Southampton have completed the signing of centre-back Mohammed Salisu from Real Valladolid for a reported £10.9million (€12m).

The 21-year-old, who made 32 appearances for Valladolid in all competitions in 2019-20, has signed a four-year deal at St Mary's Stadium.

Salisu is Southampton's second signing of the close season following the arrival of Kyle Walker-Peters from Tottenham on Tuesday.

Manchester United, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid were all linked with the highly rated defender, but he is pleased to have joined Ralph Hasenhuttl's side.

"It is a very good feeling to be a Southampton player. I am very happy to be part of the club and I am looking forward to starting here," Salisu said in a Southampton statement.

"Southampton is a club with a very rich history in developing young players, so it is a very good club for me to develop my skills and to learn a lot as a young player.

"I know that the team expects a lot from me and I'm going to try to give all I can to help the team."

Southampton finished 11th in the Premier League last season and are looking to rebuild, having also sold midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to Tottenham for £20m.

Hasenhuttl is pleased with his latest capture and is expecting Salisu to slot straight into the side. 

"This is an important signing for us, Mohammed is a player who fits our profile well," the Austrian said.

"He is young and has a great amount of potential, but he is also someone who has the qualities to come in and help the team as soon as he is up to speed with our way of playing.

"I like what I have seen of him so far in his games with Valladolid. He is strong defensively, is calm with the ball - something that is important in our team - and he has good speed too.

"I think he will fit in well with us and that this will be a good place for him to develop his game further. We have some good centre-backs here and this will be another strong option for us."

Manchester City are set to make a splash in the transfer market and defence is the area in the spotlight.

City struggled defensively in the absence of injured star Aymeric Laporte following Vincent Kompany's exit, while there are doubts over John Stones' future in Manchester.

Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly and Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake are reportedly high on Pep Guardiola's wish list as he attempts to strengthen his squad after watching Liverpool coast to the Premier League title.

 

TOP STORY – CITY NOTIFY NAPOLI OF KOULIBALY INTENT

Manchester City have informed Napoli they are ready to make an offer for star defender Kalidou Koulibaly, according to Sky Sport Italia.

Pep Guardiola has set his sights on Koulibaly, who has also been linked to the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

City are willing to bid €65million (£58m) but Napoli are still holding out for €100m (£90m).

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying in Manchester and Sky Sports says City are in talks with Bournemouth over the signing of another defender – Nathan Ake. The Guardian claims City are poised to beat neighbours United and Chelsea to the Netherlands international.

- Sky Germany reports Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz has agreed terms with Chelsea as he moves closer to arriving at Stamford Bridge. Havertz has been linked to Madrid, United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Barcelona but he appears set to join Chelsea. Win Sports TV journalist Pipe Sierra, meanwhile, claims Chelsea and Leverkusen have agreed an €85m (£77m) fee plus €15m (£13.5m) in bonuses.

Juventus are eyeing former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino as a possible replacement for head coach Maurizio Sarri, according to La Stampa.

- The Daily Mail says Southampton are set to sign Real Valladolid defender Mohammed Salisu. The 21-year-old has reportedly attracted interest from United and Atletico Madrid.

Theo Hernandez has no plans to leave Milan amid interest from Ligue 1 champions PSG, reports Calciomercato. Hernandez is enjoying a fine season with a resurgent Rossoneri team under Stefano Pioli.

- Gianluca Di Marzio claims there is a €60m agreement between Napoli and Lille for Victor Osimhen but the Serie A outfit still has to resolve matters with the forward's new agent.

Quique Setien said Lionel Messi needed a rest as his "tired" Barcelona kept the pressure on Real Madrid with a 1-0 win over Real Valladolid.

Messi set up Arturo Vidal's 15th-minute goal on Saturday as Barca moved back within a point of rivals and LaLiga leaders Madrid, who have a game in hand.

But the superstar attacker played 90 minutes as Barca's busy schedule continued and Setien said afterwards that Messi needed a rest.

"He probably will get a rest, yes," the Barcelona coach told a news conference.

"I've mentioned it to him previously and perhaps today if we'd got a couple more goals, as I think we deserved, he probably would have come off to get a little bit of a rest."

Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez, meanwhile, each played 45 minutes, with the Uruguayan replacing the France international at half-time.

Setien, who said Griezmann had taken a "knock", feels Barca were tired after a third game in the space of a week.

"I think it's mostly tired legs. It's less than 72 hours since we played our last game," he said.

"It was very hot today and the pitch felt a lot bigger towards the end of the match. You could see that, a lot of players were not looking fresh on late in the game and they probably lacked that touch of intensity.

"We've played many games and it's very draining and we have quite a few players who've played a lot of minutes so we can't blame our football, I blame mostly our tired legs for today's game.

"Sometimes that can affect your decision making, but this is normal for the current situation we're in."

Arturo Vidal vowed Barcelona will fight all the way after a scrappy 1-0 win at Real Valladolid kept their title hopes alive.

Had they dropped points for a fourth time since LaLiga's restart, there would surely have been no coming back for Quique Setien's side.

But Vidal's fine finish in the 15th minute, coupled with a second-half starring role for goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, kept pressure on leaders Real Madrid.

Until Zinedine Zidane's team cannot be caught, there will always be hope in the Barcelona ranks that Los Blancos might stumble.

"We know it depends. We just have to win all the games that we have remaining," Vidal said in a post-match interview.

"It doesn't depend on us. We just have to do what we have to do and see what the other teams around us do."

There is only one "other team" that Barcelona are concerned about, and Madrid will go to Granada on Monday hoping to capitalise on their game in hand by going four points clear with two games to play.

Barcelona have German shot-stopper Ter Stegen to thank for the fact Madrid cannot be crowned champions in that game, given that would have been the case had Setien's team dropped points in Valladolid.

Barcelona missed chances, particularly in the first half, which saw one awful fluffed effort from Antoine Griezmann, who missed his kick from in front of goal.

By the closing stages, the final whistle could not come soon enough for the flagging visiting players.

"We had our chances and didn't take them and we knew they'd have theirs," Vidal said.

"We have to improve going forward and take our chances. The important thing is we've done what we came here to do and we've got three points."

It was a hot early evening in Valladolid, and Vidal indicated Barcelona were feeling the pace in the second half.

"It's difficult against a team that were very hard to play and they played very well. Also, the conditions complicated things slightly, but I'm glad we won," he said.

"We knew we'd have to work very hard and wouldn't necessarily be able to maintain our rhythm throughout.

"We wanted to improve. We kept ourselves in the title race and that's the most important thing."

 

Lionel Messi's clever pass to set up Barcelona's opening goal against Real Valladolid on Saturday saw him reach a notable double in LaLiga.

Arturo Vidal was the beneficiary of Messi's short ball from the edge of the penalty area, with the Chilean sending a low shot in off the left post to nudge Barcelona 1-0 ahead.

It means Messi has achieved the stunning feat of both scoring and creating 20-plus goals in the Spanish top flight this season, having already netted 22 times prior to the trip to Valladolid.

No other player has ever achieved the individual double during a single campaign in Spain in the 21st century, while the only other to do so in Europe's top five leagues is Thierry Henry, who managed 24 goals and 20 assists for Arsenal in 2002-03.

Messi is also the first in LaLiga to register 20 assists in a season since former team-mate Xavi in the 2008-09 campaign, when Barca won the league, Copa del Rey and Champions League under Pep Guardiola.

Although Messi's strike rate this season has not yet reached the heights of recent times, the 33-year-old has managed a combined haul of 40 or more goals and assists in LaLiga for a sixth successive campaign.

Barcelona will keep Real Madrid waiting for the coronation that is surely coming their way after Arturo Vidal's strike secured a 1-0 win at Real Valladolid. 

The gap at the top of LaLiga is down to a single point, but Madrid can go four clear with two rounds of games remaining when they face Granada in their game in hand on Monday. 

Lionel Messi provided the killer pass that gave Vidal the chance to strike the 15th-minute goal that sank Valladolid, a 20th assist of the league season for the Argentinian. 

Had Barcelona failed to win Saturday's game at Estadio Jose Zorrilla, Madrid would have had the opportunity at Granada to clinch the title with two games to spare. Now it cannot come until Thursday at the earliest. 

Worryingly for Barcelona, they came into this game with just three wins from their last nine away games in LaLiga, but nerves were soon calmed by Vidal's fine finish. 

The Chilean midfielder received a lovely dink through from Messi and quickly got away a shot low across goal, his strike going in off the left post. 

Messi's assist made him the first player to reach the 20 mark in a single campaign in the Spanish top flight since Xavi in Barcelona's 2008-09 treble-winning year. 

Taking into account his 22 goals this term too, Messi can hardly be blamed for Barcelona missing out on the title. 

Antoine Griezmann, however, chosen ahead of Luis Suarez for this game, continues to flatter to deceive. 

He squandered an early half-chance before missing a sitter four minutes after Barcelona's breakthrough, getting his feet in a pitiable tangle when Nelson Semedo's skidding low cross from the right reached him eight yards from goal. 

Full-back Semedo had a thumping shot saved by Jordi Masip before Barcelona were thankful for Kike Perez stumbling after getting in behind their defence as the hosts sought an equaliser. 

Suarez unsurprisingly replaced Griezmann for the second half, with coach Quique Setien looking for more from a Messi sidekick than the Frenchman had been able to provide. 

Perez, Javi Sanchez and Enes Unal all had chances for Valladolid but could not make them count, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen kept busy, while Messi saw a free-kick tipped over by Masip, the king of the assists always a threat. 

Lionel Messi's clever pass to set up Barcelona's opening goal against Real Valladolid on Saturday saw him make LaLiga history.

Arturo Vidal was the beneficiary of Messi's short ball from the edge of the penalty area, with the Chilean sending a low shot in off the left post to nudge Barcelona 1-0 ahead.

It means Messi has achieved the stunning feat of both scoring and creating 20-plus goals in the Spanish top flight this season, having already netted 22 times prior to the trip to Valladolid.

No other player has ever achieved the individual double during a single campaign in Spain, while the only other to do so in Europe's top five leagues is Thierry Henry, who managed 24 goals and 20 assists for Arsenal in 2002-03.

Messi is also the first in LaLiga to register 20 assists in a season since former team-mate Xavi in the 2008-09 campaign, when Barca won the league, Copa del Rey and Champions League under Pep Guardiola.

Although Messi's strike rate this season has not yet reached the heights of recent times, the 33-year-old has managed a combined haul of 40 or more goals and assists in LaLiga for a sixth successive campaign.

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien believes fairness has prevailed after UEFA confirmed the second leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter against Napoli will take place at Camp Nou.

Friday's draw for the final stages of the Champions League handed Barca a tough-looking route to glory if they manage to successfully negotiate their Serie A opponents.

Bayern Munich are the likely quarter-final foes for the winner of that tie, as they hold a 3-0 first-leg advantage ahead of Chelsea's visit to the Allianz Arena.

The winner of that game will take on whoever comes out of the Real Madrid or Manchester City v Lyon or Juventus clashes, meaning a semi-final Clasico in Lisbon is a possibility.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's trip to Real Valladolid in LaLiga, where victory is essential to preserve Barca's fading LaLiga title hopes, Setien was in no mood to be drawn on such permutations.

However, the decision to make Napoli travel to Camp Nou and not stage the concluding game of the tie at a neutral venue pleased him.

"I didn't have much in the way of expectations for the draw. I think it's important that we focus on the game against Napoli, which is the key," he said.

"We know that we're going to be playing at home now, which is something that I think is fair.

"As for the rest of the draw, it's okay to know what it is and it's good to analyse some of the possible opponents.

"But the first thing we have to do is focus on the work for the game tomorrow against Valladolid. We need to take three points. Then the game against Napoli is vital for us. When the moment comes we will face that.

"First we need to keep our option open for winning the title."

Junior Firpo is back in the Barca squad to face Valladolid but Arthur is an injury absentee.

The Brazil midfielder has not featured for the Blaugrana since his pending switch to Juventus was confirmed but Setien insisted his omission is purely because he is not fit.

"It is a specific issue," he said. "His involvement is the same. He tries to give his best in each training session.

"Next week he will overcome this process he has and will return to action. We are going to need everyone."

Setien is set to have another boost to his midfield options after Frenkie de Jong returned to training from a calf problem.

"We considered taking him on the trip [to Valladolid] but we have thought the best thing is [to wait until] he has really good feelings.

"We preferred not to take risks and wait a few more days for the sensations to be excellent."

If Real Madrid beat Deportivo Alaves on Friday, Barca will take to the field four points in arrears, with an inferior head-to-head record and three games remaining for both sides.

Nevertheless, Setien is not ready to give up just yet.

"Everything can happen in football," he added. "We have seen inexplicable things. 

"We must focus on what is ours and wait for that opportunity that the rival in front of us may fail."

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone hailed his team's late win over Real Valladolid as they boosted their chances of finishing in LaLiga's top four.

Vitolo came off the bench and headed home the 81st-minute winner for Atletico in a 1-0 victory at home to Valladolid on Saturday.

Atletico moved back up to third in the standings – level on points with Sevilla through 30 games and four clear of Getafe – in the race for Champions League qualification.

"It's always important to take something from a game and even better when you win," Simeone said.

"There were things to improve, but we've had three months without a normal preparation and then you're playing every three days.

"There's a need to adapt and reinvent yourself, given the circumstances. This was a very important win.

"We had chances in the first half and couldn't score, then in the second half it was tough against a very organised side.

"We could have won or lost, but we achieved a great result."

Atletico played behind closed doors at the Wanda Metropolitano due to the coronavirus pandemic and Simeone added: "The fans weren't there in the flesh, but they were there in spirit.

"The minute of silence before the match and the music in the empty stadium were pure emotion. We lost many people."

Vitolo, whose Atletico eliminated titleholders Liverpool en route to the Champions League quarter-finals this season, said: "The club's goal is to quality for the Champions League next season.

"There are many teams that trying and it will be decided in the last matches. Hopefully we can enter and give the fans a joy."

Atletico Madrid had substitute Vitolo to thank as they boosted their prospects of Champions League football next season with a 1-0 win over Real Valladolid at the Wanda Metropolitano.

A clutch of chances had been spurned by the time Vitolo came off the bench to replace Marcos Llorente with 17 minutes remaining, with Joao Felix and Alvaro Morata going close.

When the breakthrough came in the 81st minute it was dramatic, Vitolo heading at goal after a corner from the left reached him at the far post.

Valladolid defender Kiko Olivas felt he had nodded it off the line after diving spectacularly to reach the ball, but replays showed it was six inches over and Atletico moved back up to third.

Manchester United could be edging closer to landing Fiorentina star Federico Chiesa.

Chiesa, 22, has been heavily linked with a move away from the Serie A club, where he came through the youth system.

And the Italy international could be on his way to the Premier League.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD GETTING CLOSER TO CHIESA

Manchester United are pushing for Chiesa and their latest offer could be enough to start proper negotiations, according to La Nazione.

Chiesa has also been linked with Juventus and Inter with his contract in Florence running until 2022.

A 17-time Italy international, Chiesa has scored seven goals and provided three assists in 26 games this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Joao Felix has yet to hit top form at Atletico Madrid. Goal reports the LaLiga club turned down a £135million (€150m) offer from a Premier League side earlier this season.

- Chelsea could yet strengthen further. The Daily Express says they are in talks to sign Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell, who is said to be valued at £80m. Chelsea will have Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner arrive at the club ahead of next season.

- David Luiz's future at Arsenal remains uncertain following his horror show against Manchester City on Wednesday. According to the Daily Mail, the Brazilian defender wants a two-year deal, rather than the one being offered. Luiz is coming out of contract at the end of the month.

- Could Edin Dzeko's time at Roma be coming to an end? Corriere dello Sport reports Roma need to qualify for the Champions League to keep the striker at the club. Dzeko is contracted until 2022, while Roma are three points behind fourth-placed Atalanta in Serie A.

- Morgan Schneiderlin is set to return to France. RMC Sport says the midfielder will leave Everton to join Nice, returning to Ligue 1 for the first time since 2008.

- Staying at Goodison Park and Everton have joined the race for Real Valladolid defender Mohammed Salisu, according to the Mirror.

Marcos Llorente's eye for goal in training has persuaded Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone to use the midfielder in more advanced positions. 

Llorente was Atletico's hero with a two-goal salvo in extra time to inspire a thrilling last-16 Champions League win over holders Liverpool in March. 

That was Atleti's last game before the coronavirus shutdown but Simeone was evidently keen to see more of the same when they resumed at Athletic Bilbao last weekend, with the 25-year-old deployed behind Diego Costa in a 1-1 draw. 

Llorente was on the bench for the midweek trip to Osasuna but came on with devastating effect during the second half – scoring once and laying on late goals for Alvaro Morata and Yannick Carrasco in a 5-0 romp. 

That goal and his Anfield brace account for three quarters of the ex-Real Madrid man's season haul, but Simeone feels he has spotted a prolific quality to Llorente's work – citing his previous success in redeploying Antoine Griezmann. 

"I saw Griezmann, who could play as a second striker or on the point of the attack, when everyone said he was a winger," Simeone told a news conference ahead of Saturday's LaLiga match against Real Valladolid. 

"Lucas [Hernandez, Bayern Munich's former Atletico centre-back] was world champion [with France] at left-back. 

"When the players show they have the tools, we must be attentive as coaches to take advantage of it. 

"We saw he was making goals, goals and goals in training and that is very important in the world of football." 

Morata was on target after coming off the bench to replace Diego Costa, having also been used as a substitute against Athletic. 

Simeone insists both strikers are a key part of his plans in a reconfigured attack. 

"I spoke to them a week before the start of LaLiga and I transmitted what I feel, they are very important players,” he said. 

"Each one can be useful to the team, both are very committed." 

Costa was awarded a commemorative plaque by team-mate Koke on behalf of the club after making his 200th Atletico appearance at Osasuna. 

"It's an honour to reach 200 games for Atleti," said the former Chelsea man, who is in his second spell with Simeone's team.

"When I arrived I wanted to play and feel I was important but never imagined I to reach such a milestone."

The Valladolid game will be Atletico's first at their Wanda Metropolitano home since LaLiga resumed behind closed doors.

They lie fourth in the battle for Champions League qualification and Costa added: "We all know we have the best fans in Spain, if not the world. We're going to miss their presence, but we know what we have to do.

"We have nine finals ahead of us and we have to win. We have to play as if the fans were here to earn the three points."

Brazil legend Ronaldo would try and lure Kylian Mbappe to Real Valladolid if he had Real Madrid's budget, revealing he sees similarities between himself and the France international. 

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo stated recently that the club has no intention of selling star duo Mbappe or Neymar. 

Mbappe has often been linked with a big-money move to Madrid but has two years remaining on his contract. 

Former Madrid star Ronaldo is a majority shareholder of LaLiga side Valladolid and can only dream of being in a position to sign the World Cup winner, who had scored 18 goals in 20 league appearances before the season was cut short in France. 

Speaking at a media event sponsored by Santander Bank, Ronaldo said: "I would sign Mbappe [if Valladolid had Madrid's money], he is the one who most reminds me of me and my playing times." 

Ronaldo also spoke of his admiration for Erling Haaland, but is not convinced Madrid would need the Borussia Dortmund striker while they have Karim Benzema.

"Haaland is a great player, he is still young and has had a pretty good year with many goals, we will see how he ends it," he said.

"Surely big teams are going to be watching, but Real Madrid have good players, like Benzema who scores goals every Sunday."

Real Madrid have agreed to sell young defender Javi Sanchez to fellow LaLiga side Real Valladolid.

The 23-year-old was loaned out to Valladolid on a season-long arrangement last July but has been plagued by ankle problems throughout the campaign.

In fact, his two-minute cameo from the bench against Leganes on Saturday was his first LaLiga appearance of the campaign.

Sanchez came through the ranks at Madrid having joined the club's academy when he was eight.

Last season he made appearances in LaLiga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League for Los Blancos.

Valencia were rumoured to be keen on Sanchez back in February but he has now signed a deal with Valladolid until June 2024.

LaLiga has confirmed the season will restart with a Seville derby on June 11 and the campaign will wrap up on July 19, it was confirmed on Sunday.

Suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, LaLiga will get back underway with a clash between Sevilla and Real Betis.

The remaining 11 matchdays will be played in less than six weeks as Barcelona and Real Madrid battle for the title.

Barca were two points clear of their bitter rivals when the season was stopped due to COVID-19, which has killed more than 373,000 people worldwide.

Quique Setien's men return to action with a trip to Real Mallorca on June 13, a day before Madrid host Eibar.

Barcelona also host Atletico Madrid on July 1 before facing rivals Espanyol in a derby clash a week later.

Barcelona's remaining fixtures
June 13: Real Mallorca (A)
June 16: Leganes (H)
June 21: Sevilla (A)
June 24: Athletic Bilbao (H)
June 28: Celta Vigo (A)
July 1: Atletico Madrid (H)
July 5: Villarreal (A)
July 8: Espanyol (H)
July 12: Real Valladolid (A)
July 15: Osasuna (H)
July 19: Deportivo Alaves (A)

Real Madrid's remaining fixtures
June 14: Eibar (H)
June 18: Valencia (H)
June 21: Real Sociedad (A)
June 24: Real Mallorca (H)
June 28: Espanyol (A)
July 1: Getafe (H)
July 5: Athletic Bilbao (A)
July 8: Deportivo Alaves (H)
July 12: Granada (A)
July 15: Villarreal (H)
July 19: Leganes (A)

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