Philippe Coutinho hopes Xavi can achieve success with the existing group of players at Barcelona. 

Xavi was presented as Barca's new head coach on Monday, returning to the club that formed him as a player and with whom we won 25 trophies during an illustrious 17 years.

The former midfielder is the permanent successor to Ronald Koeman, who was sacked following the 1-0 defeat at Rayo Vallecano on October 27. 

Sergi Barjuan stepped in for the interim and took charge of a win and two draws, the last of which saw Barca throw away a three-goal lead to draw 3-3 with Celta Vigo. They now sit ninth in LaLiga after 12 games, 11 points adrift of leaders Real Sociedad. 

However, Coutinho believes Xavi could well be the man to turn things around at Barca following the exits of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann. 

"Xavi was a great player, an idol, and now he's back home at Barcelona," he told a news conference while on international duty with Brazil. "I hope he can be very successful with the group we have. 

"I was able to talk to him once when I had to visit some doctors in Qatar. I know what a great guy he is. He will definitely do a great job at Barcelona." 

Coutinho, who returned from nine months out with a knee injury in September, was accused by Catalan newspaper Sport of being lazy when warming-up on the sidelines against Celta. 

He denied that was the case and insisted he is keener than ever to put in work as he prepares to make his first Brazil appearance in over a year. 

"I was kind of surprised when I got home and saw the story. I've never lacked professionalism in my life. I've always respected everyone I work with. But it's okay. I respect the opinion of you journalists," he said. 

"On my selection [by Brazil], I'm very happy and really want to be here. I'm focused on working, to achieve things through working, in the 10 days I have here." 

He added: "I feel very good. It's obvious that being injured for nine months is not easy, returning from three surgeries in a row on the same knee. 

"But since I came back I haven't had any pain or discomfort. I feel good." 

Pep Guardiola has tipped Xavi to be a managerial success at Barcelona in his own right as he distanced himself from comparisons with his former colleague.

Xavi was paraded at Camp Nou in front of around 10,000 supporters on Monday as he was officially presented as Ronald Koeman's permanent successor.

He is back at the club where he spent 17 seasons during his playing career, racking up 767 appearances across that period – a tally only surpassed by Lionel Messi (778).

The 41-year-old won LaLiga eight times and the Champions League on four occasions before ending his 24-year association with the Catalan giants in 2015.

Six years on, and with two and a half years of coaching experience under his belt at Qatari side Al Sadd, Xavi is back in Catalonia and tasked with turning the tide at struggling Barca.

Xavi thrived under the management of former team-mate Guardiola, whom he described as the best coach in the world during his unveiling on Monday.

But Guardiola, who was among those present at Camp Nou for the presentation, does not want Xavi to be tied down by any comparisons to the club's successful past.

"I wasn't the heir to anybody and Xavi doesn't have to be my heir," Guardiola said. "If Joan Laporta has chosen Xavi then it's because there are millions of pros and few cons.

"He knows the club and will bring positive energy, given how he enjoys football and because of his dedication. He always sees the positive side of things."

"With his class, dedication and effort, I'm sure he'll improve the club's situation."

Guardiola won 14 trophies during an era-defining spell in charge of Barcelona – his first in senior management – before achieving success at Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Speaking earlier on Monday, when asked about the similarities between himself and Guardiola, Xavi said: "He was a reference for me as a player and a manager. 

"I think he's the best manager in the world. If people want to compare me with him, that's a positive."

Italy boss Roberto Mancini has called up Atalanta's Matteo Pessina and Lazio midfielder Danilo Cataldi to his latest squad after losing Roma duo Lorenzo Pellegrini and Nicolo Zaniolo to injury.

The European champions face Switzerland and Northern Ireland in their final two qualifiers for the Qatar 2022 World Cup and currently sit top of Group C on goal difference, level on 14 points with the Swiss ahead of their crucial encounter in Rome on Friday.

Mancini, who is already without Marco Verratti due to a hip injury, confirmed earlier on Monday at a media conference that Pellegrini (knee) and Zaniolo (calf) will return to their club.

"Zaniolo was a bit unlucky because he suffered two serious injuries. He is young and he has the qualities to get over it," he said.

"It could have been an important game for him, but he has a problem and we can't take any risk. I don't think he needs my advice, he has the quality and he can improve in everything.

"We will surely replace them [Pellegrini and Zaniolo] because we also need to assess [Nicolo] Barella. We didn't call Pessina because he is not ready."

Despite this, Mancini ultimately did decide to turn to Pessina, as well as Cataldi, who receives his first senior call-up since 2017 after a solid start to the season at Lazio.

The former Manchester City manager did have better news about his defence, with Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci appearing to be fit to play despite missing Juventus' 1-0 win against Fiorentina at the weekend.

"They feel well, we have a training session today. We'll see how everyone feels." 

Can Cataldi step up for the Azzurri?

While Mancini is suffering from something of a midfield crisis, having players with the quality of Pessina and Cataldi to call on is not a bad problem to have.

It may be the first call-up for Cataldi in over four years, but he has achieved it off the back of some eye-catching performances at club level for Maurizio Sarri's men.

When measured against Pellegrini, whose role he will fill, Cataldi leads the way in pass success percentage (91.2), albeit the 27-year-old has only started four of his 10 league appearances, while the Roma captain has started 11.

Cataldi also has a superior pass completion rate in the opposition half, with 84.7 per cent compared to Pellegrini's 79.7, so his numbers do not appear to be indicative of him only playing easy passes.

Whether Cataldi gets an opportunity to win only his second cap remains to be seen, but he has clearly caught the eye of Mancini at least.

New Barcelona head coach Xavi says it is important the club no longer dwell on Lionel Messi's exit as they have others who can step up and fill the superstar forward's void.

Barca have got off to a poor start in their first season without Messi since 2003-04, the Catalans having won just six of their 16 matches in all competitions.

Argentina international Messi scored 672 goals and assisted 265 more across his 778 appearances for the club, amounting to 937 goal involvements in total.

Messi averaged a goal every 110.3 minutes in all competitions in his final season with Barca (38 goals in 47 games) before joining Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.

 

That compares to a goal every 237.3 minutes for Barca's leading scorer Memphis Depay this term (six goals in 16 matches).

Ansu Fati inherited Messi's number 10 shirt and has averaged an encouraging one goal every 91.8 minutes in 2021-22, but that is across just eight matches and is set for another spell on the sidelines.

Only three others – Martin Braithwaite, Sergi Roberto and Gerard Pique (two each) – have scored multiple goals for Barca this season.

One of the big tasks on Xavi's hands after being officially presented as Ronald Koeman's successor on Monday is to get the most out of the attacking players available to him.

And while the Barca midfield legend would love to be able to call upon Messi and some other former team-mates, he is eager to look to the future rather than the past.

"I'd have liked to have managed Messi, of course, and also Samuel Eto'o, Ronaldinho... but they are not here," he said at a news conference.

"I still have a close friendship with Leo, that is well known. He has written to wish me luck. As always, he has joked around. He is a real joker.

"I wish him all the luck in the world. He is the best player in the history of football and obviously the history of this club, but we do not have him.

"We have other players that need to perform and be good in his place; players who can make a difference on the pitch. We cannot think about the players we do not have."

Messi's first three months at PSG have not entirely gone to plan either, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner having played in just eight of their 18 games due to niggling injuries.

He has had 15 shots without finding the net in Ligue 1, failing to score from an expected goals value of 1.9, with his only three goals to date coming in the Champions League.

Only Clermont Foot midfielder Jim Allevinah (16) and Troyes forward Renaud Ripart (19) have had more shots without scoring in the French top flight this term.

France boss Didier Deschamps insists he will continue to select players on merit and not in response to "buzz" ahead of his team's final two World Cup qualifiers.

The world champions sit top of Group D and will qualify for Qatar 2022 if they win either of their upcoming matches against Kazakhstan and Finland.

At a press conference ahead of the two games, Deschamps was asked why he has not yet selected Lens right-back Jonathan Clauss, despite the player making a "buzz" in Ligue 1 this season.

"A buzz? But who is making the buzz?" Deschamps asked with a smile. "I watch the matches, so a lot of players, including this Lens player, of course. Buzz or no buzz, that's not what will lead me to select a player or not.

"Of course, [Clauss] is one of the players we follow. With the characteristics that are his, after it is also a question of competition in the position. I know you're waiting for something new at every selection, but I'm not here for that."

It was put to Deschamps that perhaps the 29-year-old's age or lack of experience in the Champions League or Europa League had put the coach off selecting him.

"I have always incorporated new ones, and to draw a parallel to the age of the player, Jordan Veretout is more or less the same age," he said.

"He arrived late, he plays in Rome, in European competition of course, but that does not prevent [Clauss from being picked. [It's the same for] those of 18 years, I select [them] when I think it is the [right] moment. The 'buzz' is closed."

Does Clauss deserve a place with Les Bleus?

Deschamps has named a 23-man squad for the upcoming games, including Bayern Munich's Benjamin Pavard and Lyon's Leo Dubois, both of whom can play in Clauss’s usual position of right back.

The manager has decided to stick with what he knows for now, given the importance of getting over the line in World Cup qualifying, but is Clauss’s form at Lens more than just "buzz"?

It is difficult to compare him to Pavard as the Bayern defender only returned to action in September after an ankle injury and has only played nine games, less than half of which were in the Bundesliga.

If Clauss is going to force his way into the France squad, a likelier route may be to do so at the expense of his fellow Ligue 1 competitor, Dubois.

The obvious reason for the public clamour for Clauss is his two goals and six assists from 13 league games this season – three of those (one goal, two assists) came in his team's 4-0 thrashing of Troyes on Friday, whereas Dubois is yet to register his first goal involvement in 11 appearances.

 

However, it must be noted that Clauss primarily plays as a right wing-back, and sometimes even as a right midfielder for Lens, while Dubois predominantly plays as an orthodox full-back.

That goes someway to explaining how Clauss has created 28 chances, compared to just six from Dubois.

The Lyon man has the upper hand in terms of passing and defensive play, with superior percentages in passing accuracy (85.4 to 77.3), dribble success (58.3 to 47.1), duel success (60.6 to 56) and tackle success (60.7 to 50), though some of these may be down to Dubois operating in less-congested areas of the pitch.

Clauss comes out on top when it comes to interceptions though, making 27 so far, more than twice as many as Dubois (12).

Either way, Deschamps has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal, and it cannot be a massive surprise to see him stick with the players he knows well at the end of a qualifying campaign that has not always been comfortable.  

But if Clauss can maintain his high standards, he might just get the opportunity many feel he deserves next year when Deschamps turns his attention towards World Cup preparation friendlies.

It is all change in the England squad, with two players dropping out, and Emile Smith Rowe earning a first senior call up from Gareth Southgate.

Smith Rowe has been in excellent form for Arsenal this season, but was not initially included in Southgate's squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Albania and San Marino.

The midfielder, who was handed Arsenal's number 10 shirt for 2021-22, has appeared in every Premier League game for the Gunners this term.

His tally of 15 chances created ranks him second in Arsenal's squad, behind Bukayo Saka (19). He has provided two league assists and scored four goals, meaning he is the club's joint-top scorer in the top flight alongside captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

After initially arriving at St George's Park to be part of the England Under-21 squad, Smith Rowe will instead join the senior side after Marcus Rashford and James Ward-Prowse dropped out.

Rashford has only just returned from a long injury lay off following shoulder surgery, and will remain at Manchester United in order to work his way back to fitness, while Southampton's Ward-Prowse is ill.

Southgate might also be without regulars Luke Shaw and Mason Mount. The United full-back is following concussion protocol after sustaining a head injury in Saturday's derby defeat to Manchester City and will continue to be assessed by the club before being released for international duty. 

Mount, meanwhile, has had his arrival pushed back by dental surgery and will be monitored over the coming days.

England host Albania on Friday, before taking on San Marino three days later. Four points from the two matches will guarantee their place in Qatar.

New Barcelona head coach Xavi believes Ousmane Dembele can be the best player in the world in his position and has urged the club to prioritise a new deal for the winger.

Dembele has failed to justify his transfer fee, reported at the time to be worth up to €147m with add-ons, since joining Barca from Borussia Dortmund in August 2017.

He has made 119 appearances for Barca in total, starting 76 of those. To put that into context, 10 players, three of whom left ahead of the 2020-21 season in Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Nelson Semedo, have featured more in that time, with Sergio Busquets (209) leading the way.

The France international returned from a five-month lay-off in last week's win against Dynamo Kiev, only to sustain a hamstring injury in that game that will again keep him out.

Despite Dembele's persistent fitness issues, however, Xavi made clear at his Camp Nou unveiling on Monday that he wants Barca to keep hold of the 24-year-old.

"He can be the best footballer in the world in his position," Xavi said at a news conference. "He has spectacular abilities and a winning mentality. His renewal is a priority right now.

"We have to work with him and demand a lot. That will also depend on him, on his mentality. He will have to train well to prevent injuries."

 

Dembele has scored 30 goals and assisted 20 more for Barca, meaning he has been directly involved in 0.65 goals per 90 minutes.

That is an identical return to highly regarded Liverpool pair Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, among players from Europe's top five leagues since August 2017.

However, it does lag considerably behind the likes of fellow forwards Erling Haaland (1.39), Lionel Messi (1.29), Robert Lewandowski (1.27), Kylian Mbappe (1.24) and Neymar (1.14) – the man he replaced at Camp Nou.

Dembele's existing deal is set to expire at the end of the season and he can therefore discuss ​a free transfer with other clubs from January 1.

Barca have numerous other issues to contend with between now and then, not least in terms of potential targets ahead of Xavi's first transfer window at the helm.

Asked if he is hopeful cash-strapped Barca can bring in new recruits, Xavi said: "We are going to assess it with the club and we are going to decide. 

"It is soon, but we are going to work to strengthen the team. It is always an opportunity. For me, it is clear that we must ensure all the players we have are clear about what they each have to do in every moment of a game."

Xavi's first game in charge of Barcelona, where he spent 17 seasons during his playing career, is against city rivals Espanyol on November 20.

Newcastle United have ended their search for a new head coach by appointing Eddie Howe on a two-and-a-half-year deal.

Graeme Jones had been in temporary charge of the Magpies since Steve Bruce departed by mutual consent following a takeover that saw Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund take an 80 per cent share in the club, becoming the richest owner in world football.

Brendan Rodgers, Paulo Fonseca, Lucien Favre and Roberto Martinez were linked with role before Villarreal coach Unai Emery snubbed the Premier League strugglers.

Instead, former Bournemouth manager Howe was on Monday confirmed as Bruce's successor after he watched on from the stands as Newcastle drew 1-1 at Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Howe has been out of work since leaving Bournemouth in August 2020 following their relegation to the Championship.

The 43-year-old worked wonders during two spells in charge of the Cherries, masterminding an astonishing rise from League Two to the top flight, and reportedly turned Celtic down before Ange Postecoglou took the hotseat with the Glasgow giants.

Across his time with Bournemouth and a stint in between at Burnley, Howe has overseen 545 career games as a coach, winning 228 of them.

In the Premier League, he won 56 of 190 matches, with his best season seeing Bournemouth earn 46 points and finish ninth in 2016-17.

Newcastle United have ended their search for a new head coach by appointing Eddie Howe on a two-and-a-half-year deal.

Graeme Jones had been in temporary charge of the Magpies since Steve Bruce departed by mutual consent following a takeover that saw Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund take an 80 per cent share in the club, becoming the richest owner in world football.

Brendan Rodgers, Paulo Fonseca, Lucien Favre and Roberto Martinez were linked with role before Villarreal coach Unai Emery snubbed the Premier League strugglers.

Instead, former Bournemouth manager Howe was on Monday confirmed as Bruce's successor after he watched on from the stands as Newcastle drew 1-1 at Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Howe has been out of work since leaving Bournemouth in August 2020 following their relegation to the Championship.

The 43-year-old worked wonders during two spells in charge of the Cherries, masterminding an astonishing rise from League Two to the top flight, and reportedly turned Celtic down before Ange Postecoglou took the hotseat with the Glasgow giants.

Across his time with Bournemouth and a stint in between at Burnley, Howe has overseen 545 career games as a coach, winning 228 of them.

In the Premier League, he won 56 of 190 matches, with his best season seeing Bournemouth earn 46 points and finish ninth in 2016-17.

Xavi intends to lean on advice from previous Barcelona coaching greats to help restore the club to its former glories, vowing: "We are Barca, we have to win". 

The 41-year-old was appointed as Ronald Koeman's successor on Saturday, returning to the club where he spent 17 seasons during his playing career.

Former Spain international Xavi has spent the past two and a half years in charge of Qatari club Al Sadd and is now tasked with transforming the fortunes of Barcelona.

The Catalan giants have won just six of their 16 matches in all competitions this season and are ninth in LaLiga, already 10 points adrift of bitter rivals Real Madrid.

Barca have won just one trophy, the Copa del Rey, in the past two seasons – a far cry from Xavi's time at the club when lifting 25 trophies in an illustrious Camp Nou spell.

Xavi played under eight permanent coaches at Barcelona, a list that includes Louis van Gaal, Frank Rijkaard, Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique.

The former Spain international is now the man in the hotseat – arguably the most high-profile job in football – and has a clear blueprint as to how he can turn things around.

"Many times I think about advice from the likes of Frank, Van Gaal, [Johann] Cruyff, Guardiola, Luis Enrique and my father," he said at a news conference on Monday.

"Guardiola in particular was a reference for me as a player and a manager. I think he's the best manager in the world.

"If people want to compare me with him, that's a positive. Of course I understand the pressure of this job. I understand this is the best club in the world.

"We have to demand everything from our players. There are high expectations but that's a good thing. We have to work hard to get back to winning trophies."

Xavi was speaking after being unveiled in front of around 10,000 spectators at Camp Nou – Guardiola among them – where he formally signed a two and a half year contract.

"I don't want to cry, but thank you very much to all the fans, to all the club, it's just amazing," Xavi said.

"I can say one thing, we are the best club in the world, and we are gonna work to try and win many titles. Barca cannot draw or lose, we have to win every single game.

"This a dream come true. I return with the maximum responsibility of being the coach of the first team. We must work and bring order. 

"The objective is to steady the ship of Barcelona, ​​to enjoy and win. Barca is my home and I really want to face this challenge. 

"It is a delicate moment in economic and sporting terms, but I am prepared, together with my staff."

Xavi will take charge of his first training session on Tuesday in preparation for Barca's next match, a derby showdown with Espanyol on November 20.

"I'll say it again: We have to demand the most of ourselves, knowing that we are Barca," Xavi added. "We cannot play to draw or lose – we have to win.

"We have to work hard, knowing we have a game with Espanyol coming up. We have to be able to compete against any opponent."

Xavi returns to Catalonia six years after departing for Al Sadd, where he saw out his playing career before making the move into coaching.

The World Cup winner turned down the chance to take charge of Barcelona on two previous occasions, which he put down to the timing being wrong.

"The first two times Barcelona came, it didn't feel right, both at a family level and personally. I needed more time," he said. 

"First it was in January and then the summer, with an election in between, and there was a lot of uncertainty, it was not the moment. 

"Then Joan called me. I have always said that he is the best president in the history of Barca. I know that he is a guy who is looking forward, and now was the time."

Lionel Messi linking up with the Argentina squad while not fully fit "does not make sense", according to Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo.

The 34-year-old has endured an injury-plagued start to his PSG career since arriving on a shock free transfer three months ago after leaving Barcelona.

After sitting out last week's draw with RB Leipzig and win over Bordeaux with knee and hamstring injuries, Messi has now featured in just eight of PSG's 18 matches this season.

Despite his niggling injury issues in recent months, Messi has been included in Argentina's squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Brazil over the next eight days.

PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino said on Friday he is happy for his compatriot to play for La Albiceleste as it will give him an opportunity to build up his fitness.

However, Leonardo is not pleased with Argentina's decision to call up the forward and has urged world football governing body FIFA to get involved. 

"We do not agree to release a player for national team selection who, for us, is not in physical condition or who is in the rehabilitation phase," he is quoted as saying by Le Parisien. 

"It does not make sense, and this type of situation is worthy of a ruling from FIFA."

 

Messi has played just 325 minutes of Ligue 1 action for PSG, compared to 450 minutes for Argentina across their qualifying fixtures in September and October, not including the suspended match with Brazil.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has registered three goals in his first eight appearances for the French giants but has yet to score or assist in the league.

He has had 15 shots without finding the net in Ligue 1, failing to score from an expected goals value of 1.9.

Only Clermont midfielder Jim Allevinah (16) and Troyes forward Renaud Ripart (19) have had more shots without scoring in the French top flight this term.

Indeed, Messi has netted more times for Argentina in 2021-22 than he has for PSG, with four goals in five appearances.

Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez has said that the country's "golden generation" of players should be appreciated more, even if they do not win a trophy.

Speaking ahead of the final round of European qualifiers for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, Martinez insisted that his Belgian side has proven how good they are by consistently being the number one ranked team by FIFA.

The Red Devils will seal qualification for Qatar if they beat Estonia at home on Saturday, or if Wales fail to beat Belarus in Cardiff on the same day.

Speaking to HLN, when asked about a lack of silverware, the former Wigan Athletic and Everton manager said: "This generation has changed Belgian football forever. They have twelve months until the next tournament. 

"I think we should be more attached to this generation. What this generation has given us is unique in Belgian football, and whatever happens, a generation with silverware or not, is not going to change what this generation has done.

"You will never find, or it will be very difficult to find, a generation with eight or nine players with over 100 caps that kept their number one ranking for such a long time, that have taken such a commitment to the national team.

"In the moment, they didn't need it. They could easily concentrate on their careers at club level, but the way that they want to develop the next generation, this generation goes a bit further than just wanting to have silverware.

"I think they teach us that we can challenge for silverware, we can challenge with the best national teams in the world, and that for me is more important because it will have an effect down the line.

"We need to enjoy it. This is a wonderful time for Belgian football. The consistency we had, we lost two games in the Nations League and were still number one in the world. Nobody gives you that status.

"It is because these players have been consistently winning in the last two years in a way that other national teams couldn't do.

"Of course, we cannot be happy with not winning, because that's not why you play football. You play football to try to win, but the reality is that the quality and commitment of this generation goes a bit further than winning silverware."

 

Questions have been raised in Belgium about Martinez being reluctant to bring in fresh faces, but the 48-year-old disagrees, believing that it makes sense to keep a consistent team together, while also defending his record of bringing new players in.

"My job is to try and create a team based on talented players who have been committed to the national team and who keep giving to the national team," he said.

"That's why we have eight players who have almost 100 caps, which is very rare. On the other side, we have had 24 debutants, which is a new squad completely.

"Of course, you can analyse it whichever way you want, but we have been really pleased with the balance. We don't have to change [for the sake of] change. 

"The opportunity of playing the Nations League, the European Championships and now the qualification for the World Cup all overlapping each other is giving us that smooth transition.

"It's a really good opportunity for the young players to show what they can do. It is not about the coach's decision. The generations can compete with each other, and football makes the decision.

"Any time there is an opportunity you need to show that you are ready as a youngster, and we have seen it. Jeremy Doku showed that he was ready and he started against Italy. This is not a specific coaching decision.

"This is a specific assessment of what happens in training, and we just promote that competition on the pitch.

"It is going to be a new opportunity for new faces, players who have been involved with us like Divock Origi, he hasn't played a lot at club level, he's got a good opportunity.

"We have a brand-new opportunity for a player like Dante Vanzeir, that he represents the great story of Union [SG]. You have the opportunity to see Charles De Ketelaere, confirming the good signs he showed against Italy.

"We are here to be a team, and I felt that every time we are here on the football pitch, we look like a group of players that have been together for a long time and that's the measurement that I always take into the teams."

Martinez also agreed with recent comments from Kevin De Bruyne that Belgium do not have the same depth as countries like France, adding “There are many aspects that makes our national team unique, and we always need to look at those.

"For example, we are a nation that represents 11 million people, that means that we cannot just select the players who are in good moments of form because we cannot afford to lose one talent.

"This golden generation has taken Belgium to a level that has never been seen before. To be over three years the number one team in the world, it shows we cannot treat our players as if we are going to have 100-200 at the same level that we can pick from.

"We have to work in a different way, go side-by-side with the talent through good moments, through difficult moments, and we cannot choose in that way, so it is the way that how we want to be successful is not the way that other national teams can do it, and that's the reality.

"The Nations League finals for us was the right place to be. We have to remember that, we were [part of] the best four national teams in Europe, and we had to beat Denmark and England to get there.

"I think that's something we need to appreciate. Okay, we lost a game against the world champions, and we were very very close, so it cannot be seen as a failure."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's future is in doubt as Manchester United continue to struggle.

United were outclassed effortlessly by neighbours Manchester City in Saturday's Premier League derby.

Struggling for form, Solskjaer could pay the price at Old Trafford.

 

TOP STORY – SOLSKJAER SET FOR AXE?

Manchester United are considering the departure of under-fire manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to the Daily Mail.

Manchester City eased past United 2-0 in the Premier League derby showdown at Old Trafford, where Solskjaer's side were left sixth and nine points off the pace.

There are reports of a player revolt as Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo grow frustrated with life in Manchester.

Zinedine Zidane and Ajax boss Erik ten Hag have been linked as possible replacements.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Real Madrid and Newcastle United are interested in Liverpool star Mohamed Salah. The Egypt international, who is contracted to Liverpool until 2023, is keen to sign a new deal at Anfield.

City are weighing up a move for Juventus and Netherlands centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, says El Nacional. De Ligt has also been linked with Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United.

Karim Benzema is open to joining Paris Saint-Germain should Madrid sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, per El Nacional. Benzema has reportedly snubbed a move to Newcastle, while Haaland has been linked with City, United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, PSG, Chelsea and Juve.

Gerard PiqueSergio BusquetsSergi Roberto and Jordi Alba will be allowed to leave Barca under new head coach Xavi, according to El Nacional. Fabrizio Romano adds Xavi will look to re-sign Pablo Gavi and Ousmane Dembele.

- Calciomercato claims Atletico Madrid are interested in Udinese's Nahuel Molina, who is also wanted by Inter.

The 2021 MLS Cup play-offs are set following a wild final round of the regular season which saw LA Galaxy dramatically eliminated from the post-season picture by Real Salt Lake.

Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez scored twice for the Galaxy in a 3-3 draw with Minnesota United on Decision Day, but RSL's last-gasp 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City changed the landscape of the Western Conference.

RSL pipped the Galaxy – without post-season football for the second straight campaign – to the seventh and final play-off spot on victories for the season via a 95th-minute winner, having finished level on 48 points at the end of 34 rounds.

Minnesota finished fifth to clinch a post-season berth in the west, along with sixth-placed Vancouver Whitecaps, who drew 1-1 against Seattle Sounders.

Seattle's stalemate and Sporting KC's late loss allowed Colorado Rapids to secure top seed in the Western Conference following a 5-2 rout of Los Angeles FC, who were eliminated as a result.

In the Eastern Conference, Orlando City beat Montreal 2-0 for a spot in the play-offs, along with Atlanta United (2-1 over FC Cincinnati) and New York Red Bulls – the latter using a 1-1 draw against Nashville to extend their post-season streak to 12 years.

Supporters' Shield winners New England Revolution lost 1-0 to already eliminated Inter Miami, Portland Timbers eased past lowly Austin 3-0, DC United defeated Toronto 3-1, 10-man New York City drew 1-1 with Philadelphia Union and reigning champions Columbus Crew – who will not defend their title – beat Chicago Fire 2-0.

Chris Wondolowski scored in the San Jose Earthquakes' 1-1 draw against Dallas before the league's all-time leading scorer announced his retirement.

Genoa appointed former Ukraine boss Andriy Shevchenko as their head coach, the Serie A strugglers announced on Sunday.

Shevchenko was available after stepping down following a five-year spell in charge of his native Ukraine, who reached the quarter-finals for the first time at Euro 2020.

Milan great Shevchenko – contracted until June 2024 – takes over a Genoa side only above the relegation zone on goal difference ahead of Sampdoria after 12 rounds after Davide Ballardini was sacked following a 2-2 draw with Empoli on Friday.

Shevchenko's first task will be a showdown with under-fire Jose Mourinho and his out-of-form Roma following the international break on November 21.

A 111-cap Ukraine international, Shevchenko won the Scudetto and Champions League during his initial seven-year stint at San Siro, where the 45-year-old scored 173 goals after arriving from Dynamo Kiev in 1999.

Shevchenko joined Premier League giants Chelsea in 2006 and was part of the team that won the FA Cup and EFL Cup in his debut campaign before returning to Milan on loan in 2008.

Appointed by Ukraine in 2016, Shevchenko finished with a 48.1 winning percentage having won 25 of his 52 international fixtures.

 

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