Lautaro Martinez's agent Alberto Yaque said it would be wonderful to see the Inter forward playing alongside Lionel Messi at Barcelona.

Martinez put himself in the headlines with a stunning first-half hat-trick as Argentina routed Mexico 4-0 in the absence of suspended captain Messi on Tuesday.

Yaque confirmed LaLiga champions Barca's interest in Martinez in July and he talked up a potential move to Camp Nou again.

"It'd be wonderful to see him play with Leo Messi at Barcelona," Yaque told TyC Sports, with Inter set to face Barca in the Champions League group stages.

"It's great to see him play like that, so relaxed and happy.

"He has remarkable control in his first touch and that makes it very difficult for defenders to catch him."

Martinez – who was linked with a €112million move to Barca, just one season after joining Inter from Racing Club – scored in the 2-1 Serie A win over Cagliari prior to the international break.

The 22-year-old finished with six league goals last season and nine across all competitions for Inter.

"Lautaro is very humble. When I went to meet him at Bahia Blanca, it wasn't easy to take him with me, as he was very close to his family and felt homesick. Fortunately, his parents trusted me," Yaque said.

"Before going to Inter, I told him he wouldn't struggle to settle in, because I know that whatever Lautaro puts into his head, he achieves. It's no mean feat to waltz into San Siro and play as if it's your backyard."

Antonio Conte's Inter welcome Udinese to San Siro on Saturday, seeking to preserve their perfect start to the season.

Lionel Messi said he does not know if Barcelona did everything possible to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou as he appeared to take aim at the LaLiga giants.

Neymar wanted to leave Paris Saint-Germain prior to the transfer deadline and was reportedly desperate for a Barca return, though a move did not materialise.

It came just two years after Neymar left Barca for Ligue 1 giants PSG in a world-record €222million deal.

Barca captain Messi was asked about the transfer pursuit and he told SPORT: "I don't know if Barca did everything possible for his return.

"But it is true that negotiating with PSG is not easy."

"I would have loved for Neymar to return," Messi added. "He is one of the best players in the world and at the image level and sponsors we would have taken a leap that would have given us stability."

Amid reports Messi and his team-mates asked for Barca to re-sign Neymar, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner said: "In the locker room we never asked for Ney's signing.

"We gave our opinion, but it has become clear that despite what they say, I do not command."

Neymar – who has three years remaining on his PSG contract – is yet to feature for Thomas Tuchel's side this season.

The 27-year-old, however, made his first appearance of the campaign for Brazil during the international break.

Neymar made a goalscoring return in Brazil's 2-2 draw with Colombia last week, while he came off the bench in Tuesday's 1-0 defeat to Peru in Los Angeles.

PSG return to Ligue 1 action at home to Strasbourg on Saturday, while Messi's Barcelona host Valencia on the same day.

Albert Celades admitted he faces a complicated situation at "a difficult club" after being appointed head coach of Valencia just hours after the sacking of Marcelino.

The decision to dismiss Marcelino came as a shock to supporters still celebrating their side's Copa del Rey triumph and their fourth-place finish in LaLiga last season, which saw them qualify for the Champions League.

Former Spain Under-21 and Real Madrid assistant coach Celades has no experience taking charge of a first team at club level and in a news conference he said he had travelled to Singapore to meet with Valencia owner Peter Lim before Marcelino's departure was announced.

However, he insisted he would aim to build on the foundations laid by Marcelino, saying: "Regardless of the situation, Valencia is always a difficult club.

"It is a great club, a giant, and we will try to contribute in the best way. It has all been very fast.

"We are aware of the work that Marcelino has done during these two seasons. He has done very good things. We want to continue feeding that good work."

Celades moved to quash fears that his arrival might reverse the progress Valencia have made under Marcelino, who endeared himself to supporters during a successful two-year spell at Mestalla.

Valencia finished 12th in LaLiga in 2016-17, but Marcelino's arrival in July 2017 preceded back-to-back fourth-place finishes.

Celades, whose first game in charge sees them visit champions Barcelona on Saturday, said: "This team has many good things that have helped it to achieve its goals. We are not going to break what is there and think that everything is wrong.

"We have a lot of respect for and a very good opinion of the previous coach. We will try to encourage good things to keep them happening. Little by little, we will be adding new things.

"Here there is always pressure. I have been hired to do a job and I will try to do it in the best possible way."

Luis Suarez returned to first-team training at Barcelona on Wednesday to give head coach Ernesto Valverde hope that he could feature against Valencia on Saturday and lessen the need to rush Lionel Messi back from injury.

Suarez is nearing full fitness again after suffering an Achilles tendon injury in Barcelona's defeat to Athletic Bilbao on the opening day of the new LaLiga season.

After missing Barca's subsequent 5-2 win over Real Betis and their 2-2 draw at Osasuna, the Uruguay international trained with the team in the build-up to Valencia's visit to Camp Nou to provide Valverde with a welcome boost to his attacking options.

Messi, meanwhile, had been expected to make his first appearance of the season against Valencia after recovering from a calf injury but Valverde may opt not to risk the 32-year-old if Suarez is available.

The muscle strain sustained on the first day of pre-season training has kept Messi out of Valverde's matchday squads since then, but the Barcelona coach said he hoped to have him back in time to face Valencia.

However, the Spanish champions face a trip to Germany three days after the Valencia game to face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League and Valverde may give Messi extra rest as he completes his recovery.

Ousmane Dembele is "still like a child" and needs guidance in order to fulfil his potential, according to former Barcelona team-mate Kevin-Prince Boateng.

Boateng spent the latter part of the 2018-19 season playing alongside Dembele at Camp Nou while on loan from Sassuolo and he opened up about the France international's temperament in an interview with Bild.

Dembele has earned a reputation for his poor timekeeping having been suspended for Barcelona's defeat to Real Betis last season after missing a training session and France coach Didier Deschamps publicly lambasted him, saying: "I know about his excuses when he turns up late."

Barcelona stuck by the 22-year-old in the face of speculation that he might leave the club, for whom he scored eight goals in 29 LaLiga appearances last season, but Boateng urged the Blaugrana to nurture his talent.

"He is very calm, and does not talk much," Boateng told Bild.

"He is still like a child to me. You have to take him as he is and it may be that he arrives late.

"There are players who do that in defiance, but that's different with him. He's just like a little boy – one who earns a lot of money, one who is extremely public."

Boateng's stay with the LaLiga champions was short-lived and he made just three league appearances during a five-month spell at the club.

In contrast, Dembele is someone Barca coach Ernesto Valverde and president Josep Maria Bartomeu seem keen to keep hold of as he embarks upon his third season in Catalonia.

Boateng warned Barcelona: "You have to point him in the right direction. If he does not learn then it is his fault.

"For me, he's still a little boy who was thrown into this huge pool, suddenly costing 150 million euros overnight and somehow does not even know how everything works – because he just wants to play football."

Antoine Griezmann believes it would be a "very good" stance to stop matches in the case of homophobia or racism in the stands, disagreeing with French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet.

FFF chief Le Graet this week called for games to continue in spite of homophobic chanting or displays following a worrying number of incidents in French football.

But World Cup winner Griezmann, speaking after France's 3-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win over Andorra, was in support of halting play.

The Barcelona star believes stopping matches would be an effective way to prevent future incidents.

"For me, it's very good to stop the matches, whether for homophobic songs or racist songs," Griezmann told RTL.

"If we stop the matches, people will not be happy and they will stop doing it."

French president Emmanuel Macron called for the Ligue de Football Professionnel and its clubs to take responsibility and address the issue.

Ligue 1 games in Nice and Metz were paused in the space of a week last month after discriminatory banners were seen in the crowd.

Elsewhere, a second-tier encounter between Nancy and Le Mans in August was stopped by match officials following instructions to intervene in the event of homophobic chanting or displays.

David Beckham and Inter Miami have set their sights on Lionel Messi.

Messi, 32, has regularly been linked with one day switching to MLS and it appears Inter are making their move.

Beckham seems to be trying his best to land the Barcelona superstar.

 

TOP STORY – BECKHAM IN TALKS WITH MESSI OVER INTER MIAMI MOVE

Beckham has spoken to Messi about joining Inter Miami, according to Catalunya Radio.

It comes in the wake of reports the forward can leave Barcelona at the end of any season, regardless of when his contract runs until.

The economic bid for Messi would be "brutal", the report said, as Inter look to sign the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

ROUND-UP

- Inter Miami may not stop there. The MLS club, due to begin playing in 2020, are also eyeing Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane, according to AS. Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti has previously said he is open to coaching Inter Miami.

- After the latest transfer saga ended with Neymar staying at Paris Saint-Germain, it is set to come back to life in January. PSG sporting director Leonardo wants the Brazil international to leave the Ligue 1 champions, according to Tuttosport, and a move could happen in January, with Barcelona and Real Madrid sure to again be linked.

- Barcelona are already looking ahead and are set to track Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz throughout this season, Mundo Deportivo reports. Fabian joined the Serie A side from Real Betis for a reported €30million in July last year.

- Expecting their transfer ban to be cut, Chelsea have identified Nice defender Youcef Atal as a target, according to The Sun. The Algeria international is also wanted by Valencia, Calciomercato.com reports.

- AC Milan have identified Stade Rennes teenager Eduardo Camavinga as a player to follow, according to Calciomercato.com. The 16-year-old made seven Ligue 1 appearances last season.

- Gonzalo Higuain is continuing to turn around his career at Juventus. Calciomercato.com says the forward – linked with a move away throughout the close season – will start alongside Cristiano Ronaldo when the Serie A champions face Fiorentina on Saturday.

Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona may yet seal a deal for Neymar as negotiations are not over, according to the forward's father and agent.

Neymar was strongly linked with a return to Camp Nou before the European transfer window closed this month.

The Brazil superstar was said to be keen to go back to Barca two years after controversially leaving for a world-record €222million.

PSG sporting director Leonardo confirmed Neymar wanted to leave the club and was available for transfer if the right offer was made.

But Barca and PSG were unable to come to an agreement, with LaLiga giants Real Madrid also reportedly seeing offers rejected.

Neymar, who has three years remaining on his PSG contract, has yet to play for the Ligue 1 champions this term.

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel said he would not select the 27-year-old until his future was resolved.

Neymar Sr, though, has cast fresh doubt on his son's long-term future in the French capital.

"The negotiations between clubs are not over," he said in an appearance at Edinburgh Sports Conference. 

"A Brazilian just wants to be where he is happy and he was very happy at Barcelona. When his friends asked him if he want to go back, it upset him."

Barca reportedly made cash-plus-players bids to PSG in a bid to force a move through, with Ousmane Dembele and Ivan Rakitic among those said to have been offered.

"As an agent, you feel weak when there is no structure that allows you to come and go," added Neymar's father.

"There was no release clause in his contract and this makes things very difficult.

"We fought to find an agreement. We gave the best of ourselves for him."

Samuel Umtiti seems to have escaped a serious foot injury after Barcelona tests confirmed he has only suffered bruising.

The centre-back left the France squad to return to Catalonia on Sunday after being hurt prior to the 4-1 win over Albania in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Umtiti, 25, had a check-up at Barca's medical facilities on Monday, which showed he has not sustained any severe damage.

It is unclear when Umtiti will be fit to return to action but it is likely he will be a doubt for Saturday's LaLiga meeting with Valencia at Camp Nou.

He lost his place in the Barca starting XI last term during two spells out with knee injuries, with France team-mate Clement Lenglet taking advantage and becoming Gerard Pique's usual partner.

He has been an unused substitute in all three LaLiga games of 2019-20 so far.

EA Sports has revealed the 10 highest-rated players on FIFA 20 ahead of the game's release later this month, with Lionel Messi back on top after Cristiano Ronaldo ranked first last year.

Messi enjoyed another stellar campaign for Barcelona in 2018-19, scoring 36 goals in 34 LaLiga matches, inspiring the club's title defence and run to the Champions League semi-finals.

Ronaldo's first season at Juventus – who will be known as Piemonte Calcio on FIFA 20 – went as smoothly as might have been expected, with the forward finishing as the club's top-scorer as they claimed an eighth successive Scudetto, though that was not enough to retain his crown as FIFA's highest-rated player.

Neither Ronaldo nor Messi were able to win the Champions League, however, with that honour falling to Liverpool, who have two representatives in the top 10.

Find out who they are and which other players join Messi and Ronaldo in the 10 below.

10. Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Barcelona – 90

Germany international Ter Stegen has developed into one of the globe's most well-rounded goalkeepers after an initially slow start to life at Camp Nou. He is one of three players with a rating of 90, making him the second best keeper on the game.

9. Luka Modric, Real Madrid – 90

Last year's Ballon d'Or winner, Modric's 2019 has not been particularly outstanding, as he has found himself out of the Madrid team a little more due to suspect form. He may be down one rating point from FIFA 19, but he still reaches 90.

8. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool – 90

A crucial part of Liverpool's Champions League winning side, Salah has truly established himself as one the world's primary stars over the last couple of years. He was not even in the top 20 in FIFA 19, however.

7. Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool – 91

The most important player in Liverpool's Champions League success? Until recently the most expensive defender ever, Van Dijk's influence on the Reds is undeniable. That is reflected in the fact he will be FIFA 20's best defender.

6. Jan Oblak, Atletico Madrid – 91

Widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world for his quality and consistency, Oblak replaces David de Gea – who had a shaky 2018-19 – as the top-ranked keeper on FIFA.

5. Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City – 91

Even though injuries have plagued De Bruyne in recent times, robbing him of a chunk of last season, the Belgium star remains one of most highly regarded players on the game, with the City star beginning 2019-20 in ominous fashion.

4. Eden Hazard, Real Madrid – 91

After helping Chelsea to Europa League success, enjoying a generally fine individual campaign as the Premier League's most creative player with 15 assists, he earned his dream move to Real Madrid. He's yet to feature due to injury, but he'll be hopeful of elevating himself to the next level now.

3. Neymar, Paris Saint-Germain – 92

Perhaps a controversial choice to some, Neymar missed a big part of last season through injury and only won Ligue 1 and the Trophee des Champions, as he was also absent for Brazil's Copa America success. Nevertheless, his skill is undoubtable and he comes in at number three.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Piemonte Calcio (Juventus) – 93

The best-ranked player on FIFA 19, Ronaldo's rating drops one to 93 despite enjoying a solid season in Serie A. Cynics might suggest Juve's exclusivity deal with FIFA rival Pro Evolution Soccer has something to do with it.

1.Lionel Messi, Barcelona – 94

The world's best player comes in at number one with a rating of 94 after he enjoyed another spell-binding season on all fronts, impressing even though Barca failed in the Champions League.

Didier Deschamps commended Clement Lenglet's class on the ball as the Barcelona defender looks to cement a place in France's starting XI.

Injuries to Aymeric Laporte and Samuel Umtiti opened the door for left-footer Lenglet to start alongside Raphael Varane in the 4-1 Euro 2020 qualifying victory over Albania on Saturday.

The 24-year-old moved ahead of World Cup winner Umtiti in the pecking order at Barca last term, making 45 competitive appearances, and looks set to replicate the feat for France.

Lenglet will win a third cap on Tuesday unless major changes are made for the home date with Andorra, who are bottom of Group H after five games.

"He had a great season with Barca," Deschamps said of the former Sevilla defender.

"He has a lot of serenity, assurance and technical ease. He's calm on the ball. Without being very big, he is also effective in duels and knows how to anticipate.

"He's still improving but he gives off a lot of confidence."

Lenglet and Real Madrid regular Varane are key figures at LaLiga's top teams, a shared experience the coach thinks could accelerate their understanding in the international arena.

"Both play for very big clubs, they are used to a very high level," Deschamps said.

"Raphael has far more international experience than Clement.

"Obviously, the more matches they play together, the more the partnership can be refined."

France are top of Group H with five matches remaining but sit level on points with Turkey and Iceland.

Deschamps added: "I will decide [on Tuesday] who plays, but there will be some changes. That seems logical to me.

"Even if the players who played Saturday want to play again, it will not be the same team, that's for sure."

Diego Maradona claims his guidance on the training ground helped transform a luckless Lionel Messi into one of modern football's deadliest free-kick takers.

The legendary Maradona coached Barcelona superstar Messi during Argentina's eventful 2010 World Cup campaign.

Messi won his second Ballon d'Or that year but failed to get on the scoresheet in South Africa as the Albiceleste crashed out in the quarter-finals, losing 4-0 to Germany.

Despite Argentina's talisman not scoring at that tournament, Maradona feels that period was when the forward was at the peak of his powers.

But the new Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata boss believes a dose of his own wisdom was needed to elevate the attacker's dead-ball skills to the world-class level they have reached.

"Messi, in the World Cup I was in charge, all the goalkeepers [we played against] were the man of the match," Maradona said.

"He hit all the posts. Now he can't miss. It's a simple story.

"I had the best Messi and nobody can tell me otherwise, because he was able to skip past up to five players. A phenomenon. 

"But he had an issue with free-kicks. When we finished every training session we kept Leo behind so he could practice, and he started to hit the post. I didn't teach him how to take a free-kick. 

"Then he asked me how I was able to score."

Maradona described his advice as being simply to "hit it in the middle".

"And he replied, 'But I hit it in the middle and the ball goes this way or that way', and I told him, 'Don't worry, you're going to make it'," the former Napoli favourite added.

"Now he just can't miss."

Messi, now 32, has forged a reputation as a feared free-kick taker, his most notable effort last season a sublime strike from beyond 25 yards against Liverpool in the Champions League semi-finals.

Maradona left his national team post after the World Cup nine years ago but has returned to his homeland to take charge of top-flight Gimnasia.

Samuel Umtiti laughed off rumours raising him as a makeweight in a potential Barcelona deal for Neymar as he rejected reports linking him to Arsenal.

The France international's future at Camp Nou came into question following an injury hit 2018-19 season in which he managed 14 LaLiga appearances.

With Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet established at centre-back, Barca reportedly considered bundling 25-year-old Umtiti into negotiations for former player and Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar.

The purported offer would also have seen at least two of Philippe Coutinho, now at Bayern Munich on a season-long loan, Ousmane Dembele and Ivan Rakitic head to Parc des Princes.

"Me? Currency in an exchange? It's crazy," Umtiti told Canal+.

"That made me laugh. I do not even have an answer to that."

The transfer window ended on September 2 with Neymar and Umtiti still at their respective clubs following months of speculation.

Arsenal and Manchester United, along with PSG, were mentioned as alternative destinations for the defender had he been eager to explore his options after three seasons at Barca.

Umtiti denied ever being interested in a move elsewhere, claiming the Arsenal link came as a surprise.

"I do not know where this rumour came from," the World Cup winner said.

"Overnight I started receiving messages from my friends... but sorry, for me Barcelona is Barcelona.

"I had discussions with my agent to tell him that whatever was happening he did not even need to talk to me about it.

"My goal since I was a kid was to play for Barcelona. I came here to last and to win titles."

Umtiti left France's camp over the weekend after suffering a foot injury prior to the Euro 2020 qualifying victory over Albania.

It is the latest in a series of setbacks which led him to Qatar in November in search of a solution to ongoing knee discomfort.

"I really forced my knee during the World Cup," he admitted. "But I'm world champion. In life you have to make choices and I do not regret that choice."

Lionel Messi's Barcelona contract is making headlines.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed Messi has a get-out clause in his deal.

Now, a move across the pond could be on the cards for the Argentina superstar…

 

TOP STORY – MESSI CONSIDERING MLS

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi could leave Camp Nou for MLS, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Messi has an annual exit option in his deal and the five-time Ballon d'Or winner could swap Spain for the United States.

It comes as the Catalan giants look to offer Messi – who has been linked to David Beckham's Inter Miami franchise – a lifetime contract.

 

ROUND-UP:

- Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is set to sign a new contract, reports Il Messaggero. The Serbia international midfielder – contracted until 2023 – was linked to Manchester United, Inter, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain during the transfer window. However, Lazio are looking to include a release clause of at least €100million.

- Tuttosport, meanwhile, says Inter are targeting Milinkovic-Savic and Fiorentina star Federico Chiesa.

- According to AS, Real Madrid are lining up Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek for the 2020-21 season. Van de Beek was heavily linked to Madrid prior to the transfer deadline but a move did not materialise.

Manchester City continue to be linked to Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar. Tuttosport says Pep Guardiola wants to sign the star defender in January following Aymeric Laporte's knee injury.

- Corriere dello Sport claims Dries Mertens could move to China, Belgium or the USA on a free transfer when his Napoli contract expires at the end of the season.

- According to the Daily Star, Adidas played a crucial role in keeping Paul Pogba at Manchester United. Reports linked Pogba to Real Madrid and Juventus but the Frenchman remained at Old Trafford.

Samuel Umtiti has left France's training base and will miss Tuesday's Euro 2020 qualifier against Andorra after suffering a foot injury.

The Barcelona centre-back has endured a difficult couple of years with injuries and is set for another spell on the sidelines with a haematoma in his right foot.

France confirmed prior to Saturday's 4-1 win over Albania that Umtiti was suffering with the injury, ruling him out of the contest.

They announced on Sunday the injury will also prevent him featuring against Andorra, meaning he has returned to Barcelona.

Umtiti lost his place in the Barca starting XI last term during two spells out with knee injuries – France colleague Clement Lenglet taking advantage and becoming Gerard Pique's usual partner.

Although France did not confirm how long they expect Umtiti to be sidelined for, he will likely be a doubt for Barca's visit of Valencia on Saturday.

Starting against Valencia was unlikely anyway, however, given Umtiti has been an unused substitute in Barca's three LaLiga games this season.

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