Rumour Has It: Messi open to Barcelona stay, Madrid move for Mbappe could impact Hazard

By Sports Desk February 27, 2021

Lionel Messi is reportedly open to staying at Barcelona, but the LaLiga giants have work to do.

Messi, 33, stayed at Barca after sensationally requesting to leave ahead of this season.

But the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is out of contract at the end of the campaign, leading to more talk over his future.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI OPEN TO BARCELONA STAY

Messi is open to staying at Barcelona and is prioritising the sporting project over the economic offer, according to Marca.

The report says Barca strengthening their squad could convince Messi, who has been linked to Manchester City.

Signing City forward Sergio Aguero, Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, Chelsea's N'Golo Kante or Liverpool's Roberto Firmino would help Barca's position in their bid to re-sign the superstar.

ROUND-UP

- With Real Madrid linked with a move for Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, such a deal could lead to questions over Eden Hazard. AS reports Mbappe joining Madrid could lead to an exit for Hazard, who has struggled with injuries since joining the LaLiga giants.

- Staying at Real Madrid and there is uncertainty over Raphael Varane's future. AS reports Madrid are prepared to listen to offers for Varane ahead of next season if they cannot agree to a new deal with the defender, who is out of contract in 2022. Manchester United have been linked with Varane, who is valued at £60.7million (€70m).

- Harry Kane has again starred for Tottenham this season. The Telegraph reports the forward, who is contracted until 2024, is set to stay at Spurs for at least another campaign.

- Amid suggestions Sevilla defender Jules Kounde is too expensive, Manchester United could look elsewhere. Eurosport reports Villarreal's Pau Torres may be a more realistic target due to his reported release clause of around £43m (€49.6m).

- Alexandre Lacazette seems set for an Arsenal exit. The Mirror reports Monaco are targeting the forward ahead of next season.

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    Chambers headed Arsenal in front 10 minutes into the second half just moments after he had come on to the pitch as a substitute.

    Nketiah scored Arsenal's second 14 minutes later when he capitalised on a weak ball back to Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier.

    Leeds, who had chances of their own in the first half, were unable to find a response as Mikel Arteta's side saw out the game without further alarm.

    Arsenal showed the early intent with Nketiah's shot going just wide while Sead Kolasinac struck the side netting with a low angled attempt.

    Leeds weathered the spell of pressure and then had two chances of their own before the half hour; Daniel James tamely shot at Bernd Leno when sent clear before the German produced a superb diving save to keep out Jack Harrison's rasping half-volley.

    Leno was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the remainder of the half as he saved a low deflected shot from James, and was relieved to see a Tyler Roberts shot fly wide.

    Arsenal were dealt a blow shortly after the interval when Ben White limped off injured, but they soon had reason to celebrate when his replacement Chambers scored with his first touch.

    A corner from Smith Rowe was nodded back across by Nicolas Pepe to Chambers who saw his header blocked by Meslier but goal-line technology deemed the ball had crossed the line.

    Nketiah added a second with just over 20 minutes left when he latched on to a backward header from Liam Cooper, nudged the ball over the outrushing Meslier before he shinned it into the empty net.

    The goal stifled any hope of a Leeds comeback as Arteta's men saw out the remainder of the game and secured their spot in the last eight.

  • Ancelotti not taking credit for Vinicius improvement as he urges Hazard to regain 'star status' Ancelotti not taking credit for Vinicius improvement as he urges Hazard to regain 'star status'

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    Karim Benzema has undoubtedly been Madrid's standout player this season, with the Frenchman's 19 goal involvements across all competitions bettered by only Mohamed Salah (20) in Europe's top five leagues, but Vinicius' form has also provided a real positive.

    In each of his previous three seasons at Madrid, Vinicius had underperformed in relation to his expected goals (xG) value, backing up the idea he was wasteful and lacked the ability to be decisive.

    This season, however, Vinicius has seven goals across all competitions from an xG value of 5.2, suggesting he is proving more reliable when presented with chances and also sniffing out greater opportunities in the first place.

    With 10 goal involvements, Vinicius has already reached his total from last season and is just two behind his personal best of 12 for an entire campaign (2018-19).

    Many have praised Ancelotti's influence for this, but the Italian insists he has not done "anything special".

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    Despite the victory, some sections of Madrid's support were seemingly unhappy with how Los Blancos played at Camp Nou.

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    "I said that we had not played perfectly, but that we played a smart game, which was what we had asked for."

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    "Osasuna are a good team that play intense football, that defend well," Ancelotti said. "They are dangerous and their [league position] speaks clearly. It will be a difficult game."

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