What does the future hold for Quique Setien at Camp Nou?

Setien replaced Ernesto Valverde in January, however, the ex-Real Betis head coach saw Barcelona dethroned as LaLiga champions by bitter rivals Real Madrid.

After leading Leeds United back to the Premier League, Marcelo Bielsa is reportedly wanted by countryman Lionel Messi.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI URGES BARCA TO SIGN BIELSA

Lionel Messi has called for Barcelona to replace Quique Setien with Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa, according to The Sun.

Bielsa guided Leeds to the Premier League for the first time since 2004, ending the club's 16-year exile from England's top flight.

Now, superstar captain Messi – who is reportedly unhappy with Setien at Camp Nou – wants the dethroned LaLiga giants to bring the former Argentina and Athletic Bilbao head coach to Barcelona.

 

ROUND-UP

- Leicester City star James Maddison has agreed a contract extension at King Power Stadium, according to The Sun. Maddison has reportedly committed himself to Leicester until 2025 following previous links to Manchester United.

- Mundo Deportivo claims Inter are eyeing Barcelona's Junior Firpo if they are unable to sign Emerson Palmieri from Chelsea.

Tottenham are leading the chase to sign forward Callum Wilson if Bournemouth are relegated from the Premier League, says The Sun.

- Calciomercato reports Milan and Napoli are considering moves for Salzburg sensation Dominik Szoboszlai. The 19-year-old has been linked to the likes of Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid.

Roma are considering a contract renewal for star Nicolo Zaniolo, according to Calciomercato. Zaniolo – who arrived from Inter in 2018 – has found his future in doubt amid talk of a falling out with head coach Paulo Fonseca and others. An Inter return has been touted, while Juventus are also reportedly interested.

- United are seriously targeting Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes. Le10 Sport claims the Red Devils are making a last-minute attempt to sign Gabriel, who has been linked to Napoli among others.

- Kicker reports PSG are targeting Hertha Berlin attacker Matheus Cunha. Inter are also believed to be eyeing the Brazilian.

- Bayern Munich's Kingsley Coman is on a shortlist of players United are eyeing on loan should they miss out on Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, says Sky Sports News. Bayern, however, have no intention of parting with Coman. Liverpool and Real Madrid have also been credited with interest in Sancho.

Victor Osimhen can surpass the impact made by Diego Maradona at Napoli, according to Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president Amaju Pinnick.

Osimhen is reportedly poised to leave Ligue 1 outfit Lille for Serie A's Napoli in a transfer believed to be worth an initial €60million.

The 21-year-old Nigeria star scored 13 Ligue 1 goals in his first season with Lille, and 18 across all competitions in 2019-20.

Pinnick heaped praise on Osimhen, talking up his ability to break records initially set by Argentine great Maradona – who led Napoli to two Serie A titles, the UEFA Cup, Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana during his time in Naples.

"I think Victor Osimhen is an excellent signing for Napoli," Pinnick told Radio Kiss Kiss. "I've followed them from when they had Diego Armando Maradona. Naples is a proud city and also in football terms.

"Osimhen's a source of pride of African football. He's someone who is disciplined but focused on objectives, and if he wants something, he knows how to get it.

"He made the right decision for his career. I already believe he’ll receive the right support from the club and its fans. Napoli are the right club for him to achieve important results, and Osimhen will always give his best.

"I'll say it now: Victor will do everything possible to match and even break the records set by a legend like Maradona."

"I talked to Victor just a few minutes ago: he's very excited about his new experience and new club," he added. "Napoli are a big name in world football. It'll be a new challenge for him and he told me: 'President, I'll make Naples proud'.

"If he gets the right support, I guarantee he'll stick to his word and make you all proud. Believe in him and he'll help the team achieve their objectives.

"I'll come to Naples next season to watch some of their games. Osimhen is young and could stay at Napoli for a long time.

"As I already said, he'll be playing for a great team and his quality justifies the investment made by Napoli, who believe in Victor's huge potential."

Inter head coach Antonio Conte described talk of the possible arrival of Barcelona captain Lionel Messi as "fantasy football", though he did welcome the transfer links.

Messi's future has dominated headlines in 2019-20 amid speculation the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is ready to quit Barca at the conclusion of his contract next year.

Linked to Inter previously, reports of Messi's father buying a house in Milan this week fuelled more rumours about a stunning switch to San Siro.

Conte was asked about Messi following Inter's 3-0 Serie A win over Genoa on Saturday and he told reporters: "We're talking about fantasy football, situations that at the moment cannot be linked to Inter. For many reasons.

"I don't think there's a madman in the world who wouldn't want Messi. But that kind of situation really is very, very, very far from Inter, from what we are doing and what we are trying to build.

"We need to create a solid base, and then maybe... I repeat, this is fantasy football; however, I like the fact that when fantasy football is involved, the team that is linked to it is always Inter."

Romelu Lukaku scored twice as Conte's Inter returned to winning ways at Genoa following consecutive draws.

Alexis Sanchez – on loan from Manchester United – continued his fine form with a goal of his own as Inter moved second in the table, a point clear of Atalanta and four adrift of leaders Juventus with two matches remaining.

Conte's former club Juventus can seal their ninth successive Scudetto against Sampdoria on Sunday.

"I think that so far we have 76 points, which is good, but I am sure it's not enough to win," Conte said.

"Therefore the league will be won by someone else. At the same time, we must have the determination to finish as high as we can."

Napoli do not have a single serious offer on the table for Kalidou Koulibaly, sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli revealed on Saturday.

The Senegalese centre-back has been linked with a move to Manchester City, who will finish as runners-up to Liverpool in the Premier League.

City successfully appealed against a ban from UEFA competitions and may be an attractive next club for Koulibaly, who has excelled in Naples.

However, Napoli are not rushing to sell, even though any deal could help to fund their own rebuilding plans before next season gets under way.

Giuntoli told DAZN: "At the moment there are no real offers. We are in no hurry to decide now. We will evaluate with the player what to do."

Koulibaly, 29, may leave while Napoli strengthen their attacking options with the signing of Victor Osimhen from Lille, with the Nigerian striker a confirmed target.

Giuntoli said: "We are interested, but the negotiation is not as far forward as everyone thinks."

Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta says talk of the Serie A giants signing Lionel Messi is "fantasy football" and the forward is set to stay at Barcelona.

Messi - widely considered one of the greatest players of all time - has endured a tumultuous campaign at Barca, his only senior club.

The Blaugrana failed to defend their LaLiga title, losing their crown to rivals Real Madrid, while Messi clashed with the board as coach Ernesto Valverde was sacked.

So news of Messi's father buying a house in Milan prompted optimism among Inter fans they could be set for an incredible coup.

Nerazzurri CEO Marotta insists this is not the case.

"We are talking about fantasy football," Marotta told Sky Sport Italia. "[Signing Messi] is absolutely not our goal.

"There is no negotiation and I think he is focused on continuing with Barcelona."

Inter beat Genoa 3-0 on Saturday to climb to second in Serie A, although rivals Juventus can clinch the Scudetto with a win against Sampdoria on Sunday.

After the match, coach Antonio Conte was also asked of the possibility of signing Messi but simply repeated Marotta's message.

"I think Marotta has already said: it is fantasy football," Conte said. "At this moment, there are many reasons Messi cannot join Inter."

Toni Kroos recognises Gareth Bale's marginal role at Real Madrid is "unsatisfactory for everyone". 

Wales winger Bale made just 16 LaLiga appearances, including only 12 starts, and scored twice as Madrid won the title this season, ending Barcelona's recent run of dominance in Spain.

The 31-year-old was fit for much of the campaign but fell out of favour with head coach Zinedine Zidane. 

Bale's agent, Jonathan Barnett, insists his client - once the world's most expensive player - is not looking to depart Madrid, yet his prospects of a return to the first XI appear slim. 

The former Tottenham player almost left for Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning last year, and team-mate Kroos wonders if he is "still a bit mad" the move fell through. 

"There's no getting around it. The situation is unsatisfactory for everyone," Kroos told the Lauschangriff podcast. "He certainly wasn't brought in to play as little as he does now. 

"I believe that he wanted to leave last summer in principle and that the club agreed at first and then said no.

"I don't know if he's still a bit mad about that. It's a difficult subject.

"It's certainly not as extreme as is said [in the media]. Everything is okay in the team. I've known him for six years and we've won some pretty big things together."

Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks to have ruled out imminent retirement, insisting: "I'm just warming up!"

The former Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United forward joined Milan on a short-term deal in December, but there is uncertainty over his long-term future.

Rossoneri head coach Stefano Pioli is keen to keep the player at San Siro, with a move to Silvio Berlusconi's Monza or a return to his native Sweden having also been mooted.

It has also been suggested Ibrahimovic could retire when the 2019-20 Serie A season concludes in August, just two months prior to his 39th birthday.

However, in an Instagram video published on Saturday, Ibrahimovic said: "So you think that I'm done, that my career will soon be over. You don't know me.

"All my life I had to fight. No one believed in me, so I had to believe in myself.

"Some people wanted to break me, but they only made me stronger. Others wanted to exploit me; they only made me smarter. And now you think I'm done?

"To all of you, I only have one thing to say: I'm not like you, because I'm not you. I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic and I'm just warming up!"

Ibrahimovic has scored seven goals in 16 Serie A appearances this season, helping Milan to find some resurgent form that has put them sixth in the table with two games to go.

Stefano Pioli hopes to work with Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Milan again next season now his own future has been resolved and tipped Rafael Leao to "explode" in 2020-21.

Veteran striker Ibrahimovic returned to the Rossoneri on a short-term deal in January and has scored seven goals in 16 Serie A appearances.

Ibrahimovic had been linked to an exit at the end of the campaign with Bologna having been tentatively linked, while a return to his native Sweden was said to be on the cards.

The 38-year-old himself said this week he remains unsure as to what will happen, but Pioli – who signed a new contract to 2022 on Wednesday after Milan opted not to pursue to a deal to bring in Ralf Rangnick – feels that his own situation being sorted could sway Ibrahimovic to stay in Milan.

"The contribution he has given to our growth is evident. I hope to work with him again, but there are still many things that must be put on the table," Pioli told Sky Sport Italia after Milan's 1-1 draw with Atalanta on Friday.

"There's no doubt about the fact that he is still well and can carry on, but it depends on many different aspects.

"I believe he and the club haven't spoken yet. There was still no certainty as to who the coach would have been, and I believe the talks have not been arranged due to this reason."

One player Pioli will definitely have the chance to work with is Leao, who was signed from Lille for a reported €30million last July and has shown flashes of his undoubted potential, scoring five goals in 29 top-flight games.

Pioli stated the 21-year-old attacker is performing better in training than in matches but expects more to come next term.

"[Leao] has enormous potential, it's right to have great expectations for him. He's growing – this year will really help him for next season," he added.

"He does much better in training than in the matches, but he will get there. [Against Atalanta], he was positive, but he can do more.

"He has the quality to open up games, from the beginning or coming off the bench. Next year, he could explode, or at least be more consistent."

Manchester United are reportedly keeping an eye on Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak, while Real Madrid want to raise €180million in transfer funds.

Amid pressure on David de Gea, United could look elsewhere for a goalkeeper.

It seems one of the world's best is on their radar.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD CONSIDER OBLAK

Manchester United are keeping tabs on Atletico Madrid star Oblak, according to The Sun.

Oblak, 27, is widely considered one of the world's best goalkeepers after starring across six seasons at Atletico.

The speculation comes with De Gea under pressure at Old Trafford following several mistakes this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Real Madrid want to raise funds in the transfer market. Marca reports they are looking to make €180m, with James Rodriguez and Luka Jovic potentially making exits. It says a potential move for Gareth Bale, who is contracted until 2022, is more complicated.

- Kingsley Coman is reportedly a target for Manchester United. However, Sport Bild reports Bayern Munich rejected an approach from Manchester City for the attacker and they would do likewise to United.

- At rivals Barcelona, the focus seems to be on renewing some young stars. Sport reports the LaLiga giants are trying to re-sign Ansu Fati, Ronald Araujo, Riqui Puig and Alex Collado.

- Manchester United want to resolve the futures of Alexis Sanchez and Chris Smalling. Sky Sports reports the Premier League club will not extend the loans of Sanchez, at Inter, and Smalling, at Roma, but are looking to seal permanent deals. Meanwhile, the Daily Record says United want to remain informed about offers for Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes.

- Amid speculation over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal may need a forward this close season. Le 10 Sport reports the Premier League club are considering a move for Wolves star Raul Jimenez.

- Victor Osimhen is set for Napoli. CalcioMercato reports a deal for the Lille forward is done and Napoli will pay €60m for the Nigeria international.

- After six seasons at Liverpool, Dejan Lovren is reportedly set for an exit. The Guardian reports the Croatian defender is close to joining Zenit for €12m (£10.9m).

Jurgen Klopp said Liverpool need more time to decide on their transfer plans amid financial uncertainty.

The Premier League champions have been linked with moves for numerous players, most notably Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara.

But amid the coronavirus pandemic, the financial situations of leagues and clubs around the world remain uncertain.

Asked if he required a bigger squad ahead of next season, Klopp said he needed time to assess Liverpool's position.

"We are not only responsible for the success of the club, we are responsible for all the people in the club and that means for everybody that works here, that's what we try to do," the Liverpool manager told reporters.

"As long as we don't know exactly about it, we have to wait. We have a really good squad, we have to see what we can do, we have to see what we have to do, for this we need still time.

"This time hopefully will bring a bit more clarity about the future and we will make our decisions, but the solution cannot be to have a much bigger squad for the specific moment and then realise that you cannot use all the players and stuff like this."

With one Premier League game remaining this season, Liverpool are 18 points clear of Manchester City.

Klopp believes in his squad heading into 2020-21, regardless of whether they add players.

"We will have solutions, for that we have young players and all that stuff," he said.

"The size of the squad is not that important to me, the quality of the squad is very much so and I think we will have a really, really good squad for next season."

Jurgen Klopp again praised Thiago Alcantara's quality as Liverpool continue to be linked with the Bayern Munich midfielder.

Thiago, 29, is reportedly a target for the Premier League champions, with his contract at Bayern coming to an end next year.

Klopp praised the Spain international's quality earlier this month and the Liverpool manager again talked up Thiago on Friday, although he had no update on a potential move.

"I have no idea who will play for me next year," he told Sky Germany.

"There is nothing to say at the moment. Thiago Alcantara is a great player, but also a Bayern Munich player.

"That's actually all there is to say. There's nothing to say about that."

Liverpool will complete their Premier League campaign away to Newcastle United on Sunday.

Jose Mourinho is not expecting swift transfer business but believes Tottenham are moving in the right direction and will end the window with a "better, balanced squad".

Spurs have endured a tumultuous campaign with long-term manager Mauricio Pochettino sacked in November.

Former Chelsea boss Mourinho was appointed as head coach in Pochettino's place and has inspired an upturn in form, but Tottenham are still facing a battle to qualify for the Europa League.

Mourinho's side are seventh heading into the final day of the Premier League season, a position that would only mean European competition if rivals Arsenal failed to win the FA Cup.

But the Spurs coach is optimistic for the future, with the transfer window opening after this weekend's matches and the club ready to act.

"A new player on Monday would be amazing news, but I think it's just the opening of the window," Mourinho told reporters ahead of Sunday's clash with Crystal Palace, where Dele Alli will be fit to feature.

"I think we are going in the right direction, very calm, organised, thinking well, measured. I think we are going in the right direction.

"We know what we can and cannot do, we know which directions we can and cannot go. We must not be reactive. We are very balanced, together, and have no doubts about what we need and about what is possible.

"Step by step, we will end with a better, balanced squad. Of course, keeping the great players that we have is a very important thing."

Tottenham ensured one key man would remain at the club this week as Eric Dier signed a new contract.

At the end of a season in which Christian Eriksen left in a cut-price transfer and uncertainty has loomed over the futures of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen at various times, Mourinho suggested sorting Dier's deal swiftly was vital.

"It's really important," he said. "We look to the situation of last season where Spurs started the season with a few players going into the last years of their contract, with question marks on their future - like Christian.

"It's very important for us that Eric is not in this situation, that he's committed to the club, he's happy with the contract and his prospective future as a player here. We are very happy."

Vertonghen is still to agree a contract of his own, signing an extension only until the end of the season, but Mourinho would not be drawn on the issue.

"I think after eight years at the club, it's for Jan to be the man to speak about his future, not me," he said.

West Ham have signed Tomas Soucek on a permanent transfer after a successful loan spell.

Soucek has agreed to leave Slavia Prague and sign a four-year deal with the Hammers, having impressed since arriving on a temporary basis in January.

The 25-year-old midfielder made 12 Premier League appearances for West Ham, contributing three goals to help steer them to safety.

According to Slavia, West Ham were obligated to make the move permanent after they retained their top-flight status.

"I'm delighted that Tomas has signed his permanent contract to secure his long-term future at the club," said Hammers boss David Moyes.

"When I came in, we talked about needing another midfield player, to help Declan Rice and Mark Noble, and I think he's been a really good fit for us.

"He's a terrific lad with very good physical capabilities. He has scored some really important goals for us, against Chelsea, Newcastle and Watford.

"We're glad he's going to be a West Ham player for a good period to come."

Soucek said in a Slavia statement: "I must be satisfied with the last half a year. I have heard a lot about how January transfers aren't the easiest choice, and on top of that I was joining the club fighting to avoid relegation.

"I am glad we made it together and we secured the Premier League spot with two games to go. I am happy that my performance could help and that my loan spell was successful. It gives me strength for the following seasons. I think we deserve to be higher than now.

"Of course, I have mixed feelings. I am leaving Slavia where I grew up and played for my entire career. But I am leaving for Premier League, my dream competition."

Borussia Dortmund are reportedly ready to let Jadon Sancho leave this close season, while Barcelona are eager to re-sign Ansu Fati.

Sancho, 20, has continually been linked with a move away from the Bundesliga club amid reported interest from several European giants.

And Dortmund may be prepared to let the attacker go.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND WILLING TO SELL SANCHO

Borussia Dortmund are prepared to sell Sancho to Manchester United for the right price, according to The Independent.

However, the report says United's qualification for the Champions League remains a huge factor.

Ahead of a trip to Leicester City on Sunday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men are third in the table, a point clear of their fifth-placed hosts.

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are eager to re-sign Fati, according to the cover of Sport. The report says the LaLiga giants are keen to extend the teenager's deal amid interest from United, lifting the forward's release clause to €300million.

- Sport also reports that Inter are pressing to re-sign Lautaro Martinez, who has been linked to Barcelona. Martinez is coming out of contract in 2023.

- Manchester City are said to be getting close to agreeing a deal for Valencia star Ferran Torres. Cadena SER claims City want to include Yangel Herrera, who is on loan at Granada, in the deal to lower the cost.

- After struggling in his first season at Real Madrid, Luka Jovic has been linked with a move. The Shields Gazette reports Newcastle United are planning a £60m (€65.9m) loan move for the forward.

- Linked with more moves after signing Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, Chelsea could strengthen their defence. The Telegraph says the Premier League club have scouted Atletico Madrid defender Jose Gimenez.

- Arsenal have received a boost in their apparent pursuit of Joelson Fernandes. TSF reports the 17-year-old is further away from re-signing with Sporting CP and Arsenal will move forward with a £41m (€45m) offer for the forward.

Juventus director Fabio Paratici said the Serie A holders will improve their squad at the end of the season as the Italian giants embrace a prolonged spell of dominance.

Juve missed the chance to seal a ninth successive Scudetto after suffering a shock last-gasp 2-1 defeat at Udinese on Thursday.

Maurizio Sarri's side remain six points clear atop the table with three matches remaining, while Juve are also preparing for next month's Champions League last-16 second leg against Lyon – who edged the opening game 1-0.

As Juve stutter towards the finish line in Serie A, Paratici talked up the team's transfer plans and their stranglehold on Italy's top flight.

"Improve this team? We try to do it every year, we will try to do it again this year," Paratici told Sky Sport Italia prior to Thursday's clash. 

"These years have been extraordinary results, winning, winning and winning is still not absolutely simple. Maybe we will understand it in 20 years when we look at the roll of honour. 

"We are Juve, we have this responsibility, this pressure which is pleasant. I see that all the clubs have achieved their goals, but nobody says that their goal was the championship. Instead, we do it every year. If nobody wants to win, we'll take it." 

Juve, who have won only one of their past five Serie A fixtures, host Sampdoria on Sunday.

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