Marco Asensio feels "very good" after recovering from a knee injury as he prepares to play his part for Real Madrid in LaLiga's title run-in.

Spain international Asensio is yet to feature this term after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament and lateral meniscus in his left knee in pre-season.

The 24-year-old underwent successful surgery in August but has only now returned to training with the campaign paused amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Asensio, who played 44 times in 2018-19, is delighted to be back.

"I feel very good," he told Realmadrid TV. "The first week was different when I returned to training, being with my team-mates.

"My adaptation has been good. The knee is responding well and the truth is that I am physically very well.

"The wait has been very long. I have worked a lot and, above all, I have had a lot of patience, because seeing your colleagues train every day while being in the physiotherapy room was something that hurt me a lot.

"I am already with my colleagues in the field and that is the important thing. The wait was worth it."

Asensio's attentions can now turn to matters on the field, with Madrid two points behind rivals Barcelona in the table with 11 matches to play.

Los Blancos must also overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit against Manchester City in the last 16 of the Champions League.

"We really want LaLiga to start and to face those games that decide a title," Asensio said. "We know that they are life-or-death matches.

"Every game we have to face it to the fullest, and we are going to try to win everything we have left."

Manchester United star Paul Pogba returning to Juventus is apparently shaping as impossible.

Pogba, 27, has been linked with a move away from Old Trafford, with Juventus and Real Madrid reportedly interested in landing the midfielder.

But it seems the Serie A giants will find such a deal impossible.

 

TOP STORY – POGBA RETURNING TO JUVENTUS IS IMPOSSIBLE

Pogba leaving Manchester United to return to Juventus is looking impossible, according to Sport and Corriere dello Sport.

Sport says the Bianconeri cannot afford the €100million (£89m) United would want for the France international.

Pogba left Juve to join United for £89m (€105m) in 2016.

ROUND-UP

- James Rodriguez is pushing for a stay in the Spanish capital. Mundo Deportivo reports the Real Madrid playmaker is determined to sign for Atletico Madrid.

- Real Madrid may be looking for a back-up in his position, but Casemiro is seemingly going nowhere. Marca claims the midfielder recently extended his contract until 2023.

- Odion Ighalo is set for a return to China. The Mirror reports the striker is expecting to go back to Shanghai Shenhua from his loan spell at Manchester United after just eight appearances for the Premier League club, with the Chinese Super League side demanding he returns. Goal says United will focus on RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner and Lyon's Moussa Dembele with Ighalo leaving.

- Forget trying to land Ansu Fati this close season. According to Sport, Barcelona will keep the 17-year-old, who is reportedly wanted by Borussia Dortmund and Premier League clubs.

- Newcastle United are looking at signing Liverpool midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri if they are taken over, according to the Daily Mail.

- It seems Adam Lallana is set to leave Liverpool when his contract expires at the end of the season. The Mirror reports Burnley have joined the fight for the midfielder, who is also said to be a target for Leicester City, Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham.

Steffen Freund believes Jadon Sancho is good enough to play for Liverpool or Manchester United but warned the winger he risks becoming the next Luka Jovic if he leaves Borussia Dortmund too soon.

Manchester City academy product Sancho, 20, has been linked with a move back to the Premier League after scoring and assisting a combined 30 goals for Dortmund in the Bundesliga this season.

However, former BVB midfielder Freund cited the example of Real Madrid flop Jovic as to how a big-money move to a new club at such a young age can hamper a player's development.

Jovic starred in the German top flight with Eintracht Frankfurt last season with 17 goals, but the 22-year-old has scored only twice in an underwhelming debut campaign in Madrid and has been linked with a move away.

Freund, who spent five years with Dortmund from 1993, is worried Sancho's career could go the same way if he makes the wrong choice when the transfer window opens for business.

"Jadon is ready to play for Liverpool or Man United, no question, because his stats are unbelievable. That shows that he can take the next step," he told talkSPORT.

"In the Borussia Dortmund side with [Erling] Haaland, [Julian] Brandt improving, with Emre Can signing, with changing to a back three – that suits Sancho.

"It would be good for him to play for Borussia Dortmund now and next year so that he will have more match time.

"He's only 20, so why not play for Borussia Dortmund? We're not talking about Freiburg or Paderborn; we're talking about Borussia Dortmund, one of the top 20 clubs in Europe.

"Remember Jovic, who moved to Real Madrid from Eintracht Frankfurt – he's not playing. If you have an offer from Real Madrid you think, 'I have to go'.

"No, you don't have to go because the salaries in the Bundesliga are on a good level, too – not as much as Real Madrid or the Premier League, though.

"But you can earn good money and improve and not make too much of a big step at once.

"So, for Jadon to move to Man United with that pressure, they are struggling to qualify for the Champions League, so maybe it's better to stay another year in Dortmund."

Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc revealed last month he does not believe any teams will risk spending big for Sancho amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to clubs across the world facing a significant loss of earnings.

Freund has suggested it may be best for any interested parties to hold off from tabling an offer for the English youngster, who is reportedly valued well in excess of €100million, until BVB feel forced to cash in.

"If the offer comes in and the people from Borussia Dortmund think it's right then they will sell him," he said.

"With the coronavirus, if something goes wrong in the Bundesliga and we can't see football until the end of the year, then it's not the right moment to talk about players, they cost so much money.

"I think the price will drop anyway. All the clubs in Germany are losing a lot of money.

"It's not the same without money from tickets and sponsors and so it'll be difficult to keep your best players."

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale does not understand why he is so heavily criticised for playing golf and insists his love of the sport makes him a better footballer.

Bale has faced scrutiny in Spain for thinking too much about golf and not playing for Madrid, where he has been plagued by numerous injury issues in recent years.

The Wales international has been nicknamed 'the Golfer' by his Madrid team-mates and riled his own fans in November when posing with a flag that read "Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order".

However, Bale has defended his decision to regularly tee it up and pointed to the example set by Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, who also shares a passion for golf and has previously played on the Korn Ferry Tour.

"A lot of people have problems with me playing golf, I don't know what the reason is," he told the Erik Anders Lang Show podcast. "I've spoken to doctors and everybody's fine with it.

"The media have this perception that it's not good for me: 'You should be resting, it can cause problems, injuries.' In America, I know Steph Curry plays maybe on the morning of a game. 

"Here, if I play two days before a game it's like, 'What's he doing?'

"I just like going out to play, thinking I've got 18 holes ahead of me. You can get away from the football, away from anything negative that's going on, and reset your mind.

"The next day you feel a bit more fresh and ready to go and concentrate and feel better about football again."

Bale is back in training with Madrid ahead of LaLiga's planned return on June 11, three months on from the season being brought to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic.

And despite an underwhelming return of two goals and two assists in 14 league appearances in 2019-20, the 30-year-old is content with his performances this term.

"The thing with football now is everything is based around results. That's the problem," he said. 

"You might play amazingly, not score for five games and everyone says, 'He's having a terrible time.'

"People just like goals, assists, 'wow' things. And sometimes that doesn't always happen. I've played terribly, then I've scored two goals, and everyone says, 'Great game.'

"People can have their own opinions, as long as I know I've tried my best and I've played as well as I can then I'm happy with that."

Manchester City look set to have to fill a void in their squad.

Germany international Leroy Sane is tipped to swap City for Bayern Munich.

And Leon Bailey has reportedly emerged as a target for City.

 

TOP STORY – SANE OUT, BAILEY IN AT CITY?

Manchester City are targeting Bayer Leverkusen's Leon Bailey as a replacement for Leroy Sane, according to the Daily Mail.

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich are hoping to sign City star Sane in the off-season.

Should Sane complete his return to Germany, Bailey has been identified by Pep Guardiola's City.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tuttosport claims Juventus have warned Paul Pogba he will have to accept a drastic cut to his salary if the Manchester United star is to return to the Serie A champions. Pogba has been linked with former club Juve and LaLiga giants Real Madrid. The Red Devils have reportedly re-opened the door to Juve over a possible deal.

Luka Jovic wants to stay at the Santiago Bernabeu and turn things around with Madrid, reports Marca. The Serbia forward, who has struggled since arriving from Eintracht Frankfurt, has emerged as a target for Milan.

- Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik is pushing for a move to Juve, says Calciomercato. The Poland international is a free agent in 2021 and is valued at €40million by Napoli, though he is hoping to lower the club's demands.

Juve are desperately trying to convince Arthur to leave Barcelona for Turin, according to Mundo Deportivo. Juve want Arthur to replace Miralem Pjanic, who is reportedly close to swapping clubs.

- Onda Cero says Barca could recall Philippe Coutinho from his loan spell at Bayern. With Bayern opting not to exercise their option to purchase Coutinho, the Brazilian could find himself back at Camp Nou ahead of LaLiga's proposed resumption.

Inter have been in contact with Edinson Cavani's entourage over a move to San Siro, says Calciomercato. Paris Saint-Germain forward Cavani is coming out of contract and could replace Inter star Lautaro Martinez, who is wanted by Barca.

- The Daily Mail claims Barca will listen to loan offers for Ousmane Dembele. The injury-prone Frenchman has previously been linked to PSG, Juve, Arsenal, United and Liverpool.

Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde is eyeing LaLiga glory following the coronavirus outbreak.

LaLiga has been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though the league is hoping to resume in June.

Madrid were two points behind defending champions and bitter rivals Barcelona through 27 matches at the time of postponement.

Coronavirus has wreaked havoc in Spain and across the globe, and Madrid star Valverde told Real Madrid TV: "We must keep on training hard for the rest of the season and hopefully we will win the league.

"I'm looking forward to representing this jersey again and showing why we're here and fighting for the goal of being champions.

"We have to be professional, eat and take good care of ourselves and train together. This is something we can do together, not only the team but the whole country, supporting us and going forward with a lot of strength. We have to train hard and support each other so that we are all ready when the games return."

Madrid had also lost 2-1 to Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu in the opening leg of their Champions League last-16 tie before the season came to a halt.

The Champions League could return in August and Uruguayan Valverde added: "We have the desire, the will and the excitement to go back to that game and fight to turn it around in order to qualify. We can never lack drive at this club to go for everything."

 

Neymar's return to Barcelona could be getting a little closer.

The Paris Saint-Germain star continues to be linked with a return to Camp Nou, where he left in 2017 for a world-record €222million.

While there is uncertainty over whether Barcelona can get a deal done, it seems it may be getting closer.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR CLOSER TO BARCELONA RETURN AS PSG EYE DEMBELE

Paris Saint-Germain remain very interested in signing Ousmane Dembele and it could help Neymar return to Barcelona, according to Sport.

France international Dembele has struggled with injuries since joining Barca from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, but the former Rennes attacker could be set for a return to his homeland.

However, Marca reports Neymar is not a priority for Barcelona with their focus on Inter star Lautaro Martinez and Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic.

Staying at Barcelona and Sport says the club are following Hertha Berlin's 18-year-old midfielder Lazar Samardzic.

 

ROUND-UP

- Timo Werner starred again for RB Leipzig on Sunday with a hat-trick against Mainz in the Bundesliga. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp held a virtual meeting with the forward in recent weeks, according to journalist Raphael Honigstein.

- With Bayern Munich deciding not to buy Philippe Coutinho, the Barcelona attacker's future remains unclear. Le 10 Sport reports Arsenal want to start talks with the playmaker's agent, with head coach Mikel Arteta dreaming of signing the Brazil international.

- Toni Kroos looks set to finish his career at Real Madrid. AS reports the 30-year-old midfielder has no interest in leaving Madrid, where he is contracted until 2023, amid links to MLS and the Chinese Super League.

- Odion Ighalo's Manchester United career may be over already. According to the Daily Mail, Shanghai Shenhua have rejected the Premier League club's requests to keep the forward – who has scored four goals in eight games for United – on loan for another three months.

- Could Raul Jimenez leave Wolves for Juventus? Todofichajes reports Juve offered Adrien Rabiot plus €30m (£26.7m) for the star forward.

- Less than a year after leaving Newcastle United, Rafael Benitez is being linked with a return. Benitez, now coach of Dalian Professional in China, wants to return to the club if their proposed takeover is resolved, and sign Manchester City defender John Stones and Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley.

Former Real Madrid midfielder Uli Stielike would prefer the LaLiga giants targeted "humble players" ahead of signing Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba.

Pogba, 27, has regularly been linked with a move to Madrid, while the midfielder is also reportedly a target for former club Juventus.

Stielike, who won three LaLiga titles and numerous other trophies as a Madrid player in the 1970s and '80s, said the club should only go after Pogba if they were returning to the days of the Galacticos in the early 2000s.

"If you want to return to the idea of the galactics, maybe yes," he told AS.

"But I am more in favour of humble players with great talent and sacrifice for the team."

Madrid lost plenty of star power just two years ago, when Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus.

After a spectacular career at the Santiago Bernabeu, Ronaldo left Madrid for Juventus before the 2018-19 season, a campaign during which the LaLiga side had three coaches and won just the Club World Cup.

Stielike said any club would struggle to replace a player like Ronaldo.

"There is only one Cristiano," he said.

"That's why I see that any team needs a certain adaptation time when a fundamental piece is gone."

Thibaut Courtois admits he and Eden Hazard discussed the prospect of joining Real Madrid while still at Chelsea. 

Belgium international Courtois made the move to Madrid in 2018 and was joined at the Santiago Bernabeu by compatriot Hazard 12 months later.

Both players publicly flirted with the Spanish giants before making the switch and Courtois says he openly talked about playing for Madrid with Hazard.

"In the Chelsea dressing room, we spoke about the possibility of playing here," he told El Mundo.

"'The White House, the White House' we said. It was nice to speculate about it.

"Now, we are very eager to win trophies here."

Hazard has been limited to just 15 appearances for Madrid since arriving in a reported €100million deal due to injury and fitness problems.

The 29-year-old broke his ankle prior to the LaLiga campaign being suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, but he has used the near-three-month hiatus as a chance to fully recover in time for the planned restart in mid-June.

"Hazard is back and with a lot of energy," Courtois added.

"The stoppage has enabled him to get fit again. He can help us win the title. He is a key player for us."

Real Madrid trail leaders Barcelona by two points with 11 games to play.

Iker Casillas revealed a regret about the way he said goodbye to Real Madrid as he promised to return. 

The great Spanish goalkeeper played his final match for Madrid five years ago this weekend, leaving the club to join Porto. 

He left at the age of 34 after a 16-year first-team career at the Santiago Bernabeu, but to this day Casillas is sorry for the solitary nature of his exit. 

"I've rarely spoken about my departure from Real Madrid," Casillas wrote on Instagram. 

"I gave a press conference alone, a mistake, and I left. 5 years have passed since then. 5 years since I crossed the border that took me to our neighbouring country: Portugal. 

"I needed to feel something different again. Having a new environment, giving up being so exposed to criticism and wanting to improve. 

"So friends, all players (whether good or bad) want to improve. And for this you have to improve the physical and the mental side. And the latter was important. In Porto I felt it again. Let them not tell you other things." 

Casillas posted his message in the early hours of Sunday, accompanied by a picture of himself from his final match for Madrid, a 7-3 victory against Getafe on May 23, 2015. 

His message added: "I already knew it was going to be my last game. The Last Match. #iwillcomeback #madrid #buenasnochesmundo" 

Casillas said in February he intended to stand as a candidate in the next elections to decide the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF). 

He suffered a heart attack in training with Porto last May and has since retired as a player. 

Over his career, he made 167 appearances for Spain and captained his country to success at the 2010 World Cup and the European Championships of 2008 and 2012. 

With Madrid, his honours included five LaLiga titles and three Champions League successes. 

Real Madrid have two reasons to remember May 24 fondly, while cricketer Nasser Hussain is also unlikely to ever forget the date.

Madrid have lifted the Champions League trophy twice on this day in sporting history, beating familiar opponents on both occasions.

As for Hussain, the former England batsman bowed out with a final innings that was perfectly scripted (well, except for his involvement in an untimely run out).

Take a look back at the major moments to occur through the years.

 

2000 - Madrid prevail in all-Spain final 

Madrid and Valencia made Champions League history in Paris, as two clubs from the same country met in the final of Europe's premier club competition for the first time.

Valencia had reached the showpiece at the expense of Barcelona, including thrashing their LaLiga rivals 4-1 in the first leg of the semi-final on their way to a 5-3 aggregate triumph (the same scoreline by which they had knocked out Lazio in the previous round).

However, Vicente del Bosque's Madrid ran out comfortable winners on French soil, Fernando Morientes, Steve McManaman and Raul with the goals in a resounding 3-0 triumph.

2000 - Pistons legend Thomas rewarded 

A two-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star, Isiah Thomas was honoured for his achievements with a place in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The point guard was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the second pick in the 1981 draft and went on to spend his entire playing career with the franchise, who retired his No.11 jersey.

Thomas played in 979 regular season games and was the focal point of the Detroit teams that won titles in 1989 and 1990, while the Pistons also had a heated rivalry with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the early 1990s.

Bob McAdoo, a two-time champion himself who was a prolific scorer in a 21-year playing career, was also voted in alongside Thomas.

2004 - Hussain signs out in style

In what would prove to be his final innings, Hussain scored an unbeaten hundred to help England beat New Zealand at Lord's.

The Black Caps had left the hosts needing a tough target of 282 in the final innings of the series opener - and they had England wobbling early at 35-2 following the dismissals of Marcus Trescothick and Mark Butcher.

Debutant Andrew Strauss combined with Hussain to put on a century stand before the former was run out following a mix-up with his senior batting partner, denying the left-hander - playing on his home ground - the possibility of scoring a century in both innings, as he departed for 83.

Hussain, however, made amends for his role in Strauss' dismissal by going on to reach three figures in a seven-wicket triumph. Three days later, he announced his retirement, swiftly moving from the field of play to the commentary box to start a career in the media.

2014 - Madrid derby sees Real clinch 'La Decima'

A 10th European title finally arrived for Madrid, though not without a dramatic late intervention from Sergio Ramos. Having not won the Champions League since 2002, they appeared set to fall at the final hurdle when they trailed city rivals Atletico 1-0 going into added time in Lisbon.

Diego Godin's first-half header had the newly crowned LaLiga champions on the brink of glory, but Ramos popped up to meet a Luka Modric corner and nod in a last-gasp equaliser.

Carlo Ancelotti's side went on to dominate in extra time, goals from Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored from the penalty spot, sealing a 4-1 triumph.

To rub salt in the wounds for Atletico, boss Diego Simeone was sent off before the final whistle having ran onto the pitch to confront Raphael Varane following an incident in the aftermath to Ronaldo's goal.

LaLiga moved a step closer to a resumption with Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez announcing games can be played from the week commencing June 8.

The decision clears the top flight for a return to action next month, with LaLiga president Javier Tebas previously aiming for Friday, June 12.

"Spain has done what it should and now new horizons are opening for everyone," Sanchez said on Saturday. "The time has come to resume many daily activities. From June 8, LaLiga will return to football."

There are 11 rounds of the 2019-20 season remaining, with much to be decided at the top and bottom end of the table. 

Below is the full list of fixtures:

 

Matchweek 28

Athletic Bilbao v Atletico Madrid
Celta Vigo v Villarreal
Espanyol v Deportivo Alaves
Granada v Getafe
Leganes v Real Valladolid
Real Mallorca v Barcelona
Real Madrid v Eibar
Real Sociedad v Osasuna
Sevilla v Real Betis
Valencia v Levante

Matchweek 29

Deportivo Alaves v Real Sociedad
Barcelona v Leganes
Real Betis v Granada 
Eibar v Athletic Bilbao
Getafe v Espanyol
Levante v Sevilla
Osasuna v Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid v Valencia
Villarreal v Real Mallorca
Real Valladolid v Celta Vigo

Matchweek 30

Athletic Bilbao v Real Betis  
Atletico Madrid v Real Valladolid
Celta Vigo v Deportivo Alaves
Espanyol v Levante
Getafe v Eibar
Granada v Villarreal
Real Mallorca v Leganes
Real Sociedad v Real Madrid
Sevilla v Barcelona
Valencia v Osasuna

Matchweek 31 

Deportivo Alaves v Osasuna
Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao
Real Betis v Espanyol
Eibar v Valencia
Leganes v Granada
Levante v Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid v Real Mallorca
Real Sociedad v Celta Vigo
Villarreal v Sevilla
Real Valladolid v Getafe

Matchweek 32

Athletic Bilbao v Real Mallorca
Atletico Madrid v Deportivo Alaves
Celta Vigo v Barcelona
Espanyol v Real Madrid
Getafe v Real Sociedad
Granada v Eibar
Levante v Real Betis 
Osasuna v Leganes
Sevilla v Real Valladolid
Villarreal v Valencia

Matchweek 33

Deportivo Alaves v Granada 
Barcelona v Atletico Madrid
Real Betis v Villarreal
Eibar v Osasuna
Leganes v Sevilla
Real Mallorca v Celta Vigo
Real Madrid v Getafe
Real Sociedad v Espanyol
Valencia v Athletic Bilbao 
Real Valladolid v Levante

Matchweek 34

Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid 
Atletico Madrid v Real Mallorca
Celta Vigo v Real Betis
Espanyol v Leganes
Granada v Valencia  
Levante v Real Sociedad
Osasuna v Getafe
Sevilla v Eibar
Villarreal v Barcelona
Real Valladolid v Deportivo Alaves

Matchweek 35

Athletic Bilbao v Sevilla
Barcelona v Espanyol
Real Betis v Osasuna
Celta Vigo v Atletico Madrid
Eibar v Leganes
Getafe v Villarreal
Real Mallorca v Levante
Real Madrid v Deportivo Alaves
Real Sociedad v Granada
Valencia v Real Valladolid

Matchweek 36

Deportivo Alaves v Getafe
Atletico de Madrid v Real Betis
Espanyol v Eibar
Granada v Real Madrid
Leganes v Valencia
Levante v Athletic Bilbao 
Osasuna v Celta Vigo
Sevilla v Real Mallorca
Villarreal v Real Sociedad
Real Valladolid v Barcelona

Matchweek 37

Athletic Bilbao v Leganes
Barcelona v Osasuna
Real Betis v Deportivo Alaves
Celta Vigo v Levante
Eibar v Real Valladolid
Getafe v Atletico Madrid
Real Mallorca v Granada
Real Madrid v Villarreal
Real Sociedad v Sevilla
Valencia v Espanyol

Matchweek 38

Deportivo Alaves v Barcelona
Atletico Madrid v Real Sociedad
Espanyol v Celta Vigo
Granada v Athletic Bilbao 
Leganes v Real Madrid
Levante v Getafe
Osasuna v Real Mallorca
Sevilla v Valencia
Villarreal v Eibar
Real Valladolid v Real Betis

After the Bundesliga's successful return, LaLiga looks to be up next among Europe's top five leagues.

Spain's top flight has been suspended since March 12 after Real Madrid went into quarantine when a player on their basketball team tested positive for coronavirus.

A resumption date of June 8 has been approved, however, and a tense title tussle is back on the cards between the country's two grandest clubs.

Ahead of the big kick-off behind closed doors, we take a look at the story so far in this LaLiga campaign.
 

What is the state of play?

Madrid have won the domestic league title in just one of the past seven seasons, yet they are poised to push Barcelona all the way this time.

It is Barca who again have the advantage for now, though, holding a two-point lead over their bitter rivals, having reclaimed top spot ahead of the suspension when Zinedine Zidane's side lost at Real Betis.

Defeat in Seville represented a bitter blow for Madrid, who seemed to have seized the initiative by beating the Blaugrana at the Santiago Bernabeu the previous week.

The big two still have work to do in the Champions League - Madrid trail Manchester City after a last-16 first leg, as Barca-Napoli stands at 1-1 - but there is no third horse in the race positioned to take advantage.

It is all to play for in the race for Champions League qualification, as just two points separate third-placed Sevilla and Atletico Madrid in sixth.

Shot-shy draw kings Atleti upset holders Liverpool to reach the quarter-finals of Europe's elite club competition, but must battle past Real Sociedad and Getafe to be assured of a return to the big time next season.

At the foot of the table, Espanyol, Leganes and Real Mallorca occupy the relegation places. Celta Vigo are a point clear of Mallorca in 17th.
 

What have been the big controversies?

Even by Barca's colourful standards, this has been a particularly tumultuous season.

Head coach Ernesto Valverde was sacked in January following a Supercopa de Espana semi-final reverse at the hands of Atletico, and sporting director Eric Abidal bravely picked a fight with the squad, including former team-mate Lionel Messi, by suggesting players were not working hard enough for the dismissed boss.

Messi fired back and claimed Abidal was "dirtying" the squad, with reports of discontent behind the scenes persisting ever since.

To make matters worse for Barca, club great Messi has a clause in his contract that could prompt a free transfer - although such a departure still seems incredibly unlikely.

Ivan Rakitic is among the Blaugrana stars who might well depart, reminding the club: "I am not a sack of potatoes. I will decide my future. I want to be where I am valued."

Sales are said to be required to fund potential big-money bids for Lautaro Martinez and ex-Barca forward Neymar.
 

Who had momentum before everything stopped?

New head coach Quique Setien was not immediately able to arrest Barca's January slump and they ceded top spot to Madrid after a run of just two wins in six in the league.

However, the Catalan giants had been a picture of consistency since the January 25 loss at Valencia - until visiting Madrid.

A run of four straight wins was ended by Zidane's men, yet Barca were back on track when they beat Sociedad prior to the pause in play.

Madrid, by contrast, have taken just four points from their past four games, with the Barca game sandwiched between a pair of defeats. Los Blancos had previously lost just once in the league this term.

The suspension came at a frustrating time for Sociedad, meanwhile, after four wins in five - losing only to the leaders - moved the Basque outfit into the top four.

Wins for Leganes and Mallorca in their most recent fixtures ensured both sides retained survival hopes.
 

Which clubs have had it toughest during the COVID-19 months?

The positive test for a Madrid basketball players may have prompted the season's suspension, but Valencia were the LaLiga club most prominent in early discussion of coronavirus.

Ezequiel Garay, Jose Gaya and Eliaquim Mangala each confirmed diagnoses, before Los Che revealed on March 16 that 35 per cent of those at the club tested had returned positive results.

Madrid still made the headlines, though, as forward Luka Jovic was criticised for breaching self-isolation measures on his return to Serbia.

Fifteen cases were soon confirmed at Deportivo Alaves, too, while Spain has become one of the worst-affected countries with more than 28,000 related deaths.

The country's leading players at least helped to limit the financial impact of the crisis with pay cuts, with Barca stars forgoing more than 70 per cent of their wages.

The LaLiga season can resume in the week commencing June 8, Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez has announced.

Sanchez made his declaration as he addressed a range of coronavirus issues on Saturday.

LaLiga officials have been looking to Friday, June 12 as the date on which they want the league to return, and they can now push towards that target.

Sanchez said: "Spain has done what it should and now new horizons are opening for everyone. The time has come to resume many daily activities. From June 8, LaLiga will return to football."

Clubs have returned to training, although social distancing rules have been followed and full group sessions have not yet been able to take place.

Matches will have to be played behind closed doors, but Sanchez's announcement should allow the 2019-20 season to play to a completion.

When the league was suspended in March, Barcelona held a two-point lead over Real Madrid at the top of the table, with every team having 11 games still to play.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas said earlier this week he was "excited" about the prospect of matches returning. He stressed they could only proceed with clearance from health authorities, but the go-ahead from Sanchez means Spanish football will soon be up and running once more.

Until now, players have only been allowed to train in groups of 10 or fewer.

Reports on Thursday said LaLiga would restart on June 12 with a derby clash between Real Betis and Sevilla.

Mauro Icardi seemingly has no future at Inter.

But Icardi is wanted in Paris, where the Argentina international has spent the 2019-20 season on loan.

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly looking to sign Icardi permanently.

 

TOP STORY – PSG LODGE ICARDI BID

Paris Saint-Germain have offered Inter €50million to secure loanee Mauro Icardi on a permanent basis, according to Sky Sports.

Out of favour at Serie A outfit Inter, the forward was loaned to Ligue 1 champions PSG at the start of the season.

Icardi's loan deal included a €70m purchase option but PSG are determined to negotiate, with Juventus reportedly interested.

 

ROUND-UP

- Mundo Deportivo reports Barcelona full-back Nelson Semedo is prioritising a move to Manchester City. Semedo has been linked with a switch to City – a transfer which would see Joao Cancelo swap clubs. Juve are also reportedly eyeing Semedo but the Portugal international wants to leave Camp Nou for the Premier League.

Lucas Hernandez to Newcastle United? Bild says the Premier League outfit are considering a move for the Bayern Munich defender ahead of their proposed takeover.

- According to ESPN, Bayern are eyeing Manchester United target and Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho. The England international has also been linked to Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barca.

Juve, Chelsea, City and Bayern are interested in Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, says Sport. However, the German is poised to sign a contract renewal with the LaLiga holders.

- Calciomercato claims Milan are moving closer to signing Marseille's 20-year-old defender Boubacar Kamara.

- Everton and Newcastle are both tracking Napoli forward Hirving Lozano, according to Corriere dello Sport. The Mexico international only arrived from PSV at the start of the season.

Inter remain interested in Fiorentina star Federico Chiesa, says Calciomercato. While Brescia's Sandro Tonali is at the top of the list for Inter, Chiesa has not been forgotten about in Milan.

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