Hazard expected Lampard to be success at Blues

Former Chelsea star Eden Hazard believes Blues boss Frank Lampard has the potential to be one of the best managers in the world.

Having almost taken Derby County up into the Premier League, Lampard was handed the Chelsea job following the departure of Maurizio Sarri.

In just his second season in management, Lampard has taken Chelsea up to third place in the table as they look ahead to their next outing against Manchester City on Saturday.

Belgium international Hazard decided to end his time in west London over the summer and did not get the opportunity to work under the new Blues boss.

When asked if he was surprised by the start Lampard has made in the dugout at Stamford Bridge, Hazard said: “No, not at all. I know Frank as a player, not as a manager, but he’s a great guy. He’s showed already after four months that he can be one of the best managers in the world.

“The good thing is that they are playing with young players, young English players. For England it’s good, for Chelsea it’s good. They are lucky to have young players with quality.”

Hazard added: “I still have good friends there. I follow them all the time. They are winning at the moment so I’m just happy for them.”

All has not gone according to plan so far for Hazard in Spain, with the Belgian seemingly struggling to get up to speed with life at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Meanwhile, the in-form Blues have a one-point advantage over Premier League champions Manchester City ahead of their encounter at the Etihad Stadium this weekend.

Chelsea find themselves eight points behind frontrunners Liverpool and victory over the Citizens on Saturday would be a real boost to Lampard’s hopes of entering the title race.

Abidal: Neymar has a Barca philosophy

Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal says PSG star Neymar will always be welcomed back to the club as he understands the way things work at the club.

The 27-year-old enjoyed a successful four-year stay in Spain, winning the LaLiga title on two occasions.

He also won the Copa del Rey three times and lifted the Champions League title and FIFA Club World Cup in 2015.

After scoring 105 goals in 186 appearances, he decided to try a new challenge in Ligue 1, with Paris Saint-Germain.

He helped the French giants win the domestic treble last season, before trying to leave in the summer. Talks between Barcelona and PSG took place, but Neymar ended up staying in Paris, much to his disappointment.

The former Santos man is expected to try and leave in January and Abidal says he will always be welcomed back.

“A top player, who has a Barca philosophy and who is performing at a high level, will always be an option,” Abidal told Mundo Deportivo. “From there, at the sports level we can make decisions, but the whole financial issue, there are things that you can reach and others that you cannot.

“The future will say. If it continues at this level, because the season is very long, I will not say that it will be option number 1, but it can be a clear option.”

Neymar failed to travel back to Brazil this week due to his recent injury problems. He suffered a hamstring issue while playing for his country last month but PSG coach Thomas Tuchel is expecting him to return before the end of the week.

Abidal: Lautaro Martinez is a complete player

Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal admits they are keen on signing Inter Milan hitman Lautaro Martinez in the January transfer window.

Luis Suarez’s time with Barcelona appears to be drawing to an end with his scoring figures in La Liga dropping with each season that passes.

He still managed to hit 21 goals last term but that is his lowest haul since joining the Blaugrana from Liverpool in 2014-15.

Barcelona have been linked with several striking options over the past few windows as they seek a long-term successor to the 32-year-old, and Martinez looks to be their top target.

Martinez has been attracting lots of attention since signing for Inter from Racing Club on a five-year deal in the summer of 2018.

The 22-year-old scored six times in 13 Serie A starts last season and already has five league goals to his name in 2019-20.

Antonio Conte has put his faith in the Argentinean since taking charge of the Inter in the summer but their time together could end prematurely.

Abidal is a big admirer of Martinez’s ability and his latest comments suggest they could make a move in January.

“He is a complete player, I think he is performing at a great level,” Abidal told Mundo Deportivo. “He is a player we know, there are other players who also have a lot of quality.

“I know Barca, I know what adaptation is like, but I don’t pay much attention to the player who plays every weekend, I look at others.”

Reports claim Inter, who paid a rumoured fee of £20million for Martinez, will demand a figure in the region of £96million.

Chelsea and Barca in the hunt for Neymar

Chelsea are reportedly competing with Neymar's former employers Barcelona to sign the Brazilian star from Paris Saint-Germain.

Neymar was a huge hit with the Catalan giants, helping them win two La Liga titles and the Champions League before he completed a world-record move to Paris.

However the move has not gone according to plan in the Brazilian's eyes and he has been pining for a return to the Nou Camp over the last 12 months.

It looked like he may get his wish in the summer but the two European powerhouses could not agree a deal and Neymar ended up staying in France, much to his annoyance.

There has been talk of a deal being resurrected at some point in the future, and when quizzed about the situation, Barca sporting directot Eric Abidal refused to close the door on the move.

There is a lot to sort out if the 27-year-old is to return to Barca, but as long as he is playing well and at the top of his game, Abidal says they will be interested.

"A top player, who has a Barca philosophy and who is performing at a high level, will always be an option," Abidal said. "From there, at the sports level we can make decisions, but the whole financial issue, there are things that you can reach and others that you cannot.

"The future will say. If it continues at this level, because the season is very long, I will not say that it will be option number 1 but it can be a clear option."

However they will face competition with reports also claiming that Chelsea are keen to do a deal and will rival Barcelona for his signature.

Gunners eyeing solution to centre back woes

Arsenal manager Unai Emery is looking to highly-rated Villareal defender Pau Torres to solve the North London side's problems at the heart of defence.

The Gunners have struggled defensively this season, shipping in 17 goals already, and reports are rife suggesting under-fire boss Emery is keen to draft in a new central defender to stem the flow.

Emery’s men last kept a clean sheet in October and have one of the worst defensive records in the Premier League, something that needs addressing if they are to have any chance of finishing in the top four.

With that in mind the Gunners board are ready to sanction a move for Torres, but he will not come cheap with Villarreal said to be holding out for a fee in the region of £43million.

The 22-year-old has taken time to break into the La Liga side and was sent out on loan to Malaga last season to get some much-needed first-team action under his belt.

It appears to have done the trick and he has returned a much better player, becoming a regular for the Yellow Submarine and impressing with his performances.

The youngster has now caught the eye of Arsenal scouts and reports are rife suggesting a swoop will be on the cards as soon as the transfer window opens.

Torres has just made his debut for Spain and chipped in with a goal as they hammered Malta 7-0. His stock is set to rise even further if he continues to shine, and Arsenal need to move quickly before the transfer fee starts shooting up.

£43million could turn out to be a snip and money well spent considering he is just 22 and has all of his best years ahead of him.

David Luiz has turned out to be a disappointment since arriving from Chelsea while Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi have been inconsistent to say the least. Rob Holding is back fit but that will not stop Emery bidding for Torres.

Red Devils emerge as frontrunners for Bale signature

Manchester United are emerging as the frontrunners to take Gareth Bale off Real Madrid's hands in the January transfer window.

The Welshman’s future remains shrouded in doubt at the Bernabeu, and even though relations between himself and Zinedine Zidane have improved since the summer, all is still not well and a move away looks to be on the cards.

Reports are rife suggesting that United could still offer him a route out of Madrid in the January window as Reds boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to bring in a big name to give the club a lift.

It has also been claimed that Real feel their chances of landing Paul Pogba from United will be given a boost if they can agree a deal with the Reds for Bale.

Pogba remains a top target for Real after they failed to hammer out a move in the summer, and they are sure to try again at some point, in the hope of finally landing their man.

United refused to sell Pogba, but there is a chance they could allow him to leave at the end of the season, and Real are in the box seat to do a deal for the Frenchman.

A swap deal is unlikely in January, but by agreeing to sell Bale in January, Real hope that will give them first option to sign Pogba at the end of the season if he does become available.

Bale will not be short of offers. He has already seen a lucrative move to China fall through at the last minute, while clubs throughout Europe would also be in the hunt.

However, a return to the English Premier League is said to be his preferred option and he would jump at the chance to join United if the opportunity arose.

Barcelona monitoring AZ Alkmaar youngster Stengs

Barcelona are reportedly keeping tabs on AZ Alkmaar starlet Calvin Stengs as they look to add to the Dutch contingent at the Nou Camp.

The 20-year-old has been turning heads with his displays for AZ this season, with the winger scoring four goals from 13 Eredivisie appearances.

He also has five in the Europa League and registered 10 assists in all competitions - numbers that will not go unnoticed.

It is impossible for any player to fly under the radar these days and Barca have been alerted to his prowess, with Mundo Deportivo suggesting that the Catalans will dispatch scouts to see if he features against Estonia next week.

Stengs has played for the Dutch Under-21 side but Ronald Koeman has been tipped to hand him his full debut during the current international break, further exposing the youngster to the talent scouts doing the rounds across Europe.

Capable of playing on either flank, the youngster has mainly been deployed on the right by AZ boss Arne Slot, although it remains to be seen if Koeman would follow suit if and when he gets the nod.

Barca are known to be on the lookout for young talent to try and bring the average age of their squad down and Stengs certainly fits into that bracket.

There is no word on whether the La Liga giants would attempt to make a bid in January or wait until next summer, but there is no doubt that other European giants will have their eyes on a player who looks set to soar.

Atletico join battle for Rakitic signature

Atletico Madrid have reportedly moved ahead of Juventus, Inter and AC Milan in the race to secure the services of Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic.

Rakitic is understood to have snubbed the chance to leave Camp Nou during the summer after the Catalan giants landed Frenkie de Jong from Ajax as he was keen to fight for a starting spot.

The Croatian has struggled for game time, though, with just one start and seven appearances in total in La Liga, and is now more open to the idea of a move in the build-up to the January transfer window.

Premier League pair Manchester United and Arsenal have been linked in the past but over the last few weeks and months Italy has looked to be his most likely destination.

Serie A champions Juventus have been linked at regular intervals, while Inter Milan and AC Milan are also understood to be keen.

However, it appears as if Rakitic will also be able to continue his career in Spain if he wanted as Atleti are willing to match Barca's asking price.

Los Colchoneros are prepared to pay the Catalan club's €40million asking price and are confident they will be able to finalise a deal in the January window.

Barca would probably prefer to sell Rakitic to a non-Spanish club rather than a direct rival but ultimately it may come down to the player's preference.

The 31-year-old is in his 10th season in Spain and spent four years at Sevilla before making the move to Barca in 2014.

Atletico sweating over Costa's neck injury

Atletico Madrid say striker Diego Costa may have to undergo surgery after sustaining a neck injury, potentially ruling him out of action for up to three months.

Atleti are yet to put a timeframe on the 31-year-old's absence after confirming Costa has suffered a slipped disc but he is set to miss their La Liga visit to Granada on November 23rd.

A statement from the club read: "Medical staff have done some scans on Diego Costa to assess the neck problems he has been suffering from. Those tests have revealed that the striker is suffering from a slipped disc.

"It is unclear whether or not he will require surgery."

The Spain international has endured a difficult start to the season. With just eight league starts and two goals to his name, the ex-Chelsea man continues to struggle to replicate the kind of form he demonstrated during his first spell at the club when Atleti won the La Liga title and Copa del Rey, alongside reaching the Champions League final.

As such, Costa's absence should not pose too many problems for Atleti, who sit third in La Liga, one point behind city rivals Real and leaders Barcelona. Diego Simeone's men are yet to lose at home this campaign and Los Colchoneros have been able to count on in-form Alvaro Morata; the former Juventus and Chelsea man has found the net in each of his last six games.

That said, the timing of Costa's injury is far from ideal, with Los Rojiblancos facing a challenging week after the international break. The trip to the Nuevo Los Carmenes is sure to test their mettle against this season's surprise package Granada, who are eighth.

Juventus lie in wait three days later, in what is shaping up to be a Champions League group decider in Turin, after which Atleti entertain reigning champions Barcelona at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Simeone may, therefore, be forced to rely on his younger forwards, the Spaniard Sergio Camello and Serbia's Ivan Saponjic – neither of whom have featured this season – in order to plug the gap.

Suarez admits time is almost up at Nou Camp

Luis Suarez has admitted his time with Barcelona will soon be up as the Catalan giants continue to be linked with replacements.

The Uruguay international is into his sixth season with the club following his switch from English Premier League side Liverpool back in 2014, but the clock is now ticking.

He may have scored 137 goals in 173 appearances for Barca, but he will turn 33 in January and there is a chance this could be his last season at the Nou Camp.

The demands of playing for a club like Barcelona are starting to take its toll and Suarez says it is no surprise that Barca are looking around for younger blood.

One such player is Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez, who at the age of 22 has many good years ahead of him, and would be the perfect signing.

“The demands at Barcelona are immense,” he said. “Every three days you have to have a test, there is no rest, and you are not forgiven if you have even just one bad game.

“It is not easy to play at a club like Barcelona, to adapt and win your place. I have to respect that I have spent five years at the club dealing with this pressure and always trying to respond in the right manner.”

Suarez is not ready to throw in the towel just yet, and as long as his legs are still strong, he will continue to battle for his shirt.

“If the club are looking for, or wish to bring in another number nine, it would not be strange, it is the reality of football,” he added. “A time will arrive when my age will not allow me to play at the level Barcelona require, but while I can, and while I have the strength to compete, I will.”

PSG linked with Griezmann swoop

Paris Saint-Germain are said to be lining up a swoop for Antoine Griezmann from Barcelona, should Kylian Mbappe move on.

The future of Mbappe remains shrouded in doubt following fresh reports that Real Madrid are ready to launch a world-record bid for the World Cup winner at the end of the season.

With that in mind, PSG are weighing up possible replacements and his international colleague Griezmann is the latest name to be linked with the French champions.

Griezmann only moved to Barca from Atletico Madrid in the summer for a whopping £108million, but so far the move has not gone according to plan.

He has managed just four goals in 15 games – not the return Barca were hoping for – and there has been talk suggesting he could be set for a sharp exit away from the Nou Camp.

PSG were interested when he was leaving Atletico, but Barcelona won the race for his signature on that occasion. Thomas Tuchel’s men could go back in for him, but much will depend on the future of Mbappe.

Even if Mbappe stays, there is a suggestion that Griezmann could be involved in a swap deal that would see Neymar heading in the opposite direction.

It remains to be seen if Griezmann would be ready to give up on Barca just yet considering the effort he went to to get the move, but a return to his homeland with PSG may be tempting nonetheless.

PSG also have other options regards a replacement for Mbappe, with Real Madrid youngster Vinicius Junior another name to be mentioned as a possible transfer target.


Barcelona and Juventus eyeing Willian move

Chelsea star Willian could be available for free at the end of the season and is reportedly being targeted by both Barcelona and Juventus.

The Brazilian playmaker, who is Chelsea's third longest serving player, is out of contract at the end of the season and will be able to walk away on a free transfer unless the Blues can get him tied down to a new deal.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has expressed a desire to secure the player's future, but as things stand there is no sign of him putting pen-to-paper, and that could open the door for rival clubs to swoop in.

Both Barca and Juve are said to be keeping an eye on developments as they could open talks with Willian's representatives in January with a view to hammering out a pre-contract agreement for the summer.

Willian is sure to be tempted by the prospect of a move to either club. At the age of 31, it could be his last chance for one final big move and the kind of deal on offer with Juventus or Barcelona is likely to be huge.

Chelsea would have to go some way to match it, but even then the prospect of playing in La Liga or Serie A could be too tempting for him to turn down.

Juventus in particular have made a habit of snapping up players from the English Premier League on free transfers, with Aaron Ramsey the latest example after he swapped Arsenal for Turin.

Lampard is likely to be key to the player's decision and he will be working hard to try and convince him to stay where he is for now.

The Chelsea boss has spoken openly about how important Willian is to the future of the club and how he wants him on board. If Willian feels wanted, he could stay.

However, Lampard has also admitted he has nothing to do with the money side of things so it could come down to the offers on the table from all three clubs.

Koeman reveals Barca possibility

Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman has confirmed the possibility he could become Barcelona's new manager after this summer's European Championships.

Koeman has certainly turned the Netherlands’ fortunes around since replacing Dick Advocaat as manager last year and has the Oranje on the verge of qualifying for their first major tournament since the 2014 World Cup.

The 56-year-old has certainly enjoyed an impressive managerial career to date with the likes of Valencia, Feyenoord and Southampton, while he was also a successful player, most notably during a six-year spell with Barca between 1989 and 1995.

There certainly remains a great affinity between Koeman and the Blaugrana, while it was revealed last month by the director of the Dutch FA, Nico-Jan Hoogma, that there is a clause in the former Everton boss’ contract that would allow him to leave his current role for the Camp Nou after Euro 2020.

Koeman has now responded to that suggestion by revealing that he would be open to taking over the reins in Catalonia, but he certainly won’t be vacating his current role until next summer at the earliest.

“It (joining Barcelona is a possibility, but only after the European Championships),” Koeman told Marca.

“It is a bit strange to be talking about the possibility of going to another club when you are still the Netherlands boss, but I do not know what will happen in the future.”

Of course, Ernesto Valverde remains in charge of Barca, although speculation continues to mount regarding his long-term future at the club.

Clubs on red alert as PSG seek Mbappe replacement

Liverpool and Real Madrid have been placed on red alert amid reports claiming that Paris St-Germain are actively looking for potential replacements for Kylian Mbappe.

The 20-year-old has starred for PSG since arriving on loan in 2017, eventually joining for €180million, and is also a major target for LaLiga giants Real Madrid.

Reports have claimed Liverpool have the funds to sign the France international, but Jurgen Klopp, who met the player's family members in an bid to convince him to sign for Liverpool two years ago, says they have "absolutely no chance" of signing the player.

"Buying this calibre of player is difficult," said Klopp. "I don't see any club at the moment who can buy Kylian Mbappe from PSG. I don't see any club, that is how it is. And we are involved in the clubs that cannot do it. It is as easy as that.

"OK, from a sporting point of view, there are not a lot of reasons to not sign him. What a player he is. But it is about the money of course. No chance. Absolutely no chance. Sorry for killing that story."

However, the story refuses to disappear and Spanish newspaper Marca are convinced that Mbappe will move on in summer 2020, with PSG drawing up a shortlist of potential replacements for the World Cup winner.

As per the report, top of the Ligue 1 giants' wanted list is Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann and it's claimed PSG have already sounded out the possibility of signing him next summer after just one year at the Nou Camp.

The latest reports are likely to enhance the #Mbappe2020 craze that has swept social media suggesting the superstar could be heading to Liverpool in the summer window, with the player's former Monaco teammate Fabinho even getting in on the act after his switch to Anfield in 2018.

"He has already said for the next season he will remain at PSG," Fabinho said during his first month as a Liverpool player. "But I will try slowly to convince him to come to Liverpool!"

Reports on Tuesday suggested Real Madrid were planning to offload as many as six first-team stars in January in order to fund a transfer raid for Mbappe, who is expected to set a new world-record fee of around €250m (£215m) when he eventually leaves PSG.

Real lining up record bid for Mbappe

Real Madrid are reportedly preparing a world-record transfer fee to bring Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe to the Spanish capital.

Speculation linking Mbappe with a move to Los Blancos has been raging for some time now, and Real boss Zinedine Zidane has done little to dispel all the rumours.

If anything he has added fuel to the fire by admitting he is a big admirer of the 20-year-old, who continues to go from strength-to-strength for the Parisians.

Mbappe has also spoken of his admiration of Zidane, and given the opportunity, it is thought he would jump at the chance of a move to the Bernabeu.

Reports are growing that the chance could come at the end of the season, with Real ready to splash out a massive £343million to get the deal done.

PSG are desperate to keep hold and are thought to be ready to offer the player a bumper new deal in the hope he will snub Real's advances in favour of staying in Paris.

Even so, if Real did make such a sizeable offer, it is hard to imagine they would be able to turn it down.

They are already said to be lining up possible replacements and could be coming to terms with the fact that Mbappe will be on the move in the summer.

To fund such a deal, Real would also have to cash in on a number of players, and it looks like being another hectic year for Los Blancos.

Lyon keen on bringing Benzema back

Lyon sporting director Juninho is determined to bring Real Madrid star Karim Benzema back to the Ligue 1 club for the rest of his career.

The 31-year-old striker has been a revelation with Real Madrid over the last 10 years, scoring 233 goals and helping them win two La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues.

However it all began at Lyon where he made his way through the academy and starred in Ligue 1 before making a £35million switch to Real in 2009.

The Frenchman is still going strong at the Bernabeu, and remains Real's leading striker, but that is not stopping Juninho dreaming of a reunion with his former team-mate at Lyon.

"My desire is to propose to Karim that he finishes his career at Lyon," the Brazilian told OLTV. "He is from here, he feels from here. Why not make an economic effort between both parties to make it happen?

"We can't offer the same salary as Real Madrid, but we will wait for the right moment. We exchanged messages when I was in Brazil. I felt like he would like to come. He has a lot of respect for the club.

"I want him to come and play with us for two years, and then train some of the younger players. Karim could be the leader that we need. I dream that he will end his career here at Lyon, his home."

Benzema has scored 11 goals in 15 appearances for Real so far this season and could have at least another couple of seasons in him before he decides to move on.

Real competing with Barca to sign Inter's Martinez

Real Madrid are reportedly in the hunt to snap up Barcelona target Lautaro Martinez from Inter Milan.

Real are said to be on the lookout for a new forward to replace Luka Jovic, who only arrived at the Bernabeu from German side Eintracht Frankfurt in the summer.

Jovic has got off to a disappointing start and it does not look as though he will get much of a chance to turn things around, with Real ready to ship him out in the January window.

Jovic was meant to put pressure on Karim Benzema, but just one goal in 11 appearances has not impressed the powers that be and he was left out of the squad against Eibar at the weekend.

It is a clear sign that he is not wanted at Real, and the hunt is already on for his replacement, with Inter striker Martinez the target.

In contrast, Martinez has had a flying start to the season and is bang in form for the Nerazzurri as they challenge Juventus for the Serie A title.

The 22-year-old's form has caught the eye of Barcelona, who see him as a possible long-term replacement for his fellow countryman Lionel Messi.

However, it has been claimed that Martinez would prefer a move to Real if he was to leave Inter, and that has put Real on red alert.

He will not come cheap and it is thought Real will definitely look to offload Jovic first before making a move for the Argentina international.

Ter Stegen: A win doesn't mean a good performance

Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen insists self-criticism is important as a professional footballer despite his comments annoying coach Ernesto Valverde.

Barca are sitting pretty at the top of the La Liga standings but have not dominated proceedings as in previous seasons.

Rivals Real Madrid are level on 25 points, while Atletico Madrid and Sevilla are just a point behind, with Real Sociedad sitting on 23.

The Catalans have already lost three of their 12 Spanish top-flight games and it has been far from vintage at times.

Germany keeper Ter Stegen broke with tradition to publicly criticise his team-mates after their narrow Champions League victory over Slavia Prague last month.

Valverde did not take kindly to the 27-year-old's words that they need to be more ruthless in front of goal, making it clear any criticism should be kept behind closed doors.

However, the former Borussia Monchengladbach custodian will not be kept quiet.

Now away with his national side for a Euro 2020 qualification double-header against Belarus and Northern Ireland, he backed up his words to German newspaper Bild.

"It is always important to be self-critical," he said. "That should be the case after every game, regardless of whether you win. If improvements can be made, we must acknowledge them.

"We are professional footballers and we should be professional when being self-critical."

Following Saturday's 4-1 victory over Celta Vigo, the Nou Camp outfit will return to action at Levante on November 23 before a home clash with Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.

Valverde heaps praise on hat-trick hero Messi

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde hailed Lionel Messi's set-piece abilities after the forward's hat-trick inspired the Blaugrana to a 4-1 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday.

Barcelona bounced back from last weekend's surprise defeat at Levante with a convincing victory at the Camp Nou, although the result was only made so comfortable thanks to the individual brilliance of Messi.

The Argentina international opened the scoring from the penalty spot and, after Lucas Olaza drew Celta level, he went on to convert two free-kicks to take the game beyond the visitors, while Sergio Busquets added a fourth late on.

It is the 34th hat-trick Messi has scored in La Liga, equalling the record of his long-term rival Cristiano Ronaldo, but it was his free-kick heroics that Valverde was particularly keen to praise after the match.

"With Leo, anything is possible," Valverde told reporters. "This (taking free-kicks) is something that he has mastered to perfection.

"Because of this, the opponent can't commit fouls on the edge of their own box. If they do, we try to take advantage.

"Messi, apart from scoring goals, has a commitment to the game."

Valverde also praised his side for bouncing back from their defeat last weekend, with Barca now heading into the international break sitting top of the standings, albeit only on goal difference from Real Madrid.

"After losing, it's nice to win. Even more so in a team like ours," Valverde added. "We had a damaging defeat the other day and we needed a win tonight."

Barca full-back Semedo facing lengthy lay-off

Barcelona have been dealt a blow with the news defender Nelson Semedo is facing up to five weeks on the treatment table with a fresh calf injury.

The 25-year-old Portugal international right-back, who has been an ever-present in Barca boss Ernesto Valverde's first-team plans this season, was forced off after just 20 minutes of Saturday's 4-1 win against Celta Viga at the Camp Nou.

And Barca released a brief statement to confirm that he will be on the sidelines until the middle of December.

It read: "Tests carried out on the first team player Nelson Semedo have confirmed that he has a calf injury in his left leg and will be out for around five weeks."

The absence of Semedo, who joined in an initial €30.5 million deal from Benfica in summer 2017, will cause a selection headache for Valverde.

Sergi Roberto moved to right back to replace Semedo during the win against Celta Vigo, but he will be suspended for their next La Liga game at Leganes following the international break on November 23 due to suspension after picking up his fifth booking.

It means Moussa Wague should make his first start of the season in that game with Roberto likely to get the nod on his comeback.

Semedo is set to miss the Leganes game and the following home matches against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League and Real Mallorca.

He is also poised to miss out on the away games at Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan in Europe and Real Sociedad, but should feature in the rearranged El Clasico against Real Madrid on December 18.