Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are still eyeing Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

Unsurprisingly, Messi's future remains a talking point with his contract with the LaLiga giants expiring at the end of the season.

And the two clubs most strongly linked with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner remain interested.

 

TOP STORY – PSG, MAN CITY STILL EYEING MESSI

Paris Saint-Germain are quietly continuing their push to sign Barcelona star Lionel   Messi , according to France Football.

The Ligue 1 giants have angered Barca boss Ronald Koeman as those connected with PSG have regularly discussed Messi.

ESPN says Manchester City are also still tracking Messi, but will wait until March or April before making more of a move.

ROUND-UP

- Out of contract at Real Madrid in 2022, Raphael Varane 's future is unclear. Marca reports the LaLiga giants suspect the defender will not renew and they could sell him for €50million at the end of this season as a result, with PSG and Manchester United interested.

- Madrid are favourites to land Bayern Munich star David Alaba . The Telegraph reports Alaba's wage demands, believed to be around £20m per year, are too high for Chelsea . Alaba is set to leave the Bundesliga giants when his contract expires at the end of the season.

- United 's sights may be elsewhere. The Independent claims RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate is their main centre-back target ahead of 2021-22. Konate has also been linked to Liverpool and Chelsea .

- Arsenal want a young left-back to learn from Kieran Tierney, according to The Athletic.

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti said he is excited about the prospect of playing alongside Lionel Messi at the Ligue 1 champions.

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

As Messi's future dominates headlines, PSG star Verratti discussed his possible arrival in Paris.

"Of course, I would like to play with Messi," Italy international Verratti told Canal+.

"To have him in the squad would be something magnificent, one more thing that football would give to me.

"I would give the ball to Neymar and Messi and stay behind to just [enjoy] watching them a bit."

PSG and Barcelona will meet in the Champions League last 16, with the first leg taking place at Camp Nou on February 16.

It will be a reunion for former Barca star Neymar, who has scored six goals in 11 Ligue 1 matches this season.

Neymar - who left Barca in a world-record €222million deal in 2017 - has scored 13 goals across all competitions.

"We are not stupid, we know that he is the best player and our role is to put him in the best possible condition," Verratti said. 

"He knows that when I have the ball, I'm looking for him. He always makes movements to receive the ball well."

Mauricio Pochettino's PSG are third in Ligue 1 after 24 rounds, three points adrift of leaders Lille following Sunday's 2-0 Classique victory against Marseille.

PSG face Caen in the Coupe de France on Wednesday before welcoming Nice to the French capital in Ligue 1 action on Saturday.

Mauricio Pochettino could not pretend Sunday's Classique victory bore any resemblance to the matches he played in with Paris Saint-Germain due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Head coach Pochettino took PSG to Marseille for the first time since his return to the club.

It was a triumphant outing for the former Tottenham manager, who oversaw a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi.

Mbappe said afterwards the fixture had "regained importance" this season, with Marseille having won at PSG early in the season in a game that saw five red cards.

There was only a single dismissal this time – Dimitri Payet sent off late on – but Icardi described the success as "revenge".

For Pochettino, though, who was not involved in the reverse fixture, a big derby merely made him pine for the return of crowds, still missing in Ligue 1 due to COVID-19.

Asked if the mammoth clash was as he remembered as a player, Pochettino replied: "No. I can't find much of the past.

"How beautiful football was before the COVID. It's missing.

"When we look elsewhere, in other championships, we see upsets in the table, surprise results. Some players will suffer, too.

"A club like Paris needs the supporters to sublimate itself and we miss having supporters in the stadium."

Pochettino's pre-match concerns were focused on Neymar's illness, which kept him from training ahead of the match and limited him to a bench role.

Afterwards, Angel Di Maria was the worry, having suffered an injury in assisting Mbappe's opener.

First, Pochettino defended Neymar's involvement despite his ill health, explaining: "I will respond with great respect. If the club communicated that he was sick, it was in total transparency.

"He had been vomiting. He was really sick. He only played 30 minutes because we thought it was better that way. There was really a desire for transparency on the part of the club."

Then, on Di Maria, the coach was hopeful of positive news.

"The medical department will be giving Angel some tests," he said. "For now, the staff are confident enough to say that it is not too serious but we must wait for the exams to know the exact severity of the injury."

Kylian Mbappe has welcomed Neymar's increasingly positive comments on his Paris Saint-Germain future, saying his team-mate deserves to enjoy a historic career in France.

Neymar, who has repeatedly been linked with a move away from PSG since joining the Ligue 1 giants in 2017, last month appeared to give a firm indication he will remain in Paris.

The Brazil superstar told TF1: "I want to stay at PSG and I hope Kylian stays too."

Neymar is reportedly close to agreeing a new four-year contract with the club and played a role in Sunday's 2-0 win over Classique rivals Marseille despite this week suffering with illness.

Keeping Neymar and Mbappe on board would represent a huge boost to PSG in their long-term bid to win the Champions League, having reached the final under Thomas Tuchel last season.

And Mbappe was upbeat as he told Canal+ of his thoughts on Neymar's commitment.

"This is great news. Everyone knows how important he is," the World Cup winner said. "I hope he can write history for Paris for a long time to come. He and the club deserve it."

Mbappe was speaking after netting the opener in the win at Marseille, a ninth-minute effort his only attempt but a vital strike.

No PSG player has made more appearances (26) or scored more goals (18) in all competitions than Mbappe this season, while he trails only Angel Di Maria – an injury worry against OM – in regards to Ligue 1 assists after the Argentine midfielder teed up his latest finish.

Mauro Icardi, now with five league goals in 11 games, added the second from one of his four efforts as PSG stayed within three points of Ligue 1 leaders Lille.

That is still only enough for third place, meaning Mbappe and Co cannot yet allow a Champions League meeting with Neymar's former side Barcelona to become a distraction.

"Unfortunately, we lost points all over the place, so we have to focus on each Ligue 1 game," Mbappe said.

"In previous years, we could have concentrated on the Champions League, but we are behind in Ligue 1. We have to play with intensity to make sure we are not surprised."

There was certainly no shortage of intensity at the Stade Velodrome, even if the one red card – for Dimitri Payet – appeared meek in contrast to the five in the reverse fixture.

PSG lost 1-0 at home and so were determined to respond, Icardi describing a desire for "revenge".

Mbappe added to Telefoot: "Personally, I think [the Classique] has changed a lot. When I arrived, it was not like this, not the same types of matches. It was not the same importance.

"But this year there is a boost and it has regained importance, both for us, the players, and the new staff.

"All week, we prepared like a Champions League match, a big match, a match apart. The team's mentality has changed."

That mentality delivered a 45th PSG victory in 100 Classiques, as Marseille trail on 33 wins against their bitter rivals.

Neymar climbed off his sick bed to help Paris Saint-Germain see out a 2-0 win at Marseille in the 100th Classique on Sunday.

Superstar forward Neymar was sent off in the reverse fixture and started from the bench after missing training this week with gastroenteritis, while Angel Di Maria departed early through injury at the Stade Velodrome, but Marseille could not capitalise.

First-half goals from Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi instead secured a commanding position against Ligue 1's crisis club, whose troubles are best illustrated by coach Andre Villas-Boas' suspension after offering his resignation.

It meant Neymar could be introduced with little risk of a repeat of the home defeat early in the season and the world's most expensive footballer duly provided a spark that pegged OM back – their frustration evident as Dimitri Payet was sent off – to secure victory and keep PSG within three points of leaders Lille.

Neymar's absence was not felt in a trademark PSG counter-attack after nine minutes when Mbappe skipped beyond Hiroki Sakai's desperate lunge and slid a cool finish under Steve Mandanda.

Di Maria appeared to hurt himself in finding Mbappe and was promptly replaced, although Neymar remained among the substitutes and some slack play at the back ensured a fizzing Pape Gueye drive had to be tipped over.

PSG were ruthless at the other end and Icardi's cute header earned a helpful touch from Alvaro Gonzalez as it looped over the static Mandanda, who might have conceded a third time before the break as Leandro Paredes thundered in an effort that kissed the outside of the post.

Marseille were better after the break and Boubacar Kamara's shot squirmed away from Sergio Rico and wide, but further chances were few and far between.

Neymar was belatedly introduced 25 minutes from time and should have immediately won a penalty, with Alvaro granted a fortunate escape following his clumsy challenge inside the area.

Marseille spent the remaining minutes on the back foot as Neymar found his groove, missing only a finish as he sought the third, before Payet's high boot on Marco Verratti was punished with a late red card.

 

What does it mean? No drama and PSG stay in the hunt

There were five red cards – three for PSG – when the sides met at the Parc des Princes in September in a game that contributed to the chaos of the champions' season to date, going some way to explain their underwhelming league position.

Although there was bite in Sunday's encounter, too, as the two teams shared 24 fouls and Payet was dismissed, the early Mbappe goal made sure there was no unnecessary drama this time, keeping the pressure on Lille and Lyon.

Mauro makes his mark

Only three times in the league this season have PSG started with Neymar, Mbappe, Di Maria and Icardi all in the XI as Thomas Tuchel and Mauricio Pochettino have each struggled to fit the attacking quartet into the same line-up – while also dealing with illness, injuries and suspensions.

Icardi has been restricted to just seven starts, but he showed here what he is all about. Along with a fifth goal of the campaign from his only attempt, the striker used his physicality at both ends of the field, winning his four aerial duels and making three clearances before making way for Neymar.

Alvaro out of his depth

The subject of some scrutiny following a clash with Neymar in Paris, Alvaro was at the centre of the action again in the return fixture and did not fare well.

The centre-back struggled to contain Icardi and got a touch as the second goal deceived Mandanda, before he somehow avoided a penalty for tripping Neymar, then hobbled off having succeeded in only a single duel and failed to make a tackle.

What's next?

PSG's title tilt goes on hold this week as they go to Caen on Wednesday in the Coupe de France, the same competition in which Marseille will visit Auxerre hours earlier.

Will he leave Paris Saint-Germain or not?

That is the question regarding French star Kylian Mbappe.

Real Madrid are keen, but they are reportedly prepared to wait.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID WAITING FOR MBAPPE

Real Madrid have decided to wait to sign Kylian Mbappe until Paris Saint-Germain put the French star up for sale, according to Marca.

LaLiga champions Madrid have been tipped to sign Mbappe, who has also been linked with Premier League holders Liverpool.

PSG are trying to re-sign Mbappe as his contract runs out in 2022, and if they are unsuccessful amid their pursuit of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, Madrid are ready to pounce.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca says Sergio Ramos' knee injury could spell the end of his illustrious career with Madrid. Ramos is out of contract at season's end and the star captain has been linked to the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, PSG, Chelsea and Juventus.

Liverpool are interested in Leeds United winger Raphinha, reports Football Insider. The Brazilian only moved to Elland Road at the start of the season.

- Gazzetta dello Sport claims Juventus are hoping to sign Roma sensation Nicolo Zaniolo.

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar is a doubt for Sunday's Ligue 1 match with Marseille after missing training through illness.

The Brazil international sat out Saturday's session due to gastroenteritis and his condition will be assessed later, PSG said in a statement.

Teenage defender Timothee Pembele will be unavailable after returning a positive coronavirus test, with the 18-year-old now self-isolating.

The champions will also be without Keylor Navas and Ander Herrera for Sunday's Classique, with neither player fully fit.

Colin Dagba (thigh) and Juan Bernat (knee) are still out, while Abdou Diallo remains sidelined due to coronavirus protocols after testing positive a week ago.

PSG, who are three points behind league leaders Lille after 23 games, are still favourites for Sunday's game against struggling Marseille.

OM suspended coach Andre Villas-Boas this week after he offered his resignation in protest against the club's "sporting direction", with Olivier Ntcham signed from Celtic without his consent.

Marseille, who are ninth, have won just once in their previous 10 matches in all competitions and lost 2-1 to PSG in the Trophee des Champions match on January 13.

This will be the 100th competitive meeting between the teams, with PSG leading the head-to-head record with 44 wins to 33, 18 of which have come since Qatar Sports Investment took over at Parc des Princes in 2011.

However, Marseille won the reverse game this season 1-0 in September and the potential loss of Neymar could be key, the 29-year-old having scored 11 goals in his previous nine games in all competitions.

Chelsea are not giving up in their pursuit of Bayern Munich star David Alaba.

Alaba, 28, is linked with numerous European giants, with Real Madrid reportedly leading the race to sign the defender.

But it seems Chelsea are unwilling to give up.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA STILL EYEING MADRID TARGET ALABA

Chelsea will attempt to hijack Real Madrid's move for Bayern Munich defender Alaba, according to The Guardian.

It was reported Alaba, who is out of contract at the end of the season, had agreed to a four-year deal with Madrid.

Chelsea have been linked with numerous centre-backs.

Goal reports the Premier League club's signing plans are linked to Bayern Munich's transfer plans as the Bundesliga giants are favourites to sign RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano.

Upamecano and Niklas Sule, another Bayern defender, are also said to be targets for Chelsea.

 

ROUND-UP

- Can Manchester City land Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland? The Daily Star reports City bosses believe winning the Premier League will help them beat Chelsea to Haaland in a £100million (€114m) deal.

- Tottenham have won just two of their past 10 Premier League matches, leading to talk about Jose Mourinho's future. The Telegraph reports the Spurs head coach is under pressure but not in imminent danger of being sacked.

- Manchester United are targeting a deal for Norwich City right-back Max Aarons as they seek competition for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, according to the Daily Express.

- Following Andre Villas-Boas' exit, Marseille are looking for a new coach. Le 10 Sport reports Atletico Mineiro boss Jorge Sampaoli is the favourite to take charge of the Ligue 1 club.

Is Erling Haaland's future becoming clearer?

Haaland's exploits for Borussia Dortmund have attracted interest from far and wide.

But Manchester City appear to be the frontrunners for his signature…

 

TOP STORY – CITY LINING UP BIG HAALAND BID

Manchester City are confident of landing Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland in a £100million (€114m) deal, according to the front page of Friday's Mirror.

Haaland is one of the most sought-after players in Europe, having been linked with the likes of Real Madrid, Liverpool, Barcelona, Manchester United and Juventus.

But City believe winning this season's Premier League will help them sign Haaland at the end of the campaign.

 

ROUND-UP

- Goal claims Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi will wait until season's end before deciding his future. Messi has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain and City on a free transfer.

Sergio Aguero is tempted by a move to Barca if Messi remains at Camp Nou, reports Cadena Ser. Like Messi, City forward Aguero is out of contract at the end of the 2020-21.

- Defensa Central says Chelsea are interested in re-signing Eden Hazard, but at a huge discount. Hazard has struggled for form and fitness since leaving Chelsea for Madrid in a big-money move in 2019.

Milan will miss out on signing Ajax teenager Brian Brobbey as he is set to join RB Leipzig, according to Calciomercato and widespread reports in Italy. But Milan are close to signing Marseille's soon-to-be free agent Florian Thauvin.

- Calciomercato claims Madrid have put veteran full-back Marcelo up for sale amid links to Juventus.

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi will retire wherever he wants amid doubts over his future, according to former team-mate Luis Suarez.

Messi is out of contract at the end of the current campaign and the record six-time Ballon d'Or winner appears likely to leave on a free transfer amid strong links to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Premier League giants Manchester City.

The 33-year-old attacker had tried to exit Camp Nou prior to the start of 2020-21 before opting to remain with the embattled LaLiga powerhouse.

Suarez won four LaLiga titles and the Champions League among other honours during his time together with Messi before joining Atletico Madrid in the off-season and he hailed the superstar.

"This afternoon I spoke with him, he was very happy about yesterday's victory [over Granada]," Suarez told El Transistor.

"He is [playing] at a spectacular level, he is the best in the world.

"Messi will retire wherever he wants, he can decide whether it's at Barcelona, in Argentina or wherever."

Suarez has starred since leaving Barca after six years at Camp Nou, spearheading Atletico's title charge this season.

The 34-year-old has scored a LaLiga-high 14 goals to help Diego Simeone's Atletico sit 10 points clear atop the table, ahead of second-placed Barca with a game in hand.

Suarez averages the fewest minutes per goal (one goal every 85 minutes) among players to have scored at least two goals this season.

The Uruguay international reflected on his Barca exit following Ronald Koeman's arrival, adding: "When Barcelona told me that they did not count on me it was hard, I did not expect it.

"They were very difficult moments because of the manner [in which it happened]. Koeman called me and told me that I was not in his plans.

"When Barcelona made it official that they did not count on me, conversations began with Atleti, with Cholo [Simeone], with Miguel Angel...

"There was interest from many clubs, not just Juventus. I wanted to make the right decision, the best for me and my family."

Chelsea are chasing defenders and Niklas Sule is reportedly a target, with David Alaba seemingly set for Real Madrid.

Premier League outfit Chelsea have been linked with defenders, particularly since Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard at the helm.

They have three at the top of their list.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA EYE SULE

Bayern Munich defender Sule is on Chelsea's shopping list, according to Sport Bild.

The report says Sule's Bayern team-mate Alaba , who is out of contract at the end of the season, and RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano are also among their targets.

Chelsea have kept back-to-back clean sheets since Tuchel took over last month.

 

ROUND-UP

- Alaba seems set to head elsewhere. Marca reports Real Madrid have a four-year agreement in place with Alaba, who has passed his medical.

- Borussia Dortmund seem to be preparing for Jadon Sancho's exit. Sport Bild reports PSV attacker Donyell Malen and Lyon star Memphis Depay, who is also apparently wanted by Barcelona, are targets for Dortmund with Sancho likely to leave at season's end.

- With Andre Villas-Boas having left his post, Marseille are looking for a new coach. Sky Sport reports former Chelsea and Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri has turned down an approach from the Ligue 1 side.

- John Terry is on the list of candidates to become the next Bournemouth manager, according to the Daily Mail. The Championship side sacked Jason Tindall and are said to be looking at the Aston Villa assistant.

- Martin Braithwaite could have left Barcelona. Sport reports the forward turned down a loan move to West Brom during the previous transfer window.

Mauricio Pochettino said Paris Saint-Germain should be left to work on signings "in silence" amid Barcelona's anger over Lionel Messi.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman hit out at PSG on Wednesday, saying the Ligue 1 giants had been "disrespectful" by regularly discussing Messi.

Angel Di Maria became the latest person connected to PSG to discuss Messi, with coach Pochettino, sporting director Leonardo and Neymar having also spoken about the Argentina star in recent months.

Pochettino would not be drawn into discussing Di Maria's comments about Messi, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

"I am not going to talk about what our player's comment, as you know, because my words can be misunderstood, and then these words can go to another country in another way," he told a news conference after a 3-0 win over Nimes.

"I have to be focused on trying to improve this team, from now to the end of the season, to try to achieve our goals, knowing that it is not going to be easy because we are in a difficult competition, in a weird situation, with the pandemic that it is affecting all of us, and also football.

"And then, the Champions League and Coupe de France, we will try to compete and go as far as we can, try to win, because in Paris, is all about to win.

"But I don't want to give names, don't want to think on the future. I'm sure that the club is working in different situations to improve. So let's leave the club working in silence, in secret, in order to have a better team and with more possibilities to win."

Di Maria opened the scoring in PSG's win over Nimes before goals from Pablo Sarabia and Kylian Mbappe.

Pochettino praised the performance of Di Maria, who is also out of contract at the end of the season.

"I'm happy with [Di Maria's] performance and compromise within the team," he said.

"I think that as every player, he needs time but Angel is a very important player for the team. He's been at this club for many years. So I'm happy for his goal and his performance."

Ronald Koeman hit out at Paris Saint-Germain, accusing the Ligue 1 giants of being "disrespectful" for continuing to talk about Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

Messi, 33, has been heavily linked with a move to PSG when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Angel Di Maria became the latest person connected to PSG to discuss Messi, with coach Mauricio Pochettino, sporting director Leonardo and Neymar having also spoken about the Argentina star in recent months.

After opening the scoring in Wednesday's 3-0 win over Nimes, Di Maria – who is also out of contract at season's end – talked up a potential PSG move for his compatriot.

"I hope to renew with PSG. Play with Messi? Yes, hopefully, I think there are many possibilities," he said.

"I have to be calm, think about my own thing and continue in Paris because I am very happy here."

Barcelona coach Koeman is growing tired of the Ligue 1 giants speaking about his star.

After a stunning comeback to get past Granada in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, Koeman hit out at PSG, who face Barca in the Champions League last 16 beginning this month.

"It is disrespectful that so many people from PSG talk about Messi. They are spicing up the [Champions League] game," he said.

"He is still a Barca player."

Paris Saint-Germain returned to winning ways in Ligue 1 with a 3-0 victory over bottom side Nimes at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday. 

The champions suffered a shock 3-2 loss to lowly Lorient on Sunday - their first defeat under Mauricio Pochettino - but responded with a comfortable victory on home soil. 

Star man Angel Di Maria profited from a terrible Lamine Fomba error to open the scoring and then crossed for Pablo Sarabia to add a second before half-time. 

Kylian Mbappe scored a stunning third goal for PSG, who were without the suspended Neymar, but they remain third in the table as leaders Lille and second-place Lyon also triumphed.

Moise Kean clipped the outside of the post with a header from 10 yards but PSG were ahead seven minutes later through Di Maria's composed finish. 

Nimes midfielder Fomba played the ball straight to Di Maria's feet and the Argentina international fired away from Baptiste Reynet after teeing himself up. 

The home side nearly had a second soon after when Presnel Kimpembe headed a corner back across goal and Thilo Kehrer turned it against the underside of the crossbar. 

But Sarabia did manage to double his team's tally nine minutes before the interval, heading Di Maria's right-sided cross into the bottom-right corner from five yards. 

Fomba was denied by Sergio Rico as he tried to make amends for his earlier error, while Anthony Briancon and Renaud Ripart also had attempts saved by the stand-in PSG keeper. 

Nimes continued to ask questions of their opponents but the game was put out of their reach by Mbappe, who curled a shot past a stranded Reynet to seal the win. 

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar has reportedly decided to stay with the Ligue 1 giants.

Neymar's contract is due to expire in 2022 and the forward has repeatedly been linked with a return to Barcelona.

But the Brazil international seems set to remain at PSG.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR AGREES TO FOUR-YEAR EXTENSION WITH PSG

Neymar has agreed to a four-year extension with PSG, according to TNT Sports Brasil correspondent Marcelo Bechler.

The deal will keep Neymar, who arrived at PSG from Barcelona in 2017, tied to the Parc des Princes until 2026.

Neymar has won nine domestic trophies, including three Ligue 1 titles, since arriving in Paris.

 

ROUND-UP

- Also out of contract next year is Neymar's star PSG team-mate Kylian Mbappe. TNT Sports Brasil reports selling the forward, who has been linked to Real Madrid previously, would give the Ligue 1 giants the chance to sign Barcelona star Lionel Messi or Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos, or both.

- Real Madrid could also be set for other business. AS reports LaLiga's champions are prepared to sell Vinicius Junior in the next transfer window, with the 20-year-old having netted just three times in 25 appearances in all competitions this term.

- Arkadiusz Milik joined Marseille on loan from Napoli in January, but Juventus are still considering a move for the forward, according to CalcioMercato.

- Dele Alli was reportedly wanted by PSG in January, but the midfielder ended up staying at Tottenham. The Telegraph reports Spurs chairman Daniel Levy blocked Alli's move due to the club's injuries and run of poor form.

- A free agent, Daniel Sturridge's future remains unclear. The Daily Mail reports the forward is wanted by MLS clubs.

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