Messi: I’m keen on Barca return when I stop playing at PSG

Lionel Messi intends to return to Barcelona at the end of his time at Paris Saint-Germain and wants to help the La Liga club in a technical director role.

The 34-year-old concluded his 21-year association with the Catalonia club in the summer with Barca unable to offer him a new contract amid ongoing financial difficulties, and Messi said goodbye in an emotional press conference before joining PSG on a two-year deal.

Six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi scored 672 goals in 778 games for Barca and won 34 major trophies during his time there. He has stated it remains his plan to come back to the Nou Camp in the future.

When asked whether his next career move will be a return to Barca in the summer of 2023, Messi told Spanish outlet SPORT: “I don’t know if that’ll happen when my PSG contract is up. What’s almost confirmed and certain is that we’ll return to Barcelona to live and our lives will be there.

Lionel Messi
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Messi joined PSG on a free transfer during the last transfer window

“That’s what my wife and I want. I don’t know what’ll happen when my PSG contract ends, but we’ll go back to live in Barcelona.

“I’ve always said I’d love to be able to help the club do well in any way that I can be useful. I’d love to be a technical director at some point.

“I don’t know if that’ll be at Barcelona or if it might work out differently.

“If the option is there, I’d love to contribute again in any way that I can because it’s the club that I love and I’d love it to keep doing well, growing and remain one of the best in the world.”

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Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino was delighted with Lionel Messi’s first goal for the club and warned he can get even better

Messi on ‘inappropriate’ Laporta claims

When negotiating terms of a new five-year deal at Barcelona in the summer, Messi offered to reduce his salary by 50 per cent before it came to light that the club could not give him a new contract.

In October, Barcelona president Joan Laporta said he had hoped Messi would agree to play for free right up until the point that it became apparent the club was unable to afford to keep him.

On Laporta’s comments, Messi said: “Never at any moment did they ask me to play for free. They asked me to reduce my salary by 50 per cent and I did it without any problem.

FC Barcelona club President Joan Laporta pauses during a news conference in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Aug. 6, 2021. Barcelona announced on Thursday Aug. 5, 2021 that Lionel Messi will not stay with the club. He is leaving after 17 successful seasons in which he propelled the Catalan club to glory, helping it win numerous domestic and international titles since debuting as a teenager. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)..
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Barcelona president Joan Laporta said he was ‘disappointed’ that an agreement could not be reached in the summer

“We were willing to help the club more. My desire and that of my family was to stay in Barcelona.

“No one asked me to play for free, but at the same time, the president’s words were inappropriate. It hurt because I don’t think there was any need to say that.

“It’s like taking the ball from you and not accepting the responsibility or taking charge of things. That makes people think and generates doubts that I don’t think I deserve.”

Messi limped off injured in PSG’s 2-1 win over champions Lille on Friday but their head coach Mauricio Pochettino remains hopeful he will be available for Wednesday’s Champions League game at RB Leipzig.

The Argentina international is without a goal in five Ligue 1 games so far this term, although he has scored three times in the Champions League.

Barcelona, who are ninth in La Liga and were held to 1-1 draw against Alaves on Saturday, relieved head coach Ronald Koeman of his duties last week amid the club’s poor start to the season.

Euro: Barca held in first game after Koeman | Juve lose again

Barcelona stumbled to a 1-1 draw at home to Alaves on Saturday in their first match since the sacking of coach Ronald Koeman.

Barca’s third consecutive La Liga game without a win left them ninth in the standings, eight points behind leaders Real Madrid.

After a cagey first half, Dutch forward Memphis Depay put Barcelona ahead four minutes after the interval with a fine strike from outside the penalty area.

The lead lasted only three minutes, however, as Alaves winger Luis Rioja conjured up an excellent equaliser, playing a neat one-two with Joselu before rounding Barca ‘keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen to score.

Memphis Depay rescued a point for Barcelona
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Memphis Depay rescued a point for Barcelona

Barcelona suffered another setback when striker Sergio Aguero was forced off late in the first half due to injury ahead of their Champions League clash at Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Vinicius Junior took over the scoring duties from Karim Benzema by netting twice to help Real Madrid win 2-1 at 10-man Elche and move to the top of La Liga.

Vinicius opened the scoring with a 22nd-minute strike. After Elche midfielder Ral Guti was sent off for a second booking, the Brazilian winger then put the result beyond doubt in the 73rd.

Vinicius opened the scoring with a 22nd-minute strikeand put the result beyond doubt in the 73rd
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Vinicius Junior opened the scoring with a 22nd-minute strike and put the result beyond doubt in the 73rd

Elche substitute Pere Milla pulled one back with four minutes to play.

The 21-year-old Vinicius once again showed his much-improved finishing. The double took his tally in all competitions to nine in 14 appearances this season, compared to six goals in 47 outings in 2020-21.

Real Sociedad are level on points with Real before hosting Athletic Bilbao in a Basque Country derby on Sunday. After that, Real will still have a game in hand.

Elsewhere, goals either side of half-time from Diego Carlos and Lucas Ocampos helped Sevilla beat Osasuna and move them level on 24 points with Real.

Bundesliga: Bayern Munich bounce back

Robert Lewandowski scored twice for Bayern Munich at Union Berlin
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Robert Lewandowski scored twice for Bayern Munich at Union Berlin

Bundesliga top scorer Robert Lewandowski scored twice to lead Bayern Munich to a 5-2 victory at Union Berlin on Saturday as the German champions bounced back from their shock midweek German Cup exit to stay top of the league table.

The Pole struck with a 15th-minute penalty and then hammered in a free-kick for his 12th goal of the campaign, with Leroy Sane, Kingsley Coman and Thomas Muller also on target in a rollercoaster encounter and Union’s first home loss of the season.

The Bavarians, who stunningly lost 5-0 to Borussia Moenchengladbach on Wednesday in their heaviest German Cup loss ever, moved up to 25 points.

But their backline, that proved so vulnerable against Gladbach, was again far from solid, angering ‘keeper Manuel Neuer, who made a string of good saves as Union kept attacking.

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Highlights of the Bundesliga match between Union Berlin and Bayern Munich

“We obviously wished for such a start and it really worked well in the beginning,” Neuer said. “The two goals we conceded are frustrating.

“But we are satisfied that we managed to show a different performance today.”

Borussia Dortmund did not need many chances and scored once in each half to beat Cologne 2-0 with an efficient display that kept them a point behind leaders Bayern.

Dortmund, missing more than half a dozen players through injury including top scorer Erling Haaland, squandered a couple of golden early opportunities to captain Marco Reus but Thorgan Hazard did better in the 40th minute.

Borussia Dortmund did not need many chances and scored once in each half to beat Cologne 2-0
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Borussia Dortmund did not need many chances and scored once in each half to beat Cologne 2-0

Jude Bellingham delivered a superb chip into the box and the Belgian timed his run to perfection to head home.

Steffen Tigges added another for the hosts in the 64th minute, heading in a corner to give them a two-goal cushion with his first Bundesliga goal, much to the relief of the 67,000 fans in the stadium.

High-flying Freiburg stayed third with a 3-1 win over last-place Greuther Furth, and Wolfsburg defeated Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 away in Florian Kohfeldt’s first game as coach. Also, Mainz won 2-1 at Arminia Bielefeld.

Serie A: Juventus misery continues

Juventus' Paulo Dybala reacts during Juventus' defeat at Hellas Verona
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Juventus’ Paulo Dybala reacts during Juventus’ defeat at Hellas Verona

Juventus‘ miserable start to the Serie A season continued as they lost 2-1 at Hellas Verona, with an early double from Giovanni Simeone dropping Massimiliano Allegri’s side to ninth in the standings.

Giovanni Simeone, eldest son of Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone, scored four in last weekend’s 4-1 win over Lazio, and he added two more goals inside 14 minutes in Veneto.

The first was a poacher’s finish from close range and the second was a sensational, dipping effort from distance to stun a static Juve defence.

Allegri rang the changes in the second half as he looked to turn things around, with one of his substitutes — American Weston McKennie – firing home 10 minutes from time.

The visitors could not find an equaliser, however, as they slipped to their second league defeat in four days to stay 13 points behind leaders Napoli having played one game more, while Verona climbed to eighth with a deserved victory.

Ligue 1: Lyon weather Lens storm to go fifth

Lyon hung on for dear life in the second half to claim a 2-1 home win against second-placed RC Lens and move up to fifth in the Ligue 1 standings on Saturday.

After opening up a 2-0 lead in a clinical first half thanks to goals by Karl Toko Ekambi and Houssem Aouar, Lyon then struggled and Lens pulled one back through Arnaud Kalimuendo.

They now have 19 points from 12 games and trail Lens by two points. Leaders Paris Saint-Germain have 31 points after beating champions Lille 2-1 on Friday.

Aguero taken to hospital after suffering chest discomfort

Sergio Aguero was taken to hospital after complaining of chest discomfort during Barcelona’s draw with Alaves.

The 33-year-old striker was withdrawn before half-time after receiving treatment for several minutes during the La Liga match at the Nou Camp.

He was seen holding his chest and will undergo cardiac tests at hospital as a precautionary measure, after leaving the ground in an ambulance. He was replaced by Philippe Coutinho.

Confirming the news, Barcelona wrote on Twitter: ” @aguerosergiokun reported chest discomfort and has been admitted to the hospital for a cardiac exam.”

Aguero’s former team Manchester City also sent a message of support and wished the Argentine well.

“Everyone at Manchester City wishes you a speedy recovery, @aguerosergiokun. We’re with you.”

Barcelona, who were led by caretaker boss Sergi Barjuan for the first time following the departure of Ronald Koeman, were held to a 1-1 draw by Alaves.

Former Manchester United forward Memphis Depay opened the scoring before Luis Rioja levelled to earn a point for the visitors.

Barcelona remain in ninth place in the table – eight points behind fierce rivals Real Madrid, who beat Elche 2-1.

Xavi on Barcelona job: I’m focused on Al Sadd

Xavi says he is focused on his role as manager of Qatari side Al Sadd amid speculation he could succeed Ronald Koeman at his former club Barcelona.

Barca sacked Koeman after a defeat by Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday and have since appointed “B” team coach Sergi Barjuan as interim manager.

Barca president Joan Laporta indicated on Friday that talks with the 41-year-old Xavi, who enjoyed a trophy-laden 17-year spell at the club, had advanced but no agreement had yet been reached.

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Barcelona president Joan Laporta says he has been in contact with Xavi over the last few weeks but refused to confirm whether he will replace Ronald Koeman as the club’s new head coach

“I’m currently focused on my work with Al Sadd and I cannot talk about anything else,” Xavi, whose side are preparing for a Qatar Stars League game against Al Ahli on Saturday, told a news conference on Friday.

In May, Xavi signed a contract to extend his stay in charge of Al Sadd for another two years.

He turned down the chance to coach Barcelona in January 2020 after Ernesto Valverde was dismissed, but was linked with the top job at the Camp Nou, even after Koeman succeeded Quique Setien.

Xavi has enjoyed great success since moving to Doha in 2019, winning seven major trophies for the reigning Qatar Stars League champions, who took to Twitter to insist their coach is not eyeing a move away.

“In response to what is circulating recently, the #AlSadd management reaffirms that Xavi has a two-year contract with the club and is fully focused on the team’s upcoming matches, to maintain our lead at the top of the league and to defend the title,” Al Sadd tweeted.

Barcelona are ninth in La Liga with 15 points from 10 games, nine points adrift of leaders Real Sociedad, and trailing second-placed Real Madrid by six points. They host Alaves on Saturday.

Pep: Xavi ready for Barcelona job

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Pep Guardiola has no doubts his former Barcelona team-mate Xavi is ready to become manager of the La Liga side

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes his former Barcelona team-mate is ready to become head coach at the Nou Camp.

Guardiola expressed his sympathy for Koeman following his sacking but says he has no doubts about Xavi’s ability to manage the Catalan club.

“Ronald and myself know exactly that we depend and live and we are there for the results,” said former Barcelona boss Guardiola.

“Nobody can survive without good results, not Koeman or Pep. All I can say is he’s a friend of mine, I wish him all the best, we can chat soon…

“Xavi – I don’t know what’s going to happen. In case it happens I don’t have any doubts he’s ready to do the job.

“He knows the game, he has passion and I’m pretty sure he has more experience now than I had when I took over.”

Barcelona president Laporta reveals Xavi talks

Barcelona president Joan Laporta admits he has been in contact with Xavi over the last few weeks but refused to confirm whether he will take over from Ronald Koeman at the Nou Camp.

Koeman was sacked as manager after Wednesday’s defeat at Rayo Vallecano left Barca well off the pace in La Liga, with Laporta conceding he should have made the decision sooner.

Former midfielder Xavi, currently in charge of Qatari club Al Sadd, is the heavy favourite to be Koeman’s replacement and the pair have been talking.

Barcelona B boss Sergi Barjuan will take the team on an interim basis, starting against Alaves at the weekend.

“My opinion about Xavi as a manager is he is in a process learning, evolving, I have really good references from close people who know him better than me in that way,” Laporta said at a press conference on Friday.

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Barcelona president Joan Laporta admits he should have sacked head coach Ronald Koeman earlier after dismissing the Dutchman on Wednesday night

“I talked with him two months ago when we gave Ronald Koeman this confidence because I understand that we had to give him those months, the team needed some time to recover.

“I have a great relationship with Xavi, I have been speaking with him in the last month, I know his opinion about this squad, what he thinks has to happen. We talk as two friends and in this case, my opinion is a really good one.

“I am talking to him because he loves football, he is a huge Barca fan, it is one of his goals in his life.

“If he is the one able to manage this squad, I have a great relationship with him and he is a possibility because we will see how everything will continue evolving.

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ESPN’s Barcelona correspondent, Sam Marsden, says the club are currently in talks with former midfielder Xavi

“These are private conversations between friends and I cannot explain what we talked about.

“I already told you and I cannot explain anything about our options because it will not be professional and it will affect our plans. I am sorry, but I cannot tell you anything.

“I have always said one day he will be Barca’s head coach but I don’t know when. We have great references about Xavi at Al Sadd.

“All our reports about Xavi are positive. We can talk a lot about Xavi but I cannot give you more details. He is in all the papers, but we also have other options.”

Koeman got a vote of confidence several months ago, but Laporta accepts he should have been fired sooner in the season.

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Koeman knew his time was up as Barcelona head coach but some supporters think he was in an impossible position, says La Liga TV presenter Semra Hunter

“Probably, yes,” he said. “Looking back it is easy to analyse, we felt Koeman deserved confidence to recover some injured players and it was a way to motivate the manager.

“I looked for some positives. Probably we had to make an earlier decision, I assume the responsibilities of this decision.

“The situation was not sustainable. We needed to act. We were not on course to achieve the objectives of the season, which is to win titles.”

Barjuan, who played 382 times for Barca in the 1990s and early 2000s, is happy to hold the fort.

“My objective is to win and have this team winning their games,” he said.

“We are going to try and reverse the situation and I am going to try and add my grain of salt to change the dynamics of this team and the situation.

“If we see that things are going well then good, but if we need to take different decisions then we will do that.”

Pep: Xavi ready for Barcelona job

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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says he has no doubts his former team-mate Xavi is ready to become Barcelona head coach

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes his former Barcelona team-mate is ready to become head coach at the Nou Camp.

Guardiola expressed his sympathy for Koeman following his sacking but says he has no doubts about Xavi’s ability to manage the Catalan club.

“Ronald and myself know exactly that we depend and live and we are there for the results,” said former Barcelona boss Guardiola.

“Nobody can survive without good results, not Koeman or Pep. All I can say is he’s a friend of mine, I wish him all the best, we can chat soon…

“Xavi – I don’t know what’s going to happen. In case it happens I don’t have any doubts he’s ready to do the job.

“He knows the game, he has passion and I’m pretty sure he has more experience now than I had when I took over.”