Xavi's rebuild at Barcelona has had to take place with tighter purse strings than you might usually expect.

The club that reportedly spent a combined €275million on Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho in the same season are now on the hunt for a new winger, and Raphinha seemingly fits the criteria.

Whether they can convince Leeds to sell for a price that suits all parties will apparently be made clear in the next few weeks.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA EYE RAPHINHA

Talks have commenced for Raphinha's potential move from Leeds United to Barcelona, per Nicolo Schira.

Raphinha's agent, former Barcelona and Chelsea star Deco, has been in contact with the Catalan giants since early March, but the Brazilian winger's €70m release clause has been a roadblock for the cash-strapped club.

The Blaugrana remain the preferred destination for the 25-year-old, who has tallied nine goals and three assists in 28 appearances for embattled Leeds.

It is reported Barcelona will try to come up with an acceptable package for the Premier League club in the coming weeks.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Manchester Evening News is reporting Paris Saint-Germain have made an offer to Manchester United's Paul Pogba, as he enters the final months of his contract.

– Tottenham and England striker Harry Kane would consider an offer from Manchester United before weighing up his long-term future, according to The Athletic.

Manchester City are hopeful of agreeing a new contract with 21-year-old England midfielder Phil Foden, per 90min.

– Despite interest from Liverpool and Manchester United, Ronald Araujo's agent has disclosed to ESPN that a new long-term deal with Barcelona is imminent.

Christian Eriksen has been in sparkling form since returning to action with Brentford following his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.

Inter allowed Eriksen to end his contract after the Denmark international was unable to play in Serie A after having a cardiac device implant fitted, allowing the Bees to sign him on a six-month deal.

Eriksen has since scored for both club and country, and his form has some familiar faces swirling.

 

TOP STORY – TOTTENHAM WANT ERISKEN REUNION

With his return to health, and some form, Tottenham want to bring Eriksen back to the club where he made a name for himself in England.

Eriksen departed from Ajax in 2013, and would spend seven seasons with Spurs, scoring 69 goals in 305 appearances, before signing with Antonio Conte's Inter in Serie A.

As luck would have it, Conte is now the man in charge at Tottenham, and The Daily Mail is reporting he would like to bring Eriksen back on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of this season.

Spurs will have some competition, though, as it is also reported that Manchester United will be seeking the Dane's services.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Liverpool Echo is reporting that Jurgen Klopp is "happy" with the fact that Mohamed Salah and "decisive parties" are talking to each other regarding a contract extension at Liverpool.

– If Salah was to leave the club, FourFourTwo is reporting that Liverpool will explore replacing him with Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe – while according to RMC Sport, a third "mystery team" has entered the race for Mbappe, with Real Madrid also circling.

– Real Madrid will be offering out Eden Hazard on loan for the 2022-23 season, according to AS.

– Union Berlin's Nigerian striker Taiwo Awoniyi will fetch a price of £25million if Newcastle, West Ham or Southampton want to prise him away, per Bild.

– The Daily Mirror is reporting that Newcastle could offer England midfielder Kalvin Phillips a contract worth £120,000 per week to lure him away from Leeds United.

Kylian Mbappe could help Real Madrid score "triple" the amount of goals if he were to join from Paris Saint-Germain, according to Los Blancos striker Karim Benzema.

France superstar Mbappe is nearing the end of his PSG contract and has been continually linked with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu, a transfer that would see him link up with Les Bleus team-mate Benzema.

Mbappe has 28 goals and 20 assists from 38 appearances across all competitions this season, while Benzema is top of LaLiga's goalscoring charts with 24.

Speaking with L'Equipe, Benzema said he is excited by the prospect of playing alongside Mbappe at Madrid.

"I like to play with [Mbappe] in the national team, and I would like to play with him in the club," he said.

"I think [Madrid] would score twice as many goals – or maybe even triple."

Benzema also discussed his goals with the national team after returning from a six-year exile last year.

"[Playing for France] is a pride for me, and I am happy," he said.

"There is a good adaptation, the level is very high, and that is what I like the most. Now I want to win a trophy with the France team."

Benzema missed Real Madrid's 4-0 El Clasico humbling at the hands of Barcelona and said it was not just the margin of victory that was concerning but the manner in which it took place.

"El Clasico, from the stands, I had a bad time," he said. "We were on a good run, and we had everything [in place] to continue.

"In fact, you can lose a match 4-0, don't worry. But not like that. 

"We didn't show anything, we didn't try, we didn't show who we were. We let them play."

Real Madrid will be back in action on Wednesday in Champions League quarter-final action at Stamford Bridge, with Benzema saying: "Chelsea are a great team, and we will try to get a good result in London."

Kylian Mbappe insisted there is no agreement to take him to Real Madrid after his majestic performance drove Paris Saint-Germain to a 5-1 victory over Lorient on Sunday.

The France international scored twice and assisted the other three PSG goals, with Neymar getting two and Lionel Messi the other, as Mauricio Pochettino's side maintained their 12-point lead at the Ligue 1 summit.

Uncertainty remains over where Mbappe will play next season, with Madrid leading the charge for the signature of the forward whose contract expires at the end of the current campaign.

Mbappe reiterated in the aftermath of the win against Lorient that a decision has yet to be taken, perhaps raising the possibility he could stay in Paris.

"No, no, no, I did not make my choice, everyone knows that I did not make my choice, I did not make my decision," he told Prime Video.

"I think because there are new elements, there are lots of things, lots of parameters and I don't want to be wrong, I want to make the right choice.

"I know that for the people, it's a little late, we talk about it every day. If I had made my decision I would say it, I don't have to report to anyone. It's a personal choice, if I made my decision, I come, I say it and I assume it.

"I think that, in the good things and the bad things that I have done, I have always assumed, I don't have to hide myself, I haven't killed anybody. It's just a choice, so I take my time and I want to make the best decision possible."

Neymar and Messi –,the latter ending a run of seven games without a goal – joined Mbappe on the scoresheet in the same game for the first time.

Brazilian star Neymar was delighted with the evening's work, with PSG showing positive signs after being jolted by last month's Champions League exit at the hands of Real Madrid.

"I'm happy with the victory," Neymar told Prime Video. "We knew this championship was difficult. We have to keep winning and show that we want this 10th title.

"Losing is very difficult. What happened against Madrid, that gave us a lot of harm. We must continue to move forward. We wanted to go to the end of the Champions League, but unfortunately we were eliminated. It's difficult for the public to accept defeat, but for us too it was hard."

Kylian Mbappe and Neymar both scored twice and Lionel Messi ended a barren spell as Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain crushed Lorient 5-1 on Sunday.

Mauricio Pochettino's side were overwhelmed in a 3-0 loss to Monaco before the international break, but they were soon ahead at the Parc des Princes when Neymar scored after 12 minutes.

Mbappe added a second 16 minutes later, and although Terem Moffi pulled one back after the interval, PSG's star France forward restored his side's two-goal advantage with 23 minutes remaining.

Messi halted his seven-game scoring drought before Neymar collected his second of the night, with Mbappe playing a part in all five of the hosts' goals as PSG maintained their 12-point lead over second-placed Marseille.

 

Danilo Pereira headed over from Neymar's corner in the opening exchanges, and PSG took the lead shortly after.

Intricate play between Messi and Mbappe allowed the latter to find Neymar to apply the finish into the bottom-left corner.

Messi volleyed an ambitious first-time effort over, before Mbappe brilliantly wrong-footed the unsighted Matthieu Dreyer after Idrissa Gueye's offload to double PSG's lead.

Enzo Le Fee curled narrowly wide after the break as Christophe Pelissier's visitors appeared reinvigorated, and their reward arrived when Moffi poked a wayward Achraf Hakimi pass past Gianluigi Donnarumma.

But Mbappe curtailed Lorient's hopes of a comeback when he expertly drilled into the bottom-left corner from outside the area following Hakimi's offload.

Mbappe turned creator six minutes later when he cut the ball back for Messi from the byline, and the Argentina star finished off the underside of the crossbar..

Neymar grabbed his second in the closing stages as Mbappe fed the Brazil international, who slotted past Dreyer to cap a fine victory.

Fabien Barthez does not believe Paris Saint-Germain are getting the best out of their team by alternating between goalkeepers Gianluigi Donnarumma and Keylor Navas.

Donnarumma signed for PSG in the off-season, as one of four remarkable free signings alongside Lionel Messi, Georginio Wijnaldum and Sergio Ramos.

It is fair to say that none of those additions have been rip-roaring successes. Messi has failed to replicate his Barcelona form and scored only seven times across all competitions, albeit that does make him PSG's second-highest goalscorer so far this season, behind Kylian Mbappe (26).

While Messi has at least provided 10 assists, Wijnaldum has only directly contributed to six goals in all competitions (three goals, three assists), creating just 11 chances for his team-mates. Due to persistent injury concerns, Ramos has made just five appearances in total, playing 284 minutes.

Donnarumma, meanwhile, has had to vie with Navas for a place as PSG's first-choice goalkeeper.

The Euro 2020-winning shot-stopper did not make his Ligue 1 debut until September 11, and has started on just 12 occasions in France's top flight, having been a substitute in another 12 league games.

Two further appearances have come for Donnarumma in the Coupe de France, but the latter game saw PSG eliminated on penalties by Nice. The 23-year-old has played in five Champions League matches, but was culpable for Karim Benzema's first goal on March 9 as Mauricio Pochettino's team capitulated against Real Madrid in the last 16.

In the opinion of Barthez, who played a pivotal role in France's 1998 World Cup triumph, having two top-quality goalkeepers at the club is actually backfiring on PSG.

"I respect coaches a lot, I respect Pochettino a lot and I know how difficult this job is, but putting two goalkeepers of this level in competition [with each other] does not serve the team," he told L'Equipe.

"What message are you sending to your goalkeepers? What psychological dispositions do you place them in? Who do you really trust for big games? What do outfield players say to each other?

"You instil doubt in everyone and then, it's the competition that makes you progress, not the training. A guy like Donnarumma - or Navas for that matter - he has to play. What happened [against Madrid] is the consequence of all that."

Donnarumma has made 61 saves, 10 fewer than Navas' 71, across 19 games in all competitions, although the Italy international has registered a better save percentage compared to his Costa Rican counterpart (78.2 in contrast to 76.9).

When taking goals prevented into account, based on Opta's expected goals on target conceded (xGOT) model, Donnarumma also has a clear edge, having prevented a total of 4.8 goals in comparison to Navas' figure of 2.8.

Essentially, Donnarumma's saves have prevented a further two goals than those of Navas, and Barthez has backed the former Milan goalkeeper to improve.

However, he believes Donnarumma "lacked humility" when he made the mistake that allowed Benzema to kick-start a comeback that dashed PSG's Champions League hopes at the Bernabeu.

"I adore him, I have observed his performances for a long time. But on this one, he also lacked humility," Barthez added. 

"But, in a way, what happened to him makes sense. He wins the Euro, he is full of confidence, he arrives in Paris and we put him in competition with Navas."

Dusan Vlahovic joins Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland as "the best players of their generation", according to Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Allegri signed Serbia international Vlahovic from Fiorentina in January in a transfer initially worth €70million, and the striker has managed four goals in his first seven Serie A games for his new club.

The former Viola star also netted 33 times in the league in 2021, matching Cristiano Ronaldo's record for the most scored in the Italian top flight during a calendar year.

Indeed, his 21-goal league haul last season was the highest recorded by a Fiorentina player in a single campaign since Alberto Gilardino in 2008-09 (25), and he has carried that form into the new campaign as well.

Vlahovic has registered 21 goals across appearances for Juve and Fiorentina in Serie A this season, making him the league's joint-top scorer – level with Ciro Immobile – while only Robert Lewandowski (31) and Karim Benzema (22) have scored more in Europe's top-five leagues.

Haaland, who has been limited by injuries at Borussia Dortmund, is ninth in the same list with 16 Bundesliga goals, striking once every 81 minutes on average, while Paris Saint-Germain's Mbappe is 11th with 15 to his name in the French top flight.

Allegri hailed the youthful trio as he expressed his excitement to see Vlahovic develop more.

"He is a young player with not much international experience. But he has quality. He wants and can improve. He has time to do it," Allegri said of Vlahovic in an interview with GQ, as quoted by CalcioMercato.

"He is ruthless in front of the goal and Juventus made an important signing. He, Mbappe and Haaland are the best players of their generation."

While there were expectations that Vlahovic's arrival may knock Alvaro Morata down the pecking order of Juve strikers, Allegri reiterated that the Spain international remains integral to his plans in Turin.

"I called him that night [when Juve signed Vlahovic] to tell him: 'You are going nowhere, with him, you will become even more important,' and that's what happened," Allegri added on Morata.

"It's crazy to question Morata. He can't be at his best if he is asked to do things that he can't. But he's always been available playing in a position which is not exactly the best one for him."

Allegri will be hoping for Morata and Vlahovic to link-up once more when Juve, who are fourth in Serie A and seven points adrift of leaders Milan, host Inter on Sunday.

Barcelona star Sergio Busquets would hand the captain's armband back to Lionel Messi if the forward returned to Camp Nou.

Argentina skipper Messi left the Blaugrana in a sensational free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain last August, with a financially crippled Barca unable to fulfil the terms of a new contract that had been all but agreed.

The 34-year-old is yet to hit the lofty heights in Ligue 1 that he reached for much of his astounding career, scoring just seven goals across all competitions for Mauricio Pochettino's side.

There has been speculation that the Blaugrana legend could leave PSG – who may also lose Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid – at the end of the season, and Barca head coach Xavi suggested the door will always be open for Messi's return.

Former team-mate Busquets echoed Xavi's sentiments as he expressed his desire for the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner to come back to Spain.

 

"Of course I miss him. On the field and off it," Busquets said of Messi in an interview with Spanish radio station RAC1. "Nobody else has given us what he gave us. He made a huge difference.

"After so many years, it's normal to miss him. I'm sure he will miss me too."

He added: "At first it was difficult [when Messi left]. It was a shock for us too. We are still here, but imagine it for him; changing city, changing team, changing style.

"When you don't win, you're not happy. I wish him the best. I would like Leo to come back, but I know it's very difficult. He has a contract with another team and it's complicated because of how he left us.

"If Xavi told him that the doors are open, imagine me as his friend and team-mate. I would give him the armband. He always has my admiration and respect."

Kylian Mbappe has been tipped by Ronaldinho to stay at Paris Saint-Germain beyond this season and continue his partnership with Lionel Messi and Neymar.

France international Mbappe is into the final three months of his PSG contract and is a target for Real Madrid, while Barcelona have also been linked. 

Speaking earlier this month, PSG sporting director Leonardo vowed to "try everything" to persuade the 23-year-old to agree fresh terms at the Parc des Princes.

Mbappe has scored 26 goals for the Ligue 1 leaders this term, which is 19 more than the next-best Messi, who joined in a sensational move from Barcelona last August.

Neymar has netted just five times in all competitions, meanwhile, in what has been an underwhelming campaign for both the Brazil international and indeed PSG.

While 2021-22 has not gone to plan for the Parisians, who exited the Champions League and Coupe de France at the last-16 stage, Ronaldinho hopes their front three stay.

Asked if he believes Mbappe can be convinced to sign a new contract, Ronaldinho is quoted by Spanish outlet AS as saying: "Yes, I think he will stay.

"But hey, with football, a lot of things can happen quickly. But the three of them together can do something beautiful.

"I will not offer my advice to anyone. I just want to see all my friends happy, wherever they are. If all three stay, it would be fantastic for anyone who loves football.

"The three best players in the world together is what all football lovers want to see."

Mbappe is averaging 0.76 goals per 90 minutes this season, compared to 0.29 for Messi, who has endured a stop-start campaign in his first season away from Barcelona. 

The Argentina star has 10 assists but only two goals to his name in Ligue 1 – not since 2005-06, in his early days at Camp Nou, has he failed to register at least double figures.

 

PSG fans made their frustration known when they jeered Messi and Neymar during their recent 3-0 win over Bordeaux, four days on from the club's Champions League exit.

Ronaldinho, who played alongside Messi at Barcelona following a two-season spell of his own in Paris, was shocked by the reaction his former team-mate received.

"I didn't understand that," he said. "If you whistle Messi, there is nothing left. If you whistle the best in the world, who are you going to applaud? I don't get it.

"This is not a Messi or Neymar problem. The fans were not happy about exiting the Champions League. 

"They are the two biggest names at PSG so it's normal the jeers were stronger against them. But I think the fans are unhappy with all the players, not just those two.

"This is football and normality will return. I hope now that Neymar doesn't get injured because every year he wins something, either with the national team or with PSG.

"I hope that with Messi's adaption that the three of them can write a great story."

Angel Di Maria should continue playing in Europe for another one or two seasons despite his uncertain future with Paris Saint-Germain.

That is the view of Di Maria's father Miguel as the winger reviews his career options.

Di Maria is expected to leave PSG when his contract expires at the end of the season.

The former Real Madrid and Manchester United player has only started four times in Ligue 1 since the start of 2022 and his importance to the team appears to be diminishing.

Di Maria has three goals and three assists from 20 league appearances this season, but his father Miguel believes he still has more to do in Europe and should remain there with the World Cup approaching.

"I would like him to play one or two more years in Europe and then come back [to Argentina]," Miguel said to Radio La Red. 

"He is just 34 years old and he still has a career [at the highest level]. 

"He takes great care of himself, so he has to continue playing [in Europe]." 

Di Maria has had a successful seven seasons with PSG since arriving from Old Trafford in 2015 after a disappointing campaign in the Premier League.

He is closing in on a fifth Ligue 1 title with Mauricio Pochettino's men, but is now deciding on his next move as he nears the end of the one-year contract extension he signed in 2021.

Di Maria has also been pondering his future at international level.

The veteran said after scoring once and creating another goal in the 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Venezuela at La Bombonera on Friday that he had likely played for Argentina on home soil for the last time.

He thanked supporters and confirmed he would consider retiring from Argentina duty after the World Cup in Qatar at the end of this year.

"We talked later [that night] – I was very happy and he was very proud," added Miguel.

"It's on his mind and it all depends on him.

"I wish he could continue but from what he said that was his last game in Argentina and then it's Qatar and it's over, he's not going to play for Argentina anymore." 

Miguel added that when the time comes to return home, Di Maria still plans to do so with boyhood club Rosario Central.

"His idea is to come to Central for what remains in his career and finish the race – that's it for now," he said.

"He has already said retiring with Central [is his goal]. Hopefully he can achieve it. That is what he is lacking so far because he left here very young and could not enjoy anything."

Joan Laporta would be keen to sign either Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappe – but only if they wanted to join Barcelona and presented more reasonable financial demands.

Both Haaland and Mbappe could be on the move at the end of this season, with Europe's biggest clubs positioning themselves to sign the best forwards of their generation.

Haaland is widely thought to have a €75million release clause at Borussia Dortmund, while Mbappe's Paris Saint-Germain contract will expire – even if the Ligue 1 giants are trying to agree a renewal.

The exciting pair therefore represent relatively cheap signings on the face of it, but both would require significant outlays in terms of wages and agents' fees.

For that reason, Barca president Laporta is struggling to see how either could arrive at Camp Nou.

"Haaland or Mbappe? If I had to choose, I would stick with what I have clearly stated," Laporta told RAC1. "The one who makes it clear they want to play for Barca, the one who wants to come here.

"For the time being, neither of the two has expressed that to me. If they don't feel like it, it will be difficult.

"What has been expressed to me is the conditions about these two deals. We would never accept to spend those figures, no way."

Barcelona's financial restrictions led to the release of Lionel Messi to PSG last year, with a move to bring the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner back also ruled out by Laporta.

Lionel Messi returning to Barcelona is not something that president Joan Laporta is considering. 

Laporta's comments on the situation came after Dani Alves and Pedri said they would love to see the Paris Saint-Germain forward back at Camp Nou. 

Messi, 34, left Barcelona after last season when the club's financial restrictions meant retaining arguably the best player in the world on a new contract was out of the question. 

Speaking on RAC 1, Laporta made it clear he was not in communication with the Argentina international at all. 

"Right now there is no fluid communication and I do not speak with him. There is no personal contact," he said. 

"He is in Paris, but I remember him with affection. I know what is said, but I don't talk to him. I hear comments from people close to me. 

"I have not received any message from Leo or from those around him about returning. The truth is that at the moment we are not considering it. 

"We are building a young team combined with people of some experience, making a good symbiosis that works again. 

"But Leo is Leo, the best player in the world. He deserves respect as a player and person. He is a winner, but it's not something we are planning." 

Reflecting on Messi's departure from the club, Laporta stated there was not much he could do. 

"For me, it sure wasn't easy, but as it happened, I thought the club had to come first – I couldn't put [Barcelona] at more risk," he said. 

"I think we did what we had to do." 

Cesc Fabregas has urged Paris Saint-Germain supporters to get behind a struggling Lionel Messi, rather than criticising his former team-mate.

The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner swapped Barcelona for Paris last August, ending his 21-year association with the Blaugrana.

Messi departed the Camp Nou as Barca's all-time leading appearance maker and goalscorer, having netted 672 times across 778 games in all competitions.

However, the Argentina captain has been unable to replicate that form in Ligue 1, scoring just twice in 18 appearances so far.

Mauricio Pochettino's side are well on course to regain their Ligue 1 crown, as they lead second-placed Marseille by 12 points with nine matches remaining.

But following their Champions League last-16 exit at the hands of Real Madrid, the likes of Messi and Neymar were jeered during PSG's next league game against Bordeaux at Parc des Princes.

Fabregas played alongside Messi at Barcelona between 2011 and 2014, winning the LaLiga title in 2012-13.

The Monaco midfielder understands the frustration of the PSG faithful, but feels the criticism of his ex-colleague is unjustified. 

 

He told Marca: "Leo's case is very simple. For me, he has been the best ever that I have seen and played with. What I have seen from him has been exceptional.

"I know what happened with PSG. The fans want to create a moment of tension with the players.

"During the match, they support you; when they sing your name, perfect. But what I saw the other day – jeering when Neymar lost the ball or whistling when they touched the ball – is very ugly.

"They justify that they get paid a lot. They lost against Real Madrid – that's fine – but didn't they want to win? That's what comes first.

"With PSG, they haven't won anything yet, for the moment, but they will surely win the league.

"You're talking about a player [Messi] who has just arrived. PSG have never had a player like this in their lives.

"It's better to be grateful, to support him and not crush him. This year or next, these guys will bring you great moments."

Julian Draxler implied he will likely leave Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season due to a lack of minutes.

Draxler played all 90 minutes in Germany's 2-0 friendly win against Israel on Saturday, with Chelsea duo Kai Havertz and Timo Werner contributing the two goals.

He arrived at Paris Saint-Germain from Wolfsburg in 2017, racking up 131 appearances and 17 goals for the French giants, but his playing time has plummeted this season.

Draxler has been brought on as a substitute in his past six appearances for PSG dating back to February 19, playing no more than 25 minutes in any of the short cameos.

Speaking with SPORT1, Draxler highlighted his joy in having an extended run, and the struggles that come with being out of favour back at his club.

"I'm glad that I played 90 minutes again after a long time," he said.

"My situation in the club is not easy – I lack the rhythm and I need to play more games.

"I haven't spoken to the national coach about it, but he has already told us as a team that he needs fit players who are in rhythm. You'll see what happens in the summer."

Marco Verratti and Jorginho were among a group of six players to leave the Italy camp after their failure to qualify for the World Cup. 

Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne, Domenico Berardi and Gianluca Mancini also returned to their clubs ahead of schedule, with the latter two having sustained knocks. 

Italy coach Roberto Mancini is expected to ring the changes in a friendly against Turkey on Tuesday following the Azzurri's shock defeat to North Macedonia in a World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final on Thursday. 

The Euro 2020 champions' first ever home loss in World Cup qualifying meant they failed to reach successive finals for the first time in their history. 

Instead of taking on Portugal in the play-off final, Italy will depart for Konya on Monday. 

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