Lionel Messi has been given permission by Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman to miss this weekend’s final La Liga match of the season against Eibar and take holiday, the club confirmed on Friday, meaning he may have played his last game for Catalan side.
The Argentine’s contract expires at the end of June and there has been no announcement on an extension.
He requested to leave the club last year and was linked by British and Spanish media with a move to Manchester City or Paris St Germain, but ultimately stayed put for one more season.
Should Messi not sign a new contract then his final game for the club would be last weekend’s dismal 2-1 defeat at the Camp Nou to Celta Vigo.
The 33-year-old has netted 30 times in La Liga this season and is set to win Spain’s Golden Boot – the Pichichi Trophy – however Koeman’s side can at best finish third, behind arch rivals Real Madrid and title favourites Atletico Madrid.
Leicester captain Morgan to retire at end of season
Leicester City defender and captain Wes Morgan is set to end his 19-year career when he hangs up his boots at the end of the season, the Premier League club said on Friday.
Morgan led Leicester to their first ever Premier League title in the 2015-16 season against 5000-1 odds, playing every minute of the campaign.
The 37-year-old signs off with an FA Cup winner’s medal after the club won their maiden title this month with a 1-0 win over Chelsea.
“Wes has been one of Leicester City’s greatest servants, leading the team through the club’s most successful era and helping to set the standards that have pushed the club forward,” Leicester chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said.
“A big brother to everyone he has played with, a strong representative of the squad and a valuable source of counsel to managers and senior executives in the club, his contribution has been enormous.”
Morgan will finish his career having made more than 700 appearances for Nottingham Forest and Leicester, as well as earning 30 international caps with Jamaica.
Leicester also announced Christian Fuchs’ departure from the club at the end of the season. The 35-year-old left back was a key member of the league title winning team.
Eight men arrested for online racist abuse of Spurs player
Eight men have been arrested as part of an investigation into the online racist abuse of an unnamed Tottenham Hotspur player last month, London’s Metropolitan Police said on Friday
The police said the investigation took place after a Spurs player was targeted with “highly offensive and racist remarks” on Twitter following their 3-1 Premier League loss to Manchester United on April 11.
Spurs condemned the “abhorrent” racial abuse of South Korean forward Son Heung-min on social media after the game.
The police said four other men were also interviewed, with all 12 of them being “under suspicion of using words or behaviour, or displaying written material with intent to stir up racial hatred”.
Spurs said they welcomed the action taken by the police.
“There is no place for racism anywhere in our game and society,” the club tweeted.
The abuse was initially detected through United’s online racist abuse reporting tool and then flagged to the police in Manchester, with the Met Police leading the investigation, the statement added.
UEFA projects 8 billion euros losses for top-flight clubs due to COVID-19
A report by European soccer’s governing body UEFA said the continent’s top-flight clubs are expected to suffer losses of more than 8 billion euros ($9.78 billion) due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report showed 4 billion euros were lost in gate receipts, 2.7 billion euros in sponsorship and 1.4 billion euros in broadcast revenue.
The losses led to a dip in the clubs’ expenditure on transfer deals, with spending in the January window down 56% compared to last year. The 2020 summer transfer window saw a 39% decrease from 2019.
English clubs made up 43% of global transfers, with the Premier League being the biggest spender in the 2020-21 campaign at more than 1.8 billion euros.
UEFA said reforms to its financial fair play rules were necessary and that transfer fees and wages “must be reduced to acceptable levels”.
The report also criticised the breakaway European Super League, saying a closed competition would have “devastating impacts on European football from a sporting, emotional and financial perspective”.
The breakaway league set up by 12 clubs was announced last month but fell apart after 48 hours following a huge backlash from fans, governing bodies and politicians.
The Super League had argued it would increase revenue for the top clubs in Europe and allow them to distribute more money to the rest of the game.
“A breakaway league cannot be the response to the pandemic, the report added.
“Restoring financial health and growth requires a process of financial discipline, careful management and long-term planning.
“It is only by respecting the pyramid and the principle of promotion and relegation on sporting merit that European football will be able to continue to grow.”
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