Messi transfer talk of no interest to Koeman as Barca hunt LaLiga title

By Sports Desk April 28, 2021

Ronald Koeman says he has "no interest" in further speculation over Lionel Messi's future as Barcelona battle for the LaLiga title.

According to TNT Sports, Paris Saint-Germain are preparing an "unbeatable" contract offer to try and lure Messi to the French capital.

Messi's contract expires at the end of June, so the Barca captain could walk away from Camp Nou as a free agent.

The mercurial Argentina forward sensationally handed in a transfer request last August before agreeing to remain with the Catalan giants for the 2020-21 season.

Koeman reiterated his desire for Messi to sign a new deal, but for the time being the focus is on securing a win over Granada on Thursday that would move Barca top of the table.

The Barca boss said in a press conference on Wednesday: "I am not interested in what has come out because I do not know if it is true and because I hope he continues with us.

"I have said several times that it has to end here, but it is a decision that he has to make."

Atletico Madrid's defeat at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday has given Barca the chance to take a one-point lead at the summit by beating eighth-placed Granada at Camp Nou.

Koeman does not see his side as favourites to be crowned champions as his side prepare to try and leapfrog Real Madrid and Atleti.

The former Netherlands defender said: "The team that goes first is the favourite and we are not the first."

Koeman says there is no chance Barca will get ahead of themselves in their quest to dethrone Real Madrid with six games to play.

"I have not seen the players thinking that the job is done," he added. "Now we may be the favourite according to many people, but we do not think that way. We know the difficulty of winning the games because all the rivals play for something.

"I've learned that you have to go game by game. You don't have to go crazy for the possibility that exists if you win. The important thing is tomorrow and being prepared for a difficult game."

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  • Messi to leave Barca as contract talks collapse Messi to leave Barca as contract talks collapse

    Lionel Messi will not return to Barcelona due to "economic and structural obstacles", the club announced on Thursday.

    The Blaugrana great's contract at Camp Nou expired at the end of last season, but he was expected to commit to a new deal ahead of the coming campaign.

    Messi reportedly agreed a 50 per cent reduction in wages, with news of the contract anticipated this week ahead of Sunday's Joan Gamper Trophy match against Juventus.

    But Barca's dire financial situation means they are unable to register new players due to LaLiga's salary restrictions.

    Messi, like new signings Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal, had been left in limbo.

    And following widespread reports in the Spanish media, Barca confirmed Messi could not formalise the agreement, meaning he "will not continue to be linked to FC Barcelona".

    A statement read: "Despite having reached an agreement between FC Barcelona and Leo Messi and with the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, it will not be possible to formalise it due to economic and structural obstacles (Spanish LaLiga regulations)."

    "Given this situation, Lionel Messi will not continue to be linked to FC Barcelona.

    "Both sides deeply regret that the wishes of both the player and the club cannot ultimately be fulfilled.

    "Barca would like to thank the player most sincerely for his contribution to the aggrandisement of the institution and wishes him the best in his personal and professional life."

    Messi is widely acknowledged as Barca's greatest ever player, having scored 672 goals and provided 265 assists in 778 appearances.

    He has been part of four triumphant Champions League teams, also winning LaLiga on 10 occasions.

    The 34-year-old finally ended his wait for a first international honour with Argentina at this year's Copa America, but his future is now in serious doubt.

    Messi was linked with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain when he first pursued a Camp Nou exit last year.

    But City appear focused on Jack Grealish and Harry Kane, while PSG have already spent heavily as well as agreeing a new contract with Neymar and opening talks with Kylian Mbappe.

    The expectation Messi would remain at Barca leaves no obvious next destination in the immediate aftermath of a shock announcement.

  • Messi leaves Barcelona: The numbers behind the Camp Nou great's career Messi leaves Barcelona: The numbers behind the Camp Nou great's career

    Lionel Messi is to leave Barcelona due to "economic and structural obstacles", the club said in a shock announcement on Thursday.

    Messi had been expected to agree a new deal with Barca after he became a free agent at the end of last season.

    But the club's dire financial situation meant they could not bring their greatest ever player back under LaLiga's salary restrictions.

    Messi's next move is far from clear, but the sensational development brings to an end a glittering Camp Nou career.

    Using Opta data, Stats Perform looks at some of the forward's incredible feats with the Blaugrana.

    Messi played 778 games for Barcelona in all competitions, scoring 672 goals and providing 265 assists across those games. That amounts to 937 goal involvements during his Barca career, which began as a 17-year-old.

    The one-club man's first appearance for Barcelona came under Frank Rijkaard against Espanyol in October 2004, while his first goal arrived seven months later against Albacete at Camp Nou from a Ronaldinho assist.

    Brazil great Ronaldinho was the last Barcelona player to wear the famed number 10 before Messi took that shirt in 2008 and made it his own.

    But Ronaldinho does not feature among the top assisters for Messi goals, a list that is led by Luis Suarez (47). Dani Alves assisted 42 of the attacker's goals and third is Andres Iniesta with 37, six more than fellow legendary midfielder Xavi.

    Messi played under eight different coaches during his time with Barcelona. Of those, he featured most often (219 appearances) and scored the most goals (211) during Pep Guardiola's tenure.

    However, the 60 goals Messi scored in 50 games under the late Tito Vilanova – an average of 1.20 goals per match – was his best goals-per-game return with a single coach.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, Messi's lowest average goals-per-game ratio was during the Rijkaard era at the start of his career (0.38), followed by the 0.63 managed under Quique Setien between January and August 2020.

    Messi's most prolific season as a Barcelona player was in 2011-12 when scoring a remarkable 73 goals in all competitions and providing a further 28 assists, setting a personal record in both categories.

    Indeed, the forward netted 79 goals for his club across the calendar year in 2012, which is a record amount by a single player. His next most prolific year was 2010 when registering 58 times.

    In more recent years, Messi managed 51 goals in 2016, 50 goals in 2017, 47 goals in 2018, 45 goals in 2019 and 26 goals in 2020 – a steady decline that he had already rectified this year, having scored 28 times in the first half of 2021.

    He is the only player to have scored 10 or more goals in LaLiga in 15 consecutive seasons.

    Messi's 672 goals for Barcelona were scored against 82 different teams. Sevilla were his favourite opponent, finding the net against them 38 times in 43 appearances.

    Atletico Madrid were next on that particular list, with Messi bagging 32 goals in that fixture, followed by Valencia (31), Athletic Bilbao (29) and bitter rivals Real Madrid (26), making him the leading all-time scorer in El Clasico.

    In terms of individual goalkeepers, Diego Alves was Messi's biggest victim, the former Almeria and Valencia man having conceded 21 goals against the Argentina superstar.

    Real Madrid legend Iker Casillas was joint-third with 17 goals against, one less than the 18 Messi put past Gorka Iraizoz.

    Messi is of course synonymous with Camp Nou, a ground where he has scored 394 goals in 381 games at an average of 1.03 per match. Madrid fans will be particularly sick of him as he has scored 15 times in 22 games at the Santiago Bernabeu – his second favourite venue.

    That is followed by Vicente Calderon, Atletico Madrid's old home (14 goals in 20 appearances). Deportivo La Coruna's Estadio Riazor (13 in eight) and Sevilla's Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan (13 in 18) complete the top five.

    At the opposite end of the spectrum, Messi has played more times at Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena (three) without scoring than at any other stadium for Barcelona. He is also without a goal in two trips to English grounds Anfield and Old Trafford.

     

    Messi's other notable records and achievements

    – Messi is the all-time LaLiga top scorer with 474 goals and is the second-highest scorer ever in Europe's top five leagues behind Cristiano Ronaldo (476).

    – He scored in 21 consecutive LaLiga games between November 2012 and May 2013, a record for a player in the competition's history.

    – The Newell's Old Boys product is one of only two players to reach 100 goals in Champions League history (120), alongside Cristiano Ronaldo (134).

    – Messi was the first player to score five goals in a Champions League match, doing so against Bayer Leverkusen in March 2012 at Camp Nou.

    – The Argentina forward is one of six players to score more than 50 goals in Copa del Rey's history and the only one to score in six different finals in the tournament (Telmo Zarra scored in five).

  • BREAKING NEWS: Messi to leave Barca as contract talks collapse BREAKING NEWS: Messi to leave Barca as contract talks collapse
    Lionel Messi will not return to Barcelona due to "economic and structural obstacles", the club announced on Thursday.
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