Rumour Has It: Barcelona prefer Dortmund's Haaland over Messi, Raul favourite for Madrid job

By Sports Desk May 15, 2021

Lionel Messi has spent his entire career with Barcelona. 

That bond will not sway Barca's off-season plans, though.

The Spanish giants have reportedly turned their eyes to a younger option. 

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA PREFER HAALAND TO MESSI STAY

Barcelona are so desperate to lure Erling Haaland to Camp Nou that they would be willing to let superstar captain Lionel Messi walk away if they can sign the Borussia Dortmund star, according to The Sun.

Barca's financial situation would make it difficult to pay both players, and the report claims Messi might see his wages cut in half if he stays with the LaLiga powerhouse amid links to Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City

Numerous clubs are circling for Haaland, including City, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Chelsea, PSG, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Juventus.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca says Raul is favourite to take over as Madrid head coach next season if Zinedine Zidane leaves. Madrid great Raul is chasing promotion with the club's Castilla side.

Barca are set to complete the double free transfers of City star Sergio Aguero and Lyon captain Memphis Depay, according to Sport.

Arsenal and Martin Odegaard have a mutual interest in extending the Norway international's loan stay at the Premier League, according to Football London. He has two goals in 18 appearances in all competitions since arriving on loan from Madrid.

- Diario AS reports PSG are set to swoop in for Sergio Ramos by offering the Madrid captain and soon-to-be free agent a two-year contract. Ramos has also been linked to United.

- Though Juventus may be facing an exodus if they miss out on Champions League football next season, the Bianconeri are interested in Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu, says Calciomercato. 

United may shore up their midfield with a bid for Getafe's Mauro Arambarri, Diario AS reports. The 25-year-old is under contract through 2023. The Mirror, meanwhile, says United remain keen on Atletico Madrid star Marcos Llorente.

Atletico are interested in Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita, claims the Daily Star. Keita has struggled for form and fitness since moving to Anfield from RB Leipzig in 2018.

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    Robert Lewandowski has questioned whether winner Lionel Messi was sincere with his praise towards him after beating the Bayern Munich striker to the 2021 Ballon d'Or award.

    Messi claimed the coveted accolade for a record-extending seventh time last week, with Lewandowski finishing second as he settled for the inaugural Striker of the Year award.

    Lewandowski was somewhat unfortunate to miss out to Messi, having scored 53 times in 42 games for Bayern between the start of 2021 and the award being handed out.

    That was the most of any player in Europe's top five leagues across all competitions, with Messi – who won the Copa America with Argentina – joint-fifth on the list with 32 goals.

    Poland international Lewandowski averaged a goal every 67 minutes over the same period. Among those with 10 goals or more, club-mate Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting was the next-most regular scorer, netting every 84 minutes.

    Lewandowski would also have been favourite to win the award last year had it not been scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    In his acceptance speech when collecting the award, Messi said Lewandowski deserved a Ballon d'Or of his own for his exploits in 2020.

    "Last year, everyone was in agreement to say that [Lewandowski was] the big winner," Messi said. "Hopefully [France Football] give you the Ballon d'Or 2020."

    However, Lewandowski appeared unmoved by those comments from Messi and admitted to feeling upset about once again missing out on football's top individual honour.

    "I felt sadness," he told Polish channel Kanal Sportowy. "I can't deny it. I can't say I was happy – on the contrary, I have a feeling of sadness. 

    "To be so close, to compete with Messi, of course I respect how he plays and what he has achieved. The mere fact that I was able to compete with him shows me the level that I was able to reach.

    "I'm not that enthusiastic about getting the 2020 award. I would like [Messi's statement] to be a sincere and courteous statement from a great player and not just empty words."

  • Aubameyang situation 'causing a problem at Arsenal' – Neville Aubameyang situation 'causing a problem at Arsenal' – Neville

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's lack of playing time will cause problems for Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, according to Gary Neville.

    The Gabon international dropped to the bench for Monday's 2-1 defeat to Everton, with Arteta instead using Alexandre Lacazette and Gabriel Martinelli in attack.

    Arteta turned to Eddie Nketiah from the substitutes' bench before finally introducing Aubameyang five minutes from time.

    Aubameyang missed a glorious chance shortly after Demarai Gray had fired in what proved to be a superb late winner for Everton to relieve the pressure on Rafael Benitez.

    Arsenal's out-of-form captain has now failed to score in his last six Premier League appearances, which is his longest run in the competition and his longest goalless league run since going 14 without a goal for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga between February and August 2014.

    Former Dortmund striker Aubameyang has had 15 shots across that barren spell and has failed to find the net from an expected goals (xG) return of 3.1.

    Neville does not believe Aubameyang will react well to being left on the bench for so long, with the Manchester United legend predicting a possible parting of the ways between the player and club in January.

    "I think there will be a problem with Aubameyang off the back of this game," Neville told Sky Sports. "I don't think he'll like the idea of Eddie Nketiah coming on before him. I don't think he'll like the idea of being a substitute, full stop.

    "There's always that little bit of a bug there between Arteta and Aubameyang. I know he's the captain but he leaves him out and it just feels like something that's a little bit awkward, and it's going to cause a problem.

    "I suspect, if Arteta could probably get money for Aubameyang and he could get someone else, they probably would. And I bet if Aubameyang could move on he probably would as well because it could maybe turn a little sour."

    Aubameyang failed to find the target from his two efforts against Everton and now has a big chance conversion rate of 33.33 per cent in the Premier League this season.

    That is down from 46.2 per cent last season and 63.0 the season before when registering 22 goals in 36 games, matching his tally from 2018-19.

    Arsenal, who had taken the lead against Everton through Martin Odegaard's strike before late goals from Richarlison and Gray, are seventh in the league after losing three of their last four games.

    The Gunners have named the youngest average starting line-up in the English top flight this season and Neville believes a lack of experience is costing Arteta.

    "I think when we talk about this being a young team in terms of the average age, when you go to places like Old Trafford and Goodison Park in a night game one or two of the young players won't have experienced it too many times," he said.

    "I remember my first game going to Anfield and it was tough, going to Arsenal at Highbury. You need experience to get you through those difficult moments when the crowd go up and a few decisions go against you and you can feel something happening.

    "You need comfort in there. You need that spine. Arsenal's senior players are not really massive characters. They are not really leaders. They don't get those young players through those difficult moments in the game so the other players just go under a little."

  • Rumour Has It: Liverpool eyeing Dybala, Madrid identify Modric successor Rumour Has It: Liverpool eyeing Dybala, Madrid identify Modric successor

    For so long, Paulo Dybala has been tipped to extend his Juventus contract.

    However, Dybala is yet to put pen to paper as his current deal winds down.

    Liverpool are reportedly monitoring the situation and are ready to pounce.

     

    TOP STORY – DYBALA EMERGES AS LIVERPOOL TARGET

    Liverpool are interested in signing soon-to-be Juventus free agent Paulo Dybala, according to Calciomercato.

    Dybala is out of contract at the end of the season and while there have been negotiations, the Juve star is yet to re-sign in Turin.

    The situation has reportedly alerted Premier League giants Liverpool.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - El Nacional claims Real Madrid are eyeing Rennes sensation Lovro Majer as the successor to fellow Croatian Luka Modric at the Santiago Bernabeu. Modric is out of contract at season's end and has been linked with Premier League champions Manchester City.

    Ousmane Dembele wants to rebuild his career away from Barcelona, reports Mundo Deportivo. The Frenchman has been linked with Manchester United, Newcastle United, Tottenham and Chelsea.

    - United forward Edinson Cavani is an option for Barca as they look to bolster their attack, says Mundo Deportivo. Basel's Arthur Cabral has emerged as a possible January option.

    Jose Mourinho's job at Roma is not in danger, according to Fabrizio Romano. Roma have only won three of their past nine Serie A fixtures.

    - Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana is still set to join Serie A champions Inter despite interest from Barca, per Romano.

    - Former RB Leipzig head coach Jesse Marsch is an option to join Ralf Rangnick's coaching staff at United. Marsch was sacked by Bundesliga side Leipzig earlier this week.

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