MPs criticise Jose Mourinho for taking RT's 'blood money'
BARCELONA -- Sergio Busquets says the Premier League's top sides are unable to offer Lionel Messi everything that he currently has in Barcelona.
Messi, 30, has been a target for a number of English sides throughout the years, with Manchester City the most recent to have tried to tempt him away from La Liga. However, he has always stayed true to Barca, where he has been since he first moved to Europe from Argentina as a 13-year-old.
"Messi's at home here in Barcelona," Busquets said in a news conference when asked what it would take to lure the five-time world player of the year to England.
"Financially he's well looked after, he's winning trophies -- collectively and individually -- living in a great city, surrounded by great players and part of a great project... All of that is positive and it would be difficult to match it anywhere else.
"Like myself, for players that have been brought up at [Barcelona], it's difficult to change. We know the Premier League is a spectacular league, we would like to play there, but if you weigh up all the positives and all the negatives, it's hard to leave Barca."
Man City appear to have given up any hope of signing Messi, anyway. The Argentina international signed a new contract earlier this season until 2021 and Barca CEO Oscar Grau have already said there's a deal for life waiting for him when he wants it.
"There is no possibility of signing him," City's executive director Ferran Soriano told reporters this week. "I know Leo and his family well and I know they are good in Barcelona, which is where he has to be. We will make our way without him, which will be more difficult because he is the best player in the history of football."
Messi missed Barcelona's 2-0 win over Malaga at the weekend following the birth of his third son, Ciro, on Saturday.
However, he returned to training on Monday and will start Wednesday's Champions League round-of-16 second leg against Chelsea at Camp Nou after scoring the equaliser in the first leg, which ended 1-1.
"I think Leo's going to be fine," Busquets added when asked if he anticipated Messi's mind wandering after becoming a father once again.
"Hopefully he's more motivated than ever. Physically he's great and I'm sure he will be relaxed. I hope he plays as he usually plays because he always makes the difference."
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.
Jose Mourinho's decision to work as a World Cup pundit for Kremlin-backed television channel RT has been strongly criticised by MPs following the Salisbury poisoning attack.
The Russian channel announced Mourinho as its main pundit for this summer's tournament a day after the incident in Salisbury, but the Manchester United manager has repeatedly refused to answer any questions about the role.
In a statement given to Press Association Sport, Rhondda MP Chris Bryant said: "To my mind, this is blood money, paid directly from the Russian state coffers."
RT, formerly known as Russia Today, has recently been attacked by politicians in France and the United States for pumping out propaganda in support of Russian president Vladimir Putin, and on Monday in parliament several MPs called for its UK broadcasting licence to be withdrawn.
While he is probably the best paid, Mourinho is not the only high-profile football figure associated with the controversial channel, as former players Stan Collymore and Peter Schmeichel also work for RT, as do several politicians, including George Galloway and Alex Salmond.
Former Scottish National Party leader Salmond faced similar criticism when he became a presenter for RT last year.
Bryant's message was backed by fellow Welsh Labour MP Stephen Doughty.
He told Press Association Sport: "It's not just MPs. Leading sports figures and commentators need to reflect carefully on whether they want to be associated with Putin's propaganda machine.
"RT has repeatedly conned viewers with a veneer of respectability, while taking its orders from the Kremlin.
"Serious questions are already being asked about participation in the Russian-hosted World Cup. I would urge leading football figures to rethink -- not least after this week's revelations -- whether their punditry on Putin's mouthpiece is appropriate."
The Football Association has declined to comment on what the UK's worsening relationship with Russia might mean for the World Cup but sources have told ESPN FC it should not impact England's plans to compete in the tournament.
Now in its second week, the controversy started when former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia fell seriously ill in Salisbury on March 4. It has now been confirmed that they were poisoned by a lethal nerve agent developed by the Russian military and they, and the first policeman on the scene, remain in a serious condition in hospital.
Broadcasting regulator Ofcom issued a statement on Tuesday, following Prime Minister Theresa May's update on the investigation to parliament on Monday, and said it would wait for her next public comments on Wednesday before considering "the implications for RT's broadcast licences."