Messi heading for Inter Miami in MLS after PSG exit – Newstrends
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Messi heading for Inter Miami in MLS after PSG exit

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Lionel Messi

Messi heading for Inter Miami in MLS after PSG exit

LIONEL Messi has announced he is to join Major League Soccer (MLS) side Inter Miami.

The 35-year-old Argentina forward had been strongly linked with a move to Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal, to join a league which already features Cristiano Ronaldo and now Karim Benzema.

However, with Messi’s two-year contract at Paris St-Germain (PSG) coming to an end this month, the World Cup winner confirmed he was set to head to the U.S.

“I made the decision that I am going to go to Miami,” Messi said.

“I still haven’t closed it 100 per cent. I’m missing some things, but we decided to continue on the path.”

MLS franchise Miami are co-owned by former England captain David Beckham.

The Florida side recently sacked Beckham’s former Manchester United and England team-mate Phil Neville as coach.

They are currently bottom of the 15-team Eastern Conference, but remain a fiercely ambitious club.

Messi had also been linked with a move back to his former club FC Barcelona.

But he confirmed that when that was not set to go through, he opted for a fresh challenge in the U.S.

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“If the FC Barcelona thing didn’t work out, I wanted to leave Europe, get out of the spotlight and think more in my family,” he said.

“I really wanted, I was very excited to be able to return (to FC Barcelona), but after having experienced what I experienced and the exit I had, I did not want to be in the same situation again —– waiting to see what was going to happen.

“I heard that they had to sell players or lower players’ salaries and the truth is that I didn’t want to go through that, nor take charge of obtaining something that had to do with all that.”

PSG announced last week that Messi would be leaving and he had reportedly been offered a deal worth 400 million euros (343.5 million pounds) per year to move to Saudi Arabia.

Messi revealed that while his heart may have been pushing him towards a return to the Nou Camp, it was a move which he was not totally in tune with.

He felt it could have left him open to more issues down the line, having had to “walk the bullfight” at the end of his previous stay.

“I also wanted to look for something else and a bit of peace of mind,” Messi said.

“I had offers from other European clubs, but I didn’t even evaluate them because my idea was to go to FC Barcelona.

“If the FC Barcelona thing didn’t come out, analysing it, then (I was) leaving European football and much more (doing so) after winning the World Cup, which was what I needed to close my career on this side.

“Going to live in the U.S. in a different way and enjoying day-to-day much more, but with the same responsibility of wanting to win and always doing things well, but (now) with more peace of mind.”

Messi had talked with FC Barcelona manager and close friend Xavi over a potential return, but said he “spoke very little, once or twice at most” with president Joan Laporta.

“We were very excited, because when something came out we would discuss if he really wanted me to come back, if it was good for the team and for him, and we kept in communication,” Messi said.

“We never even got to talk about the contract. A proposal was passed over, but never a formal, written, signed proposal, because there was still nothing and we did not know if it was going to be possible or not.

“There was the intention, but we couldn’t advance anything, we didn’t even talk about money formally.

“If it had been a matter of money I would have gone to Saudi Arabia or elsewhere. It seemed like a lot of money to me and the truth is that my decision was for the other side and not for money.”

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FC Barcelona issued a statement which claimed that the club had “presented” a proposal for Messi’s return which had been desired by both parties.

The club added that they were later informed of the player’s decision to instead head to Miami.

“President Laporta understood and respected Messi’s decision to want to compete in a league with fewer demands, further away from the spotlight and the pressure he has been subjected to in recent years,” the club statement read.

“Both Joan Laporta and Jorge Messi also agreed to work together to promote a proper tribute from Barca fans to honour a footballer who has been, is, and always will be beloved by Barca.”

On its part, MLS welcomed Messi’s decision.

“We are pleased that Lionel Messi has stated that he intends to join Inter Miami and MLS this summer,” a statement from the organisation read.

“Although work remains to finalise a formal agreement, we look forward to welcoming one of the greatest football players of all time to our league.”

In spite of not making a return to FC Barcelona as a player, Messi, a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, intends to eventually settle back in the city with his family.

“Obviously I will like to be close to the club (in the future). What’s more, I’m going to live in FC Barcelona,” he said. “It is one of the things that we have very clear with my wife, my children.

“Hopefully, I don’t know when, but one day I can contribute something to the club and help because it is a club that I love as I always said.

“I appreciate the love I had from people during my career and I will like to be here again, yes.”(dpa/NAN)

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Chelsea set to give Osimhen seven-year contract

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Chelsea set to give Osimhen seven-year contract

Victor Osimhen is fully focused on joining Chelsea even though Mauricio Pochettino has left his role as manager, while the Blues are well ahead of Paris Saint-Germain and Saudi clubs in the race for the striker.

After months of speculation about his future, Pochettino left Stamford Bridge by mutual consent on Tuesday night. Pochettino feels he has left Chelsea in a good position to improve next season, while Blues chiefs want a new manager to come in and take the side to the next level.

While Pochettino could replace Erik ten Hag at Manchester United, Chelsea are eyeing up Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna – coincidentally a former Man Utd coach – to fill their vacant Stamford Bridge hot seat.

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Despite Pochettino’s departure, some of Chelsea’s transfer plans are unlikely to change.

First of all, club officials know they need to make a huge investment to strengthen the attack, and the main target remains Victor Osimhen.

The Nigerian striker – whose release clause is €130m (£111m) – will leave Napoli in the summer and he desires to play in the Premier League next year, wearing a Chelsea shirt.

Sources have confirmed to TEAMtalk that Osimhen has already given his informal approval for a possible move to the Blues. Only some aspects of his prospective seven-year contract with Chelsea need to be discussed. Chelsea are willing to pay the centre-forward slightly more than what he earns at Napoli.

Chelsea set to give Osimhen seven-year contract

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Barcelona sack Xavi with flick set to replace him

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Xavi Hernandez

Barcelona sack Xavi with flick set to replace him

Xavi will take charge of Barcelona for the final time on Sunday, when they host Sevilla in their last La Liga match of the season.

The 44-year-old, who had been contracted until 2025, was informed of the club’s decision during a meeting with club president Joan Laporta and sporting director Deco on Friday – exactly one month since it was announced that he would remain at the club.

Former Spain midfielder Xavi said in January that he was going leave the Camp Nou, but he was persuaded to stay by Laporta in April.

But recent comments from Xavi, in which he opened up about the club’s financial struggles, are said to have angered Laporta.

Barcelona said they would like to “thank Xavi for his work as a coach” since taking charge in 2021.

“It is never easy to leave the club of your life, but I am very proud after two and a half years at the head of a dressing room that has been like a second family,” said Xavi in an open letter issued on social media.

“From Sunday I will be just one more Barca fan, in the stands.

“Because before being a player or a coach I am a Barcelona fan and I only want the best for the club in my life, which will always have me at its disposal.”

The Catalan club said a “new structure” will be confirmed in the coming days, with Flick set to take charge.

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The 59-year-old has been out of work since he was sacked by Germany in September 2023.

Flick, who replaced Joachim Low as national boss in 2021, became the first Germany manager to be sacked since the role was created in 1926, winning just 12 of his 25 matches in charge.

Flick’s stint with Germany came after he guided Bayern Munich to a treble in 2020, winning the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League.

Barcelona forward Robert Lewandowski, 35, played under Flick at the Allianz Arena for two seasons.

After guiding Barcelona to the La Liga title in 2022-23, Xavi’s side put up a disappointing defence to their crown this term.

The Catalans are 12 points behind rivals Real Madrid, with one game remaining in the season.

Barcelona were knocked out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage by Paris St-Germain.

Xavi spent 17 years with Barcelona as a player, having emerged from the club’s La Masia academy.

After four years’ playing for Qatari side Al-Sadd, Xavi retired in 2019 to take over the side as manager.

He remained in Qatar for a further two seasons, before replacing Ronald Koeman in November 2021 as Barcelona boss.

Xavi helped the club to the La Liga title and Spanish Cup during his first full season in charge, earning the side a return to the Champions League.

Sevilla boss Quique Sanchez Flores has criticised Barcelona’s treatment of Xavi.

“I shouldn’t say this, but how badly Barcelona treats its legends. What a bad streak,” Flores told reporters on Friday afternoon.

“With Koeman, with Messi, with Xavi now – how bad. I wish clubs treated their legends well. That would be fantastic. Xavi is a legend of the club.”

Flores added he had “doubts the criticism about him [Xavi] is correct”.

Barcelona will finish the season second in LaLiga behind champions Real Madrid and Xavi will remain in charge for the game at Sevilla.

During his 141 games as Barcelona boss, Xavi won 89 matches – giving him a 63% win ratio.

Barcelona sack Xavi with flick set to replace him

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Lookman scores stunning hat-trick in Atalanta vs Leverkusen Europa League final

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Ademola Lookman

Lookman scores stunning hat-trick in Atalanta vs Leverkusen Europa League final

Ademola Lookman was the star of the night as his hat-trick ended Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten run and secured Atalanta’s first European Cup title.

Lookman’s three goals marked the first hat-trick in a European final in 49 years, delivering Atalanta their first-ever continental trophy.

The club from Bergamo, often overshadowed by AC and Inter Milan, has enjoyed a resurgence under Gian Piero Gasperini. This victory adds silverware to their impressive record, which includes four Champions League appearances in recent years.

Leverkusen, known for their late comebacks during their undefeated Bundesliga campaign, couldn’t recover from a slow start this time. Atalanta’s aggressive play was rewarded early when Davide Zappacosta set up Lookman, who exploited Exequiel Palacios’ lapse to score from the back post after just 12 minutes.

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Lookman, whose career has seen him move from the lower ranks of the Premier League to finding stability in Bergamo, cemented his hero status with his performance. His second goal, a brilliant nutmeg of Granit Xhaka followed by a powerful shot into the far corner, showcased his skill.

Despite Leverkusen’s efforts, including near-misses by Alex Grimaldo and Jeremie Frimpong, they couldn’t break through Atalanta’s defense. Gianluca Scamacca’s fortunate escape with only a yellow card for a rough tackle on Florian Wirtz also highlighted Leverkusen’s missed opportunities.

Coach Xabi Alonso, having quickly risen as a top coaching prospect and choosing to stay with Leverkusen despite interest from Liverpool and Bayern Munich, made tactical changes at halftime, including bringing on Victor Boniface. However, the early damage proved insurmountable.

Atalanta, content to absorb pressure and counter-attack, sealed the win with another stunning goal from Lookman. Skipping past Edmond Tapsoba, he blasted into the top corner with his left foot, clinching the victory.

This triumph is particularly sweet for Atalanta, who had previously lost all three finals under Gasperini, including a recent Coppa Italia defeat to Juventus. Their passionate fans, clad in blue and black, celebrated their historic win in Dublin.

Atalanta’s victory also marks the first time an Italian side has won the competition since Parma lifted the UEFA Cup in 1999, ending a long wait and underscoring the club’s remarkable journey to European glory.

Lookman scores stunning hat-trick in Atalanta vs Leverkusen Europa League final

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