Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann has no interest in leaving the LaLiga giants.

Speculation over the France international's future has increased amid his, and Barca's, struggles.

But the 29-year-old seemingly wants more than one season at Barcelona.

 

TOP STORY – GRIEZMANN NOT INTERESTED IN BARCELONA EXIT

Griezmann has no interest in leaving Barcelona, according to Le Parisien.

Since arriving from Atletico Madrid for €120million, Griezmann has managed just 14 goals in 43 games this season.

Griezmann was introduced as a 90th-minute substitute in Barca's 2-2 draw with his former club on Tuesday.

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Camp Nou and Quique Setien's future as Barcelona head coach remains a talking point after one win in four games. AS reports Setien is not in immediate danger but is far from safe, while Sport says his future is uncertain, although the club are hoping to keep him at the helm until the end of the season.

- Manchester City look set for a rebuild in the close season. The Guardian claims Bayern Munich defender David Alaba, who is out of contract next year, is a target for the Premier League giants.

- After making a stellar start to the season with Lyon before suffering a serious knee injury, Memphis Depay has been linked with a move. Le 10 Sport reports Arsenal want the attacker, who has 14 goals in 18 games this season.

- Carlos Tevez's future remains uncertain. Ole says the former Manchester United and Manchester City forward, 36, could retire as he struggles to agree to a new contract with Boca Juniors.

- With Bruno Lage on his way out as Benfica coach, the Portuguese giants are searching for a new boss. According to A Bola, Benfica have looked at the likes of Mauricio Pochettino, Ernesto Valverde and Laurent Blanc, but are now considering former Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal coach Unai Emery.

- Tottenham defender Serge Aurier could be set for a move. Sky Sports reports Monaco are interested in the Ivory Coast right-back.

Newell's Old Boys vice-president Cristian D'Amico is still hopeful Barcelona star Lionel Messi may one day return to the club.

Messi, 33, left Newell's for Barcelona in 2001 and has developed into one of the best players of all-time, winning a record six Ballons d'Or.

The Argentina captain has spoken about potentially returning to Newell's previously and D'Amico is hopeful, with the club having seen Diego Maradona arrive in 1993 after he starred in Europe.

"I don't know if it's impossible," he told TNT Sports.

"It's a decision exclusively made by him and his family. We have to have the best possible context to help make a decision.

"When Maradona came to Newell's, nobody thought that he would come either. I hope to do something similar with Leo."

Messi is contracted at Camp Nou until next year, although will reportedly extend that deal until 2023.

D'Amico is staying calm about the star's potential return to Newell's, saying: "Obviously, that's not to be selling smoke.

"It's a difficult topic. What Newell's fan would not dream to see the best player in the world with the jersey of their team on? Time might allow such things, you have to be calm."

Five Red Star Belgrade players have tested positive for coronavirus, the Serbian champions confirmed.

Red Star quintet Marko Gobeljic, Njegos Petrovic, Dusan Jovancic, Marko Konatar and Branko Jovicic contracted COVID-19.

Gobeljic, Petrovic, Jovancic and Konatar had symptoms prior to Saturday's season finale and did not attend the match as a precaution.

It comes after Dejan Stankovic's Red Star celebrated a third successive SuperLiga title in front of fans in Belgrade on Saturday – defeating Proleter Novi Sad 2-1.

Red Star also played in front of a near 25,000 capacity crowd for the Serbian Cup semi-final against bitter rivals and neighbours Partizan, who won 1-0 on June 10, following the easing of coronavirus restrictions in the country.

"The aforementioned players are feeling well, and are in strict isolation as well as constant contact with the club's medical team," Red Star said in a statement on Monday.

"The condition of the players is being carefully monitored and a new test will be performed before the start of the preparations for next season."

Red Star added: "It is important to point out that all other players, management and staff who were in direct contact with the first team have received a negative result. Red Star is taking all necessary protection measures and we will continue to do so."

 

'Next Generation' is a series focusing on the young players tipped to establish themselves as the elite in the 2020s.

 

Fuerte Apache, Buenos Aires is an imposing sight. Like a skyrise jungle domineering over the run-down surroundings of small shops and bars, it holds a certain aura that is probably not helped by its reputation.

Ejercito de los Andes, to give its original name, received its more familiar moniker after a shootout in the estate was broadcast live on the news. The 1981 film 'Fort Apache, The Bronx' is where the nickname came from, and it stuck.

Carlos Tevez is the barrio's most famous son. The former Manchester United, Manchester City, Juventus and Argentina star's face is prominent in numerous places around the estate, with several murals dedicated to him.

While the biggest – and most iconic – piece in tribute to the forward can be seen on the north edge, facing away from the estate, there is another deep inside Fuerte Apache.

Here, fittingly, Tevez looks out over the football pitch of Roger 'Didi' Ruiz, the coach who discovered him, and where Argentina's next great hope crafted his skills.

First there was Tevez, now Fuerte Apache expects of Thiago Almada.

From Tevez's patch to Velez

As early as four years old, Almada – like Tevez before him – was playing with Club Santa Clara in Fuerte Apache. By five he was signed up by Velez Sarsfield, but he continued to represent his local side as well.

For Almada, a silky attacking midfielder, football has offered a legitimate route to a better life. Even though he accepts the area isn't quite as dangerous as it was in Tevez's time, trouble was still frequent in his youth.

"In the neighbourhood, there are a lot of people who chose the wrong path. It is one way or the other, and I also chose," he told Diario Clarin in 2017, when he was still a part of Velez's youth setup.

But he wouldn't be for much longer. A little over a year later, in August 2018, Almada made his first-team debut as a 17-year-old, appearing for 26 minutes in the 2018-19 Superliga opener against Newell's Old Boys.

He went on to play a total of 16 league matches that season under the tutelage of Gabriel Heinze, generally operating through the middle or off the left, but such prominence at a young age in Argentina does not go unnoticed by bigger European clubs, and it caused fractions.

Velez were understandably concerned about Almada being poached and, with his contract set to expire in June 2020, for a period it seemed realistic he could leave for pittance.

The situation led to speculation claiming Heinze had grown frustrated with Almada, though the coach furiously denied this in a news conference last year, saying: "Tell that journalist that he is a liar and he is absolutely wrong. There are two people here, it's me and it's Thiago. I tell him that they have a lying journalist and the information is a lie. My relationship with Thiago remains the same."

"All the goals were scored by him"

In September, Velez finally tied Almada down to a new four-year contract. As much as anything, it provided the Liniers club with greater financial security, increasing his release clause from a reported €14million to a figure that will reportedly reach €25m after August 31. Directors could breathe a sigh of relief.

Man City had been lurking. With reports of Almada's agent travelling to Europe for talks with other clubs, a feeling of deja vu would have been justifiable for Velez, who lost Benjamin Garre – a former youth-team colleague of Almada – to the Premier League giants for a nominal fee in 2016.

While Almada's rise has been impressive – he has played 22 times in the Superliga this term – it cannot be said that no one saw it coming.

Turu Flores, a former Velez player, spent five years on the coaching staff of the club's senior side, including a 12-month stint as head coach. In that time, watching the youth teams was a regular occurrence for him, and one kid always seemed to stand out.

"I've known Thiago since he was a child," Flores told Stats Perform News. "He is a friend of my son and already had an incredible impact when he was 14 years old. I remember him when he was 12, 13 or 14 years old. At that time I was working for Velez and I used to go and see him playing. He used to start as a central midfielder, but the matches would finish 3-0 or 4-0 and all the goals were scored by him. So, you could already envisage that he has the potential to make important things in football."

'Welcome to Manchester', part two?

A wonderful technician, it's easy to see why City might see Almada as a long-term replacement for David Silva, even if they already possess Phil Foden. But having missed out on him last year, there's reportedly growing interest from elsewhere – United, Inter and Atletico Madrid have all been mentioned as admirers.

It remains to be seen if Almada emulates Tevez and causes another tug-of-war between the Manchester giants, but whoever manages to prise him away from Velez will potentially get themselves a generational talent.

"He is very young and has a long journey ahead of him, a lot to learn, but he has incredible conditions," Flores adds. "He's got a great shot and amazing vision. His vision is not common anymore, you don't see it, or we haven't seen it for a long time. This kind of player comes from the playground, how he controls the ball, how he hits the ball. He is one of the last players that grew up in the street playgrounds."

That style of play is also reflected by his idolising of Juan Roman Riquelme, who invited him to a barbecue after seeing him play earlier this season. "He got my number, texted me and invited me. He is my idol – I could not believe it," Almada told Infobae in October.

Like Riquelme at Boca Juniors in the 1990s, Almada is already a significant influence at Velez despite being a teenager, even if only 10 of his league appearances this term have come as a starter.

With nine goals since making his debut, he is – remarkably – Velez's top-scorer, and only five players have featured more regularly than him.

In terms of chance creation, he's laid on 54 key passes since August 2018, the second most of Velez players, and his dribbling excellence is also quantifiable.

He has attempted 121 take-ons in senior football, completing 60 per cent – of Velez players, only Gaston Gimenez (67 per cent) has a better completion rate than Almada.

Explosive, technically outstanding and creative, there is much to like about his game. More dynamic than Riquelme and arguably a greater natural talent than Tevez, Almada's future looks exciting.

Tevez may have blazed a trail out of Fuerte Apache for Almada to follow, potentially even to Manchester, but there's every chance the teenager could one day be held in even higher regard than Carlitos.

'Next Generation' is a series focusing on the young players tipped to establish themselves as the elite in the 2020s.

 

Fuerte Apache, Buenos Aires is an imposing sight. Like a skyrise jungle domineering over the run-down surroundings of small shops and bars, it holds a certain aura that is probably not helped by its reputation.

Ejercito de los Andes, to give its original name, received its more familiar moniker after a shootout in the estate was broadcast live on the news. The 1981 film 'Fort Apache, The Bronx' is where the nickname came from, and it stuck.

Carlos Tevez is the barrio's most famous son. The former Manchester United, Manchester City, Juventus and Argentina star's face is prominent in numerous places around the estate, with several murals dedicated to him.

While the biggest – and most iconic – piece in tribute to the forward can be seen on the north edge, facing away from the estate, there is another deep inside Fuerte Apache.

Here, fittingly, Tevez looks out over the football pitch of Roger 'Didi' Ruiz, the coach who discovered him, and where Argentina's next great hope crafted his skills.

First there was Tevez, now Fuerte Apache expects of Thiago Almada.

From Tevez's patch to Velez

As early as four years old, Almada – like Tevez before him – was playing with Club Santa Clara in Fuerte Apache. By five he was signed up by Velez Sarsfield, but he continued to represent his local side as well.

For Almada, a silky attacking midfielder, football has offered a legitimate route to a better life. Even though he accepts the area isn't quite as dangerous as it was in Tevez's time, trouble was still frequent in his youth.

"In the neighbourhood, there are a lot of people who chose the wrong path. It is one way or the other, and I also chose," he told Diario Clarin in 2017, when he was still a part of Velez's youth setup.

But he wouldn't be for much longer. A little over a year later, in August 2018, Almada made his first-team debut as a 17-year-old, appearing for 26 minutes in the 2018-19 Superliga opener against Newell's Old Boys.

He went on to play a total of 16 league matches that season under the tutelage of Gabriel Heinze, generally operating through the middle or off the left, but such prominence at a young age in Argentina does not go unnoticed by bigger European clubs, and it caused fractions.

Velez were understandably concerned about Almada being poached and, with his contract set to expire in June 2020, for a period it seemed realistic he could leave for pittance.

The situation led to speculation claiming Heinze had grown frustrated with Almada, though the coach furiously denied this in a news conference last year, saying: "Tell that journalist that he is a liar and he is absolutely wrong. There are two people here, it's me and it's Thiago. I tell him that they have a lying journalist and the information is a lie. My relationship with Thiago remains the same."

"All the goals were scored by him"

In September, Velez finally tied Almada down to a new four-year contract. As much as anything, it provided the Liniers club with greater financial security, increasing his release clause from a reported €14million to a figure that will reportedly reach €25m after August 31. Directors could breathe a sigh of relief.

Man City had been lurking. With reports of Almada's agent travelling to Europe for talks with other clubs, a feeling of deja vu would have been justifiable for Velez, who lost Benjamin Garre – a former youth-team colleague of Almada – to the Premier League giants for a nominal fee in 2016.

While Almada's rise has been impressive – he has played 22 times in the Superliga this term – it cannot be said that no one saw it coming.

Turu Flores, a former Velez player, spent five years on the coaching staff of the club's senior side, including a 12-month stint as head coach. In that time, watching the youth teams was a regular occurrence for him, and one kid always seemed to stand out.

"I've known Thiago since he was a child," Flores told Stats Perform News. "He is a friend of my son and already had an incredible impact when he was 14 years old. I remember him when he was 12, 13 or 14 years old. At that time I was working for Velez and I used to go and see him playing. He used to start as a central midfielder, but the matches would finish 3-0 or 4-0 and all the goals were scored by him. So, you could already envisage that he has the potential to make important things in football."

'Welcome to Manchester', part two?

A wonderful technician, it's easy to see why City might see Almada as a long-term replacement for David Silva, even if they already possess Phil Foden. But having missed out on him last year, there's reportedly growing interest from elsewhere – United, Inter and Atletico Madrid have all been mentioned as admirers.

It remains to be seen if Almada emulates Tevez and causes another tug-of-war between the Manchester giants, but whoever manages to prise him away from Velez will potentially get themselves a generational talent.

"He is very young and has a long journey ahead of him, a lot to learn, but he has incredible conditions," Flores adds. "He's got a great shot and amazing vision. His vision is not common anymore, you don't see it, or we haven't seen it for a long time. This kind of player comes from the playground, how he controls the ball, how he hits the ball. He is one of the last players that grew up in the street playgrounds."

That style of play is also reflected by his idolising of Juan Roman Riquelme, who invited him to a barbecue after seeing him play earlier this season. "He got my number, texted me and invited me. He is my idol – I could not believe it," Almada told Infobae in October.

Like Riquelme at Boca Juniors in the 1990s, Almada is already a significant influence at Velez despite being a teenager, even if only 10 of his league appearances this term have come as a starter.

With nine goals since making his debut, he is – remarkably – Velez's top-scorer, and only five players have featured more regularly than him.

In terms of chance creation, he's laid on 54 key passes since August 2018, the second most of Velez players, and his dribbling excellence is also quantifiable.

He has attempted 121 take-ons in senior football, completing 60 per cent – of Velez players, only Gaston Gimenez (67 per cent) has a better completion rate than Almada.

Explosive, technically outstanding and creative, there is much to like about his game. More dynamic than Riquelme and arguably a greater natural talent than Tevez, Almada's future looks exciting.

Tevez may have blazed a trail out of Fuerte Apache for Almada to follow, potentially even to Manchester, but there's every chance the teenager could one day be held in even higher regard than Carlitos.

Diego Maradona has set aside speculation surrounding his future and signed a new one-year contract at Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata.

The Argentina great was appointed as Gimnasia's head coach in September, although he briefly departed in November and returned two days later.

Maradona was out of contract at the end of the season and the prospect of his return to the Primera Division club appeared remote, as the two parties reportedly failed to come to an agreement on a deal at the start of the week.

However, Gimnasia, celebrating their 133rd birthday on Wednesday, confirmed news of his renewal until 2021.

The club posted on Twitter: "You are known as Pelusa, Barrilete Cosmico, God, Diego, Diegote, capitan...

"But for us, you are one more Tripero and your heart is already as blue and white as ours."

Maradona had earlier hinted at an agreement as he congratulated Gimnasia on their anniversary on his Instagram page.

"Today is El Lobo's birthday," he wrote. "Congratulations to @Gimnasia_Oficial and a hug to your WONDERFUL fans!!!

"My heart is blue and white. Let's go for more!!!"

The Primera Division season was ended prematurely in April due to the coronavirus pandemic, with relegation suspended for two years.

Gimnasia were 19th in the 24-team division when the campaign was brought to a close.

Celebrating another league title in front of a packed Rajko Mitic Stadium is the hope for Red Star Belgrade defender Milos Degenek as football returns in Serbia following the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc globally, with Serbia's SuperLiga among the competitions to have been suspended since March due to the outbreak – the Olympic Games and Euro 2020 were pushed back 12 months.

Red Star were 11 points clear of bitter rivals and neighbours Partizan Belgrade atop the table when the SuperLiga was halted but the defending champions will have the chance to clinch their third consecutive title when the league resumes, albeit in a condensed format, for the final four rounds on Friday.

Serbian powerhouse and 1991 European Cup champions Red Star will play behind closed doors when they travel to lowly Rad Beograd but Degenek is optimistic a full house will be in attendance for the club's final home fixture of the campaign against Proleter Novi Sad on June 20.

"We need one more point to seal the league," Australia international Degenek told Stats Perform News. "That's going to be on Friday night, hopefully we do the business there. Then we have three more games left and I think the last game of the season is at home.

"I hope by that time that they do let the fans in the stadium because there's talk here that maybe they can get fans into the stadium, maybe not. We're not 100 per cent sure there won't be any fans and we're not 100 per cent sure there will be. 

"But I think we will find a way somehow to celebrate with the fans, whether it's inside the stadium or outside. Obviously it's different when you win a title with no one in the stadium to when you win a title with 40,000 in the stadium. There's a difference and I hope the stadium is full by the time the title comes around. If not, then we will find a different way to celebrate."

"It's a been a long way away from football," added Degenek following the enforced break from football, with the centre-back braced for a hectic schedule after the Socceroos' World Cup qualifiers were also postponed, which is set to put a strain on his typical off-season plans. "Obviously we trained and maintained our fitness but just the fact you lack that pure competition, the games, winning, checking the ladder, checking how other teams went, so that's what has been missing for a while. It kinds of get depressing when you can't play every week. It gets even more depressing when you realise it wasn't a break, it was just due to health issues and reasons. Happy that it's back after a while and hopefully it never stops again.

"I'm just really excited and looking forward to getting back on track, getting back into the real world and I hope within a month or so there will be full stadiums again in the world of football. I hope this pandemic stays away for a while so no one has issues and no one is scared, the fact we can live our normal lives again and people who love football can live their normal lives again on a Saturday and Sunday, and take their kids and family to a game."

While the likes of Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom have been hit hard by coronavirus, Serbia has managed to contain the outbreak in comparison, with more than 11,200 confirmed cases and 239 registered deaths.

"To be really, really honest with you, I think 95 per cent of the people here believe and know there's no virus, nothing going on," Degenek said. "Ninety-five per cent of people here think it's just a media hoax, due to all other reasons apart from an actual virus. A lot of people wear masks and gloves, but the people I'm around with and especially when we train, none of us believe there's an actual virus and something is actually happening. 

"Even now when you walk along the streets, you sit at restaurants, you go out at night to a restaurant and there's live music, people on top of each other. I think because my fiancé, she works in a hospital, and she knows there's a lot more people that die due to a normal virus than this coronavirus. I guess coronavirus has been quite well pushed in the media, got its popularity up and everyone got scared but I don't really talk much about it, I don't really care to be honest as long as my football starts back."

Germany's Bundesliga and the K League in South Korea have already returned this month amid social-distancing measures – no celebrating goals or shaking hands.

Those guidelines have baffled Degenek, who said: "I don’t understand the fact that you can't shake hands in a game and can't celebrate a goal but in the corner I'm hugging a player. My sweat is going on his sweat, there's head collisions, some people will bleed, things like that happen. 

"You tackle someone, someone spits on someone… I'm saying stupid things but I don't understand why you can't celebrate a goal when in a corner you can hug someone, slide tackle someone, you can hug someone during the game, move someone around, there's physical contact, it's not as if we're playing basketball or handball and there's not much contact."

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, a club great returned to Belgrade – Dejan Stankovic.

The 41-year-old, who played for Red Star between 1995 and 1998 before enjoying spells at Lazio and Inter, succeeded Vladan Milojevic as head coach in December.

It is Stankovic's first senior job following a brief period as a coach at Inter's academy last year and the 103-time Serbia international has been tipped for a successful career in the dugout.

"I was very excited that a player that he was has now become a coach and gets to coach me because he was won everything there is to win in club football," Degenek said of Stankovic, who won the treble with Inter under Jose Mourinho as part of a 15-piece trophy haul at San Siro to go with Serie A and other silverware at Lazio. 

"He has had some of the best managers in the world and I see in the past few months that we've had him, I've learned a lot. I've come across a lot of footballing ideas and things he wants. I'm very happy to have him as a coach but a friend as well. The way he has started here, I think he will have a good coaching career. I'm almost certain he will because he has so much determination, will, the drive to learn and to push. I think he will have a very good coaching career and it's very exciting to have him here with us."

Milojevic restored Red Star's position at Serbia's summit, but more importantly, he led the capital side back to the Champions League in 2018 – having not featured in Europe's premier club competition since 1992 – and again this season before vacating his position and eventually moving to Saudi side Al-Ahli in February.

"Very sad to see him leave but towards the end of his time, I think you could've seen there wasn't much more he could do," Degenek, 26, said. "You just see when someone is exhausted, when they have done everything and put their life into it. He obviously got the reward, he got a new job in Saudi Arabia which is financially rewarding and he deserves that.

"Also, he done a lot of things for this club which no other manager has done. Obviously very grateful to have him as my coach, also he is a very good person. Happy for him to move on in his career and also happy that I got to work with him and happy he was the one that pushed Red Star into a way that the club should be going, which is forward and in a brighter future."

Liverpool are apparently seeking another option in attack and Wolves star Adama Traore is reportedly one of their targets.

The Premier League leaders have been heavily linked with a move for RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner.

However, they may instead be looking at a Premier League star.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL WANT TRAORE

Liverpool want to add Wolves attacker Traore this close season, according to The Sun.

Traore had scored four goals and provided seven assists in 28 Premier League games before this season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 24-year-old arrived in England from Barcelona in 2015, playing for Aston Villa and Middlesbrough before joining Wolves.

ROUND-UP

- Following reports Paris Saint-Germain had made a bid for Mauro Icardi, who is on loan at the club from Inter, it seems that may not be the case just yet. L'Equipe says PSG and Inter are still in negotiations over the forward, with the Ligue 1 side hoping to pay less than the €70million purchase option they hold.

- Samuel Umtiti's future at Barcelona remains unclear. Marca says the defender will not leave the LaLiga giants, while Sport reports Inter could be prepared to sign the centre-back.

- Manchester City and Barcelona could be set for a deal. The Sun reports City see Nelson Semedo as a good option to provide competition for Kyle Walker, while Joao Cancelo could be offered in a potential deal.

- On loan at Estudiantes, Marcos Rojo appears likely to leave Manchester United permanently. The Mirror says the Premier League club are hoping Boca Juniors and Estudiantes enter a bidding war for the 30-year-old.

- Everton are said to be interested in Jean-Clair Todibo, who is on loan at Schalke from Barcelona this season. Sport reports the Premier League club have offered £19.7million (€22m) plus £2.7m (€3m) in variables for the defender.

Boca Juniors are assisting police with their inquiries after their player Sebastian Villa was accused of domestic violence.

Daniela Cortes, the partner of the Colombia international, posted several photographs and videos to her Instagram account showing injuries to her face and arms.

She claimed they were inflicted by Villa – a man she labelled "a physical and psychological abuser" – and has taken the matter to the police.

Villa's ex-girlfriend Alexandra Marin then posted in support of Cortes and also accused him of abuse during their relationship, while the 23-year-old denied the allegations in a video message.

"As a result of what is being seen on social networks, I wanted to [say] that I have my mother, my sisters, my nieces, my cousins; I have women in my family," he said.

"I do not know with what intention this is being published. Starting tomorrow I will begin to clarify the situation with the indicated people."

In their own statement, Boca confirmed they were "at the disposal of the police" having also been in dialogue with Villa's legal representatives.

"Boca Juniors reports that, given the facts of public knowledge that involve a player from the team, it is already in contact with the player's lawyers and representatives to explore the episode and take the corresponding measures," the statement read.

"From now on, the club is put at the disposal of the police in order to do everything it can to collaborate for the clarification of the event, in accordance with our commitment in matters of human rights and gender issues."

Villa made 17 appearances in the recent Superliga Argentina campaign, scoring two goals and supplying three assists as Boca pipped bitter rivals River Plate to the title.

Inter and Atletico Madrid target Agustin Urzi could be available for less than his €30million release clause, but Banfield are still waiting on a first formal offer.

The 19-year-old winger revealed earlier this month a number of clubs – including Inter and Atletico – had made contact with his agent and with Banfield.

Lucia Barbuto, the Superliga Argentina club's president, has now confirmed the release clause in Urzi's contract, but she added Banfield could be flexible in negotiations.

The coronavirus pandemic and Banfield's desire to see Urzi be a success will play into their thinking, Barbuto said.

"There have been several inquiries, but we have not received any formal offers yet," she told FC Inter News.

"When the interest is concrete, we will analyse it and evaluate what will be best for the future of the player and the club.

"With the current world situation due to the coronavirus pandemic, we don't really know what the next transfer market will be like globally.

"The clause is €30million. However, in order not to impact the player's career, and taking into account the effects of the pandemic, we are willing to possibly negotiate even for a smaller figure.

"But, obviously, we will have to analyse the offer well from an economic and sporting standpoint."

Discussing Urzi's potential, Barbuto added: "Agustin is a player with big potential. I can't say how far he will go, but I am convinced that he has all the characteristics to be a success.

"He is doing it in Banfield, and he has already achieved success with Argentina.

"I have no doubt that, in the future, he will make it, going where his talent and career will take him."

Argentina youth international Urzi has made 28 league appearances for Banfield since his debut in December 2018, scoring twice.

Lionel Messi is above every other player in the world because he makes the right decision at the right moment practically without fail, according to Javier Mascherano.

Former Argentina captain Mascherano played with Messi for eight years at Barcelona, winning 19 trophies in that time, including five LaLiga titles, two Champions Leagues and two Club World Cups.

He was also an international team-mate of the six-time Ballon d'Or winner until he stepped away from representing his country in 2018.

Now at Estudiantes de La Plata, Mascherano remains in awe of Messi, saying the Barca star can dictate matches to his own tempo in a way few others can hope to do.

He told radio programme Cielosports: "The majority of good players make good decisions, but they don't execute them in the best way, or vice versa – the execution is good, but it doesn't end up being the best decision.

"What makes the difference in football is decision-making and execution, and Leo does both things well, and at an incredible speed, and that's why he's different.

"Normally, the game dominates us and takes you with it, but in Leo's case it's the other way around: he decides what to do or what not to do with the game.

"He knows how to save his strength and that allows him, during a match, to have seven, eight or 10 important actions at 100 per cent. That's how he can dominate the game."

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has branded speculation linking him with moves to Inter and Newell's Old Boys as "fake news".

Reports in Argentina, Spain and Italy in recent days have suggested Inter could launch an audacious bid to sign the six-time Ballon d'Or winner, with Barca said to be keen to speak with the Nerazzurri about striker Lautaro Martinez.

TNT in Messi's homeland even suggested discussions had already begun over a series of transfers that would see Martinez move to Camp Nou and Messi head to Inter along with rising Velez Sarsfield star Thiago Almada.

However, Messi has made it clear there is no truth to the rumours, publishing a screenshot of the claim on his official Instagram page and labelling it "fake news".

He described the report of the Inter deal as "lie 1" and wrote "lie 2" over a further claim that bail for former team-mate Ronaldinho, who is being held in Paraguay over allegedly entering the country with a fake passport, was paid from a Barcelona-based bank account that could have been used by Messi.

Messi added: "What they said in this same publication about Newell's a few weeks ago was also false. At least nobody believes them..."

Messi's future remains unclear as he has the option to unilaterally terminate his Barca contract at the end of the season.

The 32-year-old has been at loggerheads with some of Barca's board this term, adding to speculation he could decide to walk away.

Messi called out first-team technical secretary Eric Abidal for suggesting some players downed tools during Ernesto Valverde's final weeks in charge, while he then accused figures within the club of trying to place the players under undue public scrutiny while they negotiated a voluntary 70 per cent pay cut during the coronavirus crisis.

Manchester City are another club to have been linked with the Argentina star, who has always stressed he feels at home at Barca, where he has spent his whole senior career.

Boca Juniors will not be signing Edinson Cavani when his Paris Saint-Germain contract expires because the Superliga champions feel he is out of their reach financially, according to the club's president.

Cavani's seven-year stay with PSG looks set to be coming to an end, with the 33-year-old striker's deal in Paris due to expire in June.

The Uruguay international has enjoyed a wonderful spell at the Parc des Princes, winning 18 domestic trophies and becoming the club's all-time leading goalscorer, surpassing Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

But the writing was on the wall for Cavani when PSG signed Mauro Icardi from Inter on an initial loan last year – the former Napoli star subsequently falling out of favour, with Kylian Mbappe and Neymar also ahead of him in the pecking order.

Boca emerged as a potential next destination after club adviser Jorge Bermudez hinted at their interest and the player's apparent desire to represent the Xeneizes, but president Jorge Amor Ameal has since discounted their chances.

"We are proud that a player like Cavani says he wants to wear our shirt, but our economic reality doesn't match with his," Ameal is quoted as saying to Radio Splendid by EFE.

"Of course, no one is going to argue that Cavani isn't a great player, but we have to think more about our existing players and believe in them."

Cavani had been strongly linked with a move to Atletico Madrid in January, but a transfer failed to materialise.

Independiente head coach Lucas Pusineri hopes Manchester City star Sergio Aguero one day returns to the club.

Aguero came through the youth ranks at Independiente before joining Atletico Madrid in 2006 and moving to City five years later.

His former Independiente team-mate, Pusineri, is now in charge of the Argentine club and wants Aguero – and Milan midfielder Lucas Biglia – to return.

"With Sergio Aguero and Lucas Biglia I have a beautiful relationship," he told InfiernoRojo on Tuesday.

"We were partners and I have a lot of respect for the trajectories they have taken with Argentina and in Europe as well."

Pusineri added: "Of course it would be nice to have them tomorrow. In the future, it is hopeful to count on them."

Aguero has said previously he wants to return to Independiente, although his contract at City runs until 2021.

He scored 23 goals in 30 games before this season was stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a vastly reduced sporting schedule for the coming weeks.

With the world attempting to stop the spread of a virus that has claimed over 6,000 lives, leagues and events have been suspended in many countries.

Some competitions are still ongoing, though, and we have picked out five match-ups from Monday's slate.


Tambov v Krylya Sovetov - Russian Premier League

The title race is all but over in Russia as Zenit streak clear, but there is plenty still to play for at the foot of the table. With two relegation places and two more for a relegation play-off in the 16-team division, the bottom seven teams are separated by just five points.

Tambov - promoted last season - are 15th but only trail Monday's 14th-placed opponents Krylya Sovetov on their head-to-head record. This clash could be huge in the race to avoid the drop.

Southern Steel v Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic - ANZ Premiership

The 2020 netball season began in New Zealand at the weekend, with defending champions the Central Pulse quickly impressing again in victory over the Mainland Tactix.

On Monday, it is the turn of 2017 and 2018 winners the Southern Steel to lay down a marker. They will hope to adapt quickly to life after departed Silver Ferns star Te Paea Selby-Rickit against the potentially dangerous Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic.

Antalyaspor v Sivasspor - Turkish Super Lig

There is an intriguing title tussle in Turkey as the teams head for the home straight. And the group at the summit only became more bunched up on Sunday when top two Trabzonspor and Istanbul Basaksehir played out a 1-1 draw.

That result means fourth-placed Sivasspor could now move within a point of the pair with victory at Antalyaspor. The hosts are unbeaten in seven in the league after a poor run, though, and should provide the title hopefuls with a stern test.

Prime Bank v Gazi Group Cricketers - Dhaka Premier League

Another competition to get under way in recent days was cricket's Dhaka Premier League, and two-time defending champions Abahani Limited soared straight to the top of the standings.

Two former winners will face off in their first match on Monday. Gazi Group Cricketers have recruited Bangladesh star Mahmudullah, too, and will hope for a serious challenge in 2020.

Lanus v Argentinos Juniors - Copa Superliga

The Copa Superliga endured a tough start to just its second season over the weekend as giants River Plate refused to open their stadium and prompted the postponement of a meeting with Atletico Tucuman.

But there is an intriguing clash on the cards on Monday, as Argentinos Juniors visit out-of-form Lanus. The hosts have slipped three points below their opponents in the league amid a five-match winless run but will be looking for the cup to provide some respite.

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