Barcelona have to be successful again if they are to keep Lionel Messi happy, head coach Ronald Koeman has said.

In an interview with SPORT that was published on Tuesday, six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi stated his wish to draw a line under recent events and move on after he publicly aired his grievances about the ongoings at Camp Nou on more than one occasion.

The 33-year-old tried, and failed, to force a move away from the club on a free after last season finished before again taking shots at the Barca hierarchy over their handling of his friend Luis Suarez's departure for Atletico Madrid.

Messi, who is only under contract until the end of the 2020-21 season, has now insisted he wants to move on and Koeman has welcomed that.

"I don't know if after Leo's statements I'm going to have a quiet life, I don't think so," he told reporters ahead of Thursday's away LaLiga game against Celta Vigo. 

"But it is positive that the captain shows himself in that sense, asking for unity. This has always been positive. Hopefully we are going to be calmer than lately."

Messi's criticism has centred around president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who will vacate the position in March at the latest, and he has suggested he was unhappy long before Koeman was appointed.

However, the Dutchman thinks the key to keeping Messi content is with results on the pitch.

"I do not know if I have everything in that sense in my hands," Koeman replied when asked what he could do to keep his superstar happy.

"You have to find the best team for him, where he can shine and where he gets the most out of it. And look for a formula in training.

"I have seen that he lives for football, even in training matches he does everything to win. For Leo to be happy, we have to win games."

One man who could be departing Catalonia is midfielder Rafinha.

The Brazilian has played in just eight LaLiga games for Barca across the previous three seasons, having spent time out on loan with Inter and Celta, and he has not been included in the squad for Thursday's match.

A report in England suggested Manchester City had turned down the chance to take Rafinha as part of a deal that would send Eric Garcia the other way, but Koeman indicated the 27-year-old needs to find a new club.

"For players who do not see many possibilities, it is better to find a way out," he said.

"I know that Rafinha has been on loan and it is a moment when you can no longer be on loan every season. We have many midfielders, we will have to look for the best for the team. They are technical decisions."

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho is optimistic he will have a new striker in his squad by the end of the transfer window on Monday.

Spurs have reportedly made a breakthrough in their bid to add another striking option to support Harry Kane after being linked with multiple players across Europe.

Mourinho is hopeful the club will make a signing, but regardless of the outcome he is thrilled by the support the club have given him in the market, with Gareth Bale, Sergio Reguilon, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Matt Doherty among their additions.

Asked if a new striker would come in, Mourinho said: "I am optimistic, but more than that I like the feeling that we are trying everything to do it.

"My club and structure is trying everything to do it. If we succeed, great, I believe so and if we don't, that's football."

Speaking ahead of Tottenham's home Europa League play-off tie against Maccabi Haifa on Thursday, Mourinho also heaped praise on midfielder Tanguy Ndombele.

A marquee signing last season, Ndombele initially struggled but has impressed of late and starred in Tuesday's EFL Cup penalty shoot-out win over Chelsea, which is part of a frantic run of fixtures.

"Tanguy is playing amazing," said Mourinho. "I am very, very happy.

"You can feel the happiness. Physically he has to be better, he will be better. But if you compare this Tanguy with last season's Tanguy, there is no point in comparing.

"But he can get better, he can be really phenomenal."

Spurs, who have also been in negotiations with Inter over defender Milan Skriniar, play Mourinho's former club Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has confirmed Sergino Dest is having a medical with the club ahead of a potential move from Ajax.

The 19-year-old United States international has been strongly linked with a €25million move to either Barca or Bayern Munich, but it appears the Catalan club have won the race.

Dest, an attack-minded right-back, was spotted arriving in Barcelona on Tuesday, giving rise to increased speculation that the deal was practically closed.

And Koeman, who tried to persuade Dest to represent the Netherlands when he coached the Oranje, confirmed the teenager is having a medical as he plans to take the well-trodden path from Ajax to Camp Nou.

"Dest is doing his medical, we still have to sign [the contracts]," Koeman told reporters in his news conference on Wednesday. "Until he signs I will not comment

"We are going to have a young full-back – it is a matter of changing things and having young players for the future of the club is important.

"It is good because he has played in the Champions League and I am sure that, when all the contracts are signed, he will be very useful for Barca."

One player strongly linked with leaving Barca is Ousmane Dembele, who is reportedly being lined up by Manchester United as an alternative to Jadon Sancho.

The French winger has only been able to show glimpses of his ability since joining from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 due to injuries – in 2019-20 he featured just five times in LaLiga.

While Koeman claimed no knowledge of any potential transfer for Dembele, he insisted that he sees a future for him at Barca.

"Those decisions are made by the club and the player. As we have seen, I am going to count on him," Koeman added.

"He did not play from the start [against Villarreal] because there are more players and Ansu [Fati] has proven to be very good for this team.

"He was better physically the first few weeks, but today he trained well and I'm going to count on him."

Dembele's future could be tied to that of Memphis Depay, who is said to be Barca's primary target in attack, and while Koeman would not specifically name his compatriot when asked about signings, he made no secret of his desire to add options in that department.

"We have to analyse the squad, analyse what we lack," he continued. "We know that financially the club has its problems, like everyone else.

"There are one or two positions where we need to improve, and I'm not going to lie to you, we are working.

"There are options but it is very unsafe. The club is going to work hard. If not, we will use our players because I have no complaints with the ones we have.

"We want to have two or three players per position. We have put Leo [Lionel Messi] as a nine, [Antoine] Griezmann can play there, but they are different players. Martin [Braithwaite] is more than a nine and will have his chances but we want one more."

Aston Villa have signed attacking midfielder Ross Barkley on a season-long loan deal from Chelsea.

Barkley had made three appearances for Frank Lampard's side in the early stages of the new campaign – scoring in last week's EFL Cup win over Barnsley – but will now spend 2020-21 with Villa.

Villa boss Dean Smith described the signing as "a real coup" as his in-form team look to build on their narrow Premier League survival last season.

Barkley, 26, joined Chelsea from Everton in January 2018 and has been part of squads who have won the FA Cup and Europa League.

However, he has started just 28 Premier League matches in his two-and-a-half-year stay at Stamford Bridge amid struggles to recapture his peak form and fitness displayed while at Everton.

Barkley has 33 caps for England, last appearing at international level in a match against Bulgaria in October 2019.

He joins a Villa team who have won all four of their matches so far this season, two each in the Premier League and EFL Cup.

"Capturing a player of Ross's quality is a real coup for our club and I am certain he will thrive here and improve our team," said Smith as the move was confirmed on Wednesday.

Ousmane Dembele has been linked with a move to Manchester United before the transfer window closes.

Dembele is seen as an alternative to Jadon Sancho, who remains at Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund.

But Dembele is reportedly against leaving Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – DEMBELE NOT INTERESTED IN UNITED

Ousmane Dembele does not want to leave Barcelona amid interest from Manchester United, claims Sky Deutschland via Inside Futbol.

Dembele has emerged as an option for United, who have failed to prise number one transfer target Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.

As Dortmund refuse to lower their demands, United reportedly want Dembele on loan, however the France international is happy at Camp Nou.

 

ROUND-UP

United are also eyeing former Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani and Real Madrid's Luka Jovic, claims Gianluca Di Marzio. Desperate to reinforce their squad, United are set to attempt to sign free agent Cavani or Jovic on loan. Jovic has also been linked to Roma, Milan and Inter.

- Fabrizio Romano says Tottenham remain in talks with Inter for Milan Skriniar. Spurs are determined to sign the centre-back, though Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger – also linked to PSG – is an alternative.

Callum Hudson-Odoi is interested in joining Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, reports Sky Germany. The Chelsea winger has previously been linked with Bayern, and he has struggled to cement his position in London.

Lucas Torreira's agent is set for transfer talks with Atletico Madrid as the Arsenal midfielder looks to leave London, reports Romano. It comes as Gunners full-back Sead Kolasinac nears a switch to Bayer Leverkusen.

Saint-Etienne defender Wesley Fofana is heading to Leicester City in a deal that breaks the French club's transfer record, it was announced on Tuesday.

Fofana was described by Saint-Etienne as "one of the greatest French talents of his generation" as they confirmed the 19-year-old centre-back was heading to the Premier League.

There have been reports Leicester will pay a fee in the region of £30million (€32m) for Marseille-born Fofana, with the transfer a huge financial boost for Saint-Etienne.

In a statement, the Ligue 1 club said: "AS Saint-Etienne reached an agreement on Tuesday evening with Leicester, the current leaders of the English Premier League, for the transfer of their defender Wesley Fofana. The amount of this transfer is the largest ever obtained by the club."

Saint-Etienne said the decision to sell Fofana was reached collaboratively by the club's board and shareholders, describing Leicester's bid as "exceptional, especially given the uncertain economic context caused by the [COVID-19] health crisis".

Leicester, who stunned Manchester City 5-2 on Sunday to move level atop the Premier League, have yet to comment on the deal.

Fofana played 14 matches in Ligue 1 last season, made two appearances in the Europa League, and helped Saint-Etienne reach the Coupe de France final, where they lost 1-0 to Paris Saint-Germain.

In April, Fofana signed a new four-year contract with Saint-Etienne, who are coached by former Leicester boss Claude Puel.

However, Fofana told L'Equipe the chance to move to Leicester was irresistible.

He said: "Coming from a poor family from the northern districts of Marseille, I can't turn this down. I would be mad to say no to Leicester."

Ruben Dias believes Manchester City's brand of football suits his game and is confident he can develop after signing a six-year deal with the Premier League club.

After Benfica confirmed Dias' departure on Sunday, City formalised the arrival of the Portugal defender on Tuesday, with Nicolas Otamendi going the other way.

City will hope Dias can help to solve the defensive issues that undermined their title defence last season, as they finished 18 points behind champions Liverpool.

And Dias feels the marriage of his and City's styles will allow him to succeed and live up to the billing at the Etihad Stadium.

"To have the opportunity to join a club like Manchester City is a fantastic opportunity for me and one I couldn't turn down," Dias said.

"Their success speaks for itself. They have been the dominant team in England over the last few years, playing an attacking brand of football which I feel suits my own game.

"It is really exciting to be part of such a talented squad and to play for a world-class manager like Pep Guardiola, who has a proven track record of developing young players like myself.

"I believe I can improve here, at a club whose ambitions match my own and I will give everything to be successful and win titles."

City's director of football Txiki Begiristain added: "Ruben is a player we have admired for some time and we have been impressed with how he has progressed at Benfica.

"He has developed into a real leader and as a defender, he has all the attributes we are looking for. He is strong in the air, good in one-v-one situations and technically, he is very good, so we are confident he can thrive in our system.

"He is young but has experience playing for a top European club in Benfica and we're really pleased we've been able to sign him.

"He is another talented addition to the squad and someone who is only going to get better working under Pep."

Lionel Messi wants to bring an end to any disagreements with Barcelona, calling for everyone at the club to show a united front in their bid for success this season. 

The Argentine superstar stunned the footballing world when he announced he sensationally wanted to leave Camp Nou in August, believing he could still activate a clause to terminate his contract and walk away for nothing. 

However, with both Barca and LaLiga insisting that option had expired in June, leaving any potential buyer to either negotiate with the LaLiga side or pay his €700million release clause, Messi opted not to pursue the matter any further. 

Confirming an exit was "impossible" after his father and agent Jorge met with president Josep Maria Bartomeu, the 33-year-old told Goal Spain he would be staying put to see out the remaining year of his contract. 

Messi converted from the spot as the Ronald Koeman era began with a 4-0 thrashing of Villarreal at Camp Nou and, speaking to SPORT, has now made clear his desire to draw a line under what has been a tumultuous period for both himself and the club. 

"After so many disagreements, I would like to bring an end to everything. We all have to be united and assume that the best is yet to come," the six-time Ballon d'Or winner said. 

In excerpts of an exclusive interview that will be released in full on Wednesday, Messi insisted he had only acted with Barcelona's best interests at heart. 

"I take responsibility for my errors and if they existed, it was only to make Barcelona better and stronger," he admitted. 

Sending a message to the fans, Messi added: "If at any moment, any of them were annoyed by something that I said or did, let there be no doubts that anything I did was always with the club's best interests in mind."

Messi was strongly linked with a move to Manchester City, which would have seen him team up again with former Barca boss Pep Guardiola in the Premier League.

Marco Reus is excited Jadon Sancho will remain at Borussia Dortmund for "at least one more year", with Manchester United seemingly destined to be frustrated in their pursuit of the England forward.

United's interest in taking Sancho to Old Trafford has been no secret, but Dortmund have been steadfast in their refusal to sell him for anything under their reported €120million (£108m) asking price.

Sancho is under contract until 2023 and Reus is delighted at the prospect of another campaign alongisde the former Manchester City youth player at Signal Iduna Park.

"For us it's great. We were all excited that he will stay at least one more year," Dortmund captain Reus told reporters. "Simply because he keeps on delivering goals and assists via which we will collect a lot of points."

Reus does not yet know the extent of Sancho's potential and is unwilling to say whether he has the promise to perform at the level of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"He's a crucial player for us and if he one day will be as big a player as the other two [Ronaldo and Messi] we will see.

"He simply needs time, a lot of experience, and there will be times where everything's not going that well and one will see how he will get through that.

"But I think he has got the necessary confidence and quality to succeed."

Dortmund face Bayern Munich in the German Super Cup on Wednesday, having suffered a surprise 2-0 defeat to Augsburg in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

Sancho was extremely influential as Dortmund finished second in the Bundesliga last season.

His 17 league goals trailed only Robert Lewandowski (34) and Timo Werner (28). Thomas Muller (21) was the lone player to have more assists than Sancho's 16 in the Bundesliga in 2019-20.

Inter coach Antonio Conte is anxious for the transfer window to close because it can cause worries for players while it is open.

The Nerazzurri began the 2020-21 Serie A season with a 4-3 win over a Franck Ribery-inspired Fiorentina on Saturday, with late goals courtesy of Romelu Lukaku and Danilo D'Ambrosio completing a dramatic turnaround.

While the win highlighted their effectiveness in attack, it did raise some questions regarding the defence – though Conte does not seem to think there is a great need to make changes.

After all, when asked about transfers on Tuesday ahead of the trip to Benevento, Conte was completely dismissive, stating he would rather the transfer window was not even open for the good of the players.

Inter striker Lautaro Martinez had been linked to Barcelona, although that has since gone quiet, while Milan Skriniar could join Tottenham after not proving an ideal fit for Conte's defensive structure.

When asked if he anticipated seeing a "different Inter" after the final week of the transfer window, Conte told reporters: "It would be fairer for the directors to answer that.

"I, like all coaches, can't wait for this transfer period to end. As long as it remains open, it can often create anxieties and worries for the players.

"I hope for that [the window to close]. The rest is for the thoughts of the executives, who are trying to do their job in the best way."

Radja Nainggolan, who returned from a loan spell with Cagliari last season, is among those seemingly most likely to leave Inter, though Conte again showed no interest in the topic.

"I repeat, ask the directors about signings and sales," he said. "It does not seem correct to me to talk about individuals. These are questions to be asked exclusively to those who deal with them."

But Conte was a little more forthcoming regarding his next opponents, who are coached by a man he knows well: fellow "football addict" Filippo Inzaghi.

"I expect a tough game. Last year they won Serie B with many games to spare," he said. "Inzaghi was a team-mate of mine, I know what he can give to the team.

"I'm happy for him and how he started. His guys in Marassi [the 3-2 win at Sampdoria] showed character. Great attention will be needed.

"As I said before, I had the pleasure of playing with [Inzaghi] both in Juventus and in the national team. We have shared many emotions for years.

"He is passionate, a football addict like me. He studies football and I was sure he would do well. I'm happy for him."

Hansi Flick suggested Michael Cuisance and Javi Martinez could yet stay at Bayern Munich as he made it clear he wants a strong squad for 2020-21.

Cuisance has been linked with Leeds United, having started only three games in the Bundesliga since joining from Borussia Monchengladbach last year.

Martinez, 32, has been tipped to move back to Athletic Bilbao following eight hugely successful years in Germany.

However, head coach Flick appears happy to keep both players in his plans in order to give Bayern the best chance possible of competing on all fronts again this season.

They have brought in Alexander Nubel, teenager Tanguy Nianzou and Germany star Leroy Sane in the transfer window, but the latter will be out until after the next international break with a knee injury.

With David Alaba also struggling and the fixture list piling up – Bayern face Borussia Dortmund in the DFL-Supercup on Wednesday and Hertha Berlin in the league on Sunday – Flick wants as many options as possible.

"We last saw each other yesterday. We have no new information since Thursday. As long as he's in my team, I'll plan with him as well. Javi has done a lot for the club," he told reporters of Martinez on Tuesday.

"Both [Cuisance and Martinez] trained today, so I assume both will be in the squad tomorrow. We all know that, shortly before the transfer window closes, the situation is not easy.

"Hasan [Salihamidzic, sporting director] and I agree: the new season will not only be difficult for Bayern. We have until October 5. For now, the fact is that Mika and Javi are still in the squad. They are part of our team.

"One thing is also clear: we want to win trophies and games. The fact we lost to Hoffenheim is very far from my thoughts. But if we want to achieve objectives, we have to have a squad available.

"On October 15, we play in the DFB-Pokal; on October 17, we play in the Bundesliga. Before that, there are international matches. I didn't create those dates – you have to think about whether that makes sense."

Lionel Messi is welcome to join Luis Suarez at Atletico Madrid if he still wants to play alongside the Uruguayan, Los Colchoneros president Enrique Cerezo has cheekily suggested.

Suarez was unceremoniously dumped by Barca last week, selling him to Atletico for just €6million after six years at Camp Nou.

In that time Suarez rose to third on the club's all-time leading scorers list, but the way his exit was handled angered close friend Messi, who wants to leave Barca.

The initial decision in pre-season to get rid of Suarez reportedly contributed to the club's captain and talisman asking to leave and, although he failed to force a transfer, he again showed his disdain for those in charge by publicly lambasting them for the Uruguayan's exit.

Suarez made his Atletico debut in Sunday's 6-1 demolition of Granada, coming off the bench to devastating effect as he scored twice and got an assist.

And Cerezo has audaciously suggested Messi joins Suarez at the Wanda Metropolitano, borrowing a marketing slogan from Spanish nougat company El Almendro.

"In life, if you want something... If Leo Messi wants to play with Luis Suarez, I tell him the same thing that is said with nougat: 'Let him come home for Christmas'. With desire, anything is possible," he said on Cadena Cope.

Despite the turmoil at Barca over the past seven weeks, Cerezo showed support to his under-fire counterpart at Camp Nou, Josep Maria Bartomeu.

"Everything [with the Suarez signing] went perfectly well," he said. "Bartomeu is a good friend and a great president.

"At the moment things are not going well at Barcelona, but he has acted as he had to act and nothing else has happened. The signing was not complicated, the player plays where he wanted to play."

But Suarez's international colleague Edinson Cavani will not be joining him at Atletico, having previously been mooted as a replacement for Diego Costa.

"Diego Costa is a player that Atletico Madrid needs," Cerezo added. "The season is very long. You don't have to complicate things.

"I don't think there will be a change at Atleti. Cavani's circumstances have not been the same as those of Luis Suarez.

"He is a fantastic player, but everything is different. It wasn't because of me or his brother [Walter Guglielmone, also his agent] that he didn't come."

Borussia Dortmund are reportedly maintaining a firm stance over Jadon Sancho, while Barcelona still want Memphis Depay.

The Sancho transfer saga continues to dominate talk as Manchester United chase the Dortmund star.

But the Bundesliga club are seemingly unmoved.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND ADAMANT SANCHO WILL STAY

Dortmund are adamant Sancho will not be sold this transfer window, according to Sky Sports.

United have continued to be linked with the England international, who scored 17 goals and provided 16 assists in 32 Bundesliga games last season.

However, Dortmund's asking price of £108million (€120m) has reportedly proven to be a stumbling block.

 

ROUND-UP

- Late in the transfer window, there may still be movement at Barcelona. Sport reports Ronald Koeman still wants Lyon star Depay. It also says Ajax full-back Sergino Dest is close to signing, while Porto are trying to loan midfielder Riqui Puig. Meanwhile, Mundo Deportivo says Barca will make a new offer for Eric Garcia after Manchester City signed Benfica defender Ruben Dias.

- Amid uncertainty over Luka Jovic's future at Real Madrid, AS reports LaLiga's champions want the forward to make a loan move. Jovic struggled in his first season at Madrid in 2019-20.

- There could be more movement at Chelsea. Fabrizio Romano says the Premier League club are still looking at West Ham midfielder Declan Rice as their main target, but will first try to sell players.

- Antonio Rudiger could be among the exits at Chelsea. Sky Sports reports Tottenham are interested in signing the defender.

- Talk about Rhian Brewster's Liverpool future continues. The Sun says Sheffield United are offering £17m for the forward and are prepared to agree to a buy-back clause of around £40m. The Blades have failed to score in their first three Premier League games and are second bottom.

- Lyon are reportedly chasing Milan midfielder Lucas Paqueta. L'Equipe claims the Ligue 1 club offered to take the 23-year-old on a one-year loan with an €18m purchase option, a deal which was rejected. However, it reports Lyon will return with an improved offer.

Mikel Arteta expects a busy finish to the transfer window, but the Arsenal manager had no update regarding Houssem Aouar.

Arsenal have been heavily linked with a move for Lyon star Aouar ahead of the transfer window closing on October 5.

Asked about Aouar after a 3-1 Premier League loss to Liverpool on Monday, Arteta had no update, but he predicted a frantic finish to the transfer period.

"We don't have any news on new players and either with players that might leave the football club," he told a news conference.

"It's a week to go, I think it's going to be really busy for other clubs because not much business has been done.

"Let's see what happens."

Arteta added: "I think it will be busy for the Premier League. Busy for us, I don't know how it is going to happen."

Arsenal's loss to Liverpool was their first of the Premier League season and they sit fifth in the table.

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has set a Friday deadline for any departures from the Ligue 1 club amid talk about Memphis Depay and Houssem Aouar.

Depay has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona, while Aouar is reportedly a target for Arsenal.

But while the transfer window closes on October 5, Aulas wants any departures from Lyon to be confirmed by Friday.

"I believe that we will tell the players that for everything that will not be settled in terms of departure before Friday, there will be no departure," he told Telefoot on Monday.

"For us, the date of the transfer window will be Friday. I think to propose it tomorrow [Tuesday] to Rudi [Garcia, coach] and Juni [Juninho, sporting director].

"We realise that there is something wrong. It can be that and many other things. Friday, players who have not left will not leave."

Lyon have made a slow start to the Ligue 1 season, collecting just six points from their opening five games.

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