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Lionel Messi edging closer to Paris move as Kylian Mbappe looks elsewhere

The coronavirus pandemic made the summer transfer market unlike any before it, but there were still plenty of deals done, and you can check out the major ones here. The window might be closed across the top leagues in Europe, but here are the best rumours from around the globe.

TOP STORY: Messi move to Paris gathers momentum

Talksport believes that there is a “real possibility” that Paris Saint-Germain could sign Lionel Messi from Barcelona in 2021.

After earlier rumours suggesting that PSG were planning on stocking up Messi shirts for the club superstore ahead of a possible move, it has now emerged that the French champions are growing increasingly confident of landing the world’s best player.

Messi has cut a dejected figure at Barcelona this season and, despite the departure of club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, it would appear that the Argentina international still sees his future away from the club.

PSG striker Neymar has admitted that he would love to play with Messi again and reunite with the player with whom he formed a deadly partnership at Barca between 2013 and 2017.

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And with the future of Kylian Mbappe unclear, it would appear as though a big-money move for the Frenchman — possibly to Real Madrid — could be enough to prompt a bid for the wantaway Messi.

– Hunter: Neymar can lure Messi to PSG with a UCL masterclass
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)


13.13 GMT: Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is talking tough when it comes to players who want out of his club.

12.32 GMT: Pablo Zabaleta says Lionel Messi should sign for Manchester City if he decides to leave Barcelona when his contract expires next summer.

Messi, 33, is free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with any club from Jan. 1. Zabaleta, who played alongside Messi for many years with the Argentina national team, believes the Barca forward would like to experience the Premier League.

“It’s sad to see Messi in this situation,” Zabaleta said. “I never thought he would reach the last year of his contract with Barcelona. The team is not playing well and it seems he’s not enjoying his football. We’ll see what happens with at the end of the season.

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“He has a good friend at City in Sergio [Aguero] and he has worked with Pep [Guardiola] at Barca. Some people on the board at the club know Messi as well. Every player would like to experience the Premier League, it’s the best league in the world and maybe he’ll want to enjoy some years there. I’d like to see Messi, if he decides to go to another club, in England.”

Barca are waiting to elect a new president on Jan. 24 before starting talks with Messi over a new contract. In the meantime, other clubs are free to make their move from next month, with City and Paris Saint-Germain among the front-runners if he decides to leave Camp Nou.

11.59 GMT: Well, that was quick… Just a few hours after reports emerged in the British press that West Bromwich Albion were considering sacking manager Slaven Bilic, the news has now been confirmed, with the Daily Mail reporting that Sam Allardyce is set to fill the vacancy..

Bilic has been sacked by West Bromwich Albion, despite Tuesday’s surprise 1-1 draw with Manchester City bringing them an unexpected point in the battle to avoid relegation.

West Brom are second from bottom in the Premier League after picking up only seven points from 13 games, their sole victory coming against Sheffield United late last month. They have also drawn four games and lost eight.

Bilic, who was appointed West Brom boss in June 2019 and won promotion back to the Premier League last season, is the first top flight manager to lose his job this campaign.

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The Mail reports that Allardyce will have talks with the club on Wednesday with a view to taking over on a short-term deal to ensure their Premier League survival, in a similar vein to his midseason appointments at Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Everton.

11.26 GMT: Tottenham forward Son Heung-Min wants to spend the rest of his career at the club, according to manager Jose Mourinho, but the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has meant progress over a new contract for the South Korea international has stalled.

Son’s current contract is not due to expire until 2023 but, after scoring 13 goals already this season and formidable the Premier League’s most formidable attacking partnership with Harry Kane, the club would like to commit the 28-year-old to a new deal.

However, with the club recently announcing losses of £63.9m, Mourinho says now is not the time to be announcing big new player contracts.

Mourinho told a news conference: “How can you sign a new contract with a player? You don’t know what is going to happen next season. You don’t know if you can offer the player a better contract than they have now. It’s a very strange moment.

“I just trust Sonny and Daniel Levy. I know that both want him to stay, if possible, for life, if possible until the end of the career.

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“I see Sonny signing a new contract here but I don’t press for something to happen now because probably it’s not the right moment.

“I’m not a money man but I wouldn’t like to be the owner or the CEO of one of these football clubs living with this instability.”

10.39 GMT: Has Jadon Sancho allowed Manchester Unitedf’s failed bid to sign him in the summer to affect his performances for Dortmund this season?

09.57 GMT: Slaven Bilic is on the verge of being sacked as West Bromwich Albion manager, British media reported, despite Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Manchester City bringing them an unexpected point in the battle to avoid relegation.

West Brom are second from bottom in the Premier League after picking up only seven points from 13 games, their sole victory coming against Sheffield United late last month. They have also drawn four games and lost eight.

The BBC, Guardian and the Times all reported that Bilic, who was appointed West Brom boss in June 2019, could be sacked on Wednesday despite the club’s draw at Etihad Stadium.

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If they do decide to cut him loose Bilic would be the first Premier League manager to lose his job this season.

09.24 GMT: Lionel Messi‘s salary is too big for Barcelona due to their financial predicament, presidential candidate Emili Rousaud has said, adding that he wishes to keep the club’s all-time top scorer on a reduced contract.

Messi, who sought an exit from Barca in the close season, has less than seven months remaining on his deal with the club where he has spent his entire career. He is free to negotiate with rival clubs in a different country from January.

Former Barca vice-president Rousaud, who resigned this year out of protest at how the club was being run by then chief Josep Maria Bartomeu, said Messi would accept a lower salary if he could be convinced the club will return to winning ways.

“In the club’s current situation Messi’s salary is not sustainable, so we’ll have to reach an agreement with him. We will present an attractive project to him,” Rousaud told Spanish newspaper AS on Tuesday.

“What matters most here is the sporting project. When Messi said he was leaving he didn’t mention money. He has the highest salary in the world, no-one earns more than him, he doesn’t want to leave because he earns too little.

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“He wants to leave because he wants to win trophies. He referred to that recently when he said: “The Champions League is not within our reach.” He wants a team full of talent.”

– Barca, Messi and the napkin: History of his transfer

08.41 GMT: Lucas Torreira‘s agent has denied reports that the midfielder is set to end his season-long loan at Atletico Madrid early and return to Arsenal.

The Uruguay international joined Atletico on the last day of the summer transfer window as Thomas Partey moved in the other direction.

“Lucas is calm and happy,” agent Pablo Bentancur told Sky Sport Italia. “He doesn’t have anything in his head except continuing at Atletico Madrid. He’s coming to the end of his process of adaptation.”

Torreira has made just two La Liga starts for Diego Simeone’s team so far, and his Champions League action has been restricted to four substitute appearances.

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08.00 GMT: Bayern Munich are not planning to make any additions to their squad in the upcoming January transfer window, Sport Bild reports.

The 2020 Champions League winners instead will bank on academy players such as Jamal Musiala and Chris Richards as well as summer signings Marco Roca, Bouna Sarr and Tiago Dantas who will be eligible to play for the senior squad from Jan. 1.

– Bundesliga on ESPN+: Stream LIVE games and replays (U.S. only)

PAPER TALK (by Nick Judd)

Bayern to fend off Prem giants with Musiala offer

Bayern Munich are set to reward Jamal Musiala with a new deal in an effort to fend off interest from Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool, according to the Daily Mail.

The German champions have opened talks with the 17-year-old about the prospect of a new deal worth £100,000 a week after his continued success in his breakout season.

Musiala has just 18 months left on his existing deal and Liverpool, Man United and City are believed to be keeping tabs on his situation, with Reds boss Jurgen Klopp in particular a big fan of the youngster.

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Bayern signed Musiala from Chelsea in 2019 for a small fee and they’re keen to avoid losing him in the same way.

Musiala became Bayern’s youngest-ever player in June and their youngest-ever scorer when he netted against Schalke in September.

Upamecano still fancies Premier League move

Dayot Upamecano favours a move to the Premier League next summer, which means he won’t be leaving RB Leipzig in January, reports journalist Jan Aage Fjortoft.

The Norwegian reports that the in-demand central defender doesn’t want to leave before the end of the season and that Upamecano would prefer a move to England over any other country. He also goes on to suggest that both Manchester United and Arsenal are in for him.

Both Arsenal and United require defensive reinforcements. Arsenal have conceded 15 goals in 12 games, United 17 from 11, and so both clubs will be on red alert following the news that the Leipzig defender wants to prioritise a move to England.

It had been reported that United’s interest in Upamecano had cooled and that they were prioritising other players, but Fjortoft believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still very much behind an offer to sign him.

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– Tottenham Hotspur are trying to secure Son Heung-Min on a new deal, reports Sky Italia journalist Fabrizio Romano. He reports that Tottenham have made the South Korea forward one of their top priorities and that negotiations between the club and the players representatives are “advanced.” Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho has stated Harry Winks won’t be leaving Spurs on loan in January, despite the England star admitting he wants more minutes.

Hakan Calhanoglu is set to stay at AC Milan, ending any hopes Manchester United might have had of signing him in January, reports Calciomercato. They’re reporting that Calhanoglu’s agent Gordon Stipic is set for talks with Milan’s Paolo Maldini and Frederic Massara about the future of the Rossoneri No.10. The two parties will need to meet in the middle of their prospective offers if a deal is to be done, though the Milan hierarchy are in no doubt of the player’s importance to the team.

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