Harry Kane made his first appearance for Tottenham this season on Sunday amid speculation about his future.

Kane has been linked with a big-money move to Manchester City, having reportedly told Spurs he wanted to leave late last season.

Spurs have postured that they are steadfast in wanting to keep their star forward, though it has been claimed they may be tempted if City up their bid to around £150million.

TOP STORY - CITY TO MAKE FRESH KANE BID THIS WEEK

The Telegraph claims that Manchester City will make another push to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham as Spurs chairman Daniel Levy remains stubborn.

City want to bring in Kane to bolster their attack but have reportedly been unsuccessful with a £100m bid previously.

The report claims City will make a further bid this week for the England captain ahead of the closure of the transfer window at the end of the month.

 

ROUND-UP

Tottenham have reached out to Juventus to discuss a potential deal for United States international Weston McKennie, with Tanguy Ndombele expected to be involved in a player exchange according to Tuttosport.

- Corriere dello Sport claims that Napoli have contacted Barcelona's Miralem Pjanic about a move to Italy. Barca are reportedly hoping to offload several players to ease their financial situation, with midfielder Pjanic among them.

- Sport1 claims that RB Leipzig remain interested in signing Barcelona youngster Ilaix Moriba and may make a move if Marcel Sabitzer leaves the German club.

- Rennes will permit Eduardo Camavinga to leave for €35m as the closure of the transfer window approaches, reports Fabrizio Romano. Chelsea and Manchester United are among his admirers.

- Romano also reports that Chelsea will sell Davide Zappacosta to Atalanta, with personal terms already agreed.

Burnley will rival Southampton in their interest for Celtic midfielder Ryan Christie, claims the Daily Record. Italian club Sampdoria are also keen on the Scotland international.

Pedri has belatedly been given a break from Barcelona duty after featuring in their first two matches of the 2021-22 season.

The Spain midfielder posted a picture from his aeroplane to social media as he headed back to his home in Tenerife.

Barca shared the image with the caption, "deserved vacation".

Pedri will not play for the Blaugrana against Getafe next Sunday, while it remains to be seen if he will be called up by Luis Enrique for the subsequent international break.

The 18-year-old would return to Catalonia in time for Barca's LaLiga clash with Sevilla on September 12.

Pedri had played only a single season with Las Palmas before linking up with Ronald Koeman's Barca at the start of the 2020-21 campaign, but he quickly became a key man.

Since his debut last September, only Bruno Fernandes and Manu Trigueros (both 56) have appeared in more club games across all competitions than Pedri (54, tied with Marcus Rashford) among players in Europe's top five leagues.

But Pedri has also turned out 10 times for the senior Spain team in that period, including in all six matches in their run to the Euro 2020 semi-finals.

And there were a further six appearances at the Tokyo Olympics as the teenager helped Spain take silver.

Having started his 2020-21 season in the Spain Under-21 team on September 3, 2020 – with four games at that level – Pedri has played 74 matches for club and country in less than a year.

Koeman was asked about Pedri's impending departure following Saturday's 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao, in which he was substituted after 62 minutes.

"It's better to give him a break now, so as not to have problems in the month of November," the coach explained.

Ronald Koeman had no complaints as Barcelona could only draw at Athletic Bilbao, hailing his battling side and Memphis Depay in particular.

Depay scored his first Blaugrana goal 15 minutes from time at San Mames to cancel out Inigo Martinez's opener and secure a point.

The Netherlands international became the first Barca player to have a goal involvement in each of his opening two LaLiga appearances (one goal, one assist) since both Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez in 2011-12.

Yet Depay could have added to his tally as he squandered the best of his three chances – valued at 0.24 expected goals – four minutes from time.

"I could have scored two goals," he told Barca TV. "In the end, I did it with the left.

"I am very pleased to have scored, for having scored my first goal, but disappointed not to have scored the second chance I had."

Koeman was pleased with Depay, however, adding: "He has scored a great goal and had a chance for another. We must highlight the attitude of the team after the 1-0 against.

"[Depay] has effectiveness, speed, strength. He's a great player, that's why we've signed him. You have to have personality, here the demand is better and he takes it well."

 

Indeed, despite Depay's late chance, Koeman suggested Barca would have been fortunate to win.

They had 67.3 per cent of the possession but just nine attempts to Athletic's 16.

"We initially lacked calm and the ability to find the free man," Koeman said. "We made mistakes and couldn't get out.

"Little by little we entered the game, we reacted well after the 1-0 and in the end we were better. We could even win, but maybe it would have been too much."

Barca had some issues at the back, with Eric Garcia sent off late on after Gerard Pique had departed with injury.

In a worrying trend, this is the sixth time in Pique's past 13 LaLiga starts he has failed to see out the full match, as many substitutions as in his previous 111 outings.

But Koeman said Pique's problem was "not serious and I hope he will be available for next week".

Memphis Depay's first goal for Barcelona secured a 1-1 draw for Ronald Koeman's side against Athletic Bilbao at San Mames on Saturday.

Barca started life without Lionel Messi – who joined Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month – with a 4-2 win over Real Sociedad last weekend, but they were well off the pace for much of the clash with Marcelino's side.

The hosts had seven shots to Barca's three in a lively first half and they deservedly went ahead five minutes after the restart when Inigo Martinez steered a header past Neto.

Former Lyon forward Depay ensured a share of the spoils 15 minutes from full-time, though, lashing home from an acute angle moments after Frenkie De Jong had hit the crossbar.

Eric Garcia was then sent off in the final moments of the match as Barca dropped their first points of the new season.

Martin Braithwaite squandered a glorious opportunity to put Barca ahead after six minutes, the Denmark international inexplicably blazing over from 10 yards after Depay's cross was deflected into his path.

That miss should have been punished five minutes later, but Oihan Sancet's instinctive effort crashed back off Neto's crossbar.

Inaki Williams headed over from inside the six-yard box shortly after the half-hour mark, while Ronald Araujo – who had earlier replaced the injured Gerard Pique – saw an overhead kick ruled out for a foul by Braithwaite in the build-up.

Araujo was in the thick of the action at the start of the second period, acrobatically clearing Alex Berenguer's strike off the line, but he was powerless to stop Martinez storming in to head home Iker Muniain's corner in the 50th minute. 

Neto pawed away Sancet's powerful strike soon after as Athletic continued to press, before Frenkie De Jong crashed a sumptuous half-volley against the crossbar.

His Netherlands team-mate was not to be denied, though, Depay thundering an effort past Julen Agirrezabala from a tight angle to secure a point for Koeman’s below-par side, who had Garcia dismissed deep into stoppage time for bringing down Nico Williams as he bore down on goal.

The transfer window is not even closed but attention is already turning to next season.

Kylian Mbappe is into the final year of his Paris Saint-Germain contract, while Erling Haaland's Borussia Dortmund deal has clubs queuing up.

Manchester United are reportedly set to pursue both.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE, HAALAND FUTURE RED DEVILS?

Manchester United have made Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe a target for next season, according to ESPN.

Mbappe has long been tipped to join Real Madrid and Saturday's Marca and Diario AS claim the LaLiga giants are still trying to sign the PSG star before the end of the transfer window.

Liverpool have also previously been linked with Mbappe, but United are keeping tabs on his situation, with the Frenchman out of contract at the end of 2021-22.

French journalist Julien Laurens, meanwhile, also suggests next year could be the perfect time for United to prise Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.

Haaland has no shortage of suitors, linked with Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and Bayern Munich as his release clause comes into force at season's end.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail says City are willing to sell defender Aymeric Laporte for £60million (€69m). The Spain international is reportedly wanted by Juventus and Madrid.

Chelsea remain interested in Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde, per The Telegraph. The Blues have also been linked with Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez, who has also caught the attention of United and Liverpool.

- Diario AS says wantaway Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele is eyeing a switch to Madrid, Barca or Bayern.

Real Sociedad are tracking PSG star Pablo Sarabia, according to Le Parisien. Sevilla could also reportedly rival Sociedad for the Spain international.

- Sky Sport Italia reports Juve are set to meet with Paulo Dybala's agent to discuss a new contract.

Ronald Koeman says the situation with Ilaix Moriba at Barcelona is "horrible", claiming the teenager and his advisors are prioritising money over his career.

Moriba broke into the Barca first team in 2020-21, making 14 appearances in LaLiga and scoring his first goal as a substitute in the 2-0 win over Osasuna in March.

Barca have been in talks with the midfielder over a new contract, with his deal expiring next year, but little progress has been made in recent weeks.

Moriba was effectively sidelined for pre-season as the impasse continued and clubs began to be linked with offers, with Premier League sides including Manchester City and Liverpool said to be interested.

According to Sport, RB Leizpig have made an approach worth €8million, although Barca want closer to €15m if they are to sell.

The stand-off has left head coach Koeman deeply unimpressed as he believes Moriba should be a key part of the future of the first team.

"I talked with Ilaix two or three weeks ago. His situation, for me, is horrible," the Dutchman said on Friday.

"He's young. He's 18, he had the opportunity to play for Barca and he's the future of the club. And he doesn't play, he's not with us.

"At 18, the most important thing is to play, not money. But Ilaix and his people think differently. I'm disappointed with that because I believe more in football than in contracts.

"Money at 18 cannot be the most important thing."

 

Barca's spiralling levels of debt have made sales essential if Koeman wishes to add any further players to his squad.

Martin Braithwaite and Philippe Coutinho have both been tipped to leave but Koeman would prefer to keep them as he seeks ways to soften the blow left by the departure of Lionel Messi.

Clement Lenglet is also expected to stay, but Samuel Umtiti and Miralem Pjanic could be moved on.

"We're in a situation at the club where we listen to offers in a lot of cases, but Martin's doing well with us. I believe he has to stay," he said of Braithwaite.

"He's important for us. I like working with him a lot because he's disciplined and he accepts his role. He plays in different positions in attack and the other day we saw that he can score goals. We'll see."

On the defenders, he said: "I'm really happy to have five or six centre-backs. It's an important position for which there's a lot of competition, and we need them.

"Umtiti has fewer possibilities than the others. Lenglet is our only left-footer. He has a place and he'll have games. After the break, the matches start every three days and we need all the players.

"Pjanic and Umtiti will find it difficult to have minutes. The final decision is the player's, but they have a complicated situation, yes."

He added on Coutinho: "Philippe is out because I think he needs one more week of training and to be with the group before being added to the squad. And yes, I count on him because for me he's a great player.

"He can be important because he has effectiveness in his play. He can play in different positions. We need people like him.

"With Messi, we've lost a lot of goals and we have to look for goals in other players."

Koeman also revealed Pedri will play against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday but will then be given a two-week holiday following his exploits at Euro 2020 and then the Olympics with Spain.

"We've had time to think about what the best thing is for Pedri. We've decided that he'll play tomorrow, and then afterwards he'll have two weeks of holiday so he doesn't get to November or December overloaded," he said.

"I've spoken with [Spain coach] Luis Enrique. We'll give him two weeks of holiday because he needs it. It's impossible to endure what he's endured and he deserves a holiday of at least two weeks."

Erling Haaland is one of the most in-demand players in Europe.

Clubs from across the continent are queuing up to sign the Borussia Dortmund forward.

Real Madrid, however, are firmly placed to make a move for the Norwegian.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID STILL EYEING HAALAND

Real Madrid believe a deal to sign Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland could be done next year, according to the front page of Friday's Marca.

Kylian Mbappe – out of contract in 2022 – has dominated headlines as Madrid target the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

But Madrid have not forgotten about Haaland, who is also reportedly wanted by Manchester United, Manchester City, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Athletic says Bernardo Silva has turned down a move to Tottenham as part of a potential deal that would help send Harry Kane to City. Atletico Madrid and Barca have also been linked with City's Silva.

Pedri could sign a new four-year deal with Barca by September, reports Sport. The 18-year-old has been a revelation at Camp Nou.

- Fabrizio Romano claims Milan are nearing a deal to sign Tiemoue Bakayoko from Chelsea. Bakayoko spent the 2018-19 season on loan at Milan. Di Marzio, meanwhile, says Milan are interested in bringing Monaco's Pietro Pellegri to San Siro on loan.

- Staying in Milan and Tuttosport reports the Rossoneri are interested in Sassuolo and Italy star Domenico Berardi. Leicester City are also reportedly among his admirers.

- Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga is dreaming of a move to PSG, according to Le Parisien. United have also been linked with the France midfielder.

Kylian Mbappe's future continues to dominate headlines.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward is out of contract at the end of 2021-22 and no closer to re-signing in the French capital.

Real Madrid are reportedly holding onto hope of securing his services before the end of the transfer window.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID STILL DREAMING OF MBAPPE

Real Madrid have not given up on signing Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, according to the front page of Thursday's Diario AS.

Mbappe is into the final year of his PSG contract and while he has been tipped to make the move to Madrid, he has reportedly told friends he will remain in Paris.

However, LaLiga powerhouses Madrid – also linked with Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland – believe it is a strategy to secure a friendly exit from PSG.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are interested in Monaco defensive midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, say reporters Sacha Tavolieri and Jonathan Shrager. United have also been linked with Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, who is reportedly wanted by PSG and Madrid.

- RB Leipzig star Marcel Sabitzer is interested in a move to Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich, claims Bild.

- Goal and widespread reports say Arsenal are close to signing Martin Odegaard from Madrid. Odegaard spent six months on loan at Arsenal last season.

Duvan Zapata is Inter's priority signing, according to Calciomercato. Despite signing Edin Dzeko and Denzel Dumfries after Romelu Lukaku's, the Serie A champions are eyeing the Atlanta forward. Borussia Monchengladbach's Marcus Thuram, Joaquin Correa of Lazio, Torino forward Andrea Belotti and Wolfsburg's Wout Weghorst are other options.

- Italian journalist Sara Meini reports Manchester City are stepping up their pursuit of Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic amid their struggle to prise Harry Kane from Tottenham. Atletico Madrid and Spurs have also been linked with Vlahovic.

Juventus are nearing a deal to re-sign Miralem Pjanic from Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo. Juve, according to Di Marzio, are also listening to offers for Weston McKennie.

Antoine Griezmann is "happy and proud" after reaching 100 appearances for Barcelona and the French star is targeting history with the LaLiga giants.

Griezmann brought up his century of games in Sunday's 4-2 rout of Real Sociedad and almost marked the occasion with his 36th goal for Barca, only to be denied by the crossbar.

With big shoes to fill after the departure of Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain, Barca head coach Ronald Koeman will be hoping the forward can team up with recruit Memphis Depay to fire Barca back to the top of LaLiga.

Griezmann, who arrived from Atletico Madrid in 2019, told the club's media on Wednesday: "I am happy and proud to have reached this figure.

"It was very important to get a win in the first game with the fans back, who we haven't seen for so long. It was a good game and hopefully, we can now get another win against Athletic [Bilbao]."

Since arriving in 2019, no player has played more games for Barca, while only Messi (8003) and Marc-Andre ter Stegen (8040) have racked up more minutes than Griezmann's 7,497.

France international Griezmann sits behind Messi for goal involvements in that time, too, having recorded 51 direct involvements – 19 more than the departed third-place Luis Suarez, who fired Atletico to their first LaLiga title since 2013-14 last term.

Griezmann's returns do not just impress up against his team-mates, though, given only Suarez (42), Villarreal's Gerard Moreno (51) and Real Madrid star Karim Benzema (59) have scored more among LaLiga forwards since the Frenchman's switch to Barca.

While Griezmann remains a long way behind his 94 goals for Diego Simeone's Atletico, his 20 goals across all competitions last season – the same as his goal involvements in LaLiga – did see him finish as Barca's second-highest goalscorer.

 

Having not added to his 35-goal tally yet this campaign, that return means he is 14 goals away from Thierry Henry (49) as the highest-scoring Frenchman for Koeman's side, Ludovic Giuly third with 26.

However, it is not just his finishing abilities that standout during his Camp Nou career.

Only Messi (233) and Jordi Alba (131) have created more chances than Griezmann (107), who also ranks third at the club behind the same pair for 'big' chances created, defined by Opta, with 26.

In a side dependent on the link-up play of their forwards to unleash the likes of Ansu Fati, Alba and Ousmane Dembele, it is apparent why Koeman has challenged the 30-year-old to improve on those figures to be the spearhead and guide his team to glory.

Nevertheless, the former Sociedad man is looking forward to continuing life at Camp Nou.

"I hope I get to play another 100 games and carry on giving everything to make history with this club," Griezmann added. "I want to keep helping the team both on and off the pitch, in attack and defence, and enjoying being at Barca."

Manchester City's interest in signing Tottenham's Harry Kane is widely known but a deal appears no closer to materialising. 

The 28-year-old forward was absent for the two sides' Premier League game on Sunday, when Spurs took the points.

City have reportedly bid up to £125 million to sign the England international, who reportedly requested a move late last season.

TOP STORY - KANE FRUSTRATED AS SPURS REJECT CITY BID

Kane has grown frustrated with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy and thrown down the gauntlet with a proposed move to Manchester City, reports The Telegraph.

According to the report, the England forward feels that Levy has not honoured their meeting at the end of the 2019-20 season when he requested to leave Spurs if they underachieved.

Kane is also frustrated that Levy's tactics have seen fans turned against him and that the chairman is also refusing to sell or even accept calls from City.

The report claims that City have submitted a fresh £125m bid for Kane, which Spurs have turned down.

 

ROUND-UP

- El Larguero claims that Paris Saint-Germain director Leonardo has informed the players that Kylian Mbappe will stay to see out the remainder of his contract, due to expire in mid-2022, scuppering Real Madrid's hopes of signing him this month or in January.

- Samuel Umtiti, Martin Braithwaite and Miralem Pjanic are all on the chopping block at Barcelona, according to Diario AS, which claims the Catalans must sell three players this month to reduce their salary bill despite Lionel Messi's exit.

- Martin Odegaard is set to re-join Arsenal on a permanent deal from Real Madrid, says Fabrizio Romano. Talks are at their final stages with a deal until 2026.

- Tottenham are keen on Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma, reports Sky Sports. The Blues would demand a £25 million fee for the Frenchman.

- Internazionale are in talks to sign forward Marcus Thuram from Moenchengladbach, claims Sky Sport Italia.

- The Sun reports that Wolves are talking to Olympiacos about signing Portuguese defender Ruben Semedo on a one-year loan.

Cristiano Ronaldo is suddenly the name dominating the transfer rumour mill.

The Portuguese superstar is reportedly drawing interest from multiple quarters.

Is a departure from Juventus on the cards?

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO SPECULATION ABOUNDS

Ronaldo is the subject of widespread speculation around Europe. 

Paris Saint-Germain would like Ronaldo to replace Kylian Mbappe if the France international departs for Real Madrid this summer window or next, says Calciomercato, opening up the tantalising prospect of a partnership with Lionel Messi.

Meanwhile, El Chiringuito suggests Carlo Ancelotti could make a move to bring Ronaldo back to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Elsewhere, Corriere dello Sport claims Ronaldo has offered his services to Manchester City.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona could swap Philippe Coutinho to Arsenal in their bid to land Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, according to Sky Sports. 

- Despite signing an extension with PSG through 2023 just a few months ago, Julian Draxler could be on the way out. Kicker says a Bundesliga team, likely Bayer Leverkusen, have made a €20m offer. 

- Hector Bellerin wants out of Arsenal, The Athletic reports, saying Inter are monitoring the situation. The Star says the Gunners could move him back to Barca in a swap deal for Emerson Royal.

- Juventus will make a final bid of €35million to Sassuolo for Manuel Locatelli, reports Fabrizio Romano. 

- Tottenham want to add Patrick Bamford to their attack but Leeds are keen to sign him to a long-term extension, says the Mirror. 

- West Ham are still trying to land Kurt Zouma from Chelsea, says the Guardian.

- Lyon are looking to pry Emerson Palmieri away from Chelsea on a loan deal with an option to buy, L'Equipe reports. 

- Clement Lenglet could be on the move from Barcelona to Roma, says Gianluigi Longari. 

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has once again hit out at predecessor Josep Maria Bartomeu after revealing the LaLiga club's debt has risen to €1.35billion.

The Catalan giants' financial problems have been well documented since it emerged in January that their total debt had exceeded the €1.1bn mark.

Barca's money issues have led to the shock departure of Lionel Messi on a free transfer, while Gerard Pique has accepted a substantial pay cut and fellow captains Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto are set to follow suit.

But years of what Laporta described as mismanagement by the previous board have caught up with Barca, as he laid out the true scale of their debt on Monday - including some remarkable allegations.

"When we took over we asked for a bridge loan of €80m, granted by Goldman Sachs because we would not have been able to pay the salaries of players and employees," he said.

"The previous board had received an advance of €79m relating to 50 per cent of LaLiga's television rights and the banks charged it at nine per cent interest.

"The reduction of wages by the previous board was not real. We have found those millions in different types of bonuses and variables included in the new contracts. 

"We have found disproportionate payments to intermediaries, not agents, a transfer that cost €40m and for a purchase premium we paid €8m and a sale premium of €2m. 

"A person was also paid €8m to find players in South America."

Laporta called a news conference to respond to an open letter issued by Bartomeu on Friday which effectively pointed the finger of blame for Messi's exit at the current incumbent.

Breaking down the letter into what he alleges are eight different lies, Laporta said: "It obeys an effort to justify management that is unjustifiable. 

"It is an exercise in despair. We have a salary bill that represents 103 per cent of the club's total income. It represents 20-25 per cent more than our competitors.

"No one is going to escape from those responsibilities. The economic situation is worrying and the financial situation is dramatic. 

"Barcelona has a net worth of minus €451m and a debt of €1.35bn."

In his lengthy letter, Bartomeu – who stepped down as Barca chief in October 2020 after nearly seven years in the role – questioned why Barca reached an out-of-court settlement with former player Neymar over money owed.

"He talks about Neymar," Laporta said. "He says that we have forgone €16.7m. That's another lie, it is not true. And you could remind Bartomeu of the damage that the Neymar case did to the image of Barca. Because it was an infinity of lies. 

"When he sold Neymar for €222m, they had already spent disproportionately. This triggered wages and amortisation."

Pique's decision to accept a reduced salary ensured Barca could register new signings Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia for their opening LaLiga game of the campaign on Sunday.

"I thank Pique for his willingness to help the club. His reduction has helped us to register players," Laporta added. "We can register Sergio [Aguero] with the agreement we plan to have with the other players. I hope the other captains act like Pique.

"The negotiations with the others are going well. Alba, like Busquets and Sergi Roberto, is behaving very well and we hope that we will reach an agreement soon. As soon as we can, we will acknowledge it."

Lionel Messi has left a glaring hole at Barcelona and it will prove to be an extremely difficult void to fill as former team-mate Victor Sanchez discussed the shock and tearful Camp Nou exit.

Messi had been tipped to re-sign at Barcelona but the LaLiga club's dire financial situation meant they could not bring their greatest ever player back under the league's salary restrictions, paving the way for a blockbuster switch to Ligue 1 powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain.

Instead of extending his time at Barca, dating back to 2000 during his youth, Messi now forms a frightening attack alongside old friend Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in Paris.

Sanchez played alongside Messi in Barca, where he emerged from the club's youth system in 2005 and made his first-team debut in 2008 before joining and captaining rivals Espanyol, and he spoke to Stats Perform about the six-time Ballon d'Or winner's stunning departure.

"I was shocked, but everyone too because after last year when he wanted to leave, and he finally didn't, I looked like he would end his career at Barcelona," said Sanchez, who now plays for Western United in Australia.

"So, leaving this year and joining PSG, it is tough to understand on his side, but also on the Barcelona side. I have spoken with former team-mates of his and they think same as me: they thought it was done and he would continue playing for Barca, and everything changed at the very last moment.

"We won't know why it did not happen, but it is a big shame for Barcelona and for Spanish football. On the other hand, it is a big joy for French football and PSG as I think they are building a spectacular team."

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.

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

The 34-year-old's most prolific season as a Barcelona player was in 2011-12 when scoring a remarkable 73 goals in all competitions, as well as providing a further 28 assists, setting a personal record in both categories.

Messi 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.

 

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

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), while he scored in 21 consecutive LaLiga games between November 2012 and May 2013 - a record for a player in the competition's history.

"It is very tough to replace Messi. You get a player like this every 20-30-40 years," Sanchez said before Barca's season-opening 4-2 win over Real Sociedad on Sunday. "It is so hard. However, Barca's academy works in the same way with every team, so they can get three-four-five players and build a strong team who can win titles and bid for all, something difficult right now in Barcelona.

"It is the same what happened with [Andres] Iniesta, Xavi… probably will happen with [Sergio] Busquets too. It is not easy to replace them with other players because they have been the best in their position.

"Barcelona will get other good players, but it won't be easy to get someone like Messi who has given that much to the team."

Under the leadership of Pep Guardiola, Sanchez was part of the star-studded Barca squad that won the Champions League, LaLiga and Copa del Rey in 2008-09 – playing alongside Messi as well as Thierry Henry, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Yaya Toure, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique and Samuel Eto'o.

"I read a lot of comments when I was younger," Sanchez said when asked if he remembered some of the reaction and comments to Messi's emergence at Barca. "I am the same age as Messi, and I read a lot about a player of 16-17 who was superb in the academy. The thing is when I reached the first team, he was playing for three years in the first team.

"I was 20-21 at that time and he was already a star in the first team. However, it is true there were comments on a player in the second team who was going to be a big player and he has become it.

"You could see he was different since he was a child. As you see in others, you could also see on him."

Is Kylian Mbappe's future nearing a resolution?

Mbappe is out of contract at the end of the season and the Paris Saint-Germain forward is no closer to extending his contract in the
French capital.

Real Madrid are reportedly poised to pounce.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID NEARING MBAPPE DEAL?

Real Madrid are closing in on Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, according to the front page of Monday's Marca.

Mbappe is in the final year of his PSG contract and he has reportedly made it clear he has no intention of re-signing in Paris.

Long touted to join Madrid, the LaLiga giants' pursuit of Mbappe is set to enter a decisive phase this week.

The Transfer Window podcast, however, claims Liverpool will attempt to sign Mbappe on a free transfer at the end of the 2021-22 season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport reports Barcelona are monitoring Arsenal pair Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as they look to rebuild following Lionel Messi's departure to PSG.

- Inter are eyeing Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne but want a discount on the Italy star, claims Sky Sport Italia. Napoli value Insigne at around €25-30million with one year remaining on his contract. Lazio's Joaquin Correa, Atalanta forward Duvan Zapata and Fiorentina sensation Dusan Vlahovic have also been linked to Inter.

- Sport Italia says Tottenham are in talks with Fiorentina for centre-back Nikola Milenkovic, who has been linked with West Ham. Spurs are also keen on Fiorentina star Vlahovic, according to Sport Italia.

- According to Cadena SER, Antoine Griezmann is open to returning to Atletico Madrid this off-season. Griezmann swapped Atletico for Barca in 2019.

Luka Jovic has decided he wants to join Inter on loan, per Nerazzurri Siamo Noi. The Madrid outcast has also been linked with Eintracht Frankfurt, Sampdoria and Genoa.

Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City are tracking Metz's 18-year-old midfielder Pape Matar Sarr, claims the Daily Mail.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique compared Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe to Brazilian great Ronaldo as he hailed Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

Mbappe and Haaland are two of the most in-demand players in the transfer market, with LaLiga giants Real Madrid reportedly interested in both.

PSG's Mbappe – entering the final year of his contract in Paris – has long been tipped to join Madrid, while Haaland has also been linked with Barca, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Bayern Munich.

Mbappe scored in PSG's 4-2 Ligue 1 win at home to Strasbourg on Saturday, having now either scored or assisted in seven consecutive matches in the competition (eight goals, four assists).

Haaland took his tally to 62 goals in 61 games for Dortmund after bagging a brace as the German giants opened their Bundesliga season with a 5-2 rout of Eintracht Frankfurt.

Pique was asked to pick between Mbappe and Haaland in an appearance on Twitch following Barca's 4-2 victory over Real Sociedad on Sunday, and he replied: "Mbappe and Haaland are different.

"One is very similar to Ronaldo Luis Nazario, who is Mbappe. Haaland is more powerful, stronger, he is a goal killer."

Barca kicked off the Lionel Messi-less era by seeing off Sociedad at Camp Nou in the opening game of the LaLiga season.

Messi – the club's all-time leading goalscorer – joined PSG after his contract expired, with Barca's financial difficulties forcing the six-time Ballon d'Or winner to leave.

"It was tough," Pique said on Messi's exit. "I have known him since I was 13 years old.

"He has made us all better. We have to accept it because it is reality. We will all step forward to be competitive."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.