Samuel Umtiti refuses to answer questions on Barcelona contract extension

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Ahead of France’s international friendly against Russia on Tuesday, Samuel Umtiti appeared for an interview with Telefoot and refused to answer questions about his contract renewal at Barcelona.

Umtiti, whose current contract at the Catalan club runs until 2021, has been one of Barca’s most successful signings in the last few years and his release clause sits at just €60 million. The 24-year old star’s partnership at centre-back with Gerard Pique has been key to their defensive record this season.

During a questionnaire game organised by TF1, Umtiti was given the option to answer “yes”, “no” or “joker” to each question.

The Frenchman exercised the option to pass presented by the “joker” on two occasions.

First, when asked if he will renew at Barca. Second, when asked if he would sign for Manchester United.

Having given impressive performances week-in and week-out ever since his arrival at the club, it would be a surprise if Umtiti isn’t a top target for a club like United seeking defensive reinforcements.

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Lionel Messi to train at Real Madrid ahead of Argentina friendly with Spain next week

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Messi will be on unfriendly territory when he trains at Madrid's ground next week.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi will train at Real Madrid‘s training ground ahead of Argentina’s friendly with Spain on Tuesday.

The fixture will be held at Atletico Madrid’s home stadium, the Wanda Metropolitano, but Argentina are training at Madrid’s Valdebebas ground in the build-up.

However, the team will stay at the same hotel Barcelona use when playing in Madrid, after they arrive from England on Saturday.

Messi’s Barcelona are 15 points ahead of bitter rivals Madrid in La Liga and more or less guaranteed to win this year’s league title.

The team trained at Manchester City‘s training ground ahead of Friday’s friendly with Italy, with the Premier League club having been linked with an audacious move for Messi in recent months before he signed a new Barcelona contract in November.

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Argentina is Lionel Messi's team not mine, admits Jorge Sampaoli

David Cooper 22/03/2018
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Lionel Messi trains with Argentina in Manchester

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli accepted the two-time world champions’ chances at the World Cup in Russia will depend far more on Lionel Messi than his own influence.

Sampaoli was drafted in for Argentina’s final four matches of a faltering qualifying campaign, but it was Messi’s brilliant hat-trick in a 3-1 win at Ecuador in their final qualifier that ensured they didn’t miss out on the World Cup.

“This is going to be his team,” said Sampaoli, ahead of Friday’s friendly against Italy at Manchester City’s Etihad stadium.

“He is the best and is in a stage of maturity that he can carry the team on his shoulders. It is more his team than mine.”

For all his success at club level with Barcelona, Messi has never won a major international tournament with Argentina.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner will again carry the bulk of his nation’s expectations. But at 30, this could be Messi’s final opportunity to crown his glorious career with a World Cup.

Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero will not be fit to face Italy due to a hamstring injury and Sampaoli said he is also unlikely to play against Spain in Madrid on Tuesday.

“We have talked to City about Aguero. If there is a substantial improvement he could travel but I see it as difficult because of the short time left,” said Sampaoli.

Despite Aguero’s injury, Juventus forward Paulo Dybala didn’t even make it into Sampaoli’s squad with the former Sevilla coach enjoying an enviable array of prolific strikers to choose from.

Often compared to Messi for his diminutive physique and wicked left foot, Dybala has scored 21 goals in all competitions this season but has admitted he finds it difficult to play alongside Messi.

“It’s complicated for Dybala to get used to our style,” said Sampaoli, hinting that Dybala will miss out on the World Cup.

“We couldn’t improve his performances and we have to evaluate if the current players are better than Paulo or if we have to keep working with Paulo to improve his performances.”

Provided by AFP Sport 

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