Barcelona director Xavier Vilajoana said the LaLiga champions have no intention of selling Ansu Fati amid links to Manchester United, denying talks over a possible transfer.

Fati has reportedly emerged as an alternative target to Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho for United as the Premier League giants eye attacking reinforcements.

There has been talk of United making a £100million (€111m) bid for 17-year-old Barca sensation Fati, who only made his senior debut in August.

However, Vilajoana dismissed the speculation over Fati's future at Camp Nou.

"For us, there's no story with Ansu, we have never spoken about selling him," Vilajoana told Sport.

"We won't use players from the academy to make cash. In principle, we have no intention of selling the players we believe will make the first team."

Vilajoana added: "I think he's happy. He will be an important player in the coming years."

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Fati had scored four goals and supplied an assist in 16 LaLiga appearances for Barca.

Fati has played 24 matches in all competitions this season, scoring five goals.

LaLiga leaders Barca will return to action with a trip to Real Mallorca on Saturday.

Juventus are confident of renewing Paulo Dybala's contract, according to chief football officer Fabio Paratici.

Dybala is contracted to the Serie A champions until June 2022 and said in an interview with CNN this week he was waiting for the club to initiate talks.

The Argentina international has struggled for form since Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival at Juve, scoring 23 goals in all competitions since the start of 2018-19, fewer than he managed in 2017-18 alone.

Maurizio Sarri has acknowledged it is difficult for Dybala, who was linked with a move to Manchester United in the previous close season and has expressed an interest in playing for Barcelona, and Ronaldo to "coexist" in the same team.

However, Paratici is optimistic about Dybala's long-term future in Turin.

Ahead of the second leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final against Milan on Friday, Paratici told Rai Sport: "We are not worried, as we started discussing the situation with Dybala and his entourage, so we are absolutely optimistic and confident.

"Everyone who goes to negotiate a contract wants an improvement, so that's entirely logical."

Asked about Juve's reported interest in Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo, he added: "This is not the time to talk about the transfer market, it's already been done when there was no football being played, but we want to fully enjoy this moment when Italian football returns."

Juve's clash with Milan is their first game in over three months, after football was suspended across most of the globe in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien has held discussions with Arthur over the midfielder's future, but is counting on him for the remainder of the season.

Arthur has made 23 appearances in all competitions during a campaign that has seen him sidelined due to injury, though that has not stopped speculation that he could be on the move.

The Brazil international has been linked with a switch to Juventus, potentially with Miralem Pjanic moving in the opposite direction.

Setien refused to discuss rumours over the 23-year-old's long-term future at Camp Nou, instead making clear he remains part of his plans ahead of a return to LaLiga action.

Barca face Real Mallorca on Saturday following a lengthy break caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which is also set to have an impact on the transfer market as clubs deal with the financial ramifications of the health crisis.

"It is true that we have talked about something, but not too much," Setien said when asked about Arthur at his pre-match media conference on Friday.

"The current circumstances are different from the usual ones and will affect the market.

"As for the players, I am clear that all those who are currently in the squad, I count on them and I need everyone because there are going to be many games.

"On outside speculation, I choose not to speak."

Arthur made clear his desire to remain with Barcelona back in April; he was previously suggested as a transfer target for Inter.

In a statement sent to Mundo Deportivo, he said: "There will always be speculation but, sincerely, my idea is very clear. The only option that interests me is to continue at Barcelona.

"I'm very secure and relaxed. I feel really well here and, plus, I'm grateful to the club and technical staff for their confidence. This is yet another reason to be totally clear that my only desire is to continue."

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are ready to start for Barcelona against Real Mallorca, head coach Quique Setien has confirmed.

Barca return to LaLiga action on Saturday with a trip to Son Moix following the coronavirus-enforced break, and a win over relegation-threatened opponents will see them extend their lead at the summit.

Spain's reigning champions sit two points clear of rivals Real Madrid, who are not in action until Sunday when they host Eibar in the capital.

Messi's fitness was a major concern ahead of the resumption - the talismanic forward dealing with a quadriceps injury - but he has suffered no further setbacks since returning to training with the rest of the squad at the start of the week.

"He's ready to play, he's perfectly okay. He's trained well, there is no problem," Setien said as his pre-match media conference.

"Messi and a lot of these players know how to gauge things and how to save their strength when necessary.

"As for breaks, we'll see. For some, the more time they're on the pitch, the better."

As for Suarez, the striker had seemingly been set to miss the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign with a knee injury before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now the Uruguay international is back for the rearranged season run-in, both in terms of domestic duties and the Champions League.

However, Setien will be cautious with a player who is returning from a lengthy lay-off, meaning Suarez will not play the whole game against Mallorca.

"Surely he is to be a starter, but not for the full 90 minutes," the Barca boss explained.

"We will not take risks after five months. It will be good for him to play and he will need games to be the same as he was before."

Suarez has scored 14 goals in all competitions this season but has not featured since January 9.

Lionel Messi can make the difference whenever he wants and there is nothing his opponents can do to stop him when he is in such a mood, Real Mallorca coach Vicente Moreno said ahead of Barcelona's visit to Son Moix.

After more than a three-month hiatus enforced by the coronavirus pandemic, LaLiga resumed on Thursday, and Barca will recommence their title charge in Palma on Saturday.

Hosts Mallorca – who are in the third relegation spot – could have dropped down to 19th by kick-off, and they are well aware of the mighty task that awaits them.

Messi had been inspirational for a Barca side that many feel has underwhelmed this season prior to the suspension, the Argentina star scoring 19 goals – including a hat-trick against Mallorca at Camp Nou – and providing 12 assists, both of which are league-high figures.

Despite the possibility for a bit of rustiness after such a prolonged break, Moreno is expecting Messi to be as deadly as ever – but coming up against him is a privilege, the coach says.

"I think when you face Barcelona, you always have two sides," Moreno said on Friday. "On one hand, there is big excitement because you want to enjoy the chance of playing against this kind of player.

"We will have in front of us the best player in the world by far, who is Messi. There will be many more [players in the Barca team], but especially Messi, the one who makes the difference compared to the others.

"So, we will have the opportunity to enjoy watching Messi, and we have to as the football fans we are, but, on the other hand, we will suffer him as well. In fact, we did already in the other game when he scored a hat-trick.

"He is such a good player, so when he wants to make the differences, he just does it, and you can do nothing to stop him.

"I hope to have these chances many times. Playing against a team like Barcelona, or players like Messi, means that we stay in the top tier - if Messi keeps playing for many years, we can enjoy watching him too.

"If we keep struggling with him, that means we stay in the elite, and that's all we want."

Barca are set to be without Nelson Semedo after he was left out of training "as per protocol established by LaLiga" following reports he attended a party earlier in the week, flouting medical guidelines in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite widespread criticism of him, and the four Sevilla players who were caught breaking similar rules at a barbecue last month, Moreno has sympathy.

"I think players are also young people," he added. "They are also doing a big effort. Sometimes It looks like they don't have any other right, as they are earning that big amount of money, we are always judging the player because he is earning a lot of money.

"So, I've nothing to say. They are young people and they want, like all of us wanted, to get out from the lockdown and going out to dinner with friends. Many times they judge them correctly or wrongly, depending on some pictures that someone could have uploaded without your knowing.

"So, I understand him [Semedo] and I think he didn't have any bad intentions. Again, I believe we have to give confidence to the player and not kill him."`

Lionel Messi is eager to be back playing for Barcelona again this weekend after admitting the suspension of football "has made me think".

LaLiga was halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Barca two points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the table after 27 games.

Spain's top flight returned on Thursday behind closed doors as Sevilla defeated Real Betis 2-0, with the leaders set to resume their campaign at Real Mallorca on Saturday.

Messi has described football as "a gift" and is happy at the prospect of playing once more after three months of uncertainty.

"Being away from the game has made me think," he said in an Adidas video.

"I feel like any other player. I just want to play. And to play our game is a gift. To be supported by so many, even more so.

"To be able to inspire others, and be inspired. And maybe the greatest gift of all: to create joy for others.

"So, now the game has returned, I'm ready for its gift again."

Messi is the top scorer in LaLiga this season, with 19 goals from 22 appearances, five clear of nearest challenger Karim Benzema.

The 32-year-old also has the most assists, with 12, four ahead of Real Sociedad forward Portu.

The Argentina star is bidding to win his 11th league title with Barca and his 25th club trophy in total.

Unique circumstances may have seen LaLiga return in mid-June, but little else has changed in Spain's top flight.

Barcelona again sit at the summit, led once more by Lionel Messi.

The Blaugrana are chasing a fifth title in six seasons, and Messi has been as influential as ever in their latest pursuit.

With the help of Opta data, we take a look at the Barca captain's LaLiga campaign so far.


BY THE NUMBERS

Between the coronavirus pandemic and a couple of early-season muscle injuries, Messi has played just 22 times in the league this term, with one of those appearances coming from the bench.

But Messi remains the main man at Camp Nou, scoring a goal every 99.47 minutes for an outstanding 19 in total - comfortably the most of any player in the division.

The Argentina talisman seems certain to become the first player to win the Pichichi seven times, surpassing Telmo Zarra with whom he shares the existing record of six.

Messi's team-mates have also again thrived thanks to his mercurial talents. His 55 chances created have generated 12 assists.

With 11 games remaining, the 32-year-old could yet match his career-best tally of 18 assists in a league season, set in 2010-11 and equalled in 2014-15.


SEASON HIGHLIGHTS

Few players in history have combined substance with style as effectively as Messi, and his trademark panache has been evident again in his exploits this term.

The forward endured a slow start to the campaign, scoring for the first time in LaLiga in October against Sevilla, but he quickly made up for lost time.

A stunning free-kick in the 78th minute of that match was the first of eight goals in five league games - including a hat-trick against Celta Vigo that featured two more glorious set-piece goals.

Perhaps the most important goal of Messi's season came on December 1, when he traded passes with Luis Suarez and swept a fine finish past Jan Oblak for a late winner at Atletico Madrid.

Goals were initially harder to come by in 2020, but Messi's third hat-trick in the league this term sent Barca top in late February. He hit four against Eibar.


AS IMPORTANT AS EVER?

The burden on Messi - and, to a slightly lesser extent, Suarez - has increased in recent years following Neymar's 2017 departure, with Barca's number 10 either scoring or assisting at least 45 per cent of their league goals in each season since.

The pre-season arrival of Antoine Griezmann should have aided the Blaugrana in this department, yet the World Cup winner is still to find his best form in Catalonia.

While no outfield player has started more league games for Barca than Griezmann this term, he has scored just eight times.

Injury to Suarez, who had 11 by January, did not help matters, but Messi responded with a vital winner against Granada the following week.

Messi's 31st goal involvement of the campaign - making up 49.2 per cent of Barca's 63 goals - saw Real Sociedad beaten by a late penalty on March 7 in the final game before the season was suspended and Suarez was able to return to fitness.


OFF-FIELD CONTROVERSIES

Messi's continued achievements this season come against a rather unsettled backdrop. The one-club man has fought as many battles off the pitch as on it in 2020.

After head coach Ernesto Valverde was sacked in January, sporting director Eric Abidal bravely picked a fight with the squad - including former team-mate Messi - by suggesting players were not working hard enough for the dismissed boss.

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

Indeed, the saga prompted speculation the Barca great could make the most of a contract clause and walk out on a free transfer, although that option has now reportedly expired.

Both Messi and Barca will surely now be keen to get back on the pitch and set things straight with another title triumph.

Virgil van Dijk is set to extend his deal at Liverpool, while Lautaro Martinez could reportedly push for his move to Barcelona.

Van Dijk, 28, is widely regarded as one of the world's best defenders and he seems primed to stay put after starring at Anfield.

Meanwhile, Barca's pursuit of Martinez continues.

 

TOP STORY – VAN DIJK TO SIGN FIVE-YEAR LIVERPOOL CONTRACT

Van Dijk will sign a five-year deal worth £57million at Liverpool, according to The Sun.

The report says the Netherlands international will become the highest-paid player in the club's history.

Van Dijk finished second to Barcelona star Lionel Messi in the 2019 Ballon d'Or and is on track to help Liverpool win their first league title in 30 years.

ROUND-UP

- Talk around Martinez's future continues. Sport reports Barcelona will press Inter and the forward will also push for a move to Camp Nou.

- Inter could be looking for a replacement if Martinez decides to leave. CalcioMercato reports they are considering Fiorentina star Federico Chiesa as the Argentina international's replacement.

- Another forward Inter have been linked to is Edinson Cavani, who is coming out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain. But La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Cavani wants €12m per year, which it says it €3m more than Inter are willing to pay.

- There is also uncertainty over Arturo Vidal's future at Barcelona. The midfielder has been linked with an exit as his contract expires next year, but Mundo Deportivo reports the Chile international has no interest in discussing his future until August.

- Hector Bellerin has a deal at Arsenal until 2023, but there is some talk about his future. The Mirror reports the 25-year-old is a target for Inter this close season.

- Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma is apparently attracting some interest. According to the Daily Express, Everton want to sign the 25-year-old, who has also been linked to Tottenham.

Arsene Wenger is "convinced" Barcelona will sign another forward despite expecting improvement from Antoine Griezmann.

Griezmann has struggled to hit top form in his first season at Barca, scoring 14 goals in 37 games since his €120million arrival from Atletico Madrid.

Barca are heavily linked with a move for Inter star Lautaro Martinez, who is considered a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez.

Former Arsenal manager Wenger believes Griezmann will improve, but feels Barcelona will add another forward this close season.

"Barcelona has always bought the greatest players. Personally, I'm not sure that Suarez needs to be replaced," he told beIN SPORTS.

"They can add another striker because it's true that Suarez and [Lionel] Messi are the main contributors and they might need somebody else who can score goals.

"I still think Griezmann at some stage will start to score goals, he doesn't look completely adapted, maybe now after confinement he will be refreshed because he's a good goalscorer as well.

"But I'm convinced they will buy another striker as well."

While Messi has scored 24 goals this season, Suarez has – like Griezmann – contributed 14, although he has played in 14 fewer games.

Barcelona, two points clear atop LaLiga, resume their campaign away to Mallorca on Saturday.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas has threatened to force teams into training camps if players continue to flout medical protocols.

Spain's top flight was due to resume on Thursday with the Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, three months after playing was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lockdown measures across the country have been eased in recent weeks, with life beginning to return to relative normality, but some protocols remain in place and a few players have broken them.

Four Sevilla players were photographed at a barbecue in a group of 12 people at a time when any gathering was supposed to be limited to 10, while Barcelona confirmed on Thursday that Nelson Semedo was missing from training "as per protocol established by LaLiga".

The Portugal defender was reported to have attended a party and broken social-distancing guidelines earlier in the week.

Tebas has now warned players that LaLiga will impose rules forcing them to work in training camps if they continue to ignore the regulations.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Tebas said: "What we are thinking is that if players keep doing this we'll have to consider having obligatory training camps.

"We wanted to do that but over the last few weeks we saw the clubs were obeying the protocols, but if we start to see three or four players at each club disobeying these rules then we'll have no other remedy than to impose training camps.

"We hope we don't have to but if people keep going to barbecues and parties we might have to. LaLiga has shown a lot of faith in players by not enforcing camps so, [we ask them] please, return that confidence, and don't break the rules as that harms LaLiga and people's health in general."

Nelson Semedo was not involved in Barcelona training on Thursday, with LaLiga's leaders explaining his absence was "as per protocol established by LaLiga".

Barca revealed the right-back's omission from the session on Twitter just two days before their next fixture at Real Mallorca.

The Blaugrana are two points clear of rivals Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga ahead of the league's resumption on Thursday amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Semedo was kept out of training after reports emerged with pictures apparently showing the defender attending a birthday party and breaching social-distancing measures.

The sporting world is slowly moving back towards normality amid the coronavirus pandemic, with LaLiga set to follow in the path of the Bundesliga and return behind closed doors.

Thursday's derby clash between Sevilla and Real Betis will kick things back off in Spain's top flight, three months after it was brought to a halt. 

While there will be no fans in attendance, the stage is set for a truly fascinating run-in in LaLiga; the title, Champions League places and safety are still well and truly to play for.

We take a look at the fixtures that could prove key in deciding the final outcome.

 

Matchday 30: Sevilla v Barcelona, Real Sociedad v Real Madrid

With Sevilla and La Real heading into the coronavirus stoppage third and fourth respectively, there is every chance of a slip-up from Barcelona and/or Madrid in these tricky away games. Not only could they play a crucial role in deciding where the title ends up, but with just five points separating third from seventh at the resumption of play, the impact on Champions League and Europa League qualification could be important.

Matchday 30: Real Mallorca v Leganes

At the other end of the table, two teams that have spent the hiatus in the relegation zone will meet at Son Moix. Three points against a direct rival near the bottom would likely play a huge role in who ends up falling into the second tier.

Matchday 32: Getafe v Real Sociedad

These teams have a great opportunity to upset the established order and earn a place in the Champions League, leading to great anticipation around this clash at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez. Getafe won their first meeting back in October 2-1, so La Real will be eager for a superior win in case the head-to-head record is needed to separate them in the standings.

Matchday 33: Barcelona v Atletico Madrid

Atletico earned a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou to win LaLiga in 2013-14 and Diego Simeone's side will need the same sort of grit and determination if they are to get a result that can boost their Champions League aspirations. For Barca it is one of four fixtures they have left against teams currently sitting in the top half, so a victory could be pivotal in their title defence.

Matchday 33: Real Madrid v Getafe

Barca's meeting with Atleti is arguably their toughest fixture left to play, so a home game against Getafe could set the stage for Madrid to launch a late charge for the title. However, Getafe, who have a Europa League last-16 tie with Inter still outstanding, will see it as a chance to enhance their Champions League bid.

Matchday 34: Espanyol v Leganes

Espanyol are six points adrift of safety at the foot of the table, so strong home form is going to be key for them – especially when they are up against the next-worst team in the league. Leganes triumphed 2-0 when they met at Butarque in December, so failure to win here would significantly hinder Espanyol's survival chances.

Matchday 35: Barcelona v Espanyol

The match against Leganes takes on even more significance when you consider a trip to Catalan rivals Barca is due to follow. Nothing less than three points will be acceptable for Quique Setien's side, though for Espanyol a positive result not only helps them but also hinders their neighbours' title chances. Add in the fact relegation-threatened pair Eibar and Leganes meet on the same matchday, there's a chance for a significant shake-up at the bottom.

Matchday 37: Getafe v Atletico Madrid, Real Sociedad v Sevilla

If the gap from third to seventh remains tight, then the penultimate set of fixtures may well be crucial. Victory here will likely have a huge impact on whether a team makes the Champions League, settles for the Europa League, or, in the worst-case scenario, slips outside the top six if Valencia and Villarreal put together a strong finish.

Matchday 38: Atletico Madrid v Real Sociedad 

It certainly looks set to be a dramatic run-in for Atleti and La Real, with the last two rounds of matches appearing potentially make or break. Simeone's men have home advantage but fell to a 2-0 loss in their first meeting with the Basques in September. There is set to be plenty on the line at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Matchday 38: Espanyol v Celta

Should Espanyol, who last played in the second tier in 1993-94, manage to string a good run of results together then they could have a chance of completing a great escape on the final day at home to Celta, who were just one point above the bottom three when the season was suspended.

Former Barcelona and Inter forward Samuel Eto'o praised Lautaro Martinez, but said Luis Suarez deserved more respect for his contributions.

Martinez, 22, has been heavily linked with a move to the LaLiga giants, with the Inter forward regarded as a long-term replacement for Suarez.

Now 33, Suarez arrived at Camp Nou from Liverpool in 2014, and has won four LaLiga titles and a Champions League with the club.

Eto'o, who spent five seasons at Barca and two at Inter during his playing career, said while Martinez was talented, Suarez's efforts could not be ignored.

"I love Suarez, he's one of the best in the world in his position," the former Cameroon international told Catalunya Radio on Wednesday.

"Barca always have to strengthen, but they don't need to stand down a general like Luis Suarez. In his position, he's a general and you cannot compare him with anyone.

"Lautaro is doing really well with Inter and has a future, but people have a tendency to forget recent history and Luis is writing history, not just at Barca, but in football. That has to be recognised.

"That doesn't impede bringing in another player to add competition to the group, knowing how many games Barca have, but a little respect for those that have written history."

Suarez had scored 14 goals and provided 10 assists in 23 games before this season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Martinez, meanwhile, had 16 goals in 31 games for Inter, while providing two assists.

Papu Gomez believes Atalanta can win the coronavirus-hit Champions League, with the possibility of one-off matches leading into the decider.

Atalanta dazzled before the COVID-19 pandemic halted football in March, the Serie A side seeing off Valencia 8-4 on aggregate to reach the quarter-finals for the first time.

UEFA wants to complete both the Champions League and Europa League once domestic leagues have been concluded, meaning the remaining fixtures could potentially resume in August.

One proposal has been for the quarter-finals and semi-finals to be condensed into one-off fixtures instead of two-legged ties at a neutral venue until the final, which could be held in Lisbon.

Atalanta star Gomez told Tyc Sports: "We touched the sky, experiencing a unique and historic moment for the club and city.

"It's incredible that it all ground to a halt. Now we're going to be in the Champions League quarter-finals and it would frankly suit us to play one-off games, because anything can happen in 90 minutes. It's going to be spectacular."

Asked who he would like to face in a Champions League final, Argentine attacker Gomez picked out a meeting with countryman Lionel Messi.

"Maybe a Spanish side, hopefully I'd play against Leo Messi for Barcelona," the 32-year-old said.

"Considering our playing style, I'd say we would have a better chance against a Spanish team rather than English or German."

The 2019-20 Serie A season is set to resume on June 20 following the coronavirus crisis.

Atalanta, who are fourth in the table through 25 games, will host Sassuolo on June 21.

Gian Piero Gasperini's Atalanta had won six consecutive matches in all competitions prior to the postponement.

Barcelona star Antoine Griezmann is raring to go ahead of LaLiga's resumption after the coronavirus stoppage gave him more time to rest than in the past five years.

Football in Spain, along with most sport across the globe, was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic but will return this week, with Thursday's derby between Sevilla and Real Betis providing the first LaLiga game in three months.

Leaders Barca will get their campaign back under way at an empty Camp Nou against Real Mallorca on Saturday and France international Griezmann cannot wait to be back on the pitch.

Quique Setien's side sit two points clear of Real Madrid with 11 games remaining.

"I think on a personal level it has been good for me," Griezmann told Barca TV.

"I have been able to rest. I think it has been five years since I have had a rest like that so mentally and physically it has been good. I was able to enjoy time with my family, my kids and now I am ready to go.

"We are really looking forward to it. It has been a long time since we played in an official match. I think we have prepared well for this first game and it will be important to get off to a good start in these 11 finals we have left.

"We have all the cards. We have 11 games and if we win them all we will be champions. I think we are ready for it, to win and enjoy the football.

"I have seen some highlights of the Bundesliga, the photos of the fans in the stands, goal celebrations without hugs, all a bit strange but it's nice to see football again.

"It was a bit strange [training at Camp Nou] without the fans or anything but it was a question of getting used to that atmosphere.

"It was nice to play at Camp Nou once again but it will be better in an official match."

The hiatus has enabled Luis Suarez to recover from a knee injury, while Lionel Messi will be fit to face Mallorca despite suffering a quadriceps issue upon his return to training.

Griezmann welcomed Suarez's return as he seeks to continue his development into a key figure for Barca.

"Luis is our number nine, a goalscorer, the one who makes the difference in big games along with Leo," said Griezmann.

"We missed him in the last games. We are really happy to have a player like him back and he will help us from the beginning.

"I want to be an important part of the team, on and off the field, enjoy football and help my team-mates win every game."

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