Manchester City are reportedly lining up a move for Lionel Messi in a free transfer amid the star's troubles at Barcelona.

Messi, 32, has been involved in a public disagreement with the club's technical secretary Eric Abidal, leading to immediate questions over his future at Camp Nou.

City, and former boss Pep Guardiola, look ready to make their move.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY EYE MESSI FOR FREE AMID BARCELONA TROUBLES

Manchester City will swoop for Messi for free if the star cannot resolve his problems at Barcelona, according to The Sun.

While Messi is contracted until 2021, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed last year the Argentina international was free to leave after the 2019-20 season.

Messi worked with Guardiola at Barcelona, with the duo winning three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns among numerous other trophies at the club.

ROUND-UP

- There could be major changes coming at Arsenal. The Sun reports Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil are at risk with Arsenal perhaps prepared to sell their stars to finance a spending spree.

- Manchester United and Chelsea are set to go head-to-head in a bid to sign Lyon forward Moussa Dembele at the end of the season, according to The Mirror. Dembele, 23, has scored 12 Ligue 1 goals in 22 matches this season and has been linked with a move to Old Trafford previously.

- Staying in Manchester and City must wait until April to resolve the future of Leroy Sane after the attacker's switch of agent, according to The Telegraph and Bild. Sane is a reported target for Bayern Munich and Manchester City will have to wait to discuss the Germany international's future due to a clause in his deal with his previous agency.

- With Ousmane Dembele facing a long spell on the sidelines, Barcelona are eyeing Girona forward Cristhian Stuani, according to Deportes Cuatro, which reports the 33-year-old Uruguayan has a €20million release clause. Barca would need approval to complete the deal outside the transfer window.

- Could Liverpool have to search for a new back-up goalkeeper? Estadio Deportivo reports Real Betis are considering a move for their former shot-stopper Adrian, who is contracted to the European champions until 2021, with the club holding an option for a further year.

Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold emphasised the value of results over performances following another narrow Premier League victory.

Virgil van Dijk scored two first-half goals, but the title favourites were made to work for Saturday's 2-1 triumph over Brighton and Hove Albion.

Alisson's dismissal for handling the ball outside his box led to a nervy final 15 minutes for substitute goalkeeper Adrian, who saved at full stretch from Aaron Mooy and almost spilled a tame Pascal Gross header into his own net.

Seven of Liverpool's past nine top-flight fixtures have been won by the Reds by a single-goal margin, the exceptions being a 1-1 draw with Manchester United and the 3-1 victory against Manchester City.

But having surged 11 points clear of Pep Guardiola's City side, Alexander-Arnold was paying little thought to the manner of the victory.

"We haven't performed the way we wanted to, but the run we're on is really good," Alexander-Arnold told Liverpool's website.

"We've managed to get another three points, which is important. For us, it's about keeping the momentum up and trying to stretch that run on.

"[It was] a difficult day for us, probably one of the most difficult games we've had at Anfield so far this season. They played really well and executed their game plan.

"But we managed to score two set-pieces and that was massive for us. We know how big a three points that was today."

Alisson's red card means 32-year-old Adrian will have to deputise in Wednesday's Merseyside derby.

Alexander-Arnold insisted he and his team-mates have full faith in the experienced Spaniard.

"We have had setbacks throughout the course of the season, we have had injuries and suspensions," the right-back said.

"We'll be looking to Adrian to come in and do a shift for us like he did at the start of the season.

"We've all got the trust in him and he knows how good he is as a 'keeper and how much we need him. So he'll be raring to go. It's not too much of a blow when you know you've got such a quality 'keeper waiting in the ranks."

Jurgen Klopp hailed the contribution of substitute goalkeeper Adrian to a "special win" after Liverpool beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 despite the late dismissal of Alisson.

Two first-half headers from Virgil van Dijk put the Premier League's runaway leaders on course for a routine success on Saturday, but Liverpool ended up hanging on at Anfield after Alisson was sent off in the 76th minute for handling outside his penalty area.

Adrian was caught out from the resulting free-kick as Lewis Dunk drilled the ball home with the keeper out of position and still setting up his wall.

However, the hosts still claimed three points - equalling their record unbeaten top-flight run in the process - as Adrian denied Aaron Mooy and then avoided embarrassment by regathering the ball after a weak Pascal Gross header had squirmed out of his grasp.

"I'm pretty sure Virgil, of course, with the two goals is probably man of the match, but Adrian is for me man of the match," said Reds manager Klopp.

"Because coming in, in a game like this, and making two saves. One was tricky. And even the goalie kicks, of course, are difficult and anybody who ever did that with completely cold feet, it's just not possible.

"We should have probably done that differently but we were not prepared for that situation, so I am completely happy."

Klopp was seemingly less enamoured that Dunk's goal stood, adding: "I think when you have a little bit of sense for human beings, you don't do it like this.

"It was very clever, of course, of Brighton, but a goalie is coming in, setting the wall, trying to get in contact with the players, and they are all trying to settle a little bit and get used, in a second, to each other.

"He [the referee] let it go like this. He's happy with that and I cannot change it but for me it's not 100 per cent right."

Liverpool's determination not to drop points did delight Klopp, who said: "The boys threw everything on the pitch. I love that. It's unbelievable how much the boys want to win and so it made it a really special win.

"Brighton are a really good football-playing side. They had a lot of possession. We had to work really hard against that and I love that the boys were ready to do that in such an intense week." 

The result means Liverpool are 11 points clear at the top of the table, albeit Leicester City can cut that lead when they face Everton on Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp confirmed Alisson returned to full first-team training on Thursday but did not commit to starting the Brazil goalkeeper against Leicester City on Saturday.

Alisson sustained a calf injury against Norwich City in Liverpool's season opener, suffering the problem while taking a goal-kick in the 4-1 triumph.

Adrian – a free transfer in pre-season – has since deputised and generally been solid, ensuring the Reds still have the joint-best defence in the league with Saturday's visitors Leicester, both letting five goals in.

Klopp revealed Alisson was back with the rest of the group following a period of solitary and goalkeeper-only training.

He is yet to make a decision on whether the former Roma man will play against Leicester, though Joel Matip and Xherdan Shaqiri are definitely out.

"With Alisson it is still 'maybe, maybe not'," Klopp told reporters on Friday. "Yesterday [Thursday] he trained with the team for the first time.

"He looked really good, but we will see. We have to talk to different people before I make a decision about that.

"Joel looks good but he is not ready for [Leicester], and Shaq [Shaqiri] no. After the international break they are all pretty much back on track."

While Klopp stressed there is no necessity to risk Alisson, he does accept training works differently for goalkeepers, meaning he could feature if needed.

"It's different, yes, but the good thing is that Adrian did well, so we don't feel pressure," Klopp added. "We don't have to rush it. Alisson has been training for 10 days, now he is in team training.

"I have to talk [with the medical staff]. I have had a lot of meetings because Mike Gordon [president of Liverpool's ownership group, Fenway Sports Group] is in town, I haven't had chance to think about the goalkeeper situation.

"But I will do that after the press conference and I will make the call."

Jurgen Klopp revealed Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson is likely to return to first-team training on Sunday following seven weeks out with a calf injury.

Alisson sustained the problem in Liverpool's Premier League opener against Norwich City on August 9, pulling up after taking a goal kick in the 4-1 win.

Adrian – who arrived on a free transfer in pre-season – came in and has deputised ever since, helping to ensure the Reds have the joint-best defence in the top flight this term.

There was uncertainty initially about how long Alisson was to be out for, with estimates ranging from a few weeks to a couple of months.

Although he will not be able to feature in Saturday's trip to Sheffield United, Klopp expects Alisson to be back in full training the following day, as a return to action moves close.

"Alisson looks like he is close, but the final word is with the medical department," Klopp said in Friday's pre-match news conference.

"He's not in contention for tomorrow [to face Sheffield United]. Maybe he can train with the team from Sunday onwards. He's really close.

"I'm not a doctor, I take the information [on Alisson] as I get it. Last two weeks he has progressed really, really well. They [the medical staff] have waited long enough until he is in proper training."

Klopp also paid tribute to Adrian for his role as such a reliable deputy, having barely put a foot wrong since coming into the team.

"Adrian's progress has made everything easier," Klopp said. "He is doing a brilliant job and makes everything easier, 100 per cent.

"We can't rush injuries, we try not to do it. We don't like to task risks. We will see when Alisson is ready – Adrian is our goalkeeper for now."

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson has revealed he is close to returning from the calf injury that has sidelined him for almost seven weeks.

The Brazil international resumed outdoor training drills earlier this month and is now focused on regaining his full range of athleticism ahead of a return to action.

Alisson went down during Liverpool's season opener against Norwich City, forcing the European champions to thrust new signing Adrian into the spotlight.

But the newly crowned Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper expects to make his comeback in the near future.

"I'm in a good way, I think we are nearly there," Alisson told Liverpool's official website.

"I can go outside to the pitch to do some goalkeeper work and I feel very well.

"I feel confident and I think now it's just about getting all my power, all my confidence to come back and do what I love to do."

Alisson, 26, started every Premier League match for Liverpool last season and was an integral figure in the club's Champions League triumph.

The former Roma star described his reintegration into training as a significant psychological boost.

"It's massive because if I look back, two weeks ago I couldn't even walk properly," he said.

"Now I'm running [and] jumping on my right leg that was injured, so I'm really happy for that.

"It's great. When you are a player you want to have the contact with the ball, with the guys on the pitch, the routine of training. It's what I love to do."

The Reds' number one went on to praise deputy Adrian, who has grasped an unexpected opportunity amid an impressive start to the season from Jurgen Klopp's men.

Alisson added: "He's a special guy who came late in the season, he just came and shows everyone his value, not just as a player but as a person and that is the more important thing.

"He is doing very well on the pitch. I have peace to recover in a proper way, so it's better for everyone."

Alisson is making steady progress as he continues his recovery from a calf injury, according to Liverpool's goalkeeping coach.

The Brazil international had to be substituted during the opening fixture of the Premier League season against Norwich City, which Jurgen Klopp's men won 4-1.

Adrian has since deputised for the Reds, who have a 100 per cent record and are top of the table, two points clear of champions Manchester City, after four rounds of games.

The international break has given Alisson time to work on his fitness but John Achterberg indicated a return to action may not be imminent.

"In the last few days he has been out on the pitch to do some catching and footwork, as well as small passing drills," he told the Mirror.

"He has made steady progress. It needs time and we cannot look too far ahead, so we take each day as it comes, see how he feels, and then make progress from that.

"Ali has been working with Dave [Rydings, rehabilitation fitness coach] in the gym a lot to improve the strength and try to keep the fitness levels up."

Liverpool are at home to Newcastle United on Saturday.

 

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has given his full backing to Adrian after revealing first-choice goalkeeper Alisson is not yet close to a return.

Alisson has been sidelined with a calf injury sustained in the 4-1 win over Norwich City on the opening day of the Premier League season.

No timeframe has been given for the Brazil international's comeback, but he was moving freely on Thursday when collecting his award for Champions League Goalkeeper of the Season.

Asked for an update on Alisson at Friday's news conference, Klopp said: "He has made steps, of course, but it was a proper injury, so it will still take time.

"This is how it always is with professional sportsmen - when you have a muscle thing and it takes long, then it takes a while as well until you can bring the muscle to at least the same level as it was before.

"A calf muscle is pretty important for jumping - and for a goalie, it is quite important that you can jump from time to time, so it will take time."

Adrian has filled the void over the past few weeks and will remain in goal for the trip to Burnley, with Liverpool aiming to make it four wins from four in the Premier League.

"Thank God - and hopefully it stays like this - we have a fit Adrian in the back and now in charge, which is good," Klopp said.

"So far, I am really happy with everything I saw. He is a good guy, which is important as well, but most importantly of course he can catch balls and that’s good as well.

"The solution we found for it is really good, but of course it would be better if 'Ali' was around but that will still take some time."

Liverpool recovered from a goal down to beat Burnley 3-1 on their most recent trip to Turf Moor and needed a 90th-minute winner from defender Ragnar Klavan in the 2017-18 season.

"Turf Moor is great. It's a really tough place to go," Klopp said. "We have had all weather there! My first game there was one of the hottest days I experienced, then we had wind, rain, everything. It was always difficult.

"Once we played there on January 1, when Ragnar scored in the last minute. That's how a year should start!

"Life is not easy when you go there. The way they play is pretty clear, they don’t change it a lot but they do it that well that everybody who goes there struggles. 

"I can't remember any team going there and winning well. [Manchester] City won there last year with a pretty tight decision. That's what we are prepared for."

Georginio Wijnaldum believes Adrian's error against Southampton will prove an aberration as the Liverpool goalkeeper settles into the side.

The experienced Spaniard had a moment to forget on his first Premier League start for the Reds when a poor pass bounced off Danny Ings and into the net.

Liverpool were two goals clear at the time and held on to win 2-1 after former Reds striker Ings squandered a gilt-edged chance for an equaliser.

Adrian almost missed the match after a supporter inadvertently kicked his ankle amid the celebrations of last week's UEFA Super Cup victory over Chelsea.

The former West Ham player had been the hero in Istanbul, decisively denying Tammy Abraham in the penalty shoot-out, but could now be targeted by opponents as Liverpool's number one, Alisson, remains sidelined with a calf injury.

"Those kind of things can happen with a goalkeeper," midfielder Wijnaldum said of Adrian's mistake.

"Last season it happened to Alisson against Leicester City and in a pre-season friendly.

"How is he going to react to the mistake? I think that is more important than the mistake itself. Everyone can make a mistake, also a goalkeeper.

"But the only thing is he is a goalkeeper and if he makes a mistake a lot of times it will result in a goal."

Liverpool signed Adrian four days before their Premier League season opener after selling Simon Mignolet to Club Brugge.

Wijnaldum said: "Everyone needs time to adjust. He [has been here] not even two weeks, so we have to get used to each other.

"It would have been easier if he had come in from the start with Simon leaving and him coming in.

"Now we just have to take the time that we have and train with each other and get to know each other better because everyone needs time to settle in.

"I had it also when I came here, I think all of the signings had it when they signed for Liverpool. So he will be okay."

Jurgen Klopp defended Adrian after the goalkeeper's late gaffe provided a nervy ending for Liverpool in Saturday's 2-1 Premier League win at Southampton.

Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino struck to put the European champions in control at St. Mary's, but the Saints hit back in the closing stages.

Danny Ings profited when a poor Adrian pass cannoned into the open goal and the former Reds striker then missed a gilt-edged chance to snatch a draw.

Adrian was a pre-match injury doubt after he was inadvertently hurt by a supporter during the celebrations after Liverpool defeated Chelsea in a shoot-out to win the UEFA Super Cup.

After Liverpool maintained their strong start to the new season, Klopp drew parallels with Adrian's injured colleague Alisson, who made a similar error early last season against Leicester City.

"Adrian must have thought 'I played well like Alisson, so I need to make the same mistake he did'," Klopp said.

"Ali did the same. Obviously it's a goalie thing at Liverpool, no problem with that as long as we win the games. All good.

"Adrian had a swollen ankle and we played too many balls back to him in that period. I was happy with everything he did today, all the saves, all that stuff.

"The other players have to then feel more the responsibility for the build-up and cannot give all the balls back to him and hope the painkillers still help or whatever.

"I don't think the goal was because of that, but a few other balls were. He is completely good with his feet.

"If you would have seen his ankle on Thursday after we left then you would say even the pass before the [Southampton] goal was better than you would have expected! It is all fine."

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain starred against his old club, starting in a midfield role, and Klopp was fulsome in his praise for the fit-again England international who was withdrawn at half-time against Chelsea in Istanbul.

"Brilliant. It was outstanding good," Klopp said. "It was 45 minutes on Wednesday, we can now say they helped for sure, to get the minutes, to feel the intensity, and know you are ready for the intensity.

"Then today we had to make changes and we did. Especially for us it's really important that in the centre of the park we are ready for all these long runs, all these decisive things, so we changed there… it was good to have these opportunities and Ox was obviously not bad today."

Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino struck at Southampton as Liverpool won 2-1 to continue their run of consecutive Premier League victories despite a late Adrian mistake.

Jurgen Klopp's Reds started poorly on the south coast on Saturday, seeing their hosts squander a couple of presentable first-half chances, but Mane, as so often, came up with the goods.

His brilliant effort - a third of the season after two in the UEFA Super Cup final - woke Liverpool from their slumber and they were comfortable in the second period even before Firmino doubled the advantage.

There was a wobble when Adrian hacked the ball straight at Danny Ings for an unlikely Saints response. Former Reds striker Ings should have equalised with a gilt-edged chance for his second, yet Liverpool held on.

A run of nine wins to close out last season could not deny Manchester City the title, but that streak of league successes goes on - reaching a club-record-equalling 11 - as Klopp's men look to be in the mix again this term.

Liverpool, perhaps missing Alisson's calm in possession, looked shaky at the back early on, but they were grateful to Adrian - passed fit after a freak ankle injury in the Super Cup celebrations - for an instinctive close-range stop from Maya Yoshida following a corner.   The hosts remained on top and had another huge headed chance as Che Adams met Oriol Romeu's cross 10 yards out but nodded over the crossbar.   Yet after 46 minutes of toil, former Southampton man Mane came up with a moment of inspiration for the European champions in first-half stoppage time, cutting inside from the left and drilling into the top-right corner from 20 yards.   Liverpool were improved after the restart and Joel Matip flicked James Milner's scuffed shot agonisingly wide, before Angus Gunn denied Mohamed Salah as he raced through on the right.   Firmino should have stretched the lead when he slid a finish past the right-hand post, but he made no mistake the next time he was granted a sight of goal, moving from left to right in the area and striking low into the bottom-left corner.   Gunn expertly saved from Mane and Andy Robertson, and Southampton threatened a late fightback when Adrian comically hurried a clearance into Ings' shins with the ball finding the back of the net. The former Liverpool man squandered another late chance from close range as Klopp's men escaped.
 

What does it mean? Reds already battling for points

It will still be fresh in the mind of Liverpool players, staff and fans how taxing last season's title challenge was. We are in August but, at St Mary's, the visitors' display was that of a side already prepared to dig in again. The Reds were poor for 45 minutes but got the job done. The sign of champions? Two games into the season, they might hope to be more fluent.

Mane the man again

Klopp was able to name his first-choice front three from the start for the first time this season and, predictably, it was Mane and Firmino who made the difference. Mane's goal was particularly key as Southampton were hammering on the door and he turned the match in the visitors' favour.

Adrian fit but at fault

There were concerns Andy Lonergan was going to have to make his Premier League debut at 35 years old when Adrian was struggling following the Super Cup. The Spaniard was fit to start and made one crucial first-half stop, but his mistake for Southampton's goal provided a reminder of his limitations - even if Alisson has been guilty of similar in the past.

What's next?

Liverpool are now already four games into the new season and their next task is a tough one, with Klopp's men hosting Arsenal next Saturday. Southampton go to Brighton and Hove Albion earlier on the same day.

Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian has been passed fit for Saturday's Premier League clash with Southampton.

The 32-year-old suffered a freak ankle injury as Jurgen Klopp's side celebrated a penalty shoot-out defeat of Chelsea in Wednesday's UEFA Super Cup.

A supporter on the pitch slipped and hurt Adrian, leaving Klopp fuming given first-choice keeper Alisson is sidelined with a calf problem.

Had Adrian not recovered in time for the game at St Mary's Stadium, the experienced Andy Lonergan would likely have been called upon to make a surprise Liverpool debut.

However, Liverpool confirmed on Saturday that Adrian is available, having sufficiently proved his fitness in the past 24 hours.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino have all been restored to the starting line-up for the clash with Southampton, having all come on as substitutes against Chelsea in Istanbul. Joe Gomez, Fabinho and Jordan Henderson drop to the bench.

Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian is confident he will be available to play against Southampton on Saturday despite suffering an ankle injury.

The 32-year-old was hurt when a pitch-invading supporter slipped and collided with him while Liverpool celebrated beating Chelsea on penalties in the UEFA Super Cup.

Adrian - deputising for the injured Alisson - was the hero in Istanbul, saving a decisive spot-kick from Tammy Abraham after the match finished 2-2 after extra time.

Manager Jurgen Klopp said he was unsure if the former West Ham keeper would be fit enough for this weekend, meaning the experienced Andy Lonergan would likely need to start just days after agreeing to a short-team deal with the Reds.

However, Adrian expects he will be ready for the Premier League game at St Mary's Stadium.

"I feel much better," he told Liverpool's official website on Friday.

"It was a strange, weird situation because we were celebrating between us and one guy jumped from the crowd and started running.

"I think he slipped in front of us and also the security with him and made me a tackle from the side. It was a bit of a strange situation but I feel much better today and I hope [I'm] ready [for Saturday].

"I think I have many chances [of playing]. I feel mentally ready and I also hope today with the treatment of the ankle it's going to be much better.

"But I'm very optimistic to start playing tomorrow again."

Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian could miss the Premier League trip to Southampton after a fan accidentally kicked his ankle while celebrating Wednesday's UEFA Super Cup triumph.

An irritated Jurgen Klopp revealed the second-choice shot-stopper was struggling with swelling following a post-match collision with a pitch invader and is a doubt for Saturday's outing.

Adrian had been in the headlines for the right reasons against Chelsea in Istanbul, saving the decisive spot-kick from Tammy Abraham as Liverpool prevailed on penalties following a 2-2 draw at the end of extra-time.

The Spaniard, signed on a free earlier this month, only began the game after regular starter Alisson injured his calf during the Premier League victory over Norwich City at Anfield.

Third-choice option Andy Lonergan, 35, another recent acquisition following his release by Middlesbrough, may now be required to take over at St Mary's, much to Klopp's chagrin.

"I really don't understand why in a world of social media, where you are all on it, where we are all together, a supporter jumped over something, was chased by security guys, slipped and kicked [Adrian's] ankle," the Reds boss said on Friday.

"Crazy. Yesterday [Thursday] it was swollen. Today I spoke to him, here's here, he said it's much better. Much better than yesterday, but we have to see.

"Apart from that, it was a brilliant night for him, for sure."

Klopp did not hide his frustration with the ongoing instances of Liverpool supporters entering the field of play, which also occurred after the pre-season defeat of Tranmere Rovers.

"There's no doubt about how much we love our fans, but if they could all stop doing that. That's now the worst example I've heard about," he said of the latest incident involving Adrian.

"It's not funny, what can I say?

"I like the fact we don't have fences in the stadium, but that means there's a lot of responsibility on security.

"If the one person cannot stop himself then the people around him should do it. It's crazy. You think, wow, how can this happen?"

Manuel Pellegrini is happy to see Adrian making an immediate impact at Liverpool but would have liked to have kept the goalkeeper at West Ham.

Adrian left London Stadium as a free agent at the end of last season and signed for European champions Liverpool, replacing Simon Mignolet as Alisson's back-up.

But an injury to Alisson in the Premier League opener against Norwich City saw Adrian quickly thrust into the action at Anfield.

And on just his first start for Liverpool, the Spaniard proved their UEFA Super Cup final hero with a decisive penalty shoot-out save from Chelsea's Tammy Abraham on Wednesday.

Adrian had been restricted to cup appearances last season, with Lukasz Fabianski the West Ham number one, but Pellegrini still sought to keep the 32-year-old.

"I'm happy for him because he played a lot of years here at West Ham," Pellegrini told a news conference, reflecting on Adrian's display against Chelsea. "He's a very good goalkeeper.

"For different reasons, he couldn't find an arrangement to continue here. We wanted him here because not only is he a good goalkeeper, he's a good player for the squad also.

"He had some problems at the start of the season, so signing for Liverpool and having this performance, I'm very happy for him."

Adrian spent six years at West Ham, largely operating as the club's first choice prior to Fabianski's 2018 arrival.

The former Real Betis man is set to continue in the Liverpool goal against Southampton this weekend, with Alisson out for "the next few weeks" - as confirmed by Jurgen Klopp.

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