Latest Nigerian News | Naija News | Breaking News


My performance against PSG remains the best of my career – Neymar

Neymar described his two-goal display as the “best game” of his career as he inspired the greatest comeback in Champions League history Barcelona thrashed Paris Saint-Germain 6-1.

The Catalans became the first side to come back from a 4-0 first leg deficit as Neymar scored twice in the final two minutes and then teed up a 95th-minute winner by Sergi Roberto to reach the quarter-finals 6-5 on aggregate.

“This is the best game I have ever played. For what it meant, for what we experienced and because I am in great form,” the Brazilian told BeIN Sports.

However, the Spanish champions looked down and out when Edison Cavani volleyed home what seemed to be the clinching away goal for PSG.

“Before… we believed and now even more,” Neymar added on Barca’s chances winning a sixth Champions League.

“When they scored the goal we had a little dip but then there was the fourth and the penalty. We concentrated and Sergi’s goal came.

“I know that we have made history. A team like this can do anything. The game was lost and we went out to play without pressure and with joy, throwing everything forward.”

Barca boss Luis Enrique announced last week that he will leave the club at the end of the season after he was heavily criticised following their 4-0 humiliation in Paris three weeks ago.

And Enrique took the chance to round on his critics as he thanked the “faith” of the Barca players and fans.

“First we had the mourning and that was especially hard on one person,” he said.

“This victory is dedicated to all Barca fans, but especially those that had faith in their team even after a day in which they were clearly outplayed by a team like PSG.”

– Baby boom –
Defender Gerard Pique even predicted a baby boom in the Catalan capital set off by Roberto’s outstretched right leg sparking delirium among nearly 100,000 at the Camp Nou.

“I would say to the hospitals of Barcelona to hire nurses. Tonight people will make a lot of love,” said Pique, the partner of Colombian pop star Shakira.

“It’s a miracle. We are in the quarters, which was the objective before it got a lot more complicated in Paris,” said Pique.

“We never stopped believing, even the fans, who are normally the most pessimistic. It seems this new generation believes in the team more.

“We have done it all together and that helps a lot.”

Despite Neymar, Suarez and Messi’s heroics, it was Roberto who proved to be Barca’s unlikely hero as he choose the perfect time to score his first goal of the season.

“I threw myself at it with everything,” said the Spanish international.

“We left Paris very down and now this is incredible. We were prepared for all this. The fans were like 10 extra players and in the end this is all for them.”

And Enrique confessed he had questioned why Roberto doesn’t find the net with more regularity.

“I saw him score a lot of goals in the youth team and it is always a joke between us ‘why doesn’t Sergi Roberto score?’ And then he scores tonight,” added Enrique.

“This sport is indescribable.”


Source: AFP

Barcelona to play Manchester United in the summer

A Barcelona legends side will take on their Manchester United counterparts at Camp Nou on June 30.

The game had originally been scheduled for last summer, but several of the players due to be involved had commitments revolving around the European Championship in France, meaning the fixture had to be called off.

There will also be a return leg between the two sides, which will take place at Old Trafford on Sept. 2.

Managed by Jose Mari Bakero, Barca legends played their first ever game earlier this year in Querertaro against a team which included former Mexican stars.

Among the players to play for the Blaugrana that day were Hristo Stoichkov, Vitor Baia, Edmilson, Gheorghe Popescu, Ronald de Boer and Gaizka Mendieta.

Since that game in April, Ronaldinho has returned to Barca in an ambassador role and upon his appointment the club also said he would be involved with the legends side, although no players have been confirmed for the match against United.

Barca say they will announce further fixtures soon as they bid “to honour the many footballers that have worn the club jersey over the years and to help globalise the Barca name and values through former players.”

Manchester United legends, meanwhile, will play an all-star charity match at the nib Stadium in Perth in March.

Former United players, including Paul Scholes, Dwight Yorke, Denis Irwin and Mikael Silvestre, will take on the PFA Aussie Legends in a clash that will raise money for the Manchester United Foundation and the DT38 Foundation.

Barcelona Officially Launches Soccer Academy In Lagos.

The officials of FC Barcelona have lunched FCBEscola Soccer Academy in Lagos state, Nigeria.

The academy officially opened in the presence of FC Barcelona Director, Pau Vilanova and the Project Director of the FCBEscola, Franc Carbó.

The school which has been active since September 2016, is expected to enroll boys and girls between the ages 6 and 18.

It is the first of its kind in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa and would provide opportunities for potential footballers from all over the country as well as other parts of Africa, to receive first class training.

They would also receive training in English, Spanish, French and other Modern European languages, as well as General and Applied Mathematics, Humanities and Social Sciences, Creative, Technical and Vocational studies.

FCBEscola Lagos is modelled on FC Barcelona’s own youth system and students will be taught by the club’s coaches using its football methodology.


Source: Channels TV

BREAKING: Neymar loses final appeal, to stand trial for transfer fraud.

Neymar, Barcelona and Santos will stand trial on fraud and corruption charges over the transfer of the Brazilian forward after their appeals were turned down by Spain’s High Court today.

Neymar’s mother Nadine Goncalves and the family company N&N also had appeals rejected.

They cannot appeal against the Court’s decision.

The case stems from a complaint by Brazilian investment group DIS, which owned part of Neymar’s transfer rights and alleges that it received less money than it was entitled to when Neymar joined Barcelona from Santos in 2013.

Investigations were carried out in Spain and Brazil into whether any part of Neymar’s transfer fee had been concealed when he moved to Barcelona from Santos.

Neymar’s clubmates Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano were both convicted of tax fraud last year, while former Barca and current Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez admitted to fraud of almost €1m last month.

All three cases related to income from the players’ image rights.


Source: RTE

Luis Suarez to Serve Two-Match Ban after Barcelona’s Appeal is Rejected

Luis Suarez will miss the Copa del Rey final on May 27, after Barcelona’s appeal against his sending off  during their 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday  was thrown out.

Suarez has also been handed a two-game ban by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), for his actions after being sent off in the final minute of the game. This means he will miss the final and also the first game of Spain’s domestic cup competition next season.

Referee Jesus Gil Manzano wrote in his report, that Suarez was sent off for throwing his arm in Koke’s direction after he received a yellow card for a foul on Juanfran.

He also wrote that Suarez delayed his exit from the pitch, ignoring repeated warnings from the officials and then refused to leave the tunnel area when asked to do so by the fourth official.

The Uruguay striker was the third player sent off against Atletico Madrid, after Sergi Roberto and Yannick Carrasco also saw red.

However, Sergio Busquests’ yellow card for kicking the ball away, has been rescinde

Ronaldinho returns to Barcelona as ambassador

Ronaldinho has returned to Barcelona as a club ambassador, the La Liga outfit have confirmed.

The Brazil legend spent five seasons at the Camp Nou during his playing career.

Between 2003 and 2008, he made 207 appearances for Barca and scored 94 goals, winning the 2005/2006 Champions League and back-to-back Liga titles.

Ronaldinho eventually retired from football last year.

“FC Barcelona and Ronaldinho have reached an agreement whereby the Brazilian will become a Club ambassador and representative at various events and activities over the coming years,” a club statement read.

“Ronaldinho will also form part of the Legends project, a team of former players who, through matches around the world, will help to globalise the Barça brand and its values, and will take part in clinics, training sessions and institutional events, among other activities organised by the Club.

“Through FCBEscola, FC Barcelona and Ronaldinho’s football academies will be seeking different ways to collaborate both in terms of the brand and possible associations with the same. The player will also appear in the opening and closing ceremonies at some schools and take part in activities in which he will share his experience in educational talks.

“Ronaldinho will also take part in FC Barcelona Foundation events related to UNICEF. The Masia 360 project will be another one of the Club projects where the Brazilian will be present, helping with the training and coaching of the athletes involved.

“The agreement will be signed on Friday at 5.30pm CET at the Camp Nou directors’ box with the presence of Ronaldinho and president Josep Maria Bartomeu. Then, the media will be to take photos of the Brazilian star at the club museum.”

Nigeria’s Ezekiel Bassey joins Barcelona

Super Eagles and Enyimba FC forward, Ezekiel Bassey, has joined the Team B of Spanish giants, Barcelona, on loan until the end of the season.

The Spanish giants announced on Tuesday that they had “reached an agreement” with seven-time Nigeria League champions for the services of the young forward to join their B-team for the rest of the season.

It is understood that the agreement between the Catalan outfit and Enyimba also includes a purchase option for two seasons according to Spanish news outlet

“FC Barcelona and Enyimba Football Club have reached an agreement for the transfer until the end of season of the player Ezekiel Joseph Bassey for Barça B.

“The agreement includes a purchase option for two more seasons. The 20-year-old Nigerian striker will undergo medical examination in the next few hours,” Barca announced on their website on Tuesday.

Bassey, who can play as a forward or as a wide man caught the fancy of his new employers when the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) All-Star team went for a week-long tour in Spain following the partnership between the League Management Company, LMC, and the Spanish La Liga.

The former Akwa United man will be keen to hit the ground running as he faces the challenge with the Barcelona B team.


Source: Premium Times

Spanish Copa del Rey Round of 16 Fixtures Released

Real Madrid have been set up with Sevilla and Barcelona will face Athletic Bilbao in the Round of 16 of Spanish Copa del Rey.

Here are the full fixtures:

Alcorcón v Córdoba
Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona
Deportivo La Coruña v Alavés
Las Palmas v Atlético Madrid
Osasuna v Eibar
Real Madrid v Sevilla
Real Sociedad v Villarreal
Valencia v Celta Vigo

First leg fixtures will take place on 4 January with reverse fixtures on 11 January at 9pm Nigerian time.

Arsenal got Bayern again. See the Champions League Draw [Full List] #UCLDraw

Arsenal will meet Bayern Munich while defending champions Real Madrid take on SS Napoli in the round of 16 of 2016/2017 UEFA Champions League.

The draws, held at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, on Monday saw Bayern Munich drawn against Arsenal.

Arsenal met Bayern Munich in the round of 16 in the 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 seasons with the Bundesliga champions emerging victorious on both occasions.

Paris Saint-Germain will take on Barcelona, while English Premier League champions Leicester will square off against Sevilla.

FC Porto will face Serie A champions Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and Benfica will go head-to-head while AS Monaco will take on Manchester City.

The first legs of the round of 16 will take place on the 14th,15th, 21st and 22nd of February, 2017.

The pairings

AS Monaco Vs Manchester City

Arsenal Vs Bayern Munich

FC Porto Vs Juventus

Bayern Leverkusen Vs Atletico Madrid

PSG Vs FC Barcelona

Sevilla Vs Leicester

Real Madrid Vs Napoli

Benfica Vs Dortmund

Barcelona Star Neymar Faces Two Years In Prison Over Transfer Corruption

Brazil and Barcelona star Neymar could end up in jail after Spanish prosecutors recommended that he be sent to prison for two years for his part in a corruption case over his transfer from Brazilian club Santos in 2013.

Judge Jose Perals also called for a five-year sentence for former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell and a fine of 8.4million euros (£7.2m) for the club, according to the BBC.

Rosell, Neymar and Neymar’s father are set to stand trial.

The case is as a result of a complaint by a Brazilian company which owned 40% of Neymar’s transfer rights and complained that it was not given its fair share from the transfer fee.

The club struck a deal with prosecutors in June to settle a separate case, paid a £4.7m fine and avoided trial on charges of tax evasion over the transfer.

Barcelona Reveal New €220m Shirt Sponsor Deal

Barcelona will have a new name on the front of their jerseys from the start of the 2017-18 season with Rakuten becoming their new sponsor as part of an initial four-year deal worth an estimated €220 million.

Founded in 1997, Rakuten are the largest eCommerce company in Japan, and started expanding outside their home country in 2005 and are eager to further expand their worldwide reach through one of La Liga’s biggest names.

“As FC Barcelona’s Main Global Partner, Rakuten is set to power our global brand strategy and, as FCB’s first-ever Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner, we are looking to bring the collective power of our brands like Viber, Wuaki, Ebates, Kobo, and PriceMinister to build an innovation framework that will deliver innovative solutions and services to fans, members and players,” said Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten will replace Qatar Airways as the main sponsor of Barcelona, having taken on the role in 2013. Qatar Airways extended their deal at the end of the 2015-16 season for an additional year.

“I am very excited about joining the Barça community as I have personally followed the team for decades and have long admired their unique playing style and professionalism, their commitment to success and their culture of nurturing young talent – all values we share at Rakuten.”

Messi ‘rejects new Barcelona contract after worries over tax fraud legal issues’.

LIONEL MESSI has rejected a new Barcelona deal.

Spanish daily Marca report that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner said no to a contract renewal in July over concerns regarding his tax fraud case.

Messi was given a 21-month sentence after being found guilty of three counts of tax evasion but did not serve time behind bars.

The Argentina superstar, widely regarded as the world’s greatest footballer, is tied down to Barcelona until 2018.

Marca claim Messi decided not to renew in the second week of July, when he was pictured on holiday with his family.

It is believed that Messi’s father Jorge and his advisers acted as messengers, passing on the forward’s decision to club bosses.

Marca report that Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu received the news with “understandable shock”.

Messi has recently endured a tough time with Argentina, urging his team-mates to get out of their “s*** situation”.

That came after his Barcelona team-mate Neymar scored in the Samba Boys’ 3-0 win over Messi’s side last week.

Barcelona return to action following the international break against Malaga on Saturday afternoon.

Iwobi Will Reject Barcelona Millions To Stay At Arsenal – Father

Alex Iwobi will turn down a big-money move to mighty Barcelona to stay at Arsenal because he is still learning the trade, according to his father.

The 20-year-old Nigeria international has been at ‘The Gunners’ since he was six and he is now a first teamer.

His father, Chuka, said his son is still developing at the top London club and would rather stay put there.

“In football, you never say no. But at this point in time, he is at the right place. He’s doing well at Arsenal, but should any club come for him now, the answer would certainly be no,” said Iwobi senior, a lawyer, who also played semi-professionally in Nigeria for Vasco da Gama of Enugu.

“For him now, it’s not about the money.

“So, should a club like Barcelona come with more money, he will certainly stay back at Arsenal because now it is not about him making money, it’s about him concentrating on his career, progressing and going on to the next stage.”

He recounted: “I took him to Arsenal when he was 6 and they signed when he was 8. All he has known is Arsenal. He has never gone on loan, he has always been with Arsenal.

“He has broken into the first team and what they all talk about is his humility. Personally, that’s very important because when a player starts getting arrogant that’s when the player fails.

“It’s been good, God has been great.

“I see him being in Arsenal for very many, many years.”

October 9, 2016, was “an exceptional day” for the young Arsenal forward, according to his father.

“He scored his first goal for his country (vs Zambia) and he coped with the physicality of African football, you have to be strong to play in Africa,” he revealed.

Barcelona Ready to Make Coutinho their Number One Summer Target

Barcelona are ready to ramp up their interest in Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho – and are looking to land him for £65million.

That is according to Spanish newspaper Sport, who have put the Brazilian on their front page with Barca reportedly lining up a bid.

The report comes just the following morning after Coutinho and Barcelona forward Neymar combined to lead Brazil tao a 3-0 win over fierce rivals Argentina.

It has been suggested that the Reds playmaker’s long-standing friendship with compatriot Neymar, who has recently committed his future to Barca, could be key to luring him to the Nou Camp.

Coutinho has emerged as arguably the best player in the Premier League this season, scoring five goals in 11 appearances, which has helped fire Liverpool to the top of the table.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is desperate not to sell the Brazilian Magician, but Barca have now firmly made him their number priority for the next summer transfer window.

It is claimed the Catalan club believe a fee of around €75m – £65m at the current exchange rate – would be enough to land him, although Liverpool will surely hold out for much more given the player’s importance and star quality.

However, Barcelona are not the only Spanish giants hopeful of landing the former Inter Milan man, with their bitter rivals Real Madrid also keeping close tabs on the situation.

Neymar to face trial after judge accepts corruption charges.

Neymar looks set to stand trial after a judge accepted charges of corruption against the Barcelona star.

It is the latest development in a case brought by Brazilian investment company DIS following Neymar’s move from Santos to Camp Nou in 2013, which has come under scrutiny.

National Court judge Jose de la Mata initially threw out the case in July over a lack of evidence, but that decision was overturned and the charges are now set to be processed.

DIS claims it is due a 40 per cent cut of the fee that Barca paid to sign Neymar from Santos in 2013 – something it says it has not received in full, given the secrecy over the full cost of the transfer.

The Brazil forward’s father and Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu are also implicated, along with predecessor Sandro Rosell.

The case is unrelated to a second legal proceeding against Barca and Neymar, which concerned allegations of tax fraud in relation to his transfer.

Barca made a payment of €14.8m to Spanish authorities in back taxes and fines, while they also reportedly made a voluntary payment of a further €13.5m to settle the complaint.

Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez Accused of Tax Fraud

Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez has been accused of committing tax fraud in Spain when he was a Barcelona player.

Prosecutors in Barcelona allege the 27-year-old failed to pay tax on 983,443 euros (£888,246) between 2012 and 2013.

They say the Chile international used an offshore company in Malta to avoid paying tax on image rights earnings.

A statement published by his agent said: “Alexis Sanchez has fully obeyed the laws imposed by the countries where he has resided.”

It added: “He has paid taxes to all the local tax and revenue organisations. Furthermore, all of his personal and image rights income has been declared to all of those national tax and revenue agencies.”

Sanchez joined Arsenal from Barcelona for £35m in 2014.


Guardiola Could Return to Barcelona – Bartomeu

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu says Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola could work for the club again.

Bartomeu spoke to the Telegraph about a potential future return for Guardiola. “You never know,” he said. “There are so many people who were at the club, went, came back again.

You never know but right now he is concentrating on City. “I think he has a three-year contract?”

Real Madrid Doesn’t Need A Manager Like Me – Guardiola

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says he would not be a good fit as Real Madrid manager.

It has been claimed by Guardiola’s biographer, Marti Perarnau, that Madrid president Florentino Perez approached the Catalan to take over at the Santiago Bernabeu before sacking Rafa Benitez in January.

Perarnau insisted the idea was “out of the question” from the start and, on Friday, Guardiola made it clear that he would not be interested in moving to the rivals of his boyhood club Barcelona.

“I am a Barcelona fan, I don’t think Real Madrid needs a manager like me and I wouldn’t fit there either,” he said.

Guardiola is preparing his Manchester City side for their game at West Brom on Saturday as they look to end a winless streak that now spans six matches.

City face Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday but he rejected the suggestion that he would rest certain players at the Hawthorns.

“No, no, game by game, tomorrow we have to try again as soon as possible,” he added. “We have to turn as quickly as possible the situation.”

Guardiola was also unable to shed any light on the injury situations of Kevin De Bruyne, Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna.

“They are getting better, right now I cannot answer, sorry. I don’t know if they are able to play in tomorrow’s game against West Brom.”

Man City Is Guardiola’s Biggest Challenge – Puyol

The former Barcelona captain believes the Spaniard will “change football in England” and that he isn’t afraid to play direct football despite a penchant for a passing style

Former Barcelona captain Carles Puyol believes Pep Guardiola has taken on his greatest challenge in the Manchester City job.

Puyol enjoyed four successful seasons under Guardiola at Camp Nou, winning three LaLiga titles and the Champions League in 2009 and 2011.

Guardiola then went on to enjoy further success with Bayern Munich, lifting the Bundesliga trophy in each of his three seasons, although glory on the European stage eluded him.


Now at City, Guardiola has made a strong start to his tenure, winning his first 10 matches in all competitions before a 3-3 Champions League draw at Celtic preceded a 2-0 loss at title rivals Tottenham.

After dominating in Spain and Germany, Puyol says Guardiola has his work cut out to repeat the feat in the Premier League but backed his former coach to oversee a cultural change in English football.

“It’s the biggest challenge for Guardiola but I think he will change football in England,” he said.

“A lot of people say football is different in England to other countries but the way Guardiola works and puts pressure on his players will change football here a bit.

“His biggest challenge is to change the direct style of football. Now in England the football is more direct, with big centre-backs. I couldn’t play there because I’m too small.

“Guardiola wants to start playing from the back with intelligent play from the goalkeeper. It doesn’t mean he won’t play long like against Manchester United when they scored a goal with three touches, but it’s the whole style. He is based on ball possession and playing from the back.

“I have seen his influence on the team very quickly. He is doing very well, he has very clear ideas which he tries to transmit to the players. He is the best coach I ever worked with and I’m pleased to see him in England.

“There are a lot of coaches worse than him. He puts a lot of pressure on the players but the players feel free under Guardiola. It’s tough but I understand football like that, I enjoy it.

“Guardiola thinks everyone can improve and play at a higher level – and every player improves with him. It also motivates the players to improve.”

Xavi Hernandez backs Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo to win Ballon d’Or

Xavi Hernandez has extended an olive branch to Cristiano Ronaldo by saying the Real Madrid star “has the numbers” to win this year’s Ballon d’Or.

The former Barcelona midfielder unintentionally started a war of words with Ronaldo in September when he said that Ronaldo cannot be compared to his former teammate Lionel Messi. Ronaldo retorted by bragging about the fact he’s won the Ballon d’Or on three occasions and mocking Xavi’s decision to move to Qatari side Al-Sadd for the final years of his professional career.

However, Xavi has not risen to the Portuguese international’s comments, instead of backing him as the primary candidate to be crowned as football’s best player for the fourth time.

“Cristiano has the numbers to win this year’s Ballon d’Or, having won the Champions League and the Euros [with Real Madrid and Portugal],” he said at the ASPIRE4SPORT Congress & Exhibition in Amsterdam.

“But I also think that it’ll be very competitive, because Messi will be there, of course.”

The dispute between the two players started when Xavi was recently asked to compare Ronaldo and Messi in an interview with Cadena SER.

“Ronaldo is a player of his time,” he said, “but the problem is that there is another player who has been pretty much the best player in history.

“Ronaldo is extraordinary but compared to Messi, for me and for everyone who likes football, there can be no comparisons.”

Asked about the comments, Ronaldo replied: “I couldn’t care less about what Xavi says about me, he plays in Qatar or I don’t even know where.

“He’s won every collective trophy, including a World Cup and the European Championship, but he’s never won a Ballon d’Or.”

In August, Ronaldo was named UEFA Best Player in Europe ahead of Madrid teammate Gareth Bale and Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann.

This year’s Ballon d’Or will be voted on exclusively by journalists after France Football ended its six-year association with FIFA in September.

That relationship had seen the Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s World Player of the Year combined for the last six years, with journalists and national team captains and coaches voting on the world’s best player.

FIFA have not announced their plans for the World Player of the Year award going forward.

My Son Doesn’t Really Like Football – MessI

Barcelona star Lionel Messi revealed his son, Thiago, has little interest in the game his dad has become arguably the greatest player in.

The Argentine’s plethora of individual awards, eight La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns seemingly are not enough to get the three-year-old interested.

So the Barca ace’s biggest challenge yet may be trying to get Thiago loving the game his father dominates.

“I don’t buy him many balls or force him to play with them because he doesn’t like them that much,” Messi told Telefe’s ‘Polemica en el Bar’ in his homeland.

There may be hope yet, with Messi saying Barca are working on a project for the players’ children to play the game.

“Let’s see if he gets hooked that way, it would be a good start,” Messi said.

Suarez Rules Out Neymar Leaving Barcelona

The former Liverpool striker insists there is no chance of the Brazil international leaving the Spanish champions despite reported interest from Real Madrid and Manchester United

Luis Suarez insists there is no chance of Neymar leaving Barcelona in the summer, despite the mounting speculation over his future.

The Brazil international is currently involved in a protracted wrangle over a new contract which has alerted the likes of Manchester United and even Real Madrid.

The 23-year-old’s situation has been further complicated by the ongoing investigations into alleged fraud and corruption relating to his move to Barcelona in 2013.

But Suarez, speaking after he and Lionel Messi scored all seven goals in the thumping Copa del Rey first leg win over Valencia on Wednesday, dismissed any notion of Neymar swapping Camp Nou for the Bernabeu or the Premier League in the near future.

“I am convinced that Neymar will remain at” Barcelona,” he said.

“The club supports him, and I am sure that he will play here for many years.”

‘Valencia Dressing Room Is In The Sh*t’ – Mustafi Apologises For Barcelona Drubbing

The defender revealed the mood in the dressing room after Gary Neville’s side suffered a 7-0 trouncing in the Copa del Rey at the hands of the world and European champions

Shkodran Mustafi admitted the mood in the Valencia team is horrible as he apologised to supporters after his side suffered a heavy 7-0 defeat to Barcelona at Camp Nou on Wednesday.

Luis Suarez scored four goals and Lionel Messi netted a hat-trick as Barca gained the advantage in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final. 

Los Che are winless in La Liga under Gary Neville and the coach has refused to resign in the wake of the trouncing, despite calls for him to do so and apologise.

Mustafi was sent off just before half-time with Barca already leading 3-0, and the Germany international refrained from blaming himself, insisting the players must show a reaction.

“We want to say sorry to the supporters and to the people who are working for the club,” he told reporters. 

“But you can’t ask for forgiveness without giving a reaction. It’s not the time to talk about other sides. 

“We have to lift ourselves up and that is not easy. In the coming days we have to front everything like men.

“I do not look at who made the errors. In the good and bad moments we are together as one.

“The dressing room is in the s**t at the moment, but I believe in this team, and that is why I signed for this club. We were a team last year, and we are this year.

“For many people this has been the worst game of their career. 

“We need to lift our heads like men and grow. The dressing room has to lift. The return leg is not to overcome the score, but to ask for forgiveness.”

Ramos: Neymar to Real Madrid? Football Is Unpredictable

The defender has admitted he wouldn’t be surprised to see the forward move to the Bernabeu in the future but ruled out ever joining Barcelona

Sergio Ramos has admitted “football is unpredictable” after being asked if he thought Neymar would ever join Real Madrid.

The former Santos man was reported to have met with a Madrid delegation ahead of the Fifa Ballon d’Or gala in Zurich.

The 23-year-old quickly denied such a meeting ever took place, while Barcelona coach Luis Enrique revealed last week that he expects Neymar to sign a new contract sooner rather than later.

That has not stopped Ramos from hailing the Brazil captain’s talents, however.

“Neymar is a great player who can make the difference,” the defender told reporters.

“Football is unpredictable and there will always be transfer rumours.

“But the one thing you will never see is Sergio Ramos joining Barcelona.”

Madrid supposedly see Neymar as the long-term replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been linked with Manchester United, PSG and a move to MLS in recent months.

However, Ramos is keen for the Portugal international to stay at the Bernabeu for many more years to come.

“As Madrid captain, I would like to see Cristiano here for many more years,” he added. “He is a real star.”

Neymar Returns, But Arda Out For Barcelona-Athletic Copa Clash

Luis Enrique’s side take a 2-1 lead into the second leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-final against and are boosted by the Brazilian’s return.

Neymar is set to return to action for Barcelona in Wednesday’s Copa del Rey quarter-final clash against Athletic Bilbao.

The Brazil captain sat out Barca’s 2-1 Liga victory at Malaga on Saturday with a hamstring injury but has been named in Luis Enrique’s 18-man matchday squad alongside fellow forward Luis Suarez, who has completed a two-match Copa del Rey suspension.

Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta have recovered from a bout of flu, but fellow midfielder Arda Turan is still laid low and will miss the match.

Holders Barcelona take a 2-1 aggregate advantage into the Camp Nou encounter against last season’s beaten finalists following last week’s first leg.

Munir and Neymar scored first-half goals before prolific striker Aritz Aduriz struck a minute from time to give Athletic hope.

Mascherano Confirms Tax Agreement And Will Avoid Prison Sentence

The Barcelona defender says he has reached an agreement with Spanish authorities over alleged unpaid taxes and blamed those who poorly advised him for the mess

Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano has released a statement in which he says he has reached an agreement with Spanish authorities concerning charges of tax fraud.

The Argentina international appeared in court in an effort to avoid a custodial sentence being handed down as a result of two counts of tax evasion.

Mascherano had failed to declare earnings in 2011 and 2012 which amounted to €1.5million.

Reports emerged in Spain earlier on Thursday to suggest that Mascherano had been handed a year in prison and a significant fine, but the former Liverpool man says an agreement has been reached with the Treasury which gives him “peace of mind”.

He has also suggested he could pursue legal action himself against the firm which he claims gave him poor advice and which led to the case being opened.

An official statement from Mascherano, published on Barcelona’s website, read: “I want to clarify some issues related to recent news about myself.

“As of today, I have reached an agreement with the Spanish tax authorities. As such, with the legal side resolved and with the confidence of having sorted my financial situation, I want to issue a short explanation.

“After agreeing to come to Barcelona, I hired a prestigious Spanish tax firm, with renowned professionals and an excellent reputation. In agreement with my situation, they recommended certain structures to me, all within the legal framework, always notifying me that the procedures were common, transparent and in accordance with the law.

“I was advised by said professionals from the year 2010 until 2014, when I decided to change firms before the process was opened against me and with evidence that my problem was no longer a possibility but a reality.

“My new advisors recommended I pay the taxes demanded by the Treasury, presenting what they called ‘corrections’.

“Now, finally and following a bitter delay, we have reached this agreement, which restores to me the peace of mind of having fulfilled my obligations.

“I’m a professional sportsman, I don’t have huge knowledge of tax or legal matters. As such, I lean on the people who handle these technical and, for me, complex terms.

“Throughout my career I’ve been an honest and responsible person, respecting my team-mates, the clubs for whom I have played and the countries where I have chosen to live.

“This situation I’ve had to go through has given me greater experience, from which I move on stronger and relaxed as I knew things were back in order.

“I reserve the possibility of taking action against those who made incorrect assessments and recommended things to me that were not correct.”

Turan: Barcelona Team-Mates Are Scared Of Me!

The winger says his new team-mates are wary of his temper after he threw a boot at a linesman during a clash against the Catalans while a Atletico Madrid player.

New signings are often the subject of practical jokes inside football dressing rooms, but Arda Turan has revealed his Barcelona team-mates daren’t cross him in fear of his temper.

The winger threw a boot at a linesman during Atletico Madrid’s clash with Barcelona in January last year, before swapping the Vicente Calderon for Camp Nou in the summer.

Arda Turan – who only made his Barca debut at the start of this month after the club’s transfer ban came to an end – has joked he now has a reputation inside the dressing room.

You could say his team-mates don’t want to put their foot in it…

Real Madrid Deny All Charges And Will Appeal Fifa’s Transfer Ban Decision

Real Madrid have confirmed that they will appeal Fifa’s decision to hand them a transfer ban for the next two transfer windows, insisting they have done nothing wrong.

Both los Blancos and city rivals Atletico were handed the sanctions for irregularities regarding the transfer of players under the age of 18, but Real have outlined the steps taken to ensure they followed the appropriate procedures in a new statement.

Atletico have also confirmed that they will appeal the ban, though both teams are free to continue signing players in the current January window.

“Consequently, Real Madrid will appeal this decision by Fifa using all sporting bodies, considering it absolutely unacceptable,” concluded Madrid’s length statement released on Thursday afternoon.

More to follow…

FC Barcelona Register 77 Players As Transfer Ban Ends

Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal are now eligible to make their belated Blaugrana debuts but the Catalans have also strengthened across all categories and age groups

Barcelona have registered a whopping 77 players following the expiration of the Liga side’s 14-month transfer ban.

The Catalans were sanctioned by Fifa for breaching rules regarding the acquisition and movement of players under the age of 18.

However, while Barca were prevented from registering new arrivals for the past two transfer windows, they were not blocked from doing deals.

Indeed, both Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal were signed last summer, from Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, respectively, and the pair are now eligible to make their belated Blaugrana debuts.

Barca have already lifted the Uefa Super Cup and Club World Cup this season and will now hope to retain their Champions League, Liga and Copa del Rey titles in 2016.

However, as well as strengthening Luis Enrique’s first-team squad, last season’s treble winners have also snapped up another 75 players across all categories and age groups, with the club’s ‘B’ team bolstered by six new arrivals alone: Jokin Ezkieta, Moi Delgado, Chemi, Robert Goncalves and Dani Romera.

Guardiola Hired, Sacked Same Day By Barcelona Over Offensive Tweets

Diehard Real Madrid fan Sergi Guardiola’s decision to write offensive tweets aimed at Barcelona came back to haunt him Monday when he was hired and fired by the Spanish giants on the same day.

The 24-year-old striker penned a deal with Barca’s B team but was sacked just a few hours later when angry fans of the Catalan club made officials aware of Guardiola’s Twitter tirade from 2013, reported.

His tweets had included “Allez Madrid” and “Fuck Catalans”.

“FC Barcelona has decided to terminate the contract signed with Sergi Guardiola, after finding that he had published offensive tweets about the club and Catalonia,” said a Barcelona statement.

Messi Out Of Club World Cup Semi-final

The Blaugrana forward is last-minute absentee for the match with Guangzhou Evergrande after coming down with an injury

Lionel Messi has been ruled out of Barcelona‘s Club World Cup semi-final as a result of renal colic, the club have confirmed.

The Argentina international had been training as normal in Japan and was expected to line up from the start against Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao in Yokohama.

The European champions stated earlier on Thursday that Messi is suffering from renal colic and will therefore sit out the game, while his involvement in the final or third-place play-off will be determined by his recovery.

Barca are already likely to be without Neymar against Guanzghou, with the Brazil star still short of full fitness despite returning to training this week following a groin injury.

The former Santos forward posted a picture from training with the caption “I’m back” but head coach Luis Enrique has already warned he will not take any unecessary risks over his fitness.

Ronaldo Doesn’t Deserve To Be A Ballon d’Or Finalist – Dani Alves

The Portuguese has been named among the finalists to win the award, along with Lionel Messi and Neymar, but the Barca star has now criticised his Real Madrid rival

Barcelona right-back Dani Alves insists Cristiano Ronaldo does not deserve to be a Ballon d’Or finalist, and says Neymar has become the second best player in the world behind Lionel Messi.

Both Messi and Neymar have been named among the finalists to win the award, along with the Real Madrid superstar, who has scored 16 goals in 18 appearances thus far this season.

Alves, though, does not think Ronaldo should not still be in the running.

“Messi is a bit ahead, because of his influence on the game,” Alves told reporters. “I think at this moment, Neymar is second best in the world.

“Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t deserve to be among the Ballon d’Or finalists. It’s not only about scoring goals.”

The Usual Suspects Messi & Ronaldo And A New Nominee Neymar, Make Ballon d’Or Final Shortlist

The original 23-man list has been reduced to just three names and includes two Barcelona players, with the winner to be revealed at a ceremony in Zurich on January 11, 2016

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar will contest the 2015 Ballon d’Or competition after the shortlist was whittled down from 23 names to just three.

Messi is the favourite to land the accolade, having led Barcelona to a famous treble last season, while Ronaldo is looking to defend his crown and draw level with the Argentine for overall wins.

Were he to pick up the Ballon d’Or at the ceremony in Zurich on January 11, 2016, it would be Messi’s fifth World Player of the Year title, more than any other player.

This year he is joined on the podium by Barca team-mate Neymar, who netted 10 goals en route to Champions League glory, including scoring in the final against Juventus in Berlin.

The Brazilian was also the joint-third top scorer in La Liga last season with 22 goals – and already has 14 this term – though his haul was put in the shade by those of Messi (43 goals) and topscorer Ronaldo (48).

For the sixth straight time, the final three-man Ballon d’Or shortlist does not include a single Premier League player, while it is a decade since an Englishman last made the final three (Frank Lampard in 2005).

The women’s nominees for their respective prize are the USA’s Carli Lloyd, Japan’s Aya Miyama and Germany’s Celia Sasic.

Barcelona Or Real Madrid Wouldn’t Win The Premier League – Pique

The Catalan defender, who has played for Manchester United, believes it would be too tough for Spain’s biggest clubs to win the title in England

Barcelona would not win the Premier League if they were given the chance to compete in England’s top flight, according to the Catalan side’s defender Gerard Pique.

The 28-year-old, who played for Manchester United between 2004 and 2008, says that neither Barca nor Real Madrid would stand a chance in their first season because going to places like Stoke City is “really tough”.

Manchester City have been knocked out of the Champions League to Luis Enrique’s side for the last two seasons, while Madrid and Atletico have both accounted for Manchester United and Chelsea recently.

Pique, however, doesn’t believe dominance in Europe would be reflected if Spain’s biggest clubs tried their luck in the English league.

“I think that if Barcelona or Real Madrid goes to the Premier League then the first year of playing there, there is no chance of winning it,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“I think [this] because if you go to Stoke, or other types of teams, then it will be really tough.”

The Spain international, who recaptured his best form last season as Barca won the treble, also feels that English teams would struggle if they had to make the move to the Mediterranean.

“It’s a debate – we could spend hours on it,” he continued.

“If Manchester United or Chelsea go to Spain then the same. No chance to win the league.”

“I Don’t Compete With Ronaldo & He Doesn’t Compete With Me” – Lionel Messi

Barcelona star Lionel Messi insists he doesn’t see himself as being in competition with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo despite the constant comparisons that exist between the pair.

As individuals, Messi and Ronaldo have dominated the game for the best part of the last decade, with the last seven Ballon d’Ors won by one of the two.

That’s expected to become eight in January, with Messi tipped to win it back from Ronaldo, who has won it for the last two years.

However, the Argentine is adamant he’s not spurred on by how

These are things that [other] people say,” Messi said when asked about his rivalry with the Portuguese international in an interview with Yahoo!. 

“I don’t compete with Cristiano and I suppose he would not compete with me — what I want is the very best for my teams and that’s what I am working for.”

More to follow…

Manchester United Move Appealed To Me – Xavi

The Spanish legend joined Al Sadd from Barcelona in the summer but he has now revealed that he would have been open to a move to Old Trafford or Liverpool earlier in his career

Xavi admits he would have been open to a move to Manchester United or Liverpool during his time atBarcelona.

The veteran midfielder joined Al Sadd in the summer, calling time on a glittering 24-year spell at the club he joined as a child.

However, he has now revealed that he would have liked to have experienced the Premier League, and says a move to United would have had particular appeal.

 “To be honest, the Premier League is a big attraction for any player. It’s brilliant – the stadiums, the pitches, the fans and how they live football over there – it’s all incredible over there”, he told Eurosport.

“There are many great sides like Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool. If I had to select one, it would have to be a club with a great history; maybe Manchester United or Liverpool.

“I know that there are clubs who have emerged quite recently, like Manchester City for example, but United is my favourite historically-speaking.”

Xavi made over 700 appearances for Barca, winning La Liga eight times and the Champions League four times.

Barcelona Win ECA Club Of The Year Award

Winning the Champions League, La Liga and the Copa del Rey ensured the Catalans were rewarded with the accolade in Monday’s ceremony.

Barcelona have been crowned Club of the Year for their treble-winning efforts in 2014-15 by the European Club Association (ECA).

Luis Enrique’s debut season was practically perfect as the Catalans waltzed to the Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey clean sweep, following a phenomenal second half of the season.

Blowing their chance of claiming a much-vaunted sextet by losing the Spanish Super Cup to Athletic Bilbao didn’t affect Barca’s chances of claiming the accolade at Monday’s ECA award ceremony in Geneva.

Europa League runners up Dnipro were also rewarded with the Best Sporting Progress award for reaching the final of the second-tier continental competition against all odds and expectations.

The Best Community and Social Responsibility Programme reward went to Arsenal for their efforts in working with the local London community to tackle the growing level of youth employment in the area.

The fourth and final ECA award for 2015, Best Achievement, went to Estonian side Levadia Tallinn for their “Together we move” scheme aimed at improving stadium accessibility for fans who require assistance dogs.

Pedro: I Won’t Be Missed At Barcelona

The new Chelsea signing believes Luis Enrique’s squad boasts more than enough quality to cope without him and admits facing them would be difficult

New Chelsea signing Pedro does not believe he will be missed at Barcelona due to his former club’s quality within the team.

The Spain international enjoyed a memorable debut for the Blues when he scored in the 3-2 victory over West Brom after completing his transfer from the European champions last week, having grown tired of a role among the substitutes at Camp Nou.

Speaking at a farewell press conference, the 28-year-old claimed he never thought the time would come to leave Barca but accepts his absence will not be keenly felt.

“At the start it felt strange to wear the Chelsea shirt, because I had never imagined I would leave Barca,” Pedro said.

“I’m going with my head held high. I have always given my best, in every game and every training session. But I’m happy with what I have achieved and everything I have learned from my team-mates.

“I don’t think the team will miss me as there are great players here. I will miss them though, that’s the sad part.”

Pedro lifted five Liga titles and three Champions Leagues in a glittering career at Camp Nou but he was reticent to name a favourite moment.

“There are many [great memories]; it’s hard to single out one. I have shared so many great times with some great players,” he said.

The Tenerife-born forward also underlined that the Barca board were eager for him to stay at the club, before admitting that facing his old team-mates would be an unwelcome feeling.

“The board and the staff at Barcelona insisted that I stay, and for that I thank them,” Pedro added.

“I prefer not to return to the Camp Nou wearing another shirt. It would be strange. But if that’s what destiny holds…”

Verratti: I’m Open To Premier League Move But Barcelona’s Interest Is Flattering

The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder stresses that he is happy at Parc des Princes but would consider a new league and is appreciative of the Catalan giants’

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti says that the Premier League would be an option for him if he were to leave the French club.

The Italy international is on Barcelona’s wishlist for 2016 after some impressive performances for the Ligue 1 champions and admits that he admires the Catalans’ style of play.

Asked by Goal if England might suit him, Verratti stressed his happiness at Parc des Princes but confirmed his openness to a challenge overseas.

“You never know what the future brings,” he remarked. “I am fine where I am now and I am not thinking about a transfer.

“I will consider my options the day I no longer feel good at PSG or when the club wants to sell me but England, Spain and Italy are all options. What matters most is the project.”

Verratti’s agent has previously indicated that the midfielder would relish the chance to play for Barca and the 22-year-old confessed his admiration for the Spanish champions.


Neymar Deserves Uefa Award Over Ronaldo – Luis Enrique

The Barcelona boss argued that the top three places in the Best Player in Europe gong should go to his all-star forward line and talked up the threat posed by Supercopa rivals Athletico madrid


Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique believes that Neymar was more deserving of a place in the top three of the Uefa Best Player in Europe award than Cristiano Ronaldo.

The governing body announced on Wednesday that the Real Madrid star would be on the podium alongside Barca stars Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.

However, the former Celta Vigo boss believes the Brazilian forward would have been a better choice than the Portuguese attacker, following his exploits in Barca’s treble-winning campaign.

“Who decided that Neymar isn’t one of the candidates for the Uefa trophy?” he asked at a press conference.

“I think it should be Neymar, Messi and Suarez, without a doubt.”

Luis Enrique went on to say that he feels his side are the team to beat in Spain and in Europe as he prepares for the first leg of their Supercopa tie against Athletic Bilbao on Friday.

“The pre-season schedule was set up so we can be the best we can be,” he said. “We have to be competitive from the start of the season and still be the team to beat. I would also say the same in Europe.

“The sextuple is a goal we have in mind and one that motivates us but we are focused on is winning the fifth title first – the sixth is still far away.”

Luis Enrique is expecting a tough game against Athletic and feels the Basques could try to man-mark Lionel Messi.

“Both teams know each other well, it [man-marking Messi] may be an option, but there are others,” said the former Camp Nou midfielder.

“They press very well and always make things difficult for their opponents. It will be an uncomfortable match and it will only be resolved over the two games.”

Luis Enrique: Pedro’s Future In His Own Hands

The attacker seems destined to continue his career at Manchester United, but the Barcelona coach has insisted the final decision is all his


Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has stressed Pedro‘s future is in his own hands as Manchester United remain keen to sign the forward.

Pedro, 28, handed in a transfer request on Tuesday, mere hours before scoring the extra-time winner in Barca’s thrilling 5-4 European Supercup success over Sevilla.

United have already reached an agreement with Barcelona over a transfer fee and now it’s up to the Spain international whether he indeed wants to move to Old Trafford.

“We’ve heard his opinions, it’s a difficult decision that he has to make but we’ll wait and see what he decides,” Luis Enrique said at a press conference.

“He wants to leave because he’s not getting minutes but we want to give him minutes so it’s a difficult situation. I certainly want him to stay.

“I’m looking forward to the end of the transfer market so I’ll know exactly what I do have.

“I don’t want to get drawn into controversies, we all understand Pedro’s situation, he’s always someone the Barca fans will love because of his personality and his performances on the pitch.”

Pedro started Tuesday’s win over Sevilla on the bench, but Luis Enrique has suggested he could return to the starting XI for the Supercopa de Espana game against Athletic Bilbao.

“I haven’t announced my squad and I don’t base my squad around what’s happening in the transfer market. He’s available so he can play.

“He didn’t train for a couple of days because of thigh trouble but I know he’s in a difficult situation.

“He seems the same as ever. He’s always a very hard worker and we know he’s in a particular situation but there’s no change since the start of pre-season.”

Pedro Is A Magician – Mascherano

The Argentina international hopes that the winger may yet turn his back on a move to Manchester United after making the difference in the Super Cup


Javier Mascherano said that Pedro is “a magician” after the attacker’s extra-time goal gave Barcelona a 5-4 win over Sevilla in the Uefa Super Cup on Tuesday.

The Spain attacker is poised to make a £22.3 million move away from Camp Nou to Manchester United in the days ahead but struck a winner in the 115th minute to end a pulsating game in which the Andalucians had fought back from 4-1 down to force an additional period.

Mascherano hopes that Pedro, 28, might yet remain with the Catalans as he is capable of such decisive contributions. 

“Hopefully he can stay here,” the Argentine said after the fixture. “He’s one of those players who’s great on big occasions. He’s been a magician since he joined us. He plays for special moments like this.”

Speaking of the game, Mascherano was not pleased it became as entertaining as it did.

“Neutral fans won’t have seen such a spectacle before,” he stated. “But from our side, we feel some frustration. We had things in our hands but let go of it. We must improve things because we made mistakes that complicated life.

“We fell away and let them into the game. We didn’t control the game when we had to, but we had individual talent that let us win another title.”

Manchester United Target Pedro Can Play For Any Team In The World – Pep Guardiola

The 28-year-old Spain international is a target for Louis van Gaal, and the Bayern boss believes the forward would be a success at Old Trafford

Manchester United target Pedro has the ability to play for “any team in the world,” according to Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola.

Pedro, 28, is reportedly being lined up by the Red Devils who have agreed to sell Angel Di Maria to Paris Saint-Germain for £44.5 million

Spain international Pedro has been frustrated by a lack of opportunities at Camp Nou and Guardiola – who promoted Pedro from Barcelona’s B side to the first-team squad – is confident the forward will succeed if he moves to Old Trafford.

“Pedro has played millions of games for Barcelona … so that shows the quality he has,” he told reporters.

“He is a world champion; he is a European champion; he has won the Champions League and many league titles.

“There is no doubt about his quality and he has the ability to play in any team in the world.”

Dani Alves: Messi Convinced Me To Stay At Barcelona

The Brazilian has revealed that the Argentine argued that the right-back would not be able to find a better club than the Blaugrana, persuading him to sign a new deal

Dani Alves has revealed that Lionel Messi played a key role in his decision to stay at Barcelona.

The Brazil international looked set to leave Camp Nou on a free transfer this summer, with the defender having been upset by the terms and length of the contract extension he was initially offered by the Catalan club.

However, the former Sevilla star agreed a new two-year deal with Barca on Tuesday, with the option of a third season, and the right-back has explained that Messi convinced him to commit his future to the treble-winners.

“Messi said to me: ‘Dani, stay, where you are going to feel better than you do here?'” the Selecao star told reporters on Wednesday.

“Long ago we talked about how well we were living at this club. We have wonderful things in this city, gorgeous weather, and all of this influenced our decisions.

“Messi and I had the same conversation a year ago when it was said someone wanted to sign the two of us and we discussed that we would never have it so good anywhere else.

“As I said at the treble celebration [on Sunday], and as I said many times before, I’m just in the place where I feel loved.

“For a few moments I had doubts but the other day it was very clear that most people here love me and value me, and that was one of the things that made me decide to stay.

“I always follow my heart. My heart was asking me to stay here and I still have many things to offer.

“I have the best group of colleagues, I have never seen a group with such connection and that helped in making the decision.

“A number of positive factors that have led me to make this decision.”

Indeed, Dani Alves revealed that his future had also been linked with that of coach Luis Enrique, who extended his contract with Barca until 2017 on the same day.

“Luis Enrique has been someone who selected me when there were people who doubted about me,” the 32-year-old added.

“At the beginning of the season when I was thinking about staying or going, he said something to me at the end of a game that left a real impression on me

“He said, ‘Dani, stay because we are going to enjoy this year.’

“Luis Enrique has influenced my decision because I like working with people of his nature. I see myself in him.

“I also renewed because Luis Enrique renewed. He has returned this club to the highest level. He has given us the hope and the possibility to get the treble and fight for the sextet!

“I think his renewal is well deserved. Our success has so much to do with him. People doubted him too but he and his staff have put Barca back on top.”

Alves also denied that the protracted and sometimes bitter nature of his contract talks have negatively affected his relationship with Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

“It was not a fight between Dani Alves and the club,” he added. “It was not a question of financial considerations. If it were only a matter of money, I would not still be here.

“I followed my heart and my heart told me that I had to stay at this club.

“I do not have a bad relationship with the president. On the contrary, I have a very good relationship but everyone tries to defend their rights, and it was just a process of negotiation.

“They offered me one thing and I did not want it. I asked one thing and they did not give it to me.

“But at the end we reached a compromise. I now have a two-year contract and will do whatever is needed to continue for a the third year.

“Next year will be better than this one and retiring at Barca is a possibility.”

Messi Isn’t Barcelona’s Only Piece Of Art – Luis Enrique

Luis Enrique says Lionel Messi is not the only “piece of art” in Barcelona‘s ranks after his team tore Bayern Munich apart late on in a 3-0 win in Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg.

Messi unsurprisingly stole the show as he continued his amazing season with a late double before Neymar made it three goals in 13 minutes in injury time.

However, the Argentine’s coach was eager to praise his entire side as they restricted Bayern to just a handful of chances and avoided conceding an away goal.

“Guardiola’s tactics were according to his style, his team and his philosophy,” Enrique said of his former team-mate. “And we played the same as we always do.

“Messi no longer surprises me. He has ambition and hunger, but I would not say Messi is the only piece of art at Barca. The work of the whole team was incredible on top of the fact we didn’t concede any goals.”

The Camp Nou win leaves Barca with one foot in the Champions League final and, though Enrique admits the showing could not have been any better, he is aware there are still 90 minutes for the Bavarians to conjure up a sensational shock.

“We are a little closer to the final now,” the head coach conceded. “It was the perfect result that takes us a little closer to Berlin, but we still have a second leg to navigate.

“I am enormously pleased with everything my players did. We defeated a team of huge ability. Their players barely had a sniff at goal and that’s just as pleasing. It was simply a brilliant result.”

Barcelona have a Liga clash at home to David Moyes’ Real Sociedad – whom they lost to in their first game of 2015 – to look forward to before travelling to face Bayern in next Tuesday’s second leg at the Allianz Arena.

Champions League Draw: Barcelona Face Bayern Munich, Real Madrid Take On Juventus

Barcelona will take on Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-finals while Real Madrid have drawn Juventus.

Luis Enrique’s side defeated Paris Saint-Germain 5-1 to progress to the last four, but they will not face their fierce rivals, who ran out 1-0 winners over fellow La Liga club Atletico thanks to a late Javier Hernandez goal.

Barca will instead take on Bayern, with Pep Guardiola set to return to the Camp Nou for the first time since leaving the club to go on sabbatical, and the Spanish side will be out to avenge their 7-0 aggregate defeat to the German giants in 2013.

Bayern defeated Porto 7-4 over two legs to progress to the semi-finals, while Juventus beat Monaco to earn their clash with the current Champions League holders.

The draw throws up the possibility of an all-Spanish final for the second successive year, with Real defeating Atletico after extra-time last season.

Bayern last reached the showpiece in 2013, when they beat Borussia Dortmund, while Barcelona defeated Manchester United in 2011. Juventus, meanwhile, have not reached the final since 2003, when they beat AC Milan on penalties at Old Trafford.

5 Things To Expect In The UEFA Champions League This Week By Ifreke Inyang

Arsenal might come close
When Arsenal hit top gear and find fluidity in their game, their football is right up there. Like last weekend, when they battered West Ham, even without trying. I expect them to carry on against Monaco on Tuesday night. But it is looking a little too late for the Gunners. And the Ligue 1 side are a tough nut defensively – they have conceded just four goals in their last 17 matches.
City heading out

Manuel Pellegrini’s men were lazy and limp at Burnley last weekend. It appeared the season is over in their minds and they can’t wait to be on some random beach this summer. Elsewhere in Spain, Barcelona prepared for the second leg of their tie, with a comfortable 2-0 away win against Eibar. The signs are not looking good for Manchester City really.
Messi magic

Barca would have had one leg in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, if Lionel Messi converted his last-minute penalty at the Etihad. But they still lead 2-1 on aggregate and you would expect the little Argentine, to make up for that blip with a sterling performance. Of course, there is also the little matter of surpassing Ronaldo in the scoring charts.
Dortmund to overturn it

Jurgen Klopp’s men almost got a decent result in Italy, but were defeated because of silly defensive errors. With the return leg to be played at Signal Iduna Park, I expect the Bundesliga side to turn it around and progress to the quarter-finals of the competition.
Final eight confirmed

On Wednesday night, the last eight teams standing in the Champions League will be confirmed. Put a gun to my head and I will go for Monaco, Barcelona, Dortmund and Atletico to join PSG, Bayern, Real Madrid and Porto.

‘Ifreke Inyang tweets via @Ifreke

Ancelotti: I Was Surprised To See Barcelona Lose

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has admitted that he was shocked by Barcelona‘s 1-0 loss at home to Malaga but still expects the Liga title race to continue until the last day of the season.

The Catalans had been on an 11-game winning streak in all competitions before succumbing to an early goal from Juanmi at Camp Nou on Saturday.

Madrid then triumphed 2-0 at Elche 24 hours later – courtesy of goals from Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo – to pull four points clear of Barca, much to the delight of Ancelotti.

“It was an important game after what happened to our rivals on Saturday and above all to take a bigger lead over Barcelona,” the Italian told reporters.

“It is clear that their defeat surprised everyone, as Barca had been in very good form, playing very well.

“We do have a lead now, but as I have said many times this title will be decided on the last day of the season.”

Madrid were rocked by a 4-0 derby defeat at Atletico on February 7 but have since responded with three consecutive 2-0 wins in all competetions.

Ancelott was thus particularly pleased to see his players keep their clean sheet record going at Elche, in what was his 100th game in charge of the club.

“These 100 games with Real Madrid have gone well,” the former Chelsea boss added.

“But I hope to improve in the next 100 and with the attitude of this game we will win many more. We have been focused and everyone has worked very well. 

“After Atletico we have improved on our defensive work. Elche’s players have got great quality, but we have not allowed them to prove it. I had no doubts that we would win this game.”

Manchester City Know Barcelona’s Weaknesses, Says David Villa

David Villa believes Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has the knowledge to expose Barcelona‘s weaknesses in their Champions League round of 16 tie.

The Catalans proved to be too strong in the knockout stages of last year’s edition of the competition, but the former Barcelona attacker – who now plays for City’s MLS sister club New York City FC – is expecting a tight battle.

“I think it will be a very close tie,” Villa told the official City website.

“City and Barcelona are two of the best clubs in the world with great players so I’m sure it will be a very good tie to watch. 

“I’m sure that Manuel Pellegrini and all his staff know Barcelona very well. When you face this kind of teams you have to make sure that you make it difficult for them and try to take advantage of their weaknesses.

“Barca are in very good form. They win games, they have closed the gap with Real Madrid and they won against Atletico – a very difficult team to beat – in Copa del Rey so they are in a good moment.

“I think they were also playing well before but they didn’t get the results. You always have more confidence when you win games.”

The first leg is scheduled to take place in Manchester on February 24, with the return at Camp Nou on March 18.

Messi Admits he Could Leave Barcelona

Lionel Messi saw arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo beat him to the Ballon d’Or in Zurich on Monday and then reignited speculation over his own future by saying: “I don’t know where I’ll be next year.”

Barcelona and Argentina superstar Messi appeared to row back on his own comments made 24 hours earlier that rumours that he could leave the Camp Nou for Chelsea or Manchester City were “all lies”.

“I always said that I would finish my career at Barcelona and then at (his home town club in Argentina) Newell’s,” Messi told reporters after Real Madrid’s Portuguese icon Ronaldo lifted the world footballer of the year title for the second year in succession at a glittering FIFA awards ceremony.

“But I don’t know where I’ll be next year.

“As Cristiano (Ronaldo) said recently, football has many twists and anything can happen,” added the Barca talisman, who himself won the Ballon d’Or four years in a row from 2009.

After a superb performance in Barcelona’s 3-1 win over Spanish champions Atletico Madrid on Sunday, Messi had angrily dismissed talk that he wanted to leave after clashing with Barca’s manager Luis Enrique and the club’s board.

“I have never demanded anything to ensure that I stay because I never had any intention of leaving,” he told Barca TV after the match.

Messi’s relationship with Enrique had come under scrutiny after the forward was benched for the 1-0 defeat at Real Sociedad a week earlier. The rumours grew after Messi missed the first training session after that match, citing a stomach bug.

“I have heard it said that my dad has spoken to Chelsea or Manchester City. It is all lies. I have taken this chance to deny it so that everyone knows the truth,” Messi said Sunday.

But his latest comments are sure to regenerate interest from a number of cash-rich English Premier League clubs.

Manchester United are reportedly one of the few that could afford the buyout fee from his contract, reportedly set at 250 million euros (195 million pounds, $296 million), without falling foul of UEFA’s financial fair play rules.

With Messi commanding a reported salary in the region of 20 million euros a year the total cost of acquiring his services on a five-year deal could be a world record-shattering 350 million euros.

Credit: Yahoo Sports

Finding the Truth in the Lionel Messi Follows Chelsea on Instagram Mystery

On Monday,  Lionel Messi started following Chelsea. And then the soccer world went berserk.

The context of this impossibly minor 21st-century occurrence – Man Follows Something on Social Media! – does indeed add some levity. Although Messi is a one-club man – unless you count his exploits with Newell’s Old Boys back in Argentina before he hit puberty – Messi is said to be unhappy in Catalonia. How anybody would actually know this is unclear since Messi never ever speaks to anyone about anything. (He was so shy when he arrived in Spain that his teammates thought he was a mute for several months.)

But things are not well at Barcelona. New manager Luis Enrique has introduced a new, more direct style – getting further away from the tiki-taka, HORROR OF HORRORS – which doesn’t seem to suit Messi as well. On Sunday, Barca lost its third game of the league season at Real Sociedad. Messi sat for the first half. On Monday, he skipped practice with something written off as stomach trouble of some kind kind. Funnily enough, club stalwart Xavi had said only a few days prior that gastroenteritis is typically an excuse for some other issue.

Now consider that last November, the avid 27-year-old collector of ancient goal-scoring records had said that he wasn’t sure if he’d finish out his career with Barcelona. He was apparently angry about its handling of his tax fraud case and that new arrival Neymar was rumored to be making about the same amount of money as he was.

Nevertheless, this appears to he just another calculated ploy by Messi’s conniving camp. The tiny maestro has strong-armed the club into extending – and upgrading – his contract in each of the last two seasons, even though his original deal still ran until 2016. With his latest deal signed last May, he is now under contract until 2019, with a buyout clause of some $300 million – about 2½ times the world record fee paid by Real for Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

Consider also that Messi is literally and figuratively irreplaceable for Barca. Figuratively, because he is Messi. Literally, because the club is banned from buying new players until 2016 for wrongdoings in recruiting underage players like, erm, Messi.

This, then, is probably a play of some sort by Messi’s people, trying to get something done that we might never find out about. Maybe he wanted a better parking spot. Or that corner office.

Besides, you don’t think the hermit-like Messi actually handles his own Instragram account, do you?

Credit: Yahoo News

Ronaldo On Track To Beat Messi’s Record Of 73 goals In A Season

Real Madrid‘s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona‘s Lionel Messi continue to exchange heavyweight blows in their relentless pursuit of records.

During a remarkable spell in November, the Argentine scored successive trebles to become the all-time top scorer in both La Liga and the Champions League, beating his great rival to Raul’s mark in the process.

Last weekend, both hit incredible domestic milestones. On Sunday, Messi became the first player to reach 400 goals in La Liga with a hat-trick in the derby against Espanyol. Less than 24 hours earlier, Ronaldo had scored a treble of his own to bring up a personal tally of 200 in Spain’s top flight.

While the former Manchester United man might trail the South American in Primera Division strikes, he has established himself as the favourite to win the 2014 Ballon d’Or thanks to a remarkable domestic scoring streak.

In his 13 league appearances this season, Ronaldo has been shut out only by Malaga. While this in itself is a staggering statistic, the sheer weight of goals from the 29-year-old is even more astounding. He has 23 to his credit at a rate of close to two a game.

Throw in four more goals in the Champions League and another two from the Uefa Super Cup, and Ronaldo is on course to break Messi’s record of 73 club goals in a single season.

When that was achieved by the Argentine in 2011-12, it was a total that seemed impossible to reach. Although the Portuguese has played 21 times already this season, there are still potentially a further 40 games in which he could feature, should Madrid go all the way in the Copa del Rey, Champions League and Club World Cup.

Ronaldo’s current strike-rate equates to 1.38 goals a game. If he was to maintain that standard for the duration of a 61-match campaign, he would finish 2014-15 with 84 club goals.

“Ronaldo is doing very well at that moment, he is extraordinarily motivated and physically he is at his peak,” coach Carlo Ancelotti said of his star man at the weekend.

Of course, it is impossible for even a player of Ronaldo’s standard to remain in prime condition over the course of an entire season – and there is also the possibility of injury, too.

The Portuguese has given himself a healthy margin for error, however, as he chases down perhaps the most remarkable record in the modern game.  

Source –

Messi Suffers Hip Injury

Barcelona maintained their 100 per cent start to the season on Sunday, but their win over Villarreal could come at a price.

The Blaugrana beat the Yellow Submarine at El Madrigal yesterday thanks to a goal from young forward Sandro.

But after the match, Luis Enrique’s men revealed that Lionel Messi had pulled an abductor muscle in his right hip.

The Argentina international played the full 90 minutes, but will undergo tests today, with the extent of the injury likely to be learned on Tuesday.

The former Ballon d’Or winner endured a torrid time with knocks during the last campaign, and Barca will be hoping this is just a scare.

There was also bad news for Munir El-Haddadi, who bruised his right thigh. He also, will see medical specialists today .

we should remember messi had a nigglng injury for the better part of last season that almost hampered his progress and his teams success.