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
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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Messi in advanced talks over new Barca deal

Lionel Messi is in advanced talks with Barcelona about a new contract – but there are still important details yet to be agreed.

The Argentina forward and Barca captain remains in negotiations about several key aspects of new terms – likely to be two years in length – with just six days left until his current deal expires.

It is Messi’s intention to continue at his boyhood club – and both parties are negotiating with the idea of ??reaching an agreement and announcing the continuation of their partnership as soon as its finalised.

Barca hope it will be before July 1 so Messi does not run out of contract at the Nou Camp, and are said to be trying to accelerate the process as much as possible.

But, contrary to reports of an imminent signing and announcement, those formalities are on hold, Sky Sports News has been told, with a final agreement still to be reached.

Messi is also 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 this week, making the exact timing of his potential signing still uncertain.

Nevertheless, 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 has since resigned and Messi wanted to listen to the plans of his successor Joan Laporta – voted in in March – before deciding his future.

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

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Barca agree deal to sign Depay on free transfer

Barcelona have reached an agreement to sign Lyon forward Memphis Depay on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of this month.

Depay, who joined Lyon from Manchester United in 2017, will sign a two-year contract with the Spanish club as he reunites with former Netherlands head coach Ronald Koeman.

A club statement read: “FC Barcelona and Memphis Depay have reached an agreement for the player to join the club once his contract with Olympique Lyonnais is at an end. The player will sign a contract until the end of the 2022/23 season.”

Depay is set to become Barcelona’s third free transfer of the summer after ex-Manchester City pair Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia signed for the club.

However, Koeman missed out on fellow Dutchman Georginio Wijnaldum, who opted to sign for Paris Saint-Germain instead to work with Mauricio Pochettino, who once wanted him at Tottenham before he joined Liverpool.

Memphis Depay of the Netherlands during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group C match between Netherlands and Austria at Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Thursday, June 17, 2021, (Dean Mouhtaropoulous/Pool via AP)
Depay is set to reunite with former Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman at Barcelona

Barcelona have been forced to target free transfers due to more than £1billion-worth of debt, in part caused by the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 27-year-old is currently representing the Netherlands at Euro 2020, scoring one goal in two games.

Depay said in the Netherlands press conference on Wednesday: “Everyone knows that I have been negotiating with Barcelona for some time.

“I want to play with Ronald Koeman. Now is the time to wait, but soon there will be news.”

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Coutinho To Leicester This Summer?

The rumours for Coutinho’s return to the Premier League will continue to dominate transfer market news when the window is open, due to his unhappy period at Barcelona, and especially down to how loved he was in the Premier League. There have been many clubs that have been interested in Coutinho but nothing of any substance until now, where Leicester City are looking to cancel all rumours and make them a reality this summer but just how will he fit in to the Foxes if this move is pulled off.

[Image: The Sun]

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One of the main reasons why Leicester City might be interested in Coutinho is since there has been a lot of rumours about their midfield trio with them moving to alternative clubs themselves. James Maddison has been rumoured to leave to Arsenal due to Martin Odegaard not being let to leave Real Madrid by new manager Carlo Ancelotti after a successful loan at Arsenal, Youri Tielemans who was Leicester’s player of the year last year has been tipped to move to Liverpool like Wilfred Ndidi and Phillipe Coutinho would be able to replace all three of these if needs be. 

Another reason why Coutinho might be interested in a move to the Foxes would be to link back up with Brendan Rodgers where the two of them went on a title push one season and built a rather good relationship. In fact, Coutinho has said before that he would like to link back with Rodgers at some point in his career due to the repour that they had built during their time together at Liverpool. 

But how is this deal going to happen? This is a question that is on both Barcelona and Leicester fans lips as it seems that this deal is still a very long way off. It seems that Barcelona just wants to get him off the wage bill as quickly as possibly, and it has been suggested that they would accept just €20 million, compared to the €142 they paid for him! The way this deal can be struck will be using a loan deal, as although Leicester can afford the price tag, the wages might be the issue. 

Depay close to joining Barcelona on free transfer

Memphis Depay is close to signing for Barcelona on a free transfer.

Head coach Ronald Koeman, who previously managed Depay for the Netherlands national team, has confirmed the move is “well on its way”.

Depay, whose contract with Lyon expires at the end of this month and has been talking to Barca since January, has confirmed there will be news “soon”.

“Memphis has said something about his future which I can confirm,” Koeman was quoted by Marca on Thursday.

“As far as I know, the move is well on its way. Although he hasn’t signed yet, it is close. I wanted to complete the deal in January and if he comes it is great for us.”

Ex-Manchester United forward Depay said in the Netherlands press conference on Wednesday: “Everyone knows that I have been negotiating with Barcelona for some time.

“I want to play with Ronald Koeman. Now is the time to wait, but soon there will be news.”

Depay is set to become Barcelona’s third free transfer of the summer after ex-Manchester City pair Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia signed for the club.

However, Koeman missed out on fellow Dutchman Georginio Wijnaldum, who opted to sign for Paris Saint-Germain instead to work with Mauricio Pochettino, who once wanted him at Tottenham before he joined Liverpool.

Barcelona have been forced to target free transfers due to more than £1billion-worth of debt, in part caused by the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Depay is currently part of the Netherlands squad at Euro 2020 and started in their opening 3-2 win over Ukraine.

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Juve, Barca, Real admitted to Champions League

Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid have been admitted to next season’s Champions League despite their involvement in the proposed breakaway European Super League project.

Admission letters have been sent to all Champions League participants, European soccer’s governing body UEFA has said.

Disciplinary proceedings against Juve, Barca and Real over their involvement in the proposed Super League have been suspended by UEFA’s independent appeals body.

UEFA opened a probe against the three clubs but last week it suspended proceedings after being notified by the Swiss authorities of a court order from the commercial court in Madrid obtained by the legal entity European Super League Company SL.

Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Carabao Cup Final - Wembley Stadium
A fan in the stands holds up a banner protesting against the European Super League ahead of the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture date: Sunday April 25, 2021.
English fans protested against the creation of a European Super League

“Admission letters have been sent to all clubs participating in next season’s UEFA club competitions today,” UEFA told Reuters on Tuesday.

Juve, Barca and Real are the last of the 12 clubs who signed up to the Super League in April not to have distanced themselves from the breakaway project which unravelled when all six English teams plus Inter Milan, AC Milan and Atletico Madrid withdrew.

Super League founder and Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli said earlier this month the plan to create a breakaway league was not a coup but a way to save the football industry, which has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Juve qualified for the Champions League on the final day of last season’s Serie A campaign and have since changed coaches, with Massimiliano Allegri back for a second spell.

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Wijnaldum: Barca took too long, PSG were clear

Georginio Wijnaldum says he decided to join Paris Saint-Germain ahead of Barcelona because the Spanish side took too long over negotiations.

Wijnaldum, currently on Euro 2020 duty with the Netherlands, joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer from Liverpool, signing a three-year deal with the Ligue 1 club earlier this week.

Wijnaldum left Liverpool at the end of the season after opting not to sign an extension to his contract at Anfield, and will now play under Mauricio Pochettino in France.

However, his move to Paris came after Barcelona and Bayern Munich had both been trying to sign the midfielder, with the Spanish side locked in talks with the Netherlands captain for up to four weeks.

“I made another choice. It was very difficult. I was negotiating with Barcelona for four weeks, and we never reached a final decision,” Wijnaldum revealed ahead of Netherlands’ Euro 2020 opener against Ukraine on Sunday.


Wijnaldum was given a guard of honour and a special presentation in what looks likely to be his final game for the club

“Paris Saint-Germain were a bit better in making a decision. They were quicker. And the project that they have at PSG it really appealed to me.

“It was a difficult choice I have to be honest. I thought I would be moving to Barcelona because they were the only team who were really interested in me, but we did not reach an agreement together.

“PSG were much clearer in making that decision.”

Wijnaldum, who made 237 appearances for Liverpool since joining from Newcastle in July 2016, won the Champions League and Premier League during his five-year spell at Anfield.

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Who Could Philippe Coutinho Sign For This Summer?

When Philippe Coutinho is on form, he is one of the best creative midfielders in the work, however since his transfer to Barcelona, things haven’t seem to have worked out as he expected them to have and the transfer rumours have been flying around for the past couple transfer windows, but it seems that this season Barcelona have put him on the transfer list, but which clubs are looking most likely to sign him this summer.

[Image: Bleacher Report]

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It has been tipped that that Coutinho might be interested in returning to Liverpool where he left for Barcelona back in 2018 and was quite clearly one of their most influential players but since then, Liverpool have gone on to win the Champions League and Premier League. Coutinho was a fan favourite at the Merseyside club, and we don’t believe that there are many Liverpool fans that wouldn’t have the Brazilian back at Anfield. Coutinho might have to swallow his pride returning to Liverpool, but we do believe it would be a good move for both parties and is currently trading at 12/1.

However, the heavy favourites to purchase Coutinho this summer is the blue side of Merseyside with Everton being priced at 3/1 to sign the Brazilian this summer. Reports have stated that Everton are confident on completing a deal this summer which would certainly break any ties that he had with Liverpool. Everton shocked the world last summer by signing James Rodriguez and will be looking to repeat history by bringing another A-list player to Goodison Park this summer and might be the best place for Coutinho to get his career back on track.

And finally, outside of the Premier League, Ac Milan are also in the running to sign Coutinho this summer currently priced at 14/1. Milan has showed a lot of improvement over the past couple of years and were in the title race for most of the season, losing out to Inter in the final stages. With them qualifying for the Champions League though next season, this could be a deciding factor if Coutinho was going to sign for them.

Inter Miami co-owner ‘optimistic’ Messi will join in future

Jorge Mas, the co-owner of Major League Soccer team Inter Miami, is “optimistic” Barcelona forward Lionel Messi will play for them in the future.

Messi’s Barcelona contract is due to expire at the end of June but Barcelona president Joan Laporta said earlier this month talks over a new contract were progressing well.

Spanish media reported Barcelona have proposed a new 10-year deal to Messi where the Argentine will play two more seasons before ending his playing career with two seasons at Inter Miami.

The 33-year-old Argentine, who wanted to leave Barcelona last summer, will then return to the La Liga club from Florida for six years as a global ambassador, the reports added.

“I am optimistic Messi will play in an Inter Miami shirt because I think it will complete the legacy of the greatest player in our generation and will meet with the ambitions of the owners of Inter Miami to build a world-class team,” Mas told the Miami Herald.

Mas said he and fellow co-owner David Beckham were determined to bring world-class talent to the Miami club, who are 11th in the 14-team MLS Eastern Conference.

Inter Miami CF co-owners Jorge Mas, left, and David Beckham
Inter Miami co-owners Jorge Mas, left, and David Beckham

Six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi has scored 672 goals in 778 appearances for Barcelona – both are all-time records for the club.

“David and I have been working really hard, we have aspirations of bringing the best players here and Messi is a generational player, arguably the best player of all time,” Mas added.

Inter Miami are managed by former England women’s manager and Beckham’s ex-Manchester United team-mate Phil Neville.

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Koeman to stay on as Barcelona boss

Ronald Koeman will remain Barcelona’s coach next season, club president Joan Laporta said on Thursday.

Koeman’s future at the club was in doubt after a disappointing season in which the Catalan giants missed out on the La Liga title, were knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16, and only won the Copa del Rey.

The former Netherlands boss still has a year left on his contract at the Nou Camp and Laporta confirmed in May they were “evaluating” the head coach, while Sky Sports News understood other options were also being assessed.

However, Laporta – who took over from Josep Maria Bartomeu as club president in March – announced the club would be sticking with Koeman after a meeting of the club’s board of directors on Thursday.

“After this period of reflection, vice-president Rafael Yuste and myself have agreed that we will continue with the current contract that Ronald Koeman has.

“We are very pleased to see that these talks have borne fruit in a unity of judgment.”

Barcelona have already moved to bring in new players in the transfer market and secured Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia on free transfers when their deals with Manchester City expire in July.

The club are also in talks to extend Lionel Messi’s current deal which is set to expire in the summer.

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