Kevin De Bruyne.jpg

MIDFIELD ORCHESTRATOR: Manchester City’s Belgian playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, seen in action against Everton on May 3, 2020, is the Premier League’s Player of the Season. —Photo: AFP

Could we see Lionel Messi performing in the Premier League next season?

For a year, he has witnessed the brilliance of Barcelona diminish and has argued his case for rebuilding the team with Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu. The two are barely on speaking terms.

Messi looked a broken man as he held his head low and slowly walked off the pitch after the most embarrassing defeat of his playing career when Bayern Munich thrashed the Catalan club, scoring eight goals in the Champions League. There was nothing Messi could have done about it.

The Argentine genius, still only 32, could perform with ultimate skill for another three years and possibly a fourth. His current buy-out clause is £635million which no club in the world can afford. Barcelona, however, do not have the money to refinance and therefore might be forced to let him leave for much less, and his contract has a clause which says he can leave at the end of any season.

Manchester City are in the driving seat to sign him if he decides to leave and the super-rich club could afford to pay his huge wages. I contacted City and they are definitely interested in bringing this amazing talent to Maine Road, Manchester. Barcelona’s new manager Ronald Koeman is determined to keep Messi and it will be up to him to persuade the striker to stay.

Barca intend to clear out most of their starting players in order to rebuild.

I do question the choice of Koeman who failed as Everton manager but was okay managing Southampton. However, the Premier League is much tougher than Spain where only four teams are in with a likely chance of winning the title.

Former Barca teammate Gonzalo Higuain has warned Messi against playing in the Premier League where, Higuain claimed, Messi will be kicked into submission by tough defenders.

Just reward for De Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne’s sad mood was cheered a little this week when he picked up the Premier League’s player of the season award.

After the Champions League defeat to Lyon, De Bruyne expressed his disappointment by saying, “Different year, same stuff…it’s been a long season and we need a rest.” However, his mood changed when he expressed his delight at winning the award after beating off challenges from Liverpool trio Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Firmino.

De Bruyne produced 20 assists during the season which equalled Thierry Henry’s Arsenal record, and he also scored 13 times. Jurgen Klopp was named best manager and Liverpool’s Trent-Alexander best young player. Tottenham’s Heung-min Son’s solo goal against Burnley, way back in December, was voted the best goal of the season.

Chelsea chasng new ’keeper

Chelsea immediately contacted Atletico de Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak after the Spanish club was eliminated from the Champions League.

Oblak was confident that Atletico would progress into the semi-finals and put talks on hold so he could concentrate on his performance without being distracted. Manager Frank Lampard has lost faith in record signing Kepa Arrizabalaga and the 27-year-old Slovenian Madrid player would be a perfect fit into Frank Lampard’s set up.

Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana is a possible alternative if the Blues cannot gain Oblak’s signature.

Newcastle’s possible new owners want Shearer

Newcastle seem to be in a bigger mess than usual with chaos reigning throughout their pre-season preparation.

On the one hand, current manager Steve Bruce is chasing Southampton striker Chris Wood but, on the same day, I had a telephone call telling me that another possible buyer for the club has emerged and if that is successful then club legend Alan Shearer will the No.1 target to take over from Bruce.

Shearer currently has a lucrative contract with the BBC as a football pundit and is firmly established, so it might not be easy to tempt him away into a club which is in chaos. He is a close friend of manager Steve Bruce, which makes his decision even more difficult.

The new bidders are called Bellagraph Nova Group and they claim to have revenues of approximately £9billion. Their offer is £280million but that is way below owner Mike Ashley’s asking price of £340million, which was previously agreed with the failed bid from Saudi Arabia.

I am told that Ashley is still in contact with the Saudi group and is still hopeful the bid can be reopened.

Hart’s move to Spurs

Goalkeeper Joe Hart’s move to Tottenham is a smart move by the club. After being a regular at Manchester City, Joe was cast out by Pep Guaridola when he took over because he wanted a keeper who could also use his feet, which is not one of Joe’s strong points.

Hart is the perfect professional, always trains hard, good at motivating younger players and although he will be used probably only in League Cup matches, Europa Cup and FA Cup matches and the occasional league match, he will be a valuable asset to the club.

Money is short and Joe coming for free is a no-brainer, and at 33 years of age, he could stay for the long term.

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU

Felice Aisha Chow is determined to make the most of her second Olympic outing. Chow is in her mid-40s, and knows her competitive career is coming to an end. 

Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz produced a powerful late burst after six-hour slog to win gold in a thrilling Olympic men’s road race as favourite Tadej Pogacar was beaten into third place at the Fuji International Speedway yesterday.

Guyana’s Chelsea Edghill enjoyed a dream start to her Olympic career, emerging with a 4-1 victory in the opening round of Women’s singles table tennis at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gym here in Tokyo, Japan, yesterday.

West Indies women’s batting star, Hayley Matthews, was among the runs but her effort went in vain as the Welsh Fire suffered a six-wicket defeat to Northern Superchargers in the Women’s Hundred here yesterday.