Barcelona star Antoine Griezmann is hoping captain Lionel Messi remains at Camp Nou after sensationally handing in a transfer request.

Messi has told Barca he wants to leave the embattled LaLiga giants, having spent his entire professional career at Camp Nou, amid strong links to Pep Guardiola's Manchester City.

However, Messi's father Jorge said the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is considering the possibility of seeing out the final year of his Barca contract rather than forcing a move immediately.

Griezmann, who arrived from Atletico Madrid at the start of the 2019-20 season, and his relationship with Messi made headlines throughout the campaign as the former struggled for consistency and the France international was asked about the speculation ahead of Nations League fixtures against Sweden and Croatia.

"We are trying to stay updated with the issue, but it is between him and the club," Griezmann told M6 as France prepare for Saturday's clash with Sweden in Stockholm.

"We only hope that he stays. I am trying to stay focused on the national team and prepare well for the next two games. 

"We have heard a little of everything but we don't know anything else about all this affair."

Griezmann scored 15 goals across all competitions in his first season for Barca, which saw the Spanish powerhouse dethroned by Real Madrid in LaLiga and humiliated by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

After replacing Ernesto Valverde in January, head coach Quique Setien was also sacked following the 8-2 embarrassment last month, with Barca turning to former defender Ronald Koeman.

Ivan Rakitic joked Sevilla could find a place for Lionel Messi if the superstar decided to leave Barcelona.

Rakitic, 32, has returned to Sevilla after six successful seasons at Barcelona, where he won four LaLiga titles and a Champions League among numerous other trophies.

Messi could also sensationally leave Camp Nou, although recent reports suggest the six-time Ballon d'Or winner may stay at the LaLiga giants.

Asked if Sevilla could land Messi, Rakitic said on Thursday: "We would find him a place, no problem.

"No, seriously, I think it is nice to see how the club is growing. Always humble. And this is also what is attractive to me.

"I want to work, fight with my team-mates for making Sevilla even bigger. So, fight, work and I am looking forward to start right now."

Rakitic's Sevilla return on the field is set to come on September 24, when the LaLiga club face Bayern Munich in the UEFA Super Cup.

The Croatian midfielder was part of the Barca squad embarrassed 8-2 by Bayern in the Champions League quarter-finals last month.

But Rakitic was unfazed by any suggestions he could get some revenge for that defeat when Sevilla meet the Bundesliga champions in Budapest.

"Big respect for Bayern. Obviously, it will be a very difficult game. We know how strong they are," he said.

"However, I am also aware of them knowing how powerful Sevilla is. So, we will be preparing that game in the best way possible. There is a trophy at stake – a very important trophy.

"We want to compete well and show them we are a great team. If it is a revenge or not… what I want is to win with Sevilla. I can't wait."

Atletico Madrid duo Diego Costa and Santiago Arias have tested positive for COVID-19, the club have confirmed.

Both Costa and Arias underwent testing during their vacations and are in quarantine, with Atletico adding that both players are asymptomatic. 

The rest of Atletico's squad – minus players currently on international duty – all returned negative results ahead of the start of pre-season.

However, with Costa and Arias in isolation, neither will take part in the start of pre-season training for Diego Simeone's side.

Former Chelsea striker Costa made 23 LaLiga appearances last season, scoring five goals.

Arias – who has been linked with a move away from Atletico in this transfer window – was restricted to just 14 league appearances as he played second fiddle behind Kieran Trippier.

Rumoured Real Madrid and Manchester United target Benoit Badiashile will not be sold by Monaco this transfer window, according to the Ligue 1 club's head coach Niko Kovac.

The 19-year-old defender has already made 48 appearances for Monaco in all competitions and particularly caught the eye prior to the curtailment of the 2019-20 French domestic season.

Recent reports suggested Man Utd had made an opening bid of £22.28million (€25m) for the France youth international, which Monaco were quick to knock back.

Kovac has declared Badiashile, who has played a full part in Monaco's opening two Ligue 1 matches of the new season, is going nowhere for at least another year.

"Our aim is to take him to the next level," he told TF1. "If he plays a lot of matches with us in Ligue 1, which is a very good league, he will improve, that is certain. 

"We do not want to sell him that is very clear. He will stay here this season. I think that this is the best solution for him. He has his club here, his family. He knows the environment."

Badiashile made his debut for Monaco in November 2018 and signed a new deal last December that runs until 2024.

Lionel Messi will not be booed by Barcelona supporters if he stays at Camp Nou and can still bow out of the club on a high, according to the club's iconic former player Rivaldo.

Talks between Barca and Messi's agent and father Jorge are ongoing after the six-time Ballon d'Or winner last week informed the LaLiga giants of his desire to leave.

Messi reportedly hoped to trigger a clause in his contract that allows him to leave for free, but Barca are of the opinion his €700million release clause still stands.

Manchester City and Inter have been strongly linked, but Jorge Messi indicated on Thursday the forward is considering staying in Catalonia for another year.

Should that prove to be the case, Rivaldo does not believe the Argentina international will be given a tough time by the fanbase of a club he has represented since the age of 13.

"If Messi stays for at least one more season it won't be a problem," Rivaldo told Betfair. 

"Blaugrana fans still have lots of love for him and know that he is a legendary player who made and can still make the difference at the club, so things can still end up nicely.

"A lot can happen in the next few weeks - he can leave, he can stay for one more season or even extend his contract, so we must wait. 

"But if he stays at the club I'm not imagining a scenario of fans booing him at the Camp Nou or anything similar, not at all."

Barca finished the 2019-20 season trophyless and suffered a humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

And Rivaldo, who left Barcelona on bad terms in 2002, feels the manner of Barca's latest European capitulation proved to be the final straw for Messi.

"He may have decided to leave Barcelona after the humiliation against Bayern Munich in the Champions League," he said. 

"After a season of internal problems at Barca and losing the LaLiga title to Real Madrid, the 8-2 defeat was the last straw that made Messi want to leave.

"He has taken responsibility for the team for too long and is probably tired of the pressure. 

"The club have signed many players in the last couple of seasons, but no one has stepped up to help him and relieve some of his burden."

Chelsea rejected the chance to sign Miralem Pjanic from Juventus as part of a swap deal for Jorginho, according to the Italy international's agent Joao Santos.

Jorginho had been strongly linked with a return to Serie A with champions Juventus during Maurizio Sarri's time in charge.

Juve replaced Sarri with Andrea Pirlo last month and have signed Arthur from Barcelona, however, with Pjanic heading the opposite way.

But Jorginho's representative Santos claims things could have turned out differently had Sarri remained in place at the Allianz Stadium.

"Juventus had offered a swap deal including Miralem Pjanic, but the English side didn't take it into consideration," he told Tuttomercatoweb.

"[Juve sporting director Fabio] Paratici never called me. Would he have moved to Juventus with Sarri? I think so."

Jorginho has had a mixed spell with Chelsea since joining from Napoli two years ago and has also been touted as a target for Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Roma.

And Santos says the 28-year-old, who is currently on international duty with Italy, will look to find a new club if he is overlooked for selection by Blues boss Frank Lampard.

"He has a three-year deal with Chelsea. The market is long, it will last until October 5," he said. 

"If Chelsea were to think that he is no longer part of the project, I would find an alternative solution.

"Last year he played 40 games for Chelsea and is an important member of the national team. 

"So far we haven't received any official offers. He is followed by many clubs and there aren't many players with his characteristics in that role."

Real Madrid turned down a €100million bid from a Premier League club for Gareth Bale last year, according to the Spanish side's former president Ramon Calderon.

Bale hit out at Madrid in an explosive interview on Wednesday, accusing the LaLiga giants of "making things very difficult" for him to move away from the Santiago Bernabeu.

The Wales international was on the brink of joining Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning in July 2019, only for Madrid to pull the plug on a deal at the 11th hour.

And Calderon - Madrid president between 2006 and 2009 - has claimed an unnamed English club also stepped forward with a big offer for Bale 12 months ago.

"I know in the last day of the transfer window last year there was an offer from the Premier League," he told talkSPORT. 

"They offered €100m [£89.12m] and Real Madrid turned down that offer because they thought Bale would be a player in their side."

Asked to reveal the identity of the Premier League team in question, with Manchester United among those linked, Calderon said: "I'm not allowed to say the name, though I do know the name of the club.

"I think at the end there was a disagreement as Madrid decided not to sell the player, because they thought he was a player who could be used and be in the starting line-up.

"But I think the player neither wants to leave nor to reduce his salary. It is true his salary is very high, but in 2016 the club decided to increase his salary.

"It is difficult for any club to pay that salary, especially knowing the situation of football nowadays."

Bale made just 20 appearances in all competitions in 2019-20 and asked to be left out of the squad to face Manchester City in last month's Champions League last-16 second leg.

The former Tottenham player has two years to run on the contract he signed in 2016 and Calderon suggested it may well be a case of Madrid terminating that deal if his situation does not improve.

"I think his agent was here yesterday trying to get a deal," he said. "But I don't see any club paying that salary.

"And, on top of that, if Real Madrid want to get a transfer fee, that's impossible.

"I think Real Madrid would now be willing to let him go without any transfer fee - that would be the solution.

"But in that case, I don't see any club paying €40m a year for a player who is 31 and who hasn't been playing regularly in the last two years."

Lionel Messi is considering the possibility of seeing out the final year of his Barcelona contract rather than forcing a move immediately, his father has confirmed.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi has informed the Blaugrana of his desire to leave Camp Nou after a disappointing season in 2019-20.

Barca failed to win a single trophy and were humiliated in the Champions League with an 8-2 quarter-final defeat to Bayern Munich.

Messi has a clause in his contract that allows him to leave for free at the end of each season, yet he did not immediately take up the option, leading Barca to believe they would be owed €700million for a transfer.

Initial talk of a negotiated move to Manchester City has given way to suggestions the Premier League club could only afford a free transfer, which is said to be unlikely.

And with Jorge Messi, the player's father, in Barcelona to discuss the next step, he appears to have accepted Messi might have to remain at the club before leaving on a free in 2021.

Asked if that was a possibility, Jorge told Deportes Cuatro: "Yes."

Of the talks with under-fire Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu, he added: "[They have been] very good."

Messi has yet to comment publicly on his intention to leave Barca but did not show for pre-season coronavirus testing and so has not trained since last month's shock Champions League exit.

It seems little progress was made between Barcelona and Lionel Messi.

Messi, 33, has sensationally requested to leave the LaLiga giants, but the transfer saga looks set to drag on.

A meeting between the parties was tipped to provide some clarity, but it seems little has changed.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI, BARCELONA YET TO REACH AGREEMENT

Messi and Barcelona did not reach an agreement on Wednesday, according to widespread reports in Spain.

AS reports Messi is insisting he leaves, while Barca are refusing to negotiate.

Messi has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City, while Paris Saint-Germain, Inter and Juventus have also been credited with an interest.

According to The Telegraph, Messi could leave for as little as €100million.

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Barcelona and Luis Suarez has also been linked with a move away from Camp Nou. Gianluca Di Marzio reports the forward has almost agreed terms with Juventus, who may pay Barcelona a small fee for the 33-year-old. Suarez is out of contract next year.

- Liverpool are seemingly still trying to sign Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara. RMC Sport reports Liverpool is Thiago's only choice despite links to Manchester United.

- Inter Miami could be set for a huge signing. ESPN reports Juventus forward Gonzalo Higuain is very close to agreeing to personal terms with the MLS club.

- After a fine loan spell at Roma, Chris Smalling is wanted by the Serie A club. Gianluca Di Marzio reports there is confidence from Roma they can get a permanent deal done for the Manchester United defender, who could sign a three-year deal.

- Roma and Manchester United may yet be involved in another deal. CalcioMercato reports Roma are looking at United midfielder Fred on a loan deal with an obligation to buy for €20m (£17.8m) to €25m (£22.2m).

- Emiliano Martinez continues to be linked with a move from Arsenal. The Telegraph reports Villarreal, who have former Arsenal boss Unai Emery in charge, are considering the goalkeeper if he is told he will not be Arsenal's first choice this season.

Sandro Tonali turned down Barcelona and Manchester United because he wanted to join Milan, according to Brescia president Massimo Cellino.

Tonali is a three-time Italy international and starred for Brescia in 2019-20, although they were relegated from Serie A.

The 20-year-old was heavily linked with a move to Inter, but is now set to join Milan.

Cellino said Tonali was eager to join Milan despite offers from Barcelona and United.

"In January we received an offer of €65million from Barcelona. Not later than 10 days ago we received an offer of 10 million higher than Milan's from Manchester United," he told Top Calcio 24.

"But the boy was determined to go to the Rossoneri."

Cellino added: "I know that [Antonio] Conte has thought a lot about Tonali, but I was also convinced that he was going to Inter.

"But at a certain point the boy didn't want to hear anything anymore and went to Milan."

Ivan Rakitic hopes to help turn Sevilla into LaLiga title challengers after securing his return "home" following a six-year spell with Barcelona.

Rakitic, 32, completed his comeback to Sevilla on Tuesday as it was confirmed he had signed a four-year deal, with the Andalusian club paying an initial €1.5million, while another €9m could be due in performance-related variables.

The transfer sees Rakitic return to the club where he established himself as one of Europe's best midfielders in a three-and-a-half-year spell, helping them to Europa League success in 2013-14.

That was just a taste of what was to come at Barca, as Rakitic lifted 13 trophies in Catalonia, and now he is hoping to take Sevilla to the next level.

Having just won a fourth Europa League crown and with Barcelona in disarray, even club president Jose Castro recently suggested Sevilla are letting themselves dream of a first league title since the 1940s.

"With all due respect, the sixth [Europa League title] is already ours and we want it like no one else," Rakitic told reporters during his presentation on Wednesday evening.

"But we want to take the next step, both in LaLiga and in the Champions League. We all know what that means, but we don't want to put more pressure on each other either.

"But we do want to know which direction we want to go. I'm really looking forward to it.

"The situation is different from how I arrived nine years ago, especially because of the situation of the team and the environment.

"I'm in a team that's a champion, and luckily I know what that means. I was able to be the first foreign captain since [Diego] Maradona and this season I want to pass on to my team-mates and my family, which is what they are, that this is still the case.

"There is great potential, they work impressively, with a great coach and coaching staff. From me you can expect maximum.

"It's not just getting here, I want to help the club, the team-mates and the fans take the next step. I'm very happy and excited to come home. I'm very grateful also for how it all turned out, which was how we wanted it to be."

A fan favourite during his previous spell at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Rakitic was known to have a strong affinity with the city through his wife and rarely shied away from displays of passion for Sevilla during his Barca days.

The most recent of which saw Rakitic throw himself into his swimming pool in celebration of Sevilla's latest Europa League triumph, and although some Barca fans criticised him for it at the time, he made no apology.

"When I threw myself into the pool I was only celebrating, like another Sevilla player, the title," he said. "There was no other thought, only the joy of what the team had achieved.

"We like that the fans feel as close as possible to us and I felt like one more fan. They were very exciting games and it was a great joy. The dip in the pool was good for me because I had sweated a lot!"

Rakitic finished by paying tribute to his late friend and former Sevilla team-mate Jose Antonio Reyes.

"The day it was all closed would have been his birthday," Rakitic said. "These are moments where words aren't needed.

"We all know what Jose means to us and to those who like football. He had a special talent. I know he's watching me and supporting me and that he's happy for me.

"I wish I could see him happy and that much of this is for him, of course."

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos hopes Barcelona skipper Lionel Messi stays with the Blaugrana for the good of LaLiga as the Argentinian's father attempts to secure his release.

Messi rocked Barca last week when he informed them of his intention to leave and his father – who is also his agent – was in Catalonia on Wednesday for a meeting with club officials, saying beforehand that it would be "difficult" for his son to stay.

The meeting spanned most of the afternoon before concluding around 21:00 local time, with reports from local media claiming the two parties were unable to reach any form of agreement.

Messi had an exit clause written into his contract that would allow him to leave on a free transfer at the end of the 2019-20 season, and although that was said to have expired at the end of May, the player and his entourage believe it is still valid due to the campaign being extended by the coronavirus pandemic.

On the other hand, Barca – who have been backed by LaLiga – say the clause has expired and Wednesday's meeting was planned in the hope of finding some form of agreement, with Messi said to be in favour of joining Manchester City.

Ramos was asked about Messi's situation earlier in the evening while on international duty with Spain, and the Madrid captain – a regular Clasico opponent of Messi – would rather Barca's talisman stayed.

"It is not an issue that concerns us [Madrid]," he told reporters. "He has earned the right to decide his future.

"I don't know if he will be doing it in the best way, but of course for Spanish football, for Barcelona and for us [Madrid], who like to win while being the best, we would like him to stay here.

"It makes LaLiga and his team better, and the Clasicos more beautiful. I've little more to add – he has earned that right on his own.

"Without speculation, we will see what happens. For us it is not a worrying news."

Gareth Bale would consider returning to the Premier League and blames Real Madrid for not letting him leave the club sooner.

The Wales international made just 20 appearances in all competitions last season and asked to be left out of the squad to face Manchester City in last month's Champions League last-16 second leg.

He came close to moving to the Chinese Super League last year, only for Madrid to pull the plug on a deal at the 11th hour, and has since been linked with Manchester United and former club Tottenham.

And with the current transfer window open for another month, Bale admits to being disappointed at not being granted a move away from the Spanish capital.

"I tried to leave last year but they blocked everything at the last second. It was a project I was excited for but it didn't materialise," he told Sky Sports.

"There have been other instances where we have tried to go but the club won't allow it or they've done something. It's down to the club.

"I want to play football, I am still motivated to play football, so I guess it's on the club. They are in control of everything.

"I have a contract, all I can do is carry on what I am doing and hopefully something comes up.

"I am only 31 still but I feel I am in great shape still and feel like I have a lot to give. We will see what happens. 

"It's in the club's hands but they make things very difficult to be honest."

Asked about the prospect of a return to the Premier League, Bale said: "If those options arise, it is something I'd look at for sure.

"We'll see what happens. We have plenty of time in this transfer window and a couple of others as well. 

"Time will tell but mainly I think the reason is that the decision is in Real Madrid's hands."

Bale played just twice for Madrid upon their return to action in June but has been included in Wales' squad for this week's Nations League games with Finland and Bulgaria.

Despite a lack of playing time, the 31-year-old is raring to go for his national side and he took aim at Madrid by saying it is nice to be in an environment where he feels valued.

"I think everyone knows how much I love coming away with Wales," he said. "It's nice to be back at a place where you are a little bit more appreciated and supported by your fans no matter what.

"We're all focused. We haven't had much time to prepare for these games. I haven't been back in training yet - I have just come back off holiday.

"I have kept myself fit over the summer. We just need to prepare for next year's Euros. We have a lot of games leading into that and it starts on Thursday."

Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona might make them less of a threat to Real Madrid, but his exit would be a blow to LaLiga, according to Los Blancos midfielder Toni Kroos.

Messi rocked Barcelona last week when informing them of his desire to leave the club he initially agreed to join as a 12-year-old.

Now 33, Messi had a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave on a free transfer at the end of the 2019-20 season, but that is reported to have expired at the end of May.

But because the coronavirus pandemic extended the season into August, Messi and his entourage believe it should still be valid.

LaLiga has sided with Barca, though that has not stopped speculation as to his next destination from running wild, with Manchester City appearing the most likely move.

Messi's father, who is also his agent, suggested on Wednesday that his son remaining at Barca would be "difficult", and Kroos – a regular opponent of the Barca icon in El Clasico – thinks it would be bad for the league if the Argentinian star left.

"Messi is a player who is interesting for all clubs in the world," Kroos said in a news conference on international duty with Germany.

"It's bad for LaLiga and especially for Barcelona. For me, as a Real Madrid player, it's of course something different.

"But even if Messi left, it wouldn't automatically mean that we at Real Madrid would win everything."

Messi has a year left on his contract at Barca, who are reportedly demanding his €700million release clause be met for their talisman to leave.

Should he depart without playing another game for them then his final match will have been the 8-2 Champions League humiliation to Bayern Munich.

 

Sergio Reguilon says Real Madrid is his "home" but the left-back is keeping his options open amid reported interest from numerous clubs.

The 23-year-old enjoyed an impressive 2019-20 campaign on loan with Sevilla, which culminated in Europa League success with victory over Inter in the final.

His form has earned him links with Manchester United, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain, plus a call-up to the Spain national side.

And Reguilon, in line to earn his international debut against Germany or Ukraine this week, is still contemplating where his future lies given he is under contract with Madrid until 2023.

"I go day by day. If I am thinking about calls and my destiny I will not enjoy the national team and I do not have that," he told Radio Marca.

"Obviously Real Madrid is my home, but it is not easy... I have all the factors in mind."

Sevilla head coach Julen Lopetegui managed to get the best out of Reguilon, who featured 38 times in all competitions in his season at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

The defender is glad to have been able to reward Lopetegui's faith by playing a starring role in the club's latest European triumph.

"He means a lot to me and I have a lot of affection for him," Reguilon said. "He gave me my first opportunity in professional football and now we have shared something very nice. 

"When I saw him crying after winning the Europa League I couldn't be more happy, he worked like a b***ard."

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