Exclusive: PSG confident on Messi deal, why Firmino is leaving Liverpool + what next for Brighton duo?–Ben Jacobs

Inter Miami have held an interest for quite some time and put in some legwork. Their manager Phil Neville even recently admitted the club would love to sign Messi and Sergio Busquets. I understand Inter Miami’s hierarchy were not too impressed when Neville fuelled the fire.


Inter Miami are the type of club to be quite patient and flexible with Messi since it’s clear their pitch, and MLS more broadly, is of appeal one day, especially with the 2026 World Cup taking place in America. Plus if Messi did join he could get incentives included for life after football, including a potential ownership stake in Inter Miami and even rights to his own franchise. MLS commissioner Don Garber has hinted a deal similar to when David Beckham joined Los Angeles Galaxy may be possible, even though he’s previously laughed off suggestions that type of transfer would happen again.

My understanding is Firmino now sees the array of the forwards at the club and decided a new challenge is best because he has a strong appetite to be starting the majority of games.


Liverpool have brought in Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez, and Salah – contrary to reports linking him with PSG – isn’t going anywhere this summer. And there’s Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota.


Firmino doesn’t have another club lined up yet. I understand suitors who made enquiries were all told he wouldn’t engage whilst contemplating Liverpool’s offer, and out of respect for the club.

more. There are many top midfielders likely to move this summer, including West Ham’s Declan Rice and Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham. Caicedo and his new agents (appointed in mid-January) realised this during the last window. That’s why there was such an aggressive push for a January transfer since Rice and Bellingham were not on the market.


Caicedo may not be in quite as much demand in summer, and there’s no guarantee Brighton will get an offer as high as £70m, but that’s where the extended deal could help. What is obvious is Caicedo hasn’t suddenly decided in a matter of weeks that a move to one of the Premier League’s top clubs is no longer a “magnificent opportunity”. So his new deal doesn’t take a summer transfer off the table. It just makes it even harder to negotiate with Brighton. And let’s not forget Brighton are also a top club, with a great culture and manager and pushing for a European finish.


So there are a few variables here to consider. Firstly, if Brighton do make Europe Caicedo could yet decide to put a transfer on ice. Then the two suitors from January, Arsenal and Chelsea, both want Rice ahead of Caicedo. The Gunners are arguably favourites for the West Ham midfielder, who has spoken glowingly about Mikel Arteta and would prefer to stay in London.


As I have said many times, Rice will have plenty of suitors and although David Moyes claims he should be worth more than Enzo Fernandez’s British-record fee (£107m), a price tag of £75-80m is what suitors think feasible, especially with West Ham resigned to losing Rice. It’s not to say clubs wouldn’t consider Rice and Caicedo, or whoever misses out on Rice won’t go for Caicedo instead. But there won’t be the same scramble due to other targets available and far more time in the window.


With Caicedo, keep an eye on Newcastle as well. Liverpool would need the price to drop from January to seriously consider entering the race. They have tracked Caicedo since his time at Independiente del Valle and now the agent situation is less complicated, they can’t be entirely discounted. Liverpool are looking at many midfielders, including Wolves’ Matheus Nunes. And their big push (in terms of desire and finances) will be for Jude Bellingham, where confidence remains despite heavy competition.


Those familiar with Caicedo talks in January still maintain he should be worth less than the £70m guaranteed fee Real Madrid paid Monaco for Aurelien Tchouameni, but Brighton will milk the inflated market if they do choose to finally engage. Ultimately, they have all the control now at least as far as summer is concerned.

A slightly cheaper option from Brighton could be Mac Allister. Manchester City and Manchester United have discussed him internally, but nothing more than that at this point. Liverpool and Chelsea are ones to watch as well. Mac Allister is contracted until 2025 with an option to extend by one year. And off the back of him winning the World Cup with Argentina we are seeing some pretty high figures flying around.


Although Brighton don’t directly offer quotes to suitors for players they don’t plan to sell, insiders suggest £60m+ is what the Seagulls may expect. That’s quite a lot more than the numbers suitors have him valued at dating back to both January and before the World Cup, with valuations ranging from £27-35m. I think that type of bid now would get laughed out the room. But as the World Cup hype wears off, and his contract runs down slightly, let’s see how Brighton react to incoming bids. Mac Allister, at this point I am told, will assess his options come summer. Although he speaks glowingly about the Premier League, he is not against going to another European league. His priority is playing Champions League football regularly.


Whereas with Caicedo there were clubs willing to bid big in January (so often a seller’s market), those wanting Mac Allister will need to bridge a valuation gap that’s really quite large right now. And much like with Leipzig not wanting a mass exodus, Brighton surely won’t allow Caicedo and Mac Allister to go in the same window.


Both players are currently focused on qualifying for Europe either via the league or the FA Cup. And if Brighton succeed it’s not unthinkable they’ll keep hold of both. If January showed anything, it’s that the Brighton owner Tony Bloom and chief executive Paul Barber won’t be forced to do anything that’s not right for them.


The way Brighton handled Mac Allister (getting him to commit before the World Cup) and Caicedo was really smart. So although both players are on multiple clubs radars, if a summer sale for either happens it will basically be a fantastic bit of business for Brighton. This may mean clubs like Chelsea – if prepared to get a player at all costs like with Fernandez – stand more of a chance than those with slightly more disciplined or conservative negotiation tactics.

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