Rumours linking Neymar to Barcelona refuse to subside.

Neymar left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record €222million transfer in 2017, but the Brazilian star wants to move back to Camp Nou.

Barca are desperate to make it happen by any means necessary.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA TO INVOKE CLAUSE IN NEYMAR PURSUIT

Barcelona are plotting an audacious plan to re-sign Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain, according to ESPN.

The report says LaLiga champions could invoke a little-known FIFA clause – Article 17 – in order to lure Neymar back to Camp Nou.

Article 17 states that players can leave their contracts "without just cause" once the three-year protection period ends.

 

ROUND-UP

Marc-Andre ter Stegen to leave Barca? The Germany international has been in contract negotiations with the Spanish giants, however, Sport says he is being tempted by Bayern Munich.

- Sport also claims that Barca have put Antoine Griezmann on the transfer market. It comes as Barca look to sign Inter's Lautaro Martinez at the end of the season, while keeping costs down amid the coronavirus pandemic. Manchester United, PSG, Chelsea and Arsenal are possible suitors for Griezmann. The same publication reports Barca's stars have agreed to take a pay cut to help the club deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Real Madrid are interested in signing Wolves striker Raul Jimenez, AS reports. Madrid are eyeing a striker with Karim Benzema ageing and big-money recruit Luka Jovic so far failing to convince Zinedine Zidane. Mexico international Jimenez previously spent a year at Atletico Madrid in 2014-15.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Arsenal and Tottenham are set to rival Serie A side Lazio for Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren.

- With Lovren set to leave, AS suggests Liverpool have lined up three possible replacements – RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano, Atletico Madrid defender Jose Maria Gimenez and Inter's Alessandro Bastoni.

- Calciomercato says Mauro Icardi – on loan at PSG from Inter – wants to return to Italy at the end of the season amid strong links to Juventus. The Argentina striker is also open to joining Madrid.

Inter are working on a renewal to tie down star midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, reports Tuttosport. The Croatia international is contracted until 2022.

Juve, United and Barca are all tracking PSG's highly rated 17-year-old Edouard Michut, according to Calciomercato.

Barcelona star Ivan Rakitic said he has only gone outside to "throw out the trash" due to the lockdown in Spain amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Spain has introduced emergency restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19, with people banned from leaving home except for buying essential supplies and medicines, or for work.

LaLiga and football have also been postponed in Spain, where more than 1,700 people have died from at least 28,700 coronavirus cases.

Rakitic discussed the current situation, telling Barca's official channels: "I have only gone outside to throw out the trash, which is 50 metres away and that's the only thing I have done on the street.

"Since the Napoli [game] I was already preparing for all this and I did quite a lot of shopping.

"I remember very well when we went to Naples to play the Champions League game and the issue had already started in Italy.

"I told the doctor that I wasn't confident about it and that it was going be much [worse]. Now we have to all be together.

"Of course I would like to play sports on the street as it is better, or take a walk, but we have to understand that we need to do this."

With football on hiatus, Croatia international Rakitic added: "I have a gym at home and my wife is also very hooked. We go every day, some days in the morning and afternoon and the girls also enjoy it.

"We have set up as a game room in the gym and they can play and we can train. Each [Barcelona] fitness coach has a group of players that he works with.

"I am with Antonio and I ask him what we have to do, when we have to work harder on the treadmill and on the bike. We are in daily contact, they are very aware of everything and they have an answer."

Top of the table, sack your head coach, lose El Clasico, return to the top of the table.

It is hard to argue with where Barcelona stand as LaLIga's season pauses amid the coronavirus pandemic, although their means of staying on course for a ninth title in 12 seasons have often been unconvincing.

Here, we take a look back at the Opta numbers behind a campaign where Quique Setien has replaced Ernesto Valverde in the Camp Nou hot seat and many of the old certainties seem not to exist anymore.

Well, apart from one man's enduring brilliance.

WORST BARCA TEAM SINCE BEFORE GUARDIOLA

Barcelona's points haul of 58 from 27 games is enough for a two-point lead over Real Madrid in second but it is their worst return at this stage since 2007-08, when they had 54 points in the last knockings of Frank Rijkaard's tenure

The Blaugrana's 63 goals in 27 outings is also their lowest since that season, when they had 52 at this juncture and finished a distant third on 67 points.

Pep Guardiola took the reins for 2008-09, completed a clean sweep of trophies and Barca have never been outside the top two since.

That run is unlikely to change this time around but concerns over the longer-term direction of travel are understandable – even if making Valverde the first LaLiga boss to lose his job despite being top at the midway point since Radomir Antic made way for Leo Beenhakker at Real Madrid in 1991-92 left a sour taste.

Perhaps prophetically, Johan Cruyff's Barcelona won the title that year.

MAJESTIC MESSI

Unperturbed by these struggles and even speculation over his own future, Lionel Messi has continued on his merry way.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner is the top scorer in LaLiga this season with 19 goals and his 12 assists also lead the divisional statistics.

Borussia Dortmund and England star Jadon Sancho is the only other player in Europe's big five leagues with double figures for both, with 14 goals and 15 assists.

For now, Messi also has another marker over the man to whom he will always be compared. His 438 domestic league goals put him one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo on 437, although Messi's have arrived in 474 appearances as opposed to 540.

The Argentina international now has 420 LaLiga starts to his name and has surpassed the previous highest by a non-Spanish player, former Atletico Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna defender Donato (415).

THE BARCELONA WAY

Setien's commitment to a short passing, high pressing style earned him the nod of the Barcelona board after Valverde's unseemly departure.

Although the high-octane thrills of his best Real Betis sides have largely been absent, he did put down an important marker in his first game.

During the 1-0 win over Granada, Barca completed 1,002 passes – only the third time they or any other team have done so in a LaLiga contest.

The 1,046 recorded by Guardiola's men against Levante in May 2011 remains the highest, with his successor Tito Villanova overseeing 1,035 versus the same opponents in 1,035.

However, hoarding possession does not provide the security it once did.

Barcelona have conceded 31 goals in LaLiga so far this term, amounting to a higher goals per game against than in any of the previous nine season (1.15).

In fact, in five of those, Gerard Pique and his defensive colleagues had let in fewer than 31 at the end of the campaign.

Easier to score against, not as prolific and yet still on course for the title usefully sums up the peculiarity of Barcelona in 2019-20 at this point.

Football may be on hiatus in most of Europe and across the globe due to coronavirus, but Fabian Ruiz's future is still making headlines.

The Napoli and Spain star has established himself as one of the best midfielders on the continent since arriving from Real Betis in 2018.

Now, Liverpool are desperate to prise Fabian to Anfield but they have competition.

 

TOP STORY – REDS MAKE FABIAN TOP TARGET

Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz is Liverpool's top transfer target, reports The Express.

Fabian has attracted interest from his homeland, where LaLiga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid are battling for the Spain international's signature.

However, Premier League leaders Liverpool are ready to pay £74million (€80m) for Fabian.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror says Manchester United – led by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward – have re-opened talks with star midfielder Paul Pogba's agent Rino Raiola. It comes amid uncertainty over Pogba, who continues to be linked to Madrid and former club Juventus.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will leave Milan at the end of the season, reports Sport Mediaset. The 38-year-old return to San Siro on a one-year and had been discussing a renewal before chief football officer Zvonimir Boban was sacked, angering the Swede.

Liverpool and Arsenal are among a number of clubs monitoring Eintracht Frankfurt's Evan Ndicka, claims Sky Sports. The defender has also been linked to Milan, Inter, Valencia and Sevilla.

- According to The Mirror, Chelsea, United, Arsenal and Tottenham have enquired about Barca's Philippe Coutinho, who is on loan at Bayern Munich.

United are confident of beating Borussia Dortmund to the signing of Birmingham City's 16-year-old sensation Jude Bellingham.

- Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard is being eyed by Arsenal, The Mirror reports, amid doubts over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Aubameyang has been linked to Paris Saint-Germain and United.

Barcelona star Luis Suarez said he will be ready to play when LaLiga eventually returns amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Suarez has been sidelined since undergoing knee surgery in January – an injury that was expected to keep him out of action for most of the season.

However, with LaLiga postponed due to COVID-19, Barca veteran Suarez is in contention to be fit once the league resumes.

"[My return] is within the possibilities that we've been managing and now there's been a change, but the idea of returning early was clear," Suarez, who has scored 14 goals in 2019-20, told Referi.

"My doctor was telling me that I've been doing so well and that gave me hope of returning to play as soon as possible.

"The different now is when the team returns, I'm going to be able to play."

Suarez, 33, added: "It was predicted to be at the start of May but, after the meetings I've had with the doctors and due to the continuing condition I've had, it went ahead a little earlier.

"I'd been coping very well with the work that I've been asked to do and that gave me strength to come back sooner than predicted."

Globally, more than 13,000 people have died from over 307,000 coronavirus cases.

In Spain, there have been over 1,300 deaths and almost 26,000 cases.

Lionel Messi's contract is said to be a priority for Barcelona, who have also received good news on the Neymar front.

Messi has a deal until 2021 with the LaLiga giants, but can leave for free at the end of the season.

If Barca can get that done, it looks like Neymar also wants a return to Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI CONTRACT A BARCELONA PRIORITY AS NEYMAR SAYS YES

A renewal for Messi is a prime concern for Barcelona, according to AS.

Messi is top of the to-do list for Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu despite economic problems facing several clubs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, the cover of Sport says Neymar wants to return to Barca and is ready to put pressure on Paris Saint-Germain to get his wish.

ROUND-UP

- According to Le 10 Sport, PSG have not offered Neymar a new deal despite talk they would. The Brazil international is contracted until 2022 at the Ligue 1 champions.

- Chelsea desperately want Jadon Sancho. The Evening Standard reports the Premier League club are ready to pay £120million (€129.9m) for the Borussia Dortmund star.

- Inter have apparently sent a warning to Barcelona over Lautaro Martinez. Sport reports the Serie A giants want cash only for the forward, ruling out a deal that also involves a player.

- Paris Saint-Germain are setting their sights on Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. Le 10 sport says Donnarumma, who is out of contract next year, is a key target for PSG.

Has there ever been a football player you've loved watching so much that you could be confident of writing down a long list of reasons for your adoration?

For me, that player is Ronaldinho, and seeing as the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year and 2005 Ballon d'Or recipient turns 40 on Saturday, I wanted to pay tribute.

The former World Cup winner will celebrate his birthday in a maximum-security Paraguayan prison after being accused of entering the country on a fake passport – and he apparently continues to rack up goals and assists in kickabouts behind bars. Only Ronaldinho.

In honour of the legendary Brazilian on this landmark day, here are the 40 reasons why I love him.

 

1. Within three minutes of kick-off in a Paris Saint-Germain versus Marseille game I recorded on VHS in March 2003, he flicked the ball over the heads of two players and won a free-kick when dribbling away. When he scored with a dink over the keeper later in that game, a love affair was born.

2. He was the master of the no-look pass. And it didn't even need to be necessary.

3. Whether you call it an elastico or a flip-flap, Ronaldinho loved them. It was the trick I was most beguiled by as a teenager and, to my endless frustration, could never get right myself.

4. He marked his debut for Barcelona with a stunning 30-yard drive that crashed in off the underside of the crossbar. It was gone 01:00 local time!

5. Ronaldinho had arrived in Catalonia with the reputation of a party lover firmly established. Who can blame him – if you were that good, wouldn't you just want to constantly celebrate?

6. That goal against Chelsea.

7. He assisted Ludovic Giuly in a 3-0 win over Osasuna in October 2005 using his back. I mean, who does that?!

8. He picked Barcelona over Manchester United. Nothing against the Red Devils, but it would have been tough to watch him play for a Premier League team that wasn't mine.

9. That samba shuffle celebration and the thumb-and-little-finger hand gesture.

10. He got a standing ovation at the Santiago Bernabeu – as a Barcelona player.

11. Those cascading locks and gummy smile.

12. He scored directly from a corner for Flamengo during a 3-2 defeat to Avai in 2011. Anyone with a 'gol olimpico' on their resume gets the utmost kudos.

13. As a keen follower of Brazilian football, I was delighted when Ronaldinho signed for Fluminense – the team I'd chosen to support during a three-month stay in Rio de Janeiro. It was somehow even better when he terminated his 18-month contract after just nine appearances.

14. Alongside former Everton striker Jo and current Everton winger Bernard, he helped Atletico Mineiro win their first Copa Libertadores title in 2013.

15. He always seemed to be playing with a smile on his face, or at least not far away from it.

16. Ronaldinho may have been in decline and far from his twinkling best when he rocked up at Liga MX side Queretaro, but a double against Club America earned him a standing ovation at the iconic Estadio Azteca.

17. He posed for a photo with me in Barcelona. OK, it was via a green screen, all right?!

18. That was during an October 2003 visit to the city that included going to watch Barca take on Real Murcia. Ronaldinho made sure to treat me to a goal in a 3-0 win.

19. He made England's elimination from the 2002 World Cup a little less painful with the most outrageous of goals. (I reckon he meant it, too.)

20. For starring in Nike's iconic 'The Cage' and 'Ole' adverts.

21. Somehow, he scored from behind the goal during a training session with Flamengo. It was the kind of sorcery most can only dream of.

22. Before going viral was a thing, Ronaldinho went viral. Footage of him juggling the ball and volleying it against the crossbar FOUR times in succession without it hitting the ground wrote him into folklore. I still don't know whether it was real or not…

23. When Ronaldinho dribbled, he did it at electric pace and with startling agility, and although he often took several knocks he did his utmost to stay on his feet.

24. It was a Champions League semi-final against Milan: chest control, the ball lifted over Gennaro Gattuso's head, flicked past Andrea Pirlo with two more touches, and when Alessandro Nesta deigned to get in his way, Ronaldinho stretched a leg out behind him and used his heel to square to Samuel Eto'o.

25. In the days before Ousmane Dembele and Martin Braithwaite struggled with freestyle tricks at Barcelona presentations, Ronaldinho was balancing the ball on his head, rolling it forward to give it a little kiss, then sending it back to rest on his forehead. That's how you do it.

26. He made great use of his shoulder; either to deftly bring the ball down or flick it on to a team-mate.

27. His 360-degree spin to get between two Werder Bremen players. It doesn't even matter that he was tackled by the next defender.

28. He did not join Manchester City after leaving Barcelona. (See point eight.)

29. For filling countless hours of my time at university with his YouTube highlights.

30. Ronaldinho was able to baffle defenders without even touching the ball.

31. Because he scored one of the most jarring chips during his time at Atletico. From 16 yards out on the left side of the box, with the Arsenal de Sarandi goalkeeper seemingly in a good position, Ronaldinho clipped a beautiful effort into the top-left corner.

32. Most of the greats excel from free-kicks. The sight of Ronaldinho stepping up to one in a central area from a 90-degree angle to the goal was a thing of beauty.

33. Because he did not retire straight away after leaving Fluminense. He said he wanted to continue playing (but only after Rio's famous carnival, of course) and ended up going on tour, playing in exhibition games for whoever would pay him.

34. For teeing up Lionel Messi's first senior goal for Barcelona, and doing it with a scoop pass.

35. Against Villarreal at Camp Nou in the 2006-07 season came one of his most memorable strikes. After controlling Xavi's cross with his chest, he span 180 degrees and sent a bicycle kick back across goal. *chef's kiss*

36. For scoring under-the-wall free-kicks at Barcelona, Flamengo and Atletico.

37. His 'water bottle trick' when Atletico took on Sao Paulo. Go and look it up. He showed zero shame in punishing Rogerio Ceni's goodwill.

38. Throughout his career Ronaldinho kept trying to score by stealing the ball away from goalkeepers as they took a drop kick.

39. Another El Clasico moment from April 2004. This time it was an outrageous scoop in behind for Xavi to lift beyond Iker Casillas in the 86th minute and secure a 2-1 win.

40. Because in my lifetime, no other player has made watching football as enjoyable as he did.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused widespread disruption with the global sporting schedule, but you can still get your fix if you know where to look.

Whether you are in self-isolation or practicing social distancing, in a way it has become easier than ever to watch sport as you pass the time.

Some of the biggest leagues and governing bodies have reacted to the global crisis by providing free access to a back catalogue of content.

We run down the best places to look if you're missing sport.

 

FIFA OPENS UP ARCHIVES

From Saturday, FIFA are making full match replays of over 30 games from World Cup and Women's World Cup history available.

The matches appear set to be available until football is back up and running in most countries.

 

A SWISH OFFER FROM THE NBA

Basketball fans rejoice. The wait for the playoffs may go on longer than anticipated, but the NBA is offering free access to the premium League Pass subscription service until April 22.

You can view full replays and highlights from all games played in the 2019-20 season, as well as classic matches.

 

NO LONGER BEHIND GRIDIRON BARS

If the NFL is more your thing, then why not use their Game Pass until the end of May?

You can watch full-length games or condensed versions, while the 'Hard Knocks' and 'A Football Life' series are available on demand, too.

 

MORE FROM THE STATES

Maybe ice hockey is what you are missing most. If so, the NHL.tv is free to all until April 30.

There is also the MLB Vault YouTube channel, which will provide you with hours of classic baseball games.

 

MISSING MESSI?

If you are in Europe, there is the option to watch Rakuten TV's 'Matchday - Inside FC Barcelona' and 'MessiCirque' documentaries without charge. (They also have over 150 films available on a free channel.)

Until the Premier League returns, Manchester City has opened the doors to the CITY+ subscription service. All you need to do is sign up for long-form, in-house content, historic games and full match replays.

 

FOR THE GAMERS OUT THERE...

If re-runs don't sate your appetite to help fill the hours, you can try out the full version of the Football Manager 2020 computer game via the Steam app until 15:00 GMT on March 25.

Former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino hopes to return to Newell's Old Boys, preferably with Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

Pochettino began his playing career at Newell's, where he emerged from the Argentine club's youth system in 1989 before moving to LaLiga outfit Espanyol in 1994.

The future of Pochettino continues to be speculated after he was sacked by Tottenham in November – linked to the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Pochettino, though, revealed his desire to make a Newell's comeback, alongside countryman and six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi – who also spent his youth playing for Newell's.

"I hope to return to the club one day," the 48-year-old Pochettino told Radio del Plata.

"I can still wait, preferably it will be in 10 years. With [Lionel] Messi."

Another Argentinian, Lautaro Martinez, is also making headlines following his exploits for Serie A outfit Inter.

Martinez is reportedly attracting interest from LaLiga champions Barca, who are eyeing a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez.

"Lautaro Martinez is one of the best strikers in the world," Pochettino added.

"It's not just for what he does now, but for what his potential means going forward. If you start looking at hitmen for the big clubs, clearly his name has to be in there."

Things have not worked out for Philippe Coutinho since his big-money exit from Liverpool.

Coutinho failed to establish himself at LaLiga champions Barcelona, while the Brazilian star has struggled to convince during his loan spell with Bayern Munich.

Now, a Premier League club are reportedly ready to hand Coutinho a lifeline.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA LEAD COUTINHO RACE

Chelsea are favourites to bring Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho back to the Premier League, according to AS.

Coutinho left Liverpool for Barcelona in a deal reportedly worth €160million (£151m) in 2018, however, he has not been able to match the lofty heights he reached at Anfield.

The 27-year-old was shipped out to Bundesliga powerhouses Bayern Munich at the start of the season, and Frank Lampard's Chelsea have reportedly sounded out Barca about a transfer.

 

ROUND-UP

- Where will Paul Pogba be playing in 2020-21? Linked to former club Juventus and Real Madrid, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has previously insisted the Frenchman will be at Old Trafford next season. However, The Sun says United are now willing to sell Pogba for £100m (€105m).

United are desperate to beat Borussia Dortmund to Jude Bellingham's signature. Dortmund are reportedly favourites to sign Birmingham City's 16-year-old sensation. However, the Mirror claims United are prepared to outlay £30m to sign Bellingham, who toured the club's training facilities last week.

- Mundo Deportivo claims Barca are considering swap deals to facilitate the signings of Inter forward Lautaro Martinez and Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar. The report says Ousmane Dembele and Coutinho could be moved on.

- The Athletic says Liverpool are willing to pay RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner's release clause, but Barca are set to provide competition.

Chelsea are chasing CSKA Moscow striker Fedor Chalov, reports the Daily Star. Brighton and Hove Albion, West Ham and Crystal Palace are also interested.

- According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Gianluigi Donnarumma is happy to extend his Milan contract but CEO Ivan Gazidis is open to cashing in on the 21-year-old Italy goalkeeper.

Europe's top five leagues have been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic and there is widespread uncertainty over the future of the 2019-20 season.

Will tournaments be completed when conditions are suitable? Will things finish as they are? Will the campaign be declared null and void?

With the help of Opta, we look back over the previous 10 seasons to see who would have been crowned champions if the Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga had stopped where there are now.

 

Aguer-no!

It was an iconic moment in Premier League history. Sergio Aguero scored Manchester City's second stoppage-time goal as they came from behind to defeat QPR 3-2 and clinch their first top-flight title in 44 years, beating crestfallen arch-rivals Manchester United to the trophy on the final day of the season.

However, if the campaign had been stopped where it is now it would have been United who were celebrating due to a one-point advantage.

It is the only occasion since 2009-10 that the team on top after 29 matchdays has not won the Premier League.

 

Atleti's title wiped out

Atletico Madrid incredibly broke the Barcelona and Real Madrid duopoly in LaLiga in 2013-14, with Diego Godin salvaging a draw at Camp Nou on the final day to ensure they finished top of the pile.

However, it was local rivals Real Madrid, led by Carlo Ancelotti, who sat three points clear after 27 games of the season, meaning Diego Simeone's crowning achievement would not have occurred.

The only other instance of a team being displaced in the final 11 matches came in 2009-10, when Madrid sat ahead of Barca on goal difference but ended up seeing Pep Guardiola's men go on to win LaLiga for a second straight season.

 

Juventus dominance broken up

Eight straight Serie A titles have seen Juventus create history in Italy, but they would have only managed five if the previous seasons stopped after 26 games – the total the majority of clubs have completed in 2019-20.

The Bianconeri went undefeated under Antonio Conte in 2011-12, although it was Milan who topped the table at this point in the campaign, meaning Massimiliano Allegri would have won successive Scudetti at San Siro.

Maurizio Sarri would also not have had to have waited until winning the Europa League with Chelsea last year for his first major title.

Sarri's Napoli only surrendered top spot to Juve on matchday 27 in 2017-18 and they failed to recover it, missing out on their best chance to finish top since the Diego Maradona era.

 

QSI off to the perfect start

The landscape of Ligue 1 changed dramatically when Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) bought Paris Saint-Germain in June 2011, although no silverware was added to the Parc des Princes trophy cabinet in the first season following the takeover.

However, they would have been crowned champions had the 2011-12 season finished after 28 games, denying a Montpellier side powered by the goals of Olivier Giroud an unlikely first Ligue 1 title.

There would have been bad news for PSG in 2014-15, though, as the trophy would have gone to Hubert Fournier's Lyon due to a one-point margin.

Bordeaux would have made it back-to-back titles in 2009-10, too, with Marseille having made the most of a collapse that saw Laurent Blanc's side slip from first to sixth over the final 10 matches.

 

Bundesliga business as usual

What changes with the Bundesliga title winners if you stop the previous 10 seasons after 25 games? Nothing.

Bayern Munich would have won eight championships to Borussia Dortmund's two.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit Spain, it had been an uneasy season for Barcelona, despite the Blaugrana sitting top of LaLiga by two points when the division's suspension was confirmed.

It remains to be seen whether the 2019-20 season resumes at all – it is not outside the realms of possibility the campaign is voided across Europe, even if the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) insists it will be finished.

If it were to be nulled, one gets the feeling few associated with Barcelona would be especially angry to see the back of 2019-20 – even if it means the title is no longer attainable, as strange as that sounds.

With the help of Opta data, we've taken a look back at Barcelona's campaign and, despite the issues surrounding the club, Lionel Messi unsurprisingly still comes out well…

BARCA IN 2019-20

58 - Barca have 58 points at the 27-match mark, making it their worst haul at this point of the season since 2007-08 – the campaign before Pep Guardiola took charge – when they had 54 at this stage. Frank Rijkaard was in charge at the time.

1 - Ernesto Valverde became the first LaLiga coach since Radomir Antic in 1991-92 to be dismissed in the same season he was top of the table during Spain's winter break. Johan Cruyff's Barca won the title that year.

63 - Barca's haul of 63 goals is also the fewest they have managed after 27 matches since netting 52 in 2007-08, when they finished third.

5 - Five defeats have already been inflicted upon Barca this season, more than in any of the previous 11 LaLiga seasons.

MESSI SHOULDERS THE BURDEN

31 - With 19 goals, Messi is LaLiga's top scorer this season. But that's by no means all he has contributed – the Argentinian dynamo has also provided 12 assists in LaLiga, more than any other player.

2 - Indeed, Messi is one of only two players to reach double figures for both goals and assists across Europe's top five leagues – the other being Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho (G:14, A:15).

438 - Messi became the leading all-time goalscorer across Europe's top five leagues as well, having taken his tally to 438 from 474 matches. His eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo remains on his heels, however. The Portugal icon has 437 from 540 outings.

THE REST

1,002 - Quique Setien joined Barca with a reputation for his obsession for possession. So, it's perhaps unsurprising that in his LaLiga debut with the club, he became only the third coach since records began in 2005-06 to oversee a team that attempted over 1,000 passes in a single match. Against Granada, Barca tried 1,002.

3 - Ansu Fati became the third-youngest goal-scorer in LaLiga history (16 years, 304 days) when he scored against Osasuna in August. Only Fabrice Olinga (16 years, 98 days) and Iker Muniain (16 years, 289 days) were younger when they opened their respective accounts.

Inter are looking ahead to next season and are apparently interested in Barcelona midfielder Arthur.

The Serie A giants are studying their options for 2020-21 after an impressive campaign so far.

It seems Arthur, 23, could be part of their future plans.

 

TOP STORY – INTER CONSIDERING MOVE FOR BARCELONA'S ARTHUR

Barcelona midfielder Arthur is one of the options being considered by Inter, according to Tuttosport.

The Brazil international arrived at Barca in a reported €31million move from Gremio in mid-2018.

Arthur has made 23 appearances in all competitions for the LaLiga giants this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang seemingly set to leave Arsenal, the Premier League club want a minimum of €55m (£50m) for the forward, who is reportedly a target for Barcelona, according to Sport. Arsenal are said to have paid Borussia Dortmund £56m for Aubameyang in January 2018.

- Will the Premier League season be finished amid the coronavirus pandemic? The Sun reports club chiefs have a plan to play the remaining 92 games behind closed doors with every match in neutral venues at a separate time and live on TV.

- Ashley Young has clearly impressed at Inter. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports the 34-year-old is just about guaranteed to extend his stay at San Siro beyond just the end of this season.

- Miralem Pjanic could be set for a Juventus exit. CalcioMercato reports Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea are interested in the 29-year-old midfielder, but it will take more than €60m (£54.6m) to land the Bosnia-Herzegovina international.

- Out of contract at season's end, Thomas Meunier is set to leave Paris Saint-Germain. ESPN reports the Belgium defender has agreed to join Borussia Dortmund on a four-year deal.

- Tino Anjorin made his Premier League debut earlier this season and Chelsea have made progress in contract talks with the 18-year-old England youth international, according to Goal.

Inter vice-president Javier Zanetti sees Lautaro Martinez's future in Serie A football as LaLiga champions Barcelona reportedly circle.

Barca have been heavily linked with a move for Martinez after Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez hailed the Inter star.

Martinez – who has also attracted interest from the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United and Manchester City – is seen as the long-term replacement for Suarez at Camp Nou.

However, former Nerazzurri captain Zanetti does not picture fellow Argentinian Martinez leaving Inter.

"Of the talents that have emerged, Lautaro is certainly among the best," Zanetti told Radio Continental. "Today I see his future in Italian football.

"He is one of the interesting players of Argentine football."

Prior to the suspension of Serie A due to the coronavirus pandemic, Martinez had struck a lethal partnership with Inter team-mate Romelu Lukaku.

Martinez has scored 11 league goals in 22 appearances this season and 16 across all competitions for Antonio Conte's Inter.

No Serie A football has been played since March 9 as Italy struggles to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Milan and the Lombardy region have been among the worst hit by coronavirus in Italy, where more than 2,500 people have died from at least 31,500 cases.

Globally, almost 8,000 people have succumbed to COVID-19 as the virus continues to disrupt sport around the world.

"In Milan, hospitals are not enough, doctors make a great effort to save lives," Zanetti said. "Nobody expected these numbers."

Zanetti, who said no symptoms have been detected at Inter, added: "We must stay in quarantine until March 25, the club is closed. Only then will we see if we can train again.

"I am working from home. Inter have taken several measures to deal with the situation, called professionals to prepare everyone. The club are following the players' nutritional programs prepared by nutritionists, they deliver food at home."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.