Speculation has swirled for months about the future of Lionel Messi following a season of change at Barcelona.

Barca have been busy already this off-season, signing Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia.

Compatriot Aguero had implored Messi to extend his Barcelona stay, which dates back to 2000, and it seems the striker may get his wish.

 

TOP STORY - MESSI RE-COMMITS TO CATALANS

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi is set to pen a new two-year contract with Barcelona, according to AS.

The Argentina forward has practically agreed to the deal, with only "structural details" to complete.

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have both shown interest in Messi but he looks set to commit until 2023.

 

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- Everton are in the market for a new manager after Carlo Ancelotti's sudden departure and The Athletic reports they will consider Rangers boss and Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard. TalkSPORT claims ex-Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo is also on their radar.

- COPE claims that new Real Madrid boss Ancelotti will not push to recruit James Rodriguez from the Italian's former club Everton.

- The Sun reports that Arsenal are in pole position in the race to sign Raheem Sterling from Manchester City. 

- The Sun also claims any potential Sterling move to Arsenal may scupper Manchester City's plans to sign Tottenham's Harry Kane , as they want to use the winger in a swap deal given Spurs hefty asking price.

- Manchester United are keen on Sevilla defender Jules Kounde but Barcelona have joined the pursuit for his signature, claims Mundo Deportivo.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has revealed how he has fallen in love with Roma after extending his contract with the Serie A club, meaning he will once again work with Jose Mourinho.

Having already spent a season on loan at the Giallorossi, Mkhitaryan joined on a permanent basis a year ago and was a regular during the 2020-21 campaign under Paulo Fonseca.

The Armenia international scored 15 goals and provided 11 assists as he made 46 appearances in all competitions, including a run to the Europa League semi-finals that came to an emphatic halt against one of his former teams in Manchester United.

His new deal will see the 32-year-old stay for a further season after embracing life in Rome.

"Over the last two years at Roma I've fallen in love, both with the club and the city, thanks in large part to the incredible passion of the fans," Mkhitaryan said.

"The club's ambitions are very high and I am proud to have the chance to play my part as we take on all the challenges that await us next season. Daje Roma!"

However, Mkhitaryan will no longer be working with Fonseca, the Portuguese coach having been replaced by compatriot Mourinho at the Stadio Olimpico.

Mourinho was in charge at United when the Premier League side signed Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund in July 2016.

The midfielder played in 41 games during his first campaign at Old Trafford but did not make it through the next year. Criticised by Mourinho for his lack of consistency, he joined Arsenal in January 2018 as part of the deal that saw Alexis Sanchez move in the opposite direction.

Now, though, Mkhitaryan and Mourinho are reunited at Roma, who will be playing in the Europa Conference League after finishing seventh in Serie A.

Harry Maguire is facing a race against time to be fit enough to play in England's Euro 2020 opener against Croatia on June 13, according to Gareth Southgate.

Manchester United captain Maguire suffered an ankle injury last month which saw him miss the end of the season, including the Red Devils' Europa League final defeat to Villarreal.

Southgate has nevertheless picked the centre-back in his 26-man squad for the Euros, which was confirmed on Tuesday.

However, the England manager admitted to being unsure if the 28-year-old would be able to play against Croatia.

"We don't know that yet. It's going to be tight for the first game [v Croatia], there's no question," he said when pressed on Maguire's availability.

"I think he's such a good player and we had the additional size of squad, the fact that that leadership which is growing in him all the time, we wanted to take that opportunity to bring him into the squad."

Another player recuperating from a lay off is Jordan Henderson, who has not featured since going off injured for Liverpool during the Merseyside derby in February.

However, Southgate revealed Henderson will play a part in the friendly against Austria on Wednesday.

"Jordan has trained with the team all week so that’s been good. We've had to modify him through certain parts of the session. He’ll be involved in the game tomorrow," Southgate said of the Liverpool captain. 

"His progress is good but we're realistic about what that might look like."

Jack Grealish is also coming back from injury, though he did play for Aston Villa in May, while Marcus Rashford is another concern.

"Jack has trained with the team, but not every day so we've got to manage his load," added Southgate, who will also be without Jadon Sancho, who is ill, for the Austria match.

"Again, we want to get the players to the best possible point but we don't want to break them in the process. Marcus, we haven't seen him on the grass but he assures me he's happy with where he’s at. We go from there with that one."

Trent Alexander-Arnold survived the cull of England's extended Euro 2020 squad as Gareth Southgate named his final 26-man list on Tuesday.

The Liverpool defender, arguably the standout full-back in world football in the 2019-20 season, was expected by many to pay the price for a dip in form over the previous nine months.

England have riches at the position, and Southgate has also selected further specialist right-backs in Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier, Manchester City's Kyle Walker and Chelsea's Reece James.

The players to miss out as Southgate trimmed the 33-man group he named last week were Jesse Lingard, Ben Godfrey, Aaron Ramsdale, Ollie Watkins, James Ward-Prowse and Ben White, with Mason Greenwood withdrawing from contention due to what his club, Manchester United, described as an "underlying injury".

Lingard had a highly productive second half of the season on loan at West Ham, but it was not enough to persuade the Three Lions boss.

Southgate said that decision proved "very difficult".

The players who were excluded will remain with the squad over the coming days and could feature in friendlies against Austria on Wednesday and Romania on Sunday, both of which will be played at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium.

Southgate said Lingard was likely to start the game against Austria.

The inclusion of defender Harry Maguire follows concern over the Manchester United player's ankle injury, which ruled him out of the Europa League final.

Southgate said he had "a lot more clarity" over who would be available for his squad after United's clash with Villarreal and the Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City.

Of those who missed out on his tournament selection, he said: "I know what a disappointment that is for them, not to be going to a major championship.

"With Jordan [Henderson] and Harry Maguire we have a couple of players who are not where they'd be ideally in terms of their physical prep. But we feel the experience they have, the fact we think we can get them to a point where they can have an involvement in the tournament, it's worth taking them, especially as we've got an extended squad of 26."
 

England squad for Euro 2020:

Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Jordan Pickford (Everton); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolves), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City); Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds), Declan Rice (West Ham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund); Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

Trent Alexander-Arnold survived the cull of England's extended Euro 2020 squad as Gareth Southgate named his final 26-man list on Tuesday.

The Liverpool defender, arguably the standout full-back in world football in the 2019-20 season, was expected by many to pay the price for a dip in form over the previous nine months.

England have riches at the position, and Southgate has also selected further specialist right-backs in Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier, Manchester City's Kyle Walker and Chelsea's Reece James.

The players to miss out as Southgate trimmed the 33-man group he named last week were Jesse Lingard, Ben Godfrey, Aaron Ramsdale, Ollie Watkins, James Ward-Prowse and Ben White, with Mason Greenwood withdrawing from contention due to what his club, Manchester United, described as an "underlying injury".
 

England squad for Euro 2020:

Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Jordan Pickford (Everton); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolves), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City); Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds), Declan Rice (West Ham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund); Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood has withdrawn from England's provisional squad for Euro 2020 due to injury.

United on Tuesday revealed that Greenwood would not be in Gareth Southgate's party for the upcoming tournament due to an underlying problem that also kept him out of the Under-21 European Championship in March.

The announcement came on the day that Southgate will cut his squad from 33 to 26 players.

United stated on their official website: "Manchester United striker Mason Greenwood has withdrawn from the provisional England Euro 2020 squad, in order to recover fully from an underlying injury that also kept him out of the Under-21 European Championship in March.

"Mason's club appearances were managed carefully to maintain his availability through the intensive 2020/21 Premier League and Europa League schedules.

"But a further spell of tournament football would not be beneficial and Mason will remain at Manchester United to recuperate and prepare for pre-season training."

Real Madrid know what Carlo Ancelotti can do.

The Italian led Los Blancos to Champions League glory in 2014.

Could a return to the Bernabeu be on the cards? 

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRD EYE ANCELOTTI

Real Madrid have been in contact with Carlo Ancelotti to replace Zinedine Zidane, Calciomercato says. 

The Everton boss previously led Los Blancos from 2013-15, winning the Champions League title and Club World Cup in 2014. 

Cadena SER reports Florentino Perez has reached out to Ancelotti and Everton have begun to ponder replacements in the event that he leaves. 

Several other candidates have been linked to the opening at the Bernabeu, including Mauricio Pochettino, Antonio Conte, Raul and Xabi Alonso

 

ROUND-UP

Fikayo Tomori is set to stay with Milan on a five-year permanent deal, Fabrizio Romano reports. Chelsea will get €28million for the move. 

- Tottenham are plotting a move for Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger, the Mirror reports. 

- Everton want to bring Pedro back to the Premier League but have yet to make Roma an offer for the former Chelsea winger, Calciomercato says. 

- Saul Niguez wants to join Manchester United, with Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus also possibilities for the Atletico Madrid midfielder, the Mirror reports.

- Now free of his Juventus contract, Maurizio Sarri is favoured to take over at Lazio, Calciomercato reports. 

Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge?

Lukaku's first taste of English football was with Chelsea between 2011-14.

He could be set for a Chelsea return amid doubts over his Inter future.

 

TOP STORY – TUCHEL WANTS LUKAKU

Chelsea are planning a move for Inter star Romelu Lukaku, according to The Guardian.

Lukaku, who joined the Blues in 2011 before leaving in 2014, is reportedly considering his future after Antonio Conte quit Inter amid the Serie A champions' troubled financial situation.

Inter quartet Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez, Achraf Hakimi – linked with Paris Saint-Germain – and Alessandro Bastoni could be sold by the Nerazzurri.

Chelsea are now eyeing a reunion with Real Madrid and Barcelona target Lukaku after winning the Champions League, while Tottenham's Harry Kane and Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland are also on their radar.

 

ROUND-UP

Gianluigi Donnarumma is prepared to join Juventus on a worse contract than he rejected at Milan, reports Corriere dello Sport. Donnarumma is available on a free transfer and the Italy international has been linked with Barca, Manchester United and PSG. Mundo Deportivo says Barca consider Donnarumma a good market opportunity.

- Bild reports Florian Neuhaus will remain at Borussia Monchengladbach, despite interest from Bayern Munich.

Olivier Giroud will join Milan as a free agent from Chelsea, claims Calciomercato. Giroud is available after his contract was not renewed at Stamford Bridge.

- Lille's Christophe Galtier is the latest candidate to replace head coach Simone Inzaghi at Lazio, joining Maurizio Sarri, Andre Villas-Boas and Sinisa Mihajlovic, according to Tuttomercato. Inzaghi is poised to succeed Conte at Inter.

A stunning move for Cristiano Ronaldo could be in the works.

The Portugal captain may end up back with a former club in a swap deal.

The price for Manchester United would be high.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO SWAP DEAL RUMOURED

If Manchester United want to bring Ronaldo back to Old Trafford, they may have to surrender Paul Pogba.

La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Juventus would consider using the 36-year-old forward in a swap deal for Pogba, who has a year left on his contract.

The question is whether United would part with the 28-year-old France midfielder in return.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City could land Harry Kane via a cash-plus-swap deal that sends Gabriel Jesus to Tottenham, the Daily Star reports. 

- Arsenal are interested in Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde and Bayer Leverkusen's Edmond Tapsoba, according to The Athletic. 

- Barcelona have not given up in their attempts to sign Matthijs de Ligt from Juventus, Marca reports.

- Lazio have joined Roma as suitors for veteran centre-back Jerome Boateng with the Germany international set to leave Bayern Munich. 

- Granit Xhaka is a target for Jose Mourinho's Roma, and Arsenal have said they want £17million for the midfielder, La Gazzetta dello Sport reports. 

- Pedrinho will leave Benfica before next season, ESPN reports, with Shakhtar Donetsk the likely destination for the 23-year-old Brazilian. 

- Crystal Palace will speak to former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo about replacing Roy Hodgson, The Sun reports. 

What does the future hold for Achraf Hakimi?

In his first season with Inter, the Morocco international claimed the Scudetto.

However, his time in Milan could already be coming to an end.

 

TOP STORY – HAKIMI TO PSG?

Paris Saint-Germain want to sign star Inter full-back Achraf Hakimi, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Inter won the Serie A in 2020-21 but find themselves in a tough financial situation due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with head coach Antonio Conte already opting to depart.

Hakimi, Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez and Alessandro Bastoni could reportedly be sold to ease some of the economic pressure at San Siro.

PSG are believed to be interested, though Inter are demanding more than €60million for the 22-year-old, who only joined from Real Madrid at the start of the season.

Madrid have the right of first refusal and can match any offer for their former defender, while Bayern Munich and Chelsea have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail claims Arsenal are plotting a shock bid for Manchester City star Raheem Sterling. The England international found himself out of Pep Guardiola's starting XI at times in 2020-21. Madrid and Barca have been previously linked.

Paul Pogba remains a dream signing for Juventus, reports Calciomercato. Sassuolo's Manuel Locatelli and Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez have emerged as targets for Juve, though the Bianconeri are still keen on Manchester United star Pogba, though Udinese's Rodrigo De Paul is an alternative.

- Romano says Barca are open to selling Philippe Coutinho, though Arsenal are not interested in the former Liverpool attacker.

Lionel Messi's contract extension is a priority for Barca before any new signings are made, according to the front page of Saturday's Mundo Deportivo. Barca have been tipped to bring in Lyon captain Memphis Depay, Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and Manchester City pair Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia on free transfers. Gianluigi Donnarumma – another free agent option as his Milan contract expires – is also a possible recruit.

- According to Romano and widespread reports in Italy, Luciano Spalletti has agreed to replace Gennaro Gattuso as Napoli head coach.

Sevilla defender Jules Kounde admitted he could leave the LaLiga side in the off-season amid links with Manchester United.

Kounde has emerged as one of the most sought-after centre-backs in the transfer market after countryman Dayot Upamecano joined Bayern Munich and Ibrahima Konate agreed to swap RB Leipzig for Liverpool.

United have long been linked with a move for Kounde, who helped Sevilla to a fourth-placed finish in LaLiga this term, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Premier League giants reportedly eye a new partner for Harry Maguire.

The 22-year-old France international – also a reported target for the likes of Real Madrid, Chelsea and Arsenal – said he wants to win trophies.

"Regarding my future, I may change this summer," Kounde told reporters as France prepare for Wednesday's international friendly against Wales, ahead of the upcoming Euro 2020.

"Nothing is for sure yet, I did not take a final decision.

"Obviously, my goal is to play one day in one of the greatest clubs to keep improving and to win trophies.

"Starting every year the season knowing that the goal is to win this or this trophy. I may move but for now, it is not the case."

United already boast captain Maguire – the most expensive defender in history – Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly in defence, while Axel Tuanzebe has struggled for regular game time.

When comparing Kounde to Maguire, Lindelof and Bailly across domestic league action in 2020-21, the former ranks first in passing accuracy (90.11 per cent) and clean sheets (15).

Kounde is only second to Maguire in tackles (27 to 29), tackle success (55.6 to 58.6 per cent), interceptions (40 to 60), clearances (100 to 122), recoveries (100 to 122), duel success (60.7 to 65.7 per cent) and aerials won (102 to 135).

Paul Pogba believes Manchester United will come back stronger following the disappointment of losing the Europa League final.

United were beaten 11-10 in a dramatic penalty shoot-out by Villarreal in Gdansk on Wednesday, goalkeeper David de Gea missing the crucial kick after the game had finished 1-1 after extra time.

The defeat means manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still waiting to claim his first trophy in the job.

Indeed, the Red Devils have not won silverware since triumphing in the same competition under Jose Mourinho in 2017.

For Pogba – who was substituted in the 116th minute, denying him the chance to take a penalty – the defeat was a disappointing way to finish the campaign, though the midfielder quickly switched his focus to the future.

"I needed some days to reflect after the match," Pogba wrote in a Twitter post to accompany a picture of the United squad gathered together.

"Of course, very upset not to win the final but we're a team that will look forward with our heads held high.

"Thank you to all of the fans for the support. We will come back stronger."

Pogba played in 42 games in the campaign for United, scoring six goals and providing the same number of assists as Solskjaer’s side finished second in the Premier League.

However, before he is back in action at club level, Pogba will be involved for France at Euro 2020.

Didier Deschamps' reigning world champions are in Group F for the round-robin stage, along with Germany, Hungary and Portugal, who denied Les Bleus in the Euro 2016 final in Paris courtesy of an extra-time winner.

Wales manager Ryan Giggs will face trial on January 24 after being charged with assaulting two women.

Giggs appeared at a hearing at Manchester Crown Court on Friday, just over a month after the former Manchester United winger was charged with causing actual bodily harm to a woman in her 30s and common assault of a woman in her 20s.

The 47-year-old is alleged to have assaulted the two women in Worsley, Greater Manchester, on November 1 last year.

He was also charged with one count of coercive and controlling behaviour.

Giggs, who denies the allegations, will return to Manchester Crown Court early next year for the trial.

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) last month confirmed Giggs will not be in charge of the team for the upcoming Euro 2020 finals, with Robert Page at the helm instead.

Giggs won 13 Premier League titles and the Champions League twice during a hugely successful career with United before hanging up his boots in May 2014.

He was named Wales manager in January 2018, taking over the job following the departure of Chris Coleman.

Is David de Gea's time at Manchester United coming to an end?

De Gea has spent a decade with the Red Devils but his form has been scrutinised in recent years.

A swap involving Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak could solve United's problems.

 

TOP STORY – DE GEA OUT, OBLAK IN?

Manchester United are lining up a swap deal involving star goalkeeper David de Gea and Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak, according to The Sun.

De Gea's future has been uncertain since Dean Henderson signed a long-term contract extension at United, who remain uncertain about the pair.

Spain international De Gea joined United from Atletico in 2011 and the Red Devils are prepared to offer the LaLiga giants a reunion in exchange for star Oblak.

 

ROUND-UP

- TV3 reports Barcelona have offered Lionel Messi a new contract. Messi's current deal is due to expire on June 30 and the superstar captain has been linked with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

Saul Niguez is adamant he wants to leave LaLiga champions Atletico and Juventus lead the race to sign the Spaniard, claims Marca. United – long-term admirers – Bayern Munich and PSG are also interested.

- PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino is the favourite to replace Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid, says the front page of Friday's Mundo Deportivo. Zidane has announced his departure. Former Inter boss Antonio Conte, Castilla coach and club great Raul and Xabi Alonso – currently in charge of Real Sociedad's reserve side – are also on the list. Pochettino has also been linked with a sensational return to Tottenham.

Barca have held talks regarding goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, according to Fabrizio Romano. Donnarumma's Milan contract is due to expire and his departure is already confirmed. After talking with agent Mino Raiola, Barca are set to decide whether to sign Donnarumma, who has also been linked with Juve and United.

- Premier League champions City are looking to smash their transfer record to bring in £100million-rated Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, reports the Daily Mail. City are also interested in Tottenham's Harry Kane – a target for rivals United, Chelsea, Madrid and Barca.

- The Telegraph says United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to sign a new three-year contract in Manchester. Solskjaer guided United to a second-placed finish in the Premier League, while the club were stunned by Villarreal in the Europa League final this season.

Barca are close to completing free transfers for Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and Lyon star Memphis Depay, according to Mundo Deportivo. Ronald Koeman's men are also eyeing City's free agent pair Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia.

- FootMercato reports PSG have made an approach for star Milan full-back Theo Hernandez.

Chelsea and Tottenham both have strong interest in Borussia Monchengladbach attacker Jonas Hofmann, claims Sport1.

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