Luis Suarez will undergo tests on his return to Barcelona after injuring his right calf during his side's shock 3-1 LaLiga defeat to Levante.

The striker had to be replaced shortly before half-time in Saturday's match and Barca will make checks on the 32-year-old to "determine the exact extent of the discomfort".

Suarez appeared to be troubled by a foul from Carlos Clerc midway through the first half and, having tried to play on, was replaced by Carles Perez just after Lionel Messi's penalty had put Barca in front.

He watched on as Ernesto Valverde's men fell apart in the second half, three goals in the space of seven minutes condemning them to a third away defeat of the league season and giving rivals Real Madrid the chance to move top if they defeat Real Betis.

The Uruguay international missed a month of action earlier in the season after injuring the same calf in another Barca defeat against Athletic Bilbao.

Suarez has scored six league goals since making his return to action on September 14 but could now face some further time out with matches against Slavia Prague and Celta Vigo to come before the next international break.

"It's always a problem when you have to change a player in the first half," Valverde said after the match.

"We would have preferred Luis to have been on the pitch but now is not the moment to start thinking about that. 

"We're hoping it's nothing serious, but it's a setback."

Diego Costa saw a penalty saved as Sevilla and Atletico Madrid each failed to capitalise on Barcelona's defeat earlier on Saturday, playing out a 1-1 draw in Diego Simeone's 300th game as a LaLiga coach.

Barca had collapsed at Levante and, with Real Madrid not in action until later in the day, the winner of this clash would top the table.

But Atleti - hailed as "one of the best five teams in the world" by Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui this week - failed to fire for 45 minutes and trailed to Franco Vazquez's header.

Costa arrived from the bench at half-time and Simeone's men started to turn the screw, equalising through Alvaro Morata.

Then Costa, who earlier saw a goal disallowed by the VAR, was denied by Tomas Vaclik with 18 minutes remaining as Atleti fell short of the three points that would take them to the summit.

Simeone had hinted at changes for this match and, after a midweek draw with Deportivo Alaves, he reverted to the XI that defeated Athletic Bilbao last week, with Morata preferred to Costa.

But chances were at a premium for both sides early on, before some uncharacteristically slack Atletico defending allowed Vazquez to nod the opener after 28 minutes.

Ever Banega delivered a free-kick from the right corner of the penalty area and Vazquez, allowed to drift into space in the middle of the box, sent a downward header beyond Jan Oblak, who got a hand to the ball and might have done better.

Costa's introduction at the interval appeared to have paid off after just 10 minutes of the second half as he towered above his marker to head into the net, yet VAR intervened as Angel Correa, supplying the cross, was marginally offside.

Sevilla were now on the back foot, though, and another move down the right soon led to the leveller as Santiago Arias - also a substitute - stood the ball up for Morata to nod in.

Luuk de Jong wastefully headed wide at the other end, before Costa was given the opportunity to seal a turnaround from 12 yards when Koke was clipped by Nemanja Gudelj as he headed away from goal on the edge of the area.

Vaclik produced an excellent stop from the firm spot-kick, however, and Sevilla held on, surviving in part thanks to a miraculous stoppage-time block from Jules Kounde on the goal line as Morata pounced on a rebound.

 

What does it mean? Atleti issues to iron out

Coming into this match, Simeone acknowledged he had not known his best XI up to this stage. That still appeared to be the case at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan. Atletico looked much better once Costa replaced Thomas Lemar, sending Correa out wide. An off-colour opening 45 minutes cost the visitors the chance to go top, although Costa's spot-kick would still have been enough.

Vaclik keeps Costa out

The twin threats of Costa and Morata were too much for Sevilla to handle, with the two men finding space in the area in quick succession for the offside goal and the equaliser that followed. But Vaclik stepped up when Costa looked to hit the net for the second time, protecting a precious point.

Oblak's aberration

As Simeone considers his options, the one man he would have expect to be able to rely on is Oblak. One of the most consistent, outstanding goalkeepers in world football, he should be disappointed with his failure to deal with Vazquez's header in a tight first half. It was the tale of two goalkeepers in Seville.

What's next?

A busy week sees Atletico travel to Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League before hosting Espanyol in LaLiga game 301 for Simeone. Sevilla play Dudelange in the Europa League ahead of their local derby at Real Betis.

Ernesto Valverde dismissed a question about whether he would resign as Barcelona boss after his side's shock defeat at the hands of Levante.

LaLiga leaders Barca went down 3-1 at Ciutat de Valencia on Saturday, three goals in seven second-half minutes proving decisive for the hosts after Lionel Messi's penalty before the break.

Barca's third loss in six top-flight away games this season means Real Madrid have the chance to go top of the table when they play Real Betis, while Sevilla will also climb above them if they beat Atletico Madrid.

The setback for Valverde's men ended an impressive seven-match winning run in all competitions, but the head coach still faced questions over his future after the match.

Asked if he was surprised by his players' performance or contemplating resignation, Valverde said: "No to both of those questions. I'm not thinking of resigning – only looking forward.

"Everything just collapsed. We didn't start the second half well and we weren't creating any danger.

"Then, although they weren't causing us too many problems, they put two goals past us in two minutes. The third goal after that really punished us.

"Our opponents play against us as if it's the biggest game of the year and so you need to be able to respond.

"We know what this result means and what it means to win at these grounds. You need to make a massive effort, but my team is used to that.

"They had a great second half and managed to beat us. We have to analyse what happened and ask ourselves why it did."

Sergio Busquets came on in the second half and struggled to put his finger on what had gone wrong, suggesting the margin of victory was not an accurate reflection of the match.

"There's no explanation," the midfielder said. "It was a very even game and we did the most difficult part by going ahead.

"But they landed a blow and it did us damage. They had a burst of 10 minutes and they play with a lot of people in attack. On one of the goals, we couldn't get the second ball.

"I think that the game was equal, but the result was excessive. We were on a good run before. There is a game in the Champions League soon and another in LaLiga."

Barcelona fell apart as Levante scored three times in seven second-half minutes to claim a dramatic 3-1 LaLiga victory.

Lionel Messi, who returned to the Argentina squad this week, made it six goals in his last five games with a first-half penalty that appeared to have leaders Barca on course to extend a seven-match winning streak in all competitions.

But after Luis Suarez went off injured, an astonishing spell saw Jose Campana, Borja Mayoral and Nemanja Radoja all score as the match was turned on its head.

Barca's defeat means Real Madrid, who face Real Betis later on Saturday, have the chance to go top of the table with a victory.

After a quiet start to the contest, Antoine Griezmann saw a right-footed effort saved by the outstretched leg of Levante keeper Aitor Fernandez, Messi's throughball having created the opportunity.

Barca's breakthrough arrived seven minutes before the break, a slick passing move ending when Arthur found Nelson Semedo, who was hacked down by Jorge Miramon in the box.

Messi stepped up and comfortably sent Fernandez the wrong way from 12 yards, finding the top-right corner.

He almost had a second with half-time approaching, only for a combination of Fernandez and Miramon to deny him from close range, while Barca were forced to replace an injured Suarez after the striker could not run off an earlier knock.

Levante did not produce a shot on target in the first hour, but levelled the match when a poor Gerard Pique clearance led to Mayoral and Jose Luis Morales combining to set up Campana, who confidently beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen from just inside the area.

Just two minutes later, Mayoral collected a pass from Campana and curled an excellent 20-yard strike beyond Ter Stegen, who got a hand on it.

An astonishing sequence concluded with Levante's third after 68 minutes, with Clement Lenglet's headed clearance volleyed in by Radoja from 18 yards, courtesy of a big deflection off substitute Sergio Busquets.

VAR ruled out a second goal for Messi due to offside against Griezmann in the build-up and that was as close as Barca came to producing a fightback, despite the arrival of Ansu Fati from the bench.
 

What does it mean? Another away loss brings Barca back down to earth

Barca had started to hit top gear during their seven-match winning streak but could now fall behind rivals Madrid.

They have suffered three league defeats in only six away games this season and will also hope the injury to Suarez does not make this collapse even more costly to their title hopes.


Campana crucial in comeback

Campana was superb for Levante, scoring the equaliser, setting up Mayoral's strike and creating three chances for his team-mates in an influential display.
 

Griezmann quiet in defeat

The injury to Suarez afforded Griezmann the chance to play more centrally, but he struggled to make an impact as his mixed start to life at Barca continued. 

He had a first-half chance saved and poorly found the side netting with another opening before being spared by the offside flag. He did not create a single chance for his team-mates either.


What's next? 

Barca look to bounce back when they host Slavia Prague in Champions League business on Tuesday before a return to LaLiga action against Celta Vigo on Saturday, a match which is also at Camp Nou. Levante, meanwhile, are away to Athletic Bilbao on November 10.

Cristiano Ronaldo's mother believes an unspecified football "mafia" could prevent the Juventus forward from winning a sixth Ballon d'Or because of his nationality.

Speaking at an event in Portugal, Dolores Aveiro claimed conspiratorial forces are the reason her highly decorated son has not further embellished his long list of achievements.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star earned global fame and adulation for his performances in the Premier League and LaLiga but slipped to second in the 2018 Ballon d'Or rankings while midway through his first Serie A campaign.

In September, he finished third in the voting for the title of The Best FIFA Men's Player, behind Lionel Messi and Virgil van Dijk.

Fellow five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi is the only other player to have claimed the prestigious award on more than three occasions.

"There is a mafia in football, that's the right word to describe it," Dolores Aveiro told Portuguese media.

"If you look at everything that's happened you will realise that it is because of the mafia.

"If Cristiano was Spanish or English, they would not do what they did to him, but since he is Portuguese and from Madeira, well, this happens."

Ronaldo, Juve's record signing, was named Serie A's Most Valuable Player at the end of the 2018-19 season and helped Portugal triumph in the Nations League.

The 34-year-old's mother expects those efforts will be enough for him to beat Barcelona captain Messi to a sixth Ballon d'Or when the 2019 winner is announced.

"I don't know if he will receive it, but I am confident and I think he deserves it," she said, despite fearing he will be the victim of bias.

"If we analyse what he did during the season, he deserves it."

A new striker in January is a priority at Manchester United and reports suggest a familiar face could make a sensational return to England.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has previously said the club will be doing business after Christmas, with a striker still required following the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez.

Marcus Rashford has scored three goals in his previous two matches, while Anthony Martial marked his return from injury with a goal against Norwich City last Sunday, but a surprising name could provide the answer to United's depth issues up top.

 

TOP STORY – MANCHESTER UNITED MAKE CONTACT WITH IBRAHIMOVIC

Manchester United have made contact with former striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, according to TuttoMercatoWeb.

Ibrahimovic scored 30 goals in MLS for LA Galaxy in 2019, but they were eliminated from the post-season after a 5-3 defeat to cross-town rivals LAFC in the Western Conference semi-finals last weekend.

Interest in the former Barcelona, Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain striker has increased since the end of LA Galaxy's season with the Swede still believing he can contribute at the highest level.

The 38-year-old is currently a free agent and scored 29 goals at Old Trafford in a brief spell with the club previously.

ROUND-UP

- One player who may create funds for Manchester United's January business is defender Chris Smalling, but Corriere dello Sport claim the Red Devils want double the €10 million price Roma are expecting to pay for him. 

- AS are reporting Edinson Cavani is weighing up his future at Paris Saint-Germain with Atletico Madrid and Inter Miami keeping tabs on the Uruguayan.

Stefano Sensi is currently on-loan at Inter Milan from Sassuolo, but Sport claim Sensi's agent is in Barcelona as speculation of a move to the Spanish champions grows.

- The Daily Mail claims Wolves will turn to Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes in January as they seek reinforcements to cover the injured Willy Boly.

- Chelsea are interested in signing Hertha Berlin winger Javairo Dilrosun when their transfer ban expires, according to Calciomercato.

- L'Equipe say Nantes are among several clubs showing interest in free agent forward Hatem Ben Arfa.

Another football season is in full swing and a new edition of Football Manager is right around the corner following its beta release on Thursday.

The classic football management simulator is set for full release on November 19, but you can get early access to the beta version – which may contain bugs and issues developers Sports Interactive still need to fix – if you pre-purchase the game.

Therefore, it's time to start thinking about which club you might want to take the reins of. However, with playable leagues in over 50 countries, such a decision can often feel a little daunting.

Do you fancy yourself as a miracle worker who can take a tiny club to the Champions League final? Want to test yourself with a newly promoted side in a top league? Or how about managing an established club amid a rebuild?

Whichever's your preference, we've identified six clubs we can't wait to leave our mark on...


Norwich City - Premier League

Football Manager and developing young players go hand-in-hand, so Norwich City will surely be the first port of call for many. With Emi Buendia, Todd Cantwell, Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis and Ben Godfrey, the Canaries have one of the strongest sets of young players in the Premier League, having returned after three years in the Championship. They've also attracted significant praise for their stylish brand of football under Daniel Farke over the past couple of years, something you might aim to emulate. Avoiding relegation will be the target, but their talent gives them a real platform to build on.


Stuttgart - 2.Bundesliga

A former Bundesliga-winning outfit that have fallen on hard times, Stuttgart suffered relegation to the second tier for the second time in four seasons in 2018-19. Last time, they bounced back at the first attempt - and they have the talent to do so again, given they managed to keep the likes of Santiago Ascacibar and Nicolas Gonzalez. The German club have a strong fanbase, massive stadium, history and a well-regarded academy. If you can steer them back on track, you could potentially awaken a sleeping giant.
 

Salford City - League Two

Backed by the wealthy Peter Lim and the Class of '92 crew and into the Football League for the first time in their history, Salford City represent an intriguing option in Football Manager 2020, particularly if you like the idea of taking a club from the lower leagues to the top but want a little helping hand at the start. There are few – if any – small clubs in England with comparable potential.


Paris FC - Ligue 2

That's right, France's capital has another club. Formed due to a split from Paris-Saint Germain in the early 1970s, Paris FC's history is rather less glamorous than their world-famous, Qatar-backed neighbours. They have yet to return to the top flight since their relegation in 1978-79, but last season's fourth-placed finish in Ligue 2 showed promise, even if they lost to Lens in the promotion play-offs. With €7million being poured into their facilities and the fact they're located in a city drowning in young talent, it might be a risky job to take but the rewards could be glorious. Their position at the foot of the table with eight points from 12 games in real life proves you might have your work cut out, however.
 

Sevilla - LaLiga

Revered sporting director Monchi is back at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan and, after two years of relative underachievement in his absence, Sevilla's squad has been truly ripped up. Thirteen new players – including highly rated Jules Kounde and Rony Lopes – have arrived and eight departed on permanent deals. Several others left on loan, yet it's still a squad bursting at the seams, meaning there's potential to build up a decent budget as well. European football should ensure you still attract decent additions, while the club's academy is well-regarded. But with so much upheaval, is Champions League football a bridge too far? Because that'll be your target.


FC Andorra - Segunda B3

Although they should be competing in Spain's Tercera Division, FC Andorra – yes, from the country of the same name, as opposed to Spain – find themselves in Segunda B for the first time since the 1990s. Bought by Gerard Pique last December, the club paid a substantial fee to take the place of Reus in the third tier after they were relegated two divisions for failing to pay player wages. Getting out of Segunda B is a notoriously arduous task given there are only four promotion spots between 80 teams in four groups of 20, but defying such odds might be the challenge some desire.

Ousmane Dembele has been omitted from Barcelona's squad for Saturday's LaLiga meeting with Levante, despite being available following a two-match suspension.

The France international was sent off in the 4-0 victory against Sevilla on October 6 following a confrontation with referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz, forcing him to miss the league wins against Eibar and Real Valladolid.

He was free to be involved in this weekend's trip to Estadi Ciutat de Valencia, but coach Ernesto Valverde has left him out of his 19-man squad.

It is the latest in a long line of setbacks for Dembele, who missed a month of action earlier in the campaign due to a hamstring problem.

Samuel Umtiti is also not part of Barcelona's travelling group, having only returned to full training on Friday.

However, Valverde has recalled Arthur and Junior Firpo following the 5-1 win over Real Valladolid on Tuesday.

Atletico Madrid are one of the five best teams in the world, according to Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui.

Sevilla and Atletico sit level on 20 points – a total matched by Granada and two fewer than LaLiga leaders Barcelona – ahead of their meeting at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Saturday.

Diego Simeone's side have won just four of their previous 11 matches in all competitions and head into this weekend’s fixture off the back of a 1-1 draw at Deportivo Alaves.

Lopetegui has no doubt about Atleti's quality, though, and expects them to pose the same challenge they always do.

"Atletico Madrid are one of the five best teams in the world," the Sevilla boss told a pre-match news conference on Friday.

"I expect a very tough game, as always against Atletico. It will be very complex because of the quality and intensity they put into everything they do.

"Atleti can do many different things and when they press, they do it very well.

"Simeone's work is beyond doubt. It is unthinkable to be at the level he has been at, and for this length of time. He is doing a fantastic job."

Simeone suggested he could make changes to his Atletico set-up based upon what he has seen from his team in recent weeks.

"We have a broader picture now of what each player gives us," said Simeone. "The coach ends up executing things based on what the on-field actions say.

"We can't move away from what the pitch shows. The on-pitch matters show things that we have to follow. It's what the team needs.

"We're at a stage where we need to keep improving based on games, work, training and competition. That shows you the reality."

Antonio Conte is not concerned about speculation linking Lautaro Martinez with Barcelona and has challenged the Inter forward to take his game to the next level.

Reports in Spain have suggested Barcelona are eyeing the Argentina international as a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez, while Manchester United are also rumoured to be interested in the player.

Martinez scored for Inter in their 2-1 Champions League loss at Camp Nou last month and already has seven goals in all competitions this term, striking up an excellent partnership with Romelu Lukaku.

Yet despite the speculation, Conte has told the 22-year-old to continue working hard if he wants to maximise his obvious potential.

"We look to the present to build the future," Conte said at his pre-match news conference ahead of Saturday's trip to Bologna.

"He is working well and has made good progress. He can still make further progress because he is still only 22 years old.

"He has to continue to work hard. Much of the transfer talk comes from that and it cannot be seen as a problem at this moment - there are bigger concerns.

"He must try to be more selfish when he has a chance to score. It's all part of his growth process. I want to improve all of my players.

While Martinez has thrived under the coaching of Conte, team-mate Valentino Lazaro has struggled since arriving from Hertha Berlin in a €22million deal during the close season.

Amid talk that Inter are looking to bring in a new right-sided player, Conte has vowed to give the Austria international a chance to justify his price tag.

"He has been used seven times this season and for his national side he is very promising," he said. "At Hertha there is less pressure than he has found in Milan. 

"He is working hard and we will give him the opportunities to start games. It was a big investment for him."

Inter have won eight of their opening 10 league matches - equalling their best Serie A return at this stage - but are still one point behind champions Juventus.

The Bianconeri's period of dominance started with Conte at the helm, but the Italian coach has played down comparisons between his first seasons at Juve and his early work at Inter.

"There is an important difference - we did not have cup competitions in the first year at Juve," he said. "We could dedicate ourselves, heart and soul, to the league. We played in the league, and then the league again.

"It is not the same thing here - the expenditure is very high. One thing that I am sure of, here we also have to play a thousand miles per hour. If we take our foot off the accelerator, it will be difficult to win games.

"We must sweat for the victory. That is beyond doubt and must be clear to all the players."

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde does not see Lionel Messi's recall to the Argentina national team as a setback to the LaLiga giants.

Messi was banned and fined $50,000 by CONMEBOL in August for accusing the governing body of corruption in the wake of Argentina's Copa America semi-final defeat to hosts Brazil.

The Barca talisman has missed Argentina's past four matches – all friendlies – as a result, but he was named in their latest squad on Thursday for upcoming matches against Brazil and Uruguay.

Those games will be played this month in Saudi Arabia and Israel, respectively.

Messi has suffered with injury problems this term, leading to some suggesting his return to the Argentina set-up could be a negative development for Barcelona.

Although Valverde's tone seemed to a suggest a hint of frustration, he refused to outright call Messi's call-up a problem.

"Look, we know that if Messi is active, there's a good chance he gets called up to the national team," Valverde told reporters on Friday.

"He hasn't been [in the Argentina squad] because of suspension, but now that's over it's normal for him to be back for Argentina.

"It's something we accept, he accepts. I don't think it's a setback as such."

Defender Samuel Umtiti has endured a wretched time with injuries over the past 18 months, playing just 15 LaLiga matches since the start of last season.

His solitary outing this term against Eibar last month was followed by another knee injury, though Valverde hinted he could potentially feature at Levante on Saturday.

"Let's see how he does in training today [Friday]," Valverde said. "He's had fitness issues hanging over from last year, that's why he's not playing regularly.

"Hopefully we can get this sorted once and for all so he can play more regularly, but the other thing is competition for places. Lenglet is playing very well.

"He [Lenglet] is an absolutely reliable player, very professional in what he does. He's really settling into his position.

"Shortly after arriving last season, he covered extremely well for Samuel and the French team is also aware of how well he is playing."

Zinedine Zidane insists he is not obliged to recall Gareth Bale to the Real Madrid team as soon as possible in order to convince him to stay at the club.

The Wales star's future has again come into doubt after he travelled to London this week reportedly to meet with his agent, Jonathan Barnett.

Speaking after the 5-0 win over Leganes on Wednesday, Zidane stressed he still has a good working relationship with Bale, who has not played for Madrid since October 5 after suffering a knock on international duty.

Zidane says the forward is now back training with the Madrid squad but does not agree he must rush Bale back into action in order to show the player that he has a future at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"The subject is in the past. He is here and he's on the pitch, bit by bit, training," Zidane told reporters on Friday ahead of the LaLiga clash with Real Betis.

"We're with him in order for him to get back in the team. Nothing more.

"I don't have to do anything. I don't have to convince him about anything because he's here. He's training, he's still not available, but he's here at Real Madrid."

While Bale's future remains unclear, Madrid continue to be linked with a possible move for Paul Pogba, who was tipped to move to the Spanish capital in the previous transfer window.

With the France midfielder having stayed at United while Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro have all had injuries this season, Federico Valverde has taken his opportunity to impress at the heart of Zidane's side.

However, the Madrid boss does not consider Valverde to be a player in exactly the same mould as Pogba.

"I don't look at him like that. He's a very young player, who has a lot of future and present. He's doing well," Zidane said.

"I'm not surprised by him or anyone else, either. He's an important player in the squad. There are 25 first-team players and that's that."

The 5-0 win over Leganes was another match in which Eden Hazard was unable to add to his solitary Madrid goal since his move from Chelsea before the start of the season.

But Zidane has dismissed the notion that the Belgium star is "shy" when it comes to going for goal.

"I don't think he's shy," Zidane said. "He sees things many others don't see, so sometimes he tries the pass rather than the shot.

"Everyone wants to see Hazard scoring goals. He looks better every day."

Andres Iniesta wonders where Neymar would fit into Barcelona's team, while he thinks it would be "complicated" for them to appoint Jose Mourinho as coach.

Neymar was in the close season heavily linked with a return to Barca, whom he left for Paris Saint-German in a world-record €222million move in August 2017.

The Catalan giants remained interested in re-signing the Brazil international despite shelling out €120m to bring Antoine Griezmann in from Atletico Madrid.

While a move for Neymar did not materialise, the 27-year-old is reportedly still a target for Barca. However, club great Iniesta struggles to see how they would line up if he returned.

"I don't know how the negotiations went or if Ney will arrive in the future, but he'll be an important piece," Iniesta told Marca.

"I don't know how they'd fit so many high-level players together."

Speculation remains over the future of Ernesto Valverde, who signed a contract for the 2019-20 season prior to Barca's Champions League semi-final capitulation against Liverpool and Copa del Rey final defeat to Valencia.

While Mourinho has been touted for a return to Real Madrid as a successor to Zinedine Zidane, the suggestion the Portuguese could make a Camp Nou comeback, having initially worked as a translator under Bobby Robson, is not something Iniesta anticipates coming to fruition.

He said: "I'm not in the know on whether Mourinho could go to Madrid or not. To Barca, I see it as complicated."

Lionel Messi played a starring role in Barca's 5-0 victory over Real Valladolid on Tuesday.

The Argentina superstar has stated he does not want to sign a "lifetime contract" with the club and has a clause in his current deal that enables him to leave at the end of the season if he desires.

Asked if Messi's exit would see Barca encounter the same difficulties Madrid did following Cristiano Ronaldo's departure, Iniesta said: "It'll be difficult.

"But the clubs are above the players or coaches. That's how it is. Obviously, it'll be a shame, but it'll come."

Barcelona are planning for life after Luis Suarez.

With Suarez now aged 32, the clock is ticking on his career at Camp Nou.

Barca are identifying potential replacements and have their sights on an Argentina international setting Serie A and Europe alight.

 

TOP STORY – MARTINEZ INTERESTS BARCA

LaLiga champions Barcelona are interested in Inter star Lautaro Martinez, reports Mundo Deportivo.

Ernesto Valverde's Barca are looking for a long-term replacement for Uruguay forward Luis Suarez, who turns 33 in January. 

And the front page of Friday's newspaper says Argentina international Martinez fits the bill for Barca amid reported interest from Manchester United.

 

ROUND-UP

Roma have opened talks with Manchester United about signing Chris Smalling permanently, according to the Express. Smalling is on loan from United and the English defender scored his first goal for Roma during the week. The Red Devils are reportedly seeking £17.2million (€20m).

- Remaining at Old Trafford and Sport Italia claims Paul Pogba was close to joining Paris Saint-Germain during the previous transfer window. Pogba was heavily linked to LaLiga giants Real Madrid and former club Juventus .

- Tuttosport says Juventus are ready to make another attempt to sign Real Madrid midfielder Isco. The Spain international has struggled for regular game time and Madrid are reportedly holding out for €70m. The Italian champions have also been linked to Manchester United teenager Tahith Chong, who is out of contract at the end of the season, via the Daily Mail.

- Barcelona's Arturo Vidal is ready to snub the Chinese Super League in favour for a move to Inter, says InterNews. Vidal continues to be heavily linked to a reunion with former Juve boss Antonio Conte at Inter, while Chinese giants Shanghai SIPG are reportedly interested.

United could be set for a raid on Juve. Tuttosport claims the Old Lady will allow Emre Can to leave in January as United, Bayern Munich and PSG eye the Germany international.

- According to the Daily Mail, former Manchester United and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is the front-runner to replace Unai Emery at Arsenal. Emery is under mounting pressure in London.

Gerard Pique insists Barcelona stars Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann have a perfectly normal relationship.

Earlier this month, new signing Griezmann admitted to finding it "difficult" to connect with Barca's superstar captain as neither of them are naturally big talkers.

It had been rumoured Messi, who hoped for Neymar's return, objected to the club's pursuit of the France international.

Messi branded that a "lie" and insisted he has no problem with Griezmann, a claim supported by Pique.

The experienced centre-back told Spanish broadcaster Cadena SER the pair are on "very good" terms.

"Here, we magnify everything very much," Pique said.

"Leo and Grizi get along, the same as Leo and [Ousmane] Dembele get along, or Leo with Pedro or [David] Villa. It's good. With Luis [Suarez and Messi], they are almost like brothers.

"Just because he doesn't get along [with Griezmann] like he does with Luis doesn't mean they get along badly."

Messi and Suarez starred for Barca in their last outing, a comprehensive 5-1 win over Real Valladolid.

The Spanish champions sit top of LaLiga, a point ahead of Real Madrid, but there will no showdown between the bitter rivals until December 18 following the postponement of the season's first Clasico.

The decision to move the match, originally scheduled to be played at Camp Nou on October 26, was made amid civil unrest and protests in Catalonia.

Barcelona-born Pique believes that was a mistake.

"My opinion is that it was not necessary," he said.

"It magnified a problem that wasn't there. Espanyol played Villarreal that week and nothing happened. I think that for the league and for the clubs it was not the best.

"I think the league, as a competition, and the clubs have to take the bull by the horns and ensure that the show goes on."

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