Barcelona midfielder Arthur will miss Saturday's LaLiga match with Real Sociedad due to an ankle injury.

The champions confirmed on Friday that Arthur has begun treatment on the problem, which could reportedly keep him sidelined for up to three weeks.

The news is a blow to Barca coach Quique Setien, who is already without Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele and Sergi Roberto for the visit of Sociedad.

Youngsters Riqui Puig and Alex Collado have been called up to the 18-man squad for the meeting at Camp Nou.

Arthur could now be a doubt for Barca's Champions League last-16 clash with Napoli on March 18, with the first leg in Italy having finished 1-1.

The 23-year-old was included in Tite's Brazil squad for their World Cup qualifying matches against Bolivia and Peru this month, despite his injury.

Lionel Messi's lean spell in front of goal is not causing Quique Setien to panic, with the Barcelona coach insisting "it could happen to anyone".

The usually prolific Messi has failed to score in six of his last seven games and was a peripheral figure in Sunday's 2-0 Clasico loss to Real Madrid.

That uncharacteristically unproductive run of form for Messi has coincided with Barca losing top spot in LaLiga, being knocked out of the Copa del Rey and being held to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Napoli.

However, speaking ahead of Saturday's home match with Real Sociedad, Setien claimed to be entirely unconcerned by Messi's apparent downturn.

"I don't care that he didn't score recently," said Setien. "If he scored it would be better, but it has never bothered me.

"It could happen to Leo or anyone. He is having chances and that is the important thing, that chances are generated. 

"He has been scoring goals for 14 years, if he now has a period in which he scores less it is not important."

Quique Setien insists Barcelona's Clasico defeat will not knock them off course as they seek to regain top spot in LaLiga on Saturday.

Barca were lacklustre in a 2-0 loss to Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu last weekend, with Zinedine Zidane's side replacing them at the summit.

The reigning champions have come under even closer scrutiny after assistant coach Eder Sarabia's expletive-laden outburst during the game, which Setien admitted was "a bit embarrassing".

With pressure building on the coach's shoulders, the visit of a Real Sociedad side enjoying a six-match winning run, including a Copa del Rey semi-final triumph, presents a significant challenge for Setien, who is nonetheless upbeat.

"I am calm because I know that we are going to face the game having got over the [Real Madrid] defeat," he said, with Barca a point behind a Madrid team who do not play until Sunday.

"There are no sequels of the Clasico. We are aware that we generated seven scoring chances, which is a significant number. That defeat will not affect us.

"I understand that it is very difficult for Barca and Madrid to win everything until the end.

"The league is very complicated, it is very difficult to win the matches against any team. We are motivated to keep the pace we want."

On the subject of the under-fire Sarabia, Setien said there was no need for his assistant to change his ways, but conceded he should moderate his language.

"He will be as he always has been," said Setien. "He just has to control the way he expresses himself a bit, but he will keep his character and that's it."

Setien will be without Arthur, who has suffered an ankle injury, but the coach does not know how long the midfielder will be out for. 

"He has pain, some discomfort, and we have to see how he evolves with the treatment," said Setien.

Barcelona know what they want to do with Philippe Coutinho should the attacker return to the club from Bayern Munich.

Coutinho is on a season-long loan at the Bundesliga club, who have an option to buy the Brazil international at the end of the campaign.

But Barca reportedly already have plans in place if the 27-year-old comes back to Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA PLAN TO USE COUTINHO AS MAKEWEIGHT IF HE RETURNS

Barcelona will use Coutinho as a makeweight in any of the huge deals they are planning in the close season, according to Sport.

The LaLiga giants are reportedly again targeting Neymar, who was linked with a return but ended up staying at Paris Saint-Germain last year.

PSG and Liverpool are rumoured to be interested in Coutinho, although Bayern have a €120million option to buy the playmaker.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus' interest in Mauro Icardi is ongoing. CalcioMercato reports Juve still want the forward, who is on loan at PSG from Inter, with the Ligue 1 club holding a €70m purchase option. Goal reports Juventus are also monitoring Santos teenager Kaio Jorge, who has a €50m release clause.

- Linked with a move to Bayern Munich, Leroy Sane may yet remain at Manchester City. The Telegraph reports the attacker, who has been sidelined with a serious knee injury, will consider staying at the Premier League club beyond this season.

- Hirving Lozano's Napoli stay may be short-lived. Corriere dello Sport reports Atletico Madrid have their sights set on the Mexico international, who is out of favour under Gennaro Gattuso in his first season at the Serie A club.

- Having dealt with defensive problems this season, Manchester City seemingly have a solution in mind. CalcioMercato reports the Premier League giants are ready to again make a move for Inter defender Milan Skriniar, a player they have been linked to previously.

- Already up to 15 goals this season, Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin appears set to be rewarded for his good form. The Times report the 22-year-old – apparently a target for Manchester United previously – is ready to sign a deal until 2025 with the Premier League club.

- Arsenal have started talks over a move for Feyenoord's 19-year-old playmaker Orkun Kokcu for £23m (€26.5m), according to the Daily Mail.

Jose Bordalas hit back at Frenkie de Jong over his criticism of Getafe's style of play, saying he had no interest in playing like Barcelona.

Getafe reportedly used De Jong's criticism as motivation to stun the midfielder's former club Ajax in the Europa League last 32.

But Bordalas responded by criticising Barcelona, who edged Getafe 2-1 when the teams met in LaLiga last month.

The Spaniard said he had no desire to see his side play like Barca, with goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen having played 69 passes – the fourth most on the pitch – in that clash.

"When we played against Barca, his goalkeeper gave 69 passes," Getafe coach Bordalas told Radio Marca on Thursday.

"I don't want my goalkeeper to give 69 passes, something we would not be doing well.

"I want to create goalscoring chances."

Getafe will face Inter in the last 16 of the Europa League, while they are fourth in LaLiga, 10 points behind second-placed Barcelona.

Quique Setien says the focus on Barcelona assistant Eder Sarabia's expletive-laden outburst during the Clasico defeat to Real Madrid is "embarrassing".

Barca lost their first Clasico under Setien last week and ceded top spot in LaLiga in the process, going down 2-0 to Madrid through goals from Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz.

Matters went from bad to worse for the Blaugrana, however, as television cameras picked up on Sarabia fuming at his own players on the bench.

Several Barca stars were picked out for criticism, yet Setien was not happy the comments were highlighted.

"It is a bit embarrassing that it becomes news and has a dimension like the one it has acquired," he told El Periodico.

"That is embarrassing, that the media use a camera that is permanently following you on the bench. It is something that should be eradicated. It is something that should end.

"You can't spend all day with your hand over your mouth. I don't have to force myself to cover my mouth. It's unfortunate that these things happen."

However, Setien was also apologetic and suggested Sarabia was working to ensure there would be no repeat.

"It has affected me a lot," the head coach said. "The first thing I think about is the club and the club's image. It must be a clean image – you have to take care of it.

"It is a topic that worries me a lot. It is something very important to me. You can criticise us because we make wrong the changes, because we set the team up wrong, for whatever, but not for our behaviour.

"You have to understand people and moments. Not everyone is the same. Eder is a kid who has a great temperament, which for many things is phenomenal. But you have to learn to control yourself.

"These situations are more and more sporadic, but it's something we don't like. It is no excuse that these situations are seen on the benches.

"It is an issue that Eder is trying to solve. He is a young kid, an impulsive kid, who has a lot of energy. But we are on the bench of a club you represent and the behaviour should be faultless."

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe are Paris Saint-Germain's star duo but they could be separated next season.

Barcelona and Real Madrid are eyeing Neymar and Mbappe respectively.

Ligue 1 champions PSG have reportedly made it clear who they want to keep.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR OUT FOR MBAPPE?

Paris Saint-Germain could sell Neymar in order to keep fellow superstar Kylian Mbappe, according to AS.

Neymar continues to be linked with a return to LaLiga champions Barcelona, while Mbappe is a long-term target for Real Madrid.

Amid ongoing speculation over Mbappe and a possible move to Madrid, PSG are reportedly willing to sacrifice Neymar to retain the France international.

Deportes Cuatro adds that Barcelona could offer up Antoine Griezmann to PSG in order to lure Neymar back to Camp Nou.

 

ROUND-UP

- Goal says Tottenham star Harry Kane would consider a move to Premier League rivals Manchester United at the end of the season. The England striker is reportedly weighing up his future in London.

- The future of Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is up in the air, reports Catalunya Radio. Mundo Deportivo, however, says the Germany international is committed to Barca.

- Corriere dello Sport claims Serie A high-flyers Lazio are ready to launch a €50million bid for Lyon star Memphis Depay.

Inter are lining up a move for Chelsea full-back Marcos Alonso, according to Calciomercato. A €30m (£26m) fee has been mooted.

Juventus are still looking to sign Mauro Icardi, Tuttosport claims. Icardi is on loan at PSG from Inter this season, however, Juve are reportedly willing to include either Paulo Dybala or Miralem Pjanic in any deal to sign the striker.

- Gazzetta dello Sport reports Everton and Premier League rivals Tottenham want to sign United defender Chris Smalling, who is on loan at Serie A side Roma.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is yet to decide his future but the veteran striker would be happy to extend his contract at Milan beyond this season, says Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira. Milan are in turmoil amid a row between board members Ivan Gazidis, Paolo Maldini and Zvonimir Boban.

Neymar is reportedly becoming Barcelona's top target again ahead of next season.

The Brazil international was heavily linked with a return to the LaLiga giants ahead of this season, but ended up staying at Paris Saint-Germain.

However, Barca are ready to try to land the forward once more.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR OBJECTIVE NUMBER ONE FOR BARCELONA

Neymar is Barcelona's top priority ahead of the 2020-21 season, according to Sport.

The cover of the Spanish sports daily reads: "Neymar objective number one".

It reports FIFA is also allowing Barcelona to negotiate more strongly with PSG than it did last year.

Neymar has scored 16 goals in 20 games in all competitions for PSG this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying with PSG and L'Equipe reports the Ligue 1 giants will not release France star Kylian Mbappe, or any of their players including Neymar, to play at the Olympics.

- Harry Kane may be sidelined with a hamstring injury, but his career at Tottenham remains a talking point. The Telegraph reports the forward will consider his future with Spurs at the end of the season as they face another campaign without silverware.

- Jadon Sancho continues to star for Borussia Dortmund and the 19-year-old is already up to 17 goals in all competitions this season. Bild reports the asking price for the England international has risen to £122million (€140m), with Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea said to be interested in the attacker.

- Real Madrid, PSG and Chelsea have already made contact with the agent of Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, according to Italian journalist Nicolo Schira, who says they are ready to offer the 21-year-old an annual salary of €8m.

- Appearing set for a Barcelona exit at the end of the season, Ivan Rakitic recently met with Atletico Madrid representatives, according to Marca.

- With plenty of changes seemingly ahead at Camp Nou, Mundo Deportivo reports Barcelona are in regular contact with the agency of Ferran Torres, the 20-year-old attacker who has caught the eye at Valencia.

Lautaro Martinez is a wanted man and his future could become clearer.

The Inter star has dazzled in Italy this season, alongside team-mate Romelu Lukaku.

And Barcelona are reportedly keen to tie up a deal for the Argentina international.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA TABLE MARTINEZ BID

Barcelona have made their first offer to Inter for star forward Lautaro Martinez, according to FCInterNews.it.

Martinez has reportedly been identified as a long-term replacement for Barca veteran Luis Suarez, while the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City and Manchester United are interested.

According to the report, LaLiga champions Barca have tabled a €70m bid for Martinez plus two players – Arturo Vidal and Nelson Semedo.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Telegraph says United are favourites to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho at the end of the season. Liverpool and Chelsea have also been linked with moves for the 19-year-old.

Athletic Bilbao are interested in Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain, reports Marca. Bilbao have a Basque-only transfer policy, however, Argentina international Higuain qualifies due to the Basque-French origin of his grandfather.

- Amid doubts over Martinez's future in Milan, Calciomercato says Inter are eyeing Atalanta forward Duvan Zapata.

- According to Goal, Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is considering a move to MLS outfit and sister club New York City. The 36-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic faces an uncertain future at Milan amid doubts over directors Zvonimir Boban and Paolo Maldini, claims Tuttosport. Boban and Maldini had reportedly been seeking to extend Ibrahimovic's contract until 2021 but the pair are reportedly set to leave San Siro following a row with Elliott Management.

Thibaut Courtois believes Real Madrid's decision to press Barcelona as they played out from the back paid off in El Clasico.

In his 50th LaLiga game as a Madrid player, goalkeeper Courtois made key first-half saves from Arthur and Lionel Messi.

That set the platform for second-half goals from Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz as Zinedine Zidane's men claimed a 2-0 home win on Sunday that put them top of LaLiga.

Courtois felt Madrid's tactics made the difference and was glad to have stepped up when it mattered with important stops before the break.

"Against Barcelona you can play in two ways: get into the area and defend or press and risk as they play out," he said to the club's official website.

"We did the latter very well and winning a Clasico is always good. 

"At 0-0 in the first half it was important not to concede any goals. When it was my turn I made good saves, like against Arthur and Messi. 

"Then in the second half we were better and made the difference."

Courtois felt Madrid had been playing well despite their recent defeats to Levante and Manchester City.

Now ahead of Barca by a solitary point, he has urged his team-mates not to take their foot off the gas ahead of the away match with Real Betis on March 8.

The Belgium international added: "We are ahead but we can't forget that there are 12 games left. 

"Next we visit Betis and if we want to win LaLiga we have to win there too.

"After our last results we have continued to work well. I think we played better in those games but we didn't win.

"Football is about small details and this time we got the win with the help of our fans. That is key and they have been incredible."

#POGBACK?

That was the hashtag used for Paul Pogba's high-profile return to Manchester Untied from Juventus in 2016 – a world-record transfer at the time.

The hashtag could be recycled as Pogba reportedly nears a return to Turin.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE 'FAR AHEAD' FOR POGBA

Juventus have stepped up their interest in wantaway Manchester United star Paul Pogba, according to Tuttosport.

The reports says Juve are already "far ahead" with Pogba in terms of contract talks as the Serie A champions look to start negotiating with United.

Pogba – valued at €100m (£86m) – left Juve for United in 2016 and the French midfielder has also been linked to Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Arsenal are eyeing Sassuolo forward Domenico Berardi as star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continues to be linked with an exit via Barcelona.

Milan remain interested in Juventus' Federico Bernardeschi despite failing to sign the Italy international in January, says Calciomercato.

Dries Mertens has been linked to Inter and Chelsea but the soon-to-be free agent is set to sign a new two-year deal at Napoli, according to widespread reports in Italy.

- According to La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira, Arsenal are working on extending Bukayo Saka's contract until 2025. The 18-year-old has been linked to the likes of Liverpool and United.

United are plotting a move for Stoke City's 18-year-old defender Nathan Collins, says The Sun.

Real Madrid did not deserve their 2-0 El Clasico victory over Barcelona, according to Guillermo Amor.

Madrid leapfrogged Barca atop the LaLiga table thanks to second-half goals from Vinicius Junior and substitute Mariano Diaz on Sunday.

Vinicius opened the scoring in the 71st minute before Mariano sealed the win in the second minute of stoppage time at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Madrid moved a point clear in the league standings but Barca director Amor told Movistar: "They pushed up and they pressed us. Their idea was to stop the game. They pressed and created chances.

"It proved costly for us, but I don't think they deserved the win. We were very dominant, they hit us quickly."

Amor added: "If we consider the first half then I think it was a very good performance. Very good. We had the game under control and had chances, but missed them.

"If you forgive a team like Real Madrid they'll have their chances. Once they scored they saw they could win and were encouraged."

It was a quiet evening for Barca captain and superstar Lionel Messi in the Spanish capital, where the six-time Ballon d'Or winner struggled to make an impact.

"He was good," Amor said. "He was great in the first half. He created, played and played.

"But when you lose, everything seems negative. We weren't bad though. We had a great first half and were the better team. But then things went crazy and we lost control."

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane hailed his players for regrouping from their Champions League collapse by upstaging Barcelona in the LaLiga El Clasico.

Pressure was on Madrid following their 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester City in the opening leg of the Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday.

Madrid conceded twice in five minutes during the final 12 minutes in a stunning finish against City, however, Zidane's side bounced back with a 2-0 victory over Barca on Sunday.

Vinicius Junior and substitute Mariano Diaz scored in the second half at the Santiago Bernabeu as Madrid leapfrogged defending champions Barca atop the LaLiga table.

Zidane expressed his pride post-match, telling reporters: "The reaction today has been important. The dressing room is not touched. It was a complicated week, but we prepared this game well. That means the players are in and want.

"We played 78 very good minutes and in the end we lost. Today we win playing well from start to finish. We need to stick to what we believe, but we know that it will be hard until the very end. We need to prove ourselves every time we play."

"We deserved the victory because of everything we did both defensively and offensively," Zidane added. "The first half was even and our press up front was not perfect. In the second half we improved our press and we were better up top.

"We really pushed them hard and almost overwhelmed them. These are three important points because it has been a difficult week and today we had the opportunity to change that. It's three points and we regained the lead, but we're going to have to fight to the end.

"We're happy because we've all shown that we've done very well and I'm proud of them because it's not easy to win like this. Our strength today was very important. The first thing is to defend well together and then we know that at any moment we can have opportunities to score goals.

"The second half was ours. We had a lot of chances to score and we netted twice. We kept a clean sheet and [Thibaut] Courtois was instrumental in that. We won the game as a team today."

Vinicius – at the age of 19 years and 233 days – became the youngest Clasico goalscorer this century, surpassing Barca superstar Lionel Messi with his 71st-minute opener before Mariano completed the win in stoppage time.

"Vinicius was good and he scored an important goal in an important game. I'm happy for him. He was good offensively and defensively he did a great job helping Marcelo with [Nelson] Semedo," Zidane said.

"He has conditions, but he is very young and sometimes the criticism is difficult. He has to live with that because he is at Real Madrid."

Sergio Ramos hit back at Gerard Pique over his criticism of Real Madrid, saying he would sign to win every El Clasico playing as badly as the Barcelona defender suggested.

Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz scored second-half goals as Madrid moved above Barca and into top spot in LaLiga with a 2-0 win on Sunday.

But the performance did little to impress Pique as the Barca defender said the hosts in the first half were "the worst Madrid" he has faced at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Madrid captain Ramos said he would happily win every Clasico playing how his side did.

"Everyone's opinion is respectable. I sign to win all Clasicos by making a first half as bad as he says," he told reporters, via AS.

"The approach was different. In the first half, we left the ball and in the second we decided to go.

"They were not so fresh and we started to generate chances."

With 12 LaLiga games remaining, Madrid hold a one-point lead over their rivals, having lost just two league matches this season.

While pleased with the advantage, Ramos urged his side to remain focused late in the campaign.

"That's right. After the latest results we wanted to claim [first] and what better way than at home and before a great team like Barca," the defender said.

"It was a unique opportunity to depend on ourselves. There are three important points but there is much left.

"We must have our feet on the ground."

Gerard Pique described Real Madrid's first-half performance as the worst he has faced in El Clasico encounters despite Barcelona suffering a 2-0 defeat at Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Madrid leapfrogged Barcelona into top spot in LaLiga after claiming their first Clasico league victory in almost four years, with Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz on the scoresheet.

Pique got a touch on Vinicius' opener but was unable to divert it away from his own net and he admitted his side's second-half display against their bitter rivals was not good enough.

But he also fired a broadside at Zinedine Zidane's men, saying Barcelona missed an opportunity to hurt them during a disjointed opening 45 minutes.

"Madrid in the first half was the worst Madrid I've faced at the Bernabeu," Pique told reporters. "We missed a chance to hurt them.

"We have to play better than in the second half, though. We lost balls and they grew in confidence.

"The feeling they [Madrid] transmitted was the worst, and I don't say it as a criticism. We all have problems in our clubs. But I have the feeling that it's an important missed opportunity.

"We are not very well, I say we lost the opportunity to hit the table. We had full control of the game. In the second half, we let them grow based on our losses and they scored a goal, and in the end the second one.

"It is a missed opportunity. In the first half, if we had taken advantage of several chances, we would have left with an advantage on the scoreboard."

The defeat left Barcelona a point behind Madrid with 12 LaLiga matches left to play, and Pique said his side's first Clasico league reverse since April 2016 was a painful one to swallow.

He called for the Blaugrana to raise their game going into the final weeks of the season in order to stay in the title race, and said the return to Camp Nou for their forthcoming clash with Real Sociedad would be a welcome one.

"We have been hit but not sunk," said Pique. "There is room for improvement, and we have enough to win LaLiga if we do things well until the end. But we have to do them well.

"Whenever you lose here, you get hurt because of the importance of the game and the points. If we won, it would have been an important step.

"We have to focus on improving, especially in the second half. Now games come at home, where we are more solvent.

"We will aim to win, game by game, and hope they [Madrid] slip up."

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