Lionel Messi rejects Barcelona proposal, admits Cristiano Ronaldo “made El Clasicos much more special”

Lionel Messi has rejected Barcelona proposal to offer the forward a “lifelong contract” saying that he does not want to sign a contract for life ‘that binds me’, as has been proposed by the Spanish club.

The 32-year-old has starred for the Catalan giants across 16 successive seasons and has scored a remarkable 604 goals – a club record – in 692 appearances for the team.

Messi has won an incredible 34 trophies with the Blaugrana including 10 La Liga titles, four Champions League crowns and six Copa del Rey trophies.

The Blaugrana president Josep María Bartomeu is said to be intent on extending the Argentine forward’s contract until after the 2022 World Cup and Cadena Ser reported last week it would be a ‘lifelong contract’, report Football Espana.

Bartomeu and Jorge Messi, the player’s father and agent, have not sat down to speak recently but the president is said to be intent on resolving this issue as soon as possible.

Messi recently said he has not spoken to Bartomeu since the Champions League exit at Liverpool six months ago but added that he was open to discussing a renewal.

“It is true that Barcelona proposed me a contract for life, but what I said was that I do not want a contract that binds me like that,” Messi told Radio Metro in Argentina, as cited by Diario AS.

“I want to be fine to continue playing and to continue fighting for goals here. Being here I can be for life, but not with a contract. Here I would stay a lifetime.

“Cristiano Ronaldo not in Spain anymore? It is strange. It was good when Cristiano Ronaldo was there, he made El Clasicos much more special, he gave more value to La Liga as well.”

Chelsea new coach Ashley Cole identifies three best managers he played for

Ashley Cole has revealed that he wants to take aspects of Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Arsene Wenger’s management styles after starting his coaching career with Chelsea.

The 38-year-old has returned to Stamford Bridge to help assist the club’s U15 side after announcing his retirement from playing in August following a short stint with Derby County in the Championship.

Cole played under his long-time club and country teammate Frank Lampard at Pride Park last season and becomes the latest ex-Chelsea player to join the club’s backroom staff in recent months, report the Metro.

Speaking about the managers who inspired him during his career, Cole said: ‘Everyone has their own philosophy but you also have to take ideas that you like from different coaches.

The first thing I learned on my coaching badges was that every coach is a thief!

‘I want to take parts of Jose Mourinho in terms of how organised he was, Carlo Ancelotti for his man-management and how he would give players faith to go out and express themselves within his system and Arsene Wenger, who was definitely a great man-manager and put a lot of trust in young players to find things out for themselves and learn quickly from mistakes.

It’s about being adaptable.’ Cole enjoyed an exceptional spell with Chelsea as a player, racking up 338 appearances for the club and winning nine major honours including the Champions League across an eight-year period.

The former England international has linked up with his former Chelsea teammates Lampard, Petr Cech, Claude Makelele, Joe Cole, Paulo Ferreira, Carlo Cudicini and Henrique Hilario as part of the club’s backroom team.

‘The Academy are very good at giving ex-players a route back to the club and a chance to learn as coaches,’ Cole said.

‘They’re eager to bring in people who understand what it means to be at Chelsea and what it means to wear the badge.

‘You have to be a top player to play for Chelsea so they want those top ex-players influencing and trying to help the next generation develop and be better players.

‘Chelsea have been quick and probably one of the first clubs to really tap into that, not just with coaches but staff in the loans team and other departments, to bring them back to pass on their experience and expertise.’

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Former Chelsea boss heaps praise on Frank Lampard, reveals why he was convinced he would be successful manager

Former Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez has revealed he knew, while at Stamford Bridge, that Frank Lampard would go on to be a successful manager.

The Spaniard took the reigns at Chelsea during the 2012-13 season where he was appointed as an interim boss and had the opportunity to work with the now-Blues boss.

Speaking to the Athletic , Benitez praised the former midfielder for his conduct and said that Lampard’s ability to read the game was a huge plus when making the step up as a manager.

He said: “Football is sometimes about getting an opportunity at the right time in the right place and in his case, he did well at Derby County and got some experience.

“He has been given a big job and now it’s up to him to take his chance. Former players and famous players will always get a little more time but, in the end, it’s the same for everybody; they have to perform to keep their jobs.

“When I was at Chelsea, I remember being asked at almost every press conference about an extension to Frank’s contract because he was in his last year.

“I would just say, “Listen, I’m only here for a few months, so it’s not up to me to decide about that”. All I could really add was that if he continued to score goals and play well, then I would obviously be happy with that and, to be fair to Frank, he did both.

“I didn’t work with Frank for too long (it’s the same for John Terry, who is now assistant manager at Aston Villa), but it was not so difficult to guess he might go into coaching or management. You could see his interest in football but he also had the influence of his family all around him.

“He was surrounded by coaches; his father was assistant manager at West Ham for a long time and then worked with Brendan Rodgers, and Harry Redknapp is his uncle. Those relationships rub off.

“The position he played may have had a role, too. What was Frank’s speciality as a player? The timing of his runs into the box to score goals. Sometimes, you just have a job to do and that’s it but when you play in the middle and have to get into the box and decide when to go and whether it’s to the near post, the edge of the box or the second post, it entails a lot of thinking.

“Being able to see and read the game – being able to think quickly – are important qualities for a manager.”

Chelsea, Liverpool set for battle over Premier League star

Reports in England claim Liverpool and Chelsea targetting England midfielder Lewis Cook at Bournemouth.

The 22-year-old returned to action last month having been sidelined since December with knee-ligament damage.

Cook made his Three Lions debut last year and signed a new deal with the Cherries until 2022.

According to Sportsmail, both Liverpool and Chelsea have identified the former Leeds star as a target, should he prove his form and fitness this season.

Cook was captain of the England teams which won the Under-20 World Cup in 2017 and the Toulon Tournament 12 months later.

He made his debut for Leeds aged 17 before joining Bournemouth in a £7million deal in 2016 and was capped by Gareth Southgate at a time when he being tipped for a place in England’s World Cup squad.

Both Liverpool and Chelsea are said to be in the market for the best of emerging English talent and Cook’s high energy style in the middle of the park is thought to be the attraction.

He has even been likened to Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson given his running, passing ability and leadership qualities.

Emerson opens up on Christian Pulisic’s fate at Chelsea as American battles for first-team place

Blues defence ace Emerson has come out in support of his embattled teammate Christian Pulisic.

The 21-year-old has started just four times for the Blues since his arrival at Stamford Bridge in the summer, struggling to tie down a regular place in the London team.

According Emerson, speaking to Bleacher Report, the United States international has shown enough in training to suggest he can make a success of his time at Stamford Bridge.

HITC report that some concerns are beginning to emerge that Pulisic won’t be able to make an impact at Chelsea that many were expecting from him this season.

But Emerson says that Pulisic, who often plays just in front of him in Chelsea training, actually looks very good and he has noticed his ability to use both feet equally well.

“Pulisic is a quiet guy,” the £17 million defender said, as cited by BBC Sport.

“I think that is normal since he just got to the club and I believe that he is going to be more open with some time.

“He shows a lot of good technique—I see him play before and during training sessions and he has been showing that he is able to use both feet and he is very fast dribbling in short spaces.

“He is young but has a big responsibility. You see that, in the game, he always tries his best. Because he plays close to me, he has been trying to help me in defence, and I think that he has been showing a very good level.”

Frank Lampard gives injury update on Antonio Rudiger, N’Golo Kante, Christensen, Kovacic,unhappy with France boss over Kante’s condition

Frank Lampard has ruled N’Golo Kante, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger out of Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Newcastle United this weekend.

According to Lampard, Kante had suffered a groin injury away on international duty with France, while Christensen would be out for a fortnight with a hamstring injury.

Meanwhile, there was more positive news in the comeback of Rudiger, who has returned to outdoor training in recent days.

‘Rudiger is training outside with the physios which is a progression for him,’ he said.

‘He had a tough injury with some stop-start aspects to it which has been unfortunate for everybody but he’s outside now, which is positive. There’s a bit of work to be done for him to get match fitness but it’s really positive for us that he’s back outside.’

On N’Golo Kante? ‘No, N’Golo is not fit,’ said Lampard when asked about his injury list.

‘He had a small groin issue in the warm-up to the first international game for France, we didn’t get him back until after the second game and he’s not fit for Saturday.’

Lampard expressed some frustration at the breakdown in communication with the French national team over the midfielder’s latest setback, insisting he could have returned to Cobham sooner to receive treatment.

‘Before the international break, I know Didier Deschamps mentioned in jest a little bit about Oli Giroud, which was quite light-hearted and I get it because we all have our selection problems,’ continued Lampard.

‘However, the Kante one was not a laughing matter for us. We communicated before the last international break [in September] because he was injured – he couldn’t go away so we thought about what would benefit the player and we all agreed on that, which is how things should work.

‘After the first game when he pulled out, he then had a fitness test a day before the second game where it was clear that he couldn’t play but he then sat on the bench in the evening of the game so that’s not communication. It’s more for Kante himself because he’s not an inexperienced player, he’s won World Cups and been a fantastic player for them so I think it could have been handled better.

‘Our doctors were speaking with them and there were some times where things weren’t coming back to us as I’d expect them to come back, which is what I mean about communication. I understand when players are on international duty that they are the national team’s player as such but it was quite clear he wasn’t fit to play.’

On Mateo Kovacic and Chritensen? ‘Kovacic had a knock on his thigh but has trained the last couple of days so he’s in contention and Ross is also fit,’ reported Lampard.

‘But Christensen has a hamstring injury which will see him out for probably the next two weeks.’

Frank Lampard reveals text message Jose Mourinho sent to him after Manchester United beat Chelsea 4-0 at Old Trafford

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has revealed Jose Mourinho “had a little go” at him following the Blues’ opening day defeat to Man Utd .

The Blues got their campaign off to a miserable start with a 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford, which marked Lampard’s first competitive game at the helm.

Mourinho and Lampard worked together at Chelsea during the Special One’s time in the Stamford Bridge hotseat.

And they’ve kept in contact, although Mourinho was clearly upset that Lampard couldn’t mastermind a victory over another of the Special One’s former clubs.

Speaking to talkSPORT , Lampard said: “With Jose we would have texts from time to time. We had some at the start of the season around the United game where he had a little go!”

But Lampard, who spent a period of time working for BT Sport, accepts that it is nothing personal.

“It’s all good,” he added. “I’ve sat in the punditry chair for a year so I understand the need to say things so I’m certainly not going to bang on too much. In terms of him, yeah we have a relationship.”

Chelsea have overturned their early season woes to put a run of four consecutive wins together in all competitions.

They now sit level on points with impressive 4th-placed Leicester, ahead of their clash with Newcastle at the weekend, report the Mirror.

And he admitted drawing on the help of some of his other former managers for tips and advice along the way.

“Harry Redknapp is Uncle Harry so it would sound wrong if I didn’t speak to him, but he was great for me in getting me the role at Derby,” Lampard added.

“He was close to Mel Morris [the chairman]. He followed us brilliantly last year.

“He would text me and call me to talk about Derby and is doing the same at Chelsea so I have to shout Harry even though he is family.

“What he did for me in terms of getting me on the ladder managerially is huge and I will always be thankful for that.

“I had really good relationships with my managers. Guus Hiddink has actually sent me some great messages.

“But you move on a bit and it does become like you were more acquaintances but I have huge respect for all of them.”

Injured Paul Pogba pictured meeting Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane in Dubai

There are reports injured Paul Pogba has been pictured meeting up with Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane in Dubai.

The Manchester United star is in the Middle East undergoing extensive rehabilitation on the troublesome ankle injury which has curtailed his season.

United fans may have cause to worry though, as the World Cup winner took time out to link up with the very manager he has expressed a strong desire to work under.

While Pogba is working on his fitness, Zidane has been in Dubai as a guest attendee of the Dubai Artificial Intelligence in Sport (DAIS) Conference and Exhibition, report the Sportsmail.

The pair were photographed meeting up, as revealed by the Mirror, at a beach resort.

Zidane, dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, was seen chatting animatedly to Pogba.

The Los Blancos boss had made Pogba his top priority target in the summer and was believed to be disappointed that a deal could not be done.

Over the past months, Pogba has made little secret of his desire to play for Madrid, and has on several occasions admitted Zidane was his role model as a youngster.