Lionel Messi's future is often a topic of discussion.

Messi has an early break clause in his Barcelona contract.

As Barca look to re-sign Messi, the 33-year-old superstar is reportedly ready to walk away next year.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI WANTS BARCA EXIT

Lionel Messi will leave Barcelona when his contract expires at the end of 2020-21, according to Cadena SER.

Barca captain Messi – previously linked to Inter and Manchester City – has reportedly been in talks over a new two-year deal at Camp Nou.

However, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner and Barca's all-time leading scorer is reportedly tired of being blamed for issues at the club, with the LaLiga champions set to be dethroned by Real Madrid.

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- Staying at Camp Nou and club legend Xavi has agreed to become Barcelona head coach next season. Mundo Deportivo journalist Francesc Aguilar says the Al-Sadd boss has agreed a €6million salary to replace under-fire coach Quique Setien.

- Mundo Deportivo reports Manchester United and neighbours City have asked Barca about the availability of out-of-favour forward Antoine Griezmann. A big-money signing from Atletico Madrid at the start of the season, Griezmann has struggled and found himself on the bench in recent weeks. However, the report claims Barca are not considering a transfer.

Liverpool are poised to sign Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara, says Sport. Thiago is out of contract at the end of 2020-21 and the Spaniard is not willing to re-sign. Now, Liverpool are believed to be in advanced negotiations as Bayern seek £31m (€35m) for Thiago.

- Everton full-back Lucas Digne has emerged as a target for City and Chelsea if they fail to land Leicester City star Ben Chilwell, according to ESPN.

Borussia Dortmund have completed the signing of Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham, reports Bild. United were also chasing the 17-year-old sensation.

- After signing Achraf Hakimi from Real Madrid, Sky journalist Fabrizio Romano claims Inter have opened talks with Chelsea for Italian full-back Emerson Palmieri.

Juventus are hoping to settle Paulo Dybala's new contract between July and August, says Calciomercato.

- The Telegraph reports Chelsea are ready to step up their pursuit of Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz after Saturday's DFB-Pokal final against Bayern. Havertz has been linked to Bayern, Madrid, United, Liverpool and Barca.

- Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga could be shipped out on loan to Sevilla, claims The Sun. The world's most expensive keeper has been criticised for his performances this season.

Villarreal captain Bruno Soriano revealed he considered retirement after making an emotional comeback following more than three years on the sidelines.

Not since May 2017 had Soriano played a game for boyhood club Villarreal – two operations and a painful recovery leaving the 36-year-old out of action.

But after 1,128 days without football, Soriano finally returned in Monday's 2-2 LaLiga draw at home to Sevilla.

Soriano came off the bench in the 88th minute at El Madrigal, where he received a great ovation from his team-mates, coaching staff and the president in the dressing room.

"I don't know what to say," a tearful Soriano told Movistar post-match. "It's been so long since I played that I almost don't know what to say.

"I'm very happy, of course. I had tried to return many times and it wasn't possible. It's a massive joy for me and for all the people at the club and for my family.

Asked if he had ever considered retirement, Soriano replied: "There were some tough times where I thought that maybe the best thing was to stop, because there had been many disappointments in a row. But now I'm going to try to help the team."

Soriano has spent his entire career with Villarreal since making his debut in 2006 – the Spanish midfielder holding the record for most appearances in club history with 418.

"That's best of all," said head coach Javi Calleja. "Having him back and helping the team is very important for us.

"He's an example of fighting back, we're all very happy for his return and we hope to be able to count on him for the rest of the games."

Marc-Andre ter Stegen believes Barcelona will secure the LaLiga title if they can win their remaining games.

Barcelona were held to a 0-0 draw by Sevilla on Friday, giving Real Madrid the chance to join them on 65 points when they visit Real Sociedad.

Madrid would also hold the upper-hand thanks to their head-to-head record against Barcelona after their El Clasico victory in March.

But Ter Stegen believes Barcelona will be crowned league champions if they can win each of their remaining eight games.

"We no longer depend on ourselves and we will be watching what the rivals do, but we are improving," the goalkeeper said, via Sport.

"Defensively we are showing our best face and I am convinced that by winning all the remaining games we will be champions."

Barcelona dropped points for the first time since returning from the coronavirus-enforced break, but they are yet to concede in three games.

However, Ter Stegen felt a draw against third-placed Sevilla was a fair result.

"I think we have played a good match, especially in the first half. We knew we were coming to the field of a very complicated team and we have dominated," he said.

"All in all, I consider that the draw was fair, because Sevilla have also had good chances."

Barcelona are in action again with a clash against Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday.

Barcelona coach Quique Setien disagreed with Gerard Pique and believes Real Madrid will drop points late in the LaLiga season.

Setien's men were held to a 0-0 draw at Sevilla on Friday, giving Madrid the chance to join them on 65 points when they visit Real Sociedad.

Pique said it was hard to see Madrid dropping points in their remaining nine games, but Setien disagreed.

"I think that about Pique is the frustration of the moment. We were very confident because we had 30 very good minutes at the beginning of the game and then we got messy," he said, via AS.

"In the second half, we lost balls that gave them life.

"Tomorrow, he will surely think differently because I am sure that Madrid will not win everything."

A win against Sociedad on Sunday would send Madrid top of the table thanks to their head-to-head record against Barcelona after their El Clasico victory in March.

But Setien, whose side host Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday, is remaining upbeat.

"The rivals always have things to say, there are very tough confrontations and you have to be optimistic," he said.

"We don't depend on ourselves, but you have to be optimistic."

Gerard Pique said it was hard to see Real Madrid dropping points between now and the end of the season after Barcelona handed Zinedine Zidane's team a huge title boost.

A goalless draw at Sevilla on Friday opened the door for Madrid to potentially join Barcelona at the top of LaLiga on Sunday, when they tackle Real Sociedad at Anoeta.

Pique could not inspire Barcelona to find a breakthrough at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium, leaving the race for glory wide open again.

He said afterwards: "It's going to be difficult to win this league. We're going to do everything we can but very few points will be lost.

"From what I've seen in recent weeks, it's going to be very difficult for Real Madrid to lose points."

Lionel Messi went close with a first-half free-kick and provided a familiar spark at times, but Barcelona faded after a bright opening 30 minutes.

Pique felt he and his team-mates missed an opportunity to take another three points, but he might later reflect on how it might have been worse.

Sevilla defender Sergio Reguilon, on loan from Real Madrid, had a glorious last-gasp chance but made a hash of a close-range shot and Marc-Andre ter Stegen made a comfortable save.

After this weekend, both frontrunners will have eight games left to play in the league.

Asked if it felt as though two points had got away in Seville, Pique said: "Yes, because we were in control and had more chances. They looked a bit tired. I think we were good with the ball but there was little space. We couldn't get the goal."

Celta Vigo have signed Nolito from Sevilla after being granted special dispensation by Spanish football authorities to make an emergency purchase following an injury to goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez.

Second-choice keeper Alvarez, who has featured twice in LaLiga this term, suffered knee ligament damage in May and is not expected to play again in 2019-20.

Following confirmation of his absence, Celta were given the go-ahead to complete an emergency signing outside of the transfer window, providing the player was already playing in Spain or a free agent.

While most would have expected Celta to bolster their goalkeeping options in light of losing Alvarez, they have taken an altogether different route.

Former Spain international Nolito, a wide attacker, returns to the club where he spent three years up to 2016, reportedly agreeing a deal that keeps him in Galicia until the end of the 2020-21 campaign.

His Sevilla contract was set to expire at the end of the month.

LaLiga has attracted criticism for allowing Celta to use the emergency signing protocol to hire a forward instead of a direct replacement for the player who was injured.

Critics have pointed out the fact rock-bottom Leganes were unable to replace Martin Braithwaite in February when they lost the Danish striker to Barcelona outside of the transfer window.

When contacted by Stats Perform News, Leganes opted against openly commenting on the situation, however, content Celta have acted legally.

Celta are just two points above the relegation zone.

Lionel Messi has been hailed as a "chosen one" by Barcelona coach Quique Setien as the club's greatest player bids to score his 700th career goal.

The Argentinian reached the 699 mark when he converted a penalty against Leganes on Tuesday, and now Barcelona head to Sevilla for their toughest assignment since LaLiga returned.

Setien, a former Real Betis boss, will avoid a hostile welcome back to the city of Seville given that games in Spain continue to be played behind closed doors.

And even if that means there is barely anyone inside the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium, Setien would love to see Messi reach his milestone in Andalusia.

"It would be very good if he did it at a ground like that and against a rival like Sevilla," Setien told a news conference on Thursday.

"These are numbers that are only available to the chosen ones. Hopefully he will get that one in Seville and then many more."

Friday's match pits leaders Barcelona against third-placed opposition, who got LaLiga up and running with a 2-0 derby victory over Betis last week before stumbling slightly with a 1-1 draw against Levante on Monday.

Barcelona have returned with a 4-0 win at Real Mallorca followed by a 2-0 victory over Leganes at Camp Nou, keeping a grip on top spot ahead of Real Madrid.

Setien is trusting Messi to judge when he needs a break, as the games come thick and fast over the closing weeks of the season.

The coronavirus pandemic has led Spanish league officials to cram fixtures together in order to get the season finished, so the 2020-21 campaign can begin in good time.

"There is no question that a player who has been playing for 14 years has a deep understanding of his body," Setien said of Messi.

"For many years they've known the workloads they need. I have confident in Leo and three or four players who have that knowledge.

"They will decide and let me know to rotate them, although I will decide when they should play."

Barcelona will be without the injured Samuel Umtiti, Sergi Roberto and Frenkie de Jong for Friday's match, but Setien is confident in his team.

He is sure they are capable of winning all nine of their remaining games, but says that will nevertheless be "very difficult" to achieve.

Setien played down talk of the Sevilla match being a key fixture, adding that it was "possible we will benefit" from the game being played without fans.

Lucas Ocampos and Fernando did the derby damage as Sevilla boosted their Champions League hopes with a 2-0 home win over Real Betis when the LaLiga season resumed on Thursday.

The first top-flight match in Spain since March 10 saw the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stands deserted, albeit with piped-in crowd chanting and a bank of CGI supporters generating some kind of atmosphere.

It was nothing like a true Seville derby, of course, but this will have to do while Spain, and the rest of the world, attempts to contain and eventually move forward from the coronavirus pandemic.

The goals had been long in coming by the time they arrived, with dominant Sevilla taking the lead after 56 minutes when Ocampos beat Joel Robles from the penalty spot after Luuk de Jong was impeded by Marc Bartra, a VAR check confirming the spot-kick.

It made Ocampos the first Sevilla player to score in five successive LaLiga appearances since Alvaro Negredo netted in six straight games nine years ago.

Sevilla's second goal came six minutes later, with a tremendous backheeled flick from Ocampos following a corner setting up Fernando to head home.

Ocampos had a fine game, hitting the angle of post and crossbar early on and showing no signs of any rustiness after a three-month break from competitive action.

Sevilla strengthened their grip on third place on a night when they commemorated the life of their long-serving former captain Marcelo Campanal, who died aged 89 in May.

A minute of reflection preceded the match as sombre music played, with those quiet moments dedicated to those whose lives have been lost to COVID-19 and on this occasion also to Campanal.

Sevilla's players wore shirts bearing his name as they took another step towards a top-four finish, with more recorded cheering and celebratory singing at the final whistle giving a firm indication of what to expect over the final weeks of this atypical season.

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."

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.

Julen Lopetegui concedes Sevilla must learn to adapt to previously "unthinkable" circumstances in the derby against Real Betis, whose head coach Rubi warned fans not to gather in large groups.

After a lengthy coronavirus-enforced suspension, LaLiga is scheduled to resume on Thursday with the clash between the Seville rivals at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

With the world still in the midst of the global health crisis, supporters will not be in attendance for what would normally be a cauldron of noise for a bitter rivalry.

Sevilla head coach Lopetegui recognises the unique situation but said his side are still aware of the importance of the fixture.

"We are looking forward to competing again. We are under circumstances that were unthinkable three months ago, but today they are a reality," Lopetegui said.

"We must adapt to a different situation, so we will play the derby. We all know the meaning of this derby.

"We will try to do our best, to adapt well to the situation we will face. And, especially, to try to beat a very good team, such as Betis."

Opposite number Rubi also acknowledged the significance of the game being played behind closed doors and urged fans not to break safety protocols for the fixture.

"No doubt, it is an historic derby, because it will be hardly repeated, fingers crossed, in these circumstances," he said.

"Therefore, the score of this derby will be always remembered. It is the one post lockdown, post-pandemic, no fans, first game of resumption in LaLiga.

"That's why it is even more important from my point of view. It will be remembered, the date and the score of the game.

"It has been a tough month for the squad. We started having training on May 10 and we are now at June 10, so we have been only a month and it has been a complicated month because there have been new phases, new periods of time, we change training from home to the pitch, but I think we're in a really good condition.

"I agree 100 per cent on all the opinions which have been made until now. It is very important to follow what we are demanded to do, keeping the social distancing, and not forming large groups of people.

"Fans have to enjoy the game at home or in the pubs where they are allowed to get in with friends.

"It is a different way. Hopefully, it will be only once in a lifetime. For once, let's enjoy it in another way, enjoying at 100 per cent. We will do it, although there will be no fans, making it a weird day, we will do our best to enjoy it at the maximum.

"They [fans] will have to do [so too], and we will feel it, but maybe they should do it in a different way than they are used to doing."

Sevilla are third in the table with 11 games to go in their battle for Champions League football, while Betis are down in 12th.

Chelsea have reportedly agreed a deal for RB Leipzig star Timo Werner.

Werner, 24, has been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool after an impressive campaign with the Bundesliga club.

But their Premier League rivals are seemingly set to bring in the forward.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA AGREE £54M DEAL FOR WERNER

Chelsea have agreed a £54million (€60m) deal for RB Leipzig star Werner, according to The Sun.

The report says the Germany international is set to sign a five-year deal at Chelsea.

However, it also reports there is still a danger of Liverpool making a last-ditch bid for Werner.

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- Perhaps Paul Pogba will extend his stay at Manchester United. The Daily Mail reports the France midfielder, who has been linked with Real Madrid and Juventus, could extend his contract – which runs until 2021 – at Old Trafford if he forms a good combination with Bruno Fernandes when the Premier League season resumes.

- Having starred for Bayer Leverkusen, Kai Havertz has been linked with a move. The Manchester Evening News reports the attacker is open to a switch to Manchester United.

- On loan at Inter from Chelsea until the end of the season, Victor Moses' future is uncertain. CalcioMercato reports the Serie A club want to hold onto the 29-year-old, either by his loan being extended or with a permanent deal worth less than €12m (£10.8m).

- Could Kurt Zouma be set for a reunion with Jose Mourinho? RMC Sport reports the Chelsea and France defender could join his former manager at Tottenham this close season.

- Perhaps Zouma could arrive at Spurs as a replacement for Jan Vertonghen as the Evening Standard says the Belgium defender is expected to complete the Premier League season before leaving Tottenham on a free transfer.

- Another player coming out of contract is Pedro. The Chelsea attacker has decided to sign with Roma, according to Sport, after links to the likes of Juventus, Valencia, Sevilla and Real Betis.

Former Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute has called on LaLiga to throw its full support behind the battle to eradicate the "virus" of racism.

Demonstrations have been taking place across the United States and beyond in support of the late George Floyd, a black American who died in police custody in Minneapolis last week.

Over the weekend, Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho was one of four players in the Bundesliga who displayed anti-racism gestures and messages following Floyd's death.

LeBron James, Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, Lewis Hamilton and Coco Gauff are among the other prominent stars to have spoken out in the wake of Floyd's death.

LaLiga is set to resume this month after a lengthy enforced suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kanoute welcomed the return of top-flight football in Spain amid the COVID-19 crisis but says racism is a battle LaLiga must tackle head on.

"I'm looking forward [to LaLiga's return] and I don't want to break the positive mood but just to remind, first, many people have struggled with this virus [COVID-19], so our thoughts and hugs from LaLiga to these people who have struggled with the virus," said Kanoute, who was speaking at a LaLiga ambassadors' news conference.

"But also, I wanted to remark there is another virus, unfortunately, which is called racism. 

"And we see that there are still other people who are struggling with this other virus which is very bad too. 

"I expect from us and LaLiga to support all the actions in order not to tolerate any racism gesture anymore, on the pitch and away from the pitch. I just wanted to send this little message."

LaLiga is due to restart on June 11 with the Sevilla derby between Sevilla and Real Betis, with the campaign to wrap up on July 19.

The arrivals of Lautaro Martinez and Neymar at the end of the season had been the dream for Barcelona.

Forming the best attack in the world had been the idea, prising Inter's Martinez to Camp Nou and re-signing Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

But Barca have reportedly been priced out of a deal for Neymar.

 

TOP STORY – PSG SET NEYMAR PRICE

Paris Saint-Germain want €175million in cash for Barcelona target Neymar, according to Sport.

Neymar left Barca for PSG in a world-record €222m transfer in 2017 but the Brazilian superstar continues to be linked with a Camp Nou comeback.

But Barca's hopes have been dealt a blow due to PSG's demands and coronavirus as they prioritise Inter forward Lautaro Martinez.

 

ROUND-UP

- RMC Sport claims Manchester City are interested in Milan midfielder Ismael Bennacer. Pep Guardiola has reportedly talked to Bennacer about a move to the Premier League. City are also interested in Barca's Sergi Roberto, claims Mundo Deportivo.

Real Madrid are keen on signing Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, AS says. The England international has been tipped to join United, while Chelsea and Liverpool have also been linked.

- Calciomercato claims Napoli are eyeing a move for Lille forward Victor Osimhen. It comes amid uncertainty over the futures of Arkadiusz Milik and Jose Callejon. Milik has been heavily linked to Juventus, while the likes of Sevilla and Real Betis are reportedly interested in bringing former Madrid winger Callejon back to LaLiga.

Sevilla are prepared to wait until the end of the season for Barca's Ivan Rakitic, reports Mundo Deportivo. Barca are willing to sanction Rakitic's transfer and Spanish rivals Sevilla are looking to bring the Croatia international back to Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

- According to L'Equipe, injury-plagued Barca star Ousmane Dembele has no intention of leaving Camp Nou for Juve.

- ESPN says United need more cash to sign Birmingham City sensation Jude Bellingham. The 16-year-old has also been linked to Dortmund.

Fabian Ruiz is wanted by Spain's two biggest clubs – Barca and Madrid. But Mundo Deportivo says the Napoli star is moving further away from a switch to the Santiago Bernabeu due to Madrid not being able to meet the Italian club's valuation. Luka Jovic and James Rodriguez have been mentioned as possible makeweights but Napoli only want cash.

- Lille defender Gabriel has emerged as a possible replacement for Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly. Le10Sport says Napoli have identified Gabriel as well as Fiorentina pair German Pezzella and Nikola Milenkovic. Sky Sport Italia, meanwhile, says United are offering £71m (€80m) for Koulibaly but Napoli are holding out for at least £89m (€100m).

Pedro is a player in demand. The Chelsea forward is set to become a free agent and AS says Roma are the Spaniard's "priority". Juve, Sevilla, Betis and Valencia have also been credited with interest.

Kieran Trippier is excited to resume the 2019-20 LaLiga season following the coronavirus pandemic, with the full-back also fully fit again following surgery on an injury that plagued him even before leaving Tottenham last year.

Spanish football is due to resume next week after a three-month hiatus, which came at a frustrating time for Trippier, given he had just returned to action following a lay-off.

Trippier had surgery on a groin issue in January and it was a problem he recently revealed caused him significant stress during his final season at Tottenham, criticising the club for putting off the operation.

Although he returned to action a few weeks before LaLiga was suspended, Trippier was still receiving treatment to aid his recovery, but that had to stop once Spain went into lockdown.

The England international acknowledged it was a struggle to retain fitness during the lockdown, but he and Atletico are excited to get going again, with Los Colchoneros set to resume their campaign away to Athletic Bilbao on June 14.

"For me personally, after my surgery, I was used to getting treatment every single day but obviously I couldn't get that at home," he said.

"It was difficult but always you find a way to train, keep yourself in the best possible shape so when you return, you're ready to start the competition again.

"I feel very good to be back. It was very difficult not seeing team-mates, staff, and training every single day. But everybody understands the circumstances of the time.

"Obviously everyone's excited. The team is just looking forward to getting ready for the game against Athletic and it's important that we start the season off again strongly and try to win as many games as we can from now until the end of the season."

The rest of the season will be played behind closed doors and Trippier is aware of how it feels to play in an empty stadium, though he believes Atletico will still feel the love from supporters watching in their own homes.

"I've played in some games where there have been no supporters before and it's different," he added.

"Obviously you want the fans there supporting you every single game, but everybody understands the circumstances at the moment and it's important that everybody is safe.

"We'll always try to find a way to win and the fans are always there watching on TV, so we have the full support from them back home."

Atletico are sixth in LaLiga heading into the final 11 matches of the season, however third-placed Sevilla are just two points better off than Diego Simeone's men.

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