Rumour Has It: Man City target Messi amid Barcelona chaos

By Sports Desk August 16, 2020

With all eyes on Barcelona, Lionel Messi's future is again a talking point.

The Catalans capitulated in the Champions League on Friday, thrashed 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals in an embarrassing defeat.

Quique Setien appears set to be sacked as coach, while Messi's future has become unclear.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY TARGET MESSI AMID BARCELONA CHAOS

Manchester City think they are in pole position to sign Messi if he leaves Barcelona, according to the Mirror.

Messi, 33, is contracted to Barca until next year and is reportedly prepared to walk away from the club amid the chaos.

City have been linked with the record six-time Ballon d'Or winner previously, while Inter are another reportedly interested.

ROUND-UP

- Changes are expected at Barcelona. AS reports Messi will be free to decide his future in January, while it says Setien and technical secretary Eric Abidal are on their way out.

- The focus otherwise in Spain is on Setien's replacement at Barcelona. Mundo Deportivo reports Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman is a candidate to take over at Camp Nou with Mauricio Pochettino and Al Sadd boss Xavi losing steam. Marca says Pochettino and Koeman are favourites, while Sport reports the former Tottenham manager is the frontrunner. It says Koeman, Massimiliano Allegri, Thierry Henry and Garcia Pimienta are also candidates.

- Elsewhere, Chelsea's apparent search for a defender continues. The Sun reports they are closing in on a £40million move for Brighton and Hove Albion centre-back Lewis Dunk, who is also reportedly a target for Tottenham.

- Staying at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea are also linked with goalkeepers to replace Kepa Arrizabalaga. The Sun says Chelsea and Everton are targeting Watford's 37-year-old shot-stopper Ben Foster.

- After an impressive loan spell at Roma, Chris Smalling is attracting plenty of interest. Sky Sports reports Newcastle United are keen on the Manchester United defender.

Related items

  • Arsenal need Aubameyang goals to succeed – Arteta worried by captain's form Arsenal need Aubameyang goals to succeed – Arteta worried by captain's form

    Mikel Arteta is determined to rouse Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from his scoring slump after the Arsenal captain continued to fire blanks in the Premier League defeat to Wolves.

    Arsenal head coach Arteta said Aubameyang's form is his "biggest concern", pointing to how important the Gabon international's goals have been to the Gunners, who lost 2-1 at home to Wolves on Sunday.

    Aubameyang took five shots and had nine touches in the opposition penalty area against Wolves – both personal highs for the season – but only one of those shots was on target.

    The 31-year-old has not scored in open play in the Premier League since Arsenal began their campaign by easing past Fulham 3-0 at Craven Cottage in September.

    Aubameyang's penalty allowed Arsenal to beat Manchester United at the start of November, but the familiar dependable flow of goals from the former Borussia Dortmund star has been stemmed this season.

    Asked if he was worried, Arteta said: "I think we all are because the main goalscorer of the club at the moment isn't scoring goals, so my biggest concern is how to help him more to score goals because we need his goals.

    "How important Auba has been for this club in the last two years and how the goal sheet has been shared among the squad tells you his importance.

    "He needs to be scoring goals if we want to be successful."

    Aubameyang scored 22 of Arsenal's 73 goals in the 2018-19 season as they finished fifth in the Premier League, then fired another 22 from a meagre 56 Gunners goals as they trailed home eighth last term.

    Arteta will want goals to come from all areas of his team, but the reality is that they have been reliant on Aubameyang's consistency in recent seasons, and with his input declining the team are struggling.

    Arsenal sit 14th in the Premier League with 13 points from 10 games, having lost three successive home games in the competition, and are eight points behind the leaders, who happen to be their north London rivals Tottenham.

    The points tally is their lowest from the first 10 games of a campaign since a slow start in 1981, when Arsenal mustered a mere 12 points from their opening 11 matches before winning six in a row.

    Arsenal travel to Tottenham on Sunday, and to get the better of Jose Mourinho's side they may need Aubameyang to rediscover his shooting prowess.

    If Arsenal need any reminder of how a line-leading striker can perform for his team, they need look no further than Tottenham's Harry Kane, whose league-high 16 goal involvements (seven goals, nine assists) have helped Spurs edge ahead of champions Liverpool on goal difference at the summit.

    Aubameyang's two goals and one assist is a meagre return, given he has started every game, with his minutes-per-goal average declining from one every 142.64 last season to a dismal one every 448.5 this term.

    Tottenham's Son Heung-min, who has netted nine times in the Premier League this term, has got those at one every 91.22 minutes, with Kane not far behind with a goal every 127.71 minutes.

    With an off-key Aubameyang, it could make for a grim derby day for Arteta.

  • Tottenham 'just a pony' in Premier League title race? Lampard disagrees with Mourinho Tottenham 'just a pony' in Premier League title race? Lampard disagrees with Mourinho

    Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard disagreed with Jose Mourinho's assessment that Tottenham were "just a pony" in the Premier League title race.

    Spurs returned to the top of the Premier League table following Sunday's 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge.

    But Mourinho was keen to play down his team's title chances after they collected a 13th point in five Premier League away games to begin the season – their most since 1991-92.

    "We are not even in the race so we are not a horse. We are the small, young horse – a pony. We are just a pony, and you see the difference," he told reporters. 

    "Joe Rodon was playing for Swansea. Thiago Silva was for many years and still is one of the best centre-backs in the world. And maybe one month of Thiago's salary pays Joe a year's salary. So, calm.

    "I'm very happy with Joe, very happy with the profile, and to be with my amazing coaching staff – Joao [Sacramento], Ledley [King], all these guys – coaching and teaching these guys, and working with Joe has been a pleasure.

    "I just feel sorry he can't play in the Europa League because it would be a great level of experience for him, and I believe the biggest game he played before this one was Championship play-offs and a Wales national team match, so I'm very pleased that he could come here and for 90 minutes he made one mistake.

    "[Eric] Dier made more mistakes than him, especially in ball possession, so I'm very happy with my team, very happy with my guys, very happy with this mentality – that we come to Stamford Bridge, we get a point, we are top of the league, and we are not happy."

    Mourinho used a similar analogy in early 2014 while in charge of Chelsea, and his side finished behind Manchester City and Liverpool in that season.

    Lampard, whose Chelsea are on their longest unbeaten run (14 games) since November 2018 and sit third in the table, disagreed with Mourinho and said Spurs had to be considered among the contenders.

    "It's Jose's call to say it how he sees it from his end but from the outside they're the top of the league, he's very close to the top. If we're contenders then they have to be contenders," he said.

    "I think if you've got Harry Kane and Son [Heung-min] in your team, Son's got nine goals, Harry's got seven.

    "They keep clean sheets well because of the organisation of their team. They would expect to be in the race. They've invested heavily, they've got people like Gareth Bale sitting on the bench. Dele Alli's not here, there's a strong squad there.

    "I think we're all competing. Jose can say it as he sees it."

  • Arsenal defeats are hurting confidence - Arteta Arsenal defeats are hurting confidence - Arteta

    Mikel Arteta conceded his Arsenal team are low on confidence after their slump continued with a 2-1 defeat at home to Wolves.

    Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence scored first-half goals either side of Gabriel's equaliser as Wolves claimed a deserved Premier League victory.

    The visitors' success came amid concern over the wellbeing of Raul Jimenez, their striker who left the field on a stretcher after a sickening clash of heads with David Luiz.

    Arsenal's tally of 13 points is their lowest return after 10 minutes of any league campaign since 1981-82, with their latest reverse marking the one-year anniversary of Unai Emery's departure in inauspicious fashion.

    "They had two shots on target in the first half and scored twice. The team showed a real resilience, togetherness and belief to try to win in the second half. We generated the chances but didn't score," Arteta told BBC Sport, with his side now down in 14th place.

    "We need more goals to win football matches. We need to keep supporting the players. All players go through [tough] periods. We're creating chances but struggling to score goals. That's the difference between winning and losing."

    Arsenal have now lost three successive home games and won one of their past six games at all venues in the Premier League.

    "When you lose matches the confidence goes down because they believe things can happen again," Arteta said.

    "You need to win after a defeat. We've been doing this in my time here. This is the first time since we've been here [that they've had a losing run]."

    David Luiz was substituted at half-time, playing on for 40 minutes after the Jimenez incident.

    Arteta insisted Arsenal followed concussion protocols correctly, explaining discomfort from a cut to his head was the reason for withdrawing the experienced Brazil defender.

    "The doctor did all the tests and protocols to make sure the player was safe to continue," Arteta said.

    "David was just worried about his cut, he never lost consciousness. He couldn't really head the ball, he was uncomfortable - nothing else - so we took him off."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.