Barcelona will face Boca Juniors in an exhibition match Saudi Arabia in December in honour of Diego Maradona.

The inaugural Maradona Cup will take place at Mrsool Park in Riyadh on December 14, a little over a year after the former Argentina star died in his homeland at the age of 60 from heart failure a fortnight after undergoing brain surgery.

Maradona played for Boca in 1981-82 before moving to Europe with Barca, where he won the Copa del Rey, the Copa de la Liga and the Supercopa de Espana.

He returned to Boca for the final two years of his career before retiring in 1997.

The match will take place in the week after Barca face Bayern Munich away in their final Champions League group game, with a LaLiga game at Osasuna scheduled for December 11.

Ronald Koeman's side will be due back in Saudi Arabia in January 2022 for the Supercopa de Espana along with Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao.

Barca and Boca have met 10 times previously, most recently in the Joan Gamper exhibition game in 2018, which the Catalans won 3-0.

Cristiano Ronaldo "is a player who really needs to play" insisted Portugal head coach Fernando Santos, who appeared to criticise Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Ronaldo scored for the ninth time in seven Portugal appearances as the Selecao eased past Qatar 3-0 in Saturday's international friendly.

The all-time leading men's international scorer with 112, Ronaldo started and played 45 minutes after he was benched by United boss Solskjaer in the Premier League last week.

Ronaldo – who has scored against a record 46 nations for Portugal – was rested as Solskjaer opted to start Edinson Cavani before introducing the Portuguese superstar for the final 33 minutes in a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Everton.

After Portugal's routine win, Santos seemingly aimed a subtle dig at Solskjaer in Ronaldo's historic 181st international appearance.

"It was important to give him some playing time and I understood that it would be better to give him 45 minutes," Santos said post-match.

"Ronaldo is a player who really needs to play, to have contact with the ball. Training is not the same thing. In the last match, he had played 20 minutes [it was 33 minutes]."

Ronaldo has hit the ground running in his second stint with United, the 36-year-old having returned from Juventus before the end of the transfer window.

Named September's Player of the Month in the Premier League, Ronaldo has scored five goals for United, including three in the Premier League.

Ronaldo has outperformed his expected goals (xG – 1.03), expected goals on target (xGOT – 0.9) and goals (0.89) – all three topping the Premier League list.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored for the ninth time in seven Portugal appearances as the Selecao cruised to a straightforward 3-0 friendly win over Qatar on Saturday.

With Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup in 13 months' time, this was another opportunity for them to test themselves against higher-quality opposition, but they were outclassed by a Portugal side who hardly got out of second gear.

Ronaldo capitalised on a defensive error to put Portugal 1-0 in front late in the first half, with the hosts having created numerous chances beforehand.

Jose Fonte's first ever international goal and an Andre Silva header then sealed the win for Portugal in the second period, with Qatar – who could only muster a 1-1 draw with Luxembourg last time out – offering no threat to Diogo Costa in the home side's net.

Portugal peppered the Qatar goal in the first half but were initially rather wasteful.

Silva smashed an effort into the face of Saad Al Sheeb when one-on-one in the 12th minute, though the goalkeeper knew a little more about his save soon after to deny Goncalo Guedes at the end of a bursting solo run.

Ronaldo was then guilty of slicing wide from 10 yards after reaching Diogo Dalot's cross, but he was on hand to tap in when a defender failed to clear a header across goal from his Manchester United team-mate.

Al Sheeb was drawn into a necessary save to keep out Danilo Pereira's header two minutes after the interval, but he parried the ball right to Fonte, who slammed in from close range.

A host of substitutions saw Portugal's tempo drop even further – not that it mattered. They still looked infinitely more dangerous as Silva continued to keep the Qatar defence and goalkeeper busy.

The forward did eventually find the net, meeting a wonderful cross from debutant substitute Rafael Leao – who had previous hit the crossbar and post – with a stooping header that wrapped up a simple victory.

What does it mean? Fernando Santos learns precious little

The objective of this friendly from Portugal's perspective was presumably just to keep players sharp ahead of next week's competitive action. Other than that, it is difficult to see what benefit this game was to the Selecao.

The gulf in quality was massive, far greater than the scoreline ultimately suggested, which probably is not a particularly encouraging thought for a Qatar side who will be keen not to be embarrassed as World Cup hosts next year.

Dalot stakes his claim

While the quality of the opposition may not have been great, Dalot certainly did his chances of earning a regular spot no harm with his performance on either flank. His five chances created were not bettered by anyone on the pitch, while he also played the pass that led to Ronaldo's opener.

Silva gets reward for persistence

Silva's overall display was good, with the RB Leipzig striker a regular threat to the Qatar goal, though he was quite wasteful. He had six shots – only two of which were on target – before eventually finding the net with his seventh.

What's next?

Portugal return to World Cup qualification on Tuesday as they host Luxembourg.

Ibrahima Konate was left lost for words after making his first Anfield appearance for Liverpool in Monday's pre-season win over Osasuna.

The centre-back, signed for a fee in the region of £36million (€42.5m) from RB Leipzig, started the 3-1 friendly victory and played 80 minutes in front of a crowd of around 40,000.

The 22-year-old now cannot wait to experience a competitive game on Merseyside, with the Reds' first home game of the 2021-22 season coming against Burnley on August 21.

"To be honest, I don't have the words to explain my feelings when I put my first foot on the pitch," he told Liverpool's website. "It's amazing and I'm very happy to have my first game at Anfield with fans.

"Today was amazing. I cannot imagine the stadium in the Premier League or Champions League."

Liverpool were comfortable winners against the LaLiga side, Roberto Firmino scoring twice after Takumi Minamino broke the deadlock with a deflected strike.

Jurgen Klopp's men are looking in good form ahead of their season opener away to Norwich City on Saturday.

"I think we did a very good game together and this is the most important [thing]. I am happy about my performance," said Konate.

"It was the last friendly game, the last game of the pre-season – now the Premier League will start [on] Saturday and I am very excited for this moment.

"We were together for four weeks [in pre-season]; it was a little bit hard because we were in the hotel, but it was very good because we had a very good atmosphere with the team.

"Now I hope we are ready for the Premier League and the season."

Liverpool defender Andy Robertson has confirmed he suffered ankle ligament damage in the 1-1 pre-season friendly draw with Athletic Bilbao.

The Scotland international limped off after attempting to block a cross and was replaced at half-time by Owen Beck.

Manager Jurgen Klopp said further tests were required to determine the level of damage, casting doubt on Robertson's availability for Liverpool's opening game of the Premier League season away to Norwich City on August 14.

Ahead of Monday's friendly with Osasuna, the Reds' final warm-up game before the 2021-22 season, Robertson said via Twitter that he expected to be sidelined for a time.

"Thanks to everyone for the kind messages and support," he wrote. "Scan suggests nothing too major but there's some ligament damage which will need to mend.

"I will be grafting every day so I can help the team again sooner rather than later. Good luck to the boys playing tonight."

Jurgen Klopp could still add to his squad before the transfer window closes but insists Liverpool benefit from some advantages that money simply cannot buy.

The Reds have added Ibrahima Konate during the offseason, the centre-back joining from RB Leipzig to provide further competition at a position decimated by injuries last term.

There has been speculation Liverpool could look to add a midfielder, too – Florian Neuhaus and Saul Niguez are two names to be linked – while there are rumours of potential departures to reduce numbers.

However, other top-flight clubs have been busy, too. Both Manchester City and Manchester United have completed big-name signings, while Chelsea are reportedly close to completing a deal to get Romelu Lukaku from Inter.

Klopp made clear after the 1-1 pre-season friendly draw with Athletic Bilbao on Sunday that further arrivals could be possible at Anfield, albeit the club has intangibles that can help them compete with their rivals.

"I'm very happy with the squad," Klopp said.

"That doesn't mean we don't look at the market. But as long as nothing happens, I'm more than happy with the squad I have, more than happy with the players I have.

"We have so many things which you can't sign: you cannot sign pressing, you cannot sign counter-pressing, you cannot sign atmosphere, you cannot sign togetherness, you can't sign the atmosphere we can create in the stadium, you can't sign Anfield, you can't sign our anthem, you can't sign a lot of things. And that's what we have to use, obviously.

"There are different approaches obviously out there and we have no influence on that. Our situation is like it is.

"We have a big squad and there might still be something happen until the end of the transfer window, but I can't say anything about that in the moment."

Klopp may have found an added dimension to his midfield from within: Harvey Elliott has done well in a central role during pre-season, the teenager taking his chance to impress after a hugely successful spell out on loan at Championship club Blackburn Rovers.

For the Liverpool boss, flexibility is key as he aims to get them challenging for the championship again.

On the possible role for Elliott, Klopp told the club's official website: "He can play different positions, there's absolutely no doubt about it.

"But in the pre-season, we wanted to see him just in a deeper role because for a young player you have to learn a lot of things when you are a bit more outside and you get the ball from time to time.

"We wanted to have him more involved. And I think he made a big step in this pre-season. If Harvey stays fit, then the football world can be really excited about that."

Liverpool's final friendly fixture sees them take on Osasuna at Anfield on Monday.

Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson will have scans on an ankle injury described by manager Jurgen Klopp as "pretty painful".

Robertson was hurt during Sunday's 1-1 friendly draw between the Reds and Athletic Bilbao at Anfield.

The Scotland international limped off after attempting to block a cross and was replaced at half-time by Owen Beck.

Klopp said further tests are required to determine the level of damage, casting doubt on Robertson's availability for Liverpool's opening game of the Premier League season away to Norwich City on August 14.

"We obviously don't know in the moment how serious it is," Klopp said. 

"It was pretty painful and that's why Andy went off. You probably saw it on the TV pictures better than we did, but he got the ball, the ball on the front of his foot, [and] twisted the ankle.

"The pain settled already, but we cannot say anything further without further assessment tomorrow [Monday]. He has to get a scan and then we will know more."

Diogo Jota scored Liverpool's opener on Sunday before Alex Berenguer levelled early in the second half in front of a crowd of close to 40,000.

There was a warm reception from the home fans for Virgil van Dijk, who played 72 minutes on home turf for the first time in over 10 months, having missed the majority of last season with a knee injury.

Liverpool face Osasuna on Monday in their final pre-season friendly before the 2021-22 season gets underway.

Gareth Bale was denied from the penalty spot as Real Madrid rounded off their pre-season preparations with a goalless draw against Milan in Austria.

Handed a start by the returning ex-Rossoneri coach Carlo Ancelotti, Bale was making his first appearance for Madrid in over a year after spending last season on loan at Tottenham.

But the Wales international could not mark the occasion with a goal, Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan guessing correctly to save his 41st-minute penalty at the Worthersee Stadion.

Maignan, who arrived from Ligue 1 champions Lille last month, is expected to start the season as Milan number one following Gianluigi Donnarumma's departure for Paris Saint-Germain.

The France international would have certainly impressed Stefano Pioli with his smart saves to deny Bale and David Alaba from distance.

He then went the right way to keep out Bale from 12 yards when the forward was brought down by Davide Calabria after a surging run into the box.

The breakthrough continued to elude both sides after the break, Luka Modric going close as he rattled the crossbar from 25 yards, while Brahim Diaz stung Andriy Lunin's palms at the other end.

Madrid launch their LaLiga season away at Deportivo Alaves on August 14, the same day that Milan complete their preparations for the forthcoming Serie A campaign against Panathinaikos.

Son Heung-min scored the only goal as Tottenham rounded off an unbeaten pre-season by edging out rivals Arsenal 1-0 in the final game of the Mind Series on Sunday.

A tight affair was settled in the 79th minute at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with Son receiving Japhet Tanganga's square pass in the box before firing past Bernd Leno.

Three wins and two draws from their five pre-season games means Nuno Espirito Santo's side head into the Premier League campaign, which begins against reigning champions Manchester City on August 15, unbeaten.

Despite Spurs' victory here moving them level on points with Chelsea, the Blues win the mini-tournament having scored the greater number of goals in their two matches.

Chances were few and far between for the most part. Leno denied Son from point-blank range, while Alexandre Lacazette hit the post from the edge of the box.

Though it was technically a friendly, the competitive nature of the fixture was evident with a crunching Dele Alli tackle on Nicolas Pepe earning a yellow card.

Alli twice went close to breaking the deadlock; the England international hitting the post either side of half-time.

The game appeared to be heading for a stalemate but Son – a scorer in two of the three most recent competitive encounters between the sides – snatched the victory for Spurs 11 minutes from time with his third goal of pre-season.

Mikel Arteta's Arsenal, who launch their Premier League season away at Brentford on August 13, had a chance to equalise late on, but Pierluigi Gollini denied Bukayo Saka from close range.

Bruno Fernandes' sublime free-kick was the highlight of Manchester United's rout against Everton, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side rounded off their pre-season with a 4-0 victory.

Fernandes curled in a sensational effort from 25 yards out to put United three ahead in the 29th minute of Saturday's friendly at Old Trafford.

A large crowd was treated to a superb first-half display from United, albeit Rafael Benitez evidently has work to do heading into his first season as Everton boss.

Jordan Pickford, making his first appearance of pre-season after helping England to the Euro 2020 final, was partly at fault for United's eighth-minute opener – Lucas Digne's header catching Everton's goalkeeper cold, with Mason Greenwood on hand to pick up the scraps.

Pickford was beaten again seven minutes later, another returning England international Harry Maguire powering home a brilliant header home from Luke Shaw's corner. 

With Fernandes having compounded Everton's misery, Solskjaer was able to make plenty of changes in the second half as he prepares for a tough start to the Premier League campaign against Leeds United.

It was one of those substitutions – Diogo Dalot – who capped things off with the final action of the game, his header looping in over Asmir Begovic. 

Andros Townsend hit the crossbar and Demarai Gray missed a golden chance as Everton toiled before Dalot's header.

There was no United debut for Jadon Sancho, while Raphael Varane's move from Real Madrid is still being finalised. 

The Toffees face Southampton in ex-Liverpool manager Benitez's first competitive game in charge.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says Granit Xhaka will not be leaving the club in the transfer window.

The Switzerland international has been heavily linked with a move to Jose Mourinho's Roma, although the Gunners have reportedly offered him a new contract to convince him to stay.

Xhaka scored in Arsenal's 2-1 friendly loss to Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on Sunday after coming on to replace Thomas Partey, who appeared to injure his ankle in the first half.

With the former Atletico Madrid man set for scans, Arteta appears doubly determined to keep Xhaka in his squad.

"We just had a talk with the doctor and he'll have a scan tomorrow. At the moment, it's not looking good because he was in pain," Arteta said of Partey.

He then added on Xhaka: "Granit is going to stay with us. He's a key member of our squad and he wanted to play today - I think it's a very clear commitment from his side that he wants to be here."

Xhaka's goal cancelled out a good opener from Kai Havertz, but Tammy Abraham secured the win for European champions Chelsea after an error in possession by Hector Bellerin.

Despite the result, Arteta was pleased with elements of his side's display in front of an excitable crowd in north London.

"It was a great atmosphere, the fans were right behind the team. It was a great test for us," he said.

"I think we showed some really positive stuff and some worrying stuff when we gave the ball away in difficult positions."

Jurgen Klopp says Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez will be involved for Liverpool when they play Bologna on Thursday.

The Reds step up their preparations for the forthcoming Premier League season with two 60-minutes matches against the Serie A side.

The central defensive duo made their long-awaited returns from injury against Hertha Berlin last time out, playing the final 21 minutes of the 4-3 defeat.

Van Dijk had not played since suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Everton in October 2020, while Gomez played his first minutes since damaging a tendon in his left knee while on international duty with England the following month.

Klopp is pleased with the progress the pair are making and is confident they can get more minutes under their belts against Bologna.

"Hopefully, yes. That's how it looks in the moment," he told the official club website. "I want to make it really clear, we push nothing. 

"We know exactly how they feel – how they really feel and not what they tell us because they obviously are desperate to play again. 

"It looks good, this morning [it was a] normal training session. Sometimes in moments, we swap Virgil and Joe a little bit so maybe the intensity doesn't get too high, but in general it looks really good. 

"How many minutes on Thursday, I don't know but there will be some minutes for sure."

Klopp may also have Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino available for selection.

All three have returned from their extended break after helping Brazil reach the Copa America final, which they lost 1-0 to Argentina.

With Liverpool launching their Premier League campaign away at Norwich City on August 14, Klopp admits the returning trio's preparation time is far from ideal.

Nevertheless, the German said they could feature against Sinisa Mihajlovic's side, who finished 12th in Serie A last term.

"The players who play international football never have enough time; that was always like this," he added.

"You never have enough time to train and stuff like this – a week, two weeks before the season.

"[The Brazilian players] will start tomorrow with training properly with us.

"Maybe on Thursday in our two 60-minute games against Bologna, we can involve them already. I don't know yet – maybe 15, 20, 30 minutes. We have to see how they look exactly."

Chelsea enjoyed a positive pre-season outing as they beat London rivals Arsenal 2-1 at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Thomas Tuchel's side took a deserved lead into half-time thanks to a fine finish from Kai Havertz, who had scored the winner in the Champions League final in May.

Havertz clipped a clever shot high beyond Bernd Leno after being played into space by Timo Werner, who missed a good chance for a second three minutes later.

The Gunners, who brought on new signing Ben White at half-time, drew level 69 minutes in when Granit Xhaka headed in Nicolas Pepe's cross.

However, Chelsea's lead was restored within four minutes as Tammy Abraham slotted a precise finish beneath Leno following a mistake by Hector Bellerin.

Arsenal should have been given an equaliser when Joe Willock crashed a shot off the crossbar and the ball appeared to bounce over the line, but with goal-line technology not in use, it was not awarded.

Mikel Arteta will also be concerned to see midfielder Thomas Partey forced to go off with what appeared to be an ankle injury in the first half.

Chelsea will now face Tottenham on Wednesday before Arsenal take on their north London neighbours on August 8.

Julian Nagelsmann is confident Leon Goretzka can be persuaded to sign a new contract with Bayern Munich and has suggested fellow midfielder Corentin Tolisso still has a future at the club.

Goretzka has less than a year to run on his existing deal with the German champions and has been touted as a possible target for Manchester United and Real Madrid.

The 26-year-old scored five goals and provided the same number of assists in 24 Bundesliga games last season, while also playing a direct part in four Champions League goals.

Recently-appointed boss Nagelsmann has already stressed he is eager to keep Goretzka at the Allianz Arena, but contract talks with the midfielder are out of his hands.

"I'm not involved enough that I have a say every day. I stay out of these issues," Nagelsmann said. "Of course I have talked to him about my plans for him.

"I've told him I'd be happy if he extended and I'm also confident. There are several topics involved when it comes to discussing a contract extension.

"I'll continue to focus on the sports side of things and show him he can be one of the most dangerous midfielders in Europe. He has potential to get even better."

 

Goretzka is not alone in being linked with a move away from Bavaria, with France international midfielder Tolisso reportedly seeking a fresh start.

But Nagelsmann has left the door open for Tolisso, who will become a free agent next year, to prove himself this season on the back of a disappointing 2020-21 campaign.

"He is currently in isolation in France. I'm looking forward to when he returns and trains with the team," Nagelsmann said. 

"His contract situation is known to everyone. I assume that when he's healthy again, he'll be part of this team."

Nagelsmann was speaking on the back of Bayern's 3-0 friendly defeat to Napoli, making it three losses and one draw in his first four games in charge.

He has had to make do without a number of players that have been away on international duty, though big-hitters Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry and Goretzka returned on Saturday.

The former RB Leipzig boss is not concerned about results so far, however, and has hinted Bayern could yet strengthen before the transfer window closes.

"I said before that I'm taking over a well-functioning team," Nagelsmann added. "But I haven't had the full team yet. 

"On Monday we will be complete when others return, and then it's about finding the rhythm in training"

"I'm not worried about these scores. I think the first half today was good. We had control and played well, but we didn't manage to create a lot of chances in the final third. 

"The goals we conceded were annoying, but that can't really be a reference because we made a lot of changes

"Our task as a club is to always observe the market. We have a good squad, but we can always improve it. Every coach in the world wants the best possible team."

Kingsley Coman sustained a bruised rib in the loss to Napoli, but Nagelsmann confirmed at his post-match news conference that he does not expect the Frenchman to be out for long.

Memphis Depay claimed he will thrive on the expectancy at Barcelona after scoring his first goal for the club in a friendly match.

The Netherlands forward converted an 85th-minute penalty as Barca clinched a 3-1 win over Girona at Johan Cruyff Stadium on Saturday.

Depay joined the Blaugrana on a free transfer earlier this month after his contract expired with Ligue 1 club Lyon.

"I know they expect a lot from me," Depay told a post-match media conference.

"I'm very happy to have played with this shirt. I enjoyed the fans in the stadium, they were very enthusiastic throughout the match and they have shown a lot of energy. 

"I work hard to provide incredible moments for Barca fans. 

"When we play in the stadium it will be incredible too. The fans will give us energy."

Depay netted 76 goals in 178 appearances for Lyon where he enjoyed an impressive final season in Ligue 1 with 20 goals, trailing only Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe (27 goals).

The 27-year-old's 12 assists and 94 chances created were more than any other player managed in France's top flight in 2020-21.

In all competitions, meanwhile, Depay scored 22 goals last term at an average of one goal every 141.5 minutes, making it his second-best season since arriving.

He massively exceeded his expected goals (xG) total of 12.38.

"He is a high-quality player," Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman said of Depay after the win over Girona.

"He has shown it in certain moments of the game. It is important because you have to have competition in the positions at the top.

"Some players may have more minutes than others in pre-season. The internationals, not yet. Little by little we will give more. We will try to be prepared for the first league game."

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