Eric Dier has been hit with a four-game ban and a £40,000 fine after his altercation with a fan following Tottenham's FA Cup loss to Norwich City in March.

The England midfielder climbed into the stands after Spurs' penalty shoot-out loss having been angered by the actions of a supporter at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Stewards intervened to separate Dier from the individual, with manager Jose Mourinho saying afterwards that his player had reacted to insults towards his younger brother.

Dier was charged with misconduct by the Football Association (FA) in April.

He denied his actions had been threatening, but an independent regulatory commission found otherwise, with the FA confirming his sanction on Wednesday.

"Eric Dier has been suspended for four matches with immediate effect, fined £40,000 and warned as to his future conduct following a breach of FA Rule E3," read an FA statement.

"The Tottenham Hotspur FC player admitted that his actions at the conclusion of a fixture against Norwich City FC in the FA Cup on March 4, 2020 were improper but denied that they were also threatening.

"An independent regulatory commission subsequently found Eric Dier's actions to be threatening."

The suspension comes into immediate effect, meaning Dier will miss all but one of Spurs' remaining five Premier League games, which includes the derby against Arsenal on Sunday.

 

Real Madrid are planning to make a splash in the transfer market.

Reports claim three of Europe's finest – Kylian Mbappe, Kai Havertz and Eduardo Camavinga – are waiting to make the move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Could it happen?

 

TOP STORY – TRIO WAITING ON LOS BLANCOS

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz and Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga are holding off contract talks as they wait for Real Madrid, according to the frontpage of Wednesday's edition of Marca.

Mbappe is highly coveted by Zinedine Zidane and Madrid, Havertz has been linked to Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, while Camavinga is reportedly a Madrid target.

However, the trio may have to wait beyond this year to make the move to the Spanish capital, though Sport Bild claims Havertz has asked to leave Leverkusen before 2020-21.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport reports Barcelona still want to sign Inter star Lautaro Martinez, despite his release clause expiring.

Borussia Dortmund have issued an ultimatum to United. Sport Bild claims United have been told if they want to bid for Jadon Sancho, the deal must be done by August 10. Sancho has been heavily tipped to move to Old Trafford.

Arsenal want to sign Lyon's Moussa Dembele if they lose Alexandre Lacazette or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, reports Foot Mercato. Lacazette has been linked to Atletico Madrid and Inter, while Barca, PSG and other clubs are reportedly interested in Aubameyang.

Inter are not David Alaba's first choice should he leave Bayern, says Sport Bild. Alaba has been linked to Madrid, Barca, PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Sevilla are leading Juventus and Inter in the pursuit of Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin, says the Express.

- According to the Express, Tottenham are confident of signing Kurt Zouma from London rivals Chelsea at the end of the season.

- Could Inter be about to hijack Napoli's bid for Lille forward Victor Osimhen? The Nigeria international has been tipped to join Napoli in a €80million deal, however, Le10Sport says Inter are making a last-ditch attempt to sign Osimhen.

- Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri has handed in a transfer request as he looks to reunite with Antonio Conte at Inter, reports Gazzetta journalist Nicolo Schira.

Milan are trying to hijack Inter's move for Brescia star Sandro Tonali, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. Inter have been favourites to land Tonali but Ralf Rangnick – who is tipped to become Milan's head coach in 2020-21 – has reportedly made the Italy international his top target.

The touching pre-match tribute to Ennio Morricone, the great Italian film composer who died, aged 91, on Monday, fitted nicely for what was about to unfold at San Siro.

Possibly for the last time in their decorated careers, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – two of the most destructive gunslingers in modern European football – were ready to do battle as Milan and Juventus lined up.

More so than perhaps any other players of their generation, Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic's on-field deeds have frequently carried cinematic qualities. From the rippling physiques and inimitable preening, to their seamless combination of brute force and artistry, both men scream Hollywood.

Characters who polarise the audience were always the best pegs for Morricone's irresistibly lush arrangements and Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic are good, bad and ugly to many all at the same time. If Lionel Messi's lack of overt edge leaves you cold, these two have always been your guys. Your antiheroes.

While Ronaldo and Messi existed unrelentingly in one another's orbit for the best part of a decade, the fleeting and often explosive addition of Ibrahimovic to the equation has usually left fans wanting more.

It is churlish to bemoan the lack of spectators given the ongoing gravity of the global situation but some occasions miss a live audience more than others. This potentially final installment of a flashpoint rivalry was one of those.

Although this match eventually made a case of its own, they were never likely to top the stupendous 2013 World Cup qualification play-off, where the pair scored all the goals over two legs that concluded with Portugal eliminating Sweden on away goals. Morricone could have gone to town on that one. Drama, tension, plot-twists, elation, despair. It had everything.

Almost seven years on, each player is past the peak they revelled in back then, even if Ronaldo's absurd goal scoring numbers make a compelling counter-argument.

The passage of time necessitates refinement. Today they are wily, all-knowing stars in complete control and happy to exist on the margins, rather than all-action leading men – more Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino than his Man With No Name pomp.

This was their lot during a brooding first half. Ronaldo cut inside from the left win to thump a trademark dipping drive just beyond the far post. He was more frequently seen remonstrating with the officials, most notably when Ibrahimovic's penchant for martial arts was on display and his boot grazed the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's ear as he attacked a right-win set piece.

Ibrahimovic twice brought routine saves from Wojciech Szczesny before breaking clear in stoppage time. 1-0? No, cut! Offside, and the deadlock remained.

Tearing the length of the field to score goal-of-the-season contenders might no longer be Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic's game, but Adrien Rabiot happily made that his business in the 47th minute.

The former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder barged Franck Kessie out of the way and nutmegged Theo Hernandez to cross the halfway line on the right wing. Rabiot then opened his elegant stride to breeze beyond Alessio Romagnoli and brought things to a thrilling crescendo. As Milan's defence scattered he unfurled a majestic left-footed strike into the top-right corner.

A befuddled Rossoneri were struggling to regain composure – none too effectively in the case of Andrea Conti and Simon Kjaer, who got in each other's way defending Juan Cuadrado's raking ball.

And there he was. Ronaldo, finger on the trigger. Goal 26 of the Serie A campaign was a formality and Juve were going 10 points clear of a faltering Lazio.

Only, one man had other ideas. It was time for an audacious third-act twist almost too implausible for any composition.

The VAR playback of the 62nd-minute scene did no favours for Leonardo Bonucci. Handball. Penalty. Of course Ibrahimovic stepped up. Of course he scored.

There he was again four minutes later, that strapping back onto which you could probably project movies facing the Juventus goal. Ibrahimovic's penalty box presence was as booming as his lay-off was deft. Kessie was on hand for a redemptive finish, his earlier humiliation at the hands of Rabiot forgotten.

Ibrahimovic then left the chaos, his part played perfectly. But Milan were not done as Ronaldo's compatriot Rafael Leao ensured 0-2 had become 3-2 in the space of five berserk minutes.

If he'd been tasked with soundtracking this undulating drama, Morricone might have been tearing up his score at this point. At the very least, the keen Roma fan would have been disgruntled at the unlikely lifeline handed to Lazio's ailing Scudetto bid.

A roof-falling-in error from Alex Sandro allowed Ante Rebic to complete a 4-2 triumph. Six goals, the perfect number.

At full-time, Ibrahimovic strode around, a picture of satisfaction. Topless, of course. Just as Ronaldo, beaten and wounded, would have done had roles been reversed.

Perhaps the veteran Swede will survive the behind-the-scenes ructions at Milan to return next season. Is another sequel with the intoxicating sound and colour of the tifosi as opposed to the eerie emptiness of now too much to ask?

Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri lamented his team's "total blackout" after the Serie A leaders capitulated in their shock 4-2 defeat to rivals Milan.

Juve appeared on track for a routine win at San Siro, where two goals in the space of six minutes from Adrien Rabiot and Cristiano Ronaldo gave the defending champions a 2-0 lead through 53 minutes.

However, Milan turned Tuesday's match on its head, scoring three goals in five minutes to take a 3-2 lead before Ante Rebic sealed the incredible comeback with 10 minutes remaining.

"I think our first 60 minutes were world class. We were in total control and had this blackout," Sarri told DAZN as he discussed Juve's collapse.

"There's not even much use thinking too much about it, because we have another game in three days.

"We had a total blackout for 15 minutes. It has happened to other teams in this period. We have to take the positives from the game, which are that we were in total control for an hour.

"It's usually not even possible to find the reasons for these inexplicable blackouts."

Sarri, who was without suspended pair Paulo Dybala and Matthijs de Ligt, added: "We had some bad performances and quite rightly lost them, but this is not the case now. We played well this evening.

"I've seen many other teams have similar blackouts lately, because it's an unusual situation to be playing and training in these temperatures, with so many games close together.

"Sitting here trying to over-analyse it or put ourselves on trial could be counter-productive and make us lose all the good work we’ve done so far.

"It's completely different to the defeats against Verona and Napoli, so we have to focus on the next match. This is a team that has excellent football in its capabilities and that is what we need to build on."

Despite the loss – which saw Juve concede four goals to Milan for the first time since 1989 – the Scudetto holders remain seven points clear atop the table with seven matches left to play.

Challengers Lazio failed to make any inroads following their surprise 2-1 loss to lowly Lecce earlier on Tuesday.

Asked if Lazio's result had made Juve complacent, Sarri replied: "I don't think it made a difference, otherwise the initial approach would've been poor.

"Instead, we were focused for most of the match. I don't even think we relaxed after going 2-0 up, it was the penalty that sparked the blackout."

FIFA has withdrawn from mediation with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) citing the failure of its lawyers to keep the matter confidential.

Stefano Pioli was in no mood to ruminate on his Milan future after leading an incredible fightback to defeat Serie A leaders Juventus 4-2 at San Siro.

Milan looked set to become defending champions Juve's latest victims as the Rossoneri trailed to a wonderful individual Adrien Rabiot goal and Cristiano Ronaldo's swift second on Tuesday.

But a remarkable turnaround saw Milan score three times in the space of six minutes through Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Franck Kessie and Rafael Leao, with Ante Rebic then securing the points after an awful Alex Sandro error.

Milan are unbeaten since the season resumed, also beating Juve's title rivals Lazio last week, yet it still appears Pioli will not be at the helm next season.

Widespread reports claim former RB Leipzig boss Ralf Rangnick will be installed as both head coach and technical director.

Pioli will not be distracted, though, telling DAZN post-match: "I don't think about what's going to happen on August 3. I'm focused on what we're doing.

"I hope to hit the target I was called for. I don't think about August 3rd; I like to train, I'm fine here. I can't think about the future and situations that don't depend on me."

Pioli, who saw Milan score four goals against Juve for the first time since 1989, added of the win: "I congratulate my players on a great day and a great victory.

"The work done at Milanello was important. The team is doing well, playing well, and I'm happy even if we haven't done anything yet.

"In 20 days, we play for everything. We think of Napoli [next]. There is satisfaction but great concentration. Everything we are doing needs to be improved. The level is high - if you make a mistake then you pay for it.

"The work of the staff was important. We were good at taking advantage of the penalty incident. We did well on the pitch.

"The first half was balanced, we were surprised. The team mentality is making a difference and we must keep going."

Rangnick's mooted dual-role would also impinge on Milan great Paolo Maldini's position at the club.

However, Maldini – the existing technical director – took a similar tone to Pioli as he spoke ahead of the Juve game, insisting his future was not an immediate concern.

"I don't know [about the future]," Maldini told DAZN. "I want to get to the end of this season in August by concentrating on the matches and the goals we have set ourselves."

The touching pre-match tribute to Ennio Morricone, the great Italian film composer who died, aged 91, on Monday, fitted nicely for what was about to unfold at San Siro.

Possibly for the last time in their decorated careers, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – two of the most destructive gunslingers in modern European football – were ready to do battle as Milan and Juventus lined up.

More so than perhaps any other players of their generation, Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic's on-field deeds have frequently carried cinematic qualities. From the rippling physiques and inimitable preening, to their seamless combination of brute force and artistry, both men scream Hollywood.

Characters who polarise the audience were always the best pegs for Morricone's irresistibly lush arrangements and Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic are good, bad and ugly to many all at the same time. If Lionel Messi's lack of overt edge leaves you cold, these two have always been your guys. Your antiheroes.

While Ronaldo and Messi existed unrelentingly in one another's orbit for the best part of a decade, the fleeting and often explosive addition of Ibrahimovic to the equation has usually left fans wanting more.

It is churlish to bemoan the lack of spectators given the ongoing gravity of the global situation but some occasions miss a live audience more than others. This potentially final installment of a flashpoint rivalry was one of those.

Although this match eventually made a case of its own, they were never likely to top the stupendous 2013 World Cup qualification play-off, where the pair scored all the goals over two legs that concluded with Portugal eliminating Sweden on away goals. Morricone could have gone to town on that one. Drama, tension, plot-twists, elation, despair. It had everything.

Almost seven years on, each player is past the peak they revelled in back then, even if Ronaldo's absurd goal scoring numbers make a compelling counter-argument.

The passage of time necessitates refinement. Today they are wily, all-knowing stars in complete control and happy to exist on the margins, rather than all-action leading men – more Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino than his Man With No Name pomp.

This was their lot during a brooding first half. Ronaldo cut inside from the left win to thump a trademark dipping drive just beyond the far post. He was more frequently seen remonstrating with the officials, most notably when Ibrahimovic's penchant for martial arts was on display and his boot grazed the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's ear as he attacked a right-win set piece.

Ibrahimovic twice brought routine saves from Wojciech Szczesny before breaking clear in stoppage time. 1-0? No, cut! Offside, and the deadlock remained.

Tearing the length of the field to score goal-of-the-season contenders might no longer be Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic's game, but Adrien Rabiot happily made that his business in the 47th minute.

The former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder barged Franck Kessie out of the way and nutmegged Theo Hernandez to cross the halfway line on the right wing. Rabiot then opened his elegant stride to breeze beyond Alessio Romagnoli and brought things to a thrilling crescendo. As Milan's defence scattered he unfurled a majestic left-footed strike into the top-right corner.

A befuddled Rossoneri were struggling to regain composure – none too effectively in the case of Andrea Conti and Simon Kjaer, who got in each other's way defending Juan Cuadrado's raking ball.

And there he was. Ronaldo, finger on the trigger. Goal 26 of the Serie A campaign was a formality and Juve were going 10 points clear of a faltering Lazio.

Only, one man had other ideas. It was time for an audacious third-act twist almost too implausible for any composition.

The VAR playback of the 62nd-minute scene did no favours for Leonardo Bonucci. Handball. Penalty. Of course Ibrahimovic stepped up. Of course he scored.

There he was again four minutes later, that strapping back onto which you could probably project movies facing the Juventus goal. Ibrahimovic's penalty box presence was as booming as his lay-off was deft. Kessie was on hand for a redemptive finish, his earlier humiliation at the hands of Rabiot forgotten.

Ibrahimovic then left the chaos, his part played perfectly. But Milan were not done as Ronaldo's compatriot Rafael Leao ensured 0-2 had become 3-2 in the space of five berserk minutes.

If he'd been tasked with soundtracking this undulating drama, Morricone might have been tearing up his score at this point. At the very least, the keen Roma fan would have been disgruntled at the unlikely lifeline handed to Lazio's ailing Scudetto bid.

A roof-falling-in error from Alex Sandro allowed Ante Rebic to complete a 4-2 triumph. Six goals, the perfect number.

At full-time, Ibrahimovic strode around, a picture of satisfaction. Topless, of course. Just as Ronaldo, beaten and wounded, would have done had roles been reversed.

Perhaps the veteran Swede will survive the behind-the-scenes ructions at Milan to return next season. Is another sequel with the intoxicating sound and colour of the tifosi as opposed to the eerie emptiness of now too much to ask?

Alvaro Morata scored the fastest goal of the LaLiga season after just 51 seconds but Atletico Madrid had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Celta Vigo.

Morata followed up his double in the win over Real Mallorca last Friday by striking in the first minute at Estadio de Balaidos.

Fran Beltran deservedly levelled early in the second half with his first goal of the season to move Celta seven points clear of the relegation zone with three matches to play, although third-bottom Mallorca have a game in hand.

Third-placed Atleti are unbeaten in 15 games and a draw keeps them on course to secure a Champions League spot.

Atleti could not have wished for a better start, Angel Correa taking a pass from Santiago Arias and picking out Morata for a tap in with less than a minute on the clock.

Celta responded to that early blow and Brais Mendez's deflected strike went into the side-netting before the midfielder curled a shot wide of the far post.

Diego Simeone's side could have doubled their lead late in the first half, but Correa was unable to apply the finish as he charged into the penalty area.

Celta were level just four minutes after the restart, Beltran not getting a clean contact on Mendez's cross but seeing his volley loop into the far corner with Jan Oblak helpless.

Oscar Garcia's men did not look like a side in danger of the drop and Mendez was denied by the busy Oblak, who then palmed Santi Mina's strike away for a corner.

Ivan Villar came on to replace injured Celta goalkeeper Ruben Blanco with nine minutes to play and he denied Thomas Lemar, with the home side also having a penalty appeal dismissed following a VAR check late on.

 

What does it mean? Atleti a step closer to Champions League spot

Atleti lead Sevilla, who have a game in hand, by three points and are nine better off than fifth-placed Villarreal in the battle for Champions League spots.

On the evidence of this showing, in which they could have secured a surprise win, Celta ought to have enough to avoid relegation.

Morata on a roll

Striker Morata led the line well for Atleti and was in the right place at the right time to score his third goal in two games right in a dream start.

He now has 16 goals for the season in all competitions and it looks like there will be more to come.

Llorente stifled

It was certainly not one of the Marcos Llorente's better nights as he struggled to stamp his authority on the game before being withdrawn midway through the second half.

What's next?

Atleti entertain Real Betis on Saturday, when Celta travel to mid-table Osasuna.

Juventus missed the chance to move 10 points clear at the top of Serie A as they incredibly let a two-goal lead slip to lose 4-2 at Milan after a remarkable second half on Tuesday. 

At the start of a crucial week in which Juve also face in-form Atalanta, the leaders had been boosted ahead of kick-off by news of another defeat for second-placed Lazio. 

However, the Bianconeri could not take full advantage despite a sensational opener from Adrien Rabiot and Cristiano Ronaldo's swift second. 

All six goals came after the interval as Milan staged a rapid recovery, scoring through Zlatan Ibrahimovic from the penalty spot, Franck Kessie, substitute Rafael Leao and Ante Rebic. 

Missing the suspended Paulo Dybala, Maurizio Sarri's side could not rally and so remain seven points ahead of Lazio, while rampant Milan climb to fifth. 

Few could have imagined such a chaotic second period when an offside flag against Ibrahimovic ensured the sides went into the break scoreless after a first half of precious little action. 

But Rabiot then required only 74 seconds from the kick-off to break the deadlock in magnificent fashion. 

The midfielder collected the ball just inside his own half and brushed off Kessie before advancing, nutmegging Theo Hernandez and then, 20 yards from goal, arrowing a left-footed shot into the top-right corner. 

There was little the Milan defence could do to deny Rabiot, but Alessio Romagnoli and Simon Kjaer would be well advised to avoid replays of Juve's second, the pair colliding to give Ronaldo time and space to beat Gianluigi Donnarumma. 

Just as Juve looked set to coast to victory, a VAR review spotted a handball from Leonardo Bonucci inside the area, allowing Ibrahimovic to convert from 12 yards. 

The momentum swung and suddenly Milan were in the ascendancy. A wonderful team move created space for Kessie to shoot inside the area, a deflection deceiving Wojciech Szczesny, while Leao drove a low strike through the goalkeeper for a third goal in six minutes to turn the match around. 

Juve threatened to battle back as Donnarumma saved superbly from Daniele Rugani, but Rebic - earlier denied by Szczesny - lashed in Milan's fourth to clinch the points. Ronaldo thought he had netted again in stoppage time, only to be ruled offside.

Brentford and Fulham claimed crucial wins in the race for automatic promotion from the Championship, but a point apiece does little for Barnsley and Luton Town at the foot of the table.

With top two Leeds United and West Brom not in action, Brentford closed the gap after a late turnaround saw them record a sixth successive league win at the expense of Charlton Athletic.

Fulham boosted their own hopes of finishing in the top two with an away victory at Nottingham Forest, while seventh-placed Cardiff City slipped up at home as they lost 3-2 to Blackburn Rovers.

 

BEES KEEP ON BUZZING

Brentford's impressive streak appeared in serious danger when they trailed with 15 minutes to play at home to Charlton, Macauley Bonne giving the visitors an early lead.

However, after being fouled by Josh Cullen, Said Benrahma converted from the penalty spot before Ethan Pinnock's 85th-minute header secured all three points. The result leaves the in-form Bees on 73 points, just two behind second-placed West Brom.

Fulham are up to 71 points themselves after Harry Arter's superb long-range strike was enough for a 1-0 triumph at fifth-placed Forest.

Cardiff were beaten by a stunning goal from Adam Armstrong, who seized on a loose pass to lob Alex Smithies from long range. Rovers had previously fought back twice to draw level before their outrageous winner.

 

HALME HARMS LUTON'S HOPES

Luton remain stuck at the foot of the table after conceding a late equaliser against fellow strugglers Barnsley.

Luke Berry put the hosts ahead in the 13th minute at Kenilworth Road, following up after Elliott Lee had hit the post. Yet Luton's hopes of moving above their opponents were dashed six minutes from time, Aapo Halme prodding in an equaliser.

Meanwhile, Huddersfield Town kept a third successive clean sheet in a stalemate with Reading. The result leaves the Terriers three points clear of Middlesbrough, who occupy the final relegation spot.

Pep Guardiola has reiterated he wants to see Lionel Messi stay at Barcelona.

Barca talisman Messi is out of contract in 2021 and there is fresh speculation the six-time Ballon d’Or winner may wish to leave the club, who have not won the Champions League since 2015.

The forward has often been linked with a move to Manchester City to play under his former Camp Nou coach Guardiola.

But the City boss was reluctant to discuss transfers ahead of Wednesday's Premier League home match against Newcastle United.

He also stressed his stance on Messi has not changed, having previously expressed his hope the Argentine remains with Barca when questioned on the topic.

"I'm not going to speak about transfers until the end of the season," he said. "My wish is that Messi is going to stay in Barcelona."

Asked if a new centre-back was in his plans, he added: "At the end of the season. We still have incredible targets to fight for."

Meanwhile, Guardiola insisted he had no influence on where City's Champions League last-16 second leg against Real Madrid will be played, with a decision due this week.

City lead the tie 2-1 after a win at Santiago Bernabeu before the coronavirus lockdown and reports suggested Guardiola had lobbied UEFA over playing the return leg in Manchester rather than at a neutral venue.

"I am not strong enough to have this impact," he said.

"I am not a president. They have protocols. I have never spoken with UEFA. I have said many times that we want to play in Manchester but we are going to accept wherever UEFA decide to play.

"What I want is to play against Madrid. This is what I want but I didn't make phone calls, I don't have this power."

The club are also getting closer to finding out the verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as they appeal against their two-year Champions League ban.

"On July 10 it is the [Champions League quarter-final] draw and [July] 13 will be the sentence," Guardiola added.

"After that, I will give my opinion. We wait for the resolution from UEFA. This season is not going to change. It is so beautiful what we have in front of us."

FIFA has agreed to settle their dispute with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) through mediation.

Barcelona boss Quique Setien is clinging to the hope Real Madrid will falter to allow for a late twist in the title race.

Despite holding a narrow LaLiga lead when the season resumed, Barcelona have slipped four points behind their great rivals and only four rounds of games remain.

A coronation for Zinedine Zidane's team appears inevitable, given they have won seven straight fixtures since the league's suspension ended.

But Setien is refusing to wave the white flag, saying on Tuesday: "Of course we can still win LaLiga. Mathematics says it. We have to keep hope until the final day.

"We have to look at what we can do. Win, leave good feelings, make progress. And if not in this situation, everything we do is worth it for the next one."

Should Barcelona take the title battle down to the final day, that would be a small triumph in itself given current circumstances.

They have the Champions League resumption to come in August, then a new LaLiga season after that, and Setien wants to see signs of progress from a team who have struggled since COVID-19 caused the 2019-20 campaign to be stalled for three months.

Victory in the home derby against Espanyol on Wednesday is surely imperative.

 

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has indicated he plans to keep Setien on for the 2020-21 season, with the coach speaking of "the circus that is football" as speculation surrounded his position.

"The club are happy with the work we do, I focus on that," he said in a news conference. "I don't value whether we win a game or lose others. I don't live daily, I work with more perspective.

"We are quite happy, as I have said on numerous occasions. Results are one thing and the feelings are another."

Setien feels his team are performing better than their results have been indicating, speaking of "very good moments" in the matches where Barcelona have dropped points. Three draws, alongside the four wins they have achieved since LaLiga returned, have been costly.

Coach Setien was cheered by Antoine Griezmann's delicious chip in Sunday's 4-1 win at Villarreal, where the Frenchman was given a more central attacking role than in previous games and thrived on the responsibility.

"He has enough ability to show his level," Setien said. "The other day there was a moment of inspiration and the players who played on the inside and the threat on the outside were closely linked. Sergi Roberto helped and did things very well."

Josep Maria Bartomeu believes Xavi will become Barcelona boss one day, though he has given his support to current coach Quique Setien.

Xavi, who holds the record for the most Barca appearances of all time, has long been linked with the top job at Camp Nou, where he spent 17 trophy-laden years as a player.

He was considered one of the front-runners to take the post when Ernesto Valverde was sacked in January only to suggest he was not ready, which led Barca to turn to Setien.

Xavi has since said he wants to be Barcelona coach and has been tipped to succeed the under-fire Setien, but on Sunday the ex-Barcelona midfielder signed a contract extension as coach of Qatari club Al-Sadd.

And though the jury remains out on Setien given his side have fallen four points behind Real Madrid in LaLiga, Bartomeu has given him his backing.

"Setien will continue, obviously," he told RAC1.

"I do not regret Valverde's change. The team needed a boost. Setien knows our DNA, the model and has brought new airs and new ideas.

"The coaches are obviously subject to the results, but I am happy with the evolution of the team."

On Xavi's coaching credentials, Bartomeu added: "[Xavi is] a great coach who I am sure will one day come to Barca."

Barca's poor form and infighting behind the scenes has again led to speculation that Lionel Messi could do the unthinkable and actually depart the club when his contract expires in 2021.

Bartomeu has remained steadfast in his belief that the 33-year-old will retire with the Blaugrana and said the club will do all they can to extend his deal.

"He has a contract until 2021 – normally we do not explain the conversations with the players but it is evident that we have an obligation to renew him," he said.

"Messi is the best player in the world."

Neymar returning to Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain is "unlikely", according to the LaLiga club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

The Brazil forward left Camp Nou for the French capital in a world-record €222million deal back in 2017, but a return to Barcelona - where he won eight major trophies across four seasons - has long been mooted.

However, Bartomeu thinks such a move would be hard to pull off in the current climate as Europe's elite clubs adjust their plans due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Such an operation is unlikely because the situation of all the clubs in Europe is very difficult," Bartomeu told RAC 1.

Yet there was no such dismissal when Bartomeu was asked about another forward in Lautaro Martinez.

Lionel Messi's Argentina team-mate is said to have a €111m release clause in his contract, but that is thought to expire on Tuesday, and it has been reported Barca will not try to activate it before the deadline passes.

Martinez, 22, has scored 17 times in 37 appearances for Inter this term and is under contract at San Siro until 2023.

"I'm not talking about transfers," Bartomeu added when asked about Martinez.

"We have not marked the signings in the calendar on when they should be."

One man who will be joining Barcelona is midfielder Miralem Pjanic, who will move at the end of this season, with Arthur heading in the opposite direction to join Juventus.

Though Pjanic is seven years older than Arthur and there are reports Barcelona looked to offload the Brazilian to balance the books, Bartomeu insists the new signing had been a long-term target.

"Pjanic is a player who has wanted to sign for a long time, he was highly sought after and there is a Barca player who wants Juve," Bartomeu explained.

"But it is an exceptional situation. It is not to balance balances because we would have sold other players for whom we had offers. Arthur is a player who is highly valued."

Page 1 of 342
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.