Barcelona director would not be surprised if rival club paid Lionel Messi's €700m release clause

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Barcelona star Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi’s €700million release clause may not be enough to dissuade potential buyers, according to Barcelona’s financial and strategy director Pancho Schroder.

Messi finally agreed to new terms last November with the Blaugrana inserting a whopping buy-out clause in the wake of Neymar’s world-record departure to Paris Saint-Germain.

The shockwaves of that move forced Barca to better protect themselves from the possibility of the 30-year-old departing – justifiable so as the Argentine has plundered 32 times in all competitions this season, passing the 600-goal mark with a trademark free-kick against Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

But Schroder insists he would not be surprised if rival clubs still attempted to prise Messi away from Camp Nou.

Speaking at a Finance in Sport event in London, Schroder told Sky Sports News: “We set up a clause which we think is enough to have Messi retire at FC Barcelona.

“But having said that, we thought a year ago that the clause for Neymar was also good enough to retain the player, and that proved last summer not to be the case.

“Looking at the future, I think, is difficult, but I don’t have a crystal ball and these days things are getting a little bit crazy.”

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Thiago Alcantara reveals why he prefers watching Lionel Messi rather than Pep Guardiola's Man City

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Thiago and Lionel Messi

Bayern Munich playmaker Thiago Alcantara has been thoroughly impressed by Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City this season but admits he prefers watching his old teammate Lionel Messi rather than his former boss’s side.

Thiago made his debut at Barcelona under the Catalan coach before joining him in Munich. And watching from afar, the 26-year-old has been amazed by City’s progression under Guardiola with the runaway Premier League leaders storming into the Champions League last-eight with a 5-2 aggregate win over Basel.

“City are playing amazingly,” Thiago told ESPN. “But I don’t think ‘wow.’ [Only] Messi makes me go ‘wow.'”

Bayern are virtually through to the last-eight themselves, carrying a five-goal advantage heading into next week’s second-leg clash with Besiktas.

They have not won the tournament since 2013 but have reached the semi-finals three times in the last four editions.

Thiago, who recently returned from injury after a muscle tear kept him out of action from November, believes his team will be competing at the top end of the tournament once more.

“Barcelona, Real Madrid, City: There are many teams you’d want to play against,” he said.

“But no team has impressed me. They are football players, like us. We just have to compete and see who is better at that moment.”

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Ousmane Dembele must find end product as Barcelona win Supercopa de Catalunya

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As Barcelona’s Champions League second-leg clash with Chelsea draws ever closer, the Supercopa de Catalunya was an opportunity for Ousmane Dembele to stake his claim.

But in the hour he appeared at the Camp d’Esports in Lleida, the France international did little to suggest he will be used heavily in either the UCL or La Liga.

Of course, this was only a regional competition, though with playing time at a premium, especially as Philippe Coutinho continues to grow into his role at Camp Nou, Dembele still has a lot of work to do after an injury-hit season.

We take a look at his performance in a game that was eventually won 4-2 on penalties by Barcelona.

THE GOOD

Dembele has a valid excuse for a difficult first season at Barca, suffering from a speed-sapping hamstring injury just as he was beginning to flourish in Catalonia.

The 20-year-old has made just two starts for the Blaugrana’s first-team this year – and for good reason given how delicate that particular ailment can be.

On this evidence, though, Dembele has lost none of that pre-injury zip as he stretched his legs in Lleida.

His speed is genuinely frightening and numerous times, particularly during the first half, he squeezed past defenders through pure speed alone. There was a palpable buzz every time he received the ball.

His sleight of hand also drew a couple of fouls and one cynical challenge from Pablo Piatti – although Dembele’s heated reaction was unnecessary.

THE BAD

As impressive as his blazing pace was, for a player who could end up costing Barca 150 million euros, his end product was far more miss than hit.

In fact, he ended up hitting the crowd 10 or 15 rows back on two occasions as he failed to wrap his left foot around a couple of crosses in rather alarming fashion.

He drifted into the middle on occasion in an effort to see more of the ball, though when he remained on the left, his overlaps with full-back Lucas Digne were often out of sync.

In fairness to Dembele the quality of the game was poor and he perhaps played down to that lowly level – though you’d also hope he could drag the others up with him.

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