Lionel Messi sensationally vetoes Everton transfer - report
By Alex Stevens
Lionel Messi has vetoed Barcelona’s attempts to re-sign Gerard Deulofeu from Everton, according to a report.
Spanish publication Diario Gol claim the Camp Nou great has delivered the firm message to club chiefs that they should not reactivate their option to sign winger Deulofeu for £10.2million this summer.
It is said that Messi told the Barcelona powerbrokers in a meeting that the club must concentrate on signing only elite players for each position and whom the team needs.
Diario Gol report that the Argentine maestro believes Deulofeu is only being pursued for business reasons to then be sold on for a profit in the future.
Barca secretary Robert Fernandez revealed at the weekend that the 23-year-old could move back to Camp Nou during the forthcoming window.
Subscribe to Football Insider TV now
The BBC Sport website claims that the Spanish champions have the option to sign Deulofeu for £10.2million during the forthcoming window.
The option was inserted into the deal that took the wide forward from Barcelona to Everton for £4.3million in the summer of 2015.
“The club are firmly considering the option to bring him back to play for the first team next season,” Barca sporting director Robert Fernandez confirmed to Catalan station TV3 on Sunday.
But Messi reportedly does not regard it as sensible to splash out on Deulofeu as he does not regard the right-winger to be of the requisite calibre.
Messi’s status at Barcelona gives him huge influence behind the scenes and it has been frequently reported in Spain that he has a major say in manager appointments and transfer targets.
Nevertheless, it would still be regarded as sensational were the all-time great to force a transfer U-turn that would directly impact a Premier League club.
Deulofeu is on loan at Serie A giants AC Milan until the end of the season after securing a temporary move away from Everton in the January window.
The Spaniard struggled for game time under Ronald Koeman in the opening half of the season but has been a mainstay of the Milan team.
The Spain international and Barcelona academy product initially joined Everton in the summer of 2013 in the first of two season-long loans.
He then joined permanently in 2015 on a three-year contract, with the deal stipulating set fees for Barcelona to re-sign him in the subsequent summers.
Deulofeu has impressed during his Milan loan spell, scoring two goals and supplying three assists in 13 games in all competitions.
His form at the San Siro earned him a second Spain cap last month which he marked by scoring in a 2-0 win against France.
In other Everton transfer news, there is friction at the club between manager Ronald Koeman and director of football Steve Walsh.