Bilbao knock Barca out of Copa del Rey | Real edge Elche

Holders Barcelona were knocked out of the Copa del Rey after suffering a 3-2 defeat in extra-time at Athletic Bilbao in the last 16 on Thursday.

Athletic went ahead early thanks to a beautiful cross-shot from Iker Muniain who curled the ball past Marc-Andre ter Stegen into the top corner.

Former Manchester City forward Ferran Torres equalised for Barca with a brilliant right-foot strike from the edge of the area – his first goal for the club.

Inigo Martinez put Athletic back in front after 86 minutes, winning a challenge against Gerard Pique to score, but Pedri netted a fine goal in stoppage time to send the game into extra-time.

Man-of-the-match Muniain scored the winner from the penalty spot after the video assistant referee spotted a handball from Jordi Alba inside the area.

10-man Real Madrid overcame a hostile atmosphere and fought back from a goal down in extra-time to beat Elche 2-1 and reach the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.

Eden Hazard scored the winning goal for Real Madrid
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Eden Hazard scored the winning goal for Real Madrid

Following a scoreless 90 minutes, Elche took the lead with a free-kick earned with Real down to 10 men after Marcelo was sent off for a foul on Tete Morente.

Experienced defender Gonzalo Verdu struck the free-kick into the wall but his second effort deflected off Dani Ceballos wrong-footed goalkeeper Andriy Lunin before ending up in the back of the net.

Real grabbed the equaliser when Isco deflected a Ceballos shot inside the box and substitute Eden Hazard scored the winner on a counter-attack after receiving a through ball from David Alaba, rounding the goalkeeper and finishing into an empty net.

The match ended in controversy as Elche found the net in the last minute of extra-time, but the referee disallowed the effort for a foul in the build-up.

Real Madrid joined Bilbao, Real Sociedad, Valencia, Real Betis, Rayo Vallecano, Mallorca and Cadiz in the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, in La Liga, Getafe eased their relegation fears with a 4-2 win over Granada.

Sandro Ramirez fired Getafe ahead with a low drive from the edge of the area after 10 minutes, but moments later Luis Suarez swept in an equaliser from close range.

Enes Unai lashed Getafe ahead from a tight angle two minutes after half-time and Nemanja Maksimovic tucked in the third just after the hour.

Suarez pulled another back for the visitors but Borja Mayoral wrapped up the victory with three minutes left.

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Dembele accuses Barca of ‘blackmail’ | Club tell him he must leave

Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele says he will “not give in to blackmail” after the club told the Frenchman he must leave in the January transfer window.

Dembele is out of contract in the summer, meaning Barcelona face the prospect of losing him on a free transfer if he sees out the season in Catalonia.

The 24-year-old said on Instagram: “As of today, I’m going to answer honestly without giving in to any form of blackmail.

“I forbid people from thinking that I’m not committed to this sporting project. I forbid people from attributing intentions to me that I’ve never had.

“I forbid people from speaking for me or my agent, who I have total confidence in. I’m still under contract, I’m fully committed and at the disposal of the club and my coach.

“I’ve always given everything for my team-mates and also for all the fans. That’s not going to change now.

“I’m not a man who cheats and even less so one who’s used to giving in to blackmail.

“Love can certainly be a variant of blackmail.”

Dembele’s comments come after Barcelona’s director of football, Mateu Alemany, said he wants to leave the club after refusing to sign a new contract.

Dembele turned down Barcelona’s attempt to sign him to a new deal as the terms on offer were lower than his current contract. He was left out of the squad for Thursday’s match at Athletic Bilbao.

Alemany said on Thursday: “With Ousmane and with his agents we began conversations in the month of July, during all this time, it has been six months almost seven months, we have talked, we have spoken, Barca has made different offers, we have tried to find a way for him to continue with us.

“Those offers have been systematically rejected by their agents. And today, January 20, 11 days before the end of the last term within his contract, it is evident, it seems obvious to us, that the player does not want to continue at Barcelona and therefore is not committed to Barca’s future project.

“In this scenario, he and his agents have been told that he must leave immediately, because we want players committed to this project, and therefore we expect a transfer before January 31.

“The sporting consequence of all this, valued by the technicians and by our coach, is that we do not want to have with us players who are not committed to the project and who do not want to be at Barca and therefore the fact that he is not called up is no more than a consequence of this whole process.

“The club obviously is not the one that should determine this, it is the coach who has determined it, but he has our support and we think it is a totally coherent attitude.”

Dembele joined the club from Borussia Dortmund for £135m – just weeks after Neymar’s world-record move to Paris Saint-Germain – but has struggled with injuries for much of his time in Spain.

The 2018 World Cup winner has started just six matches this season and his only goal came in the Copa del Rey victory at third-tier Linares earlier this month.

Dembele’s involvement has increased dramatically since Xavi replaced Ronald Koeman as manager in November, however, with all but one of his 11 appearances this season coming under the former Barcelona midfielder.

Follow the January transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move in January?

The January transfer window opens on Saturday January 1, 2022 and closes at 11pm on Monday January 31.

Keep up-to-date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.

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Dembele set for Barca exit after contract snub

Ousmane Dembele has been told by Barcelona that he will be sold this month after he refused to sign a new contract at the Nou Camp.

The French winger is out of contract in the summer, meaning Barcelona face the prospect of losing him on a free transfer if he sees out the season in Catalonia.

But Barcelona are unwilling to let that happen and are also keen to remove Dembele’s wages from their books.

The 24-year-old turned down Barcelona’s attempt to sign him to a new deal as the terms on offer were lower than his current contract. He has been left out of the squad for Thursday’s match at Athletic Bilbao.

Mateu Alemany, Barcelona’s director of football, said on Thursday: “With Ousmane and with his agents we began conversations in the month of July, during all this time, it has been six months almost seven months, we have talked, we have spoken, Barca has made different offers, we have tried to find a way for him to continue with us.

“Those offers have been systematically rejected by their agents. And today, January 20, 11 days before the end of the last term within his contract, it is evident, it seems obvious to us, that the player does not want to continue at Barcelona and therefore is not committed to Barca’s future project.

“In this scenario, he and his agents have been told that he must leave immediately, because we want players committed to this project, and therefore we expect a transfer before January 31.

“The sporting consequence of all this, valued by the technicians and by our coach, is that we do not want to have with us players who are not committed to the project and who do not want to be at Barca and therefore the fact that he is not called up is no more than a consequence of this whole process.

“The club obviously is not the one that should determine this, it is the coach who has determined it, but he has our support and we think it is a totally coherent attitude.”

Dembele joined the club from Borussia Dortmund for £135m – just weeks after Neymar’s world-record move to Paris Saint-Germain – but has struggled with injuries for much of his time in Spain.

The 2018 World Cup winner has started just six matches this season and his only goal came in the Copa del Rey victory at third-tier Linares earlier this month.

Dembele’s involvement has increased dramatically since Xavi replaced Ronald Koeman as manager in November, however, with all but one of his 11 appearances this season coming under the former Barcelona midfielder.

Follow the January transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move in January?

The January transfer window opens on Saturday January 1, 2022 and closes at 11pm on Monday January 31.

Keep up-to-date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.

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Lewandowski, Putellas win FIFA Best awards; Tuchel & Hayes best coaches

Robert Lewandowski was crowned the best men’s player and Alexia Putellas named best women’s player at the Best FIFA awards.

Poland international Lewandowski set a new record for most Bundesliga goals in a calendar year with his 43rd goal in December, breaking the record set by Gerd Muller in 1972.

The 33-year-old, winner of the men’s award in 2020, also became the first player in Bundesliga history to finish top scorer in four consecutive seasons.

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Lewandowski opens the scoring against Leverkusen with a very cheeky backheel flick from inside the area

Barcelona midfielder Putellas was named women’s player of the year, adding the accolade to her Ballon d’Or triumph.

Putellas, 27, captained Barcelona to the treble, with the Catalan side winning the Women’s Champions League, Spanish league and Copa de la Reina last term

Barcelona's Alexia Putellas won the FIFA Best women's award
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Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas won the FIFA Best women’s award

Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel and Emma Hayes were crowned the Best coaches in the men’s and women’s game.

Tuchel steered the Blues to Champions League glory last season. The 48-year-old German replaced Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge in January 2021 and had an immediate impact, starting his spell with a 14-game unbeaten run.

Former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain head coach Tuchel also led Chelsea to the FA Cup final and a fourth-placed finish in the Premier League.

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel gives instructions
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Thomas Tuchel guided Chelsea to Champions League glory last term

Tuchel said he was shocked to receive the award from world football’s governing body.

“It was a pretty normal day so far at the training centre, I’ve just come from training because we have a game [on Tuesday], but now you opened the envelope and said my name, it’s pretty surreal.

“I’m overwhelmed, I feel a bit uncomfortable actually. I enjoy the journey and I enjoy the club, it’s a good fit. The company on the journey is so good, so I’m grateful to have such supportive people around me, to feel so good in such a competitive club.

“We’ve lost a bit of track to Manchester City in the [Premier] League, but in other competitions we follow our goals still. We try to be the best versions of ourselves and try to compete at the highest level. We’ll try our best to fulfil
our dreams.”

He was named on a seven-man shortlist alongside Antonio Conte, Hansi Flick, Pep Guardiola, Roberto Mancini, Lionel Scaloni and Diego Simeone.

Emma Hayes exclusive image
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Emma Hayes enjoyed a superb campaign with Chelsea last season

Hayes, 45, guided the Blues to Women’s Super League, League Cup and FA Cup glory last season and steered the London side to the Champions League final.

She was named WSL manager of the season for her feats and was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours for services to football.

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Hayes says she was ‘stunned’ after being named The Best FIFA Women’s Coach for 2021

Hayes said she was also taken aback at winning the accolade and paid tribute to her players and staff at Chelsea.

Speaking via video link at the ceremony, she said: “I’m completely shocked. It’s down to the players and the fantastic people who represent my work. Ultimately, the coach is only as good as the people they have around them.

“I’ve got brilliant people at Chelsea that have helped to support the team to the place we’re at. Honestly, I’m absolutely shocked right now.”

Edouard Mendy, Chelsea
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Edouard Mendy was named men’s goalkeeper of the year

Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy was named men’s goalkeeper of the year for 2021 at the FIFA Best Football Awards.

Mendy, 29, is in his second season at the Premier League club after joining from Rennes in September 2020.

The Senegal international had been nominated alongside Italy and AC Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma and Germany and Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer.

Chile’s Christiane Endler, who joined Lyon from Paris Saint-Germain in June 2021, was named women’s goalkeeper of the year.

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Cristiano Ronaldo accepts The Best FIFA Special Award and insists he has the motivation and passion to carry on playing for several more years

Two outstanding performances on the international stage where landmark goalscoring records were broken were also recognised.

Christine Sinclair, with 188 goals in 308 caps for Canada, received The Best FIFA Special Award for women’s football, and Cristiano Ronaldo, with 115 goals in 184 appearances for Portugal, received The Best FIFA Special Award for men’s football.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino presented the awards to Ronaldo in-person and Christine Sinclair (virtually) at the ceremony at the Home of FIFA in Zurich.

Erik Lamela, who departed Tottenham for Sevilla in July 2021 – won the FIFA Puskas Award for his outrageous goal in the north London derby in March 2021. It is the second straight Puskas Award to be won for a goal scored in a Spurs shirt, after Heung-Min Son claimed the prize for his strike against Burnley last time around.

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Erik Lamela’s outrageous Rabona goal for Tottenham against Arsenal has won FIFA’s Puskas Award

The Denmark men’s national team medical team and coaching staff won the FIFA Fair Play award for their heroics after Christian Eriksen collapsed during their match against Finland at Euro 2020,

Denmark and Finland supporters won the FIFA Fan award for their show of solidarity following Eriksen’s collapse. As the crowd waited for news on Eriksen’s health, fans of both teams banded together in an emotional tribute. Finnish fans chanted “Christian!” while Danish supporters responded with “Eriksen”.

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Real reach Super Cup final with Saudi Clasico win

Real Madrid booked their ticket to the Spanish Super Cup final in Saudi Arabia courtesy of a 3-2 extra-time win over Barcelona – their fifth straight, and 100th El Clasico victory.

Real got off to the perfect start in the 248th meeting between Spain’s two most decorated clubs when Vinicius Junior rounded off a counter and rifled in his 15th goal of the season past Marc-Andre ter Stegen (25), but Barca ended a one-sided first half level when Eder Militao’s clearance cannoned in off the unsuspecting Luuk de Jong (42).

Karim Benzema looked to have sent Madrid through to the final when the 23rd goal of his stellar season restored their lead (72), but back came Barca for a second time as Ansu Fati’s glancing header (83) forced extra-time.

Substitute Federico Valverde restored Madrid’s lead for a third time eight minutes into the first period of extra-time, and there was no way back for Barca as their spirited resistance came up short and Real claimed a landmark 100th El Clasico victory over their eternal rivals.

Player ratings

Barcelona: Ter Stegen (6), Alves (6), Araujo (6), Pique (6), Alba (6), F. De Jong (5), Busquets (7), Gavi (7), Dembele (7), L. de Jong (7), Torres (5).

Subs: Pedri (7), Depay (5), Fati (7), Nico (6), Jutgla (5), Abde (6).

Real Madrid: Courtois (6), Carvajal (6), Militao (5), Nacho (6), Mendy (6), Modric (6), Casemiro (6), Kroos (6), Asensio (6), Benzema (7), Vinicius (8).

Subs: Valverde (7), Vazquez (5), Rodrygo (5), Camavinga (5).

Man of the Match: Vinicius Junior.

Real overcome spirited Barca in Saudi Clasico

Thirty-two thousands fans were socially-distanced inside the half-capacity King Fahd Stadium in the Saudi Arabian capital as the Spanish Super Cup went back on the road again after the coronavirus pandemic transferred last season’s edition back to Spain, and the expectant crowd were treated to a vintage El Clasico.

Team news

  • Ferran Torres made his Barcelona debut and Frenkie de Jong and Ronald Araujo returned as Barcelona made three changes from Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Granada.
  • Dani Carvajal and Nacho returned as Real Madrid made two changes from Saturday’s 4-1 LaLiga victory over Valencia.

After spurning a host of chances on the counter to break the deadlock, Madrid finally made an attack count midway through the first period, and in clinical fashion, as Benzema dispossessed Sergio Busquets on halfway and released Vinicius down the left channel, where he raced clear of Ronald Araujo and powered a shot in at the near post.

Vinicius Junior put Real Madrid ahead
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Vinicius Junior put Real Madrid ahead

Barca rallied, creating two heading opportunities as Luuk de Jong forced saves from Thibaut Courtois in quick succession, before the Dutchman levelled the contest in freakish circumstances when Militao’s defensive clearance cannoned off him at point-blank range.

Barca carried that momentum into the second half, creating a raft of further chances which half-time substitute Pedri and the lively Ousmane Dembele were unable to convert, and their profligacy came back to haunt them 18 minutes from time when Benzema, three minutes after striking the post, poked home Dani Carvajal’s centre.

That looked to have sealed Madrid’s passage to the final but Barca forced extra-time with eight minutes to spare when Fati was left isolated by more questionable defending in the six-yard box and glanced home Jordi Alba’s wicked cross.

Ansu fati
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Ansu Fati’s late header forced extra-time in Riyadh

With the scores locked the game went to extra-time where, having fought back twice in regular time, Barca were undone for the third and final time.

With opposition players committed in attack, Real exploited acres of space on the break. Rodrygo squared a pass inside where white shirts where queuing up to convert, and Valverde duly obliged after the ball was allowed to run into his path by Vinicius’ stepover.

Fede Valverde
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Fede Valverde sent Real to the final with his 108th-minute winner

Xavi: We had it in our hands

Barcelona head coach Xavi: “We had it in our hands. We dominated Madrid for most of the game, but we still lack experience, patience and effectiveness. We are close. We cornered Real. It is a pity.

“It was a day to be brave and put our complexes behind us. This Barca can compete with anyone,” Xavi said. “We will go home angry and frustrated. We could have won. We took risks and they took advantage of our mistakes.”

Xavi Hernandez and Carlo Ancelotti embrace on the touchline
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Xavi Hernandez and Carlo Ancelotti embrace on the touchline

Ancelotti hails Clasico quality

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti: “I think it was a match between two great teams. They controlled the possession, but we conceded the first goal due to bad luck. There were no dominant or dominated [team]. We went back on purpose to look for the counter-attack. The three goals that we scored were spectacular.

“It was a big physical effort. But we have held out well to the end. The fresh legs that came out from the bench did well. We are tired but happy.”

What’s next?

Real Madrid will face the winners of Thursday’s semi-final between La Liga champions Atletico Madrid and last season’s Copa del Rey runners-up Athletic Bilbao in Sunday’s Spanish Super Cup final in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – kick-off 6.30pm UK time.

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Barcelona 2-3 Real Madrid commentary

Full Time
After Extra Time
This is a live match.
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Barcelona
vs Real Madrid. Spanish Super Cup.

King Fahd Stadium.

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Aston Villa confirm Coutinho loan deal

Aston Villa have confirmed the signing of Philippe Coutinho on loan from Barcelona until the end of the season.

Coutinho completed a medical at Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground on Tuesday and received a work permit.

The deal to bring him to Villa Park also includes an option to make the deal permanent for £33m in the summer.

Sky Sports News has been told Villa are paying less than 50 per cent of Coutinho’s weekly wage plus bonuses.

The Brazilian agreed to take a pay cut to join Villa despite other clubs offering deals that would have seen him earn 100 per cent of his Barca wage.

Coutinho wanted to return to England and play regular football and sees Villa as an ambitious club that are building something special for the future.

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Coutinho’s best Premier League moments

The Brazil midfielder knows manager Steven Gerrard well having spent two-and-a-half years with him at Liverpool, and is said to already know a lot about Villa and their squad.

One source told Sky Sports News Coutinho would have been open to return to Liverpool this month but the Merseyside club were not pursuing a move for him in January.

Coutinho was signed by Barcelona from Liverpool for a club-record £146m in January 2018, but he struggled to hold down a first-team place at the Nou Camp and spent the 2019/20 season on loan at Bayern Munich.

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Rewind to 2017 when Coutinho named Steven Gerrard in his dream 5-a-side team and rated him as the best midfielder he has ever played with

Villa are also interested in Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma as he enters the final 18 months of his contract but Seagulls boss Graham Potter revealed there has been no contact from other clubs for the Mali midfielder.

Meanwhile, Villa striker Wesley has joined Brazilian side Internacional on loan for the rest of the season.

Analysis: Coutinho could fill Grealish void

Jack Grealish once commented Philippe Coutinho was one of his favourite players to watch on YouTube. “He always has that one, you know, where he goes left and drops like a little shimmy, which is what I like doing myself.” Now the journey has come full circle.

While Grealish perfected his art enough to earn a £100m move to Manchester City, Coutinho returns to the Premier League to replace him at Aston Villa. If the Brazilian can repeat the form that took him from Liverpool to Barcelona it will be an ideal signing.

There are similarities between the two players. Grealish praised Coutinho’s ability to “go past players like they aren’t there” and that is what Villa so loved about their former captain. They have missed having that player who can make things happen this season.

Is the Coutinho idolised by Grealish still there? At 29, there is time to recapture his best form under old team-mate Steven Gerrard, but his career has drifted at Barcelona. If, like Grealish, Coutinho is inspired by being the main man at Villa Park, there is fun to be had.

Follow the January transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move in January?

The January transfer window opens on Saturday January 1, 2022 and closes at 11pm on Monday January 31.

Keep up-to-date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.

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Euro round-up: Dortmund reignite title bid, Barca held

Borussia Dortmund fought back from two goals down after a lacklustre start to beat Eintracht Frankfurt 3-2 and return some excitement to the Bundesliga title race.

Mahmoud Dahoud’s 89th-minute winner, after Jude Bellingham had equalised in the 86th, moved Dortmund six points behind Bayern Munich a day after the leaders’ 2-1 home defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach.

A fired-up Erling Haaland was a factor in all three goals for Dortmund, who might easily have been four goals down in Frankfurt.

Colombian forward Rafael Borre opened the scoring with a simple finish from Filip Kostic’s free kick in the 15th minute, then doubled the lead 10 minutes later after more lax defending.

Evan Ndicka struck the post for Frankfurt before Dahoud gifted Jesper Lindstrom another huge opportunity with half-time approaching, but the midfielder shot wide.

Haaland and Julian Brandt offered some hope for the visitors with attempts around the hour mark, and Thorgan Hazard pulled a goal back soon after when Haaland sent him through.

The Norwegian was involved before Thomas Meunier set up Jude Bellingham for the equaliser, and again before Dahoud curled in the late winner.

Elsewhere, Freiburg and Bayer Leverkusen dropped points after leading.

Patrik Schick’s 17th goal of the season wasn’t enough for Leverkusen, who were fortunate to emerge with a 2-2 draw against Union Berlin as the visitors twice hit the post late on.

Schick rewarded the home team’s early dominance with the opener five minutes before half-time – his ninth goal in five Bundesliga games.

Patrik Shick is enjoying the best goalscoring season of his career
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Patrik Shick is enjoying the best goalscoring season of his career

However, the visitors levelled before the break. Lukas Hradecky pulled off two fine saves in quick succession to deny Christoph Trimmel then Kevin Behrens, but was powerless to stop Grischa Promel scoring at the third attempt.

Union coach Urs Fischer made two changes at the break and Promel scored again four minutes into the second half. Andreas Luthe thrice denied Leverkusen a response.

Union’s Max Kruse struck the top corner of the post 12 minutes from time, then Jonathan Tah finally levelled in the 84th with a header from Karim Bellarabi’s cross.

Union came closer to a late winner, with Andreas Voglsammer hitting the post, then missed another chance in injury time as Bastian Oczipka struck the upright again.

Freiburg, who spent the league’s winter break in third place, drew against relegation-threatened Arminia Bielefeld 2-2 despite taking a two-goal lead through Janik Haberer and Jeong Woo-yeong.

RB Leipzig overcame a number of coronavirus infections to beat 10-man Mainz 4-1.

Elsewhere, Stuttgart drew against bottom side Greuther Furth 0-0, while Augsburg were beaten 3-1 at Hoffenheim.

La Liga: Granada provide more Barca frustration

Ten-man Barcelona conceded a late goal to draw at Granada 1-1 after Dani Alves set up the opener in his first league match since returning to the club.

The 38-year-old curled in a long ball for Luuk de Jong to steer home a header in the 57th minute.

But Granada poured forward after teenager Gavi Paez was given a second booking with 10 minutes left. Antonio Puertas scored the 89th-minute equaliser with Barcelona hemmed in their own box.

Despite falling to Antonio Puertas' late equaliser, Barcelona's unbeaten La Liga run stretched to five games
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Despite falling to Antonio Puertas’ late equaliser, Barcelona’s unbeaten La Liga run stretched to five games

Alves, who helped Barcelona win 23 trophies from 2008-16, started his second stint on Wednesday as third-tier side Linares were beaten 2-1 in the Copa del Rey.

De Jong’s goal was a second in as many league games for the Dutch striker who has been linked with a possible transfer this month, but failing to win left Barca in sixth place, having missed the chance to climb into third and the Champions League spots.

Barcelona next head to Saudi Arabia to play a Clasico against Real Madrid on Wednesday in the semi-finals of the Spanish Super Cup. Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao play in the other semi.

It took Levante 20 matches to finally register a first win of the season, Roberto Soldado and Jose Morales scoring in a 2-0 win over Mallorca.

The only previous win in any competition for the Valencia-based side came against a lower-division opponent in the Copa del Rey, before they were eliminated in the next round by a third-tier Alcoyano.

Mikel Oyarzabal scored his 12th goal in all competitions to help Real Sociedad beat Celta Vigo 1-0, ending a six-round winless streak and moving the San Sebastian side back to fourth.

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Barca reject salary claims about Pique, Alba, Busquets

Barcelona have rejected an “erroneous” report that revealed the salaries of Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique.

Catalan television presenter Lluis Canut said on TV3 Pique is the club’s top earner with yearly earnings of €30m (£25m), while Alba is on €23m (£19m) and Busquets on €20m (£16.7m).

The trio all took wage cuts at the start of the season to help Barca deal with their financial difficulties but Canut claimed these were deferrals and not reductions.

On Friday, Pique published a screenshot of his online banking on social media, appearing to claim that 50 per cent of his annual earnings amount to €2.3m (£1.9m).

Alongside the screenshot, he tweeted: “People like this are paid by public television to defend their friends. Here you have 50% of my salary as of 30 December. Respect yourself a little.”

Sergio Busquets
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Barca said the claims about Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Pique are incorrect

Barcelona condemned the comments from Canut as “improper” and “unprofessional” and said the three players did indeed waive a portion of their salaries before the start of the season.

The club said in a statement: “In relation to the statements made by Mr. Lluís Canut yesterday on the TV3 programme ‘Onze’, FC Barcelona wishes to clarify the following:

“The information on the salaries of certain first team players has not, in any case, been provided by the club and its origin is unknown.

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European football journalist Andy Brassell says Barcelona’s signing of Philippe Coutinho for £146m in January 2018, has been ‘the most disastrous’ in the club’s history

“In any case, the amounts referred to in the information are erroneous, do not correspond to reality and, furthermore, in the case of the first three players referred to, it gives fixed amounts which, being variable, will possibly never be merited.

“It is false that the players mentioned have only deferred 100% of their salary. Mr. Piqué, Mr. Busquets and Mr. Alba waived part of their salary when they signed their last contract renewal last summer.

“We consider it improper, unprofessional and acting in bad faith when this information is offered as true and truthful and regret that information of this type is provided which affects the personal rights of the players and which deserves, when true, the highest confidentiality.”

Meanwhile, Philippe Coutinho has gone on loan to Aston Villa for the remainder of the season as Barca look to trim their wage bill.

Ferran Torres has joined Barca for £46.3m but the club are currently unable to register the Spain forward because of their La Liga-imposed spending cap.

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Erling Haaland has been in incredible form for Borussia Dortmund; check out some of his best goals from this season

Erling Haaland getting even better – Barcelona next?

Speculation around Erling Haaland’s future is intensifying with Barcelona now said to be front-runners for his signature but how has the Borussia Dortmund striker been performing this season? And how could Barcelona afford him?

Haaland has been linked with a host of top European clubs in recent years, including Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United, but reports in Spain say his agent, Mino Raiola, has informed Barcelona president Joan Laporta of the 21-year-old’s desire to make the Catalan giants his next club.

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Spanish football journalist Alvaro Montero provides an update on Barca’s interest in Erling Haaland and explains how the club could afford such a player

Dortmund maintain he is going nowhere in January but even he does stay beyond the end of the month, Raiola has already said publicly there is a “big chance” he will move in the summer, when a £64m release clause in his contract reportedly comes into effect.

With 76 goals in 74 appearances for Dortmund since his move from Red Bull Salzburg in December 2019, it’s little wonder Haaland is in demand.

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Notebook: Prem clubs monitoring Dembele fallout

Ousmane Dembele is considering his options to leave Barcelona after falling out with the club’s board, writes Lyall Thomas.

The France attacker is so far not signing the offer of a new contract with his current deal set to expire in the summer.

He can talk to clubs outside La Liga this month and there are a number of Premier League clubs monitoring his situation.

Dembele and his agent Moussa Sissoko are said to have been disappointed by Barca’s request for him to take a pay cut in his new terms.

They were also unhappy that this request coincided with the signing of Ferran Torres from Manchester City – a player they believe plays in the same position.

Ousmane Dembele
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Ousmane Dembele has fallen out with Barcelona over his proposed new contract

Barca are said to have reassured them that Torres will play more as a No.9. Nevertheless, Dembele and his representatives want a similar deal to Torres.

Reports in Spain also claim Barca are unable to register Torres until Dembele accepts the terms on offer – or leaves.

Barca officials have put the ball firmly in Dembele’s court in recent public comments, urging him to sign the deal.

Sky Sports News has been told that, if he does not, Barca will push for his sale to another club this month.

And if he does not go, they are even prepared to keep him away from the first team until his deal runs out.

The stand-off did not affect his performance on Wednesday night, however. Dembele scored against Linares in the 2-1 Copa del Rey victory.

Blackburn in talks for Hedges, Souttar and Zeefuik

Blackburn are in talks to sign Aberdeen winger Ryan Hedges, write Lyall Thomas, Anthony Joseph and Alan Myers.

His Aberdeen contract expires this summer so he is free to speak to clubs outside Scotland. Aberdeen have tried to keep him but he wants to go back to the Championship.

ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 01: Aberdeen's Ryan hedges celebrates making it 1-0 during a Cinch Premiership match between Aberdeen and Livingston at Pittodrie Stadium, on December 01, 2021, in Aberdeen, Scotland.  (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
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Aberdeen’s Ryan hedges is a target for Blackburn Rovers

Blackburn had a bid turned down for Hedges at the end of the summer window.

Rovers are also interested in John Souttar at Hearts but face competition from a number of other clubs including Rangers.

Sky Germany are also reporting that Blackburn are close to signing Hertha Berlin’s Deyovaisio Zeefuik on loan. Manager Tony Mowbray has targeted a right back with Ryan Nyambe’s future uncertain.

Cardiff open talks for Dijon’s Panzo

Cardiff have opened talks with Dijon to sign England U21 centre-back Jonathan Panzo, reports Lyall Thomas.

QPR and Stoke are also interested in bringing the former Chelsea academy player back to England. Panzo joined Dijon from Monaco in 2020 and also spent time on loan at Club Brugge.

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The Transfer Show’s Dharmesh Sheth and Kaveh Solhekol round up the latest transfer news from all 20 Premier League clubs.

New York Red Bulls target Celtic’s Soro

New York Red Bulls are one of a number of MLS clubs targeting Celtic midfielder Ismaila Soro, according to Anthony Joseph.

The Ivory Coast international has moved down the pecking order under Ange Postecoglou and the Hoops are willing to listen to any loan or permanent offers for the player.

Soro is also attracting interest in Israel but it is believed he would prefer a move to the USA.

It’s understood New York Red Bulls have not made any official approach at this stage and are in no rush. However, they are aiming to sign their transfer targets before the start of the new MLS season next month.

Last season, Red Bulls signed Patryk Klimala and Cameron Harper from Celtic. And former Hoops winger Lewis Morgan is also at the club.

Sky Sports News revealed yesterday that Celtic were looking to offload fringe players to trim the squad, as a matter of priority.

Follow the January transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move in January?

The January transfer window opens on Saturday January 1, 2022 and closes at 11pm on Monday January 31.

Keep up-to-date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.

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