Barcelona agree deal to sign Gundogan from Man City

Barcelona have agreed a deal to sign Ilkay Gundogan from Manchester City on a free transfer, with the midfielder set to pen a three-year contract.

The move has not been officially announced by either side but City have adopted a pragmatic approach due to the player’s age and length of contract the 32-year-old was seeking, in keeping with similar situations over recent years.

Gundogan was in talks with City over a new deal, with his contract set to expire at the end of June.

However, the length of the deal on offer for the 32-year-old – one year plus an option of a further 12 months – was a sticking point. Arsenal were are also interested in Gundogan.

The influential former Borussia Dortmund midfielder has won five Premier League titles, two FA Cups, four League Cups and the Champions League in his seven years at City.

Ilkay Gundogan stats

Gundogan lifted three trophies in the 2022/23 season as City became only the second English side to win the treble.

It comes as Man City have agreed a £30m deal to sign Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic, which would go some way to compensating for the loss of Gundogan.

The fee is understood to be worth an initial £25m guaranteed plus £5m in performance-related add-ons. A formal announcement of Kovacic joining last season’s treble winners is expected soon.

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Speaking on the Back Pages on Sky Sports News, John Cross reflects on Ilkay Gundogan’s proposed free transfer to Barcelona from Man City and just how good the German has been during the 2022/2023 season

Kovacic has been at Chelsea since joining from Real Madrid – initially on loan – in the summer of 2018.

The Croatia international has won four major trophies during his time at Chelsea – including his fourth Champions League in 2021 – while going on to make 221 appearances for the club.

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Watch the best bits from Manchester City’s treble parade as the players and staff took to the stage to celebrate with fans.

Walker wants Man City stay despite Bayern interest | PSG target Silva can leave

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Sky Sports reporter Rob Dorsett brings the latest updates on Man City defender Kyle Walkers future.

Kyle Walker would prefer to stay at Manchester City this summer despite interest from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

Sky in Germany are reporting that Bayern are in advanced negotiations to sign the City defender, but it is understood the 33-year-old wants to remain at the Etihad and sign an extension to his existing contract.

Walker has one year left on his current deal and City have no desire to sell him this summer.

Man City will also not stand in Bernardo Silva’s way if he wishes to leave the club.

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Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak says he has ‘strong views’ on Premier League charges against his club. Credit: CityTV.

However, as has previously been the case, the player and his representatives must request a transfer and present a suitable offer to the treble-winners to consider.

Paris Saint-German are interested in signing him, while Barcelona are also long-term admirers of the Portugal international.

In an ideal world for City, Silva would stay and sign a new long-term contract, having been instrumental in their momentous achievements last season, winning the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup trophies.

However, Silva is understood to have considered a move away from City last summer, which did not materialise.

Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move this summer when the transfer window opens on June 14 and closes at 11pm on September 1 in England and midnight in Scotland?

Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.

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Spurs consider Fulham’s Tosin among centre-back targets

Tosin Adarabioyo is among the potential centre-back targets being considered by Tottenham. 

Interest in the Fulham defender is at an early stage but the club are understood to have been discussing whether or not to make that interest formal.

Spurs have been monitoring the situation around his contract, as well as his performances for the Cottagers under Marco Silva last season.

The 25-year-old’s Fulham deal was due to expire this summer but the west Londoners triggered an extension until 2024 earlier this year.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 27: Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou gives his squad a thumbs up during a cinch Premiership match between Celtic and Aberdeen at Celtic Park, on May 27, 2023, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)
Adarabioyo fits the profile new Spurs manager Ange Postecoglu likes at centre-half

Talks were also held with Fulham about a new long-term deal earlier in the season, with Silva keen to keep him, but they have not progressed.

Adarabioyo is keen to seek a new chapter in his career, so this summer is the last real opportunity Fulham have to get a decent fee for the defender. In January he will be free to speak to foreign clubs about a pre-contract arrangement for summer 2024.

Tottenham are looking to make changes at centre-back in this window and will listen to offers for Davinson Sanchez in particular, while Clement Lenglet has returned to Barcelona from his loan spell.

Spurs are also looking for players with homegrown status, which ex-England youth international Adarabioyo has, and he fits the profile new manager Ange Postecoglu likes at centre-half.

Spurs also retain an interest in Crystal Palace’s Marc Guehi, along with a number of other clubs, which extends back to last summer. He has three years left on his deal at Selhurst Park.

Barca put Lo Celso on transfer target list

Barcelona are interested in Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso

Barcelona have put Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso on their summer target list.

Barca boss Xavi is a huge admirer of the playmaker and has placed him among his midfield options to pursue in the market.

The Spanish club are open to discussing Lo Celso with Spurs should they initiate discussions over bringing Lenglet back to Hotspur Way.

Lenglet has returned to Barcelona following a season-long loan and he remains on Spurs’ list of targets.

Barcelona are looking to sign at least one new midfielder and remain keen on signing Manchester City star Ilkay Gundogan on a free transfer on July 1.

Sky Sports News reported on Thursday that Gundogan is in talks over a new deal at City but the length of the contract on offer – one year plus an option – is proving to be a sticking point.

Barca are thought to be among the clubs willing to offer him a longer deal. Arsenal are also interested in Gundogan.

Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move this summer when the transfer window opens on June 14 and closes at 11pm on September 1 in England and midnight in Scotland?

Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.

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50 players to keep an eye on this summer

With the transfer window officially opening this week, Sky Sports looks at 50 players who could move during the summer…

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

With only one Premier League goal and three in all competitions last season, it is fair to say Aubameyang’s spell at Chelsea has not gone as planned. He has been told he’s not part of the club’s future plans and is of interest to Barcelona over a return. However, four Saudi Arabian clubs are also very keen and the amount of money being offered may be too good to turn down.

Folarin Balogun

Under contract at Arsenal until the summer of 2025, Balogun may be the answer to the Gunners’ quest for an out-and-out centre-forward. Fresh from scoring 21 goals on loan at Reims in Ligue 1, the challenge now is whether Mikel Arteta can integrate the talented 21-year-old into his title-chasing squad.

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Reims striker Folarin Balogun says he expects to talk to parent club Arsenal about his future at the club this summer.

Harvey Barnes

The winger is one of Leicester’s best assets and, after relegation, the club will listen to offers for him. He has been admired by many Premier League clubs for some time and will have no shortage of interest from those looking for a new left winger.

Ona Batlle

The Manchester United wing-back has had a stellar season, and also finds herself out of contract this summer. Barcelona are said to be interested and it is thought she will move back to her native Spain, leaving Marc Skinner the unenviable task of sourcing a replacement.

Jude Bellingham

The England international is Real Madrid bound with his stellar breakthrough spell at Borussia Dortmund nearing an end. The 14-time European champions have agreed a deal in principle to bring Bellingham to the Bernabeu, all-but ending Liverpool’s and a host of other clubs’ chances of securing his services.

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With Jude Bellingham set for Real Madrid, check out some of his most iconic celebrations during his time in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund.

Moises Caicedo

Brighton’s midfield maestro is one of the most sought-after players in the summer transfer window. Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United are all credited with interest in signing the Ecuador international, who is expected to follow Alexis Mac Allister out of the Brighton exit door.

Joao Cancelo

The full-back’s loan to Bayern Munich did not work out and he is headed back to Manchester City for now, where he is also not part of the plans. With Arsenal interested, could he be the latest to switch the Eithad for the Emirates?

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We take a look at the attacking fullback Joao Cancelo’s Premier League goals and assists from his time at Manchester City.

Philippe Coutinho

The third most-expensive player in football history is a shadow of the figure he was when Barcelona broke the bank to sign him from Liverpool in 2018. Seemingly surplus to requirements at Aston Villa now too, the 31-year-old’s career appears at a crossroads.

Alphonso Davies

Sky Sports News reported in May that the Bayern Munich left-back was one of three players Real Madrid are seeking to sign this summer along with Bellingham and Kylian Mbappe. It will be interesting to see if that progresses but he has been fundamental to Bayern.

David De Gea

De Gea is just over a fortnight away from becoming a free agent, with his current deal set to expire on June 30. Manchester United have an option to extend the deal by one year and are also in talks over a longer extension, but with the club interested in a move for Brentford’s David Raya, De Gea’s future could go in any direction.

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Dharmesh Sheth provides the latest on the transfer news surrounding Manchester United, including updates on Dean Henderson, Mason Mount and David De Gea

Moussa Diaby

Four fine seasons in the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen has brought Diaby to the attention of Europe’s top clubs. The 23-year-old has been linked with a raft of top Premier League clubs over the last few windows, including Arsenal and Newcastle, who can now offer Champions League to prospective recruits.

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With Arsenal showing interest in Bayer Leverkusen’s Moussa Diaby, take a look at his best Bundesliga goals and assists!

Mary Earps

Manchester United have reportedly triggered the extension of goalkeeper Earps, but there has been plenty of interest in the WSL Golden Glove winner. While her attentions will be on the Women’s World Cup for the next few months, a move could be on the cards for the England No 1.

Roberto Firmino

The Brazilian forward is leaving Liverpool following the expiration of his contract next month – but where will Firmino be heading? Real Madrid appear to be the biggest admirers but – with Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappe on their radars – the Spanish champions may have other priorities.

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Following the news that Roberto Firmino will be leaving Liverpool in the summer, we take a look at the Brazilian’s Premier League goals

Grace Fisk

Another out of contract player, this time at West Ham. Defender Fisk was one of the Hammers’ standout players last season – she made the most clearances in the entire WSL (90) – and is attracting interest from other English clubs, as well as those abroad.

Kyogo Furuhashi

Kyogo spearheaded a vintage 2022/23 season for Celtic, scoring 27 league goals as Celtic sealed a domestic treble, and scooping personal acclaim in the form of the PFA Scotland and SFWA Player of the Year awards. Celtic success brings attention. With manager Ange Postecoglou snapped up by Tottenham, naturally he has been linked with joining his former boss in N17.

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Celtic striker Kyogo Furuhashi insists he is not thinking further than the next game after his double saw them beat Rangers to retain the Scottish League Cup

Ilkay Gundogan

Despite being instrumental in Manchester City’s treble glory, the Germany star’s contract is coming to an end. Talks have been ongoing over an extension but there is also interest from Arsenal and Barcelona in taking him on a free transfer.

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Sky Sports News’ Ben Ransom has the latest news on the future of Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan following their treble-winning victory over Inter Milan

Jack Harrison

Premier League clubs are circling Elland Road following Leeds United’s relegation to the Championship. Harrison would likely be top of the list of interesting prospects. He almost joined Leicester in January and Tottenham were keen on him during 2022.

Reo Hatate

Hatate was one of the standout Scottish Premiership players at Celtic last season, with nine goals and 11 assists in all competitions. With Ange Postecoglou having already departed Parkhead and countryman Kyogo Furuhashi rumoured to be following him, is this Reo’s chance to ponder pastures new?

Harry Kane

After a season which saw Kane score 30 Premier League goals but Tottenham struggle, his future is again in focus. Man Utd, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are all in need of a striker and keen on Kane, but a United move is increasingly unlikely. Tottenham do not want to sell him – especially not to a Premier League rival.

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Harry Kane broke Duncan Ferguson’s record from the 1997/98 season for the most headed goals in one Premier League season, scoring his tenth against Crystal Palace

N’Golo Kante

The Chelsea midfielder is out of contract this summer and in line for a bumper payday in Saudi Arabia, with a move to Al Ittihad nearing completion. The 32-year-old France World Cup winner would link up with compatriot Karim Benzema at the Saudi champions.

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The Sun’s Charlie Wyatt reflects on the enormous contract offered to Chelsea’s N’Golo Kanté as he prepares to play his football in Saudi Arabia


The Brazil forward has rocketed to the top of the scoring charts in the NWSL and is catching the eye in Europe. Currently signed to North Carolina Courage, Kerolin is reportedly attracting interest from Chelsea and Manchester United – but a contract until 2025 means a hefty transfer fee would be needed to lure her to the WSL.

Mateo Kovacic

After five seasons in west London, Kovacic’s time at Chelsea appears to be coming to an end, with the player hinting as much on international duty. Manchester City have held initial talks with Chelsea about signing him but no formal offer has been made yet.

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With the transfer window officially opening in two weeks, get the latest on potential moves for Folarin Balogun, Mason Mount, Mateo Kovacic and more

Hannah Hampton

Another England goalkeeper, another player out of contract this summer. Hampton has had a turbulent season, but showed her best form since the turn of the year. Don’t be surprised if one of the WSL’s big guns come in for the Aston Villa stopper.

Rasmus Hojlund

Manchester United have made initial contacts over the potential signing of the promising Atalanta striker, and are also keeping an eye on Randal Kolo Muani, with a move for Kane increasingly unlikely.

Romeo Lavia

Southampton’s relegation from the Premier League is likely to lead to a series of departures and midfielder Lavia will have plenty of interest from top-tier sides after impressing during a difficult campaign for the Saints.

Hugo Lloris

Tottenham captain Lloris still has a year to run on his contract but has spoken about the “end of an era” and his desire for a new challenge since the end of a frustrating season for the north London side. Former club Nice are among those keen to sign him.

James Maddison

Newcastle are currently leading Tottenham in the race to sign Leicester’s Maddison, following the Foxes’ relegation from the Premier League. The England international has a year left on his Leicester deal but looks certain to make a switch this summer and stay in the top flight.

Harry Maguire

Has Maguire’s time at Old Trafford come to an end? The club captain found first-team opportunities hard to come by under Erik ten Hag last season, and the manager admitted the England skipper has a decision to make. Tottenham have been linked with giving him an exit route.

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Speaking on Soccer Special, Paul Merson admits it would be hard for Harry Maguire to leave one of the biggest clubs in the world in Manchester United but for the sake of his career he might need to

Sadio Mane

According to Sky Germany, Mane could also leave Bayern Munich after just one season – his loss to Liverpool clearly impacting them this term. A return to the Premier League has been described as Mane’s most realistic option given the financials involved.

Anthony Martial

Reports suggest France forward Martial could be among the players Ten Hag is willing to move on from Man Utd after his first season in charge. The 27-year-old struggled throughout the campaign with injuries, making just 17 starts across all competitions.

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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag says the team is stronger when the French striker Anthony Martial is fit and playing

Joel Matip

With just one year left on his Liverpool contract and Ibrahima Konate appearing to be Jurgen Klopp’s favoured selection alongside Virgil van Dijk at the centre of Liverpool’s defence, it could be decision time for Matip. Liverpool’s incoming transfer business could dictate where the 31-year-old is playing next season.

Kylian Mbappe

With Lionel Messi gone and Neymar’s future in doubt, could Paris St-Germain possibly lose all three star forwards this summer? Real Madrid’s pursuit of Mbappe has been years in the making and with Karim Benzema heading to Saudi Arabia, they need a striker…

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French Football expert Jonathan Johnson explains the impact of Kylian Mbappe’s announcement that he won’t extend his contract at PSG by one year next summer and how it will affect the club going forward

Katie McCabe

Chelsea made a bid for the tough-tackling Arsenal midfielder in January – could there be a return this summer? The Gunners are unlikely to let McCabe go to close rival, but Emma Hayes’ Blues will be waiting should she want a move.

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Katie McCabe’s curler for Arsenal against Manchester City has been awarded WSL goal of the season

Lionel Messi

Messi’s future is settled – and it will be in Miami rather than Barcelona or Saudi Arabia. Argentina’s World Cup hero is heading to the MLS in a move which will shine a spotlight on Inter Miami and the game Stateside.

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Lionel Messi is set to join Inter Miami in a deal with a similar structure to the one that brought David Beckham to the MLS

Mason Mount

Chelsea academy graduate Mount had at one point looked set for a long career with the Blues but contract negotiations have proved difficult and now Manchester United are advancing on a deal to sign him. A bid is expected soon.

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With rumours linking Mason Mount with a move away from Chelsea this summer, we take a look back at some of his best goals and assists in the Premier League


Manchester United have been approached by intermediaries about signing Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain this summer. Ten Hag’s side are one of a number of clubs who have been contacted about Neymar’s potential availability – but he is not currently a United target.

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French football expert Julien Laurens provides the latest update from Paris and all of the ‘drama’ going on with PSG and Neymar

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Liverpool have confirmed Oxlade-Chamberlain will leave when his contract expires in the summer. Injuries have plagued the midfielder who turns 30 in August. It’s hard to imagine that at least one Premier League club won’t look to take a punt on a player who was once an England regular.

Joao Palhinha

The Fulham defensive-midfielder had an outstanding season under the tutelage of Marco Silva and has therefore emerged among the top players in his position. Rumours of clubs wanting a £60m deal for him have surfaced but for the moment he remains a Fulham player.

Anna Patten

Defender Patten has been on loan with Carla Ward’s Aston Villa from Arsenal for the last 18 months, and the club are now keen on signing her on a permanent basis. However, expect there to be interest from other WSL clubs too.

Kalvin Phillips

A big-money signing for Manchester City last summer, but the midfielder has barely been spotted on the pitch since. Pep Guardiola has brought players through in their second seasons before after their initial struggles but City have some decisions to make after winning the treble. Biggest of all, how do they do it again?

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Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips insists his lack of game time has been tough for him this season

Christian Pulisic

The USA international is another who has been told he can leave Chelsea this summer, with speculation surrounding a potential move to Juventus. Chelsea need to offload, and with Pulisic one of many earning huge wages, he is high on the list of players to be sacrificed having only started eight Premier League games last season.

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Christian Pulisic talks of how tough a season it’s been for him personally and concedes that the last couple of years haven’t gone to plan

David Raya

Tottenham are currently leading the chase for the highly-sought after Raya, who wants to leave Brentford for a bigger club. Man Utd are also keeping across developments but neither club want to pay the £40m asking price. Chelsea have him on their list while Arsenal have wanted him in the past. The Bees intend to stick to their valuation.

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Check out some of David Raya’s best saves in the Premier League for Brentford. The Bees’ Spanish goalkeeper Raya has been linked with moves away from the west London club

Declan Rice

West Ham boss David Moyes admitted in May there was a “good chance” Rice would leave the club this summer, so the only question appears to be his destination. Arsenal are thought to be the frontrunners but face competition from Bayern Munich.

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As speculation mounts over Declan Rice’s future we take a look at his best Premier League moments for West Ham

Alessia Russo

The England striker has a busy summer ahead. Not only will she be leading the line for the Lionesses at the Women’s World Cup, she is also a free agent when her contract with Man Utd expires at the end of June. She was subject to a world-record bid from Arsenal in January, while United are hopeful new terms can be agreed.

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Kelly Smith discusses how crucial she feels Alessia Russo is to Manchester United’s success on the pitch

Emile Smith Rowe

If he doesn’t make it off the bench when Arsenal are out of ideas, short of players and 1-0 down at Nottingham Forest, is that a sign Smith Rowe does not have a future at the Gunners? He has been linked with West Ham in among all the Declan Rice noise.

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We take a look back at Emile Smith Rowe’s Premier League goal for Arsenal from the 2021/22 season

Kieran Tierney

The ex-Celtic left-back is another one who has not played much at Arsenal this season and is linked with a move. Newcastle are reportedly interested but the Gunners are likely to play hardball with their valuation – Tierney is contracted until 2026 and a useful asset from the bench.

Manuel Ugarte

The Sporting Lisbon midfielder has become highly sought-after and has been a target for Chelsea, but they have decided not to pursue a deal with Paris Saint-Germain offering much more to both club and player.

James Ward-Prowse

The Southampton captain will almost certainly want to continue playing in the Premier League after they were relegated. He is on the list of a number of clubs looking for attacking midfielders but, being slightly older than other targets, there may need to be some movement elsewhere first.

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James Ward-Prowse is now just one free-kick away from equalling the Premier League record held by former Manchester United midfielder David Beckham after he bagged another one against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge

Granit Xhaka

Bayer Leverkusen remain very interested in signing Xhaka despite his resurgence at Arsenal, becoming fundamental to Mikel Arteta’s team last season. If the Gunners are successful in signing Declan Rice or Moises Caicedo, it may mean Xhaka does indeed move on.

Wilfried Zaha

Zaha’s contract is finally up at Crystal Palace and he has interest from a host of teams including those in Saudi Arabia, and Paris Saint-Germain in France.

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As Wilfried Zaha’s contract at Crystal Palace approaches the end, Eagles boss Roy Hodgson insists it’s up to Zaha to decide but believes he and chairman Steve Parish will make the right decision

Hakim Ziyech

Ziyech was on the verge of a move to PSG in January but it broke down over paperwork and he stayed at Chelsea. Ajax are again interested this time and he is high on the list of many that Chelsea want to move on.

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Kaveh Solhekol breaks down exactly what went wrong with Hakim Ziyech’s transfer that saw the winger’s loan from Chelsea to Paris Saint-Germain collapse on transfer deadline day

Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move this summer when the transfer window opens on June 14 and closes at 11pm on September 1 in England and midnight in Scotland?

Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.

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Messi: I’m close to joining Miami | Barca finances ended hope of return

Lionel Messi has confirmed he is close to joining Inter Miami when his contact with PSG expires on June 30, admitting Barcelona’s financial issues had ended any hope of a return to the Nou Camp.

Messi’s future has been up for debate for much of the final season of his two-year contract at the Parc des Princes, with a fairy-tale return to Barcelona, a big-money move to the Middle East and interest from the MLS all mooted.

In a joint interview with Spanish outlets Mundo Deportivo and Sport, Messi confirmed his next destination was almost certain to be David Beckham’s Miami side, with the club itself tweeting a video teasing the move minutes after it was published.

Messi said: “I made the decision that I’m going to go to Miami. I still haven’t closed it one hundred per cent. I’m missing some things but we decided to continue on the path. If the Barcelona thing didn’t work out, I wanted to leave Europe, get out of the spotlight and think more for my family.”

The Argentine’s long-term Barcelona team-mate Sergio Busquets has also been heavily linked with a move to the club, but Messi insisted his decision had been made for the best interests of himself and his family, rather than a Stateside reunion.

“I had offers from other European teams but I didn’t even evaluate them because my idea was to go to Barcelona and, if that didn’t come about, then leaving European football after winning the World Cup was what I needed,” he said.

“Now I will close my career in this country and experiencing the MLS in a different way, enjoying the day-to-day much more – but with the same responsibility of wanting to win and always doing things well but with more peace of mind.

“I am also in a moment where I want to get out of focus a bit, think more about my family. I spent two years at a family level that was so bad that I didn’t enjoy it. I had the month that was spectacular for me for having won the World Cup, but removing that was a difficult stage for me.”

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Lionel Messi is set to join Inter Miami in a deal with a similar structure to the one that brought David Beckham to the MLS.

Messi confirmed Barcelona did make an approach for his return but added that he had remained hurt by the manner of his departure from the Nou Camp two years ago, which he made clear at the time was not a decision of his own making.

The risk of Barca’s ongoing financial troubles and the restrictions over their transfer business were too much to deal with, he added, saying he had intentionally announced his next move early in the summer for his own peace of mind.

He said: “I really wanted, I was very excited to be able to return [to Barcelona], but after having experienced what I experienced and the exit I had, I did not want to be in the same situation again. “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.

“LaLiga had given the okay, but it is not true that the decision was mine over a return, because many things were missing. it is a long summer in which I do not want to go through what I already went through again.

“We never even got to a stage of talking about a 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.”

Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona reacts during the 31st round match of the La Liga 2018-2019 season between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona, Spain, 6 April 2019. (Imaginechina via AP Images)
Barcelona had attempted to secure Messi’s return

Barcelona issued a statement which claimed that the club had “presented” a proposal for Messi’s return which had been desired by both parties, before being 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 subject 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. ” Major League Soccer welcomed Messi’s decision. “We are pleased that Lionel Messi has stated that he intends to join Inter Miami and Major League Soccer 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 soccer players of all time to our league.”

‘Incredible coup for Inter Miami’

Sky Sports News Chief Reporter Kaveh Solhekol:

“He has had so many different offers. Obviously, we know Barcelona have been keen to re-sign him but, for financial reasons, that was going to be very, very difficult.

“It’s an open secret as well that clubs in Saudi Arabia have been making offers for him, including Al Hilal, but it’s his wish to move to America. He has a house in Miami, that’s where he would like to move to at this point of his career.

Lionel Messi
Messi scored 672 goals in 778 for Barcelona across 17 seasons at the Nou Camp

“Just to put this into context, I think you could say that Lionel Messi will be the biggest name to play ‘soccer’, as they call it in America, in America, since people like Pele or George Best.

“Of course, David Beckham himself went to go and play for LA Galaxy, but Lionel Messi is the greatest player of all time, right up there with Diego Maradona and Pele.

“It is an incredible coup for Inter Miami, who only two weeks ago dismissed their manager, Phil Neville.

“They have been struggling in the MLS, they are bottom of their Conference at the moment, but the offer they have put in front of Lionel Messi is the one he wants, and he will be playing for Inter Miami when his contract at PSG runs out very shortly.”

Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move this summer when the transfer window opens on June 14 and closes at 11pm on September 1 in England and midnight in Scotland?

Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.

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Stunning Barcelona comeback beats Wolfsburg in WCL final

Barcelona produced a stunning second-half comeback to beat Wolfsburg 3-2 in a thrilling Women’s Champions League final in Eindhoven and secure their second European title.

The LigaF champions appeared to be overawed by the occasion once again as they went 2-0 down in the first half, offering shades of the 3-1 humbling by Lyon in the 2022 final.

Ewa Pajor – who finished as the Champions League’s top scorer – scored her ninth goal of the competition as she took advantage of some sloppy play from Lucy Bronze to see Wolfsburg ahead inside three minutes. Alexandra Popp added a second just before the break (37).

But all of the Germans’ good first-half work was undone in five minutes after the break. Patri Guijarro scored twice (48, 50) as Barcelona – the pre-match favourites – hauled themselves level.

Their epic comeback was completed in the 70th minute. After some comical defending from Wolfsburg, Frida Rolfo fired home to secure another Champions League title, following up on their 2021 victory.

Speaking about what he changed at half-time, Barcelona manager Jonatan Giraldez told DAZN: “There were two things to mention – firstly, the position of Salma [Paralluelo] and Mairona [Caldentey].

“All the passes we did inside with the player closing down was too much for me and we had to find better places to find Mariona. After that, try to attack the last line and threaten in behind.

“We did much better in the second half to find this kind of passes because we didn’t make a mistake, whereas in the first half we did.

“Second, it’s not talking about football. It’s talking about seeing each other, understanding that we had to connect and give positive messages to the teammate and thinking positive because I think we did a good first half. We had to improve the small details and we had a good attitude with a good reaction. We could win the game and we did it.”

Midfielder Keira Walsh also added to DAZN: “We came in at half-time and Alexia [Putellas] said that if there’s any team that could overturn a 2-0, it’s this team and that’s what we did.”

How Barcelona came from behind to win

Barcelona's Patricia Guijarro celebrates after pulling a goal back early in the second half
Barcelona’s Patricia Guijarro scored twice inside five minutes after half-time

Barcelona began well – but a mistake at the back from Bronze allowed Wolfsburg to lead inside three minute. The full-back was caught on the ball by Pajor, muscling the England international out of the way before a thunderous strike beat Sandra Panos.

Barcelona dominated the ball between the two goals, and had two glorious chances to equalised. The first came in the 13th minute and Irene Parades nodded a free header wide from a corner. Then, Caroline Graham Hansen could not connect properly with a sensational Mapi Leon cross with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Wolfsburg's Ewa Pajor celebrates with team-mate Alexandra Popp after scoring
Wolfsburg’s Ewa Pajor saw her side ahead inside three minutes

Then, shortly before the break, Wolfsburg stunned Barcelona again. It was an devastating break from the Germans as Felicitas Rauch powered through the midfield, before finding Pajor on her right. It was a sensational, curling cross from the forward, with Popp ahead of her marker to flick the ball home.

Barcelona appealed for a foul in the build-up as Popp and Leon battled to reach the ball first, and despite VAR looking at the incident, did not order a review.

Barcelona recover from 2-0 down to win WCL

Barcelona are only the second team to come from two goals down to win in a Women’s European final.

The first was Wolfsburg in 2014, when they beat Tyreso 4-3 in Lisbon. Alexandra Popp was on the scoresheet that day.

But Barcelona were not done yet, equalising inside three minutes. Caroline Graham Hansen played the ball into space down the right, chasing after the ball herself, before sending the ball into the middle. Guijarro was there to turn the ball home – a technique Barcelona had been sorely missing in the first half.

Two minutes later and the equaliser followed. It was almost a carbon copy of the first Barcelona goal too as Aitana Bonmati sent the cross in from the right wing. Guijarro stopped down to send a low header past Merle Fromes, sparking scenes of wild celebration.

Alexandra Popp scores Wolfsburg's second goal
Alexandra Popp scored Wolfsburg’s second goal

Once Barcelona were level, it felt like only a matter of time before the winner came and it eventually occurred with 20 minutes to play. It was a comedy of errors from the Wolfsburg defence as Lynn Wilms’ attempt clearance hit Kathrin Hendrich from close range.

The ball landed to Mariona Caldentey, who managed to hold it up well under pressure before slotting the ball across to Rolfo. She then slotted home into an open net, completing the comeback.

As the clocked ticked over into ninth added minute, Wolfsburg could have equalised themselves, but Pauline Bremer’s header from a corner went straight to Panos, before the Barcelona celebrations began in earnest.

Analysis: A final for the ages heralds Barcelona’s era of dominance

Sky Sports’ Charlotte Marsh:

“What a final. A game for the ages and a brilliant advert for just how exciting women’s football is.

“The simple fact: all the things Barcelona weren’t executing well in the first half, they began to do after the break and that’s when they started to click.

“Their crosses into the box were starting to be found – especially for their two early second half goals. Passes started to be threaded together well, Wolfsburg’s dominance and disruption in midfield was nullified, their defences breached.

“Five minutes after the start of the second half, with Barcelona level, you knew they would go on to win. Wolfsburg were deflated and struggled to handle the opposition that should have shown up for the entire 90 minutes.

Fridolina Rolfo celebrates after Barcelona come back from 2-0 down to lead 3-2
Fridolina Rolfo celebrates after Barcelona came from two goals down to lead 3-2

“You have to feel for Wolfsburg too. They had the tie in their hands and took advantage of an under-par Barcelona performance in the first half, but they were simply blown away by an incredible team.

“They would not have been expecting the same from Barcelona after the break, but their game plan simply did not work.

“Lyon have dominated European competition for so long, but you now have to say this is the start of Barcelona’s dominant era. A potent force that many will struggle to stop.”

Bronze praises Barcelona mentality change

Barcelona defender Lucy Bronze to DAZN:

“We didn’t make it easy for ourselves in the first half. We created so many chances, I thought we could have scored many goals in the first half.

“We knew that we had quality and we could come back into any game. I don’t think we were ever worried about scoring three goals, which is a crazy feat to do, but that’s the talent of this team.

“I think that [change in mentality over the last year] showed. The two finals that Barca have lost where they’ve been heavily beaten by Lyon and we saw today that once it was two goals [for Barcelona], we shut up shop, made it really difficult defensively and created loads of chances in attack.

“It was difficult for myself and Frido [Frida Rolfo], we both haven’t played for five weeks. I had surgery and only trained a couple of times, so it was difficult at the end but happy I played my part for the team.”

Barcelona's captain Alexia Putellas lifts the trophy after winning the Women's Champions League final 3-2 against Wolfsburg
Barcelona have won their second Champions League title

Walsh: Guijarro the best player in the world

Barcelona midfielder Keira Walsh to DAZN:

“The first half wasn’t great for us. We kept the ball well, we just didn’t score our chances. To score three goals in the second half was incredible. It was a good game.

“Patri Guijarro is a special player, it’s about time people recognised that. For me, the best player in the world.

“It’s been a pretty good year – the Euros, the Champions League. If someone was going to tell me this was going to happen, I wouldn’t believe them. To play for Barcelona in front of these fans is a special feeling.

“You want to be playing in these games, playing in Champions Leagues and this is the club that does that.”

Giraldez: The personality we showed important to win

Barcelona manager Jonatan Giraldez to DAZN:

“It’s an amazing feeling that I have right now. It’s difficult to explain with the exact words what I feel because it’s an important trophy for us.

“The way we did it is the most important thing because it’s not only talking about tactical positions and the physical conditions, sometimes the personality that we showed today is really important to win the game.

“When we were attacking in the first half, everything was fine. But the last metre we had to be a little more aggressive and be in the place to put the ball in the net. We deserved a lot [in the first half] and 2-0 was hard for us.

“After, we have to give a good reaction. Improving the tactical position and giving the opportunity to the player to show the personality they have. The second half we did it so it’s fantastic.

“I’m really proud of the team, the club and the supporters because I think the last seasons, all the investment in women’s football has been up every season. We need that, it’s very important to keep competing.

“The supporters gave us support in the whole game and then the players who played today, the ones who were on the bench as well they gave us the push necessary to win and then all the staff members.

“The last weeks were hard because Lucy, Frido and important players weren’t ready to compete and the amazing job helped them to be here today. I’m proud of all the team.”

Stroot: Competitive final shows work we are doing

Wolfsburg's Alexandra Popp celebrates with Svenja Huth and Felicitas Rauch after scoring her side's second goal
Tommy Stroot says the competitive final shows the work Wolfsburg are doing with their squad

Wolfsburg manager Tommy Stroot:

“Congratulations to Barcelona. When it was 2-0 at half-time, we had them exactly where we wanted.

“We tried to stabilise the things we did well in the first half and change a few things we could have done better [at half-time]. We expected Barcelona to attack fiercely but, having conceded so quickly, the second goal was a result of that.

“We needed a moment but it was good that after Barcelona’s equaliser we improved. It was about the small details, passes that went astray. We had those moments in the first half as well but we did a bit better. Twice in a row they came with all their power, but in the last 30 minutes it was a very open match.

“Even a few years ago, we wondered how long Wolfsburg could compete… but we managed to find a way to stay on that level and this final confirms that.

“We have players like Lena Oberdorf and others, young players taking their steps forward here and becoming world class at Wolfsburg. Barcelona had three former Wolfsburg players here, which confirms the work we are doing.”

When and where is the 2023 Women’s World Cup?

This year’s tournament will be held in Australia and New Zealand making it the first-ever co-hosted Women’s World Cup.

The tournament starts on July 20 with the final taking place on August 20 in Sydney at the Accor Stadium.

The USA are the defending champions and are looking to become the first team in the competition’s history to win the tournament three times in a row.

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WCL final: Can Wolfsburg take down hot favourites Barcelona?

We have been here before. Perhaps not this configuration but neither Barcelona or Wolfsburg are strangers to a Champions League showpiece.

Both sides hold European heritage but the Spaniards hold the most recent sway. They will be appearing in their third successive final, after beating Chelsea in 2021 and losing against Lyon in 2022.

Wolfsburg last featured in 2020, losing out to serial champions Lyon, but will be contesting their sixth final overall.

Barcelona players celebrate after reaching the final of the UEFA Women's Champions League following a 2-1 aggregate win over Chelsea
Barcelona players celebrate after reaching the CL final thanks to a 2-1 aggregate win over Chelsea

So, there’s the brief overview, but the narrative is not quite as straightforward. Barcelona, heavy favourites last season and this, were stunned by Lyon in last year’s final. They were 3-0 down inside 33 treacherous first-half minutes.

The key to European glory, apparently, is a blisteringly fast start. Barca were naive, picked off by the brilliance of Amandine Henry and the inevitability of Ada Hegerberg.

Some of the fault, though, can be attributed to Emma Hayes’ Chelsea. Stick with it. The Blues began their 2021 final much the same way Barca approached last season’s – which had a similarly devastating effect.

Barcelona blew the WSL champions away in just 36 minutes, scoring for times, with Chelsea trailing after just 33 seconds. Last year, Barca attempted to enact the same assault on Lyon, but failed to account for a much wilier, much more accomplished and adroit opponent.

Lucy Bronze is seen on crutches after her recent knee surgery. The Barcelona and England defender was injured during the first leg at Stamford Bridge over the weekend
Lucy Bronze has not featured for Barcelona since undergoing knee surgery in April – but was named in England’s WC squad

It’s a mistake they can ill-afford to make on this occasion. Under-estimating Wolfsburg would be unwise. Expect a tempered start from the Germans, who will no doubt be mindful of the way the last two finals have unrivalled at such an alarming rate, and be far more pragmatic in their process.

Here’s where it gets interesting. This is a game of contrasting styles. Barcelona, known for the best tiki-taka in the northern hemisphere, will not deviate from their aggressive style. They are masters of possession-based football and consider attack the best form of defence.

Record attendance expected

This season’s Women’s Champions League final is sold out for the first time in the competition’s recent history and will set an attendance record in the Netherlands, as over 34,000 fans are expected to pack out PSV Eindhoven’s Philips Stadion.

Wolfsburg, however, will attempt to do what they did against Arsenal in their semi-final tie. They tried to contain and stifle the Gunners before launching on the counter-attack, or striking from well-rehearsed set-piece routines.

There is, of course, much more fun and excitement in vibrant, energetic attackers who play at a frenetic pace, than there is in the more practical approach of setting up as hard to break down, with emphasis on being defensively robust – like the Bundesliga side do. But they too possess weapons, and Barca’s backline are penetrable – their gung-ho approach allows for occasional gaps and frailties. Plus, will Lucy Bronze, who had knee surgery in April, be risked?

Wolfsburg players celebrates after beating Arsenal in the Women's Champions League semi-final
Wolfsburg came from behind to eclipse Arsenal in their respective semi-final

Sveindis Jonsdottir and Ewa Pajor can be explosive, while Alexandra Popp is a menace in the box. Wolfsburg can mix it up, much more versed at going direct than their Spanish counterparts, but needed a mistake from Lotte Wubben-Moy to edge past a severely weakened (thanks to injuries) Arsenal side in the last round.

Barcelona have spent this entire season figuring out how to account for the loss of captain Alexia Putellas – the midfielder has since returned from a lengthy knee injury but is not expected to start on Saturday – but have a profusion of riches in that department, including England’s Keira Walsh.

Expect the midfield battle to be a key indicator of the outcome this time around – if Barca really have mastered how to compete effectively without their Ballon d’Or winner, expect there to be no stopping them.

The preamble…

  • Barcelona are in their third final in four seasons, their sensational 2021 4-0 defeat of Chelsea sandwiching losses to Lyon in 2019 and 2022.
  • Last season Wolfsburg lost 5-3 on aggregate to Barcelona in the semis, but after a heavy loss at the Camp Nou (with Graham Hansen among the scorers) did win 2-0 at home.

Giraldez: Wolfsburg are unique

Barcelona head coach Jonatan Giraldez:

“[Wolfsburg] have top-level players in every position, especially in midfield and up front.

“They are unique players at creating spaces, they are unique in one-on-ones, at playing that final pass, at shooting. They are a very difficult team to beat because of the way they defend.”

Stroot: We can beat Barca

Wolfsburg head coach Tommy Stroot:

“Last year, we managed, [in one leg], to defeat Barcelona. We know what to expect and what challenge awaits us.

“Despite that, and due to our development from last season, we are capable of defeating Barcelona in a game. That will be our challenge. We know that it is the biggest challenge that we will face this year, but we also know it’s possible because of the second leg we had.

“I know the stadium; it’s a fantastic stadium, especially for a final and I’m incredibly excited [about] it. This is what you work towards your whole life.”

Follow all the action live from Eindhoven in our dedicated match blog from 2pm on Saturday; kick-off 3pm

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Why Busquets was a unique midfielder who changed the game

Sergio Busquets’ departure from Barcelona marks the end of an era, perhaps the end of the era. The last man from the legendary Barcelona line-up that started the 2011 Champions League final has played his final game for the club at the Nou Camp.

His impending exit has already prompted eulogies from the great and the good, a chance to celebrate the fulcrum of that special side. “He was the best,” said his former coach Pep Guardiola. “He read everything that happened. Anticipated the situations.”

The most famous quote about Busquets remains the best, attributed to Vicente Del Bosque, the coach with whom Busquets won the World Cup in 2010. “You watch the game, you do not see Busquets. You watch Busquets, you see the whole game.”

It is a satisfying summation because for all their highlights provided by Lionel Messi, that Barcelona were not really a highlights team. It was the relentless rhythm that left the opposition despairing, depriving them of the ball. Busquets helped set that rhythm.

His teammate-turned-boss Xavi Hernandez called him the best defensive midfielder in Spain’s history when attempting to assess Busquets’ status in the game but that phrasing feels incomplete. It describes his position but not his role.

Robert Moreno, who was his coach at Barcelona and with the Spain national team, is unsure holding midfielder works either. “It is not the right way to describe him because, for me, a holding midfielder is mostly a defender,” he tells Sky Sports. “Busquets is not that.”

The only reason that Moreno, still an analyst at heart, stops short of describing him as the greatest of all-time in his position is a lack of evidence. “I do not have information from 50 years ago,” he says. “But during my time analysing football, he is the best.”

Busquets’ interpretation of what a midfielder could and should do in that position reshaped it. Claude Makelele had a role named after him. His was a place where opposition attacks went to die. Busquets’ feet were where Barca’s beautiful play was born.

It was a reset for football. Just as Johan Cruyff had done a generation earlier when identifying Guardiola as the man to help execute his vision, Guardiola’s surprise decision to elevate Busquets to the first team in 2008 set the game on a different path.

Cesar Menotti, the great Argentine coach and aesthete, likened seeing Busquets to seeing an extinct species. This knock-kneed midfielder was no athlete but here he was operating in the age of athletes – and somehow contriving to play at a pace all of his own.

It should have been impossible. The game had become more physical, played on the turnover and transition. But Barcelona’s passing game ensured he rarely needed to graduate beyond a canter. “He did not move much from the centre,” said Guardiola.

“He could solve all the problems with his brain.”

Barcelona's team captain Sergio Busquets lifts the championship trophy at the end of a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Sociedad at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, May 20, 2023. Barcelona clinched the Spanish league title last Sunday with four rounds still to be played.(AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
Barcelona’s team captain Sergio Busquets lifts the championship trophy

That wonders of that brain are best left for Moreno to explain.

“When I was at Barcelona, my responsibility was to do the analysis on the opposition. Before every game, I would ask him, ‘Busi, what do you think?’ He knew everything about the opponent. He would say, ‘Well, I think we need to take care in that situation…’

“Even the referee, he would say, ‘We need to take care with this referee because this referee is a little nervous.’ He is incredible. It should be impossible with all the pressure on you, with all the difficulties you have around you, and be thinking about that.

“He was able to come to the bench during a match and say, ‘They are doing this and we need to do that to stop them.’ You are, like, what? I was in the stands with a good tactical view and he was explaining things that I was not able to analyse from up there.”

His leadership was rarely vocal. He was no exhibitionist. “He was not making incredible speeches in the dressing room. That was not his way.” But leadership takes many forms. Busquets was always available for his team-mates when and where it mattered.

“He is a singular case. A coach on the pitch. He understands everything. He has team-mates who do not understand the same as him but with him there you have an advantage because he helps them to decide what to do. They look at him and go with him.”

Barcelona's Sergio Busquets is thrown in the air by team mates after his last home game of the season for the club at the end of a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Mallorca at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, May 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets is thrown in the air after his last home game

It is why Cruyff fell for him early. Busquets was only 27 when the man who built the Barcelona church died. Old enough for Cruyff to note that he had the mind of a veteran. As the great man always said, simple football is the hardest football to play.

Busquets, this player who looked like he had come from the past and from the future but would dominate the present, made it look easy.

He was Barca personified.

“He has had 15 years at Barcelona plus three years in the academy,” says Moreno. “He feels a way of playing that is suitable for that team, that feels Barcelona. Maybe if he had played in another place he would not have had the same career. He is able to play that way.

“That is why I say there are not good or bad players, there are players who are adapted to that style or not. If you asked him to play for Liverpool it would be impossible for him because he is not prepared to run from one box to the other. It is not his skill.

“But if you want possession, build-up, high press after losing the ball, controlling the play on the pitch, he is the best.”

Barcelona's Sergio Busquets applauds the fans after being substituted in his last home game for the club during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Mallorca at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, May 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets applauds the fans after being substituted against Mallorca

Perhaps it is his status as an outlier that explains the sense of loss. They called Messi an alien but even he seemed like an advancement on what had come before, a culmination of the increased speed of movement and mind. Busquets was different.

A little less different now than when he arrived on the scene? Possibly. “Rodri is the most similar,” says Moreno. But even at a time when possession football appears to have won the argument so completely, the list of players of his type remains startlingly short.

At Barcelona, there is no obvious replacement. “Even if they had Joshua Kimmich or Aurelien Tchouameni, one of the best in that position, Barcelona would have a big gap now because it is impossible to substitute him,” adds Moreno.

“That is the difference with Busquets.”

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Xavi wants Messi return at Barcelona | ‘I’ve told president this’

Barcelona manager Xavi has called on the club hierarchy to bring Lionel Messi back to the Nou Camp this summer, but says the move depends on the Argentina forward.

Sky Sports News revealed earlier this month that Messi is set to leave current club Paris Saint-Germain at the end of his contract, with Barcelona president Joan Laporta admitting that the club are looking into bringing the him back.

Messi, who scored 672 goals in 778 appearances for Barca between 2003 and 2021, has spent the last two seasons at PSG after Barcelona let him move for a free due to being unable to renew his contract.

ANGERS, FRANCE - APRIL 21: Lionel Messi (30) during the French Ligue 1 match between SCO Angers and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) on April 21, 2023, at Stade Raymond Kopa in Angers, France. (Photo by Glenn Gervot/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)
Lionel Messi is set to leave Paris Saint-Germain this summer

Asked about the impact Messi would have on this Barcelona team, who won the LaLiga title this season, Xavi told Barcelona-based newspaper SPORT: “I’m in no doubt that if Messi were to return, he would help us in what we are wanting to achieve with our football.

“I am in no doubt and I’ve told this to the president. He continues to be a determined footballer, he has the hunger still.

“He’s still a winner, he’s a leader and he’s different. At Barcelona, we’ve not have the same level since what we reached as a pinnacle in 2010.

Barcelona's midfielder Xavi Hernandez (R) and Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi celebrate with the trophy after the UEFA Champions League Final
Xavi and Messi won the treble on two occasions in Barcelona colours as players

“Messi brings you the talent of being able to play the final pass, he opens doors, scores goals. In the final third he can provide the difference.

“There’s no doubt that he would still help us a lot – but in the end it all depends on him.

“We’re going to talk to him and his representatives. I think Leo has the upper hand, there is no doubt. Yes, it’s true that we’ve already won in the post-Messi era and that has extraordinary merit, it’s extraordinary, it’s not valued anyway, but the fear that we had was when Leo leaves, what are we going to do?

“Well, Barca has survived, I think we have rebuilt the team and the group very well and this league title and this Super Cup have spectacular merit and without the best player in the history of football and this club has much merit.

“It’s difficult to be in the skin of someone who has won it all. I’m not in his head, but I’ve been very clear about my relationship with him. We have the doors wide open. And if he wants to come, I’m in no doubt that it can happen and he would help us. But it’s up to him. It’s his personal choice.”

Why is Messi leaving PSG?

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Sky Sports’ Kaveh Sohelkol outlines where World Cup winner Lionel Messi could be heading next after it was announced he would be leaving Paris Saint-Germain in the summer

Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol:

Messi’s representatives were in talks about a contract renewal with PSG and everything was looking positive during the World Cup in Qatar but the dynamic changed and his departure from Paris suits all parties.

PSG consider the move to sign Messi as a free agent in the summer of 2021 to have been a success on and off the pitch, but sections of the club’s fans have turned on the player since they were knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich last month.

Messi and the team have not been performing as well as expected since the World Cup and his departure in the summer fits in with the club’s new strategy of focusing on young French players instead of signing superstar talents.

Messi still believes that he can play at the highest level in Europe and Barcelona have made no secret of their desire to re-sign him this summer.

It remains to be seen whether they can afford to offer him a new contract but he is much more likely to stay in Europe than move to Inter Miami – or any other MLS club – or Saudi Arabia at this stage of his career.

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Barca seal LaLiga title for first time since 2019 | Xavi: We’re on right path

Barcelona have been crowned LaLiga champions for the first time since the 2018-19 season after beating city rivals Espanyol 4-2 on Sunday.

A comfortable victory over the relegation-threatened hosts at the RCDE Stadium means Xavi Hernandez’s side are 14 points clear of Real Madrid in second and 16 ahead of third-placed Atletico Madrid with four games of the season remaining.

Goal machine Robert Lewandowski scored twice (11, 40) with Alejandro Balde (20) and Jules Kounde (53) also on the scoresheet as Barca cruised to their 27th league win of the campaign.

Javi Puado (73) and Joselu (90+2) pulled two goals back for Espanyol before the final whistle but it was too little too late for the home side. They stay 19th and are four points from safety after suffering back-to-back defeats.

Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski scored twice as Barcelona beat local rivals Espanyol to seal the title

Barcelona have now won the Spanish top flight 27 times – only Real Madrid have more titles (35) – but their celebrations were short-lived after a large group of Espanyol fans invaded the pitch from behind one of the goals and started running towards the newly-crowned champions.

The visitors had to rush into the changing rooms and security guards quickly intervened, but riot police had to stand in front of the tunnel’s entrance to prevent the supporters from going in.

Xavi: Title shows Barca on right path

Barcelona head coach Xavi Hernandez: “It’s a magnificent feeling, a feeling of job well done.

“This is important to give the club’s project some stability. The league title shows that things have been done the right way and that we have to stay on this path.”

What’s next?

Barcelona will have the opportunity to celebrate winning the LaLiga title in front of their own fans next Saturday when they take on Real Sociedad at the Nou Camp; kick-off 8pm.

Espanyol continue their fight for survival next Sunday when they make the trip to 11th-placed Rayo Vallecano; kick-off 1pm.

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Busquets to leave Barcelona after 18 years

Long-serving Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets has announced he will leave the club this summer at the end of his contract, after 18 years at the Nou Camp.

Busquets has spent his entire professional career at the club where his father also played, but announced in a Twitter video he will not renew his contract when it expires on June 30. He has been captain of his boyhood club since 2021.

The 34-year-old first joined Barca from Jabac Terrassa as a 15-year-old and went on to make more than 700 appearances for his local club, winning 23 major honours including eight LaLiga titles and three Champions Leagues.

Even in latter years, Busquets has continued to serve as a regular member of the Barcelona first team and has made at least 30 appearances in each of his 15 seasons with the senior squad – only five players have featured more for the club during this campaign.

His emergence served as a hallmark of the Pep Guardiola era in Catalonia, as he was handed his first LaLiga appearance by the then-new boss in September 2008 and went on to form part of a formidable midfield trio alongside Andres Iniesta and Xavi, the current Barcelona manager.

Busquets was presented with a ceremonial Barcelona shirt after making his 700th appearance for the club earlier this season
Busquets was presented with a ceremonial Barcelona shirt after making his 700th appearance for the club earlier this season

Even as a 19-year-old, he would go on to feature 41 times in his debut season and earned his first LaLiga, Champions League and Copa Del Rey titles in that campaign.

“It has been an unforgettable journey,” he said in the video announcing his departure. “Since I was a child coming to the matches, or watching them on TV, I always dreamed of playing with this shirt at this stadium.

“The reality has exceeded all my dreams. I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me when I arrived as a youth player that I would play 15 seasons for the best club in the world, the club of my life, of which I have been, am and always will be a fan, member, player, captain, and surpass 700 matches.”

Busquets’ final game for the club could be a newly announced friendly against Vissel Kobe in Tokyo on June 6, giving Barca’s famous midfield trio a fitting send-off with Iniesta still a regular player for the Japanese side, and Xavi the current head coach of Barcelona.

As well as his honours with Barca, Busquets also won 143 caps with Spain and lifted both the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championships with his country.

He is likely to sign off with another domestic trophy with Barcelona. Xavi’s side are 13 points clear at the top of LaLiga and will secure the league title with victory at Espanyol on Sunday.

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