Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata believes Lionel Messi can rightly be considered the greatest player ever and is therefore hopeful he does not join rivals Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola's City were widely considered the favourites to sign Messi earlier this year when the superstar forward handed in a transfer request at Barcelona.

The Argentina international remained in place at Camp Nou but is out of contract in June and has again been linked with City, as well as Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.

And Mata is worried about the prospect of Messi, who has seven goals in 13 appearances in all competitions this season, ending up at United's cross-city rivals next year.

"I hope not! I hope not for the betterment of my club," Mata, speaking in his role as an Laureus ambassador, is quoted as saying by The Mirror.

"One of the things that I realised in professional football is that you should focus on what you can control and forget about what you cannot."

Messi has endured a difficult spell since failing in his attempt to force a move away from Barcelona in the close season.

However, Mata remains a huge admirer of the 33-year-old, who has won a record six Ballons d'Or during his trophy-laden career.

"I have a soft spot - which is very easy to have - for Messi," he said. "He is a guy that every time I see him play football he makes my life better.

"I'd give him the trophy for the best player every year. I will give him the trophy for the best player ever because what he's done in his career and what he still does is unbelievable.

"I always make fun with my friends, because whenever somebody has a bad day, they put a video of Messi on YouTube and then the day improves."

Messi fired another blank for Barcelona in Saturday's 2-1 loss to Cadiz, making it Barca's worst start after 10 games of a LaLiga campaign in 32 years.

A new deal for Bruno Fernandes already?

Manchester United brought Fernandes to Old Trafford in January, and he has taken the Premier League by storm.

With reported interest from Spain, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side want to reward Fernandes.

 

TOP STORY – FERNANDES SET FOR NEW DEAL

Manchester United are set to offer Bruno Fernandes a new bumper deal to fend off interest from Barcelona and LaLiga champions Real Madrid, according to the Mirror.

Fernandes has been a revelation since joining United from Portuguese giants Sporting CP in January – the star midfielder has been directly involved in 36 goals in 38 games across all competitions, five more than any other Premier league player in this period.

With Fernandes dominating, United are prepared to double the Portugal international's wages at Old Trafford.

 

ROUND-UP

- Gazzetta dello Sport reports Manchester City could sign both Lionel Messi and Neymar. Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar wants to reunite with Messi, while the Barcelona superstar is unhappy at Camp Nou. PSG have also been linked to Messi and any move would impact the future of Kylian Mbappe, who is reportedly wanted by Madrid and Liverpool.

- Calciomercato claims Bayern Munich star David Alaba will cost Juventus around €15million. Alaba is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, and he has been linked to the likes of Madrid, Barca, PSG, Chelsea and City.

Milan are chasing Hellas Verona centre-back Matteo Lovato, says Calciomercato. Inter and Juve have also been credited with interest in the 20-year-old.

Ronald Koeman has demanded Barcelona's attitude in away matches improve after the they went down 2-1 to Cadiz in LaLiga.

Barca had lost just one of their previous eight fixtures in all competitions heading into Saturday's clash with Cadiz, who had already claimed the scalp of champions Real Madrid this term.

The only defeat in that run came at the hands of Atletico Madrid in Barca's last away outing in LaLiga, however, and their poor form on the road under Koeman continued as Alvaro Gimenez and veteran forward Alvaro Negredo clinched another famous win for Cadiz, who had just 17.9 per cent possession.

Cadiz moved up to fifth, while Barca sit 12 points behind leaders Atleti, who overcame Real Valladolid 2-0, with their tally of 14 points from 10 league matches their lowest since 1987-88 when adjusted to three points for a win.

Barca had 21 attempts, though only eight hit the target, and Koeman's side had to rely on an own goal from Pedro Alcala to get on the scoresheet.

The Blaugrana have failed to win four straight away LaLiga games (D1 L3) for the first time in a single season since 2007-08 under Frank Rijkaard.

The result was one that Koeman planted firmly on his players, insisting that Barca's attitude on their travels has not been up to scratch.

"We can't concede a second goal like that. It's a lack of concentration," Koeman told Movistar of Negredo's goal, which came when he charged down Marc-Andre ter Stegen after Clement Lenglet failed to control a throw-in.

"It's hard to explain what happened because we had a good week. I think the first half wasn't good. We lost a lot of balls. There was a little improvement in the second half.

"It's a giant step backwards to be able to compete for LaLiga. I'm very disappointed. There are many points dropped away. If we do not improve the attitude away from home, there is nothing else to say.

"We have ups and downs in our games, in our attitude, although in principle it is good, but there are moments that it is not.

"When we don't have the ball, we fail a lot. This is an attitude [problem] of the whole team."

Barca have conceded first in their past four away league matches, a trend which concerns Koeman, who claimed his team are letting in the types of goals his former clubs have not.

"In away games they put us behind and that's more complicated," he continued.

"We don't have spaces to play and also, and we have to know this, we conceded goals that I couldn't think of happening in other teams that I have coached.

"It is very difficult to explain, it may be because we lack concentration, we lacked aggressiveness, but it is not easy to explain how we conceded the second goal."

Next up for Koeman is a home clash with Juventus in the Champions League, though both sides have already qualified for the last 16.

Sergio Busquets acknowledged Barcelona cannot afford to continue making costly defensive errors if they are to turn their season around after a dismal defeat at Cadiz.

Barca went down 2-1 in Andalusia on Saturday to extend their winless run away from home in LaLiga to four matches.

The winning goal, scored by Alvaro Negredo, came after a dreadful mix-up at the back as Clement Lenglet failed to control a simple throw-in and Marc-Andre ter Stegen's clearance was charged down.

The goalkeeper was not blameless, but the decisive strike went down as a Lenglet error, according to Opta, his first in 99 league games for the Blaugrana.

While it was a rare lapse for the centre-back, these mistakes are becoming worryingly common among his team-mates.

In their past three away games, from which Barca have taken just a point, Ronald Koeman's side have conceded three of four goals due to errors.

Neto was embarrassingly tackled in the draw at Deportivo Alaves, before Ter Stegen needlessly charged from his line in the one-goal defeat to LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid.

Even the opener at Cadiz, although not deemed an error, came after Oscar Mingueza aimed a header at his own goal, allowing Alvaro Gimenez to tuck away the rebound.

It meant Barca lost despite boasting 82.1 per cent of the possession, the second-most for a beaten side in LaLiga since 2005-06, behind only the 2013-14 Blaugrana team at Granada (82.28 per cent in a 1-0 defeat).

"We reacted, but it costs us much more if there are two goals," midfielder Busquets told Movistar. "We made a mistake and then there was half an hour left when we equalised, but we made another mistake.

"Individual mistakes are costing us a lot. We will have to correct that, have more fortune, and continue."

Barca have had six errors leading to shots and three to goals in LaLiga this term, yet their three such mistakes in Champions League matches – including one from Lenglet – have gone unpunished.

Koeman's men lead their European group with five wins from five and can clinch top spot against Juventus on Tuesday.

"In the Champions League, the team seems different," Busquets added. "I do not know why.

"What I can say is that, in recent games, occasional errors turn the game against us. If they score a goal, they close up at the back.

"We cannot blame ourselves for attitude or commitment but this costs you games."

The meeting with the Bianconeri provides a welcome distraction from what is turning into a particularly testing league campaign, with Barca way down in seventh and already 12 points behind Atleti.

Busquets said: "There are many defeats. It is clear that there is a lot of LaLiga left, but the more we lose the more we fall away from the top positions."

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo said "we don't touch other people's players" when asked about the possibility of Lionel Messi teaming up again with Neymar at the Ligue 1 champions. 

Brazil international Neymar caused a stir in the week, saying there is nothing he wants more than to line up alongside his former Barcelona team-mate again next year.

Messi failed to engineer a move away from Barca in the previous transfer window but, with his contract running out next June, it remains unclear whether he will choose to leave in 2021.

Neymar and Messi played together at Camp Nou between 2013 and 2017, but Leonardo did not want to talk up the chances of a mouth-watering reunion between the pair in Paris. 

"You know, it's normal for Neymar to say that to an Argentinian journalist," he told Canal+. "He had to talk about Messi. It's normal.

"We have to maintain respect for others. He's a Barcelona player. When somebody talks about our players, we are not happy. So we don't touch other people's players. Now is not the time to think about the transfer window.

"We are very happy with the squad we have. We are thinking of our season and the end of the first part of the season, which was very complicated.

"We have to stay focused on our goals such as qualifying for the last 16 in the Champions League. And also we have to think about Ligue 1, and avoid finding ourselves in a complicated situation. Let's keep our focus."

After picking up just one point from their previous two Ligue 1 games, PSG returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory over Montpellier on Saturday. 

Kylian Mbappe scored the third in stoppage time with his 100th goal for the club and Leonardo revealed talks over a new contract for the 21-year-old are progressing well, with his current deal running out in 2022.

"We're talking," he said. "We want to discuss and he also wants to discuss. Now is also the time to come to a clearer idea of his future. 

"It is going well. We have taken steps forward compared to 10, 15 days ago and we will continue."

Barcelona's miserable away run continued as Cadiz claimed another big scalp with a 2-1 win on Saturday.

The Blaugrana are now winless in four on the road in LaLiga - their worst such run since May 2008 - and a dismal defensive mix-up gifted all three points to surprise package Cadiz.

Alvaro Gimenez struck a scrappy, contentious opener with just eight minutes played, but the promoted side, who enjoyed a stunning win away at Real Madrid earlier this season, were pegged back by Pedro Alcala's own goal before the hour mark.

Rather than protect their point, Cadiz rallied again and were rewarded when veteran substitute Alvaro Negredo seized possession from Marc-Andre ter Stegen to restore the home advantage 44 seconds after his introduction.

Barca had 81 per cent of possession but could not break down the spirited hosts, who moved fifth as Ronald Koeman's side fell 12 points off the pace set by Atletico Madrid.

Cadiz had peppered the Madrid goal early on in October to stun the champions, taking the lead with their seventh effort inside 16 minutes, but their sole first-half shot proved enough to be in front at the interval this time.

Oscar Mingueza went to ground in a tussle with Marcos Mauro from a corner and recovered only to direct a header towards his own goal, with Ter Stegen's save falling kindly for Gimenez to slam into the net from on the goal line.

Barca appealed in vain for a foul but responded strongly and Lionel Messi started to pull the strings. He set in motion a move that saw Philippe Coutinho fire over from an acute angle, before feeding Martin Braithwaite for a low shot that was diverted away by the boot of goalkeeper Jeremias Ledesma.

Mingueza and Coutinho were replaced at half-time, with Pedri and Ousmane Dembele introduced, but Barca still required a slice of fortune to draw level as Jordi Alba's low cross clipped Alcala - on in place of Mauro - and wrongfooted Ledesma at his near post.

The Blaugrana's hard work was quickly undone. Clement Lenglet failed to control a routine throw-in on the left and the ball instead ran for Ter Stegen, who Negredo charged down before evading Frenkie de Jong's despairing challenge to tap into the net.

Sergino Dest scuffed wide from a promising position as Barca again piled on the pressure, though Ivan Alejo and Bobby Adekanye each passed up late chances to increase the margin of victory.

Robert Lewandowski has hailed Lionel Messi as one of football's greats, suggesting it could be another century before a player of his quality comes along again.

Lewandowski led Bayern Munich to a domestic and European treble last term, scoring a remarkable 55 goals across all competitions.

The 32-year-old has picked up where he left off this season, with 15 goals from 14 appearances ahead of Saturday's Bundesliga clash with RB Leipzig.

Lewandowski scored one and set up another as Bayern trashed Messi's Barcelona 8-2 en route to their Champions League triumph in August, a result which contributed to the Blaugrana's talisman asking to leave Camp Nou.

Messi did not get his wish, however, and ultimately agreed to stay on and see out the final year of his contract.

With the Argentinian set to become a free agent at the end of the season, a number of Europe's biggest clubs will be on high alert, and Lewandowski believes Messi is such a unique talent that it may well be another 100 years before another player of his ilk comes to the fore.

"He is a great player, one of the greatest in the history of football," Lewandowski told Ole.

"I know that the expectations around him are enormous and what he has already achieved as a footballer is something that perhaps no one will achieve.

"Maybe you have to wait 100 years for someone like him to be born again. With what he has already done, he is and will be one of the greatest in all of history."

With the Ballon d'Or not being awarded for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Lewandowski has at least been nominated alongside Messi to be named The Best FIFA Men's Player.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi received the FIFA award last season and Lewandowski chuckled at the suggestion the 33-year-old should stand aside for somebody else.

"I know that he also wants to win it!" Lewandowski said. "It is logical. It's our job."

Lewandowski also paid tribute to Argentina great Diego Maradona, who passed away last month.

"A great sadness. The news was very ugly," Lewandowski said. "That a player as fabulous as Maradona has left is very sad for all of football.

"We are all very sad but it happened, sadly. When he played, I was hardly born, but I know very well what he did in football and in the 1986 World Cup, how many great games he played.

"As a person it was the same as a player. He liked to have fun and enjoyed life both on and off the field."

Robert Lewandowski does not believe he can be compared to Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or any of the other nominees for FIFA's The Best award following his success with Bayern Munich.

While France Football made the decision not to name a Ballon d'Or winner for 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, world football's governing body will crown The Best FIFA Men's Player on December 17.

The award takes into account accomplishments between July 20, 2019 and October 7 of this year. During that time, Lewandowski scored 55 goals in an incredible 2019-20 season that saw Bayern complete a Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble, before adding the UEFA Super Cup and DFL-Supercup this term.

Ronaldo scored 31 goals as Juventus won the Scudetto and he became the first player to strike 50 times in the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A in the process.

Messi, who took home the accolade in 2019, led LaLiga in goals (25) and assists (21), but his tally of 56 goal involvements in all competitions (31 scored, 25 assisted) represented his worst season since 2013-14.

Kylian Mbappe, Sadio Mane, Neymar and Mohamed Salah are the other forwards on the 11-man shortlist for The Best FIFA Men's Player, but Lewandowski does not think any comparison can be made to him.

"I don't think about that, because I think the most important thing is to analyse what your team achieved in the season," Lewandowski told Ole when asked who his biggest competition for the award is.

"If you scored a lot of goals and won everything and were at the top, I don't think there's anyone I can compare myself to.

"I just focus and think about the next challenge, and so on. If I win the award, of course I will be happy because I know everything I did, that it was for the team, and I know that it will be a decision of the fans and the journalists who vote."

Asked if he feels he deserves to win, Lewandowski added: "Hopefully. It would be a unique feeling. If I won The Best it would be something spectacular for me and an award for the whole team, because I know how well we played.

"What we did last season, for me, was incredible and I think we were the best. We are the best, there is no doubt. And we want to stay in that place

"It's always special to win a FIFA award, a dream. Personally, I know how hard I worked and pushed myself to have the year I had. If you love what you do, it is possible to get the prize.

"But I insist, winning it would be a prize for the whole team. Bayern had an unbeatable year."

Barcelona's interim president Carlos Tusquets has clarified comments he made regarding Lionel Messi following criticism from head coach Ronald Koeman.

Tusquets appeared to suggest earlier this week that Barca should have sold Messi during the close season after the superstar forward handed in a transfer request.

The 69-year-old, who stepped in after Josep Maria Bartomeu and the board of directors resigned in late October, is quoted to have told RAC1: "Economically speaking, I would've sold Messi in the summer window.

"Both in terms of what you save on the wage bill as well as the money you make, it would've been desirable."

Others in the running to succeed Bartomeu as Barca's next president have also talked at length about the uncertain future of Messi, who is due to become a free agent at the end of the campaign.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Koeman told the club's senior figures to stop making public declarations regarding the touchy subject.

And Tusquets has now tried to clear up the issue in an interview with Catalunya Radio.

"I did not say I would have sold Messi. I said that financially his departure would have been good for the club," he said.

"If it's necessary, I will explain to Koeman that they have poorly translated what I said."

Messi has spent his entire career at Camp Nou but attempted to leave ahead of the 2020-21 campaign after growing frustrated by the running of the club under the previous regime.

Barca demanded any suitors pay €700million, despite Messi attempting to activate a get-out clause in his contract that would have allowed him to leave on a free transfer for a certain period at the end of the season.

Opting against dragging Barca through the courts to force a move, Messi eventually elected to remain and see out the final year of his contract, which runs out in June.

Asked if he has spoken to Messi's advisors about his comments earlier this week, Tusquets said: "I am ready to speak with them to explain my response."

He added: "It's evident that I am going to limit my appearances in the media from now on."

Lionel Messi reportedly remains a target for Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi, 33, is contracted at Barcelona until the end of the season, having stayed at the club after sensationally requesting to leave earlier this year.

With uncertainty still surrounding his future, the Barcelona star is apparently wanted by PSG.

 

TOP STORY – PSG EXPLORING POSSIBILITY OF SIGNING MESSI

PSG are exploring the possibility of signing Barcelona star Messi, according to ESPN.

Along with Manchester City and Inter, PSG have been among the clubs most heavily linked with a move for the Argentina international.

The report says Neymar and sporting director Leonardo have discussed bringing Messi to PSG.

It comes just days after Neymar said he wanted to play with Messi again and was keen for it to happen "next season".

 

ROUND-UP

- Still linked with Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, Manchester United could look elsewhere. The Sun reports United are eyeing Leicester City winger Harvey Barnes as a possible alternative.

- Staying at Manchester United and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been under some pressure. Bild reports the Premier League giants are interested in PSG coach Thomas Tuchel if they decide to sack Solskjaer.

- With Christian Eriksen seemingly set for an exit, Inter are considering their midfield transfer targets. CalcioMercato reports Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante remains Inter's dream signing, but Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum is also an option with his contract expiring at the end of the season. However, the report also says Inter could challenge Liverpool for the signing of Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Yves Bissouma.

- Also at Liverpool, the Premier League champions are reportedly still eyeing a centre-back amid their injury woes. Bild reports RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano is on their list, as is his 21-year-old team-mate Ibrahima Konate.

- Atlanta United could be close to appointing a new coach. TyC Sports says former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Argentina defender Gabriel Heinze, most recently in charge of Velez Sarsfield, is a step away from taking over at the MLS club.

Ronald Koeman has told Barcelona they must win all their remaining six games in 2020 to stay in the LaLiga title hunt. 

A rocky start to the campaign has followed the turbulent end to last season, which came to a head with the 8-2 thumping by Bayern Munich in the Champions League. 

Tension was then created when Lionel Messi tried to push through a close-season exit, while the effect of the pandemic has also hit Barcelona hard, causing off-field strife, with the early departure of president Josep Maria Bartomeu bringing club elections forward to January. 

A whole host of distractions appear to have taken a toll on Barcelona's first-team squad, with three defeats in their opening nine LaLiga games leaving coach Koeman with a tall order to reel in the early front-runners. 

Real Sociedad, Atletico Madrid and Villarreal are the surprise top three, with Real Madrid fourth and Barcelona seventh heading into the weekend. 

Koeman feels there is no room for error now, saying: "Atletico win their games, they concede few goals. The season is long, but we cannot lose more points and until the end of the year - we have to win all the games."

On Saturday they tackle a Cadiz side who sit sixth, a point ahead of Barcelona albeit having played two more games. 

Cadiz beat Real Madrid earlier this season, however, so Koeman is taking their threat seriously. 

Koeman is trying to see a bright future for his team, and despite stressing the need to string together wins, he would not go further into what a defeat to Cadiz might mean. 

"You have to answer when things happen, I prefer to think that you can win games and be positive," he said. 

Cadiz have taken 13 of their 15 points this season away from home, and their last league win anywhere came in October. It suggests Barcelona may be facing last season's Segunda Division runners-up at a good time. 

Cadiz have also not beaten Barcelona in LaLiga since May 1991, when Koeman lined up in a championship-winning Johan Cruyff team that suffered a 4-0 humiliation. 

Barcelona have won all six of the league games between the sides since, but head into this weekend on a rough run away from Camp Nou. 

Koeman's side have taken only one point from their last three LaLiga away games and are desperate to avoid a fourth such match without a victory. The club last endured such a dry run on the road when Frank Rijkaard's team went six without winning from March to May in 2008, with Pep Guardiola soon stepping in to shake up the side. 

"Normally we will have a lot of ball against a defence like that of Cadiz," Koeman said. 

"We will have to be patient. It seems to be more difficult for them to win at home, but they are achieving good results [overall this season], and it is a difficult ground where we must be focused to play at our level and score goals." 

If Messi finds the net, it will be his first goal against Cadiz in LaLiga. Barcelona's record goalscorer has scored against 37 of the 40 sides he has faced in the competition, with Xerez, Real Murcia and Cadiz being the exceptions. 

Messi has, admittedly, only played against Cadiz once previously.

Ronald Koeman has told Barcelona senior figures to stop making public declarations about the touchy subject of Lionel Messi's future.

The head coach spoke out after interim president Carlos Tusquets said this week the club should have sold Messi during the close season.

Candidates for the Barcelona presidency have also spoken at length about the 33-year-old Argentinian, but Koeman believes it is unhelpful for such figures to fuel speculation.

At the same time, Koeman said in his news conference on Friday that Barcelona supporters would always want to have the best players at the club, in response to Neymar's suggestion he wished to be reunited with Messi.

But when it comes to talking to the media about Messi, who is into the final year of his contract with his future plans unclear, Koeman says the time has come for the commentary coming out of Barcelona to stop.

"We know the situation with Leo," Koeman said. "If there is someone who can say, it is Leo himself, the comments from outside do not interest me.

"If we make them within the club they do not help us to have peace of mind to do our work. We cannot control the comments from the outside, from the inside it is different."

Barcelona play Cadiz in LaLiga on Saturday and are already well off the pace this season, with any distractions to team harmony considered highly unhelpful.

Asked about Tusquets' remarks, Koeman said: "I respect opinions, but Messi must decide his future and I don't like comments in that sense."

The message from Koeman was clear: that he will stay out of the business of the presidential candidates and they should avoid being disruptive to his job of running the team.

"I have already said several times that I am not worried because I do not know what will happen in the elections," he said. "When it is known, we will talk. Until then, the best thing I can do is focus on the games."

When asked about the possibility of Messi and Neymar playing on the same side again, Koeman expressed cautious enthusiasm.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward, who spent four years at Barcelona before Paris Saint-Germain bought him out of his contract in 2017 for €222million, said this week that he wished to play on the same team as Messi next year.

"I don't like to talk about individual cases, but as a cule [a Barcelona fanatic] you want to see the best in your team," Koeman said.

Neymar took a route-one approach to attracting the interest of Lionel Messi, but discretion may be order of the day for Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

Moments after coming off the pitch after PSG's 3-1 Champions League win at Manchester United, Neymar said he hoped to be reunited in 2021 with former Barcelona team-mate Messi.

That sparked inevitable debate about how it might happen, should Neymar be serious about that wish.

PSG would appear better placed to sign Messi than Barcelona are equipped to re-sign Neymar, given the Camp Nou great could be available on a free transfer at the end of this season.

To land the Argentine forward - LaLiga's all-time record scorer - would be a remarkable coup for PSG and president Al-Khelaifi.

Speaking to French talk show Touche Pas a Mon Poste, Al-Khelaifi was asked about the possibility of Messi coming to Paris.

"Messi is a Barcelona player. I can't talk about that," replied Al-Khelaifi.

Al-Khelaifi then joked that he was currently in Barcelona but later quashed speculation by stressing he was actually in London.

Neymar was not nearly as diplomatic on Wednesday when he told ESPN: "What I want most is to play with Messi again.

"I want to play with him. I'll let him play in my position if he wants! Next year, we have to play together, for sure."

Neymar's two goals in PSG's win over United took him to 38 in the Champions League in his career. Since his debut in 2013, only Cristiano Ronaldo (79), Robert Lewandowski (60) and Messi (59) have scored more.

He, Messi and Luis Suarez forged a three-pronged attack at Barcelona that was dubbed the MSN forward line, until Neymar left suddenly in 2017 when PSG agreed to meet the €222million buyout clause in his contract.

Suarez departed in September to join Atletico Madrid, leaving Messi as the lone survivor of the three, but even he has signalled a desire to leave.

Barcelona refused to let Messi go on a free transfer at the end of last season, resisting the player's desire to move on, when it appeared Manchester City was his likely destination.

Barca's interim president Carlos Tusquets this week said the club should have sold Messi in the last transfer window due to the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Neymar has sparked speculation over Lionel Messi's future.

Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar enjoyed a successful period alongside Messi at Barcelona before leaving in a world-record deal in 2017.

Now, Neymar wants to team up with Messi again.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE OUT, MESSI IN?

Paris Saint-Germain will have to sell Kylian Mbappe if they sign Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, according to Diario AS.

Messi has been linked with a move to Ligue 1 champions PSG after former Barca forward Neymar expressed his desire to reunite with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

If Manchester City target Messi arrives in the French capital, it could send Mbappe closer to LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has not ruled leaving the Spanish giants, reports El Transistor. Ramos is out of contract at the end of the season and he has been linked with PSG, Juventus, Milan and Manchester United.

Mauricio Pochettino has been contacted by Madrid to replace under-fire head coach Zinedine Zidane, claims Sport. Pochettino, who has been out of work since he was sacked as Tottenham boss last year, has also been linked to United.

- Diario AS says Atletico Madrid are lining up a January bid for Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik. The Poland international has been frozen out since making it clear he will not re-sign with the Serie A side. Tottenham, Everton and Roma have also emerged as possible destinations.

Romelu Lukaku is on Pep Guardiola's shortlist of forwards at City but Inter insist the Belgian star is non-transferable, according to Calciomercato.

- The Telegraph reports Chelsea's plan to sign West Ham midfielder Declan Rice rests on the success of off-season recruit Ben Chilwell.

Lionel Messi wants more than money at Barcelona, with presidential candidate Joan Laporta insisting the disgruntled superstar craves a competitive team for success.

Messi's future remains an important topic at embattled LaLiga giants Barca after he handed in a transfer request following a tumultuous 2019-20 season.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner was tipped to join Premier League powerhouse Manchester City before opting to remain in Spain, though he has since been linked to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.

Barca's interim president Carlos Tusquets said the club should have sold Messi in the last transfer window due to the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

But Laporta, who is in the running for the presidential election which takes place on January 24 following Josep Maria Bartomeu's resignation in October, talked up Messi.

"Leo wants Barcelona," former president Laporta – at the helm of Barca from 2003 to 2010 as Messi's career took off – told Radio Marca and COPE.

"What I want is to give him back his happiness. It's not just a question of money, you have to create a competitive team.

"Leo has been cheated and that is a big loss. He's a winner and can't stand to see other teams lift the Champions League.

"The last time I spoke to him was in October. I am very grateful to him for all he has done for Barcelona. I have known him since he was 16 years old and he is an extraordinary person.

"There is mutual appreciation and respect. We must be inside [the club] to make an imaginative and credible proposal to him."

Messi has scored four goals in nine LaLiga appearances this season, while he has netted seven across all competitions.

"Leo wants to have a squad that brings back the joy," Laporte added.

"A team like Barcelona needs team spirit in a dressing room. I've been president of Barcelona and I don't want to destabilise a team in a delicate situation."

After being dethroned by bitter rivals Real Madrid last season and humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals, Ronald Koeman's Barca are seventh in LaLiga and 10 points adrift of leaders Real Sociedad.

Barca travel to Cadiz on Saturday.

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