Joshua Kimmich warned "hungry" Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich still have room for improvement after they beat Greuther Furth 3-1 despite Benjamin Pavard's red card.

Robert Lewandowski's long goalscoring streak ended at 15 consecutive Bundesliga games - one short of Gerd Muller's record - but the champions moved three points clear of Wolfsburg.

That is now 40 goals in their past eight matches for ruthless Bayern, who led 2-0 courtesy of great finishes from Thomas Muller and Kimmich at half-time.

Pavard was given his marching orders for a professional foul on Jeremy Dudziak early in the second half, but a Sebastian Griesbeck own goal extended their lead.

Cedric Itten's header in the closing stages was too little, too late for bottom side Furth in the Bavarian derby at Sportpark Ronhof on Friday.

Bayern have won eight consecutive matches in a great start to Julian Nagelsmann's reign and midfielder Kimmich says there is more to come.

 

The Germany international told DAZN: "The character of the team is great. We have players who want to develop, who are hungry.

"We want to win every game. We're in good form at the moment, but we haven't been able to manage all of the games this season with confidence. There's room for improvement."

Kimmich, who delivered the free-kick that was turned into his own net by Griesbeck, added: "It wasn't exactly a brilliant performance on our part, but we had the game under control even when we played with 10.

"We made mistakes in the first half, and we kept inviting Furth via set-pieces."

Jamaica international Leon Bailey is set to miss the country's next set of World Cup qualifiers after being diagnosed with a thigh strain.

The 23-year-old winger made a lively appearance for Aston Villa last weekend, playing an active role in two of the team’s three goals in a 3-1 win over Everton.  Among them was a net-busting volley to goal, which punctuated a quick counterattack.

Unfortunately, the player had to be substituted soon after but it was hoped that he would not miss much time off the pitch.  However, the club manager Dean Smith recently confirmed that the player would be out of action for the next few weeks.

"Leon has a strain which is likely to keep him out until after the international break," Smith told reporters.

 "We would be hopeful that he would be available for the Wolves game, but we'll need to assess him nearer the time and see how he progresses over the next 10 days or so."

Jamaica will resume its World Cup qualification campaign next month, with matches away to the United States, at home to Canada, and away to Honduras.  The player also missed out on the first round of the qualifiers with an injury last month.

The Jamaica international joined Villa from Bayer Leverkusen earlier this summer from a reported 25 million pounds ($US34m), is targeting a return to action against Wolverhampton Wanderers on October 16.

Robert Lewandowski's scoring streak ended and Benjamin Pavard was sent off, but Bayern Munich still cruised to a 3-1 victory over Greuther Furth in the Bundesliga.

In a Bavarian derby battle between top and bottom on Friday, Bayern were in control at half-time following goals from Thomas Muller and Joshua Kimmich at Sportpark Ronhof.

There was hope for Furth when France full-back Pavard was shown a straight red card early in the second half for a professional foul on Jeremy Dudziak.

The champions remained a class apart from their newly-promoted opponents despite Pavard's dismissal and a Sebastian Griesbeck own goal increased their advantage, with a late Cedric Itten header no more than a consolation for the home side.

Lewandowski was unable to match Gerd Muller's record of scoring in 16 consecutive Bundesliga games, but Julian Nagelsmann's moved three points clear at the summit.

Bayern wasted no time in stamping their authority on the game, with Leon Goretzka's early long-range drive flashing just wide.

The champions were in front in the 10th minute, when Thomas Muller finished clinically with his left foot after Maximilian Bauer could only divert Alphonso Davies's cross into his path.

Furth were unable to live with Bayern and Kimmich doubled their lead just after the half-hour mark with a measured right-footed strike from 25 yards out after Leroy Sane laid the ball back to him.

Lewandowski flicked Kimmich's corner against the crossbar as Bayern dominated, but they were a man down when Pavard was given his marching orders for upending Dudziak three minutes into the second half.

Bayern continued to pose a major threat despite their numerical disadvantage, Sascha Burchert getting down to keep out Lewandowski's first-time shot.

Nagelsmann was shown a yellow card for dissent before Kimmich's free-kick was turned into his own net by Griesbeck, under pressure from Lewandowski.

Itten nodded in Timothy Tillman's inviting cross with a couple of minutes remaining, but the points were in the bag by then for Bayern.

Carlo Ancelotti is taking no enjoyment from bitter rivals Barcelona's ongoing struggles as he backed Real Madrid to continue improving.

Barca have managed just two wins from their opening five LaLiga games of the season and were beaten 3-0 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League last week.

The pressure is mounting on head coach Ronald Koeman following Thursday's stalemate with Cadiz, a result that leaves the Catalan giants down in seventh place.

LaLiga leaders Madrid are already seven points better off than Barca, albeit having played a game more, but Ancelotti is only concerned about his own side's performances.

"I'm not happy if a team has a bad time," he said at Friday's news conference previewing Madrid's home match with Villarreal on Saturday. 

"I focus only on my team. If things don't go well for another team, be it Barca or another, It doesn't make me happy."

 

Madrid's thumping 6-1 win over Real Mallorca on Wednesday moved them two points clear of reigning champions Atletico Madrid at the summit ahead of the visit of Villarreal.

Los Blancos are now unbeaten in 24 league games, which is their longest such run since going 28 without defeat between March 2016 and January 2017.

Marco Asensio scored a hat-trick against his former side in that most recent match, while Karim Benzema claimed a double and provided two assists.

Benzema has now been directly involved in 15 LaLiga goals this season, surpassing former team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo (14) for the most of any player in the Spanish top flight this century after six games.

The France international turns 34 in December, but Ancelotti feels the prolific striker is only getting better with age.

Asked if Benzema is a contender for the Ballon d'Or award, Ancelotti said: "Because of what he's doing and has done, he has to be on the shortlist.

"But Karim still has time to win it. This will not be his last season. He's like wine – it gets better with time."

Thanks to the form of Benzema, Madrid have scored 21 goals after six LaLiga matches – their best tally at this stage since 1987-88 when registering 26 goals.

The capital club have not been as strong defensively, though, with only seven teams in the division having conceded more goals than the eight Madrid have let in.

With that in mind, Ancelotti believes there is still more to come from his side.

"The players are doing well. I have to be honest, we have focused a lot on the defensive side of our game because that needed the most improvement," he said.

"It's difficult to have a high line if there is no pressure on the ball. If there is no pressure we defend with a low block. 

"We'd like to have a line in the centre of the pitch, but it's not always possible.

"I was satisfied with the Mallorca game compared to our previous match against Valencia, but you quickly have to focus on what can be improved."

Ancelotti also revealed Eden Hazard has "trained well" this week but could not guarantee the forward, who was an unused substitute against Mallorca, would feature this weekend.

Madrid have lost just one of their 21 home LaLiga matches against Villarreal, winning 15 of those and drawing the other five.

Villarreal have therefore lost 71.4 per cent of their away matches against Los Blancos, which is their highest percentage against any opponent with at least two games played on the road.

Marco Asensio was considering leaving Real Madrid on loan before Carlo Ancelotti told the midfielder to stay with the LaLiga leaders.

The Spain international was concerned that his first-team opportunities would be limited this season due to the options at Ancelotti's disposal in his second spell as Madrid boss.

Liverpool were among the clubs linked with Asensio, but the 25-year-old was still with Los Blancos when the transfer window closed at the end of last month.

Asensio, who missed most of the 2019-20 due to a knee injury, marked his first start of the season with a hat-trick in a 6-1 LaLiga hammering of his former club Real Mallorca on Wednesday.

Horacio Gaggioli, Asensio's agent, has revealed it could have been a very different story.

"We had been considering a loan for him to get back in form as soon as possible, either in Spain or abroad," he told Cadena SER's El Larguero show.

"There were no problems in that sense. But four days ago, Carletto (Ancelotti) told him to stay.

"We knew the quality Real Madrid had in midfield, probably the best in the world. So where would he play? It's not that we had no faith in him, because he can also play on the wing.

"But we knew that the year after the injury was going to be difficult and Real Madrid can't wait for anybody. They have to win every week and recovering from an injury isn't easy at Real Madrid."

Gaggioli says Asensio had no desire to leave the Spanish capital, adding: "We cannot be more grateful to Real Madrid."

With his treble against Mallorca, Asensio became the sixth Spanish player to score a hat-trick for Madrid in LaLiga this century and the first since Alvaro Morata in April 2017. 

He has two years to run on his contract at the Santiago Bernabeu and Ancelotti insists the versatile midfielder has a big role to play.

"Marco was important to us even before the Mallorca game," Ancelotti said on Friday. "He has shown his quality for us. He can play in different positions and is a very important player in the squad."

Mauricio Pochettino has insisted Kylian Mbappe is a "fantastic guy" after the Paris Saint-Germain star came in for criticism following the midweek win over Metz. 

PSG won 2-1 on Wednesday thanks to Achraf Hakimi's last-gasp winner, after Metz captain Dylan Bronn had received a second yellow card for kicking the ball away to waste time, with coach Frederic Antonetti then seeing red for his protestations on the touchline. 

As PSG celebrated Hakimi scoring, Metz goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja charged out to confront some of Pochettino's players, seemingly angered by the nature of their celebrations, with Mbappe the main target of his remonstrations.  

Speaking in his post-match news conference, Antonetti hit out at Mbappe, who he claimed needed to be humble in his behaviour on the field.

Pochettino, however, defended Mbappe on Friday, saying incidents within a match must be taken within that context. 

"I understand that the coach was angry. That is a natural reaction," said Pochettino. 

"You have to take the context into account, especially when considering after losing a game in the 95th minute, I can empathise with Fred for being angry about the situation. 

"Kylian Mbappe is a fantastic guy, he is a top competitor who wants to win, always. 

"These things happen on the pitch, but I don't think they need to be carried off the pitch as well in terms of the situations with him and some Metz players. 

"These incidents cannot be taken out of context, they have to be analysed within a match in which both teams want to win and many things happen, so that cannot be used out of context. 

"That doesn't reflect the reality of who Kylian is, but I can understand the frustration on their behalf." 

 

Mbappe had a game-leading three attempts, level with Neymar and Hakimi, while the 22-year-old also created four chances, more than any other player. 

He had 76 touches and came out on top in 63.6 per cent of his 11 duels, while also winning three fouls, another game high, though only Neymar (34) lost possession more times than the France forward (18). 

With Lionel Messi out injured, the onus will be on Neymar and Mbappe to spearhead PSG's attack against Montpellier on Saturday. 

Mbappe has been involved in 11 goals against Montpellier in Ligue 1 (eight goals, three assists), more than any other current team in the competition. 

After failing to be involved in either goal against Metz, however, he will be aiming to make sure he does not feature in successive league matches without scoring or assisting for the first time since February. 

Lionel Messi is set to miss a second game in a row for Paris Saint-Germain, with their Champions League blockbuster against Manchester City on the horizon.

Messi was absent for PSG's dramatic 2-1 Ligue 1 win over Metz because of a knee injury, that victory maintaining their 100 per cent record in the league.

They will be expected to continue that run when Montpellier visit the Parc des Princes on Sunday despite Messi again being unavailable.

Defeating City, who prevailed against PSG 4-1 on aggregate in last season's Champions League semi-finals, without Messi on Tuesday would be substantially more difficult.

In a medical update released on Friday, PSG said: "Leo Messi started running again today in line with his treatment protocol."

The club added that Messi will be re-evaluated on Sunday, meaning a potential reunion with Pep Guardiola, with whom he won three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns during their time together at Barcelona, remains in doubt.

PSG were held to a 1-1 draw by Club Brugge in their opening Group A encounter.

Messi has played just three games since his stunning departure from Barca and has yet to find the net for PSG.

 

Gerard Pique remains convinced Barcelona can recover from a slow start to challenge for trophies as Ronald Koeman received backing from within the club.

After a first LaLiga goalless draw with Cadiz in their 27th meeting, Barca have managed just two wins from their five top-flight games so far. 

Meanwhile, the Catalan club have gone without scoring in two of their past three games in all competitions, as many as in their previous 41, as they continue to suffer in the absence of Lionel Messi, who departed for Paris Saint-Germain amid financial difficulties. 

Despite the underwhelming opening to the campaign, Pique has called for unity at the club in pursuit of finding resolutions to their issues on and off the pitch. 

"The club have been riding the crest of a wave for many years," Pique told Movistar after Thursday's 0-0 draw. 

"We are going through a situation we aren't used to. These are turbulent years, with the change of president, and change of coaches. Together we have to do our best to provide peace of mind. 

"Everyone wants to win. There are many ways to deal with it. We can all complain or we can work. The players are here to work. 

"Let's not look for two sides. We are all with the president and also with the coach. We can't control the noise [around the club] and don't want to think about it." 

 

Indeed, the goalless draw means Barca have scored just eight goals after their first five games in the league, their worst return at this stage since 2003-04 (five). 

Frenkie de Jong's late dismissal was also Barca's second red card of the season, along with Eric Garcia against Athletic Bilbao, as many as in the whole previous campaign as Koeman's side continue to lack discipline. 

However, Pique is adamant Barca will return to the top of Spanish football. 

"I don't wear the Barcelona shirt to finish second or third," he continued. "I'm here to compete for trophies. 

"Sometimes we have to face moments like this. We feel the fans are behind us and the situation is complicated for us all. 

"I'm absolutely convinced, despite the start, that we'll be competing. The team is in good spirits and have the desire." 

Koeman's relationship issues with president Joan Laporta have been well-documented, as the former appears to be heading towards the exit door if results do not come soon. 

Barca technical secretary Ramon Planes did at least reject any suggestion that Koeman will be relieved of his duties ahead of the game against Levante on Sunday. 

"Yes, it will be with Koeman, who has our support," Planes responded to Movistar after the Cadiz game. "Football is set up like this, the coaches are in permanent examination and in a big club, even more so. 

"We are Barca, the best club in the world, we have a good squad, and the objective is to win and win, because there are no transitional seasons. We have a squad to fight for the title." 

Barcelona need to add some attacking options to their squad, particularly with the Lionel Messi era now over.

Ferran Torres is among those on their wish list. 

Will Manchester City let him go? 

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA STILL COVET TORRES

Barcelona are not ready to give up on their pursuit of Manchester City forward Ferran Torres, the Sun reports.  

After being rebuffed in a previous overture for the 21-year-old Spain international, Barca are ready to try again next year.  

Torres has done them no favours with his impressive showing for Spain at Euro 2020, plus his in-form start to this season for City. 

 

ROUND-UP

Xavi could be in line to replace Ronald Koeman at Barcelona, Marca reports. The Barca legend is head coach at Al Sadd after finishing his playing career with the Qatari club.  

Liverpool plan to renew their pursuit of West Ham's Jarrod Bowen, the Liverpool Echo reports, after they reportedly bid £20million for him during the previous transfer window.  

Alexandre Lacazette will have no shortage of suitors when the time comes for him to depart Arsenal. Atletico Madrid are interested in the France striker, says Le10 Sport, while West Ham and Crystal Palace may also bid for the 30-year-old, according to 90min. 

Ronald Koeman says referees in Spain send people off "for nothing" after both he and midfielder Frenkie de Jong were dismissed in Barcelona's dire 0-0 draw with Cadiz on Thursday.

Barca's hopes of leaving Andalusia with a much-needed win were dealt a blow when De Jong received a second yellow card in the 65th minute for following through on Alfonso Espino after initially winning the ball. 

The Catalan giants' woes were compounded deep into stoppage time when Koeman was also ejected for his protestations towards referee Carlos del Cerro Grande.

The stalemate means Barca have now drawn three of their opening five LaLiga games this season to sit seven points adrift of leaders Real Madrid, although Carlo Ancelotti's side have played a game more. 

Koeman's dismissal followed a frantic period that saw two balls in play at the same time, with the Dutchman claiming he was given his marching orders by Cerro Grande for alerting him to the situation. Sergio Busquets was booked for kicking the rogue ball towards the Cadiz player in possession.

"It was not because of nervousness, it was because I told the fourth official that there was a second ball on the field and the referee had to stop the game. Everyone except the referee saw it," he told Movistar.

"They expel you for nothing, in this country they expel you for nothing. I have asked the referee as normal. Attitude? We leave it because it is not my problem."

 

The goalless draw means Barca have failed to scored in two of their past three games across all competitions – as many as in their previous 41 matches. 

Meanwhile, their tally of eight goals scored at this stage of the season is their worst since the 2003-04 season when they scored just five in their opening five matches. 

Koeman's future has been the subject of intense speculation in recent weeks and the Dutchman is aware that is unlikely to subside in the coming days.

"I do not talk about my personal situation," he added. "It seems that if I win I continue and if I lose the club has to find another coach. It is for you [to talk about].

"The president [Joan Laporta] was at the hotel, and we greeted each other shortly before leaving. Surely there will be more days to talk about this issue if the club wants to talk."

Barca are next in action against Levante at Camp Nou on Sunday. 

Jose Mourinho praised his Roma players for holding on with 10 men to claim a 1-0 win against Udinese that saw the Portuguese equal Massimiliano Allegri's record unbeaten home run in Serie A.

Tammy Abraham scored what proved to be the only goal of the game in Thursday's clash at Stadio Olimpico with a flicked finish nine minutes before half-time.

Roma struggled in the second half as they saw less of the ball than Udinese (47.4 per cent) and were out-shot seven to two, with Rui Patricio forced into a couple of saves.

The Giallorossi had to play the final stages a man light after Lorenzo Pellegrini was issued a second yellow card for catching Lazar Samardzic with his elbow, but they saw out their fourth victory in five league games this term.

That includes three successive wins at Stadio Olimpico under Mourinho, who is now 41 without defeat on home soil in the Italian top flight going back to his hugely successful tenure at Inter.

He is one short of taking the outright record in the three-points-per-win era (since 1994-95), with Allegri's previous benchmark set between September 2015 and September 2017 during his first spell in charge of Juventus.

Mourinho was pleased to pick up all three points against Udinese and move up to fourth in the standings, but he acknowledged his side dropped off in the second half of the contest.

"We played well for about 35 minutes," he said at his post-match news conference. "We had total control of the game, 1-0 is little for what we did. In the second half we struggled a bit more, and they reacted.

"We had to suffer a bit. But we did so as a team. We played about six or seven minutes with a man less and fought hard for the three points."

 

Pellegrini's contentious dismissal means that he is set to miss Sunday's Derby della Capitale showdown with bitter rivals Lazio, but Mourinho suggested he intends to appeal against the decision.

"It was ridiculous. We had an educational meeting with the referee chiefs and the rules were explained for two hours," Mourinho said. "Then we get to the game and see a red like this.

"I can't say anything except that it was ridiculous. Football is and always will be football. You cannot change it into a non-contact sport."

Mourinho added to DAZN: "I don't know the legal mechanisms in Italian football, but if we can appeal, then we must try. I have many doubts that anyone could say that was a deserved second yellow card. 

"If there's a way of appealing this card, then we must do that and allow him to play on Sunday."

Roma have now scored 22 goals in all competitions this season, a tally that is bettered by only Bayern Munich (38), Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund (both 23) among clubs in Europe's top five leagues.

Abraham has been responsible for three of those and, with his strike against Udinese, became the first English striker to score a home goal in Serie A since Jay Bothroyd against Ancona with Perugia back in May 2004.

The recent signing from Chelsea has made a massive impact since joining, having also chipped in with a couple of assists, and he is grateful to have been made to feel so welcome in his new surroundings.

"I knew there was a lot of pressure with me coming in, but I love the fans, the staff, they make me feel like family from the first day and I need to repay them," he told DAZN.

"I came here to win, I love to win, the boys look to me, I have to give them confidence, and hopefully we'll continue getting results."

The pressure on Ronald Koeman intensified after his 10-man Barcelona side were held to a dire 0-0 draw by Cadiz at Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla on Thursday.

Speculation about the Dutchman's future has been rife following a slow start to the LaLiga campaign that had seen Barca drop points to Athletic Bilbao and Granada in their opening four games, while also losing 3-0 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Things did not get much better for the Catalan giants in Andalusia as Cadiz comfortably kept them at bay, with their misery compounded midway through the second half when Frenkie de Jong saw red for two bookable offences.

Koeman was also dismissed in the closing seconds for his protests during a frantic finish.

A point did at least move Barcelona up to seventh – seven points behind leaders Real Madrid, who have played a game more – while Cadiz climbed to 14th.

While Barca did most of the pressing in the early stages, they did not have a shot on target until the 30th minute, Memphis Depay's weak effort comfortably saved by Jeremias Ledesma.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen pawed away Alvaro Negredo's audacious 25-yard effort immediately after half-time, while Depay miskicked with the goal at his mercy at the other end.

Ledesma pushed away Depay's drive from outside the penalty area, before Barca's hopes of getting a positive result were dealt a blow in the 65th minute when De Jong received a second yellow card for following through on Alfonso Espino after initially winning the ball. 

Salvi Sanchez squandered a glorious opportunity inside the final 10 minutes, firing against Ter Stegen after being played in by Espino, with the ball bouncing behind off Ruben Sobrino.

Depay then had an even better chance to steal all three points for the visitors deep into stoppage time, as the Netherlands international clipped narrowly wide after a marauding Gerard Pique carried Barca forward.

What does it mean? Koeman's time could be up

Speaking ahead of the match, Barca president Joan Laporta insisted Koeman's job did not depend on the outcome of the result, but he did warn that "if decisions have to be taken, we will take them".

That decision may well be nearing after another woeful display from a Barca side desperately short of ideas, pace and attacking threat. Their task was made harder by the dismissal of De Jong, though they scarcely looked like scoring when they had their full complement of players. 

Busquets quality still on show

While many at Barca are seemingly losing their heads, Sergio Busquets continues to be a reliably serene presence at the base of the midfield. The Spain international made more successful passes (77) than any player on the pitch, while he gained possession eight times – a total not bettered by any Barca player.

Demir fails to shine

Yusuf Demir struggled on just his second start for Barca. It was little surprise to see the 18-year-old brought off at half-time after an opening 45 minutes that did not herald a single shot or key pass.

What's next?

Both sides are in action again on Sunday, with Barca hosting Levante at what could be a hostile Camp Nou and Cadiz travelling to Rayo Vallecano.

The pressure on Ronald Koeman intensified after his 10-man Barcelona side were held to a dire 0-0 draw by Cadiz at Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla on Thursday.

Speculation about the Dutchman's future has been rife following a slow start to the LaLiga campaign that had seen Barca drop points to Athletic Bilbao and Granada in their opening four games, while also losing 3-0 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Things did not get much better for the Catalan giants in Andalusia as Cadiz comfortably kept them at bay, with their misery compounded midway through the second half when Frenkie de Jong saw red for two bookable offences.

A point did at least move Barcelona up to seventh – seven points behind leaders Real Madrid, who have played a game more – while Cadiz climbed to 14th.

While Barca did most of the pressing in the early stages, they did not have a shot on target until the 30th minute, Memphis Depay's weak effort comfortably saved by Jeremias Ledesma.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen pawed away Alvaro Negredo's audacious 25-yard effort immediately after half-time, while Depay miskicked with the goal at his mercy at the other end.

Ledesma pushed away Depay's drive from outside the penalty area, before Barca's hopes of getting a positive result were dealt a blow in the 65th minute when De Jong received a second yellow card for following through on Alfonso Espino after initially winning the ball. 

Salvi Sanchez squandered a glorious opportunity inside the final 10 minutes, firing against Ter Stegen after being played in by Espino, with the ball bouncing behind off Ruben Sobrino.

Depay then had an even better chance to steal all three points for the visitors deep into stoppage time, as the Netherlands international clipped narrowly wide after a marauding Gerard Pique carried Barca forward.

Arsene Wenger is "ready to take that gamble" by attempting to push through plans for the World Cup to be staged every two years.

Wenger, now FIFA's chief of global football development, is the figurehead of a move to transform the game's calendar, with the Frenchman seeking influential support but also encountering serious opposition to the project.

The legendary Arsenal manager has proposed the World Cup is held every two years and that there are fewer international breaks throughout the year.

While FIFA claims the majority of supporters favour holding the tournament more frequently, the plans have been strongly criticised by other governing bodies.

CONMEBOL, which represents South American federations, argued a change "could distort the most important football competition on the planet".

European football governing body UEFA, meanwhile, fears players burning out – among a range of other negative factors – should the proposals get the go ahead.

However, Wenger is not backing down and believes his suggestion will only improve the sport in the long term.

"The risk is to make football better, and I'm ready to take that gamble," he told BBC Sport.

"The international match calendar is fixed until 2024. Until then, nothing can change. I've been guided by a few ideas to propose a plan to reshape the international calendar.

"The first one is to make football better all over the world. The second one is to have a more modern way and more simple way to organise the calendar. 

"Therefore, I want to reduce the number of qualifiers and to regroup the qualifying periods."

 

Wenger, who left Arsenal in 2018 after 22 years at the club, insisted he would have backed the plans even had he still been a club manager.

"I'd agree with what I propose because I think for the club it's much better," he said. "There's no interference during the season. I suffered a lot from interference during the season.

"It's not about me, it is about the proposal to make football better, clearer, more simple and more meaningful to the world.

"I am convinced that the clubs gain in it because they can focus completely, they have their players available for the whole season and the national teams benefit from it as well.

"There's no increase of number of games, there's a better rest period, less travelling and more quality competition. That's why I think this project is really defendable.

"Yesterday I was in a very long meeting with [players union] FIFPRO, we consult everybody. We are conscious that we need to talk to everybody. 

"I think I've convinced FIFPRO that in my programme the players were my first worry."

Wenger also rejected the argument that the World Cup will be devalued by being held every two years.

"The World Cup's such a huge event that I don't think it will diminish the prestige," he said. "You want to be the best in the world, and you want to be the best in the world every year.

"I'm not on an ego trip. I've been asked to help to shape the calendar of tomorrow, I consult the whole world."

Barcelona have reached an agreement with Turkish club Kayserispor to sign attacking midfielder Emre Demir on a five-year deal running to 2027.

The Catalan giants will pay an initial €2million for the 17-year-old and have set his buyout clause at €400m.

Demir will remain with Super Lig side Kayserispor for the remainder of 2021-22 before linking up with Barcelona B from the start of next season.

He has already featured 31 times at senior level and made history in November 2019 when becoming the youngest scorer in the Turkish top flight at 15 years, nine months and 25 days old.

The youngster, who previously had a trial at Barca's La Masia academy in 2017, will become the third Turkish player to sign for the Catalans after Rustu Recber and Arda Turan.

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