So now we know: Lionel Messi is leaving Barcelona.

Having pushed hard to force through an exit a year ago, the Argentina superstar appeared set to commit his long-term future to the Spanish club by signing a new deal this offseason.

However, his Camp Nou days now appear over due to "economic and structural obstacles", despite reportedly agreeing to take a 50 per cent wage reduction. Put simply, the dire financial situation means Barca cannot keep their prized asset.

Unless there is another dramatic twist to the saga (and we definitely should not rule that out just yet), Messi must find a new home.

So where could the six-time Ballon d'Or winner end up? The list of options appears to be short, albeit varied.

Hello, Paris!

Paris Saint-Germain are the early front-runners in this unexpected race, and rightly so. Thanks to owners Qatar Sports Investments, the Ligue 1 side have the financial backing to make Messi a tempting offer, plus they would give him a chance of Champions League glory once again – they were beaten finalists in 2020, then knocked out in the last four the following season.

Compatriot Mauricio Pochettino is there, as too are international team-mates Leandro Paredes and Angel Di Maria. When you add in another familiar face in former Barca colleague Neymar, it suddenly seems like a cosy, obvious fit. Such a signing could also help sway Kylian Mbappe to sign a new contract, or at least make it far more palatable to consider cashing in on the Frenchman before his deal runs out.

The Pep reunion tour

A year ago, when Messi made us look up exactly what a burofax is, Manchester City appeared the likely landing spot. A once rock-solid relationship with Barca appeared in tatters, amid disgruntlement over what was happening both on and off the pitch. Moving to England would have finally answered the old line of, 'Yeah, but can he do it on a wet Tuesday in [insert team here]?', as well as reuniting him with Pep Guardiola, the coach who twice steered Barca to Champions League glory.

However, City have seemingly moved on since missing out on Messi. Not so long after Barca's statement was released, the Premier League champions confirmed the signing of Jack Grealish for £100million. Harry Kane has also been heavily linked with them, and the England captain will not come cheap (certainly if Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has anything to do with it). Even with City, there is a limit to how much you can spend.

Made in Chelsea

So how about Messi moves to the Premier League anyway, but just not to the club where everyone once expected? Chelsea have not been mentioned too much as a possible destination, either last year or now, but they have the resources and are seemingly keen to add to their attacking options, considering rumours of moves for Erling Haaland and, more recently, Romelu Lukaku. Unlike that duo, Messi is unattached and available for nothing (in terms of a transfer fee at least).

However, those links to central strikers suggest head coach Thomas Tuchel and the Chelsea hierarchy have a certain idea of what they want to add to the squad – and it may not be a 34-year-old who would require a rethink over the entire structure of the team. While Messi would no doubt enhance the Blues, west London appears unlikely to be welcoming him into the neighbourhood.

ML-YES!

Could Messi be set to take the well-trodden path from Europe to the United States? MLS has appeared a viable option for him at some stage in his playing days – he even said so himself in an interview with La Sexta in December 2020: "I would like to play in the United States someday, it's always been one of my dreams... but I don't know if it will happen!" Well, that dream could now become a reality, with the competition having a history of attracting big names in the twilight stages of their careers.

David Beckham did just that, and now he is heavily involved with Inter Miami – perhaps the leading MLS option for Messi. New York and Los Angeles could factor into consideration, with the chance for a global superstar to take the plunge in a major market. In truth, though, it seems this idea could come to fruition further down the line, rather than in the coming weeks.

No place like home…

While he has been at Barcelona since his teenage years, coming through the famous La Masia youth academy, Messi started out with Newell's Old Boys in Argentina. A move back to his hometown of Rosario would be a wonderful way to bookend his illustrious playing days. However, having scored 30 goals in 35 LaLiga games last term, he shows no signs of his ridiculously lofty standards slipping just yet.

Diego Maradona did have a brief stint there, with Messi revealing a Newell's number 10 shirt after scoring against Osasuna to pay tribute to the Argentina legend, who died in November 2020. Still, after finally securing a first international trophy with the national team, winning this year's Copa America on Brazilian soil, a return to his roots appears unlikely.

Where will Lionel Messi land?

Barcelona's shock announcement of his departure set rumours flying.

Will it be Paris, Manchester or somewhere else?

 

TOP STORY - MESSI ON THE MARKET

Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are rumoured to be the top suitors for Lionel Messi.

The French giants have already made contact with Messi's representatives, according to Fabrizio Romano, and are seen in many quarters as the favourites to land the Argentine forward.

It remains to be seen wherher PSG can take on Messi after making several major moves during the transfer window, while City may be in a similarly difficult situation after finalising their £100million deal for Jack Grealish on Thursday.

A reunion with Pep Guardiola may still be a possibility, though, especially if Tottenham refuse to engage in talks around a Harry Kane deal.

Major League Soccer could also be a possibility, though Messi is expected to remain in Europe for at least a few more years.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United have not given up on a move for Kieran Trippier, though they have not come close to Atletico Madrid's £34million demands for the England international, The Sun says.

- West Ham are in talks with Fiorentina for centre-back Nikola Milenkovic, Fabrizio Romano reports, with the Serie A side eyeing Matija Nastasic of Schalke as a replacement.

- Arsenal have bid £17m for Lazio striker Joaquin Correa, claims Corriere dello Sport.

- Juventus are interested in bringing back Barcelona's Miralem Pjanic on either a loan or a permanent deal, says Calciomercato.

- Roma are lining up a £21m bid for Fulham midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, says Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Crystal Palace are among multiple clubs hoping to lure Adam Armstrong from Blackburn, with the Daily Mail saying they are favoured ahead of Norwich City and Southampton.

Lionel Messi and Barcelona are going their separate ways, and shock at the announcement was splashed across the front pages of Friday's newspapers.

The record goalscorer in LaLiga history, who has made more appearances for Barcelona than any other player in the club's history, is seemingly now on the lookout for a new team.

According to Barcelona, both they and Messi wanted to renew the Argentine forward's contract, but salary-cap limitations have apparently prevented them from doing that.

In an effort to comply with financial fair play regulations, Barcelona were left with little option but to release their captain and driving force.

The sport newspapers that have chronicled Messi's dizzying feats with the Catalan giants expressed astonishment.

Marca, the Madrid-based daily, led with a headline of "Barca let Messi escape", with a subheading stating they have lost "the greatest player in their history".

"Bombshell! Messi is leaving!" was the headline in Mundo Deportivo, with the newspaper declaring Paris Saint-Germain to be front-runners in any battle to secure the services of the 34-year-old.

Its front-page picture depicts Messi on the Camp Nou pitch, seemingly poised to deliver a free-kick for the Blaugrana, which is a sight that may never be witnessed again.

AS published a front-page portrait shot of Messi, staring at the camera, with the headline of "He's not staying". The front page adds: "Barca announce that Messi won't renew and blame LaLiga."

Barcelona's announcement on Thursday evening spoke of "financial and structural obstacles" preventing the club and player extending their partnership. Messi made his first-team debut at the age of 17 and has won six Ballon d'Or trophies while at the club, helping Barcelona to win 10 LaLiga titles and the Champions League four times.

Sport's headline of simply "Drama. Messi is leaving" was published with a sombre black background and a shot of a pensive Messi.

El Periodico de Catalunya also elected for a largely black background and the headline of "Incredible".

It pictured Messi with a ball at his feet, and his back to the camera, a mournful allusion to him walking away from the only club of his professional career.

The newspaper added on its front page: "Barca surprisingly announce that Messi is going and blames LaLiga for his exit."

Another Catalan newspaper, ARA, also pictured Messi with his back to the camera, the newspaper choosing a shot of the forward with his head bowed.

"Barca can't renew Messi" read its headline.

The newspaper added: "The club blames the league for hindering the continuity of the striker."

Real Madrid and Barcelona have each released scathing critiques of LaLiga after it confirmed a €2.7billion (£2.3bn) deal with CVC Capital Partners, which will see the private equity firm acquire 10 per cent of the league's commercial business.

LaLiga announced on Wednesday that CVC will have a 10 per cent stake in a new business, which is being formed with a focus on the league's commercial ventures. It insisted the agreement does not cover league management or broadcast rights.

The deal will value LaLiga at €24.3bn, with the agreement approved unanimously by the LaLiga Executive Committee and set to be proposed to the league's general assembly.

LaLiga, which controls the top two divisions in Spanish football, said 90 per cent of CVC's €2.7bn investment would be earmarked for its clubs.

However, both Madrid and Barca expressed their disapproval in statements, claiming the clubs were not properly consulted over the deal.

The Clasico giants allege the agreement affects all clubs' audiovisual rights for the next 50 years.

Madrid's statement read, in part: "The clubs have signed over their audiovisual rights exclusively for their sale on a competitive basis for a period of three years.

"This agreement, by way of a misleading structure, expropriates 10.95% of the clubs' audiovisual rights for the next 50 years, in breach of the law."

Barca, who announced on Wednesday that Lionel Messi would not be signing a new contract due to "economic and structural obstacles" wrote: "FC Barcelona feels it is inappropriate to sign a half-century agreement given the uncertainties that always surround the football world.

"The terms of the contract that LaLiga is describing condemn FC Barcelona's future with regard to broadcasting rights.

"FC Barcelona wishes to express its surprise at an agreement driven by LaLiga in which the teams' opinions, including those of FC Barcelona, have not been taken into account. There has not even been a presentation of options offered by other competitors in order to evaluate the pros and cons in a post-pandemic situation in which there are still many questions that are left unanswered."

Madrid concluded: "Real Madrid cannot support a venture which hands the future of 42 Primera and Segunda Division clubs over to a group of investors, not to mention the futures of those clubs who qualify over the next 50 years.

"Real Madrid will convene the Assembly of Representative Members to debate the agreement and discuss the significant loss of equity, unprecedented in our 119-year history."

Lionel Messi is leaving Barcelona after failing to come to agreement on a deal that would fit within LaLiga's salary restrictions.

Although a new contract was expected, with the Blaugrana captain a free agent since the end of last season, he is now departing his only club.

It means Messi will not add to a remarkable haul of 672 goals in all competitions as a Barca player.

Of course, the 34-year-old is not only a great goalscorer but a scorer of great goals, meaning Stats Perform had quite the selection to choose from when picking out a chronological top 10 from his Barca collection.

Albacete (H): May 1, 2005

Even at 17, Messi had the confidence of a veteran. Having already seen one goal wrongly ruled out for offside – an audacious chip from the edge of the box – Messi's confidence was far from knocked and just a minute later he latched onto Ronaldinho's scooped pass before lobbing the ball over Albacete goalkeeper Raul Valbuena from 16 yards. Some way to open your account for one of Europe's great clubs.

Malaga (H): March 22, 2009

Thierry Henry's favourite goal by Messi during their time playing together for Barca. Why not let the France great take up the story? "It defied logic what he did," Henry said in the 'Take the Ball, Pass the Ball' documentary. "There's a diagonal ball and he controls it on his chest. He runs full speed, then the first player goes and the second player is just behind. If he takes another step, that player will clear the ball." A shimmy of the body and deft touch later – in the blink of an eye – Messi stabbed into the top corner to conclude a moment of 100-miles-per-hour brilliance.

Real Zaragoza (A): March 21, 2010

Described by some as 'a defining goal' in his career, this strike against Zaragoza seemed to take him from very good into another class entirely. Messi displayed all he had to offer in a goal that began when he won the ball from a tackle at halfway. From there, he shrugged off one challenge, raced towards the box and turned a defender inside out before drilling into the far corner, leaving coach Pep Guardiola speechless.

Real Madrid (A): April 27, 2011

At the height of the Clasico rivalry between Guardiola's Barca and Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid, the two teams met four times in three different competitions in less than a month. The league meeting ended in a draw and Madrid won the Copa del Rey final, but Barca triumphed in the Champions League semi-final with a 3-1 aggregate win. The first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, an ill-tempered affair to say the least, saw Messi make it 2-0 by bursting beyond four attempted challenges and slotting past Iker Casillas, all in the space of around five seconds.

Athletic Bilbao (A): April 27, 2013

Barca were in the midst of a Champions League semi-final shellacking from Bayern when they arrived at San Mames. A goal down in a match that would eventually finish 2-2, Messi received possession from Thiago Alcantara, twisted past Mikel San Jose, Carlos Gurpegui and Ander Herrera with minimal space in which to operate before nonchalantly side-footing home from just inside the penalty area.

Bayern Munich (H): May 6, 2015

Guardiola returned to Camp Nou with a Bayern side struggling with injury problems. They kept Barca at bay until the 77th minute of this Champions League semi-final first leg, when Messi finally struck. It was his second goal that earns a place in this list, though: collecting Ivan Rakitic's pass, a simple-looking shimmy left Jerome Boateng on his backside before he chipped Manuel Neuer with his weaker foot.

Real Madrid (A): April 23, 2017

El Clasico rarely disappoints for football fans around the globe, and this edition was no different. Anything but a win would essentially hand Madrid the title, and it looked to be headed for a 2-2 draw until Sergi Roberto's swashbuckling run in stoppage time gave Jordi Alba the chance to square to Messi, who finished with aplomb from the edge of the area for his 500th Barcelona goal.

Real Betis (A): March 17, 2019

Rarely has a hat-trick been completed in finer fashion. Messi's two goals had helped Barca to a 3-1 lead at the Benito Villamarin, before he passed to Rakitic, ran onto the return ball and sent a first-time chip over goalkeeper Pau Lopez and in off the crossbar from just inside the box. It was a sublime effort that even had the home fans on their feet applauding – something Messi himself admitted he had not experienced before.

Liverpool (H): May 1, 2019

Over the past few years, Messi has mastered the art of free-kick taking, with the skill being one of few to elude him in his younger days. Liverpool held their own for long periods at Camp Nou but goals from Luis Suarez and Messi gave the hosts breathing space. Jurgen Klopp's side then had to bow to greatness when, after being brought down by Fabinho, Barca's talisman swept an unstoppable 30-yard effort into the top corner. Barcelona would incredibly blow their 3-0 first-leg advantage, however, losing 4-0 at Anfield as Liverpool reached the Champions League final.

Atletico Madrid (A): December 1, 2019

It was goalless in the 86th minute at the Wanda Metropolitano when Messi collected the ball on the right flank, 10 yards inside the Atletico half. Those famous feet began to shuffle with purpose, and although Atletico knew what Messi had in mind, they were powerless to resist the execution of his plan. Messi surged on, playing the ball to Suarez on the edge of the penalty area before taking the return pass and cracking a brilliant 20-yard shot into the bottom left corner of Jan Oblak's goal. A winner, and one of the highest class.

For the first time in his career, Lionel Messi is looking for a new club.

Barcelona announced on Thursday contract talks had been unsuccessful due to the "economic and structural obstacles" of LaLiga's salary restrictions.

Messi's next step is far from obvious, but what if we imagine money is no object and he could play for anyone he chooses? What if the thrill of the game were more important to him than winning a fifth Champions League? What if he threw caution to the wind and went somewhere just for fun?

We've has imagined such a scenario, and these are the teams we'd love to see him play for...

 

AJAX

The link between Ajax and Barca goes beyond the basics of football: it's a shared ideology, a philosophical connection, a spiritual understanding.

From Johan Cruyff to Ronald Koeman, plenty of players and coaches have shared the love of both clubs, but Messi moving to Amsterdam would turn the romance up to 11.

Messi as the focal point of an Ajax side – who are beautiful to watch as it is – is a wonderful idea. He will certainly know all about the club from former player and close friend Luis Suarez.

Given the players Barca have signed from Ajax in the past – Frenkie de Jong the latest – it would be nice to see a player going in the opposite direction.

ATALANTA

Gian Piero Gasperini's side have captured the hearts of the football world in recent seasons, threatening title challenges in Serie A and coming close to reaching the Champions League semi-finals in 2019-20.

They have done all this on a modest budget, playing vibrant, attacking football, and all during a global pandemic that struck Bergamo and the Lombardy region particularly hard.

The way Argentine Alejandro Gomez pulled the strings for Atalanta in the past was a joy to watch, but imagine if compatriot Messi were in that role. Imagine him again facing Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus. Imagine Marten de Roon's Twitter feed.

Glorious, isn't it?

COLOGNE

The GOAT and the Billy Goats – what could be better?

Cologne have gone through some tricky times but will hope to be on the up again in the Bundesliga after surviving a relegation play-off last term.

They might not have won the title since 1978, but they are among Germany's most esteemed clubs, with an ardent fan base and a beautiful home city. If Messi could lead them to challenge the might of Bayern Munich, it would be an unforgettable story.

If not... well, they have a goat as a mascot, for goodness' sake. It's too perfect.

LEEDS UNITED

It might be too early for Messi to return to Newell's Old Boys, but what if he joined up with Rosario's other most famous footballing export in Yorkshire?

Leeds United returned to the Premier League with a bang last season, continuing their progress under the stewardship of Marcelo Bielsa and his big blue bucket.

The chance to truly awaken a sleeping giant of the English game and take Leeds to the next level while playing for the man who inspired Pep Guardiola sounds like an opportunity that's too good to miss.

Plus, if he wanted to visit Pep, Manchester is less than an hour away by train.

Lionel Messi will not return to Barcelona due to "economic and structural obstacles", the club announced on Thursday.

The Blaugrana great's contract at Camp Nou expired at the end of last season, but he was expected to commit to a new deal ahead of the coming campaign.

Messi reportedly agreed a 50 per cent reduction in wages, with news of the contract anticipated this week ahead of Sunday's Joan Gamper Trophy match against Juventus.

But Barca's dire financial situation means they are unable to register new players due to LaLiga's salary restrictions.

Messi, like new signings Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal, had been left in limbo.

And following widespread reports in the Spanish media, Barca confirmed Messi could not formalise the agreement, meaning he "will not continue to be linked to FC Barcelona".

A statement read: "Despite having reached an agreement between FC Barcelona and Leo Messi and with the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, it will not be possible to formalise it due to economic and structural obstacles (Spanish LaLiga regulations)."

"Given this situation, Lionel Messi will not continue to be linked to FC Barcelona.

"Both sides deeply regret that the wishes of both the player and the club cannot ultimately be fulfilled.

"Barca would like to thank the player most sincerely for his contribution to the aggrandisement of the institution and wishes him the best in his personal and professional life."

Messi is widely acknowledged as Barca's greatest ever player, having scored 672 goals and provided 265 assists in 778 appearances.

He has been part of four triumphant Champions League teams, also winning LaLiga on 10 occasions.

The 34-year-old finally ended his wait for a first international honour with Argentina at this year's Copa America, but his future is now in serious doubt.

Messi was linked with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain when he first pursued a Camp Nou exit last year.

But City appear focused on Jack Grealish and Harry Kane, while PSG have already spent heavily as well as agreeing a new contract with Neymar and opening talks with Kylian Mbappe.

The expectation Messi would remain at Barca leaves no obvious next destination in the immediate aftermath of a shock announcement.

Lionel Messi is to leave Barcelona due to "economic and structural obstacles", the club said in a shock announcement on Thursday.

Messi had been expected to agree a new deal with Barca after he became a free agent at the end of last season.

But the club's dire financial situation meant they could not bring their greatest ever player back under LaLiga's salary restrictions.

Messi's next move is far from clear, but the sensational development brings to an end a glittering Camp Nou career.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform looks at some of the forward's incredible feats with the Blaugrana.

 

Messi played 778 games for Barcelona in all competitions, scoring 672 goals and providing 265 assists across those games. That amounts to 937 goal involvements during his Barca career, which began as a 17-year-old.

The one-club man's first appearance for Barcelona came under Frank Rijkaard against Espanyol in October 2004, while his first goal arrived seven months later against Albacete at Camp Nou from a Ronaldinho assist.

Brazil great Ronaldinho was the last Barcelona player to wear the famed number 10 before Messi took that shirt in 2008 and made it his own.

But Ronaldinho does not feature among the top assisters for Messi goals, a list that is led by Luis Suarez (47). Dani Alves assisted 42 of the attacker's goals and third is Andres Iniesta with 37, six more than fellow legendary midfielder Xavi.

 

Messi played under eight different coaches during his time with Barcelona. Of those, he featured most often (219 appearances) and scored the most goals (211) during Pep Guardiola's tenure.

However, the 60 goals Messi scored in 50 games under the late Tito Vilanova – an average of 1.20 goals per match – was his best goals-per-game return with a single coach.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Messi's lowest average goals-per-game ratio was during the Rijkaard era at the start of his career (0.38), followed by the 0.63 managed under Quique Setien between January and August 2020.

 

Messi's most prolific season as a Barcelona player was in 2011-12 when scoring a remarkable 73 goals in all competitions and providing a further 28 assists, setting a personal record in both categories.

Indeed, the forward netted 79 goals for his club across the calendar year in 2012, which is a record amount by a single player. His next most prolific year was 2010 when registering 58 times.

In more recent years, Messi managed 51 goals in 2016, 50 goals in 2017, 47 goals in 2018, 45 goals in 2019 and 26 goals in 2020 – a steady decline that he had already rectified this year, having scored 28 times in the first half of 2021.

He is the only player to have scored 10 or more goals in LaLiga in 15 consecutive seasons.

 

Messi's 672 goals for Barcelona were scored against 82 different teams. Sevilla were his favourite opponent, finding the net against them 38 times in 43 appearances.

Atletico Madrid were next on that particular list, with Messi bagging 32 goals in that fixture, followed by Valencia (31), Athletic Bilbao (29) and bitter rivals Real Madrid (26), making him the leading all-time scorer in El Clasico.

In terms of individual goalkeepers, Diego Alves was Messi's biggest victim, the former Almeria and Valencia man having conceded 21 goals against the Argentina superstar.

Real Madrid legend Iker Casillas was joint-third with 17 goals against, one less than the 18 Messi put past Gorka Iraizoz.

 

Messi is of course synonymous with Camp Nou, a ground where he has scored 394 goals in 381 games at an average of 1.03 per match. Madrid fans will be particularly sick of him as he has scored 15 times in 22 games at the Santiago Bernabeu – his second favourite venue.

That is followed by Vicente Calderon, Atletico Madrid's old home (14 goals in 20 appearances). Deportivo La Coruna's Estadio Riazor (13 in eight) and Sevilla's Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan (13 in 18) complete the top five.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Messi has played more times at Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena (three) without scoring than at any other stadium for Barcelona. He is also without a goal in two trips to English grounds Anfield and Old Trafford.

 

Messi's other notable records and achievements

– Messi is the all-time LaLiga top scorer with 474 goals and is the second-highest scorer ever in Europe's top five leagues behind Cristiano Ronaldo (476).

– He scored in 21 consecutive LaLiga games between November 2012 and May 2013, a record for a player in the competition's history.

– The Newell's Old Boys product is one of only two players to reach 100 goals in Champions League history (120), alongside Cristiano Ronaldo (134).

– Messi was the first player to score five goals in a Champions League match, doing so against Bayer Leverkusen in March 2012 at Camp Nou.

– The Argentina forward is one of six players to score more than 50 goals in Copa del Rey's history and the only one to score in six different finals in the tournament (Telmo Zarra scored in five).

Lionel Messi will not return to Barcelona due to "economic and structural obstacles", the club announced on Thursday.

European champions Chelsea have been in the market for a new striker this off-season.

The Blues chased Erling Haaland without success and have now set their sights on Romelu Lukaku.

Lukaku was on Chelsea's books from 2011 and 2014 but has since become one of the world's best forwards.

 

TOP STORY - CHELSEA TO TABLE NEW BUMPER LUKAKU BID

Chelsea  are preparing to table a new bid of between £100million and £110m (€120-130m) bid for Inter forward  Lukaku  claims Fabrizio Romano.

The Blues had an initial £85m (€100m) offer, including Marcos Alonso, for the Belgian striker rejected by Inter.

The Sun claim Lukaku is keen on a return to Chelsea, citing "unfinished business" from his previous stint in London.

 

ROUND-UP

- Paris Saint-Germain are not guaranteed to retain Real Madrid target  Kylian Mbappe , reports AS. The France superstar has already informed PSG that he will not extend his current contract, due to expire in 2022, and president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is set to take over talks.

- Aymeric Laporte has told Manchester City he wants to leave to return to Spain this off-season, reports 90min. Barcelona and Real Madrid are both interested in the Spain international, who is not first choice at City.

- Arsenal have proposed a player-plus-cash deal, believed to be worth £60m, for Leicester City's James Maddison according to Football.London, but negotiations are "very slow". 

- Tottenham will complete a £47m (€55m) deal for Atalanta defender  Cristian Romero imminently according to Romano. Atalanta will fill the void by signing Merih Demiral from Juventus.

Chelsea are in the market for a striker and are seemingly keen on one of their former players.

Romelu Lukaku helped Inter to the Serie A title last term and is seemingly in Chelsea's sights.

The Belgium international scored four goals at Euro 2020 after netting 24 times in Serie A.

TOP STORY - CHELSEA REBUFFED IN LUKAKU BID

Chelsea have had their initial bid worth approximately £86 million (€100m) for Lukaku rejected by Inter, reports The Sun.

The Blues made their transfer offer with defender Marcos Alonso also involved, but the Italian champions are demanding a £100m (€117m) fee.

Lukaku is said to be Chelsea's number one target after failing in their bid to lure Erling Haaland away from Borussia Dortmund.

 

ROUND-UP

Real Madrid are still expecting Kylian Mbappe to let his Paris Saint-Germain contract expire at the end of the 2021-22 season and join Los Blancos for free, according to AS.

- The Daily Star reports Manchester City and Tottenham are still unable to reach agreement in negotiations over Harry Kanewith £40m separating them currently.

- AS claims Barcelona remain in the box seat to sign highly sought-after Atletico Madrid star Saul Niguez despite their financial challenges. Saul has been chased by Premier League trio LiverpoolManchester United and Chelsea.

Atalanta are set to win the race to sign Juventus defender Merih Demiral, claims Sky Deutschland, with Cristian Romero looking likely to join Tottenham. Bundesliga pair Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen were also interested in the Turkey international.

Roma head coach Jose Mourinho has switched his attention from Arsenal's Granit Xhaka to Dortmund's Thomas Delaney, according to Bild.

Barcelona remain confident of a resolution as they wait to announce a new contract for legendary forward Lionel Messi.

The long-time Barca captain has been a free agent since his previous deal expired on July 1.

A fresh agreement on more reasonable financial terms for the cash-strapped Catalan club has been anticipated for some time, but barriers remain.

So scant are Barca's resources amid the coronavirus pandemic that LaLiga will not allow new players to be registered until space has been cleared for their wages.

That has meant delays for the club's 2021 signings, including Messi, due to his free agency.

The coming week has been mooted as potentially pivotal as the new season nears, with a breakthrough hoped for ahead of Sunday's friendly against Juventus.

Barca president Joan Laporta spoke on Monday as Emerson Royal was presented at Camp Nou, saying: "Regarding Leo, things are going well.

"We're trying to resolve the issues that need to be resolved. They're important, of course, but we're on it."

 

Despite the arrivals of Memphis Depay and Sergio Aguero, Messi is set to remain Barca's main man in attack.

He has been involved in 937 goals in 778 games for the Blaugrana, scoring at least 30 times in 13 consecutive seasons.

Messi has netted 10 or more LaLiga goals in a record 15 straight campaigns, making him the top scorer in the competition's history (474 goals).

Only rival Cristiano Ronaldo (476) has more goals in Europe's top five leagues.

Massimiliano Allegri shrugged off talk of a possible Juventus return for Miralem Pjanic, saying Aaron Ramsey could instead be used in a deeper role this season.

Pjanic left for Barcelona last year in a swap deal with Arthur, but his time in Spain has been unhappy, the midfielder starting just six LaLiga games under Ronald Koeman in 2020-21.

There is speculation the 31-year-old wants to move back to Turin, where he could reunite with Allegri, the coach under whom he won six trophies in Italy.

Allegri, though, appears more interested in transforming Ramsey into a defensive midfielder ahead of the start of 2021-22.

The Wales international started at the base of a midfield three in Saturday's 2-1 friendly win over Monza, regaining possession four times and completing 100 per cent of his passes in his 45-minute outing.

Ramsey has been linked with a possible return to the Premier League but it appears Allegri has important plans for the 30-year-old if he is prepared to embrace the change in position.

"The club handles the transfer market. We speak every day," Allegri said to Mediaset when asked about the Pjanic rumours.

"The squad... it's a good squad. Ramsey played very well in front of the defence today and I think Aaron, in front of the defence, can become a really important player.

"[Pjanic] gave me some great victories. He's a Barcelona player, though.

"We have talented players and I think, if Ramsey is convinced to play in front of the defence, he can become important. He runs less there and can rest more on the ball."

Juve play Barca in the pre-season Joan Gamper Trophy match on August 8.

Manchester City still hope to sign Tottenham and England striker Harry Kane in the coming days.

The Premier League champions appear likely to add his international team-mate first, with Jack Grealish reportedly close to a move to the Etihad Stadium.

Aston Villa have tabled a contract to keep their star man, but City are prepared to spend big to win his signature.

 

TOP STORY - CITY CLOSE ON GREALISH DEAL

Manchester City are set to complete a £100million move for Jack Grealish in the next few days, according to multiple reports

The Mail says the 25-year-old England international will earn more than £200,000 a week upon joining Pep Guardiola's side. 

Though City are expected to cut ties with some veteran players, adding Grealish will have no impact on their longstanding pursuit of Harry Kane, the Sun reports.

 

ROUND-UP

- Saul Niguez is weighing up a move to the Premier League, with the Mirror reporting Manchester United and Liverpool are possibilities for the Atletico Madrid midfielder in a £35-£40m deal. 

- Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are possibilities for Bernardo Silva if he leaves City in the coming weeks, reports the Mail. 

- Atalanta centre-back Cristian Romero wants to join Tottenham but the clubs are having difficulty reaching an agreement, reports Fabrizio Romano. 

- Brazilian striker Kaio Jorge is set for a €3m (£2.5m) permanent move to Juventus from Santos and is expected to sign through to 2026, reports Romano. 

- Arsenal and Everton have shown interest in Schalke's Matthew Hoppe after the USA international's strong Gold Cup performance, reports US journalist Grant Wahl.

- Talks between Wolves and Adama Traore have broken down and Leeds could swoop for the winger, reports Goal. 

- Brighton are interested in Benfica striker and Urugay international Darwin Nunez, reports the Mail. 

Ronald Koeman was delighted with the connection between Memphis Depay and Antoine Griezmann during Barcelona’s 3-0 win over Stuttgart on Saturday.

Barca maintained their perfect pre-season record, making it three wins from three at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.

Depay, who joined the La Liga giants on a free transfer in June after his departure from Lyon, opened the scoring against the Bundesliga outfit in emphatic fashion after 21 minutes.

The Dutchman controlled Frenkie de Jong’s diagonal ball into the box, before flicking it over the head of defender Pascal Stenzel and firing past Fabian Bredlow in the Stuttgart goal.

Following his second goal in as many games, Depay then played a key role as Barca doubled the lead 15 minutes later - a clever backheel releasing Griezmann to cross for youngster Yusuf Demir to tap home.

Koeman praised the impact of his compatriot and was particularly impressed by his link-up with the France star.

"Surely people know what Memphis is about," he said.

"He has been at [Manchester] United, the last few years at Lyon and above all, he has shown himself to be a goalscorer. 

"He showed [that quality] with his goal, strength and speed he brings to the team.

"His connection with Antoine is very good and that gives us a lot.

"They are two players who can play in different positions in the attack. We're going to have competition."

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