Arsenal appear to have strengthened their interest in Nuno Espirito Santo.

Just over two weeks after dismissing Unai Emery, the Gunners are reportedly ready to hold talks with one of the top contenders to take over at Emirates Stadium.

But the Portuguese is not alone when it comes to candidates with Premier League experience.

 

TOP STORY – GUNNERS STEP UP NUNO CHASE

Arsenal will ask Wolves for permission to conduct formal discussions with Nuno next week, according to the Daily Mail.

The north Londoners are reportedly ready to "set to accelerate their interest" in the 45-year-old former Valencia and Porto head coach.

Belgium boss Robert Martinez is also said to have been approached, while Mauricio Pochettino, Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira continue to be linked.

Freddie Ljungberg has overseen two draws, a defeat and a solitary victory since taking charge on an interim basis.

ROUND-UP

- Like his former employers, ex-Arsenal boss Emery will not be rushed into a decision on his next move. Marca says the Spaniard has turned down the chance to speak to two Chinese clubs and managerless Everton since becoming a free agent on November 29.

- Premier League champions Manchester City hope to bring wantaway winger Jadon Sancho back to the Etihad Stadium after losing him to Borussia Dortmund in 2017, reports the Daily Mail.

- On the outer at Chelsea, Olivier Giroud appears to be moving closer to the Stamford Bridge exit door. L'Equipe claims the France striker is close to agreeing personal terms on a January switch to Inter, where he would reunite with Antonio Conte.

- Serie A side Milan will be offered the chance to sign Luka Jovic on loan from Real Madrid in January, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

- Barcelona will listen to offers of €10million for teenage defender Jean-Clair Todibo, reports Mundo Deportivo. The Spanish newspaper claims Bayer Leverkusen, Milan, Monaco, Southampton and Watford have submitted bids.

- Real Betis have sealed a deal to sign former Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco from Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, according to Deportes Cuatro.

Diego Simeone has responded to calls for Joao Felix to be given a more important role with Atletico Madrid by insisting he too wants to see the player in top form in every match.

The 20-year-old forward, a €126million signing from Benfica in the previous transfer window, scored a penalty during a strong performance in the 2-0 win over Lokomotiv Moscow on Wednesday that secured Atleti's place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

It was Joao Felix's most promising display since he returned from an ankle injury that saw him miss six matches, in which Simeone's side were criticised for a lack of cutting edge in attack.

There are calls for the Portugal international to start Saturday's LaLiga match against Osasuna as the linchpin of the attack once more, as Atleti aim for what would be just a fourth win in 14 league games.

Simeone, too, is eager to unleash Joao Felix and see him maintain his level of form.

"I also want to see him every day and want to see him in the best form possible, no doubt about that," he told reporters on Friday.

"We know what we need to do to improve in LaLiga.

"We have a tough opponent, who have come up into the Primera Division in a very strong way, with great collective work.

"Beyond the criticism and the opinions, we're looking for routes to get us back to having balance. This balance is more clear now, and with more regularity across the 90 minutes, there are more chances to win."

Simeone also confirmed discussions are under way as to Atletico's plans for the January transfer window.

They are rumoured to be prepared to go back in for Valencia striker Rodrigo Moreno, while Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic and Tottenham's Christian Eriksen have also been linked, as has Torino forward Andrea Belotti.

"As always, we're talking with [CEO] Miguel Angel [Gil Marin] and with [sporting director] Andrea [Berta] about what the team needs," Simeone said. "But I'm only thinking about Osasuna."

Atleti are seventh in the table after 16 matches, eight points behind both leaders Barcelona and second-placed Real Madrid, having played a game more.

Ernesto Valverde has described Pedro as an "historic" Barcelona player after the Chelsea winger claimed he would like to return to Camp Nou.

Pedro told Ser Catalunya this week that he would love to go back to the club where he won 20 major trophies, including five LaLiga titles and three Champions Leagues, between 2008 and 2015.

The 32-year-old has only played four times in the Premier League under Frank Lampard this season and, with his contract expiring at the end of the season, it has been suggested the Spain international could be allowed to leave next month.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Barca coach Valverde said of Pedro: "He's an historic Barca player - let's not kid ourselves. He's one of the players to win the most titles with this club, but he plays for another club now.

"We have to respect players at other clubs. We'll see what might happen in the future."

The futures of two Barca midfielders are also uncertain ahead of the opening of the transfer window, with Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal each linked with moves to Serie A.

Rakitic struggled for game time early in the season and even admitted his situation was causing him to fall out of love with football, although he has impressed in the recent run of victories over Borussia Dortmund, Atletico Madrid, Real Mallorca and Inter.

"He's playing well, as is everybody else," Valverde said of the Croatia midfielder. "We're in a clinical time of the season and we've found some good form.

"When it's the summer window, people start asking what happens, then you get to breathe a bit and then it's the winter market.

"We have to deal with the challenges we have with the players we have. Rakitic has missed lots of games but he's playing more games now, and if he's doing that, it's because he's playing well."

Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta confirmed after his side's defeat to Barca that Vidal was of interest to them, but Valverde was vague on his plans for the player.

"How can I respond to information that comes or doesn't come from us? This information came from Inter. They will know," he added.

"In our case, the market has not yet opened. Arturo is our player and we'll need him if we think it convenient."

Lionel Messi can certainly be considered the best player of his era but Brazil great and former Barcelona team-mate Ronaldinho does not think he is the greatest of all time.

Messi won a record sixth Ballon d'Or earlier this month, taking him ahead of long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

While the Juventus star has shown signs of decline over the past year or so at 34, Messi – two years his junior – continues to sparkle in LaLiga with Barca.

Despite missing a chunk of the early-season action through injury, Messi already leads the scoring charts in Spain's top flight with 12 goals from just nine starts – Karim Benzema has 11 from 14.

The Argentina star's form has been particularly impressive over the past six weeks, netting 13 times in 10 games for club and country, most recently hitting a hat-trick in Barca's 5-2 triumph over Real Mallorca.

But Ronaldinho, who spent the best part of four years as Messi's team-mate, is uneasy about suggestions the forward is the greatest to ever play the sport.

Speaking at a charity event in Mexico, Ronaldinho said: "I'm glad for Messi because he's a friend, aside from the fact he's been a leader of Barcelona.

"I don't like comparisons because it's hard to identify who is the best in history. There's Diego Maradona, Pele, Ronaldo.

"I can't say that Messi is the best ever, but he is the best in his time."

Neymar's ongoing legal action against Barcelona has not harmed his relationship with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, according to the player's father.

Ex-Barca star Neymar initiated a lawsuit against his former employers soon after joining Paris Saint-Germain in 2017.

The dispute over a €26million unpaid loyalty bonus remains before the courts but, on Thursday, Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo claimed the 27-year-old had filed a new €3.5m claim.

Neymar Sr addressed the matter in a radio interview and said it was "nothing new" as he expressed confidence a settlement would be reached.

"It's a thing from the past, when Neymar left Barcelona," he told COPE. "We always want to reach an agreement, it is better for everyone. Barcelona are not worried about this and neither are we."

The legal friction further complicated Neymar's recent attempt to secure a move back to Camp Nou, which failed to materialise.

Lionel Messi admitted some at the club opposed the attacker's return but Neymar Sr insisted there was no bad blood between the Selecao star and Bartomeu, who has since ruled out a January approach.

"We have never had a bad relationship with Bartomeu," Neymar Sr said, before adding: "We don't know anything about the future.

"Neymar has a contract with the PSG. He is happy."

Neymar is in his third season with Ligue 1 side PSG, having spent four at LaLiga champions Barca following his arrival in Spain from Santos.

Harry Kane has no limits to what he can do and is still yet to reach his peak, according to former Tottenham team-mate Roberto Soldado.

Soldado joined Spurs from Valencia in 2013 but the striker – a regular scorer in LaLiga – found life tough in England, managing just seven goals in 52 league appearances over the course of two seasons before leaving for Villarreal.

However, Soldado believes he was not helped by the emergence of Kane, who quickly impressed his fellow frontman during their time working together in England.

"I always say that if there is one period of my career I'm not happy with, it's my time at Tottenham," Soldado, now at Granada, said in an interview with The Guardian.

"I also had Harry Kane's boom to contend with, I understood perfectly because you could see it from the start.

"I saw his level in training and it was amazing. I don't think there's a limit to what he can do; we still haven't seen the best of Harry Kane.

"When we did shooting drills… pfff. With both feet, he was prolific. He plays so well back to goal, gives assists, is intelligent, thinks quicker than before.

"Maybe he had struggled this season because the team wasn't having the best time, but he's continually improving."

Soldado came through the ranks at Real Madrid and believes Kane would fit right in at the Spanish club, adding: "I'd like to see it."

The 34-year-old has watched from afar as Tottenham have struggled this season, leading to the departure of Mauricio Pochettino.

Jose Mourinho has since taken charge, with Soldado confident the Portuguese will "get them competing" after a sticky start.

"I don't know [what went wrong for Pochettino]," Soldado said on the current situation. "I still talk to Danny Rose and Jan Vertonghen, but about personal stuff. You could see it wasn't working. 

"[Mauricio] Pochettino had a very clear idea; he worked us very hard tactically and physically, which I think we needed after Tim Sherwood. From the start, he connected with the dressing room and every year it got better.

"The level Pochettino got from the players was higher than anyone could have expected. [But] they lost consistency and maybe Spurs needed a change.

"Now one of the best coaches has arrived and he’ll get them competing. Kane will always be grateful to Pochettino, I’m sure: his big change came with him. But he’ll trust José Mourinho because he’s a great coach."

Rodri has described "fearsome" Liverpool as the best team he has faced but warned the Premier League leaders that Manchester City will not give up their title without a fight.

Liverpool have opened a 14-point gap on the defending champions, who have already dropped as many points this term as they did in the whole of 2018-19 when the Reds finished second.

Third-placed City head to Arsenal on Sunday for their next league outing and Rodri, used 14 times in the top flight this season, has urged his team-mates to focus on the task at hand.

The Spain international, who played a full part in last month's 3-1 defeat at Anfield, told Goal: "On an individual basis I can say that Liverpool are the best team I have faced.

"They dominate at both ends of the field and are very aggressive. They dominate the lines well and that makes them a fearsome team.

"They are very good, but anyone can beat them so we are going to fight until the end.

"I don't know if the goal is to beat Liverpool, who are European champions, as I think you always have to focus on yourself.

"If we focus on Liverpool too much we are wrong. We would better looking at ourselves and play as we did at Atletico under [Diego] Simeone, game by game.

"You can't stop competing and that's what [Pep] Guardiola instils in us every day, that every game is a final."

Rodri spent one season with Simeone at Atletico Madrid prior to making a reported £62.8million switch to the Etihad Stadium, where he is working under Guardiola.

Asked how the two coaches compare, Rodri said both have the characteristics of "winners" and added: "Simeone is consistency and perseverance. Guardiola is innovative, growing day by day."

Real Madrid teenager Vinicius Junior says he is "working hard" to follow the path of Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling by becoming a more regular goalscorer.

Vinicius slotted home from close range for his first goal since September in Wednesday's 3-1 win over Club Brugge in the Champions League.

The Brazil international has netted six times in 43 appearances for Madrid, who he joined from Flamengo in July 2018, a year after his reported €45million buyout clause was triggered.

Vinicius does not believe his game is suited to scoring goals freely, but he hopes to improve in that department over time.

Citing the example of Sterling, who has become increasingly clinical in front of goal over the past few seasons, the 19-year-old attacker said: "I don't play to score. I play to help the team.

"Sterling at City also had trouble scoring goals. I left Brazil very early and I'm working hard to do great things."

Vinicius' compatriot Rodrygo Goes was also on target for Madrid in Belgium, taking his tally to six goals for the campaign.

Rather than being envious of Rodrygo's impressive start to life at the Santiago Bernabeu, though, Vinicius is pleased for his team-mate.

"We're friends," he said, according to Marca. "I'm happy because he is doing things very well."

Europe's top five leagues have monopolised the Champions League knockout stage for the first time in the competition's history.

With Atalanta's 3-0 defeat of Shakhtar Donetsk, the Serie A side ensured only nations from Italy, England, France, Germany and Spain would complete the last-16 line up prior to the final group fixtures on Wednesday.

Atalanta's win left only one place in the last 16 to be decided, with Atletico Madrid's 2-0 triumph over Lokomotiv Moscow – combined with a 2-0 loss for Bayer Leverkusen at home to Juventus – enough to send Diego Simeone's men through.

It is the first time only teams from the top-tier nations in European football have been included in the draw for the knockout stage, which will take place on Monday.

England – Premier League: Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham

Chelsea and Liverpool had the biggest scares of the group stage when it came to the English sides, though both ultimately qualified.

Current holders Liverpool put in a clinical second-half display to dispatch Salzburg 2-0 in their final Group E match, with Frank Lampard's side progressing from Group H thanks to a 2-1 win over Lille – last season's semi-finalists Ajax dropping into the Europa League despite amassing 10 points

Tottenham were on the wrong end of a 7-2 hammering by Bayern Munich in October, but three successive victories sent them through prior to their second meeting with the German champions, while Manchester City qualified as Group C winners.

France – Ligue 1: Lyon, Paris Saint-Germain

Paris Saint-Germain look like they mean business this season and, after ensuring their place in the next round with a 2-2 comeback draw away at Real Madrid, capped off their Group A campaign in style with a 5-0 thrashing of lowly Galatasaray.

Neymar starred on Wednesday, with Mauro Icardi, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani all scoring too – with their star-studded forward line in such form, Thomas Tuchel's side should be some force in the knockouts.

Memphis Depay was the hero for Lyon, meanwhile, as his 82nd-minute equaliser against RB Leipzig sent Rudi Garcia's side from bottom up to second.

Germany – Bundesliga: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig

Along with PSG, Bayern were the standout performers of the group stage – their haul of 18 points and a goal difference of +19 making them the best group winner in Champions League history.

Leipzig made history when they secured their first participation in the knockout stage thanks to Emil Forsberg's double against Benfica on matchday five in Group G, though Borussia Dortmund had to see off Slavia Prague 2-1 in their final Group F game – and rely on Barcelona to defeat Inter.

Italy – Serie A: Atalanta, Juventus, Napoli

Atalanta seemed on the brink after three straight defeats to start their Group C campaign, yet Gian Piero Gasperini's side battled back – a draw with City and wins over Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar continuing their Champions League adventure, becoming the first side to go through after losing their opening three matches.

Juventus' tally of 16 points in Group D saw them equal their own record – set in 1996-97 and matched in 2004-05 – while Napoli hammered Genk 4-0 on Tuesday to book their last-16 berth, though it was not enough to keep Carlo Ancelotti in his job.

There will be no place in the last 16 for Serie A leaders Inter, though, with Antonio Conte's side dropping into the Europa League.

Spain – LaLiga: Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia

LaLiga, like the Premier League, will have four representatives in the knockout stage. Barca were unconvincing at times in Group F, but had enough to seal their spot with a game to spare before ending Inter's hopes.

Atleti needed to overcome Lokomotiv on matchday six, but did so easily enough thanks to Joao Felix and Felipe – though Kieran Trippier missed an early penalty – and their city rivals Real Madrid ultimately easily progressed from Group A despite a chastening defeat to PSG in their opening match.

Valencia were involved in a mighty tussle with Chelsea and Ajax, who beat them 3-0 in their first home match, but eventually topped Group H thanks to a 1-0 win over the Eredivisie champions on Tuesday.

The race to sign Erling Haaland has taken another turn.

According to reports, the in-demand striker flew to Germany on Wednesday to hold talks with Borussia Dortmund.

Haaland has become one of Europe's hottest properties following a prolific run of form for Salzburg.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND MEETS WITH DORTMUND

Could talented teenager Haaland be the next bright young forward to join Bundesliga side Dortmund?

Local newspaper Ruhr Nachrichten and Radio 91.2 claim the Norwegian and his high-profile agent Mino Raiola arrived at Dortmund Airport and were met by a BVB official the day after Salzburg's Champions League loss to Liverpool.

Haaland played 75 minutes against the holders but was unable to add to his impressive eight-goal haul in Europe this season.

Manchester United, Juventus and Real Madrid are among the other heavyweights reportedly showing interest in the 19-year-old.

 

ROUND-UP

- Salzburg could be about to part with more than one highly-rated attacker. The Telegraph says Premier League outfit Wolves are preparing to make a move for Hwang Hee-chan, who could cost around £21million (€25m).

- Roma will allow Alessandro Florenzi to leave for €25m in January, claims CalcioMercato. Inter are said to be his strongest suitors, with fellow Serie A sides Napoli and Fiorentina also in contention.

- Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara is unhappy with his reduced role under interim boss Hansi Flick and is thinking of returning to Spain, reports Bild.

- Spain Under-21 international Carles Alena is set to join Real Betis on loan from LaLiga leaders Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo.

- ESPN reporter Julien Laurens believes this season will be Thomas Tuchel's last in charge of Paris Saint-Germain. Tuchel has been heavily linked to Bundesliga champions Bayern.

Lionel Messi believes the gap between Barcelona, Real Madrid and the rest of LaLiga has closed.

Barcelona lead Madrid on goal difference at the top of the table on 34 points, with Sevilla three points back in third.

However, just three points separate fourth-place Real Sociedad on 27 points and Granada in ninth.

Barcelona have lost three and drawn one of their 15 games this season, while Madrid have drawn four and lost one.

Messi thinks it displays that the strength of the teams across the league has improved.

"Everything is becoming more and more even," the Argentina forward said at an Adidas media event on Wednesday.

"They have been for several years and we notice that there is more equality, that any team beats any other team, which is increasingly difficult to play as an away team.

"The teams have become stronger at home because they know that in order to achieve their goals they must do it well at home.

"This makes everything more equal and more complicated."

Messi has one eye on El Clasico with Madrid on December 18 and has no doubt the fixture will once again be pivotal in the title race.

"I expect a very strong Real Madrid," Messi added. "They have shown it in the last matches, in LaLiga and in the Champions League.

"Barca v Madrid and Madrid v Barca are always special matches. It doesn't matter how the teams arrive, although it's true that we both go into it at a good time."

Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been rewarded for his brilliant display up against Raheem Sterling in the Manchester derby, earning inclusion in FIFA Ultimate Team's latest Team of the Week.

Manchester United claimed a fine 2-1 win at the home of the champions on Saturday, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial getting the goals.

But arguably just as vital was the performance of Wan-Bissaka at right-back, as the England Under-21 international played an integral role in nullifying Sterling, one of the Premier League's form players.

Wan-Bissaka completed a match-high five tackles – one a last-ditch challenge to deny Sterling what looked set to be a certain goal – and also made seven clearances.

Liverpool star Sadio Mane is back in the TOTW for the second time, while Serie A's chief creator Luis Alberto lines up in midfield having set up another two goals in Lazio's 3-1 win over Juventus, taking his campaign tally to 11, five more than anyone else in the competition.

Unsurprisingly there is also a place in the team for Real Betis' Joaquin after he became the oldest player in LaLiga history to score a hat-trick, while Memphis Depay and Marco Reus lead the line.

Below, we take a look at the latest squad in full.

FUT TEAM OF THE WEEK

GK: Martin Dubravka (Newcastle United) – 83

CB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Manchester United) – 82

CB: Martin Hinteregger (Eintracht Frankfurt) – 83

CB: Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) – 86

LM: Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – 90

CDM: Charles Aranguiz (Bayer Leverkusen) – 85

CDM: Luis Alberto (Lazio) – 87

CM: Morgan Sanson (Marseille) – 82

RM: Joaquin (Real Betis) – 83

CF: Memphis Depay (Lyon) – 86

CF: Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund) – 89

SUBSTITUTES:

GK: Luigi Sepe (Parma) – 81

CB: Guillermo Maripan (Monaco) – 82

LM: Cristian Ansaldi (Torino) – 82

CAM: Matheus Pereira (West Brom) – 81

ST: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) – 84

ST: Cristhian Stuani (Girona) – 82

RF: Lukas Podolski (Vissel Kobe) – 81

RESERVES:

CM: Cristian Battocchio (Brest) – 78

CM: Carlos Sierra (America de Cali) – 73

ST: Vinicius (Benfica) – 79

ST: Adam Le Fondre (Sydney FC) – 78

ST: Josh Maja (Bordeaux) – 75

The Royal Spanish Football Federation says it is not responsible for security during El Clasico and warned it could impose sporting sanctions if political demonstrations lead to trouble at next week's Camp Nou match.

Barcelona are due to host bitter rivals Real Madrid on December 18 in the fixture that was initially due to take place in October.

The original contest was postponed due to political tension that led to violent scenes in Catalonia after nine Catalan political leaders received long prison sentences for their roles in the region's 2017 referendum and subsequent unilateral declaration of independence.

A rally had been called for October 26 – the first date set for the Clasico – and it was decided to rearrange the match for security reasons.

But the Tsunami Democratic protest group – formed of Catalan independence activists – says it has called on its supporters to head to four meeting points near Camp Nou at 4pm local time on the day of the Clasico. Tsunami Democratic says more than 18,000 are due to join its protest.

The football federation (RFEF) has since made the decision to remind Barcelona the federation is not responsible for the organising of security, while also warning of sanctions if "the application of sports discipline is necessary".

A statement from the RFEF read: "In relation to the game on December 18 at the Camp Nou between Barcelona and Real Madrid, the RFEF states that, exactly as in all meetings of official competitions and being a public event, it does not hold responsibility in security matters.

"The RFEF will apply the regulations in force both before and during and after the game if there are situations of force majeure or circumstances in which the application of sports discipline is necessary.

"Similarly, as usual, the RFEF is in contact with the security forces to coordinate the arrival of the refereeing team at the Camp Nou facilities according to established protocols."

Everton are set to make the first move for Carlo Ancelotti.

The Toffees will reportedly begin talks with the Italian following his departure from Napoli on Tuesday.

Ancelotti was sacked three hours after a 4-0 win over Genk, which confirmed the Serie A club's place in the Champions League knockout rounds.

 

TOP STORY – EVERTON TO RIVAL ARSENAL FOR ANCELOTTI

Everton will waste no time in opening contract talks with free agent Ancelotti in the wake of his Napoli exit, according to Sky Sports.

Managerless Arsenal are also said to be considering the 60-year-old former Chelsea, Milan and Real Madrid boss as a possible replacement for Unai Emery.

But the Toffees could get the jump on their Premier League rivals after Shanghai SIPG's Vitor Pereira pulled out of the race to succeed Marco Silva, although David Moyes reportedly remains an option to take charge on an interim basis.

Ancelotti has won the Champions League three times as a coach and secured league titles in England, France, Germany and Italy.

ROUND-UP

- Napoli could announce the appointment of Gennaro Gattuso on a short-term contract as soon as Wednesday, according to CalcioMercato.

- Ex-Everton manager Moyes and former Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton are in line to replace Manuel Pellegrini at West Ham if the Hammers lose to Southampton on Saturday, says The Mirror.

- Manchester United are considering Ajax's Donny van de Beek and Saul Niguez of Atletico Madrid as they prepare for Paul Pogba's end-of-season exit, reports the Daily Mail.

- The Daily Mail also claims Leicester City have opened contract talks with rumoured Manchester City target Caglar Soyuncu, who has been in good form this season.

- Barcelona have cooled their interest in Lautaro Martinez due to Inter's demand for €100million, according to ESPN.

Carles Perez revelled in the fact he and fellow Barcelona academy product Ansu Fati made the difference in Tuesday's 2-1 win at Inter, proving La Masia has not lost relevance.

Barca endured a real tussle with Inter at San Siro, only securing a late win thanks to Fati's 86th-minute strike.

That goal made the 17-year-old the youngest scorer in Champions League history and sealed Inter's fate, as the Serie A side drop down to the Europa League after finishing third in the group.

Perez had opened the scoring with a composed finish, and his thoughts quickly turned to Barca's La Masia after the match, with the famed academy receiving criticism in recent years for a perceived lack of homegrown players reaching the first team.

"It is something incredible that we are both living," Perez told Movistar. "Both Ansu and I are an example for La Masia if you think you can get there [to the first team].

"Barca trust the people of academy and that is the most important thing."

Coach Ernesto Valverde also spoke of the two goal-scorers and was particularly thrilled by Fati's record.

"Carles has the nose for more goals and strikes the ball really nicely," he said. "Ansu is a born scorer and, although he's had some niggling pain, we wanted him to have some minutes.

"That it's a Barca lad who's the youngest ever scorer in this competition delights us."

Barca had already secured top spot in the group and will find out their next opponents in the Champions League during Monday's draw.

The Catalans face Real Sociedad at the weekend before then going head-to-head with bitter rivals Real Madrid in El Clasico on December 18.

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