Will he stay or will he go?

That is the question regarding Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, who is a reported target for Real Madrid and Liverpool.

If Mbappe opts to call time on his PSG stall, the French champions are still aiming high.

 

TOP STORY – LIFE WITHOUT MBAPPE IN PARIS?

Paris Saint-Germain are more determined than ever to give head coach Mauricio Pochettino a dream forward line amid doubts over Kylian Mabppe's future, according to Le10 Sport.

Mbappe – out of contract in 2022 – has been heavily linked with LaLiga champions Real Madrid and Premier League holders Liverpool.

If Mbappe does not remain in Paris, PSG will step up their pursuit of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

 

ROUND-UP

Massimiliano Allegri has turned down Roma as he waits for Madrid, repots Todofichajes. Zinedine Zidane is under mounting pressure in the Spanish capital, while it is a similar situation for Roma boss Paulo Fonseca.

Manchester City are willing to sign a striker and Messi this offseason, according to The Athletic. With City yet to offer Sergio Aguero a new deal, Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland and Inter pair Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku are reported targets as Pep Guardiola's side also eye soon-to-be free agent Messi.

- Fabrizio Romano says Liverpool have agreed to sign Ben Davies from Preston North End ahead of Monday's deadline day. Jurgen Klopp has been eyeing a defender due to the club's injury crisis.

Dele Alli's proposed switch from Tottenham to PSG is not progressing, reports Romano. Struggling for game time at Spurs, Alli has been keen for a loan move to PSG, but Tottenham are unwilling to sanction a departure as Inter block Christian Eriksen's return.

Leicester City are the frontrunners to sign Arsenal's Ainsley Maitland-Niles, claims The Mirror.

Barcelona's financial situation is due to the coronavirus pandemic and not Lionel Messi, insisted LaLiga president Javier Tebas.

Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported on Sunday that the deal superstar captain Messi signed in 2017 – due to expire at season's end – is worth more than €555million over four years.

It comes after Messi attempted to leave Camp Nou prior to the 2020-21 campaign and amid Barca's financial woes caused by the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis.

But Tebas wrote via Twitter: "Barcelona's delicate financial situation [like other big clubs] is not Messi's fault but the devastating effect of COVID.

"Without the pandemic, the income generated by the best player in history would prop up that expenditure.

"The sensationalism that surrounds the matter is unfair."

Messi, who has been heavily linked with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Premier League giants Manchester City as his contract expires, scored his 650th Barca goal in Sunday's 2-1 LaLiga victory against Athletic Bilbao.

The six-time Ballon d'Or opened the scoring with a 20th-minute free-kick before Jordi Alba's own goal restored parity, though Griezmann secured maximum points 16 minutes from the end.

Messi has scored two direct free-kick goals from his last four attempts for Barcelona in all competitions, after scoring just one from his previous 62 attempts.

Of Messi's 650 goals for Barcelona, 49 of them have been direct free-kicks – 38 in LaLiga.

Messi has 12 goals and two assists in the league for Barca, who are second and 10 points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid.

Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann labelled Lionel Messi a "legend" after the superstar captain dominated headlines on Sunday.

After details of Messi's Barca contract were reported by El Mundo earlier in the day, the record six-time Ballon d'Or winner scored another landmark goal as the embattled LaLiga giants beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1.

Messi opened the scoring with a 20th-minute free-kick – his 650th goal for Barca – before Jordi Alba's own goal restored parity, though Griezmann secured maximum points 16 minutes from the end.

After El Mundo claimed the deal Messi signed at Camp Nou in 2017 – which expires at the end of the season – is worth more than €555million, Griezmann was asked about the 33-year-old's value.

"We are enjoying Messi, he's a legend," Griezmann told Movistar.

"Hopefully we can keep enjoying him and he can keep helping us win."

Messi – tipped to leave Barca amid strong links to Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City – has scored two direct free-kick goals from his last four attempts for Barcelona in all competitions, after scoring just one from his previous 62 attempts.

Of Messi's 650 goals for Barcelona, 49 of them have been direct free-kicks – 38 in LaLiga.

Messi has 12 goals and two assists in the league for Barca, who are second and 10 points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid.

Griezmann's late winner for Barca maintained his superb record against Athletic.

The France international has now been involved in 15 goals against the Basque side (nine goals and six assists), more than he has achieved against any other team in the competition.

Lionel Messi did not deserve his contract to be leaked to a newspaper, said Ronald Koeman, as the Barcelona head coach claimed there was an agenda to "hurt" the Argentine superstar.

A report by El Mundo claimed the deal Messi signed at Camp Nou in 2017, which expires at the end of this season, is worth more than €555million.

It was already believed that Messi was on an extraordinary salary at Barcelona, given he is recognised by many as the greatest current player of the world's most popular sport.

The leaking of the exact sums payable to Messi has caused a stir, coming at a time when embattled LaLiga giants Barcelona are reported to have built up debts of over €1billion.

Koeman rejected any suggestion that Messi's contract is in any way connected to Barcelona facing a financial hurdle, insisting he has "helped this club to make it very great".

The club's record scorer, who netted his 650th Barcelona goal in Sunday's 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao, could leave on a free transfer in a matter of months.

And Koeman vowed that if anyone employed by Barcelona was proven to have leaked private details, they would be shown the door.

"If you are part of the club, you have to help the club, the coaches, the players. If someone from the club has leaked this, they cannot have a future at this club," Koeman said.

"They are things that come out, that cannot come out. There are people who are interested in hurting Messi and Barca."

Messi is sure to have been unimpressed by his personal details making it into the public domain, but the record six-time Ballon d'Or winner did not let it impede his performance on the pitch against Athletic.

Speaking after the game, Koeman expressed alarm that anyone would want to cause upset in the ranks, particularly concerning Messi, a player destined to be remembered as an all-time great.

"You have to respect him, I see bad intention and desire to hurt," Koeman said, quoted by Mundo Deportivo.

"We must try to find out how this could have come out in the press and we have to focus on our work, that the team are well, and we cannot allow ourselves to lose focus over this issue."

Ronald Koeman said Barcelona "can't aspire to much" without Lionel Messi after the Argentinian scored another landmark goal in Sunday's 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao.

Messi was headline news earlier in the day when a report by El Mundo claimed the deal he signed at Camp Nou in 2017, which expires at the end of this season, is worth more than €555million.

He proved his worth to Barca with a fine free-kick midway through the first half - his 650th goal for the club - before Jordi Alba's own goal drew Athletic level early in the second half.

Antoine Griezmann secured all three points with the winner 16 minutes from time, though, to help Barca leapfrog Sevilla and Real Madrid into second in LaLiga, 10 points behind leaders Atletico Madrid.

Head coach Koeman was less than impressed with the details of Messi's contract surfacing, but insists the saga did not provide any additional motivation for a player he believes is the world's best.

"We've known, for quite some time, that he's the best in the world," the former Netherlands coach told Movistar Plus.

"He's done a lot for the club. He's decisive during games. You have to respect everything he's done. He's a great player, he gives us creativity in attack. Without Leo, you can't aspire to much."

Koeman added, according to Marca: "He hasn't been more motivated today [because of the reports]. What's happened has been for bad intentions, to cause harm.

"We have to be united and focused. Things that are published have to be put to the side, but it's tough."

It seems unlikely that Barca will rein in Atletico, who can move 13 points clear if they win their game in hand, but Koeman says his improving side have no intention of giving up hope of claiming the title.

"The team is improving," Koeman added. "There's concentration, mentality. I'm not saying we didn't have that before, but we're growing in confidence.

"It's important to be second. We want to be as high as possible. The gap to the leaders is big but we have to keep going."

Griezmann's late winner maintained his superb record against Athletic.

The France international has now been involved in 15 goals against the Basque side (nine goals and six assists), more than he has achieved against any other team in the competition.

The former Atletico Madrid forward was pleased to overcome an obdurate opponent and had words of praise for Ousmane Dembele, whose fine pass played in Oscar Mingueza in the build-up to the winning goal.

Griezmann told Movistar Plus: "Sometimes you play and sometimes you don't but in the end we are all part of this and we need everyone. Ousmane is playing very well, he is taking good care of himself and we try to ensure that he is in the best condition."

Lionel Messi showed exactly why he was given a lucrative contract as his 650th Barcelona goal helped Ronald Koeman's side to a slender 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao.

A report by El Mundo claimed the deal Messi signed at Camp Nou in 2017, which expires at the end of this season, is worth more than €555million.

He demonstrated his value to this Barca team midway through the first half on Sunday with his 49th successful free-kick strike for the Catalan giants.

Jordi Alba put through his own net early in the second half to draw Athletic level, but Antoine Greizmann ensured Barca leapfrogged Sevilla and Real Madrid into second - 10 points behind leaders Atletico Madrid - with a close-range finish 16 minutes from time.

Unai Simon twice denied Barca inside the opening seven minutes, first pawing away Messi’s clipped effort from close range before diverting Griezmann’s powerful drive over the crossbar.

There was little the Athletic goalkeeper could do to deny Messi after 20 minutes, the Argentinian whipping a sumptuous free-kick into the top right corner from 25 yards.

Ronald Araujo fizzed an effort wide soon after, while Ousmane Dembele lashed over from a promising position shortly before the interval as Barca dominated.

Athletic drew level four minutes after the interval, however, as Alba turned Raul Garcia's left-wing cross into his own net under pressure from Oscar De Marcos at the back post.

Simon superbly kept out Miralem Pjanic's header shortly before the hour mark, while Griezmann nodded wide from Dembele's teasing cross.

The France international had the final say, though, sliding home Oscar Mingueza's low cross into the roof of Simon's net to seal a fourth consecutive win in all competitions for Barca.

Lionel Messi scored his 650th goal for Barcelona with a sumptuous free-kick against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

The Argentina international whipped a shot into goalkeeper Unai Simon's top-left corner from 25 yards midway through the first half to put Barca 1-0 up in their LaLiga clash at Camp Nou.

Messi was in the headlines earlier in the day when leaked details of his eye-watering contract emerged.

A report by El Mundo claimed the deal Messi signed in 2017, which expires at the end of this season, is worth more than €555million.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner scored his first goal for Barca in May 2005 at the age of 17, beautifully lobbing Albacete goalkeeper Raul Valbuena.

He has gone on to become far and away the club's record scorer, overtaking Cesar Rodriguez's previous mark of 232 in 2012.

The eye-watering wages Lionel Messi is being paid by Barcelona have been leaked by El Mundo.

The lucrative contract signed by the Argentina international in November 2017, which is set to expire this year, was said to potentially be worth more than €555million.

According to the Spanish newspaper, that includes annual earnings in excess of €138m - dependent on some variables - as well as a renewal fee of over €115m and a loyalty bonus just shy of €78m.

The report says Messi has earned €29.8m of the €73.5m up for grabs in incentives, making the deal ultimately worth €511.5m to the superstar striker.

That would make the 33-year-old the world's best-paid athlete, seeing him bring in around five times the amount NBA great LeBron James makes.

But against a backdrop of financial woes, with Barca's accounts for 2019-20 showing a gross debt of €820m, have the Catalan giants really got value for their money?

We take a closer look at the figures involved behind the deal and provide a breakdown of Messi's worth to the side.

STRIKING IT RICH

Messi's contract renewal was made official on November 25, 2017, six months after reports emerged of the forward having turned down the club's initial offer.

At that point in his career, he had scored 523 goals in 602 appearances for the Catalans in all competitions - a staggering scoring rate that saw him break a number of records.

The Argentinian has continued to feature regularly for Barca since then, playing 152 times in all competitions.

That totals 12,678 minutes of playing time overall which, using the €511,540,548 figure Messi has received, equates to €40,349 per minute across that period - although this will decrease slightly by June as he continues to play.

The Barca number 10 has scored 126 goals in all competitions - 94 in LaLiga, 21 in the Champions League, 10 in the Copa del Rey and one in the Supercopa de Espana.

Using those same reported figures, Messi has therefore been paid €4,059,846 for every goal he has netted since putting pen to paper on his latest contract.

SCORING FIGURES DECLINING

Barcelona have not exactly enjoyed their greatest period on the field during that time, winning just four trophies - LaLiga twice and the Copa and Supercopa once apiece.

No player in LaLiga has scored (94) or assisted (45) more goals since November 2017 than Messi, while the 277 chances he has created is also a competition-high.

However, the one-club man's goalscoring figures have dropped off over the past two seasons.

Messi scored 36 league goals in 2018-19, two more than the previous campaign, compared to 25 last season and 11 in 17 games so far this term.

In terms of assists, he has just two this campaign, which is a huge decline on the 21 supplied last time out - a LaLiga record, surpassing Xavi's 20 in 2008-09.

IMPORTANCE DIMINISHING?

Coach Ronald Koeman has not been afraid to leave Messi out of his starting line-up on occasion this season and the statistics appear to show his importance to the team is dwindling.

Going back to 2017-18, the season in which the forward signed his lucrative deal, Barca's win rate in the league dropped from 81.2 per cent with Messi in the XI to 33.3 per cent without.

That is in stark contrast to the current campaign, in which Koeman's men actually have a better win rate without Messi in their starting line-up, albeit over a smaller number of games.

Barca have won 56.2 per cent of the 16 LaLiga games Messi has started this term, compared to 66.7 per cent of the three games in which he has not featured from the outset. They have not lost any of the matches Messi has missed.

Lionel Messi's contract details becoming public knowledge was not the fault of Barcelona, the LaLiga club have claimed.

A report by El Mundo claimed the deal Messi signed at Camp Nou in 2017, which expires at the end of this season, is worth more than €555million over the course of four years.

That would mean the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is in possession of the most lucrative contract in sports history - something that jars against Barcelona's worsening financial plight.

Accounts for the 2019-20 season showed the club's gross debt had reached €820m as the coronavirus pandemic began to take a considerable toll on their finances.

A fractious presidential election is set to conclude in March, with a strained relationship between Messi and the former board, headed by ex-president Josep Maria Bartomeu, having played a part in the superstar forward sensationally trying to force a transfer away from Barcelona last August.

In that context, Barca moved quickly on Sunday to offer assurances to their captain and pledged to take legal action against El Mundo.

"In view of the information published today in the newspaper El Mundo, in relation to the professional contract signed between FC Barcelona and the player Lionel Messi, the club regrets its publication given that it is a private document governed by the principle of confidentiality between the parties," a statement read.

"FC Barcelona categorically denies any responsibility for the publication of this document and will take appropriate legal action against the newspaper El Mundo, for any damage that may be caused as a result of this publication.

"FC Barcelona expresses its absolute support for Lionel Messi, especially in the face of any attempt to discredit his image, and to damage his relationship with the entity where he has worked to become the best player in the world and in football history."

Barcelona return to action on Sunday at home to Athletic Bilbao in LaLiga, where they remain 10 points behind leaders Atletico Madrid despite a run of four consecutive top-flight wins.

Messi, who was red carded for the first time in his Barca career against Athletic earlier this month, has contributed 15 goals and four assists in all competitions in 2020-21.

Lionel Messi's Barcelona contract is the biggest in the history of sport, landing the superstar forward more than €555million over four years.

That is the astonishing claim made by El Mundo, with the Spanish newspaper reporting on Sunday that it had obtained details of the deal signed by the 33-year-old in 2017.

The mega-money agreement, which expires in June this year, would see Messi receive up to €555,237,619 across four seasons, providing a number of conditions are met.

Messi was at the centre of a major transfer storm when he attempted to force a move away from Camp Nou last August, but was left frustrated when Barca refused to sanction an exit.

Amid a fraught presidential election campaign, it has remained apparent that all is not well at the Catalan club, whose financial worries are cast in a fresh light after El Mundo's stunning front-page revelations, with the outlet claiming to have laid hands on a copy of "the most sought-after document".

In addition to annual earnings in excess of €138m – dependent on some variables – the report says Messi received a renewal fee of over €115m, and a loyalty bonus just shy of €78m.

The Argentina international, who also rakes in millions in image rights, is said to have earned more than €500m from the eye-watering deal so far.

Barca's accounts for the 2019-20 season showed gross debt had reached €820m, with the coronavirus pandemic having further dented their outlook.

Against the backdrop of those financial woes, Messi's desire to leave, and with a fractious presidential election not due to be concluded until March, Barca are still off the pace in LaLiga despite a run of four consecutive top-flight wins.

Ronald Koeman's side are 10 points behind leaders Atletico Madrid ahead of Sunday's visit of Athletic Bilbao.

Messi, who was red carded for the first time in his career earlier this month, has contributed 15 goals in all competitions.

Barcelona made a mistake not selling superstar captain Lionel Messi at the start of the season, according to Rivaldo.

Messi is out of contract at the end of the current campaign and the record six-time Ballon d'Or winner appears likely to leave on a free transfer amid strong links to Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.

The 33-year-old attacker had tried to exit Camp Nou prior to the start of 2020-21 before opting to remain with the LaLiga giants.

As Barca struggle financially amid the coronavirus pandemic, former star Rivaldo wrote in his Betfair column: "Barcelona were not in good financial health pre-pandemic, but things got nasty in the last year and beyond Lionel Messi's almost inevitable departure, the club may need to sell some more important players to generate income.

"As I mentioned previously, the club's board made a mistake by not selling Lionel Messi while he was still under contract, something Real Madrid did with Cristiano Ronaldo receiving around €100million in exchange [from transfer to Juventus].

"It's sad to see such a talented and valuable player leaving Barca for free when the club is going through so many financial problems.

"But looking to potential transfers that might occur, I think Phillipe Coutinho time may have be coming to an end. He has admirers in England and perhaps Barcelona could generate some good income with his sale, allowing them to keep others like Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann.

"The Brazilian never managed to show his best football in Spain, and since his better moments happened in Premier League I'm sure there will be clubs interested in his services and available to pay considerable amounts, although not quite what Barcelona paid to Liverpool!"

Barca are third in the table and 10 points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid as they prepare to host Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Athletic stunned Messi's Barca in the Supercopa de Espana final earlier this month.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino said every coach in the world would want a player of Lionel Messi's quality at their disposal.

Messi, 33, is out of contract at Barcelona at the end of the season and the six-time Ballon d'Or has been heavily linked to PSG and Manchester City.

Pochettino only took over at PSG at the start of the month but is already facing questions over Messi's potential arrival.

The former Tottenham boss, though, said every coach in the world would want Messi.

"Sometimes words are unnecessary. With the question you ask me, everything is understood," Pochettino told AS.

"What coach in the world would not want to have a player of the calibre of which you are telling me? I totally understand the question, but it is looking for a controversy.

"It is a dangerous question if a word of mine is taken out of context … Pochettino will come disrespectfully, Pochettino talks about this, Pochettino talks about that."

Pochettino has previously spoken of the bond he shares with Messi thanks to their connection to Newell's Old Boys, where both were in the youth system.

While the 48-year-old paid tribute to Messi, he is also preparing to meet the star forward when PSG face Barcelona in the Champions League last 16.

"There is nothing left to say. I respect and admire him so much that I prefer never to say anything or refer to him. It is the best tribute you can do to someone," Pochettino said. 

"We share the two of us who have worn the Newell's jersey and that is something very big. That bond unites us. 

"That he is one of the best players of all time I will not discover and when we meet we will fight for our interests."

Kylian Mbappe will be at Paris Saint-Germain "for many years to come", according to head coach Mauricio Pochettino.

Real Madrid have been heavily linked with a move for World Cup-winning attacker Mbappe, whose contract with PSG is due to expire at the end of next season.

The 22-year-old has scored 106 goals and set up a further 54 in 147 appearances for PSG. Since his debut for the club on September 8, 2017, the only players in the top five European Leagues to have registered more goal involvements are Robert Lewandowski (184) and Lionel Messi (205).

Mbappe is in talks with the club about a renewal but has never hidden his admiration for Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.

Pochettino is not worried, though, and believes Mbappe's future is at the Parc des Princes.

"Who doesn't love Kylian? He makes himself loved, with his smile, his face and his energy," Pochettino told Marca.

"At the age of 19 he was a world champion [with France], impressive things have happened to him, but he is special and different, with a lot of emotional intelligence.

"He has a lot of potential to develop but he is already [someone for the] present, not just the future. It's a challenge and a good thing to work with this kind of talent, it makes you a better coach. You give this type of player a solution and he gives you five back.

"There are a lot of rumours, but I think he will be at PSG for many years to come, and that's the club's hope. We are counting on him for as long as we are here.

"It's true that he has to make a decision [on his future], but he seems happy and very committed to this project."

PSG are open to the possibility of signing Messi from Barcelona, with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner able to leave Camp Nou on a free at the end of the season.

Asked if having Messi in his team would make him a better coach, Pochettino replied: "Whatever I say will be misunderstood, and I love what I have. Great footballers fit in any league and any team."

He was far more forthcoming when discussing Sergio Ramos, another high-profile player that will be a free agent at the conclusion of the campaign if he does not sign an extension with Madrid.

"After one month [at PSG] I am finding players with great leadership. The great [players] are able to play and coexist in different projects and cultures, but I am very respectful," said Pochettino.

"PSG's strategy has been the same for years, ever since we signed Ronaldinho: to look at market opportunities and bring in those who can improve what we have. We will see in the coming months.

"Here, Ramos would find a great club with the obsession to always win. PSG are one of the biggest [clubs] in the world."

Barcelona booked their place in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals as goals from Lionel Messi and Frenkie de Jong sealed a 2-1 win over Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday. 

Ronald Koeman's side had looked set to follow Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in losing to lower-league opposition when Fran Garcia gave Segunda Division side Rayo the lead shortly after the hour-mark. 

As is so often the case, though, Messi pulled Barca level soon after with a close-range finish. 

That set the stage for the impressive De Jong to secure Barca's progression 10 minutes from time.

The first clear sight of goal did not come until the 20th minute, De Jong looping an effort from six yards onto Stole Dimitrievski's crossbar.

The visitors somehow failed to take the lead 10 minutes before the interval when Dimitrievski initially pawed away Trincao's strike before Riqui Puig's follow-up was diverted onto the crossbar by Ivan Martos.

Antoine Griezmann and De Jong had further chances, but Barca were ultimately unable to make their superiority count at the break.

Messi clipped the top of the crossbar with a free-kick three minutes after the restart before the Argentina international blazed over after being played clean through soon after.

Barca were made to rue those misses in the 63rd minute when Fran Garcia turned home from almost on the line after Neto had parried Alvaro Garcia's cross into his path.

Messi restored parity six minutes later, however, sliding in from six yards after being teed up by Griezmann.

De Jong ensured there would be no need for extra time to settle the result, stroking home from a similar position to Messi from Jordi Alba's cross.

Paris Saint-Germain have disrespected Barcelona by publicly discussing a move for Lionel Messi and the Spanish club should take action, says Joan Laporta.  

Messi's future remains unclear as his contract at Barcelona continues to wind down. The talismanic forward was linked with Manchester City having made clear his desire to leave in the previous transfer window, though he ended up remaining at Camp Nou to see out his current deal.  

Negotiations over a renewal are not helped by the uncertainty over the identity of the next president at the Spanish club, though an election date is now set for March 7.  

Laporta is one of the remaining candidates in the running and has made clear the importance of making Messi an offer that helps convince him to stay – and is not happy with how PSG have talked about potentially signing the 33-year-old.  

Leonardo, sporting director at the Ligue 1 champions, said this month that "great players like Messi will always be on PSG's list", his comment coming after ex-Barca player Neymar fuelled speculation last December by declaring his desire to play alongside his former team-mate again in 2021.

"The club has to be able to make a good proposal to Messi so that he understands and accepts it," Laporta - previously Barca president between 2003 and 2010 - told the media on Wednesday. 

"I would understand any response from Leo. He has to know the situation of the club and this is urgent. The situation is consolidating; he is free to negotiate with another club, and Barcelona are without a president. 

"PSG allow themselves to publicly say they want to sign Messi. Barcelona cannot allow this. It is disrespectful, even more so coming from a club-state that breaks the rules.

"We have to work with UEFA and FIFA on this. PSG must abstain from [talking about Messi]. It is out of place for another club to speak about him - and there is no president to respond."

Laporta also made clear his position over the potential signing of Eric Garcia, the Manchester City centre-back strongly linked with a return to Spain.

A January move has been rumoured but Barca's financial troubles may make a deal difficult, particularly with the player set to be out of contract at the end of the season.

"I remain in the position I had when this possibility was raised. If a player wants to come to Barca, he has to prove it and if in June he would come for free," Laporta said in reference to the defender.

"It is hard for me to understand why we would have to give money to a competing club.

"I do not understand that the manager attributes the power to negotiate a salary or to pay money now when in June it would not have to be paid, even more so taking into account the economic situation of the club."

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