Barcelona Reportedly Begin Search for Samuel Umtiti Replacement as Man Utd Close in on Defender

?Barcelona are reportedly fearing the departure of Manchester United target Samuel Umtiti and have started their search for a replacement as a result. 

The 24-year-old defender has so far failed to agree a contract extension with La Blaugrana despite the club’s desperate attempts to tie him up to a new deal, consequently opening the door for the Red Devils to table a mammoth offer – as per ?Sport

Valencia v Barcelona - La Liga

Jose Mourinho is expected to bolster his defensive ranks throughout the summer and Umtiti is one of the names at the top of his list. United are prepared to meet his £52m release clause and table a sizeable weekly contract to secure his signature. 

Although the Spanish outfit have not resigned to losing the defender, their ?unwillingness to meet his personal demands have led to the club drawing up a list of potential replacements as they fear an imminent departure

Barcelona have cast their eye towards the Bundesliga in search of a new defender who they hope will slot seamlessly into the club, have youth on their side and be eager to grow and develop with the Spanish giants.

RB Leipzig centre back Dayot Upamecano has emerged as a top target for the Catalans after impressing in Germany’s top flight, but his €100m buy-out clause is likely to be a stumbling block should any attempt be made to secure his services – with Leipzig proving to be strong negotiators. 

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Schalke starlet Thilo Kehrer also finds himself the subject of Barcelona’s interest and is likely to cost a third of Upamecano’s price tag.

The loss of Umtiti is a major concern for La Blaugrana as the 24-year-old has developed a strong relationship alongside Gerard Pique, and appeared to be the future of the club’s defensive brigade. 


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Atletico Push to Extend French Forward’s Contract & Raise Release Clause Amid Links With Barcelona

?Atletico Madrid are pushing for Antoine Griezmann to sign a new contract to earn more from his potential sale to Barcelona this summer.

Griezmann’s move to the Spanish league leaders has been looking increasingly likely this season, and he could be signed this summer for £87.5m – give that’s the active release clause in his contract. Manchester United also remain interested in the Frenchman. 

Reports from Spanish newspaper ?Mundo Deportivo claim that Atletico want to increase Griezmann’s release clause to €200m (£175m) or even €300 (£265m) to prevent Barcelona or any other club from getting a bargain. 

Atleti also want to remove another clause in Griezmann’s current contract which states that his former club Real Sociedad would receive 20 per cent of any future transfer fee. As things stand that would mean that Atleti would lose £17.5m of the fee they would receive for Griezmann. 

The 27-year-old has scored 23 goals for Atleti in all competitions this season and has become one of the most coveted strikers in Europe. Manchester United were said to be leading the race for the Atletico star, but Barcelona have emerged as the favourites. 

Earlier this month it was reported that ?Barcelona had made a gentleman’s agreement with Atletico where they said they would actively pursue Griezmann unless the striker himself put in a transfer request. 

Griezmann has stated that he wishes to resolve his future before the start of the World Cup this summer. This means that Atletico will need to hurry with tabling their contract or they risk losing their star striker for a much smaller price. 


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‘He’ll Have to Settle for 3rd Place’: Brazil Legend Feels Neymar Can’t Compete With Ronaldo & Messi

?Real Madrid and Brazil legend Roberto Carlos has claimed that fellow countryman Neymar will never win the Ballon d’Or while Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are still ‘in form’. 

Carlos supported Neymar’s decision to leave Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain, but he does not believe the move improved his chances of winning the prestigious world’s best player award. 

Speaking to France Football, via ?EuroSport, Carlos stated: “I think he did well to sign at PSG. To be the best in the world he had to leave Barca because there is [Lionel] Messi. 

Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

“Even if he must be aware that, as long as Messi and Ronaldo are in form, he will have to settle for third place.”

Neymar has had an impressive start to his PSG career, scoring 28 goals and providing 16 assists in all competitions this season. However, due to his recent injury keeping him out of the rest of the season, it is unlikely that he will be in contention for the next Ballon d’Or, as Messi and Ronaldo have continue to impress. 

Messi has 37 goals in 43 games this season, and Ronaldo, despite beginning the season with poor scoring form, has 38 goals in 37. 

This sort of goalscoring prowess is difficult for anyone to compete with, and has led to the two dominating the Ballon d’Or award for the past decade.  


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Barcelona Stars Reportedly Want Club to Sign Liverpool Forward Rather Than Atletico Madrid Star

Lionel Messi and other Barcelona stars reportedly want the club to sign Liverpool star Mohamed Salah rather than Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann.

Salah joined the Reds last summer in a £34m deal from Roma. He has had an excellent first campaign with Liverpool so far. The forward has made 40 appearances for the club this season and scored 36 times, including the four goals he netted in his last outing for Liverpool during their 5-0 win over Watford. 

The Egypt international’s form this season has seen him linked with Spanish side Real Madrid, however it has been ?claimed that they are prioritising the transfer of Eden Hazard this summer.

Liverpool v Watford - Premier League

It now seems like the players of one of Los Blancos’ rivals want the 25-year-old to join their club, instead of another one of their reported targets. According to ?Don BalonLionel Messi and other Barcelona stars want Salah rather than Griezmann because of comments he made previously about rivals Real Madrid.

The Barcelona players are less than impressed about Griezmann’s previous comments which revealed a fondness for Los Blancos, along with the alleged recordings which have recently emerged showing him discussing a transfer to Barcelona’s rivals during his time at Real Sociedad. 

Salah recently revealed his delight at playing for Liverpool. Speaking to ?FourFourTwo in the March 2018 issue, he said: “Ever since I was a kid, I had been a Liverpool fan – they were my favourite Premier League club. 

“I’ve loved the club since I was young and knew this was a team I wanted to play for. I knew the history that this club has and, as soon as I got the chance, I had to make it happen.”


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VIDEO: Injured Lionel Messi Walks Out During Argentina’s Abysmal 6-1 Defeat to Spain

Lionel Messi stopped watching his Argentina side as La Albiceleste were thrashed 6-1 by Spain on Tuesday night. The Argentina captain was sitting the game out through injury, and took up his position in an executive box to watch his side at Atlético Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

After seeing his side concede six goals, including a hat-trick from Real Madrid midfielder Isco, the 30-year-old Argentine had seen enough and made his way into the bowels of the stadium before the final whistle.

Messi has ?hinted at international retirement if Argentina fail at the World Cup this summer, and this looks increasingly likely judging by their abysmal performance against Spain.

Having captained Argentina to three international finals in a row – the 2014 World Cup and two Copa Américas – this summer could represent Messi’s last chance to achieve glory on the international stage. He has come agonisingly close in recent years, as Argentina have lost all three of the aforementioned finals in extra time or on penalties.

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The Argentina captain has 123 caps for his country, dating back to 2005, when he was introduced as a substitute in a friendly against Hungary aged just 18. He has captained his national side since 2011 and has scored 61 international goals.

The side have come agonisingly close to success on several occasions. The only thing Messi has won with the senior side is an Olympic gold medal from the 2008 games in Beijing. However, any side with Lionel Messi in their ranks is capable of winning trophies on the global stage.


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