Monday Kickoff: Messi to be offered new deal; Roma qualify for UCL; and more

LionelMessiBarcelona1-AthleticBilbao2014 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

With all of Barcelona’s off the field problems, current president Josep Maria Bartomeu is doing his best to ensure that the club’s next piece of breaking news is a positive one.

Speaking to Esport3 Television in Barcelona, Bartomeu said that the club is in talks to give Lionel Messi an improved contract. Messi signed his most recent deal in Dec. 2012 with the current contract ending in June 2018.

“We want to improve (the contract) because he deserves it, to adapt it to football’s current circumstance,” Bartomeu told Esport3.

“We are being unfair to Leo. Our club members need to understand that we must take care of Messi. He has made such an important contribution to this club and he will continue to do so. That’s why we have no doubt that he will lead the future of the club. He is young, he is the best player in the world, and we believe in him.”

Messi’s representatives and Barcelona are still ironing out the finer points of the contract talks including image rights and the annual salary received after tax. Marca has reported that a deal is expected to be completed prior to the World Cup this summer in Brazil.

The 26-year-old Argentine has managed to score 26 goals in La Liga this season despite missing time due to injury, however he was held scoreless in successive matches against Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League and Real Madrid in the Copa Del Rey final.

Here are some more stories to start off your week:

AS ROMA QUALIFY FOR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

The project begun by AS Roma’s American owners took their next big step on Saturday.

Roma’s 1-0 victory against Fiorentina ensured that the Giallorossi had qualified for the UEFA Champions League next season. Roma last played in the Champions League in the 2010/2011 season, where they were knocked out in the round of 16 by Shakhtar Donetsk.

After starting the season with ten straight wins under first-year head coach Rudi Garcia, Roma powered through a tough stretch where they lost the league lead to Juventus but continued to play strong and hold on to second place. Roma are currently on an eight-game winning streak.

“When I see my team work every day, knowing their quality in every area, I am truly happy for this achievement as they deserve it. Now we know that at the very least we are second and can still dream of first,” Garcia told Sky Sport Italia.

“It has been an extraordinary season, but we can still make it an exceptional one. Anything that comes now is a bonus. We will enjoy this victory tonight, we have 82 points and both the team and coach want more. That’s all that counts tonight.”

BLATTER RE-ITERATES DESIRE FOR WINTER WORLD CUP

Even though a decision on the 2022 World Cup was postponed until after this summer’s tournament, Sepp Blatter is still championing the idea of moving the tournament to the winter months.

In an interview with BeIN Sport in France, Blatter again stated that in his opinion the 2022 World Cup would best be played in winter, although he’s received opposition not only from some in the FIFA Executive Committee but also from Qatar’s local organizing committee.

“The best time would be the end of the year,” Blatter said. “We must still remain somewhat realistic. For me, if you change (the schedule) and we will change, because we can not play during the summer although Qatar insists, we must play in winter at the end of the year.”

Blatter also commented in the interview about the deaths of workers building the World Cup stadiums, absolving FIFA from blame and instead blaming the last-minute finishes on European companies who are contracting and designing the stadiums.

QUICK KICKS

Benfica fans lit Lisbon in red flares after the club won their first Portuguese league title in four years. (REPORT)

After two weeks of waiting, Atletico Madrid have reportedly worked out a deal with Chelsea to allow Thibaut Courtois to play against the Blues in the Champions League. (REPORT)

Marseille have reached an agreement for famous Argentine head coach Marcelo Bielsa to take over as manager of the club on July 1. (REPORT)

Ajax were stunned, 5-1, by PEC Zwolle in the Dutch Cup Final. The match was delayed 30 minutes due to fireworks and flares being thrown on the field in the middle of the game. (REPORT)

The 40-year-old goalkeeper Andres Palop has announced that he will retire at the end of the season. (REPORT)

Besiktas midfielder Gohkan Tore was indadvertedly shot in the shoulder at a club and had to be rushed to the hospital to have the bullet removed. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you see Messi signing a new deal before the World Cup? Think that AS Roma can make a run in next season’s Champions League? What do you think of Blatter’s comments?

Share your thoughts below.

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16 Responses to Monday Kickoff: Messi to be offered new deal; Roma qualify for UCL; and more

  1. Jack Del says:

    And Moyes is to be fired this week.

    • William the Terror says:

      We can only hope.

      Everyone says he deserves more time, but I disagree. You cannot look just at his poor performance this season. Look on the back end, too. Everyone says he did great at Everton, with a mid table team. But, the fact is, in his tenure at Everton, the team made it to Champions League qualifying ONE time, and did not make the group stages (i.e., did nor get out of qualifying). He got Everton into the UEFA Cup (now the Europa League) twice, and did nothing noteworthy. The single biggest accomplishment Moyes can point to is leading Everton to a win in the MLS All StR game. Wow.

      Now, he leaves, and Everton is battling for a UCL spot this late into the season and Manchester United is a shambles. He leaves and Everton gets better and the team he goes to gets worse.

      Moyes stinks. Sack him today.

      • Jack Del says:

        Reports have Giggs taking over as Interim and also as odds-on favorite to take over next season.

        • reignman says:

          Think that would be a massive mistake, your team is in crisis so you appoint someone who has never managed before? I know they all love Giggs but wow that seems risky.

    • Luetchy says:

      Moyes the football genius??

    • Dustin says:

      Why can’t Wenger get fired too? I’m so sick of people talking about him, just get rid of him.

  2. reignman says:

    Moyes to get the sack today. It’s hard to keep him around with the performances his side have put in this year. However I think it is unfair to give him all of the blame, simply put that team just isn’t good enough anymore, especially their midfield. It has been getting older and older without young replacements being brought it for years and they are paying the price now. They relied on the extremely injury prone RVP last year to win the title and it was only a matter of time before he got hurt. Their wingers are an absolute joke. Also in numerous games this year the players just haven’t played well, there is only so much a manager can do, they don’t have a magic want to fix all problems.

    • Increase0 says:

      That midfield is so terrible. They have maybe 2 competent players and one of them was injured for like 2 years until recently. All the wingers are just bad outside of Januzaj and he is super young.

  3. Major Club Team Owners Around the World says:

    “Sepp Blatter is still championing the idea of moving the tournament to the winter months.” Well then, Sepp, you should have said that before the voting came up … or at least have asked us if we’d be willing to give up a month of the middle of our season to fix YOUR mistake (and corruption?).

    Seriously though, I suspect they’ll really fight this (they being the big clubs around the world with a Fall – Spring schedule). Sepp would have to offer something to them really juicy, but I just can’t think of anything they would likely find worth it.

    • White Kix says:

      Reports indicate that Sepp voted for the US to host the 2022 World Cup. I have heard the theory that Sepp is saying the WC in Qatar will have to be played in Winter, so the push back continues to grow and eventually FIFA is forced to move the World Cup from Qatar. I don’t know if I believe that theory, but I don’t know if it can be ruled out. I guess it depends on your view of Blater.

      1) He is corupt, and stupid, doesn’t care what anyone thinks (Including the biggest clubs and leagues around the world and the big FIFA corporate Sponsors).
      2) He is corupt, and smart. He has been able to keep power this long. He is continuing to play the game so that the WC gets moved and he doesn’t have to out his powerbase, all of the people that tooks bribes to vote for Qatar.

  4. bryan says:

    surprise no mention of this:

    link to bloomberg.com

    it’s ridiculous the WC hasn’t been taken from them! at this point their bid isn’t recognizable other than the cash under the table…

    • Increase0 says:

      So they are murders who can’t even keep to the terms of their agreement. It really does need to be taken away from them. I can’t believe we lost to these guys. If it had gone to Australia, whatever but Qatar is nothing but FIFA corruption embodied.

      • bryan says:

        exactly, completely agree. reducing the number of stadiums by a THIRD is significant. they bid for a summer tournament with 12 stadiums and now it’s turned into a winter tournament with 8 stadiums. meanwhile, the death toll is up to 1,200 and it’s only 2014. what a mess.

  5. TheFrenchOne says:

    it’s ironic that Blatter keeps saying that MLS must convert to a August-May schedule like the rest of the world, when the MLS is perfectly suited to a winter World Cup like he is now championing. what a joke FIFA is…

  6. NASL to El Paso tx says:

    Messi needs to leave Barcelona, what is he thinking. He needs a new team, I would love to see messi in a arsenal or man city or even bayern Munich.
    Hopefully MLS will get messi, Christiano, ronaldinho, casillas, Howard, drogba, in the coming years

    • Increase0 says:

      Well, he needs a new team if they keep getting Transfer Bans not buying defenders etc. What I’m saying is that I wouldn’t sign an extension.