Report: Man City meeting for Messi | Football Italia

  Reports claim Manchester City have a meeting with Lionel Messi’s father, while Inter, PSG and Manchester United are also in the running after handing in his Barcelona transfer demand.

  The club legend wants to leave after the 8-2 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich, arrival of new coach Ronald Koeman and growing sense of unease at Camp Nou.

  The favourites would appear to be Manchester City, as Pep Guardiola already worked with Messi at Barcelona.

  According to Tuttomercatoweb, Messi’s father has booked a meeting in England on Monday with Manchester City directors.

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  Other contenders are of course Inter, who can benefit from a taxation law in Italy that would significantly reduce the cost of the operation, and a club who had already tried to sign Messi when he was still a teenager.

  Paris Saint-Germain are very much an outside shot, while Manchester United are trying to get involved, according to beIN Sports reporter Tancredi Palmeri.

  It does seem to be a two-horse race between Manchester City and Inter, but that is assuming that Messi does leave Barcelona.

  There are still issues to be resolved, for instance Messi’s claim the clause allows him to leave as a free agent is still valid due to the extended season.

  It’s reported he is getting FIFA involved to rule on the contractual situation next week.

  Meanwhile, TYCSport in Argentina maintain Messi will nonetheless attend training sessions with Barcelona.

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Ceferin: ‘Interesting Final Eight format’ | Football Italia

  UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin confirms the Final Eight Champions League and Europa League format is ‘very interesting’ and might be used again ‘in future.’

  The quarter-finals onwards were transformed from two-legged ties to one-off knockout matches on neutral turf, similar to an international tournament such as the World Cup.

  It had to be adopted for the 2019-20 season because the lockdown and COVID-19 crisis left precious little time to complete the tournament, not to mention limited venues.

  The conclusion is this evening in Lisbon between PSG and Bayern Munich.

  “We were forced to do it but in the end we see that we found out something new. So we will think about it in the future for sure,” Ceferin told Reuters.

  “(There has been) not so much tactics. If it is one match, if one team scores then the other has to score as soon as possible. If it is two legged system then there is still time to win the next match.

  “More exciting matches for sure but of course we also have to think about the fact that we have less matches and

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broadcasters (can) say ‘you don’t have as many matches as before, this is different’ so we will have to discuss when this crazy situation ends.”

  Although the Champions League is contractually locked down to this format until the 2024-25 season, the Final Eight will be part of discussions later this year.

  “Look for sure it is a very interesting format. Now, I doubt as much as the calendar is now, that we could do a final eight (tournament), because it would take too much time. But a format with one match and a system like it is now, I think it would be much more exciting than the format that was before,” continued Ceferin.

  “If we would play this system then, but we haven’t discussed with anyone, it’s just an idea, we would play in one city. If you play in one city, you can have a week of football or something like that. But it is far too early to think about it.

  “We have seen it as a big success and the viewership over TV has been huge, maybe it also good because it is August and people are at home, some of them at least, but interesting, interesting tournament.”

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Inzaghi: ‘Cannot criticise this Lazio’ | Football Italia

  Simone Inzaghi is very proud of Lazio after their 2-1 defeat to Juventus, explains the Jordan Lukaku exclusion and will not stand for ‘criticism’ of his team.

  “I complimented the lads after the match, because with all the problems we’ve had since the lockdown, to come here and play really well was impressive. We showed great character,” Inzaghi told Sky Sport Italia.

  “We’re certainly not lucky at the moment, as Ciro Immobile’s shot hit the inside of the post and bounced back out, then we conceded on a free kick with the handball.

  “The important thing is that we want to celebrate a return to the Champions League after 13 years.”

  The deadlock was broken by a penalty, awarded when VAR spotted that Bastos had charged down a Cristiano Ronaldo shot with his arm just inside the penalty area, as originally a free kick had been given outside.

  “It’s difficult. You can trust Orsato and Mazzoleni. From some angles, it looks like it’s the armpit more than the arm. They both viewed it and took that decision, so no complaints.

  “The timing was unfortunate, as it was straight after the restart and it was not a good time to go a goal down.”

  Jordan Lukaku was only in the stands this evening, reportedly due to disciplinary action and not an injury.

  “It was nothing massive, it’s just there are times that have to be met and Jordan got it wrong two games in a row, so it was only right to show the team that the rules matter.”

  It was a brave decision, considering Lazio were absolutely decimated going to Turin anyway.

  “There were 12 of us training, but we were organised and fired up. We still caused Juventus huge problems, despite the fact they can afford to have Gonzalo Higuain come off injured and Paulo Dybala come on.

  “I get angry when people criticise this team, because we have 14 more points than last season, won the Supercoppa and have not been in the Champions League for over a decade.

  “Lucas Leiva and Senad Lulic had operations, were meant to recover in six weeks, but it’s been four months without them now. Joaquin Correa suffered a traumatic injury. We’ve had to use many players constantly and not rotate them, which inevitably leads to muscular problems.

  “If we are fortunate and capable enough to maintain this squad, we know that playing in the Champions League we’ll have to increase the squad and bring in more options, then if we can avoid too many injuries, Lazio can really trouble anyone.”

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Official: Milan extend Pioli to 2022 | Football Italia_2

  Milan confirmed they will not hire Ralf Rangnick and are extending Stefano Pioli’s contract to 2022. ‘This is not a decision based on recent victories, but one based on how Stefano has built team spirit and unity of purpose.’

  “AC Milan announce that an agreement has been reached with Stefano Pioli for a two-year extension of his contract as coach of the first team, which will therefore now expire in June 2022.”

  CEO Ivan Gazidis noted in the full statement that he is “delighted with this agreement. Stefano has shown he can deliver the vision of football we have for our club – exciting, progressive and passionate.

  “This is not a decision based on recent victories, but one based on how Stefano has built team spirit and unity of purpose, the way he has improved the performances of the individual players and the collective team.

  “The way he has embraced our vision and the way he has represented himself and the club’s values.”

  Pioli evidently also knew this was coming, but kept it under his hat ahead of this evening’s 2-1 win away to Sassuolo.

  ”I am happy and proud of the trust I have received from AC Milan. I want to thank everyone, including our fans, who we are really missing at the stadium, but are always close and supportive.

  “As I have said many times, our future is today: we must be focused and determined, be united and play as one. We are at the beginning of an extraordinary path. If we keep working this way, we will grow and be more and more competitive.”

  The Rossoneri made the statement following this evening’s 2-1 victory away to Sassuolo.

  It comes hours after Rangnick’s statement that they “decided jointly that he will not take on a role at AC Milan.”

  The negotiations had been dragging on since at least November, as confirmed by former director Zvonimir Boban, who was then fired for publicly protesting the talks with CEO Ivan Gazidis.

  Over the last few days, it had seemed as if the deal was done, with only the issue of buying Rangnick out of his contract with Red Bull remaining.

  The 62-year-old is the head of sport and development over their various global football franchises.

  He has not been a coach since one season at RB Leipzig in 2018-19, where he was also sporting director.

  Rangnick wanted a similar role of total control at San Siro, something unheard of in Italian football.

  According to MilanNews.it, the reason for the breakdown in talks was the suggestion Rangnick only be the director of sport and leave Pioli as coach, something neither man would be happy with.

  This also implies current directors Paolo Maldini and Frederic Massara will also remain in their current roles.

  “Stefano stepped up to become Head Coach at a very difficult time,” said director of sport Maldini as part of the statement.

  “We have always said it would take some time to see the results of his job and we have seen the evidence that quality and professionalism always pay off. Stefano is the right man to lead the team that we want: successful, young and hungry.”

  It’s vindication for Pioli, who took over after Marco Giampaolo was fired in early October and has hit splendid form since the lockdown, winning seven and drawing two.

  Multiple players, including Hakan Calhanoglu and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, publicly urged Milan to back Pioli for next season.

  According to the Corriere della Sera, Pioli’s contract had a clause meaning it would be cancelled at the end of this term if he didn’t secure Champions League qualification.

  If he did finish in the top four, it would’ve run to June 2021.

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Barca 70m plus Junior Firpo for Lautaro | Football Italia

  Spanish sources continue to insist Barcelona will strike a deal with Inter for Lautaro Martinez, handing over €70m cash plus Junior Firpo.

  Despite the €111m release clause having expired already, the Blaugrana are confident they can negotiate a deal for the Argentina international.

  According to Cadena Ser, Inter would be prepared to accept €70m cash plus defender Junior Firpo, with the Brazilian valued at €41m.

  The Dominican left-back turns 24 next month and was purchased from Real Betis for €18m just a year ago.

  He has made 21 competitive appearances this season, contributing one goal and two assists.

  It would be surprising if Inter were to agree that Junior Firpo is worth €41m, so they would request another player or more cash to make up the value of Lautaro Martinez.

  You can read a betting preview for SPAL vs. Inter on Eurotips.co.uk.

  Mundo Deportivo also maintain Lautaro is trying to push through the transfer to Barcelona by refusing to sign a new Inter contract.

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Georginio Wijnaldum picks his perfect midfielder with Soccer AM’s Tubes

What a player he was. I think he had everything, which is why he was one of the best midfielders who ever played in the game. He played for Liverpool so that’s why I choose him.

Strength of… Clarence Seedorf
What a monster he was and still is now. There was a picture on social media where you saw how fit he still was. I think it was on the beach that picture and you could see how fit and strong he is even after his career, hopefully I will have that also.


His engine is unbelievable. I see it in the games and in training, the way he plays and how fit he is. I hope I can reach that level too. He’s non-stop, I have to say when you play against him, it’s really tough because Milner is the type of player who will never stop giving everything so you always have to be 100 per cent concentrated and have to give every time 100 per cent otherwise you will lose from him. He’s a really tough competitor.

Football brain of… Xavi

He was unbelievable. I think him and [Andres] Iniesta were the two who, when they were together, were unbelievable. He was a good player and the brain of Barcelona.

Skill of… Andrea Pirlo
What a player. You can play him every ball in big spaces, tiny spaces, he always had the solution for that situation. His first touch was unreal, that’s why I chose him.

Leadership of… Jordan Henderson

I’ve played with a few players who have great leadership, I have to say Kevin Strootman and Jordan Henderson were, I think, above the other ones. Mark Van Bommel was also a good leader and a good captain, but out of the three of them, I have to chose Henderson.

It can be annoying [when he is motivating players on the pitch], but if you think about why he’s doing it, it’s only to help you as a person and the team so if you think about it in that way, you always appreciate it so we are really happy with the way Henderson is.

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