Luis Suarez was the hero as LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid overcame Eibar 2-1 thanks to the Uruguay striker's late penalty.

Suarez had struck his 10th league goal of the season in the 40th minute of Thursday's contest, restoring parity after Eibar had taken an early lead through an unlikely source.

With Yannick Carrasco penalised for bundling into Yoshinori Muto, it was Eibar goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic who confidently converted the resultant spot-kick.

Yet Dmitrovic could not save a penalty at the other end, Suarez chipping home to secure a somewhat undeserved victory after he was felled needlessly by Anaitz Arbilla.

For a player who had never previously scored a senior goal, Dmitrovic showed little hesitation in grabbing the ball after Carrasco was adjudged to have fouled Muto.

His confidence was not misplaced, the goalkeeper calmly sending counterpart Jan Oblak the wrong way with a cool left-footed finish.

Dmitrovic was almost embarrassed 11 minutes later when he struggled to collect a looping ball on his line, though Stefan Savic's foul spared his blushes, before Angel Correa hit the crossbar with a wicked volley.

Yet Atleti did hit back before the break, Suarez thumping in from a tight angle following Sergio Alvarez's mistake to bring up his 11th LaLiga goal against Eibar.

Diego Simeone made a double change at half-time – Joao Felix and Lucas Torreira introduced – though Kike Garcia might have restored Eibar's lead if not for Oblak's brave lunge.

Atleti finally gained a foothold after Pedro Bigas headed over from close range, though it looked like Dmitrovic's save from Joao Felix would be enough to earn Eibar a point.

It was not to be, however, with Arbilla's clumsy tackle on Suarez handing the former Barcelona star a chance to wrap up the win – an opportunity he took in typically composed fashion.

 

Leandro Paredes hopes Lionel Messi can be convinced to leave Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain.

The Ligue 1 champions' sporting director Leonardo confirmed on Monday that the club are keeping a close eye on Messi's plans.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner is in the final six months of his contract at Camp Nou and could decide to leave on a free transfer after this season, having failed to engineer an exit in 2020.

Paredes would love his compatriot to move to the Parc des Princes, telling reporters on Thursday: "It's natural to want him on your team. But that will be his decision.

"It's the club's responsibility to try to convince him. I hope we can have him with us. But, I repeat, it's his decision."

Paredes is already enjoying working with another fellow countryman at PSG in the shape of Mauricio Pochettino.

The former Tottenham boss took over from Thomas Tuchel this month and has enjoyed an encouraging start, winning three of his first four games in charge including the Trophee des Champions clash with Marseille last week.

Paredes has sensed a sharpening of effort in training and feels Pochettino has inspired a change in mentality.

"Having a coach of the same nationality helps," he said. "We share the same ideas. We get along well. We have to make the most of that.

"Every coach has his ideas, brings his own energy. The mentality is different for us now. We have new options in the game. There is more intensity in training."

Paredes, who joined from Zenit for a reported €40.2million in January 2019, has established himself as more of a first-team regular at PSG this season.

The 26-year-old has started seven league games this term, just one down on his same tally from 2019-20.

Paredes has the second-highest passing accuracy (91.7 per cent) of any of PSG's midfielders to play in at least seven games this season in all competitions.

He also averages just over two interceptions per 90 minutes, the best rate among his team-mates in his position.

"Getting to a club like PSG is never easy. The first six months were difficult but I feel good today," he said.

"I will stay, I hope, for many years. I'm happy in Paris with these team-mates."

FIFA has warned that any player competing in a European Super League would become ineligible to take part in World Cups, European Championships or the Champions League.

Amid speculation that the biggest clubs from the Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 are keen on forming a breakaway competition, football's world governing body has taken a strong stance against such ideas.

A joint statement from FIFA and the six continental federations read: "In light of recent media speculation about the creation of a closed European 'Super League' by some European clubs, FIFA and the six confederations (AFC, CAF, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL, OFC and UEFA) once again would like to reiterate and strongly emphasise that such a competition would not be recognised by either FIFA or the respective confederation.

"Any club or player involved in such a competition would as a consequence not be allowed to participate in any competition organised by FIFA or their respective confederation.

"As per the FIFA and confederation statutes, all competitions should be organised or recognised by the relevant body at their respective level, by FIFA at the global level and by the confederations at the continental level.

"In this respect, the confederations recognise the Club World Cup, in its current and new format, as the only worldwide club competition, while FIFA recognises the club competitions organised by the confederations as the only club continental competitions.

"The universal principles of sporting merit, solidarity, promotion and relegation, and subsidiarity are the foundation of the football pyramid that ensures football's global success and are, as such, enshrined in the FIFA and confederation statutes.

"Football has a long and successful history thanks to these principles. Participation in global and continental competitions should always be won on the pitch."

It was reported in October that FIFA were hoping to create a closed 18-team tournament that would be dubbed the 'European Premier League'.

However, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said he was "not interested" in the idea and felt the existing Club World Cup had greater potential.

Prior to his resignation as Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed at a news conference that he had accepted a proposal for the club to join the proposed European Super League.

Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid found no sympathy on the front pages of the Spanish sports press on Thursday after their shock Copa del Rey exit to third-tier Alcoyano.

The future of coach Zidane is back under the spotlight after the painful extra-time defeat that saw Juanan score in the 115th minute to earn a famous 2-1 victory.

Marca's front page showed Zidane, head bowed, walking away from the scene of one of Madrid's worst cup defeats.

Its headline said: "No one escapes this embarrassment."

Tumbling out to opposition from Segunda Division B was all the more pitiful given Alcoyano had been reduced to 10 men before they snatched their late winner.

In an editorial, Marca's Hugo Cerezo said the loss revealed a "deep crisis" at Madrid and claimed that Zidane's position was at serious risk.

"If he is saved from this, it is a miracle," wrote Cerezo. "His position now hangs by a thread, on the edge of the abyss."

Marca reported elsewhere on its website that Madrid directors hope to avoid making major decisions now and to hang on until the end of the season.

Zidane said after the game that it had been "another painful day" but that he believed the players still backed his leadership.

Having also lost in the semi-finals of the Supercopa to Athletic Bilbao last week, Madrid are having a grim time of it.

AS described Madrid's exit in much the same way as its fellow Madrid-based newspaper Marca, with a headline of "Embarrassment" followed by subheadings of "Second title gone in a week for Los Blancos" and "Zidane is hurt".

The Barcelona-based Mundo Deportivo said the setback "opens another crisis" for Zidane, with its headline of "Humiliation" accompanied by scenes of joy among the Alcoyano players.

Columnist Josep M Artells wrote of "another embarrassment" and said critics would again look to Zidane, adding: "His management is more in question than ever."

Sport, another Barcelona daily operating out of Barcelona, also chose a single-word headline - going with 'Castanazo', a word which can mean great slap or punch.

That was reflected in the words of pundit Cristobal Soria, who on television show El Chiringuito said: "Today is a historic day, we are witnessing the biggest ridicule in the history of Real Madrid."

Inter star Lautaro Martinez's future could be closer to being sorted, while Frank Lampard is under enormous pressure.

After impressing at Inter, Martinez, 23, has been strongly linked with a move to Barcelona.

The Argentina international is contracted at Inter until 2023, but that could be set to change.

 

TOP STORY – INTER OPTIMISTIC OVER MARTINEZ RENEWAL

Inter are optimistic about reaching an agreement for a new contract with Lautaro Martinez, according to Sky Sport.

The report says Martinez's agents met with Inter on Wednesday.

Martinez has scored nine goals in 18 Serie A games this season, having netted 14 in 35 in the league in 2019-20, leading to interest from Barcelona.

 

ROUND-UP

- As Chelsea's struggles continue, Lampard is under growing pressure as head coach. Sky Sports reports the former England international will lose his job unless results improve immediately. Chelsea have lost five of their past eight Premier League games to slip to eighth in the table. The Independent, meanwhile, reports Chelsea are not interested in an interim replacement. Former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel, RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann, Southampton's Ralph Hasenhuttl and ex-Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri have been linked.

- Previously linked to Arsenal, Houssem Aouar may be looking elsewhere if he leaves Lyon. ESPN claims the midfielder is eager to join Barcelona or Real Madrid.

- Set to stay at Manchester City until the end of the season, Eric Garcia has been linked with a move to Barcelona when his deal expires in June. However, Mundo Deportivo says PSG are planning a move for the defender.

- Arsenal could make moves in January. Sky Sports reports they have approached Real Madrid about a move for Martin Odegaard, while Cuatro claims Sevilla are hoping to loan the midfielder.

Zinedine Zidane insisted there was no shame in Real Madrid's shock loss to third-tier side Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey.

Madrid were stunned by the Segunda Division B outfit in the last 32 as Juanan scored a 115th-minute winner on Wednesday.

Jose Solbes had earlier cancelled out Eder Militao's opener and Alcoyano found a winner despite Ramon Lopez's red card in extra time.

But Madrid head coach Zidane dismissed suggestions the defeat was shameful for the LaLiga champions.

"Those are your words. Those words, they do not belong to me," he told a news conference.

"This is football, difficult things because it's true that we play against a Segunda B team and we need to win the match normally, but at the end it hasn't been like that and this does not mean that this is a shame. It can happen and it happens sometimes in a footballer's career and responsibility must be assumed. I completely do.

"We will keep working … another painful day because we don't like to lose and overall for the players, because they just want to win. We won't get crazy now, let's think and keep working."

Excluding the defeat to Cadiz in 2015 for an illegal line-up, Madrid were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by a lower-league side for the first time since 2009.

No goalkeeper has made more saves than Jose Juan Figueras (10) in a game against Madrid this season as Zidane's men suffered back-to-back cup losses.

Asked if the players still believed in him, Zidane said: "Yes, I believe so. Then you have to ask them.

"We work, we try and lately we have done good things even though lately a bit less, but apart from the last three or four games, I believe that we have done good things this season.

"Now we have to think on LaLiga and the Champions League and that's it. To focus because things can be done. But if the players are still touched by my message? You have to ask the players. I believe so and we are in the same boat here."

Zinedine Zidane accepted Real Madrid's stunning Copa del Rey exit to third-tier Alcoyano will lead to further speculation over his future, but insisted he remained "very calm" over the situation.

Madrid were knocked out of the competition by lower league opponents for the first time since 2009 despite taking the lead on Wednesday, Eder Militao heading them in front on the stroke of half-time.

However, the reigning top-flight champions in Spain were unable to build on the lead, meaning an 80th-minute equaliser from Jose Solbes forced extra time.

A penalty shoot-out seemed the likely method to settle the last-32 tie, only for Juanan to pop up with a dramatic late winner that will no doubt increase the growing pressure on Zidane.

"When you lose there is always talk, I take responsibility and whatever has to happen will happen," the Madrid boss told the media in his post-match interview. 

"I am very calm. The players wanted to win the game, they try and sometimes different things happen."

Zidane rested some of his regulars but still selected a strong starting XI, while Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos, Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard were all introduced from the bench during proceedings.

The Frenchman could not fault the effort of his players as he accepted blame for the result; Alcoyano finished the game with 10 men too, Ramon Lopez sent off before Juanan's 115th-minute strike.

Madrid finished up having 26 shots - 11 of which were on target - and had 73 per cent of possession, yet still crashed out.

"The players have tried and if we score the second goal it is another match, football is like that," Zidane added after the 2-1 loss.

"The goalkeeper has made two or three saves and we have not scored the second goal, but I take responsibility. We are out."

He added: "This is football, it is very difficult because we played against a Segunda Division B team and we have to win the game, but it has not been like that.

"It can happen, it happens, these are things that happen in a football career. I assume responsibility and we will continue working. We will not go crazy."

Madrid must quickly put the cup result behind them as they continue their LaLiga title defence on Saturday, travelling to Deportivo Alaves.

Barcelona will sign Eric Garcia for free after the end of the season, presidential candidate Toni Freixa says.

The centre-back has been tipped to return to Camp Nou, where he was a youth player until 2017, since telling City last year he would not be signing a new contract.

It has been suggested Barca could look to bring in Garcia this month to bolster their defence, but Freixa suggested January incomings are highly unlikely due to their financial problems.

Instead, the 20-year-old Spain international is expected to join after his contract expires this year.

Speaking after a meeting with the interim Barca board and other presidential candidates, Freixa was quoted by Sport as saying: "We've valued the signing of Eric Garcia, but he will arrive in the summer when the season ends and he's available for free."

Freixa, who is running for president against favourite Joan Laporta and Victor Font, says head coach Ronald Koeman has not made any demands for the present transfer window.

Indeed, spending is highly unlikely given the major impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the club's finances.

Barca posted pre-tax losses of €100million last season, with debt more than doubling to €488m, as a 24-per-cent reduction in matchday revenues and a drop in merchandise sales took a huge toll.

The senior players agreed to a wage cut to help reduce costs and prevent club staff being made redundant, which helped to save €74m, but investment in the squad this year remains difficult.

"Koeman has not demanded anything," said Freixa. "He's only stated what is needed. We talked about what to do, and in the current situation, we cannot spend.

"The situation of the club is what it is. What we all know is that it's a critical situation as a result of the stadium being closed and we can't generate income as we normally did.

"But it's not an alarming situation that requires us to take an extraordinary decision."

Freixa added that the elections are due to be held on March 7, having been postponed this month to avoid the risk of members travelling to polling stations amid rising coronavirus cases across Spain.

"They've explained to us that the implementation of postal voting won't allow for the voting date to be earlier than March 7. Therefore, it's set for that date," he said.

Dani Ceballos knows only too well why Martin Odegaard has become frustrated at Real Madrid, insisting ambitious young players "need to play regularly" to further their development.

Odegaard impressed last season during a loan spell at LaLiga rivals Real Sociedad, yet he has struggled for minutes this term having returned to Madrid.

The Norway international has started just five games in all competitions and clocked up a mere 233 league minutes, leading to reports in Spain that he wants to leave in the January transfer window.

Ceballos himself is spending a second season on loan at Arsenal, a decision taken to make sure he had a greater opportunity for first-team action.

"I don't know exactly what happens with Martin, but it is obvious that any player who wants to succeed at Madrid is going to grab the opportunity he has," Ceballos said in an interview with Efe.

"I don't know what Martin thinks, but I know I think that when you're young and you have goals and objectives, what you need is to play regularly.

"If you don't, it's like something is missing. I guess that's what's happening to Martin."

Odegaard has failed to score or assist in his nine appearances for Madrid this season, having contributed seven goals and nine assists in 2019-20 while away on loan.

The 22-year-old has been linked with a return to Sociedad, potentially in a loan deal that includes an option to buy.

Ceballos, meanwhile, has not given up hope of forcing his way in at Madrid, though will need assurances over his future role if he is to remain in the Spanish capital next season.

"They don't have to tell me anything," the midfielder - who has won 11 caps for Spain - said of his own future. 

"It would be to have a talk with the coach and the coaching staff that is in at that moment and know that I will have equal opportunities with him.

"From there, you have to earn it on the field."

Ceballos has played in 24 games for Arsenal this term under Mikel Arteta, his most recent start coming in the 0-0 home draw with Crystal Palace on January 14.

Diego Simeone insists he is having no problem getting his message across to new signing Moussa Dembele thanks to the French language speakers already at Atletico Madrid.

Dembele joined Atletico on loan from Lyon last week until the end of the season, at which point LaLiga's leaders will have the option to buy him permanently for €33.5m.

The former Celtic striker has scored just once in 16 Ligue 1 appearances this season but comes in to bolster Atlei's forward line following the departure of Diego Costa.

Simeone has been impressed by Dembele's initial efforts in training, something he conceded has been made easier by the presence of Thomas Lemar, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Yannick Carrasco.

"Dembele just arrived a few days ago and he is trying to settle into the group," Simeone said ahead of Thursday's trip to Eibar, one of Atletico's games in hand on Real Madrid that could see them extend their advantage at the summit to seven points.

"Thankfully he has team-mates like Kondogbia, Carrasco and Lemar who are close to him and doing translations in order to make the communication quicker.

"We will have time to let him know what we want from him exactly, in the meantime we let him to settle in the best way with his  team-mates.

"I see him excited and happy. He is a number nine and we expect from him all the good we saw in him to bring him to Atletico Madrid."

Dembele's presence could further hinder Joao Felix's chances of getting back into Simeone's starting XI.

The record signing was a substitute in each of Atleti's past two LaLiga encounters and has not found the net since the 1-1 draw against Bayern Munich in the Champions League on December 1.

Nevertheless, Simeone remains satisfied with the Portugal international's contributions.

"I ask Joao the same as always - to be involved in the group, as he is. Being competitive, as he has been in the last games," he added.

"He didn’t start the game, but he was important for the team from other positions. When he got in, he showed all his talent and quality. The team needs his skills."

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman has dismissed comments by Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo confirming they would be interested in signing Lionel Messi.

Leonardo said on Monday PSG have a seat "reserved" at the table of clubs who are "following closely" the developments around Messi's future.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner is in the final six months of his Barca contract and could leave on a free transfer after this season.

Koeman, though, thinks it is normal for top players to be coveted by other clubs, saying he could never claim to have no interest in having PSG's star forwards at his disposal.

"If you ask me if I'm interested in Neymar and [Kylian] Mbappe, I'd say yes," he told reporters on Wednesday. "I don't know what will happen in the future; I can't give an opinion on those. We try to have the best squad possible."

Messi is serving a two-match ban for his red card in Barca's Supercopa de Espana final defeat to Athletic Bilbao, although the club are appealing against the punishment.

"The club told me it's two games, the club doesn't agree [with the sanction] and we'll see," said Koeman. "There are things that can be defended and hopefully they reduce the sanction. If not, we play two games without Leo.

"We've trained, Leo has trained with a lot of eagerness and I haven't seen anything odd. Everyone is sad for the Supercopa result, but we're on the road to better things, above all defensively. Leo is right in the middle of this."

Barca face a Copa del Rey clash at Cornella, the team that shocked LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid in the previous round, on Thursday.

Sergino Dest and Sergi Roberto are sidelined with minor injury problems and Koeman says further first-team regulars will be rested given both Barca games at the Supercopa went to extra time.

"For them, it's the game of the year and for us it's the next one to be ready for. We have to go through because we're Barcelona. It depends a lot on mentality," he said.

"We're angry, it's normal. We have to be like that because we had the Supercopa close and they equalised in the last minute.

"I think we're on a good path - I think so, at least. And we have to keep moving forward. There are players with knocks but it's normal after two matches in extra time and two flights.

"We're going to make changes. We'll see tomorrow [how many]. We want to put out a strong team and, above all, a team that's strong mentally."

Could Harry Kane land in Paris?

With Kylian Mbappe tipped to join Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly eyeing replacements.

Mauricio Pochettino has a familiar face in mind…

 

TOP STORY – POCH WANTS KANE IF MBAPPE LEAVES

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino wants to sign Tottenham striker Harry Kane, according to El Chiringuito de Jugones.

That is if PSG star Kylian Mbappe leaves the Ligue 1 champions for LaLiga holders Real Madrid.

Pochettino coached Kane for five years at Tottenham before he was sacked by Spurs in November 2019.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sky Sport Germany claims Bayern Munich star David Alaba will not decide on his future until he has spoken to Barcelona. Marca reported that Madrid had struck a deal to sign Alaba on a free transfer at the end of the season. However, Alaba is reportedly holding out for Barca as the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and PSG try to lure the Austria international.

Martin Odegaard has asked to leave Madrid on loan due to his lack of game time, reports Marca and Diario AS.

Romelu Lukaku has no intention of leaving Inter for City, says Express Sport. Lukaku spent two years at United before moving to Italy in 2019. Pep Guardiola's City have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland amid doubts over Sergio Aguero's future.

- Mundo Deportivo claims Manchester City defender Eric Garcia could join Barca this month or at the end of the season.

Milan are eyeing Barca's Junior Firpo on loan, while Serie A rivals Napoli are also interested, according to Calciomercato.

- Eurosport reports Tottenham are looking to prise Danny Ings away from Southampton. Ings is reportedly stalling on a new contract as he eyes a Champions League club.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino heaped praise on Kylian Mbappe amid doubts over his future with the Ligue 1 champions, though he was reluctant to discuss Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

Mbappe has been tipped to join LaLiga champions Real Madrid, but PSG remain committed to trying to re-sign the star forward – who is out of contract in 2022.

The 22-year-old has gone four matches without a goal, while he has managed just two goals in his last eight appearances for league leaders PSG.

Pochettino was asked about the possible renewal of World Cup winner Mbappe, who has scored 12 goals in 16 Ligue 1 appearances this term and 14 across all competitions.

"The club are working on retaining the best and he has a huge future ahead of him," Pochettino – who was absent from the win over Angers due to coronavirus – told Cadena SER's El Larguero programme. 

"What coach wouldn't want to work with Mbappe?".

Asked about Mbappe and Neymar after replacing Thomas Tuchel at the start of January, former Tottenham boss Pochettino added: "They've both welcomed me and are open to a new footballing proposition and I can only thank them for the warm reception."

Barca captain Messi has been heavily linked with a move to PSG as he prepares to become a free agent at the end of the season.

Messi has entered the final six months of his contract at Camp Nou and PSG sporting director Leonardo admitted the club are keeping a close eye on the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Premier League giants Manchester City have also emerged as a destination for Messi, while Serie A side Inter are believed to be interested.

But Pochettino refused to give much away when quizzed on Messi, saying: "To be honest, I haven't had time to sit with the president and talk about the transfer market as we're just focused on the present. So many times, a throwaway phrase can be twisted and used out of context."

When it was put to him that PSG are monitoring Messi, Pochettino replied: "No comment. When I was at Espanyol or Southampton, my dream was to have the best players at the club and Messi came close to being loaned out to Espanyol… The deal was well advanced but he delivered a great display in pre-season and that was the end of that.

"We've met over the years in places such as London or in Italy. We both share the love for Newell's, as we both came through their academy and that is our common bond."

"I'm aware of all that is going on. I've been watching everyone from West Ham to Valladolid and these days you need to keep your eyes on every team," Pochettino added ahead of PSG's clash with Montpellier on Friday. "I really don't want to talk about Messi as everything then gets blown out of proportion."

Eintracht Frankfurt head coach Adi Hutter hailed the "greatness" of Luka Jovic following his stunning start to life back in the Bundesliga.

Jovic scored two goals in his return for Eintracht last week after re-joining the German club on loan until the end of the season, having endured a difficult period at LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

The Serbia international only scored twice in 32 appearances under Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane in the Spanish capital, where he arrived for €60million in 2019.

But Jovic came off the bench and scored twice in 28 minutes as Eintracht defeated Schalke 3-1 in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

Jovic matched his Madrid tally in the stunning cameo for Eintracht, where the 23-year-old netted 27 goals in 2018-19 before making the move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Previewing Wednesday's showdown with Freiburg, Hutter discussed Jovic and his partnership with Eintracht star Andre Silva.

"Strikers are always a bit egotistical, but when it is about the team or Eintracht Frankfurt, everyone puts their ego aside," Hutter told reporters.

"Luka [Jovic] does that sovereignly. When you bring back someone who had his best time here and scored 27 goals in a year, then gets loaned out and scores two goals in 32 games, and then comes back and scores two goals in about 25 minutes, it's logical that the attention is more on that than on Andre Silva's 12th goal of the season.

"But when you hear Luka's statements that it is an honour for him to play in a team with Andre, it shows the greatness and character of Luka and it shows the respect he has for Andre Silva. I have spoken to Andre before and he said that competition is very important for him and that quality in the team is important. That doesn't bother him at all.

"I also can't imagine that Andre Silva, who has previously played for Milan and Sevilla, can't handle competition. I think he has also seen that Luka is another striker with whom he can harmonise.

"As always, I'm keeping a low profile. He [Luka Jovic] has shown in this short season that he is an absolute world-class striker with a high calibre. We'll leave it open as to whether he'll play from the start [against Freiburg]."

Silva's goal to open the scoring against Schalke was his 12th of the season, taking him level with Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland – only Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski (21) has more in 2020-21.

Eintracht – eighth in the standings – are the only team to win all three of their Bundesliga games in 2021 and have now won four on the bounce in the league for the first time since early 2019.

Lionel Messi is free to negotiate a move to clubs outside LaLiga and Juan Sebastian Veron thinks Javier Zanetti will be key to Inter's hopes of signing the Barcelona superstar.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi is in the final six months of his contract at Camp Nou, having failed to engineer a move away during the close season.

The 33-year-old has long been linked with a switch to Serie A giants Inter, where his former Argentina team-mate Zanetti – the Albiceleste's most-capped player of all time – is vice-president.

Former Nerazzurri and Argentina midfielder Veron does not expect Messi to be at Inter next season, but believes it will be down to Zanetti if he does complete a move to San Siro.

"I don't think he can go to Italy. If he will, it is because of Javier Zanetti, who knows him and will try to talk to him, making him feel important again and to explaining the future projects of the club," Veron told Stats Perform News.

"At the end of the day it is purely Messi's decision. But if Inter want to make an attempt, they have to use seduction and get to his heart to draw him near. 

"I don't know how many more years Messi wants to play at this level, but if you want to sign him, Inter have to make Messi their flagship and make clear they want to be at the top level."

After a 2-0 victory over Juventus on Sunday, Inter sit second in Serie A three points behind leaders Milan.

Antonio Conte's side have not been lacking in attack this term, though, with Romelu Lukaku (12 goals, three assists) and Lautaro Martinez (nine goals, three assists) developing a potent partnership in the league.

No forward in Serie A to have played at least 10 games this season has had more Opta-defined 'big chances' than Lukaku, whose tally of 20 is only matched by Edin Dzeko and Cristiano Ronaldo. The Belgium international has the best conversion rate of the trio, scoring from 12 such openings for a 60 per cent success ratio. Ronaldo is second on 55 per cent, while Dzeko is third on 35 per cent.

Messi has scored 11 goals and assisted two more in LaLiga this term, while converting 58.3 per cent (seven out of 12) of his big chances.

The Barca captain's 35 key passes are only bettered by Iago Aspas (37), and his 100 attempts on goal in the Spanish top flight this season are almost twice as many as Karim Benzema (51) in second.

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