Are Manchester United set for a busy transfer window?

After finishing runners-up to Manchester City in the Premier League and losing in the Europa League final, United are keen to strengthen.

A trio of stars are reportedly on the club's shortlist.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED WANT THREE MORE PLAYERS

Manchester United are targeting three more signings this off-season, according to The Guardian.

United have agreed a deal to bring Jadon Sancho to Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants more.

The Red Devils are reportedly closing in on Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, though Villarreal's Pau Torres has also been linked, with Tottenham star Harry Kane and West Ham midfielder Declan Rice also on the list.

 

ROUND-UP

- Italy and Roma full-back Leonardo Spinazzola is attracting interest from Madrid following his exploits at Euro 2020, reports Calciomercato. LaLiga rivals Barcelona have also been linked.

- After agreeing to sell Sancho, Dortmund are eyeing PSV's Donyell Malen and RB Leipzig defender Marcel Halstenberg, reports Sport Bild.

Paris Saint-Germain are planning to announce the arrivals of Sergio Ramos, Inter star Achraf Hakimi and former Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma within 15 days, according to Fabrizio Romano. Ramos has agreed to sign a two-year deal in Paris.

- Antena 2 claims James Rodriguez is in talks with Serie A runners-up Milan over a move from Everton.

United are prioritising a contract extension for star Bruno Fernandes, says Romano. Fernandes has flourished since arriving from Sporting CP.

Madrid have joined Milan in the race to sign United and Portugal full-back Diogo Dalot, claims Calciomercato.

PSG have emerged as the only likely suitor for Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo after United signed Sancho, reports Calciomercato. However, a move depends on whether Kylian Mbappe leaves PSG for Madrid or Liverpool.

Lionel Messi became a free agent on Thursday, but Xavi believes it is a matter of time before the captain and record goalscorer re-commits to Barcelona.

While away with Argentina at the Copa America, Messi has been focusing on that tournament, and as July arrived there was no word of a new contract at Camp Nou.

That meant his previous deal expired, making Messi potentially available to suitors that may wish to sign him.

Interest from Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain has appeared to go quiet amid an assumption that Messi will stay with Barcelona.

Former team-mate Xavi feels Messi is moving closer to signing again with the Catalans and would put money on the 34-year-old doing so, even if small doubts linger.

"These are market circumstances, we have to wait," Xavi said. "I imagine he is talking to the club and the president.

"I wish Leo the best, as a friend of his and as a cule [a Barcelona fan], I wish him to continue at Barca. Hopefully, it can be announced as soon as possible."

Speaking to Mundo Deportivo, Xavi, who is coach of Al Sadd, added: "If I had to bet, I would say that he will continue at the club, although many things have been said in football, but I would say that he will continue.

"Leo needs Barca and Barca need Leo. He is happy in Barcelona; he has spent his life there. I would bet on him renewing."

Messi was again hugely influential for the LaLiga giants last season, finishing as the league's top scorer and managing 38 goals and 12 assists across all competitions.

He created 117 chances for others and netted a goal every 110.32 minutes, when taking all competitions into account.

Jordi Alba was next on the list of the most chances created, teeing up 85 goalscoring opportunities, while of players with more than five goals, Antoine Griezmann had the next-best minutes-per-goal ratio, with one every 195.2 minutes.

 

In terms of the most games played, top-flight rookie Pedri finished top of the pile with 52 games, and he has since gone on to play for Spain at Euro 2020.

Pedri will then go on to the Olympic Games and will have had barely any break by the time LaLiga gets under way in 2021-22.

Barcelona are reportedly unhappy at the demands placed on the shoulders of the 18-year-old midfielder, but Xavi thinks such experiences are priceless.

He said: "If I were Pedri, I would go to the Games. I had the opportunity at the time, and they are opportunities that do not return.

"He is 18 years old and footballers want to play. It's a unique opportunity to go to the Games. If you ask Pedri, he will tell you that he is excited."

Lionel Messi received a cheeky approach from Newell's Old Boys as the superstar's boyhood club suggested he join them after his Barcelona contract expired.

Messi became a free agent when his Camp Nou deal ran out at the end of Wednesday, and it was shortly after midnight in Argentina when Newell's made their play for the 34-year-old forward.

"Hi Leo, are you there? In Argentina it is just now July 1 ... [Nothing ventured nothing gained]" Newell's tweeted.

They issued that thinly veiled invitation for Messi to join them at 24 minutes past midnight in Argentina, including a photograph of Messi in a Newell's shirt.

It was a picture taken when Messi paid an emotional tribute to Diego Maradona, who briefly played for the Argentine club in the 1993-94 season.

Messi idolised Maradona and he wore the 1993-94 Newell's top, bearing his hero's number 10, underneath his Barcelona kit for a game against Osasuna in the wake of Maradona's death last November. It was revealed when Messi scored a stunning goal in a 4-0 victory.

 

Messi spent time in the Newell's youth system before moving to Barcelona in 2001, yet the prospect of an imminent return to club football in Argentina looks slim for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

A new deal at Barcelona has been long in the works and, barring any late hitches, is expected to see Messi commit to the club where he has played all his senior club football.

Reports in Spain have pointed to various hurdles that Barcelona must overcome before announcing any new deal for their captain and all-time record scorer, with staying within the club's spending limits being of paramount importance.

It seems more than likely, though, that Messi, who was wanted by Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain when he attempted to leave Barcelona last year, has been persuaded his future should remain in Spain.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi is officially a free agent with his Barcelona contract expiring but the Catalans insist they are in the process of confirming a new deal.

The 34-year-old Argentina international's Barcelona contract expired on June 30, amid speculation of a move away from Camp Nou which he has called home since 2000.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta conceded the situation was not ideal but said negotiations were ongoing.

"We are doing well but you have to fit a deal into the financial fair play," Laporta told reporters on Wednesday.

"We want him to stay and we are excited for him to stay. I wish I could tell you that Leo is staying but I can't say yet. We are in the process of finding the solution."

Messi expressed a desire to leave Barcelona last off-season, with a growing dissatisfaction with the direction of the club on and off the field.

The Argentine remained with Barcelona bound by a clause in his contract, referred to by former president Josep Maria Bartomeu who has since been replaced by Laporta.

Messi, who is currently in Brazil with Argentina competing at Copa America 2021, is widely expected to stay at Barca.

Barcelona have spent the past 18 months attempting to trim their wage bill, having been significantly impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Messi's previous contract, signed in 2017, was worth approximately €500m over four years.

The Argentine has won 10 LaLiga and four Champions League titles during his time at Barcelona although they have not won the domestic league since 2019 and the continental crown since 2015.

Barcelona know their opponents for the 2020-21 LaLiga season but remain unsure whether Lionel Messi will be around for their opener against Real Sociedad at Camp Nou.

Messi, who is currently in action for Argentina at the Copa America, will see his Barca contract expire at midnight CET on Wednesday, with no news of any agreement on an extension at this stage.

Ronald Koeman will still be in situ as head coach and must tackle back-to-back Basque encounters, with a trip to Athletic Bilbao the first match of the campaign on the road for new additions Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, Emerson and Eric Garcia.

Sevilla away marks the Blaugrana's first September fixture as they continue a tricky start, while a daunting October schedule features Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano on October 3, three weeks before the first Clasico of the season at Camp Nou.

The return against Madrid comes on March 20, with champions Atletico in Catalonia on February 6. Last season, Barcelona took a solitary point from four matches against their fellow heavyweights.

They will need to improve upon that return if they are to make the most of a May run-in of Real Mallorca, Real Betis, Celta Vigo, Getafe and Villarreal.

Barcelona's 2021-22 LaLiga fixtures in full:

15/08/2021 – Real Sociedad (h)
22/08/2021 – Athletic Bilbao (a)
29/08/2021 – Getafe (h)
12/09/2021 – Sevilla (a)
19/09/2021 – Granada (h)
22/09/2021 – Cadiz (a)
26/09/2021 – Levante (h)
03/10/2021 – Atletico Madrid (a)
17/10/2021 – Valencia (h)
24/10/2021 – Real Madrid (h)
27/10/2021 – Rayo Vallecano (a)
31/10/2021 – Deportivo Alaves (h)
07/11/2021 – Celta Vigo (a)
21/11/2021 – Espanyol (h)
28/11/2021 – Villarreal (a)
05/12/2021 – Real Betis (h)
12/12/2021 – Osasuna (a)
19/12/2021 – Elche (h)
02/01/2022 – Real Mallorca (a)
09/01/2022 – Granada (a)
19/01/2022 – Rayo Vallecano (h)
23/01/2022 – Deportivo Alaves (a)
06/02/2022 – Atletico Madrid (h)
13/02/2022 – Espanyol (a)
20/02/2022 – Valencia (a)
27/02/2022 – Athletic Club (h)
06/03/2022 – Elche (a)
13/03/2022 – Osasuna (h)
20/03/2022 – Real Madrid (a)
03/04/2022 – Sevilla (h)
10/04/2022 – Levante (a)
17/04/2022 – Cadiz (h)
20/04/2022 – Real Sociedad (a)
01/05/2022 – Real Mallorca (h)
08/05/2022 – Real Betis (a)
11/05/2022 – Celta Vigo (h)
15/05/2022 – Getafe (a)
22/05/2022 – Villarreal (h)

Barcelona will get to host the first Clasico clash against Real Madrid after the full fixture list for the 2021-22 LaLiga season was revealed on Wednesday.

The opening fixture in the rivalry will take place at Camp Nou on October 24, 10 games into the new campaign, with the returning meeting to be held at the Santiago Bernabeu on March 20 next year.

It remains to be seen whether Barca, who will start their season at home to Real Sociedad on the weekend of August 14-15, will still be able to call on Lionel Messi, whose contract with the Catalan club runs out at the end of June.

The 34-year-old is yet to commit to a new deal, though Barca president Joan Laporta has stressed his confidence an agreement will be reached.

Madrid, meanwhile, kick off their season on the road against Deportivo Alaves. Los Blancos requested an away fixture to start 2021-22 as redevelopment work continues at their Bernabeu home, meaning Carlo Ancelotti will have to wait a little longer for his first home match since returning to the Spanish club.

Meanwhile, reigning champions Atletico Madrid will start their title defence away at Celta Vigo.

The first Madrid derby, to be hosted by Los Blancos, will take place in December, with the second fixture – a potential title decider – scheduled for May 8.

Barca will close out their season at home to Villarreal, with Madrid hosting Real Betis and Atleti travelling to Real Sociedad.

Wednesday also saw confirmation of the date for the Copa del Rey final, which will take place at Estadio de la Cartuja in Seville on April 23 next year.

Barring the last two matchdays, the entirety of the 2020-21 season had to be played behind closed doors due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Spanish health minister Carolina Darias confirmed earlier this month that fans would be allowed to return for games in the new campaign, though the emergence of the Delta variant across Europe may put those plans on hold.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas, however, insisted last week that he hopes stadiums will be back at full capacity by November.

Speaking on June 23, Tebas said: "I believe we can start the season with 60 per cent capacity. Some areas of Spain will have more, some less. But by November or December we should be at 100 per cent."

LaLiga 2021-22 opening day fixtures:

Barcelona v Real Sociedad
Cadiz v Levante
Celta Vigo v Atletico Madrid
Deportivo Alaves v Real Madrid
Elche v Athletic Bilbao
Osasuna v Espanyol
Real Mallorca v Real Betis
Sevilla v Rayo Vallecano
Valencia v Getafe
Villarreal v Granada

Lionel Messi will have the option to bring his long-standing association with Barcelona to an end in a matter of hours.

The 34-year-old's Camp Nou contract is set to expire on July 1, leaving him free to move on from the club where he has spent the entirety of his 17-year professional career thus far.

Fortunately for Barca, that outcome looks unlikely, with recent reports suggesting that the Argentina great is on the verge of agreeing fresh terms.

Should Messi put pen to paper on that extension, it will increase the possibility of him joining the ranks of players who spent their whole careers at just one club. 

Here, we take a look at five of football's most celebrated one-club men.


Paolo Maldini (AC Milan)

Indisputably one of the greatest defenders of all-time, Maldini made his Milan debut as a 16-year-old in 1985 and spent the next quarter of a century at San Siro, winning seven Serie A titles and five Champions Leagues.

Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)

Like Maldini, Giggs progressed from prodigious young talent to distinguished elder statesman as he represented United from 1990 to 2014. Two Champions Leagues and 13 Premier League titles sit among an astonishing 34 honours amassed by Giggs across 963 senior United appearances.

Francesco Totti (Roma)

Totti bid an emotional farewell to Roma at the end of the 2016-17 campaign after 786 competitive appearances and 307 goals – matching Maldini's record of appearing in 25 Serie A seasons.

Carles Puyol (Barcelona)

A long-time team-mate of Messi's and the captain of Pep Guardiola's mesmeric treble winners of 2008-09, Puyol won six LaLiga titles and three Champions Leagues. With 593 appearances for Barcelona to his name, the defender sits fifth on the club's all-time list behind Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, and the outright leader Messi on 778.

Matthew Le Tissier (Southampton)

A mercurial forward with a knack for scoring improbably audacious goals, Le Tissier was regularly linked with the leading lights of English football during his 1990s heyday. He remained loyal to boyhood club Southampton to cement icon status on the south coast, although a mere eight appearances for England provides a talking point about what might have been possible had he not resisted offers from bigger clubs. 

What does the future hold for Kylian Mbappe?

The Paris Saint-Germain star is wanted in France and Spain.

France striker Mbappe is reportedly facing a decision over his future.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE HAS DECISION TO MAKE

Kylian Mbappe has a decision to make over his future as he enters the final year of his Paris Saint-Germain contract, according to the front pages of Wednesday's Marca and Diario AS.

Mbappe will become a free agent at the end of the 2021-22 season and the PSG star continues to be heavily linked with LaLiga giants Real Madrid.

L'Equipe, however, claims PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has taken over from sporting director Leonardo in contract negotiations and Mbappe is reportedly pleased with the club's early transfer business as Gianluigi Donnarumma prepares to join Georginio Wijnaldum in Paris.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano reports Cristiano Ronaldo's future at Juventus is uncertain. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked with PSG, Madrid and Manchester United. Contracted to Juve until 2022, Romano says Ronaldo is not negotiating a new deal as the Serie A giants wait for the superstar to decide whether he stays or leaves.

- Aston Villa are hopeful of keeping star captain Jack Grealish amid interest from Premier League champions Manchester City, per The Telegraph.

- Bild reports RB Leipzig are set to sign Eintracht Frankfurt forward Andre Silva. The Portugal international starred in 2020-21 and has been linked with Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Madrid, United and City.

- United are eyeing Bayern midfielder Leon Goretzka as a possible replacement for Paul Pogba, according to Sport Bild. Bayern and Goretzka have been discussing a new deal. It comes as Bayern also try to re-sign Kingsley Coman and Joshua Kimmich. Coman has been linked with United and Liverpool.

Atalanta are in advanced talks to sign Udinese goalkeeper Juan Musso, claims Sky Sport Italia. Musso has previously been linked with Serie A champions Inter, who are reportedly eyeing Ajax's Andre Onana.

- Le10 Sport claims negotiations between PSG and former Madrid captain Sergio Ramos have hit a snag due to the club's unwillingness to offer a two-year deal. Ramos has also been linked with United, City, Chelsea and Juventus on a free transfer.

- A resolution for Lionel Messi's contract renewal at Barcelona does not seem to be close as he is set to officially become a free agent at midnight on Wednesday, claims Marca. Barca are pushing to complete the new deal.

Is Lionel Messi's future on the verge of being resolved at Camp Nou?

Messi's contract with LaLiga powerhouse Barcelona expires this week and the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked with a move.

But, if reports are to be believed, the superstar is poised to extend his long stay at Barca.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA READYING MESSI ANNOUNCEMENT

Barcelona are preparing to officially announce an agreement has been reached with Messi, according to Football Espana and Fabrizio Romano.

The superstar captain has been linked with Premier League champions Manchester City and Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain.

But Messi is now set to renew for a further two years at Barca, where the 34-year-old has spent his entire senior career.

 

ROUND-UP

City will renew their attempts to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham after Euro 2020, claims Romano. City are among a host of clubs interested in Kane, who is also reportedly wanted by Manchester United, Chelsea, Barca, Real Madrid and PSG. Spurs, however, are unwilling to sell the England star. City have also been linked with Inter's Romelu Lukaku and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

Brahim Diaz will join Milan from Madrid on loan with an option to buy, reports Sky Sport. The Spaniard spent the 2020-21 season on loan at San Siro. Milan are also interested in Alvaro Odriozola if they are unable to bring Diogo Dalot back from United.

- Gianluca Di Marzio says Arsenal are trying to sign Benfica full-back Nuno Tavares, who has also been linked with Napoli and Lazio.

- Serie A champions Inter are eyeing Franck Kessie amid his contract stalemate with neighbours Milan, according to Tuttosport.

- Tuttosport reports Arsenal are pressing to bring Italy forward Andrea Belotti to London from Torino. Roma have long been linked with Belotti, as well as Milan.

Juventus are ready to make a bid for Lille and Portugal star Renato Sanches, per Calciomercato. Milan are also interested as Juve look to prise Manuel Locatelli from Sassuolo.

- Mundo Deportivo says Atletico Madrid are interested in former Barca midfielder Paulinho. The Brazilian is a free agent after leaving Chinese outfit Guangzhou FC.

- There are two clubs trying to sign Luka Jovic from Madrid, claims Diario AS. Jovic, who returned to former club Eintracht Frankfurt on loan in 2020-21, has been linked with Milan.

- Gazzetta dello Sport reports Achraf Hakimi will complete his move to PSG from Inter, who are eyeing Arsenal's Hector Bellerin as a replacement.

Jean-Clair Todibo has completed a permanent move to Nice from Barcelona for an initial fee of €8.5million.

The centre-back signed for the Ligue 1 club in February on a loan deal with the option for a permanent transfer.

Barca announced on Sunday that they could receive up to €15.5m for the 21-year-old depending on variables, while they will also be due a percentage of a future transfer.

Todibo joined Barca from Toulouse in 2019 but only made six appearances for the Catalans in all competitions.

He spent loan spells with Schalke and Benfica before moving to Nice this year, where he made 15 appearances in Ligue 1, scoring in the 3-1 win over Montpellier in April.

"Barcelona wishes to publicly state its gratitude to Jean-Clair Todibo for his commitment and dedication and wishes him all the very best of success in the future," a Barca statement said.

 

Kylian Mbappe understandably has a long list of admirers as speculation swirls over his Paris Saint-Germain future.

The 22-year-old's contract with PSG is due to expire in 2022 and Mbappe has previously hinted at his desire for a move.

He has been heavily linked with Real Madrid but one of the biggest clubs in England reportedly have their eye on the France international.

 

TOP STORY - LIVERPOOL'S AUDACIOUS MBAPPE ENQUIRY

Liverpool have entered the race to sign PSG forward Kylian Mbappe, claims Marca.

Marca reports that the Reds have enquired with PSG about Mbappe's availability.

The audacious move comes as Liverpool plan for a long-term future with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

 

ROUND-UP

- Rennes' 18-year-old Eduardo Camavinga is on the radar of Manchester United, claims The Mail. Camavinga has already caught the eye of several top clubs.

- Manchester City are circling for Chelsea defender Reece James, with The Athletic reporting he is on their "wish list".

- Tottenham are homing in on a move for Bologna's Japanese defender Takehiro Tomiyasu, according to The Sun. It is understood the deal is worth £15million (€17.5m).

- With Jadon Sancho set to leave Borussia Dortmund for Manchester United, the German club are targeting PSV Eindhoven's Donyell Malen, claims The Mirror.

- Sport claims that AC Milan are close to agreeing a loan deal with Barcelona's Junior Firpo.

Is one of football's biggest transfer sagas coming to an end?

Manchester United wanted Jadon Sancho at the start of 2020-21 but a deal with Borussia Dortmund did not materialise.

However, Premier League giants United appear to be closing in on the England international ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

 

TOP STORY – SANCHO SET FOR OLD TRAFFORD

Jadon Sancho will join Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund, according to Fabrizio Romano.

United have long been interested in Sancho, who had previously attracted attention from Liverpool and Chelsea.

But Romano says an agreement is "really close", with "final details expected to be completed in the next few days".

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport Bild reports Real Madrid are scouting RB Leipzig and Spain star Dani Olmo during Euro 2020. Madrid continue to be linked with Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, however, Cadena Ser claims Los Blancos have ruled out an off-season move due to their financial situation.

United are confident of signing Raphael Varane from Madrid but the France defender's salary expectations are a stumbling block, says The Independent. It comes as ESPN reports Anthony Martial and Donny van de Beek could be sold as part of a revamp of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's squad.

- According to Foot Mercato, former Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has made PSG his priority. The veteran has also been linked with United, Manchester City and Chelsea.

Tottenham are interested in Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde as they edge closer to appointing former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo, says Romano and Gianluca Di Marzio. Kounde is one of the most sought-after defenders in Europe, linked with Chelsea, United and Madrid.

- Mundo Deportivo reports Barca are eyeing Valencia captain Jose Gaya and Chelsea's Marcos Alonso if Inter target Jordi Alba leaves and Junior Firpo joins Milan.

Lazio head coach Maurizio Sarri wants to reunite with Arthur in Rome and could send Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to Juventus, per Il Bianconero.

- Alfredo Pedulla claims PSG are leading the race to sign Lazio star Joaquin Correa. Arsenal and Tottenham are also eyeing the forward.

Austria star Marko Arnautovic said Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are not from this world and are on this planet to "take all the trophies with them".

Ronaldo and Messi are regarded as two of the greatest footballers of all-time following their exploits for club and country.

Portugal and Juventus superstar Ronaldo – a five-time Ballon d'Or winner with 32 major trophies – matched Ali Daei's international men's record for most goals (109) following his two-goal haul in the 2-2 draw with France at Euro 2020.

Record six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi has won a club-record 34 trophies at Barcelona, while he equalled Javier Mascherano for the most Argentina appearances in their 1-0 Copa America victory over Paraguay.

As Austria prepare for Saturday's Euro 2020 last-16 showdown against Italy, Arnautovic hailed Ronaldo and Messi.

"When you mention [Cristiano Ronaldo's] name, we aren't talking about a human being," Arnautovic said. "That’s it. What am I supposed to say about it?

"There are two players who are not from this world. They are from far away and just came here for a while to succeed in every league and take all the trophies with them. And then they are leaving again.

"Those are Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi."

This will be Austria's first ever appearance in the knockout stages of the European Championship, and their first in the knockout stage of any major tournament since the 1954 World Cup, when they reached the semi-final.

Austria have lost four of their six games in London in all competitions (W1 D1), with this their first visit to the English capital since a 7-0 friendly defeat in September 1973 (against England).

The nation's only previous game in London which was not against England came in the 1948 Olympic games, a 3-0 loss to Sweden.

David Alaba created nine chances in the group stages, at least four more than any other Austria player. Four of these came in Austria's 1-0 win against Ukraine last time out.

Kylian Mbappe has long been linked with a blockbuster move to Real Madrid.

Mbappe is out of contract at the end of next season and is yet to re-sign in Paris.

Madrid are reportedly preparing their next steps in an attempt to recruit the France international.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID STEPPING UP MBAPPE INTEREST

Real Madrid are hoping to sign Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe after Euro 2020, according to the front page of Friday's Marca.

Marca detail Madrid's timetable to prise Mbappe from PSG in the report, with Los Blancos focusing on a post-European Championship transfer.

Mbappe – also linked with Liverpool – is out of contract at the end of the 2021-22 season.

 

ROUND-UP

Cristiano Ronaldo's future remains undecided and it is blocking Juventus' plans in the transfer market, according to Tuttosport and Corriere dello Sport. Ronaldo has been linked with PSG and Manchester United as Juve eye Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli.

- The Sun claims Jack Grealish's agent expects the Aston Villa captain to join Premier League champions Manchester City. The England international has previously been linked with United, who are believed to be closing in on a deal to sign Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho.

Arsenal are nearing a deal to sign Brighton and Hove Albion defender Ben White, reports Goal. Brighton are demanding around £50million for the England international, who has also reportedly attracted interest from United and Liverpool.

- Sampdoria midfielder Mikkel Damsgaard is wanted by Barcelona, Milan and Tottenham, says Marca and Sport.

Milan and Inter are both looking to sign Barca goalkeeper Neto, according to Sport. Neto has served as a backup to Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

- Tuttosport reports Inter have opened negotiations with Sassuolo for Giacomo Raspadori, while the Serie A champions are also interested in Lazio's Manuel Lazzari.

Barcelona sent birthday greetings to Lionel Messi as the club captain turned 34 on Thursday – at a time when his future remains unresolved.

The man who holds a near clean sweep of individual club records has yet to sign a new contract, with his deal due to expire at the end of June.

There was customary warmth towards Messi in the social media posts by Barcelona, who showcased a reel of his 10 best goals, and now they must hope he has more birthdays to come while serving at Camp Nou.

Messi, whose career has been a one-club odyssey, is currently on Copa America duty in Brazil with the Argentina national team.

He is Barcelona's record goalscorer and has made more appearances for the club than any other player, also winning an unsurpassed six Ballon d'Or trophies while with the Catalan giants.

Messi sensationally sought to leave Barcelona last year, looking to exercise a clause in his contract that he believed allowed him to depart at the end of the season.

The club disputed his right to go and, faced with the prospect of a legal battle to try to free himself from his deal, Messi rowed back on that intention, committing to another term with the Blaugrana.

He finished as top scorer in LaLiga with 30 goals – seven more than any other player – and helped Barcelona win the Copa del Rey under new boss Ronald Koeman.

Those goals came at a rate of one every 100.77 minutes, with Messi surpassing his expected goals (xG) total of 23.79 comfortably.

However, Barcelona had started the season dreadfully and, despite picking up form in the new year, another dip came in the closing weeks of the campaign as a promising title challenge collapsed.

That allowed Atletico Madrid to capture the LaLiga trophy, with Real Madrid runners-up and Barcelona third.

The financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis has hit Barcelona hard and the contract offer tabled to Messi is reportedly not at the same level as his soon-to-expire deal.

The election of Joan Laporta as club president appears to have been taken as a positive step forward by Messi, who was scathing at times in his criticism of the previous regime, headed up by Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Barcelona have signed the likes of Eric Garcia, Memphis Depay and Messi's great friend Sergio Aguero to reinforce their side for next season.

Clearly, the club are building in the anticipation Messi will commit, rather than be tempted by the likes of past suitors Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.

"He wants to stay," said Laporta recently, speaking at the presentation of a TV3 documentary about Messi.

"I do not contemplate a no. But it isn't easy. We'll do what we can."

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