Kylian Mbappe and Neymar scored hat-tricks as Paris Saint-Germain brought an emphatic end to their poor away form with a resounding 6-1 victory at Clermont in Ligue 1. 

Neymar and Mbappe struck in the opening 19 minutes as PSG ended a run of four straight losses on the road in all competitions and moved 15 points clear at the summit.

Jodel Dossou pulled one back for Clermont but Neymar scored from the spot and then set up Mbappe three minutes later as Mauricio Pochettino's men showed their teeth in the closing stages.

Mbappe completed his hat-trick with 10 minutes remaining and then returned the favour for Neymar, teeing him up for his third as PSG stayed on track for the title.

The visitors took the lead in controversial circumstances, Neymar's goal being allowed to stand despite Alidu Seidu being prone in the box after having his foot stepped on by Mbappe. 

Lionel Messi controlled Neymar's pass on his chest and volleyed a throughball in behind for Mbappe to poke past Arthur Desmas, but Clermont grew into the game and halved the deficit through Dossou before half-time.

Messi had a goal disallowed for offside before Mbappe was felled by Akim Zedadka in the box and Neymar slotted home the resulting spot-kick with the utmost composure in the 71st minute 

A magnificent outside-of-the-boot throughball over the top from Neymar set Mbappe on his way to his second and the France star made it three with a powerful finish from the edge of the box.

Mbappe then raced onto a pass from Georginio Wijnaldum and squared across the face of goal for Neymar to round off the scoring with 83 minutes played.

What does it mean? PSG close in on title 

With Rennes moving level on points with Marseille in second earlier on Saturday, PSG could find themselves a point away from reclaiming their Ligue 1 crown by the end of next weekend. 

Victory over Marseille at the Parc des Princes combined with Rennes losing to Monaco would leave them 18 points clear with just six games to play. 

Magical Messi-Mbappe link-up 

His first season at PSG has not quite lived up to expectations, but Messi was at his creative best against Clermont. The Argentina captain has now combined with Mbappe for eight goals in Ligue 1 this season.

Full-backs switch off 

Achraf Hakimi was caught in possession ahead of Clermont's goal and Dossou's run to the back post was not tracked by Nuno Mendes. Neither will be pleased with their role in PSG failing to keep an away clean sheet in Ligue 1 for the first time since October. 

What's next? 

PSG have Le Classique against Marseille to look forward to next Sunday, when Clermont will hope to boost their survival hopes at 19th-placed Metz. 

Kylian Mbappe is a more complete player than Erling Haaland, according to Barcelona defender Dani Alves.

Two of the hottest properties in world football, both players are heavily linked with moves away from their respective clubs.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe, who is widely believed to be heading to Real Madrid in the close season, has scored 28 goals and assisted a further 17 in 38 appearances across all competitions this term.

Meanwhile, despite a string of injuries, Haaland has been directly involved in 29 goals (scoring 23 and assisting six) for Borussia Dortmund in 2021-22.

Barcelona are among a host of clubs reportedly interested in both forwards, with Manchester City and Real Madrid also in contention to make blockbuster moves.

 

But if the Blaugrana are to spend big on one of them, Alves believes that Mbappe should be their main priority. 

Speaking to Sport, the veteran defender said: "Mbappe is a more complete player than Haaland in all aspects of the game.

"I wouldn't do crazy things for Haaland. Honestly, I wouldn't spend a lot of money on him.

"I would spend a lot of money on Mbappe, but not on Haaland.

"If you are going to make a giant investment, you have to do it in the best way. If it depended on me, I would bet on Mbappe."

After a disappointing few seasons in LaLiga, Eden Hazard may be heading back to the Premier League next term.

Hazard has made 65 appearances for Real Madrid since arriving ahead of the 2019-20 season, but has not played more than 25 minutes in a league game since a late-January fixture against Elche.

Battling poor form and injury, Real Madrid are reportedly planning to loan the Belgian winger out for next season, and one Premier League club has jumped to the front of the line.

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL HOPE TO LAND HAZARD ON LOAN

If Real Madrid are to loan out Hazard, Foot Mercato is reporting that Arsenal are the team most aggressively seeking his services.

According to the report, Real Madrid's plan is to loan the former Chelsea star for the 2022-23 season, with the goal of increasing his value enough to sell him ahead of the 2023-24 season, when one year remains on his deal.

Arsenal used a similar tactic to land Martin Odegaard last season, securing him on loan from the Meringues in January before signing him with a €35million transfer seven months later.

It is worth noting that the Foot Mercato report also stated that Hazard has no interest in leaving the Spanish side after this season, and may be willing to ride out the rest of his contract.

 

ROUND-UP

Newcastle United are set to challenge Manchester United for the signature of Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips, according to i News.

Newcastle and Borussia Dortmund are reportedly interested in Real Sociedad star Mikel Merino, per Fichajes.

– El Nacional is reporting that Barcelona believe Ousmane Dembele will leave the club and head to Paris Saint-Germain if the French giants do not retain Kylian Mbappe.

– According to ESPN's report, Erling Haaland fears Manchester United would not be able to match his competitive ambitions on the pitch.

– Benfica's Darwin Nunez is signing with a new agent as Arsenal and Manchester United circle the striker who has five goals in nine Champions League games this campaign, per Metro.

Mauricio Pochettino believes staying at Paris Saint-Germain would be the best thing for Kylian Mbappe.

The superstar striker is out of contract at the end of the season and has been strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid, but recent reports have suggested he may yet sign a new deal with his hometown club.

Mbappe has scored 28 goals in 38 games for PSG in all competitions this season, with his 45 direct goal involvements dwarfing the tallies of Messi (18) and Neymar (12).

On Sunday, Mbappe was involved in all five of PSG's goals in a 5-1 hammering of Lorient, scoring twice and providing three assists. It was the first time in his club career that he had been involved in as many goals in a single match.

Once again pressed on Mbappe's future ahead of Saturday's trip to Clermont, Pochettino told a media conference: "When Kylian is here, you can ask him and he can give you a better answer. PSG, just like me as the coach, want the best for Kylian and the club.

"We think that the best thing for this club is for Mbappe to stay, and we think it is also good for Kylian to stay here with us. Then, there are negotiations that have to serve to reach an agreement."

Pochettino also believes that Mbappe has made significant strides in his development since he took over from Thomas Tuchel in January of last year.

"Kylian is a clear example of how, when we arrived, his form wasn't as everyone expected it to be," Pochettino said.

"But thanks to his hard work and the commitment and confidence that we have generated here, particularly over the last year, he has shown what a fantastic player he is. 

"The most important thing here is his commitment and his ability to turn around difficult situations because when we arrived here it was a difficult time for him.

Pochettino will be without several players through injury for Saturday's match, and also confirmed he will rest Marquinhos after his captain's partner recently gave birth.

"[Marquinhos] has had a few niggles and so we have decided to give him a rest, especially given the week he has had with the birth of his daughter," Pochettino added.

When asked if Mbappe could take the armband in the Brazilian's absence, Pochettino replied: "I think that is possible for Mbappe and other players as well. Kylian is certainly part of the possible group."

Neymar merely needs to find his rhythm to rediscover his best form, so says Mauricio Pochettino.

Brazil star Neymar has endured another injury hit campaign for Paris Saint-Germain, with the 30-year-old having made just 22 appearances across all competitions.

That is 16 fewer than Kylian Mbappe, who has arguably outshone the former Barcelona forward since they both arrived in Paris in 2017.

Neymar served up a reminder of his qualities with two fine goals in PSG's 5-1 thrashing of Lorient last time out, though it was again Mbappe who stole the show with a pair of superb strikes and three assists, with the final star of Pochettino's attacking trio, Lionel Messi, also netting.

It was not for a lack of trying from a creative standpoint for Neymar, though, as he led the way for key passes (five) and had as many shots on target (three) as Mbappe, while his double took him to within one goal of his 200th in European football since he joined Barca from Santos in 2013.

Neymar's 12 direct goal contributions this season pales in comparison to Mbappe (45), though Pochettino is confident that his fellow South American will be able to return to his peak form sooner rather than later.

"PSG signed Neymar because of his quality, and it has been there for all to see," Pochettino told a news conference ahead of Saturday's trip to Clermont.

"He has had runs of injuries, there are ups and downs. Neymar suffered an injury soon after [I] arrived [at PSG].

 

"We have worked hard to get him back and like every attacker he needs rhythm, he needs to play to feel confident.

"I have no doubt that Neymar will keep showing his quality. He will be aiming for more."

Another of PSG's Brazil regulars to have struggled for his best form in recent weeks, albeit at the other end of the pitch, has been Marquinhos.

The centre-back has been a consistent performer during his time in the French capital yet had a horror show along with the rest of PSG's defence in the capitulation to Real Madrid in the Champions League on March 9.

Marquinhos has only made one error that led to a shot this season, yet it came against PSG and resulted in Karim Benzema scoring in that famous comeback win for Los Blancos.

He has made 33 starts this season, tallying up 2,952 minutes and helping PSG to 12 clean sheets, though he was unusually sloppy against Lorient.

With Marquinhos and his partner having welcomed a child this week, and the 27-year-old dealing with minor injury issues, Pochettino has elected to rest him.

"Everyone has been affected by the game in Madrid and getting knocked out of the Champions League," Pochettino said.

"If we analysed all of that game, we were better than Madrid but in the end it didn't go our way. Marquinhos will not be involved in the Clermont game. He’s had a few injuries and we have decided to give him a rest.

"Every player goes through different stages throughout the season, but the Marquinhos is a consistent player. He has very high standards, he is our captain and a top player.

Marquinhos' absence may mean that Sergio Ramos comes into the side.

"That is something I am thinking about now Marquinhos is unavailable," Pochettino said.

Xavi's rebuild at Barcelona has had to take place with tighter purse strings than you might usually expect.

The club that reportedly spent a combined €275million on Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho in the same season are now on the hunt for a new winger, and Raphinha seemingly fits the criteria.

Whether they can convince Leeds to sell for a price that suits all parties will apparently be made clear in the next few weeks.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA EYE RAPHINHA

Talks have commenced for Raphinha's potential move from Leeds United to Barcelona, per Nicolo Schira.

Raphinha's agent, former Barcelona and Chelsea star Deco, has been in contact with the Catalan giants since early March, but the Brazilian winger's €70m release clause has been a roadblock for the cash-strapped club.

The Blaugrana remain the preferred destination for the 25-year-old, who has tallied nine goals and three assists in 28 appearances for embattled Leeds.

It is reported Barcelona will try to come up with an acceptable package for the Premier League club in the coming weeks.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Manchester Evening News is reporting Paris Saint-Germain have made an offer to Manchester United's Paul Pogba, as he enters the final months of his contract.

– Tottenham and England striker Harry Kane would consider an offer from Manchester United before weighing up his long-term future, according to The Athletic.

Manchester City are hopeful of agreeing a new contract with 21-year-old England midfielder Phil Foden, per 90min.

– Despite interest from Liverpool and Manchester United, Ronald Araujo's agent has disclosed to ESPN that a new long-term deal with Barcelona is imminent.

Kylian Mbappe could help Real Madrid score "triple" the amount of goals if he were to join from Paris Saint-Germain, according to Los Blancos striker Karim Benzema.

France superstar Mbappe is nearing the end of his PSG contract and has been continually linked with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu, a transfer that would see him link up with Les Bleus team-mate Benzema.

Mbappe has 28 goals and 20 assists from 38 appearances across all competitions this season, while Benzema is top of LaLiga's goalscoring charts with 24.

Speaking with L'Equipe, Benzema said he is excited by the prospect of playing alongside Mbappe at Madrid.

"I like to play with [Mbappe] in the national team, and I would like to play with him in the club," he said.

"I think [Madrid] would score twice as many goals – or maybe even triple."

Benzema also discussed his goals with the national team after returning from a six-year exile last year.

"[Playing for France] is a pride for me, and I am happy," he said.

"There is a good adaptation, the level is very high, and that is what I like the most. Now I want to win a trophy with the France team."

Benzema missed Real Madrid's 4-0 El Clasico humbling at the hands of Barcelona and said it was not just the margin of victory that was concerning but the manner in which it took place.

"El Clasico, from the stands, I had a bad time," he said. "We were on a good run, and we had everything [in place] to continue.

"In fact, you can lose a match 4-0, don't worry. But not like that. 

"We didn't show anything, we didn't try, we didn't show who we were. We let them play."

Real Madrid will be back in action on Wednesday in Champions League quarter-final action at Stamford Bridge, with Benzema saying: "Chelsea are a great team, and we will try to get a good result in London."

Kylian Mbappe insisted there is no agreement to take him to Real Madrid after his majestic performance drove Paris Saint-Germain to a 5-1 victory over Lorient on Sunday.

The France international scored twice and assisted the other three PSG goals, with Neymar getting two and Lionel Messi the other, as Mauricio Pochettino's side maintained their 12-point lead at the Ligue 1 summit.

Uncertainty remains over where Mbappe will play next season, with Madrid leading the charge for the signature of the forward whose contract expires at the end of the current campaign.

Mbappe reiterated in the aftermath of the win against Lorient that a decision has yet to be taken, perhaps raising the possibility he could stay in Paris.

"No, no, no, I did not make my choice, everyone knows that I did not make my choice, I did not make my decision," he told Prime Video.

"I think because there are new elements, there are lots of things, lots of parameters and I don't want to be wrong, I want to make the right choice.

"I know that for the people, it's a little late, we talk about it every day. If I had made my decision I would say it, I don't have to report to anyone. It's a personal choice, if I made my decision, I come, I say it and I assume it.

"I think that, in the good things and the bad things that I have done, I have always assumed, I don't have to hide myself, I haven't killed anybody. It's just a choice, so I take my time and I want to make the best decision possible."

Neymar and Messi –,the latter ending a run of seven games without a goal – joined Mbappe on the scoresheet in the same game for the first time.

Brazilian star Neymar was delighted with the evening's work, with PSG showing positive signs after being jolted by last month's Champions League exit at the hands of Real Madrid.

"I'm happy with the victory," Neymar told Prime Video. "We knew this championship was difficult. We have to keep winning and show that we want this 10th title.

"Losing is very difficult. What happened against Madrid, that gave us a lot of harm. We must continue to move forward. We wanted to go to the end of the Champions League, but unfortunately we were eliminated. It's difficult for the public to accept defeat, but for us too it was hard."

Kylian Mbappe and Neymar both scored twice and Lionel Messi ended a barren spell as Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain crushed Lorient 5-1 on Sunday.

Mauricio Pochettino's side were overwhelmed in a 3-0 loss to Monaco before the international break, but they were soon ahead at the Parc des Princes when Neymar scored after 12 minutes.

Mbappe added a second 16 minutes later, and although Terem Moffi pulled one back after the interval, PSG's star France forward restored his side's two-goal advantage with 23 minutes remaining.

Messi halted his seven-game scoring drought before Neymar collected his second of the night, with Mbappe playing a part in all five of the hosts' goals as PSG maintained their 12-point lead over second-placed Marseille.

 

Danilo Pereira headed over from Neymar's corner in the opening exchanges, and PSG took the lead shortly after.

Intricate play between Messi and Mbappe allowed the latter to find Neymar to apply the finish into the bottom-left corner.

Messi volleyed an ambitious first-time effort over, before Mbappe brilliantly wrong-footed the unsighted Matthieu Dreyer after Idrissa Gueye's offload to double PSG's lead.

Enzo Le Fee curled narrowly wide after the break as Christophe Pelissier's visitors appeared reinvigorated, and their reward arrived when Moffi poked a wayward Achraf Hakimi pass past Gianluigi Donnarumma.

But Mbappe curtailed Lorient's hopes of a comeback when he expertly drilled into the bottom-left corner from outside the area following Hakimi's offload.

Mbappe turned creator six minutes later when he cut the ball back for Messi from the byline, and the Argentina star finished off the underside of the crossbar..

Neymar grabbed his second in the closing stages as Mbappe fed the Brazil international, who slotted past Dreyer to cap a fine victory.

Barcelona star Sergio Busquets would hand the captain's armband back to Lionel Messi if the forward returned to Camp Nou.

Argentina skipper Messi left the Blaugrana in a sensational free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain last August, with a financially crippled Barca unable to fulfil the terms of a new contract that had been all but agreed.

The 34-year-old is yet to hit the lofty heights in Ligue 1 that he reached for much of his astounding career, scoring just seven goals across all competitions for Mauricio Pochettino's side.

There has been speculation that the Blaugrana legend could leave PSG – who may also lose Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid – at the end of the season, and Barca head coach Xavi suggested the door will always be open for Messi's return.

Former team-mate Busquets echoed Xavi's sentiments as he expressed his desire for the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner to come back to Spain.

 

"Of course I miss him. On the field and off it," Busquets said of Messi in an interview with Spanish radio station RAC1. "Nobody else has given us what he gave us. He made a huge difference.

"After so many years, it's normal to miss him. I'm sure he will miss me too."

He added: "At first it was difficult [when Messi left]. It was a shock for us too. We are still here, but imagine it for him; changing city, changing team, changing style.

"When you don't win, you're not happy. I wish him the best. I would like Leo to come back, but I know it's very difficult. He has a contract with another team and it's complicated because of how he left us.

"If Xavi told him that the doors are open, imagine me as his friend and team-mate. I would give him the armband. He always has my admiration and respect."

Everton have endured a nightmarish season and currently find themselves in the Premier League's relegation scramble.

The Toffees are sitting only three points above the relegation zone, despite two games in hand on 18th-placed Watford.

Just as pertinent is their financial situation, which will reportedly force them into having to sell one of their most valuable assets.

TOP STORY – EVERTON TO CHOOSE BETWEEN RICHARLISON AND CALVERT-LEWIN

The Sun is reporting Richarlison or Dominic Calvert-Lewin will have to leave Everton in order for the club to balance their books.

Their latest figures revealed a £121million loss in the last financial year, and one of the two strikers will now have to be sold.

Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin are Everton's two highest goal scorers still at the club since the latter arrived in 2016. The Brazilian has scored 47 in 142 appearances in all competitions, while the former Sheffield United man has tallied 55 in 180 games.

Richarlison is a reported target for Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid, with Arsenal apparently keeping a close eye on Calvert-Lewin's situation.

ROUND-UP

– England midfielder Kalvin Phillips has told Leeds United he wants to sign a new contract, potentially warding off interest from the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Newcastle, per The Mirror.

– According to ESPN, Anthony Martial could be used to create a package deal from Manchester United for Tottenham's Harry Kane .

– Le Parisien report N'Golo Kante turned down an offer to leave Chelsea for Paris Saint-Germain in January.

Milan have cooled on Real Madrid's Marco Asensio due to the 26-year-old's wage demands, as reported by Tuttosport.

Kylian Mbappe has been tipped by Ronaldinho to stay at Paris Saint-Germain beyond this season and continue his partnership with Lionel Messi and Neymar.

France international Mbappe is into the final three months of his PSG contract and is a target for Real Madrid, while Barcelona have also been linked. 

Speaking earlier this month, PSG sporting director Leonardo vowed to "try everything" to persuade the 23-year-old to agree fresh terms at the Parc des Princes.

Mbappe has scored 26 goals for the Ligue 1 leaders this term, which is 19 more than the next-best Messi, who joined in a sensational move from Barcelona last August.

Neymar has netted just five times in all competitions, meanwhile, in what has been an underwhelming campaign for both the Brazil international and indeed PSG.

While 2021-22 has not gone to plan for the Parisians, who exited the Champions League and Coupe de France at the last-16 stage, Ronaldinho hopes their front three stay.

Asked if he believes Mbappe can be convinced to sign a new contract, Ronaldinho is quoted by Spanish outlet AS as saying: "Yes, I think he will stay.

"But hey, with football, a lot of things can happen quickly. But the three of them together can do something beautiful.

"I will not offer my advice to anyone. I just want to see all my friends happy, wherever they are. If all three stay, it would be fantastic for anyone who loves football.

"The three best players in the world together is what all football lovers want to see."

Mbappe is averaging 0.76 goals per 90 minutes this season, compared to 0.29 for Messi, who has endured a stop-start campaign in his first season away from Barcelona. 

The Argentina star has 10 assists but only two goals to his name in Ligue 1 – not since 2005-06, in his early days at Camp Nou, has he failed to register at least double figures.

 

PSG fans made their frustration known when they jeered Messi and Neymar during their recent 3-0 win over Bordeaux, four days on from the club's Champions League exit.

Ronaldinho, who played alongside Messi at Barcelona following a two-season spell of his own in Paris, was shocked by the reaction his former team-mate received.

"I didn't understand that," he said. "If you whistle Messi, there is nothing left. If you whistle the best in the world, who are you going to applaud? I don't get it.

"This is not a Messi or Neymar problem. The fans were not happy about exiting the Champions League. 

"They are the two biggest names at PSG so it's normal the jeers were stronger against them. But I think the fans are unhappy with all the players, not just those two.

"This is football and normality will return. I hope now that Neymar doesn't get injured because every year he wins something, either with the national team or with PSG.

"I hope that with Messi's adaption that the three of them can write a great story."

Angel Di Maria should continue playing in Europe for another one or two seasons despite his uncertain future with Paris Saint-Germain.

That is the view of Di Maria's father Miguel as the winger reviews his career options.

Di Maria is expected to leave PSG when his contract expires at the end of the season.

The former Real Madrid and Manchester United player has only started four times in Ligue 1 since the start of 2022 and his importance to the team appears to be diminishing.

Di Maria has three goals and three assists from 20 league appearances this season, but his father Miguel believes he still has more to do in Europe and should remain there with the World Cup approaching.

"I would like him to play one or two more years in Europe and then come back [to Argentina]," Miguel said to Radio La Red. 

"He is just 34 years old and he still has a career [at the highest level]. 

"He takes great care of himself, so he has to continue playing [in Europe]." 

Di Maria has had a successful seven seasons with PSG since arriving from Old Trafford in 2015 after a disappointing campaign in the Premier League.

He is closing in on a fifth Ligue 1 title with Mauricio Pochettino's men, but is now deciding on his next move as he nears the end of the one-year contract extension he signed in 2021.

Di Maria has also been pondering his future at international level.

The veteran said after scoring once and creating another goal in the 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Venezuela at La Bombonera on Friday that he had likely played for Argentina on home soil for the last time.

He thanked supporters and confirmed he would consider retiring from Argentina duty after the World Cup in Qatar at the end of this year.

"We talked later [that night] – I was very happy and he was very proud," added Miguel.

"It's on his mind and it all depends on him.

"I wish he could continue but from what he said that was his last game in Argentina and then it's Qatar and it's over, he's not going to play for Argentina anymore." 

Miguel added that when the time comes to return home, Di Maria still plans to do so with boyhood club Rosario Central.

"His idea is to come to Central for what remains in his career and finish the race – that's it for now," he said.

"He has already said retiring with Central [is his goal]. Hopefully he can achieve it. That is what he is lacking so far because he left here very young and could not enjoy anything."

Joan Laporta would be keen to sign either Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappe – but only if they wanted to join Barcelona and presented more reasonable financial demands.

Both Haaland and Mbappe could be on the move at the end of this season, with Europe's biggest clubs positioning themselves to sign the best forwards of their generation.

Haaland is widely thought to have a €75million release clause at Borussia Dortmund, while Mbappe's Paris Saint-Germain contract will expire – even if the Ligue 1 giants are trying to agree a renewal.

The exciting pair therefore represent relatively cheap signings on the face of it, but both would require significant outlays in terms of wages and agents' fees.

For that reason, Barca president Laporta is struggling to see how either could arrive at Camp Nou.

"Haaland or Mbappe? If I had to choose, I would stick with what I have clearly stated," Laporta told RAC1. "The one who makes it clear they want to play for Barca, the one who wants to come here.

"For the time being, neither of the two has expressed that to me. If they don't feel like it, it will be difficult.

"What has been expressed to me is the conditions about these two deals. We would never accept to spend those figures, no way."

Barcelona's financial restrictions led to the release of Lionel Messi to PSG last year, with a move to bring the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner back also ruled out by Laporta.

Lionel Messi returning to Barcelona is not something that president Joan Laporta is considering. 

Laporta's comments on the situation came after Dani Alves and Pedri said they would love to see the Paris Saint-Germain forward back at Camp Nou. 

Messi, 34, left Barcelona after last season when the club's financial restrictions meant retaining arguably the best player in the world on a new contract was out of the question. 

Speaking on RAC 1, Laporta made it clear he was not in communication with the Argentina international at all. 

"Right now there is no fluid communication and I do not speak with him. There is no personal contact," he said. 

"He is in Paris, but I remember him with affection. I know what is said, but I don't talk to him. I hear comments from people close to me. 

"I have not received any message from Leo or from those around him about returning. The truth is that at the moment we are not considering it. 

"We are building a young team combined with people of some experience, making a good symbiosis that works again. 

"But Leo is Leo, the best player in the world. He deserves respect as a player and person. He is a winner, but it's not something we are planning." 

Reflecting on Messi's departure from the club, Laporta stated there was not much he could do. 

"For me, it sure wasn't easy, but as it happened, I thought the club had to come first – I couldn't put [Barcelona] at more risk," he said. 

"I think we did what we had to do." 

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