Tag Archives: messi

Mancity denies Messi!

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Despite his own insistence that no decision on his future would be made before the end of the 2020/21 season, Lionel Messi’s continuity at the Camp Nou remains in doubt, although Manchester City have moved to publicly deny reports they have made an offer to the forward.


Messi’s contract with Barcelona is due to expire in June, which means as per the Bosman transfer rules, he has been legally allowed to talk to non-domestic clubs since the turn of the year.

Whether or not this has happened remains unclear, and you would have to say it’s doubtful given Messi’s insistence that his focus was only on the remainder of the season.

With that being said, The Sun posted a story which suggested that Manchester City had made Messi an offer to sign with the club in the summer, however a spokesperson for the Manchester club has told MARCA that this isn’t true.

The information MARCA received was that Manchester City haven’t made an offer for Messi either last summer or within the final six months of his current contract.

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Paris Saint-Germain’s infinitely comfortable 4-1 victory over a poor Barcelona team on Tuesday all but confirmed Messi will not win the Champions League this term either, and this could well propel him closer to the exit door.

If this is indeed the case, you can see why Manchester City are eager to not be seen doing anything which could potentially damage their relationship with the Argentine’s camp, especially when they are likely to make their move in the summer.


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Julli Lopez: Only way Messi could stay? Sign Agüero!


Juli Lopez is the man who would be in charge of Barcelona’s sporting department if Victor Font wins the presential elections and he has spoken about a number of matters surrounding the Catalan club.


One of these is Lionel Messi’s future and Lopez believes it is important to convince the Argentine that there is a solid sporting project.

“The first thing is to make sure he can see that this team in the medium and long term will play in the way that he likes,” Lopez said of Messi in an interview with MARCA.

“Someone who he trusts will need to tell him this.

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“Who better to explain the project than his former teammate Xavi?

“A good project and someone he can trust are the two key ingredients to keep him at the club.”

Lopez was then asked if signing Sergio Aguero could be an argument to convince Messi to stay.

“Absolutely,” he replied.

“Barcelona need another goalscorer. Aguero wouldn’t be signed just so Messi stays. We’re talking about a top striker who wants to be playing top-level European football up to the World Cup in Qatar.

“He would bring a huge lift to the club and would play a huge role at Barcelona.”

Lopez was asked in general terms what makes Font’s project stand out.

“It’s the governing model and how decisions are made,” he said.

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“On a sporting level we are going to go with Xavi.

“There has to be a talented former player in the club’s sporting staff who knows how the club works. Johan Cruyff was first, then it was Pep Guardiola and now the key figure is Xavi.”

Finally, Lopez was asked if Barcelona will fight for the Champions League next season.

“I have complete confidence that they will,” he said.

“It’s true that the footballing side of things could be improved, but there’s no doubt that there’s a lot of talent in the squad.”


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Ronald Koeman blast PSG’s Di Maria over comment on Messi.

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Koeman did express his delight with his team’s performance on the night after Barca came back from two goals down in normal time and then scored three goals in extra time.

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman has hit out at Angel Di Maria over the PSG forward’s comments suggesting Lionel Messi could join him in Paris next season.

Messi’s contract at Camp Nou expires at the end of the season and PSG have been mentioned as a possible destination, in part because they are one of only a handful of clubs that could afford the Argentine star’s massive wages.

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PSG’s sporting director Leonardo has opened the door to a move, telling France Football last month: “Great players like Messi will always be on PSG’s list. But this is of course not the time to talk about it, or to dream about it.”

Di Maria echoed his sporting director’s comments on Wednesday after his side’s 3-0 win over Nimes.

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“Yes, yes, I hope so,” Di Maria told Canal Plus of a possible PSG move for his international team-mate. “There are many possibilities. We have to be calm and things will develop.”

Koeman got word of those comments and speaking after Barcelona defeated Granada 5-3 in an extra-time thriller in the Copa del Rey, the Dutch manager accused Di Maria of being disrespectful.

“It seems to me a lack of respect. Someone can be wrong in saying something like that,” Koeman said.

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“It is not fair, I do not think it is respectful towards Barca to speak like that of a player who is ours. So many people from PSG talk a lot about Leo, who plays for Barca.

“Besides, we have a tie against them,” Koeman added, referring to the teams’ upcoming Champions League last-16 matchup.

Koeman did express his delight with his team’s performance on the night after Barca came back from two goals down in normal time and then scored three goals in extra time.

“It’s incredible,” Koeman added. “The football is incredible. I think we’ve done well. We had chances to win the game earlier.

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“The team has been huge. In the last five minutes of the second half, we scored two goals. Then extra time was incredible

“The first thing that stands out about the team is their mentality. We never stop trying.”

Story Source: Goal.com

@newsworthywriter

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Barcelona to sue El Mundo over claim Messi’s contract worth €555m.

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Barcelona will take legal action against the Spanish newspaper El Mundo after it published details on Sunday of Lionel Messi’s current contract, which it says is worth up to 555 million euros ($674 million) over four years.

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Barca responded by also insisting they were not responsible for the leak, although the club did not deny the details of the report.

El Mundo say the deal signed by Messi in 2017 is the “largest in the history of sport” and called it the “colossal contract that ruins Barcelona”.

The 33-year-old could end up collecting a maximum of 555,237,619 euros before it expires on June 30 this year, if all conditions were met.

With six months left of the deal to run, “the player has already earned 511,290,052 euros, almost 92 per cent of the possible total”, the report claims.

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The leak comes as Barcelona are wrestling with a dire financial situation, worsened by the pandemic, and with Messi’s future still up in the air, given the striker can leave the club for free this summer.

“In view of the information published today in the newspaper El Mundo, in relation to the professional contract signed between FC Barcelona and the player Lionel Messi, the club regrets its publication given that it is a private document governed by the principle of confidentiality between the parties,” said Barcelona in a statement.

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– ‘Absolute support’ –

“FC Barcelona categorically denies any responsibility for the publication of this document, and will take appropriate legal action against the newspaper El Mundo, for any damage that may be caused as a result of this publication.

Sky-high price: Lionel Messi’s salary is in the spotlight J. Bassa AFP/File

“FC Barcelona expresses its absolute support for Lionel Messi, especially in the face of any attempt to discredit his image, and to damage his relationship with the club where he has worked to become the best player in the world and in football history.”

According to the report, Messi earned 115 million euros just for signing the contract in 2017 and among his potential bonuses is a 3,548,644-euro reward for winning the Champions League and 2,365,766 euros for winning La Liga, El Mundo claims.

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His club contract dwarfs those of the other top earners in global sport.

Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, last year signed the biggest contract in North American sport, worth a minimum of 450 million dollars, but it is 10 years long.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract with Juventus is worth a reported 30 million euros a year, but bonuses may have taken it up to 70 million euros last season. Ronaldo also earns more from endorsements than Messi.

Messi is set to decide in the coming months whether he wants to stay at Barcelona or leave the club he joined as a 13-year-old and where he has become arguably the greatest player of all time.

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Frustrated with Barca’s decline in recent years, the Argentinian also feels unfairly blamed for worsening performances on the pitch.

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are the favourites to sign Messi if he chooses to leave.

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Koeman defends decision to play Messi after first career ‘red card’

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Messi was well off the pace and allowed his frustrations to boil over in stoppage time, striking Asier Villalibre and being shown the first red card of his club career after VAR intervened, but Koeman insisted that it was the 33-year-old’s decision to play.

Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman has defended his decision to play Lionel Messi in Sunday’s Spanish Supercopa final defeat to Athletic Club, in which Messi picked up the first red card of his club career.

The Argentine had been a doubt for the game after missing the semi-final with a hamstring injury, but he was surprisingly named in the starting lineup and played the entire 120 minutes, putting in a performance which looked like that of a player who wasn’t fully fit.

“After so many years, he knows when he is fit to play and when he is not,” Koeman said (via Marca). “He has decided to play, nothing more. He was fine.

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“I understand what happened. I don’t know how many fouls he has made. The player tries to dribble and cannot. Can I excuse him? I have to see the play first.”

Koeman also declined to give his opinion on the performance of referee Gil Manzano, adding: “I’d better not speak. It would be repeating things and I don’t like it. I’m not going to give an opinion.”

Ronald Koeman defends Lionel Messi’s appearance despite historic career red card. (Noble Reporters Media, Olamide)

Fortunately for Barcelona, Manzano did not describe Messi’s foul as ‘aggressive’ in his match report, instead stating the Argentine used ‘excessive force’, a charge which brings about a lighter punishment.

It’s expected that Messi will now miss just two matches – the Copa del Rey third round against Cornella and the league meeting with Elche – whereas he could have been sidelined for anywhere up to 12 games if it was deemed as aggressive.

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That decision will likely frustrate Villalibre, who claimed after the game that it was clear Messi set out to physically hurt him.

“I put my body in his way to stop him from going forward, he has got angry, he has put his hand in my face and I think it was a clear show of aggression,” the Athletic forward said.

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Messi and Suarez to join Inter Miami in 2022

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According to a report from Catalunya Radio, Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez could resume their partnership in Major League Soccer in 2022.


Two days ago Lionel Messi was interviewed by Spanish journalist Jordi Évole and the Argentine superstar said he would like to live in the United States and play in Major League Soccer at some point in the near future. His words made a big splash right around the football world and now there are hints that it could be Inter Miami who make Messi’s wishes come true.

According to Catalunya radio, Barcelona’s No 10 could join Inter Miami in 2022. The franchise’s co-owner David Beckham is planning to lure Messi by also bringing in Luis Suárez, one of the Barcelona star’s best friends. The world-class players first linked up in 2014 and were inseparable on and off the pitch, until Suárez moved to Atlético Madrid this summer.

During the interview with Évole, Messi said that the sudden departure of Luis Suárez was one of the many reasons he decided to send the legal notification to the club saying he wanted to leave FC Barcelona. His demand to leave was of course denied by then president Bartomeu, who held him to the club’s interpretation of their agreement. Messi, though, will now become a free agent on 30 June 2021.

The Argentinean says he has not decided whether he will renew his contract with Barcelona or start negotiating with other clubs, something he is allowed to do starting 1 January 2021. But the MLS option appears to be one that Messi finds tempting, and linking up with Suárez once again may make it even more enticing. Luis Suarez’ contract with Atlético Madrid expires in the summer of 2022. Will Inter Miami be able to put together a package to bring both players across the pond and allow them to resume their partnership in the United States?


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Lionel Messi in a strong desire to search for his new Duo


There were flashes of the old Lionel Messi in the first half of the Clasico on Saturday.

Casemiro was booked for trying to scythe him down. Nacho should have been booked for actually scything him down, and it was his pass over the top for Jordi Alba that sent the left-back clear to cross for Ansu Fati to equalise.

He might even have put Barcelona ahead having spun Sergio Ramos one way and then the other only for Thibaut Courtois to save at his near post.

But the flame only burned for 45 minutes. It flickered in the second half, and was almost extinguished by Ramos’ penalty that put Real Madrid ahead and shut the game down as a contest such is Barcelona’s currently failure to respond when things go against them.

Everyone still looks to Messi, but Messi just looks back wondering who will play Robin to his Batman. There were no candidates in the last 20 minutes at the Camp Nou on Saturday despite Ronald Koeman having flooded his team with attacking substitutes.

Messi’s body language late-on when Ousmane Dembele wasted one opening spoke volumes. The introduction of the French winger, Franciso Trincao and Antoine Griezmann on 81 minutes was almost a case of too much too late. A change should have been made earlier, and the three forwards made for five in an attack – an uncoordinated mess.

When the whistle blew at full-time Messi had touched the ball 98 times. That was more than anyone else but he had ended the game without a goal.

He has now failed to score in his last six Clasicos. Not since Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid has he hit the back of the net in his biggest club fixture. The personal duel also fuelled him and is maybe another reason for the relative decline.

Those 515 minutes without a goal against Barcelona have come despite nineteen shots. It’s not for the want of trying. A drop in his incredible statistics was always likely as his physical numbers went down. But there are other factors.

Messi has always been helped by having decoys – players around him that terrified and occupied the opposition to the extent that space would be opened up for him – now those decoys are no longer there, or at least no longer anywhere near as effective.

Where once he was flanked by Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto’o and then by Pedro and David Villa, before teaming up with Neymar and Luis Suarez, he now finds himself in a moveable-feast front four that included on Saturday two 17-year-olds and Philippe Coutinho. The latter was below par against Real Madrid and is now out injured for the next three weeks.

The kids will come good. Ansu Fati is already joint La Liga top scorer on four goals despite not turning 18 until next weekend. And Pedri will have better games than his first Clasico, but they can’t yet compete with what might have been if Messi had got his way in the transfer market.

The idea that Barcelona could re-sign Neymar or bring in his national team-mate Lautaro Martinez evaporated in the financial crisis and so he finds himself having to produce more of the magic on his own, and a time in his career when he can no longer go it alone in the way he used to.

It was a feature of last season that he was dropping deeper than ever to get on the ball, and yet is further than ever from being that player who can slalom through an entire team running from the halfway line in the process.

The degree to which the transfer request and the ultimately aborted transfer to Manchester City has affected him into the season is debatable.

The mind of the genius usually works in the moment – unburdened by past failures or any imagined future shortcomings. Those close to him say he has lost little sleep over the famous Burofax.

Neither has it been held against him. In fact with Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu quitting on Tuesday, Messi has been credited with the assist in some quarters.

When the new permanent president comes in he will want to get Messi to sign a new contract.

It then will remain to be seen whether his appetite is still there to put pen to paper in Catalonia or if he feels that to squeeze another season out of his career he needs the jolt of a new challenge.

This is something which would put him back on the Manchester City agenda providing Pep Guardiola stays at the club into next season.

Before that next chapter is written, this season still offers him all to play for. But he knows from watching Bayern Munich destroy Atletico Madrid almost as effectively as they had thrashed Barcelona how hard it will be for the team to get back to the top in Europe, especially when supremacy at home is currently also beyond them.


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‘I’d prefer Messi stays at Barcelona’ – Tebas

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Lionel Messi has less than one year left in his contract with Barcelona and LaLiga president Javier Tebas has made clear that he wants to see the Argentine stay in Spain after his deal comes to an end.


The Barcelona captain asked to be released from the club last summer, but the Catalans refused to let him go on a free transfer, with Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter all reportedly interested to acquire his services.

“It’s true that a player is very important in one specific part of the world,” Tebas said in a speech the CEU Cardenal Herrera University. “A Japanese player or a Chinese player are better positioned in those countries.

“With Wu Lei, Espanyol would be twice as [popular] in LaLiga Santander as Real Madrid or Barcelona.

“I’d prefer Messi to stay, but it’s not a matter of life and death. We have closed TV agreements for four years.

“There is a fact: that we have sold our international TV rights for the next four seasons. Even if Messi leaves, we have still sold them, and we have three years to recover.”

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Several superstars including Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo have left Spain to join other leagues in the last few seasons, but Tebas denied that LaLiga Santander has lost its value.

“I’ve heard that so many times but LaLiga Santander is not losing value,” Tebas added. “I’d rather have those players here playing.

“I prefer that they go for tax reasons than for something else. We are better in terms of managing [the league] than England, but they have 77 million inhabitants, with a larger TV audience and more income per capita.

“Every weekend in England there are 14 million more households that pay to watch English football. It is impossible to reach that turnover.”


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Since Ronaldo left Madrid, Messi hasn’t score a goal in El Clasico

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After drawing another blank on Saturday, Lionel Messi has now failed to score against Real Madrid in each of his last seven games against them. Ansu Fati scored Barcelona’s only goal as they were beaten 3-1 in the Clasico at the Camp Nou.


The last time Messi found the net against Los Blancos was during the 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou on Matchday 36 of the 2017/18 LaLiga Santander season. That means the Argentine is yet to score against Real Madrid since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus. This season, Messi has scored just one goal in LaLiga Santader – during Barcelona’s opening game against Villarreal. Since then, he’s failed to score or make an assist in four league matches. You have to go back to 2014 to find a similarly poor run from the forward.

Messi’s slow start to the new campaign comes after a rocky summer at Barcelona. After surrendering the LaLiga Santander title to Real Madrid and suffering the 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in August, the 33-year-old handed in a transfer request, which was rejected by the club. Away from his club duties, Messi has scored once in two games for Argentina in the 2020/21 season – against Ecuador in a World Cup qualifier in October.


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From Camp Nou to ‘Messi’; Could this really come to pass?

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Gerard Pique has been equally outspoken in his defence of Lionel Messi and his criticism of the Barcelona board. The Argentine is now into the final year of his contract at the Camp Nou having been denied a move away from the club in the summer.


Messi’s future was a hot topic of debate over the summer, particularly after he handed in a transfer request following Barcelona’s humiliating defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League. After a dispute with Josep Maria Bartomeu’s board, the captain ended up staying.

During his first public interview since his transfer request, Messi claimed that Bartomeu had broken promises he’d made to the forward in the past. Now, the president faces a vote of no confidence at the club.

“Leo deserves everything,” Pique told La Vanguardia. “The new stadium should be named after him. We must preserve our past and present legends and not discredit them.”

Should Barcelona take Pique’s advice and name their redevelopment Camp Nou after Messi, it would be the first time in history the club’s stadium has been named after a person.

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Over the course of their past, Barcelona have played at the Velodrome de la Bonanova (1899-1900), the Hotel Casanovas pitch (1901-05), the pitch on Calle Muntaner (1905-09), the Campo de la Calle Industria (1909-22) and Les Corts (1922-57).

Barcelona first started playing at the Camp Nou in 1957, when its capacity was 90,000. Today, it can hold up to 99,354 fans, making it the biggest stadium in Europe.

Forgotten legacies
“We must preserve our past and present legends and not discredit them,” Pique said, dismayed at the fact that club figures like Pep Guardiola, Carles Puyol, Xavi and Victor Valdes weren’t involved at the Camp Nou these days.

“Something’s not right,” Pique continued. “You always have to keep these people around; they are part of the club’s history. They have made it great. They should be here, contributing.”


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Messi hopes Ronaldo will be able to Play in UCL clash

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Lionel Messi is hopeful his old foe Cristiano Ronaldo will be able to take part in Barcelona’s Champions League clash against Juventus despite testing positive for coronavirus.


The 35-year-old forward has so often lead the way for the Turin giants and continued to defy his age, but may be absent from the mouthwatering clash due to returning a second positive test for the disease.

Juventus are scrambling to ensure that Ronaldo will be available for selection should one final test come back negative – and Messi also appears keen to face off against him again in another ‘special’ match-up.

He told DAZN: ‘Obviously when Cristiano played for Real Madrid the games were special. Matches against them always are [special], but with Cristiano on the pitch they took on a particular significance.’

Ronaldo was doubtful despite initially contracting the virus while on international duty on October 13.

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He immediately began a mandatory period of quarantine, and was forced to miss Juventus’ fixtures against Crotone and Dynamo Kiev while completing the quarantine.

Andrea Pirlo’s side host Barcelona next Wednesday, and Ronaldo took a second test in the hope that he would be cleared to return and add another thrilling chapter to his encounters with Messi.

The former Manchester United man soon discovered he still had Covid-19, however, placing his spot in the game in serious jeopardy.

When questioned over his rivalry with Ronaldo during his trophy-laden days in Madrid, Messi added: ‘That is now in the past and we look forward to today’s challenges.

‘Wednesday there could be this challenge and we hope Cristiano can be there and will soon recover from Covid.

‘The ones with Cristiano were and are a special duel which will remain forever. They last many years and it is not easy to maintain those levels for such a long time.

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Our teams were also very demanding: Real Madrid and Barcelona, the two strongest clubs in the world.

‘Competing as equals for so many years is something that will remain forever. The duel between me and Cristiano was very good on a personal level and I think people enjoyed it.

‘The fans of Real, Barca, but in general all football fans, have seen a great show. We hope to give them even more emotions [on Wednesday].’

The fierce debate over which of the two superstars can claim the title of the best player in the world, and perhaps in history, continues to rage on.

Both have won 11 Ballon d’Or awards between them, although Messi narrowly leads the way with a record amount of six.

Juventus are hoping UEFA will grant them permission to test Ronaldo once again 48 hours before the European tie. The organisation’s protocols means that the player should have tested negative a week before the game in order to take part.

But his club have filed a medical report to UEFA that argues Ronaldo’s test showed a low viral load which, provided his test result on Friday is negative, should allow him to play.


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Court Instructs Newspaper to pay fine to Lionel Messi

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Spanish daily newspaper, ABC, has been instructed by the courts to pay a fine of 7,142 euros to the Leo Messi Foundation, as a result of publishing false information about the Argentine’s charity.


The publication detailed a new scandal which suggested Messi was involved in further tax fraud, however that was proven to be false information and libellous.

“The information published is not true, but the sentence can be appealed,” the court stated.

“The headlines and words have been used to try and make the reader believe there has been a possible tax crime committed by the foundation.”

Barcelona, on the other hand, have decided against taking legal action against the same newspaper after an unsavoury incident occurred on Tuesday with writer, Salvador Sostres, said: “Ansu Fati in full flight has something of a gazelle about him, of a very young, black street seller that you suddenly see running along [Paseo de Gracia] when someone shouting ‘water, water’ [to warn other street sellers] announced that the local police have arrived.”


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Shocking: Messi wants to join Chelsea

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A remarkable claim by Gianluca Di Marzio on Sky Sports suggests that a FaceTime call was held between Lionel Messi and Jose Mourinho, back in the manager’s second stint at Stamford Bridge in 2014.

Chelsea were ready to pay the Argentine’s €700million release clause and the pair spoke on the phone to determine the suitability of the move. Messi was impressed by Mourinho, says the Italian journalist.

But Deco informed Messi’s father and agent Jorge of the call, which was facilitated by someone else entirely, and the entire deal collapsed.


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‘It is gonna be Very difficult year for Messi’ – Insua

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Emiliano Insua described what makes his old Argentina team mate Lionel Messi so special but can see potential difficulties arising at Barcelona this season.

Lionel Messi’s issues at Barcelona before the season started could affect him later in the campaign, his former Argentina team mate Emiliano Insua fears.

It has been a tumultuous period for Messi, starting with Barcelona’s humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals last month. Following that humbling experience, Messi shocked the footballing world by requesting to leave Camp Nou and stating he believed a clause in his contract allowed him to leave on a free transfer.

Both Barca and LaLiga disputed his interpretation of the clause, though, saying any team wishing to sign Messi would have to pay his €700million release fee or negotiate a transfer.

Messi ultimately opted to stay this season as he did not want to drag the issue through the courts but he hit out at president Josep Maria Bartomeu in the aftermath of the saga.

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The 33-year-old struck a more conciliatory and uniting tone in an interview with SPORT this week and LA Galaxy defender Insua spoke about Messi’s enduring qualities, which he hopes he can continue to display after a tough period.

“I think he has everything, he was born like this, the quality he has is amazing, everything he does and has been doing is natural,” Insua told Stats Perform News.

“The time I was training with him you can see that. He doesn’t train too much, he doesn’t need to train too much…[because] this fitness situation he has, he’s really quick, really strong.

“Hopefully he can keep showing this because this summer he had a lot of problems in Barcelona, they didn’t finish maybe so well in the Champions League.

“Hopefully this year he can be at the same level because I think it will be difficult for him this year.”

For a long time it was rumoured Messi may have a new and familiar Camp Nou team-mate in the form of Argentina striker Lautaro Martinez, who was heavily linked with a move from Inter to Barca.

This week it was suggested Barca will no longer pursue a deal after being put off by a €98.5million fee, meaning Martinez is set to continue his promising development at Inter where he has scored 21 Serie A goals in 63 games since joining from Argentine side Racing Club ahead of the 2018-19 campaign.

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Martinez has struck up a particularly good understanding with Romelu Lukaku in San Siro and Insua has high hopes he will become one of the best strikers in the world.

“He showed in Argentina that he’s a really good striker and he’s showing it at Inter,” Insua added.

“Maybe everyone expected that he needs time to set up in the Italian league, but he was really fast in the adaptation in the way he was playing.

“The partnership with Lukaku was really good also up front, so they help each other.

“He showed last year he can be one of the best strikers in the world and everyone also said that maybe he’s going to Barcelona, now nobody knows anything [on that], hopefully he can keep showing that [form].”


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Messi in search of ‘New Duo’

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The start of the new season signals the beginning of a new era for Lionel Messi at Barcelona.


The Argentine is back in competitive action on Sunday for the first time since the 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich which prompted his transfer request.

What’s more, Messi will be without his partner in crime – Luis Suarez – for the first time since the Uruguayan joined Barcelona in 2014.

Suarez was the latest in a long line of teammates to strike a bond with Messi at the Camp Nou after Ronaldinho, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Samuel Eto’o, David Villa, Pedro and Neymar, to name a few.

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Suarez’s departure to Atletico Madrid leaves Messi to play alongside Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho in attack.

There’s also Ansu Fati, the great hope of the academy, plus Martin Braithwaite and Francisco Trincao as options going forward.

In midfield, Frenkie de Jong and Miralem Pjanic will look to feed the ball into Messi and his attacking associates.

In what could be his final campaign as a Blaugrana player, the mythical No.10 will want to go out with a bang.


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Neymar joins Messi in critisicing FC Barcelona

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Neymar joined Lionel Messi in questioning Barcelona’s decision to let Luis Suarez go during the current transfer window.


Messi’s Instagram post criticising the Catalan club drew reactions from teammates, past and present, as well as a number of other figures in football.

Neymar, who played alongside Messi and Suarez in the MSN front three at the Camp Nou, couldn’t help but wade in on the action.

“It’s incredible how they do things,” the Brazilian commented on Messi’s post, referring to Barcelona.


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Messi is still the best player in the world – Unai Emery

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Unai Emery is under no illusions how tough Sunday’s match against Barcelona will be for his Villarreal side.


The game, due to be held at the Camp Nou, will be Barcelona’s first in LaLiga Santander this season, whereas Villarreal have already played two.

When looking ahead to Sunday’s meeting, Emery picked out the possible threats facing Villarreal, including that of Lionel Messi.

“Messi is going to have his connections on the pitch and his individual chances to score,” Emery admitted.

“Whether that’s with shots or his combinations with [Jordi] Alba, Sergi Roberto, [Antoine] Griezmann or just himself.

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“He’s a player who always causes problems and that’s going to be the case for the whole 90 minutes.

“He’s still a very tricky player [to face] – a player that we think has been and continues being the best in the world.”

Under Emery, Villarreal will be looking to push on after their fifth place finish in LaLiga Santander last season.

“We’re excited and optimistic coming into this,” the Villarreal boss added.

“The league is always open, but you first have to remember that Real Madrid ended last season strongly and that Barcelona still have great players, which is why [those two] are the favourites [to win the title].

“Then you have Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and the teams that want to take our place.

“We have to go up a level, we want to keep climbing and Sunday is a good test to see how we’ll respond.”


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‘I couldn’t, I just couldn’t watch the best player in the world leave’ – Bartomeu on Messi

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Having refused to grant Lionel Messi’s wish to leave Barcelona last month, president Josep Maria Bartomeu is keen to move on.


Josep Maria Bartomeu insisted he had no interest in continuing a public spat with Lionel Messi despite the Barcelona captain’s criticism of his presidency.

Messi stunned the world last month when he informed Barça of his intention to depart the LaLiga giants, with the 33-year-old intending to trigger a clause in his contract to walk away on a free at the end of last season.

However, the validity of such a stipulation was murky due to the campaign being extended by the coronavirus pandemic, and Messi ultimately opted to remain in Catalonia rather than challenge Barcelona in a legal battle.

That did not prevent him from taking aim at Bartomeu in an interview with Goal, though, as he accused the president of reneging on his wish to leave and presiding over a club that had “no project or anything for a long time”.

“As president, I will not enter into any conflict with Messi,” Bartomeu told TV3. Messi is our captain, our leader. The issue is parked. What has been said has been said.

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“I couldn’t allow to let the best player in the world go. The team needs him, he guarantees success. Things have to be discussed at home. You have to support the team and the players.

“We have to congratulate ourselves that Messi is still with us. He is excited about [coach Ronald] Koeman’s project. The important thing is he plays for Barca, at his home. We want him to retire at the club.”

Messi’s contract expires at the end of the 2020-21 season anyway, though by that point Barcelona will have a different president as there are elections to replace Bartomeu next March.

However, Bartomeu, unpopular with some Barcelona fans due to his role in the Messi saga, may be forced out before then if he faces a vote of no confidence on the back of a motion to remove him, which has so far gathered more than 20,000 votes.

“Right now, no-one is considering resigning,” Bartomeu added. The club is not going to stop. I think everyone was surprised by the number of signatures but we respect democracy and the club’s laws.”


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Shocking: Messi joins Argentina team for WC qualifiers

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Argentina kick-off their World Cup qualifying campaign against Ecuador in Buenos Aires on 8 October before travelling to Bolivia five days later.


Lionel Messi headlines Argentina’s preliminary 30-man squad for next month’s CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Bolivia. World Cup qualifying for the 2022 showpiece in Qatar was due to begin in March, but the coronavirus pandemic forced a delay until October.

Now, Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina – who have not played since November – will kick-off their campaign against Ecuador in Buenos Aires on 8 October before travelling to Bolivia five days later.

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Dybala and Lautaro join Messi
Argentina and Barcelona captain Messi is joined in the preliminary squad by Juventus star Paulo Dybala and Inter forward Lautaro Martínez. Uncapped pair Facundo Medina and Nehuen Pérez have also been included, while former Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez could make his debut after completing a move to Aston Villa.

Agustin Marchesin (Porto), Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Juan Musso (Udinese); Marcos Acuna (Sevilla), Leonardo Balerdi (Marseille), Juan Foyth (Tottenham), Walter Kannemann (Gremio), Facundo Medina (Lens), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Nehuen Perez (Atletico Madrid), German Pezzella (Fiorentina), Renzo Saravia (Internacional), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax); Joaquin Correa (Lazio), Rodrigo De Paul (Udinese), Nicolas Dominguez (Stuttgart), Alejandro Gomez (Atalanta), Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham), Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton and Hove Albion), Lucas Ocampos (Sevilla), Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen), Leandro Paredes (Paris Saint-Germain), Guido Rodriguez (Real Betis); Lucas Alario (Bayer Leverkusen), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Lautaro Martinez (Inter), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristian Pavon (LA Galaxy), Giovanni Simeone (Cagliari).


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Leo Messi makes his first appearance since dramatic transfer U-turn

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Lionel Messi has made his return for Barcelona for the first time since his dramatic transfer U-turn after starting the Catalan club’s pre-season friendly against Gimnastic de Tarragona.


The brilliant Argentine only returned to pre-season training on Monday this week after his very public fall-out with the club but Ronald Koeman asked Messi to play as the coach looks to dampen the furore that has surrounded their talisman.

Barcelona went into meltdown when Messi announced he had made up his mind to leave following a hugely disappointing end to last season.


He told Barca that he wanted to exercise a clause in his contract which allowed him to leave for free only for the club to insist it had lapsed at the end of what would have been the regular season pre-Covid. He was told his buy out clause or legal action was the only way to leave the club he had grown up with and, reluctant to sue them, relented, though not before taking a swipe at president Josep Bartomeu saying he had broken promises.

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‘The president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I wanted to go or if I wanted to stay and in the end he didn’t end up keeping his word,’ Messi said.

‘And this is the reason why I am going to continue in the club… because the president told me that the only way to leave was to pay the 700-million-euro release clause.


‘This is impossible, and then the other way was to go to trial. I would never go to court against Barca because it is the club that I love, that gave me everything since I arrived, it is the club of my life, I have made my life here.’

More than 7,500 Barcelona members have since signed a censure motion aiming to oust Bartomeu in a vote of no confidence following the saga.

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Messi, however, returned last week and assured fans: ‘My attitude won’t change because I wanted to leave. I will give my all.’


As if to underline his commitment, he arrived an and a half before his first session on Monday, was the first to arrive On Tuesday and Wednesday and on Thursday, the team’s day off, went in to train again.

Now he has pulled on a Barca shirt again tonight at the Johan Cruyff Stadium.

Koeman, for his part, had prepared for Messi’s departure but will now seek to integrate him into a new-look side.

He has been tasked with overhauling an ageing squad that will see the likes of Luis Suarez moved on. He wants Lyon’s Memphis Depay and Liverpool’s Gini Wijnaldum to join him but Barcelona are struggling financially, especially as they face the prospect of paying up several contracts.


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Shocking: Messi deliberately hands over penalty to Griezmann, Friendship Begins?

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In the 17th minute of Barcelona’s pre-season friendly match against Nastic, the Blaugrana won a penalty and it was scored by Antoine Griezmann to make it 2-0 at the time.

While most might have expected Lionel Messi to take the spot kick, the Argentine gave the ball to the Frenchman.

Griezmann scored to make it two French goals, after Ousmane Dembele had netted the opener.


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‘Messi’s attitude can’t be questioned’ – Valdes

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Victor Valdes has defended his former Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi in the face of criticism about his attitude.

Valdes, now coaching Horta in Spain’s fourth tier, believes the Argentine has been unfairly targeted, but is glad to see him staying in Catalonia for another season.

“No one can question Messi’s attitude,” Valdes told RAC1.

“I’ve been very sad to see some of the comments about him, but I’m happy he’s staying and I hope he can continue to bring happiness to Barcelona, as the club need it.”

Valdes, who was briefly in charge of Barcelona’s Under-19 side in 2019, also gave his view on that spell.

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“Barcelona is a club with a very rigid philosophy, whereas I’m a very dynamic coach,” he said.

“I like to adapt to the players I have and give them freedom.

“At Barcelona, I just found people unwilling to change.”


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Just In: Messi trains at Barcelona training day off

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Lionel Messi turned up at Barcelona’s training complex on Thursday for a workout, even as the rest of the squad enjoyed a day of holiday.

The Argentine has been well cocooned since reporting back for training on Monday as he looks to get back to fitness, having to train individually at first due to LaLiga’s coronavirus protocols and then not completing the double sessions held later in the week.

Keen to make up for lost time, Messi has often been the first player to arrive at the training ground and this Thursday he was there alone.

Friday will see the Catalan side train again as a group as they look ahead to Saturday’s friendly with Gimnastic de Tarragona, a game in which Messi could take part.


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