BREAKING NEWS: Messi to leave Barca as contract talks collapse

By Sports Desk August 05, 2021

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

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  • Koeman warns Barca must be patient as Fati returns from injury lay-off Koeman warns Barca must be patient as Fati returns from injury lay-off

    Ronald Koeman called for caution over Ansu Fati's return to action after the youngster was included in Barcelona's squad for the first time in 10 months.

    Fati has not played for Barca in 322 days, after he suffered a serious knee injury in November 2020.

    The 18-year-old, who has taken the number 10 shirt vacated by Lionel Messi, has undergone three operations and only returned to training last month.

    However, Fati has been called into Barca's 20-man squad for Sunday's home game against Levante, a team he has scored two goals against in two matches. He has only netted more times against Villarreal (three) in LaLiga.

    Fati became the youngest goalscorer in Barcelona's history when he netted against Osasuna in August 2019 aged 16 years and 304 days and has since added a further 12 goals to his tally, but Koeman says the Spain international will need more time to recover full fitness.

    "It's really important to have Fati back, for himself because he has been out injured for many months," Koeman told a news conference.

    "We have a plan to recover him, to get him in his best shape, so he will have to get minutes little by little and the plan is that he will play around 15 minutes maximum [on Sunday].

    "There is a long way to go before he is as sharp as he has been. He does not recover in two games or in two weeks. We have to help him. The most important thing is that he recovers.

    "It depends on his state. We are talking about a young man who will give us a lot of quality, but little by little."

    Koeman's future at Barcelona is far from certain. His position seems a precarious one, given president Joan Laporta is reportedly searching out replacements, with Belgium coach Roberto Martinez a rumoured target.

    Barca have been held to draws by Granada and Cadiz in the last two games, with Koeman seeing red in the latter match.

    "I have to learn from this. Be calmer. Think about the team and the game," Koeman said. "I am also human and there are moments in games where it is difficult to accept decisions."

    As for his future, Koeman said: "I can't say much about this issue because I haven't been reading the press for a long time.

    "I know the rumours out there, but all we have to do is win games. There are rumours, names. I'm not going to waste energy on things I can't control.

    "The president can speak, he is the most important man at the club. I have no problem. I am involved in my job, I have to win games. The rest does not interest me."

    Koeman also explained he believes he has the backing of the dressing room.

    "Every player and every coach wants to win titles and games," he said.

    "There are no differences on this issue because I have spoken with them. In general, the players agree. That is the important thing. In that sense, there are no differences of opinions between them and me."

  • Ansu Fati back in Barcelona squad after 10 months out with knee injury Ansu Fati back in Barcelona squad after 10 months out with knee injury

    Ansu Fati is back in the Barcelona squad after spending 10 months out of action due to a knee injury.

    The 18-year-old has been included in Ronald Koeman's 20-man group for the LaLiga game at home to Levante on Sunday.

    Fati has not played for the Catalans in 322 days, having torn the meniscus in his left knee during a 5-2 win over Real Betis last November.

    The winger, who underwent three operations, only returned to training in August.

    Sunday's game at Camp Nou will offer Fati the chance to make his first competitive appearance since inheriting the number 10 shirt from Lionel Messi, who left the club at the end of his contract before signing for Paris Saint-Germain ahead of this season.

    Fati has scored two goals in his two matches against Levante in LaLiga, only netting more against Villarreal (three) in the competition.

    He became the youngest goalscorer in Barca's history when he scored against Osasuna in August 2019 aged 16 years and 304 days.

    Fati has since added a further 12 goals in 42 appearances across all competitions for the Blaugrana, whom he joined at the age of 10.

    The Guinea-Bissau-born youngster has been capped four times by Spain and scored his first international goal against Ukraine in September 2020.

    Barca's 0-0 draw with Cadiz on Thursday piled further pressure on head coach Ronald Koeman, with president Joan Laporta reportedly keen to appoint Belgium boss Roberto Martinez in his place.

    The Catalans have won two and drawn three of their opening five league matches of 2021-22 and are already seven points behind leaders Real Madrid, albeit with a game in hand.

  • Rumour Has It: Dortmund brace for Haaland exit with Martial swoop as Man City target Mbappe Rumour Has It: Dortmund brace for Haaland exit with Martial swoop as Man City target Mbappe

    Anthony Martial has reportedly been permitted to explore his options by Manchester United.

    Martial has fallen down the pecking order at Old Trafford since Cristiano Ronaldo's return.

    France international Martial scored four league goals for United last term, after netting 17 times in the 2019-20 Premier League campaign.

     

    TOP STORY – DORTMUND PLOTS MARTIAL MOVE

    Borussia Dortmund are bracing for Erling Haaland's departure by plotting a move for Manchester United forward Anthony Martial, claims 90Min.

    Haaland, who has a release clause in his contract that activates in mid-2022, is being chased by a host of top clubs, including Premier League champions Manchester City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Liverpool and United.

    Martial is still contracted to the Red Devils until 2024, having penned a five-year deal in January 2019, amid reported interest from Barca, Tottenham and Arsenal.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - The Transfer Window podcast claims City owner Sheikh Mansour wants to hijack Madrid's bid for PSG star Kylian Mbappe and sign him "at any cost". Mbappe has also been linked with United and Liverpool.

    - Barcelona are looking at Reims' Spanish head coach Oscar Garcia as a replacement for under-pressure boss Ronald Koeman, per RMC Sport.

    - Madrid midfielder Isco has held numerous rounds of negotiations with Serie A challengers Milan about a move to Italy, according to Todo Fichajes.

    Barca are considering a move for Porto's Colombia international forward Luis Diaz next off-season, claims El Nacional.

    - Diario AS says Theo Hernandez is ready to commit his long-term future to Milan amid interest from PSG and City.

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