The summer transfer window is into its final month for the major European leagues, which means the biggest clubs are looking to make a splash in the market before the new season begins. Check out the latest gossip below, and see all official deals here.
TOP STORY: Man City and PSG battle to sign Messi
Manchester City are now the 34-year-old’s most likely destination, according to Marca, despite Pep Guardiola’s team having just spent £100 million on Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish and their plans to bring in Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane for a similar amount.
Now, with Messi an option, it is suggested that City might turn their attention away from Kane and focus on reuniting former Barca boss Guardiola with Messi.
Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked with Messi and have brought in some big-name signings this summer already with free transfers for Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Georginio Wijnaldum, alongside a €70m deal for Inter full-back Achraf Hakimi, while star striker Kylian Mbappe‘s contract (which expires in 2022) needs to be extended.
Sources have told ESPN’s Julien Laurens that PSG remain confident they would still be able to do a deal for Messi should he actually not return to Barcelona — but are skeptical of that happening, believing the latest move to be a bluff intended to keep him at Camp Nou. Sources said that Messi’s camp made contact with PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and sporting director Leonardo after Barca’s announcement on Thursday.
Major League Soccer is also an option, with sources telling ESPN that City’s offer back in August 2020 included a long-term contract that would see him move to partner club New York City FC after three years in the Premier League.
For now, it appears Messi intends on staying at the top level in Europe for a few more years before heading across the Atlantic. But he will have his pick of options, and could yet perform another U-turn to sign his new deal at Barcelona if the club can find a way to work out the finances with LaLiga.
11.53 BST: Juventus forward Paulo Dybala has yet to sign a new contract, with his terms expiring in 2022, but the club are keen to renew him, says Calciomercato
Dybala, 27, reports that Juventus could offer him a new €8m-a-year plus bonuses to reach €10m, but that it will contain a release clause in case a big offer to sign him arrives.
The Argentina international rejected similar terms last year but may consider it now. His agent will reportedly meet Juventus director Federico Cherubini on Sunday to begin negotiations.
11.31 BST: Barcelona president Joan Laporta has said he doesn’t want to generate false hope over the chances of Lionel Messi returning and added that no one is bigger than the club.
It was announced on Thursday that Messi, a free agent since his contract with Barcelona ended last month, will not rejoin the club. Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Laporta said that negotiations with Messi have ended.
“I don’t want to generate false hope,” Laporta said. “During the course of negotiations, we’ve known of other offers for Messi. There was a time limit, for us and for them, because they need time. The leagues are starting.”
In answer to another question about signing a big-name replacement for Messi, Laporta added: “I don’t want to generate false hope. Negotiations with Messi have ended and it’s brought us here without an agreement because of the salary limit. And LaLiga is not flexible in terms of widening that limit, they would only do so if we mortgaged off broadcast rights in the deal with CVC.
“That wasn’t the only element of that deal we didn’t like, either. We had an agreement with Leo but we can’t register him.”
11.00 BST: Barcelona president Joan Laporta is talking about the club’s decision to let Lionel Messi leave on a free transfer.
Laporta: An investment of that volume, with Messi’s contract, was risky. We wanted to take it on, all of us on the board, but when we realised the real situation at the club after the audit, we would have put the club in great risk
— Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) August 6, 2021
Oh, and they’re still in massive debt.
Barcelona expecting losses of €487 million for last season. Incredible
— Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) August 6, 2021
So how does the player himself feel about all this?
Laporta on how Messi has taken news: Leo wanted to stay so he’s not happy. We all wanted him to stay, so he now is like us, facing the reality. A reality that can’t be changed. He knows that I wish him the best wherever he goes and Barça is always is home
— Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) August 6, 2021
10.28 BST: Man City already have a host of talented forwards and now they can add £100m Jack Grealish to the equation.
Mark Ogden debates how Pep Guardiola will utilise Jack Grealish and wonders whether Man City even need him.
09.43 BST: Aston Villa forward Louie Barry is set to join League One side Ipswich Town on a season-long loan, sources have confirmed to ESPN’s Sam Marsden.
Barry, 18, joined Villa from Barcelona in 2020 and scored in last season’s FA Cup win against Liverpool. He has trained with the first team this preseason and scored the winner in a friendly against Crewe recently.
However, given the arrivals of Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings at Villa Park, who have been signed to replace Jack Grealish, Barry’s chances in Dean Smith’s side would have been limited this season. Therefore, he asked to go out on loan, with several sides in the Championship and League One showing an interest, while German team RB Leipzig even sounded a permanent move.
Barry opted for Ipswich because he feels they represent his best chance of regular football at a team who will be fighting for promotion back to the second tier of English football.
The young striker came through at West Bromwich Albion before joining Barca aged 16 in 2019. Just six months later, though, he made the switch to his boyhood club Villa after growing unsettled in Spain. He scored over 20 goals across various teams last season, firing Villa to FA Youth Cup glory and netting in his sole appearance for the first team when a young side took on Liverpool in the FA Cup in January.
09.21 BST: Tottenham Hotspur are expected to confirm the €55m signing of Atalanta defender Cristian Romero within the next 48 hours, sources have told ESPN’s James Olley.
The 23-year-old underwent the final part of his medical on Thursday and assuming no complications, he is then expected to fly to London to finalise the paperwork.
Spurs have agreed a deal believed to worth €50m with €5m in add-ons in a transfer that will rank as the second most expensive in the club’s history after Tanguy Ndombele’s €60m ($71m) arrival from Lyon in July 2019.
08.45 BST: ICYMI – Manchester City have announced the signing of Jack Grealish from Aston Villa, breaking the British transfer record in a £100m deal, the club said on Thursday.
Grealish leaves his boyhood club Villa having made 213 appearances and scored 32 goals since making his senior debut in 2014. It will be the second time City have held the British transfer record, after the £32.5m arrival of Robinho from Real Madrid in 2008.
Speaking to City TV, Grealish said: “There’s obviously a lot of reasons why I decided to come here, obviously the manager has been a massive factor in that. Playing under the best manager in the world was something I couldn’t really turn down. Competing for major trophies is something that I wanted to do, and it was something that, in the end, I couldn’t turn down.”
08.30 BST: Only one place to start… Lionel Messi is leaving Barcelona. But why?
Barcelona president Joan Laporta has always said he was “confident” of reaching a new contract agreement for Messi to stay at the club and that the key was building a sporting project that would guarantee him success on the pitch.
However, sources have told ESPN that Messi has been left unconvinced by the work done in the transfer market this summer, with another adding that there was also disagreement over the breakdown of the commission payments involved in the proposed new contract
Barcelona correspondent Sam Marsden debates whether Barcelona President Joan Laporta is looking for a reaction from LaLiga if Messi leaves.
PAPER GOSSIP (By Danny Lewis)
– There is still a chance that Bayern Munich could sign RB Leipzig talisman Marcel Sabitzer, as has been reported by Kicker. The midfielder’s contract ends in the summer of 2022, which means Leipzig will need to offload the Austria international now or risk losing him for free, as he has already turned down an extension. Even so, there haven’t been any serious talks with the Bundesliga champions yet.
– Juventus are showing an interest in reuniting with Barcelona midfielder Miralem Pjanic and, according to Calciomercato, the feeling is mutual as the Bosnia & Herzegovina international has his heart set on a return to Turin. Juventus are working on a deal that could be a loan or permanent one at this stage.
– New England Revolution have made a deal in principle with Club Brugge for winger Tajon Buchanan to join the Belgian outfit for around US$7m, reports Tom Bogert. This deal would include the 22-year-old being loaned back to New England. It’s not yet completed with personal terms still to be agreed, while two Bundesliga clubs remain in the race.
– Napoli are hoping to sign Sheffield United midfielder Sander Berge, as has been reported by Calciomercato. The Serie A outfit are hoping for a loan deal with a right to make it permanent, but the Blades want an immediate deal worth €15m. Borussia Monchengladbach’s Denis Zakaria and Chelsea’s Tiemoue Bakayoko are reportedly seen as alternatives.
– Crystal Palace have made some exciting signings this summer, and Blackburn Rovers striker Adam Armstrong could be added to their list of acquisitions, reports the Daily Mail. It is suggested that the Eagles are ahead of Norwich City and Southampton in the race to sign the 24-year-old.