Rumour Has It: Barcelona target Pogba after Spotify payday

By Sports Desk March 20, 2022

Spotify's new $235million deal with Barcelona has given the Spanish side some extra spending money, and all eyes are on Manchester United's Paul Pogba.

The Red Devils were eliminated from the Champions League by Atletico Madrid, and currently occupy fifth spot in the Premier League table in what has been a disappointing season.

Pogba recently made headlines after his home was burgled while he played in the second leg of United's tie against Atletico, coming off the bench in the 1-0 loss at Old Trafford.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA CLOSE IN ON POGBA 

According to The Daily Star, Barcelona's recent windfall has the club looking around at options to add to Xavi's side, with Pogba now considered within their price range and near the top of the list.

Pogba, 29, has nine assists and one goal in his 16 Premier League appearances this season, with his contract set to expire this summer.

Meanwhile, TuttoJuve say Manchester United have identified Dutch 19-year-old Ryan Gravenberch as a potential replacement if they can pry him away from Ajax. 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona coach Xavi has said club legend Lionel Messi will "always be welcome" back at Camp Nou. However, Marca also report that Messi does not plan to leave Paris Saint-Germain during his two-year contract.

- According to Fichajes, Newcastle United are interested in signing superstar forward Neymar, who is under contract at PSG through 2025.

- Juventus are to target a move for Manchester City's Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus, The Daily Star reports, if the English giants manage to sign Norwegian striker Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.

- La Gazzetta dello Sport suggest that Antonio Rudiger is set to join Juventus when his Chelsea contract expires this summer, signing a four-year deal with the iconic Italian club.

- Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta has agreed to a free transfer to Barcelona, with the deal expected to be completed at the end of the season according to Football Insider.

- The agent of Chelsea midfielder Jorginho said he would one day like to return to Serie A, according to The Daily Mirror. The 30-year-old Italian spent three seasons with Hellas Verona, and five seasons with Napoli before heading to the Premier League.

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    Barcelona boss Xavi insists “nothing has changed” regarding his future following rumours he could reverse his decision to depart the club in the summer.

    The former Barca and Spain midfielder, who is preparing for Sunday’s LaLiga game at fifth-placed Athletic Bilbao, announced in late January he would leave his role at the end of the season.

    Barcelona have picked up form since then, taking 13 points from a possible 15 to boost their faint hopes of overhauling leaders Real Madrid in the title race.

    “As of today, nothing has changed,” Xavi told a press conference.

    “There is no more story than that. It all remains the same and we focus on the next game.

    “It’s true we’ve done well recently; I see the team training great every day and the group of players is less tense than in the past.

    “But tomorrow is a whole new story, here at Barcelona you have a challenge every day.

    “The moment of the truth this season is coming, and we feel we have been good over the last weeks.”

    Third-placed Barcelona thrashed Getafe 4-0 last weekend to build on recent wins over Osasuna, Alaves and Celta Vigo and a 3-3 draw with Granada.

    The Catalan club will return to San Mames just over five weeks after suffering a 4-2 extra-time loss to Bilbao in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.

    Xavi is braced for another tough test as his side seek to maintain momentum.

    “Athletic is the most intense team in the league,” he said. “And they are confident.

    “If we win, it will be a big step forward.

    “It’s the perfect game to match them in intensity and rhythm. Against Getafe, we rediscovered our game. Against Athletic, we have to do the same.”

    Barcelona remain without injured quartet Marcos Alonso, Alejandro Balde, Gavi and Ferran Torres for the visit to the Basque country.

    Xavi also hailed his former team-mate Andres Iniesta during his pre-match press conference.

    Iniesta, who scored Spain’s winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final, made the 1,000th senior appearance of his career on Friday, playing for UAE-based side Emirates Club against Ajman.

    “Iniesta is the greatest talent I’ve ever seen in Spanish football,” said Xavi. “A thousand games is many.

    “I admire him and I love him very much, he is a great friend.”

  • Shaw again on target as Manchester City beat Everton to go top of WSL Shaw again on target as Manchester City beat Everton to go top of WSL

    Manchester City defeated Everton 2-1 to climb to the top of the Women’s Super League table.

    City picked up where they left off in their first match since defeating Chelsea last month, with goals from Khadija Shaw (15th) and Lauren Hemp (55th) taking them three points clear of Emma Hayes’ side, who play Leicester on Sunday.

    It is now 12 victories in a row in all competitions for Gareth Taylor’s City, who were pegged back by a fine strike from Hanna Bennison in the 60th minute but deserved the three points.

    City, who have won all 16 of their league games against the Merseyside team, were behind Chelsea only on goals scored at the top of the table heading into the clash at the Joie Stadium. They were well fired up for this game and dominated from beginning to end against Brian Sorensen's team.

    City enjoyed the majority of early possession but had a hard time getting time and space in dangerous areas. After a few tame efforts, Everton made it easy for the home team when Justine Vanhaevermaet crumbled under pressure and played a short pass inside the box that went directly to Shaw, who suddenly had an abundance of time and space to smash in the opener.

    The goal gave the in-form hosts a massive boost as they looked even more dangerous from then on, with Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp sending dangerous balls into the box that Shaw was unable to connect with. By half-time, 1-0 seemed a low score considering City had 13 shots throughout the first 45 minutes.

    Everton, meanwhile, were gifted one chance late in the half when goalkeeper Khiara Keating played the ball straight to Rikke Madsen, but her weak shot was straight back at the youngster.

    After Shaw missed a great opportunity by heading over the bar, it was Hemp who doubled City's lead, combining with Coombs in the middle of the pitch before driving forward and sending a long-range effort rolling into the bottom corner.

    Everton were not down and out, though, as City suddenly looked flustered at the back and gave the ball away, resulting in Hanna Bennison smashing in a beauty of a goal from outside the box. Both teams pushed on for another goal, but neither could find a way past their opponents' goalkeeper.

  • Erik ten Hag: Manchester United have a defensive puzzle to solve against City Erik ten Hag: Manchester United have a defensive puzzle to solve against City

    Erik ten Hag admits he must solve a defensive “puzzle” for Sunday’s Manchester derby.

    Harry Maguire has joined Luke Shaw, Lisandro Martinez, Tyrell Malacia and Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the sidelines through injury and Manchester United boss Ten Hag is expected to pick from the same squad that edged past Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup in midweek.

    Sofyan Amrabat returned to the United side on Wednesday on the left, with Diogo Dalot on the right.

    Ten Hag said on manutd.com: “We have to lay the puzzle because we are still missing full-backs. We are still missing centre-halves.

    “So we have to be creative but I think we can. On Wednesday, we showed we can, if we have the right plan.

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    United’s best run of the season was halted last weekend by a 2-1 defeat against Fulham, dealing a major blow to their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.

    A trip to the Etihad Stadium, where United have conceded a combined 10 goals in their last two visits, presents a formidable challenge, but Ten Hag believes they can put the Fulham disappointment behind them.

    “Of course, it’s annoying,” he said. “It still annoys me, that game against Fulham. But it happened and, also, we can’t forget what happened before that.

    “From January on, we are in very good form, on a very good run. We bounced back (at Forest) and we have to keep this process going. We’re looking forward, great games are coming up – big games and good challenges.

    “So the team is really excited about that. I’m excited about going into this game, and also the coming games, but Sunday is very important.”

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