Barca, Atleti in talks over Griezmann-Saul swap deal

Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are in talks about a swap deal which would see Antoine Griezmann and Saul Niguez switch clubs.

If the deal is completed, Griezmann would return to Atletico after moving to Barcelona in a €120m deal two years ago.

Barcelona believe Griezmann is worth more than Saul, and they are asking for €15m as part of the deal or more players such as Renan Lodi or Mario Hermoso.

Atletico are prepared to let Saul leave this summer after eight seasons at the club. He helped Atletico win La Liga last season.

Saul
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Barcelona are keen on sign Niguez from Atletico

Barcelona are willing to let Griezmann leave because they need to cut their wage bill.

Saul has been linked with a move to the Premier League, with reports crediting Manchester United and Liverpool with an interest in the midfielder.

Messi agrees new five-year Barca deal

Lionel Messi has agreed terms over a new deal at Barcelona
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Lionel Messi has agreed terms over a new deal at Barcelona

Lionel Messi has reached a verbal agreement on a five-year contract extension at Barcelona, with his salary to be reduced by 50 per cent under terms of the new deal.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner was officially a free agent as of July 1 after he failed to agree terms over a renewal before his previous Barcelona contract expired on June 30.

Earlier in July, Messi led Argentina to the Copa America title thanks to a 1-0 win in the final against hosts Brazil, bringing an end to his wait for a first major international trophy.

The 34-year-old has now agreed to stay on at his boyhood club for another five years, meaning he will be 39 by the time his new deal runs out – when he will have totalled 26 years on the club’s books.

Messi Q&A: How Barcelona can afford deal










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Spanish football expert Euan McTear explains the structure of the new five-year deal Lionel Messi has reportedly agreed with Barcelona and how they are going about being able to finance it

Spanish football expert Euan McTear tells Sky Sports News why there has been a delay to Messi committing his future at the Nou Camp and the possible repercussions of the new five-year contract…

Why have Barcelona offered such a lengthy contract?

“The reason it’s a five-year deal is it is likely Messi will play the next two years but it’s a longer deal so that he stays linked to the club as an ambassador. But the talk is he might go to MLS after two years while still being paid by the club.

“It’s a way for Barcelona to spread out the payment over five years. That’s part of the reason he’s been able to take such a massive cut of around 50 per cent.”

Will a 50 per cent pay cut work for Barcelona?

“It might but they will still have more work to do. Messi has been convinced to stay on for a while now but one of the reasons why they have not been able to register him so far is down to La Liga regulations. They have very strict financial control rules, where you cannot register new players until you have met their guidelines.

“They need to clear a lot of salary off their books and they are still working to do that. It’s why there’s been reports they might make a swap deal with Saul Niguez at Atletico Madrid and Antoine Griezmann. It would partly free up Griezmann’s high wages to then pay Messi.



Lionel Messi (AP)








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Spanish Football expert Alvaro Montero says he expects Lionel Messi to re-sign for Barcelona despite the financial restrictions the club is facing at the moment

So Griezmann will be sacrificed for Messi?

“There’s a lot of talk in Spain that Griezmann will head back to Atletico Madrid, but their fans will not entertain the prospect of Saul leaving at all. Diego Simeone wants to have Griezmann back at the club, and he’s very much in charge so if he wants something he could well get it.

“Griezmann is currently in Ibiza on holiday but is on standby and ready to fly into Madrid if that swap deal does go through. It’s a way for Barcelona to save around €12m in wages.”

How have Barcelona hit financial problems?

“The coronavirus pandemic has affected everybody – it’s affected Real Madrid, Atletico and Premier League clubs. But Barcelona were already in a bad situation basically due to mismanagement under the Bartomeu administration that came before the Joan Laporta-led regime.

“They were just waiting for a natural disaster or a pandemic to push them over the edge to create all kinds of problems, and that’s exactly what’s happened.”

Messi agrees five-year Barca deal with 50 per cent pay cut

Lionel Messi has reached a verbal agreement on a five-year contract extension at Barcelona, with his salary to be reduced by 50 per cent under terms of the new deal.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner was officially a free agent as of July 1 after he failed to agree terms over a renewal before his previous Barcelona contract expired on June 30.

Earlier in July, Messi led Argentina to the Copa America title thanks to a 1-0 win in the final against hosts Brazil, bringing an end to his wait for a first major international trophy.

The 34-year-old has now agreed to stay on at his boyhood club for another five years, meaning he will be 39 by the time his new deal runs out – when he will have totalled 26 years on the club’s books.

Messi sparked an acrimonious transfer row in August last year, when he officially informed the club his wish to activate a clause in his contract which would have seen him leave for free.

However, La Liga president Javier Tebas and Josep Maria Bartomeu – Barcelona president at the time – blocked the move, indicating that the clause was only active until June 10 and any suitor would have to pay his €700m release clause in full.

messi
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Lionel Messi finally won a major trophy with Argentina this summer

“I thought and we were sure that I’d be a free agent,” Messi told Goal.

“The president always told me that I could decide to stay or go at the end of the season and they’re now clinging to the fact that I hadn’t said anything by June 10, when it turns out that on June 10 the La Liga season was still ongoing and we were in the midst of this virus and this illness that altered the whole fixture calendar.

“And that’s the reason why I’m staying on at the club. I’m now staying because the president told me that the only way I could leave was by paying the €700m release clause, which is impossible.”

Bartomeu went on to resign in October, while Messi wanted to listen to the plans of his successor Joan Laporta before deciding his future.

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have been the front-running clubs interested in signing him. Messi also wants to one day play in MLS.

Messi Q&A: How Barcelona can afford deal



Lionel Messi (AP)








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Spanish Football expert Alvaro Montero says he expects Lionel Messi to re-sign for Barcelona despite the financial restrictions the club is facing at the moment.

Spanish football expert Euan McTear tells Sky Sports News why there has been a delay to Messi committing his future at the Nou Camp, and the possible repercussions of the new five-year contract…

Why have Barcelona offered such a lengthy contract?

“The reason it’s a five-year deal is that it is likely that Messi will play the next two years but it’s a longer deal so that he stays linked to the club as an ambassador. But the talk is he might go to MLS after two years while still being paid by the club.

“It’s a way for Barcelona to spread out the payment over five years. That’s part of the reason he’s been able to take such a massive cut of around 50 per cent.”

Will a 50 per cent pay cut work for Barcelona?

“It might but they’ll still have more work to do. Messi has been convinced to stay on for a while now but one of the reasons why they’ve not been able to register him so far is down to La Liga regulations. They have very strict financial control rules, where you cannot register new players until you’ve met their guidelines.

“They need to clear a lot of salary off their books and they’re still working to do that. It’s why there’s been reports they might make a swap deal with Saul Niguez at Atletico Madrid and Antoine Griezmann. It would partly free up Griezmann’s high wages to then pay Messi.

Antoine Griezmann scored twice in Barcelona's win over Villarreal
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Antoine Griezmann could be offloaded to generate funds

So Griezmann will be sacrificed for Messi?

“There’s a lot of talk in Spain that Griezmann will head back to Atletico Madrid, but their fans won’t entertain the prospect of Saul leaving at all. Diego Simeone wants to have Griezmann back at the club, and he’s very much in charge so if he wants something he could well get it.

“Griezmann is currently in Ibiza on holiday but is on standby and ready to fly into Madrid if that swap deal does go through. It’s a way for Barcelona to save around €12m in wages.”

How have Barcelona hit financial problems?

“The coronavirus pandemic has affected everybody – it’s affected Real Madrid, Atletico and Premier League clubs. But Barcelona were already in a bad situation basically due to mismanagement under the Bartomeu administration that came before the Joan Laporta-led regime.

“They were just waiting for a natural disaster or a pandemic to push them over the edge to create all kinds of problems, and that’s exactly what’s happened.”

Tebas: Man City signing Messi would be ‘financial doping’

La Liga president Javier Tebas claimed the only way Manchester City could sign Lionel Messi is through ‘financial doping’.

Messi became a free agent on July 1 and although the Argentine is keen to remain at Barcelona, the Catalan club cannot offer him a new deal due to their financial predicament.

Tebas ruled out La Liga relaxing their Financial Fair Play rules to allow the six-time Ballon d’Or winner to stay at the Nou Camp, saying Messi must take a substantial pay cut.

He also warned Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain that their recent financial losses mean they would be unable to match the Argentine’s previous salary.

The president of La Liga, Javier Tebas
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La Liga president Javier Tebas

“He won’t be able to sign [for Barcelona] on the previous conditions, that’s impossible,” said Tebas. “I don’t think any European club would be able to pay that amount.

“Manchester City have lost €270m [during the Covid-19 pandemic] so obviously they wouldn’t even consider signing Messi [on his old salary].

“If they do, it will be the financial doping. I’ve told [Pep] Guardiola this too. I’ve directly said that to him, ‘would you have won as many titles without as much economic doping?’

“When the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) let off Manchester City there was a lot of comments about that. (Jose) Mourinho and all these other coaches said this. If this happens I think it would be absolutely incredible.

“This is the sort of governance where we should establish minutes. This economic doping is what is really damaging football.

“It is not real money that’s involved because it is not generated by the clubs. If the money in the football industry isn’t generated by football, it just causes inflation. And it’s a bad type of inflation.

“Then it just ruins football because the clubs have to put in all this effort which is well above their financial capacity.

“We need to really fight against this and we will continue to do this all the time. This is one of our pending issues in European football and if it’s not solved soon it could lead us to a very complicated financial situation.”

Manchester City declined to comment when contacted by Sky Sports News.

It is not the first time Tebas has taken aim at Manchester City and PSG. In 2017 he also accused them of “financial doping” while last April he called for greater controls within football to check the power of the “state-owned clubs”.

Lionel Messi helped fire Argentina into the Copa America semi-finals
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Messi has led Argentina into the Copa America final

Messi has helped guide Argentina to the Copa America final and on Saturday will play against hosts Brazil hoping to win a first major trophy with his country.

But his club future still needs to be settled with the La Liga season starting again in five weeks’ time.

Tebas said the only way for Barca to keep their captain was to get rid of more players, having recently sold left-back Junior Firpo to Leeds United and USA international Konrad de la Fuente to Marseille.

“If no player leaves, it’s impossible,” he added.

“Currently Football Club Barcelona, like other clubs, have gone over the sport squad limit that was established by the Liga due to the pandemic.

“But in those particular cases when they’ve gone over it we have a regulation, which is called one by four. So we allow them to sign on new players, whenever they reduced the current wage bill.

“The regulation is for each euro that they want to use for sign-ups, they have to save four.”

Griezmann, Dembele apologise for video mocking hotel staff

Barcelona forwards Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann have apologised for a video released in 2019 which appeared to mock hotel staff in Japan, but denied their comments were racist.

The video, recorded by Dembele during Barcelona’s pre-season tour of Japan ahead of the 2019/20 season, was leaked on social media and showed both players laughing at a group of hotel staff who were working to fix a television.

“It all took place in Japan. It could’ve taken place anywhere on the planet and I would’ve used the same expression,” Dembele wrote on Instagram.

“I was therefore not targeting any community. I just happened to use this type of expression with my friends regardless of their origins.

Antoine Griezmann celebrates after scoring for France vs Hungary
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Griezmann and Dembele were involved in France’s Euro 2020 campaign as Didier Deschamps’ side were knocked out in the last 16

“This video has since been made public. I appreciate therefore that it could’ve hurt the people present in these images. Because of this, I would like to sincerely apologise to them.”

Griezmann said he was “completely against all forms of discrimination”.

“For the past few days, certain people have wanted to paint me as someone that I am not,” he said on Twitter. “I firmly refute the accusations made against me and I’m sorry if I have offended any of my Japanese friends.”

The pair recently featured for France at Euro 2020, where the world champions were knocked out by Switzerland in the round-of-16 following a penalty shootout.

Leeds sign defender Firpo from Barcelona

Leeds have completed the signing of full-back Junior Firpo from Barcelona for a fee of £12.8m.

Following a period of quarantine and completion of his medical, the full-back signed a four-year deal at Elland Road, running until the summer of 2025.

Born in the Dominican Republic, Firpo moved to Spain at a young age and made his breakthrough at Real Betis.

Making his first La Liga start in February 2018 in Betis’ 1-0 victory over Deportivo La Coruna, the full-back went on to become a first team regular at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.



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Jack Harrison hopes to play a pivotal role in Leeds’ progression after the winger completed a permanent move to Elland Road from Manchester City.

In August 2019, he joined Barcelona, where made 41 appearances. Barca are looking to shift players as they try to reduce their huge wage bill, with the Spanish club reportedly keen to release Samuel Umtiti and Miralem Pjanic, and loan out Philippe Coutinho – as they still need to find the money to offer Lionel Messi a new contract.

Firpo becomes Leeds’ third signing of the summer transfer window and will wear the number three shirt during his time at Elland Road.

He comes in as a replacement for Ezgjan Alioski, who failed to agree a new contract at the club.

Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports

You can follow all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports’ digital platforms, as well as keeping track of all the developments on Sky Sports News.