Lionel Messi has told Barcelona he wants to leave, setting in motion a move that will rank as one of the most seismic in the history of football.

Barca's surrender to Real Madrid in LaLiga's title race and the 8-2 thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League proved the final straw for Messi.

A meeting with new head coach Ronald Koeman last week was not enough to convince the six-time Ballon d'Or winner to remain at Camp Nou.

We consider what Messi's next destination could be.

Newell's Old Boys

Messi's relationship with the public in Argentina has often been strained due to the fact he moved to Barca at the age of 13 and was moulded in their famous La Masia academy. But he started out at Newell's five years prior to that and a return to his hometown of Rosario would be an understandable move as he enters the latter stages of his career.

Manchester City

While the 2019-20 season may have been a disappointment, Messi undoubtedly still has the quality to play at the highest level. City, managed by former Barca boss Pep Guardiola, are said to be looking into the feasibility of bringing the Argentina superstar to the Etihad Stadium, having in July won their appeal against a two-year Champions League ban for breaches of Financial Fair Play regulations.

Paris Saint-Germain

"Which coach says no to Messi?" said PSG boss Thomas Tuchel following their Champions League final defeat to Bayern on Sunday. The Ligue 1 champions have never shied away from splashing the cash – they paid Barca a world record €222million for Neymar and shelled out €180m on Kylian Mbappe. If Messi wants to win another Champions League title before retiring, few clubs are better positioned to help him achieve that.

Inter

Even before there was any doubt about Messi's future at Barca, Inter were the main club linked with an audacious attempt to sign the 33-year-old. The Suning Holdings Group ownership makes them one of the few clubs alongside City and PSG that have the financial capacity to offer him a sizeable contract, and they have secured a return to Champions League football next season. The chance to battle old foe Cristiano Ronaldo in Serie A could prove an enticing prospect too.

Inter Miami

They may be bottom of the Eastern Conference in their debut MLS season, but Inter Miami still have a designated player spot free and there could be no bigger name to fill it than Messi. Club owner David Beckham said in February of this year he would relish the chance to sign a player of the calibre of Messi or Ronaldo.

Al-Sadd

Things could have gone very differently for Barca had club legend Xavi been handed the reins in January. A link-up with his former team-mate in Qatar could be an option for Messi, though there is every chance former midfielder Xavi finds himself back at Camp Nou in the not too distant future.

New York City handed Columbus Crew their first loss of the MLS season thanks to a 1-0 win on Monday.

Alexander Ring tapped in a 59th-minute winner after a poor error by Columbus at Red Bull Arena.

City moved up to 10th in the Eastern Conference with just their second win in seven MLS games, while Columbus remain top by a point despite their first loss.

Just eight minutes before the opener, City went close through Alexandru Mitrita, whose long-range effort hit the crossbar.

But a terrible mistake by Aboubacar Keita handed New York City the opener – and winner.

Keita's pass across defence was easily intercepted by Heber, who cutback for Ring to tap in the easy winner.

Premier League giants Chelsea and Arsenal appear close to strengthening their defences.

After conceding more league goals than any other side that finished in the top eight in 2019-20, the two clubs have been linked to defensive reinforcements.

It seems both are close to making additions.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA CLOSE TO SIGNING SILVA

Chelsea are close to signing Paris Saint-Germain centre-back Thiago Silva on a one-year deal, according to Sky Sports.

Silva, 35, confirmed after Sunday's Champions League final loss to Bayern Munich that he had played his last game for the Ligue 1 giants.

The Brazil defender has been linked to Chelsea and Fiorentina, but looks set to join the former.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea's rivals Arsenal have almost landed a centre-back of their own. RMC Sport reports a deal taking Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes to the club is done, with the sides agreeing a £27million (€30m) fee and the 22-year-old opting for Arsenal over Napoli and Everton.

- On the outer at Real Madrid, just whether Gareth Bale leaves this close season remains to be seen. AS claims there have been no offers for the attacker and MLS seems the only way out due to his salary.

Seattle Sounders recorded a 3-0 win over rivals Portland Timbers in MLS on Sunday.

Raul Ruidiaz scored a late brace before Kelvin Leerdam's sealer at Providence Park in Portland.

The Timbers were in action for the first time since winning the MLS is Back Tournament earlier this month, but fell to their rivals.

Seattle climbed above Portland and into second in the Western Conference, while the Timbers are fourth.

Chris Duvall thought he had opened the scoring for Portland with a 20-yard stunner in the fifth minute, but it was ruled out for offside in the lead-up.

Seattle took control late as Ruidiaz opened the scoring in the 72nd minute, producing a good finish at the near post from Joevin Jones' cross.

Ruidiaz doubled the reigning MLS Cup champions' lead before Leerdam sealed the win.

Inter Miami celebrated their first MLS victory after edging Orlando City 3-2, while LA Galaxy defeated city rivals Los Angeles FC in the El Trafico.

Expansion franchise Inter – co-owned by former Manchester United, Real Madrid and England star David Beckham – made their home debut in Miami on Saturday.

Making their home bow at the former site of Lockhart Stadium, while they wait for their yet-to-be constructed Miami Freedom Park to be built, Inter had lost five consecutive games since joining the league.

Inter exited the MLS is Back Tournament behind closed doors in Orlando with three straight defeats amid the coronavirus pandemic, but a return to regular league action saw Diego Alonso's men finally prevail.

Julian Carranza gave Inter a 12th-minute lead, only for Orlando's Daryl Dike to restore parity for the MLS is Back Tournament runners-up six minutes later.

Inter moved ahead again thanks to another Carranza goal approaching the half-hour mark before Rodolfo Pizzaro's volley doubled the advantage four minutes into the second half.

Orlando star Nani reduced deficit with 10 minutes remaining, however, Inter held on for a memorable three points.

Goals from Ethan Zubak and Sebastian Lletget helped the Galaxy claim bragging rights with a 2-0 victory against LAFC.

The Galaxy were routed 6-2 by LAFC at the MLS is Back Tournament last month, however, they avenged that painful defeat.

LAFC also saw star Carlos Vela exit the game early in the second half with an apparent knee injury at Banc of California Stadium.

Elsewhere, Pity Martinez's brace inspired Atlanta United's 2-0 win at home to Nashville, while Real Salt Lake came from behind to rout Colorado Rapids 4-1 thanks to a four-goal second half.

Sporting Kansas City continued their strong start to the MLS season, while Toronto claimed another win on Friday.

Sporting claimed a 2-1 win over Minnesota United at Allianz Field to pull clear atop the Western Conference.

Michael Boxall's 55th-minute own goal proved decisive as Sporting claimed a fifth win in six MLS games, going four points clear of second-placed Minnesota.

Gadi Kinda got on the end of a Jaylin Lindsey cross to give Peter Vermes' Sporting a 12th-minute lead.

Minnesota were level just after the half-hour mark, an unfortunate deflection off Lindsey leading to an own goal.

But Boxall turned a cross into his own net 10 minutes into the second half for what proved to be the winner.

Toronto recorded a second win in four days over the Vancouver Whitecaps with a 1-0 victory.

Richie Laryea's low finish in the 15th minute was all Toronto needed, getting back to within a point of Eastern Conference leaders Columbus Crew.

In the day's other games, Cincinnati and DC United drew 0-0, while the Houston Dynamo's clash with Dallas also finished goalless.

Columbus Crew pulled clear atop the Eastern Conference in MLS, while the New York Red Bulls enjoyed a derby win.

Columbus made it five wins in six MLS games this season with a 3-0 victory over Chicago Fire on Thursday.

Gyasi Zardes scored and also missed a penalty as Darlington Nagbe scored a stunner at MAPFRE Stadium.

Derrick Etienne found the bottom corner from a Milton Valenzuela pass to open the scoring for Columbus in the 20th minute.

Zardes put a penalty over the crossbar just before half-time and Columbus left it late to seal their win.

Nagbe flicked the ball up to himself 30 yards from goal before unleashing a stunning volley into the corner to make it 2-0.

Zardes sealed the win in the 88th minute, tapping in Pedro Santos' cross as the Crew moved four points clear atop the conference.

The Hudson River Derby went the Red Bulls' way as they recorded a 1-0 win over New York City.

Kyle Duncan's powerful 20-yard strike just before the hour-mark was spilled by City goalkeeper Sean Johnson and awarded after a VAR review.

The Red Bulls are third in the Eastern Conference, while New York City are second last.

In the day's other game, New England Revolution and Philadelphia Union drew 0-0.

Lionel Messi reportedly has Barcelona in "suspense" amid talk over his future.

Messi, 33, has been linked with a move away from the LaLiga giants amid chaos at the club following their capitulation in the Champions League.

Contracted until 2021, Messi's future has become a major talking point.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA IN 'SUSPENSE' OVER MESSI FUTURE

Barcelona are in suspense amid uncertainty over Messi's future, according to Marca.

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu said on Tuesday he expected Messi to lead the club into the future under Ronald Koeman.

TuttoMercatoWeb reports only Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain or Inter would be able to afford the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Barcelona and Mundo Deportivo reports Koeman wants a two-year deal at the club and Henrik Larsson as one of his assistants at Camp Nou.

- Chelsea continue to chase Kai Havertz. Sport Bild claims negotiations between the Premier League club and Bayer Leverkusen started last week and Havertz will become the most expensive German player of all-time.

- Will Kalidou Koulibaly leave Napoli? The Mirror reports City are being invited to make a £60million (€66.6m) move for the defender, who Napoli want to replace with Lille's Gabriel Magalhaes. ESPN says Arsenal are hopeful of sealing a deal for Gabriel for around £22m (€24.4m).

- Leeds United could be preparing to strengthen on their return to the Premier League. The Evening Standard reports Leeds are interested in Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi.

- Benfica could be nearing two big signings. Gianluca Di Marzio says the Portuguese giants want Inter midfielder Joao Mario, while Record reports Benfica are close to completing a deal for former Paris Saint-Germain star Edinson Cavani.

- Having signed Blaise Matuidi, Inter Miami may add some firepower. DIRECTV Peru says the MLS club have started talks to sign former PSV and Schalke forward Jefferson Farfan.

Pablo Piatti guided Toronto to a 3-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps in MLS on Tuesday.

Piatti opened his MLS account with a double before Nick DeLeon's late goal at BMO Field as Toronto moved within a point of Eastern Conference leaders Columbus Crew.

The former Espanyol and Valencia attacker arrived at Toronto in February and showed his class.

Piatti unleashed a stunning 27th-minute opener for Toronto with a 30-yard rocket.

Toronto doubled their lead 10 minutes into the second half as Piatti struck again.

After receiving a pass from Jonathan Osorio, Piatti found the bottom corner from inside the area.

DeLeon came off the bench to seal the win in the 83rd minute, curling in after a wonderful pass from Alejandro Pozuelo.

Gonzalo Higuain has hinted Major League Soccer could be his next destination if he is not in the plans of new Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo.

Higuain, 32, has been with Juve since 2016 when he moved from rivals Napoli and, although he enjoyed a fine first season in Turin with 32 goals across all competitions, he was less impressive the following year.

With Cristiano Ronaldo then arriving at Juve in 2018, Higuain was deemed surplus to requirements and spent the season on disappointing loan spells with Milan and then Chelsea.

Higuain was given another shot at Juve following the arrival of his former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri last year, despite him failing to impress under the Italian with Chelsea.

But a rather meagre goals tally of 11 in 43 matches does not bode well for his future, particularly given Sarri was sacked after Juve's Champions League last-16 elimination by Lyon.

Higuain insists no decision has been made yet as he still needs to talk with Pirlo, though a return to Argentina appears unlikely as he seems to prefer the idea of following his older brother Federico to MLS.

"I don't miss Argentine football, I like watching it, but no, I don't miss it," he told Fox Sports.

"I started young there and today Argentina should open its eyes because so many players hesitate to return, especially for the future of their families.

"Many now go to the United States, to China, or Saudi Arabia at the age of 25. I only left because it was Real Madrid.

"I'll rest and think. On the 24th [of August], I'll return to Italy. I have to introduce myself [to Pirlo] and see what happens with the new manager. I'm sure there will be a different dynamic.

"Many players go to MLS, it would be nice, yes, but now I'm here, let's see what happens."

Whatever happens in the short term, Higuain's future after his playing days are over will not involve management – instead, he wants to work with the "next generation".

"I will not become a coach due to the mental and physical stress that this implies," he said.

"All the coaches arrive with black hair and three years later they turn grey. I want the next generation to learn and know what it means to be a footballer, which is not playing in the square with your friends.

"I want to show them what I have experienced. Children today are very aware of what they will say and are influenced by what their parents have told them about me. Thus, the child will learn differently.

"I think that growth in Europe has been different, they respect me more abroad than there [Argentina]."

FC Dallas and Nashville played out a goalless draw in MLS following a lengthy weather delay which saw the match finish in the early hours of Monday morning in the United States.

Dallas and Nashville were meeting for the second time in five days in their regular-season restart after the MLS is Back Tournament.

Expansion franchise Nashville – competing in their inaugural season – edged Dallas 1-0 for their first MLS victory in the previous encounter.

Renewing hostilities on Sunday, the Dallas-Nashville clash was scheduled to kick-off at 20:38 (local time), however, lightning around Toyota Stadium led to a three-and-a-half-hour delay.

The match did not get underway until 12:07 and when it did, neither side could find the breakthrough.

Dom Badji hit the post for Nashville in the 64th minute against his former side, and that was the best chance of the match for either side.

Nashville have four points from four games to sit 11th in the 14-team Eastern Conference, while Dallas are 10th in the Western with five points from their four fixtures.

FC Dallas have strongly condemned "repulsive and unacceptable" racist comments and death threats Reggie Cannon has been subjected to this week. 

Dallas defender Cannon criticised supporters who booed players for kneeling during the national anthem before his side returned to MLS action against Nashville on Wednesday.  

Some fans were allowed into the game, which started after the teams showed their support of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Sportsmen and women have taken a knee worldwide since NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick became the first to do so in the 2016 season, protesting against police brutality and racial inequality. 

But jeers were heard among supporters as Dallas, Nashville and the officials took a knee, with a water bottle also appearing to be thrown on the field in response. 

Dallas chairman Clark Hunt and president Dan Hunt says the abuse United States international Cannon has come in for will not be tolerated. 

"We want to be clear: We love and support Reggie Cannon. The racist comments and death threats he has received are repulsive and unacceptable," a statement from the duo said. 

"There is no place in our sport, or in our country for that matter, for the kind of horrific vitriol Reggie has had to endure today. Hateful or violent threats are never warranted – especially when they are directed toward a member of our FC Dallas family. 

"We will continue to work together – with our players, our coaches and our fans – against racism and in the cause of equality for all." 

Full-back Cannon said after a 1-0 defeat for Dallas: "I think it was disgusting. I think it was absolutely disgusting.

"You've got fans booing you for people taking a stand for what they believe in, and millions of other people support this cause.

"We discussed with every other team and the league what we were going to do, and we've got fans booing us in our own stadium. How disgraceful is that?

"For a lack of a better word, it p***** me off."

Cannon said the players had asked for the anthem not to be played before the match but "they ignored our wishes".

"We were going to kneel regardless if the anthem was played or not," he explained. "Unfortunately, it was played during the time when we asked for the anthem not to be played."

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has offered its congratulations to Reggae Boyz Captain Andre Blake for having won the Golden Glove Award for the just-concluded MLS IS BACK Tournament.

United States international Reggie Cannon criticised supporters who booed players for kneeling during the national anthem before FC Dallas played Nashville on Wednesday.

Dallas and Nashville were in MLS action for the first time since March after both teams missed the MLS is Back Tournament due to positive coronavirus tests.

Some fans were allowed into the midweek regular season game, where teams had planned a demonstration in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Kneeling before games was a display brought to the public attention by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the 2016 season, protesting against police brutality and racial inequality. He has not played in the league since.

The demonstration has been repeated around the world across various sports since George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis in May.

But jeers were heard among supporters as Dallas, Nashville and the officials took a knee, with a water bottle also appearing to be thrown on the field in response.

Dallas full-back Cannon said after the 1-0 defeat: "I think it was disgusting. I think it was absolutely disgusting.

"You've got fans booing you for people taking a stand for what they believe in, and millions of other people support this cause.

"We discussed with every other team and the league what we were going to do, and we've got fans booing us in our own stadium. How disgraceful is that?

"For a lack of a better word, it p***** me off."

Cannon said the players had asked for the anthem not to be played before the match but "they ignored our wishes".

"We were going to kneel regardless if the anthem was played or not," he explained. "Unfortunately, it was played during the time when we asked for the anthem not to be played."

Cannon, who is black, revealed he had subsequently received an apology from white team-mate Ryan Hollingshead.

"The first thing [Hollingshead] said to me after we got up from the knee was, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry for our fans'," he said.

"We had someone chanting 'USA' when they don't understand what kneeling means. They don't understand why we are kneeling. They can't see the reason.

"They just think we're the ignorant ones. It's incredibly frustrating."

Blaise Matuidi has completed his move to MLS side Inter Miami on a free transfer from Juventus.

France midfielder Matuidi, who played a key role as Didier Deschamps' team won the 2018 World Cup, left Juve on Wednesday after three years with the Serie A giants.

The 33-year-old, who joined Juve from Paris Saint-Germain in 2017, helped the Bianconeri to three successive Serie A titles and one Coppa Italia crown.

Matuidi had another season left to run on his deal with Juve, but the Italian champions agreed to terminate the remainder of his contract.

On Thursday, Miami officially revealed Matuidi as their new player.

"I couldn't be happier to welcome my friend Blaise to Inter Miami. He is an exciting and gifted player and a great person," said Miami co-owner David Beckham, who played alongside Matuidi at PSG.

"To have a World Cup winner of Blaise's quality in our new team is such a proud moment – for us as owners and for our fans.

"For me personally, to have a former team-mate joining our club is very special and I can't wait to welcome him and his beautiful family to south Florida."

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