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A Dieu le Barça, Lionel Messi a décidé d’accepter le contrat le plus juteux de l’histoire

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Alors qu’il est d’ores et déjà acté que Lionel Messi quittera le PSG le 30 juin prochain, comment peut-on juger la dernière saison de l’Argentin sous les couleurs parisiennes ? En forme avant la Coupe du monde, qu’il a remportée avec l’Albiceleste, l’ancienne icône du FC Barcelone n’a plus semblé concerné lors de la période post-Mondial.

Son bilan comptable, de prime abord plus qu’emballant avec 16 réalisations et 15 offrandes en Ligue 1, n’est que l’arbre qui a souvent caché la forêt de son aventure compliquée au PSG.

En dehors des terrains, les supporters, qui n’ont pas hésité à le siffler à de nombreuses reprises, ont souvent manifesté leurs griefs envers lui, reprochant sa désinvolture envers les déboires du club cette saison et son manque d’impact dans les grands rendez-vous. D’autres situations ont également fait grincer des dents comme son absence hier lors des trophées UNFP, Messi préférant se rendre au concert de Coldplay à Barcelone. Le PSG a également été souvent agacé par l’attitude du joueur de 35 ans. Le divorce a finalement été totalement consommé en avril dernier quand le septuple Ballon d’Or s’est rendu en Arabie saoudite sans l’accord du club. Un comportement épinglé par le board du club qui avait décidé de le suspendre de toutes activités et de salaire pendant deux semaines, avant que la sanction ne soit réduite de moitié suite aux excuses formulées par Messi.

Un point de non-retour qui a pourtant permis à Lionel Messi de se pencher sur son avenir. Et comme lors de ses visites impromptues ces dernières semaines, la décision de Lionel Messi s’est cantonnée à une lutte à deux entre Barcelone et l’Arabie saoudite. D’après nos informations, la tendance se dirige désormais pleinement vers l’Arabie saoudite. Alors que son rival de toujours Cristiano Ronaldo avait rejoint Al-Nassr cet hiver, la Pulga, qui espère toujours au fond de son coeur pouvoir rejoindre le Barça, commence à se faire de plus en plus à l’idée devrait également rallier le Golfe pour rejoindre le club ennemi d’Al-Nassr : Al-Hilal. D’autant que selon nos informations, l’équipe de Riyad a offert un incroyable pont d’or au génie argentin qui n’a clairement pas laissé de marbre son clan. S’il venait à rejoindre la formation saoudienne, Lionel Messi disposerait d’un contrat d’1,2 milliard d’euros sur 2 ans, soit 600 millions d’euros par an et soit plus du double que ce que touche actuellement CR7.

Des montants mirifiques qui permettraient également au frère et au père de Lionel Messi de toucher la plus grosse commission de l’histoire du football. Le premier choix du natif de Rosario a toujours été le FC Barcelone mais les incertitudes autour du plan de viabilité soumis par le club catalan à la Liga ont contraint le joueur à se diriger vers le Golfe, à contrecœur. Même s’il aimerait être rapidement fixé sur son avenir, le champion de France a décidé de laisser une dernière porte ouverte au FC Barcelone pour revenir à la charge avec plus de certitudes et avec l’accord surtout de la Liga, pour le moment peu enclin à accepter le plan catalan pour faire revenir la Pulga.

Pour le moment, la tendance se dirige clairement vers un départ en Arabie saoudite, car, d’après nos informations, le père de Messi a déjà accepté l’offre de contrat émanant d’Al-Hilal. Les prochaines semaines s’annoncent animées pour un Lionel Messi qui va sans doute disputer le dernier match de sa carrière parisienne samedi prochain face à Clermont et fêter un nouveau titre de champion de France, avec l’esprit déjà loin du Parc des Princes…

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Watch: Highlights as Scotland beat Slovakia 2-0

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Highlights: Slovakia 0-2 Scotland

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Jacob Greaves: Ipswich Town sign Hull City defender for undisclosed fee

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Ipswich Town have completed the signing of Hull City centre-back Jacob Greaves on a five-year deal for an undisclosed fee.

The 23-year-old was named the Tigers’ player of the season last term after Hull finished a place outside the Championship play-off spots.

Greaves, whose debut for Hull came in 2020, made 43 league appearances and scored twice as he was named in the EFL Championship team of the season.

“As soon as I heard about the interest, I was keen to get the move over the line. Now that it’s done I am really happy,” he said.

“I’ve spoken to [Ipswich manager] Kieran [McKenna] several times and those conversations have made me very excited for the future here. We spoke about tactics, playing style and life off the pitch and every time we’ve spoken it’s been spot on.”

Greaves becomes the Tractor Boys’ third signing of the summer following the arrivals of forward Omari Hutchinson from Chelsea and defender Ben Johnson from West Ham.

“He is a very talented, technical and athletic left-sided defender who has performed very well in the Championship and is ready to make the step up to the Premier League at this point in his career,” added Town boss McKenna.

McKenna, who has guided Ipswich to back-to-back promotions, signed a new deal at the club in June following interest from Chelsea, Brighton and Manchester United.

Ipswich will play in the Premier League this season for the first time in 22 years.

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Renato Veiga: Chelsea sign Portugal midfielder from Basel in £12m deal

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Chelsea have completed the £12m signing of Basel and Portugal Under-21 midfielder Renato Veiga on a seven-year deal.

The 20-year-old has signed a contract until 2031 to become the Blues’ fifth signing of the summer after deals for Tosin Adarabioyo, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Omari Kellyman and Marc Guiu.

Veiga, who is also capable of playing in defence, leaves Basel having made just 26 appearances for the Swiss club since joining from Sporting Lisbon in 2023.

“I’m absolutely buzzing to be here,” said Veiga.

“This is one of the biggest clubs in England – the biggest for me – and I’m just really excited to get started.”

Renato captained Portugal’s Under-20s side before moving up to the under-21s. He has featured in all seven of the side’s European Championship qualifiers for the 2025 edition.

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Jadon Sancho: Winger returns to Manchester United training after Erik ten Hag meeting

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Simon Stone, chief football news reporter

Club sources have confirmed a clear-the-air meeting took place between Ten Hag and Sancho earlier this week and both parties agreed to draw a line under their previous disagreement.

It has not been established whether Ten Hag received the apology he demanded after Sancho posted an inflammatory message on social media in response to the United boss saying his training performances had not been good enough before a Premier League game at Arsenal in September.

As recently the beginning of last month, United were adamant their intention was to sell Sancho, whether Ten Hag remained as manager or not.

However, BBC Sport was told Sancho was resistant to that idea given he has a lucrative contract that runs to 2026.

In addition, United were not certain of getting back the kind of transfer fee that would make economic sense, given they paid £73m for the England international in 2021.

Sancho will not be involved in Monday’s opening pre-season friendly with Rosenborg in Norway.

However, sources say the 24-year-old will be available for the remainder of United’s programme, which includes a trip to Edinburgh to play Rangers at Murrayfield on 20 July and a three-match tour of the United States.

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Southampton: Remi Allen appointed new head coach of Women’s Championship team

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Southampton have appointed Remi Allen as their new women’s head coach.

Allen, 33, joins after guiding Southampton’s fellow Women’s Championship side London City Lionesses to safety last season.

In her first managerial role, Allen won three of her six games in charge as the Lionesses avoided relegation.

Allen also has experience at international level, previously working as an assistant coach for England’s under-23 women.

She said of her move to Southampton: “I am absolutely delighted to be on board with such an incredible football club.

“It’s such an exciting time to be here, the club has huge ambition, and the group of players here are such a talented group.

“I can’t wait to get started on the journey. It’s going to be an exciting season ahead.”

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England in Euro 2024 final: We don’t care how we win, says Ollie Watkins

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England striker Ollie Watkins says the team are not bothered about their performances or goalscoring tally – so long as they win games.

The Three Lions have reached Sunday’s Euro 2024 final against Spain despite failing to set the tournament alight.

Spain have netted 13 times with six victories in 90 or 120 minutes.

That is in comparison to England’s seven goals and three wins – excluding penalty shootouts – while playing against lower-ranked teams than Spain.

Boss Gareth Southgate and his players were heavily criticised by fans on an unconvincing run to the quarter-finals – but a penalty shootout win over Switzerland followed by a 2-1 comeback win over the Netherlands has changed the national mood.

Watkins scored the 90th-minute winner in that semi-final victory over the Dutch, in only his second substitute appearance of the tournament.

“I watched it quite a few times, when I got back to camp,” said the Aston Villa frontman. “I was manifesting it, a lot has led up to it.

“A good friend said he felt like I would score in the Euros final, I did it a match before, but you never know, I might be saving another one for the final.”

Watkins was asked about King Charles’ message to the team – to try to win without any more stressful late dramas.

“As much as it makes it more exciting, I feel like personally we don’t care how we win or score, as long as the ball goes in the back of the net,” added the 28-year-old.

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Katie Robinson: Aston Villa set to sign forward

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Aston Villa have agreed to sign England international Katie Robinson on a free transfer following her departure from Brighton.

Robinson, 21, has been a target for Villa for several seasons and became available when her contract expired at Brighton last month.

She is expected to sign a deal for at least two years and is a player Villa believe has high potential.

Robinson was the youngest member of Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses squad who reached the Women’s World Cup final in 2023.

She will be seen as a replacement for Switzerland forward Alisha Lehmann, who left Villa for Juventus this summer.

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Euro 2024: David Moyes column on tactical trends of the tournament

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Lots of teams are doing lots of pressing, but there are also a lot of longer balls out from the back, perhaps because people are recognising that it is not a great idea to try to play out when teams are pressing you so hard and so high, and are so good at it.

So, instead of trying to beat the press, teams are playing over it., external

There is also a different emphasis in how teams are trying to develop and build play when they get on the ball – whatever shape they might start out in, it often becomes a 3-2-5 or 2-3-5 in possession.

Another thing we have noticed is that there are not so many runs being made in behind defences by number nines, but other players are making more – the number 10s are doing it more, and the wide attacking players.

It is the impact of those wide players that this tournament will probably be known for. I was at Spain’s win over France on Tuesday, but even before then Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams had obviously stood out, and Georgia’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and England’s Bukayo Saka have too.

That kind of individual skill has decided a few matches, and players who like going one versus one and taking defenders on have done a lot of good things in the competition.

It’s been exciting to see that sort of talent coming through and we feel it’s a consequence of the way young people across Europe grow up watching football now.

They can go on YouTube and watch closely the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi or any of the top players in the world, and how they do things, whenever they want to.

Even just that on its own is probably helping develop better players from other, smaller, nations, and it is great to see.

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Risa Shimizu: Man City sign Japan defender from West Ham

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Manchester City have signed Japan international Risa Shimizu on a three-year deal from West Ham.

Shimizu, 27, was out of contract in June after turning down an offer to extend by the Hammers.

The defender quickly established herself as a key player, starting every match in her first season at West Ham after joining in 2022.

She links up with Japan team-mate Yui Hasegawa at City and is the club’s second signing of the summer following the arrival of Netherlands striker Vivianne Miedema.

“First of all, it’ll be a challenge, but one I’m ready for,” Shimizu said. “City play football with a high possession style, which I like.

“I think I’m technically good and calm with the ball in possession, so I think I’ll play well in City’s style.

“I can’t wait to get started and hopefully lift the trophy with my new team-mates.”

Shimizu’s move gives her the chance to play Champions League football and to compete for silverware.

She will also feel closer to home as it is believed City have found her accommodation in Manchester near compatriot Hasegawa, while club nutritionists have done research and training to provide Asian food which helps performance.

City boss Gareth Taylor said: “Risa brings intelligence and technical quality to the team. She’s an established international with huge WSL experience and we are delighted to bring her to our club.”

Shimizu will join her new team-mates after playing for Japan at this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris.

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Euro 2024: The key battles that could decide the final between England and Spain

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Before this tournament, there were murmurs of an up-and-coming star in Barcelona’s ranks – 16-year-old winger Lamine Yamal.

But at Euro 2024, the teenager – who turns 17 the day before the final – has truly announced himself on the world stage, becoming the youngest player to start a European Championship match in Spain’s opener against Croatia.

His goal in the semi-final made him the youngest goalscorer at a Euros or World Cup, breaking Pele’s record. He also broke Pele’s record of being the youngest player in a semi-final in either tournament.

He has provided three assists and created 13 chances, causing havoc on the right wing while Nico Williams does the same on the left.

If England are to have a chance of winning, they will have to deal with Spain’s threat down the flanks.

Kieran Trippier has been preferred on the left side of defence throughout the tournament but he is an injury doubt after being replaced by Luke Shaw at half-time in the semi-final against the Netherlands.

Southgate confirmed it was just a precaution but Shaw has looked sharp when he has come on and not like someone who has spent four months out with injury.

As England’s only natural left-back, the final could be the time to hand Shaw a start. He scored after just two minutes of the Euro 2020 final against Italy, so he has been there and done it on the big occasion.

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