Albert Celades has been impressed by Dani Parejo's positive response to what he acknowledged has been a difficult situation at Valencia.

Celades was brought in as Valencia's new coach following the dismissal of Marcelino – who guided them to two successive top-four finishes in LaLiga, along with a Copa del Rey triumph last season.

Defending champions Barcelona are first up for Celades, who was previously an assistant under Julen Lopetegui for both Spain and Real Madrid.

Valencia captain Parejo was among the players to take to social media in the wake of Marcelino's sacking, paying tribute to their former coach.

However, the Spain international posted a follow-up tweet on Thursday, stating: "Without excuses, with enthusiasm and with the maximum commitment. We are Valencia and we must live up to the badge."

It is a response that has pleased Celades, who says the players have shown a fantastic attitude despite the departure of a coach who was well respected by the squad.

"Under the circumstances that they have been through, the players have shown great professionalism," Celades told a news conference.

"Parejo is our captain. He's not just a player but also somebody very important for the fans.

"He's spent many years here, in very different times, and gone through many difficult situations as well as other nicer ones.

"He knows the club well and his attitude is very positive for all of us. I think it's a great show of responsibility.

"That's the way we want everybody to be. I hope that his optimism and mentality as captain is contagious."

Valencia drew both of their league meetings with Barca last term, before beating the Blaugrana 2-1 in the Copa del Rey final – a win that Marcelino believes played a part in him losing his job – and Ernesto Valverde is expecting a stern challenge despite the upheaval at Mestalla.

"I imagine it will be a similar kind of game even though they have changed manager," Barca's coach told a news conference.

"It was only two days ago. I don't really think there has been time, I'm sure there will be changes in time but it hasn't been enough.

"It's a team that has given us problems on the counter-attack, keep their lines together, quick on the break and can score from the smallest of chances, we saw that in the cup final.

"They're a Champions League team so we expect a Champions League kind of game."

Ernesto Valverde believes Lionel Messi's comments about his Barcelona future have been overplayed, insisting there is no doubt over the Argentinian's commitment.

In an interview with SPORT published this week, Messi – who is set to miss the game against Valencia on Saturday as he recovers from an injury which has kept him out of the opening three LaLiga fixtures – stated he does not intend to leave the club, though his commitment came on the condition of continued success.

Messi signed a four-year contract in 2017, but the agreement includes a clause which gives him the option of leaving on a free transfer at the end of each campaign.

However, Valverde is adamant Messi's words have been misinterpreted, although Barca's head coach acknowledged he is unable to control what players say in the press.

"I didn't want to read it. I know what Leo has to say," Valverde told a news conference when asked if Messi's comments suggested a rift between Barca's star player and the club's board.

"He expresses himself naturally and then people tend to misinterpret what he has said.

"Everything he says, people try to squeeze out every sub-meaning from his words. I think he was just trying to express things naturally, I don't think we need to worry.

"I don't think there are any doubts regarding his future. It's the club that decides which players it's going to keep or not, but I don't think there are any concerns, certainly I don't have any concerns about it."

Messi had been expected to recover from his calf injury in time to feature against Valencia. However, Valverde conceded the injury is worse than first expected, with Messi also unlikely to play against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday.

"The scar opened a little bit, so it’s told us that we need to exercise a little bit of caution," Valverde said. "I don't think it’s long that he’ll be back again. But Tuesday, I don't know, probably later.

"Of course he's a very important player for us, I can't deny that, but there has been other times when he hasn't played and we've got through games very well.

"He's the best player in the world so we want him back as soon as possible, but we want him to come back at full fitness, not for him to come back and then take things a step even further back.

"Missing Messi is always going to be noted, but it also means possibilities for other players to up their game. We saw that against Real Betis, certainly.

"Knowing how difficult it is to replace Messi, we need the guarantee that the team is still able to compete in his absence."

Ernesto Valverde wants to move on from the Neymar transfer saga as he fears it could have a negative effect on Barcelona.

The Brazil international is rumoured to have been desperate for a return to his former club, two years after leaving for Ligue 1 giants PSG in a world-record €222million deal, but nothing materialised before the September 2 deadline.

Neymar's future remains a hot topic of discussion after Barcelona star Lionel Messi said this week he does not know if his side did everything possible to bring his former team-mate back to Camp Nou.

Valverde was not in the mood to discuss Messi's interview during Friday's news conference, however, telling reporters: "Was this not over? It is done.

"We've been speaking about Neymar before the window, during it and now afterwards we're still talking about him. 

"It's time to turn the page. He's a very good player. The market closed days ago. 

"He's a great player, I know everyone has their opinion. Talking about these things is bad for the club. I do not like it.

"I didn't read the interview. Everyone looks at Leo with binoculars. There is no need to attach too much importance."

Barcelona are rumoured to have offered PSG cash plus players for Neymar, with Ivan Rakitic among those touted as a possible makeweight.

The Croatia midfielder has been restricted to just 44 minutes of football in Barca's first three LaLiga matches due to increased competition for a starting place, but Valverde is prepared to rotate with seven matches in the next 23 days.

"I don't think he's affected in any kind of way," Valverde said. "There's no reason for him to feel that way. 

"We've got a lot of players in midfield - if Rakitic doesn't play it's the same as Arthur, [Arturo] Vidal, [Carles] Alena, Sergi Roberto, Sergio Busquets. Whoever I don't play is going to be a story.

"Evidently they can't all play and there's competition for places. Sergio Busquets is a fixed player [in the starting XI] and that limits chances even more.

"There's time to start thinking about what type of rotations work and do not work in those positions."

Alphonse Areola refused to reveal if he has spoken with Kylian Mbappe about joining him at Real Madrid, while confirming he has also had no such conversation with Paul Pogba.

Madrid signed Areola on loan from Paris Saint-Germain late in the transfer window, with Keylor Navas moving to the Ligue 1 champions from the Santiago Bernabeu.

Mbappe, Areola's team-mate at PSG for the past two seasons, has long been linked with a switch to Los Blancos, while Manchester United star Pogba is also a reported target.

Both Mbappe and Pogba missed France's recent Euro 2020 qualifiers against Albania and Andorra through injury, though that did not stop the press quizzing Areola on the future of his compatriots.

"The thing I've spoken to Kylian about is his injury, he has to get back as quickly as possible from that and we'll see what happens in the future," Areola told a news conference.

"I can't go into detail if we've spoken about Madrid or not. I'm here and I want to be part of the history of this club.

"He's at Paris at the moment, he needs to recover from his injury, get his level back. Everyone has their own way forward, their own story and we'll see what happens at the end of the season.

"I have not spoken to Paul. He was injured in the last time we met with the national team, but I know him well. He's a great person, a great player with great quality.

"But everyone has their own way and their own road, so we'll see what happens."

Mbappe's injury means he is set to miss PSG's Champions League meeting with Madrid on September 18, a fixture Areola is relishing.

"It's great coincidence that we play PSG, I'm going to go back to the club very quickly," Areola said.

"[Madrid's players] haven't spoken about that yet, about how they're going to play.

"For me it's about getting involved in the squad and being comfortable here, I am very happy to have trained now we've got a game, it's an important one against Levante and we have to prove that we're ready."

Alphonse Areola is intent on making the most of his opportunity at Real Madrid as he looks to emulate his goalkeeping idol Iker Casillas.

France international Areola is on a season-long loan deal from Paris Saint-Germain to Madrid, with Keylor Navas heading in the opposite direction.

The 26-year-old is likely to back up Thibaut Courtois, who has started in Madrid's opening three LaLiga outings.

Areola acknowledged it will be a tough task to oust the Belgian as number one yet revealed the chance to join Madrid was too good to turn down, citing Los Blancos' iconic former goalkeeper Casillas as an influence on his decision.

"I have spoken to my friends and family about what it means to be number one in this side," Areola told a news conference when asked about following in Casillas' footsteps.

"Casillas was one of my idols when I was young in France, he made me want to play in goal. In fact, I've got a shirt of his from when I was young. 

"I think it's good to try and take on this responsibility to be number one and try and prove I can be number one.

"It's true, I only have one year on loan here, but I've seen the stadium, the history here and I'm going to do as much as I possibly can. 

"Of course, there's a hierarchy already but as soon as I get the chance I'm going to try and show the level I've got. 

"It was a good opportunity to come to the biggest club in the world and take advantage of that, to improve as a player and discover a new opportunity. It's a great opportunity for me."

Areola added another deciding factor in his transfer was Zinedine Zidane, with the goalkeeper honoured to be playing under a France legend.

"It is true I am coming to a club that is coached by a legend," he said. "It is an honour for me to be here with Zidane, to play under him, and I am going to do the best I can for him.

"He's given me a great welcome. My objective is to give everything I can every day in training, be ready for every game. When I have a chance to show my level, show how good I can be, I have to be strong and show what I am worth."

Areola is set to be in Zidane's squad for Saturday's meeting with Levante, before Madrid travel to Paris for a Champions League clash with his former club.

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone insists he is not worried about Angel Correa's state of mind after his failed move to AC Milan.

Correa, 24, was strongly linked with a move away from Atletico in the transfer window and was understood to have been a primary target of Milan.

The Argentina international, who has struggled to build on his early promise, looked to have fallen further down the pecking order in attack over the pre-season, with Joao Felix arriving, Alvaro Morata already on the books and Vitolo producing some eye-catching displays.

Milan were reported to have offered him a route out and a key role in a new era at the club, but they and Atletico failed to reach an agreement for the player who is said to have been valued at €50million.

He is yet to play for Atletico this season, but Simeone is adamant Correa has a place in the squad and can be important.

"I have seen him train in the best way, with the best predisposition and prepared for what the team needs, be it on the wing or as a forward," Simeone told reporters ahead of Saturday's trip to Real Sociedad.

"That has not changed because of what happened. Now that he has returned, he has had these 10 days.

"He is an important player. He gives us a directness and change of pace in attack that not many have. We will use him where he feels most comfortable."

Friday is the 32nd anniversary of Simeone's professional debut with Velez Sarsfield and the former Argentina international paid tribute to his coaches for developing him into the tactician he is today.

"I debuted 32 years ago when I was just 17 years old," he said. "It was a beautiful stage in my career.

"I remember working with some really great coaches. They made me a better person and they helped pave my way for the future to give me that possibility to become a coach.

"That allowed me to be immersed in my big passion, which is football, and the truth is I feel very happy about that.

"To have that moment, it's clear there were many happy and sad moments, just like life itself."

Neymar is available for Paris Saint-Germain and ready to face Strasbourg on Saturday, coach Thomas Tuchel has confirmed.

Neymar has not played for PSG yet this season having been sidelined by injury and speculation over his future in the French capital.

He was a target for former club Barcelona during the transfer window but the LaLiga champions were unable to seal a deal with PSG.

Neymar then made his comeback from injury during the international break, featuring for Brazil in a pair of friendly matches against Colombia and Peru.

Speaking at his pre-match news conference on Friday, Tuchel said Neymar is ready to be recalled into the PSG squad for Saturday's visit of Strasbourg.

"Neymar's return is well-timed given fellow forwards Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani will both miss the game due to injury," Tuchel told reporters.

"Yes, clearly yes, of course, now everything is clear, we know our group, I'm very happy, we have a lot of talent, we have Neymar in our group, we have nothing else in our head, Ney too, and he can focus on us.

"We miss Edi and Kylian, so he needs to get back and he's available tomorrow."

Neymar has yet to speak openly about the transfer saga involving Barcelona, but former team-mate Lionel Messi is among those to have talked about the potential deal.

Messi was reportedly pushing hard for Neymar to be targeted by PSG, while sporting director Leonardo confirmed the 27-year-old had made it clear he wanted to leave Paris.

PSG were open to offers for the Brazil forward but reportedly rejected cash-plus-players deals proposed by Barcelona, with Tuchel now expecting Neymar to refocus on his third PSG campaign - although he will be serving a suspension when his team face Real Madrid in the Champions League next week.

"I'm convinced that Neymar will give everything to help us achieve our goals this season," he added.

"It is the challenge for me to find a balance between always talking with him or not talking to him.

"Life is not too hard for Ney to live and play in Paris, it's not too bad either... if we talk about all the things that Ney said, that his father said, that Barcelona said... We're going to lose our heads, I want to look forward, he'll get his smile back and then we'll see."

Marcelino Garcia Toral is adamant Valencia's decision to sack him came about because they won the Copa del Rey last season.

The highly regarded coach was dismissed on Wednesday in something of a shock following a reported disagreement with club owner Peter Lim.

Marcelino had been at Valencia for two seasons and guided them to back-to-back fourth-place finishes in LaLiga, a feat many see as overachievement given the club's woes over the past decade.

On top of strong league campaigns, Marcelino also guided Valencia to their first piece of silverware in 11 years last term, beating Barcelona 2-1 to lift the Copa del Rey.

But it was that success, Marcelino claims, which ultimately cost him his job, with the former Villarreal boss suggesting he went against the board's wishes in concentrating on a competition he believes they deemed to be "minor".

"I am absolutely sure that the trigger for this situation was the Copa del Rey," he told a news conference on Friday.

"During the season, we received direct and indirect messages that we had to discount it [the Copa]. The fans wanted to fight for it and the players too, and they had the conviction to win it. The coaching staff wanted to fight and win the Copa.

"They didn't tell me why they didn't want the Copa, only that it was a minor tournament and that I could be putting the main goal [Champions League qualification] at risk. Winning the Copa was the trigger for this situation.

"We did not receive congratulations in Seville [after the Copa final] from the owner [Lim]. When I went to Singapore [for a meeting with Lim and Anil Murthy, club president], I was congratulated for qualifying for the Champions League, not for winning the Copa."

Former Barca and Real Madrid midfielder Albert Celades was chosen as the surprise replacement for Marcelino, despite receiving significant criticism for negative tactics and lacking a style of play when he was in charge of the Spain Under-21s until his resignation last year.

But Marcelino hopes the fans get behind the man who was Julen Lopetegui's assistant at Real Madrid.

"You know Valencia is complicated for coaches," he said. "I was fortunate that the fans received me warmly.

"I am proud to leave two years later with the same kind of acceptance, and I won't forget that. I have been really happy in Valencia and lived unforgettable moments.

"I hope the people now support Celades. I wish him the best of luck."

Zinedine Zidane has opposed Gareth Bale's view of being made a scapegoat at Real Madrid while praising the winger's "amazing" ability.

Wales international Bale almost moved to Chinese side Jiangsu Suning during the transfer window after being told he was free to leave Madrid.

Los Blancos boss Zidane made the decision following months of speculation over their seemingly fractured relationship but the Madrid board blocked his departure at the last minute.

Bale, while on international duty last week, claimed to have been "made more of a scapegoat than most" for the team's shortcomings, a belief not shared by his head coach.

"No, I think we're all guilty if things go wrong or if things go right," Zidane said.

"It's up to us, all of us, we're all in the same boat. We want to change things when things don't go right. We're thinking as a team mentality."

Initially on the outer during the pre-season tour to the United States, Bale has since returned to the first-team fold.

The 30-year-old started each of three club's three LaLiga games before the international break, scoring twice.

"I've always said he's got amazing quality, Gareth Bale," Zidane said.

"He's a great player. What happened in the summer, everyone knew the situation. Now he's here, I'm happy, he's happy, everyone is happy, the fans as well.

"Now we have to move forward."

Bale's reinstatement to the starting XI has partly reduced the opportunities for Vinicius Junior, who has been restricted to one start and a pair of cameo appearances this term.

Zidane, though, is adamant chances will come for the young forward.

"I completely trust Vinicius, I can guarantee that," the Frenchman said.

"I'm his coach. I've got 23, 24 players to choose from but Vinicius is just 19, he's playing for Real Madrid.

"It's like everything, things take time. He's in a process to improve, like all players are. Perhaps at times he won't play because someone else will come in.

"Then you go and get your headlines, you say 'he doesn't want to pick Vinicius' but that's not the point. He will play."

Eden Hazard is ready to make his Real Madrid debut this weekend but Zinedine Zidane intends to take extreme caution with his fit-again star signing.

Belgium international Hazard has been cleared to make his first LaLiga appearance against Levante on Saturday, three months after arriving from Chelsea in a deal that reportedly could eventually cost Madrid €140million.

An ill-timed thigh injury on the eve of the new season delayed the 28-year-old's competitive bow, which appears likely to come from the bench at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"We have to go little by little with him," Zidane said. "He's been injured for three weeks. He's back training this week.

"We all want to see him play. We've got seven games in 21 days. We have to go carefully with him.

"We know what the situation is – he's ready and that's the most important thing.

"I'll be the one in charge of giving him minutes here and there and not trying to push him too much, trying to get the best out of him.

"We've got a lot of matches coming up, not just this one tomorrow, and we need to use our heads with Eden Hazard. So let's be calm. We're all ready and so is he."

While star signing Hazard is back in the mix, Madrid will be without Luka Modric for their fourth LaLiga fixture after the midfielder suffered a right leg muscle injury.

The 34-year-old, who played two full matches for Croatia during the international break, could also miss the midweek Champions League trip to Paris Saint-Germain.

Madrid have been riddled with fitness issues throughout the early part of the new season but head coach Zidane would not apportion blame for the latest setback.

"Everyone tries to do the best for the players," he said.

"Luka played two games in four days [with Croatia]. That's what happens. We can't think too much about it, we just want Luka to get fit quickly to help us.

"The fact he's injured now and can't play tomorrow, we just have to accept it."

Zidane added: "I think all the clubs have similar problems. The fact we've got a lot of international players as well makes things difficult.

"But we work well on the training field, we've got the best backroom staff, I trust them, so we just hope after the injury to Luka we don't have any more."

Mauricio Pochettino claimed his preference to keep Kieran Trippier was "so clear" despite the defender appearing to accuse Tottenham of keeping him guessing over their transfer plans.

England right-back Trippier moved to LaLiga side Atletico Madrid in July, bringing an end to a four-year stint in north London.

The 28-year-old endured an underwhelming final season with Spurs but last week said he had "wanted to stay" and might have done so had the club not "got rid" of him.

"I tried to speak to the chairman about it and I spoke to the manager about his plans and I didn't get a yes and I didn't get a no. So you get the impression," Trippier was quoted as saying.

Pochettino offered a different version of events and revealed the former Burnley player made contact through Harry Kane in an attempt to clarify his comments.

"He believed his words were twisted - I don't know anything more," said Pochettino, who did not receive a text message from Trippier due to recently changing his phone number.

"Kieran translated this message to me through Harry Kane. He wanted to tell me. But I've got no problem with Kieran.

"In football decisions happen and players move from one club to another. What happened happened, and we need to move on and he needs to think of Atletico Madrid and be happy there."

Pochettino added, according to several English newspapers: "The only conversation when he arrived after the summer was when he came to see me.

"He asked me for a meeting and said, 'Gaffer, I think I have a good possibility and for different reasons I would like to accept the offer from Atletico Madrid'.

"He didn't ask me nothing. He only communicated whether the club were going to accept the offer. Nothing more.

"It wasn't a conversation - 'Do you want me or don't you want me?'. It was so clear.

"He played the final of the Champions League, when I had plenty of different options, with Serge Aurier, Davinson Sanchez, Kyle Walker-Peters. But he played the final of the Champions League. My actions speak louder than my words."

Trippier joined Tottenham from Burnley in 2015 and went on to star at the World Cup three years later.

"We all feel proud to help him to achieve his dream and to reach a level that he wasn't at before he arrived at Tottenham," Pochettino said.

"That speaks very highly about Tottenham, very highly about him, and we are more than happy that he is enjoying the new experience in Spain.

"I hope he has a good life there."

Marc-Andre ter Stegen has expressed frustration with being overlooked by Germany head coach Joachim Low.

Barcelona goalkeeper Ter Stegen was on the bench for both of Germany's Euro 2020 qualifiers during the international break.

Manuel Neuer conceded four goals in a Group C defeat at home to Netherlands, but then kept a clean sheet in an away win against joint-leaders Northern Ireland.

Ter Stegen deputised for Neuer during the 2018-19 season when the Bayern Munich captain was sidelined long-term due to injury.

Neuer has regained the gloves since returning to full fitness, though, and Ter Stegen accepts he is in a frustrating situation.

"It is not easy to find an explanation as I am giving the best account of myself in each game to make the decision more difficult," Ter Stegen said.

"I am trying [to become first-choice] anyway. But this trip with the national team has been a tough blow for me."

Ter Stegen, 27, has played 22 times for his country, who are on track to qualify for Euro 2020 after joining Northern Ireland on 12 points after five games.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez dreams of seeing the club's basketball team playing in the NBA.

Madrid are one of the dominant forces in European basketball, winning a record 10 EuroLeague titles. Their most recent success was in the 2017-2018 season, while they were losing semi-finalists earlier this year.

They have also won the Spanish league four years out of the last five, with Perez suggesting Madrid's players deserve to test themselves against the best by joining the Eastern Conference.

"In basketball we play many insignificant games," Perez said. "It's better to play less, but better.

"We have explored the option of a European League and I have the dream of seeing Madrid in the NBA.

"I have asked us to be included in the Eastern Conference, but they say that's far away."

Perez suggested an alternative option could be to include Real Madrid in a new European Conference that would be part of the NBA.

"The other teams in Spain don't have as much interest," Perez added.

"But there are Greek and Turkish clubs with which we could have a European Conference.

"There are only two teams in the NBA with more followers than us on social networks."

Marc-Andre ter Stegen believes Lionel Messi is "really happy" at Camp Nou but says the Barcelona talisman has earned the right to decide his own future.

Messi, who has only played for Barca at club level since making his debut in October 2004, gave a wide-ranging interview to SPORT this week.

The Argentina international, considered one of the greatest players of all time, said he aimed to stay at Barca for "as long as possible" but acknowledged a "need to see there's a winning team".

The Catalan giants have not won the Champions League since the 2014-15 season when Neymar starred alongside Luis Suarez and Messi, who had hoped the Brazil forward would return to Barcelona.

However, Ter Stegen had no issue with Messi's apparent suggestion that he could move on from Barca if the team does not perform.

"[Messi] deserves to choose his own future," he told reporters. "The easiest thing is for us to tell him to stay because he's a key player for us and his level is so high.

"I'm convinced he's really happy in the team, at the club and in the city. It's hard for him to move.

"Personally, I want him to stay, but I don't decide. We're going to tell him to stay and we hope he does."

Messi said he did not know if Barca had done everything possible to bring Neymar back to the club from Paris Saint-Germain, but Ter Stegen is keen to move on from the failed transfer.

"It is a question that is currently difficult to answer," he said. "Neymar is a spectacular player, he spent many years with us and took another step.

"Now nothing can be changed. The club has tried what it could. We are delighted to have the best players in the squad. I'm happy with the team we have."

It was reported Ivan Rakitic could form part of a deal for Neymar as he was repeatedly linked with a move away from the LaLiga champions, yet Ter Stegen is glad to have the midfielder still on board.

"It's what happens every year," he said. "In the end, the good thing is that we have people like him who give everything for the club and, personally, I think it is fantastic that he stayed because he gives us a lot of quality.

"He is one of the pillars of our team as a person and as a footballer. He has a contract for some years and we hope he stays.

"I am not the coach to decide, but I hope he plays a few more minutes - although that is the coach's decision and he will choose those he thinks can help us more."

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