Pep Guardiola has warned Manchester City will not make "any special signings" before next season, which appears to close the door on a big-money move for Erling Haaland.

The City boss refused to directly discuss the in-demand Borussia Dortmund striker, who has been linked with the Premier League leaders as well as the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United.

Catalan broadcaster Esport3 reported Madrid and Barcelona are the teams that Haaland is most interested in joining, although Dortmund would want a huge transfer fee to allow the 20-year-old Norwegian to move on before the 2021-22 campaign.

There have been unconfirmed claims that Haaland has a €75million release clause that comes into effect at the end of next season, but his current market value would be substantially higher.

City will lose Sergio Aguero at the end of this season, having elected to release their record scorer, but he has been so scarcely involved recently that the Argentinian's absence may not be sorely felt.

"I understand completely the situation of the club, and of all the other clubs bar a few. We are not going to do any special signings," Guardiola said in a news conference.

"I'm always honest. If you ask me now, it's not going to happen. All the clubs are struggling a lot and we are not an exception."

The COVID-19 crisis has seen clubs suffer major reductions in their anticipated income, with stadiums staying largely closed over the past year, meaning matchday income has been lost.

Barca and Madrid have also been majorly affected, yet both may find a way to propose a move for Haaland.

Former Barca boss Guardiola could lead City to a spectacular quadruple this season – they face Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday, heading into the weekend with a 14-point lead at the summit. Leicester sit third, a point behind second-placed United.

The continuing success of his City team, who remain in the Champions League and could land a domestic cup double, means Spanish manager Guardiola does not feel inclined to ask the owners to fund a spectacular transfer coup.

City have also been linked with Barca great Lionel Messi, but Guardiola's tone suggests that may be another non-starter.

Although Messi might be available on a free transfer, his wages far outstrip those of any Premier League player. Such a move would involve jaw-dropping figures.

"You know my opinion – we never spend big money on one player," Guardiola said. "We have spent a lot of money on a lot of players, but none of them for incredible figures, and that is what we will continue to do in the coming years."

Asked directly about Haaland, and whether he accepted the striker would not be with City next season, Guardiola said: "You understand that I cannot talk about players from other clubs.

"It will not be polite for Borussia Dortmund or for Haaland. It is not my business. The players I have here deserve respect from their manager not to talk about other players when we have two important months ahead.

"If I was a player and the manager was talking about other players, I'd say 'what the f*** are you doing?'. We are here to do what we have to do. In five years here I have not talked about a player from another club."

Guardiola said releasing Aguero at the end of his contract "was the best decision for the club", albeit that meant there had to be a "difficult" conversation.

The City boss added: "He will help us until the end of the season."

Kylian Mbappe has revealed the ego trick that makes him believe his skills are unparalleled, even if the opposition include Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Paris Saint-Germain and France striker has opened up on the issue, explaining how his achievements have been fuelled by enormous self-confidence.

He already has one over on Messi and Ronaldo, having won a World Cup with Les Bleus, and is racking up the trophies at club level.

Mbappe knows the reality is that the Argentina and Portugal superstars have achieved far more than he has managed, but the thinking that Mbappe adopts every time he takes to the pitch sets aside such matters.

Messi might be Barcelona's record scorer by a massive margin, and Ronaldo jumped to the top of Real Madrid's all-time list during a scintillating nine-year stint in Spain, but Mbappe puts such matters out of his mind on the pitch.

In an interview with French broadcaster RMC Sport, Mbappe said of egotism: "Of course it's important, because when you're having a tough time, no one other than yourself is going to push you.

"And you have to convince yourself that you are capable of toppling mountains. People don't understand ego, but when you are not doing well, there's no one who will come to your house to tell you that you are able to do that.

"It is only you and your mindset. You have to persuade yourself that you are capable of doing great things.

"Every time I go on a pitch, I always tell myself that I'm the best and yet I have played on pitches where there was Messi and Cristiano.

"They are better players than me, they've done a billion more things than me. But in my head, I always tell myself that I'm the best, because that way you don't give yourself limits and you try to give the best of yourself.

"Of course, sometimes people don't understand because I think that there is perhaps also this barrier that is created in relation to this subject, where one does not really explain what ego is.

"People will think ego is not giving a penalty to a friend, or to have a better salary than the player on the rival team. It's not just that, it's also in the preparation. It's something personally, surpassing yourself, it's really beyond this superficial thing of saying 'me I, me I'. But I think there's quite a lot to be said about that."

Mbappe is building up the data to support his self-belief. Since the start of the 2016-17 season, when he was a 17-year-old Monaco player, Mbappe has racked up 146 club goals at a rate of one every 103.99 minutes.

That haul covers all club competitions and puts Mbappe fifth on the list of players from Europe's top five leagues. Only Robert Lewandowski (221), Messi (210), Ronaldo (181) and Harry Kane (151) are ahead of him.

Among players with more than 100 goals in the same timespan, only Messi (89) has had more assists than the 65 Mbappe has managed.

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.

 

ROUND-UP

- 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 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.

Sergio Aguero can lay claim to being the greatest striker in Premier League history, according to former Manchester City team-mate Richard Dunne.

The Argentina international confirmed on Monday that he would leave City when his contract expires at the end of this season, bringing an end to his 10-year spell with the club.

Aguero joined from Atletico Madrid in 2011 and has established himself as a City legend, his 257 goals representing a club record.

He has won four Premier League titles, one FA Cup and five EFL Cups at City, with a fifth top-flight title on the horizon this term and silverware still up for grabs domestically and in the Champions League.

With Aguero's stunning goal haul having come in 384 games, Dunne put the 32-year-old top of his all-time list of Premier League forwards for his remarkable consistency.

"I don't think you'd ever put him behind anybody," the former City defender told Stats Perform News.

"I think the way that he plays, all them strikers we speak about historically have scored a lot of goals, all different types of players.

"I certainly wouldn't put Aguero behind any of them, I think he's a player who could have played in any team, in any era or generation.

"It all comes down to who's your favourite, who's your preferred sort of striker. There's plenty who will say Aguero is the best – his goalscoring ratio is fantastic.

"He's been a bit unfortunate, because he tended to miss little periods of every season, but always managed to get over the 20 goals.

"He was someone that you could just rely on massively. Someone who when you'd go into a big game, and you need the goals, he's a name that you would go, he's starting because he's just incredible."

Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak revealed a statue of Aguero has already been commissioned to stand alongside those of his former team-mates, David Silva and Vincent Kompany, outside the Etihad Stadium.

Dunne said that would be a fitting tribute for a player whose impending departure from City is likely to have put a host of big clubs on high alert, with the Irishman tipping him to join compatriot Lionel Messi at Barcelona.

"I'd imagine there'd be loads of interested parties," said Dunne. "Teams at the top end of European football, will still believe that they can get another couple of seasons out of Aguero.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see him go to Barcelona. He obviously seems to be close friends with Messi as well. It would be a nice fit for the pair of them."

Aguero's glittering legacy has at its centre the last-gasp goal he scored against Queens Park Rangers to secure a 3-2 win and with it City's first Premier League title in 2012. 

Fikayo Tomori has the same desire to impress Milan legend Paolo Maldini as any striker would to win favour with Lionel Messi.

The on-loan Chelsea centre-back is desperate to make his mark at San Siro, where Maldini – widely regarded as the greatest defender of all time – is the technical director.

Maldini's storied career saw him win seven Serie A titles and five European Cups, with 126 Italy caps to his name.

And Tomori feels such lofty achievements put Maldini on a par with Barcelona superstar Messi.

"Having Maldini as head of the technical area is like having to deal with Messi as a sporting director for a striker," the 23-year-old told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"You want to impress him every day."

Milan have an option to buy Tomori and he has certainly made himself at home there and in the Italian top flight in general, with Serie A providing a steep learning curve.

"I was a little surprised to have immediately entered the hearts of the Rossoneri fans, but it makes sense given the character of the people here," said Tomori. "It was easy to settle in, they were all so friendly.

"Serie A is like a university for defenders. I'm growing up and learning everything I can."

Stefano Pioli's side are six points behind Inter in the race for the Scudetto, but Tomori is refusing to give up hope.

The Rossoneri have 10 matches left to reel in their rivals, who have a game in hand.

"The gap up to Inter is great, but I don't see why we shouldn't believe in it until the end," he said. "Returning to the Champions League is an excellent target.

"But as a player, you must think about the big goal, and we know we can do something special."

With his stock rising, speculation over Tomori's future continues to build but he does not want to be distracted by talk over his future.

"The goal is to be among the best in the world in my role, as soon as possible," Tomori added. "I work for this every day."

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.

Ronald Koeman is a "great coach" who has expertly handled Barcelona's difficulties this season, according to defender Ronald Araujo. 

Koeman, who was appointed last August on a two-year contract, has had to manage the fallout from Lionel Messi's ultimately unsuccessful transfer request ahead of the 2020-21 campaign. 

A failure to get past the last-16 stage in the Champions League was a major disappointment, but a superb recent run in LaLiga has given them a chance of catching leaders Atletico Madrid. 

Sunday's 6-1 thumping of Real Sociedad – a ninth consecutive top-flight away win – lifted them to within four points of Diego Simeone's side heading into the international break.

Uruguayan Araujo, who has played in 15 LaLiga games this season after featuring in just six during his debut campaign in 2019-20, has been impressed with Koeman's efforts and wants him to remain at the helm beyond this season. 

"It's very good that the board has confidence in Koeman because the boss has shown that he is a great coach," the 22-year-old told TV3. 

"He is very good with the team and the locker room. This relationship is very important. I am very happy that he can continue with us because he brings a lot to us, especially the young people.

"The work he had in front of him was not at all easy, considering how the whole situation was. But he is a coach with a lot of character, who knows how to deal with these issues, and the coaching staff have done a very good job. 

"We are working well and that translates into the way the locker room is and the results."

Araujo also declared his admiration for Messi and hopes Barca's talisman stays at Camp Nou beyond this season.

On Sunday, Messi overtook Xavi as the player with the most appearances for Barca (768), six days after the 33-year-old scored a 20th LaLiga goal 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, with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain reportedly interested in signing him. 

"I hope he stays with us next year and many more years to come," Araujo added. "Leo is fine, I see him very happy. He works a lot, not only in matches, but also in training. 

"Messi trains like a beast and that's very good because he is the captain and he is a reference, and he spreads it to us all, to the rest of the team and to the young people."

Barca host Real Valladolid in LaLiga on April 5 after the international break, followed by El Clasico against Real Madrid five days later.

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.

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland will "define an era" according to Atletico Madrid forward Luis Suarez, who placed him ahead of Paris Saint-Germain sensation Kylian Mbappe.

Haaland continues to take Europe by storm as the Dortmund forward reportedly attracts interest from Real Madrid, Manchester City, Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool.

The 20-year-old, who joined Dortmund from Salzburg in January last year, scored twice in Saturday's 2-2 draw away to Cologne – the Norway international taking his tally to 14 away goals in the Bundesliga this season, more than Werder Bremen (13), Hertha Berlin (13), Mainz (11), Arminia Bielefeld (10) and Schalke (eight) have scored at home in 2020-21.

Suarez heaped praise on Haaland, who has scored 21 goals in 21 league appearances this season and 33 across all competitions.

"He [Haaland] is a great player, he's at a spectacular level, he has an admirable physical strength," Suarez told Gerard Romero on Twitch.

"He's one of the best number nines in the world and will define an era.

"I'm a bit more in favour of Haaland, but [PSG forward Kylian] Mbappe is at a great level."

Suarez, meanwhile, has flourished since leaving LaLiga powerhouse Barcelona for rivals Atletico at the start of the season.

The 34-year-old Uruguay international reached 500 career goals for club and country after scoring Atletico's winner against Deportivo Alaves on Sunday.

Suarez has scored 19 league goals this season – only former team-mate Lionel Messi (23) has netted on more occasions in 2020-21 – as Atletico top the LaLiga standings by four points.

Eyeing silverware in Madrid, Suarez revealed he still keeps tabs on Messi and Barca, having spent six trophy-laden years at Camp Nou.

"I watch them because I like to watch football, I admire the club I defended and I'm grateful," Suarez added.

"I talk to Leo [Messi] almost daily, but sometimes about the odd game. Everyone knows the love I have for them for what I did there, also for what they have given me."

Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham believes signing stars such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar is far from a pipe dream for the MLS club.

The franchise has been linked with offers for Barcelona captain Messi and Juventus superstar Ronaldo as they approach the final years of their storied careers, while Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar stated last year he had given Beckham his word he would sign for him in the future.

Former Manchester United midfielder and England captain Beckham remains confident he can attract players of such calibre to Florida.

"When we announced Miami, there was always going to be talk about what players we were going to bring in, whether it was Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar," Beckham told ESPN.

"There was always going to be those discussions. I actually don't think it's a tough one for players to decide, to be honest, because it's a great place.

"Obviously, it's a great city, I feel like we've got a great fan base, but I also understand there's great talent in Miami and South Florida, and I think we have a real opportunity. Miami is a city that has that pull on players who have been playing in Europe that are big stars."

After signing notable names such as Gonzalo Higuain, Blaise Matuidi and Rodolfo Pizarro, Inter Miami endured a tough time in 2020, finishing 10th in the Eastern Conference before losing in the play-in round of the playoffs.

Inter Miami also suffered three defeats in three games in Group A of the MLS Is Back tournament amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Co-owner Beckham is now hoping for a brighter second season in MLS under former team-mate Phil Neville, who took over from Diego Alonso as head coach.

"[Neville] is the kind of coach that will get the best out of the players," said Beckham. "He won't just work with the [Designated Players], he works with the young kids that have come through the academies.

"His experience being a part of one of the best academies in the game at Manchester United when we were growing up, working with different coaches.

"He was David Moyes' assistant at Manchester United, he was an assistant coach at Valencia, and then obviously he went on to be the coach of the England women's national team, which was a great experience, but also challenging at times."

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman said the race for the LaLiga title will be close following Sunday's demolition of Real Sociedad.

Lionel Messi made history as he led Barcelona to a 6-1 thrashing of Sociedad – a result that moved the Catalan giants within four points of leaders Atletico Madrid.

Messi – in his club-record 768th appearance in all competitions – scored twice, Sergino Dest had a brace, while Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele also struck for the visitors.

As Barca loom large with 10 matches remaining, Koeman told reporters: "I think the win sends an important message – but mostly to ourselves. It shows the team is comfortable and confident in its own abilities.

"Physically we're in a strong place as well and we've improved a lot but it doesn't mean today's result and performance will be replicated in future games.

"There's still a lot of games left to play in LaLiga but we are still behind Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid have also improved.

"They are much stronger as well. It's going to be a tough fight until the last game of the season. Therefore, we have to keep going game by game."

Barcelona have won their last nine games away from home in LaLiga, keeping six clean sheets to level their third-best consecutive winning run on the road.

Koeman's Barca also scored six goals in an away game across all competitions for the first time since February 2017.

Messi, meanwhile, has now been involved in more goals (23) than any other player in the top five European leagues in 2021 – 16 goals and seven assists.

Massimiliano Allegri did not rule out a Juventus return as the Italian head coach revealed his interest in working in the Premier League and LaLiga.

Doubts have emerged regarding rookie head coach Andrea Pirlo following Juve's shock 1-0 loss at home to Benevento in Serie A on Sunday.

Having already crashed out of the Champions League in the last 16, Juve's season hit a new low after they were upstaged by the lowly visitors.

The latest defeat left nine-time reigning Serie A champions Juve fourth in the standings and 10 points adrift of leaders Inter.

Allegri departed Juve at the end of the triumphant 2018-19 season, which saw him secure a fifth successive Scudetto in Turin.

Asked if he could potentially return to Juve in the future, Allegri – who has been linked with Premier League side Leeds United – told Sky Sport Italia: "It's impossible to tell, besides, Andrea Pirlo is there now and in my view he's doing well.

"I don't know what Juve are missing. They are in the Coppa Italia Final, won the Supercoppa, are fighting for the top four. The Champions League is a bit of a lottery, it can turn on a sixpence."

Allegri, who revealed he turned down LaLiga giants Real Madrid three years ago, added: "Right now I don't really know anything. 

"The charm of England and Spain are there, but I would also be happy to stay in Italy."

Roma and Napoli have also emerged as possible destinations for Allegri amid pressure on Paulo Fonseca and Gennaro Gattuso.

"Naples or Rome? I don't know anything yet," the 53-year-old said. "I haven't talked in a while, when I'm not coaching I don't watch many games because I'm bored."

Allegri coached Cristiano Ronaldo during his time at Juventus and he was asked about the five-time Ballon d'Or.

Ronaldo – linked with former clubs Madrid and Manchester United – surpassed Pele's record after scoring 770 career goals courtesy of his hat-trick against Cagliari on March 14.

The 36-year-old tops the Serie A's goalscoring charts with 23, ahead of Inter star Romelu Lukaku (19).

"Ronaldo too is human and can make mistakes, but there are few who can shake off a defender and run at the goal like him," Allegri added.

"Cristiano's strength is that he has this mind that is programmed to win. He won five Ballon d'Or trophies, the Champions League, so many titles, yet he is there giving himself new motivation every single day.

"It's also natural that those who play alongside him must understand the space that he leaves has to be filled by the other guy.

"Poor Mario Mandzukic, playing with Cristiano Ronaldo, he ran more in that year than his entire career… I love Mandzukic, he's a fantastic player."

Asked to compare Ronaldo and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, Allegri said: "They are two very different players. I'd say one is greater, the other is better."

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman was delighted to mark his 58th birthday with an "incredible" 6-1 LaLiga thrashing of Real Sociedad.

The Catalans closed back to within four points of league leaders Atletico Madrid on Sunday with arguably their finest performance under Koeman.

Two goals each from Sergino Dest and Lionel Messi – who made a record 768th appearance for the club – and further strikes from Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele secured an emphatic victory, Barca's ninth in a row in the top flight.

Koeman, who was thrilled to see the goals spread out among four players and not only come from his captain, was proud at the way Barca made life so uncomfortable for their hosts.

"Without a doubt, it's the best present they could have given me," said Koeman. "I'm also happy for Griezmann and [Jordi] Alba, who've had their birthdays, and who played a great game.

"Scoring six goals at Real Sociedad is incredible. They tried to press us but, when they saw they couldn't, they took a step back.

"The first goal made us very calm and the second was almost decisive. We gave a really good impression of ourselves. We pressed really well without the ball and we were very effective.

"There's a long way to go. It won't be decided yet. Atletico are strong, but you saw against Alaves that it's not easy to win a game. Real Madrid are also in the fight; we can't forget them.

"We leave with a great result and a demonstration that we're going to go for everything. It's important that it's not just Messi scoring the goals because that makes it more difficult to defend against us."

Barca head into the international break trailing Atletico by 10 points after Diego Simeone's side claimed a hard-fought 1-0 win over Deportivo Alaves.

The Blaugrana look the sharpest of the big three in Spain at present and Koeman thinks they have improved significantly in recent weeks.

"I can't say we're not going to lose any game from here until the rest of the season, but it's clear that we're on a good path. We're very strong mentally and physically," he said.

"We've had many difficulties since the start of the season. We've changed things; any team needs time to learn. We've had some ups and downs in LaLiga, with defensive mistakes and a lack of effectiveness. But it's obvious the team has moved on."

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