Saturday, 13 September 2008

Zabaleta rejected Barcelona offers

Madrid sports tabloid As claims that Manchester City right back defender and Argentinian international Pablo Zabaleta (23) was one of the main transfer targets of Barcelona this summer.

Barcelona would have offered the then Espanyol player a four year (plus an extra optional year) contract worth 2,2 million euro gross a year but Zabaleta rejected the offer up to four times.

Espanyol was not very willing to sell but let the player make a decision. Although he could join his close friend Messi, Zabaleta decided not to sign for Barcelona because of the rivalry between the two teams.

In the end, Barcelona transferred Sevilla right back Daniel Alves and in late August Zabaleta moved to the English Premier League. The Argentinian signed a five-year deal with Manchester City, that paid the buyout clause of 8 million euro°.

Read more:

[Crosas] Motherwell-Celtic Glasgow

With 0-4 at half time, Celtic won this afternoon against Motherwell with 2-4.

Former Barcelona midfielder Marc Crosas (20) made his debut in the starting eleven. Ten minutes before the end, he was replaced by Nakamura.

Since Barcelona can buy Crosas back in the summer of 2010 for two million euro (read more here), this blog will follow the performances of the midfielder over the next two years.

Sunday 10 August - League game 1: Celtic Glasgow-St Mirren 1-0
Non-selectable. Crosas has signed his contract and is presented to the fans before the match.

Sunday 17 August - League game 2: Dundee United-Celtic Glasgow 1-1

Saturday 23 August - League game 3: Celtic Glasgow-Falkirk 3-0
Substitute. Crosas replaces Brown in the 73rd minute (3-0).

Sunday 31 August - League game 4: Celtic Glasgow-Rangers 2-4

Sunday 17 August - League game 5: Motherwell-Celtic Glasgow 2-4
Starter. Crosas starts the game and is replaced by Nakamura in the 80th minute (2-4).

1. Rangers (5) 13
2. Celtic (5) 10
3. Kilmarnock (5) 10
4. Hamilton (5) 9
5. Hearts (5) 9

Match discussion: Barcelona-Santander

This evening at 8 pm bt, Barcelona plays its first home game of the season against Racing Santander.

Santander, that ended 6th last season and qualified for the Uefa cup, played 1-1 against Sevilla two weeks ago. Santander played with Toño, Pinillos, Garay, Marcano, Christian, J. López (74 Juanjo), Colsa, Lacen, Serrano (85' Sepsi), Munitis (51' Tchité), Pereira. Juanjo scored the 1-1, Garay missed a penalty.

Santander didn't win in the Camp Nou since the 1982-1983 season and didn't take a point with them from Barcelona since the 1995-1996 season.

Santander squad list:

Toño, Coltorti, Pinillos, Oriol, Marcano, Christian, Garay, Lacen, Colsa, Jorge Gonçalves, Edu Bedia, Oscar Serrano, Luccin, Valera, Jonathan Pereira, Juanjo, Munitis, Tchité

Barcelona squad list:
Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Abidal, Touré, Keita, Gudjohnsen, Xavi, Iniesta, Victor Sánchez, Busquets, Hleb, Eto'o, Messi, Bojan, Pedro

Before, during and after the match, you can comment on the game here.

Coaching staff preferred others over Garay

Asked about the failed transfer of Racing Santander central defender and Real Madrid loan out Ezequiel Garay (21), Barcelona president Joan Laporta has denied to journalists that the transfer was cancelled because Barcelona failed to pay a first part of the transfer fee:

"We didn't sign this player because the coaches thought we shouldn't. It's a great player and we knew that because the staff was following him. But then we had to make a decision and in the end they preferred other players. We didn't sign any agreement so we didn't fail to pay anything."

Laporta was reacting to Cantabria regional president Miguel Revilla, who had said in an interview with Catalan radio station Onda Cero Catalunya that Barcelona didn't pay the first part of the fee:

"Laporta asked my advice about Garay and I told him that Garay is extraordinary, both as a player and as a person and that he should transfer the defender as soon as possible. And that's what he did. They closed a deal for 14 million euro°. But then he didn't paid the first sum and Real Madrid came with ten million euro° cash and signed him because Racing had some financial problems at that time."

Racing Santander president Francisco Pernía meanwhile has said that Barcelona and his club hadn't signed anything yet.

Read more:
Cash shortage upsets Garay deal
Garay doesn't know why Barcelona transfer failed
Garay doesn't know why Barcelona transfer failed

Ex-Barça: Laudrup to Spartak Moscow

Spartak Moscow has yesterday officially presented former Barcelona player Michael Laudrup (44) as their new manager.

Laudrup, who resigned as manager of Spanish club Getafe after one season and who was also rumoured to be a candidate for the Barcelona bench (read more here), has signed an 18-month contract with the Russian club.

Arriving from Italian club Juventus in the summer of 1989, Laudrup played five seasons for Barcelona. In a controversial move, the attacking midfielder joined Real Madrid in 1994.

With Barcelona, Michael Laudrup won four Spanish leagues in 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994, one Spanish cup in 1990, two Spanish super cups in 1991 and 1992, one Champions League in 1992 and one European super cup in 1992.

Read more:
Everybody loves Michael

Barça B: Gai will be a key figure this season

Asked about the situation of Barcelona Atlètic left wing attacker and Israeli youth international Gai Assulin (17), Barcelona Atlètic assistant coach Joan Barbarà has told the club's official media that the staff counts on Gai to be one of the key players this season:

"Gai isn't yet physically at his best after an unusual pre-season and his stay with the Israeli national team over the last two weeks hasn't allowed him to work with the group. We don't plan to take risks and we want him to get totally in shape now. He's a decisive player so when he's physically on top, he'll be very important for the team."

Read more:

Friday, 12 September 2008

Messi included in Santander list

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola has announced a list of 20 players for the first home game of the season against Racing Santander tomorrow.

The list:
Valdés, Pinto,
Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Abidal, Sylvinho,
Touré, Keita, Gudjohnsen, Xavi, Iniesta, Victor Sánchez, Busquets, Hleb
Eto'o, Messi, Henry, Bojan, Pedro

Although Messi only returned today from international duty, he has been included in the list. Márquez, who also arrived today, was not included, like was Cáceres who still didn't touch ground (read more here).

Barcelona Athlètic midfielder Sergi Busquets, who has been training with the first team over the last three days (read more here), is amongst the twenty players. Jorquera and Milito are not available because of injuries. Two players will still have to be excluded from this list.

Valiente satisfied about move to Sevilla

Asked about his debut last weekend with second division team Sevilla Atlético, the second team of first division club Sevilla, former Barcelona Atlètic player Marc Valiente (21) said to Madrid sports tabloid As that it has been a positive experience:

"I just started training one week before but I felt really confident on the pitch. I arrived at a club and a city where everyone treats me very well.

I know some see me as the star transfer of the team and after having played some games as midfielder, people started to compare me with Guardiola but those are excessive words. I just work to be Marc Valiente without having to be compared to another football player. For now I'm just concentrating on Sevilla B and working for the team. But in the longer term, I indeed would like to be promoted to the first team."

Valiente had already said the same things in an interview with his club's official television channel earlier this week: "There was a lot of expectation because of my arrival. But what I want at this moment is to play the majority of the matches in the second division. If there's a possibility to make my debut with the first team, the better. But the main thing is that we now are all involved with the B team. A big club needs to aspire to have the B team at the highest possible level.

Sevilla is working really well with their youth players so I'm very grateful to the technical department of the club for giving me this chance. I really wanted to come here and therefore I'm happy. To keep on making progress I needed to make a step forward like this one. Although fourth and third division are very competitive too, the best thing to get better was to join Sevilla."

Because Barcelona has the right to buy Valiente back at the end of this season (read more here), this blog will follow the performances of the central defender during the season.

Read more:
Barça B - Official: Valiente to Sevilla B
Barça B: Valiente to Panathinaikos
Barça B: Pre-agreement with Sevilla on Valiente

Deco about exit (2): "Ex-teammates are happy"

In an interview with Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo, former Barcelona midfielder Deco (31) talked about his transfer from Barcelona to Chelsea this summer.

There's a big difference between Barcelona and Chelsea?
Both are big clubs with a lot of quality people. The main difference could be that I miss my Barcelona friends and team-mates, although that's compensated since here you have Belletti, Ricardo Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira, Bosingwa, Hilario and even Scolari, who - as Portugal national team coach - has been very important in my career. I feel already at home in London.

You didn't join your good friend José Mourinho at Inter.
The offer I got from Chelsea was in every aspect better than the one I got from Inter. I liked the project of Scolari and I cannot complain, it's a joy to play together with Lampard, Essien, Ballack, Joe Cole, Drogba, Terry and the others. We're gonna make life difficult for Inter and the other top clubs. We really want to go after the Champions League the club was so close to last season.

You already saw the new Barcelona in action?
Only during the Gamper game against Boca Juniors and I liked their spirit. The way they play, I already knew and I enjoyed it on the pitch as a player. That "style" is a tradition of Barcelona, no matter who is there.

What do you think of Guardiola?
I only know him from seeing him play and he was excellent doing that. The best thing I can say is that I regularly talk with my former team-mates and that they all say they're very happy with him, that they work hard, that they're satisfied and that things are looking good.

Meanwhile some people don't stop to talk negative about the period of Rijkaard...
Although it's not correct, it's partly a logical thing in the world of football. Everyone now wants to start a new era and forget the bad results. I sincerely think that time will end up doing justice to the Barcelona of Rijkaard, Ronaldinho and all the others. We won two Spanish leagues, one Champions League and we played excellent football.

You understand the criticism about the last years?
It surprises me a little. There was a time when everybody was hastily looking for guilty people so they could blaim some individuals and turn the page after having pointed at certain players. But I guess it's a normal thing in football when things aren't going well, when the results aren't there. What can you do about it, it's a football law.

(This was the second and last part of this interview. You can read the first part here)

Read more:
OFFICIAL: Deco to Chelsea
Barcelona involved in five summer top transfers
Deco's first weeks at Chelsea

Ex-Barça: Bonano retires

After cancelling his contract with Spanish second division club Alavés in January, former Barcelona player Roberto Bonano (38) announced his retirement as professional player earlier this year.

While doing some analysing jobs in the media, the former Argentinian international is now trying to obtain his coaching degree.

Arriving from Argentinian club River Plate in the summer of 2001, Roberto Bonano played two seasons for Barcelona. The goalkeeper moved to Murcia in 2003.

Read more:

Capel talks about his time at Barcelona

In an interview with Spanish football weekly paper Don Balón, Sevilla left winger and Spanish international Diego Capel (20), who also denied that he was close to leaving Sevilla this summer, talked about his one-season stay in Barcelona eight years ago.

When you were very young, you already tried your luck joining the Barcelona youth academy.
Yes, I went there when I was twelve years old. Although things didn't turn out fine, I don't regret what happened. I did what I felt I had to do back then, which was leaving Barcelona, because I just wasn't comfortable being away from home.

Which memories do you have from your time in Barcelona?
I know who the coach was and I know that Messi was already there, although in a higher category. They treated me extremely well but I had a bad time basically because I was coming from a very small town and was very attached to my family.

Being so far away from home with only twelve years old...
I cried a lot... Like everytime I spoke by phone with my mother or my father. I missed them , like I missed spending time with my friends, but I'm still very grateful to Barcelona.

I guess your second club now is Barcelona?
No, my second club also is Sevilla.

Was it frustrating for you that you had to leave a club like Barcelona?
At first I didn't even want to keep on playing football, but soon football was back in my life and I asked myself "What have you done now?!". But happily for me shortly after I started playing again with a local club, another big club like Sevilla became interested and gave me another chance to join their youth academy.

Read more:

B players keep on training with first team

While the internationals are coming back from their trips abroads, Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola kept on calling players from Barcelona Atlètic to join the training sessions over the past days.

On Wednesday, seven B players were invited over: right back defender Córcoles (23), left back defender Espasandín (23), midfielders Longás (24), Busquets (20) and Thiago (17) and forwards Nolito (21) and Maric (24). Yesterday and today, only Busquets remained with the senior squad.

Manchester City wants to buy Madrid president

Cristiano has said that his dream is to play with Madrid...
So you won't have him even if you offer him all the money in the world!!!

What a charming little guy...
I think I'll buy him so that he can make me laugh in my palace

(click the cartoon to enlarge)

Barça B - Official: Masip to Vilajuiga on loan

Barcelona has last week officially announced the transfer of Barcelona Atlètic goalkeeper Jordi Masip (19) to Spanish fourth division club Vilajuïga.

Masip, who played last year as reserve goalkeeper with the Juvenil A team and started the pre-season with Barcelona Atlètic (read more here), has joined the Catalan club on a one-year loan deal.

Read more:

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Deco about exit (1): "I left in mutual agreement"

In an interview with Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo, former Barcelona midfielder Deco (31) talked about his transfer from Barcelona to Chelsea this summer.

Don't you feel you left Barcelona in a rather negative and cold way?
No, absolutely not. It was a mutual agreement between the club and myself. They told me that they didn't count on me any longer, that I had to look for a club and that's what I did. You shouldn't try to analyse it too much. It was something strictly professional.

You don't regret not having been able to say goodbye to the fans?
I would have liked to do that, but it wasn't possible since things suddenly went quick, the European championships were there and soon after I joined Chelsea. But in any case, there's enough time and I think football will give me the chance to say goodbye in the Camp Nou to the fans who liked and respected me, like I did with them. They are the best thing about the club.

Are you serious here?
I'm really serious. The Barcelona fans always treated me very good until some rumours were maliciously spread about me. I can assure that I even played when I was injured, but all this is history now, there's no need to talk about it anymore. For me, Barcelona is an unforgettable memory. You know very well that I was longing to play with this club for a long time before. I could make my dream come true, win trophies and now life goes on.

You hoped for a different treatment by the board?
No, my relation with president Laporta has always been good and sincere. I realize very well that the club Barcelona is bigger than the people, the managers, the players, the officials, the press... The club is from the socios and will be there for many more years, while people will come and go. I can only say that I'm taking Barcelona with me in my heart.

Did you talk with Guardiola?
No, but it wouldn’t have changed anything since my future had already been decided upon. They publicly told that they didn’t count on me or Ronnie or Samu. Maybe they spoke a little too quick, as if they were in a hurry trying to find some guys that were guilty for the bad results.

(Tomorrow you'll have the second part of this interview.)

Read more:

Garay doesn't know why Barcelona transfer failed

In an interview with Catalan sports paper Sport, Racing Santander central defender and Real Madrid loan out Ezequiel Garay (21) talked for the first time about the fact that he was on the verge of joining Barcelona earlier this year before signing for Real Madrid (read more here).

How big was the disappointment when your transfer to Barcelona didn't go through?
I wouldn't want to call it disappointment. It's something from the past. It's true that I was very close to joining Barcelona, but for some reason the deal wasn't completed. I don't feel frustrated about that, I kept on working and was lucky to be able to move to Madrid.

Txiki called you to explain why the whole deal was cancelled?
No, I wasn't informed about the reasons. I guess they have their reasons, but I'm not aware of them. In any case, I'm grateful that a big club like Barcelona thought I could add something to their team. So I don't feel bad about it, I actually feel happy because they were interested.

Barcelona called you again when Milito got injured?
No, they didn't approach me another time. I only heard some rumours through the press. At that time, I was recovering from an injury myself, trying to get ready for the Olympic Games and I was picked up by Madrid.

You are especially motivated to play against Barcelona this weekend because you're owned by Real Madrid?
No, I will start the game with the same intensity as always. I will do the best I can, only thinking about my present club, Racing Santander. Barcelona's defeat in the first game could affect them but they have a lot of quality players who can decide a match. We must be aware about how to play against them if we want to get a positive result. We should wait for them to come, try to rob the ball off them and then quickly launch the counter attack.

Read more:
Why did Barcelona miss out on Garay?
Garay transfer is off
Case closed: Garay

Poll result: Defensive midfielder

This is the final result of this blog's Who should usually play as defensive midfielder? poll:

73% --- Yaya Touré
23% --- Seydou Keita
2% ---- Somebody else
2% ---- Don't know

More poll results:
Who should be our left winger?
Rating the new guys: Keita
Left wing attacker

Barça B: Gai coming to terms with non-promotion

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that Barcelona Atlètic left wing attacker and Israeli international Gai Assulin (17) is still struggling to come to terms with Barcelona manager Guardiola's decision not to promote him to the club's senior squad, but that the player remains confident that he will one day wear the uniform of a premier soccer club, hoping it will be with the same organization that has nurtured him for the past five years.

Asked about the fact that he wasn't promoted last summer, Gai said to the newspaper that he had a hard time but that he still hopes to reach the first team:

"At first, I was hurt that I wasn't moved up to Barcelona's senior team. I've lived there since I was twelve with my dad just for the moment that I would play at Camp Nou wearing the jersey of the best team in the world. But every time I became frustrated, I'd look around and see what a great club it was, what a career I could have, and I would tell myself 'Guy, you're at an amazing team and if you're strong, you can get to the top of world soccer'."

Read more:
Barça B: Gai feels ready for first team
Sporting Gijon wants Gai Assulin on loan
Gai disappointed about missing promotion

Arshavin didn't convince Guardiola

Barcelona site Pelikano claims that the transfer of Zenit Saint-Petersburg forward and Russian international Andrei Arshavin (27) didn't go through because Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola wasn't convinced of the qualities of the player.

Besides that, Metallurg Donetsk vice president Dimitri Sellyuk, the agent of Barcelona player Yaya Touré who acted as intermediary (read more here), would have tried to arrange an agreement with former Barcelona player and manager Johan Cruijff without fully informing Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain.

Read more:

International: Marquez leads Mexico to victory

Mexico won 2-1 against Canada. Captain Márquez, who handed the armband over to the retiring Cuauhtémoc Blanco who came on as a late sub, scored the 2-0 out of a corner kick.

1. Mexico (3) 9
2. Honduras (3) 6
3. Canada (3) 1
4. Jamaica (3) 1

The three goup winners and the three runners-up will form one group. The top 3 teams qualify for the 2010 World Cup. The 4th placed team enters a home-and-away playoff with the 5th placed South-American team.

Peru and Argentina drew one all in Lima. Messi played the whole game.

The match between Uruguay and Ecuador ended like it started. Cáceres played as left back defender.

1. Paraguay (8) 17
2. Brazil (8) 13
3. Argentina (8) 13
4. Chile (8) 13
5. Uruguay (8) 12
6. Colombia (8) 10
7. Ecuador (8) 9
8. Venezuela (8) 7
9. Peru (8) 7
10. Bolivia (8) 5

The top 4 teams qualify for the 2010 World Cup. The 5th placed team enters a home-and-away playoff with the 4th placed team North, Central America & Caribbean team.

International: Bojan makes debut for Spain

Spain won against Armenia with 4-0. Puyol, Xavi and Iniesta started the game. Bojan made his debut for Spain entering in the 65th minute. Xavi was replaced after 73 minutes. Iniesta gave the assists for the two first Spanish goals.

1. Spain (2) 6
2. Turkey (2) 4
3. Belgium (2) 4
4. Bosnia-Herzegovina (2) 3
5. Armenia (2) 0
6. Estonia (2) 0

France won against Serbia with 2-1. Abidal (as central defender) and Henry played the whole game. Henry scored the 1-0.

1. Lithuania (2) 6
2. Serbia (2) 3
3. Austria (2) 3
4. France (2) 3
5. Romania (2) 3
6. Faroe Islands (2) 0

Iceland lost against Scotland with 1-2. Captain Gudjohnsen scored the 1-2 on a penalty.

1. Netherlands (1) 3
2. Macedonia (2) 3
3. Scotland (2) 3
4. Norway (1) 1
5. Iceland (2) 1

Belarus won against Andorra with 1-3. Captain Hleb gave the assist for the 1-2 and got booked.

1. England (2) 6
2. Ukraine (2) 6
3. Belarus (2) 3
4. Croatia (2) 3
5. Kazakhstan (3) 3
6. Andorra (3) 0

The nine group winners qualify for the 2010 World Cup. The eight best runners-up will be paired into 4 home-and-away series with the four winners qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

International: Eleven players could come in action

Later today and early tomorrow, eleven Barcelona players could come in action with their national team, trying to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

7 pm
Henry, Abidal

7 pm

8.30 pm

10 pm
Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Bojan

10.40 pm

3 am

4.30 am

The time indications are "barcelona time". If you have seen one of these games, you can comment on them here.

Ex-Barça: Christanval without a club

Having been released by Fulham after an injury plagued 2007-2008 season, former Barcelona player Philippe Christanval (30) is at this moment still available on a free transfer.

Christanval had been playing for English Premier League club Fulham since 2005 but his expiring contract wasn't renewed this summer.

Arriving from French club AS Monaco in the summer of 2001, Philippe Christanval played two seasons for Barcelona. The French central defender returned to the French league in 2003 joining Olympique Marseille.

Read more:
Ex-Barça: Rochemback to Sporting
Ex-Barça: Frank de Boer to Dutch national team
Ex-Barça: Ernesto Valverde to Olympiacos

Hleb asks for two months to adapt

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona attacker and Belarus international Alexander Hleb (27) has recently met with Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola to tell his coach that he thinks he needs two more months to fully adapt to the Spanish league, Barcelona's way of playing and his new team-mates.

Guardiola understands the situation of the player and is pleased with Hleb's professional attitude and his will to adapt to the system put in place by the manager.

Read more:

Barcelona gets money from Sergio Garcia transfer

Since Barcelona was entitled to 20 per cent of the transfer fee if Zaragoza sold former Barcelona player Sergio García (25) (read more here), Barcelona will receive 1,6 million euro°, which could rise to 2 million euro°, as a consequence of the transfer of the player from Zaragoza to Betis Sevilla last week (read more here).

Beits and Zaragoza agreed a transfer price of 8 million euro° plus an additional 2 million euro°.

Aragón regional sports paper Equipo claims that the variables are depending on the striker playing at least 125 games for Betis in the next five seasons and the striker scoring at least 60 goals during that same period.

Zaragoza also keeps 25 per cent of the transfer rights of Sergio García although it's not clear what this means for Barcelona.

Read more:

Poll: Defensive midfielder

Barça B - Medical: Jeffren out for two months

Barcelona's official website has announced that further medical tests have indicated that Barcelona Atlètic wing attacker Jeffren (20) has an eight-centimeter muscle rupture in the abductor of his right leg.

Jeffren, who suffered the injury during last weekend's league game against Gramenet (read more
here), will be out of action for eight weeks. After four or five weeks of physiotherapy, he will focus on regaining his physical fitness and his muscle strength.

Read more:

International: Piqué, Pedro and Gai

Barcelona central defender Gerard Piqué(21) and Barcelona wing attacker Pedro (21) won yesterday with the Spanish Under-21 national team against Russia with 2-0.

In the 76th minute Piqué, who was the captain of the team, scored the second goal with a header out of a corner kick. Pedro was replaced after 72 minutes (1-0).

Barcelona Atlètic wing attacker Gai Assulin (17) played with Israel 0-0 against Germany. He was replaced in the 62nd minute.

Spain (as group winner) and Israel (as one of four best runner-ups) qualified for the play-offs. The winners from each two-legged tie, that will be played next month, will join hosts Sweden in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in June next year.

Copa Catalunya 1/2: Sant Andreu-Barcelona 3-1


Verdés (58 Romeu)
Polaco (46 Montoya)

Busquets (46 Rochina (75 Jonathan))

Zambudio (46 Rueda)
Víctor Vázquez

10 Edu Oriol 1-0
20 Busquets 1-1
29 Dani Martí 2-1
78 Edu Oriol 3-1

yellow cards
Víctor Vázquez



o e s p sa

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