Atletico Madrid have confirmed midfielder Saul Niguez sustained a thigh injury in the Copa del Rey match with Girona on Wednesday.

Diego Simeone's side exited the competition on away goals after drawing 3-3 at the Wanda Metropolitano in the second leg of their last-16 tie.

Saul had to be replaced 11 minutes into the second half and Atleti said a subsequent injury assessment has determined the midfielder has suffered a "high-grade post-traumatic myofascial injury to his thigh".

The club put no timescale on the recovery of Saul, who has started 17 LaLiga games for the side second in the table behind Barcelona.

A club statement read: "Saul Niguez has undergone this Thursday [an] MRI scan at the Clinica Universidad de Navarra to know the exact extent of the injury he suffered in the Copa del Rey match against Girona and that prevented him from finishing the match caused by a thigh bruise, being replaced by Rodrigo.

"Our midfielder suffers a post-traumatic myofascial injury to his thigh. He is pending clinical evolution."

Atletico Madrid have confirmed midfielder Saul Niguez sustained a thigh injury in the Copa del Rey match with Girona on Wednesday.

Diego Simeone's side exited the competition on away goals after drawing 3-3 at the Wanda Metropolitano in the second leg of their last-16 tie.

Saul had to be replaced 11 minutes into the second half and Atleti said a subsequent injury assessment has determined the midfielder has suffered a "high-grade post-traumatic myofascial injury to his thigh".

The club put no timescale on the recovery of Saul, who has started 17 LaLiga games for the side second in the table behind Barcelona.

A club statement read: "Saul Niguez has undergone this Thursday [an] MRI scan at the Clinica Universidad de Navarra to know the exact extent of the injury he suffered in the Copa del Rey match against Girona and that prevented him from finishing the match caused by a thigh bruise, being replaced by Rodrigo.

"Our midfielder suffers a post-traumatic myofascial injury to his thigh. He is pending clinical evolution."

Championship leaders Leeds United have completed the signing of experienced goalkeeper Kiko Casilla on a four-year deal from Real Madrid.

Carlos Tevez, Hulk, Oscar and Ezequiel Lavezzi are among the stars Mousa Dembele is following by joining a club in the Chinese Super League.

Belgium international Dembele has completed a move to Guangzhou R and F, ending a seven-and-a-half-year stay at Tottenham.

Dembele is far from the first star of the game to have headed to Asia, but recent history suggests high-class players do not always succeed in China.

Here, we look at eight stars who have moved to the CSL - and assess how they fared.

 

Carlos Tevez (Shanghai Shenhua)

Although probably the biggest name to join the CSL, Tevez's time in China was far from settled. The striker later described a 2017 spell at Shanghai Shenhua as a "holiday" and he returned to boyhood club Boca Juniors after a season in which he managed only four CSL goals, despite earning a reported $40million-a-year.

Oscar (Shanghai SIPG)

Eyebrows were raised when Oscar opted to leave Chelsea to move to the CSL, joining Shanghai SIPG for the 2017 season. Oscar's performance levels have been good in Shanghai, but the most notable moment of his time at SIPG was when he was handed an eight-match ban and a $5,000 fine for blasting the ball at an opponent, sparking a mass brawl in a game against Dembele's new club Guangzhou R and F. Oscar has not played for Brazil since heading to China.

Ezequiel Lavezzi (Hebei China Fortune)

A reasonable success on the pitch, Lavezzi has been embroiled in controversy of it in the CSL. The Hebei China Fortune striker - who has hit 32 CSL goals in 63 appearances - apologised after a picture of him appearing to mimic Chinese facial characteristics went viral. Much like Oscar, his international career has all but ended since moving to China. Although he was initially still getting picked, Lavezzi has now not played for Argentina since March 2017. 

Jackson Martinez (Guangzhou Evergrande)

Once considered among Europe's deadliest strikers - he hit at least 20 league goals in three consecutive seasons for Porto - Martinez's time at Guangzhou Evergrande entirely failed to catch light. The €42million signing from Atletico Madrid contributed just four CSL goals in 2016 and saw his contract cancelled as a result. He is now back in Portugal, having signed for Portimonense at the start of the season.

Alex Teixeira (Jiangsu Suning)

Liverpool were among the clubs linked with signing Teixeira but the Brazilian midfielder opted for CSL side Jiangsu Suning when he left Shakhtar Donetsk in 2016, having won five Ukrainian titles. The 29-year-old has burnished his reputation with a series of stunning individual performances and scored 32 league goals in 75 appearances. A move back to Europe remains a possibility, although his chances of earning a Brazil call-up look remote.

Hulk (Shanghai SIPG)

Another success, Hulk has been consistently among the best players in the CSL since his arrival in China in 2016, SIPG having paid €55m to sign the powerful forward from Zenit. Hulk hit 17 goals in his first full season to rank among the league's top goalscorers but SIPG finished second in the table and also lost in the cup final. In 2018 he was effective again, scoring 13 and setting up another 12 in 25 outings but, like compatriot Oscar, Hulk is in the midst of an exile at international level.

Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian)

Another Zenit alumnus, Witsel cost a reported €20m when he moved to Tianjin Quanjian in time for the 2017 season. He contributed four goals as his new club finished third in the CSL and continued to be selected in the Belgium squad after moving to Asia, helping the Red Devils to the World Cup semi-finals. After impressing in Russia, he earned a return to Europe with Borussia Dortmund and has been one of the signings of the season in Germany.

Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang)

Joining Dalian in a double swoop that also saw Nico Gaitan make the exact same transfer, Carrasco caught people by surprise when he left Atletico Madrid in 2018. Having previously looked a potential superstar in Spain, this was seen as a massive get for the CSL, given his age, reputation and ability, even if his third campaign in LaLiga was unimpressive. The 25-year-old has not set the world alight in China but remains well-regarded in Europe, with Arsenal reportedly interested.

Real Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez is convinced Isco remains important to the club and coach Santiago Solari despite a lack of starts in recent months.

Rafael van der Vaart claims out-of-favour Real Madrid midfielder Isco is the "best player in the world" as he struggles for game time at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Diego Simeone was unwilling to discuss the prospect of Atletico Madrid signing Alvaro Morata after his side's Copa del Rey exit.

Morata is reportedly close to joining Atletico having fallen out of favour at Chelsea, who are attempting to bring in Gonzalo Higuain.

Atletico are without Diego Costa as the striker is recovering from foot surgery, while Morata would be returning to the Spanish capital after previously playing for Real Madrid.

Strikers Antoine Griezmann and Nikola Kalinic were both on target in Wednesday's 3-3 Copa del Rey draw at home to Girona, who progressed on away goals after a 4-4 aggregate tie as a result.

But Simeone refused to talk about the latest transfer speculation involving Morata's move when he spoke at a post-match news conference.

"We are not going to talk about Morata because he is not with us," he said.

"We understood that from the beginning of the match, we would be alright with [Thomas] Lemar and Kalinic as we gave rest to Griezmann.

"In the second half [Griezmann] came on and made it 3-2."

Atletico's exit means they have been knocked out of the Copa del Rey at the last-16 stage for the first time in Simeone's spell in charge.

"It was a beautiful match, a classic cup game," said Simeone. "We had the intention of winning at all times.

"We got an early goal and had chances to extend our lead. Girona's physical nature was their greatest ally.

"Congratulations to Girona - we gave everything, we continued to go for the comeback, but the 3-3 hurt us.

"I say to the fans what they saw: a side that gave everything. The intention was always to win the game.

"Sometimes you play well and do not advance. I prefer to play badly and always go through."

Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev has confirmed the club are in talks over a deal for Michy Batshuayi.

Sevilla have revealed that Salzburg striker Munas Dabbur will undergo a medical with them. 

Dabbur has been linked with a £22million move to Liverpool but the Israel international instead looks set to sign for Sevilla.

The LaLiga side posted a photograph of Dabbur arriving in Seville for a medical on Wednesday.

Salzburg confirmed Dabbur is in talks over a move away but said he will stay at the club for the rest of the season.

Dabbur has hit nine goals in 18 league appearances for the Austrian outfit this season, having found the net 22 times in the league last term.

The 26-year-old also scored six goals as Salzburg recorded a perfect record in the group stage of the Europa League under highly-rated coach Marco Rose. They face Club Brugge in the last 32 next month.

Salzburg are 14 points clear at the top of the Austrian Bundesliga table, seeking to defend the title they have won five years in a row.

Sevilla, third in LaLiga, have already boosted their attacking options this month with the signing of striker Munir El Haddadi from Barcelona.

Pablo Machin's side were also linked with a deal for Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata, but have been priced out of the proposed move.

Their surprise title challenge has fallen away of late, with Sevilla having only won one of their last six LaLiga matches to fall 10 points adrift of Barca. 

Jesus Vallejo has suffered a fresh setback with Real Madrid confirming the centre-back has sustained a hamstring injury.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is convinced head coach Ernesto Valverde will still be in charge at Camp Nou next season.

Barcelona legend Xavi believes Bayern Munich star Joshua Kimmich would fit perfectly at Camp Nou.

Lionel Messi paid tribute to team-mates past and present after reaching 400 LaLiga goals for Barcelona in Sunday's 3-0 win over Eibar.

Girona forward Cristhian Stuani was non-committal when asked about speculation linking him with LaLiga champions Barcelona.

Barcelona have rejected a report that claimed Neymar's father has contacted the club regarding setting up a return from Paris Saint-Germain.

Neymar joined PSG in a world-record deal in August 2017 but reports he has failed to settle in the French capital have been regular.

Barca captain Lionel Messi has spoken in favour of Neymar heading back to the LaLiga leaders, with reports this week claiming Neymar's father had been in touch over a possible deal.

Ernesto Valverde distanced himself from such reports and club spokesman Josep Vives said at a news conference on Tuesday there was no call from Neymar Sr to club president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

"In the first place, that's not the case, and Neymar left because that's what he decided, and from there we have nothing more to say," Vives told reporters.

"We never talked about players who have contracts with other clubs, at the time he decided to leave Barca, a completely legitimate decision on his part."

Barca are reportedly trying to sign an attacker during the January transfer window following the sale of Munir El Haddadi to Sevilla, while PSG's financial situation has led to suggestions Neymar could be sold.

Valverde said earlier this month that permanent deals were unlikely to be concluded by the club this month, with Jeison Murillo joining on loan from Valencia to address a defensive injury crisis.

Barca's transfer kitty could be boosted by Paulinho's loan to Guangzhou Evergrande being converted into a permanent deal, however.

Vives told reporters the Chinese Super League side have already paid the fee, reported to be €42million, to complete the transfer.

"We would like to publicly explain the details of such a beneficial operation," he added.

"But we cannot do it because we are subject to a confidentiality clause with the Chinese club.

"The agreement is magnificent, good for the player, also for the Chinese club and very good for Barcelona."

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