Neymar is reportedly preparing for a return to Barcelona as Paris Saint-Germain accept the star's exit is "inevitable".

The Brazil international arrived at PSG from Barca in 2017 but has regularly been linked with a move back to Camp Nou.

Speculation over Neymar's future continues and he seems to be nearing a Barcelona return.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR PREPARES FOR BARCELONA RETURN AS PSG ACCEPT 'INEVITABLE' EXIT

Neymar is preparing for a Barcelona return and PSG are getting a strategy ready to sell the 28-year-old as it is 'inevitable' he will move on, according to Sport.

Neymar spent four seasons at Barca before a world-record €222million move to PSG.

The forward scored 18 goals in 22 games for PSG before this season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ROUND-UP

- Jadon Sancho is linked with a Premier League move this close season. But The Sun reports the Borussia Dortmund star is ready to reject Manchester United if they fail to secure a spot in the Champions League. United were fifth in the Premier League when the season was suspended.

- Mauro Icardi's future remains uncertain. Corriere dello Sport reports Icardi will leave PSG, where he is on loan from Inter, at the end of the season and Juventus are once again interested.

- With Manchester United again seemingly interested in Matthijs de Ligt, a swap deal could be on the cards. The Sun reports United are ready to swap Paul Pogba – who has been linked with a return to Juventus – for defender De Ligt.

- It may not be the only swap deal involving a Manchester club and Juventus. The Sun says Juve are ready to offer Douglas Costa to Manchester City in a bid to land Gabriel Jesus.

- Ivan Rakitic appears likely to leave Barcelona. Marca reports Atletico Madrid want the midfielder, while Sport reports Barcelona are unaware of their rivals' interest in the Croatia international.

- Barcelona were reportedly prepared to use Junior Firpo in a deal to sign Inter star Lautaro Martinez, but the left-back could head elsewhere. Sport reports Napoli are the most recent club to contact Barca over Junior's availability.

Europe's major leagues have been shut down due to coronavirus, but Cristiano Ronaldo is still making headlines.

Ronaldo was in the midst of his second season with Juventus before the 2019-20 campaign was postponed last month.

But there are ongoing doubts over Ronaldo's future in Turin.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO LINKED TO MADRID RETURN

Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo misses Real Madrid and a reunion with his former club is not just a suggestion, according to Calciomercato.

Ronaldo is reportedly unhappy at Serie A champions Juve amid links to Paris Saint-Germain and another former team, Manchester United.

However, Calciomercato's report claims Ronaldo has eyes on Madrid but it will take a significant sum to prise the 35-year-old from Juve.

 

ROUND-UP

Barcelona have set their asking price for out-of-favour attacker Philippe Coutinho, who is on loan at Bayern Munich. The LaLiga champions want at least €80million (£70m) for the Brazilian. The likes of Chelsea, United, Arsenal and Tottenham have been linked.

- Diario AS says Borussia Dortmund are concerned about mounting speculation surrounding Madrid's interest in Erling Haaland. The Norwegian sensation only joined Dortmund in January.

Madrid are chasing Lille's midfield star Boubakary Soumare, according to Le10Sport. United and Liverpool have also been linked to the 21-year-old.

Juve are looking to complete a deal for Mauro Icardi, says Calciomercato. Icardi is on loan at PSG from Inter but the Argentina international wants to return to Italy.

Manchester City face an uphill battle trying to sign Raphael Varane. Defensa Central says Madrid are ready to turn down any bids for the Frenchman. According to Tuttosport, City have set their sights on three Inter players – Lautaro Martinez, Milan Skriniar and Alessandro Bastoni. Martinez has been tipped to join Barca.

- Diario AS claims Barca are keeping tabs on Juve midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur. It comes as Marca says Atletico Madrid are leading the race to sign Ivan Rakitic from Barca.

Milan are eyeing three candidates should star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma leave the club, reports Calciomercato. Donnarumma has been linked to Chelsea, Madrid and PSG and Napoli's Alex Meret, Udinese goalkeeper Juan Musso and Sporting CP's Luis Maximiano are being considered.

Barcelona star Ivan Rakitic said he has only gone outside to "throw out the trash" due to the lockdown in Spain amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Spain has introduced emergency restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19, with people banned from leaving home except for buying essential supplies and medicines, or for work.

LaLiga and football have also been postponed in Spain, where more than 1,700 people have died from at least 28,700 coronavirus cases.

Rakitic discussed the current situation, telling Barca's official channels: "I have only gone outside to throw out the trash, which is 50 metres away and that's the only thing I have done on the street.

"Since the Napoli [game] I was already preparing for all this and I did quite a lot of shopping.

"I remember very well when we went to Naples to play the Champions League game and the issue had already started in Italy.

"I told the doctor that I wasn't confident about it and that it was going be much [worse]. Now we have to all be together.

"Of course I would like to play sports on the street as it is better, or take a walk, but we have to understand that we need to do this."

With football on hiatus, Croatia international Rakitic added: "I have a gym at home and my wife is also very hooked. We go every day, some days in the morning and afternoon and the girls also enjoy it.

"We have set up as a game room in the gym and they can play and we can train. Each [Barcelona] fitness coach has a group of players that he works with.

"I am with Antonio and I ask him what we have to do, when we have to work harder on the treadmill and on the bike. We are in daily contact, they are very aware of everything and they have an answer."

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.

Lionel Messi is set to become the player with the most appearances in El Clasico for Barcelona after being named in the starting line-up to take on Real Madrid on Sunday.

The Argentina superstar will edge past Xavi as he racks up his 43rd outing in the biggest domestic fixture in world football at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Messi is the fixture's leading goalscorer, having netted 26 times against Barca's great rivals.

Barca head into the match, Quique Setien's first Clasico at the helm, two points ahead of their rivals at the top of LaLiga.

The visitors boast a seven-match unbeaten run against Madrid in top-flight meetings, with the Camp Nou showdown in December having finished goalless.

While Barcelona's only change from the side that drew 1-1 with Napoli on Tuesday saw Arthur take Ivan Rakitic's place in midfield, Zinedine Zidane made two adjustments to the Madrid team that lost 2-1 to Manchester City in midweek.

Ferland Mendy and Luka Modric dropped to the bench as Marcelo returned at left back and Toni Kroos started in midfield, while Gareth Bale had to settle for a place among the substitutes.

Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic said he would like to play with Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo as doubts remain over his future at Camp Nou.

Rakitic was heavily linked to Serie A duo Juventus and Inter before the transfer window closed, while Premier League giants Manchester United were also reportedly interested.

It came as Rakitic was reportedly offered to Ligue 1's Paris Saint-Germain as part of a deal to prise Neymar back to Camp Nou at the start of the season.

Rakitic continues to be linked with Italian champions Juve and when asked if he would like to play alongside five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo, the 31-year-old told Bleacher Report Football: "Of course I would.

"He is also one of the greatest players in history.

"You enjoy watching him play and he's doing well at Juventus."

Rakitic is currently team-mates with Barca captain and six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi and he said: "It's amazing to play with him - he's special. There have been great players in every era, but I'm sure he's been the best in the last 15 years.

"In my opinion, I think he's the best of all time. Being with him for six years has been incredible."

Rakitic previously vented his frustration with how head coach Ernesto Valverde and his staff were treated upon their sacking in January, admitting he considered leaving Barcelona.

"It's a part of football," Rakitic said. "You have to understand that and be ready [to potentially leave] in January.

"You have to be happy, you have to think about your family, and if I play for Barcelona I am happy."

Neymar's return would hand Barcelona a huge boost, according to sporting director Eric Abidal.

The Brazil superstar left Camp Nou for PSG in a world-record €222million transfer in August 2017 but has been persistently linked with a move back to Barca.

Head coach Quique Setien said last week he would relish the chance to coach the Neymar and Abidal believes such a deal might be possible.

Asked for his opinion on Neymar coming back to the Catalan giants, Abidal told Mundo Deportivo: "I totally agree.

"Quique would be proud to be able to coach a player like Neymar and the others here who are of such a high level."

Barca have been left short in attack by serious injuries to Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele, though Ansu Fati impressed with a double in a 2-1 victory over Levante last weekend.

On the effect signing Neymar could have on Fati, Abidal said: "That's why planning is not so easy. We may wish to have all the best players, but we can't make a mistake in the development of players.

"Since Ansu broke into the first team, he's contributed a lot. In the last [LaLiga] game, he showed his talent again. He's a player who can play in many positions and you have to take that into account.

"I think the player is 100 per cent with us, with the first team, and has the goal of staying here for many years."

Barca could help fund a move for Neymar by letting Philippe Coutinho make his loan at Bayern permanent, which the Bundesliga giants can achieve by activating a €120m option.

However, it has been reported this week that Barca would be willing to consider an offer at €80m.

"The information we have is that Bayern are very happy with Philippe and Philippe is also very happy there," said Abidal.

"It's true they have an option [to buy him], but we have to plan perfectly with those who are in house and on loan, and then we'll see."

Another player who could be heading for the exit at Camp Nou is Ivan Rakitic, who accused the club of a lack of respect and was disappointed by the treatment of former coach Ernesto Valverde.

"I don't know in what sense of respect he spoke about," said Abidal, who believes Rakitic remains content at Barca.

"For a player, the most important thing is to have minutes. He's gone through a difficult moment with Valverde, now we have changed coach. It's something for the coach, because I can't manage playing minutes for a player.

"We have respect because we haven't spoken with anybody, and neither has he, it seems. He said he planned to leave but in the end he decided to stay at Barca and if he did that, it's because there is a percentage of satisfaction."

Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic could make a surprise move to Atletico Madrid ahead of next season.

The Croatia international is reportedly unhappy at Camp Nou and has been linked with a move away since the off-season.

Now, a stay in LaLiga could eventuate, but away from Barcelona.

 

TOP STORY – ATLETICO BEGIN TALKS WITH BARCELONA'S RAKITIC

Atletico Madrid are already negotiating with Rakitic about a possible move at the end of the season, according to Cadena SER.

The 31-year-old is contracted at Barcelona, where he arrived from Sevilla in 2014, until 2021.

Rakitic admitted on Sunday he considered leaving the club in January, and it seems a move is likely come season's end.

ROUND-UP

- Amid reported interest from Manchester United and Arsenal, James Maddison is close to agreeing a new contract with Leicester City, according to The Telegraph. Maddison has starred for the Premier League club this season and is poised to sign a lucrative long-term deal.

- Frank Lampard is set to face a battle at Chelsea. The Mirror reports the head coach wants to sell Kepa Arrizabalaga – who became the world's most expensive goalkeeper when he arrived at Stamford Bridge from Athletic Bilbao for a reported £71.6million (€80m) in 2018 – but is set to face resistance from the board.

- Atletico Madrid and Roma are interested in Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard, according to ESPN. Lingard is coming out of contract in 2021 but also holds a one-year extension option at Old Trafford.

- Are Milan set for another coaching change? Bild reports Red Bull's head of international relations and scouting, Ralf Rangnick, is in advanced talks to become the Serie A club's head coach and sporting director once the season is over. Stefano Pioli only took charge of Milan in October, replacing Marco Giampaolo.

- Inter almost signed Islam Slimani, who is on loan at Monaco from Leicester City, last month, according to CalcioMercato, which reports the Serie A club's move came late in January before collapsing.

Ivan Rakitic admitted he considered leaving LaLiga champions Barcelona in January as the midfielder appeared to take aim at the club's board.

Rakitic was heavily linked to Serie A duo Juventus and Inter before the transfer window closed, while Manchester United were also reportedly interested.

It came as Rakitic was reportedly offered to Paris Saint-Germain as part of a deal to prise Neymar back to Camp Nou at the start of the season.

After Sunday's 2-1 win over Levante, Croatia veteran Rakitic vented his frustration.

"I thought about leaving in the January window," Rakitic, who played the entire game, said post-match.

"The treatment of [former head coach Ernesto] Valverde's staff wasn't the best.

"They were bad times but it's in the past now.

"I can say very clearly that there were things that I didn't like."

Ansu Fati's brace ensured Barca stayed within three points of leaders and rivals Real Madrid after 22 matches.

Rakitic has made 16 LaLiga appearances this season, and 24 across all competitions.

Real Madrid have long been touted as favourites to tempt Kylian Mbappe from Paris.

Mbappe idolises Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane, who has made no secret of his desire to sign the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

But should Liverpool splash the cash, Mbappe could reportedly find himself at Anfield.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE OPEN TO REDS

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe would be open to joining Premier League leaders and Champions League holders Liverpool, according to journalist Julien Laurens.

Mbappe has long been tipped to eventually swap PSG for LaLiga giants Real Madrid, where he is coveted by fellow Frenchman and head coach Zinedine Zidane.

However, Laurens claims Liverpool could be an option, should the English side meet PSG's demands.

 

ROUND-UP 

Manchester United want Alexis Sanchez to return to the club at the end of the season, says the Daily Star. On loan at Serie A outfit Inter following a horror spell in Manchester, the Red Devils have decided to give the Chilean forward another chance to prove himself.

- West Ham have offered €40million (£33.7m) to Cagliari for Uruguay international Nahitan Nandez, reports Tuttomercatoweb.

- With Carles Perez edging closer to Roma, Barcelona could also sell Ivan Rakitic. According to Marca, Juventus are keeping tabs on the experienced midfielder.

- Sky Sport Italia claims Roma have contacted Chelsea over veteran forward Pedro, who is out of contract at season's end.

Flamengo have agreed terms with Inter to sign Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa on a permanent basis, reports ESPN Brazil, Globoesporte and Sportitalia.

Juventus are still pondering a swap deal that would see full-back Mattia De Sciglio move to PSG in exchange for Layvin Kurzawa, according to Gianluca Di Marzio.

Barcelona and Juventus are in talks about a possible swap deal involving Ivan Rakitic and Federico Bernardeschi.

Rakitic was linked with an exit from Camp Nou during the close season, but ended up staying at Barca.

But he could be on his way to Turin and Bernardeschi may be heading in the opposite direction.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA, JUVE IN RAKITIC-BERNARDESCHI SWAP TALKS

Barcelona and Juventus are discussing a possible swap deal involving Rakitic and Bernardeschi, according to AS.

The report says Rakitic – who has made just six LaLiga starts this season – has already agreed personal terms with the Serie A giants.

However, the clubs are yet to reach an agreement, with Rakitic six years older than Italy international Bernardeschi.

ROUND-UP

- There is still work to be done if Bruno Fernandes is to find his way to Manchester United. The Daily Mail and The Sun report United want to pay Sporting CP £34million (€39.9m) with a further £25.5m (€29.9m) in add-ons, including bonuses for the English club winning the Premier League and Champions League.

- Atletico Madrid are not giving up on trying to land Edinson Cavani in this window. The LaLiga side are still eyeing a move for the Paris Saint-Germain forward, according to Marca, although they are hoping to negotiate a lower price than the €30m the Ligue 1 club are reportedly wanting.

- The wait continues for Inter as they try to sign Christian Eriksen. CalcioMercato reports Eriksen's agent Martin Schoots is scheduled to meet Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy in London next week as the midfielder tries to get his move to the Serie A giants.

- Chelsea are favourites to sign RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner ahead of the 2020-21 season, according to The Sun, but it may take a £68m (€79.8m) deal to land the 23-year-old.

- Arsenal are set for talks with Athletico Paranaense to negotiate a deal for midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, according to Globo Esporte.

- Staying at Arsenal and France Football reports Paris Saint-Germain left-back Layvin Kurzawa has agreed to join the Premier League club for free at season's end.

- Javier Hernandez will become one of the highest paid players in MLS. Sports Illustrated reports LA Galaxy will pay Sevilla $9.4m (€8.5m) for the forward, who is set to earn $6m annually, with the potential for that to rise due to bonuses.

Gareth Bale will start for Real Madrid against Barcelona on Wednesday, while Luka Modric drops to the bench.

Wales star Bale will join Karim Benzema in attack for his first LaLiga start in December, with Isco retaining his place from the 1-1 draw with Valencia on Sunday.

Casemiro, Federico Valverde and Toni Kroos line up in midfield, meaning 2018 Ballon d'Or winner Modric is among the substitutes, along with Rodrygo Goes, Vinicius Junior and Luka Jovic.

Ferland Mendy is back at left-back after being suspended for the Valencia match.

Barcelona line up with Antoine Griezmann alongside Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi in attack, while Ivan Rakitic and Frenkie de Jong look set to be joined by Sergi Roberto in midfield.

Sergio Busquets was initially named in the line-up, with Rakitic on the bench, but Barca announced a late change that saw the Spain international drop to the bench.

Messi will equal Xavi on a record 42 Clasico appearances for Barca, as the Catalans go in search of a 73rd LaLiga win over their fierce rivals, with each side currently on 72 victories each from 178 previous meetings.

Nelson Semedo is at right-back for the champions, with Arturo Vidal, who was reportedly angry at being told he would not start the match, among the substitutes.

Barca and Madrid are level on 35 points at the top of LaLiga ahead of the match at Camp Nou.

Ever since Cristiano Ronaldo joined Juventus, it's been hard to pin down a 'Clasico duel' to rival the Portugal star's battle with Lionel Messi.

We could have one on Wednesday, though, from two pretty unlikely sources.

Ivan Rakitic and Federico Valverde are likely to start at Camp Nou this week, when Spain's grandest rivalry renews with the LaLiga head-to-head record locked at 72 wins each from 178 meetings (Barca, it's worth noting, have never been ahead of Madrid in terms of league wins).

Each player has become potentially pivotal for this latest meeting, which is fairly remarkable given their respective standings in the first-team picture when the season got underway in August.

 

RAKITIC: FROM PARIAH TO PIVOTAL

It looked like Rakitic could well leave Barca this year, even though he didn't want to.

With two years to run on his contract, it was suspected the player would command a significant fee in the previous transfer window, with Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Inter all linked. With Barca having spent in the region of €758million since recouping a world-record €222m for Neymar, with their wage bill near breaking point and a huge redevelopment of Camp Nou to pay for, a major sale would have been timely.

It would also have reduced the bloated midfield options at Ernesto Valverde's disposal, while a more cynical observer might suggest selling Rakitic would appease a small but prominent squadron of fans on social media who appear to have taken a disconcertingly severe dislike towards the player and his every appearance for the club.

But Rakitic is settled in Barcelona. His wife and daughters are Spanish. He is a four-time LaLiga champion, a Champions League and Club World Cup winner, a World Cup finalist in 2018 – that's a CV to stand up to any midfield competition, including Netherlands star Frenkie de Jong, signed in an €86m deal this year.

So, he stayed. But he didn't play. He started once in 17 games at the beginning of the season, in a 2-0 loss to Granada in September. His banishment from the team left him forlorn enough to go public with his concerns, telling Movistar: "How does my little daughter feel when you take a toy from here? She feels sad. Well, I feel the same. They took my ball. I feel sad."

And then, three weeks ago, Barca gave it back.

Restored to the starting line-up against Borussia Dortmund, Rakitic excelled in a 3-1 win. He kept his place four days later for the 1-0 victory away to Atletico Madrid, then the 5-2 thrashing of Real Mallorca. He was captain of the much-changed side that finished the Champions League group stage by beating Inter 2-1. The 2-2 draw with Real Sociedad was less impressive, but that was true of every Barca player at Anoeta last weekend.

Statistically, Rakitic does not outstrip his competitors for the midfield three this season in LaLiga. He has two assists, the same as De Jong and Sergio Busquets and one fewer than the injured Arthur. His passing accuracy of 88 per cent is lower than all Barca midfielders except Arturo Vidal; his duel success rate of 47 per cent is better only than Carles Alena's; his tackle success rate of one in three puts him bottom of the pile.

Yet the fact remains that, right now, Barca play better with him. And they'll need him against Madrid.

VALVERDE: THE MAN MAKING POGBA POINTLESS

Real Madrid have built their spectacular success of 2014 onwards on a central trio of Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric. None of them is now their best midfielder, which tells you just how well Federico Valverde is performing.

Casemiro disrupts the opposition, Kroos controls the tempo and Modric links the play – it's how Madrid have played throughout Zinedine Zidane's time in charge. Valverde effectively does all three jobs together. As Zidane said last month, he is "capable of being in every position and with great acceleration".

After the 3-0 loss to PSG in September – which he missed – the Uruguayan was the change Madrid so sorely needed. He came on against Sevilla to help see out a 1-0 win in their next game. He kept his place for the 2-0 victory over Osasuna and the goalless derby draw with Atletico. He then sat out the game at home to Club Brugge, one Madrid nearly lost.

Valverde's influence was becoming clear, to fans and Zidane. Since Paris on September 18, Madrid have lost only one match, away to Mallorca on October 19. It is the only game Valverde has missed.

Still only 21, Valverde brings composure, tenacity and technical quality to Madrid's play. Of their midfielders in LaLiga this season, only Modric, Kroos and Isco have a higher passing accuracy than his 88 per cent. Casemiro and Kroos are the only ones to rank higher for tackles and duels, but he has lost possession on fewer occasions than either of them. 

Valverde has also provided two goals and two assists for good measure, something only Modric can better. No wonder the president of his old club Penarol, Jorge Barrera, told AS: "Those of us who met Valverde in the lower ranks of the club are not astonished at what Federico is going through right now. He will continue to grow a lot and is one of the great talents of world football."

For all of Mino Raiola's posturing, Zidane's public praise and Manchester United's inconsistent form, Paul Pogba looks no closer to joining Madrid than he did in the previous transfer window. If Valverde's form continues – particularly against Barca, at Camp Nou – they can perhaps forget about Pogba entirely.

Ernesto Valverde has described Pedro as an "historic" Barcelona player after the Chelsea winger claimed he would like to return to Camp Nou.

Pedro told Ser Catalunya this week that he would love to go back to the club where he won 20 major trophies, including five LaLiga titles and three Champions Leagues, between 2008 and 2015.

The 32-year-old has only played four times in the Premier League under Frank Lampard this season and, with his contract expiring at the end of the season, it has been suggested the Spain international could be allowed to leave next month.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Barca coach Valverde said of Pedro: "He's an historic Barca player - let's not kid ourselves. He's one of the players to win the most titles with this club, but he plays for another club now.

"We have to respect players at other clubs. We'll see what might happen in the future."

The futures of two Barca midfielders are also uncertain ahead of the opening of the transfer window, with Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal each linked with moves to Serie A.

Rakitic struggled for game time early in the season and even admitted his situation was causing him to fall out of love with football, although he has impressed in the recent run of victories over Borussia Dortmund, Atletico Madrid, Real Mallorca and Inter.

"He's playing well, as is everybody else," Valverde said of the Croatia midfielder. "We're in a clinical time of the season and we've found some good form.

"When it's the summer window, people start asking what happens, then you get to breathe a bit and then it's the winter market.

"We have to deal with the challenges we have with the players we have. Rakitic has missed lots of games but he's playing more games now, and if he's doing that, it's because he's playing well."

Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta confirmed after his side's defeat to Barca that Vidal was of interest to them, but Valverde was vague on his plans for the player.

"How can I respond to information that comes or doesn't come from us? This information came from Inter. They will know," he added.

"In our case, the market has not yet opened. Arturo is our player and we'll need him if we think it convenient."

Murmurs about Pep Guardiola's potential departure from Manchester City are not going away.

Recent reports have suggested the successful Catalan could look to leave the Etihad Stadium at the end of the season.

It now appears Guardiola has the power to make that happen.

 

TOP STORY – GUARDIOLA'S ESCAPE ROUTE

An exit clause in the contract Guardiola signed last year gives the two-time Premier League winner the chance to leave City at the conclusion of the campaign, reports the Daily Mail.

Guardiola's deal, which he renewed in May 2018, runs through to 2021, but it seems he will have a decision to make when the club's title defence comes to a close.

City have formulated contingency plans, according to the report, and are "known to be admirers" of former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Guardiola, 48, has been linked with a return to Bayern Munich but last month said he was "open" to signing another contract extension with City.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United missed out on Liverpool-bound Takumi Minamino because the Old Trafford club were unaware of a £7.25million exit clause in the winger's Salzburg contract, says the Mirror.

- Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund want to keep Jadon Sancho in January but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United are confident of pushing through a transfer for the England international, claims the Mirror.

- Inter are monitoring Argentine attacking midfielder Rodrigo De Paul but are not prepared to meet Udinese's €35m asking price, according to CalcioMercato.

- Carlo Ancelotti is set to fly to London for talks with Everton as the managerless Merseysiders look to beat Arsenal to the ex-Napoli boss, says the Sun.

- Ivan Rakitic appears set to stay at Barcelona after all. The midfielder wants to continue at Camp Nou after breaking back into the starting XI over the past four matches, reports Marca.

Page 1 of 2
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.