Lionel Messi is the only number one in football as former Barcelona star Ivan Rakitic hailed the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Rakitic won 13 trophies, including four LaLiga titles and the Champions League, alongside superstar captain Messi at Barca before returning to Spanish rivals Sevilla at the start of the season.

Messi – Barca's all-time leading scorer – is regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport and Rakitic lauded the 33-year-old attacker, who has been linked with a move away from Camp Nou.

"One hundred per cent football. It doesn't matter who you are, you just have to watch and enjoy this guy. He's on another level," Rakitic told FIFA.com.

"With all respect to the other greats, there's only one number one – it's Leo. To play 311 games next to him, it was a dream.

"I enjoyed it so, so much. I just want to say this: 'Thank you for everything, Leo, because you'll never know how much it meant to me to play next to you'."

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

Argentina's all-time leading scorer and captain was tipped to join Premier League powerhouse Manchester City before opting to remain in Spain, though he has since been linked to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.

Messi returned to Barca to work under new head coach Ronald Koeman after failing to engineer a move away, but 2020-21 has been far from a vintage season for him.

He has scored three goals in seven LaLiga games this term, while he has six across all competitions.

Messi's minutes per-goal-rate of 195 is only good enough for 28th among players to have featured in at least five LaLiga games this season.

Barca – eighth in LaLiga and nine points off the pace – travel to Atletico Madrid on Saturday following the international break.

Messi has scored 12 goals in 17 LaLiga appearances against Atletico under Diego Simeone, more than any other player, whilst he is also the player to have scored the most LaLiga goals against goalkeeper Jan Oblak (eight goals in 11 games).

Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann get on very well despite claims to the contrary, according to former Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic. 

Griezmann has struggled for consistent form since his €120million move from Atletico Madrid last year and some have suggested his incompatibility with Messi is part of the problem.

Messi came off the bench to score twice and set up another, as well as play a key part in a goal for Griezmann, as Barca beat Real Betis 5-2 in LaLiga last week.

Griezmann, who earlier missed a penalty, scored only his second goal in seven league matches after Messi dummied Jordi Alba's cross into his path.

The pair only exchanged four passes throughout, however, as Messi mostly combined with Sergi Roberto (15 passes) and Sergio Busquets (19 passes) in an impressive cameo.

In an interview with France Football, Griezmann's former advisor, Eric Olhats, went as far as suggesting Messi has actively avoided passing to the France forward, accusing the Argentine of having a "deplorable" attitude and ruling the dressing room with a "reign of terror".

Rakitic, though, believes any such talk will disappear once each player hits a run of goalscoring form.

"From what I saw, they got along very well," he told Canal Sur Radio. "I got on wonderfully with Antoine and with Leo.

"I don't know what there is there. The two of them drink mate and spend a lot of time together in the dressing room.

"If they both start scoring goals, it won't be talked about any more. It's the demand of great teams.

"I'm not worried because they're two amazing guys. I wish them all the best."

Rakitic rejoined Sevilla during the transfer window after six seasons at Camp Nou, in which he won 13 major trophies, including four LaLiga titles, four Copas del Rey and one Champions League.

The 32-year-old has featured in all seven of Sevilla's league games in 2020-21 but still feels he needs time to readjust to his old surroundings.

"I'm going to be judged by what I do on the pitch. I need a little time. It's not the same as Barca; it's a different way of playing," he said.

"We're very competitive and you always want to play. I came here with great enthusiasm to give my very best. I have to rediscover my rhythm, understand my team-mates and have them understand me."

Josep Maria Bartomeu's ultimately unpopular tenure as Barcelona president has finally come to an end after the club's entire board resigned.

Barca won the treble in his first full season in charge in 2014-15, led by the thrilling front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.

But it seems unlikely Bartomeu's time as the top man at Camp Nou will be remembered for that success.

Barca subsequently suffered humiliation after humiliation in the Champions League, reaching a remarkable crescendo with August's 8-2 quarter-final demolition at the hands of eventual champions Bayern Munich.

However, it was Bartomeu's failings in the transfer market that helped put the Catalan giants in such a position.

While Neymar left and then Lionel Messi pushed for a move of his own, Barca recruited in disappointing if often spectacular fashion.

Not all of Bartomeu's signings were poor, but we look at the 10 permanent deals that defined his reign.

 

Marc-Andre ter Stegen – €12m from Borussia Monchengladbach

That stunning first season of on-field triumphs came after an excellent summer transfer window, although Ter Stegen was restricted to Champions League action initially as fellow new man Claudio Bravo started in LaLiga. Germany international Ter Stegen quickly proved his worth in the 2014-15 European campaign, keeping a joint-high six clean sheets courtesy of 31 saves, while trailing only Manuel Neuer for successful passes (245) and passing accuracy (80 per cent) among goalkeepers.

Ivan Rakitic – €18m from Sevilla

Another to join in the €165m spending spree of 2014, Rakitic only departed this year to return to Sevilla. The midfielder was a consistent performer throughout his time at Camp Nou, yet perhaps his best season was reserved for his first 12 months at Barca. He scored five times in LaLiga and laid on seven assists – the most in his Barca career – from 35 chances created.

Luis Suarez – €81m from Liverpool

The most important and surely best signing of Bartomeu's tenure followed in that same transfer window as Barca prised Suarez from Liverpool after their failed Premier League title bid in which he netted 31 times. That same scoring form continued in LaLiga, where Suarez struck up a great partnership and friendship with Messi. The Uruguay international left for Atletico Madrid prior to the 2020-21 campaign – a key factor in the ongoing Barca crisis – having scored 198 goals for the club, trailing only Messi and Cesar Rodriguez. Suarez scored a sensational 40 LaLiga goals in 2015-16, along with 16 assists and 23 tackles, typifying his work rate. All three were high marks for his Barca career.

Thomas Vermaelen – €18m from Arsenal

Along with Ter Stegen, Rakitic and Suarez, though, came a signing that would prove more in keeping with much of the rest of the work done under Bartomeu. Vermaelen cost a decent fee, was scarcely fit and rarely looked like troubling the starting XI when he was. He made just 26 LaLiga starts in five years at Barca.

Andre Gomes – €35m from Valencia

After making just two signings in 2015-16, Barca were busy in the market again the following campaign. A combination of form and fitness meant few if any of the 2016-17 signings could be considered successes, but Gomes was perhaps the worst. Signed for a fee that could have risen to €55m, he scored three goals and provided one assist in the league across two seasons before leaving for Everton.

Ousmane Dembele – €105m from Borussia Dortmund

Barca's dealings had been questionable even before they sold Neymar, but the money brought in for the Brazilian then appeared to burn a hole in the pocket of Bartomeu, who proceeded to spend it in a series of unsuccessful ways. Dembele seemed a reasonable enough replacement for Neymar but injuries disrupted his progress. He has supplied just 12 goals and 11 assists in the league since signing, although he remains at Camp Nou.

Philippe Coutinho – €120m from Liverpool

Barca tried for Coutinho when Neymar first left and returned for the Liverpool star again in January. Yet the Blaugrana did not appear to have a role made for the playmaker, sticking to a 4-3-3 formation that forced him out wide or deep in the midfield. Another still at Barca, a reasonable enough initial return of eight goals and five assists from 29 chances created in the remainder of his first season did not provide a platform for success. He spent last season on loan at Bayern and scored twice in the humbling of his parent club.

Malcom – €41m from Bordeaux

As Barca went big again in 2018-19, there appeared to be a third attempt at replacing Neymar. Malcom was just 21 and should have been one for the future but did not last long. A single season brought one goal and two assists before he left for Zenit.

Antoine Griezmann – €120m from Atletico Madrid

Project replace Neymar: part four. With attempts to bring the PSG number 10 himself back to Barca failing, a long-awaited move for Griezmann was instead completed. A World Cup winner who led the line for one of Barca's biggest domestic rivals, Griezmann certainly had the pedigree but has so far struggled to work with Messi in attack. The pair are yet to create a single chance for one another in LaLiga this season and have combined on just 23 passes.

Martin Braithwaite – €18m from Leganes

Braithwaite is evidently delighted to be at Barca, but perhaps that is the problem. It is a stunning indictment of Bartomeu's tenure that Ronald Koeman had to turn to the Denmark international in a bid to rescue last week's Clasico defeat. He now wears the number nine shirt that belonged to Suarez.

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."

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."

Ivan Rakitic insists Barcelona remain "the best option for all players" but admits he does not know whether Lionel Messi will leave the club.

Rakitic this week agreed a return to Sevilla from Barca for an initial fee of just €1.5million, signing a four-year deal with Julen Lopetegui's side.

His departure has been overshadowed by the news that Messi also wants to leave Camp Nou, having told the club as much last week.

His father and agent, Jorge Messi, was to meet with president Josep Maria Bartomeu on Wednesday to try to reach an agreement over an amicable exit.

Rakitic says it is down to each player to decide their future but suggested the six-time Ballon d'Or winner could in fact be better suited by staying.

"The first option and the best option for all players is always Barca," he told reporters. "Then, each player has to make their decision.

"For me, the first option would always be to be at Barca.

"Every player has to do his own analysis and I believed it was my moment. What Messi and other players are going to do, I don't know, you'd have to ask them.

"I've spoken with the board and we're all satisfied. And I'm convinced that everyone will make their own analysis and do the best for all parties.

"I respect the decision of every player and I've already said that these are decisions everyone has to make."

Messi informed the club he wanted to leave in the wake of Barca's humiliating 8-2 Champions League quarter-final defeat to Bayern Munich.

The Catalan giants ended 2019-20 without a major trophy, having endured a marked decline in standards since Rakitic's first season in 2014-15, when they won the treble under Luis Enrique.

However, Rakitic does not believe it is necessarily the end of an era of success at the club.

"I've not said anything about the end of a cycle, only that I always analyse everything and the situation has arrived to start thinking in another way," he said.

"It's not the end of an era. After six years, it wasn't easy for me to leave. I'm really grateful for every detail.

"I don't like to talk about the end of an era. I believe every player has to think about when the moment comes for them to leave, and that moment has come for me, nothing more."

Ivan Rakitic has rejoined Sevilla from Barcelona after six years at Camp Nou.

The Croatia midfielder has signed a four-year deal with Julen Lopetegui's side.

Barca will receive €1.5million up front for the player, with up to another €9m due in performance-related variables.

New Barca head coach Ronald Koeman is said to have made it clear to Rakitic, who made 42 appearances in all competitions last season, that he would not be in his plans for 2020-21.

Negotiations stepped up on Monday, with Rakitic undergoing a medical after a fee was agreed between the clubs.

Rakitic was a fan favourite at Sevilla and captained them to Europa League glory in 2013-14 before signing for Barcelona.

His first season at the club was a resounding success, the Catalans winning the treble under Luis Enrique, with Rakitic scoring the opening goal in the 3-1 Champions League final win over Juventus.

In total, Rakitic won 13 trophies with Barca, including four LaLiga titles and four Copas del Rey, and he was reportedly the subject of a €90m bid from Paris Saint-Germain in 2018.

However, his position in the first team has come under scrutiny over the past two seasons.

The 32-year-old became the target of criticism from a particular section of the fanbase as results and performances began to dip during the latter part of Ernesto Valverde's time in charge.

Rakitic always maintained he did not want to leave the club despite speculation Barca were keen to offload him, possibly in part-exchange offers for Neymar or Lautaro Martinez, and his frustrations boiled over in April when he told Mundo Deportivo: "I understand the situation but I am not a sack of potatoes to do whatever you want with."

Rakitic's wife Raquel Mauri and her family are from Andalusia and the player has previously admitted he would like to move back to the region and play for Sevilla once his time at Barca came to an end.

In December last year, he told El Desmarque: "If the time was right then we all know that I'd be delighted to pursue this as I've always stated that if I was to return to one of my previous clubs then it would be Sevilla.

"I'm really happy to see the team do so well and they seem to be getting better each year and that's something that greatly pleases me. My dream would be to wear the Sevilla shirt again at some point in the future."

Ivan Rakitic has rejoined Sevilla from Barcelona after six years at Camp Nou.

The Croatia midfielder has signed a four-year deal with Julen Lopetegui's side.

According to Sport, Barca will receive a maximum fee of €8m for the player depending, on whether Sevilla qualify for the Europa League or Champions League over the next two seasons.

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.

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.

 

ROUND-UP

- 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.

Lionel Messi reportedly has no plans to hang around at Barcelona, while Neymar could be targeted for a return.

Amid the chaos at the LaLiga giants, there is fresh speculation over Messi's future.

The superstar is contracted at Barca until 2021 – but perhaps he could make a move sooner.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI WANTS IMMEDIATE BARCELONA EXIT

Messi wants to leave Barcelona immediately, according to Esporte Interativo.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked to Premier League giants Manchester City and Serie A side Inter recently.

Contracted until next year, Messi was expected to re-sign at Barcelona, but their capitulation in the Champions League has led to chaos at the club.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Barcelona moving on from Quique Setien, where to next for the LaLiga giants? Sport reports Ronald Koeman and former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino are the main candidates, while AS says the Netherlands head coach is the frontrunner.

- Moves are also expected at Camp Nou. According to Sport, Barcelona are preparing a deal for Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar, ready to offer Antoine Griezmann and €60million to bring the Brazil international back to the club. AS says Barca are also prepared to sell Arthur, who is joining Juventus, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal, Martin Braithwaite, Junior Firpo, Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembele.

- Pochettino is reportedly an option for Barcelona, but the Argentinian may have options. The Sun reports City are eyeing Pochettino amid doubts over Pep Guardiola's future as manager.

- It looks like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is staying at Arsenal. The Telegraph reports Arsenal have agreed terms with the forward over a new deal.

- Chelsea are expected to sign at least one defender this close season. According to the Mirror, they are preparing a move for City defender John Stones – even if they land Brighton and Hove Albion's Lewis Dunk.

- Another Brighton and Hove Albion defender is apparently attracting interest. The Sun says Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Leicester City are interested in Ben White, who spent 2019-20 on loan at Leeds United.

For the Barcelona players and staff, there was nowhere to hide in the glare of the Estadio da Luz. 

An unprecedented, unmitigated, humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Friday laid bare the serious malfunctioning of one of the world's grandest clubs. 

President Josep Maria Bartomeu has already confirmed that "announcements will be made" next week, likely beginning with the future of coach Quique Setien, but Barca's problems run far deeper, from the boardroom to the dressing room. 

"Nobody is safe," said Gerard Pique after the match. "It is not the first time, the second time or the third time, it's very tough. I hope it is useful for something." 

The defender needs nobody to tell him that significant changes must be made at Camp Nou and he himself offered to leave for the good of the club. Ironically, such a public admission suggests he is the kind of character Barca need to keep. 

Who, then, are the people who should go if Barca are to become great again? 

THE BOARD

Josep Maria Bartomeu

The buck stops with the president. Bartomeu survived those infamous nights in Rome and Liverpool, but Lisbon must surely be the beginning of the end for a man who has presided over a wretched, expensive decline. Victor Font is presently the only rival candidate for the 2021 elections, if we get there.

Javier Bordas

Bordas is the director in charge of the football first team at Barca and, regardless of the presidency, it is only right that a new figurehead is put in place to oversee the rebuild.

THE EXECUTIVES

Eric Abidal

Barca's first-team technical secretary came under pressure after a public falling-out with Lionel Messi this year, and his job now looks untenable.  It's essential Barca appoint someone who can repair the damaged relations between the board and the players. Carles Puyol has been touted as a good candidate for the role, including by Messi. 

Oscar Grau

As CEO, Grau is the beating heart of Barcelona's operations and he cannot escape blame for the way the football project has been run in recent years. Speculation has seen Sevilla's Monchi linked with the role.

THE COACHES

Quique Setien

The problems ran deeper than Ernesto Valverde and sacking his successor will likewise not solve everything, but watching him lean against the Luz dugout, silent and stewing, made it abundantly clear that he cannot fix this team. Mauricio Pochettino is available and, despite past reservations, he seems willing to put aside his Espanyol loyalty.

Eder Sarabia

Setien's assistant would almost certainly follow him out of the door. Sarabia looks to have struggled to get the players to buy into the boss' demands and it would not make much sense to stay.

THE SQUAD

Martin Braithwaite

Barca were given special dispensation to sign Braithwaite from Leganes due to injury, while Leganes were denied the same option. They were relegated, Barca's season ended in infamy, and Braithwaite was not even eligible to play. West Ham are apparently interested.

Philippe Coutinho

Coutinho came off the bench to score twice and assist another for Bayern against Barca, the Catalans having loaned out their €140million-plus man after becoming unconvinced by his form. You'd struggle to imagine a more damning visual indictment of Barca's transfer policy.

The coronavirus pandemic has hampered spending across the continent, but any moderate fee for the Brazilian would help Barca to build for the future.

Rafinha

Rafinha has played eight league games in three years for Barca, spending most of that time on loan at Inter and Celta. Now 27, it's time they cash in. Everton and Wolves have been linked. 

Ivan Rakitic

Unfairly maligned by a section of the fanbase, Rakitic has probably reached the point where a move is in everyone's best interests. He has declined since helping Croatia to the 2018 World Cup final and, despite insisting he will stay, a return to Sevilla would ease the burden on the Barca wage bill and help to bring down the squad's average age.

Nelson Semedo

Right-back has been a problem position since Dani Alves left in 2015, and Semedo's performance against Bayern made it clear that he is not the long-term solution. Manchester City had been linked, although Pep Guardiola will surely have been put off by Friday's viewing.

Jean-Clair Todibo

He's only 20 and has played four times in LaLiga, but selling Todibo would be a simple way for Barca to raise desperately needed funds. Schalke, who signed him on loan in January, had a €25m purchase option.

Samuel Umtiti

Barca were terrified of losing the centre-back in the wake of Neymar's Paris Saint-Germain move, with Umtiti's release clause at just €60m. Since that buyout price was increased to €500m, Umtiti has been undermined by injuries, inconsistency and coaching changes at Camp Nou, but he could still command a decent fee.

Arturo Vidal

One of the few players who has impressed under Setien, Vidal is 33 and should not really be part of the Barca rebuild. His contract is up next year, so now is the time to sell to earn even a small fee.

Moussa Wague

Nice chose not to activate their purchase option on the full-back, but he remains a sellable asset for Barca, who are unlikely to use him in the first team next season.

Could Kasper Schmeichel follow in his father's footsteps?

Peter Schmeichel earned legendary status at Manchester United after winning five Premier League titles and the Champions League during his time at the club.

Now, Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper is being linked with a sensational move to the Theatre of Dreams.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED CONSIDER SCHMEICHEL MOVE

Manchester United are lining up a transfer swoop for Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel to replace David de Gea, according to The Sun.

De Gea's position at United has come under threat following a slump in form for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, despite being contracted until 2023.

There have been calls for Dean Henderson, who has spent time on loan at Sheffield United, to return Old Trafford, however, Kasper – the son of Red Devils legend Peter – is reportedly seen as the perfect ready-made option.

 

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Paris Saint-Germain are preparing a bid for Bayern Munich star Thiago Alcantara, says Le10Sport. Thiago has been tipped to join Premier League champions Liverpool, however, Ligue 1 holders PSG are believed to be in the mix for his signature.

- TF1 reports United have made contact with Monaco about a potential move for 19-year-old centre-back Benoit Badiashile, who has also been linked to Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen.

- According to Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona have ruled out a swap deal that would see Ivan Rakitic move to Juventus in exchange for Rodrigo Bentancur.

Milan have opened talks with Tottenham over the signing of right-back Serge Aurier, reports Sky Sport journalist Fabrizio Romano.

Juve are willing to offer Federico Bernardeschi and Cristian Romero to Serie A rivals Roma as part of a deal to sign Italian star Nicolo Zaniolo, claims SportMediaset. Zaniolo has also been linked to Madrid, Tottenham and former club Inter.

- Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga is willing to wait for a Madrid move until 2021-22, Marca claims. The 17-year-old has been heavily linked to the LaLiga champions as well as PSG.

For most of the year, Lautaro Martinez has been tipped to leave Inter for Barcelona.

Barca are eyeing a long-term replacement for veteran forward Luis Suarez, though, the coronavirus pandemic appears to have impacted their transfer plans.

However, a blockbuster move could still be on the cards.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA STILL WANT TO SIGN LAUTARO

Barcelona remain keen on signing Inter star Lautaro Martinez at the end of the season, according to the front page of Tuesday's Mundo Deportivo.

Barca's interest in Martinez is well documented but a transfer has been put on hold as the LaLiga giants re-assess their plans after the Argentina forward's €111million release clause expired at the start of the month.

However, Barca head coach Quique Setien is reportedly considering three options in his pursuit to recruit Martinez.

Ousmane Dembele could be sold to raise funds or a swap deal involving Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic and Samuel Umtiti could be proposed to Inter, while a player plus cash offer including Junior Firpo is the third alternative.

 

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- The Mirror says Chelsea are ready to swap goalkeepers. Unhappy with the world's most expensive keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, Chelsea are ready to use the Spaniard as a makeweight in a deal to sign Atletico Madrid star Jan Oblak.

Paris Saint-Germain are eyeing in-demand Salzburg sensation Dominik Szoboszlai, reports Tuttosport. The Hungary teenager has been heavily linked to Milan and Napoli, as well as Arsenal.

Ajax are hopeful of keeping star goalkeeper Andre Onana for one more season, claims De Telegraaf. Onana has been linked to the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Barca.

- Journalist Nicolo Schira reports Napoli are confident of reaching an agreement with Lille forward Victor Osimhen. The Nigerian has been tipped to join the Serie A side, who have prepared a five-year contract worth €3.5m per season amid talk of an €80m transfer.

- While Osimhen could arrive, Napoli are set to lose Arkadiusz Milik. Calciomercato claims Italian champions Juventus are interested, while the likes of Atletico, Tottenham and Roma are also keen. Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette is an alternative for Juve, as well as Atletico.

- According to Calciomercato, Edinson Cavani has turned down a move to David Beckham's Inter Miami in MLS. A free agent since leaving PSG, Cavani is reportedly wanted by Roma.

Everton and PSG both want to sign Napoli midfielder Allan, says Calciomercato. Napoli are looking to raise funds.

Manchester City will accelerate their rebuilding plans after having their Champions League ban overturned, claims the Telegraph. Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly – also linked to United, Liverpool and Real Madrid previously – is reportedly high on the list of targets, which includes Leicester City full-back Ben Chilwell, Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish and Atletico star Saul Niguez.

Paris Saint-Germain have reportedly agreed to let Neymar return to Barcelona, while Borussia Dortmund have set their asking price for Jadon Sancho.

Neymar, 28, has regularly been linked with a return to Camp Nou, and that could be getting a step closer.

But can the LaLiga giants make it happen?

 

TOP STORY – PSG AGREE TO LET NEYMAR RETURN TO BARCELONA

Neymar has reached an agreement with PSG to return to Barcelona ahead of next season, according to AS.

However, the report says Barcelona must still find the means to make it happen.

Neymar starred across four seasons at the LaLiga club before joining PSG in a world-record €222million move in 2017.

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- If Manchester United want Sancho, it seems they know what they need to pay. Ruhr Nachrichten reports Dortmund want £108.3m (€120m) for the star attacker and the deal must be completed before August 10.

- Amid links to Barcelona, Xavi signed a new contract with Al-Sadd until 2021. However, Mundo Deportivo says the club's former midfielder has a release clause in his new contract to be able to sign to take over at Camp Nou before his deal ends. Staying at Barcelona and the club have agreed to lower Ivan Rakitic's price, according to Sport, with the midfielder linked with a Sevilla return.

- Nemanja Matic has found form at Manchester United. According to Gianluca Di Marzio, the 31-year-old midfielder – whose contract was expiring next year – has signed a new deal with the Premier League club until 2023.

- While Hector Bellerin has a deal at Arsenal until 2023, his future is somewhat uncertain. The Daily Express reports Paris Saint-Germain are keeping tabs on the Spaniard.

- As they near promotion to the Premier League, Leeds United could be ready to strengthen. The Sun reports Leeds are prepared to sign Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard – who has been linked to Manchester United and Arsenal – if they return to the top flight.

- Valencia are searching for a new head coach after the sacking of Albert Celades. L'Equipe reports former PSG boss Laurent Blanc is on the LaLiga club's list of possible successors.

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