New Everton signing Allan is one of the best defensive midfielders in world football, according to Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti.

Everton confirmed the signing of Allan from Napoli on Saturday, with the 29-year-old having penned a three-year contract at Goodison Park.

Allan was one of the most consistent performers for the Serie A side under both Maurizio Sarri and Ancelotti, but fell out of favour under Gennaro Gattuso.

Ancelotti was keen to be reunited with the Brazil international – who has made nine appearances for his country – at Everton, and a deal reportedly worth £22.2million (€25m) plus add-ons was struck.

While deals for Real Madrid's James Rodriguez and Watford's Abdoulaye Doucoure are thought to be close, Ancelotti has hailed Allan, who watched his new side beat Preston North End 2-0 in a friendly on Saturday, as one of the best players in his position.

"[I am] happy for this," Ancelotti told reporters. "I think that it was not easy to find a deal but, in the end, we were able to do it and I think he will prove to be a fantastic player for us with quality and ability.

"For sure, I have no doubt. He is a player who will show a lot of energy on the pitch. He is very good tactically, good with the ball and good without the ball. He is a fantastic signing for us.

"He is going to put strength in midfield. This is his best quality. For this reason, all the players we have with quality are going to improve for being with him. He is not just a player for himself. He is a player whose energy can make the others better.

"He's very aggressive. Defensively, he is really good. My personal opinion is that he is one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. He is intelligent tactically and he has got a lot of energy. One against one, he is really strong."

Paris Saint-Germain attempted to sign Allan in 2019, when Napoli – then coached by Ancelotti – rejected a reported €60m offer, with the Ligue 1 champions instead signing Idrissa Gueye, a move which left a void in Everton's midfield last season.

"Yes, [PSG] tried to sign him but I didn't want him to leave so he stayed with me," Ancelotti, who was pictured with Colombia star James in a Liverpool hotel on Friday, added. 

"I don't know whether it was [€60m], I'm not focused about the money. There was a deal and I think that Everton are happy to have this deal! Napoli were not happy that they had to let him leave."

Could Antoine Griezmann leave Camp Nou now that Lionel Messi has committed to Barcelona for the 2020-21 season?

Griezmann endured a difficult first season at Barca following his arrival from Atletico Madrid.

Liverpool and Manchester United are among the teams who could tempt the Frenchman.

 

TOP STORY –  LIVERPOOL, UNITED CONSIDER GRIEZMANN

Liverpool and Manchester United are eyeing Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann, according to the Daily Mail.

Griezmann had reportedly been promised a leading role by new head coach Ronald Koeman had Lionel Messi left the club, but Barca's captain will remain at Camp Nou in 2020-21.

With Messi saying put, Premier League champions Liverpool, United and Arsenal are believed to be considering moves for Griezmann.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Guardian claims Manchester City are preparing a second bid for Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly. Pep Guardiola's City are hopeful they can find a compromise as United also reportedly eye the star defender.

- Sunday's La Gazzetta Sportiva is dominated by Barcelona pair Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal. Suarez is poised to join Serie A champions Juventus, while Vidal is set to move to Antonio Conte's Inter.

- While Suarez is reportedly close to swapping Barca for Juve, the Italian giants are considering alternatives if the deal falls through. AS Diario says Juve are weighing up Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Morata, while Roma's Edin Dzeko and former Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani have also been linked.

- According to Le10 Sport, Rennes are in discussions with Inter defender Diego Godin. The 34-year-old just finished his first season in Milan.

Milan remain one of the most active teams in the transfer market. Calciomercarto reports the Rossoneri have held talks with agent Fali Ramadani regarding Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic, while Real Madrid forward Luka Jovic is still of interest to the club.

- Norwegian journalist Fredrik A.N. Filtvedt says United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had spoken to Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho many times and the England international wants to leave for Old Trafford.

Wolves have pulled off what will likely be one of the coups of the transfer window in securing a club-record deal for the highly rated Fabio Silva.

The 18-year-old forward joins in a reported €40million (£35.6m) transfer, signing a five-year contract to further expand Wolves' significant Portuguese contingent.

Executive chairman Jeff Shi confirmed his signing had come at the request of head coach Nuno Espirito Santo and it sees Wolves secure a talent strongly linked with Real Madrid and Liverpool in the past.

The deal makes Silva the seventh costliest teenager in history, and he joins illustrious company, as outlined below…

Kylian Mbappe: Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain - €180m

Likely to remain the world's most expensive teenage signing for some time, Kylian Mbappe is already well on the way to justifying the €180m outlay PSG made to prise him away from Monaco three years ago. Mbappe had fired Monaco to a shock Ligue 1 title triumph before departing and his goals have continued to flow in the French capital. Still just 21, Mbappe has arguably eclipsed team-mate Neymar already, while he has won a World Cup with France. Pele has acknowledged comparisons with the forward, who looks a certain Ballon d'Or winner in the near future. It would take a world-record fee to buy Mbappe, but he has hinted he could be open to leaving PSG.

Joao Felix: Benfica to Atletico Madrid - €126m

Potentially rivalling Mbappe for top individual honours in the years to come could be Joao Felix, who was tasked with replacing Antoine Griezmann at Atletico Madrid following his move to Barcelona. Joao Felix hit 20 goals in all competitions for Benfica in 2018-19, three of those strikes coming in the Europa League, to announce himself among the world's top talents. He endured a difficult first season in Spain, as he appeared to struggle with a new position, setup and philosophy under Diego Simeone's tutelage, but some promising flashes towards the end of the campaign suggested the player compared to Kaka could establish himself in 2020-21.

Matthijs de Ligt: Ajax to Juventus - €85.5m

Barcelona were linked with De Ligt, having already sealed a deal for club and country team-mate Frenkie de Jong, but the Ajax captain instead opted for Serie A. Much like Joao Felix at Atletico, De Ligt did not have the most convincing of debut seasons, despite Juve going on to win another Serie A title. Nevertheless, after a year bedding in, 2020-21 might see the Dutchman recapture his best form as he will likely become an even more central figure under Andrea Pirlo.

Anthony Martial: Monaco to Manchester United - €60m

Eyebrows were raised when United parted with €60m for Martial in 2015, with one British newspaper describing the deal as a "waste of money" in a back-page splash. While it might have taken him a while - after a blistering start - to properly establish himself, struggling particularly under Jose Mourinho, the Frenchman is beginning to make good on his potential at 24. With 17 goals in 32 Premier League games in 2019-20, Martial appeared to cement himself as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first-choice centre-forward and formed a dynamic front three with Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood. He also earned a recall to the France squad, with 2020-21 looking like a season of endless possibilities for Martial.


Rodrygo Goes: Santos to Real Madrid - €45m

Real Madrid have been signing young talent in recent seasons in a departure from their Galactico-focused days, although the arrival of Eden Hazard did show they are still willing to splash out on ready-made superstars. Rodrygo Goes linked up with Zinedine Zidane's squad for 2019-20 having remained on loan with Santos after completing his initial transfer to the Spanish giants. The tricky forward showed plenty of promise in his first season and seemed to usurp Vinicius Junior in the pecking order at times. Madrid hope he can be their Neymar.


Vinicius Junior: Flamengo to Real Madrid - €45m

Rodrygo followed in the footsteps of fellow Brazilian Vinicius, who was a rare shining light for Madrid in 2018-19, scoring two LaLiga goals. In his second season, Vinicius was in and out of the team, but did enjoy a few stints of regular football. Flashy, flamboyant and difficult to tackle, Vinicius is a classic Brazilian wide player, though concerns about his end product remain despite having been at the club for a while now. Nevertheless, Vinicius could be Madrid's future along with Rodrygo.

Fabio Silva: Porto to Wolves - €40m

Silva became Porto's youngest-ever player in 2019 when he made his debut for the first-team less than a month after his 17th birthday – the previous record-holder was his new Wolves team-mate, Ruben Neves. The technically gifted forward, who has been suggested as the potential long-term heir to Cristiano Ronaldo, helped Porto to UEFA Youth League success in 2018-19 and has regularly caught the eye in Portugal's youth setup. Although he only scored three times in 20 appearances with Porto in 2019-20, Silva appears destined for a future at the top, with his technique and on-the-ball talents seemingly a good fit for Wolves' dynamic attacking options.

Luke Shaw: Southampton to Manchester United - €37.5m

Like Martial, Luke Shaw is another player who seems to have laboured under a large price tag at times. Shaw also had a fractious relationship with Mourinho but made the United left-back spot his own with 29 Premier League starts in 2018-19. The 24-year-old remained a regular last term, despite the emergence of Brandon Williams, and managed to stay relatively injury-free, but one rarely gets the impression his position in the squad is absolutely certain, particularly given his attacking output lacks in comparison to the world's best full-backs.


Wayne Rooney: Everton to Manchester United - €37m

Wayne Rooney certainly repaid his fee – he was British football's most expensive teenager – becoming United's all-time leading goalscorer and winning five Premier League titles at the club, as well as the 2007-08 Champions League. Rooney will go down as a United great despite affairs such as agitating for a move and falling out with Alex Ferguson. Rooney dropped out of favour in the latter years of his time at Old Trafford and was also sidelined for England, with a return to boyhood club Everton failing to spark. But joining MLS strugglers DC United was a clever move and Rooney helped inspire their rise. Now 34, he is back in England with Derby County.


Renato Sanches: Benfica to Bayern Munich - €35m

Bayern thought they were signing a player who would become one of the era's dominant midfielders when they snapped up Renato Sanches from Benfica, but the transfer did not work out at all. Bayern bought Sanches before he won Euro 2016 with Portugal but, four years later, that remains the highlight of his career. Sanches flopped in a loan spell with Swansea City in the Premier League and quickly appeared surplus to requirements at Bayern. He eventually secured a permanent move away last year when Die Roten recouped €25m for him - applaudable given his form - when selling him to Lille. But in France he seems to have found his feet again, enjoying a solid debut season and attracting interest from around Europe.

Carlo Ancelotti continues to overhaul his Everton squad after the club confirmed the signing of Allan from Napoli on Saturday.

Allan – who struggled for game time under Genarro Gattuso at Napoli – was thought to be a priority signing for Ancelotti in this window, with the Italian keen to be reunited with his former player.

Ancelotti has now got his wish, with Allan, a combative midfielder capped nine times by Brazil, joining Everton on a three-year contract for a reported fee of £22.2million (€25m) plus add-ons.

"It is a real pleasure to sign for Everton. I am immensely happy to be here," Allan told evertontv. "I hope, like I have done in my entire career, I contribute with my performances together with my team-mates and that I put in some great games, great performances and win important things. 

"It is a club with a rich history in the Premier League, has real ambition and then there is Professor Ancelotti. 

"He has done everything possible to bring me here. 

"It is the size of the club and the name of the coach which means you don't think twice about coming to Everton."

The 29-year-old, who made 23 Serie A appearances last season, scoring one goal, is also reportedly set to be joined by Real Madrid's James Rodriguez and Watford's Abdoulaye Doucoure.

Allan's arrival, along with the expected additions of James and Doucoure, has cast further doubt over the futures of some of Everton's squad, with the Toffees said to be open to offers for Theo Walcott, Bernard, Fabian Delph and Gylfi Sigurdsson – the club's record signing.

Muhamed Besic, Yannick Bolasie and Sandro Ramirez – who spent last season out on loan – are also for sale.

Everton begin their 2020-21 Premier League campaign at Tottenham on September 13.

As Luis Suarez seemingly nears a Barcelona exit, the LaLiga giants could be getting close to two additions.

Barca were given a huge boost on Friday as star Lionel Messi announced he would stay at the club for another season.

But there are still set to be moves at Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA CLOSE TO DEPAY, WIJNALDUM DEALS

Barcelona are close to deals for Lyon star Memphis Depay and Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, according to AD.

Depay and Wijnaldum have been reported to be targets for Barca, who are rebuilding under Ronald Koeman after a tumultuous 2019-20 season.

Goal reports Barcelona are confident of landing Wijnaldum, who is out of contract next year.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Barcelona rebuild is set to see several exits, however. BBC reports Suarez has agreed a deal with Serie A champions Juventus.

- With Messi staying at Barcelona, perhaps Manchester City will turn their focus elsewhere. Gianluca Di Marzio reports the Premier League giants are set to make a new offer – of at least £66.8million (€75m) – for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

- The other half of Manchester are enduring frustrations of their own. The Daily Star reports Manchester United are preparing to walk away from a deal for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho due to the Bundesliga club wanting £110m (€123.5m) for the forward.

- Arsenal could face competition for Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey. ESPN reports Paris Saint-Germain have joined the Premier League club in the race for Partey.

- While Zlatan Ibrahimovic is staying at Milan, the Serie A club may be looking for more firepower. Tuttosport reports they are again considering a move for Real Madrid forward Luka Jovic, who struggled in his first season in the Spanish capital.

- Also at Milan and Fabrizio Romano reports they are close to reaching an agreement with Chelsea for midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko. It would be a loan for €3m (£2.7m) with an option to buy for €30m (£26.7m).

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis confirmed Kalidou Koulibaly and Arkadiusz Milik would leave if the right offers came in.

Koulibaly has been linked with a move to Manchester City, while Roma are reportedly the frontrunners to sign Milik.

Speaking on Wednesday, De Laurentiis said the duo would depart Napoli for the right price.

"Koulibaly and Milik are both leaving, market permitting," he told Canale 21.

"So, if the market allows these two talented players to leave, we will know how to replace them.

"Otherwise, we will talk about them next year."

Koulibaly, 29, has developed into one of Europe's leading centre-backs since arriving at Napoli from Genk in 2014.

The Senegal international is contracted until 2023, but has been linked with a £57.7million (€65m) move to City.

Milik, meanwhile, has spent four seasons at Napoli and netted 14 goals in 35 games in all competitions in 2019-20.

Arsenal have completed the signing of defender Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille, the clubs have confirmed.

The Brazilian centre-back has agreed a long-term contract with the Gunners and will reportedly cost €30million (£27.7m).

"We welcome Gabriel to Arsenal. He has many qualities which will make us stronger as a defensive unit and as a team," said head coach Mikel Arteta.

"He has proved with Lille that he is a defender with many outstanding attributes and we are looking forward to watching him grow as an Arsenal player."

Technical director Edu added: "We are delighted to have signed Gabriel. He is a player we have been studying for a while and he was in demand from many clubs, so we are proud to have agreed and completed this transfer with Lille and the player.

"Gabriel is a player of high quality and Mikel and his coaches are looking forward to integrating him into the club."

With Arsenal plagued by defensive issues for much of 2019-20, they had long looked set to invest in reinforcements for their backline and Gabriel is the first.

The 22-year-old earned rave reviews in Ligue 1 last season, becoming a regular part of Christophe Galtier's back four as he featured in 24 of their 28 top-flight matches before the campaign was curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Lille conceded 27 times over the course of the domestic season, with only Paris Saint-Germain, Rennes and Reims boasting better defensive records.

Gabriel had been linked with Arsenal for several weeks, though Napoli emerged as competition for him and Manchester United were also briefly linked.

The move highlights a significant ascension for Gabriel, who only broke into Lille's first team in the 2018-19 season.

After joining the club in 2017 he spent loan spells with Troyes and Dinamo Zagreb, before returning and eventually forming a solid partnership with Jose Fonte.

He becomes Arsenal's second new arrival since the end of 2019-20, following compatriot Willian, who joined on a free transfer from Chelsea.

Arsenal have completed the signing of defender Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille, the clubs have confirmed.

Napoli have denied their players undergo cryotherapy treatment in dirty rubbish bins.

The Serie A club responded to the suggestion after a photo of players using tall bins for ice baths during a training session was shared on social media.

Napoli insisted it is common practice among elite clubs and, in addition, fulfils the requirements set out in measures to combat the spread of coronavirus.

"It's embarrassing how some sections of the media have reported the news that Napoli players have been undergoing cryotherapy in rubbish bins, without at least verifying the reasons behind this initiative and whether it was [head coach Gennaro] Gattuso's idea or a common practice," they posted on Twitter.

"We will do the work which hasn't been done, shall we? Question: why are you using bins? Because there is much more space and the players are submerged up to their waists. Also, bins are in line with the anti-COVID protocols as each player is submerged alone.

"Question: are the bins clean or dirty? Obviously, not only are they clean, but also new, unused and are sanitised three times a day.

"Question: are you the only club to use this method? No, many teams do.

"Question: so it wasn't Gattuso's idea? No."

Napoli finished seventh in Serie A and were knocked out of the Champions League in the last 16 last season but qualified for the 2020-21 Europa League by winning the Coppa Italia.

With Donny van de Beek set to arrive, are Manchester United targeting another new signing?

RB Leipzig defender and France international Dayot Upamecano is reportedly high on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's list as the United manager eyes a partner for captain Harry Maguire.

It could be a busy transfer window for United.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED WANT UPAMECANO

Manchester United are targeting RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano, according to ESPN.

United are poised to complete the signing of star Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek and the Red Devils are now eyeing further recruits.

While United continue to pursue Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho, the Premier League giants have made French defender Upamecano – who signed a new deal until 2023 – a top transfer target. Upamecano has also been linked to the likes of Bayern Munich and Arsenal.

 

ROUND-UP

Lionel Messi wants to leave Barcelona but his possible move to Manchester City could prove difficult. Tuesday's Mundo Deportivo claims City will abandon their bid to bring Messi to Manchester if they are forced to pay a transfer fee for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner. Messi feels he is a free agent following the 2019-20 season.

- Fabrizio Romano reports United expect to receive a bid from Roma for defender Chris Smalling, who spent the 2019-20 season on loan in the Italian capital. It comes as the Red Devils eye a new centre-back.

- Sky Sport reports Milan are set to complete a one-year loan deal for Real Madrid's Brahim Diaz. The 21-year-old Spaniard has struggled for game time since arriving in 2019. Le10 Sport, meanwhile, says Milan are very interested in Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare, who has been previously linked to the likes of United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Madrid.

James Rodriguez is on the cusp of leaving Madrid for Carlo Ancelotti's Everton, according to Romano.

- Calciomercato claims Juventus forward Gonzalo Higuain is in advanced talks to join former team-mate Blaise Matuidi at David Beckham's Inter Miami in MLS.

Arturo Vidal wants to terminate his Barca contract, says Sky Sport Italia. Gianluca Di Marzio also reports Inter are already in talks about signing the former Juve midfielder.

- France Football says Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly has agreed personal terms with City amid interest from United and PSG.

Piotr Zielinski has signed a new contract at Napoli, keeping him at Stadio San Paolo until 2024.

The Poland international joined Napoli from Udinese in a reported €16million move in 2016 and has since become a mainstay in the Partenopei midfield.

Zielinski, 26, featured in 37 of the club's 38 Serie A games last season, scoring twice.

And he has now committed his future to Napoli, who are set to lose midfield colleague Allan to Everton.

Allan will join Everton, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has confirmed.

Brazil international Allan is set to finally depart Napoli in a reported £25million (€27.9m) deal after repeated talk of a move away from the Serie A club in recent years.

A €100m transfer to Paris Saint-Germain was mooted in 2019 when Carlo Ancelotti was in charge of the Partenopei.

But Allan is instead now heading to Merseyside to link up with Ancelotti again at Goodison Park, De Laurentiis says.

He told Radio Kiss Kiss: "We are at the final greetings. Allan will go to Everton."

Allan, 29, joined Napoli from Udinese in 2015 and has since made over 150 Serie A appearances for the club, also winning the Coppa Italia last season.

Everton have also been widely linked with a move for James Rodriguez, another of Ancelotti's former players, from Real Madrid.

Manchester City appear favourites to sign Lionel Messi, should he leave Barcelona.

Messi has sensationally handed in a transfer request at Camp Nou.

City are reportedly stepping up their chase as Pep Guardiola looks to reunite with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

TOP STORY – CITY PREPARE MEGA OFFER FOR MESSI

Manchester City are ready to offer £89million (€100m) plus Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus and Eric Garcia for Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, according to Sport.

Messi wants to end his association with embattled LaLiga giants Barca amid links to City, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.

The Guardian also claims City are convinced they have a chance of signing the superstar captain.

ROUND-UP

- Goal says Barca forward Luis Suarez has been offered to Juventus as the Serie A champions consider a move. Suarez has reportedly been told he is not part of Ronald Koeman's plans.

Barca offered Antoine Griezmann to former club Atletico Madrid in exchange for Joao Felix, reports Marca.

- Gianluca Di Marzio says Milan have made a new bid to sign Brescia sensation Sandro Tonali. The Italy midfielder has been linked to Inter, though the Nerazzurri are yet to reach any agreement with Brescia as they eye Barca's Arturo Vidal.

Inter, meanwhile, have opened talks with Roma to sign veteran full-back Aleksandar Kolarov, according to Fabrizio Romano. Chelsea's Emerson Palmieri has also been targeted but Inter are refusing to meet their demands.

- The Mirror claims Tottenham are weighing up a move for Atletico striker Diego Costa. Jose Mourinho worked with Costa during the pair's time together at Chelsea. Sky Sport Italia also reports Spurs have had a request for Nicolo Zaniolo rejected by Roma.

City remain in talks to sign Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, says Romano. Negotiations are taking place indirectly following the fallout from Jorginho's switch to Chelsea in 2018, having been set for City.

- Bayern Munich veteran Javi Martinez has turned down a move to Fiorentina as he is close to joining David Silva at Real Sociedad, says La Razon.

- Liverpool star Sadio Mane has been offered to Barca amid uncertainty over Messi's future, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

Mikel Arteta is feeling "pretty positive" about Arsenal's chances of concluding a deal for Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes and is excited by the prospect of signing the Brazilian. 

Gabriel, 22, has been strongly linked with Arsenal for several weeks following an impressive season in Ligue 1, with reports suggesting an agreement on a €30million (£27.7m) move is close. 

Arsenal had defensive issues for much of the 2019-20 campaign and always appeared destined to invest in reinforcements – and Gabriel looks certain to be the next new face to arrive at the club. 

Although still somewhat inexperienced, Arteta is thrilled that a switch for the centre-back is close to completion. 

"Regarding Gabriel, we cannot announce anything yet, the deal is not finalised - you all know he is a player that we have followed for a long time and hopefully we can get it done," Arteta told reporters on Thursday ahead of the Community Shield clash with Liverpool. 

"Everything is okay once both parties sign, and the player agrees the terms and he goes through the medical - sometimes that, in the final stages, is not as easy as it looks, but we are pretty positive that we can do it.

"When we get it done, I will be very pleased. He's a player that we've followed and we're very determined that it was the right profile for us to improve our squad. If we are able to finalise it, we will be delighted."

Asked exactly how close the club are to sealing the transfer, Arteta replied: "We are trying to finalise a deal. That's what I can tell you at the moment." 

Arsenal are also keen on securing a return to the club for Dani Ceballos, who spent 2019-20 on loan from Real Madrid and excelled under Arteta towards the end of the season. 

"Well, we had some talks and Dani knows really well what I think about him," Arteta added. 

"He was pretty clear with me as well that his intention was to remain with us, but obviously Real Madrid is involved and I don't know yet what they want to do with the player. 

"But he's a player that we are interested in because we really saw, in the last few months of the season, what he is capable of bringing to us."

Lionel Messi has told Barcelona he wants to leave the club. The end of an era is, seemingly, in sight and that will usher in a strange new world, for Barca and his next employers.

Unsurprisingly, debates have raged ever since the news came to light on Tuesday, with Barca receiving communication that their talisman, the most iconic player in their modern history, wants out.

In some ways it was predictable. The turmoil engulfing Barca's hierarchy and their decision making in the past few years looked destined to come to a head – there would be major consequences, and Messi leaving was always going to be the worst-case scenario.

Whether he does or not is a different matter. Some believe his request is a power-play to oust president Josep Maria Bartomeu early, and there are plenty calling for his resignation.

But, for arguably the first time, Messi leaving Barca appears a real possibility What will determine his next destination? Romance? Trophies? Vengeance?

If it's the latter, given almost every football club's Twitter account is throwing their hat in the ring, we have a few tongue-in-cheek destinations in mind, however unlikely they may be…

Real Madrid

Imagine the chaos, the hysteria. If Barca's board have angered him so much, what better way to really get his own back on them? Moving to the Santiago Bernabeu would be a remarkable switch, the ultimate act of vengeance. Luis Figo had a pig's head thrown towards him when he returned to Camp Nou after joining Madrid – you can only wonder at what reception would await Messi if he were to commit the cardinal sin of crossing that divide. 

Stoke City

There is a running joke in England that Messi "wouldn't be able to do it on a wet and windy night in Stoke". It derives from pundit Andy Gray, who in 2010 claimed – without a hint of irony – that Messi would "struggle on a cold night at the Britannia Stadium". His comment became embellished, but was regularly used as a stick to beat Messi with by Premier League fans who wanted to accentuate the physicality of England's elite division. Based on the idea Stoke were scrappy and the city sees more than its fair share of bad weather, as well as the stadium's renown for being windy, it was seen as the Premier League's grimmest away trip. After earning millions every season for the past 15 years or so, why not take a modest deal to prove he can in fact do it on a wet and windy night in Stoke?

Napoli

While Manchester City appear to be leading the chase, Inter are also being strongly linked with Messi. But a different Serie A move that would capture the imagination even more would be joining Napoli. Not only would Messi's arrival get one over on long-standing rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who would no longer be the solo big ticket in Serie A, it would give him the chance dispel some other demons. For much of his career Messi has contended with people saying he's not at Diego Maradona's level – maybe it's time to disprove such claims where El Pibe de Oro left his greatest mark…

Borussia Dortmund

For all of Messi's apparent issues with the Barca board, it seems unlikely that he doesn't still love the club – after all, he was signed up as a 12-year-old. The 8-2 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich earlier this month will have hurt, particularly as it looks like being his final match for the club. How better to get revenge than to move to Die Roten's arch-rivals Dortmund? He could be the final piece of the puzzle that finally overthrows Bayern's Bundesliga dominance.

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