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

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

South American Soccer

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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