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    Barcelona ordered to make huge salary cuts with wages capped at £300m while Real Madrid can INCREASE theirs to £409m

    BARCELONA and Atletico Madrid have been ordered to make massive salary cuts as the cost of Covid continues to hit LaLiga.
    But Real Madrid are able to increase their budget and now have a significant advantage over their two main rivals.

    Barcelona will have to make significant salary cuts because of CovidCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Under the new regulations Barca’s outgoings on wages, previously capped at £331m, will now be further limited to £300m.
    Atletico, currently five clear at the top of La Liga with a game in hand over both of their main rivals, face a budget cut from £218m to £188m.
    But Real have seen their cap rise from £405m to £409m, giving them 36 per cent more to spend than Barcelona.
    The calculations come after clubs had budgeted for the return of fans in the second half of the season, which has not happened.

    Real are spending this season playing their home games at their training ground while the Bernabeu is undergoing reconstruction and renovations.
    La Liga chief Javier Tebas revealed that £96m had been taken off the overall club budgets as a result of the pandemic, with only Real and Huesca seeing their caps raised.
    Tebas said: “Covid-19 put Spanish football to a test. 
    “We have seen that there is an end and we can get to the conclusion of this. 

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    Real Madrid can increase their budget despite the cost of the pandemicCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    “So far we have had to deal with income down by £1.73bn but the clubs, especially the big ones, have been able to endure the crisis knowing how to reduce expenses. 
    “Spanish football is solvent.”
    Tebas, who had yet another blast at Manchester City – suggesting the Court of Arbitration for Sport needed to be investigated after lifting the club’s Euro ban – also suggested the caps, to come into immediate effect, could be raised for next term.
    He added: “We can face next season with some optimism. 
    “In other countries, like France, there are problems with the payment of salaries while some clubs in the Premier League have asked for aid from the government.

    “We have not had to do that and there will be no problems in the clubs. 
    “Next season, with fans back, the income will come and so the salary cap for next season, possibly, will be higher.”
    Tebas, reopening old wounds, again accused both City and PSG of “evading” Uefa’s Financial Fair Play rules, despite the Prem club winning its long legal battle.
    He said: “City received a significant ban and CAS lifted it.
    “Uefa made an effort, it went to CAS and then nothing happened. So CAS needs to be reviewed and investigated to see what they’re actually doing.”
    ⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds

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    Man Utd ‘had £130m bid rejected’ for Ansu Fati in the summer as they tried to land Barcelona wonderkid

    MANCHESTER UNITED had a £130million bid rejected for Barcelona youngster Ansu Fati, according to reports.
    The Premier League side are rumoured to have tabled the huge bid last summer.

    Fati, 18, is one of the hottest talents in European footballCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    According to Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo, United’s offer for the 18-year-old was rejected.
    Fati has been a revelation since making his LaLiga debut as a 16-year-old in August 2019.
    He has scored 11 goals in 31 league games, winning the LaLiga Player of the Month award in September 2020.
    The promising talent has also made his Spain debut, picking up four caps to date.

    He scored his first international goal against Ukraine last September, becoming Spain’s youngest ever scorer – a record that had stood for 95 years.
    But he has not played since injuring his knee last November.
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    The news of Barcelona’s alleged rejection is surprising as they are said to be desperate for cash.

    The Spanish giants are believed to owe more than £170m in transfer fees having made a string of poor signings in recent years.
    But Fati did sign a new contract until 2024 last year, which includes a whopping £367million buy-out clause.

    The 18-year-old is not the only player United are linked with.
    Reports suggest they are preparing to offer Bayern Munich star Kingsley Coman £260k-a-week.
    The Red Devils are also said to be keen on Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland, although his £65m release clause cannot be activated until 2022.
    And they’ve been linked with Sevilla defender Jules Kounde, rated at £61m.
    ⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds

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    Lyon hope Memphis Depay will stay next season despite Man Utd flop already reaching agreement to join Barcelona

    LYON are confident Memphis Depay will stay next season despite the Manchester United flop reportedly having agreed terms with Barcelona.
    The Ligue 1 side’s president Jean-Michel Aulas believes the 27-year-old can be convinced to remain at the club despite the lure of the Catalan giants.

    Lyon are desperate to hang onto Dutch star Memphis DepayCredit: AP:Associated Press

    Depay will become a free agent at the end of the season and looks set to finally be reunited with his former national coach Ronald Koeman at the Nou Camp.
    The Dutch star was on the verge of a £22million dream move on deadline day last summer – only for the transfer to collapse with cash-strapped Barca unable to raise the necessary funds.
    And the Spanish side – who have debts approaching £1billion – again failed to poach him in January with the club unable to offload Ousmane Dembele or Martin Braithwaite to facilitate the transfer.
    Lyon chief Aulas told Le Progres: “Until the end we believe that he will renew for next season.

    “Right now it is not something that is possible but why not?”
    “He is a great talent, world class.
    “There are not many like him in the team. He brings solutions. I always wanted him to remain but our offers did not convince him.
    “We helped him go to FC Barcelona but financially it was not possible.”

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    The Lyon skipper is a central figure in Rudi Garcia’s side who are chasing a first league title since 2008.
    Depay has bagged 13 goals and six assists in 25 Ligue 1 games to help his team sit third, three points behind surprise leaders Lille.
    It is a far cry from his underwhelming return of seven goals and six assists in 18 months at Old Trafford following a £25m switch from PSV Eindhoven in 2015.
    Since swapping Manchester for the South of France in 2017, Depay has recorded an impressive 68 goals and 49 assists in 164 games in all competitions.
    ⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds

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    Barcelona fans scream ‘let go of Messi’ and ‘son of a bitch, thief!’ at PSG chief over transfer saga before clash

    BARCELONA fans vented their anger towards Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi over his alleged pursuit of Lionel Messi.
    The two European giants clash in the Champions League tonight and there is clearly no love lost.

    Nasser Al-Khelaifi was met with a torrent of abuse from Barcelona fansCredit: El Golazo de Gol

    Al-Khelaifi was met with a barrage of insults from angry Barca fans as he arrived in Spain, furious at the thought their idol Messi could join the French champs.
    The billionaire businessman was called a ‘son of a bitch thief’ while others told him to ‘let go of Messi’.
    The football world was stunned last summer when Messi handed in a transfer request at Barcelona.
    He said he had become disillusioned with life on and off the pitch and was fuming at how his best pal Luis Suarez had been treated.

    The Uruguayan was shown the door by new boss Ronald Koeman and joined rivals Atletico Madrid for just £5.5million.
    And the striker has been in scintillating form for his new side with his 16 goals in 18 league games breaking a record previously held by Cristiano Ronaldo.
    Manchester City were, and remain, favourites to sign Messi when his contract expires in the summer.
    But PSG are waiting in the wings after being heavily linked with the 33-year-old Argentine previously.

    Lionel Messi is out of contract at the end of the season and PSG are interestedCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Nasser Al-Khelaifi is in Barcelona ahead of PSG’s Champions League clashCredit: Icon Sport – Getty

    Barcelona presidential hopeul Joan Laporta has blasted PSG as ‘disrespectful’ over their pursuit of Messi.
    The French club’s sporting director Leonardo recently admitted Messi ‘will always be on PSG’s list’ before hinting that they will make their move in the summer.
    Laporta hit back, telling reporters: “It is disrespectful to Barcelona that clubs like PSG publicly say they are going to sign Messi.
    “This coming from a club-state that have bypassed the rules. We cannot allow clubs and states the luxury of destabilising another club.
    “In that sense, we will have to speak with Uefa and Fifa to avoid such actions.
    “PSG must abstain from [talking about Messi]. It is out of place for another club to speak about him.
    “And, at the moment, there is no president in place to respond to this lack of respect.”

    But PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino has hit back saying ‘at no time have we shown disrespect’.
    PSG winger and Argentina team-mate Angle Di Maria has claimed there is a ‘big chance’ Messi will join him at the Parc des Princes.
    And the French giant’s president Al-Khelaifi was of course instrumental in persuading Neymar to leave Barca for PSG for £196m in 2017.
    But the 29-year-old Brazilian will miss the chance to face his old club due to a calf injury.
    ⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds

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    Samuel Umtiti ‘rejected Liverpool move’ in January forcing Jurgen Klopp to chase other targets to solve defensive crisis

    SAMUEL UMTITI rejected a move to Liverpool in January forcing Jurgen Klopp to chase other targets, reports say.
    The Premier League champions were desperate for defensive reinforcements in the winter window.

    Samuel Umtiti reportedly rejected a move to Liverpool in JanuaryCredit: The Mega Agency

    According to The Athletic, Liverpool made an approach for Umtiti, but the Frenchman preferred to stay at Barcelona.
    Umtiti made just 18 appearances last season due to injury problems.
    This campaign he has already been ruled out for 15 matches with a knee problem, playing just seven times.
    But it is understood the centre-back wants to remain at the Nou Camp and fight for his place as he turned down Liverpool.

    Klopp was in the market for additions at the back with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez still out injured.
    Joel Matip briefly returned, but picked up an ankle knock which forced him out of Liverpool’s 3-1 win at West Ham.
    Midfielders Jordan Henderson and Fabinho have both been forced to cover at centre-back.
    Liverpool turned to Ben Davis in a shock £2million deal with Preston, before then making a move for Ozan Kabak from Schalke.

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    They signed Kabak on loan with the option to make the deal permanent for £26.5million in the summer.
    The Bundesliga strugglers acted quickly to secure a replacement from the Premier League.
    Arsenal outcast Shkodran Mustafi has joined his former team-mate Emirates Sead Kolasinac in Germany.

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    Koeman confirms Barcelona will sign Eric Garcia for free in summer if they can’t meet Man City’s £2.65m transfer fee now

    RONALD KOEMAN has confirmed Barcelona will sign Eric Garcia for free in the summer – if they do not before the end of the window.
    The Manchester City defender’s contract is up at the end of the season and he could leave for as little as £2.65m.

    Garcia, 20, is keen on a return to BarcelonaCredit: AP:Associated Press

    Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of their Copa del Rey tie against Athletic Bilbao, Barcelona boss Koeman said: “We already know he [Garcia] will probably arrive in the summer.
    “If it’s not possible this January, then we’ll accept it and move on.”
    The 20-year-old came through at Barcelona’s academy before joining City in 2017.
    He made his debut in December 2018 and has since made 31 appearances under Guardiola, 16 of which have been in the Premier League.

    Despite getting plenty of minutes at City, Garcia has so far rejected a contract extension and it seems unlikely he will change his mind.
    Arsenal are also interested in the Spain international, although his preferred choice is a return to his boyhood club.
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    Barcelona owe several clubs money
    Barcelona presidential candidate Victor Font was quoted saying Garcia will play for free until the summer, such is his desire to return to the Nou Camp.

    Koeman is in need of defensive reinforcements, as his team have conceded 17 goals from their 19 league games this season.
    Their poor defence has left them 10 points behind league leaders Atletico Madrid, who have conceded just eight.

    Getting Garcia on the cheap will please Barcelona’s hierarchy, as they are reportedly on the verge of bankruptcy after racking up £1billion of debt.
    The youngster may not be the only player to move between the Etihad and Nou Camp this year, with City keen on signing Lionel Messi.
    The Argentine superstar is out of contract in the summer and looks unlikely to stay at Barcelona considering their financial woes.

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    Chelsea outcast Marcos Alonso left in transfer limbo as Real Madrid and Barcelona reject chance to sign defender

    MARCOS ALONSO faces spending the rest of the season on the Chelsea bench while a move fails to materialise.
    According to reports in Spain, neither Barcelona nor Real Madrid are ready to sign the left-back.

    Marcos Alonso will reportedly not be moving to Spain this monthCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Alonso has affinity with both clubs, having come through the Madrid academy to play for the team and follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, Marcos Alonso Imaz.
    And his father, Marcos Alonso Pena, starred for Barcelona during his illustrious career.
    But, as reported by Mundo Deportivo, neither club is prepared to rescue the Spaniard from his Chelsea nightmare.
    Real Madrid are not currently in the market for a left-back with Ferland Mendy and Marcelo well embedded, at least until the end of the season.

    Barcelona would be interested in Alonso but it is said they would first need to loan out left-back Junior Firpo.
    Although Serie A clubs and West Ham are reportedly monitoring Firpo, there is a lack of movement in completing a deal.
    Therefore Alonso, 30, will have to try and impress new Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel in a bid to save his season.
    The German opted for £50million summer signing Ben Chilwell at left-back for his first game in charge, versus Wolves in midweek.

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    Both Alonso and Emerson Palmieri were left on the bench and neither man was called up to replace Chilwell, when he was subbed off on 76 minutes.
    But it was the former Bolton defender’s first appearance on the bench since a disastrous performance in the 3-3 draw at West Brom in September.
    Frank Lampard had exiled Alonso but Tuchel may be more open minded, particularly if the player cannot find a new club.
    ⚽ Read our Chelsea live blog for the very latest news from the Bridge

    Alonso must impress new boss Thomas Tuchel to revive his Chelsea careerCredit: Getty Images – Getty More

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    PSG slammed over Lionel Messi transfer pursuit as Barcelona presidential candidate threatens to go to Fifa

    PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN’s pursuit of Lionel Messi has been blasted as ‘disrespectful’ by Barcelona presidential hopeful Joan Laporta.
    The Ligue 1 club have been linked with a move for the Argentine when his contract expires in June.

    Lionel Messi is yet to sign a new contract at the Nou CampCredit: EPA

    Joan Laporta has slammed Paris Saint-Germain’s chase of Barcelona’s talismanCredit: EPA

    Manchester City and Inter Miami are also interested following Messi’s attempt to terminate his Barcelona deal last summer.
    But PSG sporting director Leonardo’s recent public comments on chasing the 33-year-old angered Laporta, who is competing to become Barcelona president in March’s elections.
    The Catalan threatened to take the matter to Fifa and criticised Les Parisiens’ links to the Qatari government.
    He told reporters: “[Barcelona] must be capable of making a good proposal that Messi is willing to accept, that depends on the club.

    “I would understand any answer [from Messi], but he needs to know what the proposal is. That requires urgency.
    “It is getting more difficult all the time to make a convincing proposal.
    “He’s free to negotiate with other clubs now and Barcelona are still without a president.
    “It is disrespectful to Barcelona that clubs like PSG publicly say they are going to sign Messi.

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    “This coming from a club-state that have bypassed the rules. We cannot allow clubs and states the luxury of destabilising another club.
    “In that sense, we will have to speak with Uefa and Fifa to avoid such actions.
    “PSG must abstain from [talking about Messi]. It is out of place for another club to speak about him.
    “And, at the moment, there is no president in place to respond to this lack of respect.”
    Messi’s representatives, in a statement to Sport, were this week forced to deny claims that the striker was learning French in anticipation of moving to Paris.
    Canal+ had reported on the supposed language lessons as a sign that he was ready to snub the Blaugrana and Manchester City.

    We are seated at the large table of those clubs who are following the Messi matter closely.
    LeonardoPSG Sporting Director

    PSG are doing little to hide their desire for Messi, with Argentina team-mate Leandro Paredes talking up the chances of a bid.
    He told Corriere dello Sport: “It’s up to Leo to come to the club, because PSG are trying to convince him. I hope it happens.”
    Earlier this month, Leonardo had told France Football: “Great players like Messi will always be on PSG’s list.
    “But this is of course not the time to talk about it, or to dream about it.

    “But we are seated at the large table of those clubs who are following the matter closely.
    “In fact, no, we are not yet seated, but our chair is reserved just in case. Four months in football is an eternity, especially in this period.”
    The recent arrival of Argentine coach Mauricio Pochettino at PSG has only ramped up the expectancy the French outfit will push hard to recruit Messi in the summer.
    Messi was in action on Wednesday night, scoring on his return from a two-game ban to help his team beat Rayo Vallecano in the Copa del Rey.

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