Barcelona are proud to have Ronald Koeman as head coach and must trust him as they once did Frank Rijkaard, says president Joan Laporta.

Ex-Netherlands boss Koeman appeared to be on the brink of being sacked by Barca when widespread reports ahead of the match with Atletico Madrid on Saturday suggested it would be his last at the helm.

But Laporta came out to insist Koeman would be staying with the club regardless of the result, which proved to be the case despite the Catalans suffering a disappointing 2-0 away defeat in LaLiga.

That left them ninth in the table, while they are bottom of Champions League Group E after woeful defeats to Bayern Munich and Benfica.

Koeman said he was grateful to have been given "clarity" over his future after a meeting with Laporta, with the president citing the backing he had once given Rijkaard, who went on to secure Champions League glory in 2006.

Laporta explained he recognises the difficulties Koeman has had after the departure of talisman Lionel Messi, financial chaos at the club and a long injury list.

"The decision is that Koeman continues," he said to RAC1.

"Everyone, including him, is discouraged at the moment - things have happened that we did not want. 

"But he wants Barca to do well. He has a valid contract and he has to be respected. I am happy with the decision."

 

Laporta continued: "As president I have evaluated everything, I have listened to people I trust and I have come to the conclusion that I must trust and support him as I did with Rijkaard. 

"He is a cule like us, he loves Barça and he is a legend of this club.

"Indeed, has decided to come to us during a moment of sporting and institutional crisis. 

"I wanted to know if he trusted the team and he responded positively and forcefully. He said he needed time to recover the injured players and I saw a person determined to continue."

 

A host of other coaches have been connected with the Barca job, with Koeman's contract due to expire in 2022. Club great Xavi is persistently linked to the role.

Laporta added: "People can think what they want. 

"With Xavi I speak frequently because we are friends. Also with Pep [Guardiola]. I like to know what they think because they know more than me.

"But the coach we have is Koeman. We are proud to have him as a coach."

Joan Laporta has revealed he hoped Lionel Messi would make a last-ditch offer to play for free to avoid him leaving Barcelona.

Messi ended up moving to Paris Saint-Germain in a blockbuster free transfer move in August.

It came after long negotiations over his new Barcelona contract reached a point where the Catalan giants could no longer afford to renew his terms while complying with the financial rules in LaLiga.

Messi, who this week insisted he had not made a mistake in joining PSG, was in tears as he attended his farewell news conference at Camp Nou and admitted he was leaving against his will.

Barca president Laporta was holding out hope Messi would end up staying without taking a salary but ultimately felt it was unreasonable to expect that from the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"With Messi I do not get angry because I appreciate him," Laporta said to RAC1. "I love him too much to be angry.

"I know he had a huge desire to stay, but also a lot of pressure because of the offer he had. 

"Everyone knew that he had a very powerful offer. Everything indicated that he already had the offer from PSG and would go there if he did not stay."

Laporta added: "There comes a time when you see that things just cannot happen, and there was disappointment on both sides.

"When it came to making the decision, I thought I was doing the best thing for Barcelona - nothing can put the institution at risk.

"I did hope that at the last minute there would be a change and Messi would say that he would play for free. 

"I would have liked that and he would have convinced me. I understand that the league would have accepted it. But we cannot expect that from a player of his level.

"We have a very good relationship. I knew that if we recovered financially we would compensate him, but we couldn't make demands knowing the offer he had in Paris."

Messi scored his first PSG goal in the Champions League win over Manchester City last week but has failed to score in his first three Ligue 1 appearances, including Sunday's shock 2-0 loss to Rennes.

Gavi has fast become the talk of Spanish football.

The 17-year-old is a regular for Barcelona and now an international for Luis Enrique's Spain.

His exploits have reportedly attracted interest from Europe's elite.

 

TOP STORY – TRIO CHASING GAVI

Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool and Manchester United are interested in Barcelona and Spain sensation Gavi, according to El Nacional.

Gavi has enjoyed a rapid rise at Camp Nou this season, while he earned his first international cap in Spain's Nations League semi-final success against Italy on Wednesday.

PSG, Liverpool and United are eyeing Gavi as Barca try to extend the 17-year-old's contract, claims Mundo Deportivo.

 

ROUND-UP

- ABC claims Liverpool have set their sights on Real Madrid attacker Marco Asensio, who is reportedly unhappy at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Juventus and Inter are eyeing Bayern Munich centre-back Niklas Sule, says Calciomercato. The Germany international, who is out of contract at the end of the season, has also been linked with Chelsea.

- Bundesliga champions Bayern are monitoring PSV winger Cody Gakpo. The 22-year-old is seen as an ideal replacement Kingsley Coman, who is reportedly wanted by the likes of Liverpool and United.

Valencia and Real Betis are battling to sign out-of-favour Inter forward Alexis Sanchez, per Calciomercato. The Chilean forward has also emerged as a target for Rayo Vallecano.

Mauro Icardi could swap PSG for Juve as the Serie A side view the former Inter captain as an alternative to Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. Vlahovic is set to leave Fiorentina amid links with Manchester City, Tottenham, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal and Inter.

Luis Suarez says the phone call in which Ronald Koeman told him he was surplus to requirements at Barcelona lasted only 40 seconds.

Koeman wasted little time in deciding to move Suarez on after the Dutchman took the reins at Camp Nou in August last year, with Atletico Madrid the beneficiaries.

It came as a surprise to many, not least of all Suarez himself, with the Uruguay international having enjoyed a prolific six years in Catalonia.

The former Liverpool forward scored 198 goals and provided 97 assists in 283 games, winning LaLiga four times and the Champions League in 2015.

Suarez was on the scoresheet as Atletico ran out 2-0 winners over Barca at the start of this month, piling the pressure on Koeman, who watched on as the player he let go celebrated by pretending to take a phone call – a gesture Suarez insisted was not aimed at his old boss.

Speaking to Gerard Romero on Twitch regarding his departure, Suarez revealed: "The call from Koeman to tell me that [I wasn't in his plans] lasted 40 seconds, it's not the way to say goodbye to a legend.

"First he told me that I wasn't in his plans, and then he told me that if I didn't get my contract sorted out I was going to play against Villarreal.

"He lacked the personality to tell me clearly if he didn't want me or if it was really the club that didn't want me."

 

Suarez left at a time when Lionel Messi was also seeking to move on and he admitted it had been a tough period.

"They were very difficult days because of everything I gave to the club," he added.

"I spoke to Sofia [Suarez's wife] and Leo after the phone call. It was a complicated year due to everything.

"Messi asked to leave and I was being sent away. Both of our families had a very bad time."

LaLiga president Javier Tebas says he has figures to prove Paris Saint-Germain have used deception to avoid breaching Financial Fair Play regulations.

Tebas has regularly criticised PSG in recent months and branded the Ligue 1 giants "the enemy" after they moved to bring in Lionel Messi on a free transfer from Barcelona.

Messi was added to a star-studded list of players at the Parc des Princes that also includes Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, the two most expensive footballers of all time.

PSG also secured the services of Achraf Hakimi for a fee reportedly rising to €70million during the close season, while Sergio Ramos, Georginio Wijnaldum and Gianluigi Donnarumma joined on free transfers.

Tebas continued his war of words with the French club on Thursday in an interview with L'Equipe, once again accusing them of spending more money than they generate.

"I can show, with figures, their deception against Financial Fair Play," Tebas said. "Before Messi, PSG had 40 per cent more income for sponsorship than Manchester United.

"If Messi and Neymar remain at PSG, I don't care. It's just that this hurts a lot of European football. I'm not alone in saying it.

"I criticise them because they cannot bring in the money for the squad they have. It causes a distortion of competition. It does not correspond to the actual sponsorship.

"How can they explain that they have a squad of almost €600m? If they win Ligue 1, they will not generate more than €45m. It is impossible. 

"I invited president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and the French league chief [Vincent Labrune] to show them the numbers we have and where the irregularities are. They didn't answer me.

"They are quick to criticise me, but they do not answer."

Kylian Mbappe is still in talks with Paris Saint-Germain over a contract extension, according to the Real Madrid target's mother Fayza Lamari.

France international Mbappe revealed earlier this week he asked to leave PSG in July after deciding he did not want to extend his stay at the Parc des Princes.

The 22-year-old is due to become a free agent at the end of the 2021-22 campaign and can sign a pre-contract agreement with a new club from January 1.

However, Mbappe's mother has suggested there is still a chance the superstar forward could remain a PSG player beyond next year.

"We are talking right now with PSG and all is well," Lamari told Le Parisien.

"I spoke last night with [PSG sporting director] Leonardo. Will we reach a solution? One thing is clear. He is going to give everything until the end to win the Champions League."

Mbappe's revelation this week that he wanted out of PSG in the close season sparked fresh speculation over a possible mid-season switch to Madrid.

The Spanish side are reported to have had three bids turned down for the former Monaco man in July and August, the last one said to be worth up to €200million.

Speaking shortly after Mbappe's interview was published, Madrid president Florentino Perez said he was hopeful his future will be resolved in January.

PSG director Leonardo accused Madrid of lacking respect, but the decision over where Mbappe will ply his trade next season will ultimately come down to the player.

"Kylian needs to be happy," said Lamari, who handles her son's business interests. "If he is sad, he is capable of saying 'I give it up'. And he says that often! 

"With Kylian, everything can change from one day to the next."

 

Mbappe has scored 136 goals in 182 games for PSG since joining from Ligue 1 rivals Monaco in August 2017 on an initial loan deal, which was made permanent the following year.

That tally is bettered only by Cristiano Ronaldo (149), now team-mate Lionel Messi (163) and Robert Lewandowski (191) across that period among players from Europe's top five leagues in all competitions.

Mbappe's 61 assists over the same timeframe is the sixth-highest total, meanwhile, with Bayern Munich's Thomas Muller leading the way with 75.

The 22-year-old has made a largely underwhelming start to the 2021-22 campaign, however, having scored only four goals in 11 appearances, though he does have five assists.

That includes a run of 17 shots without scoring in Ligue 1 since netting against Clermont Foot on September 11.

Paul Pogba's future with Manchester United has been a constant point of speculation for the past few years.

The 2018 World Cup winner is into the last season of a five-year deal with the Red Devils.

Pogba has been on United's books since returning from Juventus in 2016.

TOP STORY – POGBA TO PEN BUMPER NEW DEAL

Paul Pogba has decided he wants to extend his stay with Manchester United, claims L'Equipe.

The French midfielder has been linked with a move away from Old Trafford, with interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid, as well as return to Juventus.

Pogba's renewal is expected to command one of the highest salaries in Premier League history.

ROUND-UP

- AS reports that Borussia Dortmund will double Erling Haaland's salary in a bid to ward off interest from Spanish pair Real Madrid and Barcelona, as well as Manchester City and Chelsea. Dortmund will bump the Norwegian's wages up from €8million to €15m in order to keep him, with the release clause in his contract to activate next off-season.

- Former Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey is to be put up for sale by Juventus, according to the Daily Mail. Juve are ready to listen to offers for the Wales midfielder, who has fallen out of favour in Turin.

- Liverpool have entered the race to sign Fiorentina's Serbian forward Dusan Vlahovic, according to the Mirror. Vlahovic's contract talks with Fiorentina have collapsed.

- Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks is willing to make a January loan move away from Spurs and is open to moving abroad, claims The Times.

- Calciomercato reports that River Plate's 21-year-old Argentina international Julian Alvarez is drawing attention from city rivals Inter and Milan .

- French defender Samuel Umtiti will be made available in January by financially-embattled Barcelona, reports Sport. Umtiti has not played in LaLiga this season.

Lionel Messi insisted he did not make a mistake leaving boyhood club Barcelona for Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi joined PSG on a free transfer after Barca were unable to re-sign the six-time Ballon d'Or winner due to their financial crisis.

It ended Messi's long-standing association with Barca, having made his senior debut for the LaLiga powerhouse in 2004-05.

Messi won 35 trophies at Camp Nou, scoring a record 672 goals across all competitions.

Now settling into life with PSG in the French capital, Messi said he is happy with his decision.

"I didn't make a mistake in going to PSG," Messi told France Football in a preview of his interview, which will be published in full on Saturday.

Since making the move to PSG, Messi has scored once – a goal in the club's 2-0 Champions League win over Manchester City.

The 34-year-old is yet to find the back of the net in Ligue 1, where PSG suffered a shock 2-0 loss at Rennes last week.

It snapped PSG's perfect start to the league season after eight consecutive wins, though Messi's men are still six points clear atop the table through nine rounds.

Barcelona recorded losses of €481million for the 2020-21 financial year, the club announced on Wednesday.

After a tumultuous year, which ended with Lionel Messi leaving the club as the Catalans could not afford his contract, Barca's revenue was €631m. This fell well below the €828m set in the budget.

With expenditure of a record €1.136billion, up from €955m, Barca posted an operating loss of €505m, a net loss of €555m and a post-tax loss of €481m.

The Blaugrana cited "falling revenues and the inability to contain spending" during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Barca acknowledged they had calculated their loss even without the pandemic at €390m.

Their net debt subsequently stood at €680m, according to LFP criteria, although €122m of this was due to the investment in the Espai Barca project, which is renovating club facilities. Barca's bank debt was €533m.

Dusan Vlahovic decision not to extend his Fiorentina contract is set to spark a bidding war.

Fiorentina had been hopeful of re-signing their star forward.

Now, Europe's elite are reportedly queuing up to sign the Serbia international.

 

TOP STORY – VLAHOVIC EYEING JUVE MOVE

Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic is dreaming of a move to Juventus, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

Vlahovic's future is a hot topic after Fiorentina announced the Serbia international will not re-sign in Florence.

Contracted to Fiorentina until 2023, Vlahovic has been tipped to make the move to Juve like former Viola team-mate Federico Chiesa, while Manchester City, Tottenham, Atletico Madrid, Inter and Arsenal have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport says City forward Raheem Sterling is open to a loan move to Barcelona in January. Sterling has found himself out of favour under Pep Guardiola in Manchester.

Manchester United are prioritising a new right-back in January to provide competition for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, reports 90min. Rangers' Nathan Patterson and Max Aarons of Norwich City have been linked.

- It is only a matter of weeks before Lautaro Martinez extends his Inter contract, per Fabrizio Romano. Inter are also set to open talks with midfielder Marcelo Brozovic.

- Roma have re-opened talks to sign Denis Zakaria from Borussia Monchengladbach, claims Gianluca Di Marzio. Zakaria is out of contract at the end of the season, though Roma are set to try to bring in the Gladbach star in January. 

- The Daily Mail claims Tottenham are eyeing Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger. The Germany international is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked with Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Juve, Real Madrid and Atletico.

Milan are monitoring Salzburg trio Luka Sucic, Brenden Aaronson and Maurtis Kjaergaard, according to Calciomercato.

Raphael Varane said France are united in the good and bad moments after star team-mate Kylian Mbappe revealed he considered taking a break from international football following Les Bleus' Euro 2020 disappointment.

Mbappe missed the decisive penalty as France sensationally crashed out of Euro 2020 at the hands of Switzerland in the round of 16.

The 22-year-old, who was embroiled in a pre-tournament public war of words with fellow forward Olivier Giroud, ended the European Championships without a goal amid links with Real Madrid.

Following reports of Mbappe being a disruptive figure within the France team, the Paris Saint-Germain sensation felt a lack of support in the aftermath of the country's Euro 2020 exit.

As France prepare for Thursday's Nations League semi-final against Belgium, Varane was asked about Mbappe's comments.

"I think that in the group, it's quite clear and it was immediately clear after the match, that we are together," France and Manchester United defender Varane told reporters.

"When things go well and when they don't go well, we take responsibility together and we don't leave anyone out.

"That's the state of mind of this group and that's our mentality. Our philosophy. We're not going to change that."

Talk of Mbappe moving to LaLiga giants Madrid has intensified after the Frenchman revealed he told PSG of his intention to leave the capital club at the start of the season.

Mbappe, who is out of contract at the end of 2021-22, has made no secret of his desire to join Madrid, where countryman Karim Benzema, head coach Carlo Ancelotti and Los Blancos president Florentino Perez have spoken openly about the PSG target.

Varane, who left Madrid for Premier League powerhouse United before the transfer window closed, added: "For Kylian, it's simply his future, he's the one who decides, he's the one who has the maturity to choose with his family.

"Whether he stays or goes, he knows. I think he is down to earth and he knows clearly what he wants. I think it's not my role to advise him or to make a decision for him. He knows very well on his own."

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo hit out at Real Madrid for their "lack of respect" for the Ligue 1 giants and Kylian Mbappe amid their public pursuit of the French star.

After soon-to-be free agent Mbappe confirmed this week that he had asked to leave PSG before the start of the season, Madrid president Florentino Perez seemed to suggest the France international could join the LaLiga powerhouse in January.

While Perez claimed he was misinterpreted, Madrid star Karim Benzema said a move to the Santiago Bernabeu is a "question of time" as Los Blancos head coach Carlo Ancelotti told reporters he hoped Mbappe "enjoys himself" in the Spanish capital.

Leonardo has not taken kindly to Madrid's open desire to sign the 22-year-old.

"This is another example of the lack of respect for PSG and for Mbappe," Leonardo said in an interview with L'Equipe.

"In fact, in the same week a Real Madrid player [Karim Benzema], then the Real Madrid coach [Carlo Ancelotti].

"Now the president [Florentino Perez] talks about Kylian as if he was already one of their own. I repeat: this is a lack of respect that we cannot tolerate."

Mbappe has scored four goals and supplied three assists in nine Ligue 1 appearances this season, while he is yet to add to his tally in the Champions League through two matchdays.

Memphis Depay insists he "would never regret" moving to Barcelona despite Los Cules' difficult start to the season.

The Dutch forward moved to Camp Nou from Lyon on a free transfer but never got the chance to link up with Lionel Messi, who left the club amid financial difficulties and joined Paris Saint-Germain.

In the Argentine's absence, Barcelona have underwhelmed, losing both their Champions League group-stage games so far 3-0 to sit bottom of the group and managing just three wins from their first seven LaLiga outings.

Depay, however, is adamant that the privilege of playing for the Catalan giants is more than enough to justify his decision to join, regardless of recent form.

"How could you ask [if I regret the timing of my move to Barcelona]? It's Barcelona. I don't think you understand how big this club is and what it means for a player if you move to a club like this. I would never regret it," Depay said.

The 27-year-old was bullish about the Blaugrana's chances of turning their season around, dismissing the notion that his new side could be written off amid the mounting pressure on head coach Ronald Koeman after their slow start.

"Despite results, I'm really happy at the club," Depay continued. "It's been a difficult time [for the team]. I don't want to talk about that much, but people are acting like the season is already over.

"There are so many games to play. Everything is still open. But as a player, you feel responsible and you take responsibility. You care. Every player takes responsibility at Barca. That's normal for a club like Barcelona.

"We know what the situation is right now. We know it's difficult. [Playing with] young players, a lot of injuries. But I think [it's just a matter of time].

"Everybody is panicking and for a club like Barcelona it's a new situation. They're used to winning everything with beautiful football. This is a new situation, but I am not worried. I'm sure we will turn things around."

Depay has started the campaign well on an individual level, scoring three goals and notching an assist in his seven league appearances, and will be hoping to bolster those numbers when Barcelona host Valencia in their next game on October 17.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has claimed he was misinterpreted after he seemed to suggest Kylian Mbappe could join the club in January. 

Mbappe, whose Paris Saint-Germain contract expires at the end of the season, will be free to negotiate with clubs from the turn of the year if the 22-year-old has not agreed a new deal in the French capital.

It would seem Mbappe has no intention of doing so, with the forward having confirmed this week that he asked to leave PSG in July, while explaining that there has been no further negotiations.

Los Blancos are reported to have made three bids for the France international during the last transfer window, the last one said to be worth around €200million.

However, Perez said on El Debate that Madrid remain confident of signing Mbappe, who claimed to be happy at PSG for the time being despite the speculation.

"In January we will have news from Mbappe," Perez said on Tuesday. "We hope that on January 1 everything can be solved."

But Perez quickly backtracked, saying: "My words were misinterpreted.

"What I said is that we have to wait until next year to find out, always with respect to PSG with whom we have good relations."

Madrid were granted a salary cap boost of €270m, leaving them with a spending limit seven times greater than financially stricken Barcelona and Perez also found time to provide an update on the club's financial situation post-pandemic.

"It will probably take about three years for us to return to the figures we entered before the pandemic," he continued.

"We have gone from entering €900m to just over €600m."

Kylian Mbappe revealed he would only leave Paris Saint-Germain for Real Madrid as the forward claimed there have been no new contract discussions for two months.

Mbappe, who joined from Monaco in 2017, has become unsettled at the Parc des Princes with less than a year left on his contract and Madrid attempted to secure his services last transfer window.

Los Blancos are reported to have made three bids for the France international, the last one said to be worth up to €200 million.

However, Madris's advances were turned down and with the arrival of Lionel Messi, Mauricio Pochettino and the PSG board were seemingly confident of keeping Mbappe for the final year of his deal.

RMC released part of an interview – which will be published in full on Tuesday – on Monday, in which Mbappe confirmed he had made his intentions to leave clear to PSG in July.

Speaking about his future to French outlet L'Equipe, the 22-year-old said he believed his time at PSG was drawing to a natural conclusion, though revealed he would only have left for Madrid.

"This summer my ambition was clear, I wanted to leave and put the club in the best circumstances to bring in my replacement," Mbappe said.

"Right now, my future is not my priority. I've already wasted a lot of energy this summer, it's draining.

"I thought that my adventure [with PSG] was over. I wanted to discover something else. I'd been in the French league six or seven years. I've given what I tried to at Paris and I think I've done it well. 

"To arrive at 18 post-youth development and do everything I have, I think that's something remarkable. Leaving was the logical next step. 

"I am attached to Paris, and if I had left this summer, it would have only been for Real."

Mbappe was also reported to have rejected a series of new contract offers, but he denied that was true as he remains content in Paris.

 

"I stayed and I'm really happy," he continued. 

"At no point during the season will you hear behaviour along the lines of 'you didn't let me leave, I'm going to take it easy.' I have too much love for football and too much respect for the club and for myself, to take it easy even for one game.

"With regard to my situation, we haven't been discussing a renewal for [over[ two months, since I said I wanted to leave.

"When I say that lots of things were heard, I'm talking about something else – people said that I turned down six or seven renewal offers, no way! 

"People were saying that I didn't want to talk to [sporting director] Leonardo, even though it's the president [Nasser Al-Khelaifi] who wanted to take things over. 

"When I'm told to speak with the president, I'm not going to say no. People were saying I was planning on messing around in the dressing room – again, not at all."

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