Barca would part with Griezmann, Dembele and others

Antoine Griezmann, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele are on a list of at least nine players Barcelona would be willing to part with this summer.

Although Lionel Messi’s future at the Nou Camp appears all-but assured, Barcelona will only be able to invest in further additions to their squad by arranging some significant departures.

Griezmann is undoubtedly the most eye-catching name among the group due to the massive £100m+ (€120m) investment it took to sign him from Atletico Madrid just two years ago. He was then the fifth-most expensive transfer of all time.

But Coutinho, Dembele and striker Martin Braithwaite are also at the forefront of the push for funds to boost the finances of a club which is mounted with huge debts exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Martin Braithwaite - formerly of Middlesbrough - put Barcelona into the Copa Del Rey final with an extra-time winner to beat Sevilla
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Martin Braithwaite’s value has risen because of his performances for club and country

Barcelona believe Braithwaite in particular has increased in value because of his performances for Denmark during Euro 2020 – he was also one of the cheaper arrivals in Catalonia, having only cost around £15m to trigger his release clause from Leganes in February 2020.

Griezmann is one of the highest-paid players in world football and Barcelona also need to cut down their wage bill, which led to recent discussions over a potential exchange that would have seen his return to Atletico and Saul Niguez join Barca – the clubs were unable to come to an agreement.

Ousmane Dembele scored as Barcelona moved closer to Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga
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Ousmane Dembele has sometimes struggled to live up to his £100m price tag after moving from Borussia Dortmund

The Frenchman’s substantial salary means there are only a handful of clubs that can afford to take him on and Juventus are one big club not currently interested, according to Sky in Italy, nor in a return for Miralem Pjanic, who moved to Barca in a swap with Arthur Melo last summer.

Dembele and Clement Lenglet are other high-profile names Barcelona would be willing to listen to offers for – or at least include in swap deals for their targets – as well as goalkeeper Neto and right-backs Emerson and Moussa Wague.



Sergio Aguero will join Barcelona upon the expiration of his contract at Manchester City








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Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman highlighted the importance of new signing Sergio Aguero, saying the Argentine is ‘really good quality in the box’. Pictures from FC Barcelona

Barcelona’s management is also talking with a number of veteran players – Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto – over contract extensions and want them to follow their captain Messi in taking wage cuts.

Sky Sports News has been warned by sources in Spain that one of these stars also leaving cannot be ruled out at this stage.

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Leicester City the potential next move for Philippe Coutinho

The career of Philippe Coutinho could be taking another twist, with rumours being made that he could be set to return to the Premier league for Leicester City. If he were to make the move over, then he would without a doubt be a good edition to the squad and help the side have another strong push for a top four finish and the all important Champions league qualification. The odds have continued to shorten for this to happen, with fans looking at this casino review at cashmo for offers on the markets available on this potential transfer taking place.

Coutinho is just coming off the back of a season in Germany for Bayern Munich and helped push them to win the league title again and continue their stunning run domestically. This was a positive season overall for Coutinho, as he has able to pick up 38 appearances for the club, that included 11 goals and a further nine assists. A positive return for the loan spell at the German champions.

It also meant it was the fourth longest spell he has spent at a club in his career. He had previously played for Inter Milan, which saw him make 47 appearances, whilst netting four goals and four assists. This was in the early period of his career and part of his improvement in becoming the player he has shown to be for more recent clubs. Coutinho really burst onto the scene with his period at Liverpool, which was also by far and away the longest. This saw him make 201 appearances, whilst scoring 54 goals and picking up a further 45 assists in the process. He really did become a club legend in the process, so he will certainly be a welcome addition back to the Premier league, were Leicester City able to pull off the signing. He has also spent an extended period of time at Barcelona, where he made 90 appearances. This also included 23 goals and a further 14 assists.

These statistics throughout his career show that he has been a great asset to the different clubs that he has played at. This is why he has been part of many different clubs and winning trophies. This includes the likes of being a Champions league winner with Bayern Munich in 2019/20. A Copa America for Brazil in 18/19, whilst also winning x2 Spanish titles, x1 German title and even a Super Cup title.

It will now be fascinating to see his next steps and potential his exciting future back in the Premier league.

Barca, Atleti in talks over Griezmann-Saul swap deal

Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are in talks about a swap deal which would see Antoine Griezmann and Saul Niguez switch clubs.

If the deal is completed, Griezmann would return to Atletico after moving to Barcelona in a €120m deal two years ago.

Barcelona believe Griezmann is worth more than Saul, and they are asking for €15m as part of the deal or more players such as Renan Lodi or Mario Hermoso.

Atletico are prepared to let Saul leave this summer after eight seasons at the club. He helped Atletico win La Liga last season.

Saul
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Barcelona are keen on sign Niguez from Atletico

Barcelona are willing to let Griezmann leave because they need to cut their wage bill.

Saul has been linked with a move to the Premier League, with reports crediting Manchester United and Liverpool with an interest in the midfielder.

Messi agrees new five-year Barca deal

Lionel Messi has agreed terms over a new deal at Barcelona
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Lionel Messi has agreed terms over a new deal at Barcelona

Lionel Messi has reached a verbal agreement on a five-year contract extension at Barcelona, with his salary to be reduced by 50 per cent under terms of the new deal.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner was officially a free agent as of July 1 after he failed to agree terms over a renewal before his previous Barcelona contract expired on June 30.

Earlier in July, Messi led Argentina to the Copa America title thanks to a 1-0 win in the final against hosts Brazil, bringing an end to his wait for a first major international trophy.

The 34-year-old has now agreed to stay on at his boyhood club for another five years, meaning he will be 39 by the time his new deal runs out – when he will have totalled 26 years on the club’s books.

Messi Q&A: How Barcelona can afford deal










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Spanish football expert Euan McTear explains the structure of the new five-year deal Lionel Messi has reportedly agreed with Barcelona and how they are going about being able to finance it

Spanish football expert Euan McTear tells Sky Sports News why there has been a delay to Messi committing his future at the Nou Camp and the possible repercussions of the new five-year contract…

Why have Barcelona offered such a lengthy contract?

“The reason it’s a five-year deal is it is likely Messi will play the next two years but it’s a longer deal so that he stays linked to the club as an ambassador. But the talk is he might go to MLS after two years while still being paid by the club.

“It’s a way for Barcelona to spread out the payment over five years. That’s part of the reason he’s been able to take such a massive cut of around 50 per cent.”

Will a 50 per cent pay cut work for Barcelona?

“It might but they will still have more work to do. Messi has been convinced to stay on for a while now but one of the reasons why they have not been able to register him so far is down to La Liga regulations. They have very strict financial control rules, where you cannot register new players until you have met their guidelines.

“They need to clear a lot of salary off their books and they are still working to do that. It’s why there’s been reports they might make a swap deal with Saul Niguez at Atletico Madrid and Antoine Griezmann. It would partly free up Griezmann’s high wages to then pay Messi.



Lionel Messi (AP)








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Spanish Football expert Alvaro Montero says he expects Lionel Messi to re-sign for Barcelona despite the financial restrictions the club is facing at the moment

So Griezmann will be sacrificed for Messi?

“There’s a lot of talk in Spain that Griezmann will head back to Atletico Madrid, but their fans will not entertain the prospect of Saul leaving at all. Diego Simeone wants to have Griezmann back at the club, and he’s very much in charge so if he wants something he could well get it.

“Griezmann is currently in Ibiza on holiday but is on standby and ready to fly into Madrid if that swap deal does go through. It’s a way for Barcelona to save around €12m in wages.”

How have Barcelona hit financial problems?

“The coronavirus pandemic has affected everybody – it’s affected Real Madrid, Atletico and Premier League clubs. But Barcelona were already in a bad situation basically due to mismanagement under the Bartomeu administration that came before the Joan Laporta-led regime.

“They were just waiting for a natural disaster or a pandemic to push them over the edge to create all kinds of problems, and that’s exactly what’s happened.”

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Messi agrees five-year Barca deal with 50 per cent pay cut

Lionel Messi has reached a verbal agreement on a five-year contract extension at Barcelona, with his salary to be reduced by 50 per cent under terms of the new deal.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner was officially a free agent as of July 1 after he failed to agree terms over a renewal before his previous Barcelona contract expired on June 30.

Earlier in July, Messi led Argentina to the Copa America title thanks to a 1-0 win in the final against hosts Brazil, bringing an end to his wait for a first major international trophy.

The 34-year-old has now agreed to stay on at his boyhood club for another five years, meaning he will be 39 by the time his new deal runs out – when he will have totalled 26 years on the club’s books.

Messi sparked an acrimonious transfer row in August last year, when he officially informed the club his wish to activate a clause in his contract which would have seen him leave for free.

However, La Liga president Javier Tebas and Josep Maria Bartomeu – Barcelona president at the time – blocked the move, indicating that the clause was only active until June 10 and any suitor would have to pay his €700m release clause in full.

messi
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Lionel Messi finally won a major trophy with Argentina this summer

“I thought and we were sure that I’d be a free agent,” Messi told Goal.

“The president always told me that I could decide to stay or go at the end of the season and they’re now clinging to the fact that I hadn’t said anything by June 10, when it turns out that on June 10 the La Liga season was still ongoing and we were in the midst of this virus and this illness that altered the whole fixture calendar.

“And that’s the reason why I’m staying on at the club. I’m now staying because the president told me that the only way I could leave was by paying the €700m release clause, which is impossible.”

Bartomeu went on to resign in October, while Messi wanted to listen to the plans of his successor Joan Laporta before deciding his future.

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have been the front-running clubs interested in signing him. Messi also wants to one day play in MLS.

Messi Q&A: How Barcelona can afford deal



Lionel Messi (AP)








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Spanish Football expert Alvaro Montero says he expects Lionel Messi to re-sign for Barcelona despite the financial restrictions the club is facing at the moment.

Spanish football expert Euan McTear tells Sky Sports News why there has been a delay to Messi committing his future at the Nou Camp, and the possible repercussions of the new five-year contract…

Why have Barcelona offered such a lengthy contract?

“The reason it’s a five-year deal is that it is likely that Messi will play the next two years but it’s a longer deal so that he stays linked to the club as an ambassador. But the talk is he might go to MLS after two years while still being paid by the club.

“It’s a way for Barcelona to spread out the payment over five years. That’s part of the reason he’s been able to take such a massive cut of around 50 per cent.”

Will a 50 per cent pay cut work for Barcelona?

“It might but they’ll still have more work to do. Messi has been convinced to stay on for a while now but one of the reasons why they’ve not been able to register him so far is down to La Liga regulations. They have very strict financial control rules, where you cannot register new players until you’ve met their guidelines.

“They need to clear a lot of salary off their books and they’re still working to do that. It’s why there’s been reports they might make a swap deal with Saul Niguez at Atletico Madrid and Antoine Griezmann. It would partly free up Griezmann’s high wages to then pay Messi.

Antoine Griezmann scored twice in Barcelona's win over Villarreal
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Antoine Griezmann could be offloaded to generate funds

So Griezmann will be sacrificed for Messi?

“There’s a lot of talk in Spain that Griezmann will head back to Atletico Madrid, but their fans won’t entertain the prospect of Saul leaving at all. Diego Simeone wants to have Griezmann back at the club, and he’s very much in charge so if he wants something he could well get it.

“Griezmann is currently in Ibiza on holiday but is on standby and ready to fly into Madrid if that swap deal does go through. It’s a way for Barcelona to save around €12m in wages.”

How have Barcelona hit financial problems?

“The coronavirus pandemic has affected everybody – it’s affected Real Madrid, Atletico and Premier League clubs. But Barcelona were already in a bad situation basically due to mismanagement under the Bartomeu administration that came before the Joan Laporta-led regime.

“They were just waiting for a natural disaster or a pandemic to push them over the edge to create all kinds of problems, and that’s exactly what’s happened.”

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Tebas: Man City signing Messi would be ‘financial doping’

La Liga president Javier Tebas claimed the only way Manchester City could sign Lionel Messi is through ‘financial doping’.

Messi became a free agent on July 1 and although the Argentine is keen to remain at Barcelona, the Catalan club cannot offer him a new deal due to their financial predicament.

Tebas ruled out La Liga relaxing their Financial Fair Play rules to allow the six-time Ballon d’Or winner to stay at the Nou Camp, saying Messi must take a substantial pay cut.

He also warned Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain that their recent financial losses mean they would be unable to match the Argentine’s previous salary.

The president of La Liga, Javier Tebas
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La Liga president Javier Tebas

“He won’t be able to sign [for Barcelona] on the previous conditions, that’s impossible,” said Tebas. “I don’t think any European club would be able to pay that amount.

“Manchester City have lost €270m [during the Covid-19 pandemic] so obviously they wouldn’t even consider signing Messi [on his old salary].

“If they do, it will be the financial doping. I’ve told [Pep] Guardiola this too. I’ve directly said that to him, ‘would you have won as many titles without as much economic doping?’

“When the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) let off Manchester City there was a lot of comments about that. (Jose) Mourinho and all these other coaches said this. If this happens I think it would be absolutely incredible.

“This is the sort of governance where we should establish minutes. This economic doping is what is really damaging football.

“It is not real money that’s involved because it is not generated by the clubs. If the money in the football industry isn’t generated by football, it just causes inflation. And it’s a bad type of inflation.

“Then it just ruins football because the clubs have to put in all this effort which is well above their financial capacity.

“We need to really fight against this and we will continue to do this all the time. This is one of our pending issues in European football and if it’s not solved soon it could lead us to a very complicated financial situation.”

Manchester City declined to comment when contacted by Sky Sports News.

It is not the first time Tebas has taken aim at Manchester City and PSG. In 2017 he also accused them of “financial doping” while last April he called for greater controls within football to check the power of the “state-owned clubs”.

Lionel Messi helped fire Argentina into the Copa America semi-finals
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Messi has led Argentina into the Copa America final

Messi has helped guide Argentina to the Copa America final and on Saturday will play against hosts Brazil hoping to win a first major trophy with his country.

But his club future still needs to be settled with the La Liga season starting again in five weeks’ time.

Tebas said the only way for Barca to keep their captain was to get rid of more players, having recently sold left-back Junior Firpo to Leeds United and USA international Konrad de la Fuente to Marseille.

“If no player leaves, it’s impossible,” he added.

“Currently Football Club Barcelona, like other clubs, have gone over the sport squad limit that was established by the Liga due to the pandemic.

“But in those particular cases when they’ve gone over it we have a regulation, which is called one by four. So we allow them to sign on new players, whenever they reduced the current wage bill.

“The regulation is for each euro that they want to use for sign-ups, they have to save four.”

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Griezmann, Dembele apologise for video mocking hotel staff

Barcelona forwards Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann have apologised for a video released in 2019 which appeared to mock hotel staff in Japan, but denied their comments were racist.

The video, recorded by Dembele during Barcelona’s pre-season tour of Japan ahead of the 2019/20 season, was leaked on social media and showed both players laughing at a group of hotel staff who were working to fix a television.

“It all took place in Japan. It could’ve taken place anywhere on the planet and I would’ve used the same expression,” Dembele wrote on Instagram.

“I was therefore not targeting any community. I just happened to use this type of expression with my friends regardless of their origins.

Antoine Griezmann celebrates after scoring for France vs Hungary
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Griezmann and Dembele were involved in France’s Euro 2020 campaign as Didier Deschamps’ side were knocked out in the last 16

“This video has since been made public. I appreciate therefore that it could’ve hurt the people present in these images. Because of this, I would like to sincerely apologise to them.”

Griezmann said he was “completely against all forms of discrimination”.

“For the past few days, certain people have wanted to paint me as someone that I am not,” he said on Twitter. “I firmly refute the accusations made against me and I’m sorry if I have offended any of my Japanese friends.”

The pair recently featured for France at Euro 2020, where the world champions were knocked out by Switzerland in the round-of-16 following a penalty shootout.

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Leeds sign defender Firpo from Barcelona

Leeds have completed the signing of full-back Junior Firpo from Barcelona for a fee of £12.8m.

Following a period of quarantine and completion of his medical, the full-back signed a four-year deal at Elland Road, running until the summer of 2025.

Born in the Dominican Republic, Firpo moved to Spain at a young age and made his breakthrough at Real Betis.

Making his first La Liga start in February 2018 in Betis’ 1-0 victory over Deportivo La Coruna, the full-back went on to become a first team regular at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.



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Jack Harrison hopes to play a pivotal role in Leeds’ progression after the winger completed a permanent move to Elland Road from Manchester City.

In August 2019, he joined Barcelona, where made 41 appearances. Barca are looking to shift players as they try to reduce their huge wage bill, with the Spanish club reportedly keen to release Samuel Umtiti and Miralem Pjanic, and loan out Philippe Coutinho – as they still need to find the money to offer Lionel Messi a new contract.

Firpo becomes Leeds’ third signing of the summer transfer window and will wear the number three shirt during his time at Elland Road.

He comes in as a replacement for Ezgjan Alioski, who failed to agree a new contract at the club.

Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports

You can follow all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports’ digital platforms, as well as keeping track of all the developments on Sky Sports News.

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Wolves sign Trincao on loan, closing in on Ait-Nouri deal

Wolves have agreed a deal to sign Francisco Trincao on loan from Barcelona until the end of the season and are closing in on a permanent deal for Rayan Ait-Nouri.

The Premier League club have an option to buy Trincao for £25m next summer.

The 21-year-old winger joined Barcelona last year for £26.5m and has six caps for Portugal.

He made 28 La Liga appearances for Barcelona last season, scoring three goals.

“We’ve watched him a lot, especially over the last couple of months, so he’s been on our radar for quite a while,” said Wolves technical director Scott Sellars.

“He’s got loads of quality – signing for Barcelona from Braga shows what potential he’s got. He’s 21 and has played quite a lot of games in La Liga, so we think he’s ready for the Premier League.

“He’s a player who drifts past people and he has a great change of direction when he’s moving with the ball. He has great speed over two or three yards, to change direction and get away from people, can score and create, and is an exciting player.”

Trincao will travel to the UK on Sunday but will need to quarantine before joining the Wolves squad.

The club return to pre-season training on Monday, which will be the first time new head coach Bruno Lage meets the players since taking over from Nuno Espirito Santo.

Trincao has already played with six of his new Wolves team-mates for Portugal.

“We have a large Portuguese contingent, and they look after each other well, but are also integrated in the whole group,” Sellars added.

“They’re really hard-working, with a good mentality, so I’m sure he’ll integrate well and settle in quickly.

“With the manager’s Portuguese background, he knows him and speaks very highly of him, so he’s a player we’re very excited to be bringing to the club.”

Rayan Ait-Nouri
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Rayan Ait-Nouri made 21 appearances for Wolves last season

Meanwhile, Wolves are close to finalising the signing of Ait-Nouri for £10m from Angers.

The France U21 defender was on loan at Molineux last season and his deal included a £20m option but that was declined.

Instead, Wolves have agreed a £10m deal with a sell-on clause, which can be bought out at a later date.

Ait-Nouri’s arrival next week will see Wolves sell wing-back Ruben Vinagre to Sporting Lisbon, also for £10m.

Vinagre impressed the Portuguese champions while on loan at Famalicao last season.

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Messi a free agent | Barca president: Talks on right track

Barcelona president Joan Laporta remains confident Lionel Messi will stay with the club despite the fact the forward’s contract expired on Wednesday.

Messi, 34, is technically a free agent as of July 1, with his contract running down before Barca could finalise terms on a new deal.

Last week, Sky Sports News reported the six-time Ballon d’Or winner was in advanced talks regarding a new contract – likely to be two years.

And Laporta, who made extending Messi’s deal a priority when re-elected in March, has said the Argentine wants to remain with the Catalan club, although it remains unclear when an official announcement could be made.

“We want him to stay and Leo wants to stay, everything is on the right track, what’s left to sort out is the issue of fair play and we are in the process of finding the best solution for both parties,” Laporta told El Transistor.

“I’d like to be able to announce that he is staying but at the moment I cannot do that, because we are in the process of looking for the best solution for both parties.”

Argentina 4-1 Bolivia
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Lionel Messi is currently on international duty with Argentina at the Copa America

Messi is currently more than 8,000 kilometres away from Catalonia, playing with the Argentina national team at the Copa America, and his father and agent Jorge Messi left Barcelona last week, making the exact timing of his potential signing still uncertain.

Nevertheless, recent developments mark a considerable turnaround since almost a year ago when Messi handed in a transfer request, believing he had an agreement that allowed him to leave for free.

Then Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu insisted they would hold him to a €700m release clause, however.

Bartomeu went on to resign in October, while Messi wanted to listen to the plans of his successor Laporta before deciding his future.

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have been the front-running clubs interested in signing him. Messi also wants to one day play in MLS.

Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports

You can follow all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports’ digital platforms, as well as keeping track of all the developments on Sky Sports News.

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Duggan confirms Atletico departure ahead of WSL return

Toni Duggan has said farewell to Spanish football with the forward expected to return to the Women’s Super League ahead of next season.

Duggan joined Barcelona in 2017 and moved on to Atletico Madrid two years later, but has now confirmed her future lies elsewhere.

She wrote on Twitter: “After four really enjoyable years, it’s time to say goodbye to Spain.

“I’ve had the honour of playing for two incredible clubs, helped them to create history and won trophies. Most importantly, I’ve met so many special people and created memories on and off the pitch that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

“I wish Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and women’s football in Spain the best of luck in the future.”

The 29-year-old exclusively told Sky Sports News last month she intended to see out her contract at Atletico, which runs until the end of June, and move back to England

The Liverpudlian is set to return to the WSL four years after departing for Barcelona in order to earn a place back in the Lionesses’ squad and be closer to her family.

Duggan said: “My contract with Atletico is up in the summer, I think people are aware of that and, after a difficult year with the coronavirus pandemic and the world changing, I want to be back with family and also to get back in the England side – for me personally that was the biggest difficulty this year.

“I think if I’m in the WSL, back in England, and in front of the new manager’s eyes, that is my motivation – to get back in the England team, come back to England and hopefully people can remember me.”

Duggan has been linked with a move to Everton, where she began her career before joining Manchester City where she won a Women’s Super League title, an FA Cup and two WSL Cups.

She added a Copa de la Reina with Barca, who finished runners-up in the league twice and the Champions League once in her time there, and a Supercopa with Atletico.

Toni Duggan (L) last featured for the Lionesses in the 2020 SheBelieves Cup
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Duggan (L) last featured for England in the 2020 SheBelieves Cup

She has 79 senior England caps to her name and was part of the victorious squad at the 2019 SheBelieves Cup.

Duggan, though, is yet to receive a call-up from interim coach Hege Riise and was not included in the Team GB squad for the Tokyo Olympics which begin next month.

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