Ronald Koeman has hit back at Rudi Garcia after the Lyon head coach accused his Barcelona counterpart of being a hypocrite.

Barca boss Koeman last week admitted to being unhappy with "disrespectful" Paris Saint-Germain after a number of their players and staff members discussed transfer links with Lionel Messi.

However, speaking to beIN SPORTS at the weekend, Garcia pointed out that Koeman publicly stated earlier this season that he wants to bring Memphis Depay to Camp Nou once his Lyon contract expires at the end of the season.

"I read that Koeman was a bit offended that PSG talked about Leo Messi before the Champions League match between PSG and Barcelona," Garcia said. 

"He was not shy about talking about Memphis Depay even after the transfer market. It is called the water sprinkler and the sprinkler has been sprinkled."

Koeman, who is preparing his side for Wednesday's Copa del Rey semi-final first leg with Sevilla, responded to Garcia's comments at a news conference on Tuesday.

"The Lyon coach likes to speak to the press a lot. For me he is not an important man," the former Netherlands boss said.

"For me I just have to prepare for the next games and then we will see."

Messi is into the final four months of his Barcelona contract and has been strongly linked with a high-profile switch to PSG at the end of the season.

Speculation over Messi's future rumbles on, as does the discussion over whether the six-time Ballon d'Or winner can be considered the greatest sportsman of all time.

The debate reopened on Sunday after Tom Brady won his seventh NFL championship ring by helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Asked where Messi ranks on the list of the world's all-time great athletes, Koeman said: "It is always difficult because there are different periods to consider.

"But what Messi has done is something incredible - the number of goals and titles with Barca. I did not see the Super Bowl but Messi is the best in the world at what he does.

"It is difficult to compare him with [Johan] Cruyff and Pele, but what I have seen of Messi is something special."

Messi is expected to return to Koeman's starting line-up for the trip to the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, with Barcelona aiming to extend their six-game winning run in all competitions.

Koeman has a tough selection call to make at the other end of the field, however, as Ronald Araujo has joined fellow centre-back Gerard Pique and right-back Sergino Dest on the sidelines.

Frenkie de Jong filled in alongside Clement Lenglet after Araujo limped off in the 3-2 win over Real Betis, but Koeman is still undecided on who will start at the back against Sevilla.


"It is true that if we put Frenkie as a centre-back then we are missing something in the centre of the pitch," he said. 

"If we can choose a recognised centre-back, it is better to play with him there. Without Frenkie in the middle, we lose something."

Oscar Mingueza can potentially shift into the middle, though that leaves a gap at right-back, while Samuel Umtiti is also in the squad but has struggled for fitness.

"Oscar is with us and he has improved a lot," Koeman said. "He has taken the opportunity to be with us. He knows how to play in different positions and has grown thanks to the help of his team-mates. 

"I have no fear of putting a young man into the side. He has taken the opportunity with both hands. You must improve when you have to press. He has room for improvement, but he is doing things very well.

"As for Samuel, physically he is fine at the moment. He's on the squad list and we have the option to play him. If not, we would not name him in the squad. 

"With his history, we are always aware of his physical condition. We are still thinking about his condition but in the many games he has played he has shown his quality."

Barca are in good form but Sevilla are on an even better run, winning each of their last seven matches in all competitions ahead of Wednesday's first leg.

"They have a good team, are very organised and have good individual quality," Koeman said. "That is why they are up there.

"We will have to be good with the ball because they are going to put pressure on us. But if we are at our top level, we can hurt even a team like Sevilla."

Ander Herrera does not believe it is possible for Paris Saint-Germain to add Lionel Messi to an all-star attack that already includes Neymar and Kylian Mbappe due to Financial Fair Play reasons.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi is out of contract with Barcelona at the end of the season and has been strongly linked with French champions PSG and Premier League leaders Manchester City.

PSG already have superstar forwards Neymar and Mbappe on their books, with the Ligue 1 giants in talks over extending both players' lucrative contracts beyond the end of the 2021-22 season.

However, as rumours persist over a possible end-of-season switch to the Parc des Princes for Messi, who saw details of his five-year contract made public last week, Herrera has cast doubt over whether a move is feasible for his side.

"Messi, Neymar and Mbappe together? I don't know how that would work with Financial Fair Play, but I don't think so," he told El Larguero. 

Former Manchester United midfielder Herrera was unwilling to discuss the transfer rumours in any further detail, though, out of respect for Barcelona.

"I'm not going to get into this one," he said. "When everyone at Barca was talking about Neymar, inside and outside the club, we did not like it.

"I'm not going to do something that I don't like being done to me. I have a lot of respect for Barca, Messi, his coach and his team-mates.

"It is not a strategy. Me, I will not speak about him. I respect those who do it, but I put myself in the shoes of the club in which Messi has evolved."

Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman last week accused PSG of being "disrespectful" for continuing to discuss Messi in public after Angel Di Maria encouraged talk of a high-profile transfer going through.

Herrera added: "If I were I at Barca, I would not like people talking about Messi. It does not seem to me to be a lack of respect, but I will not do it."

Brisbane Roar missed out on regaining top spot in the A-League as their four-game winning streak was brought to an end with a 2-0 loss against Macarthur at the Dolphin Stadium.

Warren Moon's side, leapfrogged at the summit by Central Coast Mariners at the weekend, were seeking a club-record equalling fifth consecutive victory in the league.

But Macarthur took all three points on their first interstate trip thanks to goals from Denis Genreau and substitute Matt Derbyshire's superb long-range strike in the final 14 minutes of the game.

The contest opened up in the second half and Genreau made the breakthrough with an excellent first-time finish away from Jamie Young to get off the mark with his first A-League goal.

The Roar had earlier hit the post through Dylan Wenzel-Halls but struggled to carve out chances and conceded a second late on through Derbyshire, who spotted Young off his line and found the net from 50 yards to seal a huge win for third-place Macarthur.

William Saliba has cast further doubt on his time at Arsenal by claiming he was judged by manager Mikel Arteta after just two-and-a-half matches before being loaned to Nice.

The 19-year-old joined Arsenal from Saint-Etienne in July 2019 for a reported £27million (€29.7m) fee and remained with the Ligue 1 side for the 2019-20 season.

He returned to Emirates Stadium ahead of this season but was surprisingly left out of Arsenal's Europa League squad and did not make a single appearance in other competitions.

Saliba departed for Nice on loan last month for the remainder of the campaign and last week admitted to being "hurt" over his lack of playing time with Arsenal.

And the centre-back, who was brought to north London during Unai Emery's time in charge, has now taken another apparent swipe at Arteta.

"It is clear that so much has changed in the last year," Saliba told RMC. "When I saw that the coach changed, a lot changed for me too. In this year there has been a lot of change. He judged me on two-and-a-half matches. 

"I would have liked for him to play me more. But he told me I wasn't ready. I was waiting for him to give me a chance, but football is like that. 

"When I initially came to Arsenal the league looked very good so I showed up to training and wanted to train on my own to show the coach I was ready.

"I am happy now, I want to play for Nice. The idea when you're part of a team is a better feeling for me."

Saliba has impressed during his short time back in France and was last week named Nice's Player of the Month for January.

The France Under-20s international has started seven Ligue 1 games since joining last month, including the full 90 minutes of Sunday's 3-0 win over Angers.

He led the way for Nice in that game for total passes (64), successful passes (58) and touches (82), while no player on the pitch cleared the ball more often (eight times).

Indeed, since making his Nice debut on January 6, only Jose Fonte (439), Steven Nzonzi (472), Sven Botman (487) and Marco Verratti (489) have completed more Ligue 1 passes than Saliba's 437.

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are still eyeing Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

Unsurprisingly, Messi's future remains a talking point with his contract with the LaLiga giants expiring at the end of the season.

And the two clubs most strongly linked with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner remain interested.

 

TOP STORY – PSG, MAN CITY STILL EYEING MESSI

Paris Saint-Germain are quietly continuing their push to sign Barcelona star Lionel   Messi , according to France Football.

The Ligue 1 giants have angered Barca boss Ronald Koeman as those connected with PSG have regularly discussed Messi.

ESPN says Manchester City are also still tracking Messi, but will wait until March or April before making more of a move.

ROUND-UP

- Out of contract at Real Madrid in 2022, Raphael Varane 's future is unclear. Marca reports the LaLiga giants suspect the defender will not renew and they could sell him for €50million at the end of this season as a result, with PSG and Manchester United interested.

- Madrid are favourites to land Bayern Munich star David Alaba . The Telegraph reports Alaba's wage demands, believed to be around £20m per year, are too high for Chelsea . Alaba is set to leave the Bundesliga giants when his contract expires at the end of the season.

- United 's sights may be elsewhere. The Independent claims RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate is their main centre-back target ahead of 2021-22. Konate has also been linked to Liverpool and Chelsea .

- Arsenal want a young left-back to learn from Kieran Tierney, according to The Athletic.

Real Madrid star Eden Hazard said he wants to keep playing for at least another five of six years as the upbeat attacker insisted injuries are "not the end of the world" amid fitness issues at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Hazard swapped Chelsea for Madrid in a reported €100million deal in 2019 but his time in the Spanish capital has been plagued by injuries.

The 30-year-old, who is set to miss "two or three weeks" due to a damaged rectus femoris muscle in his left leg, has only started 20 games in LaLiga – six of those coming this season, and scored just three goals.

Hazard has failed to complete a full 90 minutes in any match for Madrid in 2020-21 across all competitions, but the Belgium international remains positive.

"I'm just hoping to play football for as long as possible, and I always try to enjoy myself on the pitch," he told On The Front Foot.

"When it comes to the end of my career I can look back at my achievements, but my priority now is playing well and enjoying my football. 

"I don't think about where I will be in the next few years, I try to focus on the next match and the next training session.

"I've only just turned 30 so as long as my body feels good, hopefully I can keep playing for at least another five or six years."

"I'm lucky that when I'm injured and stuck at home, I have my family to get me through," Hazard added.

"It's not the end of the world for me because I can spend time with my kids, when you're alone and injured it can be tough but I'm lucky that I have my family to support me.

"When you're injured there's only so much you can do, you can work to get better faster but the injuries I have had just take time to heal. I just have to wait, work hard to get better and when I'm at home I can enjoy the time with my family."

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti said he is excited about the prospect of playing alongside Lionel Messi at the Ligue 1 champions.

Barcelona superstar Messi is out of contract at season's end and the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been heavily linked with PSG and Premier League giants Manchester City.

As Messi's future dominates headlines, PSG star Verratti discussed his possible arrival in Paris.

"Of course, I would like to play with Messi," Italy international Verratti told Canal+.

"To have him in the squad would be something magnificent, one more thing that football would give to me.

"I would give the ball to Neymar and Messi and stay behind to just [enjoy] watching them a bit."

PSG and Barcelona will meet in the Champions League last 16, with the first leg taking place at Camp Nou on February 16.

It will be a reunion for former Barca star Neymar, who has scored six goals in 11 Ligue 1 matches this season.

Neymar - who left Barca in a world-record €222million deal in 2017 - has scored 13 goals across all competitions.

"We are not stupid, we know that he is the best player and our role is to put him in the best possible condition," Verratti said. 

"He knows that when I have the ball, I'm looking for him. He always makes movements to receive the ball well."

Mauricio Pochettino's PSG are third in Ligue 1 after 24 rounds, three points adrift of leaders Lille following Sunday's 2-0 Classique victory against Marseille.

PSG face Caen in the Coupe de France on Wednesday before welcoming Nice to the French capital in Ligue 1 action on Saturday.

Milan technical director Paolo Maldini suggested Zlatan Ibrahimovic is in line to extend his contract with the Serie A leaders.

Ibrahimovic has been a revelation since returning to Milan for a second spell in January last year, the evergreen 39-year-old spearheading the club's Scudetto charge this term.

The star forward passed 500 club goals in Milan's 4-0 Serie A rout of Crotone, increasing his tally to 501 with his sixth league brace of the season on Sunday.

Ibrahimovic is one of the two players, alongside Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, to have scored the most braces in the top five European leagues in 2020-21, while the former Sweden international has netted 14 Serie A goals in 11 appearances this season - 16 across all competitions.

Out of contract at season's end, Maldini was asked about Ibrahimovic's future as Milan also look to re-sign stars Gianluigi Donnarumma and Hakan Calhanoglu.

"We are one of the youngest teams in Europe and we need a leader like Ibrahimovic," Maldini told BeIN Sports.

"We tried to sign him in 2018 when he was playing for LA Galaxy.

"He's told us that the contract extension depends on his body, but if he carries on like this, I don't see why he shouldn't be continuing.

"We have three players with expiring contracts in 2022, we are working. There must be to parties happy to continue together, footballers are professional who only think about the pitch, we hope we are going to reach agreements soon."

Milan are two points clear of city rivals Inter atop the table as they prepare to visit Spezia on Saturday.

Diego Simeone insists there are plenty of positives to take from Monday's 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo despite the disappointment of conceding an 89th-minute equaliser. 

Los Rojiblancos looked set to restore their 10-point lead over Barcelona and Real Madrid at LaLiga's summit after a Luis Suarez brace overturned Santi Mina's opener for Celta. 

They were denied a ninth consecutive top-flight win, however, when substitute Facundo Ferreyra - making his debut after joining from Benfica on transfer deadline day - bundled home from close range late on. 

Despite that late blow, Atleti still have an eight-point lead at the top of the table and boast a game in hand on their rivals.

They are unbeaten in 22 home league games - their best run in the competition since a 22-match streak between September 2015 and October 2016 - while their tally of 51 points after 20 games is their best at this stage of the season since they last won the league in 2013-14.

Simeone refused to be too harsh on his side after Ferreyra's late leveller and felt there were plenty of plus points to take into next weekend's game at Granada.

"It is normal that during the season, with the number of games there are, things will happen like this," he told a news conference.

"Today, we continue on our way, match by match, and I am left with many positive things that were taken from negative things. 

"Some players came in, took their opportunity, and played very good games, such as [Renan] Lodi, [Geoffrey] Kondogbia and [Lucas] Torreira. Those are important things for the future.

"It was a difficult start for us. They played well. I think there were not many chances in the first half for anyone, but they did feel more comfortable with possession. 

"In the second half we improved with the change of system to have one more in the middle and take one from behind. Kondogbia and Torreira managed to press higher."

Suarez's latest double took his tally to 16 goals in his first 17 league games for Atleti, overtaking Cristiano Ronaldo as the fastest player to reach 16 goals for the same club in the competition in the 21st century.

Those goals have secured 12 points for Atleti this season - more than any other player in the league. 

Simeone knew exactly what he was getting when he signed Suarez from Barcelona ahead of the 2020-21 season and the Atleti boss says his side tries to play to the Uruguay international's strengths.

"It [Suarez's record] speaks for itself," he added. "He always scored goals, it's not just now that he does. 

"We try to enhance everything he brought and bring him closer to the area. Let's all hope we continue growing as a team."

Hansi Flick believes success in the Club World Cup will be "very special" as he closes in on a sixth trophy in just 68 matches as Bayern Munich coach.

Bayern comfortably dealt with CAF Champions League winners Al Ahly in their semi-final on Monday, with Robert Lewandowski getting both goals in a 2-0 win.

The Polish striker, who moved to 29 goals for the season with that brace, made it 1-0 in the 17th minute and eventually put the game beyond Al Ahly in the latter stages, though the Egyptian champions rarely looked a threat to Die Roten.

In Thursday's final Bayern will face Tigres, who defeated Copa Libertadores winners Palmeiras 1-0 on Sunday to become the first CONCACAF side to reach the final of the Club World Cup.

French striker Andre-Pierre Gignac got the winner from the spot against Palmeiras, his sixth successive goal-scoring appearance, and Bayern know they cannot afford to be complacent.

"I watched their semi-final, Tigres are a very dynamic team, very athletic, with a lot of power. We have to counter that well in the final," Flick said when asked about Ricardo Ferretti's team.

"If we win the final on Thursday, the team will have finished an outstanding season with a sixth title.

"That would be a very special success in the successful history of FC Bayern. We now have to collect ourselves as quickly as possible and recover quickly in order to be able to be again at 100 per cent on Thursday."

Thomas Muller echoed the sentiment of his coach, reminding the rest of the Bayern team that their mission still needs to be accomplished.

"We are happy that we did not miss anything and have achieved our [first] goal," he added. "Now we have the chance that we really wanted to work for: winning the Club World Cup."

Bayern won the competition in their only previous participation in 2013.

That was the beginning of streak of European dominance in the Club World Cup, with all six iterations since then won by teams from the continent.

Chelsea were the last European side to lose out in the Club World Cup in 2012, as they were defeated 1-0 by Corinthians in the final.

Atletico Madrid were denied the opportunity to restore their 10-point lead at the LaLiga summit after Facundo Ferreyra's 89th-minute equaliser sealed an unlikely 2-2 draw for Celta Vigo on Monday. 

Wins for Real Madrid and Barcelona over the weekend put the pressure on Diego Simeone's men, who lost Thomas Lemar and Hector Herrera shortly before kick-off after positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed.

They started poorly at the Wanda Metropolitano and slipped behind to Santi Mina's third top-flight goal of the season, but Luis Suarez levelled matters in the 45th minute with a simple finish at the back post. 

The former Barcelona striker repeated the trick five minutes after the interval, but Los Rojiblancos were denied a ninth consecutive top-flight win when Ferreyra - a debutant from the bench - scrambled in from close range late on.

 

Bayern Munich secured their place in the Club World Cup final thanks to a straightforward 2-0 win over Al Ahly, with Robert Lewandowski getting both goals.

The German and European champions were not at their spectacular best but looked comfortable throughout, doing enough to earn a shot at lifting the trophy for a second time.

Bayern dominated the first half almost from start to finish but could only take a 1-0 lead into the break, Lewandowski getting his 28th goal of the season, and Al Ahly appeared encouraged after half-time.

However, the Egyptians did not have the quality to cause Bayern any sustained worries and Lewandowski sealed the win late on, with Hansi Flick taking his team to another final as he looks to make it six titles won in just 68 matches at the helm when they meet Tigres of Mexico in the showpiece.

It did not take Bayern long to establish control, as Serge Gnabry received Kinglsey Coman's cross and showed great awareness to calmly tee up Lewandowski for a simple finish in the 17th minute.

Further Bayern chances came thick and fast for the remainder of the first half, but the Germans were wasteful – Marc Roca shot wide and then also straight at Mohamed El-Shenawy in a two-minute spell, before Alphonso Davies dragged a right-footed effort past the left-hand post just before the break.

But Lewandowski was the surprising culprit a few moments prior to Davies' chance, as the Best FIFA Men's Player award winner lifted a chipped effort over the goal from inside the box after a clever release from Joshua Kimmich.

Ah Ahly looked a little more dangerous during the early stages of the second half, though Bayern were still unfortunate not to increase their lead when Thomas Muller agonisingly failed to reach David Alaba's across-goal header.

Bayern began to up the pressure again towards the end, with Ayman Ashraf almost slicing a cross into his own net, before Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting headed at El-Shenawy and Corentin Tolisso shot just over from distance.

Although an equaliser looked unlikely, Bayern made sure of the win five minutes from time as Leroy Sane dug out a cross from the right and Lewandowski was on hand for the simplest of headers.
 

 

Inter need to be as close to perfect as possible if they are to overcome Juventus in their Coppa Italia semi-final on Tuesday, says Antonio Conte.

Juve won the first leg at San Siro last week 2-1, with a double from Cristiano Ronaldo overturning Lautaro Martinez's opener.

Inter bounced back with a 2-0 win at Fiorentina on Friday and need a victory at Allianz Stadium on Tuesday if they are to make the Coppa final for the first time in 10 years.

However, the Nerazzurri have not been victorious away at Juve since a 3-1 triumph in November 2012, while the Bianconeri are unbeaten at home in the Coppa since a 2-1 loss to Fiorentina in March 2015.

Inter beat Juve 2-0 at San Siro in Serie A in January and Conte knows it will be a tall order for them to repeat the trick against his former club.

"We need to go out and play the game with desire and determination like we have shown in the previous two games," Conte told Rai Sport.

"We need to be braver, to build on what happened in the last game and try to be perfect because to beat Juventus you must play a game that borders on perfection.

"Regardless of victory, whoever wears this shirt has an obligation to make our fans proud, this must always be our mission.

"The best way to give the players the conviction to win the game and try to get through the round is through hard work, and preparing for the match in the right way, as we have done."

Andrea Pirlo will work to make sure Juventus do not think the job is already done ahead of their Coppa Italia semi-final second leg against Inter, a tie he says they must negotiate "at all costs".

The Bianconeri returned to Turin with a 2-1 lead after Cristiano Ronaldo's brace at San Siro last week turned the first leg on its head following Lautaro Martinez's opener.

Juve are going for a 10th successive Serie A title this season, but the Coppa has not treated Italy's dominant club quite so well of late.

They lost last season's final under Maurizio Sarri and have won the competition just four times in 26 years, those triumphs coming in four straight campaigns from 2014-15.

Pirlo is making no secret of his desire to deliver success and wants Juve to maintain their recent form, a run of six wins in which they have conceded only once and won the Supercoppa Italiana.

"The team will have to play for Juventus as we have been doing in the last few games," Pirlo told Juventus TV.

"It is the second leg of a great challenge that will give us the opportunity to go to the final, a goal that we must achieve at all costs.

"It will be a tough and difficult match, a battle; however, we are ready to face it in the best possible way.

"We have to start with the attitude of being equal, we start from 0-0. We cannot remain stuck on the result of the first leg, because everything has been reset.

"It is as if it were a final, so we must have the attitude of an aggressive team who know what they want. We have to be pretty focused because this is too important to let it get away."

Juve lost 2-0 at Inter in the league immediately before this winning run and have also suffered humbling defeats to Barcelona and Fiorentina this season.

But Pirlo feels those setbacks have only made his team stronger, explaining: "The mental aspect [is better].

"We are very positive and we believe in what we do, and this is a good starting point. We have very specific goals in mind that we want to achieve and we work on this.

"The defeats have convinced us that we can do many things. We have great quality within the whole group. We have 23 starters who can play any game and we are working on this."

Thomas Lemar and Hector Herrera are the latest Atletico Madrid players to test positive for coronavirus.

Atletico confirmed last week that Joao Felix and new signing Moussa Dembele returned positive test results in consecutive days, ruling them out of Monday's LaLiga visit of Celta Vigo.

Now their midfield and attacking options have been further depleted, with Herrera and Lemar immediately beginning periods of isolation.

A club statement read: "Our players Hector Herrera and Thomas Lemar underwent antigen tests prior to the match against Celta Vigo according to the LaLiga protocol, giving a positive result for COVID-19, which was later confirmed with the relevant tests PCR.

"Both players remain isolated in their respective homes, strictly complying with the recommendations of the health authorities and LaLiga protocol."

Atletico did not provide any further information regarding their respective conditions.

Lemar and Herrera could miss as many as three games, with Atletico facing Celta, Granada and Levante in the next 10 days.

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