Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is unsure how long Eden Hazard will be sidelined, but said the attacker was "upset" after another injury setback.

Hazard, 29, is enduring a torrid run in Madrid, and is yet to make an appearance this season.

The Belgium international was ready to return from an ankle problem, but suffered a muscle injury that saw him miss Wednesday's 1-0 LaLiga victory over Real Valladolid.

Zidane is unsure how long Hazard, signed for a reported €100million from Chelsea last year, will be unavailable.

"I can't tell you how long it'll be. He picked up a bit of a knock in training before the game," he told a news conference.

"It looked like a muscle spasm but in the end it turned out to be a bit more than that. It's something muscular. It's nothing to do with the injury he's had and these things happen.

"He's been out for a long time. I don't think this one will be long but I can't tell you exactly."

Hazard has struggled to impress since arriving at Madrid, where he scored one goal and provided three assists in 16 LaLiga appearances last season.

Zidane said the former Lille star was disappointed after his latest injury.

"He's upset because he was all right. We talked about it at the press conference before the match, but he's had a setback and these things can happen," he said.

"He's not happy, he knows that it's not a big thing and we have to take it easy with him. It's a question of little time, I'm sure."

After earning seven points from their opening three LaLiga games, Madrid visit Levante on Sunday.

Vinicius Junior felt his introduction alongside Marco Asensio turned Real Madrid's LaLiga meeting with Real Valladolid in the champions' favour.

Brazilian Vinicius grabbed the only goal in Wednesday's 1-0 win after arriving from the bench in the 58th minute.

Madrid had dominated up to that stage, but Luka Jovic – the man Vinicius replaced – missed two big chances and had a third well saved by Roberto.

With Jovic continuing to toil amid reports of interest from Manchester United, Zinedine Zidane turned to his bench and made a triple change, with Dani Carvajal joining Vinicius and Asensio.

Although the pattern of the game did not vastly change, Vinicius found the net and later hailed Zidane's substitutions.

"We are all happy with the game," the 20-year-old said. "The first half was more complicated, but Zidane changed the system in the second.

"He brought Asensio and I on and we were able to change the game."

It was a second straight win for Madrid, although they were similarly made to work hard in a 3-2 success at Real Betis.

"It was a different game from Betis," Vinicius said. "[Valladolid] put a lot of people behind the ball, but the important thing is that we won both games."

Jovic's struggles were further evidence of a slow start for Madrid's attack this season, having drawn 0-0 at Real Sociedad in their LaLiga opener.

But Vinicius is encouraged by the way the team's defence is performing to keep their misfiring team-mates in matches.

"It's the beginning of the season – we haven't play friendlies and we had little time to train," he said.

"We know that if we do not concede, we have many options in attack. We continue working with Zidane to improve up front. The system depends on the players and each opponent."

Vinicius Junior came to Real Madrid's rescue as a sluggish start to their LaLiga season continued with a 1-0 home win over Real Valladolid on Wednesday.

Madrid were held to a goalless draw at Real Sociedad in their opener and then required a late Sergio Ramos penalty to beat Real Betis on Saturday, and a lack of cutting edge threatened to prove costly on their return to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Luka Jovic – a reported Manchester United target – was particularly guilty, missing two golden chances before the break.

Jovic’s frustration was compounded in the second half – his replacement Vinicius on hand to snatch a precious winner to send Madrid level with leaders Getafe.

The frustrating tone was set early as Roberto made an instinctive stop to keep Madrid at bay in the 10th minute, springing to his right to turn Federico Valverde's cushioned volley around the post.

Jovic helped craft that chance, but the former Eintracht Frankfurt man soon squandered a huge opportunity of his own as he inexplicably missed the target when found in front of goal by Valverde.

He was wasteful again 10 minutes before half-time, lashing past the left-hand post following a smart Luka Modric touch.

The Serbia forward saw a header saved by Roberto after the restart, with Casemiro slamming the rebound against the crossbar, with a subsequent chance for Shon Weissman – who was denied by Thibaut Courtois – provoking Zinedine Zidane into a triple-change.

Jovic was among those to make way and the move prompted the opener, with Vinicius profiting on a deflection in the area to finish coolly.

Courtois had to be alert to parry away a wayward Raul Garcia cross, yet Madrid might have added to their lead in the closing stages as Modric exposed Roberto's poor positioning but struck the base of the upright.

What does it mean? Madrid doing just enough

Madrid played some good football in the closing stages of last season as they clinched the title, but they are just getting by in the opening weeks of the new campaign. They were comfortable in terms of possession, enjoying 63 per cent, while they had five shots on target, yet Zidane will hope more straightforward victories are to follow.

Courtois kept busy

The chances that fell Jovic's way could have seen Madrid home and dry by half-time, but with his outfield team-mates wasteful, Courtois had to step up. The Belgium goalkeeper pulled off five saves in all, with each of them coming at crucial ventures, most notably a fine stop from Weissman at 0-0. 

Luka's luck not turning

Jovic may eventually get a second chance at Madrid if he returns from an expected loan move away, but this performance summed up his spell at Los Blanco so far. The 22-year-old has scored just twice in all competitions for Madrid but had three chances to improve that tally here. Only one of his trio of efforts hit the target and he was replaced after 58 minutes. 

What's next?

Madrid are in LaLiga action again on Sunday at Levante, while Valladolid host Eibar a day earlier.

Eden Hazard has suffered a fresh injury blow, with Real Madrid confirming he has sustained a muscle injury in his right leg.

The Belgium forward has yet to feature for Los Blancos this season having endured an injury-hit debut 2019-20 campaign.

Hazard's big-money arrival from Chelsea was met with much fanfare but the start of his campaign was held up by a hamstring complaint and he sustained a fractured foot in a Champions League game against Paris Saint-Germain in November having started to show flashes of his best form.

A broken ankle he suffered in February not long after returning from that setback further derailed Hazard's progress and there were suggestions this month he returned to pre-season overweight.

Head coach Zinedine Zidane defended Hazard against suggestions he lacked professionalism and included him in the squad for Wednesday's LaLiga clash with Real Valladolid.

But Madrid confirmed the new issue in a statement on the club's website and, although they did not put a timescale on his return, reports suggest he could be absent for another three to four weeks.

"Following tests carried out today on our player, Eden Hazard, by Real Madrid Medical Services, he has been diagnosed with a muscle injury in his right leg. His recovery will continue to be assessed," Madrid's statement read.

The LaLiga champions have taken four points from their opening two matches of the campaign.

Eden Hazard is "very close" to a return to full fitness as Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane refuted suggestions the forward lacked professionalism. 

The Belgium star has struggled to find his rhythm in Spain following his initial €100million switch from Chelsea in June last year.

He managed a solitary goal in his debut season at the Santiago Bernabeu as he battled to regain top condition after undergoing surgery on a broken right foot.

Zidane hinted that Hazard is primed for action for the first time this season, though stopped short of confirming his spot in the team for Wednesday's clash with Real Valladolid.

"I think he's very close to a return," said Zidane. "He is prepared and training well with the team.

"The issue is that he hasn't been able to train much until now, but now he is back training regularly. So, we'll see what happens.

"What he wants is to play. He had a big problem that caused him issues for a long time, but now it seems like he is fine.

"The season is very long and he is a professional. He does not lack professionalism. What he wants is to be with his team-mates and to play."

Asked if he was looking to add to his squad in what remains of the transfer window, Zidane pointed out the difficulties he already faces in picking the LaLiga champions' strongest XI.

Vinicius Junior is one player who is having to contend with being on the periphery, although Zidane insists he is content with the winger.

"I'm very happy with the squad that I have," he said. "Adding more players would not be ideal.

"I'm already struggling to choose between the players that I have. I have the best squad.

"I'm very happy with Vinicius. He wants to play like every player, I pick my starting line-up every match, and of course I count on Vinicius, he is a great player."

Zidane's side responded to their opening-game draw with Real Sociedad by winning 3-2 at Real Betis last time out. 

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.

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