The big story: Barcelona begin 2017 on a sorry note

Athletic Bilbao punished a rusty Barcelona side on Thursday night, beating them 2-1 at San Mames.

Bilbao scored two goals in the space of three first-half minutes as they downed Spanish giants Barcelona in the Copa del Rey round of 16 first leg match. Aritz Aduriz and Inaki Williams scored for the Basques to put their side 2-0 up.

Barca talisman Lionel Messi pulled one back after the break with a superbly taken free-kick. However, the Blaugrana were unable to effect any changes to proceedings despite having Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar on the pitch. The home side finished with nine men as Raul Garcia and Iturraspe Derteano were given their marching orders in the final quarter of the game.

The second leg will be played on January 11. No other team apart from Real Madrid have eliminated Barca from the competition since 2008.

Other top stories:

  1. After Paul Pogba, Manchester United are reported to be hot on the heels of Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann. The Red Devils have also promised to match Pogba’s wages [£220, 000 a week] to land the French winger.
  2. Premier League side Everton have signed Charlton Athletic’s 19-year-old forward Ademola Lookman for £11 million. With the four-and-a-half-year deal, Lookman becomes the most expensive signing from League One.
  3. Leicester City forward Riyad Mahrez walked away with the Confederation of African Football’s Player of the Year award. The 25-year-old Algerian had already been voted the Professional Footballers Association’s Player of the Year and the African Footballer of the Year in 2016. Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi won the young player of the year.
  4. Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola elaborated on his comments made in a television channel last week, where he stated he was arriving at the “end of his career”. Guardiola, speaking on the eve of his side’s FA Cup clash against West Ham United said, “I said in the interview that I won’t be a trainer when I’m 60. But I’m 45. I’m not going to retire in two or three years,” Guardiola said.
  5. Leicester City have signed Belgian side Genk’s defensive midfielder Wilfred Nditi for a reported £15 million, signing a five-and-a-half year deal. The 20-year-old Nigerian is expected to fill in the void left by N’Golo Kante’s departure.
  6. English giants Chelsea will submit a new proposal to expand their home, Stamford Bridge into 60,000 seater stadium. Their application will be submitted to Hammersmith and Fulham Council planning and development control committee on January 11.