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Lionel Messi should only get better with age as Barcelona's leading light

Gab Marcotti and Shaka Hislop talk Clasico as the La Liga fixtures were released on Friday.

If there's a downside to being Lionel Messi, it probably manifests itself in contract negotiations. Earlier this month, less than a year away from free agency, he signed an extension tying him to Barcelona through 2021.

Ordinarily, you'd expect a GOAT candidate running down his contract to foster endless media speculation. Is he looking for a new challenge? What does he want from the club? Can somebody make him an offer that can't be refused?

Not here, and not Messi. It was about as anti-climactic...

 By Tony Evans

Liverpool must pass the test as Barcelona continue to chase Coutinho

Former Liverpool defender Steve Nicol has his say on how Liverpool should proceed with Philippe Coutinho and Leipzig's Naby Keita.
Former Liverpool midfielder John Barnes addresses Coutinho's future, the belief in Klopp and Liverpool's UCL ambitions.

Big clubs make big statements. Liverpool have spent the summer trying to flex their muscles in the transfer market, but the results have been mixed.

Jurgen Klopp's pursuit of Naby Keita appears doomed to failure, despite repeated bids. So far, Red Bull Leipzig have turned down £70 million. Virgil van Dijk will probably end up at Anfield despite the shambolic attempt to sign the Southampton defender in June. Liverpool were gloating openly over signing the 26-year-old, despite having made...

 By Tim Vickery

Paulinho emerges from Vinicius Junior shadow to strike Brazilian record

Real Madrid's newly signed 16-year-old Vinicius Junior hopes to mature over the next couple years before joining Los Blancos.

The odds were on Vinicius Junior winning the race to become the first player born in 2000 to score a goal in the Brazilian Championship. The much-hyped Flamengo forward, on his way to Real Madrid for around €45 million when he turns 18 next year, looked the most likely. He made his first-team debut in the opening round, more than two months ago, and seemed to have the field to himself.

But he has been beaten to the punch. The first player to achieve the feat was Paulinho of Flamengo's Rio...

John Brewin profile picture  By John Brewin

West Ham's summer signings of proven talent hint at brighter future

Stewart Robson is happy to see Joe Hart back in England but insists the goalkeeper has a lot to prove this season.
Stewart Robson assesses the pros and cons of a Javier Hernandez move to West Ham.

"Quality over quantity" is West Ham United's transfer market priority this summer, according to joint-chairman David Sullivan last week. An unfortunate misspelling on the club's website, since amended, had originally quoted Sullivan as wanting "quantity over quality".

The slip served as a fitting description of last summer's dealings, when 13 players came in and failed to make the team any better. The sole undeniable success was Manuel Lanzini, who had already spent the previous season on loan...

 By Tim Vickery

Philippe Coutinho's fate once again depends on what Neymar does

ESPN's Herculez Gomez responds to the latest reports of Neymar agreeing to terms with PSG on a contract.
Steve Nicol evaluates Philippe Coutinho's future with Liverpool amid his links with Barcelona.

On Sunday, Gerard Pique put out on social media a photo of himself and Neymar together with the comment "staying" in Spanish. If this really is -- for this window anyway -- the end of Neymar's "Will he or won't he go to PSG?" saga, does that mean that Liverpool can breathe more easily?

Barcelona, of course, have been expressing an interest in Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho. Some have interpreted this as the search by the Catalan giants for a long-term Andres Iniesta replacement. Perhaps. Coutinho,...

John Brewin profile picture  By John Brewin

Football clubs finding a voice their fans can relate to in social media gold rush

Southampton join the player reveal movement, Wayne Rooney hits a stunner in his Everton return and more in the Sweeper.
Transfers are being unveiled in a better fashion, Maradona receives a Russian hockey jersey and much more in The Sweeper.

Banter is positively flowing from football club social media accounts. This summer has seen a space race of clubs attempting to outdo each other with creative videos and memes. Social posts have been going viral to the point of epidemic.

Aston Villa's July 3 Twitter announcement of John Terry's signing through the medium of a WhatsApp conversation between club owner Dr. Tony Xia, manager Steve Bruce and a host of current and former players was retweeted almost 21,000 times and liked almost 29,000...