Diego Simeone was not prepared to criticise Atletico Madrid chiefs nor the premise of the European Super League following the proposed competition's collapse but backed the decision to withdraw.

Atletico were one of the 12 founding clubs to initially sign up for the tournament, which was announced on Sunday, but their plans crumbled within 48 hours.

The backlash was significant on Monday and then Tuesday proved pivotal, as English clubs took note of the passionate response from fans, media, players and coaches.

Manchester City became the first to withdraw, followed by Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham. Atletico, Inter and Milan followed on Wednesday

Atletico boss Simeone did not take the opportunity to openly criticise the plans during a press conference on the eve of Thursday's LaLiga clash with Huesca, as Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola did in previous days, but accepted it was the right decision.

Speaking of his talks with Atletico CEO Miguel Angel Gil Marin, Simeone said: "Going into what he told us is not appropriate, but we saw doubts about this situation and what happened later, last night, when the clubs began to leave the Super League.

"I was told after the last game, I understood that the club was going to decide what was best for the club. The club has looked at our fans, employees, players, president – the Atletico family."

When pressed for his own opinion, Simeone added: "Listen to what I said before. I was clear, concrete and true. There is nothing to hide.

"I was one of the first to be consulted after the match and I said that I absolutely trusted the club because they were going to do what was best for the club. We understand that this situation [the withdrawal] is good for everyone. We all belong to football – before being footballers and coaches, we are fans.

"They have known me for a long time, I do not like demagoguery or taking advantage of situations to strengthen myself.

"What I think, I tell the people I have to talk to. I do not like to express myself here."

Simeone still expects the events of the past few days to contribute to significant change in European football.

"Faced with seismic movements like this, something is going to change, for sure, I have no doubt," he said. "And for the better, don't get me wrong.

"When there are movements, the parties will have to get closer and find what everyone wants or wanted before."

"Profit-driven" projects like the European Super League threaten the existing structure and mission of sport, according to International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach.

Bach appeared at the UEFA Congress in Montreux, Switzerland on Tuesday.

The furore caused by 12 of Europe's leading clubs announcing a breakaway competition that would see them leave existing structures in place under UEFA and FIFA continues to cause intense debate.

Bach warned that self-interest and commercialism would come at a huge cost for European sport.

He insisted such an approach was not what was needed as society rebuilds as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.

"We have to realise that this European sport model is under threat today," Bach said. 

"In fact, the very existence of the values, solidarity and volunteer-based model is under threat. 

"It is challenged by a purely profit-driven approach that ignores the intrinsic values the social mission of sport and the real needs of the post-coronavirus world. 

"It is under threat because the social mission of sports organisations is losing ground to the purely profit-oriented goals of commercial sport providers and investors. 

"If everything is only looked at from a business perspective. If only the economic rules are applied to measure the impact of sport on society then the social mission of sport is lost.

"In this polarising environment narrow self-interest and egotism have been gaining ground over solidarity, shared values and common rules. 

"We can only address the challenges of the post-coronavirus world in solidarity. This means for us solidarity within sports organisations and solidarity among sports organisations."

At the same conference, FIFA president Gianni Infantino condemned the European Super League.

Infantino warned clubs involved they "cannot be half in or half out" and must fully commit to the breakaway competition.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino condemned the European Super League as he warned clubs involved they "cannot be half in or half out" and must fully commit to the breakaway competition.

Twelve elite clubs announced on Sunday their plans to launch a tournament to rival the Champions League in which they would be assured of qualification.

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United, among others, would compete in the Super League every season without risk of demotion.

The news has prompted a strong reaction throughout the football world, with governing bodies, rivals clubs, players, coaches and fans critical of the idea and its anti-competitive format.

An initial FIFA statement on Sunday read: "FIFA can only express its disapproval to a 'closed European breakaway league' outside of the international football structures."

Infantino, FIFA president since 2016, had not subsequently discussed the Super League in public until Tuesday's UEFA Congress, however.

But he made clear in Montreux, Switzerland, that the clubs involved could not continue in their domestic leagues, as proposed, while bans from international football for players at those clubs have been threatened.

"At FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove the creation of the Super League, which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA," Infantino said.

"There is a lot to throw away for maybe a short-term financial gain of some. People need to think very carefully. They need to reflect and they need to assume responsibility.

"If some elect to go their own way, then they must live with the consequences of their choice. They are responsible for their choice.

"Concretely, this means either you are in or you are out. You cannot be half in or half out."

If you are a football fan there is simply no escaping the controversy caused by the announcement 12 teams have signed up to form a breakaway European Super League.

Talk of such a competition is nothing new, rumours have been swirling for years, but the furore caused has still been widespread with pundits, players and fans alike united in their disapproval.

UEFA and the major European governing bodies and leagues have vowed to do all they can to kill the proposals and huge sanctions have been threatened if the teams go ahead with the league.

But part of the debate has also centred around the credentials of some of the teams who have been invited to participate, with six from the Premier League, three from LaLiga and three from Serie A agreeing to join. Below we have reviewed each of the 12 clubs involved.

THE 'BIG SIX' FROM THE PREMIER LEAGUE

Arsenal

Arsenal's place on the list comes with the club having failed to qualify for the Champions League since the 2016-17 season, the penultimate year of Arsene Wenger's long reign. The Gunners appear unlikely to make a return via the domestic route this season, as they sit well adrift of the top four in the Premier League. However, they are still in the Europa League, with a semi-final tie against Spanish side Villarreal – coached by former Arsenal boss Unai Emery, no less – to come.

Founded: October 1886 (initially as Dial Square)

Trophies won: 
First Division/Premier League: 13 times (last time was in 2003-04)
FA Cup: 14 times
EFL Cup: 2 times
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Once

Social media following: 
Twitter: 17.3m
Instagram: 19.2m
Facebook: 38.3m

Chelsea

The outlook for Chelsea changed dramatically in 2003, when Roman Abramovich became the new owner. Prior to the Russian's arrival, the Blues had one the top-flight title just once. They have been crowned Premier League champions five times since, however, and also enjoyed Champions League success in 2012. In overcoming Porto across two legs, they have reached the semi-finals of the competition this term for the first time since 2014.

Founded: March 1905

Trophies won:
First Division/Premier League: Six times 
FA Cup: Eight times
League Cup: Five times
Champions League: Once
Europa League: Twice 
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Twice
UEFA Super Cup: Once

Social media following: 
Twitter - 16.6m
Instagram - 25.9m
Facebook - 49.4m

Liverpool 

The Reds have a storied history, but there has been success in recent seasons under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp. No British club has won Europe's premier club competition more times than Liverpool, while the 2019-20 Premier League title triumph finally ended a 30-year wait to get back on their perch at home. However, they only featured in the Champions League once between the 2009-10 and 2017-18 campaigns, while their hopes of repeating their success of 2019 since lifting the trophy in Madrid have resulted in exits to Spanish opponents who also involved in the Super League. 

Founded: June 1892

Trophies won:
First Division/Premier League: 19 times
FA Cup: Seven times
League Cup: Eight times
Champions League: Six times
UEFA Cup: Three times
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Twice
UEFA Super Cup: Four times
FIFA Club World Cup: Once

Social media following: 
Twitter - 17m
Instagram - 30.5m
Facebook - 39.1m

Manchester City

The Premier League champions in waiting are on course to claim a third title with Pep Guardiola at the helm. However, City slipped down to the third tier of the English football pyramid as recently as 1998, while only became one of the powerhouses of the domestic game following the arrival of a new owner in Sheikh Mansour. They first appeared in the Champions League in 2011-12 and are yet to get beyond the semi-final stage, meaning the Cup Winners' Cup success in 1970 remains the club's only European trophy.

Founded: April 1894

Trophies won:
First Division/Premier League: Six times
FA Cup: Six times
League Cup: Seven times
European Cup Winners' Cup: Once

Social media following:
Twitter - 9.5m
Instagram - 23.3m
Facebook - 40.2m 

Manchester United

United were the dominant force in the Premier League era under Alex Ferguson, winning the title 13 times to overtake Liverpool's record tally. However, since their legendary manager departed, the Red Devils have not managed to add to their overall tally as 20-time top-flight champions. There was FA Cup success under Louis van Gaal - who was then sacked - and an EFL-Europa League double during Jose Mourinho's time in charge at Old Trafford. In the Champions League, United have only gone as far as the last eight since losing the 2011 final to a Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona.

Founded: 1902

Trophies won:
First Division/Premier League - 20 times
FA Cup - 12 times
League Cup - Five times
European Cup/Champions League - Three times
Europa League - Once
European Cup Winners' Cup - Once
European Super Cup - Once
FIFA Club World Cup - Once

Social media following:
Twitter - 25.1m
Instagram - 40.1m
Facebook - 73.2m

Tottenham

Now searching for a new manager following the dismissal of Jose Mourinho less than 24 hours after confirming their Super League involvement, Spurs' best-ever finish in a Premier League season came in 2016-17 when second behind champions Chelsea. There was a Champions League final appearance in 2019 too, though they missed out on glory when losing 1-0 to Liverpool. Indeed, Tottenham have not secured silverware since the League Cup triumph in 2008, while the most recent of their two top-flight league titles was way back in 1960-61.

Founded: 1882

Trophies won:
First Division - twice
FA Cup - eight times
League Cup - four times
UEFA Cup - twice
European Cup Winners' Cup - once

Social media following:
Twitter - 5.8m
Instagram - 10.2m
Facebook - 22.5m

THE REMAINING CLUBS INVOLVED

Atletico Madrid

A huge club in their own right, of that there is no doubt. But the last of Atleti's LaLiga title wins came in 2014, and that was only their second since 1977. Three times runners-up for Europe's greatest continental prize but as yet there has been no Champions League triumph for Atletico Madrid. While Diego Simeone has overseen a great period at Atleti, and the club has muscled into the fight with their more illustrious Clasico rivals, it should certainly be no shoo-in that Atleti deserve an automatic spot at this table.

Founded: April 1903

Trophies won:
LaLiga: 10 times
Copa del Rey: 10 times
Supercopa de Espana: Twice
Europa League: Three times
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Once
UEFA Super Cup: Three times

Social media following:
Twitter – 4.9m (Spanish account)
Instagram – 11.1m
Facebook - 13m

Barcelona

Another LaLiga heavyweight, boasting the talents of Lionel Messi of course, that would certainly not be out of place in a Super League, both in terms of history and trophies won. Barcelona's well-documented financial issues off the pitch may also offer a further explanation for the desire for a mind-boggling windfall. While Barca were beaten to LaLiga by Clasico rivals Madrid last term, they have already collected silverware this time around in the form of the Copa del Rey. Champions League success has not arrived since 2015 but Barca's credentials stand up to scrutiny.

Founded: March 1899

Trophies won:
LaLiga: 26 times
Copa del Rey: 31 times
Supercopa de Espana: 13 times
Champions League/European Cup: Five times
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Four times
UEFA Super Cup: Five times
Club World Cup: Three times

Social media following:
Twitter – 15m (Spanish account)
Instagram – 95.9m
Facebook - 103m

Inter

The Milan giants are a club rich in history, who have scaled the heights in European football.  But also another who have struggled to reach such past glories until this term – with Antonio Conte's side appearing primed to win a first Serie A title since 2010, the year Jose Mourinho oversaw a famous treble also comprising the Coppa Italia and Champions League. While some would dispute Inter's place in a Super League, the signs are the Nerazzurri are on the way back to consistently challenging among the elite.

Founded: March 1908

Trophies won:
Serie A: 18 times
Coppa Italia: Seven times
Supercoppa Italiana: Seven times
Champions League/European Cup: Three times
UEFA Cup: Three times
Club World Cup: Once

Social media following:
Twitter – 2.3m (Italian account)
Instagram – 6.5m
Facebook – 28m

Juventus

The Old Lady of Italian football. With 36 Serie A titles to their name, Juventus are the most successful club in the history of the Italian top flight. While the Bianconeri have not won the Champions League since 1996, they have been runners-up in 2015 and 2017 and no one can doubt the grandeur of this historic club. The past decade in Italy has been dominated by Juventus who have won nine titles in a row, but their quest for 10 has hit a bump as a side spearheaded by the evergreen Cristiano Ronaldo sits fourth in the maiden campaign of Andrea Pirlo.

Founded: November 1897

Trophies won:
Serie A: 36 times
Coppa Italia: 13 times
Supercoppa Italiana: Nine times
Champions League/European Cup: Twice
UEFA Cup/Europa League: Three times
UEFA Super Cup: Twice

Social media following:
Twitter – 9.1m (Italian account)
Instagram – 48.2m
Facebook – 45m

Milan

Once of the most revered and loved teams across the globe, the Rossoneri have fallen on hard times in recent years. Only Madrid can boast more than Milan's seven European/Champions League victories, while many of the all-time greats have donned the famous red and black jersey. But you have to go back to 2007 for the last time Milan were crowned champions of Europe, while 10 years have past since they lifted the Serie A title. Indeed, they have not even played in the Champions League since the 2013-14 campaign – albeit Stefano Pioli's men appeared destined to return to the competition this term.

Founded: 1899

Trophies won:
Serie A: 18 times
Coppa Italia: Five times
Supercoppa Italiana: Seven times
Champions League/European Cup: Seven times
European Cup Winners' Cup: Twice
UEFA Super Cup: Five times
Club World Cup: Once

Social media following:
Twitter – 7.7m
Instagram – 9.7m
Facebook – 24m

Real Madrid

While some of the teams in this controversial process may raise a few eyebrows, there is little doubt a club with the prestige of Real Madrid would not be involved. Record winners of the European Cup/Champions League on 13 occasions (the last of which coming as recently as 2018, the third in succession under Zinedine Zidane), and 34 times winners of LaLiga (including last season) there is little doubt Los Blancos are an established part of the European elite. This term, they are into the semi-finals of the Champions League and sit second in a tight race for the top flight title in Spain.

Founded: March 1902 (initially as Madrid football club)

Trophies won:
LaLiga: 34 times
Copa del Rey: 19 times
Supercopa de Espana: 11 times
Champions League/European Cup: 13 times
UEFA Cup: Twice
UEFA Super Cup: Four times
Club World Cup: Four times

Social media following:
Twitter – 36.8m (Spanish account)
Instagram – 97.1m
Facebook – 110m

Sunday's announcement of a long-feared European 'Super League' raised the possibility of unprecedented change in football, with the 12 founding clubs seemingly at threat of being kicked out of other competitions as a result.

The Premier League's so-called "big six", Spanish giants Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid and Serie A trio Juventus, Milan and Inter have broken ranks and agreed to the formation of the breakaway competition.

Sunday's uniform announcement from most of the clubs involved confirmed the Super League will be made up of 15 founding clubs – with three to be added to the initial 12 – and unconfirmed guest teams.

It will run as a midweek tournament alongside the teams' respective domestic leagues and guarantees the founding clubs a share of €3.5billion "solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the COVID pandemic".

But, pre-empting the announcement following widespread media speculation, UEFA released a statement co-signed by the national associations of England, Spain and Italy, and those countries' respective top-flight leagues. It reiterated a threat to ban players and teams involved from competing in other competitions.

While that is a debate that will rage on for some time, with the legality of such measures unclear for the moment, it raises the possibility of a Premier League without its "big six", a LaLiga missing Barcelona and Real Madrid, and Serie A expelling Juve, Milan and Inter.

With that in mind, we looked at what those three divisions would look like in the – admittedly unlikely – event that the 12 Super League clubs are expelled and results involving them are expunged…

Premier League

Who'd have thought in 2013 when he was appointed as Alex Ferguson's successor at Manchester United that David Moyes' first Premier League title would come as West Ham boss?

Well, if the "big six" were expelled and their results were void, it would be the Hammers sitting at the top of the pile – and by some distance.

Moyes' men would be on 49 points from 21 matches having suffered just two defeats.

Curiously, the exclusion of the Super League clubs would seemingly harm Leicester City, as they have lost just three matches to them in 2020-21 – West Ham have been beaten seven times by "big six" opposition.

Nevertheless, Leicester would still be on course to get back in the Champions League. Leeds United (1.8) and Everton (1.6) would appear to be the favourites to join them, by virtue of their better points-per-game record than Aston Villa (1.5).

LaLiga

Fair play to Real Betis, who have already embraced a future without Madrid, Atletico and Barcelona by deleting them from the Liga table that sits on their website.

Unfortunately for Betis, that same table now has their bitter rivals Sevilla sitting pretty at the summit.

In fact, Sevilla probably shouldn't be ruled out of the real title race just yet given they are actually only six points behind leaders Atletico and still have to face Zinedine Zidane's Madrid.

In our LaLiga table excluding the "big three", Sevilla have 60 points from 26 games, giving them a 13-point lead over Villarreal.

It also highlights just how bad Los Nervionenses' record against Madrid, Barca and Atletico is, as they have taken just four points from them this term.

Rounding off the top four would be Betis in third and Real Sociedad in fourth.

Serie A

Juventus' stranglehold on Serie A looks set to end regardless of any action from UEFA and the league. Having won each of the previous nine Scudetti, the Old Lady have been dire under Andrea Pirlo for much of the season.

So, helping establish a new semi-closed competition under the guise of needing better opponents is the logical step…

While Atalanta would sit top of a Serie A without Juve, Inter and Milan, technically it's Lazio who would be on course for title success.

The Biancocelesti have played a game less than Atalanta but would only be behind them on goal difference – their points-per-game record is 2.24, slightly more than the Bergamo side's 2.15.

Napoli (2.12) and Roma (1.96) would remain in the running as well were the "big three" to be dumped out of the competition.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has branded the planned European Super League as a "disgraceful, self-serving proposal" fuelled by greed, as well as confirming players from the 12 breakaway clubs involved will be banned from international football.

The 'big six' from the Premier League have collaborated with Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter, Juventus, Milan and Real Madrid to reveal plans for a new midweek club competition.

Those founder members would automatically qualify each season no matter where they finished in their respective domestic leagues.

Speaking during a conference call to reveal "dynamic" changes to UEFA's current European club tournaments, Ceferin made clear how results on the pitch should always decide who participates, rather than a "closed shop run by a greedy few".

"We began this project to modernise the competitions in 2019 judged by the principle it should be: an exercise in inclusive leadership," Ceferin told the media.

"At the start of the process, we were driven by a desire to help all UEFA club competitions into something even better than the spectacles we know today. With the unanimous support of the European Club Association (ECA), we consulted widely across the game.

"Teams will always qualify and compete in our competitions on merit, not a closed shop run by a greedy, select few. That was our decision from the beginning.

"Any club, any fans should still have the dream of participating in the Champions League based on their results on the pitch."

The European Super League plan has come in for widespread criticism and Ceferin did not hold back in his own assessment, as well making clear the ramifications it will have for players outside of club football.

"I must address the extraordinary situation that has developed on the eve of this announcement," he continued.

"I cannot stress more strongly at this moment that UEFA and the footballing world stand united against the disgraceful, self-serving proposal in the past 24 hours from a select few clubs in Europe that are fuelled purely by greed above all else.

"Not only is the football world united, but society is also united, governments are united. It's part of our culture – we are all united against this nonsense of a project.

"We have the English FA, Spanish Federation, Italian Federation, Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, and also FIFA and all our 55 member associations unanimous in opposition to this cynical plan that are completely against what football should be.

"Our game has become the greatest sport in the world based on open competition, integrity and sporting merit. We cannot allow, and we will not allow that to change, ever. Never.

"As previously announced by FIFA and the six confederations, the players that play in the teams that might play in the closed league, will be banned from playing in the World Cup and the Euros. They will not be able to represent their national teams in any matches."

UEFA announced plans for Champions League expansion that will see an increase to 36 teams as the present format -  whereby there are eight pools of four – will be scrapped.

Instead, each team will play 10 group games before advancing to a last-16 knockout format. The changes are due to be introduced for the 2024-25 season.

"Whoever thinks the Super League and UEFA are all about money is not right. Super League is only about money, money of the dozen – I don't want to call them the dirty dozen," Ceferin said. 

"UEFA is about developing football, about financing what should be financed, that our football and our culture survives. Some people do not understand it.

"The reforms preserve the value of the domestic game by retaining the principle that domestic performance should be the key to qualification – this should, and will not, ever change.

"The European game is the greatest success story of the modern sport, and there's a reason why – because of its pyramid, it's long history. We are constantly adapting the European competition to ensure it is more and more interesting, more and more modern, but the principles cannot change.

"Solidarity is something that cannot change, but for some people solidarity doesn't exist, unity doesn't exist. The only thing that exists is their pockets."

Diego Simeone is confident Atletico Madrid officials will do what is best for the club amid talk of a new European Super League.

Reports emerged on Sunday claiming that 12 clubs – including LaLiga leaders Atleti – will compete in the new competition, a rival to the UEFA Champions League. 

Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Milan and Inter are said to be the other sides involved, though the proposal reportedly includes an expansion option to 16 or 18 teams.

UEFA responded strongly, insisting it will do everything in its power to block the plans, including banning the 12 clubs from their own competitions, while there has also been a suggestion that players involved may not be allowed to represent their countries on the international stage.

Speaking after his side's 5-0 thumping of rock-bottom Eibar on Sunday, Simeone said he had no doubts any decision made by Atleti would have the club's best interests at heart.

"We are prepared to train the clubs," he told a media conference. "Our club will make the best decision for our future.

"I am a coach and I am prepared to train wherever they tell me. I have no doubt that the club will decide what is best for us."

Atleti tightened their grip at the LaLiga summit with a clinical win over Eibar, who did not register a single shot.

Angel Correa put Atleti 2-0 up at the interval – his first brace in 273 games across all competitions for the club – before Yannick Carrasco added a third shortly after the interval.

Marcos Llorente then added a double of his own to wrap up all three points in style, the Spaniard's first helping him reach 10 LaLiga goals in a season for the first time in his career.

It marked just Atleti's fifth win in their past 12 LaLiga matches, but they still have a slender advantage over neighbours Real Madrid and Barcelona as they bid to win a first title since the 2013-14 season.

Atleti did not have a shot on goal until the 34th minute and Simeone was pleased with his side's renewed dynamism after the interval.

"Goals always generate enthusiasm and energy," he added. "The second half was not the same as the first; we were much more dynamic, precise, with more movements. Energy and winning always gives you strength.

"The most important thing is to be able to win. It is what gives you peace of mind for the next day."

Correa has now been involved in 17 goals this season across all competitions (six goals, 11 assists) – just one behind his best ever return for Atleti in a single season (18 in 2016-17 and 2017-18).

Simeone was pleased with the Argentina international's contribution after a season which has seen him feature in every LaLiga game.

"We have been working together for many years," Simeone said. "We understand when to talk and when to leave the footballer alone and the numbers speak for themselves in the confidence we have in him; he is the only one who has participated in all the games of the season."

Atletico Madrid tightened their grip at the LaLiga summit after cruising to a 5-0 win over rock-bottom Eibar at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Los Colchoneros' bid for a first top-flight title since the 2013-14 season had faltered in recent weeks, but just a second win in six games keeps them a step ahead of neighbours Real Madrid. This result meant Real stood four points behind Atletico heading into a clash with Getafe later on Sunday.

Diego Simeone's home side were poor for much of the first half, yet Angel Correa struck twice shortly before the interval to give them a healthy lead.

Yannick Carrasco and Marcos Llorente added gloss to the scoreline in the second half as Atleti extended their unbeaten home run over Eibar to seven matches.

Despite a dismal start, which did not herald a shot until the 34th minute, Atleti went in at the break two goals to the good.

Correa opened the scoring in the 42nd minute, prodding in at the back post after Hector Herrera headed on Kieran Trippier's corner.

The man who made the breakthrough grabbed a second goal just two minutes later, superbly turning Anaitz Arbilla after collecting Carrasco's pass before slotting past Marko Dmitrovic from close range for his sixth goal of the season.

The hosts extended their advantage four minutes after the restart, Carrasco latching onto Saul Niguez's long ball over the top, rounding Dmitrovic and rolling into an empty net.

Correa turned provider for Atleti's fourth in the 53rd minute, his low pull-back into the middle of the penalty expertly dispatched by Llorente into Dmitrovic's bottom-right corner.

Llorente scored his 11th LaLiga goal of the season in the 68th minute, controlling Carrasco's pass before firing a half-volley past a hopelessly exposed Dmitrovic as Atleti sealed all three points in style.

A new defender appears to be at the forefront of Manchester United's planning.

The Premier League giants have been linked with a host of centre-backs.

But they could turn to a familiar club to bolster their defence.

 

TOP STORY – ANOTHER LEICESTER DEFENDER SET FOR OLD TRAFFORD?

Manchester United are eyeing Leicester City defender Wesley Fofana, according to Foot Mercato.

United are targeting a new partner for former Leicester star Harry Maguire – the world's most expensive centre-back – amid links to RB Leipzig's Ibrahima Konate, Sevilla's Jules Kounde, Villarreal defender Pau Torres and Real Madrid pair Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane.

Fofana only joined Leicester from Saint-Etienne at the start of the season and is contracted until 2025.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano says Konate remains one of Liverpool's top transfer targets. Liverpool are reportedly preparing a five-year contract.

Arsenal are targeting Rennes and France sensation Eduardo Camavinga, reports Marca. The 18-year-old midfielder, who has already rejected a contract extension, has been linked with Madrid, United and Paris Saint-Germain.

- Inter's Martin Satriano is attracting interest from Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea, PSG and Leipzig, claims the Daily Mail.

- Tottenham are considering a move for Barcelona's Emerson, says Mundo Deportivo. The 22-year-old is currently on loan at Real Betis amid links with Inter and PSG.

Atletico Madrid are eyeing Juventus sensation Nicolo Rovella and Udinese's Nahuel Molina, according to Mundo Deportivo.

- Gazzetta dello Sport reports Milan have enquired about Lille goalkeeper Mike Maignan as the Serie A side consider alternatives to Gianluigi Donnarumma should he fail to sign a contract extension. Meanwhile, SportItalia says Milan have offered Inter full-back Danilo D'Ambrosio a two-year deal. The Italian is out of contract at season's end.

Erling Haaland might be too expensive a purchase for some of football's richest clubs. 

The Borussia Dortmund sensation is on everyone's wish list.

The question is who will be willing to meet his reported demands?

 

TOP STORY - LALIGA GIANTS PRICED OUT OF HAALAND MOVE?

Haaland's apparent desire for a €35million annual salary has the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid thinking twice about a potential move, Goal reported. 

The prolific 20-year-old's agent, Mino Raiola, has held informal discussions with both LaLiga stalwarts but the sides did not get into specifics about finances. 

For now it appears Barca and Madrid are content to wait it out and see how Haaland's market unfolds. 

That is not the case for another potential suitor. According to Goal, an unnamed English club that made inquiries about the Leeds-born striker earlier this year has backed away from talks due to that salary figure. 

The mystery team is not Chelsea, who consider Haaland their top target according to an Evening Standard report. 

 

ROUND-UP

- While the Blues can hope to land the high-flying Norwegian, Timo Werner may be on the way out. Though the Evening Standard reports Chelsea have not yet seriously discussed selling him, it is not clear how he fits into the Blues' strike force at the moment.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is out of contract with AC Milan this summer and has had talks with Juventus, per La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Manchester United have coveted Nikola Milenkovic and may be ready to make a move for the Fiorentina defender, though The Sun says United would not be interested at the rumoured £38m fee. 

- United also want Edinson Cavani to have another season at Old Trafford, but at age 34 he might want to move closer to home. Boca Juniors would offer him a two-year deal, says Fabrizio Romano. 

- Watford are prepared to bring Ashley Young back to the club should they return to the Premier League next season, the Daily Mail says. Young's contract with Inter is expiring.

- After a loan spell with Paris Saint-GermainAlessandro Florenzi could be in line to play in Italy with Inter next season rather than returning to Roma, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported. 

- Luis Suarez appears likely to remain with Atletico Madrid, but there is a possibility he could rekindle last year's reported talks with David Beckham's Inter Miami. The American side's interest in the Uruguayan "has not stopped," according to Mundo Deportivo. 

- One player not headed anywhere is Karim Benzema, who Marca reports will sign to remain with Real Madrid through 2023.

Jesse Lingard has been in blistering form during his six-month loan spell at West Ham.

As a result, speculation is rife over the 28-year-old England international's future.

Lingard is contracted with parent club Manchester United for one more season.

 

TOP STORY - EUROPEAN GIANTS CIRCLE FOR LINGARD

European powerhouse clubs Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Inter are all interested in Lingard, claims ESPN.

Lingard has scored eight goals in nine games for the Hammers, who are surprisingly sitting fourth in the Premier League.

ESPN reports those clubs are monitoring Lingard's situation, with West Ham keen to sign him permanently and the player yet to declare a preference, although it is believed he wants to play  Champions League football.

 

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- Serbia international Sergei Milinkovic-Savic has garnered interest from European giants Manchester United, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The midfielder is contracted with Lazio until 2024.

- Manchester United may have missed out on Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho last off-season but they are set to revive their interest, says the Manchester Evening News.

- Calciomercato reports that French winger Ousmane Dembele is open to joining Juventus from Barcelona in the next transfer window.

- Tottenham are making their move to sign off-contract Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng, reports Sky Germany.

- Arsenal have joined the race to sign Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard, alongside Leicester City, according to the Telegraph.

- Tuttosport says Torino's Italy international forward Andrea Belotti is being courted by Chelsea, Everton, AC Milan and Atletico Madrid.

- Fiorentina want to hire Gennaro Gattuso from Napoli as their next coach, claims Sky Sport Italia. Gattuso is out of contract at Napoli at the end of the season.

Where will Kylian Mbappe be playing next season is a question being asked across Europe.

The Paris Saint-Germain star has been tipped to join Real Madrid.

Should Mbappe depart Paris, PSG are reportedly drawing up a list of replacements.

 

TOP STORY – KANE AND SALAH WANTED IN PARIS

Paris Saint-Germain have set their sights on Tottenham forward Harry Kane and Liverpool star Mohamed Salah as possible replacements for Kylian Mbappe, according to Telefoot.

Mbappe has been heavily linked with LaLiga champions Real Madrid, though PSG remain in negotiations over a contract extension.

While PSG are still hopeful, the Ligue 1 holders are eyeing the Premier League should Mbappe leave the French capital.

Kane is reportedly wanted by Manchester United and Manchester City, while Salah has previously been linked with Madrid and Barcelona.

 

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- Calciomercato reports Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid are chasing Inter midfielder Nicolo Barella. The Sun adds Chelsea are also interested in the Italy star.

Juventus and PSG could exchange Mauro Icardi and Paulo Dybala in a swap deal, says Corriere dello Sport. Icardi's future is up in the air, despite only joining PSG permanently from Inter last year, while countryman Dybala is reportedly nearing an exit.

- AS Diario claims United are keeping tabs on Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres, who has also been linked with neighbours City. United have also been credited with interest in Sevilla defender Jules Kounde, RB Leipzig's Liverpool target Ibrahima Konate as well as Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and team-mate Raphael Varane.

- Eintracht Frankfurt boss Adi Hutter is set to replace outgoing boss Marco Rose at Borussia Monchengladbach, reports Kicker. Rose is poised to take charge of Borussia Dortmund.

Diego Simeone called on hobbling Atletico Madrid to "resist" in their LaLiga title hunt as the club's injuries pile up following a 1-1 draw with Real Betis.

Atletico returned to the top of the table, ahead of defending champions Real Madrid and Barcelona, after sharing the spoils at Betis in a thrilling encounter on Sunday.

Yannick Carrasco scored their quickest goal of the season, timed at four minutes, 36 seconds, for Atletico. However, Cristian Tello struck back for European hopefuls Betis 15 minutes later.

Already without Luis Suarez, Marcos Llorente, Moussa Dembele and Geoffrey Kondogbia due to injury, Atletico saw star Joao Felix suffer an ankle injury, while full-back Kieran Trippier had to be replaced with a back injury.

As the injuries mount, Atletico head coach Simeone said: "In the second half we suffered. But I have footballers who give everything.

"We are in a moment of resistance. Resist, that's a word that appeals to me. Resist, like all of society in these difficult times."

Chasing four home wins in a row for the first time since April 2018, Betis had the better of the second half, though Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak stood firm when called upon and his counterpart Claudio Bravo made a superb late stop from Angel Correa to preserve a deserved point.

Atletico have scored 52 goals after 30 league games this season (1.73 goals per game). The last LaLiga winner with as few or fewer goals at this stage of the season were Fabio Capello's Real Madrid in 2006-07 (42 goals).

Correa has delivered 10 assists in all competitions this term, equalling the best tally in his six seasons at Atletico (level with 2016-17 campaign). The Argentinian has scored only four goals, however, which is his lowest tally at this stage of the season.

Oblak has made at least three saves in the last four games for Atletico across all competitions (14 saves on aggregate, four against Betis) – his longest run with at least three saves this season.

Simeone added: "We will see what happens, all the teams have a moment of irregularity and hopefully we have passed it after today's draw.

"We have maintained a firm and strong step this season as both Madrid and Barcelona have begun to recover so we will wait and see."

Atletico Madrid returned to the top of LaLiga, though only by a point, as they drew 1-1 with Real Betis in a thrilling encounter.

Real Madrid leapfrogged their neighbours into top spot with Saturday's Clasico triumph over Barcelona, and in response Diego Simeone's Atletico made an ideal start against Betis on Sunday.

Yannick Carrasco scored their quickest goal of the season, timed at four minutes and 36 seconds. However, Cristian Tello struck back for European hopefuls Betis 15 minutes later, directing a wonderful volley into the bottom-right corner.

Chasing four home wins in a row for the first time since April 2018, Betis had the better of the second half, though Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak stood firm when called upon and his counterpart Claudio Bravo made a superb late stop from Angel Correa to preserve a deserved point.

An enthralling clash started full of promise. Joao Felix's delightful flick played in Correa, who beat the onrushing goalkeeper and squeezed a neat pass into Carrasco for a simple finish into an empty net.

Saul Niguez directed a close-range header straight at Bravo soon after, and Atleti were swiftly made to pay – Alex Moreno's cross brilliantly steered home by Tello.

Carrasco made a vital, goal-saving challenge on Emerson as half-time approached, and the Atleti scorer was in the thick of it again as he drilled into the side-netting from the resulting counter.

Having sustained a knock while on international duty with Portugal in March, Joao Felix was forced off injured here after a collision with Tello three minutes into the second half.

Atleti's frustration was almost compounded when Emerson met Nabil Fekir's cross, but Oblak was alert to the full-back's header.

Jose Gimenez made an outstanding block to deny Aitor Ruibal, but it was the ever-reliable Oblak who proved Atleti's saviour.

Diego Lainez seemed all set to strike at the culmination of a sweeping Betis move, yet Oblak made a stunning save low to his left as Atleti went back to the top of the pile – Bravo's stoppage-time efforts at the other end denying the visitors all three points.

Manchester United's goalkeeper situation remains unclear beyond this season.

David de Gea has been linked with the Old Trafford exit door while Dean Henderson is yet to fully convince some observers he is a worthy number one.

Thus speculation is mounting about a Red Devils move for a new shot-stopper.

 

TOP STORY - UNITED CIRCLE FOR OBLAK

Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak is reportedly wanted by Manchester United who are said to have a long-standing interest in the Slovenian.

Oblak has spent almost seven years in the Spanish capital but is ready to move to England, according to 90min.

The report claims United have doubts about Henderson as number one and subsequently are exploring their options with 28-year-old Oblak.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus and Paulo Dybala will enter negotiations on a new deal in May, reports Tuttosport.

- 90min reports that Liverpool want to utilise their option to sign Ozan Kabak permanently, having acquired the defender on loan from Schalke in February.

- Calciomercato claims that Barcelona are plotting a move for Juventus defender Cristian Romero who is currently on loan at Atalanta.

- Galatasaray have offered Crystal Palace defender Patrick van Aanholt a three-year deal, according to Sky Sports.

- Tottenham are top in the race to sign West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, claims ESPN.

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