Lionel Messi not planning Barcelona return, Manchester United hunt for new goalkeeper – Paper Round

Spanish newspaper Marca gives an update on Lionel Messi’s plans. He had been linked with a return to Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain, but the Argentine is focused on three other aims. First he wants to seal this season’s Ligue 1 title, then be ready for next year’s World Cup in Qatar, before taking another run at the Champions League. He will not leave PSG this summer, but he will also not extend his contract yet.

Paper Round’s view: With no plans as yet to sign on for more time in France, it seems as if Messi has a year left to add to his major trophy haul, at which point he may be considering an easier life. If his decline continues then he will not be worth huge wages unless he is prepared to switch to less prestigious leagues, perhaps following Xavi’s route to Qatar, or perhaps MLS.

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Manchester United have seen their reserve goalkeeper Dean Henderson linked with moves to Newcastle United and Ajax as he grows frustrated with being behind David de Gea in the pecking order. United expect to extend De Gea’s contract at least until 2024, and if Henderson leaves then Sam Johnstone of Aston Villa or Benjamin Siegrist of Dundee could be options, reports The Sun.

Paper Round’s view: Siegrist is available on a free transfer so he may be the easiest signing to make, and it presumably means that Lee Grant’s time on the playing staff is coming to an end. As for Henderson, he missed his chance to make himself the undisputed No. 1 at Old Trafford and now has to force his way out in the summer to hope he makes the World Cup squad with England.

Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe attempted to sign Everton’s Ben Godfrey in January but was rebuffed as Frank Lampard attempted to plan for survival. The 24-year-old England international has continued to impress, and with Everton potentially set for the drop they could have to sell, but The Mirror reports Newcastle will try to force through a deal either way.

Paper Round’s view: Newcastle clearly have a way to go to build their squad into one that can challenge for the title but Godfrey would be an improvement on their current options. If Everton go down they will have to have a firesale, and Godfrey would presumably be a target for a few of the top sides given his experience and nationality, so Newcastle could find it a challenge.

The Daily Mail claims that Chelsea’s German international defender Antonio Rudiger has elected to sign a four-year deal with Italian side Juventus. The 29-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and has attracted interest from Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Newcastle United, but will move to Italy for a £5.4 million yearly salary.

Paper Round’s view: At 29, with no concerns about his professionalism, it is conceivable that Rudiger could maintain his standards for the next few years, and to get that for a little over £20m would be a bargain for Juve. They need to rebuild after a couple of years of struggling, but following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic they cannot afford big outlays on transfer fees.