Barcelona have got back to winning ways on their return from the international break as they sealed a 3-1 victory over Valencia at the Camp Nou.
Goals from the returning Ansu Fati and Dutch star Memphis Depay set the home side on course for the win before substitute Philippe Coutinho wrapped up all three points in the final minutes.
La Blaugrana endured a mixed run of form heading into the international break with boss Ronald Koeman finding himself under increasing pressure in Catalonia.
However, his players turned in a timely winning performance against Los Che, with the returning Ansu Fati right at the heart of it for Koeman.
The Spanish international cancelled out Jose Luis Gaya’s opener, with a spectacular first goal in over a year to bring Barcelona level, before winning a penalty to allow Memphis Depay to edge them in front.
Fati did have a chance to make the game safe after the restart, only to be denied by a superb Jasper Cillessen save late on, but in the end substitute Philippe Coutinho wrapped up the win in the final minutes.
Koeman’s side now face Dynamo Kyiv in midweek Champions League action with Valencia back in action against Real Mallorca next weekend.
Bayern Munich ran riot against their hosts Bayer Leverkusen beating them 5-1 as they returned to the top of the Bundesliga.
Robert Lewandowski ended his longest goal drought since November to break the deadlock after four minutes with a sublime aerial backheel inside the box courtesy of a perfectly weighted Dayot Upamecano cross.
On the half hour mark, Lewandowski took his goal tally to nine for the season with a composed finish inside the box, completing a Bayern move that started at the back and cut through the Leverkusen team with pace and precision.
The floodgates then opened as within five minutes the visitors added three more goals. First Thomas Muller deflected the ball past Lukas Hradecky from a corner.
Then Serge Gnabry grabbed a quickfire double as his pace and clinical finishing skills proved too much for the Leverkusen defence.
The second half saw both managers make a collection of changes, no doubt conscious of their European commitments next week.
Bayer Leverkusen got a consolation goal on 55 minutes, when Patrik Schick latched on to a Florian Wirtz through ball. The Czech showed his strength and eye for goal as he slotted the ball past Manuel Neuer.
As the match wore on there was a clear drop off in intensity as the game was well and truly put to bed in the first half.
Paris Saint-Germain are preparing for the exit of Kylian Mbappe by adding Erling Haaland, Robert Lewandowski, and Dusan Vlahovic to their shortlist of replacements.
With little progress made regarding a new contract between PSG and Mbappe, Le10 Sport reports that sporting director Leonardo has put together a three-man priority list of candidates who the Ligue 1 club will target should Mbappe leave.
The first on the list is Haaland, with PSG set to go all out for the services of the Borussia Dortmund star when his release clause of €75m comes into effect next summer. But if that fails, Leonardo has identified Bayern Munich talisman Lewandowski as the second-best option to replace Mbappe.
The 33-year-old is rumoured to favour a move to Real Madrid — who also lead the race for Mbappe’s signature — should he leave the Bundesliga, which would leave €70m-rated Vlahovic of Fiorentina as the final option on the shortlist.
And with Mbappe’s contract set to expire next summer, there could be movement in January if PSG hope to land a significant transfer fee for one of the most sought-after stars in football.
Chelsea are set for serious battle against their Premier League rivals Manchester United as the Old Trafford club are reportedly poised to challenge the European champions for Sevilla star Jules Kounde.
The French international was heavily linked with a summer move to Stamford Bridge, ahead of the 2021/22 season, but the Blues refused to meet Sevilla’s asking price of €90m.
Chelsea are expected to revive their long term interest in him again during the January transfer window but they could be challenged in their pursuit of the 22-year-old.
According to reports from El Nacional via Football Espana, Kounde is not interested in a move to domestic rivals Real Madrid, and instead wants to test himself in England.
The Sevilla defender would prefer joining Manchester United to Chelsea.
That’s the claim from El Nacional, who even suggest the 22-year-old has asked his agent to hold talks with the Red Devils.
Kounde helped France win the Nations League this month, having joined Sevilla for £20million from Bordeaux two years ago.
United are likely to be in the market for another defender in the coming months despite bringing in Raphael Varane from Los Blancos in September.
Kounde remains under contract at the Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan until 2024, and despite Sevilla previously sticking to his €90m release clause, they could now lower that to around €70-75m.
Former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has reportedly turned down an offer to become the next boss of Newcastle United, according to RMC.
Zidane won two LaLiga titles and three back-to-back Champions League trophies during his time at Madrid. He left the job earlier this year as Carlo Ancelotti returned to the Bernabeu and has now attracted the attention of Newcastle after their Saudi-backed £300m takeover.
Newcastle took the unusual step of releasing a statement ahead of the weekend’s game to say that manager Steve Bruce would still be in charge.
“We have had an extremely busy week reviewing the business and getting to know people and it is imperative that we continue to be patient and considered in our approach,” new part-owner Amanda Staveley said.
“Change does not always happen overnight. It demands time and that we follow a carefully considered plan and strategy.
“Steve has been very professional in our dealings with him and he, and his coaching team, will take the team on Sunday. If we make any changes going forward, Steve will be the first to know. But, in the meantime, we wish him the best of luck in his 1,000th match as a manager and will be joining you [the fans] in getting right behind the team.”