Barcelona eye ambitious Lionel Messi reunion from Paris Saint-Germain in 2023 thanks to Xavi appointment - Paper Round
Barcelona believe that the appointment of Xavi could lure Lionel Messi back to the Catalan club when his contract expires at Paris Saint-Germain in 2023. Elsewhere, Paul Pogba may have played his last game for Manchester United after suffering an injury on international duty, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's time at Old Trafford is coming to an end and West Ham United plan to sign a Serie A striker.
Lionel Messi of Paris Saint Germain walks in the field during the Ligue 1 Uber Eats match between Paris Saint Germain and Lille OSC at Parc des Princes
Barcelona believe that the appointment of Xavi could lure his former teammate Lionel Messi back to the Catalan club when his contract expires at Paris Saint-Germain in 2023. The 34-year-old only left the Camp Nou in the summer after the Blaugrana were unable to extend his contract due to their dire financial situation. However, Marca report that there has already been phone calls regarding an ambitious attempt to bring Messi back. Xavi's return in a managerial capacity "could prove pivotal" and the club believe that the Argentine's return is "no longer unthinkable".
Paper Round's view: Obviously it was a tough situation for Barcelona in the summer. The club lost one of the greatest players of all time because their finances were a mess. Is it wise to get excited about a potential return in two season's time? Nope. Messi is going to be 36 years old in 2023. It would be ridiculous to start counting down the days until he can come back. Barcelona need to forget about their glorious past and embrace the fact that they are entering a rebuild. Hopefully they won't need to sign a 36-year-old free agent in two years' time.
The Sun report that Paul Pogba may have played his final match for Manchester United after the World Cup winner suffered a thigh injury while on international duty with France. Pogba will be sidelined for up to 10 weeks with the muscle injury and his precarious contract situation could mean that his second spell at Old Trafford has come to a premature end. The 28-year-old's current contract at United is set to expire next summer and discussions over a new deal have "been completely shelved". The Premier League club are willing to leave Pogba out of the team until the end of the season and let him leave for free.
Paper Round's view: What a mess. Manchester United made Pogba the most expensive footballer in the world when they re-signed the Frenchman from Juventus for £89 million in 2016. The transfer has been far from ideal and it looks like he will end up leaving Old Trafford for free for a second time. Pogba is clearly a talented footballer, but he has failed to leave his mark on the Premier League and has ended up being the symbol of a chaotic era for the Red Devils. Maybe he will go on to win titles at Real Madrid or Paris Saint-Germain.
Xavi takes Barcelona training for the first time as he starts work as head coach
Solskjaer 'hanging by a thread'
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's job at Manchester United is reportedly "hanging by a thread", according to the Sun. The players and staff at Old Trafford are resigned to the fact that the Norwegian has one foot out of the door. The report states that the question is no longer 'if', but 'when' will Solskjaer be sacked by United. The Glazer family and club officials had plenty of faith in the club legend to turn the slump in form around, but they are aware of the toxic atmosphere that is starting to return at Old Trafford.
Paper Round's view: There's no way that Solskjaer survives the summer, but United need to decide what their plan is if they sack him now. There aren't too many options in the managerial market now that Antonio Conte has gone to Tottenham Hotspur. Ideally, the club will find a short-term solution before targeting their long-term manager in the summer. Erik ten Hag, Brendan Rodgers and Mauricio Pochettino have all been linked with the job, but it doesn't seem like any will considering leaving their current roles during the season. Give it Giggsy 'til the end of season?
West Ham United are keen to add another striker to their squad and have put Diego Simeone's son Giovanni at the top of their wishlist. The Express report that the Hammers have failed twice previously in their attempts to sign 'El Cholito' from Cagliari, firstly in the January transfer window and once again in the summer on a loan with a £14 million option-to-buy clause. Simeone ended up joining Verona on a £1.3 million loan with a £10.2 million option for a permanent deal. This could complicate any potential bid from West Ham, but the Premier League club will attempt to hijack the in-form striker's transfer to Verona.
Paper Round's view: West Ham do need another striker in their squad. Michail Antonio has been a revelation since becoming a centre-forward, but there's not much depth beyond him at the club. This Simeone story sounds complicated though. You'd think Verona will definitely take up the £10.2 million option-to-buy clause in their contract with Cagliari, so if West Ham will have to pay over the odds to Verona if they want to sign Simeone. Realistically, the east London club will need a new striker in January if they keep their up Premier League top four challenge and continue to progress in the Europa League.