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."

LaLiga returns this week as Barcelona and Real Madrid resume their title tussle.

But it is not just at the top end of the table where scores must be settled, with top-flight survival and European spots up for grabs.

With Spanish football back on the agenda after a long coronavirus-enforced shutdown, we look at the best Opta Facts behind the next round of matches.

 

THURSDAY

Sevilla v Real Betis

- After winning in the reverse fixture this season (2-1), Sevilla are looking to complete the league double against Betis for the first time since 2016-17.

- Sevilla have won five of their past six home LaLiga games against Betis (L1), with that defeat coming in January 2018.

FRIDAY

Granada v Getafe

- Granada have only lost one of their past six games against Getafe (W3 D2), a 3-1 defeat at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez this season.

- Granada have suffered defeat to Getafe in a LaLiga game at Los Carmenes just once (W3 D1). 

Valencia v Levante

- Valencia are unbeaten in their 13 home LaLiga games against Levante (W9 D4), winning the previous five.

- Levante have won two of their 29 away LaLiga games against sides from their region (D8 L19), but both victories came against Villarreal in 2011.

SATURDAY

Espanyol v Deportivo Alaves

- Espanyol are unbeaten in their previous five home LaLiga games against Alaves (W3 D2).

- Alaves are unbeaten in their previous three LaLiga games (W1 D2), drawing the most recent two – they last drew three consecutive games in the top flight in February 1956.

Celta Vigo v Villarreal

- Celta have won their past three LaLiga games against Villarreal, after losing the previous four. They have never won four consecutive games against them in the top flight.

- After winning their first six games against Villarreal at Balaidos in LaLiga between 1999 and 2006, Celta have since been victorious in just one of their seven games against them in the competition (D3 L3), winning last time out (3-2 in March 2019).

Leganes v Real Valladolid 

- Valladolid have won just one of their nine games against Leganes in all competitions (D2 L6), a 2-0 success at the Jose Zorrilla in May 2015 in the second tier.

- Leganes have won all four of their home games against Valladolid in all competitions, one in LaLiga, two in the Segunda Division and another in the Copa del Rey, keeping a clean sheet in all four.

Real Mallorca v Barcelona

- Mallorca are winless in their last nine LaLiga games against Barcelona (D1 L8), losing the past six and conceding four goals per game on average in those defeats.

- Barcelona have lost five away games in LaLiga this season, their worst total in a single campaign since 2007-08 (six) under Frank Rijkaard.

SUNDAY

Athletic Bilbao v Atletico Madrid

- Athletic have only won one of their past 13 LaLiga games against Atletico (D2 L10), winning their most recent home game (2-0 in March 2019).

- Atletico are winless in their three away LaLiga games against Basque sides this season (D1 L2). They have always won at least one top-flight game a season against them under Diego Simeone.

Real Madrid v Eibar

- Madrid have lost just one of their 11 LaLiga games against Eibar (W9 D1) – 3-0 at Ipurua last season – while winning four of their five home matches in that run (D1).

- Only against Barcelona (41) have Eibar conceded more LaLiga goals than they have against Madrid (29), while they have only scored seven against Los Blancos and just two away from home.

Real Sociedad v Osasuna

- La Real have won their past three LaLiga games against Osasuna and could equal their best run against them in the top flight of four (also 1985-87, 1982-84, 1962-1981).

- Sociedad are unbeaten in their past six home LaLiga games against Osasuna (W4 D2), keeping a clean sheet in four of them, since a 2-1 defeat in November 2005.

LaLiga is set to resume this week after being suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

League president Javier Tebas was thrilled that authorities approved plans to get the season up and running again with the derby between Sevilla and Real Betis on June 11.

There are 11 rounds of the 2019-20 campaign remaining, with much to be decided at the top and bottom end of the table.

Barcelona had edged two points ahead of Real Madrid in the title race before the league went into lockdown.

Below is the full list of remaining fixtures:

 

Matchweek 28

Athletic Bilbao v Atletico Madrid
Celta Vigo v Villarreal
Espanyol v Deportivo Alaves
Granada v Getafe
Leganes v Real Valladolid
Real Mallorca v Barcelona
Real Madrid v Eibar
Real Sociedad v Osasuna
Sevilla v Real Betis
Valencia v Levante

Matchweek 29

Deportivo Alaves v Real Sociedad
Barcelona v Leganes
Real Betis v Granada 
Eibar v Athletic Bilbao
Getafe v Espanyol
Levante v Sevilla
Osasuna v Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid v Valencia
Villarreal v Real Mallorca
Real Valladolid v Celta Vigo

Matchweek 30

Athletic Bilbao v Real Betis  
Atletico Madrid v Real Valladolid
Celta Vigo v Deportivo Alaves
Espanyol v Levante
Getafe v Eibar
Granada v Villarreal
Real Mallorca v Leganes
Real Sociedad v Real Madrid
Sevilla v Barcelona
Valencia v Osasuna

Matchweek 31 

Deportivo Alaves v Osasuna
Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao
Real Betis v Espanyol
Eibar v Valencia
Leganes v Granada
Levante v Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid v Real Mallorca
Real Sociedad v Celta Vigo
Villarreal v Sevilla
Real Valladolid v Getafe

Matchweek 32

Athletic Bilbao v Real Mallorca
Atletico Madrid v Deportivo Alaves
Celta Vigo v Barcelona
Espanyol v Real Madrid
Getafe v Real Sociedad
Granada v Eibar
Levante v Real Betis 
Osasuna v Leganes
Sevilla v Real Valladolid
Villarreal v Valencia

Matchweek 33

Deportivo Alaves v Granada 
Barcelona v Atletico Madrid
Real Betis v Villarreal
Eibar v Osasuna
Leganes v Sevilla
Real Mallorca v Celta Vigo
Real Madrid v Getafe
Real Sociedad v Espanyol
Valencia v Athletic Bilbao 
Real Valladolid v Levante

Matchweek 34

Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid 
Atletico Madrid v Real Mallorca
Celta Vigo v Real Betis
Espanyol v Leganes
Granada v Valencia  
Levante v Real Sociedad
Osasuna v Getafe
Sevilla v Eibar
Villarreal v Barcelona
Real Valladolid v Deportivo Alaves

Matchweek 35

Athletic Bilbao v Sevilla
Barcelona v Espanyol
Real Betis v Osasuna
Celta Vigo v Atletico Madrid
Eibar v Leganes
Getafe v Villarreal
Real Mallorca v Levante
Real Madrid v Deportivo Alaves
Real Sociedad v Granada
Valencia v Real Valladolid

Matchweek 36

Deportivo Alaves v Getafe
Atletico de Madrid v Real Betis
Espanyol v Eibar
Granada v Real Madrid
Leganes v Valencia
Levante v Athletic Bilbao 
Osasuna v Celta Vigo
Sevilla v Real Mallorca
Villarreal v Real Sociedad
Real Valladolid v Barcelona

Matchweek 37

Athletic Bilbao v Leganes
Barcelona v Osasuna
Real Betis v Deportivo Alaves
Celta Vigo v Levante
Eibar v Real Valladolid
Getafe v Atletico Madrid
Real Mallorca v Granada
Real Madrid v Villarreal
Real Sociedad v Sevilla
Valencia v Espanyol

Matchweek 38

Deportivo Alaves v Barcelona
Atletico Madrid v Real Sociedad
Espanyol v Celta Vigo
Granada v Athletic Bilbao 
Leganes v Real Madrid
Levante v Getafe
Osasuna v Real Mallorca
Sevilla v Valencia
Villarreal v Eibar
Real Valladolid v Real Betis

Fernando Morientes believes Inter star Lautaro Martinez could fit in at either Barcelona or Real Madrid.

Martinez, 22, has been heavily linked with a move to Barca after a fine season during which he has scored 16 goals in 31 games.

Madrid also reportedly have an interest in the Argentina international, who is said to have a release clause of €111million.

Former Madrid and Spain forward Morientes feels Martinez would have no trouble fitting in at either of the LaLiga giants.

"In Spain, we were lucky to enjoy great Argentine players and coaches. They have a competitive gene that is very difficult to find anywhere in the world," he said, via Sport.

"Barcelona is very interested in buying him, but there has also been talk of Real Madrid although I think more about Barca.

"He is a very interesting player for either team. He has a very good vision of the game.

"He is one of the best forwards in the world at the moment and I think he could fit into either team."

A move to Barcelona would see Martinez reunite with international team-mate Lionel Messi.

Messi is out of contract next year, but Morientes believes the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is destined to finish his career at Camp Nou.

"I don't imagine him outside Barcelona. He reminds me of [Paolo] Maldini, [Francesco] Totti, [Carles] Puyol, like them," he said.

"He is a club player, one of those who have started and finished his career in a very powerful club. I don't even think about it.

"I hope he reaches an agreement. He is the most important player in Barcelona and he will be until the end of his career."

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien said he did not have "any doubts" over Lionel Messi's fitness as the superstar captain prepares to face Real Mallorca.

Messi returned to group training on Monday following concerns over a quadriceps injury that forced the six-time Ballon d'Or winner to train away from the squad.

LaLiga resumes on Thursday following a three-month break enforced by the coronavirus pandemic, with leaders Barca – two points clear of Real Madrid through 27 game – visiting Mallorca on Saturday.

Messi is set to face Mallorca after Setien told Catalunya Radio: "We didn't have any doubts over his availability against Mallorca.

"There have also been others with [injury] problems. He stopped [training] out of precaution."

Meanwhile, Luis Suarez has been declared fit to play for Barca in their final 11 matches of the 2019-20 season after recovering from the knee operation he underwent in January.

Suarez had surgery on the external meniscus of his right knee at the start of the year, having reportedly struggled with the issue for several months at that point.

Setien, however, is unsure whether the 33-year-old Uruguay international forward will start away to Mallorca.

"It's something that we have to talk about," Setien said. "I'm sure he could play from the start. It would be hasty for him to play the whole match. We don't know if he'll play from start to finish.

"He's doing very well, but we have to avoid putting him at risk. Any [injury] problem makes you miss three or four matches, which would be very damaging."

Setien added: "He's an extraordinary player. He has some qualities that any team would want.

"He's very active, he puts a lot of pressure on opponents and defences, his movement is good and he has great effectiveness. He's a great addition, without doubt."

Adama Traore has been linked with a move to Liverpool but his former manager Tony Pulis thinks he should "settle down" at Wolves and aim for the Spain squad.

Barcelona youth product Traore has enjoyed a fantastic 2019-20 at Wolves, where he has scored four goals and supplied seven assists in the Premier League while playing primarily as a wing-back under Nuno Espirito Santo.

The 24-year-old, with whom Pulis retains a good relationship following their time together at Middlesbrough, is reportedly wanted by league leaders Liverpool, plus Manchester City and Manchester United.

Former Stoke City boss Pulis believes Traore should be looking to lay down roots at Molineux and focus on breaking into the Spain set-up ahead of Euro 2020, which will be held next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pulis told Stats Perform News: "I think Adama always had the ability to play. The big thing was his confidence. I think I probably caught him at the right time. He had gone and worked for a few managers who weren't enamoured enough to play him on a regular basis.

"I obviously knew him as a West Brom manager watching [Aston] Villa, watched him in the reserves a few times. His pace and balance was just extraordinary.

"Going to Middlesbrough, he wasn't in the team when I got there but I wanted to make him a focal point of the team. We did that and the biggest thing with him is that he grew in confidence and he started to believe in himself.

"I made him my best friend. He used to come in and make me a cup of coffee after lunch and we would sit down and watch videos. He became a friend and he knew he'd be first pick on the team sheet. And the team understood what we could get from him and what we couldn't. Having said that, as the season progressed, he learned the other side of the game [defensive] well as well.

"You meet people in life who are really, really good people, and Adama is a really good person. You hope and pray those people get everything out of life that they possibly can.

"He's gone to Wolves - we didn't want to get rid of him at Middlesbrough, but the only problem was the finances… He went to the right club, stepped up and has murdered it.

"I think he can only get better. His temperament and personality is first class. His next step, I speak to him now and then, his next step is to get a place in the Spanish side.

"I'll be quite content for him, and I said this to him, to settle down. He seems happy at Wolves. He's playing under a manager that's confident with him and gives the respect Adama needs.

"But Adama's big challenge is seeing if he can get a place in the Spanish team and keep it."

During his time at the Riverside, Pulis did not enjoy the same sort of relationship with striker Martin Braithwaite, whom he is surprised to see now playing at LaLiga champions Barcelona.

"He was completely different to Adama in personality. Different traits as a player. I never thought Braithwaite wanted to be at Middlesbrough although he signed a contract," said Pulis.

"He spent more time telling me that he wanted to leave than be at the club. In the end I hope and pray that the club got a good price for him because they paid a lot for him. They certainly paid him an enormous amount of money wages-wise, it was just extraordinary.

"Am I surprised he's gone to Barcelona? Yes. Is he playing every week? I don't know. Is he going to play every week? I don't know. Was he my cup of tea? Adama was. Braithwaite wasn't."

Lautaro Martinez and Lionel Messi teaming up at Barcelona would have a positive impact on Argentina, according to the national team's assistant coach Roberto Ayala.

Having scored 16 goals in 31 appearances for Inter in 2019-20, Martinez is a target for LaLiga champions Barca and it was last week reported he had agreed a five-year deal at Camp Nou.

Former Napoli, Milan and Valencia centre-back Ayala has been impressed by the 22-year-old's development under Antonio Conte this season and the partnership he has struck up with Romelu Lukaku.

With the coronavirus pandemic meaning the Copa America has been postponed until 2021, Ayala thinks Martinez potentially playing with six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi at club level next term would be of huge benefit to Argentina.

The South American powerhouse have not won a senior international trophy since 1993, with Messi on the losing side in four finals during his career.

"The more matches they play together, the more they can get to know each other, it can be an advantage [for Argentina]," Ayala told Ole.

"But we will have to see if Lautaro plays for Barcelona or not because we can't forget [Luis] Suarez is there. We will see.

"It's an important decision Lautaro will have to make. Whatever he decides you have to respect because he's managing his career.

"The more chances of them playing together, the more they're going to understand each other.

"Lautaro is in a very important club at the moment and scoring goals in Italy is not easy.

"At Inter he's grown a lot and learned to earn his place. Inter trust in him a lot, his coach is empowering him, he found a partnership that complements him very well."

Inter are set to play their first game in over three months with a Coppa Italia semi-final against Napoli on Saturday, having lost the first leg 1-0 before football was suspended amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Francisco Trincao is similar to Neymar and is ready to make an impact at Barcelona, according to former Portugal international Nuno Gomes.

LaLiga champions Barca completed the €31million signing of Trincao in January but allowed him to stay at Braga for the rest of the 2019-20 season.

The 20-year-old, who was the joint-top scorer as Portugal won the European Under-19 Championship in 2018, has scored seven goals and supplied three assists in 18 Primeira Liga appearances this term, while also helping Braga beat Porto in the Taca da Liga final.

Nuno Gomes sees similarities between the left-footed Trincao and former Barca star Neymar and predicts his development will be rapid upon joining his new team-mates at Camp Nou.

"Trincao is very good and he's very young so it's a big step for him to play for Barcelona, let's see how things will develop. But I believe that he's ready to play because if you look at him from his early ages until now, he improved a lot," Gomes told Stats Perform News.

"But even now when you look at him, for him it doesn't matter if he's playing against Porto or Benfica or a lower team. I believe he plays the game for fun, he plays the game and it doesn't matter about the opponent.

"I believe Barcelona will give him even more strength and Barcelona will put him in difficult situations that will allow him to develop.

"Of course, to play for Barcelona if you are young you have to be better than your team-mates and you have to be aware that it will be not easy to arrive and to play in the first XI right away.

"But I think he will earn his place in the team with his quality and of course he will improve a lot with the players he will practice with every day and play together with – [Lionel] Messi for example, and other players will give him a lot of strength and a lot of things to improve even more.

"In terms of comparing him with another player, I don't know, maybe he's peculiar, he's one that you can never expect what he will be doing so maybe with all the respect Neymar, because Neymar is also a player that with the ball is unpredictable and Trincao looks a little bit like him, he plays in the wing also so maybe Neymar."

Chelsea are reportedly set to make a move for Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz.

Havertz, 20, has been linked with numerous European giants after impressing for the Bundesliga club.

The Germany international has attracted plenty of interest, but Chelsea are apparently ready to strengthen even further this close season.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA PREPARE HAVERTZ BID

Chelsea are preparing a bid for Bayer Leverkusen star Havertz, according to the Daily Mail.

The Premier League giants are expected to sign RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner and Havertz could follow him to Stamford Bridge.

Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are among the other clubs reportedly interested in Havertz, who is rated at £75million.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United have been linked to James Rodriguez previously and the playmaker could yet end up at Old Trafford. The Sun reports United have been asked about a cut-price deal for James, who is out of contract at Real Madrid next year.

- Staying at Manchester United and Sport reports they were prepared to pay £88.8m (€100m) for 17-year-old Barcelona forward Ansu Fati, but the LaLiga giants have no plans to let the teenager leave.

- Out of contract at the end of June, Adam Lallana could extend his Liverpool stay – at least briefly. The Daily Mail says the midfielder is on track to agree a short-term deal with the Premier League leaders to stay until the end of the season, before being expected to join Leicester City.

- Memphis Depay has enjoyed a strong season at Lyon, but the attacker is out of contract next year. CalcioMercato reports talks are moving slowly, leading to interest in the Netherlands international from AC Milan and potentially Everton.

- Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell is linked with a switch. The Evening Standard reports Chelsea have the advantage over Manchester City in the chase for the England international due to the latter's Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing as they challenge their European ban.

- With Alex Sandro contracted until 2023, Juventus seemingly have no plans to sell the left-back. According to CalcioMercato, the 29-year-old is not for sale – but he is also not untouchable.

Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta hopes Barcelona do not pay Lautaro Martinez's release clause but vowed to replace the forward with a star if he leaves.

Martinez has been linked with a move to the LaLiga giants, with Inter insisting the Argentina international's release clause of €111million will need to be paid.

Marotta again reiterated the Serie A side had no interest in selling Martinez, but said a star would be signed if the 22-year-old leaves.

"It is difficult to pronounce on his future at this moment, but I say to him – stay focused on the present, there is a season that resumes, there are goals to hit," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"There is no desire of the property to sell Lautaro. He is young, has the future of his own and is a functional element for [Antonio] Conte. Then, of course, there is a clause.

"I don't know what Barcelona think, maybe they will also have alternatives. I hope they don't pay the clause. If Lautaro [leaves], a top player will arrive.

"But in this market, at European level the real difficulty will not be having to buy, but being able to sell. I would say one thing in general – Neymar-style operations, in which one team goes and takes one player away from another, will not be seen for many years."

Inter have been linked with a move for Edinson Cavani, whose contract with Paris Saint-Germain expires at the end of the season.

But Marotta said a deal for Cavani, who has scored seven goals in 22 games this season, was still some way off.

"It is one of the opportunities, it is being monitored as an expiring footballer," he said.

"But we did not go into the matter further: at the moment he is quite far from Inter."

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