Edinson Cavani is set to miss Valencia's match against Real Sociedad on Sunday as he battles an ankle injury just two weeks out from the World Cup.

The Uruguay forward joined Valencia at the start of this season after his Manchester United contract expired and has scored four goals in seven LaLiga games.

However, the 35-year-old's hopes of having an impact at his fourth and likely final World Cup have been hit by a recurring ankle problem.

Valencia have tried to protect Cavani, who has completed 90 minutes only once this season.

But that full shift against Mallorca last month was followed by an early withdrawal against Barcelona, with the striker replaced after just 18 minutes.

Cavani missed training on Saturday, and Valencia coach Gennaro Gattuso accepted it was "difficult" to see how he could face La Real.

"He's not right," Gattuso said. "He has had problems in the ankle for a long time."

 

Cavani at least has a little time to get fit to feature for Uruguay, whose Qatar 2022 opener is not until November 24 against South Korea.

But Gattuso insisted the player's primary focus was featuring for Valencia, dismissing the idea he was sitting out only due to the spectre of the World Cup.

"I've played three World Cups, none of them in December," the coach said. "I've always been a little scared, but I didn't think about whether I was going to get injured.

"Cavani's problem is his ankle. He's playing with great responsibility, but it's something that he's carried for a long time."

Xavi believes Barcelona "played with anxiety" at Valencia but "never stopped believing" as Robert Lewandowski struck an injury-time winner at Mestalla.

A tight contest looked to be petering out to a goalless draw when Lewandowski got on the end of a Raphinha cross into the box to divert in a vital goal to bring a smile to Barca after an unhappy few days.

After being eliminated from the Champions League group stage for the second season running prior to losing 3-0 at home to Bayern Munich on Wednesday, the Blaugrana were searching for a morale-boosting win in Valencia.

Speaking after the game, head coach Xavi outlined how much the last week impacted his side's performance, saying: "It was a very important victory. Almost in the last second. We never stopped believing.

"We played with anxiety, the Champions League affected us. Wednesday weighed on us. We suffered. After three quarters [of the game] it became difficult. The decision-making was bad, the result of anxiety.

"We were better than Valencia and we deserved the victory. It wasn't an excellent game, we weren't inspired, but it's vital [the win]."

 

The 93rd-minute goal from Lewandowski was his 13th of the season, putting him six ahead of his nearest challengers – Real Betis' Borja Iglesias and Espanyol's Joselu (both on seven goals) – in the race for the Pichichi.

"The goal is of quality," Xavi said. "Robert is here to make a difference. I thought it might have been offside, because of the dynamics we had.

"But we have to improve. We have to make better decisions. It could have been a tie and it would be a drama, and it shouldn't be like that. We've improved a lot, we're on the way."

The win puts Barca top of LaLiga ahead of Real Madrid's game at home to Girona on Sunday, but Xavi still believes it is important to put pressure on their great rivals in the race for the title.

"It's very important for the team, we deserved it," he added. "We made an effort, we worked hard and the reward is important. We sleep as leaders, and we want to put pressure on Real Madrid."

Robert Lewandowski's stoppage-time goal earned Barcelona a morale-boosting 1-0 over Valencia at Mestalla on Saturday.

Both teams had efforts disallowed and also lost players to injury in a game that had otherwise been low on incidents.

That was until Lewandowski popped up to score a 93rd-minute winner, taking Barca back to the top of LaLiga – albeit Real Madrid do not face Girona until Sunday.

Valencia boss Gennaro Gattuso will be disappointed not to have taken something after an impressive defensive effort from his team, only to suffer late heartbreak.

It looked like Ansu Fati was set to give the visitors the lead in the 13th minute when he was played in on goal by Pedri, but Valencia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili raced out and saved the 19-year-old's effort with his face, while Fati did have the ball in the net 10 minutes later only to see it ruled out for offside.

It was a costly first half as both teams lost players to injury, with Los Che striker Edinson Cavani and Barca centre-back Eric Garcia both being substituted, before Robert Lewandowski hit the post with a header from a Jordi Alba cross.

The hosts thought they had gone ahead just four minutes into the second half when Thierry Correia's cross from the right was directed in by Samuel Lino, but the video assistant referee overturned it after replays showed Marcos Andre had, for reasons only known to himself, handled the ball before it reached Lino.

Substitutes Ferran Torres and Raphinha made a mess of a promising situation with five minutes remaining as Pedri's cut-back was scuffed at close range by the former, before the latter somehow volleyed the loose ball over the bar.

But, with just three minutes of injury time remaining, Raphinha made amends as he lifted a ball into the box for the otherwise quiet Lewandowski to expertly divert into the corner of the net with the outside of his right boot to win it for Barca.

Xavi has called on Barcelona to "turn the page" after their Champions League disappointment as he still believes they can deliver a "great season".

The Blaugrana were eliminated from Europe's elite club competition in midweek, with Inter's victory over Viktoria Plzen sealing their fate even before a 3-0 home defeat to Bayern Munich.

Barca paid the price for taking only a point from their double-header against Inter, who followed Bayern into the last 16.

The Catalan giants had invested heavily in the transfer market – despite their financial difficulties – to try to ensure there would be no repeat of last season's group-stage exit, but Xavi's side still fell short.

However, sitting second in LaLiga and only three points behind leaders, champions and rivals Real Madrid, the Barca coach is ready to retrain his focus on a successful domestic campaign.

"In the Champions League, we have made our assessments, [about] what we have lacked but also that we had it in our hands," Xavi said before Saturday's game against Valencia.

"Now it's time to turn the page. Tomorrow is one of those moments in the season to react."

He added: "I'm still positive. It's been a blow, but we can have a great season. There are many titles left.

"In LaLiga, we are in a good dynamic against strong rivals. It is another test to show a reaction and pride."

With Barca already certain to fall into the Europa League before the Bayern match, Xavi suggested "the psychological part weighed a lot".

Failure in Europe will surely increase pressure on the coach's position, but he confirmed he had spoken to president Joan Laporta to analyse what had gone wrong.

"With the president, we talk continuously, practically for every game," Xavi said. "We see each other after the games. The diagnosis is clear: there are things that have not depended on us, and we must improve those things that do depend on us."

He added: "I think in Munich we saw a good Barca, this one also against Villarreal, Athletic, Real Sociedad, Sevilla; I think you are seeing things.

"I want to believe that we are on the way. I've experienced it as a footballer: we can't get off track. And if we don't arrive [at the best level], another coach will come."

The Frenkie de Jong transfer rumour mill is heating up once again as we get closer to January, with Chelsea and Liverpool reportedly set to join Manchester United in the pursuit of the Barcelona midfielder.

De Jong, 25, was one of the most ubiquitous names in the most recent transfer window, with United and Barcelona in regular communication as Erik ten Hag tried to recruit his former Ajax pupil.

After deciding to remain at Camp Nou, despite the LaLiga club urging him to leave to help ease their finances, De Jong has started six out of 14 matches for the Blaugrana so far this season.

With their Champions League campaign looking headed for an early exit, and more playing time likely on the table in the Premier League, it may seem more palatable for the Dutch international to make the jump in January.

TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE GIANTS PREPARE BIDS FOR BARCELONA'S DE JONG

Barcelona and United agreed on a deal starting at €65million plus add-ons before De Jong decided to veto the move by refusing to sign a contract with the Old Trafford side.

With his contract still tying him to Barcelona until 2026, there is no reason to believe that figure would dip unless the Catalan outfit are desperate to get a deal done.

ESPN's report claims Chelsea have had their interest spurred by the injury status of N'Golo Kante, who will apparently miss around four months after undergoing surgery on his hamstring, while Liverpool have made no secret about their desire for midfield reinforcements, and are said to have contacted De Jong's representatives.

ROUND-UP

– According to Football Italia, Juventus will be willing to sell 24-year-old American midfielder Weston McKennie for €20m in January.   

– The Evening Standard is reporting Arsenal are interested in 23-year-old Eintracht Frankfurt centre-back Evan Ndicka, with the French international set to become a free agent at the end of the season.

Wilfried Zaha is likely to reject a new contract from Crystal Palace so he can join a top-six Premier League side when his deal expires at the end of the season, per the Daily Mail.

– Football Insider claims 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund forward Youssoufa Moukoko has caught the eye of the world's elite clubs, with interest coming from Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool.

– Le 10 Sport is reporting Inter view Sevilla centre-back Tanguy Nianzou and Valencia's Mouctar Diakhaby as potential replacements for Milan Skriniar, with the Slovakian expected to leave in January.

Jose Gaya sees himself as a one-club man after signing a new deal with Valencia, as he outlined his hope to represent the club at the World Cup.

Gaya has been a regular in the first team since graduating from Valencia's academy in 2012 and has gone on to make 239 LaLiga appearances.

Named captain in 2020 following Dani Parejo's transfer to Villarreal, Gaya signed a new deal on Wednesday to keep him at the club until the end of June 2027.

The 27-year-old made his international debut in 2018 and hopes to be a part of Luis Enrique's squad for Qatar, though he has the likes of Marcos Alonso and Jordi Alba to contend with.

"Whenever I go away with the national team I try to represent Spain and I think it's the best a player can aspire to do," Gaya told Valencia's official website.

"The squad list hasn't come out yet, but I'm going to give it my all at Valencia to be able to be there."

When asked about any potential further renewals in the future, he added: "I would be excited to play 1,000 more games, but my mind is not thinking at that moment. I also have to earn that renewal and I will do my best for that."

Having been a part of Valencia's Copa del Rey success in 2019, Gaya hopes that in the years to come he can play a role in taking the club back to the top. 

He said: "In recent years I have been able to play in two finals and my ambition is to be able to continue at Valencia and work to be able to take us back to the top positions."

Edinson Cavani grabbed his first goals for Valencia in a 2-2 draw with Elche on Saturday, and joined an elite group of South American stars in the process.

The 35-year-old Uruguay striker netted a 41st-minute penalty followed by a stoppage-time header for a quickfire double late in the first half of the LaLiga game at Mestalla.

It gave Valencia a 2-1 lead, but they were pegged back by Pere Milla's second goal of the game midway through the second half.

Cavani became the fifth South American player in the 21st century to score in four of the top five European leagues, Opta stated.

He followed Alexis Sanchez, James Rodríguez, Philippe Coutinho and Angel Di Maria into that exclusive club.

Cavani has netted in Serie A for Palermo and Napoli, in Ligue 1 for Paris Saint-Germain, where he is the club's record scorer, and in the Premier League for Manchester United. He has not yet played in the Bundesliga.

The goals against Elche came in Cavani's fourth game for Valencia, having joined the club in August after his United contract expired.

Gennaro Gattuso expects Nico Gonzalez to remain at Valencia for the rest of the season, despite reports suggesting Barcelona are considering recalling the midfielder.

Nico left Camp Nou on loan in search of regular minutes in August but has struggled to nail down a first-team spot with Valencia. 

Although Valencia have made a decent start to their first campaign under Gattuso, winning four of their first eight LaLiga games, the 20-year-old has played a limited role.

Nico has made seven league appearances this season, but five of those outings have come from the bench, meaning he has featured for just 231 minutes in the competition.

With Barcelona enduring an injury crisis, reports in Spain have suggested the Blaugrana could cut Nico's loan short in January, but Gattuso has called for him to force his way into Valencia's team instead.

"This is the first time I've heard of it. No player has spoken to me," Gattuso told reporters on Friday. "He is working very well. He has a one-year contract with us. The player has not come to talk to me.

"All the players want to be starters and I think he should work well on the field, and when he has the opportunity to play, show it. 

"He is a great professional. He trains very well but I have a squad of 23 or 24 players. He is a kid who always trains fully."

LaLiga trio Sevilla, Valencia and Villarreal have united to demand an apology from Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales.

The clubs believe Rubiales showed them "gross disrespect" in private comments, which were reported by Spanish publication El Confidencial.

Rubiales appeared to disparage the trio as his least favourite sides in the Spanish top flight in a conversation with his father.

These comments included Rubiales seemingly expressing his hope for a Sevilla loss to Real Madrid in a 2020 match, and a message where he ranked the three clubs bottom of his preferences.

Sevilla's 2-1 defeat to Madrid in the aforementioned game saw a Luuk de Jong goal disallowed, with Rubiales commenting: "They will be on my back about VAR."

He had previously written: "Let's see if we can wipe the floor with them, they are the teams I like least bar one out of all of them."

In a joint statement issued on Tuesday, the clubs called for a swift apology from Rubiales, who spent time at Valencia as a youngster between 1993 and 1995.

"Sevilla FC, Valencia CF and Villarreal CF come together to condemn the gross disrespect shown by the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Luis Rubiales," the statement read.

"The conversations, in which he speaks with such contempt, animosity and arrogance towards the three clubs, are unacceptable coming from a person who holds a position of such responsibility and who must safeguard the interests of all the clubs in Spanish football equally.

"Sevilla FC, Valencia CF and Villarreal CF condemn Luis Rubiales' contempt and lack of respect towards the three institutions and, even more importantly, towards their fans.

"We also express the utmost concern for the possible consequences that his attitude could have for the clubs, as his behaviour is not conducive to transparency within the competition.

"Sevilla FC, Valencia CF and Villarreal CF urge Luis Rubiales to put things right and publicly apologise to the three clubs and their fans."

Manchester United have already conceded 14 goals in seven Premier League games this season.

United boss Erik ten Hag is weighing up his goalkeeping options, having stuck with long-term number one David de Gea since taking over.

Reports have emerged that United and De Gea are set for talks on his future, with the 31-year-old's deal to expire in 2023.

TOP STORY – MAN UTD EYE COSTA AS DE GEA REPLACEMENT

Manchester United's goalkeeper situation is in flux, with the club interested in Porto custodian Diogo Costa, according to Metro.

United have sent scouts to watch the 23-year-old goalkeeper, who has seven caps for Portugal.

The Red Devils are looking for De Gea's successor, with the Spaniard seemingly not suiting Ten Hag's possession-based style.

United also have 25-year-old England international Dean Henderson out on loan at Nottingham Forest.

ROUND-UP

– O Jogo claims former Olympiacos manager Pedro Martins could be the latest Portuguese coach to take over at Wolves, following Bruno Lage's dismissal on Sunday. The Telegraph reports that under-fire Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui may be considered and Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has also been discussed.

Juventus and Real Madrid will rival Liverpool in the race to sign Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans from Leicester City, claims Calciomercato.

– LaLiga pair Sevilla and Valencia are both interested in Manchester United forward Anthony Martial, reports Todofichajes.

Tottenham and Juventus target Nicolo Zaniolo is set to pen a new deal with Roma, re-committing on a €4million per-year deal until 2027, according to Calciomercato.

– Everton's Venezuela international striker Salomon Rondon has interest from UAE club Sharjah FC but is likely to stay with the Toffees, reports Liverpool Echo.

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

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

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

Busy Saints bring in four, lose one

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brooks was here, now he's in Lisbon

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

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

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

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

Paris Saint-Germain have further bolstered their midfield with the signing of Valencia's Carlos Soler.

Soler, who had spent his entire senior career with his hometown club, has penned a five-year contract with the Ligue 1 champions, who will reportedly pay €18million plus add-ons for his services.

The 25-year-old, who started out as a winger before moving into a more central role, scored 11 goals and added five assists in 32 league appearances for Los Che last term.

"I'm very happy! It’s a new adventure in my career. I feel very proud and I’m looking forward to starting work with my teammates, to meeting them, and giving everything for this shirt," he told the club's official website.

"On Tuesday, we're playing our first Champions League game at the Parc des Princes, and it'll be an opportunity for me to get to know it. I'm certain that it'll be a great party for everyone and for the fans."

The Spain international is the sixth new arrival of a busy transfer window at the Parc des Princes, and the fourth new midfielder signed by PSG after Vitinha, Renato Sanches and Fabian Ruiz.

Christophe Galtier's side saw their perfect start to the new season halted by a 1-1 draw with Monaco last time out, but are still top of the Ligue 1 table with 10 points from their first four games.

Soler's departure means Valencia have lost both of their joint-top goalscorers from the 2021-22 campaign after Goncalo Guedes was sold to Wolves, though James Rodriguez has been touted as a potential replacement for the PSG new boy.

James Rodriguez says he would walk from Qatar to Valencia in order to join the LaLiga club.

The Colombia international only joined Al-Rayyan from Everton last September, but is eager for another move before the transfer window closes on Thursday.

James is contracted to the Stars League side until June 2024, but the former Real Madrid playmaker wants to link up with Valencia's new signing Edinson Cavani for another spell in Spain.

Speaking to El Chiringuito on Twitch, the 31-year-old said: "If it were up to me, I would go there [Valencia] on foot. But if I went on foot I would arrive late because then the transfer market closes.

"Seriously, it's a great club with a good fan base and now Cavani has arrived too. If they want someone to assist Cavani, I'm there."

Uruguay striker Cavani completed a move to Valencia this week as a free agent after his Manchester United contract expired.

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has praised the impact of Antoine Griezmann amid transfer speculation after netting the winner in Monday's 1-0 victory at Valencia.

Griezmann once again came off the bench just past the hour mark, making the decisive impact with a deflected 66th-minute strike after receiving a pass from fellow substitute Thomas Lemar.

The Frenchman is on a two-year loan at Atletico from Barcelona, and Los Rojiblancos have been using him for under 30 minutes in each match to avoid triggering a purchase clause in his contract.

"As long as Griezmann manages to respond as he does, having him on the field is very important and I understand that you have to put him on when it suits the team best," Simeone told reporters.

"The entry of Lemar and Griezmann gave us more peace of mind to impose the team's game."

Yannick Carrasco, who was a half-time substitute, has also been linked with a move away from Atleti, with Tottenham reportedly interested.

"You can't imagine it, it's normal for all coaches except for some," Simeone said about the Carrasco speculation.

"Something can always happen that is important for the clubs, we are not the owners but coaches."

There were two crucial VAR interventions in the win over Valencia, with Yunus Musah's thunderbolt ruled out after a foul in the lead-up on Joao Felix was spotted.

Valencia defender Thierry Correira was also sent off in the 42nd minute for a last-man foul, but that was downgraded to a yellow card after a VAR review.

"When the play started, it was clearly a foul," Simeone said about Musah's disallowed goal.

"The referee didn't see it, the goal came and then with the VAR he did see it.

"On the second play I didn't go for a goal, they told him no and I missed it. It's always fair what happens then there is no going back."

Antoine Griezmann scored the winner just a couple of minutes after coming off the bench as Atletico Madrid beat Valencia 1-0 in a feisty LaLiga clash on Monday.

Griezmann and Thomas Lemar were brought on midway through the second half by Diego Simeone at the Mestalla and they combined to secure all three points.

Griezmann took a pass from Lemar before opening the scoring with a deflected shot to make it two wins out of three for Atleti.

With new signing Edinson Cavani watching on, Valencia had a goal from Yunus Musah disallowed in the first half following a VAR check as they slumped to back-to-back defeats.

Alvaro Morata came close with an early effort from close range, but Valencia started to look the more threatening and it appeared they had taken the lead 25 minutes in.

Musah beat Jan Oblak with a rasping long-range drive, but referee Guillermo Cuadra Fernandez ruled the goal out following a check on the pitchside monitor for a foul by Mouctar Diakhaby on Joao Felix.

Coaches Simeone and Gennaro Gattuso were booked as tempers flared on the touchline, before Joao Felix was denied by Valencia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili.

Fernandez was centre stage again when he sent Thierry Correia off for a professional foul on Morata, but changed his decision and instead dished out a yellow card to the defender.

Mamardashvili used his left foot to keep out Morata's finish when the striker was sent clear right at the end of a frantic first half.

Neither side looked particularly threatening in the second half until Lemar and Griezmann made an instant impact off the bench, the midfielder winning possession and setting up the France forward, whose left-foot shot from outside the area deflected in off Carlos Soler.

Mamardashvili produced an excellent save to thwart Yannick Carrasco after Matheus Cunha had a goal ruled out for offside and Valencia's impressive keeper prevented Griezmann from claiming a double.

Cunha's effort struck the crossbar via a strong hand from Mamardashvili, but Griezmann's goal proved to be enough.

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