Erling Haaland was back at the centre of Barcelona transfer speculation as his agent and father were pictured arriving in the Spanish city on Thursday.

The Spanish newspaper Sport published video on its website that showed agent Mino Raiola and Alf-Inge Haaland emerging from an airport and being driven away in a private car.

It was reported that the driver was a member of Barcelona president Joan Laporta's staff, pointing to Raiola and Haaland senior being on the way to a meeting with the newly elected Camp Nou chief.

Haaland has been long linked with a move to Barcelona, having dazzled in 15 months with Borussia Dortmund and emerged as a target for elite clubs across Europe.

Among those reported to have shown interest in the Norwegian are Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and Manchester United, suggesting Barca may face a major battle to secure the 20-year-old, should he become available later this year.

Haaland is reputed to have a clause in his Dortmund contract that would allow him to leave for €75million at the end of the 2021-22 campaign, although this has never been confirmed by club officials.

His value even in a slightly deflated market is significantly higher than that at present, which may mean a departure at the end of this season suits all parties if there is no prospect of Haaland having a long-term stay in Dortmund.

Barcelona have been hit hard in economic terms by the COVID-19 crisis, but president Laporta will want to make his mark after returning to office last month, 11 years after his first stint in charge ended.

For Haaland to join Madrid would be a huge blow to Barca at a time when there is uncertainty over Lionel Messi's future. Blaugrana captain Messi is due to reach the end of his contract at the end of this season and has been repeatedly linked with PSG.

The club's record goalscorer may see the arrival of an exciting figure such as Haaland as an incentive to stay in Catalonia and a sign of Barcelona's ambition.

Since leaving Salzburg to join Dortmund in mid-season during the 2019-20 campaign, Haaland has scored 49 goals in 49 games across all competitions at club level, including 33 in 31 appearances this term.

Lionel Messi has been tipped to leave Barcelona for either Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

But Haaland could reportedly unlock Messi's future.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND TO CITY MEANS BARCA STAY FOR MESSI?

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland could hold the key to Lionel Messi's future at Barcelona, according to the front page of Thursday's Diario AS.

Haaland is a player in demand, linked with Barca, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

City have been tipped to sign Messi, but should they step up their pursuit of Haaland, the Premier League leaders could reportedly drop their interest in the Barca captain.

 

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- Mundo Deportivo says new Barca president Joan Laporta is preparing a contract renewal for Messi, who is set to become a free agent at season's end.

- Bayern Munich are eyeing a move for Tottenham star Son Heung-min, claims Football Insider. Son has reportedly been offered a bumper new contract by Spurs, but the former Bayer Leverkusen forward is wanted in Munich.

- Sporting CP's Joao Palhinha, Borussia Monchengladbach star Denis Zakaria and Sander Berge of Sheffield United are on the list of midfielders to replace City veteran Fernandinho, reports A Bola.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Juventus and Barca are interested in Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli. The Italy defender is out of contract in 2022 and is reportedly seeking a €6million-a-year contract.

Napoli are eyeing Lazio head coach Simone Inzaghi and sporting director Igli Tare, claims Radio Kiss Kiss Napoli. Gennaro Gattuso has been tipped to leave Napoli at the end of the season, with ex-Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri, Luciano Spalletti and Hellas Verona's Ivan Juric among the possible replacements. But Lazio duo Inzaghi and Tare are being monitored to replace Gattuso and Cristiano Giuntoli in Naples.

United are interested in Lille defender Sven Botman, according to Fabrizio Romano. Sevilla star Jules Kounde has been on United's radar but the club's asking price of €80m (£68m) is too steep.

- Romano also says there is no agreement with United and Paul Pogba over a new contract. Pogba has been linked with former club Juve, Madrid and PSG.

Manchester City need a top number nine like Erling Haaland if they are to compete with the best teams in Europe, according to Shaun Wright-Phillips.

City and Sergio Aguero announced this week that the star striker will be leaving the club after 10 years when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Pep Guardiola's team are among many of the continent's leading sides who have been linked with a transfer pursuit of Borussia Dortmund sensation Haaland.

Aguero has only made five City starts in all competitions this season due to injuries, so they have often deployed a false nine rather than a recognised striker like the Argentina forward or Gabriel Jesus.

Wright-Phillips – who had two spells with City totalling nine seasons – has been impressed by how City have adapted but feels a focal point is still needed in the biggest matches.

"They have to look for a direct replacement," Wright-Phillips told Stats Perform News.

"If you're going to have big team like that without a so-called number nine, it would be strange to a lot of people in the world. 

"You can play with a false nine against a lot of teams, but say you're playing Real Madrid – Sergio Ramos, he'll be happy not to have striker in front of him. 

"Then he can see everything, so there's certain teams in the world that know how to deal with that pretty easily. 

"To have a number nine up there, it gives them a headache, something to think about. And they have to be on their A-game all the time as well."

Haaland is the striker who stands out as the best pick to Wright-Phillips, with Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku among the others forwards to have been linked with City.

The 20-year-old has scored 21 goals in as many Bundesliga games this season and tops the Champions League scoring charts with 10 from six outings.

"For me if you are talking about going for someone, I think I would say Haaland," added Wright-Phillips.

"Not only obviously because of how well he's doing but because of his age as well. They've got him for a good 10 years if they choose to keep him or if he does well. 

"That would suit the City team better, in the respect that most of their players are under 27 or 28, apart from maybe Kevin De Bruyne. 

"There would be nothing wrong with the Haaland decision.

"People say the wages and stuff like that – everyone can see in football what can happen, which is pretty much anything, so I don't put any of that past them. 

"It could be any one of those strikers [Kane, Lukaku, Haaland] – City are going to create chances and you have seen their goalscoring records, they're going to take them the majority of the time."

Robert Lewandowski could have missed his chance to break Gerd Muller's record for goals in a single Bundesliga season, former Bayern Munich forward Roy Makaay says.

Poland striker Lewandowski suffered knee ligament damage in the 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Andorra and is facing a month out of action.

The 32-year-old will miss both legs of the Champions League quarter-final with Paris Saint-Germain and most likely league matches against RB Leipzig, Union Berlin, Wolfsburg, Bayer Leverkusen and Mainz.

With 35 goals scored in the first 25 matchdays of the Bundesliga season, Lewandowski had looked almost certain to match Muller's famous landmark of 40, set back in 1971-72.

However, given the league leaders have only three matches remaining after they face Mainz on April 24, Makaay thinks the record could have slipped beyond Lewandowski's reach.

The former Netherlands international is also concerned about the options available to coach Hansi Flick when it comes to finding a replacement striker.

"For me, Lewandowski has been the best centre-forward in the world for years. What he does inside and outside the penalty area as a number nine is unbelievable," he told Spox.

"It certainly won't be easy [now] for Lewandowski to break the record. This absence is not good news for Bayern. As for his replacement, you'd have to make that [decision] dependent on the opposition. [Serge] Gnabry is more agile than [Eric Maxim] Choupo-Moting."

However, Makaay remains convinced Lewandowski has plenty yet to offer Bayern in seasons to come, suggesting there would be no pressing need to try to sign Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

"Anyone who scores so consistently at that age can only have a great future ahead of them," Makaay said of the Norway star. "But Lewandowski still has a few very good years ahead of him, I'm sure of that."

Makaay, twice a domestic double winner with Bayern, would have relished the chance to play alongside Lewandowski but also identified two other key players he feels would have made his life as a forward easier.

"Lewandowski and I would certainly have made a good partnership, but I'd also have liked to play with a guy like Thomas Muller," he said.

"The person I really like as a personality is Joshua Kimmich. You want a player like that behind you as a striker. In my time, we had Michael Ballack and later Schweini [Bastian Schweinsteiger] – they weren't too bad, either."

Manchester City will turn to Harry Kane if they cannot land Erling Haaland.

It is widely expected City will go hard to sign the Norway striker, who is being pursued by numerous big clubs.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea are all interested in the Borussia Dortmund man.

 

TOP STORY - KANE IN CITY'S SIGHTS

The Times reports that if City fail to win the race for Haaland's signature they will consider making an offer for Tottenham talisman Kane.

Kane is seven years older than Haaland but has a proven Premier League goal scoring record.

City have already confirmed Sergio Aguero's exit at the end of the season and are in the market to bolster their forward ranks.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail is reporting that City's main priorities in the transfer market are to sign Haaland and Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish, as they turn to a younger generation of talent. The duo are expected to cost £200 million.

- Football Insider has reported Lionel Messi has requested FC Barcelona sign countryman Aguero as part of his own negotiations to stay with the Catalans. Mundo Deportivo claims Aguero is not a priority signing for Barca, with Memphis Depay, Romelu Lukaku and Haaland top of the list.

- Gianluigi Donnarumma has been linked with a host of big clubs and Sky Sport Italia are reporting that contract talks with AC Milan are at a standstill. Milan are allegedly offering €7million per-year deal but the goalkeeper wants more.

- Voetbalkrant are reporting Southampton are interested in Anderlecht's teenage defender Marco Kana.

- Ex-Borussia Dortmund and Hertha Berlin coach Lucien Favre is interested in becoming Celtic's new coach, according to the Daily Mail.

- Fichajes reports Leeds United's Rodrigo is unhappy in England and wants to return to Spain, with Real Betis and Sevilla in the mix.

Erling Haaland would provide "long-term value" for Manchester City even if the club have to splash the cash to sign him as a replacement for Sergio Aguero, says Richard Dunne.

City and Aguero confirmed on Monday that the Argentina striker will be leaving when his contract expires at the end of the season.

A glittering 10-year stint at City after signing from Atletico Madrid has seen him become the club's record goalscorer with 257 strikes to his name.

City were already being linked with Borussia Dortmund sensation Haaland before the Aguero announcement.

Haaland has been prolific since signing for Dortmund in January 2020 and reportedly has a €180million asking price with all of Europe's top clubs likely to pursue him in the transfer market.

Even though Haaland would be an expensive addition, Dunne – who was a City stalwart between 2000 and 2009 - thinks it is a move worth making.

"If you are looking for a number nine, someone who is going to get you goals and is going to be long-term value for money, I think Haaland is the one," Dunne said to Stats Perform News.

"He is still very young, he is obviously proven in his first club [Salzburg], and he has moved on to Dortmund.

"He has been amazing and has scored goals in the Champions League. He looks like a good bet in terms of who is going to be able to do it long term. 

"He's 21 this year, he's got plenty of years ahead of him. For me he seems the most exciting [potential Aguero replacement].

"It would be great to see him in the Premier League. You can see him fitting into that Man City team where his job is basically stand in the middle of the box and score goals. 

"City create so many chances and hopefully he'll be able to get the opportunity to score a handful." 

Dunne believes the upcoming Champions League quarter-final tie between Dortmund and City gives Haaland an opportunity to make a statement to Pep Guardiola, even though the Premier League side will already know everything about him.

He continued: "It is not so much an audition - Man City, there's a documentary on their scouting network and how they go about their things. 

"It's never about one game, they're going to know everything about Haaland if he signs. Same on any other striker. 

"But the opportunity to go and prove yourself, and show your potential new club, potential new manager what you can do, I'm sure for Haaland he'll feel like it's a great stage for him to go make a statement. 

"It's great that he scores goals in the Champions League, he's done it. I think the next objective is to score goals against big teams in later rounds of the Champions League. 

"This is a huge opportunity for him, and I'm sure Man City will have done their homework. They'll be praying to god that it's one of those nights that he doesn't have a good one and they can keep him quiet."

If City do not go down the route of a big-name signing, Dunne believes they are well prepared based on this season to get results without an established number nine, even if that is not an ideal scenario.

He expects to see enhanced roles for Gabriel Jesus and youngster Liam Delap in the future.

"I think Manchester City have sort of come up with a system that works for them without Aguero," said Dunne. 

"If Aguero was fit and available all the time, I'm sure he would have played, and Guardiola would have liked to have that number nine in the team. 

"So I'd imagine, he will probably look for a centre-forward. Someone so they have options, they can change things around. 

"Gabriel Jesus is still there. He's obviously going to take a bit more responsibility. In the youth team they have Liam Delap who is starting to break through. They have options within the club. 

"But whether they go and spend huge amounts of money on Haaland, or someone like that, I don't know. 

"They tend to be really good with their transfer business and a lot of stuff has been done under the radar and then they produce a star from nowhere. 

"I think they'll be happy enough with what's in the squad, add Ferran Torres to that as well, they've got enough."

City are 14 points clear at the top of the Premier League and are still in with a chance of winning the quadruple in Aguero's final season.

Mino Raiola believes he may have been too cautious by moving his star client Erling Haaland to Borussia Dortmund.

The 20-year-old sensation joined Dortmund from Salzburg in January 2020 and has been on a goalscoring frenzy ever since.

Dortmund have reportedly set a €180million price tag for Haaland, with Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Real Madrid all expected to compete for his signature.

With a reported release clause in the striker's contract from 2022, clubs will need to meet Dortmund's demands if they wish to sign Haaland a year earlier than that.

Raiola believes the form Haaland has shown in Dortmund colours proves he could have moved directly to one of the continent's biggest clubs.

"With Haaland, everybody was wrong," the super agent told The Athletic.

"He did things much quicker than everybody imagined. Haaland is in front of his own development. He is ahead of his own schedule. 

"Maybe I was too careful when I said: 'Oh no, let's move to Dortmund instead of I-don't-know-where.

"This boy — I'm 100 per cent convinced and everybody's convinced — can move to any club, wherever he wants, already on this level. 

"And he could have done that last year.

"But maybe last year there were still teams [saying], 'Oh, he was in Red Bull (Salzburg), can he do it in another club?'.

"He is quicker than his own prediction. So yeah, Haaland is the talk of the town."

Raiola insisted it was not completely certain that Haaland will leave Dortmund at the end of the season and opened up on the decision for him not to join United.

The Norway forward has scored 21 goals in as many Bundesliga games this season, adding another 10 from six in the Champions League, a competition where he tops the scoring charts.

United, meanwhile, are still searching for a long-term solution at the number nine position despite bringing in Edinson Cavani on a free transfer last year.

"There was no fall-out between me and [United executive vice-chairman] Ed Woodward," added Raiola.

"I do not know if Manchester United are briefing this but if they are then they are covering their own loss and that I find strange and disappointing.

"It was just a normal negotiation and the player has chosen a different path.  

"If they want to blame someone then, fine, blame me but the player is happy. He has made his choice and we went through a normal process.

"This is a moment of waiting and seeing what is in the best interest of the player. 

"Sometimes the best interest of the player is not to move when everybody says he has to move.

"And sometimes it is in the best interest of the player to move when everybody says he has to stay. So we will see what happens."

Timo Werner only joined Chelsea at the start of the season, but could he leave Stamford Bridge?

Premier League giants Chelsea are among the clubs interested in Erling Haaland.

But reports claim Chelsea are not prepared to sanction a Werner exit.

 

TOP STORY – NO CHELSEA EXIT FOR WERNER

Chelsea are not planning on selling Timo Werner as they eye Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, according to Telegraph.

Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea have been heavily linked with Haaland, who is also being targeted by Real Madrid, Manchester City, Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

But Chelsea are against the idea of parting with Werner or using the German forward in a deal to prise Haaland to Stamford Bridge after one season in London.

 

ROUND-UP

Barca are eyeing a move for Sergio Aguero after City announced their all-time leading goalscorer will leave the club on a free transfer at season's end, claims Fabrizio Romano. Inter, Chelsea and PSG have also been linked.

- Gazzetta dello Sport reports Kalidou Koulibaly is likely to leave Napoli at the end of the season. Koulibaly has been linked with United, PSG and Bayern Munich previously.

- While a Koulibaly departure is on the cards, could legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon arrive? Gazzetta dello Sport claims Napoli are interested in the Juventus great, who is searching for regular football.

Cristiano Ronaldo will decide his future before May, according to Tuttosport. The Juventus superstar has been linked with former clubs Madrid and United, as well as PSG.

- Fiorentina's Dusan Vlahovic, Torino captain Andrea Belotti, PSV's Donyell Malen, AZ's Myron Boadu and Celtic star Odsonne Edouard are on Milan's shortlist of strikers in the transfer window, reports Calciomercato.

- The Athletic and other outlets claim Liverpool are nearing a deal to sign RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate. Leipzig sporting director Markus Krosche played down the possible transfer in an interview with Stats Perform News.

Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe have been tipped to join Real Madrid.

But could Romelu Lukaku swap Inter for Madrid?

Madrid are reportedly keen on the in-form star.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID TRACKING LUKAKU

Real Madrid are interested in Inter star Romelu Lukaku, according to the Telegraph via Mundo Deportivo.

LaLiga champions Madrid have been heavily linked with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe.

But Madrid are ready to bid for Lukaku, who is also reportedly wanted by former club Chelsea and Spanish giants Barcelona.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca reports Atletico Madrid will not lower their asking price for star midfielder Marcos Llorente, who has been linked with Manchester United as well as City. Atletico will only begin negotiations if his £103million (€120m) release clause is triggered.

- Cuatro says Madrid do not want Cristiano Ronaldo to return from Juve as Mbappe and Haaland are their primary targets. United and PSG are both interested in Ronaldo.

Liverpool and Chelsea are chasing Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard, claims Diario AS. Odegaard is currently on loan at Arsenal, who want to make the deal permanent.

- ASRomaLive.it says Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette is wanted by Serie A side Roma, who are also eyeing Torino captain and Milan target Andrea Belotti.

Barca, Juventus and PSG are lining up to sign City veteran Sergio Aguero, reports Marca. Aguero is out of contract at season's end. Inter and Chelsea have also been linked.

- Fabrizio Romano says Madrid are still leading the race to sign Bayern Munich's soon-to-be free agent David Alaba, who has also been linked with Barca, Liverpool and PSG.

- Bundesliga champions Bayern are working to extend Leon Goretzka's contract, according to Romano.

Liverpool have set their sights on Torino right-back Wilfried Singo, claims Tuttosport. The 20-year-old has also caught Milan's attention.

Another day, another Erling Haaland rumour.

Haaland's future is dominating headlines amid widespread interest in Europe.

Barcelona are reportedly interested in the Borussia Dortmund sensation.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI OUT, HAALAND IN?

Barcelona have identified Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland as a top transfer priority if Lionel Messi leaves at the end of the season, according to Diario AS.

Messi is out of contract at season's end and the superstar Barca captain has been tipped to join either Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City.

Should Messi depart, Haaland is wanted by Barca and head coach Ronald Koeman, though all eyes will be on Lyon forward Memphis Depay if the former remains at Camp Nou.

Haaland has also been linked with Manchester United, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Juventus, PSG, Liverpool and City.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano claims City are convinced Kevin De Bruyne will sign a new contract with the club. Raheem Sterling's contract is also on the agenda, while soon-to-be free agent Sergio Aguero will decide his future in the coming weeks. Aguero has been linked with Inter, Barca and Chelsea.

United are set to challenge Madrid in the chase to sign Villarreal defender Pau Torres, reports The Mirror. United are keen to bolster their defence amid links with Madrid pair Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, Sevilla's Jules Kounde and RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate.

- Calciomercato says Inter will reject any offers for star Romelu Lukaku. It comes as Chelsea and Barca reportedly eye the in-form Belgian.

Barca are monitoring the future of Valencia star Jose Luis Gaya, according to Diario AS. The captain is negotiating a new contract with Valencia.

- Napoli and Spain midfielder Fabian Ruiz is wanted by LaLiga trip Barca, Madrid and Atletico Madrid, claims Diario Sport.

- Mundo Deportivo reports Arsenal are considering a move for Real Betis star Nabil Fekir amid doubts over loanees Martin Odegaard and Dani Ceballos.

Romelu Lukaku is Chelsea's back-up plan if they cannot land Erling Haaland.

Haaland is being circled by several top clubs including Chelsea, along with Manchester City and Real Madrid.

The Borussia Dortmund talent will demand a significant transfer fee which the Blues may be able to afford.

 

TOP STORY – LUKAKU FIRMS AS CHELSEA'S PLAN B

Chelsea have turned their attention to their former striker Romelu Lukaku as they look to bolster their forward options.

The Telegraph reports that Haaland still remains top priority but Inter forward Lukaku is being heavily considered.

The Manchester Evening News are also reporting City are interested in Lukaku as both clubs prepare to miss out on Haaland.

Inter have indicated that Lukaku, who was at Chelsea from 2011 to 2014 but spent spells on loan at West Brom and Everton, is not for sale.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca's front page discusses Real Madrid setting Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe as their transfer priorities amid a major reconstruction whilst reinforcing a Cristiano Ronaldo return is not part of their plans.

- ESPN claim Borussia Dortmund have set a €180m valuation on Haaland, as numerous clubs circle for the Norwegian forward's services.

- Manchester United are considering offering Jesse Lingard a new deal following his exceptional form on loan at West Ham United, according to The Sun.

- AS is reporting that Manchester United have also made an approach to sign Atletico Madrid's Marcos Llorente for £68.5m.

- Turkish outlet Ajansspor reports that Fenerbahce have contacted ex-Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri about potentially taking up their head coach role.

Barcelona have reportedly joined the queue chasing Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

Haaland is a player in demand following his exploits for Bundesliga outfit Dortmund.

The Norway international could be among a number of new recruits at Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND WANTED AT CAMP NOU

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman is leading the club's recruitment this off-season and has identified Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland as a key target, according to Diario AS.

Haaland has been linked with Barca, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Liverpool.

Koeman is also reportedly eyeing City defender Eric Garcia, Lyon captain Memphis Depay and soon-to-be Liverpool free agent Georginio Wijnaldum.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fresh from netting a hat-trick to knock Tottenham out of the Europa League, Dinamo Zagreb's Mislav Orsic has been linked with a move to London rivals Arsenal by The Sun, which claims the Gunners are looking at the Croatian attacker as an off-season signing.

- Marca claims Arsenal will not be able to sign on-loan Martin Odegaard on a permanent deal as parent club Real Madrid see him as part of their long-term future plans.

Roma want either Maurizio Sarri or Massimiliano Allegri to be their next coach to replace Paulo Fonseca, according to Messaggero.

- Calciomercato says rumoured Premier League target Franck Kessie has rejected Milan's latest contract extension offer.

- Schalke's California-born 20-year-old Matthew Hoppe is hot property and Valencia are the latest club to join the chase, alongside TottenhamBarcelona, Ajax and PSV, according to AS.

- The Sun reports in-form Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho will sign a new deal with the club.

Norway's players will face no disciplinary action from FIFA for their decision to wear T-shirts with the message 'Human rights on and off the pitch' to show their support for migrant workers in Qatar.

Ahead of Wednesday's 3-0 victory over Gibraltar in the opening game of their 2022 World Cup qualification campaign, Norway's team – including star striker Erling Haaland and playmaker Martin Odegaard, who is also captain – wore the T-shirts during the national anthems.

Odegaard had said before the game that the team were planning to make their feelings clear, with Norwegian clubs having pressurised the country's football association to boycott the upcoming World Cup, which takes place in November and December next year.

These objections followed a report in The Guardian newspaper in February revealing that over 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had died in Qatar since the country was awarded the 2022 World Cup in 2010, seeing off competition from the United States, Australia, South Korea and Japan.

The report also suggested that the actual death toll would be much higher, due to a lack of data from a number of countries such as the Philippines and Kenya, while deaths that occurred late in 2020 were not accounted for.

In response, the Qatar organising committee stated: "We deeply regret all of these tragedies and investigated each incident to ensure lessons were learned. We have always maintained transparency around this issue and dispute inaccurate claims around the number of workers who have died on our projects."

The Qatari government, meanwhile, insisted the mortality rate was "within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population".

In the warm-up, Norway's players wore T-shirts with a different message: 'Respect on and off the pitch'.

FIFA's laws prohibit players from bearing "any political, religious or personal slogans", but in this instance, football's governing body has confirmed Norway will not have a case to answer.

"FIFA believes in the freedom of speech, and in the power of football as a force for good," a statement read.

"No disciplinary proceedings in relation to this matter will be opened by FIFA."

Lionel Messi is "the best player in history" and should stay at Barcelona, claims LaLiga president Javier Tebas, who laughed off the suggestion of Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland joining a Spanish club.

On Sunday, Messi overtook Xavi as the player with the most appearances for Barca, six days after the 33-year-old scored a 20th LaLiga player for the 13th successive season – another record.

The Argentina forward has been involved in more goals in 2021 than any other player across Europe's 'top five' leagues, but he still has not tied his future to the Catalan club, who he wished to leave in 2020.

Messi elected to stay and see out the last year of his contract, but his future remains up in the air with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain interested.

Tebas has consistently urged Messi to remain in Spain but has also refuted the suggestion LaLiga would suffer markedly without the Barca star, citing examples of Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo leaving for PSG and Juventus respectively.

He reiterated those comments on Wednesday, suggesting Messi would damage his "brand" by moving to another club.

"If I were Messi's advisor I would tell him, 'Stay at Barca'," Tebas told reporters.

"I want Messi to stay. He is the best player in history. If you are thinking about his last years of football, he should continue to be linked to the Barcelona brand.

"He started at Barcelona and I think he should continue at Barca. If I was his advisor, I would tell him he must do everything possible to stay at Barca."

While Messi continues to break records at Barca, his era of dominance in European football appears to be coming to an end.

Mbappe and Haaland are the players seemingly destined to take the baton from Messi and Ronaldo, with the Borussia Dortmund and PSG stars already having been pitted against each other by media outlets across the continent.

Mbappe, 22, hit his 100th Ligue 1 goal in a 4-2 win over Lyon on Sunday, while 20-year-old Haaland has been in sensational form since breaking through with Salzburg last season.

Between them, the duo have shared 41 goals in all competitions this season (21 for Haaland, 20 for Mbappe), while they have both converted 17 of the 27 "big chances" they have been afforded at a rate of 62.96 per cent.

Often utilised in a wide role for PSG, Mbappe has provided six assists and crafted 25 chances. Haaland has also proved his worth from a creative standpoint, teeing up four goals and forging 19 opportunities for team-mates to score.

Mbappe has often been linked with a move to Barca or Real Madrid but is in talks with PSG over a new deal, while Haaland is reportedly a priority target for Pep Guardiola's City, and Tebas sees little chance of either player moving to LaLiga.

"How, with a magic trick?" Tebas quipped when asked of the likelihood of seeing Mbappe or Haaland playing in Spain.

"Barca have to move out many players to bring a star, Madrid are not in position to do it either. Apart from the clubs owned by nation states, everyone has financial issues."

Could Harry Kane end up at Real Madrid?

Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland is one of Europe's most sought-after and expensive players, while Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe also commands a hefty fee.

With that in mind, Tottenham's Kane has reportedly emerged as a transfer target in the Spanish capital.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID ADD KANE TO LIST

Real Madrid are interested in signing Tottenham star Harry Kane, according to SER Deportivo.

Madrid have been heavily linked with in-demand Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe.

But Madrid's hierarchy reportedly feel a deal to prise Kane from Tottenham may be easier.

 

ROUND-UP

- Wednesday's Marca and Diario AS newspapers are dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo. Marca claims Ronaldo would exit Juventus to return to Madrid, who he left in 2018. Diario AS says Juve are ready to listen to offers for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner. Ronaldo has also been linked with former club Manchester United.

- Sport reports Manchester City defender Eric Garcia will join Barcelona on a five-year deal. It will be the first major signing under new president Joan Laporta as the LaLiga giants also eye Haaland and look to re-sign superstar captain Lionel Messi, who has been tipped to join either PSG or City on a free transfer at season's end.

- TV3 claims Ronald Koeman will continue as Barca head coach in 2021-22 following talks with Laporta. RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann and club great Xavi had been linked.

Inter are ready to reignite their interest in Udinese star Rodrigo De Paul, claims Calciomercato. The Serie A leaders have previously been linked with the Argentina midfielder. Antonio Conte's Inter are also tracking Madrid outcast Isco, according to Sport.

- L'Equipe claims United are considering a move for Tottenham captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris amid doubts over David de Gea. Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma has also emerged as a possible target.

Bayern Munich are in talks to sign Madrid attacker Lucas Vazquez on a free transfer, according to AS.

Liverpool, Juventus and Roma are among clubs interested in Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez, says AS. The 31-year-old is out of contract at the end of 2021-22.

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