Gossip: Messi, Guardiola, Benteke, Xhaka

Matt Stead

‘Manchester City believe Pep Guardiola will give them the edge in bid to lure Lionel Messi from Barcelona,’ reads the MailOnline headline.

‘Manchester City are convinced that the Etihad will be Lionel Messi’s only destination if he ever leaves Barcelona,’ reads the first paragraph, which hardly correlates with the above headline.

This story comes from the Manchester City PR department Chris Wheeler, who tells us that while City are aware the chances of signing Messi from Barcelona are ‘slim’, but they remain hopeful of one day landing him. And incoming manager Guardiola will be the decisive figure.

Frankly, the story doesn’t say much. The fifth paragraph reads: ‘But the City executives are understood to have doubts that Messi can be tempted, though he and his father Jorge are mired in allegations of tax evasion.’ But you told us City think Guardiola ‘will give them the edge’ in signing him?

Ifs, buts and b*llocks, basically.


Daniel Sturridge. Roberto Firmino. Divock Origi. Steven Caulker. Christian Benteke. So goes the Liverpool striking pecking order. After joining for £32.5million from Aston Villa in the summer, Benteke has struggled to hold down a first-team place at Anfield. He’s tried, bless him, but it just doesn’t look like it will work.

To his credit, the Belgian has scored seven goals in the Premier League, having started only 12 games. Only Firmino has more. But the Belgian’s last league start came in January. His last start in any competition came in early February. Both came against West Ham, and those at Upton Park were clearly impressed. The Daily Mirror report again that the Hammers want to sign the striker in the summer.

While we have had similar reports before, this is different. West Ham joint-chairman David Sullivan has chipped in with his thoughts; “The problem is he is on such a huge wage that no club can afford him. But he is a player that we admire.”

Which translates to ‘Help pay some of his wage and we’ll take him off your hands, Liverpool’.


Granit Xhaka is desperate to move to the Premier League. He really, really, really wants to. Liverpool? Sure. Manchester City? Why not. Aston Villa? Yeah, go o… actually, no.

But he does want to move to the Premier League. And according to The Sun, Arsenal could be his destination.

‘Arsenal are closing in on a £33.7million deal for Switzerland star Granit Xhaka,’ is the big claim from a gentleman called Staff Reporters. Weird name. He reports that Arsenal are willing to offer the Swiss international midfielder £120,000 a week, with manager Arsene Wenger having recently spoken to the Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder’s father.


Manchester United have held secret talks over the transfer of Borussia Dortmund hot-shot Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang…Alvaro Morata will reportedly join Arsenal for £40million this summer – as part of a bizarre summer transfer saga…West Ham are weighing up a summer swoop for Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick…Jose Mourinho has reportedly been approached by Arsenal by a third party said to be working on behalf of the Gunners…Chelsea target Axel Witsel says he wants to leave Zenit St Petersburg this summer to “play in a bigger league”…Arsenal are tracking the Lorient left-back Raphael Guerreiro before a possible summer bid, as Arsene Wenger considers whether to listen to offers for Kieran Gibbs…Mauricio Pochettino has a £10m buy-out clause in his Tottenham contract but Spurs are increasingly confident their title-chasing boss will agree a new deal this summer…Rennes wonderkid Ousmane Dembele is being watched by Europe’s elite teams, including Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid, but has revealed he prefers Manchester United…Southampton will test Arsenal’s resolve to hang on to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with a major summer bid for the England winger.