Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Leandro Paredes said the Ligue 1 champions are working on signing Barcelona captain Lionel Messi.

Messi is out of contract at the end of the season and the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been heavily linked with PSG and Premier League giants Manchester City.

PSG sporting director Leonardo revealed the French powerhouse – now coached by Mauricio Pochettino – are pursuing Messi, after star and former Barca team-mate Neymar made no secret of his desire to reunite with the Argentina skipper.

Having talked up the possibility of Messi's arrival prior to PSG's 4-0 rout of Montpellier on Friday, countryman Paredes told Corriere dello Sport: "It's up to Leo to come to the club, because PSG are trying to convince him.

"To be able to be coached by a coach from your country and the possibility of playing with Leo is a great opportunity... I hope it happens."

Messi sat out Barcelona's 2-0 LaLiga victory at Elche on Sunday due to his two-game suspension following a red card in the Supercopa de Espana final defeat to Athletic Bilbao.

The 33-year-old has scored 11 goals in 17 league appearances for Barca this season, while he has 14 across all competitions.

PSG, meanwhile, are top of Ligue 1 on goal difference ahead of Lille through 21 rounds.

Leandro Paredes hopes Lionel Messi can be convinced to leave Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain.

The Ligue 1 champions' sporting director Leonardo confirmed on Monday that the club are keeping a close eye on Messi's plans.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner is in the final six months of his contract at Camp Nou and could decide to leave on a free transfer after this season, having failed to engineer an exit in 2020.

Paredes would love his compatriot to move to the Parc des Princes, telling reporters on Thursday: "It's natural to want him on your team. But that will be his decision.

"It's the club's responsibility to try to convince him. I hope we can have him with us. But, I repeat, it's his decision."

Paredes is already enjoying working with another fellow countryman at PSG in the shape of Mauricio Pochettino.

The former Tottenham boss took over from Thomas Tuchel this month and has enjoyed an encouraging start, winning three of his first four games in charge including the Trophee des Champions clash with Marseille last week.

Paredes has sensed a sharpening of effort in training and feels Pochettino has inspired a change in mentality.

"Having a coach of the same nationality helps," he said. "We share the same ideas. We get along well. We have to make the most of that.

"Every coach has his ideas, brings his own energy. The mentality is different for us now. We have new options in the game. There is more intensity in training."

Paredes, who joined from Zenit for a reported €40.2million in January 2019, has established himself as more of a first-team regular at PSG this season.

The 26-year-old has started seven league games this term, just one down on his same tally from 2019-20.

Paredes has the second-highest passing accuracy (91.7 per cent) of any of PSG's midfielders to play in at least seven games this season in all competitions.

He also averages just over two interceptions per 90 minutes, the best rate among his team-mates in his position.

"Getting to a club like PSG is never easy. The first six months were difficult but I feel good today," he said.

"I will stay, I hope, for many years. I'm happy in Paris with these team-mates."

Neymar resumed Paris Saint-Germain training on Monday in a boost to their preparations for a Trophee des Champions clash with Marseille.

The Brazil star has not yet featured under Mauricio Pochettino, having sustained an ankle injury in December.

According to Le Parisien, the former Barcelona forward is "50-50" to face Marseille in Wednesday's game in Lens.

Neymar has only managed seven Ligue 1 appearances this season, scoring three times and providing three assists.

His most telling performances have been in the Champions League, where six goals in five games helped PSG to win a tough Group H ahead of RB Leipzig and Manchester United.

Leandro Paredes, Danilo Pereira and Presnel Kimpembe, who suffered a hamstring injury last month, also returned to training in Monday's session.

Pochettino, who took over following Thomas Tuchel's sacking in December, is bidding to win his first trophy as a coach this week.

He recorded his first win as PSG boss on Saturday, when Moise Kean, Mauro Icardi and Pablo Sarabia scored in a 3-0 Ligue 1 victory over Brest.

Lionel Messi continues to dominate headlines.

While Messi decided to stay at Camp Nou, Manchester City are reportedly still trying to prise the superstar from Barcelona.

Could he be set for a mid-season switch?

 

TOP STORY – MESSI TARGETED BY CITY

Manchester City are expected to make a bid to sign Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi in January, according to The Sun.

Messi was tipped to join Pep Guardiola's City after handing in a transfer request at the start of the season, however, he opted to stay at Camp Nou.

City, though, have not given up on signing the six-time Ballon d'Or winner – who has also been linked to Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.

ROUND-UP

- What does the future hold for Sergio Ramos? The Real Madrid captain is out of contract at season's end, and the likes of Juventus, PSG and Manchester United have emerged as possible destinations. Should Ramos leave the Santiago Bernabeu, Diario AS claims Bayern Munich star David Alaba could arrive as a replacement at Madrid. Alaba is also wanted by Juve, Barcelona and City.

- Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga is desperate for a loan move and is willing to take a pay cut to secure a short-term exit, reports The Sun.

- Eurosport says Chelsea are eyeing a future move for Borussia Dortmund sensation Jude Bellingham, who only swapped England for Germany at the start of the season. Bellingham is seen as an alternative to West Ham midfielder Declan Rice.

Inter are keen to make head coach Antonio Conte happy by exchanging Christian Eriksen for PSG midfielder Leandro Paredes and swapping Matias Vecino for Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik in the New Year, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel is hopeful of having Kylian Mbappe available to face Nice on Sunday.

Mbappe is yet to play for PSG in 2020-21 after testing positive for coronavirus while on France duty earlier this month.

PSG lost their opening two games of the Ligue 1 season, but recorded a much-needed 1-0 win over Metz on Wednesday.

Tuchel said he was hoping to have Mbappe, who scored 30 goals in 2019-20, available against Nice.

"Kylian is feeling good. He doesn't have any symptoms," he told a news conference.

"He has been tested positive for COVID-19 but he didn't have any symptoms. He is feeling good. He had some individual training sessions.

"Maybe we will do the same thing we have done with Angel [Di María], Marquinhos and Mauro [Icardi].

"It depends if he is allowed to train with all the team, if it's not forbidden. If it's possible, we will decide on Saturday. I have to talk with the doctor and with Kylian, then we will make a decision."

PSG will be without Neymar, Leandro Paredes and Layvin Kurzawa after the trio were sent off in the defeat to Marseille last week.

While Kurzawa was banned for six games, Neymar and Paredes received two-match suspensions, although the length of the Argentinian's ban surprised Tuchel.

"It's better if I don't say what I think because I want to be on the pitch for the next game," he said.

"I have never seen a player who received two yellow cards [Paredes] then be suspended for two games.

"I am very surprised, but it happened."

Neymar has been banned for two matches following his red card for Paris Saint-Germain in their Classique defeat to Marseille.

PSG went down 1-0 to rivals Marseille on Sunday, but the match was marred by an incredible finale in which five players were dismissed.

Neymar, the world's most expensive player, was the last of those to see red after striking Alvaro Gonzalez on the back of the head.

The Brazilian alleged afterwards he had been the victim of racist abuse from Alvaro, who denied the accusations.

The results of a disciplinary tribunal were revealed on Wednesday and Neymar has had a third match added to his ban as a suspended sentence.

Layvin Kurzawa was handed a six-game ban, with Leandro Paredes also out for just two fixtures.

The trio watched on as PSG belatedly claimed their first win of the season against Metz, a match in which Abdou Diallo also saw red.

Angel Di Maria was the champions' star performer but has now been called up to face the disciplinary commission next Wednesday in relation to the Marseille game.

OM's Jordan Amavi was ruled out for three games, with Dario Benedetto facing just a one-match suspension.

Neymar, Angel Di Maria, Leandro Paredes and Keylor Navas have been included in Paris Saint-Germain's squad for Sunday's Ligue 1 clash with Marseille after a period of quarantine.

The quartet missed PSG's 1-0 loss to Lens in their opening game of the 2020-21 campaign last Thursday after contracting COVID-19 during the close season.

However, all four players have since returned negative tests and Thomas Tuchel revealed at his pre-match news conference that the quartet would be considered for selection if they came through training unscathed.

It has now been confirmed that attacking duo Neymar and Di Maria, plus midfielder Paredes and first-choice goalkeeper Navas, are part of PSG's 21-man squad for Le Classique.

Kylian Mbappe, Mauro Icardi and Marquinhos also returned positive tests last week and remain absent for the clash at the Parc des Princes.

Speaking on the eve of the match, Tuchel questioned why one of the standout fixtures in the Ligue 1 calendar was being staged so early in the campaign.

"I am surprised that such an important game is scheduled for the third match day," he told reporters.

"I think such a game should be scheduled for October or November when both teams have got into a rhythm.

"Everybody wants to win at their best level but it's not possible if it's only the second game in Ligue 1. Personally I don't understand the decision."

Manchester City are reportedly looking at signing Lionel Messi, while Barcelona's rebuild does not include Luis Suarez.

Messi, 33, has been linked with a move away from the LaLiga giants after a trophy-less 2019-20 season.

Barca are preparing for a rebuild and while Messi is part of their plans, Suarez is seemingly not.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY CONSIDER MESSI MOVE

Manchester City are working out if they would be able to sign Barcelona star Messi without breaching Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, according to ESPN.

The report says the Premier League giants are preparing should Messi become available.

Messi is contracted at Barcelona until 2021, but has been linked with a move.

ROUND-UP

- Also at Barcelona, Ronald Koeman is preparing his rebuild. Mundo Deportivo reports the club no longer want Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal or Samuel Umtiti, but have plans for Philippe Coutinho, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. The report also says Suarez's departure will open up a move for Inter star Lautaro Martinez.

- Ansu Fati is seemingly close to committing his future to Barcelona. The 17-year-old forward, who has been linked to Manchester United, will sign a new deal that will include a €400million release clause, according to Mundo Deportivo.

- A former Bianconeri striker could help Juventus land Edin Dzeko. Tuttosport reports Mario Mandzukic could join Roma as a replacement for Dzeko, who is being linked to Juve.

- Milan are reportedly looking at Brahim Diaz. Fabrizio Romano reports the Serie A giants have opened talks with Real Madrid about a loan move, with an option to buy, for Brahim.

- Hector Bellerin has been linked with a move away from Arsenal. RMC Sport reports the defender has been offered to Paris Saint-Germain.

- Also at PSG, Leandro Paredes could make a move. Gianluca Di Marzio says Juventus are interested in the midfielder.

Neymar will still be at Paris Saint-Germain next season, according to team-mate Leandro Paredes.

The Brazilian superstar is reportedly a target for Barcelona, who he left for PSG in a world-record €222million transfer in August 2017, and is said to be willing to take a wage cut to make it happen.

Neymar has scored 69 goals in 80 appearances in all competitions for PSG, including one effort in each of the two legs of a Champions League tie with Borussia Dortmund from which they progressed to the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time since 2016.

The Ligue 1 season has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Thomas Tuchel's team crowned champions for the fourth year in a row, and Paredes expects Neymar to still be at the club when the 2020-21 campaign begins.

"Neymar will stay with us," Paredes told FOX Sports Argentina.

"I do not talk about it with him, so he can make his decisions calmly."

Paredes used the Spanish phrase "se queda", which was infamously tweeted by Barcelona captain Gerard Pique shortly before Neymar left for PSG.

Argentina international Paredes struggled to establish himself as a key part of a midfield that is often centred on Marco Verratti.

"At PSG I play with the very best. Verratti is the best midfielder. It's impossible to take the ball from him, he's always going to get away," he said.

"The squad is incredible. I take advantage of it every day in training. The level is very high."

Thomas Tuchel expects Edinson Cavani and Leandro Paredes to remain Paris Saint-Germain players beyond the January transfer window.

PSG's all-time leading goalscorer Cavani has struggled to get into the team following the loan signing of Mauro Icardi and has been tipped to join Atletico Madrid.

Argentina international Paredes is also reportedly seeking a move away after being restricted to eight starts in all competitions this term, but Tuchel has placed his trust in both players.

"Paredes played a lot during the end of last year," he said. "He showed he is capable of being an important player and can influence our game.

"As for Edinson, I've said it before – it was difficult when he picked up an injury as he lost his rhythm and others played well. 

"But he is here, in a good frame of mind and everyone has to prepare in the best way to be ready when needed. 

"I trust them and think they will stay with us. It is not necessary to imagine anything else."

Juventus pair Mattia De Sciglio and Emre Can have been linked with a move to the Parc des Princes, meanwhile, but Tuchel is not pushing for new signings.

"Anything can happen, but I haven't asked for anything," he said. "I love my team and my players. I like working with them and we have a good connection. 

"There is no need for players to leave or arrive. If players are coming, okay. But as Leonardo said, he takes care of that and I take care of training. I'm calm with that."

PSG return from a two-week break with a trip to amateur side Linas-Montlhery in the Coupe de France round of 64 on Sunday.

And with a run of seven matches in the next month, including back-to-back Ligue 1 games with Monaco, Tuchel says it is inevitable his squad will be hit by injuries.

"We will do everything we can to protect the players, but honestly I think injuries will happen because it's always like this," he said.

PSG are without defenders Abdou Diallo, Thiago Silva and Presnel Kimpembe for the clash with Linas-Montlhery, who ply their trade in the sixth tier of French football.

The record 12-time Coupe de France winners are resounding favourites to progress, but Tuchel is demanding respect against the unknown quantity.

"We are the favourites to win, that's clear," he said. "But we will play with respect and seriousness. We want to win and I'm waiting for us to win.

"To show our respect to the opponents, we will have to play seriously and regain our hunger to win. It's a cup game, a decisive game and we're here to win.

"I haven't seen their ground. I don't think it will be like the Parc des Princes. I hope it won't be dangerous, but it's okay – you have to adapt."

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba is coveted at the Santiago Bernabeu.

His French connection with Zinedine Zidane means there is constant speculation.

However, Pogba is set to remain at United for the time being.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID GIVE UP ON POGBA… FOR NOW

LaLiga giants Real Madrid will not sign Manchester United star Paul Pogba in January, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Pogba – still recovering from injury – continues to be linked with Madrid amid doubts over his United future.

Madrid, however, recognise there is "no chance" of prising the Frenchman from Old Trafford in the New Year.

 

ROUND-UP

- A return to Chelsea for Bournemouth's Nathan Ake looks likely, claims Bleacher Report. Chelsea have a £40million buyback clause for Ake, who left Stamford Bridge permanently in 2017. Manchester City have also been linked to the 24-year-old defender.

- Barcelona defender Jean-Clair Todibo has turned down a move to Milan, reports RMC. The 19-year-old has also been linked to Ligue 1 outfit Monaco and Premier League giants Manchester United.

- Qatari outfit Al Rayyan have re-opened talks with Juventus regarding the transfer of out-of-favour striker Mario Mandzukic, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. United and Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund are also reportedly interested in the veteran Croatian.

Napoli have offered Dries Mertens a two-year contract extension, says Sky Sport Italia. The Belgian, who is out of contract at season's end, has been the subject of reported interest from Dortmund.

- Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain want to swap Leandro Paredes for Juventus midfielder Emre Can, reports the Daily Mail.

- La Nazione says Fiorentina are looking to bring former Milan striker Patrick Cutrone back to Serie A. The Italian left San Siro for Premier League side Wolves at the start of the season.

- Former Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta is in talks to join Javier Mascherano at Argentine outfit Estudiantes. Iniesta currently plays for Vissel Kobe in Japan, however, TNT Sports claims the 35-year-old midfielder could move in 2020.

Kylian Mbappe scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain moved seven points clear at the top of the Ligue 1 table with a comfortable 4-0 win away at 10-man Saint-Etienne.

Thomas Tuchel's side were already in front thanks to Leandro Paredes' first goal for the club when their task was made easier by Jean Eudes Aholou's 25th-minute red card.

Mbappe doubled PSG's lead and, though Neymar missed from the penalty spot, PSG did not have to get out of second gear as they extended their winning streak to five Ligue 1 games.

Mauro Icardi netted PSG's third, before Mbappe struck with the last kick of the match to add further gloss to the scoreline.

Saint-Etienne had a chance to take an early lead but Denis Bouanga curled wide, and PSG then opened the scoring in the ninth minute.

A goalmouth scramble saw the ball eventually cleared to Paredes, and his 20-yard volley took a decisive deflection off Wesley Fofana to deceive Stephane Ruffier.

The hosts were reduced to 10 men when Aholou was dismissed for a wild challenge on Paredes, and Mbappe, who earlier had a goal ruled out for offside, made it 2-0 before the break by running on to Neymar's pass to beat Ruffier.

Keylor Navas made a fine save to deny Bouanga following the restart, and Angel di Maria saw a shot come back off the woodwork.

It should have been 3-0 to PSG in the 62nd minute but Neymar hit the post from 12 yards after he was fouled in the box by Mathieu Debuchy.

Icardi converted from close range, though, the striker scoring his eighth Ligue 1 goal since joining on loan from Inter, and a fine finish from Mbappe at the death wrapped up PSG's latest win.


What does it mean? PSG romping to the title

Marseille's draw away to Metz earlier in the weekend enabled PSG to stretch their lead at the top. Another title for Tuchel's men, even before the halfway point of the season, already appears to be a foregone conclusion. PSG have a game in hand over Marseille, too.

70 up for Mbappe

Mbappe netted for the fifth game in a row in all competitions and brought up another milestone to boot. The 20-year-old's first strike took him to 70 Ligue 1 goals and he is the youngest player to reach that figure in 50 years.

Aholou lets his team-mates down

PSG were already a goal up and cruising when Aholou effectively ended his side's chances of earning a positive result. His ridiculous tackle on Paredes gave referee Ruddy Buquet no choice but to show the red card, despite Aholou appearing to be shocked by the decision.

What's next?

Both teams are away in the Coupe de la Ligue last 16 on Wednesday, with PSG at Le Mans as Saint-Etienne head to Nimes. PSG then host Amiens on Saturday, when Saint-Etienne are away to Strasbourg.

Arsenal appear to be spiralling into a deeper mess as the days pass.

Just over a week on from sacking Unai Emery, the Gunners now reportedly have doubts over how long Freddie Ljungberg should be left in charge.

Misjudging the situation could have serious ramifications for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's future.

 

TOP STORY – DOUBTS EMERGE OVER LJUNGBERG

Arsenal fear interim boss Ljungberg's lack of managerial experience will force them to make a full-time appointment before the end of the season, reports The Mirror.

Gunners chiefs seemed set to back the Swede when Emery was moved aside but a draw with Norwich City at Carrow Road and the 2-1 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion in midweek have cast doubt over his capabilities.

Action could be taken sooner rather than later as the club mull over a list of potential targets, particularly as there are "growing concerns" about star striker Aubameyang .

The 30-year-old has reportedly stalled on contract talks and the lack of clarity over the head coaching position could end with Arsenal being forced to sell one of their strongest assets.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea have Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha and Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell in their sights after their transfer ban was reduced on Friday, reports The Athletic.

- Juventus are considering a move for either Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic or Leandro Paredes of Paris Saint-Germain, claims Corriere Torino.

- Inter's interest in Arturo Vidal could aid Barca's bid to sign Lautaro Martinez from the Serie A side, according to Mundo Deportivo.

- Steven Gerrard is on the verge of agreeing a new deal with Rangers that will see him remain as manager until 2024, says The Sun.

- Two Eredivisie stars could be headed for Portugal, reports A Bola. Belgian forward Cyriel Dessers of Heracles Almelo and exciting AZ prospect Myron Boadu are said to be in the sights of Primeira Liga heavyweights Sporting CP .

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