Lionel Messi wants to leave Barcelona, but where will he go?

Manchester United, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Inter and Juventus are possible destinations.

But, both Manchester clubs are believed to be targeting the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED EYE MESSI, BUT LIONEL WANTS CITY

Manchester United are in position to sign wantaway Barcelona captain Lionel Messi, according to Deportes Cuatro.

Messi wants to sensationally leave embattled LaLiga giants Barca and United are reportedly one of the clubs capable of signing the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

However, The Athletic claims neighbours Manchester City and Messi have held talks, with the superstar open to playing for Pep Guardiola again.

Paris Saint-Germain, Inter and Juventus have also been linked.

 

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- The Telegraph reports Real Madrid outcast James Rodriguez is close to joining Everton. James has previously worked under Carlo Ancelotti at Bayern Munich and Madrid.

Chelsea will complete the signing of Leicester City full-back Ben Chilwell, says Fabrizio Romano. The transfer will be announced soon as Chelsea also look to bring in Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz and PSG captain Thiago Silva.

- Calciomercato claims Zlatan Ibrahimovic is close to signing a new deal with Milan. The 38-year-old is out of contract after returning to Milan for a second spell in January.

Barca want City's Gabriel Jesus to replace veteran forward Luis Suarez, according to Globo Esporte. Suarez has been told he can leave Camp Nou, and former club Ajax are reportedly trying to re-sign the Uruguayan.

Ajax sporting director Marc Overmars said the club's chances of re-signing Barcelona star Luis Suarez are "quite small".

Suarez, 33, has reportedly been told he is not part of Barca's plans as new head coach Ronald Koeman tries to rebuild the embattled LaLiga giants.

Ajax have emerged as a possible destination for Suarez, who spent four years playing for the Eredivisie champions before joining Liverpool in 2011.

Amid speculation Ajax are in talks to bring Suarez back to Amsterdam, Overmars addressed the rumours.

"Let me put it this way: the chance that he will come is quite small," Overmars told Ziggo Sport as Ajax defeated Hertha Berlin 1-0 in Tuesday's friendly.

"That's a straight answer, I think. Whether there has been any contact with him? We have that with several ex-Ajax players. That is logical, you also have to maintain that."

Suarez, who won the Eredivisie and KNVB Cup during his time at Ajax, has celebrated four LaLiga titles and the Champions League among other honours since moving to Barca in 2014.

Overmars, meanwhile, was also asked about in-demand Ajax star Donny van de Beek.

Van de Beek has been linked to Manchester United and Real Madrid, though Barca are believed to be eyeing the Netherlands international following Koeman's appointment.

"No idea, at least that hasn't made it onto my plate yet," Overmars said when quizzed on Barca's rumoured interest.

Overmars added: "It's pretty quiet. I certainly think the market has yet to get going. That makes sense: the Champions League has only just ended, so that will start soon. 

"There is always interest for some players. A few players look good, one player has fairly serious interest. Who that is? That will show itself in the coming weeks."

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.

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- 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.

The transfer saga that is Jadon Sancho-Manchester United continues to roll on.

Sancho has long been tipped to join United, though Borussia Dortmund are adamant the England star will not return to his homeland this off-season.

United, however, are reportedly not giving up.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED HELD UP BY PERSONAL TERMS

Manchester United remain keen on signing Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho but personal terms and an agent fee are holding up their pursuit, according to ESPN.

Dortmund have insisted Sancho will not be sold, though United continue to target the former Manchester City youngster in a blockbuster transfer.

United have reportedly been given the green light to speak to Sancho and his representative but there has been an impasse with the player's camp over salary demands.

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- Journalist Fabrizio Romano says Chelsea and Bayer Leverkusen are still negotiating a deal for star Kai Havertz. While Chelsea are confident, there remains a difference between the two clubs as Leverkusen hope to conclude a deal by the end of the month.

Jack Grealish to United? The Aston Villa captain continues to be linked with a move to Old Trafford and ESPN reports United goalkeeper Sergio Romero could be included in a deal to sign Grealish. Romero is United's number two behind David de Gea and the Argentina international's future is unclear, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reportedly keen for Dean Henderson to challenge for the number one spot.

- According to Cadena Ser's El Larguero, Luis Suarez is aiming to stay at Barcelona. Linked with a return to former club Ajax, Suarez is reportedly one of a number of players who could be forced out following Ronald Koeman's arrival. However, Suarez, Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto all want to speak to Quique Setien's replacement.

- Amid doubts over Pique's long-term future with Barca, Libero claims newly promoted Premier League side Fulham have made an offer for the Spain international star.

United remain interested in signing Barca teenager Ansu Fati, reports Marca. The 17-year-old reportedly switched agents to Jorge Mendes, having previously been represented by Messi's brother.

- The Telegraph says Chelsea are considering a move for Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva. The 35-year-old will become a free agent following the Champions League final and he has already been linked with former club Milan and fellow Serie A side Fiorentina.

Juventus are negotiating with United for Federico Bernardeschi and Douglas Costa, claims La Gazzetta dello Sport. The report also says the Serie A champions are speaking to City regarding Alex Sandro, while new boss Andrea Pirlo is eyeing Roma striker Edin Dzeko and Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli.

- Tuttosport's frontpage on Thursday suggests a merry-go-round of strikers. Inter have reportedly told Real Madrid that Romelu Lukaku is not for sale, Juve are in talks with Wolves to sign Raul Jimenez and Inter are challenging the Bianconeri for Dzeko. Meanwhile, Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik is heading towards Roma.

- The countdown is on for Madrid to sell outcasts Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez, according to Marca.

Lionel Messi will be at the heart of Ronald Koeman's plans as Barcelona head coach so long as the "best player in the world" wishes to remain at Camp Nou.

Koeman was unveiled as Quique Setien's successor on Wednesday, continuing a tempestuous few days at Barca following their humiliating 8-2 Champions League quarter-final loss to Bayern Munich.

Sporting director Eric Abidal departed after handling Setien's sacking, although reports Messi wishes to leave the club have arguably caused the biggest shockwaves.

Under-fire president Josep Maria Bartomeu told Barcelona's in-house television channel that Messi will be part of the club's immediate future, despite conceding he had not spoken to the player in the aftermath of the Bayern debacle.

Predictably, Messi was a prominent topic of conversation when Koeman faced reporters for the first time in a role he left his Netherlands post to take up.

"Messi is the best player in the world and you want the best player in the world on your team," he said.

"I don't know if I have to convince him [to stay]. I would love to work with him because he wins you games. If he gets the usual performance, I'm very happy that he stays.

"He has a contract. You have to talk to him, of course, he is captain of the team. We have to talk to several players. We have to make decisions. In the case of Messi, I hope he will be here for more years.

"If I tell you what I'm going to say to Leo, I don't need to meet him. They are private things. I want him to tell me what he thinks. But come on, he has one year left on his contract."

In his surprisingly wide-ranging address on Tuesday, Bartomeu said Messi was among a select group of players who were not for sale in the first-team squad that also includes Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Frenkie de Jong, Clement Lenglet, Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann and Ansu Fati.

Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets were among the notable omissions from that list but Koeman insists the more experienced members of his squad will have a chance to prove themselves.

Asked whether the nucleus of the Barcelona first-team needed to be replaced, he replied: "I think not, in principle. A 32-year-old player is not finished.

"Everything is about how hungry he is, how hungry he is to give everything.

"There are people at 20 years old who lack hunger and work ethic. I just want to work with people who want to be here.

"Whoever doesn't like it, go to the club and tell them. I just want to work with people who want to do their best for Barcelona."

When asked specifically about Suarez, he added: "Messi is different because he is the captain of the team, but I am not going to talk about the players.

"First I want to talk to them. I am not going to do that out of respect for the players."

Koeman scored the winning goal when Barcelona first became champions of Europe with a 1-0 win over Sampdoria at Wembley in 1992.

As such, he conceded last Friday's mauling at the hands of Bayern was a tough watch.

"I'm very sad about the result," he said. "I think it can't be, even if it is a team as good as this Bayern. After that sad day, we will have different days.

"This is not about a revolution, but if changes are best for the club, there will be changes.

"We will do it speaking with the players. What we saw versus Bayern was not the Barca we want. We want a very different image."

Is Ronald Koeman the chosen one?

Quique Setien was sacked by Barcelona on Monday, following the club's Champions League horror show.

And Netherlands head coach Koeman – a former Barca defender – is reportedly on the verge of being appointed.

 

TOP STORY – KOEMAN TO LEAD STRUGGLING BARCA

Ronald Koeman is set to become Barcelona head coach, according to widespread reports.

Netherlands boss Koeman is reportedly the man Barca want to appoint following Quique Setien's sacking in the aftermath of their 8-2 Champions League humiliation against Bayern Munich.

Tuesday's frontpages of Marca and Sport say former Barca defender Koeman will replace Setien.

Voetbal and Sky Sports claim LaLiga giants Barca are holding talks with the Dutch Football Federation (KNVB) as they seek to appoint Koeman.

 

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- With Koeman set to vacate his position, Fox Sports presenter Jan Joost van Gangelen claims former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has offered to take the Netherlands job. Wenger has been out of work since leaving Arsenal in 2018.

- The Guardian reports Premier League champions Liverpool are unwilling to pay the €30million (£27m) fee Bayern Munich are asking for star midfielder Thiago Alcantara. The Spaniard has also been linked to Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.

Inter remain in talks with Brescia to sign star midfielder Sandro Tonali, reports Fabrizio Romano. Inter will reportedly try to finalise a transfer following the Europa League final. Tonali has also been linked to champions Juventus.

- Alfredo Pedulla says Napoli want to sign Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos but are still trying to negotiate a fee. It comes as Arsenal reportedly close in on Lille centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes, who has also been targeted by Napoli.

City are preparing a new and improved offer for Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly, says Sportitalia's Pedulla. Napoli are reportedly keen to sell Koulibaly in order to raise funds for Gabriel.

- According to Sky Sports, Manchester United are monitoring Juve winger Douglas Costa. The future of Costa in Turin is in doubt as new boss Andrea Pirlo rebuilds and with United struggling to prise Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, they could turn to the Brazilian.

- Cadena Ser claims Barca plan to force pay cuts on players who refuse to leave Camp Nou. Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba and Ivan Rakitic are among three of the highest earners who the club are hopeful of selling this off-season.

Milan are hopeful of re-signing Gianluigi Donnarumma and Zlatan Ibrahimovic before the end of the month despite negotiations dragging on, according to Calciomercato.

- AS reports RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano could join Real Madrid in 2021. Due to the financial situation amid the coronavirus pandemic, Madrid are reportedly holding off on major transfers until next year.

So, the Jadon Sancho saga rambles on.

Manchester United want to sign Sancho, but Borussia Dortmund are adamant the 20-year-old will be staying put in 2020-21.

Could Barcelona and Real Madrid enter the mix?

 

TOP STORY – UNITED BRACED FOR SANCHO BATTLE

Manchester United believe Barcelona and Real Madrid will enter the race to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to The Mirror.

United have identified Sancho as their number one transfer target, however, Dortmund continually insist the England international will not leave the Bundesliga team.

If United fail to land Sancho this off-season, the Red Devils are bracing for a three-way battle with LaLiga giants Barca and Madrid next year.

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- Cristiano Ronaldo to Barcelona? The Juventus superstar's entourage told AS he is happy in Italy, despite claims the former Madrid forward has been offered to the LaLiga outfit as the Scudetto holders look to free up cash.

- Journalist Fabrizio Romano claims Premier League champions Liverpool are in contact with Bundesliga holders Bayern Munich regarding Thiago Alcantara. The Spanish star has also emerged as a possible target for Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

- Tuttosport says Paulo Dybala could be offered to United in exchange for Paul Pogba. Dybala has been linked with Juve exits as the Serie A champions look to slash their wage bill. Dybala could be the player sacrificed in a bid to lure Pogba back to Turin, while Madrid and PSG are believed to be interested in the Argentina international.

- Barcelona star Luis Suarez is wanted by Qatari outfit Al-Arabi, says beIN SPORTS. Suarez is contracted to the LaLiga giants until 2021 as Barca eye Inter forward Lautaro Martinez as his long-term replacement.

Juve are eyeing a move for Atalanta forward Duvan Zapata, reports Calciomercato. Zapata starred as Atalanta finished third in Serie A and reached the Champions League quarter-finals. Juve – now led by Andrea Pirlo – have also been linked with Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik and Roma veteran Edin Dzeko.

- The Sun claims City are considering a £40million bid for Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks.

United are challenging rivals Chelsea for Leicester City full-back Ben Chilwell, who is valued at £80m, according to The Mirror.

Napoli are eyeing a double Roma raid, with Gazzetta dello Sport saying Cengiz Under and Jordan Veretout are on the list. With Jose Callejon and Allan set to leave, Napoli want to sign Roma's Under and Veretout.

Bayern Munich are serious contenders for Champions League glory, but Luis Suarez says Barcelona's quarter-final with them will be 50-50.

Barca overcame Napoli 3-1 at Camp Nou on Saturday to seal a 4-2 aggregate victory and set up a meeting at the Estadio da Luz on Friday with Bayern, who beat Chelsea 4-1 to make it 7-1 over the two legs.

It could have been a very different story in Catalonia had Dries Mertens' second-minute effort found the back of the net rather than the post.

However, Clement Lenglet headed Barca in front seven minutes later and Lionel Messi's excellent solo goal was followed by a penalty from Suarez.

Napoli pulled one back from the spot through Lorenzo Insigne in first-half stoppage time, but Barca held firm to book their place in the last eight in Lisbon.

With the remaining games to be contested as one-offs rather than two-legged affairs, Suarez sees nothing to separate Quique Setien's men and the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal champions.

"Everyone has a chance in a single game, it's 50-50," Suarez told Movistar.

"Bayern are a great opponent, they are a contender for the title, like all of the eight in Lisbon, but it is 11 against 11 for 90 minutes.

"You have to play the games to see which team does thing better to advance to the semi-finals."

On the game against Napoli, he added: "It's what we wanted. For two weeks since LaLiga ended we've been preparing for the match knowing the difficulty of an opponent who made things tough for us in the first leg," said Suarez in a TV interview.

"The important thing is that we qualified and now think about the next opponent.

"Napoli are a team that generate a lot of chances in the league. We knew they would get them. We had a scare early on but we scored first. A goal from them would have created uncertainty, but I think we managed the game well.

"The Napoli goal generated a bit of caution in us. We knew what we were going to come out to in the second half.

"We had to think about attacking. We knew were not going to have much space."

Luis Suarez is eager to stay at Barcelona amid MLS interest, while Chelsea may have a choice to make.

Suarez, 33, is out of contract at the LaLiga giants next year and has been linked with a move away.

The forward seemingly has options.

 

TOP STORY – SUAREZ WANTS BARCELONA STAY AMID INTER MIAMI INTEREST

Suarez has no intention of leaving Barcelona, according to Sport.

It comes after Mundo Deportivo reported Suarez has an offer from MLS club Inter Miami, but wants to extend his stay at Barca beyond 2021.

Suarez has scored 19 goals in 34 games in 2019-20.

 

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- Chelsea are linked with further moves this close season. But Sport Bild reports Atletico Madrid are relaxed over the Premier League club's interest in Jan Oblak, with the LaLiga side doubting Chelsea can afford both the goalkeeper and Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz.

- Philippe Coutinho is expected to make a permanent move from Barcelona. Mundo Deportivo claims Arsenal are best-placed to land the playmaker and Barca want only money for the Brazil international.

- Bayern Munich have set their price for Thiago Alcantara, who is linked with a move to Liverpool. Sport Bild says the Bundesliga champions want £27.2m (€30m) for the midfielder.

- Could Manchester City have received a transfer boost? Sport Bild reports David Alaba's contract talks with Bayern Munich are at a stalemate. Alaba is out of contract at Bayern next year and has been linked to City.

- Jesse Lingard's time at Manchester United could be over. The Daily Mail says United are prepared to sell the midfielder, who has been linked to Roma and Borussia Monchengladbach.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu expects Lionel Messi to stay at the club but appears doubtful of deals for Neymar or Lautaro Martinez.

Messi's frustrated outburst after Barca lost the LaLiga title race to Real Madrid prompted speculation he could look to leave the club when his contract expires next year.

It has also been suggested the Argentina star has a tense relationship with Bartomeu, having previously criticised unnamed members of the board for a perceived lack of support for the players.

Bartomeu, though, is not worried about the future of the club captain.

"Messi has said many times that he wants to retire here and I have no doubt that he will renew," he told Mundo Deportivo.

Bartomeu is more sceptical about Barca's transfer plans due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Barca players agreed to a 70 per cent pay cut in March and volunteered to make contributions to help club staff take home a full salary during the height of Spain's 'state of alarm'.

The Catalans have nonetheless been hit hard by the crisis, meaning any transfers before next season are almost certain to involve player exchanges or require sales first.

With that in mind, Bartomeu appears pessimistic about bringing Neymar back to the club from Paris Saint-Germain or landing Inter striker Martinez, their top target.

"Now, we're making decisions and the players, if they don't come in an exchange, it's very difficult for them to come," he said when asked about Neymar.

On Martinez, he added: "Yes, we have spoken with Inter but now the issue is on hold."

However, Bartomeu believes the squad is already looking promising given a number of players are due to arrive in the coming weeks.

"We already have seven new players," he said. "We have bet on Trincao, Pedrito and Matheus [Fernandes] for the future, and they will have first-team numbers alongside [Ronald] Araujo, Riqui [Puig] and Ansu [Fati]. [Miralem] Pjanic will integrate from the beginning."

For now, Bartomeu's priority is extending the contract of goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, which expires in 2022, even though he accepts the Germany international is unlikely to earn a substantial pay rise.

"For me, it's Marc-Andre ter Stegen," he said when asked about the most important renewal. "Not only for the quality of keeper but for his personality as a player, his way of being. He's a pillar for the dressing room and the future.

"He's very young for a goalkeeper and he's already among the elite. And at 28, he's one of the three best in the world.

"He understands what's happening in society and he knows that, given the decrease in income for clubs like Barca, he has to adjust his salary. All the players are doing that and we're working on it.

"I don't get into figures. I say that they adapt their salaries to the level of income that the club has right now and will have in future."

On the future of striker Luis Suarez, he added: "Luis has a contract that, based on the number of games he plays. It automatically renews for the 2021-22 season."

Luis Suarez had "no respect for anyone" in Liverpool training, which was a sign he was going to be a "top player" according to Reds great Steven Gerrard.

Uruguay striker Suarez scored 82 goals in 113 appearances during a prolific three-and-a-half-year stay on Merseyside between January 2011 and July 2014.

Suarez netted 31 Premier League goals during a sensational 2013-14 campaign, which saw Liverpool agonisingly lose out on the title to top-flight rivals Manchester City.

Former captain Gerrard remembered how Suarez's dogged determination and desire to fight was always on show at Melwood.

It was that hunger that convinced Gerrard almost immediately he was playing alongside a special talent, even if it did mean the Reds' defenders had a tough time of it in training.

"A lot of strikers that we used to sign did have respect for the likes of Jamie Carragher and other names around the squad but he had no respect for anyone in training, in a good way," Gerrard told BBC's Match of the Day Top 10 podcast about the now Barcelona superstar.

"He'd be backing into them, he'd be leaving a bit in on them, he'd have elbows up and I'd be thinking that's not normally what you'd see in training, you'd normally see a lot of respect but Luis would run through anyone and have a defender up the wall at any given moment.

"You knew straight away in days rather than weeks that he was going to be a top player for Liverpool."

It was during the 2013-14 campaign that the Reds had the destiny of the title in their own hands before a 2-0 loss to Chelsea, remembered for Gerrard's infamous slip that allowed Demba Ba to open the scoring.

Six years later and Liverpool are champions of England for the first time in 30 years, a feat Gerrard says will help to "bury a few demons".

"First and foremost, for me, it was fantastic to bury a few demons, from 2014 it was certainly a big relief," added the Rangers boss.

"Being a Liverpool fan and ex-player, I've known the big, long wait and I'm still in touch with a lot of the players that are in that dressing room so a lot of them shared that pain with me.

"It was fantastic for everyone connected to the club, but it was mixed emotions in many ways because of my own experiences, being a fan and ex-player and a lot of my family are Liverpool fans as well.

"To be honest with you, I'm still on a really big high watching all of the TV coverage and seeing all of the emotions flying about."

Lionel Messi secured a record seventh Pichichi award after the Barcelona star finished the 2019-20 season as the leading scorer in LaLiga.

The Argentinian equalled Athletic Bilbao great Telmo Zarra's record of six awards last season, but he is now out on his own after another superb campaign in front of goal.

His double in the final-day 5-0 rout of Deportivo Alaves took him to 25 goals in 33 appearances.

It was not enough to guide Barca to a third consecutive title, however, with Real Madrid pulling away in the final weeks to seal top spot.

Madrid striker Karim Benzema was four goals behind on 21, while Villarreal's Gerard Moreno was third with 18 goals, two ahead of Messi's Barca team-mate Luis Suarez.

Luis Suarez has shown Barcelona how they can put their LaLiga disappointment behind them and end the season on a high in the Champions League, according to Bojan.

Barca's title defence faltered following LaLiga's resumption from a three-month suspension amid the coronavirus pandemic, with Real Madrid winning 10 straight games and securing top spot with a 2-1 victory over Villarreal on Thursday.

That result coincided with Quique Setien's side going down 2-1 at home to 10-man Osasuna, a match that saw the experienced trio of Suarez, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba start on the bench.

Suarez acknowledged prior to the fixture that Barca's title hopes were effectively over, while Lionel Messi said following the defeat things must change or they will not win their Champions League last-16 second leg against Napoli on August 8.

Former Barca attacker Bojan believes Suarez's comments were motivational rather than defeatist, ensuring the Blaugrana keep their focus and aim to reach next month's mini-tournament in Lisbon.

"I can only applaud the message that Luis Suarez has repeated in all the interviews he granted in recent days," Bojan wrote for Catalan publication SPORT.

"That a reference like him, a striker who has just surpassed [Laszlo] Kubala in goals [for Barcelona], avoids looking for excuses and, above all, points to the dressing room itself as the biggest factor in what happened this season seems to me not only admirable, but also an exercise in humility. Not referees, not VAR, not anything like that.

"Honestly, I am comforted by hearing his words because only from analysing what you have done wrong yourself can you change and improve. And not only that, it shows the dressing room suffers, it suffers with each defeat, with each title that evaporates.

"In addition, Suarez, obviously, is laying the groundwork for the team to react, step forward, avoid feeling free from all guilt and end the season by winning the Champions League.

"Luis, in fact, does nothing but encourage his team-mates to believe. He is pointing towards Lisbon, where the Champions League is played in August."

Bojan said it would be "essential" to address this season's shortcomings in the future, but that for now the best route would be to follow Suarez's lead.

Setien admitted after the Osasuna loss he was unsure if he would still be in charge for the Champions League campaign.

Having been on the receiving of surprise comebacks from Roma and Liverpool over the past two seasons, Bojan believes the fact the final rounds of the competition will not be conducted over two legs boosts Barca's chances.

"If they reach the quarter-finals, they will arrive in Lisbon to play a tournament without two-legged ties in which, in recent seasons, Barca have suffered too much mentally," he wrote.

"Nor should physique be a key factor. Three games at 90 minutes. And with the talent to dream."

Antoine Griezmann missed Barcelona's clash against Osasuna, while Luis Suarez was only named among the substitutes, as Quique Setien's men looked to keep their slim LaLiga title hopes alive.

Barca began the penultimate round of fixtures four points adrift of leaders Real Madrid, who knew a win over Villarreal would see the title return to the Spanish capital.

Anything but a Barcelona victory would also hand Los Blancos the trophy, and the Blaugrana were weakened by Griezmann's absence against Osasuna due to a thigh injury.

Suarez, a half-time replacement for Griezmann in Barca's last game at the weekend, was on the bench again but Setien did make four changes.

Ivan Rakitic, Martin Braithwaite, Junior Firpo and Ansu Fati were those to come in to the starting line-up.

Quique Setien expects to remain as Barcelona coach next season despite it looking unlikely he will guide them to LaLiga success.

Setien replaced Ernesto Valverde in January and was appointed on a two-and-a-half-year deal, with his possession-based brand of football thought to be a good fit for the club after fans grew frustrated with his predecessor.

But the former Real Betis coach has not been able to inspire the kind of improvement some hoped for, while draws with Celta Vigo and Atletico Madrid at the end of June look set to cost them in the title race.

Barca are four points adrift of Real Madrid, who will clinch the title on Thursday if they beat Villarreal at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.

Club icon Xavi has been frequently linked with a return to Barca as coach, though Setien believes it will still be him at the helm next term.

"Of course, I see myself training Barca next season," he told reporters. "I have already experienced this before.

"The reality is that the expectations one has haven't been achieved, or not yet, but the work done is what must be valued.

"This is what I understand, or what I would like to see assessed. Of course, I think about next year's continuity."

Regarding the seemingly imminent confirmation of failure in LaLiga, he added: "I take my share of the responsibility, but not all of it.

"Making that assessment of finding a culprit always focuses on the coach. I don't feel that we did things so badly, drawing three games [since the resumption]. More merit should go to Madrid, who have won every game."

Luis Suarez has already effectively accepted defeat in the title race publicly, though Setien is retaining faith Madrid will slip up.

"That is his opinion. It is not yet [over] because anything can happen, but it is difficult," Setien continued.

"It requires a team that has won every game [since the season resumed] to lose. We have had three draws that make this difference.

"Obviously Madrid have done better because they have won all eight games. It is possible that a circumstance can arise [where Barca can win the title]. We will fight until the end."

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