Arsenal and Chelsea secured spots in the Europa League semi-finals following wins over Valencia and Slavia Praha.

Barcelona have confirmed a reunion with former players Andres Iniesta and David Villa after booking a pre-season friendly with Vissel Kobe.

Iniesta ended a career-long association with Barca by signing for the Japanese side last year, with Villa and former Camp Nou midfielder Sergi Samper now also at the club.

But the trio will all have a chance to catch up with old friends including Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets as Barca are heading to Japan on tour.

Ernesto Valverde's men, seeking to complete the treble this term, will take on Premier League club Chelsea in Tokyo on July 23.

Then, four days later they will head to Kobe to face Iniesta, Villa and Samper's Vissel side to conclude the Rakuten Cup.

Barca director of football Eric Abidal said: "We've had some fantastic battles against Chelsea in recent years and we're looking forward to playing them again in Tokyo.

"As for Vissel, the match will be very special for us as there are three players who are now in Kobe, but who have been part of the Barca family: Sergi Samper, David Villa and Andres Iniesta.

"We're excited to bring our unique style of play to our fanbase in Japan."

Goals from Aaron Ramsey and an own goal from Kalidou Koulibaly gave Arsenal a 2-0 win over Napoli in the first leg of the Europa League quarterfinals.

Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool's dramatic defeat to Chelsea in April 2014 will have no bearing on Sunday's Premier League clash between the two sides.

Brendan Rodgers' Reds faced Chelsea at Anfield needing just seven points from their remaining three games to win the title.

Chelsea, then managed by Jose Mourinho, took all three points, though, with Demba Ba taking advantage of Steven Gerrard's slip and Willian scoring late on to all but hand the title to Manchester City.

Liverpool are again locked in a battle with City for the title this season and go into this weekend's game two points ahead of their rivals at the summit, although Pep Guardiola's side do have a game in hand.

Klopp – who was crowned Premier League manager of the month for March on Friday – is adamant that his players will not be affected by that defeat five years ago and believes a partisan Anfield crowd could be decisive in what many believe is their toughest remaining fixture.

"I didn't think for one second until I entered this room about 2014," he told a media conference.

"I'm not sure if that's in anybody's mind apart from yours. I heard about it, of course, but it is nothing to do with us.

"It's a completely new story. It's all about the game on Sunday and not about the past. Everything has changed, only the colours and names are the same.

"We have to use the power of Anfield again. I'm so happy with our supporters, how they've dealt with everything and how we've grown together.

"It's now the moment to show it. We need all our resources to win it."

If Liverpool are to overcome Chelsea, Klopp knows they will need to keep Eden Hazard quiet.

The Belgian has been in imperious form and took his Premier League tally to 16 goals this season with a double against West Ham on Monday – the first of which was a stunning solo effort.

"We have to make sure he can't shine," Klopp explained. "Stop passes to him, react better than other teams did.

"When he has the ball it is already too late. Read the game, read the passes. In a one v one you can't defend him.

"On his day, he can be the world's best immediately. He has had a brilliant career so far and it's not over yet.

"I like his joy, cheeky as well, strong, quick, he's a good player. But all good players have to play against us, and we have to try everything."

Jurgen Klopp believes lifetime bans should be issued to any Chelsea fans found to have sung discriminatory chants about Mohamed Salah.

Footage shared on social media before the Blues' Europa League quarter-final first leg at Slavia Prague on Thursday appeared to show a small group of supporters referring to Salah – of the club's former players – as "a bomber".

Chelsea condemned the incident as "an embarrassment", while three of the six fans shown in the video were identified by club security staff and turned away at the Eden Arena.

Liverpool condemned what it called "vile discriminatory chants" against star forward Salah as "dangerous and disturbing" examples of "unadulterated bigotry".

Speaking to the media ahead of Liverpool's Premier League clash with Chelsea on Sunday, Klopp lambasted the behaviour and wants any perpetrators to be severely punished.

"It's disgusting, another example of something that should absolutely not happen," he said.

"It's another sign something is going wrong in the outside world. If you do something like that you should never enter a stadium again in your life.

"All kinds of racism are wrong and the biggest misunderstanding in the world out there. These people should not be involved in football.

"Football is the best example of how different races can work so well together. Nobody cares where you are from or who your parents are.

"These people should not be allowed to be part of the football community again.

"We have to show, with our strong voice, things like this should not be allowed to happen again."

Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri believes it would be "impossible" to replace Eden Hazard amid growing links with LaLiga giants Real Madrid.

Hazard produced a memorable display with two goals in Chelsea's 2-0 Premier League victory over West Ham on Monday.

The rumoured Madrid target opened the scoring via a sensational solo run before sealing the points in the closing stages as Chelsea moved up to third in the table.

As speculation mounts over Hazard's future at Stamford Bridge, Sarri conceded the Belgium international is irreplaceable.

"I think a big performance from the team, [Eden] Hazard, of course, played a wonderful match," Sarri said post-match.

"He scored an incredible goal, the first goal is really an incredible goal. When Hazard is able to play like he has in the last two matches for the team, of course, it's easier.

"From the technical point of view, no [cannot afford to lose Hazard], not at the moment.

"Also because it is impossible to find another Hazard. At the moment there isn't another Hazard, the level is so high."

Hazard has scored 19 goals in all competitions for Chelsea this season, with 16 of those coming in the Premier League.

 

 

Philippe Coutinho said he is happy at Barcelona, insisting a Premier League return "does not fit" into his plans for the future.

Coutinho has been linked with a move away from Barca, where the Brazilian has struggled to cement a regular starting spot since arriving from Liverpool for a reported €160million fee in January 2018.

Manchester United and Chelsea were reportedly possible suitors but Coutinho has no plans to make his way back to England.

"My head is exclusively in Barcelona. Returning to England now does not fit into my plans," Coutinho told the Mirror ahead of Barca's Champions League quarter-final showdown against United.

"This is my second season here. I have won titles, but I am always an ambitious and demanding player. So, I want more and more.

"But I'm happy. I wanted to play in Spain and I'm at the best club in Spain."

Coutinho has scored five goals for LaLiga leaders Barca this season, and 10 in all competitions as Ernesto Valverde's men chase the Champions League and Copa del Rey treble.

 

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has described Eden Hazard as a "fantastic player" and says he has been a long-term admirer of the Chelsea winger.

Hazard revealed in early February he had made a decision over his future, but the star attacker is yet to announce his plans.

The 28-year-old, whose contract at Stamford Bridge runs until 2020, has long been linked with a move to Madrid and Zidane has revealed he rates the Belgium international highly.

Speaking to the media ahead of Madrid's LaLiga clash with Eibar on Saturday, Zidane said: "Hazard is a player who I have always rated, who has played in France, and I saw a lot of. He is a fantastic player."

Hazard scored in Chelsea's 3-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday to take his tally to 14 goals in 31 Premier League appearances this season.

Former striker Gabriel Batistuta said Gonzalo Higuain is mistreated in Argentina following his international retirement.

Higuain called time on his Argentina career on Thursday, hitting back at critics who only highlighted his costly misses in three successive tournament finals.

The 75-time international, who scored 31 goals to rank sixth all-time, spurned opportunities in the 2014 World Cup final as well as the 2015 and 2016 Copa America deciders.

Batistuta – Argentina's second highest scorer behind Lionel Messi – leapt to the defence of the maligned 31-year-old.

"It seems to me he's been a great striker," Batistuta said of Higuain, who is on loan at Chelsea from Juventus. "Respected all over the world. And treated in a bad way in Argentina.

"We were talking about the fact that strikers maybe miss 200 goals, but then make one, two or three goals in the right moments, and so they are always remembered for those few ones they scored, compared to the ones they failed.

"And I said: 'there's also the opposite'. Higuain scored 200 goals, and missed three at the wrong time; and in Argentina, unfortunately, he is remembered for that.

"When he is, instead, a great striker, one of the best we've seen in the last years on a global scale."

 

Maurizio Sarri still does not know if Eden Hazard has decided his Chelsea future. 

Hazard's contract expires in 2020 and he has regularly hinted at his interest in moving to Real Madrid, who are reportedly set to spend heavily in the transfer market following the return of Zinedine Zidane. 

Former Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has said he wants his Belgium team-mate Hazard to join him at Madrid, but the forward has also suggested he could renew his deal at Stamford Bridge. 

Chelsea's situation is further complicated by the club's two-window transfer ban, meaning they could not replace Hazard if he was sold, although their appeal will be heard by UEFA next month. 

Sarri told Hazard in December it was "time to decide" whether his future lay at Chelsea or elsewhere, but the Italian still does not know his plans. 

"I don't know, two possibilities, I think. You can ask Hazard, or the club," Sarri told a news conference on Friday when asked if Zidane's Madrid return changed the scenario.  

"I am not in charge of the market, as you know, so I don't know. It's important Hazard, in this moment, to have him at the top in the last two months. 

"Now we cannot solve the problem, the market is closed so it's not important. I want to respect his decision, but I don't know at the moment if he has decided or not."

Hazard won his 100th international cap during the break and Sarri bemoaned the state of his squad after the start of Euro 2020 qualifiers. 

"We have some players who are a little bit tired now, of course," Sarri continued. "[N'Golo] Kante, [Olivier] Giroud, Hazard all played three matches in seven days. 

"Now we are not in October. It's different. It's more tiring, I think. So we need to recover. I had the whole squad only yesterday. Yesterday I saw during the training that somebody was a little bit tired."

Chelsea lost their last Premier League game before the international break 2-0 at Everton and Sarri is keen to see how his side bounce back at 18th-placed Cardiff City on Sunday. 

"Unfortunately, we have to wait for the reaction during the match," said Sarri. "We are working well in training but as you know the only thing that is important is the reaction in the match. 

"It will be very difficult as they are a physical team, dangerous in the box and on set pieces, so I think we need to defend very high, defend very far from our box. Otherwise for us it could be a problem."

After months of speculation, Bayern Munich confirmed on Wednesday they had smashed the Bundesliga transfer record to sign Lucas Hernandez from Atletico Madrid for £68million (€80m).

The versatile defender had emerged as a target towards the end of last year, with Bayern not making any secret of their desire to bring him in.

A January move was not possible, and Atletico attempted to ward off Bayern's interest by offering him a new contract at the Wanda Metropolitano.

However, Lucas' head had already been turned and he will join up with the Bavarian giants at the end of the season.

Bayern are paying almost double the previous Bundesliga transfer record of £35m (€41.5m), which they shelled out on Corentin Tolisso, but Lucas is not quite the most expensive defender of all time...

 

VIRGIL VAN DIJK - Southampton to Liverpool, £75m

Liverpool were fended off Van Dijk in June 2017 after being accused of tapping him up by Southampton, but the defender's absence from several matchday squads thereafter meant a departure was never far away.

The Reds gave their fans a late Christmas gift in December of the same year, confirming the Netherlands international's arrival and he has looked worth every penny since making the switch to Anfield.

LUCAS HERNANDEZ – Atletico Madrid to Bayern Munich, £68m

Having featured as France's first-choice left-back in their triumphant 2018 World Cup campaign, it did not take long for other clubs to begin being linked with Lucas. Bayern were reported to have things tied up with the defender by the end of the year, though it was said they were trying to avoid paying his full release clause.

As it happened, Atletico received the €80m required to trigger Lucas' exit at the end of the season, meaning Bayern have secured themselves a player who could cover two positions at the very top of the sport for the next decade. 

 

BENJAMIN MENDY – Monaco to Manchester City, £51.75m

Pep Guardiola broke the record for a defender when he signed Mendy from Monaco in July 2017, the left-back having quickly established himself as one of Europe's most exciting attacking full-backs as his side won the 2016-17 Ligue 1 title and reached that season's Champions League semi-finals.

His arrival was part of a spectacular overhaul of the City backline, which saw them spend close to £165m on three defenders and goalkeeper Ederson, but two serious knee injuries curtailed what looked to be a promising start to life in England. 

 

DAVID LUIZ – Chelsea to Paris Saint-Germain, £50m

Paris Saint-Germain paid a whopping fee to sign Brazil international David Luiz from Chelsea in 2014.

He won Ligue 1 in both of his seasons at PSG and made it three top-flight titles in a row after he surprisingly returned to Chelsea for £34m in August 2016, claiming his first Premier League winners' medal.

 

KYLE WALKER – Tottenham to Manchester City, £50m

When Walker joined Spurs from hometown club Sheffield United for £5m in 2009, few would have guessed he would one day become the most expensive English player ever.

He quickly established himself as a key component at the back following his July 2017 arrival and has won two EFL Cup titles and the Premier League. The Champions League and FA Cup could yet be added to that list this season.

 

JOHN STONES – Everton to Manchester City, £47.5m

City have certainly shown a willingness to pay large amounts for English talent, with Stones having joined the club from Everton in 2016.

The 24-year-old had a difficult first campaign as Guardiola's side under-performed, but his displays have since improved considerably, despite a few injuries. 

 

EDER MILITAO – Porto to Real Madrid, £42m

Another transfer set to go through at the end of the season, Madrid caught many by surprise when it was announced earlier in March they had paid the release clause of Porto's Brazil international Militao.

The 21-year-old was only brought to Europe from Sao Paulo in 2018 and appears to represent something of a gamble by Los Blancos.

 

DAVINSON SANCHEZ – Ajax to Tottenham, £36.6m

Spurs waited several weeks to make their first signing of the close-season transfer window in 2017, but they did so in some style, smashing their club record to bring Sanchez to north London.

The former Atletico Nacional man reportedly caught Barcelona's attention during Ajax's run to the Europa League final in 2016-17 and has looked a solid addition to the Premier League since arriving.

 

LEONARDO BONUCCI – Juventus to AC Milan, £35.2m

A row with Juve head coach Massimiliano Allegri led to Bonucci being allowed to join Serie A rivals AC Milan in 2017, who splashed the cash in a bid to return to the Champions League.

Bonucci won six Serie A titles at Juventus but such success did not follow at San Siro. His form suffered until he secured a return to Turin just a year later.

 

SHKODRAN MUSTAFI – Valencia to Arsenal, £35m

Arsenal are not normally known for their big spending, with former boss Arsene Wenger one of world football's more parsimonious managers, but they forked out £35m to sign Mustafi from Valencia in August 2016.

The Germany international had a solid first campaign at Emirates Stadium, but the Gunners missed out on Champions League qualification for the first time in 20 years in 2016-17. He seems to have regressed since, often receiving criticism from supporters.

 

(*Prices are as reported at the time of transfers being completed.)

United States head coach Gregg Berhalter moved to allay injury fears over Christian Pulisic after Borussia Dortmund attacker hobbled off against Chile.

Pulisic scored before the Chelsea-bound star was forced from the field due to a muscle injury in USA's 1-1 friendly draw in Houston on Tuesday.

After breaking the deadlock inside five minutes for his 10th international goal, Pulisic received treatment and left the BBVA Compass Stadium pitch in the 35th minute – US Soccer describing the problem as a right quadricep injury.

Afterwards, Berhalter – who revealed Pulisic was in the process of undergoing an MRI – told reporters: "I'm not worried.

"You look into the why, you do an inquiry of why that's happening, and you make adjustments. He's at a top club, he's going to a top club [in Chelsea].

"We have very high-level medical personnel on our side and we'll get it right."

Pulisic has scored two goals and tallied three assists in 15 Bundesliga appearances for title hopefuls Dortmund this season.

Dortmund will be sweating over the fitness of the 20-year-old, with a top-of-the-table showdown against Bayern Munich looming on April 6.

United States head coach Gregg Berhalter moved to allay injury fears over Christian Pulisic after Borussia Dortmund attacker hobbled off against Chile.

Pulisic scored before the Chelsea-bound star was forced from the field due to a muscle injury in USA's 1-1 friendly draw in Houston on Tuesday.

After breaking the deadlock inside five minutes for his 10th international goal, Pulisic received treatment and left the BBVA Compass Stadium pitch in the 35th minute – US Soccer describing the problem as a right quadricep injury.

Afterwards, Berhalter – who revealed Pulisic was in the process of undergoing an MRI – told reporters: "I'm not worried.

"You look into the why, you do an inquiry of why that's happening, and you make adjustments. He's at a top club, he's going to a top club [in Chelsea].

"We have very high-level medical personnel on our side and we'll get it right."

Pulisic has scored two goals and tallied three assists in 15 Bundesliga appearances for title hopefuls Dortmund this season.

Dortmund will be sweating over the fitness of the 20-year-old, with a top-of-the-table showdown against Bayern Munich looming on April 6.

Gareth Southgate urged Callum Hudson-Odoi to maintain the effort he has shown over his first two appearances with England.

Having made a cameo against the Czech Republic on Friday, Hudson-Odoi – who is yet to make a Premier League start for Chelsea – was handed his full England debut in Monday's Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro.

The 18-year-old repaid Southgate's faith with an impressive performance, which included an assist for Ross Barkley for England's second goal in a 5-1 victory.

And Southgate set Hudson-Odoi, who was the subject of interest from Bayern Munich in January, the task of continuing to push to become an elite player.

"Young Callum Hudson-Odoi, a fabulous performance, he's shown us what he's shown us all week," Southgate told ITV.

"I don't need to speak; his performance spoke really. With young players it is always up to them [how good they can be].

"He's got the talent. His application with us has been excellent, he's got to continue that. This is a great step forward for him but like any player you've got to constantly work and constantly look to improve."

England fell behind in the 17th minute but equalised through Michael Keane before Barkley's double put the three points beyond doubt, though alleged racist abuse from a section of the home support overshadowed the result.

Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling were also on target in the closing and Southgate was pleased with another vibrant performance.

"Really pleased," he added. "The game was a simple one in that we talked all week about using the width, making sure we didn't turn down the option of using our wingers, and our wingers were incredibly productive.

"The team recovered from going behind in a place that has been very difficult for us before. They showed good character and it was a good test for them."

N'Golo Kante dismissed talk of a move to Real Madrid as he insists his focus remains on success with Chelsea.

France international Kante won the Premier League with Leicester City in his first season in England and then repeated the feat with Chelsea in his second campaign in 2016-17.

But the Blues have struggled since, missing out on Champions League qualification last term and then slipping off the pace again this season.

Meanwhile, Zinedine Zidane's return to Madrid has seen speculation increase that Kante might be a close-season target, and Juventus have been linked, too.

Yet the Chelsea star will not discuss matters away from Stamford Bridge.

"I am at Chelsea and I still have aims here," Kante told RTL. "What is said elsewhere is not important."

He added of a potential conversation with Zidane: "That is not important. I am at Chelsea and I am focused on that."

Kante has scored three goals in 30 Premier League games this season, playing in a slightly more advanced role under Maurizio Sarri.

As well as Kante, Madrid are reportedly interested in Liverpool's in-form winger Sadio Mane.

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