Ernesto Valverde is facing a big week at Barcelona.

Valverde is under pressure early in the season after Barca slumped to a 2-0 loss at Granada to be left with just seven points from their opening five games of the LaLiga season.

Now, the next week is shaping as crucial for Valverde.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA PLAYERS LOSING CONFIDENCE IN VALVERDE

Several Barcelona players have started to lose confidence in Valverde, according to ESPN.

With seven points from five league games, Barcelona have made their worst start to a season since 1994-95.

Monday's cover of Sport says Valverde needs an urgent reaction, with his side hosting Villarreal on Tuesday and visiting Getafe four days later.

 

ROUND-UP

Barcelona are keeping an eye on Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz. Barca's sporting director Eric Abidal was present as Fabian scored in Napoli's 4-1 win over Lecce on Saturday, according to Calciomercato.

AC Milan want to strengthen at right-back and are considering Tottenham defender Serge Aurier, according to Sportmediaset, amid suggestions Andrea Conti is struggling to impress.

Jose Mourinho has had chances to return to management and the former Real Madrid and Manchester United boss apparently turned down a surprise opportunity last year. Fichajes reports Boca Juniors tried to convince Mourinho to take over, but the Portuguese tactician said he was not yet ready to leave Europe.

Everton have made a slow start to the Premier League season and are assessing ways to strengthen their attack. The Daily Express reports they are interested in signing Yussuf Poulsen from RB Leipzig. The Denmark international scored 15 Bundesliga goals last season.

Mauro Icardi said he left Inter for Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain to win titles.

Icardi moved to PSG on an initial season-long loan, with the French giants reportedly holding the option to buy the striker for €70million.

The 26-year-old, who arrived at Inter from Sampdoria in 2013, scored 111 Serie A goals and 124 goals in all competitions to be eighth on the Nerazzurri's all-time list.

Icardi – stripped of the Inter captaincy last season and frozen out by head coach Antonio Conte – said the time was right to leave San Siro.

"I came here to play," Icardi told Canal+. "If you arrive with an option to buy, you know the player has to give his best to ensure the club decides to purchase him outright. We'll see what happens next summer.

"I was in my seventh year at Inter and my dream was to play in the Champions League with Inter, which I did last season, but we never won anything.

"I thought the time had come for me to go to a winning club, one that could challenge for and win titles. It's time for me to start winning.

"The truth is that PSG is a squad full of champions and that is what I wanted."

Icardi made his debut in PSG's 1-0 win over Strasbourg on September 14 before starting in last week's memorable 3-0 Champions League victory against Real Madrid.

However, the Argentina international missed Sunday's late triumph at Ligue 1 rivals Lyon.

"People call me a 'killer' in the penalty area. I am always ready in the box to score goals," Icardi added. "Ever since my debut when very young for Rosario, my objective and obsession has always been to score goals."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is at the wheel but for how long?

After a blistering start to life at Manchester United, initially as interim manager, the Red Devils have struggled to convince.

United have won two of their opening five games ahead of Sunday's trip to West Ham and Paris could be the location of a possible replacement…

 

TOP STORY – UNITED AND BARCA BATTLE FOR TUCHEL

Manchester United have sounded out Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel, according to Le10 Sport.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer signed a permanent three-year deal after initially replacing Jose Mourinho in December, but the Red Devils have been far from convincing following a brief upturn in results.

United have reportedly informed Tuchel of their interest, though LaLiga champions Barcelona are also tracking the German as pressure mounts on Ernesto Valverde after Saturday's shock loss at Granada.

 

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- According to the Sunday Express, Tottenham have identified Leicester City star James Maddison as a potential replacement for soon-to-be free agent Christian Eriksen. Maddison has also been heavily linked to Manchester United.

United, meanwhile, have been told it will take £90million (€101m) to lure Germany star Kai Havertz from Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, claims the Express. The 20-year-old is also attracting interest from Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Liverpool. As for United and their hopes of signing RB Salzburg star Erling Haaland, they could be scuppered by agent Mino Raiola. The 19-year-old made headlines with a hat-trick on his Champions League debut. However, United's relationship with Raiola could thwart their plans, writes The Sun.

- The Mirror says Arsenal are keen to re-sign PSV's Donyell Malen, who left the Gunners two years ago. It could cost Arsenal up to £50m (€56m) to bring the 20-year-old back to London. Liverpool are also believed to be interested.

- Marca reports that Real Madrid are keen to sign Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga. The 16-year-old has dazzled in Ligue 1 this season.

Paul Pogba will not be leaving Manchester United even if Real Madrid rekindle their interest when the transfer window reopens, says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Pogba was reportedly a top target for Madrid and their French coach Zinedine Zidane prior to the new campaign, but they failed to land the World Cup winner.

Madrid have since made a stumbling start to the new campaign, while president Florentino Perez has hinted they could return for Pogba in January.

The midfielder, who had a difficult relationship with Solskjaer's predecessor as United boss Jose Mourinho, is currently sidelined by injury.

But Solskjaer reiterated Pogba's commitment to Old Trafford, even though the 26-year-old said after the end of the 2018-19 season he wanted a new challenge.

Agent Mino Raiola then indicated he was working on engineering a transfer for Pogba, but Solskjaer is certain United will continue to hold their prized asset.

"I don't listen to the president of Real Madrid," Solskjaer told reporters ahead of Sunday's Premier League trip to West Ham.

"But Paul is working hard here and he is totally committed to Manchester United. We have seen that while he's been injured. He has been working like crazy to get himself fit because he wants to play for us and he wants to help his team-mates.

"I am not worried now and I will never be worried in the future about Paul Pogba staying here. If it all kicks off again with Madrid in January then there will be no worries then either. If we have to live with the speculation again then we will handle it like we did in the summer.

"Paul is going nowhere. He is happy here when he's playing."

Pogba's mentality has occasionally been called into question since he returned to Old Trafford from Juventus in 2016, but Solskjaer has no doubts the midfielder is a good fit for his team.

"You need a big personality to play for Man United,” said Solskjaer, according to British newspapers. "You need a certain kind of confidence and arrogance and you have to be self-assured enough to be yourself in both the good times and the bad times.

"Paul Pogba is all of those things. He is one of our big characters. Paul will walk out onto any pitch and be full of confidence – and that's what I look for and what I demand from all of our players.

"It's not misplaced arrogance with Paul. It's about believing in himself. It's about the respect he has for his team-mates and his opponents."

Declan Rice has insisted he would not have signed a long-term contract with West Ham if he was targeting a move to Manchester United.

England international Rice agreed a new deal at the London Stadium in December, tying him to the Hammers until 2024.

Speculation over his future still arose during the close season as United reportedly considered making an approach amid a concerted effort from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to refresh his squad.

But as the clubs prepare to meet in the Premier League this weekend, midfielder Rice made his loyalties clear.

"I've signed a long-term, five-year contract last season and if I didn't want to sign it, I wouldn't have done it," Rice told The Mirror.

"It makes me a West Ham player for the next five years and I'll be giving my best for the team and the supporters.

"All I can do is to keep my head down, play my football and I'm not taking any notice of what's going on outside."

West Ham and the Red Devils are level on eight points ahead of Sunday's match, the two clubs having both won two of their opening five games.

Victory at home would boost the Hammers' belief of breaking into the European places this term, a stated aim under Manuel Pellegrini.

"As a club, we want to get into Europe and his track record says he usually gets there," Rice said.

"If we make it this season that's a bonus, but we need to keep pushing.

"We produced a great performance at home to beat United 3-1 last season. We know it's another massive game and a chance to move up the table.

"Every time we play the top clubs, we look forward to it and we know the place is going to be rocking on Sunday."

Zinedine Zidane is already under pressure at Real Madrid and his latest move displeased the LaLiga giants' board.

Madrid have made a slow start to the season, winning two of four LaLiga games and suffering a humbling defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

A decision Zidane made after that loss has reportedly upset the leaders at Madrid.

 

TOP STORY – ZIDANE ANGERS REAL MADRID BOARD WITH DECISION

Zidane's decision to give his players a day off on Thursday in the wake of their PSG defeat angered Real Madrid's board, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The latest report just adds to what has been a tough return to the Santiago Bernabeu for Zidane, back at the helm for a second stint.

With plenty of talk around his future, Sport reports it would cost Madrid €80million to sack Zidane, who signed a three-year deal in March.

 

ROUND-UP

- The man Zidane replaced, Santiago Solari, is close to landing a new job. Solari is the favourite to be the first coach of MLS side Inter Miami, according to beIN SPORTS.

- Juventus knew what they needed in the close season. Calciomercato says the Serie A champions prioritised the signing of Matthijs de Ligt for a reported €75m from Ajax over trying to land Joao Felix, who ended up at Atletico Madrid from Benfica.

- Nemanja Matic appears on the way out at Manchester United and Inter have been offered the midfielder, according to Calciomercato. However, the report says Matic is not a priority for Antonio Conte.

- Staying at Old Trafford and Manchester United are holding contract talks with 19-year-old midfielder Angel Gomes, according to the Manchester Evening News. Gomes is in the final year of his current deal and Barcelona are reportedly interested.

- Premier League clubs are on alert with Barcelona wanting to raise funds by selling midfielder Ivan Rakitic and defender Samuel Umtiti, according to the Daily Mail. The LaLiga giants are reportedly looking to raise at least €124m this season.

- AC Milan have held talks about possibly signing 20-year-old San Lorenzo forward Adolfo Gaich, according to Calciomercato. The Serie A side opted not to pursue a deal for the one-time Argentina international in the close season.

Diego Simeone dodged questions relating to Antoine Griezmann on Friday after reports claimed the France international negotiated a €14million signing-on fee with Barcelona while still an Atletico Madrid player.

Griezmann joined Barca in July when the Catalan club deposited the €120m to activate his release clause, which had dropped from €200m at the start of that month.

It brought an end to prolonged speculation about the attacker's future, though Atletico were adamant Barca and the player had struck some form of deal before July, meaning they felt they were owed a further €80m.

Barca insisted they only began negotiations in July, but Spanish newspaper El Mundo claimed on Thursday they had obtained evidence suggesting Griezmann discussed a commission in March.

Simeone was unwilling to address the matter in his pre-match news conference ahead of Saturday's visit of Celta Vigo, however.

"I'm thinking about Celta, I'm not interested in anything else," he told reporters.

"With all due respect to you, I understand the questions, but honestly, after playing on Wednesday we use the time to think about Celta.

"They have a reinforced team, the talent they have, the arrival of Rafinha, the presence of [Santi] Mina that creates an important attack. We are more focused on that.

"I understand your objective, but I've got mine."

New Atletico signing Renan Lodi received his first senior Brazil call-up on Friday, with the left-back having caught the eye during his early days at the club.

Although he was shown a red card on his LaLiga debut, he appears to have made the spot on the left of defence his own and Simeone is pleased with the 21-year-old's impact.

"He has been doing a great job since the first day he arrived," Simeone said. "He has extraordinary attributes that will grow with work.

"Hopefully he can maintain this situation of wanting to improve and I'm happy he's been selected by the national team."

France international Nabil Fekir insists he never hesitated when joining Real Betis, despite having been linked with bigger clubs.

Fekir, 26, joined Betis in July in a deal that could cost them almost €30million, having established himself as one of Ligue 1's biggest stars with Lyon.

His move came a year after a transfer to Liverpool reportedly fell through due to concerns over his knee, though he has since accused the Reds of creating that "excuse" in order to not sign him.

Fekir remained at Lyon for a further season and departed in search of a new challenge, becoming the central figure of a new era at Betis, essentially replacing Giovani Lo Celso after his move to Tottenham.

Despite many expressing surprise at Fekir leaving Lyon – who are in the Champions League – for a club not even in the Europa League, he insists he had no doubts about the switch.

Fekir told LaLiga: "I had a meeting with the board or directors and it went well, they explained to me the project they had.

"They wanted to be [near] the top of the table to qualify for Europe next season, I liked that and I did not hesitate one second.

"That [qualifying for Europe] will be complicated, but we are going to give our best. We have to be ambitious and I believe all players here are ambitious and we are all eager to play at the highest level, and the highest level is in Europe. We are going to give our all to achieve that.

"In Lyon I had a lot of freedom too, but I had been there a long time and I needed new challenges. I came here with great ambition and they paid a high amount for me, so I will give my all to show the level that they are expecting from me."

Fekir is one of six players to play in all of Betis' first four games of the season, with club icon Joaquin also accomplishing that despite turning 38 in pre-season.

The Betis captain's larger-than-life personality and penchant for a joke are renowned in Spanish football and Fekir is enjoying his company.

"He is very good, I have no complaints," the Frenchman said. "He gives us his good humour and it is important to have someone like him on the team that gives his support to everyone.

"He has a good spirit and the mood you always need to have, and in spite of being a 38-year-old, he still has great quality. You can see that on the pitch."

Shkodran Mustafi has no interest in entering a "war" with Arsenal after not getting a move in the close season.

Mustafi, 27, was told he could leave the Emirates Stadium despite being contracted until 2021, but no move eventuated.

The defender made his first appearance of the season on Thursday, playing 90 minutes in a 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League.

Mustafi said he would avoid causing problems at Arsenal, but admitted he was open to a move.

"My father, who is my agent, spoke to the club. I am an Arsenal player and I've still got two years [left on my] contract," he told Sport Bild.

"I've never been someone who begins a war when something doesn't work out. I always said if it is possible, I am open to taking the next step. If not, I keep playing my football.

"The manager said he sees me the same way he sees every player in the team. That's why I played today and that's it. We're going to see what the future holds."

With his playing time seemingly set to be limited in 2019-20, Mustafi said he was open to a switch to his homeland, Germany.

"I have got a wife and two kids, so they have to agree as well," he said. "When a German club shows interest and it suits me, then I am open for it."

Inter Miami have found their star signing, set to land Manchester City playmaker David Silva.

The MLS side, set to start playing next year, have been linked with numerous big names, with Barcelona star Lionel Messi among them.

But they appear to have found the man to lead them into their debut campaign.

 

TOP STORY – DAVID SILVA SET TO JOIN MLS SIDE INTER MIAMI

David Silva is likely to join Inter Miami at the end of the 2019-20 season, according to the Independent.

The 33-year-old has previously said this campaign would be his last with Manchester City, the club he arrived at in 2010.

David Beckham is a co-owner of Inter Miami and it seems they are set to land the star they have been chasing.

ROUND-UP

- Unsurprisingly, Erling Haaland's Champions League exploits have led to interest from a couple of Europe's biggest clubs. The RB Salzburg forward, 19, scored a hat-trick against Genk on Tuesday. Barcelona have watched Haaland previously, according to Mundo Deportivo, while The Sun reports Manchester United have also joined the race for the Norway international.

- Barcelona may be busy in January, but only with departures. Marca reports the LaLiga giants are not planning to make any signings despite continued interest in Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar, but are considering selling first-team players Ivan Rakitic, Samuel Umtiti and Arturo Vidal.

- Mason Greenwood is set to re-sign with Manchester United. The Sun reports the forward, who scored his first senior goal for the club in the Europa League on Thursday, will sign a new contract before his 18th birthday on October 1, taking his wages from £800 to £25,000 per week.

- Antoine Griezmann made the move from Atletico Madrid to Barcelona in the close season and the forward received quite the bonus. The France international landed a €14million commission to sign for Barcelona, according to El Mundo.

- Like Haaland, another RB Salzburg player is being chased by a Premier League club. Arsenal have made a fresh approach for playmaker Dominik Szoboszlai, according to The Sun, having also chased the 18-year-old Hungarian during the close season.

- There appears to be some tension at Inter. Romelu Lukaku and Marcelo Brozovic exchanged words in the dressing room and had to be separated by team-mates after a 1-1 Champions League draw at home to Slavia Prague on Tuesday, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Western Sydney Wanderers have signed 'God of Football' and former Eintracht Frankfurt star Alexander Meier.

Meier moves to the A-League club – coached by former Bayern Munich and Germany defender Markus Babbel – as a marquee, the Wanderers announced on Friday.

The 36-year-old attacker, who spent the second half of last season on loan at St Pauli, scored 137 goals during his 14 years with Eintracht – where he is the joint third highest scorer.

Meier, once nicknamed the 'God of Football', was also part of the Eintracht team, who were led by Niko Kovac, that stunned Bayern Munich in the 2017-18 DFB-Pokal final.

"I'm very excited to play in Australia and I can't wait to go on the plane tonight," Meier, who was the Bundesliga's top goalscorer in 2014-15, said via wswanderersfc.com.au.

"Markus told me how professional the club is and that they are very ambitious, and it is a great club to play for.

"I don't like to speak about myself, about what I can deliver, all I can say that is I will always give 100 per cent on and off the field.

"The most important thing for me is that as a team we all stand for each other, in bad and in good times, and the better the environment we create, success can come from this."

Barcelona chief executive Oscar Grau has confirmed Ernesto Valverde asked the club to buy Neymar, as the Spanish champions consider whether to make any future bids to Paris Saint-Germain.

Neymar was strongly linked with a return to Camp Nou, with PSG sporting director Leonardo confirming the Brazilian was for sale having asked to leave the French capital.

But despite Barca reportedly making a series of cash-plus-players offers to PSG, no deal could be completed before September 2's European transfer deadline.

Neymar scored on his first Ligue 1 appearance this term after failing to get his desired move, but PSG ultras have indicated he will not be welcomed back to the fray quickly.

Real Madrid have also long been linked with a move for Neymar, with Grau unwilling to say whether Barcelona will continue to pursue a deal for the Brazil forward.

"Neymar was a request from the sports area and the coach and the club did everything in order to get him, albeit in a financially sustainable way," Grau said on Thursday.

"We made many proposals to PSG. They always rejected them. I don't know if we are going to target him again next summer. Planning for next season will be done in the future.

"We would have been delighted to have the chance to bring Neymar back, but the terms always had to be reasonable.

"If some parameters had been accomplished, it would have been possible, but PSG were not happy about losing him."

Barca also missed out on Matthijs de Ligt, who opted not to follow his Netherlands team-mate Frenkie de Jong from Ajax to Camp Nou.

"We made him an offer, but he preferred to go to Juve, where Italian taxation allows him to earn a higher net salary," Grau added.

Manchester United will not give up on extending Paul Pogba's stay at Old Trafford.

Pogba, 26, was heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid during the close season, despite being contracted at United until 2021, with the club also reportedly holding the option for a further 12 months.

The LaLiga giants are reportedly still interested in the France midfielder, but United have plans of their own.

 

TOP STORY – POGBA CONTRACT A PRIORITY FOR MAN UNITED

Manchester United are looking to sign Pogba on a long-term deal, according to the Evening Standard.

New contracts for Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Mason Greenwood are priorities for the Premier League giants, the report says.

It comes after United re-signed goalkeeper David de Gea and defender Victor Lindelof.

ROUND-UP

- Amid tension with fellow goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Manuel Neuer is considering his Germany future. Bild reports Neuer, 33, could end his international career after Euro 2020.

- Barcelona teenager Ansu Fati is set to get a Spanish passport next Friday, according to AS. Portugal have reportedly made advances for the talented 16-year-old forward, but Fati looks set to be ready to feature for Spain at the Under-17 World Cup beginning in October.

- Luca Pellegrini may be on loan at Cagliari, but his future appears to be at Juventus. The Serie A champions are keen to keep the 20-year-old defender for the long-term, according to Calciomercato.

- Chelsea have received some good news on the injury front. The Sun and the Mirror report midfielder Mason Mount could face Liverpool on Sunday despite suffering an ankle sprain in Tuesday's Champions League loss to Valencia.

- Bayer Leverkusen decided to reward midfielder Kai Havertz in the close season. According to Bild, the Bundesliga club handed the five-time Germany international a wage increase from €2m to more than €5m per season.

- Paul Mitchell has opted against returning to the Premier League. Sky Sports News reports Mitchell will leave his role as head of recruitment and development at RB Leipzig at the end of the month to become technical director of Red Bull's global soccer division. The report says as many as four Premier League clubs were after the former Tottenham and Southampton recruitment chief.

Paul Pogba will not be a big loss to Manchester United should he leave, according to club great Paul Scholes.

Pogba announced at the end of the 2018-19 season that he wanted to depart Old Trafford, with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez recently confirming he tried to sign the France midfielder.

But a move failed to materialise and Pogba started the new Premier League campaign at United, though he is currently injured.

Scholes suggested the club may have asked Pogba to give them another year, similar to before Cristiano Ronaldo was allowed to join Madrid in 2009.

"I think it's quite clear he wants to move on," said Scholes, a 13-time Premier League winner during his career-long association with United.

"He wanted to go to Real Madrid, for whatever reason it didn't happen.

"I wouldn't be surprised if the same offer had been made like with Cristiano when he was at United.

"If they've asked him to stay for a year we'll see what happens, but I don't think he'll be a big loss to United.

"I don't think his form has been great anyway, over the two or three years he's been there. I'm sure there are more players who can do just as good a job."

United play their opening Europa League match against Astana on Thursday.

Pogba is expected to be sidelined by an ankle injury that caused him to miss international duty with World Cup winners France.

Virgil van Dijk says he is not in talks with Liverpool over a new contract.

Reports have suggested the Netherlands defender is close to signing a six-year deal at Anfield.

With Real Madrid and Barcelona said to be interested in the centre-back, fresh terms would see Van Dijk commit his long-term future to the European champions.

Van Dijk, though, has denied talks over a new contract are ongoing.

"There is nothing going on, so that's it," the 28-year-old told Sky Sports News.

Asked if he wanted a contract extension, Van Dijk added: "That's not on me. I saw some reports in the media that I was agreeing a new deal and stuff. But I'm not even discussing anything at the moment.

"The only thing I want to do right now is focus on the games and we'll see in the future what may happen."

Liverpool are five points clear atop the Premier League but lost the first game of their Champions League defence, going down 2-0 away to Napoli on Tuesday.

"Difficult night last night and disappointing result but we must put it behind us and now it's about how we react," Van Dijk wrote on Twitter.

"It's time to stand up, be positive and focus on putting in a big performance against Chelsea. Thanks to all of the travelling Reds who came out to support us."

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