Barcelona fans will be celebrating the fact they will get to watch their beloved Lionel Messi for another season after he announced he would be staying at the Nou Camp on Friday.
But the result of the high-profile arm wrestle between the world’s most iconic soccer player and one of its biggest clubs appears to have ended with neither camp able to claim victory.
On the face of it, the 33-year-old six-time world player of the year, appears to have backed down in the raging contract row ignited last week when he stated he wanted to leave for free.
Barcelona President, Josep Maria Bartomeu, backed by La Liga, insisted Messi’s contract, due to expire next summer, contained a release clause.
This means that for him to move to a new club, a 700 million euros fee would need to be paid.
In a statement on Friday, Messi said he was staying on reluctantly, rather than face a bitter court battle with the club he joined as a teenager and with whom he amassed more than 30 major trophies and netted over 600 goals.
”This was no ringing endorsement, though.
“I wanted to go and it was entirely my right, because the contract said that I can be released,” Messi said in an interview with Goal.com.
“I wanted to go because I thought about living my last years of football happily. Lately I have not found happiness within the club.”
Messi is rich beyond imagination; the fact that he will pocket a 70 million euros loyalty bonus, and get to leave on a free transfer next summer, would not have been a factor in his decision.
The Argentine has clearly become disenchanted with life at Barcelona. On the pitch, Barcelona’s 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League was a humiliation; off it, his relationship with Bartomeu has hit the rocks.
“I told the president and, well, the president always said that at the end of the season I can decide if I want to go or stay and in the end he did not keep his word,” Messi said.
He noted that he wanted to compete at the highest level, win titles and compete in the Champions League.
”You can win or lose in it because it is very difficult, but you have to compete”.
Ultimately, perhaps the most obvious beneficiaries of Messi’s decision are his family.
“When I communicated my wish to leave to my wife and children, it was a brutal drama.
“The whole family began crying, my children did not want to leave Barcelona.
“There may still be more tears to come though,” he said.
Messi’s love for Barca, and his adoring fans, means he is unlikely to go through the motions next season but new manager Ronald Koeman, a Bartomeu pick, now has an unhappy player on his hands as he tries to rebuild a squad that has gone stale.
Bartomeu may claim victory over Messi’s U-turn but the club could now see its greatest asset leave for nothing next summer instead of the mind-boggling sum that would have come after an unprecedented bidding war for his signature.
Manchester City, the club in pole position to sign Messi until Friday’s development, will be disappointed.
Still, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that they could still look to strike a deal in the current transfer window, or perhaps in the winter window when Barca may be more inclined to cash in while they can.
Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)https://nnn.ng/no-winners-as-messi-decides-to-stay-at-barcelo/
Aguero could be out of action until November, Guardiola says
Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero could miss the first two months of the 2020/2021 English Premier League (EPL) season, manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday.
Guardiola said this was because Aguero was yet to train with the club since suffering a knee injury in June.
The Argentine was sidelined for the last 12 matches of Manchester City’s 2019/2020 campaign, including their two UEFA Champions League fixtures in August.
Guardiola said the 32-year-old may not be fit until November.
“We knew the injury was difficult,” Guardiola said.
“He still hasn’t had one training session with us and Sergio is not a guy who regains his physical condition quickly.
“He has been out for a long time. So, maybe in one or two months he will be ready.”
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Whirlwind Bayern Munich dismantle Schalke 8-0 in season opener
Treble winners Bayern Munich crushed Schalke 04 8-0 with a hat-trick from Serge Gnabry and a superb debut from Leroy Sane on Friday.
It was a sensational start to the new Bundesliga season and the win sent an ominous warning to potential challengers.
Also, it was the biggest opening win in Bundesliga history.
Bayern Munich showed they had lost none of the sharpness which helped them to lift the UEFA Champions League trophy less than a month ago in dominant fashion.
Gnabry grabbed his first goal for the hosts with a fine turn and shot in the fourth minute in what turned out to be a one-sided affair.
It stretched Bayern Munich’s unbeaten run to 31 games this year, having now won the last 22 matches in a row.
Schalke 04, without a league win in 17 consecutive matches since January, were helpless against Bayern Munich’s lightning-quick game.
Leon Goretzka found plenty of space to drive a low shot past goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann in the 19th minute.
“You can see that the team was already strong last season,” said Sane, who joined from Manchester City. “The team is still hungry in spite of winning the treble last season and to have such a start is outstanding.”
Bayern Munich finished their season in August when they added the Champions League to their Bundesliga and German Cup titles and then had only a short preparation for the new season.
Last season’s top goalscorer Robert Lewandowski found the net with a 31st minute penalty kick to become the first player to score in 10 successive appearances against the same Bundesliga opponents.
Gnabry then scored twice from Sane’s assists in the 47th and 59th before Thomas Mueller made it half a dozen after Lewandowski set him up with an impressive rabona kick.
Sane then capped his superb Bayern Munich debut with a fine finish from a counter attack in an empty Allianz Arena.
This was after the city had banned spectators due to rising coronavirus infection numbers in the region.
A little later substitute Jamal Musiala drilled in goal number eight to become the youngest ever Bayern Munich goalscorer in the league at 17 years old.
The result piled more pressure on already-embattled Schalke 04 coach David Wagner, who has been under intense scrutiny during their winless run this year.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Solskjaer criticises England over handling of youngster Greenwood
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Friday criticised England’s handling of Mason Greenwood for breaking COVID-19 rules.
Greenwood’s first England call-up ended with him being disciplined for breaking COVID-19 rules.
A video footage had showed Greenwood and Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden allegedly inviting women to their hotel rooms after England’s 1-0 UEFA Nations League win over Iceland.
The match was played in Reykjavik and both players were sent home.
England manager Gareth Southgate said the duo would have to regain his trust before they can be considered for selection again.
Solskjaer stressed that Greenwood should have been rested after his breakthrough season with the club.
“I’ve spoken to Mason. What we speak about and discuss will be between the two of us,” Solskjaer told reporters ahead of Saturday’s English Premier League (EPL) clash against Crystal Palace.
“The kid had a fantastic season, just come through. I’ve worked and the club worked hard. We gave Mason enough time on the pitch, exposure in the media.
“Then you come to the end of the season, we’ve had less than two weeks off and he’s called up.
“And first thing that happens he’s called up and right there in the press… We’ve done what we can to protect him. I’ve done what I can to help him,’’ he added.
Manchester United’s off-season was also disrupted by club captain Harry Maguire’s suspended prison sentence of 21 months and 10 days.
Maguire was accused of various charges following an alleged brawl during a family holiday on the island of Mykonos in Greece.
The 27-year-old England defender has maintained his innocence and was granted a full retrial after appealing against the verdict.
Solskjaer, however, said that the incident could be on Maguire’s mind as he returns to the pitch.
“Knowing Harry, he’s a very strong character and can put that apart. But as a human being it’ll be in the back of his mind,” he said.
Edited By: Joseph Edeh and Olawale Alabi)
Arsenal tie down striker Aubameyang with new three-year deal
Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has signed a new three-year deal, the Premier League club said on Tuesday, ending speculation over a potential exit as he entered the final year of his contract.
Aubameyang’s decision to stay with Arsenal will be a major boost to manager Mikel Arteta who said he wanted to build the squad around the Gabon international after they won the FA Cup last month.
“Signing for this special club was never in doubt,” Aubameyang said in a statement .
“It’s thanks to our fans, my team mates, my family and everybody at this club that I feel like I belong here.
“I believe in Arsenal. We can achieve big things together. We have something exciting here and I believe the best is yet to come for Arsenal.”
British media reported Aubameyang’s new contract makes the 31-year-old one of the highest earners at the club alongside midfielder Mesut Ozil.
Aubameyang’s return of 72 goals for Arsenal in 111 appearances since his arrival in 2018 has made him a vital member of the squad, with the striker even taking the captain’s armband in the second half of the season last year.
With Arsenal in danger of missing out on European football for the first time in 25 years following an eighth-placed league finish, Aubameyang led from the front to help Arteta’s side win the FA Cup and qualify for the Europa League.
The striker scored twice in the semi-final victory over Manchester City and repeated his heroics in the final in a 2-1 comeback win over Chelsea.
Aubameyang ended last season as the club’s top scorer with 29 goals — which included 22 in the league, one goal shy of Golden Boot winner Jamie Vardy.
He was also the only Arsenal player named in the Team of the Year.
“It was important for Pierre-Emerick to stay with us… He’s an important leader for the team and a big part of what we’re building,” Arteta said.
“He wants to be up there with the best players in the world and leave his mark. He can achieve that here.”
Aubameyang’s contract extension follows the addition of Chelsea winger Willian to Arsenal’s ranks after the Brazilian became a free agent as well as defender Gabriel Magalhaes from French side Lille.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara)