Tottenham sign Swansea defender Joe Rodon before deadline - ESPN
Tottenham have signed Swansea City for defender Joe Rodon in a last-gasp move before the English domestic window closed on Friday.
Tottenham have signed Swansea City for defender Joe Rodon in a last-gasp move before the English domestic window closed on Friday. Sources tell ESPN the deal is worth an initial £11 million with a further £4m in add-ons. Rodon has signed a contract that will last until 2025, the club confirmed. - Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)- Insider Notebook: Reyna, U.S. stars on Barca radar The deadline for transfers involving English Football League clubs passed at 5 p.m. local time on Friday and Spurs ended their search for a centre-back by striking a deal with just hours left. How the summer transfer market worksKuper:Coronavirus' impact on transfersBarnwell's best moves:100-51 | 50-1Best statement signings everSummer transfer gradesLatest completed major transfers Spurs had turned their attentions to Rodon after being rebuffed in their attempts to sign Milan Skriniar from Inter Milan and Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger, with the Blues reluctant to strengthen their London rivals. They signed Rodon after having an opening offer of around £10m rejected, sources said. However, Rodon is unlikely to have been registered in time to feature in Sunday's Premier League home game against West Ham. Earlier in the day, Mourinho had been speaking at a pre-match news conference in which he appeared to hint Tottenham's transfer activity was over by hailing chairman Daniel Levy as a "genius." After a summer in which Gareth Bale rejoined Spurs along with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Southampton, Carlos Vinicius on an initial loan from Benfica and Joe Hart on a free transfer, Mourinho said: "It is a great opportunity to publicly thank my boss, my board, Mr. Levy, the structure, [head of recruitment] Steve [Hitchen] because what they did for the team was amazing. In such a difficult period where I always believed we were not able to reach some of the targets, the club did an incredible effort. "Mr. Levy showed once more that when he wants, when he is really involved, he is a genius in the way he makes deals happen and I can only publicly thank them for what they gave to the team."
Spain boss Enrique defends Man United De Gea amid criticism Bad habit to blame him - ESPN
Spain boss Luis Enrique defended David De Gea after the Manchester United goalkeeper put in another disappointing display in the loss to Ukraine.
Spain coach Luis Enrique has defended David De Gea after the Manchester United goalkeeper put in another disappointing display for his country in a 1-0 loss to Ukraine in the UEFA Nations League. Viktor Tsygankov's 76th minute winner on Tuesday night saw De Gea caught out of position as Spain suffered their first defeat since November 2018. - UEFA Nations League on ESPN+: Stream LIVE games and replays (U.S. only)- UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying on ESPN+: Stream LIVE games and replays (U.S. only) The visitors had dominated the game in Kiev, taking 21 shots to Ukraine's two, but were unable to take their chances before being hit on the counterattack. TOP FOOTBALL NEWS Enrique backs De Gea after another howlerUtd, Liverpool to get support over Prem planRonaldo tests positive for coronavirusFA: Prem clubs threatened to quit leagueCavani won't make Utd debut vs. NewcastleSouthgate responds to Mou's Kane criticism The performance raised more questions about Spain's lack of a reliable No. 1 -- and a natural goalscorer at the other end of the pitch -- ahead of next summer's European Championships. "You can always do more," Luis Enrique said in his postmatch news conference when asked about De Gea's responsibility for the goal. "But to blame [De Gea]... it's a bad habit, you [journalists] love doing it." "We could all do more, me first of all. When you get a cake you share it, and when you get a plate of food that's going bad, you share that too. We all could have done more, but in a game like this, if you blame De Gea, let's finish up and go home." De Gea has started all four of Spain's Nations League matches this season, while Chelsea's Kepa Arrizabalaga was picked for a 0-0 friendly draw with Portugal last week. Editor's Picks De Gea, 29 -- who joined United from Atletico Madrid in 2011 -- has been persistently criticised in Spain for his displays with the national team, more so since a disastrous showing at the 2018 World Cup. He has kept his place, in part, due to a lack of reliable alternatives. Kepa had been viewed as De Gea's successor after his high-profile 80 million move to Chelsea in 2018 but has since struggled in England. Kepa's mistakes in Chelsea's opening Premier League games against Brighton and Liverpool saw the club sign Edouard Mendy from Rennes as a potential replacement. Despite Tuesday's defeat, Spain remain top of their Nations League Group 4 on seven points, ahead of Germany, who drew 3-3 with Switzerland.
Manchester United window didn't 'happen as planned' - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - ESPN
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted that Manchester United's summer transfer window has not gone as planned.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted that Manchester United's summer transfer window has not gone as planned. United are set to start their season against Crystal Palace on Saturday with one new recruit in their squad after signing Donny van de Beek from Ajax. But the club have struggled to get other deals over the line, including their attempts to reach an agreement with Borussia Dortmund for Jadon Sancho. - Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)- Insider Notebook: Man United frustrated by transfer-hungry Twitter user "Sometimes it doesn't happen as planned," Solskjaer told a news conference on Friday. "Life isn't a straight line here. Sometimes things happen. There's still a few weeks left on the transfer window. "It might happen that we get someone in. I work with a club and they know what I feel this team and the squad needs. Let's see if we can add to what we have." United have until Oct. 5 to bring in new players and while Solskjaer admits he would rather have new faces at Carrington now, the Norwegian is willing to wait if it means getting the right player. "You want always to have as long as possible with players," said Solskjaer. "I think last season though shows that good players can adapt and get into a group quickly. "Harry [Maguire] came in very late in the transfer window and had a great impact on the performances in the team." The club's struggle in the transfer market has caused frustration among supporters ahead of a season during which they were hopeful of closing the gap with Manchester City and Liverpool. Solskjaer, though, insists it's not easy for United to get the players they want, particularly during a transfer window in the middle of a pandemic. "You can't ignore the impact of the coronavirus," said Solskjaer. "I think that's really changed the market. "It has been more or less in a period that maybe negotiations will happen. Of course the financial uncertainty of that has added on the difficulty of predicting where we're at. "I want players in the building that we want to work with and who want to be a part of it, and who want to be here. "One, you need the quality on the pitch. You also need the personal qualities and to really want to be here, and you need to show that you want to be here. That's really important for us as a group. "We're looking at a small pool of players that can add to the quality of our team, and let's see what we can do. They are working hard and I understand that they are working hard."
Lokomotiv Plovdiv vs. Tottenham Hotspur - Football Match Report - September 17, 2020 - ESPN
Get a report of the Lokomotiv Plovdiv vs. Tottenham Hotspur 2020-21 UEFA Europa League Qualifying, Second Round football match.
Tottenham Hotspur narrowly avoided Europa League elimination with a 2-1 comeback win against nine-man Lokomotiv Plovdiv on Thursday night in second qualifying round action. Georgi Minchev put the home side in front in the 72nd minute, leaving Jose Mourinho's Spurs to chase the game to avoid missing out on European football for the rest of the season. - Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only) And Tottenham were handed the lifeline they needed shortly after the Lokomotiv goal when Momchil Cvetanov kept the ball out of the hosts' goal with his hand and was shown a straight red card. Harry Kane converted the ensuing penalty for Spurs to level the score while Plovdiv were shown a second red, this time with Birsent Karageren being sent off for spitting on Tanguy Ndombele to leave his team to finish the match with nine players. Soon after, Tottenham took advantage of their two extra players to go ahead when Ndombele tapped the ball home from close range from a Giovani Lo Celso assist after a series of crisp passes from Spurs. Tottenham are next in action on Sunday in the Premier League when they face Southampton at St Marys.
Dillian Whyte-Alexander Povetkin rematch set for November - ESPN
Matchroom confirm Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin will face a rematch, after Whyte's shock defeat last month, on November 21.
Dillian Whyte has got the chance to avenge last month's shock knockout loss to Alexander Povetkin and rescue his career in a rematch scheduled for November 21, promoter Matchroom announced on Tuesday. Povetkin, 41, knocked out 32-year-old Whyte, with an uppercut in the fifth round after Whyte had dropped the Russian twice in round four. It was his first defeat since being laid out by reigning WBA-IBF-WBO world heavyweight champion and English rival Anthony Joshua in December 2015 which cost him his status as WBC mandatory challenger. The Jamaica-born, London-based heavyweight must defeat Povetkin to revive his hopes of fighting for the WBC world heavyweight title next year, or beyond. Usyk is now No 3 in the latest WBC rankings, one spot below American Deontay Wilder, while Whyte is not even ranked.
Bundesliga boost as home fans allowed back for new season - ESPN
Bundesliga fans will be allowed back into stadiums when the new season kicks off with champions Bayern Munich hosting Schalke on Friday.
Bundesliga fans will be allowed back into stadiums when the new season kicks off with champions Bayern Munich hosting Schalke on Friday. Germany's top division is on ESPN+. Can Bayern Munich stay on top or will the likes of Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig take over?ESPN+: Live games and replays (U.S. only)Bundesliga home | Schedule | Standings Following a virtual meeting of the federal states' chancelleries on Tuesday, home fans will be allowed back in stadiums, with no away fans present, no alcohol allowed and a ban on standing. The number of fans allowed back into each stadium will be communicated in due course. The German Football League (DFL) agreed on a framework for the return of fans in August, with contract tracing regulations in place. Those attending matches will need to supply contact details in case of a new infections during the COVID-19 crisis. Every club has worked on location-specific hygiene concepts which includes prevention measures inside the stadium and on the way to the grounds. They must be approved by local health authorities before supporters are allowed back. - Stream Bundesliga matches live on ESPN+ in the U.S.- Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)- Hamilton: Nagelsmann is Germany's best young manager- Connelly: Why the Bundesliga is the world's funnest league In the German Cup on Monday, more than 10,000 supporters attended Dynamo Dresden's 4-1 win over Hamburger SV in the state of Saxony, while 300 were allowed back in when third-league club MSV Duisburg lost 5-0 at home to Borussia Dortmund. Sources have told ESPN that Dortmund's famed Ultras will not return to matches at present. Borussia MonchengladbachUltras, meanwhile, released a statement that said while they understood the need to partially bring back fans, "visiting a stadium under that hygiene protocol has nothing even remotely to do with what we perceive as fan culture." The Bundesliga resumed on May 16 last season, becoming the first major football league to return amid the pandemic.
Maguire keeps Man United captaincy despite Greek court case - ESPN
Harry Maguire was handed a suspended prison sentence after being accused of various charges following an alleged brawl during a family holiday.
Maguire was handed a suspended prison sentence of 21 months and 10 days following an alleged brawl during a family holiday on the island of Mykonos."Harry... had a difficult summer. He didn't have a long break. His break was different to others as we gave him a few more days and, after, he's come back and looked fine," Solskjaer told United's website. "He's handled it really well and, of course, I'll be here to support him. He is going to be our captain. We'll leave Harry and his people and the process to run. "For me, he is a top, an absolute top human being and has always been a positive guy with the right values. So I really hope we can see Harry performing at his best." Midfielder Paul Pogba is back in training after his positive coronavirus test and Solskjaer said he hoped the France international would be available for their season opener at home to Crystal Palace on Sept. 19. "Paul's had a couple of training sessions so he's lost out on a few sessions because of the virus. But Paul is quick to get fit," Solskjaer added. "Of course, he worked really hard to get back after lockdown last time and played the majority of the games. Hopefully, he'll be ready for next weekend. I am not 100% sure though."
Portugal vs. Croatia - Football Match Report - September 5, 2020 - ESPN
Get a report of the Portugal vs. Croatia 2020-21 UEFA Nations League, Group Stage football match.
Nations League holders Portugal made light of Cristiano Ronaldo's injury absence as they swept aside Croatia 4-1 in their opener in the competition on Saturday. - Watch UEFA Nations League on ESPN, ESPN+ (U.S. only) European champions Portugal, in impressive form on their return to action after a 10-month new coronavirus hiatus, hit the woodwork three times before Joao Cancelo fired them ahead four minutes before halftime in the League A Group Three match. Diogo Jota and Joao Felix both scored their first international goals in the second half before Bruno Petkovic pulled one back and Andre Silva then added a fourth. Ronaldo, who is on 99 international goals, was ruled out with a toe infection while Croatia were missing key midfielders Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic after their federation agreed not to pick them before the start of the European club season. It was the first time Ronaldo had missed a Portugal game since November 2018. Nikola Vlasic nearly gave Croatia a second-minute lead when his shot was tipped around the post by Anthony Lopes but after that it was all Portugal. Joao Felix hit the bar, Diogo Jota headed against the post and Raphael Guerreiro's long-range shot struck the upright, rebounded onto goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic's back and flew wide as Croatia's goal lived a charmed life. But their luck ran out when Cancelo scored before the break with a curling left-foot shot from the edge of the area. As Portugal continued to dominate after halftime, Guerreiro chipped the ball over the Croatia defence to Jota who controlled it on his chest and slotted his shot home almost on the hour. Joao Felix, 20, also scored in the 71st minute with a powerful shot which Livakovic got a hand to but could not stop. Although Petkovic pulled one back in stoppage time, Portugal substitute Silva slid in a fourth goal from Pepe's header with the last kick of the game. World champions France beat Sweden 1-0 in Stockholm in the other game in the group.
AS Monaco vs. Stade de Reims - Football Match Report - August 23, 2020 - ESPN
Get a report of the AS Monaco vs. Stade de Reims 2020-21 French Ligue 1 football match.
Monaco rallied from two goals down to salvage a point in a 2-2 home draw against Stade de Reims in their first game under new coach Nico Kovac in Ligue 1 on Sunday. Hoping to find some stability after using five coaches in two years, Monaco found themselves trailing 2-0 after 21 minutes following goals by Boulaye Dia and El Bilal Toure. But Axel Disasi and Benoit Badiashile, who both had a catastrophic start in central defence, scored either way of the interval as Monaco stepped up a gear. Angers, the only team with a win so far, are the early leaders after the 2020-2021 started on Friday. There were no Ligue 1 matches for five months as the 2019-2020 season was abandoned because of the COVID-19 crisis. Dia outpaced Badiashile and beat Benjamin Lecomte with a low crossed shot in the fifth minute to give the visitors an early advantage. The visitors doubled the tally 16 minutes later when Toure made the most of a defensive misunderstanding between Disasi and Badiashile. Monaco, however, pulled one back on the stroke of halftime as Disasi headed home from point blank range. The hosts equalised 10 minutes into the second half when Badiashile netted with an angled shot from Aleksandr Golovin's free kick. Champions Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon's respective season openers were postponed after both teams reached the Champions League semifinal. PSG will face Bayern Munich in the Champions League final on Sunday. Marseille's home game against Saint-Etienne, which was scheduled for Friday, was postponed after four L'OM players tested positive for the coronavirus.
Inside Barcelona's historic week Messi threatens to leave, Setien's shortcomings, how they hired Koeman - ESPN
Barcelona's failed season has led to one of the worst weeks, a managerial change, player mutiny and cash flow problems. Here's how it played out.
With additional reporting by Rodrigo Faez BARCELONA, Spain -- Ronald Koeman's first act as Barcelona coach was a working lunch with his new bosses on Wednesday. He dined with president Josep Maria Bartomeu, sporting director Ramon Planes and director Javier Bordas at La Venta in the swanky Sant Gervasi-La Bonanova neighbourhood. They had plenty to discuss. Koeman has replaced Quique Setien as one of the many changes promised by Bartomeu in the aftermath of their Champions League embarrassment against Bayern Munich last Friday. However, sources have told ESPN that although Koeman was receptive to most of the necessary changes, he wanted one thing to remain the same: keep Lionel Messi at the club. The new coach was anxious to arrange a meeting with Messi, around whom he hopes to build a team. The forward has been frustrated, disappointed and, at times, angry over Barca's European shambles and, according to reports, is considering his future. (On Friday, the Barca board were divided over whether they should actually listen to offers for their talisman given the needs of the squad and the scale of the rebuild required.) Messi, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner, has flirted with leaving the Camp Nou before, but the threat of him leaving has never felt more real. His silence during the week since Barcelona's Champions League exit, which has been one of the most turbulent weeks in the club's recent history, has only increased concerns that he could leave. - Hunter: Will Koeman's dream job be a nightmare?- Koeman hopes to keep 'disappointed' Messi- Reporters' Notebook: Arsenal, Man City interested in Lyon's Aouar And so, a face-to-face between the new coach and the club captain was quickly set up on Thursday. Messi travelled back from Cerdanya, where he was on holiday with Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba and their families, to meet with Koeman. The star needs persuading that Barca will be able to undergo a rebuild while still competing domestically and in Europe. Sources close to Messi wouldn't divulge how the meeting went, but the club confirmed that he told Koeman he has doubts about staying. Further talks are planned. Messi's contract runs until 2021 and includes a prohibitive 700 million release clause. For Koeman, persuading the No. 10 to stay would be a good start to his tenure, but the scale of the task at Camp Nou remains huge. "It's not an easy challenge," Koeman acknowledged as he was officially presented after Wednesday's lunch. "Even during good times, it's not easy to be at Barcelona because the club demands the very best. But I like that, it's how it has to be. "I think there have to be changes. The image of the other day [against Bayern] is not the image we want. We will work hard to recover the prestige of a club that is still greatest in the world." Messi is Barca's undisputed leader within the squad, but his frustrations about the direction of the club have led to fresh speculation about his future. Michael Regan - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images It's undeniable that Barcelona have lost some of that prestige, especially over the past eight months. In January, Barca sacked Ernesto Valverde, when the club was top of La Liga, and Setien's reign has been defined by a host of mistakes, on and off the pitch, that culminated with last week's 8-2 humiliation against Bayern. That defeat brought all the club's woes bubbling back to the surface. In addition to the possibility of Messi leaving, Barca need to replace an ageing core of players, reduce the game's biggest wage bill and do it while dealing with a 300 million deficit caused by the coronavirus pandemic. That's without delving into the crisis at board level, which resulted in six members stepping down in April, or even touching on the fact that, in March, a new president will be appointed and everything done this summer could be ripped up in favour of starting again, again. The demise of Setien After the heavy loss to Bayern, Setien refused to answer questions about his future, but he already knew he was going to be sacked. He didn't even need to speak to Bartomeu to know that; instead of being relieved by Bartomeu, Setien received the news over lunch on Monday from sporting director Eric Abidal, who stepped down from his own role with the club 24 hours later. It had been 217 days since Setien had been appointed -- with almost 60 of them spent in pandemic lockdown. A source close to the first team quipped there is "nothing positive" to say about Setien's fleeting Camp Nou stay. Setien, left, and Messi had little rapport, and their strained relationship was emblematic of tension between Barcelona players and the coaching staff since Setien's appointment in January. Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images Things didn't get off to a great start in January when Setien replaced Valverde, who had been a popular figure among senior players, and they quickly went downhill. Sources explain that large sections of the squad, including Messi, didn't click with Setien and his coaching staff from day one. It quickly became apparent that the players' relationship with his assistant, Eder Sarabia, was particularly sour. Meanwhile, Setien's goalkeeper coach, Jon Pascua, wasn't even tasked with working with goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen. That job remained with Jose Ramon de la Fuente, who has been in the role since Tito Vilanova hired him in 2012. He has worked with Ter Stegen since 2014, and the two have built a close bond. However, it was the tension with Sarabia that spilled into the public sphere. Messi ignored a briefing from Sarabia during the 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo on June 27; television cameras caught the No. 10 walking away from Sarabia as he attempted to issue instructions. It was a scene familiar in training, according to sources, where players didn't buy into the "intensity" demanded by Setien and his staff. They thought some of his exercises were childish and others overcomplicated. This led to tension between Sarabia and Messi; on occasion, Setien even had to step in and keep the peace between the pair. As the rift between players and coaches grew, coupled with dropped points post-lockdown in La Liga against Sevilla, Celta Vigo and Atletico Madrid, Bartomeu soon realised another managerial change was needed. Setien's fate was sealed when Barca lost to Osasuna in the penultimate game of the season, handing archrivals Real Madrid the title. Sources explain that the top brass at the Catalan club believed that Setien's lack of experience at the top level counted against him, which was why he didn't garner respect among the players. Despite that, after a series of meetings, there was a consensus among the players and the coaching staff that Setien would remain in charge for the Champions League campaign. Everyone on staff agreed to pull together for the sake of the club; however, per some sources, Setien seemed to have checked out. He didn't give a proper team talk ahead of the Aug. 8 win against Napoli, instead telling the players they were experienced enough to know what they had to do. In the build-up to that game, some players turned to other members of the backroom staff to ask for information on Napoli's strengths and weaknesses -- analysis Setien would usually deliver. Barca survived that game, winning 3-1 (4-2 on aggregate), but their preparation for Bayern was just as haphazard. Setien did try to exert some authority, asking players to step up during training sessions. After the Bayern game, despite the fact that players knew what it meant for Setien, sources say the players didn't even say goodbye to the coach. play Laurens: Bartomeu has 'made a mockery' of Messi & Barca Julien Laurens calls Josep Maria Bartomeu "a disgrace" for his recent dealings at Barcelona. There are two sides to every story, of course, and sources close to Setien say he realised within one month that he had an "impossible job" on his hands. He and his staff believe the players have too much power. They sought to change that, but without the board's backing, they were fighting a lost cause. In the end, Setien staffers Sarabia, Pascua and fitness coach Fran Soto all left too. How Barca courted Koeman On Saturday, the day after the Bayern game, Koeman began interviewing for the job. The Dutchman dined at La Cupula Garraf, a fancy restaurant down the coast from Barcelona. He recently purchased a house in Vallvidrera and makes regular trips to the Catalan city, but this time his visit felt more pointed. He was one of three candidates sounded out by Bartomeu as the Barca president sought to avoid the mess that underpinned Setien's appointment in January. Of course, Barca had landed on Setien only after being turned down by Koeman and Xavi Hernandez at the start of 2020. Despite rejection seven months ago, Bartomeu turned to the same two men, along with Mauricio Pochettino, when looking for Barca's new coach. Once again, sources say it quickly became apparent after discussions that Xavi -- a Barca club legend as a player, now managing in Qatar at Al Sadd -- was still not ready to return, which left Pochettino and Koeman on the list. Former Tottenham boss Pochettino dined informally with Barca's then-assistant sporting director, Planes, last week, and sources told ESPN that at one point -- at least in the minds of Bartomeu and Planes -- Pochettino had a real chance of landing the job. (Planes was confirmed as Abidal's replacement when the former defender stepped down from the role.) The Argentine coach previously said he would rather "return to his farm" in his homeland than coach at Camp Nou because of his history as a player and coach at rivals Espanyol. Pochettino soon backtracked on those comments, appearing to open the door to the top job at Barca. However, sources explain that the overwhelming negativity towards Pochettino among supporters and on social media -- as well as doubts among some members of the board -- propelled Koeman into pole position. Koeman's reputation for being assertive and forceful earned him the Barcelona job, but he'll need to be more diplomatic if he is to get this team back on track. Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty Images Koeman played for Barcelona as a player and wrote his name into the history books when, as part of Johan Cruyff's 'Dream Team,' he scored the goal that secured the club's first European Cup in 1992. A source close to the Barca hierarchy says they settled on Koeman this time because they believe he will command respect from the players. The club also feel he's capable of overseeing an overhaul of the playing staff. He's never been afraid to stand up to big-name players -- as shown at Valencia when, in 2007-08, he forced out senior stars Santiago Canizares, David Albelda and Miguel Angel Angulo as part of a rebuild -- and given Setien's power struggle with the squad, Koeman's assertive nature is going to be needed. ESPN reported earlier this year that only three players were not for sale, and Bartomeu confirmed on Tuesday that basically every player over the age of 30, excluding Messi, can leave. "They are legendary players and they need to leave with honours, but we have to talk case by case," he told Barca TV. There were minor doubts about the playing style Koeman has used throughout his managerial career and some other minor complications, such as agreeing on a severance package with the Dutch FA, but with a lack of other options, it was full steam ahead. For Koeman, sources suggest that he felt this was a train he could let pass only so many times. It was time to board it. People close to him say he is in "perfect health" after a heart scare earlier this year and, after leading the Netherlands to their first major tournament since 2014, feels energised for what lies ahead. The size of the task awaiting Koeman In a remarkable interview aired on the club's in-house television channel on Tuesday, president Bartomeu effectively made over-30 players such as Gerard Pique, Alba, Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal and Suarez available for transfer. (These big earners are all over 30, entering the final years of their careers and deemed expendable.) Others, including Philippe Coutinho, Samuel Umtiti and Junior Firpo, have been mentioned in conversations (formally and informally) with half of Europe's top clubs. Barca have the biggest wage bill in football, with this season's accounts revealing that it comes in at over 500 million a year. Bartomeu admitted this week that that is a "problem" and, with the club predicting a 320m fall in revenue next season due to the coronavirus, they need to reduce it. That will be easier said than done in the middle of a pandemic, not least because the majority of those players would like to stay. It's for that reason, perhaps, that Koeman struck a more conciliatory tone on Wednesday. He said that age doesn't matter but that he will demand hunger and commitment from his players. "I don't want to mention names; we have to look in the club's best interests and make the best squad possible to try and win games," he said. "There are players of a certain age who you can start to doubt, although a player who is 31, 32 or even 33 is not necessarily finished -- it all depends on your hunger and whether you want to give everything for the club. I only want to work with players who want to be here, and if they are not happy here, then they should say so. I only want people who are going to give everything for Barca." play Ogden: Pique could be the next Beckham in MLS With rumours swirling of a Gerard Pique exit at Barcelona, ESPN FC's Mark Ogden tips MLS as an ideal landing spot. To help him, Koeman will bring in Alfred Schreuder and Henrik Larsson as his assistants, one of whom already has a positive rapport with one of Barca's key players. Sources say Schreuder arrives with Frenkie de Jong's blessing, given their relationship, and former Sweden international Larsson is a familiar face, having played for Barca 14 years ago, and boasts that institutional memory of what the club expects to be. De Jong will be central to Koeman's plans. The coach has dined out with the midfielder -- along with Patrick Kluivert and family -- on several of his trips to Barcelona over the past year. A source at the club say there's excitement to see how De Jong, a 70m signing from Ajax last summer, will blossom under his compatriot. Other youngsters will be brought through alongside De Jong -- Riqui Puig, Ansu Fati and recent signing Francisco Trincao, for example -- and new signings will also be chased. Sources say Eric Garcia and Lautaro Martinez remain targets, but all that matters right now is one player: Messi.