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.


‘I Don’t Know Why Neymar Left Barca’ – Wenger

Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger has shown his displeasure and said it’s difficult to know why Neymar quit Barcelona for PSG

Wenger admits he’d like the Brazilian to set out why he chose to leave Barca.

“Neymar has never really said the reasons for his departure because he always insisted upon a great desire to play with the best players,” said Wenger.

“He decided to take another route, so for financial reasons, or because he thinks that PSG will replace Real Madrid or Barcelona, or for personal reasons, he may want to become the player to which PSG, the team, is turning to and he wants to be recognized as the best player in the world.”


Coutinho Chooses Playing Against Barcelona

Liverpool Philippe Coutinho has decided against playing up this week.

After seeing Liverpool refuse to sell him to Barcelona by last Friday, it was suggested Coutinho could refuse to return from Brazil, where he has been with the national team squad.

Sport says Coutinho discussed with family members about missing this morning’s flight and spending several days in Rio as a show of rebellion.

However, he jumped on the jet in Barranquilla alongside Reds teammate Roberto Firmino.

It’s claimed, meanwhile, that Liverpool officials know Coutinho could refuse to take part in the Champions League, so to encourage Barca to try again for him in January.


Suspected Barcelona Attackers’ Nabbed

Moroccan authorities have arrested a man suspected of supplying gas canisters to a jihadist cell that carried out a double attack in Catalonia on Aug. 16 that killed 16 people, a source from the Spanish investigation said.

According to the source, the cell accumulated around 120 canisters of butane gas at a house in a town south of Barcelona with which, police say, it planned to carry out a larger bomb attack.

Police believe the cell accidentally ignited the explosives on Aug. 16, the eve of the Barcelona attack, triggering a blast that destroyed the house in the town of Alcanar.

The remaining attackers then decided to use hired vans to mow down crowds along Barcelona’s most famous avenue and later mount an assault in the resort town of Cambrils.

Moroccan police arrested the man in the city of Casablanca, the source said, without giving further details.

Spain’s interior minister, Juan Zoido, said that Moroccan authorities had arrested two people linked to the attacks but declined to give details about them.

Spanish news agency EFE said the second man was arrested in the city of Oujda and was a relative of one of the members of the Barcelona cell.

The source did not confirm that.

Zoido, speaking after a meeting with the Moroccan interior minister in Morocco’s capital Rabat, said Spanish and Moroccan authorities were working closely together in the investigation.

Most of the suspected attackers were Moroccan and an imam suspected of radicalizing the cell traveled there shortly before the attack took place.

Six of the attackers were shot dead by police and two died in the explosion at the house in Alcanar.

Four other people were arrested over the assaults, two of whom have now been released under certain conditions.

Coutinho Yet To Make A Decision Between Barcelona And Liverpool

Philippe Coutinho is not expected to return to Liverpool, and he is being claimed by Barcelonia.

The midfielder has told friends that he is confident of the clubs Barca and Liverpool agreeing on  a fee while he is aways at the World Cup Qualifier in Brazil

Coutinho, who has not played so far this season, stunned Liverpool fans by taking part in full-scale training with Tite’s squad yesterday.

It’s suggested Barca are prepared to go to €160m to convince Liverpool to finally cash in on the midfielder.

And Coutinho has told confidants he is confident his time with Liverpool is now over


Barcelona Signs Dembele For £97m

Following the Departure of Neymar from the Spanish side, Barcelona have reached an agreement to sign Borussia Dortmund forward Ousmane Dembele for a club-record fee, making Dembele the first striker signed since Neymar’s move to PSG.

A Barcelona statement read, “FC Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund have reached an agreement for the transfer of Ousmane Dembele for €105m (£97m) plus add-ons. The player will sign a five year contract and his buy out-clause is set at €400m.”

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde, who is excited with the new signing said “He is a player who guarantees us depth, something that we have lost and that we need. He can play on the wing and also as a striker, and in that sense offers us many possibilities. He is fast, deep, technical and we hope he brings us many things.”

The 20-year-old Dembele is to arrive in Barcelona on Sunday and will undergo a medical on Monday before signing a five-year contract. He has been given squad number 11.

Barca Loans Midfielder To Las Palmas

Barcelona midfielder Sergi Samper will spend the rest of the season on loan at Las Palmas, both clubs announced on Thursday.

Once thought of as one of Barca’s brightest prospects, Samper, 22, has struggled to break into the first team, making just 12 appearances since his debut in 2014.

“A young player with potential, he fits the profile of the club to cover the central midfield position,” Las Palmas said in a statement.

Samper also spent last season out on loan at relegated Granada

Barcelona Set To Sign Dembele

Barcelona has agreed a fee for the transfer of Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele to Spain, ending a saga that led to the talented 20-year-old winger being suspended by the Bundesliga club, Germany’s Bild newspaper said on Thursday.

Citing unnamed sources the newspaper said Barcelona had agreed to pay Dortmund €120 million and up to €150 million depending on performance bonuses, making it the second most expensive signing ever.

The paper reported the deal was struck in Monaco where both teams’ representatives are present for the Champions League draw. It was unclear if contracts had been signed.

Brazilian Neymar joined Paris St Germain from Barcelona in a world record move worth €222 million earlier this month.

France international Dembele, who joined Dortmund last year from Stade Rennes in a €15-million deal running to 2021, had been forcing his move to Spain and had missed training earlier this month, leading to his suspension.

Barcelona Attack: Police Launch Manhunt For Terror Suspect

Following the terror attack in Barcelona that killed 13 people and injured over a 100 others, the police has  launched a manhunt for the teenager thought to be behind the attack.

Moussa Oukabir, 18, is said to have stolen his older brother’s identity documents to rent the white Renault van which later rammed into pedestrians on a busy street popular with tourists. His brother Driss Oukabir, 28, was initially named as a suspect but later handed himself to a police station in Ripoll, a town to the north of Barcelona, and told them his brother stole his ID.

Moussa Oukabir, a Spanish national of Moroccan heritage had earlier written a post online about “killing infidels”. The resident of Barcelona posted on social network Kiwi that if he was king of the world, his first act would be to “kill the infidels”. He uses his social media accounts to air hatred for non-Muslims.

Authorities in Spain believe the terror cell may have had up to 12 members. Five were shot dead by police during the second attack last night, another suspect was killed in an explosion in Alcanar. Meanwhile, ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks.


Just few hours after the initial attack that left 13 dead, there was another attack. Five men wearing fake suicide belts were shot dead by police after they launched a second terrorist attack in Cambrils, 70 miles southwest of Barcelona at 1 a.m. on Friday morning, injuring seven people by driving an Audi A3 into crowds on the seafront.


Barcelona Soon To Free Neymar For PSG After Payment

Neymar should be free to make his Paris Saint-Germain debut at Guingamp on Sunday after Barcelona confirmed on Friday the 222 million-euro ($261 million) cheque used to pay his buyout clause had cleared.

“The cheque has cleared and therefore puts in motion the process of the transfer,” said a Barcelona club source.

Barcelona must now deliver his transfer certificate to the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) who will then pass it to the French Football Federation (FFF) for the Brazilian to be registered.

The certificate has to arrive with the FFF before Sunday if Neymar is to take to the pitch at the Stade du Roudourou this weekend.

“Once we receive confirmation from Barcelona, the transfer (certificate) will be (sent) immediately,” a spokesperson for the RFEF told AFP.

Neymar’s move to the French giants that smashed the world record transfer fee was announced on August 3.

However, he had to watch last weekend’s 2-0 win over Amiens from the stands as the administrative formalities of the deal were not completed in time.

Despite the delay in registering one of the world’s best players, FFF president Noel Le Graet remained confident Neymar would be able to make his bow at the Stade du Roudourou.

“There is no reason for this hold-up to continue,” he told French sports daily L’Equipe.

“I do not doubt that this will be quickly solved.”