Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman insists his players are not worried by the club's financial situation amid concerns around spiralling debts.

Barca's latest financial figures, dated August 17 but only released this month after their previous AGM was postponed, indicate their total debt has now exceeded €1.1billion.

Their short-term debt has risen to €730m, having increased by €225m since the 2018-19 season largely due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic: specifically, the lack of matchday revenue as games continue to be played behind closed doors, and the reduction in tourists visiting the Camp Nou facilities.

Although Barca top the 2021 Deloitte Football Money League with total revenues of €715.1m, the stark numbers released by the club paint a concerning picture for prospective new presidents Joan Laporta, Victor Font and Toni Freixa.

Last November, it was announced the players had agreed to a salary reduction that would save the club €122m and help to avoid widespread layoffs of non-playing staff, but interim president Carlos Tusquets claimed last month that the squad would not be paid for January due to the precarious financial situation.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's Copa del Rey clash with Rayo Vallecano, Koeman stressed the senior squad was dully focused on keeping their trophy push alive.

"Barca is a great club that has been affected by COVID and suffers more than others, also from the tourism side of things," he said. "But all the big teams can take numbers that aren't good, not just here.

"The players are focused and not worried about this subject. We're concentrating on our work."

When asked if some Barca salaries were too high, Koeman replied:  "The club makes the contract and the player accepts it or not. We have to train and win games and trophies. We have all helped the club with the salary reduction."

He added on the subject of January wages not being paid: "I don't know if that's true. You'd have to ask."

Koeman is taking a strong side to second-tier Rayo, with the Copa del Rey looking likely to be Barca's best chance of winning silverware this season, with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid both out.

While he may rotate his starting line-up, Koeman expects Lionel Messi to be raring to go after missing two games through suspension.

"It depends on the state of the players. If there are tired boys, we'll have to change," he said.

"We'll take a strong team to get through this tie. We know the road is shorter to winning something. The teams who are left are strong and we saw that in the Supercopa de Espana.

"[Messi] is really looking forward to playing and winning things. He's a winning player who wants titles. We have to wait until the morning to know if he'll play.

"To win something, we need Messi fit."

Barcelona win every time Lionel Messi does not play as they "draw on other strengths", claims former Argentina goalkeeper Hugo Orlando Gatti.

Messi served the final match of a two-game suspension after his red card in the Supercopa de Espana decider as third-placed Barca defeated Elche 2-0 in LaLiga on Sunday.

The record six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been heavily linked with an exit on a free transfer amid interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.

Barca have won 10 of 17 games with Messi in LaLiga this season, and one of two in his absence – drawing the other.

Last season, Barca had a 66.7 winning percentage with Messi in the league – claiming 22 of 33 matches, while the Spanish giants won 60.0 per cent of their fixtures in his absence – three wins from five matchups.

But countryman Gatti, no stranger to hitting out at Argentina skipper Messi, told El Chiringuito: "Every time Messi doesn't play, Barcelona win because they can draw on other strengths.

"Football is about winning and if you play well, even better.

"Every time Messi doesn't play, Barcelona win."

Messi – out of contract at season's end – has scored 11 goals in 17 league appearances for Barca this season, while he has 14 across all competitions.

Ronald Koeman's Barca are 10 points adrift of LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid through 19 rounds in 2020-21.

Barca face Rayo Vallecano in the Copa del Rey round of 16 on Wednesday.

If Paris Saint-Germain have their way, Lionel Messi will be playing for the French giants in 2021-22.

But will he be playing alongside Kylian Mbappe in Paris?

Real Madrid target Mbappe could stay.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI IN, MBAPPE OUT?

Paris Saint-Germain want to sign Lionel Messi but Kylian Mbappe could remain with the Ligue 1 champions, according to reports.

Barcelona captain Messi is out of contract at season's end and has been heavily linked with PSG and Manchester City.

Le Parisien says there is no doubt who will replace Mbappe at PSG if he departs for LaLiga champions Real Madrid, though Canal + journalist Pierre Menes claims the French forward is interested in staying at Parc des Princes.

 

ROUND-UP

Madrid are considering a €45million (£39.9m) bid to re-sign Sergio Reguilon from Tottenham, according to Sport. Reguilon left the LaLiga champions at the start of the season, but Madrid have an option to buy him back within two years.

- Calciomercato says Juventus are eyeing Bayern Munich duo Corentin Tolisso and Joshua Zirkzee. Bayern are reportedly unwilling to let Zirkzee leave permanently.

- Sport 1 claims Borussia Dortmund are set to battle German rivals Bayern for Borussia Monchengladbach star Florian Neuhaus. The 23-year-old reportedly has a €40m release clause.

- RB Leipzig attacker Hwang Hee-chan could be loaned out amid links to West Ham, reports Kicker.

Inter and Lautaro Martinez remain in negotiations over a new contract, reports Calciomercato. Once tipped to join Barca, Martinez's Camp Nou dream appears to be fading due to the economic situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Inter are not prepared to meet Martinez's wage demands at the moment.

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.

Lionel Messi will miss Barcelona's LaLiga match at Elche on Sunday after losing his appeal against a two-match ban.

The Argentina star was suspended for his red card in the Supercopa de Espana final defeat to Athletic Bilbao, in which he was sent off for striking Asier Villalibre following a VAR review.

It was the first time in 753 appearances for the club in all competitions that Messi was dismissed.

Barca appealed against the suspension but confirmed on Friday that their efforts had been in vain, meaning Messi will not be available for the game at Estadio Martinez Valero.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner had already served one match of his ban, having been absent from Thursday's Copa del Rey win at Cornella.

Ousmane Dembele and Martin Braithwaite scored in extra time after Barca missed two penalties against the third-tier side.

Messi will be free to return in next Wednesday's Copa del Rey last-16 clash against Rayo Vallecano, with another meeting with Athletic, this time in LaLiga, to follow on January 31.

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."

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman has dismissed comments by Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo confirming they would be interested in signing Lionel Messi.

Leonardo said on Monday PSG have a seat "reserved" at the table of clubs who are "following closely" the developments around Messi's future.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner is in the final six months of his Barca contract and could leave on a free transfer after this season.

Koeman, though, thinks it is normal for top players to be coveted by other clubs, saying he could never claim to have no interest in having PSG's star forwards at his disposal.

"If you ask me if I'm interested in Neymar and [Kylian] Mbappe, I'd say yes," he told reporters on Wednesday. "I don't know what will happen in the future; I can't give an opinion on those. We try to have the best squad possible."

Messi is serving a two-match ban for his red card in Barca's Supercopa de Espana final defeat to Athletic Bilbao, although the club are appealing against the punishment.

"The club told me it's two games, the club doesn't agree [with the sanction] and we'll see," said Koeman. "There are things that can be defended and hopefully they reduce the sanction. If not, we play two games without Leo.

"We've trained, Leo has trained with a lot of eagerness and I haven't seen anything odd. Everyone is sad for the Supercopa result, but we're on the road to better things, above all defensively. Leo is right in the middle of this."

Barca face a Copa del Rey clash at Cornella, the team that shocked LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid in the previous round, on Thursday.

Sergino Dest and Sergi Roberto are sidelined with minor injury problems and Koeman says further first-team regulars will be rested given both Barca games at the Supercopa went to extra time.

"For them, it's the game of the year and for us it's the next one to be ready for. We have to go through because we're Barcelona. It depends a lot on mentality," he said.

"We're angry, it's normal. We have to be like that because we had the Supercopa close and they equalised in the last minute.

"I think we're on a good path - I think so, at least. And we have to keep moving forward. There are players with knocks but it's normal after two matches in extra time and two flights.

"We're going to make changes. We'll see tomorrow [how many]. We want to put out a strong team and, above all, a team that's strong mentally."

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar are three of the superstars who have been voted into UEFA's Men's Team of the Year by fans, with Virgil van Dijk also included despite missing a chunk of 2020 through injury.

Fans had from November 30 to January 6 to cast their votes, and a host of predictable names made the cut, though Champions League winners Bayern Munich dominate.

There are five players from Bayern's treble-winning 2019-20 in the team, including Robert Lewandowski – winner of The Best FIFA Men's Player of the Year award – and Thiago Alcantara, who has since joined Liverpool.

The other Reds player in the side is Van Dijk even though the Dutch centre-back has only played five Premier League games this season due to a serious knee injury.

However, earlier in the year he inspired Liverpool to their first league title since 1990.

Ronaldo was named in the side for a 15th time after helping Juventus to another Scudetto.

Messi earned his 12th inclusion despite failing to help Barcelona to LaLiga success in what was a largely difficult year for the Blaugrana and their captain.

UEFA confirmed the final selection for the women's team as well, with six players from Lyon's Women's Champions League-winning squad in the side.

 

Men's Team of the Year:

Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich and Germany); Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich and Germany), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid and Spain), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool and Netherlands), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich and Canada); Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich/Liverpool and Spain), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City and Belgium); Lionel Messi (Barcelona and Argentina), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus and Portugal), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich and Poland), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil).

Women's Team of the Year:

Sarah Bouhaddi (Lyon and France); Lucy Bronze (Lyon/Manchester City and England), Kadeisha Buchanan (Lyon and Canada), Wendie Renard (Lyon and France), Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea and Sweden); Kheira Hamraoui (Barcelona and France), Amandine Henry (Lyon and France), Delphine Cascarino (Lyon and France), Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir (Wolfsburg/Lyon and Iceland); Danielle van de Donk (Arsenal and Netherlands), Pernille Harder (Wolfsburg/Chelsea and Denmark).

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino heaped praise on Kylian Mbappe amid doubts over his future with the Ligue 1 champions, though he was reluctant to discuss Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

Mbappe has been tipped to join LaLiga champions Real Madrid, but PSG remain committed to trying to re-sign the star forward – who is out of contract in 2022.

The 22-year-old has gone four matches without a goal, while he has managed just two goals in his last eight appearances for league leaders PSG.

Pochettino was asked about the possible renewal of World Cup winner Mbappe, who has scored 12 goals in 16 Ligue 1 appearances this term and 14 across all competitions.

"The club are working on retaining the best and he has a huge future ahead of him," Pochettino – who was absent from the win over Angers due to coronavirus – told Cadena SER's El Larguero programme. 

"What coach wouldn't want to work with Mbappe?".

Asked about Mbappe and Neymar after replacing Thomas Tuchel at the start of January, former Tottenham boss Pochettino added: "They've both welcomed me and are open to a new footballing proposition and I can only thank them for the warm reception."

Barca captain Messi has been heavily linked with a move to PSG as he prepares to become a free agent at the end of the season.

Messi has entered the final six months of his contract at Camp Nou and PSG sporting director Leonardo admitted the club are keeping a close eye on the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Premier League giants Manchester City have also emerged as a destination for Messi, while Serie A side Inter are believed to be interested.

But Pochettino refused to give much away when quizzed on Messi, saying: "To be honest, I haven't had time to sit with the president and talk about the transfer market as we're just focused on the present. So many times, a throwaway phrase can be twisted and used out of context."

When it was put to him that PSG are monitoring Messi, Pochettino replied: "No comment. When I was at Espanyol or Southampton, my dream was to have the best players at the club and Messi came close to being loaned out to Espanyol… The deal was well advanced but he delivered a great display in pre-season and that was the end of that.

"We've met over the years in places such as London or in Italy. We both share the love for Newell's, as we both came through their academy and that is our common bond."

"I'm aware of all that is going on. I've been watching everyone from West Ham to Valladolid and these days you need to keep your eyes on every team," Pochettino added ahead of PSG's clash with Montpellier on Friday. "I really don't want to talk about Messi as everything then gets blown out of proportion."

Lionel Messi is free to negotiate a move to clubs outside LaLiga and Juan Sebastian Veron thinks Javier Zanetti will be key to Inter's hopes of signing the Barcelona superstar.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi is in the final six months of his contract at Camp Nou, having failed to engineer a move away during the close season.

The 33-year-old has long been linked with a switch to Serie A giants Inter, where his former Argentina team-mate Zanetti – the Albiceleste's most-capped player of all time – is vice-president.

Former Nerazzurri and Argentina midfielder Veron does not expect Messi to be at Inter next season, but believes it will be down to Zanetti if he does complete a move to San Siro.

"I don't think he can go to Italy. If he will, it is because of Javier Zanetti, who knows him and will try to talk to him, making him feel important again and to explaining the future projects of the club," Veron told Stats Perform News.

"At the end of the day it is purely Messi's decision. But if Inter want to make an attempt, they have to use seduction and get to his heart to draw him near. 

"I don't know how many more years Messi wants to play at this level, but if you want to sign him, Inter have to make Messi their flagship and make clear they want to be at the top level."

After a 2-0 victory over Juventus on Sunday, Inter sit second in Serie A three points behind leaders Milan.

Antonio Conte's side have not been lacking in attack this term, though, with Romelu Lukaku (12 goals, three assists) and Lautaro Martinez (nine goals, three assists) developing a potent partnership in the league.

No forward in Serie A to have played at least 10 games this season has had more Opta-defined 'big chances' than Lukaku, whose tally of 20 is only matched by Edin Dzeko and Cristiano Ronaldo. The Belgium international has the best conversion rate of the trio, scoring from 12 such openings for a 60 per cent success ratio. Ronaldo is second on 55 per cent, while Dzeko is third on 35 per cent.

Messi has scored 11 goals and assisted two more in LaLiga this term, while converting 58.3 per cent (seven out of 12) of his big chances.

The Barca captain's 35 key passes are only bettered by Iago Aspas (37), and his 100 attempts on goal in the Spanish top flight this season are almost twice as many as Karim Benzema (51) in second.

Lionel Messi's two-match ban is to be appealed by Barcelona, the club confirmed.

Messi was dismissed in the 121st minute of Sunday's Supercopa de Espana defeat to Athletic Bilbao as he took a swing at Asier Villalibre in an off-the-ball incident that was spotted by the VAR.

It was the first time he had been sent off for the club and only the third red in his entire 17-year career for Barca and Argentina.

Barca lost the match 3-2 in Seville and a ruling by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) competition committee on Tuesday deemed Messi's offence serious enough to warrant a two-match suspension.

That will rule him out of the Copa del Rey match against Cornella on Thursday and Sunday's LaLiga trip to Elche, before returning for another tussle with Villalibre and Athletic on January 31.

But Barca seemingly deemed the punishment too sever and announced plans to appeal soon after the RFEF's initial decision.

Barca's statement read: "Barcelona is to appeal the suspension issued to Leo Messi. The competition committee announced on Tuesday that the Argentinian's red card in the final minutes of the Supercopa de Espana final against Athletic Club shall incur a two-match ban."

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi has been banned for two domestic matches following his red card in the Supercopa de Espana final defeat to Athletic Bilbao.

Messi was dismissed in the 119th minute of Sunday's game as he took a swing at Asier Villalibre in an off-the-ball incident that was spotted by the VAR, and referee Jesus Gil Manzano subsequently showed him the red.

It was the first time he has been sent off for the club and only the third red card in his entire 17-year career for Barca and Argentina.

Reports in Spain had suggested an extended ban could be imposed on Messi, and a statement by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed on Tuesday that he will be suspended for Barca's next two games.

Therefore, he will miss the Copa del Rey game against Cornella and the league trip to Elche – he will return in time for another tussle with Villalibre and Athletic on January 31.

 

Paris Saint-Germain are keeping a close watch on the future of Barcelona captain Lionel Messi, according to the club's sporting director Leonardo. 

Messi has entered the final six months of his contract at Camp Nou and could make a sensational free transfer once his deal expires after this season. 

PSG and Manchester City have been tipped as the most likely clubs to sign the six-time Ballon d'Or winner, who was sent off in the 3-2 Supercopa de Espana loss to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, if he chooses not to extend his contract with Barca. 

While he says now is not the time to say anything concrete about a possible agreement, Leonardo suggests the Ligue 1 champions will be ready to make their move should Messi wish to seek a new challenge. 

"Great players like Messi will always be on PSG's list," he told France Football. "But this is of course not the time to talk about it, or to dream about it. 

"But we are sitting at the big table of those who are following the case closely. In fact, no, we're not yet sitting there, but our chair is reserved, just in case... 

"Four months is an eternity in football, especially at this time." 

It has been reported in France that PSG's priority for now is to extend the contracts of star forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. 

The world's most expensive two players see their present deals at Parc des Princes expire at the end of next season. 

Leonardo maintains PSG will not be forced into any special concessions in order to keep them at the club, but he has a positive feeling they can reach agreements. 

"I hope they're convinced PSG is a good place right now for an ambitious and very high-level footballer," he said. 

"We just have to find an agreement between their desires, their requirements, our expectations and our means. 

"We don't have to beg them 'please stay'. Those who really want to stay will stay. We talk regularly and I have good feelings on these two cases."

Ronald Koeman empathised with Lionel Messi's frustration after the superstar captain was sent off in Barcelona's Supercopa de Espana final loss against Athletic Bilbao.

Messi saw red for the first time in his illustrious club career as embattled LaLiga giants Barca were upstaged 3-2 by Athletic after extra time in Seville on Sunday.

After Athletic star Inaki Williams struck in the third minute of extra time, Messi swung at Asier Villalibre in an off-the-ball incident that was spotted by VAR and referee Jesus Gil Manzano brandished a red card.

Messi – who has been tipped to leave Camp Nou amid links with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain – is facing a lengthy suspension, but Barca head coach Koeman defended the 33-year-old.

"I can understand what Messi did," Koeman said afterwards.

"I don't know how many times they fouled him, and it's normal to react when they keep trying to foul you as a player who is looking to dribble with the ball, but I need to see it again properly."

Messi, who was fouled eight times against Athletic, recovered from a minor injury to return to Barcelona's line-up in his 753rd appearance for the Catalan club.

"Leo, after so many years in the elite of football, knows perfectly if he is in condition or not," Koeman said.

"We spoke before, he said he was in condition to play the game, he has given his maximum and nothing else."

Antoine Griezmann scored twice for Barca, including the 40th-minute opener, but his goals were cancelled out on both occasions at Estadio de La Cartuja.

Athletic's Oscar de Marcos equalised in the 42nd minute before substitute team-mate Villalibre forced extra time at the death, after Griezmann had restored Barca's lead with 13 minutes remaining.

Williams stepped up with a sublime goal as Barca – third in LaLiga and seven points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid – missed out on their first title under Koeman, who replaced Quique Setien ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

"We are sad, disappointed by the result," Koeman added. "We played the final to win and not to lose that, yes. But there is no time to get off. We'll be playing soon, there's a cup and a league, there's no time for regrets.

"We have done positive things, we have improved. We have failed in the goals received. We have to be more forceful in defence. We must defend better in the area and not let the opponents think, they cannot control, turn and shoot easily. We can improve.

"My work ... I give the maximum I can. My work is not very good if we had won, nor very bad for losing. We are on the way, there are positive things, although losing today is very hard."

Barcelona star Antoine Griezmann said the LaLiga giants are "screwed, angry, upset" after being upstaged by Athletic Bilbao in the Supercopa de Espana final.

Lionel Messi was sent off for the first time in his Barca career as the Catalan club lost 3-2 to Athletic following extra time in Seville on Sunday.

Griezmann scored twice, including the 40th-minute opener, but his goals were cancelled out on both occasions at Estadio de La Cartuja.

Athletic's Oscar de Marcos equalised in the 42nd minute before substitute team-mate Asier Villalibre forced extra time at the death, after Griezmann had restored Barca's lead with 13 minutes remaining.

Inaki Williams then scored a sublime goal in the third minute of extra time to secure Athletic's third Supercopa crown and first since 2015, with Messi's red card for lashing out at Villalibre adding to Barca's woes in the dying moments.

"How do you think we are?" Griezmann replied when asked how Barca felt post-game.

"We're screwed, angry, upset. When you lose a final, these are all the bad feelings you have.

"Athletic pressed very well. They gave everything until the last minute, and then what happened, happened. We have made mistakes in our strategy and we'll have to work on it during the week.

"We didn't defend well, we didn't communicate. When the ball comes out someone needs to shout."

France star Griezmann has scored five goals in his past four finals in all competitions for club and country.

He has also been directly involved in seven goals in his past four appearances for Barca across all competitions, after failing to score or assist a goal in any of his previous seven matches.

In LaLiga, Ronald Koeman's Barca are third and seven points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid – who have two games in hand.

Page 1 of 56
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.