Football news LIVE: Lionel Messi 'on verge of SHOCK Barcelona July return', Chelsea's Nkunku £52m pre-contract 'agreed' | The Sun

LIONEL MESSI could make a sensational return to Barcelona next July – at 36.

And now Argentine journalist Veronica Brunati, known to be close to the Messi family, has declared the superstar has decided to go back to the Nou Camp.

She posted on Twitter: “On July 1, 2023, Lionel Messi will be a Barcelona player.”

Meanwhile, Chelsea are leading the race to sign AC Milan star Rafael Leao, according to reports.

Leao is being monitored by a number of top clubs as he enjoys yet another fantastic season in Serie A.

In a double transfer boost for Chelsea, the club have signed a pre-contract agreement with RB Leipzig for star striker Christopher Nkunku, according to reports.

It's been said the Blues are willing to pay £52million for the Frenchman's services up front.

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Stay up to date with all the latest from around the grounds…

  • Kiro Evans

    Millers get their man

    Rotherham have announced that they have poached Matt Taylor as their new manager.

    The Championship club were rocked last week when long-serving boss Paul Warne left for League 1 Derby County.

    But they have moved quickly to grab Matt Taylor from Exeter.

    Their new boss guided the Grecians to League 2 promotion last season.

    He will now be tasked with keeping Rotherham in the Championship, which even Warne could not achieve.

    Exeter will be paid compensation from the Millers as they begin their search for a new boss.

  • Kiro Evans

    Barc Again

    Lionel Messi could make a stunning return to Barcelona next summer – at 36.

    Rumours of a move back to Catalonia for the South American star have grown in recent weeks with Messi already in the final year of his two-season deal at PSG.

    Messi is understood to be committed until the end of this campaign, with PSG’s Qatari owners determined to keep him until after the World Cup and for the second half of the season.

    Barca coach and former team-mate Xavi fuelled the speculation as he refused to dismiss the concept, only stating: “Let’s see how it goes but this is not the time to talk about Leo.

    "We love him very much but we wouldn’t be doing him any favours to talk about it. We have to let him enjoy Paris now.”

    Read the full Sun story here

  • Kiro Evans

    London Calling

    Leandro Trossard has not closed the door to a move to Arsenal or Chelsea amid speculation on his future.

    The Belgian hit a sensational hat-trick at Anfield to help Brighton to a point.

    It continues his trend of impressive performances at Brighton, and led some to believe he could be of interest to bigger clubs.

    And the 27-year-old has not shut down the chances of a move.

    He told the BBC's Monday Night Club: "It’s difficult to say anything about that now, it completely depends on which club would come. If I feel good and things are good on a private level… but I also know how good I am at Brighton, also with new coach Roberto De Zerbi it looks promising."

  • Kiro Evans

    Keeping a Koul head

    Chelsea defender Kalidou Koulibaly has insisted he is not concerned about his lack of game time under the new Blues manager.

    Graham Potter has kept the summer signing on the bench for his first two games in charge of the club.

    But Koulibaly, 31, says he is keeping his head down.

    Speaking ahead of Chelsea's huge Champions League clash against, he said: "It is true I haven't played under the new manager. But I'm easy. My time will come.

    "When I don't play I put all my energy on the work. I am trying to give my best in training to see how him he can use me on the pitch."

  • Kiro Evans

    'He walked so we could run'

    As part of Black History Month, Manchester United's Ethan Laird has paid tribute to trailblazer Viv Anderson.

    The full-back, enjoying an impressive loan spell at QPR, reflects on the importance of Anderson for black players in England.

  • Kiro Evans

    'We don't care'

    RB Leipzig boss Marco Rose has batted away speculation over the future of his forward Christopher Nkunku.

    The explosive forward has been repeatedly linked to Chelsea in recent days – with some reports even suggesting a deal is all but done.

    But Rose, who replaced Domenico Tedesco as Leipzig boss last month, refused to be drawn on the topic.

    He said: "It’s speculation, we don’t comment on it. We don’t care, we don’t care."

    Leipzig host Celtic tomorrow as they look to get their Champions League campaign off the ground. The German side have lost both group games so far.

  • Sam Dymond

    Walker to miss Copenhagen clash

    Kyle Walker is expected to miss Manchester City's Champions League game against FC Copenhagen at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

    The England defender was forced off with a knock in the first half of City's 6-3 derby destruction of Manchester United on Sunday.

    The substitution looked a precautionary move with City 3-0 up at the time, but it's now unlikely that the right-back will recover for the midweek match.

    However, there was better news for manager Pep Guardiola regarding Rodri, who missed the weekend's Manchester derby.

    "Rodri is better, but I think Kyle is out. We will see in training later," the City boss told reporters this lunchtime.

  • Sam Dymond

    United still ‘desperate’ for De Jong

    Manchester United have not been put off their pursuit of Frenkie de Jong by this summer’s transfer saga – and are willing to do it all over again come the new year.

    In fact, the Old Trafford outfit have been described as being ‘desperate’ to land the Dutch midfielder – despite landing Casemiro for £80m.

    Spanish outlet Fichajes report that the Red Devils remain determined to land the player that previously started for Erik ten Hag at Ajax.

    The 25-year-old rejected a move to the Premier League to remain with Barcelona, but there is speculation that he will move on before long.

  • Sam Dymond

    Forest's Cooper in 'crisis talks'

    Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper is currently locked in talks with the club's hierarchy regarding his immediate future.

    MailSport also report that City Ground chief executive Dane Murphy and his recruitment team are also facing the axe.

    Furious owner Evangelos Marinakis feels it is time to take action with the East Midlands outfit rooted to the bottom of the Premier League despite spending £150m on 22 players.

    Last night's 4-0 thrashing at Leicester City was their fifth defeat on the trot.

  • Sam Dymond

    Riyad receives needed Pep talk

    Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has told Riyad Mahrez to return to training in an 'improved physical condition' because the team need him.

    The Algerian international has completed 90 minutes on just one occasion this season, and has had to settle for cameos off the bench in five of the last six matches.

    When asked what the 31-year-old has to do to regain his place in City's starting XI, Guardiola replied: "He knows perfectly.

    "We need him to come back to his best, with his love for the game, his ability and his quality. Now he is not playing much. He has to come back in better physical condition."

  • Sam Dymond

    Foxes fancy Van de Beek

    Leicester City are interested in rescuing Donny van de Beek from his Old Trafford nightmare.

    According to Jeunes Footeux [via Sports Witness], the East Midlands club are preparing a £13m package to land the midfielder.

    The Foxes reportedly see the Dutchman as a replacement for Youri Tielemans, who will leave the club at the end of the season.

    Any switch to the King Power Stadium will begin with a loan move in January.

    United paid £35m for Van de Beek in 2020 but he’s made just a handful of Premier League appearances since, and has supposedly been informed that he is now surplus to requirements.

  • Sam Dymond

    Lopetegui even money for Wolves job

    Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui is the new favourite with BetVictor to take on the vacant manager's job at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

    The former Spain coach is not expected to be in charge of the Andalusian club for much longer given their poor start to the season – and may depart following tomorrow night's Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund.

    It would make the 56-year-old an attractive proposition for the Wolves hierarchy considering no compensation fee would have to be paid. If only he were Portuguese.

    Latest odds:

    • Julen Lopetegui Evs
    • Pedro Martins 4/1
    • Bo Svensson 6/1
    • Ruben Amorim 8/1
    • Andre Villas-Boas 14/1
    • Sergio Conceicao 20/1
    • Joao Moutinho 20/1

    Ronaldo's shirt is Kevin sent

    He may be out of favour with the Old Trafford hierarchy, but Cristiano Ronaldo still has one admirer in Manchester.

    According to The Mail, Manchester City midfield genius Kevin De Bruyne sought out the 37-year-old after the game on Sunday to ask for the Portuguese legend's shirt.

    The Belgian ace was later seen leaving the Eithad Stadium with all three points, Scott McTominay in his back pocket and Ronaldo's unworn shirt under his arm.

    Casemiro to start against Toffees

    Erik ten Hag has made his first big selection decision in the wake of the 6-3 defeat in the Manchester derby, and will hand Casemiro his first Premier League start against Everton on Sunday.

    Jason Burt of The Telegraph has supposedly been given the nod by Old Trafford sources that the Brazilian will step into a midfield that was overrun on Sunday.

    Any doubts over the validity of the story will surely be eradicated if Casemiro is not selected for Thursday’s Europa League clash with Omonia Nicosia.

    The 30-year-old has made just the four substitute appearances in the Premier League since joining the Red Devils six weeks ago, a statistic that Rio Ferdinand claimed was ‘disrespectful’.

    Cooper odds-on for Forest axe

    Steve Cooper is now heavily odds-on with BetVictor to be the next Premier League manager to leave their job following last night's 4-0 capitulation at Leicester.

    The Nottingham Forest boss has been backed into 1/5 ahead of the second favourite, Southampton's Ralph Hasenhuttl, who is an 8/1 shot.

    As a result of Monday's game, Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers has eased in the betting.

    Next Premier League manager to leave:

    • Steve Cooper 1/5
    • Ralph Hasenhuttl 8/1
    • Brendan Rodgers 10/1
    • Steven Gerrard 12/1
    • Antonio Conte 25/1
    • Erik ten Hag 33/1
    • Jurgen Klopp 33/1
    • Sam Dymond

      Leeds join Arsenal in Mud fight

      Leeds United are the latest club to display an interest in Ukrainian wonderkid Mykhaylo Mudryk.

      The 21-year-old has been in sensational form this season, showcasing his talents in the Champions League group stage.

      Mudryk has weighed in with two goals and two assists for Shakhtar Donetsk in Group F, and has seen his value double to around £50m.

      Arsenal are understood to have had a £25m offer rejected in the summer, but remain interested in the left winger.

      And now, according to transfers insider Dean Jones, Leeds have joined the race.

      It would be an ambitious capture for the Elland Road club, who are already showing they mean business with the pursuit of Cody Gakpo.

    • Sam Dymond

      World Cup? Madd for it

      Leicester's James Maddison says he will continue to work hard in the hope that he can perform well and force his way into Gareth Southgate's World Cup squad.

      The midfielder was superb in the Foxes' 4-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Monday night, scoring twice and setting up a goal for Patson Daka.

      The result lifted Brendan Rodgers' team off the foot of the Premier League at the expense of their opponents.

      "It has been a bit weird, to be honest, because we have been bottom of the league and results haven't gone our way, but I have almost been as confident as I have ever been in my career," Maddison told Sky Sports afterwards.

      "I do not remember, over the last 12 months, playing better than I have and feeling better than I have.

      "It is hard to answer because you want to say the right thing and not the wrong thing, but [playing at the World Cup is' an ambition of mine, a goal of mine.

      "I am a football man, I watch international football and an opportunity at that level is something I desire and one I know I would have an impact at, and one I hope will come my way at some point.

      "I am not naïve, I know there are top players in those forward areas, but I have a self-belief and a confidence that I can be in that category."

      "I will keep working hard, I have got to have the mindset of forcing my way in because those players at the big clubs are in at the minute and they are top players, but I think there could be a space for me. So I will keep working hard and producing performances like that tonight and see where it leads me."

    • Sam Dymond

      Super Saliba was Barca target

      Arsenal starlet William Saliba was a serious target for Barcelona in the summer, according to Fabrizio Romano.

      The transfers expert has revealed that an official bid for the Frenchman was being lined up had they been beaten to Jules Kounde by Chelsea.

      And it wasn’t just Barca that were keen to sign the centre-back.

      Marseille, where the 21-year-old had been on loan, and AC Milan had also expressed their desire to bring him in permanently.

      Saliba has started every Premier League game this season for the Gunners, having made his debut in August, three years after joining the club.

    • Sam Dymond

      Spurs to swoop for Ter Stegen

      Tottenham are considering an ambitious swoop for Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

      The North London club have begun to line up long-term replacements for captain Hugo Lloris.

      Lloris, now 35, has been at Spurs for ten years, and has just 20 months remaining on his current deal.

      And reports in France suggest the Lilywhites are ready to move for Barca star Ter Stegen.

      Barca are unlikely to allow their number one stopper leave without a fight, but continuing concerns over the club's finances may mean that a big offer could tempt them into doing business.

    • Sam Dymond

      Ed-ache! Chelsea monitoring Mendy situation

      Chelsea's management are understood to be assessing the goalkeeping situation at the club.

      The Telegraph report that there are concerns over Edouard Mendy's position as the Blues' number one stopper.

      The 30-year-old is yet to sign a new contract at Stamford Bridge, and has been troubled by poor form and injuries in the past year.

      There has even been the suggestion that new boss Graeme Potter may prefer the previously maligned Kepa Arrizabalaga.

      It's an unthinkable fall from grace for Mendy, who was regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League early on in his Chelsea career.

    • Sam Dymond

      Saka close to bumper deal

      Is Bukayo Saka edging closer to committing his long-term future to Arsenal? The Mail certainly thinks so.

      They report that a £200,000-per-week contract is on the table for the England forward, ready to be signed.

      And while there are a few minor negotiations to finalise, insiders at the club expect the 21-year-old to put pen to paper.

      Manchester City and Liverpool have previously been linked with poaching the Gunners star, whose current deal runs out in 2024.

      However, the London outfit are confident of securing Saka, and have taken the player’s ‘personal investment in taking an executive box at the Emirates’ as a sign of his loyalty.

    • Sam Dymond

      Ronaldo can leave in January

      Cristiano Ronaldo will be allowed to leave Manchester United in January – if the club receive a suitable offer.

      The huge headline news broken by The Telegraph last night states that Erik ten Hag will ‘not stand in the way’ of the Portuguese legend.

      The United boss had previously expressed his desire to keep and utilise the 37-year-old despite the forward’s intent to move in the summer.

      Ronaldo was desperate to find another club in order to continue playing in the Champions League.

      Yet there was little interest shown in the superstar, and he has subsequently had to make do with being a bit part of United’s team this season.

      His only Premier League start this term was in the embarrassing 4-0 defeat at Brentford, while his only goal was against Sheriff Tiraspol in the Europa League.

    • Sam Dymond

      Forest ready to chop Cooper

      Bottom-of-the-table Nottingham Forest are contemplating axing boss Steve Cooper just eight games into the season.

      The East Midlands outfit hit the foot of the Premier League last night after losing 4-0 at Leicester, their fifth straight defeat.

      Cooper led Forest back to the top-flight for the first time in 23 years despite taking over a year ago with the club bottom of the Championship.

      However, the former England U17 coach has struggled to integrate a mass of expensive new signings at the City Ground.

      The Telegraph report that former Liverpool, Newcastle and Everton boss Rafa Benitez is being lined up as Cooper's replacement.

    • Kiro Evans

      Caul Me Maybe

      Only one man in the top 5 divisions of English football can lay a glove on Erling Haaland's scoring record – and you have to go down to the National League to find him.

      Macaulay Langstaff has scored an incredible 15 goals in the fifth tier for Notts County in only 11 games.

      They are currently 2nd, two points behind Wrexham.

      His 15 goals so far puts him one ahead of Haaland, but Langstaff has played three games more.

      League 2's Sam Hoskins is also having an impressive goalscoring season, netting 11 for Northampton Town.

      The top goal scorer in League 1 is Peterborough's Jonson Clarke-Harris who so far has eight goals, with two in his last three.

      And the Championship sees Oscar Estupinan lead the way with seven goals, but the Columbian has not scored in any of Hull's last five games.

    • Kiro Evans

      Forest Thumped

      Leicester City are off the foot of the table as they hammered Nottingham Forest 4-0.

      A first-half blitz courtesy of a James Maddison brace and a long-range effort by Harvey Barnes helped the Foxes to their first win of the season.

      In the second half, substitute Patson Daka scored an impish back heel to add gloss to the scoreline.

      Pressure is mounting on Steve Cooper as, following Forest's summer spending spree, they find themselves bottom of the league and reeling after five consecutive defeats.

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