Rumour Has It: Messi will extend Barca contract, Man Utd nearing Sancho deal

By Sports Desk June 24, 2021

Is Lionel Messi's future close to being resolved?

Messi is out of contract at Barcelona and the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked with a move away.

But, if reports are to be believed, the superstar is on the verge of extending his Barca contract.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI SET TO RENEW AT CAMP NOU

Lionel Messi will renew his contract with Barcelona until 2023, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Messi is out of contract at Camp Nou and the superstar captain has been linked with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

But Messi is poised to re-sign, with an official deal reportedly only a matter of time.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are edging closer to signing long-time transfer target and Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, reports Bild.

- Diario AS claims Real Madrid are set to rival Arsenal for Real Sociedad star Alexander Isak. The Sweden international appeals as a more affordable option compared to Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and PSG forward Kylian Mbappe.

- Inter star Achraf Hakimi is expected to join PSG, says Romano. Personal terms have reportedly been agreed until 2026. He has also been linked with Chelsea.

- Premier League champions City are willing to wait a year to sign a striker if they are unable to prise Harry Kane from Tottenham, according to ESPN. Kane has been linked with City, United, Chelsea, Madrid and Barca amid reports he wants to leave Spurs. With Tottenham unwilling to sell Kane, City are prepared to wait in the transfer market as they also eye Haaland.

- Mundo Deportivo claims Inter want to sign Barca full-back Jordi Alba, with the Serie A holders willing to offer three players – Milan Skriniar, Lautaro Martinez and Marcelo Brozovic.

- Maurizio Sarri's Lazio are close to signing Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira, reports Sky Sport Italia.

West Ham have made a bid to sign Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic, says Sky Sport Italia. The Serbia international has previously been linked with Tottenham, United and Milan.

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  • Ange Postecoglou: I’ve no interest in filming a new docuseries at Tottenham Ange Postecoglou: I’ve no interest in filming a new docuseries at Tottenham

    Ange Postecoglou has no interest in following the lead of Newcastle and other clubs, which includes his own, of allowing the TV cameras inside the Tottenham dressing room to film a documentary.

    Spurs return to St James’ Park on Saturday for the first time since their 6-1 thrashing last April, which features in a recent docuseries about the north-east club.

    Episode three of the four-part series focuses on a match which proved the nadir of a sorry season for Tottenham and subsequently resulted in the appointment of Postecoglou in June.

    This documentary about Newcastle is the latest in a collection of sports series by Amazon Prime, which includes Spurs’ 2019-20 campaign where then-manager Jose Mourinho predictably proved a TV star, but the current coach in the hotseat has no such burning desire.

    “Nah, unless you want a cure for insomnia, mate. Put it on late at night and dream yourself away,” Postecoglou replied when asked if he would feature in a behind-the-lens documentary.

    “I’ve probably watched… I watched Sunderland ‘Til I Die, it was good.

    “(Not Tottenham) because I just think it becomes a bit manufactured. I’d be very surprised if you get a real sort of glance.

    “Look, who am I to say? I’m no movie critic. Maybe people like them, but not for me. I love documentaries, but nah.”

    The Newcastle documentary is not the only footage Postecoglou has no interest in viewing.

    He has also declined to watch back Tottenham’s five-goal humbling away to Eddie Howe’s team last season, which resulted in Spurs dismissing Cristian Stellini after he had stepped up on an interim basis to replace Antonio Conte, who left a month earlier.

    Postecoglou added: “I might have watched individual players in that game but I wouldn’t have watched the game as a reference point because it’s totally different.

    “It’s a different set of circumstances, different manager. I’m really reticent to judge and try to figure out what someone else thinks because I’m not in their shoes on a daily basis.

    “I have never used those kind of things and also, irrespective of what has happened in the past, I have more than likely been brought in to do something differently.

    “I watched all the players individually through the whole season to do my research on the players I was inheriting, but there wasn’t a lot for me to be gained from watching matches and trying to get some reference points as to how that’s going to affect what I am going to do.”

    Spurs travel to Newcastle in pole position to claim Champions League football after they leapfrogged Aston Villa last weekend to take control of the battle for fourth.

    Postecoglou has often cited the Magpies as an example of why qualifying for Europe’s elite competition is not a guarantee of long-term success, but was happy to talk up the potential of the Tottenham squad on Friday.

    “That’s the exciting thing for me with this group – we’ve got a real core and there’s still so much growth in them,” he explained.

    “Invariably, it’s their first season in the Premier League or they’re young in age and they’ve adapted so well at a big club where there are expectations.

    “It’s not like they’re going to fly under the radar by doing two or three years before moving to a big club. They’re under the spotlight straightaway.

    “I have been pleased with that, with the way the guys have accepted the challenge of playing for the club and challenging them to play in a certain way – and it’s going to expose them in many respects – but they’ve not shied away from that.”

  • Erling Haaland ‘extremely happy’ at Man City despite criticism – Pep Guardiola Erling Haaland ‘extremely happy’ at Man City despite criticism – Pep Guardiola

    Pep Guardiola has dismissed Erling Haaland’s critics and insisted the Manchester City striker is continuing to make a big impact.

    Haaland has scored 30 goals for City this term but only one in his last five. After Roy Keane last week claimed the Norway international was comparable to a League Two player in his general play, Jamie Carragher this week described him as “the ultimate luxury footballer” and said he was not world class.

    But asked if he was happy with Haaland’s all-round contribution, Guardiola said: “A lot. He helps us to make more spaces in the areas and his contribution has been exceptional since the day he arrived last season.”

    Guardiola said pundits “can do whatever they want”, but insisted he was only interested in the performance of his team, who are still in contention to repeat last season’s treble after drawing the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie against Real Madrid 3-3 on Tuesday night.

    City can go top of the Premier League for 24 hours at least if they beat Luton on Saturday, and face an FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea next weekend.

    “We are quite similar to last season,” Guardiola said. “We scored four goals, four goals, three goals in the last three games, 11 goals in three games.

    “And (Haaland) helped us score some of them (by) creating lots of spaces for the other ones to score the goals. I saw in his face, in what he said after the game, in the locker room, he was extremely happy (in Madrid).

    “It was a good result, let’s see what happens next Wednesday. Now the target is Luton.”

    Bidding to win the Premier League for a fourth straight season, City remain locked in a tight race at the top. They start the weekend a point behind both Arsenal and Liverpool, with their rivals not in action until Sunday.

    City have twice won the title on the final day of the season under Guardiola, but this is the first time they have faced a three-way title race so late in the campaign.

    “We know what we have to do,” Guardiola said. “We’ve done it. The people say, ‘you’ve done it, so you’re going to win’. No, it’s not about that. But we have done it and know exactly what we have to do.

    “The players will be ready. There is no doubt about that. We know what we are playing for.”

    Although a treble repeat is still possible, there is a sense City have not been at the same standards this term, with injuries taking a toll.

    “(The players) know how tough it has been this season for many reasons, maybe one of the toughest seasons we have faced for sure,” Guardiola added.

    “We know exactly internally how difficult it has been in many, many moments this season and we were still there, we were there. I know the players will be ready.”

    After Tuesday’s match in Madrid, Rodri had said he was in need of a rest after his 41st appearance of the season. Guardiola indicated any player who wanted a breather need only ask, but that he expects the 27-year-old Spain midfielder to be available to face Luton.

    “It is normal,” Guardiola said. “If one player feels that, what is the problem? All the teams who play in the latter stages of all competitions, Champions League, Europa League, fighting for qualifications, or against relegation, all have the same problem with the amount of games…

    “I’m pretty sure Rodri will be ready. I know him. After the game he was tired because it was tough, the game against Real Madrid. He came from Crystal Palace and it was really tough as well.

    “But I know him. He will arrive and say, ‘I’m fine, I’m ready’.”

  • Selby Browne believes TTFA's election of new president an opportunity to restructure football Selby Browne believes TTFA's election of new president an opportunity to restructure football

    With a new president to be installed at the helm of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) on Saturday, Selby Browne, president of the Veteran Footballers Foundation believes it represents an opportunity to reset football in the twin island republic and the wider Caribbean.

    The new administration to be led by either Kieron Edwards of ‘Team Progressive’ or Colin Wharfe of ‘Team Transformation’ unit, will mark first self-governed TTFA in more than four years. This as William Wallace's administration was removed months after he was elected in November 2019, as FIFA intervened and installed its Normalisation Committee in March 2020, citing financial concerns.

    That Normalisation Committee remained in charge until late last month when it made way for the TTFA to elect a new administration. For Browne, who withdrew from the presidential race, football is the catalyst for re-engineering the national socio-structure and delivering economic benefits by creating jobs in sport throughout all communities, with the establishment of a sport industry, both in T&T and the wider Caribbean.

    He recalled that Trinidad and Tobago is one of four Caribbean countries to have participated in the FIFA World Cup Finals competition, the other three being Cuba in 1938, Haiti in 1974, and Jamaica in 1998. T&T participated in 2006 and it is Browne's hope that they will make the next global showpiece in 2026.

    "It is my view this election is two years later than the ideal time required to successfully prepare for the largest football competition, the FIFA World Cup 2026, to be hosted in the CONCACAF for the first time since 1994. The TTFA election will determine the Executive to restructure and develop football in Trinidad and Tobago, while urgently redoubling much required initiatives to ensure qualification for the 2026 World Cup," Browne said in an opinion piece recently published in the T&T Express.

    "Restructuring by a new TTFA is needed in order to develop the best possible product on the football field, creating wider participation, training and development, from grassroots upwards. Highly competitive community leagues, strong well-structured and supported community league teams competing within the zonal level are also necessary so as to provide attractive inter-zonal competitions, all providing the base for the establishment of a privately-owned Trinidad and Tobago national professional league at the top of the football pyramid," he added.

    That said, Browne pointed out two critical recommendations for the new TTFA executive, the first being the appointment of an independent Constitution Committee to review the Articles forwarded by the TTFA Constitution Committee, while the other involves hosting a member and stakeholder consultation to review and contribute to the further development of the strategic plan.

    "For those of us committed to the development of football in Trinidad and Tobago, we fully understand the need to secure the unequivocal support of the unified TTFA membership to achieve the desired goal. For while the goal is quite easily outlined, there is no short cut, quick fix, or magic wand. Only dedicated can address the large task to be undertaken, which will demand all hands-on-deck in the new TTFA," Browne stated.

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