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Diego Costa celebrates his winnerAtletico Madrid have had two ate approaches to take Diego Costa back to Spain rejected by Chelsea, included a cash offer of €45m.

Atleti boss Diego Simeone knows that he needs goals if his side are to keep up the pressure on leaders Barcelona and El Cholo believes that Diego Costa has the calibre to keep the rojiblanco title challenge alive.

The last meeting was last Thursday and Simeone repeated his wish: “I want Costa back”. Atlético, through agent Jorge Mendes, communicated the offer to Chelsea but Abramovich’s club has replied that they are not willing to sell their best striker, who has begun firing again with the departure of Mourinho.

gary-neville-valenciaFormer Manchester City striker Alvaro Negredo missed two second half sitters as Valencia lost again, meaning Gary Neville has now failed to win any of his first eight league games as the club’s manager.

Neville has taken just five points from a possible 24 since taking over and Valencia are now being sucked towards the drop-zone after this 1-0 defeat to Sporting Gijon.

On Wednesday, Europe’s finest will be in town as Barcelona arrive for the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final. Sporting are a million miles from last season’s treble winners. But the relegation favourites left with all three points scoring with a second half penalty.

tadkleonmessiClinical finishing from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez and two brutal challenges from Luis Felipe and Diego Godin – both resulting in red cards – meant Barcelona beat nine-man Atletico Madrid to go three points clear at the top of La Liga.

Messi was off the pitch writing in agony, and Barca coach Luis Enrique was on the pitch protesting at the end of the first half after Filipe Luis launched an horrific knee-high challenge on the five-times Ballon d’Or winner. He received a straight red for the assault on the Argentine who had earlier scored from Jordi Alba’s pass to cancel out Koke’s opener.

fifaFifa has provisionally suspended the transfer bans imposed on Real and Atletico Madrid. The two clubs were punished earlier this month for breaching rules over the transfer of minors.

The bans were due to take effect from when the Spanish transfer window shuts on Monday but the two clubs are appealing against the bans, which would rule out registration of new players until July 2017.

“Fifa’s appeals commission has decided to provisionally suspended the sanction imposed on the club,” Real Madrid said in a statement.

Atletico added:

bale-trophyStunning headlines in Real Madrid’s unofficial mouthpiece Marca today that Gareth Bale’s representatives have been in talks with the Spanish giants to take the initial steps in the process to renew the Welshman’s contract.

Since arriving in Madrid from Spurs, Bale has been linked with a return to the Premier League, with Chelsea and Manchester United the two clubs most frequently linked with the Welsh star. Manchester United in particular have invested a lot of time and energy over the last two years setting the stage for a Bale move back to England and I wonder what the Old Trafford hierarchy think of today’s story?

Javier-MascheranoIn a decision that will send shivers down the back of his teammates Neymar and Lionel Messi, Barcelona star Javier Mascherano has been sentenced to a year in prison and fined €815,000 for two tax offenses.

Mascherano was given four-month and eight-month sentences for the two offences which took place in 2011 and 2012.

However, the star is not likely to be spending a year behind bars, as his lawyer David Aineto has requested the prison sentence to be substituted for a fine.

simeoneThe Spanish league usually bends over backwards to help Spanish teams in Europe which is why this announcement of the dates and kick-off times of the matches corresponding to La Liga game week 25, in which Atlético Madrid will play Villarreal at Vicente Calderón Stadium.

The league announced that Diego Simeone’s side will play Villarreal at the last possible opportunity – on Sunday 21st February at 20:30. This hasn’t gone down well at all given that Atletico will face PSV in the first leg of their Champions League tie only three days later, which will mean they will have to make their way to Eindhoven on Tuesday 23rd February.

bernabeu-newReal Madrid are expected to complete the signing of Boca Juniors wonderkid Rodrigo Bentancur this week for nearly £10m (€13m).

Real are deep in talks with Argentine giants Boca over the 18-year-old Uruguayan, who is tipped to become one of the world’s top midfielders.

Juventus have been keeping tabs on Bentancur, and even tried to include him in the deal that took Carlos Tevez back to Buenos Aires last year, but Boca insisted on keeping the deep-lying playmaker.

Messi-Barca-FansThe trial of Barcelona star Lionel Messi and his father for tax fraud will begin on May 31 at a court in Barcelona, a regional superior court said Wednesday.

Messi, recently named Ballon d’Or winner for a record fifth time, and his father Jorge have been charged with tax fraud for allegedly failing to declare 4.16 million euros ($4.69 million) in taxes related to his image rights between 2007 and 2009.

The trial will run until June 3, the Catalan Superior Court of Justice said in a statement. State prosecutors are asking for both men to be sentenced to prison terms although I don’t know if anyone expects Messi or his father actually going to jail over this case.

copadelreyBarcelona forwards Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez have been left out of the squad for the Copa del Rey quarter-final, first leg match at Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday.

Messi had to come off at half-time in Sunday’s 6-0 demolition of the Basque club in La Liga and while tests on Monday ruled out a hamstring strain the Argentina captain has been rested as a precaution.

Suarez was given a two-match ban for provoking a fracas in the tunnel following the first leg of Barca’s last 16 tie against Espanyol this month.