Lionel Messi has finally addressed rumours that he is set for a dramatic Barcelona exit after falling out with manager Luis Enrique, with the Ballon d’Or candidate reported to be considering a £200m move to Chelsea, Manchester City or Paris St-Germain. Following the 3-1 victory over Spanish champions Atletico Madrid last night, Messi acknowledged the recent transfer talk, but disregarded them as “false”.
"I don't demand anything for me to stay because I have no intention of leaving anywhere," Messi told Barca TV. "I've heard stories I've spoken to Chelsea or City, that's all lies. I've heard so many things. There have been things said in the past that I have bad relationships with (Pep) Guardiola, (Samuel) Eto'o, Bojan, Ibra (Zlatan Ibrahimovic), that's not true. I never asked for them to get rid of the coach or anybody. That's not true, I would never do that.”
Meanwhile, following Manchester United’s surprising 1-0 defeat to Southampton at Old Trafford, Louis van Gaal is reported to have entered the race to sign midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin as he continues to be linked with a St Mary’s exit. The Frenchman’s influence on the Saints is clear to see as he protects the back four and links up play with the attacking trio in front of him, but he appears to be in his final season on the south coast with talk of a move to Tottenham and Arsenal already cropping up. According to the Daily Express, United have now joined that battle, and could attempt to steal a march on their Premier League rivals by moving for the 25-year-old this month.
Transfer talk - 12 January
Transfer talk - 12 January
1/4 Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Linked with: Chelsea, Manchester City, PSG
2/4 Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton)
Linked with: Manchester United, Tottenham, Arsenal
3/4 Wilfried Bony (Swansea)
Linked with: Manchester City
4/4 Rickie Lambert (Liverpool)
Linked with: Crystal Palace
United are also believed to be close to completing the signing of Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte, with the Daily Star reporting that a £25m move is “80 per cent” complete. The 20-year-old has been tipped as a star in the making and is destined to play for the France national team, and he would be the second player to head to Old Trafford from the La Liga side following the acquisition of Ander Herrera in the summer. However, both Chelsea and Arsenal are also reported to be in the running for his signature.
Manchester City have agreed a £25m fee for Swansea striker Wilfried Bony, though that could rise to £28m should City win the Premier League, Champions League or FA Cup and he play 60 per cent or more of their matches in the relevant competition. Bony is currently away on African Cup of Nations duty with the Ivory Coast, but The Independent confirmed that the two clubs have agreed a fee over his move to the Etihad. However, personal terms still remain a problem with Bony currently unwilling to agree a ‘pay as you play’ deal that will see him signed largely on a bonus-driven contract.
Liverpoolstriker Rickie Lambert looks set to remain at Anfield this month despite talk of a move to another Premier League club after new Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew confirmed he held unsuccessful talks with Brendan Rodgers regarding the England striker. Lambert has not scored in the Premier League since completing his summer move from Southampton, and Pardew revealed that the 32-year-old remains determined to fight for his place at Liverpoo. “I had a conversation with Brendan [Rodgers about Lambert] but I don’t think Rickie is going anywhere,” Pardew said following the 2-1 win over Tottenham. “I think Rickie wants to stay there and try and win his position.”
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