LaLiga has insisted it will not change the dates of fixtures in the opening three rounds of the 2019-20 season, despite a demand to do so from the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

The RFEF released a statement on Friday confirming the competition judge had ruled football was only to be played on Saturday or Sunday in August and September.

As such, it demanded LaLiga alter its calendar as it had not sought permission to play matches on Fridays and Mondays, with defending champions Barcelona initially scheduled to begin their campaign against Athletic Bilbao on August 16.

But LaLiga refutes the decision, instead claiming to be the only organisation able to set the schedule for league fixtures.

"LaLiga confirms that there is a judicial hearing indicated for August 7 with the objective of resolving this RFEF attack with caution to LaLiga's powers and the value of the audiovisual rights of the associated clubs," a statement read, adding that fixture changes could affect signed contracts worth "more than" €2billion.

Should LaLiga lose the case, Barca's clash with Bilbao will be put back to Saturday, August 17, along with Real Mallorca's meeting with Eibar, which was initially set for August 19. Real Betis' game against Real Valladolid will also been moved.

Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Real Sociedad and others will also be impacted across the opening weekends if the August hearing rules in favour of RFEF.

Ernesto Valverde confirmed a new left-back is on Barcelona's wishlist and said the door would remain open for new arrivals until the transfer window closes.

LaLiga champions Barca want to find support for Jordi Alba and are reportedly moving closer to signing Junior Firpo from Real Betis.

Philipp Max of Augsburg is said to be an alternative, while Bayern Munich star David Alaba figured in rumours as a less realistic option.

Neto, Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann have all joined since the end of the 2018-19 season and Barca's business appears unlikely to end there.

"It is true that we had some problems on the left side [of defence] and it is possible that somebody may arrive," head coach Valverde said.

"But we are open to the market until the last day and we will see what happens."

Valverde faced media in Japan ahead of a pre-season friendly against local outfit Vissel Kobe, home to former Barca players Andres Iniesta, David Villa and Sergi Samper.

Gerard Pique will not be involved after feeling discomfort in his thigh in the wake of the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea.

"Tomorrow is an opportunity," Valverde said of the match. "There are things that must be improved and adapted. We always have to improve. We will leave out Pique, who has a problem, as a precaution."

There is better news on the fitness front back in Spain, where Luis Suarez has started a personalised pre-season programme.

The striker, who was given an extended break following the Copa America, is scheduled to return to full training alongside his Barcelona team-mates on July 31.

Barcelona have parted company with sporting director Pep Segura.

Segura joined Barca as academy manager in 2015 and took on the role overseeing the assembly of the first-team squad two years later.

The 58-year-old came under increased scrutiny after last season's humiliating Champions League semi-final defeat to Liverpool.

A brief statement published on Barcelona's official website read: "FC Barcelona and Josep Segura have reached an agreement to terminate his contract with the club.

"FC Barcelona publicly expresses its gratitude to Josep Segura for his commitment and dedication and wishes him good luck and success in the future."

Former Barcelona and France defender Eric Abidal has been tipped to succeed Segura, whose departure marks the latest stage of a boardroom shake-up at Camp Nou.

Vice-president Jordi Mestre – viewed as a key ally of Segura's – stepped down at the start of this month, while Patrick Kluivert was confirmed as Barca's new director of youth football on Thursday.

Barcelona stalwart Sergio Busquets believes Ousmane Dembele is getting closer to living up to high expectations at Camp Nou.

Inconsistency and injuries have impeded winger Dembele from developing at the pace anticipated when he joined Barca from Borussia Dortmund for €105million in 2017.

The France international made strides in his second season, scoring eight LaLiga goals, yet speculation surrounds his potential involvement in a reported proposal to sign Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

Dembele, 22, is said to view his future at Barcelona and midfielder Busquets thinks the LaLiga champions are about to benefit.

"He looks better," the Spain international said, speaking in Japan. "We've been here for a few days and it's a long season, but the way he has started is positive.

"Everyone has a hard time going to a new club, with a different language and a different philosophy.

"Hopefully everything goes better because he has a lot to give and we expect a lot from him."

Antoine Griezmann's arrival has further complicated Dembele's bid to become a regular starter in attack.

Busquets, however, sees only positives.

"The signing of Griezmann is good for everyone," the 31-year-old said. "It will make us better as a team and will increase competition.

"The problem will be for the coach, who will have to choose [from a strong squad]. The important thing is to make the team solid. He's fitting in well with the team, style and philosophy.

"The three new ones are integrating well, they are good team-mates. For us it's a pleasure."

Barcelona face Vissel Kobe, home to former Camp Nou favourites Andres Iniesta and David Villa, in a pre-match friendly in Japan on Saturday.

Manchester United may have identified a potential replacement for Romelu Lukaku.

Lukaku has been heavily linked with a switch to Inter, although progress on the striker's potential move from Old Trafford has been slow.

However, United are preparing if the Belgium international does depart, with Moussa Dembele reportedly on their shortlist.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UNITED EYE DEMBELE AS LUKAKU REPLACEMENT

Lyon striker Dembele will be on Manchester United's shortlist if they sell Lukaku to Inter, according to Sky Sports News.

The former Fulham and Celtic striker enjoyed a fine first season with the Ligue 1 giants, scoring 20 goals in all competitions.

United have also been linked to Lille's Nicolas Pepe, but the report says they see Dembele as a better replacement for Lukaku.

ROUND-UP

- Mauro Icardi is almost certain to leave Inter and the forward was contacted by Boca Juniors, according to Fox Sports Argentina. However, they say Icardi will not make the move to his homeland.

- Another forward set for a possible move is Radamel Falcao. According to Soccer Link, Valencia have expressed an interest in the Monaco star.

- Barcelona have continually been linked with a move for Real Betis left-back Junior Firpo and, according to Sport, the defender is their priority. The Spain Under-21 international is seen as a possible future replacement for Jordi Alba, but Barca reportedly do not want to pay more than €20million, even though Junior's release clause is said to be closer to €50m.

- Wilfried Zaha is a reported target for Arsenal, but it seems Everton could be ready to pounce to sign the Crystal Palace star. The Daily Mail says Everton are prepared to make an opening offer of £55m.

- Rafinha has options should he want to move from Barcelona. According to Sport, the midfielder has offers from Valencia and Serie A clubs Atalanta and Fiorentina.

- Borussia Dortmund want to land Barcelona attacker Malcom. According to Goal, Dortmund could pay €42m for Malcom, just a year after the 22-year-old made the move from Bordeaux for the same fee.

Andres Iniesta is adamant his former Barcelona team-mate Ivan Rakitic wants to stay at Camp Nou despite links with Paris Saint-Germain, Inter and Manchester United.

Croatia international Rakitic has spent five seasons at Barca following a move from Sevilla in 2014 and has been a key part of the side ever since, making at least 32 LaLiga appearances in each campaign.

Although his coaches have valued Rakitic's input, some supporters have questioned whether the 31-year-old merits inclusion in the Barca team.

But in spite of United, Inter and PSG apparently holding an interest in Rakitic, Iniesta is convinced his former colleague has no plans to leave.

"I don't know if he is untransferable, but I know he is happy and wants to stay at Barca," Iniesta told reporters in Japan before his Vissel Kobe side face the Blaugrana on Saturday.

"I hope he can [stay at the club] and continue to perform as before. I would be happy for him."

One player linked with a move to Barca is Neymar, another former team-mate of Iniesta's at Camp Nou.

The PSG star is at odds with his employers, who have confirmed he can leave for the right price, and Iniesta is eager to see the Brazilian back with the Spanish champions.

"I have said it many times, for me, as a player he is one of the best there is," Iniesta said. "If his signing is going well or badly, that is something the club must conclude.

"They are considerations of the sports management. But as a player, he is one of the best."

Neymar has been left out of the Paris Saint-Germain squad for Saturday's pre-season friendly against Inter.

The Brazil superstar recently declared he is almost 100 per cent fit after recovering from foot and ankle injuries.

But PSG confirmed on Thursday that Neymar will not travel to Macau with the rest of the squad to take on the Nerazzurri.

"Presnel Kimpembe and Neymar [will] stay at base camp in Shenzhen to continue their individual physical work twice a day with staff members to extend their preparation," the club said in a statement.

Neymar has been linked with a return to Barcelona, with PSG sporting director Leonardo confirming the 27-year-old wants to leave.

The forward reported late for pre-season training earlier this month and PSG said he could face punishment as a result.

Neymar did not feature in either of PSG's two recent friendlies in Germany having missed Brazil's triumph at the Copa America due to injury.

But PSG's new signings Ander Herrera, Abdou Diallo and Pablo Sarabia could all play against Inter after being included in Thomas Tuchel's squad.

After taking on the Serie A side, PSG play Sydney FC ahead of August 3's Trophee des Champions clash against Rennes in Shenzhen.

Patrick Kluivert has been appointed director of youth football at Barcelona on a two-year contract.

The role marks a return for the former Netherlands international to the club where he spent six seasons as a player.

Kluivert will be responsible for overseeing the famed La Masia academy, which produced Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets.

"I am very happy to be back home and looking forward to this new era, with the challenge of keeping Barca among the top teams in the world," Kluivert said.

"I grew up at the Ajax academy, which is very similar to La Masia, and I think I can do a lot for the development of young Barca players."

The announcement comes just over a week after the 43-year-old was dismissed by Cameroon.

Head coach Clarence Seedorf and assistant Kluivert had their contracts terminated after failing to guide the Indomitable Lions beyond the last 16 at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Since retiring from playing in 2008, Kluivert has been involved at various Eredivisie clubs and was part of Louis van Gaal's coaching staff when Netherlands finished third at the 2014 World Cup.

He was briefly at the helm of the Curacao national team and spent a season as director of football at Paris Saint-Germain.

Former Barcelona star Xavi hailed Neymar as "spectacular" as the Brazilian continues to be linked with a return to the LaLiga club.

Neymar, 27, is said to want a move back to Camp Nou after two seasons with Paris Saint-Germain.

His head coach, Thomas Tuchel, admitted to knowing about the forward's desire before the Copa America began over a month ago.

Barca have reportedly made contact with PSG about executing a deal for the player who is revered by club favourite Xavi, a team-mate of Neymar's for two seasons.

"In terms of football, he is a bomb, he is spectacular," Xavi said.

"I consider him a good guy, humble, a hard worker that gave his best at Barcelona.

"But it is Barcelona who need to make that decision. I want the best for Barca. If someone can guarantee that Neymar will have success at Barca again, I would be the first to want him to come back.

"But you never know. It all depends on Barcelona and their decisions."

While uncertainty surrounds Neymar's future, Barca have already secured one top target in Antoine Griezmann.

The France forward made his debut alongside Frenkie de Jong as Ernesto Valverde's men suffered a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea this week.

Xavi has been impressed with Netherlands international De Jong, a fellow midfielder, and also believes the experienced Arturo Vidal still has a role to play for the LaLiga champions.

"Both are good," said former Spain international Xavi, who now coaches Qatari side Al Sadd.

"Arturo Vidal gives you so many things like intensity, he gives you timing, sacrifice, he steals balls, he doesn't lose them easily. I think he is a complete footballer.

"He is a footballer with a very good level, like De Jong. We saw the other day [De Jong] is a footballer who can mark an era in Barcelona.

"He is able to dominate the game, he sees it easily and doesn't lose the ball.

"He also makes sacrifices to work defensively. I think they are top-level players, very good for Barca."

After two consecutive windows without a signing, Tottenham are keen to make a splash in the transfer market.

Tottenham purchased Tanguy Ndombele in a club-record deal, while Spurs are also reportedly interested in Real Betis star Giovani Lo Celso.

Now Tottenham could break the bank to prise an Argentina forward from Turin…

 

TOP STORY – SPURS EYE DYBALA

Tottenham have approached Juventus over the possibility of signing star Paulo Dybala.

That is according to the Evening Standard and reports in United Kingdom as Dybala faces an uncertain future at the Serie A champions.

Spurs have already spent £55million on Ndombele and the Champions League runners-up would need to break their transfer record again to sign the £80m (€90m)-rated Dybala, who has also been linked to Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain.

 

ROUND-UP

Juventus are eyeing Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves as part of a possible exchange deal involving striker Moise Kean, says Sky Sport Italia. Wolves are also reportedly in talks for Juve veteran Sami Khedira, who is not wanted by Maurizio Sarri.

- According to the Daily Mail, Everton are ready to hijack Arsenal's move for Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha. The Toffees are reportedly ready to offer £50m.

- Sportitalia claims Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez has been offered to AC Milan for €42m. Napoli only want to sign James on an initial loan deal, with Atletico Madrid now favourites to sign the Colombia international. However, agent Jorge Mendes has reportedly proposed James to Milan.

Manchester United have been asked to be kept updated on Christian Eriksen's future as they eye a move for the Tottenham midfielder, reports the Daily Mail. Eriksen – who is out of contract at the end of 2019-20 – has been linked to Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.

- Staying at Old Trafford and as Manchester United reportedly pursue Leicester City defender Harry Maguire, Red Devils centre-back Eric Bailly fears for his future. The Metro claims Bailly feels he could be sacrificed should United sign Maguire.

- According to Corriere dello Sport, Inter have reopened talks with Manchester United for Romelu Lukaku.

Jurgen Klopp has ruled out a Liverpool return for Philippe Coutinho as the Reds cannot afford to re-sign the Barcelona star.

Coutinho swapped Liverpool for Barcelona in January 2018 for a fee that could reach €160million (£142m) with add-ons, however, the Brazil international has already been linked with a move away.

The 27-year-old has struggled to cement himself in Barca's starting XI amid discontent from fans at Camp Nou, where he scored just five goals in 22 LaLiga starts last term.

A return to Champions League holders Liverpool has been mooted but Reds manager Klopp dismissed the possibility as he hailed his former attacking sensation.

"In general, Phil Coutinho helps each team in the world, still – 100 per cent," Klopp told ESPN FC. "It's not about that.

"I like Phil, I think he's a fantastic footballer and all that stuff, but it would be a big, big, big, big, big, big, big, big-money signing and it's not our year for that.

"It's just not possible. As I said, having him would make each team better – us included – but I really hope that he finds his luck at Barcelona.

"Or maybe he found it there. We have contact, but not that close contact that I know exactly how he is doing, but the rest is only newspaper talk and stuff like that.

"If everything was true what newspapers write about me – wow! If it's similar to what they write about me, I would say he's completely happy at Barcelona and wants to sign a new six-year contract or whatever."

Klopp has also denied Liverpool could make a move for Real Madrid outcast Gareth Bale, claiming the Wales forward's wages would be too expensive.

Barcelona have confirmed record revenues of €990million during the 2018-19 campaign, though the club's profits fell from 2018.

Ernesto Valverde's side retained their LaLiga title last term, though the season ended in disappointing fashion with a Copa del Rey final loss to Valencia following a disastrous defeat to Liverpool in the Champions League semi-finals.

Off the pitch Barca - who last year stated an intention to make €1billion in revenues by 2021 - are in a strong position, having far surpassed last season's then-record total of €914m.

However, operating profit stands at €17m, down from last season's €32m, while the club's net profit for 2017-18 was €13m, up from the €4.5million announced for 2018-19.

The club have already made major moves in the transfer market during the close season, with Frenkie de Jong - who was signed in January for an initial €75m - officially joining from Ajax, before Antoine Griezmann moved from Atletico Madrid for €120m.

Griezmann's move has caused controversy, though, with Atleti demanding a further €80m from Barca, while the is deal reportedly under investigation by the Royal Spanish Football Federation.

Reports of a sensational move for Neymar continue rumble on, with speculation rife Barca will bid to bring the Brazil star back to Camp Nou two years after he left for Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record €222m deal.

Atletico Madrid have demanded LaLiga prevent Antoine Griezmann from playing for Barcelona next season, according to the Spanish top flight's president Javier Tebas.

Griezmann confirmed he would be leaving Atleti at the end of last season, despite having only signed a five-year contract at Wanda Metropolitano in June 2018 after turning down a move to Barca.

After much speculation, Barca confirmed Griezmann's signing on July 12 after paying the France forward's €120million buy-out clause.

However, Atleti have reported Barca to The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), who have subsequently opened an investigation into the transfer.

Atleti claim they are owed a further €80million, on top of the €120million already paid for Griezmann, who made his Barca debut in a friendly defeat to Chelsea in Japan on Tuesday.

And LaLiga president Tebas has revealed Atleti have also requested the organisation block Griezmann from playing for Barca until the issue is resolved.

"Atletico wrote to us asking if we could block Griezmann's license in Barcelona," Tebas told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.

"It is possible to do it. A mechanism has been put in place and the authorities will have to resolve the situation. I have no element of judgment."

Griezmann has headlined a mass exodus from Atleti this close season, with Lucas Hernandez, Rodri, Filipe Luis, Juanfran among the first team regulars to have left.

Joao Felix was drafted in from Benfica as Griezmann's replacement, with Marcos Llorente, Felipe, Hector Herrera, Renan Lodi, Ivan Saponjic and Kieran Tripper also coming in.

With Paul Pogba's future far from certain, Manchester United are determined to boost their midfield.

Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has emerged as a transfer target for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United.

And a move to Old Trafford could be imminent for the Serbia international…

 

TOP STORY – MILINKOVIC-SAVIC SET FOR UNITED

Manchester United are on the verge of signing Lazio midfielder Milinkovic-Savic, reports La Repubblica.

According to the Italian newspaper, a deal is practically done for €75million plus various add-ons, with Milinkovic-Savic to sign a five-year contract.

The report comes as Real Madrid apparently accelerate their effort to prise Pogba from United.

ROUND-UP

- According to Le Parisien, Paris Saint-Germain have made a €32m (£28.7m) offer for Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye. The Senegal international is tipped to become PSG's sixth signing of the off-season.

- Lille have rejected an offer from Manchester United for star forward Nicolas Pepe, according to Yahoo Sports France. With United's Romelu Lukaku keen to join Inter, Pepe has been linked to the Premier League giants and he is reportedly open to moving to Old Trafford.

- According to ElDesmarque, Roma and Everton are vying to sign Malcom from Barcelona. Roma thought they had signed Malcom last season but the Brazilian sensationally opted for the LaLiga giants at the last minute.

Inter are ready to renew their pursuit of Roma striker Edin Dzeko, according to Calciomercato. It comes as the Serie A side struggle to reach a deal with United for Lukaku.

- According to reports in United Kingdom, Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi is set to sign a lucrative five-year deal worth £100,000-a-week.

- Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi has emerged as a possible target for AC Milan, says Calciomercato. Milan have reportedly failed in their attempts to sign Merih Demiral or Daniele Rugani from Juventus.

- According to widespread reports, Andre Silva's move from AC Milan to Monaco has collapsed. RMC Sport in France says the deal is definitely off, while La Repubblica claims the Portugal international failed to agree personal terms. Milan, however, are reportedly still confident of signing Angel Correa from Atletico Madrid.

Lionel Messi has been handed a ban and fine after his red card during Argentina's Copa America win over Chile in the third-place play-off.

Messi, 32, will serve a one-match suspension after his altercation with Gary Medel, also sent off, during Argentina's 2-1 victory earlier this month.

In a statement on Tuesday, CONMEBOL also confirmed the Barcelona star had been fined $1,500, with no appeal possible.

The single judge of the disciplinary tribunal confirmed "the automatic suspension imposed on the player Lionel Andres Messi, not agreeing on any additional suspension" while imposing the $1,500 fine.

Messi, controversially sent off, railed against "corruption" and "a lack of respect" following his red card.

His statements angered the governing body, which hit back at what it felt were "unfounded accusations".

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