Celta Vigo have appointed Oscar Garcia as their new head coach until the end of the 2019-20 season.

LaLiga strugglers Celta - 18th in the table on nine points after four straight defeats - have turned to the former Barcelona player after sacking Fran Escriba following a 1-0 loss to Getafe on Sunday.

Garcia's coaching career has seen him work in various leagues across Europe, including a spell with Maccabi Tel Aviv where he won the title in Israel.

He was also crowned champion twice in Austria while in charge of Salzburg and was most recently at Olympiacos, leaving his role at the Greek club last April.

Garcia also had stints in England with Brighton and Hove Albion and Watford, though he was only at the Hornets for 27 days in 2014 before stepping down for health reasons.

His first game in charge of Celta will see him return to Camp Nou, as his new employers travel to table-topping Barca on Saturday prior to November's international break.

Ernesto Valverde has challenged Ousmane Dembele to earn his place in the Barcelona team after the forward was surprisingly left out against Levante.

Dembele was not part of Valverde's squad for Saturday's shock 3-1 loss in LaLiga, despite being available again after serving a two-game suspension.

Barca let slip a one-goal lead as they conceded three times in the space of seven minutes in the second half, their hopes of a recovery not aided by the loss of Luis Suarez to a calf injury before the interval.

The presence of Dembele on the bench may have helped Valverde at the weekend, though the Blaugrana boss is adamant the France international must show he deserves to be regularly involved.

"Everyone always has to earn their place - Dembele is no exception," Valverde told the media ahead of Tuesday's Champions League game against Slavia Prague.

"When he plays, he can stay in that position [if he plays well], as happens to Ansu [Fati], Luis [Suarez], [Antoine] Griezmann or [Gerard] Pique.

"When you have your chance, you will have to try to stay [in the team]."

Valverde was also questioned over the future of Riqui Puig amid reports the midfielder may push to leave in January to get first-team football – he is yet to feature for Barca so far this season.

"I don't know what can happen in the next transfer window - there is still time," Valverde said when asked about the rumours the 20-year-old is considering his future at Camp Nou.

"We have a lot of midfielders. With his talent, it is clear he will play at Barca. What we do not know is when."

Ernesto Valverde understands the pressure is increasing at Barcelona following their shocking collapse against Levante, yet he is trying to remain calm as they aim to get back to winning ways against Sparta Prague.

Not for the first time in Valverde's reign, Barca let slip a promising position on Saturday, conceding three times in seven second-half minutes to suffer a 3-1 defeat in LaLiga.

While other results went Barca's way to keep them on top of the table, the nature of the loss raised questions over the future of the head coach.

Valverde insisted in the aftermath he had no intention of resigning and, speaking on Monday, the former Athletic Bilbao coach declared he aimed to "maintain a balance" in his job, despite the hysteria following the surprise result.

"It is clear that, when you lose, you have more tension," Valverde told the media ahead of Barca's midweek Champions League outing.

"We know what it means to lose. There is always a swell of pressure. We know that it is the case, and that is fine because it forces us to react.

"I know that the general tendency is to get off the table if we do well or sink if we lose. I try to maintain a balance.

"When we lose a game, I try to find the football reasons. At the beginning of the season, we were not well, especially away from home. Then we had a three-game winning streak.

"The other day [against Levante], when we had everything on track, we lost it in a minute. We have to ask ourselves why we have lost and the game situations that led to this [happening]."

Valverde was also in charge when Barcelona failed to hang on to first-leg leads against Roma and Liverpool in their previous two campaigns in Europe, ending their hopes of Champions League glory.

Asked if the worrying slumps were a sign of a lack of leadership, he referenced their battling 2-1 home win over Inter when they rallied from a goal down to triumph at Camp Nou.

"Lack of leadership? You could have asked yourself that after coming back with Inter," Valverde replied.

"This team has come back in many games, also against Real Betis [when they trailed 1-0 but ending up winning 5-2 in LaLiga this season]. You can't always [come back], you just have to admit that and look at where we failed."

Luis Suarez was forced off in the first half of the Levante defeat with what the club later confirmed to be a right calf injury.

However, Valverde revealed that, while the Uruguayan striker is set to miss Tuesday's clash with Sparta, Suarez may recover in time to face Celta Vigo this weekend.

"It's not an important injury like last time," he said. "Tomorrow is very unlikely. Next week? I wouldn't like to say."

LaLiga strugglers Leganes have announced experienced Mexican boss Javier Aguirre as their new head coach.

Aguirre, who has previously led Spanish sides Osasuna, Atletico Madrid, Real Zaragoza and Espanyol, replaces interim coach Luis Cembranos on a deal that runs through until the end of 2019-20.

Cembranos stepped up from the reserve side following Mauricio Pellegrino's sacking last month and oversaw Leganes' only win of the league season so far against Real Mallorca nine days ago.

However, Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Eibar leaves them still bottom of LaLiga and six points adrift of 17th-placed Mallorca.

Aguirre's most recent coaching position was with the Egypt national side, a role he held for less than a year before his side's disappointing early Africa Cup of Nations elimination in July.

The writing has long been on the wall for Gareth Bale.

Zinedine Zidane wanted him gone from Real Madrid before the previous transfer window closed, but a move did not materialise.

But as the January window approaches, Bale is reportedly ready to leave.

 

TOP STORY – GARETH WANTS TO BALE

Gareth Bale wants to leave Real Madrid in January amid links to the Chinese Super League, according to Cadena Ser.

Bale was poised to make a shock switch to China after being told to move on by Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane, though the Welshman remained at the Santiago Bernabeu.

However, Bale is reportedly desperate for a January exit and wants Madrid to listen to offers from the CSL.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to Calciomercato, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has offered himself to former club Juventus. Bologna have confirmed their interest in the LA Galaxy striker, whose contract is set to expire. A-League team Perth Glory want to bring the 38-year-old to Australia. Ibrahimovic spent two years at Juventus, however, the Serie A champions are reportedly not prepared to bring back the veteran as they look to trim their squad in January.

Roma are close to reaching an agreement with Manchester United for on-loan defender Chris Smalling. Calciomercato reports the Serie A side are preparing to present a €17million (£14.6m) offer for the Englishman.

William Saliba is yet to play a match for Arsenal but he could already be on the move. Saliba signed for the Gunners in July before he was immediately loaned back to Saint-Etienne for the 2019-20 season. However, Defensa Central claims Real Madrid are eyeing the 18-year-old French defender. Monaco's Benoit Badiashile and Boubacar Kamara of Marseille are also on the list to potentially replace Raphael Varane.

- The Telegraph says Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana is a target for clubs in the Chinese Super League and MLS. Lallana is out of contract at the end of the season.

Ronald Koeman dominates the frontpage of Monday's SPORT newspaper. The Netherlands boss is heavily linked to Barcelona having revealed a release clause in his contract, and amid growing pressure on head coach Ernesto Valverde .

- Former Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri and ex-Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta are among the candidates to replace Unai Emery should the Gunners sack the Spaniard, according to the Mirror. Allegri has also been linked to Bayern Munich and Manchester United, while Arteta is serving as Pep Guardiola's Manchester City assistant. Jose Mourinho has also reportedly emerged as an option.

Kylian Mbappe plans to join Real Madrid after turning down the chance during his time at Monaco, according to former vice-president Vadim Vasilyev.

Mbappe initially moved to Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain on loan from rivals Monaco in 2017 before making the transfer permanent in a €145million deal the following year.

Madrid were interested in Mbappe prior to the French sensation swapping Monaco for Paris, and the LaLiga powerhouse continue to be linked with the 20-year-old forward.

Vasilyev, who knows Mbappe well from their time together at Stade Louis II, believes the 2018 World Cup winner will eventually make the move to Madrid.

"Why did he not sign at Real?," Vasilyev told Telefoot. "He told me: 'Vadim, I think it's too early, I'm Parisian, I do not want to leave my country like that, I want to become a great player here. Real Madrid will wait, that's what I think'.

"I told him, 'Kylian, you're right'. He wants to win. And of course the Champions League must be won for a player like that. If he wins it with Paris, it's better."

Vasilyev added: "They [Real Madrid] will knock on your door. The entire Estadio Santiago Bernabeu will applaud you when you get there."

"He remains the same person, the same Kylian. It's just that he has gained importance, power in the global landscape," Vasilyev said.

"I know Cristiano Ronaldo quite well, and he always wants to break all records, go further. Kylian is the same."

Mbappe, who won the Ligue 1 title in his final season at Monaco, has flourished with PSG in the French capital.

He has claimed back-to-back Ligue 1 trophies, as well as Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and Trophee des Champions silverware.

After scoring 39 goals across all competitions in 2018-19, Mbappe has netted nine times for Thomas Tuchel's PSG this season.

LaLiga strugglers Celta Vigo have sacked head coach Fran Escriba following their loss to Getafe.

Celta made the announcement after Sunday's 1-0 defeat at home to Getafe – their fourth consecutive loss.

The result left Celta in the relegation zone and two points adrift of safety following 12 rounds in LaLiga.

"Fran Escriba will not continue in charge of Celta. The club would like to thank him and his coaching staff for their efforts and commitment and wish them success in the future," Celta said in a statement.

Former Elche, Getafe and Villarreal boss Escriba was appointed by Celta in March – becoming the club's third coach of the 2018-19 campaign.

Escriba helped Celta avoid relegation last term, however, the 54-year-old only oversaw two wins this season.

 

 

Jose Mourinho has heaped praise on Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe, saying the forward reminds him of the great Brazil striker Ronaldo.

Mbappe has scored seven goals in his past four matches for the Ligue 1 champion after a 2018-19 season in which he netted 39 times in all competitions for his club.

Manager Mourinho is a huge fan of the 20-year-old, already a World Cup winner and one of the brightest talents in football.

"The only player that comes to my mind and with who I can compare him is Ronaldo," Mourinho told Telefoot.

"I think they [Mbappe and Ronaldo] are players with unique qualities. If you play against him, he's scary."

Mbappe netted on Friday for PSG in a 2-1 defeat at Dijon.

Ronaldo, a two-time World Cup winner with Brazil, was a prolific goalscorer for PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Real Madrid in a glittering career.

In addition to reminding him of the Brazilian, Mourinho also said that he was also impressed by Mbappe's character.

He added: "I spoke with Kylian for three minutes at the ceremony of the Ballon d'Or. 

"He speaks with everyone with a simplicity ... remarkable, classy."

Mbappe moved from Monaco to PSG in 2017, initially on loan. Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasyliev expects Mbappe to end up at Real Madrid, like Ronaldo.

Vasyliev told Telefoot that Mbappe said to him: "I want to become a great player here [France], Real will wait. But it will come."

Ronald Koeman has branded Barcelona his "dream club" but a potential route back to Camp Nou will not become clearer until after Euro 2020.

Royal Dutch Football Association director Nico-Jan Hoogma last month revealed the existence of a clause in Koeman's Netherlands contract enabling him to quit the post if Barca come calling.

The former Valencia and Everton boss confirmed Hoogma's account in an appearance on Dutch television but said the clause is not yet in effect and that he has no plans to leave in the immediate future.

Koeman won four LaLiga titles with Barca as a player and would be among the favourites to take over as head coach if the club parts ways with the under-pressure Ernesto Valverde.

"It's only about Barcelona and also about a time after the European Championship," Koeman told Fox Sports Netherlands when asked about the contract.

"I'm not leaving now, that's 100 per cent certain.

"I think that as a national coach you are entering a process and that takes two years. After the European Championship there is an evaluation moment and who knows, the KNVB may say: 'We have performed so badly at the European Championship, we are not going any further.' Then we will not go further.

"But I have the opportunity to leave for one club, and there is only one club in it.

"I can safely say that I will not leave the Dutch national team for anyone else. I have said often enough that [Barcelona] is my dream club."

Netherlands need only a point against Northern Ireland in Belfast on November 16 to book their place at Euro 2020.

The match might come too soon for uncapped teenager Mohamed Ihattaren but Koeman will be able to call on the highly rated PSV prospect in future.

Ihattaren, 17, has committed to representing the Oranje at senior level, spurning interest from Morocco.

Koeman welcomed the news in the wake of Ajax defender Sergino Dest's decision to pledge his allegiance to the United States.

"His choice is in any case a nice signal to other players who are faced with the same choice," he said.

Out of work and looking for a job – Massimiliano Allegri could be poised for a return to the dugout.

Allegri left Juventus at the end of 2018-19 after guiding the Old Lady to five consecutive Serie A titles.

The Italian coach has been linked to Manchester United but, with Niko Kovac on the brink at Bayern Munich, Allegri could find himself in Bavaria.

 

TOP STORY – BAYERN GO FOR ALLEGRI

Bayern Munich want former Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri to replace Niko Kovac, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Kovac is on the verge of being sacked after Bayern's humiliating 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, with the Bundesliga champions cancelling Sunday's public training session as pressure mounts.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax's Erik ten Hag have been linked but Bayern have reportedly identified the man to take over in Munich.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror claims Manchester United are ready to hijack Liverpool's move for RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner. Champions League holders Liverpool have been linked to Werner, however, United want to bring the Germany international to Old Trafford in January.

Perth Glory are still optimistic they can lure Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Australia, reports The West Australian. After revealing an approach for Ibrahimovic on a guest-player contract, A-League side Perth have seen Serie A outfit Bologna confirm their interest in the 38-year-old striker ahead of the January transfer window. Ibrahimovic's LA Galaxy contract will expire before the end of the year.

Tottenham are eyeing a January swoop for Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana. With Hugo Lloris out injured, Spurs are on the lookout for a new keeper and £35million could see Eredivisie champions Ajax sell the Cameroon international.

- According to the Guardian, Arsenal have joined United and Juventus in the transfer chase for Salzburg sensation Erling Haaland.

- Mundo Deportivo says Barcelona have dropped their interest in Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar. The Slovakia international has established himself as one of the best defenders in the world since joined Inter in 2017.

United and Paris Saint-Germain are leading the race to sign Juventus midfielder Emre Can, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta played down speculation linking star forward Lautaro Martinez to Barcelona and Manchester United.

Martinez's fine start to the season has seen him emerge as a target for LaLiga champions Barca and struggling Premier League giants United.

The 22-year-old Argentina international, whose agent has talked up interest from Barca in the past, has scored seven goals this term.

Asked about rumours that Barca and United are poised to activate Martinez's €111million release clause, Marotta told Sky Sport Italia: "This is all media talk.

"Our players are happy to be with us and a player must express its desire to leave if he wants to go. We don't tend to sell important players, Inter are a very important club.

"Of course, part of this job is to deal with situations as they present themselves."

Martinez, who arrived from Racing Club in 2018-19, has scored five Serie A goals this term and seven across all competitions for Antonio Conte's Inter.

Inter defeated Bologna 2-1 on Saturday to stay within a point of defending champions Juventus after 11 games.

Thibaut Courtois insists Real Madrid cannot pin the blame for their failure to beat Real Betis on the referee's decision not to award a penalty late on in Saturday's 0-0 draw.

Madrid were adamant they should have had a spot-kick when Karim Benzema's cross struck the arm of Betis defender Zouhair Feddal, who had slid in with his right hand trailing behind him.

Referee Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez consulted with VAR but did not go to a pitch-side monitor to check the decision himself, much to Madrid's chagrin.

Having been handed no reprieve by the officials, Madrid upped the pressure, but Joel Robles stood firm with two fine saves from Vinicius Junior, with earlier missed opportunities coming back to bite Los Blancos as Zinedine Zidane's side missed the chance to move top of LaLiga.

Courtois, however, did not entertain the possibility the referee was responsible, even though the Belgium international believes Madrid would have been worthy winners.

"It is not a penalty. The handballs in the [penalty] areas are very complicated," Courtois told reporters.

"It is not easy for referees and players to know when it is or not. We saw something, but we cannot protest something that no longer exists.

"I think in general we had a good game. We have created many chances. It is a shame, but we must continue. I think we played a game to win. You can't take anything away from Betis."

Zidane echoed Courtois' sentiment, claiming he could see little fault in his side's performance even though Madrid failed to capitalise on Barcelona's defeat to Levante and Atletico Madrid's draw with Sevilla.

"There was a handball, but the referee has decided it was otherwise. I don't get into referee issues. I saw the handball, but the referee's interpretation was different," Zidane told a news conference.

"The criteria for handball is clearly that of the referee because he has not consulted VAR. You have to respect what he says.

"At the level of play, intensity and attitude, everything was perfect. We were missing a goal. You cannot reproach anyone. We tried until the end.

"Everyone fails. It's going to be a very complicated league."

Sergio Ramos acknowledged Real Madrid wasted an opportunity to make a statement in LaLiga after their goalless draw with Real Betis.

Madrid would have moved top - clear of Barcelona by two points - with a victory on Saturday but failed to take their chances in a subdued encounter at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Betis' Joel Robles made some fine saves late on, having initially denied Ramos an opener just before half-time, while Ferland Mendy also passed up a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock as Madrid were held to a 0-0 draw for the first time under Zinedine Zidane.

Captain Ramos insisted Los Blancos did all they could to carve out a lead but shrugged off the suggestion LaLiga's traditional big three of Madrid, Barca and Atletico Madrid are beginning to falter, despite all three sides failing to win on Saturday.

"Nothing's happening, that's just football, it's not easy," Ramos told Movistar. "Today, Levante beat Barcelona, you can't expect to win any game, whoever you're playing against.

"Our league is the best in the world, we're fortunate to be playing in it and we try to do our best.

"Today was a good opportunity to become the leaders, with the other results. We fought for the result from the first minute but couldn't take the goal.

"The attitude and work in defence was good. You have to give credit to Betis too, they're a team who like to keep the ball and play football, it's not easy.

"It's a bittersweet feeling to get just one point, we've lost an opportunity to go first and take the lead."

Betis' standout performer Robles, meanwhile, believes Saturday's draw - on the back of their victory over Celta Vigo - can provide the struggling Andalusian side with a much-needed morale boost after they lost four of their previous five LaLiga matches before Saturday.

"We are happy with the work of the boys, it gives confidence, it's a good point in a tough stadium to come to," said Robles.

"We're happy for the point and we needed to get one here. We need to get more confidence, we're still not at our highest level, but we're going to keep working.

"We were in a bad run, but we got the victory over Celta and now this result will give us confidence. We have to enjoy this point, rest and then in a week we have the derby."

Real Madrid failed to capitalise on Barcelona's slip-up as Zinedine Zidane's side were held to a 0-0 draw by Real Betis in LaLiga, with Ferland Mendy missing a glorious chance.

Three goals in the space of seven second-half minutes saw Levante defeat leaders Barca 3-1 earlier on Saturday, but Madrid offered little for much of the encounter at the Santiago Bernabeu as they failed to move above their bitter rivals.

Eden Hazard had an early goal disallowed by VAR, but instead of paving the way for a dominant Madrid display, Los Blancos were found lacking going forward, even if Joel Robles did make a fine save from Sergio Ramos just before the break.

Mendy should have made the breakthrough shortly after the hour, but an abysmal finish from the left-back summed up a frustrating outing for Madrid, who nevertheless moved level on points with Barca, though they trail on goal difference.

Hazard thought he had driven home his second LaLiga goal in the eighth minute, only for VAR to disallow his effort for offside.

Toni Kroos had Robles beaten with a free-kick soon after, though his effort sailed just wide, before Betis finally offered a threat - Nabil Fekir flashing an effort across the face of goal.

Madrid's opener looked set to come from an unlikely source when Karim Benzema teed up Ramos, but Robles stood his ground to make a fantastic stop, before Thibaut Courtois kept out Loren Moron's long-range strike at the other end.

A few moments after having a penalty appeal rightly turned down, Mendy raced through on Betis' goal but failed to keep his composure when one-on-one with Robles, slicing his attempt into the side-netting.

Zouhair Feddal wore a nervous expression when VAR went back to check a potential handball a little later, though Betis' luck was in - the video system deeming no offence had occurred.

Betis' defence was breached twice in quick succession in the final minutes, yet Robles again came to their rescue, thwarting Vinicius Junior a couple of times before Feddal hooked clear off the line, with Madrid forced to settle for a point.

What does it mean? LaLiga wide open

Madrid are now without a win over Betis in their last three home league matches against the Andalusian side, who had lost four of their past five LaLiga fixtures heading into Saturday's encounter.

With Barca going down at Levante and Atletico Madrid only managing to draw with Sevilla, who complete the top four, LaLiga is tight at the top, with no one possessing the consistency to nose themselves clear.

Robles stands firm

Until the closing stages, Betis' goalkeeper was not called into action as much as he might have expected, but when he was required, Robles stood up to the task, making a fantastic stop from Ramos' powerful close-range attempt.

While Robles - who claimed to lose a contact lens in a collision with Mendy - may have been unable to prevent Madrid's left-back opening the scoring had he kept his cool, the goalkeeper came up with the goods twice in quick succession in stoppage time to secure a well-earned point.

Hazard still not hitting his stride

Injuries have contributed to Hazard having a stuttering start to his Madrid career, but the Belgium star looks a shadow of his former self at the moment.

A flash of brilliance was evident when he skipped in from the byline to hammer in a low strike early on, but after VAR had chalked the goal off, Hazard was left on the fringes of Madrid's play far too often.

What's next?

Madrid welcome Galatasaray to the Santiago Bernabeu in the Champions League on Wednesday before travelling to Eibar in LaLiga three days later. As for Betis, it is the small matter of the Seville derby next Sunday.

Diego Simeone insists his faith in Diego Costa is unwavering due to the striker's work rate, even as a missed penalty cost Atletico Madrid two points at Sevilla.

Atleti recovered from a first-half deficit to draw 1-1, thanks largely to the introduction of Costa and his nuisance factor from the bench at half-time.

The former Chelsea star had a goal disallowed shortly before Alvaro Morata equalised, but he then passed up the opportunity to clinch victory and send Simeone's men top of LaLiga.

Tomas Vaclik denied Costa from 12 yards, meaning he has still scored just twice in all competitions this season.

Simeone came to his player's defence, though, saying: "Diego is at his best physical moment, taking care of himself, training, working. He works but can't find the goal.

"When someone works like Diego, there are two options: either you are with Costa or not with Costa. If you give your all, like Costa, I trust him."

Sevilla likewise could have moved to LaLiga's summit with a victory, with Barcelona beaten at Levante earlier in the day, and Simeone believes Julen Lopetegui's side can be a threat this season.

"I see them doing very well. They always compete well," he said. "They have many players, a deep squad, which means they can make changes.

"They had two injured midfielders. Fernando did not play today. If they are consistent, they will compete."

However, midfielder Koke was frustrated Atleti were not able to beat Sevilla, believing their second-half performance – with Costa in the side – deserved to be rewarded.

"Especially in the second half, we did enough to win the game," he said. "There was a goal disallowed, we had a penalty, we created chances. We left two points on the field in such a complicated game.

"We have to continue working as we did in the second half. We recovered from the Sevilla goal and, in the second half, they had absolutely nothing. This is the standard – we have to keep working.

"We want victories because LaLiga is a bit strange, the big teams are not winning games, but we have to keep working."

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