Rumour Has It: Doubts grow over frustrated Messi, Man Utd resigned to Pogba exit

By Sports Desk February 05, 2020

Eric Abidal's interview tipped Lionel Messi over the edge.

Normally quiet, especially on social media, Messi used Instagram to hit out at Barcelona director of football Abidal, who had earlier suggested some players were not working hard enough prior to Ernesto Valverde's sacking.

Barca superstar Messi is reportedly unhappy with how things are unfolding at Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI TIRED OF BEING BARCA SCAPEGOAT

Lionel Messi is tired of being held responsible for everything that happens at Barcelona amid doubts over his future, according to COPE and Marca.

Contracted until 2021, captain and six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi snapped back at Barcelona director of football Eric Abidal for bad-mouthing players at the club as he discussed Ernesto Valverde's exit.

It comes amid discontent towards the board and Barca's struggles on the pitch.

Clubs in China, the United States and the Middle East would all be interested should the Argentine opt for a change of scenery.

 

ROUND-UP

- Has Paul Pogba played his last game for Manchester United? The Red Devils are resigned to losing Pogba at the end of the season, reports The Mirror. Linked to Real Madrid and former club Juventus, Pogba has not featured since December due to an ongoing ankle problem.

- Staying at Old Trafford and The Mirror says United will prioritise signing Aston Villa star Jack Grealish as fellow midfield target James Maddison nears a new deal with Leicester City.

Atletico Madrid will consider Mauricio Pochettino as their next head coach if they move on from Diego Simeone, reports the Telegraph. Pochettino continues to be linked with United, who are struggling under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

- Standard Sport claims Chelsea will sign Lyon striker Moussa Dembele at the end of the season after failing to land the Frenchman in January.

- Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes is a target for Arsenal, reports The Sun. Arsenal enquired about the 22-year-old Brazilian's availability last month.

Milan snubbed the chance to sign Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic in January, says Calciomercato. Matic is out of contract at season's end but is open to extending his time in Manchester.

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    Former Juventus star Angelo Di Livio has been concerned by the absence of the Bianconeri's usual "unique mentality" at times this season, but talisman Cristiano Ronaldo escaped criticism.

    With the season suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic, Juve are top of Serie A and playing in the last 16 of the Champions League.

    Yet Italy's defending champions have not been entirely convincing this term under Maurizio Sarri, sitting just one point clear of Lazio in the league and trailing Lyon 1-0 after the first leg of their European tie.

    Di Livio, who was part of the last Juve team to win the Champions League in 1995-96, was troubled by their approach to the Lyon game and does not consider them genuine contenders for Europe's top title.

    "Juve are still a long shot from what I have seen this season before COVID," he told Stats Perform News. "They struggled even in Serie A and they have a super Lazio just one point behind them.

    "They are at risk in Serie A as much as in the Champions League against Lyon. They have to come from behind, but I didn't like their approach.

    "Juventus boast a very unique mentality, we all know that. Whoever plays there knows exactly what to do with aggression, grit and love for the shirt.

    "This season they looked a bit prissy, but they still top the league and have a game in hand to topple Lyon."

    Di Livio is at least encouraged by Sarri's recent work at the club, although he was bemused by the departure of previous head coach Massimiliano Allegri.

    "Not many have understood this change at the helm," he said. "You have to respect a winner.

    "I hold Massimiliano Allegri in high esteem because in comparison he looks so similar to Marcello Lippi. He who wins can't be sacked. Allegri was pivotal for that and even for this Juventus.

    "Of course, good luck to Sarri, who has finally understood what it means to manage a club that has to win."

    Ronaldo, Juve's star man, is a role model for his team-mates, according to Di Livio.

    He said: "Cristiano Ronaldo always has to play. You can make him rest once every 15 games. He is admirable and it is proven by all his team-mates who get on so well with him.

    "He is a super champion. He leads by example for his working attitude, his lifestyle, never a problem. Hats off."

  • Mourinho: Tottenham will not spend rivers of money Mourinho: Tottenham will not spend rivers of money

    Jose Mourinho predicted a delayed opening of the transfer window for Premier League clubs and expects there to be a cautious approach to transfer fees out of respect for the global crisis.

    Tottenham are eighth in the Premier League table amid a turbulent 2019-20 season and, should play resume in order to finish the campaign following a break enforced by the coronavirus pandemic, supporters will expect improvements.

    Mourinho said his players are keen to return to action but moved to cool any expectations of a bumper transfer window at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

    "The first question after that is when will the transfer window be?" Mourinho told Sky Sports. "I don't think it will be in July or August anymore, it has to go further than that.

    "It is normal you are going to have a different market, I don't see the world – especially the football world – ready for some crazy numbers we used to have.

    "I would like my club to be what I know what we will be: sensible, balanced and not going to spend rivers of money. We are trying to respect the situation, not just the football but the situation in the world and society overall."

     

    Tottenham have returned to training following a two-and-a-half-month break and Mourinho said that the club's focus is on the health of his players rather than plans for the transfer window.

    "To be honest in this moment it is the last thing we are thinking," he said.

    "In the club we are not thinking about it. No talks about it, because in this moment we think about safety, following every rule inside of the training ground, we are trying to be perfect, not just in the testing but in everything in the club, we are trying to be perfect.

    "Since the moment Bundesliga started, the Portuguese league and Spanish league announced a date to start, I think it is the most difficult moment for us, because we want to play.

    "It is hard to see other countries playing football and we don't do it."

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    Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has warned of "a real problem" looming for many French clubs if the decision to cancel the 2019-20 season is not overturned.

    Aulas has been vocal in his opposition to voiding the remainder of the Ligue 1 campaign, which left Lyon in seventh place in the table and without a spot in next season's Champions League.

    Having seen the Bundesliga resume the 2019-20 season and with the Premier League, LaLiga, and Serie A potentially following suit, Aulas said French football could find itself being left behind.

    Defending his decision to appeal against the cancellation of the season by writing to the French prime minister and sports minister, Aulas told Franceinfo: "We see an abnormal difference in competitiveness between European countries.

    "[There will be] between 800 and 900 million euro losses as of June 30 for French football.

    "As we were unable to show our good faith as we would have wanted, or show that it made economic sense and the best thing for Europe to finish all our games, so unfortunately we've had to seek an alternative in the interest of those immediately concerned and in the general interest."

    Lyon finished third in 2018-19 and were still in the Champions League and the Coupe de la Ligue when football in France was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Aulas indicated the financial impact of the season's termination would not cause Lyon serious problems, but he said French clubs would lose out in the transfer market.

    "Obviously, transfers will be put on hold. It's looking like we will have to stop the championship so players will not be seen," he said.

    "Clubs which can eventually invest, well clubs abroad have had their season put back and they will finish it later. This is all going to cause a real problem for French clubs – a loss of several hundred million euros.

    "Transfers agreed a few years ago also may not be honoured, so it's going to cause problems. Many French clubs will be in financial difficulties."

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