Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice as Barcelona eased to a 3-1 win over 10-man Celta Vigo in a game overshadowed by Ronald Araujo leaving the field in an ambulance.

Araujo clashed heads with Gavi shortly after the hour mark at Camp Nou and, after initially appearing to run off the injury, collapsed to the floor before being attended to by medics.

That incident came shortly after Iago Aspas had struck to give Celta some hope following Memphis Depay's opener and a couple of goals from Aubameyang either side of half-time.

But a red card for former Barca loanee Jeison Murillo ultimately left the visitors, who recovered from three down to draw 3-3 in the reverse fixture, with too much to do in Tuesday's LaLiga contest.

 

Dembele showed superb trickery to take the ball past two opponents and pull it back for Depay to sweep past Matias Dituro, who got a hand to the shot but could not keep it out.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen, returning from illness that ruled him out last weekend, kept out Thiago Galhardo at full stretch and denied the same player from a header soon after.

Barca doubled their advantage before the interval through Aubameyang, who tucked into the bottom-right corner after Nestor Araujo failed to deal with Depay's cross into the box.

Aubameyang took advantage of some more good play from Dembele three minutes after the interval by clinically sweeping home Barca's third.

A poor pass from Ter Stegen to Araujo allowed Galhardo to pounce and play in Aspas, but Celta's momentum was halted when last man Murillo fouled Depay and was sent off.

Barcelona saw Araujo leave the field with a head injury soon after and had a fourth goal for substitute Riqui Puig ruled out for offside, but they had no trouble seeing out the win, despite 11 minutes being added on.

Memphis Depay is determined to be a key player for Barcelona for "several more years" despite speculation over his future.

The Netherlands forward was signed by Ronald Koeman on a two-year deal as a free agent last June after his Lyon contract expired.

Depay is Barca's leading scorer in his first season at Camp Nou with 12 goals in all competitions, but has only started two LaLiga games since the turn of the year, with Xavi bringing Ferran Torres and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to the club in January.

The 28-year-old has been hampered by injuries, but found the back of the net with a clinical finish in a 2-1 win over Real Mallorca on Sunday.

With Ansu Fati back from injury and the Blaugrana expected to strengthen ahead of the 2022-23 campaign, Depay's future has been called into question, but he is eager to stay put.

The former Manchester United attacker told ESPN: "I came here wanting to play for the team. I want to be important for the team next year and several more years,"

He added: "It's normal that I have a lot of competition at Barca. I play for the best club in the world."

Head coach Xavi also suggested Depay has a part to play beyond this season.

"Memphis trains very well and that's why he plays. We want this type of player, with this attitude," he said after Sunday's win.

"Surely I've been unfair to him, but if he performs like this he has to play."

Xavi said Barcelona's 2-1 win over Real Mallorca gives them "peace of mind" in their hunt for Champions League qualification, and hailed Memphis Depay's attitude after he opened the scoring with a stunning volley.

Having lost three consecutive matches at Camp Nou for just the second time in their illustrious history, the Blaugrana bounced back through excellent goals from Depay and Sergio Busquets, holding on for the win after Antonio Raillo pulled a goal back late on.

The Catalan giants have now won five of their last seven games in LaLiga to open up a nine-point lead over fifth-placed Real Betis in the race for Champions League football, moving up to second in the table.

Although Xavi insisted his team should have won the match more comfortably, he was pleased after picking up a crucial win in their quest to wrap up a top-four finish.

"It was a 3-0 match and we have to finish more satisfied, we have committed an unnecessary foul and they have scored the goal. It is a game to win [more] comfortably," he said after the victory.

"[But] the three points give us peace of mind. Now we have a league of five teams to enter the Champions League, which we have to win."

Depay's fantastic volleyed opener represented his 11th goal of the season in LaLiga – more than any other Barcelona player, and while Xavi was not willing to discuss whether the attacker had a future at Camp Nou, he insisted the 28-year-old deserved to play after showing great application in training.

"There is no talk of the future. Memphis has played because he trains very well, and maybe because another player had lowered his arms," he added. "We had worked on the play for the first goal.

"We want players with his attitude. I'm happy for him because it's possible that we were unfair at times with him. But if he trains like this, he has to participate."

Depay's Netherlands team-mate Frenkie de Jong, meanwhile, played the full 90 minutes after reacting angrily to being substituted in Barca's defeat to Rayo Vallecano last time out.

But the 24-year-old, who has been linked with a move away from Catalonia in recent weeks, said he has had positive discussions with Xavi since that incident and hopes Barcelona can compete with newly-crowned champions Real Madrid for the league title next term.

"The conversation with Xavi went well," De Jong said. "I have confidence in myself and the coach has told me that he also has confidence in me. I don't think too much is demanded of me, the pressure is always good and it's never too much.

"We were better and we deserved the victory. We played quite well, although we can always improve a lot. But it was important to win after defeats and we are happy with that.

"We are second, the first objective is to qualify for the Champions League, and then to be second to play in the [Spanish] Super Cup.

"It is frustrating, not fighting for the league, but we have not been good this year and that is why we have not been able to compete with them [Madrid]. We hope to do so next year."

Barcelona took another big step towards Champions League qualification as Memphis Depay and Sergio Busquets scored superb goals in a 2-1 LaLiga win over Real Mallorca.

Looking to avoid a fourth consecutive home defeat, the Blaugrana calmed a nervous Camp Nou crowd through Depay's excellent first-half volley on Sunday.

Busquets then fired a low effort beyond Sergio Rico and the Catalan giants held on for the win despite Antonio Raillo's 79th minute goal.

After being forced to watch rivals Real Madrid win the title on Saturday, Xavi's side at least look likely to join them in next season's Champions League after moving back into second place.

Rico was forced into an excellent save after five minutes, diving to his right to turn away Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's goal-bound header, before Fer Nino squandered a fantastic opportunity for the visitors when firing over at the back post from close range.

Ronald Araujo saw a powerful 22nd-minute header ruled out for offside, but the Blaugrana did take the lead three minutes later when Depay expertly volleyed into the bottom-left corner after controlling Jordi Alba's ball over the top.

The hosts lost Gerard Pique to injury before the break, but doubled their advantage after 54 minutes when Busquets drilled a left-footed effort into the bottom-right corner after striding onto a loose ball on the edge of the area.

Depay went close to another brilliant goal when he shot narrowly wide from range after dancing through the visiting midfield, before Barca had another goal ruled out by VAR after Ferran Torres's shot deflected in off Aubameyang in an offside position.

Xavi handed Ansu Fati his first appearance since November from the bench, as the hosts clung on for a vital win despite Raillo prodding home from Salva Sevilla's cross. 

What does it mean? Blaugrana end Camp Nou misery 

Barcelona had seen much of the positivity surrounding the club dissipate after suffering three consecutive home defeats for just the second time in their history, but bounced back to secure three precious points.

In doing so, Xavi's side stretched their lead over fifth-placed Real Betis - who have a game in hand - to nine points with four matches to play, taking a huge step towards sealing a Champions League spot.

Alba assumes creative role again

Having teed up Depay's goal, Alba has recorded nine assists in La Liga this season, the best such record managed by a defender in the competition since Real Madrid's Marcelo registered 10 in 2016-17.

Alba's return also represents the best managed by a Barca defender since Dani Alves teed up 11 goals in the 2011-12 campaign.

Depay shows his worth

Although Barcelona's push for Champions League football has seen January arrivals Aubameyang and Torres star in the attacking positions, Depay provided a reminder of his quality by striking a terrific opener.

The Dutchman has now scored 11 goals in LaLiga this season, more than any other Blaugrana player.

What's next? 

Barcelona's next outing sees them travel to Betis for a huge contest on Saturday, while Mallorca host fellow strugglers Granada on the same day.

Despite a 1-1 draw against Germany on Tuesday, Netherlands coach Louis Van Gaal has been left satisfied with this international window.

The Oranje fell behind on the stroke of half-time through Thomas Muller's opener, which punctuated a dominant first half for Germany in Amsterdam.

Van Gaal's side regrouped and equalised thanks to substitute Steven Bergwijn, who gave the Netherlands added verve along with fellow substitutes Davy Klaasen and Georginio Wijnaldum in midfield.

Following a 4-2 win over Denmark on Saturday, the 70-year-old coach was ultimately pleased with the spirit his side showed.

"I think we've had a fantastic week," he said post-match. "We could have won twice. I don't think a draw against Germany is that bad. I think the public enjoyed the fight.

"Despite the dominance of the Germans in the first half, 0-0 at half-time would not have been crazy. Germany was very strong on the ball, but I think we were good defensively and didn't give away many chances, despite their dominance.

"In the second half we fought back and thanks to Frenkie de Jong we could play out under pressure from Germany. The crowd was also great in the second half. We scored a fantastic goal and could have also got a penalty, then we just win this game."

Losing the opening game of qualifying to eventual Group G runners-up Turkey in Istanbul, the Oranje went the rest of World Cup qualifying undefeated, including a 6-1 demolition in the return leg to claim a place at the Finals in Qatar.

Germany provided a necessary test for Van Gaal and his side, with the veteran tactician praising Die Mannschaft for causing them headaches.

"I understand that Memphis Depay didn't like the game, because he didn't have much of the ball," Van Gaal said post-match. "We weren't on the ball, especially in the first half. The guys who normally are and have to give balls to Memphis and [Donyell] Malen were not clean in passing, so we didn't have much time to attack in the first half.

"That also has to do with form and confidence, but that is also the quality of the German team who can intercept a lot of balls in midfield by applying well-grouped pressure."

Barcelona's rebuild under Xavi has shown positive signs, but a new striker appears to be a priority going forward.

Following Sergio Aguero's retirement in December, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang arrived during the January transfer window and quickly excelled under Xavi, but his position may yet come under threat.

Memphis Depay remains the club's top scorer this season, netting 10 times in all competitions, yet one potential signing guarantees goals.

TOP STORY – LEWANDOWSKI SETTLES ON BARCELONA MOVE

Barcelona have reportedly reached an agreement with Robert Lewandowski.

Sport claims the Poland striker wants to leave Bayern Munich for the Catalan giants, but they will have to convince Bayern to sell him.

The 33-year-old's contract expires at the end of next season and he is yet to agree to an extension in Bavaria.

Lewandowski has scored 45 goals in all competitions this term, and Barca are reportedly willing to pay as much as €60million to bring him to Camp Nou for next season.

ROUND-UP

– Tottenham are leading the race to sign Memphis Depay, per reports in Mundo Deportivo.

– Napoli have set a price tag of €100million for striker Victor Osimhen, according to Corriere dello Sport.

– The Mirror is reporting Ainsley Maitland-Niles is expected not to be retained by Roma, on loan from Arsenal.

 Inter show continued interest in Torino's Gleison Bremer, with talks in progress with a defender also linked to Milan, per Fabrizio Romano.

Christian Eriksen scored two minutes into his international comeback as Denmark fell to a 4-2 loss against the Netherlands in Saturday's friendly at Johan Cruijff ArenA.

The midfielder was back in Denmark's squad for the first time since suffering a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020 and made an instant impact after being brought on at half-time.

Eriksen's well-taken goal, coming at the ground where he made a name for himself with Ajax, got Denmark back into the game after the hosts opened up a 3-1 lead at the break.

Steven Bergwijn and Nathan Ake netted either side of Jannik Vestergaard's leveller before Memphis Depay converted a penalty, with Bergwijn rounding things off after Eriksen's strike.

 

The Netherlands had already tested Kasper Schmeichel three times before Bergwijn met Daley Blind's left-sided cross and headed in a 16th-minute opener.

Denmark's response was a swift one, with Joakim Maehle sending in a cross for Vestergaard to glance in a leveller four minutes later after Jesper Lindstrom's free-kick was blocked.

Ake restored the Netherlands' lead shortly before the half-hour mark with another headed goal, finishing from close range once picked out by a fine Steven Berghuis delivery.

Louis van Gaal's men had some breathing space before the interval thanks to a Depay penalty, which was awarded for Vestergaard's challenge on Berghuis.

Denmark lost Yussuf Poulsen and Thomas Delaney to injury but were given a lifeline when Eriksen converted fellow substitute Andreas Skov Olsen's pass with a first-time finish.

Bergwijn's curled effort with 20 minutes to go ended Denmark's hopes of claiming a draw, though there was still time for Eriksen to send a long-range shot off the post.

It wasn't so long ago that Raheem Sterling's long-term future at Manchester City was shrouded in doubt.

The England forward has long since been linked to LaLiga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.

However, it appears Sterling may now be in line to commit his future to the reigning Premier League champions.


TOP STORY – PEP WANTS NEW DEAL FOR STERLING

City boss Pep Guardiola has reportedly given the green light on awarding Sterling a new contract, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Sterling, who has 13 goals and four assists across all competitions for City this season, had been linked with a move to Barca as recently as the January transfer window.

But having played his way back into the team, City want to renew his deal – though the club want a swift decision with Sterling's present contract due to expire in 2023.


ROUND-UP

- Alvaro Morata is a man in demand. Barca were thought to be keen on signing the Spain striker in January, but Arsenal remain interested in the Atletico Madrid forward – who is on loan at Juventus – according to the Boot Room .

- Memphis Depay 's future at Camp Nou was hurt by the departure of Ronald Koeman. Sport reports that Serie A trio Inter , Milan and Juventus are interested in the Netherlands star.

- Stefan de Vrij could be on the move at the end of the season. InterLive says the centre-back could be reunited with Antonio Conte at Tottenham .

- Lucas Vazquez wants to make Spain's World Cup squad and El Nacional says the 30-year-old winger is prepared to leave Real Madrid in order to do so.

Manchester United remain on the lookout for a full-time manager, three months on from sacking Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Ralf Rangnick has taken interim charge until at least the end of the campaign, but some mixed results have hampered his hopes of landing the job permanently.

A number of names have been linked with one of football's most prestigious positions, though one candidate is seemingly favoured by the players.

 

 

TOP STORY – UNITED STARS FAVOUR POCH APPOINTMENT

Mauricio Pochettino remains the favourite to succeed Solskjaer as United's next permanent boss and, according to The Express, that is an appointment that will go down well.

The Red Devils' first-team stars are said to have made clear that Pochettino, who is under pressure a year into his time with Paris Saint-Germain, is their preferred option.

Ajax boss Erik Ten Hag is another candidate to lead United forward from next season, but there are concerns over his lack of experience in English football.

 

ROUND-UP

- While there is uncertainty over who will be in charge at United next season, the Premier League heavyweights are pushing ahead with transfer plans. Sport1 reports that Borussia Dortmund defender Manuel Akanji is one of those being targeted.

- Memphis Depay could be on his way out of Barcelona less than a year after arriving at Camp Nou. Sport claims that Barca have other attacking options in mind, with Dortmund superstar Erling Haaland still on their radar.

- Inter remain in talks with Ivan Perisic over a new contract at San Siro. According to Nicolo Schira, the Croatia international is close to putting pen to paper on an extension that will run through until July 2024.

- Calciomercato reports that Milan are planning talks with the representatives of Lille centre-back Sven Botman. The highly rated defender has been touted as a target for numerous clubs across Europe, most notably Newcastle United.

- Chelsea have not given up hope of tying Antonio Rudiger down to a new deal, according to Goal. It is claimed that the Germany international has been offered close to £200,000 a week to turn down interest from Real Madrid and PSG.

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.

Memphis Depay and Sergino Dest have returned to Barcelona's squad for Saturday's LaLiga clash with Granada.

Both players have been absent since Barca's 3-0 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich on December 8.

Depay has been sidelined with a hamstring injury, while Dest – a reported January target for Bayern – has struggled for fitness and recently tested positive for coronavirus.

However, Dest tested negative on Friday and was part of Barca's travelling party for their showdown at Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes.

Gavi and Alejandro Balde have also recovered from COVID-19 lay-offs, while Ez Abde is included in Xavi's 23-man squad for the first time this year.

Depay's return in particular is a huge boost for Xavi as the forward's 10 direct goal involvements this term – eight goals and two assists – is double that of any other Barca player.

Fifth-placed Barcelona have lost just one of their past nine LaLiga games and are unbeaten in five away from home.

The Catalan giants have won eight of their last 10 visits to Granada in LaLiga, scoring at least three goals in each of their previous four trips to Los Carmenes.

January 1 2022 is a date Real Madrid and Kylian Mbappe have been anticipating for some time.

Los Blancos were the subject of two failed bids for the Paris Saint-Germain superstar in the previous transfer window.

But the new year sees Mbappe enter the final six months of his contract at the Parc des Princes meaning he is free to talk to clubs outside of France.

And it seems Madrid are more confident that ever of landing their top target.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID HAVE 'TOTAL OPTIMISM' ON MBAPPE

The future of Mbappe has dominated the rumour mill for months and Spanish publication Marca claims there is "total optimism" among the Madrid hierarchy they will land their man.

One complication is the fact the two teams are set to meet in a Champions League last-16 grudge match, with any announcement unlikely to happen before that tie.

But come July 1 there is growing expectation Mbappe will be a Madrid player, with the signing of Lionel Messi and potential future arrival of Zinedine Zidane as head coach seemingly not enough to convince him to remain in the French capital.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea's need for defensive reinforcements may be exacerbated by the fact Andreas Christensen has no intention of signing a new contract. Spanish paper Sport says the Dane, who is out of contract at the end of the season, is close to joining Barcelona.

- Speaking of Barcelona, AS reports the future of Memphis Depay is shrouded in doubt. With Ferran Torres having arrived from Manchester City and Alvaro Morata a top target, Depay may be set for a close-season exit after a solitary campaign at Camp Nou.

- Manchester United could be about to get one over old boss Jose Mourinho by landing Boubacar Kamara. The Daily Mirror reports the Red Devils are attempting to beat Roma to the signing of the Marseille midfielder.

- Roma have also been in the hunt for Arsenal midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles, but they apparently face competition from Everton according to the Liverpool Echo.

- Over on the Red side of Merseyside, Italian agency ANSA is reporting Liverpool are about to pip Arsenal and Tottenham to the signing of Milan midfielder Franck Kessie.

- The Athletic suggested the Gunners are also likely to have more frustration. Arsenal have been linked with a move for Lille forward Jonathan David but will apparently have to wait until the end of the campaign to land their man.

Barcelona are in the market to bolster their squad in January.

The Spanish giants have financial challenges to overcome.

But after an ordinary start to the season, they are ready to get busy to build Xavi a stronger squad.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA TO MOVE FOR LAPORTE

Barcelona could move for another Manchester City star, with The Sun reporting that the Blaugrana want to sign Spain international Aymeric Laporte.

The defender has lost his starting spot to John Stones and is said to be unsettled at City.

Barcelona announced a deal to sign Ferran Torres from City this week.

 

ROUND-UP

Juventus have no interest in a potential swap deal with Barcelona whereby Alvaro Morata would trade places with Memphis Depay, reports Football Italia.

Newcastle United are set to complete their first piece of January transfer business by signing Lille defender Sven Botman, claims the Mail.

Liverpool are interested in Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka, claims the Express. Saka is contracted to the Gunners until 2024.

Liverpool have also pitched a contract offer to Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, reports Ansa.

Xavi made it back-to-back LaLiga wins following his appointment as Barcelona head coach as late goals from Memphis Depay and Philippe Coutinho secured a 3-1 win over Villarreal.

The former Barca midfielder oversaw a 1-0 win over Espanyol last weekend after taking over the reins from Ronald Koeman, but it looked like he would be denied another three points at Estadio de la Ceramica when Samuel Chukwueze cancelled out Frenkie de Jong's opener.

Depay had other ideas, though, stroking home with two minutes remaining to spark jubilant celebrations from Xavi on the Barca bench, before Coutinho added a third from the penalty spot in stoppage time.

The result puts seventh-placed Barca seven points behind leaders Real Madrid, who have a game in hand, while Villarreal stay 12th.

It has been a turbulent period for Manchester United, but they appear on the cusp of solving one issue.

With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gone, struggling United need a new manager and while Mauricio Pochettino seems to be the dream appointment, the Red Devils are reportedly closing in on a short-term solution.

Ralf Rangnick.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED TURN TO RANGNICK ON SHORT-TERM BASIS

Manchester United are set to appoint former RB Leipzig boss Ralf Rangnick as interim manager, according to The Athletic, ESPN and widespread reports.

After sacking Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, United outlined their plan to install an interim boss until the end of the season amid reported long-term interest in Paris Saint-Germain's Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag.

There had been reports United could turn to Pochettino immediately but a deal to prise the former Tottenham boss from Paris proved difficult.

Instead, United have offered Rangnick a six-month contract at Old Trafford, where the 63-year-old German is set to take up a consultancy role once his interim tenure ends.

Rangnick is currently head of sports and development at Russian outfit Lokomotiv Moscow.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Chelsea are plotting a move for Italy star Federico Chiesa, who is still on loan from Fiorentina. Juventus are set to sign Chiesa permanently at the end of the season, though he is wanted by a host of clubs, including Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

- United have emerged as a possible destination for in-demand Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic, reports the Daily Mail. Vlahovic is wanted by Manchester CityAtletico Madrid, JuveInterArsenalTottenham and Bayern but the Red Devils are believed to have joined the race.

Barcelona could sell Memphis Depay to help in their efforts to prise Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, per El Nacional. Depay only joined Barca on a free transfer at the start of the season, but the financially stricken LaLiga giants are among the long list of Haaland admirers. Haaland has been linked with CityUnitedReal MadridBayernLiverpoolChelseaJuve and PSG.

- Fabrizio Romano claims Stefano Pioli will sign a new contract with Milan on Friday. The Rossoneri head coach is set to extend his deal until June 2023, with the option of a further season.

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