Barcelona's appeal to have Ousmane Dembele's two-game ban reduced to one has been rejected by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

Dembele was sent off in the closing minutes of Barca's 4-0 LaLiga win over Sevilla this month following a confrontation with referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz, who had just given debutant Ronald Araujo a red card for a foul on Javier Hernandez.

Barcelona's initial appeal against Dembele's red card was dismissed and he was ruled out of the club's next two league matches.

With the France forward seemingly set to miss the Clasico against Real Madrid, which had been scheduled for October 26, Barca then attempted to have his ban halved.

Their efforts proved in vain but Dembele will now be available for the first LaLiga Clasico of the season, with the fixture having been postponed due to safety concerns amid the ongoing political tensions and protests in Catalonia.

Instead, the former Borussia Dortmund star will miss Saturday's match against Eibar and the meeting with Real Valladolid a week on Tuesday.

The Camp Nou Clasico appears set to be played on December 18 after both Barca and Madrid proposed the date on Friday.

Dembele has made three league appearances for Barca this season, scoring once - against Sevilla.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists he has no concerns over Paul Pogba's commitment after the Manchester United midfielder was pictured with Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane.

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

The picture has further fuelled rumours about Zidane's possible interest in signing the player in January, with Pogba having been unable to secure an exit from Old Trafford in the previous transfer window.

However, United manager Solskjaer has no problem with meeting and has full confidence that Pogba wants to stay at the club.

"I've never heard Paul say he doesn't want to be here," he told a news conference.

"Paul is part of our plan going forward and Paul knows that. I've spoken to Paul many times. He's been playing through pain barriers. He's been criticised right, left and centre, but he came back, [against] Rochdale, Arsenal, he could easily have opted not to play them, but he wanted to play them.

"He wanted to try to get back, it was too painful, so we had that scan and now he's on the way back, he's mending, he's recovering, he's been on a few days off working and there's a picture. That's the way it is with Man United. I don't have any problem with that at all."

Solskjaer, who allowed Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to leave for Inter without replacements being brought in, has previously said he would not keep a player at United against his will while he attempts to create a more desirable mentality within the squad.

United have struggled for goals this season, though, with injuries to Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford further depleting their forward line, and they head into Sunday's match against Liverpool with just two wins and nine goals scored from eight Premier League games.

Solskjaer, though, is not concerned that the short-term drawbacks of his rebuilding work could mean he is not given enough time to reap the possible rewards of his long-term vision.

"The time is always right to make the right decision," he said. "It was the right time to make those decisions and go on with the squad that we have. The injuries didn't help, we're getting players back now and I'm sure between now and Christmas if you see a full-strength squad then we'll get the results.

"The last few weeks have been difficult, they have been, but it's not like two or three weeks will tell me they were the wrong decisions. They were the right decisions. Listen, [for] the culture that we want to build, I had to make those decisions. That's it.

"When you lose the majority of your front creativity that we started with, you're going to struggle to create as many chances as you'd like. The Newcastle [United] game, we had 75 per cent possession but you can't create that opening…

"The pressing up high has been very good, the attitude, desire has been very good, but as you say, not enough chances created, chances haven't been taken. Sometimes that's confidence, that's human nature, you see players missing chances that they normally would not miss. But it's up to us to keep working and get the ball in between the posts. That goal never moves. It's the easiest bit because you know where it is."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

TOP STORY – POGBA MEETS ZIDANE IN DUBAI

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

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

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

 

ROUND-UP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

TOP STORY – ALLEGRI 'VERY CLOSE' TO UNITED

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

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

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

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

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

 

ROUND-UP

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

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

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

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

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

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

LaLiga has proposed moving the Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona on October 26 from Camp Nou to the Santiago Bernabeu amid the political unrest in Catalonia.

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

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

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

Omnisport understands LaLiga has asked the Competition Committee of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to switch the match to Madrid for security reasons and to avoid disruption.

The committee is due to decide in the coming days.

Cristiano Ronaldo should be regarded as the greatest footballer in history after reaching 700 career goals, according to his agent Jorge Mendes.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner brought up his latest milestone for club and country when he dispatched a second-half penalty against Ukraine on Monday, taking his Portugal tally to 95.

The majority of Ronaldo's goals came during a storied spell with Real Madrid, for whom he scored 450 times after netting 118 for Manchester United.

Although Ronaldo is entering the twilight of his career at the age of 34, Mendes sees no sign of him slowing down at Juventus.

And there is even more still to come, the agent suggests.

"He is the strongest ever. For him, the best is yet to come and will arrive with the Juve jersey," Mendes told Tuttosport.

"The numbers do not lie and they illuminate the overwhelming way in which Cristiano Ronaldo shatters the records, which elevates him to the category of the best player in the history of football and with a big difference compared to the second [best].

"He's in that position for all that he has achieved in the service of the different clubs that he represented, either in England or in Spain or now in Italy, but also with the Portuguese national team.

"And the fact is that, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal has already played in three finals, winning two."

Luka Jovic will make the grade at Real Madrid if he is afforded time, according to his former Eintracht Frankfurt captain Alexander Meier.

Jovic joined Eintracht on an initial two-year loan from Benfica in 2017 after struggling in Portugal and he went on to star in the Bundesliga.

The Serbia international scored 17 top-flight goals last season and netted a further 10 in the Europa League as Eintracht reached the semi-finals.

That form persuaded Madrid to pay a reported €60million for the 21-year-old, but he has made only two LaLiga starts, with Karim Benzema continuing his fine run of form.

But Meier, who spent a season with Jovic, is adamant there is no reason to panic about Jovic's lack of starts, while he also has no qualms with Sebastien Haller and Ante Rebic departing Eintracht for West Ham and AC Milan, respectively.

Speaking to Omnisport, the Western Sydney Wanderers forward said: "It's never wrong to go to Real Madrid and Sebastien is in the best league in the world. They all went to big clubs and I think it's the best step for their careers.

"When you go somewhere new it takes time and I'm pretty sure Jovic will come good there.

"You could tell after two or three weeks how good his finishing was. He can do everything: left foot, right foot, head. He is perfect in front of the goal."

Luka Modric escaped significant injury in Croatia's 1-1 Euro 2020 qualifying draw with Wales, with Real Madrid confirming he suffered bruising to his right quadriceps.

The midfielder had to be helped from the pitch by Croatia's medical staff with a minute of normal time remaining, having received a knock when he fouled Harry Wilson and earned a booking in Cardiff on Sunday.

He underwent tests after returning to his club, with the results announced on Tuesday.

"Following the tests carried out today on our player Luka Modric by the Real Madrid medical department, he has been diagnosed with a contusion to his right quadriceps," a statement from Madrid read.

"His recovery will continue to be assessed."

Zinedine Zidane's side resume their LaLiga campaign with a trip to Mallorca on Saturday.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored the 700th goal of his remarkable career in Portugal's Euro 2020 qualifying defeat to Ukraine on Monday.

His latest landmark was another reminder of Ronaldo's enduring brilliance, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner still proving himself prolific at the age of 34.

The Juventus star has scored 95 goals for his country, while the bulk of his goals at club level came at Real Madrid, where he netted 450 times over nine seasons.

However, the first century milestone arrived 11 years ago, which is where we begin our rundown of Ronaldo's major landmark goals.

GOAL 100 – MANCHESTER UNITED 3-1 Tottenham (FA Cup, January 2008)

The first century of goals was completed in somewhat fortuitous circumstances, with a 22-year-old Ronaldo doubling his tally for the match with a deflected effort that squirmed under the body of goalkeeper Radek Cerny.

GOAL 200 – REAL MADRID 2-0 Valencia (LaLiga, December 2010)

Again, Ronaldo was on target twice in this match but it was his first strike – a measured left-footed finish from Mesut Ozil's assist – that took him onto 200 career goals.  

GOAL 300 – Granada 1-2 REAL MADRID (LaLiga, May 2012)

Madrid were behind in this game with only five minutes gone but levelled late on when Ronaldo converted a penalty that he had won. There was still time for title-winning Madrid to seal all three points courtesy of an own goal.

GOAL 400 – REAL MADRID 3-0 Celta Vigo (LaLiga, January 2014)

At the double once more, it was his second goal in injury time that brought up a quadruple century for the irrepressible Ronaldo, who turned home a fine cross from Gareth Bale. 

GOAL 500 – Malmo 0-2 REAL MADRID (Champions League, September 2015)

The first of two goals on an otherwise uneventful night in Sweden was the one that took Ronaldo to a tally of 500. Through one-on-one, the outcome was never in doubt as he confidently chipped the ball over Johan Wiland.

GOAL 600 – REAL MADRID 4-1 Juventus (Champions League, June 2017)

What a stage on which to make history, the Champions League final. Having already opened the scoring, Ronaldo struck again when he turned in Luka Modric's near-post delivery on a glorious night in Wales for Madrid. 

GOAL 700 – Ukraine 2-1 PORTUGAL (Euro 2020 Qualifying, October 2019)

The first of his landmark goals that has failed to help his side to victory, but an astonishing personal achievement nonetheless, Ronaldo slotted home his penalty and probably started thinking about reaching 800 soon after.

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