Real Madrid have agreed with Barcelona's suggestion to move the first LaLiga Clasico of the season to December 18.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed on Friday that it had postponed the match at Camp Nou due to safety concerns amid the ongoing political tensions and protests in Catalonia.

Violent scenes broke out in Barcelona after nine Catalan political leaders received long prison sentences for their roles in the region's 2017 referendum and subsequent unilateral declaration of independence.

A rally in the city has been called by pro-independence politicians for October 26, the day Barca were due to host Madrid, prompting the RFEF to intervene.

The Competition Committee has told the two clubs to agree to a revised date for the game before next Monday and Barca suggested December 18 as the best option.

In a statement released later on Friday, Madrid said: "In light of the Competition Committee ruling which postpones the match scheduled to be played on Saturday October 26 between Barcelona and Real Madrid, and states the clubs must agree a new date for the fixture, Real Madrid wishes to communicate that the date proposed by both said clubs is December 18."

Speaking earlier, head coach Zinedine Zidane said he was prepared to adapt to any plans to reschedule the fixture.

"If we have to play on the 26th, we will, and if we have to change, the important thing is to be prepared," he told a news conference.

"I know there is a lot of debate because it's logical, but my position as coach is this: to be ready on the date that the appropriate person tells us. We'll adapt.

"I have a preference but I'm not going to tell you. We know it could be the seventh, the eighteenth – we'll adapt to this."

December 18, a Wednesday, is seen by many as an appropriate date as neither Barca nor Madrid are involved in the planned Copa del Rey fixtures on that day.

LaLiga reportedly put forward December 7 as its preferred date, as it would keep the match on a Saturday, but this would require Barca's meeting with Real Mallorca and Madrid's game against Espanyol to be moved.

Barca and Madrid are also playing their final Champions League group games, away to Inter and Club Brugge respectively, within four days after December 7.

Barcelona have proposed rearranging the first Clasico of the season to December 18 after it was announced it will not take place next Saturday as planned.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed on Friday that it had postponed the match at Camp Nou due to safety concerns amid the ongoing political tensions and protests in Catalonia.

Violent scenes broke out in Barcelona after nine Catalan political leaders received long prison sentences for their roles in the region's 2017 referendum and subsequent unilateral declaration of independence.

A rally in the city has been called by pro-independence politicians for October 26, the day Barca were due to host Madrid, prompting the RFEF to intervene.

The Competition Committee has told the two clubs to agree to a revised date for the game before next Monday and Barca have suggested December 18 as the best option.

"The club's desire was to play the Clasico at Camp Nou on the 26th, the date and time previously agreed and the Committee was informed of this in writing," they said in a statement on Friday.

"The club has the utmost confidence in the civic and pacific attitude of its members and fans who always express themselves in exemplary fashion at Camp Nou.

"Nevertheless, having received the decision of the RFEF Competition Committee to postpone the game citing 'exceptional circumstances' and given that it falls to the clubs to agree a new date for the game before Monday, the club will propose December 18.

"The club regrets the inconvenience that this postponement may cause to members, supporters' club members and fans and it has now begun the necessary steps to refund money from Monday 21 October for tickets already purchased."

Madrid have not yet responded publicly to Barca's suggestion but head coach Zinedine Zidane insists his squad will be ready to adapt to the revised schedule.

"I know you're all interested in this subject, but we're going to do what they [club officials] tell us," he told a news conference.

"If we have to play on the 26th, we will, and if we have to change, the important thing is to be prepared.

"I know there is a lot of debate because it's logical, but my position as coach is this: to be ready on the date that the appropriate person tells us. We'll adapt.

"I have a preference but I'm not going to tell you. We know it could be the seventh, the eighteenth – we'll adapt to this."

December 18, a Wednesday, is seen by many as an appropriate date as neither Barca nor Madrid are involved in the planned Copa del Rey fixtures for that date.

LaLiga has reportedly put forward December 7 as its preferred date, as it would keep the match on a Saturday, but this would require Barca's meeting with Real Mallorca and Madrid's game against Espanyol to be moved.

Barca and Madrid are also playing their final Champions League group games, away to Inter and Club Brugge respectively, within four days after December 7.

Zinedine Zidane insists his meeting with Paul Pogba in Dubai was "pure chance" – but the Real Madrid boss will not disclose what they discussed.

Manchester United star Pogba, who has been in Dubai as part of his recovery from an ankle problem, was photographed meeting Zidane during his trip to the region for the Dubai Artificial Intelligence in Sport (DAIS) Conference and Exhibition.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted he had "no problem at all" with one of his most important players being pictured speaking with the head coach of a club who are among the favourites to try to sign him.

Pogba was heavily linked with a move to Madrid in the previous transfer window after indicating he wanted a new challenge and it is likely the France international will be the subject of rumours once more in January.

Zidane is not prepared to look ahead to the next transfer window just yet, but he would not go into detail about his chat with his compatriot.

"It was pure chance," he told a news conference on Friday when asked about the meeting. "He was there and I was doing the talk and, as we know each other, we spoke. But it's personal – I'm not going to tell you what we talked about.

"We've known each other for a long time, we crossed paths, we stopped, and we talked.

"There are a lot of options, for every club [in January]. When we come to this date, the clubs will decide. We're going to play with 11 players tomorrow [Saturday, against Real Mallorca] and there will be players on the bench. We'll find a solution.

"We'll be able to sign players until the end of January, but what matters to me is the game [against Mallorca]. I'm not thinking about reinforcements. That's a long way off."

Zidane's immediate concern is Saturday's trip to Mallorca, which Madrid will make without the injured Luka Modric, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Lucas Vazquez.

Zidane hinted he may choose to call on Federico Valverde in midfield, given his limited options.

"Modric won't be there, Bale won't be there. Kroos won't be with us, either, nor will Lucas...," he said. "We're always playing, travelling and we never stop, so this can happen.

"[Valverde] is very good, like everyone, but we have 25 players and I have to choose the 11 and the 18 for every game. He can play box-to-box and that's important. He has personality, he wants to do well all the time, he's very demanding of himself and that's good for improvement."

Given Karim Benzema's form this season, it looks unlikely striker Luka Jovic will make only a third LaLiga start since his reported €60million transfer from Eintracht Frankfurt.

Zidane, though, insists the 21-year-old will get his chance to impress.

"He's not discouraged. He knows the situation," he added of Jovic, who has played just 218 minutes this season for his club.

"He's a player who just arrived and he's much better, he's speaking Spanish bit by bit, training well and I will be using him. He's not played much so far, but I'll use him."

The first Clasico of the season between Barcelona and Real Madrid, originally scheduled for October 26, has been postponed amid political unrest in Catalonia, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has confirmed.

Violent scenes broke out in Barcelona after nine Catalan political leaders received long prison sentences for their roles in the region's 2017 referendum and subsequent unilateral declaration of independence.

A rally in Barcelona has been called by pro-independence politicians for October 26, the day Barca were due to host bitter rivals Madrid.

RFEF's Competition Committee assessed the situation in a meeting on Thursday and resolved to delay LaLiga's showpiece fixture.

The clubs have now been given until the 10:00am local time on Monday, October 21 to come to a consensus on a suitable date for the match to be held.

RFEF will assume responsibility for rescheduling the fixture if an agreement is not reached before the deadline.

Omnisport understands LaLiga had proposed the possibility of moving the game to Madrid's home stadium, the Santiago Bernabeu, but the committee ruled a reversal of the fixture order was prohibited by competition regulations.

Speaking before the announcement of the postponement, RFEF president Luis Rubiales said the Spanish government had not attempted to intervene in the decision-making process.

"Regarding the government, what I can say is that this is a matter of football, and it is the competition committee which has to decide," Rubiales said.

"So, the government hasn't contacted us or asked for one thing or another."

 

 

The first Clasico of the season between Barcelona and Real Madrid, originally scheduled for October 26, has been postponed amid political unrest in Catalonia, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has confirmed.

Samuel Eto'o believes he reached his peak as a player at Real Mallorca and is now looking to the club as a potential launch pad for his coaching career.

The former Barcelona, Inter and Chelsea striker retired from football in September following a glittering career spanning more than two decades.

He won the Champions League and LaLiga three times each after battling back from rejection at Real Madrid, who let a young Eto'o leave for Mallorca in 2000 following a successful loan spell.

Eto'o scored 54 goals in 128 games during his permanent spell with the Balearic Islands-based outfit, a period he regards as the best of his playing days.

"I reached my top level when at Mallorca," said the Cameroon great, who moved to Barca in 2004.

"We were a group of normal guys who had to compete against the great players at Real Madrid and Barcelona.

"But we did it very well, we were proud of defending our jersey and our island.

"At Barcelona it was about opening the eyes of the world, making it known that a kid coming from where I came from, when given the same opportunities as the others, could do well.

"It was tough at Mallorca but when I got to Barcelona I saw that we could not fail, we were a group of unbelievable players and we just had to win."

Further spells in England, Italy, Russia, Turkey and Qatar expanded Eto'o's horizons and list of contacts ahead of a move into management.

The 38-year-old has stated his desire to win the Champions League as a coach, but those big ambitions could have humble beginnings back at Mallorca, where his teenage son, Etienne, is on the books.

"Now I want to prepare for new challenges," Eto'o said.

"I love football, so I would like some day to be able to coach at the highest level. It could be my Mallorca or some other big team.

"I have had the fortune to win things as a player and I would like to do that again as a coach."

Mallorca, who finished as high as third in the top flight with Eto'o leading the line, won promotion back to LaLiga last season.

Vicente Moreno's men have collected two wins from eight games to sit 18th ahead of Saturday's home game against leaders Madrid.

The transfer window may be shut, but Paul Pogba's future is still making headlines.

Pogba – who is set to miss the Premier League showdown against Liverpool due to injury – reportedly eyed a Manchester United exit and a move to Real Madrid.

A switch to the Santiago Bernabeu could be on the horizon after Pogba was snapped with Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane in the United Arab Emirates.

 

TOP STORY – POGBA MEETS ZIDANE IN DUBAI

Pogba has been linked with a fresh move to Madrid after the United star was pictured with Zidane, reports The Mirror.

Pogba wanted to leave United during the previous window, with LaLiga giants Madrid and former club Juventus the two favourites to sign the Frenchman, but a move did not materialise.

However, Pogba – recovering from a foot injury – was seen with Madrid head coach Zidane during his trip to Dubai, fuelling fresh speculation over his future at Old Trafford.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to 90min, United are monitoring Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani. The 32-year-old Uruguay international is out of contract at this season's end and has been linked to Juve, Atletico Madrid and Inter Miami.

- Inter are chasing Brescia sensation Sandro Tonali and Atalanta's Dejan Kulusevski, says Calciomercato. Both players are 19 years of age and attracting interest in Serie A.

- Calciomercato also reports Tottenham are ready to send Christian Eriksen to Juventus in exchange for Adrien Rabiot. Eriksen's contract expires at the end of the season and has been linked to the likes of Madrid and United, while Rabiot only moved to Turin from PSG at the end of 2018-19.

- Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, United, Spurs and Inter have been credited with interest in Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Denis Zakaria, according to Bild.

- Manchester City have emerged as favourites to sign Hearts teenager Aaron Hickey, claims the Daily Star.

A decision on whether next week's Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid can go ahead at Camp Nou is set to be made on Thursday, Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales said.

Violent scenes broke out in Barcelona at the start of the week after nine Catalan political leaders received long prison sentences for their roles in the region's 2017 referendum and subsequent declaration of independence.

A rally in the city has been called by pro-independence politicians for October 26, the day Barca are due to host bitter rivals Madrid.

Barcelona's main airport was briefly closed on Tuesday due to the tension, with Spanish league officials raising concern the Clasico could be affected by protests.

One option would be to move the game to Madrid and for Barca to host the second Clasico of the season, but that was opposed by Blaugrana head coach Ernesto Valverde on Thursday.

There have also been suggestions the match should be postponed and an alternative date in the calendar found. Valverde thinks the game should go ahead as planned.

Rubiales said Barca and Madrid swiftly submitted their observations on the matter and the RFEF would be seeking to make an early decision.

"I can assure that we will work to try to have a resolution this evening, because there are people involved, supporters with booked trips, tickets, media, and that is what we have done," Rubiales said.

"Regarding the government, what I can say is that this is a matter of football, and it is the competition committee which has to decide. So the government hasn't contacted us or asked for one or another thing."

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde says the first Clasico of the season against Real Madrid should go ahead as planned at Camp Nou on October 26.

LaLiga has proposed moving the match to the Santiago Bernabeu amid the political unrest in Catalonia, and a reported alternative would be to set the fixture back to December.

Nine Catalan political leaders were given prison sentences ranging from nine to 13 years on Monday for their roles in the region's 2017 referendum and subsequent unilateral declaration of independence.

The ruling sparked a huge backlash and clashes between police and protestors, with Barcelona's main airport briefly closed the following day due to the tension.

A city rally has been called by pro-independence politicians for October 26, the day Barca are due to host their bitter rivals at Camp Nou.

There are concerns the match could be hijacked by protesters for political purposes, but Valverde was adamant Barca want it to be played on its intended date, at their home stadium.

He said in a news conference on Thursday: "There has been a lot of chatter about that game. There was the possibility of changing the order of matches and playing the game at Madrid first, but we don't see that.

"We have an away game this weekend, then [we would have another] next weekend, and then we have to go travel again. And not just because of that, but it's about respecting the calendar and the fans, and the normal thing is to play at our pitch, but we'll see what happens.

"People are getting a bit ahead of themselves with regard to this game. This has been a strange week in Barcelona, everyone knows that, but there's time still and we trust the game will be played in our stadium, which is what we want.

"There are nine days left before we play. We also played at the Wanda Metropolitano against Atletico Madrid [in 2017, after the Catalan independence referendum] and everyone said there would be drama and there was our fans, their fans – everyone has a right to express an opinion in the ground and we think the same thing will happen here.

"Everybody's thinking about whether the game's going to be moved, and it's an opportunity to show there is respect for your opponents that it can be played, and it's an important match for people to see.

"It should be played under normal circumstances. People can express their opinions in the stadium in a natural way."

Amid a suggestion a decision on the fixture could be taken as early as this Thursday by league officials, Valverde was asked whether a postponement might most help Barca or Madrid.

"I don't know, we're going to wait and see," he said. "We'd be coming off a Wednesday [game] and they off a Tuesday [game]. It could seem we benefit more by not having to play, but those things are not very important.

"These games are so highly anticipated that I think the players are ready to play them whenever they are played."

Villarreal, Atletico Madrid and LaLiga have submitted a request to the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) for their December meeting to be played in Miami.

Villarreal president Fernando Roig confirmed in a radio interview on Wednesday the two clubs were hoping an agreement could be struck.

Roig insisted such an event would be beneficial and important for Spanish football's growth, and the three parties have now lodged an official proposal to play the match on December 6 at Hard Rock Stadium.

A statement posted to Villarreal's website read: "LaLiga, alongside Villarreal and Atletico Madrid, [on Thursday] presented an official request to the RFEF to play the match between Villarreal and Atletico Madrid, corresponding to LaLiga matchday 16, on December 6, 2019, at 10pm Spanish time (4pm local time) at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami (Florida, United States).

"This request is part of LaLiga's international growth strategy. There are millions of LaLiga fans around the world. Bringing the clubs closer to these fans represents an important opportunity to connect with them and continue working for the global growth of LaLiga on a worldwide level.

"This international growth has a benefit for the clubs involved, as well as players, fans, LaLiga, Spanish football and Spain itself.

"The choice of teams is due to the interest and availability shown by both clubs. USA, and especially Miami, is an essential part of its growth strategies. Villarreal now have been working in the North American market for various years, through the presence of academies and different training and marketing activities.

"Atletico Madrid recently completed a successful summer tour of the US, where they also took part in the MLS All-Star match in Orlando (Florida).

"The players and coaching staff from both sides have been told about this and have shown enthusiasm in taking football to their fans in the US. Also the Spanish Footballers' Association (AFE) has been informed of the request."

LaLiga in 2018 struck a 15-year deal with Relevent, the company behind the International Champions Cup, and a proposal was submitted for Barcelona to play Girona in Miami at the start of 2019.

But the RFEF and AFE condemned the plan and Barca pulled out in December, after FIFA president Gianni Infantino said he would block any such match.

Despite the previous opposition to LaLiga matches being played abroad, Atletico CEO Miguel Angel Gil is hopeful because he feels it benefits all.

"Atletico Madrid works every season to expand and promote our brand in all continents and playing this match in the United States would allow us to continue working on it," Gil said.

"In addition, we would bring Spanish football to fans and supporters who live outside our country. It would be a great game that would mark the future."

Lionel Messi admits he needs to be "more careful than before" to get the best from his body in the twilight years of his career.

A calf problem and thigh muscle issue have hindered the Barcelona superstar this season, limiting his involvement and his impact on Ernesto Valverde's team.

At the age of 32, Messi knows he cannot constantly push himself physically to the same extent as he might have done a decade ago.

Conserving energy and strength is something Messi is determined to embrace, knowing it behoves him to produce his best as often as possible, but not at the expense of risking injury or fatigue.

"It is difficult because your mind is fine; you think that you are 25 years old and that you can continue doing the same things [as before] at the time," Messi told Marca.

"But the body rules and there are circumstances in which you have to be more careful than before. Adapting to it requires a process and preparing differently for training and matches."

He added: "You realise yourself how long you can continue. I'll find out over time. I'll be the first to say, 'I've come this far and I can't do it anymore', or that I feel good to carry on."

The Argentina captain is closing in on 700 career goals, the mark his fellow modern-day great Cristiano Ronaldo recently achieved.

In that sense, Messi is streets ahead of any player who ever represented Barcelona, with a goals haul of 604 that is unlikely ever to be matched, so limiting his attacking remit in any way would seem a negative move.

Messi was asked whether he could eventually move back from the forward line and into a midfield role.

He largely has licence to roam with his number 10 status at Barcelona, from which he finished as top scorer in LaLiga last term to earn a sixth European Golden shoe prize.

Messi said of the prospect of a deeper starting position: "I don't know, it depends on how it goes.

"Now I usually drop myself deeper to receive and be in contact with the ball and the midfield. I don't know what will happen in the future."

It appears increasingly likely Messi will play for Barca for the entirety of his career, barring a possible swan song with his boyhood club, Newell's Old Boys.

Unlike Ronaldo, who went from Sporting CP to Manchester United and on to Real Madrid and latterly Juventus, Messi has given little indication he would want to play for another European club.

Ronaldo has espoused the merits of seeking new challenges in different leagues, but Messi sees no reason to walk away from Camp Nou.

He said: "Everyone looks for their targets and their experiences. I never had the need to leave the best club in the world, that Barcelona are."

Uncertainty surrounds Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after a woeful start to the season and he could find himself in danger of dismissal.

United have won only two of their first eight Premier League games of 2019-20 and head into Sunday's visit of Liverpool 15 points adrift of the pacesetters.

While Solskjaer insists he still has the board's backing, there have been suggestions the club has identified a replacement.

 

TOP STORY – ALLEGRI 'VERY CLOSE' TO UNITED

Former Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri is said to be a primary target for Manchester United.

Italian publication Tuttosport claims contact with Allegri – who left the Old Lady at the end of last season – has "intensified" in recent days.

They go as far as saying Allegri is "very close to United", with the contest against Liverpool seemingly crucial.

However, United are not the only club interested in Allegri. Tuttosport also believes Tottenham are keeping tabs on him.

Mauricio Pochettino is another man under pressure following a difficult few months, though the report suggests Spurs will have to make their minds up quickly if they are to gazump United.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail believes Solskjaer is relatively safe despite Allegri's lurking, however. It says United are looking to bolster the squad with six major signings over the next two transfer windows. Among the targets are Mario Mandzukic, Saul Niguez, Moussa Dembele and James Maddison.

- Mandzukic's wage demands could prevent a move to Old Trafford, however. Despite being 33 and entering the twilight of his career, the Croatian wants to be the club's fourth highest-paid player, according to the Sun.

- Arsenal's plan for the future, according to AS, involves persuading Real Madrid to sell Dani Ceballos, a deal that would result in Mesut Ozil being sold.

- Meanwhile, the Daily Mail also claims the Gunners also want to sign highly-rated Athletic Bilbao centre-back Unai Nunez, 22, with Everton set to rival them for the £30million-rated defender.

- Paris Saint-Germain are hopeful of securing new deals for Juan Bernat and Marquinhos, L'Equipe believes.

- Roma are set to bid farewell to Javier Pastore in January, with the Serie A side telling him he is free to leave, as per Calciomercato. A move to China, Brazil or his native Argentina appears likely.

Leicester City, West Ham and Valencia all tried to sign Mohamed Elneny from Arsenal during the transfer window, according to the midfielder's agent.

Elneny swapped Arsenal for Besiktas on a season-long loan in August after falling down the midfield pecking order at Emirates Stadium.

The Egypt international was also said to be wanted by other clubs, while reports in Italy this week suggested AC Milan may make an approach in the January window.

"He received a lot of offers last summer, led by Leicester City, West Ham and Valencia, but Besiktas managed to settle the deal with Arsenal," agent Alan Nazmy told Egyptian TV channel Time Sport.

"Milan and Roma previously tried to sign the player during the last winter transfer window, but the negotiations didn't work then, and he received more than one offer as well."

Asked about fresh rumoured interest from Milan, Nazmy said: "I can't talk about it."

Elneny made 89 appearances for Arsenal in all competitions after joining from Swiss side FC Basel in 2016, including 17 outings last season.

Arsenal boss Unai Emery allowed the 27-year-old to leave following the arrival of Dani Ceballos and emergence of academy product Joe Willock, but the door has not been closed on a return next year.

"Emery didn't ask for his departure from Arsenal because of his performance," Nazmy said. "He demanded that [Elneny] took a chance to develop his performance and return again.

"It is possible for him to play with Arsenal again. It still remains a strong possibility."

On October 16, 2004, Lionel Messi got his first taste of competitive senior football for Barcelona, coming on as a substitute for Deco against city rivals Espanyol.

Few watching at the time could have imagined quite what was to come from the Argentinian maestro, who has gone on to become arguably the greatest player of all time.

Messi's influence at Barca has become unrivalled, scoring 604 times to become their all-time leading scorer.

Fittingly, the 15th anniversary of his Barca debut comes on the same day he was presented with the European Golden Shoe for last season, and we have looked back at 10 of his very best goals in action for Barcelona.

Albacete (H): May 1, 2005

Even at 17, Messi had the confidence of a veteran. Having already had one goal wrongly ruled out for offside - an audacious chip from the edge of the box - Messi's focus was far from knocked and just a minute later he latched onto Ronaldinho's scooped pass before lobbing the ball over Albacete stopper Raul Valbuena from 16 yards. Some way to open your account for one of Europe's great clubs.

Getafe (H): April 18, 2007

In the 14 years since Messi first got on the scoresheet, one strike stands out as the best: his Diego Maradona-esque solo goal against Getafe. Messi picked up the ball in his own half and danced around two players before turning on the pace, beating two more defenders and going around the goalkeeper, capping it with a right-footed finish.

Real Zaragoza (A): March 21, 2010

Described by some as 'a defining goal' in his career, Messi's strike against Real Zaragoza seemed to take him from 'very good' into another class entirely. Messi displayed all he had to offer in this goal, which began when he won the ball from a tackle on halfway. From there, he shrugged off one challenge, raced towards the box and turned a defender inside out before drilling the ball into the far corner, leaving coach Pep Guardiola speechless.

Athletic Bilbao (A): April 27, 2013

Barca were in the midst of a Champions League semi-final shellacking from Bayern Munich when they arrived at San Mames. A goal down in a match that would eventually finish 2-2, Messi received possession from Thiago Alcantara, twisted past Mikel San Jose, Carlos Gurpegui and Ander Herrera with minimal space in which to operate before nonchalantly sidefooting home from just inside the penalty area.

Cordoba (H): December 20, 2014

Messi rounded off a 5-0 procession at Camp Nou with a frankly absurd piece of technique. Cordoba defender Jose Angel Crespo made glancing headed contact with Jordi Alba's searching cross from the left that might ordinarily have averted danger. But Barca's star man pulled the ball down with his left foot, swivelled 180 degrees and crashed right footed past Juan Carlos at the goalkeeper's near post.

Bayern Munich (H): May 6, 2015

Having already opened the scoring three minutes earlier to give Barca a 1-0 advantage over Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final, Messi doubled his tally with a sumptuous effort. Ivan Rakitic's pass sent Messi on his way, before the little maestro's trickery put Jerome Boateng on his backside and allowed the Argentine to casually lift the ball over the onrushing Manuel Neuer.

Athletic Bilbao (N): May 30, 2015

The second part of a treble-winning season for Barca came in the form of the Copa del Rey against Athletic Bilbao. With 20 minutes gone and the score deadlocked, Messi set off on a marauding run down the right wing and soon found himself trapped among three defenders. Naturally, Messi was able to float past the trio as if they were not there, before cutting into the box and beating Iago Herrerin at his near post.

Real Madrid (A): April 23, 2017

El Clasico rarely disappoints for football fans around the globe, and this edition was no different. Anything but a win would essentially hand Real Madrid the title and it looked to be headed for a 2-2 draw until Sergi Roberto's swashbuckling run in the 92nd minute gave Jordi Alba the chance to square it to Messi, who finished with aplomb from the edge of the area for his 500th Barcelona goal.

Real Sociedad (A): January 18, 2018

Over the past few years, Messi has really mastered the art of free-kick taking, with the skill being one of few to elude him in his younger days. This strike in a 4-2 LaLiga triumph at La Real last January showed just how far he has come, as he lined up a set-piece about 35 yards from goal and coolly curled it into the top-left corner, wrapping up victory for Barca, who had fallen 2-0 behind. 

Real Betis – March 17, 2019

We have become so accustomed to Messi's brilliance that he makes the extraordinary seem normal, but his hat-trick clincher in March's 4-1 win at Real Betis was pure genius. After receiving a cut-back from Ivan Rakitic, he caressed a first-time chipped effort over Pau Lopez and in off the crossbar from about 18 yards when shooting through a crowded penalty area looked an impossibility.

Lionel Messi has been presented with the European Golden Shoe for the sixth time, extending his own record as another incredible LaLiga campaign was recognised on Wednesday.

Messi earned the award, which is given to the player who scores the most league goals across Europe's top divisions, by finding the net 36 times in 34 LaLiga appearances in 2018-19.

His efforts helped Barca to successfully defend the LaLiga title as he claimed the Golden Shoe for the third successive season. 

The Argentina superstar was presented with the Golden Shoe at a ceremony in Barcelona, where his sons Thiago and Mateo handed him the latest trophy in a career laden with them.

"It is the most important competition. If you are not good in this tournament, it will cost you the Champions League," Messi said on stage of LaLiga.

"Thank you all. My family, managers, colleagues, all who have helped me to be here today."

With six Golden Shoes to his name, Messi has two more than Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won the award four times, last doing so in 2014-15.

Messi has endured an injury-affected start to the 2019-20 campaign and has scored only once so far this term.

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