Rumour Has It: Man City eye Messi for free amid Barcelona troubles

By Sports Desk February 06, 2020

Manchester City are reportedly lining up a move for Lionel Messi in a free transfer amid the star's troubles at Barcelona.

Messi, 32, has been involved in a public disagreement with the club's technical secretary Eric Abidal, leading to immediate questions over his future at Camp Nou.

City, and former boss Pep Guardiola, look ready to make their move.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY EYE MESSI FOR FREE AMID BARCELONA TROUBLES

Manchester City will swoop for Messi for free if the star cannot resolve his problems at Barcelona, according to The Sun.

While Messi is contracted until 2021, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed last year the Argentina international was free to leave after the 2019-20 season.

Messi worked with Guardiola at Barcelona, with the duo winning three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns among numerous other trophies at the club.

ROUND-UP

- There could be major changes coming at Arsenal. The Sun reports Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil are at risk with Arsenal perhaps prepared to sell their stars to finance a spending spree.

- Manchester United and Chelsea are set to go head-to-head in a bid to sign Lyon forward Moussa Dembele at the end of the season, according to The Mirror. Dembele, 23, has scored 12 Ligue 1 goals in 22 matches this season and has been linked with a move to Old Trafford previously.

- Staying in Manchester and City must wait until April to resolve the future of Leroy Sane after the attacker's switch of agent, according to The Telegraph and Bild. Sane is a reported target for Bayern Munich and Manchester City will have to wait to discuss the Germany international's future due to a clause in his deal with his previous agency.

- With Ousmane Dembele facing a long spell on the sidelines, Barcelona are eyeing Girona forward Cristhian Stuani, according to Deportes Cuatro, which reports the 33-year-old Uruguayan has a €20million release clause. Barca would need approval to complete the deal outside the transfer window.

- Could Liverpool have to search for a new back-up goalkeeper? Estadio Deportivo reports Real Betis are considering a move for their former shot-stopper Adrian, who is contracted to the European champions until 2021, with the club holding an option for a further year.

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    Fernandes has made a huge impact at Old Trafford since arriving from Portuguese giants Sporting CP in January, playing a direct part in 34 goals in 35 games for United.

    No player has scored the winning goal in more different Premier League games than Fernandes this season, the 26-year-old netting the winner in all four of United's victories.

    Fernandes is not afraid to bark out instructions on the pitch, either, and has even been trusted with the captain's armband at times in the absence of regular skipper Harry Maguire.

    And Solskjaer is more than happy for former Sporting captain Fernandes to keep berating those around him if they fail to match the high standards he has set in his 10 months at United.

    "In the heat of the moment people are allowed to air their frustration and be angry for a second or two, but then it's over and done with, because it's just for the benefit of the team," Solskjaer said. 

    "If it lingers on that's a different scenario. I've been in a team and I like a team that has that inner justice where it's not just the managers and the coaches that shout. 

    "I want players to take responsibility and put other players into their places at times when it’s necessary. They're out there fighting for one cause and that's for the team to win.

    "The players have reacted really well [to Fernandes], we see different kinds of leadership, some lead by example, some lead by both, once in a while you just have to take a rollicking when you deserve one.

    "He's not just giving out rollockings; he's also instructing players. We can all learn from his mentality and mindset, that winning mentality. If it's 2-0 he wants 3-0, if it's 4-0 he wants 5-0, he always wants the team to improve."

    Fernandes scored a brace against Istanbul Basaksehir in midweek to keep United well on course for a place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

    Solskjaer's United have struggled for any sort of consistency in the Premier League, however, and find themselves down in 13th position – eight points off the pace – ahead of Sunday's trip to Southampton.

    But they travel to Southampton seeking an eighth away league win in succession for the first time ever in the top flight and Solskjaer can see signs of progress.

    "The main thing for me is to keep improving, and climbing the table would be a sign of that," he said. "I do feel that we are getting to the right mindset after a difficult start to the season. 

    "Generally speaking, teams that are capable of winning the league are the ones that can put good runs together.

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    They were pushovers for much of Saturday's game, with Lucas Perez and Joselu giving Alaves a 2-0 lead before a familiar late Madrid rally saw Casemiro net from close range and Isco hit the top of the bar.

    Conceding the early penalty that Perez tucked away made Madrid's task especially challenging, but they repeatedly looked vulnerable to Alaves' energetic, fast-paced counter-attacks.

    "When you start the game like that, everything is complicated. We haven't been focused," Zidane said, speaking on Movistar LaLiga.

    "We are not going to look for excuses. We played a bad game. I am the coach and I am to blame.

    "We have to turn the page. On Tuesday we have another game [against Shakhtar]. We will continue working. We are going to try to change the dynamics."

    Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois gave away the ball sloppily to gift Joselu the second for Alaves early in the second half, while Los Blancos suffered a blow when star winger Hazard had to come off just before the half-hour mark.

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    "I hope and I think that Hazard's [injury] is a knock like he said and that it's not muscular," Zidane said.

    Madrid sit fourth in the table, six points behind Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad, with their one consolation being that rivals Barcelona have started the season even more wretchedly.

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    PSG had just five shots in the second half to Bordeaux's 14, despite leaving Neymar and Kylian Mbappe on the pitch for the duration.

    Neymar, playing his 58th Ligue 1 match and reaching 50 goals in 21st-century record time, could shoulder little of the blame.

    He had 97 touches, fewer only than Leandro Paredes (112), and created three chances on top of his five shots.

    The Brazil forward offered a more considered assessment of the stalemate than his coach but agreed PSG had to improve against United.

    "We played a tentative match; we managed to score goals but missed some details," Neymar said. "We have to improve that. It's a championship in which we usually win a lot of matches.

    "Yes, we know the importance of Wednesday's match; as against Leipzig, it's decisive. We will try to play our best game, play well.

    "We have to improve certain details, play as a team, organise better."

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