The Insider: Manchester City target Moyes reject Shkodran Mustafi

Manuel Pellegrini is considering a move for the Sampdoria centre-back, who was released by Everton in 2012, while Felix Magath will stay at Fulham even if they are relegated

MAN CITY TARGET MUSTAFI MOVE

Manchester City are ready to move for Sampdoria defender Shkodran Mustafi, a player that David Moyes let go during his time at Everton.

The Manchester United boss deemed the centre-back surplus to requirements back in 2012 during his time at Goodison Park, allowing the youngster to leave on a free transfer after making just one substitute appearance for the club.

Mustafi, who is also a reported target for Juventus, has gone on to flourish at Sampdoria, making 31 appearances in all competitions for the mid-table Serie A club this season.

The 22-year-old defender’s form was rewarded by Germany coach Joachim Low back in February, when he was called up to the national team for the first time for the friendly with Chile.

City are looking to bolster their defensive options with Matija Nastasic having struggled with injury all season and Joleon Lescott set to leave on a free in the summer.

– By Paul Clennam

FULHAM SET TO STAND BY MAGATH

Fulham are prepared to stand by Felix Magath even if he fails to stop them slipping down the relegation trapdoor in the next month.

The Insider understands that owner Shahid Khan, who has already sacked two managers in his sole season at the helm at Craven Cottage, has no plans to make it a third should the Londoners’ attempts to manoeuvre themselves out of the bottom three fail.

Khan is prepared to give Magath the summer transfer window, and the first part of next season, to re-shape the team whatever division they are in next season.

There is an acceptance among the Fulham hierarchy that the club’s recruitment in the last two windows has been less effective than hoped, most notably the January deadline signing of Konstantinos Mitroglou.

Khan, who bought the club from Mohamed Al-Fayed last July, is said to be focused on going straight back into the top flight should Fulham’s survival bid be doomed.

However, Magath, who has spoken of his confidence that he will not become the third victim this season of Khan’s impatience, following the dismissals of Martin Jol and Rene Meulensteen, has succeeded in making Fulham a tougher proposition.

Consecutive wins over Aston Villa and Norwich City, prior to Saturday’s defeat to Tottenham, have lifted Fulham to within two points of 17th-placed Norwich and given hope that a drop to the Championship can be avoided.

– By Wayne Veysey

Messi must be at his best to earn new deal – Bartomeu

There has been talk of the Catalans cashing in on their star man to fund a dramatic overhaul of the club but the Blaugrana supremo says the Argentine will be given a better deal

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has ruled out selling Lionel Messi, revealing that the Catalans plan to offer the attacker an “improved” contract – on the provisio that the he maintains his incredibly high level of performance.

There have been reports that the Blagurana could consider selling their most prized asset as they bid to overhaul the club following a week in which they were eliminated from the Champions League, slipped back to third in the race for La Liga and beaten by Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final.

However, Bartomeu has reassured Barca fans that Barca will not cash in on Messi, explaining that they instead intend to give him a better deal.

“It’s not a question of offering a new contract,” the Blaugrana supremo told ‘Gol a Gol’. “We have proposed a modification of his existing contract, which will run until 2018.

“We want to offer him improved terms in line with the current climate in football.

“All we ask of him is that he continues to play as he has done until now.”

However, while Messi’s form, and indeed his motivation, have been the subject of much debate this season, Bartomeu insists that he has never lost confidence in the four-time Ballon d’Or winner.

“We’ve been unfair to him,” he mused. “He had led the team for a number of years, he’s done an excellent job and we are sure that he will continue to be our standard bearer – and that is what he wants too.

“He’s still young, he’s the best player in the world and we have complete faith in him.”

However, Bartomeu refused to confirm whether under-fire Barca boss Tata Martino will still be at Camp Nou next season.

“We respect the coach and we have to look towards the future as there are five league games left and we are in touch with the league leaders, who may slip up between now and the final day,” he stated.

“We will deal with other issues when the time is right. Right now, we are focused on the league.

“We are behind him and will support him in these last few matches of the campaign.”

Bartomeu: Barcelona will not sell Messi

There has been talk of the Catalans cashing in on their star man to fund a dramatic overhaul of the club but the Blaugrana supremo says the Argentine will be given a better deal

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has ruled out selling Lionel Messi, revealing that the Catalans plan to offer the attacker an “improved” contract – on the provisio that the he maintains his incredibly high level of performance.

There have been reports that the Blagurana could consider selling their most prized asset as they bid to overhaul the club following a week in which they were eliminated from the Champions League, slipped back to third in the race for La Liga and beaten by Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final.

However, Bartomeu has reassured Barca fans that Barca will not cash in on Messi, explaining that they instead intend to give him a better deal.

“It’s not a question of offering a new contract,” the Blaugrana supremo told ‘Gol a Gol’. “We have proposed a modification of his existing contract, which will run until 2018.

“We want to offer him improved terms in line with the current climate in football.

“All we ask of him is that he continues to play as he has done until now.”

However, while Messi’s form, and indeed his motivation, have been the subject of much debate this season, Bartomeu insists that he has never lost confidence in the four-time Ballon d’Or winner.

“We’ve been unfair to him,” he mused. “He had led the team for a number of years, he’s done an excellent job and we are sure that he will continue to be our standard bearer – and that is what he wants too.

“He’s still young, he’s the best player in the world and we have complete faith in him.”

However, Bartomeu refused to confirm whether under-fire Barca boss Tata Martino will still be at Camp Nou next season.

“We respect the coach and we have to look towards the future as there are five league games left and we are in touch with the league leaders, who may slip up between now and the final day,” he stated.

“We will deal with other issues when the time is right. Right now, we are focused on the league.

“We are behind him and will support him in these last few matches of the campaign.”

Pogba: I've not spoken with anyone about my contract with Juventus

It had been claimed that Bianconeri have been doing their utmost to persuade the 20-year-old to commit himself beyond 2016 – but the midfielder insists otherwise

Paul Pogba says that he has not spoken to anyone about his future or signing a new contract at Juventus.

It has been reported that the Italian champions are desperate for the in-demand midfielder to extend his current deal in Turin, which runs until 2016, with speculation rife that Paris Saint-Germain are ready to launch a massive bid for the France international this summer.

However, Pogba says he is simply enjoying his time with the Old Lady and is touched by the fans’ desire to see him remain at Juventus Stadium.

“It makes me happy that the fans sing, ‘Don’t sell Pogba’,” he told Sky Sport Italia. “It gives me so much of a charge when I go onto the field.

“At the moment, though, I’m concentrated solely on the present. I’ve not spoken with anyone, neither about my future or my contract.”

Pogba was being interviewed after underlining his worth to Juve by netting the decisive goal in a 1-0 win over Bologna that put Antonio Conte’s men within two victories of retaining their Serie A title.

The 20-year-old admitted that he does not feel that he is currently being utilised in the best possible way but insists that he is willing to do whatever he is asked in order to help the Bianconeri make it three Scudetti in a row.

“On the pitch, I’m not totally playing in the position I prefer, but anywhere I play, I think only of giving 100 per cent,” he insisted.

“Along with my team-mates, I want to win this Scudetto with all my strength. We are close now, so we must continue in this way.”

Manchester City weighing up Muniain bid

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are exploring the possibility of an €18 million move for the Spaniard, whose contract expires in the summer of 2015

Manchester City are considering a summer move for Athletic Bilbao midfielder Iker Muniain, Goal understands.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side are keen to force Athletic’s hand, with the 21-year-old out of contract in June 2015, and have been given indications by the Spanish network at the club that he could be available for as little as €18 million.

Bilbao were hopeful of tying Muniain to a new deal, and inserting a sizeable €50m buy-out clause, but, with talks continuing to hit an impasse, the Liga club are concerned their prize asset could have his head turned.

Once billed as the next big thing in Spanish football, Muniain has dipped under the radar in the last couple of years and has failed to build on his one cap for Spain that he earned back in 2012 in a friendly against Venezuela.

Muniain currently earns €2.4m-a-year at San Mames, although City would be in a position to dwarf that amount should they successfully negotiate a fee with Athletic.

Pellegrini is confident that he can develop Muniain into a Premier League star, with the former Malaga boss having had a positive impact on Isco’s career before the 21-year-old made the move to Real Madrid in the summer.

City are keen to boost their numbers in attacking midfield areas where Muniain would slot in to challenge the likes of David Silva, Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas for a starting berth in the 2014-15 campaign.

As well as chasing Muniain, City are looking at Porto stars Eliaquim Mangala and Fernando, while Carvalho and Luke Shaw are also summer targets with the likes of Gareth Barry, Micah Richards and Jack Rodwell all likely to be moved on.