Lionel Messi's goal and his celebration in honour of Diego Maradona were "great in every sense", according to Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman.

Messi scored in fine style to cap a 4-0 victory over Osasuna at Camp Nou on Sunday, a game that was preceded by a tribute to former Barca star Maradona, who died on Wednesday.

Having found the net, Messi removed his Barca shirt to reveal a Newell's Old Boys jersey bearing Maradona's famous number 10. The 1986 World Cup winner spent a season at the club, where Messi was later a youth player, towards the end of his career.

Koeman was impressed both with his captain's finish and with the way he chose to pay his respects to his Argentine compatriot.

"These are the things of a great player: first because of the play and the goal, and second because of the gesture towards Maradona. It was something really great in every sense," Koeman said.

"I didn't know Leo was going to do that celebration."

Antoine Griezmann was arguably Barca's star performer against Osasuna, assisting Philippe Coutinho's goal after having scored a stunning volley three minutes before half-time.

The France international at last appears to be finding his feet for the Catalans, having been directly involved in six goals in his past six matches after contributing to just one in the previous 20.

"Antoine looked very good today," said Koeman. "From his position, he played with a lot of freedom, he gave an assist and scored a great goal. This is the player we want.

"I don't think he has changed. He always worked hard to have this opportunity, but he scored a great goal and now it seems he feels freer on the pitch and that's a positive."

The opening goal was scored by Martin Braithwaite, who has scored in consecutive matches for the first time since January for Leganes and has contributed three goals and one assist in his most recent four games.

"We needed more of a number nine today to fix the centre-backs and to be able to find more space behind a team that closes up at the back," Koeman said.

"Martin is working very well. We know the team works well in defence, they played with five at the back, and we had to play with a high rhythm with the ball to look for goal."

The only sour note for Barca was the loss of defender Clement Lenglet to what looked like an ankle problem, with Koeman having already seen Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti and Ronald Araujo succumb to injuries.

However, the coach hopes his remaining senior centre-back has not suffered anything serious.

"I have spoken with the doctor and it seems we will have to wait for tomorrow for tests, but it does not seem that serious," Koeman said.

"I don't know about Wednesday's game [against Ferencvaros in the Champions League] but I hope it's nothing major."

Lionel Messi paid tribute to Diego Maradona on Sunday with a goal celebration that came as a "beautiful surprise" to his Barcelona team-mates.

Former Barca and Argentina great Maradona died on Wednesday at the age of 60 and has been honoured before all LaLiga matches over the weekend.

Messi scored his side's fourth goal in the 4-0 win over Osasuna and afterwards removed his Barca shirt to reveal a Newell's Old Boys jersey emblazoned with Maradona's famous number 10.

He then pointedly saluted the sky in honour of his compatriot, who spent a season at Newell's - the club where Messi began his youth career.

Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho each got a goal in Barca's comfortable victory, along with striker Martin Braithwaite, who opened the scoring in the first half.

They described afterwards how they were not aware of what Messi was planning on a moving day at Camp Nou, where Maradona played from 1982 to 1984.

"We lost Maradona, a global idol, we all miss him," Coutinho said.

"We didn't know what Messi had prepared to honour Maradona," added Griezmann. "It was a beautiful surprise."

Newell's responded through their English Twitter account, saying: "It's all about number 10. The best player in the world and his tribute to #D10S."

Barca's victory moved them into eighth in the table, for a few hours at least, nine points behind leaders Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid in second.

Antoine Griezmann starred and Lionel Messi paid tribute to Diego Maradona as Barcelona beat Osasuna 4-0 at Camp Nou on Sunday.

Ronald Koeman had called on his players to produce a performance befitting the former Barca and Argentina star, who died this week.

They duly delivered, Griezmann scoring the pick of the goals in a fine performance against a side who won 2-1 at this ground in July.

There were also goals from Martin Braithwaite, Philippe Coutinho and Messi, who honoured compatriot Maradona with his celebration after scoring the fourth.

A brilliant goal-line clearance from Unai Garcia stopped Coutinho from opening the scoring after Griezmann teed up the Brazilian.

The breakthrough eventually came in scrappy fashion. Messi's pass split the defence, Jordi Alba found Coutinho, Sergio Herrera saved his shot and Braithwaite's rebound, but the latter managed to bundle the ball over the line with Messi's help.

Ante Budimir turned past Marc-Andre ter Stegen after a brilliant double save by the keeper, but the goal was correctly ruled out for offside against Oier Sanjurjo.

Barca doubled their lead just two minutes later, Griezmann walloping a volley past the motionless Herrera after Alba's cross had been cleared to the edge of the box.

Griezmann turned provider 11 minutes into the second half, teeing up Coutinho for a tap-in after good work from Braithwaite to win back possession in the Osasuna half.

A good outing for the Catalans was soured when they suffered another defensive injury, Clement Lenglet unable to continue after apparently taking damage to his ankle.

Roberto Torres rattled the post before Ousmane Dembele had a goal ruled out for offside, but Messi soon made it 4-0 with a fierce strike from the edge of the box, the Argentine then removing his Barca shirt to reveal a Newell's Old Boys jersey emblazoned with the number 10.

What does it mean? Barca edge closer to leaders

Barca's victory moves them into seventh place, three points behind champions Real Madrid in fourth, with a game in hand.

They can take some confidence into coming league matches with Cadiz and Levante before the meeting with leaders Real Sociedad on December 16.

Osasuna are 15th, three points above the relegation places.

A turning point for Griezmann?

Griezmann seemed to vent months of frustration with his emphatic volley, but he had already looked Barca's brightest attacking player before then.

The France star hit the target with three of his four shots, completed more passes than any other forward (68) and looked, at last, to be enjoying himself.

Defensive worries abound

Any serious injury to Lenglet would leave Barca without a fit senior centre-back, with Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti and Ronald Araujo all sidelined.

Osasuna offered scant attacking threat, with only three shots on target throughout, but there are tougher opponents to come in December.

What's next?

Barca, who have already qualified for the Champions League last 16, visit Ferencvaros on Wednesday before next Saturday's league trip to Cadiz. Osasuna have a week to prepare for a home game against Real Betis.

Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong are all back in the Barcelona squad for Sunday's LaLiga clash with Osasuna.

Messi and De Jong were afforded rests in midweek, meaning they missed the 4-0 Champions League win away to Dynamo Kiev.

But both are likely to come straight back into the starting XI at Camp Nou on Sunday, when Messi will be hoping to continue his fine run against Osasuna, having scored 22 goals in 18 LaLiga meetings with the Pamplona side.

Busquets has not played for Barca since the 5-2 win over Real Betis on November 7 as he sustained a knee injury on international duty with Spain.

It is unclear if Busquets is to start, but he has seemingly been deemed fit enough to at least be on the bench.

Sergino Dest has been included in the selection after reportedly suffering with a muscular problem.

Should he be unable to take up a place on the bench, B team defender Oscar Minguez is also there to fill in.

Barca's most recent results against Osasuna have left a lot to be desired, having failed to win either of their previous two clashes.

Osasuna might fancy their chances of extending that run, too. After all, Barca's 11 points from eight games this term is their worst record at this point since 1991-92.

 

Gerard Pique hopes Barcelona can convince Lionel Messi to stay at the club for years to come.

Messi, 33, sensationally requested to leave the LaLiga giants during the close season, but ended up staying at the club.

However, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is linked with the likes of Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter with his contract expiring at the end of the season.

But Pique hopes Messi will remain at Barca, where he has spent his entire professional career.

"We will have to ask Leo. It is his personal decision … and we will see what happens," the defender told Radio Marca on Friday.

"I believe that as long as he continues to wear the Barca shirt there is always hope.

"We hope they can seduce him so that he stays more years."

Messi has struggled to live up to his usual form so far this season, scoring six goals in 11 games – including three in eight in LaLiga.

He is without an assist in LaLiga, while he has created just 2.1 chances per 90 minutes – his lowest since 2012-13 (1.6). His 0.4 big chances created per 90 minutes is also the lowest since that campaign.

It comes with Barcelona struggling in 13th in the table and awaiting a presidential election next year.

Pique, who suffered a knee injury earlier this month, said he had previously thought about one day becoming the club's president.

"If I see that I can contribute things that can help the club then I will decide," he said.

"It is an illusion that I have always had, but I don't know if it will come true."

LaLiga president Javier Tebas said he wants Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi in Spain, just like he wants Cristiano Ronaldo, Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp in the league.

Messi's future remains an important topic at embattled LaLiga giants Barca after he handed in a transfer request following a tumultuous 2019-20 season.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner was tipped to join Premier League powerhouse Manchester City before opting to remain in Spain, though he has since been linked to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.

Tebas was asked about Messi's future, and he played down the impact of the Argentina skipper's possible exit.

"I want Messi in LaLiga, just as I want [Tottenham head coach] Mourinho, [City manager] Guardiola, [Liverpool boss] Klopp, [Juventus superstar] Cristiano…," Tebas said at the World Football Summit. "They all help you grow.

"It's not essential. They're not as important as people say. Neymar left. It's necessary to have a strategy, a player can help you, but it's not essential.

"We've got the deals done for the next four seasons in nearly all territories. It can affect sponsorships somewhat, but we've really worked hard on the league's brand and we wouldn't notice it.

"I hope that Messi, who's the best player ever, finished his career here."

Messi has spent his entire senior career at Camp Nou, where he emerged from Barca's youth team in 2004.

Since debuting, Messi has become Barca's all-time leading scorer and won a club-record 34 trophies, including 10 LaLiga titles and four Champions League crowns.

In 2020-21, Messi has scored three goals in eight LaLiga matches for 13th-placed Barca, who are 12 points adrift of leaders Real Sociedad.

Messi has six goals across all competitions as Ronald Koeman's Barca struggle this season.

Diego Maradona was saluted by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as an "eternal" wonder of the football world after his death at the age of 60.

Messi, a modern-day Argentinian superstar who followed in the footsteps of his idol by starring for Barcelona and the national team, posted a picture of himself with a beaming smile alongside Maradona.

He wrote: "A very sad day for all Argentines and for football. He leaves us but does not leave, because Diego is eternal.

"I keep all the beautiful moments I experienced with him and I wanted to take the opportunity to send my condolences to all his family and friends. RIP."

Robert Lewandowski is among the leading contenders for The Best FIFA Men's Player in 2020 after he was named among 11 nominees on Wednesday.

The Bayern Munich superstar fired his side to the treble in 2019-20 and has continued his outstanding form at the start of the new season.

With no Ballon d'Or this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, FIFA's award represents Lewandowski's best chance of recognition for a standout year.

He has tough competition in the form of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and four Liverpool players, but the 32-year-old must surely be considered the frontrunner.

Lewandowski's potential success in this category would be built on Bayern's Champions League triumph and Opta data in that competition since the start of last season helps make his case.

LEADING THE WAY

Virgil van Dijk ran Messi close in 2019, but this year's top honour surely belongs to an attacker - particularly with the Liverpool centre-back and Sergio Ramos playing just eight and seven games respectively over this span due to injury and suspension.

Lewandowski is therefore the obvious choice. He has scored 17 goals in 13 games; for contrast, Messi has six goals and Ronaldo five.

The Poland international has benefited from playing at the forefront of a brilliant team, however, and has had by far the most shots of any player in this time.

His 63 attempts outperform Messi's second-placed 48 by 15. Ronaldo is third with 47, with the leading five shot-takers all nominated as Mohamed Salah (42) and Kylian Mbappe (41) are next on that list.

But Lewandowski has made the most of these opportunities, hitting the target 36 times - another high.

The striker's shot conversion rate of 27.0 per cent far outstrips Salah (14.3 per cent), Neymar (13.3 per cent), Sadio Mane (12.5 per cent), Messi (also 12.5 per cent), Mbappe (12.2 per cent) and Ronaldo (10.6 per cent).

For balance, Ramos is the leading scorer among defenders in this period, netting three goals.

MISSED THE CUT

Although Thiago Alcantara, who has since departed for Liverpool, was included, it was perhaps slightly surprising to see only two members of Bayern's treble-winning team make the list.

The players who created Lewandowski's opportunities went unrewarded.

Joshua Kimmich has a joint-high seven assists and has created the most chances of any player with 38. Thomas Muller played 31 key passes.

Similarly, at Paris Saint-Germain, where Neymar and Mbappe are considered, Angel Di Maria supplied six assists, 24 chances and 12 big chances.

One admission who will surely make the cut in the years to come is Erling Haaland, widely considered the heir to Lewandowski's crown as the Bundesliga's leading marksman.

The 20-year-old Borussia Dortmund man, who was named the 2020 Golden Boy, is the only player to come close to Lewandowski's level of productivity in the Champions League.

Despite playing the first half of last season at Salzburg, who did not qualify from their group, Haaland has 16 goals in just 12 games.

Serge Gnabry, another team-mate of Lewandowski's, is third for goals behind the pair but has a relatively modest nine.

Of Haaland's 40 shots, 24 have hit the target - a tally beaten only by Lewandowski and matched by Messi (from eight more attempts). A shot conversion rate of 40 per cent is the best mark of any player with 40 or more shots.

This might well be Lewandowski's year, but the future is not far away.

Liverpool have accounted for four of the 11 nominations for The Best FIFA men's player award.

The Premier League champions have Virgil van Dijk, the 2019 runner-up to Lionel Messi in this category, recognised along with Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Thiago Alcantara, who joined in the last transfer window after winning the treble with Bayern Munich.

Messi and two-time award winner Cristiano Ronaldo are also on the shortlist along with Paris Saint-Germain forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Robert Lewandowski is among the favourites to win the award, with Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne and Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos the other nominees.

FIFA confirmed last week its The Best awards will go ahead as a virtual event on December 17 despite France Football's Ballon d'Or being cancelled in 2020.

With football across the globe impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and France's Ligue 1 season notably curtailed in 2019-20, the call was made earlier in July that no Ballon d'Or would be awarded.

The decision frustrated Bayern's Lewandowski, the apparent favourite to succeed record-breaking six-time winner Lionel Messi.

But Lewandowski could yet be recognised as FIFA maintains its plans to honour the leading men's and women's players and coaches. 

Voting will take place between November 25 and December 9 ahead of the awards ceremony eight days later.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson is nominated for The Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper award, which he won in 2019.

There are six goalkeepers up for the accolade, with Bayern's Manuel Neuer likely to be tough to beat amid competition from Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Jan Oblak, Keylor Navas and Thibaut Courtois.

Madrid shot stopper Courtois won the award in 2018, a year after Gianluigi Buffon claimed the inaugural edition.

Manchester City are preparing long-term plans for Lionel Messi.

Messi, 33, is coming out of contract at Barcelona at the end of the season and is linked with a move, having sensationally requested a transfer ahead of 2020-21.

Strongly linked with Messi, City are making long-term plans for the Argentina star.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY PREPARE 10-YEAR PLAN FOR MESSI

Manchester City are preparing a 10-year plan for Barcelona star Messi, according to The Times.

The report says the Premier League club are expected to launch another attempt to sign the superstar at the beginning of 2021 and will offer him opportunities with the City Football Group (CFG) after he plays for City.

Messi has scored six goals in 11 games for Barcelona this season.

ROUND-UP

- Amid an injury crisis in defence, Barcelona's priorities have changed. Goal reports the LaLiga giants are focusing on Manchester City defender Eric Garcia and not Lyon star Memphis Depay, following the knee injury suffered by Gerard Pique.

- Thiago Silva has made quite an impression at Chelsea. The defender signed a one-year deal ahead of this season and Tuttomercatoweb reports there have already been initial contacts to extend his contract until 2022.

- The news is a little different for Jerome Boateng. Sport Bild reports Bayern Munich have already decided not to extend the defender's contract, which expires at the end of the season.

- Valencia's 17-year-old midfielder Yunus Musah appears to be catching the eye. 90min reports Arsenal are among the Premier League sides monitoring the teenager. The two-time United States international came through Arsenal's academy before joining Valencia in 2019.

Ronald Koeman claimed there was nothing sinister behind his decision not to start Antoine Griezmann in Barcelona's 4-0 win over Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The France international was named among the substitutes and replaced Philippe Coutinho in the 66th minute of the contest, going on to score a goal in injury time.

Griezmann's relationship with Barcelona star Lionel Messi, who was rested for the trip to Ukraine, has been under scrutiny recently, after comments by his former agent and his uncle.

However, Koeman said Griezmann was "happy" at Camp Nou and he was just being cautious with the 29-year-old's workload.

"Griezmann was on the bench solely for a little physical problem we wanted to be careful with," Koeman told a news conference after the game.

"It's vital to give rest to some and playing time to those who work hard in training every day but haven't played a lot.

"I have seen him [Griezmann] work from the beginning. He is a happy player, who always gives his best for the team and the club.

"Too bad he has no luck scoring more goals. The only way to change this is to work harder. He is trying."

Koeman claimed Barca's victory over Dynamo, which secured their place in the Champions League last 16, was the type of performance he wants to see repeated in LaLiga.

The Blaugrana are languishing in 13th place in the table after three wins, three defeats and two draws from their opening eight matches.

It is their worst start to a season at this stage in LaLiga since the 1991-92 campaign.

"This is the image of Barcelona we want to see," added the Barca head coach. "I liked the collective performance. They have worked hard, they pushed.

"They dominated the game sufficiently to be proud of their performance. We perhaps lacked a bit of effectiveness in the first half but overall I'm very happy.

"We have seen a very hungry team. We scored four goals, important players were able to rest and the youngsters have deserved these minutes. They have delivered. I highlight the whole team."

Martin Braithwaite scored twice as Barcelona eased to a 4-0 victory over Dynamo Kiev in Champions League Group G on Tuesday.

After an underwhelming first-half display, Ronald Koeman's side took the lead early in the second period with a fine finish from Sergino Dest.

Braithwaite netted his first goal in Europe for Barca with a close-range finish from a corner before he added his second of the game from the penalty spot.

Substitute Antoine Griezmann put the gloss on the win in injury time with a clinical finish from the inside the box.

Barca completed the victory without Lionel Messi, who did not make the trip to Kiev after Koeman gave him a break following a hectic schedule.

Koeman rotated his squad as he gave first starts of the season to Carles Alena, Junior Firpo and Braithwaite, while Oscar Mingueza made his first-team debut.

The side named by the Dutchman had an average age of 24 years and 206 days, which was the club’s youngest in the Champions League since 2011 and their seventh youngest ever in the competition.

A youthful Blaugrana showed early promise although Dynamo had the first meaningful attempt with Marc-Andre ter Stegen saving Carlos de Pena's scuffed shot.

Philippe Coutinho curled a free-kick wide from distance but Francisco Trincao's dipping effort, easily gathered by Georgi Bushchan, was Barca's only shot on target during a drab first half.

Koeman's side increased the tempo after half-time and soon took the lead with a well-crafted goal which saw Braithwaite slide the ball through for Dest, who crisply angled a low finish into the net.

Shortly before the hour-mark Barca added a second when Braithwaite stabbed home at the back post after Mingueza's deft flick from Alena's corner.

Braithwaite won a penalty after he was fouled by Denys Popov and the Denmark striker confidently stepped up to send the spot-kick high into the corner of the net.

Dynamo rarely threatened in the remainder of the contest while Riqui Puig missed a sitter for Barcelona late on when he fired over the crossbar.

Griezmann, a 66th-minute replacement for Coutinho, added a fourth in injury time when he swept the ball home.

Forget Lionel Messi and Harry Kane, Manchester City reportedly want Jack Grealish.

Grealish, 25, has starred for Aston Villa this season and also impressed with England during the international break.

And the playmaker seems to have impressed City manager Pep Guardiola.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY TARGET GREALISH OVER MESSI, KANE

Guardiola wants Manchester City to make a move for Villa star Grealish, according to The Independent.

The report says Barcelona star Messi and Tottenham forward Kane were discussed as potential signings, but Guardiola is an admirer of Grealish.

Only Kane (nine) has more Premier League assists than Grealish (five) this season, while the latter has also netted four times.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City may soon have good news to report about Kevin De Bruyne. TodoFichajes reports De Bruyne has agreed to a new contract at City until 2025.

- Still linked with a move to Barcelona, Lautaro Martinez's future at Inter is unclear. However, FC Inter News says there is optimism Martinez will re-sign at Inter, who want to extend the forward's deal through to 2025.

- Having conceded 14 goals in eight Premier League games this season, Manchester United are reportedly considering moves for defenders. 90min reports Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres has moved top of their shortlist alongside RB Leipzig star Dayot Upamecano.

- As he struggles for game time at Inter, Christian Eriksen is being linked with a move. Tuttomercatoweb reports Borussia Dortmund are keeping an eye on the midfielder's situation, with the Bundesliga club having apparently been interested in the Denmark international during the previous transfer window too.

Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann insisted his relationship with Lionel Messi was good, saying he felt the star was ready to go to "death" with him.

Griezmann has struggled to make his mark at Barcelona since arriving from Atletico Madrid for €120million last year.

The forward's relationship with Messi has been questioned, and Griezmann admitted his decision to reject Barca in 2018 had affected the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

However, Griezmann said there were no doubts over his relationship with Messi now.

"I arrived at Barcelona after the rejection the year before," he told Movistar on Monday.

"There could have been comments even in the dressing room, from journalists, from the fans and that is why when I arrived I wanted to apologise on the pitch. If some have been offended, I will ask for forgiveness giving everything on the field.

"I spoke with Leo when I arrived and he told me that it screwed him when I refused to go the first time, because he had made public comments and that in the end I said no, but that we were on the same team and that he was going to death with me and it's what I notice and feel every day."

Griezmann's former agent and his uncle both questioned Messi earlier this month, with Barcelona now struggling in 13th in the LaLiga table.

But France international Griezmann distanced himself from the pair.

"I stopped having a relationship [with my former agent] from the day I got married. On my wedding day I invited him and he didn't come. That's why I stopped having a relationship with him," he said.

"He speaks because as neither my father nor my sister speak to the press, they call him. But Leo knows that I have a lot of respect and admiration for him."

Griezmann added: "My uncle doesn't know how football works. And in the end, the journalist ended up getting the phrase out of him.

"I told Leo that I never speak to them. In fact, I don't even have my uncle's phone number."

Lionel Messi has been left out of Barcelona's squad for the Champions League meeting with Dynamo Kiev as the forward is in need of a rest, says head coach Ronald Koeman.

Messi is not part of Barca's 19-man travelling party for Tuesday's Group G clash in Kiev while midfielder Frenkie de Jong is another notable absentee, despite being tipped to fill in for injured Gerard Pique at centre-back.

The Argentina international has endured a frustrating campaign for the Catalan giants, scoring only one goal from open play in eight LaLiga outings and yet to lay on an assist.

All three of his goals in the Champions League this term have come via the penalty spot, the 33-year-old failing to find the target from his nine attempts in open play.

After two goalless outings for Argentina last week, Koeman has now taken the decision to give Messi a breather in midweek.

"Leo is not travelling with us, neither is Frenkie," Koeman said at Monday's pre-match news conference. "We felt that both needed a break.

"With nine points so far in the Champions League we are in a comfortable position and have the chance to give them a rest."

Messi was benched for Barca's 5-2 win over Real Betis prior to the international break, which Koeman put down to a minor injury concern, before he came on for the second half to inspire his side to victory.

He was restored to the XI for Saturday's 1-0 loss at Atletico Madrid but tested Jan Oblak only once from his three shots and had just two touches of the ball in the opposition box.

But Koeman is confident Messi, who failed in an attempt to leave Camp Nou on a free transfer in August, will soon rediscover his best form.

"He is still a very important player for us and can continue to give a lot," he said.

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