Rumour Has It: Man Utd prepared to walk away from Sancho transfer

By Sports Desk August 05, 2020

Will Manchester United sign Jadon Sancho or not?

That is the question dominating headlines as United reportedly negotiate with Borussia Dortmund.

This transfer saga is one to watch.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED READY TO END SANCHO PURSUIT

Manchester United are threatening to walk away from a deal to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to reports in England.

Sancho has been tipped to swap Dortmund for United, with Bild claiming a lucrative five-year contract has been agreed as the Bundesliga outfit insist on a €120million (£108m) fee.

But Goal, Sky Sports and The Mirror say United are ready to pursue alternatives of Dortmund do not lower their demands.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Guardian reports Leicester City are trying to sign Francisco Trincao from Barcelona. Leicester have proposed a two-season loan deal with an obligation to buy for £45m (€50m). Trincao is preparing to link up with Barca after the LaLiga giants signed the 20-year-old from Braga in January.

- Premier League champions Liverpool are eyeing a move for Norwich City left-back  Jamal Lewis, says The Mirror. Lewis impressed in 2019-20 as Norwich were relegated and Liverpool are looking to wrap up a £10m deal.

- Gianluca Di Marzio claims Tottenham right-back Serge Aurier is open to joining Serie A side Milan.

- According to Tuttomercatoweb, Juventus are lining up possible replacements for under-fire head coach Maurizio Sarri. Former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi, Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini and Luciano Spalletti have all been linked.

-  Aston Villa are aiming to keep star captain and rumoured United target Jack Grealish by offering a new contract, reports The Sun.

- Linked with United , Everton and Napoli, France Bleu Nord claims Arsenal are leading the race for Lille centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes.

- Is Federico Chiesa set for Old Trafford? La Nazione reports United have made a €55m (£49m) offer for the Fiorentina forward, who has also been linked to Inter, Juve and Chelsea .

- Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake is poised to complete his move to Manchester City. Fabrizio Romano reports there is a total agreement and a medical will take place in the next couple of days.

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    He might not have buried the hatchet, but Lionel Messi has promised Barcelona he will give his all in the coming season.

    His attempt to leave the club, played out in public long before he spoke openly about his plans, ended with him accepting he will spend at least one more year at Camp Nou.

    Messi is still angry with president Josep Maria Bartomeu, still upset with the way the team has declined since 2015's treble, but he was smiling again when he played in the 3-1 friendly win over Gimnastic, a grin that gladdened the hearts of Barca fans across the world.

    So, with exit talks on ice, the focus is once more on how Messi can carry this team to domestic and European success while the impact of that 8-2 battering by Bayern Munich last month still lingers.

    He managed 31 goals and 25 assists last season, the latter number his highest such tally in five years, the former the lowest. He completed more dribbles per game than ever (5.91) but recorded his lowest shots-per-game tally in at least five years (4.57).

    The freescoring sensation of his earlier years is past; he is now creator-in-chief, a deeper-lying attacking menace, on whom the pressure is arguably greater than ever after years of mismanagement of the playing squad from those above.

    So, what can we expect from 2020-21, the season that may come to be known as Lionel Messi's "Last Dance"?

     

    THE RECORDS HE HOLDS

    This is just a handful, of course.

    Messi is the all-time leading goalscorer in LaLiga with 444. In Europe's top-five leagues, only long-time adversary Cristiano Ronaldo has more (447).

    In all competitions for Barca, Messi has scored 634 goals and provided 254 assists in 731 appearances. That puts him on 888 goal involvements for the club - a tally nobody even comes close to matching.

    Messi has scored at least 30 goals in each of the last 12 seasons and is the only player to score at least 10 in 14 consecutive LaLiga campaigns. He holds the record for the most in a single season, too: he scored 50 in 2011-12.

    And, of course, he is the only man to win the Ballon d'Or six times.

     

    THE RECORDS THAT BECKON

    If Messi features in 31 of Barca's 38 LaLiga matches, he will eclipse Xavi's record of 505 appearances for the club in Spain's top flight. He will also surpass Xavi for games in all competitions for the Catalans (767) if he plays 37 times overall.

    Messi will close on the LaLiga record held by Manolo Sanchis for the most appearances at a single club in the division, but he will need more than one season for that - Messi is on 485, while ex-Real Madrid man Sanchis played 523 times.

    Of course, Messi will be desperate for trophies this season after a barren 2019-20, and winning two will see him draw level with Ryan Giggs when it comes to titles won with the same club. Giggs won 36 with Manchester United.

    But how about this for a feat: if Messi gets 10 goals this season - and let's face it, there's a good chance - he will set a new record for goals scored for the same club in official competitions. The current best is 643, set by a former Santos forward known as Pele.

     

    THE PROBLEMS HE FACES

    After the friendly win over Gimnastic, Koeman made it clear he plans to deviate from Barca's traditional 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 that will, hopefully, get the best out of their midfielders. Such a system would presumably see Messi stationed as the number 10, behind a central striker.

    Perhaps that's no bad thing: Messi, as a false nine under Pep Guardiola, played the most games (219) and scored the most goals (211) of his career in all competitions. His role under successor Tito Vilanova was similar and yielded 60 goals in 50 games, giving him a career-best average of 1.2 goals per game.

    His most prolific season - 2011-12, the last under Guardiola - saw Messi record an astonishing 73 goals and 29 assists, leading to his calendar-year record of 79 goals in 2012. Again, that was from a central position in the attack, albeit one in a team filled with exceptional players. A shift back to the middle could suit him.

    The trouble is that Messi is increasingly having to do all this himself. The supporting cast has dwindled in quality since 2015 and his most productive relationships are behind him.

    Luis Suarez (47) has the most assists for Messi at Barca and completed his switch to Atletico Madrid this week. To continue a recent theme, his great friend expressed displeasure with the board over the matter. The top five Messi assisters after Suarez have all long left the club: Dani Alves (42), Andres Iniesta (37), Xavi (31), Pedro (25) and Neymar (22). The next on the list is Jordi Alba (21), whose own spot in Koeman's team is not entirely certain.

    He has never looked entirely compatible with Antoine Griezmann, Ansu Fati is still a raw talent in many respects, and the squad will take time to adjust to any new formation, not to mention new arrivals in Miralem Pjanic and, perhaps, Memphis Depay. What's more, the embarrassment of last season's final few weeks will be fresh in the players' minds and the unrest from the boardroom downwards will never be far from the headlines.

    When it comes to carrying this team, Messi has rarely looked so alone.

  • Barcelona still have a squad capable of challenging – Zidane Barcelona still have a squad capable of challenging – Zidane

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    After a trophy-less 2019-20 season, Ronald Koeman is rebuilding the Blaugrana, who have seen the likes of Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic, Arthur and Nelson Semedo leave.

    Philippe Coutinho has returned from his loan spell at Bayern Munich and Miralem Pjanic joined from Juventus, while Lionel Messi ended up staying after requesting a move.

    Zidane, whose Madrid visit Real Betis on Saturday, said Barca were strong enough to again be challenging for titles.

    "I will be respectful. Besides, I don't know what's going on inside, that's why I don't want to get involved," the Madrid coach told a news conference.

    "I think each club has their own issues and difficulties. I think Barcelona, in terms of the team and the squad, is a club who will be fighting for everything.

    "I don't have any doubt."

    Madrid have also seen some changes to their squad, most notably the departures of Gareth Bale (on loan to Tottenham) and James Rodriguez (Everton).

    Bale's relationship with Zidane reportedly deteriorated in recent months, although the Welshman told Sky Sports on Friday he had "no regrets".

    Asked if he had anything to say about Bale, Zidane said: "I'm not going to speak about what Gareth said.

    "Against, what I will say is that we wish him the best for the future and we are focused on ourselves now. That's all."

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    The Croatia international, who arrived at Inter from Wolfsburg in 2015, has again been linked with a move amid reported interest from Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain.

    But, ahead of Inter's Serie A opener against Fiorentina on Saturday, Conte said Perisic had returned with a renewed determination.

    "I am happy for Ivan, because in the end he had an incredible experience with Bayern Munich, a winning one, in which he won three trophies," he told a news conference.

    "Now he's back, with great determination to play for Inter and help us out, to put himself at the service of the team, and I am happy that he's got this desire.

    "Also, because when you've got this kind of determination, this enthusiasm, this desire, in the end everything gets easier for the coach."

    Inter finished second in Serie A last season, but have added the likes of Achraf Hakimi, Arturo Vidal and Aleksandar Kolarov to their squad.

    The arrival of Vidal from Barcelona was confirmed this week as the midfielder reunites with Conte after the pair worked together at Juventus.

    "Arturo Vidal is in good shape, he arrived in good physical condition," Conte said.

    "Tactically, he is a player that has already played with me, but at the same time we're doing new stuff now compared to the past, when he was one of my players.

    "Therefore, he is integrating well, he's a smart player, tactically, physically, he's got a great mindset.

    "In our midfield, he can do everything. He can be one of the two central midfielders, he can play as an offensive one, he can play together with a low playmaker should we decide to do that. He can play in any role and we are happy to have him with us."

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