Luis Suarez's future at Atletico Madrid is unclear with his contract to expire at the end of the season.

Suarez helped Atleti win LaLiga last term with 21 goals.

The Uruguayan joined Atletico from top-flight rivals Barcelona in 2020 on a two-year deal.

TOP STORY – SUAREZ WANTS GERRARD REUNION AT VILLA

Suarez wants a reunion with former Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa, reports Gerard Romero.

The Atletico Madrid forward's contract expires at the end of this season and has been sounded out by numerous Brazilian clubs.

Suarez has had offers from Palmeiras, Corinthians and Atletico Mineiro but wants to link up with Gerrard who took over at Villa in January.

 

ROUND-UP

- ESPN claims Paris Saint-Germain have opened talks with Manchester United's Paul Pogba and Milan's Franck Kessie, as part of their effort to convince Kylian Mbappe to stay in the French capital amid interest from Real Madrid.

- Juventus have made an enquiry for Borussia Monchengladbach's Denis Zakaria according to 90min as they prepare for Arthur Melo to join Arsenal .

- Arsenal's bid to sign Fiorentina's Dusan Vlahovic looks to have hit a roadblock with the Serbian only interested in joining Juventus, reports the Mail.

- Milan want to bolster their backline and are interested in a loan deal for Tottenham's Japhet Tanganga, claims Fabrizio Romano.

- Leicester City and Newcastle United may rival Brentford to sign Inter's Christian Eriksen, reports the Times.

Diego Simeone has opened up about conversations with Luis Suarez as Atletico Madrid attempt to get the former Barcelona striker back to form.

The Uruguay international is Atletico's top scorer in all competitions this season, albeit with just nine goals from 27 appearances.

The 34-year-old, whose contract at Wanda Metropolitano expires at the end of the campaign, has only found the net once in his last 11 club matches.

Suarez's frustration was evident when he was substituted during last month's defeat at Sevilla, with the former Liverpool striker appearing to direct expletives towards coach Simeone.

With the striker's sharp shooting deserting him and his future uncertain, the Atleti boss said there have been discussions between the pair in recent times.

Ahead of Atletico's Copa del Rey clash with Real Sociedad on Wednesday, Simeone said: "We have spoken with Luis for two months about what I think of him, of how important he is for us.

"What I think of him, he knows it and I didn't speak to him after Sevilla, I have spoken to him for two months."

 

Suarez has scored 30 goals across all competitions since his September 2020 transfer from Barcelona – more than any other Atletico team-mate. Karim Benzema (54) and Gerard Moreno (41) are the only players currently based in Spain to have scored more often during that time.

Additionally, only Messi (231) betters Suarez's tally of 175 LaLiga goals since the Uruguayan joined Barcelona from Liverpool in July 2014.

Diego Costa confirmed he has left Atletico Mineiro after just five months with the Brazilian club, stoking rumours over a potential return to the Premier League with Arsenal.

The Brazil-born Spain international joined Galo in August on a short-term contract, having been granted his release from Atletico Madrid eight months earlier.

Costa's second spell in Madrid was far less successful on an individual level than his first, which had earned him a £32million move to Chelsea in 2014, with the striker generally impressing in the Premier League as he scored 52 goals in 89 matches.

His August switch to Atletico Mineiro provided Costa with the opportunity to regain fitness after several months away from competitive action.

He featured 19 times for the Belo Horizonte club and scored five times across all competitions, helping them to a Brasileiro and Copa do Brasil double.

Arsenal are said to be interested in signing the 33-year-old on a free transfer, with Mikel Arteta apparently keen for striker reinforcements after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was ostracised from the first team.

Costa offered no clues as to where he will end up, however, as he bade farewell to Galo.

"Today, officially, I say goodbye to Atletico," he wrote on Instagram.

"I would like to thank all [Atletico Mineiro fans] for all the support and affection I received from the first to the last day.

"Thank you so much for being part of my childhood dream of playing in Brazilian football and winning titles.

"I would also like to express my gratitude to the entire technical staff, medical department, employees and especially to my teammates who helped me daily, always doing everything to make me feel comfortable.

"The feeling that remains is gratitude to all of you Atleticanos. Thank you and I wish you all the success in the world!"

While Costa could potentially join Arsenal, the Gunners are expected to announce that centre-back Pablo Mari has left on loan for Udinese after struggling for first-team football following the arrival of Ben White.

The futures of Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe, arguably the two most sought-after players in world football, could be determined by the end of the January transfer window.

While the forwards look set to stay at Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain respectively this month, moves away at the end of the campaign look increasingly likely.

And despite intense competition from fellow heavyweight clubs, Real Madrid are determined to win the race for both players.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID TO PUT ASIDE €350m FOR HAALAND

Madrid had two bids knocked back for Mbappe last year but, according to Marca, they remain in pole position to sign the France international in six months' time.

Landing Haaland could prove to be a little more complicated, though, given he will still have two years to run on his contract at the end of the 2021-22 campaign.

However, the Spanish publication reports that Madrid are willing to spend big on the prolific striker, who is thought to have a €75million release clause in his deal.

On top of triggering that, it is claimed that Los Blancos will have to set aside cash for Haaland's father, agent Mino Raiola and a hefty salary for the player himself, which could total around €350m.

 

ROUND-UP

- Madrid may be considered the frontrunners to sign Mbappe and Haaland, but they already have a back-up plan in place should either of those moves fail to materialise. According to El Nacional, Fiorentina's in-demand Dusan Vlahovic is also on the Spanish giants' radar.

- CalcioMercato reports that Milan have joined the queue to sign Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen. Christensen, who comes out of contract at the end of this season, is being chased by Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.

- Newcastle United could beat Manchester United in the race for RB Leipzig's Amadou Haidara, with The Mirror reporting that the newly-rich Magpies are set to make an offer.

- The Everton board got together on Saturday to discuss manager Rafael Benitez's future in the job, according to Sky Sports. Everton have won one of their past 13 league games and lost to bottom club Norwich City 2-1 on Saturday.

- PSG, Bayern and Madrid are among Kalvin Phillips' suitors. El Nacional reports that Leeds United have a battle on their hands fending off interest in the midfielder, who has been capped 19 times by England.

- The Mirror reports that Chelsea are considering a move for Inter's Ivan Perisic. The Blues are in the market for a versatile player who can play at left-back while Ben Chilwell recovers from a long-term injury.

 

Donny van de Beek has struggled to make much of an impression since his £35million move to Manchester United from Ajax in September 2020.

The Netherlands international was overlooked for regular selection by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and is also a fringe player under interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

But Van de Beek, who previously starred in a talented Ajax side, could be offered a route out of Old Trafford this month.


TOP STORY – DORTMUND, NEWCASTLE IN FOR VAN DE BEEK

Van de Beek is reportedly considering a move away in order to win back his place in the Netherlands side.

According to the Manchester Evening News, Bundesliga heavyweights Dortmund and Premier League strugglers Newcastle United are possible suitors for the midfielder.

However, United will have the final say on any loan deal, which would not be expected to contain an option to make the deal permanent at the end of the campaign.

The 24-year-old has featured 49 times for the Red Devils – just 19 of those being starts – since arriving at the club 16 months ago.


ROUND-UP

– Barcelona will make one final effort to sign Alvaro Morata this month, according to Sport. Memphis Depay could be used as part of any deal.

– Liverpool want to sign Jarrod Bowen and the West Ham forward is keen on the move, says Football Insider. It will not be in January, though.

– Desperate for a replacement for Kieran Trippier, Atletico Madrid are interested in Manchester United's Diogo Dalot, according to AS.

– Tuttomercatoweb says Arthur is keen on the idea of joining Arsenal on loan, but Juventus and Massimiliano Allegri have yet to okay any departure.

– Meanwhile, TMW also claims Paulo Dybala is not yet prepared to listen to offers from other clubs, with a contract summit with Juventus set for February.

– The Daily Mail reports that Arsenal are frontrunners to sign Youri Tielemans after Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers admitted the midfielder may leave the club.

Diego Simeone believes Atletico Madrid will be held back from achieving their aspirations this season if they cannot address their problems in defending against aerial threats.

Atleti let a lead slip to lose 2-1 to Athletic Bilbao in the semi-final of the Supercopa de Espana in Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

The LaLiga champions looked set to face city rivals Real Madrid in the final at King Fahd Stadium on Sunday after Unai Simon's unfortunate own goal put them in front just after the hour mark.

Yet the holders mounted a great fightback in Riyadh on Thursday, Yeray Alvarez rising to head in a corner from Iker Muniain after 77 minutes.

Teenage substitute Nico Williams won it for Athletic nine minutes from time, finishing clinically with his left foot from inside the penalty area after Simeone's side failed to deal with another corner.

Jose Gimenez's red card for a dangerous challenge on Inigo Martinez added insult to injury for Atleti.

There were elements to the performance that pleased Simeone, but he fired a warning that his side are unlikely to challenge for trophies unless they can solve their issues in the air.

 

"There are things that can't be hidden. The team doesn't have defensive strength in aerial play and that takes away from us the possibility of having better games and better opportunities to be higher up in LaLiga and to stay in this competition," said the Atleti coach.

"This isn't the time to talk much. Everything looks much worse with the result, but there were good things. Joao [Felix] played a good game, [Angel] Correa worked, [Rodrigo] De Paul did well when he came on, [Mario] Hermoso's game was very good, Marcos [Llorente] was able to play for 45 minutes coming in with an overload in his glute, and we have to improve in training, on a day-to-day basis and get what comes to us from that."

Asked if it seemed his team had finally reached a point where they had stopped believing, he replied: "It's an opinion more than a question. I hear that as an opinion.

"We believe in the work we do. We're trying to improve. Since the Rayo [Vallecano] match [a 2-0 win on January 2], I think we've played good games, but we need to improve something very obvious that makes us lose points, [league] positions and stops us being in finals. It is up to us to improve that and increase the aggressiveness in the areas."

Llorente started the game at right wing-back before being replaced by Renan Lodi at half-time, but the pair between them only provided one cross from open play throughout the contest.

It laid bare the concerns Simeone has over that position following the sale of Kieran Trippier to Newcastle United.

While he is happy with the options at his disposal, with Sime Vrsaljko another who can play the role, Simeone said the club were exploring options in the transfer market.

"We have Vrsaljko as a replacement. He can play there. The club is working with what can be done in pursuit of the benefit of the club and of the team," he said.

Jan Oblak says Atletico Madrid's 2-1 Supercopa de Espana defeat to Athletic Bilbao was "difficult to explain" and warned they must solve their defensive frailties. 

The LaLiga champions looked set to face city rivals Real Madrid in the final at King Fahd Stadium on Sunday after Unai Simon's unfortunate own goal put them in front just after the hour-mark.

Yet the holders mounted a great fightback in Riyadh on Thursday, Yeray Alvarez rising to head in a corner from Iker Muniain after 77 minutes.

Teenage substitute Nico Williams won it for Athletic nine minutes from time, finishing clinically with his left foot from inside the penalty area after Diego Simeone's side failed to deal with another corner.

Jose Gimenez's red card for a dangerous challenge on Inigo Martinez added insult to injury for Atleti.

Atleti have been vulnerable from set-pieces all season and goalkeeper Oblak says they have to tighten up.

He told MoviStar: "It is difficult to explain. Two set-pieces and this year we have conceded a lot [from set-pieces].

"We wanted to reach the final, we wanted to win the Super Cup, but we didn't do enough. I wish Athletic the best in the world, they won and they deserve to be there."

He added of Atleti's issues with defending set-pieces: "It is the question we want to solve, a lot of goals conceded this year. Many due to our failures. 

"It sure is a difficult time. You have a game like today where you go 1-0 and they score two goals from set-pieces.

"It is difficult to explain, we have to find the answer to this question. If it is not going to be complicated until the end of the season."

Oblak says Atleti can have no complaints with their defeat and must show a positive response.

"We have not played a good game. The plan was not that, it was to press and have more of the ball. The whole team is disappointed," he said.

"It is a difficult moment, you have to get up, with your head up, improve a lot. Each defeat is very hard and this one more because it was to go to a final for a title that we wanted a lot.

"We can talk, but words are useless until we solve it on the field."

Nico Williams climbed off the bench to score the winner as Athletic Bilbao came from behind to beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 and reach the Supercopa de Espana final at King Fahd Stadium.

Atleti looked set to face city rivals Real Madrid in the final after Unai Simon's unfortunate own goal put them in front in the second half.

But Athletic mounted a fightback, Yeray Alvarez equalising and substitute Williams completing the comeback with nine minutes to play in Riyadh, where Jose Maria Gimenez saw red late on.

The holders and LaLiga leaders Madrid will do battle for the first trophy of the season on Sunday.

Joao Felix had the ball in the back of the net only eight seconds into the semi-final, but the Portugal forward had strayed offside.

Atleti wanted a penalty when Thomas Lemar went down under a challenge from Alex Berenguer, but referee Guillermo Cuadra Fernandez and the VAR saw nothing untoward before Jan Oblak denied Inaki Williams at the other end.

Yannick Carrasco let fly from long range, but his venomous drive was straight at Athletic goalkeeper Simon in a first half that fizzled out after a bright start.

The LaLiga champions were in front just after the hour-mark, Joao Felix rising to meet an outswinging corner from Lemar and seeing his header strike an upright before hitting Simon and creeping over the line.

Inigo Martinez came close to an equaliser when Oblak kept out his powerful header, but Alvarez levelled after 77 minutes, leaping to head Iker Muniain's corner home.

Athletic had the momentum and Oblak produced a great save to deny Williams, but the teenager put his side ahead by slotting in with his left foot when Atleti failed to deal with another corner.

Gimenez was given his marching orders following a VAR check right at the end for a dangerous high challenge on Martinez as Atleti crashed out.

Nico Williams climbed off the bench to score the winner as Athletic Bilbao came from behind to beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 and reach the Supercopa de Espana final at King Fahd Stadium.

Atleti looked set to face city rivals Real Madrid in the final after Unai Simon's unfortunate own goal put them in front in the second half.

But Athletic mounted a fightback, Yeray Alvarez equalising and substitute Williams completing the comeback with nine minutes to play in Riyadh, where Jose Maria Gimenez saw red late on.

The holders and LaLiga leaders Madrid will do battle for the first trophy of the season on Sunday.

Joao Felix had the ball in the back of the net only eight seconds into the semi-final, but the Portugal forward had strayed offside.

Atleti wanted a penalty when Thomas Lemar went down under a challenge from Alex Berenguer, but referee Guillermo Cuadra Fernandez and the VAR saw nothing untoward before Jan Oblak denied Inaki Williams at the other end.

Yannick Carrasco let fly from long range, but his venomous drive was straight at Athletic goalkeeper Simon in a first half that fizzled out after a bright start.

The LaLiga champions were in front just after the hour-mark, Joao Felix rising to meet an outswinging corner from Lemar and seeing his header strike an upright before hitting Simon and creeping over the line.

Inigo Martinez came close to an equaliser when Oblak kept out his powerful header, but Alvarez levelled after 77 minutes, leaping to head Iker Muniain's corner home.

Athletic had the momentum and Oblak produced a great save to deny Williams, but the teenager put his side ahead by slotting in with his left foot when Atleti failed to deal with another corner.

Gimenez was given his marching orders following a VAR check right at the end for a dangerous high challenge on Martinez as Atleti crashed out.

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone said he was happy to take a point away from the visit to Villarreal after facing "one of the best teams in LaLiga".

Angel Correa struck a sensational opener after 10 minutes, the Argentina international intercepting Daniel Parejo's sloppy pass and firing over Geronimo Rulli from just inside the Villarreal half.

Opta calculated his breathtaking effort to have an expected goal (xG) indicator of just 0.0166 – the lowest for a goal in LaLiga this season.

However, the hosts pulled level before half-time through Pau Torres, shortly after Gerard Moreno had seen a penalty saved by Jan Oblak.

Alberto Moreno put Unai Emery's side ahead after the break but Geoffrey Kondogbia, who was sent off deep into stoppage time after picking up a second yellow card, sealed a point with his first goal for the club in the 67th minute. 

That goal snapped Los Colchoneros' run of three straight LaLiga defeats on the road, and Simeone was pleased with his players' efforts against a strong and spirited Villarreal side. 

"It was a difficult game," he told Movistar. "For me, Villarreal is one of the best teams in LaLiga. They defend well, they are organised at the back and attack very well.

"When [Matheus] Cunha didn't score a second with his chance they grew into the game. They played a good first half and continued that in the second.

"They put themselves ahead but then a different Atletico Madrid appeared. We leave with positives and lots of things to correct.

"We have been fighting and working to improve ourselves. Today we did a lot of good things and we are on a quest to keep improving things."

Marcos Llorente echoed Simeone's sentiments, saying Atleti need to sharpen up if they are to turn draws into wins.

"We always want victory," he said. "But having gone two goals down it was good to see the reaction of the team. It is a point that has been fought for and won. We wanted all three, but we are happy with the reaction of the team.

"We always want more. In the second half we have managed to generate chances. If we correct the errors we know we can win games."

The result lifted Atleti above Real Sociedad into fourth, with Llorente acknowledging the battle for a Champions League place could go right to the wire.

"You can see that it is going to be a very tight fight up there," he added. "There are teams that are doing things very well. Winning three points is very complicated. If you are not at 100 per cent anyone can take them away from you."

Angel Correa scored a sensational goal from almost the halfway line as Atletico Madrid fought out a pulsating 2-2 LaLiga draw with Villarreal on Sunday.

Correa stunned the Estadio de la Ceramica with his sublime early strike, but the hosts pulled level before half-time through Pau Torres, shortly after Gerard Moreno had seen a penalty saved by Jan Oblak.

Alberto Moreno thought he had sealed a fifth consecutive top-flight win for Unai Emery's side before the hour mark, yet Atleti salvaged a point thanks to Geoffrey Kondogbia's first goal for the club, although the midfielder's match ended with a red card deep into stoppage time.

The result moved Diego Simeone's side up to fourth, while Villarreal remained four points behind their opponents in eighth.

Atleti went ahead after 10 minutes thanks to Correa's audacious strike, the Argentina international intercepting Parejo's sloppy pass and firing over Geronimo Rulli from just inside the Villarreal half.

Alberto Moreno struck the post soon after, before he won a penalty when Thomas Lemar handled his shot inside the area in the 23rd minute.

Gerard Moreno's weak spot-kick was kept out by Oblak, though, with Parejo's follow-up ruled out for handball following a pitchside VAR review.

The hosts did pull level six minutes later, however, Torres bundling in from close range after Oblak spilled a Parejo free-kick at his feet.

Villarreal deservedly went ahead in the 58th minute when Alberto Moreno latched on to Gerard Moreno's pass and found the back of the net via a signifiant deflection from the onrushing Oblak. 

Simeone's men went back to the Spanish capital with a point, though, when Kondogbia's 20-yard strike slipped through the grasp of Rulli in the 67th minute, before the 28-year-old goalscorer received a second yellow card for a foul on Yeremi Pino in added time.

Antoine Griezmann is hoping to see out the remainder of his career with Atletico Madrid after conceding that his spell with Barcelona did not pan out as he had hoped.

The France international re-joined Atletico in August on an initial loan with an obligation to buy after spending just two years at Camp Nou.

Barcelona spent €120million to sign Griezmann from LaLiga rivals Atleti in 2019, but the 30-year-old never managed to recapture his best form in Catalonia. 

He made 102 appearances for Barca in all competitions – six more than any other player during his time at the club – and was directly involved in 51 goals.

Only Lionel Messi (106), who himself departed for Paris Saint-Germain in the last transfer window, scored and assisted more goals for Barca over that period.

However, it was at Atletico where Griezmann had the most prolific spell of his career when scoring 133 goals in 257 games between 2014 and 2019.

The Real Sociedad academy product has scored eight goals and assisted two more in 19 games since returning to the Wanda Metropolitano – no Atleti player has been involved in more goals.

Back playing where he feels most comfortable, Griezmann sees no reason to move away from the Spanish capital for a second time.

"The truth is that I performed well at Real Sociedad, then I grew athletically and also privately at Atleti, with my wife, with my children... That helps you be more relaxed and enjoy everything," he told Transfermarkt. 

"Then I went to Barcelona. Because of the circumstances, things didn't go as well as I had hoped. That's why I wanted to come back, to play for Cholo [Diego Simeone] and Atleti again. 

"That's what I wanted the most, and the truth is that I'm really enjoying it here and I hope I can continue like this.

"I hope Atleti want me as long as I can keep up with the pace of the games and the demanded level, and that we can write another beautiful story."

 

Griezmann has been linked with an array of European heavyweights in the past, including Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, but he has not considered a move to Germany.

"I've never thought about it, because since my time at Real Sociedad I've always felt comfortable where I was, and in the end, I feel most comfortable and happy here at Atleti now," he said. "I don't want to move again."

This week marks 10 years since Simeone took charge of his first Atletico match and no player has scored more goals under the Argentinian coach.

Indeed, Griezmann's 141 goals is the fourth-most in Atleti history and the forward credits Simeone with getting the most out of him.

Asked which of the coaches he has worked under has impressed him most, Griezmann said: "I would say it's Cholo. I think he's the coach who knows me best. 

"I have an incredible relationship with him, and also on a sporting level he has always fought with the best, in the Spanish league or in Europe. He has taken the club to the highest level possible."

The Copa del Rey round of 16 will feature a repeat last season's final, as Barcelona were drawn against Athletic Bilbao, while a Seville derby is also on the cards.

Barca faced Athletic in April of last year, winning 4-0 in the showdown at La Cartuja in Seville, with Lionel Messi scoring twice as he helped the Blaugrana to their only trophy of a disappointing season, and his last piece of silverware at the club.

That defeat was the second in a Copa del Rey final in the space of two weeks for Athletic, with the club having gone down 1-0 to their Basque rivals Real Sociedad in the delayed 2019-20 final. Holders Barca scraped past Linares Deportivo 2-1 to reach the last 16 this time around.

The other headline tie sees a clash between Seville's two clubs – Real Betis and Sevilla – while Sociedad host Atletico Madrid in another all LaLiga encounter.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, will face a trip to Elche.

It means Los Blancos will face Elche twice in the space of a week, with Madrid hosting the team from the east of Spain at Santiago Bernabeu in a league fixture on January 23. These ties will take place in the week commencing January 17.

Asked on Friday if he believed his side had been given an easier draw compared to Barca and Atleti, Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti replied: "Well no, all the teams want to perform well.

"It will be a tough match we need to prepare it properly as we'll play away against Elche. For me, it's just a draw and we just need to be focused and prepared as the Copa del Rey is an important competition for us obviously."

Copa del Rey last 16 draw in full:

Atletico Baleares v Valencia
Girona v Rayo Vallecano
Sporting Gijon v Cadiz
Elche v Real Madrid
Real Sociedad v Atletico Madrid
Real Betis v Sevilla
Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona
Mallorca v Espanyol

Newcastle United have completed the signing of Kieran Tripper from Atletico Madrid on a two-and-a-half-year deal.

The England international is the first arrival at St James' Park following the Saudi Arabian-backed takeover in October, joining for a fee reported to be in the region of £12million plus add-ons.

Tripper returns to the Premier League following a two-and-a-half-year stint with Atletico, having previously played for Tottenham and Burnley in the English top-flight.

The full-back will aim to bolster the Newcastle defence and help them climb out of the relegation zone, with the Magpies only winning one league game all season. They currently sit 19th, two points from safety.

The 31-year-old also links up with Eddie Howe for a second time, the pair having previously crossed paths at Turf Moor in 2012.

"I'm delighted to be joining this fantastic club. I really enjoyed my time in Madrid, but when I became aware of interest from Newcastle United, and having worked with Eddie Howe before, I knew this was where I wanted to be," Trippier told the club's official website.

"I'm aware there is a lot of work ahead of us but I know the demands of Premier League well and I know what an amazing club this is with very talented players. I can't wait to get started and I'm excited to step out at St. James' Park as a Newcastle player."

Trippier made 68 LaLiga appearances for Los Rojiblancos, helping Diego Simeone's side capture the domestic title last season.

The full-back contributed to the success with six assists; Jose Gaya (seven) the only defender to record more in the Spanish top-flight in 2020-21.

Trippier also registered 74 successful crosses during his time in LaLiga, with Jesus Navas (129) and Damian Suarez (84) the only defenders to better that tally.

Although he has failed to record any goals or assists across all competitions this season, there is no doubt in the quality and experience the England defender will bring to the Magpies' ranks.

Indeed, he played five of the Three Lions' seven matches as they reached the Euro 2020 final last year.

Howe said: "I am really pleased to welcome Kieran to Newcastle United. I have long admired his abilities and have followed his career, so when the opportunity arose to secure him, we didn't hesitate.

"A lot of hard work has gone into planning for the January transfer window long before the month began, which is clear in how quickly we have been able to complete this move."

Newcastle have also been linked with a move for another full-back, this time for the left flank, in the form of Everton defender Lucas Digne, who is out of favour with Rafael Benitez following a reported training-ground disagreement.

Digne, however, is reported to prefer a move elsewhere as it stands, with West Ham and Chelsea also said to be interested.

Diego Simeone is keeping his fingers crossed that Antoine Griezmann's injury is not too serious after the striker hobbled off in Thursday's 5-0 Copa del Rey win over Rayo Majadahonda.

The France international – who scored his side's fourth after being introduced as a substitute – sustained a thigh injury in last month's derby defeat to Real Madrid before testing positive for COVID-19 last week.

Simeone did not reveal the nature of Griezmann's injury but said he hopes the France international, who left the pitch visibly upset, is not sidelined for long.

"The doctors will inform better than me," he told a media conference. "He is a very important player for us and it is a shame that he was injured again.

"We hope he does not have much time out."

Simeone fielded a strong starting XI for the game, which was played at the Wanda Metropolitano despite Majadahonda being drawn as the home team, and they never looked like they would suffer an upset after Matheus Cunha's early opener.

Renan Lodi and Luis Suarez made it three before the interval, while Griezmann and fellow substitute Joao Felix rounded off the scoring in the second half.

After scoring against Granada in LaLiga before the mid-season break, Joao Felix has now scored in consecutive away games in all competitions for just the second time ever after doing so against Real Mallorca and Lokomotiv Moscow in October 2019.

Simeone was full of praise for the Portugal international and wants to see more of the same from him in the coming weeks.

"It was an extraordinary performance in the second half," the Atleti boss added.

"He has come out with great enthusiasm and everything he has tried has turned out well for him. I'm very happy for him and I'm sure it will be good for us if he continues at this level."

After four defeats in a row before the mid-season break, Atleti have started 2022 with back-to-back wins.

Simeone has been pleased with his side's attitude since their return to action and he does not want them to let up.

"The side has a lot of desire to do things well," he said. "The players have great intensity from minute one to get out of the moment of difficulty that the team was going through.

"Achieving consistency in the league is the most difficult thing and it is what we are trying to do."

Atleti are next in action on Sunday when they visit Villarreal in LaLiga.

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