Transfer talk: Lionel Messi fuels Barcelona exit talk; Manchester United want Thomas Muller and Morgan Schneiderlin; Mario Balotelli latest

The biggest transfer news and rumours on Tuesday 13 January

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The Independent Online

Lionel Messi put clubs on red alert that he could seek a Barcelona exit in the summer, less than 24 hours after labelling talk of a move to Chelsea, Manchester City and Paris St-Germain as “lies”. Messi was in Zurich to attend the Ballon d’Or gala where Cristiano Ronaldo was crowned the best player in the world for 2014, with the Argentinian finishing a narrow second ahead of Manuel Neuer. However, it was Messi’s comments in the pre-show press conference that stunned those in attendance, with the Barcelona striker admitting he does not know where he will be playing next season.

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“I don’t know where I will be next season,” he said. “I would like to finish with Newell’s [the club from his hometown of Rosario]. As Cristiano Ronaldo says, only God knows the future. Things in football can change overnight.” Despite the belief that Messi could perform the unthinkable and leave the Nou Camp, his £200m transfer fee and subsequent £300m in wages and add-ons are likely to rule out most clubs from a move.

Closer to home, Manchester United are being linked with moves for Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin and Bayern Munich forward Thomas Müller. Schneiderlin was part of the Southampton side that defeated United 1-0 on Sunday evening and the Frenchman has already been touted with a move to either Tottenham or Arsenal after pushing for a St Mary’s exit last summer. However, the Daily Express claims United have entered the race to sign the highly regarded 25-year-old.

 

A move for Müller would be a much bigger surprise given his success at Bayern in recent years. Müller, who helped Germany to World Cup success last year, worked under United manager Louis van Gaal during his days at the Allianz Arena, but he has previously played down talk of linking up with the Dutchman at Old Trafford.

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Thomas Muller

"It's no secret that Louis van Gaal and I have a relationship that goes a little beyond the normal relationship between coaches and players,” Müller said earlier in the season. "[But] I have a contract with Bayern Munich until summer 2017." Despite this, the Daily Star reports that he is desperate to leave Bavaria and has instructed his agent to secure him a move to another club in Europe.

Arsenal are closing in on the signing of 17-year-old Legia Warsaw midfielder Krystian Bielik with the Gunners set to pay £2.5m for the highly rated teenager. However, as reported by The Independent, they still face fierce competition for the Pole from German side Hamburg. Meanwhile, Arsenal striker Yaya Sanogo has finally completed his loan to Crystal Palace until the end of the season after the Eagles confirmed the news this morning.

Finally, Juventus remain in the hunt to take Mario Balotelli on loan from Liverpool with a view to a £14m permanent transfer in the summer, which could end the Italian’s stay at Anfield just five months after he arrived with the task of replacing Luis Suarez. Balotelli has failed to settle with the Reds and has been limited to appearances from the bench such is his lack of form, and The Times reports that the Serie A champions could offer him a way out with the club looking to bring in a replacement for Carlos Tevez – whose contract expires at the end of next season and has already confirmed he won’t be extending it.

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Balotelli hasn't settled at Liverpool and could leave this month

Any departure of Balotelli could pave the way for a move for Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain, who is reportedly set to be sold by the Italian club after they landed Manolo Gabbiadini from Sampdoria last weekend.

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