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Papers: Chelsea rule out Messi, Man United injury crisis ends

Union impossible ... Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi

09/01/2015 00:00:00
by Agencies
Injury crisis over ... Man United manager Louis van Gaal

CHELSEA have distanced themselves from the prospect of making a £500million move for Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

The Premier League leaders have been linked with Messi following claims in Spain this week that the 27-year-old's relationship with Barca coach Luis Enrique has broken down.

Assistant-coach Steve Holland believes the sums involved in luring Messi away from the Nou Camp make the transfer impossible for any club.

Facing the media in place of absent manager Jose Mourinho, Holland said on Friday: "Jose has made it quite clear that in this window his expectation is that nobody comes and nobody goes.

"I recall him this time last year saying a similar thing, but a couple of things happened that made us reactive.

“Manchester United made a huge bid for Juan Mata. Sometimes you have to react. But the hope and expectation is that nobody leaves and nobody comes. We're happy with what we have.

"This club conforms with financial fair play - we've brought one or two players in over the last 12 months but it's quite clear that players have been sold to balance the books.

"When you look at the numbers being mentioned around the Messi deal, I think it's almost an impossible deal for any club working within the restraints of financial fair play."

Holland spoke to the media after Mourinho had withdrawn from the press conference to preview Saturday's Premier League clash with Newcastle at Stamford Bridge in response to be being charged with misconduct by the Football Association.

Key man ... Chelsea will be looking to inform Eden Hazard when they take on Newcastle

Mourinho faces possible disciplinary action for the comments made about match officials after last month's 1-1 draw with Southampton, in which he spoke of a "clear campaign" against Chelsea.

The Portuguese claimed the campaign is being orchestrated by "people, pundits, commentators and coaches from other teams" and labelled the booking of Cesc Fabregas for diving at St Mary's on December 28 a "scandal".

Holland insists Mourinho has not been affected by the possibility of facing disciplinary action and insists he has the full support of the club.


"Jose has been fine, very focused on the game against Newcastle, as we all are," Holland said.

"There is a frustration with all of us, it's not just Jose but the coaching staff and players, at the accumulation of events that surfaced at the Southampton game with the decisions over Cesc. And to compound that he received a booking.

"The scrutiny managers are under these days... I spoke to another manager the other day about a different matter and he said he couldn't remember there being such an intensive period of games as this season.

"That's a view I'd share. The amount of games has been relentless and there has been a small period of time between the games.

"At Chelsea every match is high profile with many live on TV. It's human nature that at times the leader has those moments. Jose's had the right influence on the players and is a highly-experienced manager."

Chelsea have seen an eight-point lead at the summit of the Premier League reeled in by Manchester City and now top the table on alphabetical order alone ahead of Newcastle's visit.

"When you have a lead like we had, people make a lot of it. And when that lead goes, people make a lot of that," Holland said.

"Nobody here felt it was ever a conclusive margin that meant the story was over. This is the most competitive league in the world. At any moment points can be dropped.

"We're disappointed we don't have more of a cushion now, but at the same time the players have had an incredible first half of the season."

United injury crisis is finally over – LVG

WITH just one player left on Manchester United's injury list and a new goalkeeper signed, manager Louis van Gaal is starting to enjoy life at Old Trafford as he tries to assemble the "best team in the world".

Third-placed United, unbeaten in their last 11 matches in all competitions, host fourth-placed Southampton at Old Trafford on Sunday with just a point separating the sides after 20 matches.

United were plagued by injuries at the start of the season but the treatment room has an emptier feel now as a number of first-team players close in on returns.

Luke Shaw, who signed from the Saints during the close season, is fit to face his former club after recovering from an ankle injury and midfielder Daley Blind has shaken off a knee problem he sustained in November.

Back from the treatment rooms ... Man Utd midfielder Daley Blind

Argentine defender Marcos Rojo will return to training on Saturday, leaving Ashley Young, who has a hamstring problem, as United's only injury concern.

"We have only one player injured. Can you believe it? Only one," Van Gaal told a news conference on Friday.

"Another point is, of course, match rhythm, but everybody is healthy and can play except Ashley Young who is out for four to six weeks.

"I have to select for the first team in my career at Manchester United the 11 and the 18 players.

"But I have to watch the qualities of Southampton, how I can reduce that quality by my line-up but also by our game-plan."

United signed former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes on a free transfer on Thursday and the Spaniard will compete with compatriot David De Gea for the No 1 spot at Old Trafford.

"We were the first to buy a player. We were very quick to buy Victor Valdes. You notice? Manchester – we deal quickly. When we can, we deal quickly," Van Gaal said.

"My ambition is that I have the best players who can cooperate with each other to form the best team in the world.

"I had the chance to see him and his behaviour in rehabilitation but also if his quality was still the same. He has confirmed both and that is very important for me."

United beat Southampton 2-1 at St Mary's last month, Robin van Persie scoring both goals to secure a somewhat fortuitous victory against the run of play.

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