Frank Lampard joked he would ask Chelsea to sign Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe.

The Premier League side are able to sign players in January after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) halved their transfer ban.

While Lampard wants to have a say in Chelsea's transfer activity, he joked about signing three of the world's best attackers – Barcelona's Messi, Juventus' Ronaldo and Paris Saint-Germain's Mbappe.

"If I say I want Mbappe, Ronaldo and Messi for my front three I might get knocked back," the Chelsea head coach said.

"I wouldn't say that, but it's obviously a balance where I can put forward a recommendation and have an open conversation with the owner and hope we move forward in the right direction. I'm very open about that.

"My biggest thing here is how hard can we work on the training ground because I know we have a good squad, that's my main concern.

"Of course when it comes to recruitment I want to have a big say in it and we are very open."

Chelsea were banned from signing players during the close season, but have still made a decent start to the campaign, sitting fourth in the Premier League.

Lampard believes the performances of some of the club's younger players could lead to a change at Chelsea, who host Bournemouth on Saturday.

"I just think we all here have seen this summer, and what's happened since the summer, that the idea of going into the academy and giving these boys a chance was a really good one, because they've deserved it. And they haven't been given that so much in the past," he said.

"So I do think maybe we've changed their [the club's] minds a bit on that one."

Lionel Messi can certainly be considered the best player of his era but Brazil great and former Barcelona team-mate Ronaldinho does not think he is the greatest of all time.

Messi won a record sixth Ballon d'Or earlier this month, taking him ahead of long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

While the Juventus star has shown signs of decline over the past year or so at 34, Messi – two years his junior – continues to sparkle in LaLiga with Barca.

Despite missing a chunk of the early-season action through injury, Messi already leads the scoring charts in Spain's top flight with 12 goals from just nine starts – Karim Benzema has 11 from 14.

The Argentina star's form has been particularly impressive over the past six weeks, netting 13 times in 10 games for club and country, most recently hitting a hat-trick in Barca's 5-2 triumph over Real Mallorca.

But Ronaldinho, who spent the best part of four years as Messi's team-mate, is uneasy about suggestions the forward is the greatest to ever play the sport.

Speaking at a charity event in Mexico, Ronaldinho said: "I'm glad for Messi because he's a friend, aside from the fact he's been a leader of Barcelona.

"I don't like comparisons because it's hard to identify who is the best in history. There's Diego Maradona, Pele, Ronaldo.

"I can't say that Messi is the best ever, but he is the best in his time."

Ashley Cole hopes the day will come when a defender wins the Ballon d'Or again but admits it is hard to envisage in the era of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi this year won a record sixth Ballon d'Or – edging him ahead of the five awards Ronaldo holds – when he saw off competition from Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk.

Dutchman Van Dijk has been inspirational for the Reds since he joined from Southampton midway through 2017-18, and he played a key role in their Champions League success last season.

Former England left-back Cole would have liked to see a fellow defender win the coveted trophy - awarded to the world's top player - for the first time since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.

However, he believes Barcelona's Messi and Juventus forward Ronaldo remain clearly the best players in world football.

"It's tough," Cole told Omnisport. "You want different positions maybe being credited with how good they've played in that season, but to be honest I don't think you can look outside of Messi and Ronaldo.

"What Messi does week in, week out is not normal. Again, the same with Ronaldo. It wasn't a surprise that Messi won it but one day, yeah, we probably would like a defender to win it."

One left-back who has impressed Cole in the Premier League this season is Ben Chilwell, who has been in fine form for high-flying Leicester City.

"I think, for me, him and [Liverpool's Andy] Robertson are the best two left-backs in the Premier League at the minute," Cole said, speaking on behalf of Nissan.

Chilwell looks set to become the regular starter for England heading into Euro 2020.

"He's playing in a good Leicester team, suiting his game at the minute where he can attack and he's got protection behind him," Cole said.

"Whether he starts for England? That's probably a question for Gareth [Southgate]. I'd like to see him start because I think when he has played for England he's played very well.

"He looks accomplished there. I'd like to see him start but that's down to the manager."

Nissan are proud partners of the UEFA Champions League. UEFA ambassador Ashley Cole was at the Chelsea FC v LOSC Lille match on Tuesday 10th December, along with the UEFA Champions League Trophy, which is being driven around the UK by the next generation Nissan Juke.

Lionel Messi acknowledged Barcelona are still smarting from the manner of their past two Champions League exits but must "start from scratch" this season.

Barca were eliminated on away goals in April 2018 after squandering a 4-1 aggregate lead over Roma, losing 3-0 in the second leg of their quarter-final tie at the Stadio Olimpico.

Liverpool then overturned a three-goal deficit to the Blaugrana at the semi-final stage last season courtesy of a dramatic 4-0 victory at Anfield, with Messi admitting the pain of those galling eliminations remains strong.

Having emerged top of the pile from a tricky Group F that included Borussia Dortmund, Inter and Slavia Prague this term, Messi is urging them to forget about what happened in the past when the knockout stages commence in February.

"To be honest, it's always there," the six-time Ballon d'Or winner said of the painful Champions League eliminations at an Adidas event on Wednesday.

"But we have to start from scratch. It's a new year, a new competition. Obviously we have to learn from mistakes, but to think of the present and the future.

"We must forget what happened last year and the year before, it would be a mistake to think of that."

Lionel Messi believes the gap between Barcelona, Real Madrid and the rest of LaLiga has closed.

Barcelona lead Madrid on goal difference at the top of the table on 34 points, with Sevilla three points back in third.

However, just three points separate fourth-place Real Sociedad on 27 points and Granada in ninth.

Barcelona have lost three and drawn one of their 15 games this season, while Madrid have drawn four and lost one.

Messi thinks it displays that the strength of the teams across the league has improved.

"Everything is becoming more and more even," the Argentina forward said at an Adidas media event on Wednesday.

"They have been for several years and we notice that there is more equality, that any team beats any other team, which is increasingly difficult to play as an away team.

"The teams have become stronger at home because they know that in order to achieve their goals they must do it well at home.

"This makes everything more equal and more complicated."

Messi has one eye on El Clasico with Madrid on December 18 and has no doubt the fixture will once again be pivotal in the title race.

"I expect a very strong Real Madrid," Messi added. "They have shown it in the last matches, in LaLiga and in the Champions League.

"Barca v Madrid and Madrid v Barca are always special matches. It doesn't matter how the teams arrive, although it's true that we both go into it at a good time."

Sergio Ramos has joked there should be one Ballon d'Or award for Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo - and an alternative trophy for the rest of the world's footballers to fight over.

Real Madrid captain Ramos has a stack of individual accolades alongside the host of trophies he has won in his Santiago Bernabeu career.

But like so many great players of the last 12 years, he has been put in the shade by Messi and Ronaldo when it comes to the biggest awards.

From 2008, when Ronaldo first landed the Ballon d'Or, through to Messi scooping the honour earlier this month, the pair have had a near total duopoly, interrupted only in 2018 by Luka Modric's success.

Ronaldo has taken the prize five times and Messi six, prompting Ramos to jest that the pair should be left alone to slug it out for one trophy, while giving everyone else a chance of taking another.

"They could make a Ballon d'Or only for Cristiano and Messi depending on results...and another for the rest," Ramos told Mexican broadcaster TUDN. "In the end it would be better for football."

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk split Barcelona star Messi and Juventus forward Ronaldo this year, taking second place in the vote conducted by France Football magazine.

But the star goal-getters have been the dominant figures in the world game for over a decade, establishing a rivalry for who will be remembered as the greatest of their generation.

Ramos played alongside Ronaldo for many years at Madrid, before the Portuguese moved to Italy in July 2018.

At the age of 33, and as he approaches 15 years as a Madrid player, the captain of Spain is targeting next year's Olympic Games football tournament and sees himself playing on for several seasons yet.

"I will play until the excitement goes, but my excitement is very great," Ramos said, according to Marca. "I will make the most of everything football has to offer for as long as I feel good. I look after myself well and I hope to continue for many years."

Antonio Conte has stressed there will be no second chances for Inter when they take on Barcelona in a crucial Champions League clash on Tuesday.

Inter welcome Barca to San Siro sitting second in Group F, level on seven points with Borussia Dortmund, who face Slavia Prague.

The Nerazzurri - who hold a two-point lead over Juventus at the top of Serie A - must at least match Dortmund's result to ensure their place in the knockout stages.

While Conte is not thinking too far ahead in regard to how far his team can go in the competition, he emphasised Inter must grasp their final opportunity to progress.

"This is a very important game for me and the club. Our qualification hopes are on the line. It is a very big moment in our season," Conte told a news conference.

"When the draw was made, this was labelled the group of death. There are some great teams in Group F, the fact we are still in the running is very impressive. We should be very proud of how we've done.

"This would be a great achievement should we qualify. There are injuries at the moment, it has been an ongoing situation. The positive aspect is everyone is responding well. Everyone in the team is taking responsibility.

"We have injuries but everyone is stepping up, there are three games before the winter break, there is the right enthusiasm in the squad, we are on the right track, we simply need to keep this up and give that little bit extra and dig deep.

"There will be no second chances, so we must do our job and get the result. In the tough times we need to give our all. 

"There will be pressure on us, but this team is growing and needs this experience. We cannot look too far ahead."

Barca have already secured first place in the group and, with their rearranged Clasico against Real Madrid coming up, Ernesto Valverde has left both Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique out of his 20-man squad, though Conte does not think that will make Inter's task any easier.

"Barca are an amazing side whoever plays. Barca are one of the best teams in the world, they aim to win every competition," Conte said. "They have qualified but will come here to play their game.

"They have no pressure which could work in their favour, but we need to focus on ourselves, play our game. I will tell the lads I want us to give our all. I do not want us to have any regrets."

Luis Suarez scored both of Barca's goals in the reverse fixture as they claimed a 2-1 win at Camp Nou in October, with Lautaro Martinez having put Inter ahead early on.

Martinez has been in superb form this season, scoring 13 goals in all competitions, and is reportedly being considered by Barca as a possible replacement for Suarez should the former Liverpool star leave the club.

Suarez's Uruguay team-mate Diego Godin, however, is hopeful Martinez's immediate future is with Inter.

"I know Suarez very well, he is one of the best," Godin said. "I have been playing with Lautaro from this season, he is developing all of the time, he is in good form at the moment, playing very well.

"At the moment he is at Inter, he has many good years ahead of him, he has the skills to go far, there is no limit, I feel. We all hope he can keep doing well, I hope he can help this team. He is a player with a key role."

Lionel Messi has been left out of Barcelona's squad for their final Champions League group stage match against Inter.

Messi endured an injury-hit start to 2019-20, but has shown little sign of rustiness since returning to full fitness, and followed up his record sixth Ballon d'Or win with a hat-trick in Barca's 5-2 win over Real Mallorca on Saturday.

However, with Barca's place in the last 16 already secured thanks to a 3-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund in their previous Group F fixture, it appears Ernesto Valverde has decided to rest Messi for the trip to Milan.

After Tuesday's match at San Siro, Barca face Real Sociedad before taking on Real Madrid in the rearranged Clasico on December 18, with another league match against Deportivo Alaves capping off 2019 three days later.

Messi is not the only star name to be left out of Barca's squad, with Gerard Pique also missing, while Jordi Alba and Nelson Semedo continue their respective recoveries from hamstring and calf problems. Arthur and Ousmane Dembele are absent through injury as well.

Luis Suarez, who scored both goals in Barca's 2-1 win over Inter in October, is included within the 20-man squad, as is Antoine Griezmann.

While Barca's place in the knockouts is secured, Inter need to at least match Dortmund's result against Slavia Prague if they are to guarantee progression.

Barcelona will find it impossible to replace Lionel Messi, according to club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who added Pep Guardiola would always be welcome back at Camp Nou.

Messi followed up winning a record sixth Ballon d'Or by recording his 35th LaLiga hat-trick in Barca's 5-2 win over Real Mallorca on Saturday.

Despite spending big on Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong in the most recent transfer window, Barca are still heavily reliant on the 32-year-old, who has scored 14 goals from 15 appearances in all competitions this term.

Bartomeu has acknowledged Barca will find it extremely difficult to replace Messi whenever the forward calls time on his stay at the club, but outlined their intention to continue developing young talent from the famed La Masia academy. 

"We Barca fans have the good fortune to enjoy Messi every three days," Bartomeu, who plans to offer Messi a "lifetime contract" told Italian publication La Repubblica.

"Leo is impossible to replace and when he will be here no more, we will be forced to play differently. I cannot say that we are already preparing for post-Messi, but it is true that we have already decided to bet on young players for a long time.

"For now, what we have to do is not worry, but enjoy it. I would like to make him an annuity contract as we have already done with [Andres] Iniesta. He has earned the right to decide when to say enough is enough.

"As a footballer, Messi is number one and we will fully understand it only in a few years, because Leo has changed not only the history of Barca, but that of world football."

Bartomeu also confirmed Guardiola - who left Barca in 2012 after four trophy-laden seasons in charge before going on to coach Bayern Munich and now Manchester City, will always have a home at Barca, should he wish to return. 

"A possible return of Guardiola? It doesn't depend on me," he added. 

"It was Pep who decided to leave, but for him the doors of Barca are always open." 

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde said Lionel Messi's record-breaking hat-trick was a "good way to celebrate the Ballon d'Or".

After claiming his sixth Ballon d'Or earlier in the week, Messi's treble led LaLiga champions Barca to a 5-2 win over Real Mallorca on Saturday.

Messi's Ballon d'Or triumph on Monday saw him move clear of Cristiano Ronaldo, and the Barca captain broke the former Real Madrid superstar's record for the most hat-tricks in LaLiga history.

After Messi's 35th league treble, Barca boss Valverde hailed the 32-year-old star post-game at Camp Nou.

"Unbelievable," Valverde told reporters after Barca regained top spot ahead of rivals Real Madrid.

"It was a good way to celebrate the Ballon d'Or."

While Messi dominated headlines with his latest match-winning display, Barca team-mate Luis Suarez scored a stunning back-heel to round off a fluid passing move against Mallorca.

On Suarez's 43rd-minute goal, Valverde added: "The situation took me by surprise. I thought it was a pass to a team-mate.

"It surprised me, but it was an extraordinary goal. I told him that there had been a few easier chances and this one, which was improbable, went in."

Lionel Messi has claimed Cristiano Ronaldo's record for the most hat-tricks in LaLiga history after scoring another treble in Barcelona's 5-2 win over Real Mallorca on Saturday.

In the week he moved above rival Ronaldo with a sixth Ballon d'Or success, Messi showed why he was voted the world's best player with his impressive display at Camp Nou.

The 32-year-old scored two long-range goals in the first half and added a third seven minutes from time to make it 35 career hat-tricks in the Spanish top-flight.

That is one more than Ronaldo, who spent nine years with Real Madrid before joining Serie A giants Juventus in 2018.

Messi's first strike also saw him become the only player to net 10 or more goals in each of the past 14 seasons across Europe's top-five leagues.

Victory moved Barca back to the top of the table, with the champions above Madrid on goal difference ahead of the first Clasico of the season later this month.

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick in the week he was crowned the world's best player as Barcelona eased to a 5-2 home win over Real Mallorca and reclaimed top spot in LaLiga.

Antoine Griezmann gave Barca a seventh-minute lead and Messi then took over with a couple of goals, either side of Ante Budimir's strike against the run of play.

On a day when the home side's front three clicked into gear, Luis Suarez added a fourth before the end of the first half with a sublime back-heel to round off a fluid passing move.

Budimir pulled another back for Mallorca 26 minutes from time, but Messi rounded off his hat-trick late on as Barca maintained their good form and overtook Real Madrid at the summit.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen claimed a second assist of the season with a quick goal-kick that Griezmann collected and lifted over Manolo Reina after racing through on goal.

Reina produced an impressive save to keep out the returning Sergio Busquets' header, but Messi found a way past the visiting keeper 95 seconds later with a 25-yard curler.

Mallorca, now winless in seven away league outings this season, gave themselves hope when Budimir's shot deflected off Clement Lenglet and looped over Ter Stegen.

But Messi took matters into his own hands with another trademark goal from range, before Suarez capped a fine piece of team play by back-heeling in from eight yards.

Reina frustrated Ernesto Valverde's men with a string of saves and Budimir then headed in from close range to once again give Mallorca a foothold on the game.

Barca made certain of a sixth win in a row in all competitions thanks to Messi's third of the match late on, the forward picking out the roof of the net after being teed up by Suarez to move onto 35 LaLiga hat-tricks in his career – one more than Cristiano Ronaldo.

 

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi became the only player to score 10 or more goals in each of the past 14 seasons in Europe's top-five leagues with a first-half double against Real Mallorca.

The first of Messi's strikes in Saturday's LaLiga clash, a 25-yard effort that curled away from Manolo Reina, took him into double figures for the league campaign.

The Argentina international, who landed a record sixth Ballon d'Or on Monday, doubled his tally before the interval with another goal from range to make it 11 in 10 league appearances this term.

Messi's highest-scoring league season for Barca came in 2011-12 when he reached 50 goals in 37 appearances.

Lionel Messi's inevitable retirement is a worrying thought but the record-breaker deserves to determine his own fate, according to Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Messi, 32, suggested the end of his career was "approaching" after winning an unprecedented sixth Ballon d'Or on Monday.

Ernesto Valverde insisted it was a natural line of thinking and nothing to be concerned about but Bartomeu told Catalunya Radio: "I worry about the day Messi goes."

He does not expect that day to come soon and outlined plans to agree a contract extension with Messi before his own term as president ends in 2021, which coincides with the expiry of the Argentine's deal.

"I would like to sign one more contract with Messi," Bartomeu said.

"He has a lot left. We have talked many times and he has no problem continuing at Barca. I have no doubt that he will play here until he retires, it is a commitment from him.

"It will end when he wants because Leo, for being the best, for giving what he has given, it will be up to him to say when he stops.

"He will set the terms. He has the right to decide how and when he wants to finish. He will never leave, this is his club, the club of his life."

Head coach Valverde is also due to become a free agent in 2021 but, unlike Messi, there looks to be a realistic chance of him leaving then or earlier.

The former Athletic Bilbao boss will hope to secure a third successive LaLiga title before decisions are made over his future.

Bartomeu said: "Valverde has a contract until the end of my term. He or Barcelona will decide. To continue with a coach depends on many variables.

"In Barcelona we have seen very short periods of coaches lately. Three [seasons] may be enough, but it is a decision that he must make.

"It depends on exhaustion, fatigue, although I see Valverde is excited, wants to do well, wants success and wants to combine these players who have won everything with the new generation."

Ernesto Valverde is not concerned about Lionel Messi retiring anytime soon after the Barcelona star suggested he was beginning to think about bringing his playing days to a close when he received a record sixth Ballon d'Or.

Messi, 32, overtook long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo in the Ballon d'Or stakes on Monday when he beat the Portugal forward and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk to the individual gong, despite the latter being many people's favourite.

During Messi's acceptance speech, he remarked that he is "aware of how old I am, everything happens very quickly and I know that the moment of withdrawal is approaching".

Barca team-mate Luis Suarez insisted Messi's comments had been misinterpreted by many, adamant the Argentina great will "continue for a long while yet".

And Valverde says he sees Messi's state of mind as entirely normal, convinced his comments have been blown out of proportion.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's visit of Real Mallorca, Valverde said: "It seems natural [to think about retirement]. It seems normal.

"Leo is 32 years old and, although I don't think he is thinking about retirement, it is something that is there [in the future].

"When a player goes over 30 [years old], he always sees the end closer than when he starts, but come on, I think it goes around too much.

"You have to see it naturally. It happens to everyone as the years go by. To think about it doesn't mean it's going to be in three days."

The privilege of coaching Messi is not lost on Valverde, though he expects the honour to become even more apparent in the future.

"One is aware of that, but sometimes the day-by-day does not let you enjoy it at all," Valverde said.

"I think they are things that are valued more over time. I am aware that I have the great fortune to be able to say in a time that I have trained Leo.

"In the same way that the elders talk about [Real Madrid great Alfredo] Di Stefano, we can tell those who come after we were in Messi's time and we enjoyed it, some as close as me."

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