Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has revealed that he has requested for the short of the opposition once in his football career.
The Barcelona skipper made this known in an interview with Tyc Sports.
According to him, he has only asked French football legend Zinedine Zidane for his shirt during the early stages of his Barcelona career.
Lionel Messi had asked for the shirt of former Real Madrid playmaker Zinedine Zidane during the El Clasico.
The Argentine international has been at the top of the football chain for the better part of the last two decades.
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At Barcelona, Lionel Messi has won four Champions League titles as well as eight league titles.
He has been blighted by a thigh injury this season but the Argentine national team captain has recovered from that injury.
Messi scored a hattrick in the last game, a 4-1 win at home to Celta Vigo at the Nou Camp.
The treble took his league tally to eight goals which can only be bettered by Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema who has nine goals.
Lionel Messi and Barcelona were able to reclaim the summit in the Spanish La Liga after the thumping victory over Celta Vigo.
Top Three Potential Swap Deals This Summer
Swap deals and free transfers are likely to be very popular during the upcoming transfer market due to reduced income amongst the clubs. Coronavirus has hit the world hard and football has not been spared on the financial front.
Football was suspended in March because of the COVID19 virus though some leagues have resumed, while some others are planning to resume. Others like the Dutch Eredivisie and the French Ligue 1 have already moved on from the current football season.
For now, the leagues returning to the football field will play behind closed doors thus impacting on finances for both the small and big clubs. To this effect, these clubs are not expected to spend big on players in the transfer market this summer with emphasis now mostly on free transfers and swap deals. Let’s take a look at the top three potential swap deals this summer:
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1. Paul Pogba-Aaron Ramsey: Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba is likely to leave the club this summer with his contract running out and former club Juventus are one of the sides interested in him, while Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey has not really settled into life at the club he joined on a free transfer last summer. A possible swap deal has been discussed in the media.
2. Miralem Pjanic-Arthur: Barcelona and Juventus are reportedly in talks over a swap deal involving their midfielders Arthur and Miralem Pjanic respectively. The swap deal was close to being completed until Barcelona requested for a cash-plus-player deal rather than a straight swap deal. Despite this setback, the transfer could still go ahead with Juventus keen to sell Pjanic this summer.
Alexandre Lacazette-Thomas Partey: Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is a big fan of top target Thomas Partey and he might need to sacrifice striker Alexandre Lacazette in his quest to sign the Ghanaian player.
Barcelona: Top Three Transfer Targets This Summer
Spanish champions Barcelona have fallen short of their Champions League expectations over the last five years since their last triumph in 2015. Since then, Barcelona have imploded twice against the likes of AS Roma (2018/19 season) and Liverpool (2019/20 season).
Ernesto Valverde masterminded the two implosions and he paid dearly with his job at the start of this year. Barcelona are desperate to win the Champions League title once again especially after arch rivals Real Madrid won three successive titles between 2016 and 2018.
The club is ready to back Quique Setien in the transfer market this summer to make that Champions League dream come true once again after the ex-Real Betis and Rayo Vallecano boss replaced Ernesto Valverde some months ago. Quique Setien and Barcelona can still win the Champions League this season before the transfer market this summer.
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Barcelona have a last 16 tie to navigate against Italian Serie A club Napoli. The two teams played a one-all draw in the first leg in Italy before the dreaded Coronavirus menace stopped the second leg scheduled for the home of Barcelona, Nou Camp. The competition will resume in August as per the info from UEFA.
With the Barcelona hierarchy willing to back Quique Setien in the upcoming transfer window, here are the top three targets for the Blaugrana:
1. Lautaro Martinez – The Inter Milan player is the number one target for Barcelona who are trying to sign the Argentine international as the long-term heir to the lone striker role currently held by the ageing Luis Suarez. He has scored 16 goals in all competitions for his team this season.
2. Miralem Pjanic – The Juventus midfielder is a target for Barcelona with a possible swap deal being discussed between the two clubs. Barcelona midfielder Arthur will move in the other direction if the clubs can agree on the transfer.
3. Neymar – The Paris Saint Germain (PSG) attacker might not return to Barcelona this summer mainly due to financial constraints from the effects of Coronavirus but he remains a top target. He spent four years at the Nou Camp between 2013 and 2017.
Top Three Clubs For Barcelona Outcast Coutinho This Summer
Five-time European champions Barcelona are expected to get rid of deadwoods or the non-performing players in their squad and Philippe Coutinho is expected to be on that list.
Few would have predicted this in January 2018 when Brazilian international Coutinho became the third most expensive player in the world after compatriot Neymar and his PSG colleague Kylian Mbappe. Philippe Coutinho was a key player for Liverpool at that time and was having the best moment of his career before he forced a move to the Nou Camp.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp reluctantly sanctioned the £142m transfer to Barcelona for Philippe Coutinho and that decision to leave Anfield for Spain has been the biggest stumbling block in his career. Coutinho has not been able to recover his sparkling Liverpool form since he left.
The former Inter Milan playmaker was a shadow of himself during his 18 months at Barcelona before the club decided that it was time to send him on loan. He was loaned out to German champions Bayern Munich for this season but has failed to find that form though it must be pointed out that his performances in Germany has improved in comparison to the ones at the Nou Camp.
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Despite his improved form, Bayern Munich won’t take up the option of signing him meaning that Barcelona will have to cut their losses and sell him permanently this summer. Barcelona will have a hard time offloading the player since there are only a handful of clubs capable of paying his transfer fee plus huge weekly wages.
Let’s take a look at the top three clubs for him ahead of next season:
1. Chelsea – The West London giants could be a perfect place for Coutinho to rekindle his form. Chelsea have been linked with the player and he could be the man to replace Eden Hazard.
2. PSG – Coutinho has a very good relationship/understanding with Brazilian national team colleague Neymar and they could re-enact the same for French giants Paris Saint Germain (PSG) who are keen to sign star player Neymar to a new deal.
3. Liverpool – A return to former hunting ground Anfield would appeal to a lot of football romantics. Coutinho has been constantly linked with a return to Liverpool since failing to find top form at Barcelona.
Top Five In-demand Players Ahead Of Summer Transfer Window
For a lot of football fans, the transfer market period is the most interesting period of the calendar year. There are primarily two transfer markets in a year namely the summer transfer market and the winter market.
The summer transfer market is the busiest of the two aforementioned markets, and it is usually an interesting period for football fans who wait with bated breath for new signings. The 2020 summer transfer market won’t be any different though it will definitely feel the effect of the dreaded Coronavirus financially.
Coronavirus has stopped football in its track for the past two months but that has not stopped transfer reports involving several of the best players in the world. Here are five most in-demand players ahead of the transfer market this summer:
1. Jadon Sancho – The Borussia Dortmund star is a man in demand especially amongst the Premier League clubs. The favourite for his signature is Manchester United but Liverpool and Chelsea are not far behind.
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2. Kylian Mbappe – The French international is widely regarded as the best young player in world football. His club, Paris Saint Germain (PSG), wants to offer him a new lucrative deal to ward off the serious interest of Spanish giants Real Madrid.
3. Timo Werner – RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner has been in sensational form for his German club this season and he has set his sights on a summer move to Liverpool though other big teams like Bayern Munich and Chelsea.
4. Lautaro Martinez – The Inter Milan striker has a release clause of €110m in his contract with the San Siro outfit amidst the interest from Spanish champions Barcelona. The Argentine international is seen as a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez who’s in the twilight of his career.
5. Neymar – Spanish La Liga side Barcelona want Neymar to return to the club this summer and whether they will be able to pull it off is a different question.
Player Ratings: Philippe Coutinho To Chelsea
Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho could be heading back to the Premier League after close to three years away from the competition if the media reports emanating from Spain are anything to go by. According to popular Catalan newspaper Sport, Barcelona will finally be able to get rid of the player with Coutinho closing in on a summer move to Premier League giants Chelsea.
Coutinho was doing very well at Liverpool before the Barcelona loanee arguably made the biggest error of his football career by forcing a big money move to Spain in January 2018 despite the best efforts of Reds boss Jurgen Klopp who didn’t want him to leave the club. The Brazilian playmaker became the third most expensive player via that transfer as Barcelona paid £142m for his signing.
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His transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona became a big blessing of some sort for the Reds as the money gotten from the deal was ploughed back into the playing squad at Anfield thereby making it a better one without Coutinho. With the money, Liverpool were able to bolster their defence with the £75m signing of Virgil Van Dijk in January 2018 and £66m transfer of goalkeeper Alisson Becker in the summer of 2018.
While Philippe Coutinho has been struggling at Barcelona, Liverpool have won the Champions League title and it would only be a matter of time before a much coveted Premier League title is added with the Reds needing two wins from the remaining nine games in the present league season when football gets back from the hiatus forced by Coronavirus.
After a largely frustrating 18 months at Barcelona, Coutinho joined German Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich on loan last summer and has shown flashes of brilliance at the club but that is not enough for the Bavarian giants to sign him permanently. Barcelona want to sell him finally this summer to raise money for their potential signings and Chelsea appear to be the club at the forefront of the queue for him in a reporter £70m deal.
Transfer Ratings for Philippe Coutinho to Chelsea: 6/10.
Transfer Ratings: Neymar To Barcelona
The most expensive player could be on the move this summer with former club Barcelona on his trail. Brazilian national team talisman Neymar became the costliest footballer ever three years ago when French giants Paris Saint Germain (PSG) paid £200m to sign him from Spanish champions Barcelona who were reluctant to let him leave for France.
Barcelona had no choice but to let the player join PSG after the French capital club activated the release clause in his contract at the Nou Camp as at then. Neymar signed a five-year contract upon his transfer to PSG and he was barely halfway into that contract before expressing interest to go back to his former hunting ground.
Neymar escaped the shadows of Lionel Messi at Barcelona to become his own man at PSG but that has not gone to plan due to several injury problems plus controversies here and there. Barcelona talisman and skipper Messi former a potent front trio with Neymar and Luis Suarez before the Brazilian left for Parc des Princes in 2017 but that has not stopped their relationship off the field with Messi the spearhead for Neymar to return to the club.
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Barcelona tried very hard to sign Neymar last summer but they were not able to fund the expensive move. The Spaniards made just one bid for the player and it was outrightly rejected by PSG.
The situation favours Barcelona more this summer as Neymar has two years to run on his current PSG deal. Barcelona can be able to sign him for £150m which is around £50m lesser than what they would have spent last summer.
PSG are still trying to persuade Neymar to sign a new deal plus the fact that he might need to take a pay cut to secure a return to the Nou Camp. In addition, Barcelona are finding it hard to raise funds for new signings this summer unless they can move some of their fringe players on to other clubs.
Transfer Ratings for Neymar to Barcelona: 4/10.
Man United Make Transfer Decision On £50m Defender
Manchester United would no longer be pursuing a deal for Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti according to the report via the Daily Star.
It was revealed that Manchester United are not ready to pay the £50m transfer fee slammed on Samuel Umtiti by his club.
Barcelona are willing to let French centre back Umtiti leave the club in the summer after the player struggled to find his form and fitness for the better part of the last two years.
Samuel Umtiti had a very good first season at Barcelona following his transfer to the Nou Camp from French giants Lyon in the summer of 2017. He helped France to the 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament in Russia after his stellar debut campaign for Barcelona.
Since that World Cup win in Russia, he has not been consistent in his displays for Barcelona.
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Manchester United might consider a summer transfer for him again on the condition that Barcelona lower their high asking price for him.
The Red Devils have improved defensively in the past weeks and months but that has not stopped the Samuel Umtiti links.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his players were under serious pressure after the 2-0 home loss to Burnley in the Premier League but they have bounced back from that disappointing result with an unbeaten run spanning 11 games and based on a solid defensive base as marshalled by Harry Maguire who’s in his first season at the Theatre of Dreams.
Manchester United have kept nine clean sheets during that unbeaten run across all competitions.
The defensive players like the aforementioned Harry Maguire plus his preferred centre back partner Victor Lindelof and others like Ivorian centre back Eric Bailly, fullbacks Luke Shaw, Brandon Williams and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have all played their parts in the current run of solid defensive showing which has yielded just two goals conceded in 11 games in all competitions.
Man United Target To Be Offered £16m Annual Salary At Barcelona
According to the Daily Star, Spanish La Liga leaders Barcelona are prepared to offer Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez a lucrative contract offer for him to join the club this summer.
Argentine international Lautaro Martinez is also a major transfer target for Premier League heavyweight Manchester United. The player has a release clause of €100m in his Inter Milan contract at the moment and it is easily accessible financially for both Barcelona and Manchester United.
Spanish giants Barcelona are ready to offer the young striker an annual salary worth £16m and Manchester United will have to match that offer at least to have a chance of signing him in the summer.
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Lautaro Martinez has been able to forge a potent strike partnership with Romelu Lukaku in the Inter Milan and their goals have propelled the Nerazzurri into the Italian Serie A title equation under the watchful eyes of Italian tactician Antonio Conte. Inter Milan are nine points off top spot having played a game less than league leaders Juventus.
Barcelona are in the market for the long-term successor to the central striker role presently occupied by Luis Suarez and Lautaro Martinez is the man identified for the job. Luis Suarez has missed virtually all the football played this year as he’s recuperating from the knee surgery he had in January.
The ageing Uruguayan international suffered a knee injury against Atletico Madrid during the Spanish Super Cup tournament at the start of the year.
For Manchester United, they are looking to sign a new striker this summer having failed to replace Romelu Lukaku when the Belgian international left them for Inter Milan in a £74m transfer last summer. The Red Devils signed a striker in January in Odion Ighalo but the Nigerian striker is at the club on a temporary role until the summer.