Real Madrid striker Luka Jovic has been released from international duty after sustaining an unspecified injury with Serbia.

Jovic, 21, has not had the smoothest of starts to life at Madrid and another injury could further disrupt the season for the former Eintracht Frankfurt star.

Jovic came off the bench in Saturday's 4-2 home defeat by Portugal, with the Serbian Football Federation (FSS) confirming his injury blow a day later.

Specifics relating to the injury were not revealed, with the FSS saying in a statement that Jovic exacerbated an unspecified issue he suffered before joining up with the national team.

Jovic missed a chunk of pre-season with an ankle knock, though it is unclear if the latest problem is connected.

He will not feature in Tuesday's trip to Luxembourg in Euro 2020 qualifying, while he will likely be considered a doubt for Madrid's visit of Levante four days later.

Samuel Umtiti has left France's training base and will miss Tuesday's Euro 2020 qualifier against Andorra after suffering a foot injury.

The Barcelona centre-back has endured a difficult couple of years with injuries and is set for another spell on the sidelines with a haematoma in his right foot.

France confirmed prior to Saturday's 4-1 win over Albania that Umtiti was suffering with the injury, ruling him out of the contest.

They announced on Sunday the injury will also prevent him featuring against Andorra, meaning he has returned to Barcelona.

Umtiti lost his place in the Barca starting XI last term during two spells out with knee injuries – France colleague Clement Lenglet taking advantage and becoming Gerard Pique's usual partner.

Although France did not confirm how long they expect Umtiti to be sidelined for, he will likely be a doubt for Barca's visit of Valencia on Saturday.

Starting against Valencia was unlikely anyway, however, given Umtiti has been an unused substitute in Barca's three LaLiga games this season.

Virgil van Dijk is set to remain with Liverpool until the end of 2025.

Netherlands international Van Dijk, 28, headed to Anfield from Southampton for a reported £75million in January 2018, signing a deal until 2023.

But the superstar centre-back is rumoured to be ready to recommit to the reigning European champions.

 

TOP STORY – VAN DIJK AGREES SIX-YEAR LIVERPOOL DEAL

Van Dijk has agreed a new contract with Liverpool, according to the Mirror.

The defender will earn close to £200,000 per week with his new deal, up from his current £125,000 per week wages, the report says.

It comes just a month after Van Dijk lost his title as the world's most expensive defender when Manchester United signed Harry Maguire from Leicester City for a reported £80m.

ROUND-UP

- David de Gea could be set to leave Manchester United. Coming out of contract at the end of the season, the goalkeeper has told friends he is willing to turn down a deal from the Premier League club, according to The Sun. The Express reports Serie A giants Juventus want to sign De Gea on a free transfer at the end of the season.

- Paulo Dybala almost left Juventus in the close season and the playmaker is set to be at the centre of talk again in January. Paris Saint-Germain want to beat Tottenham to the signing of Dybala when the transfer window reopens, according to the Express.

- Edwin van der Sar could be set for a return to Old Trafford. The Mirror reports the former Netherlands goalkeeper and Ajax chief executive is on Manchester United's list as they search for a director of football.

- Staying at Old Trafford, Manchester United's stars are happy Alexis Sanchez has left on loan to Inter, according to The Sun.

- After the emergence of 16-year-old forward Ansu Fati, Barcelona have set up a plan to look after the teenager. Sport reports the LaLiga champions consider Fati a first-team player and want to protect him as he gains plenty of attention.

Barcelona thrashed Real Madrid's new women's team 9-1 in the first female Clasico between the rivals, Jenni Hermoso hitting a hat-trick.

CD Tacon, taken over by Madrid in a reported €500,000 deal in June, were completely outplayed at the newly opened Estadi Johan Cruyff on Saturday.

Barca led 4-0 at the break having opened the scoring in the eighth minute through Alexia Putellas.

She turned provider for Aitana Bonmati before a Lucia Suarez own goal made it 3-0, with Mariona also on target from close range before half-time.

Tacon, who train at Madrid's facilities and wear the club's famous white strip, grabbed a goal back through Jessica Martinez.

But Bonmati's second restored Barcelona's four-goal cushion and Norway star Caroline Graham Hansen, a recent Barca signing, added their sixth.

Hermoso, a second-half substitute, swiftly made it 7-1 to add to the humiliation and the goals kept coming, with Bonmati setting up the Spain attacker again.

And in added time Hermoso claimed the matchball with a curling finish, completing the Clasico rout.

With Aymeric Laporte on the sidelines, Manchester City are looking for reinforcements.

Laporte's knee injury has left City with John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi as their only recognised centre-backs.

Could a star defender from Serie A be the answer in January?

 

TOP STORY – CITY LOOK TO SKRINIAR

Pep Guardiola wants defensive reinforcements in January and Manchester City are set to target Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar, according to CalcioMercato.

Aymeric Laporte is set for a spell on the sidelines with a knee injury, depleting City's options as they eye a third consecutive Premier League title.

Inter star Skriniar has emerged as an option for City, though the Italian side are not keen on losing the 24-year-old – who was linked to Manchester United in the off-season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport reports Real Madrid will try to sign Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe at the end of the season. Madrid were linked with Neymar prior to the transfer deadline but now appear set to target his PSG team-mate.

- According to Aksam, Liverpool will monitor the form of Trabzonspor goalkeeper Ugurcan Cakir throughout the season.

- Tuttomercatoweb says Napoli are ready to re-sign Arkadiusz Milik, Piotr Zielinski and Nikola Maksimovic, while a contract extension for Gianluigi Donnarumma is AC Milan's priority.

- Former AC Milan forward Jeremy Menez wants to return to Serie A via Sampdoria, according to CalcioMercato. The 32-year-old former France international is a free agent after leaving Mexican side Club America.

- Serie A champions Juventus are eyeing a double swoop for Tottenham stars Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld, says the Daily Mail. Eriksen and Alderweireld are set to become free agents at the end of the season and Inter are also reportedly monitoring the situation.

- Valencia are determined to tie down Carlos Soler and Ferran Torres to new deals, reports SuperDeportes.

Former Barcelona and Inter star Samuel Eto'o has seemingly called time on his illustrious career in a message via social media.

Eto'o – a three-time Champions League winner among other honours – last played for Qatari outfit Qatar SC in 2018-19.

And the 38-year-old ex-Cameroon striker appears set for life after football following Friday's Instagram post.

"THE END, TOWARDS A NEW CHALLENGE," Eto'o wrote.

"Thank you all big love... adrenaline."

Eto'o enjoyed a trophy-laden career after emerging from Real Madrid's youth team in 1997 – making three appearances for the Spanish giants.

He won the Champions League twice with Barcelona and again during his time at Inter, where Eto'o was part of the club's 2009-10 treble-winning side.

In total, Eto'o celebrated 15 club titles – including three LaLiga trophies – following spells with Mallorca, Barca, Inter, Anzhi Makhachkala, Chelsea, Everton, Sampdoria, Antalyaspor, Konyaspor and Qatar SC.

Eto'o earned 118 caps for Cameroon as he became the country's all-time leading scorer with 56 goals, while winning two African Cup of Nations titles and gold at the 2000 Olympic Games.

Barcelona players have no input into transfers and were not against the signing of Antoine Griezmann, according to club president Josep Maria Bartomeu. 

Reports in Spain claimed Ernesto Valverde's squad opposed the pursuit of France international Griezmann, who moved to Camp Nou from Atletico Madrid for €120million in July.

The LaLiga champions almost secured his signature 12 months earlier, but the forward ultimately chose to spend a fifth season at Atletico.

That decision was said to have upset Barca's senior players, including Lionel Messi, who reportedly favoured the return of former team-mate Neymar.

"The dressing room did not reject us signing Griezmann," Bartomeu told Barca TV.

"The players don't give their opinions on signings, it is the technical team who decide."

Barca ramped up their interest in Neymar after capturing Griezmann but were unable to come to terms with Paris Saint-Germain before the transfer window closed on September 2.

Another target, Matthijs de Ligt, opted to join Juventus, yet Bartomeu insists head coach Valverde has the tools at his disposal to forge a highly successful campaign.

"This squad is more competitive than last season's," he said.

"It's a small squad, but very competitive. Ernesto Valverde accepts the level of demand and I am expecting a lot from this season.

"De Ligt was one of our targets, but he decided not to come to Barca."

Lionel Messi has the option to leave Barcelona for free at the end of the season, but Josep Maria Bartomeu expects the club's talisman to stay.

Messi signed his latest contract in 2017, with the deal running until the end of the 2020-21 campaign.

However, reports in newspaper El Pais suggested the 32-year-old would be able to move away from Camp Nou on a free transfer in 2020.

Club president Bartomeu has now confirmed those reports, though he insisted Barcelona are not worried Messi will take up the option to leave, revealing Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Carles Puyol all had similar clauses.

"Messi has a contract that we signed two years ago and it runs for four years," Bartomeu told Barcelona's website.

"Before the last season, 2020-21, he can leave Barcelona, retire from football or play where he likes.

"Iniesta, Xavi and Puyol also had those clauses. For those players and Leo Messi, we don't need to worry.

"I doubt he'd want to play for another club, but he has earned liberty over his future. He's a big Barca fan and I have no doubt he'll want to continue until 2021 and we hope another year too."

Messi sustained an injury during pre-season and is yet to make an appearance this term, with Barcelona having gained just four points from their opening three LaLiga fixtures.

Gareth Southgate believes more English players will follow the example of Jadon Sancho and Kieran Trippier in moving abroad to European leagues.

Sancho left Manchester City to join Borussia Dortmund in 2017, and has since become a star in the Bundesliga.

Trippier, meanwhile, joined LaLiga heavyweights Atletico Madrid in the close season, after he was deemed surplus to requirements at Tottenham.

There has been an uptick in the amount of English players moving abroad to further their development in recent seasons, and Southgate has no doubt the success Sancho in particular has achieved in Germany will continue to inspire England hopefuls in testing themselves across the continent.

"I think it is brilliant for the perspective of playing out of the country, it is a brilliant life experience for Jadon and Kieran," Southgate told a news conference ahead of England's Euro 2020 qualifier with Bulgaria.

"I don't see a negative, it clearly is not harming their chances with us and we monitor players very closely.

"There are players who have played in France, Germany, the Netherlands such as Mason Mount, so it would become more apparent young people from England are more prepared to travel, whatever happens politically.

"They are different styles, Kieran is playing for one of the most successful teams and coaches in European football and Jadon is playing in front of 80,000 people at Dortmund.

"It is definitely a positive and I am certain more players will follow their path."

Sancho scored 12 Bundesliga goals last season and made his England debut in October, and striker Marcus Rashford has been thrilled to see the 19-year-old – along with other youngsters such as Mount and James Maddison – adapt swiftly to the squad.

"It has been brilliant, the [new faces] seem to fit right in," Rashford, who at 21 has 32 caps to his name, told the news conference.

"Since Gareth has come in, the younger players have trained the same as the main squad and they fit in seamlessly. The more we get coming in the better."

Gerard Pique has confirmed the existence of a clause in Lionel Messi's contract that enables the Barcelona captain to leave on a free at the end of each season – although it does not worry the defender.

Spanish newspaper El Pais first reported on the presence of a yearly exit option in the lucrative four-year deal the Argentina superstar signed in 2017.

The clause is said to have come into effect when five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi turned 32 in June.

It purportedly grants him the power to become a free agent on June 30 every year, not that centre-back Pique is concerned about losing his long-time team-mate.

"It's something I already knew about," Pique told Cadena SER.

"We know Leo's commitment to Barca and it doesn't worry me at all. He has earned the right to be able to decide his future."

Messi has spent his entire career at Barca and was reportedly at the forefront of the Spanish champions' decision to pursue former player Neymar during the close season.

The Brazil international ended up staying at Paris Saint-Germain as the clubs apparently failed to reach an agreement before the transfer window closed on September 2.

Pique spoke to the wantaway Neymar following the deadline and told him not to give up hope on a future return to Camp Nou.

"There has been a lot of drama, but you have to turn the page," the ex-Spain international said.

"The conclusion to be drawn is that perhaps the transfer market lasting until the third week of the league season is nonsense.

"I talked to him and I said I hope he does very well this season and that you never know. Football gives you a chance every year."

Lionel Messi will get to decide his Barcelona future, regardless of when the star is contracted until.

Messi, 32, re-signed with the LaLiga champions two years ago, extending his contract until 2021.

But such extensions may not matter when it comes to arguably the world's best player.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI CAN LEAVE BARCELONA AT THE END OF ANY SEASON

Messi can choose to leave Barcelona at the conclusion of any campaign regardless of his contract, according to El Pais.

The Argentina superstar made his debut for the club in late 2004, and his future is seemingly in his own hands.

It remains to be seen when, or if, Messi decides to depart Camp Nou.

ROUND-UP

- Philippe Coutinho eventually left Barcelona for Bayern Munich on loan, but it could have been different for the playmaker. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola rejected the chance to sign the 27-year-old, according to Marca.

- Left out of Juventus' Champions League squad, Mario Mandzukic is eyeing a January exit, according to Calciomercato.com. The striker was heavily linked with a move to Manchester United during the transfer window.

- Staying in Turin, Juventus could have signed Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng in the close season. Calciomercato.com reports Maurizio Sarri rejected a move for the centre-back.

- Ousmane Dembele was reportedly wanted by Paris Saint-Germain while they were in talks with Barcelona over a move for Neymar. But the attacker refused to leave because he is at his dream club at Barcelona, according to L'Equipe.

- Former Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio is reportedly in talks with Monaco, but the 55-time Italy international turned down a move to Scottish giants Rangers, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Left out of the England squad, Manchester City defender Kyle Walker is worried he has no international future under Gareth Southgate, the Daily Star reports.

Barcelona's iconic defender Carles Puyol is the toughest opponent Roberto Soldado has gone up against during his time in LaLiga.

Former Valencia and Tottenham striker Soldado sealed a return to Spain's top flight in July, signing with newly promoted Granada following two seasons at Fenerbahce.

Soldado came through the ranks at Real Madrid, spending time at Osasuna and Getafe before excelling for Valencia, later joining Villarreal after a difficult two-season spell at Spurs.

The 34-year-old singled out Barca and Spain great Puyol, who retired in 2014, as the most difficult match-up he has faced – even going so far as to describe their contests as a “war”.

"I would say Puyol is the one who has made me suffer the most," Soldado said, courtesy of LaLiga.

"I think it was like war with Puyol. He was the most aggressive defender there was, the most heavy-handed.

"Then he was the one who complained the most. But, yes, there was a nice rivalry there and maybe he's the one who has given me the toughest battles."

Though Soldado struggled to find form at Tottenham, scoring just seven Premier League goals for the capital club, he believes his time in the England was crucial in making him a more rounded forward.

"With the passing of the years, my spell in England changed the way I played," Soldado said.

"Before maybe I was a player who waited a lot in the box, who didn't get involved so much and now maybe, after going to England, you change that a little.

"I got more involved. But I know [Granada] have signed me to score goals and I'm going to do everything I can to score as many as possible.

"I'm delighted to be back in the best league, especially after two years in an inferior league to this one.

"The first two weeks I was here I did find it a little hard to keep up with the pace of training. The pace of training is higher here than in Turkey. But I think I've adapted well, I think I'm going to perform at a high level and I'm going to give everything I've got for my team."

Soldado also revealed some strict pre-match superstitions.

"I always start to get change with my right side, I step onto the pitch with my right foot, I jump twice before going on," he said.

"They're habits or obsessions that make you feel confident when you do them, even if they don't make a difference."

Gareth Bale feels he has been made a scapegoat at Real Madrid and is eager to reach an amicable conclusion with the club over his future.

The 30-year-old came close to leaving the Santiago Bernabeu for Chinese club Jiangsu Suning during the transfer window after being told by boss Zinedine Zidane he was free to leave.

Madrid's board reportedly blocked his exit at the last minute, however, and Bale has started all three LaLiga matches this term.

Bale, under contract for another three years, believes he has been unfairly targeted during a period of upheaval for the Spanish giants and says he is "not playing happy".

"I understand I was made more of a scapegoat than most - I take it with a pinch of salt even though maybe it's not all fully fair," he told Sky Sports.

"Towards the end of last season was difficult, there is no denying that, not just for me but for the team.

"I wouldn't say I'm playing happy, but I'm playing. When I'm playing I am professional and I am always giving all I can, whether that be for club or country.

"I'm sure there'll be plenty more turbulence, to be honest. I suppose it is something you will have to speak to Real Madrid about and it's between me and them, and we will have to come to some sort of conclusion."

Bale has started the new season in solid fashion with two goals and an assist in three LaLiga matches, including a brace in Sunday's 2-2 draw at Villarreal before being sent off for two quickfire yellow cards.

The winger, who is in line to start Wales' crucial Euro 2020 qualifier with Azerbaijan on Friday, dismissed the notion it has been the most difficult period of his career.

"Coming back to pre-season, I just kept my head down and I know there was a lot of talk, with people saying the good, bad, or whatever they wanted," he said.

"It wasn't the worst time of my career. It has been not ideal, but I know how to deal with it and it's about keeping your head down.

"You get rewarded with the work you put in and I've started the season well and did a good pre-season, even if that hasn't been the case with the number of games.

"Things in football can turn quickly and it is just a matter of time."

Neymar will retire at Paris Saint-Germain unless his salary and asking price are lowered, according to LaLiga president Javier Tebas.

The Brazil forward was strongly linked with a return to LaLiga before the closure of the transfer window on Monday, with both former club Barcelona and Real Madrid said to be interested.

Tebas, though, reiterated his previous stance that the 27-year-old's return to LaLiga is not required for Spanish football and talked down the chances of Neymar finding a new club if his wage demands remain the same.

"It is always important to have good assets to increase [LaLiga's] value, but he is not essential," Tebas said at the Soccerex Europe congress in Lisbon.

"If Neymar comes, good. If Neymar doesn't come, I don't see it as essential, because we continue to grow."

Barca were reportedly unwilling to meet the Ligue 1 champions' valuation for Neymar, who made the switch two years ago in a record €222million deal and has three years to run on his PSG contract.

"The problem of not coming back now [to Barcelona] has to do with his own departure for PSG," Tebas said. "It was an off-market transfer, it was only possible to happen with 'traps' to increase sponsorships. 

"When you do it out of the market, it is impossible to sell again at this price. In view of the market, Neymar will retire at PSG unless he lowers his salary and also his PSG claims."

Neymar has not featured for PSG since May due to injury concerns and doubts over his future.

Toni Kroos says he could give up Germany duty after next year's European Championships.

The Real Madrid midfielder was one of the key players as Germany won the World Cup in 2014.

But Joachim Low's men have failed to follow up that success, losing to France in the Euro 2016 semi-finals and seeing their World Cup defence end early in Russia.

Kroos, 29, is already thinking about whether Euro 2020 could be his final international competition.

"After the tournament it will be a good moment to think about it," Kroos told a news conference.

"I will not kill myself if I end my career without having won a European Championship."

Kroos and Germany continue their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign at home to Netherlands in Group C on Friday.

Low, whose side have a 100 per cent record after three games, will be without Kroos' fellow midfielder Leon Goretzka.

The Bayern Munich midfielder has left the Germany camp early due to a thigh injury.

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