He waited, and waited, and waited. And then Barcelona scored. And their world made sense again.

Lionel Messi might be without a goal of his own since January 30, but he showed in Sunday's enthralling win at Real Betis that he doesn't need to find the net himself to keep Barca's fate under his spell.

The champions' 3-2 LaLiga win at a raucous Benito Villamarin was a crucial tonic at the end of a miserable week in which exiting the Copa del Rey at the quarter-final stage to Athletic Bilbao was merely a footnote.

First came the latest setback to Ousmane Dembele, now likely to be out of action until the end of the season with a hamstring tendon injury. Then, technical secretary Eric Abidal was quoted accusing Barca players of downing tools during Ernesto Valverde's final weeks in charge.

Those incidents alone would have been enough to make this a troublesome week for Barca, especially since they failed to sign a Luis Suarez replacement in January and are now scrabbling around for emergency deals to compensate for Dembele's newest injury. Then Messi, as he has for his whole career as the world's finest footballer, took things to another level.

It was 'only' a social media post – but it was a social media post from Messi. The club captain, the greatest player in Barcelona history, the man who is esteemed for the limited off-field distractions he creates caused a storm as newsworthy as the weather front battering northern Europe this weekend.

Messi is no fool. He knew what sort of reaction he would provoke by calling out Abidal for "dirtying" Barca players. Said to have had enough of being accused of wielding ultimate power at Camp Nou, he dragged Barca into a full-blown crisis with a mere Instagram story. He will not need anyone to point out the irony.

It all meant Sunday's visit to Betis, where Barca boss Quique Setien won most of his acclaim as a coach, was a mere sideshow. And yet, because of Messi, a week that threatened to derail Barca's entire season ended in a victory that might just set them right back on track.

Messi, who can cancel his contract at the end of this season, has long been said to be keen to see Barca build a squad capable of winning LaLiga and the Champions League. He would be forgiven for having a few misgivings when the Catalans lined up in Seville with veteran midfielder Arturo Vidal as a false nine, long before Sergio Canales' opener from the penalty spot must have left him feeling fed up in the extreme.

So, he chose to change the landscape.

First, he gathered a pass from Frenkie de Jong, who had turned expertly into space under pressure in his own half before spreading the ball wide. And he waited, and waited, and waited – and then dropped a lofted pass right onto De Jong's chest, begging to be volleyed home. Barca were level, De Jong having suddenly morphed back into the midfield dynamo of Ajax last season, and all thanks to Messi's intervention.

After Nabil Fekir scored a fine second for Betis against the run of play, Barca were under pressure again. But Messi, with seconds to go before the break, looked through the chaos to the bigger picture. His clipped free-kick landed for Sergio Busquets to control and fire home.

With 18 minutes to go, Messi completed his hat-trick of assists. Another deep free-kick, another pinpoint delivery, and this time an emphatic header from Clement Lenglet made it 3-2.

Three goals from set-pieces is not the Setien way, not the Barca way, but it was just what the Catalans needed after this most unsettling of weeks – even if it reminded us all just how willingly they dance to Messi's tune.

Mind you, who else has his sense of timing?

Lionel Messi grabbed a hat-trick of assists as Barcelona ended a tumultuous week with a pulsating 3-2 LaLiga win over Real Betis at the Benito Villamarin on Sunday.

The Catalan giants were dumped out of the Copa del Rey by Athletic Bilbao in midweek, while Messi has been involved in a public spat with technical director Eric Abidal after he questioned the work ethic of some players under previous boss Ernesto Valverde.

Quique Setien's side got off to a terrible start against his former employers, with Sergio Canales' penalty putting the hosts ahead early on, but a wonderful goal from Frenkie de Jong pulled the champions level soon after.

Nabil Fekir - who was later dismissed for two bookable offences in quick succession - restored the hosts' advantage with a fine finish, before Sergio Busquets scored a second equaliser on the stroke of half-time.

Clement Lenglet then headed home Messi's free-kick 18 minutes from time to ensure Barca remain three points behind leaders Real Madrid after their 4-1 win at Osasuna earlier in the day, although the Frenchman blotted his copybook by picking up a second yellow card soon after Fekir's dismissal.

Betis opened the scoring in the sixth minute, Canales stroking home from the penalty spot after Lenglet had handled Fekir's strike inside the penalty area.

Their lead lasted just three minutes, though, as De Jong chested down Messi's superb ball over the top and volleyed past Joel Robles from six yards.

Fekir rounded off a swift counter-attacking move with a fine low strike from 18 yards past Marc-Andre ter Stegen to restore Betis' advantage just before the half-hour mark.

Messi was again the provider for Barca's equaliser in first-half stoppage time, his deep free-kick turned in by Busquets from eight yards.

Messi was twice denied by Robles after the interval but he was central to Barca's winner, floating in a free-kick that was headed home by a towering Lenglet.

Fekir saw red 14 minutes from time, picking up quickfire bookings for a foul on Lenglet and dissent, while Barca's French defender also received his marching orders three minutes later after catching Joaquin.

Kaka believes Lionel Messi could leave Barcelona and warned it is important there is no messy divorce if the Argentina star moves on from Camp Nou.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi was incensed by recent comments from sporting director Eric Abidal, who questioned whether some players showed full commitment under former head coach Ernesto Valverde.

A scathing response from Messi bypassed official club channels as he took Abidal to task on Instagram, and that raised the question of whether the record-breaking forward remains happy at Barcelona.

He has spent his entire professional career with the Catalan giants and is by a long distance their all-time leading goalscorer and closing in on Xavi's appearances records.

Yet Kaka, who starred for Milan, Real Madrid and Brazil and also won the 2007 Ballon d'Or, says the day could come when Messi seeks to move on.

It would then behove both parties to ensure the split is conducted in a dignified way, Kaka explained.

Messi has a clause in his contract that allows him to leave on a free transfer at the end of each season.

"I think it's not going to be a problem for him to play in the Premier League, or [to play] at a top club at the top three leagues in the world would be good for him," Kaka told Sky Sports News.

"But of course it depends on what he wants for his career. It's hard to see him playing for another club, but it's just ... [he may feel,] 'It's okay, it's time for me to change and I'll go to have another experience and I'll be the best football player in the world for another team.'

"I think the most important thing is not the broken part but the way this is going to be broken.

"When [Cristiano] Ronaldo left Madrid we were sad that Ronaldo left the club and of course a lot of them regret Ronaldo's left Real Madrid.

"But I think everybody at the time understood that, okay, for him it's another challenge, he needs another challenge, he needs to move, it's okay, we are one of the best clubs in the world and we'll keep going, Real Madrid needs to rebuild.

"It's more the way, if it's going to happen, it's the way that it's going to happen."

Kaka is hoping to move into a football director's role and explained he was fascinated by the Messi saga.

"I'm in this position right now to understand the clubs, the sports director, how to manage a club, how to build a team, and it's a very good situation for me to understand how they're going to handle this, because right now everything's so hot," Kaka said.

"We're going to hear a lot about that, but I'm looking forward to seeing the next step - Messi, [whether] he's going to leave, Abidal, or the club, Barcelona, how they're going to manage this situation will be really nice.

"From outside it's really hard to say something. I don't know if Messi wants to leave or he just wants to protect his players - [and is thinking,] 'As a captain I need to protect my team.'"

Paris Saint-Germain reportedly have no interest in listening to offers for star Kylian Mbappe.

Mbappe, 21, has repeatedly been linked to Real Madrid, rumours which only intensified after the forward was involved in a bust-up with coach Thomas Tuchel.

But PSG are prepared to make the France international see out his contract, rather than lose one of their star players.

 

TOP STORY – PSG STANDING FIRM OVER MBAPPE AMID MADRID LINKS

PSG will not listen to offers for Mbappe amid links to Real Madrid, according to Marca.

Mbappe is contracted in Paris until 2022 and the Ligue 1 giants are willing to make him see out his deal.

PSG have also tried to extend Mbappe's contract, moves which are set to continue despite his seeming unhappiness at the club.

ROUND-UP

- With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer under some pressure at Old Trafford, Mauricio Pochettino has not given up on becoming Manchester United manager ahead of next season, according to the Mirror.

- While Pochettino may arrive, Paul Pogba seems likely to leave United. Tuttosport reports the midfielder and Juventus attacker Paulo Dybala dream of playing together again, with Pogba perhaps set for a return to Turin. Dybala is in contract talks with Juventus with his deal expiring in 2022.

- Jack Grealish seems to know where he wants to be. Goal reports the midfielder is ready to join Manchester United from Aston Villa, although no formal talks have taken place. The Sun says Grealish prefers Manchester United over other clubs, while the Mirror reports Manchester City have joined the race for the Englishman.

- With Luis Suarez set to miss most of the rest of the season due to injury, Barcelona are eyeing a move for … Luis Suarez. El Larguero reports Barcelona have made contact with Real Zaragoza over the forward, who is on loan from Watford. Suarez has scored 14 goals in the Segunda Division this season.

- On loan at Newcastle United from Tottenham, Danny Rose will be watched by Paris Saint-Germain ahead of a possible move at the end of the season, according to The Sun.

Barcelona supporters can expect to see more of young attacker Alex Collado but head coach Quique Setien admitted Riqui Puig's first-team chances could be limited this season.

Collado has made just one LaLiga appearance this term, playing for five minutes as a substitute in Barca's 2-0 defeat at Valencia in January, while Puig has played for 22 minutes across two cameos.

The pair are seen as two of the club's brightest prospects as established players like Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets enter the latter stages of their careers, and Setien indicated that Collado's ability to play as part of a front three means he is of more immediate use than central midfielder Puig.

"They are two very different kind of players," Setien told reporters.

"We try to think which player we need most at certain times of the game. They're two very good players and they've both got chances to play. We're getting to know them better every day.

"We're seeing what they're capable of doing for us in every training session. It's a time of learning.

"With Riqui there are a lot of players in the position where he would normally play but Collado, playing up front, he's going to get chances. We'll have to see how things go."

Setien saw his players get knocked out of the Copa del Rey on Thursday, when they were beaten 1-0 by Athletic Bilbao.

As he prepared for Sunday's trip to face his former club Real Betis, he reflected on the positive aspects of that game and indicated he is hopeful of ending a three-game winless run on the road in LaLiga.

"It's about the dynamic of how this team has been playing away from home for some time," said Setien. "The other day I thought we improved a lot but unfortunately the result didn't go our way.

"We need to try to take the good conclusions from that game and it's a question of getting back out onto the pitch, playing another game. There's not much time to dwell on your sorrows at this club. You need to be fresh and lucid.

"We've improved a lot. We're seeing continuity but the three points are important because we want to be chasing for the title until the end.

"It's time to ratify the improvement in the cup at a really difficult ground.

"We were hurt by losing the cup game but we've learned a lot from it."

Neymar's return would hand Barcelona a huge boost, according to sporting director Eric Abidal.

The Brazil superstar left Camp Nou for PSG in a world-record €222million transfer in August 2017 but has been persistently linked with a move back to Barca.

Head coach Quique Setien said last week he would relish the chance to coach the Neymar and Abidal believes such a deal might be possible.

Asked for his opinion on Neymar coming back to the Catalan giants, Abidal told Mundo Deportivo: "I totally agree.

"Quique would be proud to be able to coach a player like Neymar and the others here who are of such a high level."

Barca have been left short in attack by serious injuries to Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele, though Ansu Fati impressed with a double in a 2-1 victory over Levante last weekend.

On the effect signing Neymar could have on Fati, Abidal said: "That's why planning is not so easy. We may wish to have all the best players, but we can't make a mistake in the development of players.

"Since Ansu broke into the first team, he's contributed a lot. In the last [LaLiga] game, he showed his talent again. He's a player who can play in many positions and you have to take that into account.

"I think the player is 100 per cent with us, with the first team, and has the goal of staying here for many years."

Barca could help fund a move for Neymar by letting Philippe Coutinho make his loan at Bayern permanent, which the Bundesliga giants can achieve by activating a €120m option.

However, it has been reported this week that Barca would be willing to consider an offer at €80m.

"The information we have is that Bayern are very happy with Philippe and Philippe is also very happy there," said Abidal.

"It's true they have an option [to buy him], but we have to plan perfectly with those who are in house and on loan, and then we'll see."

Another player who could be heading for the exit at Camp Nou is Ivan Rakitic, who accused the club of a lack of respect and was disappointed by the treatment of former coach Ernesto Valverde.

"I don't know in what sense of respect he spoke about," said Abidal, who believes Rakitic remains content at Barca.

"For a player, the most important thing is to have minutes. He's gone through a difficult moment with Valverde, now we have changed coach. It's something for the coach, because I can't manage playing minutes for a player.

"We have respect because we haven't spoken with anybody, and neither has he, it seems. He said he planned to leave but in the end he decided to stay at Barca and if he did that, it's because there is a percentage of satisfaction."

Lionel Messi wants to stay at Barcelona, but it is "never easy" to renew his contract, according to the club's technical secretary Eric Abidal.

Messi's future has been thrown into doubt following a turbulent week at Camp Nou, during which he criticised Abidal in a social media post for his comments on the squad's efforts under former coach Ernesto Valverde.

The Barca captain called on Abidal to name names and accused him of "dirtying" the squad by suggesting certain stars downed tools during Valverde's final weeks in charge.

With Messi able to have his contract cancelled at the end of the season and leave for free, there have been suggestions he could seek a new challenge for 2020-21, although Pep Guardiola insisted on Friday he did not want Manchester City to sign the Argentina star.

Abidal seems hopeful of extending Messi's contract, which will expire in June 2021, but he concedes it is difficult to negotiate terms with a player considered the greatest in the world.

"It's a question for him," he told Mundo Deportivo when asked about Messi's contract. "Hopefully, he continues.

"Leo said Barca is everything for him, that he wants to continue here and, from there, there are conditions. We're talking about the best player in the world and to have a renewal of such a player is never easy."

Messi has always seemed likely to end at least his European career with Barca, although it is said he wants the club to be in a strong position to challenge for LaLiga and the Champions League before he commits to new terms.

Abidal appears hugely confident in Barca's chances of continental glory this season, suggesting they could be unbeatable if they play to their highest level.

"The Champions League is the objective. We know the challenge is difficult but it's not impossible," he said, with Napoli up next in the round of 16.

"For me, Barca's only rivals are Barca. If the team is good physically and mentally, it will be very difficult for us to lose the ball and not be able to win."

Barcelona's trophy hopes have already been dealt a blow by the loss of Luis Suarez, who is not likely to return until near the end of the season due to a knee injury.

The striker will also be out of contract after next season, but Abidal expects to begin discussions over a new deal when the time is right.

"First, you have to have respect for the players, for what they're giving, what they've given before and what they will give to the club," he said. "It's an injury situation now. Hopefully, he'll recover well and, aside from that, it's just talking.

"If things look good to us as a club, of course we'll enter into negotiations and he will also have to tell us how he feels because, in the end, it's [about] respect for the club and for the team."

Premier League clubs are queuing up to sign Jadon Sancho.

But, Borussia Dortmund will not be rushed in parting with the England teenager.

Dortmund are reportedly determined to make the most of a strong Euro 2020 for the 19-year-old.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND WON'T RUSH SANCHO SALE

Borussia Dortmund will take their time over selling in-demand star Jadon Sancho amid links to Manchester United and Chelsea, reports 90min.

Sancho is a player in demand, with Premier League giants United and Chelsea interested in luring the 19-year-old back to England.

Bundesliga outfit Dortmund, however, are keen to maximise Sancho's transfer value after Euro 2020.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona captain Lionel Messi wants to stay at Camp Nu despite his public row with sporting director Eric Abidal, according to Sky Sports News. Amid uncertainty over Messi's future with his contract due to expire in 2021, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner had been linked to Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Inter and United.

- Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is unhappy with Gareth Bale's training, reports Marca. Bale – who was linked with a return to former club Tottenham during the January transfer window – and his intensity at training has reportedly angered Zidane.

- Real Sociedad striker Willian Jose is Barcelona's main target, says Marca. With Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele injured, LaLiga champions Barca are hoping to be granted permission to sign a Spain-based player to fill the void.

- Il Mattino claims United are at the front of the que to sign Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly. The defender has also been linked to Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and City.

Juventus are rushing to make a move for United star Paul Pogba, says Tuttosport. United are reportedly resigned to Pogba leaving and former club Juve are keen to bring the Frenchman back to Turin as Madrid also circle.

Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal is set to join Chile team-mate Alexis Sanchez at Inter next season, claims former Nerazzurri striker Ivan Zamorano.

Vidal was heavily linked to Antonio Conte's Inter before the January transfer window closed, but a move did not materialise.

Sanchez is on loan at Inter from Manchester United until the end of the season and while the Red Devils plan to bring him back to Old Trafford, Zamorano is optimistic two Chileans will be playing for the Serie A club in 2020-21.

"He [Sanchez] has a contract with Manchester United, but we'll see where he wants to continue playing and where he feels happy," Chilean great Zamorano, who won the 1997-98 UEFA Cup with Inter, told Radio Cooperativa.

"The most important thing is that Alexis enjoy his football, because when he was finding form, he got injured. He didn't play much at Manchester and that meant he arrived not fully fit.

"I would like Sanchez to remain in Milan, especially as in June he'll get the chance to play alongside another Chilean, who will very probably come to the club.

"Let's just say I am optimistic we'll see two Chileans at Inter next season and I have some privileged information on that score.

"We all know what Vidal means for Antonio Conte and I am sure in June the club will intensify its efforts to sign him from Barcelona. Inter fans would be very happy to have Arturo."

 

Real Sociedad president Jokin Aperribay said there has been no approach for Willian Jose but added "we all know Barcelona are looking for a striker".

Barca are looking to bolster their attack with Luis Suarez sidelined and Ousmane Dembele set to undergo hamstring surgery on Tuesday.

The LaLiga champions are said to be confident of securing special dispensation from authorities to bring in reinforcements outside of the transfer window following this latest setback.

Sociedad striker Willian Jose – linked to Tottenham and Manchester United during the January transfer window – is reportedly Barca's main target.

"We haven't had any conversation with anyone," Aperribay told Radio MARCA. "I don't know what will happen.

"I have read about it, but it is true that the market has closed. I can't comment much.

"Willian Jose is a player who has attracted interest from several teams in the winter [transfer window] and we all know that Barcelona are looking for a striker.

"I don't know if they'll call us, but they haven't done it yet. He is an important player for us and we would definitely miss him.

"We have many games left and we need everyone."

Willian Jose has scored eight goals in 21 LaLiga appearances for Sociedad this season.

Sociedad are eighth in the league as they prepare for Sunday's Basque derby against Athletic Bilbao, while Barca travel to Real Betis.

Lionel Messi "has every right in the world" to be angry with Eric Abidal, according to former Barcelona star Rivaldo.

Tensions are running high at Camp Nou following a disappointing week of results on the pitch and an apparent dispute between the club captain and the first-team technical secretary.

Messi used a social media post to criticise Abidal after he accused some Barca players of downing tools during Ernesto Valverde's final weeks as head coach.

Messi felt Abidal, a former team-mate at Barca, was "dirtying" the squad by making generalised comments about their efforts without naming any specific players.

The issue has led to suggestions Messi could exercise an option to have his Barca contract cancelled at the end of the season in order to leave on a free transfer, although Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on Friday moved to quash any suggestion he would try to tempt his former player to England.

Rivaldo believes a difficult few days for his old club, compounded by Thursday's Copa del Rey elimination at the hands of Athletic Bilbao, will be swiftly forgotten if the team returns to winning ways quickly.

However, the 1999 Ballon d'Or winner thinks Messi was always likely to jump to the defence of his team-mates after Abidal's "naive" remarks.

"Leo Messi's reaction last Wednesday in which, through his social pages, he criticised Eric Abidal, seems normal to me," he said via Betfair.

"Messi has every right in the world to be angry with Abidal over the way in which he complained about the professionalism of some players in training, especially when he did not mention any specific name.

"That called the whole squad into question. It's hard to talk about this situation from the outside, but Messi just tried to defend the group and himself, maintain his reputation and - at the same time - find out which players Abidal was referring to.

"The latter was naive in saying something like that in an interview that, of course, would have a big impact in the media, forcing Messi to react.

"These types of problems should be solved internally. Abidal didn't do it on purpose but, ultimately, he has hurt the club.

"It's now clear that Ernesto Valverde was not the biggest problem for the club. The biggest loser in all of this is Barca.

"Abidal and Messi should have a conversation, as good people. Abidal is in a difficult situation, especially because the player who reacted to his comments is not just anybody: he's the captain of Barca and a superstar. He's Leo Messi.

"Simply getting back on the road to victories will calm all this."

Abidal also said this week that it was "not impossible" for Barca to bring back Neymar - a transfer Messi is said to have been keen for the club to make last year.

Rivaldo thinks his compatriot, who joined Paris Saint-Germain for a world-record €222million fee in 2017, would be the ideal signing to take some of the pressure off Barca's number 10.

"Barcelona need to find a player who makes the difference when Messi isn't there or it's not his night, as happened at San Mames," he added. "The club should look for a player to accompany him and replace him when necessary and, in my opinion, Neymar is that player.

"Barca should perhaps continue considering signing him next summer. The club isn't responsible for Neymar leaving a couple of years ago.

"It's been a while since then and perhaps it's time for negotiations that allow him to return and spend the best years of his career at Camp Nou."

Pep Guardiola has again insisted he does not want Lionel Messi to leave Barcelona despite speculation he could join Manchester City at the end of the season.

A turbulent week at Camp Nou on and off the pitch has seen Messi's future come under scrutiny.

The club captain called out first-team technical secretary Eric Abidal on social media after the former Barca defender suggested some players had downed tools during Ernesto Valverde's final weeks as head coach.

Messi's response, in which he accused Abidal of "dirtying" the squad and urged him to name names in his criticism, has led to talk that he could utilise his option to have his contract cancelled at the end of 2019-20 and walk away from Barca for free.

Thursday's Copa del Rey exit at the hands of Athletic Bilbao has only heightened the uncertainty around Messi's future, with City reportedly monitoring the situation with a view to making him an offer.

Guardiola has always previously maintained he would not bring Messi to Etihad Stadium, though, and the former Barca boss made it clear again on Friday that he expects the 32-year-old to finish his career at Camp Nou.

"Messi is a player for Barcelona," Guardiola told reporters ahead of Sunday's Premier League game against West Ham. 

"He will stay there. That is my wish. I am not going to talk about players at another club.

"I think he will finish his career there."

Barcelona have been branded "a club of clowns" by Christophe Dugarry after a dismal week for the club culminated in Copa del Rey elimination.

A 1-0 quarter-final loss to Athletic Bilbao at San Mames on Thursday was the latest blow for Barca in a turbulent period.

After failing to sign an attacker before the end of the January transfer deadline, Ousmane Dembele suffered a hamstring tear that requires surgery and is expected to miss the rest of campaign.

Sporting director Eric Abidal also gave an interview in which he cited a lack of effort being put in by some players as a motivating factor for the dismissal of Ernesto Valverde, which drew the ire of Lionel Messi.

There have consequently been reports Messi could leave Camp Nou at the end of the season, and Dugarry – who spent six months at Barca in the 1997-98 season – was scathing in his criticism of the way the club has been run in recent years.

"It's a club of clowns. Everything is done backwards," Dugarry said on RMC Sport.

"They buy [Philippe] Coutinho, Dembele, they buy guys and then sell them. You get the impression there is no project in this club.

"At every transfer window there is a problem. They've recruited very badly since the departures of Xavi and [Andres] Iniesta. They've spent loads.

"And above all they have a very bad image. There are far too many people who do not have the elegance, the class that there should be at a club of this standing.

"It's really a club that has no class."

Jordi Alba joined Lionel Messi in calling out Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal for "throwing s***" within the club.

Abidal this week said in an interview with Catalan publication Sport that Barca took the decision to sack Ernesto Valverde after he and his colleagues identified "many players weren't satisfied nor working hard and there was also an internal communication problem".

Messi was disappointed the former left-back chose to tar all members of the squad with the same brush and did not specify names in his remarks.

Barca boss Quique Setien said on Wednesday the six-time Ballon d'Or winner remains happy at the club, with speculation mounting that he could opt to leave at the end of the season.

However, a 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Thursday was the latest blow for the club, who this week announced Ousmane Dembele will undergo surgery on a hamstring problem that is expected to rule him out of the rest of the campaign.

Speaking after the game at San Mames, Alba followed Messi's lead and claimed Abidal should have known better.

"This club gets enough s*** thrown at it from the outside so we shouldn't be throwing s*** at ourselves. That is the line to follow," said Alba.

"Abidal was a player, he is loved by the fans and that's why he should know what it's like inside the dressing room and how players feel."

Sergio Busquets headed the ball into his own net in the 93rd minute in Bilbao but Alba was pleased with the club's display.

"I think he had a very good game, one of the best of the season. It's a shame we lost at the last minute, but that's football," he said.

"I'm very proud of the team, especially for the level of the game. We have to continue like this.

"It's clearly the right path, we only missed the win. We played well, with possession and very clear openings. The result is a pity."

A return to Barcelona could be on the cards for Adama Traore.

Wolves star Traore has taken the Premier League and Europe by storm with his performances this season.

Barcelona's LaLiga rivals Real Madrid are also reportedly interested.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA AND MADRID EYE TRAORE

Barcelona are plotting a move to bring Wolves star Adama Traore back to Camp Nou, according to the Daily Mail.

LaLiga rivals Real Madrid are also interested in Spanish winger Traore, who left Barca in 2015.

Wolves are set to command a big transfer fee for Traore amid links to Manchester City and Liverpool, having signed the 24-year-old from Middlesbrough two years ago.

 

ROUND-UP

- Gazzetta dello Sport claims Manchester United are interested in trying to prise Lionel Messi from Barcelona. There are doubts over Messi's future following his row with sporting director Eric Abidal. City, Paris Saint-Germain, Inter and Juventus have also been mentioned as possible destinations for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

United have given the green light to sell Paul Pogba, says The Sun. Linked to Madrid and Juventus, the Red Devils are ready to part with Pogba for £150million.

Juventus and Paulo Dybala are working on a contract extension, reports Tuttosport. Tied to Juve until 2022, the Serie A champions want to keep the in-form attacker until 2025.

- L'Equipe reports Thiago Silva wants to stay at PSG but the Ligue 1 champions want to offload the 35-year-old defender in an attempt to free up some of the wage budget.

United have been turned off by Lautaro Martinez's £94m (€110.7m) release clause, according to The Times. The Inter striker has been heavily linked to Barca as a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez.

- The Telegraph says Leicester City are leading the race to sign Liverpool's Adam Lallana, who is out of contract at the end of the season. Tottenham, Arsenal and West Ham have also reportedly been tracking the England midfielder.

- According to Fotomac, Galatasaray striker Radamel Falcao is wanted by Saudi Arabian giants Al Hilal. Falcao only moved to Istanbul at the start of the season.

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