World Football Gossip Roundup: Lionel Messi, Wesley Sneijder, Mario Balotelli
The football world held its collective breath on Wednesday night. On Thursday morning, it was ready to exhale.
Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi left his team's Champions League match against Benfica on Wednesday with what appeared to be a serious knee injury. The latest reports indicate Messi should be fine.
That story leads this Thursday edition of the B/R World Football Gossip Roundup. Inside, we have updates on Wesley Sneijder, Avram Grant and Hulk.
There's also a little story about Mario Balotelli and the Mona Lisa. Read on to find out what that means.
Lionel Messi Latest
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Superstar forward Lionel Messi suffered a "bone contusion on the outside of his left knee" on Wednesday night, during Barcelona's Champions League match against Benfica, according to FCBarcelona.com.
The club's official website also said Messi will undergo further tests on the knee. His status for this weekend's La Liga match against Real Betis is uncertain.
Messi, 25, is one goal behind Gerd Müller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year.
Barca manager Tito Vilanova has defended the decision to play Messi in Wednesday's match despite Barcelona having already won the group.
Messi playing 30 minutes was talked through, it was part of his physical training programme. You can also get injured in training. I gave him the last 30 minutes because it was a good workout and he loves competing. I would do it again.
Bayern Munich Not Interested in Wesley Sneijder
Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes says the Bavarian club is not interested in signing Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder (via Goal.com).
Sneijder, 28, is thought to be available after a contract dispute with Inter Milan. Manchester City and Manchester United are reportedly interested.
Heynckes said: "There's absolutely no truth in these reports. If we would sign every player who's being linked with a move to Bayern, we would end up with more players than Wolfsburg!"
Avram Grant Not Returning to Chelsea
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Former Chelsea manager Avram Grant says he is not returning to the club to assist Rafael Benitez (via The Guardian).
Grant managed Chelsea from 2007 to 2008, leading the Blues to the 2008 UEFA Champions League final. He had been linked with a return to the West London club, but has ruled it out.
"Nobody from Chelsea has offered me this job," Grant said. "I heard a rumour but I think this is not what's important. What's important is Chelsea have a manager and the club need to support him and not look for any other things."
Hulk Ready to Leave Zenit?
Hulk is ready to leave Zenit St. Petersburg in January after having "a conflict" with manager Luciano Spalletti (via RT).
Hulk, 26, joined Zenit from Porto in a deal reportedly worth £32 million (via BBC Sport).
According to RT, Hulk was "outraged" at being substituted out of Zenit's Champions League match against AC Milan on Tuesday. He declined to shake Spalletti's hand after leaving the field.
Video of the incident can be seen here.
According to Metro, Chelsea are interested in signing the Brazilian forward.
Mario Balotelli as Valuable as the Mona Lisa?
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Mario Balotelli's agent says no Italian team can afford the Manchester City striker. The reason: Balotelli is "as valuable as the Mona Lisa." (via The Guardian).
Balotelli, 22, joined Manchester City in 2010 from Inter Milan. The report links AC Milan to a January move for Balotelli, but agent Mino Raiola has said Milan have no chance to sign him.
"No Italian club could afford him," Raiola said. "Balotelli is as valuable as the Mona Lisa, and City have been very clear. They don't want to sell."