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    Lionel Messi to decide future after World Cup with PSG contract expiring next summer… but has no current transfer offers

    LIONEL MESSI will decide his future after the World Cup – but has so far had no offers from any club. The Argentine hero signed a two-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain in 2021.
    Lionel Messi’s current PSG contract expires in the summer and his future is unclearCredit: AP
    The Argentina icon hopes to lead his country to World Cup glory in QatarCredit: Getty
    But with that contract expiring next summer, it remains unclear where he will be playing his football in the 2023-24 season. 
    And SunSport can reveal the Argentine hero currently has no concrete options.
    Despite suggestions PSG want to offer him a one-year extension, the French giants are yet to table that deal. 
    Messi, 35, has not been sent any contracts from elsewhere, either, which as it stands would make him a free agent again in nine months.
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    However, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is focused on the World Cup as he looks to lead Argentina to glory.
    Lionel Scaloni’s side face Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland in November’s group stages and they will be desperate to go one better than their runner-up finish in 2014 by lifting the iconic trophy in Doha on December 18. 
    After the tournament finishes, Messi will then sit down to make a call on his club career.  
    Despite rumours of a transfer return, former club Barcelona have made zero contact with the player directly since his emotional exit in August 2021. 
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    Messi left his boyhood club when his contract expired last year and the club could not afford to give him a new deal. 
    The player was willing to take a huge pay cut to stay but employment law in Spain combined with LaLiga financial regulations prevented any extension from being possible.
    Messi joined PSG on a free transfer, forming a deadly strike force with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe but endured a tough first season at the Parc des Princes – despite winning the title.
    He scored just six league goals in his lowest tally since becoming a Barcelona regular in 2005-06. 
    But the ex-Barca captain has already managed four in eight appearances this term as Christophe Galtier’s men sit two points clear at the top of the table.
    After scoring a sublime chip on international duty last weekend, Messi revealed he was finally enjoying his football again after his struggles.
    He said: “I feel good, I feel different from last year. I knew it was going to be like this.
    “I’m more comfortable with the club, the dressing room, my team-mates, the game.
    “I feel very good again, so I’m starting to enjoy it again.”
    Messi left Barcelona in emotional scenes when his contract could not be renewedCredit: Getty
    He joined PSG as a free agent on a two-year deal until 2023Credit: Getty
    After struggling for goals last season, he has started the new campaign in red-hot formCredit: AFP More

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    Lionel Messi says he ‘feels very good’ as he enjoys football again following tough first season at PSG

    LIONEL MESSI insists he is feeling “very good” as he continues to return to top form for both club and country.The legendary 35-year-old shocked the world in the summer of 2021 when he left Barcelona following 21 years at the Nou Camp to join Paris Saint-Germain.
    Lionel Messi says he is now ‘feeling very good’ with life at PSGCredit: AFP
    Despite his incredible goal record for the LaLiga side, he struggled to replicate those numbers for PSG during his first campaign in France.
    Messi scored just six times in 26 appearances in Ligue 1, with 17 assists, in an underwhelming season.
    However, the veteran seems to now be hitting top gear at the right time with the Qatar World Cup just weeks away.
    He already has six goals and eight assists in just 11 games for PSG this term and is continuing to break records.
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    Messi’s goal against Lyon last week was his 672nd from open play, which puts him one ahead of Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo.
    Last night he scored two for Argentina, including a sublime chip, against Honduras to take his international tally to 88 in 163 caps.
    And afterwards he admitted that he feels a lot more at home in the French capital this year.
    According to Fabrizio Romano, Messi said: “I feel good, I feel different from last year. I knew it was going to be like this.
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    “I’m more comfortable with the club, the dressing room, my teammates, the game.
    “I feel very good again, so I’m starting to enjoy it again.”
    PSG are currently two points clear at the top of Ligue 1 and have won both their two Champions League group matches so far.
    Messi is likely to be back in action for Argentina in Wednesday’s friendly with Jamaica before the nation’s focus switches to the World Cup in November.
    The South American and his side will face Saudi arabia, Mexico and Poland in Group C in Qatar. More

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    Neymar hints at tension as he sighs and refuses to answer question on relationship with fellow PSG star Kylian Mbappe

    NEYMAR has fuelled speculation of a rift with Kylian Mbappe after refusing to speak about his relationship with his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate.The pair are rumoured to have a frosty relationship at Parc des Princes, despite scoring 21 goals between them this season for Les Parisiens.
    Neymar refused to discuss his relationship with Paris Saint-Germain Kylian Mbappe
    Mbappe recently stated how he enjoys playing more with France than at PSGCredit: Rex
    It was claimed in July how Mbappe was keen for the former Barcelona star to be sold this summer due to his “indiscipline”.
    And it was then reported how PSG had put Neymar up for sale after Mbappe committed his long-term future to the club.
    Both men were hauled in for showdown talks by PSG last month following their penalty drama where they were involved in a spat over who should take the spot-kick against Montpellier.
    Following the match, Neymar liked many tweets slamming PSG’s decision to have the ex-Monaco ace taking penalties ahead of him.
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    There was more on-field drama earlier this month when Neymar fumed at Mbappe after the Frenchman failed to square the ball for him which would have completed his hat-trick.
    Mbappe opened up on his friendship with Neymar at the start of September after admitting he has “cold moments” with the ex-Santos star.
    Neymar was asked about his relationship with the 2018 World Cup winner after he helped Brazil beat Ghana 3-0 on Friday night.
    When pressed on Mbappe, Neymar said: “I don’t understand.”
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    He then added: “With Kylian?”
    A brief sigh followed, where he then remarked: “I don’t.”
    Neymar then chose to walk away from the interview as he refused to speak more about his team-mate.
    His comments come just a day after Mbappe revealed he enjoys more freedom while on international duty for Les Blues than he does alongside Neymar and Lionel Messi.
    He said: “I play differently. I am asked other things here in relation to my club. I have a lot more freedom here.
    “The coach knows that there is a number nine like Olivier [Giroud] who occupies the defences and I can walk around and go into space.
    “In Paris, it’s different, there isn’t that. I am asked to do the pivot, it is different.” More

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    ‘No one ever contacted him’ – Nice deny targeting Mauricio Pochettino as Ligue 1 giants look to Scott Parker

    FRENCH side Nice have denied targeting former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino as their new manager.And reports claim they instead want to hire ex-Bournemouth gaffer Scott Parker.
    Nice have denied approaching Mauricio Pochettino to become their new bossCredit: Rex
    Scott Parker is now being tipped to replace Lucien FavreCredit: PA
    Poch, 46, was sacked by Paris Saint-Germain this summer despite winning the Ligue 1 title.
    And it’s claimed ambitious Nice were looking to snap him up as a replacement for struggling gaffer Lucien Favre.
    Billionaire owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe splashed out on numerous big signings this summer, including Ross Barkley, Nicolas Pepe and Aaron Ramsey.
    But Nice have won just two of their opening eight games this season, leading to doubts over Favre’s future.
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    However, Poch is thought to not be interested as he holds out for a return to England.
    And Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere now insists he never made contact with Pochettino.
    Despite now being linked with a move for Parker, he is also adamant Favre will remain at the helm.
    Rivere said: “We aren’t going to change manager after just eight games. This isn’t the solution either on a sporting or human level.
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    “We had a long meeting with him yesterday and Lucien left very happy, he was happy that we support him.
    “The rumours were unfounded. No one at the club contact, nor called Pochettino or his representatives.
    “It is a rumour lacking in respect and weakens our current coach’s position.
    “We are going to work together with Lucien in order to make up for the poor start to the season. He hasn’t been given any ultimatum.” More

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    Kylian Mbappe reveals he has less ‘freedom’ in PSG team because of Neymar and Messi as he shines for France

    KYLIAN MBAPPE admitted he enjoys more freedom playing for France than he does alongside Neymar and Lionel Messi at Paris Saint-Germain.The striker, 22, scored in France’s 2-0 win over Austria on Thursday evening.
    Kylian Mbappe enjoyed more freedom playing for France and scored against AustriaCredit: Getty
    Mbappe has had a fractured relationship with Neymar this seasonCredit: Reuters
    And after the match Mbappe was told by an interviewer that he looked more free playing for the national team.
    Mbappe agreed, replying: “I play differently. I am asked other things here in relation to my club. I have a lot more freedom here.
    “The coach knows that there is a number nine like Olivier who occupies the defences and I can walk around and go into space.
    “In Paris, it’s different, there isn’t that. I am asked to do the pivot, it is different.”
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    Mbappe impressed in his free role for his country and worked well with Olivier Giroud, who got on the scoresheet playing in a central role up-front.
    But Mbappe does not have a similar forward to play off at PSG and that has caused a few problems.
    Reports last month claimed the World Cup winner was feeling isolated following a bust-up with Neymar.
    Things came to a head when they clashed during a 5-2 win over Montpellier, with Mbappe demanding Neymar hand over penalty duties to him.
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    When Neymar refused he proceeded to throw a strop mid-game as the club agreed Mbappe would be the number one penalty taker when he signed a new contract in the summer.
    There have been other signs of a strain in Mbappe’s relationship with Neymar, with the Frenchman failing to tee up his team-mate for an open goal as he wanted to score a hat-trick in a game earlier this month.
    Mbappe admitted he has “cold moments” with Neymar – but he has not linked well with Messi this season either.
    In fact, Mbappe has failed to produce an assist for either of his team-mates while they have set up the forward for eight goals already this campaign. More

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    Kasper Schmeichel ‘arrived at Nice overweight and is annoying dressing-room by breaking club rules’

    KASPER SCHMEICHEL has not made a good impression in his first few weeks at Nice, according to reports.The goalkeeper, 35, joined the French side in the summer following 12 years at Leicester.
    Kasper Schmeichel reportedly turned up to Nice with a very high body fat percentageCredit: AP
    He built a reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League but he is not finding life in Ligue 1 as easy.
    Schmeichel was left out of Nice’s first game of the season and has now been dropped again after starting six matches in a row.
    But according to RMC Sport the Dane’s downfall has partly been his own doing as he arrived on the French riviera with a “very high” body fat percentage.
    He has also reportedly wound up his team-mates by breaking club rules including turning up to meetings late and not sticking to mandated rest days.
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    Schmeichel is also reported to have undermined manager Lucien Favre by going over his head to speak to owner Jim Ratcliffe about playing in the first game of the season.
    Favre instead opted for on-loan shot-stopper Marcin Bulka and it appears the Swiss is not happy the club signed several Prem cast-offs this summer.
    Along with Schmeichel former Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey joined on a free, as did ex-Chelsea star Ross Barkley.
    Nice also signed Gunners star Nicolas Pepe on loan while Joe Bryan and Mads Bech Pedersen arrived on loan from Fulham and Brentford respectively.
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    But the French side have struggled with just two wins in eight games, leaving them 13th in Ligue Un.
    Favre is under pressure because of that and former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is being tipped to take over. More

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    Scott Parker lined up to become Nice manager with Mauricio Pochettino to snub move and hold out on Premier League return

    SCOTT PARKER could be set for an instant return to management following his Bournemouth sacking with French club Nice a reported option.The 41-year-old was axed by the Cherries last month after losing three out of the opening four Premier League matches.
    Scott Parker is reportedly on Nice’s radar as a possible replacement for Lucien FavreCredit: Getty
    Mauricio Pochettino held talks with Nice, but it has been claimed that he won’t be joining themCredit: AFP
    An embarrassing 9-0 defeat away at Liverpool proved to be his final game in charge.
    But according to Foot Mercato, the ex-Fulham gaffer’s horror start to the season at the Vitality Stadium hasn’t put them off.
    They have stated that he is a candidate to replace Lucien Favre in the French Riviera, with the 64-year-old under increasing pressure since succeeding Christophe Galtier in the summer.
    Nice sit in 13th spot in Ligue 1 after the opening eight matches having won just two games, while losing on four occasions.
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    That is despite Nice boasting the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Ross Barkley, Nicolas Pepe, Morgan Schneiderlin and Kasper Schmeichel.
    It was previously claimed how Mauricio Pochettino was to hold talks with Nice after he was relieved of his duties by Paris Saint-Germain in July.
    But Foot Mercato have insisted the ex-Tottenham gaffer is unlikely to accept the job, despite Nice being prepared to meet his salary demands.
    It is understood that Poch is holding out for a return to the Premier League where he is looking to join a side capable of challenging for trophies.
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    As a result, the French news outlet has declared that Parker is being eyed up, with his name being suggested by Nice’s external advisor Iain Moody.
    Though it hasn’t been said whether Nice and Parker have held talks over the position as of yet.
    It is believed that Parker is currently just on Nice’s managerial shortlist as they decide whether to remove Favre in the near future.
    With league leaders PSG next up for Nice after the international break, a decision could be made sooner rather than later. More

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    Folarin Balogun learning the true meaning of Mikel Arteta’s message to ‘become a man’ while on loan at Reims

    FLO BALOGUN is learning the true meaning of Mikel Arteta’s cryptic advice before he left on loan for Stade de Reims this summer.Arsenal boss Arteta simply told Balogun he wanted the whizkid to “develop as a man” during his temporary spell in France – and left it to the young striker to work out how to do it.
    Flo Balogun has five goals in just six league starts for Stade de ReimsCredit: Alamy
    The 21-year-old appears to be on the right track with some mature displays already for the Ligue Un club, blasting five goals in just six league starts.
    Balogun, who is with the England Under-21 this week, revealed: “Before I moved, Mikel just wanted me to develop as a man. 
    “It was kind of like an open answer and it was for me to interpret what he meant.
    “He is a very direct person if he wants to get a message to you in the moment, but I also think he thinks long term. I feel like that is his plan.
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    “By moving abroad, I’m starting to learn what he meant.
    “It doesn’t just mean on the pitch but also off the pitch. I think by the time I go back I’ll be in a better place to compete than I was before I left.”
    Much of Balogun’s maturity mission has centred around getting to grips with the lingo, with only “three people” at Reims speaking English.
    It has led to some baffling exchanges within the dressing room – but ones that the ex-Middlesbrough loanee feels will hold him in good stead further down the line.
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    Balogun explained: “Pretty much every training session there’s something where I’m confused about!
    “There’s a few times I’m asking for simple things like, ‘Can you pass me that water’, and he’s looking at me thinking, ‘What are you saying?’ 
    “The lessons are once a week at the minute, for an hour. I tried to do a bit longer but it started to give me a headache.
    “It helps me mature a lot because literally you’re just fending for yourself. You have to try to communicate in different ways if you can’t speak the language.
    “I think it’s very important to just throw yourself in at the deep end, as I’m trying to do, and hopefully I don’t drown!”
    Balogun was encouraged by Gunners team-mate Nicolas Pepe to move to France and studied Ligue Un before committing to it – even if adapting to life there outside of football has come as a bit of a culture shock.
    He added: “I had other options in England and that was the only option in France. 
    “I felt that from watching and studying the French league, I felt it was a league I could make a good impact in.
    “Before I knew it, I was in France playing. Then I realised there were certain things I would struggle with but I think that’s a good thing.
    “I spoke to Reiss (Nelson) and I spoke to Nicolas Pepe at Arsenal. He encouraged me to move abroad. He told me Ligue Un would be a good league for me. He’s someone who’s trained with for a while at Arsenal now.
    “Also I studied it myself and with my agents and my family. Collectively we decided it would be a good league for me.
    “When I played against Lyon, I spoke to (Alexandre Lacazette) after the game and he was almost saying, ‘I told you this league is good for you’. He was just encouraging me to keep going.”
    Balogun has been praised by Arsenal legend Thierry Henry for going out of his comfort zone and heading abroad.
    The striker added: “I saw a bit of what he said and spoke to Thierry briefly when I was at Arsenal.
    “He just encouraged me that I am at an age when I need to play. He didn’t say where I should play, but it is nice to get praise from someone who has done so much in the game and who I look up to.”
    Arsenal went into the international break fresh off a 3-0 win at Brentford.
    It showed how far they have come since they were humbled 2-0 by the Bees on the opening day of last season.
    Due to Covid and injury problems, Arteta was forced to start a very raw Balogun in that game.
    Yet the forward looks back on the difficult experience as a formative one.
    He said: “When I look back on that game I feel like there is a lot of emotions even now.
    “It was a very difficult time for me because I signed my deal and I was on like an up.
    “To play that game on the first game of the season it was just more of a shock to me.
    “It was more like a reality check – as to this is how difficult the league can be playing a newly-promoted side and we lost playing the way we did.
    “Definitely it was something I needed and I am more respectful for when stuff doesn’t go my way.
    “There is not much use looking at the negatives of the situation because they don’t really help you. I just try to look for the positives and focus on them.”
    Meanwhile, midfielder Tyler Morton, currently on loan at Blackburn from Liverpool, has been called into the Under-21 squad.
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    While Nottingham Forest’s £42.5million star Morgan Gibbs-White and Brentford forward Keane Lewis-Potter have pulled out of the squad for the upcoming friendlies against Italy and Germany.
    Ivory Coast legend Yaya Toure has been with the England Under-21s this week on a watching brief as he looks to gain coaching experience, having been appointed Tottenham Under-16 coach last month. More