Sergio Busquets says Lionel Messi is 'at home' at Barcelona and Premier League move would be 'difficult'

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There has been speculation that Messi could reunite with Pep Guardiola.

Lionel Messi will never leave Barcelona as he is perfectly at home, team-mate Sergio Busquets said on Tuesday.

Messi’s first goal in nine games against Chelsea in last month’s Champions League last-16 first leg gives Barca a slender advantage ahead of Wednesday’s return at the Nou Camp.

Asked whether he can imagine Messi being prised away from Barca by a Premier League club, Busquets said the Argentina playmaker has few reasons to leave.

“I think he feels at home here,” Busquets said. “When you feel at home with all the things you have here – this is a big club, with good players next to you, you win different trophies, this is a good project, economically he’s doing well.

“All of this is positive. It’s difficult to find this in other places.

“We know the Premier League is a spectacular league. We would like to play there, but if you take all the positives and all the negatives, it’s very difficult to leave Barcelona.

“If you feel at home and you’re from Barcelona it’s difficult to change.

“To see him moving to another side, given all that, is very difficult. Getting out of here is difficult for most of us because we have everything.”

Messi last week became a father for a third time, missing the win at Malaga last Saturday as a result.

Busquets expects the Argentina playmaker will thrive against the Blues.

He said: “He’s going to be OK and more motivated than he usually is. He’s going to be more relaxed.

“I hope he’s going to be perfect and will play as he usually plays. He always makes the difference.”

Busquets added that Barcelona would settle for a goalless draw to advance to the last eight – and is wary of the Blues scoring.

“We don’t want to speculate, although 0-0 would be a good result. If they score we will be really suffering for that.”

Manager Ernesto Valverde knows Chelsea’s counter-attacking ability, with players like Eden Hazard and Willian, means Barca must capitalise on any dominant spells.

He said: “We will try to find a secret formula. I don’t think we have it, but just to keep working, keep pushing, keep trying.

Willian punished Barcelona on the counter in the first leg.

Willian punished Barcelona on the counter in the first leg.

“(But) it’s a double-edged sword. We cannot be on top of them for the whole match, because the last season they were the team with the best counter attack in the Premier League.”

Willian scored in the first leg and has five goals in five games. Valverde knows the Brazilian is a danger for Barca.

“He’s been playing really great with Chelsea,” he said.

“He’s finding the back of the net easily. He’s a player we have to take into account. When players of that quality are on a good streak they can score easily.”

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Barcelona to make late call on Andres Iniesta ahead of Chelsea clash

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Andres Iniesta is a fitness doubt for Barcelona's game against Chelsea.

Barcelona will make a late decision on whether captain Andres Iniesta is fit to face Chelsea in the Champions League on Wednesday, coach Ernesto Valverde has confirmed.

Iniesta sustained a hamstring injury against Atletico Madrid on March 4 but the midfielder took part in a light training session on Monday ahead of the last-16 second leg at the Camp Nou. The first leg finished 1-1.

“It’s clear when a match like this arrives, a player tends to risk,” Valverde said on Tuesday.

“What we have to decide is whether the risk is excessive.

“He played a big part of the training session yesterday without a problem. We’ll see how he feels today and decide.

“It’s a very important game. It’s down to the player. It’s a game you can only play if you’re 100 per cent.”

Iniesta could be replaced by Paulinho in the starting line-up but the Spaniard’s absence would represent a major blow to his team’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.

“We know what Andres brings to the team, not only on the pitch but as a captain,” Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets said.

“You give him the ball and he always knows what he has to do to create chances. Everything that he contributes is postive. He is training and we hope he plays.”

Lionel Messi, however, is available again, after the Argentinian missed Saturday’s win at Malaga to attend the birth of his son, Ciro.

“He will be fine,” Busquets said. “In fact he will be more motivated than what we are used to and physically he is going to be great, after having an extra game’s rest. I hope that this is perfect.”

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Chinese club threatens legal action over Barcelona star Andres Iniesta transfer rumour

David Cooper 13/03/2018
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Tianjin Quanjian have threatened legal action in a bid to stamp out speculation that Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta will soon be joining the Chinese club.

The 33-year-old Spain midfielder has been linked with a summer move to the Chinese Super League (CSL), which has attracted a number of big-name foreign players.

Veteran defender Javier Mascherano left Barcelona in January for Hebei China Fortune, joining the likes of the Brazilians Hulk and Oscar in the CSL.

But Tianjin moved to quash the rumours about Iniesta, issuing a statement saying: “Our club solemnly state that such news reports are false. For all false reports about our club, we reserve the right to solve it through legal means,” the statement said.

Barcelona daily Sport said last month that Iniesta, who will be 34 in May, had been offered 35 million euros a season to switch to Tianjin.

Iniesta, scorer of the winning goal for Spain in the 2010 World Cup final, signed a “lifetime contract” with Barca last October.

However, Barca’s January signing of Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool in a 160-million-euro deal suggested they are planning for a future without the veteran.

Ambitious Tianjin already have Brazilian forward Pato and Belgian international midfielder Axel Witsel on their books.

They were previously linked with striker Diego Costa, who is now at Atletico Madrid after leaving Chelsea.

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