB-Pokal triumph over RB Leipzig in late May.

Three pre-season appearances have followed, giving the World Cup winner confidence for the campaign ahead.

"I feel really good right now," Neuer told the official Bundesliga website.

"I'm not in any pain and can take part in everything we're doing. I'm really looking forward to the new season."

Neuer's authoritative presence on the pitch will be crucial for the Bundesliga champions following the loss of several experienced players.

Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Rafinha and Mats Hummels have left since the end of last season, making space for new leaders to emerge.

"We've got a lot of players who are established and know each other well, but also some guys who will have bigger roles to play because of the departures," Neuer said.

"They have to prove they can take on leadership roles."

Manchester City have sent midfielder Yangel Herrera to LaLiga club Granada on a season-long loan.

Herrera, 21, returns to Spain after making 16 top-flight appearances for Huesca during the second half of last term.

The Venezuela international had spent the previous two years on loan at New York City, a sister club of the Premier League champions.

Herrera started three times at the recent Copa America, helping Venezuela to secure a 0-0 draw against Brazil.

His new club, Granada, sealed a return to LaLiga by finishing second in the Segunda Division last season.

City announced the transfer in a short Twitter statement, with Granada saying he would train with his new team-mates on Friday morning.

Arsenal team-mates Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac escaped unharmed after being targeted in an apparent carjacking attempt in London.

Footage circulated on social media appeared to show Kolasinac confronting and scaring off two attackers who had approached a vehicle driven by Ozil.

The masked individuals were seen wielding weapons, which were reported to be knives.

In a statement to Omnisport, Arsenal said: "Mesut and Sead are both fine."

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said on Thursday evening: "It was reported that suspects on motorbikes had attempted to rob a man who was driving a car.

"The driver, along with his passenger, managed to get away unharmed and travelled to a restaurant in Golders Green, where they were spoken to by officers."

Midfielder Ozil and left-back Kolasinac had returned with Arsenal to London on Wednesday following their involvement in the International Champions Cup in the United States.

The pair both started in the final match of the tour, a penalty shoot-out loss to Real Madrid.

Manchester United may have identified a potential replacement for Romelu Lukaku.

Lukaku has been heavily linked with a switch to Inter, although progress on the striker's potential move from Old Trafford has been slow.

However, United are preparing if the Belgium international does depart, with Moussa Dembele reportedly on their shortlist.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UNITED EYE DEMBELE AS LUKAKU REPLACEMENT

Lyon striker Dembele will be on Manchester United's shortlist if they sell Lukaku to Inter, according to Sky Sports News.

The former Fulham and Celtic striker enjoyed a fine first season with the Ligue 1 giants, scoring 20 goals in all competitions.

United have also been linked to Lille's Nicolas Pepe, but the report says they see Dembele as a better replacement for Lukaku.

ROUND-UP

- Mauro Icardi is almost certain to leave Inter and the forward was contacted by Boca Juniors, according to Fox Sports Argentina. However, they say Icardi will not make the move to his homeland.

- Another forward set for a possible move is Radamel Falcao. According to Soccer Link, Valencia have expressed an interest in the Monaco star.

- Barcelona have continually been linked with a move for Real Betis left-back Junior Firpo and, according to Sport, the defender is their priority. The Spain Under-21 international is seen as a possible future replacement for Jordi Alba, but Barca reportedly do not want to pay more than €20million, even though Junior's release clause is said to be closer to €50m.

- Wilfried Zaha is a reported target for Arsenal, but it seems Everton could be ready to pounce to sign the Crystal Palace star. The Daily Mail says Everton are prepared to make an opening offer of £55m.

- Rafinha has options should he want to move from Barcelona. According to Sport, the midfielder has offers from Valencia and Serie A clubs Atalanta and Fiorentina.

- Borussia Dortmund want to land Barcelona attacker Malcom. According to Goal, Dortmund could pay €42m for Malcom, just a year after the 22-year-old made the move from Bordeaux for the same fee.

Jamaica national head coach Theodore Whitmore has strongly refuted suggestions of interference with the running of the U-23 team.

Criticism has continued to pour in from all angles following a poor campaign by the youth national team, which saw them eliminated in the first round of the Olympic Qualification phase.

 With only the winner of the three-team Group A eligible to advance to the next round, Jamaica needed to beat St Kitts and Nevis but were held to a 1-1 result at Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex and finished second with two points. St Kitts topped the group with four points, while Dominica finished at the bottom on a point.

Suggestions from some quarters, namely Craig Butler the agent of Leon Bailey and Kyle Butler, who had been brought into the U-23 team suggested that the actions of Duckie and his squad selection was influenced by Whitmore a claim the national coach strongly rejected.

“Honestly, I don’t think that’s a fair comment to myself and Donovan Duckie. You can’t have a team preparing for so long and then one man just comes in and start making decisions,” Whitmore said on Jamaican radio show Sports Grill.

 “It couldn’t happen with me so I wouldn’t do it to a next man.”

Zinedine Zidane insisted talk about James Rodriguez's Real Madrid future was not his concern amid claims the playmaker has no interest in staying.

James, 28, is linked with Napoli and Atletico Madrid after returning to the Santiago Bernabeu from a two-year loan spell at Bayern Munich.

Atletico chief executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin told ESPN on Thursday that James did not want to continue at Madrid, nor did the LaLiga giants want him to.

Asked about those comments, Zidane said the Colombia international's future was not something for him to worry about.

"It is a matter for the club," he told a news conference ahead of Madrid's International Champions Cup clash against Atletico on Friday.

"It is something between them – the presidents – not me."

Zidane was seemingly tired of answering questions about Gareth Bale, who is expected to leave the club, and reported transfer target and Manchester United star Paul Pogba.

And while midfielder Marco Asensio could be set to miss the entire season due to a serious knee injury, Zidane said nothing changed in regards to Madrid's plans.

"We are working with the players here. We think about the first league match," he said.

"Nothing changes. I don't think about that, who will replace Marco, no. We are touched by the injury, but there is a game tomorrow. We will see later."

Daniele De Rossi has extended his 18-year professional career by joining Boca Juniors in Argentina.

The former Italy international left hometown club Roma at the end of last season after learning his contract would not be renewed.

Revered at Stadio Olimpico, where he debuted in October 2001, the 36-year-old De Rossi will prolong his playing days at the equally iconic La Bombonera after signing a deal on Thursday.

He arrives in Buenos Aires as a World Cup winner who won Coppa Italia twice and the Supercoppa Italiana with the Giallorossi.

Using Opta data, we take a look at the dependable, highly decorated and vastly experienced midfielder Boca have gained.

616 - De Rossi played 616 times for Roma in all competitions, albeit still 170 short of the club's record appearance maker Francesco Totti.

61 - The midfielder has, however, featured in more Champions League/European Cup matches than any other Roma player. His tally of 61 is four more than Totti managed.

459 - In total, De Rossi featured in 459 Serie A games for Roma.

249 - With De Rossi in their side, Roma won 249 league matches. They lost on 99 occasions and had 111 draws.

63 - De Rossi scored 63 goals for Roma in his 18-year spell in the first-team – 43 of those were in Serie A, with 13 in European competitions.

117 - Only three players have won more Italy caps than De Rossi's 117. They are Gianluigi Buffon (176), Fabio Cannavaro (136) and Paolo Maldini (126).

21 - De Rossi found the net against 21 of the 40 teams he faced in Serie A. He also managed 21 international goals.

4 - Chievo were De Rossi's favourite opponents when it came to getting himself on the scoresheet, as the holding midfielder netted four times in 24 league appearances against them.

355 - Only two players in Roma's history – De Rossi and Totti – have made at least 500 appearances for the club. De Rossi also played alongside the forward 355 times in Serie A.

Real Madrid midfielder Marco Asensio lamented his bad luck but has vowed to bounce back after suffering a serious knee injury.

The 22-year-old is likely to miss between six to nine months of action after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in Madrid's friendly with Arsenal earlier this week.

Asensio scored an equaliser for his side in the International Champions Cup clash - which Madrid won on penalties following a 2-2 draw - and was expected to play a key part for Zinedine Zidane's men this coming campaign, but he is instead starting a long road to recovery.

Speaking for the first time since Madrid confirmed the extent of his injury, Asensio posted a message to supporters on his social media platforms.

"I began this season with renewed hopes, looking after even the last tiny detail of my preparation so that this would be a great season for all the Madrid fans and for myself," he said.

"At the highest points in life, you can have an unexpected stroke of bad luck and suddenly everything changes. It is hard to accept everything these days, but I begin another personal challenge in my life. I still trust that this will be a great season. 

"Your messages of support and loving gestures give me even more strength to face this challenge. Heartfelt thanks to all of you for your support. See you soon."

Zidane also faces being without Ferland Mendy for the start of the new campaign as the €48million signing from Lyon injured his leg in the draw with Arsenal.

Mendy's injury will continue to be monitored but he could miss around four weeks, according to reports in Spain.

Madrid begin their LaLiga campaign with a trip to Celta Vigo on August 17.

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