Saturday 4 July 2009

Quote of the day: Busquets

We'll be the team to beat next season.

Sergio Busquets, Barcelona player

Picture of the day: Villa and Laporta

Barcelona president Joan Laporta had a friendly chat with Valencia players David Villa and Juan Mata during the Formula One race in Barcelona on 10 May.

Expensive Mascherano is not a priority

Madrid sports tabloid Marca claims that Liverpool has asked Barcelona a transfer fee of 50 million euro° for Liverpool defensive midfielder and Argentine international Javier Mascherano (25).

Although Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain would have reached a pre-agreement after having met with the player's agent a few days ago, Barcelona wouldn't be willing to pay that fee, certainly because the player isn't a priority for the club.

Mascherano would in fact be the last name on the wish list of Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola, who supposedly first wants to sign a centre forward, a left winger, a central defender and a full-back.

Read more:
Meeting on Mascherano in Barcelona
The report of Txiki (2) : Mascherano priority
Barcelona preparing bid for Mascherano

The Season of FC Barcelona

by Steven Bauer for

(Translated by LeónDragón)

The season for FC Barcelona couldn't had been better. The team from the Catalan metropolis won not only the Spanish Championship, but also the Champions League and
the Copa del Rey. Many speak of the best Barcelona team of all times, so it's no wonder that the players deserve excellent grades.

Goal - Grade: Good
Victor Valdés had a very good season, but couldn't manage to become the undiscussed man between the posts. No matter how many nice saves will stay in people's memory, the mistakes will also be unforgotten since they can change a game too. Even if he ain't got the class of an Iker Casillas or Gianluigi Buffon, Guardiola has faith in him and will hold on to him. He will stay as his number one for the next season.

Defence - Grade: Very Good
The defence of Barcelona was in the past not always the best, so much the more it's
important to emphasize the defensive performance of the last season. Despite the
offensive style of play, Barca had many games with a clean sheet and was with 35 goals against them the best defensive team of La Liga. Also in the Champions League, the defence proved his worth. Only Abidal is believed to be a weak point.

Midfield - Grade: Very Good
No need for much words about the midfield. Touré Yaya, Xavi, Andrés Iniesta: the best midfield worldwide. Especially the accuracy, precision and overview of the midfield-actors were a reason for the success of the Catalans last season. Xavi as well as Iniesta are considered to be unsellable, as they don't even think about leaving the club.

Forward - Grade: Very Good
105 goals in 38 League-games are an incredible achievement, but when you take a look
at the strikers, is all becomes clear. Samuel Eto'o, Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi have the skills to make every defence feel giddy. Eto'o, one of the most successful strikers in Europe, Henry, who found back his old form and no need to say a lot about Messi. Only the eye for the goal needed a little improvement in some games.

Coach & Management - Grade: Very Good
Summer 2008, after two bad seasons under Rijkaard, followed a rebuilding phase. Stars were sold, others bought and Pep Guardiola was appointed as the new head coach. He formed a strong squad of a young team, that played with passion again and
without star-affections. One year before, he coached Barca's B-Team and reached now the top of world's football.

Season - Grade: Very Good
There's no better time for a Barca-Fan or Player. They are the first spanish team that won the treble. They have the best player of the world and maybe the second-and-third-best player too in their squad. They have the best youth-system and the team plays a football which is far ahead of that of other teams.

Arshavin possible left wing top target

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Arsenal attacker and Russian international Andrei Arshavin (27) is becoming an option for the left wing, with Barcelona seeing the Russian as an alternative for Bayern player Ribéry.

Guardiola had last summer already given his permission to sign Arshavin and wouldn't object the transfer. Barcelona would think that a transfer of Arshavin could have a bigger media impact than for example the signing of Valencia player Mata.

Arshavin, who last summer was very close to joining Barcelona (read more here), wouldn't feel comfortable in Arsenal, also because of tax problems, and wants to join Barcelona.

Arshavin is nevertheless a key player for Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger and the English Premier League club would certainly ask for more than the 15 million euro° transfer fee they paid in January. Like in the case of Valencia player Villa, Barcelona would count on the player to put pressure on his club.

Read more:
Arshavin might become an option this summer
Barcelona wanted Arshavin as a substitute
Arshavin talks about failed Barcelona transfer

Bono put on the wrong shirt

Customer 1:
The concert of U2 was so cool, and Bono put on the Barça shirt with his name on the back.

Customer 2:
On the back they should have put "U2-6"...
That way he would have won over the whole Camp Nou.

(click the cartoon to enlarge)


see more cartoons here

Negotiations with Shakhtar on Chygrynskiy

Asked about the rumours linking Shakhtar Donetsk central defender and Ukrainian international Dmytro Chygrynskiy (22) with a move to Barcelona (read more here), Shakhtar manager Mircea Lucescu has repeated to journalists that the two clubs are negotiating:

"The fact we continue to negotiate with Barcelona doesn't mean that we will sell the player if we receive a new and better offer. It just confirms the fact that Barcelona is interested in our player and that our players have a certain value.

I think that the price that has been offered doesn't correspond with the real value of Chygrynskiy at this moment. I wouldn't like West European top clubs to think that it's enough to make that kind of offers to a club from Eastern Europe. The club has received a concrete offer but the plan is that no one should leave the team.

The Spanish press talks about 15 million euro°? I think that's too little, but that's my opinion and my valuation of the player, also based on the fact we won the Uefa Cup last season. If a great club shows interest in such player, they should make a corresponding offer. Besides that, the president's answer until now has always been that no player is for sale."

Read more:
Shakhtar rejects offer for Chyhrynskiy
Barcelona has been in contact with 22 players
Chygrynskiy main defensive transfer target

Jorquera very close to Tenerife

Madrid sports tabloid As claims that Barcelona goalkeeper Albert Jorquera (30) is close to joining newly promoted first division club Tenerife (read more here).

Jorquera would have decided that he will leave Barcelona if he gets an offer that will enable him to play in the Liga, while Barcelona reportedly doesn't count on him for next season. Tenerife would see the Catalan goalkeeper as a player with experience at the highest level, who can still perform well for three or four seasons and whose salary is within their budget.

Read more:
Tenerife interested in Jorquera
Three candidates to become back-up of Valdes
Malaga and Betis interested in Jorquera

Barcelona still interested in Chelsea left back Cole

British tabloid The Sun claims that Barcelona is still interested in Chelsea left back defender and English international Ashley Cole (28) (read more here).

After Cole turned down a renewal offer by Chelsea this week, interested clubs could start moving for the player. Real Madrid is said to be on the verge of making a bid for the left back.

Read more:
Agent Essien opens Barcelona door
Barcelona ready to make bid for Cole
Chelsea offers Malouda to Barcelona

Deadline for Filipe transfer

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona has set a deadline for the transfer of Deportivo La Coruña left back defender Filipe Luis (23).

If on Tuesday, Barcelona still didn't receive a positive answer to the 8 million euro bid°, Barcelona will consider the negotiations as cancelled and will focus on trying to sign centre-backs.

Deportivo would have received a higher bid from an English or italian club but the player reprtedly prefers to join Barcelona.

Read more:
Filipe hoping for a quick solution
Difficult negotiations with Deportivo on Filipe

Txiki doesn't know it anymore

I only know that I want to join Madrid.

I only know that I want to join Barça.

I only know...
that I don't know anything.

(click the cartoon to enlarge)


see more cartoons here

Works on new Camp Nou to start next year

Barcelona 'institutional and assets administration' vice-president Joan Franquesa has said in an interview with the club's official media that the club still wants to go through with the remodelling of Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium.

If everything goes like planned, the works should start during the 2010-2011 season, at the latest in the beginning of 2011.

Read more:
Barcelona considering to sell the pitch
How about the new stadium?
Camp Nou voted best sports stadium in the world

Zaragoza still hoping for Caceres loan

With Barcelona supposedly wanting to include Barcelona central defender and Uruguay international Martín Cáceres (22) in the transfer deal on Valencia forward David Villa (read more here), it's uncertain if the player still could move to Zaragoza.

Aragon regional newspaper
Heraldo de Aragón claims that Zaragoza officials told that a deal has become more complicated, although the club didn't yet give up on the Uruguayan defender and is closely following the events. Cáceres would prefer a loan to Valencia over a loan to newly promoted first division club Zaragoza.

Aragon regional sports paper
Equipo meanwhile claims that Valencia is not intererested in Cáceres and that Zaragoza is in pole-position to sign the player on loan. Zaragoza officials would already have talked with members of Barcelona's coaching staff, who think that a loan to Zaragoza would be good for the player to make progress and to gain experience.

Read more:
Caceres is a priority for Zaragoza
Guardiola agrees with Caceres loan to Zaragoza

Agent Mata confirms Barcelona interest

Asked about the rumours linking Valencia left wing attacker and Spanish international Juan Mata (21) with a move to Barcelona (read more here), the player's father and agent Juan Manuel Mata has confirmed the interest in an interview with Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo:

"I know about the interest of Barça because Valencia president Llorente told me about it. He said that both Barça and Madrid want him but that he's not going to sell. But in football, things can change in a week or in one day. As far as I know there could have been a joint bid for Villa and Mata and individual bids for each of them. That's what it seems like to me.

I've also been a football player and I can assure you that every player would like to play in a top team where they can win everything. And everybody also wants to get a better financial deal. I don't want to talk about the last renewal offer we received from Valencia, otherwise I could say stupid things."

* Juan Manuel Mata repeated in an interview with Spanish radio station Cadena Ser that Barcelona has made two concrete offers: "I know of the interest of Barça because Valencia confirmed this to me. But the club says they won't sell to anybody. They're not willing to listen to offers for their players, and certainly not for Mata. Now there seem to be a new offer. The first one was an offer for him and Villa and now there's one only for him."

Asked about the first renewal offer he yesterday received from Valencia, Juan Manuel Mata said in an interview with Valencia regional newspaper Las Provincias that this offer is clearly not enough: "It's not at all what we thought it would be, although I want to stress that the boy is feeling very comfortable and happy in Valencia. I'll meet with Valencia next weeek to discuss things." *

Read more:
Valencia rejects offers for Mata
Next season's team (3)
Van Persie, Malouda and Mata next on the list

[2008] Van der Vaart would consider Barcelona offer

this post was published exactly one year ago:

Asked about the rumours linking Hamburg attacker and Dutch international Rafael van der Vaart (25) with a summer exit, new Hamburg manager Martin Jol has said in an interview with the club's official website that the player, whose contract expires in 2010, would seriously consider a proposal coming from the Primera División:

"My assistant Zeljko Petrovic has talked with him by phone and Rafael has repeated that he would like to stay with the club. He loves Hamburg. But of course he could think about a transfer if a club like Barcelona or Real Madrid would make an offer. He has already indicated that in the past. Normally you know more around this time of the year, but in this case it's different. He's a very important player for us, but if he leaves we'll just keep on breathing."

Read more 4 July 2008 news:
Talks with Ajax on Henrique and Oleguer
Bid for Arshavin rejected
Barça B: Chico could continue and be promoted
Shevchenko prefers to stay with Chelsea

Henrique: "I think I can become a starter"

Bayer Leverkusen central defender and Barcelona loan out Henrique (22) gave an interview to Catalan sports paper Sport.

translated by: al

Do you think you can compete with Puyol, Marquez, or Pique for a spot in the center?
Since I was in youth teams, I always worked hard to earn my place. This happened at every team I have played in. When I arrived, few knew who I was and I ended up being a starter because of my hard work and humility. I was always serious about my work. With respect to all the players, I think that I can end up being a starter at Barcelona as well.

Martín Cáceres didn't adapt. Do you think you have the profile necessary to play in such a high risk defence such as Barca's?
I think so. I've seen many of the team's matches, and with humility, I have to say that I see myself in the central position. I'm fast and one of my best characteristics is dribbling the ball all the way from the back. It's what I like best, because you create superiority from the back.

That is one of the characteristics that Guardiola values in a central defender...
I've always played like that, but at Bayer, the manager - Bruno Labbadia - wanted me to clear balls and play a long ball game. I prefer touching and dribbling the ball, and by doing that I got a slap on the wrist. I had to adapt to what I was told to do. I think that at Barca I can show my potential and my best football.

Is it true that versatility is one of your other strengths?
My natural position is the left side of the defense, even though I'm both right and left footed. This year at Bayer, I played in three of the four positions in the defense, I only didn't play in the left wing. It's interesting because when I played as a right back, they let me move up the flank to pass and help the attack with all the freedom I wanted.

What is something that stands out about the Barcelona defense?
It's true that all the praise goes to the attack, but we have a strong defense. There is experience, from players like Puyol and Marquez, and they are fast. It's hard to say what stands out. Barcelona was able to defend as a unit.

How did you experience this magical season?
Since I signed for Barca a year ago, I had always felt like a part of this winning project. I followed the team and many of its little details this season, up until they won everything. I became very happy with each victory. I did all my work in Germany thinking about Barca.

What characteristic of the team caught your attention?
The unity and the spirit of the group. Everybody that knows football knows that this team is very united and solidary and that they work well on the pitch. This is what allowed Barca to win every title. It's a compact team where everybody runs and can mark.

What did they say in Germany about the treble, or in Brazil, in this case?
It's a unanimous thought. Barca is the greatest team in the world. It's something that was made clear during the season and everybody has seen this in Brazil, Germany, and in the whole world.

And how do you keep on being motivated?
Motivation depends solely on the player. Whoever knows the taste of titles, wants to win more. Relaxation doesn't exist, and nobody should doubt that this team is hungry for more titles. To me, there is no doubt: I'll do everything to win.

this was the second and last part of this interview, you can read the first part here:
Henrique: "I feel ready for Barca"

Read more:
Henrique could be included in Bruno Alves deal
Galatasaray interested in four Barcelona players
Will Henrique return from loan?

Last-minute change to Marquez renewal offer

Madrid sports tabloid As claims that Barcelona has made a last-minute change to the contract renewal offered to Barcelona central defender and Mexican international Rafael Márquez (30), whose current contract expires next summer.

While Márquez had initially asked for an extra three years with the last year being optional and a deal seemed to have been found for an extra two years, the player's agent Enrique Nieto would yesterday morning have been offered during a meeting in the Camp Nou offices to sign a contract for only one extra year plus an optional second year.

* Catalan newspaper El Periodico claims that the negotiations between Barcelona and the player went on yesterday and that there's still no deal. The economic side of the deal wouldn't cause any problems but there's still no agreement on the duration of the contract: Barcelona would offer only one extra year, while Márquez would want two more years. *

Catalan sports paper Sport on the other hand claims that Márquez didn't sign like expected the contract renewal for two more years yesterday because Barcelona president Joan Laporta and Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain didn't have time. The signature would have been postponed to next week.

Read more:
Marquez to sign renewal until 2012 today
Fiorentina interested in Marquez

Friday 3 July 2009

Ex-Barça: Sergi to Barcelona Juvenil B

Barcelona has earlier today officially announced the appointment of former Barcelona left back defender as the new coach of Barcelona's Juvenil B youth team. It will be the first coaching of the Catalan.

Sergi Barjuán joined Barcelona as a youth player in the 1988. He joined the first team during the 1993-1994 season. After nine season, he left in the summer of 2002 for Atlético Madrid.

With Barcelona, Sergi won three Spanish leagues in 1994, 1998 and 1999, two Spanish cups in 1997 and 1998, two Spanish super cups in 1994 and 1996, one European Cup winner's cup in 1997 and one European super cup in 1997.

Read more:
Ex-Barça: Motta to Inter Milan
Ex-Barça: Stoichkov to Mamelodi Sundowns
Ex-Barça: Saviola to Benfica

Eto'o should be allowed to choose his own ending

by: Marcos

As the transfer silly season is boosted by Madrid and their Monopoly money, the Barcelona rumour-mill is currently dominated by the 'will he, won't he' saga of Samuel Eto'o.

Presently there seem to be three paths open to him. Firstly, it is common knowledge that Manchester City have made a bid of around €25-30m, along with, to quote Laporta, a 'stratospheric' offer to the player himself. His second option is a belated contract renewal offer from Barcelona, a token gesture if ever there was one. The third, and possibly most likely option is for him to see out the remaining twelve months of his contract and leave for free next summer.

Barcelona appear to be pushing Eto'o out of the door and some fans seem equally happy to see him go, the most repeated reason being that it would be disastrous if he left for nothing. There's a palpable clamour among the Barca faithful to sign the Valencia forward David Villa and seemingly little appreciation for the contribution of Eto'o over the last five years. There is no doubting the pedigree of Villa of course, but the readiness of Barcelona to jettison such an integral part of their recent, phenomenal success is surprising to say the least.

The norm is for successful clubs to try everything to hold on to their key players, as United did with Ronaldo, Milan with Kaka and Bayern (so far to the greatest success) with Ribery, and herein lies the problem. Barcelona don't seem to regard him as a key player, a source of discontent for the man himself over several years. Those accolades fall to the likes of Messi, Iniesta and previously, Ronaldinho.

When you consider the success achieved during the Cameroonian's time with the club, it is easy to empathise with those feelings. His five year tenure has seen the club capture three La Liga titles, two Champions league trophies, two Supercopa's and a Copa del Rey. Samuel's contribution to that haul is a staggering 130 goals in 200 games, including a crucial strike in each Champions league final, equalling Raul as the only player to have scored in two Champions league finals and raising Eto'o to joint third on Barcelona's list of all-time scorers.

His goal in this years final against Manchester United proved that he is not just a poacher either; many of his goals have been self-made and his ability to beat his man and shoot from distance have made him one of Europe's most coveted hitmen. His unselfishness on the field means he creates chances for others and he is willing to play from the flanks, as he did in Rome, so as to allow Messi to come into the middle. Allied to this is a prodigious work rate that is crucial to Pep Guardiola's exigent style of play.

Of course this is not to say that David Villa, or another replacement, wouldn't perform equally well given the chance. Barcelona's attacking play and the mercurial creative talents of Xavi, Messi, Iniesta, Henry and Alves means that whoever occupies that role is guaranteed opportunities. But goal scoring feats such as Eto'o has produced at the highest level and biggest of games are rare to say the least. The most the club could possibly hope for from his replacement would be to equal the Africans return. Even this would mean an outlay of between €40-60m and require the new player to settle into the team and area immediately. He would need to understand Barcelona's footballing philosophy and patterns of play instantly, and to show the necessary willing and energy to press and harry opposing defenders.

The other stick used to beat Eto'o are reports of him being 'problematic', and 'difficult' off the field. These problems appear to be verbal though, limited to bouts of sulking and the odd negative comment. By all accounts he is punctual, professional, dedicated and one of the best trainers in the squad. If he is difficult, it doesn't translate to either his or the teams performance's on the pitch, and there were few signs of unrest in the wonderful spirit and determination shown by Barcelona in last year's epic campaign. Indeed, if his troublesome nature off the pitch yields an historic treble, other European giants may be falling over themselves to sign every talented misfit they can find.

The truth is, if Samuel Eto'o were to stay at Barcelona for another twelve months it would not constitute a disaster. He is a known quantity, a striker who sweats for the cause and bleeds goals. His hunger to win the Pichichi each year would guarantee he gives his all and a wiser move for the club may be to buy a younger, cheaper understudy who can learn from Eto'o and cover whilst he fulfils his international duties.

Alternatively, would it be so bad to see Eto'o and Villa competing for that central striking role this coming season? Come next summer when his contract expires Barcelona would still have the opportunity to re-sign him, if desired. If not, it means he cost the club €24m and gave six years extraordinary service. He should be able to walk off into the sunset with the club and fans blessing.

There is an old saying that advocates 'better the devil you know'. Who would bet against Samuel Eto'o scoring the winning goal in the Copa del Rey final, or better still, in the Bernabeu next may?

Video of the day: Champions League goal 2001

Bruno Alves doesn't know what future will bring

Asked about the rumours linking him with a move to Barcelona (read more here), Porto central defender and Portuguese international Bruno Alves (27) told journalists that he doesn't know what the future will bring:

"I don't know what will happen. If Porto wants a transfer, if they think it's a good thing to let me go, fine. If not, I am not unhappy at Porto. On the contrary, it's a club that has given me a lot of great moments. We'll see what is going to happen. I could leave or I could stay, everything is open.

I think that I have been playing well and I could look for other challenges but there's a right time for everything. We're gonna wait and see to see if something happens or not. Apart from that, I am fine, I feel happy, we'll see what happens in the future.

You always work with the intention to get further and to go to better places. I have done a good job, I have worked hard to achieve better things in the future. Every player would like to play with the best teams in Europe and I'm not different, so I'm working with that objective. Regarding my career, I'm always looking for better and more."

Catalan sports paper
Sport meanwhile claims that Bruno Alves will be, together with Shakhtar central defender Chyhrynskiy, Barcelona's main defensive target if the transfer of Deportivo left back Filipe wouldn't go through. Although Porto has until now be referring to the buyout clause of 30 million euro but a deal woudl be closed for a transfer fee of 15 million euro°.

Asked about the rumours, the player's father Washington Alves told the paper that the Portuguese centre-back would like to have certainty: "Bruno is delighted because it's an honour that such a big club is interested in him. Although, there's the fact that he knows that he has an offer from one of the best clubs in the world and he's not sure about his future, so he starts to get worried."

Read more:
Henrique could be included in Bruno Alves deal
Barcelona has been in contact with 22 players
Talks in Portugal on Bruno Alves

Xavi: "I look forward to playing for six trophies"

Barcelona player Xavi gave an interview to Catalan sports paper Sport.

The Confederations Cup has finally ended and the next thing is the World Cup, that will have a clear blaugrana colour with you, Iniesta and Messi...
Barcelona is a standard. It's a privilege that the home-grown players are key players at the club and the national teams. To have a world cup with Andrés, Leo, Dani Alves, Puyol, Piqué or Busquets shows that Barça has done well.

They are the foundation of a team that seems destined to make history.
We know that Barça is in good shape and next year we'll have a great season. We're going to play for more trophies because we did well last season and we're looking forward to those three new competitions.

It all started with the European championships, what do you remember of that?
For us, there's a before and an after the trophy. The Spanish football players are far more valued because of it. We've lost our complexes. The team played with the talent they have within. Winning the title was good for our confidence and our state of mind.

Barcelona's national team players showed that confidence this season.
It's just that we saw that we could compete with whoever, with teams like Germany or Italy that have won several world cups. You see that you also can do it.

The Euro ends, you return to Barcelona and you meet with a certain Pep Guardiola who puts all his confidence in the former youth players. How do you see the contribution of the coach?
His arrival has been a total success. Carles and I knew him since we have been his team-mates. We knew what he was capable of and we were convinced that things would turn out fine... But not that fine! It couldn't have gone better. Pep is very detaillistic, enthusiastic, he gives everything for his ideas. For the philosophy of Barça, there's no better coach, with a way of playing, an attacking game plan to enjoy. I said at the start of the season that we were enjoying ourselves and he has ended up convincing us.

How were you able to hold that high level?
Because we really wanted to keep on winning. The group is mentally very strong. There's a good vibe, a good dressing-room. The little details are very well taken care of. It's not just Pep, also Tito Vilanova, the whole staff, the physical coaches, the doctors... Everything is being controlled and we should keep it this way.

A new treble is possible?
Why couldn't we dream about it? I already said it last season and we got it in the end. You can dream whatever you want, but it of course will be difficult. In the whole history of Spanish football, it has only happened once, although you also should be aware that we're playing for six trophies now.

this was the first part of this interview, you will be able to read the following parts in the coming days.

Read more:
Pique: "Cesc will end up wearing a Barca shirt"
Henrique: "I feel ready for Barca"
Xavi: "The Liga will be the best in the world now"

Keirrison to give press conference next week

Asked about his presumed transfer to Barcelona (read more here), Palmeiras forward Keirrison (20) has said in an interview with Brazilian sports site Globo Esporte that he will give a press confrence next week:

"Next week, me and my agents want to hold a press conference to explain everything. I want to tell everyone what is going on and how things happened in the recent days. It was all very sudden. Meanwhile, I'd rather not comment on anything.

Edmilson was right when he said I need to say goodbye to my team-mates and the people of the club. I want to talk to him, also to get some tips about Barcelona. But it went all very fast, things happened overnight, I didn't forget the players. I only could talk with two of them by phone, but I'll come back soon to say goodbye to everyone and thank them."

Keirrison is meanwhile staying with his family in Curitiba after he was released from training by his club next week. The Brazilian striker would be holding training sessions at a local training centre. Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Keirrison has also met with Barcelona player Henrique, who played last season on loan with Bayer Leverkusen.

Read more:
Medical tests and signature Keirrison next week
First formal bid for Villa
Official announcement Keirrison deal postponed

Bolton could try for Gudjohnsen

Greater Manchester regional newspaper Manchester Evening News claims that English permier League club Bolton Wanderers could be interested in Barcelona attacker and Iceland international Eidur Gudjohnsen (30).

Bolton manager Gary Megson is thought to have enquired about the former Bolton player last year and Bolton might now have been alerted to Gudjohnsen's statements that he could return to England (read more here). West Ham, Blackburn and Tottenham are also said to have been linked with Gudjohnsen, whose contract expires next summer.

Read more:
Gudjohnsen still didn't make a decision on future
Jaaskelainen is on the list
Gudjohnsen will most likely leave

Youth: New Juvenil A coach appointed

Barcelona has earlier this week officially announced that Francisco Javier García Pimienta (34) has been appointed as Barcelona Juvenil A coach.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Alex Garcia wouldn't be offered a new contract as Juvenil A coach and will get another task in the technical staff of the club (read more here).

García Pimienta, who was last season the coach of Barcelona Juvenil B, is a former Barcelona youth player, who made his debut with the first team in the 1995-1996 season. It is expected that García Pimienta will be replaced by former Barcelona player Sergi Barjuan as Juvenil B coach (read more here).

Read more:
Former left back Sergi to return as youth coach

Loan of Bojan definitely excluded

Spanish news site El Confidencial claims that Barcelona forward and Spanish youth international Bojan Krkic (18) will not leave on loan in the summer (read more here).

Bojan would always have wanted to stay but not at any price and would have asked for more playing time, especially in the league.

Barcelona reportedly accepted to look at offers. Around twenty clubs would have asked for the Catalan player while Barcelona considered to incude him in bids for Valencia forward Villa or Atlético forward Forlán (read more here).

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola would now nevertheless have convinced the player that he will get more chances next season if he keeps on making progress, which he can do best at Barcelona learning from more experienced top strikers. A source close to the talks would have confirmed that Bojan is now definitely not for loan this summer.

Read more:
Bojan repeats that he will stay next season
Laporta comments on the transfer market
Bojan will not leave on loan this summer

First formal bid for Villa

Catalan radio station Catalunya Ràdio claims that Barcelona has made late last-night a first formal bid for Valencia forward and Spanish international David Villa (27).

After having reached a principal agreement with the player (read more here), Barcelona would now have offered Valencia a transfer fee of 40 million euro° plus the loan of two players: Palmeiras forward Keirrison (20) and Barcelona central defender and Uruguay international Martín Cáceres (22).

The extremely difficult financial situation of Valencia, that for example still wouldn't have paid the salaries for the month of June, would force Valencia to sell at least one player this summer.

Read more:
Meeting with Villa
Laporta comments again on the transfer market
The contract of Villa

Selling Eto'o proves to be difficult


Signing Eto'o was difficult...

But un-signing him is even a lot worse!!!

(click the cartoon to enlarge)


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Arshavin might become an option this summer

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that it's not excluded that Arsenal attacker and Russian international Andrei Arshavin (27) could become a transfer target for Barcelona later this summer.

Barcelona didn't yet move for the player but the club would have noted the wish of the player to join Barcelona (read more here) and might again turn to Arshavin if other options for the left wing fail.

The Russian player, whose contract with Arsenal expires in 2012, wouldn't be happy with the unexpectedly high taxes in England, that make him earn less money than expected, while Arsenal wouldn't want to give in to his demand for a raise to solve the problem.

Read more:
Arshavin could be alternative for Ribery
Barcelona still interested in Arshavin
Arshavin talks about failed Barcelona transfer

Marquez to sign renewal until 2012 today

Both main Catalan sports papers claim that Barcelona central defender and Mexican international Rafael Márquez (30), whose current contract ecpires next year, will sign a contract renewal today after his agent Enrique Nieto met with Barcelona officials earlier this week.

Asked about the renewal negotiations, Nieto said in an interview with
El Mundo Deportivo that a deal is very close:

"There are some minor things left but there won't be any problems. I hope that everything can be official on Friday. It's a matter of details. Márquez is feeling very good in Barcelona and he wants to stay for a long time."

The paper claims that Nieto met yesterday with Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain and Barcelona director of football Raúl Sanllehí outside the Camp Nou offices. Barcelona would offer the player a renewal for two more years, until 2012, keeping the same fixed salary and raising the incentives.

Sport claims that Márquez' agent already met on Wednesday afternoon with Begiristain in the Camp Nou offices and that a pre-agreement was reached. The Mexican defender would sign a new contract until 2012, with an option for an extra year depending on the minutes played and on his performances. His salary would stay the same, but he could get extra incentives and bonuses based on the team results.

Read more:
Fiorentina interested in Marquez
Marquez will next week sign two-year extension
Marquez: "We have to reach higher, never stop"

[2008] Crosas can leave this summer

this post was published exactly one year ago:

Asked about the situation of Barcelona midfielder Marc Crosas (20), who played on loan at Olympique Lyon during the first half of this year, Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola has said at a press conference today that he doesn't count on the player for next season:

"I have talked to him and informed him about my decision. We will try to find another club for him, so he can keep on playing somewhere else. If that's not possible, he will do the pre-season with us and will be a member of the squad."

Read more 3 July 2008 news:
Final offensive for Arshavin
Pique presented
Chelsea offers Malouda in Eto'o deal
Which B players could be promoted?

Shakhtar rejects offer for Chyhrynskiy

Asked about the rumours linking Shakhtar Donetsk central defender and Ukrainian international Dmytro Chyhrynskiy (22) with a move to Barcelona (read more here), Shakhtar manager Mircea Lucescu has told journalists that his club has rejected a first bid for the player:

"Negotiations are ongoing. The fact that Barcelona pays attention to one of our players means a lot. They insist in holding talks and trying to reach a deal.

At this moment, our reply to Barcelona's offer is no. Each player, as everything in life, has his value and Barcelona offered considerably less than this player should cost today."

Catalan sports paper
Sport meanwhile claims that Chyhrynskiy will be, together with Porto central defender Bruno Alves, Barcelona's main defensive target if the transfer of Deportivo left back Filipe wouldn't go through. Shakhtar would be willing to let the player leave for a transfer fee of 15 million euro°. Chyhrynskiy reportedly already told his entourage that he wishes to join Barcelona.

Read more:
Chygrynskiy main defensive transfer target
Barcelona has been in contact with 22 players
Shakhtar not willing to sell Chyhrynskiy

Mata is the main left wing target

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Valencia left wing attacker and Spanish international Juan Manuel Mata (21) is number one target of Barcelona to strengthen the left wing.

With Ribéry having ruled himself out, Malouda having renewed with Chelsea, Silva being not for sale and some people within the clubs having doubts on Robinho, Mata would now be the first option.

The Spanish player, whose contract with Valencia expires in 2013 and who has a buyout clause of 60 million euro°, is represented by his father Juan Manuel Mata, an official FIFA agents who is also the representative in Spain of Brazilian sports marketing agency Traffic, with whom Barcelona has good relationships after the transfer negotiations on Henrique and Keirrison.

Barcelona reportedly wants to move carefully for Mata because of the delicate relationship with Valencia after Barcelona officials met with Valencia forward David Villa earlier this week. The club would first wants to finalize the deal on Villa, and then try for Mata. *Catalan sports paper Sport confirms that Mata is an option for the left wing and that Barcelona could move for him, but claims that it's very unlikely that Valencia want to sell the Spaniard.*

Read more:
Valencia rejects offers for Mata
Barcelona has been in contact with 22 players
Van Persie, Malouda and Mata next on the list

Watch a video of Mata here:

Thursday 2 July 2009

Is Lionel Messi the Best Player in History?

Barcelona president Joan Laporta recently stated in a press conference that his team's biggest star Lionel Messi is the best player in the history of the beautiful game.

The fact that Laporta has given Messi the cut above greats like Maradona, Pele, Zidane and Cruyff has irked many. Many have even charged him with disrespect towards the legends. But how can they blame him?

What the people criticising Laporta for his remarks keep forgetting is that at 22, Messi has already achieved far more than any of the above named players did at that young age (barring, perhaps, Pele, who had won the World Cup with Brazil when he was just 17 years old).

He has already won three La Ligas, one Copa del Rey and one Champions League with Barcelona and an Olympic gold medal with Argentina.

He scored his first professional goal at the age of 17, won his first professional title in the same season and he was also selected as both the FIFPro and World Soccer Magazine Young Player of the Year for three years running from 2005–2008.

What they also forget is that at this age, Messi has already taken up the mantle to be the face of the club he represents. It is an undeniable fact that when a person thinks of FC Barcelona, the first person that comes to mind from the current team is Messi.

Which of the above named players have, at such a young age, been the face of their respective clubs? Which of them has already been indispensable to the team they represent? And, most importantly, which of them has ever won the treble? The answer is, of course, none.

At 22, Diego Maradona was still hopping clubs. He joined Barcelona when he was 23, and never won the Champions League or the La Liga. Two years later, he demanded a transfer to Napoli, and there, at 26, Maradona finally came into his own.

Zinedine Zidane scored his first professional goal at the age of 19, which was the age at which Messi scored a hat-trick against Real Madrid. He did not win any trophies until he was 23, when his team, Bordeaux won the 1995 Intertoto Cup.

Johan Cruyff won his first Cup and League double with Ajax when he was 20 years old. At this age, Messi had already won two La Liga titles with Barcelona, and been part of the team that won the 2006 Champions League.

Pele was, arguably the closest to Messi in terms of achievements at such a young age. He won his first World Cup trophy with Brazil in 1958 and his second in 1962, at the ages of 17 and 21 respectively. However, Pele spent his career in the Brazilian League, which everyone will admit, was never as competitive as the leagues in Europe.

Which brings us back to whether Messi is the greatest player in history. Certainly, if we go by his age, no one can deny that Messi has had the best career of any other football legends.

But it would still be very early to say that his career would remain as glittering and lustrous throughout. Anything can put an end to a footballer's career - an injury here, a few poor games there and good players are often forgotten.

However, it is fair to say that if Messi improves, or even maintains the level his game is currently at, he would definitely become the unquestionable best player in history in the not-so-distant future.


Video of the day: Cristiano and Florentino

Video by kiJux

Medical tests and signature Keirrison next week

Asked about the situation of Palmeiras forward Keirrison (20) (read more here), the player's agent Marcos Malaquias has confirmed in an interview with Brazilian sports paper Lance that the transfer has almost been completed:

"The contract is ready, but it will only be singed next Friday, after the medical exams that will take place next week. I am very happy for Keirrison that he will be able to join Barcelona and continue his career in Europe."

Read more:
Transfer of Keirrison to be closed in next hours
Official announcement Keirrison deal postponed
Barcelona could include Keirrison in Villa deal

Watch this video of Keirrison:

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