Barcelona have hit a giant stumbling block of their try to register Lionel Messi’s new contract — ESPN’s Insider Pocket book has the newest. PLUS: An ex-Man United star needed by Chelsea.
Leap to: Romero a Chelsea, Juve goal after United exit | Premier League golf equipment’ COVID fears | Barca again out of H&M collab | Vieira’s youth mission, targets Man Metropolis’s rising star | Bale’s World Cup hopes face disruption
Messi enterprise: Barcelona struggling to finance deal
Barcelona’s drive to scale back their wage invoice has hit a major impediment as they wrestle to make room to register their new signings and Lionel Messi’s new contract, numerous sources instructed ESPN. The membership should cut back their outgoings to make sure they adjust to La Liga’s spending limits subsequent season. If they can not, they threat not having the ability to register Messi’s new contract or new signings Memphis Depay, Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal.
Barca have till the top of the switch window on Aug. 31 to submit Messi’s deal and their new signings to La Liga, however internally they need all the things resolved earlier than Aug. 15, once they kick off their league season at house to Actual Sociedad. League president Javier Tebas has mentioned he won’t chill out the foundations for Barcelona, and a failure to get their funds so as may see Messi, if he indicators the five-year deal revealed by ESPN final week, unable to play till at the least January, as occurred with Getafe midfielder Pedro Leon in 2014.
Barca managed to maneuver on a number of children and fringe gamers earlier within the switch window, together with United States worldwide Konrad de la Fuente’s transfer to Marseille, however they’re struggling to eliminate the massive earners. The membership have additionally did not conform to phrases on a pay lower with long-serving gamers Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto. Sources mentioned director of soccer Mateu Alemany has spoken with the trio’s brokers, however none have proven an urge for food to chop their earnings to assist the membership but. Busquets earns round €16 million a 12 months on the membership, whereas Alba is on €13m and Roberto €10.5m.
ESPN beforehand defined that the quickest option to make these financial savings was via Antoine Griezmann, however talks for the ahead to return to Atletico Madrid have stalled. Barca and Atletico had been in negotiations over a swap deal, which might see midfielder Saul Niguez transfer within the different path to Camp Nou, however they can’t agree on participant valuations.
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Griezmann, who would fancy a transfer again to Atletico over a Premier League change, in response to ESPN sources, would not need to take a success on his wage of round €35m a 12 months, which suggests Barca could should contribute to his wages with a view to push any deal via. They did one thing comparable when Luis Suarez left for Atletico Madrid final summer time.
Miralem Pjanic and Samuel Umtiti have been instructed they do not have a future on the membership however neither are near leaving but. Like Griezmann, Pjanic, who’s drawing curiosity from Italy, would not need to take a wage lower. Sources say not one of the golf equipment who need the Bosnian midfielder can match his earnings.
Philippe Coutinho, who earns round €24m yearly, and Neto (€6.5m) are two different candidates to go away this summer time, however they may find yourself staying. Barca do not need to take a giant hit on the £142m they paid Liverpool for Coutinho in 2018, as revealed by ESPN, and coach Ronald Koeman is cautious of letting Neto go together with first-choice goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen out injured. — Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens
Chelsea and Juventus eager on ex-Man Utd keeper Romero
The goalkeeper has been training in Argentina while he sorts out his next move after leaving Old Trafford this summer at the end of his contract. The 34-year-old made 61 appearances in six years at Old Trafford.
European heavyweights Chelsea and Juventus are among a number of clubs to have registered their interest in the Argentina international. Spanish side Granada are also monitoring his situation.
Contrary to rumours, sources told ESPN there has not been contact with Leeds United, while a potential move to Everton is viewed as unlikely after they signed 34-year-old Asmir Begovic on a free transfer from Bournemouth.
Despite Romero’s exit, United still have four senior goalkeepers on their books. United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has sanctioned the arrival of Tom Heaton this summer while also handing Lee Grant a new one-year contract. Last season, David De Gea and Dean Henderson competed for the No.1 shirt. — Rob Dawson
Craig Burley and Jan Aage Fjortoft predict Manchester United will drop to fourth in the Premier League unless they make significant additions to the roster.
Premier League clubs fear COVID chaos
A string of top Premier League clubs are fearing COVID-19 chaos ahead of the new season, sources told ESPN.
Almost all coronavirus restrictions in the United Kingdom were lifted on July 19 — dubbed “Freedom Day” — despite a continued rise in infection numbers.
Premier League players are still being tested twice a week so that infections — asymptomatic or otherwise — will be picked up immediately, and clubs are concerned preseason preparations could be hampered if players are forced to isolate. They could also be left to play games with depleted squads when the new Premier League season begins on Aug. 14.
More than 600,000 people using the National Health Service’s COVID-19 app in England and Wales were sent self-isolation alerts last week. Self-isolation for people fully vaccinated and alerted by the app as close contacts of a positive test is due to be scrapped by Aug. 16. The government is recording around 40,000 new coronavirus cases a day.
Arsenal have already been forced to cancel their preseason trip to Florida because of a “small number” of positive cases within their squad. Manchester City have also had to scrap a friendly with Troyes because of new government rules about returning to the UK from France. The game was due to be played on July 31 but has been cancelled after City were told players and staff would have to quarantine for 10 days on their return to Manchester.
It has left Pep Guardiola’s side with just one game — against Championship side Preston North End on July 27 — before their Community Shield clash against Leicester at Wembley on Aug. 7. — Rob Dawson
Alejandro Moreno cautions clubs when looking at which players could be on the market during the summer of 2022.
Barcelona pull out of H&M deal
Barcelona have withdrawn from a deal with clothing retail company H&M over fears a partnership could damage their reputation in China, a source confirmed to ESPN. Talks were at an advanced stage over a collaboration that would have seen H&M supply leisurewear to be worn by Barca’s first-team players when they travel to matches.
However, as first revealed by Diario ARA, Barca backed out of negotiations when an employee from their Hong Kong office raised concerns about the repercussions the collaboration could create in China.
H&M sales in China have declined and the share price fell sharply in March, when the company raised concerns over alleged human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province, along with other large clothing brands including Nike, Burberry and Adidas. H&M, a Swedish company, said they would not source products from Xinjiang, a cotton-producing region, for that reason.
Asia is viewed as an important market for Barca. The club’s main sponsor is the Japanese company Rakuten, and they also have a partnership with the China Taiping Insurance Group. In 2014, the Catalan club opened an office in Hong Kong to help the club’s growth on the continent. — Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens
Vieira revolution taking shape at Palace
Patrick Vieira’s intention to breathe new life into Crystal Palace has led him to target rising Manchester City star Morgan Rogers, sources told ESPN.
Former New York City FC boss Vieira replaced Roy Hodgson this summer and has set about driving down the age of the Palace squad he inherited. Data compiled by the CIES Football Observatory last season found that at an average age of 29.2, Palace had the oldest squad in the Premier League.
Vieira has reacted by making two eye-catching signings — highly rated defender Marc Guehi (21) from Chelsea for around £18m and midfielder Michael Olise (18) from Championship side Reading. Next up could be 18-year-old Manchester City forward Rogers, who impressed during a loan spell at League One Lincoln City last term. Rogers scored six goals at the third tier side and might find opportunities at City hard to come by in the coming years, with the club pursuing Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish.
Meanwhile, City will not be signing left-back Nuno Mendes from Sporting Lisbon this summer, sources told ESPN. City have been heavily linked with the 19-year-old in Portugal, but privately the Premier League champions have forcefully denied they hold any interest at all. Sources added their aim this summer is to strengthen their attack. — Rob Dawson
Bomb threat casts shadow over Bale’s World Cup plans
Gareth Bale’s hopes of a World Cup farewell with Wales at Qatar 2022 face disruption during the next round of qualifiers due to the prospect of qualification rivals Belarus being forced to stage their home games in a neutral country. Next year’s World Cup could be Bale’s last hope of featuring at the tournament, with the Real Madrid winger 33 next year.
Wales, who must secure a top-two finish in Group E to either qualify directly or go through the playoffs, are scheduled to resume their qualifying campaign by facing Belarus in Minsk on Sept 5. But the Football Association of Wales are still waiting for confirmation of a venue due to all flights into Belarus air space being banned by the United Kingdom and European Union following the forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk in May, when the Belarussian authorities warned of a bomb threat to the aircraft before proceeding to arrest an opposition activist travelling on the plane once it was on the ground.
Belarus are due to host Wales and Belgium in Minsk during the next round of international fixtures, but sources told ESPN that the games will be moved to a neutral venue if the flight ban is not lifted in the coming weeks.
UEFA forced Belarussian champions Shakhtyor Soligorsk to stage their Champions League first qualifying round home tie against Bulgarian team Ludogorets in Belgrade, Serbia, earlier this month because of the current situation, and sources have said that there is little optimism that the political landscape will change in time for Belarus to face Wales and Belgium in Minsk. — Mark Ogden