Sergio Ramos and Eden Hazard have been named in Real Madrid's 20-man squad to face Elche.

Club captain Ramos, who is out of contract at the end of the season, has not played since suffering meniscus damage in January.

Hazard has endured an injury-plagued existence since joining Madrid from Chelsea for €100million before the start of last season, with a problem in his left thigh serving as the Belgium attacker's latest setback.

Asked at a pre-match media conference whether each man was ready to play a part against Elche, Zidane replied: "Yes, of course. And we are very happy. Our idea is that they have minutes."

And both are in the 20-strong party, with conjecture ongoing over whether Ramos will extend his deal in the Spanish capital.

Hazard is under contract until 2024, giving him plenty of time to turn around an underwhelming stint to date.

Zidane has every confidence the 30-year-old will do so.

"I see him 100 per cent physically and emotionally well," said the Frenchman. "He has overcome the injuries and discomfort he may have had.

"I see him well, he will be with us and I hope he can play."

The Madrid boss dismissed concerns that the catalogue of injuries suffered by Hazard could have a similarly debilitating impact as Gareth Bale's woes had over recent seasons.

"Eden has had his discomfort, it's true. He had never had a long injury before coming to Madrid," he added.

"Now here he had a lot of discomfort. But he has a long player and when he gets well, Damn, he is going to have an impressive performance.

"I speak to the fans: when a player is not at 100 per cent it is complicated, but he is going to do very well here "

Zinedine Zidane has refused to offer any guarantee over the future of Sergio Ramos, but he remains convinced Raphael Varane will stay at Real Madrid. 

Club captain Ramos is out of contract at the end of the season and stated on Thursday that there was "nothing new" to report around a possible extension. 

With Madrid said to be keen to sign Ramos to a new deal but only on reduced wages due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Paris Saint-Germain have been linked with the 34-year-old, who has won 22 trophies in 16 years with Madrid including five LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues. 

Head coach Zidane admitted on Friday he has little knowledge of Ramos' contract situation, although he would be keen for the Spain veteran to stay in the capital. 

Speaking ahead of Saturday's LaLiga clash with Elche, he said of Ramos: "I can't really answer that question because I don't know. 

"I hope that Ramos remains at the club, he's a key player with everything he's done in the past and hopefully he can remain here and play." 

Meanwhile, the future of long-time centre-back partner Varane is also uncertain. The 27-year-old, whose contract runs out at the end of next season, is said to be considering a new challenge and is reportedly a target for Manchester United. 

However, Zidane appears confident his compatriot has no particular desire to move elsewhere and only has positive things to say about life at Madrid. 

"I don't think that's his first option, to play elsewhere," said Zidane. "He always speaks highly of the club. He's very happy here. I can't see him playing anywhere else." 

Madrid face Elche needing a win to put pressure on top two Atletico Madrid and Barcelona. 

The champions are two points behind Barca and eight adrift of leaders Atletico following last weekend's 1-1 derby draw.

Ronald Koeman only took charge of Barcelona at the start of the season, but his tenure could be brief.

With Joan Laporta back at Camp Nou as president, he is determined to make his mark.

And highly rated RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann is reportedly fancied in Barcelona.

 

TOP STORY – LAPORTA FANCIES NAGELSMANN

New Barcelona president Joan Laporta is eyeing RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann as the club's next head coach, according to El Larguero.

Laporta was elected Barca president on Sunday and attention has immediately turned to the dugout at Camp Nou.

Ronald Koeman is currently at the helm but while Laporta respects the Dutchman, he prefers Nagelsmann.

 

ROUND-UP

Paris Saint-Germain could make a move for Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo if Kylian Mbappe leaves, claims Le Parisien. Reports in Italy and Spain say Juve will sell Ronaldo at the end of the season following their Champions League last-16 exit. With Mbappe's future unclear in Paris amid links to Real Madrid, PSG are eyeing a possible deal for Ronaldo. Barca's Lionel Messi has also been heavily linked.

- The Daily Mail reports Chelsea are keen on Bayern Munich's Kingsley Coman if Christian Pulisic leaves Stamford Bridge. Liverpool, Manchester United and Bayern have emerged as possible suitors for Pulisic, who is out of favour under Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel. Coman was linked with United during the previous transfer window.

Barca are dreaming of signing Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, claims Mundo Deportivo. Madrid, PSG, United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Juventus and Manchester City are all reportedly keen on Haaland. City forward Sergio Aguero, Lyon captain Memphis Depay, Bayern star David Alaba and City defender Eric Garcia are also among Barca's list of targets.

- Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum is a target for Inter, according to Calciomercato. The Netherlands international has been linked with Barca previously.

- Ajax's Brian Brobbey will join Leipzig on a free transfer at the end of the season, reports Fabrizio Romano.

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos insisted it would be easier for the LaLiga champions to sign Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland instead of Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe.

Mbappe has long been tipped to swap Ligue 1 titleholders PSG for Madrid, but Dortmund sensation Haaland has emerged as a serious option for the Spanish powerhouse.

Haaland is a player in demand – linked with the likes of Barcelona, PSG, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Juventus – following his exploits for Dortmund in the Bundesliga and Champions League.

Ramos feels Haaland is a more realistic option for Madrid due to the financial situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, while PSG still try to re-sign Mbappe.

"I would like them both to come, but if one of them were to come, it would be easier to sign Haaland," Ramos, who is facing an uncertain future as he is yet to sign a contract extension with Madrid, told Ibai Llanos on Twitch.

"With Mbappe the economic circumstances are more difficult. Haaland wouldn't be bad because of his hunger for goals, his size, his speed... It would be easier to reach an agreement for Haaland."

Haaland became the quickest player to 20 Champions League goals after reaching the milestone in his 14th game in the competition as Dortmund drew 2-2 with Sevilla on Tuesday but advanced 5-4 on aggregate.

Aged 20 years and 231 days, Haaland also became the youngest player to score in six consecutive Champions League matches, while he is the first player in the history of the competition to score at least two goals in four consecutive appearances.

Mbappe also made Champions League history on Wednesday after PSG eliminated Barcelona in the last 16.

The PSG forward claimed Lionel Messi's record as the youngest player to reach 25 goals in the competition, aged 22 years and 80 days. 

Meanwhile, the future of Messi has dominated headlines as the Barca superstar continues to be linked with PSG and City.

Messi is out of contract at the end of the season, and Ramos is cheekily prepared to welcome the six-time Ballon d'Or winner to the Santiago Bernabeu in a controversial move.

"I would be delighted to welcome Messi [to Real Madrid]," Ramos said with a smile as he dismissed the idea of leaving Madrid for bitter rivals Barca. "I'll make my house available to him for the first few weeks.

"We had to suffer Leo in his best years, so the fact of not having to face him would be good.

"He would help us win and achieve more success. It would be silly to say otherwise."

Inter vice-president Javier Zanetti "can't say" the Serie A leaders want Lionel Messi as he believes the Barcelona superstar will remain at Camp Nou.

Messi's future has dominated headlines, with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner tipped to join Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain or Premier League leaders Manchester City on a free transfer at the end of the season.

Inter have also emerged as a possible destination for Messi, who tried to leave embattled LaLiga giants Barca ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

Argentina and Inter great Zanetti, though, feels his 33-year-old countryman will continue playing for Barca beyond this season.

"We can't say that, he is a Barcelona player and he's spent the whole career there. I think he will continue there," Zanetti told ONTime Sports.

"We are focused on the group of players we have. We must be focused on ourselves, we are focused on the next game. Everyone is doing very well."

Asked to compare Messi to legendary football Diego Maradona – who died in November – Zanetti added: "I can't make comparisons, they are both great champions.

"It's always good when big players move to Serie A. When Cristiano Ronaldo arrived, it was good for the league."

Messi has scored a league-high 19 goals and supplied six assists in 24 LaLiga appearances for Ronald Koeman's second-placed Barca this season, and 25 across all competitions.

Barca are six points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid ahead of Monday's match against Huesca.

Messi has been involved in five goals in two games against Huesca in LaLiga (two goals and three assists), including two goals and two assists in his only league appearance against them at Camp Nou.

Barcelona have gone 16 games without losing in LaLiga (W13 D3) – the best current unbeaten streak of any team in the five major leagues in Europe.

Sergio Ramos believes he can play at the highest level for five more years but admits there has been no breakthrough over a new contract at Real Madrid.

Reports in Spain have claimed Ramos will leave Madrid at the end of the season, when his current deal expires. A recent offer from Madrid was said by Spanish media to be worth 10 per cent less than his existing agreement.

The 34-year-old centre-back has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain and there appears to be a significant chance of him opting to move elsewhere after 16 seasons with the Bernabeu giants.

Whether he signs a new deal with Los Blancos or decides to depart, Ramos – who has not played since January after suffering a knee injury – is in no doubt he can perform on the biggest stage for years to come.

"There is a lot of uncertainty," he told reporters on Thursday. "I wish I could say something, but there is nothing new.

"I was only thinking about coming back from injury and finishing the season in the best possible way.

"There is nothing new about the renewal. I guarantee that when there is, I will be the first to report it. But now I am calm. Now I am focused on savouring the year.

"I can perform three, four or five more years, if my body supports me and the injuries respect me.

"I can be at the highest level. I work hard for it and my mentality will always be there. I make mistakes, but I learn from everyone. I've been honest and I've always done my best."

Ramos also defended his former Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portuguese superstar came in for criticism following Juventus' early Champions League exit this week.

Juve were eliminated from Europe's elite club competition by Porto at the last-16 stage on Tuesday, going out on away goals after the tie finished 4-4 on aggregate after extra time at the Allianz Stadium.

Sergio Oliveira scored the decisive goal late on from a free-kick that went straight through the Juve wall, with Ronaldo turning his back on the effort.

Former Bianconeri boss Fabio Capello singled out Ronaldo, while ex-president Giovanni Cobolli Gigli suggested Juve should never have spent €100million to sign the forward in 2018.

Ramos, though, has backed Ronaldo and hopes Madrid can avoid a similar fate to Juve when they take on Atalanta in the second leg of their last-16 tie next week, the LaLiga side holding a 1-0 advantage.

"He is the flagship of Juventus," Ramos added. "You think of Juve and you think of Cristiano.

"If a bad streak comes, we only talk about the captain and the coach. It's something you have to stay away from. Cris makes a difference.

"Nothing guarantees success. Any team can beat you in the Champions League. Barca fell yesterday, Juventus the day before. It could happen to anyone, but hopefully not us."

Timo Werner's unproductive spell at Chelsea may be over after one season.

The Germany international only signed from RB Leipzig ahead of this season.

He has largely underwhelmed with five goals from 27 Premier League appearances.

 

TOP STORY – WERNER COULD LEAVE CHELSEA

Football Insider reports Werner is prepared to quit Chelsea less than 12 months into a bumper five-year contract.

Werner netted 28 Bundesliga goals for RB Leipzig in 2019-20 but that return has drastically fallen since moving to London.

It is said there is a growing expectation that Werner will leave in the next year or two, despite the arrival of countryman Thomas Tuchel, which has led to a slight upturn in form.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero has been offered a contract by Barcelona, according to TyC Sports. City have publicly declared they will not make a call on off-contract Aguero's future until the close season.

- AS reports that Real Madrid are willing to listen to offers for French centre-back Raphael Varane this close season. It is claimed he is interested in playing in the Premier League.

- Milan are keen to sign 22-year-old PSV forward Donyell Malen, according to Calciomercato. This is despite the probable renewal of veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

- Bild reports that Wolfsburg coach Oliver Glasner is ready to quit his post amid a breakdown in his relationship with sporting director Jorg Schmadtke, with Borussia Monchengladbach a potential new home with Marco Rose to depart for Borussia Dortmund.

Diego Simeone has clarified comments made regarding Joao Felix after recalling the forward for Atletico Madrid's 2-1 win against Athletic Bilbao.

Speaking on the eve of Wednesday's LaLiga clash at the Wanda Metropolitano, Simeone appeared to call into question the Portugal international's lack of work-rate.

"We are a team, not just one player," he told reporters. "We need everyone's contribution so that the team can function as a team, and that individuals and talent can excel."

Joao Felix has scored two goals in his past 16 games and was dropped to the bench for the 1-1 draw with Real Madrid at the weekend, but he played 67 minutes against Athletic.

However, Simeone insists his remarks were misconstrued as he was talking in a more general manner, rather than about the 21-year-old specifically.

"Either I express myself badly, they interpret me badly or they just do what they want," he said at his post-match news conference.

"I speak of a general will. It is the most important thing in life; without it, the rest does not exist."

Atletico's win over Athletic in their game in hand moved them six points clear of Barcelona at the top of LaLiga and a further two points in front of Real Madrid.

Iker Muniain gave the visitors the lead in the Spanish capital, but Marcos Llorente equalised in first-half stoppage time and Luis Suarez scored a penalty winner in the 51st minute.

It was just Atleti's second win in five matches in all competitions during a patchy spell and Simeone was pleased with the way they responded to a late setback against Madrid, when Karim Benzema equalised in the 88th minute.

"It was very important how they reacted after Sunday. We needed to return to winning ways at home," said Simeone, who has overtaken Luis Aragones for the most wins in charge of Atletico with 309 in all competitions.  

"What I liked the most was that it went from a bad moment with them the better team and well positioned, to us being on top. 

"The second half was very good, and we are now level with the others in terms of the number of games played."

Llorente's headed equaliser was his ninth LaLiga goal of the campaign, adding to his eight assists in what has been an impressive season for the Spain international.

Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes (26) is the only midfielder to have been directly involved in more goals in Europe's top five leagues this term than Llorente, who has emerged as one of Atletico's star men over the past year.

"Marcos, for a year, had no minutes. He was on the bench but continued training, working hard and had that will that leads you to be at this moment," Simeone said. 

"He is very important for us and surely for the national team as well."

Suarez won the penalty that he converted – the striker being tripped in the box by Unai Nunez – and has now earned Atletico 15 points from his 18 league goals this term.

That is four points more than any other individual has won their side in the Spanish top flight in 2020-21, but Simeone reiterated Atleti's title charge is a collective effort.

"I look to the group as a whole because individuals alone do not change a game," he said. 

"The team understood that we were not having a good time – they looked for order and then the group and the team generated a second half that we liked a lot."

Athletic were unhappy with the awarding of the decisive penalty and also argued that Llorente's goal should not have stood, coming as it did 17 seconds after the allotted two added minutes.

Marcelino, whose side are without a point away to Atletico since May 2015, felt the scoreline was harsh on his side as the hosts scored two goals from five shots on target.

"I am very satisfied with the performance of my side and I'm sad with the result because Atletico essentially took advantage of one hundred percent of their chances," he said.

Diego Simeone has overtaken Luis Aragones for the most wins ever as head coach of Atletico Madrid.

The Argentine coach picked up his 309th victory in charge in Wednesday's 2-1 comeback win against Athletic Bilbao - a result that moves Atleti six points clear at the top of LaLiga.

Iker Munian had given Athletic the lead at the Wanda Metropolitano, but Marcos Llorente equalised late in the first half and Luis Suarez converted a penalty early in the second.

Simeone's latest win came in his 514th match in charge. Aragones, the only other man to have taken charge of more games, reached 308 wins in 612 matches.

Atleti have drawn 121 times and lost 84 games under Simeone, who took over in December 2011 and has gone on to be their most successful manager of all time.

#OnThisDay in 2011, @Simeone took over.

499 games
300 wins
LaLiga
Europa League
UEFA Super Cup
Copa del Rey
Spanish Super Cup

#AúpaAtleti pic.twitter.com/6U8bdMUwX2

— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) December 23, 2020 TROPHIES

Aragones, a star for Atletico as a player, won six trophies as head coach. Simeone, with seven, is the only man with more.

In a little over nine years in charge, the former Argentina midfielder has led Atletico to two UEFA Super Cups, two Europa Leagues, one Supercopa de Espana, one Copa del Rey and, most famously, their only LaLiga title in the past 25 years back in 2013-14.

Simeone has helped to tip the balance of power somewhat in Spain's capital. He is the only coach to have won three finals against Real Madrid in three different competitions: the Copa del Rey (2013), the Supercopa de Espana (2014) and the UEFA Super Cup (2018).

He has twice faced them in the Champions League final, too, losing after extra time in 2014 and on penalties two years later.


TRAILBLAZING

Among South American coaches, only Helenio Herrera (359) has taken charge of more LaLiga matches than Simeone (353).

All of those have been with Atletico, of course. There are just two coaches to oversee more LaLiga games at a single club: Aragones at Atletico (407) and Miguel Munoz at Real Madrid (424).

Munoz won 357 of his 605 games in charge of Los Blancos in all competitions, so Simeone has a little way to go to surpass that tally. Still, he has already won more games than Barcelona record-holder Johan Cruyff, who won 244 times out of 421 matches.

TITANS

Antoine Griezmann is the player to score the most goals under Simeone at Atletico, with 133 in all competitions.

The rest of the top five includes Diego Costa (75), Radamel Falcao (58), Koke (44) and Saul Niguez (43).

Koke leads the way for assists, with 95, comfortably clear of Griezmann (46), Gabi (44), Angel Correa (43) and Juanfran (32).

Atletico Madrid recovered from a goal behind to beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday and move six points clear at the top of LaLiga.

Diego Simeone's men had won just one of their last four league matches, most recently drawing 1-1 with Real Madrid, but made their game in hand count to put some distance between themselves and Barcelona.

Marcos Llorente equalised for Atletico late in the first half after Iker Munian had opened the scoring and Luis Suarez converted a penalty he won early in the second period to put the hosts in front.

Atleti were far from their best but saw things through from that point to pick up a landmark 309th victory under Simeone in all competitions, seeing him surpass Luis Aragones with the most wins for the club.

Athletic have not picked up a point away to Atletico since May 2015 but they went ahead through their first attempt on target of the contest after 21 minutes.

Inaki Williams got in behind the home side's defence and pulled the ball back for Munian to miscue a shot past Jan Oblak from 12 yards.

Atletico gathered momentum towards the end of the first half and levelled in added time thanks to Llorente's header, which took a touch off Unai Nunez on its way through.

The turnaround was complete six minutes after the restart as Suarez sent Unai Simon the wrong way from the penalty spot after being tripped by Nunez.

Yannick Carrasco was unable to convert when set up by Suarez, who was taken off with 18 minutes to play in a defensive move from Simeone, but Nunez's header into the hands of Oblak was the closest the visitors came to an equaliser.
 

What does it mean? Atleti back on track on milestone occasion

Barca and Real Madrid had closed the gap on stuttering Atletico in recent weeks, but the pacesetters are now six points clear of Barca and a further two in front of Los Blancos. 

Simeone celebrated both goals wildly and the long-serving Atleti coach has more reasons than one to celebrate this victory, which leaves Atletico well on course for a first title since 2013-14.

He matched Aragones' win record with three points against Villarreal 10 days ago and has now surpassed the legendary manager with this latest triumph.

Llorente inspires Atletico

Suarez scored what proved to be the winner but Llorente deserves all the credit for dragging Atleti back on level terms - perhaps undeservedly - right at the end of the first half.

He has now been directly involved in 17 league goals this term, which is behind only Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes (26) among midfielders in Europe's top five leagues.

Oblak beaten again

There was a point earlier this season when Atletico's defence looked impenetrable, but they have now conceded in 10 of their last 11 matches in all competitions.

Oblak was unable to keep out Munian's first-half strike, meaning he has now conceded in his last five home league games - the goalkeeper's worst run in seven years at the club.

What's next?

Atletico make the short trip to Getafe on Saturday, while Athletic are away to Celta Vigo the following day.

Jesus Navas is looking forward to "the most beautiful derby in Spain" between Sevilla and Real Betis as he looks to put their Champions League exit behind them.

Julen Lopetegui's side lost 5-4 on aggregate to Borussia Dortmund in the last 16 after drawing 2-2 in the second leg in Germany.

The result was the latest setback for Sevilla, whose season is threatening to unravel after appearing so promising just weeks ago.

After losing once in 19 matches in all competitions from December 8 to February 13, Sevilla have only won once in their past six games.

Following a 3-2 loss to Dortmund in the first leg, they suffered a 2-0 home defeat to Barcelona in LaLiga and then allowed a 2-0 aggregate advantage to slip away against the Catalans in the Copa del Rey semi-final, losing 3-0 after extra time at Camp Nou on March 3.

A 2-1 defeat at Elche last week means Sevilla are now six points behind the top three in the table, albeit with a game in hand, and another loss against Betis would allow their fierce rivals to close to within just three points.

Navas hopes to bring some much-needed joy to Sevilla fans as they aim to keep their top-four hopes firmly in their own hands.

"The Gran Derbi is experienced with a lot of passion by the two sets of fans," Navas said via LaLiga.

"There is great excitement in the days beforehand, with all the desire to be able to win so that the fans are happy.

"It is so special because of the excitement and the desire to get the victory. You experience it to the fullest and with all the passion in the world.

"It's the most beautiful derby in Spain because of the excitement around it. When you get the win, the fans enjoy it to the fullest."

Betis defender Marc Bartra also acknowledges the importance of the fixture in a city where emotions run deep for the respective sides.

"It's a question of passion. On both sides, I think there's incredible passion," said the centre-back.

"It's the same city, the same houses, with the same families... in the city, you either support Real Betis or Sevilla. And that makes it extremely passionate. It's really, really great to experience it from within.

"My best memory is from the first one I played, no doubt about it. It was my first Gran Derbi, and I scored my first goal for Real Betis.

"It was a spectacular moment, in front of the Gol Sur, with an assist from Joaquin. It was a memorable day, which I will remember forever."

Gianluigi Donnarumma is out of contract at the end of the season, so where will he be playing in 2021-22?

The Milan and Italy goalkeeper – still in discussions with the Rossoneri – has attracted interest from across Europe.

Manchester United and Chelsea are reportedly circling.

 

TOP STORY – DONNARUMMA WANTED IN ENGLAND

Manchester United and Chelsea are considering signing Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma as a free agent, according to The Transfer Window podcast.

Donnarumma is out of contract at the end of the season, though Tuttosport reports he and Milan remain in contract discussions.

Serie A champions Juventus and Ligue 1 titleholders Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked.

Sky Sports says United are also targeting Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak amid doubts over David de Gea's future.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail claims United, Liverpool and Bayern Munich are eyeing Chelsea's Christian Pulisic. The United States international has found himself out of favour under new manager Thomas Tuchel at Stamford Bridge.

- The wish list of new Barcelona president Joan Laporta has been revealed. Sport reports aside from Manchester City defender Eric Garcia and Lyon captain Memphis Depay, Laporta is also targeting Sergio Aguero and Bayern star David Alaba, as well as in-demand Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

Arsenal want to sign Inter full-back Achraf Hakimi as a replacement for Hector Bellerin, according to the Telegraph. Bellerin has been linked to PSG and Barca.

- Sport Bild reports Bundesliga champions Bayern will let veteran defender Jerome Boateng leave amid his links with Chelsea.

Rivaldo believes Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos would be a good signing for bitter LaLiga rivals Barcelona.

Ramos is out of contract at the end of the season and the superstar defender is yet to agree a new contract with the LaLiga champions.

The 34-year-old Spain skipper has been linked to the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus.

Rivaldo, who won two LaLiga titles among other honours during his time with Barca, backed Ramos for a controversial move to Camp Nou.

"A player has to be professional, and if you have good offers, I don't think it's okay to hear them," former Brazil international Rivaldo told Betfair.

"Of course, Sergio Ramos would be a good signing for Barcelona. It would be historic and it would be controversial because of Sergio Ramos' history with Real Madrid."

Ramos has called Madrid home since joining from Sevilla in 2005, winning five LaLiga trophies, four Champions League titles, as many Club World Cup crowns and three UEFA Super Cup medals among 22 major honours at the Santiago Bernabeu.

There is also speculation over Lionel Messi's future, with the Barca skipper tipped to leave the Catalan powerhouse on a free transfer at season's end.

Messi – a record six-time Ballon d'Or winner – has been heavily linked with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Premier League leaders City.

"If I were [PSG head coach Mauricio] Pochettino, I would tell the owner of PSG that we'd better stay the way we are before bringing in Messi," Rivaldo said. "I like Messi, but [Kylian] Mbappe is at home and there would also be everyone in their team.

"It is difficult to talk about a change from Messi to Mbappe, because football is money and if Messi goes to PSG, he will have many economic benefits. But of course, Messi is already more than 30 years old and in PSG there is already Mbappe with 22 years. It is difficult.

"PSG, I repeat, I think they do not need any signings because they have a great team… but football is also a business."

Lionel Messi's history with newly elected Barcelona president Joan Laporta is a good thing for the club but it still may not be enough to convince the six-time Ballon d'Or winner to stay, accepts Ronald Koeman.

Laporta was confirmed as the permanent successor to Josep Maria Bartomeu on Sunday, winning over 50 per cent of the votes in the long-delayed elections.

Bartomeu left the club in October last year after facing the brunt of the criticism in response to Messi's attempted departure, with the player publicly castigating him and accusing him of reneging on promises.

Laporta had long been seen as the favourite for Sunday's election due to holding the post from 2003 to 2010, one of the club's most successful eras and the period that elevated Messi from youth prospect to global superstar.

Resolving Messi's future is now one of Laporta's chief focuses, with the Barca captain previously suggesting he will only look to stay beyond June – when his contract expires – if the club is competitive.

Laporta routinely emphasised his relationship with Messi during his election campaign, adamant he was the only one of the three candidates able to ensure the player would stay, but Koeman knows the decision ultimately rests with the captain.

"I don't know if it's more likely for Messi to continue [at Barca now Laporta is president]," the Barca boss told reporters on Tuesday ahead of the Champions League last-16 second leg with Paris Saint-Germain.

"It's true that Laporta has a past with Leo and other players. That is positive, but I don't know [if that will help] – he has said that he will decide.

"Only Leo knows what he will do. Hopefully, he continues with us. We all want him to stay.

"Laporta won the election by a considerable distance. The members voted and for the club, it is good to have a president like him to work things out and improve things for the future of this club."

Koeman's own future has been a subject of contention connected to the election, with numerous reports suggesting other coaches had been sounded out by the various candidates.

Mikel Arteta and Xavi are the two names to have been linked most prominently with Koeman's job in recent weeks, but the former Netherlands coach insists he has only received positive vibes from his new boss and those who have worked with him before.

"I know Laporta, we've greeted each other several times in the past. I also know [Frank] Rijkaard well, who worked with him here when Laporta was president last time," he said.

"Laporta gives the coaches a lot of confidence and also his players. He is very involved in his role of helping both. In the end, everything depends on the results."

When asked to relay what Laporta said while addressing the team on Monday, Koeman added: "They were normal things. It went well, he said a few words to the players and staff in the dressing room and there were good vibes.

"Now we have to continue on the path we have started on. Tomorrow [against PSG] we have to continue on that."

Barcelona prospect  Ilaix Moriba could be tempted away from the Catalan giants.

Ilaix, 18, made headlines with a goal in his third LaLiga appearance for the Blaugrana on Saturday.

But Barca have limited wage capacity and Ilaix has received "several offers".

 

TOP STORY – SEVERAL OFFERS FOR BARCA TEENAGER

Teenager Moriba has become instant hot property with "several offers" to tempt him away from Barcelona, according to Marca.

The Guinea-born midfielder's agent, whom he shares with Gareth Bale, is in drawn-out discussions with the club, the publication says.

Marca's report does not identify who the potential suitors are, but if Ilaix continues a breakout season, the interest will inevitably grow, giving the player and his representatives more bargaining power.

Manchester United were earlier this week linked with the youngster in Mundo Deportivo.

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