Antoine Griezmann will make his Barcelona debut against Chelsea after being named in the starting XI for Tuesday's friendly in Saitama.

World Cup winner Griezmann joined the club in a €120million move earlier this month and is now set to line up alongside the likes of Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets.

Fellow new signing Frenkie de Jong features among the substitutes, while Lionel Messi remains absent following his involvement at the Copa America.

The match is Barca's first of a pre-season schedule that also includes games against Vissel Kobe, Arsenal and Napoli.

Arsenal's quiet transfer window seems to be about to spark into life.

Widespread reports on Monday claimed Dani Ceballos is on the verge of joining the Gunners on loan from Real Madrid.

William Saliba could follow him to Emirates Stadium by the end of the week, too.

 

TOP STORY - CEBALLOS BOUND FOR ARSENAL

Arsenal are close to completing the loan signing of Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid.

AS report the midfielder could head to London on Tuesday for a medical, with Marca saying the 21-year-old is excited about the prospect of spending a season under Unai Emery.

Various UK media outlets have also stated Ceballos is not far from finalising a deal, while the BBC's David Ornstein says Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba could follow him to north London before the week is out.

 

ROUND-UP:

- Barcelona are to open talks with Lionel Messi to try to extend his contract beyond 2021, according to ESPN.

Jiangsu Suning have joined Chinese rivals Beijing Guoan in the race for Real Madrid outcast Gareth Bale but must offer wages of £1million per week, reports the Telegraph.

- Fotosport in Turkey say Galatasaray have made an approach to sign Fred on loan from Manchester United.

- Inter are still eager to sign Romelu Lukaku and have offered Manchester United a choice of €78m or €55m plus winger Ivan Perisic, FCInternews.it suggests.

Ademola Lookman is expected to arrive in Germany in the next 36 hours to finalise a transfer from Everton to RB Leipzig, say Sky Sports.

- Marca claim Atletico Madrid would prefer to sign Real Madrid's James Rodriguez than Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen.

- Atletico Madrid are likely to earn a total of €57m when Angel Correa finalises his move to AC Milan, Sky Sport Italia say.

- Corriere dello Sport claim Napoli are pushing to sign Mauro Icardi from Inter, with James Rodriguez poised for Atletico Madrid.

Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri is pushing the Serie A champions to sign Tottenham full-back Danny Rose, according to the Daily Mail.

Ivan Rakitic is keen to remain at Barcelona but admitted he is "open to anything" as he continues to be linked to a move away.

Croatia international Rakitic has two years left on his contract at Camp Nou and has reportedly been offered to Paris Saint-Germain as a potential makeweight in a deal that would send Neymar back to Barca.

Inter are also said to have an interest in the 31-year-old, and although he does not intend to seek out an exit from Barcelona, he suggested he would be willing to consider it in the right circumstances.

"My idea is very clear, I want to stay at Barca. It's a situation I'm used to. It happened to me last year," Rakitic told a news conference ahead of Barcelona's Rakuten Cup meeting with Chelsea on Tuesday.

"I've spoken with the club and the coach and we have the same idea - for me to stay at Barca. We're open to everything, as always, but my intention is to stay.

"I have two more years on my contract and I want to keep enjoying myself at Barca.

"It doesn't annoy me. I know that football works like this and it makes me proud because if other teams want me it's because I'm doing things very well. I'm calm."

Gareth Bale's long goodbye to Real Madrid is edging closer after head coach Zinedine Zidane confirmed the club is actively working to sell the Wales international.

A move to either Paris Saint-Germain or the Chinese Super League looks most likely for a player who cut a frustrated figure for the majority of the 2018-19 season.

Bale is poised to be forced out at the behest of Zidane and there are a host of significant players across Europe who have yet to negotiate an exit despite expressing a desire to move on.

Here, we look at the players who are stuck in limbo with the start of the 2019-20 season just weeks away.

 

Neymar

Neymar has not publicly stated he wants to leave the Ligue 1 champions but the club's sporting director, Leonardo, has said he can move on if the price is right.

The Brazilian superstar has yet to feature for PSG so far during pre-season and was again absent as Thomas Tuchel's side laboured to a 1-1 draw with Nurnberg on Saturday.

A possible swap deal involving Bale could be a possibility, although a move back to his former club Barcelona looks more likely. Will the Catalan giants stump up the money, though, and end the impasse?

Romelu Lukaku

Lukaku joined United from Everton in a £75million deal in 2017, scoring 28 goals in 66 Premier League games since then, but his performances have been much maligned.

He fell out of favour towards the end of last season and has been heavily linked with a switch to Inter as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shakes up his United squad ahead of the new campaign.

The two clubs appear to be some way apart in their valuation of the Belgium international – who has yet to feature in pre-season – and, for now, he remains a United player.

Philippe Coutinho

Things have not gone according to plan at Barcelona for Coutinho following his January 2018 move from Liverpool, with the Brazilian admitting last month he does not know what his future holds.

Coutinho only managed five LaLiga goals in 34 appearances as Barca retained their crown in 2018-19, with 12 of his league outings coming from the bench.

With Antoine Griezmann now on board at Camp Nou, Coutinho's playing time is likely to be reduced even further and a move might suit both parties.

Paul Pogba

The French World Cup winner hinted at being unsettled at Manchester United last month, telling reporters he was interested in a new challenge three years after returning to Old Trafford from Juventus.

His agent, Mino Raiola, doubled down on that recently, telling The Times: "Everyone within the club, from the manager to the owner, knows Paul's wishes."

A move back to Juve has been mooted for the 26-year-old, while Real Madrid and Barcelona are also rumoured to be interested in the playmaker. United are standing firm, though, and it is looking increasingly likely that he will spend at least another season in the Premier League.

Mauro Icardi

Icardi endured a controversial 2018-19 campaign with Inter, the Argentina international stripped of the captaincy amid conflicting views of an apparent knee injury and internal disagreements with the club's hierarchy.

The club's chief executive, Giuseppe Marotta, recently told the striker he was no longer wanted and both parties mutually agreed he would withdraw from their pre-season tour of Asia.

That has not hastened his departure from the club, though, with potential suitors perhaps wary of signing a player who will bring plenty of baggage.

Christian Eriksen 

The Denmark international stunned Tottenham supporters last month when he declared he wanted to "try something new".

Eriksen arrived from Eredivisie giants Ajax in 2013 and the 27-year-old has established himself as one of the Premier League and Europe's best midfielders.

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have been linked with the playmaker but no firm offers appear to have been tabled yet.

Antoine Griezmann received a message from Luis Suarez to welcome him to Barcelona - but is yet to hear from Lionel Messi.

After paying €120million to activate the release clause in Griezmann's Atletico Madrid contract, Barca presented the forward as their latest signing on July 14.

The France international said he received a warm welcome from those present on the club's tour to Japan, where they will play Chelsea and Vissel Kobe in the Rakuten Cup, despite being nutmegged twice in his first training session.

Suarez and Messi are not present in Asia due to their Copa America commitments for Uruguay and Argentina respectively, but only the former has been in touch with him so far.

"The truth is it started badly because they nutmegged me twice in my first rondo. Luckily I have learned the lesson," Griezmann said at a news conference ahead of Tuesday's meeting with Chelsea.

"Messi has not called me yet, but Suarez did. He congratulated me and welcomed me.

"The group has welcomed me and I am happy to share a dressing room with them. Hopefully I can help in the best way possible."

Atletico challenged the legitimacy of Griezmann's transfer to Barcelona, alleging the LaLiga champions should have to pay the €200m release clause that was still active when they began discussions.

Griezmann would not be drawn on his former club's complaint and stated his focus was on adapting to his new team.

"I did everything as well as possible with respect to Diego Simeone, my former team-mates and Atletico Madrid to leave on good terms," he said.

"It's an issue for them. I am calm and all that matters is starting well with Barcelona, which is the most important thing.

"I heard about it [the complaint]. It's a club where I gave my all. I'm very calm. The only thing that matters to me right now is understanding the coach's tactics, getting on with my team-mates and enjoying football."

On Simeone, he added: "Our relationship was more than a coach and a player, we're like family. I got on very well with him.

"He was important for what I did on the pitch and for my private life. I owe him a lot and I love him a lot. Our relationship will carry on, even after retirement."

Antoine Griezmann believes it will be difficult for Barcelona to re-sign Neymar and form a star-studded attack with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Barca sealed a €120million move for Griezmann this month and are reportedly keen to bring Neymar back from Paris Saint-Germain, who signed him for a world record €222m in August 2017.

The World Cup winner is unwilling to contemplate lining up alongside the Brazilian until a deal is done, with the Catalan giants reportedly offering €100m and two of Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho, Samuel Umtiti, Nelson Semedo, Ivan Rakitic and Malcom in exchange.

Griezmann thinks it will be tricky for Barca to get a move over the line and stated they already have sufficient talent to challenge on multiple fronts.

"We have to get it done first, because it is a difficult transfer," he told Sky Sports.

"But he is a great player, he's had a couple of injuries but is at an incredible level.

"We also have Dembele, Coutinho and Malcom who are also important players for us and let's hope we can achieve great things with them.

"I hope I will have an important role, I want to be an important player for the team and help in whatever way I can.

"As long as I enjoy playing with my team-mates and give it all on the pitch, it doesn't matter."

Jasper Cillessen had grown tired of sitting on the bench at Barcelona and does not view his move to Valencia as a backward step.

Valencia shelled out €35million in June to sign Cillessen, who spent three seasons at Barca acting as back-up to Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The 30-year-old Netherlands international made just 12 appearances in all competitions for the Catalan giants last season and believes the transfer is a positive move for him at this stage of his career.

"I have not had problems with Barcelona or with any team. For me, the most important thing is to play. It's the only reason I'm here," Cillessen told Marca.

"For me to come to Valencia is not a step back. Between being on the bench of Barcelona or playing at Valencia, playing at Valencia is much better. It is easy. It is not a step back.

"When I arrived at Barcelona, Ter Stegen was on a different level than now. And after three years he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

"I think we both improved, but it was time for me to leave."

Valencia are reportedly interested in Barca midfielder Rafinha and Cillessen hopes the Brazilian, who has been out of action since November due to a serious left knee injury, follows him in heading to Mestalla.

The Dutchman said of Rafinha: "He is a very good player, he has had very bad luck with injuries. But he is a great player, it would be very important here with this system and for the coach.

"He is my friend and I want him to come here."

Filipe Luis said he hopes Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar returns to LaLiga champions Barcelona for the good of Brazilian football.

Neymar wants to leave Ligue 1 holders PSG, with a move back to former club Barca on the cards two years on from his world-record €222million exit.

Real Madrid are another possible destination for Neymar, whose future is dominating headlines during the off-season.

While Filipe Luis would like to see his Brazil team-mate return to Camp Nou, the former Atletico Madrid full-back acknowledged it will not be easy.

"I want him to finish in Barcelona," Filipe Luis told Cope's Tiempo de Juego program.

"At Barca, Neymar is happy. I want him to enjoy and play next to [Lionel] Messi.

"I hope, for the good of Brazilian football, that Neymar returns to Barca, but I think it will not be easy."

Filipe Luis was speaking having confirmed his departure from Atletico following eight seasons with the LaLiga side.

The 33-year-old – who started his career at Figueirense – is reportedly set to return to Brazil via Flamengo on a free transfer.

It has been a busy off-season for Atletico, who have lost Antoine Griezmann, Lucas Hernandez, Rodri and Diego Godin but signed Joao Felix, Hector Herrera, Marcos Llorente, Kieran Trippier, Felipe and Renan Lodi.

Atletico have also been linked with Real Madrid and Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez, who is wanted by Serie A side Napoli.

Filipe Luis added: "Having a player like James at Atletico would be very interesting, it would not be bad. Whoever comes will help but signing James would be spectacular."

Barcelona's side for the 2019-20 campaign is like a "cheat code in a video game", according to new signing Antoine Griezmann.

The French World Cup winner joined the LaLiga giants this month after they triggered his €120million release clause with Atletico Madrid.

He joins a team rich in attacking talent and is likely to line up alongside a combination of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho in what promises to be a mouth-watering frontline in the forthcoming season.

Griezmann is excited about linking up with his new team-mates and says entertaining the club's supporters is a primary motivation.

"Barcelona are building a team like a cheat code in a video game," he told Marca.  

"We have a good team, great players and then it's the boss that has to decide who plays.

"We'll be ready to enjoy ourselves and make the fans and ourselves happy at all times."

Griezmann was particularly fulsome in his praise of Messi and vowed to strive to reach the dizzying standards set by the Argentina superstar.

"Yes, it will be amazing [to play alongside him]," he added. "I'm excited to see what he's like day to day, what he's like in training.

"I want to catch him doing things in training that I will try to repeat or do in my own way and get to know him on and off the pitch.

"I will be ready to do whatever it takes: for him, for the club and for the players."

Atleti fans are aggrieved by Griezmann's switch to their rivals, which came a year after he had pledged his future to the club, but the 28-year-old insists he will always hold fond memories of his time with Diego Simeone's side.

"I know that there will be whistles [when he returns to the Wanda Metrpolitano]," he added. "It's part of football. They really loved me and when someone leaves, it can hurt.

"It was like that at Real Sociedad. My first visit back wasn't easy, but I will always have Sociedad and Atleti in my heart because they gave me so much."

Antoine Griezmann said he cried tears of joy after his transfer to LaLiga champions Barcelona was finalised.

Griezmann left Atletico Madrid for Barca after the Spanish giants triggered the French World Cup winner's €120million release clause.

The transfer ended months of speculation following Griezmann's announcement that he was departing Atletico after five years.

Reflecting on his move to Barca, Griezmann told Marca: "I called my father and I started to cry with happiness because I was there, everything was done.

"I was with my friends, my wife and my children and it was an incredible moment."

"I just wanted to end my holiday and start this new challenge," he said. "The dressing room have welcomed me very well: players, coaching staff and doctors.

"For the moment, I'm enjoying it and let's hope I can get enough confidence to speak, be myself and enjoy."

Griezmann will link up with Barca superstar and five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi at Camp Nou.

Messi led the way for Barca in 2018-19, scoring 51 goals in all competitions as Ernesto Valverde's side retained their LaLiga crown ahead of Griezmann's Atletico.

"It will be amazing [to play alongside him]," Griezmann added. "I'm excited to see what he's like day to day, what he's like in training, [I want to] catch him doing things in training that I will try to repeat or do in my own way and get to know him on and off the pitch.

"I can't wait for him to arrive. I will be ready to do whatever it takes: for him, for the club and for the players."

Paris Saint-Germain have not received a "concrete offer" for Neymar, the club's sporting director Leonardo said.

The Brazilian forward has been heavily linked with a move away from the Ligue 1 champions during the close season, with his former club Barcelona looking the most likely destination.

Neymar has yet to feature for PSG so far during pre-season and was again absent as Thomas Tuchel's side laboured to a 1-1 draw with Nurnberg on Saturday.

Leonardo has previously said the 27-year-old can leave for the right price, but he told reporters after the game in Germany that no offers have been tabled for him.

"Honestly, there is nothing different from the last time we talked," he said, according to Le Parisien. "Nothing at all.

"It has not moved. There is no concrete offer for Neymar, he is with us. He is a player for Paris Saint-Germain.

"I repeat, there is no concrete offer. It's been the same situation for 10 days."

Tuchel refused to be drawn on where Neymar's future lies, two years after becoming a world-record buy, insisting he remains part of the French club's squad.

"The situation between Neymar and me is clear; it's now something between him and the club," the PSG boss said.

"He is part of the dressing room and will train with us tomorrow."

Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal has denied talks were opened with Antoine Griezmann in March, as has been claimed by Atletico Madrid.

Griezmann completed his long-awaited switch to Camp Nou last week and is expected to make his Barca debut on their pre-season tour of Japan.

Barca paid €120m for Griezmann but Atletico argue the fee they received should have been €200m as they claim the Catalan club were in talks with the striker before his release clause fell on July 1.

Griezmann announced his intention to leave Atletico in a social media video posted before the end of the LaLiga season, but the Rojiblancos say his move to Barca had been agreed some weeks earlier.

Reports in Spain have claimed the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has opened proceedings against Barcelona over the club's move for Griezmann but, in an interview with Le Parisien, Abidal said the move for the France forward was above board.

He said: "The president [Josep Maria] Bartomeu got in touch with Atletico Madrid to discuss the terms of a transfer for Griezmann and to inform them, if negotiations weren't possible, that Barca would pay his €120m buyout clause. It was €200m in March and €120m in July..

"Atletico are defending their interests and we are defending Barca's. We never had a prior agreement with the player. We got in contact with his lawyer after Griezmann announced he wanted to leave the club.

"We can always talk about interest. We can like a player because our sporting department says they'd fit the profile of what we are looking for. But this interest only became concrete when the player expressed his wish to join Barca.

"He was a very important player for Atletico Madrid. He can make a difference in the big matches and is capable of playing in various positions. He's still a great goalscorer and Barca need players like him."

Despite adding Griezmann to a forward line already containing Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele, Malcom and Philippe Coutinho, Barca have been linked with making a sensational move for Neymar.

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo has confirmed the Brazil forward wants to leave the French capital with a return to Camp Nou two years after his world-record move said to be Neymar's preferred option.

Barca are reported to have offered PSG a choice of six players - including Coutinho, Dembele and Malcom - as makeweights but Abidal suggested the club's work in the transfer market could be complete.

"We needed six attacking players and, with Griezmann, we have those six," he added. "After that, it's the coach [Ernesto Valverde] who makes the decisions."

Messi is reportedly pushing for Neymar's return with the Barca captain said to be underwhelmed by Griezmann's arrival.

"That isn't Messi's role," Abidal added. "If he gives his opinion on someone who players for another team, it's disrespectful to his current team-mates. I believe that's why Leo didn't want to talk about Antoine."

New Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong has welcomed speculation that Neymar could make a dramatic return to the LaLiga champions.

De Jong, 22, was signed by Barca from Ajax in January for a reported €75million, but only made the move at the end of the season.

Neymar has reportedly told Paris Saint-Germain that he wants to leave the club during the close season, two years after his world-record €222million transfer from Barca.

The Catalan club appear to be keen on bringing the Brazilian superstar back to Camp Nou and De Jong says he would relish the opportunity to play alongside him.

"Of course I would like to play with Neymar," he told Sport. "I think he's a really good player but it isn't up to me to decide if he comes to Barcelona or not."

De Jong will be tasked with supplying a mouth-watering attack in the 2019-20 season, led by Lionel Messi, and the Netherlands international is looking forward to teaming up with a player he considers to be the very best.

"I think he's the best player in the world," he said. "I'm looking forward to playing with all the guys, not only with Messi."

Barca were linked with a move for De Jong's former Ajax team-mate, Matthijs de Ligt, but the 19-year-old opted to join Serie A champions Juventus.

De Jong says he would have loved De Ligt to have joined him at Barca but believes he has made a positive move.

Asked if he was disappointed by De Ligt's decision, De Jong said: "No, I'm not disappointed. Not at all. Of course, I'd be happier if he had decided to join Barcelona, but it's his decision and he made it with his family, his agent and girlfriend.

"I'm happy for him. He's made a great move. I would rather see him at Barcelona but Juventus is a good move for him."

Ousmane Dembele, Samuel Umtiti and Ivan Rakitic have all been included in Barcelona's pre-season tour squad despite speculation they have been offered to Paris Saint-Germain.

The trio, as well as Malcom and Nelson Semedo, will head to Japan although reports have claimed they are among six Barca players who could be makeweights in a deal to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou.

Philippe Coutinho, the sixth member of the group, is not included in a squad of 26 players named by Ernesto Valverde as he remains on holiday following the Copa America.

Lionel Messi is absent for the same reason, as are Uruguay striker Luis Suarez and Brazil midfielder Arthur, but Antoine Griezmann could make his Barca debut along with fellow new arrival Frenkie de Jong.

Neymar, meanwhile, is not in PSG's squad for Saturday's pre-season game against Nurnberg despite the forward saying he is almost 100 per cent fit after missing the Copa America due to an ankle injury.

PSG said the club will "take appropriate action" against the Brazil star after he failed to report to pre-season training on time, although Neymar's father said the Ligue 1 champions knew when he would be arriving.

Barca's first pre-season game ahead of the 2019-20 campaign is against Premier League side Chelsea in the Rakuten Cup on Tuesday.

Three days later, Barcelona face a reunion with former players David Villa and Andres Iniesta when they take on Japanese side Vissel Kobe.

The defending LaLiga champions will then kick off the new league season away to Athletic Bilbao on August 16.

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