Messi wanted in China

Lionel Messi is a target for big-spending Hebei China Fortune in what would be a landmark transfer for the Chinese Super League, reports Mundo Deportivo.

Despite Messi’s initial refusal to entertain a move to the Far East last summer, Hebei Fortune apparently remain undeterred in their quest to sign the Barcelona superstar.

Managed by former Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini, the Super League side recently added Javier Mascherano to their ranks, which also includes Ezequiel Lavezzi. The hope is that the Argentine’s compatriots will help convince him to seek a new challenge at the end of the season.

The only issue, of course, is that Messi’s new contract — which runs until 2021 — contains a €700 million release clause. We’re about to find out how big Hebei’s fortune really is.

Liverpool back in for Lemar

Liverpool will return for Thomas Lemar in the summer despite failing with a £78m bid for the midfielder last year, claims the Independent.

The 22-year-old France international recently rejected a new contract at Monaco, and seems destined to move on after coming close to joining Arsenal in August 2017.

Despite Arsenal maintaining their interest, it’s thought Liverpool are Lemar’s preferred choice, with Jurgen Klopp raising the idea of a transfer in January.

Monaco were unwilling to do business halfway through the campaign, however, and the Reds will have to wait until the summer to land Philippe Coutinho’s replacement.

Enrique heading to Chelsea

With Antonio Conte’s days at Chelsea looking increasingly numbered, speculation is swirling over who could replace the Italian in the Stamford Bridge dugout.

According to the Telegraph, former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique is the favourite to arrive in the summer, with reports that his appointment has already been set in motion.

The Telegraph story suggests Enrique “has already verbally agreed personal terms” to take over at Chelsea, although the official line from the club is that Conte will continue in his position.

And French outlet Le10 Sport says Enrique will look to bring Luis Suarez with him when his arrival is confirmed. The duo worked together in 2014-15 when Barcelona claimed an historic Treble in La Liga, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey.


– Benik Afobe will rejoin Wolves on a permanent deal in the summer if the club are promoted to the Premier League, claims the Daily Mirror. The striker is on loan from Bournemouth until the end of the campaign and made his debut from the bench against Sheffield United last weekend.

– Luke Shaw’s upturn in fortunes at Manchester United look set to be completed by the defender receiving a new contract in the summer, reports the Mirror. The 22-year-old has finally convinced Jose Mourinho of his worth following a strained relationship between the pair over the past 18 months.

– Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang says Henrikh Mkhitaryan was a “big factor” in his decision to join Arsenal in January. The striker said he spoke to his former Borussia Dortmund teammate on the phone ahead of committing his future to the north London club.


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