New Barca Signing, Coutinho Injured As Brazilian Completes Record Move

Philippe Coutinho will not be able to make his debut for Barcelona until the end of January because he has a thigh injury, the club said on Monday.

“Coutinho has an injury to his right thigh and he is expected to be out for around three weeks,” Barcelona said on their website.

Coutinho, 25, was officially unveiled by Barca on Monday, completing a 160-million-euro ($192 million) move from Liverpool, making it the third richest transfer in history.

The Brazilian midfielder could in theory make his debut on January 28 when Alaves visit the Camp Nou in La Liga.

AFP

Barcelona blow away Madrid in El Clasico

Barcelona opened up  a huge 14-point lead over Real Madrid,  the European and world champions after beating them 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

Goals from Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Aleix Vidal made sure that Madrid will no longer be contesting for the title this season.

In a recurring theme of this season Madrid were made to pay for Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema missing first-half chances as Barca took control after half-time.

Suarez rounded off a flowing counter-attack to open the scoring before Messi blasted home a penalty after Madrid defender Dani Carvajal was sent-off for punching the ball off the goal line.

And Messi was the creator as Vidal rubbed salt into Real’s wounds deep into stoppage time.

Victory extends Barca’s unbeaten run to 25 games in all competitions as they moved nine points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid and exacted revenge for a 5-1 thrashing on aggregate in the Spanish Super Cup at the hands of Real in August.

Madrid do still have a game in hand over Barca to marginally reduce the gap at the top, but their efforts in the new year are now likely to be more focused on becoming the first side to win three consecutive Champions League titles in over 40 years.

Barcelona players: after the victory in Madrid

Despite the clash between the Spanish capital’s and Catalonia’s two giants taking place just two days after three parties favouring independence for the prosperous region from Spain retained an absolute majority in the Catalan parliament, there was little attention paid to politics inside the ground once the action got underway.

Madrid fans unfurled a huge banner proclaiming it to be a “white Christmas” after they claimed a club record five trophies in 2017.

However, it is Barca who will enjoy the upcoming winter break more after a second-half display which showed the turning of the tide their way since August has been no fluke.

It could have been very different for the hosts if Cristiano Ronaldo had buried a huge opportunity when he completely mis-kicked just 10 minutes in.

NAN

Ex-Chelsea Boss Di Matteo Keen To Return To Management

Former Chelsea and West Brom boss Roberto di Matteo insists he wants to return to management.

The 47-year-old has been out of work since being sacked by Aston Villa last year.

“You feel it after a while – you feel you want to have that fire in your belly again,” he told Sky Sports. “I’m going to manage again, it’s just a question of time.

“I’ve had loads of offers; in fact, the more you tell people you’re not really interested in a coaching position, the more offers you get it seems.

“I speak a few languages and I’m always looking to learn and expand my horizons so I’m open-minded.”

 

 

Source: Tribal Football

Juventus To Snatch Coutinho Transfer From Barcelona

Juventus are sensationally jumping into the battle for Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho.

The subject of intense interest from Barcelona, PSG and Real Madrid ahead of the January market, Coutinho is now being offered a return to Italy.

Juve, reports Don Balon, want to being the former Inter Milan midfielder back to Serie A – and are prepared to outbid all rivals for the Brazil international.

Less than 18 months after paying over €90m to land Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli, Juve are now prepared to pay a stunning €175 MILLION to convince Liverpool to sell Coutinho.

Juve recognise their midfield needs renewing and are prepared to build their system around Coutinho.

The offer is far superior to what Barca are willing to offer – a €140m proposal, though with €80m up front and the remainder dependent on bonuses.

 

 

Source: Barcalens

Barcelona, Real Madrid Keen On Signing Mata

Manchester United risk losing Juan Mata at the end of the season.

The Spain international comes off contract in June and is yet to settle on new terms.

Diario Gol says Mata is wanted back in Spain, where Real Madrid and Barcelona are both keen.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde is a fan and believes Mata would fit seamlessly into his midfield next season.

Real, meanwhile, are also keen, with Mata a former Castilla player. Real coach Zinedine Zidane has discussed moving for the midfielder with president Florentino Perez.

For his part, Mata is keeping all options open. The veteran is free to sign a pre-contract with any foreign club from January 1.

 

 

Source: Barcalens

Messi Rates Ozil Ahead Of Coutinho

Barcelona ace Leo Messi rates Arsenal attacker Mesut Ozil ahead of Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho.

Both attackers have been linked with Barca ahead of the January market.

And Don Balon says Messi has told Barca chiefs to consider signing Ozil next summer instead of Philippe Coutinho.

Messi feels Ozil would be a smarter buy compared to the Liverpool playmaker.

The German is off contract in June and still to settle on new terms with the Gunners.

Liverpool, meanwhile, rejected three bids from Barca in the summer for Coutinho, 25, and rate him at €200m.

 

‘Barca Won’t Be Used As Political Tool’

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu insisted on Saturday the Catalan giants cannot be used on either side of a political battle over Catalonia’s drive to gain independence from Spain.

A powerful symbol of Catalonia across the world, Barca have been caught in the political crossfire in the weeks following an independence referendum, deemed illegal by Madrid, was marred by violence.

“We are not an instrument to be manipulated for political interests, whatever they may be,” Bartomeu told club members at Barca’s annual general meeting. “Nobody can appropriate our badge or flag.”

The club has backed Catalonia’s right to self-determination but refused to position themselves on either side of the independence debate.

And Bartomeu showed his support for Catalonia’s institutions after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced on Saturday that Madrid will move to dismiss Catalonia’s separatist government and call fresh elections in the semi-autonomous region.

“Barcelona has always stood by the people of Catalonia and its institutions,” added Bartomeu.

“So today, on the application of article 155, we must reiterate our absolute support for the democratic institutions of Catalonia chosen by its people.

“Now, more than ever we must act with serenity. Any reaction must be civil and peaceful. In the stadium too.”

IMPRISONMENT ‘UNACCEPTABLE’

Bartomeu took an unpopular decision to play Barca’s match against Las Palmas behind closed doors on October 1, the day of the referendum, after La Liga refused to postpone the match.

He described that decision as “one of the hardest” he has made in his three years as president but insisted Barca were not losing touch with their core Catalan fanbase.

“No one can doubt Barca’s commitment to the Catalan community. We defend the principles of democracy, the right to decide and free expression.”

Bartomeu condemned the imprisonment of two pro-independence civil society leaders, Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, on charges of sedition.

“It is unacceptable that in this century there are people in prison for their political ideas.”

However, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural groups, led by Sanchez and Cuixart respectively, rejected invitations to the directors’ box at the Camp Nou for Barca’s Champions League match against Olympiakos on Wednesday in protest at the club’s neutral stance.

The other major point of order for Bartomeu was the passing of Barca’s accounts for the 2017/18 season that are expected to reach a club record income of 897 million euros ($1.06 billion).

And Barca’s accounts are set to be further boosted by a naming rights deal to aid the cost of a 600-million-euro renovation project for the Camp Nou and surrounding areas.

“The negotiations to find a name for the Camp Nou are going well,” said Bartomeu, before adding an extraordinary meeting will be called in the first half of 2018 for members to vote on the naming rights deal.

And having tied down club captain Andres Iniesta to a contract for life at the Camp Nou, members called for the same deal to be handed to five-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi.

The Argentine agreed with a new four-year deal in principle in July but is yet to put pen to paper with his current deal expiring at the end of the season.

“Messi has renewed for four years, but the club will offer him a contract for life,” said Barca’s CEO Oscar Grau.

 

 

Source: SuperSport

Barcelona Must Change Its Flawed Transfer Policy

When one thinks about the best clubs in Europe, Barcelona, inevitably, is mentioned among the top three. It has prestige, along with a proven track record of winning every trophy over past decade. Whether under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, Tito Vilanova, or Luis Enrique, Barca always remained one of the most recognizable teams in world football. That trend is continuing this season with Ernesto Valverde at the helm.

However, the situation is far from perfect for the Catalan giants. Arch-rivals, Real Madrid has won three of last four Champions League titles. Not too long ago it was Barcelona ruling Europe, but things changed. The club must correct several ongoing issues to reclaim its position at top of ladder, notably the signing policy. Some recent Barca recruits have failed to perform as expected. In fact, several can be called flat-out disappointments.

One example is Andre Gomes. The Portugal international is among the most talented box-to-box midfielders in Europe, and his displays for the national team have been decent. He hasn’t replicated those performances playing for Las Blaugranas though. Gomes often looks tired, lazy and, at times, physically lightweight in both La Liga and the Champions League. Maybe he’s simply not on the same level as his Barca teammates, resulting in the midfielder looking like a worse player than he actually is.

Barcelona might sit top of both La Liga and UEFA Champions League standings, but serious issues affecting the club remain. One being its signing policy. Andre Gomes is a culprit in that regard.
Andre Gomes not the only disappointment, though…

In recent times, there are other cases which indicate that Barcelona hasn’t spent its money wisely. Thomas Vermaelen and Jeremy Mathieu never settled; both defenders spent more time off the pitch than on it. And Lucas Digne, former Paris Saint-Germain left-back, hasn’t provided strong competition to Jordi Alba.

Although it’s still early to analyse Paulinho and Nelson Semedo, as both joined Camp Nou during summer, the initial assessment isn’t positive. Semedo has played regularly but is outperformed by his teammate, Sergi Roberto – who isn’t even a natural fit at right-back – and Paulinho has been unable to compete with Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic for a starting spot in central midfield.
Barcelona might sit top of both La Liga and UEFA Champions League standings, but serious issues affecting the club remain. One being its signing policy.

Additionally, Barcelona’s lack of activity in summer transfer window must be noted. After receiving over £200 million when Neymar jumped ship to join PSG, the hierarchy failed to adequately replace the Brazilian star. Los Cules couldn’t strike a deal to land any of their preferred targets -Philippe Coutinho and Paulo Dybala both rejected a move.

Gerard Deulofeu did rejoin, but his arrival was eclipsed by Ousmane Dembele’s £97 million transfer to Nou Camp. The French youngster looked like a decent signing, however, the former Dortmund star played only three games before getting injured. Sometimes bad luck plays a factor too.

The Catalan giants possess some of the world’s best footballers, but the team’s core won’t last forever. One thing is clear: the club must take action, quickly. Unless the transfer strategy is improved, Barcelona risks losing its long-established privileged position among Europe’s elite clubs.

 

Source: Its Round and Its White

Real Star Feels More Superior Than Messi

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo can’t see Barcelona rival Leo Messi succeeding in the Premier League.

Messi is being linked with a world record €400m move to Manchester City today as his new contract remains unsigned.

And Don Balon says Ronaldo thinks the Barcelona star would struggle to handle life in England’s top flight.

Ronaldo views himself as the superior player because of what he achieved during his time at Manchester United.

Indeed, he feels Messi has had it easy at Barcelona.

He came through the club’s famous La Masia academy and has always had a team full of stars around him.

 

 

Messi Ease Bartomeu Tension, Demolish Juventus

 Josep Maria Bartomeu, Barcelona president hailed Lionel Messi as the best player of all-time as the Argentine raised the mood at the crisis-ridden Catalan giants with a double in a 3-0 thrashing of Juventus to start their Champions League campaign.

Lionel Messi also set up Barca’s second, scored by Ivan Rakitic, as Barca exacted revenge for their 3-0 quarter-final defeat by Juventus in last season’s Champions League quarter-finals.

Bartomeu has faced repeated calls for his resignation after Neymar’s world record move to Paris Saint-Germain last month and Barca’s bungled attempts to replace the Brazilian in the transfer market.

Moreover, Messi is yet to sign an extension to his contract, which is due to expire in June, despite Bartomeu’s insistence that an agreement in principle has been reached with the player.

“Leo Messi is unique, he is the best player in the history of football and he has shown that again in the Champions League,” Bartomeu told Spanish TV station MEGA.

“He shows us in every game, that is why he is the best.”

Messi has also led Barca to a perfect start in La Liga after three games, to open up an early four-point lead over rivals Real Madrid.

And Bartomeu claimed Barca’s start to the season was the reason for the club’s members to reject a vote of no confidence motion against him launched by a former presidential candidate Augusti Benedito.

“The vote of no confidence is something that a member is trying to get off the ground,” added Bartomeu.

“He is within his right to do so, but I don’t think there are the extraordinary conditions for such a motion.

“There is no sporting crisis because we have started the project with Ernesto Valverde very well. Economically the club is in rude health with a record turnover.”

Valverde has suffered plenty at the hands of Messi in his coaching career at Espanyol, Valencia and Athletic Bilbao before being given the reigns at the Camp Nou.

And he admitted it is far easier being on the same side as the five-time World Player of the Year after his first taste of Champions League action as Barca boss.

“I have suffered many times playing against Messi and now I have the luck to have him on my side,” said Valverde.

“We know that when he gets the ball anything can happen. Today he opened up the game in one moment where no one saw the gap and he found it.”

Valverde has already experienced the ups and downs of his new role just over a month into the season as his reign started with a 5-1 thrashing by Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup before a run of four straight victories.

“In football when you lose it seems like you are never going to win and when you win that you will always win,” Valverde added, warning against complacency.

“Inside the club, we need to maintain calm because we know how difficult every game is.”

Jan Move For Coutinho Not Visible If Seen In Champions League – Barcelona

Barcelona has told Philippe Coutinho they won’t be back for him in January if he turns out in the Champions League.

Despite Coutinho making a transfer request at Liverpool, Barca failed to sign the Brazil international last month – much to the player’s frustration.

Don Balon says Barca and Coutinho have maintained contact since the market shut, with the Catalans assuring the player they remain keen.

However, it’s also been relayed to the midfielder that a January deal will hinge on him not being Cup-tied from the Champions League.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has already stated Coutinho is “available” for their group opener against Sevilla.