Lionel Messi to Chelsea: £500m deal 'impossible', says assistant Steve Holland

Holland was sitting in a press conference for the absent Jose Mourinho

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The Independent Online

Chelsea have distanced themselves from the prospect of making a £500million move for Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

The Barclays Premier League leaders have been linked with Messi following claims in Spain this week that the 27-year-old's relationship with Barca coach Luis Enrique has broken down.

Assistant-coach Steve Holland believes the sums involved in luring Messi away from the Nou Camp make the transfer impossible for any club.

Facing the media in place of absent manager Jose Mourinho, Holland said on Friday: "Jose has made it quite clear that in this window his expectation is that nobody comes and nobody goes.

Steve-Holland.jpg
Chelsea assistant Steve Holland

"I recall him this time last year saying a similar thing, but a couple of things happened that made us reactive. Manchester United made a huge bid for Juan Mata. Sometimes you have to react.

"But the hope and expectation is that nobody leaves and nobody comes. We're happy with what we have.

"This club conforms with financial fair play - we've brought one or two players in over the last 12 months but it's quite clear that players have been sold to balance the books.

"When you look at the numbers being mentioned around the Messi deal, I think it's almost an impossible deal for any club working within the restraints of financial fair play."

Holland spoke to the media after Mourinho had withdrawn from the press conference to preview Saturday's Premier League clash with Newcastle at Stamford Bridge in response to be being charged with misconduct by the Football Association.

Mourinho faces possible disciplinary action for the comments made about match officials after last month's 1-1 draw with Southampton, in which he spoke of a "clear campaign" against Chelsea.

The Portuguese claimed the campaign is being orchestrated by "people, pundits, commentators and coaches from other teams" and labelled the booking of Cesc Fabregas for diving at St Mary's on December 28 a "scandal".

Holland insists Mourinho has not been affected by the possibility of facing disciplinary action and insists he has the full support of the club.

"Jose has been fine, very focused on the game against Newcastle, as we all are," Holland said.

"There is a frustration with all of us, it's not just Jose but the coaching staff and players, at the accumulation of events that surfaced at the Southampton game with the decisions over Cesc. And to compound that he received a booking.

"The scrutiny managers are under these days... I spoke to another manager the other day about a different matter and he said he couldn't remember there being such an intensive period of games as this season.

"That's a view I'd share. The amount of games has been relentless and there has been a small period of time between the games.

"At Chelsea every match is high profile with many live on TV. It's human nature that at times the leader has those moments. Jose's had the right influence on the players and is a highly-experienced manager."

Chelsea have seen an eight-point lead at the summit of the Premier League reeled in by Manchester City and now top the table on alphabetical order alone ahead of Newcastle's visit.

"When you have a lead like we had, people make a lot of it. And when that lead goes, people make a lot of that," Holland said.

"Nobody here felt it was ever a conclusive margin that meant the story was over. This is the most competitive league in the world. At any moment points can be dropped.

"We're disappointed we don't have more of a cushion now, but at the same time the players have had an incredible first half of the season."

PA

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