Antonio Mateu Lahoz will not referee a LaLiga fixture this weekend after dishing out a flurry of cards in Barcelona's ill-tempered 1-1 draw with Espanyol last Saturday.

Lahoz was widely criticised for his performance in a fiery Catalan derby on New Year's Eve, having sent Jordi Alba and Vinicius Souza off and booked another 11 players along with Barca head coach Xavi.

Espanyol were perhaps fortunate to avoid going down to nine men in the aftermath of Souza's dismissal, with a VAR review saving Leandro Cabrera after he was initially shown a red card for an apparent stamp on Robert Lewandowski.

Having been dismissed for two bookable offences, Barcelona defender Alba said Lahoz had forgotten about his first yellow card when he issued a second for dissent.

Lahoz was in the thick of the action once again on Wednesday, sending Sevilla boss Jorge Sampaoli to the stands just 18 minutes into their 5-0 Copa del Rey win over Linares.

On Thursday, the Spanish Football Federation issued a list of refereeing appointments for the 16th round of fixtures of the LaLiga season, with Lahoz conspicuous by his absence.

Lahoz was described as "useless" by Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez after taking charge of the Albiceleste's World Cup quarter-final win against the Netherlands last month.

Lionel Messi also made his feelings on Lahoz's performance clear after the 45-year-old showed 15 yellow cards at Lusail Stadium, saying the official was "not up to it".

Espanyol have described a decision to delay a suspension for Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski as a "flagrant injustice".

Lewandowski was dismissed for two bookable offences in Barca's final game before the World Cup break in November – a 2-1 win at Osasuna.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) initially hit Lewandowski with an extended three-match ban due to an alleged gesture he made towards referee Jesus Gil Manzano, but his punishment was put on hold last week following a complaint to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Lewandowski was therefore able to play in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Camp Nou – an ill-tempered affair in which referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz showed 17 yellow cards, including one for Barca coach Xavi, sending off Jordi Alba and Vinicius Souza.

Despite claiming a valuable point in their bid to avoid relegation, Espanyol have challenged the eligibility of Lewandowski to play.

A statement on the club's website read: "RCD Espanyol has submitted a letter of complaint to the Royal Federation of Spanish Football (RFEF) to challenge the match against FC Barcelona for improper alignment.

"Before the start of the match, the club notified in good faith the referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz, like the RFEF itself, about the presence in the rival eleven of Robert Lewandowski, who had to serve a penalty after his expulsion for a double yellow in the previous game of the championship. 

"RCD Espanyol, as announced on the eve of the match, will use all the resources at its disposal to defend its interests and those of our fans, aware that this flagrant injustice puts the essence of our competition at risk, and that this injustice it is based on a hasty resolution with obvious legal deficiencies."

Lewandowski failed to find the net against Diego Martinez's men, though he was involved in one notable incident when Leandro Cabrera was shown a red card for appearing to stamp on the striker – though Lahoz reversed the decision following a VAR check.

Any ban for Lewandowski would represent a severe blow for Barca, with the Poland striker scoring 13 goals in 15 LaLiga appearances.

Barca visit third-tier side Intercity in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, before facing Atletico Madrid in LaLiga and taking on Real Betis in the Supercopa de Espana semi-finals.

Jordi Alba and referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz had both "forgotten" about the Barcelona defender's first yellow card prior to his dismissal against Espanyol on Saturday.

Barcelona were held to a 1-1 draw by their Catalan rivals on what was a bittersweet day for Alba, who became only the 12th different player to make 300 LaLiga appearances for the club.

Alba's landmark outing was marred as the left-back received two yellow cards in the space of five minutes after Espanyol's leveller, with Lahoz losing control of the latter stages.

Lahoz, who was in charge of Argentina's fiery World Cup quarter-final clash with the Netherlands earlier this month, also sent off Vinicius Souza, while only a VAR review saved Leandro Cabrera after he was initially shown a red card for a stamp on Robert Lewandowski.

Alba will now serve a one-match suspension, meaning he will miss Barca's clash with Atletico Madrid at Civitas Metropolitano on January 8.

The Spain international revealed he received his second yellow card after voicing his frustration at a challenge involving Andreas Christensen and Joselu, whose penalty cancelled out Marcos Alonso's earlier header at Camp Nou. 

"I did not understand the expulsion and I told him so," Alba said, in quotes carried by Mundo Deportivo. "I went to Mateu to tell him that Joselu had made [Christensen's] bed, nothing more.

"He thought it was the first yellow, and he showed me the second. For me, it is not even a card.

"I am aware that sometimes I make mistakes and protest too much because I am very impulsive, and I have to correct this aspect, but this time, it was not the case."

Sergi Roberto, who wore the captain's armband during Saturday's derby, concurred, telling Movistar: "Alba had forgotten his first card. We were all a little surprised."

Although Barca returned to the top of LaLiga on goal difference, they were punished for not converting their superiority into maximum points, having enjoyed over three quarters of the possession and registered 21 shots on goal.

"In the second half, we wanted to go for the second goal and to have the game more controlled," Sergi Roberto added. 

"The game stopped a lot with the expulsions, the cards, and then we were not able to play our way anymore."

Xavi refused to blame referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz after Barcelona's 1-1 draw with Espanyol but acknowledged the feisty Catalan derby "totally got out of control."

The Blaugrana were forced to settle for a point on their return to action following the World Cup despite a dominant display at Camp Nou, where Joselu's penalty cancelled out a header from Marcos Alonso.

The contest descended into chaos as Lahoz, who was in charge of Argentina's fiery World Cup quarter-final clash with the Netherlands this month, prolifically handed out cards during the bruising final exchanges.

Jordi Alba was dismissed for two bookable offences on his 300th LaLiga appearance for the Barca, while Vinicius Souza  after, and Leandro Cabrera was fortunate to stay on the field having appeared to stamp on Robert Lewandowski.

But while Xavi, who was booked by Lahoz, was disappointed by the official's performance, the head coach insisted Barca only had themselves to blame for failing to convert their superiority into three points.

"Mateu is a referee who controls the matches, and today escaped him," he is quoted as saying by Marca. "Today, the match has totally got out of control.

"He is a referee who gives you the feeling that he dominates and controls the game. But today, it was not like that. I don't blame him for anything. The tie is our fault. I have to look for my own, for what I can control.

"I can't control the referee. I have said it many times. The referee would have to come out and speak and say what he has seen and what the players have told him. Jordi has told me that he has not said anything to him.

"We have created chances. From the 30th minute, we have slowed down, the intensity. We haven't attacked so well, perhaps. My feeling is that we should have won well. The penalty is an unfortunate move for us.

"We are angry with ourselves. In football, there are times when you are better, and you don't win. The team has generated a lot of danger in corners. It's a pity and we're upset."

Barca are level on points with Real Madrid at the top of the table but have a better goal difference.

Joselu's late penalty denied Barcelona as Espanyol rescued a 1-1 draw during a Catalan derby that descended into chaos towards the end.

The Blaugrana replaced Real Madrid at LaLiga's summit on goal difference but were forced to settle for a point on their return to action despite dominating with over three-quarters of the possession and 21 shots.

Marcos Alonso broke the deadlock with an early header but then conceded the spot-kick that Joselu converted 17 minutes from time.

Both sides ended the game with 10 men after Jordi Alba and Vinicius Souza were dismissed for second bookings as referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz – the man in charge of Argentina's feisty World Cup quarter-final clash with the Netherlands earlier this month – prolifically handed out cards during the bruising final exchanges.

Espanyol are furious that Robert Lewandowski could play in Saturday's derby after Barcelona secured a temporary injunction that put his three-match ban on hold.

Poland international Lewandowski was shown two yellow cards in the first half of Barca's last match before the World Cup break – a 2-1 win at Osasuna on November 8.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) issued Lewandowski with an extended three-game punishment due to an alleged gesture made towards referee Jesus Gil Manzano after being dismissed, although the player said it had been aimed at his own coach, Xavi.

The full ban may yet apply, but for now it is on hold after "the dispute settlement court in Madrid issued a precautionary measure against the suspension imposed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)" on Friday.

Espanyol are unsurprisingly infuriated such a situation now renders Lewandowski – who has scored 13 goals in 14 LaLiga games this season – eligible to play at Camp Nou on Saturday.

Los Pericos suggested the decision threatens the integrity of the competition because the round of matches has already started, while they are bewildered why such a ruling has been given when Lewandowski's sanction had been supported by three bodies: LaLiga, the appeals committee and CAS.

Espanyol's statement read: "Espanyol finds it unusual that, 24 hours before the match against Barcelona, ​​and after it was rejected by different competent bodies (competition, appeal and CAS), a precautionary measure has been granted to a previously imposed sanction to the Barcelona player, Robert Lewandowski.

"In this sense, as an indirectly involved party, we were only able to have access to the resolution after requesting it from different bodies and not because it was communicated to us, as established by the procedural regulations.

"However, we believe that the requirements are not met to justify the precautionary measure. Specifically, the appearance of good law is particularly indefensible as there are two sanctions of different types, three unfavourable administrative resolutions and an arbitration act with a presumption of veracity that support the sanction.

"Likewise, there is talk of irreparable damage to Barcelona without assessing the irreparable damage to its rivals and the competition without giving the possibility of any recourse.

"The club considers that this last-minute decision completely conditions this matchday, which started yesterday (Thursday), and the team's preparation for this match. RCD Espanyol understands that it is a grievance and an injustice considering the precedents with other clubs.

"Despite this injustice and this unprecedented decision in the competition, our team tomorrow will compete 110 per cent to live up to the trust of our fans."

LaLiga leaders Barcelona return to action on Saturday looking to pick up where they left off before the World Cup and end 2023 on a high.

The Blaugrana won each of their last five league games prior to Qatar 2022, leaving them top of the table during the break.

They will be confident of making it six in a row this weekend.

While local derbies can be particularly difficult to predict, Barcelona's duels with Espanyol tend to go one way.

A one-sided derby

This isn't a derby that's been defined by unpredictability in recent years.

Barcelona haven't lost any of their past 24 league meetings with Espanyol (W18 D6), which is their longest run without a defeat against them in the top flight.

Their last such defeat was almost 14 years ago in February 2009 (1-2), a game that the current Barca coach Xavi played in.

Of course, that defeat was a massive shock, with former Barca player Ivan de la Pena scoring both goals as Espanyol won a league game at Camp Nou for the first time in 27 years.

Before the game, there was a whopping 42-point abyss between the two teams, with Barca top and Espanyol bottom – the latter went on to finish 10th.

But since then, Barcelona have won all 12 home games against Espanyol in LaLiga, keeping 10 clean sheets in the process.

In fact, they have won more games at home against Espanyol in LaLiga than against any other opponent (G87 W69 D9 L9).

The form guide

There is every reason to expect Barca's streak in the derby to remain intact this weekend when you take into consideration the two teams' pre-World Cup form.

Barca collected 37 points from 14 games before the season paused (W12 D1 L1), equalling their second-highest tally at this stage of a LaLiga season (also 37 points in 2010-11) and trailing only the 2012-13 and 2013-14 campaigns when they collected 40 points (W13 D1 in both).

By contrast, Espanyol have won only two of their first 14 games this term (D6 L6), equalling their lowest tally of wins at this stage of the season in the top flight (along with eight other instances).

Neither of those two victories came in the five games leading up to the season's hiatus, and Espanyol could only scrape past fourth-tier Atletico Paso 1-0 in the Copa del Rey last week thanks to an 80th-minute winner.

Xavi's miserly defence

Of course, we tend to associate Barca with attacking brilliance, and they've certainly shown signs of that this season.

But defensively they've also been sound.

Xavi's men have already kept 11 clean sheets in LaLiga this season, which is the most of all teams across the top five European leagues.

This is also Barca's biggest clean sheet tally after 14 league matches in a LaLiga season this century.

But they are not entirely bulletproof.

If Espanyol are to breach the Barca defence, their strategy may revolve around an intense start as the Blaugrana have conceded a league-high 60 per cent of their goals this season in the opening 15 minutes of matches (3/5).

Barca's Lewy boost

Espanyol will have prepared for this game confident that Robert Lewandowski's suspension would at least aid their chances of springing a surprise. 

That was until Friday, anyway, when it was revealed the Polish striker would in fact be available.

Lewandowski was sent off for two bookings against Osasuna in Barca's last pre-World Cup game, while a gesture he made while leaving the pitch earnt him an additional two-match ban.

But a "precautionary measure against the suspension imposed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport" means a final decision on the suspension has been delayed, freeing the Poland star – who has scored 13 goals in 14 league outings this term – to face Espanyol.

The task awaiting Espanyol just got even tougher, and as such the importance of Joselu increased again for Los Pericos.

The striker has been involved in 50 per cent of Espanyol's goals in LaLiga this season (8/16), with Borja Iglesias (eight) the only Spanish player to score more than his seven.

He would surely trade all of those in for a decisive impact in the derby, however, with Barca's remarkable record making them overwhelming favourites once again.

Robert Lewandowski is clear to face Espanyol in Saturday's derby after Barcelona secured a temporary injunction in a Madrid court, putting the striker's three-match ban on hold.

Poland international Lewandowski was shown two yellow cards in the first half of Barca's last match before the World Cup break – a 2-1 win at Osasuna on November 8.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) issued Lewandowski with an extended three-game punishment due to an alleged gesture made towards referee Gil Manzano after being dismissed, although the player said it had been aimed at his own coach, Xavi.

Lewandowski has claimed the suspension is "too much for what I did", and the former Bayern Munich man said it would be "painful" to sit out three games.

With 18 goals in 19 games this season, to lose Lewandowski for three games would deny Barcelona the services of their deadliest attacking weapon. Only Erling Haaland (26) and Kylian Mbappe (20) have scored more club goals this season, among players in Europe's top five leagues.

The full ban may yet apply, but for now it is on hold, a surprise development, particularly in regard to the timing.

Barcelona said in a statement on Friday: "Lewandowski can play tomorrow against Espanyol after the dispute settlement court in Madrid issued a precautionary measure against the suspension imposed by the court of arbitration for sport."

The Espanyol game is Barcelona's first since the World Cup break, with Xavi's team having sat top of LaLiga heading into the six-week interval, two points clear of a Real Madrid side who were getting their campaign back under way against Real Valladolid on Thursday.

Xavi said: "We have been facing this week different options, taking into account that Robert was not available, but in the end it's fantastic news we will be able to have Robert, although it's not the best situation to know a day before that he's going to be able to play.

"He's surprised about timings, but I've said it plenty of times: it was an unfair suspension, three games for just touching the nose."

Diego Simeone seemed optimistic despite seeing his Atletico Madrid team fail to beat Espanyol at the Metropolitano, even with a man advantage.

The visitors had Leandro Cabrera sent off after 28 minutes on Sunday after he fouled Alvaro Morata to deny him getting in on goal, leaving Atletico with more than an hour with an extra player.

However, it was Espanyol who took the lead just after the hour through Sergi Darder's volley, before substitute Joao Felix fired in a leveller with just over 10 minutes remaining.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Simeone expressed his gratitude for the love he has received at the club since taking over as head coach in 2011, with some believing him to be under pressure after finishing bottom of their Champions League group and falling 10 points behind the top of LaLiga.

"I came to Atletico young and the first season was very bad and [the fans] always loved me without having given them absolutely anything," he said. "Then we won the Copa del Rey (2012-13) and the league (2013-14). 

"I was lucky enough to come back as a player and a coach. I am grateful to Atletico Madrid for life, the love I feel is not going to upset me in the current circumstances."

 

Atletico attempted 27 shots in the game, their highest tally in all competitions since February 2021 against Levante (28).

They hit the target just seven times though, and also found Espanyol goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte in fine form.

"We had chances," Simeone added. "They scored, and after scoring the desire to generate danger and intensity went up one more step. If one has forcefulness, the mental part grows. When you see that you have 27 shots and you don't win... We tend to have more precision, hopefully we can adjust that."

Despite exiting Europe and having not won any of their last four games in all competitions, Simeone looked on the bright side.

"After [losing to] Porto [in midweek], the Champions League and Europe are closed and a new tournament begins in LaLiga, where we are not doing badly.

"We have to be confident in what we do and hope this doesn't break. At least we didn't lose, we could have won it, and a draw keeps us in the top four."

Joao Felix came off the bench to rescue a point for Atletico Madrid against 10-man Espanyol as they drew 1-1 at the Metropolitano on Sunday.

The game had started with some jeers from the crowd after Atletico finished bottom of their Champions League group in midweek, and the mood did not improve as the Rojiblancos struggled to break down their visitors.

It looked to be set up nicely for the hosts when Leandro Cabrera was sent off in the first half, but despite having an extra man, Atletico contrived to fall behind after Sergi Darder's volley just after the hour mark.

Joao Felix arrived to bring the scores level with just over 10 minutes remaining, but a draw will still be a disappointing result for home coach Diego Simeone in the circumstances.

Espanyol lost a man in the 28th minute when Cabrera saw red after being judged to have brought down Alvaro Morata when trying to prevent the Spain striker from racing through on goal.

Marcos Llorente went close shortly after when he got on the end of a cross from the left by Reinildo but sent his first-time effort over the crossbar.

It was Espanyol who took the lead against the run of play in the 62nd minute, with Oscar Gil's cross from the right headed back across goal by Joselu for the unmarked Darder to volley past Jan Oblak.

In the 78th minute, Felix chested down a ball out to the left by fellow substitute Thomas Lemar before dashing towards goal and rifling a left-footed shot inside Benjamin Lecomte's near post, though Atleti were unable to find a winner.

Espanyol will demand "corrective measures" from organisers of Friday's friendly between Morocco and Chile following incidents during and after the match at RCDE Stadium.

Fans forced their way into the stadium and there was a pitch invasion after Morocco's 2-0 victory at the home of Espanyol.

The LaLiga club will be seeking answers to ensure there will be no repeat of the scenes.

A club statement said: "RCD Espanyol de Barcelona regret the incidents that occurred this Friday at the RCDE Stadium, during the international friendly match between Morocco and Chile.

"As with other events promoted by third parties, in accordance with the contract for the use of the facility and appealing to the responsibility of this third party in all matters related to the event, the club will demand corrective measures be taken by match organisers regarding every action that has an impact on the integrity of elements of the stadium.

"This experience will be taken into account to attempt to avoid a repeat of such incidents in future events organised by third parties at our facilities.

"Since its inauguration, the RCDE Stadium has hosted many matches and events that have taken place without incident.

"This year, after the conclusion of the 2021/22 LaLiga season, another international friendly and two concerts were held that highlighted the potential of our facility to hold such events.

"The RCDE Stadium is a top-level facility and a source of pride for RCD Espanyol, which brings in revenue and strengthens our club brand on both a local and international level."

Spain striker Raul de Tomas has agreed to return to Rayo Vallecano after a deal was confirmed with Espanyol.

The 27-year-old spent two seasons on loan at Estadio de Vallecas from Real Madrid between 2017 and 2019, before making a permanent move to Benfica, and then Espanyol.

However, as his move back to Vallecano has been completed outside the transfer and registration window, the player cannot feature for his new team until January. A lack of match action in the coming months means it is unlikely De Tomas will be named in the Spain squad for the World Cup later this year.

De Tomas – who has four caps for La Roja –scored 17 goals in 34 LaLiga appearances for Espanyol last season, but was keen to move to Vallecano before the transfer window closed.

That was not possible as negotiations stuttered, though they continued after the window closed, even leading to the player's agent Ivan Garcia being accused of headbutting Vallecano's president Raul Martin Presa, with the club releasing a statement on Saturday saying: "Ivan Garcia assaulted Raul Martin Presa, hitting him in the face with his head on Thursday night.

"Precisely because he was attacked, Raul Martin Presa called the police, went to the emergency room of a hospital centre to receive medical assistance and immediately filed a complaint against Ivan Garcia at the police station."

Nevertheless, Vallecano announced on Tuesday that a deal had been agreed to sign De Tomas, with reports suggesting the fee to be around €8million, with a further €3m in add-ons, and the club confirmed he had signed until 2027.

That falls some way short of Espanyol's supposed initial valuation of €30m, but the writing seemed to be on the wall when the player fell out with head coach Diego Martinez, and he has not featured for the Periquitos this season.

De Tomas made his Spain debut last November in the 1-0 win away to Greece in World Cup qualifying, and has since played for the national team against Sweden, Portugal and Czech Republic.

The transfer window has been gently eased shut, and there were plenty of last-minute deals to keep fans across Europe captivated.

Southampton were busy, adding Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Duje Caleta-Car to their ranks, among others, while Barcelona allowed Martin Braithwaite to join Espanyol on a free transfer and sold Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Chelsea.

As the seconds ticked down, clubs dotted their i's, crossed their t's and blew the dust off their fax machines, and here is just some of what took place in the closing hours.

Busy Saints bring in four, lose one

As far as the Premier League goes, it was Southampton who got up to the most activity in the final moments, signing Maitland-Niles on loan from Arsenal and Caleta-Car permanently from Marseille on a four-year deal, as well as adding two Manchester City youngsters in Juan Larios and Sam Edozie. They let defender Yan Valery to Ligue 1 side Angers.

Brighton and Hove Albion completed the signing of Billy Gilmour from Chelsea and released Romanian striker Florin Andone, while Chelsea let Ethan Ampadu join Serie A side Spezia on loan and finally allowed Kenedy to depart Stamford Bridge after seven years to join Real Valladolid in LaLiga.

Carlos Vinicius returned to the Premier League after a loan spell with Tottenham in 2020-21, having joined Fulham from Benfica on a permanent deal. The Cottagers also completed a loan deal for Leeds United winger Daniel James.

The Whites were frustrated in their attempts to sign Bamba Dieng from Marseille, but instead clinched a deal for Italian youngster Wilfried Gnonto from FC Zurich for an undisclosed fee.

Nottingham Forest added signings number 20 and 21 of the window in Josh Bowler from Blackpool and Loic Bade from Rennes, with free agent Serge Aurier potentially making it 22, though a reported late move for Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi failed to materialise.

Jan Bednarek had been linked with a move to West Ham earlier in the day but ended up leaving Southampton on loan to another team in claret and blue as Aston Villa brought in the Polish defender.

Brooks was here, now he's in Lisbon

On the continent, Benfica completed the signing of American defender John Brooks from Wolfsburg, while Maxi Gomez left Valencia for Turkish side Trabzonspor.

Los Che brought in a replacement for Gomez in Justin Kluivert on loan from Roma after his move to Fulham fell through due to work permit issues.

In France, highly rated forward Amine Gouiri swapped Nice for Rennes in a reported club-record fee apparently worth €28million, while Lille secured a loan deal for Everton midfielder Andre Gomes.

As well as signing Aubameyang and Hector Bellerin and losing Braithwaite, Barcelona also said goodbye on a temporary basis to Ez Abde, who joined Osasuna on loan.

Memphis Depay has pledged his immediate future to Barcelona and says he is committed to the club's "sporting success."

The Netherlands international has yet to feature for the Catalan giants this season, and had been linked with a move to Serie A side Juventus.

Premier League clubs Chelsea, Tottenham and Newcastle United were also rumoured to be interested in signing the former Manchester United and Lyon forward.

However, the 28-year-old took to social media on Thursday to confirm he will not be leaving Camp Nou, posting on Twitter: "I have decided to stay at Barca! Fully committed to contribute to the club's sporting success."

One player who did leave Barca on transfer deadline day was Martin Braithwaite, who joined LaLiga rivals Espanyol.

The 31-year-old joined the club from Leganes in February 2020, with Barca having been granted an emergency extension to complete the signing outside of the transfer window following an injury to Ousmane Dembele.

Braithwaite made an impact in the 2020-21 season, scoring a brace in the Champions League against Dynamo Kyiv, but an injury last term led to an extended absence.

It was confirmed earlier on Thursday that the Denmark striker's contract had been terminated.

Barcelona and Martin Braithwaite have agreed to terminate the contract of the Denmark striker.

The 31-year-old joined the club from Leganes in February 2020, with Barca having been granted an emergency extension to complete the signing outside of the transfer window following an injury to Ousmane Dembele.

Braithwaite made an impact in the 2020-21 season, scoring a brace in the Champions League against Dynamo Kyiv, but an injury last term led to an extended absence.

He returned from fitness to be informed he was no longer required at Camp Nou, with Barcelona pushing to terminate the forward's deal throughout the window in order to free up new recruits to be registered.

Barcelona were unable to do so, however, until the final day of the transfer window, with it widely reported Braithwaite will make the short trip across the city to join rivals Espanyol.

"Barcelona and Martin Braithwaite have reached an agreement to terminate the contract binding the player to the club until the end of the 2023-24 season," a statement read.

"Barcelona publicly expresses its gratitude to Braithwaite for his commitment and dedication and wishes him the best of fortune and every success in the future."

Xavi's side are set for a busy period in the final hours of the transfer window, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sergino Dest poised to complete departures.

Incoming deals are also on the cards in the form of defenders Hector Bellerin and Marcos Alonso from Arsenal and Chelsea respectively.

Page 1 of 4
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.