LIVE Transfer Talk: Lionel Messi to join PSG, not Man City, after Barcelona exit?

Losing Messi the 'worst nightmare' for everyone connected to Barcelona (0:59)

Martin Ainstein explains the feeling around Barcelona after Joan Laporta confirmed Lionel Messi's departure. (0:59)

The summer transfer window is into its final month for the major European leagues, which means the biggest clubs are looking to make a splash in the market before the new season begins. Check out the latest gossip below, and see all official deals here.

TOP STORY: PSG, not Man City, in pole position for Messi after Barcelona exit?

The news that Lionel Messi has left Barcelona on a free transfer this summer has rocked world football, and it has inevitably got tongues wagging about where the Argentina superstar will go next.

Manchester City were considered to be the 34-year-old's most likely destination, according to Marca, despite Pep Guardiola's team having just spent £100 million on Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish and their plans to bring in Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane for a similar amount.

But Guardiola played down the prospect of signing Messi by insisting the Argentina international is "absolutely not in the club's thoughts."

Messi's other main option seems to be Paris Saint-Germain, who have brought in some big-name signings this summer already with free transfers for Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Georginio Wijnaldum, alongside a €70m deal for Inter full-back Achraf Hakimi, while star striker Kylian Mbappe's contract (which expires in 2022) needs to be extended.

Sources have told ESPN's Julien Laurens that PSG reached out to Messi on Thursday. PSG sporting director Leonardo and chairman Nasser al Khelaifi are heavily involved in the discussions with Messi, having been in contact with his father Jorge for some time and and the former Barcelona star's arrival would mean Kylian Mbappe stays in Paris for at least another year and that club halt a planned move for Man United midfielder Paul Pogba.

AS reports that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has requested an urgent meeting with Messi's representatives as he wants to sign the Argentine.

Major League Soccer is also an option, with sources telling ESPN that City's offer back in August 2020 included a long-term contract that would see him move to partner club New York City FC after three years in the Premier League.

For now, it appears Messi intends on staying at the top level in Europe for a few more years before heading across the Atlantic. But he will have his pick of options, and could yet perform another U-turn to sign his new deal at Barcelona if the club can find a way to work out the finances with LaLiga.

- Marcotti: Breaking down how this Messi-Barca saga will play out
- Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)


21.45 BST: Gazzetta dello Sport reports that AC Milan have been interested in 33-year-old Atalanta playmaker Josip Ilicic for some time, but couldn't make the financials work without their neighbours to the northeast accepting a loan arrangement, something La Dea weren't open to. But that's now changed, the report states, giving the Rossoneri a more-economic option as they monitor the likes of Isco, Hakim Ziyech and Aaron Ramsey to replace free-agent departure Hakan Calhanoglu.

20.48 BST: Having been priced out of a move for Chelsea centre-back Kurt Zouma, West Ham United are now in "advanced talks" with Fiorentina to bring 23-year-old Serbia defender Nikola Milenkovic to East London, according to the Express. The six-foot-five centre-back has just a year remaining on his contract in Florence, and La Viola appear set to receive their desired €20m transfer fee.

19.51 BST: Former Houston Dynamo standout Alberth Elis has been waiting to complete his move from Boavista to Bordeaux for more than a week, but outstanding payments from the Portuguese club to the MLS outfit have put that move in a holding pattern. Record now writes, though, that the financials have been rectified and the 25-year-old Honduras forward is now clear to move to Ligue 1.

19.15 BST: Tottenham Hotspur have completed the signing of defender Cristian Romero from Atalanta, the club announced on Friday. Sources told ESPN on Thursday the deal would be completed for €55m. Read the full story.

18.54 BST: Juventus are evaluating AS Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni to bolster their midfield, Gianluca Di Marzio reports. The 21-year-old France youth international has been linked with Chelsea for much of this summer, as an alternative to Euro 2020 standout Declan Rice, although the Blues' pursuit of a midfielder has gone quiet amid negotiations to sign Sevilla FC centre-back Jules Kounde and Internazionale striker Romelu Lukaku.

17.57 BST: Barcelona have already agreed personal terms with 23-year-old midfielder Renato Sanches, according to Le10 Sport, but the real challenge will be hammering out a deal with the Portugal international's club, Lille. In the midst of a financial crisis, Barca would like to sign Sanches on loan with an option to buy, but the surprise Ligue 1 champions are reluctant to part with such a prized young player unless a substantial transfer fee was headed their way.

17.00 BST: Arsenal, Everton, Leicester and Aston Villa are battling to sign Lazio striker Joaquin Correa.

Corriere dello Sport claims Arsenal have offered €20m to sign the Argentina international, who has netted 30 goals and registered 18 assists in 117 games for the club, but that was rejected.

Lazio want around €30m and Il Messaggero claimed earlier this week that Everton and Leicester City were "very interested" in a deal.

Villa could also swoop in now that they have some more cash from the £100m exit of Jack Grealish to Manchester City, though they have already used £25m of that to land Danny Ings from Southampton.

15.59 BST: Bernardo Silva has been linked with a move away from Manchester City but manager Pep Guardiola said the midfielder is not the only one who wants to go.

"Not just Bernardo, there are two or three players that want to leave, but they are our players," Guardiola told a news conference. "When they bring some offer and they want to leave, we are open to discuss but it depends on them."

15.33 BST: Atalanta have announced the signing of Juventus defender Merih Demiral.

Demiral, 23, will arrive on an initial loan, with an option to sign him permanently for €30m at the end of the season.

The Turkey international will replace defender Cristian Romero, who is expected to seal a €55m signing move to Tottenham in the next 48 hours, sources have told ESPN.

Atalanta took their option to sign Romero from Juventus for €16m after his loan spell, but will now move him on to Spurs.

15.25 BST: Werder Bremen striker Joshua Sargent has been pulled out of the weekend's German Cup game against VfL Osnabruck as he is set to complete a transfer.

Sargent, 21, has scored 15 goals in 81 games since joining the club in 2018, but the United States international did not take part in the club's final training session on Friday.

"We are about to finalize a transfer with a foreign club," Bremen manager Frank Baumann told the club website. "As a result, Josh informed us that he would not be able to play on Saturday. We then released him from the final training session."

Sargent has been strongly linked to English Premier League club Norwich.

15.00 BST: How is Tottenham's Harry Kane going to get his move to Man City this summer?


Marcotti: A gentleman's agreement won't get Kane out of Tottenham

Gab Marcotti doesn't understand why Harry Kane thought a gentleman's agreement would be enough to leave Spurs.

14.29 BST: Barcelona will leave their latest contract offer to Ilaix Moriba on the table but will not make a renewed attempt to keep the young midfielder, sources have confirmed to ESPN's Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens.

Barca have been in talks with Moriba's representatives for several weeks over a new deal, with his present terms expiring in 2022, but have been unable to reach an agreement. Moriba, 18, has been sent to train with the B team in the meantime and has not featured in any friendly matches for either the first team or the reserves in preseason.

Sources said that president Joan Laporta wants to demonstrate that things have changed under his rule and that Barca will no longer agree to big contracts which aren't in line with market prices. Therefore, if an agreement cannot be struck, Barca will be open to offers this summer for Moriba, who could leave for free next year if he instead chooses to run down his contract at the risk of not playing any football this season.

Moriba broke into the first team under Ronald Koeman last season, making 18 appearances. He is one of the most highly rated players to come through the club's academy in recent years, but Barca are going to stand their ground.

14.06 BST: Atlanta United have signed Lille forward Luiz Araujo as a Designated Player for $9.4m with add-ons totaling another $1.75m.

Araujo, 25, helped lead the French club to the Ligue 1 title last season after the Brazilian joined the club in 2017 from Sao Paulo.

"Luiz is a player with great drive, a winning mentality, and is coming to us from a top club in Europe that just won their league," Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra said. "He has experience in big games, as well as UEFA Champions League and Europa League. We're looking forward to him making an impact with the club."

13.47 BST: Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is speaking to a news conference...

On spending £100m to sign Jack Grealish: "When we can spend this amount it's because we sell almost £60m worth of young players from the academy, loan players for £60m, otherwise it is not possible. That's the difference why we spend on him."

On signing Lionel Messi: "We spent £40m on Jack Grealish. £100m we paid and £60m we won [from transfers]. And he will wear the No. 10. We were convinced by Grealish and convinced Leo [Messi] would stay at Barca. Right now he [Messi] is not in our thoughts."

And on signing Harry Kane: "He's playing for Tottenham Hotspur. If Tottenham don't want to negotiate, it's finished. If they are open to negotiate, not just Man City, all the top clubs will try to sign him. It's different from Jack -- Jack had a release clause. Harry Kane is an exceptional, extraordinary striker, no doubts. We are interested but he is a Tottenham player. If they don't want to sell they don't, if they want we can try."

Interesting figures given that City have raised around £34m by letting Angelino, Jack Harrison and Lukas Nmecha depart this summer, while they'll also save money on Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia's contracts after they expired. But those numbers don't seem to add up.

13.38 BST: And, speaking at a news conference ahead of PSG's opening game of the Ligue 1 season, PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino confirmed that information.

"Of course [signing Messi] is a possibility," he said. "The club is working on it and if there is any information we will communicate it as soon as possible."

13.30 BST: Sources have told ESPN's Julien Laurens that Lionel Messi joining PSG would increase the likelihood of Kylian Mbappe, who is out of contract next summer, signing a new long-term deal with the club.

This would damage Real Madrid's hopes of signing the 22-year-old on a free transfer next summer.

Messi's arrival in Ligue 1 would also mean PSG end their interest in signing Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, meaning he would run down his contract at Old Trafford before becoming a free agent next summer.


Predicting where Messi will be playing Sept. 1

The ESPN FC crew all predict Lionel Messi will remain a Barcelona player when the summer transfer window closes.

13.16 BST: Cedric Soares is determined to stay and fight for his place at Arsenal amid interest from Fenerbahce, sources have told ESPN's James Olley.

Soares, 29, made only 11 Premier League starts last season after signing on a free transfer from Southampton but is settled in London and keen to make more of an impression at the club this term.

The full-back's chances of first-team football were expected to improve with Hector Bellerin seeking a move as part of an agreement revealed by ESPN on Feb. 26, however, Bellerin's future remains uncertain with the Spaniard yet to find a suitable club willing to pay the €20m that Arsenal want and it is possible he could stay in north London.

Regardless of what happens with Bellerin, sources said Cedric has no desire to seek a transfer despite renewed competition for places also coming with the arrival of left-back Nuno Tavares from Benfica.

Cedric has three years left on his deal and is said to be focused on forcing his way into manager Mikel Arteta's plans for the coming campaign. Despite ongoing speculation, Arsenal are yet to receive any formal offers for Cedric.

12.57 BST: After finally returning to fitness following an 18-month injury lay-off. Phil Jones will be given the opportunity to save his Manchester United career by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, sources have told ESPN's Mark Ogden,

The 29-year-old -- the only outfield player remaining at Old Trafford to have won a Premier League title with United -- has been out of action since playing (and scoring) in the FA Cup fourth-round victory at Tranmere Rovers in Jan 2020. Since that outing at Prenton Park, however, the former England defender has missed a total of 75 first-team games while battling to recover from a serious knee injury.

With Jones under contract at United until the end of the 2022-23 season, sources have said that Solskjaer wants the centre-back to have the chance to prove his fitness in training and in the reserve team before making a decision on his future.

With Real Madrid's Raphael Varane close to completing a £34m transfer to Old Trafford, the France international's arrival will leave United with six central defenders in the first-team squad with midfielder Scott McTominay providing a seventh option due to his experience of playing in defence with Scotland.

12.43 BST: West Brom midfielder Matheus Pereira has joined Saudi Professional League side Al Hilal.

12.26 BST: Will Inter Milan be forced to let Romelu Lukaku go if Chelsea offer them over €130m?


Hislop: Inter may have no choice over Lukaku's future

With rumours of a move to Chelsea intensifying, Shaka Hislop explains why finances may dictate Romelu Lukaku's future.

11.53 BST: Juventus forward Paulo Dybala has yet to sign a new contract, with his terms expiring in 2022, but the club are keen to renew him, says Calciomercato

Dybala, 27, reports that Juventus could offer him a new €8m-a-year plus bonuses to reach €10m, but that it will contain a release clause in case a big offer to sign him arrives.

The Argentina international rejected similar terms last year but may consider it now. His agent will reportedly meet Juventus director Federico Cherubini on Sunday to begin negotiations.

11.31 BST: Barcelona president Joan Laporta has said he doesn't want to generate false hope over the chances of Lionel Messi returning and added that no one is bigger than the club.

It was announced on Thursday that Messi, a free agent since his contract with Barcelona ended last month, will not rejoin the club. Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Laporta said that negotiations with Messi have ended.

"I don't want to generate false hope," Laporta said. "During the course of negotiations, we've known of other offers for Messi. There was a time limit, for us and for them, because they need time. The leagues are starting."

In answer to another question about signing a big-name replacement for Messi, Laporta added: "I don't want to generate false hope. Negotiations with Messi have ended and it's brought us here without an agreement because of the salary limit. And LaLiga is not flexible in terms of widening that limit, they would only do so if we mortgaged off broadcast rights in the deal with CVC.

"That wasn't the only element of that deal we didn't like, either. We had an agreement with Leo but we can't register him."

11.00 BST: Barcelona president Joan Laporta is talking about the club's decision to let Lionel Messi leave on a free transfer.

Oh, and they're still in massive debt.

So how does the player himself feel about all this?

10.28 BST: Man City already have a host of talented forwards and now they can add £100m Jack Grealish to the equation.


Where will Grealish fit into Guardiola's plans at Man City?

Mark Ogden debates how Pep Guardiola will utilise Jack Grealish and wonders whether Man City even need him.

09.43 BST: Aston Villa forward Louie Barry is set to join League One side Ipswich Town on a season-long loan, sources have confirmed to ESPN's Sam Marsden.

Barry, 18, joined Villa from Barcelona in 2020 and scored in last season's FA Cup win against Liverpool. He has trained with the first team this preseason and scored the winner in a friendly against Crewe recently.

However, given the arrivals of Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings at Villa Park, who have been signed to replace Jack Grealish, Barry's chances in Dean Smith's side would have been limited this season. Therefore, he asked to go out on loan, with several sides in the Championship and League One showing an interest, while German team RB Leipzig even sounded a permanent move.

Barry opted for Ipswich because he feels they represent his best chance of regular football at a team who will be fighting for promotion back to the second tier of English football.

The young striker came through at West Bromwich Albion before joining Barca aged 16 in 2019. Just six months later, though, he made the switch to his boyhood club Villa after growing unsettled in Spain. He scored over 20 goals across various teams last season, firing Villa to FA Youth Cup glory and netting in his sole appearance for the first team when a young side took on Liverpool in the FA Cup in January.

09.21 BST: Tottenham Hotspur are expected to confirm the €55m signing of Atalanta defender Cristian Romero within the next 48 hours, sources have told ESPN's James Olley.

The 23-year-old underwent the final part of his medical on Thursday and assuming no complications, he is then expected to fly to London to finalise the paperwork.

Spurs have agreed a deal believed to worth €50m with €5m in add-ons in a transfer that will rank as the second most expensive in the club's history after Tanguy Ndombele's €60m ($71m) arrival from Lyon in July 2019.

08.45 BST: ICYMI - Manchester City have announced the signing of Jack Grealish from Aston Villa, breaking the British transfer record in a £100m deal, the club said on Thursday.

Grealish leaves his boyhood club Villa having made 213 appearances and scored 32 goals since making his senior debut in 2014. It will be the second time City have held the British transfer record, after the £32.5m arrival of Robinho from Real Madrid in 2008.

Speaking to City TV, Grealish said: "There's obviously a lot of reasons why I decided to come here, obviously the manager has been a massive factor in that. Playing under the best manager in the world was something I couldn't really turn down. Competing for major trophies is something that I wanted to do, and it was something that, in the end, I couldn't turn down."

08.30 BST: Only one place to start... Lionel Messi is leaving Barcelona. But why?

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has always said he was "confident" of reaching a new contract agreement for Messi to stay at the club and that the key was building a sporting project that would guarantee him success on the pitch.

However, sources have told ESPN that Messi has been left unconvinced by the work done in the transfer market this summer, with another adding that there was also disagreement over the breakdown of the commission payments involved in the proposed new contract


Could Messi's departure be a bluff from Barcelona?

Barcelona correspondent Sam Marsden debates whether Barcelona President Joan Laporta is looking for a reaction from LaLiga if Messi leaves.

PAPER GOSSIP (By Danny Lewis)

- There is still a chance that Bayern Munich could sign RB Leipzig talisman Marcel Sabitzer, as has been reported by Kicker. The midfielder's contract ends in the summer of 2022, which means Leipzig will need to offload the Austria international now or risk losing him for free, as he has already turned down an extension. Even so, there haven't been any serious talks with the Bundesliga champions yet.

- Juventus are showing an interest in reuniting with Barcelona midfielder Miralem Pjanic and, according to Calciomercato, the feeling is mutual as the Bosnia & Herzegovina international has his heart set on a return to Turin. Juventus are working on a deal that could be a loan or permanent one at this stage.

- New England Revolution have made a deal in principle with Club Brugge for winger Tajon Buchanan to join the Belgian outfit for around US$7m, reports Tom Bogert. This deal would include the 22-year-old being loaned back to New England. It's not yet completed with personal terms still to be agreed, while two Bundesliga clubs remain in the race.

- Napoli are hoping to sign Sheffield United midfielder Sander Berge, as has been reported by Calciomercato. The Serie A outfit are hoping for a loan deal with a right to make it permanent, but the Blades want an immediate deal worth €15m. Borussia Monchengladbach's Denis Zakaria and Chelsea's Tiemoue Bakayoko are reportedly seen as alternatives.

- Crystal Palace have made some exciting signings this summer, and Blackburn Rovers striker Adam Armstrong could be added to their list of acquisitions, reports the Daily Mail. It is suggested that the Eagles are ahead of Norwich City and Southampton in the race to sign the 24-year-old.